New Politics of Our Times and Post-Capitalist Futures

An earlier version of this essay was published in Outlook magazine

“The young students are not interested in establishing that neoliberalism works – they’re trying to understand where markets fail and what to do about it, with an understanding that the failures are pervasive. That’s true of both micro and macroeconomics. I wouldn’t say it’s everywhere, but I’d say that it’s dominant.
“In policymaking circles I think it’s the same thing. Of course, there are people, say on the right in the United States who don’t recognise this. But even many of the people on the right would say markets don’t work very well, but their problem is governments are unable to correct it.”
Stiglitz went on to argue that one of the central tenets of the neoliberal ideology – the idea that markets function best when left alone and that an unregulated market is the best way to increase economic growth – has now been pretty much disproved. Read the full report by Will Martin here

One often hears over-zealous warriors of neoliberalism say of Leftists that they live in a time- warp; that the world has long changed and that the disappearance of state-socialism has finally proved that all their beliefs were little more than pipe-dreams. They talk as though history came to an end with the collapse of actually existing socialisms and the global ascendance of neoliberalism in the early 1990s. As though all thought came to an end; as if the distilled essence of everything that could ever be thought, or need be thought, was already encapsulated in the neoliberal dogma.

Continue reading “New Politics of Our Times and Post-Capitalist Futures”

Who will get the hot roti in the Delhi assembly elections?

My friend Guddi has a great story about a Gujjar wedding she attended recently in Ghaziabad. It was a typically chaotic event, marked accurately by the swirling crowds around the dinner stalls. If Gujjar weddings are chaotic and the dinner doubly so, the scene around the tandoor is triply compounded chaos. Barely concealed competition amongst overmuscled Gujjar men in overtight pants for that precious hot roti ensures that none but the most Hobbesian men remain, circling the tandoor like hungry wolves, periodically thrusting their plate forward like fencing champions and shouting obscenities at the harried servers. In such a heart-stopping scenario, a young server had as Guddi recounts, figured out the formula to keep everybody from killing each other (or him). As soon as the roti would be pulled out of the tandoor, seductively golden brown and sizzling, this man would hold it high up with his tongs so everybody could see, then in an elaborate dance-like ritual, touch each of the empty extended plates in front of him with the roti, and finally, in a mysterious but authoritative decision, place it respectfully on a randomly selected plate. Repeat with every single roti that emerged from the tandoor. A hushed silence followed by nervous laughter followed every such flourish.

Continue reading “Who will get the hot roti in the Delhi assembly elections?”

Thinking Past the BJP Victory in UP – Response to Biju Mathew: C.P. Geevan

Guest post by CP GEEVAN

The following is a response to the piece by Biju Mathew on Kafila, underlining the need for single-minded focus and keep the feet firmly on political realities

Given the exuberant optimism that Biju Mathew evokes in these dark days, many of us afflicted by malignant pessimism should not have many reasons to complain or pick holes in this view of looking back and foreseeing the way forward. On the face of it, this article does gladden one’s heart and spirit! However, imagining larger than life attributes to struggles and spells of resistance can be very misleading. In a way, with a rather benevolent interpretation, one cannot quarrel with Biju’s contention that nobody needs to wait for some political party to lead the resistances against the far-right takeover or start the process of breaking the ‘wave’. There is no hesitation in agreeing with the proposition that instead of waiting, which carries the risk of waiting indefinitely, it is imperative that each individual who is appalled at the turn of events must contribute urgently to building ‘innovative and locally responsive actions’. Well, inaction is certainly not an option. Act we must – in the face of the frightening likelihood of the saffron brigade unleashing a horrific civil war and engineering mass killings. There are no quarrels as to the primary intent of the article – that it is a call to shed excessive pessimism, end despondency, and take steps towards politically meaningful actions. Nevertheless, it will be a big mistake to imply that the process of banishing the gloom need not extend to the political rivals of the Hindutva nationalist parties. Continue reading “Thinking Past the BJP Victory in UP – Response to Biju Mathew: C.P. Geevan”

Remembering M. Rasheed – A Grandchild’s Political Farewell: Bobby Kunhu

Guest post by BOBBY KUNHU

Rasheed, a political activist, award winning journalist and activist was one of the founders of the Trotskyite movement in India and the RSP in Kerala. He passed away on the 6th of January, 2017

M. Rasheed

It is very unusual for a grandchild to write public obituaries for grandparents – but Comrade M. Rasheed was a person of unusual politics and his death definitely warrants an unusual response requiring the obituary also to be unusual. Given that the significance of Comrade Rasheed’s life was his unwavering integrity to ideals that he fell into the bad books of his father and walked out of the political party he co-founded, given that he never shied from expressing his opinion on anyone – it would only be right in writing this as a critique of the human being he was – and I am sure he would not have expected anything less from me. Continue reading “Remembering M. Rasheed – A Grandchild’s Political Farewell: Bobby Kunhu”

Canada’s intervention sought for the release of Saibaba : Radical Desi

Guest Post by Radical Desi

A letter asking Canada’s Minister of Sports and Persons with Disabilities Carla Qualtrough to intervene for the release of disabled social justice activist who has been convicted for life in India was submitted at her constituency office on Tuesday, March 28.

Signed by 100 people, the letter asks Canada, which claims to be a human rights leader in the world, to press upon the Government of India to free G.N. Saibaba, a wheelchair bound Delhi University professor who is 90 percent disabled below waist.

Saibaba was sentenced to life imprisonment early this month under draconian Unlawful Activities Prevention Act for standing up for the rights of the oppressed communities, including Adivasis (Indigenous peoples) and religious minorities.

Saibaba was first arrested in 2014 and incarcerated under inhuman conditions sparking protests across the world. Demonstrations were also held in Greater Vancouver, including one outside the Indian Consulate. Though Saibaba got bail on medical grounds, he has now been convicted after being branded as Maoist supporter. His only fault is that he has been raising voice against repression of the Adivasis, who are being evicted from their traditional lands by the extraction industry in connivance with the state authorities. Often the security forces and the state sponsored vigilantes target Adivasis in the areas under the influence of Maoist insurgents in the name of war on terror. By punishing Saibaba the Indian state is clearly trying to suppress a voice of dissent.

The representatives of Radical Desi submitted a letter asking for Canada’s intervention into the case at the constituency office of the Honorable Carla Qualtrough in Delta.

Continue reading “Canada’s intervention sought for the release of Saibaba : Radical Desi”

Remembering Chandu, Friend and Comrade: Kavita Krishnan

Chandrashekhar (Comrade Chandu)

Guest Post by Kavita Krishnan

It’s been twenty years since the assassin’s bullets took Chandu away from us, at 4 pm on 31 March 1997.

I still recall my sheer disbelief when a phone call from my party office at my hostel that evening informed me ‘Chandu has been killed.’ Chandrashekhar as well as youth leader Shyam Narayan Yadav had been shot dead while addressing a street corner meeting in Siwan – ironically at a Chowk named after JP – Jaiprakash Narayan, icon of the movement for democracy against the Emergency. A rickshaw puller Bhuteli Mian also fell to a stray bullet fired by the assassins – all known to be henchmen of the RJD MP and mafia don Mohd. Shahabuddin.

In the spring of 1997, as JNU began to burst into the riotous colours of amaltas and bougainvillea, Chandu bid us goodbye. He had served two terms as JNUSU President (I was Joint Secretary during his second stint) and had decided to return to his hometown Siwan, as a whole-time activist of the CPI(ML) Liberation. He had made the decision to be a whole-time activist a long time ago. Chandu’s friends know that for him, the decision to be an activist rather than pursue a salaried career was no ‘sacrifice.’ It was a decision to do what he loved doing and felt he owed to society.

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A Small Matter of Security – Holding the Guilty Accountable for What Happened in Ramjas College on the 22nd of February: Shafey Danish

This is a guest post by SHAFEY DANISH

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Ramjas students and faculty held hostage inside campus by ABVP cadre

The violence that gripped Ramjas College on the 21st and 22nd of this month is now national news. We heard belligerent slogans by ABVP members of ‘chappal maro saalon ko’ (beat them with slippers), we saw students being chased on the campus, and we saw students being beaten up. All this culminated in a situation where students and teachers were held captive for over five hours within the campus premises. Let me emphasize that this violence was completely unprovoked.

On the 22nd of February, some of the students who were simply sitting with their friends were attacked. The police came and formed a cordon around them. Others joined the students in a gesture of solidarity. Teachers joined them to ensure that the students were not assaulted. The police cordon became their prison for the next five hours. And even then they were not safe.

They were repeatedly assaulted, threatened, and abused. All of this happened in front of their teachers and, more importantly, in front of the police, who, as is well known by now, did not do anything substantial. They could have maintained the cordon around the protesters, arrested those who were repeatedly carrying out the assaults, or – at the very least – prevented the attackers from coming back in (they had left for some time to attack the protest going on outside). But they did not. Whether this was because they were under pressure or because they were complicit is besides the point. The point is that students and teachers remained at the mercy of their attackers for over five hours.

But on the same day something far more ominous was also going on.

Continue reading “A Small Matter of Security – Holding the Guilty Accountable for What Happened in Ramjas College on the 22nd of February: Shafey Danish”