Living with the Virus ?

Whether people of the world will have to learn to live with the virus?

As India and many parts of the world seem to be engulfed by the second or third wave of the Coronavirus epidemic – which looks more dangerous – this idea is being pushed from different quarters.  Newspaper articles or surveys or studies have appeared in different publications which seem to be pushing this narrative.

Sample conclusions of a study done jointly by Emory and Penn State University which say “One year after its emergence, severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) has become so widespread that there is little hope of elimination.” This appeared in an article in USA Today . A famous journal Nature also shared a survey which talked to Scientists and around 90 per cent of the Scientists polled talked of how Covid is likely to be endemic in pockets of the global population.(do)

Prof Randeep Guleria, the pulmonologist and Director of Delhi’s All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), also talked about it in his Express Adda interaction and said that the country would continue to have waves and ‘pandemic would now be more like an endemic, which involves a series of localised disease outbreaks.’

No doubt there is merit in this argument and one cannot just reject it at face value. Policy makers would need to deliberate on the future trajectory of this disease taking this possibility into consideration about its becoming ‘endemic’ but raising this debate at this juncture could be seen as an attempt to evade many questions and avoid difficult answers.

The first and foremost seems to be to impress upon people that public health as well as science are not in a position to prevent the spread of the disease.

It could also be construed as a ruse to cover up the emergent vaccince apartheid in the world where rich countries seem to have stocked up vaccine stocks for their population which can suffice many more similar campaigns of vaccination and more than half of the world is yet to get any vaccine at all.

It also tends to hide the crude fact about ruling dispensations own failures in managing and containing the pandemic, their resort to unscientific claims to cover up their own shortcomings and the great hiatus between what they had been claiming about the pandemic and situation on the ground.

As far as distribution of vaccines is concerned things have reached such  a dangerous level that even the WHO had to issue a warning to the people :

“The inequitable distribution of vaccines is not just a moral outrage, it’s also economically and epidemiologically self-defeating. Some countries are racing to vaccinate their entire populations while other countries have nothing. This may buy short-term security, but it is a false sense of security.”

As of now the situation is such that while many of the world’s richest countries have widened the ambit of vaccination of their citizens to include every adult we have before us many poor countries who have not even been able to innoculate any of its citizens. Although it was planned that around 90 Million would be distributed to poor countries through Covax – the global alliance to distribute vaccine to poorer countries – but the sudden reemergence of Covid pandemic and the rising cases in Europe and slow pace of vaccination there has made the situation worse.

Activists have termed this skewed distribution of vaccines as ‘Vaccine Apartheid’.

In fact as early as January 2021 focusing themselves on the contrast between the rich and poorer countries , researchers had even predicted that with the existing arrangements in place ‘Most developing countries will not have widespread access to the shots before 2023 at the earliest.’

We can recall how health activists and similar socially concerned people/formations had foreseen the unfolding situation and had demanded from the pharmaceutical companies to share the know how of the vaccine and also called for suitable changes in the Intellectual Property Laws to that manufacture of Covid 19 vaccines can be spread globally.

Last year in October South Africa and India – called as pharmacy of the world – had even sent a joint letter demanding waiver from certain provisions of the Trips Agreement for the Prevention, Containment and Treatment of Covid 19. . As per the Trips agreement signed in 1995, the member states have to recognise monopoly of patents for pharmaceuticals including vaccines. It is a different matter that it was not done, no relaxations were provided.

It does not appear surprising that the more this narrative about living with virus catches on it can also cover up any comparative discussion about different ruling dispensations and why despite similar overall situation one witnessed lesser fatalities than the other

We have before us the case of India which was patting itself on the back for its effective handling of Covid 19 pandemic few months into the pandemic and which is suddenly finding itself in the vortex of rising cases and there is strong possibility of its becoming Global Hotspot following US and Brazil. Here cases have already shot up more than 1.6 lakh on a daily basis and where in many of the worst affected regions the covid wave seems to overwhelm the healthcare system. It is a manifestation of this worsening crisis that Gujarat Highcourt recently took suo moto cognizance of surge in Covid cases in the state declaring that the state faces ‘health emergency of sorts’.

As we write these lines the Kumbh Mela is going on with full abandon in Haridwar with scant regard by people of Covid appropriate behaviour. Police officials themselves are on record sharing how it is impossible for them to maintain it in such a massive gathering. It is a different matter that cases are shooting up there and 300 new cases of Covid infection were recently reported in a day. We can remind ourselves how objections by a section of the bureaucrats about the possibility of such a large gathering acting as super spreader of the infection were overruled by the Uttarakhand government . The Chief Minister of the state is reportedly had said that ‘faith in God will overcome the fear of the virus.’ The irony of the claim was not lost on the people as the Chief Minister of the State who made this spacious claim himself was found to be Covid Positive later.

More worrisome was that the ruling dispensation at the centre did not deem it necessary to intervene. Could it be correct to say that it was ignorant about the fact that religious gatherings act as superspreaders -! In fact it was itself busy with elections for few state assemblies and its leaders were found to be themselves holding election rallies and holding meetings with scant regard for Covid appropriate behaviour.

The result is for everywhere to see.

States going to polls have witnessed 300 per cent spike in two weeks.

Well in such an ambience perhaps people can have solace in the fact that now they will have to live with the virus.

A New Nirvana for our times.

क्या हो बच्चे का धर्म ?

“Five minutes after your birth, they decide your name, nationality, religion, and sect, and you spend the rest of your life defending something you did not even choose.”

: Quote, unnamed

1.

आप कह सकते हैं कि पहली दफा मैं इस पहेली से तब रूबरू हुआ था या कह सकते हैं कि अधिक गंभीरता से सोचने लगा जब बंबई की इस ख़बर ने ध्यान खींचा था.

किस्सा थोड़ा पुराना लग सकता है अलबत्ता आज भी मौजूं.

मराठी परिवार में जनमी एक युवती और गुजराती परिवार में पले युवक ने- जिन्होंने अन्तरधर्मीय विवाह किया है और बम्बई में बसे थे- दरअसल यह तय किया कि वह अपनी नवजन्मी सन्तान के साथ किसी धर्म को चस्पां नहीं करेंगे. उनका मानना था कि बड़े होकर उनकी सन्तान जो चाहे वह फैसला कर ले, आस्तिकता का वरण कर ले, अज्ञेयवादी बन जाए या धर्म को मानने से इनकार कर दे, लेकिन उसकी अबोध उम्र में उस पर ऐसे किसी निर्णय को लादना गैरवाजिब होगा.

निश्चित ही अपने इस फैसले पर अमल करने में उनके सामने काफी बाधाएं आयीं. सन्तान का जन्म प्रमाणपत्र तैयार करने में अलग-अलग दफ्तरों के चक्कर काटने पड़े, एक अफसर ने तो युवती से पूछ लिया कि क्या तुम्हें अपने धर्म पर गर्व नहीं है ?  युवती ने तपाक से जवाब दिया कि भले ही वह धर्म को मानने वाले परिवार में जन्मी हो, लेकिन किसी भी रीति रिवाज को नहीं मानती और अहम बात यह है कि क्या एक जनतांत्रिक धर्मनिरपेक्ष देश में मां बाप यह फैसला नहीं ले सकते कि वह अपनी संतान को किसी धर्म से नत्थी नहीं करेंगे.

( Read the full text here)

Nandigram – An Introduction to Political Analysis

Nandigram 2007, Image courtesy Kolkata24x7

Mamata Banerjee recently stirred up a fresh new controversy by accusing her former party colleague Suvendu Adhikari, now adversary in the Nandigram Assembly seat as BJP candidate, of being complicit in the 14 March 2007 violence. Had it not been for the complicity of the ‘father-son duo’ (Suvendu and his father Sisir Adhikari, both in the BJP now), she claimed in the heat of the electoral campaign, the police could not have entered Nandigram. She also asked rhetorically how it came to be that these two were spared by the police? To my mind, the claims seem difficult to sustain, if only because, the CPI(M) was at the height of its power and would have had little to do with these Trinamool Congress leaders. Listening to her speak, it did seem that she was quite rattled. Who would not be – with Amit Shah and central government on one side, the aggressive BJP goons in the state, her erstwhile collaborators now on the BJP side and, to cap it all, the aggressive, misogynist, patriarchal campaign against her from the CPI(M)? One meme by people obviously linked to the CPM, for instance, portrayed her witch-like, with a haggard and wicked expression, which was counter-posed to the young beauteous CPI(M) candidate Meenakshi Mukherjee. The meme describes Meenakshi as the ‘beloved daughter of Bengal’, while Mamata is described as the ‘old hag spinster sister-in-law’. (After a lot of hue and cry, this meme was taken off though the page continues to be on Facebook).

Continue reading Nandigram – An Introduction to Political Analysis

Freedom in the university and outside it: Atul Sood

Guest post by ATUL SOOD

Nobel Laureate Paul Krugman spoke online at a recent Distinguished Public Lecture at the Ashoka University (March 12, 2021), hosted by Arvind Subramaniam, Director, Ashoka Centre for Economic Policy. He spoke on “Is Labor-Intensive Exporting Still a Feasible Development Strategy?”

Kugman said that in this globalized world, for India to get into the market space vacated by the Chinese manufacturers, particularly for labour-intensive goods, it will have to be ready to do two things: First, make policy choices that are realistic and not ‘precocious’ and second, be ready to accept that rights and freedoms of labour, in particular will be sacrificed.  The wise counsel of Krugman was that India will have to be prepared to negotiate the space between rights/freedoms and share in the world market of course, up to the point where “labour is not getting killed”. Continue reading Freedom in the university and outside it: Atul Sood

Exploring ‘Hindu’ and ‘Muslim’ Through Medieval Sanskrit Narratives: Rahul Govind

In this guest post, RAHUL GOVIND gives us, by way of a review of Audrey Truschke’s book, a glimpse of the world of medieval Sanskrit and what they tell us about ‘Hindu’ and ‘Muslim’ identity in their own time.

The Language of History – Audrey Truschke

Why Audrey Truschke’s The Language of History is essential reading for every Indian (and Pakistani and Bangladeshi)

There is the view that the medieval period of Indian history witnessed an all-consuming battle between Hindus (who were native to India) and Muslims (who came to India as conquerors).  This originated as a typical colonial strategy of ‘divide and rule’ in the 19th century, but then transformed into a communal politics that ultimately led to Partition. In India today this very view is becoming a dominant one, where the medieval period is assumed to be nothing but the destruction of an ancient indigenous Sanskritic culture by invading Muslims.

Continue reading Exploring ‘Hindu’ and ‘Muslim’ Through Medieval Sanskrit Narratives: Rahul Govind

An open letter regarding unscientific epidemiological practice and Islamophobia in a textbook of Medical Microbiology

During the period of drafting this open letter, the publishers have withdrawn the book. We however feel that the concerns raised continue to hold good and are putting this open letter out in the larger interest of ethical medical practice.

To

Dr Apurba S Sastry, Associate Professor, Jawaharlal Institute of Postgraduate Medical Education and Research, Puducherry, India 

Dr Sandhya Bhat, Professor of Microbiology, Pondicherry Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS), Puducherry, India. 

Dear Drs Sastry and Bhat,

Greetings! We are writing this open letter to you with reference to the 3rd edition of the Microbiology textbook “Essentials of Medical Microbiology” which both of you have authored, and about the unscientific and seemingly prejudiced choice of using as an epidemiological example, the Tablighi Jamaat (Society of Preachers) gathering organised in India between March 13-15, 2020 .

We are a group of doctors, researchers, academicians and social activists who would like to express our deep concerns about this example on the grounds of it being unscientific and also running the risk of inculcating discriminatory, in this case, Islamophobic ideation in public health teaching and more importantly in the minds of future generations of health professionals. Below we briefly present cause of these concerns and urge you to immediately withdraw copies of the said textbook from the market along with a statement from you clarifying that the Tablighi Jamaat congregation is not epidemiologically significant for the spread of the COVID-19 virus and therefore the book is being removed from sales and will also not include as an example in subsequent prints. Continue reading An open letter regarding unscientific epidemiological practice and Islamophobia in a textbook of Medical Microbiology

When tractors marched in Washington DC: Nadia Singh

This post is the English translation of an article in Punjabi by NADIA SINGH, published first in Punjabi Tribune.

In a February long ago, in 1978 to be precise, thousands of American farmers  rode into Washington D.C. on their tractors, from all across America. Some travelled  for days together, covering journeys of hundreds of miles. What was the mission behind their long and arduous expedition? They were demanding fair prices and an equitable model of agricultural development.

Image courtesy modernfarmer.com

In the 1970s US had initiated drastic changes in its agrarian policies under the “Get Big or Get Out” paradigm. This policy sought to replace small family run farms and consolidate them into large-scale factory farms. Policy makers in the US believed that industrial farming represented a more efficient and profitable economic model, compared to small and medium farms run independently by farmers. Continue reading When tractors marched in Washington DC: Nadia Singh

Loss of Hindustan – A Symposium III: Hilal Ahmed

This article by HILAL AHMED is the third and final contribution in the set of three reviews/ comments on Manan Ahmed Asif’s Loss of Hindustan. The first contribution by Dwaipayan Sen can be read here and the second by Dilip M. Menon can be accessed here.

A Political Reading

Loss of Hindustan – Manan Ahmed Asif

This is a provocative book in two different ways. It provokes us to interrogate the supposedly foundational propositions that constitute the very first article of the Indian Constitution: ‘India that is Bharat’. The book destabilizes the very language—the concepts, categories, frames—by which we are trained to envisage India as a historic entity and/or as a civilization.

The author does not merely engage in producing a deconstructionist version of India’s past. He, unlike others, incites us to imagine the unimaginable: the idea of Hindustan. The book introduces us to a rich archive of Persian scholarship and explores the ways in which Hindustan as a concept as well as a geo-political reality is erased to pave the way for a new intellectual imagination, India.

The Loss of Hindustan is also provocative in an overtly political sense. The book cannot be described as an intellectual-historical project. It raises a few powerful political questions especially in relation to the placing of modern history in postcolonial projects of nation building. Continue reading Loss of Hindustan – A Symposium III: Hilal Ahmed

Loss of Hindustan – A Symposium II: Dilip M. Menon

This article by DILIP M. MENON is the second of the three pieces that comprise the symposium on Manan Ahmed Asif’s Loss of Hindustan. The first contribution by Dwaipayan Sen can be read here. The final contribution by Hilal Ahmed can be accessed here.

The Loss of Longing

Loss of Hindustan – Manan Ahmed Asif

“Nostalgia is not what it used to be.” – Simone Signoret

To look back these days evokes less anger or longing and more a sense of gazing on ruins. Like the Angel of History, so evocatively described by Benjamin, we are being blown with our backs to an unknown future, gazing at the relentless pile of wreckage that accumulates behind us. The idea of a nation that we once imagined together is buried somewhere in the debris, our residual idealism detects its gleam sometimes. This sense of melancholy propels different shades of politics, one of which does a fine combing through the rough texture of history to recover lost visions. The other seeks to resist the lure of the past and think exigently within the horizon of the present. A hard headed engagement with contemporary times comes rooted in the belief that there is no space of authenticity or of an archive of resistance awaiting us in the past: there is no ‘there’ there. However, the mode of thinking that informs the historical discipline requires us to look back, and see the filiations with the present as much as the future. The fact that we occupy a future past (that is to say, we live in a moment that was once imagined as a future, utopian or otherwise) can be an occasion for cynicism as much as a fillip for renewed action. Continue reading Loss of Hindustan – A Symposium II: Dilip M. Menon

Loss of Hindustan – A Symposium I: Dwaipayan Sen

Manan Ahmed Asif’s recent book Loss of Hindustan: The Invention of India* has aroused considerable interest that goes beyond academic readers. Since the book deals with a matter that concerns not just our past but also how we imagine our future, we at Kafila decided to try out a symposium on it – on an experimental basis, since we do not generally carry book reviews as such. We will be serially publishing three reviews/ comments on the book, by DWAIPAYAN SEN, DILIP M. MENON and HILAL AHMED, over the next few days, in the hope of provoking some discussion. We also hope to get the author’s response to these contributions. This first piece is by DWAIPAYAN SEN. The second contribution by Dilip M. Menon can be read here. You can read the final piece by Hilal Ahmed here.

Loss of Hindustan – Manan Ahmed Asif

This book is the most recent addition to a growing tradition of precolonial history-writing that depicts India as a land of milk and honey before the coming of the colonial flood.  Evidently, a European understanding of India as Hindu replaced an earlier, native understanding of India as Hindustan, rendered a home for all faiths.  Such arguments are based on the close reading of Muhammad Qasim Firishta’s Tarikh-i Firishta, and its appropriation by scholar-administrators in the employ of the East India Company.

Continue reading Loss of Hindustan – A Symposium I: Dwaipayan Sen

In Search of the Tukde-Tukde Gang!

WHATEVER HAPPENED TO THE BOMB-MAKING FACTORIES IN WEST BENGAL?

amit shah

Image Courtesy: PTI

Are the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) and its in-charge, Home Minister Amit Shah, at variance with each other? This question has acquired a new meaning as, within a year, there have been at least two occasions when the MHA has not supported Shah’s public claims on matters with a direct bearing on the internal security of the country.

Take the interview of Shah done by a news channel last October. He claimed in it that the law and order situation had “gone for a toss” in West Bengal. The state, he went to the extent of claiming, had “bomb-making factories” in “every district”. This explosive claim of the number two in the Union Cabinet was lapped by mainstream media and soon there were calls to impose President’s Rule in the state.

Four months later, it has become clear that the ministry Shah heads has not a clue about his claim. Continue reading In Search of the Tukde-Tukde Gang!

Marxism’s Long March in the Global South

Arab Spring composite image, courtesy Middle East Eye ( and AFP, Reuters, Creative Commons)

It is interesting that though Marxism was born in Europe, it has found its most enduring habitat in the Global South, but this has meant very little in terms of its overall theoretical formation and structure. Thinking about this encounter of ‘Marxism’ and the ‘Global South’ – the continents of Africa, Asia and Latin America – is a daunting task for the sheer range of experiences and questions it has thrown up. It has thrown up fundamentally new concerns as well as produced, in practice, some of the most grotesque outcomes.  But the task is also daunting because despite the range of experiences that Marxism has gone through and has put us through, it has not so far given us any serious body of theoretical knowledge that reflects this experience. It has not given us anything like the way, say,  Tibetan, Chinese, Japanese and Sinhala Buddhism have produced their own versions of Buddhist philosophy. One could also perhaps say the same thing about Christianity in Europe, where – at least up to a point – its philosophy was elaborated and innovated or transformed by the best minds of their time.

Continue reading Marxism’s Long March in the Global South

नरेंद्र मोदी स्टेडियम: आज़ादी के नायकों की जगह लेते ‘नए इंडिया’ के नेता

मोटेरा स्टेडियम का नाम बदलना दुनिया के इतिहास में- ख़ासकर उपनिवेशवाद के ख़िलाफ़ संघर्ष कर आज़ाद हुए मुल्कों में, ऐसा पहला उदाहरण है, जहां किसी स्वाधीनता सेनानी का नाम मिटाकर एक ऐसे सियासतदां का नाम लगाया गया हो, जिसका उसमें कोई भी योगदान नहीं रहा हो.

नरेंद्र मोदी स्टेडियम. फोटो: रॉयटर्स)

Courtesy – नरेंद्र मोदी स्टेडियम. फोटो: रॉयटर्स

क्रिकेट का खेल भारत का सबसे लोकप्रिय खेल है. पिछले दिनों यह खेल नहीं बल्कि इस खेल के लिए फिलवक्त मौजूद दुनिया का ‘सबसे बड़ा क्रिकेट स्टेडियम’ एक अलग वजह से सुर्खियों में आया.

मौका था अहमदाबाद के मोटेरा स्टेडियम- जिसे सरदार वल्लभभाई पटेल स्टेडियम के तौर पर जाना जाता रहा है – के नए सिरे से उद्घाटन का, जो वर्ष 2015 में नवीनीकरण के लिए बंद किया गया था और अब नयी साजसज्जा एवं विस्तार के साथ खिलाड़ियों एवं दर्शकों के लिए तैयार था.

याद रहे कि पहले गुजरात स्टेडियम के तौर जाने जाते इस स्टेडियम का स्वाधीनता आंदोलन के महान नेता वल्लभभाई पटेल – जो आज़ादी के बाद देश के गृहमंत्री  भी थे- के तौर पर नामकरण किया गया था, जब तत्कालीन गुजरात सरकार ने स्टेडियम के लिए सौ एकड़ जमीन आवंटित की, जिसका निर्माण महज नौ महीनों में पूरा किया गया था. (1982)

दरअसल हुआ यह कि जिस दिन उसका उद्घाटन होना था, उस दिन अचानक लोगों को पता चला कि अब यह सरदार वल्लभभाई पटेल स्टेडियम नहीं बल्कि ‘नरेंद्र मोदी स्टेडियम’ के तौर पर जाना जाएगा.

सबसे विचित्र बात यह थी कि इस नामकरण को बिल्कुल गोपनीय ढंग से किया गया. गोपनीयता इस कदर थी कि खुद समाचार एजेंसियों प्रेस ट्रस्ट आफ इंडिया या एएनआई आदि तक को पता नहीं था कि उसका नामकरण किया जाने वाला है.

जाहिर था कि पीटीआई या एएनआई जैसी संस्थाओं की सुबह की प्रेस विज्ञप्ति भी उसे सरदार वल्लभभाई पटेल स्टेडियम के तौर पर संबोधित करती दिख रही थी. यह अलग बात है कि अगली प्रेस विज्ञप्ति में अचानक नरेंद्र मोदी स्टेडियम का जिक्र होने लगा.

अब जैसी कि उम्मीद की जा सकती है कि इस नामकरण- जो दरअसल नामांतरण था- पर तीखी प्रतिक्रिया हुई. न केवल इसे सरदार वल्लभभाई पटेल के अपमान के तौर पर देखा गया बल्कि यह भी कहा गया कि एक पदेन प्रधानमंत्री का नाम देकर प्रस्तुत सरकार ने एक तरह से दुनिया में अपनी हंसी उड़ाने का ही काम किया है.

विपक्ष ने साफ कहा कि यह एक तरह से मोदी के पर्सनालिटी कल्ट को अधिक वैधता प्रदान करने का काम है. मिसालें पेश की गईं कि समूची दुनिया में भी ऐसी मिसालें बहुत गिनी-चुनी ही मिलती हैं, जो अधिनायकवादी मुल्कों में दिखती हैं.

( Read the full text here : http://thewirehindi.com/160559/renaming-of-motera-stadium/)

Communist Manifesto, Late Marx and the Farmers’ Struggle

 

 

Spot the difference between the two quotations below.

“The bourgeoisie has subjected the country to the rule of the towns. It has created enormous cities, has greatly increased the urban population as compared with the rural, and has thus rescued a considerable part of the population from the idiocy of rural life. Just as it has made the country dependent on the towns, so it has made barbarian and semi-barbarian countries dependent on the civilised ones, nations of peasants on nations of bourgeois, the East on the West.” – [Marx and Engels, Manifesto of the Communist Party, 1848. Emphasis added]

Farmers’ protest at Delhi borders, image courtesy New Indian Express

“Hence, the historical movement which changes the producers into wage-workers, appears, on the one hand, as their emancipation from serfdom and from the fetters of the guilds, and this side alone exists for our bourgeois historians. But, on the other hand, these new freedmen became sellers of themselves only after they had been robbed of all their own means of production, and of all the guarantees of existence afforded by the old feudal arrangements. And the history of this, their expropriation, is written in the annals of mankind in letters of blood and fire.” – [Karl Marx, Capital Volume 1, Chapter 26, ‘The Secret of Primitive Accumulation’. 1867. All emphasis added]

Look closely at both, and if you have any doubts, you can return to the original texts from which these two passages have been extracted – the Communist Manifesto, by the youthful Marx and Engels, published in 1848 and Capital, Volume I, published in 1867. If the Communist Manifesto almost celebrates the ‘fact’ that capitalism has “rescued a considerable part of the population [i.e. the peasant] from the idiocy of rural life”, what does the text of Capital say? It underlines that precisely these people who had been thus ‘rescued’, “became sellers of themselves after they had been robbed of all their means of production“.

And if we take a step outside their context and read these lines in the context of contemporary India – from Singur and Nandigram to the ongoing saga of the epic farmers’ struggle – it is not difficult to see why the text of Capital insists that the history of their expropriation is written in “letters of blood and fire.” The big difference is that while literally millions perished in the storm of capitalist industrialization in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries in Europe and simply disappeared into history; today, the peasants, farmers and indigenous people – all the so-called ‘pre-capitalist’ populations  –  are fighting back. There were no institutions of democracy, no language of struggle back then; it was the sheer exercise of naked power by the rising bourgeoisie that enforced the expropriation of agrarian and artisanal communities.

Continue reading Communist Manifesto, Late Marx and the Farmers’ Struggle

If Comment is Free, Why are Dissenters Being Locked Up?

THE STATE LOOKS THE OTHER WAY ONLY WHEN RIGHT-WING FOOTSOLDIERS TARGET INNOCENT PEOPLE AND PROVOKE VIOLENCE.

If Comment is Free, Why are Dissenters Being Locked Up?

A foreigner, returning from a trip to the Third Reich,

When asked who ruled there, answered:

Fear…

The Regime, Bertolt Brecht.

Those occasions on which judicial verdicts bring cheer are getting rarer. As everyone who supports gender justice rejoices over the victory of senior journalist Priya Ramani in the defamation case filed against her by ex-minister MJ Akbar, it is also time to get excited over another judgement passed in another court.

In an ambience in which dissent is increasingly criminalised, this judgement by a Delhi court, which grants bail to two people accused of posting “fake” videos related to the ongoing farmer movement, is also a breath of fresh air.

The prosecution argued that these videos—which seemed to express discontent among police officers against the government—could create disaffection against the government. Instead of agreeing, the judge hearing the case handed out a tutorial to the government as to when the law on spreading disaffection is actually to be applied.

The law, the prosecution was told, can be invoked only when there is a “call to violence”. The judge underlined that the law to punish sedition is an important instrument to maintain peace and order, and it cannot be invoked to quieten disquiet while pretending to muzzle miscreants.

Any student of law knows that the judge’s declarations resonate with two historic judgements delivered by the highest court of the country, namely the Kedarnath Singh vs State of Bihar ruling from 1962 and the Balwant Singh and Bhupinder Singh vs State of Punjab government case from 1995, which specifically emphasise that the charge of sedition can be used only when violence is invoked or where there are attempts to create disorder.

( Read the full text here)

Mass Psychology of Neofascism – The rationale underlying political ‘irrationality’ : Dr Abhay Shukla

Dr Abhay Shukla, public health physician and health activist will be delivering  the 8 th lecture in the ‘Democracy Dialogues Lecture Series’  on ‘Mass Psychology of Neofascism : The rationale underlying political ‘irrationality’  organised by New Socialist Initiative on Sunday, 21 st February, 2021 at 6 PM (IST)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Continue reading Mass Psychology of Neofascism – The rationale underlying political ‘irrationality’ : Dr Abhay Shukla

Toolkit for Hate – Inside Kapil Mishra’s ‘Hindu Ecosystem’: Meghnad S & Shambhavi Thakur

This article by MEGHNAD S AND SHAMBHAVI THAKUR was originally published in Newslaundry as Hate factory: Inside Kapil Mishra’s ‘Hindu Ecosystem’.

You can subscribe to Newslaundry here.

If the ever-growing reality of Hindu Rashtra were one big Christmas, Kapil Mishra would be Santa Claus, and the members of his “Hindu Ecosystem” hardworking elves delivering the gift of religious hatred and bigotry, packaged in the seductive wrapping of Hindutva, to the masses, secretly but methodically.

On November 16 last year, Mishra, a former Aam Aadmi Party minister who is now with the BJP and has been accused of inciting the February 2020 Delhi carnage by the victims and activists, posted a tweet asking whoever was interested to fill in a form and join what he described as the “Hindu Ecosystem” team.

The form is straightforward – seeking such details as name, cellphone number, state and country of residence – but for one standout question. It asks the prospective footsoldier of the Hindu Ecosystem to state their “special area of interest” and, lest it wasn’t clear what that meant, gives a set of examples.

Continue reading Toolkit for Hate – Inside Kapil Mishra’s ‘Hindu Ecosystem’: Meghnad S & Shambhavi Thakur

Molehills from mountains and other stories from kerala

Recently, on fieldwork in a peri-urban panchayat in Kerala devastated by illegal large-scale granite quarrying, a local resident pointed us to what looked like a hillock. It was covered with vegetation — and flowers of a pleasant lilac — which made a very pretty sight — and to the naked eye, looked as solid as any other hillock in the peripheries of the Western Ghats. “This hillock,” he clarified, “is actually just a heap. It is the earth loosened by quarrying, heaped up here over a long time. Because it is overgrown by weeds, we think it is a verdant hill.” Far from being the latter, he said, it poses a serious danger to the neighborhood. “A spell of really heavy rain can bring it down and just imagine what will happen to the houses below?”

Continue reading Molehills from mountains and other stories from kerala

Toolkits of democracy and a paranoid Hindu Rashtra

Widows and relatives of farmers who were believed to have killed themselves over debt, at Tikri border. Image courtesy Indian Express

Let me tell you what the Delhi Police knows. And I do not mean the abstract entity called Delhi Police. I mean every single IPS officer and every constable involved in carrying out the “toolkit investigation.”

They know that 22 year old Disha Ravi is not the Prime Mover along with the relatively recently formed Canada-based Poetic Justice Foundation  (set up in March 2020) , in a plot to overthrow the Indian government.  They know this because the IPS officers at least, can read English and a simple search would show them that the term “toolkit” in this context is basically used by organizers of street protests against autocracies the world over, for peacefully expressing mass dissent.

Here is one such article from 2013 called The Dissident’s Toolkit, in the context of the Arab Spring. The author Erica Chenoweth (soon to be honoured with an arrest warrant) explains:

Research shows, in fact, that demonstrations are just one of many tools that civil resistance movements can use to effect change. Successful movements are those that use a wide array of methods to pressure their state opponents while keeping their activists safe. The demonstration tactic we’re used to seeing is just one of many hundreds of tactics available to civilians seeking change — and successful campaigns for change must use more than just a single tactic.

Continue reading Toolkits of democracy and a paranoid Hindu Rashtra

“No life that cannot be immortal” – Farewell Mourid Barghouti: Ayesha Kidwai

Palestinian poet Mourid Barghouti passed away yesterday aged 77. AYESHA KIDWAI who met and came to know him during the term of a residential fellowship at the Rockefeller Institute, Bellagio, writes a farewell. Ayesha has also translated some of Mourid Barghouti’s poems into Hindustani on Kafila. Link to the translations is given below.

May be an image of one or more people and outdoors
Picture by Ayesha Kidwai

Late last night I was struck with concern for Mourid and how he was, and now I read that he passed away a few hours ago.

I hope you went without pain, my dear friend; the wry and generous bravery with which you loved should have given you that.

I hope that you got that moment, as you always sought in life, when you stepped out of the scene of your own passing and looked at it from afar and above. Only you would have found the one mourner or thing to mourn that sums up this grief that bores with such intensity into our souls.

Farewell, my friend, because when peace was never yours or Palestine’s, it is meaningless to wish for you to rest in peace.

I just hope that as you passed, you could think one final time of Radwa and Tamil and Palestine, and also once again the words of
your favourite poet Wislawa Szymborska.

Continue reading “No life that cannot be immortal” – Farewell Mourid Barghouti: Ayesha Kidwai

Exclusion Arithmetics in Higher Education -JNU as the NEP 2020 Pilot: Ayesha Kidwai

This guest post is by AYESHA KIDWAI

When on January 26, 2016, Prof. M. Jagadesh Kumar, a professor of electrical engineering from IIT Delhi, assumed office as the new Vice-Chancellor of Jawaharlal Nehru University, no one really  knew who he was. Although subsequent news coverage have unearthed a short-lived and rather unsavoury notoriety in the early 2000s, his administrative experience appeared to be scant, never even having served as a head of a department in any of the institutions he has served in), so news coverage of his appointment could make mention of only his prowess in the martial arts and his aspirations to nation-building in the university (which, as was eventually revealed, boiled down largely to a somewhat macabre fascination with large military hardware).

The five years of Kumar as Vice-Chancellor of JNU have done much to lift him from the obscurity he once enjoyed, but most of his new-found fame has been singularly unflattering. Met with a sustained opposition from the JNU Students Union and the JNU Teachers Association, Kumar has far from established himself as a capable, transparent, and non-partisan administrator committed to the highest standards of academic excellence. However, the poor press that has consistently dogged him throughout his tenure appears to have done nothing to weaken the extraordinary governmental support that he enjoys. So resolute is this backing, that it not only has it been able to claim the scalp of a senior bureaucrat in the MHRD back in 2019, it has now secured Jagadesh Kumar an unusual continuation in office until “his successor is appointed”, following the indefinite postponement of a meeting for the selection of his successor on January 7, 2020. Continue reading Exclusion Arithmetics in Higher Education -JNU as the NEP 2020 Pilot: Ayesha Kidwai

DISSENT, DEBATE, CREATE