January15

Fascism: (De)fences

Constituting Nepal: From Cultures to Nation?

Joe Keysor & Subhash Gatade 30 January 2015 Mallika Shakya & Guillaume Gandelin 23 January 2015
The festivities, hopes and resolutions of the New Year’s eve were soon brought back to the real, as we entered 2015. January already bore¬†the scars of fascism, between the duly observed¬†anniversaries of the Holocaust Day and of Mahatma Gandhi’s murder. Two shocks from another time, another era, in fact, another millennium – yet, two legacies kept alive, as their threats, too, are always¬†ready to inflame¬†our everyday. As a poet almost said, “Good (de)fences make good neighbours”… This January 8th revealed how urgently the civil societies of our world must come up creatively with some means of responding to the apparent reign of terror. But to leave the ad hominem and to build beyond the immediate emotions, we must stop our romantic contemplations of the faces of fascism, to understand its structures. Beyond the unbearable mass of the dead, January 2015¬†could¬†act as the igniting reminder of the eternal risks of socio-political impatience, of the tragedy of inter-cultural deafness, but especially, of the urgency to depart from the accusations and the finger-pointing to truly build an alternative. Thus, breaking away from our past¬†and preparing a future transcending the tumorous growth of fascism, will require that we ambition to develop 2015 as a conscious yet innovative effort to respond to the destructive temptations that sprout around us, but also, often, from within. This week on LILA Inter-actions,¬†Joe Keysor returns to the setting of the Nazi Holocaust, to discover the shallowness of our understanding of religions as the source of both our remaining belligerent reflexes, and our frail inspirations to answer constructively. Subhash Gatade reflects on the ideological twists that permit an assassin to become a saint, against the backdrop of a national and international context unable to bring the vitality for connections¬†required today.Read button
Was it anger, sadness, or perhaps resignation that shook Nepal a few days back, when TVs from around the world presented physical fights within its Constituent Assembly? Blaming the pettiness, hypocrisy or veiled interests of politicians would be everyone’s legitimate reflex. But this kind of event always testifies the deeper ramifications of the present deadlock: when leaders leave the politically correct for vandalism, it may be that the worlds of words have been breached, that the participants do not speak the same language anymore. After an initial attempt at a Maoist government following the bloody end of the monarchy, the wheel has turned and more classical parties took over the reins in 2013, carrying along the prickly test of drafting a national Constitution. This sharp hostility between the parties in power and the opposition reflect a major alternative, whose resonances will accompany the future of all our pluralistic nations. On the one hand, historic parties promise stability but respond too often to cultural variations by siding with the majorities and the powerful. On the other, people’s movements dedicate entire lives of ideas and actions to humanistic dreams, but resist the identity categories that nation building demands. Will nationhood and pluralistic cultures become one day an oxymoron? This week on LILA Inter-actions, Mallika Shakya goes beyond the romantic veil of Nepal, and points to gender inequality as an instance of the profound lacunae in the democratic ethos, before and beyond any constitutional ambitions. Guillaume Gandelin assesses the risks of both political centralisation and ethnic separatism, and places his hopes behind a revived polity.Read button

Taxing Taxonomies: Governments, States & Tehsils

Pravasi: Indian from the Outside

Vinod Vyasulu & K Swaminathan 16 January 2015 T.P. Sreenivasan & Meena Alexander 9 January 2015
Behind the walls of our Sabhas, hidden somewhere between the shushes of our technocrats, a major turn of world history may be engaged. 2015 may be the first marks, almost imperceptible, of a new era, less than seven decades before the proclamation of the Indian Union. Long after its first mentions in 2000, the GST or Goods & Services Tax was finally introduced last month, and its specific elaboration is under discussion. GST, or the regime reform towards a sort of Value Added Tax applicable to all across the Union, aims at systematising fiscal matters by centralising deductions so far legislated by each State. But, if taxes, too, are of, by, and especially, for the people, what meaning shift would this reform imply? That the direct financial collective to which an individual owes her dues is her country, and not her state, region or tehsil? Today’s ideological battle seems to be between the expansion of homogenising and structurally stable centres on the one hand, and the weakening dreams of multiform yet thus adaptable peoples’ governance across pluralistic spaces. Right at the dawn of India’s entry on the podium of world geopolitics, we face the temptations of championing either of these two taxonomies, two routes more determinant than ever before. This week on LILA Inter-actions, Vinod Vyasulu finds in progressive taxation the actual regime reform urgently needed in India, along with a larger, in-depth rethinking of the meanings of the Federal. K Swaminathan examines the ethos and tenets of the GST bill, and rediscovers how the Government has been a reliable force to subtly bridge economy and culture.Read button
What means, today, a home? No one, anymore, is really safe from the experience of the departure, of expatriation or of the diaspora, out of necessity, or, if the distinction is not yet fully blurred, out of one‚Äôs will. Where else to say this than in India, home or origin for one of the world‚Äôs widest and most successful diaspora? Translocality has been realised and kept alive by the multiplicity of cultures in India for centuries, where the movement of an individual, of a family, of a community, can be wisely understood as a wager on the future ‚Äď diaspora, or when space can open to time. 9 January 2015 is the centenary of a return, that of Gandhi from South Africa, yet the Indian Government has made of this ‘Pravasi Bharatiya Divas’ a day of recognition for all those who left their motherland. The inclusive symbol is strong: Indian origins would still be Indianness, even when distance, in the miles and the years, looks like it could possibly mean only oblivion and separation. Or is it yet another story, inventing this sense of an extraordinary cultural faithfulness to dissimulate the economic and financial dependency on this diaspora, which had not found the necessary opportunities at home? For this dialogue on the translocal, T.P. Sreenivasan connects the numerous dots of cultural and inter-cultural victories, to discover the positive role of the Indian diaspora in the strengthening of diplomacy and geopolitics. Meena Alexander engages the introspective journey to visualise the many moving landscapes and translations that have come to make of her a migrant writer.Read button
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Inter-actions: Dialogues in B·h·a·k·t·i

Priya Ravish Mehra & Anamika 2 January 2015
The imaginary of the dialogue presents us with a paradox: beyond its inherent freedom, expression would have boundaries. Somewhere in 1532, says the etymology, a dia- was confused with a di-, and the dialogue came to be bound within the restricted setting of just two participants. No wonder, then, when 483 years later, dialogues seem to be as much, if not more, part of our problems than of our solutions. When exchanges inevitably shift to the confrontational, when an impatient statement is only calling for a louder response, we miss the fundamental understanding that a dialogue invites and includes not just the audible, forefront spokespersons, but all that a true life appreciation reveals of traditions, of cultures and philosophies, behind and between each word uttered. Yet, the dialogue between two parties seems still valid, for, a duo evokes the possibility of love and war alike. Bhakti: two makes it possible to divide as well as connect. It is the bare minimum number that we require to save us from indulgence, boredom and death. It is the elementary digit that makes a democratic dream possible. It is the insignia of the human ambition to be represented. Hence, one year ago, we made this wager, reaffirming the possibility of rigorous and engaging dialogues, responsive to the urgency of each week and translocal in the meanings created from the encounter of complementary stakeholders. To open our second year of Inter-actions, two senior artists share their dream dialogues, able to animate their fields. Priya Ravish Mehra unthreads the dialogues that join the artist across time, and those that touch communities across societies. Anamika projects listening as a key constituent of dialogue, and invites us to understand poetry as a profound patron of dialogues, as the guardian of humanity’s collective memory.Read button
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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed by the writers are their own. LILA Inter-actions will not be responsible for the views presented.

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