Development Outcomes And Politics in Gujarat: Atul Sood

Guest Post by ATUL SOOD

Development is back in focus after the endless noise about cow protection, nationalism, Hindu-Muslim, janeus, Shiv Bhakti, Gorakhpur governance, casteism, love jihad, enemy nation and the rest. Why this talk about development now? Perhaps the dissent and protests on the ground by various sections in Gujarat in the last few years have compelled even the diehards to acknowledge (Mr. Amit Shah recently said ‘It is not my point that the issues raised in those agitations are not an issue’), that something is deeply problematic about the “Gujarat Model of Development”. The ASHA workers have taken to the streets demanding a living wage, regularized working hours and social security; dalits are no longer silent about the violence, indignity and intimidation heaped upon them; displaced families from Sardar Sarovar Dams have occupied streets seeking rehabilitation; farmers are demanding reprieve from a crisis to which they have had no hand in creating; tribals and evicted farmers are protesting against showpiece infrastructure projects which have meant their displacement and destruction of human habitations; and the youth from cultivating castes are seeking guarantee for jobs.  The list is continuing.  

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Was the ‘Dancing Girl’ of Mohenjodaro actually a warrior?

NAMAN AHUJA, art historian, asks an exciting question that reminds us that the interpretation of artefacts, indeed, interpretation as such, is inevitably framed by the context of the viewer, and therefore always open to rethinking.

The image below is one that we are all familiar with, the exquisite sculpture of the ‘Dancing Girl’ found at Mohenjodaro.

Naman Ahuja, speaking to Anindita Ghose, suggests that the reading of this image as a dancing girl can be attributed to a perspective arising from the normalizing of patriarchal values prevalent in contemporary society. Ahuja offers an alternative reading that is much more persuasive:

The figure has bangles all the way up her left arm but her right arm is bare, as any working person would have it. A decorated left arm and a bare right arm free for labour…or for war? If she was a dancing girl by profession, surely it would have been relevant to keep both arms decorated? Look at the way she is standing. Look at her confidence. One arm on hip. Head thrown back. The way her hand is sculpted, there might have been a spear in her hand. Is she a warrior figure? Could she be a soldier rather than a dancing girl?

I can’t wait for this exhibition, India And The World: A History In Nine Stories,  to come to Delhi!

Nightmarish Visions – Indian government proposal for ‘Institutions of Eminence’: JNUTA

Statement by JNU Teachers’ Association

In early November, the JNU administration forwarded to all Centres/Special Centres/Schools, the Government of India proposal to establish twenty “Institutions of Eminence” to achieve world class status, from amongst the existing Government/Private institutions and new institutions from the private sector. It conveyed its intentions to submit an application to the UGC under the scheme and has asked Centres/Special Centres/Schools to provide comments on Part-1 – III [Vision for Institute of Eminence], Part-1 – IV [proposed fifteen year strategic plan], and Part-1 – VI [Proposed five years implementation plan] of the attached proforma.

This note from JNUTA is first to direct colleagues’ attention to the serious debate that this GoI plan has occasioned, in a country where higher education has simply failed to deliver in terms of access, quality, and justice — with a Gross Enrolment Ratio of just 20.4, as per the All India Survey of Higher Education (2013), it is the responsibility of educationists to query whether an outlay of Rs. 10,000 crore on ten institutions is warranted in the first place. (Please see the following pieces in favour of the proposal, and against it, in particular). Given that the goal of this whole initiative is a limited one of achieving a breakthrough into the world top 100 rankings, the teaching community must thoroughly discuss what rankings are good for anyway, and what significance the term ‘world class’ truly signifies, if the goals of education are essentially humanist and necessarily inclusive in character.

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Statement by concerned citizens on the continued incarceration of Hadiya

We, the undersigned concerned citizens, are greatly disturbed by news reports of the NCW in-charge, Rekha Sharma’s visit to meet Hadiya at the home of her father, Mr. Asokan, where she continues to be incarcerated. These reports raise more fears than they allay.

Ms Hadiya has been reported by Ms Sharma to be ‘healthy and happy’. However, Ms. Sharma goes on to state, without providing any evidence whatsoever, that while there is no ‘love jihad’ in Kerala, there are forced conversions.

It bears reiteration that Ms. Hadiya is a twenty four year old adult woman, who took a decision to convert to Islam, and then to marry a Muslim man. For this exercise of self determination, Ms. Hadiya has been placed under house arrest in her parents’ control, and this shocking violation of Ms. Hadiya’s personal liberty and her right to take decisions about her own life, has been endorsed by the legal system.

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#whatnow? Ponni

THIS POST IS WRITTEN BY PONNI

To all the men, women, and all those of named and unnamed genders in my life, intimate, private and public, who have shown me safety, joy, pleasure, comfort and love and who ask of me, gently, the same. I love you all.

I was raped when I was 14, Or maybe 15. Not sure. It took me three years to realise it happened. Another ten to choose to begin to deal with it. And another six to realise the details and extent of what happened. And so, the process continues. Far from over. So yeah, #metoo.

When I moved to Delhi I called home crying everyday, not only because I didn’t know Hindi and everyone chided me by calling me madrasi, but because I got sexually harassed everyday. It wasn’t the ‘far away’ whistling kind I was used to in Chennai. I saw penises from unzipped pants in the crushing closeness of Delhi buses. Again, on the bus, I had men masturbate on my shoulders and am still showering to get it off me. So yeah, #metoo.

Once I was older, I acquired some ‘power’ (by my standards) – people had heard of my name from publications, activist work – I was accused or it was implied that I could have sexually harassed or abused two women at two different times. I was in romantic relationships with them. Neither one made the accusation public. Neither one of them were my equals in age, or cultural capital. One of them got in touch many years later and tried to establish a friendship again while implying that she never meant to make me feel that way. But I was too scared to even respond. The other was much closer to me and so I said more and she said more to me. She was the one I had a physical relationship with. I will never forget that feeling of power, enormous self doubt, and painful reflection. I will always ask myself what my intentions were, how I may have expressed them and why I wasn’t able to negotiate power in a way that was adequately and appropriately dignified, respectful, kind and most importantly equal-ising.

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Statement Condemning BJP Appropriation Of Muslim Women’s Voices: Bebaak Collective

We, as Bebaak Collective (Voices of the Fearless), are writing this statement unequivocally condemning  the comment made by the BJP leader Subramanian Swamy in an event in Mumbai on Friday, 27th October that the party could win in Uttar Pradesh elections because Muslim women believed that it was BJP who could save them from ‘triple talaq’. (See, “Muslim women felt only BJP could save them from triple talaq says Swamy” Indian Express, 28th October) BJP leaders have time and again celebrated the victory of the recent judgement that invalidates the instantaneous practice of triple talaq and the leadership have often claimed the victory to itself, strategically pointing out the silence of the Congress government during the Shah Bano case.

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Say NO to Aadhar – sign the petition

Sign the petition here.

Text of the petition

I’m Saying NO to Aadhaar

We the undersigned wish to place on record our opposition to the Aadhaar scheme which is being aggressively pushed by the government in complete violation of norms, procedures and Supreme Court orders. 

Many of us have resisted enrolment. Many of us are already enrolled. But today, we stand together to say NO To Aadhaar. 

We oppose Aadhaar because it violates our Constitutional rights and freedoms as citizens. 

We oppose Aadhaar because it undermines the foundations of our democracy, disempowering us as citizens while giving government the means to control every aspect of our lives. 

The mess created by Aadhaar is not a matter of poor implementation or “teething troubles” as claimed by the government.  Aadhaar cannot be fixed with some tweaking and tinkering. It is fundamentally flawed and  must be scrapped.      

We say NO to Aadhaar because  Continue reading “Say NO to Aadhar – sign the petition”