Friday, April 17, 2009

Hurdles of Participatory Democracy at Panchayats

It is now universally recognized that goals of development, eradication of poverty, gender justice, literacy, health and several other programs and their imperatives that make for humane and civilized living cannot be met by state alone through the centralized planning. Collapse of the U.S.S.R and other satellite states in Europe have irretrievably discredited planning from above, it has now been realized that if there has to be efficiency and equity in delivery of services, greater participation and better accountability in governance from local bodies would be much required now than they have been doing so far.
The 73rd and 74thamendments of the Indian Constitution represents a watershed in the evolution of local government in India. They affirm not only that local bodies have constitutes the gamut of local governance but also that they form an integral and vital part of the whole gamut of governance in India, they are no more the “creatures of the state governments”.

But one of the apparent shortcomings of the amendments is that their still have considerable discretion's at the hands of state governments regarding the financial and administrative charges of the local bodies. The consequences have been that there is wide variation in the actual functioning of the local bodies in different states of India, some states have been more faithful to the spirit of the amendments mode and they endeavored to give panchayats a considerable autonomy and financial aid.
However some states have been tardy in this respect, they view the panchayats not as partners in development but as rivals in governance. However it must be admitted that state alone are not responsible for the uneven performances of the local bodies.

There are still some parts in India particularly in north where rigid, patriarchal and the other centuries old beliefs and practices do not being disappeared , in these state there are still exists only the formal representation of women’s at local levels .
Their authorities are effectively dominated by their men folks through remote control of any judgments in their hand they confined in most of cases like nothing more than a puppet, there are immense conditional similarities could be found in the case of Schedule casts and Schedule tribes in state of representation. In some places they have been able to effectively raise their voices and express their concerns, but in most of places they have reduced to the status of mute spectators.

Such state of affairs are arising due to stickiness of authority with the male dominance, this trend is hardly reversed even after the implementation of women’s reservation in many states. Effects of these maladies are universal in all communities irrespective of their position in social hierarchy which causing for the suppression of aspirations and innovations among the women’s.
There may be some solace to found the growing proportion of participation in Panchayat elections but it’s alone is not sufficient for smooth functioning of this lower tier of democracy, I think apart from all regular practices at Panchayat level there is dire need to take some stringent action to ensure fair participation as well as representation . The priorities should be to…
1. Lessen the strife during polls
2. Strengthening of women’s candidate with aim to end the pseudo representation
3. Better placements and assistance to the economically marginalized candidates ( in terms of ensuring some financial assistance by the government only)
4. Transparency in bureaucracy
5. Better monitoring by election commission etc.

Apart from such measures there is need to alter the groupism and narrow favor’s during the Panchayat elections, because such tendencies are severely hampering the universal rights of franchise among the socio economically weaker sections. As peoples will is foremost for any political consensus, so, it should be always taken into account that each and every vote is indispensable and crucial due to having lower intake of numbers (voters) in Panchayati constituencies.
Without ensuring the efficiency and fairness at local level of governance it would be a distant dream to meet with the goal of social security programmers. Positive initiatives like NREGS, is coping with frequent hurdles because of practical shortcomings of governance and lower awareness among the peoples.

Institutionalization of participatory democracy at local level becomes very strategic because it is quite imperative to avail the advantages of citizenship and social welfare schemes. Quality and vibrancy of a democracy could be sensed only through the empowered participation instead of number based or emotional participation's which are hardly coeds with real issues.
Strong polarizations of peoples will at local level would have a stronger effects on central plans and policy matters regarding the rural India. No doubt, it would be as par with what its deserves.

Atul Kr Thakur
17th april 2009, New Delhi

Worrisome Public Appearances

Amidst the ongoing move of parliamentary elections, sudden influxes of unparliamentarian remarks are taking place at political as well as civic sphere, this hardly justifies the ethos of democracy or Indian constitution. Euphemism are rampant now a days among the leaders to woo the voters without aversion to unethical practices, opportunism, hate speeches, double speaking, blame games, promises , dreams ,despair, failure, success, casteism ,religion etc are being increasingly evident from the speeches of political players that means the macro area of unbiased development forfeited its claim from their priorities because it’s considerably felt by them as a feeble determinant of their fate in electoral field.
Obviously what happening this time is not an unique occurrences because there are numbers of such obscene remarks and situations could be easily found from the page of sixty two years of democratic history of India.

Though the scale is certainly deteriorating much faster now in comparison with the initial phase of post independence when the principles was at least followed by the most of democratic representatives; now the case is entirely reversed as their motive and aim of electoral participation. What we are witnessing now a considerable erosion of decency from its participants… though still we have some exceptions who stands for cause based action but caught in awkward situation like a flickering lights amidst the violent storm, hope they will keep striving for a healthy ambiance to sustain real politic in democracy.
Despite following the principles of Westminster model, Indian democracy stands with unique proposition because its inheritance of democratic values from across the world, besides its own geographic, demographic and cultural diversity impulse it for own conditional set of democratic model.

Consequently Indian democracy apart from being biggest in size also endowed with all the uniqueness which is very scarce in other democracy, but such uniqueness must regarded as strength rather than a loopholes. But contrary to such positiveness we keep witnessing a series of awkward behaviors of politicians in recent times in state like Gujrat , Bihar, West Bengal , Andhara Pradesh, Delhi etc and there are many more to come in near future and even after.
In such situation a common men reduced to being a mute spectators by such unfair happenings and their glamorous portrayal by media. The new nexus are created and devastated by the political parties during the elections as per their conditional needs, sometimes these seems so opportunistic that even a master of probability can not guess the next result of its outcome.

What changes has taken place in Bihar and U.P are sufficient to acknowledge the downward trend of Indian politics. In U.P alliance are formed on caste basis to uplift their position against the growing might of ruling party, more or less the political development in Bihar having emerged from similar apprehensions.
Merely four years back RJD and LJP were caught in cut throat battle with each other for their positions in state assembly elections, than the political agenda of LJP was development, which the state have been denied under the RJD rule so far, now those issues are fall back of their agenda, there real issues is now to regain their lost political position in state by pursuing new agendas.

Why such shifting is inevitable in their agenda? There may be a long debate on this question but in short such unpleasant moves are reflecting the growing divide between peoples aspirations and interest of political parties, which is absolutely unfortunate for our democracy as well as for our life. What I mean to say by all these examples that peoplecentric issues are diminishing from political space and a new wave of rhetoric’s are taking place among the political parties to sustain their credentials, sometimes it seems contrary to our own democratic achievements which has been culminated in independent India.
To sustain and blossom the democracy peoples must deified the false rhetoric’s of political parties and indulge in action to uplift their own genuine vision for their own life, their society and their nation.

If peoples would stand with their vision ,the political parties would also act in same manners otherwise the case may working different direction. We should have to act genuinely to live the broad dreams for our own nation, of course every conscious people must rethink about their own new role to strengthen the democracy because there is reason for each and every one among us to put their action for broader causes. We have some good news in terms of finding some new inclusion in our political spaces like active arrival of Shashi Tharor and some more candidates from different professional field.
So, it’s time for us to strongly condemn the political hypo crates and create a new level playing field in our democracy. Reinforcing of greater role of mass people will eradicate the culture of false promises and betrayal from our political system…Let us strive for better public appearances with great determination to save the humane civility.

Atul Kr Thakur
April 17th, New Delhi

Friday, April 10, 2009

Ritwik Ghatak : A Relentless Maverick

In the last quarter of year 2008, Cine club of India Habitat Centre organized a screening of Ritwik Ghatak’s Meghe Dhaka Tara; being a cinema lover I had reason to attend this show and interact with the serious viewers of cinema. On this occasion, I availed an opportunity of interaction with the renowned cinema maker Kumar Sahni who was once very closed to Ritwik Ghatak at FTII (Pune) and in later period of life. He profoundly revealed his relentless creativity and his promising attitude towards the progressive ideology.

Every close observer of his life and work can see a close connection between his Idea and action. Writer and activist of international repute Mahasweta Devi, who is a close family member of Ritwik Ghatak, recalls his work with great admiration and memorized his restlessness in pursuit of purposeful creativity.My own frequent conversation with Mahasweta Devi in last six months enhanced some of my closer views about this great cinema-maker-Ritwik Ghatak.

Ritwik Ghatak was born on November 4, 1925 at Zindabazar in Dhaka (East Bengal), He and his twin sister Prateeti were the youngest among nine children of his parents. They grew amidst the natural proximity, those memories and nostalgia canopied over his consciousness throughout the life. It’s also quite visible in his cinemas. Ritwik Da was born and brought up in East Bengal but at the time of partition, they had to flee away from their own land to Calcutta, where he along with his family bound to live an extremely strained new life. Like many others, they too lost their belongingness from East Bengal, but anecdotes kept Ritwik Da culturally sensitive and oddities of life, even more progressive.

Though a sense of alienation never fled from Ritwik Da’s mind in Calcutta, probably his own bitter experiences in life enabled him to see sufferings of modern time, like war, partition, exile, and dispossession in acute way. Distortion of his life further made him inclined towards an organized and solid ideological base of Marxism.

Ritwik Da was a perfectionist practitioner of art, music and literature, articulation from his natural impulses assisted him in cinema making. In his childhood, he was deeply influenced through the works of Abnindranath Tagore and certain paintings of Gangendranath Tagore. In later phase, he practically comprehends the works of Rabindranath Tagore and with certain conditions, liked his intent for the humanity.

As an avid reader, he found taste for the progressive Bengali and world literature, especially he admired the works of Sukanta Bhattacharya, Bibhutibhusan Banerjee,Manik Banerjee,Ishwarchandra Vidyasagar,Abrahan Lincoln Marx and Lenin. He even used the poem (Cheel) of Sukanta Bhattacharya in his masterwork Bari Theke Paliye.
In the sphere of music, he learned its universal anatomy from the great maestro-Ustad Alauddin Khan. He had great taste of music (mostly in background scores) which he consistently shown in his cinema’s like Meghe Dhaka Tara.

Probably that affection for music made him among the real admirers of Beethoven, Thaickovsky, Paul Robeson, S.D.Burman and others. In1920’s, influenced through the literary impression of Manik Banerjee, a legendary Kallol group was formed. Manish Ghatak (Elder brother of Ritwik Da) was one among its founders. Radicalism of this group shaped the child mind of Ritwik Ghatak for the progressive ideas.

In 1942, IPTA came into existence and involved itself to forward the collective opposition of masses against the British imperial rule. The formidable front-bearers were-Khwaja Ahmad Abbas, Sambhu Mitra, Balraj Sahni,Salil Chaudhary, Ravishankar,Udayshankar, Bijon Bhattacharya.

Ritwik Ghatak entered in active Communist politics during his college days in Berhampur in 1946. In 1948, he graduated from Berhampur College and joined the IPTA as full-timer. He started activism with theaters, and later wrote stories, plays, essays in Bangla and English. Jwala, Sankho, Dalil are some of the illustrating plays of Ghatak, which spread across the Bengal and earned great attention of peoples.

In 1955, he married with Surama, a renowned IPTA activist. Ritwik Da believed in the continuance of life countering with devastation of life, that way he tried to live a creative life but with clear objective realities. He translated Bertolt Brecht’s, The life of Galileo and The Caucasian Chalk Circle, besides he also penned two remarkable novels in Bangla namely as, Ayananata and Akash Gangar Path Beye.

He had also edited two journals- Abhidhara, Abhinay Darpan and produced a collection of essays in English- “Cinema and I”. Ritwik Da was equally great as a literary genius, which he proved in his very short stint as a script writer for Hindi films in Bombay- he worked on the scripts for cinemas like, Madumati (Directed by Bimal Roy), Musafir (Directed by Hrisikesh Mukherjee). But as he was destined for creating history as a cinema director in Bangla, he left Bombay early for Calcutta, to get completely involved for his own projects.

He had considered cinema, as a form of revolutionary Art. So, naturally he was working as part of the new cinema movement of India, started off with Dharti Ke Lal(IPTA,1949). Cinemas of Eisenstein, Pudovkin, Siegfried Kracaner, Paul Rotha and Roger Manville emphatically influenced him. By reference, Baedeni (1951) was his first cinema under his direction, but with having some technical faults, that could not be screened publicly.

So, it would be appropriate to recall Nagrik (1952), as his first cinema, which was based on the middle class families’ agony in Calcutta in post-partition days. The cinema exposes and condemned the insensitivity of the system. It does lucidly cinematize the grim struggle and tragic fall of a middle class family in heartless metropolis of Calcutta. Nagrik reflects Ritwik Ghatak’s own painful struggle in Calcutta; he portrayed the city life in as like ‘web of betrayals’.

Ritwik Da personalizes his odd experiences in this cinema through showing pauperization of its protagonist Ramu, who even fall to the label of a wage laborer despite being a teacher’s son-the depiction creates the grim picture of helplessness of exiled masses in cruel city life. Observers of such realistic works also become equally helpless with watching Ramu and his old mother to enter in a slum, his conditional drifts from girlfriend Uma and seeing turning of Uma’s sister in to prostitution.

Ritwik Da moved to making a documentary after his first breakthrough of Nagrik, in 1955, he made “Oraon”, on the tribes of south Bihar. His next major work was Ajaantrik (1958), centered on an unusual story of Subodh Ghosh, this proved one of the few cinemas to win international acclaim within a short span of time. The cinema was based on the relationship between men and machine, with concentration on the nuances of divergence that modern system creates with the humanity.

The next from him was Kato Ajanare (1959), which chosen not to be released after the last scene was shot. In the same year, he came out with a landmark work in Indian cinema-”Bari Theke Paliye”, Ghatak could be seen doing technical experiments in this cinema. The cinema presents various faces of city life though unnamed postures but portrayal of Calcutta becomes visible on screen and in mind of audiences. Despite having all the typical concepts of Ritwik Da, cinema allowed the viewers to enjoy for some moment, but the centrality of ideas remains serious.

I personally take “Meghe Dhaka Tara (1960)’” as one among the greatest cinemas, the world has seen so far. Here, every character appears immortal with the great casts from Supriya Chaudhary, Anil Chatterjee, Bijan Bhattacharya, Niranjan Roy, Geeta Ghatak and others. This cinema shows a lower middle class family in suburban Calcutta where the bread earner Neeta (Spriya Chaudhary) severely struggles for the survival of her family. But in the course of time, her family started to show indifference from her falling emotional and physical conditions, even with the deadly Tuberculosis which she got in solitaire.

Only her elder brother (Dada, acted by Anil Chaterjee) offers true emotion for her falling condition but his late success in the field of music could not make his dream true for her loving sister. The relationship between these two touches high moral ground, cinema ends in sanatorium amidst the emotional exchange of words between brother and sister. After listening about the recently earned fame of her brother, she could not resist her temptation for life, she broke out for the first time for own sake…”Aami bachbo Dada”.

That forwards the core concerns of feminism and other aspects of our problem ridden society in modern times. In 1961, ‘Komal Gandhar’ was released and elegantly visualized the shattering dreams of the principle characters; he very cautiously utilized the metaphor of “Anasua” from the “Abhijana Shakuntalam” (Kalidas) and “Miranda” from “Tempest” (Shakespeare). “Suvarnarekha (1962)” should be considered among his best works, it also touches the life of Ritwif Ghatak in Calcutta. Madhavi Mukherjee and others characters including of Ritwik Da himself lived the story of uproot beingness at various levels.

Cinema starts with viciousness of a displaced brother, sister and an orphan (outsider), presence of this outsider radically altered the life of its prime character Sita (Madhavi Mukherjee). She represents the sound of opposition (in her suicide) against the decaying values of society. Ghatak Da again becomes successful to utilize the realistic metaphors from Indian tradition.

In 1970, he made an exceptional documentary on “Chhou” dance of Purulia-a year later, “Amar Lenin (Short Film)” was screened in Russia though it never released in India. In 1973, he made a cinema ‘Titas Ekti Nadir Naam’ on the tragedy stricken lives of a fishing community living along the banks of river Titas in Bangladesh. It could fetch modest response from the critics.

‘Jukti Takko Aar Gappo (1974) could be said his last cinema, because his last work (Documentary on Ramkinkar) was mysteriously lost, and therefore could not screened publicly. Ritwik Ghatak made eight feature films, four short films, four documentaries and an Ad film in his life time and like his own role acted in ‘Jukti Takko Aar Gappo’ disappeared suddenly from the scene on February 6,1976.

His premature death was a major blow for the world of progressive cinema and its admirers. It is regrettable that Ritwik Ghatak could achieve the proper evaluation of his work only after his death, still his cinemas deserve fresh look from the critics and cinema lovers, because even today, his kind of works are as relevant as they were fifty years back!

Atul Kumar Thakur
New Delhi
10th April 2009

Tribute to Uma Singh

In mid of January 2009 I came to struck through passing a report of HINDU, which was about the brutal murder of a young journalist from Janakpur (Nepal). Indeed such eventuality was extremely shocking for those who stand with the truthful voices to cope with the atrocities of both institutional nature and its beyond. It was unusual to see a lucid report from a distant hinterland of Mithila because of having low leaning of national media towards this geography. But I am extremely acknowledging the role of this newspaper in creating civic awareness about this unfortunate incident through the elaborate coverage.
Uma Singh was a daring journalist in her early twenties working in a Janakpur based Radio Today FM. Even though she was an obscure figure from outside of Madhes region but she had earned a lot of repute in her very short stint through her professional commitment and caliber.

Of course she was endowed with the spirit to resist the evils of society but she had to stopped in her midway. Hailing from a landlord family of Sirha district was proven a major misfortune for her as she became the third victim of her family after her father and brother, who kidnapped and killed by the Maoists few year back but case with her is different as some close links were found in conspiracy. After carnage in her family she spent most of her time in Janakpur working candidly in both the print and electronic medium.
Uma Singh was emerged from a new generation of Madhes region who promisingly striving for their political and civil rights which so far has been neglected in this region. Like many of her colleagues she had also shown her critical temper against the violence and criminality of Maoists and other armed groups of Madhes region.

She had stand for genuine cause of Madhes but refrained her self from being cynical about in action, she was quite aware about the moral imperatives. In her little age she confronted with too much oddities, which infused rationality in her approach. She used to host a radio show ‘Garma garam chah’ which was being very popular with her responsive presentation.
I came to know more about her work from Jitendra Jha (a journalist friend from Nepal) who once working with her in radio .He called me in detail about the incidents, he was extremely shocked to see such tragical outcome of a promising colleague.

To know more about the incident I searched some leading newspapers of Nepal where I found a very closed account from an article of Prashant Jha, in which he admired a lot to her relentless pursuit for right of peoples. Of course she became a victim because her candid approach towards the social evils and its practitioners. She remained agitated for better outcome of political and social issues, she could have leave a normal life if she had chosen a submissive approach like most of women of Terai region. She was targeted because she spoke truth against the wrong practices without being afraid of its consequences.
It was a solace to viewing a full length article of Kalpana Sharma (Requiem fo Uma Singh, HINDU, Jan 2009), she tried to evaluate this unfortunate incident in very true manner and exposed the real story on larger platform. Such happenings are very alarming in a democracy, which deserves strong universal condemnation.

Having myself very familiar with the Terai region and especially with the Janakpur town, I never imagined that such acts could be happen in this peaceful locality. In back thirteen years Nepal undergone through a severe political metamorphosis which badly altered the traditional tolerant social fabrics of whole country, obviously Janakpur also not remain unaffected.
During my last visit to Janakpur in November 2008, I have had a detailed chat with some of local journalist friends like Ramesh Ranjan, Ashok Dutt, Prateek Bhandari, brother Ashuosh Thakur about the falling resistance of media in the wake of ongoing turmoil in Nepal, which chunked the healthy debate over recent happenings in country.

They were quite despaired with the inertness of media and its falling role in recent developments. Situations has worsened even after the restoration of democracy , because terms and conditions of ruling Maoists ideology in Nepal is still far from being clear which holding the country in fray situation. I also observed some unfortunate motives in the psyche of pseudo rebellions from Madhes region who are dejecting the peoples in the name of their right and forming strife in co-existential relations with the Pahadis (From hill areas), which is completely unjustifiable and would be proved disaster if not checked immediately.
In recent times Janakpur played a very decisive role in recently held political transformation due to having a conducive approach from Madhesi peoples and their local media in the form of FM Radio channel.

The peoples of region have to acknowledge their recently gained edge in new political order in Nepal which was a distant dream previously, so, they have to adopt the way of harmony instead the reactions to sustain this advantage. The flame of those spirit still matters for the Madhesi peoples if they determined to avoid the future losses.
There could be hardly any answer for rampant violence and brutal killing of a such dedicated figure like Uma Singh; Peoples should farewell to their own torchbearer through saving the flickering ethical spirits from wild winds and put them to condemn the viciousness of violence, this could be genuine solace for her.

Atul Kumar Thakur
New Delhi,April10th 2009

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Stop shunning politics

It’s now become out of fashion to talk about politics in its real terms or in ideological framework. Political practices of a large masses are gradually being confined to the electoral activities…even theirs participation are far from satisfactions. Even though it could not be denied that Indian Democracy has been successfully strengthening democratic institutions throughout the years since independence.
No doubt, the size, peaceful and punctual rotation of governments, diversified representation etc are some strong points in favor of Indian democratic system; but all such indications not necessarily ensures the proper representation of citizens will or genuine quest for own role in political system. Such passivity effects like a handicap on political system which lucidly evaporating the crux of democratic spirit as well as weakening the participatory structure.

Overall such happening creates sense of despair among masses regarding the role of authority, on the other end representatives by large unlikely felt any incentives regarding their role towards citizens.Why shunning politicians?
Indeed, it’s common realization that most of representatives falsified their promises during their tenure, to some extant claim is not wrong but it’s not entirely true, because we have to look at the exceptions too. In the sixty two years of post independence we could easily locate the increasing wave of corruption and dutilessness by politicians, though the scale of such tendencies was not so rampant in early phase because, ideal of freedom struggle was than existed amidst the political arena and leadership have had vision for national consolidation on various fronts.
In subsequent phase political arena immensely exposed to the tracts like opportunism, regionalism, castism, criminalisation, etc which all led to fractional way of politics where to cite idealism became day by day difficult and focus were hugely shifted from development path.

Statistically development remain on the right track but it’s bright side have been not availed equally by lower strata of society, here we got lag behind from our constitutional aim of inclusive development.
So, at this major front on establishment of socialistic principles largely jeopardized in the growth agenda. Such deterioration at public arena is not an independently aroused conditions rather it’s crystal reflexion of equally deteriorating civic morale among the citizens. Falling quality of citizens action towards their democratic rights is a major reason of their estrangement from decision-making mechanism of government.

Once,eminent political scientist Rajani Kothari coined a term” criminalisation of politics” on burgeoning proportion of criminals in politics later by naturalization of their presence it became imperative to modify the quotation as ”Politicization of criminals” which revealed the demerit of quick adoption among the citizens before any short of political representation. Rule in a democracy indeed aroused from the electoral management, which doesn’t allow any political party to come in limelight without having support from mass majority.
So, rule under any elected government signifies respectively by the majoritarian views, means largely representations reflects the morale judgments of Voters in a Democracy which is true at least in principles.

Their sensitivity or insensitivity could be best seen in their scale of tolerance of that particular representation which came in to force through their own act. A sensitive saying of Meri Antoniate (French Queen) during the great French Revolution fueled the rage and sensitivity towards such reckless behaviour, which later caused for the end of Monarchy and ushering into new democratic domains that means the basic pillars of democracy endowed the determining rights in the hands of citizens.
Now its practices depends upon the morale constraints of peoples because whatever will be the representation they would have most determining influences over it, and off course they keep holding magic key of the golden gate. So, one most abscond from shunning politics and politicians alone.

Off course there will be chances of exceptions because every judgment not necessarily have justification for representatives action as authority and opportunity are having some rapid quality of changes, which may or may not be as per the expectations of a democratic participant. Despite acknowledging variable human nature and core of Machiavellian tracts we can’t stop ourselves from being sanguine in our further action at democratic arena.
So, we have to learn making appropriate decision to strive better for our political as well as other key rights instead of becoming merely vocal towards political system or politician. We should have dare to stand with our judgment before frustrating over the act of politician.

Since they are not aroused in isolation; means our selections reflects our leaning in individual life. Even though some times we may caught in option-less circumstances due to ineligible options. To cope with such odds we have to strengthen the people’s initiatives in different domain to see on various options. Because even any utopia (political) can be succeeded only with the participatory action, so this could be best met with remedy from people’s side.
The primary stage of such deliberation should be started from prioritizing the common sacrosanct matters that must be based on principles of common good and in later phase of development our evasive attitudes should be wiped out, in its place a well-structured and meticulous plan should be formed for the further activism.

It must be kept in mind that for countering politician’s insensitivity; a great move of democratic reform among with active participation from every section of society would be extremely worthy. So, participatory action would be a major ‘strive’ in an effective quest of democratic restructuring in peoples favor. Sometimes it is evident philosophical during the layout and execution of any major democratic plan, but there is nothing wrong in it, as an initiation have to arouse from idea which later ushering into practical format; so, these are some initial complexities which get sort out with the time factor.
Time is ripe now for a democratic reform in India…meanwhile even some subtle change in peoples attitude can fetch many positive outcome from political system. At this juncture it would be quite essential to deify the both existing as well as potential culprits of democracy with their electoral rights during the contest.

Universal and adult suffrage are most prolific investment to cope with the odds of democracy…a consineful judgment can create a lot of difference in our public and personal sphere.A political system could not be run in isolation especially a democracy, which needs consistent feedback for its smooth functioning since it’s quite compatiable with it’s essence. There is no alternative of active and quality participation…quality means here the capacity to acknowledge the critical facts related to the governance and their own duty in civil life.
Achieving a realistic goal in a democracy requires dutiful involvement from its citizens. It would be most wise step to stop shunning politics or politicians for their idleness instead every realistic and efficient persons should come forward and lend their contribution for an effective democracy. One should not immune from politics but must keep oneself immune from its maladies. Reward and blame system must be availed by its participants (Both the voters and representatives) comprehensively.

Atul Kumar Thakur
New Delhi

Friday, April 3, 2009

Dhumketu : An Unexposed Giant of Maithili Literature

Life: -
On 25th January 1932,Bholanath Jha ”Dhumketu” was born in an elite family of village Koilakh; then this village was the part of Raj Darbhanga. His forefathers were the resident of Ujjan village, but due to a matrimonial tie in the family of eminent scholar Umapati Upadhayaya, they were inhabited in Koilakh.Being born in an influential family, he got comfortable upbringing, but never distracted through the feudal manners. Although that phase of his village life provided him chances to enter in the arena of letters and traditional knowledge.
Due to feudal leaning of his family he used to have chances to visit and spent times at various Zamindari of Mithilanchal, but all such experiences could not altered his revolutionary and defying attitude towards the spoiling feudal order.

Indeed, he was a man of uncompromising nature….he kept it throughout his life. His transformation from Bholanath Jha to Dhumketu was an initiation of his revolutionary journey and his consistent switching in his material life. That even later caused for his pauper material condition and premature death, which remained the ultimate revelation of his struggle. Despite his nurtured family belongings, he was not a man of destiny. When he reached the age of institutional learning, he could not get proper backing from his conflict ridden family.

He earned his education through hard means .He got first class in his Matriculation exam in 1949, in 1951 he earned second class in his intermediate exam from Madhubani; this falling academic performance was caused by his active involvement in progressive activism and extremely resonant association with local communist leaders.

He further proceeded to prestigious Patna University for pursuing his higher studies, where he qualified B.A (1953) and M.A (1955) in Economics. After completion of his studies, he started working in Aryavarta press in Patna where he kept working from 1955 to 1957.But he found the stint unsatisfactory because it was not justifiable to his intellect.
So, finally he got away from his short tenure in Journalism and moved to a new voyage in academics. He joined R.R Campus (Janakpur, Nepal) as a lecturer of Economics in 1957, and kept working for a considerable phase, which ended in only in 1973. Meanwhile he got struck through a major blow with the untimely demise of his wife in 1965; in 1968 he remarried.

Like Rajkamal Chaudhary, he was also a man of contradiction, which is evident from his family life and creative productions where a lot of gap could be found between his revolutionary belief and its pragmatic action.
Though he spent a remarkable time of his academic working life in Nepal, but after the break of his stint in Janakpur (Nepal) due to his resistance against the discriminatory Panchayati System introduced in Nepal; he moved to his native place in Madhubani where he did two remarkable work by founding the two colleges in nearby areas, despite this he remained unmindful for a stable career.

In 1980, he moved again to Tribhuvan University (Kathmandu, Nepal) as an Associate Professor of Economics where he continued working till 1984 .He again got back to his home in 1984 because of personnel reasons, afterwards kept himself aloof from any institutional profile until 1997, when he again joined Tribhuvan University as Professor Emeritus where he keep working until close to his death on 6th August year 2000.
Once he quoted saying of famous philosopher T.S Elliot about the life”Where is the life, we are lost in living”, absolutely he refrained himself from absorbing in narrow aims of pleasure instead he lived in universal frame and remained a universal seekers for understanding the true meaning of life. Undoubtedly he was an alluring adventurist.

Literary Journey: -
Dhumketu was a gifted story teller; he was endowed with the great lingual skills with his wide range of studies in different languages including the world classics and humanities, which immensely contributed the development of Maithili language. Since initiation, he was oriented towards prose. His first published story in Maithili was Didi(sister,1952),which got high acclaim in literary circles that further encouraged him for more literary productions. Though he was inclined towards the prose but later he had also found taste to pen some great poetry in Maithili like “Dak Peen (Postmen, 1956)” and “Ek Ber Pher Rajdhani Main (Once again in the capital, 1977); which deserves better attention.
Dhumketu had enormous impact of Freudian Psychology like his contemporary great writer Rajkamal Chaudhary; they had many similarities in their ideology. Both defied the orthodox patterns of Maithil society and tried to penetrate in very complex corner of human mind.

Dhumketu believed story as a struggle between ID and EGO, so inner conflicts of mind canopied every theme of his literary stuffs. Once he wrote that I have no commitment to languages or literature only I am committed for peoples; who are real cause of my creative engagement. He remained a people’s oriented writer throughout his life.

He has written two memoirs in fond memory of his contemporary Rajkamal Chaudhary. First,”Vishwasht Avishwashniya (Confident Incredulous) and second, Suryapatan (Sunset).-both were published in Mithila Mihir just after the premature demise of his contemporary friend. Even his two obscure articles posses all the qualities to be called a master craft.

It was quite unfortunate for a great writer like him to see only one published collection of stories (Agurban, 1980) in his life time, even though he masterly written more than forty stories, two novels and dozens of poems besides some memoir, travelogues and articles .One among his novel “Sannipat” serially published in an obscure magazine,”Bharti Mandan”, and his second novel “Mor Par (On Turning, year2000) could be published only after his death.

Two more works of him was published posthumously “Udyast (collection of stories2002-03) and second one was “Nav Kavitak Navinta (Novelity of New Poems); though it could be a matter of solace for him but definitely he deserved more credit for his lifelong contribution in literature.

For proper evaluation of his Maithili stories, we will have to back for a while to see his work in a new light. Because like Baidyanath Mishra” Yatri (Nagarjun, popularly known in Hindi literary world) and Rajkamal Chaudhary, he had also shown immense effort to cultivate the old orthodox plot of Maithili Society. His every work has binding with the lower strata of society and their daily struggle for existence besides this he also exposed the pseudo moral constraint of authoritative class.
His three stories, “Manukhak Devta (Men’s God), Kulta (Characterless) and “Bihairi (Storms) are genuinely deserves to be ties with ‘Yatri’s Paro (A short novel) and Rajkamal Chaudhary’s ”Sugna Sagun Bichare”.

A very minute depiction of relationships which is often crossed the socially approved threshold are unique characteristics of these stories. Dhumketu made utmost efforts to unleash the ugly orthodox norms of Maithil society, sometime even he sounded overtly too much vocal and impatient about the existing deformities.
Two other less known story “Hamara Aaur (We People)”and “Shivir (Camp)” present a very candid delineation of deteriorating morale.
There is a wide range of diversity in his creative plot, which being unleashed from reading his some more stories. Like, “Dansh” presents a very complex relationship in a long span of time frame from Childhood to Young hood within a set of desire between its male and female protagonist.

“Sanbandh Bodh” and “Manukhak Devta” presents two very different and unusual attitudes towards relationship; “Sambandh Bodh” visualises lost relationship to an extreme level. On the other end”Manukhak Devta (Mens God)” narrates an awkward relationship between a maritally disturbed daughter and an aged widower father.
The story constructed around the very close social fabrics but demonstrate very hard and unpleasant transaction of conditions; this is an extremely serious work of Dhumketu, by which he tried to assault on the discriminatory matrimonial structure of Mithila. It’s ended with many question marks on social institutions. His, another story “Pita” focused a very alluring relationship between father and son, in which father ethically superseded and formatted a fine balance in family order.

In my views three of his stories deserve lot of accolades for its relentless sensible pursuits of throughout the theme. First,” Bauasin (Daughter in law)” shows an acute picture of falling feudal structure in which its lone survivor represents a metaphor of its demise. Second “Vightan (Separation)”lucidly visualises the child psychology and its articulation on religious occasions, which ended with the honest confessions from its every prime characters.
Third,”Udyast” establishes a micro observation of disabled and downtrodden people’s life, which are generally overlooked from social inclusion. Indeed, Dhumketu proved his commitment towards people’s aspirations, which assisted him to broaden his horizons and set out his desired creative world.

Dhumketu, reached to the zenith of his creativity by writing most comprehensive and detailed novel in Maithili language “Mor Par (On Turning, year 2000)” which is based on time frame between 1945-1970, though also consists some pictures of 1942 movements as well.

The novel emerges from the transformational phase of independence and in later course with the development of happenings; it raises questions on relevance of Indian Independence. Like all the previous works, Dhumketu reset the landscape of falling feudal order in which he analyzed the post independent rural India through creating a family construct inside.

The protagonists ‘Sadashiv Jha (Sada Bhai)’and Guna, illustrates a complex set of relationship between them. Guna being the cousin, daughter of Daijee and widow of fellow comrade Dukhran; impulses Sada Bhai to share in her misfortune and tries best for her emancipation, but as the novel ended with the suicide of Guna, his efforts turn into void. Before such outcome, Dhumketu very carefully dealt the class separation rather relying on cast or religious parameter in Zamindari of Lal Bachha and his successor Bhaiya Jee.

Yashodar, father of sada presents typical position of a close confident under the limit of relationship, a class divides frequently occurs during entire novel. On the other hand, second mother of Sadasiv represents unique woman character of Maithili society, because of her ethical and affectionate character and with no worldly lust.

Dhoomketu also successfully had shown the contradictory characters of revolutionary by comparing Suri Bhai and Dukhran. Breakthrough of opportunities and defeat of sacrifice superbly produced by comparing these two phase of communist movement. Indeed, his novel “Mor Par”is a masterpiece in Maithili language, which authoritatively characterised the subtle incidents of contemporary Maithili society in a very responsive manners.

No doubts he heightened the limit of literature in judging the social and individual ills. Dhumketu, like his name secured his position in Maithili literature and awoken the mass people for their upliftment from impractical social and moral constraints. He dreamt for a tolerant and egalitarian society, for which he remained incessantly aspired throughout his life. A man can only perform his duty; it is up to successive generation how they rate the works done in back…literary contribution of Dhumketu deserves a fresh look from literary commoners and luminaries!
Atul Kumar Thakur
New Delhi, April 3rd, 2009