( New Socialist Initiative presents the 2nd Lecture* in the Series on Modernity, 18 th October 6 pm IST)
*Youtube Link to the first lecture : https://youtu.be/J5m7Z-I8jPg
Darren Sammy has revealed he faced racism in India at a time when the world is battling racism. India needs to join this fight.
Darren Sammy, the famous all-rounder from West Indies, is a legend. He has led his country team and is the only captain to have won two T20 World Cups, in 2012 and 2016. His achievements in the arena of cricket are not limited to his country. He played a singular role in reviving Pakistan’s cricket team and preparing it for international matches, which earned him an honorary citizenship.
And thus the revelation that he was subjected to racial taunts by his own teammates, during his tour to India in 2013 and 2014, while he played IPL matches, was a bolt from the blue. His admirers were naturally aghast when Sammy disclosed that his teammates at SunRisers Hyderabad used to address him with a pejorative term and collectively sneer at him.
On some occasions, Sammy said, he too would smile back at his gleeful teammates, for he had innocently believed that it was light-hearted banter, even though directed at him. Sammy was completely oblivious to the fact that they were targeting him with a racist invective and enjoying “jokes” that he could not comprehend at his expense.
No doubt many of those who subjected him to humiliation were big names in Indian cricket. Yet it did not cause any uproar in India when Sammy made the truth known to the world via an Instagram post. The 24/7 news channels, which are forever searching for sensational news, and the cricketing fraternity, were quiet. None came forward to denounce the humiliation of Sammy, nor was there a public apology from the offenders. Only Swara Bhaskar, the actress, who espouses social causes rather fearlessly, demanded an apology from his teammates.
( Read the full text here)
Guest post by MAYA JOHN
Under the condition of lockdown while we are confronted with images and accounts of the suffering of the labouring poor, and all around us there appears to be a pervasive social chaos, in our universities students and teachers are supposed to return to an atomized life condition, and essentially pursue academic work as if all is normal. Teachers and students are expected to simply ignore wider public responsibilities and recoil to their private window to online teaching-learning. The diktats of university bureaucracies that have been issued in the midst of tremendous socio-economic crisis reduce teachers to a role akin to those of musicians who continued to entertain on the sinking Titanic. Now, after the formalities of so-called online education have been fulfilled, a specter of online examinations haunts the wider student community.
Disappearance of education in the online mode
The pronouncements of Delhi University (DU) regarding online examinations for its final year students of undergraduate and postgraduate (Masters) courses, have added to the anxieties of large number of students and teachers, who have been grappling with a disrupted semester in the wake of the lockdown, and the stupendous challenges of online teaching-learning. More or less, institutions of higher education across the country are facing this predicament. The grim situation warrants a close scrutiny of the concerns of teachers and students about e-learning and online examinations.
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 epidemic, several statements have been propagated about “immunity boosting” substances such as mustard oil, hydroxychloroquine and tea; alternative remedies claiming to provide either immunity or cure; and remedial effects of cow urine or even taweez. Some of these assertions were also supported by a few government functionaries at the centre and in various states. We, the undersigned, wish to put the following scientific facts in the public domain.
–> As of now, no scientific studies show that any substance boosts the immune system specifically against COVID-19, be it modern medicines like hydroxychloroquine or homeopathic solutions like Arsenicum Album D30 or Ayurvedic preparations.
–> Scientific evidence for the efficacy of any of these substances can only be obtained by rigorous testing through randomized clinical trials with COVID-19 patients, and additional laboratory analyses. Anecdotes of cure or temporary relief from symptoms or usefulness against similar diseases are not scientific proof of efficacy against COVID-19.
–> Specific immunity against a bacterium or a virus can only arise in two ways. Either we were infected and recovered from the illness, or we are vaccinated; in either case we develop antibodies that can target the specific virus or bacterium.
Current VI semester undergraduate students of the University pursuing the ‘Sociology – III Law and Society’ course, at the National Law University Jodhpur were sent outright homophobic content purportedly as essential reading (details of the readings are in the letter below). The material presented outdated notions of homosexuality. When the faculty member was challenged via email by a student, she said she had shared it to encourage debate and present one side of the prevailing views on homosexuality. However, the material was sent without providing any such context. The faculty committed that she would be sending updated material presenting sociological developments on the subject in the coming few days. However, instead of doing so, she delegated her responsibility to the student who had written to her, a move that can only be interpreted as reprisal.
The interim student body wrote to the Vice Chancellor on the issue. 150 alumni members also wrote to the Chancellor, Vice Chancellor and General Council of NLU-J asking for disciplinary action against the faculty member, an external resource person to teach the subject, and review of the course curriculum.
This is the letter
Dear Dr. Saxena and Members of the General Council,
We, the undersigned alumni of National Law University, Jodhpur, much to our consternation, have learnt that current VI semester undergraduate students of the University pursuing the ‘Sociology – III Law and Society’ course were sent outright homophobic content purportedly as essential reading by Dr. Asha Bhandari, Assistant Professor, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, and Member, Academic Council, on April 11, 2020. On a perusal of the content, it is evident that the material sent by Dr. Bhandari is unscientific, uncritical, based on outdated notions of homosexuality, perpetuates dangerous stereotypes, and legitimizes prejudice against the LGBTIQ community. As you would all agree, this is unacceptable in any institute of learning, much less in one that prides itself on being a premier national law school.
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.
( Read the full article here : https://www.newsclick.in/Religion-Humanity-College-Admissions-BJP-School-Education)
Guest post by PRAVEEN VERMA
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
Guest post by AYESHA KIDWAI
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
(a) mothers and fathers speak the language to their children in their homes beyond their school years, and Continue reading International Mother Language Day: Ayesha Kidwai
Guest Post by Umar Khalid
I went to Maharashtra as I along with other activists and intellectuals were invited to come there. I along with others was a guest there. And I would remember fondly the love and support that I received in Pune and Mumbai. I would remember the resilience and enthusiasm of the people I met and their resoluteness to fight Manuvaad and centuries old casteist tyranny. I would remember the immense inspiration that I felt, when we paid homage to Jyotiba Phule and Savitribai Phule in Phule-wada, Pune. And, No I will not let two days of media trials by a few TV anchors, who are more of professional howlers, spoil these wonderful memories. I will not let their criminal cacophony and mindless vilification of me, Jignesh & others shadow my beautiful memories of Maharashtra.
The state of Maharashtra as well as the rest of the country is at a critical juncture today. On the one hand are forces in power who want to push our country back to many centuries and on the other are people who are resisting this Neo-Peshwahi, the casteist-communal-fascist regime of BJP-RSS. In my speech at Elgar Parishaad on 31st December 2017, I had said that the year 2018 is going to be a very challenging one. The last 3 and half years of the Modi Sarkar has exposed the BJP’s jumlas of Ache Din and Vikas as hollow, bitter and brutal lies.
As the General Elections of 2019 approach, BJP/RSS will now resort to creating civil strife amongst the people, polarising them on the basis of caste and religion and unleashing attacks on muslims and Dalits. The developments over the last few days vindicate me, a little too soon. Several regions of Maharashtra are in the midst of an acute agrarian distress. Both Marathas and Dalits are victims of this agrarian crisis that has been precipitated by the policies of both Modi and Fadnavis. The BJP/RSS regime has no resolution to offer to the farmers of Maharashtra. Therefore, unleashing attacks on Dalits through their hoodlums and portraying it as a caste clash between Dalits & Marathas will remain their only strategy. Continue reading Statement about the attacks on Dalits in Bhima Koregaon & the Subsequent developments in Maharashtra : Umar Khalid
[ This post is based on updates posted by me on my Facebook wall ]
A great kerfuffle has ensued ever since the recently elected independent MLA from Vadgam, Gujarat and Rashtriya Dalit Adhikar Manch activist Jignesh Mevani gave an interview in which he had some choice things to say about the Prime Minister and BJP leader Narendra Modi. Mr. Mevani made some positive and gentle suggestions, to the effect that because Mr. Modi has stopped being relevant, has not delivered on even one of the promises made by him, he should retire, proceed towards the Himalayas, and in the phrase that has caused the greatest commotion, ‘melt his bones’.
Predictably, Mr. Modi’s personal broadcasting service, known as Republic TV has kicked up the greatest fuss. Arnab Goswami has been especially indignant, and he was joined in his rage by BJP spokesperson, the orotund television commentator and historical photo-shop scam artist, Mr. Sambit Patra. Mr. Mevani offered a robust and dignified refusal to apologize for what he said about Mr. Modi, when Republic TV demanded that he do so. Continue reading Jignesh Mevani, The Meltdown of Modi-Men and Dadhichi’s Bones
I can hardly describe the joy and relief I felt reading your piece on the Hadiya case in the Hindu yesterday. By now I am nearly deaf from the cacophony of misogyny, islamophobia, and sheer short-sighted rage that CPM supporters on Facebook are unleashing against this young woman.
Your voice of sanity, Comrade, is therefore a great restorative. If not for your writing, one could have well thought that the CPM was nothing more than a bunch of short sighted, power hungry, strategisers, whose total lack of ethics and values is covered up by a vapid, outdated rationalism and an equally problematic liberalism. You refuse to condemn Hadiya for choosing Islam. You acknowledge that she is brave. You unequivocally reject the father and other minions of patriarchy. You rightly criticise state patriarchy evident in the Supreme Court. Unlike many CPM supporters here, you have no illusions about the times we live in; you are clearly aware that the NIA is not something which will spare us if we stay good. Importantly, you put paid to the idea that the High Court judgement that sanctioned her illegal custody was justified — an idea assiduously nurtured by certain public figures allied with the CPM against religious Muslims. Comrade, thank you again for being so forthright and in the face of snarling islamophobes in your own ranks actually gunning for the voice you raised against her illegal custody long back.
After the atrocious indifference and trivialisation of domestic violence displayed by the sneering alpha-male brigade of the CPM during the discussion of the Hadiya Case, nothing surprises me. However, it appears important to point out how such callousness is indeed becoming normalised here alarmingly. It seems that the gains of women’s movement which made violence against women at home something beyond an intimate private affair, a ‘family quarrel’, are being steadily depleted. Of course, we did see how so many smooth-talking liberal CPM-oriented or purportedly-rationalist young male intellectuals went ballistic at the mere suggestion that they are blind to the domestic violence in Hadiya’s imprisonment. Also intriguing was their persistent defense of the father’s right to keep an adult, mentally fit, educated daughter immobile and imprisoned because he feared for her safety. Continue reading Thoughts on the Continuing Assault on Women’s Rights and Progressivist Gaslighting in Kerala
It looks like the CPM’s enmity towards the Muslim organizations is such that they do not mind sacrificing women’s human rights and reinforcing the patriarchal family just to teach them a lesson. So they are happy to stick with the Sanghi understanding of conversion as necessarily forced in some way, ideological or physical. Media One broke news yesterday about a Sanghi torture camp for Hindu women who marry Christians or Muslims concealed as a yoga center. A woman incarcerated there for marrying a Christian managed to escape and complain to the police. Sixty-five women were reportedly incarcerated there when she was an inmate (a later report, after the place was shut down today on the order of the High Court, said 22 women and 23 men were allegedly for reconversion) . The reconversion therapy includes physical assault and threats. This 28-year-old woman married a Christian man without converting and her family seems to have initially accepted it. However, she was taken to this yoga cum counseling center by her own family without her consent and they left her there to the mercy of the criminals who ran the place. She also confirms that a young woman, Athira from Kasaragod, who had chosen to convert to Islam on her own who recently ‘returned’ to ‘Sanatana dharma’ with much fanfare, was in this place for twenty-two days and that she had continued to insist on her preference for Islam.
This place is in Tripunithura, in the heart of urban Kerala quite near the High Court at Ernakulam, which damned Hadiya’s right to choose her faith and a partner. Apparently, it is the Sanghi gang from this place who visited Hadiya at her father’s house. Here is the story:
So it appears that the Sangh is clearly seeking to reverse what is an outcome of long-term social processes shaped by increasing access to higher education for most social groups in Kerala. Women entered higher education here in larger numbers in the 1980s and Muslims, men and women, since the 1990s till now. The expansion of the media and cellphones is such that young people are not influenced solely by their parents or community. In other words, there is a greater livelihood of women and men choosing partners actors communities. Even sensible people here whisper about how zealous Muslims are about conversion away from Islam but the discourse of Hindu tolerance is so pervasive that it lets concentration camp proliferate in secret. The response of the CPM participant is truly revealing — indeed, this is cutting the nose to spite the face. Whatever be their position about welfare and economic development, the CPM in Kerala seems appallingly on the side of the Hindutva security state. And the questions this raises for the fabled autonomy of women here that the CPM ideologues never ceases to claim credit for, are huge.
This is probably the calculation of utility that underlies the chilling indifference/ outright contempt of the CPM leadership towards the plight of the Muslims: the average CPM and CPI supporter is the middle-caste ex-avarna middle-aged male of the middle or lower middle class. This gentleman’s preferences are such that his utility is maximised by staying with the organized dominant left in matters related to securing public resources to private ends (because the mobilization for that, given Kerala’s demographics and history needs to be necessarily by a multi-community mix) and by sticking to community/caste organizations for family matters. This choice has always been detrimental to women’s personal rights, particularly personal choices. The community/caste organizations of the 20th century are becoming more of economic institutions than social — and they manage the vast community assets once secured from governments for public ends now securing mainly the interests of the community elite. The social, however, is undergoing rapid transformation, and indeed, sections of the young now even dare to define the social for themselves. Into this gap steps the Sangh, desperate to make an entry, now that their efforts to secure the ex-avarnas have failed (because of their own irremediable casteism). The above-mentioned gentleman finds it prudent to use their services in making sure that the young stay under his patriarchal thumb. Especially young women, for they have nobody to really defend their rights. Thus arise the thriving if silent business of reconversion, well-protected from public view by the pervasive Islamophobia of the Right and Left, believers and rationalists. Also remember that in a post-demographic society, children are few and they are more akin to trophies that future labour for the family. The dominant left sees that as long as they don’t disturb this gentleman’s efforts to secure his patriarchal authority through whatever means, however violent, crude, and abhorrent to democracy they may be, they retain influence. In other words, the tattered influence of the dominant left — no longer hegemonic — endures through, among other things, looking away from the social and the familial as hierarchical institutions and the abuses. This is why a sexual attack on a film actor elicits a huge response from the feminist supporters of the CPM, while the unlawful confinement of a far less privileged young woman is largely ignored or supported ‘personally’. The dominant left leadership reasons this to be its best strategy, since it loses nothing by letting the Sanghis handle family affairs. The presence of the Sangh works well for it too, since very many Muslims and Christians, who are sizeable in demographic and economic terms, will turn to it for protection from the Sangh!! This strategy has worked hitherto, and the sole risk lies in the gentleman ceasing to remain a Rational Agent and joining the ranks of the Indo-Gangetic barbarians, essentially irrational in the Kerala context (I keep urging them to leave for Haryana in pursuit of what must be their choices if they choose to become such barbarians). But this has been largely limited to the upper caste Hindus and some sections of elite Christians who regret the loss of traditional power and hope that the Sangh will restore it. They are not the growing power, demographically or economically. Meanwhile, the effete rationalists generate a ‘secularised’ Islamophobia that serves as a neutral-sounding justification for the government’s inactivity.
There are very few moments in which I have felt so lonely. Almost everyone I know seems to be a player, a rational agent, in this game, either participating or creating justifications for the strategy or participating by simply looking away and remaining silent. But this loneliness is so much more dignified — and indeed, more human. I stand with the six young women who braved the Sangh and the police trying to reach Hadiya; I condemn those who serve up her father’s sickening sentimental patriarchal shit in the public in a way that renders them vulnerable. Hadiya’s father who had not the slightest compunction in approaching the High Court and painting his own daughter a potential terrorist such that her entire life promises to be hell (even if she escapes his confinement), is showered with sympathy by our critical intellects for being a poor worried father. Meanwhile, a radical student who claims to be on Hadiya’s side flings abuse on me for wearing a sleeveless blouse, for leaving my hair untied – she does not even notice that her tirade is so like a Brahmanical patriarch’s diatribe against the well-known signs of Kali — immodest women with their hair open — such missiles seem convenient for all, radical Ambedkarites even, to use against those they dislike. The only silver lining in this mess is that it reveals with unprecedented and astounding clarity, the enormous risks, dangers, and material losses ahead of anyone who wants to remain human, and not what is substitutable with Artificial Intelligence. And that in order to be popular, you must swim with some tide or the other. But I’d rather be human than popular, still.
Shame on all of you — AIDWA leaders, Brinda Karat, M S Josephine, C K Asha, Geeta Nazir, Sreemathi teacher, Shylaja teacher — all of you women adherents of the CPM and CPI. If Hadiya dies in that horrible hell, her blood is on your hands. Her rights are already dead and you have done precious little.
Guest post by PRASANTA CHAKRAVARTY
“Then is Now. The star you steer by is gone, its tremulous thread spun in the hurricane spider floss on my cheek.”
~ Basil Bunting, Briggflatts
“He who writes the work is set aside; he who has written it is dismissed. He who is dismissed, moreover, doesn’t know it. This ignorance preserves him.”
~Maurice Blanchot, The Space of Literature
“Blanchot is even greater waste of time than Proust,” Georges Poulet had famously remarked. Poulet was hinting at the grandeur of wasted time. A ruthless negativity, a rigorous retreat must take on all forms of reparation and facile optimism of human agency. Unconcern must be at the front and centre of our concern. The work of art is. Nothing more. The very idea of elucidation—to dwell upon the actual object that a writer has to offer us—is aesthetically vulgar and politically reactionary. A deep futility marks all perfection. A creation, like Eurydice when Orpheus looks at her, must disappear. The work is remote from itself. It is the incapacity to stop feeling what is not there to be felt.
All quests are echoes. Foreign to presence. Any presence. Quests grasp us rather. But they exclude the writer. He is stupefied. He is idled out of his own work—hence he must go back to work, tirelessly. The lucidity of his insomniac regression keeps on emerging infernally in what we call art. Write he must. But only and solely by being on the verge of his ruinous look back.