Mao:Man, Not God-Memoir of personal bodyguard

Standard

 

                                  

Mao-Man not God

 Mao and his daughter Ni

  1. Mao Zedong: Man, Not God, Quan Yanchi,, Foreign Languages Press, Beijing, English translation Wang Wengjiong, 1st ed. 1992, sixth reprint 2009, pages 214, price 45 Yuan

 

     Li Yinqiao, the narrator of this book was Mao Zedong’s personal bodyguard for 15 years, as per his own version, Mao trusted him so much that he told him once to tell the true story of Mao family, after his death, but not before. Lin Yinqiao’s memoir of Mao as the peasant’s son, husband, father and comrade in arms have been presented here by Quan Yanchi, a member of Chinese Writers Association. The author opines that Mao himself would have given this title to this book. Mao has been presented as China’s dynamic leader and world statesman by the author.                           

                               In his brief preface to the book Quan Yanchi has described that how he got responses to his queries on Mao’s life from many people, but more importantly from Li Yinqiao. Publisher has claimed many new and unseen photographs of Mao and author has opined that ‘Mao is the greatest man China has produced in this century.’

    Book is divided into twenty chapters, through which Lin Yinquao’s memoirs have been given the shape of the book. First and introductory chapter is about how Lin became bodyguard of Mao. He was working as bodyguard to Chou En Lai, when Communist party had headquarters in Yan’an, there was a need of new bodyguard for Mao. Li has joined Chou Enlai as bodyguard in 1947, in the final phase of liberation war, fought during 1946-49. Chiang Kai-shek’s army of 2 lakh thirty thousand men led by his favorite General Hu Zongnan had pushed itself on Yan’an. Communist party headquarter at that time. Communists had to leave its HQ at Yana’n and fight guerrilla war against Chiang click. It was toughest period of war and Communist forces reached Yellow river. There were torrential rains in August and party wanted to cross river and reach at safer place, but Mao was in angry mood and did not want to leave before defeating Hu Zongnan forces. Li Desheng was Mao’s party name at that time. Li’s observation about Mao is that’ Mao always meant what he said; he was a man not to be expected to give in easily to opposition, or change his mind’.(Page 1)

    Party wanted Li Yinquao to become bodyguard of Mao, as an earlier bodyguard was dismissed by Mao. Here Li narrates that he joined People Liberation Army at the age of 11 years and worked as orderly, guard and bodyguard in ten years’ time. Li is frank in telling Mao that he does not like change from Chou and Mao likes his frankness. Both make an agreement to spend six months together, which was extended to another six months, before finally making it regular arrangement. In the due course of time Li is promoted as head of bodyguard team for Mao. He does not wish to leave Mao, who convinces him to accept higher position 15 years later and not to block his career. In the very first month, Li Yinquao is impressed by Mao’s fearlessness, who does not get perturbed, when enemy bomb explode even in front of him. Li is also impressed by Mao’s concern for other comrades, as when they had to cross the river and want Mao to cross first, Mao insists every other comrade to cross first and taking his turn last. Li is further impressed that Mao talks to him at personal level and when told that Li’s mother was a Buddhist, comments that ‘Buddhists are kind hearted and compassionate people.’(Page8) In 1956, Li was promoted as commander of Mao’s bodyguards and he stayed on till 1962, when despite Li’s reluctance to leave him, Mao persuaded him to join at higher position in Tianjin province. Their parting is sad and emotional as described by Li that he cried a lot and Mao also took him into his arms and cried by saying-“After I die, don’t forget to come to my grave…once a year.” Mao also told Li that-‘I see my children only a few times a year. You are the only one I saw every day, so you are closer to me than my own children are. But I had to think of your future….’(Page12)

       Mao Zedong was vilified by his so called personal doctor Li Zhisin in a book published by Random House under the title-‘The Private Life of Chairman Mao’, though so many scholars and members of personal staff of Mao contradicted his ‘authentic’ claims, who dubbed Mao as ‘womanizer’ etc. This book, though written in very simple narrative and somewhat emotional style by one of the persons, who had to be with Mao most of the time, due to the nature of his duties. He had to perform even most private duties like taking care of Mao’s dressing up or helping him to sleep etc. can be definitely more true account of Mao’s life, as the book has been published by the official organ of Chinese Communist Party, it could be having official sanction also. The author, not to upset present Chinese leadership has at the end of the book criticized Mao on his concept of ‘Cultural Revolution’, but has also tried to reveal Mao’s abiding human qualities in a moving manner. This is one of the rare books in post Mao China that one could find reference to Jiang Qing, Mao’s persecuted wife as part of so called ‘Gang of Four’ and tried to be eliminated from Chinese history, the reference to Jiang Qing are not exactly as villainess, as she had been projected as part of ‘Gang of Four’. The book even contains a rare photograph of Mao and Jiang Qing daughter Li Ne, hugging her father fondly. Li Ne was sent by Mao himself to work in rural side as part of Cultural Revolution campaign of ‘city intelligentsia working in farms to learn’. Author has not mentioned Mao sending Li Ne to sending to work, as the book covers 1947-62 period only, whereas Cultural Revolution was post 1966 phenomenon. However author has mentioned in detail that how Mao has not allowed his children to take any advantage of his position, thus Li Ne, who almost starved in her school mess, was not allowed having any other food than served to all other students, which was a standard meal for a common poor peasant of China. Only when she visited home, she could take full some food at dining table. Mao even snubbed his body guard for showing her any special favor, when he came to know that his official car was used to take her to school or some such thing. She was to travel on public transport; at best she was given a bicycle at his body guard’s persistence. Jiang Qing never pleaded for any favor to her daughter. Same is true of Mao’s two sons from his first wife, who was killed by Kuomintang for not disclosing Mao’s whereabouts. One of these two sons was sent to Korea war in 1950, where he was killed in November 1950 at the age of 28 years only. Mao Zedong was upset, but did not shed a tear and also did not seek his body back home for burial. He said that Mao Anying belongs to the every land of the world and he should be buried, where ever he gave his life for a cause. The memorial is built for Mao’s son in North Korea and his just few month married widow had been visiting every year to pay homage. Li’s book brings many such aspects of Mao’s life to the fore. Mao remained in touch with his in laws from first wife, but told them not to seek any favour from Government. In many cases, Mao financially helped some needy friends or acquaintances from income on his books, but showed no favour at Government level

      In second chapter with apt title-‘Mao Enjoys a Challenge’, the very first para of this chapter is worth quoting in full-‘The most outstanding trait in Mao’s character, as his writings attest, was his readiness to take on a challenge. He responded to challenges from Kuomintang with counter-challenges, never conceding an inch. A winner all his life, as far as I know, never admitted to feeling overwhelmed by his adversaries, nor retreated in face of heavy odds against him. Whatever he did, he never quit, short of total victory.’(Page 13)

    Li Yinquao proves his point with concrete examples. In 1947, when Mao’s commanders decided to quit Yan’an headquarter of the party in face of two lakh thirty thousand strong Hu Zongnan’s army advance, Mao refused to leave till he saw Hu’s forces and everyone else had left. Chou En Lai assured him. Mao left at last, but making it sure that two boxes of his books reach at safe place, while leaving Marxism Leninism books for enemy troops, as it would be ‘good for them’. Many times Chou Enlai had to use tact to persuade Mao to leave the place of imminent danger. Finally only 20 thousand People’s guerrilla army of Mao Zedong decimated two lakh plus army of Chiang Kai-shek. Li has narrated details of many battles, which Mao won by his sheer confidence and tactics against Chiang armies. Mao’s love of challenge was expressed in his adventurous swimming of dangerous seas and rivers of China. Even as head of state, when he was not allowed free movement, Mao would announce his decision to swim across dangerous rivers or sea and his personal body guards and doctors will be in tough condition. Mao will never retreat, once he decided to swim and his swimming at 70 plus age has legendary tales now. In one instance Mao angrily told his security in charge Luo Ruiqing, when he tried to stop Mao from swimming in Yangtse river-‘All that worries you is that I may drown in that river, but what is this safety business all about? You may get killed by bombs right in your own room.”

   In a chapter-‘When Bombers Came’, Li narrates that how Mao never lost his composure in face of death. Death crossed him on close quarters many times, yet it could not deter Mao from the work he was engrossed in. It is revealing to know that attempts were made on Mao’s life in post-revolutionary China too, in 1952 and 1958 by Kuomintang, the conspiracies exposed in time.

  Mao’s humanism comes out in ‘Things that upset Mao’ and ‘Mao in Tears’ like chapters. As per Li’s account, Mao could not bear poor people crying, if he saw them in tears, he could not hold his own. During Yana’n days, on road, while traveling in a jeep, he saw a poor girl dyeing in her mother’s lap. Mao asked his doctor to take her along and told him to use only one emergency bottle of penicillin to save the girl. And girl was saved. He stopped red guards from shooting birds in his complex. Mao was fond of Peking Opera, a very powerful vehicle of China’s art. While Mao did not like to watch films much, he enjoyed watching Opera and liked many performances. His last wife Jiang Qing herself was a theater performer. What affected Mao in opera was his emotional bonding with characters, in one occasion, as per Li’s account, even as Chairman of Chinese state, Mao broke into tears in full public view after watching an opera. Not only that, while watching opera, Mao had unshackled his belt and while getting up emotionally to cheer the actors, his pants came down and Li had to take care of pulling up his pants. (This incident has also recently been narrated by novelist Cao Zhenglu, author of Lessons in Democracy in an interview published in October 2013 issue of Monthly Review.)

  Mao took personal interest in the lives of his guards and help them by his advice also. According to Li, Mao wore his heart on his sleeve. He wrote a poem for Li at the time of parting, as requested by him. Mao flared up in temper, when he could not sleep for many days. Sometimes he worked for 2-3 days and nights without sleeping and then he needed sleeping piles and if some disturbance made him wake up, he will flare up at such occasions. Mao liked snow and loved to walk and watch it, but he hated money so much that he will even not touch it. Mao said-‘Money is a lousy thing. But there is nothing I can do about it; nothing anyone can do, not even Lenin. We just can’t manage without it.’(Page76)

   Mao liked Stewed Pork and also brandy some time, chain smoker he was. Mao , according to Li, sometime liked the slogan-Long Live Chairman Mao, by implying that it is for Chinese Communist party, but sometime he disliked it. Mao’s habits were from his peasant background-rustic. Constipation and insomnia were Mao’s perennial problems. Li has interesting details of Mao’s founding day routine of People’s Republic of China, when he slept till 1 pm and Li made him ready in time to be with other leaders at Tiananmen square by 3 pm and he stood for seven long hours there, responding to peoples slogans of victory, with counter slogans-Long Live Chinese People..

   Mao remained concerned to know the reality of people’s lives and the impact of his projects. He will ask his guards, when they went for holiday , the real situation of their areas. As Chairman, his security arrangements were in the hands of Government, so he was not allowed free movement, sometimes, Mao will rebel and make a trip here or there on his own. He also remained worried about factionalism in party. While he himself did not ally with any faction. According to Li, Mao was warmer with non-party writers/intellectuals, while with party people, he kept a distance or aloofness and work like relations. He was suspicious of deviations in the party as early as in 1959 and remained suspicious till the end. The Cultural Revolution came out of these suspicions only, as Mao was worried more and more about rightist tendencies in the party itself, which proved true after his death.

    What comes out of Li’s memoirs and elsewhere in the world, Communist leaders in all countries after revolution become so much imprisoned in their shells that they don’t move among people as in liberal democracies. In one such instance when people came to know that Mao is visiting a hotel, thousands of people gathered to see him, greet him, but rather than Mao coming out and greeting people, he remained confined inside for hours, till security people got him out, clearing the way. This happened in all countries. They will address lakhs of people from high risen podium, but will not meet people on roads. Perhaps attack on Lenin in such meetings, made the Communist party super sensitive to the security of their leaders, be it Castro in Cuba or at other places. Attempts on Castro’s life by US agencies have further worsened this situation. At one time in China, Chou En Lai cycled to his office, so was with Ho Chi Minh in Hanoi, but later day developments made the communist countries much more security conscious than even bourgeoisie countries.

 Li has devoted one full chapter to Mao’s life with his wife Jiang Qing. They slept in separate rooms, but when guards had difficult problem, they will share it with Jiang Qing, who will handle the situation then. As per Li account, Jiang was caring of Mao and their children, even step children from Mao’s other wives. Li has tried to say Jiang was intemperate and quarreled a lot, even with guards, but as per Li’s own account, he never bothered about her and could even shout at her during dispute. Li Yin Quao acknowledged that both of them despite quarrels, loved each other lived happily during his 15 year stint as body guard. Li acknowledges her other qualities like excellent handwriting, a part of calligraphy as an art in China, good stage performer, liked by all members of central committee of Communist party. If Mao like to tame fiery rivers by his swimming, Jiang liked to tame fiery horses, even the wildest one. She was good in knitting as well and made good dresses. Interestingly she was fond of playing cards and played with guards too. Mao was irritated some time, when her quarrels with guards reached him and admonished them all for playing cards, advising them to study Marx and Lenin in their free time. From Li’s memoirs, another problem of feudal background of China comes to the fore. Perhaps there was little interest for reading among even Chinese Communists, Mao was most voracious and updated reader. Newest books will reach him in his cave at party headquarters in Yan’an. There have been party schools in party headquarters, where emphasis will be given to ideological orientation to the party cadres and leaders. But it seems, no other Chinese communist leader has as much interest in ideological issues of Marxism Leninism as Mao had, that is how he remained undisputed leader of Communist party during pre-revolutionary period and his ideas given the pre fix of Mao Zedong Thought, added to Marxism Leninism. Mao remained committed to the study and development of Communist ideology even after revolution and contributed many more philosophical essays, but after coming to power, many factions in Communist party seems to have lost interest in ideology and became involved in issues of governance, many of them losing their commitment and sincerity as well. Li seems to have some exaggerated accounts of Mao and Jiang exchanges and could have been putting words in Mao’s mouth as per his own perception. Though not vilifying Jiang, Li had projected a picture of Mao and Jiang as unhappy couple.

      In a chapter Mao’s relations with people he knew, Li describes Mao’s literary interests, as he was a poet himself. With Chen Yi in party, he had close relations. Mao will occasionally meet eminent Chinese writers like Gu Mo Ru, Zhang Li or Chen Shutong. Mao lost six of his kinfolks in Chinese liberation war and after.  Though caring father, Mao was strict in discipline with his children, when his on Mao Anying wanted to marry in hurry, Mao told him-‘You are Mao Zedong’s son, who will stick to regulations, if you don’t?’(Page 170). As his children suffered harshness of life, Mao would say that ‘it is tough luck for them as they are Mao’s children!’. At the time of Korea war, when China decided to send its troops to Korea, Mao sent his son also and said-‘He is Mao Zedong’s son. Who would go if he did n’t?’ From the earlier phase of Chinese people’s republic, Mao disliked those who had started looking for material comforts after the revolution and he made no secret of his feelings-‘A man who vies with others for material comfort and not for service to the revolution is contemptible!’(Page175). Li Ne, Mao’s youngest daughter and very close to him, was never allowed to have any extra food, apart from what she got in her school mess.

    After Mao’s death and Jiang Qing arrest, Li Ne also went through tough time, she was separated from her husband. In 1980, Li met Li Ne, who was living alone with her son and was in bad shape. When suggested of remarriage, Mao’s daughter said-“Who would marry a woman, whose mother is member of Gang of four?” Though she was married again and was more comfortable than before, but it shows that how the new Chinese Communist leadership, whose own kith and kin are now playing in billions, treated Mao’s children after his death. Though Mao’s photo is the only one to don at Tiananmen Square, perhaps only its size has been reduced, it was bigger earlier, and Chinese currency also carries Mao’s photographs. Mao’s mausoleum is also taken care by Chinese government, which still attracts long queues of people, yet Mao’s successors have already buried Mao legacy deep in sea and don’t want to even any memory of Mao’s moral legacy to be remembered by people In two small chapters, Li has focused on Mao’s sense of humor and also his love for books. Mao encouraged all his staff to study and personally set up spare time school at Zhongnanhai and selected teachers personally. Rather than his own books, Mao will encourage his staff to read books by Marx and Lenin.

  According to Li, Mao probably had two regrets in life, the things which he could not accomplish in his life time- one, he was never able to swim Yellow River, though he yearned and tried for it, secondly, he could not see the liberation of Taiwan and its integration with China. Hong Kong and Macau, also got integrated with China only after Mao’s death, but Taiwan was different.

      After revolution Mao went to seek help from Soviet Union and spent almost ten weeks there during Stalin’s time, but got very little help. Later Khrushchev started demanding its repayment prematurely, that soured Sino-Soviet relations. Though Mao described Stalin as The greatest friend of China, later the relations, which took ideological conflict also, became very tense. There is a reference to India too in the book, ascribing Five Principles of peaceful co existence-Panchsheel- as Mao’s brain child, promoted by Chou En Lai in 1955 Bandung conference. The claim of these principles is made by Nehru also.

     Li Yinquao does not indulge much in political debates of Communist party, but to keep the present rulers on his right side, he describes Mao’s concept of Cultural Revolution as a ‘mistake’–’Mao merely made a ‘mistake’, but Gang of four committed crimes’– but his observations in this regard are interesting, coming from a common man-

“Mao’s intentions regarding the ‘cultural revolution’ were honorable; he wanted to rid the Communist Party. Amongst other things, of bureaucratic practices and corruption.”(Page 212). Li continues-‘Mao was a dead enemy of bureaucracy and corruption.’ In 1950’s also he campaigned against bureaucracy, waste and corruption, he was so serious about it that he will ask his staff pointedly that if any of them pocketed government money? He will always tell them not to fall for ‘sugar coated bullets’ and resist temptations. He always appreciated honesty and will tell that ‘don’t expect to make big money for working in government’. He will tell the staff leaving him for other job that—‘Be modest and remain true to revolution, without losing your drive or becoming decadent.’(Page 213)

    The last para of the book needs to be quoted in full-“Mao did not find everything about the Communist Party or the nation which he had founded to his satisfaction, and he always tried to do something to rectify it. In my opinion, this is one of the reasons why he initiated the ‘cultural revolution’.

     Li takes umbrage in Chinese official line in next lines-‘unfortunately for the Chinese nation, this ‘something’, which he did, turn out to be a mistake which triggered ten years of catastrophe.

   This was Mao’s ultimate regret and the regret of history as well’ (Page 213)

     The book ends with these official words, but what history is now proving, seeing the tide of corruption and reversal of revolution and restoration of not only capitalism, but multinational corporate crony capitalism, ironically proves Mao Zedong to be correct in his assessment that China needs not only one Cultural Revolution, but Cultural Revolution every twenty years, if socialism has to be built and protected/promoted. But he was as much aware of Chinese Communist Party’s inner composition, where capitalist roaders led by Liu Shaoqi and Deng Xiaoping always held control over government and state, where Mao was just kept as figure head and show piece of Chinese Revolution. Chinese Communist Party could not do without Mao, even now, as his prestige in leading the Chinese revolution is so high that no one can contest that without Mao’s leadership Chinese Communist party could never make a revolution. Mao was so incensed with rightist elements in the party that he had to issue the personally written poster on 5th August 1966 under the title-‘Bombard the Headquarters’, sitting where Mao himself was feeling suffocated. It was another tragedy of history that due to lack of proper ideological training and also due to deep factionalism in Chinese Communist party, even among so called ‘leftist’ elements like Lin Bio and Jiang Qing, cultural revolution too resorted to excesses, which became a tool in the hands of rightists to grab power and put China back to Capitalist road, fruits of which are now there for everyone to see. In the name of Communist Party, a society has been created in China, which is much worse than even Nehruvian model of ‘mixed economy’!

    Marx, Engels, Lenin, Mao, Ho Chi Minh, Che Guevara and Fidel Castro etc. had conceived Socialism, not just an economic system, they had conceived it as a model of creating a ‘new man’, different from man created by capitalist society. This ‘new man’ did come into being in the initial phases of Soviet, Chinese, Vietnamese and Cuban societies and is still cringing to survive in Cuba, but no more exists in other places, Chinese creating the worst ‘consumerist’ gloated man running after ‘money’ like mad man!

      Written in student like innocent narrative style, this book does bring out Mao Zedong’s personality as a fascinating human being, as much fearless and with absolute commitment to the cause of human liberation from all kinds of oppression as were Lenin, Che Guevara, Fidel Castro, Ho Chi Minh or Bhagat Singh! Mao Zedong may had made ‘mistakes’ in the cause of liberation, but he made absolutely no mistake in understanding Chinese people, Chinese Communist Party and rightist tendencies in it!

Advertisements

Why and whom I voted? My wish list for Lok Sabha

Standard

March2, 2009 Atul Kumar Anjaan, CPI leader. Photo  Arvind JainAmarnath YadavDr-Dharamvira-Gandhi-AAPDr. Daljit Singh Book Hindisonisoriimages.jpg-Rajmohan GandhiAnand Kumar_npatkar1_650_010914072942  Arvind Kejriwal jpgprofile-cheema-1_325_071112124109S R DarapuriMohd SalimSubhashini Alijpgrajo dRajender Prasad CPI         Manpreet Badal jpg 

Above are some of candidates whom I wish that they should win and reach Lok Sabha. Profiles of some are given below-In order of pasting candidates are-1.Atul Anjan-CPI2. Amarnath Yadav-CPIML3. Dr. Dharamvir Gandhi4. Dr. Daljit Singh5. Soni Sori6.Rajmoohan Gandhi7Prof. Anand Kumar8Medha Patkar9Arvind Kejriwal10Yogender Yadav11.Balli Singh Cheema(All Aam Aadmi Party(AAP), 12.SR Darapuri13.Mohd. Salim14. Subhashini Ali(Both CPM)15. Rajinder Singh(CPI)16. Manpreet Badal(PPP)

 

                                                    

                                                                                          Profiles of Lok Sabha candidates

  1. Dr. Dharamvir Gandhi—The earliest memory of Dharamvir seems to be, visiting him ,when  he was a MBBS student in Amritsar Medical college. Probably I stayed with him a night in hostel. I may have gone for some Gursharn Singh event in Gandhi grounds, the whole night discussion on cultural issues. In one such all night meeting, perhaps Bhagwan Josh had come, Amarjit Chandan was there too. This was between 1972-75. On one of these visits, probably Dharamvir took me to introduce Dr. Daljit Singh, who was still working with Govt. Medical college. As Dr. Gandhi told me that when he spent about six months in prison during emergency, it was only Dr. Daljit Singh, who will visit them in jail. After completing MBBS and remaining Punjab Students Union (PSU) activist, which was led by Pirthipal Singh Randhawa, Dr. Gandhi joined govt. Service as medical officer at PHC Bilaspur, Bhindrawale’s wife’s village. I had joined JNU,but used to visit Punjab a lot and visited Bilaspur many times. Used to stay with Dharamvir in his official residence on hospital campus. Dharamvir got married in these days with Padma, it was perhaps arranged marriage, but Padma got absorved in Comradely life of Dharmavir quite soon. She was working with Food Corporation of India(FCI), where she was  not burdened with much work and she could spare time. They had two children-one son and a daughter. I had seen children in their early age, but not since many years. Dr. Gandhi told that daughter is doctor in USA and son is with him in his clinic, he has also done medical degree. Padma has retired from FCI, before that Dr. Gandhi had taken voluntary retirement in order to open his own clinic.

                    In 1978 Dharamvir went to Bilaspur, Health centre, where he continued with breaks till 1988, almost a decade. He was popular in the whole area, in surrounding villages.In Govt. Hospitals, generally free medicines were not supplied to patients. Dharamvir saw to it that patients get medicines from dispensary. Though his consultation hours were limited in morning and evening, he was available to patients all times, as he was staying in flat on campus. Even during late night or odd hours, any family had any problems, they could come and call Dr. Gandhi and he was readily available. This made him so popular, that when he was transferred due to his anti-Govt. Campaigns in the area, people from 2-3 villages went to Chandigarh Punjab secretariat and returned only after getting his transfer cancelled. In 1979, he was elected founder General Secretary of Association for Democratic Rights(AFDR), the position he held for many years and brought AFDR to all India map. This mass organisation for civil rights was inspired by Nagi Reddy group of Communist movement and after the group split, Dr. Gandhi left the organisation and became active in other democratic movements. In fact Nagi Reddy group has decided that Pirthipal Singh Randhawa, a very popular student leader and general secretary of PSU to organise AFDR, but he was murdered brutally by Akali patronised goons in July 1979. Randhawa was considered a good organiser, so the mattle fell on Dr. Gandhi, whose organisational skills were equally good. Dr. Gandhi joined Rajindra Medical College Patiala for his post graduate studies and later became Asstt. Professor in Cardiology deptt. where he spent another decade, attending patients in large numbers. In year 2001, he set up his own Dr. Gandhi Heart clinic, on the pattern of his teacher Dr. Daljit Singh’s Eye centre in Amritsar, where nominal fees was charged from poor patients. Dr. Gandhi kept differential fee/expense structure for patients and offering free service to very poor patients and clinic became as popular in Patiala and its surrounding rural areas, as he was popular in Bilaspur area, where even Bhindrawale’s in laws family held him in high esteem. This continued till 2011-12, when he again jumped into mass movement with Anna-Kejriwal mass movement. And he became a Aam Aadmi Party candidate from Patiala constituency with a bang. I was not bit sure about whether he would be able to organise big campaign against a formidable candidate-Central minister Parneet Kaur, whose social reputation is much better than her husband Amrinder Singh, who is foul mouthed and arrogant in his feudal background style. It was easy to defeat him, if he was a candidate in Patiala. Dr. Balbir Singh, a common friend and incharge of Dr. Gandhi’s campaign invited me for discussion, in which Dr. Gandhi also joined for some time. We revived our past warmth and I expressed my solidarity and offered some suggestions. Dr. Gandhi’s presence made the Congress and Akalis unnerved and Akalis made a cowardly physical attack on him on Election Day, injuring him seriously, the writing of wall was too difficult for them to bear. Dr. Gandhi fought back and forced Akali supporter SSP and administration to arrest the culprit. I have been critical of AAP on many issues and continue to, but presence of Dr. Gandhi, Medha Patkar, Dr. Daljit Singh and Soni Sori like candidates, put me in dilemma. Also the growing danger of Moditva fascist trend, weakness and discredited character of so called middle parties like JD(U), Samajvadi Party, BSP; marginalisation of left parties, made me realise that perhaps it is only AAP, which has caught people’s attention and despite its inherent contradictions, I should support its creditable candidates and Dr. Gandhi was the first one with whom I expressed my solidarity openly and clearly.

  1.  Dr. Daljit Singh-Teacher of Dr. Gandhi, Dr. Daljit Singh is known in leftist circles since early sixties, when he was Doctor in eye deptt. at Rajendera Medical college Patiala during 1967-72. Dr. Pyare Mohan, Surjit Lee etc. were in touch with him in early phase of Naxalite movement in Punjab, but Dr. Daljit Singh had relations with earlier Communist movement as well, with Satya Pal Dang etc. He used to help and support young student rebels of Punjab Students Union and their mentors like Surjit Lee and exchanged literature. From the very beginning of his medical career, he had the idealist streak in him, possibly got in from his respected Sikh scholar father Bhai Sahib Singh. He served Medical College till 1976 or at Amritsar, before establishing his own Dr. Daljit Singh Eye Hospital. I was probably introduced to him either by Surjit Lee or Dr. Gandhi in 1972-75 period, but later when I had to undergo cataract surgery in 1990 or so, Poonam Preetlari accompanied us to Dr. Daljit Singh. We stayed at Poonam house in Amritsar then. Dr. Daljit Singh has a practice of charging not only no fees, no expense from Punjabi writers. So from Gurdial Singh down to lesser known writers availed his generosity. Dr. Daljit Singh himself has a flair for writing, not only on his professional subject-eye care’, that too in Punjabi language, but in other fields of writing as well. He writes prose on American oppression of the world and with documents showed that how 9/11 was USA’s own planned act to push the world into a fire of hatred and violence. He is a poet and had two collections of poetry to his credit in Punjabi. My way of paying to his generosity was to translate his poetry in Hindi, which I did with pleasure, which was published by Kulwant Singh Suri, son of eminent Punjabi writer Nanak Singh. A release function on the book was also organised in Amritsar. When in 2002, I had another retinal detachment, after losing much vision in first detachment in 1992 end in Delhi, at the recommendation of Dr. Balbir Singh, an eye surgeon friend at Patiala, we rushed to Amritsar. This time Dr. Daljit Singh personally took care of the surgery done by his daughter in law Dr. Indu Singh, retinal expert in his eye hospital. This time we were hosted in his new hospital cum patient accommodation rooms, again charging no expense, despite my request that my University would reimburse me. And when in 2004 or so, my daughter had serious eye problem, Dr. Balbir again sent us to Amritsar and this time too Dr. Indu Singh not only treated her, she gave her so much affection as well. I have been sending my books on Bhagat Singh to Dr. Daljit Singh, who is also his fan and wrote even a poem on him. And when his candidature was declared from AAP, I expressed my solidarity with pleasure. Dr. Daljit Singh enjoy so much respect in Amritsar that he went even to Congress and BJP rallies and distribute AAP caps and people accepted. Despite being personal doctor of Presidnet of India a t one time and receiving Padam Shri honours in 1987, he never referred these things in his campaign as candidate.He was the only candidate to visit slum areas of the city and also poor Dalit areas in rural side, where no Congress/BJP candidate went. In light mood, when I phoned him to express my solidarity, he said half jokingly ‘we may even win!’ In two bullish candidates fighting a dirty campaign, Dr. Daljit Singh’s campaign was cleanest to the core and my strongest wish is his victory! He is nearly eighty years now and had been working since more than five decades with such discipline-getting up at 3 am, reaching operation theatre by 4 am, performing surgery till 7 am, then with little break, reaching OPD and attending to patients till almost 2 to 3 pm before lunch break. After an hour or more, again going to ward to look after morning operated patients. Sitting on computer from early nineties, when few people had such excess and competence.
  2.  Medha Patkar-  My interaction with Medha Patkar began in year 2006, after I joined JNU faculty in 2005. I was Vice President of JNU Teachers Association during 2006 period, when she had big agitation in Delhi at Jantar Mantar in which JNU Students Union; many faculty members participated, apart from many other sections of society in Delhi. Even actor Amir Khan came and sat on dharna for some time. She observed 21 days hunger strike and was very week, when I will hold her hand and listen to her soft voice in extreme weakness. In her team, there is a gentle Punjabi young man Simpreet, to whom she will call as ‘our chhota Bhagat Singh’-our little Bhagat Singh. I had gifted my book on Bhagat Singh to her and she had been an ardent admirer of the martyr. I was not totally attached to her long drawn Narmada movement, but always admired her simplicity and dedication. So when she also decided to contest on AAP ticket, I happily extended my solidarity to her.
  3. Soni Sori- I have never met Soni Sori, but have been reading a lot and supporting her through her sufferings at the hands of Chhatisgarh police. I refused to attend a literary meet patronised by then Chhatisgarh DGP Vishvranjan Singh, whose hospitality was accepted by many known Hindi writers. He was the main culprit of torturing Maoist sympathisers in state, which included simple adivasi school teacher Soni Sori and her nephew. The way so called President medal winner SP Aggarwal has caused inserting stones in her vagina had been the vilest act. She was given relief by Supreme court very late and that too reluctantly. AAP activist advocate Prashant Bhushan has been fighting her case in courts and probably he got AAP ticket for her to contest elections. I respect Prashant Bhushan for his radical stand on many issues like on Kashmir and has been critical of AAP for keeping away from him, when he faced attacks from BJP, even physically attacked. It was but natural I would have supported Soni Sori.
  4. Balli Singh Cheema-a poet and cultural activist from Nainital area is personally known to me since 1994-5, when I had gone to Nainital for Punjab Languages Deptt. function. Balli Singh was known through his poems and Gursharn Singh team has popularised his song-Le Mashale Chal pade hain log mere gaon ke/ab andhera chir denge log mere gaon ke’(People of my village have come out with fire lights/tjey will now tear up the darkness). I met him and Zahoor Baksh, another poet from Nainital and spent some time together. On my return talked about his personality to Sarabjit Dhaliwal-Tribune reporter in Patiala then and now senior journalist in Tribune office in Chandigarh. His profile was published in Saturday or Sunday magazine of Tribune then, but probably he himself has forgot it, as I did not see any of his reference or write up on Balli Singh Chema during the election campaigh. He was arrested by Nainital police to dampen his soirit on a trumped up charge.He could have come out on bail, he refused and fought back from inside jail. Probably he may make as the people’s spontaneous response to AAP has exploded at many places.
  5. Prof. Sadhu Singh- He is contesting from Faridkot constituency after retiring from Govt. College Faridkot as lecturer in English some year back. I don’t remember meeting him, but I may have met him, as I had many friends there in seventies-Prem Pali, T R Vinod, Gurdial Singh, Gurmit Singh. After young girl Shruti abduction case, Akalis need to be taught a lesson here and Prof. Sadhu Singh may be able to achieve that.
  6. Bhagwant Mann- I may have met Bhagwant Mann,  known as comedian in plays and films, but cannot claim any close encounter, still I think he is better candidate to enter Lok Sabha than others in contest.
  7. Prof. Rajmohan Gandhi- I have not met him, but his recent book on Punjab-From Aurangzeb to Mountbatten-has been appreciated a lot. His earlier writings also I have been reading occasionally. He never used his grandfather Mahatma Gandhi’s name for his campaign and he has been losing earlier. Given his gentle and liberal personality, I think he deserves to win from Delhi!
  8. Prof. Anand Kumar-We are known to each other perhaps since 1977, the year I joined JNU as student and where Anand Kumar, Samajvadi Yuvjan Sabha activist was known as giant killer, as he had defeated Prakash Karat in JNU student union elections, who had also defeated him once. He had been BHU student union President earlier. He went to USA on fellowship, leaving his President ship in between, that was a bit of reflection on him. Later he joined faculty of BHU and later in JNU, few years before I joined. In JNU faculty, he remained JNU Teachers Association(JNUTA) President for one term and when I was also elected as JNUTA President for 2006-7 term, looking at my hyper activity, used to joke that ‘perhaps I want to be known as best JNUTA President’! We remained in constant touch on many academic and social issues and supported JNU students struggles together many times. He remained committed to his Lohiate socialist ideas, occasionally appreciating my writings on Bhagat Singh. During first elections to JNU Executive council, he supported CPI candidate Kamal Mitra Chenoy against me, but telling frankly that he is supporting him, as were Prabhat and Utsa Patnaik, telling me clearly about their support to Chenoy. I never felt bad about it and when Anand Kumar was put up as AAP candidate in Delhi, I extended my greetings and solidarity. Incidentally Chenoy left his four decade old membership of CPI to join AAP, he was their Central Committee member.
  9. Arvind Kejriwal-I have just one meeting with Kejriwal. When I was President to JNUTA in year 2007, I was invited by my friends-Prof. Amit Bhaduri and his Diplamat writer wife Madhu Bhaduri to join a protest against Information Commission at JNU old campus, which was its headquarters then. When I joined them, then I saw Arvind Kejriwal, who in a way was leading the delegation. I think RTI activist Shekhar Singh was also there, who later became one of the commissioners. That particular day Chief Information Commissioner, perhaps Wajahat Habibulah was not present in office, so the delegation including me and Bhaduris met one of the commissioners, who to my impression was playing smart. Kejriwal was very tough with him and somewhat aggressive too and that man was put on defensive. Since Bhaduris and other civil activists were supporting Kejriwal and one can now observe that Kejriwal did show spark in his personality in earlier days of his RTI activism that his present chrisma can be understood. But Kejriwal is not radical like Prashant Bhushan or Medha Patkar or D. Gandhi. He is ‘practical’, as he himself defined himself, ‘neither right nor left’! This is dangerous proposition; he could turn into rabid rightist also in future, as his resort to religious symbolism indicates! Yet in present political scenario, I support him from Varanasi constituency to defeat Narender Modi. Even if Modi is defeated by Kejriwal, the strength of BJP is not going to be affected and Modi may still become Prime Minister. But this symbolic fight is crucial for the future of the country. Modi’s defeat will be the defeat of fascist design of Modi. His victory from Gujarat is almost certain, but his defeat in Varanasi shall convey a strong message to BJP and Modi both that Moditva kind of fascism will not be tolerated by Indian society and if he still tries to push that agenda, the people will fight resolutely, that is the meaning of Kejriwal victory and Modi defeat from Benaras. I wish that CPM, SP and BSP could also understand this and withdraw their candidates and extend support ot Kejriwal, despite their reservations and political rivalry, as has been done by JD(U).
  10. Yogender Yadav-We know since our JNU student days in 1980’s later Yadav was teaching in Panjab University Chandigarh for 6-7 years, when I also joined Punjabi University Patiala. We met occasionally and had common friends like Jasvir, but we were never close. Under present circumstances Yogender Yadav’s victory is important, as he and AAP can emerge as viable alternative to Congress, LOk Dal, BJP and HJP etc. all discredited.

12-14-Some other AAP candidates like Dayamani Birla, Alok Aggarwal and SP Udai Kumar, I don’t personally know, but have been reading about them and their participation is people’s interests struggles like Udai Kumar’s struggle against nuclear plant in Tamilnadu, Alok Aggarwals’s Narmada struggle and Dyamani Birla’s struggle for tribal rights in Jharkhand. They have been imprisoned as well. If they win, that will be good for people’s mass struggles all over the country.

15. Mohd Salim-CPM-We became friends in 2007, when he as MP came to release of my book on Bhagat Singh by publication division. Since then we have been interacting on email, meeting occasionally. On my last visit to Kolkata for a seminar on Ghadar party centenary, Mohd Salim to came to visit me with his two sons-named Titu and Mir-both freedom fighters- at Kolkata University campus near National library. I gifted his sons copy of my latest book-Understanding Bhagat Singh and also Ghadar party hero Sarabha. On that day there was  CPM election rally also. Mohd. Salim is ardent fan of Bhagat Singh, Ashok Singh is our common friend. Recently he was targeted by West Bengal CM Mamta Bannerjee, when his doctor wife having govt. House was asked to vacate govt. Accommodation in rough manner, with the excuse that ‘your husband(Mohd Salim) lives in govt. House with you”, so vacate! I wish him victory in elections, which he lost in 2009.

16. Subhashini Ali-daughter of legendary Laxmi Sehgal and Premnath Sehgal of INA, comrades of Netaji Subhas Bose, she is contesting from West Bengal this time on CPM ticket. She had once won from Kanpur, where Dr. Laxmi Sehgal lived. We shared dias, when I was invited to deliver lecture on Bhagat Singh during his birth cenetary in year 2007 and Subhashini came with her mother, who presided over the function.Both of them spoke also. She was in Rajya Sabha also. She delivered annual lecture in Ghadar party centenary year at Desh Bhagat Yadgar Hall Jalandhar on 1st November 2013. I wish her success in these elections.

  1. From Siwan constituency in Bihar I wish that CPI ML candidate Amarnath Yadav tto inflict crushing defeat on JNUSU Popular two times AISA President Chandershekhar’s murder accused Shahabudin’s wife and other candidates. And to pay tributes to martyr Chandershekhar in this victory.

17-19-PK Biju from Kerala, Amra Ram from Sikar in Rajsthan and Jagat Ram from Shimla are few other strong candidates. I don’t know them personally. PK Biju, SFI leader once has been email communicator. Amra Ram is veteran respected MLA. Shimla mayor ship was won by CPM for first time, so Jagat Ram can give good fight. Wish all these candidates victory.

20. Atul Anjan-know him since years, but no closeness. Ghosi once has been communist stronghold, now ground lost. Still wish him victory. I wish him to inflict crushing defeat to Mafia don Mukhtar Ansari.

21. Rajender Prasad Singh-CPI candidate from Begusarai has remained MLA for long and has been active, met him on my last visit to Begusarai to deliver lecture on Bhagat Singh, was invited by Shatrughan Prasad Singh, ex MP of CPI.

22. Com Prakash Reddy-CPI candidate from Mumbai is face book friend, don’t know much, still as face book friend wish him well

23. S R Darapuri-Lok rajneeti- He is retired IPS officer, active on social media on Dalit issues, enlightened tries to combine Marxism and Ambedkarism. Contesting from Robertganj against big parties, I shall be too happy if he could put to mat them! Darapuri comes from Punjab, but got UP cadre and settled in UP. I met him Benaras Hindu University seminar on Guru Ravidas in February 2013 and formed good impression about him.

24. Manpreet Badal-Punjab People’s Party, contested on Congress symbol with support from CPI as well. His victory will symbolise the defeat of not just Harsimrat, present MP and wife of Sukhbir Badal, sister of Bikramjit Majithia, it shall be the biggest slap at Sukhbir and Bikram highhandedness. AAP candidate is not strong enough to defeat Harsimrat. Manpreet’s real maternal uncle Harpal is Marxist Leninist and editor of Lalkar from London. Manpreet is admirer of Bhagat Singh, drives his own car, does not carry corruption blot. Manpreet’s party’s mny people like Bhagwant Mann, Abhai Sandhu, nephew of Bhagat Singh were in favour of Manpreet contesting from AAP, but Manpreet miscalculated about Congress strength, had he known earlier that AAP will get such spontaneous support of common people in Punjab, he would have opted for AAP platform, which would made him win the seat surely and made him more relevant in Punjab politics, now he is risky situation. Though he made wrong statement on Bhagat Singh once, which I rebutted in The Tribune, yet his victory symbolises the defeat of oppression let lose by Badals/Majithias!

25. Lastly I do wish the victory of only Congress candidate Mani Shankar Aiyer, despite insult heaped by him on me. I have heard and met him casualy in functions and gifted him copy of Understanding Bhagat Singh, which he sold to Kabadi in garbage. He never replied to my mail in this regard. The book was purchased by eminent Urdu writer Balraj Komal. I wish him to be in Lok Sabha, despite this incident, because he is the only Congress man, who takes on the bull by its thorns-meaning attacks BJP most strongly and can take upon Modi too!So I wish his victory.

                                     As I have earlier mentioned that I do wish victory of all those left and liberal candidates, who are strong in their constituencies-from CPI-ML, SUCI, Forward Bloc, RSP etc.

    Under present circumstances defeat of Modi and Moditva should be the prime task of all leftists and liberals, one could tolerate ‘corrupt’ for a while, but one must not tolerate ‘Communal fascism’ even for a minute, as it can repeat such tragedies, as had happened earlier in Germany by Hitler, Italy by Mussolini, Indonesia by Suharto, Chile by Pinchot. Modi can take India to that detestable list and he must not be given any chance for that. Only 16th May will tell what turn India will take-towards Barbarism of Moditva or somewhat space for liberal/left parties! Socialism is far away, India needs time for liberalism to organise struggles for socialism!

In Punjab and at some other places, polling for electing 16th Lok Sabha was held on 30th April. In March or April beginning, it was clear that D. Dharamvir Gandhi is going to be Aam Aadmi Party candidate from Patiala seat. I have been keeping an attitude of critical sympathy for AAP. What they did in Delhi that invited mixed emotions. Some of their activities were appreciable, but some actions, particularly of people like Somnath Bharti was quite obnoxious. Many of my friends had become part of AAP in beginning, but later felt disillusioned like Madhu Bhaduri. But looking at the rise of Narender Modi, openly fascist looking Prime Ministerial candidate, and the miserable condition of Congress party, plus pitiable condition of so called third front parties and left front, made me think seriously. In non-parliamentary arena, the questionable conduct of Maoist parties was also not reassuring as alternative form of resistance to fascist threat looming large over the country. In this situation, despite many opportunist activities by AAP leader like resorting to religious symbolism by Arvind Kejriwal, despite being remained atheist some time, sidelining Prashant Bhushan like radicals and promoting Kumar Vishwas and Somnath Bharti like questionable persons, I felt that political space being vacated by left and democratic movement is either going to be appropriated by BJP like fascist party or may be by eclectic Aam Aadmi Party, which became an open platform for all streams of political thought, as at one time during freedom struggle, Congress party was. Thus not only extreme leftists joined the platform, extreme rightists too found a place in this platform. Of course the biggest chunk came form centrists like-Lohiates of Yogender Yadav, Anand Kumar variety, Gandhians like Rajmohan Gandhi and few more, social activists like Medha Patkar, Balli Singh Cheema. Many from established Communist parties activists like Kamal Mitra Chenoy from JNU also joined. Its policies also did not reflect any radical shift like that of Chavez in Venezuela, which I wished to happen. Arvind Kejriwal has strong nerve and confidence to face the established ruling cliques and his agitation with Anna Hazare gave him empty political space to occupy and in hurried manner he declared formation of AAP and within few months, he created history by capturing Delhi state in his very first public test. His 49 days experiment as Chief Minister also helped him, though his impulsive resignation damaged AAP also, which gave it jolt in 10th April polls, when AAP probably suffered losses in Delhi and Haryana, where it was hoping to gain most. But AAP’s aim was clear and well thought out. Its intellectual leadership of Yogender Yadav-Prashant Bhushan etc. could foresee the downfall of Congress party and incompatibility of left and so called third front parties, all getting discredited in last two decades. It foresaw for itself the space being vacated by Congress party and prepare for long term politics. It was not aiming many seats in 2014 elections; it wished to spread all over India and it put up candidates in 437 seats, second only to Congress party, who put up 457 candidates or so. BJP may have put up 400+- candidates. It was a calculated risk. While in 50 seats or so, it could get many socially known candidates like-Medha Patkar, Dayamani Birla, Anand Kumar, artists like Bhagwant Mann, Balli Singh Cheema etc. in other areas, it picked up local known and respected candidates like Dr. Daljit Singh, Dr. Gandhi, Rajmohan Gandhi etc. AAP’s organisational structure is yet to be properly established, but spontaneous response of the newly emerged large sized middle class was such that at various places, the elementary structure got set up by enthusiastic supporters. 49 days Delhi government experiment gave it further boost, despite negative publicity after hasty resignation of Arvind Kejriwal.
Why AAP got such big response? The reason is simple, in last two decades in neo-liberal economic policies, the political class became not only too corrupt, it became very arrogant as well. Singur movement and Mamta Bannerjee’s meteoric rise discredited left’s public image of simplicity and people friendly conduct. AAP made appeal to that injured mind of common people, which expected from political class to be at least courteous and respectful to it, as the political class was till Indira Gandhi’s emergency. MLA’s and MP’s could be seen travelling on buses, trains, mixing with people, ministers could be seen walking on Shimla Mall like places. All this changed in post 1977 situation, even Janta party government could not win over people’s trust, so India Gandhi was back with a bang in 1980 and with the advent of neo-liberal regime, the overall conduct of our Parliamentarians became power and money hungry and it distanced itself from people. It was only left parties, which could sustain pro-people image during 1977-2007 period, but with CPM led left front government in West Bengal going for neo-liberal policies, acquiring forcibly lands from poor peasants for super rich corporate made them also culprit in the eyes of people and they were thrown out from power by Mamta Bannerjee’s demagogic whirlwind. Maoists also jumped on her bandwagon, only to regret later with brutal killing of Kishan ji like its prominent leaders, who gave open call to support Mamta.
In post 2012 conditions a political cauldron started boiling, in which lot many actors jumped-Anna Hazare, Baba Ramdev, Arvind Kejriwal, Kiran Bedi, Agnivesh and many more. Congress was being cornered from all sides; BJP was playing smart games, putting its cadres in Anna like movements, where leftist youths were also there. Here Arvind Kejriwal made the smart move of forming a political party, almost unexpectedly and nobody was prepared to accept its possible outcome, taking and deriding it as NGO party, not emerging out of grounded political struggles. AAP proved political pundits wrong by attracting largest number of youths to its fold and it fastly turned out to be an alternative political platform-a centrist political platform. On the other hand BJP was spreading its fangs by bringing Narender Modi to centre focus, finding its time to capture power. Narender Modi’s past conduct in 2002 Gujarat communal violence against Muslims and his aggressive posturing made all the leftists and some democratic minded individuals to come out of its slumber and the social media-like twitter and face book became super active to counter this trend. On ground level, not finding an credible left platform, even CPI-ML could not become an alternative left platform, the left intelligentsia and middle class youth, minorities and other oppressed sections turned to Aam Aadmi Party and that was my dilemma too.
At one time, I was also feeling to contest on AAP ticket, if it has offered or invited me to contest from Bathinda, my home district in Punjab, against Punjab CM’s daughter in law; where in seventies, I had worked in my youth as left trade union and cultural activist, but at the same time, was feeling that my temperament is not fit for it. Neither AAP tried to tag me nor I took any initiative to join their bandwagon, though kept on greeting and sending good wishes to my acquaintances like Medha Patkar, Anand Kumar, Dharamvir Gandhi etc. But when Dr. Gandhi declared his candidature and our common friend Dr. Balbir Singh invited me for expressing solidarity with him, I could not become too stiff like our traditional party cadres and joined and expressed my solidarity with Dr. Gandhi, making my humble contribution with gifting some of books on revolutionaries and a token fund and offering views on certain organisation issues of campaign. Of course voted for Dr. Gandhi on 30th April at Patiala, though it was just third time or so in life that I have voted! First time I voted in 1967 elections for Master Babu Singh of CPI for Punjab Assembly.
Later when Dr. Daljit Singh, a renowned eye surgeon and Dr. Gandhi’s teacher in Medical College Amritsar, from where he did his MBBS in seventies and with whom I had very long association and to whom I call ‘custodian of my eyes’, as he has been taking care of these since 1990 or so, I could not remain silent spectator and did express my solidarity with Dr. Daljit Singh, though neither I could go to Amritsar, nor contribute to his campaign in any manner. Medha Patkar was already announced a candidate earlier, with whom I took part in some Delhi agitations, stood by her in her 21 days fast at Delhi during 2006-7, felt always regard for her. Soni Sori, I did not know personally, but she suffered immensely at the hands of police, so my solidarity was with her without question.
On the other hand from traditional left parties, Mohd. Salim CPM MP in 2004-09, had developed good rapport with me during 2007 release of my book on Bhagat Singh, during Bhagat Singh centenary and we remained in constant touch occasionally, with Ashok Singh, a lecturer in Hindi at Kolkata college and dedicated CPM worker being a common friend, met during a seminar in Kolkata in February 2014 and his being a candidate in these elections, made me express my solidarity with him as well. Same way Subhashini Ali, daughter of legendary INA heroine, is also contesting from West Bengal, for whom I have all regard
Looking at the socio-political-economic conditions, which otherwise indicate towards the futility of Parliamentary drama of elections, completely controlled by corporate world, corrupted and made more oppressive than even British times, why 2014 elections became important? Firstly rise of BJP as potential fascist party, looking at economic conditions, Congress was already sold out, the decline of the left movement and limitation of Maoist alternative, all made me think that perhaps to stop the “Rath of Fascism” was an urgent task and to work for creating such balance of political forces, in which fascist tendencies get weakened and some space sustains for the continuation and growth of democratic movements in general, so that working class and peasantry is not out rightly crushed. In that situation AAP seems to be providing that trend, by strengthening which, the balance of forces, may go against fascist BJP and its opportunist allies and thus fast growth of fascism could be somewhat stunted. It cannot be thoroughly defeated in these elections, but it can be checked to some extent. So despite all the reservations for AAP’s questionable personalities and opportunist conduct, I thought of supporting some of its candidates, also some other candidates, whose credentials are above board.
Even if some of them are elected, I don’t expect much from them, but for the revival of tradition of pre-1970 parliamentarians like-A K Gopalan, Jyotrimoy Basu, Bhupesh Gupt, Inderjit Gupt, AK Roy (Radical) Madhu Dandvate, Madhu Limaye, Pramila Dandvate and many more, who could live a simple life and raise people’s issues in Parliament with much force.
Here is my wish list-I wish these candidates to win and reach Lok Sabha: though in many cases, it is going to be just wishful thinking, yet in some cases it may prove true.I must add here that this list contains my personal association or some information about them from close sources/media etc., but I wish as many candidates of CPI-ML, SUCI, Forward Bloc, RSP, CPI/CPM or any other left orientation candidates to win, wherever they are strong enough!

  1. Dr. Dharamvir Gandhi-AAP-Patiala(Punjab)
  2. Dr. Daljit Singh AAP-Amritsar
  3. Prof. Sadhu Singh AAP-Faridkaot
  4. Bhagwant Mann AAP-Sangrur
  5. Soni Sori AAP-Bastar
  6. Rajmohan Gandhi AAP-North Delhi
  7. Prof. Anand Kumar(JNU) AAP-North East Delhi
  8. Medha Patkar AAP-Mumbai North East
  9. Alok Aggarwal AAP-Khandwa
  10. Dayamani Birla AAP-Khunti
  11. Yognder Yadav AAP-Gurgaon
  12. Balli Singh Cheema AAP-Nainital
  13. S P Udai Kumar AAP-Kanyakumari
  14. Arvind Kejriwal AAP-Varanasi
  15. S R Drapuri Lok Rajniti(Lucknow)
  16. Mohd Salim CPM-Raigunj
  17. Subhashini Ali CPM-Barackpur

18.Amarnath Yadav-CPIML-Siwan
18. P K Biju CPM-Kerala
19. Amra Ram CPM-Sikar
20. Jagat Ram CPM-Shimla
21. Com Rajender Prasad Singh CPI-Begusarai
22. Atul Anjan CPI-Ghosi
23. Com Prakash Reddy CPI-Mumbai South
24. Manpreet Badal PPP/Congress-Bathinda
25. Mani Shankar Aiyar Congress-Tamilnadu
Profiles jotted down in the beginning of the post.

Man-Woman relations in internet age- social media offensive

Standard

   

 

 

                                                                          Man-Woman relations in Internet age: Social Media Offensive

 

Since 30th April 2014, there is a flood of activities on social media-intimate intimidating photographs of Amrita Rai-Digvijay Singh Congress leader have gone virile on twitter, face book, blogs and other social sites. I saw three tweets and one face book post. Amrita Rai, Rajya Sabha anchor, earlier NDTV reporter posting tweets that her mail account has been hacked and that she has filed divorce suit with her husband and plan to marry Digvijay Singh. Digvijay also tweeted that he plans to formalize relations with Amrita ji after her divorce and he is making it open and not hiding like Narender Modi. By the evening, Anand Pradhan, husband of Amrita posted a small explanatory note on face book in Hindi about their living separately since long and having filed suit for divorce by mutual consent. I tweeted to both Amrita and Digvijay and also wrote on Anand’s post. I personally know Anand Pradhan and Amrita Rai, but not Digvijay Singh. Amrita Rai had interviewed me once in my office in JNU, as NDTV reporter, when I was JNU Teachers Association (JNUTA) President in 2007. She is courteous person. Anand Pradhan is a friend and ideologically we are close. In 2013, after leaving JNU, I stayed in IIMC guest house for one night, getting room booked through Anand Pradhan. I had a desire to go to their house too and say hello to Amrita as well, but as Anand did not invite, so did not express my wish. Now it seems they were not staying together, about which I had no idea. Incidentally I support what Anand Pradhan said in his face book post that man-woman relations are extremely complex and one should not try to peep into personal relations of two individuals till the time they themselves wish to make it open and to the extent they think it proper. Incidentally there are no angles in private life and most of the couples do fight, quarrel in private domain. But I was surprised to see Anand’s post getting virile, receiving 2500+ likes and nearly one thousand comments and continuing, hardly anyone gets so much attention. But it was not pleasant, it was ugly. Out of 1000, 10-20% may have written rationally and with some degree of concern, 70-80% comments were vile, vicious, abusive and misogynist mostly by Moditvaites towards Anand , Amrita and Digvijay Singh. Releasing personal intimate photographs of two individuals must be a cyber-crime, but it was committed by none else than Nitin Gadkari, BJP big leader, as re[orted is some paper, as a revenge for Digvijay’s questioning of Modi hiding his marriage. In the process, Anand and Amrita became target of their vileness. Comments on Anand Pradhan’s face book also indicates towards it to be BJP-Moditvaites’s concerted campaign to indulge in such scandalous, misogynist attacks against women and leftists in general and to seek revenge from their political rival Digvijay Singh. Even on Anand’s post, lot many Moditavites posted Amrita-Digvijay intimate photos to provoke or insult Anand, many went on the extent of posting male nudes with recommendations for potency medicines, thus touching lowest levels of dirty minds. This whole ugly episode raises many questions:

 

Elections for 16th Lok Sabha and Narender Modi’s indecent hurry to become Prime Minister of India is the immediate reason for this ugly dehumanized campaign by Modi followers, which has been conducted with typical RSS style of personal mudslinging with targeting women and leftists. One can remember that even during emergency RSS used to throw lot of mud at Indira Gandhi, attacking her relations with Dhirender Brahmchari or saying things like-‘Sanjay Gandhi in inebriated condition slaps her’ etc. Same Sanjay Gandhi later became the darling of Sangh parivar by getting his widow and son to Sangh umbrella.   Yet there are other social factors also involved in such tendencies to become so frequent in society:

(A)   Twenty first century has brought the internet to social life, whose potential is revealing day by day. Despite its positive aspects, it has immense capacity of misuse as well. Thus Porn sites are one of its biggest product, which has shaken the life everywhere, but more in sexually oppressive societies. Maximum porn sites are watched in Arab and such geographical areas, which are known for sexual exclusiveness, male chauvinism and where women are treated as dungeon, as man’s slave, sought to be bound to certain areas like home only and forced to follow regressive dress code. Most of the religious fundamentalist groups, which oppress women more, are taking recourse to use the scandalous devastating aspects of internet in these matters. Making public personal intimate pictures of some public personalities is their way of revenge and imposing their obscurantist values on society.

 

(B)   Digital explosion in the form of mobile and other easy kind of cameras available all the time at hand, selfies kind of trends etc. have made people lose their balance and they are not able to keep certain level of self-discipline over their lives. Almost imperialist kind of control of social sites like Google or others, where the privacy of your data is at best an illusion, people are always at risk of their private life becoming public at any point of time and causing great destabilization. So many cases of crimes, murders, suicides world over due to such happenings on face book, twitter, or just photos in mobile cameras have created altogether new kind of value less violent society, where blackmailing through new gadgets has been introduced.

 

(C)   Not that social site have just negative devastating features only, there are positive features as well. In socially oppressive societies like India, it has helped remove the facade of hypocrisy prevalent in social life in the name of moral values, religion etc. Thus when people are joining these sites, they are freely expressing their preferences like-women recording for ‘Looking for Men’ and men recording ‘looking for women’ or sometime hiding their identities and doing all those things, which they still not dare to do in their real identity, which provides psychological relief to their suppressed emotions. That so many conservative men and women on these sites have made male or female friends, which they would have never even imagined in their life, if there has been no technological revolution of this kind. It has given women some more freedom in India like feudal mindset societies.

 

(D)   That it has also smashed some myths like purity of marriage, only one man-one woman loyalty, nothing can affect the ‘rock like marriage system and its eternal value’ etc. One can see from face book data, even in Indian context how many men and women have made both sexes as their friends and have freely conversed with each other without bothering about the alien or just virtual/screen and not real status of the ‘other’. This is democratizing aspect of this social media.

 

(E)    That it has brought to the center focus that man –woman relations are not as simple as some religious scriptures want to make us believe. They prove the scientific researches of Freud like psychologists of these relations’ immense complexity, which sometimes is brought out in literature or creative forms of art, which is socially accepted as relief from real social or personal problems. That these researches can definitely help understand these complexities better and deal with them too, but which demands rational and scientific attitude towards life and not just blind faith attitude of some ‘universal human values’ like clichés.

 

(F)    Age is considered as a moral factor in most of such scandals, as is being scandalized by 67 years Digvijay Singh and 43 years old Amrita Rao’s ‘immoral’ relations on age gap ground! And we easily overlook that whether it was Pablo Picasso, Pablo Neruda or Charlie Chaplin-just three iconic illustrations, who according to their own memoirs had relations with women of 20 to 30 years at the age of 80 years or more. From rightist side recent illustration of Italian ex-Prime Minister Berlusconi, who at nearly 80 was found to be buying sex of 15 year old girls. It could be other way round as well, as writer Taslima Nasreen tweeted-it is fine to have 67 yrs. male and 43 yrs. female to have relations, but when 67 yrs female will have relations with 43 yrs male and someone referred to Sophia Loren! That since they are big names, we tend to accept these, even romanticize it, but in real life situation, we get shocked. The two Hindi films in recent years have brought the reality of these facts to center focus. In fact Pablo Neruda, as Ambassador in Sri Lanka at one time had narrated his sexual encounter even with his maid of much younger age, would have made him dubbed as ‘rapist’ and demanded his arrest by post Delhi rape case situation, as the atmosphere has been created. It is rather risky to say, with fear even from leftists friends that the recent campaigns for ‘stringent and strict laws’ against sexual offenders have in fact strengthened the fascist laws more, rather than ensuring women’s security or enhancing their rightful participation in social life. Perhaps they have been made to realize to confine their movements to ‘safe time’ ‘safe areas’ and the ‘need to have a male companion’ for safety at odd hours! In the hands of fascist Modi coming into power, one can imagine how these laws will be misused against maximum number of leftists/Dalits and minorities. The harsh fact is that socio-cultural education and social reformist movement for man-woman equality and changing the mindset through prolonged cultural reorientation is a crying necessity, particularly when such sexual offenders are coming from ‘lumpen proletariat’. The rich classes have all the glamour at their command, including multiple sexual encounters, including one night stands for both males and females and who have never to face strict and stringent laws against women harassment. Incidents of wife-swaps etc. among higher officials of military/bureaucracy etc. can indicate to the ‘sexual’ divide at class level. The recent complaint of one victim wife of an army officer, who resisted this activity and complained to defense minister Antony, shows the contrast of two classes! Those who are denied sex life in normal manner-‘the scum of the earth’, indulge in criminal acts, with porn sites, releasing their inhibitions, for committing these crimes. Hang hundreds of them, still these crimes will not stop. These crimes are result of socio-political-economic system, where healthy life conditions, including healthy male-female relations, are denied to large number of people, resulting in social crimes and unless social conditions do not change for the better, no amount of stringent laws will be able to control such crimes.

 

(G)  One has to accept the fact that there are different cultural modes prevalent world over and in multi-cultural country like India itself has diverse practices of man-woman relations in different sections of Indian people. Among Muslims, cousin marriages are almost rule, whereas in same geographical areas, Hindu families consider cousin relations to be brother-sister relations. I remember one incident of a respectable Doctor family of Punjab, getting killed a doctor couple in eighties, who were cousins at family level and after marriage, had gone far away to Sikkim to escape the wrath of relatives. Among Hindus themselves maternal uncle-niece marriage is almost rule in some parts of South India, whereas in North India, these relations are forbidden as of father-daughter like. Then with porn sites affecting lives of people, the suppression of desires is getting burst up and society has to come to terms with different kind of sexual preferences of people and not just male-female straight relationship. Thus lesbianism, homosexuality, multi sexual encounters are all becoming part of society, even in conservative societies, at least in virtual world, which is affecting real world as well.

 

(H)   In the changing mores, marriage as institution getting badly affected, large numbers of people in many countries prefer not to marry. In USA, New Zealand, Europe, Latin America, marriage institution is losing the moral status as it enjoyed earlier, Indian urban life is also having its impact felt. In such circumstances, society has to learn to be more tolerant of different kinds of man woman relationship. Sex relations must be taken out of ‘moral codification’ of certain kind and accepted as they are. Only moral code in such relations is mutuality and absence of violence and exploitation. One may dislike much such kind of relationships, but despite one dislikes, the other people’s choice has to be recognized as his or her ‘democratic’ right. Justice Leila Seth is good example of showing such tolerance.

 

(I)     If marriage as an institution does not remain ‘sacrosanct’ and is accepted in its early true substance of a ‘social contract’ or even in some radical thinking ‘license for establishing sexual relationship’ (rather property relationship), then any such relationship will not attract attention or get scandalized as its gets today, considering ‘marriage’ to be something like religious rigorous code, which cannot be violated in any condition. Marriage like any other social institution has come up as a social necessity of its time and may stay or go as the time changes, at least it cannot sustain in its rigour. This is also a myth that west is affecting India like societies for sexual deviations. Longevity of marriage in west and east-both, depends upon mutual love, understanding, care& concern of each other. There are couples in Europe and America, who never split in life, whereas in India like societies, the reality of marriage as institution is-as the Punjabi phrase goes-Jodian jagg thodiyan, narad Bathere’-‘true couples are few, tied with ropes are maximum.’ Financial constraints or the dependence of women on men is big reason for keeping marriage going in India like countries, even if the couple has no binding factor of love or mutual respect for each other. If in initial phase of marriage love or sexual urge is more important, in the later stage, understanding is much more important. More marriages break because of incompatibility of ideas, life style and understanding, than just of sexual incompatibility, particularly when both man and woman are working and are conscious of their own personality traits and needs. In a society, where there is financial and social security for women, there even difference in day to day habits of people can cause breakdown of marriage. It is not a joke that many marriages break because of snoring habits of one of the couple! It is dependency of women on men in large cases in India, that invariably whenever a public personality or ordinary man has been accused of sexual offences, his wife has stood by him almost in 99% cases, even if she might have remained victim of domestic violence herself in her married life.

 

(J)     Another fact of the matter is men and women, now even same sex people; get attracted to each other at various levels. When couples are living separately for years or months together and when people work or study at different places, there is likelihood of friendship getting developed, which may or may not develop into physical intimacies. But in case such intimacies do develop but with mutual attraction and consent, these must not be treated as ‘guilt’, crime or even looked down upon, whether the people involved in such relations are ‘married’ or ‘unmarried’. Remember recent film-Lunchbox for such attractions.

 

(K)   Once the hypocrisy goes out of man-woman relationships, then one can look at these relationships in a rational manner and accept that if people can marry, they can split too and no moral high or low ground is involved for ‘married’ ,‘divorced’  , ‘unmarried single’ ‘live in relation’  kinds of people. Yes children born out of any such kind of relationship are the joint responsibility of two people and in case of split; their interests have to be taken care of in best possible manner.

 

(L)    Incidentally those Sanghi/Moditva mentality people, who are enjoying throwing mud at Amrita Rai and Digvijay Singh, and by proxy at Anand Pradhan too, should also remember that their icon Atal Behari Vajpayee lived with his lady love, who was somebody else’s ‘wife’, openly in his Prime Ministerial Bungalow, and her son in law, an unconstitunal authority, was referred to as Vajpayee’s son in law only!

 

The real issue remains the cybercrime and encroachment of privacy of citizens, some website has posted three years mobile sms exchange between Amrita Rai and Digvijay Singh. Which mobile company has allowed leakage of this private data? The private photographs of Digvijay and Amrita, released through illegal hacking of private mails of one of these persons is also a big crime. Anand Pradhan and Amrita are free to live together or split, it is their personal life, so is with any other two or more people, till the time they are not violating any law or hurting any other person by their act. But releasing personal pictures and messages is definitely a crime that must be condemned and checked through legal procedures. If some stringency is required in law, it is here in such cases, where people’s lives can be blackmailed.

In this face booked world, where more than one billion, almost 1/6th of people of the world have come on single connecting platform, one cannot live in archaic times. Man woman relations are most free in Latin America, where being step sons/daughters, step sisters/brothers, step father/mother has no relevance at all and children from same mother, even from many men are treated at equal level without any social stigma. Women there too, suffer a bit more, as men generally avoid care of children and it is woman who takes care of children, even from many men; but she is not looked down upon and enjoys full respect and dignity in society. Indian society also has to come to terms with different kind of man-woman relations without ascribing so called moral codes to the relations. Only moral code is to be-domestic violence, including sexual violence must be fought with, by law and by education, cultural reorientation.

This is a tall task, not going to be achieved in short time. With education and social reform, it will take less toll of life; otherwise changing world scenario will force the society to come to terms with it, but with paying more price in terms of human life, agony and social energy!

Chaman Lal

Pleasures of Reading Qurrat-ul-Ain-Haider

Standard

The things which I never did in life, am doing in Trinidad.Never went to Gym before, here in the University Gym, go three times a week.My most cheerful time of the day is small walk in my complex in fresh breeze, listening to ghazals sung by Mehdi Hasan, Begum Akhtar, Malika Pukhraj,Iqbal Bano,Jagjit Singh, Munni Begum, Farida Khanum, Ghulam Ali and many more.Then reading few pages of Qurrat-ul-Ain-Hyder’s huge novel ‘Kare Jahan Daraz Hai’ in Urdu, while sipping my large cup of tea!

Kare Jahan Daraz Hai, though story of Muslim gentry or feudal classes, is written in such a fascinating manner and history is recreated in a way as if events are passing before your eyes.Creation of pro peasant land law by a Muradabadi Muslim officer posted in Gurdaspur,journeys of Turkey, Egypt and other countries,Hindi Urdu controversy, reproduction of full speech of President of the session in 1951, at Hindustani Academy Lucknow, after partition.

It is one of the greatest fiction of the world literature, I have still not crossed even half of it in 2-3 months.It is long time after that I am enjoying reading historic fiction as a reader and can’t tell you the kind of aesthetic pleasure I draw of it.The recreation of 1857 and its impact on Indian society, various social reformist movements, like women education among Muslim community, creation and development of Aligarh Muslim University, which became the base of enlightenment among rich Muslim community and gave chances to poorer section for education as well.The first generation Pakistani elite came mostly from Aligarh Muslim University and for this very reason Pakistan is in such fraternal bond with India that any departure from liberal education of AMU, just leads to the dark age of Mullagardi and jehadi terrorism.

Salute to the great creative genius called Qurrat-ul-ain haider! Other than Urdu language readers/writers know her because of ‘Aag Ka darya’, translated in English by herself as ‘River of Fire’, which I also like, but perhaps I like ‘Kare Jahan ..even more! As in case of Bhisham Sahni, I like his ‘Mayya Das ki Madi’, again a recreation of socio-cultural history of Khalsa period and later in Punjab, beginning of women education among Hindus, curiosity of people to have a look for the first time of a train!

Satya sai Baba-Reality of @Godman

Standard

Some years ago, ‘India Today’ a prestigious English weekly, still popular, had brought out a special number on Sai Baba, which depicted many murders and six-seven rapes in his Ashram, directly relating him to these criminal activities.No case was ever registered, no enquiries were made, as, the whole political establishment from Congress to BJP falls at the feet of so called ‘Godman’, he was never able to accept challenge from rationalist Society and Dr. Abrahma Kavoor, internationally renowned Sri Lankan rationalist to show the ash produced from his hands to befool his followers.His properties now range billions world over and all the ‘Godmen’ like Bapu Asaram , himself accused of rapes and other crimes, are shouting at rooftop to stop any Government to take over these public properties for social use.There is world of difference between the surface and deeper reality ,what goes in the name of religion!

More details of Godman on link below-

http://exposedsaibaba.blogspot.com/

Trinidad Carnival-2011

Standard

It was a Carnival season in Trinidad, considered to be the biggest national festival.This year it was on 7th & 8th March, coinciding and overshadowing International Women’s day. Almost for two weeks people are just submerged in various kind of activities. It starts much early in The University of the West Indies, which has very large student population on its St. Augustine campus in Trinidad. It has two other campuses-one in Mona in Jamaica and another in Barbados, though it caters nearly 16 countries of the Caribbean region called West Indies in general.Students activities relating to carnival started almost around 15th February.In carnival days, hotels, clubs, bars etc.. hold competitions like Soca, Chutney, Calypso singing.Pan and Mas activity is held,Fêtes are organised.All parts of the country hold their own competitions and prizes are given to the extent of two million Trinidad dollars per event to the winner or called king-Soca king, Calypso king, and queens as well, meaning nearly nearly one crore thirty lakh rupees.While Soca is purely local form of singing in English, which can’t be understood easily as it is highly creolised English.Chutney is like mixing of Hindi songs with local English expressions of the same kind.Calypso is good form of social criticism in the form of singing.Calypso songs are somewhat understood also better in terms of pronunciation.In one song this time the play cards with slogans like-‘defend the jobs’ etc.. were shown.One can say these are mostly progressive songs against social oppression.

Carnival originated from Roman Catholic religious traditions like not having meat etc.. for forty days, something common to Rozas of Muslims, but by now it has taken its popular form of peoples’ massive celebrations on roads and on stages.Carnival is celebrated almost in all parts of the world,but the best one is considered that of Rio De Janeiro of Brazil.Trinidad Carnival is also one of the best among the world.In India Carnival is celebrated in Goa and some parts of Odisa and Gujarat.In Trinidad, one form of Carnival is quite like Holi-J’ouvert-when people colour,paint and mud from early morning till 11.a.m and drink lots of beer and hard drinks. Major activities of Carnival are Soca, Chutney, Calypso singing competitions, mas- or costumes band, pan band.Steel Pan bands are Trinidad specialty. There is a competition of pan bands called national panorama, competition of costumes bands is held as Dimache Grass on Sunday night, along with calypso singing competition. On Monday early morning J’ouvert starts and people come out on the roads in all parts of the country–men, women, children, old alike.Best thing of carnival celebration is that at crosses age bar.It is not like India, where people would say–‘Oh no it is not for me, I have crossed the age of such festivities. here in Trinidad, you would find small toddlers on parents shoulders and men-women,even if they are ninety or so, walking and dancing on the roads.In my pictures, you can see even fully pregnant women walking/dancing in the procession.

I did not check the details of Carnival festivities in time this year, though I was to be here only for a year.I was busy writing some important articles for 23rd March-Bhagat Singh martyrdom day. Only after completing these, I checked for carnival details, it was late, but not so much.But I did not realise the importance of the events. Only when i walked through some festivities, I realised the true significance of these events.First activity I saw was launching of festivities in the University itself by Student Guild.it was mini costume bands display for few hours on stage and in walk.Initially it was little perplexing for me to see winning-pronounced win-eing, in which woman rub her buttocks with groins of other women in dancing postures.This was considered indecent by British colonial regime and they had banned it, but that led to making this item as the form of rebellion against colonial repression. Over the period, winning has got little perverted also, as now men and women both do winning with each other or men with men also and side winning also in clumsy manner, sometimes falling on the ground in process.. Further they took it to doing it in frontal manner, making it look like sexual gesture of union.Also they do it buttock to buttock now. But this is done in presence of thousands of people and does not cause any ripple here.And this is done in public just in the days of Carnival, as certain liberties are taken by men and women during Holi in India.

The 29% Hindu population’s religious leaders as some other religious leaders condemn Carnival, terming it as indecent, like Bajrang Dal in India attacking Valentine day festivities by young boys and girls in India, but they dare not come on roads to oppose the festivities, as they would be thrashed as they thrash young couples/friends in India on Valentine day. In fact Prime Minister of the country of Indian descent Kamla Prasad Bissessar spent almost non stop time in various Carnival festivities in many parts of the country, staying up to early morning till the end of programme for many days continuously. And one of the Calypso song this year took pun at her drinking habits and suggested necessary counselling for that.But many Hindu girls/boys, men/women do take part in Carnival festivities without any inhibition. I saw many Muslim girls with Hizab watching these festivities keenly in UWI.Otherwise Muslim participation, particularly of more religious kind may be less in these festivities.One good thing about Trinidad is its mixed race in substantial numbers.There are lots of Indo-African and other inter-ethnic marriages, like with Spanish, Europeans,Amer Indians-the original inhabitants of the island, now little in numbers, have taken place in the country and many homes practise multi religions in one single family-Hindu, Muslim and Christianity faiths could be found in single household here, this is unlike and better than Mauritius, where mixed race has not come in substantial numbers.Hindu-Muslim marriages are most common in Trinidad. My first landlord Usman Ali here had Hindu wife, he is widower, yet on Diwali, he lighted the whole house.Carnival in this context of multi-culturalism presents the beautiful integrated national festival of Trinidad &Tobago, where one can see, blacks, whites, mixed, Indians etc. all enjoying together.Another important aspect of Carnival is, that even with skimpy dresses and almost 4/5 parts of bodies naked walking on roads for hour in such rubbing each other crowd, one does not find a single instance of any unwanted or unsolicited touch by any man of woman’s body. If you compare it with the condition of fully dressed women travelling in Indian cities buses, one can imagine what is the meaning of decency? Whether crushing the hapless women in crowded bus is more indecent or people dancing/singing on roads without harassing each other is more indecent?Another reason for scanty dressing is, apart from purpose of Costumes or mas, generally Carnival is held in the hot months ,particularly in South American/Caribbean countries and one can not wear full clothes walking in hot sun for hours together.In fact at many spots on the way there is spray of water on walking carnivals, so that people could cool their sweating bodies.

Attended an expensive fete with some UW colleagues on 5th March, the day when it was Panorama-the competition of steel pan bands in Port of Spain, where I could not go, neither on 6th evening ‘Dimache Grass’ the costume and calypso competition-the two major events which I sadly missed, though saw Dimache Grass on television and even photographed from the screen. Some of my photographs in carnival album posted on face book are in fact from TV screen on 6th March.On 4th March night saw ‘Chutney’ in Tuna Puna moonlight club, actually a bar.Every where in Trinidad, for competitions there is panel of judges-three at least and with minimum one woman out of it.Tuna Puna competition was disappointing,but earlier in UWI, saw calypso competition on 25th February or so, this was quite good.

Steel pan band is perhaps Trinidad specialty in carnivals of the world. This is group of people-men-women mixed who play pans of steel and create beautiful music out of it. These are musical instruments of steel, as we have sitar, tabla or dholak etc. These are more common to western style music.

The major functions I saw on 7th March Monday-‘J’ouvert’ at Tuna Puna roads, but here also I made error, I should have been there before 8.a.m.People come on roads by 5.a.m and then paint ,colour,mud each other like Indian ‘Holi’ festival.Then for five-six hours they dance, sing,drink tons of beer and some hard drink too-men and women both without distinction.They do winning on the roads.

Walked through Port of Spain on 7th afternoon and saw the steel bands/costumes/mas festivities in large numbers.Watched in savannah grounds platform the performances of bands.This was most enjoyable time.So on 8th March-the day of Carnival, walked through Port of Spain roads from 10 a.m to 8 p.m.,but the festivities went up to past midnight.Venezuelan embassy distributed caps to bands, Ambassador Maria Eugenia Marcano Casado herself was greeting bands from the gate of embassy. May be more than half a million or half of the population of Trinidad had walked through Port of Spain roads on that day and other half may have walked through other parts of the country.

It was an aesthetic experience of different kind undoubtedly and will remain a life time memory. My two carnival albums on face book tells it without words, also many videos which I have posted and trying to post more.

To know more on Carnivals world over, click this link:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carnival

Unto This Last—-John Ruskin

Standard

The rich man does not keep back meat from the poor

by retaining his riches; but by basely using them. Riches are a

form of strength; and a strong man does not injure others by

keeping his strength, but by using it injuriously. The socialist,

seeing a strong man oppress a weak one, cries out. — “Break the

strong man’s arms.” but I say, “Teach him to use them to better

purpose.”
Ruskin in conclusion of ‘Unto This last’ and that is the difference between Gandhism and Socialism. Gandhian philosophy is based on Ruskin’s book.Question to Gandhians and Ruskinians is that “has ever any ‘Rich Man’ learnt to use the ‘meat’ in a better way, unless and until his ‘arms are broken’?”

Read Ruskin’s book on computer page , first book to scan on computer.I still like to read book in its printed paper form, yet this book I could not get in decades, so got it from net.Few more books, I have to read on computer,because of their unavailability in print.Some one will advise to take print out from computer,but I don’t want to double the effort and waste paper as well for one time reading!

Jose Marti-Great revolutionary and National Hero of Cuba

Standard


Jose Marti, one of the all time great revolutionaries of the world, was born on 28th January, 1853 in Havana. He lived only 42 years and was martyred by Spanish colonial bullet on 19th May 1895.But in short span of 42 years life; Jose Marti created such wonders that one just feels stunned by his talent and activities. Apart from being a revolutionary organiser, he wrote so much in his short life that it took 27 big volumes to publish, as explained by the editor and Marti scholar Juan Marinello. He was a major poet with at least four volumes of poetry to his credit, also wrote an autobiographical novel, plays, essays on literature and politics, newspaper reports, apart from organising Cuban revolutionary party for launching armed struggle to free Cuba from Spanish colonialism.
According to Juan Marinello, Jose Marti happened to be one of the most high ranking, authentic, great and profound historical figures of Latin America.Along with Simon Bolivar( Venezula), San Martin(Argentina),Miguel Hidalgo(Mexico), Moroles, Sucre and Toussain, he is considered as father of independence struggles of their people and untiring warrior against colonial domination. Marti is held in such high esteem by the people of Cuba that he is considered the embodiment of an exemplary son of the country. References to some of these heroes can be found in Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s novel, based on Bolivar’s life-‘The General in his Labryinth’
Marti was son of a modest official of Spanish Govt. in Cuba, his home was typical of a poor child’s dwelling in colonial factory. In one of his poem-‘Yoke and Star’, he depicts his house as ‘When I was born without light….’ Inspired by his teacher and poet Mendive, Marti became non-conformist even before he attained adolescence. He published his play ‘Abdala’, full of patriotic zeal and yearning for liberty.He was condemned to forced labour by Spanish colonialists at the age of 16 years and at breaking down of his health, was exiled to Spain in 1871, at the age of 18 years. In Spain, Marti joined Madrid University for studies and produced polemical speech-‘The Spanish Republic in the face of the Cuban Revolution’, which was published in 1873 at the age of just 20 years.His second literary work ‘Adultera’ was published while he studied law at the University
From Spain , Marti moves to Mexico, where he becomes a dedicated lecturer and journalist,he wrote for stage and became a drama critic. He left Mexico, when oppressive regime of Diaz took over, but the last letter before he took fatal Spanish bullet, was addressed to ‘The friend of Mexico’-Manuel Marcado.
In 1877, Marti visited Cuba and Guatemala. In Guatemala, Marti wrote his autobiographical novel-‘Amistad Funesta'(Unfortunate Friendship), though not considered his best literary writing by critics, but this novel depicts intimate personality of Marti and gives vivid account of Guatemala’s life, he also warns Central American people about dangers being faced by them. In 1878, Marti returned to Cuba, when the ‘Peace of Zanjon’ was signed, but he clearly opined that Cuba can only be liberated through armed struggle. He is again subjected to oppression and is exiled again. He leaves Cuba, passes through Paris on way to Spain and then moves to New York in 1880. Same year he visited Venezuela and stayed there for six months, before leaving for New York, he wrote–‘Venezuela, give me the opportunity to serve you.. I am your child..’
During the last fourteen years of his life, Marti lived in New York, he made the clear resolution to dedicate himself wholeheartedly to the task of freeing Cuba. Gradually he won over the devotion of fellow countrymen and became the unquestionable leader of the emancipatory struggle of the country. Marti founded Cuban Revolutionary party in 1891 after gaining the confidence of Cuban people, which became fundamental instrument for his armed struggle .
In days ahead, Marti took a nerve wrecking pilgrimage , a continuous restless journey through United States and Latin American countries. He mopped up valuable consent and contributions from people of Costa Rica and Dominican republic for the cause of ‘unavoidable war’. He visited Mexico for last time in 1894.Marti landed in Cuba on 11th April 1895 and joined the insurgent troops as one of the many other soldiers. He became an example of self sacrifice and discipline. While mounted on horse or during camp nights, he wrote hurried notes, which are work of great depth and beauty showing the virtues of a great writer.On 19th May, 1895, a Spanish bullet ended his life at a place called Dos Rios, in Oriente de Cuba.
Marti’s Works
In his New York office, Marti left extensive and varied work so wide that it took its editor to compile these in 27 big volumes, an unimaginable task for anyone is short life span of just 42 years, only a genius could do it. Marti’s austere revolutionary duty never stood in the way of his work as writer. His qualities as journalist during New York stay show the qualities of highly sensitive and supreme artistic manifestations. He sent his articles to ‘The Nation’ of Buenos Aires(Argentina), ‘La America’ and ‘El Economist Americano’ of New York, ‘Universal Magazine’ and ‘Partido Liberal’ of Mexico,’Revista Venezuela’ of Carcas and ‘Republic’ of Honduras and so many other journals of the Caribbean and Latin America.
Apart from political and journalistic writings, Marti devoted lot of time to literary and art criticism. His literary writings filled many volumes and his analysis of world literary figures like-Darwin, Carlyle, Wilde, Flaubert, Spencer and Pushkin are considered masterpieces. Marti has great attachment with France and appreciated its enlightened writers like Victor Hugo, Luis Blance, Balzac, Emile Zola, Rousseau, Baudlaire,, Gautier and many more.
Litrary writins of Marti include poetry, plays, essays, fiction and literary criticism.His first poetic play ‘Abdala’ was published, when he was just 16 years old.His second play ‘Adultera’ was written in exile.In Guatemala, Marti wrote an Indian drama called ‘Patriaa Y libertad’.Marti’s anthologies include ‘The Little Ismael’, Simple Verses’ and ‘Free Verses’. There are many references to India in Marti’s literary writings. There are refernces to Gautam Buddha as ‘outstanding liberatorof humanity’. He wrote about India’s cultural influence on the wise men of Egypt, he refers to Tajmahal as ‘pure as milk’. He refers to Ramayna, and describes The Jatakas as loveable philosophy..
In India, Peoples Publishing House , New Delhi published ‘Remembering Marti’, a commemorative volume in 1995, at the occasion of Marti’s hundredth martyrdom anniversary. In this small volume Olga Chamario Trias and Victor Ramirez, Cuban diplomats in Delhi paid glowing tributes to the memory fo Jose Marti by describing him as ‘ The “Author” still at the Front’.First declaration of Havana in 1960, after the revolution led by Fidel Castro and Che Guevara begins with reference to Marti and 1976, when the first constitution of socialist Cuba was passed in National Assembly reads ‘We declare our will that the law of laws of the Republic be guided by the strong desire of Jose Marti.At long last achieved:’I want the fundamental of our republic to be the tribute of Cubans to the full dignity of Man’.Fidel Castro is referred to be having the qualities of Marti in his personality.
‘Our America’ is considered to be the most significant writing of Marti.Marti refers to ‘weapons of mind’ in this essay as conquers of all others and describes ‘Barricades of ideas worse than barricades of stone’! Marti emphasises on self criticism in this seminal essay–‘Nations should live in continual self criticism, because criticism is healthy, but always with one heart and one mind. Go down to the unfortunates and take them in your arms!’ Marti attacks racist and reactionary rightwing fundamentalists by his scathing words–‘The soul emantes, equal and eternal, from bodies distinct in shape and colour. Whosoever foments and propagates antagonism and hate between races, sins against Humanity’. Yes this is the America of Martis, Bolivars, Martins, which counters the America of Bushes and Reagans…The present generation of Latin America is living up to the ideals of its progressive heroes in Cuba, Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador, Brazil and spreading to all other lands of Marti’s ‘Our America’. 21st century belongs to this America and not to Washington ruled America!Amen!

Prof. Chaman Lal
Visiting Professor on Hindi chair
The University of the West Indies, Trinidad Tobago
Prof. And former Chairperson
Centre of Indian Languages, JNU, New Delhi (India)
Prof.chaman@gmail.com, mob. 1868-3692687