“Those whom we see as different have helped us define ourselves”

“Those whom we see as different have helped us…

In the Nemi Chandra Jain memorial lecture delivered in New Delhi on 16 August, Romila Thapar explains the historical context that forms background to contemporary definitions of the “Other” and the “Self”. The “Self” in every culture, she argues, although different, is defined viz-a-viz the “Other”, a dynamic category, which transforms with the changes that the particular society is subjected to over time, socially and culturally. This “Otherness” is often used to marginalise or ghettoise people in cultures across the world since years, of which today’s hoardes of refugees are a result. Thapar adds that contemporary Indian society also falls back on colonial thinking which sharpened the definition of “otherness”, based on the concept of race, giving rise to flawed categories like “civilised” and “primitive”. Therefore, questioning the whole pettiness of the idea of the “Other”, she says, “those whom we see as different, often help us define ourselves, individually and socially”.


Bezwada Wilson & TM Krishna in conversation with Nilanjana Roy

Bezwada Wilson & TM Krishna in conversation with Nilanjana…

This conversation with Bezwada Wilson and TM Krishna was part of the Indus Conversations series by Tulika Books, 11 December 2016. TM Krishna, a carnatic music vocalist and social commentator, and Bezwada Wilson, National Convenor of the Safai Karamchari Andolan, are recipients of the 2016 Ramon Magsaysay Awards. TM Krishna was honoured for his work toward “social inclusiveness in culture”, and his sustained efforts to bring music and arts to the marginalised sections of society, particularly in the underdeveloped rural areas of Tamil Nadu. Bezwada Wilson has spent his life campaigning against manual scavenging. He founded the community based  Safai Karamchari Andolan (SKA) to fight for the eradication of manual scavenging.
The conversation of the two awardees with writer Nilanjana Roy probes a range of issues from the meaning of liberty and equality, and nationalism and freedom, to the experience of caste based discrimination, and the role of art in changing our perpectives of the world.

सांस्कृतिक अवमूल्यन की राजनीतिक साज़िश

सांस्कृतिक अवमूल्यन की राजनीतिक साज़िश

बोलने की आज़ादी पर बढ़ते हमलों के इस दौर में जो सबसे बड़े प्रश्न हमारे सामने खड़े हैं वह यह है की इन हमलों के सांस्कृतिक प्रभाव क्या होंगे और कितने घातक होंगे? सांस्कृतिक क्षेत्र अनिवार्य रूप से सामाजिक-राजनीतिक क्षेत्र से जुड़ा हुआ है, तथा इन हलकों में चल रहीं हलचलों की तरंगें सांस्कृतिक क्षेत्र में स्वतः ही दिखायी पड़तीं हैं। राजनीतिक सत्ता सांस्कृतिक क्षेत्र में घुसपैठ की कोशिश हमेशा ही करती है, लेकिन देश की मौजूदा सरकार की यह घुसपैठ मुसलसल आक्रामक होती जा रही है। इस आक्रामकता का पुरज़ोर विरोध लेखकों और कलाकर्मियों ने किया है और कर रहे हैं। संस्कृति के राजनीतिक-सामाजिक आयाम और कविता में विरोध की प्रवत्ति आदि विषयों पर प्रसिद्ध कवि अशोक वाजपेयी के साथ सोनाली की बातचीत।