The Poverty of Politics and Pre-Requisites of an Anti-Hindutva Front: Moggallan Bharti

Guest post by MOGGALLAN BHARTI

Going by the track record of past four years of Narendra Modi’s government, the only definitive political narrative today is that of the ruling party, characterized by its brand ideological vehemence/ aggression and paralleled by corresponding ideological ennui in the opposition camp. The fact that there is an astronomical rise in hate crimes against Muslims, Dalits, Women and other minorities, silently supported by large numbers of people, underlines the  onset of an ideology, conceptualized by the caste Hindus and institutionalized as Rashtriya SwayamSevak Sangh (RSS).

The electoral success of BJP – the political wing of RSS – only points to a reality which is the logical outcome of the political processes, wherein the Hindu right has been handled with the customary albatross of secularism around all of our necks – defying the social reality of India. In a predominantly caste society, secularism tends to obfuscates real social cleavages and gives preeminence to an idea shaped by the literate elites. That is not to say there is something inherently misplaced with the idea of secularism in this country. Certainly not! On the contrary, it is the dishonesty and the utter insincerity of the India’s political class for whom the politics of secularism remains a mere means to claim political power. Nothing wrong with that too, as long as, this means was directed to its logical end of making an India actually secular. Alas, India’s attempt at constructing a sincere secular society have been halfhearted at its best and nonexistent at its worst, regardless of the secular nostalgia that some people – very sincere and honest people – find themselves attached to.

Continue reading “The Poverty of Politics and Pre-Requisites of an Anti-Hindutva Front: Moggallan Bharti”

Constructing Democratic Rights Activists as Conspirators: Preeti Chauhan

Guest Post by PREETI CHAUHAN

The recent arrest of activists and intellectuals, and raids on various others connected with rights activism across five states in India is a grim reminder of the shrunken space for protest, criticism and dissent in our democracy today. This tendency to muzzle opposing voices has been on brazen display over the past four years though earlier governments had also tried to brand civil rights activists as ‘Maoists’ and as anti-development and anti-progress in a sense. The case against Dr. Binayak Sen, an office bearer of People’s Union for Civil Liberties comes to mind who was also alleged to be a Maoist.

The entire episode raises many questions on the motives of the government for this kind of concerted clampdown on human rights defenders. As of now, the charges against the activists seem far-fetched and entirely fabricated. Most of the activists who are now in jail or under house arrest are long-time members of the civil liberties movement in our country in the post-emergency period. Civil and democratic rights organizations and their activists have faced the charge of being fronts of this and that organization earlier too, and some have been attacked and killed also as in Andhra Pradesh. But what is important to understand is the location of the civil and democratic rights movement vis a vis democracy in India. Continue reading “Constructing Democratic Rights Activists as Conspirators: Preeti Chauhan”

How to Deal with Male Chauvinist Piorge: Ten Tips

After the floods comes the pestilence. Even as the rest of us are focusing all our energies on making sure that epidemics and sheer psychological trauma aren’t going to bring our people devastated by floods to the brink of their endurance, here is a bizarre person, a certain P C George, MLA from Poonjar, Kerala, indulging in the worst kinds of patriarchal excess. At this time one would expect our elected representatives to be aiding and comforting people in their respective constituencies. Instead, we have this man spew unspeakable, stupid trash on the public. I do not want to reproduce it here; you can read for yourself.  I’d rather try to think of how we may deal collectively with those of his ilk. Continue reading “How to Deal with Male Chauvinist Piorge: Ten Tips”

Statement Demanding Immediate Release of Writers, Activists and Human Rights Defenders: IIT Kanpur Alumni and Others

We, a group of alumni of IIT Kanpur and others as students, researchers, faculty, staff and other community members affiliated with the same institute strongly condemn the arrest of IIT Kanpur alumna Sudha Bharadwaj (Integrated MSc., Mathematics, 1979-1984) and other activists namely, Vernon Gonsalves, Arun Ferreira, Gautam Navlakha and Varavara Rao, and the raiding of houses of Anand Teltumbde, K. Satyanarayana and Stan Swamy among many others. These arrests seem to be a mere sequel in an ongoing attempt to intimidate and arrest activists, eminent writers, professors, journalists, and human rights defenders around the country.

Sudha Bhardwaj has a public record of dedicating herself to the most marginalized through her work spanning more than thirty years. She finished her integrated bachelors and masters program of Dept of Mathematics, IIT Kanpur, in 1984. Already socially conscious as a student, by 1986 she had moved to Chhattisgarh working with a workers’ organization and trade union in the mining-industrial belt of central Chhattisgarh. It is here she found her calling as a trade unionist, and later, as a lawyer. We have compiled a short biography of her long journey at https://goo.gl/J6F9kK – it is clear that she dedicated herself entirely to the most vulnerable and powerless, working through the rights and frameworks guaranteed in the Indian constitution. Continue reading “Statement Demanding Immediate Release of Writers, Activists and Human Rights Defenders: IIT Kanpur Alumni and Others”

Restore Our Vision of the Future: A Letter to the Kerala Chief Minister

Dear Comrade

I write to you as a citizen, so unlike the many eulogies and appeals you have received recently, this will not be sugar-coated. You have received much praise, which is indeed well-deserved. But most of us have done, and are still doing, our duty well, but there is no need to indulge in any more self-praise.

Continue reading “Restore Our Vision of the Future: A Letter to the Kerala Chief Minister”

This bundle of sticks tied to an axe-ist RSS-BJP regime!

Stylized image of fasces

There is a rumour circulating which is best dispelled as soon as  possible in the interests of factual knowledge (which is rather shy and rarely seen these days. Sometimes you see its shadow slip past, from the corner of your eye). So, no, absolutely not, the word fascism does not come from faeces.

It might as well have, but no. Really it doesn’t. The Vedic goddess vac (she who personifies speech) is not renowned for a sense of humour.

What the word fascism does come from is the aforementioned “bundle of sticks tied to an axe” or fasces,  that the bodyguard of the Roman magistrate carried in ancient Rome, as a symbol of his authority. Then Mussolini came along and resurrected the thing as a reminder  of ancient pride (although, not much pride for the minion carrying the symbol of another’s authority) and unity (sticks tied together are harder to break than sticks on their own).

Hence fascism. Hence the extreme allergy to being called fascist among Sanghis and the BJP because, really – Italy? Italy as the source of a name for their government? How fair is that, mitron? Continue reading “This bundle of sticks tied to an axe-ist RSS-BJP regime!”

Statement against police action on Prof. Anand Teltumbde and others – Students, Faculty and Alumni of IIT Kharagpur

Image courtesy Scroll.in

We, the undersigned students, faculty and others from IIT Kharagpur are shocked with the treatment that the police forces have meted out to our ex-colleague, Prof. Anand Teltumbde and other intellectuals. His residence in Goa, where he is working as a Senior Professor and Chair, Big Data Analytics at Goa Institute of Management (GIM), was intruded by the police forces without permission in his absence. This police action was part of the large scale raids and arrests of eminent scholars, intellectuals and lawyers across the country on Tuesday.
Continue reading “Statement against police action on Prof. Anand Teltumbde and others – Students, Faculty and Alumni of IIT Kharagpur”