Towards the end of 2015, I slowly began to loose interest in reading religious texts. They seemed repetitive to the extent I began to wonder that if the texts were so similar, what was there to fight about. D introduced me to Sandeep Maheshwari, an entrepreneur from Delhi who gave talks inspiring students. The first video of Sandeep that I watched was “Last Life-Changing Seminar” on YouTube.
Till then the only things I used to watch on YouTube are TED talks and Talks at Google. The Life-Changing Seminar was the first Hindi video that I heard from start to end. The full hour or so.
Slowly, Sandeep’s videos started to move towards the spiritual. This started, in my opinion with a how-to video on basic meditation. He understood that not everyone was interested in the spiritual and hence started a separate channel on YouTube for his spiritual stuff. This is the channel that interests me. His inspirational video and videos related to personal excellence continue. The first few times I watched the spiritual videos, I spent them trying to pin down what teaching he followed. I wanted to categorise them so that I could then read the books myself.
While I am still getting the hang of the basic meditation video through daily practice, I have continued watching his videos on his spirituality channel. Slowly, I concentrated more on what he was saying than trying to classify his talk. His spiritual talk, also in Hindi, seek to clarify and are linked to examples befitting the twenty first century.
These talks helped revive my own spiritual interest, helped clear my understanding and understand some things much better in Hindi than while reading some texts in English.
What is true, however, is that even the Indian communists, despite being opposed to globalisation and associated neo-liberal policies, have not charted a concrete alternative development strategy. Their opposition has taken the form of identifying particular parties as neo-liberal and having no truck with them, which has hampered united struggles for the defence of secularism and democracy. But uniting with others in struggles, on platforms, and even in government, against the Hindutva and semi-fascist forces and on the basis of a concrete alternative agenda to neo-liberalism, will serve the people better.
We need a good Left and a Right in politics to have a more balanced world. Also, waiting to see such a useful critique of the Right.
Kammattipaadam is a Malayalam movie starring Dulquer Salman that looks at the story of urban development and the communities it marginalises. The story runs through the life of the lead character, Krishnan, played by Dulquer Salman and how Kammattipaadam where he grew up also grows or is developed.
Kammattipaadam is a place outside the Kochi-Ernakulam twin cities. Krishnan’s childhood is spent in village surroundings with his parents and the generation engaged in farming. As Krishnan grows farming sees a decline and they become part of the outskirts of Ernakulam. Here, in his teenage years, Krishnan takes on criminal activities like others from his community and income group as farming is no longer seen as a viable means to make a livelihood. He stabs a police officer and is sent to jail. When he returns as an adult, he sees that his Kammattipaadam has changed.
Kammattipaadam is now a suburb with small houses replacing farm land. Builders buying old hutments in bulk and building buildings to house the burgeoning population now coming to Ernakulam and Kochi. The crime moves up from petty crimes and spirit business to extortion in communities who stand up to builder lobby that seek to clear people without adequate compensation for the land. The same criminals seem to learn the folly of their ways too late and lose their own land are themselves displaced. The compensation makes up for the price of land but does not make up for the loss of livelihoods.
Moving from farming, many of the people displaced take up plying vehicles, running small businesses and somehow surviving while others take to even more serious crimes like murder. Some who learn the folly of their ways are also not allowed to move out as the past comes back to haunt them.
The movie itself is a rare crime-drama film in Malayalam with realistic portrayals from various actors. The film does not seek to answer how to fix the issues that it raises but rather holds up a mirror to the urban community to show that this is probably how the buildings that you live in was built up – on the blood and toil of communities and people who were extorted and murdered to fulfil the whims of early developers who were driven by the greed of money.
It could be that this was not the case, but the movie makes you curious about how your urban sprawl grew, what was there before and the people who once called that land home.