Under the sign of security – Why the bogey of ‘the illegal Bangladeshi immigrant’ is so powerful across urban Indian homes: Sahana Ghosh & Rimple Mehta

Guest Post by SAHANA GHOSH & RIMPLE MEHTA

From the night of July 11 when Zohra Bibi did not return home to the evening of July 16 when union minister Mahesh Sharma, member of parliament for Gautam Budh Nagar, UP met with residents of Mahagun Moderne, much has transpired. Promptly after the minister’s assurances of ‘justice’ and even retribution to the flat-owners, the settlement of tin walled shacks in which Zohra Bibi and other workers like her lived with their families was demolished the next day. Many of the ‘facts’ of the matter remain disputed – while Zohra Bibi maintains that she neither admitted to the theft of cash nor hid in the basement of the building, the allegation that her employers Harshu and Mitul Sethi harassed and detained her, confiscating her mobile phone is denied by them. Meanwhile, thirteen men, a majority of them Bengali Muslims from West Bengal, arrested from the workers’ settlement are denied bail on the charge of attempted murder on the might of three FIRs filed by residents of Mahagun Moderne and languish in judicial custody. The Noida police are yet to commence any investigation of the Sethis as required by the FIR filed by Zohra Bibi and her husband Abdul Sattar. What does this language of the riot, of murderous mobs with which residents of the swanky apartment complex took to social media with #MaldainNoida accomplish? As security cards, required by domestic and other workers to enter the gated community, were revoked for 80-odd workers under the cry of ‘ban the Bangladeshi maid’, the bogey of the illegal Bangladeshi immigrant reared its ugly head. Continue reading “Under the sign of security – Why the bogey of ‘the illegal Bangladeshi immigrant’ is so powerful across urban Indian homes: Sahana Ghosh & Rimple Mehta”

Wrought of Iron Until She Was No More – Jayalalithaa’s Passing: Francis Cody

 

This is a guest post by FRANCIS CODY

All who did and most who did not support the Chief Minister are in mourning, in some form or another.  J. Jayalalithaa is no more.  A cinema star-turned-leader, whose determination in the face of massive adversity had won her the titles of ‘Iron Butterfly’ and ‘Revolutionary Leader’, Jayalalithaa captured the imagination as a woman not necessarily of the people, but certainly with the people as a ubiquitous presence and force in political and popular life.  It’s hard to fathom the Tamil landscape with the knowledge that all of those portraits of the leader no longer point back to a living, sentient being.  The outpouring of emotion she commanded in life and now in death never cease to amaze those do not have a feel for how the political and popular affect have been collapsed into one another, for better and for worse.  Without getting into the task of proving the sincerity of sentiment leading some to go so far as to take their own lives in acts of political devotion, or the opposite and equally misguided one of showing that those who participate in public displays of mourning are doing so because of some culture of political ‘sycophancy’ as it is often dubbed, we must shift the terms of debate on the nature of her power while appreciating the massive loss Tamil Nadu has sustained with her passing.

  Continue reading “Wrought of Iron Until She Was No More – Jayalalithaa’s Passing: Francis Cody”

Jana Gana Mana and the Danger of Passing Sentiment as Law

This originally appeared in The Wire

This is clearly the winter of Karan Johar’s discontent. Barely had the controversy over the illegal fine imposed on him by the Mahrashtra Navnirman Sena died down when the ghost of a controversy about his earlier film, Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham (K3G), has resurfaced in the form of the mind-boggling order from the Supreme Court making it mandatory for the national anthem to played in cinema halls before the screening of a film:

All the cinema halls in India shall play the National Anthem before the feature film starts and all present in the hall are obliged to stand up to show respect to the National Anthem.

Prior to the National Anthem is played or sung in the cinema hall on the screen, the entry and exit doors shall remain closed so that no one can create any kind of disturbance which will amount to disrespect to the National Anthem. After the National Anthem is played or sung, the doors can be opened.

When the National Anthem shall be played in the Cinema Halls, it shall be with the National Flag on the screen.

The national anthem is “the symbol of the Constitutional Patriotism and inherent national quality”, the judgment says. “It does not allow any different notion or the perception of individual rights, that have individually thought of have no space. (sic) The idea is constitutionally impermissible.”

Continue reading “Jana Gana Mana and the Danger of Passing Sentiment as Law”

The Radical Significance of the DU Photocopy case for Global Copyright

protest

While the immediate beneficiaries of the Delhi high court’s judgment in the Delhi University photocopy case are obviously the university, the photocopy shop and the students and academics who filed intervention petitions supporting the right to photocopy, the import of Justice Endlaw’s finely reasoned judgment goes well beyond this specific case as well as its impact on access to knowledge in India. The judgment and its treatment of educational exceptions in copyright law is unprecedented and could well become a model of how national IP laws should be interpreted. To understand its global significance we should turn to a short history of norm creation in copyright and its relation to specific national and local needs. 

The Berne convention in 1886 for the first time laid out uniform global norms for copyright protection and established minimum standards that would apply to all signatory states. This was concretised further through the TRIPS agreement in 1994. In addition to laying out the common minimum standard that would define the global intellectual property regime, these treaties also allowed countries some amount of flexibility in customizing their national legislation to respond to their access to knowledge needs. These were by way of exceptions and limitations that a country could impose on the exercise of intellectual property rights, and  it in this tricky terrain that many global IP battles have been fought. Both the Berne convention and the TRIPS agreement allow for fair dealing exceptions in national legislations, and in the case of the Berne convention there is also a special exception allowed for educational uses.  Continue reading “The Radical Significance of the DU Photocopy case for Global Copyright”

Historic Delhi High Court Judgement Dismisses Publishers’ Copyright Infringement Petition

In its much awaited judgment in the Delhi University photocopying case (The Chancellor Masters and Scholars of the University of Oxford v. Rameshwari Photocopy Services), the Delhi High Court has dismissed the copyright infringement petition initiated in August 2012 by three publishers (Oxford, Cambridge and Taylor & Francis) against a photocopy shop located in the premises of Delhi University. This case, which was being closely tracked by students, teachers and the publishing industry alike, was seen as one with immense significance for questions of access to knowledge. While initially involving only the publishers, the photocopier and the university, the case also saw intervention petitions being filed by a student group (Association of Students for Equitable Access to Knowledge) as well as by teachers and academics (Society for Promoting Educational Access and Knowledge). While the publishers made the argument that the creation of course packs and the photocopying of academic material for the same amounted to an infringement of the exclusive copyright of the authors and publishers, the defendants argued that the reproduction of materials for educational purposes fell within the exceptions to copyright under Section 52(1)(i) of the Copyright Act.

Not a moral right

In his considered and sharply reasoned judgment, Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw examines the gamut of arguments made by both sides and arrives at the conclusion that copyright is a statutory right and not a natural right, and hence any right that is granted to owners is also limited by exceptions carved out by law. The nature of Section 52 of the Copyright Act is such that any act falling within its scope will not constitute infringement. Section 52(1)(i) allows for the reproduction of any work i) by a teacher or a pupil in the course of instruction; or ii) as part of the questions to be answered in an examination; or iii) in answers to such questions.

Continue reading “Historic Delhi High Court Judgement Dismisses Publishers’ Copyright Infringement Petition”

The new war on piracy

This is a piece that has come out in today’s Hindu

 

Recent reports about the change in copyright infringement warnings on various websites have triggered anxiety among many Internet users in India. While the government has maintained a list of banned websites for quite some time, the warning that one earlier saw merely mentioned that the website had been blocked under directions from the Department of Telecommunications, while the new message warns against the viewing, downloading, exhibition and duplication of the contents of the URL as being offences which are punishable under Sections 63, 63-A, 65 and 65-A of the Copyright Act. It further states that these provisions prescribe a punishment of up to three years and a fine of up to Rs.3 lakh.

Internet users in India, many of whom routinely use torrent sites to access a range of entertainment and other content, are understandably worried about the new punitive rhetoric that underlies the warning. It may therefore be useful to unpack what the law actually says on the point and also examine the impulse behind this rhetorical shift within the logic of copyright enforcement.

Conflating various provisions

Sec. 63 of the Copyright Act, which deals with the offence of infringement, provides that any person who ‘knowingly’ infringes copyright or abets in the infringement of the same may be punished with imprisonment (minimum of six months and extendable to three years) and fined up to Rs.2 lakh. The new warning seems to have accounted for inflation and arbitrarily extended the fine amount to Rs.3 lakh, but that is only one part of its disingenuity. What the warning does is to conflate all the provisions and flatten them as though they all deal with a singular thing called infringement. Continue reading “The new war on piracy”

URGENT ACTION / APPEAL regarding deteriorating political and humanitarian situation in Jammu and Kashmir

On behalf of  JAMMU KASHMIR COALITION OF CIVIL SOCIETY [JKCCS]

To:

  1. Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
  2. Christof Heyns, Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions
  3. Juan Ernesto Mendez, Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment
  4. Maina Kiai, Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association
  5. David Kaye, Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression

 

From:

Jammu Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society [JKCCS]

Srinagar, Indian-administered Kashmir

July 16, 2016 

Re.: URGENT ACTION / APPEAL regarding deteriorating political and humanitarian situation in Jammu and Kashmir

 Excellencies,

  1. With grave concern and urgency we write to you today to bring to your immediate attention the ongoing State violence and repression against civilians in Jammu and Kashmir including repeated attacks on medical services, particularly hospital ambulances, carrying the dead and critically injured civilians. Jammu and Kashmir once again faces a humanitarian crisis that requires urgent international attention and intervention.
  2. With the presence of an estimated 7, 00,000 armed forces, Jammu and Kashmir is today the most militarized zone in the world and its civilians have faced widespread and systematic attacks at the hands of Indian State forces over the last 26 years. Thus far, the region has seen the commission of human rights violations, including war crimes that have resulted in70,000+ killings, 8000+ enforced disappearances and innumerous cases of torture and sexual violence. The armed forces, through special legislation but more importantly due to direct political support of the Indian state, enjoy total impunity and to date not a single armed forces personnel has been prosecuted for criminal actions in civilian courts of law. Continue reading “URGENT ACTION / APPEAL regarding deteriorating political and humanitarian situation in Jammu and Kashmir”