Good Muslim, Bad Muslim

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By AMITA KANEKAR

 

In the furor that followed the renaming of New Delhi’s Aurangzeb Road, the long dead emperor has been enjoying some of the best press he has had for the past 100 years. While there were some critics who still clung to his standard demonical image, saying that the renaming has just given an evil man unnecessary publicity, or that there are even worse characters gracing Delhi roads, quite a few appear to have realised that he was not as bad as all that.

 

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A Re-Look at the Deccan of the 16th Century

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By AMITA KANEKAR

 

The 16th century, so important in the history of Goa, was a complex and turbulent time for the whole of the Deccan. Its history, including architectural history, is however often looked at only through the prism of religious relations and divides; ‘Hindu architecture’ and ‘Muslim architecture’ are terms still in use in popular writing and college courses. Richard M. Eaton and Phillip B. Wagoner have made a valiant attempt to get beyond these simplistic divisions with their new book, ‘Power, Memory and Architecture: Contested Sites on India’s Deccan Plateau, 1300-1600’ (OUP, 2014), which is a study of the syncretic and historicist approach to architecture in sixteenth-century Deccan.

 

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Ironies of history: October 14 and the Jains of Palitana

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By AMITA KANEKAR

 

October 14 was the anniversary of the conversion of Dr Ambedkar and 5 million others, mainly Dalits, to Buddhism in 1956. And not the Buddhism of monastery-based ritualism, nor the self-focussed meditation so fashionable nowadays, but a socially revolutionary ideology committed to the struggle against caste. A Buddhism that is much closer to the original, if one goes by the works of scholars like the Kosambis, Kancha Ilaiah, Romila Thapar, and Ambedkar himself.

 

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The Name of Sant Sohirobanath

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By AMITA KANEKAR

 

The recent renaming of the Government College of Pernem, as the Sant Sohirobanath Ambiye College of Art and Commerce, throws up several issues. Jason Keith Fernandes discussed some a few days ago (‘Sant Sohirobanath and the Secular Death’), including how this use of the name of a Hindu and Saraswat religious figure for a government institution is both an attack on secularism and a continuing of the hegemony of the Saraswat caste in public spaces in Goa, thereby identifying the ‘true’ Goan as a Saraswat.

 

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What Government Demolishes Homes in the Pouring Rain?

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By AMITA KANEKAR

 

What kind of government demolishes homes in the pouring rain? A government that is confident that the chattering classes will not be bothered. It is not only the Parrikar government that is to be condemned for an attack on the very lives of people, especially the aged, ill, and children among them, whose houses were recently bulldozed in Baina, Vasco, during the downpours of July. One child in Baina was 6 days old, according to a newspaper report, just home for the first time from the Chicalim nursing home, when his house was demolished. Now his mother, weak after a tough delivery, is ill and cannot care for the baby who huddles in his grandmother’s arms under a tarpaulin sheet.

 

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Sardesai and the Progress of Casteism

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By AMITA KANEKAR

 

Flinging some rice around is a practice fairly common in South Asian weddings. But recently at a GSB wedding in Goa, I was witness to a new and bigger ritual of waste, in which rice was repeatedly poured over the heads of a number of GSB couples seated in a line; the poured rice resulted in messy heaps trodden underfoot all around. When I expressed disgust at the waste of grain, a GSB friend was quick with reassurance: don’t worry, the sweepers will take it home later. It’s never wasted.

 

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“Yoga is for lazy people.”

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By AMITA KANEKAR

 

So declared Karnataka Social Welfare Minister H. Anjaneya (Indian Express, 18 June 2015) on the eve of Modi’s Yoga Day bash. Yoga was for people who are into lavish lifestyles and are otherwise lazy, the minister explained, adding that farmers, labourers and others who work hard do not need to worry about their health and remain physically and mentally fit. Children, he declared, should be encouraged to take up sports instead of yoga.

 

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