Soni Sori As Mother India: A Painting Dedicated To Resilience And Resistance

Priti Gulati COx | Courtesy: CounterCurrents

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My face today is the face of the fight in Bastar”, said Soni Sori recently. An Adivasi mother, school teacher and a member of Bastar Aam Admi Party, Sori was attacked with what was termed, “acid like substance” by unknown assailants in Chastisgarh on February 20.

In her recent statement, Sori went on to say “we want azadi from the government oppression, from the way we are targeted by the state. We cannot sleep peacefully at night inside our houses. There is always this fear that we will be picked up by the CRPF men and framed as naxals.” Her past is full of such violent assaults on her body and spirit.

The attack on Soni Sori is emblematic of what’s happening to her beloved forests of Chhatisgarh and her Adivasi brothers and sisters, many of whom are still languishing in jails for no justifiable reason.

The democracy-like substance being rubbed here and there on the Indian countryside, its peoples, birds, animals, is slowly morphing into a giant, dark ash-pile, sinking right in the heart of mineral rich Mother India. But she’s not giving up. This mother India is never still. She is always moving. Fearless. The coward state and its cronies will stop at nothing in their efforts to crush Mother India and her fearless mothers and daughters. But she still moves protecting her soil, her forests, her endangered wild Buffalo, her Hill Mynah, and all the living creatures. This is her Memorandum of Understanding with our dying planet.

Priti Gulati Cox is an interdisciplinary artist. She lives in Salina, Kansas.

  • StarofEarendil

    I appreciate and stand in solidarity with the overall sentiment, but not the reappropriation of the oppressive trope of “Mother India.” This engendering of the nation restricts women to their role in biological reproduction and the reproduction of the imaginary of India, whatever the imaginary implied is, and valorises ideas of self-sacrifice as inherent to women.

  • Rajorshi

    Substituting one image with another doesn’t make Mother India an empowering figure (if all it has any such potential) . Such reappropriation exposes the problems of this ongoing debate on nationalism.