Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Morales, Imperialism and Z

Evo Morales has finally assumed power in Bolivia today, raising hopes of eight million Bolivians (including 75% of Indian origin), who have bore the brunt of neoliberal policies the past fifteen years.

Prof Aijaz Ahmad, who currently is the Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan Chair at Jamia Millia Islamia, and is a regular contributor to the Frontline, apart from being the author of "Iraq, Afghanistan and the Imperialism of our time" writes a eloquent two-part article on the significance of Morales' coming to power in Bolivia and what it means to the project of socialism that he has rhetorically embarked upon.

Prof Ahmad, answers in his article, the very questions that plagued my mind: a) Will Morales become a Chavez/ Castro or would he become a moderate like Lula in Brazil? b) What does Morales' coming to power mean : Is the US' hold over the South American continent waning? or doesn't the US consider doing an Allende on Chavez/ Morales an option anymore? c) What are the causes of the rise of the Left in Latin America and what is the forthcoming impact on the projects of neoliberalism that was thrust upon the continent as if it were a laboratory?

The most intriguing aspect of Prof Ahmad's article is his comment on the current ideological struggle on the strands of communism vs Trotskyism, as to what is the right path toward the transition to socialism. This made me ponder about what exactly was the role of resistance toward neo-liberalism in India itself and which ideological influence and strategy was more worthwhile and elaborate in achieving the requisite goal.

The CPI(M) meanwhile is holding 24rth of January as an "Anti-Imperialist Day", trying to sensitize Indian citizens against US imperialism; particularly profoundly seen in the war in Iraq, Afghanistan and the impending crisis of conflict in Iran, Syria and North Korea.

The important aspect of this particular event is the imperative to democratize foreign policy, in the sense that foreign policy is now being taken to the doors of the common citizens and debates are articulated as to what should India's approach be, to the forces of imperialism that prevail in the neo-liberal and the military senses. To personalise this thought, I was part of a group of volunteers who were asked to distribute pamphlets condemning American occupation in Iraq and its plans to engage in Iran and Syria in the forthcoming future. Myself and a friend were doing this in ITO, a busy road sector in New Delhi, and to our amusement, we found that the response of the common man was bewildered curiousity about the issue. Nevertheless, the process of democratizing foreign policy and not relegating it merely to a cabal of few mandarins and few newspaper analysts (strategic analysts to be precise), has begun.

In this context, a movie titled, "Z", was screened in JNU yesterday. The movie was about the collusion by the police, right wing fascists and the government in Greece in the murder of a leftist-liberal political leader campaigning for issues that included disarmament. The movie (which is in French) moves on a fast pace, and alludes to the influence of the USA as an instigator of the right wing conspiracy. I was immediately reminded by "JFK", where the unknown Black Ops military unit commander says the same thing about how the CIA toppled the Mohammed Mossadeh government in Iran and the entire Vietnam episode. I could correlate the movie with the multiple "coloured" revolutions taking place at Georgia and Ukraine, where popularly elected governments were removed by street demonstrations sponsored by American based organizations.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Aakrosh -- A complete Political Movie!

Very few movies made in India have a strong political content to it. Also, either the content is very latent and can easy be scooped up or it is underlying and has to be dug deep into, to retrieve it. In Aakrosh's case, the content is all over, the dynamics of caste-reality, class oppression, state oppression, etc are not just spread wafer thin over the movie but hang over the air densely.

At the same time, the movie has deep lying concepts, that of humiliation, dignity and self-respect, which have to be picked out by the discerning viewer. All-in-All, Aakrosh is a powerful film, and it is apt that actors of sublime talent have been casted in this masterpiece, directed by Govind Nihalani.

Aakrosh is about a trial of a tribal played powerfully by Om Puri, whose trial lawyer is played excellently by Naseeruddin Shah, who fights this case against his own mentor, the State Public Prosecutor, essayed by Amrish Puri.

Shah's role is as an uppercaste lawyer, who adheres to sincerity, work ethic, belief in the power of the law, which for him is benign. The lawyer believes that justice can be wrought out from the liberal institutions that have been established by the state, provided he acts out his role as the supporting hand. His incessant pleas to a recalcitrant, phlegmatic and silent, disbeliever in the law, the tribal played by Om Puri, show his sincerity. The tribal has been subjected to the worst iniquity of the rotten State. His wife has been brutalized by the Sarkari Doctor alongwith other cronies such as the venal Municipal Corporator, the corrupt Police In-charge and with the collusion of the casteist, exploitative Forest Contractor. The tragic thing is that the tribal is implicated for his wife's murder and he very nearly accepts it, for the sake of his father, sister and infant child's safety.

That, the entire organs of the State is responsible for the perpetration of injustice on the exploited Tribal people is very clear from this movie. What is to be filtered out is the nuantical statements that are hidden behind the tragic veneer.

The Public Prosecutor, is played by Amrish Puri. The prosecutor himself is from the Adivasi community, who has reached his position of eminence by dint of his work. Yet, he has "sanskritized" himself. He no longer empathises with his fellow community people and almost feels humiliated by reference to them. Inwardly he feels an inferiority complex within himself owing to his caste. Notice, his angry but silent acceptance of the taunts that he has to suffer on the telephone by crank callers who abuse him on his caste.

The lawyer played by Shah, meanwhile, is too much confident about the efficacy of the judicial system that has been set up with liberal intentions. He envisages that he can help, attain justice for the tribal. The Naxalite, who is working in the Tribal village, however, is not convinced. He taunts the lawyer as being yet another "petty bourgeois" person, incapable of fighting the contradictions in society.

The tribal, played by Puri, is the one whose condition is most tragic. He knows that he wouldn't get justice, all he is worried about is the condition of his family members. His father dies and he realizes that his sister can face the same harm that his deceased wife faced. For a tribal, dignity is paramount; justice comes secondary. He kills his sister with an axe, therefore. He lets out his anger in a bursting out cry where there is welled up frustration and anger, against the system, against the order of things, here, the State.

Aakrosh is a reminder of how the failure of the State and its institutions in its most rotten forms could result in complete injustice. Aakrosh shows the vulnerability of the most hinter lands of our country toward extra-state and extra-constitutional trends. A movie made in 1980, it is relevant even today. As the tribal areas of Chattisgarh, Jharkhand, Telengana are increasingly being held hostage by Naxalism, the question to be asked is why has this happened? Is it because of the debauchery and failure of the State institutions in these areas? What is required is urgent redressal of the situation.