Category Archives: Capitalism

Farming the Future, Farming As Future

Today is the last day of the dreadful year that 2020 was – not only because of the pandemic but it has been a year full of the most vicious attacks on dissent and protests. It has also seen wanton arrests of those who raised their voices against the myriad injustices of this regime. The year that began with the epic struggle against the CAA-NRC ends while another epic struggle – that of the farmers – is going on. This post is dedicated to them and to the future of the farmers in struggle.

In the video above, Narayana Reddy, a farmer talks about farming. Having run away from home at a young age and worked as a cleaner earning Rs 40 a month, Reddy gradually got better jobs and saved some money with which he bought land for farming. Listen to his brief account here and you will realize that this charismatic and much celebrated farmer started off farming exactly the way it was understood in those days – that is to say, with standard ‘Green Revolution’ techniques.  In five to six years, Narayana Reddy tells us, he became a spectacularly successful model farmer but something was amiss. Despite high yields, I was continuously losing money, he says. The story, with minor variations, was the same as that of Green Revolution farmers in Punjab: a few years of prosperity, accompanied by huge losses due to rising input costs (tractors, fuel, fertilizers, high-yielding variety seeds, pesticides, electricity run pumps), and rapidly deteriorating soil quality, depleting water table, disappearing of locally suitable crops.

There was no historical destiny or necessity in all this. Major US foundations like Ford and Rockefeller Foundations were involved in pushing this new way of doing ‘industrial’ agriculture developed by Norman Borlaug. I am not suggesting that this was a conspiracy but it was certainly something that took away control from the hands of the peasants and in the name of modernizing agriculture, made them dependent on big corporations (backed by the state) who were lurking behind this innocent-sounding rhetoric of increased productivity and prosperity. With the new farm laws, we are currently facing a fresh round of attacks on the autonomy and livelihooods of the farmers – and this time the government can’t pretend to any innocence in this regard.

So let us ask an elementary question: Why do people work and produce? The answer obviously is because they want to live well and live better in this world, here and now.

Continue reading Farming the Future, Farming As Future

Pandemic Lowers India’s Level of Democracy

THIS GOVERNMENT HAS STIGMATISED THE VERY IDEA OF PROTEST, YET IT IS STRUGGLING TO MANAGE THE MASS UPSURGE AGAINST THE FARM LAWS.

Parliament Closed

For nearly a month, lakhs of farmers have staged sit-ins on various points along the border shared by the national capital and neighbouring states. Their peaceful movement, which is drawing support from farmers across the country, is meant to persuade the government to repeal the farm-related laws that it pushed through Parliament in September.

The farmers have refused to accept the government’s claim that the new laws would benefit them. They insist that these laws would dismantle state procurement and open up agriculture to contract farming, which would only help big corporations. They have also been insisting that corporations will amass essential food commodities and manipulate stocks and prices, for the government has also revoked stocking limits.

The three laws were initially introduced as ordinances this summer while the Covid-19 pandemic was raging and the country was still segregated into red, green and amber zones. Thereafter, they were passed in Parliament without discussion or debate. The manner of their introduction—rather, imposition—threw all democratic norms to the winds and so farmers see no reason to trust the intention behind them either.

Farmers do not look forward to a time when large retail chains would dictate terms and impose conditions on them. They rightly say that these laws would usher in an attack on the right to food security of working people and escalate food prices, which would hurt all consumers.

The immediate response of the government to the concerns of farmers was to repress and distort their movement. Not a day has passed without fresh abuse hurled at them. Starting from “Khalistani” to “Urban Naxal” to “anti-national” to “fake farmers”, every trick in the book has been tried to stigmatise them. Nor have the authorities made serious efforts to stop those who are maligning this historic peaceful protest.

( Read the full article here)

Farm Laws, Farmer Protests and Agrarian Crisis : Dr Jaya mehta

 

Dr Jaya Mehta, economist and activist, has been associated with the Joshi-Adhikari Institute of Social Studies, author of many books who coordinated an all India study of the Agrarian Crisis delivered a special lecture on ‘Farm Laws, Farmer Protests and Agrarian Crisis’ on 27 th December 2020.
Abstract of talk :
The reforms in agricultural marketing contained in the three farm laws were first announced by the finance minister on 15th May 2020 as Prime Minister’s relief package for the people. When Covid and lock-down had created crisis in the entire economy, migrant workers were walking hundreds of kilometers to reach home and the majority of households desperately needed state support and protection, the Modi government chose to withdraw state intervention and deregulate market forces in agriculture to leave people in complete disarray. After the controversial monsoon session of parliament, the reforms to deregulate market became laws.

Continue reading Farm Laws, Farmer Protests and Agrarian Crisis : Dr Jaya mehta

कृषि क़ानूनों पर नयी सरकारी किताब में बड़े बड़े दावों के अलावा सफ़ेद झूठ भी : राजिंदर चौधरी

Guest post by RAJINDER CHAUDHARY

हाल ही में मोदी सरकार ने हिंदी, अंग्रेजी एवं पंजाबी में 106 पन्नों की एक किताब कृषि क़ानूनों के पक्ष में निकाली है.  मोदी ने यह भी कहा है कि किसान आन्दोलन जारी रखने से पहले इस को ज़रूर पढ़ें. मोदी की बात मान कर हम ने इस को पढ़ा. सब से पहले तो यह देख कर धक्का लगा कि 106 पन्नों की किताब में नए कृषि क़ानूनों वाले अध्याय में मात्र 28 पृष्ठ हैं और इन 28 पन्नों में भी मोदी के भाषणों, मोदी सरकार के कृषि कार्यों और मोदी द्वारा गुजरात में किये कामों का विवरण शामिल है. इस लिए इन 28 पन्नों में भी सीधे सीधे नए कृषि क़ानूनों पर तो मात्र 13 पेज हैं. इस में भी बहुत दोहराव है, एक ही बात को बार बार कहा गया है.  शेष पुस्तिका तो मोदी सरकार द्वारा किसानों के हित में किये गए कामों के दावों पर ही केन्द्रित है. यहाँ हम मोदी द्वारा गुजरात और केंद्र में कृषि और किसानों के लिए किये गए सारे दावों की पड़ताल करने की बजाय नए क़ानूनों के पक्ष में किये गए दावों की ही पड़ताल करेंगे. (यहाँ पर कई स्थानों पर दो तरह के पृष्ठ नंबर दिए गए हैं. पहले पीडीएफ फ़ाइल के और फिर छपी हुई पुस्तिका के; अगर एक पृष्ठ नंबर है तो वो पीडीएफ का है). इन का संक्षिप्त विवरण इस प्रकार है.  Continue reading कृषि क़ानूनों पर नयी सरकारी किताब में बड़े बड़े दावों के अलावा सफ़ेद झूठ भी : राजिंदर चौधरी

Mass Politics and ‘Populism’ in the World of Indian Languages

Image courtesy Netherlands Institute for Multiparty Democracy

The label ‘populism’ has acquired unprecedented currency lately and is used to indiscriminately describe such a wide range of poliical figures and political tendencies that it seems to have lost all conceptual meaning. In the best of times, it was always a slippery concept that has been linked to democracy at one end and fascism at the other. On the one hand, it is seen as the democratic ‘excess’ that escapes the attempt of liberal-representative institutions to rein it in; on the other, it is seen as being of a piece with the fascist resort to antipolitical demagoguery and the rhetoric of the (national) ‘underdog’ oppressed by an elite (usually with international links).
The way the term is used these days to describe everyone from a Donald Trump, a Recep Erdogan or a Narendra Modi on the one hand, to the late Hugo Chavez, Evo Morales, Rafael Correa or even Bernie Sanders or Podemos and Syriza, on the other, defies all logic. What possible common denominator can one find between such diverse figures and political formations? That common denominator is simply ‘the people’ or the ‘underdog’ that they invoke – even if in completely different ways.

Continue reading Mass Politics and ‘Populism’ in the World of Indian Languages

Stand by farmers – boycott Adani and Reliance

The farmers unions have called for a boycott of all products of Adani and Reliance, the two corporates closest to the Modi-Shah regime and which stand to benefit the most from the opening up of the farm sector to agribusiness, which will not only destroy farmers’ livelihoods but affect food security for everyone.  The new laws have been drafted to facilitate ease of doing business for these corporations, eliminating safeguards for both farmers and consumers.

This post is simply a quick, not comprehensive, list of products we could all boycott (compiled with help from Anindita Bose and Rohit).

And just a reminder – the rapacious Adani corporation is wreaking havoc on Australia’s ecology too, and there is a huge people’s campaign there against Adani – #StopAdani . Continue reading Stand by farmers – boycott Adani and Reliance

किसान आंदोलन की माँगों और 8 तारीख के भारत बंद के समर्थन में जारी बयान

( न्यू सोशलिस्ट इनीशिएटिवदलित लेखक संघअखिल भारतीय दलित लेखिका मंचप्रगतिशील लेखक संघजन संस्कृति मंचइप्टासंगवारीप्रतिरोध का सिनेमा और जनवादी लेखक संघ द्वारा किसान आंदोलन की माँगों और  तारीख के भारत बंद के समर्थन में जारी बयान  )

Image : Courtesy Reuters

तीन जनद्रोही कृषि-क़ानूनों के खिलाफ़ किसानों के ऐतिहासिक आन्दोलन का साथ दें!

केन्द्र सरकार के कार्पोरेटपरस्त एजेण्डा के विरोध में अपनी आवाज़ बुलन्द करें!

दिसम्बर के भारत बंद को सफल बनाएं!

 भारत का किसान – जिसके संघर्षों और कुर्बानियों का एक लम्बा इतिहास रहा है – आज एक ऐतिहासिक मुक़ाम पर खड़ा है।

हज़ारों-लाखों की तादाद में उसके नुमाइन्दे राजधानी दिल्ली की विभिन्न सरहदों पर धरना दिए हुए हैं और उन तीन जनद्रोही क़ानूनों की वापसी की मांग कर रहे हैं जिनके ज़रिए इस हुकूमत ने एक तरह से उनकी तबाही और बरबादी के वॉरंट पर दस्तख़त किए हैं। अपनी आवाज़ को और बुलंद करने के लिए किसान संगठनों की तरफ़ से 8 दिसम्बर को भारत बंद का ऐलान किया गया है।

सरकार भले ही यह दावा करे कि ये तीनों क़ानून – जिन्हें महामारी के दिनों में पहले अध्यादेश के ज़रिए लागू किया गया था और फिर तमाम जनतांत्रिक परंपराओं को ताक़ पर रखते हुए संसद में पास किया गया – किसानों की भलाई के लिए हैं, लेकिन यह बात बहुत साफ़ हो चुकी है कि इनके ज़रिए राज्य द्वारा अनाज की खरीद की प्रणाली को समाप्त करने और इस तरह बड़े कॉर्पोरेट घरानों के लिए ठेका आधारित खेती करने तथा आवश्यक खाद्य सामग्री की बड़ी मात्रा में जमाखोरी करने की राह हमवार की जा रही है।

लोगों के सामने यह भी साफ़ है कि यह महज़ किसानों का सवाल नहीं बल्कि मेहनतकश अवाम के लिए अनाज की असुरक्षा का सवाल भी है। अकारण नहीं कि किसानों के इस अभूतपूर्व आन्दोलन के साथ खेतमज़दूरों, औद्योगिक मज़दूरों के संगठनों तथा नागरिक समाज के तमाम लोगों, संगठनों ने अपनी एकजुटता प्रदर्शित की है।

 जनतंत्र और संवाद हमेशा साथ चलते हैं। लेकिन आज यह दिख रहा है कि मौजूदा निज़ाम की ओर से जिस ‘न्यू इंडिया’ के आगमन की बात की जा रही है, उसके तहत जनतंत्र के नाम पर अधिनायकवाद की स्थापना का खुला खेल चल रहा है।

आज की तारीख में सरकार किसान संगठनों के साथ वार्ता करने के लिए मजबूर हुई है, मगर इसे असंभव करने की हर मुमकिन कोशिश सरकार की तरफ़ से अब तक की जाती रही है। उन पर लाठियां बरसायी गयीं, उनके रास्ते में तमाम बाधाएं खड़ी की गयी, यहां तक कि सड़कें भी काटी गयीं। यह किसानों का अपना साहस और अपनी जीजीविषा ही थी कि उन्होंने इन कोशिशों को नाकाम किया और अपने शांतिपूर्ण संघर्ष के काफ़िलों को लेकर राजधानी की सरहदों तक पहुंच गए।

किसानों के इस आन्दोलन के प्रति मुख्यधारा के मीडिया का रवैया कम विवादास्पद नहीं रहा। न केवल उसने आन्दोलन के वाजिब मुद्दों को लेकर चुप्पी साधे रखी बल्कि सरकार तथा उसकी सहमना दक्षिणपंथी ताक़तों द्वारा आन्दोलन को बदनाम करने की तमाम कोशिशों का भी जम कर साथ दिया। आंदोलन को विरोधी राजनीतिक पार्टी द्वारा प्रायोजित बताया गया, किसानों को खालिस्तान समर्थक तक बताया गया।

दरअसल, विगत कुछ सालों यही सिलसिला आम हो चला है। हर वह आवाज़ जो सरकारी नीतियों का विरोध करती हो – भले ही वह नागरिकता क़ानून हो, सांप्रदायिक दंगे हों, नोटबंदी हो – उसे बदनाम करने और उसका विकृतिकरण करने की साज़िशें रची गयीं। किसानों का आंदोलन भी इससे अछूता नहीं है।

यह सकारात्मक है कि इन तमाम बाधाओं के बावजूद किसान शांतिपूर्ण संघर्ष की अपनी राह पर डटे हैं।

हम सामाजिक-सांस्कृतिक संगठन किसानों के इस अभूतपूर्व आन्दोलन के प्रति अपनी एकजुटता प्रगट करते हैं। हम जनता तथा जनता के संगठनों, पार्टियों से अपील करते हैं कि वे इस आन्दोलन के साथ जुड़ें और 8 दिसम्बर के भारत बंद को सफल बनाकर केंद्र सरकार को एक स्पष्ट संदेश दें।

हम सरकार से यह मांग करते हैं कि वह अपना अड़ियल रवैया छोड़े और तीन जनद्रोही कृषि-क़ानूनों को रद्द करने का ऐलान करे।

 हम आंदोलनरत किसानों से भी अपील करते हैं कि वे शांति के अपने रास्ते पर अडिग रहें।

जीत न्याय की होगी ! जीत सत्य की होगी !! जीत हमारी होगी !!

न्यू सोशलिस्ट इनीशिएटिव   दलित लेखक संघ   अखिल भारतीय दलित लेखिका मंच   प्रगतिशील लेखक संघ   जन संस्कृति मंच   इप्टा   संगवारी   प्रतिरोध का सिनेमा   जनवादी लेखक संघ

The Farmers’ Struggle and the Agrarian Crisis

 

 

Famers’ struggle, image courtesy Scroll.in

Not only did the Modi government not pay any heed to the demands raised by the massive Kisan Mukti March of November 2018, it in fact, went on to surreptitiously promulgate three ordinances, in June this year, that go directly against everything that the farmers want. Indeed, they seek to hand over agriculture to the corporate sector – which will effectively mean destruction for a large mass of farmers. Naturally they are up in arms in what is perhaps the most determined struggle of the last four decades. The protests have been going on in many states since September 2020 and have reached the capital only now.

The three ordinances – now laws – that are currently pushing farmers into a ‘do or die’ struggle in different parts of the country, have been widely written about and their different dimensions explained (for instance, here, here and here). We will therefore not go into their analysis in this article. The ordinances are: (i) Farmers Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Ordinance, 2020, (ii) The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Ordinance, 2020, and (iii) The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Ordinance, 2020. Farmers’ organizations opposing the ordinances claim that they have been very misleadingly named so as to give the impression that they empower the farmers;  they suggest the ordinances might be more accurately renamed the “APMC Bypass Bill”, “Contract Farming Promotion Bill” and the “Food Hoarding by Corporates Bill” respectively.

The long and short of these ordinances is quite nicely summed up in these suggested names – for what the three together aim to achieve is the dismantling of state procurement (though on paper it may continue to remain), and thereby open agriculture to contract farming for big corporations, allowing them to corner essential food commodities in as large quantities as they want. The entire attempt, it is not hard to see, is to open out the agriculture sector to giant retail chains like Reliance – which is why it is necessary to remove the limits on purchase and storage of essential commodities. 

Contract farming, already happening informally at individual levels, once it is made the norm, is certainly going to seriously compromise food security for all. For if an agribusiness firm eyeing quick and massive profits wants farmers to change from essential food production to some other crop, it will decide what will be produced. And of course, what gets you quick profits is not what is sold as essential food item in the domestic or local market but it could be anything from potatoes for chips to maize to manufacture  ‘alternative fuel’ for US consumers. So entire cropping patterns can change, endangering our food sovereignty as a people.

The farmers, in a word, are not just fighting a battle for their own survival but one where the survival of all of us is at stake. If the design visualized in the three ordinances comes to pass, it will also lead to the complete destruction of lakhs of people who earn their livelihoods by selling fruit and vegetables – for those too will be produced by farmers under contract farming with corporations which will sell them at their retail stores. Prices for millions of consumers too will then be determined by these giant retail chains.

But these issues have only come up now. Why have the farmers/ peasants been agitating for the last couple of years?

Rewind to November 2018 Continue reading The Farmers’ Struggle and the Agrarian Crisis

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 )

‘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