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M S Prabhakara

Nelson Mandela (1918-2013)

Some Recollections and Reflections

In death Nelson Mandela is undergoing a droll kind of transformation. A revolutionary fighter who led an armed struggle against the apartheid regime became towards the end of his life a universally beloved, almost cuddly, icon of peace and reconciliation. It is true that Mandela mellowed towards the end of his life, evident in what one saw of him in photographs. But the fi re never died, except to the extent that the body itself was losing its vigour. Mandela himself took pains to deny that he was a "saint".

The State, the Nation and the World in Kannada Imagination

Listening to the Loom: Essays on Literature, Politics and Violence by D R Nagaraj; edited with an Introduction by Prithvi Datta Chandra Shobhi (Ranikhet: Permanent Black), 2012; pp xiii + 365; Rs 750.

Hindus, Muslims: Unique Each in Their Own Way

Though not always in harmony, Hindus and Muslims have for centuries lived together all over this country. While in some cases the people are ghettoised, and the ghettoisation within and among the various Hindu castes and outcastes has been historically and socially institutionalised, Hindus and Muslims are no strangers to each other. Yet, the two people seem to know so little about the inner working of each other. This is certainly the case with the Hindus, considering how widely known Muslim sensitivities are often offended by many gratuitous acts.

Memoirs of a 'White Who Crossed the Line'

The Final Prize: My Life in the Anti-apartheid Struggle by Norman Levy (Cape Town: South African History Online), 2011; pp 478, Rands 275.

Forgetting a Day of Shame

Perhaps this is a sign of the times; for the first time as I can recall in nearly 20 years, the anniversary of the demolition of Babri Masjid on 6 December 1992 went unnoticed by most newspapers this year. The usual practice till recently was for the newspapers to have a brief backgrounder recounting that infamous event in the issues dated 6 December, and follow-up the next day with reports of protests, vigils and mourning of that act of vandalism of that day in 1992.

Unending Tragedy

Stateless in South Asia: The Chakmas between Bangladesh and India by Deepak K Singh (Delhi: Sage), 2009; pp xxiii+289, Rs 695.

Azaadi Is Not the Only Way

Is azaadi the only way for the unending violence, the pain and alienation in Jammu and Kashmir, specifically in the Kashmir Valley, to come to an end? Every time the peak in the rage and violence appears to have reached, there is another outrage, rape, killing or whatever provides the fuel for a fresh mobilisation of popular rage. The killing of Tufail Ahmed Matto in early June was in no way a defi ning moment; rather, it was a mere speck in this continuum of violence and resistance and violence, and more alienation.

Making Unpersons of Tribal People

When did the word “tribal” which is a very precise adjective become a generalised noun? I cite below the latest instance of such peculiar usage where the word is further modified to a plural noun from a Letter to Editor (“Condemnation of Maoist Violence”) in EPW (22 May 2010).

It is unfortunate that innocent tribals and other civilians are caught in the ongoing violence in Dantewada and other parts of eastern and central India.

Threatening the Media

In their zeal to suppress “Maoist” activities, the authorities in Karnataka are targeting a media that is only performing its duties by carrying reports of such activities.

A “police notice” served by the offi ce of the deputy superintendent of police, Shimoga, on Rahul Belagali, a reporter with Prajavani, the leading Kannada daily of Bangalore, on 29 March 2010 demanded that he promptly report himself to the police authorities in Shimoga and reveal his sources as also supply all other information he had regarding “Maoist” activities.

Kannada-ness and the Dilemmas It Faces

Community and Culture: Selected Writings by K V Subbanna edited by N Manu Chakravarthy