Instead of creating memorials that remind us about violence, we should be building memorials of peace and reconciliation like this memorial (R) of writer Robert Burns (L) in Edinburgh
Sunday, September 8, 2013
Sunday, December 5, 2010
A cancer patient who does not have enough funds to buy medicines (Photo by Simon Chilvers)
Saturday, October 9, 2010
Why aren't we discussing Ayodhya verdict? Are we comfortable with the idea that court has been fair enough for all the parties involved? The precedence set by the verdict has in a way de-legitimized the secular fabric of our country. Faith and that too majoritarian cannot be a justification for such a ruling. I am hearing Mr. Advani saying that the verdict has justified his rath yatras!!! What next??
Sad part is that earlier we used to think that higher Judiciary was perhaps the only organ of our constitution which was dispensing fair justice and was custodian of Law. The judgement ha shown least consideration for law. Faith and majoritarianism seems to have been major drivers of the judgement!
The fact if that the matter was primarily of ownership of property and while deciding this we have to somewhere decide the timeline from where we have to begin. Even if we presume that there was a temple below the mosque, how far can we stretch the debate of ownership; certainly not before British came to
when records of rights began to be maintained. And how can we justify the present demolition in a secular democratic India on the pretext of an incident which is perhaps a reflection of a feudal arrangement. INDIA
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
Managing Conflict in Colleges
Managing Conflict and understanding social behaviour form an integral aspect of any college/university administration. Conflict can literally be defined as disagreement or incompatibility at the level of thought. It can also represent a state of non-violent and even violent tussle, unrest and struggle. Thus when one tries to grasp the ways to ‘manage conflict in colleges’, the nature and conceptual framework of the conflict should be kept in mind. Further, the term ‘managing’ itself is problematic. It is significant to understand and devise ways to ‘resolve conflict’ than to ‘manage’ it. The latter implies a piecemeal arrangement, a proposition which is dangerous for Indian democracy as pertinent issues continue to remain unresolved. I intend to understand conflict through various perspectives, vis-à-vis personal and social.
Conflict generally begins at the emotional level. The ‘matters of home’ and the attitudes of parents are crucial to the genesis or resolution of conflicts within self and with others. Matters as trivial as parental dealing of a child’s emotional and material needs or behaviour and resolving conflict between siblings will be crucial to understand the origins of conflict. Dealing with opposite sex, with teachers, friends and colleagues and college authorities is something which an individual learns in the family. Thus family plays a significant role and every emerging issue in a college needs to be dealt through an active involvement and counselling of parents along with students. Student counselling should become an integral part of college administration.
Colleges and Universities constitute a crucial stage in the psychological growth of the youth in
Social behaviour also helps us in understanding day-to-day conflict in colleges. Notion of caste and class play a vital role in formulating these conflicts. Indian society has varied layers of caste and class hierarchies. Such notions inevitably foster ‘group-formation’ among students. Group-formation is essential to solidarity between members of various castes and classes, at times to resist oppression and hegemony. But in areas where social behaviour is marked often by feudal tensions of caste or/and class conflicts, such attitudes will be reflected in college politics too. Besides inter-state/ regional groupings also play a significant role in fostering solidarity on the one hand but also conflict on the other. Very often minor personal tussle transforms into inter-caste, inter-class or inter-regional conflicts.
Dealing with such conflicts requires rigorous encouragement of intra-caste, class and regional interaction which would help in breaking the narrow parochial barriers of social behaviour. The engagement of teachers and academia is extremely essential in this exercise. Academics have to find answers to issues related to the society and channelizing the energies of students towards constructive activities relating to their day-to-day problems. In addition to it, in a multi-ethnic/religious society like
Ideology has played a significant role in the emergence of student politics. In the 1960s-70s, student unrest in colleges was significantly determined by various ideological positioning. Elections to student council/bodies continue to be fought on the lines of state or national political parties. In a majority of cases party conflicts lead to apparently unavoidable conflict in colleges. Violent forms of such conflicts are condemnable but politics should be placed in a proper perspective. Rather the effort should be on shaping leadership and extending debates by organising discussions on political issues. De-politicisation is a serious character of students’ politics in colleges; the focus should be on guiding their energies on socially productive behaviour, critical thinking and nation building.
Efforts should be laid on building leadership but at the same time delinking students’ politics from narrow and divisionary party feuds. It is further essential to differentiate between physical violence and unrest. While violence is condemnable and unacceptable in any democratic society, unrest is crucial to the evolution of social thought. It strengthens criticality and dynamism in social behaviour. It is also essential to understand that equal participation of both boys and girls can inculcate cohesiveness and conjure social responsibility. It is also essential to engage students in academic debates which strengthens intellect and fosters democratic solidarity.
Conflict also manifests in the form of rampant gender-based eve-teasing and occasional cases of molestation in the colleges. Many colleges have enacted strict laws against such cases. These measures should be strengthened in colleges throughout
Violence is an articulation of emotional, sexual and psychological anxieties on the one hand and social, economic and political underpinnings on the other. Productive channelization of students and academic churning on these issues can be crucial to resolving and managing conflict in colleges. In cases of violent conflicts colleges resort to protective policing, but in the long run these measures should be corroborated with a more sustainable mechanism of conflict resolution. Yet there are other forms of conflicts between teachers, with management, which should be equally addressed in the interest of students.
Acknowledgements: This presentation benefits from a panel discussion 'Culture of Violence and Academic Atmosphere in
Martyr as Bridegroom:
A Folk Representation of Bhagat Singh
By Ishwar Dayal Gaur (
Reviewed by Yogesh Snehi
Bhagat Singh and his tirade against British imperialism has largely been studied and analysed either through nationalist, Marxist and revolutionary perspectives, or through terrorist and communitarian perspectives. These perspectives have until recently been dominantly elitist and give little space to popular representation of history. The book under review is an attempt to construct the image of Bhagat Singh from the perspective of the people. The study attempts to ‘explain him and his revolutionary career from the viewpoint of popular literary and cultural traditions of
Gaur has divided the book into six chapters. He tends to theorise the various trends in historiography and literary traditions of
The author tries to locate the trajectory of ‘a Punjabi martyr’ and their martyrdom in tradition and history through various narratives of ‘Sikh’ martyr Guru Arjan Dev, ‘outlaw’ martyr Dulla Bhatti, ‘lover’ martyr- Hir-Ranjha, Sassi-Punnun and Sohni-Mahiwal, ‘patriot’ martyrs like Bhagat Singh and others. Bhagat Singh is understood as a human being imbued with emotions and sentiments, a social liberal crusader against caste through a network of alliances’, a prolific writer and an organic intellectual who through his art of rhetoric and metaphor uses various simile, metaphor and legends from Indian history, an actor who unfolds various hues of his personality and as a prisoner committed to intellectual growth and political rights of prisoners in colonial India. Thus Bhagat Singh emerged a hero even before his death and descended deep into the minds and hearts of the people of
The most significant treatment of Bhagat Singh is the popular depiction of his martyrdom. These folk representations provide an alternative discourse for understanding the literary and cultural context of the ‘month of martyrdom’ when Bhagat Singh was executed. Gaur probes the writings of Kalidasa, Guru Nanak, Bulleh Shah and others, and locates the advent of spring season with social change, playing of Holi with self-sacrifice and eagerness to meet his fiancée, death. Folk songs, especially the genres of ghori, marhi and qissa, and their themes of love and eroticism, of heroic and chivalric activities and of sacrifice and martyrdom are instrumental in the evolution of death-bridegroom or marriage-martyrdom motifs in the historical trajectory of Punjab. The image of virgin-martyr Bhagat Singh, narrated in the folk genre of qissa, is more revealing and multifaceted than the nationalist and Marxist narrations. Folk culture reinvents the virgin-martyr and weds him to death.
Dialogical narration is a peculiar characteristic of Qissa Bhagat Singh. The range emotions, sentiments and the inanimate objects which are used as metaphors in qissa are essential to situate the history of emotions. Bhagat Singh di Marhi is an elegy written on the aspirations for freedom by Bhagat Singh who for their realisation wedded death and devalued the significance of the death penalty. Thus, Bhagat Singh belongs to the Punjabi space which resonates with the legends of the virgin-martyrs or martyr-bridegrooms like Salar Masud Ghazi, Haqiqat Rai, Ajit Singh, Jhujhar Singh, Zorawar Singh and Fateh Singh. His ancestors are ‘virgin’ martyrs and therefore he is well grounded in the history and culture of Punjab and is assigned vernacular sensitivity and specificity through cultural idioms, customs and traditions. This work is of immense significance for general reader and those interested in alternative discourse in Indian history.
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
Hyper-Masculinity in Amritsar
by Yogesh Snehi
Langur-mela typifies the intensity of hyper-masculinity in Amritsar. According to Surinder Kumar Billa the president of All-India Hindu Shiv Sena more than 10,000 langurs throng the Temple during navratras (The Tribune, Amritsar Plus, 13 October 2007). Punjab has been historically been notorious for its low sex-ratios (with general sex-ratio at 849) and the practise of female infanticide and foeticide. With urban sex-ratio of 862 (per 1000 males), Amritsar may not fare as bad as its counterpart Ludhiana with urban sex-ratio at 783, but the former is an epitome of culture (Punjabi-sabhyachar) and has a bearing not only on Punjab but also bordering districts of Himachal Pradesh.
Tuesday, October 7, 2008
Conversions, Caste and Communalism: Globalisation, State and Challenges of Secular Politics in India
By Yogesh Snehi
In the past two years the debates on religious conversions, caste and communalism have gripped India in a serious imbroglio which is fallout of the present nature of state politics in the country. The years 2007-08 have been the most volatile ever since the anti-Godhra riots in the state of Gujarat in 2002, which exposed the role that the governments in India have played in arousing communal passions through state machinery. These are difficult times, and the time that would follow poses more complex challenges for state-politics in India.......
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