Category Archives: Law

Axing Scholarships, Denying Opportunities

When Government itself Does Not Have Any Qualms in rationalising Drona Mindset

( Photo Courtesy : Feminism in India)

[H]istory has come to a stage when the moral man, the complete man, is more and more giving way, almost without knowing it, to make room for the . . .commercial man, the man of limited purpose. This process, aided by the wonderful progress in science, is assuming gigantic proportion and power, causing the upset of man’s moral balance, obscuring his human side under the shadow of soul-less organization.

—Rabindranath Tagore, Nationalism, 1917

( Quoted in ‘Not for Profit – Why Democracy Needs Humanities, Martha Nussbaum, Princeton University Press, 2010)

A single story is sometimes enough to tell how an institution functions and how it needs to be overhauled.

Aruna’s long struggle to get overseas scholarship is one such story.

Son of landless agricultural labourers from Orissa, this bright student, belonging to a socially oppressed community, had applied to get a overseas scholarship via the National Overseas Scholarship – which awards scholarships to students from SC, ST, Denotified tribes etc – and even had lost two years in bureaucratic wrangling despite the fact that he had already got admission into Essex University.

Thanks to the timely intervention of a group of Ambedkarite thinkers from Nagpur, who filed a petition in the Delhi Highcourt on his behalf , which ultimately ruled in the student’s favour.

It would be cliche to say that Aruna’s struggle is an exception.

Story of Vishal Kharat is qualitatively no different who is still trying to get a scholarship for the last two years and has discovered to his dismay that the scholarship portal itself does not work properly.

Instances galore how this ambitious scheme which was launched in the wee hours of India’s independence when Nehru was the Prime Minister and a great scholar and freedom fighter Maulana Abul Kalam Azad was a Cabinet Minister for education, has been left to go slowly into oblivion.

The latest decision by the Union ministry of social justice and empowerment, to not to fund scholarships for marginalised students keen to study India’s history, culture abroad, is just another indication of how it is being implemented.

We can recall that it was the year 2012 when UPA government led by Congress was in the saddle this scheme was extended to Humanities as well and every year 100 students from the socially deprived, oppressed communities started receiving it but with the change of power at the centre things started changing drastically

Like many of its earlier decisions, this decision to axe scholarship to study humanities abroad was taken without consulting the stakeholders involved in the process or without even giving a hint of how the government wants to proceed in this unique empowerment initiative. The fact that the final date to apply for this scheme is to expire on 31 st March and when there was hardly anytime left to young scholars who are keen to study abroad, to search for alternate path to fulfill their dreams.

The rationale being provided by the powers that be appears unconvincing.  

It talks of utilising rich availability of repositories, records as well as books available in Indian institutions and various experts on this subject of India’s culture, civilisation etc and divert the resources thus saved to study other subjects like Science, technology.

It is rather difficult to believe this claim but even if for the sake of discussion we concede, can it be said with certainty that the existing faculty and these institutions would be sensitive to the issue or the concerns of emerging talents from the oppressed, exploited sections of our society, and would be accommodating as well! Fact is that even Higher Educational Institutions are not free from exclusions, discrimination  on the basis of caste, gender, community and despite constitutional provisions for affirmative action existing since decades, the character of the academia in most of these institutions is very much exclusive mainly dominated by the so called upper castes.

Cases of discrimination faced by students from such Institutions keep piling up leading even to many unfortunate incidents – rightly called as ‘institutional murders’ of many such talents.

The stories of suicides of  the likes of of RohithVemula, ( HCU, Hyderabad) ; Payal Tadvi ( Medical College, Mumbai,) or Fathima Latheef ( IIT Madras) and many of their ilk cannot be seen as exceptions.

A related point is the status of academic freedom in India.

With the ascendance of right-wing politics world over the very idea of academic freedom has come under attack globally – including India

Thanks to the majoritarian turn in the Indian politics where religious minorities are being further marginalised and invisibilised – the ambience which exists here within the academia itself is a pale shadow of its earlier situation. It is becoming increasingly difficult nay impossible to have a critical, open minded discussion on themes, topics which are found not palatable to the ruling dispensation which is a prerequisite for any healthy educational institution.

We have before us cancellation of international seminars on innocuous themes even like Scientific Temper or teachers being hauled to courts after taking up discussions about ‘Kashmir within the class ‘ or for engaging in open ended discussion about nationalism inside class or students-teachers being charged with sedition for protesting about highhandedness of the government.

Secondly, with the rightwing holding reins of power with a brutal majority, has also led to radical changes in the content of humanity studies playing mythology over facts e.g. there are allegations how the draft history syllabus pushed by the UGC presents a theory of the origin of caste system which relates to the advent of the ‘Muslim rule’ here.

Can we ever accept that these bright students opting for scholarships abroad who have themselves experienced caste, community or class based deprivation, discrimination in their younger days, would be ever ready to easily gulp down such trash as intellectual discourse.

Definitely not.

This decision to axe funds to socially oppressed sections to study humanity abroad very much gels with the overt concerns of the people in power which are evident in the New Education Policy 2020 which envisions restoring the the role of India as a ‘Vishwa Guru’ and interestingly remains silent on caste and other discriminations and even does not talk about reservations. It clubs SC / ST, OBC and minority communities as an acronym SEDGs – Socially and Economically Disadvantaged Groups.

What needs to be underlined that this step by the Ministry has raised concerns among the members of the international academic community, and scholars of India spread all over the world as well  and in an open letter addressed to the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment they have demanded that the government withdraws this immediate changes in the policy.

It emphasises how ‘[t]he argument that one need not go abroad to study India is intellectually flawed and will only serve to isolate Indian scholarship from the rest of the world.’ and these amendments attest to a lack of understanding of how interdisciplinary research is conducted today, where natural sciences, law, history, sociology and the humanities work together beyond national boundaries.

Another important point which it make that how it will further negatively impact women recipients of this scholarship who are already ‘disproportionately under-represented in scientific and technological disciplines and tend to more easily find opportunities in the Social Sciences and Humanities’

Last but not the least it also displays the great hiatus between the outwardly, strong image of the ruling dispensation and how paranoid, insecure it is about deeper fault lines of the Indian society.

Perhaps it worries that with increasing interest of the academia of the west in what is happening to the largest democracy in the world, and the study of caste and its attendant asymmetries receiving special attention by them, and also dalit activists, scholars there pursuing it at various levels there, these exclusivist hierarchies have rapidly attracted attention. Not some time ago the California State University system added caste to its non-discrimination policy, prohibiting caste-based discrimination or bias across its 23 campuses.

The ruling dispensation knows very well that the more students from dalit, adivasi and other deprived sections of society go out to study abroad, it will have to be ready to face many such embarassing moments because whereas it itself is keen to invisibilise caste once for all, and even clubbed all these sections – the SC / ST, OBC and minority communities as an acronym SEDGs – Socially and Economically Disadvantaged Groups; the reality as it exists would continue to haunt it.

Linking Voter Id & Aadhaar – A Dangerous Move : Constitutional Conduct Group

Statement by Constitutional Conduct Group

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.

Continue reading Linking Voter Id & Aadhaar – A Dangerous Move : Constitutional Conduct Group

An Unprecedented Struggle, A Glorious Victory – Looking Ahead


The victorious farmers at Delhi borders, image courtesy NDTV

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.

Continue reading An Unprecedented Struggle, A Glorious Victory – Looking Ahead

Help Us Fight ‘Progressive ‘ Cyberlynching: An Appeal from Kerala

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.

Continue reading Help Us Fight ‘Progressive ‘ Cyberlynching: An Appeal from Kerala

Rise Above Traditional and Conservative Misogyny — Open Letter to the Chief Minister of Kerala: Kalpana Kannabiran

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,

Continue reading Rise Above Traditional and Conservative Misogyny — Open Letter to the Chief Minister of Kerala: Kalpana Kannabiran

Women’s Rights are Hard Won — An Open Letter to the Chief Minister of Kerala : V Geetha

we are troubled that the state finds it hard to grant a woman the right to lead a life of her choice and to have custody over her child. These are hard won rights, and it has taken generations of struggle by women, many of whom are from your state, to secure both civil and legal acknowledgement for women’s rights to marriages of their choice, and for their right to motherhood, divorce, adoption and so on.

Continue reading Women’s Rights are Hard Won — An Open Letter to the Chief Minister of Kerala : V Geetha

Do not let the injustice drag infinitely — Open Letter to the Chief Minister of Kerala — Dr Gayatri Devi

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.

Continue reading Do not let the injustice drag infinitely — Open Letter to the Chief Minister of Kerala — Dr Gayatri Devi

Restore Faith in Kerala’s Progressive Legacy — Open Letter to the Chief Minister of Kerala: Prof Mohan Rao

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.

Continue reading Restore Faith in Kerala’s Progressive Legacy — Open Letter to the Chief Minister of Kerala: Prof Mohan Rao

Drona Mindset Plays Havoc with Deserving Students

Modern-day Eklavyas are depriving students of their dues across the country. No government can compensate for robbing students from underprivileged backgrounds of their future.

Drona Mindset Plays Havoc with Deserving Students

In the 19th century, Chatra district in Jharkhand hosted the legendary Raja Rammohan Roy for a while. A memorial to Subedar Nadir Ali Khan and Jay Mangal Panday, martyred during the 1857 war of independence, is also here. Now, this district is in the news again, but for the wrong reasons.

A Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) report tabled in the state Assembly has detailed the embezzlement of around Rs. 85 crore, meant to fund the scholarship of students belonging to the backward classes. The siphoning went on from 2013-18, says the CAG report for 2018-19.

The modus operandi of the scammers was simple. The money was not transferred to the accounts of beneficiaries, as the state department for Scheduled Caste, Scheduled Tribes, Minority and Backward Class Welfare says. Instead, it went into the bank accounts of other individuals.

The explanation offered by the concerned people was straightforward. They told the CAG that documents related to the transfer of Rs. 70 crore got destroyed in a fire. A significant portion of the Rs. 85 crore is yet to get recovered. The department never bothered to reconcile its accounts even after the fire incident.

( Read the full text here )

Why BJP Wants Meat Banned in Mathura

The BJP is imposing harmful dietary restrictions and refusing to accept that more Indians want to consume meat, fish and eggs for their nutritional benefits.

Mathura
Representational use only

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In 1902, the prolific British writer HG Wells delivered a philosophical speech titled “The Discovery of the Future” at the Royal Institution in London. Wells is often remembered for his “predictions”, for example, the approximate date when the second world war would begin. In this speech, he envisioned something else with equally significant ramifications—the collapse of the capitalist system. Wells also anticipated that a world of peace and plenty would follow in its wake.

What if someone, following Wells example, attempts a similar extrapolation for India? If anybody could foresee such things, what would they find lies ahead for the “biggest democracy” in the world?

In the absence of Wells, perhaps present-day events can be a map or guide to the future. For example, during recent Janamashtmi celebrations, Uttar Pradesh, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath announced that his government would ban meat and liquor in Mathura city. He said the meat-sellers and liquor dealers of the area could switch to selling milk. According to his government, a meat and liquor ban would help combine “modern technology” with the cultural and spiritual heritage of the region.

( Read the full article here)

resisting the papa state? E Bull jet brothers or hadiya?

In the recent controversy over the arrest of the travel vloggers Ebin and Libin who rode high on popularity with lakhs of subscribers through their Youtube channel E Bull Jet, it is very hard not to side with the two young men. The flamboyant pair whose hugely popular travel — or ‘van life’ — videos have a massive following especially among male adolescents and youth — are school drop-outs and have a history of rising from severe social disadvantage — literally, of pulling themselves up by their own bootstraps. The two young men, despite their excesses, pull at your heartstrings. Their smile, their slang, their sense of excitement on the road, the innocent gawking — all of it looks disarmingly innocent. It is also true that the crime they committed was not major; nor is justice handed out evenly. That is, such crimes around vehicles and driving are not new and it is not at all clear if the powerful who commit such crimes are tackled in the same way. Therefore the video which showed the brothers being hauled into the police van was painful for many of us (including me) — Ebin wept aloud, “adikkalle saare! Njaan onnum cheithilla … kolapaathakiyeppole enne kondupokunnu….” (don’t beat me please, sir. I didn’t do anything wrong . … I am being taken away like a murderer). That despondent wail somehow refuses to get out of my head; that is why I need to write this.

Continue reading resisting the papa state? E Bull jet brothers or hadiya?

When public good faces a faith hurdle

Moderation and acceptance are parts of a continuous struggle to ensure that democracy does not get subsumed by majoritarianism.

When Public Good Faces a Faith Hurdle

‘The sublime and the ridiculous are often so nearly related that it is difficult to class them separately. One step above the sublime makes the ridiculous,

and one step above the ridiculous makes the sublime again.’ –Thomas Paine, The Age of Reason.

The idea of public good faced a faith hurdle in Kerala recently. The issue was the widening of National Highway 66 on a stretch in Umayanalloor village, Thazhuthala, and adjacent towns of the Kollam district. A batch of petitions challenged the highway because two temples and mosques were in its alignment. It was a tricky situation, and a hasty decision may well have had consequences.

Without wavering on constitutional principles, the Kerala High Court handled the case skilfully. A single-judge bench of Justice PV Kunhikrishnan rejected petitions that opposed the land acquisition and asked citizens to rise above difficulties for better highways for all citizens. It emphasised that courts could not intervene in acquisition proceedings unless there is patent illegality or malafide action.

( Read the full text here)

The Trafficking Bill 2021 – Assault on Labour and Industry Rights: Rakesh Shukla and Aarthi Pai

Guest post by RAKESH SHUKLA AND AARTHI PAI

The Trafficking in Persons (Prevention, Care, and Rehabilitation) Bill 2021 scheduled to be tabled in the current session of Parliament has grave implications for workers and marginalised populations. Trafficking is a criminal offense and indisputably requires strict measures to combat unscrupulous persons who exploit the vulnerability of workers. Instead, the current draft ends up criminalising  vulnerable individuals in the absence of comprehensive policies, programmes and measures that address the factors that make persons vulnerable to trafficking. The aspiration to move and access better living conditions, poverty, lack of equal opportunity and skewed development policies force persons to move in an unsafe manner and accept work in a criminalised environment for instance in sex work, undocumented workers abroad or for organ trade. Continue reading The Trafficking Bill 2021 – Assault on Labour and Industry Rights: Rakesh Shukla and Aarthi Pai

The Tarun Tejpal Judgement – where do we go from here? Abhinav Sekhri

Guest post by ABHINAV SEKHRI

In a 2013 opinion piece, Professor Pratiksha Baxi wrote about the injustice that victims of sexual assault have historically suffered at the hands of the criminal process in India, reminding us that even those cases which forced our laws to change were stories of sexual assaults never proven before the eyes of law. That opinion piece was written in the wake of allegations in the case registered as State v. Tarun Tejpal, where on 21.05.2021, the Court of the Additional Sessions Judge at Panaji acquitted the accused on all charges, i.e. for alleged commission of offences under 376(2)(f), 376(2)(k), 354, 354A, 354B, 341, and 342 of the Indian Penal Code 1860.

The judgment has been critiqued on the court’s consideration of the victim’s testimony [see, for instance, here, here and here]. It appears that an appeal has been filed by the state challenging the acquittal, where the High Court has initially directed that sections of the judgment ought to be redacted as they reveal the identity of the victim.

This post does not attempt a microscopic review of the merits of the case, not only because an appeal is pending, but also because the judgment does not give a clear conspectus of the entire evidence on record to allow for such an exercise. Instead, while making some broad observations on the judgment (to the extent possible based on the evidence extracted) it brings up three issues that the judgment throws into sharp relief: (i) appreciating evidence, with a focus on witness credibility and the handling of inadmissible evidence at trial; (ii) consideration of digital evidence from victims in sexual assault cases, and; (iii) consequences of “bad” orders on the system itself.

Continue reading The Tarun Tejpal Judgement – where do we go from here? Abhinav Sekhri

covid-19 mismanagement : Can india ‘do’ a brazil ?

Brazil’s Parliamentary Enquiry is probing the way the Bolsonaro-led government handled the pandemic leading to the deaths of 4,00,000 Brazilians.

Covid mismangement

Jail Bolsonaro, the far right President of Brazil, is a worried man these days. The next round of elections for the post of President is merely a year away and there is a strong possibility that his bete noire Lula – former President of Brazil between 2003 and 2011 – can be in the ring to challenge him. The Supreme Court of Brazil has annulled Lula’s two bribery convictions, and if he plans the 75 year old charismatic Lula can give him a tough challenge.

The worrisome aspect is the unfolding Parliamentary Enquiry, which seeks to focus on the way the Brazil government handled the pandemic, what his critics call ‘disastrous and potentially criminal response to Covid that has killed 4,00,000 Brazilians and the nightmare still continues.

An indication of the fact that this enquiry is not going to be a formality can be gauged from the way one of its key members, Sen Humberto Costa, who was a former health minister, put it; he said, “It is a true health, economic, and political tragedy, and the main responsibility lies with the president,” and he believes there is enough evidence to conclude that Bolsonaro committed “crimes against humanity”. Costa is not alone in his assessment of Bolsonaro, many other analysts have also used similar label for him.

( Read the full text here)

Hey Ram ( Rajya) !

Teachers as Cannon Fodder During Covid 19 ?

covid 19 ram rajya

There is in every village a torch – the teacher; and an extinguisher – the priest.” -Victor Hugo

Hugo, the great French writer and activist, had famously described the role education or a teacher plays in a backward society, where education was still a preserve of the few.

Perhaps we Indians can associate with it more since this has been a society where education was denied to the vast majority of people for hundreds of years just because they were born into so-called unclean families. How the mere exposure to rudimentary education could transform someone like a Muktabai – a girl born to one of the depressed caste families – challenges these age-old denials with vehemence.

It can be said with a degree of certainty that Hugo would not have envisaged a situation when the Priest himself assumes power or where a monk himself becomes the ruler.

The biggest state within the Indian Union, namely Uttar Pradesh, with a population of more than 200 million people, provides a glimpse of this phenomenon unfolds in the field of education. The state is presently governed by monk-turned-politician Yogi Adityanath; a man who till he became Chief Minister was a member of Parliament and had the sole experience of running a religious mutt.

Reports mention that 135 teachers and teaching assistants died owing to their duties in Panchayat elections in the state. A teachers’ association said how right from the days of training teachers for election duty to the actual elections, thousands of teachers and teaching assistants had contracted COVID-19.The counting of votes for these elections will occur on May 2.

( Read the full article here)

Why ensuring dalit human rights is still a tough task in the 21 st century

‘Sunped in Haryana and Natham in Tamil Nadu, separated from each other by hundreds of kilometers, populated by communities speaking different languages and cultures, find themselves connected because of this ‘Unity in Diversity’ of a different kind; being witness to atrocities on Dalits in very many ways.’

Representational image. | Image Courtesy: Wall Street Journal

“The Smallest Coffins are the Heaviest”.

Sunped, a small village in Faridabad, Haryana, hit the national headlines recently once again, when a CBI court gave its verdict in case of the deaths of two Dalit children.

If memory does not fail you, one would recall that this village had witnessed the deaths of two children – two and a half year-old Vaibhav and ten-month-old Divya – who were burned alive and their parents Rekha and Jitender suffering burn injuries half a decade ago. 

These deaths in a village which had a background of simmering conflict between dominant castes and Dalits, despite police protection provided to the ill-fated family, had caused  tremendous uproar at the national level. Rallies and marches were held in different parts of the state and in the rest of India as well, demanding justice for the family. A callous statement by a Union Cabinet Minister about the incident where he argued that the government cannot be held responsible if “someone throws stones at a dog” had then added further fuel to the fire.

Perhaps to douse popular anger, the state government led by Manohar Lal Khattar had ordered a CBI enquiry into the case. It also took into custody eleven members of the dominant caste (namely Rajputs) from Sunped for their alleged involvement in these killings, based on a complaint by the victims.  

The verdict by the CBI court in the case has landed the struggle for justice in this particular case into a black hole. 

( Read the full article here)

नरेंद्र मोदी स्टेडियम: आज़ादी के नायकों की जगह लेते ‘नए इंडिया’ के नेता

मोटेरा स्टेडियम का नाम बदलना दुनिया के इतिहास में- ख़ासकर उपनिवेशवाद के ख़िलाफ़ संघर्ष कर आज़ाद हुए मुल्कों में, ऐसा पहला उदाहरण है, जहां किसी स्वाधीनता सेनानी का नाम मिटाकर एक ऐसे सियासतदां का नाम लगाया गया हो, जिसका उसमें कोई भी योगदान नहीं रहा हो.

नरेंद्र मोदी स्टेडियम. फोटो: रॉयटर्स)

Courtesy – नरेंद्र मोदी स्टेडियम. फोटो: रॉयटर्स

क्रिकेट का खेल भारत का सबसे लोकप्रिय खेल है. पिछले दिनों यह खेल नहीं बल्कि इस खेल के लिए फिलवक्त मौजूद दुनिया का ‘सबसे बड़ा क्रिकेट स्टेडियम’ एक अलग वजह से सुर्खियों में आया.

मौका था अहमदाबाद के मोटेरा स्टेडियम- जिसे सरदार वल्लभभाई पटेल स्टेडियम के तौर पर जाना जाता रहा है – के नए सिरे से उद्घाटन का, जो वर्ष 2015 में नवीनीकरण के लिए बंद किया गया था और अब नयी साजसज्जा एवं विस्तार के साथ खिलाड़ियों एवं दर्शकों के लिए तैयार था.

याद रहे कि पहले गुजरात स्टेडियम के तौर जाने जाते इस स्टेडियम का स्वाधीनता आंदोलन के महान नेता वल्लभभाई पटेल – जो आज़ादी के बाद देश के गृहमंत्री  भी थे- के तौर पर नामकरण किया गया था, जब तत्कालीन गुजरात सरकार ने स्टेडियम के लिए सौ एकड़ जमीन आवंटित की, जिसका निर्माण महज नौ महीनों में पूरा किया गया था. (1982)

दरअसल हुआ यह कि जिस दिन उसका उद्घाटन होना था, उस दिन अचानक लोगों को पता चला कि अब यह सरदार वल्लभभाई पटेल स्टेडियम नहीं बल्कि ‘नरेंद्र मोदी स्टेडियम’ के तौर पर जाना जाएगा.

सबसे विचित्र बात यह थी कि इस नामकरण को बिल्कुल गोपनीय ढंग से किया गया. गोपनीयता इस कदर थी कि खुद समाचार एजेंसियों प्रेस ट्रस्ट आफ इंडिया या एएनआई आदि तक को पता नहीं था कि उसका नामकरण किया जाने वाला है.

जाहिर था कि पीटीआई या एएनआई जैसी संस्थाओं की सुबह की प्रेस विज्ञप्ति भी उसे सरदार वल्लभभाई पटेल स्टेडियम के तौर पर संबोधित करती दिख रही थी. यह अलग बात है कि अगली प्रेस विज्ञप्ति में अचानक नरेंद्र मोदी स्टेडियम का जिक्र होने लगा.

अब जैसी कि उम्मीद की जा सकती है कि इस नामकरण- जो दरअसल नामांतरण था- पर तीखी प्रतिक्रिया हुई. न केवल इसे सरदार वल्लभभाई पटेल के अपमान के तौर पर देखा गया बल्कि यह भी कहा गया कि एक पदेन प्रधानमंत्री का नाम देकर प्रस्तुत सरकार ने एक तरह से दुनिया में अपनी हंसी उड़ाने का ही काम किया है.

विपक्ष ने साफ कहा कि यह एक तरह से मोदी के पर्सनालिटी कल्ट को अधिक वैधता प्रदान करने का काम है. मिसालें पेश की गईं कि समूची दुनिया में भी ऐसी मिसालें बहुत गिनी-चुनी ही मिलती हैं, जो अधिनायकवादी मुल्कों में दिखती हैं.

( Read the full text here : http://thewirehindi.com/160559/renaming-of-motera-stadium/)

If Comment is Free, Why are Dissenters Being Locked Up?

THE STATE LOOKS THE OTHER WAY ONLY WHEN RIGHT-WING FOOTSOLDIERS TARGET INNOCENT PEOPLE AND PROVOKE VIOLENCE.

If Comment is Free, Why are Dissenters Being Locked Up?

A foreigner, returning from a trip to the Third Reich,

When asked who ruled there, answered:

Fear…

The Regime, Bertolt Brecht.

Those occasions on which judicial verdicts bring cheer are getting rarer. As everyone who supports gender justice rejoices over the victory of senior journalist Priya Ramani in the defamation case filed against her by ex-minister MJ Akbar, it is also time to get excited over another judgement passed in another court.

In an ambience in which dissent is increasingly criminalised, this judgement by a Delhi court, which grants bail to two people accused of posting “fake” videos related to the ongoing farmer movement, is also a breath of fresh air.

The prosecution argued that these videos—which seemed to express discontent among police officers against the government—could create disaffection against the government. Instead of agreeing, the judge hearing the case handed out a tutorial to the government as to when the law on spreading disaffection is actually to be applied.

The law, the prosecution was told, can be invoked only when there is a “call to violence”. The judge underlined that the law to punish sedition is an important instrument to maintain peace and order, and it cannot be invoked to quieten disquiet while pretending to muzzle miscreants.

Any student of law knows that the judge’s declarations resonate with two historic judgements delivered by the highest court of the country, namely the Kedarnath Singh vs State of Bihar ruling from 1962 and the Balwant Singh and Bhupinder Singh vs State of Punjab government case from 1995, which specifically emphasise that the charge of sedition can be used only when violence is invoked or where there are attempts to create disorder.

( Read the full text here)

Molehills from mountains and other stories from kerala

Recently, on fieldwork in a peri-urban panchayat in Kerala devastated by illegal large-scale granite quarrying, a local resident pointed us to what looked like a hillock. It was covered with vegetation — and flowers of a pleasant lilac — which made a very pretty sight — and to the naked eye, looked as solid as any other hillock in the peripheries of the Western Ghats. “This hillock,” he clarified, “is actually just a heap. It is the earth loosened by quarrying, heaped up here over a long time. Because it is overgrown by weeds, we think it is a verdant hill.” Far from being the latter, he said, it poses a serious danger to the neighborhood. “A spell of really heavy rain can bring it down and just imagine what will happen to the houses below?”

Continue reading Molehills from mountains and other stories from kerala

Toolkits of democracy and a paranoid Hindu Rashtra

Widows and relatives of farmers who were believed to have killed themselves over debt, at Tikri border. Image courtesy Indian Express

Let me tell you what the Delhi Police knows. And I do not mean the abstract entity called Delhi Police. I mean every single IPS officer and every constable involved in carrying out the “toolkit investigation.”

They know that 22 year old Disha Ravi is not the Prime Mover along with the relatively recently formed Canada-based Poetic Justice Foundation  (set up in March 2020) , in a plot to overthrow the Indian government.  They know this because the IPS officers at least, can read English and a simple search would show them that the term “toolkit” in this context is basically used by organizers of street protests against autocracies the world over, for peacefully expressing mass dissent.

Here is one such article from 2013 called The Dissident’s Toolkit, in the context of the Arab Spring. The author Erica Chenoweth (soon to be honoured with an arrest warrant) explains:

Research shows, in fact, that demonstrations are just one of many tools that civil resistance movements can use to effect change. Successful movements are those that use a wide array of methods to pressure their state opponents while keeping their activists safe. The demonstration tactic we’re used to seeing is just one of many hundreds of tactics available to civilians seeking change — and successful campaigns for change must use more than just a single tactic.

Continue reading Toolkits of democracy and a paranoid Hindu Rashtra