COTTON FOR MY SHROUD (India 2011 75 min) – 26 May 2015 – plus ‘Damned’ 27/5/15 and ‘Candles in the Wind’ 28/5/15

You are invited to a unique free screening of this award-winning film, together with a Q&A session with the directors, Nandan Saxena and Kavita Bahl with John Hilary, Executive Director of War on Want.

Tuesday 26th of May 2015

Doors open at 7.00 Screening at 7.15 and the programme finishes at 9.30pm

First Floor, Conference Centre, Garden Court Chambers, 57-60 Lincoln Inn Field, London WC2A 3LJ

Book your place with Eventbrite

Watch the trailer here

This is a story about cotton farmers in the Vidarbha region of the Indian state of Maharashtra. The film investigates how Monsanto, in collusion with the government and politicians, promoted genetically modified Bt Cotton field trials amongst farmers. This was accompanied by propaganda about high yields and reduction in pesticide use.

Vulnerable farmers were enticed to take out loans in order to pay for the GM seeds and the exorbitant prices of pesticides and fertilisers. They found themselves trapped in heavy debt to the money lenders on the one side, with cotton merchants manipulating prices downwards on the other.

With poor yields and high costs, many farmers found themselves with a mountain of debt that they could never hope to repay. In despair, the only way out they could see was to put an end to their lives by drinking pesticide, leaving behind widows and orphans.

A quarter of million farmers have committed suicide in India. If we had a comparable number of middle class professionals committing suicide, the world would not be silent. The film depicts a heartless world where capital and its sibling debt kills daily.

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Myrdle Court Press, Invitation!

‘Dammed’
Screening & Discussion

Join us for a free screening of ‘Dammed’ followed by a discussion with the directors Nandan Saxena and Kavita Bahl.

Wednesday 27 May 6-8:30PM Unite Auditoriam 128 TheoBalds Road, WC1X 8TN London

“Dammed challenges the paradigm of development that assumes mega dams are critical to notions of progress”.

The film follows the Narmada struggle in 2012 when the NHDC (The Dam Corporation) raised the water level of Onkareshwar Dam, defying court orders.

The dreaded submergence was at hand. No alternate land, livelihood or compensation was provided. This was the last straw. In the face of this corpo-political apathy, the villagers of Khandwa in Madhya Pradesh resisted – sitting in the rising waters, submerged neck-deep for 17 days.
Join us to speak with the film-makers about this specific situation, along with a critical discussion on the politics of caste, privilege and image-making.

Watch the trailer

RSVP via FB.

Reserve free tickets via Eventbrite

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South Asia Solidarity Group invite you to a Film screening of the award-winning

‘Candles in the Wind’ (India 2014 52 min)

Followed by Q & A with the directors Nandan Saxena and Kavita Bahl

7.00pm Thursday 28 May
(doors open at 6.30pm)

Room V111, SOAS Vernon Square Campus,

Vernon Square, Penton Rise, WC1X 9EW

(nearest tube: King’s Cross)

Free (booking not required)

Punjab is known globally as the success-story of India’s Green Revolution. Popular cinema from Bollywood keeps this carefully cultivated image alive. This image is a mirage.

Behind the smokescreen of an idyllic Punjab, there is real smoke, from the smouldering pyres of the farmers who are driven to suicide by the debt burden due to high costs of seeds, fertilisers and pesticides set by the almighty corporations in collusion with the State.

With suicides of men spiralling, women are left to bear the burden of their debt, and the responsibilities of taking care of children, ageing parents and the chemically-abused fields.

‘Candles in the Wind’ witnesses the silent determination of these women to survive and struggle against the politics of domination. The film provides a unique insight into the effects of neoliberal globalisation on rural India and the socioeconomic flux which has accompanied it.

Watch the trailer for <a href="http://youtu.be/S__AsI0VKSc Candles in the Wind

Awards: Special Mention, 61st National Film Awards / India; John Abraham National Film Award for Best Documentary / SiGNS Film Festival / Kerala / 2014; Special Mention / IDSFFK / Trivandrum / 2014; Official Selection: Indian Panorama-2014, IFFI-Goa.

Nandan Saxena & Kavita Bahl are independent filmmakers and media trainers.
They received the National Award for Best Investigative Film at the National Film Awards (2011), for the film ‘Cotton for my shroud’. It was screened as ‘Headline Film’ at the World Investigative Film Week at London in 2013.
Almost two decades into filmmaking, they work in the genres of documentary and poetry films. Their oeuvre spans the domains of ecology, livelihoods, development and human rights.

Their most recent film ‘I cannot give you my Forest’ has been awarded the ‘Rajat Kamal’ for the Best Film in Environment, including Agriculture at the National Film Awards (For 2014).

Chris Bayly. RIP 1945-2015

I’ve been reading his Bazaar book this last few weeks (its long, and its in a library I where I have reading but not borrowing rights). It is very much on topic for my research in Serampore, even if I am not a huge fan of his history style, its certainly way better than the sort of Brit historian you see on the telly (on a spectrum where Bayly is closer to Hobsbawn while Niall Fergusan is closer to Portillo).

Bayly

Bayly’s books include; *The Local Roots of Indian Politics. Allahabad 1880-1920 (1975)

*Rulers, Townsmen and Bazaars. North Indian Society in the Age of British Expansion, 1780-1870 (1983)
*Indian Society and the Making of the British Empire (1988)
*Imperial Meridian. The British Empire and the World, 1780-1830 (1989)
*Empire and Information. Intelligence gathering and social communication in India 1780-1870 (1996)
*The Origins of Nationality in South Asia (1997)
*The Birth of the Modern World. Global Connections and Comparisons 1780-1914 (2004)
*Forgotten Armies. The Fall of British Asia 1941-45 with Dr Tim Harper (2004)
*Forgotten Wars: revolution and the end of empire in British Asia, 1945-55 with Dr Tim Harper (2008).
*Recovering Liberties. Indian thought in the age of liberalism and empire (2011)

*

Click on the pic for a short obit and a link to one of his talks

Travelling Archive #bengal #music

Here is a recording project by old friends from Bengal Moushumi Bhowmik and Sukanta Majumdar – recordings that deserve lingering listening. Its not a website to scan and leave, it is one to come back to, replay, languid like, I dunno, the river in the Ghatak films or something. Poingnant soundings from Bauls, Nazrul Fakir, other stuff. It deserves all support, as they ‘try to show Bengal as a complex/complicated place’…

See them in London at Rich Mix from 22 June to 5 July. In the meantime, listen below:

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Sai Baba hunger strike

Often spoken as our guest in London. It was always difficult to get him a visa, and/or permission from his college to visit, and their shabby treatment of him in relation to accommodation… Now this… [he is in prison for having links with Maoists allegedly, and for being a member of a proscribed terrorist organisation – see link http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/delhi/Delhi-University-professor-GN-Saibaba-arrested-for-alleged-Maoist-links/articleshow/34887926.cms to mainstream press. More as I get it]




POLITICAL PRISONER, G NAGA SAIBABA ON HUNGER STRIKE FROM SATURDAY, 11TH APRIL, 2015

Dr, G N Saibaba, Delhi University Professor, who has been in incarceration since 9th May, 2014 has commenced an indefinite hunger strike from 11-04-2015 demanding proper medical treatment and food, both of which are being denied to him by the authorities of the Nagpur Central Prison.

 Dr. Saibaba, who is presently lodged in the notorious Anda Barrack of the Nagpur Prison has been denied bail twice by the Sessions Court, Gadchiroli and once by the Nagpur Bench of Bombay High Court. 

In the last order by the Sessions Court dated 4th March, 2015 the Sessions Judge referred to the reports of the Superintendent and the Chief Medical Officer of the Nagpur Central Prison which, while admitting the delicate medical condition of Saibaba, stated that he was being treated at the Government Medical College Hospital as well as the Super Speciality Hospital in Nagpur and that they were providing food supplements as per his medical requirements. 

It was on the basis of such reports that bail on medical grounds was denied to Saibaba.

However, despite such claims by the prison authorities made before the court, the prison administration has not only continued to deny him proper medical treatment and food supplements, but also now even stopped certain items that were earlier allowed to him.

Faced with a situation of a steady deterioration in his health condition, Saibaba has decided to protest and has completely stopped taking food from Saturday.

His lawyers, who met him on Monday, 13th April, 2015, immediately submitted a memorandum to the DIG (Prisons) East Region, the prison authority under whose jurisdiction the Nagpur Prison falls. 

The official however merely received the memorandum and refused to respond to the issues raised by Saibaba. He did not even indicate any willingness to allow the essentials that the prison report to the court has stated that they were providing.

Immediate action is called for to protect the life of Dr. G N Saibaba and obtain his release.

 
 

 

Giraffes Africa-India-China – and other exchanges.

GiraffeValmik Thapar, in Exotic Aliens: The Lion and the Cheetah in India, reports that Jahangir was gifted a giraffe. Anand Yang in Bazaar India: Peasants, Traders, Markets in Bihar, reports that ruler of Bengal [it was Shihabuddin Bayazid Shah (reigned 1413–1414)] gifted a giraffe to the Chinese Emperor. What a gift to give, a giraffe! The gift of a giraffe by Bengal to the court of China in 1414. Got to also get hold of an article by Sally Church ‘The Giraffe of Bengal: A Medieval Encounter in Ming China’. I’m afraid I have little to add on this but awe. Giraffes! Even if I also know the trade in long necked beasts goes back some time before these Mughal exchanges with Africa – here, a photograph from Konark temple near Puri, 11 century C.E.

Meanwhile, I am also reading reading Murari Kumar Jha, 2013, The Political Economy of the Ganga River: Highway of State Formation in Mughal India, c. 1600-1800. Seeking out Danish smuggling/piracy back in the day…

fn 97 The first reference to opium purchase by the VOC at Patna come in the year 1652, see W. Ph. Coolhaas, ed., Generale Missiven van Gouverneurs-Generaal en Raden aan Heren XVII der Verenigde Oostindische Compagnie, vol. 2, 1639–1655 (’s-Gravenhage: Martinus Nijhoff, 1964), 622, Reniers, Maetsuyker, enz. VII, 24.12.1652. But even before the VOC started buying opium from Bihar, the Muslim merchants seems to have been purchasing this commodity for Southeast Asia. This becomes clear from the cargoes of one of the two ships which both were captured in 1649 by Leyel, a Danish commander, before they reached Balasore. The ship with opium was destined for Aceh, see Coolhaas, ed., Generale Missiven, 2:348–49, Van der Lijn, Caron, enz. VIII, 18.01.1649. In 1641 the VOC was already buying some opium at Surat for the Malabar Coast, see Coolhaas, ed., Generale Missiven, 2:145, Van Diemen, Van der Lijn, enz. XVII, 12.12.1641

Quid pro Quo – Subversive Festival, Zagreb (2nd vid)

Screen Shot 2014-10-26 at 14.39.22

My third talk in a series of three on capital was at the Subversive Festival in Zagreb. The second talk is here (Translating Capital in Context) and it makes sense to see the second talk first [the first one in Rijeka was not recorded, but was based on my text on Citizen Kane], not least because it will help explain why the conceit in this third talk has Marx relocated to India, which of course he was always deeply interested in, but he never went, only picking up bits of info, and some myths – eg the horror stories of Jagannath etc – from his wide-ranging and varied reading. I think it is justified to deploy Marx to Calcutta, at least in fantasy, though its true not even Engels took his father’s advice to go to Calcutta to start in business. The old boys were European bound, but this did not mean they did not seek out the revolution elsewhere.

What also should be mentioned (the parts here are – great job – edited and slightly reordered, and the opening by Bernard missed) is that in this talk I set out to look at three different moments. 1) the arrival of Clive in Calcutta after the ‘sham scandal’ of the Black Hole in 1756; 2) the first all-India war of Independence, the so-called ‘mutiny’ 100 years later and; 3) the quid pro quo return of originary capital to the site of the East India Company shipyard in London in present times, under the aegis of the Farrell’s development of Convoys’ Wharf, Deptford, for Hutchinson Whampoa.

I am slowly writing this out as a long, too long, chapter, so this version is pretty schematic, but you will get the drift of new work. Thanks for stopping by. Thanks also to the crew at Subversive, especially Karolina Hrga, and Bernard Koludrović who was chair.

Abstract:

“Marx writing on India is key to understanding Capital. My argument is that we can make sense of Marx today by examining his theoretical and journalistic work together, each informed by an emergent anthropology, by historical hermeneutics, by a critique of political economy and by attention to a global political contest that mattered more than philosophy. Marx reading history, already against the grain and without being able to make actual alliances, is nevertheless seeking allies in a revolutionary cause. Is it possible to observe Marx coming round to realise, after the shaping experience of the 1848-1852 European uprisings, the possibilities for the many different workers of the world to unite? I consider the sources Marx finds available, what he reads, and how his writing practice parses critical support as habitual politics, and how far subcontinental events, themes and allegories are a presence in the key moves of his masterwork Capital almost as if India were a refocused bromide for Europe, just as slavery is for wages. I will take up four cases – the ‘founding’ of Calcutta by Job Charnock (disputed); the story of Clive sacking Chandernagore and going on to defeat Suraj-ud-duala at Palashi/Plassey in 1757 in retaliation for the ‘Black Hole’ (did it exist?); Disraeli verbosely saying nothing about the so-called Indian ‘mutiny’ 1857 (‘the East as a career’); and the question of legalizing Opium in China and the advent of Matheson-Jardine Company after the East India Company comes to an end (‘quid pro quo’). All of this brings us back to the realities of global investment and regeneration in Europe today, as international capital returns to the port of London to redevelop the old East India Company shipyards in Deptford.”

15/5/2014, 21h, Cinema Europa, Zagreb, Croatia
John Hutnyk: Quid pro quo: the East as a career
7th Subversive festival: “Power and Freedom in the Time of Control”
Moderator: Bernard Koludrović