Open letter to President Kovind

APJ Abdul Kalam as then President of India amidst Adivasi children at BR Hills on October 15, 2006 after his talk at VGKK tribal residential school campus in sharp contrast to President Kovind’s visit on October 7, 2021

Dear Mr President,

It was another October in the year 2006, when a vehicle bearing the national emblem instead of a license plate (as is the norm for vehicles transporting the President) stopped at B R Hills in Chamarajanagar district of southern Karnataka. It was an exciting time for the Solega people who were among those who welcomed him. And why not? It was after all their lands and forests that the (then) President was visiting, and it was with pride and anticipation that they received President Kalam. School girls from Vivekananda Girijana Kalyana Kendra (VGKK) school welcomed him. In complete breach of the blue book which is prescriptive of protocols and behaviours during Presidential visit replete with colonial referencing to visits by (then) royalty, President Kalam insisted on going everywhere that the local district administration had forbidden. He met patients at the tribal hospital that he inaugurated, shared thoughts in his speech on his vision for rural and remote areas, and later on hugged and was hugged by scores of Solega Adivasi children. As a doctor at the hospital, I watched in awe as he demonstrated his familiarity with the name of the local Adivasi community and asked me about the status of Sickle Cell Disease (known to be prevalent among several of these communities). He even naively promised that in a decade genetic engineering would find a treatment for it (which is not yet the case).

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Corona Maari/ಕೊರೊನ ಮಾರಿ

ಚೀನಾದಿಂದ ಎಲ್ಲ ದೇಶಕೂ

ಬಂದೇ ಬಿಡ್ತು ಕೊರೊನ ಮಾರಿ

ಎಲ್ಲ ಮಾಯಾ ನಾಳೆ ನಾವೂ ಮಾಯಾ

ಎಲ್ಲ ಮಾಯಾ ನಾಳೆ ನೀವೂ ಮಾಯಾ

BASAVARAJU, A SOLIGA/ADIVASI POET & THEATRE ARTIST FROM YERAKANA GADDE, BR HILLS
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Tukde Tukde hum nahin, tumhara tootna mumkin hai

टुकड़े टुकड़े हम नहीं, तुम्हारा टूटना मुमकिन है
– उमेश श्रिनिवसन

यह जो बैर के पहाड़ खड़े किए हैं तुमने
सोचा होगा के हैं हिमालय से भी बुलंद
हम नहीं जियेंगे इनके साए में
नफ़रत के टुकड़े कर देंगे

टुकड़े टुकड़े हम नहीं, तुम्हारा टूटना मुमकिन है

जाओ रेंगते उसी गुफाह में
जहाँ से साँप बनकर निकले हो
तुम्हारा ज़हेर ना होगा हमसे हज़म
आतंकवाद के टुकड़े कर देंगे

टुकड़े टुकड़े हम नहीं, तुम्हारा टूटना मुमकिन है

खून बहाया, मौत भी बाँटा
अब खामोशी में बर्दाश्त नहीं
ना होगा ख़त्म हमारे खून का कोष
भेदभाव के टुकड़े कर देंगे

यह टुकड़े टुकड़े हम नहीं, तुम्हारा टूटना मुमकिन है

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We’re not scared, not cowed…

Further to the lovely poetry and music that the recent protests across the country have been producing (see my recent post on Madara’s Tukde Tukde Kaun?), here’s two more that we ought to celebrate. The first one is (possibly) by Vishal Bharadwaj that he recited at the Carter Road protests at Bandra (Mumbai), that apparently also had several hundred Bollywood/TV personalities. And the second one further below is Sarfaroshi ki Tamanna by the poet Bismil Azimabadi, popularised in the Indian freedom struggle by another fellow Bismil, Ram Prasad Bismil. Both translations are by Umesh Srinivasan (email).

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An anthem for the times: Madara’s Tukde Tukde gang

Nothing like music to communicate the anger and passion which sparks within. As the year winds down and the anger runs high, hip-hop artist Rahul Negi, who raps under the name Madara has released what I think will find a huge following among the political churning ongoing among several young people in the country. The rap communicates what has been said in many ways in the last months to year: that a manipulative, divisive and malicious narrative of pitting people against one another will eventually be exposed for what it is.

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