There are at least two angles to everything. This blog is for everyone who'd like to see the other angle of everything. The Other Angle is generally radical, explicit, hurtful and raw; and you need not agree with it. But more than anything else, to me, it's Beautiful.
All the generations have borne enough risks in writing. At times, people got arrested, their books got buried or burnt, other times they absconded. BR. Ambedkar in the history of India is a name who always stood his ground and said whatever he wanted to. It was perhaps extreme discrimination towards his family and him, which led him to accept the truth the way it was.
But it appears like his name was wiped out from our history textbooks. While each year we studied less and less of Ambedkar, his name was reduced to merely being the Father of Indian Constitution. Every year on his birthday, we are also seeing the upholders of Hindutva celebrating Ambedkar’s Birthday which you’ll realize is the biggest irony when you read what he wrote. If you read him, you’ll realise he was much more. I had previously written a post on Ambedkar’s Message to Women, which is nothing smaller than an awakening! Here are some excerpts to his different other views. You may read the book, The Essential Ambedkar for full context and deeper understanding.
Caste and Endogamy (Marrying only within the caste)
Caste in India means an artificial chopping off of the population into fixed and definite units, each one prevented from fusing into another through the custom of endogamy. Thus, the conclusion is inevitable that endogamy is the only characteristic that is peculiar to the caste, and if we succeed in showing how endogamy is maintained, we shall practically have proved the genesis and also the mechanism of caste.
Ambedkar about Manu (the king)
I may seem hard on Manu, but I am sure my force is not strong enough to kill his ghost. He lives, like a disembodied spirit, and is appealed to, and I am afraid will yet live long. One thing I want to impress upon you is that Manu did not give the law of caste and that he could not do so. Caste existed long before Manu. He was an upholder of it and therefore philosophised about it, but certainly, he did not and could not ordain the present order of Hindu Society. His work ended with the codifications of existing caste rules and the preaching of caste dharma. The spread and growth of the caste system is too gigantic a task to be achieved by the power or cunning of an individual or of a class.
Recently, the Supreme Court permitted a rape survivor to terminate her pregnancy at 24 weeks, which is beyond the permissible 20 weeks limit prescribed under the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971.
Abortion is a topic that is not as hot a debate in India, as it has been in the US. The basic difference being that in the US, the fight for abortion rights is at the point of consent of a woman of not having a baby. While in India, the legalities in abortion are focused on severe health risks for the woman or the baby, and that if the woman is a rape survivor where abortion is legally permissible before 15 weeks. There are obvious risks in the process of abortion due to sex-determination. But the point of consent of a woman is always missing. Continue reading “A Foetus is not a Person by Caroline Lund”→
Nahid Afrin, a 16-year-old girl from Assam, who received fame through her singing talent displayed in Indian idol, has a Fatwa issued on her name by some Muslim clerics. This fatwa bans her from performing at any public entertainment event. She has come out boldly against the move saying ‘Singing isn’t anti-Islam’ and has confirmed that she will never stop singing. She has also been supported by the CM of the state.
Feeling like an elder sister in this scenario, I thought to compile a list of Fatwas for the unstoppable you, Nahid.
Having lived 25 years of my life in Ahmedabad (which is like all my life), especially close to Kankaria– the circular man-made lake- the heart of the East Ahmedabad- I have some fond memories of my childhood attached to the place. The loveliest part of evenings would be going to Kankaria with Papa, Mumma and Uncle, Aunty and Bhaiya. It was so full of life, I loved hopping around being looked at by different sorts of people.
There would be ice-cream shops, balloonwaala, horse rides, small merry-go-round (movable, managed by poor men), men moving with delicious snacks like bhutta-chana zor garam-mamra-sev puri, kulfi and the gola-waalas (I was not allowed to have gola until like college) these were the regulars.
Amongst the more aspirational (costly) ones were places like Bal Vatika (Fun Park for children with some rides, funny mirrors,etc), Aquarium and Nagina Vaadi (a small, linear island at one end of the Kankaria circle- but so small that it could be hardly 600 mtrs of a straight walk). Kankaria was our marine drive. Towards the end, I would cringe when they’d say, ‘Okay, let’s go home now?’
Interestingly, the same Kankaria would turn to be an absolutely different flavour in the morning. People with serious faces, walking like it was a part of their job, some coming just for fun, young men (including my father) touring the Gymkhana- doing some serious exercise- and then have a long (boring) chat over chai ki kitleynearby. This is how I can relate now when I see kids getting cranky around their parents talking infinitely over chai.
The morning Kankaria was not as much fun (from a child’s view) because of the compulsory exercise and running routine but still free, open, huge trees, natural breeze, lots of birds chirping (sometimes so loud that your voice could drown within it), noticing infinite kinds of people who had come to walk or the ones on the road already going to their offices- all strata, all colours, all shapes and sizes!
When Kankaria got Revamped
In 2008, Kankaria was revamped. I was still in school (12th grade) yet I was filled with the excitement of progress and the development it was going to bring. Your part of the city was being beautified; it felt special. When it was opened out to public, something about it was under-whelming. It was concrete, clean, organised (benches, lamp posts, trees at equal distances), people cleaning every now and then (especially in the morning), the fun park was the same, the nagina vadi was the same… What was different?
Why reading is blissful is because it has the ability to transport you from one place to another, one time to another. If you had money, you could travel wherever you want. But how would you travel through time? With books, nothing is impossible. Time travel is a reality. That’s what struck me when I saw this book called ‘The Short History of English Literature’ by Ifor Evans at an invaluable second-hand bookshop/circulating library in Mahim, Mumbai- The Victoria Book Centre (since 1948).
Do you know what was the first piece of English Literature?
In the Anglo-Saxon period, the story of ‘Beowulf’ was brought to England and interestingly it was not English, it was about Scandinavians, dated 700 A.D. (OLD!). Only three hundred years later, about the year 1000, the manuscript was written down. What happened to it in the next seven hundred years is unknown. But it reappeared in 1706 at a library. It can be said that the manuscript had magically managed to save itself from getting destroyed in a fire during the same period. Interestingly, the author of Beowulf remains unknown.
The story of Judith is the most exciting narrative of Anglo-Saxon poetry, and why not! It tells a fictionized story of how an ordinary woman named Judith kills a tyrant Holofernes, whose terror knows no bounds. Its dramatic quality and its sense of genuine human characterization set it apart from all the works in the same age. It was found in the same manuscript with Beowulf. Judith was written byÆlfric of Eynsham.
History always has something to learn from. For India, BR Ambedkar is that gold mine, which never disappoints. A man who wanted no fame or bhakts, whose life motto was to just get people, to think clearly. He is a man who must be re-read for his scientific temperament, knowledge and fierceness but unfortunately, he has been slowly going extinct from our textbooks. Also what is unfortunate is that the vices that he had pointed out in his time, are still relevant. If you thought of him just as the ‘Father of Indian Constitution’, read the below text to visualise this fierce feminist in him, each and every word as if gold plated.
Ambedkar’s Message to Women
From Bhalchandra Mungekar’s ‘The Essential Ambedkar’
I came across an interesting concept called ‘Hobbesian’. It is an interesting looking word, where you are bound to mistake for the first few times. Thought it was interesting to share.
Are Hindus Hobbesian? Hobbesian is a situation in which you believe the world is against you and you are out there alone. Ours is the only religion in the world which doesn’t have temples with congregational space, which means one on one versus a large group of people. Our religion tells us that our individual relation with God is the most important, which encourages activities like Yagna- which basically transcends to offering something to God in exchange for something having taken away from somebody else. This also encourages those merciless queues/crowd/mob (including stampede at times) that we have in our temples to have our 2 second moment with the God’s idol and whisper a prayer to them. Hindus are perhaps Hobbesians. This also explains our behaviour in traffic. Our billionaires don’t really want to give their wealth away. It is not the society that we seek our mutual benefit from, it is our own luck, our own faith and our vertical relationship with God, as opposed to our horizontal relationship with the man (the mankind) and different people in the society. Continue reading “Are Hindus Hobbesian?”→