Dear Brother/Comrade Kanhaiya Kumar
Salud on the Eve of International Women’s Day, I do not come with a bunch of flowers, but with with a sadness of heart. The most important years were spent in Kolkata, West Bengal, before I moved to the United States. I am extremely surprised and hurt to learn that you, a revolutionary would campaign for the upcoming election on behalf of the Communist Party of India, Marxist in the upcoming election for the state? I cannot presume that you have no knowledge of the way the latter unleashed decades of terror on the people of West Bengal and ruled in a way that can be compared to the Stalinist regime in the Russia (I am shying away from a comparison with the Khmer Rouge, for in India there is still an underlying current of democracy and pluralism where such a mimicry would have been difficult). Ultimately, a lot of factors and the fact that the aging Party lost control over a section of the youth led to its debacle in 2011. It was replaced by an equally oppressive, though different, type of regime. One could say that all the skeletons were packaged in an icing coated cake (or inside a rosgolla, as the latter metaphor suits us the stereotype of “sweet loving” Bengalis). I am not speaking abstractly, I visited places like Nandigram where even in 2010 women could not over the sexual violence unleased on them in the name of development.
There are many different and often contradictory definitions of “feminism” and “feminist politics”, but the one I choose and I one I love most is that the “personal” is “political”, I ask you, brother, with a heavy heart a personal, and yet a political question, why collaborate with these oppressors? I myself take away some important teachings of feminism”, one of them is the critique of the notion of liberal rights, indeed, I do not believe in the liberal notions of either right or secularism, for both in the course of time reveal the and unleash State oppression on people. I prefer to frame my “feminist politics” on the notion of well being. In this framework, you may struggle with the people of our land, without being a nationalist, Statist, or secularist. You can stand by those who need your courage and vision. One more word, I do not also completely believe in what is known as “identity politics”, for identities, change over time as is expected, for our social identities are political, as we have seen women evolve into feminists, become “woman identified” and over time change and revert back to the liberal notion of abstract right bearing individuals who want the liberal notions to maintain their “rights” against “others” and their “nations” against “others”. For me, a middle ground can surely be sought, where every one’s well being is taken into account through nutrition, education, health care, and housing, such that they can become truly autonomous and participate in the decision making of the polis. I believe, you can be in that struggle of the people, rather than be a collaborator in a recognized party, who have ago alienated themselves from the dreams of the people.
As this is the International Women’s Day, I evoke the figure of Antigone, who struggled for “personal” reasons, stemming from identity politics, but who struggled for political emancipation. I hoped you would be part of that struggle,
Rinita Mazumdar is a teacher in a College in Central New Mexico Community College, Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA. She is also an Affiliated Prof of Women Studies at the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque.