Githa Hariharan speaks at the Shoolini University Lit Fest

It had been 100 hours of “search and survey” by the Enforcement Directorate at the residence of Newsclick’s editor in chief, Prabir Purkayastha, and author, Githa Hariharan who were effectively held in their own home without freedom of movement. Newsclick and its associates who faced the raids garnered solidarity in large numbers from readers, journalists and their unions, and political organisations. Statements and tweets condemned the raids as an intimidation tactic to browbeat independent media that refuses to tow the official line.

Despite the ordeal of inordinately long “search” procedures of its office premises and those associated with it, Newsclick continued to function and report on issues of the people that do not figure anywhere in the mainstream media. Githa Hariharan, amidst the uncertainty of ongoing raids and the concomitant physical and mental costs, kept her commitment and attended a session at the Shoolini University Literature Festival, where she was a speaker.

In conversation with Manju Jaidka, Githa Hariharan speaks about her award winning novel The Thousand Faces of Night, about living diversity, resisting a single story, about rivers of resistance that have been flowing for a thousand years through villages, towns and cities, and reads powerful passages from her last work I Have Become the Tide about the wind teaching us to move, against old orders.

“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”.