Finished reading "Unclaimed Harvest: An Oral History of the Tebhaga Women's Movement", by Kavita Punjabi:…

What a wonderful and haunting book. <thread>

As the name suggests, the book is about the Tebhaga Movement (1946 - 1948), which was a peasant-led movement in Bengal, demanding 2/3 of the harvest for the tiller.…

It eventually turned into an armed insurrection and was put down with force. (2/n)
Punjabi's focus is on the (prominent) role of women in the movement, which she reconstructs through oral interviews and testimonies, taken many years after it was over.

Through these testimonies, she shows how, through the movement, women articulated a vocabulary that allowed them to challenge existing patriarchal structures.

She also shows how women harnessed an idiom of care, and politicised it.

She shows how on many occasions, the role of women was instrumental in creating solidarities across class/caste/religious barriers, which otherwise would have been difficult - if not impossible - to construct.

The role of the undivided Communist Party was crucial here.

As was the role of the Communist Party in providing a space where these structures and barriers could be challenged in the first place (the word "solidarity" is central).

Lastly, she confronts the question of violence squarely, and indeed, women's own ambivalence.

Through the oral histories, some astonishing characters appear, such as Ila Mitra, who became a leader of the Santhals, came through custodial violence and torture, and eventually became an MLA.

Flawed, but also heroic in the true sense.

At the end we are left with a haunting sense of a movement fundamentally based on liberation and equality, but which - because of an imposed Party-line regarding armed struggle, which many in the movement disagreed with - collapsed.

Punjabi leaves us with a sense of the radical possibilities of such movements, but also with a sense of how often and easy it is for such movements to fail, and the fundamental question - did it matter? - remains unanswered.

All in all, recommend this book very much.

Read this book as part of readings for the history of the Indian Left, in the Kosambi Research and Analysis Circle. Contact @Anupam_Guha to join.

Also reinforces what @itihaasnaama says about the 40s and 50s being the most fascinating periods of recent Indian history. (10/10)

• • •

Missing some Tweet in this thread? You can try to force a refresh

Keep Current with Gautam Bhatia

Gautam Bhatia Profile picture

Stay in touch and get notified when new unrolls are available from this author!

Read all threads

This Thread may be Removed Anytime!


Twitter may remove this content at anytime! Save it as PDF for later use!

Try unrolling a thread yourself!

how to unroll video
  1. Follow @ThreadReaderApp to mention us!

  2. From a Twitter thread mention us with a keyword "unroll"
@threadreaderapp unroll

Practice here first or read more on our help page!

More from @gautambhatia88

3 Oct
Finished reading @aptshadow's The Doors of Eden. Whew. It's a really good book, and you should read it. A brief thread with some of my favourite passages (no spoilers):

"But this is still made landscape. We can never return it to what it was. The land is never still, and what we've made here cannot change and grow like a land should. It is a garden, but a garden is better than a wasteland."

"He was not good. He was good. He was not bad.

There are shades of qualities that your language does not accommodate. Between us there was not love or love but love. Love is pain sometimes. Sometimes pain is good ... complicated things."

Read 7 tweets
3 Oct
A quick note on phone tapping. It is, unfortunately, something that is left to the arbitrary discretion of the government, and at the root of this situation (unsurprisingly) is a bad Supreme Court judgment:

In PUCL v Union (1997), it was argued that, given the serious privacy issues involved, phone tapping cannot take place without judicial authorisation. Unfortunately, the Court did not agree, and instead laid down some guidelines, for bureaucratic authorisation.

To be honest, given the way magistrates mechanically allow remand applications and higher courts deny bail where fundamental issues of liberty are involved, I'm no longer confident that that would have made any difference, but that's another debate.

Read 7 tweets
27 Aug
Some thoughts on this deep dive by the @EconomicTimes into the making of the Data Protection Report (article unfortunately paywalled, but honestly, just this one alone is worth the subscription).…

@EconomicTimes When the Data Protection Report came out, many of us voiced concern about how surveillance reform was completely excluded.

Now it turns out that the same people who were drafting the Data Protection Report were also advising government on NATGRID.

@EconomicTimes And not to mention, had argued against the right to privacy in the Supreme Court.

You may have the best will in the world, but simultaneously advising the government on how to facilitate a national surveillance database, while drafting a data protection report...?

Read 8 tweets
26 Aug
1. For a while, some of us have been expressing concern about the role of private, unaccountable legal think tanks in framing important laws. These pieces in the Economic Times and in the Caravan exemplify these concerns.……

2. These pieces show how independent legal consultancy can become a guise for either pushing private interests behind closed doors, or facilitating the political executive in undermining rights.

3. It is important to stress that this is not about a clash of personalities or about any one set of people; but about an exclusionary process of law-making, riddled with secrecy and conflicts of interest.

Read 5 tweets
10 Aug
Re-reading Whom The Gods Love tonight, and is it even possible to get through this gorgeous prose without tearing up?
"Yes, I wish to die and I find it pleasant. I have lived my life. I have achieved some fame as a mathematician. I never hated anyone. I did no wrong, and it will be good to die.”

- last words of Lagrange
"The government tried to stop these arguments by dragging before the courts those who “threw contempt upon persons or things connected with religion.” Yet in most cases the accused were freed by the judges, after which their language became still more violent and abusive."
Read 19 tweets
8 Aug
The Supreme Court registry has zero transparency. There's never an explanation about why crucial civil rights matters never get listed (mob lynching, J&K contempt). Or why they go to judges who regularly hand down pro-executive rulings.

But guess what they're "in the dock" for?
It's good, though. Let it keep getting revealed how feudally this institution functions, with its "master of the roster".
Read 4 tweets

Did Thread Reader help you today?

Support us! We are indie developers!

This site is made by just two indie developers on a laptop doing marketing, support and development! Read more about the story.

Become a Premium Member ($3/month or $30/year) and get exclusive features!

Become Premium

Too expensive? Make a small donation by buying us coffee ($5) or help with server cost ($10)

Donate via Paypal Become our Patreon

Thank you for your support!

Follow Us on Twitter!