We, the undersigned, condemn in the strongest possible terms the police brutality in Jamia Millia Islamia University, New Delhi, and the ongoing illegal siege and curfew imposed on Aligarh Muslim University, Aligarh. On 15th December 2019 Delhi police in riot-gear illegally entered the Jamia Millia campus and attacked students who are peacefully protesting the Citizenship Amendment Act. The Act bars Muslims from India’s neighboring countries from the acquisition of Indian citizenship. It contravenes the right to equality and secular citizenship enshrined in the Indian constitution.
On the 15th at JMIU, police fired tear gas shells, entered hostels and attacked students studying in the library and praying in the mosque. Over 200 students have been severely injured, many who are in critical condition. Because of the blanket curfew and internet blockage imposed at AMU, we fear a similar situation of violence is unfolding, without any recourse to the press or public. The peaceful demonstration and gathering of citizens does not constitute criminal conduct. The police action in the Jamia Millia Islamia and AMU campuses is blatantly illegal under the constitution of India.
We stand in unconditional solidarity with the students, faculty and staff of Jamia Millia Islamia and Aligarh Muslim University, and express our horror at this violent police and state action. With them, we affirm the right of citizens to peaceful protest and the autonomy of the university as a non-militarized space for freedom of thought and expression. The brutalization of students and the attack on universities is against the fundamental norms of a democratic society.
As teachers, students, scholars and members of civil society across the world, we are watching with extreme concern the situation unfolding at Jamia Millia Islamia and Aligarh Muslim University. We refuse to remain silent at the violence unleashed on our colleagues (students, staff, and faculty) peacefully protesting the imposition of a discriminatory and unjust law.
( Note : To be published in the Annual Number of ‘Mainstream’)
In this conversation academician, writer and social activist Zaheer Ali talks about his latest book ‘Romancing With Revolution : Life and Works of Faiz Ahmed Faiz’ (Aakar Books, Delhi, 2019) and why Faiz is ‘ extremely relevant in today’s India’
This is the hour of madness, this too the hour of chain and noose You may hold the cage in your control, but you don’t command The bright season when a flower blooms in the garden. So, what if we didn’t see it? For others after us will see The garden’s brightness, will hear the nightingale sing
(This Hour of Chain and Noose (Faiz, Tauq o dar ka Mausam, 1951)
The idea of education being imparted without any compulsion to declare one’s religion is definitely a welcome thing
Principal’s office of Bethune College, Kolkata, which included Humanity as an option under the religion category. Image Courtesy: college dunia
A college admission form introducing new options under ‘religion’? Talking about humanity, secular, non-religious, atheism!
Well, in an ambience loaded with religiosity and its increasing conflation with the State, it is rather difficult to believe that some colleges may take such a creative step to convey how they see what is happening around them? No doubt this is a small step but, as noted by analysts, this is an attempt to break/challenge the ‘construction of identity, thought and social and political space, indirectly conveying the vision of a secular and diverse India.’
The significance of this little step can be better understood if one looks into the fact that the elections held to the 17th Lok Sabha — which has returned the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to power — have demonstrated that BJP is ‘the most preferred party of young India’. It drew support cutting across caste as well as class lines. This is the same BJP which, along with its ‘Parivar’ siblings, has consciously tried to conflate religion with exercise of power and has been successful in collapsing the majority faith into rabid nationalism that targets differences and dissent and other specific groups, as the ‘other’ according to its worldview.
मार्क ट्वेन ने कभी कहा था – धूम्रपान की आदत छोड़ने में मैं ख़ासा माहिर हूँ; यह काम मैंने हज़ारों बार किया है.सन्धान की यह केवल तीसरी शुरुआत है. वह भी काग़ज़ पर छप कर नहीं. अभी केवल वेब-पेज़ के रूप में. अतः यह दावा तो नहीं किया जा सकता कि हमलोग शुरुआत करने के विशेषज्ञ हो गए. बल्कि ये मनायें कि इस मामले में ट्वेन सरीखी महारत न हासिल हो. इरादा नयी शुरुआत का और हौसले दूर तक चलने के हों तो फिर से शुरू करने में कोई बुराई नहीं है.
हज़ारों साल पहले एक्लेसियास्टीज़ की किताब में कहा गया था – जो हो चुका है, वही फिर होगा. जो किया जा चुका है, वही फिर किया जायेगा. सूरज के तले कुछ भी नया नहीं है. लेकिन दूसरी तरफ़ हेराक्लिटस का कहना था – तुम एक ही नदी में दो बार पाँव नहीं रख सकते. पानी हर पल बदल चुका होता है. अगला पाँव नयी नदी में पड़ेगा.बुद्धिमानी शायद इसमें हो कि एक जेब में एक्लेसियास्टीज़ और दूसरी में हेराक्लिटस को रख कर चला जाय. एक कुछ बिल्कुल नया कर गुज़रने के घमण्ड को क़ाबू में रक्खेगा तो दूसरा नये का सामना करने की हिम्मत देगा. जो हो चुका है वही फिर होगा तो भी कुछ नया होगा. और, उम्मीद है, जो कहा जा चुका है वही फिर से कहा जाय तो भी कुछ नया कहा जायेगा और अर्थ कुछ नये निकलेंगें. समय की उसी नदी में आप दो बार पाँव नहीं रख सकते.
और, इस नदी में त्वरण है. समय के बदलने की रफ़्तार बदल चुकी है. पिछली एक सदी में जितना कुछ हुआ है, उतना पहले के हज़ार सालों में नहीं हुआ था. इन्सानी इतिहास का प्रवाह समय के उबड़-खाबड़ भूगोल से गुज़रा है. थोड़ी देर का समतल थके विजेताओं को उस असीम-अनन्त चरागाह की तरह दिखने लगता है जिसकी खोज में वे पाँच सौ या पाँच हज़ार साल पहले निकले थे. इतिहास के अन्त की घोषणाएँ होती हैं. लेकिन घोषणाओं की समाप्ति के पहले ही समय का समतल समाप्त होने लगता है. आगे कुछ के लिये ख़तरनाक ढलान है तो दूसरों के लिये कठिन चढ़ाई है.
If Prime Minister Narendra Modi were to write about the recent deaths of sewer workers in India, the headline would be:
Some people attained moksha (nirvana) while experiencing spirituality,
In his casteist book Karmayog, he wrote that manual scavenging is a spiritual experience, hence if some people die during cleaning sewers manually, that would be attaining moksha! In a caste Hindu society this should have been a matter of joy, that even in Kaliyuga, there are still some ‘pious’ soul who could give up all moh-maya and do this punya karma! How true this depiction/ description, one feels like saying: why not make the umpteen godmen-led spiritual movements in India take this route to spiritual moksha? This would perhaps have saved the many rapist-rioter babas from arrest and they could truly do their prayaschit (atonement) in these various, very Indian jails. This is after all the real world of this ‘spiritual experience’ of manual scavenging/sewer cleaning, where ‘Moksha’ means institutional killing!
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→
Happy International Mother Language Day. This day, declared by UNESCO, is straight up South Asia’s alley as it celebrates linguistic diversity and multilingualism. In other words, it celebrates each Indian.
Here’s what you can do from now on to celebrate it:
1. Resist Hindi imposition. An official language is not the national language. Persian was the language of administration for close to three hundred years, Sanskrit has been the language of knowledge for close to two thousand years, but neither were the only languages in the room. And we know what happened to those languages over time.
2. Defend diversity: Understand that, as in nature, numerical strength is not might (e.g., there may be more cockroaches in the world than humans), so if you belong to a large group of people, then this doesn’t mean that your language is better and more representative of the ‘heart and soul’ of ‘Indianness’. In India, literally hundreds of languages with populations ranging between 500 to 10,000 have flourished (many reported over all the Census) because