WSS Statement Against Arrests of Sudha Bharadwaj, Vernon Gonsalves, Arun Ferreira, Gautam Navlakha and Varavara Rao

The following is a statement by WOMEN AGAINST SEXUAL VIOLENCE AND STATE REPRESSION (WSS) against the raids on and arrests of activists and intellectuals in different cities.

WSS strongly condemns the arrests of its member Advocate Sudha Bharadwaj, and activists Vernon Gonsalves, Arun Ferreira, Gautam Navlakha, Varavara Rao, and the raids at the homes of Father Stan Swamy, Dr. Anand Teltumbde, Prof. K. Satyanarayana, Pavana, Anala, Kurmanath, Kranti Tekula and others conducted by the Maharashtra police along with the state police of Telangana, Jharkhand, Goa and Delhi. These searches and arrests are a diversionary tactic to draw attention away from the spine chilling revelations about Hindu Sanatan Sanstha and Hindu Janjagruti in connection to the assassinations and bomb terror which they have been masterminding.

Continue reading “WSS Statement Against Arrests of Sudha Bharadwaj, Vernon Gonsalves, Arun Ferreira, Gautam Navlakha and Varavara Rao”

‘अरबन फासिज्म’ की शुरुआत : वैभव सिंह

Guest post by VAIBHAV SINGH

रामचरित मानस में सुन्दर कांड में एक पंक्ति आती है, जो कही तो विभीषण के मुंह से गई है लेकिन वह आज के लोकतंत्र पर भी लागू होती है। चौपाई में विभीषण कहते हैं- ‘सुनहु पवनसुत रहनि हमारी। जिमि दसनन्हि महुं जीभ बिचारी।’ यानी विभीषण कहते हैं कि मैं ऐसे ही रहता हूं जैसे दांतों के बीच जीभ। प्रसंगांतर करके देखें तो भारतीय लोकतंत्र की हालत भी अब फासीवाद, सांप्रदायिकता व पूंजीवादी लोभ-लालच के जहरीले विषदंतों से घिरी जीभ जैसी नहीं हो गई है जिसे कोई भी काट लेना या आहत कर देना चाहता है?  गिरफ्तारियां, सर्चवारंट, नजरबंदी और मीडिया प्रोपगंडा हमारे देश की सर्वप्रमुख सचाई बन चुकी है और अब इस लोकतंत्र के भीतर सशक्त हो चुके अधिनायकवाद के लिए अब यही चीजें उसके शासन की वैधता का प्रमुख आधार बन गई हैं। जिस देश में हर वक्त मुठभेड़, गिरफ्तारी या देशद्रोहियों की खोज का सत्ता-प्रायोजित अभियान चल रहा हो, वहां लोकतंत्र के बारे में सोते-जागते चिंता न होना स्वाभाविक तौर पर संवेदनहीनता या फिर कमअक्ली का लक्षण माना जा सकता है। जैसे साइनबोर्ड पर किसी ने लिख कर टांग दिया है कि लोकतंत्र की अमुख तारीख को हत्या कर दी जाएगी, वह तारीख नजदीक आती जा रही है। ठीक रघुवीर सहाय की ‘रामदास’ कविता में रामदास की हत्या की तरह सभी को जैसे पता चल चुका है कि लोकतंत्र की हत्या हो जाएगी पर सब अपने-अपने काम में मसरूफ़ हैं। रघुवीर सहाय के शब्दों में-

निकल गली से तब हत्यारा/आया उसने नाम पुकारा/

हाथ तौलकर चाकू मारा/ छूटा लहू का फव्वारा/

कहा नहीं था उसने आखिर उसकी हत्या होगी।

Continue reading “‘अरबन फासिज्म’ की शुरुआत : वैभव सिंह”

Government should not Fail Children to Cover up Education System’s ailure: A Statement

A statement by concerned organizations, teachers’ unions and academics against government proposal to amend RTE Act to scrap no detention policy and to fail children in class V and VIII. The statement was issued in New Delhi on 25 July 2018

The civil society organisations, teacher unions, and academicians working in the education sector across 20 states of India strongly oppose the Lok Sabha’s decision to pass‘ The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (Second Amendment) Bill, 2017’. This bill paves the way for the scrapping of the provision for ‘No Detention’ by allowing states to detain children in class V and VIII. Over 20,000 Indians had already urged the government to withdraw the bill scrapping the ‘No Detention Policy’.

Continue reading “Government should not Fail Children to Cover up Education System’s ailure: A Statement”

Some Reflections on Rape in India: Bobby Kunhu

Guest post by BOBBY KUNHU

A couple of days back, representatives of a group that wanted a petition demanding death penalty for all the accused in the Chennai gang rape case sought an appointment with me. I had clarified that I will not be part of any process demanding death penalty and would be glad to meet them on any other discussion they might want on the case. While, I managed to convince those who met me that death penalty cannot be a deterrent against rape, I suggested that instead of the petition they should spend their efforts to energize a change in the current discourse on rape in whatever small ways possible. The meeting ended with plans of a more substantive plan of action to discuss possibilities of advocating accessible spaces for children vulnerable to physical or sexual abuses at least in the neighborhood. I have summed up some of the points that I made at the discussion and I thought it would be important to share them with a wider audience.

Continue reading “Some Reflections on Rape in India: Bobby Kunhu”

Statement of Jadavpur University Alumni Against University Decision to Scrap Entrance Examinations

Following is a statement of Jadavpur University alumni on the current controversy around the scrapping of the entrance examination by the university authorities. 

There is also a Change.org petition that has been put up for those wanting to sign. Over 5075 people have signed the petition at last count.

Thos who who wish to sign in solidarity with Jadavpur University teachers, students and staff can do so here.

We, the alumni of Jadavpur University, unequivocally condemn the decision of the authorities to not conduct entrance examinations for admission to the university’s Bachelor of Arts programme.

Several departments of the Jadavpur Arts Faculty annually conduct their own entrance examinations. For the last forty years, teachers have carefully prepared question papers and rigorously evaluated the answers in order to admit the candidates that they deem fit. The tradition of the entrance examination, in which thousands of students participate every year, has ensured that the Faculty of Arts continues its legacy of academic excellence. No weightage is given to Board examination marks because the Boards’ prescribed methods of arts education and evaluation simply do not match those of tertiary education in the humanities. The entrance examinations test students for their interest in literature, history, philosophy and arts, their ability to think independently about texts, and their commitment to understanding the world around them using the skills of reasoning and speculation, the theoretical and methodological capital furnished by the humanities.

The entrance examination has enabled these departments to gain talented students year after year. Many of us would have never made it to the top-ranked Arts departments in the country had we been judged solely on the basis of our marks in school-leaving examinations. Admissions based on Board exam scores would have never enabled students from varied cultural, class and economic backgrounds to be trained in the humanities by the best minds in the country. The rich and diverse professional accomplishments of Jadavpur University alumni – in art, academia, film, entrepreneurship, publishing, writing, advertising and many other fields – constitute a further testament to the success of these departments in scouting and honing talent. First-person accounts of how the erstwhile admissions process created equality of opportunity and access for students from across a range of social and educational backgrounds have poured in from Jadavpur alumni since yesterday (3/7/2018). (To read personal testimonials and opinion pieces from faculty, alumni, staff and current students regarding the significance of the admission process, visit https://juforadmissiontest.wordpress.com/)

The admission test is a time-tested process which has ensured academic excellence in the Faculty of Arts and brought glory to the university. To tamper with this process is to threaten the very core of the humanities – to attack free thinking, liberty, and equality of opportunity. It directly undermines the dreams and hopes of the 17,000-odd students who have applied to Jadavpur University this year. Among these 17,000, there must be brilliant young minds that couldn’t obtain 90% or more in the Board examinations. Their merit cannot be reliably boxed into multiple-choice questions. There must be, in those 17,000, young people who do not seek conventional careers, or if they do, wish to combine them with independent thinking, exploring and lifelong learning.

To stop the admission test is to kill the dreams of anyone who does not participate in the mad rat race of public examinations. It is an attack on the community of scholars, researchers, teachers, alumni, students, and staff who have carefully built up the university and its reputation over the years. To stop the admission test is to tear into the very fabric of the university – its tradition and its history. We must recall that Jadavpur University was set up as an alternative to the education imparted by the erstwhile rulers of India, the British. It has always been home to those who dare to defy norms.

The larger implications of this administrative decision concern the scope and function of higher education in this country. Do we, as a nation, wish to create a more homogenised and technocratic culture that rewards learning by rote, or do we wish to invest in greater autonomy for centres of excellence? Difference and dissent are what all democracies should aspire to; they are the touchstones of any free and open society, and any administration that encourages these tendencies signals its confidence in itself and hope for the future. What we are seeing here is, accidentally or not, congruent with a larger attempt to fundamentally redefine the idea of higher education, to increase administrative interference in universities large and small, more and less prominent (similar conflicts are playing out in JNU, to cite just one example) and to condemn generations of young people to the backwaters of real learning, thought and creativity.

As concerned alumni, we strongly condemn the decision of the authorities to take away independent admission tests from the Faculty of Arts. We demand an immediate revocation of this order, which irrationally, pointlessly, and appallingly undertakes to disrupt a fair and successful admission process. This disruption will impact the futures of countless students, and reduce the entry-point of tertiary education in the humanities to a lottery.

We stand in solidarity with the protesting teachers, students and staff of Jadavpur University. Continue reading “Statement of Jadavpur University Alumni Against University Decision to Scrap Entrance Examinations”

Great Dance of Return in Gaza – Performing Palestinian Dabke in the Midst of Zionazi Attacks

This dance – the Palestinian Dabka – was performed amidst firing by Israeli Zionazis  on the 30th of June 2018. Remember the cowards stepped up their attack on Gaza as the holy month of Ramzan began. This video has all the ambient noises – of the firing of bullets and other war sounds and is therefore worth listening to. It has also gives you a sense of the extremely tense situation at the border.

To listen to the cleaner version, where you can hear the sound of the music more clearly, click here and listen to the second video.

 

Citizens’ Solidarity with Voices of Democracy – Against the Arrest of Five HR Activists

[This is a statement of solidarity endorsed and signed by over 200 intellectuals, artists, academicians, lawyers, journalists, and students in support of the five arrested in connection with Bhima-Koregaon case. In the 43rd year after Emergency was declared in this country, this statement was issued on June 25th 2018 condemning the arrest of such voices of democracy and demanding their immediate and unconditional release.]

We condemn the arrest of five human rights activists, professors and lawyers in connection with the Bhima-Koregaon clashes early this year. The alarming arrest of Advocate and General Secretary of Indian Association of Peoples’ Lawyers (IAPL) Surendra Gadling, Committee for the Release of Political Prisoners (CRPP) Public Relations Secretary Rona Wilson, Head of English Department Professor Shoma Sen of Nagpur University and member of Women against Sexual Violence and State Repression (WSS), cultural activist and founder of Republican Panthers Jaatiya Antachi Chalwal Sudhir Dhawale and anti-displacement activist and Prime Ministers Rural Development Fellow (PMRDF) Mahesh Raut is a clear manifestation of state terror to crush the voices of dissent in this country.

The intemperate use of sections of the IPC and Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) on all five reveals legal over-reach and exposes the desperation to foist extraordinary and excessive charges on all five to ensure they remain in the clutches of the Fadnavis-Maharashtra government. All the arrested have consistently worked for the assertion of oppressed and marginalised communities against majoritarian forces, spoken out against Brahmanical patriarchy, upheld peoples’ rights to land, life and dignity, and have strived for the release of political prisoners.

Continue reading “Citizens’ Solidarity with Voices of Democracy – Against the Arrest of Five HR Activists”