Hail the Students’ Struggle for its Victory in the Battle against Corporate Publishers : New Socialist Initiative

Guest Post by New Socialist Initiative (Delhi Chapter)

On 9 March 2017 three well-established academic corporate publishing houses, Oxford University Press, Cambridge University Press and Taylor and Francis withdrew their copyright suit filed in the High Court against Delhi University and Rameshwari Photocopy Shop, a shop stationed at the Delhi School of Economics campus in Delhi University licensed by the University to carry out photocopying work. The suit that was filed in August 2012 on the grounds that photocopying material from books published by the above three publishers by university students, particularly in the compilation of coursepacks, constituted copyright infringement and revenue loss to the publishers. Right from the beginning it was clear this case was treated as a test case to instate a licensing regime, much like one that exists in the US and other First World countries.
Being the absolute primary constituency to be impacted by such a case and its possible outcomes, students of Delhi University were amongst the first to take up the battle against some of the most powerful publishing houses in academia. The ‘Campaign to Save D.School Photocopy Shop’ soon became the ‘Association of Students for Equitable Access to Knowledge’ (ASEAK), reflecting the growing politicisation of the student community on the issue of the knowledge commons in order to resist an increasing attempt across the world to create a market out of it where it didn’t as yet exist. This can be seen in the case of Costa Rica as well where there was an attempt to make photocopying illegal, a move that was successfully opposed on a massive scale by students.
The students of Delhi University, organised as ASEAK, opposed the move through a range of mechanisms, mobilising students from class to class, organising public meetings, taking out protest rallies, campaigning against these publishers at the annual World Book Fair held in New Delhi, influencing public opinion through writing in newspapers, and last but not the least, taking up the legal battle in the courts. NSI hails the struggle of the students that brought to the centre of the debate questions of equity and justice within the arena of production and distribution of knowledge resources, challenging the private property regime sought to be implemented in the sphere of knowledge production by these big academic corporate publishing houses. 
For the last few years the primary site of the battle has been in the High Court at New Delhi. The publishers have received repeated blow after blow in this process as well, leading to their final withdrawal of the suit altogether. The win is a big victory and testament to the struggle of the students, backed by a legal team that has been seminal to the victory, along with support from the academic community. The case, that attempted to strike a ‘balance’ between private profits of the publishers and the rights of students to access materials in the pursuit of their education, has dealt a blow to precisely such a misconception that the two ‘interests’ are in fact of equal concern.
Along with students, who assert their right over the materials they access as part of their fundamental right to education, scholars, often the authors of these materials, have equally come out to state that there is no better reward for their work as intellectuals, as to be read by as many students as can get hold of their work, photocopied or otherwise. The emphasis of the corporate publishers in asserting absolute ownership over the works they publish, in a rare instance where the labour of writing a book is provided at no cost to the publishers, borne by universities, students’ fees and taxpayers’ money instead, is shameful and needs to be rejected at all cost.
NSI congratulates the students, lawyers, academics and concerned citizens who persisted in their resistance against the bullying tactics of big academic corporate publishing houses and calls on the academic community to engage with new ways of producing and sharing knowledge so as to create equitable, just and democratic structures of knowledge production.
EDUCATION OVER COPYRIGHT! KNOWLEDGE OVER PROFIT!

Radhika Vemula on Bhim Auto

radhika vemula के लिए चित्र परिणाम

(Photo Courtesy : indiatoday.intoday.in, Photo Illustration by Saurabh Singh)

..The value of a man was reduced to his immediate identity and nearest possibility. To a vote.  To a number. To a thing. Never was a man treated as a mind. As a glorious thing made up of star dust.  In every field, in studies, in streets, in politics, and in dying and living.

..My birth is my fatal accident. I can never recover from my childhood loneliness. The unappreciated child from my past.

(Excerpts from Rohith Vemula’s suicide note)

 

The middle of this month would witness a different type of Yatra on the streets of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh. Neither it would be led by high profile leaders – who have the aura of Z plus security with them – nor it would be undertaken in an ultramodern bus – fitted with latest facilities and which could even be used as podium for a public meeting.

It would be taken out on a blue pickup truck renamed Bhim Auto and would be led by a fifty year old woman Radhika Vemula  along with her son Raja demanding justice for her elder son Rohith. During this Yatra Radhika intends to visit one Velivada ( Dalit hamlet) after other in these two states to tell people how castiest forces are hell bent upon denying dalits their due rights and how justice is still being denied to her son who committed suicide because of the machinations of such people. (http://nsi-delhi.blogspot.in/search/?q=rohith+vemula). She would also communicate to them that not only the ruling dispensation at the centre led by BJP but the state governments in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana have been callous towards the plight of the Dalits and have joined hands to deny justice to her son. Not some time ago the government of Andhra Pradesh had made outrageous statements about Rohith not being dalit and earlier in February had demanded that Radhika ‘prove’ that she is Dalit in 15 days. Continue reading “Radhika Vemula on Bhim Auto”

Looking ‘Right’, Talking ‘Liberal’ – The Twists and Turns of Makarand Paranjape: Anirban Bhattacharya

Guest Post by ANIRBAN BHATTACHARYA

[This missive to Makarand Paranjape, who is a professor at Jawaharlal Nehru University, comes in response to his recent op-ed piece in the Indian Express where he comments on the events at Ramjas College, Delhi University on the 21st of February and in their wake, in Delhi University, on the 22nd of February]

Mr. Makarand Paranjape. In your analysis of the post-Ramjas fallout in Delhi University in Indian Express on the 4th of March, one can see that you have donned a “liberal” cloak. But there were way too many holes in that cloak to go without a counter and hence this response.

Continue reading “Looking ‘Right’, Talking ‘Liberal’ – The Twists and Turns of Makarand Paranjape: Anirban Bhattacharya”

Our “hormonal outbursts” will be your nightmare! Pinjra Tod

Statement and image by Pinjra Tod

On the eve of International Working Women’s Day, Maneka Gandhi has given a deeply patriarchal, casteist and classist statement to a media channel saying that hostel curfews are necessary as “laxman rekha” for controlling women’s “hormonal outbursts”, that the question of “women’s safety in colleges cannot be solved with just two Bihari guards with dandas”, that there should be separate days for men and women to go to the library at night.

Its clear to us that she has said this today in response to the fact that women students across the country from Benaras to Mumbai, Delhi to Patiala, Lucknow to Hyderabad, Chennai to Ludhiana, Roorkie to Cuttack have come out strongly to assert their presence in the university space and claim over public resources.

Continue reading “Our “hormonal outbursts” will be your nightmare! Pinjra Tod”

“Karenge politics, karenge pyar” – New slogan and new politics: Baidik Bhattacharya

Guest post by BAIDIK BHATTACHARYA

[While the media worked overtime to present the developments in Ramjas College and Delhi University as a clash between two student organizations and two political formations, Baidik Bhattacharya here reflects on the new kinds of politics, rooted in the everyday and in love, that found expression in the University.- AN]

On 28 February, 2017, thousands of students and teachers of Delhi University and other academic institutions of the NCR region marched across the North Campus, protesting against the recent acts of vandalism and violence at Ramjas College. As the march progressed through the winding roads, touching various colleges and departments of the university, feisty students raised several slogans to oppose the perpetrators of such violence, the student organization of the RSS—the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad or ABVP. Some of these slogans were well-known, some predictable, but some were really creative. I want to briefly discuss one such creative slogan, and its implications: “Karenge politics karenge pyar, ABVP hoshiyar.” Chanted primarily by groups of women and queer activists, this innovative rendering of one’s rights across the university campuses captured some of the pressing issues that have surfaced in the last couple of years in student politics.

Continue reading ““Karenge politics, karenge pyar” – New slogan and new politics: Baidik Bhattacharya”

A Tale of Two and a Half Marches – Two for Azadi and a Half for Ghulami.

[Videos of song by Shehla Rashid and of speeches by Nivedita Menon, Kavita Krishnan, Umar Khalid and Jignesh Mevani, courtesy, Samim Asgor Ali]

February gives way to March and spring returns to Delhi. And what a spring it is. The right wing thugs of the ABVP choose the wrong time to attack, once again. They must really get themselves a better astrologer, or at least a better class of charlatan who can tell them if there ever is a right time to stage their goon show. I suspect there isn’t.

Spring in DU - Fight Back DU
Spring in DU – Fight Back DU

Continue reading “A Tale of Two and a Half Marches – Two for Azadi and a Half for Ghulami.”

Hard Ways of Lucidity – Thinking About the Crisis in the University: Prasanta Chakravarty

Guest Post by Prasanta Chakravarty

As I see it, university spaces are being assaulted at least from two sides; though it seems as if the two sides are antagonistic to each other, in practice they come dangerously close to each other. How and why is this happening, and what can be done about it?

Prasanta Chakravarty, immediately after being assaulted on February 22nd. Image from the India Today Website.
Prasanta Chakravarty, immediately after being assaulted on February 22nd. Image from the India Today Website.

Continue reading “Hard Ways of Lucidity – Thinking About the Crisis in the University: Prasanta Chakravarty”