Thursday, December 29, 2016

To be critical of Dangal is fine, to be dismissive is not

Balu Sunil

The movie Dangal has provoked many reactions. This article is an attempt to pen down some observations after watching the movie and reading several reviews around it. While there are some reviews which do analyse the movie form a positive angle, numerous reviews and social media posts have being extremely critical of the movie [1], thoroughly dismissing the progressive potential of Dangal. While it is important that Dangal like any other movie has to be analysed critically, it is pointless to have an extremely condescending take on the movie and claim that it is yet another movie whose message reifies the existing patriarchal structures and no more.   

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Distress among Paddy Farmers in a Village of Azamgarh (Uttar Pradesh): Pre & Post Demonetisation

Santosh Verma

The paddy cropping and harvesting season has been concluded and the Rabi crops (mainly wheat) is seeded into the vast agricultural plains of Eastern Uttar Pradesh. The region is known to be highly dependent upon agriculture for livelihood and food security, but it is also known as one of the economically backward-regions of the country. The persistent negligence by the government to develop a mechanised crop procurement system (through Food Corporation of India or State Government Authorized Agencies (SGAs)) and the recent demonetization of high-value currency notes have put the struggling agricultural communities of this region into a deep crisis. In the absence of procurement agencies, the farmers are forced to sell their surplus paddy to the local traders or in the open markets (nearby shops) at lower prices than the Minimum Support Price (MSP) and the demonetization has led to further suppress the open market prices of the paddy. This article deliberates upon cause and relations of this growing crisis among the paddy farmers due to the near absence of Government procurement agencies (both FCI and SGAs) at a time when ill-effects of demonetizations have led to a severe cash crunch leading to disruption in economic activities in the last few weeks.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

India’s Elite and the “Technocratic” understanding of Swachh Bharat Abhiyan

Manzoor Ali

Envisaged by the intellectuals, the ‘dominant idea’ or ‘value system’ per se reaches the masses (lower classes) through pioneer efforts by the middle-class professionals. Most of the times, these groups work in tandem with each other- to consolidate their socio-economic status or to maintain status-quo. In fact, “traditional intellectuals” shape-up and help in evolving society in a particular way. Due to their advantageous class position, they influence the character, nature and outlook of any society. Their effort has been to produce hegemonic discourse of the class/caste to which they belong. They produce narratives and counter-narratives in favor of their ‘people/class’.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Parable of Demonetization and the Optical Illusion of 'Class War'

Satyaki Roy

Imagine a devastating flood or a famine, cyclone or an earthquake suddenly wrecks the serenity of a village. Habitats are destroyed, food stocks washed away, crops lost forever and so on. The saviour be it a government agency or a benevolent king from the neighbouring territory arrives to rescue the dispossessed. They start a camp to provide food and water to the wretched. The zamindar and the proja or malik and the mazdoor stands in the same queue to receive a bowl of khichri and a pot of water. In my childhood I heard of a similar story. It happened way back in the late sixties. Teesta river flooded its banks and Jalpaiguri town in the North of Bengal was completely out of grids. The hearsay that remained in public memory for long was that one of the richest tea garden owners was seen standing in a queue in front of the relief camp for some food. In such situations suddenly society appears to be more equal even though it is actually not so! 

Friday, December 16, 2016

Noticed at the rally: ‘Spain Day’ in Kolkata 1936-37

Suchetana Chattopadhyay

‘On that tableland scored by rivers,
Our thoughts have bodies; the menacing shapes of our fever
Are precise and alive. For the fears which made us respond
To the medicine ad, and the brochure of winter cruises
Have become invading battalions;
And our faces, the institute-face, the chain-store, the ruin
Are projecting their greed as the firing squad and the bomb.
Madrid is the heart. Our moments of tenderness blossom
As the ambulance and the sandbag;
Our hours of friendship into a people's army.
To-morrow, perhaps the future.’

‘Spain’, W. H. Auden

How did the worker’s movement in Kolkata respond to a left internationalist appeal for solidarity with Republican Spain during the early months of the Spanish Civil War? Quick examinations of the few archival records that survive convey that the workers and their leaders, by identifying the systemic interlocking of capitalism, imperialism and fascism, were forging a vision of internationalism from below.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

The Black and White of Money, Income and Wealth: The Specious Claims of Demonetization

Surajit Mazumdar

This is a follow up of the previous article published by Vikalp "Demonetization: Beyond the Hype"

With over a month having passed since the old rupee 500 and 1000 denomination notes were put out of circulation, the adverse effects of the demonetization measure on economic activity, employment and income generation have become visible and are there for everyone to see. The assertion that the measure would nevertheless imply a drastic hit on the black economy has also come under increasing scrutiny. However, this perception may not have been fully dispelled yet. Let us therefore scrutinize it, and with the help of some numbers.