Despite the controversies of demonetization, the central government has again succeeded in deftly hijacking the minds of Indian citizens through a riveting speech made by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley. The budget seemed to be especially important given third quarter statistics which are filled with drawbacks of the demonetization policy. Thus we had a budget speech completely focused on digitalization of a country where the ‘digital divide’ stubbornly persists. As the budget theme (Transform, Energize, and Clean) attempted to glorify existing conditions, there were unsurprisingly no transformations in the overall economic framework except the expected tax reduction. In the zeal for “energizing”, the budget had clean forgotten the needs of the informal sector including agricultural sector. Even though the government provocatively claimed that it had cleaned up black money, it revealed no data regarding the amount of black money actually mopped up from the market.
STOP HARASSMENT OF DR RAJSHREE RANAWAT, STOP MEDIA CAMPAIGN AGAINST HER AND REVOKE HER SUSPENSION
It is extremely disturbing that Dr. Rajashree Ranawat, Assistant Professor in the Department of English at the Jai Narain Vyas University, Jodhpur, has been suspended by her university for having supposedly “disobeyed” the orders of the university. The suspension letter does not mention which orders she has not obeyed.
It can therefore be concluded that Dr. Ranawat is being punished for having invited Prof. Nivedita Menon as a speaker in an academic conference which had academics and civil society workers from different disciplinary and ideological backgrounds participating in it. The conference was very successful with students and teachers interacting with outstation scholars in a free atmosphere. After its conclusion, a nasty campaign was launched by some newspapers that Prof Ranawat as organiser had provided a platform to a “controversial” person like Prof. Menon who used the occasion to malign the image of Indian soldiers, questioned the accession of Kashmir to India and insulted the integrity of India by inverting its map. Continue reading “Statement Against the Harassment of Dr Rajshree Ranawat”
We, the undersigned, wish to express our dismay and deep concern about the recent violent events at University College, Thiruvananthapuram, which seem to indicate that the rights of college students, especially women students, are seriously compromised in this venerable institution. As women researchers, academics and teachers of Malayali origin, we are deeply disappointed by the responses of the police, the concerned college authorities, and the teachers there. Continue reading “An Appeal to the Education Minister of Kerala and the Teachers of the University College, Thiruvananthapuram”
This is my Malayalam opinion piece for iemalayalam, on something despite the outcry against the CPM in the mess around Kerala Law Academy. The public discussion has been, not unexpectedly, on the line of Kerala’s well-entrenched scandal journalism, which has a history of a hundred years, at least. This is a form of journalism that highlights the sexual lives – proper or improper – of powerful male politicians which accompanies the attack on their public failings directly or indirectly- a very highly successful tactic, hitherto, to undermine even the seemingly unassailable. When women began to figure in this kind of journalism as something more than just passive sexual objects, as active agents of corruption and manipulation – most markedly, in the controversy over the businesswoman Sarita Nair – scandal journalism worked by highlighting the huge contrast between their ‘feminine-respectable’ names, sartorial styles, behaviour, and so on, and the despicable manipulations they indulged in. This is the case also with much media discussion of the principal of the Kerala Law Academy, Lekshmi Nair.
However, this tactic is not only misogynist, it also lets the elite-femininity that she represents escape critique. This is a very contemporary form of respectable femininity that presents itself as essentially domestic, but wields delegated masculine power to vicious ends, and it is almost all-pervasive in disciplinary institutions in Kerala now. Not surprisingly perhaps, the CPM’s mishandling of the issue has not just shown how poorly committed the party is to women’s rights, but also how soft it is on this elite-feminine power.
The full essay, in Malayalam:
DARSHANA MITRA in The Wire
While many in India have recoiled at the manner in which the Trump administration has made religious discrimination a key ingredient of its refugee and immigration policy, we should also turn to look at similar legislative provisions being proposed in our own country.
The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill of 2016 is a short, three-page document that seeks to amend Section 2(b) of the Citizenship Act. The Citizenship Act deals with the acquisition and termination of Indian citizenship. Section 2(b) of the Citizenship Act defines the term “illegal immigrant”. The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill proposes to amend the definition of this term by adding this proviso:
“Provided that persons belonging to minority communities, namely, Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan, who have been exempted by the Central Government by or under clause (c) of sub-section (2) of section 3 of the Passport (Entry into India) Act, 1920 or from the application of the provisions of the Foreigners Act, 1946 or any order made thereunder, shall not be treated as illegal migrants for the purposes of this Act.”.
This effectively means that persons from minority religious communities from our neighbouring Muslim majority countries shall not be considered as illegal migrants and subjected to prosecution. Further, the Bill also proposes an amendment to the Third Schedule of the Act, which would allow minority communities, namely Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan to qualify for naturalisation as a citizen of India if they are resident in India or in service to the Government of India for an aggregate period of not less than six years, as opposed to eleven years for everyone else.
Reports of exploitation, humiliation, violence, and rampant nepotism are still flowing out of the private-sector law college popularly known as the Law Academy, in Thiruvananthapuram twenty whole days after the commencement of the students’ struggle there. At the centre of the controversy is the principal, Lekshmi Nair, who seems to have ‘inherited’ that position in the institution owned by her family: clearly, the students are determined to teach her a good lesson. Rarely have we seen all student organizations, from the far-right to the far-left, rally against one person with equal determination; but from the complaints of students – subsequently confirmed by the University of Kerala to which this college is affiliated – it appears that there is no reason to be surprised.
But the irony of utter lawlessness and blatantly feudal despotism perpetuated in an institution devoted to legal education in a democratic nation itself seems lost, for the authorities’ commonsense about liberal education in Kerala has been that it should be neither liberal nor education nor anything to do even remotely with the practice of democracy. I have been saying this over and over again, and really, feel utterly breathless at this. Continue reading “Taming the Brat? Thoughts on the Kerala Law Academy Imbroglio”
Statement by Concerned Academics and Public Intellectuals Following the Court Sentence on the EFLU Defamation Case
We the undersigned wish to express our grave concern over the fact that five senior students of the English and Foreign Languages University (EFLU), who were raising the issue of discrimination against SC and ST students in the EFLU’s Department of German, have on 13/12/2016 been charged with defamation of a professor and sentenced to six months’ imprisonment. Their protests concerned Sreeramulu M, a ST student enrolled in the BA programme of EFLU’s German Department. Sreermulu had not been allowed to continue in the programme ostensibly for his failure to maintain grades. The others who have been sentenced are office bearers of associations representing such marginalized students; they were speaking at a Press Meet held on 24/12/2012 after Sreeramulu, who had been trying for several months to be allowed to continue his course and avail remedial classes, went on fast. The defamation case was filed in March 2013. Two SC/ST atrocities complaints filed by Sreeramulu M and again by another student, Ranjan Kumar, in January 2013 are pending with the Police and are yet to be investigated.
The countrywide discussion raised through the struggles following Rohith Vemula’s death in January 2016 drew public attention to the extent of caste discrimination in our universities. SC, ST, OBC and minority students figure disproportionately in the statistics for failure, drop out, expulsion, rustication and even suicide. Educational institutions and those who run them (teachers and administrators) have been forced to acknowledge that they are implicated in this terrible attrition of young citizens and know they must initiate reforms. Yet, far too little is being done to discuss this evidence, rethink rules, temper teachers’ attitudes, reform syllabi or challenge ideas of merit that discriminate against the marginalized. A teacher’s job is to help the actual students in the classroom to learn; not to uphold abstract standards of merit. From the courts, the underprivileged expect humane recognition of the inequities of their predicament and wise support for their cause. But what they have received is a demoralizing and intimidating signal. Continue reading “EFLU Defamation Case Against Students – Statement by Concerned Academics and Public Intellectuals”