Category Archives: Everyday Life

RE-ORIENTING URBAN PLANNING STRATEGIES and The Master Plan of Delhi – Dilli hai jiska naam III: A.G. Krishna Menon

We thought of a series on Delhi that does not talk only of the narrow lanes of Shahjahanabad, the Mughalia, aka Mughlai delights and the lip-smacking Chaats of Chandni Chowk or the grand ruins of the seven Delhis and the wide open spaces and broad roads, but a series that also looks at the way Delhi has evolved. We wanted to explore the logic of the city and of the forces that have shaped the idea of the city itself.  It was this idea that made us approach people who have engaged with the city with love and care for decades and we requested them to write for Kafila. 

This series is titled Dilli hai jiska naam and the links to the previous posts can be found at the end.

This is the third post in the series by AGK MENON

Re-orienting urban planning strategies – The Master Plan of Delhi: A.G. Krishna Menon

Introduction

Delhi is an extraordinary historic city, comparable to Rome or Istanbul in the range and significance of its extant heritage. It is now the capital of a politically and economically aspiring Republican. However, unlike Rome or Istanbul, the significance of the city’s historic legacy plays little role in determining how the contemporary city is envisaged. In fact, this legacy is elided in civic planning and politically contested.  Therefore, when in January 2013, the Government of India forwarded a dossier to UNESCO, to nominate Delhi as a World Heritage City, it was a historic turnaround because it marked a paradigm shift in how the civic authorities sought to view its future.

Until then, India had never sought to celebrate any of its remarkable historic cities for their heritage characteristics let alone conserve it. However, it had been the contention of the Delhi Chapter of the Indian Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH), that there was a strong correlation between not valuing the cultural legacy of historic cities and the degraded conditions they had been reduced to in contemporary times. For example, the Master Plan of Delhi officially identified Shahjahanabad, the pre-eminent Mughal city built by Emperor Shahjahan in 1648, as a slum that needs to be redeveloped in the manner the bombed out cities of Europe after World War II were rebuilt. These circumstances motivated INTACH to actively advocate the need to conserve historic cities and it worked to get Delhi nominated as a World Heritage City. Continue reading RE-ORIENTING URBAN PLANNING STRATEGIES and The Master Plan of Delhi – Dilli hai jiska naam III: A.G. Krishna Menon

Basti Basna Khel Nahin Hai – Dilli hai jiska naam II: Narayani Gupta

This is the second part of a series on Delhi that does not talk only of the narrow lanes of Shahjahanabad, the Mughalia, aka Mughlai delights and the lip-smacking Chaats of Chandni Chowk or the grand ruins of the seven Delhis and the wide open spaces and broad roads, but a series that also looks at the way Delhi has evolved. We wanted to explore the logic of the city and of the forces that have shaped the idea of the city itself. It was this idea that made us approach people who have engaged with the city with love and care for decades, and we requested them to write for Kafila.

This series is titled Dilli Hai Jiska Naam, and the first post in the series by Pradip Krishen can be read here.

Here is the second post, by NARAYANI GUPTA

Basti basna khel nahin: Narayani Gupta

Presented at a seminar on ‘The Right to the City’ at Indraprastha College, Delhi University, on 5 September 2019 

The strident cry of the Right to the City takes us back 50 years, to Henri Lefebvre. 50 years ago, when I was in my 20s,  parts of the world turned upside down – 1967 saw the Naxalbari peasant uprising, in 1968, Lefebvre’s book Le Droit a la ville was followed by the  protest movements of students and workers in Europe. 1969, the rhythms of Woodstock, and in India the excitement of the founding of JNU… Today we get late for appointments because of the pile-up of cars on the roads. 50 years ago it was because of the river of red flags that eddied through the streets from Ramlila Maidan to Sansad Bhavan. Government bred its ‘other’ – protest. Things fall into place when recalled from a later time, but when they happen they merely disturb the surface.

So this is a golden jubilee moment, but also a nostalgia moment, nostalgia for that stubborn sense of hope which we seem to have lost, for the battle-cries now replaced by triumphalist slogans.

The plea for a collective life and an equal access to resources – which is implied in the battle-cry ‘The Right to the City’ – has to be placed against the histories of particular countries. It is certain conjunctures that explain why something happens when it does – even the rallying-cry of the Right to the City.

Continue reading Basti Basna Khel Nahin Hai – Dilli hai jiska naam II: Narayani Gupta

Restoring Delhi’s Central Ridge – Dilli hai jiska naam I: Pradip Krishen

We thought of a series on Delhi that does not talk only of the narrow lanes of Shahjahanabad, the Mughalia, aka Mughlai delights and the lip-smacking Chaats of Chandni Chowk or the grand ruins of the seven Delhis and the wide open spaces and broad roads, but a series that also looks at the way Delhi has evolved. We wanted to explore the logic of the city and of the forces that have shaped the idea of the city itself.  It was this idea that made us approach people who have engaged with the city with love and care for decades, and we requested them to write for Kafila. 

This series is titled, Dilli Hai Jiska Naam, and here is the first piece, by PRADIP KRISHEN

Restoring Delhi’s Central Ridge:  Pradip Krishen

(All images by Pradip Krishen)

Delhi’s Central Ridge is big — a little more than 850 hectares. That’s 8 and a half square kilometres of semi-wild forest in the heart of a totteringly large metropolis.

The Central Ridge is mostly open thorn forest but it can be quite dense in pockets. An evergreen climber called ‘heens’ (Capparis sepiaria) adds to the impression of density

It’s true the Ridge is degraded and filled with invasive trees from South America, its potholed roads are used as a rubbish dump and there are all sorts of other problems inside, but it’s still remarkable that the Central Ridge exists at all. And that it hasn’t been taken over to make multi-storeyed flats for civil servants. Or worse.

The President’s Bodyguard leases a polo ground inside the Central Ridge and does some damage by scattering rubbish from its Polo clubhouse indiscriminately on the Ridge.

I can’t say I know all of the Central Ridge. But it’s now been nearly 50 years since I first started going in there, and there’s a portion — it could be as much as 90 or 100 hectares or so — that I can claim to know really well because I walk there every day. I’m writing a journal-style book about the C Ridge — only about this parcel I’m most familiar with — and I hope to give you a sense of what it is about the C Ridge that I find not just fascinating but important from the angle of how this city is evolving and growing. Continue reading Restoring Delhi’s Central Ridge – Dilli hai jiska naam I: Pradip Krishen

Post Covid world and Bahujan: Pramod Ranjan

Guest Post by PRAMOD RANJAN

Translated from the original Hindi by Ekta News and Features

It is said that had the spread of the Novel Coronavirus not been contained by imposing lockdowns, by now, it would have consumed a substantial chunk of the human residents of the earth. But this claim requires closer examination.

Lockdown killed lakhs of persons the world over and its after-effects have ruined the economies of scores of low- and middle-income countries like India. Crores of persons have been condemned to a life of poverty and misery.

What is going to change
Offices and educational institutions were a gift of modern age. By bringing human minds together, the places of work and the centres of education not only scripted a new chapter in the development of the human race but also brought diverse communities on common platforms. It is almost certain that in the post-Covid world, schools and offices would not exist as we know them today.[1] A new law for bringing about changes in educational institutions has come into force in India.[2] Labour laws have been almost abolished and companies have been given the licence to exploit the workers.[3] Not only manual labourers but white-collar workers, too, would be caught in this web of exploitation and mental turmoil[4]. The rights of journalists and media employees, related to their service conditions and salary and allowances, have been withdrawn through changes in the law.[5]

There is also a real danger that globalization (the spurt in commercial and business activities at the global level around the 1990s) would be reversed. This will spell disaster for the economies of the developing countries. In India and many other countries, the poor could join the middle-income group only due to globalization[6]Continue reading Post Covid world and Bahujan: Pramod Ranjan

बेटी बचाओ का नारा देने वाले बलात्कारियों को बचाने में लगे हैं – यौन हिंसा और राजकीय दमन के खिलाफ महिलाएँ

Statement by WOMEN AGAINST SEXUAL VIOLENCE AND STATE REPRESSION on Hathras and other cases in UP

यौन हिंसा और राजकीय दमन के खिलाफ महिलाएँ (WSS)  उत्तर प्रदेश में महिलाओं पर बढ़ रही यौन हिंसा पर चिंता व्यक्त करती है। पिछले दिनों हाथरस और बलरामपुर में दलित लड़कियों के साथ हुए बलात्कार और हाथरस के पूरे मामले में उत्तर प्रदेश पुलिस और प्रशासन की लापरवाही और बलात्कारियों को फायदा पहुंचाने वाली कार्यवाही, जिसमें रातों रात पीड़िता के शव को जलाना भी शामिल है, की कड़े शब्दों में निंदा करते करते हैं। 

हाथरस के जघन्य बलात्कार और हत्या की घटना पर रोष व्यक्त करते हुए WSS का कहना है कि उत्तर प्रदेश में महिलाओं और उसमे भी दलित समुदाय की महिला की कोई सुनवाई नहीं है।

Continue reading बेटी बचाओ का नारा देने वाले बलात्कारियों को बचाने में लगे हैं – यौन हिंसा और राजकीय दमन के खिलाफ महिलाएँ

AIDMAM & NDMJ Condemn Rising Atrocities Against Dalit Women and Minor Girls in UP

Joint Press Statement issued by All India Dalit Mahila Adhikar Manch (AIDMAM)  and National Dalit Movement for Justice (NDMJ)

On 29th September 2020 India has once again failed Dalit Women and Girls in upholding their rights and safety; we have lost another young life to the savage brutal gangrape and murder. This brutal incident occurred on 14th September in Hathras, Uttar Pradesh and once again exposes the harsh realities of caste based sexual assault faced by Dalit women and girls in this country. Victim was dragged with the dupatta around her neck into the field where she was gang raped; suffered severe spinal cord injury, severely beaten up and also got deep cut in her tongue as she fought back the rapist. She was not in a situation to give her statement till 23rd September 2020 due to the severe injuries that paralyzed her condition.
The level of brutality and inhumanity continues even after the demise of the victim, as the UP police forcibly cremated the body in the early morning around 3 AM on 30th September. Victim’s body was burnt by the police against the will of the family members and not letting them take her home one final time. Beside this, the police locked family members and locals inside the house as per the statement of family members of the deceased.

Rising Atrocities
Such ghastly incidents of violence are perpetrated everyday against women and minors and especially during the Pandemic and the Lockdown. The state of Uttar Pradesh has witnessed several cases of atrocities against Dalit women; with Lakhimpur Kheri leading in the graph of violence. In the past 60 days more than six atrocities were reported in the district against Dalit women and minor girls. Similarly in Saharanpur district, six cases of abduction and rape have been reported where NDMJ has intervened. These gruesome incidents of sexual violence reflect the real picture of Indian society constructed on violent casteist patriarchal structure.
It should be noted that the crime rate against Dalits in Uttar Pradesh has been rising exponentially in the last few years. As per the NCRB report of 2018, Uttar Pradesh tops the list of number of crimes committed against Dalits including Dalit women in 2018. Also, Uttar Pradesh has recorded the maximum number of cases of rape (526), attempt to rape (48), incidences of kidnap and abduction of Dalit women (381) and incidences of assault (711) in the year of 2018 under the SC/ST (PoA) Act. As per the compiled data of the NCRB reports of 2014-18, Uttar Pradesh has witnessed the maximum number of atrocities against Dalit women in India and an increase of 15% in the number or rape cases against Dalit women from 2015-18. 7,920 number of atrocities against Dalit women have been registered under the SC/ST (PoA) Amendment Act in Uttar Pradesh from 2014-18. A big majority of this figure has been for the cases of assault (3,421) and rape (2,410) of Dalit women. Attempt to rape (219) and kidnap and abduction (1,870) also form a major form of violence committed against Dalit women in Uttar Pradesh from 2014-18. Continue reading AIDMAM & NDMJ Condemn Rising Atrocities Against Dalit Women and Minor Girls in UP

Yogi Adityanath Must Immediately Resign for his Govt. has failed to protect SC/ST women in UP: Joint Statement

The following joint statement was issues 11 organizations including the Dalit Adivasi Shakti Adhikar Manch and the NAPM, in Delhi today.

In the past few years the number of new cases of rape of young women have increased fourfold in Uttar Pradesh. The Yogi Adityanath’s government should take the accountability of deteriorating law and order in Uttar Pradesh which has failed to protect young girls and has not been able to provide any security to them in Uttar Pradesh. Many media houses have been questioned for mentioning the caste of the girl but one cannot not mention that it is a result of a very brutal caste based violence. Dalit women are often subjected to the most brutal violence in this country so much so that the mainstream media also does not cover it because it is not relevant for them to cover these issues. When it comes to caste based violence in India Dalit women are the most vulnerable because the violence against them are culturally and politically motivated. It is a revenge against the entire spectrum of why a woman has raised her voice, these therefore are tools to suppress her voice all together. The upper caste men often wants to teach the Dalit woman a lesson which is deterrent in nature so that other Dalit women do not challenge their authority. This is why according to reports 4 Dalit women are raped every day. In Uttar Pradesh itself that data shows that the Scheduled Caste and Schedule Tribe (Prevention of atrocities), Act, 1989 has become a tool to appease the vote banks and it so far is remembered during the time of caste baste conflicts that is why the SC/ST Commission in Uttar Pradesh has been without any head for more than 8 moths while the pending application of atrocities have been piling up at the centre of a state which is home to 22 per cent of Dalits in India. In the wake of this case suddenly the Yogi government is now concerned for the SC/ST entrepreneurs, churning out new policies for them from their bag over last week. We demand that Yogi Adityanath, the CM of Uttar Pradesh should immediately resign as his government has failed to take strict actions to protect SC/ST women in his state severely.

On behalf of :  Dalit Adivasi Shakti Adhikar Manch (DASAM); National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM-Delhi); Institute for Democracy and Sustainability Delhi; Delhi Solidarity Group (DSG); People’s Resource Centre (PRC); Shaheri Mahila kamgaar Union; National Domestic Workers Union; Rehabilitation Research Initiative (RRI); Lok Theatre India (LTI); Community for Social Change & Development (CSCD); Sewerage or Sambandh Karmchari Manch (SSKM)

Contact: 7065721374; 9958797409; 7503189053

 

आज़ाद जनतंत्र में सत्तर साल बाद भी वेल्लोर से विरमगाम तक श्मशान भूमि से वंचित हैं दलित

क्या कोई जानता है 21वीं सदी की शुरुआत में चकवारा के दलितों के एक अहम संघर्ष को? जयपुर से बमुश्किल पचास किलोमीटर दूर चकवारा के दलितों ने गांव के सार्वजनिक तालाब पर समान हक पाने के लिए इस संघर्ष को आगे बढ़ाया था। अठारह साल का वक्फा गुजर गया जब दलितों ने इस संघर्ष में जीत हासिल की थी, जिसमें तमाम मानवाधिकार संगठनों एवं प्रगतिशील लोगों ने भी उनका साथ दिया था। (सितम्बर 2002)

विश्लेषकों को याद होगा कि इस संघर्ष में तमाम लोगों को डॉ. अम्बेडकर द्वारा शुरू किए गए ऐतिहासिक महाड़ सत्याग्रह की झलक दिखायी दी थी जब मार्च 1927 में हजारों दलित एवं अन्य मानवाधिकारप्रेमी महाड़ के चवदार तालाब पर जुलूस की शक्ल में गए थे और वहां उन्होंने पानी पीया था। जानवरों को वहां पानी पीने से कोई मना नहीं करता था, मगर दलितों को रोका जाता था। (ज्‍यादा जानकारी के लिए देखें: Mahad – The Making of the First Dalit Revolt – Dr Anand Teltumbde, Navayana)

चकवारा में बाद में क्या हुआ इसके बारे में तो अधिकतर लोग नहीं जानते होंगे।

Continue reading आज़ाद जनतंत्र में सत्तर साल बाद भी वेल्लोर से विरमगाम तक श्मशान भूमि से वंचित हैं दलित

Public Display of Faith Can Wait, Humanity Cannot

It is inevitable that the virus will spread anywhere people gather in numbers.

Faith in India

Representational Image

India went for the world’s toughest lockdown in March, when just about 500 Covid-19 cases had been reported. And it has started withdrawing the lockdown when India has become the seventh-worst pandemic-affected nation, with over 1.91 lakh infections and close to 5,500 deaths. India is registering giant spikes in active cases of Covid-19, but the home ministry has come out with a phased plan to unlock India. The current phase of re-opening will focus on the economy. It has been decided that malls, hotels, restaurants and places of worship will reopen from 8 June onwards.

Concerns over the economic downturn are understandable. The latest GDP data shows the slowest pace of growth in 11 years in the last quarter of 2019-20, and the economy has been hit hard by the Covid-inspired sudden and complete lockdown. But one fails to understand the decision to open religious places at such an early date.

It remains unanswered whether religious places are being thrown open to pre-empt Mamata Banerjee, the Chief Minister of West Bengal, who has announced that her state would open all places of worship from 1 June. It is also not known whether this is being done, as BS Yediyurappa, the Chief Minister of Karnataka, wrote in his letter to the Prime Minister, because devotees are insisting that religious sites be opened.

( Read the full article here )

‘National Populisms’, the Little Man and Big Men

 

Populismo – ISS Conference poster by Filipino artist Boy Dominguez, image courtesy future-agricultures.org

In an earlier post last month, I had discussed the global rise of the Right as related to the revolt of the ‘little man’ (a term I borrow from Wilhelm Reich) and his search for a ‘father-figure’ of authority. I had also argued in that post that the revolt of the little man in itself could not have led to the rise of the Right, were it not for  the ways in which Capital moved to appropriate and channelize that revolt against the Left and Left-of-Centre politics – and regimes that dominated the scene earlier. It is virtually impossible to understand this huge tectonic shift in the politics of the past few decades without understanding the conjunction of the little man and Capital – the Big Men – as it were. No less important, it is impossible to understand this shift without understanding the revolt of the liittle man in relation to the different structures of privilege that appear before us as culturally encoded power relations – as tradition, as ‘our way of doing things’, so to speak.

Continue reading ‘National Populisms’, the Little Man and Big Men

Part III – THE VIRUS, THE MUSLIM AND THE MIGRANT: Rewilding, pirate care and solidarity

THIS IS THE FINAL PART OF A THREE PART POST

India has been effectively under an RSS coup d’etat  since May 2019, after the  extremely dubious “sweeping victory” of the BJP in the Lok Sabha elections. Since then, there has been a concerted and relentless onslaught on democracy from the twin forces of Hindu chaudhrahat and predatory capitalism, an assault accelerated under cover of the lockdown since March 2020.

Part I of this post discussed how the triumphant Hindu supremacist Indian state has been producing Hindu chaudhrahat,  both formally through law, as well as informally (by “stealth”), through the sabotaging of institutions.

Part II discussed the accelerated offensive by state-backed private capital; in all its old forms, of course, including treating human labour as just another resource for it to exploit, like coal or oil; but also in its more recent and dazzling avatar of data capitalism.

The lockdown only made sense if it was used as a breathing space (a sad, unintended pun), to prepare for contact-tracing and infrastructure to deal with the spike in infections that was bound to result upon the lockdown ending. It has instead been used by the current regime as a full blown political emergency. Civil liberties are effectively suspended and large scale arrests of anti-CAA protesters have been carried out. In addition, the mythology of the “Urban Naxal-Jihadi network” has been produced to continue the arrests of  academics, journalists and activists. This deranged script, concocted in RSS HQ, blends the twin projects of Hindu supremacism (“jihadi”) and predatory capital (“urban Maoist”) to effectively turn the lockdown into a lockup for opponents of these projects.

Meanwhile, since the actual pandemic is not the concern of the government, infections and deaths are on the rise, and once the lockdown is lifted we can expect much worse.(There are of course, non-BJP state governments that have done much better, and too much has been written about Kerala as an exemplar for me to add anything here.)

In the midst of the breathless rage and frustration of the moment, the millions of us who still resist both Hindu Rashtra and the depredations of capitalism, are connecting to ideas across the globe that dare to imagine other worlds.

How are we to combine, come together, connect to other stories the virus tells us, find our way to other lanes down which it leads us? How will we find and inhabit  those fissures and chinks in which green things can grow, and solidarities, and compassion and hope. Continue reading Part III – THE VIRUS, THE MUSLIM AND THE MIGRANT: Rewilding, pirate care and solidarity

Lockdown 4.0 – A Tribute to Labourers by Navchintan Kala Manch

नवचिंतन कला मंच द्वारा – बीते दिनों में अपनी ही धरती पे बेगानेपन का अहसास कर हज़ारों किलोमीटर दूर अपने घरों की उम्मीद के निकले लोगों के साथ हुए हादसों की दास्तान ज़रूर देखें।

Covid-19 and the Idea of India: Manish Thakur and Nabanipa Bhattacharjee

Guest post by MANISH THAKUR and NABANIPA BHATTACHARJEE

Much has already been said and written about the plight of the migrants during the lockdown necessitated by the current Covid-19 outbreak in India. The visual images of their endless walk – which reminds us of the flight of Partition refugees – in their desperate bid to reach home in the scorching summer heat on almost empty stomachs with throats parched (women in tow with the children on men’s shoulders and their meagre belongings on the heads) is heart-wrenching to say the least. Whatever be the cause, it is a living testimony to the entrenched structures of poor governance that define our polity. It is also revealing of the class character of the Indian state, a term that has for long left the public discourse of our republic. One need not invoke Marx or be a communist to see the glaring contrast in the ways say, for instance, state functionaries conduct themselves at airports in Delhi or Kochi and railway stations at Barkakana in Jharkhand or Bapu Dham, Motihari in Bihar.

Continue reading Covid-19 and the Idea of India: Manish Thakur and Nabanipa Bhattacharjee

भारत की कोरोना नीति के चंद नुक्सानदेह पहलू: राजेन्द्र चौधरी

Guest post by RAJINDER CHAUDHARY

कोरोना से हमारा वास्ता अभी लम्बे समय तक चलने वाला है. काफिला पर छपे पिछले आलेखों में (यहाँ एवं यहाँ) में हम ने इस के सही और गलत, दोनों तरह के सबकों की चर्चा की थी पर भारत की करोना नीति की समीक्षा नहीं की थी.  आपदा और युद्ध काल में एक कहा-अनकहा दबाव रहता है कि सरकार को पूरा समर्थन दिया जाए और उस की आलोचना न की जाय पर कोरोना के मुकाबले के लिए भारत में अपनाई गई रणनीति की समीक्षा ज़रूरी है; यह समीक्षा लम्बे समय तक चलने वाली इस आपदा में रणनीति में सुधार का मौका दे सकती है. कोरोना से कैसे निपटना चाहिए इस में निश्चित तौर पर सब से बड़ी भूमिका तो कोरोना वायरस की प्रकृति की है- ये गर्मी में मरेगा या सर्दी में या नहीं ही मरेगा; बूढों को ज्यादा मारेगा या बच्चों को, इन तथ्यों का इस से निपटने की रणनीति तय करने में सब से बड़ी भूमिका है. इस लिए भारत में कोरोना की लड़ाई के मूल्यांकन से पहले हमें वायरस की प्रकृति के बारे में उपलब्ध जानकारी को रेखांकित करना होगा.

कोरोना वायरस के नए स्वरूप की बुनियादी प्रकृति

कोरोना किस्म के वायरस वैज्ञानिकों के लिए नए नहीं हैं. ये पहले भी उभरते रहे हैं और वैज्ञानिक इन का लगातार अध्ययन करते रहे हैं. परन्तु हाल में कोरोना किस्म के वायरस का एक नया स्वरूप सामने आया है, जिस से उत्पन्न होने वाली नयी बीमारी को कोविड नाम दिया गया है.  इस लिए कोरोना के इस नए वायरस के बारे में अभी सब कुछ पक्के तौर पर नहीं कहा जा सकता. अभी इस की पड़ताल चल रही है.  फिर भी दुनिया भर के वैज्ञानिकों के मिले जुले काम से और कोरोना के पहले से उपलब्ध वायरसों के जीवन चक्र को ध्यान में रखते हुए कुछ बाते काफी हद तक स्पष्ट हैं.  इन के बारे में आम तौर पर वैज्ञानिकों में सर्वानुमति है. हालाँकि विश्व स्वास्थ्य संगठन को सर्वज्ञानी तो नहीं माना जा सकता परन्तु काफी हद तक इस द्वारा प्रदत जानकारी पर भरोसा किया जा सकता है.

Continue reading भारत की कोरोना नीति के चंद नुक्सानदेह पहलू: राजेन्द्र चौधरी

Data, New Data, Different kinds of Data, and Covid 19: Bharati Jagannathan

Guest post by BHARATI JAGANNATHAN

“There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics”, quoth Mark Twain. We could add a fourth, pretence of statistics in the absence of it. So, there’s data, more data, and the immensely useful pretend data about COVID-19. And almost all of it liable to totally dissimilar interpretations. In fact, this has been the best lesson, for those who in general find statistics challenging and humbly retreat in the face of data-based proofs in any argument, that the same set of data can serve completely opposite ends. However, I digress.

There was speculation in early March that India had fewer cases of infection owing to 1) exposure to malaria and sometime ingestion of quinine (in medical formulations like hydroxychloroquine), or 2) BCG vaccinations in childhood, or 3) warm weather hindering the spread of COVID-19 like many other influenza viruses. Till we realized that it was the effect of abysmal levels of testing. Continue reading Data, New Data, Different kinds of Data, and Covid 19: Bharati Jagannathan

Remembering Marx in Lockdown Times – Beyond the “Corona” Paradigm: Maya John

Guest post by MAYA JOHN

On the occasion of the birth anniversary of Karl Marx, the greatest intellectual of the millennium, it is best to steer clear of hero-worshipping. Instead, let us commemorate Marx’s ideas by re-enacting his way of knowing things. Much can be drawn from his writings wherein we can see Marx reinvigorating the revolutionary agenda at a time of deep despair and defeat. Reflecting and writing after the failed revolutions of 1848, Marx provided an introspective critique of unfolding conditions in his essay The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte (1852). Closely examining the events of the successful coup and assumption of dictatorial powers by Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte in republican France in 1851, Marx was the only contemporaneous political thinker to liken the ascendancy of Louis-Bonaparte to that of his uncle, Napoleon Bonaparte, who seized power in revolutionary France through the coup of 18 Brumaire (7 November 1799).

Continue reading Remembering Marx in Lockdown Times – Beyond the “Corona” Paradigm: Maya John

Part II – The Virus, the Muslim and the Migrant: Forced labour and data capitalism

THIS IS THE SECOND PART OF A THREE PART POST, THE FIRST PART OF WHICH CAN BE READ HERE.

Forced labour and data capitalism are the low end and high end of Coronacapitalism. Let us examine each of these.

Forced labour

The gut-wrenching picture of migrant workers who managed to reach Bareilly, being sprayed with disinfectant by people protected by hazmat suits themselves, provoked such widespread outrage in India and negative publicity in the foreign media, that the Health Ministry issued a hasty statement that this should not be done.

Spraying of chlorine on individuals can lead to irritation of eyes and skin and potentially gastrointestinal effects such as nausea and vomiting. Inhalation of sodium hypochlorite can lead to irritation of mucous membranes to the nose, throat, respiratory tract and may also cause bronchospasm, the advisory said.

Workers at Bareilly bus terminus being sprayed with chemicals

But this brutality and callousness towards workers and the poor emanates from the very top of this regime – the signal is sent from there, as to who matters and who doesn’t. The difference in treatment is stark and unapologetic.  For example, during the lock-down, on April 18th,  even as thousands of workers walked long distances home because no transport was arranged for them, precisely in order to prevent them from leaving the states in which they were stranded, the Uttar Pradesh government organized 250 buses to bring back students from the state studying in Kota, Rajasthan.  As of April 24th, special flights and hospital beds are being prepared by the government to bring back Indians stranded abroad. Continue reading Part II – The Virus, the Muslim and the Migrant: Forced labour and data capitalism

The Virus, the Muslim and the Migrant: Part I – Comvid 14

PART I OF A THREE PART POST

The term Comvid 14 is gratefully borrowed from Tony Joseph who defined it in a Facebook post as Communalvirus (Comvid 2014), the incubation period for which could be as long as six to seven years. Over fifty percent of infected people remain asymptomatic carriers, the rest going into paroxysms of hate and violence, many also gravitating towards TV newsrooms, according to him.

Suffocating mythologies produced by Hindu supremacism blanket India today.

So first of all, a loud, ringing zindabad to all the courageous journalists, citizen reporters and social media activists whose determined work relentlessly exposes fake news, and counters genocidal journalism in India.

Suchitra Vijayan explains the term “journalism as genocide”:

Rwandan cultural anthropologist Charles Mironko analyzed confessions of a hundred genocide perpetrators. His work confirms the thesis that hate messages in the media had a direct effect on the dehumanization of the population that was subject to persistent slander. Several months of this behavior, in the absence of credible reporting, conditioned the population to hate, and kill.

It is all the dogged fact-checking and on-the-ground reporting that continues to let in the light, through the crack, the crack in everything –  as Leonard Cohen sang; the words that Gautam Navlakha referred to just before he surrendered to the National Investigating Agency, on the orders of the Supreme Court.

This is India today – the violent Hindu Rashtra of Savarkar and Golwalkar’s dreams, under the direct control of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh.  And this Hindu Rashtra is built on predatory capitalism – a toxic cocktail, far deadlier than the biological virus that now haunts us.

Just as the pandemic is inflected in its effects differently in different global contexts, the three features of the crisis in India – the virus, the Muslim and the migrant – relate in a way that is specific to ‘here’. The virus has enabled and strengthened predatory capitalism here as it has globally, but it has also reproduced itself through Hindu supremacism, generating two monstrous mutations – Comvid 14 and Coronacapitalism.

And we who will fight and resist both? What of us, how are we to combine, come together, connect to other stories the virus tells us, find our way to other lanes down which it leads us? How will we find and inhabit  those fissures and chinks in which green things can grow, and solidarities, and compassion and hope?

But first, the two monstrous mutations – one in this part, the second in the next. Continue reading The Virus, the Muslim and the Migrant: Part I – Comvid 14

करोना से ग़लत सबक़ लेना घातक हो सकता है : राजेन्द्र चौधरी

Guest post by RAJINDER CHAUDHARY

पिछले दिनों हम ने ‘करोना के कुछ ज़रूरी सबक़’ पर चर्चा की थी. पर बड़ी संभावना यह है कि करोना के आधे अधूरे या गलत सबक निकाले जाएँ.  इस के लिए भी हमें तैयार रहना चाहिए.

बिलकुल गलत सबकों पर आने से पहले, कुछ संभावित आधे अधूरे सबकों की चर्चा कर लें. निश्चित तौर पर करोना के बाद की दुनिया में वैश्वीकरण ढलान पर होगा; अब आर्थिक वैश्वीकरण बढ़ने के स्थान पर घटेगा. विशेष तौर पर दवाइयों और स्वास्थ्य सेवाओं से जुड़ी वस्तुओं के मामले में राष्ट्र आत्मनिर्भर होने की कोशिश करेंगे; करनी भी चाहिए पर यह अधूरा निष्कर्ष होगा. केवल स्वास्थ्य सम्बन्धी मामलों में ही नहीं, बल्कि जहाँ तक संभव हो हर मामले में आत्मनिर्भर होने की कोशिश होनी चाहिए. इस से भी आगे बढ़ कर यह आत्मनिर्भरता केवल राष्ट्रीय स्तर पर न हो कर स्थानीय स्तर पर भी होनी चाहिए.

Continue reading करोना से ग़लत सबक़ लेना घातक हो सकता है : राजेन्द्र चौधरी

E-commerce platforms: Corona Warriors or Disaster Capitalists?

This is a Guest Post by ANITA GURUMURTHY and NANDINI CHAMY

 

In 2007, in her book, ‘Shock Doctrine’, Naomi Klein argued that history is a chronicle of “shocks” – the shocks of wars, natural disasters, and economic crises, but more importantly, of their aftermath characterised by disaster capitalism, calculated, free-market “solutions” to crises that exploit and exacerbate existing inequalities. This is why Big-Tech-to-the-rescue in times of the virus does not strike the right chord. It started with the lockdown order issued by the central government on March 24 with the exemption for essential services and supplies getting extended to delivery of foods, pharma products and medical equipment through e-commerce channels. The upper classes had to be assured that their means of shopping would not be affected. Notably, the order issued no such explicit exemption on the movement of foodgrains through Food Corporation of India channels, integral to the Public Distribution System. The lockdown order was a candid admission that e-commerce companies have now become infrastructural utilities indispensable to India’s aspirational middle class.

Continue reading E-commerce platforms: Corona Warriors or Disaster Capitalists?

रोगाणु, दाग़ और हमारा ‘विशुद्ध’ समाज : वी. गीता

Guest post by V. GEETHA. Translated by RAJENDER SINGH NEGI

कोरोना के आने से पहले ही हममें रोगाणुओं को लेकर चिंता का भाव विद्यमान था. ज़रा उन फ़र्श, किचन काउंटर, कपड़ों, इत्यादि रोगाणुओं, दाग़, और तमाम क़िस्म के सूक्ष्म घुसपैठी जंतुओं से निजात दिलाने वाले विज्ञापनों को याद करें, जिनमे इन सभी को पर्याप्त और बड़ी चालाकी से दुष्ट क़रार दिया जाता रहा है. कोरोना ने हमें ख़ुद को विशुद्ध और साफ़-सुथरा रखने का पूर्णत: वाजिब कारण दे दिया है. हम चाहे ख़ुद को चारदीवारी के अंदर बंद कर लें, या, अन्यों को उसमें दाख़िल होने से रोकें, अंतत: इसका नतीजा वही निकलता है, कि हम अक्सर पहले से ही समाज में व्याप्त जातिगत, वर्ग-आधारित, नस्ल-भेदी और धार्मिक आधार पर बनाई गई सामाजिक मान्यताओं की दीवारें ही खड़ी कर रहे होते हैं.

तो फिर जिस जोश-खरोश से हमने संभावित संक्रामक माने जाने वाले लोगों पर नज़र रखने, उन्हें चिह्नित और वर्जित करने की क़वायद सर पर उठा रखी है उस पर अचरज नहीं करना चाहिए. इस वर्जना में सरेआम सड़कों पर धर-पकड़, शर्मिंदा किया जाना, घरों में ‘आईसोलेट’ किए गयों के नाम सार्वजनिक किया जाना, और मरीज़ों का ईलाज कर रहे डॉक्टरों और नर्सों का उनकी ही रिहाईशी कॉलोनियों में प्रवेश की निषेधआज्ञा लागू किया जाना भी शामिल है.

Continue reading रोगाणु, दाग़ और हमारा ‘विशुद्ध’ समाज : वी. गीता