Friday, October 30, 2015

Narrating the Dilemmas: Tulsi Ram’s Autobiography

Abdul Rahman

(Book review of the two volumes of autobiography - 'Murdhahiya' and  'Manikarnika' by Tulsi Ram, | Rajkamal Prakashan | New Delhi)

The rise of post-modernism in politics had adverse effect on issues of revolutionary change. The questions of representation, empathy and domination etc have affected not only the unity of the oppressed. It has, to a larger extent, delegitimized the vanguards; the leadership. Hence, it is beyond any doubt that one of the most vital challenges faced by the left (Indian or otherwise) is the rise of identity politics. A large number of activists deserted the organised left politics in the 1990s citing widespread indifference to the issues of representation and social justice. In the Indian context the so called ‘failure to recognise the centrality of caste as a tool of oppression and exploitation’ and a kind of ‘obsession with the class contradiction’ are identified as ‘problems with the left parties and movements’. Over and above the ideological issues there is distrust prevalent among the marginalized groups (manufactured or otherwise) about ‘the personal credibility’ of some of the left leadership. The bitterness of the experiences within the organisation has created enmity among some of the erstwhile left activists leading to charges and allegations of caste bias against the leadership. This has been a general trend in last few decades and hence one should be forgiven for being surprised while reading Tulsi Ram’s autobiography. It is one of the rarest books in Hindi which chronicles the life and times of a left activist who was born in a Dalit family.  

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Acting Up- Gender and Theatre in India

Rahul Vaidya

(A book review of 'Acting Up- Gender and Theatre in India, 1979 Onwards' by A. Mangai  pp. 271 | 2015 | LeftWord Books | New Delhi)

‘Theatre is about representation, about individual bodies, and the way these bodies relate to, reflect, subvert and remake social bodies. ‘Acting Up: Gender and Theatre in India, 1979 onwards’ explores these intersections of gender and theatre through an examination of the work of women theatre practitioners. It looks at the conditions that shape these processes: feminist and class politics, caste, ethnicity, faith, and nationalism. This book thinks through a new feminist idiom for contemporary theatre practice. By examining the conditions of actual production of theatre work, often by a collective effort not tied to any single point of authority (text, playwright or director), this study gestures towards an alternate aesthetic framework’ (From the jacket of the book)

Friday, October 2, 2015

‘Jihad’ and the Uprising of 1857

Ms. Heena

Assault of Delhi and capture of the Cashmere Gate, 14 September 1857
The Revolt of 1857 is an exhausted subject. A number of works has been done covering a large number of issues, while a number of aspects are yet to be explored. One such issue is the role of religion or the call for waging ‘Jihad’ (religious war). The issue seems to have gained much popularity after the publication of hugely influential work by W. Dalrymple, where he tried to carry the discourse of religion to the farthest limits; linking Al-Qa’ida and the rise of religious extremism in the modern times.[1] In the present essay I have tried to correct this notion of Dalrymple by arguing that it was not the religion but religions (both Hindus and Muslims united) which was the slogan of fighting men. And therefore, a kind of proto-nationalism was the much dominant idea.