Category Archives: Debates

‘No More Poor People In a Rich Country’ – What Will Peru’s Left Victory Mean?

Supporters of Left Presidential candidate Pedro Castillo on the streets, image courtesy Reuters

Supporters of Left Presidential candidate Pedro Castillo take to the streets, image courtesy BBC and Reuters

It seems quite clear from the latest reports coming in from Peru that the Left-wing candidate Pedro Castillo is all set to win in what has been described as the most polarized election till date. With over 99 percent of the ballots counted, Castillo had taken a lead of approximately 80, 000 votes (50. 2 of the total) over his Right-wing rival Keiko Fujimori. The counting process, reports say, has already been considerably slowed down as ballots seem to be still arriving from abroad as well as from the remote rural areas. Votes of expatriates arriving from abroad are mostly right wing votes for Fujimori whereas the ones from the rural areas are likely to be overwhelmingly for Castillo. There also seem to be a huge number of contested votes that might need to be recounted, further slowing down the process.

Continue reading ‘No More Poor People In a Rich Country’ – What Will Peru’s Left Victory Mean?

Who Feels the Pain of the Injured?

India’s most prominent sports and entertainment figures have to traverse a long distance to achieve true greatness.

Who feels the Pain of the Injured?

Representational Image. Image Courtesy: Freepik

The racial bias in the American education system came under the scanner recently from an unexpected quarter. The occasion was a series of events to mark the 100th anniversary of an organised massacre of Blacks in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in 1921. Mobs of violent white supremacists had destroyed the prosperous black Greenwood neighbourhood in a well-planned and predetermined manner, many aided and abetted by city officials, who provided arsonists with weapons. Actor-filmmaker Tom Hanks, regarded as an American cultural icon, underlined the conspiracy of silence in the school curriculum around this tragic race massacre in which 300 Black people died, and 10,000 became destitute or homeless.

In his essay, “You Should Learn the Truth about Tulsa Race Massacre”, published this month in the New York Times, Hanks unpacks the systematic cover-up of the massacre and other instances of racial bias and discrimination that the school education system papers over. He writes that white teachers and school administrators prioritise white feelings over Black experiences, which helps them omit “volatile” topics and preserve the status quo. Hanks has not limited his focus to the racial bias in the American education system but admits the role of Bollywood in shaping “what is history and what is forgotten”.

Have the icons of entertainment in India ever taken a leaf out of Hank’s book and searched their soul about the exclusions, discriminations and humiliations rampant in Indian society and their “industry”? For example, forty-two people, most of them Dalit women and children, were killed in the Thanjavur district of Tamil Nadu in 1969 by local landlords. The Kilvenmani massacre took place more than a half-century ago. On its fiftieth anniversary, a series of remembrance events were held across the country, not unlike the events that marked the Tulsa race violence. The Thanjavur killings are said to be the first massacre of their kind in independent India. No perpetrator of this attack ever got punished. The court held that since the alleged attackers belonged to the upper strata of society, it was difficult to believe that they had walked into the village…(Read the full text here))

CPI (M)’s History of Moving Away from Committed Leftism from its Birth: Sankar Ray

Guest post by SANKAR RAY

History apparently allows freaks, whims and hypocrisy, but only temporarily. After all, Hegel as very succinctly stated, ‘History is a slaughter house’. It spares none, not excluding India’s once most powerful Leftist party in the parliamentary arena, Communist Party of India (Marxist) that once had 44 MPs in the lower house of Indian parliament, Lok Sabha. It now faces  a crisis of identity and existence. Hypocrisy and falsehood in politics and ideological positions have been two main reasons for the vertical decline of party’s influence and image.
Ten years ago,  Indranil Chakraborty in his Master’s thesis –“The Market Odyssey: Why and How Was ‘The Market’ Discourse Incorporated in the Party Program of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) During the Days of the Communist Party of China’s ‘Market Socialism’?” referred to CPI(M)’s open criticism of ‘the development of the personality cult of Mao( Tse Tung) , and the problem of left adventurism during the Cultural Revolution. He pointed out that the criticism evaded ‘the question of the relationship between socialism and democracy, and the role of the Chinese people in deciding policy matters of the state’.  He quoted Harkishan Singh Surjeet’s article in the party’s theoretical monthly, The Marxist in 1993 commemorating Mao’s birth centenary – ‘We cannot make a subjective analysis of a personality in cases where errors have been committed in the application of the theory to practice.’

Continue reading CPI (M)’s History of Moving Away from Committed Leftism from its Birth: Sankar Ray

Six Months of the Farmers’ Struggle – Looking Ahead

Farmers observe ‘Black Day’ as struggle completes six months on 26 May, image courtesy Economic Times

The farmers’ struggle at the Delhi borders completed six months yesterday, the 26th of May. The day was observed as a Black Day all over the country, at the call of the Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM).

Braving unprecedented cold, followed by rains and storm, the struggle has now moved into the cruelest part of Delhi’s summer. In the process, it has lost 470 of its people, thanks to the obstinacy of the government. If one dates the beginning of the struggle from June, when it began in Punjab, soon after the farm laws were stealthily, under cover of the pandemic, promulgated as ordinances by the Central government, the struggle has been on for ten months now. In other words, it is incorrect to go on referring to it as a protest – which we routinely do for many lost causes – for it is now a ‘do or die’ struggle. It became so from the time it shifted its venue to lay siege to Delhi.

Periodically, the government, its police and its minions in the media try and zero in on this epic struggle of the farmers for its ignoring, if not violating of Covid19 protocols. All this even as they look the other way while lakhs of people are thrown into the jaws of death, brought about by the mass murderers who have pushed populations in four states into prolonged election campaigns, played cynical games with precious oxygen and vaccine supplies and allowed all kinds of mass religious gatherings of the Hindus to take place in complete disregard of any protocol whatsoever.

Continue reading Six Months of the Farmers’ Struggle – Looking Ahead

Missing footsoldiers seek positivity amid raging pandemic

While Rome never burned, Nero never played the fiddle…

RSS

Pragya Singh Thakur, the Lok Sabha Member of Parliament from Bhopal, would never have imagined that the leading Hindi daily Dainik Bhaskar would mark her return to her constituency after a 70-day gap with a sarcastic article published on its front page. The headline read, “He Digvijayi Sadhvi Pragya! Shukriya, Aap Ko Bhopal ki Yaad to Aayi—O World Conqueror, Many Thanks, You Remembered Bhopal at Last.”

The daily was giving vent to the feelings of the lakhs of citizens of the capital of Madhya Pradesh. Some had even organised a social media campaign revolving around their “missing” MP.

The last time Thakur was in the city was 2 March, to participate in a condolence meeting for a BJP leader. Thereafter, she was away from the city. The intervening period had proved extremely harsh for residents due to the deadly second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic, which has already claimed hundreds of lives

The anger of citizens was palpable. That is why the daily asked her, “When Bhopal was sick and desperate for help, you were not to be seen. When the city needed oxygen and Remdesivir, you were still not here.”

The absence of an elected leader belonging to the ruling dispensation when people need her the most raises a pertinent question. Was this an exception? Forget the fact that the BJP-Sangh Parivar repeatedly claim they are “disciplined soldiers”, a number of those associated with right-wing organisations have gone missing in action. 

( Read the full article here)

Why no one is talking about indo-british trade deal ?

Guest Post : New Socialist Initiative NSI Facebook Page

Samuel Johnson famously said, “Patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel.” The two prime ministers in the photograph below would claim to be patriots both. The scoundrel part should be left to your judgment, but it is obvious that both of them cannot claim to be patriots at the same time.

These two prime ministers came up with a deal a couple of days ago that no one in India is talking about.  Even the Indian government, uncharacteristically, is not trumpeting about it. The UK government announced the day before yesterday that it sealed a deal with India in which Indians will make a one billion pound ($1.39 billion) investment in the UK creating 6500 British jobs. In addition India will open its market doors wider by reducing tariffs not only on British cars and British whisky but also on British apples and pears.

It looks curiouser than Alice’s Wonderland. India lost 7.25 million jobs in April alone. Actually tens of millions of Indian jobs have been lost during the pandemic and during the Modi misrule. And Indian moneybags facilitated by the Modi government are going to invest more than Rs 10 thousand crores in the UK creating highly paid British jobs! On top of that India will also hurt the interests of Indian producers of apples and pears (also of cars and whiskeys) by lowering tariffs on British goods. What is India gaining out of it?

But if you think about it, it is not so surprising. This is a government that spends tens of thousands of crores on a new central vista, a new parliament and a new house for the Prime Minister at a time when thousands are dying due to shortage of oxygen and of hospital beds. This is also a regime under which its favourite corporate houses have registered fattest profits ever during the worst humanitarian crisis that India is groaning under.

This Prime Minister not only helps corporate houses to amass mountains of wealth in an India where people are losing jobs, facing unimaginable hardships – many are on the verge of starvation; where cremations pyres are spilling on to the roads and burning 24×7. He also helps them take that money to safe houses on foreign shores – invest in rich countries and create jobs there. Can he qualify to be a patriot, even if one ignores Samuel Johnson’s reference to being a scoundrel? 

How anti-national this government and this Prime Minister can become? And why is this Indo-British deal not being talked about here in India?

covid-19 mismanagement : Can india ‘do’ a brazil ?

Brazil’s Parliamentary Enquiry is probing the way the Bolsonaro-led government handled the pandemic leading to the deaths of 4,00,000 Brazilians.

Covid mismangement

Jail Bolsonaro, the far right President of Brazil, is a worried man these days. The next round of elections for the post of President is merely a year away and there is a strong possibility that his bete noire Lula – former President of Brazil between 2003 and 2011 – can be in the ring to challenge him. The Supreme Court of Brazil has annulled Lula’s two bribery convictions, and if he plans the 75 year old charismatic Lula can give him a tough challenge.

The worrisome aspect is the unfolding Parliamentary Enquiry, which seeks to focus on the way the Brazil government handled the pandemic, what his critics call ‘disastrous and potentially criminal response to Covid that has killed 4,00,000 Brazilians and the nightmare still continues.

An indication of the fact that this enquiry is not going to be a formality can be gauged from the way one of its key members, Sen Humberto Costa, who was a former health minister, put it; he said, “It is a true health, economic, and political tragedy, and the main responsibility lies with the president,” and he believes there is enough evidence to conclude that Bolsonaro committed “crimes against humanity”. Costa is not alone in his assessment of Bolsonaro, many other analysts have also used similar label for him.

( Read the full text here)

Why ensuring dalit human rights is still a tough task in the 21 st century

‘Sunped in Haryana and Natham in Tamil Nadu, separated from each other by hundreds of kilometers, populated by communities speaking different languages and cultures, find themselves connected because of this ‘Unity in Diversity’ of a different kind; being witness to atrocities on Dalits in very many ways.’

Representational image. | Image Courtesy: Wall Street Journal

“The Smallest Coffins are the Heaviest”.

Sunped, a small village in Faridabad, Haryana, hit the national headlines recently once again, when a CBI court gave its verdict in case of the deaths of two Dalit children.

If memory does not fail you, one would recall that this village had witnessed the deaths of two children – two and a half year-old Vaibhav and ten-month-old Divya – who were burned alive and their parents Rekha and Jitender suffering burn injuries half a decade ago. 

These deaths in a village which had a background of simmering conflict between dominant castes and Dalits, despite police protection provided to the ill-fated family, had caused  tremendous uproar at the national level. Rallies and marches were held in different parts of the state and in the rest of India as well, demanding justice for the family. A callous statement by a Union Cabinet Minister about the incident where he argued that the government cannot be held responsible if “someone throws stones at a dog” had then added further fuel to the fire.

Perhaps to douse popular anger, the state government led by Manohar Lal Khattar had ordered a CBI enquiry into the case. It also took into custody eleven members of the dominant caste (namely Rajputs) from Sunped for their alleged involvement in these killings, based on a complaint by the victims.  

The verdict by the CBI court in the case has landed the struggle for justice in this particular case into a black hole. 

( Read the full article here)

What happens when faith overrides sense ?

The severity of the second wave and the government’s unpreparedness demonstrate the limits of ‘strong’ leadership and religion-based politics.

What Happens When Faith Overrides Sense?
Image : Courtesy PTI

It was 1527, and Martin Luther, leader of the Protestant Reformation, wrote a letter advising a Lutheran leader what a believer should do during an epidemic. Europe was in the deadly grip of the bubonic plague at the time. It had killed thousands of people.

Extracts of his letter are relevant even today, especially the parts where Luther talks about what to do during an epidemic: “…Then I shall fumigate, help purify the air, administer medicine, and take it. I shall avoid places and persons where my presence is not needed in order not to become contaminated and thus perchance infect and pollute others, and so cause their death as a result of my negligence.”

Tirath Singh Rawat, the Chief Minister of Uttarakhand, perhaps does not know of this letter or its contents. Surprisingly, he does not even seem to recall the experiences from last year. In fact, much of what happened during the Covid epidemic seems lost on him. In 2020, public places of worship and religious gatherings became super-spreaders of the virus. That is why, for the first time, religious congregations were banned everywhere from Mecca to the Vatican to arrest the spread of the pandemic.

So, it is strange that Rawat cannot recall how believers took the back seat and ceded space to science during the first wave. Indeed, he has made a specious claim that faith in God will overcome the fear of the virus, in the context of the Kumbh Mela, a gathering where tens of lakhs of people gathered earlier this month.

( Read the full text here )

Sitalkuchi And After – A Flashback to CPI-M Rule in West Bengal

Graves of the four young men killed in Sitalkuchi, courtesy Newslaundry

As the news of the killings of four youth in Sitalkuchi in Cooch Behar district by the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) came in on 10 April, reactions of horror and anger became evident all around. This reaction among politically informed sections was only natural, for anybody with a little bit of common intelligence will tell you that the BJP is making an all out bid to capture power in the state. And anyone who has watched the Modi-Shah duo in action over the past few years, does not need to be told what this means. It is always ‘Heads I win; Tails you lose’ with them. It doesn’t matter what dirty trick you have to play, all is fair in this game of capturing power with them. They will form the government, no matter who wins but first, every effort has to be made to ‘win’ by any means. And that means by ANY means, ranging from killing people by engineering violent communal incidents to buying off opposition parties’ winning legislators. Despite the full battery of BJP’s star campaigners ranging from Narendra Modi and Shah to Yogi Adityanath making repeated visits to the state, their rallies have seen very low turnout and in some instances meetings had to be cancelled. So the desperation is growing. The first four of the unprecedented eight rounds in the state’s elections were to be in the areas where TMC is relatively weak. But even in these areas the reports were not very encouraging for the BJP. Thus, every child in Bengal could see what these killings meant. Except the CPI-M that is.

Soon the story of the killings was being given a typically BJP IT Cell spin: a mob of Muslim TMC people surrounded the CISF and tried to snatch their rifles. This was followed by identical tweets by a range of people describing how they could not sleep all night because of the sounds of the explosion of bombs, suggesting that things had been going on all night – and the CISF action in the morning was therefore, only justified.

Seasoned CPI-M stalwarts on Twitter apparently neither saw those tweets or more likely, jumped at them to immediately amplify the BJP narrative of provocation by TMC (Muslim mob is often implied). It is certainly not possible that anybody with a little bit of common sense would not have immediately seen this copy paste job for what it was – a BJP IT Cell operation. The CPI-M leaders and their social media warriors went on, willfully, to reinforce the ‘provocation’ narrative that was being circulated by the BJP.

Meanwhile, many people including poll analysts and former bureaucrats started asking that if there really was an irate mob attacking the CISF party, where was the footage? Was there any video evidence? No such question crossed the CPI-M leaders’ minds and from all appearances, from Biman Bose to Mohd Salim (and the pathetic Sujan Chakrabarty) pushed ahead with not-so-subtle ways of relaying the BJP narrative and indeed, it was not difficult to discern that they were in fact, gloating.

Continue reading Sitalkuchi And After – A Flashback to CPI-M Rule in West Bengal

क्या हो बच्चे का धर्म ?

“Five minutes after your birth, they decide your name, nationality, religion, and sect, and you spend the rest of your life defending something you did not even choose.”

: Quote, unnamed

1.

आप कह सकते हैं कि पहली दफा मैं इस पहेली से तब रूबरू हुआ था या कह सकते हैं कि अधिक गंभीरता से सोचने लगा जब बंबई की इस ख़बर ने ध्यान खींचा था.

किस्सा थोड़ा पुराना लग सकता है अलबत्ता आज भी मौजूं.

मराठी परिवार में जनमी एक युवती और गुजराती परिवार में पले युवक ने- जिन्होंने अन्तरधर्मीय विवाह किया है और बम्बई में बसे थे- दरअसल यह तय किया कि वह अपनी नवजन्मी सन्तान के साथ किसी धर्म को चस्पां नहीं करेंगे. उनका मानना था कि बड़े होकर उनकी सन्तान जो चाहे वह फैसला कर ले, आस्तिकता का वरण कर ले, अज्ञेयवादी बन जाए या धर्म को मानने से इनकार कर दे, लेकिन उसकी अबोध उम्र में उस पर ऐसे किसी निर्णय को लादना गैरवाजिब होगा.

निश्चित ही अपने इस फैसले पर अमल करने में उनके सामने काफी बाधाएं आयीं. सन्तान का जन्म प्रमाणपत्र तैयार करने में अलग-अलग दफ्तरों के चक्कर काटने पड़े, एक अफसर ने तो युवती से पूछ लिया कि क्या तुम्हें अपने धर्म पर गर्व नहीं है ?  युवती ने तपाक से जवाब दिया कि भले ही वह धर्म को मानने वाले परिवार में जन्मी हो, लेकिन किसी भी रीति रिवाज को नहीं मानती और अहम बात यह है कि क्या एक जनतांत्रिक धर्मनिरपेक्ष देश में मां बाप यह फैसला नहीं ले सकते कि वह अपनी संतान को किसी धर्म से नत्थी नहीं करेंगे.

( Read the full text here)

Nandigram – An Introduction to Political Analysis

Nandigram 2007, Image courtesy Kolkata24x7

Mamata Banerjee recently stirred up a fresh new controversy by accusing her former party colleague Suvendu Adhikari, now adversary in the Nandigram Assembly seat as BJP candidate, of being complicit in the 14 March 2007 violence. Had it not been for the complicity of the ‘father-son duo’ (Suvendu and his father Sisir Adhikari, both in the BJP now), she claimed in the heat of the electoral campaign, the police could not have entered Nandigram. She also asked rhetorically how it came to be that these two were spared by the police? To my mind, the claims seem difficult to sustain, if only because, the CPI(M) was at the height of its power and would have had little to do with these Trinamool Congress leaders. Listening to her speak, it did seem that she was quite rattled. Who would not be – with Amit Shah and central government on one side, the aggressive BJP goons in the state, her erstwhile collaborators now on the BJP side and, to cap it all, the aggressive, misogynist, patriarchal campaign against her from the CPI(M)? One meme by people obviously linked to the CPM, for instance, portrayed her witch-like, with a haggard and wicked expression, which was counter-posed to the young beauteous CPI(M) candidate Meenakshi Mukherjee. The meme describes Meenakshi as the ‘beloved daughter of Bengal’, while Mamata is described as the ‘old hag spinster sister-in-law’. (After a lot of hue and cry, this meme was taken off though the page continues to be on Facebook).

Continue reading Nandigram – An Introduction to Political Analysis

Exploring ‘Hindu’ and ‘Muslim’ Through Medieval Sanskrit Narratives: Rahul Govind

In this guest post, RAHUL GOVIND gives us, by way of a review of Audrey Truschke’s book, a glimpse of the world of medieval Sanskrit and what they tell us about ‘Hindu’ and ‘Muslim’ identity in their own time.

The Language of History – Audrey Truschke

Why Audrey Truschke’s The Language of History is essential reading for every Indian (and Pakistani and Bangladeshi)

There is the view that the medieval period of Indian history witnessed an all-consuming battle between Hindus (who were native to India) and Muslims (who came to India as conquerors).  This originated as a typical colonial strategy of ‘divide and rule’ in the 19th century, but then transformed into a communal politics that ultimately led to Partition. In India today this very view is becoming a dominant one, where the medieval period is assumed to be nothing but the destruction of an ancient indigenous Sanskritic culture by invading Muslims.

Continue reading Exploring ‘Hindu’ and ‘Muslim’ Through Medieval Sanskrit Narratives: Rahul Govind

Loss of Hindustan – A Symposium III: Hilal Ahmed

This article by HILAL AHMED is the third and final contribution in the set of three reviews/ comments on Manan Ahmed Asif’s Loss of Hindustan. The first contribution by Dwaipayan Sen can be read here and the second by Dilip M. Menon can be accessed here.

A Political Reading

Loss of Hindustan – Manan Ahmed Asif

This is a provocative book in two different ways. It provokes us to interrogate the supposedly foundational propositions that constitute the very first article of the Indian Constitution: ‘India that is Bharat’. The book destabilizes the very language—the concepts, categories, frames—by which we are trained to envisage India as a historic entity and/or as a civilization.

The author does not merely engage in producing a deconstructionist version of India’s past. He, unlike others, incites us to imagine the unimaginable: the idea of Hindustan. The book introduces us to a rich archive of Persian scholarship and explores the ways in which Hindustan as a concept as well as a geo-political reality is erased to pave the way for a new intellectual imagination, India.

The Loss of Hindustan is also provocative in an overtly political sense. The book cannot be described as an intellectual-historical project. It raises a few powerful political questions especially in relation to the placing of modern history in postcolonial projects of nation building. Continue reading Loss of Hindustan – A Symposium III: Hilal Ahmed

Loss of Hindustan – A Symposium II: Dilip M. Menon

This article by DILIP M. MENON is the second of the three pieces that comprise the symposium on Manan Ahmed Asif’s Loss of Hindustan. The first contribution by Dwaipayan Sen can be read here. The final contribution by Hilal Ahmed can be accessed here.

The Loss of Longing

Loss of Hindustan – Manan Ahmed Asif

“Nostalgia is not what it used to be.” – Simone Signoret

To look back these days evokes less anger or longing and more a sense of gazing on ruins. Like the Angel of History, so evocatively described by Benjamin, we are being blown with our backs to an unknown future, gazing at the relentless pile of wreckage that accumulates behind us. The idea of a nation that we once imagined together is buried somewhere in the debris, our residual idealism detects its gleam sometimes. This sense of melancholy propels different shades of politics, one of which does a fine combing through the rough texture of history to recover lost visions. The other seeks to resist the lure of the past and think exigently within the horizon of the present. A hard headed engagement with contemporary times comes rooted in the belief that there is no space of authenticity or of an archive of resistance awaiting us in the past: there is no ‘there’ there. However, the mode of thinking that informs the historical discipline requires us to look back, and see the filiations with the present as much as the future. The fact that we occupy a future past (that is to say, we live in a moment that was once imagined as a future, utopian or otherwise) can be an occasion for cynicism as much as a fillip for renewed action. Continue reading Loss of Hindustan – A Symposium II: Dilip M. Menon

Loss of Hindustan – A Symposium I: Dwaipayan Sen

Manan Ahmed Asif’s recent book Loss of Hindustan: The Invention of India* has aroused considerable interest that goes beyond academic readers. Since the book deals with a matter that concerns not just our past but also how we imagine our future, we at Kafila decided to try out a symposium on it – on an experimental basis, since we do not generally carry book reviews as such. We will be serially publishing three reviews/ comments on the book, by DWAIPAYAN SEN, DILIP M. MENON and HILAL AHMED, over the next few days, in the hope of provoking some discussion. We also hope to get the author’s response to these contributions. This first piece is by DWAIPAYAN SEN. The second contribution by Dilip M. Menon can be read here. You can read the final piece by Hilal Ahmed here.

Loss of Hindustan – Manan Ahmed Asif

This book is the most recent addition to a growing tradition of precolonial history-writing that depicts India as a land of milk and honey before the coming of the colonial flood.  Evidently, a European understanding of India as Hindu replaced an earlier, native understanding of India as Hindustan, rendered a home for all faiths.  Such arguments are based on the close reading of Muhammad Qasim Firishta’s Tarikh-i Firishta, and its appropriation by scholar-administrators in the employ of the East India Company.

Continue reading Loss of Hindustan – A Symposium I: Dwaipayan Sen

In Search of the Tukde-Tukde Gang!

WHATEVER HAPPENED TO THE BOMB-MAKING FACTORIES IN WEST BENGAL?

amit shah

Image Courtesy: PTI

Are the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) and its in-charge, Home Minister Amit Shah, at variance with each other? This question has acquired a new meaning as, within a year, there have been at least two occasions when the MHA has not supported Shah’s public claims on matters with a direct bearing on the internal security of the country.

Take the interview of Shah done by a news channel last October. He claimed in it that the law and order situation had “gone for a toss” in West Bengal. The state, he went to the extent of claiming, had “bomb-making factories” in “every district”. This explosive claim of the number two in the Union Cabinet was lapped by mainstream media and soon there were calls to impose President’s Rule in the state.

Four months later, it has become clear that the ministry Shah heads has not a clue about his claim. Continue reading In Search of the Tukde-Tukde Gang!

Marxism’s Long March in the Global South

Arab Spring composite image, courtesy Middle East Eye ( and AFP, Reuters, Creative Commons)

It is interesting that though Marxism was born in Europe, it has found its most enduring habitat in the Global South, but this has meant very little in terms of its overall theoretical formation and structure. Thinking about this encounter of ‘Marxism’ and the ‘Global South’ – the continents of Africa, Asia and Latin America – is a daunting task for the sheer range of experiences and questions it has thrown up. It has thrown up fundamentally new concerns as well as produced, in practice, some of the most grotesque outcomes.  But the task is also daunting because despite the range of experiences that Marxism has gone through and has put us through, it has not so far given us any serious body of theoretical knowledge that reflects this experience. It has not given us anything like the way, say,  Tibetan, Chinese, Japanese and Sinhala Buddhism have produced their own versions of Buddhist philosophy. One could also perhaps say the same thing about Christianity in Europe, where – at least up to a point – its philosophy was elaborated and innovated or transformed by the best minds of their time.

Continue reading Marxism’s Long March in the Global South

नरेंद्र मोदी स्टेडियम: आज़ादी के नायकों की जगह लेते ‘नए इंडिया’ के नेता

मोटेरा स्टेडियम का नाम बदलना दुनिया के इतिहास में- ख़ासकर उपनिवेशवाद के ख़िलाफ़ संघर्ष कर आज़ाद हुए मुल्कों में, ऐसा पहला उदाहरण है, जहां किसी स्वाधीनता सेनानी का नाम मिटाकर एक ऐसे सियासतदां का नाम लगाया गया हो, जिसका उसमें कोई भी योगदान नहीं रहा हो.

नरेंद्र मोदी स्टेडियम. फोटो: रॉयटर्स)

Courtesy – नरेंद्र मोदी स्टेडियम. फोटो: रॉयटर्स

क्रिकेट का खेल भारत का सबसे लोकप्रिय खेल है. पिछले दिनों यह खेल नहीं बल्कि इस खेल के लिए फिलवक्त मौजूद दुनिया का ‘सबसे बड़ा क्रिकेट स्टेडियम’ एक अलग वजह से सुर्खियों में आया.

मौका था अहमदाबाद के मोटेरा स्टेडियम- जिसे सरदार वल्लभभाई पटेल स्टेडियम के तौर पर जाना जाता रहा है – के नए सिरे से उद्घाटन का, जो वर्ष 2015 में नवीनीकरण के लिए बंद किया गया था और अब नयी साजसज्जा एवं विस्तार के साथ खिलाड़ियों एवं दर्शकों के लिए तैयार था.

याद रहे कि पहले गुजरात स्टेडियम के तौर जाने जाते इस स्टेडियम का स्वाधीनता आंदोलन के महान नेता वल्लभभाई पटेल – जो आज़ादी के बाद देश के गृहमंत्री  भी थे- के तौर पर नामकरण किया गया था, जब तत्कालीन गुजरात सरकार ने स्टेडियम के लिए सौ एकड़ जमीन आवंटित की, जिसका निर्माण महज नौ महीनों में पूरा किया गया था. (1982)

दरअसल हुआ यह कि जिस दिन उसका उद्घाटन होना था, उस दिन अचानक लोगों को पता चला कि अब यह सरदार वल्लभभाई पटेल स्टेडियम नहीं बल्कि ‘नरेंद्र मोदी स्टेडियम’ के तौर पर जाना जाएगा.

सबसे विचित्र बात यह थी कि इस नामकरण को बिल्कुल गोपनीय ढंग से किया गया. गोपनीयता इस कदर थी कि खुद समाचार एजेंसियों प्रेस ट्रस्ट आफ इंडिया या एएनआई आदि तक को पता नहीं था कि उसका नामकरण किया जाने वाला है.

जाहिर था कि पीटीआई या एएनआई जैसी संस्थाओं की सुबह की प्रेस विज्ञप्ति भी उसे सरदार वल्लभभाई पटेल स्टेडियम के तौर पर संबोधित करती दिख रही थी. यह अलग बात है कि अगली प्रेस विज्ञप्ति में अचानक नरेंद्र मोदी स्टेडियम का जिक्र होने लगा.

अब जैसी कि उम्मीद की जा सकती है कि इस नामकरण- जो दरअसल नामांतरण था- पर तीखी प्रतिक्रिया हुई. न केवल इसे सरदार वल्लभभाई पटेल के अपमान के तौर पर देखा गया बल्कि यह भी कहा गया कि एक पदेन प्रधानमंत्री का नाम देकर प्रस्तुत सरकार ने एक तरह से दुनिया में अपनी हंसी उड़ाने का ही काम किया है.

विपक्ष ने साफ कहा कि यह एक तरह से मोदी के पर्सनालिटी कल्ट को अधिक वैधता प्रदान करने का काम है. मिसालें पेश की गईं कि समूची दुनिया में भी ऐसी मिसालें बहुत गिनी-चुनी ही मिलती हैं, जो अधिनायकवादी मुल्कों में दिखती हैं.

( Read the full text here : http://thewirehindi.com/160559/renaming-of-motera-stadium/)

Communist Manifesto, Late Marx and the Farmers’ Struggle

 

 

Spot the difference between the two quotations below.

“The bourgeoisie has subjected the country to the rule of the towns. It has created enormous cities, has greatly increased the urban population as compared with the rural, and has thus rescued a considerable part of the population from the idiocy of rural life. Just as it has made the country dependent on the towns, so it has made barbarian and semi-barbarian countries dependent on the civilised ones, nations of peasants on nations of bourgeois, the East on the West.” – [Marx and Engels, Manifesto of the Communist Party, 1848. Emphasis added]

Farmers’ protest at Delhi borders, image courtesy New Indian Express

“Hence, the historical movement which changes the producers into wage-workers, appears, on the one hand, as their emancipation from serfdom and from the fetters of the guilds, and this side alone exists for our bourgeois historians. But, on the other hand, these new freedmen became sellers of themselves only after they had been robbed of all their own means of production, and of all the guarantees of existence afforded by the old feudal arrangements. And the history of this, their expropriation, is written in the annals of mankind in letters of blood and fire.” – [Karl Marx, Capital Volume 1, Chapter 26, ‘The Secret of Primitive Accumulation’. 1867. All emphasis added]

Look closely at both, and if you have any doubts, you can return to the original texts from which these two passages have been extracted – the Communist Manifesto, by the youthful Marx and Engels, published in 1848 and Capital, Volume I, published in 1867. If the Communist Manifesto almost celebrates the ‘fact’ that capitalism has “rescued a considerable part of the population [i.e. the peasant] from the idiocy of rural life”, what does the text of Capital say? It underlines that precisely these people who had been thus ‘rescued’, “became sellers of themselves after they had been robbed of all their means of production“.

And if we take a step outside their context and read these lines in the context of contemporary India – from Singur and Nandigram to the ongoing saga of the epic farmers’ struggle – it is not difficult to see why the text of Capital insists that the history of their expropriation is written in “letters of blood and fire.” The big difference is that while literally millions perished in the storm of capitalist industrialization in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries in Europe and simply disappeared into history; today, the peasants, farmers and indigenous people – all the so-called ‘pre-capitalist’ populations  –  are fighting back. There were no institutions of democracy, no language of struggle back then; it was the sheer exercise of naked power by the rising bourgeoisie that enforced the expropriation of agrarian and artisanal communities.

Continue reading Communist Manifesto, Late Marx and the Farmers’ Struggle

If Comment is Free, Why are Dissenters Being Locked Up?

THE STATE LOOKS THE OTHER WAY ONLY WHEN RIGHT-WING FOOTSOLDIERS TARGET INNOCENT PEOPLE AND PROVOKE VIOLENCE.

If Comment is Free, Why are Dissenters Being Locked Up?

A foreigner, returning from a trip to the Third Reich,

When asked who ruled there, answered:

Fear…

The Regime, Bertolt Brecht.

Those occasions on which judicial verdicts bring cheer are getting rarer. As everyone who supports gender justice rejoices over the victory of senior journalist Priya Ramani in the defamation case filed against her by ex-minister MJ Akbar, it is also time to get excited over another judgement passed in another court.

In an ambience in which dissent is increasingly criminalised, this judgement by a Delhi court, which grants bail to two people accused of posting “fake” videos related to the ongoing farmer movement, is also a breath of fresh air.

The prosecution argued that these videos—which seemed to express discontent among police officers against the government—could create disaffection against the government. Instead of agreeing, the judge hearing the case handed out a tutorial to the government as to when the law on spreading disaffection is actually to be applied.

The law, the prosecution was told, can be invoked only when there is a “call to violence”. The judge underlined that the law to punish sedition is an important instrument to maintain peace and order, and it cannot be invoked to quieten disquiet while pretending to muzzle miscreants.

Any student of law knows that the judge’s declarations resonate with two historic judgements delivered by the highest court of the country, namely the Kedarnath Singh vs State of Bihar ruling from 1962 and the Balwant Singh and Bhupinder Singh vs State of Punjab government case from 1995, which specifically emphasise that the charge of sedition can be used only when violence is invoked or where there are attempts to create disorder.

( Read the full text here)