Category Archives: Bad ideas

There is no God And You Can Say so

Academics focus on secularism when secularisation can save the day.

There is no God And You Can Say so

Image Courtesy : NDTV

A simple query sometimes occasions judicial intervention: Does the right to freedom of expression apply merely to believers? On September 6, the Madras High Court dismissed a Public Interest Litigation filed by M Deivanayagam raising such a question. The petitioner wanted the atheistic inscriptions placed under the statue of Periyar, father of the Dravidian movement, installed in Tiruchirappalli, to be removed. He argued that the inscriptions are offensive to those who believe in a “universal god”.

The court upheld the right to freedom of expression—which is a part of the fundamental rights under India’s Constitution. It has reiterated that this right is universal and cannot be altered by numerical majority at any point of time.

Deivanayagam had also challenged the authenticity of the inscriptions attributed to Periyar. It reads as follows: “There is no god, no god, there really is no god/ He who created god is a fool/ He who preaches god is a scoundrel/ He who prays to god is uncivilised.”

The division bench of Justices S Manikumar and Subramonium Prasad dismissed the petition, emphasising that if a believer has the constitutional right under Article 19 to express her or his views on the existence of god and religion, then a non-believer has equal right to disagree and claim that there is no god.

Ramasamy Naicker, who is known as Periyar, pioneered the self-respect movement which sought equal status for the backward sections of in Tamil Nadu. He also founded the Dravida Kazhagham anti-caste movement and was a militant social reformer who died in 1978.

( Read the full text here :


Southern trees bear a strange fruit,

Blood on the leaves and blood at the root,

Black bodies swinging in the southern breeze,

Strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees.

The word lynching conjures up images of a dark period in the history of the United States of America. Between 1877 and 1950, white supremacist gangs murdered 4,000 African Americans, while the government and the police looked the other way. James Baldwin, whose essays Dark Days captures the unfolding violence, wrote, ‘A mob is not autonomous. It executes the real will of the people who rule the State’. In 1888, white supremacists lynched seven African American men for drinking from a well – which they had said was for ‘white’s only’. Baldwin recounts that story and writes, ‘The blood is on the hands of the state of Alabama which sent those mobs into the street to execute the will of the State’.

The lyrics quoted above are from the iconic song – Strange Fruit – written by the communist artist Abel Meeropol and sung by Billie Holiday. Continue reading Lynchistan

Against Aachaaram: When is Your Cloth Clean/Pure/ Both?

This is the third in the series titled Against Aachaaram: A Dossier from Malayalam on Kafila. Both excerpts have been chosen and translated by HARIKRISHNAN S. The prefatory note below is by J Devika. They are about the notions of purity of clothing harboured by the traditional caste elite in Kerala, which were revised by the neo-savarna of twentieth century Kerala.

The neo-savarna refers to a twentieth-century social formation that comprises of the upper-caste elite of traditional Kerala – the sudras (nair and ambalavasi), the samanthas and kshathriyas (the members of erstwhile ruling houses, minor and major), and the brahmins. The richer sections of the ex-untouchable Ezhava caste-community who have in effect abandoned the teachings of their chosen Guru, Sree Narayana, now actively seek membership in the neo-savarna, but are yet to be accepted fully.

Continue reading Against Aachaaram: When is Your Cloth Clean/Pure/ Both?

A War For Scientists to Join

Scientists have barely offered resistance to pseudoscience. This must change—IIT students show how.

Ramesh Pokhriyal

Surely India’s scientific community must be waking up to the realisation that their silence is detrimental to scientific development and allows many varieties of mischief to breed. In a rare show of gumption, students of the elite engineering institute, IIT Bombay, have slammed the recent decision to invite the Human Resources Development (HRD) Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’ to chair their graduation ceremony.

For too long India’s scientists have remained silent—even the credulous claims by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a speech at the Ambani hospital in November 2014 was not challenged by them for a long time. A key role has to be played by the scientific community in the ongoing battle of ideas. Perhaps students of IIT Bombay show the way.

They have said in their in-house publicationInsight IIT Bombay, that a guest who “recognised, embodied and endorsed the scientific and moral values” of their institute should have been invited instead of the minister. Their problem is with Pokhriyal’s speech, pervaded by unscientific claims and “twisted facts”. They are under no illusion the speech tried to stoke “patriotic feelings”. To the IIT students, the speech was a “mild form of scientific blasphemy”.

( Read the full article here :

Wisdom of Ganesh Gaitonde: Satya Sagar

Guest Post by SATYA SAGAR

Note: Ganesh Gaitonde is a fictional character from the Netflix series Sacred Games, but that does not make him any less real than anyone else on the planet.

Warning: Profanity ahead. Get parental advice before proceeding.

Somewhere on a yacht in choppy waters off the western Indian coast I met Ganesh Gaitonde, noted[1]political analyst, role model for the youth and public intellectual for a free-wheeling interview.

We discussed a wide range of extremely important issues confronting Indian society today from the celebration of Ganesh Chaturthi at the Ambani household to what PC (not Chidambaram) said when NJ farted in her dreams. Some trivial themes like climate change, nuclear war and crisis of Indian spirituality were also touched upon – but you can skip those portions if they bore you to death.

Ganesh Gaitonde (GG): Stop calling me ‘Gaitondeji’, you #^^$%&&&. You guys kept chanting ‘Gandhiji’ for seven decades while screwing everything he stood for. So, cut this ‘ji’ crap. I am just Ganesh – nothing more, nothing less.

Me: Gaitondeji…

Me: Ok, I apologize Ganesh. Now, even before we get into important national and social issues, can you explain why every other word you utter is always an obscenity? Continue reading Wisdom of Ganesh Gaitonde: Satya Sagar

Wishful visions, dishonest tales and bitter fruit

Review of ‘Malevolent Republic : A Short History of New India’ by K. S. Komireddi

Image result for malevolent republic

‘The idea of a peace-loving, nonviolent India exists, persists, as part of a selectively constructed and assiduously cultivated national self-image in the midst of a society pervaded by social and political violence…’ argued Prof Upinder Singh, in her well-researched voluminous book ‘ Political Violence in Ancient India’ which had appeared around two years back. She had also added that pioneers of independence struggle were instrumental in creating this ‘[m]yth of non-violence in ancient India which obscures a troubled, complex heritage.’

‘Malevolent Republic’ – A Short Hisotry of New India’ by K. S. Komireddi – a commentator, critic and journalist who has written for leading western publications, reminds one of this debate. The book tries to chronicle the trajectory of post-independence India from Nehru to Modi – and does not shy away from raising uncomfortable questions which demand broader contemplation as well as deep soul searching.

( Read the full story here :

Kashmir: The Violence in Silence

Guest Post By Maknoon Wani

“I need a toy and a new dress for Eid.”

Requests and tantrums like these are heard around Eid in every Kashmiri household but not this time. It was the 8th day of the government imposed military siege. On 5 August, 2019 the central government unilaterally scrapped the special status(autonomy, imagine that being called special status) of the only Muslim majority state in the union. Thousands were arrested to muzzle any dissent coming out of the agitated population. But seven year old Aairah was worried about her Eid shopping, which was never going to happen. 

How does it happen in the 21st century? How are millions of people house arrested and excommunicated within a few hours? Why are people celebrating a siege? How does this sell as normalcy? I spent many sleepless nights contemplating or rather trying to absorb the sheer cruelty of this situation. A group of students from my college invited me to a cake cutting ceremony which was organized to celebrate this decision. Maybe, their intentions were not so bad but did social convention dictate that a person be invited for the celebration of his misery? The shameless chest-thumping is a spectacle but an indifferent people is a tragedy. 

While I was suffering from this sense of loss and fear, people were celebrating and opining about Kashmir like they knew everything. I was told how good this decision is and how I should be happy. Kashmir, which went incommunicado days ago, was said to be normal. Reports from the foreign press regarding protests in Kashmir were refuted and labelled as western propaganda. Saner voices went more anti-national and pro-government channels got busy in peddling more lies. I, for one, went silent for a few days. Everyone was high on something. Some were planning to buy a plot in Kashmir while others were fantasying about white-skinned Kashmiri girls. History was forgotten, conveniently twisted and occasionally ignored to justify this daylight betrayal. A radicalized population is dangerous but trying to reason with an intoxicated population is foolishness. After all these days, I thought this silence must not be interpreted as normalcy and more importantly-peace.

What is happening in Kashmir and to Kashmiris is violence. Why aren’t the children going to schools and why are their playgrounds surrounded with barbed wires? Why aren’t mobile phones working? What is forcing Kashmiris to be silent? Is the mere presence of half a million armed forces not a form of violence? I have to ask these questions because no one else is. As I try to imagine the green meadows of my hometown, I am not able to block that intruding fear of not seeing my family again. The meadows might turn red forever. I see people celebrating this decision like an act of revenge; humanity might be dead forever. The claims of ushering in development and peace have fallen flat but then who wants the truth? A country which cheers the suspension of civil liberties can not be expected to be empathetic towards anyone. The silent mourners will lose fear one day, and this gloom will spread. It is only a matter of time when the monster reaches every door. 

It has been more than 20 days of this extraordinary blackout. We have seen only a few Kashmiri voices in the Indian media. A population needs to be amnesic to forget traumas like this. How can they tire us so much to make us forget our identity. We have survived three mass uprisings. Seven million Kashmiris right now are silently shouldering the coffin of the Indian democracy. The rot has started to reek, but the masks of ignorance have kept people safe. A few hundred landlines have been made operational, and this has been projected as normalcy. Senior anchors are posting videos and pictures(of normalcy) which can put North Korean propaganda to shame. When no one is being allowed to visit Kashmir, not even the Indian opposition leaders, then how can the situation be called normal. 

Recently, JK Governor, Satyapal Malik said, “If there’s no phone for ten days, so be it.” Surprisingly, he could only count ten days on the 20th day of the communication blackout. This is symbolic of the systematic dehumanization of the Kashmiris by the Indian administration. I wish to tell every Indian politician that your collective failure and greed for votes has assured Kashmiris that nothing good can be expected of this country. Our land has once again been prioritized over our lives. This is naked oppression and it is out in the open. However, this silence is not peace. It is the harbinger of burning resentment. We aren’t so small to be devoured by anyone. Our silence is deafening but not to the dead ears.  

( Maknoon Wani is a student of journalism and is in Delhi presently)