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Posts from the ‘Issue 1/ Beyond Mumbai, 2012’ Category

Contents – India at 70: The Many Partitions (Issue 38)

Contents - India at 70: The Many Partitions (Issue 38)

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Contributors

Contributors

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Guest-Editorial – India at 70: The Many Partitions

By Bhaswati Ghosh

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Partition of Lives: Memory, Trauma, and Nostalgia of East Bengali Refugee Women in West Bengal

By Subhasri Ghosh
Whereas in Punjab, the actual occurrence of widespread violence prompted the exodus, in Bengal it was often more of hearsay that prompted people to leave. However, it will be a denial of truth to dismiss the existence of explicit violence in Bengal. The most pronounced evidence of post-Partition violence of an explicit nature occurred three years after Partition in 1950, when riots scarred large parts of East Bengal, primarily Barisal, with the echo being felt in the industrial suburbs of Calcutta.

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The forgotten partitions of northeast India and its lingering legacies

By Binayak Dutta and Suranjana Choudhury
Until recently, in terms of narratives of partition and post-partition displacement, northeast India still remained a much unexplored tract. Though some sporadic scholarship exists on Sylhet partition, they are mostly devoid of popular ongoing experiences that Partition really brings. Partition as divorced from transfer of power was a story of anxiety and pain, which most studies do not engage with. Thus this region continues to languish as an unacknowledged site of Partition experience.

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Book Review: Malsawmi Jacob’s ‘Zorami: A Redemption Song’

By Bhumika R
Zorami, a Mizo novel in English by Malsawmi Jacob, narrates the traumatic period of the 1960s in Mizoram, which witnessed famine, apathy of the Indian government, assertion of nationalist consciousness by the Mizos, the use of military power by the Indian state in retaliation to Mizos’ assertion of their sovereignty, shifts in the nature of the Mizo Nationalist movement and the lives of those who witnessed these events. The novel re-tells stories of everyday lives of common people and their negotiations with history.

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The Dogs of Tithwal: Imagining Animals in Partition

By Susan Haris
There is little to no literature on how Partition as an event that took place in 1947 affected the animal kingdom – especially the domesticated ones such as cows, goats, dogs, and hens. Their value is perhaps too trivial for scholarship against large-scale human massacres and bloodshed. But that would be an unjust rendering for organisms who cohabitate with humans. The figure of the dog is particularly interesting, for the relationship between the dog and his owner or ‘master’ is predicated upon a personal relationship, not an instrumental one.

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Book Review: Anuradha Bhasin Jamwal’s ‘Vedji and His Times’

By Ahmad Zaboor
The alienation of Kashmir is worse than its secession. Vedji’s cogent argument has been that if Kashmir remains friendly as an independent nation, it is a better proposition than staying in the federation by force. At one time, he believed Kashmiri people were reconciled with accession, but the imposition of regressive regimes and undemocratic conditions created by India changed all that. Kashmiris elected one set of people but India put another in power, and they were forced to take guns.

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“We want freedom” ~ Kashmir, a photo essay

By Nitasha Kaul
The infrastructure in Kashmir is poor and reflects the twin realities of conflict and corruption. Indian soldiers stand with guns right beside slogans that say ‘Indian Dogs Go Back’, or more often ‘Go India, Go Back’. Even the footsoldiers of Indian occupation generally understand that this is a ‘political problem’, which cannot be solved militarily.

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The Citizen and the Constructed Other − Bangladeshi Migrants in West Bengal

By Anindita Chakrabarty
Migration from Bangladesh to India at various epochs is characterized by dynamism and complexity. The divide needs to be contextualized within the centuries-old shared history, an acrimonious partition of territory in 1947 on the basis of religious identity, and the division of Pakistan in 1971, and, subsequently, the emergence of a smaller, less secure state of Bangladesh, surrounded on its three sides by an assertive regional power like India.

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Bureaucratizing “choice”: Longing, belonging, and not knowing in the India-Bangladesh exchange of enclaves

By Sahana Ghosh
Since the 2011 survey that conducted a census in all the enclaves, there had been steady rumors about an impending resolution, including the possibility of migrating to India permanently. With that desired future flashing before their eyes, however unknown, the brothers even decided against investing any money in renovating their dilapidated house. The two brothers had taken leave from their contractual job in a steel rod manufacturing company to be present in Banshpachai during the survey and arrive at a consensus within the family.

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Remembering a Refugee City

By Debjani Sengupta
By 1951, my father had managed to find himself a livelihood; he had reclaimed the city. When he first came to the city in 1940, he had lived in a ‘mess-bari’ with his elder brother who worked at the Imperial Library in Central Avenue. But he had not taken to Kolkata much and had decided to leave. However, the city had marked him out as its own. By 1949, the last of his family had come over to this side, never to go back. My grandfather was heartbroken to leave Naranyangunj and complained that the fish and vegetables never tasted the same on this side.

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Towards A Kindlier Self: Analysing Partition through Ashwin Sanghi’s ‘The Sialkot Saga’

By Priyanka Chatterjee
Ashwin Sanghi unfolds the complex intricacies of the ‘self’ in The Sialkot Saga, where the narrative constantly shifts from myth to history to present day India to fantasy. The action of the novel begins with a horrific description of Partition riots and moves to unfurl the emergence of India of the present times with its tales of progress and regress. The narrative is continuously interspersed with moments from Indian history, ranging from 250 BCE Pataliputra during the reign of Ashoka to 1833 Lahore of Maharaja Ranjit Singh.

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Revisiting Saadat Hasan Manto: Lessons in Secularism and Humanism

By Sana Khan
One idea that Manto tried to rescue and which we must rescue today was the idea of secularism. He saw the notion of the secular not as categorically a right of the state but as a vitality of a culture. The significance of Manto in the Indian context is telling if one can go beyond secularism as a politically correct concept.

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Post-Partition (1947-58) Refugee-hood in Bengal – A Critical Reading of Published Autobiographies

By Ekata Bakshi
The Dalit refugee accounts reveal that most of the lower-caste refugees were the last to leave. The more fortunate ones were able to reach the borders completely penniless and face the inhuman conditions of refugee camps while the less fortunate were never recognised by the government as refugees for crossing the border later and have been completely written out of memory. The horrors of living in Sealdah Station and later in a refugee camp have also featured frequently in Dalit refugee accounts and have been described in detail by Manoranjan Byapari and Jatinbala.

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Rising Dalit assertion to counter dominant Brahmanical political narratives

By Vidya Bhushan Rawat
While the political parties failed and particularly those claiming to represent the Dalits keep disappointing, the positive sign is that Ambedkarite youths are not ready to wait endlessly facing injustices. The huge protest that India saw in the aftermath of Rohith Vemula’s death and the subsequent flogging of Dalits in Una and violence against Dalits in Saharanpur has also put the political parties on alert that they should not take them for granted.

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Revisiting Abdullah Hussein’s ‘The Weary Generations’: Politics, Poetics, and Partition

By Raza Naeem
The novel may be read on three levels: as an account of events revolving around the partition of India in 1947; as a description of the politics and sociology of undivided Punjab, with its attendant system of feudalism and patriarchy; and a love story which begins, thrives and eventually falls with the fate of British colonialism in India itself.

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The Remains of Home: Remembering Partition through the Trials and Travels of Objects

By Sohini Chakraborty
Objects and artefacts are tangible remains that link people to past events by attaching a sensory experience to history. What moves in times of war and what gets left behind to be recollected in fond remembrance becomes a hypothetical question when considered in abstraction. Whether they would be precious collections treasured over a lifetime or basic necessities that might serve some practical use in the future was a decision undertaken in moments that had no precedence and provided no possible pattern.

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Photo-Essay: The Delhi within Delhi

By Jayshree Shukla
I hear the verses of Khusrau ring in my ears as I wander the by-lanes of the Nizamuddin Basti. I revel in the splendour of the Mughal palaces and mosques bequeathed to the city by emperors like Humayun and Shah Jahan. There are a million stories to be told and a million waiting to be heard in the streets and bazaars of Shahjahanabad. With my pictures, I capture some of them.

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Jeene Nahin Doonga: India’s Persistent Partitions

By Bhupinder Singh
I was 16 when two major political events happened: the first was the Indian army’s assault on the Harmandir Sahib, and the second was Mrs. Indira Gandhi’s assassination by two of her security men. Even then, I realized that Mrs. Gandhi’s assassination was historic, so much that one of the only two full editions of newspapers I have saved in my archives is dated November 1, 1984, which published the news of her assassination.

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The Last Nail

By John Dayal
Narendra Modi feels empowered and now has the support system in place. The election of his men as President and Vice President may well be the last nails in the series of planks that have gone into making the structure of the Rashtra of their dreams.

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Divyang: The Latest Frontier

By Nandini Ghosh
In recent times, the state has wasted no time in propagating and legitimising the use of the term Divyang, to designate disabled people literally as having divine body parts or being imbued with divinity as compensation for physical impairment. The word Divyang invests bodies with holiness and intends to change social attitudes towards disabled people but ends up reinforcing the negative attitudes that construct disabled people as evil and monstrous in the religio-cultural ideologies.

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Partitioning “Us” and “Them”: The politics of othering

By Sabiha Farhat
Abetted by politicians and a complicit state machinery, nearly 4,000 Sikhs were hacked, burnt, stabbed to death in Delhi alone, women and children included. This was the first time I realised that Hindus and Sikhs were of different religious identities. I knew Muslims and Christians were ‘separate’ identities but 1984 proved that ‘Sikhs’ were ‘different’ from Hindus too.

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