Category Archives: democracy

Drona Mindset Plays Havoc with Deserving Students

Modern-day Eklavyas are depriving students of their dues across the country. No government can compensate for robbing students from underprivileged backgrounds of their future.

Drona Mindset Plays Havoc with Deserving Students

In the 19th century, Chatra district in Jharkhand hosted the legendary Raja Rammohan Roy for a while. A memorial to Subedar Nadir Ali Khan and Jay Mangal Panday, martyred during the 1857 war of independence, is also here. Now, this district is in the news again, but for the wrong reasons.

A Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) report tabled in the state Assembly has detailed the embezzlement of around Rs. 85 crore, meant to fund the scholarship of students belonging to the backward classes. The siphoning went on from 2013-18, says the CAG report for 2018-19.

The modus operandi of the scammers was simple. The money was not transferred to the accounts of beneficiaries, as the state department for Scheduled Caste, Scheduled Tribes, Minority and Backward Class Welfare says. Instead, it went into the bank accounts of other individuals.

The explanation offered by the concerned people was straightforward. They told the CAG that documents related to the transfer of Rs. 70 crore got destroyed in a fire. A significant portion of the Rs. 85 crore is yet to get recovered. The department never bothered to reconcile its accounts even after the fire incident.

( Read the full text here )

Nationalism : Then and Now – Professor Mridula Mukherjee

The 10 th lecture in the Democracy Dialogues Series organised by New Socialist Initiative was delivered by Prof Mridula Mukherjee ( Retd.) on Sunday, 12 th Sepember at 6 PM ( IST). She spoke on ‘Nationalism : Then and Now’

Prof. Mridula Mukherjee, was associated with Centre for Historical Studies, JNU for a long time and was also Director of Nehru Memorial Museum and Library, ( NMML), New Delhi.

Well known as a historian for her work on the role of peasants in the Indian independence movement, she has authored two important books on the theme, Peasants in India’s Non-Violent Revolution ( Sage 2004) and Colonising Agriculture : Myth of Punjab Exceptionalism ( Sage 2005). She has also coauthored books with Prof Bipan Chandra, Prof Aditya Mukherjee on ‘India’s Struggle for Independence’ ( Penguin 2000) and ‘India After Independence‘ ( Penguin 2008). The monograph ‘RSS, School Texts and Murder of Mahatma Gandhi‘ which she has coauthored with Prof Aditya Mukherjee and Prof Sucheta Mahajan has been widely appreciated.

In this lecture Prof Mridula Mukherjee discussed Nationalism and its origins as a modern ideology, how nations are historical constructs with each nation having its own distinctive historical evolution and the emergence of two kinds of nationalism and how the present notion of aggressive, chauvinistic nationalism is in sharp contrast to the once evolved by the freedom struggle and how the task of preventing the appropriation of nationalism and its creative linking to progressive agenda is the need of the hour.

Please write to us at democracydialogues@gmail.com if you are interested in getting upadates about the series.

The lecture series is available on  facebook.com/newsocialistinitiative.nsi as well.

( Here is a playlist of earlier lectures in the Democracy Dialogues Series :

If Hindutva is dismantled, whom will it harm?

An upcoming conference in the USA, “Dismantling Global Hindutva”, organized by Indians in the USA, most of whom are legally “Hindus”, and supported by over 40 US universities, has provoked the ire of the Hindu Rashtravaadis there as well as in India. Conflating Hindutva with Hinduism is the first step. Based on this, the Hindu American Foundation claims this conference is “Hindu phobic”, that it will put the well-being of Hindu students and faculty at risk, and that “they may feel targeted or threatened, or face hostility or harassment” as a result of “the kinds of generalisations, misunderstandings, and ‘otherising’” the event will perpetuate.

Ho hum. Just another day in Hindu Rashtra-that-is-India then, for most of us “Hindus” who oppose the politics of Hindutva that promotes misunderstandings and otherises us, all the way to mob and media violence, lynchings and jail. It is from Hindutva that “Hindus” are most at risk in India today, not from any non-Hindu “Other”.

(Why these repeated quotation marks around “Hindu”? We will come to that).

An article in Firstpost uses words like “genocidal” and “xenophobic” to describe what this conference is going to be. The conference brochure shows “Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) figures being uprooted, roots and all, with the claw end of a hammer”, and this is “genocidal” according to the author. Showing the German Nazi Party being uprooted would amount to genocide too, in this understanding, perhaps? Since Hindutvavaadis are actively seeking co-victimhood with victims of anti-Semitism, as another article explicitly states, they might want to reconsider this second conflation, of the neo-fascist RSS with “Hindu”. This second article says the conference will “dehumanize Hindus everywhere” and asks indignantly if a conference titled “Dismantling Global Jewry” would be acceptable. Continue reading If Hindutva is dismantled, whom will it harm?

Planted evidence and the Bhima Koregaon-Elgar Parishad 16 – Citizens’ statement demands immediate release

We, the undersigned, condemn the continued incarceration of the academics, cultural activists, human rights activists, lawyers, poets and trade unionists arrested in the Bhima Koregaon-Elgar Parishad case and unitedly demand their immediate release. After three years of media trial, harassment, raids and arrests of 16 persons, one of the arrested, Father Stan Swamy died on July 5th following wanton medical neglect in custody amounting to institutional murder.

Those who remain in custody include professors Anand Teltumbde, Hany Babu and Shoma Sen, cultural activists Jyoti Jagtap, Ramesh Gaichor and Sagar Gorkhe, writer and anti-caste activist Sudhir Dhawale, anti-displacement activist Mahesh Raut, lawyers Arun Ferreira, Surendra Gadling and Sudha Bharadwaj, human rights activists Gautam Navlakha, Rona Wilson and Vernon Gonsalves and poet Varavara Rao. Now, with the revelations in the Pegasus Project, it is clear that 8 of the 16 were under surveillance for several years before their arrest. Moreover, the Arsenal Consulting reports show how evidence was planted in the devices of at least two of the arrested. The revelations have unambiguously exposed the extent of illegal military-grade surveillance on the arrested, their families, colleagues and friends. Besides violating their privacy, the extraordinary measures taken to silence voices of dissent in the name of national security stands exposed.

Continue reading Planted evidence and the Bhima Koregaon-Elgar Parishad 16 – Citizens’ statement demands immediate release

Conceptualizing the Counter-Revolution in the Seventy-Fifth Year of Independence

[‘Parapolitics’ began on 16 January 2020 as a weekly column at the height of the anti-CAA movement. After eight weeks, it was made into a fortnightly column and now, eighteen months and 44 posts later,  as I get involved with a study of Marxisms in the ‘Global South’, beginning with this post, this column will now appear once a month, on the second Saturday of every month.]

The courageous National Dastak reporter Anmol Pritam was being forced by the demonstrators to chant their slogans. 
Image courtesy The News Minute

 

What happened at Jantar Mantar on 9 August – the anniversary of the Quit India movement – was not just violently anti-Muslim in the slogans raised; it was also symptomatic of the larger counter-revolutionary shift that has taken place in our politics. That Quit India or the ‘August revolution’ day was sought to be taken over as a final gesture of that grand victory that the Sangh Combine believes it has already won, is telling. It is telling also because it is a formation that studiously stayed away from the mainstream of the anticolonial struggle but now wants to take over that legacy and saffronize it. How the rally was organized and continued to be held despite the police claiming it had no permission to do so, does not remain so much of a mystery once you realize that the key organizers are Sangh/BJP leaders or parts of the larger network of terror associated with them. But that is another matter. It is important to recognize that incidents like these are but signs of a new stage in the ongoing counter-revolution where the Hindu Right is no longer content with claiming its own distinctiveness in opposing mainstream (Congress-led) nationalism but is out to make a determined bid to appropriate the entire legacy of that nationalism. The insistence, in recent times, on the national tricolour as a sign of its aggressive nationalism, is entirely of a piece with this attempt to occupy the mainstream.

Continue reading Conceptualizing the Counter-Revolution in the Seventy-Fifth Year of Independence

resisting the papa state? E Bull jet brothers or hadiya?

In the recent controversy over the arrest of the travel vloggers Ebin and Libin who rode high on popularity with lakhs of subscribers through their Youtube channel E Bull Jet, it is very hard not to side with the two young men. The flamboyant pair whose hugely popular travel — or ‘van life’ — videos have a massive following especially among male adolescents and youth — are school drop-outs and have a history of rising from severe social disadvantage — literally, of pulling themselves up by their own bootstraps. The two young men, despite their excesses, pull at your heartstrings. Their smile, their slang, their sense of excitement on the road, the innocent gawking — all of it looks disarmingly innocent. It is also true that the crime they committed was not major; nor is justice handed out evenly. That is, such crimes around vehicles and driving are not new and it is not at all clear if the powerful who commit such crimes are tackled in the same way. Therefore the video which showed the brothers being hauled into the police van was painful for many of us (including me) — Ebin wept aloud, “adikkalle saare! Njaan onnum cheithilla … kolapaathakiyeppole enne kondupokunnu….” (don’t beat me please, sir. I didn’t do anything wrong . … I am being taken away like a murderer). That despondent wail somehow refuses to get out of my head; that is why I need to write this.

Continue reading resisting the papa state? E Bull jet brothers or hadiya?

বিগ ব্রাদার সব দেখার চেষ্টা করলেও, ছোট ছোট লড়াইগুলো একদিন জয়ী হবেই : সুমন সেনগুপ্ত

Guest post by SUMAN SENGUPTO

Data hacking, representational image, courtesy DNA

এক গুপ্তচর এসে পড়েছে আমাদের জীবনে, যে  আমাদের সমস্ত গতিবিধি, কথোপকথনের ওপর নজর রাখছে। আজকে আর নতুন করে নিশ্চিত বলে দিতে হবে না, কে বা কারা এই গুপ্তচরবৃত্তি করেছে  এবং তাঁদের এই গুপ্তচরবৃত্তির উদ্দেশ্যই বা কি ?  কারণ, সংবাদপত্রের খবরের দৌলতে এই গুপ্তচরের নাম, কিভাবে কাজ করে তা মোটামুটি আজকে বেশীরভাগ মানুষের নখদর্পনে বা বলা ভালো মুঠোফোনের দর্পনে। মুঠোফোন বা মোবাইল ফোনের উল্লেখ করার কেন প্রয়োজন হলো? কারণ এবারের গুপ্তচর এসেছে অন্যভাবে, মোবাইল ফোনের মাধ্যমে । যে সামাজিক মাধ্যম নিয়ে আমরা এতো আত্মরতিতে ব্যস্ত সেই সামাজিক মাধ্যমও যে সরকারের অঙ্গুলিহেলন ছাড়া চলবে না, তার আভাস পাওয়া যাচ্ছে। যে প্রযুক্তি ব্যবহার করে আমরা কখনো কখনো আত্মতৃপ্তি লাভ করছি যে এই তো বেশ সরকারের বিরুদ্ধে কথা বলা হলো, সেই প্রযুক্তিই ব্যবহার করা হচ্ছে আমাদের প্রতিটি কথা শোনার জন্য এবং তা হচ্ছে এবং হয়ে চলেছে সেই মুঠোফোনের মধ্যে দিয়েই।

Continue reading বিগ ব্রাদার সব দেখার চেষ্টা করলেও, ছোট ছোট লড়াইগুলো একদিন জয়ী হবেই : সুমন সেনগুপ্ত

Hacking India’s Democracy – From Monitoring Metadata to Spying Real Time: C.P. Geevan

Guest post by CP GEEVAN

On June 18 (Sunday evening in India), freedom-loving people across the world were shocked by the revelations of how a highly sophisticated and expensive digital technology, named Pegasus, a spyware sold by Israeli company NSO Group, has been systematically abused for years to spy on journalists, human rights defenders, academics, businesspeople, lawyers, doctors, union leaders, diplomats, politicians and even several heads of states. Regimes in several countries continue to criminally deploy such technologies to suppress democratic rights, curtail human rights, and organise surveillance on a massive scale. Such technologies are military grade weapons and are recognised to be precisely that. It is developed and sold by the NSO Group, a private company supported by Israel. As per NSO, they sell licences only to agencies authorised by a national government and approved by the Israeli government. Although it is being referred to as a software or malware, the spying system consists of an elaborate set of arrangements including a secure supporting backend maintained by the NSO Group.

Continue reading Hacking India’s Democracy – From Monitoring Metadata to Spying Real Time: C.P. Geevan

A Poem For Umar, Khalid Saifi and Other Political Prisoners: Nabiya Khan

Guest Post by NABIYA KHAN

Our valiant young activists, defenders of democracy, continue to be in prison for almost a year – some a bit more and some a bit less. All under entirely framed charges, while the actual perpetrators of violence continue to roam free, spreading hate. Celebrating the commitment and courage of these activists, here is an offering by Nabiya Khan, courtesy Karwan-e-Mohabbat. The Devanagari and Urdu texts follow after the video

Continue reading A Poem For Umar, Khalid Saifi and Other Political Prisoners: Nabiya Khan