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The Art of Campus Protest

Photographs by Sreedeep
Text by Atul Mishra

At the Jawaharlal Nehru University campus in New Delhi, politics has always had this ‘in your face’ quality. Apart from the ‘line’ that student groups – radical left, centre-left, socialist or rightist – push, it is the art that stares at you from its walls which leaves an immediate and deep impress.

As the intent of the posters is to communicate political messages, they in effect provide a check list of themes that animate students at any given time.

Given the traditional dominance of the left and progressive politics, resistance to ‘neo-liberalism’ has been a constant theme over the past three decades – from the time of Deng, Reagan and Thatcher, all the way down to the advent of ‘Manmohanomics’ and now ‘Modinomics’.

Scholars and student activists at the university campus have resisted this ideology through their writings, protest marches and through art. In fact, intensely political and delightfully subversive art has been a most effective medium of contesting the growing de-politicisation of India’s public – political and social – spheres. Art has also bee used to challenge the idea that that lack of governance – not the absence of justice – is the malaise that the country suffers from, which can  be rooted out only by running the country like a corporation, for corporations.

#Shame #India " data-image-description="<h1 id="title"></h1> <p>Reported by <a href="">Siddharth Ranjan Das</a>, Edited by <a href="">Amit Chaturvedi</a> | Updated: September 07, 2012 11:00 IST</p> <div></div> <div></div> <div id="storywrap"> <div id="inside_mainpic"> <div id="story_pic"> <p><img src="" alt="" /></p> <p><img src="" alt="PLAY" />Click to Expand &amp; Play</p> </div> </div> <div id="storycontent"><strong>Bhopal: </strong>In <a class="zem_slink" title="Madhya Pradesh" href=",72.54&amp;spn=1.0,1.0&amp;q=22.42,72.54 (Madhya%20Pradesh)&amp;t=h" rel="geolocation" target="_blank">Madhya Pradesh</a>‘s <a class="zem_slink" title="Khandwa" href=",76.33&amp;spn=1.0,1.0&amp;q=21.83,76.33 (Khandwa)&amp;t=h" rel="geolocation" target="_blank">Khandwa</a> area, 51 people stayed immersed in water for the 14th day today in what’s being called a ‘jal satyagraha’. The protesters are demanding compensation and rehabilitation for villagers whose homes will be submerged under water after the state government’s order of opening all the gates of the <a class="zem_slink" title="Omkareshwar" href=",79.1516666667&amp;spn=0.01,0.01&amp;q=22.2497222222,79.1516666667 (Omkareshwar)&amp;t=h" rel="geolocation" target="_blank">Omkareshwar</a> dam in Madhya Pradesh.</p> <p>With <a class="zem_slink" title="Narmada River" href=",74.9&amp;spn=1.0,1.0&amp;q=22.08,74.9 (Narmada%20River)&amp;t=h" rel="geolocation" target="_blank">Narmada</a> flowing above the danger levels, the government has little choice. However, the protesters, members of the ‘<a class="zem_slink" title="Narmada Bachao Andolan" href="" rel="wikipedia" target="_blank">Narmada Bachao Andolan</a>‘, say the government’s decision to increase the <a class="zem_slink" title="Water level" href="" rel="wikipedia" target="_blank">water level</a> of the Omkareshwar on the Narmada without rehabilitating people living in low lying villages is a violation of a Supreme <a class="zem_slink" title="Court order" href="" rel="wikipedia" target="_blank">Court order</a>, which says villagers must be rehabilitated at least six months before such a move is implemented.</p> <p>“Till the time water level comes down to 189 metres and as per court orders we get our 5 acre land, and labourers get Rs. 2.5 lakh, we will die but we will sit here,” said one of the protesters.</p> <p>For 14 days, these men and women have been in water and this unique protest is beginning to tell on their health.</p> <p>“In the water, fishes and crabs are biting us, our skin is affected and it is raining also,” said a protester.</p> <p>A local delegation of <a class="zem_slink" title="Communist Party of India (Marxist)" href=",77.2049722222&amp;spn=0.01,0.01&amp;q=28.6315555556,77.2049722222 (Communist%20Party%20of%20India%20%28Marxist%29)&amp;t=h" rel="geolocation" target="_blank">CPIM</a> met these protesters and the Congress MP from this area, Arun Yadav, paid them a visit today. But these protesters are angry over the fact that no one from the ruling BJP government has come and met them. They say the government is totally ignoring them.</p> <p>“We are very angry… the government has turned a blind eye towards us. The government is deaf and dumb. All we want is the water level to be decreased, and that too by just one-and-a-half metre. And compensation for our land. Is it too much to ask for?” said a woman protester.</p> <p>The local authorities had visited the area and assured all help in their capacity, but the situation on the ground has not changed yet.</p> <p>“Well, I think the government has no choice but to listen. And if it doesn’t, there are going to be very serious consequences because there are some people in neck-deep water and some response has to be made, both on democratic ground and humanitarian ground. You can’t let people just drown, and I think it’s imperative that the government respond immediately to the demands of these people,” said <a class="zem_slink" title="Aruna Roy" href="" rel="wikipedia" target="_blank">Aruna Roy</a>, member of the <a class="zem_slink" title="National Advisory Council" href="" rel="homepage" target="_blank">National Advisory Council</a> (NAC).</p> <p>The water of the Omkareshwar dam has already risen to 190.5 meters and its effects can been seen in Ghogal, Kaamankheda and 30 other villages, where crops have been damaged.</p> <p>Underneath the water, there is a 20-feet bridge but people are being forced to use boats to reach the other side; the water has also destroyed crops.</p> <p>“Our farmland is on the other side. That is not in low-lying area but from here, we are facing great difficulty going there,” said Deven Puri, a farmer in Kamankheda.</p> <p>Since August 25, these 51 protesters are on a jal satyagraha and so far the district level authorities have agreed to give to some of their demands which is in their capacity. But these do not include two of their main demands – that water level of the dam be reduced to 189 metres and proper implementation of the land for land compensation. The protesters are hell bent that till the Madhya Pradesh government does not agree to their two main demands, they will not come out of water.</p></div> <div></div> <div><a href="">PL SIGN ONLINE PETITION HERE</a></div> </div> <h6 class="zemanta-related-title" style="font-size:1em;">Related articles</h6> <ul class="zemanta-article-ul"> <li class="zemanta-article-ul-li"><a href="" target="_blank">10th day of Jal Satyagraha – Video Appeal #OmkareshwarDam</a> (</li> <li class="zemanta-article-ul-li"><a href="" target="_blank">No end to water protest in Madhya Pradesh #Omkeshwardam</a> (</li> <li class="zemanta-article-ul-li"><a href="" target="_blank">UPDATE- Omkareshwar and Indira Sagar Dam and jal satyagrah #mustshare</a> (</li> <li class="zemanta-article-ul-li"><a href="" target="_blank">IMMEDIATE RELEASE-1000s from 250 VILLAGES OF 10 DISTRICTS support oustees #mustshare</a> (</li> </ul> " data-medium-file="" data-large-file="" class="aligncenter wp-image-19924" src="" alt="JNU campus poster 3" width="763" height="581" />

Many of the posters in this gallery highlight and critique the negative impact of neo-liberal policies across India: the rising cost and privatisation of higher education, the existence of crony capitalism, the media’s unquestioning deference to the political establishment,among others. One poster shows the prime minister wearing a crown and walking triumphantly, a white train attached to his shirt at the back, bearing the logos of various TV news channels. Hidden behind the billowing white train are instances of violence and arson – ‘white-washing’, according to the concerned student group, major human rights abuses with which his name has been associated.

JNU poster 12

JNU poster 11

Other posters depict the ever-widening gap between rich and poor; the impact of the neo-liberal model of development on the human and natural environments; and regressive social practices that continue to stigmatise the lower castes, the ‘untouchables’ and women, often at the cost of their lives.

#goodnews</a> (</li> <li class="zemanta-article-ul-li"><a href="" target="_blank">No plan to shut down Lanjigarh refinery, says VAL MD #Vedanta</a> (</li> <li class="zemanta-article-ul-li"><a href="" target="_blank">Coalgate’ Stained #VEDANTA Faces Protest in Goa and London</a> (</li> <li class="zemanta-article-ul-li"><a href="" target="_blank">India: Vedanta’s human rights promises ‘meaningless and hollow’</a> (</li> <li class="zemanta-article-ul-li"><a href="" target="_blank">Foil Vedanta &amp; The Carnival of Dirt #Mustread</a> (</li> <li class="zemanta-article-ul-li"><a href="" target="_blank">Mining giant Vedanta’s AGM under siege over rights abuses</a> (</li> </ul> <p>&nbsp;</p> " data-medium-file="" data-large-file="" class="wp-image-19926" src="" alt="JNU campus poster 6" width="753" height="501" />

An example of an anti-left poster.

Apart from the sea of progressive posters, there are some by non-Left student groups as well. One of their pet themes over the years has been the failure of communist ideology and the crimes of various socialist regimes. In terms of polemical impact, however, they tend to lack the sharpness of their leftist rivals.

#Vaw #Gender #Justice</a> (</li> <li class="zemanta-article-ul-li"><a href="" target="_blank">Why Justice Bhaktavatsala’s homilies are no better than TV serials #VAW #gender #justice</a> (</li> <li class="zemanta-article-ul-li"><a href="" target="_blank">HC judge tells abused wife to ‘adjust’ #WTFnews</a> (</li> <li class="zemanta-article-ul-li"><a href="" target="_blank">Women suffer in marriages, why talk about beating: Judge #Vaw #Gender #Justice</a> (</li> </ul> <p>&nbsp;</p> " data-medium-file="" data-large-file="" class="wp-image-19923 alignleft" src="" alt="JNU campus poster 2" width="337" height="607" />

Among international issues covered by these posters, the exploits of the American ‘empire’ is the dominant theme. These posters imaginatively use the text of revolutionary poetry of well-known figures such as Bertolt Brecht or less known ones like Gorakh Pandey with images. Statements made by public intellectuals such as Noam Chomsky are also used as a vital base for messaging. In all the posters, the satire is relentless, the mood unceasingly hopeful and the message uncompromisingly political, namely that social forces are the agents of political change and this is only form of change that really matters to us moderns. #censorship #Foe " data-image-description="<p><a class="zem_slink" title="New Delhi" href="" rel="wikipedia" target="_blank">New Delhi</a> | Agency: PTI</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <div id="google_ads_div_report_ml_200x200_ad_wrapper"> <div id="google_ads_div_report_ml_200x200_ad_container"><img src="" alt="" /></div> </div> <p>Voicing concern over deterioration of the communal situation in the country, <a class="zem_slink" title="Manmohan Singh" href="" rel="homepage" target="_blank">Prime Minister Manmohan Singh</a> today said the use of <a class="zem_slink" title="Social media" href="" rel="wikinvest" target="_blank">social media</a> and other mode of communication to aggravate such tension is posing a new challenge.</p> <p>“Increase in communal incidents in the country in the past few months and the revival of ethnic tensions in the North East in recent weeks have been particular causes of concern to all of us,” he said addressing the annual DGPs/IGPs conference here.</p> <p>Singh said ethnic disturbances of the North East assumed a national dimension with the flight of people belonging to the region from various towns of South and <a class="zem_slink" title="West India" href="" rel="wikipedia" target="_blank">Western India</a>. “This further strained the communal situation in the country, which was already showing some signs of deterioration, particularly in the states of <a class="zem_slink" title="Uttar Pradesh" href=",80.91&amp;spn=1.0,1.0&amp;q=26.85,80.91 (Uttar%20Pradesh)&amp;t=h" rel="geolocation" target="_blank">Uttar Pradesh</a>, <a class="zem_slink" title="Madhya Pradesh" href=",72.54&amp;spn=1.0,1.0&amp;q=22.42,72.54 (Madhya%20Pradesh)&amp;t=h" rel="geolocation" target="_blank">Madhya Pradesh</a>, <a class="zem_slink" title="Maharashtra" href=",72.82&amp;spn=1.0,1.0&amp;q=18.96,72.82 (Maharashtra)&amp;t=h" rel="geolocation" target="_blank">Maharashtra</a>, <a class="zem_slink" title="Karnataka" href=",77.56029&amp;spn=1.0,1.0&amp;q=12.970214,77.56029 (Karnataka)&amp;t=h" rel="geolocation" target="_blank">Karnataka</a> and Kerala,” he said.</p> <p>The Prime Minister said use of bulk SMSes and social media to aggravate the communal situation was a new challenge that the recent disturbances have thrown before the country. “We need to fully understand how these new media are used by miscreants. We also need to devise strategies to counter the propaganda that is carried out by these new means,” he said.</p> <p><strong>Singh, however, cautioned that any measure to control the use of such media must be carefully weighed against the need for the freedom to express and communicate.</strong></p> <p>“I am sure that in the coming months our police forces would be able to work out effective strategies to deal with these tendencies,” he said. The Prime Minister said ethnic, religious and cultural diversity in our country is a source of strength and vitality to India and efforts must be taken to strengthen the thread of unity running through country’s “variegated societal landscape”.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> " data-medium-file="" data-large-file="" class="alignright wp-image-19928" src="" alt="JNU campus poster 8" width="649" height="430" />

#Naiduniya #Chhattisgarh #paidmedia" data-image-description="<p><a href=""><img class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-6961" title="VAW" src="" alt="" width="225" height="300" /></a></p> <p><strong>No english daily, national  , or even a channel ? has covered this #paidmedia</strong></p> <p><strong>One english paper-  HITAVAD covered it</strong></p> <p><a href=""><img class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-7421" title="hitavad" src="" alt="" width="480" height="360" /></a></p> <p><strong> The front-page of <a class="zem_slink" title="Standard Hindi" href="" rel="wikipedia" target="_blank">Hindi</a> Newspaper, Nai duniya , <a class="zem_slink" title="Chhattisgarh" href=",81.6&amp;spn=1.0,1.0&amp;q=21.27,81.6 (Chhattisgarh)&amp;t=h" rel="geolocation" target="_blank">Chhattisgarh</a> edition today informs that a 13 year old  , sukmadi vadhda, <strong> abujhmadiya a primitive tribal girl  from narayanpur, chhattisgarh, who was burnt alive by a jain <a class="zem_slink" title="Family (biology)" href="" rel="wikipedia" target="_blank">family</a> early this month might have been <a class="zem_slink" title="Rape" href="" rel="wikipedia" target="_blank">raped</a> .</strong></strong><strong>Post mortem report reveals that   there is a possibility that 13 years old   girl,was raped before  burning her alive by a Jain family.<strong>But the <a title="Autopsy" href="" rel="wikipedia" target="_blank">post mortem</a> report does not reveal all, and will   be sent to  <a title="Forensic science" href="" rel="wikipedia" target="_blank">forensic  science</a> laboratory  in <a class="zem_slink" title="Raipur" href="" rel="wikipedia" target="_blank">Raipur</a> f or confirmation of <a title="Sexual assault" href="" rel="wikipedia" target="_blank">sexual assault</a>. </strong> </strong></p> <p><strong>On september 2,  the district court  judge ordered all the  family members of the Jain  family ,  Praful <a class="zem_slink" title="Jainism" href="" rel="wikipedia" target="_blank">Jain</a>, Prabha Jain, Pintu Jain  to 15 days  <a class="zem_slink" title="Detention (imprisonment)" href="" rel="wikipedia" target="_blank">judicial custody</a> under  IPC  Sec 302 and also have registered a case under the Atrocities act . </strong></p> <p><a href=""><img class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-7415" title="naiduniya" src="" alt="" width="293" height="626" /></a></p> <p><strong>WHAT MADE <a class="zem_slink" title="Google News" href="" rel="homepage" target="_blank">NEWS</a> IN ENGLISH MEDIA IS FOLLOWS,- A LABORER RAPING HIS DAUGHTER, BUT A JAIN FAMILY BURNINGA TRIBAL GIRL NOT NEWS ?</strong></p> <p>13-yr-old girl raped, set on fire by father HT Correspondent, <a class="zem_slink" title="Hindustan Times" href="" rel="homepage" target="_blank">Hindustan Times</a><br /> Raipur, September 07, 2012</p> <p>A thirteen-year-old girl was repeatedly raped by her father, a daily wage earner, for two weeks and then set ablaze by him and left to die on the outskirts of the Chhattisgarh capital recently.</p> <p>The girl was raped after her mother, also a daily wage earner, left the house after frequent squabbles with her husband.</p> <p>Neighbours took the victim to a government hospital, where she is being treated for nearly 60% burn.</p> <p>Doctors attending on the girl told HT she was out of danger but the traumatised girl was at a loss to fathom why her mother left her to the mercy of her father who not only raped her but tried to kill her as well.</p> <p>The mother rushed to the hospital on learning about her daughter’s agony but seemed to be too shocked to speak to HT. She just said she would never forgive herself for leaving her daughter behind.</p> <p>City superintendent of police Neeraj Chandrakar said, “The father has been booked for rape, attempt to murder and criminal assault. The girl narrated her ordeal in a statement, saying that she was raped for over two weeks after her mother went away from the family. The father tried to burn and kill her.”</p> " data-medium-file="" data-large-file="" class="aligncenter wp-image-19927" src="" alt="JNU campus poster 7" width="763" height="440" />The influence of various artistic traditions can be glimpsed in the posters.For instance, the socialist realism of Soviet Russia is hard to miss.  Many posters, in order to give more depth and dimensions to their subjects, experiment with what appears to be a variant of Cubism The ones experimenting with  cartoons are fewer and less impressive. All this may suggest a mid-20th century idea of political art but it is substantive nevertheless.

The posters have a larger purpose of socialising students into becoming progressive political actors as well. They complement the efforts of the student political groups to enrol new recruits by expressing the nature of their politics: the more radical the ideology, the more subversive and bold the posters. The political posters are one of the key elements of JNU’s cultural milieu and they seem to suggest that art divorced from political intent is useless.

As expected, the posters generate mixed feelings among viewers.Visitors from the West are often amazed at the intensity of campus politics conveyed through them. Over the years, many speakers at JNU conferences have begun their speeches by mentioning how struck they were by the posters. Some have been appreciative, others have been amazed that the posters  are tolerated by the authorities. Still others have wondered if they are not just rhetorical flourishes defacing the walls of a prestigious public institution. Such reactions notwithstanding, the posters at the JNU campus continue to do what they are expected to do: make students politically conscious and so confront the Indian iteration of the global ‘anti-politics machine’, namely the neo-liberal model of development, thereby keeping alive the legacy of an idea of India that brought this modern nation into being.

Atul Mishra and Sreedep hold doctoral degrees from JNU. Mishra is a political scientist based in Gandhinagar, Gujarat.  Sreedeep is a Fellow at the Centre for Public Affairs and Critical Theory, Shiv Nadar University

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