Constructing Democratic Rights Activists as Conspirators: Preeti Chauhan

Guest Post by PREETI CHAUHAN

The recent arrest of activists and intellectuals, and raids on various others connected with rights activism across five states in India is a grim reminder of the shrunken space for protest, criticism and dissent in our democracy today. This tendency to muzzle opposing voices has been on brazen display over the past four years though earlier governments had also tried to brand civil rights activists as ‘Maoists’ and as anti-development and anti-progress in a sense. The case against Dr. Binayak Sen, an office bearer of People’s Union for Civil Liberties comes to mind who was also alleged to be a Maoist.

The entire episode raises many questions on the motives of the government for this kind of concerted clampdown on human rights defenders. As of now, the charges against the activists seem far-fetched and entirely fabricated. Most of the activists who are now in jail or under house arrest are long-time members of the civil liberties movement in our country in the post-emergency period. Civil and democratic rights organizations and their activists have faced the charge of being fronts of this and that organization earlier too, and some have been attacked and killed also as in Andhra Pradesh. But what is important to understand is the location of the civil and democratic rights movement vis a vis democracy in India. Continue reading “Constructing Democratic Rights Activists as Conspirators: Preeti Chauhan”

Condemn the conspiracy of Hindutva fascist forces against democratic students’ organizations

Statement by COSTISA

On September 4th, 2018 in an important Bengali newspaper Anandabazar Patrika, it was declared that the Central Intelligence has marked some organizations in West Bengal which reportedly act as a frontal organization of the “Maoists”. In the list of organizations, a constituent organization of COSTISA, Ambedkar Bhagat Singh Study Circle (ABSC) has been named.

This event has to be looked at in connection with the nationwide crackdown on Human Right activists, Professors, lawyers and poet as a drive to “clear” “Urban Naxals”. This kind of sensational news shows that the central government is utterly desperate to curb and silence any voices that are raised against them. ABSC has been active in raising voices against the commercialization and saffronization of education and condemning nationwide brahminical fascist attacks on Dalits, Adivasis, Muslims, and other minorities. The students involved in ABSC have also been an important part of the fee hike movement at 2016 in IIT Kharagpur which compelled the administration for a partial rollback of the semester fees and have stood with all students issues which demanded better democracy and proper student rights in the campus.

With all these facts in mind, the reason behind ABSC becoming an eyesore of the government is clear that they have stood for justice and constitutional rights of our people. The state has been using the tactic of labeling the pro-people organizations in an attempt to mobilize public sentiment against them and other activists. Moreover, the sensation created by these announcements serves the purpose of diverting the people’s attention from the real problems of our nation like unemployment, increasing costs of education, health and livelihood, increasing of attacks on Dalits, Adivasis, and Muslims by the Hindutva fascists, anti-people steps like demonetization and GST etc.

COSTISA condemns this act of which hunting and false sentimentalization by the state. We appeal all the patriotic, democratic, pro-people students and intellectuals to stand and raise your voice against it.

Let us not let our country lose all of the democratic ethos it has!

Coordination of Science and Technology Institutes’ Student Associations (COSTISA)

(www.facebook.com/supportcostisa)

Ambedkar Periyar Study Circle (APSC), IIT Madras

Ambedkar Periyar Phule Study Circle (APPSC), IIT Bombay

Students For Change (SFC), IIT BHU

Students For Change (SFC), IMS BHU

Ambedkar Bhagat Singh Study Circle (ABSC), IIT Kharagpur

Forum For Critical Thinking (FCT), IIT Kanpur

Statement against the police raid on Dr. Satyanarayana’s house

Statement by academics in American universities

We, the undersigned, strongly condemn the raid on Dr. Satyanarayana and Pavana’s official university residence, conducted by the Pune police as part of their recent raids on activists in India.

Dr. Satyanarayana is currently Head of the Department of Cultural Studies and Dean of the School of Interdisciplinary Studies at the English and Foreign Languages University, Hyderabad. He has been instrumental in establishing Dalit Studies as an academic discipline and he has co-edited landmark books on dalit studies and vernacular dalit literatures, including Steel Nibs are Sprouting, No Alphabet in Sight and Dalit Studies. Pavana is a lecturer in Hyderabad and a founding member of the Andhra Pradesh Chaitanya Mahila Samakhya, an organization working for women’s rights. She was also editor of the Telugu feminist magazine Mahila Margam. Dr. Satyanarayana and Pavana are the son-in-law and daughter of poet and activist Varavara Rao, one of five people arrested in the raids.

Continue reading “Statement against the police raid on Dr. Satyanarayana’s house”

Three decades after Ameena, ‘Bride-Bazars’ continue to thrive in Hyderabad: Lovish Garg

Guest Post by LOVISH GARG

Ameena Begum was only ten years old when she was married to a man old enough to be her grandfather. The man- a 60-year-old Arab from Saudi Arabia had come to her house in Hyderabad to see Ameena’s elder sister for marriage but found her to be too ‘ugly and dark.’ He instead expressed desire to marry the young Ameena which the father readily agreed in exchange for a paltry sum of Rs 6,000.  She was later rescued by Amrita Ahluwalia- then an air-hostess with Indian Airlines after she found the young girl crying inconsolably on the Hyderabad-Delhi flight in-route to Saudi Arabia.

This incident put the global spotlight for the first time on the practice of ‘bride-shopping’ in the old city area of Hyderabad where minor Muslim girls from poverty-stricken families are married to older, mostly Arab men for a small sum of money. About three decades after this incident of August 1991- nothing much has changed and the practice of Sheikh marriages continue unabated with estimates suggesting around 2000 of such marriages performed only in the last one year.

The genesis of Sheikh marriages can be traced to the late 19th century when the Nizam of Hyderabad started hiring Chaush Arabs from what is the present-day Yemen. These men served as the military guards and later on high positions in the Nizam’s army and administration. The Arabs also brought with them the ritual of offering gifts and dowry to families who would marry their daughters to them. However, when oil stuck in the Gulf and situation in Hyderabad turned chaotic because of the rising peasant movement and later fall of Nizam- many such Chaush Arabs returned to their homelands.

Continue reading “Three decades after Ameena, ‘Bride-Bazars’ continue to thrive in Hyderabad: Lovish Garg”

This bundle of sticks tied to an axe-ist RSS-BJP regime!

Stylized image of fasces

There is a rumour circulating which is best dispelled as soon as  possible in the interests of factual knowledge (which is rather shy and rarely seen these days. Sometimes you see its shadow slip past, from the corner of your eye). So, no, absolutely not, the word fascism does not come from faeces.

It might as well have, but no. Really it doesn’t. The Vedic goddess vac (she who personifies speech) is not renowned for a sense of humour.

What the word fascism does come from is the aforementioned “bundle of sticks tied to an axe” or fasces,  that the bodyguard of the Roman magistrate carried in ancient Rome, as a symbol of his authority. Then Mussolini came along and resurrected the thing as a reminder  of ancient pride (although, not much pride for the minion carrying the symbol of another’s authority) and unity (sticks tied together are harder to break than sticks on their own).

Hence fascism. Hence the extreme allergy to being called fascist among Sanghis and the BJP because, really – Italy? Italy as the source of a name for their government? How fair is that, mitron? Continue reading “This bundle of sticks tied to an axe-ist RSS-BJP regime!”

Statement against police action on Prof. Anand Teltumbde and others – Students, Faculty and Alumni of IIT Kharagpur

Image courtesy Scroll.in

We, the undersigned students, faculty and others from IIT Kharagpur are shocked with the treatment that the police forces have meted out to our ex-colleague, Prof. Anand Teltumbde and other intellectuals. His residence in Goa, where he is working as a Senior Professor and Chair, Big Data Analytics at Goa Institute of Management (GIM), was intruded by the police forces without permission in his absence. This police action was part of the large scale raids and arrests of eminent scholars, intellectuals and lawyers across the country on Tuesday.
Continue reading “Statement against police action on Prof. Anand Teltumbde and others – Students, Faculty and Alumni of IIT Kharagpur”

Performing the goddess: Chapal Bhaduri and Naveen Kishore

Film on Chapal Bhaduri by Naveen Kishore.
Conversation with Chapal Bhaduri transcribed and translated by Naveen Kishore.

Chapal Rani.

I can no longer hear. The whispering autumn leaves.

Everything touches me. Nothing. Touches. 

I am no longer as beautiful as I used to be, he says with a twinkle that went back to the sixties and sparked memories in my head of this once and ever beautiful woman-man. Chapal Rani. The reigning queen in those days of our youngnesseses. A woman we-of-the-theatre grew up adoring. The Adoration of the Chapal Rani. In the days of a purer Jatra the travelling theatre of Bengal when men played women. Wounding the hearts of an enthralled audience in performances that lasted an entire night. Sheer stamina. Coupled with a monumental style of acting with every gesture exaggerated to live music and declamatory dialogue. Voices that boomed and thundered and whispered and cried tears that would overflow and flood the hearts of a riveted audience of men women children. 

Continue reading “Performing the goddess: Chapal Bhaduri and Naveen Kishore”