We are a group of former civil servants of the All India and Central Services who have worked with the Central and State Governments in the course of our careers. Our group has no affiliation with any political party, and we, as its members, believe in impartiality, neutrality and commitment to the Constitution of India.
On May 11, 2022, a chorus of appreciation greeted the Supreme Court’s interim orders on a batch of cases which had challenged the constitutionality of the sedition provision contained in Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). The Supreme Court’s order was an interim one, viz. to keep in abeyance this section and all related pending trials, appeals and proceedings until further orders. While we would, like others, wish to applaud this decision of the Supreme Court, we feel that, at present, it deserves only a muted cheer. Continue reading CCG Open Statement on the Sedition Provision in the Indian Penal Code→
Gyan Vyapi Mosque and Kashi Vishwanath Temple (Image courtesy Indian Express)
The present controversy over several religious sites threatens to tread yet again the path that led to the communal mobilization, riots and destruction of the Babri Masjid. The popular press also repeats several legal arguments without always analysing their import. In the present cases, just like in Ayodhya, a key point that we hear time and again is that when it comes to the Hindu deity’s property, such property is perpetual and therefore even if a temple was destroyed centuries ago, the legality of the Hindu deity’s property remains unimpeded, thereby becoming the basis of a reclamation. It is therefore important to understand the legal concept of the Hindu deity’s juristic personality. Continue reading The Hindu deity as juristic person – A dangerous path, yet again: Rahul Govind→
Letter of Deep Distress and Concern to THE LG OF DELHI, CM OF DELHI, COMMISSIONER, MUNICIPAL CORPORATION OF DELHI
Stop Unlawful Demolitions in Delhi;
Compensate, Rehabilitate, Restore Livelihoods
of the Affected Immediately
We, the undersigned, wish to express our deep concern at the bulldozer-led demolitions carried out by various municipal corporations in Delhi. As is well known, the first round of demolitions was carried out by the North Delhi Municipal Corporation in Jahangirpuri resettlement colony on April 20, 2022, soon after the communal violence in the area just four days prior to that. The recent visits to and subsequent statement by the SDMC Mayor regarding areas earmarked for future demolition points to the real and present danger that the actions in Jahangirpuri and Kalyanpuri over the past week will be repeated in these areas that have already been named – Shaheen Bagh, Jasola, Sarita Vihar, Jaitpur and Madanpur Khadar. It is deeply disturbing that demolitions in these areas have been put on hold only because the Delhi Police publicly asked for ten days’ notice in order to cooperate with the order. Massive presence of paramilitary forces in some of these areas as well as frequent processions of slogan shouting crowds led by BJP leaders are contributing to an overall climate of intimidation and terror.
It is appalling that the bulldozers hired by civic authorities are targeting temporary structures essential for livelihood such as handcarts and cycle carts, fruit stalls, gumtis, and wooden ‘shop’ tables. These structures are used all over the country by some of the poorest communities in the city – rickshaw pullers, fruit vendors, women running marginal and subsistence businesses, ragpickers, garbage sorters, vendors and hawkers. The brutality of the action to destroy the precious belongings of some of the poorest residents of the city is unprecedented in the history of Delhi. The affected are overwhelmingly unprotected informal economy workers who have already suffered sudden and severe destruction of their livelihoods during last two years of the coronavirus pandemic and lockdown. Continue reading STOP UNLAWFUL DEMOLITIONS IN DELHI: Women’s groups, other groups, and concerned citizens of Delhi→
Prof Zoya Hasan, Professor Emerita, Jawaharlal Nehru University and Distinguished Faculty, Council for Social Development, New Delhi, will be delivering a Special lecture in the Democracy Dialogues Series, organised by New Socialist Initiative, at 6 PM, (IST) Sunday, 24 th April, 2022.
She will be speaking on ‘‘How did UP Decide: Identities, Interests and Politics”
How did UP Decide: Identities, Interests and Politics
Uttar Pradesh has just seen an intensely contested assembly election which resulted in a second straight victory for the Bharatiya Janata Party in this politically crucial state. This momentous outcome is the subject of intense debate among analysts and indeed the public at large. There was a premise this time, particularly in UP, that communal polarisation wasn’t working because of acute economic discontent which could trigger electoral change. However, the large-scale discontent over many economic issues, including jobs, did not translate into a decision to vote out the government. Many analysts have attributed BJP’s reelection to welfare measures and free rations to the poor during the lockdown. This cannot explain BJP’s persistent success which extends beyond this election. The welfarist argument ignores the compelling logic of long term communalism and the systematic construction of the Hindu vote in UP politics since the time of the Ramjanmabhoomi movement centered in UP and the communal campaigns in the last five years, its impact is reflected in the election results.This construction of the Hindu vote also trumped the caste-based politics of the regional Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party through a mobilization of upper caste and non-dominant backward and lower caste communities. Communal polarization and identity politics is the keystone of their strategy and the decisive factor driving electoral choices.
The 15 th lecture in the Democracy Dialogues Series will be delivered by Prof Achin Vanaik on Sunday, 27 th February at 6 PM (IST)
He will be speaking on
‘Secularism, Communalism and Indian Politics Today‘
Writer and Social Activist, Former Professor of Political Science at Delhi University Prof Achin Vanaik is a fellow of the Transnational Institute
He is author of numerous books including The Furies of Indian Communalism ( 1997) , The Painful Transition : Bourgeois Democracy in India ( 1990) , Hindutva Rising – Secular Claims, Communal Realities (2017), “Nationalist Dangers, Secular Failings:A Compass for an Indian Left”
The presentation will start with a series of definitions of crucial concepts such as secular, secularization, secularism as well as distinguishing between religious fundamentalism, religious nationalism and communalism. This is important to get a handle on how the widespread Indian understanding of secularism as an ancient form of ‘tolerance’ is dangerously mistaken. Of course the rise of the political right and far-right is a global phenomenon in the last few decades giving rise to different forms of what can be called the ‘politics of cultural exclusivism’. So the first principle of explanation for this rise has also to be transnational. After this the question of the rise of the Sangh/BJP in the wider context of developments in India over time will be taken up. It is obvious that the Sangh/BJP is seeking to expand its existing power and influence i.e., to establish and expand its hegemony and this must be understood as well as what are the projects central to its efforts to establish a Hindu Rashtra or Nation. It should be obvious that its particular conception of how to secure a strong Indian nation/nationalism must be exposed and combated. The presentation will end with recognising that this is a long term struggle and how we must go about it.
(Opening remarks in an ongoing discussion within New Socialist Initiative (NSI) on Left’s approach to Electoral Politics in Contemporary India)
The Speaker :
Ravi Sinha is an activist-scholar who has been associated with progressive movements for nearly four decades. Trained as a theoretical physicist, Dr. Ravi has a doctoral degree from MIT, Cambridge, USA. He worked as a physicist at University of Maryland, College Park, USA, at Physical Research Laboratory, Ahmedabad and at Gujarat University, Ahmedabad before resigning from the job to devote himself full time to organizing and theorizing. He is the principal author of the book, Globalization of Capital, published in 1997, co-founder of the Hindi journal, Sandhan, and one of the founders and a leading member of New Socialist Initiative.
Images of educational institutions barring their gates to women in hijab are dense with implied violence. Used as we have become to the extreme physical violence on display during the period of this regime, both by state authorities and by street mobs launched by Hindutva outfits, in these images is captured in one frozen instant, the ideological violence of Hindu Rashtra. Here is the marked and stigmatized Muslim female body, exiled from the resources of the nation, kept out by iron gates, to be admitted only on the terms set by Hindutva.
But let us note that this is not “only ideological” violence, the power of which we have witnessed in plenty since 2014. We know what terror “mere” words can threaten – “love jihad”, “gau hatya”, “kapdon se pehchane jayenge” – the last, the murderously weighted words of the Prime Minister himself, that those who protest the CAA can be identified by their clothes.
So ideological violence yes, but implicit physical violence too, held only temporarily in abeyance – what if the women decided to climb the gates and insisted on attending class? Or sat quietly on dharna outside? What kind of violence by private security and police would not be unleashed? Just before the pandemic, did we not witness the brutality of police attacks on peaceful student protests against fee hikes in Delhi?
As more and more colleges in Karnataka deny women wearing hijab entry into colleges, and therefore their right to education, the RSS/BJP government of Karnataka backed such moves, invoking the Karnataka Education Act of 1983, Section 133 (2) of which states that students will have to wear a uniform dress chosen by the college authorities. Continue reading Why feminists must oppose the hijab ban in Karnataka colleges→
‘Leftists are Ascendant in Latin America as Key Elections Loom‘ announces a recent report in New York Times. And this report isn’t talking only of Leftist victories of the last two years but also of possible forthcoming ones in Brazil and Colombia, later this year. ‘Economic suffering, widening inequality, fervent anti-incumbent sentiment and mismanagement of Covid-19 have all fueled a pendulum swing away from the center-right and right-wing leaders who were dominant a few years ago’ underlines the report.
Close on the heels of the victory of Xiomara Castro as the first Left-wing, woman President in Honduras in the beginning of December 2021, came the news of the victory of Gabriel Boric in Chile (19 December). Unlike the socially conservative Left wing position of Peru’s Pedro Castillo, who stands opposed to abortion and same-sex marriage, the Chilean victory, in particular, has been strongly backed by the feminist and queer movements. Honduras’ Xiomara Castro too has legalization of abortion as one of her election planks, which is significant since it is one the few countries that has a complete ban on abortion as of last year.
We are a group of former civil servants of the All India and Central Services who have worked with the Central and State Governments in the course of our careers. As a group, we have no affiliation with any political party but believe in impartiality, neutrality and commitment to the Constitution of India.
We are issuing this open statement to voice our grave apprehensions regarding the provision in the recently enacted Election Laws (Amendment) Act, 2021 to link the Electoral Photo Identity Card (EPIC-Voter ID) issued by the Election Commission of India (ECI) with the Aadhaar card issued by the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), an agency of the Government of India.
The13 th Lecture in the Democracy Dialogues Series organised by New Socialist Initiative will be delivered by Prof Romila Thapar, Professor of Ancient History, Emerita, JNU, author of many books and a leading public intellectual on Sunday 19 th December 2021 at 6 PM (IST). Prof Thapar would be speaking on ‘Voices of Dissent in Pre-Modern and Present Times‘
About the Speaker :
Internationally renowned scholar of Ancient History, Prof Thapar was elected General President of the Indian History Congress in 1983 and a Fellow of the British Academy in 1999. In 2008, she was awarded the prestigious Kluge Prize of the US Library of Congress which complements the Nobel, in honouring lifetime achievement in disciplines not covered by the latter.
Prof Thapar has been a visiting professor at Cornell University, the University of Pennysylvania, and the College de France in Paris and holds honorary doctorates from the University of Chicago, the Institut National des Langues et Civilisations Orientales in Paris, the University of Oxford, the University of Edinburgh (2004), the University of Calcutta and from the University of Hyderabad.
Here is a select list of Prof Thapar’s publications
Ashoka and the Decline of the Mauryas, 1961 ( Oxford University Press) ; A History of India : Volume 1, 1966 ( Penguin) ; The Past and Prejudice, NBT ( 1975) ; Ancient Indian Social History : Some Interpretations, 1978 ( Orient Blackswan) ; From Lineages to State 1985 : Social Formations of the Mid-First Millenium B.C. in the Ganges Valley, 1985 ( Oxford University Press) ; Interpreting Early India, 1992 ( Oxford University Press) ; Sakuntala : Text, Reading, Historie, 2002 ( Anthem) . Somanatha : The Many Voices of History, Verso ( 2005) ; The Aryan : Recasting Constructs, Three Essays ( 2008) ; The Past As Present: Forging Contemporary Identities Through History, 2014
It is a time for rejoicing and celebration. It is a time for thanksgiving. For the victory of the farmers is not just theirs. Theirs was not just a struggle to protect their own livelihoods but also a valiant battle fought for all of us, so that we continue to get our food at affordable prices. It is a time for thanksgiving also because the movement has broken the hubris of an arrogant government that has absolutely no accountability whatsoever. It has given us some breathing space.
Even as this piece is being written, the victorious farmers camping at the Delhi borders for the last one year are preparing to leave for their homes. It has been a long haul for them in the course of which over 700 have died. It has been especially trying for the Punjab farmers who had started the stir months before they decided on their march to Delhi on 26 November 2020. Nobody had expected that the shifting of the venue to Delhi would end up being one long ordeal, continuing months on end, through the freezing winter, scorching Delhi heat and torrential rains. Not to mention an intransigent government that had already started the ground work for corporatization of agriculture and handing over parts of it to Adani and Ambani, even before the laws were formally promulgated.
The infamous infant-snatching case in Kerala has opened up too many harsh truths about this society. It is not easy to express the pain in acknowledging it. After all, for many of us who have stuck back here with the intention of participating in what was once a fairly vibrant political life, this monstrosity that looms over all aspects of life, private and public (as so terrifyingly evident in the experience of Anupama Chandran) is a daunting sight. Not that there weren’t glimmers of it earlier, but the full menace has become visible only now.
GR Santhosh Kumar captured the crux of the unbelievable denigration of democracy by the ruling CPM leadership who are out to defend their local level leaders guilty of the grossest patriarchy that rivals any khap panchayat misogyny. The context is the ongoing struggle by a couple, Anupama Chandran and Ajithkumar, to find their baby who was abducted by her parents, both influential local-level leaders of the CPM, last year and given away illegally for adoption. The story of Anupama’s experience of unspeakable death threats, physical violence, cheating, exposure to health risk, forced confinement, denial of vital information and means of communication, casteist insults, and on and on strips off the claims of women’s empowerment which the left in Kerala has claimed for so long. On social media, thousands of left supporters have literally rubbished women’s rights and the Indian Constitutional morality itself, even as the AIDWA in Kerala has been largely struck dumb.
The cartoon is a spoof on Raja Ravi Varma’ famous mother-and-child painting ‘Here Comes Papa’ in which an aristocratic woman dressed in a way identifiable as ‘traditional’ holds her baby and points to it the unseen ‘papa’ . Though the cartoon is captioned ‘Know the pain of the adopting mother’, an obvious reference to the cry by CPM sympathisers on social media that the child need not be returned, and that the adopting mother was fitter, and though the protagonists here are Pinarayi Vijayan and Anupama’s father, Peroorkkada Jayachandran, who he has been defending, it has layers. Ajithkumar’s dalit status and his earlier marriage has, in the eyes of CPM supporters, rendered him unfit for fatherhood — of a child by the daughter of an influential CPM family. Papa, then, and Papa’s coming, continues to be our favourite obsession.
Throughout the terrible times we have seen these last two years, it is the news from Kerala that has helped so many of us to keep faith in governance – that a state can be honest, open, participatory, concerned for its people, focused on health, and not play politics, all of these have been remarkable and many of us, Keralites and non-Keralites alike, have drawn valuable lessons from the Kerala experience.
Today morning we woke up to the news that the Child Welfare Committee has ordered that Anupama’s child must be brought to Kerala in five days for a DNA test.
However, the process is still overseen by the officials who directly connived to give the baby away for adoption. The family’s criminal acts are still under a very lax, lagging investigation. Anupama’s educational certificates are still in their possession and the police refuses to intervene to restore them to her.
Indeed, the evil that Prof Kannabiran identifies so excellently in this letter must still be fought, until justice is done. Just the return of the child to Kerala cannot replace justice. Anupama suffered tremendous domestic violence, deliberate endangerment, cheating, and illegal custody at the hands of her family. That cannot be papered over,
Anupama has committed no crime. She got pregnant. She did not murder anyone. She did not rob a bank. She did not betray the nation. She committed no terroristic threats or acts. She is not a smuggler, a thief, a rapist, or a crook. She got pregnant. Getting pregnant is not a crime. She got pregnant and decided to keep her baby. This is not a crime.
The strange case of ‘honour-baby-snatching”,: involving a local-level CPM leader in Thiruvananthapuram city, Peroorkkada Jayachandran is still haunting us despite every attempt by the CPM cyberwarriors to smother it. Mr Jayachandran still feels completely justified and hundreds of left supporters, including so-called progressive women, are ready to proclaim that this dastardly act is a ‘father’s right’. Mr Jayachandran’s nineteen year old daughter Anupama fell in love with a dalit man, a leader of the DYFI, got pregnant by him, and decided to keep the child. Anupama’s parents decided that there was loss of honour in this and proceeded to perpetrate unspeakable violence on the young woman, trying to force her to abort her baby, and finally by snatching away her baby days after it was born. They twisted the entire machinery of child protection and adoption and the police to give the child away without the consent of its parents.
I should be forgiven for this flippant-sounding title. But it is a living reality in Kerala that gender politics is increasingly reduced to soppy sentimental drama. Honestly, if there are CPM supporters out there, especially the Delhi-elite breed who call this title mere click-bait, I don’t give a flying fuck about what you think. You are not living this nightmare, we are.
The 11 th lecture in the Democracy Dialogues Series organised by New Socialist Initiative was delivered by Ashutosh, TV anchor, columnist, author and co-founder of satyahindi.com at 6 PM ( IST), Sunday, 31 st October 2021.
Mr Ashutosh spoke on ‘Will India Survive as a Democracy ?’ A highly acclaimed journalist and TV News Anchor, a reputed Columnist, and a successful Author, Ashutosh was associated with AAP for a while but was soon disenchanted with this experiment and returned to journalism again with a new experiment in the form of satyahindi.com
He has many books to his credit, Anna – 13 days that awakened India, (2012) ; The Crown prince, The Gladiator & The Hope — Battle for Change ; Mukhaute ka Rajdharm ( 2015). In his latest book Hindu Rashtra published in 2019, he takes a hard look at the political reality of India and what its future may hold.
As the decisive battle of 2024 draws closer by the day and restiveness grows, alignments and realignments will also become more apparent. The tragedy is that while the image of Narendra Modi and his regime has taken a severe beating, there is still no visible alternative in sight. As a matter of fact, the entire opposition seems to be going from one crisis to another. A few state parties do give some hope and the possibility of a federal front with chief ministers of West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Maharashtra and possibly, a couple of Congress chief ministers making common cause, does hold some promise in the short run. The point though is, whichever way one looks at it, there is little doubt that in any future permutation and combination, the Congress may not have a leading role to play but it will still have a significant presence. Its present state of dysfunction, therefore, is a matter of worry and concern for a very large number of people outside the normal periphery of Congress supporters and traditional voters. A party without a President and without a functioning Working Committee is not likely to instill hope in its ability to provide any kind of leadership in the near future.
Coalition for Nuclear Disarmament and Peace (CNDP) issued a statement against AUKUS, a trilateral security pact between Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States, announced on 15 September 2021 for the Indo-Pacific region. Under the pact, the US and the UK will help Australia to acquire nuclear-powered submarines.
India is part of an older formation, “Quad” (Quadrilateral Security Dialogue) between US, Australia, India and Japan, revived in 2017, the goal of which is to strengthen security relationships through non-military means. However, the formation of AUKUS throws doubt on Quad’s ability to stay independent of military initiatives, as two of Quad’s partners are now part of AUKUS. It seems that AUKUS could supplant the Quad as the most important strategic initiative in the region. These fears are dismissed by all the governments concerned, but there is no doubt among experts that AUKUS, the military initiative, will now take priority in terms of resources and time.
Expectations of and pressures on India from Quad partners US and Australia as a result of AUKUS, are also matters of great concern.
It is in this context that CNDP has issued the following statement.
CNDP Statement on AUKUS and Quad
The Coalition for Nuclear Disarmament and Peace (CNDP), India expresses its deep concern at the U.S. agreement to sell nuclear submarines and Tomahawk missiles to Australia and also at the ongoing quadrilateral security dialogue of which India is a part.
We call attention to the absurdity of U.S. involvement in a security dialogue in the Asia- Pacific region. The United States has no legitimate security interests in this part of the globe and is simply looking to confront and thereby contain China, which it perceives as a threat to U.S. hegemony.