Statement condemning the attack on Advocate Sudha Bhardwaj

​​We the undersigned wish to place on record our utter disgust, contempt and outrage at the latest in the series of machinations by Republic TV, working to its brief as a propagandist for the ongoing crusade against all those who take public stands in defence of democracy, secularism, human rights, Constitutional propriety and rule of law.

Republic TV’s latest target is Advocate Sudha Bharadwaj, National Secretary of the People’s Union for Civil Liberties, Vice President of the Indian Association of Progressive Lawyers and Visiting Professor at the National Law University Delhi. She is widely-known for her three decades of work as a trade unionist, human rights defender, environmental lawyer and a respected advisor to several state institutions including the state legal aid bodies and the National Human Rights Commission. Continue reading “Statement condemning the attack on Advocate Sudha Bhardwaj”

US scholars of South Asia should boycott Indian Ministers and Officials Attacking Academic Freedom: Nandini Sundar

Kafila had earlier published a letter to Association of Asian Studies (AAS) protesting the exclusion of Pakistani scholars from its conference in Delhi, because the Government of India refused visas to them.

Nandini Sundar, in an article in The Wire, explores the complex ramifications of this issue and urges a more consistent position from scholars that would recognize and resist a) the manner in which the Indian state and Indian capital are embroiled in South Asia studies in the US academy and b) the travel ban in the US that equally excludes scholars from seven countries from participating in academic conferences held in the US.

Regarding the US travel ban, there was an international call in early 2017 for an academic boycott of international conferences held in the US, which I had supported, and renew my support to, after the recent Supreme Court decision upholding the travel ban.

And now read Nandini Sundar in The Wire:

As an India-based scholar, as someone who is not a member of the Association for Asian Studies (AAS), which is primarily located in the US though it has 7,000 members worldwide, and someone who had no plans of attending the AAS-in-Asia conference in Delhi (July 4-8, 2018), the boycott call against the AAS-in-Asia is not something that would ordinarily bother me.

The boycott call arose out of the government of India’s refusal to allow Pakistani scholars to attend the AAS meeting; and the AAS’s failure to take a strong public stand against this and inform its members in a timely fashion so that they could make their own choices about whether to attend while Pakistani scholars were being denied. 649 scholars protested against what appeared to be the AAS’s and the local host, Ashoka University’s quiescence in an unacceptable restriction on academic freedom. I was one of them, even though my primary anger was with the government of India, and not with the AAS. However, feeling that this was not enough, over 200 of the signatories have also decided to boycott the conference, arguing that the AAS should have had the courage to cancel the conference altogether rather than submit to the ban.

CONTINUE READING THIS ARTICLE HERE.

 

Jadavpur University Scraps Admission Tests – Not going down without a fight: Sritama Chatterjee

Guest Post by SRITAMA CHATTERJEE

The Executive Council (EC) of Jadavpur University recently decided to scrap the admission test in the Humanities for the academic year 2018-2019. This is no surprise to many of us who have been closely following the chain of events that have unfolded at the university in the last couple of days. According to published news reports, the education minister of West Bengal, Partha Chatterjee had “advised” the university back in November 2017, to do away with the procedure of conducting admission tests.[i]  This raises a serious question whether the education minister of a state can even advise a university on how to conduct its admission process, especially considering that the university is an autonomous institution.  The motives of the EC about the admission tests were becoming increasingly suspicious when they postponed the dates for the admission test twice, thereby causing inconvenience to many applicants, especially those students who had applied from outside West Bengal and had their itinerary planned according to the declared dates. Not only were the dates postponed but also the method of admitting students were changed from the earlier notification of admitting students solely on the basis of admission tests to 50% weightage on board examination and 50% weightage on admission test to completely scrapping the admission test, altogether. Although I acknowledge that the parameters to rank and evaluate the performance of universities have its own set of problems which is outside the scope of this piece, it cannot be denied that Jadavpur University has done significantly well in the National Institutional Ranking Framework(NIRF) published recently by the MHRD, in spite of the fact that as a state university, the funding received by JU is scanty in comparison to the central universities. It is noteworthy that one of the parameters on the basis of which the NIRF rankings are based is perception, in which JU has not scored well. I wonder that after facing the harassment that applicants had to go through because of the fickle-minded decisions of the EC, whether the “public perception” about JU would become better. The VC and the EC must answer. Continue reading “Jadavpur University Scraps Admission Tests – Not going down without a fight: Sritama Chatterjee”

Higher Education Commission of India Act – Send your responses NOW!

The Government of India has set up a draft proposal to repeal the UGC Act, scrapping the UGC as a regulatory body and establishing a new regulatory body called the Higher Education Commission of India (HECI).

Needless to say, such an act has far-reaching repercussions for higher education in India.

The Union HRD Minister, Sri Prakash Javadekar, has urged all members of the concerned public to respond to the proposed draft of the HECI within the 7th of July, 5 pm.

This is a very short time span, but a response has been prepared by college and university teachers laying out the problems of the draft, strongly opposing the same. We believe that by withdrawing financial powers from the regulator and handing them over to the central government, and by giving the HECI unilateral and absolute powers to authorise, monitor, shut down, and recommend disinvestment from Higher Educational Institutions, the Draft Bill will expose higher education in the country to ideological manipulation, loss of much needed diversity as well as academic standards, fee hikes, and profiteering.

You can read the full draft of this response here.

If you would like to respond to Shri Javadekar along these lines, please click here and follow the simple instructions.

India’s Panicky Response to UN Report on Kashmir: Kavita Krishnan

Guest Post by KAVITA KRISHNAN

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) released its first-ever ‘Report on the Situation of Human Rights in Kashmir’ on 14 June, 2018. It is unfortunate though predictable, that India rejected the report and its recommendations out of hand, after having already refused the OHCHR access to Kashmir.

Dismissed Without Reading?

The UN report is, however, a historic opportunity for India’s people to reorient and reassess the conversation around Kashmir. India’s media and columnists could have played an important role in creating a hospitable and educative space for this conversation. Instead, what we have seen is the almost panicky attempt, on part of prominent opinion-makers, to shut down the conversation and dismiss the report as too silly even to merit close scrutiny and debate.      Continue reading “India’s Panicky Response to UN Report on Kashmir: Kavita Krishnan”

Statement from Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) Students, Alumni, Faculty and Staff on arbitrary arrests of academics and activists

 

Image courtesy Rebel Politik

Statement from Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) Students, Alumni, Faculty and Staff

We, the undersigned students, alumni, faculty, staff and other members of the TISS community stand with Mahesh Raut and the four other activists who have been arrested unfairly and demand their immediate and unconditional release.

On the morning of June 6th, 2018, the Pune Police investigating the Bhima Koregaon case arrested Mr. Mahesh Raut. Mahesh is an alumnus of TISS, a former fellow at the prestigious Prime Minister’s Rural Development Programme (PMRD) and an anti-displacement activist working with gram sabhas on implementation of laws like PESA (Panchayat Extension
to Scheduled Areas) and FRA (Forest Rights Act). He was arrested from Nagpur, where he had been staying for his ongoing medical treatment. On the same day, the premises of Mr. Sudhir Dhawale, Dalit activist and editor of Marathi magazine Vidrohi, Professor Shoma Sen, Head of the English literature department at Nagpur University, Advocate Surendra Gadling, general secretary of Indian Association of People’s Lawyers (IAPL), and Mr. Rona Wilson, secretary of the Committee for Release of Political Prisoners (CRPP) were raided and they were arrested too. Even as the police informed that they were being picked up in connection to the Bhima Koregaon case, the media started releasing news about them being ‘top urban Maoist
operatives’. Continue reading “Statement from Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) Students, Alumni, Faculty and Staff on arbitrary arrests of academics and activists”