Civil Disobedience under Democracy: The Case of Boycott of Centralised Compulsory Attendance in JNU: Tejal Khanna

Guest post by TEJAL KHANNA

It is often advised that civil disobedience in the form of breaking a law must not be practiced under a democracy. It is because democracy by giving the space for open discussion prevents a situation wherein people are compelled to think of civil disobedience. Moreover, if citizens develop faith in civil disobedience then that only undermines the rule of law. Such an act doesn’t strengthen democracy but rather helps in diminishing its ethos. People must be discouraged to break laws because in a democracy, it is they who elect their representatives through free and fair elections. These representatives then make laws to which open disobedience must not be practiced. Citizens can also vote for change of leadership in the subsequent election cycle, if they feel their representatives have been incompetent. However, while these provisions fulfil the conditions of a well functioning procedural democracy, what recourse do citizens have, when their representatives don’t act in the interest of the governed continuously but function in an autocratic manner? What if laws are made without following the spirit of democracy? Does that really result in making a substantive democracy?

Continue reading “Civil Disobedience under Democracy: The Case of Boycott of Centralised Compulsory Attendance in JNU: Tejal Khanna”

Jignesh Mevani, The Meltdown of Modi-Men and Dadhichi’s Bones

[ This post is based on updates posted by me on my Facebook wall ]

Jignesh Mevani. Photograph by Siddharaj Solanki, HT (Hindustan Times) File Photo, accessed from the HT website

A great kerfuffle has ensued ever since the recently elected independent MLA from Vadgam, Gujarat and Rashtriya Dalit Adhikar Manch activist Jignesh Mevani gave an interview in which he had some choice things to say about the Prime Minister and BJP leader Narendra Modi. Mr. Mevani made some positive and gentle suggestions, to the effect that because Mr. Modi has stopped being relevant, has not delivered on even one of the promises made by him, he should retire, proceed towards the Himalayas, and in the phrase that has caused the greatest commotion, ‘melt his bones’.

Predictably, Mr. Modi’s personal broadcasting service, known as Republic TV has kicked up the greatest fuss. Arnab Goswami has been especially indignant, and he was joined in his rage by BJP spokesperson, the orotund television commentator and historical photo-shop scam artist, Mr. Sambit Patra. Mr. Mevani offered a robust and dignified  refusal to apologize for what he said about Mr. Modi, when Republic TV demanded that he do so. Continue reading “Jignesh Mevani, The Meltdown of Modi-Men and Dadhichi’s Bones”

An open letter to Brinda Karat: why do female supporters of the Kerala CPIM spew such venom at Hadiya?

Dear Comrade

I can hardly describe the joy and relief I felt reading your piece on the Hadiya case in the Hindu yesterday. By now I am nearly deaf from the cacophony of misogyny, islamophobia, and sheer short-sighted rage that CPM supporters on Facebook are unleashing against this young woman.

Your voice of sanity, Comrade, is therefore a great restorative. If not for your writing, one could have well thought that the CPM was nothing more than a bunch of short sighted, power hungry, strategisers, whose total lack of ethics and values is covered up by a vapid, outdated rationalism and an equally problematic liberalism. You refuse to condemn Hadiya for choosing Islam. You acknowledge that she is brave. You unequivocally reject the father and other minions of patriarchy. You rightly criticise state patriarchy evident in the Supreme Court. Unlike many CPM supporters here, you have no illusions about the times we live in; you are clearly aware that the NIA is not something which will spare us if we stay good. Importantly, you put paid to the idea that the High Court judgement that sanctioned her illegal custody was justified — an idea assiduously nurtured by certain public figures allied with the CPM against religious Muslims. Comrade, thank you again for being so forthright and in the face of snarling islamophobes in your own ranks actually gunning for the voice you raised against her illegal custody long back.

Continue reading “An open letter to Brinda Karat: why do female supporters of the Kerala CPIM spew such venom at Hadiya?”

Modi says the economy isn’t so bad; He’s right – it’s worse

by Samarth Bansal and Aman Sethi

On October 4, Prime Minister Narendra Modi offered a robust defence of his government’s management of the economy, shortly after the Reserve Bank of India lowered its Gross Value Added (GVA) growth estimates for the current fiscal year from 7.3% to 6.7%.

Since then, the ruling party has been pains to push a positive narrative on the economy,  extent of emailing clips of the speech to journalists who write about the economy.

So, what is the current state of the economy? Here’s a reality check.

How many jobs has the economy created?

Modi said: “Upto March 2014, the subscriber base of the Employees Provident Fund Organization (EPFO) stood at 3.26 crore. Over the last three years, the numbers increased to 4.8 crore. Some people forget that this number can’t increased without a corresponding increase in employment.”

Reality Check: EPFO numbers have increased, but this doesn’t necessarily mean that total employment has increased. In July this year, this jump in EPFO subscribers was attributed to a government amnesty scheme which allowed firms to come clean on their actual staff strength without being penalized. In a detailed note, Mahesh Vyas, Managing Director and CEO of the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE), explained why using EPFO data as a proxy for job creation is “fraught with danger.”

Referring to the jump in the subscriber base, Vyas wrote: “This is not new employment. It is merely enrollment of employed persons into EPFO.”

Continue reading “Modi says the economy isn’t so bad; He’s right – it’s worse”

Preserve Kerala as the Shining Example of Democracy for India : Prof. Satish Deshpande writes to the Chief Minister of Kerala

(This is the text of the open letter from Prof. Satish Deshpande to the Chief Minister of Kerala on the Hadiya issue. Satish’s work Contemporary India, translated as Samakalika India, has been hugely influential in shaping the progressive understanding of Hindutva nationalism and communal hatred in Kerala.)

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The Honourable Chief Minister of Kerala

Shri Pinarayi Vijayan

6th October, 2017

Respected Sir,

Ever since I first came to Kerala in 1981 to study at the Centre for Development Studies (CDS) at Thiruvanathapuram, I have been a committed supporter of everything that the left tradition of your great state has achieved by way of democratic innovations in governance and social practice. Even today, I believe that Kerala continues to be a shining example in many spheres where the rest of India lags far behind.

I was therefore shocked to read about the Hadiya case and the tacit and explicit state support that underwrite her virtual house arrest today. I am told that the man that Hadiya has chosen to marry and the organisation with which he is associated may have a questionable past. Whatever be the truth of this matter, the fact is that an adult citizen’s personal choices in matters like marriage cannot be undone by the state no matter how ill-considered that choice may appear to others. Moreover, in the current climate, it is surely not irrelevant that the religion in question is Islam – it is highly unlikely that this case would have attracted any attention if Hadiya had chosen to convert to some other religion.

It is highly embarrassing – to the say the least – that a government led by a party that can claim to have played a major role in transforming Kerala society for the better is today seen to be siding with the reactionary forces.

I appeal to you to use the power vested in you by the people of Kerala to end this travesty of justice and ensure that Hadiya is left free to live her life as she chooses.

With best wishes,

Satish Deshpande

(Professor of Sociology, Delhi University)

The Gravity of Newton : Rituparna Sengupta

This is a guest post by RITUPARNA SENGUPTA

 

Amit V Masurkar’s recently-released film Newton explores facets of Indian democracy at its most vulnerable. For these times of ‘nationalist’ bravado, this is a courageous topic.  The film is so named because it adopts for the most part, the point of view of its protagonist, Newton (Nutan) Kumar (Rajkummar Rao, thank you once again!) who resists corruption and hypocrisy at home and work. Continue reading “The Gravity of Newton : Rituparna Sengupta”

Free Hadiya March on 3 Oct: Citizens for Hadiya

On October 3, students, human rights activists, muslim-dalit-adivasi-bahujan organisations from all over India are converging in Thiruvananthapuram to march for the freedom of the twenty-four-year-old Hadiya, who is under virtual house arrest in the home of her father, Mr Asokan after the shocking annulment of her marriage to her chosen partner by the Kerala HC. The march will begin from the Martyr’s Column, Palayam, at 11 AM and end at the Kerala State Government Secretariat junction. Through this we hope to draw the attention of the public to the grave dangers posed by these decisions of the judiciary and by the shameful silence and criminal inaction of the Kerala government , which claims leftist and secular credentials. We invite all to participate in this march and strengthen the hands of those who are fighting to undo this unspeakable violation of justice to an Indian citizen and the gross attack on the fundamentals of Indian democracy. We also request you to kindly change your Facebook profile pictures to Citizens for Hadiya and/or write supporting posts.

Continue reading “Free Hadiya March on 3 Oct: Citizens for Hadiya”