A cartoonist who has been travelling with time since he was 17, when the legendary Shankar recognised the mischievous connection-maker in him. A political observer for about four decades, who has seen our large democracy being handled by 12 Prime Ministers, starting with Morarji Desai, and witnessed the country welcoming coalition with all its ills as its chosen mode of government post-Emergency. A newspaper boy who lingers at the crossroads of memory and dream. Kaapi LILA with EP Unny revealed these facets of the man and the world about him, and more.
Andolan, Gamaka, Kan-Swar or Gitkari, Meend or Murki: the Alankars are multiple in types, and innumerable in practice. Each melody acquires its ornament, each note, its body. Alankar, a term for aesthetics in the Indian arts, is the adornment, the embellishment, the process that reveals the beautiful from within – the inherent beauty. Fascinating paradox: the Alankar is wilfully produced, coming above and beyond the theme, but it only enhances a beauty already proper to the art. Alankar permits beauty before the accompaniment – Alankar recalls how the inner light is still shining.
This was not supposed to be your habitual lecture. It could not have been. Daya Bai is much, so much more than a discourse. She is, to say the least, a model. A life, a lifestyle, a series of life decisions with as many confident no-returns as necessary. As many checkpoints left by life to verify that the force of her character is still there, firmly grounded and ready to face all the resistances, the fights, the abuses and the aggressions that our world produces when established orders are questioned. Here she was – tiny body, frail pitch. The hypnosis of an evening. A few minutes to recount some of the marking events of a life dedicated to causes – to the realisation of an ideal, in the most simple and practical forms, by living, by ‘becoming a local’ in villages of Bihar, of Haryana, of Maharashtra, of West Bengal, and finally of Madhya Pradesh, where she has been living with the Goondi people of the Barul village for nineteen years.
“Media and Responsibility.” Democracy is unimaginable without a free press. However, what kind of free press, and how much ‘free’ a press is, are questions based on the political and cultural understanding of each democratic tradition.Therefore, in theory and practice, there is increasingly very little consensus, from country to country, on what freedom of press is. In the United States, one of the oldest democracies, the first constitutional amendment categorically protected freedom of press, stopping the Congress of abridging the freedom of speech and press. In contrast, in India, the first amendment famously reduced freedom of press, a fundamental right, to a negotiable one for the government. The constitution brought it under the clutches of the innumerable state laws conceived by the British colonial government. The questions on the freedom of the press, and the responsibility of the press did not quite recover from such early onslaughts. And with many dubious and corruptible ethical conducts in the decades thereafter, our press model very easily fluctuated between totalitarian and libertarian models. The lack of a free and fair press model framework continues to be the hallmark of Indian press. This talk will briefly trace the historiography of the debate on the press and its responsibility, and the need for a theoretical and philosophical framework suited for India. From inadequacies in the newsrooms to structural problems in the news industry, how does one start a conversation on a “democratic press”?
Sadanand Menon provocatively opened a puzzle box for us, while speaking of the state of arts institutions in the country. Some of us are still reflecting on the tensions he articulated. Sadanand began with a reflexive question, ‘what makes me a part of the moribund arts bodies of the State?’. A brilliantly layered lecture followed, focused on the dangers involved in the political construction of various cultural fields – forms as well as institutions – promoting a homogenized the idea of national culture. The measures to ‘protect’ the country’s unity in diversity, paradoxically result in the erasure of the voice of the conflicts integral to creative expressions, and in turn send all diversities into exile from the ‘united nation’ of the arts. This ultimately results in the establishment of a machinery that continues the customary without confronting the radical; it regulates people’s spontaneity, weakens institutions from within, and abdicates all forward-looking perspectives.