All posts by Aditya Nigam

Fears and Furies of Online (Mis)education – Lockdown and Beyond: Maya John

Guest post by MAYA JOHN

Under the condition of lockdown while we are confronted with images and accounts of the suffering of the labouring poor, and all around us there appears to be a pervasive social chaos, in our universities students and teachers are supposed to return to an atomized life condition, and essentially pursue academic work as if all is normal. Teachers and students are expected to simply ignore wider public responsibilities and recoil to their private window to online teaching-learning. The diktats of university bureaucracies that have been issued in the midst of tremendous socio-economic crisis reduce teachers to a role akin to those of musicians who continued to entertain on the sinking Titanic. Now, after the formalities of so-called online education have been fulfilled, a specter of online examinations haunts the wider student community.

Disappearance of education in the online mode

The pronouncements of Delhi University (DU) regarding online examinations for its final year students of undergraduate and postgraduate (Masters) courses, have added to the anxieties of large number of students and teachers, who have been grappling with a disrupted semester in the wake of the lockdown, and the stupendous challenges of online teaching-learning. More or less, institutions of higher education across the country are facing this predicament. The grim situation warrants a close scrutiny of the concerns of teachers and students about e-learning and online examinations.

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The Ferocious Face of Class War – Rekindling the Revolutionary Imagination

 

Pyramid of Capitalist System, 1911 image from Industrial Worker (paperof Industrial Workers of the World)

Face of Class War in Contemporary India

It is time again to state one thing absolutely clearly. ‘Class struggle’ or ‘class warfare’ were not invented by Karl Marx, for he and his predecessors merely identified and named the beast. It is something that the rich and the powerful always did and continue to do as we speak. Look at the way the Indian lumpenbourgeoisie has bared its fangs, even as the country is reeling under the deadly impact of COVID 19; look at the way it is sharpening its knives, waiting for its opportunity to make a kill – and you will know what class war is all about. Look at them and it will be crystal clear that it is not the hapless migrant worker and the poor – or the peasant who silently commits suicide – who  indulge in this thing called class war, but they who prey on the weak and the dispossessed. They are once again preparing to make good their losses by yoking in workers as slaves, not allowing them to travel safely back to their homes, keeping them hostage to lumpencapital and ready with  their plans to make them work for 12 hours a day. There isn’t even a pretense – barring an Azim Premji here or an Asian Paints there – of recognizing workers as partners or stakeholders in business.

In a sense, ‘lumpencapitalism’ and the ‘lumpenbourgeoisie’ are the general form of Indian capital, pioneered by Dhirubhai Ambani and his Reliance Industries (interested readers can  read The Polyester Prince by Hamish McDonald) and its arrival with Gautam Adani whose recent rise to front ranks is generally understood to be linked to his closeness to the present regime. And in between, we have conglomerates like Sahara India, whose ‘primitive accumulation’ is alleged to have come almost entirely through chit fund theft.

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Covid-19 and the Idea of India: Manish Thakur and Nabanipa Bhattacharjee

Guest post by MANISH THAKUR and NABANIPA BHATTACHARJEE

Much has already been said and written about the plight of the migrants during the lockdown necessitated by the current Covid-19 outbreak in India. The visual images of their endless walk – which reminds us of the flight of Partition refugees – in their desperate bid to reach home in the scorching summer heat on almost empty stomachs with throats parched (women in tow with the children on men’s shoulders and their meagre belongings on the heads) is heart-wrenching to say the least. Whatever be the cause, it is a living testimony to the entrenched structures of poor governance that define our polity. It is also revealing of the class character of the Indian state, a term that has for long left the public discourse of our republic. One need not invoke Marx or be a communist to see the glaring contrast in the ways say, for instance, state functionaries conduct themselves at airports in Delhi or Kochi and railway stations at Barkakana in Jharkhand or Bapu Dham, Motihari in Bihar.

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भारत की कोरोना नीति के चंद नुक्सानदेह पहलू: राजेन्द्र चौधरी

Guest post by RAJINDER CHAUDHARY

कोरोना से हमारा वास्ता अभी लम्बे समय तक चलने वाला है. काफिला पर छपे पिछले आलेखों में (यहाँ एवं यहाँ) में हम ने इस के सही और गलत, दोनों तरह के सबकों की चर्चा की थी पर भारत की करोना नीति की समीक्षा नहीं की थी.  आपदा और युद्ध काल में एक कहा-अनकहा दबाव रहता है कि सरकार को पूरा समर्थन दिया जाए और उस की आलोचना न की जाय पर कोरोना के मुकाबले के लिए भारत में अपनाई गई रणनीति की समीक्षा ज़रूरी है; यह समीक्षा लम्बे समय तक चलने वाली इस आपदा में रणनीति में सुधार का मौका दे सकती है. कोरोना से कैसे निपटना चाहिए इस में निश्चित तौर पर सब से बड़ी भूमिका तो कोरोना वायरस की प्रकृति की है- ये गर्मी में मरेगा या सर्दी में या नहीं ही मरेगा; बूढों को ज्यादा मारेगा या बच्चों को, इन तथ्यों का इस से निपटने की रणनीति तय करने में सब से बड़ी भूमिका है. इस लिए भारत में कोरोना की लड़ाई के मूल्यांकन से पहले हमें वायरस की प्रकृति के बारे में उपलब्ध जानकारी को रेखांकित करना होगा.

कोरोना वायरस के नए स्वरूप की बुनियादी प्रकृति

कोरोना किस्म के वायरस वैज्ञानिकों के लिए नए नहीं हैं. ये पहले भी उभरते रहे हैं और वैज्ञानिक इन का लगातार अध्ययन करते रहे हैं. परन्तु हाल में कोरोना किस्म के वायरस का एक नया स्वरूप सामने आया है, जिस से उत्पन्न होने वाली नयी बीमारी को कोविड नाम दिया गया है.  इस लिए कोरोना के इस नए वायरस के बारे में अभी सब कुछ पक्के तौर पर नहीं कहा जा सकता. अभी इस की पड़ताल चल रही है.  फिर भी दुनिया भर के वैज्ञानिकों के मिले जुले काम से और कोरोना के पहले से उपलब्ध वायरसों के जीवन चक्र को ध्यान में रखते हुए कुछ बाते काफी हद तक स्पष्ट हैं.  इन के बारे में आम तौर पर वैज्ञानिकों में सर्वानुमति है. हालाँकि विश्व स्वास्थ्य संगठन को सर्वज्ञानी तो नहीं माना जा सकता परन्तु काफी हद तक इस द्वारा प्रदत जानकारी पर भरोसा किया जा सकता है.

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Hari Vasudevan, the Soviet Archives and the Left Establishment: Sobhanlal Datta Gupta

This tribute to Prof HARI VASUDEVAN by Prof SOBHANLAL DATTA GUPTA, who passed away in Kolkata recently, is being reproduced here, courtesy Mainstream Weekly.

Thereafter, as we proceeded in our work on the publication of the texts of the documents, we began to face insurmountable resistance, quite surprisingly, from a section of the Left establishment in West Bengal. We were threatened, maligned and discouraged not to proceed with this work any further and ridiculed for our research on documents which were described as “fake” and “doctored”.

It was May, 1995, exactly 25 years ago. Hari Vasudevan (Calcutta University), Purabi Roy (Jadavpur University) and I myself (Calcutta University) were in Moscow for two months, working as a team sent by The Asiatic Society, Calcutta in connection with a project of collection of documents from the newly opened Soviet archives on Indo-Russian Relations : 1917-1947. This project was the result of a Protocol signed between The Asiatic Society, Calcutta and Moscow’s Institute of Oriental Studies. With extremely limited funding we were expected to prepare catalogues of as many documents as possible and bring home photocopies/microfilms of those documents which we considered most important, depending, of course, upon their accessibility. It was a Herculean job, since we had no idea of the materials we had to handle. Working on hundreds and hundreds of documents, catalouging and copying them (in many cases because of paucity of funds and since we had no laptop, quite often we had to take down a document by hand) demanded a division of labour. While Purabidi worked in the State Archives of the Russian Federation (GARF), Archives of the Ministry of External Affairs (MID), Russian State Military Historical Archive (RGVIA), Hari and I worked in the former Central Party Archives, Institute of Marxism-Leninism (now known as Russian State Archive for Social and Political History or RGASPI ). Continue reading Hari Vasudevan, the Soviet Archives and the Left Establishment: Sobhanlal Datta Gupta

Paean – A Song for Triumphs, For Usha Ganguly and Irrfan Khan: The Mocking Birds

Guest Post by the group THE MOCKING BIRDS

आज की रात न फ़ुट-पाथ पे नींद आएगी
सब उठो, मैं भी उठूँ तुम भी उठो, तुम भी उठो
कोई खिड़की इसी दीवार में खुल जाएगी
ये ज़मीं तब भी निगल लेने पे आमादा थी
पाँव जब टूटती शाख़ों से उतारे हम ने
उन मकानों को ख़बर है न मकीनों को ख़बर
उन दिनों की जो गुफाओं में गुज़ारे हम ने ( कैफ़ी आज़मी )
              सच है इस लॉक डॉउन में हमने लगभग गुफाओं में दिन गुजारे है, कुछ आब ला पा सड़क पर दर ब दर है, कुछ ऐसे है जो इस फानी दुनिया से चले गए, ऐसा लगता है जैसे उनको इस आगत का इलहाम हो गया था आज के ग़म का, और जल्द ही चले गए …. फ़ैज़ से कुछ पंक्तियां लेकर

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Beyond the ‘Employment’ Paradigm and Life After Capitalism – Manifesto of Hope IV

 

[This is the final instalment of the series on ‘Life After Capitalism – Manifesto of Hope’. Earlier parts can be accessed Part I here, Part II here and Part III here.]

Democratizing access to resources, Image courtesy AWID, created by Ana Abelenda

The Employment Paradigm

In this final instalment of the series, I want to discuss the vexed question of employment and what can be called the ’employment mindset’.  The mindset has dominated politics and the discipline of economics for the last century and a half for sure.  Before that youthful capitalism simply put people uprooted from their habitats and traditional occupations (the artisans and peasants) into ‘poor houses’ and enacted the most vicious laws to force the dispossessed poor work for it. Marxists give this violent pillage the scientific- sounding name of ‘primitive accumulation’ (or primary accumulation). ‘Scientific’ because it was seen by Marx as the ‘historical process of the separation of producer from “his” means of production’ – as if it was an objective process that was in some sense inevitable. Marx’s chapter on ‘primitive accumulation’ in Capital Vol I, certainly shows that he was revolted by the plunder and robbery that this phenomenon entailed but in a manner of speaking, by giving it an aura of historical inevitability, he could displace the solution to some future. There is also no doubt that the sections of Capital where Marx deals with the enactment of Poor Laws in Britain are full of passion and anger at what capitalism was doing – but then, what can you do with a process that is historically inevitable? Remember too that it was the same logic of ‘objectivity’ of ‘historical inevitability’ that was used to justify colonialism as the ‘unconscious tool of history’. The British Marxist historian, E.P. Thompson wrote of precisely these populations that perished in ‘the storm of industrialization’. He was so moved by their predicament that he wanted to ‘rescue them from the enormous condescension of posterity’. Yet, Thompson believed, like a good Marxist, that the artisan or the handloom weaver that he was writing about were ‘obsolete’ (Thompson’s term). Thus, he wrote, Continue reading Beyond the ‘Employment’ Paradigm and Life After Capitalism – Manifesto of Hope IV