Sunday, 29 May 2011
Hori and the Dynamics of Injustice: Mahasweta Devi’s Water
2. “Hori and the Dynamics of Injustice: Mahasweta Devi’s Water has been published in the October 9, 2010 issue of Economic and Political Weekly (see TOI India Program: Web: www.toasia.it).
In numerous reports and narratives of agrarian crises and of the despondent peasant from Kanyakumari to Vidharbha, from Delhi to Uttar Pradesh, and from Bihar to West Bengal, in varied persona, Premchanda’s Hori of Godan (1935) survives as an iconic figure of Indian peasantry. Mahasweta Devi’s story/play, Water (1972) written during the period of nascent Naxal insurgency may be read historically as the ongoing sequel to Hori’s elegiac tale down the ages. Invoking several texts and political contexts, the article explores the interweaving of the dynamics of rural poverty with the machinations of the local landed elite in collusion with local village officials and the police. It proceeds to find in the very recent development program, Mahatma Gandhi Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGA) in much larger magnitude, a telling analogue of Devi’s story in the way intermediaries, fixers, and sidekicks performed ingenious forms of frauds and corruption. Devi’s rural Bengal in Water represents the endemic disarray of Indian rural poor at large. The exploited subaltern men and women despite deprivation are vigorous and not passive, sensible and caring, suppressed and yet practical, capable of showing the urge towards claiming agency and authority for themselves.