Category Archives: Bad ideas

Kerala: People’s Planning Once Again, Please

For Kerala, the new millennium has been the century of development emergencies. The effects of climate change and rapid urbanization and globalization have had rapid and drastic visible state-wide impact on people’s lives here, much of which in the form of development emergencies like epidemics, devastating floods, landslides, and now, the pandemic (and if the worst health predictions for monsoon come true, the syndemic). In other words, the new millennium seems to be setting a host of challenges for Kerala’s  welfarism, which we seem to be meeting well for the time being at least. Continue reading Kerala: People’s Planning Once Again, Please

E-commerce platforms: Corona Warriors or Disaster Capitalists?

This is a Guest Post by ANITA GURUMURTHY and NANDINI CHAMY

 

In 2007, in her book, ‘Shock Doctrine’, Naomi Klein argued that history is a chronicle of “shocks” – the shocks of wars, natural disasters, and economic crises, but more importantly, of their aftermath characterised by disaster capitalism, calculated, free-market “solutions” to crises that exploit and exacerbate existing inequalities. This is why Big-Tech-to-the-rescue in times of the virus does not strike the right chord. It started with the lockdown order issued by the central government on March 24 with the exemption for essential services and supplies getting extended to delivery of foods, pharma products and medical equipment through e-commerce channels. The upper classes had to be assured that their means of shopping would not be affected. Notably, the order issued no such explicit exemption on the movement of foodgrains through Food Corporation of India channels, integral to the Public Distribution System. The lockdown order was a candid admission that e-commerce companies have now become infrastructural utilities indispensable to India’s aspirational middle class.

Continue reading E-commerce platforms: Corona Warriors or Disaster Capitalists?

Balm in Troubling times – Raghavan Thirumulpad on Srinarayana Dharma

[The lockdown ought to work as a great leveler. For once, all who live in mortal bodies have been reminded of their inevitable mortality, of the absurd fragility of our existence on this planet. Even the living-gods who command a huge following have shut darshan. We have also been reminded that life on earth will not grind to a standstill if we go. Indeed, the signs are that it will thrive. 

But at the ground level, that is not happening. The better-off can see how, starkly, like never before, the privileges they enjoy, and given as they are to an amoral worship of consumption which inhibits their capacity for compassion, are more likely to shield this by resorting to any kind of ideology that justifies their privilege, probably eugenics or some kind of functionalist interpretation of caste oppressive practices. We are seeing how the poor are suffering for no fault of theirs at all. Indeed, the lockdown may help to normalize privilege even more, and render us all the more insensitive to the suffering of the working class poor. One reason why this happens is because we are already, as a society, afflicted by moral viruses — of religious bigotry, caste privilege, and ruthless capitalism. As a society, we are sick, and the pandemic is likely to exacerbate it

It must be this connection that made me turn to the work of Raghavan Thirumulpad, who was one of Kerala’s finest ayurvedic physicians, a multi-lingual scholar whose conception of individual and human wellness was inextricably related to the wellness of society and the natural world. I have long admired the ease with which he moved between theory and practice in ayurveda; but what really connected us as privileged-caste-born people who sought to become human  was that we found in Sreenarayana Guru a common refuge. For Thirumulpad, the Guru is not just a social reformer or preacher but a healer — a healer of society and individual, who drew upon Indian traditions to reinterpret a dharma adequate to the disease that afflicted society in his times.

Continue reading Balm in Troubling times – Raghavan Thirumulpad on Srinarayana Dharma

Not Just Doreswamy, India’s Idea of Independence is Being Debased

Trivialisation of the freedom struggle is in the Hindutva gene, which seeks a theocracy, not an independent republic.

Doreswamy

“Though this be madness yet there is method in it.”

Hamlet, William Shakespeare.

The saffron brigade’s ever-readiness to stigmatise people holding differing opinions and dissenting voices reached a new low recently.

Perhaps it was the saddest day in post-independence India when a Karnataka BJP legislator hurled abuses of being a ‘Pak agent’ and ‘fake freedom-fighter at 102-year-old freedom fighter, H Doreswamy.

Sadly, not many outside the state would know that Harohalli Srinivasaiah Doreswamy, born on 10 April 1918 in the former princely state of Mysore, was first jailed in 1942 during the Quit India movement. He was associated with a group involved in making bombs and spent 14 months behind bars. After his release he continued with his mission and following Independence chose to work with slum-dwellers, the homeless and poor landless farmers, cobblers and porters. He kept himself aloof from holding political power.

In 1975, he challenged then prime minister Indira Gandhi when Emergency was declared, civil liberties were suspended and again faced jail under the draconian Defence of India Regulations Act. Despite old age, his enthusiasm for public causes remains undiminished. One issue closest to his heart remains getting the poor and the landless right to land.

Of late, he has been a prominent figure at protests against the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and has been openly critical of the BJP-led central government’s policies.

The BJP legislator under question is Basangouda Patil Yatnal. When the issue was raised in the Karnataka Assembly, forget issuing an unconditional apology, Yatnal remained adamant. Not just that. He got the support of many of his colleagues. It would be asking too much for the government to take action; a reprimand or case against the legislator for his comments, though they violate the Constitution which considers disrespect to freedom movement a “violation of our fundamental duties”.

( Read the full article here : https://www.newsclick.in/Not-Just-Doreswamy-India-Idea-of-Independence-is-Being-Debased)

Imagining an Antifascist Coalition Today

 

The debate on the meaning of AAP’s victory in Delhi and the Hindu idiom that its spokespersons have adopted continues as indeed on the implications of its refusal to play the electoral game in the way the BJP was intent on setting it up. But to keep our perspective right, we need to remember that this was just one stop on the long and arduous journey that still lies ahead. We also need to remember that AAP is only one of the forces and Delhi only one of the theatres of the anti-fascist struggle.

The lessons of the antifascist struggles in Germany or in Europe at large clearly are of no use in our battles here. At one level, we are all destined to repeat the grievous mistakes of the German communists (and the Comintern) for concentrating their main blow at the Social-Democrats, pronouncing them ‘social-fascists’ – till it was pretty late in the day and Nazism was already on the way to consolidating its power. In states other than Delhi, there are instances where this mindset can be seen to be in full operation. In Delhi, thankfully, this is not the scenario and most non-BJP political parties assess the situation differently, though an entirely negative stance towards AAP’s victory can be seen among many people. However, I do not intend to engage them in a debate in this post, having already stated my position on AAP’s victory quite categorically. Continue reading Imagining an Antifascist Coalition Today