Thursday, January 16, 2020

Ideal Prototypes and a Loss of Innocence

Kaleidoscope had this flashback moment when a familiar voice called his childhood name on his way to the nearby park with his son! Who was it calling? Thought Kaleidoscope. A smiling unfamiliar face appeared from a machine van (popularly called the vano) - a not too old addition to the contaminated diesel run good carrying vehicle which is infamous for its unregulated movement and pollution causing behaviour. Such a machine van is most frequently seen in the rural counterpart of the state in which Kaleido lives. He had to travel on them while he was on fieldtrips or in his former work place in Haldia.

Who was it? The smile seemed to be known, and the bright eyes are familiar too, but what happened to his cheek - its all grown beard! Oh! the person smiled, you cant recognise me because of this? He was pointing towards the salt-and-pepper hairs that grew on his chin and lower cheeks! Kaleidoscope could readily recognise the person - ah! Bablu Kaku na! - isnt it Bablu uncle? He smiled!

Yes, its me! and I have a different look... and a different occupation too!

Yes, I remember Bablu Kaku, we used to have long conversations during his afternoon work sessions as a helper to the Masonry work when my father was trying to build a house bit by bit! Bablu kaku was a clean shaved gentleman. He used to talk to the then 11 year old Kaleidoscope about their childhood days. It was not much different from the one Kaleidoscope was experienceing, so instead of being amazed or mesmerised, Kaleidoscope used to learn practical skills of climbing trees, or eating particular form of wild berries without being affected by its sour juice! Bablu kaku was Bablu Kaku not a Muslim Bablu kaku or a Hindu Bablu kaku! Except for the

But with an ideal Muslim looking beard, Kaleidoscope could readily see Bablu kaku looks no longer the Bablu kaku he knew for years, or the image of the person that was stored inside his mind for a considerable period of time!

So what happened to Bablu Kaku?
Kaleidoscope didn't ask! He is no longer a 11 year old kid who could promptly ask things that comes to his mind! He needs to be cautious about asking things without hurting! Or perhaps without grabbing attention of the public sphere which surrounds Kaleidoscope! When he could not ask anyting at all, Bablu Kaku could read his mind! With his penetrating eyes, he mentioned,

I had to grow beard, you know its us - the Muslims! I have to look like one!

Kaleidoscope could see the active construction of Ideal prototypes of Sacchha Mussalman, a counterpart of what he sees everyday in his country in the name of Hinduism - the Hinduttva! 

Bablu kaku left the place carrying his characteristics smile and the bright eyes which has not changed with his looks, thought Kaleidoscope!

The practice of such ideal prototype constructions as Kaleidoscope has been exploring at different places in West Bengal (roughly parallel to what is happening in his rest of the country) is a known fact to Kaleidoscope. However, seeing his childhood memories altered radically is a completely different experience. No matter how short lived the meeting has been, no matter how hopeful and happy Kaleidoscope is to see the smile and eyes remain the same - Kaleidoscope knew for sure, his world is changing, perhaps irrevocably!

(see also Manufacturing polarisation in contemporary India, in International Journal of Conflict and Violence)

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Knowledge Gap and politics of new labelling in India

Kaleidoscope is loosing its track as his country is giving him one blow after another, mostly below the belt. He is like many of his fellow citizens is bending lower so as to touch the ground to absorb such blows. Everytime he is trying to stand on his ground another blow from the most unexpected corner of the country comes.

Kaleidoscope is seeing new polarisation, separation and terminologies. It's the discourse taking shape of an euphoria of madness. Kaleidoscope has seen the newer constructions of the Minorities, Dalits, seculars, liberals, leftists, urban naxals as the facets to be isolated first and then eliminated. 

A complete disregard for the past, for the diversity and a rising 'might is right' policy and political practice have given rise to newer spheres of organised violence. Needless to mention the nature of execution, it's safe to assume it has successfully affected everyone around the corner. 

This everyone includes even the perpetrators too! 

The categories
For the students, it's facing a battleground with uneven weapons resulting in mass hysteria. To say pen is mightier than the sword means nothing unless your writing room is secured. 

For the Muslims it's a series of terrorization first by repeated incidents of lynching followed by the Babri verdict and then the fear of Citizenship Amendment Act. The silence from the statesmen in Lynching issues, the indifference of the administrative machinery and increasing marginalisation of the opposition voices have convinced a section of the population about the indifference of the Country at large.

For the liberal intellectuals, the attack on university campuses, arrests of several respected academics for their dissent and killing of well respected public intellectuals is the new India. Here, one can easily get a tag ranging from Urban Naxal to Tukde Tukde gang just by expression a dissent. 

What about the organised goons? And the brainwashed youth, including a section of the students? They too are becoming the new India, where they are taught not to tolerate anything other than what they are told through their organisations. The identity frenzy, the ready to beat up, the complete disjunctioned bundle of goons are graduating without any clue of the world, dreaming of a Nazi regime without knowing anything about it. They are short sighted like their leaders, and either cannot see the darkness coming to engulf them or are completely visionless to live for the moment as most of the capitalistic brands wants to build the late capital subjectivities. 

The knowledge production and consumption gap - 
One of the major factors that provided the ideological backup to the construction of newer labelling everyday is the gap between knowledge production and consumption. For example, Kaleidoscope belongs to the knowledge production Enterprise and strives every moment to produce something new, something different from what was already known. He is part of a community which is too busy to look at anything else but to work out something new and then sturggle to publish them in academic journals of high repute!
They are busy because it gives them the feel that being in academia is worth a life. These journals never pay back to the authors, but charges a heavy amount to it's consumers. Clearly, one needs to be part of an academic institution which has the subscription to even get a glimpse of what is going on around the world. Nearly everyone doesn't have the luxury. Meanwhile, the domains of post-truth has made the knowledge product unfounded and extremely shaky. The yellow journalism along with the Information Technology Cell belonging to most conspicuous violence promoting party have rapidly filled up the gap between knowledge production and consumption! 

The complex hegemonistic sphere has grown with a virtually free space for constructing a depthless present, an absent trace of hyper real. A range of items including the chest size of Mr. Modi to Tukde Tukde gang are real, perhaps more real than the blood oozing out from JNU president's stitches or the brutal lynching of the Muslims, being killed with an administrative aid!  

Saturday, December 7, 2019

The collapse of intellectuals from public discourse in West Bengal

There is no end to Kaleidoscopic wonder to see the complete vacuum of what used to be his cultured, civilised, educated, enlightened publics which supposedly elected a 'different' regime for 34 long years. CPIM led Left Front used to have this hallmark of politics with a difference than the rest of the country. The white dhoti-fatua clad Bengali communists reading and spreading the idea of an alternative world through smaller reforms forming an oasis in the midst of end of Nehruvian model of governance.

The fall of enlightened sphere
So much to the "subalternisation" of politics as some of the worshipped scholars have romanticised in past West Bengal has shown a new form of politics including the populist stand. Kaleidoscope was of the hope that cultured, civilised, educated, enlightened have remained. No matter how elitist it might sound it was indeed a trust on the so called intellectual elites. First, the media with its 24X7 commitment brought a new dynamics to the whole genere of how Kaleidoscope sees his world through the television! While he began to discard his habit of watching the televions news channels the smartphone brought a bogus timeline. Kaleidoscope like many others is hooked to consume trashes everyday which ranges from bogus pornographic contents to post truth hoax circulated most exclusively through the new agencies. Supposedly to attract people's attention. Second, Kaleidoscope has seen the so called public intellectuals getting divided. Even if one takes Gramscian approach, the supposedly trained left leaning intellectuals changed their camps. One perceived reasons left being not left any more, and more nuanced and later surfaced reasons include the fact that there were perks and benefits in their partisan selves. The organic intellectual stuff is near impossible to see in the state even after three decade of left rule. A few sparks of the people taking stands according to the perceived justice (e.g. kaushik sen, Aparna Send) is too low to have a voice getting reflected to form an opinion that can be called as a public opinion. Third, and a dangerous development is the bunch of apparently highly educated, insensitive and under read students and supposed scholars who might rapidly fill the fututre intellectual sphere. They are in sync with the rise of new generation of intellectuals promoted most exclusively by the television media. These people find a comfort zone to grow their opinions in every matters like an artificial bacterial culture matrix.  

The rise of the viral sphere
The insensitive, history blind, over rated intellegentia uses the videogame logic to form the public opinion and manages to post online. As they are in sync with the general perception of the wider public sphere and often gets aid from different organised ITcells, they generally attract more likes and shares. If the sensitive few manages to Lodge a protest comment the debates break and list of comments reinforces the importance of the post even further- making it "viral" online. The public media algorithms picks them up and continuously show in people's timeline and forms a skewed distribution of contents not based on quality but on quantity. As Chaplin once said public as headless monster, the headlessness grows like gangrene in virtual space. 

The disappearing intellectuals from the public discourse 

In 2011 Ms Mamata Banerjee had to bring together people belonging to the so called intellectual classes. She brought film makers, actors, theatre personnel, painters and potets to throw back an important message to the public sphere that the paribartan - the political change was necessary and inevitable. In 2019 allegedly the goons from BJP rallies broken down the bust of Vidyasagar in the Vidyasagar statue while they were moving through the heart of the intellectual space of the state (one can even say the heart of the country) the college Street. The largest conglomeration of books, rather a relatively smaller institute which has brought a number of Nobel prizes. It symbolically puts an end to the role of public intellectuals in political discourse and BJP could dream of assuming political power without having any intellectual connect in the state. They have shown sceptical, yet prominent symptoms of actually managing to doing it. 

Photograph- Debasmita

Saturday, October 26, 2019

Canopy for your everyday living

How about looking to the world through canopies? Kaleidoscope laughs silently, it's only possible once in a while when he gets to travel to places where there are trees. It's nearly impossible for an urban dweller to avail such a luxury to see through the canopies. 

It can only be the distant dream of an early retirement that Kaleidoscope used to plan with his much loved supervisor. There will be books, coffee, good alcohol and canopies, happy ending of a life. His supervisor, by the way has successfully perked himself in the institute campus and then got a place to stay nearby too to accommodate his family. He is now the proud owner of seven lakes and numerous trees and a palacial quarter. That calls for a quality of life Kaleido, Kaleidoscope often thinks. But then comes the responsibilities in the office that allows barely a moment to even look at the lakes and trees. 

What could be the alternative? Kaleidoscope kept thinking. Meanwhile his employee declared a 65 year for retirement age... It won't let Kaleidoscope go easily, he thought. What is left in a life if the work life ends in 65... That too long... Injustice may be. Kaleidoscope thought, where is the justice? Nowhere may be. 

Here comes the solution, Kaleidoscope planted trees that can outgrow his window and encroaches his balcony. Much loved canopy view now comes with flowers. 

...and it looks something like this.

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Detention camp museums: The future of the present

Kaleidoscope in 2007 had the opportunity to stay inside a Jail in Orissa for the whole day. Yes, inside the jail with the inmates talking on the most forbidden issue of his country - sex, that too Men having Sex with Men (MSM). He visited cells, their kitchen, their garden and never failed to witness the 'end of the world' not very far! The world there had a wall, a brick coloured one which almost touched the sky.

It was one of the most unique experiences he thought even a few years back - who having the life course of Kaleidoscope can even imagine being inside of a Jail.

The paragraph above, can be the prelude of a book written in a detention camp that are being set up in tax payers (both direct and indirect) money at different corners of Kaleidoscope's country.

People interfaced - an anecdote:

There is this medicine shop owned by a family originally belonging to the East Bengal (now Bangladesh) where Kaleidoscope often makes a visit. Kaleidoscope by the way is loosing friends and acquaintances at an astronomical pace ever since the public sphere of his world is divided in to Hindu/Muslim, India/Pakistan, Nationalist/Antinational, etc., is quite conscious on the choice of his words, and place of engaging in debates. He lost it all when the shop owner was speaking to one of the custmers and referring to Gujarat riot as a fantastic payback to the Muslim community who killed "thousands of Hindu pilgrims" in Godhra. Kaleidoscope tried to give him some statistics but as usual was informed that the statistics was wrong. Kaleidoscope wanted to give them the statistics of lynching (98% by the way happened after 2014, if one takes the data set from 2010 to 2019), but they labelled him as Pro-terrorist, Pro-Pakistani. One thing, Kaleidoscope thought that he had to stop going to that shop again in near future because he fear lynching! On the other hand the shopkeeper was loosing his customer. Lets talk about NRC then, Kaleidoscope thought. Knowing them to belong to a family which came to India much after independence they might be afraid of it! The response was like this "If requires we can live in detention camp" but we wholeheartedly support Modi-Shah because they will drive away the Muslims! It might have been incomprehensibly deep sense of jingoism and hatred that people like that shopkeeper is ready to even sacrifice their own comfort in the name of ethnic cleansing - Kaleidoscope thought! 

So the prison house is not to be feared - if it is detention camp then it might be better than prison house - at least that is what these people might have in their mind. Or does it have something to do with the "assurance" from the home minister that apart from the Muslims the rest of the people will get citizenship. Even if that happens there will be different classes of citizenship - Kaleidoscope knows, but who cares. 

No one:

Perhaps the most easy to use phrase is "no one." No one cares to what is happening (who cares are either jailed or are silently executed in one way or the other), and to the people whom these things are happening are no one! There is a dreaded indifference to the matters involving civil liberties and violations of fundamental rights - the prime example is of course the Kashmir. If the Kashmir is what can happen to Kaleidoscope and his fellow citizens, the amendment of Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) by enabling it to designate individuals as terrorists without following any procedure and by providing the accused no effective means of redress is the instrument through which it can happen. On the one hand Kaleidoscope's fellow citizens have the example (Kashmir) and they can check with UAPA but they have other important things to do or celebrate the possible imprisonment of their fellow citizens. 

In so far as Kaleidoscope lives in a world where 'no one' cares for 'no one' there will be a rising number of 'no ones' until the country is completely dismantled. May be Kaleidoscope will have a dying wish inside/outside a detention camp that he would like to see in some future time. When those detention camps will become well maintained Museum objects at display with narratives for the future generations about what should not have been done

Meanwhile his society still has a chance of not doing it!


Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Mountain person?

Are you mountain person? Asks Kaleidoscope to the river. The river was too busy to reply but gave away fountains of scattered intoxicated droplets as Kaleidoscope and his friends climb up the mountain through the early morning lights. The forest only accepts those who seek refuge in the canopy, creepy soundscape and definite waterfalls. As the car speedup and pines started to replace sal a brief goodbyes to the plains Kaleidoscope thought. Where else would you see the morning lights, cloudscape, whispering birds, moss, ferns and colourful people making love with each other - than the Darjeeling!

The day started with his favourite sausage, becons and a cup of tea in his favourite corner of Caventers, juxtaposed by the chilli-beef with a hint of beer in the noon. Before the night it was to see the love making and the evening show by rock bands on the mall could not have been better with rounds of whisky! All just for the river that brings memories of love in the mountains.

Before the day breaks Kaleido leaves, he thought he can born a thousand times just to see the silhouette of the mountains always ready for the love... the eternity - like the river born.

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Namthing - place where nature steps in

Wonder if Kaleidoscope should let it settle in the deep sea if his heart and let it be for the rest of his life - like a long lost love! Namthing - at the heart of the Sitong reserved forest about 4000 feet above the sea level, centering around the cute little lake where Salamanders live a peaceful life before they are completely wiped out of the planet, is the place of solitude with the Stars in the night, monsoon rain during the day and a game with sea of September cloud.

The place is about 50 kilometers from New Jalpiguri through a near deserted road which complements well with the trees and  steep altitude is waiting with open arms to conceal you from your life - for as long as you want, perhaps for the eternity.

Here are some photos of what Kaleidoscope could experience with a group of like-minded others