Category Archives: Debates

‘ईश्वर नहीं है’ कहने का अधिकार

Image result for periyar
Periyar : Image – Courtesy velivada.com

क्या अभिव्यक्ति की स्वतंत्रता का अधिकार महज आस्थावानों के लिए ही लागू होता है ?

कभी कभी साधारण से प्रश्न का उत्तर पाने के लिए भी अदालती हस्तक्षेप की जरूरत पड़ती है।

मद्रास उच्च न्यायालय की – न्यायमूर्ति एस मनिकुमार और सुब्रहमण्यम प्रसाद की – द्विसदस्यीय डिवीजन बेंच को पिछले दिनो ंयह दोहराना पड़ा कि अभिव्यक्ति का अधिकार – जो भारत के संविधान के तहत मिले बुनियादी अधिकारों में शुमार है – सार्वभौमिक है और इसे समयविशेष के बहुमत के आंकड़ों के आधार पर तय नहीं किया जा सकता।

मालूम हो कि किन्ही दैवानायागम ने न्यायालय में यह जनहितयाचिका दाखिल की थी और कहा था कि तमिलनाडु के त्रिची में पेरियार की मूर्ति पर जो नास्तिकता के उद्वरण दिए गए हैं, वह ‘सार्विक ईश्वर’ को माननेवालों के लिए आपत्तिजनक हैं और उन्हें हटा दिया जाए। याद रहे रामस्वामी नायक / 17 सितम्बर 1879-24 दिसम्बर 1973/ जिन्हें ‘पेरियार’ नाम से जाना जाता है, वह आत्मसम्मान आन्दोलन के अग्रणी थे, द्रविड कझगम के संस्थापक पेरियार एक जुझारू किस्म के समाज सुधारक भी थे। याचिकाकर्ता ने मूर्ति पर लिखे उद्धरण के बारे में ‘‘कोई ईश्वर नहीं है, ईश्वर नहीं है और वाकई ईश्वर नहीं है..’ के पेरियार द्वारा कहे जाने पर भी सवाल खड़े किए थे। Continue reading ‘ईश्वर नहीं है’ कहने का अधिकार

There is no God And You Can Say so

Academics focus on secularism when secularisation can save the day.

There is no God And You Can Say so

Image Courtesy : NDTV

A simple query sometimes occasions judicial intervention: Does the right to freedom of expression apply merely to believers? On September 6, the Madras High Court dismissed a Public Interest Litigation filed by M Deivanayagam raising such a question. The petitioner wanted the atheistic inscriptions placed under the statue of Periyar, father of the Dravidian movement, installed in Tiruchirappalli, to be removed. He argued that the inscriptions are offensive to those who believe in a “universal god”.

The court upheld the right to freedom of expression—which is a part of the fundamental rights under India’s Constitution. It has reiterated that this right is universal and cannot be altered by numerical majority at any point of time.

Deivanayagam had also challenged the authenticity of the inscriptions attributed to Periyar. It reads as follows: “There is no god, no god, there really is no god/ He who created god is a fool/ He who preaches god is a scoundrel/ He who prays to god is uncivilised.”

The division bench of Justices S Manikumar and Subramonium Prasad dismissed the petition, emphasising that if a believer has the constitutional right under Article 19 to express her or his views on the existence of god and religion, then a non-believer has equal right to disagree and claim that there is no god.

Ramasamy Naicker, who is known as Periyar, pioneered the self-respect movement which sought equal status for the backward sections of in Tamil Nadu. He also founded the Dravida Kazhagham anti-caste movement and was a militant social reformer who died in 1978.

( Read the full text here :https://www.newsclick.in/There-no-God-You-Can-Say-so)

Lynchistan

Southern trees bear a strange fruit,

Blood on the leaves and blood at the root,

Black bodies swinging in the southern breeze,

Strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees.

The word lynching conjures up images of a dark period in the history of the United States of America. Between 1877 and 1950, white supremacist gangs murdered 4,000 African Americans, while the government and the police looked the other way. James Baldwin, whose essays Dark Days captures the unfolding violence, wrote, ‘A mob is not autonomous. It executes the real will of the people who rule the State’. In 1888, white supremacists lynched seven African American men for drinking from a well – which they had said was for ‘white’s only’. Baldwin recounts that story and writes, ‘The blood is on the hands of the state of Alabama which sent those mobs into the street to execute the will of the State’.

The lyrics quoted above are from the iconic song – Strange Fruit – written by the communist artist Abel Meeropol and sung by Billie Holiday. Continue reading Lynchistan

Against Aachaaram: When is Your Cloth Clean/Pure/ Both?

This is the third in the series titled Against Aachaaram: A Dossier from Malayalam on Kafila. Both excerpts have been chosen and translated by HARIKRISHNAN S. The prefatory note below is by J Devika. They are about the notions of purity of clothing harboured by the traditional caste elite in Kerala, which were revised by the neo-savarna of twentieth century Kerala.

The neo-savarna refers to a twentieth-century social formation that comprises of the upper-caste elite of traditional Kerala – the sudras (nair and ambalavasi), the samanthas and kshathriyas (the members of erstwhile ruling houses, minor and major), and the brahmins. The richer sections of the ex-untouchable Ezhava caste-community who have in effect abandoned the teachings of their chosen Guru, Sree Narayana, now actively seek membership in the neo-savarna, but are yet to be accepted fully.

Continue reading Against Aachaaram: When is Your Cloth Clean/Pure/ Both?

A War For Scientists to Join

Scientists have barely offered resistance to pseudoscience. This must change—IIT students show how.

Ramesh Pokhriyal

Surely India’s scientific community must be waking up to the realisation that their silence is detrimental to scientific development and allows many varieties of mischief to breed. In a rare show of gumption, students of the elite engineering institute, IIT Bombay, have slammed the recent decision to invite the Human Resources Development (HRD) Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’ to chair their graduation ceremony.

For too long India’s scientists have remained silent—even the credulous claims by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a speech at the Ambani hospital in November 2014 was not challenged by them for a long time. A key role has to be played by the scientific community in the ongoing battle of ideas. Perhaps students of IIT Bombay show the way.

They have said in their in-house publicationInsight IIT Bombay, that a guest who “recognised, embodied and endorsed the scientific and moral values” of their institute should have been invited instead of the minister. Their problem is with Pokhriyal’s speech, pervaded by unscientific claims and “twisted facts”. They are under no illusion the speech tried to stoke “patriotic feelings”. To the IIT students, the speech was a “mild form of scientific blasphemy”.

( Read the full article here : https://www.newsclick.in/war-scientists-join)

Who Needs Romila Thapar’s CV?

Thapar questioned imperialist versions of Indian history, which the Hindutva Brigade still goes by.

Romila Thapar

..an historian who is indefatigable in the pursuit of knowledge and prolific in its publication, and who is above all a devoted partisan of the truth. … The early history of the country has been illuminated by Professor Thapar, whom I now present, more than by almost any other scholar. An historian of that period who seriously wishes to refute accepted fictions and dispel the general darkness will need several high qualities. (From a citation presented by Oxford University to Romila Thapar while conferring on her an honorary Doctorate of Letters in 2002.)

It was 1960, when Romila Thapar, a young historian at the time, wrote a 400 plus-page monograph on Asoka and the Decline of the Mauryas. According to Oxford University Press, which published it in 2017, it tried to “trace virtually the entire span of Indian history.” The monograph is considered a classic today.

Thapar’s scholarly journey continues unabated at the age of 88. She is among the world’s foremost intellectuals, known for path-breaking work on Indian ancient history, as this interview acknowledges. Undoubtedly, her work has informed and inspired at least three generations of history students.

It hardly needs mention that Thapar has prestigious prizes to her credit for the scores of books and academic papers she has published. Twice, she declined the Padma Bhushan, the third highest civilian award granted by the government.

Now Thapar is in the news because of a strange query from the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) administration, where she has held teaching and administrative positions for roughly three decades.

( Read the full article here : https://www.newsclick.in/Romila-Thapar-CV-JNU-Historian-Hindutva-Brigade-Indian-History)

 

Books About Wars in Your Country

A brief history of books, resistance, the police and politicians.

War and Peace

It is humanly impossible for even the most learned judge to have read every book referred to in their court. For a brief while this week, the judge conducting the trial of activist Vernon Gonsalves, an accused in the Bhima Koregaon incident of 2018, became an example of this. That was until the judge clarified that he is, in fact, aware of the Russian writer Leo Tolstoy and his epical novel War and Peace.

His response when the Bhima Koregaon charge sheet was placed before his court proves he knew of the provenance and contents of War and Peace. The confusion, it now appears, arose because the charge sheet had mentioned another book with a similar title. That is how the judge had ended up asking Gonsalves’ lawyers why their client possessed a book about wars in “other countries.”

It is not the judge’s knowledge of great literature but his belief that books about wars in other countries should not be owned (or read) by Indians that is a bigger surprise. Of course, since that remark, many commentators have pointed out that Tolstoy’s writings supported peace and not war. Accordingly, Mahatma Gandhi’s long correspondence with the literary legend is being highlighted afresh.

That said, this is not the first time that judges have expressed a curious indifference to the value of the written word, whether fictional or literary. The question arises, how can we tell if this incident is an aberration or the tip of an iceberg of flimsy excuses to keep people behind bars.

( Read the full article here : https://www.newsclick.in/books-about-wars-your-country)