Banning of a Book launch
The First Maitreyee Chattopadhyay Memorial Lecture, in memory of Maitreyee Chattopadhyay, a leader of the women's movement, titled Parijayee Nari O Manabadhikar, and delivered by Professor Jasodhara Bagchi, was scheduled to be released formally today, the 3rd of February 2014, at Montmartre, in the Calcutta Book Fair at 5-45p.m. At the last moment, the Book Fair authorities, that is, the Publishers and Booksellers Guild, cancelled the programme on the plea that Women's Oppression is a disputed and objectionable matter. We consider this action a direct interference in democratic right of freedom of expression and sharply condemn this.
In order to avoid or suppress discussions on violence or oppression on women, it is sometimes being called 'internal' or 'domestic affairs'. Here it was called a disputed issue. But violence on women is not at all a disputed or debatable issue, rather, it is an issue that needs to be condemned at all levels. In particular, the imposition of this ban in West Bengal, in the light of the widespread violence on women, assumes a special significance. The pamphlet Parijayee Nari discusses how through various processes like marriage, work, trafficking, women are moved out of one place and shifted elsewhere, and how they thereby face diverse forms of discrimination. From its birth, the Calcutta Book Fair had been a space where opinions could be expressed freely, views exchanged, and protests articulated. We have in the past protested here against the undemocratic decision to block the publication of Taslima Nasreen's book. But it was totally unexpected to us that the Guild authorities would be afraid about the publication of a book on discrimination against women.
We hope that in future the Guild authorities will refrain from taking such undemocratic steps, and will respect divergent opinions adequately.
Ruchira Goswami, Mira Roy,
Nari Nirjatan Pratirodh Mancha
‘Whither CPI (Maoist)’?
I could not really understand if this is an independent commentary or a review/commentary on someone's observation. However, this is less important. What is more important is the content.
The writer, Harsh Thakor [Frontier, Feruary 2-8, 2014] is very concerned about the Indian revolution and places the Maoist practice on the top of the contributors in it, though he puts across his areas of criticism in no uncertain terms. His criticism includes the lopsided emphasis of the Maoists on armed practice, on their stubborn negligence to other forms of struggle including electoral struggle, the near-impossibility of replicating the line of surrounding the cities by villages, their inability to distinguish Indian condition from the Chinese in the early half of the last century etc. He is also critical of the fact of viewing the current Maoist practice in India with that in Peru and Phillipines.
It all appears that a mass revolutionary resistance supported by armed might is what he prefers as a political line and finds such practice in North Bihar by the erstwhile PU group of CPI(ML) and also in some parts of AP by the PWG.
However, the question remains, why such practices simply vanished with the unification of those groups in the CP(Maoist)? It all appears that the Maoists have much less to learn from the legacy and have shunned the path, apparently out of frustration. Quite evidently they have not seen much prospect in what Thakor finds prospective. And even then Thakor is ready to heap praise on the current practice of the Maoists!
Well, it is all very understandable to revere the sacrifice made by the cadres and leaders in the jungle terrain fighting Indian army. Such sacrifices are truly laudable and salute-worthy. It is all very natural to be sympathetic to them for whoever is concerned about a brighter future for the people and the country. I don't have a problem with that. What I find problematic is in extending political support to them. If their one-sided emphasis on armed struggle is to be criticized, if their blind boycott line is not to be supported, if their policy of surrounding the cities by villages is misplaced and their decisive departure from their own past of mass political resistance is lamentable, what remains to be supported in their political line? And if you are not able to extend political support to an avowed political force, what this sympathy really worth?
I remember someone depicting the Zapatista movement in Chiapas in the mid-1980 as 'Enchanters'. Well, such adventurous efforts can bring a different taste to the mundane middle class life, but nothing more, perhaps.
Another thing I find perplexing in this commentary is a total omission of Bhojpur in the context of mass political resistance and efforts taken by CPI(ML) Liberation in central Bihar in the 1980s, which still persists! It is one matter to criticize CPI(ML) or brand it 'revisionist' at the level of political line and entirely another to turn a blind eye to its practice which is a reality.
Anindya Sen, Kolkata
It is impossible to see in isolation the latest beating that resulted in the death of a young boy from North East who was studying in North India and was on a visit to Delhi. It not only reminds one of the exodus of the north east people from the South some time back, but also brings to mind all other major manifestations of violent discrimination each of which hogged the national headlines for some time. However, no meaningful steps, whether short- or long- term, were taken to stop recurrence of such abominable incidents. Rather, the intolerance and barbarity appear to be on the rise in the society.
The rational and peace-loving people, who subscribe to sanity, cannot but oppose any and every discrimination—be it on the basis of geographical region, such as north east, or religion, or caste, or gender, or colour, or nationality, or any other.
NAPM, Khudai Khidmatgar
Vol. 46, No. 36, Mar 16 - 22, 2014