Reiterating the role of folk songs as a motivating force in the 1857 uprising, noted historians Tuesday urged scholars in India to carry out research on folk songs and publish books on the event. ‘During 1857 war, British rulers had put a blanket ban on all kinds of publications. Here folk songs especially played an yeoman’s role in spreading the message of revolt,’ noted historian Bipin Chandra said here.

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The 1907 Provincial Elections Amendment Act stated that no “Chinaman”, “Japanese”, “Hindu”, or “Indian” shall have his name placed on the register of voters for any electoral district, or be entitled to vote in any election. Hindu described any native of India not born of Anglo-Saxon parents. Earlier, the B.C. legislature had disenfranchised people of Chinese in 1872, and those of Japanese descent in 1895. These groups finally got the right to vote in 1947.

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I am not usually a great defender of United States policies, but I have to admit that in the field of right to information, the US is far ahead of the Indian babus who obstinately block access to Indian archives under the lame pretext that this could ‘endanger national security’. A few months ago, the Office of the Historian at the US State Department released Volume XI of the Foreign Relations of the United States devoted to the ‘South Asia Crisis, 1971’: in other words, the Bangladesh War.

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Dying in hordes, they still didn’t snatch the food to eat. You know why, Babu? Not one, not ten, but hundreds, hundreds of thousands, they went to their deaths. They stretched their hands to beg, tossed in the pain of hunger, they begged for the gruel drained off cooked rice to make it fluffy, they fought with stray dogs pawing through rotting dumps, but they did not put their hands to snatch food. Yet food was within their reach. Thus begins the story “chhiniye khaye ni keno?” (“Why didn’t they snatch food to eat?”), about the 1943 Bengal famine, written in the mid-forties by the celebrated Bengali writer Manik Bandyopadhyay.

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For the best part of a century, the British Raj sent Indian dissidents and mutineers to a remote island penal colony in an ‘experiment’ that involved torture, medical tests, forced labour and, for many, death. Cathy Scott-Clark and Adrian Levy have unearthed official records detailing the scandal, and heard first-hand accounts from those who survived.

(click here to read more from the Guardian)

“INDIA UNTOUCHED: Stories of a People Apart” – The 110 minutes long film (in Hindi, Bhojpuri, Gujarati, Punjabi, Tamil, Telugu and Malayalam, with English sub-titles) is perhaps the most comprehensive look at untouchability ever undertaken on film. Director Stalin K. spent four years traveling the length and breadth of the country to expose the continued oppression of Dalits, the ‘broken people’ who suffer under a 4,000 year-old religious system.

(click here to read more from Cuckoo’s Call)

Every few months we are witness to the imagined persecution of Gandhi. The latest is an advertisement for a credit card firm in South Africa where the Mahatma’s lips are shown moving to convey that he is speaking on behalf of the brand. The ad agency, getting all defensive, has come up with a ridiculous excuse: “Gandhi is featured alongside other icons who stood for fighting against injustice and for the rights of the man in the street.” What does the possession of a credit card have to do with justice? How many men in the street use plastic money? Predictably there have been protests, and these are even more ludicrous.

(click here to read more from Counter Currents)

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