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Archive for January, 2019

[Essay published on the occasion of India’s 70th Republic Day in Economic & Political weekly]

republicmain

Picture credit: EPW

On the occasion of India’s 70th Republic Day, it is worth considering how the very foundational idea of a republic, in which supreme power is held by the people, is at risk despite free and fair elections. To arrive at that argument, this article delineates the historical trajectory of India’s Right to Information movement as arising out of the need to address the unfinished agenda of democratisation since independence. It then discusses how the movement has strengthened oppositional politics by expanding the terrain for political participation and has also empowered individual citizens in their struggles to claim their entitlements from the state. By resisting scrutiny under the Right to Information Act and attempting to dilute the law’s empowering potential, political representatives and bureaucrats are subverting democracy itself. 

Read the full essay here:

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Madness

moon madness

Moon madness by Andrew Wyeth.

A lazy moon reclines on clouds

With eyes of empty dreams afloat.

It is three ‘o’ clock,

The sky is red,

From moony eyes that have cried,

And bled…

A breeze blows by

And with its touch

It reminds her self of nights gone by,

Spent in wintry solitude,

Among lovers,

A bed of clouds….

She is tired of making love to pillows

That lie beside, like dead wet clouds.

The sky is a mirage, she tells herself,

And the moon will hide when there is light…

 

© Vidya Venkat (2006)

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Soliloquy

full-moon-night-jean-marc-janiaczyk

Full Moon Night by Jean-marc Janiaczyk.

The moon is a desolate dream

Carved on the sky’s black surface:

Marble white moon, your hardness

Stifles the night wind’s breath.

 

Look up, O! forlorn beauty,

Your sulking makes the night still worse.

How you gleam in your borrowed Lights

With nothing to claim your own!

 

Your dreams are somebody else’s

Their realm elsewhere does lie.

Night after night, you watch them go

Hiding their darkness in a sheath of glow…

 

© Vidya Venkat (2006)

[Republished from my old blog]

 

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Passion

head-vs.-heart

My passion is as fleeting 

As the moment that passes by.

It comes like a breath of fresh air

And ends in a sigh.

 

Fancies breed passion

And passion in vain,

Grows so gross

That it gives but only pain.

 

I know not where it all began.

I know not if it will even end.

For all those dreams after which I ran,

Those errors I never did mend,

Keep coming back to me.

 

Now I realise why they say 

The world is round,

‘Cos I end up where I’d started,

Lose myself where I’d found…

 

© Vidya Venkat (2006)

Published by Writer’s Workshop, Kolkata

 

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farmer oped

The father of a farmer in Haryana, Bijender Mor, who committed suicide, holds up the picture of the son with his wife. Picture credit: Vidya Venkat (The Hindu)

[First published in The Hindu dated May 13, 2015]

Everybody has an opinion on farmers these days. Be it politicians, policymakers, editors or economists. In fact, ever since the Parliament reconvened for the Budget session on April 20, the deteriorating condition of farmers has clearly dominated discussions. But even as the issue of agrarian crisis, farmer suicides (especially after >Gajendra Singh’s suicide in a New Delhi rally) and the controversial land Bill rocked Parliament, one question nobody asked was: what did the farmer have to say?

As the >Budget session was on, during a visit to Haryana this correspondent noticed how farmers had a strong sense of pride; the shame and guilt attached to the act of taking one’s own life meant they would rather die in the privacy of their fields. One such case was that of Bijender Mor, a Jat farmer, all of 27 years, from Baroda village in Sonepat district. Unlike Gajendra Singh, he consumed pesticide in his field and left no suicide note behind. Mounds of wheat piled up in the corner by the wall greeted my eyes when I entered his house. “It is of no use to anyone. This year’s harvest is of such low quality, that we cannot even use the grains to feed ourselves, forget selling it in the mandi,” his mother said. On March 9, Bijender went to check whether his 20-acre wheat field had not been destroyed by the rains, which arrived unexpectedly. He went late in the afternoon and never returned. And this is not the only instance of farmers dying across the country, either by committing suicide or from heart attacks following the shock of rabi crop loss.

(more…)

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