Category Archives: Debates

Corona Biopolitics and Life After Capitalism – A Manifesto of Hope I

 

‘It seems we are massively entering a quarantine of consumption where we will learn how to be happy just with a simple dress, rediscovering old favourites we own, reading a forgotten book and cooking up a storm to make life beautiful. The impact of the virus will be cultural and crucial to building an alternative and profoundly different world.’ – Li Edelkoort, trend forecaster and fashion advisor

As large parts of the world reel under the impact of a lockdown that has prompted several people to recall the great lockdowns during the early twentieth century Spanisht flu and even the 14th centry plague, my thoughts in fact strayed in another direction. With international and national air traffic down to the barest minimum, with arenas of conspicuous consumption shut down, zillions of cars of the roads and construction activity to a halt, I was suddenly struck by a not-so-crazy thought: with all the suffering that a lockdown necessarily entails for the poorer sections of the population in particular, there might still be a silver lining here. Perhaps the temperature of the earth will have come down a few notches by the time we are done with this crisis and what is more, it might initiate a different mode of being in the world. It might give the world an opportunity to see what is continuously being denied by climate-deniers (as Naomi Klein recorded, backed by huge funds from right-wing US based foundations and  corporations). It might – it just might – reconnect us with what we have long left behind and have been longing for – a different pace of life where slow is beautiful, as it were.

Continue reading Corona Biopolitics and Life After Capitalism – A Manifesto of Hope I

Weaponising Idiocy: Milk-Drinking Ganesha to Taali Bajao

Then and now, a conservative Hindutva organisation had a role in spreading rumours.

coronavirus and cow urine

Representational image. | Image Courtesy: Deccan Herald

 

Yad ihasti tad anyatra, yan nehasti na tat kavcit. ‘Whatever is here might be elsewhere, but what is not here could ever be found’.—The Mahabharata, 1.56.33, from Meera Nanda’s The God Market: How Globalisation is Making India More Hindu, Random House 2009.

It was the fag end of the 1st decade of the 21st century when the historian Rink Shenkman wrote his marvellous book, Just how stupid Are We? Facing the Truth about the American Voter. In an interview, he said that Americans are “ill-prepared” to guide the world’s “most powerful” democracy. The book points out the astounding inability of even “two of five voters” to name three branches of the federal government, the fact that half of Americans think that their president can suspend the Constitution, and a large section’s ignorance of the 9/11 attack and the Iraq war that followed.

His concern was the mass of people who could easily, repeatedly and systematically be misled and manipulated by politicians and further “dumb down” American politics.

This “stupidity” was on full display in images of rowdy college crowds hitting California’s beaches during spring break, prompting the governor to close them down. New York governor Andrew Cuomo warned that “young people are not Superman/woman” when it turned out that people, especially the young, are not socially distancing themselves. But only Americans are not to blame. Media tells us that “virus rebels” are displaying their stupidity virtually all over the Western world, prompting crackdowns by authorities.

There’s perhaps no similar study for South Asia, especially India, probing our “stupidity” in this crisis-time, though there’s immense fodder for it.

( Read the full text here : https://www.newsclick.in/Hindutva-Coronavirus-COVID-19-WhatsApp-Fake-News)

Desirable Deaths, Malignant Neglect

Coronavirus reveals that in the capitalist world there is still no such thing as society.

Coronavirus

Bella Ciao! Bella Ciao! A song which traces its origins to the struggles of working women (rice-weeders) in 19th-century Northern Italy, and which later became an anthem of anti-fascist struggles there, recently made a comeback on the streets of Rome.

Well, there was no mass gathering, obviously, but you could hear people’s voices sing not only Bella Ciao from windows and balconies but many other patriotic numbers, some newly-composed.

With the world’s eighth-largest economy under lockdown, people restricted to their homes and fatalities due to novel coronavirus already over 1,400, this collective singing was the Italian people’s way of finding a moment of joy in this time of anxiety. It “lifted their spirits” and became a unique way for them to declare solidarity with each other.

( Read the full story here : https://www.newsclick.in/Coronavirus-Crisis-Capitalist-Society-Public-Funded-Health-System)

Over one thousand women write to Chief Ministers opposing NPR

Given that the updation of the National Population Register (NPR) is scheduled to begin from April 1, 2020 along with house listing for the Census of India 2021, women rights activists released a letter at Delhi’s Press Club on March 17, 2020, that was sent to every Chief
Minister in the country by over one thousand individual signatories and 18 organizations. The signatories include activists, writers,
academics, lawyers, doctors, farmers, professionals, anganwadi workers and women from all walks of life from more than 20 states.

LETTER TO CMs from Women’s* Groups and individuals_

Dear Chief Minister,

 *Subject: NPR PRESENTS A CLEAR DANGER TO WOMEN.*
*DE-LINK NPR FROM CENSUS HOUSE LISTING.*

  1. *We write to you as Indian women [1] who are opposed to the proposed National Population Register (NPR) [2]*. Women constitute nearly 50% of India’s population, and this opposition is based on clear evidence from our own lives.
  2. Section 14 A of the Citizenship Act, the accompanying 2003 Rules, and official reports of the Ministry of Home Affairs, all provide for using NPR data to compile the National Register of Indian Citizens (NRIC). The NRIC will be prepared by local registrars scrutinizing information of individuals in the Population Register and marking people as ‘Doubtful Citizens’.

Continue reading Over one thousand women write to Chief Ministers opposing NPR

Understanding the Rise of the BJP

Guest Post by PARVIN SULTANA

(Review of HINDUTVA: EXPLORING THE IDEA OF HINDU; NATIONALISM, Jyotirmaya Sharma ( Context 2019); M.S. GOLWALKAR, THE RSS AND INDIA, Jyotirmaya Sharma (Context, 2019) ; DECODING THE RSS: ITS TRADITIONS AND POLITICS Raosaheb Kasbe (Leftword Books, 2019) , RAJIV GANDHI TO NARENDRA MODI: BROKEN POLITY, FLICKERING REFORMS Parsa Venkateshwar Rao Jr. (Sage Select, 2019) ; MODINAMA: ISSUES THAT DID NOT MATTER Subhash Gatade (Leftword Books, 2019) 

The 2014 general elections which saw the Bharatiya Janata Party return to power with an absolute majority is believed to have brought an important paradigmatic shift to Indian politics. Scholars commenting have termed it as a majoritarian shift. Post elections, there have been discussions which tried to understand the reasons behind this massive mandate that the Right Wing political party managed to get. This Right Wing shift in India’s electoral politics was further proven by the 2019 Parliament election results which gave the BJP a larger mandate. Scholars have written trying to understand the rise of BJP—is it an isolated event or a continuation of past developments? This becomes important because even at the international level, there is a shift towards conservative politics.
Indian academia has also taken an objective look at this shift. A number of books have been written on various aspects of present-day politics, the ideologies and icons that paved the way for this rise and continue to provide intellectual fodder for this politics, the liberal economic policies which have been taken to their logical conclusion by the present government, etc. And these books have provided us with important insights to make sense of the present-day political situation of the country.

( Read the full text here : https://thebookreviewindia.org/understanding-the-rise-of-the-bjp/)

Denying Interim Bail To Anand Teltumbde and Gautam Navlakha Is Alarming : MRSD

Guest Post by MRSD ( Mumbai Rises to Save Democracy)

Statement by MRSD on Supreme Court’s rejection of pre-arrest bail plea of Anand Teltumbde and Gautam Navlakha in the Bhima Koregaon violence case

Mumbai Rises to Save Democracy (MRSD) is deeply disappointed with the Supreme Court’s rejection of the plea by Anand Teltumbde and Gautam Navlakha seeking anticipatory bail in the cases registered against them in relation to the violence at Bhima Koregaon on 1st January 2018. Their arrest is imminent in next three weeks. Nine other activists and intellectuals who have been accused in this case and charged with sections of the draconian Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) have been imprisoned since 2018.

The top court’s order to deny interim bail is alarming given that the case against the activists is based on very thin evidence. Moreover, the cyber forensic analysis by credible investigative journalists and technical experts discredit the evidence used by Pune police to incriminate the activists. The analysis reveals that the letters which were allegedly recovered from the hard disk of Rona Wilson, one of the nine activists accused in the case, and used by the police to link the accused to a banned political party are most likely to have been planted in the disk through use of malware which allowed remote access to Wilson’s computer (https://caravanmagazine.in/politics/bhima-koregaon-case-rona-wilson-hard-disk-malware-remote-access). This clearly indicates manipulation of evidence and the fabricated nature of the case.

The government is sparing few chances for truth to emerge in this case. In January 2020, more than a year after the chargesheets were filed by the Pune police, the Union Home ministry got the case suddenly transferred to the National Investigation Agency (NIA) and thus brought the case under its control at a time when the Home department in the newly formed Maha Vikas Aghadi government in Maharashtra had announced a review of the case, setting up of a Special Investigating Team (SIT) and dropping of the false cases against the activists.

While full-blown attempts are being made by the government to incriminate the eleven intellectuals in a fabricated case, the investigation into the role of Hindutva brigade led by Milind Ekbote and Manohar Bhide in carrying out planned organised attacks on Dalits at Bhima Koregaon has come to a standstill. The state government’s failure to set up a SIT shows that the real perpetrators of violence are being shielded from prosecution.

These developments in the case and now the rejection of pre-arrest bail to two of the stalwarts of the democratic rights movement in the country on the grounds of what is not just flimsy but manipulated evidence shows the desperation of the government to repress democratic voices and spread a sense of fear amongst those who oppose the anti-people policies and actions of the Hindutva Fascist regime. MRSD extends its solidarity to the eleven activists who have been relentless defenders of human rights and people’s movements in this country and who now stand wrongly accused in this conspiracy case. We also reiterate our resolve to continue to struggle for their release and for the pursuit of truth about the violence unleashed on the peaceful Dalit-Bahujan masses at Bhima Koregaon.

  • MRSD

Participating Organisations: People’s Union of Civil Liberties (PUCL), Committee for Protection of Democratic Rights (CPDR), National Trade Union Initiative (NTUI), Trade Union Centre of India (TUCI), Student Islamic Organisation (SIO), Ambedkar Periyar Phule Study Circle (APPSC) – IIT Mumbai, Co-ordination Of Science And Technology Institute’s Student Association (COSTISA), LEAFLET, Police Reforms Watch, NCHRO, Bebaak Collective, Forum Against Oppression of Women (FAOW), LABIA- A Queer Feminist LBT Collective, Jagrut Kamgar Manch (JKM), Majlis, Indian Muslims for Secular Democracy (IMSD), Women against Sexual Violence and State repression (WSS), Bharat Bachao Andolan (BBA), Indian Social Action Forum (INSAF), People’s Commission for Shrinking Democratic Spaces (PCSDS), Human Rights Law Network (HRLN), Cause Lawyers Alliance, National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM), Nivara Hakk Suraksha Samiti, Kashtakari Sanghatna – Palghar, Sarvahara Jan Andolan – Raighad, Jagrut Kashtkari Sanghatana, students from various colleges in Mumbai including Homi Bhabha Research Centre, St.Xaviers and Tata Institute of Social Sciences.

The Need for a New Political Platform

 

[Beginning this week, ‘Parapolitics’ will be a fortnightly column appearing on the second and fourth Thursday of every month.]

We were never so helpless, never so bereft, never more in need of a platform of struggle. The need for a new political formation is acutely felt today as never before. And by a new formation I do not mean a party of the Left in any traditional sense but a different kind of left-wing formation that can act resolutely in defense of democracy.

Two developments of the past week – the crisis of Yes Bank and the defection of 22 Congress MLAs, led by Jyotiraditya Scindia, to the BJP – signal the deep crisis that we are in today. Reports suggest that each MLA was offered something like Rs 100 crore by the BJP to defect. These developments come close on the heels of a horrendous anti-Muslim carnage in Delhi where we have been witness to the the total collapse of all institutions. From the complete paralysis of the elected AAP government in the state and a Supreme Court that simply pretends not to see what’s going on, to a lapdog ‘media’ actively engaged in promoting violence – this collapse was perhaps never so evident in our history.

Continue reading The Need for a New Political Platform