Author Archives: Pratyush Chandra

About Pratyush Chandra

Associated with Radical Notes

ये दीवार आईना है


ये दीवार आईना है
तुम्हें कुछ भी नहीं दिखता
क्योंकि तुम कुछ भी नहीं हो

तुम्हें दीवार दिखती है
क्योंकि तुम दीवार हो
अपने और अपनों के बीच

तुम्हें दीवार पर नाखूनों से जड़ा चित्र दिखता है
क्योंकि उस चित्र में तुम हो
तुम्हें अपना मतलब वहीं खोजना है
क्योंकि वही तो आईना है

और पता करना है कि चित्रकार कौन है

सन्नाटा


सन्नाटा कहाँ था
बस सन्नाटे की आहट थी
और सन्नाटा हो गया

यादों में धुआँ और आग


यह धुआँ है 
कभी आग लगी थी जंगलों में
पेड़ पशु कई ज़िंदगियाँ भस्म हुईं थीं

सरपट दौड़ते जानवरों में
एक वह भी था
जिसने पीछे मुड़ कर देखा

लपट आसमान को छूते
अपने जीभ से लपकते
जो कुछ भी सामने आया

चिंगारियाँ दूत बन विनाश के सन्देशवाहक
विस्तार देते उसके प्रचंड रूप को 
कोई भेद नहीं उसकी नज़रों में 

न छोटा न बड़ा
अपने स्पर्श से सबकुछ
एक जैसा 

समानांत सबका
असीम शक्ति
महसूस करता

बस एक ही था 
जिसने पीछे मुड़ कर देखा 
सब कुछ देखा 

वही था 
जो भागते भीड़ से अलग था
उसने पीछे मुड़ कर देखा

आग की भीषणता को
जागते देखा
फैलते देखा

छुप कर  देखा
सामने आकर देखा   
शांत होते बुझते देखा

याद है
आग से पहले का जीवन 
आग में लहराते हुए

उसके मित्रगण परिजन
और परजन  
सभी याद हैं

भागते सब एक से
कुचलते एक दूसरे को
सब याद हैं

इसी आग ने तो 
उसको आदमी बनाया
जिसने मुड़कर देखा 

अपनी याद में 
उसको जिन्न की तरह 
संजोए रखता है 

उस आग की याद 
आज तक हमारे साथ है 
हमारे अवचेतन में  

कितनी बार उस आग को
सेंकते राख हो गए
कितने ही लोग

गांव के गांव
शहर के शहर
फूंक दिए उन हाथों को 

जिन्होंने ने उसे लगाया था
फिर भी याद है
बोरसी रसोईघर और बीड़ियों में

भस्म होने का आनंद है यह
रोज़ में खोने का
कैसा आनंद है यह

मगर याद सब कुछ है  
किसी कोने में 
आज भी धू धू करता 

जुलाई 23, 2019

Capitalism and Social Justice: The Floyd Protests in the US


In 1968, when Europe was witnessing student revolts, Italian Marxist filmmaker, novelist and poet Pier Paolo Pasolini wrote a poem addressing students, where he unabashedly told them,

When yesterday at Valle Giulia you fought 
with policemen, 
I sympathized with the policemen! 

He went on to explain that these boys in the police came from poor families and were dehumanised by the system — 

…Worst of all, naturally, 
is the psychological state to which they are reduced 
(for roughly sixty dollars a month); 
with a smile no longer, 
with friends in the world no longer, 
separated, 
excluded (in an exclusion which is without equal); 
humiliated by the loss of the qualities of men
for those of policemen (being hated generates hatred). 

Pasolini tauntingly challenged the students,

We obviously agree against the police as institution. 
But get mad at the Legal System and you will see! [1]

The Defunding of Police: What does it signify?

In the context of the ongoing movement against police violence in the US, the proposal for defunding and disbanding the police force has gained a wide currency. It has enthused many towards a more libertarian future. Its influence has also reached the learned sections of the left and liberal circles in India. As in 1968 and some years after it, today once again we see a confluence between those who stress on the virtues of a lean state and those demanding social justice, trying to give meanings or definite agenda to the movement —binding it to concrete demands. As David Harvey has shown, the intellectual force and initial consensus for neoliberalism were derived from such confluence.[2] However, neither in the case of the 1968 upsurge nor today can one reduce a whole movement to these vocal agencies who are there to negotiate with the system — in the case of the Floyd protests, to bring in police reforms and the Democrats to commit for them, while blaming Trump for everything. 

It is interesting to see the complementarity of Trump and his right-wing bandwagon, on the one hand, and the left-liberals, on the other. The former sees the conspiracy of anarchists, communists and anti-capitalism everywhere, destroying American values and institutions; therefore, they stress on violent incidents that have happened during the upsurge. The liberals and left see in the protests the assertion of American values rescuing  institutions from their takeover by conservative and even fascist elements. They downplay violence and sometimes even blame rightwingers for infiltration. Hence, in both discourses American values and basic institutions remain sacrosanct.

Even the apparently radical suggestion to defund and even disband the police is perhaps not very drastic. With the growing numbers of private security agencies and the localised community-level management of their engagement, the state run formal police force is increasingly becoming obsolete. Two prominent journalists-cum-business experts, while writing in Business Insider, applauded police-free Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone (CHAZ) and found Trump’s accusation that such zones are  anarchistic to be unwarranted and “a wrong response”. They go on to say,

“Whether you believe in the Black Lives Matter cause or not, you should want this test to continue. If the Floyd protests have shown us anything, it’s that America needs new models for law enforcement, regulation, and community organising. CHAZ is one tiny demonstration. We can think of tons of experiments worth trying: no-armed-police zones, no-police-car zones, an-officer-on-every-corner zones… Let’s try ‘em all. May there be 1,000 more CHAZzes!”[3, emphasis mine] 

Disbanding the police force is a wonderful idea, but what does it mean to implement this idea in an unequal system? Isn’t policing an intrinsic need of such a system? Is this system itself being questioned, or is it just an anger against a particular “alienated” form of policing? Empowering people without destroying the internal hierarchy in a community will only allow those on top to accumulate more power. Disbanding police in this scenario will force the community to internalise policing, and the powerful will play the judge. Power always clings to the powerful, who in turn are only personifications of power. That is why you see no significant outrage at such “radical” proposals in the US, except from the supporters of Trump, and Fox News. But what we see most of the time, if not always, depends on the perspective that we take, which in turn is dependent on our location relative to various socio-cultural (superstructural) asperities that break open whenever there is a heightening of structural stress energy in capitalist class relations.  Hence, the relevant question would be whether the Floyd Protests are merely about different demands that are being posed, or whether something more is happening in the American society that we need to understand.

Capitalism is ever ready to recompose itself according to the crisis that a social movement poses. Reducing a movement to its immediate demands is one of the main ways that contribute to this recomposition. The demands are crucial to organise the movement, but reducing the latter to the literality of the former is not just ludicrous, but a serious reduction that reifies demands and is a  result of commodity fetishism — of reducing social relations to thingness, which helps in capitalist reproduction not just in ideology, but also materially. It is through this reduction that the legitimation of a capitalist state, as the chief arbitrator of the system, is derived. But a movement is definitely more than its demands, it is about social relations. What is happening in the US is not simply a reaction to an incident, rather it is the eventalisation of that incident exposing the ab-normalcy of those relations.       

The Political Economy of Policing and the Floyd Protests

It seems corporate America has found “a public relations windfall” in the Floyd protests. Many delivery-based firms, like Amazon, Instacart, GrubHub among others, who have been crucial agencies of commodity circulation during the ongoing pandemic, were engulfed in labour conflicts. They found a respite in the protests, as “corporate anti-racism is the perfect egress from these labor conflicts. Black lives matter to the front office, as long as they don’t demand a living wage, personal protective equipment and quality health care.”[4] However, these spectacular protests could not be reduced to militant black liberal demands of Black Lives Matter, foremostly because the problems of policing themselves could not be understood simply from the perspective of race. 

Racial disparity is an important description of inequalities that characterise the American society. The statistical significance of this phenomenon can hardly be overstated in describing police violence and incarceration in the US.  However, it is not self-explanatory, it is linked to the deeper political economic processes. 

“What the pattern in those states with high rates of police killings suggests is what might have been the focal point of critical discussion of police violence all along, that it is the product of an approach to policing that emerges from an imperative to contain and suppress the pockets of economically marginal and sub-employed working class populations produced by revanchist capitalism.“[5, emphasis mine]

In the Marxist framework, “the uncertainty and irregularity of employment, the constant return and long duration of gluts of labour are all symptoms of a relative surplus population.”[6] The growing number of marginalised sub-employed segments of the working class are what constitute today the relative surplus population and its various types: Floating, Latent, Stagnant and “the sphere of pauperism…the hospital of the active labour-army and the dead weight of the industrial reserve army.”[7] This ever growing population must be harnessed for capitalist accumulation, to obtain cheap labour and to cheapen existing labour. Yet it is a dangerous disruptive force when not engaged productively in an immediate manner. The increase in police violence is perhaps evidence of an increased self-activity of this population.  A proper regime of incarceration and policing is needed to contain, suppress and productivise its energy. 

In fact, Ruth Gilmore in her book, Golden Gulag, shows “how resolutions of surplus land, capital, labor, and state capacity congealed into prisons.” The “phenomenal growth of California’s state prison system since 1982” can be understood as a part of the resolution to the crisis of the golden age of American capitalism, which was characterised by overaccumulation wanting radical measures like “developing new relationships and new or renovated institutions out of what already exists.” [8] Since the late 1990s, Gilmore along with Angela Davis and others has been involved in the organising efforts against what they call, the Prison-Industrial Complex.[9] 

With regard to the Floyd Protests too, it has been observed that among the masses that have emerged on the streets, there are those who have suffered because of the pandemic and being sheltered-in-place “without adequate sustained federal relief.” Therefore, these protests are also a consequence of “mass layoffs, food pantries hard pressed to keep up with unprecedented need, and broad anxiety among many Americans about their bleak employment prospects in the near future.” This can be grasped only if the widespread looting is not rejected, but explained. 

Unlike the ghetto rebellions of yesteryears, the composition of the looters today is multiracial and intergenerational, targeting downtowns and central shopping districts. These are “the most dispossessed of all races and ethnicities who are the most likely to be routinely surveilled, harassed, arrested, convicted, incarcerated and condemned as failures, the collateral damage of the American dream.”[10] The law-preserving and law-constituting forces can understand only the language of demands, and the surplus-ed do not demand, but act.

Beyond Neoliberal Social Justice 

The hegemonic tendency in the American anti-racist movement today “accepts the premise of neoliberal social justice”. It has emerged as “the left wing of neoliberalism  [whose] sole metric of social justice is opposition to disparity in the distribution of goods and bads in the society, an ideal that naturalizes the outcomes of capitalist market forces so long as they are equitable along racial (and other identitarian) lines.”[11] This provides a crucial clue to understand not just the limits of the movements for representation, recognition and redistribution, but also the compatibility of social justice with neoliberalism. This can help in making sense of why in some countries, like India, policies and laws towards ensuring social justice frequently accompanied the aggressive implementation of neoliberal economic reforms. 

The history of capitalism shows that it includes through differentiation and segmentation, constituting the unevenness of its social geography, which is a crucial factor in the dynamics of capitalist accumulation. It is this differential inclusion that structures the extension and intensification of division of labour, facilitating the circulation of commodities and capital and ensuring the transfer of value. This aspect of capitalist development manifests itself in real identitarian inequalities, insecurities, anxieties and politics at diverse levels of social structures. Social differentiation, obviously, in effect preempts or defers the emergence of class-against-capital that threatens not just law and order, but the very system that they conserve. Simplistically put, identities are all about horizontal divisions and vertical (re)integration. This engenders a perspective that does not allow various segments to think beyond redistributive economics and the politics of representation and recognition. So all social conflicts become just problems of management, engineering, and of statistics. Hence, tweaking specific variables is what needs to be done. Blaming individuals  or even specific institutions for what is an endemic problem of the system is the best way to salvage the system. This is how today, as Pasolini would put, people everywhere (differentially, but definitely) “belong to a ‘totality’ (the ‘semantic fields’ on which they express themselves through both linguistic and nonlinguistic communication).” This is how “bourgeois entropy” is reached, when “the bourgeoisie is becoming the human condition. Those who are born into this entropy cannot in any way, metaphysically, be outside of it. It’s over.”[12] But, is it so?  

Can we deny the experience of racism and, for that matter, of any enclosed segment of class? Aren’t such experiences crucial to the politics of class? While it is true that racism cannot be understood in its own terms, and all problems faced by black proletarians cannot be reduced to racism, can we deny that class always appears through such specific geo-cultural forms of social relations? The sedimental reality of all these forms is, of course, the dynamics of class relations and struggle, but these dynamics can only be captured in the experience of these forms. The struggle against segmentation is not to wish it away. Any unity based on such ideological wishing away of inter-segmental conflicts will be external and an imposition. 

An identity assertion becomes revolutionary when it is a ground for negating the very logic of differentiation and segmentation that sustains capitalist accumulation through competition and hierarchy. Then, the assertion is not for identitarian accommodation, but against the logic of identification—to envisage a non-identity against and beyond all identities. The positive assertion of identities, on the other hand, is for accommodation within power and accumulation of power —this is what social justice means within the logic of capital. However, any assertion of oppressed identities always contains the possibility of the release of an anti-identitarian subject, the class of proletarians, that goes against racism, casteism and other segmentations to destroy the stability of the very system of classification and gradation of labourers that sustains capitalism. It is this subject that can be traced in the incidents of looting and arson in the Floyd protests. Since they serve no means, they are ignored by those who don’t decry them.

Note: My special thanks to Arvind, Lalan, Nilotpal, Paresh, Prakash, Pritha and Satyabrat for innumerable discussions on the article. 

References

[1] Il PCI ai Giovani (The PCI to the Young), in Pier Paolo Pasolini. 1972 [2005]. Heretical Empiricism. Tr. Ben Lawton & Louise K. Barnett, New Academia Publishing, pp 150-158.

[2] David Harvey. 2005. A Brief History of Neoliberalism. Oxford University Press. (Chapter 2, ‘The Construction of Consent’).

[3] David Plotz & Henry Blodget. 2020. ‘We need more experiments like Seattle’s police-free’, Business Insider (June 13, 2020). Accessed on June 15, 2020.

[4] Cedric Johnson. 2020. ‘The Triumph of Black Lives Matter and Neoliberal Redemption’, nonsite.org (Posted June 9, 2020). Accessed on June 15, 2020.

[5] Adolph Reed, Jr. 2016. ‘How Racial Disparity Does Not Help Make Sense of Patterns of Police Violence’, nonsite.org (Reposted June 9, 2020). Accessed on June 15, 2020. 

[6] Karl Marx. 1976. Capital. Volume 1, (Trans. Ben Fowkes). London: Pelican Books, p. 866.

[7] Ibid, p. 797.

[8] Ruth Wilson Gilmore. 2007. Golden Gulag: Prisons, Surplus, Crisis and Opposition in Globalizing California. University of California Press, p. 28.

[9] Critical Resistance Publications Collective, ed. 2000. Critical Resistance to the Prison-Industrial Complex. Special Issue of Social Justice 27(3). 

[10]Johnson, op. cit.

[11] Reed, op. cit.

[12] Pasolini, op. cit., p. 156. 

आज के इंकलाबी


आज के इंकलाबी
पके आम चुनते
रात के तूफ़ानी संघर्ष में थक गए
स्वतःस्फूर्त सब्ज़ आम की आलोचना
उनकी अनुभवहीनता बताते
जो लटक गए
उन्हें चुनते इंकलाबी

20 फरवरी, 2020

India Unlocked: World’s “Biggest Lockdown” and Workers’ Long March


“… never torment a creature for sport,
for it might be loaded.” – Ernst Bloch

At times, states compete to showcase merchandise and relative productive capacities. Other times, many of these states sell misery to gain access to economic packages, charities and loans. Today is the time when they compete to show off their capacity to impose the most efficient lockdown on their citizenry. Of course, the priority is to make this imposition consensual, because that would showcase the self-discipline of the national workforce. But if that doesn’t work, then the dosages of coercion are streamlined to measure the states’ disciplining capacity. The Narendra Modi government’s chest-thumping claim to run the “world’s biggest lockdown” was to showcase the realisation of the neoliberal ideal of a “strong state” in India — the carrots-and-sticks hidden behind the quinine-and-quarantine lockdown. 

The Story of India’s Lockdown

With the absence of any coherent public health system, in the nationalist war against the “Chinese virus”, India has been relying on the dedicated medical workforce of much maligned public hospitals fending the virus without sufficient protection and supplies. Of course, popular pseudoscience is also there, factoring in a hot summer and the cumulative impact of other vaccines etc, along with the placebo effects of the homeopathic recipes. 

Even with regard to the so-called practice of “social distancing” and its generalisation through the lockdown, much was left to the play of the complex and sinister traditional divisions — such as caste and communal divides among others — within the Indian society. One can speculate that this factor might have played a role in the slow expansion of the pandemic in India. 

However, it goes to the credit of supposedly the most vulnerable in India who called the Indian state’s bluff, making its rhetoric of a successful and strong lockdown evaporate into thin air. The migrant’s faint cry to be allowed to go back home became a collective roar, and a long march in defiance of the strictures and coercive forces ensued.

We are witness to a process of how the vulnerabilities of the weakest become their strength; how their weak actions lead to a legitimation crisis of the state (and also at many times capitalist crisis in general). It is not very difficult to see how existential defiance of India’s migrants and the working class in general unravelled the neat choreography of the lockdown, making it meaningless. The exodus of internal migrants (India’s “biggest intangible assets” and “India’s real economic dynamo: a silent force“) and the anticipated volatility in the labour market have made capital jittery. 

The Narendra Modi government, with President Trump’s encouragement, was already planning to catch companies flying away from China. The labour laws were being derailed to clear the way. But nobody heard the plates shifting — the lockdown just couldn’t lock the workers in! Their footlooseness, which was the biggest asset, has become a great liability now.

The Liberal Politics of Victimhood and Representation

The tremors were felt everywhere. The state was trying to control the damage desperately by providing buses, rations, and identifying potential stars in children, cycling hundreds of miles carrying their parents. On the other hand, the sensitive gentry could see the faces of orphans whose parents died in an accident while cycling 750 kilometres back home, or see blood splattered on the railway tracks.  

In a recent article in The Indian Express, one of the most sensible political scientists in India, Suhas Palshikar, expressed the angst of the majority of the self-acclaimed politically conscious people on the side of left and liberals. He lamented “the incongruous image of the politicians and the political party” — they talk of the people but “betray an instinctive choice of ‘law and order’ and a techno-bureaucratic idea of governance”. It seems they are “on a holiday” and abstaining from politics. At the time when the central government is “caught in the trap of regulation and denial,” and “beset with uncontrollably delusional self-belief”, the opposition forces should have taken the initiative to  “come up with a robust alternative route to governance” (of course, Kerala is already showing the way!). 

According to Palshikar, there should be “a political response to the pandemic,” for which “resumption of democratic contestation is a must”, since “politics alone can be survival therapy for democracy.” He advises the Congress and its leadership to ask the party workers “to hit the roads, talk with suffering workers, walk with them”, only then they would “realise that taking a stand also means mixing with the people.” 

Palshikar’s plea for the “resumption of democratic contestation” may seem inspiring at the time when there are so many people who are left uncared-for during the pandemic. It might motivate the opposition to see a political opportunity here, and the government too might see their pragmatic mistakes. But there are many assumptions on the basis of which such a plea is made. It seems Palshikar and, with him, most liberals and leftists in India assume that there is never a democratic agency of those who are surplused by the system, as there is no political agency beyond the legitimate state apparatuses — institutional and ideological. 

With the WHO’s recognition of Covid-19 as a pandemic, the governments did what they are always good at when they are forced into action, i.e, to reach out for coercive measures. In the absence of vaccination and any understanding of the infecting germ, these measures take the form of imposing ancient “tribal traditions” of prevention (as J.D. Bernal used to call them) —social distancing, isolation and quarantine. But the liberal conscience, represented by Palshikar and others, demands an official opposition which will act as a corrective to this coercion. 

The Real Opposition beyond Spectacular Politics

What happened instead is something, which, though, is not very uncanny in history, but, generally, goes unseen and unrecognised. It is accounted only in a retrospective reading of the people’s history. It happens beyond the spectacle of formal politics, which doesn’t have any category to capture this phenomenon in its positive grammar, except as a subaltern that never speaks. 

The wails of pain, agony and anger of India’s internal migrants and workers in general have shattered the adamantine chains of the lockdown. The lockdown was never successful except in the ritualites of the already cocooned little bourgeois within everyone (meaning, everyone individually or as an aggregate of individuals). We found the appropriate nuclear environment of safety and discipline, and sang the “Middle Class Blues”: 

“The streets are empty. 
The deals are closed. 
The sirens are silent. 
All that will pass.” (Hans Magnus Enzensberger) 

Among the working masses, the lockdown as a generalisation of “social distancing”  was anyway meaningless, and its imposition amounted to an outrage. They felt what they are —surplus-ed and other-ed

There are talks about the consolidation of the state and the rise of authoritarianism, but it is seldom recognised that this is a result of the exposed weakness of the state, its inability to regulate workers’ self activities and, especially, the panic and fear that they instill among other classes. Those who see these workers only as victims, which they are in the legitimate framework of political economy, are unable to see the organic resistance of the workers to the systemic regulation. 

What argumentative liberals and online radicals couldn’t achieve was accomplished by the synergistic effects of the “weapons of the weak”. In fact, they are still waiting for the powers who imposed the lockdown to end it, so that, once again, they are able to lead these victims of the system back to the normal systemic cycle —some want them to fulfil their duties, and some, mainly those who are on the side of the left, would want them to struggle for their rights. What an irony!

There is nothing to celebrate here, but everything to understand — in order to imagine a new politics organically grounded in the everydayness of working class resistance.

Bethune’s Socialized Medicine and the Public Health Crisis Today – The Bullet


Pritha Chandra and Pratyush Chandra
The Bullet

“…that consumption and the other pulmonary diseases of the workers are conditions necessary to the existence of capital.” — Karl Marx

We are at war! The heads of states throughout the globe are posing as chieftains in this quixotic war against an enemy who no one understands. War rooms are being set up to manage data, propaganda, public reactions, and to control supplies, while the foot soldiers – doctors, nurses, other medical and supporting staff – toil to deal with the actual and potential carriers of the enemy, including themselves. Of course, along with them are the baton-wielding workers of the agencies of surveillance – the police, security guards, etc. who are made to assist drones and other AIs to manage the panic and the surplus-ed population (migrants, homeless, and poor) on the streets.

Today, when international and national statesmen are opportunistically posing public hospital workers and those in so-called essential services as ‘warriors’, perhaps it is time for us to understand the reality behind and beyond these spectacular rituals of salutations. For this, we need to pay heed to what Norman Bethune meant when he exhorted his medical colleagues to “organize ourselves so that we can no longer be exploited as we are being exploited by our politicians.” He too called upon them to engage in a collectivized attack

“Medicine must be entirely reorganized and unified, welded into a great army of doctors, dentists, nurses, technicians and social service workers, to make a collectivized attack on disease and utilizing all the present scientific knowledge of its members to that end. Let us say to the people – not ‘How much have you got?’ – but, ‘How best can we serve you?’”

Norman Bethune (1890–1939) was a Canadian surgeon, and a pioneer in the field of thoracic surgery. He was a Communist and an anti-fascist who steeled himself in the Spanish Civil War, fought tuberculosis not just as a doctor but as a patient too, and died in 1939 in the Chinese liberation movement against the Japanese, after getting infected while treating patients without the necessary medical equipment. Norman Bethune was a product of an era that saw the beginning of the industrialization of medicine and medical practices. He made his medical practice a ground for critiquing capitalism and the political economy of modern medicine. We seek to discuss some of his ideas here, and the context in which they were conceived. These ideas gain new meanings in the light of the medical crisis that we face today.

Read the Complete Essay

मोमबत्तियाँ


कॉन्सटेंटाइन पेट्रो कवाफी

आने वाले दिन हमारे आगे खड़े हैं
जैसे छोटी-छोटी जलती मोमबत्तियों की कतार –
सुनहरी, गर्म, और झूमती छोटी बत्तियाँ।

दिन जो बीत गए हमारे पीछे खड़े हैं,
अब बुझ गईं मोमबत्तियों की उदास पंक्ति;
जो सबसे पास हैं वे अब भी छोड़ती हैं धुआँ,
ठंडी मोमबत्तियाँ, पिघली हुईं, बिगड़े रूप जिनके।

मैं उनको देखना नहीं चाहता; वे मुझे उदास करती हैं,
और मैं उदास होता हूँ, पहले की उनकी रोशनी याद कर।
मैं अपने सामने देखता हूँ, अपनी जलती मोमबत्तियों को।

मैं मुड़ना नहीं चाहता, कहीं देख घबरा न जाऊँ,
कितनी जल्दी बढ़ रही है काली रेखा की लंबाई,
कितनी जल्दी बढ़ रही है बुझी हुईं मोमबत्तियों की गिनती।

बहुत देर


बहुत देर बहुत देर बहुत देर बाद
रोशनी पहुँची मगर सितारा न रहा
दूर दूर बहुत दूर पहुंच मुड़ना क्या
सैलाब ही है कोई किनारा न रहा

सत्ता के तभी तो दावेदार हैं


स्वामी ने कहा
ये तो जंगल हो गया है
इसमें मेरा महल खो गया है
अब इन झाड़ों को काट दो
जो भी फैलता नज़र आए उन्हें छांट दो
ऐसे तो नहीं चलेगा
मेरा गौरव तब कैसे पलेगा

नौकर ने बात मानी
भर दी हमेशा की तरह हामी
लगा दिया मशीनों को
सारे अल्हड़ पौधों को छांट दिया
सारे अक्खड़ तनों को काट दिया

मच गया हाहाकार
तभी हुआ चमत्कार
जो शांति के प्रतीक थे
अपने-अपने कोनों में ही ठीक थे
न झेल पाए वे यह क्रूरता
कर दी क्रांति की उद्घोषना
हवा में तैरती थी
शूरता

कर दिया नींद स्वामी का हराम
मचा दिया हर दिशाओं में कोहराम
सामने था नौकर
लग रही थी उसको ठोकर
झाड़ फैलते गए
मशीनों को घेर लिया
कटते रहे पटते रहे
मगर अंत ही नहीं हुआ
मशीनों को ओवरटाइम ने
कर दिया धुँआ

स्वामी ने बिगुल बजाई
नौकर को संदेसा पठाई
आ रहा हूँ मैं
सुनूंगा कहानी दोनों ओर की
अपने आगे शान्ति दूत भिजवाई

स्वामी अपने नौकर को फटकारता है
ऐसा क्यों किया
ये तो अभी फूल हैं
इनको संजोना है हमें
इनसे बात करनी चाहिए थी
इन्हें समझाना चाहिए था

और तुमलोगों को भी समझना चाहिए
बुज़ुर्ग हैं
हमारी व्यवस्था के ये दुर्ग हैं
इज्ज़त से पेश आना चाहिए
तुम्हें भी तौर सीखना होगा
तुम फूल हो
तुम्हारा काम है सुगंध फैलाना
तुम्हीं तो गौरव हो हमारे
ध्रुव तारे

चलो अच्छा हुआ
हम सब अपनी गलतियों से सीखते हैं
अब ख़त्म हो यह झगड़ा
और सम्बन्ध बनाओ तगड़ा
दुर्ग हैं ये तुम्हारी सीमा दिखाते हैं
कूदने की सीमा फांदने की सीमा
और आप भी कड़ाई कीजिए धीमा

शांत हो गए स्वामी
नौकर ने भरी हामी
अब कौन बनेगा हरामी

कितने समझदार हैं
सत्ता के तभी तो दावेदार हैं