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Wednesday, June 25, 2008

7th Std Text Book : Controversy Over Secularism

There's a controversy going on in Kerala in relation to a text book
lesson in Malayalam for 7th std ,State syllabus:-
Let me narrate the content here:
Jeevan is taken to school for enroling in the 1st std by his parents
- Hide quoted text -of two different religions.The Head Master asks Jeevan's parents whichreligion is to be entered for the boy. Jeevan's parents request forleaving the column (related to religion and caste ) blank, whichprompts the HM to ask what would happen to the child as he grows upwithout religion/caste appended to his identity. The parents coollyreply that as he grows up he could chose any of the faiths or nofaith!This has become a cause for much ire being vent by the parties andstudents' unions in the rival camp ,on the Left Democratic Frontgovt.in Kerala. The opponents demand withdrawal of the lessonpromoting atheism and anti-religious mentality and even communism!!??Though the above text (lesson )appears to be the main focus in thecontroversy,much more text portions elsewhere from the current schooltexts are being brought under fire by the opposition parties andstudent unions. One thing that significantly eludes focus in the current politicalwarfare between the two fronts, ie; the LDF, led by the CPI(M) and theUDF( comprising Congress, Muslim League, Kerala Congress,etc )is thatCaste plus Religion plus most of the Superstitions like jaatakams,pujas and rituals are seen publicly glorified and practiced everywherein Kerala by leaders as well as cadres on both sides of the divide.Hence,the ideals of secularism that are sought to be promoted in youngminds, unfortunately , do not really match the realms of both thepublic and private spheres largely influenced by the left partieshere.At least as seen contradicted from the point of view of the dismaltrack record of many a left politician in promoting real secularism inprivate and public life, the present controversy on the text bookportions will not take us the society too far.
The contradictions resulting from promotion of unilateral learning ofideals by rote without a thought of accentuating them in real lives onthe one hand, and resisting even marginal struggles for social reform( the negative attitudes by and large displayed against intercastemarriages, struggles against casteism etc, for example) on the other,has come to the fore ,with the present controversy over the abovetext. In this aspect, perhaps this can signify a fair deal of selfreflectivity on the part of the 'big' people in the Left.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The Kerala State Women's Policy -Draft (Comments)

The Kerala State Women's Policy is wished to be an excellent model, worth being emulated by other states of this country; let the authors/makers of the current draft take further steps in generating unbiased,open and elaborate discussions among sections of concerned human rights, social activists, women's groups and writers already struggling on the front of gender justice ,in a shortest available time span.
From a point of view as aforementioned, this is an excellent draft to begin with,
though conspicuous lacunae seem to be too obvious for one to to miss, on many vital questions of conventional assumptions on gender,for example,in the context of sexuality vis a vis the patriarchal family.
Conceding women any role of active agency in asserting the sexual rights (which may even be constitutionally and legally valid and enforceable)is an obvious challenge before this kind of well intentioned Draft(Policy).
One hopes it could go beyond the protectionist attitude, and develop into one which wants to recognize the rights of all women as equal citizens, irrespective of their being categorized into "good" and "bad",according to how they adhere to the norms of patriarchal monogamy. The role of women in sexuality as that implying any active agency is virtually denied; instead, it is invariably taken for granted as that of a passive victim (of atrocity). On the other hand, the atrocious institution of patriarchal family with its extra- legal, extra- constitutional moral canons,which are even overdetermined by the tradition, is exonerated under the cover of this protectionist policy which is designed only for helping the 'victims'.Obviously,this is something short of a panacea for all kinds of sexual atrocities. Many atrocities continue to be institutionalized thanks to the very existence of this patriarchal value system and the attendant double standard and linked to the conspiracy of silence about women's important right to have autonomy over their bodies.

Saturday, June 7, 2008


Public Function On 7th June Held at Kannur Concluded Successfully -Chithralekha Rehabilitation Committee, Kannur,Kerala


Modest function held at the police club auditorium ,Kannur in which Ms.C.K.Janu of Adivasi Gothra Maha Sabha gifted the keys of a new Bajaj diesel auto to Chithraleka was concluded yesterday with a firm resolve and perseverance to support Chithralekha in her continuing struggle for the right to work and live with honour.
A.Vasu (Vasuettan), Dileepraj, V.P.Zuhra , Advocate P.A.Pauran, Mini K Philip, M.K.Jayaraj and Munderi Balakrishnan spoke at the function presided by Dr.D.Surendranath (Chairman, Chithralekha Punaradhivasa Committee).

Jenny Roweena and Carmel Christy, authors of the much debated report"Chithralekha's Burning Auto: Caste and Gender In the Urban Space of Keralam" ( paper published in Sarai), who had stood all along with the Chithralekha Punaradhivasa Committee in support of this campaign, were also present in the function.

The session was temporarily taken outside the hall, while Ms C.K.Janu handed over the keys of vehicle to Chithralekha , with Chithralekha standing aside the auto. Chithralekha had chosen to name her new vehicle after Mayilamma, the heroic Adivasi woman of anti-coke struggle at Plachimada who passed away last year. This choice of name has the additional relevance that it was Mailamma who had inaugurated the convention for protection of Rights of Dalits and Women
held at Payyanur by the Citizens' Action Committee in 2006 February in the context of the early stage of struggle by Chithralekha in the aftermath of the grave crime of burning her vehicle.

Texts from messages received from B.R.P.Bhaskar (senior journalist and human rights campaigner), Dr.A.K. Ramakrishnan (Jamia University, New Delhi),Prof.Shiva Shankar(Chennai Institute of Mathematics), J.Robin (Editor,Keraleeyam Monthly), Dr.J.Devika (CDS,Thiruvananthapuram), Benjamin Paul Kaila(ambedkarsholarships),Dr. Hari.P.Sharma of South Asian Network for Secularism and Democracy(SANSAD) were read out to the audience.
Messages in expression of solidarity from Dr.T.T.Sreekumar, Anivar Aravind,.Salim.T.K, Aftab Ellath, K.Ajitha, K.Venu, Sunny Kapikkad, P.V.Ayyappan, Rekha Raj, C.Padmanabhan, K.K.Kochu, Dr.K.M.Seethi(M G U, Kottayam), Dr.A.K.Jayasree, Sarathchandran, Mitesh Domania (US),Dr.Ranjith (Indira Gandhi Open University,New Delhi) ,Deepa V.N, Joy Charles(US),Prof.Alladi Sitaram(Indian Institute of Science, (Bangalore), Prof.Sujata Ramodari Stalin.K (documentary film maker) and many others who though could not directly attend the function but whose support had been reiterated on various occasions throughout the ten months' long campaign were acknowledged by K.M.Venugopalan, Convener, as he read out the texts of felicitation messages.Earlier,he gave the welcome address .
Mr.P.K.Ayyappan, Treasurer, (Chithralekha Punaradhivasa Committee) proposed the vote of thanks before the session concluded.

A fair presence of media persons, both of print and the electronic, was there throughout the function.
Chithralekha Punaradhivasa Committee

Afew words about the accounts:-
A total sum of Rs 1,53,700 is received as donations as against the targeted amount Rs 1,50,000.00;
the Committee has yet to sit and formally announce the particulars of contributions.
Certain out station cheques received in the later phase have yet to get credited to our Account, and such delay of several weeks in getting the cheques collected in the conventional banking practice is considered" normal"!
There is already an understanding that after realizing the actual expenses incurred in the campaign and the expenses incurred in relation to the purchase ,insurance ,road taxes,body etc of the vehicle,the actual balance left in the Account will be transferred to the personal account of Chithralekha.

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always want to defend peace, justice, peoples' right to love each other and live with dignity,struggles against parochial visions and hatred;instinctively a defender of socialist and democratic values