Category Archives: Bad ideas

A history of conservative strike on books

Even in a future in which books are outlawed, ideas cannot be vanquished.

Nazi's Boook burning

“You may burn my books and the books of the best minds in Europe, but the ideas those books contain have passed through millions of channels and will go on,” wrote Helen Keller, in An Open Letter to German Students in 1933. Keller’s How I Became a Socialist was on the list of books to be burned. “History has taught you nothing if you think you can kill ideas. Tyrants have tried to do that often before, and the ideas have risen up in their might and destroyed them,” she wrote.

Today you cannot perhaps have campaigns like Nazi’s book burnings, nor can books disappear off the shelves as they did in the United States during the McCarthy era. Yet the powers that be have thought of ingenious ways to stop people from reading books.

A recent order by the department of education in Britain needs to be seen in this context. It has ordered schools in England to stop accepting funds from groups or organisations which have expressed the desire to end capitalism. Anti-capitalism is seen by the department as an “extreme political stance”, similar to opposing freedom of speech, anti-Semitism and endorsing illegal activities.

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Over 10,000 Feminist groups and individuals condemn gangrape and murder of dalit woman in hathras

Received via SAHELI WOMEN’S RESOURCE CENTRE

We condemn the horrific rape and murder of a young Dalit woman from Hathras, UP.

We stand with the family in their sorrow. Extend support, solidarity and rage.

We demand immediate action against the state officials responsible for mishandling the case, destroying key evidence, and further traumatising the family and community.

SHAME ON THE STATE THAT STANDS WITH THE GUILTY.
SHAME ON THE STATE THAT INCREASES THE IMPUNITY WITH WHICH UPPER CASTE FORCES COMMIT VIOLENCE AND HATE CRIMES.

Today, over 10,000 people from all walks of life, cutting across caste, religion, gender, occupation and community came together from almost every state in India and more than a dozen countries across the world such US, UK, Canada, Australia, UAE, Hong Kong, Japan, Nepal, Netherlands, Sweden, Slovenia etc to demand justice for the heinous rape, brutalising attack and murder of a young Dalit woman from Hathras.

In a sharp statement condemning the incident, they got together to say thatdespite a continuing saga of countless other cases of brutal sexual assault and murders especially of young Dalit women the conscience of this nation does not seem to be shaken enough to do anything serious to stop the systematic targeting of women, Dalits and the poor.

While there is a historicity to these incidents, but under CM Yogi’s rule, Uttar Pradesh has only gone from bad to worse. Crimes against women and Dalits have increased, and police have been given unlimited powers without any accountability. Today UP tops the charts for atrocities against Dalits, it also tops the charts for crimes against women.

Continue reading Over 10,000 Feminist groups and individuals condemn gangrape and murder of dalit woman in hathras

बेटी बचाओ का नारा देने वाले बलात्कारियों को बचाने में लगे हैं – यौन हिंसा और राजकीय दमन के खिलाफ महिलाएँ

Statement by WOMEN AGAINST SEXUAL VIOLENCE AND STATE REPRESSION on Hathras and other cases in UP

यौन हिंसा और राजकीय दमन के खिलाफ महिलाएँ (WSS)  उत्तर प्रदेश में महिलाओं पर बढ़ रही यौन हिंसा पर चिंता व्यक्त करती है। पिछले दिनों हाथरस और बलरामपुर में दलित लड़कियों के साथ हुए बलात्कार और हाथरस के पूरे मामले में उत्तर प्रदेश पुलिस और प्रशासन की लापरवाही और बलात्कारियों को फायदा पहुंचाने वाली कार्यवाही, जिसमें रातों रात पीड़िता के शव को जलाना भी शामिल है, की कड़े शब्दों में निंदा करते करते हैं। 

हाथरस के जघन्य बलात्कार और हत्या की घटना पर रोष व्यक्त करते हुए WSS का कहना है कि उत्तर प्रदेश में महिलाओं और उसमे भी दलित समुदाय की महिला की कोई सुनवाई नहीं है।

Continue reading बेटी बचाओ का नारा देने वाले बलात्कारियों को बचाने में लगे हैं – यौन हिंसा और राजकीय दमन के खिलाफ महिलाएँ

NEP 2020 – elitist and corporatized education under Hindu Rashtra

This study of the National Education Policy 2020, apart from my own  analysis, draws on extensive commentary on the final document and its earlier drafts, by education policy experts and teachers, including my own union,  JNU Teachers’ Association, which undertook a detailed critique of the Draft NEP 2019.  This needs to be said because neither educationists nor academics were consulted in the process of making the initial policy, nor were states, despite the fact that education is a concurrent subject. We begin therefore with the procedure of finalizing the NEP 2020.

Faulty procedures of formulating and finalizing the policy

No consultative process

All previous education policies have undergone massive consultation processes, as Niraja Gopal Jayal outlines, but not this one. At the press conference announcing the policy, Gopal Jayal points out, it was claimed that an “unprecedented collaborative, inclusive, and highly participatory consultation process” was conducted, but it is clear from the single slide that was shown, that states were not consulted at all.

Continue reading NEP 2020 – elitist and corporatized education under Hindu Rashtra

Has Indian democracy been facebooked ?

Those who disagreed that the internet would challenge dictatorships have been proven right.

facebook India

Belarus-born American writer Evgeny Morozov, a scholar of the political and social implications of technology, is among the early technology sceptics whose words have now proved prescient. Morozov had questioned the claim that the internet would challenge dictatorships even at an inconvenient time to do so. While thousands were out on streets during the Arab Spring, he delivered a Ted Talk on How Internet Aids Dictatorships. Considering that the Arab Spring protests had been organised and coordinated through social media, it quite a brave, even blasphemous, thing to do in those days.

Morozov’s 2011 book, The Net Delusion: The Dark Side of Internet Freedom, focuses on two delusions, namely, “cyber-utopianism” or the belief that the internet fosters an inherently emancipatory culture; and “internet-centrism” or the belief that every important question about modern society and politics can be framed in terms of the internet. His views were considered eccentric for the mood around the net was celebratory at the time. To cite another instance, the noted journal, MIT Technology Review, wrote in 2013 that new technologies would prove “deadly to dictators”. 

( Read the full text here)

The ‘Ecopolitical’ Imperative and the Janta Parliament

 

Janta Parliament, Environment session – courtesy Let India Breathe

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, goes an old Chinese saying.  In the present context, that single step – and an absolutely essential step – for reclaiming the soul of India, is the coimng together of the social movements, non-party groups and the political parties – and this was accomplished in the six-day Janta Parliament held from 16-21 August as an online event. Organized by Jan Sarokar – a forum of 31 organizations and loose platforms ranging from Left aligned women’s organizations, National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM), National Campaign for Dalit Human Rights (NCDHR) and National Campaign for People’s Right to Information, to loose networks like Not In My Name – the people’s parliament managed to bring together many political parties together as well in the event. As a kind of base paper, Jan Sarokar had prepared a comprehensive 75-page document entitled ‘People’s Policy for Post-COVID 19 Times‘ covering important and urgent policy initiatives on practically every aspect of economic and social life. Attended by representatives of the Congress, the Left parties, the RJD and AAP among others, the people’s parliament session ended with the representatives of the parties present affirming support to the perspectives emerging out the resolutions adopted, which they felt could form the basis for a Common Minimum Programme not only for the political parties but also between parties and social / people’s movements. Continue reading The ‘Ecopolitical’ Imperative and the Janta Parliament

घेरेबन्दी में पड़े देश और खेल के नये नियमों के बीच हम क्‍या कर सकते हैं?

घेरेबन्दी में पड़े अपने शहर के हालात को लेकर अपने जमाने का शायर कैसी प्रतिक्रिया देता है? अचानक इस बारे में कुछ कहना मुश्किल जान पड़ सकता है, अलबत्ता एक तरीका है फिलिस्तीन के महान कवि महमूद दरवेश के नक्शेकदम पर चलना, जिनकी लम्बी कविता ‘मेमरी फॉर फरगेटफुलनेस’ अर्थात ‘भुलक्कड़पन/स्‍मृतिलोप के लिए स्‍मृति’ वर्ष 1982 में लेबनान पर हुए इजरायली आक्रमण का चित्र खींचती है।

लेबनान की राजधानी बेरूत जहां वह रह रहे थे, बमबारी का शिकार हो रही थी। वे लिखते हैं, ‘‘बेरूत, इज़रायली टैंकों से और आधिकारिक अरबपस्ती से घिरा हुआ’, वह बेरूत ‘अन्दर से अपने आप को थामे हुए था ताकि ‘अरब उम्मीद की राजधानी के उसके मायने की चमक की हिफाज़त की जा सके।’ किताब में दरवेश फैज़ अहमद फैज़ के साथ अपना सम्वाद शुरू करते हैं, जो उन दिनों बेरूत में ही थे।

कलाकार कहां हैं?
कौन कलाकार, फैज़, मैं पूछता हूं
बेरूत के कलाकार
तुम उनसे चाहते क्या हो?
यही कि शहर की दीवारों पर युद्ध को उकेरना
तुम्हें क्या हो गया है फैज़, मैं ताज्जुब प्रकट करता हूं। क्या तुम देख नहीं रहे हो दीवारें ही गिर रही हैं?

यह कविताएं लेखन (स्‍मृति से इतिहास, स्‍मृतिलोप, भुलक्कड़पन) के बीच एक रिश्ता कायम करती हैं। घेरेबन्दी के मध्य यह दृढ़ता, अटलता की यात्रा है। Continue reading घेरेबन्दी में पड़े देश और खेल के नये नियमों के बीच हम क्‍या कर सकते हैं?

साझा बयान : बुद्धिजीवियों-मानवाधिकारकर्मियों को फ़र्ज़ी आरोपों के तहत फंसाये जाने के विरोध में 

जन संस्कृति मंच, प्रगतिशील लेखक संघ, दलित लेखक संघ, प्रतिरोध का सिनेमा, इप्टा, संगवारी,  न्यू सोशलिस्ट इनिशिएटिव और जनवादी लेखक संघ ने प्रशांत भूषण को अदालत की अवमानना का दोषी क़रार दिए जाने तथा भीमा-कोरेगाँव और दिल्ली दंगों के मामलों में बुद्धिजीवियों-मानवाधिकारकर्मियों को फ़र्ज़ी आरोपों के तहत फंसाये जाने के विरोध में यह साझा बयान जारी किया :

भारतीय लोकतंत्र का संकट लगातार गहराता जा रहा है. अभिव्यक्ति की आज़ादी और वाजिब माँगों के लिए चलने वाले संघर्ष का जैसा दमन मौजूदा निज़ाम में हो रहा है, उसकी मिसाल आज़ाद भारत के इतिहास में ढूँढे नहीं मिलेगी. सबसे ताज़ा उदाहरण स्वाधीनता दिवस की पूर्व संध्या पर सर्वोच्च न्यायालय द्वारा प्रशांत भूषण को अदालत की अवमानना का दोषी ठहराया जाना है. यह विचारणीय है कि फ़ैसले में उन्हें भारतीय लोकतंत्र के जिस “महत्त्वपूर्ण स्तम्भ की बुनियाद को अस्थिर” करने के प्रयास का दोषी पाया गया है, उसकी अस्थिरता के मायने क्या हैं और उसके वास्तविक कारक कौन-से हैं/हो सकते हैं! पर यह जितना भी विचारणीय हो, सवाल है कि क्या आप विचार कर भी सकते हैं? इस तरह के विचार-विमर्श की गुंजाइश/स्वतंत्रता/अधिकार को बहुत क्षीण किया जा चुका है और ऐसा जान पड़ता है कि जिनके ऊपर ‘रीज़नेबल रेस्ट्रिक्शन्स’ के दायरे में अभिव्यक्ति की आज़ादी को सुनिश्चित करने का दारोमदार है, वे खुद आगे बढ़कर उस आज़ादी का दमन कर रहे हैं. पिछले कुछ समय में दो घटनाओं को बहाना बनाकर सामाजिक-राजनैतिक कार्यकर्त्ताओं, मानवाधिकार-कर्मियों और लेखकों-बुद्धिजीवियों की गिरफ़्तारी, या तफ़्तीश के नाम पर उत्पीड़न के सिलसिले ने जो गति पकड़ी है, वह बेहद चिंताजनक है. भीमा-कोरेगाँव मामले और उत्तर-पूर्वी दिल्ली के दंगों के असली अपराधी बेख़ौफ़ घूम रहे हैं जबकि इन्हीं मामलों में फ़र्जी तरीक़े से बड़ी संख्या में सामाजिक कार्यकर्त्ताओं और बुद्धिजीवियों को गिरफ़्तार किया जा चुका है. केंद्र के मातहत काम करने वाली राष्ट्रीय जाँच एजेंसी (एनआईए) और दिल्ली पुलिस इन मामलों में पूरी बेशर्मी से अपनी पक्षधर भूमिका निभा रही हैं. ऐसा लगता है कि नियंत्रण एवं संतुलन के सारे लोकतांत्रिक सरंजाम ध्वस्त हो चुके हैं. Continue reading साझा बयान : बुद्धिजीवियों-मानवाधिकारकर्मियों को फ़र्ज़ी आरोपों के तहत फंसाये जाने के विरोध में 

Intimations of a Bahujan Counter-Tradition and the Hindu Right

This post should be read as a sequel to my earlier post of 16 July, which had discussed the discourse of “Hindu Unity” and questions  before the struggle against the Right. That post had ended with the claim that the struggle against the Hindu Right is not so much about what we understand as “secularism” as it is about the reconstruction of a larger  Bahujan counter-tradition, the search for which was  already on.

Cover of book Mahishasur – Mithak va Paramaprayen [Myths and Traditions],ed. Pramod Ranjan
I should begin with a caveat, or more correctly, an amendment to a position I adopted in the earlier post. In that piece, I had used the terms “anti-majoritarian” discourse and “anti-majoritarianism” to refer to the the larger discursive formation against the Hindu Right. I used that expression largely because I went along part of the way with Abhay Dubey who uses it in his book, to which that piece was a response. However, that expression assumes that there is only one “majority”  or only one way of imagining majority in this country. More importantly, it concedes a certain “natural pre-givenness” to the project of Hindu unity as though that were a self-evident fact. The only thing that makes the project of Hindu unity appear so “natural”, it needs to be underlined, is that it is backed by “tradition” and “religion” in a way that say a class notion of majority is not. If we assume that the dominant tradition is the sole tradition, then this term could make sense but as the  stirrings of a renewed search for a Bahujan counter-tradition, especially in North India, come into view, it gives us a sense of another possible way of imagining “majority”.  It should be underlined here that this renewed search today does not emerge out of the blue from nowhere but draws on the work of earlier medieval thinkers and social/ religious reformers not just in the North (for instance Kabir, Ravi Das and Nanak) but also from Phule, Ayyankali, Sri Narayana Guru, Periyar, Iyothee Thass and many others in the South in more recent times. There is one difference however: rather than use the negative descriptor “Non-Brahmin”, the present search is more explicitly about the production of a Bahujan identity. Ambedkar of course, remains a continuous reference point in this discourse.

Continue reading Intimations of a Bahujan Counter-Tradition and the Hindu Right

Once Upon a Time There Was a Campus (and Why it is Still There) – A Fable: Hammersickle Rubberchappal

Guest post by HAMMERSICKLE RUBBERCHAPPAL

From the very title you can tell that it is a story with a happy end. It is also a true story.

Image courtesy Kevin Clancy Studio

Once upon a time there was a campus. In a slightly shabby postcolonial country. When they became post-colonial, they decided they needed somewhere to send their bright minds, so they could think, read, and learn to write. And since they were dusting themselves off after they had booted the colonisers out, they also knew that most people in that shabby country had nowhere they could send their kids to learn and grow because everyone lived in all kinds of faraway parts of the country, had no money, and had very difficult lives. Some enthusiastic, farsighted, and sensible people in their parliament decided to make this possible. They made the laws, they found the space, barren and brown, in a hot part of a sprawling northern town. Then they got the best minds from everywhere, to teach and to learn, so that together they could do their best to make everyone a citizen of a slightly less shabby postcolonial country.

For half a century, this campus flourished. It became green from brown, it had slightly rickety places for everyone to live in. There were many small and big places you could go for a hot meal. Yes, it cost the government some money, but not that much. There are people who say very tall buildings are phallic symbols. Interestingly though, the tallest building on the campus was the library. Slowly, the busy people on this campus took on the responsibility for how the shabby postcolonial country would think. Not everyone was happy, but all these people were so sincere and so committed and so good, that no one could really say they were wrong. They learned languages from all over so they could speak with the world, they learned about the past in history, about the present in sciences that were very talkative and social, and thought hopeful and sciencey thoughts about the future. Even the walls danced with poetry, purpose, and an abandon of colour.

Then came those years of frightening and radically evil people who began to take over entire countries. Not that this was entirely new, it had happened before. How that could happen again is being investigated to this day, but is dark matter for another story. And then this shabby postcolonial country fell to the same fate. Continue reading Once Upon a Time There Was a Campus (and Why it is Still There) – A Fable: Hammersickle Rubberchappal

Statement on the Arrest of a Survivor of Sexual Assault in Araria, Bihar: Ambedkar University Delhi Faculty Association

15.7.2020

Ambedkar University Delhi Faculty Association (AUDFA is alarmed to hear of and strongly condemns the arrest of a survivor of gang rape along with two social workers (including former AUD student Tanmay Nivedita), at the office of the Judicial Magistrate (1st Class) in Araria, Bihar on 10 July 2020. The arrest was ordered during the course of recording of the survivors’ statement under section 164 CrPC in relation to a case of gang rape which took place just days earlier, on 6 July 2020.

It is further disturbing that the hon’ble court appears to have registered offence at the fact that the survivor sought the presence and support of two social workers prior to actually signing her statement under section 164 CrPC in the said case. The right of a survivor of sexual assault/rape to the presence of caregivers for psychological support is well established and is specifically noted in the Justice Verma Committee Report (2013, Appendix 8). Instead of recognising the right of the survivor to psychological support, the Judicial Magistrate, Araria District, thought it fit to order the arrest of the survivor and the two social workers under sections of the IPC, including 353 and 228, on grounds of “obstructing the work of public servants”.

The absence of sensitivity in dealing with cases of sexual assault, and the unfortunate use of power to discipline a survivor of gang rape for seeking psychological and social support at a time of deep trauma, lays bare the deeply worrisome reality of the functioning of the criminal justice system that survivors of sexual assault face on a regular basis. AUDFA unequivocally condemns these arrests and stands in solidarity with the arrested persons.

तुर्की – गैर धर्मनिरपेक्ष रास्ते पर : मुशर्रफ अली

Guest Post by Musharraf AliThe Hagia Sophia Court Judgment — What Lies Beneath?  

क़ुव्वत ऐ फ़िकरो अमल पहले फ़ना होता है
फिर किसी क़ौम की शौकत पे ज़वाल आता है

 

(किसी क़ौम के दबदबे या रौब में तब गिरावट आती है, जब उसकी सोचने-विचारने की ताक़त खत्म हो जाती है)

8 जुलाई 2020 को तुर्की के राष्ट्रपति तय्यप इरदुगान ने चर्च से मस्जिद फिर मस्जिद से म्यूजियम बना दी गयी ऐतिहासिक इमारत हय्या सोफ़िया को फिर से मस्जिद बनाने की घोषणा की इसके बाद 10 जुलाई को वहां के सुप्रीम कोर्ट ने इरदुगान के फैसले के पक्ष में फैसला दिया। इस घटना के बाद दुनिया भर के मुसलमानों में खुशी की लहर दौड़ गयी और पस्ती में डूबी हुई क़ौम को एक विजय का अहसास हुआ। इस घटना के बाद मैं इंटरनेट पर मुसलमानों की प्रतिक्रिया का अध्ययन करता रहा था। मैं इस तलाश में था कि इस घटना के विरोध में इसकी मज़्ज़मत में मुस्लिमो की तरफ़ से कोई तो आवाज़ सुनाई देगी लेकिन जहां तक इंटरनेट पर मैं ढूंढ पाया एक भी आवाज़ विरोध की नही मिल पायी जबकि समर्थन करती और खुशियां मनाती पोस्टें भरी पड़ी थी। मेरी नज़र में यह घटना वैसी ही है जैसी बाबरी मस्जिद ढहने की है और वहां के सुप्रीम कोर्ट का फैसला भी वैसा ही है जैसा नवम्बर 2019 में भारत के सुप्रीम कोर्ट ने बाबरी मस्जिद के संबंध में सुनाया। तुर्की में हय्या सोफिया को ढहाया नही गया लेकिन सांकेतिक रूप से माने तो यह ढहाने जैसा ही क़दम है। बाबरी मस्जिद, मंदिर तोड़कर बनाई गई अभी यह बात विवादित बनी हुई है लेकिन हय्या सोफिया 1453 से पहले चर्च था यह ऐतिहासिक रूप से प्रमाणित है। जब मुस्तफा कमाल अतातुर्क ने मस्जिद बना दिये गए चर्च को म्यूजियम में 1934 में बदला तब विवाद को समाप्त करने का उनका बहुत ही समझदारी भरा क़दम था मगर तुर्की राष्ट्रपति तय्यप इरदुगान ने कमाल अतातुर्क के सारे किये कराए पर अपने निजी स्वार्थ में पानी फेर दिया और दुनिया भर में मुसलमानों की जो खराब छवि बना दी गयी है उसको और खराब कर दिया। उनके इस काम से मुसलमानों की जो बुनियादी समस्याये हैं वो हल होने की जगह और बढ़ गईं। Continue reading तुर्की – गैर धर्मनिरपेक्ष रास्ते पर : मुशर्रफ अली

Break the Chain, Break the (Unconventional) Family?

My earlier posts on the Kerala Left’s inability to forge an adequate and democratizing response to the ‘societal emergencies’ that have challenged Malayali society in the 21st century, and on the completely-unjustified attack on the body artist Rehana Fathima seem to have irritated, even angered, many supporters of the CPM on Facebook.

These people are not youngsters, a detail that is really important. Indeed, they largely belong to the upper-middle-class professional elite, indeed, perhaps among the best-off sections of Malayali society, which include medical professionals, male and female. Their responses reveal very interesting details about how the pandemic shapes our understanding of ‘useful expertise’:  at this moment, we are told, just listen to medical professionals, and not just their views on issues pertaining to health, but also to ‘social health’.  Many of these professionals believe that the brazen violence unleashed against Rehana Fathima’s family — her mother-in-law has been denied free dialysis simply because she is Rehana Fathima’s mother-in-law, and BSNL has ordered the eviction of the family on completely ridiculous grounds – is a minor diversion, an irritating, trivial one, compared to the task of controlling the pandemic on the ground, which of course, brings the medical professional (even when he/she works in Kerala’s private hospitals, which are surely not the epitome of altruism) to the centre of public discourse as the ‘hero’ that everyone should be eternally grateful to. And if such heroes tell you that Rehana Fathima is just a child-abusing publicity-seeker, then you have to just say yes. And, as as the artist Radha Gomathy put it, participate in the Break-the-Chain-and-Break-the-Family campaign — or punish Rehana’s supportive family for not being freakishly conservative, like good Malayali families.

Bolstering their claim to be the only ‘real experts’ to talk about Malayali society at the moment is their implicit understanding that medical professionals are somehow more ‘scientific’ than others. Yet I was amazed — indeed, alarmed — by the carelessness with which they dealt with empirical information and their easy abandonment of logic.  The tendency to equate technical training with scientific is very strong in these Facebook debates, as also the idea that social science and history are some airy-fairy romance that lacks scientific basis.

I am mentioning these features not to put these people down — and I am also aware of, and grateful to, many other medical professionals who expressed unease at these acts of hubris. I wish only to flag what seems to me an emerging axis of power in post-pandemic Kerala. A form in which the state’s apparatus of biopower is projected insistently as the sole benevolent source of human sustenance that must engage us constantly; it is not that critical discourse should be abolished, but it must focus, and gently, on this pre-given object. In it, the biological body is the object on which the state builds its new protectionism; the only kind of body it is bound to protect. The ‘new expert’ wields power on it, and their technical interventions will henceforth be recognized as ‘scientific’  — and the significance of the gap between the two will be ignored. The suspension of neoliberal logic during the pandemic has indeed allowed the Left to behave, even think, like the left — this emerging protectionism seems to be actually riding on it.

It is not surprising at all then that for some of these experts, those of us who contested the purportedly ‘scientific claim’ that Rehana’s children will be necessarily harmed psychologically by the sight of their mother’s exposed torso, or the equally-shaky idea that they necessarily lack the psychological strength the resist the taunts of society, seem dangerous to society.  Rehana’s use of the body is aimed at the long-term; it signals the possibility of seeing the body as the site of aesthetic play and creativity; its androgynous appearance and breaking of stereotypes about the maternal body make it defy gendered classification (so necessary for the state). Her husband deserves punishment because he had abandoned the role of Reformer-Husband so central to the twentieth-century reformist discourse. Our experts’ ‘scientific temperaments’ do not allow them to perceive the fact that the Reformer-Husband carried the burden of ushering his wife into (a gendered) modernity, while in twenty-first century Kerala, women no longer need such ushering — there is data that shows that more women than men complete their education and enter higher education; that they outperform men in most examinations and have entered most modern professions; that in marriages, the bride is now likely to be more educated than the groom. The family needs to be punished as a whole for allowing such explorations of the body.

I still repose faith in the democratizing possibilities that this window of time gives us, but that does not make me blind to this wilful shutting out of the long-term and the agency of citizens. It is as if future society may be imagined by citizens only with or after the state. The state sees a vague and uncertain future, and therefore all citizens should, therefore, limit themselves to the immediate and present. Nothing should be allowed to disrupt the Left’s hegemony-building through pandemic-control exercises. Even if that requires that we turn a blind eye to the fact that the refurbishing of this hegemony may not be antithetical to the further entrenchment of biopower and the reign of these new experts.

 

मनु को इतिहास तक सीमित करने का सवाल बनाम मनुस्मृति को ‘सैनिटाइज़’ करने के षडयंत्र

कितने लोगों ने डॉ. अम्बेडकर की अगुवाई में छेड़े गए पहले ‘दलित विद्रोह’ अर्थात महाड़ सत्याग्रह (1927) के बारे में पढ़ा होगा और यह जाना होगा कि किस तरह उसके पहले चरण में (19-20 मार्च) को महाड़ नामक जगह पर स्थित चवदार तालाब पर हजारों की तादाद में लोग पहुंचे थे और उन्होंने वहां पानी पीया था। जानवरों को भी जिस तालाब पर पानी पीने से रोका नहीं जाता था, उस तालाब पर दलितों को मनाही थी और इसी मनाही के खिलाफ इस सत्याग्रह ने बग़ावत का बिगुल फूंका था।

सत्याग्रह के दूसरे चरण में (25 दिसम्बर 1927) में उसी महाड में डॉ. अम्बेडकर ने मनुस्म्रति का दहन किया था और उनकी इस कार्रवाई की तुलना फ्रेंच इन्कलाब (1789) से की थी। इस दहन के पहले जिस प्रस्ताव को गंगाधर सहस्त्रबुद्धे नामक डॉ. अम्बेडकर के सहयोगी ने पढ़ा था- जो खुद पुरोहित जाति से सम्बद्ध थे, उसके शब्द इस प्रकार थे: “यह सम्मेलन इस मत का मजबूत हिमायती है कि मनुस्‍मृति, अगर हम उसके उन तमाम श्लोकों को देखें जिन्होंने शूद्र जाति को कम करके आंका है, उनकी प्रगति को अवरुद्ध किया है, और उनकी सामाजिक, राजनीतिक और आर्थिक गुलामी को स्थायी बनाया है… ऐसी किताब नहीं है जो एक धार्मिक या पवित्र किताब समझी जाए। और इस राय को अभिव्यक्ति प्रदान करने के लिए, यह सम्मेलन ऐसी धार्मिक किताब के दहन की कार्रवाई को अंजाम दे रहा है जो लोगों का विभाजन करती है और इन्सानियत को तबाह करने वाली है।“ ( Page 351, Mahad The Making of the First Dalit Revolt, Anand Teltumbde, Navayana, 2017) Continue reading मनु को इतिहास तक सीमित करने का सवाल बनाम मनुस्मृति को ‘सैनिटाइज़’ करने के षडयंत्र

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