Thursday, October 27, 2011

Open Letter...

This piece pertains to the debate regarding the bestowal of the Gandhi Foundation International Peace Award to Dr Binayak Sen and Mr Bulu Imam. 

The author has written this letter to Gladson Dungdung, Dr Binayak Sen, Mr Bulu Imam, Anand Patwardhan, Arundhati Roy, Ilina Sen, Jyoti Punwani and others involved in this debate.


Dear All, 

First, I must admit (seemingly in an unabashed demeanour) ; that I am not an activist: at least as far as the definitional sense of the term is concerned. 

Hence, kindly excuse me as I encroach a turf which may be "phoren" to me. 

Before I dare to write a feeble Op-Ed through google's largesse, I should let you know that 

"I teach to feed myself and I write to free myself". 

Weird it may sound, such an introduction was necessary as I am no being who can even contemplate the echelons of fame that Dr Binayak Sen or Shri Anand Patwardhan or Jyoti Punwani or for that matter; most of the recipients in this list are entrenched in. 

Now, instead of indulging in prolixity; let me attempt to articulate my "self" regarding the matter in contention. 

1. I am privileged to be a part of this debate raised by Gladson et al. and intellectually defended by Shri Patwardhan et al. (if I may order the causality in this manner)

2. I know Gladson through his writings and I feel no qualms to convey that I use his 'ground-level' materials to strategize and theorise. 

We write in Uday India and that acts as a common platform.

Definitely, I therein become an 'arm-chair theorist' with a laptop, pen and loads of research paper all around. On the other end, my friend Gladson doesn't stroll, rather toil in the woods; collate data and then write, with elan and exuberance. 

I am based within the confines of laxity at Kolkata, whereas Gladson had battled it out in the jungles of Jharkhand and still probably; battles. 

3. Furthermore, myself and Gladson exchange each-others' writings; sometimes arguing differently. 

Dr. Binayak Sen
4. Not only I, but I guess many, know Dr Sen through the media. Our regard for him, his family and other activists spread around the Naxal heartland (Red Zone : RZ ) is shaped up from the news articles. And kudos to our higher judiciary (High Court at Raipur), that we now appreciate Dr Sen and his works with much veneration. 

5. Here, the question is of an 'award'. And I personally presume that we are coerced into this debate more so because the 'award' is being bestowed by a "phoren" organisation: and because the Father of the nation's name is associated with it. 

6. however, after Mr. Obama received the Nobel, do we really need to be serious regarding awards? At least, about awards which may not have objective analysis encrypted on them? 

7. As far as conferring the award to Dr Sen and Mr Imam goes, it surely was a decision taken by a coterie of sociologists, anthropologists and activists. It may not reflect the decision of the autochthonous Adivasis.

However, such a process is inherent in any award, ranging from the insignificant to the highest. Thus, the conferment does not elevate Dr Sen and Mr Imam as "messiahs" of the Adivasis. 

8. Furthermore, even if the Adivasis had 'voted' Sen and Imam for this award, the duo wouldn't have become their "messiahs" for a simple reason: the Adivasis have not bartered away their 'consciousness' to any external elite. 

Bulu Imam
9. The subaltern may be 'unheard' and 'unheeded'; but it is hard to 'unravel' and 'understand' him (her). 

A "Ulgulan" goes on as an undercurrent in the socio-economic and political strata of the country. It may be 'interpreted' by the external elite as an intricate set of matrices of insurgency and its reactionary counterpart; the counterinsurgency. 

10. In sum, Dr Sen and Mr Imam, as they receive the awards in November; will raise the issue of the complexities of the Red Zone in the world fora. That shall be the achievement of the whole process. 

11. Who receives the award on the dais is simply not important, the ramifications of the discussion on the age-old betrayal of the 'marginalised' in India would be significant. 

Gladson Dungdung
12. To my friend Gladson, I plea that we need to defocus on the actors receiving the award; rather stress on the issues and keep on working for the Adivasis; let them rejuvenate and let them come up as the real heroes. 

13. For the time being, if Sen and Imam go forward, so let it be. 

They have worked, so do you and many others. There are lot of unsung heroes in the Zone. In any movement, unsung heroes and heroines remain. We need to appreciate that it's not only those protagonists on whom the camera flashes are the real ones as 'reality' always needs a critical analysis. 

14. It could always be discussed why Sen and Imam did not lodge a protest to the Gandhi Foundation themselves as far as the original 'award script' was concerned. 

15. Nevertheless, it could elicit derision if Sen and Imam are threatened to be 'unmasked' and 'exposed'. 

16. Any narrative could lack objectivity because of the element of bias of the author. I do not expect anything dissimilar in this micro-narrative of mine; a sort of Op-Ed which I strictly believe would remain unpublished in any "mainstream" media. 

thanks to ALL who had the patience to bear with me this long

Uddipan Mukherjee

Uddipan Mukherjee is a late riser. Still, he works 'very hard' to edit Indian Policy. By the way, he writes in diplostratics

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