Saturday, 31 October 2015

Bangladeshi fascists continue to kill - Secular publisher hacked to death & other attacked

A Bangladeshi publisher of secular books has been hacked to death in the capital Dhaka in the second attack of its kind on Saturday, police say.

Faisal Arefin Dipon, 43, was killed at his office in the city centre, hours after another publisher and two secular writers were injured in an attack. A local affiliate of al-Qaeda said it carried out the attacks. There has been a series of attacks on secularists since blogger Avijit Roy was hacked to death in February. 

Both publishers targeted on Saturday published Roy's work. Mr Dipon was found dead at the Jagriti Prokashoni publishing house, in his third-floor office. "I saw him lying upside down and in a massive pool of blood. They slaughtered his neck. He is dead," his father, the writer Abul Kashem Fazlul Haq, said, quoted by AFP.

Earlier on Saturday, armed men burst into the offices of publisher Ahmedur Rashid Tutul.
They stabbed Mr Tutul and two writers who were with him, locked them in an office and fled the scene, police said. The three men were rushed to hospital, and at least one of them is in a critical condition. The two writers were named by police as Ranadeep Basu and Tareque Rahim.

Ansar al-Islam, al-Qaeda's Bangladeshi affiliate, posted messages online saying it had carried out Saturday's attacks. Roy, a US citizen of Bangladeshi origin and critic of radical Islamism, was murdered in February by suspected Islamists. His wife and fellow blogger Bonya Ahmed was badly injured in the attack. Three other bloggers have since been killed.

Timeline: Attacks on bloggers
  • 27 February: Avijit Roy attacked and killed while walking home from a book fair. His wife Bonya Ahmed was also hurt
  • 30 March: Washiqur Rahman hacked to death near his home in Dhaka
  • 12 May: Blogger Ananta Bijoy Das attacked and killed in Sylhet
  • 7 August: Blogger Niloy Neel hacked to death at home by gang armed with machetes

See also

NB: This writer sums up the challenge we face in differing degrees all over South Asia. The state has withdrawn its protection from citizens who adopt unconventional ideas or practices. When the state refuses to defend even the right to life of a person because he/she is an atheist/apostate/kafir etc, we have yet another version of authoritarianism. When fanatics celebrate the brutal murder of people who dare to think differently, we have an Orwellian dystopia come to life - DS 

The Broken Middle (on the 30th anniversary of 1984)

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

India Today: Reasons for Concern by Jairus Banaji, 27 October 2015

Full text of the opening remarks statement read out by Jairus Banaji in his capacity as Chair at the public lecture titled "Indian Society and the Secular" by Romila Thapar delivered on 26 October 2015 in Bombay.

Romila Thapar: What Secularism is and Where It Needs to Be Headed
Secularism begins with uniform civil code: Romila Thapar

India Today: Reasons for Concern
The BJP’s victory in the Lok Sabha elections of 2014 has ushered in an unprecedented attack on India’s democracy and injected new elements of intolerance and authoritarianism in the lives of people living in the country. Behind the mask of a developmental regime promising rapid industrial expansion and millions of jobs for the mass of unemployed youth, we’ve seen instead a hideous explosion of the cultural politics of the Extreme Right, overt acclamations of a Hindu rashtra; a wide-ranging takeover of educational and cultural institutions by the RSS; a rampant culture of violence targeting freedom of expression, freedom of religion, intellectual freedoms, even the freedom of the young to love; a calculated drive to communalise voters in North India with hate campaigns that have led to the horrid lynchings at Dadri and Udhampur; a shocking subversion of the judicial system through a concerted drive to secure the release of elements indicted on fake encounter and terrorism charges; fabrication of evidence to crush a handful of individuals who have campaigned for justice for the victims of the Gujarat violence; and of course the brazen murder of anti-superstition crusaders.

The fabric of India’s democracy is today being torn to shreds. This is the first government in independent India where the RSS is overtly in command. We are further away from both Nehru and Ambedkar than ever before, from Nehru’s contempt for the RSS as a harbinger of fascism, and Ambedkar’s vision of a casteless India. (It’s worth recalling that in December 1947 Nehru wrote: ‘We have a great deal of evidence to show that the R.S.S. is an organisation which is in the nature of a private army and which is definitely proceeding on the strictest Nazi lines’; and again in December 1948, ‘The R.S.S. is typical…of the type of organisation that grew up in various parts of Eurpe in support of fascism’) In this brief statement I’d like to draw your attention to three strands of this wide-ranging assault on democracy that merit particular concern.

The most troubling aspect of the state of Indian democracy remains, as always, the appalling culture of impunity that has evolved since the anti-Sikh pogroms for mass crimes that target minorities with the explicit backing of leading political figures. It is appalling that politicians known to be complicit in large-scale communal violence have escaped legal retribution and are not even seen to be seriously threatened by legal sanctions. The fatal omission here in India’s criminal justice system is a clear and robust concept of command responsibility. Even hate speech cannot be combated legally without having to seek the consent of the executive, a preposterous Catch 22.

Majoritarian notions of democracy. These sustain the new cultures of intolerance by giving them a seeming legitimacy. ‘You have hurt my sentiments’ is the fiction used to justify both violence and intolerance. The so-called sentiments that are said to be hurt are manipulated, serial devices akin to the Nazi ‘stab in the back’ theory that was used to justify the attacks on German democracy in the 1920s. Majority and minority are not organic realities, they are serial identities, false manipulated constructions that have no existential reality beyond the manipulations themselves. Any minority constructed by majoritarianism will by the nature of its situation be and feel marginal and insecure. What is affirmed here is a fundamental lack ofequality, a huge black hole at the heart of our democracy.

Organised mysticism and cultures of gullibility Dabholkar, Kalburgi and Pansare were active in combating the organised mysticism and cultures of gullibility widespread at the ‘popular’ level. How can any modern democracy flourish if the supposedly ‘popular’ cultural base is one steeped in various forms of promoted mysticism and credulousness? These enterprises have both an ideological and an economic dimension. They are run by religious entrepreneurs who have every stake in keeping the mass of the population in a state of abject subjugation. They exploit the poor and they reinforce a pervasive cultural domination over them. Witness the latest example of this cynicism, Ramdev’s exhortation to the poor and the middle class to stop eating pulses since the prices have gone through the roof.

If we have a Prime Minister who, as one distinguished writer says in a recent interview, ‘is not doing anything to stem the rising tide of hatred’, it’s worth asking why. The liberal media hankers for a liberal Prime Minister, one who will intervene decisively to crush the extremist fringe and refocus the country’s attention where it matters. But the fringe/Centre binary is seriously misleading in one sense at least. The Hindu Right is not a fragmented movement but one deeply unified at the ideological level, even if it speaks in different voices, through different organisations, and works at a multiplicity of levels. What the media are therefore asking for is for the Prime Minister to repudiate the ideology that spawned him. When Gandhi described the RSS as a ‘communal body with a totalitarian outlook’, he nailed a description that remains as valid today as it was in the forties. Of course, Modi is not Bhagwat, he incarnates that wing of Hindu nationalism that seeks to position itself as modernising India without secularism and without constitutional democracy. The vast mass of citizens in this country have to ask themselves whether that is the vision of India they seriously subscribe to.

Jairus Banaji

see also
The emperor's masks: 'apolitical' RSS calls the shots in Modi sarkar
The Broken Middle - my essay on the 30th anniversary of 1984
The law of killing: a brief history of Indian fascism

Sunday, 25 October 2015

कुमार प्रशांत: यह कलम को कमाने का वक्त है

मुश्ते खाक हैं मगर अांधी के साथ हैं /
बुद्दू मियां भी हजरत--गांधी के साथ हैं !

यह कलम को कमाने का वक्त है

बहुत समय के बाद लेखकों ने हवा का ढंगअपनी कलम का रंग अौर अपनी स्याही का तंज देखने की कोशिश की है इन दोनों के बिना कोई कलमघिस्सू लेखक कैसे हो सकता हैयह मैं जानता-समझता नहीं हूं फिर भी मैं कलम में अास्था रखता हूंइसलिए रोज-रोज लेखकों द्वारा लौटाए जा रहे पुरस्कारों-सम्मानों की खबरों में मैं बड़ी संभावना देखता हूंयह सब मुझे वैसा ही लग रहा है जैसा तब लगता है जब बारिश की संभावना ले कर तेज हवाएं चलती हैं अौर सूखे पत्तों को हवा में उड़ाती हैंउसमें धूल भी उड़ती हैकचरा भी लेकिन न वह हवा ठहरती है अौर न बारिश की संभावनाएं धूमिल पड़ती हैंअकबर इलाहाबादी ने कभी ऐसा ही नजारा देखा था जब लिखा था कि मुश्ते खाक हैं मगर अांधी के साथ हैं /बुद्दू मियां भी हजरत--गांधी के साथ हैं !

2002 मेंसांप्रदायिक दंगों को अपनी राजनीति का अाधार-भूत तत्व बनाने की कला जिस तरह गुजरात में विकसित हुईकान तो उसके बाद से ही चौकन्ने रहने लगे थेकभी ऐसा ही बंगाल में सुहरावर्दी की सरकार ने भी किया थालेकिन तब गांधी थेअौर वे राजधर्म का पालन करने की बात कह करराज्यधर्म का पालन करने में गर्त हो जाने वालों में नहीं थेसो उन्होंने सुहरावर्दी की वर्दी भी उतार ली थी अौर उनका सुनहरापन भी खारिज कर दिया थाफिर सुहरावर्दी की हिम्मत नहीं हुई थी कि गांधी के साथ कलकत्ता की सड़कों परदंगाग्रस्त भीड़ में घुसें लेकिन उस इतिहास में उतरने से बेहतर है कि हम अभी ही बात ही करेंकहानीकार उदयप्रकाश ने जब संताप में अपना सम्मान वापस किया थातब दादरी की घटना नहीं हुई थीतब असहमत विचारकों का सर कलम करने की शुरुअात हुई थी कालबुर्गी उसके नवीनतम शिकार थे उदयप्रकाश ने कहा कि हत्या की उस खबर से अौर उसके प्रति लोगों के रवैये से वे एकदम सन्नाटे में रह गये अौर उन्होंने बेहद अकेलापन महसूस कियाउन्होंने इस अकेलेपन का सामना सम्मान का बोझ उतार कर कियातब भले किसी ने सम्मानवापसी में उदयप्रकाश का साथ नहीं दिया

लेकिन उन्होंने कहीं हलचल तो खड़ी की हीवह समय था कि साहित्य अकादमी या संस्कृति मंत्री या सरकार या सरकार के मुखिया को बात संभालने की पहल करनी चाहिए थीलेकिन गूंगे लोग बहरे भी होते हैं साहित्य अकादमी तो कुंभकर्ण हैकुंभकर्णी नींद सोती रहीइन पंक्तियों का लेखक बगैर किसी सम्मान-उपाधि से ग्रस्तएक अदना-सा कलमकार तो है ही अौर इसने हर अवसर परकलम से सरकार व समाज को सावधान करने कीहर संभव कोशिश की हैइसलिए भी उदयप्रकाशजी की पहल ने मुझे जगायाअशोक वाजपेयी ने भी लगातार यहां-वहां टिप्पणियां लिखींदूसरे लोग भी थे कि जो अपने स्तर पर अावाज लगाते रहेलेकिन नये निजाम ने चलन यह बनाया है कि हर अावाज की ऐसी अनसुनी करो कि वह मर जाए घटनाएं लगातार घटती रहीं जो भिन्न सोचने वालों को अपमानित करती रहीं अौर असहमति की अावाज को उपेक्षित करती रहींइसलिए ऐसा तो नहीं ही था कि कोई अावाज नहीं थी अौर अचानक मेढ़क टर्राने लगेजब बारिश के अासार होते हैं तब मेढ़क टर्राते हैं -जरूरी नहीं कि तभी अापको बारिश की बूंदें भी दिखाई दें !

अशोक वाजपेयी ने जब सम्मान अादि वापस किया तो बात कुछ अलग तरह से गूंजी गूंज का सबसे पहला प्रत्युत्तर नयनतारा सहगल ने दिया वे साफ बोलींजोर से बोलींमुझे याद अाया कि १९७४ में जब जयप्रकाश ने सामने से अाती तानाशाही को पहचान कर देश को झकझोरने-जगाने का उपक्रम छेड़ रखा था अौर बुद्धिजीवी इस दुविधा में पड़े थे कि किस गली से निकलेंतब विजयलक्ष्मी पंडित अौर उनकी बेटी नयनतारा सहगल ने बयान दे कर ही नहींपटना पहुंच कर जयप्रकाश को नैतिक बल दिया थातो उस साहस से इस साहस की कड़ी जुड़ जाती है अौर हम पहचान पाते हैं कि लेखक हमेशा कलम को तलवार बनाए घूमे यह न जरूरी है अौर न शक्य ही लेकिन इतना जरूर होना चाहिए कि कलम को तलवार बनाने की घड़ी में वह दुम दबातासरकता नजर न अाएहमारे ५० से ज्यादा जिन कलाकारों ने सम्मान अादि वापस किए हैं उन्होंने यही किया है न इससे कमन इससे ज्यादा यह सरकार से लड़ने याकि किसी को अपमानित करने की पर्दे के पीछे से चली जा रही चाल नहीं हैयह कलमकारों-कलाकारों की निजी अस्वीकृति जाहिर करने की सबसे लोकतांत्रिक सार्वजनिक अभिव्यक्ति है.

निजी असहमति की इस सार्वजनिक उदघोषणा में कितने रचनाकार शामिल हुए हैंउनमें कौन कहां से अाया हैइनमें कौन नरेंद्र मोदी के समर्थक या विरोधी रहे हैंकौन किस विचारधारा से जुड़ा है जैसे सवाल अब बेमानी हो चुके हैंअस्वीकृति में उठे इन हाथों ने राष्ट्रीय शक्ल ही नहीं ले ली है बल्कि ये राष्ट्रमन की अभिव्यक्ति बन गये हैंहम नामों अौर राज्यों की सूचियां बना भर लेने से इसे समझ नहीं सकेंगेसत्ता को भी अौर अपना नाम-इकराम जिन्होंने वापस नहीं किया हैउन सबको भी यदि कुछ समझना है तो वह यह कि सत्ता अौर राजनीति अौर उससे बननेवाला अाभामंडल उतना ही सच है जितना पानी का बुलबुला सत्ता का हो कि न होसमाज के लोकतांत्रिक मिजाज का विकास होता रहता है अौर अंततवह संस्कृति का रूप अख्तियार कर लेता हैयही संस्कृति है जो अाज अपनी पीड़ा व्यक्त कर रही हैइसे लांक्षित या अपमानित करने की कोई भी कोशिश सफल नहीं होगी क्योंकि यह व्यक्तियों की अावाज नहीं हैविकसित होती जाती भारतीय समाज की अावाज हैकभी कबीर ने तो कभी गालिब नेकभी गांधी ने तो कभी बुद्ध नेकभी तुलसी ने तो कभी नानक ने इसकी गांठें बांधी हैंइसका तानाबाना इस कदर गुंथा हुअा बनता गया है कि इसे बिखरने की हर कोशिश बेपनाह दर्द अौर क्षोभ पैदा करेगीइसलिए हम सबको यह कबूल करके ही अागे चलना है कि हमारे बीच खींचतान चाहे जितनी होहत्या अौर अपमान जो भी एक तरह की हत्या ही है !) तक कोई नहीं जाएगानहीं जाने दिया जाएगा.

यह बात कौन कहेगा हमने लोकतंत्र में यह भूमिका सरकार को सौंपी हैसरकार है क्या इसके सिवा कि वह चलते खेल के मैदान में भागती-दौड़ती अंपायर है जिसका काम ही है कि जिधर से भीजरा सी भी गलती हो तो वह सीटी बजाए ! ' चूके तो सीटी बजेगी अौर हम खेल से बाहर कर दिए जाएंगे !' यह अहसास समाज में बना रहे तो खेल भी चलता रहता है अौर अानंद भीशर्त यह है कि सीटी बजाने में देरी न होपक्षपात न हो वह हो तो लोकतंत्र में हमने दूसरी व्यवस्था बनाई है कि अदालत हैअखबार है कि जिसे चुप्पी तोड़ने अौर पक्षपात रोकने का काम करना चाहिए. पहली व्यवस्था संविधानसम्मत हैदूसरी व्यवस्था संविधान की जनक है लेकिन वहां भी चूक या विभ्रम हो तो लोकतंत्र की अाखिरी अदालत लोगों की होती ही है लोकमत की अदालत यह सबसे बड़ी अौर एकदम अाखिरी अदालत है जिसका कोई एक दावेदार नहीं हैयह परिस्थितियों के गर्भ से पैदा होती है अौर राह बना कर-दिखा कर अोट हो जाती हैयहां हमारी सामूहिक पीड़ा की गूंज भी उठती है अौर हमारा सामूहिक संकल्प भी अाकार लेता हैअच्छी सरकार का चरित्र ही है कि वह लोकमत की तरफ कान भी अौर ध्यान भी लगाए.

रचनाकारों के सम्मान-पुरस्कार-पद अादि छोड़ने को हम गलत अादि कहेंगे या यह सवाल उठाएंगे कि तब क्यों नहीं लौटाया था कि अब लौटा रहे हैंतो अपना ही नंग जाहिर करेंगेकुछ रचनाकार कह रहे हैं कि अपनी असम्मति व्यक्त करने के दूसरे रास्ते भी हैं जिन्हें अपनाना चाहिएजरूर अपनाना चाहिए लेकिन अपनाइए तो अागे बढ़ कर रास्ता तो दिखाइए कि कलम की अाजादी के कारण मिले सम्मान कोकलम पर लग रहे प्रतिबंध के विरोध में वापस करने से भी अच्छा प्रतिरोध इस नहींइस तरीके से हो सकता है !अाप वापस करें नहीं अौर दूसरा कुछ करें नहींयह साथ तो नहीं चलेगा न यह छह इंच की सपाट-सीबेदम-सी दीखने वाली यह कलम बड़ी कमबख्त चीज हैयह बहुत कम वक्त के लिए स्याही से चलती हैफिर हमारे ललाट से टपकते पसीने अौर हमारी अास्था का लहू पी कर ही चलती हैअब अापकी कलम चलेगी या किसी की धुन पर नाचेगीअपनी-अपनी कलमों के बारे में इसका फैसला कलमकार ही करेंगे.

यह ऐसा ही एक वक्त है. ( 23.10.2015)
कुमार प्रशांत

see also

Friday, 23 October 2015

Khaled Ahmed: Separate, but not different. India takes stock after Dadri, Pakistan’s minorities languish under the law

Pakistani judges don’t shy away from announcing personal piety in their judgments, and no one protests the injustice dished out to people who can’t be considered pious because they are non-Muslim. That’s what happens when you found a state on religion. On August 23, Dawn reported what Hindus of Karachi felt was happening to them. You have to harden your heart to read this. Those in India who feel bad about the Dadri lynching will empathise with this Karachi community. Are we separate without being different?

In Karachi’s Jogi Morr in Qayyumabad there are slums where human beings live in excrement. The slum is worse than usual because the inhabitants are Hindus. It has been home to 4,000 Marwari-Gujaratis for the last 60 years. They must have moved to Karachi from the desert, their original home. Their leader, Krishan Bhandari, says the locality gets no water or electricity for days. “Our children left school because they don’t have identity cards as Hindus, and problems of livelihood have escalated because not a single government team has visited since 2008 when 10 per cent of us procured cards,” he says.

Why no ID cards? Because someone especially pious — probably a bearded, middle-aged, born-again Muslim in the card-issuing authority, Nadra — asked for documentation the Hindus simply can’t procure. He makes them visit his office again and again so that he can reject their paperwork and refuse them ID cards. He asks them to bring “certified marriage certificates”. Any sane person would laugh at the demand; but Pakistan has gone insane with religion.

Bhandari asks: “Where is the law that grants Hindu marriage permits?” Muslims have marriage (nikah) documentation centres, but the state forgot to arrange something like that for non-Muslims too. What is more, state-run hospitals refuse treatment to Hindus because charity treatment is funded by an Islamic tax called zakat, which cannot be given to non-Muslims — a medieval throwback to times when non-Muslims were not full citizens.

Twenty-year-old Dhaniya, supporting a family of eight, worked in a factory till he was dismissed for not having an ID card. So how does one survive as a Hindu in this slum? One borrows, after which one becomes a bonded slave worker. In Lahore, a Christian couple, Shama and Shahzad, paying off debt while working at a brick kiln in Kot Radha Kishan, was accused of blasphemy in November 2014. A mob of pious Muslims beat them to death before burning them in the brick kiln. The government took action, locked up the kiln-owner, who was ripping off bonded labour, and rounded up the mob. A similar case came up in Kabul, Afghanistan, in which another pious mob killed and burned a girl falsely accused of blasphemy.

After this, ironies crowd in, which a dysfunctional religious state can’t grasp. As the Christian couple burned, their children were saved and sent away by their grandfather, Mukhtar Masih, to their uncle’s home. The four children of Shama and Shahzad were adopted by the Cecil and Iris Chaudhry Foundation, run by Cecil Chaudhry’s daughter, Michelle Chaudhry, to allow them to survive and get educated. Here the irony strikes thick and fast: Cecil Chaudhry was Pakistan’s ace pilot who shot down so many Indian jets that he was awarded the highest military award of the country. After retiring from the air force, he ran Lahore’s St Anthony’s High School and its dozens of branches open to Muslims in smaller towns. Pakistan’s prime minister went to that school.

In the book, The Independence of India and Pakistan: New Approaches and Reflections (2013), edited by Ian Talbot, it is surmised that “the origin of Christianity in Punjab is dated back [by some writers] to the work of St Thomas in the first century AD”. In 1947, Christians, led by their leaders in Lahore, opted to stay in Pakistan because Muslims accepted “the people of the book” and had a common belief in some of their prophets.

They had no idea that Pakistan would someday have a blasphemy law targeting Christians, who would not be saved by judges publicising their piety with beards and convicting innocent Christians, including children, for fear of being mauled by mobs sent by jihadi non-state actors. In the first week of December 1997, the archbishop of Canterbury, George Carey, visited Pakistan. After meeting with the church officialdom, he called on the government in Islamabad to repeal the blasphemy law because it had become the cause of persecution of Christians in Pakistan.

The Urdu press reacted angrily and got a variety of ulema to issue statements against the archbishop. The English-language press was positive and recorded the archbishop’s appeal faithfully. The Urdu press was on the verge of being abusive, printing statements asking him to go away. Have South Asian mother tongues gone toxic?

The writer is consulting editor, ‘Newsweek Pakistan’.

Gabriel Gorodetsky: The secret diary of Stalin’s man in Churchill’s London

STALIN’S BLOODY TERROR of the 1930s discouraged any Soviet official from putting pen to paper, let alone keeping a personal diary. The only significant exception is the fascinating, rich journal kept by Ivan Maisky, the Soviet ambassador to London between 1932 and 1943.
Serendipity often lies at the heart of discovery. One can easily imagine how thrilled I was when, by sheer chance, I came across the original, uncensored diary while working in the archives of the Russian Foreign Ministry. 

It was immediately obvious to me that no personal manuscript of such breadth, value, and size has ever emerged from the Russian archives. It would hardly be an exaggeration to suggest that this diary rewrites history that we thought we knew. At its most intimate, the diary contains personal reflections and impressions about people who decided the fate of nations — Winston Churchill, US Ambassador Joseph P. Kennedy, Neville Chamberlain, and a host of others, including H.G. Wells and George Bernard Shaw. At its most substantive, it contains tantalizing revelations about what might have been had the course of the war been different.

Ivan Mikhailovich Lyakhovetsky — who adopted the revolutionary nickname Maisky or “Man of May” — was the son of a Jewish doctor from Poland and a Russian Orthodox schoolteacher. He grew up in a rather bourgeois environment in Tomsk, and was introduced to socialism while studying at the University of St. Petersburg. His early revolutionary activities led to his expulsion from the university and exile to Siberia, where he gravitated toward the Mensheviks — the more moderate faction of the Russian Social Democrats.

In 1908, he went into exile abroad and later joined the large community of Russian political exiles in London. He spent five years there, fostering a close friendship with Maxim Litvinov, who, for two decades was to help steer Soviet foreign policy. Maisky’s outstanding linguistic and intellectual capabilities earned for him the post of a counselor at the London embassy in the mid-1920s, followed two years later by a similar appointment to Tokyo and then a meteoric rise to the ambassadorial post in Helsinki.

The hasty decision to appoint Maisky as ambassador to London at the end of 1932 reflected Litvinov’s very early recognition that Weimar Germany was on her last leg and that the advance of Nazism required a dramatic turnabout in relations with Great Britain and the West. Maisky was instructed to court the Conservatives who were “the real bosses in Britain!” There he remained for an unprecedented 11 eventful years.

Like Churchill, Maisky (regardless of his Marxist beliefs) was fascinated by the role of great men in shaping history. Describing a crucial meeting he had with Churchill in September 1941, when Leningrad was besieged by the German army and the fate of Moscow hung in the air, Maisky wrote:

“I left home a quarter of an hour before the appointed time. The moon shone brightly. Fantastically shaped clouds raced from west to east. When they blotted the moon and their edges were touched with red and black, the whole picture appeared gloomy and ominous. As if the world was on the eve of its destruction. I drove along the familiar streets and thought: ‘A few more minutes, and an important, perhaps decisive historical moment, fraught with the gravest consequences, will be upon us. Will I rise to the occasion? Do I possess sufficient strength, energy, cunning, agility and wit to play my role with maximum success for the USSR and for all mankind?’ ”

read more:

See also
Book review: new biography of Stalin Reviewed by Donald Rayfield

Susan Howe: The essence of Wallace Stevens: Roses, roses. Fable and dream. The pilgrim sun.

A poem is a glass, through which light is conveyed to us.

“March… Someone has walked across the snow,
Someone looking for he knows not what.”

“Singeth spells.” The poetry of Wallace Stevens makes me happy. This is the simple truth. Pleasure springs from the sense of fluid sound patterns phonetic utterance excites in us. Beauty, harmony, and order are represented by the arrangement, and repetition, of particular words on paper. No matter how many theoretical and critical interpretations there are, in the end each new clarity of discipline and delight contains inexplicable intricacies of form and measure. 

The last poems Wallace Stevens gathered together under the general title The Rock are moving, lyric meditations on the civil and particular. As if from some unfathomable source, knowledge derived from sense perception fails, and the unreality of what seems most real floods over us. As a North American poet writing in the early twenty-first century, I owe him an incalculable debt, for ways in which, through word frequencies and zero zones, his writing locates, rescues, and delivers what is various and vagrant in the near at hand. 

As Emily Dickinson put it: 
“The Zeroes—taught us—Phosphorous— / 
We learned to like the Fire.”

“Nothing that is not there and the nothing that is.”
Stevens wrote “The Course of a Particular” when he was 73. It was published in The Hudson Review (Spring 1951) along with “Final Soliloquy of the Interior Paramour,” but omitted by accident (according to the poet) from his 1954Collected Poems. “The Snow Man,” written almost exactly thirty years earlier, is eerily similar. (Both fifteen-line poems progress in tercets from “one” to “no one.”) Perhaps, sounding its spectral refraction, he subtracted his second cold pastoral accidentally on purpose.

Today the leaves cry, hanging on branches swept by wind,
Yet the nothingness of winter becomes a little less.
It is still full of icy shades and shapen snow.
The leaves cry… One holds off and merely hears the cry.
It is a busy cry, concerning someone else.
And though one says that one is part of everything,
There is a conflict, there is a resistance involved;
And being part is an exertion that declines:
One feels the life of that which gives life as it is.
The leaves cry. It is not a cry of divine attention,
Nor the smoke-drift of puffed-out heroes, nor human cry.
It is the cry of leaves that do not transcend themselves,
In the absence of fantasia, without meaning more
Than they are in the final finding of the ear, in the thing
Itself, until, at last, the cry concerns no one at all.

Most critics read the season as autumn. For me, its lyric
 austerity defines late February weather in Guilford, Connecticut. Often on afternoon winter walks out on the quarry during this coldest month, there is hardly any foliage to cry in the raw air. Some brittle oak leaves still cling to their branches like tattered camouflage while tiny salt hay spindles scud across withered grass and frost-worked asphalt. Smoke-drift from indoor woodstoves is another vagrant variant. So is the coldness of green. The idea that green can be cold comes to me from Thoreau, who notes pine-green coldness in winter woods and the way light straggles

For Stevens, “Today the leaves cry, hanging on branches swept by wind, / Yet the nothingness of winter becomes a little less. / It is still full of icy shades and shapen snow.” “Shapen” is an obsolete past participle. This wild word relic softly and serenely concerns no one. Its pastness echoes in the sound of wind soughing through pitch pines.

On my way home, I see a small stream rushing along under ice. Maybe the nature of a particular can be understood only in relation to sound inside the sense it quickens. Setting sun. A mourning dove compounds invisible declensions.

“Deep dove, placate you in your hiddenness.”

In an essay titled “The Present State of Poetry” in American Poetry at Midcentury, Delmore Schwartz recalled: “In 1936 Stevens read his poems for the first time at Harvard—it was probably the first time he had ever read his poetry in public—and the occasion was at once an indescribable ordeal and a precious event. Before and after reading each poem, Stevens spoke of the nature of poetry…the least sound counts, he said, the least sound and the least syllable. His illustration of this observation was wholly characteristic: he told of how he had wakened that week after midnight and heard the sounds made by a cat walking delicately and carefully on the crusted snow outside his house.”... read more:

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Sedition charge on finance minister Arun Jaitley for slamming SC’s NJAC ruling

NEW DELHI: A UP court has slapped sedition charges on finance minister Arun Jaitley for criticizing the Supreme Court's recent decision striking down the National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC) for selection of judges to the higher judiciary. 

Taking suo motu cognizance of Jaitley's criticism of the verdict, civil judge of Mahoba in Jhansi district Ankit Goel summoned him to be present before him on November 19. Goel had earlier issued summons against SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav for his purported comment that allegations of gang rape could often be fabricated.

The judge in his order said the finance minister's blog 'Indian democracy cannot be a tyranny of the unelected' prima facie amounted to sedition under Section 124A as well as causing public mischief under Section 505 of Indian Penal Code. The court said under Section 190 of Criminal Procedure Code, it was entitled to take cognizance of the statements which were published in various newspapers. 

Section 124A says "whoever, by words, either spoken or written, or by signs, or by visible representation, or otherwise, brings or attempts to bring into hatred or contempt, or excites or attempts to excite disaffection towards the government established by law shall be punished under the section". 

Several people, including constitutional experts, have criticized the verdict of the apex court which on October 16 quashed the NJAC Act and revived the two-decade-old collegium system for appointment of judges. The finance minister, writing in his personal capacity, had held that the SC's verdict striking down the 99th constitutional amendment to turn the appointment of judges into an exclusive prerogative of judiciary was tantamount to rewriting the Constitution. 

Saying that the SC was acting like a third chamber of the legislature, he suggested that the verdict was biased against the political class and was a prescription for "tyranny of the unelected".  Noted criminal lawyer Amarendra Saran termed the civil judge's order "atrocious". "Just and fair criticism of the court's verdict is allowed in our country and it is a part and parcel of evolution of law. We do criticize the order every day in court proceedings and that is why appeal is filed," he said.

see also
Public Appeal - Resist degradation of Indian criminal justice system
The importance of Professor Kalburgi
"Leftists never condemn Islamist terror"

Jyoti Punwani - Let us not give our Islamic neighbour a run for its money
RSS Declared Unlawful: Text of GOI communique February 4, 1948
Smruti Koppikar - Maharashtra CM has no will to pursue my father’s murder
Petition in Supreme Court Accuses NIA of Soft-Pedaling Hindutva Terror Cases

After Malegaon, Ajmer Blast Case Faces Allegations of Sabotage // Witnesses turn hostile in Samjhauta case
The law of killing: a brief history of Indian fascism