State of the judiciary and reforms required : Prashant Bhushan

Democracy Dialogues Lecture Series Organised by New Socialist Initiative – 3 rd Lecture

Topic: State of the Judiciary and Reforms Required
Speaker: Prashant Bhushan, eminent Supreme Court lawyer and civil rights activist
Date and Time: Sunday, September 20, 2020 at 6 PM IST

Zoom and Facebook Live details in the poster below.

Image may contain: one or more people, text that says 'Democracy Dialogues 3rd Lecture State of the Judiciary and Reforms Required Time: 20 Sep 2020 06:00 PM India Join us on Zoom!! Meeting ID: 848 2963 1643 Passcode: 799603 f fb.com/newsocialistinitiative.nsi Live link: Prashant Bhushan Public Interest Lawyer and Civil Liberty Activist New Socialist Initiative A World for the Workers! A Future for the World'

[New Socialist Initiative Presents Democracy Dialogues – Lecture Series

The idea behind this series – which we call ‘Democracy Dialogues’ – is basically to initiate as well as join in the on-going conversation around this theme in academic as well as activist circles.

The inaugural lecture in the series was delivered by Prof Suhas Palshikar on 12 th July 2020. The theme of Prof Palshikar’s presentation was  TRAJECTORY OF INDIA’S DEMOCRACY AND CONTEMPORARY CHALLENGES, Professor Pratap Bhanu Mehta delivered the second lecture on THE STRUCTURAL CONTRADICTIONS OF INDIAN DEMOCRACY AND THE RISE OF THE BJP on 16 th August 2020 ]

Jadavpur alumni in solidarity with Dr. Maroona Murmu in face of casteist/racist violence in Indian academia

Statement of solidarity from JU alumni

As alumni of Jadavpur University (JU), we condemn the casteist abuses hurled against a renowned professor of History at Jadavpur University, Dr. Maroona Murmu, because of her identity as an Adivasi.

The remarks were made in response to Dr. Murmu’s comment that an academic year was not more important than a student’s life and that in-person examination during the ongoing deadly coronavirus pandemic was not a good idea. This was admittedly a reasonable stand in face of the government’s decision to hold exams during the Covid-19 outbreak. In response, she received casteist abuses from an undergraduate student who called her out on social media as a “worthless, undeserving idiot” (“jogyotaheen opodartho” in Bengali). It questioned both her scholarly credibility and her right to speak out on any aspect of academic life (the security and well-being of students during a contagious disease outbreak, for instance). The student then went on to “remind” Dr. Murmu of her identity as an Adivasi Santhal and her inferior position in the caste hierarchy that made her unworthy of any consideration. This was followed by over 1800 trolls and rebukes. It is continuing. Continue reading Jadavpur alumni in solidarity with Dr. Maroona Murmu in face of casteist/racist violence in Indian academia

JNU Teachers Association condemns the arrest of Umar Khalid

Statement issued by JNUTA, representing the voices of JNU faculty 

The JNUTA condemns the arrest by the Special Cell of the Delhi Police of former JNU student, Umar Khalid, under the draconian UAPA. This is yet another instance of the never ending witch hunt being conducted by the Delhi Police in the name of inquiring into the February 2020 riots in Delhi, an inquiry with which Umar Khalid had been voluntary cooperating. The JNUTA notes that Umar Khalid had also been one of those specially targeted during the vicious slander campaign unleashed against JNU in February 2016 and had then been charged with ‘sedition’. That smear campaign fuelled by sections of the media had put his life in danger and in 2018 he fortuitously survived a murderous attack against him. Since then he was supposed to be under the ‘protection’ of the Police and yet he is accused of having been part of a ‘conspiracy’ for instigating the violence in North-East Delhi. It is clear, therefore, that his safety is at risk even when he is in custody and not just because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Continue reading JNU Teachers Association condemns the arrest of Umar Khalid

Ethics of Selective Outrage – On Converting Mosques and Museums: Aejaz Ahmad and Irshad Rashid

Guest post by AEJAZ AHMAD and IRSHAD RASHID

What does turning Hagia Sophia into a mosque mean for global political practice? 

In an unusally brazen move Turkey’s top court recently ruled in favour of transforming Hagia Sophia, a museum of global tourist attraction, into a mosque. Originally a cathedral built in pre-Islamic Turkey but converted into a mosque when Ottomans invaded Constantinople in 1453, with the liquidation of the Ottoman Empire, Attaturk transformed it into a museum in 1934 as a secular gesture to herald what is called modern secular Turkey. This was more recently followed by  transforming another historic Chora Church, that went exactly through the same iteration, into yet another mosque.

Continue reading Ethics of Selective Outrage – On Converting Mosques and Museums: Aejaz Ahmad and Irshad Rashid

How to really compensate for injustice committed

It is disheartening when the Constitution is not followed in letter and spirit, but the balm of monetary compensation will not fix the problem.

Dr Kafeel Khan Speech allahabad hc

Someone must have been telling lies about Joseph K, he knew he had done nothing wrong but one morning, he was arrested.

These opening lines of Franz Kafka’s classic novel, The Trial, published just over a century ago, in 1925, still ring true. 

Joseph K, the novel’s protagonist, is cashier at a bank. On his 30th birthday, two unidentified agents arrest him for an unspecified crime. The plot of the novel revolves around his efforts to deduce what the charges against him are, and which never become explicit. Joseph K’s feverish hopes to redeem himself of these unknown charges fail and he is executed at a small quarry outside the city—“like a dog”—two days before his 31st birthday.

Kafka, a major figure of 20th century-literature died of tuberculosis in 1924, when he was barely 40 years old. He had wanted all his manuscripts, including of the unfinished The Trial, destroyed after his death, but close friend and executor of his will, Max Brod, ignored the instruction and the world gained a strong literary indictment of an apathetic and inhuman bureaucracy and how completely it can lack respect for civil rights. 

Kafka’s novel resonates with us today for it is not difficult to spot people who have been wronged by our system. Their endless wait for justice, especially those charged with petty crimes, or those who spend the prime of their lives behind bars on concocted charges, is on open public display. 

( Read the full article here )

Delhi Police inquiry into Delhi violence 2020: Statement by Prof Apoorvanand

Delhi Police continues its motivated “enquiry” into the systematic and planned violence  in NE Delhi in February 2020, framing through fake “disclosure statements” and “confessions”, students, teachers, film makers, activists and other citizens who peacefully protested the unconstitutional CAA.

In this context, reports in the media yesterday stated that Delhi Police have filed a supplementary chargesheet naming, among others, Apoorvanand, Professor of Hindi at Delhi University, well known academic, fellow Kafila collective member and a relentless defender of democracy, which is under severe threat from this regime. 

The following statement has been issued by him in response.

Statement by Prof Apoorvanand

It has been brought to my notice that a supplementary Chargesheet filed in connection with FIR 50/2020 has certain disclosure statements by accused in custody, that mention my name, together with that of Rahul Roy, Umar Khalid, Jayati Ghosh , Sita Ram Yechuri and Yogendra Yadav. These names are mentioned in uncorroborated statements attributed to accused who are in custody, where it is claimed that they provided support in organising the anti- CAA protests. Continue reading Delhi Police inquiry into Delhi violence 2020: Statement by Prof Apoorvanand

राष्ट्रीय शिक्षा नीति 2020 – पिछले तजुर्बों से बेख़बर एक दस्तावेज़ : राजेन्द्र चौधरी

Guest post by RAJINDER CHAUDHARY

राष्ट्रीय शिक्षा नीति 2020 के दो मुख्य भाग हैं, स्कूली शिक्षा और उच्च शिक्षा. हम इन दोनों क्षेत्रों का मूल्यांकन करेंगे. किसी भी नीति की तरह इस शिक्षा नीति में भी कुछ स्वागत योग्य कदम हैं, कुछ कमियाँ हैं, कुछ बातें छूट गई हैं और कुछ खतरनाक पहलू हैं. हम तीनों पक्षों को चिन्हित करने का प्रयास करेंगे. दुर्भाग्य से इस नीति के दो अलग अलग अंग्रेजी प्रारूप सरकारी वेब साइटों पर उपलब्ध हैं. एक 60 पृष्ठों का और एक 66 पृष्ठों का है. दोनों की अंतर्वस्तु में भी महत्वपूर्ण अंतर है पर इन प्रारूपों में तिथि नहीं दी गई, इस लिए यह तय करना संभव नहीं है कि कौन सा नया है और कौन सा पुराना है. इस विमर्श हेतू हमने 66 पन्नों वाले दस्तावेज़ का प्रयोग किया है. 

काफी समय से एकविषयक कालेज जैसे बीएड कालेज, इंजीनियरिंग कालेज या बिना विज्ञान संकाय या केवल विज्ञान संकाय के +2 स्कूल तो चल ही रहे थे पर हाल ही में एक विषयक विश्वविद्यालयों का चलन बढ़ा है. जैसे स्वास्थ्य, खेल, संस्कृत, बागवानी विश्विविद्यालय इत्यादि. ऐसे एकविषयक संस्थानों में छात्रों को समग्र विकास का मौका नहीं मिलता. उनका दृष्टिकोण बहुत सीमित हो जाता है. इस लिए बहुविषयक शिक्षा संस्थान विषयों एवं छात्रों दोनों के समग्र विकास के लिये आवश्यक हैं. इस कमी को नयी शिक्षा नीति में रेखांकित किया है और दूर करने का निर्णय लिया गया है. यह स्वागत योग्य कदम है. स्कूल को छात्रों तक सीमित न रख कर एक ‘सामाजिक चेतना केंद्र’ के तौर पर विकसित करना, कम्पार्टमेंट परीक्षा के साथ स्कूली छात्रों को अंक सुधार हेतु मौका देना, सार्वजानिक एवं स्कूल पुस्तकालयों का विस्तार एवं इन के लिए आवश्यक कर्मचारियों की व्यवस्था, मातृभाषा में शिक्षा को बढ़ावा देने का संकल्प, छात्रों को अपनी रूचि के अनुसार ज़्यादा विविध विषयों में से चुनाव चुनाव का मौका, जैसे कदम स्वागत योग्य हैं. 

Continue reading राष्ट्रीय शिक्षा नीति 2020 – पिछले तजुर्बों से बेख़बर एक दस्तावेज़ : राजेन्द्र चौधरी

Sursamalaya’s Documentary Series “Folk Stories” – Assam Beyond Bihu, Borgeet and Sattriya: Dipanjali Deka

Guest post by DIPANJALI DEKA

I recently finished watching Sursamalaya’s “Folk Stories” on Youtube, a documentary series made during the lockdown.

 “Folk Stories” depicts the art and life of folk artists from many lesser known genres of Assam. It has released one season as of now and is amply promising, for many reasons. One of them is the accessibility offered, in short crisp episodes, to the social and cultural landscape of Assam beyond the genres of Bihu, Borgeet and Sattriya popularly known to the mainstream.

In the first episode, we meet Mehu Bora from Golaghat who builds traditional instruments like tokari (stringed instrument), dotara (stringed instrument), bahi (flute), pepa (hornpipe) etc.

Sur Samalaya Resource Centre for Arts was established in 1990 by renowned folk artist Dijen Gogoi. What began with a small workshop on instrument-making, later took off to train many local youth in producing almost 100 indigenous musical instruments belonging to various communities of North East India. The Research and Documentation cell of Sursamalaya looks into research, publication and documentation on indigenous cultures, under the ambit of which the series “Folk Stories” has come into fruition. Continue reading Sursamalaya’s Documentary Series “Folk Stories” – Assam Beyond Bihu, Borgeet and Sattriya: Dipanjali Deka

सब चंगा सी: मुरीद बरघूती/अनुवाद: आयेशा किदवई

You can see the English translation by Radwa Ashour of the original poem in Arabic by the Palestinian poet Mourid Barghouti , after this translation into Hindustani by AYESHA KIDWAI

The Roadmap Creeps in the Page of My Notebook by Arpita Singh

सब चंगा सी

मैं अपने आप को देखता हूँ:

सब चंगा सी.

अच्छा ही तो दिखता हूँ,

और कुछ लड़कियों को तो,

मेरे पक्के बाल भी भा जाएं;

मेरा चश्मा सुड़ौल है,

शरीर का तापमान ठीक ३७ डिग्री.

इस्त्री-की हुई कमीज़ है मेरी, और मेरे जुते काटते नहीं.

सब चंगा सी. Continue reading सब चंगा सी: मुरीद बरघूती/अनुवाद: आयेशा किदवई

Secularism and the Myth of ‘Hindu’ Tolerance

‘Secularism’ has now become a bad word and it is quite fashionable to attack, criticize and ridicule it. Just about anyone, regardless of whether s/he has spent even a minute thinking about it, can attack it. A television channel  recently even decided to have a vote on whether we should ‘have’ secularism or not, I understand, after an utterly ill-informed debate. It is almost as if the blame for everything that is wrong with Indian society can be laid at the door of this monster called ‘Secularism’. Modern Hindu ideologues have of course, mastered this art of blaming every evil practice of Hindu society on to some ‘Other’: From untouchability and sati to child marriage, purdah and the everyday violence of caste oppression –  everything apparently happened because of ‘Islam’ and Christianity’. Later, Marxism and secularism were added to the list. And while we are at it, let us remember that the great Bal Gangadhar Tilak led what was perhaps the first mass nationalist anticolonial mobilization, against raising the  Age of Consent of girls for sexual intercourse from 10 to 12 years! Much of that righteous indignation continues to be the hallmark of the new defensiveness that the 21st century ‘raging Hindu’  exhibits.

For everything wrong in the behaviour of these adult men with walrus moustaches, an explanation exists in some founding childhood trauma for which their adulthood can never be held responsible! ‘Secularism’ now is the name of the insistence that wants to hold the modern Hindu responsible for his acts today, rather than let it remain suspended in a permanent state of childhood. I suspect, the term ‘secularism’ today, in Hindu Right discourse, is no longer about the ‘separation of religion and politics’ or ‘sarva dharma samabhava‘ (equal respect for all religions) and ‘dharma-nirpekshata‘ (neutrality between religions) at all, but the ghost-house where all the pathologies of this traumatized child(hood) are played out.

Continue reading Secularism and the Myth of ‘Hindu’ Tolerance

People from across Professions and Continents Come out In Solidarity with K. Satyanarayana

UPDATE

Signatures kept coming in even as we closed the campaign in order to collate them. We are adding at the end of the statement, some names received between our closing and releasing the statement to the media. We are aware that there are many more who wanted to sign but we had to close it, in order to release the statement on time. 

We reproduce below a statement signed by over 720 signatories, in solidarity with Prof K. Satyanarayana, who has been summoned by the NIA today, along with senior journalist KV Kurmanath.

The signatories, from across different professions, include luminaries such as Professors Noam Chomsky, Barbara Harris-White, Jan Breman, Susie Tharu, Sumit Sarkar, Tanika Sarkar, Prabhat Patnaik, John Harris, Gyan Prakash, Rajeswari Sunder Rajan and Utsa Patnaik; leading writers and poets like K. Satchidanandan, Mridula Garg, Geeta Kapur and Gita Hariharan, artists like Sudhir Patwardhan and Vivan Sundaram.

It is an expression of the great respect that Prof K Satyanarayana commands among different sections of people, including a large number of students, that so many people added their names to this statement of solidarity in such  a short time.

We, the undersigned academics, journalists and concerned citizens strongly condemn the fresh round of harassment and arrests of academics and activists by the National Investigation Agency (NIA), which is trying to implicate them in the Bhima Koregaon case. After Partho Sarathi Ray, the NIA has now summoned Prof Satyanarayana and senior journalist KV Kurmanath to appear before it on 9 September. And even as these summons were being served, the NIA has also arrested Sagar Gorkhe and Ramesh Gaichor of the Kabir Kala Manch in connection with the same case.

Dr. K. Satyanarayana is Professor at the Department of Cultural Studies at the English and Foreign Languages University, Hyderabad. He has been instrumental in establishing Dalit Studies as an academic discipline and has a formidable reputation as a scholar and teacher.

Continue reading People from across Professions and Continents Come out In Solidarity with K. Satyanarayana

NEP 2020 – elitist and corporatized education under Hindu Rashtra

This study of the National Education Policy 2020, apart from my own  analysis, draws on extensive commentary on the final document and its earlier drafts, by education policy experts and teachers, including my own union,  JNU Teachers’ Association, which undertook a detailed critique of the Draft NEP 2019.  This needs to be said because neither educationists nor academics were consulted in the process of making the initial policy, nor were states, despite the fact that education is a concurrent subject. We begin therefore with the procedure of finalizing the NEP 2020.

Faulty procedures of formulating and finalizing the policy

No consultative process

All previous education policies have undergone massive consultation processes, as Niraja Gopal Jayal outlines, but not this one. At the press conference announcing the policy, Gopal Jayal points out, it was claimed that an “unprecedented collaborative, inclusive, and highly participatory consultation process” was conducted, but it is clear from the single slide that was shown, that states were not consulted at all.

Continue reading NEP 2020 – elitist and corporatized education under Hindu Rashtra

Statement of Solidarity for Dr. Maroona Murmu from the Faculty of Presidency University

We are publishing below the following statement in support of and solidarity with Dr Maroona Murmu, signed by more than eighty faculty members of Presidency University, was issued yesterday.  

We, the undersigned teachers of Presidency University, Kolkata, are shocked to know about the recent attacks on Dr. Maroona Murmu, Associate Professor of History, Jadavpur University, Kolkata.

Dr. Murmu is an accomplished scholar, an activist, and an intellectual. She is an important voice of our time insofar as she regularly writes and speaks about the rights and plights of the Adivasi community. She is a unique personality to have graced the academia with her rare ability to combine scholarship with activism.

We are aware that the academic space in West Bengal, as elsewhere in the country, is, even today, predominantly Brahminical. Students and teachers hailing from SC, ST, and OBC communities regularly face discrimination due to their caste and tribal backgrounds. The suicides of Chuni Kotal, Rohith Vemula, and Payal Tadvi amply demonstrate the fatal consequences of such discrimination. As various instances from academic institutions from across the country suggest, not only students but teachers from such communities also face victimization regularly. We are also aware that only a tiny percentage of such instances of discrimination make it to the news.

Continue reading Statement of Solidarity for Dr. Maroona Murmu from the Faculty of Presidency University

Has Indian democracy been facebooked ?

Those who disagreed that the internet would challenge dictatorships have been proven right.

facebook India

Belarus-born American writer Evgeny Morozov, a scholar of the political and social implications of technology, is among the early technology sceptics whose words have now proved prescient. Morozov had questioned the claim that the internet would challenge dictatorships even at an inconvenient time to do so. While thousands were out on streets during the Arab Spring, he delivered a Ted Talk on How Internet Aids Dictatorships. Considering that the Arab Spring protests had been organised and coordinated through social media, it quite a brave, even blasphemous, thing to do in those days.

Morozov’s 2011 book, The Net Delusion: The Dark Side of Internet Freedom, focuses on two delusions, namely, “cyber-utopianism” or the belief that the internet fosters an inherently emancipatory culture; and “internet-centrism” or the belief that every important question about modern society and politics can be framed in terms of the internet. His views were considered eccentric for the mood around the net was celebratory at the time. To cite another instance, the noted journal, MIT Technology Review, wrote in 2013 that new technologies would prove “deadly to dictators”. 

( Read the full text here)

Statement by concerned citizens against Delhi Police’s conduct of the probe into Delhi riots 2020

DELHI POLICE – WE, THE CITIZENS OF INDIA, OBJECT TO THE MANNER OF THE DELHI RIOTS PROBE

RESTORE PUBLIC FAITH IN YOUR INVESTIGATION

 Stop coercing ‘confessional’ statements to manufacture evidence

Stop falsely implicating people, including Umar Khalid

Stop wrongly invoking UAPA to give the colour of conspiracy against the state

Over 1000 citizens from all walks of life including, filmmaker Aparna Sen; former Culture Secretary culture Jawahar Sircar; Historian Ramchandra Guha; former Chairperson, Delhi Minority Commission Dr. Zafarul-Islam Khan; Former Governor, Margaret Alva; Academics –  Zoya Hasan, Partha Chatterjee, Jayati Ghosh, Poonam Batra, Sucharita Sen; former senior civil servants – Wajahat Habibullah, Madhu Bhaduri, Deb Mukherjee, Amitabha Pande, Sundar Burra, Aditi Mehta; feminists and trans rights activists – Meera Sanghamitra, Vani Subramanian, Chayanika Shah, Hasina Khan;  Journalists – Vidya Subrahmaniam, Geeta Seshu, Manoj Mitta, Anjali Mody, Antara Dev Sen, Priyanka Borpujari; political leaders, Brinda Karat, Annie Raja, Kavita Krishnan; Artists Kiran Sehgal, Shuddabrata Sengupta & Writer Aruna Vasudev; Social activists – Magsasay Awardees Aruna Roy and Sandeep Pandey; Democratic rights activists Jagdeep Chhokar, Henri Tiphane, Teesta Setalvad, John Dayal, Lara Jesani; Former Chief of Naval Staff, Admiral Ramdas; Scientist, Amitabha Basu, along with scores of others – have issued an urgent statement, strongly objecting to the manner in which Delhi Police has been conducting the probe into the riots cases, and calling on them to restore the public’s faith in the investigation.

Citing strong evidence of coerced ‘confessional’ statements and manufactured evidence, the signatories have sought assurances from the Delhi Police Commissionerate that these practices will be stopped, and have urged them to conduct a fair and impartial investigation to book the real culprits of the riots.

We are alarmed by the news that on Sept 1, 2020, Umar Khalid sent a letter to the Delhi Police Commissioner, Shri SN Shrivastava, with shocking evidence of the Delhi Police manufacturing evidence against him, through extorted statements. The letter reveals that a young man was interrogated by the Delhi Police (Special Cell) and a false confession against Umar Khalid, related to Delhi riots, was extracted and videotaped. The young man was threatened that he would be arrested under UAPA if he refused. He submitted to the coercion for he was scared, and yet his conscience allowed him to speak up about what had transpired.

Continue reading Statement by concerned citizens against Delhi Police’s conduct of the probe into Delhi riots 2020

South Africa’s Climate Justice Charter

On October 16th the Climate Justice Charter will be taken to South Africa’s national parliament, together with the climate science future document, with the demand it be adopted as per section 234 of the South African constitution, which provides for charters to be adopted. All political parties will be invited to a debate on the Charter and will be asked to champion its adoption, based on the current consensus climate science which highlights that South Africa and Southern Africa are heating at twice the global average.

The South African Food Sovereignty Campaign and allies have been leading the building of  a  mass based climate justice movement for the past six years, during the worst drought in the history of the country. Their mass driven resistance has included a hunger tribunal, drought speak outs, a national bread march, food sovereignty festivals, the development of their own Food Sovereignty Act which they took to parliament and several government departments, protest action against food corporations, the media, the   stock exchange  and the second largest carbon emitter in the country called SASOL. In the context of 2019 deep dialogues were held with drought affected communities, the media, labour unions, children/youth and social and environmental justice organisations. All this work of resistance, dialogue  and learning  produced a draft climate justice charter, out of a national conference in November 2019. Since then the document has received  online input, including from a children/youth led online assembly on June 16th and then finally the document was launched on August 28th.

We in India can learn from, build on and connect to such initiatives globally, especially from the global South.

Here is the full text of the South African Climate Justice Charter Continue reading South Africa’s Climate Justice Charter

यह भी तो ठीक है : मुरीद बरघूती/अनुवाद: आयेशा किदवई

You can see the English translation by Radwa Ashour of the original poem in Arabic by the Palestinian poet Mourid Barghouti , after this translation into Hindustani by AYESHA KIDWAI

http://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/454359

“The Death of King Dasharatha, the Father of Rama”, Folio from a Ramayana ca. 1605. Courtesy the Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art

 

ऐसे मरना भी ठीक है, अपने बिस्तर में

साफ़ तकिया पर सर रखे

अपने दोस्तों के बीच.

ऐसे मरना भी तो ठीक है,

चाहे एक बार ही सही,

हाथ सीने पर बांधे हुए,

खाली, बेरौनक़,

बिन एक भी खरौंच के,

बिन बेड़ियों के,

बिन बैनर उठाये,

बिन याचिका दिए. Continue reading यह भी तो ठीक है : मुरीद बरघूती/अनुवाद: आयेशा किदवई

The ‘Ecopolitical’ Imperative and the Janta Parliament

 

Janta Parliament, Environment session – courtesy Let India Breathe

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, goes an old Chinese saying.  In the present context, that single step – and an absolutely essential step – for reclaiming the soul of India, is the coimng together of the social movements, non-party groups and the political parties – and this was accomplished in the six-day Janta Parliament held from 16-21 August as an online event. Organized by Jan Sarokar – a forum of 31 organizations and loose platforms ranging from Left aligned women’s organizations, National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM), National Campaign for Dalit Human Rights (NCDHR) and National Campaign for People’s Right to Information, to loose networks like Not In My Name – the people’s parliament managed to bring together many political parties together as well in the event. As a kind of base paper, Jan Sarokar had prepared a comprehensive 75-page document entitled ‘People’s Policy for Post-COVID 19 Times‘ covering important and urgent policy initiatives on practically every aspect of economic and social life. Attended by representatives of the Congress, the Left parties, the RJD and AAP among others, the people’s parliament session ended with the representatives of the parties present affirming support to the perspectives emerging out the resolutions adopted, which they felt could form the basis for a Common Minimum Programme not only for the political parties but also between parties and social / people’s movements. Continue reading The ‘Ecopolitical’ Imperative and the Janta Parliament

Why Bloomsbury withdrawing ‘Delhi Riots 2020’ is not about freedom of expression: Nivedita Menon and Aditya Nigam

This post is jointly written by NIVEDITA MENON & ADITYA NIGAM

Bloomsbury India has withdrawn the book Delhi Riots 2020 in the face of massive outrage at its publication. While we commend Bloomsbury’s decision to withdraw, we also note that its statement explaining this act ends with the the following sentence:

‘Bloomsbury India strongly supports freedom of speech but also has a deep sense of responsibility towards society.’

The implication here is clear for those who want to see it. The publication of the book was a matter of ‘freedom of speech’, while its withdrawal comes from a ‘deep sense of responsibility towards society’.

At the outset let us state that we do not question the publication of books with which we do not agree, because intellectual and political differences of opinion, and the freedom to express these are the life blood of a democracy. We have not at any point questioned other publications by Bloomsbury, or by other publishing houses, that express views that support the current regime (which has consistently throttled such freedom of expression, and by whom many of us personally are under serious attack). Nor have we raised objections to the flood of hastily turned out books by many publishers that produce intellectually unsustainable arguments that bolster the politics of the anti-constitutional, Brahminical Hindu Rashtra.

So let us spell out what is reprehensible about Delhi Riots 2020 and why it should not have been published in the first place.

Continue reading Why Bloomsbury withdrawing ‘Delhi Riots 2020’ is not about freedom of expression: Nivedita Menon and Aditya Nigam

Corporate Social Media in India: Sell Hate, Enjoy Profit

The bias that social media platforms such as Facebook display reflects their own world-view as much as it does the regimes they support.

Corporate Social Media in India

A few gave the appearance of being truly psychopathic individuals. The mass of others were ragged and illiterate peasants easily roused to hatred of the Tutsi. Perhaps the most sinister people I met were the educated political elite, men and women of charm and sophistication who spoke flawless French and who could engage in long philosophical debates about the nature of war and democracy. But they shared one thing in common with the soldiers and the peasants: they were drowning in the blood of their fellow countrymen.

Fergal Kane, a journalist with the BBC, wrote these chilling lines in his book, Season of Blood: A Rwandan Journey, winner of the Orwell prize in 1995. The organised and planned killing in Rwanda, one of the darkest episodes of the 20th century, resulted in the death of eight lakh Tutsi.

It is a strange coincidence that a year and a half before these unfortunate developments, the biggest democracy in the world went through its own cataclysmic moment, when Hindutva supremacist forces demolished a 500-year-old mosque after a long and bloody campaign. Even after the demolition large-scale communal riots broke out all over India, in which thousands died and whose scars are still difficult to heal.

There is at least one thing in common between what Rwanda went through and what India witnessed in 1992: both tragedies demonstrated how the media can prepare and provoke ordinary people into unleashing untold miseries on their neighbours. Continue reading Corporate Social Media in India: Sell Hate, Enjoy Profit

Muscular Law Reform in Times of a Pandemic: Pratiksha Baxi

Guest Post by PRATIKSHA BAXI

In May 2020, the Ministry of Home Affairs constituted a Committee to recommend reforms in criminal laws in India with NLU Delhi.  The National Level Committee for Reforms in Criminal Laws (henceforth, the NLUD Committee) is to review and recommend changes to the Indian Penal Code, Criminal Procedure Code and the Indian Evidence Act in 90 odd days. On 26 June 2020, responses were solicited from experts on ‘questionnaires highlighting issues in the Indian Penal Code, Code of Criminal Procedure and Indian Evidence Act’ for which experts were invited to register. The Committee has uploaded a questionnaire, extended time for experts to reply and announced concessional consultation with non-experts. 68 Bare Acts, and 89 Law Commission Reports, along with some links and some op-eds by committee members are uploaded on the website, as resources for experts. The Open Consultation can be accessed for a period of two months starting from 17 July 2020  to 16 September 2020. This process is virtual since the process of reviewing and revising criminal law is being performed during a pandemic.

Continue reading Muscular Law Reform in Times of a Pandemic: Pratiksha Baxi

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