BlueJackal Publication September 2020
The Summer of Maximum Learning by Shromona Das, June - September 2020
Editors: Shivangi Singh, Lokesh Khodke, Shefalee Jain (BlueJackal Team)
This comic is a dark parody of the popular demand for myopic positivity in a time of grave crisis. A man-made crisis in the form of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) and the draconian Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the COVID-19 pandemic which followed.
The CAA was passed by the Indian parliament on 11 December 2019. It amended the Citizenship Act, 1955 and promised Indian citizenship for illegal migrants of Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi, and Christian religious minorities from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan before December 2014. It is a highly divisive Act that, for the first time in Indian history grants citizenship on the basis of religion. A huge mass movement of resistance to this Act was initiated across India in winter of 2019 and was led largely by women, especially Muslim women. Peaceful protests were disrupted by the intervention of the right wing extremists who instigated a deadly pogrom in North East Delhi causing immense loss of life and livelihoods in February 2020.
This was followed by the COVID-19 pandemic and an ill-planned and sudden lockdown declared on the 24th of March 2020. The announcement of the lockdown gave people only a window of four hours to get back home. As a result there was a panic and a mass exodus of migrant workers rushing to get back to their home states. The central government looked away uncaring of the crisis it had caused. The resistance movement at the physical sites had to be called off due to the lockdown. The state set about arresting the peaceful protestors under the cover of the lockdown and many of them are still behind bars.
The comic recalls my experience of this transition from the winter months full of resistance, sharing, love and hope to the summer of the lockdown which intensified the bigotry and violence of our nation state. I look at all of this in a first person narrative, filtered through my own experience and try to find a balance between my political anger and my political hope.
Shromona Das is an artist and researcher currently pursuing her MPhil from the Centre for Visual Studies, School of Arts and Aesthetics, JNU. A passionate feminist and comics reader/maker, she is working on her own graphic novel on gender justice and sexual violence.
No images or text from this comic can be used or distributed without prior permission from Shromona Das or BlueJackal
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