Violence against women – two patriarchal judgements: Gargi Mishra and Shreya Munoth

Guest post by GARGI MISHRA AND SHREYA MUNOTH 

Do a woman’s attire, appearance, sexual history or prior relationship with a perpetrator of sexual violence constitute a valid defence for a perpetrator of a sexual offence? Does the meaning of consent vary for educated women? The law, as it stands, doesn’t permit these factors to be taken into account while adjudicating crimes of violence against women nor does it prescribe varying standards. Unfortunately, however, deeply ingrained patriarchal mindsets rear their ugly heads ever so often flouting express statutory proscriptions, most recently demonstrated by two judgments delivered in the last fortnight dealing with rape.

The Punjab and Haryana High Court suspended the sentences of three students granted by the trial court for the rape of another student. The basis for this suspension, amongst others, was the victim’s “misadventures and experiments”, her “promiscuity” and the absence of brutal violence accompanying the sexual assault. Close on the heels of this, the Delhi High Court, on appeal, acquitted Mahmood Farooqui, a filmmaker, overturning the trial court’s verdict of finding him guilty of rape having performed forced oral sex on a visiting woman scholar.  While so doing, the Delhi High Court purposively misinterpreted the position of law on what constitutes consent and seems to have been largely influenced by the victim’s previous relationship with Farooqui, her being educated (a “woman of letters”), the supposed feebleness with which she said ‘no’ to the sexual act, and the fact of Farooqui’s bipolar disorder. Continue reading “Violence against women – two patriarchal judgements: Gargi Mishra and Shreya Munoth”

Are We Heading towards a Nuclear Winter? A Theoretical Framework: Rameez Raja

Guest post by RAMEEZ RAJA

The discovery of nuclear energy or radioactivity in 1930s and 1940s by the scientists in a sense murdered the true spirit of science. After the bombings by the United States over Japan in 1945, physicists and nuclear scientists practically got to know about the massive amount of energy a nuclear explosion can release. At around the same time, scientists started experimenting to harness nuclear energy for generating electricity as well. However, after the destruction caused by atomic explosions in Japan, Albert Einstein changed his stance towards using nuclear energy after witnessing the horrifying episode in human history. Along with him, many other nuclear scientists and bomb designers like Ted Taylor, John Gofman, Michio Kaku turned anti-nuclear activists after studying about the harmful effects nuclear radiation can cause.

Kennette Benedict, a senior advisor to Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists argued that the three communities which benefit by supporting nuclear warheads are “weapons scientists and engineers, private military contractors, and the government nuclear weapon bureaucracy.” Some realists and neo-realists like Hans Morgenthau (Politics Among Nations), Kenneth Waltz (Theory of International Politics) and John Mearsheimer (The Tragedy of Great Power Politics) championed the deterrence theory for avoiding major wars. Surprisingly, the nuclear hawks feel proud of their nuclear achievements and development, despite the fact that nukes failed to provide them with total security and also that nuclear energy is not a cheap source for generating electricity as reported by physicist, M. V. Ramana in his book The Power of Promise.  Continue reading “Are We Heading towards a Nuclear Winter? A Theoretical Framework: Rameez Raja”

In the Forbidden Land of Iran – the past, survival and imperial nostalgia: Inshah Malik

Guest post by Inshah Malik
Iran is politically and economically isolated and in that isolation, to call it an experiment of nation building is misleading, but nevertheless, it is an on-going exercise. Under the crippling sanctions, the party is still on!

I don’t have the usual agenda to visit Iran. I’m not an intrepid western traveler barging into the forbidden land, to explore my political other. My two year journey within Iran is a certain sojourn necessitated by my consistent desire to unravel the personal and political meaning of my existence. As a Kashmiri scholar burdened by a political inheritance of the prolonged Kashmir conflict, I seek to unearth the connection between Kashmir and Iran. This connection, as I understand now, is not simply political, in that both places are Muslim dominated, but more spiritual. It is in the erasure and random references to Kashmir in Farsi through which I attempt to understand the crisis of a Muslim consciousness entwined with the political domination of an imperial world order.

I encounter Kashmir as a meaningful reference in the poetry of Iran’s national poet, Hafiz Continue reading “In the Forbidden Land of Iran – the past, survival and imperial nostalgia: Inshah Malik”

In Which Swaminathan Iyer McDonaldises the Tribals and Serves Other Junk Food : Shripad Dharmadhikary and Nandini Oza

Guest Post by SHRIPAD DHARMADHIKARY AND NANDINI OZA

Reposted from Manthan

What can one expect when one is faced with a blog by “India’s leading economic journalist” which is titled “Most of the ousted tribals are flourishing and loving it”? That there will be a large helping of fries on the side? That it will taste great but is really junk? In all of these expectations, one is not disappointed.

First, a little background. The leading economic journalist is Swaminathan Iyer, who along with a colleague carried out a survey of some tribals ousted by the Sardar Sarovar Narmada dam, comparing their situation with those left behind in the hilly areas near the river, and others in the hilly areas but near a mining project. On 10th Sept 2017, Iyer wrote a blog titled “Why many tribals don’t mind being ousted” based on his study. In a matter of just two days, Iyer has come out with a second blog based on the same study on the same topic. One wonders why. But then, again, one may not wonder, for the Sardar Sarovar has become an important topic with the Prime Minister scheduled to dedicate to the nation the dam on 17th Sept 2017.

The first blog was a classic case of misinterpretation of data, hiding the more important issues, and conclusions not supported by research findings, as we showed in our response. We showed that the tribals do mind being ousted. Now Iyer has written another blog on the matter, which skirts the issues we had raised in our response and omits some crucial survey findings given in the earlier blog, but still tries to show the Sardar Sarovar rehabilitation program as being successful.

Continue reading “In Which Swaminathan Iyer McDonaldises the Tribals and Serves Other Junk Food : Shripad Dharmadhikary and Nandini Oza”

Why tribals do mind being ousted by dams: Shripad Dharmadhikary and Nandini Oza

SHRIPAD DHARMADHIKARY and NANDINI OZA write a stinging response to Swaminathan Anklesaria Iyer’s unsupported claims in Times of India about how much tribals love being ousted for big dams. The newspaper did not care to publish this rebuttal so the authors posted this on Dharmadhikary’s blog and also in the comments section to Iyer’s article.

We reproduce Dharmadhikary and Oza’s original response in full below from Manthan.

However, here is an update from Shripad:

I put my comment in brief, within the allowed 3000 characters, yesterday in the Comments section. Today, it’s gone.

Then, a friend brought to my notice that Swaminathan has written a completely new version of the blog and put it out yesterday. Wonder if he is in the habit of writing different versions of the same blog within a matter of two days! https://blogs.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/Swaminomics/most-of-the-ousted-tribals-are-flourishing-and-loving-it-thank-you-activists/

Have yet to read the new version of his bog properly (am out since early morning), but it appears that he has rewritten it in a way that tries to skirt the response we had given. Now I am planning to write another response to the new blog….but can only do it tomorrow as busy with meetings today.

And now, Dharmadhikary and Oza’s original response in Manthan:

SA Iyers’s piece in Times of India dated 10 Sept 2017, “Why many tribals don’t mind being ousted by dams”, examining the condition of some of the oustees of Sardar Sarovar Narmada dam is a classic case of misinterpretation of data, hiding the more important issues, and conclusions not supported by research findings. Indeed, a proper reading of the article itself shows that unlike Iyer’s assertion, his own figures show that tribals do mind being ousted. Some important points are given below.

Iyer claims that their “surveys showed, unambiguously, the resettled villagers were better off than their former neighbours in semi-evacuated villages.” In support, among the figures given from their survey, they point out that comparing the resettled with their former neighbours who remain in the original areas, the access to drinking water was 45% against 33%, to PHCs was 37% versus 12% and to hospitals 14% versus 3%. Given that the oustees were resettled between 25-30 years ago, and that the Sardar Sardar project has poured in hundreds of crores of rupees for resettlement, these figures don’t speak of oustees being better off, but indeed, point to the pathetic case of the oustees.

Continue reading “Why tribals do mind being ousted by dams: Shripad Dharmadhikary and Nandini Oza”

Take back our government – BJP’s Electoral Bonds and Corporate Control: Bharat Sarkar Bachao Committee

Received from Bharat Sarkar Bachao Committee, Delhi

Sign Petition Against the BJP’s Electoral Bonds – An Open Door for Corporates to Control Our Government

Sign petition here

हिंदी के लिए नीचे देखें

In this year’s budget session of Parliament, the Modi government quietly introduced a new provision in the Finance Act that throws open the door for corporates to purchase our government – and for the BJP to get huge unaccounted funds.

The new instrument is called an “electoral bond.” An electoral bond is just a piece of paper, worth a certain amount of money, that can be purchased from a notified bank and given to a registered political party. The party can then cash the bond and get the money.

But – and this is the key – all laws and regulations have been changed to prevent anyone from knowing who purchased the bond and who encashed it. The Income Tax Act has been amended to state that the political party is not required to disclose who gave them the money. The Companies Act has been amended to say that a company can give any amount of money to political parties, and it does not have to disclose who it donated to (earlier, companies could only donate up to 7.5% of their profits and had to make the recipients public). The bank is not required to disclose who purchased the bond.

The only institution who will know which company gave money to which political party is the bank – and, therefore, the party in charge of the Finance Ministry, namely the BJP. The government claims they want to “protect donors from harassment”. But, of course, the ruling party at the Centre will know about donors using electoral bonds, and it can and will harass them if they donate to the opposition.

In short, electoral bonds are just a giant, open funding channel for corporate cash to flow to the BJP.

They are also a perfect route for money laundering. Once money is put into an electoral bond it is untraceable. Sources that preferred to remain anonymous in the RBI have effectively pointed this out – noting that bearer bonds are just another form of cash.

Multiple institutions have already opposed the bonds. The opposition in the Rajya Sabha voted to reject money bonds, but using the ‘money bill’ provisions of the Constitution, the BJP overruled them by a vote of the majority in the Lok Sabha. The Election Commission has called electoral bonds a “retrograde step”. The outgoing Chief Election Commissioner, Naseem Zaidi, has said the “public has a right to know who is making donations” and that “electoral bonds will rob poll funding of transparency.”

In 2002, when directing candidates to disclose their assets when standing for elections, the Supreme Court had said that voters’ right to know is “fundamental and basic for the survival of democracy”. Electoral bonds are not just one more bad policy. They are a direct threat to the foundations of Indian democracy. We face the prospect of corporates not only influencing policy through the back door, but of effectively purchasing the government through the front door. It is vital for people to raise voices against this ‘reform’ before it is too late.

Hindi petition follows.

Continue reading “Take back our government – BJP’s Electoral Bonds and Corporate Control: Bharat Sarkar Bachao Committee”

The Need to Integrate the Sciences for an Integral Society: Vikas Bajpai

Guest post by VIKAS BAJPAI

There couldn’t be a more opportune time than the present moment in India’s history for an impassioned cry for science to arise from the scientific community in the country. On the 9th of August 2017 scientists from across India carried out the ‘March for Science’ in twenty six cities with the plea addressed to the Prime Minister of the country demanding that:

the Government to uphold Article 51A of the Constitution and to restrain the attempts that run counter to the development of scientific temper, human values and spirit of inquiry enshrined in the Constitution (Organizing Committees of the India March for Science in different cities, 2017).

It was further stated:

Science is not a set of beliefs. Science tries to understand the laws governing the material world and society following a well-established methodology where nothing is accepted without evidence. Thus science has created a body of knowledge that has been tested by practice, which provides the basis for advancement of society. That is why it is now an established canon of governance that all decisions that impact people’s lives should be based, not on personal beliefs, but on scientific evidence (ibid).

Within days, Avijit Pathak, a sociologist teaching at Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru University wrote his piece, the ‘Hubris of Science’ in The Indian Express as a rejoinder to this ‘March for Science’.

Continue reading “The Need to Integrate the Sciences for an Integral Society: Vikas Bajpai”