Beyond Defeatism – Political Parties and the Fight Against Hindutva

The following, necessarily brief, reflections have been sparked off by two recent posts on Kafila – one by Biju Mathew published on 16 April, and the other by CP Geevan, published today. These reflections should not be seen as a response to the positions taken by Biju and/ or Geevan; they are, in fact, more in the way of addressing the central question raised by Biju Mathew’s piece – that of despondency and pessimism that has followed the UP elections and more importantly, the stealthy manner in which Adityanath was installed as the chief minister in the state. Stealthy, because after all, it was amply clear even to the decision makers in BJP, from the very beginning that if they had entered the election campaign with Adityanath as the chief ministerial face, it might have yielded very different results. It was too  big a risk to be undertaken.The real stroke of Modi-fascist genius lay precisely in keeping not just the electorate but also the organizational machinery in the dark and turning it into an advantage.

As it happens, despite the sharpness of Geevan’s comments, my sense, on reading the two pieces, is that there isn’t really as great a divergence on most issues as might appear at first sight.

Continue reading “Beyond Defeatism – Political Parties and the Fight Against Hindutva”

Scientism, familism and women scientists: V Sujatha

Guest Post by V. SUJATHA

That the first woman to win the Fields Medal for mathematics in 2014 was an Iranian is important to note. Not only because Maryam Mirzakhani is the first woman to make it in the field of mathematics which is considered to be a male bastion[1], but also because her Persian background deserves some attention. There are certain enabling factors in Eastern cultures that facilitate women excel in the hard sciences, in spite of entrenched patriarchy. The point is not that everything is great in the East versus the West, but that cultural stereotypes about women are not homogenous; they vary from culture to culture and produce gender asymmetries with different effects. This is a sociologist’s
delight; let me explain.

During a literature survey in sociology of science, I was pleasantly surprised to see that the figures on women’s entry and achievements in science and technology education (S&T) in the global south were not only not bad, but were better than the countries in the Anglo-Saxon world that offered better civil liberties for women (Sujatha 2015). While there were fewer women in apex positions in the S&T sector and even lesser numbers to receive prestigious awards everywhere in the world, it is a fact that women from erstwhile socialist countries and from Asian and Latin American societies enrolled in larger numbers in science and technology courses and also made it higher in the career ladder in S&T than their counterparts in western Europe and North America.  The literature on women in science however, attributed everything to the ‘glass ceiling effect’ i.e., soft variables like gender bias in the organisational processes. I do not deny it, but it seems to me that this does not explain why the glass ceiling worked differently in some countries. Continue reading “Scientism, familism and women scientists: V Sujatha”

Sterilization Death Camps in Bilaspur: An Open Letter to the Chhattisgarh Chief Minister by Concerned Citizens

[ This is a letter addressed to Raman Singh, the Chief Minister of Chhattisgarh by several concerned individuals and organizations regarding the impunity with which medical guidelines are put aside by professionals who enjoy the patronage and protection of the state government.]

We, the 138 undersigned individuals and organizations working across the country on health and women’s rights are shocked and dismayed that the case against surgeon Dr. R. K. Gupta has been dismissed by the Hon’ble High Court on grounds that “the alleged act committed by the petitioner was while acting in discharge of his official duty and admittedly no previous sanction was obtained before initiating prosecution case against him”.

The Anita Jha Judicial Enquiry Commission report has clearly pointed out that “It is evident from the facts that in the camps organized on 8.11.2014 and 10.11.2014 there was a breach in the important necessities hence the standard operating procedure were not followed. As a result of which the symptoms of infections were found in post operative female beneficiaries“. It further states that “On the background of deliberation of investigation point number 1 to 3, investigation committee has found following persons Guilty/responsible, functionary, during 08 and 10 November, 2014:- 4.1 For not following standard procedures and for medical negligence by immediate functionary Block Medical Officer, Takhatpur…………….and surgeon who conducted surgery in tubectomy camp at Sakri and Gaurella ( Surgeries were completed by the same surgeon in the both camps)”.

Continue reading “Sterilization Death Camps in Bilaspur: An Open Letter to the Chhattisgarh Chief Minister by Concerned Citizens”

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”

Longing for the Future – Two Days with Penkoottu and AMTU at Kozhikode, Kerala

Kozhikode, Hotel Alakapuri, 4-5 March, 2017.

Kozhikode has always upturned my feelings about the male gaze. It is of course a cheerful, bustling, place, full of fabulously good-looking people of all genders. The cheeriness has a certain effortlessly defiant quality – already evident when you look out of the window as the train from the south pulls into the railway station, and see bright, healthy, merrily-swaying wild flowers raise their heads undefeated by the ferocious summer sun– wild sunflowers in hundreds, magnificent vines of kulamariyan flowers ( literally, ‘over-the-top’ flowers, but known here also, interestingly enough, as Antigone vines), creepers happily, constantly, and untiringly winding over  little piles of rubbish and covering them with short-lived if emphatic trumpets of mauve, lavender, red, yellow, and white.  You pass this eternal artwork-in-progress of the flowers and vines and city trash and enter Kozhikode, but realise that it actually tells you a bit about the men there only when you meet them. Continue reading “Longing for the Future – Two Days with Penkoottu and AMTU at Kozhikode, Kerala”

Gender Justice In Naga Society – Naga Feminist Reflections: Dolly Kikon

DOLLY KIKON in raiot.in

Dolly Kikon points out that Article 371 (A) is breached also in the ongoing coal mining operations and the oil exploration negotiations in Nagaland. Naga politicians, landowners, village councils, and business families have all interpreted the provision for their benefit to mine for minerals and not be held accountable for the environmental degradation. But it is only when women may enter the decision-making process (and potentially reverse such policies) that Article 371 suddenly becomes sacrosanct.

What is the meaning of gender? What is the meaning of Justice? Which comes first in Naga society and how do we understand it? Like many nationalist societies around the world, the issue of gender justice and rights have remained marginal for a long time. We were told that issues like women’s rights or gender justice could wait till the Naga people gained their freedom. In that context, what did it mean to bestow any kinds of rights on women in Naga society? When terms like gender ‘rights’ and ‘equality’ remains extremely resentful terms for a larger section of powerful Naga traditional bodies, they become meaningless words. I ask these questions in relation to the opposition against 33% reservation that escalated into a violent protest and brought the entire state of Nagaland to a standstill recently. If Naga customary law is seen as the foundation of justice, the exclusion of women from these powerful decision making-bodies negates the entire notion that these are pillars of justice. The Indian state and the male traditional bodies alike are responsible for excluding the Naga women from all spheres of representative political processes. Article 371 (A) is a prime example of the patriarchal nature of the Indian constitution that bestows the Naga male bodies to have full authority and power to interpret customary affairs covering social, religious, and criminal cases.