Free the Maruti Workers: Maruti Suzuki Workers Union

 

Guest Post by Maruti Suzuki Workers’ Union

[This is a statement and an appeal by the Maruti Suzuki Workers Union condemning the unjust handing down of a life sentence to 13 workers of the Maruti Suzuki Manesar Factory for a ‘murder’ (of an HR Manager) that the prosecution could not prove that they had committed. Here too, the prosecution, and the judgement, relies on a chimera, ‘the reputation of make-in-india’ to justify a harsh punishment. Those who have watched this space will recognize that this recourse to figures of speech in the absence of evidence is a familiar move. It has happened before – to satisfy the hunger of a ‘collective conscience’ when a so-called ‘temple of democracy’ was attacked. This time it has been invoked to defend the ‘fake-in-India temple that houses the deity of a rising GDP’, which would of course otherwise be besieged by insurgent workers.

This text contains a hyperlink to a detailed reading and rebuttal of the prosecution’s arguments, which demonstrates how money and muscle power can always be an adequate replacement for legal acumen in the State of Haryana. Please do follow that link. For the further edification of our readers, we append a short video interview by Aman Sethi of the Hindustan Times of the special public prosecutor, which spins some imaginative legal theory and also radically updates our sense of class struggle. Please do have the patience to view that video. We promise that this will be rewarded. – Kafila Admin.]

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Hail the Students’ Struggle for its Victory in the Battle against Corporate Publishers : New Socialist Initiative

Guest Post by New Socialist Initiative (Delhi Chapter)

On 9 March 2017 three well-established academic corporate publishing houses, Oxford University Press, Cambridge University Press and Taylor and Francis withdrew their copyright suit filed in the High Court against Delhi University and Rameshwari Photocopy Shop, a shop stationed at the Delhi School of Economics campus in Delhi University licensed by the University to carry out photocopying work. The suit that was filed in August 2012 on the grounds that photocopying material from books published by the above three publishers by university students, particularly in the compilation of coursepacks, constituted copyright infringement and revenue loss to the publishers. Right from the beginning it was clear this case was treated as a test case to instate a licensing regime, much like one that exists in the US and other First World countries.
Being the absolute primary constituency to be impacted by such a case and its possible outcomes, students of Delhi University were amongst the first to take up the battle against some of the most powerful publishing houses in academia. The ‘Campaign to Save D.School Photocopy Shop’ soon became the ‘Association of Students for Equitable Access to Knowledge’ (ASEAK), reflecting the growing politicisation of the student community on the issue of the knowledge commons in order to resist an increasing attempt across the world to create a market out of it where it didn’t as yet exist. This can be seen in the case of Costa Rica as well where there was an attempt to make photocopying illegal, a move that was successfully opposed on a massive scale by students.
The students of Delhi University, organised as ASEAK, opposed the move through a range of mechanisms, mobilising students from class to class, organising public meetings, taking out protest rallies, campaigning against these publishers at the annual World Book Fair held in New Delhi, influencing public opinion through writing in newspapers, and last but not the least, taking up the legal battle in the courts. NSI hails the struggle of the students that brought to the centre of the debate questions of equity and justice within the arena of production and distribution of knowledge resources, challenging the private property regime sought to be implemented in the sphere of knowledge production by these big academic corporate publishing houses. 
For the last few years the primary site of the battle has been in the High Court at New Delhi. The publishers have received repeated blow after blow in this process as well, leading to their final withdrawal of the suit altogether. The win is a big victory and testament to the struggle of the students, backed by a legal team that has been seminal to the victory, along with support from the academic community. The case, that attempted to strike a ‘balance’ between private profits of the publishers and the rights of students to access materials in the pursuit of their education, has dealt a blow to precisely such a misconception that the two ‘interests’ are in fact of equal concern.
Along with students, who assert their right over the materials they access as part of their fundamental right to education, scholars, often the authors of these materials, have equally come out to state that there is no better reward for their work as intellectuals, as to be read by as many students as can get hold of their work, photocopied or otherwise. The emphasis of the corporate publishers in asserting absolute ownership over the works they publish, in a rare instance where the labour of writing a book is provided at no cost to the publishers, borne by universities, students’ fees and taxpayers’ money instead, is shameful and needs to be rejected at all cost.
NSI congratulates the students, lawyers, academics and concerned citizens who persisted in their resistance against the bullying tactics of big academic corporate publishing houses and calls on the academic community to engage with new ways of producing and sharing knowledge so as to create equitable, just and democratic structures of knowledge production.
EDUCATION OVER COPYRIGHT! KNOWLEDGE OVER PROFIT!

Gender Justice In Naga Society – Naga Feminist Reflections: Dolly Kikon

DOLLY KIKON in raiot.in

Dolly Kikon points out that Article 371 (A) is breached also in the ongoing coal mining operations and the oil exploration negotiations in Nagaland. Naga politicians, landowners, village councils, and business families have all interpreted the provision for their benefit to mine for minerals and not be held accountable for the environmental degradation. But it is only when women may enter the decision-making process (and potentially reverse such policies) that Article 371 suddenly becomes sacrosanct.

What is the meaning of gender? What is the meaning of Justice? Which comes first in Naga society and how do we understand it? Like many nationalist societies around the world, the issue of gender justice and rights have remained marginal for a long time. We were told that issues like women’s rights or gender justice could wait till the Naga people gained their freedom. In that context, what did it mean to bestow any kinds of rights on women in Naga society? When terms like gender ‘rights’ and ‘equality’ remains extremely resentful terms for a larger section of powerful Naga traditional bodies, they become meaningless words. I ask these questions in relation to the opposition against 33% reservation that escalated into a violent protest and brought the entire state of Nagaland to a standstill recently. If Naga customary law is seen as the foundation of justice, the exclusion of women from these powerful decision making-bodies negates the entire notion that these are pillars of justice. The Indian state and the male traditional bodies alike are responsible for excluding the Naga women from all spheres of representative political processes. Article 371 (A) is a prime example of the patriarchal nature of the Indian constitution that bestows the Naga male bodies to have full authority and power to interpret customary affairs covering social, religious, and criminal cases.

After a Nuit Debout (night standing up), We Wake Up with a Political Strike: Charles Reeve

Guest post by CHARLES REEVE

[Note from Livia Bocadacce: During 2016, social movements in France and in India have been huge and tough. In both countries, youth, workers, students, oppressed people fought against governments who disregarded their desires of freedom and decent life, and have faced violent repression. But in France, we don’t hear about Indian struggles such as Una Dalits’ movement or Hyderabad and JNU students’ protests. In India, the very strong French movement of last spring, called “Nuits Debout”, has aroused very poor coverage. Because we believe we have to learn from the crossed experiences of fighting, because we refuse a globalization only based on trade and forced migrations, because we hope a globalization that could encourage the circulation of critical thinking and collectiveaction repertoire, we proposed this article on the Nuits debout to Kafila. Hoping it will generate debates and further interests. ]

Nuit Debout, image courtesy gaucherevolutionnaire.fr
Nuit Debout, image courtesy gaucherevolutionnaire.fr

After a Nuit debout (night standing up), we wake up with a political strike (1)

Living in a moment is always pleasanter than writing about it— it’s always risky to draw conclusions about situations still evolving or to speculate about what they will become. Going on for now over three months [when this post was written – AN], Nuit debout is a new kind of spontaneous, social movement along the lines of « Occupy » and Spain’s « M15 » movement. It has taken on an unanticipated size and importance, all the while developing characteristic features of French society. I won’t go back over its development or its collective spirit. The two texts already published in the May and June issues of the Brooklyn Rail, the first by Anouk Colombani and the second by Ferdinand Cazalis et Emilien Bernard (CQFD, n°143, mai 2016) have provided sufficient detail and clarity to let us grasp the essence and dynamism of these mobilizations.

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Revisiting the demonetization survey: Juhi Tyagi

Guest Post by JUHI TYAGI

In light of the recent book, I Am A Troll: Inside the Secret World of the BJP’s Digital Diary authored by journalist Swati Chaturvedi which describes the working of the BJP’s media’s cell to systematically undermine dissenting opinions, we need to revisit other, seemingly innocuous, government media campaigns such as the demonetization survey and its use as a tool in bending into shape public opinion.

The demonetization survey was officially launched on 22nd November 2016 on the NM app by the government. Its purpose was to receive feedback from the people themselves on the validity of withdrawing 86 percent of the currency in circulation to address two problems: that of black money and counterfeit currency. The survey consisted of nine questions, with the tenth providing space for sharing suggestions. The questions dealt with people’s beliefs about the existence of black money in India and on its need to be eliminated. On their opinions of the government’s efforts against corruption, and more particularly, on the effectiveness of demonetization in ridding society of black money, all corruption and terrorism while creating opportunities for higher education, health care and affordable housing for all.

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The Indian Newspaper Industry – Response to Times of India Editorial: JAC for Implementation of Majithia Wage Board

The following is a response by M J Pandey on behalf of the JOINT ACTION COMMITTEE FOR IMPLEMENTATION OF MAJITHIA WAGE BOARD, to a Times of India editorial calling for “reasonable tax and labour policies”.

With reference to the unsigned editorial ‘Indian Newspaper industry: Red Ink splashed across the bottom line’ (Times of India, Jan 19, 2017), a case is being made out for concessions to the newspaper industry on the grounds that it is in the doldrums and is beleaguered by various burdens, including that of wage board wages, GST, DAVP, etc.

Without mentioning the recent illegal closure of six editions of The Hindustan Times as the obvious peg for this, the editorial seeks a range of concessions – from a part-discontinuance of the wage board for newspaper employees, to subsidies on advertising and tax.

Clearly, what the newspaper industry has lost in judicial review, it is now seeking to stealthily recoup through administrative fiat.

Under the fig leaf of “freedom of speech”, the editorial makes a number of indefensible propositions. However, we will confine ourselves to the empiricial terrain of the Wage Boards and wish to make the following points:

That a three-judge bench of the Supreme Court headed by the then Chief Justice of India P Sathasivam had on Feb 7, 2014 (ABP Pvt Ltd and Anr vs Union of India and Ors), upheld ‘the constitutional validity of the Act and the Amendment Act, 1974’ (referring to the Working Journalists Act, 1955) and rejected the contention of improper constitution of the Wage Boards, irregularity in the procedure adopted by the Majithia Wage Board and that Majithia Wage Boards had overlooked the relevant aspects and considered extraneous factors while drafting the recommendations.

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NHRC indicts Chhattisgarh police: WSS statement

STATEMENT BY WOMEN AGAINST SEXUAL VIOLENCE AND STATE REPRESSION

WSS welcomes the decisive intervention of the National Human Rights Commission in  cases of sexual violence against Adivasi women by police and security forces engaged in anti-Maoist operations in Chhattisgarh. Validating our assertion that sexual violence is being used as a weapon of war in Bastar,  the Commission has held the State government “vicariously liable” for gross violations of human rights.

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