Dastak journal celebrates 100th Issue pledging to extinguish proto-fascism  


On February 19th in Allahabad Dastak journal conducted a meeting in commemoration of it’s 100th issue. The main theme was preserving the democratic rights of journalists ‘Dastak’ is manifestation of the anti-fascist and revolutionary democratic spirit. It has played an important role in shaping anti-feudal,anti-imperialist and secular consciousness, and given a prop to democratic and secular movements.

This Hindi Magazine published from Uttar Pradesh, has been in the forefront of confronting Hindutva and Brahmanical fascism, consistently dipping ink and flashing pages to extinguish their tyranny. Over the years Dastak has encompassed a most diverse  or broad spectrum s of topics ranging from issues like the Gulf war, the Palestinian crisis, Cloth workers protest, farmers suicides, students and youth protest against fee hikes, commercialisation of education, stripping of rights of dalits and Muslims, nature of Indian proto-fascism, contribution of BR Ambedkar, Contributions of Marx, lenin, Stalin and Mao, Impact of demonetisation and Made in India  policies of Narendra Modi ,Branding of ‘Urban Intellectuals’ Relevance of Naxalbari,Dalit Panther movement, Semi-feudal mode of production, Suppression of dissent in India, anti-people nature of Operation Greenhunt etc.

Democrats should congratulate ‘Dastak’ for withstanding the tyranny of the Hindutva fascist tide and emerging as a thorn in the flesh of their ideology. “Dastak’ left no stone unturned in exposing how castesim was an integral part of our social fabric, penetrating every sphere.

No Hindi journal so astutely raised it’s bold voce against suppression of dissent. Numerous pieces were published exposing the conspiracy of the BJP in branding activists in Bhima-Koregaon as conspirators.

In several junctures saffron forces tried to clamp down the magazine and brand it as ‘anti-national. ‘At the very core it has refuted the patronisation of corporate by globalisation and the economic policies which are manifestation of imperialism.Dastak most regularly flashed its pages to expose the Brahmanical caste hierarchy inherent in the Indian social system The style of writing evoked the hearts of many a democrat.

Athough dubbed as a naxalite mouthpiece by reactionaries, in essence, it shimmered the spark of true liberalism and secularism. I complement the journal’s most down to earth lucid or cogeal nature of writings and appreciate its non-sectarian approach. Few magazines in recent times have been as creative in evaluating the social menaces pervading or evils of the social order.

Democrats should patronise the continuity of ‘Dastak’   which is a moral torchbearer of revolutionary democracy.

Report of programme

The programme was inaugurated by the Bhagat Singh Chatra Morcha from Benares Hindu University,and Nari Chetna from West Bengal, with cultural recitation and songs.

The first part of the meeting highlighted the contribution of martyr Mohammad Bakar, with the dias named after this historical figure. Seema Azad recounted how Mohamad Akbar published a journal called “Delhi Urd ‘and how he undertook an action for the overthrow of the British on September 16th sacrificing his life when firing a cannon. She summarised the repression on democratic journals like ‘Bhavishya’, ‘Abhudyu’, ‘Chand’, “Pratap’, amd ‘Makunayak’.when editors had to go behind bars. She asserted that this platform stood by their cause.

Meena Kotwal of ‘Muknayak’ narrated how the life of dalit Adivasis was still in peril with Dalit Adivasis morally not granted the right to freedom of speech. She recollected the view sof Dr Ambekar.Kotwal summarised how the social media distorted the ideas of Ambedkar and how dalit intellectuals wee victimised.

Anil Chamadia dealt with the monopoly of corporate houses on the social media, who virtually dictated the print. He spoke about how democratic Hindi journals, survived against all odds and how bourgeois media made Hindi journals almost unaffordable for the common man. Chamadia touched on Ambedkar’s views on liberation of women and his writings on how women were discriminated in the social media

Kurban Ali of journal Sankshep touched upon how BBC gave a slant to the true story of Tippu Sultan. He summarised the prolonged repression unleashed on journal ‘Swarajya’ edited by Bhatanagar, with nine of it’s journalists arrested, for period of 10 years. In detail he projected the fascist nature of the blocking of the BBC report on Ghodra riots. In depth he narrated how journalists dipped their ink from 1857 to 1947, braving the most tortuous paths. He asserted today how al intellectual dissent was suppressed similar to the colonial era. In his view such was the media crisis in imperialist countries, that in America they may do away with printed newspapers n 2040.

Rajendra Kumar recollected how all our secular struggles or democratic revolutionary uprisings are being erased from history, giving it a communal colour. He defended the positive role of Akbar Allahabadi in fostering secular spirit.

Pratap Narayan Mishra who edits a journal “Brahman’ recounted how poison of Hidutva and Brahmanical fascism was engulfing every sphere of society. He summarised how MK Gandhi planted the roots of Brahmanical feudal culture and collaborated with industrial baron s like GD Birla. In harsh words he condemned the corporate neo-fascism unleashed by Adani or Ambani on the media, who run their own newspapers in effect.

Pankaj Bhisht spoke about how the social media was at the total mercy of the corporate barons, who completely governed their objectives. He narrated how liberties for writers were endangered at a scale unparalleled and it was imperative for journalists to unite to defend right for dissent.Pankaj called on writers to rise to the hour and dip their ink against the neo-fascism prevailing. In his view the jail doors were fast opening for all progressive intellectuals.

Overall the gathering was successful in shimmering the agenda of democracy and secularism, devoid of sectarianism. A most qualitative lathering to a landmark event. Possibly it missed the sufficient presence of members of the basic classes. I would welcome ‘Dastak’ compiling all it’s 100 issues into a single book.

Harsh Thakor is freelance journalist who has covered mass movements around India


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