All posts by subhash gatade

जेल और थानों में सीसीटीवी: क्या इससे पुलिस ज़्यादतियों पर अंकुश लग सकता है?

अदालत ने यह भी निर्देश दिया कि राज्य एवं जिला स्तरों पर ऐसी निगरानी कमेटियों का भी निर्माण किया जाए तथा ऐसे कैमरों को स्थापित करने की दिशा में तेजी लायी जाए।

सीसीटीवी

सर्वोच्च न्यायालय ने एक जनहित याचिका के संदर्भ में पिछले दिनों एक अहम फैसला दिया। इसके तहत उसने तमाम राज्यों और केंद्रशासित प्रदेशों को निर्देश दिया कि वह हर थाने में क्लोजड सर्किट टीवी (सीसीटीवी), जिसमें आवाज़ रिकॉर्डिंग की भी सुविधा हो तथा रात में ‘देखने’ की व्यवस्था हो, जल्द से जल्द स्थापित करे। अदालत की इस त्रिसदस्यीय पीठ ने – जिसमें न्यायमूर्ति आर एफ नरीमन, न्यायमूर्ति के एम जोसेफ और न्यायमूर्ति अनिरूद्ध बोस भी शामिल थे – अपने आदेश में यह भी जोड़ा कि ऐसी सुविधा केन्द्रीय एजेंसियों के दफ्तरों में भी स्थापित की जानी चाहिए फिर चाहे सीबीआई हो, नेशनल इनवेस्टिगेशन एजेंसी (एनआईए) हो या नारकोटिक्स कन्टोल ब्यूरो (एनसीबी) हो या एनफोर्समेण्ट डायरेक्टोरेट हो।

भारत जैसे मुल्क में पुलिस बलों या अन्य केन्द्रीय एजेंसियों के दस्तों द्वारा की जाने वाली प्रताड़ना एवं यातनाओं से अक्सर ही रूबरू होना पड़ता है। आप तमिलनाडु के थोडकुडी जिले में पिता पुत्रों- जयराज उम्र 62 वर्ष और बेंडक्स उम्र 32 साल – की हिरासत में मौत के प्रसंग को देखें, जब दोषी पुलिसकर्मियों की संलिप्तता को साबित करने के लिए जन आंदोलन करना पड़ा था। जून, 2020 या आप कुछ वक्त़ पहले राजधानी दिल्ली से ही आर्म्स एक्ट के तहत बंद विचाराधीन कैदी की पुलिस द्वारा निर्वस्त्र कर की गयी पिटाई का दृश्य चर्चित हुआ था जब किसी न कैमरे में उपरोक्त नज़ारा कैद कर मजिस्ट्रेट के सामने पेश किया था।

त्रिसदस्यीय पीठ का मानना था कि चाहे मानवाधिकार आयोग हो या मुल्क की अदालतें हो, वह किसी विवाद की स्थिति में इस सीसीटीवी फुटेज का इस्तेमाल कर सकती हैं, जहां हिरासत में बंद लोगों के मानवाधिकारों के हनन की अक्सर शिकायतें आती रहती हैं और जनाक्रोश भी सड़कों पर उतरता रहता है। अदालत ने यह भी निर्देश दिया कि राज्य एवं जिला स्तरों पर ऐसी निगरानी कमेटियों का भी निर्माण किया जाए तथा ऐसे कैमरों को स्थापित करने की दिशा में तेजी लायी जाए।

गौरतलब है कि जहां तक थानो में सीसीटीवी लगाने का सवाल है, देश के अन्य न्यायालय भी इस किस्म का निर्देश पहले दे चुके हैं।

( Read the full article here)

The Spectre of Evil…The world Since 1989 : Kumar Ketkar

 

The fifth lecture in the ‘Democracy Dialogues Series’ organised by New Socialist Initiative was delivered by Kumar Ketkar, Member of Parliament, Rajya Sabha at 6 PM (IST) on Sunday, 6 th December

Theme : The Spectre of Evil…The world Since 1989

Continue reading The Spectre of Evil…The world Since 1989 : Kumar Ketkar

How Can India Reinvigorate Phule’s Revolutionary Legacy ?

Remembering a colossus in the times of Hindutva.

Jyotirao phule.

Who will reinvigorate Phule’s legacy? This question stares us in the eye on 28 November, the 130th death anniversary of Jyotirao Phule, considered the “father of social revolution in India”. Phule largely remains relegated to the background—a result of selective amnesia and identity politics in modern India, where his path-breaking contributions, and those of his wife Savitribai and her fellow traveller Fatima Sheikh are rarely remembered.

They are credited with opening the first school for girls from the historically “untouchable” communities in Pune, which was once ruled by the Peshwas. This school created an upheaval in the Brahmin-dominated Maharashtra of yore, as a 14-year-old Muktabai, belonging to the formerly “untouchable” Mang caste, who studied in the school, wrote: “O learned Pandits, wind up the selfish prattle of your hollow wisdom and listen to what I say.” The student’s essay was published in 1855 in Dnyanodaya, a journal popular then. (From Women Writing in India, Edited by Susie Tharu and K Lalitha, Pandora.)

Jyotirao Phule was given the honorific of “Mahatma” a few years before he breathed his last in 1890, for a life spent engaging in tremendous innovation and creativity. He initiated his wife into writing and she later became an independent activist too—a rarity in those days. He opened the doors of his home for those considered the lowliest among the low. He came to the defence of scholar-activists, such as Pandita Rambai, when she embraced Christianity. So he fought against the conservative onslaught single-handedly. Many such instances in his life are worth emulating today.

( Read the full article here)

इस्लामिस्ट एवं हिन्दुत्ववादी: कब तक चलेगी यह जुगलबंदी!

आखिर इस्लामिस्ट क्यों खुश हैं नागरिकता संशोधन अधिनियम से

not in my name

प्रतीकात्मक तस्वीर। 

विजयादशमी के दिन सरसंघचालक की तकरीर आम तौर पर आने वाले समय का संकेत प्रदान करती है।

विश्लेषक उस व्याख्यान की पड़ताल करके इस बात का अंदाज़ा लगाते हैं कि दिल्ली में सत्तासीन संघ के आनुषंगिक संगठन भाजपा की आगामी योजना क्या होगी।

विगत माह विजयादशमी के दिन संघ सुप्रीमो के व्याख्यान का फोकस नागरिता संशोधन अधिनियम पर था, जिसमें उन्होंने यह दावा किया कि यह अधिनियम किसी भी ‘धार्मिक समुदाय’ के साथ भेदभाव नहीं करता है और मुसलमानों को एक छद्म प्रचार से गुमराह किया गया है। उनके मुताबिक संसद में यह कानून संवैधानिक प्रक्रिया का पालन करके पारित हुआ है, एक तरह से सरहद पार के उन भाइयों एवं बहनों को सुरक्षा प्रदान करता है, जिन्हें वहां धार्मिक प्रताडना झेलनी पड़ती है।

मालूम हो कि उन दिनों चूंकि बिहार चुनावों की सरगर्मियां बनी हुई थीं, लिहाजा उनके वक्तव्यों से निकले संकेतों पर अधिक बात नहीं हो सकी।

गौरतलब है कि बंगाल के चुनावों के मद्देनज़र भाजपा के कुछ अग्रणी नेताओं ने भी इसी किस्म की बातें शुरू कर दी हैं। मालूम हो कई बार अपनी आम सभाओं में उनके कई अग्रणी, ‘दीमक’ की तरह ऐसे ‘अवांछितों’ को हटाने की बात पहले ही कर चुके हैं।

प्रश्न यह है कि क्या कोविड काल में इस सम्बन्ध में नियम बनाने का जो सिलसिला छोड़ दिया गया था क्या उसी मार्ग पर सरकार चलने वाली है और इसे लागू किया जाने वाला है या यह सिर्फ चुनावी सरगर्मी बनाए रखने का मामला है।

( Read the full article here )

Jawaharlal Nehru and the Current Challenge to the Idea of India : Prof aditya mukherjee

 

 

 

The fourth lecture in the Democracy Dialogues series organised by New Socialist Initiative was  delivered by eminent scholar Prof Aditya Mukherjee, Centre for Historical Studies, JNU who is also editor of the ‘Sage Series in Modern Indian History’

Theme :
Jawaharlal Nehru and the Current Challenge to the Idea of India
Sunday, November 15, 2020
Facebook.Com / newsocialistinitiative.nsi
Abstract :

In this talk I will look at how Jawaharlal Nehru tried to implement the vision of our national liberation struggle, which was reflected in our Constitution.  Critical elements of this vision were the creation  of a sovereign, secular, inclusive, democratic and pro-poor state. There was a consensus among the entire  Nationalist spectrum, from the Left to the Right on all these elements. While there was a consensus on the “pro-poor” aspect, from the early nationalists to Gandhiji to socialists and communists, there was no consensus on the idea of socialism, though a large and growing section was moving towards that objective. (The communalists and other loyalists who claimed to represent sectional interests, naturally did not share any aspect of this vision).

I will seek to outline how Nehru undertook the stupendous and in many respects historically unique task of creating a modern democratic nation state in a plural society, left deeply divided through the active collusion of the colonial state; of promoting modern industrialization within the parameters of democracy and sovereignty in a backward and colonially structured economy; of finding the balance between growth and equity in an impoverished, famine-ridden country; of empowering the people and yet expecting them to tighten their belt for the sake of the nation as a whole; of promoting the highest level of scientific education, a field left barren by colonialism; in short, of un-structuring colonialism and bringing in rapid economic development but doing it consensually, without the use of force, keeping what has been called the “Nehruvian consensus” intact in the critical formative years of the nation. I will also briefly discuss Nehru, who was deeply influenced by Marxism, tried to creatively move towards the socialist objective without compromising on the non-negotiable principle of democracy; though with limited success because of  a variety of reasons.

I shall end with reminding ourselves that, in these days of trying to erase Nehru’s memory altogether or to remember him in an unrecognisable demonised image created though false propaganda, much can be learnt from the legacy left behind by Nehru’s ideas and practice by those who wish to struggle to meet the current challenges to all the pillars of the Idea of India.
Sun, 15 Nov at 06:00 GMT+05:30
[https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLtXBfoS5KZ78UFI_aYzROjUss8ZzhUKxy
This is the link of the playlist where you can find all the democracy dialogues video.]

 

 

The Tragic innocence of being faisal khan

India cannot take its syncretic tradition for granted. A culture of communal amity has to be rebuilt from the ground up.

Fasial.

Irony died a thousand deaths on Monday, 2 November, when 48-year-old non-violent activist Faisal Khan, a founder member of a revived Khudai Khidmatgar, was arrested by the Uttar Pradesh police. The charge against him is that he spread disharmony and hurt religious sentiment, by offering namaz at a Krishna temple in Mathura. He and three other members of his organisation, whose name roughly translates to “servants of god”, have been charged by the police, though Faisal is the only one arrested so far.

Faisal was arrested at “Sabka Ghar”, a centre for communal harmony he has established near Ghaffar Manzil. People of all faiths can stay at this centre and celebrate festivals of all religions together. He had revived the historic Khudai Khidmatgar, an organisation established by the legendary Abdul Ghaffar Khan, also known as Frontier Gandhi, whose role in the anti-colonial struggle has been documented in South Asia and the world.

Faisal himself is well-regarded for his deep knowledge of Hindu and Islamic religious traditions and scriptures, and it is for promoting harmony within India, and between India and Pakistan, that he is most recognised. He and his team have also provided relief to people devastated by communal riots or natural disasters.

( Read the complete article here)

The Big Bang, Black Holes and Gravitational Waves : Dr Ravi Sinha

The Relativity Story from Albert Einstein to Penrose and Hawking

The 8th lecture (in Hindi) in the Umang Library popular science series will happen this Sunday, November 8, at 5 PM IST. The series is aimed at creating awareness about science in the Hindi belt of India. This coming lecture will be on how the cosmos has been turned from being a subject of genesis myths into a playground of hard science in the course of the last one hundred years. Continue reading The Big Bang, Black Holes and Gravitational Waves : Dr Ravi Sinha

Who is afraid of anuradha bhasin ?

Attacks on the media have become more “sophisticated”, such as stopping advertisements, which adds to the threat of violence.

Anuradha bhasin

In the first week of October came news from Jammu that the government-allotted apartment where Anuradha Bhasin, the executive editor of Kashmir Times has lived for twenty years, had been ransacked. The act was allegedly perpetrated by the relative of a former member of the Legislative Council. The intruders tried not to be photographed in the act by Bhasin, but later she published them and wrote on social media about how her “jewellery, silverware and other valuables” were taken by them in “connivance with the [Jammu and Kashmir] Estates Deptt and some police personnel”. Bhasin had not been served a show-cause notice to vacate the flat.

Soon after the office of her newspaper, located in the Press Enclave area in Srinagar, was also sealed, again without giving its legal owner or editor any reason. “Today, Estates Deptt locked our office without any due process of cancellation & eviction, same way as I was evicted from a flat in Jammu, where my belongings including valuables were handed over to ‘new allottee’,” Bhasin wrote.

One is suddenly reminded of the various storms the oldest and most-circulated newspaper published from Jammu and Kashmir has faced all these years. In 1983, some 200 Hindu right-wing lumpen, armed with batons and sharp weapons, barged into the offices of Kashmir Times in Jammu and attacked the editor at the time, Ved Bhasin. This attack followed a news report published by the then forty-year-old newspaper, which had apparently “hurt” their sentiments. The grand old man of English journalism, as Ved Bhasin was known in Jammu and Kashmir, survived the attack and continued his work with renewed vigour.

(Read the full article here)

India is Hungry: Who is Listening?

Hunger is a matter of structural anomalies. It cannot just be explained away by who holds the reins of power.

Starvation Deaths Continue to Occur in UP

Image Courtesy: Sabrang India

The “good news” is that India now stands at the 94th position on the Global Hunger Report 2020’s ranking of 107 countries. India has improved several notches over its 102nd rank last year, but is still firmly in the category of countries with a “serious” hunger problem. Only a handful of countries are doing worse than India, such as Rwanda (ranked 97), Afghanistan (99), Mozambique (103) and Chad (107).

The “good news” cannot hide the fact that that with an overall score of 27.2 India has performed worse than its neighbours, Pakistan (ranked 88), Bangladesh (75), Nepal (73) and Indonesia (70).

Seen any way, India has spent yet another year failing to tackle its massive chronic hunger problem. According to official figures, more than 14% of the population is undernourished and the child stunting rate is over 37.4%. One supposes this fits in with the strong belief in some quarters that India is a Vishwa Guru—teacher to the world—and can boldly claim to be a superpower in future.

The situation is such that news of starvation deaths is not uncommon despite excess of food grains stored in the godowns of the Food Corporation of India. Thousands of tonnes of these food grains go waste every year for a number of equally unjustifiable reasons.

(Read the full article here)

Postcolonial Critiques of Modernity : Dr Ravi sinha

( New Socialist Initiative presents the 2nd Lecture* in the Series on Modernity, 18 th October 6 pm IST)

*Youtube Link to the first lecture : https://youtu.be/J5m7Z-I8jPg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Continue reading Postcolonial Critiques of Modernity : Dr Ravi sinha

Petition to Ban Toxic News Channels

The following petition initiated by Prof Apoorvanand ; Bhasha Singh, Journalist/Activist ; Jitendra Kumar, Senior Journalist ;  Mahendra Mishra, Editor, Janchowk and Subhash Gatade appeals to the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM), The Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), The Dalit Indian Chamber of Commerce & Industry (DICCI) and The Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FICCI) to boycott toxic new channels.  The petition can be signed here :

It is a welcome sign that two prominent business houses, namely Bajaj Auto and Parle have taken the WELCOME DECISION to not advertise on TV channels spreading hatred. We urge all the advertisers to BOYCOTT HATE MONGERS, because the history is witness that the hate ruins the whole society and does not spare anyone, however rich and high and mighty a person may be. Let us remind ourselves the unforgettable words of Pastor Martin Niemoller that he spoke on emerging from the Nazi prison: “… When they came for me, there was none left to protest”. Don’t ask for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee.

These corporates need to recall that not long ago when Black Lives Matter movement was at its peak in the West, more than 1,000 companies had decided to boycott a section of social media platforms for their dubious stand on race.

We are aware of the background: The qualitative changes – for the worse – that have taken place in the Indian media, especially the electronic variant during last few years. The ownership of the large media houses has become limited to a few big players. And these big corporates are not concerned with the concerns of the common people, and use the media for their own and their political masters’ vested interests by focusing on non-issues and indulgence in sensationalism, false propaganda and hatred – thereby actively participating in the destruction of social unity in diversity among Indians that has existed despite any and every difference of class, caste, gender, region, religion, language, ideology or any other.

Without going back to the times when the lynching became the new political weapon – with the accused being welcomed by the ruling party leaders and even minister – during the last few months, we saw that in order to deflect attention from the catastrophe that had befallen on the people in general but migrant labour in particular because of the COVID-19 pandemic and to advance the agenda of demonizing Muslims – a la Jews in Nazi Germany – how ‘Tablighi Jamat’ was willfully portrayed falsely as the ‘corona jehadi’ and what not. Then, we witnessed the suicide of Sushant Singh Rajput being transformed into an endless ‘issue’, and the less said about the latest Hathras gang-rape, the better – the bizarre brazenness of hate-speech and hate-driven crime is unmistakably on the rise!

HIGH TIME THAT BOYCOTT OF HATE MONGERS BECOMES A COLLECTIVE PRACTICE!

A history of conservative strike on books

Even in a future in which books are outlawed, ideas cannot be vanquished.

Nazi's Boook burning

“You may burn my books and the books of the best minds in Europe, but the ideas those books contain have passed through millions of channels and will go on,” wrote Helen Keller, in An Open Letter to German Students in 1933. Keller’s How I Became a Socialist was on the list of books to be burned. “History has taught you nothing if you think you can kill ideas. Tyrants have tried to do that often before, and the ideas have risen up in their might and destroyed them,” she wrote.

Today you cannot perhaps have campaigns like Nazi’s book burnings, nor can books disappear off the shelves as they did in the United States during the McCarthy era. Yet the powers that be have thought of ingenious ways to stop people from reading books.

A recent order by the department of education in Britain needs to be seen in this context. It has ordered schools in England to stop accepting funds from groups or organisations which have expressed the desire to end capitalism. Anti-capitalism is seen by the department as an “extreme political stance”, similar to opposing freedom of speech, anti-Semitism and endorsing illegal activities.

( Read the full text here)

Unpacking Religious Nationalism

Review of ‘Religious Nationalism – Social Perceptions and Violence : Sectarianism on Political Chessboard‘- Ram Puniyani (Media House 2020)

“Blatant dictatorship – in the form of fascism, communism, or military rule – has disappeared across much of the world. Military coups and other violent seizures of power are rare. Most countries hold regular elections. Democracies still die, but by different means.

Since the end of the Cold War, most democratic breakdowns have been caused not by generals and soldiers but by elected governments themselves.”

(How Democracies Die, Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt)

The contrast had never been so sharper.

Continue reading Unpacking Religious Nationalism

जेपी से अण्णा : आख़िर भ्रष्टाचार विरोधी आंदोलन किस तरह दक्षिणपंथ का रास्ता सुगम करता आया है

हम बारीकी से विश्लेषण करें तो हम पाते हैं कि वर्ष 2014 के बाद भारत में लिबरल जनतंत्र के बरअक्स हिन्दुत्व की जो बहुसंख्यकवादी सियासत हावी होती गयी, उसके कई तत्व इसी आंदोलन /सरगर्मी में मजबूती पाते गए हैं।

अण्णा
वर्ष 2011 के जनलोकपाल आंदोलन के दौरान अण्णा हजारे (फाइल फोटो)। साभार : गूगल

ग्रीक पुराणों में मिनर्वा को ज्ञान, विवेक या कला की देवी समझा जाता है, जिसका वाहन है उल्लू।

उन्नीसवीं सदी के महान आदर्शवादी दार्शनिक हेगेल का ‘फिलॉसाफी आफ राइट’ नामक किताब का चर्चित कथन है, ‘‘मिनर्वा का उल्लू तभी अपने पंख फैलाता है, जब शाम होने को होती है’’; (Only when the dusk starts to fall does the owl of Minerva spread its wings and fly.) – कहने का तात्पर्य दर्शन किसी ऐतिहासिक परिस्थिति को तभी समझ पाने के काबिल होता है, जब वह गुजर गयी होती है।]

अपनी अतीत की ग़लतियों की तहे दिल से आलोचना करना, साफ़गोई के साथ बात करना, यह ऐसा गुण है, जो सियासत में ही नहीं बल्कि सामाजिक जीवन में भी इन दिनों दुर्लभ होता जा रहा है। इसलिए अग्रणी वकील एवं नागरिक अधिकार कार्यकर्ता जनाब प्रशांत भूषण ने अपनी अतीत की ग़लतियों के लिए जब पश्चताप प्रगट किया तो लगा कुछ अपवाद भी मौजूद हैं।

दरअसल इंडिया टुडे से एक साक्षात्कार में उन्होंने ‘इंडिया अगेन्स्ट करप्शन’ आंदोलन जिसका चेहरा बन कर अण्णा हजारे उभरे थे – जिसकी नेतृत्वकारी टीम में खुद प्रशांत शामिल थे – को लेकर एक अनपेक्षित सा बयान दिया। उनका कहना था कि यह आंदोलन ‘संघ-भाजपा’ द्वारा संचालित था। ईमानदारी के साथ उन्होंने यह भी जोड़ा कि उन्हें अगर इस बात का एहसास होता तो वह तुरंत अण्णा आंदोलन से तौबा करते, दूर हट जाते।

विडम्बना ही है इतने बड़े खुलासे के बावजूद छिटपुट प्रतिक्रियाओं के अलावा इसके बारे में मौन ही तारी है या बहुत कमजोर सी सफाई पेश की गयी है।

( Read the full article here)

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 ]

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 )

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)

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

घेरेबन्दी में पड़े देश और खेल के नये नियमों के बीच हम क्‍या कर सकते हैं?

घेरेबन्दी में पड़े अपने शहर के हालात को लेकर अपने जमाने का शायर कैसी प्रतिक्रिया देता है? अचानक इस बारे में कुछ कहना मुश्किल जान पड़ सकता है, अलबत्ता एक तरीका है फिलिस्तीन के महान कवि महमूद दरवेश के नक्शेकदम पर चलना, जिनकी लम्बी कविता ‘मेमरी फॉर फरगेटफुलनेस’ अर्थात ‘भुलक्कड़पन/स्‍मृतिलोप के लिए स्‍मृति’ वर्ष 1982 में लेबनान पर हुए इजरायली आक्रमण का चित्र खींचती है।

लेबनान की राजधानी बेरूत जहां वह रह रहे थे, बमबारी का शिकार हो रही थी। वे लिखते हैं, ‘‘बेरूत, इज़रायली टैंकों से और आधिकारिक अरबपस्ती से घिरा हुआ’, वह बेरूत ‘अन्दर से अपने आप को थामे हुए था ताकि ‘अरब उम्मीद की राजधानी के उसके मायने की चमक की हिफाज़त की जा सके।’ किताब में दरवेश फैज़ अहमद फैज़ के साथ अपना सम्वाद शुरू करते हैं, जो उन दिनों बेरूत में ही थे।

कलाकार कहां हैं?
कौन कलाकार, फैज़, मैं पूछता हूं
बेरूत के कलाकार
तुम उनसे चाहते क्या हो?
यही कि शहर की दीवारों पर युद्ध को उकेरना
तुम्हें क्या हो गया है फैज़, मैं ताज्जुब प्रकट करता हूं। क्या तुम देख नहीं रहे हो दीवारें ही गिर रही हैं?

यह कविताएं लेखन (स्‍मृति से इतिहास, स्‍मृतिलोप, भुलक्कड़पन) के बीच एक रिश्ता कायम करती हैं। घेरेबन्दी के मध्य यह दृढ़ता, अटलता की यात्रा है। Continue reading घेरेबन्दी में पड़े देश और खेल के नये नियमों के बीच हम क्‍या कर सकते हैं?

साझा बयान : बुद्धिजीवियों-मानवाधिकारकर्मियों को फ़र्ज़ी आरोपों के तहत फंसाये जाने के विरोध में 

जन संस्कृति मंच, प्रगतिशील लेखक संघ, दलित लेखक संघ, प्रतिरोध का सिनेमा, इप्टा, संगवारी,  न्यू सोशलिस्ट इनिशिएटिव और जनवादी लेखक संघ ने प्रशांत भूषण को अदालत की अवमानना का दोषी क़रार दिए जाने तथा भीमा-कोरेगाँव और दिल्ली दंगों के मामलों में बुद्धिजीवियों-मानवाधिकारकर्मियों को फ़र्ज़ी आरोपों के तहत फंसाये जाने के विरोध में यह साझा बयान जारी किया :

भारतीय लोकतंत्र का संकट लगातार गहराता जा रहा है. अभिव्यक्ति की आज़ादी और वाजिब माँगों के लिए चलने वाले संघर्ष का जैसा दमन मौजूदा निज़ाम में हो रहा है, उसकी मिसाल आज़ाद भारत के इतिहास में ढूँढे नहीं मिलेगी. सबसे ताज़ा उदाहरण स्वाधीनता दिवस की पूर्व संध्या पर सर्वोच्च न्यायालय द्वारा प्रशांत भूषण को अदालत की अवमानना का दोषी ठहराया जाना है. यह विचारणीय है कि फ़ैसले में उन्हें भारतीय लोकतंत्र के जिस “महत्त्वपूर्ण स्तम्भ की बुनियाद को अस्थिर” करने के प्रयास का दोषी पाया गया है, उसकी अस्थिरता के मायने क्या हैं और उसके वास्तविक कारक कौन-से हैं/हो सकते हैं! पर यह जितना भी विचारणीय हो, सवाल है कि क्या आप विचार कर भी सकते हैं? इस तरह के विचार-विमर्श की गुंजाइश/स्वतंत्रता/अधिकार को बहुत क्षीण किया जा चुका है और ऐसा जान पड़ता है कि जिनके ऊपर ‘रीज़नेबल रेस्ट्रिक्शन्स’ के दायरे में अभिव्यक्ति की आज़ादी को सुनिश्चित करने का दारोमदार है, वे खुद आगे बढ़कर उस आज़ादी का दमन कर रहे हैं. पिछले कुछ समय में दो घटनाओं को बहाना बनाकर सामाजिक-राजनैतिक कार्यकर्त्ताओं, मानवाधिकार-कर्मियों और लेखकों-बुद्धिजीवियों की गिरफ़्तारी, या तफ़्तीश के नाम पर उत्पीड़न के सिलसिले ने जो गति पकड़ी है, वह बेहद चिंताजनक है. भीमा-कोरेगाँव मामले और उत्तर-पूर्वी दिल्ली के दंगों के असली अपराधी बेख़ौफ़ घूम रहे हैं जबकि इन्हीं मामलों में फ़र्जी तरीक़े से बड़ी संख्या में सामाजिक कार्यकर्त्ताओं और बुद्धिजीवियों को गिरफ़्तार किया जा चुका है. केंद्र के मातहत काम करने वाली राष्ट्रीय जाँच एजेंसी (एनआईए) और दिल्ली पुलिस इन मामलों में पूरी बेशर्मी से अपनी पक्षधर भूमिका निभा रही हैं. ऐसा लगता है कि नियंत्रण एवं संतुलन के सारे लोकतांत्रिक सरंजाम ध्वस्त हो चुके हैं. Continue reading साझा बयान : बुद्धिजीवियों-मानवाधिकारकर्मियों को फ़र्ज़ी आरोपों के तहत फंसाये जाने के विरोध में 

The Structural Contradictions of Indian Democracy and the Rise of the BJP : Prof Pratap Bhanu Mehta

[Democracy Dialogues Lecture Series ( Webinar)
Organised by New Socialist Initiative]

Date and Time: Sunday, August 16, 2020, at 6 PM IST (8.30 AM EST in the US)

 

Topic: The Structural Contradictions of Indian Democracy and the rise of the BJP

Abstract:

This talk explores the deep social transformations that have made the dominance of the BJP possible. It will take a longer view of the trajectory of Indian democracy and explore the profound changes in social and economic identities underway that have prepared a propitious ground for the rise of the BJP.

The Speaker: Prof Pratap Bhanu Mehta

Internationally renowned scholar and political scientist Prof Pratap Bhanu Mehta taught at Harvard, at New York University and at JNU. He was the Vice Chancellor of the Ashoka University till recently and served as the President of the premier think tank, Centre for Policy Research. Educated at Oxford and a Ph.D. from Princeton University, Prof Mehta is a columnist at Indian Express, a leading public intellectual and a bold and thoughtful voice for reason and justice. Among many honours and prizes to his credit, he is recipient of the Infosys Prize, the Adisheshiah Prize and the Amartya Sen Prize.

[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.

We feel that the very idea of democracy which has taken deep roots across the world, has come under scanner for various reasons. At the same time we have been witness to the ascendance of right-wing forces and fascistic demagogues via the same democratic route. There is this apparently anomalous situation in which the spread and deepening of democracy have often led to generating mass support for these reactionary and fascistic forces.

Coming to India, there have been valid concerns about the rise of authoritarian streak among Indians and how it has helped strengthen BJP’s hard right turn. The strong support for democracy here is accompanied by increasing fascination towards majoritarian-authoritarian politics. In fact, we would like to state that a vigorous electoral democracy here has become a vehicle for hindutva-ite counterrevolution.

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]