Category Archives: Capitalism

इस्लामिस्ट एवं हिन्दुत्ववादी: कब तक चलेगी यह जुगलबंदी!

आखिर इस्लामिस्ट क्यों खुश हैं नागरिकता संशोधन अधिनियम से

not in my name

प्रतीकात्मक तस्वीर। 

विजयादशमी के दिन सरसंघचालक की तकरीर आम तौर पर आने वाले समय का संकेत प्रदान करती है।

विश्लेषक उस व्याख्यान की पड़ताल करके इस बात का अंदाज़ा लगाते हैं कि दिल्ली में सत्तासीन संघ के आनुषंगिक संगठन भाजपा की आगामी योजना क्या होगी।

विगत माह विजयादशमी के दिन संघ सुप्रीमो के व्याख्यान का फोकस नागरिता संशोधन अधिनियम पर था, जिसमें उन्होंने यह दावा किया कि यह अधिनियम किसी भी ‘धार्मिक समुदाय’ के साथ भेदभाव नहीं करता है और मुसलमानों को एक छद्म प्रचार से गुमराह किया गया है। उनके मुताबिक संसद में यह कानून संवैधानिक प्रक्रिया का पालन करके पारित हुआ है, एक तरह से सरहद पार के उन भाइयों एवं बहनों को सुरक्षा प्रदान करता है, जिन्हें वहां धार्मिक प्रताडना झेलनी पड़ती है।

मालूम हो कि उन दिनों चूंकि बिहार चुनावों की सरगर्मियां बनी हुई थीं, लिहाजा उनके वक्तव्यों से निकले संकेतों पर अधिक बात नहीं हो सकी।

गौरतलब है कि बंगाल के चुनावों के मद्देनज़र भाजपा के कुछ अग्रणी नेताओं ने भी इसी किस्म की बातें शुरू कर दी हैं। मालूम हो कई बार अपनी आम सभाओं में उनके कई अग्रणी, ‘दीमक’ की तरह ऐसे ‘अवांछितों’ को हटाने की बात पहले ही कर चुके हैं।

प्रश्न यह है कि क्या कोविड काल में इस सम्बन्ध में नियम बनाने का जो सिलसिला छोड़ दिया गया था क्या उसी मार्ग पर सरकार चलने वाली है और इसे लागू किया जाने वाला है या यह सिर्फ चुनावी सरगर्मी बनाए रखने का मामला है।

( Read the full article here )

Bengal 2021, Fascism and the Left(s)

 

 

‘The specific threat of National Socialism was obscured amid general talk of the perils of “fascists”, a term egregiously applied to Bruning, Social Democrats and all and sundry. Dogmatic catastrophist theorising led the Communists to actively underplay the Nazis: Ernst Thalman warned the KPD [Communist Party of Germany] Central Committee in February 1932 “that nothing would be more disastrous than an opportunistic overestimation of Hitler-fascism.’  – Michael Burleigh, The Third Reich – A New History, p. 136

Ernst Thalman warned his party’s Central Committee against ‘opportunistically overestimating Hitler’, literally months before Hitler was appointed Chancellor in January the following year. What is more, this statement was made at a time when the intentions of the Nazis were hidden to nobody. As Burleigh puts it, they had frequently announced their contempt for the law and ‘by 1932 were vowing to intern Communists and Social Democrat opponents in concentration camps.’ (p. 149) Thalman, we know, was killed in the Buchenwald concentration camp in August 1944, eleven years after being held in captivity. Indeed, Thalman was arrested barely a year after he warned his party not to overestimate ‘Hitler-fascism’.

It is common knowledge that as the clouds of danger encircled Germany and the Depression was leading to cataclysmic shifts, the KPD continued to focus on Social Democrats as the main enemy. A brief entry on Thalman in the Encyclopaedia Britannica puts it pithily:

‘The party was almost completely unprepared when, in early 1933, Adolf Hitler ordered the mass arrests of communist functionaries; these arrests practically destroyed the party structure. Thälmann’s arrest came on March 3, 1933. All efforts to obtain his release failed, and he remained imprisoned for more than a decade until he was finally executed at Buchenwald concentration camp.’

‘The Most Dangerously Hidebound Force’

This quote above is not just about Germany. It is about a certain mindset widely prevalent in the Left. This mindset deploys the term ‘fascism’ quite indiscriminately, dissolving the specific threat of fascism into  just another variant of ‘authoritarianism’ and misuse of power.  Usually this happens because of incorrigibly reductionist thinking that sees in every authoritarian tendency a manifestation of ‘capitalism’, thereby reducing all of them to mere variations of the same. But it also happens becuase of what Antonio Gramsci saw as the party’s incapacity to ‘react against the force of habit, against the tendency to become mummified and anachronistic’ – a characteristic he attributed to the ‘most dangerously hidebound and conservative force’ namely, the ‘party bureaucracy’.

It is misleading to think in terms of historical analogies and one should normally avoid thinking of historical replays or re-enactments. Every historical situation is unique and has its own antecedent conditions. But there are  always lessons to be learnt from speicfic historical experiences and one can ignore them only at one’s own peril.

The intentions of the current regime in India are not a secret any more and we have seen its contempt for the rule of law, over and over again. The ongoing farce of the Bhima-Koregaon arrests, or the fantastic conspiracy theories that have been woven around the North East Delhi communal violence earlier this year, are there for everyone to see. Have we forgotten that when Justice Muralidhar of the Delhi High Court insisted that the police see in the  court, the crucial piece of evidence – that of Kapil Mishra’s video-recorded speech openly threatening violence and killing – he was transferred out of Delhi that very night? These aren’t just aberrations: the subversion of the rule of law that began with the isolated case of Judge Loya’s murder is now an everyday affair and the judges know what the costs of going against this regime can be. Of course, there have been many instances of the subversion of the criminal justice system during ‘riots’ and ‘communal violence’ in the past as well, but the overall sanctity of the law was maintained and things could still be challenged in court with some results.

One big difference between Germany in 1933 and India today, (among many other differences), is that even in early 1933, communists and social democrats mattered enough for Hitler to want to arrest them and clear the way for his untramelled exercise of power. In India today, the main opposition to key policy changes has come from ordinary people at large – the Citizenship Amendment Act being the most classic instance. No wonder then, those being arrested here are ordinary people and activists unaffiliated to any political party.

What is worse is that the dominant mainstream Left, has by and large, got caught up in the tendency that Gramsci described – to become mummified and anachronistic; the incapacity to react against the force of habit and formulaic thinking; the inability to recognize what is new in the situation. We have been witnessing a naked display of this tendency in the mainstream Left’s antics in Bengal, which created history in the 2019 parliament elections by mobilizing votes for the BJP.  Now that the state assembly elections are due next year, things are assuming surreal dimensions.

Thus, the CPI(M) General Secretary Sitaram Yechury argued in a television interview, later prominently displayed on the front page of the party’s Bengali daily Ganashakti, that ‘in order to defeat the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Trinamool Congress (TMC) must be defeated‘. This statement actually makes no sense whatsoever when the danger of Hindutva takeover of the state is imminent and elections are just round the corner. Perhaps,  in a slightly longer term, this could have made some sense. The argument that there is great discontent against  the TMC government and the anti-incumbency votes against it must be mopped up by the Left so that the BJP does not benefit, can make sense only when we are thinking of BJP’s growth in the medium term at the very least. But before examining this argument, it might just be worth asking that if that is really the case, how does the Left actually justify mobilizing votes for the BJP? This is not only evident in the ground reports that were coming in from Bengal but was also claimed by the Home Minister Amit Shah just a few days ago. In terms of electoral statistics too, it is clear that the extra votes that the BJP polled in the Lok Sabha elections came almost entirely from the CPI(M).  According to CPI(ML) Liberation leader Kavita Krishnan, even now, among Left supporters in West Bengal, ‘arguments are rife on the ground suggesting “Ram in 2021 and Baam [Left] in 2026″‘. 

But let us still look at the argument that the West Bengal CPI(M) is making. The argument of the CPI(M), to repeat, is this: in order to defeat the BJP  it is necessary to defeat the TMC. Today’s (19 November 2020) Ganashakti has modified the line a bit and it says: In order to defeat the BJP, the TMC must be isolated. The distinction is important but it really does not make any difference to its substance in the immediate context. Why?
We can reduce the argument to three propositions:
1. TMC is in power and faces massive anti-incumbency
2. It is the mass of people moving away from the TMC that the BJP is capturing.
3. If the CPI-M wants to defeat the BJP, it must come out in opposition to (to ‘defeat’ or to ‘isolate’) the ruling party so that it can mop up the anti TMC votes, thus preventing them from going to BJP.
Hence to defeat the latter, you must defeat/ isolate the former.
 
Now here is the tricky part:
1. Ever since its defeat in 2011, CPI-M has only been in relentless opposition to the TMC, treating it an enemy number one.
2. Hence, it should already be mopping up anti-incumbency vote.
But what do the figures say?
First, let us take the anti-incumbency question: TMC got 39% vote and 184 seats in 2011. In 2016, its vote increased to 44.9% and seats to 211. In the 2019 parliament election, it cornered 43.3 % vote (the marginal difference is also because 2019 was a Lok Sabha and not a state election). Actually in the by-elections since, it has recovered even this decline.
Second, the ‘mopping up’ question: CPI-M polled 29.8 vote in 2011, which declined to 19.7 % in 2016 and to 7.5 % in 2019 and zero seats. This is how the CPI-M is apparently mopping up the anti-incumbency, anti-TMC vote!
Third, Contrary to the lies peddled by the CPI-M West Bengal, not only is the party losing votes, it is losing votes almost entirely to the BJP. So 16.72 percent of BJP’s increase of 22.25 percent in the 2019 parliament election was gained by capturing the depleting CPI-M and Left Front vote.
TMC’s vote till now remains not only intact but has even grown marginally. As I had pointed out, in an article the The Telegraph in January this year, in the three by-elections that took place in November 2019, in Kharagpur, Kaliaganj and Karimpur, not only did the TMC win all three seats but significantly, the combined vote of the CPI(M) and Congress fell drastically (ranging from 40, 000 to 90, 000 votes) in comparison to the 2016 Assembly elections. So frankly, as of now there doesn’t seem to be any anti-incumbency in evidence at least from the figures available. On the other hand, evidence is that the CPI(M) is continuously losing ground – the latest to leave is the former Jadavpur area councillor and 2014 Lok Sabha candidate Rinku Naskar. From all available accounts she had a good record of work as councillor but it also seems that she had been among those helping the BJP in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
 
It is necessary to challenge the CPI-M’s lies because many well meaning people sympathetic to the Left in generaI, seem to be taken by this specious logic based on  totally incorrect information. It is also necessary because hundreds and thousands of people, especially Muslims, will have to pay with their lives for this criminal cynicism. It is the chronicle of a tragedy foretold.
 
As a Muslim friend from the Metia Buruz area put it, ‘we feel like our lives will be collateral damage’.
 
CPI(ML) Liberation – Signs of Fresh Thinking
 

It was a pleasure therefore to listen to Dipankar Bhattacharya, General Secretary of the CPI(ML) Liberation speak of the need to focus on the BJP as the main threat today – to India and to West Bengal. His responses to the various interviewers, even as the results of the Bihar elections were pouring in, were remarkably free of obfuscating jargon and spoke of the threat to democracy, to the rule of law and to civlizational values from the BJP. And that was enough for making the argument that it needed to be challenged in a united manner. No bookish arguments about whether this is fascism and what Dimitrov might have said about ‘united front’ tactics!

Signs of fresh thinking were quite evident in Bhattacharya’s call to  ‘think in these new times, in a new way, in new conditions’, where he had no hesitation in including Ambedkar along with Bhagat Singh among the icons of the movement. As he put it, the slogan was ‘Naye Bharat ke vaaste, Bhagat Singh-Ambedkar ke Raaste’ (see video below). Indeed, the CPI(ML) Liberation has gone further and, as Jignesh Mevani pointed out, it did not field a single upper caste candidate in the Bihar elections, ‘changing the popular notion of the Brahminical, Savarna-dominated Left leadership.’

In the video below, Bhattacharya talks at length about a range of issues during the  Bihar election campaign, to Nakul Singh Sawhney of Chalchitra Abhiyan.

The rethinking in this interview is quite fascinating also because, in order to think the question of caste and Dalit oppression and  foregound the issue of dignity, Bhattacharya even indicates a preliminary theoretical willingness to understand ‘class’ as more than a purely economic category. This is, of course, a very difficult question and when he says class does not simply mean economic exploitation but also dignity, self-respect, culture and social justice – that move itself raises many other questions about specific forms of overdetermination. The multifarious implications of this proposition cannot be dealt with in this brief article but let us at least recognize that it opens up a conceptual space in the practice of the Left that can have far-reaching consequences.

A final point of great interest in this interview is that Bhattacharya here displays a sense of having thought through some of the issues relating to the ’employment question’ that had become the focus of the Mahagathbandhan  (MGB – grand alliance) election  campaign. Recall the way the CPI(M) and  Left Front in West Bengal went about it.  Theirs was primarily the neoliberal way of inviting Capital to invest in the state and let it dictate the terms. Large-scale land acquisition and the unfortunate developments of Singur and Nandigram were consquences of that model.

What Bhattacharya says here clearly is that the technology-intensive high-end industries are not going to be able to address Bihar’s problems and that the focus will need to be  on more labour-oriented, medium and small enterprises which can provide far more employment than high-tech industries with least dislocation. But simultaenously, should the MGB win (the interview was conducted before the results were out), Bihar would also focus in developing itself as an IT hub – the vision is clearly not that of small industry based employment generation alone but has to go hand in hand with, rather than be obliterated by, big industry.

Of course these are critical issues and while one would have liked to hear a bit also about climate change and ‘green jobs’, in my view the beginning is itself quite significant and needs to be backed by the wider Left public. It is also important because, to my mind, the reason why the mainstream Left and the CPI(M) in particular have no appeal left in Bengal has a lot to do with their intransigence and refusal to rethink the neoliberal Singur-Nandigram model.

The struggle against Hindutva, it is clear today, cannot be fought on its turf of the secular-communal issue but must be taken to another terrain. A comprehensive rethink on a number of issues is necessary. One hopes that this stance of the CPI(ML) Liberation will be the beginning of a new chapter in the Left movement in this country.

‘Marxisms in the 21st Century’ – What do Bihar Elections Have to do With It?

 

 

In the  course of the Bihar election campaign of behalf of his party, the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and the Mahagathbandhan (the  grand alliance), the chief  ministerial face of the alliance Tejashwi Yadav has been indicating a significant shift of focus. ‘That was the era [his father Laloo Yadav’s] of social justice; this is the time of economic justice and the youth today want jobs’. Clearly this shift comes against the backdrop of the massive loss of jobs and livelihoods over the past six years since this government came to power. The lockdown was only the most inhuman culmination the the process of destruction of livelihoods that began with demonetization, followed by the ill-thought out Goods and Services Tax (GST).

Continue reading ‘Marxisms in the 21st Century’ – What do Bihar Elections Have to do With It?

After Capitalism – Democratic eco-socialism: Vishwas Satgar

Guest post by VISHWAS SATGAR

This article was earlier published in Global Dialogue

In the contemporary carbon-centric lifeworld of capitalism, gas-guzzling automobiles, hi-tech airplanes, massive container ships, and energy-using skyscrapers are weapons of mass destruction. The more these resource-intensive and carbon-centric social relations prevail, the more climate change is accelerated. After rupturing the earth system, this new capitalist nature – under patriarchal domestication, scientifically observed and managed – now has to be geo-engineered and carbon emitted has to be stored in the deep recesses of planet Earth; despite the uncontrollable consequences for life on the planet, oil spigots will only be shut when the last dollar is extracted from this deadly resource. The logic of contemporary capitalism is not merely about dispossession, but about ecocide, that is, the obliteration of the conditions necessary to sustain human and non-human life on planet Earth. This is what Karl Marx called the “metabolic rift of capitalism” and Rosa Luxemburg, the “conquest of the natural economy.”

Neoliberalism’s terminus

Continue reading After Capitalism – Democratic eco-socialism: Vishwas Satgar

Post Covid world and Bahujan: Pramod Ranjan

Guest Post by PRAMOD RANJAN

Translated from the original Hindi by Ekta News and Features

It is said that had the spread of the Novel Coronavirus not been contained by imposing lockdowns, by now, it would have consumed a substantial chunk of the human residents of the earth. But this claim requires closer examination.

Lockdown killed lakhs of persons the world over and its after-effects have ruined the economies of scores of low- and middle-income countries like India. Crores of persons have been condemned to a life of poverty and misery.

What is going to change
Offices and educational institutions were a gift of modern age. By bringing human minds together, the places of work and the centres of education not only scripted a new chapter in the development of the human race but also brought diverse communities on common platforms. It is almost certain that in the post-Covid world, schools and offices would not exist as we know them today.[1] A new law for bringing about changes in educational institutions has come into force in India.[2] Labour laws have been almost abolished and companies have been given the licence to exploit the workers.[3] Not only manual labourers but white-collar workers, too, would be caught in this web of exploitation and mental turmoil[4]. The rights of journalists and media employees, related to their service conditions and salary and allowances, have been withdrawn through changes in the law.[5]

There is also a real danger that globalization (the spurt in commercial and business activities at the global level around the 1990s) would be reversed. This will spell disaster for the economies of the developing countries. In India and many other countries, the poor could join the middle-income group only due to globalization[6]Continue reading Post Covid world and Bahujan: Pramod Ranjan

We Urgently Need a Rainbow Left – One Hundred Years of Indian Communism

 

 

Bolivia’s Movement for Socialism, image courtesy The Nation

The world today desperately awaits the emergence of a new, rainbow Left that is liberated from the disastrous hold of the twentieth century. Indeed, attempts to find or forge such platforms are visible in different parts of the world. Falteringly and with setbacks to be sure, but there is no doubt that serious attempts are underway. And many of these attempts are powered by a different kind of imagination that is unencumbered, to a large extent, by the suffocatiing grip of the last century.

One hundred years ago, on 17 October 1920, the emigre Communist Party of India was formed in Tashkent with MN Roy as its chief initiator. This date of the party’s formation is, of course, contested by the current CPI, which dates its formation from 26 December 1925, when the first ‘Indian Communist Conference’ was held in Kanpur. The date became a matter of contention, especially after the split  in the CPI and the formation of the CPI(M) in 1964 – and at the core of that contention were two related issues. One opinion at the time of the Kanpur Conference had argued for a home-bred and ‘nationalist’ ‘Indian Communism’, in opposition to which the other section saw itself as a contingent or  a chapter of an international movement. The second question became more of an issue in the later years, after Stalin’s death and the revaluation of his role and the manner in which the Comintern came to play a subordinate role to Soviet foreign policy. In between these two lies the phase of the ‘Bolshevization’ of all socialist and communist parties across the world, which ensured that the CPI too, no longer remain an independent party in the sense in which some were arguing at the time of its formation.

Continue reading We Urgently Need a Rainbow Left – One Hundred Years of Indian Communism

India is Hungry: Who is Listening?

Hunger is a matter of structural anomalies. It cannot just be explained away by who holds the reins of power.

Starvation Deaths Continue to Occur in UP

Image Courtesy: Sabrang India

The “good news” is that India now stands at the 94th position on the Global Hunger Report 2020’s ranking of 107 countries. India has improved several notches over its 102nd rank last year, but is still firmly in the category of countries with a “serious” hunger problem. Only a handful of countries are doing worse than India, such as Rwanda (ranked 97), Afghanistan (99), Mozambique (103) and Chad (107).

The “good news” cannot hide the fact that that with an overall score of 27.2 India has performed worse than its neighbours, Pakistan (ranked 88), Bangladesh (75), Nepal (73) and Indonesia (70).

Seen any way, India has spent yet another year failing to tackle its massive chronic hunger problem. According to official figures, more than 14% of the population is undernourished and the child stunting rate is over 37.4%. One supposes this fits in with the strong belief in some quarters that India is a Vishwa Guru—teacher to the world—and can boldly claim to be a superpower in future.

The situation is such that news of starvation deaths is not uncommon despite excess of food grains stored in the godowns of the Food Corporation of India. Thousands of tonnes of these food grains go waste every year for a number of equally unjustifiable reasons.

(Read the full article here)

Petition to Ban Toxic News Channels

The following petition initiated by Prof Apoorvanand ; Bhasha Singh, Journalist/Activist ; Jitendra Kumar, Senior Journalist ;  Mahendra Mishra, Editor, Janchowk and Subhash Gatade appeals to the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM), The Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), The Dalit Indian Chamber of Commerce & Industry (DICCI) and The Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FICCI) to boycott toxic new channels.  The petition can be signed here :

It is a welcome sign that two prominent business houses, namely Bajaj Auto and Parle have taken the WELCOME DECISION to not advertise on TV channels spreading hatred. We urge all the advertisers to BOYCOTT HATE MONGERS, because the history is witness that the hate ruins the whole society and does not spare anyone, however rich and high and mighty a person may be. Let us remind ourselves the unforgettable words of Pastor Martin Niemoller that he spoke on emerging from the Nazi prison: “… When they came for me, there was none left to protest”. Don’t ask for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee.

These corporates need to recall that not long ago when Black Lives Matter movement was at its peak in the West, more than 1,000 companies had decided to boycott a section of social media platforms for their dubious stand on race.

We are aware of the background: The qualitative changes – for the worse – that have taken place in the Indian media, especially the electronic variant during last few years. The ownership of the large media houses has become limited to a few big players. And these big corporates are not concerned with the concerns of the common people, and use the media for their own and their political masters’ vested interests by focusing on non-issues and indulgence in sensationalism, false propaganda and hatred – thereby actively participating in the destruction of social unity in diversity among Indians that has existed despite any and every difference of class, caste, gender, region, religion, language, ideology or any other.

Without going back to the times when the lynching became the new political weapon – with the accused being welcomed by the ruling party leaders and even minister – during the last few months, we saw that in order to deflect attention from the catastrophe that had befallen on the people in general but migrant labour in particular because of the COVID-19 pandemic and to advance the agenda of demonizing Muslims – a la Jews in Nazi Germany – how ‘Tablighi Jamat’ was willfully portrayed falsely as the ‘corona jehadi’ and what not. Then, we witnessed the suicide of Sushant Singh Rajput being transformed into an endless ‘issue’, and the less said about the latest Hathras gang-rape, the better – the bizarre brazenness of hate-speech and hate-driven crime is unmistakably on the rise!

HIGH TIME THAT BOYCOTT OF HATE MONGERS BECOMES A COLLECTIVE PRACTICE!

Unpacking Religious Nationalism

Review of ‘Religious Nationalism – Social Perceptions and Violence : Sectarianism on Political Chessboard‘- Ram Puniyani (Media House 2020)

“Blatant dictatorship – in the form of fascism, communism, or military rule – has disappeared across much of the world. Military coups and other violent seizures of power are rare. Most countries hold regular elections. Democracies still die, but by different means.

Since the end of the Cold War, most democratic breakdowns have been caused not by generals and soldiers but by elected governments themselves.”

(How Democracies Die, Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt)

The contrast had never been so sharper.

Continue reading Unpacking Religious Nationalism

जेपी से अण्णा : आख़िर भ्रष्टाचार विरोधी आंदोलन किस तरह दक्षिणपंथ का रास्ता सुगम करता आया है

हम बारीकी से विश्लेषण करें तो हम पाते हैं कि वर्ष 2014 के बाद भारत में लिबरल जनतंत्र के बरअक्स हिन्दुत्व की जो बहुसंख्यकवादी सियासत हावी होती गयी, उसके कई तत्व इसी आंदोलन /सरगर्मी में मजबूती पाते गए हैं।

अण्णा
वर्ष 2011 के जनलोकपाल आंदोलन के दौरान अण्णा हजारे (फाइल फोटो)। साभार : गूगल

ग्रीक पुराणों में मिनर्वा को ज्ञान, विवेक या कला की देवी समझा जाता है, जिसका वाहन है उल्लू।

उन्नीसवीं सदी के महान आदर्शवादी दार्शनिक हेगेल का ‘फिलॉसाफी आफ राइट’ नामक किताब का चर्चित कथन है, ‘‘मिनर्वा का उल्लू तभी अपने पंख फैलाता है, जब शाम होने को होती है’’; (Only when the dusk starts to fall does the owl of Minerva spread its wings and fly.) – कहने का तात्पर्य दर्शन किसी ऐतिहासिक परिस्थिति को तभी समझ पाने के काबिल होता है, जब वह गुजर गयी होती है।]

अपनी अतीत की ग़लतियों की तहे दिल से आलोचना करना, साफ़गोई के साथ बात करना, यह ऐसा गुण है, जो सियासत में ही नहीं बल्कि सामाजिक जीवन में भी इन दिनों दुर्लभ होता जा रहा है। इसलिए अग्रणी वकील एवं नागरिक अधिकार कार्यकर्ता जनाब प्रशांत भूषण ने अपनी अतीत की ग़लतियों के लिए जब पश्चताप प्रगट किया तो लगा कुछ अपवाद भी मौजूद हैं।

दरअसल इंडिया टुडे से एक साक्षात्कार में उन्होंने ‘इंडिया अगेन्स्ट करप्शन’ आंदोलन जिसका चेहरा बन कर अण्णा हजारे उभरे थे – जिसकी नेतृत्वकारी टीम में खुद प्रशांत शामिल थे – को लेकर एक अनपेक्षित सा बयान दिया। उनका कहना था कि यह आंदोलन ‘संघ-भाजपा’ द्वारा संचालित था। ईमानदारी के साथ उन्होंने यह भी जोड़ा कि उन्हें अगर इस बात का एहसास होता तो वह तुरंत अण्णा आंदोलन से तौबा करते, दूर हट जाते।

विडम्बना ही है इतने बड़े खुलासे के बावजूद छिटपुट प्रतिक्रियाओं के अलावा इसके बारे में मौन ही तारी है या बहुत कमजोर सी सफाई पेश की गयी है।

( Read the full article here)

Capitalism, Development and Western Hegemony – Looking Beyond to the Pluriverse

 

 

Many words are walked in the world. Many worlds are made. Many worlds make us. There are words and worlds that are lies and injustices. There are words and worlds that are truthful and true. In the world of the powerful there is room only for the big and their helpers. In the world we want, everybody fits. The world we want is a world in which many worlds fit…Our words, our song and our cry is so that the dead will no longer die. We fight so that they may live. We sing so that they may love. – Fourth Declaration of the Lacandon Jungle (1996), Zapatista National Liberation Army. Cited as epigraph in Pluriverse: A Post-Development Dictionary.

The New Grave-Diggers of Capital?

‘The world we want is a world in which many worlds fit’. This neatly sums up the idea of the ‘pluriverse’. Reading it, I was reminded of an interview of ‘Subcommandante Marcos’, ‘leader’ of the Zapatistas, some years ago. In that interview, Subcommandante Marcos (then anonymous) recounted that he and his colleagues at the Autonomous Metropolitan University in Mexico, who joined him in the Chiapas mountains in 1984, were Marxists and had basically gone there to organize the indigenous people. And for Marxists that bascially meant to ‘raise their awareness’ about capitalism and exploitation.

Editors: Ashish Kothari, Ariel Salleh, Arturo Escobar, Federico Demaria, Alberto Acosta

Continue reading Capitalism, Development and Western Hegemony – Looking Beyond to the Pluriverse

How to really compensate for injustice committed

It is disheartening when the Constitution is not followed in letter and spirit, but the balm of monetary compensation will not fix the problem.

Dr Kafeel Khan Speech allahabad hc

Someone must have been telling lies about Joseph K, he knew he had done nothing wrong but one morning, he was arrested.

These opening lines of Franz Kafka’s classic novel, The Trial, published just over a century ago, in 1925, still ring true. 

Joseph K, the novel’s protagonist, is cashier at a bank. On his 30th birthday, two unidentified agents arrest him for an unspecified crime. The plot of the novel revolves around his efforts to deduce what the charges against him are, and which never become explicit. Joseph K’s feverish hopes to redeem himself of these unknown charges fail and he is executed at a small quarry outside the city—“like a dog”—two days before his 31st birthday.

Kafka, a major figure of 20th century-literature died of tuberculosis in 1924, when he was barely 40 years old. He had wanted all his manuscripts, including of the unfinished The Trial, destroyed after his death, but close friend and executor of his will, Max Brod, ignored the instruction and the world gained a strong literary indictment of an apathetic and inhuman bureaucracy and how completely it can lack respect for civil rights. 

Kafka’s novel resonates with us today for it is not difficult to spot people who have been wronged by our system. Their endless wait for justice, especially those charged with petty crimes, or those who spend the prime of their lives behind bars on concocted charges, is on open public display. 

( Read the full article here )

South Africa’s Climate Justice Charter

On October 16th the Climate Justice Charter will be taken to South Africa’s national parliament, together with the climate science future document, with the demand it be adopted as per section 234 of the South African constitution, which provides for charters to be adopted. All political parties will be invited to a debate on the Charter and will be asked to champion its adoption, based on the current consensus climate science which highlights that South Africa and Southern Africa are heating at twice the global average.

The South African Food Sovereignty Campaign and allies have been leading the building of  a  mass based climate justice movement for the past six years, during the worst drought in the history of the country. Their mass driven resistance has included a hunger tribunal, drought speak outs, a national bread march, food sovereignty festivals, the development of their own Food Sovereignty Act which they took to parliament and several government departments, protest action against food corporations, the media, the   stock exchange  and the second largest carbon emitter in the country called SASOL. In the context of 2019 deep dialogues were held with drought affected communities, the media, labour unions, children/youth and social and environmental justice organisations. All this work of resistance, dialogue  and learning  produced a draft climate justice charter, out of a national conference in November 2019. Since then the document has received  online input, including from a children/youth led online assembly on June 16th and then finally the document was launched on August 28th.

We in India can learn from, build on and connect to such initiatives globally, especially from the global South.

Here is the full text of the South African Climate Justice Charter Continue reading South Africa’s Climate Justice Charter

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

Corporate Social Media in India: Sell Hate, Enjoy Profit

The bias that social media platforms such as Facebook display reflects their own world-view as much as it does the regimes they support.

Corporate Social Media in India

A few gave the appearance of being truly psychopathic individuals. The mass of others were ragged and illiterate peasants easily roused to hatred of the Tutsi. Perhaps the most sinister people I met were the educated political elite, men and women of charm and sophistication who spoke flawless French and who could engage in long philosophical debates about the nature of war and democracy. But they shared one thing in common with the soldiers and the peasants: they were drowning in the blood of their fellow countrymen.

Fergal Kane, a journalist with the BBC, wrote these chilling lines in his book, Season of Blood: A Rwandan Journey, winner of the Orwell prize in 1995. The organised and planned killing in Rwanda, one of the darkest episodes of the 20th century, resulted in the death of eight lakh Tutsi.

It is a strange coincidence that a year and a half before these unfortunate developments, the biggest democracy in the world went through its own cataclysmic moment, when Hindutva supremacist forces demolished a 500-year-old mosque after a long and bloody campaign. Even after the demolition large-scale communal riots broke out all over India, in which thousands died and whose scars are still difficult to heal.

There is at least one thing in common between what Rwanda went through and what India witnessed in 1992: both tragedies demonstrated how the media can prepare and provoke ordinary people into unleashing untold miseries on their neighbours. Continue reading Corporate Social Media in India: Sell Hate, Enjoy Profit

कोविड-19 संकट के दौरान मिसाल बनकर उभरा क्यूबा

मार्च महीने में इटली के मिलान में मालपेंसा एयरपोर्ट पर क्यूबाई डॉक्टर्स का दल. (फोटो: रॉयटर्स)

मार्च महीने में इटली के मिलान में मालपेंसा एयरपोर्ट पर क्यूबाई डॉक्टर्स और स्वास्थ्यकर्मियों का दल. (फोटो: रॉयटर्स)

हेनरी रीव, इस नाम से कितने लोग परिचित हैं?

यह अलग बात है कि इस युवा की याद में बनी एक मेडिकल ब्रिगेड की दुनिया भर की सक्रियताओं से तो सभी परिचित हैं, जिसने कोविड महामारी के दिनों में भी अपने चिकित्सा के कामों में- जो अंतरराष्ट्रीयतावाद की भावना को मजबूती देते हुए आगे बढ़ी है, कहीं आंच नहीं आने दी है, जिसका निर्माण क्यूबा ने किया है.

मालूम हो कि हेनरी रीव के बारे में इतना ही हम जानते हैं कि 19 साल का यह अमेरिकी नौजवान था, जो न्यूयॉर्क के ब्रुकलिन स्थित अपने घर को छोड़ते हुए 19वीं सदी के अंतिम दौर में स्पेनिश हुक्मरानों के खिलाफ क्यूबाई संघर्ष से जुड़ गया था.

और क्यूबा ने अपने इस अनूठे स्वतंत्राता सेनानी की याद में मेडिकल ब्रिगेड का गठन किया है जो आज की तारीख में 22 मुल्कों में सक्रिय है.

आप को याद होगा वह दृश्य, जो कैमरे में कैद होते वक्त ही कालजयी बने रहने का संकेत दे रहा था. जब मिलान, जो इटली के संपन्न उत्तरी हिस्से का मशहूर शहर है, वहां अपने डॉक्टरी यूनिफॉर्म पहने एक टीम मालपेंसा एयरपोर्ट पर उतर रही थी और उस प्रसिद्ध एयरपोर्ट पर तमाम लोग खड़े होकर उनका अभिवादन कर रहे थे. (18 मार्च 2020)

यह सभी डॉक्टर तथा स्वास्थ्य पेशेवर हेनरी रीव ब्रिगेड के सदस्य थे, जो इटली सरकार के निमंत्रण पर वहां पहुंचे थे. एयरपोर्ट पर खड़े लोगों में चंद ऐसे भी थे, जिन्होंने तब अपने सीने पर क्रॉस बनाया, अपने भगवान को याद किया क्योंकि उनके हिसाब से क्यूबा के यह डॉक्टर किसी ‘फरिश्ते’ से कम नहीं थे. Continue reading कोविड-19 संकट के दौरान मिसाल बनकर उभरा क्यूबा

Working Class Movement and ‘Sudden Death’ of the 1980s – Challenges For Rebuilding the Left II

 

Let us call it ‘sudden death’ football style – even though, strictly speaking, there was no ‘tie’. Yet, even the highly frayed but continued existence of the earlier Nehruvian legacy (our version of the welfare state) had provided a kind of buffer that had kept in place an intricate balance between labour and capital. The Nehruvian state was no ‘socialism’ but it did represent a ‘social contract’ of sorts that had kept the worst caprices of capital in check and provided a certain legitimacy to issues and demands of labour. The balance was always tilted in favour of capital but was a balance nevertheless. This is what some ideologues of the neoliberal dispensation that succeeded it continue calling socialism – for that gave them the legitimacy, in the post-Soviet 1990s, to institute the unbridled rule of corporate capital. In that sense, there was a tie – and neoliberalism was the tie-breaker.

Protest_Photo, Image New Indian Express

The defeat of working class politics in the 1980s is a story that remains to be told – at any rate, properly analyzed. There are of course, layers and layers to that story  and no single article or even a book can do justice to it but it is nevertheless worth looking at some aspects – not all of which may have been apparent to players involved at that time. But that is precisely why it is so important to look back, especially if we are interested in building a movement in the future, avoiding the mistakes of the past.

Continue reading Working Class Movement and ‘Sudden Death’ of the 1980s – Challenges For Rebuilding the Left II

Why does the Left in Kerala fear Rehana Fathima and not COVID- 19?

Before I start, a request:    Friends who are reading this, if you are close to Noam Chomsky, Amartya Sen, or Soumya Swaminathan, or the other left-liberals who appear in the Kerala government-sponsored talk series from outside Kerala, please do forward this to them? I hope to reach them.

 

The Left government in Kerala is gathering its international intellectual-activist support base to cash on its commendable  — ongoing — success in dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic.  This is not new — it has always been part of the dominant Left’s hegemony-bolstering exercises, especially after the 1990s, when its unquestionable hegemony in Kerala began to face a series of challenges. It has also been forced to pay attention to the oppositional civil society which relentlessly questions the dominant Left’s fundamental understanding of social justice and forces it to take seriously such ideas as freedom, autonomy, as well as identities not reducible to class. Continue reading Why does the Left in Kerala fear Rehana Fathima and not COVID- 19?

Crisis of Working Class Politics – Challenges for Rebuilding the Left

 

In this year of COVID19, the organized ‘working class’ movement completes a hundred years of its history. It was on October 31 1920, that the All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC), the first central trade union organization, came into being. This might be a good occasion to take stock – to look back into history from what can only be described as a very troubled and difficult present – and peer forward into the future.

Workers, the long trek
Workers – the long trek, Image courtesy, The Wire

The year of COVID19 reveals, among other things, the very fragile and unstable nature of this entity called ‘the working class’ in countries like India. The monstrous situation arising out of the pandemic only provides us the window to that long and endless process by which the ‘working class’ is constantly made and remade. In a very important sense, unlike the peasantry which has a far more stable existence (till, for the requirements of Capital, it is uprooted and thrown into urban labour markets), the working class is an inherently structurally unstable social group. Given that its fate is tied to the requirements, caprices and maneouvres of Capital, the working class is not given to us readymade, once and for all. For as long-term changes in industry and technology occur or capital takes flight in the face of worker militancy, the working class too undergoes changes.

Continue reading Crisis of Working Class Politics – Challenges for Rebuilding the Left

How Many Times Will India Deny Apartheid?

Darren Sammy has revealed he faced racism in India at a time when the world is battling racism. India needs to join this fight.

Darren Sammy has revealed he faced racism

Darren Sammy, the famous all-rounder from West Indies, is a legend. He has led his country team and is the only captain to have won two T20 World Cups, in 2012 and 2016. His achievements in the arena of cricket are not limited to his country. He played a singular role in reviving Pakistan’s cricket team and preparing it for international matches, which earned him an honorary citizenship.

And thus the revelation that he was subjected to racial taunts by his own teammates, during his tour to India in 2013 and 2014, while he played IPL matches, was a bolt from the blue. His admirers were naturally aghast when Sammy disclosed that his teammates at SunRisers Hyderabad used to address him with a pejorative term and collectively sneer at him.

On some occasions, Sammy said, he too would smile back at his gleeful teammates, for he had innocently believed that it was light-hearted banter, even though directed at him. Sammy was completely oblivious to the fact that they were targeting him with a racist invective and enjoying “jokes” that he could not comprehend at his expense.

No doubt many of those who subjected him to humiliation were big names in Indian cricket. Yet it did not cause any uproar in India when Sammy made the truth known to the world via an Instagram post. The 24/7 news channels, which are forever searching for sensational news, and the cricketing fraternity, were quiet. None came forward to denounce the humiliation of Sammy, nor was there a public apology from the offenders. Only Swara Bhaskar, the actress, who espouses social causes rather fearlessly, demanded an apology from his teammates.

( Read the full text here)

The gendered myth of the front-line care giver as ‘warrior’: Panchali Ray

Guest post by PANCHALI RAY

Image credit Prashant Nadkar Indian Express. 

The COVID-19 crisis has laid bare some of the most significant and deep-rooted fault lines of society, whether it is attacks on Indians from the North-east part of the country including racial slurs, holding returning migrants responsible for the spread of the virus or even downright Islamophobia leading to a hashtag #CoronaJihad going viral on social media. Sections of the hyper-vocal, privileged Indian middle-class, along with frenzied nationalist media houses let no opportunity pass to demonize its minorities.

However, what came as a surprise was that along with the stigmatization of migrant workers, ethnic minorities and Muslims, health care workers too faced intense hostility worldwide. Already facing a severe lack of resources including no or few Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) making them even more vulnerable to infection, they are now facing the additional hazard of being labelled as agents of the pandemic.

While on the one hand, medical workers are being labelled as ‘warriors’ and ‘super heroes’ with orchestrated events to show gratitude, on the other hand, they are being hunted down, mobbed, and evicted from their homes. India went a step further, and did a grandiose display of felicitating health care workers by having the armed forces fly past fighter jets, shower flower petals aerially and have their military bands perform outside state hospitals.

This article focuses specifically on the gendering of the organization of the health care sector, which reflects wider binaries of masculine/feminine, cure/care, science/affect.

Continue reading The gendered myth of the front-line care giver as ‘warrior’: Panchali Ray