Mission 2024, the Congress and Beyond

Representational image, courtesy Sabrang

As the decisive battle of 2024 draws closer by the day and restiveness grows, alignments and realignments will also become more apparent. The tragedy is that while the image of Narendra Modi and his regime has taken a severe beating, there is still no visible alternative in sight. As a matter of fact, the entire opposition seems to be going from one crisis to another. A few state parties do give some hope and the possibility of a federal front with chief ministers of West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Maharashtra and possibly, a couple of Congress chief ministers making common cause, does hold some promise in the short run. The point though is, whichever way one looks at it, there is little doubt that in any future permutation and combination, the Congress may not have a leading role to play but it will still have a significant presence. Its present state of dysfunction, therefore, is a matter of worry and concern for a very large number of people outside the normal periphery of Congress supporters and traditional voters. A party without a President and without a functioning Working Committee is not likely to instill hope in its ability to provide any kind of leadership in the near future.

Continue reading Mission 2024, the Congress and Beyond

Is Kanhaiya the moral spine Congress needs?

( First published in the Times of India website as https://rb.gy/uei9cb)

The news of Kanhaiya Kumar joining the Congress has surprised and shocked many of his admirers. Moving from a Communist party to a bourgeois party is seen as regression. Some view it as his attempt to ‘mainstream’ himself. The truth is that both are political parties which believe in parliamentary democracy.

Continue reading Is Kanhaiya the moral spine Congress needs?

Australia-UK-US nuclear deal and India’s role: Statement by Coalition for Nuclear Disarmament and Peace

Coalition for Nuclear Disarmament and Peace (CNDP) issued a statement against AUKUS,  a trilateral security pact between Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States, announced on 15 September 2021 for the Indo-Pacific region. Under the pact, the US and the UK will help Australia to acquire nuclear-powered submarines.

India is part of an older formation, “Quad” (Quadrilateral Security Dialogue)  between US, Australia, India and Japan, revived in 2017, the goal of which is to strengthen security relationships through non-military means. However, the formation of AUKUS throws doubt on Quad’s ability to stay independent of military initiatives, as two of Quad’s partners are now part of AUKUS. It seems that AUKUS could supplant the Quad as the most important strategic initiative in the region. These fears are dismissed by all the governments concerned, but there is no doubt among experts that AUKUS, the military initiative, will now take priority in terms of resources and time.

Expectations of and pressures on India from Quad partners US and Australia as a result of AUKUS, are also matters of great concern.

It is in this context that CNDP has issued the following statement.

CNDP Statement on AUKUS and Quad

The Coalition for Nuclear Disarmament and Peace (CNDP), India expresses its deep concern at the U.S. agreement to sell nuclear submarines and Tomahawk missiles to Australia and also at the ongoing quadrilateral security dialogue of which India is a part.

We call attention to the absurdity of U.S. involvement in a security dialogue in the Asia- Pacific region. The United States has no legitimate security interests in this part of the globe and is simply looking to confront and thereby contain China, which it perceives as a threat to U.S. hegemony.

The United States finds itself unable to maintain its economic hegemony, which has been in steady decline. But U.S. military hegemony remains unchallenged and, for decades, the United States has accounted for 40% of world military expenditure. As a declining empire, the United States seeks confrontation where it is strongest:  by fostering a new arms race in the Asia-Pacific region. Continue reading Australia-UK-US nuclear deal and India’s role: Statement by Coalition for Nuclear Disarmament and Peace

Drona Mindset Plays Havoc with Deserving Students

Modern-day Eklavyas are depriving students of their dues across the country. No government can compensate for robbing students from underprivileged backgrounds of their future.

Drona Mindset Plays Havoc with Deserving Students

In the 19th century, Chatra district in Jharkhand hosted the legendary Raja Rammohan Roy for a while. A memorial to Subedar Nadir Ali Khan and Jay Mangal Panday, martyred during the 1857 war of independence, is also here. Now, this district is in the news again, but for the wrong reasons.

A Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) report tabled in the state Assembly has detailed the embezzlement of around Rs. 85 crore, meant to fund the scholarship of students belonging to the backward classes. The siphoning went on from 2013-18, says the CAG report for 2018-19.

The modus operandi of the scammers was simple. The money was not transferred to the accounts of beneficiaries, as the state department for Scheduled Caste, Scheduled Tribes, Minority and Backward Class Welfare says. Instead, it went into the bank accounts of other individuals.

The explanation offered by the concerned people was straightforward. They told the CAG that documents related to the transfer of Rs. 70 crore got destroyed in a fire. A significant portion of the Rs. 85 crore is yet to get recovered. The department never bothered to reconcile its accounts even after the fire incident.

( Read the full text here )

CATHOLIC WOMEN URGE BISHOPS TO FOSTER PEACE, NOT STRIFE

Guest Post By Jose Kavi, Matters India

New Delhi: A group of Catholic women says they are deeply concerned over a bishop’s controversial statement that now threatens communal harmony in India.

In a statement endorsed by 89 Catholic women from across India urges the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India and its Kerala unit to take special steps to foster peace and avoid strife.

The September 16 statement bemoans that a Kerala bishop used unfortunately “Narcotic Jihad,” a term coined without foreseeing its dreadful consequences for various communities in the country.

The text:

A Statement by Concerned Catholic Women of India

We are living in trying times in India when divisive communal forces have become a serious threat to the secular and pluralistic social fabric of our great nation. The insecurities and vulnerabilities resulting from the deepening majority-minority divide between religious communities are increasingly unveiled and this leads to a growing fear of the ‘other’, whichever community the other may belong to.

It is against this highly volatile backdrop that we want to locate the current polemics triggered by the ‘Narcotic Jihad’ controversy in Kerala, which has fueled hate and mistrust between two religious communities that have a track record of peaceful coexistence in the state through the ages.

It is very unfortunate that the term “Narcotic Jihad” was coined and used by someone holding a responsible position in the Catholic Church leadership in Kerala without foreseeing the dreadful consequences of using such an expression.

While it is argued that Bishop Joseph Kallarangatt, the prelate of the diocese of Palai has used this expression as a precautionary measure to safeguard catholic youth from getting trapped by terrorist forces, the terminology deployed is extremely dangerous as it cuts deep into the core religious sensibilities of a community. The use of narcotics is a very serious crime in any part of the world and it is possible that there could be deeper links between the narcotic business and terrorism. If at all this is true, it is up to the government machinery to address it, not the bishops. To brand one particular community with the narcotic label and that too without substantiating evidence is an equally serious offence as it destroys the health and wellbeing of a society. Besides polarizing religious communities that have been coexisting thus far without major conflicts in this state, allegations of this nature have led to divisions even within the Christian community and its families.

Amidst this chaos, it is sad to see the Church becoming a puppet in the political games that are being played by those who want to draw mileage out of this tumultuous situation. As Pope Francis rightly states in Fratelli Tutti, “today, in many countries, hyperbole, extremism and polarization have become political tools.”(No.15).

We strongly object also to the term “Love Jihad” referring to the inter-religious marriages of Catholic women with Muslim partners. This term undermines a woman’s autonomy to choose her partner in life, as well as the freedom of the woman to change her faith if she so wishes. These freedoms are guaranteed by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as well as by the Constitution of India. We demand that women be respected and treated as adults who can freely exercise their rights. Negating their freedom to choose their life partner or their faith violates their human dignity and deprives them of their personal agency. Using expressions like “Love Jihad” only serve to sow seeds of hate and divisiveness between communities and in the bargain and poison young minds.

These developments run counter to the CBCI Guidelines for Inter-religious Dialogue framed in 1977 and updated in 1989, which states: “We are committed to build up one nation out of many traditions.” In the ‘Document on Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together’ jointly signed by Pope Francis and the Grand Imam of Al-AzharAhmad Al-Tayyeb at Abu Dhabi in 2019, it is clearly stated that “Freedom is a right of every person: each individual enjoys the freedom of belief, thought, expression and action. The pluralism and the diversity of religions, color, sex, race and language are willed by God in His [sic] wisdom, through which He [sic]created human beings.”

In spite of this call for unity and tolerance, we have failed to counteract the forces of communalism within the Church. Only dialogue with others can build a culture of LOVE, which is the only commandment that Christ has given us. It becomes imperative then that we as Church sow not the seeds of discord but of unity and peace in our country today.

We, the undersigned Catholic women, are deeply concerned about the Church becoming a counter-witness and so, we urge the ecclesiastical leadership in Kerala and at the national level to take immediate steps that will heal the wounds caused by this controversy. We hope that this crisis becomes for the Church a moment of grace to commit itself once again with renewed passion to the mission of the ‘Kin-dom of God’ founded on justice, truth and inclusive love as shown by Jesus Christ.

1. Ms Virginia Saldanha, Mumbai
2. Dr. Kochurani Abraham, Kerala
3. Dr. Astrid Lobo Gajiwala, Mumbai
4. Adv. Flavia Agnes Mumbai
5. Adv. Philo Thomas, Pune
6. Adv. Sr. Julie George SSpS, Mumbai
7. Dr. Annie Kunnath, Delhi
8. Dr. Maria GorettiGonsalves, Pune
9. Dr.Brinelle D’souza, Mumbai
10. Dr.Lidwin Dias, Mumbai
11. Dr. Maureen Lobo, Navi Mumbai
12. Dr. Sr. AnithaChettiar DHM, New Delhi
13. Dr. Sr. Hazel D’Lima DHM, Mumbai
14. Dr. Sr. Jacinta D’Souza DHM Mangalore
15. Ms Aloma Lobo Bangalore
16. Ms Anita Cheria, Bangalore
17. Ms Anita Manuel, Pune
18. Ms Anita Rodricks, Belgavi, Karnataka
19. Ms Annette D’Almeida CAP, Pune
20. Ms Annie Rose Trichy, Tamilnadu
21. Ms Assisa, Trichy, Tamil Nadu
22. Ms Assumpta Selvaraj, Karaikudi, Tamilnadu
23. Ms Beschi Trichy, Tamilnadu
24. Ms Buddy Ubale, Mumbai
25. Ms Cecilia Soares, Mumbai
26. Ms Christina Samy, Karur, Tamilnadu
27. Ms Coral D’Sylva, Mumbai
28. Ms Evelyn Williams, Pune
29. Ms Glory, Trichy, Tamil Nadu
30. Ms Jacintha W Rosario, Pune
31. Ms Jennifer Rebello, Pune
32. Ms Josephine Sagayam, Bangalore
33. Ms Judy Siqueira, Pune
34. Ms Lee Lobo, Bangalore
35. Ms LeelaD’Sa, Mumbai
36. Ms Lilly Thomas Palocaren, Thrissur, Kerala
37. Ms Manohari Doss , Madurai, Tamilnadu
38. Ms Marcia DCunha, Mumbai
39. Ms Maria Fernandes, Cuddalore, Tamilnadu
40. Ms Marina Colasco, Pune
41. Ms Marina D’Souza GSPG, Mumbai
42. Ms Olga Netto, Goa
43. Ms Philomena Machado DHM, New Delhi
44. Ms Rachael Alphonso, Mumbai
45. Ms Rajakumari Michael, Bangalore
46. Ms Raynah Braganza Passanha, Pune
47. Ms Reena Biju, Ahmedabad, Gujarat
48. Ms Rita Joseph, New Delhi
49. Ms Ritamma David, Madurai, Tamilnadu
50. Ms Sheela.P.L. Thrissur, Kerala
51. Ms Urusula Nathan Trichy, Tamil Nadu
52. Ms Yoesphin,Trichy,Tamilnadu
53. Prof. Dayana, Madurai, Tamilnadu
54. Sr. Alice SJC, Naragund, Karnataka
55. Sr. Anbarasi PBVM Chennai, Tamilnadu
56. Sr. Arpan Carvalho BS, Faridabad, Haryana
57. Sr. BasantiLakra SCN, Mokama, Bihar
58. Sr. Clare ICM, Chennai
59. Sr. Elsa PBVM, Chennai
60. Sr. Florine ICM, Patna, Bihar
61. Sr. Francoise Bosteels SDS, Bangalore
62. Sr. Jessin SJC, Naragund, Karnataka
63. Sr. Joel SCN, Chatra, Jharkhand
64. Sr. Jyoti SMMI, Chappra, Bihar
65. Sr. JyotishaKannamkal SND, Patna, Bihar
66. Sr. Leena SCN, Ranchi, Jharkhand
67. Sr. Lisa Pires PBVM, Goa
68. Sr. Lissy Joseph SCCG, Hyderabad
69. Sr. Lucy Kurien SCC, Maher, Pune
70. Sr. Maggie Allesu DHM, Mumbai
71. Sr. Malini Manjoly, Mokama, Bihar
72. Sr. Manju Kulapuram SCSC, Patna, Bihar
73. Sr. Mary James MCJ, Ahmadabad, Gujarat
74. Sr. Meena Dominic DHM, New Delhi
75. Sr. Meera RGS, Kerala
76. Sr. Mina Lalitha Barwa HM, Odisha
77. Sr. Mudita Sodder, RSCJ, Mumbai
78. Sr. Nancy Vaz, FDCC, Mumbai
79. Sr. Noella de Souza MCJ, Mumbai
80. Sr. Patricia D’Souza, RSCJ, Mumbai
81. Sr. Philomena D’Souza FMA, Bombay
82. Sr. Premila Dias FMM, Putney, London
83. Sr. Rita SCN, Trichy, Tamil Nadu
84. Sr. Rosaria RJM, Gujarat
85. Sr. Sabina RGS, Chennai
86. Sr. Shanti Fernades RSCJ, Pune
87. Sr. Shanti Picardo FC, Siliguri, W. Bengal
88. Sr. Suganthi, Palayamkottai, Tamil Nadu
89. Sr. Vimala Verghese RSCJ, Rishikesh

Continue reading CATHOLIC WOMEN URGE BISHOPS TO FOSTER PEACE, NOT STRIFE

Decolonizing Thought – Beyond Indian/ Hindu Exceptionalism

A Decolonization mural in Oakland, USA, photo HiMYSYeD, Oakland Wiki

This post is prompted by a discussion that followed some remarks I had made on social media regarding the way in which a certain common sense that we may call ‘Hindu Nationalist’, had come to dominate the sensibilities of even those intellectuals in the Hindi world who otherwise might stand opposed to the Hindu Right. ‘Decolonizing’ has lately become a banner of the Hindu Right and for many otherwise secular Hindi intellectuals too, an occasion for an often strident anti-West rhetoric. Such a common sense assumes, simply by default, that the only “authentic” position of critique of the West is one framed by Hindu/ Indian exceptionalism. Needless to say, as I have argued at length in my recent book (Decolonizing Theory), the narrative that structures the imaginative world of many such modern Hindus is already a narrative produced by colonialism.

Continue reading Decolonizing Thought – Beyond Indian/ Hindu Exceptionalism

Why BJP Wants Meat Banned in Mathura

The BJP is imposing harmful dietary restrictions and refusing to accept that more Indians want to consume meat, fish and eggs for their nutritional benefits.

Mathura
Representational use only

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In 1902, the prolific British writer HG Wells delivered a philosophical speech titled “The Discovery of the Future” at the Royal Institution in London. Wells is often remembered for his “predictions”, for example, the approximate date when the second world war would begin. In this speech, he envisioned something else with equally significant ramifications—the collapse of the capitalist system. Wells also anticipated that a world of peace and plenty would follow in its wake.

What if someone, following Wells example, attempts a similar extrapolation for India? If anybody could foresee such things, what would they find lies ahead for the “biggest democracy” in the world?

In the absence of Wells, perhaps present-day events can be a map or guide to the future. For example, during recent Janamashtmi celebrations, Uttar Pradesh, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath announced that his government would ban meat and liquor in Mathura city. He said the meat-sellers and liquor dealers of the area could switch to selling milk. According to his government, a meat and liquor ban would help combine “modern technology” with the cultural and spiritual heritage of the region.

( Read the full article here)

Nationalism : Then and Now – Professor Mridula Mukherjee

The 10 th lecture in the Democracy Dialogues Series organised by New Socialist Initiative was delivered by Prof Mridula Mukherjee ( Retd.) on Sunday, 12 th Sepember at 6 PM ( IST). She spoke on ‘Nationalism : Then and Now’

Prof. Mridula Mukherjee, was associated with Centre for Historical Studies, JNU for a long time and was also Director of Nehru Memorial Museum and Library, ( NMML), New Delhi.

Well known as a historian for her work on the role of peasants in the Indian independence movement, she has authored two important books on the theme, Peasants in India’s Non-Violent Revolution ( Sage 2004) and Colonising Agriculture : Myth of Punjab Exceptionalism ( Sage 2005). She has also coauthored books with Prof Bipan Chandra, Prof Aditya Mukherjee on ‘India’s Struggle for Independence’ ( Penguin 2000) and ‘India After Independence‘ ( Penguin 2008). The monograph ‘RSS, School Texts and Murder of Mahatma Gandhi‘ which she has coauthored with Prof Aditya Mukherjee and Prof Sucheta Mahajan has been widely appreciated.

In this lecture Prof Mridula Mukherjee discussed Nationalism and its origins as a modern ideology, how nations are historical constructs with each nation having its own distinctive historical evolution and the emergence of two kinds of nationalism and how the present notion of aggressive, chauvinistic nationalism is in sharp contrast to the once evolved by the freedom struggle and how the task of preventing the appropriation of nationalism and its creative linking to progressive agenda is the need of the hour.

Please write to us at democracydialogues@gmail.com if you are interested in getting upadates about the series.

The lecture series is available on  facebook.com/newsocialistinitiative.nsi as well.

( Here is a playlist of earlier lectures in the Democracy Dialogues Series :

Time to dump ’empowerment’? Feminism, women and the state in kerala today

This reflection has been long coming: the whole idea of women’s empowerment has been steadily deteriorating in Kerala since some years now. Actually, even from the side of the government, there is much less talk about it, even though it flowed into Kerala in the 1990s through the government, somewhat neoliberalized already, after the Beijing Conference. The national environment has of course been especially hostile with Hindu majoritarian conservatives in power whose ideas about ‘Indian culture’ do not offer any prospect of expanding the resonances and meanings of women’s empowerment — the opposite being more likely. But in Kerala too, interest in it has decidedly shrunk. Among its former constituents, especially the women’s self-help groups, it means little other than income-generation and entry into local politics.

Continue reading Time to dump ’empowerment’? Feminism, women and the state in kerala today

किसे है बेनक़ाब होने का डर? हिंदुत्व बनाम हिन्दू ‘जीवन-शैली’

ये हिंदुत्व है हिन्दू धर्म नहीं! गुजरात के मुख्यमंत्री नरेन्द्र मोदी शस्त्र पूजा में मग्न. AFP PHOTO/ SAM PANTHAKY

[यह लेख पहले जनवादी लेखक संघ की पत्रिका नया पथ के जनवरी-मार्च २०२१ अंक में प्रकाशित हुआ था. आगामी 11-12 सितम्बर को अमेरिका में होने जा रहे Dismantling Global Hindutva सम्मलेन से उद्वेलित हिंदुत्व के प्रचारक अब इस सम्मलेन को रद्द कराने की मुहीम में उतर चुके हैं. उनका चालाकी भरा तर्क यह है कि यह सम्मलेन हिन्दू-विरोधी है. इस सन्दर्भ में यह दोहराना बेहद ज़रूरी है कि हिंदुत्व विस्तारवादी फौजी तसव्वुर से लैस एक राजनीतिक विचारतंत्र जो हिन्दुओं के नाम पर हिंसात्मक राजनीती करता है मगर इसका हिन्दू धर्म या जीवन शैली से कोई सम्बन्ध नहीं है. इस वजह से इस लेख को यहाँ साझा किया जा रहा है.]

“समस्त राजनीति का हिन्दूकरण करो और हिन्दूतंत्र का सैन्यीकरण करो – तब हमारे हिन्दू राष्ट्र (नेशन) का पुनरुत्थान होना तय है, उसी तरह जैसे अंधेरी रात के बाद सुबह का आना अनिवार्य होता है”। – विनायक दामोदर सावरकर, 25 मई 1941 को अपने 59 वें जन्मदिन पर हिंदुतन्त्र (हिन्दूडम) के नाम संदेश।

“हमारी भुजायें एक ओर अमेरिका तक फैली थीं – कोलंबस के अमेरिका ‘आविष्कार’ से बहुत पहले – तो दूसरी ओर चीन, जापान, कम्बोडिया, मलय, श्याम, इंडोनेशिया और समस्त दक्षिण-पूर्व एशिया तक फैली हुई थीं, और उत्तर में मंगोलिया और साइबेरिया तक। हमारा शक्तिशाली राजनीतिक साम्राज्य इन दक्षिण-पूर्व एशियाई क्षेत्रों तक फैला था और 1400 वर्षों तक जारी रहा, अकेले शैलेन्द्र साम्राज्य 700 वर्षों तक फलता फूलता रहा – और चीन के विस्तार के खिलाफ़ चट्टान की तरह खड़ा रहा”। – माधव सदाशिव गोलवालकर, राष्ट्रीय स्वयंसेवक संघ के दूसरे सरसंघचालक, बँच ऑफ थॉट्स, विक्रम प्रकाशन, बंगलोर, 1968, पृ 9 

हिन्दुत्व-विचारतंत्र के इन दो महारथियों की ये उक्तियाँ पढ़ने के बाद आइए अब एक उद्धरण उस शख़्स का देखें जिसे हिंदुत्ववादी हड़पने की पुरज़ोर कोशिश किया करते हैं। ये शख़्स और कोई नहीं स्वामी विवेकानंद हैं। मुलाहिज़ा फरमाएं :

Continue reading किसे है बेनक़ाब होने का डर? हिंदुत्व बनाम हिन्दू ‘जीवन-शैली’

If Hindutva is dismantled, whom will it harm?

An upcoming conference in the USA, “Dismantling Global Hindutva”, organized by Indians in the USA, most of whom are legally “Hindus”, and supported by over 40 US universities, has provoked the ire of the Hindu Rashtravaadis there as well as in India. Conflating Hindutva with Hinduism is the first step. Based on this, the Hindu American Foundation claims this conference is “Hindu phobic”, that it will put the well-being of Hindu students and faculty at risk, and that “they may feel targeted or threatened, or face hostility or harassment” as a result of “the kinds of generalisations, misunderstandings, and ‘otherising’” the event will perpetuate.

Ho hum. Just another day in Hindu Rashtra-that-is-India then, for most of us “Hindus” who oppose the politics of Hindutva that promotes misunderstandings and otherises us, all the way to mob and media violence, lynchings and jail. It is from Hindutva that “Hindus” are most at risk in India today, not from any non-Hindu “Other”.

(Why these repeated quotation marks around “Hindu”? We will come to that).

An article in Firstpost uses words like “genocidal” and “xenophobic” to describe what this conference is going to be. The conference brochure shows “Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) figures being uprooted, roots and all, with the claw end of a hammer”, and this is “genocidal” according to the author. Showing the German Nazi Party being uprooted would amount to genocide too, in this understanding, perhaps? Since Hindutvavaadis are actively seeking co-victimhood with victims of anti-Semitism, as another article explicitly states, they might want to reconsider this second conflation, of the neo-fascist RSS with “Hindu”. This second article says the conference will “dehumanize Hindus everywhere” and asks indignantly if a conference titled “Dismantling Global Jewry” would be acceptable. Continue reading If Hindutva is dismantled, whom will it harm?

Hindutva is not Hinduism: Hindus for Human Rights

An upcoming conference in the USA titled Dismantling Hindutva is being attacked by the Hindu right-wing both in the US and India as “anti Hindu” and “racist”.  See for example, this link and this and this.

This post is a letter sent to American Universities supporting the conference by US-based HINDUS FOR HUMAN RIGHTS.

To: All universities and departments co-sponsoring the academic conference on Hindutva (Hindu nationalism) on September 10-12, 2021 

Re: We are Hindus who support academic freedom and the “Dismantling Global Hindutva” conference on September 10-12, 2021

We are writing to you on behalf of Hindus for Human Rights (HfHR), a two-year old advocacy organization that provides a platform for progressive Hindus to speak out in support of democratic freedoms and pluralism.

HfHR advocates for civil and human rights in South Asia and North America, rooted in the values of our faith: shanti (peace), nyaya (justice) and satya (truth). We provide a Hindu voice of resistance to all forms of bigotry and oppression based on one’s faith, color, caste, gender, or sexual orientation.

We also staunchly oppose the misappropriation of our Hindu faith by the ideology of Hindutva (also frequently referred to as Hindu supremacy, Hindu nationalism, etc.), whose foundational principle is to redefine over 200 million Muslim and Christian citizens of India as the ‘other,’ who do not legitimately belong and must therefore either accept second class citizenship or be displaced from their homeland. Continue reading Hindutva is not Hinduism: Hindus for Human Rights

खूब काट-छाँट और गहरी छील-छाल रंदों और बसूलों से मेरी देखभाल

मुक्तिबोध शृंखला की 40वीं और अंतिम कड़ी

तकरीबन 20 वर्ष पहले पढ़ी फ्रांसिस व्हीन लिखित कार्ल मार्क्स की जीवनी का अंतिम अंश या उस अंश में चित्रित मार्क्स को भूलना मुश्किल है। यह एक पत्रकार की वृद्ध मार्क्स से मुलाक़ात का वर्णन है। समंदर की लहरें पछाड़ खा रही थीं। पत्रकार ने मार्क्स से पूछना शुरू किया, “क्या है…?” उसकी बात लहरों के शोर में डूब गयी। उसने सवाल दुहराया, “क्या है…?” और मार्क्स ने उत्तर दिया, “संघर्ष!”

संघर्ष, केवल संघर्ष: जीवन का अर्थ यही है। लेकिन यहाँ ग़लतफ़हमी की गुंजाइश है। संघर्ष क्या सिर्फ संघर्ष के लिए? क्या जीवन मात्र संघर्षों का एक सिलसिला है,और कुछ नहीं? इसके खतरनाक निष्कर्ष निकाले जा सकते हैं। अगर यह बाहरी संघर्ष है तो क्या हमेशा प्रतिपक्ष या विपक्ष का चुनाव करते रहना है? संघर्ष को उसी तरह पूजनीय नहीं बनाया जा सकता जैसे पूँजीवाद में पूँजी या पैसे को और फिर उसके उत्तर में क्रांति को पूजनीय बना दिया जाता है. सतत क्रांति का नारा सतत शत्रु संधान में बदल जा सकता है।  

व्यक्ति का और समाज का मूल्य इसी कारण इससे तय होता है कि वह संघर्ष किसलिए किया जा रहा है। उस संघर्ष का मूल्य उसके उद्देश्य से निर्धारित होगा, उसकी ‘सफलता’ से नहीं। संघर्ष मात्र एक शब्द नहीं, प्रत्यय है। उसके साथ जिस दूसरे शब्द या विचार की तरफ मुक्तिबोध ध्यान दिलाते हैं, वह है प्रयत्न।  मुक्तिबोध के बारे में यह कहा जा सकता है कि वे जितने परिणति के नहीं,उतने प्रयत्न के रचनाकार हैं। प्रयत्न जिसका कोई अंतिम बिंदु नहीं है। कहीं विश्राम नहीं है। हर मंजिल जैसे आगे के लिए एक इशारा ही है।

Continue reading खूब काट-छाँट और गहरी छील-छाल रंदों और बसूलों से मेरी देखभाल

Planted evidence and the Bhima Koregaon-Elgar Parishad 16 – Citizens’ statement demands immediate release

We, the undersigned, condemn the continued incarceration of the academics, cultural activists, human rights activists, lawyers, poets and trade unionists arrested in the Bhima Koregaon-Elgar Parishad case and unitedly demand their immediate release. After three years of media trial, harassment, raids and arrests of 16 persons, one of the arrested, Father Stan Swamy died on July 5th following wanton medical neglect in custody amounting to institutional murder.

Those who remain in custody include professors Anand Teltumbde, Hany Babu and Shoma Sen, cultural activists Jyoti Jagtap, Ramesh Gaichor and Sagar Gorkhe, writer and anti-caste activist Sudhir Dhawale, anti-displacement activist Mahesh Raut, lawyers Arun Ferreira, Surendra Gadling and Sudha Bharadwaj, human rights activists Gautam Navlakha, Rona Wilson and Vernon Gonsalves and poet Varavara Rao. Now, with the revelations in the Pegasus Project, it is clear that 8 of the 16 were under surveillance for several years before their arrest. Moreover, the Arsenal Consulting reports show how evidence was planted in the devices of at least two of the arrested. The revelations have unambiguously exposed the extent of illegal military-grade surveillance on the arrested, their families, colleagues and friends. Besides violating their privacy, the extraordinary measures taken to silence voices of dissent in the name of national security stands exposed.

Continue reading Planted evidence and the Bhima Koregaon-Elgar Parishad 16 – Citizens’ statement demands immediate release

Support Afghan women’s demand for a just peace guaranteeing the rights of all people

JOIN THE 1200 human rights and women’s rights defenders and civil society activists who have signed this petition.

Text of petition below. Link to sign the petition.

Women of Afghanistan demand a just peace that guarantees the rights of all people.

We, the true friends of Afghanistan and signatories of this open letter, declare our support for Afghan women’s demands expressed below, and join them to call on the United Nations, the government of Afghanistan and national and international actors to fulfill their obligations and undertake responsible measures that would lead to a just peace that protects the interests and rights of all the people of the country.

The women of Afghanistan have suffered through ruinous wars for more than 40 years. Their lives have been impacted by a war in which they have played no role, and which has resulted in in the loss of their human dignity, as well as their innocent sisters and mothers, spouses, children and young people, during a cycle of endless violence, sexual apartheid, kidnapping, rape, slavery, absolute poverty and injustice. Their houses have been destroyed, their children have become orphans and several generations of our people have been displaced in their own land, as well as in the regional states and the world-over.

Continue reading Support Afghan women’s demand for a just peace guaranteeing the rights of all people

सिर्फ इंसान होने की हैसियत का गुरूर जैसे आसमान, पेड़, या मैदान की शान और शख्सियत

मुक्तिबोध शृंखला:39

“एक निर्मल निश्चल आत्मीयता मुक्तिबोध के स्वभाव की लुभावनी खूबी थी. एक साथ ही एक बेचैनी—अपने आपको जानने की, अपने आसपास की दुनिया और उसके लोगों को, उनके और अपने, उनके और दूसरों के संबंधों को समझने की …सच्चाई को, ज़िंदगी के अर्थ को किसी तरह हासिल कर लेने की तड़प.”

अपने मित्र मुक्तिबोध की, ‘ज़िंदगी और साहित्य’ के संस्कार में जो उनसे कतई भिन्न थे, रचनाओं को उनकी मृत्यु के कोई डेढ़ दशक बाद संपादित करते हुए नेमिचंद्र जैन ने यह लिखा. उनके कोई एक दशक बाद नंदकिशोर नवल ने ‘मुक्तिबोध:ज्ञान और संवेदना’ में लिखा,

“मुक्तिबोध की कविताएँ पढ़ते समय जो चीज़ हमारा ध्यान सर्वप्रथम आकर्षित करती है, वह है…ओजस्विता और उदात्तता.”

नेमिजी ने उनमें जिस तड़प और बेचैनी को महसूस किया वही इस उदात्तता का कारण है. मुक्तिबोध का शायद ही कोई पाठक उनकी रचनाओं के आवेश से अछूता रह पाया हो. प्रायः आवेश, ओजस्विता को बौद्धिकता और विवेक के लिए बाधक माना जाता है. शायद इसीलिए अशोक वाजपेयी ने अज्ञेय में विवेक देखा मुक्तिबोध में नहीं. लेकिन भावनाओं में एक सूक्ष्म दृष्टि होती है और उसकी व्यापकता भावनाओं की व्यापकता से तय होती है. मुक्तिबोध ने विवेक और भावना के बीच की कल्पित खाई को ज्ञानात्मक संवेदना और संवेदनात्मक ज्ञान की अपनी अवधारणाओं से पाट दिया था. एक के बिना दूसरे का महत्त्व यदि शून्य नहीं तो अल्प है. इसीलिए मुक्तिबोध की कविताओं की तीव्र और गहन ऐंद्रिकता से अप्रभावित रहना कठिन है, वहीं उनको पढ़ते वक्त ही मार्क्स की यह बात समझ में आती है कि इंद्रियाँ ही सिद्धांतकार होती हैं.  

Continue reading सिर्फ इंसान होने की हैसियत का गुरूर जैसे आसमान, पेड़, या मैदान की शान और शख्सियत

Conceptualizing the Counter-Revolution in the Seventy-Fifth Year of Independence

[‘Parapolitics’ began on 16 January 2020 as a weekly column at the height of the anti-CAA movement. After eight weeks, it was made into a fortnightly column and now, eighteen months and 44 posts later,  as I get involved with a study of Marxisms in the ‘Global South’, beginning with this post, this column will now appear once a month, on the second Saturday of every month.]

The courageous National Dastak reporter Anmol Pritam was being forced by the demonstrators to chant their slogans. 
Image courtesy The News Minute

 

What happened at Jantar Mantar on 9 August – the anniversary of the Quit India movement – was not just violently anti-Muslim in the slogans raised; it was also symptomatic of the larger counter-revolutionary shift that has taken place in our politics. That Quit India or the ‘August revolution’ day was sought to be taken over as a final gesture of that grand victory that the Sangh Combine believes it has already won, is telling. It is telling also because it is a formation that studiously stayed away from the mainstream of the anticolonial struggle but now wants to take over that legacy and saffronize it. How the rally was organized and continued to be held despite the police claiming it had no permission to do so, does not remain so much of a mystery once you realize that the key organizers are Sangh/BJP leaders or parts of the larger network of terror associated with them. But that is another matter. It is important to recognize that incidents like these are but signs of a new stage in the ongoing counter-revolution where the Hindu Right is no longer content with claiming its own distinctiveness in opposing mainstream (Congress-led) nationalism but is out to make a determined bid to appropriate the entire legacy of that nationalism. The insistence, in recent times, on the national tricolour as a sign of its aggressive nationalism, is entirely of a piece with this attempt to occupy the mainstream.

Continue reading Conceptualizing the Counter-Revolution in the Seventy-Fifth Year of Independence

resisting the papa state? E Bull jet brothers or hadiya?

In the recent controversy over the arrest of the travel vloggers Ebin and Libin who rode high on popularity with lakhs of subscribers through their Youtube channel E Bull Jet, it is very hard not to side with the two young men. The flamboyant pair whose hugely popular travel — or ‘van life’ — videos have a massive following especially among male adolescents and youth — are school drop-outs and have a history of rising from severe social disadvantage — literally, of pulling themselves up by their own bootstraps. The two young men, despite their excesses, pull at your heartstrings. Their smile, their slang, their sense of excitement on the road, the innocent gawking — all of it looks disarmingly innocent. It is also true that the crime they committed was not major; nor is justice handed out evenly. That is, such crimes around vehicles and driving are not new and it is not at all clear if the powerful who commit such crimes are tackled in the same way. Therefore the video which showed the brothers being hauled into the police van was painful for many of us (including me) — Ebin wept aloud, “adikkalle saare! Njaan onnum cheithilla … kolapaathakiyeppole enne kondupokunnu….” (don’t beat me please, sir. I didn’t do anything wrong . … I am being taken away like a murderer). That despondent wail somehow refuses to get out of my head; that is why I need to write this.

Continue reading resisting the papa state? E Bull jet brothers or hadiya?

The Subjugated Subjects of a Free Country and The Creation of the New Colony: Dipankar Bhattacharya

Guest post by DIPANKAR BHATTACHARYA

This piece was originally published in Bangla in the Ananda Bazar Patrika and has been translated into English by Arundhati Ghosh

The 1857 Revolt, representational image courtesy TheHansIndia

“Freedom – you are a room in the garden, the song of the koel, the sun drenched leaves of the old banyan tree, the page of my book of poetry where I can write as I wish.” Poet Shamsur Rahman wrote this immortal poem Freedom You during the war of the independence of Bangladesh. It could be said that this poem that arose from deep within Bangladesh’s struggle for liberation is a universal manifesto of freedom. Bangladesh has crossed its 50th year of independence. And in India we are standing at the threshold of our 75th. But where is that song of the koel, that book of poetry where one can write anything one wants? The rally of death that we are witnessing during this Covid-19 era has left the koel woeful, the leaves of the banyan devoid of its sparkle and the pages of our book of poems imprisoned under the UAPA or sedition laws or subjected to the surveillance of the snooping Pegasus vision of conspirators passing for ministers.

Continue reading The Subjugated Subjects of a Free Country and The Creation of the New Colony: Dipankar Bhattacharya

मित्र : बिना तुम्हारे, यह यथार्थ हो जाएगा उद्भ्रांत व्यंग्य श्री-हीन दीन

मुक्तिबोध शृंखला:38

“मुक्तिबोध की कविताओं में सदैव एक साथीपन का भाव है.” शमशेर बहादुर सिंह ने ‘चाँद का मुँह टेढ़ा है’ की भूमिका में लिखा. इसके साथ यह कि मुक्तिबोध की कविता जैसे “हमारी बातें हमीं को सुनाती हो और हम अपने को एकदम चकित होकर देखते हैं, और पहले से और भी अधिक पहचानने लगते हैं.”

साथीपन, मित्रता और क्या है अगर वह हमारा आइना नहीं जिसमें देखते हुए हम खुद को पहले से अधिक पहचानने लगते हैं. ‘अँधेरे में’ कविता के पहले अंश में पदचाप सुनाई देती है जिससे दिल की धड़कन बढ़ जाती है. जो सुनाई देता है, लेकिन नहीं देता दिखाई, वह कौन है? कविता में आगे एक आकार उभरता है. क्या वह इस ध्वनि का ही रूप है? लेकिन वह दिखाई तो देता है पर जाना नहीं जाता. और बाद में जब सलिल के तम श्यान शीशे में एक चेहरा उभरता है तो वह समझ में नहीं आता. कविता फिर जंगल के बीच एक खोह में मशाल के लाल प्रकाश के धुंधलके में वह दिखलाई देता है: गौर वर्ण, सौम्य मुख, दीप्त दृग, भव्य आजानुबाहु!

Continue reading मित्र : बिना तुम्हारे, यह यथार्थ हो जाएगा उद्भ्रांत व्यंग्य श्री-हीन दीन

Knoxpet to Murphy Town – and back: Janaki Nair

Guest Post by JANAKI NAIR

Images by CLARE ARNI

Inside the home of Arun, standing in front of the mural he created (August 2021)

Twenty one years ago, the photographer Clare Arni and I meandered through Murphy Town, shooting images for my exhibition and book on Bangalore. I had eyes only for the physical-material fabric of the place. A working class neighbourhood, designed in the 1920s by an inspired municipal engineer, Murphy, who wanted to build urban forms that would elevate the then leather workers – Tamil speaking Chuckliars producing saddles and boots for the army – to a higher and more respectable place than they had been assigned  in the cruelly divided, hierarchical world of caste.  I had read about the plans for transforming the area called Knoxpet in the archives, and wanted to see for myself how this unique experiment in social engineering had turned out in what came to called Murphy Town.

It was a near idyllic place, dotted with squares rimmed by low, tiled houses, shaded by at least two, sometimes more, capacious raintrees. Lines of washing sometimes crossed the squares, and there were goats and chickens minding their business, but it was a sight for sore eyes, a quiet leafy neighbourhood that workers – and shoemakers at that — could only dream about. We were content to feast our eyes on those visuals. I don’t think I fully realized the social importance of that little miracle that had been wrought in brick and tiles. The exhibition, Beladide Noda, Bengaluru Nagara! was held in three locations in Bangalore in 2000, and the book came out in 2005. They both featured the famous squares of Murphy Town. Continue reading Knoxpet to Murphy Town – and back: Janaki Nair

DISSENT, DEBATE, CREATE

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