Saffron Dollar April 2004
Campaign To Stop Funding Hate
April 24, 2004
Our heartfelt thanks to all of you for sustaining an interest
in our somewhat erratic production. We are hoping to announce a
completely web based newsletter in the next couple of months which
will not only make the editing of this newsletter much easier but
will also make it more interactive. More on that later.
This month's Saffron Dollar has, in addition to the usual quota
of four items,also includes the screening schedule of the by now
well known film, Final Solution, on the aftermath of the March
2002 events in Gujarat. Please scroll down and find out about the
screening in your area. Please do show up andsupport the initiative.
1. What is important about this election?
2. Film screening of Final Solution in NYC
3. The Quiet Professor ploughs on
4. Action Alert: Kerala
5. Film screening schedule
1. What is important about this election ?
By the time this newsletter reaches you the electoral fortunes
political parties will be clear and electoral pundits would be
busy inventing late swings to explain the discrepancies between
opinion polls, exit polls and the final results. This is a crucial
election for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that
this is the first time a non Congress government at the center,
a coalition at that, has completed a full term.
Whatever be the final configurations in the assemblies and in
the Lok Sabha,the scramble for the tickets, the heat of electioneering,
the wheeling dealing and the horse trading generate a social dynamic
all of their own and throw up opportunities for the advancement
for 'ideologies' in unseen ways.
Take Andhra Pradesh. The BJP stands no chance of winning any significant
proportion of the seats in Andhra Pradesh as long as the battle
is fought on grounds of congressism (with its peculiar centralization
of authority at the national level) and its opposition... regionalism
and its better cousin federalism.
One of the reasons for Hindutva appearing to be low profile in
Andhra Pradesh is that in the electoral calculus dominated by
questions of contesting ideas of regionalism and subregionalism;
BJP's planks, first Hindutva and now development have had little
purchase among the voters. But regardless of the number of seats
it wins, the BJP is likely to increase its vote percentage in
many constituencies. And that is an indication of the expansion
of its constituencies and, perhaps not very accurately, it also
reflects the rise in the number of votaries of Hindutva.
How does Hindutva manage this? By insinuating itself into the
crannies of the main battle lines. Landlords embattled by both
the reformist state and the peasant and landless workers organizations
in Telangana, tribals fighting off both the bureaucratic state
and wary of militant organizations, and economically or politically
disenfranchised caste groups in all parts of the State. Add to
this now the ambitious backward classes who are looking for political
and economic opportunities which are not easily available in the
Congress and the Telugu Desam.
Even if the BJP and the Telugu Desam combine performs poorly in
elections, this is an important election for Hindutva. In the hustle
bustle of the elections, it gets entrenched in new quarters. Exactly
by how much, and in which parts of the country, will become clear
after the electoral statistics are released. We will return to
you with more on that.
2. Film showing in NYC:
On Monday March 15th, 3rd I NY, in collaboration with SALAAM Theater,
organized a screening of Rakesh Sharma's documentary "Final
Solution". 3rd I NY, a collective that organizes a monthly
film and music salon, provides an alternative space for independent
films from South Asia. In the film, Rakesh Sharma explores how
the politics of hate is actively nurtured by the fascist Rashtriya
Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and its affiliate organizations, the Vishva
Hindu Parishad (VHP), Bajrang Dal and the Bharatiya Janata Party
At the beginning of the screening representatives of the International
Initiative for Justice spoke about the new report (entitled "Threatened
Existence"), which presents a feminist analysis of the violence
unleashed on the Muslim community, and on women in particular during
the Gujarat genocide.
At the end of the screening, a representative
of the Campaign to Stop Funding Hate spoke about the manner in
which the right
wing in India receives financial support from diasporic communities
in the US and the UK. The audience was urged to be careful when
donating money to relief and development projects. In conversations
with several members of the audience, it became apparent that
there was a lack of awareness regarding the extent to which the
right wing duplicitously raises money for their fascist project
by misleading the public. This lack of awareness underscores
the importance of an ongoing media campaign.
3.The Quiet Professor ploughs on:
More than a decade ago, just months after the demolition of the
Dr. Ram Punyani wrote an article in which he analyzed the phenomena
as "chronic fascism". The month of April saw Dr. Punyani
visit the USA. His
talk at New York's Brecht Forum was illuminating as he fleshed
theorization that he had begun with the idea of chronic fascism.
Dr. Puniyani's analysis of Hindutva as deeply systemic and enmeshed
in Brahminism as what makes it capable of lasting and reinventing
itself was compelling. Along with Dr. Punyani, S. C. Shah and Surabhi
K. presented the process and outline of the International Initiative
for Justice in Gujarat's report "Threatened Existence".
The NY release of the report follows its release
in India and brings to completion a international feminist response
Gujarat Genocide. Dr. Punyani also spoke at length of the training
on Hindutva that he and several others have undertaken in schools
teacher training programs and youth centers.
Dr. Punyani, the quiet professor, serves as an excellent example
and dedicated work.
4. Action Alert:
Malayalam writer Sreeni Pattamthanam is facing prosecution from
government due to his critical investigative book on Mata Amritanandamayi.
Pattamthanam, one of the well-known figures of the secular rationalist
movement in Kerala, wrote a book titled, “Mata Amritanandamayi:
Sacred Stories and Realities.” Using court records and newspaper
reports, the book states that the so-called Mata miracles are “bogus” and
that the mysterious deaths around her ashram in Kollam ought to
Based on complaints filed by Mata officials, the ruling United
Democratic Front government is now initiating moves to prosecute
Pattamthanam. The state government’s move is all the more
surprising given that the Mata ashram is seeking prosecution on
the ground of “hurting religious sentiments," although
it is registered as a welfare/development organization!
Please sign on to the petition at
visit www.pucl.org to send
a letter to the chief minister, A. K. Anthony, to counter this
latest threat to intellectual freedom.
5. Film screening schedule:
Rakesh Sharma will be touring the USA between April 25th and May
8th with his film Final Solution. The following is his __almost__
For more details send email to firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
The FINAL SOLUTION by Rakesh Sharma.
Award winning (Berlin Film Festival, Hong Kong Festival) feature
documentary on the current status in Gujarat after the 2002 pogrom.
April 25th -- Sunday -- Oberlin College -- Ohio
April 26th -- Monday -- Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh
April 27th -- Tuesday -- University of Massachusetts, Amherst
April 28th -- Wednesday -- Brecht Forum, New York City
April 29th -- Thursday -- Wellesley, Boston
April 30th -- Friday -- UIUC, Urbana Champaign
May 1st -- Saturday -- Chicago -- ThirdI
May 3rd --Monday -- Houston -- U of Houston, TX
May 4th -- Tuesday -- U of Texas, Austin
May 5th -- Wednesday -- UCLA, LA
May 6th/7th/8th -- Thu/Fri/Sat -- Bay Area (UCSC, Stanford, SF)