Tag Archives: RSS

A Tribute to Babasaheb Ambedkar

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Baba

1

baba,
you left this world
before I came

you hang as a memory now
on our rusty mud wall

a beaming portrait
inside a humble glass

my mother cleans it gently
with the end of her wrinkled sari
when our roof leaks on a rainy night

she wipes those tears,
becoming your fingers

I write on a tiny sheet,
“why is he weeping,ma?”,

Placing it on her lips,
I kneel to caress her hair.

She just kisses my cheeks
and leaves in a haste

Her breath feels
Like a drop of tear
She doesn’t want me to hear

My father, whispers,
On sulky nights,
“look, at those sober eyes,
That’s where we painted our past”

He, then, gazes at the farthest point
In that folded sky

“ Baba fought against gods,

Gods whose letters
Became molten lead
When it reached our ears

their water
turned into a flaming bird
bursting into temples
we cannot enter
when it touched our lips

their clothes
burnt themselves
when it covered our bodies

their streets
were laden with thorns
that pierced only our soles

we were naked beings,
bleeding from all our pores

those wounds
that wore off our dignity

we were epilogues
torn off from their stories

we were bodies
that belonged only in their borders

baba burnt those books
and wrote a new tale,
still unfinished,
all his life,
where untouched pages
were filled with languages
that spanned a nation

an untouchable nation
spawned from a million borders

he looked
into the eyes of their shivering temple-tops,
and screamed,
that a god who cannot touch us
doesn’t deserve us

we all walked behind him
like colours that follow a rainbow
as he closed their window
that seeks our worship ”

he would then go to sleep
nursed by the verses
hanging softly in his heart

woman-sleeps-among-ambedkar-picture

No other figure in Modern Indian history attracts such veneration like that of B.R.Ambedkar. He braved great odds  and fought for the emancipation of millions of people enslaved by caste system. Image Courtesy : Indranil Mukherjee/AFP/Getty Images

2

baba,
the lowest on our ladder
still spend their lives,suffocated,
inside the shameless sewers

even our own
have flushed their fates
to the corners of our conscience

baba,
our slippers still can’t sink
in their streets
our lips still can’t sip
from their cups

baba,
they walk on the carpets
of our corpses
to burn your statue
in the cauldron of caste

baba,
severed heads of lovers
rest on the lips of railway tracks
women hang from branches
in the shadows of a sombre night

baba
the Hindu rule you feared
during your time
has now dawned in our realm

those scheming saints
now weave an umbrella
into whose shade they pull us
shrieking into our ears
through their holy shells
that we all are ‘Hindus’

us, baba, the very people they spit at, even in their dreams

they usher us into a ghar
that nourished on our grief
where silhouettes of our sorrow
still wail in their garba-grihas

this ghar
where we were the steps
of spiritual stairs
they never stopped climbing
: crushed beneath their feet
we pleaded for our breaths

all this,
while they shower
trishuls of tragedy
onto the skulls of the ‘other’

the other who sells fruits
beside our cobbler stands

the other who drives the flies
away from the meat we skin

the other whose God
tended to our millennial scars,
with a tint, and a moment, of dignity

baba,
with grief,
I whisper to you,
this dewy night,
that some of us
have tainted our foreheads
with the tilaks they threw at us

baba,
scribble with your worn-out pen
on this moth-eaten cloud
hiding the moon in half
those words you want to scream
at these souls who betrayed you

they shall read it soon,
one night,
when those saffron tongues
shall vomit them
into the abyss
near the horizon of hatred

 

rss-21 ambedkar

HEIGHT OF APPROPRIATION : Portraits of RSS founder K.B. Hedgewar and Dr.B.R.Ambedkar being carried out during an RSS rally. Ambedkar was a trenchant critic of Hindutva throughout his life. Image Courtesy : Indian Express Archives

3

baba,
the priests
who flayed our skins
and severed our tongues
now, light the lanterns near your feet,

come back, baba,
like the fiery breeze
that swallows their flames

they bow
in their ironed suits
before your statues
they paint with their saffron stink

come back, baba,
like a tender downpour
washing off the stains
disguised as garlands on your coat
and heal the wounds
that sprout with their prayers

they trap you in the temples
you sought to wreck

they praise you in the words
you strove to burn

come back, baba, come back

if only to nurse my mother’s fingers’
that wilt every time you weep.

 

All the poems were penned by Abul Kalam Azad.

Abul Kalam Azad is a student at the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras, Chennai. He can be contacted at saka16492@gmail.com

Featured Image Courtesy : Economic Times.

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Mohan Bhagwat’s Nazism with Chinese characteristics

The biggest blunder anybody can commit while responding to the statements of Hindu Nazists, however critical your response or analysis may be, is to miss the basic point that these guys should not be allowed to speak to the public in a civilised and democratic polity. Remember great Zizek’s favourite joke about wheel-barrows[1] or Ali-Brahmanandam’s Isuka Bastaala joke[2]. While your scrutiny is focussed on something very striking, what is actually smuggled before your own suspicious eyes is something else.

Well, before ‘Bharat Mata ki Jai’ begins to be treated like ‘Hitler salute’ and those chant it get arrested for scare-mongering and ‘hate shouts’ (a sub-genre of the Hate Speech and seemingly a distinct Indian contribution), at least in some European, African or Latin American country to begin this much needed process of De-sanghification of India, the minimum we can do is to resist any temptation to treat Sangh leaders’ statements as just like any other public speech, deserving freedom of expression and critical scrutiny.

Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) has of late slowly but methodically managed to come to be treated as if it was not a criminal/fascist/terrorist organisation, the biggest in the world, and its declarations just like any legitimate outfit’s. Its judgements and advice and ‘stand’ on issues ranging from intimate affairs of the individuals (such as sex and clothing) to international affairs and economic policy have become increasingly seen as important.RSS is surely aiming at even as a moral high command of the nation, much above even the Central government, some kind of an idealised Rishi (Saint) status who stands above the secular powers of the Raja (King) in the pop Hindu mythology.

Probably excited by the easy and ever-growing success of public legitimisation RSS has already achieved, its chief, Mohan Bhagwat seems to have committed the classic mistake of any fascist past, present and future: a failure to know where to stop. In a happy discursive self-goal, Mohan Bhagwat took it upon himself to accept the burden of proof – something we have been at pains to tell the people and the world at large with nearly no success at all, even among those oppose Hindutva – and sets out to tell us how his politics would not produce a Hitler.

Hitler

1934, Nuremberg, Germany — Adolf Hitler and his Nazi Salute. Photo Courtesy : Times Live

Bhagwat’s ignorance of the contemporary sensibilities of the International community and even the recent history of the world helped the matters, but not him, in this attempt. He does it exactly in the Hitler’s own register of ‘National greatness’. His assurances that the great India was not interested in occupying others was exactly what Hitler was telling the world before launching his occupation spree.While not taking the fascist self-descriptions seriously is a traditional blunder of the anti-fascists throughout the history, in our mistaken belief in the instrumentalism and insincerity of the fascists, while it has been repeatedly proven that the fascists are honest to their ideals and sincerely committed to their ideology, often with far more commitment than their opponents’s to theirs, taking the fascist self-presentations seriously is futile, even misleading, if we don’t simultaneously factor in the fascist self-delusions in such assessments.

RSS supremo wants us to believe that his Nazist politics will be different from Mussolini’s and Hitler’s. There is no reason to believe that he himself doesn’t. His totalitarianism might probably be aimed at something like a China model, a dictatorship without a Stalin or Polpot at the helm: a combination of the old Brahminism’s speciality of relegating the secular power (Kshatriya) to lesser status than the priestly (Brahmin) one and the success story of the formidable neighbour across the border which has been an envy the Hindu Nazists for a long time (admittedly, and sadly undeniably, we Commies help fascists in more ways than one!). This would be Nazism with Chinese Characteristics.

Bhagwat RSS

RSS Chief Mohan Bhagwat

The assumed or hoped for neat separation of powers in the new totalitarian regime of Bhagawat’s designs, arranged in a harmonious hierarchy is nothing short of a veritable eclecticism in practice, in the real world, particularly when the large-scale social engineering is going to be attempted at involving the one fifth of world’s population cannot even be described as fantasy. Unlike Nazi Germany or China, Hindu Nazists want to have it both ways: consolidating a genocidal regime without any generous welfare net. They incite the mobs and keep them permanently mobilised in a dictatorial framework. Without warfare, those crowds might turn against bite the hand that doesn’t feed them.

To repeat what we have said elsewhere many times, naive Humanism is as unhelpful in this as forgetting materialist foundations of any politics because fascism seems to be an extraordinary moment when the usual calculations and interests are sidelined or bulldozed by feverish ideological frenzy. You cannot produce a mass of mass murderers without also bribing them. Not that ideology is a sham or a simple false consciousness. One needs to have sufficient material conditions taken care of and taken for granted to believe in ideology honestly and authentically.

Sangh Parivar state can postpone the disillusionment of its own cadre, voters and followers which must sooner or later come only if there is war and the whole population willingly walked beyond a point of no return, where ‘keep it going’ is the only option.With it comes the doom and disaster, for the people, victims as well as votaries, the Religion and its Nation-State in whose glory the painstaking hegemony they established, even the rest of the world which is a willing accomplice in all this with its regrettable (and eventually to be regretted).

Notes

[1] Zizek’s Wheel Barrow joke:  The story is about a worker suspected of stealing. Every evening as he leaves the factory, his wheelbarrow is carefully inspected, but the guards can find nothing. The wheelbarrow is always empty. Finally, when the penny drops, they realise that what the worker is stealing is the wheelbarrows themselves.

[2] In a similar wheel barrow type situation comedian Ali in a Telugu movie could be seen smuggling sand.

Images courtesy : Special Arrangement and Times Live.

This post was written by Chittibabu Padavala.

Chittibabu is a Dalit Marxist scholar based in Mumbai, India.  For more on Dalit Marxism and updates please see this Facebook Page.