a bimonthly publication of
the forum of indian leftists

Volume 1: Number 1                    May 1, 1997

In this Issue...
Disciplining the Mother Jude Fernando
Facilitating Genocide Niraj Pant
Gendered Boundaries Richa Nagar
Intervening Carefully Ashwini Tambe
Beauty Contest Debate K.Philip and P.Gopal
Debate: Politics of Resistance Shishir Jha


The following is a "progress report" on our activities as a collective. All those who are interested in working on any one of these projects could either send mail on the FOIL list server. Those interested in any further information about FOIL please send email to:

Pamphlet Series: What started out as a project on Child Labor has since expanded into the FOIL pamphlet series, interventions in political debates relevant to the sub-continent but being at least partially articulated here in N.America and Europe. The Child Labor pamphlet was circulated widely (around 150 copies went out) to some liberal/democrat congressmen who are central to the debate, a handful of progressive publications, some labor unions who are interested, immigrant labor coalitions etc. It has produced some responses, though we have no way as of now to assess impact. The second FOIL pamphlet, on the new growth of the India/Hindu studies across liberal academy - the redefinition so to speak of area studies, is currently being prepared. Gautam Premnath is coordinating this one. The third and fourth pamphlets are also in some stage of planning. One on the Indian left and their response to liberalization (for instance how does one respond to Gail Omvedt type question?) and the other on Deepak Chopra and the managerial turn in diasporic Hinduism! The former, is potentially an almost complete document in as much as Balamurali Natarajan, Kavita Philip, Ciaran Ofaolan et al in Georgia wrote a long piece for Ghadar which because of its size could be considered for publication as pamphlet too. The decision is awaited from the Ghadar collective and from the authors themselves.

Media Fairness/Media Presence: Some progress has been made here, though not as much as anticipated. We need volunteers for this who will join Amitava Kumar in kick starting this in Fall 1997. Once again, the idea is a simple one. Many of us who are part of FOIL make a living by writing. Why not turn some of those talents towards ensuring that a left perspective is constantly available in the Indian media here and also respond to the characterizations of the diaspora and the sub continent in the mainstream American media?

Web Resource Site: This has been kicking along real well. Rahul and Sharmila have really turned this around. The site is now reasonably populated, though there are still many links that don't lead anywhere. Check the site out at: and figure out which links you could assist with. Rahul and Sharmila hope to take this site public (that is put it on various search engines) by the middle of May.

Speakers Bureau: Going along pretty well too. The brochure is ready and beginning to get circulated. Some offers to speak have also come along. Especially in the context of the 50th year of independence this may be a very important project. There are many places/organizations who are desperately looking for people who can come and deliver 30 minute talks. Why not ensure a good lefty talk? Also, most places offer modest honorariums and these monies could be the best way to fund various FOIL activities. What we lack currently are volunteers who are willing to spend those 2 or 3 days in the next nine months doing this. Vijay Prashad is coordinating this project.

Summer School: Also moving along real well. An initial round of discussions was done, and dates have been fixed (see box). A flyer is ready and the enquiries are beginning to roll in. A sub-committee is busy at work on this one! Sangeeta Kamat is coordinating.

Radical Poetry Collection for 50th Year of Independence: The idea is to put together a collection of radical poetry about independence/partition as a way of intervening in the celebration around 50 years. Some initial work has already happened. A sub-committee has already been formed!! Vijay is coordinating. Apart from the above, FOPA (Forum of Progressive Artists) started out in Amherst, MA - an organization that is aimed at providing a space for cultural production. FOPA along with Singh Foundation was involved in organizing the Shabnam Virmani/Nata Duvvury tour along with FOIL. Raju Sivasankaran is coordinating FOPA.


This summer offers a special opportunity to young students of South Asian origin. proXsa (progressive south asian eXchange net) is offering an eight day workshop for interested South Asian youth of the US on issues relating to the history, identity and politics of a new generation. The workshop will consist of films, readings, music, and problem solving theater, relating to issues of South Asian identity. On the anvil is an agenda to explore the mystified, unknown and misrepresented parts of our histories. The workshop is scheduled between August 10 and 17, 1997 in New York City. Those interested may contact Sunaina Maira at (212)-366 6341 or Mona Chopra at (212) 721-4634 or send email to

proXsa home page