ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

Articles by Uma ChakravartiSubscribe to Uma Chakravarti

CPI(M) and the Agrarian Underclass

We would like to follow up on Sumanta Banerjee’s commentary ‘Peasant Hares and Capitalist Hounds of Singur’ (December 30, 2006) and further the argument that the Left Front government in West Bengal is indulging in a massive betrayal of the agrarian underclass in Singur. By agrarian underclass we...

Zahira Shaikh: 'Victim' of Justice

Letters Zahira Shaikh: ‘Victim’ of Justice W hile we, the members of women’s groups and concerned citizens in India, welcome the Supreme Court’s interventions in matters relating to the carnage in Gujarat, we are dismayed at its stringent verdict on March 8, 2006 that pronounced one-year...

Long Road to Nowhere

With the resignation of Jagdish Tytler from the union cabinet, the discussion of the Nanavati commission report on the anti-Sikh violence of 1984 has died down. The furore about Tytler and others served, however, to divert attention from the fact that the commission has failed - like the ones before it - to go to the bottom of the violence of 1984 and offers little hope of justice to the victims. What the report leaves us with is the realisation that political power gives immunity and that the pursuit of justice is an illusion when the state is complicit in the violence.

Remembering Sudesh Vaid

Her death last year, from cancer, at the age of 61, was a deep political loss that left a personal void and even ended a life-world for many people. Each of us has our private and collective memories of Sudesh, and sorting through the years of friendship, political sharing, the large memories and the small memories, is not an exercise that can be easily undertaken or ever completed.

Crackdown in Faizabad

The crackdown by the UP government on the participants in a programme in Faizabad-Ayodhya scheduled for May 10 and 11 to commemorate the anniversary of the 1857 revolt against British rule is further evidence that in states where the BJP forms the government, or where the party is a constituent element in the government, it is the voice of Hindutva rather than the Constitution of India that is the guiding principle of state policy.

State, Market and Freedom of Expression

The shift from the state-controlled media where the Doordarshan was the sole player in the field with a total monopoly to the opening of the media to private channels, was accompanied by the shift to the market, and global capital spearheaded and guided by the state. What has changed as a consequence of the shift? Today when older and newer processes of development have created an intensely transitional moment, is it possible that TV is providing a means by which these transitions are being bridged? This article examines some issues by examining three main segments of TV programmes: advertisements, serials and news with special reference to women.

UCC and Women s Movement

Amrita Chhachhi, Farida Khan, Gautam Navlakha, Kumkum Sangari, Neeraj Malik, Ritu Menon, Tanika Sarkar, Uma Chakravarti, Urvashi Butalia, Zoya Hasan THE Anveshi article (Anveshi Law Committee, is Gender Justice Only a Legal Issue? Political Stakes in the UCC Debate', 8, 1997) criticises tendencies within the 'Indian women's movement' that, in its opinion, have focused very narrowly and exclusively upon legal reform. The main thrust of such reforms, moreover, is described as a monolithicising intention that would like to erase all plurality of caste and community, custom and practice in the name of abstract, universal gender justice, thus denying women as well as a range of marginalised communities the right to autonomy. The universalising tendency of this version of gender justice betrays a biological essentialism that fails to take on board other aspects of women's social existence. Such tendencies are most evident among feminists who, according to Anveshi, are termed as 'upper caste, Hindu and urban' in other words, they share some social characteristics of the hindutva politics that they otherwise criticise. However, presumably because of shared social space, they 'unwittingly' lapse into some of the language and agendas of their political adversaries: the demand for a uniform or gender just civil code would be one such instance, the campaign against obscenity would be another. As examples of such immature and politically naive feminist thinking, Anveshi has singled out Forum against Oppression of Women from Bombay and Working Group on Women's Rights from Delhi.

Saffroning the Past-Of Myths, Histories and Right-Wing Agendas

Of Myths, Histories and Right-Wing Agendas Uma Chakravarti Towards the late 1980s the stage was set for a conflation of an ongoing social and political crisis of a high order with the surfacing of middle class insecurities about the state of 'their' nation and of 'their' hegemonic position within it. This was the background to a rightward shift of politics, the rise of a fascist hindutva brigade and a shift of upper caste, middle class allegiance to Hindu majoritarian ideological and political formations. The ideological context for this shift was a crisis of the legitimacy of the state. One way of dealing with the crisis is to 're' construct the nation's 'glorious' past. And this is being done today not through powerful writing but through the power of the visual medium, the cinema and the television, It was a fairly conscious move by the state to telecast religious mega serials, 'Ramayana' and 'Mahabharata', 'Chanakya' took off on the theme of a fragmented nation, carrying the mythological tradition forward in a more coherent way emphasising a joint 'xenophobia' against the enemy within. Although 'Chanakya"s appeal was limited to an upper caste elite, it was part of a larger process in which a brahmanic Hindu view of history and culture was consolidated along with a rightward shift in politics.

Gender, Caste and Labour-Ideological and Material Structure of Widowhood

This paper examines widowhood within the larger structure of relations, material and ideological. Distinctive cultural codes form the basis for caste hierarchy and control of female sexuality with permanent enforced widowhood at the apex is the index of high rank. Conversely, widow re-marriage is not only an ideological rationale for low caste rank but provides a demographic basis for production relations. A single caste framework functioning both at the level of ideology and material arrangements requires distinctive patriarchal arrangements and cultural codes among the hierarchy of castes to reproduce the structure of production.

Victims, Neighbours, and Watan-Survivors of Anti-Sikh Carnage of 1984

Survivors of Anti-Sikh Carnage of 1984 Uma Chakravarti Looking back to 1984 what is frightening is the recognition that the survivors can return to a semblance of normalcy and everyday patterns of living when the generalised sense of fear has been transferred upon another community: Now it is the Muslims who live in anguish and anger, subject to everyday forms of humiliation in normal times and fear for their lives during the riots.


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