Letter from former civil servants to Chief Secretary, Haryana on intimidation of Muslims offering namaz

Former civil servants have written open letters since 2017 (here and here), expressing their anguish at the unchecked attempts to spread hatred and discord among communities. Eleven of these civil servants have now written (on May 7, 2018) to the Chief Secretary of Haryana on the issue of harassment and intimidation of Muslims offering namaz in Haryana, by vigilante groups.

To Shri Depinder Singh Dhesi IAS,  Chief Secretary, Govt of Haryana.

Dear Chief Secretary,

We write to draw your attention to an urgent problem.

Over the last one month, Friday namaaz offered by the Muslim community in open spaces have been attacked and disrupted at several locations in Gurgaon district. These attacks have been organised by a dozen or so organisations (including the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, Bajrang Dal, Hindu Kranti Dal, Gorakshak Dal, Hindu Jagaran Manch and Shiv Sena) that have come together under the umbrella of the Hindu Sanyukt Sangharsh Samiti.

The attacks are coordinated, violent and clearly designed to terrorise and intimidate and are taking place across the district. Last Friday a group of hoodlums arrived in four jeeps at a namaaz venue on MG Road and started shouting abusive and provocative slogans at the assembled namaazis. Although a police force was present, it took no action to stop the sloganeering and threats. On the contrary, the police asked the namaazis to disperse. At a namaaz in Sector 40, the Imam who was leading the prayers was pushed to the ground. People who came for the prayers had no option but to fold up their mats and leave.

Continue reading “Letter from former civil servants to Chief Secretary, Haryana on intimidation of Muslims offering namaz”

Exposing the mirage of ‘Modicare’: Jan Swasthya Abhiyan

Statement by JAN SWASTHYA ABHIYAN

The Union Budget 2018-19 makes tall claims, with no clear road map for the health sector, one that is sensitive to the needs of the poor and the vulnerable population of India.

The allocations for Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) (including for AYUSH) have increased from Budget Estimate of Rs. 50,281 crore in 2017-18 Rs. 56,226 crore in 2018-19.

However, from 2017-18 (Revised Estimate) the increase is much lower, a mere Rs. 1374 crore, or just about 2.5 percent. This is a decline in real terms if we account for inflation, and Union Budget allocations for the health sector have stagnated at 0.3 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The 2017 target of National Health Policy (NHP) is 2.5 percent of GDP as health expenditure by the Government (both Centre and States) by 2025. However, with central allocations stagnating at the current 0.3 percent of GDP, it would not be possible to achieve this target.

The ‘Modicare’ mirage

Continue reading “Exposing the mirage of ‘Modicare’: Jan Swasthya Abhiyan”

International Mother Language Day: Ayesha Kidwai

Guest post by AYESHA KIDWAI

Happy International Mother Language Day. This day, declared by UNESCO, is straight up South Asia’s alley as it celebrates linguistic diversity and multilingualism. In other words, it celebrates each Indian.

Here’s what you can do from now on to celebrate it:
1. Resist Hindi imposition. An official language is not the national language. Persian was the language of administration for close to three hundred years, Sanskrit has been the language of knowledge for close to two thousand years, but neither were the only languages in the room. And we know what happened to those languages over time.

2. Defend diversity: Understand that, as in nature, numerical strength is not might (e.g., there may be more cockroaches in the world than humans), so if you belong to a large group of people, then this doesn’t mean that your language is better and more representative of the ‘heart and soul’ of ‘Indianness’. In India, literally hundreds of languages with populations ranging between 500 to 10,000 have flourished (many reported over all the Census) because

(a) mothers and fathers speak the language to their children in their homes beyond their school years, and Continue reading “International Mother Language Day: Ayesha Kidwai”

‘Why Ghalib appears so contemporary even today ?’ : Interview with Hasan Abdullah

Ghalib has fascinated generations of people and they have tried to understand/ interpret his poetry in their own way. For any such individual it is really difficult to recollect when and how Ghalib entered her/ his life and ensconced himself comfortably in one’s heart.

This wanderer still faintly remembers how many of Ghalib’s shers were part of common parlance even in an area whose lingua franca is not Hindustani. His andaaz-e-bayaan, his hazaron khwahishein, his making fun of the priest etc. could be discerned in people’s exchanges – without most of them even knowing that they were quoting the great poet.

To be very frank, to me, it is bewildering that a poet – who died over 150 years back – looks so contemporary or at times even a little ahead of our own times. Is it because, he talks about primacy of human being, at times philosophising about life,  and on occasions talking about rebelling against the existing taboos in very many ways? But then have not many other great poets have dealt with the same subjects/ topics? Continue reading “‘Why Ghalib appears so contemporary even today ?’ : Interview with Hasan Abdullah”

Statement about the attacks on Dalits in Bhima Koregaon & the Subsequent developments in Maharashtra : Umar Khalid

Guest Post by Umar Khalid

I went to Maharashtra as I along with other activists and intellectuals were invited to come there. I along with others was a guest there. And I would remember fondly the love and support that I received in Pune and Mumbai. I would remember the resilience and enthusiasm of the people I met and their resoluteness to fight Manuvaad and centuries old casteist tyranny. I would remember the immense inspiration that I felt, when we paid homage to Jyotiba Phule and Savitribai Phule in Phule-wada, Pune. And, No I will not let two days of media trials by a few TV anchors, who are more of professional howlers, spoil these wonderful memories. I will not let their criminal cacophony and mindless vilification of me, Jignesh & others shadow my beautiful memories of Maharashtra.

The state of Maharashtra as well as the rest of the country is at a critical juncture today. On the one hand are forces in power who want to push our country back to many centuries and on the other are people who are resisting this Neo-Peshwahi, the casteist-communal-fascist regime of BJP-RSS. In my speech at Elgar Parishaad on 31st December 2017, I had said that the year 2018 is going to be a very challenging one. The last 3 and half years of the Modi Sarkar has exposed the BJP’s jumlas of Ache Din and Vikas as hollow, bitter and brutal lies.

As the General Elections of 2019 approach, BJP/RSS will now resort to creating civil strife amongst the people, polarising them on the basis of caste and religion and unleashing attacks on muslims and Dalits. The developments over the last few days vindicate me, a little too soon. Several regions of Maharashtra are in the midst of an acute agrarian distress. Both Marathas and Dalits are victims of this agrarian crisis that has been precipitated by the policies of both Modi and Fadnavis. The BJP/RSS regime has no resolution to offer to the farmers of Maharashtra. Therefore, unleashing attacks on Dalits through their hoodlums and portraying it as a caste clash between Dalits & Marathas will remain their only strategy. Continue reading “Statement about the attacks on Dalits in Bhima Koregaon & the Subsequent developments in Maharashtra : Umar Khalid”

Say NO to Aadhar – sign the petition

Sign the petition here.

Text of the petition

I’m Saying NO to Aadhaar

We the undersigned wish to place on record our opposition to the Aadhaar scheme which is being aggressively pushed by the government in complete violation of norms, procedures and Supreme Court orders. 

Many of us have resisted enrolment. Many of us are already enrolled. But today, we stand together to say NO To Aadhaar. 

We oppose Aadhaar because it violates our Constitutional rights and freedoms as citizens. 

We oppose Aadhaar because it undermines the foundations of our democracy, disempowering us as citizens while giving government the means to control every aspect of our lives. 

The mess created by Aadhaar is not a matter of poor implementation or “teething troubles” as claimed by the government.  Aadhaar cannot be fixed with some tweaking and tinkering. It is fundamentally flawed and  must be scrapped.      

We say NO to Aadhaar because  Continue reading “Say NO to Aadhar – sign the petition”

Failings Foretold – Reflections on the Unreflective Masculinity in the Time of the List: R Srivatsan

Guest post by  R. SRIVATSAN

It is with a recognition of a failing foretold that I read the different posts, letters and conversations around the list (the unmistakable one today).  That one’s teachers, seniors, peers and respected fellow academics have been named as having sexually harassed women cannot be digested without trouble.  I struggled to comprehend what had happened and went through all the emotions of denial and outrage, followed by shock, acceptance and hopefully a slowly emerging wisdom.

It then came back to memory that I too have sexually harassed women on three occasions.  However, I was in anonymous situations which were not explicitly relationships of power or authority.  And I did withdraw an overture (or a pass, to call it out by its name) when rejected.  Perhaps I have been cautious in not letting my shenanigans come back from the past to bite me.  Or perhaps I cleverly chose occasions and situations that would not be traceable to me.  Also, most importantly, perhaps those women who could have named and shamed me have been kinder and gentler than I deserved.  Finally, if I were a successful teacher today, perhaps my name too would have been on the list.  This response is based on the recognition that I virtually am.

Continue reading “Failings Foretold – Reflections on the Unreflective Masculinity in the Time of the List: R Srivatsan”