Situation Comics 1
Situation Comics 1 is the first in what will be a regular feature on BlueJackal. In every episode a situation is proposed based on an historical event or on a fabulation, which invites creative participation to unfold as a comic strip. Comics as a popular medium, has revealed its manifold possibilities over time. It is no more perceived only as a form limited to creating super heroes or lighthearted narratives but has been engaging critically with much wider and varied aspects of life. Our effort is to engage with the multifaceted popular character of comics.
BlueJackal dedicates Situation Comics 1 to Rohith Vemula whose last note is re invoked through this call for participation.
(Call for Participation - Howl for Entries: Situation Comics 1, by Lokesh Khodke, BlueJackal core team member, July 2016.)
A Note from BlueJackal
Our first Howl came from a need to reflect on Rohith Vemula’s institutional murder and the poignant and strong last note that he left for all of us to grapple with. Rohith Vemula, a Dalit PhD scholar from University of Hyderabad, Telangana, India wrote this note just before he was pushed to take his own life on 17 January 2016 due to caste-based discrimination within the university.
For a long time now, voices against this kind of discrimination and violence have been systematically denied hearing. If at all such cases are heard, they are quickly labeled as yet another instance of violence stemming from personal vendettas, or a casualty, or even an ‘unfortunate circumstance’. All attempts at exposing and questioning the casteist structures that make this particular kind of violence possible and also exonerated in most cases, are immediately silenced or diverted. Here it is important to cite Gopal Guru who in A Tragic Exit From Social Death (2016) writes of how within institutions of higher learning “the ‘stigmatized other’ gets produced through active as well as passive forms of social boycott.”And right now, Rohith's caste status is being questioned, trying to divert the issue once again by seeing it merely within the narrow confines of state ratified identity and not as a larger problem of what Gopal Guru calls the ‘caste of mind’.
Rohith’s note refuses the reduction of his or anyone else’s potential to the confines of an identity. It envisions a world where each of us has the space to realise our full potential. This is where for us, the note becomes an invitation to the open, to creative responses.
There have been many strong debates and movements of resistance following Rohith’s institutional murder. Our call for participation wished to extend this dialogue and reflection through a creative response in the form of a comic strip. The act of drawing has a wonderful capacity to help dwell in something, to work through things, to slow down and live with a question. At the same time, it also has the capacity to take leaps into the unknown and imagine new ways of being, just as Rohith’s words do. It is this process we wanted to initiate through our call.
In response to Situation Comics 1 we received a wide range of entries. Each has opened a unique and pertinent window to our everyday lived struggles and negotiations within a complex and discriminatory socio-political fabric. The visual vocabulary of each entry is unique in its engagement with Rohith's words. This exploration of solidarity beyond the confines of identity as state welfare policy, and beyond victimhood, is what Rohith’s politics hopes for and what we, in turn, hoped to explore through this call. We are overwhelmed with the thoughts and re-imaginations that have been shared with us in these entries.
BlueJackal would like to thank all the contributors for the entries of Situation Comics 1. The contributors include Blaise Joseph, Treibor Mawlong, Ryan D'Costa, Shefalee Jain, Atreyee Day, Chan Arun Narendra, Kavyakumar Bhatt, Mihir Wairkar, Anna Dasgupta, Anupam Saikia, Nilesh Kawale, Nirali Lal, Thlana Bazik, Kartikey Singh, Shivangi Singh, Shrimanti Saha, and Akshay Sethi. We would also like to thank Santhosh S. and Sneha Ragavan for their valuable inputs to the above note.
To know more about the works and the artists, click on the images.