Monday, February 17, 2020

Parasite: deciphering the real con

Rahul Vaidya

‘I tried to express a sentiment specific to Korean culture, but all the responses from different audiences were pretty much the same. Essentially, we all live in the same country, called capitalism’. – 

Director Bong Joon Ho on his Oscar winning film ‘Parasite’

The criticism of Oscars as celebration of predominantly white, male and extremely cloistered notions ‘what constitutes good art’ has been growing over the years. And despite the furor over #oscarssowhite and #metoo as well as issues of gender pay gaps etc., the attempts by Hollywood and western art world to address the questions of race and gender have been few and far between. Given the long list of nominations for films either celebrating the lost glory of the West (Once upon a time in Hollywood, Ford vs. Ferrari) or melancholy nostalgia of a world long lost or under siege and beyond repair (The Irishman, 1917); little seemed to have changed.

But then something historic happened at Oscars this year. Director Bong Joon Ho’s Korean film ‘Parasite’ not just won the Best International Film as was expected; but also ended up with Best Picture, Best Director, Best original screenplay awards. Its win as Best Picture is quite historic in that no ‘foreign film’ had ever won Best Picture award so far. First Cannes, Golden Globes and then Oscars have all provided their canonical approval for ‘Parasite’. As much as it is novel for an international (and non-European at that) film to achieve such laurels, it is also quite extraordinary for a film that is entirely about class and class struggle to achieve the mainstream critical approval. What is it that sets ‘Parasite’ apart in terms of its politics as well as aesthetics and also ensures such wide approval of audience and critics alike worldwide? I would like to put forth few points in this regard.

Sunday, February 2, 2020

Structural Tailbacks of Indian Agriculture and Exclusionary PM-KISAN Scheme: an Analysis

Santosh Verma
The NDA government brought a new scheme the Prime Minister Kisan Samman Nidhi (PM-KISAN) that became operational from 1st December 2018. It aimed to provide small and marginal farmers (SMFs) financial assistance to procure various inputs to ‘ensure proper crop health and appropriate yields’. It also aimed to protect these farmers from middlemen and moneylenders. SMFs were defined as the farmer families who collectively own cultivable land upto 2 hectares. According to the Agricultural Census (2015), the small and marginal holdings if taken together constituted around 13.78 crores (1378 lakhs) that is 86.08 percent of the total holdings in 2015-16.