Deepa Mehta will be screening her latest movie ‘The Anatomy of Violence’ on the sidelines of the India Conference. The screening will be followed by a Q&A session with Ms. Deepa Mehta, a UN representative, Harvard student activist Gulika Reddy, and Harvard Professor Jacqueline Bhabha
Celebrated filmmaker Deepa Mehta investigates one of India’s most notorious crimes — the 2012 gang rape and murder of a 23-year-old woman on a Delhi bus — in her angry, impassioned and essential new film.
In December 2012, a 23-year-old woman and her friend got on a private bus in Delhi. The men already on board — five passengers and the bus driver — gang-raped the woman, beat her friend, and threw them onto the street. The woman died of her injuries two weeks later. The case made worldwide news and was instrumental in activating Indian policy discussions about women’s rights and the government’s duty to prosecute for rape.
Deepa Mehta’s Anatomy of Violence takes a fearless approach to the topic. In collaboration with theatre artist Neelam Mansingh Chowdhry, Mehta worked improvisationally with her actors to envisage possible sociological and psychological backgrounds and pasts for the perpetrators and the victim. The film posits formative events in the men’s lives, imagining the origins of their violent, remorseless personalities, while presenting the woman’s life in parallel.
This event is free and open to the public. Seating will be first come first serve.
Sugata Bose,Gardiner Professor of Oceanic History and Affairs, Harvard University
Abhijit Banerjee, Ford Foundation International Professor of Economics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Screening of Mandir, masjid, mandal and Marx: Democracy in India(45 minutes)
The film, by Sugata Bose, Gardiner Professor of Oceanic History and Affairs, Harvard University, tells the story of the interaction of the people and their elected representatives in the plains carved out by India’s great river – the Ganga – flowing through three strategic states – Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal. Filmed in the course of a 1000-mile journey from Delhi to Calcutta during the turbulent general elections of 1991, it provides a rare glimpse into the role of religion, caste and communism in India’s democratic politics.
Screening of The strange case of the water that went up the great-grandfather’s arse and other stories of democracyby Abhijit Banerjee
Democracy is humanity’s bravest experiment. The idea that everyone–women and men, poor and rich, illiterate and educated–should be in charge of shaping the state and society they live in, is at once totally obvious and deeply radical. And yet, the lived experience of democracy is almost always disappointing. Corruption is often the rule and change is slow and difficult.
This film is about living this tension, through the eyes and voices of every day participants in the world’s largest democracy, India. Using unique footage that we shot in dozens of locations all over the country over eight years, with interviews with everyone from theorists to thugs (who are sometimes the same people), we document how profoundly the so-called bit-players in the democratic narrative—the often semi-literate voters, the local activists and the small-time leaders–have absorbed the democratic ethos. For all their cynicism and fear, it is for the poor, the marginalized and the powerless that the idea of democracy matters the most, what gives them the greatest hope for the future.
Combining animation, folk music and street plays with casual conversations at street corners, expert analyses and stump speeches, this is a documentary about a nation, a people and one extraordinary idea.
Shankar Ramaswami, Lecturer on South Asian Studies; Director of Undergraduate Studies, Harvard University
On 18th February 1983, from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm, more than 2000 Muslims were killed in the town of Nellie and its surrounding villages in Assam, India. People’s homes were burnt down and their fields destroyed. Most of those who died were old people, women and children. Till date the Nellie massacre, remains on the margins of India’s public history, and is virtually wiped out from the nation’s collective memory.
The documentary film What the Fields Remember revisits the massacre three decades later. From the survivors, Sirajuddin Ahmed and Abdul Khayer’s, retelling of the event, and their struggles of coping with loss and memories that refuse to fade away, the film attempts to explore ideas of violence, memory and justice. It also tries to understand how physical spaces that have witnessed the violence continue to mark people’s relationship to history and memory. What the Fields Remember also attempts to raise larger questions around collective memory – of what we choose to remember and why we choose to forget.
S. Nazrul Islam, Senior Economic Affairs Officer, Development Policy Analysis Division, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, United Nations
Chair: Prithwiraj Choudhury, Assistant Professor of Business Administration, Harvard Business School
Analyzing Bangladesh’s governance problems and drawing insights that will be relevant to other developing countries, this book sharpens our understanding of governance and suggests political and administrative reforms to improve governance and facilitate faster development.
Tarunabh Khaitan, Associate Professor and Hackney Fellow in Law, Wadham College, University of Oxford
Chair: Ajantha Subramanian, Professor of Anthropology and South Asian Studies, Harvard University
Borrowing and developing the concept from Ireland, framers of India’s Constitution inserted a chapter titled ‘directive principles of state policy’ in the founding document. They were a mix of principles aimed at securing what they called an ‘economic democracy’, some guarantees we now call ‘social rights’ and some other curiosities like an exhortation for prohibition and a ban on cow slaughter. These were directed at the political organs of the state and made expressly non-justiciable. Despite being derided by scholars and lawyers as ‘mere pious wishes’ and ‘design flaws’, and (largely) rejected by post-Apartheid South Africa after due consideration, they have been adopted by at least 24 constitutions in Asia and Africa, including very recently by the latest Nepalese Constitution of 2015. India’s cultural influence on these jurisdictions, mostly in the global South, does not seem to provide sufficient explanation for their continued popularity with constitution makers.
Most of the existing scholarship on directive principles has focused on how courts have used these principles, their non-justiciability notwithstanding. In this paper, Khaitanfocus on their political character. First, he uses India as a case-study to argue that directive principles are an important tool for successful constitution-making. He identifies the reasons why they became attractive to the framers of the Indian Constitution, and far from being mere pious wishes, they performed important and distinct political functions for the framers. Second, Khaitan shows that insofar as they impose political duties on the state, these duties have a conditional character: their substantive obligatory force becomes manifest only after certain preconditions inherent in reasons for their adoption as directive principles are satisfied. Extrapolating from these Indian findings, he speculates that non-justiciable conditional political duties have particular salience for postcolonial pluralistic societies in the global South seeking to establish a transformative constitutional culture.
Chair: Asad Ahmed,Associate Professor, Department of Anthropology, Harvard University
In September 2013, Muzaffarnagar and Shamli districts in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh witnessed a pogrom against local Muslim residents. More than 100 were killed and over 80,000 displaced. This film explores the social, political, and economic dynamics in a region that has historically seen relative harmony between Hindus and Muslims. What happened this time? The film cuts across multiple facets of violence that right-wing nationalism has wrought in north India: ‘honor’ politics, gender violence, caste and class polarization under the umbrella of Hindu-ness or Hindutva. The film also shows how non-Hindutva parties in the region play along with such polarizing rhetoric in the hopes of electoral windfalls in their favor.
In the midst of this violence, the film also narrates a growing resistance in Muzaffarnagar and Shamli, where the story has yet to be played out. ‘What will be the fate of Muzaffarnagar, eventually?’
Sawhney graduated from the Film and Television Institute of India in 2006. His films focus on labor, gender, and caste issues in north India.
Chair: Jacqueline Bhabha, FXB Director of Research; Professor of the Practice of Health and Human Rights, Harvard School of Public Health; Jeremiah Smith, Jr. Lecturer in Law, Harvard Law School; Adjunct Lecturer, Harvard Kennedy School
Join filmmaker Pankaj Butalia for a screening of his film “The Textures of Loss,” followed by a discussion on conflicts on the periphery of India, topics in his film trilogy that also includes “Manipur Song” and “Assam: On the edge of neglect.”
Two decades of violence in Kashmir has left the valley devastated. Every family silently nurses its deep wounds. Women have lost husbands, fathers, sons and brothers. Children grow up in an environment of deep depression and young men do not see any future for themselves. “The Textures of Loss” is an elegy to the wounded Kashmir valley. The loss of loved ones manifests itself not only in pain, but also in anger, somatic symptoms, paralysis and deadness. The film dwells on some of these responses.
Chair: Parimal G. Patil, Professor of Religion and Indian Philosophy, Committee on the Study of Religion, FAS, Chair of the Department of South Asian Studies
Final Solution is a study of the politics of hate. Set in Gujarat during the period Feb/March 2002 – July 2003, the film graphically documents the changing face of right-wing politics in India through a study of the 2002 genocide of Moslems in Gujarat. It specifically examines political tendencies reminiscient of the Nazi Germany of early/mid-1930s.
After the screening there will be a Q&A with Rakesh Sharma.