Beyond the Seen: Santa-Clause

Ferguson, etc.: Attention!

Saurav Das & Lijo Stephen Chacko 26 December 2014 Will Simcoe & Meghna Chandra 19 December 2014
“And then he told them, ‘Go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone’.” Nothing new, and nothing really good, it seems, as one observes in a glimpse the global spread of what was once a fundamental belief in and for inclusion. As traditions of spiritual wisdom undertook their translocal destiny, splitting and excluding appeared a more sound option than bridging across cultures and society. But when inclusion becomes exclusion, the play of cultures becomes a power play and across-within groups, the light and pervasive inter-connection of cultures disappears from the surface. A certain limited spirit of the market rises, as no one any longer believes that truly innovative creations can guarantee the elaboration of equitable communities. Advertisement is brought in, responding to its favourite assumption: the insurmountable struggle of identical siblings. As we, thus, believe in the very veil of appearances, all means become valid to permit this fight to the finish – terror prevails well beyond Bethlehem and Peshawar, in a world culture preferring success over connective spread. But the News reached us nonetheless, serenely eternal and regularly awaited, like the Santa of our children. Thus, even though we walk through the valley of the shadow of death, we will fear no evil, for this Santa-Clause, an open, always incomplete proposition, promises rewards to those who believe beyond the seen. This week on LILA Inter-actions, Saurav Das attempts an introspective exploration into the functions of advertisement for our belief cultures, and he points towards the possibility of a non-competing practice of the commercial. Lijo Stephen Chacko reaffirms today’s need for beliefs, but a belief connecting communities through service, faith and loyalty, as real action truly supplants mere talk.Read button
Once upon a time, in school, we were told that human communities gathered up, fundamentally, towards the primary objective of ensuring the survival of each of their members. That was the benefit for the citizen of the ‘social contract’, achieved at the cost of accepting that authority would be given only to a few. Continents have been conquered, cities and states have sprouted, growing¬†a relative and imperfect, but unquestionably improving respect for the dignity of human lives. In a word: our collective, initial wager has proved successful. Or so it seemed. What happened, then, on the 9 August of this year, when the proudest democracy of our world brought its death row onto the streets? Membership to the club of the ‘Rogue States’ is clearly a fluctuating business nowadays, so where is the world citizen of our age expected to feel safe, between a school ground of Peshawar and a sidewalk of a city suburb of Missouri? Perhaps those echoes, those coincidences, those firsthand testimonies reaching us from all directions are meant to meet and combine, contributing to charting the informal code of an internationally connected citizenry determined to hold to the initial promise of the participatory democracy. In the last decade, the popular¬†protests are still calling for our attention, but it¬†has welcomed in its ranks the support of the new, pan-global educated class, armed with its online presence, becoming what may be¬†the first forms of a worldwide, translocal collective of citizen politicians. But beyond their respective fights, these movements already enact the change they advocate: transforming constitutions and institutions becomes the temporary objective; urging¬†the permanent attention demanded of every society member is its long-lasting accomplishment. This week on LILA Inter-actions, Will Simcoe goes from Thailand back to the USA to bring the principles of the nation back to its reality. Meghna Chandra bridges the USA and India, observing the relevance of Ferguson for social quests in the Subcontinent, and she reflects on the mode of the protest as a rich medium of expression for the new forms of awareness rising today.Read button

Burial of the Unknown: Tragedies of Toxic Leadership

Records & Scratches: History Lessons from Ayodhya

Satinath Sarangi & Thomas Crowley 12 December 2014 Irfan Habib & Kumkum Roy 5 December 2014
The cloudy skies and dried soils have conveniently become characters in a too comfortable tale: they are, we are told, the necessary casualty of history, as humans spread over the world, building societies and connecting nations. Like the friendly ‘Dhruzba-Dhosti’ vision of Modi and Putin, a few days back, celebrated as an early move of collaboration within the ‘new world order’. This was only to forget that this sudden amity was an essentially interested one, looking forward to signing the deal of 12 supplementary nuclear plants in India before 2035. One could, or perhaps, should feel a sense of discomfort, as these international industrialist efforts have come to disturb the thirtieth anniversary of Bhopal’s mourning. But, on the antipodes, Southern American voices were just raising at the public rostrum of the yearly UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. The voice of an alternative, not only in dreams but in recorded reality, as a few valiant leaders reaffirmed the positive results of another understanding of land, placing the necessary use of the earth’s bounty in the hands of the very inhabitants of each area. Only this binding, this renewed stitch between each community and its earth knowledge, can strengthen the continuity of locals towards the translocal, reaching finally, one day perhaps, the scale of the global. This week on LILA Inter-actions, Satinath Sarangi recalls the diplomatic, economic and legal ties that pushed the risk of the UCIL plant of Bhopal into a reality, and he comments on an environmental economy that has visibly not learnt from such a traumatic lesson. Thomas Crowley analyses the subversive resistance of Evo Morales, and the remaining hurdles on the ground, to suggest a deep rapport between environmental and political economy with the help of eco-philosophy and Marx.Read button
There are moments in the legal history of a country, which go almost unnoticed; moments when entire populations stumble upon an altogether new phase of their collective memory without realising it. In the mid-1980s, Israel, Germany and then most of the European countries, released legal orders making of any Holocaust denial, and facts minimisation, illegal, if not a crime. This is not a small affair: at the heart of self-proclaimed liberal democracies, the public, rational voice of Law sets a limit for historical interpretations – some facts of the past are beyond doubts. But this is also an ambiguous rhetoric: if those facts were indeed unquestionable, their objective truth would always shine, and legal impositions would not be needed. It is perhaps that anything human requires interpretation, and ultimately meaning, as Viktor Frankl – an Holocaust survivor – would later famously elaborate. Twenty-two years ago, the thousands of dead on this December 6, in Ayodhya, could not be denied by anyone – the communal mayhem was too loud, too tragic and crying. But, two decades later, the lost lives seem to have gone in vain; they are now mentioned as historical expediencies, as unfortunate costs over sadly endless quarrels hiding interpretation behind ‘objective history’, and forgetting the pragmatics of cultural harmony behind the fantasy of pure identities. And, this time, certain public officials and offices seem all too eager to extend the age of mythologies and throw in the air the craft of historians. This week on LILA Inter-actions, Irfan Habib regrets the deterioration of the conditions of historiography in India, after the praiseworthy principles laid in the Constitution. He observes the alarming attempts at stepping away from our secular project. Kumkum Roy remarks how the institutions of history research and teaching always tremble when turning points like 1984 and 1992 occur, but she remains hopeful as to the potentials of a history placing dialogue and concern as its core values.Read button

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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