Despite the controversies of demonetization, the central government has again succeeded in deftly hijacking the minds of Indian citizens through a riveting speech made by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley. The budget seemed to be especially important given third quarter statistics which are filled with drawbacks of the demonetization policy. Thus we had a budget speech completely focused on digitalization of a country where the ‘digital divide’ stubbornly persists. As the budget theme (Transform, Energize, and Clean) attempted to glorify existing conditions, there were unsurprisingly no transformations in the overall economic framework except the expected tax reduction. In the zeal for “energizing”, the budget had clean forgotten the needs of the informal sector including agricultural sector. Even though the government provocatively claimed that it had cleaned up black money, it revealed no data regarding the amount of black money actually mopped up from the market.
For the second successive day, goons affiliated to the RSS-BJP backed right wing student mafia gang called ABVP (Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad) pelted stones and violently attacked peaceful assemblies of students and teachers in Delhi University. Journalists who were present were also beaten up. Phones and cameras and filming equipment were destroyed. An attempt was made to strangle a professor with his own scarf. He, and some other students who were injured had to be hospitalized. Luckily, they are shaken, but out of immediate danger. The incidents have been characterized as ‘clashes’ between right wing and left wing student groups by some sections of the media. Nothing can be further from the truth. These were not ‘clashes’. They were straight-forward one sided attacks by a mob intent on violence. A riot is not a clash. Continue reading “ABVP Riots in Delhi University with Police Protection”
Story, Video and Photographs: PIYUSH NAGPAL AND DEBALIN ROY.
As is well known by now, a seminar organised by the English literary society of Ramjas College, Delhi University titled “Cultures of Protest” on Tuesday the 21st of February was disrupted by a huge mob of ABVP students. They threw stones/bricks into the seminar hall, shattering windows and injuring students, and in full view of Delhi Police, manhandled and beat up student participants. Delhi Police was barely able to control the situation and refused to offer protection to the invited speakers who were told by ABVP members,”We will disfigure your face in a way that you will be unrecognisable”. Mainstream news media has added little to our understanding of the harrowing day-long siege of a college campus space by bloodthirsty goons by presenting it as a “clash” that “broke out” (like a case of hives?!) between two student groups. Thereby implying that left hooligans and right hooligans engaged in their hoologanism while we as neutral public can sigh at the declining public behaviour of students and get back to our lives. Thankfully there are eyewitness accounts and videos that counter this ridiculous and dangerous false equivalence and drive home the point that once again, the opportunity to engage in speech, reason and words was violently cut short by those who wanted to hurt and maim.
I am writing to express my deep dismay at the recent incidents at the University College, and more importantly, at your near-total inexcusable and cowardly passivity that not only permitted the culture of violence to grow in this institution, but also allowed the situation to be such that the aggrieved young people continue to be ostracized and threatened by fellow-students. It escapes my reason why responsible authorities at University College cannot recognize a few basic facts about higher education in post-independence democratic India : (1) the fact that all students, irrespective of caste, class, gender, and other such considerations, have equal rights of access and equal mobility inside the campus, and of course, an equal right to justice, (2) that violence by any section of students against other students is not permissible and must invite prompt action by authorities, (3) that any section of students subjected to violence have full rights to complain and obtain redressal, (4) that the dignity of women students is protected by law and the institution is bound to take action against erring parties following the process laid down by the law. Continue reading “An Open Letter to the Teachers and Parents of the Students of University College, Thiruvananthapuram”
गोलवलकर के महिमामंडन से उठते प्रश्न
संघ के सुप्रीमो जनाब मोहन भागवत की सूबा मध्य प्रदेश की बैतुल की यात्रा पिछले दिनों सूर्खियों में रही, जहां वह हिन्दू सम्मेलन को संबोधित करने पहुंचे थे। सूर्खियों की असली वजह रही बैतुल जेल की उनकी भेंट जहां वह उस बैरक में विशेष तौर पर गए, जहां संघ के सुप्रीमो गोलवलकर कुछ माह तक बन्द रहे। इस यात्रा की चन्द तस्वीरें भी शाया हुई हैं। इसमें वह दीवार पर टंगी गोलवलकर की तस्वीर का अभिवादन करते दिखे हैं। फोटो यह भी उजागर करता है कि भागवत के अगल बगल जेल के अधिकारी बैठै हैं।
विपक्षी पार्टियों ने – खासकर कांग्रेस ने – इस बात पर भी सवाल उठाया था कि आखिर किस हैसियत से उन्हें जेल के अन्दर जाने दिया गया। उनके मुताबिक यह उस गोलवलकर को महिमामंडित करने का प्रयास है, जिसे ‘एक प्रतिबंधित संगठन के सदस्य होने के नाते गिरफ्तार किया गया था। यह जेल मैनुअल का उल्लंघन भी है। केवल कैदी के ही परिजन एवं दोस्त ही जेल परिसर में जा सकते हैं और वह भी वहां जाने से पहले जेल प्रबंधन की अनुमति लेने जरूरी है।’
गौरतलब है कि संघ के तत्कालीन सुप्रीमो गोलवलकर की यह पहली तथा अंतिम गिरफतारी आज़ाद हिन्दोस्तां में गांधी हत्या के बाद हुई थी, जब संघ पर पाबन्दी लगायी गयी थी। प्रश्न उठता है कि आखिर गोलवलकर के इस कारावास प्रवास को महिमामंडित करके जनाब भागवत ने क्या संदेश देना चाहा।
( For full text of the article click here :https://hindi.sabrangindia.in/article/nafrat-ke-guruji-subhash-gathade
This is my Malayalam opinion piece for iemalayalam, on something despite the outcry against the CPM in the mess around Kerala Law Academy. The public discussion has been, not unexpectedly, on the line of Kerala’s well-entrenched scandal journalism, which has a history of a hundred years, at least. This is a form of journalism that highlights the sexual lives – proper or improper – of powerful male politicians which accompanies the attack on their public failings directly or indirectly- a very highly successful tactic, hitherto, to undermine even the seemingly unassailable. When women began to figure in this kind of journalism as something more than just passive sexual objects, as active agents of corruption and manipulation – most markedly, in the controversy over the businesswoman Sarita Nair – scandal journalism worked by highlighting the huge contrast between their ‘feminine-respectable’ names, sartorial styles, behaviour, and so on, and the despicable manipulations they indulged in. This is the case also with much media discussion of the principal of the Kerala Law Academy, Lekshmi Nair.
However, this tactic is not only misogynist, it also lets the elite-femininity that she represents escape critique. This is a very contemporary form of respectable femininity that presents itself as essentially domestic, but wields delegated masculine power to vicious ends, and it is almost all-pervasive in disciplinary institutions in Kerala now. Not surprisingly perhaps, the CPM’s mishandling of the issue has not just shown how poorly committed the party is to women’s rights, but also how soft it is on this elite-feminine power.
The full essay, in Malayalam:
Reports of exploitation, humiliation, violence, and rampant nepotism are still flowing out of the private-sector law college popularly known as the Law Academy, in Thiruvananthapuram twenty whole days after the commencement of the students’ struggle there. At the centre of the controversy is the principal, Lekshmi Nair, who seems to have ‘inherited’ that position in the institution owned by her family: clearly, the students are determined to teach her a good lesson. Rarely have we seen all student organizations, from the far-right to the far-left, rally against one person with equal determination; but from the complaints of students – subsequently confirmed by the University of Kerala to which this college is affiliated – it appears that there is no reason to be surprised.
But the irony of utter lawlessness and blatantly feudal despotism perpetuated in an institution devoted to legal education in a democratic nation itself seems lost, for the authorities’ commonsense about liberal education in Kerala has been that it should be neither liberal nor education nor anything to do even remotely with the practice of democracy. I have been saying this over and over again, and really, feel utterly breathless at this. Continue reading “Taming the Brat? Thoughts on the Kerala Law Academy Imbroglio”