The current agitation in Kerala demanding withdrawal of the class vii social science textbook has turned murderous. James Augustine, 45, a headmaster of a primary school was killed in an attack by the Indian Union Muslim League youth activists on a training program. And this was done even after the announcement by the Kerala government that it had decided to remove the controversial portion of the textbook. Will this utterly meaningless death of the teacher at their hands stop the agitators in their track? Will we allow warriors of different shades of identity politics a free run? Or, will the sacrifice of a life turn into an occasion for all of us to once again ponder over issues related not only to the politics of textbooks but also the principles on which textbooks in a diverse country like India should be prepared?
It is very easy to see that the allegation on this particular book that it promotes atheism cannot be substantiated as the text in question closes with the response of the parents of Jeevan, who belong to different religious identities that he would be free to choose his religion when he grows up. It only shows that they are very relaxed about his identity and are ready to give him freedom to decide on his identity. Surely the agitating groups are neither sure nor relaxed about their relationship with the members of their denominations. Do they fear that texts like the one dealing with the religious identity of Jeevan can give ideas to children about their right to take decisions in the matters of marriage and identity? Even if we leave this aside, the charge leveled by the opposition that the book is substandard deserves a reasoned discussion. It needs to take into account the role textbooks are expected to play in a country like India, the process of textbook writing, the implication of the federal character of India for school education in general and textbook writing in particular.
Continue reading Textbooks Yet Again
ON DECEMBER 10 this year, the day internationally observed as Human Rights Day, the Supreme Court of India denied bail to the veteran rights activist, Dr Binayak Sen, incarcerated since May in Raipur jail under the Chhattisgarh Public Security Act and the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act. For those present, the 45-minute-long hearing was a horrible experience. We heard the prosecution claim that Dr Sen was part of the dreaded Maoist formation, and that giving him his freedom would mean setting him loose to spread subversion against the State. We saw, to our shock, how no verification was made of the prosecution’s claims, even as the government lawyer presented his summary of the contents of Dr Sen’s computer in the vilest terms, telling the court it contained letters describing how Dr Sen had helped organise an arms training camp at Nagpur. Defence counsel Rajeev Dhawan pointed out that the prosecution was distorting the letter’s contents, that Dr Sen had been in Nagpur in the course of a fact-finding mission into last year’s lynching of a Dalit family at Kherlanji and that he had nothing to do with any underground training. But the court felt that Dhawan’s arguments were matters to be looked into by the trial court, and it was satisfied that there was enough reason to deny Dr Sen bail.
Continue reading Each day Binayak Sen spends in jail is one day less for democracy in India
West Bengal governor Gopal Krishna Gandhi, has termed the ‘recapture’ mission launched by the CPM to regain its hold over areas of Nandigram which had slipped out of its control after March 14, 2007, ‘unlawful and unacceptable’ . The ardour of Deepavali has been dampened in the whole state by the events in Nandigram. Several villages in Nandigram are oscillating from the deepest gloom to panic, Gandhi said on the evening of 9 October. He said that he had been receiving phone calls from responsible people in Nandigram telling him that several huts were ablaze and people were forced to flee their home and take shelter elsewhere.. He said that the most appropriate description of the situation in Nandigram came from the Home Secretary who called Nandigram a WAR ZONE. The Governor said that no government or society can allow such war zones to exist without ‘immediate and effective action’. Gopal Kirshna Gandhi made it clear that he did not trust the political leadership of the state when he directly asked the administration to remove ‘new unauthorized man made blocks’at the four entry points in Nandigram. The governor also expressed his displeasure over the manner in which Medha Patkar and her colleagues were prevented from entering Nandigram when the CPM activists pulled and pushed her, tried to drag her out of her car by punching her on her face.. He said,’The treatment meted to Smt Medha Patkar and other associates of hers last evening was against all norms of civilised political behavior’.
Newspapers have reported the governor carefully listing all the 13 villages which have now been recaptured by the CPM. It has been reported that the statement came hours after the request by a team of the CPM members of the parliament to see that his sympathy and concern are meant for ‘sufferers on both sides’. The CPM state secretariat member Benoy Konar promptly condemned the governor for being partial . He said that he had insulted his post. ‘When our supporters were out of their homes during Durga Puja, his festive spirit was not dampened. He has insulted his post’, Konar added.
Continue reading Enough is Enough: Stop CPM’s Criminal Campaign
When a people lose the confidence of the government, it is time to dissolve the people and elect a new one. Thus spake Brecht and this is exactly what the Indian heirs of Stalin are doing in West Bengal. On the day of the 90th anniversary of the October Revolution the armed gangs of the CPM launched another bloody attack on the people of Nandigram who had committed the crime of refusing to be its Praja anymore. The Home secretary of the West Bengal who is supposed to know what is happening in the state said that it is a war like situation in Nandigram and the CPM is leading the attack. He was promptly censured by the patriarch Jyoti Babu and the hawk Biman Bose. They castigated him for his ‘lack of understanding’ of the ground situation which, they claimed was based on misinformation. Who has the ‘Right’ information, pray? Who, but the Party! The Party is all pervasive in the state of WB and the Home Secretary was trying to commit the greatest blasphemy questioning it.
How many people have been killed and how many displaced? You would never know the exact figure and extent as the area is under seige and the CPM would never allow ‘outsiders’ to meddle into their affairs. They are sorting it out and the state government of the West Bengal has given them a free run. This is one reason why the party has asked Buddhadeb to wait a little till they have finished their business of cleansing Nandigram of the undesirable elements.
Continue reading Nandigram Tribute to the October Revolution – CPM style
[We are publishing below a statement released by a number of intellectuals and concerned citizens, regarding the openly partisan role played by the West Bengal State Women’s Commission in the Rizwanur Rehman case.]
We are distressed to read the statement of the West Bengal State women’s Commission after its visit to Priyanka Todi whose husband Rizwanur Rahman was found dead on the railway track after he had fixed an appointment with the APDR friends regarding his harassment at the hands of the Kolkata Police who were acting in blatant violation of all legal and civil norms at the behest of Priyanka’s father Ashok Todi . Todi wanted her daughter to walk out of the marriage and had mobilized Kolkata police to terrorize Rizwan and his friend Sadiq who was witness to their marriage. The couple was called to the Lal bazaar Thana and was told by the police that Priyanka should go to her parents and they would ensure that she returned after a week. This was not to happen. She was forced to go her father but all efforts of Rizwan to talk to her after this period failed. Desperate, he contacted the APDR .
One must remember that Sadiq, who was witness to their marriage, was threatened by police . He had to go into hiding. Priyanka had gone to her parents on 8 September. Rizwan wrote a detailed account of his harassments at the hands of the Kolkata Police and gave it to the APDR. On 21 September, he talked to the APDR people and it was decided that they would meet in the afternoon. This meting was also not to take place. He was found dead on the Railway tracks. Prasun Mukherji, the Kolkata police Chief declared immediately without waiting for the customary autopsy report that it was a transparent case of suicide. He blatantly justified the illegal intervention of the police in a perfectly legal marriage between tow adults Priyanka and Rizwan, claiming that it was natural for the father of the girl to get upset over such marriage, as it was a marriage between unequals. After all, Ashok Todi is a man of more the 200 crores and Rizwan was only a Muslim of modest earning!
Continue reading West Bengal State Women’s Commission Condemned
Textbooks are back in news. This time it is the turn of the Social Sciences book for Class x students prepared by the Rajasthan Madhyamik Shiksha Board, Ajmer. One needs to remember that this book results from the decision of the Rajasthan government to reject the new National Curriculum Framework for School Education 2005 evolved by the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT). All BJP-ruled states had declared that they would prepare their own textbooks as the books prepared by the NCERT were biased according to them. It would be interesting to see, therefore as to how they fight out the bias of the NCERT books in the books prepared by their own objective teams.
This is how the Rajasthan social sciences experts do it. The first chapter of the book seeks to introduce the students to the basics of the Indian Culture: Our culture is known as Arya sanskriti, Bharatiya sanskriti and Hindu sanskriti. Lest there be any confusion in the minds of the readers, the book explains it further: in fact these three nomenclatures are synonyms.
Continue reading Textbook Fascism of the Hindu Kind?