Guest post by ATUL SOOD
Nobel Laureate Paul Krugman spoke online at a recent Distinguished Public Lecture at the Ashoka University (March 12, 2021), hosted by Arvind Subramaniam, Director, Ashoka Centre for Economic Policy. He spoke on “Is Labor-Intensive Exporting Still a Feasible Development Strategy?”
Kugman said that in this globalized world, for India to get into the market space vacated by the Chinese manufacturers, particularly for labour-intensive goods, it will have to be ready to do two things: First, make policy choices that are realistic and not ‘precocious’ and second, be ready to accept that rights and freedoms of labour, in particular will be sacrificed. The wise counsel of Krugman was that India will have to be prepared to negotiate the space between rights/freedoms and share in the world market of course, up to the point where “labour is not getting killed”. Continue reading Freedom in the university and outside it: Atul Sood
During the period of drafting this open letter, the publishers have withdrawn the book. We however feel that the concerns raised continue to hold good and are putting this open letter out in the larger interest of ethical medical practice.
Dr Apurba S Sastry, Associate Professor, Jawaharlal Institute of Postgraduate Medical Education and Research, Puducherry, India
Dr Sandhya Bhat, Professor of Microbiology, Pondicherry Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS), Puducherry, India.
Dear Drs Sastry and Bhat,
Greetings! We are writing this open letter to you with reference to the 3rd edition of the Microbiology textbook “Essentials of Medical Microbiology” which both of you have authored, and about the unscientific and seemingly prejudiced choice of using as an epidemiological example, the Tablighi Jamaat (Society of Preachers) gathering organised in India between March 13-15, 2020 .
We are a group of doctors, researchers, academicians and social activists who would like to express our deep concerns about this example on the grounds of it being unscientific and also running the risk of inculcating discriminatory, in this case, Islamophobic ideation in public health teaching and more importantly in the minds of future generations of health professionals. Below we briefly present cause of these concerns and urge you to immediately withdraw copies of the said textbook from the market along with a statement from you clarifying that the Tablighi Jamaat congregation is not epidemiologically significant for the spread of the COVID-19 virus and therefore the book is being removed from sales and will also not include as an example in subsequent prints. Continue reading An open letter regarding unscientific epidemiological practice and Islamophobia in a textbook of Medical Microbiology
This post is the English translation of an article in Punjabi by NADIA SINGH, published first in Punjabi Tribune.
In a February long ago, in 1978 to be precise, thousands of American farmers rode into Washington D.C. on their tractors, from all across America. Some travelled for days together, covering journeys of hundreds of miles. What was the mission behind their long and arduous expedition? They were demanding fair prices and an equitable model of agricultural development.
Image courtesy modernfarmer.com
In the 1970s US had initiated drastic changes in its agrarian policies under the “Get Big or Get Out” paradigm. This policy sought to replace small family run farms and consolidate them into large-scale factory farms. Policy makers in the US believed that industrial farming represented a more efficient and profitable economic model, compared to small and medium farms run independently by farmers. Continue reading When tractors marched in Washington DC: Nadia Singh
This article by MEGHNAD S AND SHAMBHAVI THAKUR was originally published in Newslaundry as Hate factory: Inside Kapil Mishra’s ‘Hindu Ecosystem’.
You can subscribe to Newslaundry here.
If the ever-growing reality of Hindu Rashtra were one big Christmas, Kapil Mishra would be Santa Claus, and the members of his “Hindu Ecosystem” hardworking elves delivering the gift of religious hatred and bigotry, packaged in the seductive wrapping of Hindutva, to the masses, secretly but methodically.
On November 16 last year, Mishra, a former Aam Aadmi Party minister who is now with the BJP and has been accused of inciting the February 2020 Delhi carnage by the victims and activists, posted a tweet asking whoever was interested to fill in a form and join what he described as the “Hindu Ecosystem” team.
The form is straightforward – seeking such details as name, cellphone number, state and country of residence – but for one standout question. It asks the prospective footsoldier of the Hindu Ecosystem to state their “special area of interest” and, lest it wasn’t clear what that meant, gives a set of examples.
Continue reading Toolkit for Hate – Inside Kapil Mishra’s ‘Hindu Ecosystem’: Meghnad S & Shambhavi Thakur
Widows and relatives of farmers who were believed to have killed themselves over debt, at Tikri border. Image courtesy Indian Express
Let me tell you what the Delhi Police knows. And I do not mean the abstract entity called Delhi Police. I mean every single IPS officer and every constable involved in carrying out the “toolkit investigation.”
They know that 22 year old Disha Ravi is not the Prime Mover along with the relatively recently formed Canada-based Poetic Justice Foundation (set up in March 2020) , in a plot to overthrow the Indian government. They know this because the IPS officers at least, can read English and a simple search would show them that the term “toolkit” in this context is basically used by organizers of street protests against autocracies the world over, for peacefully expressing mass dissent.
Here is one such article from 2013 called The Dissident’s Toolkit, in the context of the Arab Spring. The author Erica Chenoweth (soon to be honoured with an arrest warrant) explains:
Research shows, in fact, that demonstrations are just one of many tools that civil resistance movements can use to effect change. Successful movements are those that use a wide array of methods to pressure their state opponents while keeping their activists safe. The demonstration tactic we’re used to seeing is just one of many hundreds of tactics available to civilians seeking change — and successful campaigns for change must use more than just a single tactic.
Continue reading Toolkits of democracy and a paranoid Hindu Rashtra
Palestinian poet Mourid Barghouti passed away yesterday aged 77. AYESHA KIDWAI who met and came to know him during the term of a residential fellowship at the Rockefeller Institute, Bellagio, writes a farewell. Ayesha has also translated some of Mourid Barghouti’s poems into Hindustani on Kafila. Link to the translations is given below.
Picture by Ayesha Kidwai
Late last night I was struck with concern for Mourid and how he was, and now I read that he passed away a few hours ago.
I hope you went without pain, my dear friend; the wry and generous bravery with which you loved should have given you that.
I hope that you got that moment, as you always sought in life, when you stepped out of the scene of your own passing and looked at it from afar and above. Only you would have found the one mourner or thing to mourn that sums up this grief that bores with such intensity into our souls.
Farewell, my friend, because when peace was never yours or Palestine’s, it is meaningless to wish for you to rest in peace.
I just hope that as you passed, you could think one final time of Radwa and Tamil and Palestine, and also once again the words of
your favourite poet Wislawa Szymborska.
Continue reading “No life that cannot be immortal” – Farewell Mourid Barghouti: Ayesha Kidwai
This guest post is by AYESHA KIDWAI
When on January 26, 2016, Prof. M. Jagadesh Kumar, a professor of electrical engineering from IIT Delhi, assumed office as the new Vice-Chancellor of Jawaharlal Nehru University, no one really knew who he was. Although subsequent news coverage have unearthed a short-lived and rather unsavoury notoriety in the early 2000s, his administrative experience appeared to be scant, never even having served as a head of a department in any of the institutions he has served in), so news coverage of his appointment could make mention of only his prowess in the martial arts and his aspirations to nation-building in the university (which, as was eventually revealed, boiled down largely to a somewhat macabre fascination with large military hardware).
The five years of Kumar as Vice-Chancellor of JNU have done much to lift him from the obscurity he once enjoyed, but most of his new-found fame has been singularly unflattering. Met with a sustained opposition from the JNU Students Union and the JNU Teachers Association, Kumar has far from established himself as a capable, transparent, and non-partisan administrator committed to the highest standards of academic excellence. However, the poor press that has consistently dogged him throughout his tenure appears to have done nothing to weaken the extraordinary governmental support that he enjoys. So resolute is this backing, that it not only has it been able to claim the scalp of a senior bureaucrat in the MHRD back in 2019, it has now secured Jagadesh Kumar an unusual continuation in office until “his successor is appointed”, following the indefinite postponement of a meeting for the selection of his successor on January 7, 2020. Continue reading Exclusion Arithmetics in Higher Education -JNU as the NEP 2020 Pilot: Ayesha Kidwai
This article by NAKUL SINGH SAWHNEY was first published in Raiot.in
Rakesh Tikait (Image courtesy Twitter/ @iHShaheen at National Herald)
I have read several posts on social media the last few days where people are expressing apprehensions and even anger over all the excitement around Rakesh Tikait. Most of that anger stems from Bhartiya Kisan Union’s (BKU) irresponsible role in the 2013 sectarian violence in Muzaffarnagar and Shamli districts.
It’s been over seven and a half years since that madness engulfed West UP. We saw BKU split and many new factions emerged. The noticeable split was the breaking away of Gulam Mohammad Jaula, the biggest Muslim leader of BKU and often considered the late, Baba Tikait’s right hand man.
Interestingly, once Ajit Singh and Jayant Chaudhry lost their elections in 2014, many older Jats in the region were crestfallen. Many of them sobbed ‘Humne Chaudhry sahab ko kaise hara diya’. Many Jats (particularly of the older generation) were always upset with their younger generation for indulging in the violence of 2013. Secretly, between sobs they’d often say, ‘I hope it’s not too late before our youngsters realize where they’ve gone wrong’.
Continue reading How not to read Rakesh Tikait: Nakul Singh Sawhney
This is the third part of a series of reports on Jawaharlal Nehru University (2016-2021) by the JNU Teachers’ Association.
Part I – Delhi High Court Orders .
Part II – Security on JNU Campus
On Academic Programmes
The directive issued by the Ministry of Education on the evening of 22 January announcing an extension for Prof. Jagadesh Kumar as Vice Chancellor till the time that the new incumbent is appointed, serves as yet another reminder of how consistently over the last five years, despite several representations backed by relevant Court Orders, the powers that be at the Centre have chosen to shut their eyes to the misdemeanours committed by the man heading JNU. The University Statutes and Act do not allow a second term for any Vice Chancellor and define the term of the Vice-Chancellor as five years only. The MHRD order does not award him a second term, and merely continues him in office until his successor is appointed. Yet, the Vice Chancellor on the 27th of January, called an emergency meeting of the Executive Council, at one hour’s notice and ‘reappointed’ all three Rectors, despite the fact that the tenure of the Rectors was not over. The JNUTA finds this disregard for the University Statutes shocking, as the VC cannot claim any knowledge that the new VC will not be appointed before the Rectors’ terms will be over. It strongly objects to the scant regard that the incumbent VC has for the Statutes of University he heads. Continue reading JNUTA REPORT ON THE UNIVERSITY 2016-2021 PART III – On Academic Programmes
This is the second part of a series of reports on Jawaharlal Nehru University (2016-2021) by the JNU Teachers’ Association.
Part I – Delhi High Court Orders can be found here.
Growing Concerns over Security on JNU Campus
This statement, the second in the series brought out by JNUTA, focuses on the unprecedented deterioration of security issues on campus over the last five years. The word ‘unprecedented is consciously used because never have residents which includes faculty, students and non-teaching staff of the university felt so vulnerable and unsafe inside their 1000 acre campus. For a residential university like JNU, security on campus is a very important concern. However, as in other matters, in this area too, the responses of the university administration has been lax and has failed miserably in ensuring that residents feel secure and less vulnerable on campus.
Enumerated below are some of the serious events that have taken place on campus over the last five years, that have put a big question mark on the Vice Chancellor’s capabilities to effectively manage and deliver on this issue. Continue reading JNUTA Report on the university 2016-2021 Part II – Security on JNU Campus
Farmers break barricades to enter Delhi, peacefully, disciplined. Police have blocked off roads, but people gather along the roads, on rooftops, to greet our heroes.
At NH 24, Patparganj around 12.30 pm
For live, and unbiased coverage, stay tuned to this link.
Kisan Ekta Morcha
And a short video here
Bharti Kisan Union Ekta Ugrahan
By “unbiased” I mean coverage that does not allege chaos, Pakistani tweets, a few tukdas misleading innocent farmers, “Khalistani” infiltration etc.
These are farmers, they are here in their thousands, they know exactly what they are doing, and they may be our last line of defence against the devastation being wreaked by Hindutva politics and corporate capitalism on an India that we stood by and were also deeply critical of, too.
If we want to continue being critical, it’s the farmers who will ensure us our freedom to do so.
This is the first part of a series of reports on Jawaharlal Nehru University (2016-2021) by the JNU Teachers’ Association.
On 26th January 2021, the five-year tenure of Prof. Mamidala Jagadesh Kumar as Vice Chancellor of JNU will formally come to an end. While there are press reports that confirm that the Search Committee constituted for identifying a replacement has yet to begin its work, which indicates the probability of Prof. Jagadesh Kumar getting an extension till the new incumbent finally takes over; his inevitable departure from JNU is significant.
Over the next few days, JNUTA would like to share with you relevant documentation that shows as to how a public university of the stature of JNU was single handedly destroyed over the last five years by none other than the Vice Chancellor who administered JNU as if it was his personal fiefdom, showing scant regard for the Statutes and Ordinances that had governed University practices in the past.
In the first part of this series, starting today we would like to reproduce important observations made by the Honourable Delhi High Court on various cases concerning matters of the university. Over the five-year period 2016-21, there have been nearly over 150 cases that have been filed by the JNU community against the current Vice Chancellor and his administration. This high increase in legal cases, represents the tip of the iceberg. Deep within lies the rot which stems from the inability of the Vice Chancellor to engage in dialogue and resolve matters through correct interpretation of UGC guidelines as well as statutes and ordinances of the university, a lacuna in his personality that stems from inordinate conceit in his own abilities or some other ulterior motives. Continue reading JNUTA Report on the university 2016-2021 Part I – Delhi High Court orders
Malathi de Alwis in Delhi, May 2014.
This is my Mala.
Every person touched by her friendship felt this sense of unique connection to Mala. To receive the gift of her attention was to forever feel the tug of a thread that attached you to a part of her heart. She would remember you at some point or the other even if you were not constantly in touch, with that fine-tuned sensitivity that brought to you the exact poem or thought or photograph or experience that linked the two of you.
It was nothing short of magical, her capacity to make very single person in her widespread community of friends across the globe, feel special to her, linked to her through one or the other of her passionate interests. A feminist activist and scholar committed to understanding and countering ethno-nationalism in Sri Lanka, she was part of the wider community of South Asian feminists who constantly struggle to transcend the barbed wire borders of our nation-states in solidarity and hope. Her friends and colleagues in Sri Lanka can speak more about her activism, but one of the feminist enterprises with which she was involved was the collective, anonymous column called Cat’s Eye, which began in the Lanka Guardian in the late 1970s, and through several incarnations, is now a blog. Continue reading Malathi de Alwis 1963- 2021 – beloved friend, feminist comrade
Statement by MEDIA FOUNDATION
The Media Foundation notes with deep dismay that a lower court in Gujarat’s Kutch region has issued an arrest warrant against senior journalist Mr Paranjoy Guha Thakurta in a defamation case filed by the Adani group.
In June 2017, Mr Thakurta co-authored an expose in the Economic & Political Weekly outlining how the Adani group was able to evade paying the required amount of duty for an export venture with some help from the government. This series of articles was later reproduced in a news website, The Wire. Subsequently, the Adani group dropped the defamation charges against the publishers, the website and the co-authors of the investigation, barring Mr Thakurta.
While we hope that the higher judicial forums will provide immediate relief to Mr Thakurta, it does need to be emphasized that this defamation case is a vindictive act and intended to intimidate journalists and discourage professional journalism. This is part of a larger emerging trend of powerful vested interests misusing the processes of law to harass and hound independent and intrepid reporters and commentators.
The Media Foundation expresses its solidarity with Mr Thakurta and stands by him.
Harish Khare, President
Mannika Chopra, Honorary Secretary
A little bemused, I heard a writer addressing the farmers’ protests recently say in all solidarity and sincerity – “What we have been writing about for long, you have demonstrated at ground level.”
On the contrary, I believe that this massive and electrifying protest against the farm laws is at the cutting edge of political theory and political practice, from which writers and academics must listen and learn.
Please listen to the statement by Kanwaljeet Singh on the Supreme Court judgement staying the farm laws, and setting up an “expert” committee to “negotiate” between the farmers and the government.
Speaking on behalf of the joint forum of farmers’ unions, Kisan Ekta Morcha, Kanwaljeet (of Punjab Kisan Union) makes what I think are two critical points regarding the law and how movements can relate to it. These thought provoking points have larger resonance and require wide ranging debate and consideration. Continue reading A lesson in political theory from farmers’ unions
Guest post by GANESH DEVY
9 January 2021
As a spontaneous reaction to the failure of the government to bring the discussions with the farmers to a conclusion even after eight rounds of discussion, many farmer-organizations in North Karnataka took out a tractors protest rally today. A broad-spectrum of farmer organizations, civil society organizations and members of political parties participated in it.
One saw active presence of the former BJP Union Minister in Atal Bhari Government Baba Gowda Patil, now in JDS , Gururaj Hansimarad, JDS, farmer activist Gangadhar Patil-Kulkarni, CPM-Union activist Abdul Khan, Gandhian social worker Adv. Nerlikar, Congress member Basavaraja Malkari, Secular Unity activist Ashraf Ali and many other prominent figures form North Karnataka standing on tractors and shouting slogans.
Continue reading Farmers’ discontent – a report from Karnataka: Ganesh Devy
Farmers across the country have geared up to escalate their protests against the farm laws, as the government remains adamant in its commitment to its crony capitalists. The talks yesterday failed as three Union ministers part of the negotiations said it was not possible to commit to a rollback of the legislation without “consultations with higher authorities”.
Who are these mysterious higher authorities whom they dare not name? Do they mean the Pradhan Sevak Himself, who is after all, within tweeting distance at all times, and could have deigned to talk to the farmers’ representatives; or do they mean his paymasters?
Meanwhile 60 farmers have died at the Singhu Border protest site alone, according to doctors, to deafening silence from this utterly shameless government, that has tear-gassed and lathi charged its people, and forced them to brave the bitter cold and torrential rain in protest at these laws, which will wreak devastation on agriculture and on food security for all.
But the most revealing statement of all comes from the Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar, an explicit admission of the total loss of legitimacy of his government. Continue reading A confession of its own loss of legitimacy – the Modi government must resign
The farmers unions have called for a boycott of all products of Adani and Reliance, the two corporates closest to the Modi-Shah regime and which stand to benefit the most from the opening up of the farm sector to agribusiness, which will not only destroy farmers’ livelihoods but affect food security for everyone. The new laws have been drafted to facilitate ease of doing business for these corporations, eliminating safeguards for both farmers and consumers.
This post is simply a quick, not comprehensive, list of products we could all boycott (compiled with help from Anindita Bose and Rohit).
And just a reminder – the rapacious Adani corporation is wreaking havoc on Australia’s ecology too, and there is a huge people’s campaign there against Adani – #StopAdani . Continue reading Stand by farmers – boycott Adani and Reliance
A short film on the handloom weavers of Barabanki, UP, by KABIR KIDWAI
Kabir Kidwai is a student and independent film-maker. You can see his other work on his YouTube channel.
Statement Condemning the murder of Gulnaz Khatun and demanding a speedy investigation
We the undersigned feminist groups, activists and individuals are deeply anguished at the killing of a 20-year-old poor Muslim girl, Gulnaz in a village in Bihar‘s Vaishali district. The young girl, an economic support to the family and about to be married was killed after her stalkers poured kerosene oil on her and burnt her alive on 30 October 2020. The girl was admitted in a nearby hospital with 75 percent burns and later moved to Patna Medical College. In her video statement when she was in excruciating pain, she clearly identified the three attackers. She succumbed to her injuries on 15th November 2020. The case has made hardly any progress. There is very limited coverage about the case in electronic Media and print media. According to the reports one accused has been arrested and police is still looking for the other two.. There are also reports that the family of victim is being harassed by the accused. Continue reading Statement condemning the murder of Gulnaz Khatun
Guest post by ABHIK CHIMNI
The Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019 (CAA) is a legislation which along with the National Register of Citizens (NRC) gives rise to a legal regime which is not consistent with the tenets of the Indian Constitution.
The CCA/NRC violates the basic structure of the Indian Constitution, primarily the equality clause and the principle of secularism embedded within the constitutional framework.
I further argue that Fundamental Rights are in fact dissenting rights.
The Indian Constitution – A story in three parts
The Constitution can be broadly divided into three parts.
The first accounts for protection of individual liberty through the fundamental rights chapter stipulated in Part III of the Constitution.
The second seeks to create independent institutions such as the constitutional courts, the Election Commission, the Comptroller Auditor General and the Governor’s office etc.
Continue reading CAA and dissent – the mere passing of a law does not imply democratic consensus: Abhik chimni