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We are not sure about how many of you know that World Poetry Day is observed on 21st March every year. In fact it was declared by UNESCO in 1999. According to UNESCO its purpose is to promote the reading, writing, publishing and teaching of poetry throughout the world and, as the original UNESCO declaration says, to “give fresh recognition and impetus to national, regional and international poetry movements”. Traditionally Poetry Day used to be celebrated in the month of October, sometimes on the 5th. But in the latter part of 20th century the world community celebrated on the 15th of October, the birth day of the Roman epic poet Virgil. In many countries still they follow a traditional October date.
Whatever be the date, is it celebrated and if so what is its impact are million dollar questions to be asked. Poetry is the mother of all literary forms, yet it is peculiar, in the sense that it can capture all the depths of life from the practical to the imaginary. Poetry is everlasting and always contemporary because it mainly caters to the emotions of people. Historical events, incidents, cultural milieu, civilizations, ways of life, philosophies, scientific theories etc. will change in life but human emotional experiences are the same always. Hence as long as humans live, poetry also lives, even though its importance may be sidelined a little bit due to a generation’s priorities be placed upon ultimate pleasures in life with a utilitarian outlook. Unfortunately that is the time we are passing through now and already there are signs that sooner than latter it will change and poetry will be danced once again among men.
Sandhya S.N & J.T Jayasingh
Manipur Assembly Election 2017 have come out with a shocking news that the human rights activists Irom Sharmila got only 90 votes. She observed 16 years of hunger strike against the Armed Forces (Special Protection) Act enforcement in the State. Section 4 of the act gives special powers to army officers in disturbed area to shoot (even if it kills) any individual who violates law / or is suspected to violate law etc. The only condition is that the officer has to give warning before opening fire. The act allows the army to arrest anybody without a warrant, and carry out searches without consent.
The Acts have received criticism from several sections for alleged concerns about human rights violations in the regions of its enforcement. Critics say that the law allows security forces to get away with no end of brutality. Reports from Manipur speak many stories of misusing the act to kill local people and unveiled many brutal rapes cases which veiled brilliantly under the protection of this act. This was the situation which forced Irom to observe hunger strike for about 16 years with a call to take back the AFSPA from Manipur.
The Manipur election results came up with the news that for the 5840 days long hunger strike she observed for the human rights of Manipuri people, they gave just 90 votes. She was contesting against Congress Chief Minister Okram Ibobi who got 18,649 votes. More people than those whoe casted their votes to Sharmila had voted NOTA in the election . It amounts to 143 people in the constituency.
Sharmila had said that money and muscle power were used in the election by other parties to win. A door-to-door campaign, speaking out against corruption, domestic violence and human rights violations, largely addressing an audience of women by her party, People’s Resurgence Justice Alliance was not enough to defeat the impressive support which Ibobi commanded in the Thoubal constituency. Ibobi won the seat after defeating BJP candidate L. Basant Singh by 10,400 votes.
Being a woman may also have been a factor for her defeat. Among the 268 candidates in these elections, there were only ten women candidates. The demonstrated national parties like the BJP and Congress brought forward only two women candidates each. This shows a clear signal of absence of women in the Manipuri politics. It also reveals that the politics of Manipur is still a man business.
This election result might have spoiled the hope of people’s movements all over the country. The defeat of Irom need to be seriously analysed with the less impacted dalit movements in Maharashtra which triggered discussions all over the country. The election results revealed the saffron sanghs swapped over a secular map. This reveals a fact that to counter act the evils of governance in a democratic country, people’s movements need to have a strong political apex.
Literature is not always the faithful reflection of contemporary society and life. If it is so, then there won’t be much difference between literature and history. Much of the reality in life is negative and uninspiring and though they have to be known to get corrected, sometimes they represent darker sides of life which may lead to despair. Great books do much more than reflection of life. They bring fresh thoughts and set new standards and ideals and thereby inspire millions to come out of the shackles of life. The writings of Rabindranath Tagore, Khalil Gibran, William Wordsworth, Pablo Neruda and many more belong to this category. Hence the books that make positive changes in human lives are, no doubt, the greatest books. These are the third category of books mentioned by Sir. Francis Bacon: “a few books are to be chewed and digested.” Besides literary books, some motivational books which teach how to lead a meaningful life play a vital role in society building. Indian ruminations always encourage writings that move life irrespective of their genre.