Mapping (by) the Indian Express on Maoists in India

This Ashutosh Bhardwaj article from Indian Express is at least five months old (its a general page, so no date), but is maybe worth a look since a few people recently have mentioned the Maoist struggles of the 1960s and 1970s. The continuities between then and today are convoluted, but they exist.

Plus there is this map, somehow visualising what is going on today can better displace relegation of Maoist struggles to the past. Talk of a reaffirmation of the party and direction towards work in urban areas has been about of late too:

Screen Shot 2015-10-11 at 17.49.23

Five Maoists were arrested in the southern peninsula this month, and Home Minister Rajnath Singh said last week that incidents of Maoist violence were on the decline. How relevant is that claim? ASHUTOSH BHARDWAJ answers key questions on the activities of the CPI (Maoist), both in its forest strongholds and clandestine urban bases, and gives a status report on its operations.

Is the CPI (Maoist) on the decline?

Compared to the 2006-2010 period, attacks have been fewer in the last two-three years. But they remain entrenched in the forest zone across central India, and dominate a far wider territory in Dandakaranya now than they did in 2004, when the MCC and CPI (Maoist) merged. In Chhattisgarh, over 50,000 CRPF, BSF, ITBP and state police personnel are fighting the Maoists, but politicians and officials still cannot enter many areas. 2014 is considered among the calmest years in a decade, but it was also the year in which the CRPF suffered its second biggest casualty in a calendar year in Chhattisgarh.

According to Home Ministry figures, from 2008-14, 992 LWE cadres were killed, 13,657 were arrested, 2,608 surrendered. But the data does not distinguish between CPI (Maoist) and other groups, several of which are active in Jharkhand.

What is the Maoists’ urban network?

Underground cadres who operate from cities, sympathizers and supporters. Maoist documents stress on building a strong base in cities, and mention three kinds of urban mass organisations: secret, open and semi-open, and legal, the last including cover organisations and affiliated activists. The forest-based rebellion survives mostly on what Maoist ideologue Varavara Rao calls the “movement in urban areas”. From the urban network come logistics, moral and intellectual support, and the ideological argument for violence. The network is in several cities, and sympathisers occupy prominent positions. Central Committee member Malla Raji Reddy’s daughter Snehlata and son-in-law C Kasim live on the Osmania University campus in Hyderabad. Kasim teaches Telugu, Snehlata edits a journal on revolutionary politics. “We support the Maoist movement, the only path available for the poor and oppressed. There have been setbacks but the movement will go on,” says Kasim.

How does the CPI (Maoist) operate?

A mammoth hierarchical structure operates on a ‘need to know’ basis. At the top is a 20-member Central Committee headed by Muppala Laxmana Rao or Ganapathy. Other CC members include Nambala Keshava Rao or Ganganna who heads the Central Military Commission, military expert and Giridih resident Misir Besara, and Dalit Maharashtrian Milind Teltumbde whose brother is married to the sister of Prakash Ambedkar, the grandson of B R Ambedkar.

Under the CC are four regional bureaus, the most significant and active of which, the Central Regional Bureau, is headed by Katakam Sudarshan alias Anand. The CRB has three units: Dandakaranya Special Zonal Committee, North Telangana Special Zonal Committee and Andhra Orissa Border Special Zonal Committee. Slain leader Kishanji’s younger brother and CC member Mallojula Venugopal Rao or Bhupathi is in charge of the DKSZC, the headquarters of the CPI (Maoist), and home to some of the top leadership. CC member Akkiraju Haragopal, who led the talks with the YSR government in 2004, is in charge of AOBSZC. Its secretary is Modem Bala Krishna, also a CC member. CC member Pulluri Prasad Rao alias Chandanna heads the NTSZC. The North Regional Bureau comprises units in Delhi, Punjab, J&K, Himachal, Uttarakhand and UP, and is mostly defunct.

Zonal or state committees are divided into area committees, which form the Revolutionary People’s Council in villages. These have successfully replaced panchayats in many areas of Dandakaranya.

What is their military capacity?

Bastar has two major battalions, Jharkhand has a fledgling one. The South Bastar battalion, formed in 2009 and headed by Hidma, has the finest guerrillas and has carried out nearly all major attacks in recent years. The Abujhmaad battalion, headed by Ramdher, was formed in 2012 primarily to protect the top leadership soon after CRPF entered the area. Each battalion has formations of company, platoon and squad, but their numbers vary. Bombmaking capacity was hit after the head of the Technical Research Arms Manufacturing Unit Sadanala Ramkrishna was arrested in 2012. His aide Deepak Parghania, an award-winning technician from SAIL’s Bhilai plant, was arrested too. Units in Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Bihar, Jharkhand and Andhra manufacture artillery, rifle parts, pressure mines, rocket launchers.

Are there any fissures within?

Over the last decade, several senior cadres have questioned the preeminent focus on violence, to the exclusion of mass awakening, building bases in universities. Public executions in Jan Adalats have earned the wrath of tribals in many cases. “They are leading a necessary movement, but they need to review their violence,” surrendered CC member Lanka Papi Reddy has said. Former DKSZC spokesperson Gudsa Usendi alias Sukhdev has voiced reservations against highhandedness by cadres. Of late, the Maoists have issued several apologies for attacks.

Where has the state failed?

A democratic state functioning within the Constitution and law has a fundamental handicap in dealing with the challenge. There have been no killings in Andhra and Telangana of late, but teachers, writers and journalists in cities from Warangal to Guntur feed the movement many ways. Seminars in Hyderabad celebrated the 10th anniversary of the CPI (Maoist) last year. Spokesperson Azad lived in Delhi for years with his wife. There are enough disillusioned youth who are attracted to their ideology, and to the lure of the gun and romance of a forest life. In the end, the state must be able to demonstrate that the political system is not just for the moneyed, manipulative and powerful.

– See more at:

Virinder Kalra “Sacred and Secular Musics”

Screen Shot 2015-10-11 at 14.39.58‘writing a book about music may seem anachronistic given the state of crises that announced itself in explicit acts of violence and multiple human violations’

This is a book not to be missed. Sacred and Secular Musics explains with detail and nuance the contexts of emergence and understanding – and criticism of misunderstandings – of musics from the Punjab. Kirtans, Qawwali, folk and film tunes are given analytical and biographical treatment here – based upon extensive interviews and well-tuned listening practice. Virinder Kalra’s return from a combative engagement with musicological terrain reunites what has been torn apart by scholarship and politics.

A sonorous demolition of colonial era music orientalism is articulated as a necessary and ongoing project. Here it is informed by historical and archival work used as parallel anti-colonial movement against the drone routines of latter day musicology and its patterned responses in hierarchical mode. That surely ever so well-meaning contemporary music scholars repeat the platitudes and privileges of East India Company judgements is not just an error of disciplinary isolation or demarcation – a book on music is never only about music – here at last is one up front about the isomorphism of soundtrack and power. Get this book not so much to read your way into a better music history or to decolonise your record/mp3 collection’s exotic moments, but to recognise those moments as part of a wider dis-orientation through rhythm and poetry – which could perhaps be claimed as the sonic register of a wider Global South resistance, and not to be merely commercialised and packaged into some rote-learning documentary format.

‘despite increasing hardening physical borders and political sabre rattling. Perhaps only music is able, in the absence of cross-border transnational, political or social movements and institutions, to provide an example of another possibility of a refusal to endorse and promote the outcomes of colonial modernity. Even though, this is only a minor chord in the hugely amplified soundscape that is invested in the continuation of the boundaries between religions. It is one that is worth straining for and making the effort to hear’

Screen Shot 2015-10-11 at 14.38.51

Maharanis Exhibition 3-14 Oct 2015

Tasveer and the Harrington Street Arts Centre are delighted to inform you that the exhibition, Maharanis: Women of Royal India, is currently on view in Kolkata.

Although Indian royalty have in the past formed the subject of several exhibitions and publications, the emphasis of these have always been centred around the figure of the male ruler, or the Maharaja. As a counterpoint to these narratives, this exhibition, organised as part of Tasveer’s 10th anniversary season, focuses on the Maharanis and other royal women of erstwhile Princely India.

Chronicling the historical representation of royal women in India for over half a century, and through it, tracing the changing tropes of photographic portraiture, Maharanis: Royal Women of India includes images from the archives of the Museum of Art & Photography (MAP), esteemed royal collections from across the subcontinent and other institutional and private collections both in India and abroad such as the Victoria & Albert Museum and National Portrait Gallery in London, and the Amar Mahal Museum & Library in Jammu.

Functioning as documented history, the photographs in this exhibition point us towards the ways in which these women circumvented and reinvented the traditional, or embraced and reinvented the modern. Serving as windows into a time of great political and social change, they allow us to map the transforming modalities and conditions of the princely class, and its complex relationship with colonialism and the British Empire. Understanding the socio-historical significance of these photographs, thus, this exhibition approaches these women — alluring figures who sported chiffon sarees and exquisite jewellery, featured in Vogue lists and were touted as fashion icons — as voices from the past that history, and we, have seldom paid attention to.

Maharanis: Women of Royal India, will remain on display until the 14th of October 2015.

Copyright © 2015 Tasveer, All rights reserved.
You are receiving this email because you previously expressed an interest in Tasveer.

Our mailing address is:


26/1 Kasturba Cross Road

Bangalore 560001


Sharmistha Gooptu’s ‘Bengali Cinema’ 2010

have just finished Sharmistha Gooptu’s wonderfully detailed book Bengali Cinema: An Other Nation, and while I understand her decision not to write about Ghatak and Sen et al, I do hope there is a follow up. For sure this will not be the first time such a lament has been aired, but I think there must be a sequel since leaving things pretty much at the end of Apur Sansar is a jolt. Even though there are a dozen pages that skim through the 70s and 80s, the text really stopped at the detailed description of Chatterjee as Apu and this suggests more to come – can only hope there is a sequel that engages with Apu’s subsequent political mobilisation…

Sharmistha Gooptu seems to be custodian of an archive of filmi memorabilia, you can see some of it here.

Ustad Alaudin Khan – by Ritwik Ghatak

(24 mins of music doco from 1963)

someone asked why I posted this. . OK. Maybe because Alaudin Khan was the father of Ali Akbar Khan and Annapurna Devi, uncle of Raja Hossain Khan, and guru of Ravi Shankar, Nikhil Banerjee, Vasant Rai, Pannalal Ghosh and more…

And that isn’t even to get started on the great films Ritwik Ghatak.

De/siring India: Representations through British & French Eyes (1584–1857)

ICSSR-Sponsored International Conference organised by the Department of English, Chandernagore College, Hooghly in collaboration with Institut de Chandernagor


De/siring India: Representations through British and French Eyes (1584 – 1857)

18 January – 19 January 2016


18 January 2016

10 – 10.30: Registration (Charu Chandra Roy Memorial Hall, 1st Floor)

10.30 – 11.20: Inaugural Session

11.20 – 12.05: Keynote Address – Dr. Ian Magedera, Department of Modern Languages and Culture, University of Liverpool

‘Shall I compare thee to…’, Encountering and Countering Power in European Representations of India 1728 to 1857

12.05 – 12.15: Discussion and tea

Business Session 1 (Charu Chandra Roy Memorial Hall, 1st Floor)

Chair: Dr. Niranjan Goswami, Department of English, Chandernagore College

12.15 – 12.45: Prof. Rila Mukherjee, Department of History, University of Hyderabad


Knowing India in Sixteenth Century Europe

12.45 – 1.15: Prof. Nilanjan Chakrabarti, Dept. of English & Other Modern European Languages

Visva-Bharati – European Expansion and French Travel Narratives of seventeenth and eighteenth centuries on India

1.15 – 1.30: Discussion

Parallel Business Session (Geography Conference Room, 3rd Floor)

Chair: Prof. Supriya Chaudhuri (Emerita), Department of English, Jadavpur University

12.25 – 12.55: Prof. John Hutnyk, Social Research and Cultural Studies, National Chiao Tung University, Taiwan

Marx reading despatches from India

12.55 – 1.15: Ms. Janani Kalyani Venkataraman, Department of French, The English and Foreign Languages University, Hyderabad

Sati resolved –representation of Indian widows in French plays in the 18th and early 19th century

1.15 – 1.30: Discussion

1.30 – 2.30: LUNCH

Business Session 2 (Charu Chandra Roy Memorial Hall, 1st Floor)


Chair: Prof. Jayati Gupta, Tagore National Fellow for Cultural Research


2.30 – 3.00: Prof. Supriya Chaudhuri (Emerita), Department of English, Jadavpur University

Desiring Bengal: Trade, culture, and the first English traveller to eastern India

3.00 – 3.30: Dr. Anna Becker, Department of History, University of Basel, Switzerland

The Mughal Regime and Female Bodies in 17th Century English Political Thought

3.30 – 3.45: Discussion

Parallel Business Session (Geography Conference Room, 3rd Floor)

Chair: Dr. Arpita Chattoraj Mukhopadhyay, Department of English, Burdwan University

2.30 – 2.50:Mr. Ariktam Chatterjee, Department of English, Govt. General Degree College, Singur, Ph.D. Scholar, Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, Calcutta


Hindu Pantheon in London and a deported Sacred Thread: Instances problematising representation of India in the memoirs of British Baptist Missionaries


2.50 – 3.10: Dr. Swati Dasgupta, French Section, Dept. of Germanic & Romance Studies, University of Delhi

Women in the Indian Revolt of 1857

3.10 – 3.30: Dr. Sudipta Chakraborty, Department of English, Sreegopal Banerjee College, Hooghly

Crime and Empire: Colonial Imaginings and the Thuggee in Early Nineteenth Century British India

3.30 – 3.40: Discussion

3.40 – 4.10: Visit to the Exhibition at Institut de Chandernagor and Coffee

19 January 2016

10.30 – 11.00: Registration and Tea

Business Session 3 (Charu Chandra Roy Memorial Hall, 1st Floor)

Chair: Prof. John Hutnyk, Social Research and Cultural Studies, National Chiao Tung University, Taiwan

11.00 – 11.30: Prof. Jayati Gupta, Tagore National Fellow for Cultural Research


The Travels and Travails of Indigo in Bengal: Anglo-French Rivalry in the early Nineteenth

Century Context


11.30 – 12.00: Dr. Romita Ray, Department of Art and Music Histories, Syracuse University, USA


Canton to Calcutta? Tea and Eighteenth-Century Encounters in the Colonial Metropolis

12.00 – 12.20: Dr. Niranjan Goswami, Department of English, Chandernagore College

Diamonds, Spices and Brahmins: Locating Culture in Tavernier’s Narrative of Desire

12.20 – 12.50: Dr. Jyoti Mohan, Department of History and Geography, Morgan State University, USA – L’Inde historique

12.50 – 1.05: Discussion

Parallel Business Session (Geography Conference Room, 3rd Floor)

Chair: Prof. Rila Mukherjee, Department of History, University of Hyderabad

11.00 – 11.30: Dr. Abhijit Gupta, Department of English, Jadavpur University
A Case of Identity: Madame Grand of Chandernagore

11.30 – 11.50: Ms. Rita Chatterjee, Department of English, Maharani Kasiswari College, Kolkata, PhD Scholar, Centre for Studies in Social Sciences

Blurred boundaries and travelling identities: a reading of Eliza Fay’s original letters from   India: containing a narrative of a journey through Egypt   and the author’s imprisonment at Calicut by Hyder Ali (1779-1815).

11.50 – 12.10: Ms. Michelle Karunakaran, MPhil/PhD Scholar, English, JNU, Delhi

Voltaire on Indian philosophy: early chapter in the history of French Orientalism

12.10 – 12.40: Prof. Richard Wrigley, Department of History of Art, University of Nottingham, UK

Promenade and perception: on the status of flânerie in 18th- and 19th-century writing on India

12.40 – 1.05: Discussion

1.05 – 2.00: LUNCH

Business Session 4 (Charu Chandra Roy Memorial Hall, 1st Floor)

Chair: Prof. Richard Wrigley, Department of History of Art, University of Nottingham, UK

2.00 – 2.20: Dr. Abin Chakraborty, Department of English, Chandernagore College

“Crack mee this nut, all ye Papall charitie vaunters”: Reading the Narratives and Letters of Thomas Coryat

2.20 – 2.40: Mr. Pinaki De, Department of English, Raja Peary Mohan College, Uttarpara

Tints and Tones: (Dis)orienting Oriental Scenery

2.40 – 3.00: Ms. Soumya Goswamy, Department of History, Chandernagore College

Colonial writings and the agenda of understanding Indian classical music


3.00 – 3.15: Coffee

3.15 – 4.00: Valedictory and Vote of Thanks (Charu Chandra Roy Memorial Hall, 1st Floor)