Manu Kant’s Haiku

‘Tihar awaits Modi Haters’

Vijay Singh

In this *volume Manu Kant presents his latest haiku and poems on the theme of Narendra Modi.

From its origins in Japan the haiku has travelled far. Rabindranath Tagore translated haiku from the Japanese and himself wrote them in Bengali. The Gujarati poet Jhinabhai 'Sneharashmi' was a popular writer in this genre. Omer Tarin in Pakistan has written haiku. In February 2008 a gathering of haiku poets, haijin, was held in Bangalore from India, Bangladesh, the US and Europe.

Traditionally haiku are written on the themes of nature, the seasons, animals, and children. However the social content of the haiku has extended over time. Omer Tarin, for example, has penned haiku on Hiroshima and global nuclear disarmament which have been read in peace conferences in a number of countries. His haiku have also had a mystical regard for nature, life and the universe said to be redolent of the Punjab sufi movement. The 'beat poet' Jack Kerouac in his time used the haiku form for his poetry. Another stream of haiku has been written under the influence of the revolutionary socialist movement. Here one can think of the socialist haiku of 'Truth Addict' who presented the worker's exploitation in capitalist society and the establishment of socialism :
It was Spring time
The workers had just got home
Their bones stiff with pain
The workers themselves come to understand that the ruling class bosses were at the root of their exploitation :
They worked them to death
And paid them very little
The workers came to the conclusion that they had to revolt and take over political power:
They took over their work
And brought down the government
And started over
The poet describes the new socialist society and the new division of labour under self-governance. He concludes:
The revolution
They had always dreamt about
Was coming to life.

The haiku and poetry (it can be seen from the present collection that the poet does not limit himself to the three-line haiku) of Manu Kant are inextricably mingled with socialist and democratic values and traditions. Born into a progressive family he studied TV journalism in a foremost educational institution in the Soviet Union, Moscow State University. He was a witness to the all-round financial, economic, political and ideological crisis in the USSR under Gorbachev, and its final collapse. Manu Kant has written a widely-circulated book on the collapsing of the Soviet Union before his very eyes. He maintains his support for the revolutionary Soviet Union of the period of Lenin and Stalin. He is, as may be expected, influenced by the high traditions of socialist realism. This is evident from his uniting socialist values with the struggle of the democratic forces at the present moment of time. Manu Kant is no armchair observer.

There can be no doubt that the rise of Modi and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) represents an over-riding shadow on the working class and working people of the country today. So it is not a surprise that Manu Kant has wrestled with this phenomenon. The dark forces represented by the BJP originate from political forces which had no link with the anti-colonial struggle against British imperialism which was comprised of the nationalist trend of the Congress party and the CPI and socialist forces. The theorists of Hindutva considered that it was more vital for them to oppose the Muslim minority and the Communists than for them to lambast the colonial authorities. The Hindutva trend inspired Godse to carry out the assassination of Gandhi. Political life after 1947 was dominated by the Congress Party and those political currents which broke away from it, the left and particularly the different wings of the communist movement which have called for a continued fight against imperialism. For the first time those who openly supported the colonial government have come to power.

Today the BJP is pushing for the greater introduction of foreign capital into the country from the US, Japan and other imperialist powers which will strengthen their collaboration with the big Indian bourgeoisie (the Ambanis, Tatas and Adanis). Massive erosion of the rights of labour are underway as have already been enacted in Rajasthan. Parallel with this environmental restrictions on capital are being planned which will lead to a renewed assault on the tribal population of the country and their further displacement. For international and Indian capital the BJP is creating a dream scenario. Further, the BJP presses for greater militarisation and military collaboration for production with foreign producers. The antipathy of the RSS and the BJP to the Muslim and Christian minorities is well-known and in the short span of a few months the new government has heightened communal tensions in large parts of the country. The patriarchal norms are stronger.

The poems of Manu Kant reflect many of the changes under the new government. The augment grip of the multi-nationals is mentioned. Saying that India is the United Nations, readers are informed that
India herself is UN—
American FDI
Chinese FDI
British FDI
Japanese FDI
The domination of the Indian corporate under the new Prime Minister is suggested:
the corporate world's
blue-eyed boy
Membership of Parliament it is said is limited:
entry restricted
to millionaires only
The 2002 Gujarat pogroms are recalled:
please in place of pogroms
place programmes for
                       Indian Muslims
The relation of the Modi government to the women question is clearly delineated:
rape for Women
red carpet for business barons
The new government weakens the secular foundations of the Union of India:
'India is a Hindu state"
And they who do not accept the new dispensation may leave India and go to Pakistan but poet, Manu Kant points out that they will actually be sent not there but:
Tihar awaits Modi haters
[This is the Preface of Manu Kant’s
book ‘Mann Ki Baat’]

*Man Ki Baat : A Collection of Poems on Narendra Modi

by Manu Kant
Published by Author Press, Q-2A Hauz Khas Enclave, New Delhi-110016 (India)
Phone : (O) 9818049852
Price : Rs 195 | $10

Vol. 48, No. 26, Jan 3 - 9, 2016