one image from mumbai (c.1989)

for me, many times and especially at times like these, the thought of mumbai/bombay chucks up this image: a young man jerking off in the men's room of churchgate station. people waiting behind him. sudden sniggers. i startled, look up, over the partition at this heaving shoulders. the man, unmindful of the mild laughter, and of, say, three hundred odd people around him, finishes what he was doing, fast. he steps out. somebody else steps in.

i couldn't laugh (it was my second visit to bombay), i was as old as he was, and it was the most terrible thing i'd ever seen. can you get lonelier than that?


v.p.singh, fakir

Shri Somnath Chatterjee: : One clarification. Now the Leader of the Opposition points out serious infirmities, according to him, and deficiencies in the report. Why did not his Government reject this report? (Interruptions)


An Hon. Member: Yes, yes.

Shri Rajiv Gandhi: You were also a Minister, now you are saying Yes-yes.

Shri Syed Masudal Hossain: Everyday you used to change the Ministers, that is why you do not remembers. The faces of memory?



Shri Rajiv Gandhi: Sir, we are taking a lot of time, with all these disturbances. This Committee never met again, and was never consulted again. What I am trying to point out is not that this report is worthless, and should be thrown away. Like I said, there is a lot of substance in the report, but to say that you will just accept it like that, without discussing it or without debating it, is not adequate. It needs more looking into. (Interruptions)

Shri Nirmal Kanti Chatterjee: What did you do for ten years?

Shri Rajiv Gandhi: Forget ten years We made a mistake. At least you should have read this report before making this announcement.

Shri Nirmal Kanti Chatterjee: Now, are you sure about it?
so, rajiv gandhi brought in the muslims, christians, sikhs, dalits and, of course, the only quality that objectively measures misery, economic class, to rip apart mandal, in his 'greatest speech ever', as many educated, middle class indians would like to remember it. the same indians who would again bring in ' muslims, christians, sikhs, dalits and, of course, obcs and..class' to pin the responsibility for mumbai (and india) elsewhere in a few days, i guess.

rajiv gandhi, who could open the gates to a centuries old mandir that never existed, wasn't able to see justice even if it stabbed him in the back like jai chand or v.p.singh. and brahminized india still can't forgive v.p.singh, the treacherous fakir, for opening another kind of gates.

india needs to look at justice, urgently. for everyone's sake. for the sake of those who were killed in mumbai, unjustly.


a dole in pakistan

a slightly old article in cobra post says:
Soon after forming his government, Punjab Chief Shahbaz Sharif announced the Punjab Food Support Scheme to help the "poorest of the poor". This, some insiders believe, was done to preempt the PPP's Benazir Ration Card scheme.

The 'hurriedly shaped' programme is worth 21.60 billion with the aim to pay to each of 1.8 million families, a money order worth Rs 1000. The scheme was formally launched on Aug 14, 2008 and will continue throughout the fiscal year 2008-09. [emphasis mine].
the details in the article are not very clear but i'd admit that this news makes me happy. shows that the pakistani politicians are wiser than many politicians from some so-called progressive states in india. from promising free television sets to free rice to free lpg- political parties increasingly speak like large retail stores in these states.

why doesn't anybody talk about a dole like the pakistanis? because a dole is most likely to be leakage-proof?

[please click on the label dole for my other posts on the subject].


on violence

i see this as violence: banks promoted by the government cornering most of the capital in the country to lend only to an exclusive few sections of indian society. how's that violence? because that leaves very little surplus capital outside the banks. and naturally, informal lenders who control this capital demand high rates of interest from the rest of the borrowers.

any solution that ignores the fact that most of the credit in the country is cornered by those banks to be lent exclusively to very few sections of indian society, ignores the whole picture- there is very little left for a very large number of people.

anu: that illustrates violence in its entirety, in my view.



i said welcome to the guest
he said-- i am a refugee
from a certain hunting party
the dove that's escaped!
i regarded him as only a mehmaan
i didn't understand- what do i serve him
i didn't understand- what do i serve him
i asked him what he liked
'eating with my family' he said.
like a dried well
what did he hide inside
is this food?
with frightened eyes that had lost trust
the smoke's still coming out from somewhere he said!
pecking at a few fistfuls
remembering his family with every morsel..
it didn't seem like he was eating- drawing
sorrow from the seas inside
he seemed he's here
but wandering elsewhere..
the brother lost..the sister taken away...
the families destroyed
the estranged watan...remembering in delirium
his lane razed
friends killed
villages disfigured
nation scattered
because two eyes weren't enough
he seemed to grieve with his whole body!
finally without making a sound
departing like he came, he said-
'bloodthirst is a dangerous disease'.

- my translation of the telugu poem mehmaan by shahjahana (first published in andhra jyoti in december 2007).


fund blogging, not reason

1. We need government-run schools because private schools aren’t up to the task
2. But government schools aren’t doing a great job either, the reason is that competition from the private tuitions are taking resources away from them.
3. Hence we should ban private tuitions.
i used to think almost like that, being an indian. but i'm learning:
1. we should fund schooling, not schools because this will build competition.
2. if the competition fails to appear in villages without bridges, the reason is that public transport is taking resources away from them.
3. hence we should fund transport not transporters.
you might ask: what public transport in a village without a bridge? well, if you can make competition appear in a village without a bridge... what do you suggest? the poor want education desperately and viscerally, so they'll cross the bridge when they come to it. meanwhile:
1. we should fund travel, not bridges.
2. if people still fail to travel, the reason is that books are taking resources away from them.
3. hence we should fund reading not books.
readers? in a village without a school? well, nautch girls then. or the local moonshine. to work around that:
1. we should fund drinking, not bars.
2. if people still fail to drink, the reason is that sex is taking time away from drinking.
3. hence we should fund sex not pornography.
what does funding pornography have to do with competition not showing up at the village without the bridge? who said anything about competition in the village? competition would spring up across the ravine. how would that improve access to schooling? that's again indian kind of thinking. my suggestion is:
1. we should fund thinking, not indians.
2. if indians still don't stop thinking, the reason is that they are not blogging much.
3. hence we should fund blogging, not reason.


skirting the question of land

whether it's the government trying to acquire his land or some large businessman, why do you think an indian farmer would always be cheated? because he isn't as smart as you are?

because he's of an inferior variety of the human race?

that's one way of articulating the brown man's burden. here's another kind: one that rests on the principle that the indian farmer shall always cheat. so, you've to save the honest indian businessman or government from the wily indian farmer.
The land market in India is so primitive that very often both buyers and sellers depend on the Almighty and transact business. Around half the operational holdings in States is plagued by legal disputes, most of which are on account of ownership. Sub-division and fragmentation of land holdings is a common phenomenon arising out of excessive emphasis on heritage rights. There are also state-owned land which, either because of misuse or abuse of power by revenue authorities, have been encroached upon. The encroachers, in several cases, have been given titles by default. Though reforms were initiated, defective implementation of land records again led to conferment of titles to those who used them for their own purposes. Such land also got titles conferred over a period of time.
a fair transaction could happen when both - the buyer and the seller- have ready access to reliable information. when both of them have to depend on the almighty as the only source of reliable information- because there are no reliable records on land- how do you judge, later, who was cheated? or arrive at any conclusions, beforehand, who'd be cheated?

the whole debate on singur etc., provides so much fun. no one looks at the questions- where's the land? if there's land, where are the records? if there are no land records, how can there be a land market?

if you believe in the market, reliable land records would be the first step in ensuring that any given transaction would have a fair chance of being fair. you don't believe in the market? good. if you have reliable land records, you could redistribute the land on the basis of the records.

so, why is everyone, from the left and the right, who's talking about land (in singur or other such places), not talking about land, actually? because they all emerged from somewhere above brahma's ankles? because if you have reliable land records, you would have to redistribute the land on the basis of the records?


will obama be good for india?

here are the results of a snap poll held across the country:
hyderabad: both of us had grown up in hyderabad so we had lots to talk about.

hoshiarpur: i got several good proposals.. finally i chose him.

chennai: we met for the first time at my uncle's house in chennai.

lucknow: my parents spoke to his parents and we're planning to get married.. next month.

kolkata: when he..first emailed, i knew that we'd get along well.
all of them seem to agree: india, if you want a better match than obama, please go here.


chandala age

shambhuka, smile on his lips,

is killing rama.

ekalavya with an axe

is chopping down drona's thumb

bali with his little feet

is stamping vamana down to patala

manu, piercing needles in his eyes

cutting his tongue

pouring lead in his ears

is rolling in the graveyard

standing on the butcher's knife of time

the chandala roars

setting four hounds

on adi sankara


this current age

is an extremely chandala age

my translation of sivasagar's naDustunna caritra (1994).


civil society and political society

a very interesting paper(pdf), by partha chatterjee- a key formulation in the paper 'is a split in the field of the political between a domain of properly constituted civil society and a more ill-defined and contingently activated domain of political society'. an excerpt:
Let me summarise my main argument. With the continuing rapid growth of the Indian economy, the hegemonic hold of corporate capital over the domain of civil society is likely to continue. This will inevitably mean continued primitive accumulation. That is to say, there will be more and more primary producers, i e, peasants, artisans and petty manufacturers, who will lose their means of production. But most of these victims of primitive accumulation are unlikely to be absorbed in the new growth sectors of the economy. They will be marginalised and rendered useless as far as the sectors dominated by corporate capital are concerned. But the passive revolution under conditions of electoral democracy makes it unacceptable and illegitimate for the government to leave these marginalised populations without the means of labour to simply fend for themselves. That carries the risk of turning them into the “dangerous classes”. Hence, a whole series of governmental policies are being, and will be, devised to reverse the effects of primitive accumulation. This is the field in which peasant societies are having to redefine their relations with both the state and with capital. Thus far, it appears that whereas many new practices have been developed by peasants, using the mechanisms of democratic politics, to claim and negotiate benefits from the state, their ability to deal with the world of capital is still unsure and inadequate. This is where the further development of peasant activities as non-corporate capital, seeking to ensure the livelihood needs of peasants while operating within the circuits of capital, will define the future of peasant society in India. As far as I can see, peasant society will certainly survive in India in the 21st century, but only by accommodating a substantial non-agricultural component within the village. Further, I think there will be major overlaps and continuities in emerging cultural practices between rural villages and small towns and urban areas, with the urban elements gaining predominance.
should read it again. [thanks, rama].


son! yesoba!

what can i say sir!

my son yesobu

died in the war

my son who could conquer neerukonda*

lies sacrificed on a slab of ice

he left with a smile

and has returned as a corpse

smiling, he calls 'nAnna'*

he went on foot and has returned a bridegroom

a flowering plant has returned as a fallen banyan

he has returned

what can i say? and how?

people turn up here as at a fair

in throngs and throngs

addressing them, speaking of

my son's 'sacrifices, patriotism'

you, sarpanch babu! sir!

when he stopped

people washing their animals

in the tank*

didn't you, with a whip

lash my son's chest

mark him with stains

in the cinema outside our village

for buying a big ticket*

and sitting alongside you

didn't you scheme

to cut his hands legs

was it your daughter who looked at him

or he who looked at her

i do not know but-

to kill lionlike yesobu

you wove the noose

how can we forget this history!

we know all this

does the rain wash away the wounds, sir!

on the untouchable's eyelids

these truths stand erect

like crowbars driven into our hearts

mothers! sirs!

my son's death

this isn't the first

many times in our village

he died and lived

to live he joined the army

as a corpse, he has returned alive


my mind's not in my mind

my mind's not in my mind

sir! in my eyes

the pyre dances

son! yesoba! yesoba!

yesoba! my father*!

for you

i'll weep like karamchedu*

for you

i'll weep like chunduru*

for you

i'll weep like vempenta*

i'll weep like yesterday's gosayipalem*!

father! as a tear big as the sky

i'll pour like a storm for you!

elders! lords!


i wish to curse you

a basketful of curses

i wish to drive a basketful of wild ants

to bite you all over

to see my son's corpse, arriving

like armies of ants

and disappearing like swarms of locusts,

you patriots!

wait a second

if you're made of pus* and blood, shame and honour

if your liver hasn't melted yet

answer this untouchable's questions

not my son

you've come to visit his corpse

do you agree!

my son dead is a veera jawan

alive he's a mala* jawan

what do you say?

answer me!

swear on your manu

as a pigeon and a snake

can't be linked

your upper caste pride

can't go with patriotism

elders! lords!

listen! listen to the untouchable word

between the village and the wada

there's a kargil

from grandfathers' forefathers' age

burning between us

this kargil war

hasn't stopped, it goes on

son! yesoba!

on the third day

if you can't return

find the time

to return some day

and wipe my tears! father!

-my translation of sivasagar's kodukA! yEsobA!, written in 1999.
note: will explain the asterisks and my inadequacies as a translator later.


telugu, of song and rebellion

the bow and arrows hidden in the mahua trees' tresses
i give you my brother! i give you my brother!

the spears hidden by the path to lohar jwala
i give you my brother! i give you my brother!

the glistening swords dipped in the landlord's blood
i give you my brother! i give you my brother!

the guns hidden in the tulasikonda ravine
i give you my brother! i give you my brother!

the rifle snatched from the garla train
i give you my brother! i give you my brother!

the sepoy's throat slit in rupaayi konda
i give you my brother! i give you my brother!

the martyrs' blood flowing in misty mountains valleys
i give you my brother! i give you my brother!

the moonlight caught in the eyes of dark hills
i give you my brother! i give you my brother!

the flowers that grew wild on the budarisingi peaks
i give you my brother! i give you my brother!

the heroism of boddapadu- the lightning courage of garuda bhadra
i give you my brother! i give you my brother!

the twinkle of kailasam's eyes- the intensity of venkatapu's stare
i give you my brother! i give you my brother!

panigrahi's swordsong- mallik's childlike smile
i give you my brother! i give you my brother!

the hopes of the poor- the battle of srikakulam
i give you my brother! i give you my brother!

put down the traitors- grab the rifles
build a red army- form a red zone

join hands with your brothers- free mother earth
come along brother- don't tarry brother!

- my translation of the poem nEla talli ceranu viDipinchaga ('to free mother earth'), written by 'sivasagar' (k.g.satyamurthy). it was written in october 1973 when the poet, a leader of the earliest naxalite movement in andhra pradesh, was organizing little rebellions (notice the reference to various battlefields) across the state, from srikakulam to adilabad.

honourable judges!
sunrise is not a conspiracy
the sun is not a conspirator
are a mother's labour pains a conspiracy?
what would you call the progress of the chariot of history?

honourable judges!
demoniac feudalism that's tucked up earth,
like a rolled mat, inside its armpit is a conspiracy
the selling of my country to outsiders
is a conspiracy
brokered at kosygin's leprous feet
the peace treaty is a conspiracy
the food that nixon's ships
bring is a conspiracy
indian independence is a conspiracy
the ballot box is a conspiracy
'garibi hatao' is a conspiracy
indira's smile is a conspiracy
waiting to hang the sun
the arrogance of your unjust laws is a conspiracy
honourable judges!
the srikakulam sunrise is not a conspiracy
the guerilla sun is not a conspirator
isn't driving away darkness sunrise
isn't spreading light warmth among people sunrise

honourable judges!
you, you..are all very righteous
in adharma's destruction, as just as yama.

- my translation of the poem kutradarudu vAj~nmoolamu ('the conspirator's admission') by 'sivasagar' (k.g.satyamurthy). this poem was his statement before the court trying him for participating in the parvathipuram conspiracy.

telugu doesn't need this or any other government's endorsement. it has battled sanskrit (for five centuries?), prakrit (for another five?), persian (for yet another five?)..and repression in one telugu region or another for more than two thousand years.

in thanjavur, or golkonda, and in srikakulam or jagityala, it's been the language of song and rebellion. now, it's gaddar's language, and sivasagar's. and of all dalits, sudras ..and, as sri sri would have said, of all pathithulu, bhrashtulu, badha sarpa dashtulu.

s*&&% the pundits in delhi. i'd rather remember:

endarO mahAnubhAvulu..
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