Perhaps the first instance of aerial bombing in the subcontinent took place in Punjab in April 1919, when the British attempted to crush demonstrations against draconian detention laws promulgated by the Rowlatt Act. A day after imperial troops opened fire on five thousand people in Jallianwalla Bagh, Amritsar, British planes dropped bombs on protestors in the city of Gujranwala and neighbouring villages. These acts of colonial violence had profound effects on the subcontinent. In their aftermath, Rabindranath Tagore renounced his knighthood and Mohandas Gandhi mobilised his first civil disobedience movement in India. Today, these events are part of school textbooks across South Asia. At the time, they shaped the ways in which aerial bombardment was first discussed—ways that underlie contemporary conversations about drone warfare. Reports from the Hunter Commission (which was formed by the British government in October 1919 to investigate the “Punjab disturbances”), and from an independent Congress Committee (which boycotted the Hunter Commission and carried out its own investigation) contain a rare transcript and discussion of the interrogation of a British air force officer involved in the bombing of Gujranwala. Under questioning, the officer emphatically stated that, from two hundred feet above the ground, he could see “perfectly well” what he was doing. Despite this commanding perspective, however, he said he “could not discriminate between the innocent people and other people.” What’s more, he continued firing into streets and homes long after protestors had started fleeing; the purpose of “doing more damage,” he admitted, was to produce a “moral effect”—to not just disperse protestors, but also to induce such fear that people would not dare to congregate again. In other words, the “moral effect” required the use of excessive violence. The Hunter Commission repudiated this as a “doctrine of frightfulness” that could undermine the legitimacy of British rule, and the British almost never again used aerial bombing to quell anti-colonial mobilisations in the subcontinent (although they considered it during the Moplah rebellion in Malabar in 1921).
— Altitudes Of Imperialism | The Caravan - A Journal of Politics and Culture
August 5, 2014 at 8:07am
The likelihood that the events of the Komagata Maru helped sow the seeds of discontent among Indian sepoys in Singapore was greatly enhanced by the actions of individuals associated with a radical Indian nationalist movement known as Ghadar.
Ghadar activists did not just send literature from North America: they also sent people. The specific purpose of Ghadar agents was no less than to foment revolution in India and to overthrow colonial rule, using whatever means possible. Beginning in September and October 1914—just months before the Singapore Mutiny—Ghadarites left San Francisco for India and the Far East. Specific target areas included Hong Kong, the Malay States, Rangoon, and Singapore—each of which had Indian Army garrisons that Ghadarites were eager to penetrate….
In addition to appealing to Indian sepoys’ potential sense of exploitation as colonized Indians more generally, both the Germans and the Ghadarites made special efforts to appeal to Indian Muslims—especially after the Ottoman Empire’s entrance into the war on the side of Germany in November 1914. Indeed, Germans, Turks, and Ghadarites worked together in a self-conscious program of encouraging disloyalty among the Allies’ Muslim subjects—of which the largest population in the world was Indian
News spread through these propaganda channels that Kaiser Wilhelm had converted to Islam and that large segments of the German population had converted as well. That these or similar efforts had an impact on at least some men of the 5th Light Infantry can be gauged by several letters intercepted by the censor in the days surrounding the mutiny. As Lance Naik Fateh Mohammed wrote to his father in the Punjab: “The Germans have become Mohammedans. Haji Mahmood William Kaiser and his daughter has married the heir to the Turkish throne, who is to succeed after the Sultan. Many of the German subjects and army have embraced Mohammedism. Please God that the religion of the Germans (Mohammedism) may be promoted or raised on high.”
— Heather Streets-Salter in “The Local Was Global: The Singapore Mutiny of 1915” http://singaporemutiny.wordpress.com/2014/08/05/global-causes-of-the-singapore-mutiny-of-1915/
Remember Kammo, man is forgiven every sin. But no trespass by a woman is ever tolerated.
Chann Pardesee (1980)
(Source: dhrupad, via bhagyawati)
Uski Roti, a film made in 1969, and which still requires a language adequate to it. Possessing neither the column inches nor the language, I’ll put a few jottings down. The film (about a truck driver whose only reason for contact with his young wife is to collect his food or roti, and who also has a mistress) is indeed slow — or subjected to deliberate retardation. So slow, in fact, that there are times you feel you’re looking at a photo album. As with the album, both the images and the juxtapositions draw you in. An album’s narrative is implicit; its impact derives from the way clusters of similar-seeming pictures are arranged from page to page. In Uski Roti, disconcertingly, the near-still pictures move intermittently, with fast and slow movements. Stillness invokes the private rapture of confronting a photograph, as a memory is recognized or even engendered; movement, in the film, suggests contemporariness and, sometimes, Godard, as when the bus driver smokes, looks at a magazine, or the camera notices the cut-out of the cherub pasted to his windscreen, which hovers, is motionless, and travels simultaneously. Kaul takes from the short-story writer Mohan Rakesh (who’s his screenplay writer) some of the strange sophistication of the nayi kahani, bringing together, implausibly but beautifully, North Indian rural life with a luminous European-style symbolism. Kaul’s vision of this landscape, and especially of women’s faces, shows us that beauty, for him, is hardly ever timeless and organic: it is urbane, sophisticated and constructed. Both the landscape and the women, in Uski Roti, emanate intelligence.
— Amit Chaudhary http://www.telegraphindia.com/1140713/jsp/opinion/story_18604491.jsp#.U8YOdvmSxda
Chann Pardesee (1980)
So instead of crying wolf about leaving the country if Modi comes to power, it would be better to be here and go deeper into India. In blaming only the big media and corporate houses for the rise of Modi, the anti-Modi progressive camp displays its own dependence on the good will and supposed democratic sensibility or leanings of corporate India, the Congress and like entities—and one’s own bankruptcy and spinelessness.
— Saroj Giri http://www.outlookindia.com/article.aspx?290061
There is a shift from “being to having”, and then from “having to appearing”. Social relationships become maintained through images and commodities. The IPL is a perfect example: the crowd attend to be seen, behaviour is altered to present a representation of the self.
If you’re a boy writer, it’s a simple rule: you’ve gotta get used to the fact that you suck at writing women and that the worst women writer can write a better man than the best male writer can write a good woman. And it’s just the minimum. Because the thing about the sort of heteronormative masculine privilege, whether it’s in Santo Domingo, or the United States, is you grow up your entire life being told that women aren’t human beings, and that women have no independent subjectivity. And because you grow up with this, it’s this huge surprise when you go to college and realize that, “Oh, women aren’t people who does my shit and fucks me.”
And I think that this a huge challenge for boys, because they want to pretend they can write girls. Every time I’m teaching boys to write, I read their women to them, and I’m like, “Yo, you think this is good writing?” These motherfuckers attack each other over cliche lines but they won’t attack each other over these toxic representations of women that they have inherited… their sexist shorthand, they think that is observation. They think that their sexist distortions are insight. And if you’re in a writing program and you say to a guy that their characters are sexist, this guy, it’s like you said they fucking love Hitler. They will fight tooth and nail because they want to preserve this really vicious sexism in the art because that is what they have been taught.
And I think the first step is to admit that you, because of your privilege, have a very distorted sense of women’s subjectivity. And without an enormous amount of assistance, you’re not even going to get a D. I think with male writers the most that you can hope for is a D with an occasional C thrown in. Where the average women writer, when she writes men, she gets a B right off the bat, because they spent their whole life being taught that men have a subjectivity. In fact, part of the whole feminism revolution was saying, “Me too, motherfuckers.” So women come with it built in because of the society.
It’s the same way when people write about race. If you didn’t grow up being a subaltern person in the United States, you might need help writing about race. Motherfuckers are like ‘I got a black boy friend,’ and their shit sounds like Klan Fiction 101.
The most toxic formulas in our cultures are not pass down in political practice, they’re pass down in mundane narratives. It’s our fiction where the toxic virus of sexism, racism, homophobia, where it passes from one generation to the next, and the average artist will kill you before they remove those poisons. And if you want to be a good artist, it means writing, really, about the world. And when you write cliches, whether they are sexist, racist, homophobic, classist, that is a fucking cliche. And motherfuckers will kill you for their cliches about x, but they want their cliches about their race, class, queerness. They want it in there because they feel lost without it. So for me, this has always been the great challenge.
As a writer, if you’re really trying to write something new, you must figure out, with the help of a community, how can you shed these fucking received formulas. They are received. You didn’t come up with them. And why we need fellow artists is because they help us stay on track. They tell you, “You know what? You’re a bit of a fucking homophobe.” You can’t write about the world with these simplistic distortions. They are cliches. People know art, always, because they are uncomfortable. Art discomforts. The trangressiveness of art has to deal with confronting people with the real. And sexism is a way to avoid the real, avoiding the reality of women. Homophobia is to avoid the real, the reality of queerness. All these things are the way we hide from encountering the real. But art, art is just about that.
— Junot Diaz speaking at Word Up Bookshop, 2012 (via clambistro)
(Source: ofgrammatology, via annaverve)
FASCISM: Whenever we prefer power to justice.
By the 1980s, the center of radical activity had moved away from working-class organizations and toward what came to be called the “new social movements.” Problems of race, gender, and sexuality were generating the most self-conscious, committed, and consequential political subjects. Though economic exploitation remained pretty much what it had been, even its most egregious victims now often thought of themselves first as members of some other category than exploited workers. This story has been told many times, but in very different tones of voice. Democratic pluralists like Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe celebrated the shift: We are finally free from the tyranny of “economic determination in the final instance”! Others were more skeptical. Walter Benn Michaels, for example, accused the celebrants of a conspiracy to aid and abet ever-worsening economic inequality. Balibar placed himself between the two extremes: he was hospitable to the new movements, but in Marxism’s name and in Marxist terms. Or to put this another way, the conceptual work he set about doing in these years was a renovation of the house of Marxism so that it could accommodate those who demanded recognition as well as those who demanded redistribution. This double fidelity was not unique, but it continues to set him apart from many of his peers, Žižek and Badiou among them.