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.
“Re-Thinking Violence Against Women” discusses how there can be no doubt that violence against women, especially sexual violence and rape, has gone well beyond being headline news. Something extraordinary happened in the wake of the Delhi gang rape of December 2012, whether at the level of the scale of the protests, or the range of institutional responses both negative and positive. Contestations through speaking and writing have also been prominent. This lecture seeks to contribute to this moment by opening up to further analysis of the following. First, the commonsense experience regarding rape as the most heinous of crimes. Second, the construction of normal and ‘aggravated’ sexual assault by the law. And third, new feminist thinking on rape culture and impunity. It will be suggested that the universal framing of violence must go beyond gender and patriarchy and take the risks of including those structures – both everyday and institutional – that divide both women and men.