For K Satchidanandan, poetry was not a choice. After working on his first two poems—the first a meditation on mutability, and the second, a narrative on a bullock cart driver he knew—he tried writing stories. “I found I could not do detailed descriptions. They were all short, never more than a page,” Satchidanandan said. When the stories were published, his readers thought they read like poems. “Then,” he continued, “I knew I was born to write only poetry and never again attempted fiction.”
Yesterday, the University of Hyderabad served suspension notices to two of its faculty members: KY Ratnam and Tathagata Sengupta. Both Ratnam and Sengupta were arrested on 22 March this year during a protest outside the residence of Appa Rao Podile, the vice chancellor of the university. That day, Podile, who had been on leave since a week after the death of the Dalit PhD student Rohith Vemula, returned to the campus and resumed his post. Vemula was a member of the Ambedkar Students Association, an anti-caste student political group. The ASA and its affiliates held Podile and the university's oppressive casteist mandate responsible for Vemula's death. Several student groups protested Podile's return, congregating outside his residence and demanding an audience with him.
On the evening of 7 June, around ten buses from various parts of Delhi set off for Chankyapuri. The people from the hill tribes of Manipur on board these buses were gathering outside the Manipur Bhawan to protest against the presence of their Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh
and an 18-member delegation which was in the capital to pressure the centre into giving assent to three land bills that the state legislature had passed on 31 August 2015.
On the afternoon of 21 March 2016, the courtroom 12 of the Delhi High Court was packed with senior advocates, advocates and their juniors carrying sheaves of files. Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw, who was presiding over the court, was about to hear at least 164 pleas filed by 64 pharmaceutical companies. The companies were all asking for the revocation of a recent notification issued by the centre. Almost two weeks earlier, on 10 March, the central government had passed a notification banning the sale and manufacturing of 344 Fixed Dose Combination, or FDC drugs—combinations of two or more active pharmaceutical ingredients in fixed ratios, given in the form of a single dose. Major Indian drugs such as Piramal Healthcare’s Saridon, Pfizer’s Corex, D’Cold Total, Vicks Action 500 Extra, Merck India’s Nasivion fell under the list of the banned FDCs.
The news first emerged mid afternoon, on 29 December 2015. Soon, it was all that prime time talk shows and newscasters in Pakistan could talk about. Two senior religious clerics, both bearded, both well-regarded among their followers, had used their fists rather than their words, to settle an argument during the 201 meeting of the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII), Pakistan’s top Islamic advisory body. News outlets were salivating. Leaked videos of the brawl emerged. The incident was unusual; religious hardliners are more likely to face-off against liberals than one of their own. “I am stronger than him,” boasted the pot-bellied Maulana Tahir Ashrafi while talking to a television crew. He held back, he insisted, out of respect for his opponent, the 78-year-old Maulana Sheerani, also the chairman of the advisory body, who grabbed his collar and ripped out the buttons.
Born in 1928, the artist Brij Mohan Anand was greatly informed by the political and social climate around him. Anand grew up in a household of staunch political beliefs. Almost a decade before he was born, his older brother, Madan Mohan, was killed in the Jallianwalla Bagh massacre—a tragedy that transformed his parents, nationalists that had been supporters of the Congress until then, but could no longer abide by its moderate politics. They moved loyalties to socialists such as Bhagat Singh, seeking to violently overthrow the British Raj.
Yesterday, a special trial court in Ahmedabad announced a verdict in the 2002 Gulburg Society massacre case, in which 69 Muslim residents of the society were killed by a mob of Hindu attackers. The court convicted 24 people: 11 were convicted of murder, the rest of arson and rioting charges, among others. However, the court acquitted 36 others, including the BJP leader Vipin Patel and the former police inspector KG Erda. At the time of the incident, Erda was posted at the Meghaninagar police station, where the Gulburg Society is located. It also dropped the conspiracy charges against the accused, stating that there was not enough evidence. The judge termed this a "partial" victory for the defence.
Hatred in the Belly: Politics behind the appropriation of Dr Ambedkar’s writings is a collection of essays by writers, academics, students and activists, who are referred to as the Ambedkar Age Collective in the book. The book comprises essays, speeches, and writing that emerged as spontaneous reactions to an edition of BR Ambedkar’s Annihilation of Caste that was released in 2014 by the publishing house Navayana. The writer Arundhati Roy had written an introduction to the book titled, “The Doctor and the Saint.” In the introduction, Roy discussed the ideological battle between Ambedkar and Mohandas Gandhi (In its March 2014 issue, this magazine carried an excerpt from Roy's introduction). The launch of the Navayana edition was met with severe criticism from many quarters of the Dalit-Bahujan community. The discourse that it initiated, the Collective wrote, was a “glimpse of the ways through which the marginalised resist continued attempts made at hegemonising their knowledge and lives by the brahminic oppressors irrespective of their political leanings.” The title of the book, “hatred in the belly,” is a Telegu phrase (ka dapulo kasi). The poet Joopaku Subhadra had employed it in a speech criticising the Navayana edition.
In January 2016, the non-governmental organisation, Pratham Education Foundation and the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL), which is headquartered at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, launched a scale-up program in Anantapur, a district in Andhra Pradesh that has the lowest learning levels in the state. The test, which was organised in conjunction with the state government, was conducted between January and April. It aimed to assess the efficacy of a simple approach to improve children’s learning levels in language and mathematics: Teaching at the Right Level, or TaRL. (Disclosure: I am a senior policy manager at J-PAL).