Category Archives: Media politics

कोविड-19 संकट के दौरान मिसाल बनकर उभरा क्यूबा

मार्च महीने में इटली के मिलान में मालपेंसा एयरपोर्ट पर क्यूबाई डॉक्टर्स का दल. (फोटो: रॉयटर्स)

मार्च महीने में इटली के मिलान में मालपेंसा एयरपोर्ट पर क्यूबाई डॉक्टर्स और स्वास्थ्यकर्मियों का दल. (फोटो: रॉयटर्स)

हेनरी रीव, इस नाम से कितने लोग परिचित हैं?

यह अलग बात है कि इस युवा की याद में बनी एक मेडिकल ब्रिगेड की दुनिया भर की सक्रियताओं से तो सभी परिचित हैं, जिसने कोविड महामारी के दिनों में भी अपने चिकित्सा के कामों में- जो अंतरराष्ट्रीयतावाद की भावना को मजबूती देते हुए आगे बढ़ी है, कहीं आंच नहीं आने दी है, जिसका निर्माण क्यूबा ने किया है.

मालूम हो कि हेनरी रीव के बारे में इतना ही हम जानते हैं कि 19 साल का यह अमेरिकी नौजवान था, जो न्यूयॉर्क के ब्रुकलिन स्थित अपने घर को छोड़ते हुए 19वीं सदी के अंतिम दौर में स्पेनिश हुक्मरानों के खिलाफ क्यूबाई संघर्ष से जुड़ गया था.

और क्यूबा ने अपने इस अनूठे स्वतंत्राता सेनानी की याद में मेडिकल ब्रिगेड का गठन किया है जो आज की तारीख में 22 मुल्कों में सक्रिय है.

आप को याद होगा वह दृश्य, जो कैमरे में कैद होते वक्त ही कालजयी बने रहने का संकेत दे रहा था. जब मिलान, जो इटली के संपन्न उत्तरी हिस्से का मशहूर शहर है, वहां अपने डॉक्टरी यूनिफॉर्म पहने एक टीम मालपेंसा एयरपोर्ट पर उतर रही थी और उस प्रसिद्ध एयरपोर्ट पर तमाम लोग खड़े होकर उनका अभिवादन कर रहे थे. (18 मार्च 2020)

यह सभी डॉक्टर तथा स्वास्थ्य पेशेवर हेनरी रीव ब्रिगेड के सदस्य थे, जो इटली सरकार के निमंत्रण पर वहां पहुंचे थे. एयरपोर्ट पर खड़े लोगों में चंद ऐसे भी थे, जिन्होंने तब अपने सीने पर क्रॉस बनाया, अपने भगवान को याद किया क्योंकि उनके हिसाब से क्यूबा के यह डॉक्टर किसी ‘फरिश्ते’ से कम नहीं थे. Continue reading कोविड-19 संकट के दौरान मिसाल बनकर उभरा क्यूबा

At the Edge of Postmodernity – Reflections on the Contemporary from the Global South

 

 

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The term ‘contemporary’ is often used synonymously with ‘the present’. It is often used to connote ‘newness’. But there is another sense where it refers to the idea of inhabiting the same time (as for example in the statement: ‘Gandhi was a contemporary of Tagore’) or of the industrial revolution being contemporaneous with the emergence of the steam engine. In this sense, it is not newness but ideas of simultaneity, co-presence, coevalness etc that are sought to be invoked through the use of the term ‘contemporary’.

The problem of the contemporary is therefore also a problem of multiplicity, of many different modes of being, and in a sense, can be seen as distinct from the idea of ‘the present’. For the category of ‘the present’, on the other hand, assumes a singularity and lies at the root of all attempts to understand ‘our times’ in relation to some specific characteristic or feature in relation to which others become ‘the past’. Thus ‘our time’ could be defined in terms of the ‘information technology and communications revolution’, ‘the digital revolution’ or the ‘era of post-truth’ and ‘populism’ and so on.

Continue reading At the Edge of Postmodernity – Reflections on the Contemporary from the Global South

Why Modi and Sangh Parivar Want to ‘Disremember’ Golwalkar

PM Modi didn’t mention former RSS chief Golwalkar on his recent 114th birth anniversary. The idea is to implement his ‘essence’ in private while not mentioning him in public.

Why Modi and Sangh Parivar Want

The 114th birth anniversary of Madhav Sadashiv Golwalkar went unnoticed. Barring a stray article by a second-rung leader of the saffron party in a national daily, none from the top hierarchy deemed it even necessary to remember the second chief of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) who followed the organisation’s founder, KB Hedgewar.

Interestingly, while Twitter-savvy Prime Minister Narendra Modi found time to tweet about his litti chokha conquest at Hunar Haat in Delhi, there was not a single line about Golwalkar on his timeline that day. It appeared a bit strange because in his book titled ‘Jyotipunj’ on the “greatest social workers” who “burnt their lives to glow the Motherland”, Modi had devoted forty pages to Golwalkar. “The life of Golwalkar Guruji is a fine example of dedication. Guruji, possessed all those qualities which are expected of an individual who lives for his goal—patience, determination, perseverance,” he wrote.

Was Modi’s or his senior colleagues’ silence inadvertent, or deliberate?

( Read the full article here : https://www.newsclick.in/Modi-Sangh-Parivar-Want-Disremember-Golwalkar)

 

Delhi Elections and the Difficult Terrain of Antifascist Struggle

 

Three incidents of firing in four days – two in Jamia Millia Islamia and one in Shaheen Bagh – quickly followed open calls to violence (‘goli maro saalon ko‘) by Union minister of State for Finance Anurag Thakur and the demonization of Shaheen Bagh protesters by BJP MP Pravesh Verma (‘the protesters will enter your homes and rape and kill your daughters’ if Modi and Shah aren’t there). In the case of the Shaheen Bagh shooter, Kapil Gujjar, the Delhi Police (which has till date not managed to find out the JNU attacker Komal Sharma’s affiliation) was quick to link him to the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) – an allegation expressly denied by his father. All these episodes, so obviously set up, basically aimed at provoking the protesters into committing some violence that the lapdog television channels would then play up, in their usual hysterical style (some of them may even have appeared on air in police uniform!), to vitiate the atmosphere.

On the very first shooting, one such channel did indeed keep doing precisely that till long after the identity of the shooter (in the clip above) had been clearly established. The clips were circulating almost instantaneously and you can hear the gunman shouting Delhi Police zindabad, and there was little chance of mistaking him for an anti-CAA protester. The channel knew exactly what it was doing and at whose behest but kept on at it till 9 o’clock at night.

Continue reading Delhi Elections and the Difficult Terrain of Antifascist Struggle

कितनी आज़ाद है ग्रामीण पत्रकारों की कलम? : पी. साइनाथ

Guest Post by P Sainath

(बनारस के पराड़कर स्मृति सभागार में 29 नवंबर, 2019 को “पत्रकारों पर हमले के विरुद्ध समिति” CAAJ द्वारा आयोजित कार्यक्रम में दिया गया व्याख्यान)

मैं पांच भाषाओं में बराबर खराब बोल सकता हूं। यहां मैं मुंबइया हिंदी में बोलूंगा। आप लोगों ने सम्मान दिया, किताब रिलीज करने को बुलाया, यह मेरे लिए सम्मान की बात है क्योंकि ग्रामीण भारत के बारे में बहुत कम छपता है। इस किताब में दस राज्यों से रिपोर्टें हैं। ये वे दस राज्य हैं जहां देश की आधी आबादी, करीब साठ−सत्तर करोड़ लोग रहते हैं। इसलिए ये बहुत अहम है। इसकी अहमियत समझने के लिए आप ये आंकड़े देखिए।

हिंदुस्तान के नेशनल अखबारों में ग्रामीण खबरें कितना छपती हैं, इसके लिए इनके फ्रंट पेज लीजिए। दिल्ली में एक संस्था है सेंटर फॉर मीडिया स्टडीज़। एन. भास्कर राव की। वो तीस साल से रिसर्च कर रहे हैं मीडिया के ऊपर। अभी उनका आपरेशन कमती हो रहा है क्योंकि मीडिया में रिसर्च को लेकर इंटरेस्ट नहीं रह गया है। अब मीडिया वाले मार्केट रिसर्च एजेंसी के पास जाते हैं, इनके पास नहीं जाते। सीएमएस की स्टडी में ग्रामीण खबरों पर एक रिसर्च निकला था। ये नेशनल डेली का पांच साल का डेटा है। नेशनल डेली का मतलब वे अखबार जिनका एक एडिशन दिल्ली से निकलता हो। हो सकता है कि एक ही एडिशन निकलता हो कुल दिल्ली से, लेकिन वो भी नेशनल डेली है। बाकी सब एंटी-नेशनल डेली हैं। तो नेशनल डेली के फ्रंट पेज पर पांच साल का एवरेज ग्रामीण खबर का स्पेस है 0.67 परसेंट। ग्रामीण इलाके में जनसंख्या क्या है? 69 परसेंट, 2011 के सेंसस में। 69 परसेंट आबादी को आप देते हैं 0.67 परसेंट जगह। अगर जनसंख्या के 69 परसेंट को आप 0.67 परसेंट जगह अखबार के फ्रंट पेज पर देते हैं तो बाकी पेज किस पर जाते हैं? फ्रंट पेज का 67 परसेंट नर्इ दिल्ली को जाता है। और यह 0.67 परसेंट भी एग्ज़ैग्जरेशन (अतिरेक) है। ऐसा क्यों दिखा रहा है? क्योंकि पांच साल का यह एवरेज है। इसमें एक साल चुनाव का साल है। अगर चुनाव का साल निकाल दें, तो डेटा 0.20 परसेंट आता है।

एक पत्रकार जो काम करता है, बिना इनसेंटिव के करता है। अपने आदर्शवाद के चलते करता है। आपको ग्रामीण पत्रकारिता से कोर्इ प्रमोशन नहीं मिलने वाला है। कोर्इ रिकग्नीशन नहीं मिलने वाला है। मैंने जब “एवरीवन लव्ज़ अ गुड ड्रॉट” किताब लिखी, तब ज़माना बदल रहा था। तब मुझे थोड़ा रिकग्नीशन मिला। इस किताब का नाम मैंने नहीं दिया। एक छोटे से किसान ने मुझे ये नाम दिया था। वो मेरे साथ गया था पलामू, डालटनगंज। लातेहार में हम पहुंचे एक दिन। मैंने सोचा सर्किल आफिस में जाएंगे। किसान का नाम था रामलखन। वो मेरे साथ गया। सरकारी आफिस में एक आदमी नहीं बैठा था। सर्किल अफसर नहीं, बीडीओ नहीं, कुछ नहीं था। वहां बीडीओ को बीटीडीओ कहते हैं। ब्लॉक द डेलपमेंट अफसर। मैंने पूछा− रामलखन, ये लोग कहां गया यार। उसने बोला, सब तीसरी फसल लेने के लिए गया है। आइ फेल्ट अ लिटिल स्टुपिड… ये तीसरी फसल क्या चीज़ है। मैंने बोला− मैं जानता हूं रबी, खरीफ़। डेढ़ सौ साल पहले एक तीसरी फसल थी जायद। ये तीसरी फसल क्या है मैं नहीं समझ पा रहा। उसने बोला− ये तीसरी फसल है ड्रॉट रिलीफ (सूखा राहत)। उसने कहा− यहां बड़े लोग इस तीसरी फसल को बहुत पसंद करते हैं। ये लोग अकाल को बहुत पसंद करते हैं। इस तरह मेरी किताब का नाम पड़ा।

( Read the full text here : https://www.mediavigil.com/event/how-free-are-rural-journalists-sainath-lecture-in-varanasi/)

 

A Crime of ‘Pure’Indifference

The ethic that dehumanises dalits continues 72 years after the country’s Independence.

A Crime of ‘Pure’

What, to the American slave, is your Fourth of July? I answer: a day that reveals to him, more than all other days in the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is the constant victim. To him, your celebration is a sham; your boasted liberty, an unholy license; your national greatness, swelling vanity; your sounds of rejoicing are empty and heartless… There is not a nation on the earth guilty of practices more shocking and bloody than are the people of the United States, at this very hour.

These fiery lines from a speech delivered on July 4, 1852 in New York by Frederick Douglass, a former slave who had become a national leader of the abolitionists, rattled a predominantly White audience. The speech was delivered 10 years before slavery in the Southern states was abolished.

More than 80 years later, on August 14, 1931, Dr Bhimrao Ambedkar, a Columbia University and London School of Economics graduate, who was then leading a movement of the oppressed and exploited in India, met Mahatma Gandhi for the first time. “Gandhiji, I have no homeland,” Ambedkar told Gandhi, according to a transcript of that meeting. “No untouchable worth the name will be proud of this land.” As expected, the Varna (caste) mindset that dominated India then did not take kindly to Ambedkar’s charge.

( Read the full article here : https://www.newsclick.in/A-Crime-Pure-Indifference-Dehumanises-Dalits)

Modinama : Issues That Did Not Matter

In May 2019, the party of the Hindu Right, Bharatiya Janata Party, under Narendra Modi, won a spectacular electoral victory.

The victory seemed to defy common sense – why did conversations of life and livelihood not dominate the election? Why did the thuggery of the Hindutva vigilantes seem inconsequential to vast numbers of ordinary, decent people? Why is an aggressive, masculine fundamentalism so normalized in our society today?

In other words, why didn’t the issues that matter, seem to matter? The question goes deeper than electoral arithmetic. It asks if Modi and the BJP have not only changed the electoral map, but also begun to corrode social norms.

This book, based on Modi’s first five years as prime minister, is a warning for the next five.

SUBHASH GATADE

Subhash Gatade is a left activist and author. He is the author of Charvak ke Vaaris (Hindi, 2018), Ambedkar ani Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (Marathi, 2016), Godse’s Children: Hindutva Terror in India (2011) and The Saffron Condition (2011). His writings for children include Pahad Se Uncha Aadmi (2010).

978-81-934666-9-8

LeftWord Books, New Delhi, 2019

Language: English

128 pages, 5.5″ x 8.5″

Price INR 195.00 Book Club Price INR 137.00

(https://mayday.leftword.com/catalog/product/view/id/21450)

 

रामचरण मुंडा की मौत पर दो मिनट का मौन!

सोचने का सवाल है कि क्या इन मौतों को महज तकनीकी गड़बड़ियों तक न्यूनीकृत किया जा सकता है? क्या इसके कोई संरचनागत कारण नहीं हैं? ‘आखिर अधिक अनाज पैदा करने के बावजूद हम भूख की समस्या को मिटा क्यों नहीं पा रहे हैं।
Munda

‘‘रामचरण मुंडाउम्र 65 साल को विगत दो माह से सार्वजनिक वितरण प्रणाली के तहत राशन नहीं दिया गया था। हमारे अधिकारियों ने इसकी सत्यता की पड़ताल की है।’’

लातेहारझारखण्ड के डिप्टी कमीशनर जनाब राजीव कुमार द्वारा लातेहार के दुरूप गांव के रहने वाले उपरोक्त आदिवासी की मौत पर की ऐसी स्वीकारोक्ति बहुत कम देखने में आती है।

अपनी पत्नी चमरी देवी और बेटी सुनिला कुमारी के साथ रामचरण गांव में ही रहते थे उनके बेटे की मौत दो साल पहले टीबी के चलते हुई थी। राशन डीलर की बात मानें तो चूंकि इलाके में इंटरनेट की सेवा में दिक्कते हैंऔर राशन वितरण के लिए ऑनलाइन बायोमेट्रिक सिस्टम कायम किया गया हैइसलिए रामचरण को अनाज नहीं दिया जा सका था।

इस मामले की असलियत कभी सामने आएगी इस पर संदेह है।

वैसे भूख से होने वाली मौतें अब देश में अजूबा चीज़ नहीं रही।

दो साल पहले झारखण्ड के ही सिमडेगा जिले के कारीमाटी गांव की 11 वर्षीय हुई संतोषी की मौत के बाद ऐसी मौतों पर लोगों एवं समाज की अधिक निगाह गयी थी। पता चला था कि पूरा परिवार कई दिनों से भूखा था और राशन मिलने के भी कोई आसार नहीं थे क्योंकि राशन कार्ड के साथ आधार लिंक न होने के चलते उनका नाम लिस्ट से हटा दिया गया था। अपनी मां के गोद में ‘भात भात कहते हुए दम तोड़ी संतोषी की दास्तां ने लोगों को विचलित किया था।

( Read the full article here : https://hindi.newsclick.in/raamacarana-maundaa-kai-maauta-para-dao-mainata-kaa-maauna)

Gareebon ko adrenalin rush nahin aati; unko aati hai majboori – the trapped miners of Meghalaya: Abhineet Mishra

Fifteen people have been trapped in an illegal rat-hole mine in East Jaintia Hills in Meghalaya since December 13, 2018.

Three helmets are all that have been found so far. Authorities were callous enough to presume the miners dead on the very day of the accident.  The district administration wrote to the National Disaster Response Force on December 13 asking for help in recovering the “dead bodies”.

But as citizens, we are all equally responsible for a pervasive national culture of violence, exploitation and abuse of power. Abhineet Mishra delivers the shock to our conscience that is long overdue.

Thejus – The Death of a Daily Newspaper

[This is a GUEST POST by N P CHEKKUTTY]

 

It is rarely that a journalist writes about himself or herself, because they are supposed  to be detached observers of history-in-the-making. But this time I cannot help it because one of the things that happened in the Sabarimala-obsessed state of Kerala this week happens to be the demise of Thejas, a daily newspaper that I was associated with for almost 14 years. It was a death foretold over two and half months ago, but no one took notice and no one raised any serious concerns about the passing of a newspaper that existed in our civil society for over a decade. It is sad that the newspaper which was known for its fierce anti-Sangh Parivar positions leave the scene just a few months ahead of a general election that will decide the future course of this country. Continue reading Thejus – The Death of a Daily Newspaper

Remote Islands, Savage Tribes: Sajan Venniyoor

Guest post by SAJAN VENNIYOOR

If you key in “remote island” on Google, most of the news stories it throws up are about an unfortunate and very dead young man named John Allen Chau. If you type in “remote Indian island”, Google will take you immediately to North Sentinel Island.

We are all, by now, familiar with sad tale of John Allen Chau and his ill-fated voyage to Sentinel Island. A young evangelical from the United States, Chau was – apparently from a very tender age – fired with zeal to convert to Christianity the natives of a very specific island in the Bay of Bengal: viz., North Sentinel Island in the Andaman & Nicobar archipelago.

John Allen Chau

Continue reading Remote Islands, Savage Tribes: Sajan Venniyoor

Keep Calm and Carry On: Dealing with Patriarchal Carpet Bombing in Kerala

For all women in India, what is happening in Kerala should be an eye-opener.  This is how Indian society rewards you for reaching the top, aspiring seriously to be on top, and actually asking questions to authorities about why they keep drawing on women’s energies and resources while simultaneously undermining the very ground on which they survive. In Kerala, two things are going on: there is on the one hand, a vicious gang led by Rahul Easwar which is openly threatening women who would dare to enter Sabarimala with the worst kinds of violence, on the other, the horrid misogyny of the press was revealed at the press conference held by the Women in Cinema Collective who expressed their deep disquiet at the way in which the organization of cinema actors, AMMA, and its president Mohanlal, were eager to protect oppressors and ignore survivors. Also, even male intellectuals who have been very supportive of feminist and gender justices causes have been named in the MeToo campaign among journalists in Kerala.

Kerala is a society where, in the past twenty years, we have seen women come up everywhere — in journalism, literature, academics, cinema, architecture, engineering, art, management, sports, trade unionism, activism. Women in Kerala have been the force of social democratizing as evident from the struggles ranging from the Munnar tea garden workers’ struggle to the brave nuns protesting against sexual violence. For sure, a very large number of women in Kerala are ultra-conservative, and that is apparent both in their presence in the muck that Easwar and his gang are raking up in Kerala, as well as in the shameless way in which some of them were emboldened to hurl caste insults at the Chief Minister of Kerala. This is therefore reminiscent not so much of the Battle of Britain in World War II, but for the Battle of Stalingrad — which was heavily bombed by the Luftwaffe, even as there was hand-to-hand combat on the ground for control of the tiniest slices of the city, and where the city residents were often subject to the terrors of both the Nazi and the Soviet sides alike.

If you want to see male hubris overflowing, please take a look at this video, of https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2FWomeninCinemaCollectiveOfficial%2Fvideos%2F249328929064857%2F&show_text=0&width=267“>the press conference held by the Women in Cinema collective. All I can tell us all is, Keep Calm and Carry on. After all, unlike in the World War II, the ammunition of these creeps need not hurt us at all; it can make it only more powerful.

 

 

 

‘अरबन फासिज्म’ की शुरुआत : वैभव सिंह

Guest post by VAIBHAV SINGH

रामचरित मानस में सुन्दर कांड में एक पंक्ति आती है, जो कही तो विभीषण के मुंह से गई है लेकिन वह आज के लोकतंत्र पर भी लागू होती है। चौपाई में विभीषण कहते हैं- ‘सुनहु पवनसुत रहनि हमारी। जिमि दसनन्हि महुं जीभ बिचारी।’ यानी विभीषण कहते हैं कि मैं ऐसे ही रहता हूं जैसे दांतों के बीच जीभ। प्रसंगांतर करके देखें तो भारतीय लोकतंत्र की हालत भी अब फासीवाद, सांप्रदायिकता व पूंजीवादी लोभ-लालच के जहरीले विषदंतों से घिरी जीभ जैसी नहीं हो गई है जिसे कोई भी काट लेना या आहत कर देना चाहता है?  गिरफ्तारियां, सर्चवारंट, नजरबंदी और मीडिया प्रोपगंडा हमारे देश की सर्वप्रमुख सचाई बन चुकी है और अब इस लोकतंत्र के भीतर सशक्त हो चुके अधिनायकवाद के लिए अब यही चीजें उसके शासन की वैधता का प्रमुख आधार बन गई हैं। जिस देश में हर वक्त मुठभेड़, गिरफ्तारी या देशद्रोहियों की खोज का सत्ता-प्रायोजित अभियान चल रहा हो, वहां लोकतंत्र के बारे में सोते-जागते चिंता न होना स्वाभाविक तौर पर संवेदनहीनता या फिर कमअक्ली का लक्षण माना जा सकता है। जैसे साइनबोर्ड पर किसी ने लिख कर टांग दिया है कि लोकतंत्र की अमुख तारीख को हत्या कर दी जाएगी, वह तारीख नजदीक आती जा रही है। ठीक रघुवीर सहाय की ‘रामदास’ कविता में रामदास की हत्या की तरह सभी को जैसे पता चल चुका है कि लोकतंत्र की हत्या हो जाएगी पर सब अपने-अपने काम में मसरूफ़ हैं। रघुवीर सहाय के शब्दों में-

निकल गली से तब हत्यारा/आया उसने नाम पुकारा/

हाथ तौलकर चाकू मारा/ छूटा लहू का फव्वारा/

कहा नहीं था उसने आखिर उसकी हत्या होगी।

Continue reading ‘अरबन फासिज्म’ की शुरुआत : वैभव सिंह

അഭിമന്യുവധം ഉയർത്തുന്ന കാതലായ പ്രശ്നം

സത്യം പറഞ്ഞാൽ അഭിമന്യു എന്ന വിദ്യാർത്ഥിയുടെ ഞെട്ടിക്കുന്ന കൊലപാതകത്തിനു ശേഷം ആ ചെറുപ്പക്കാരൻറെ മാതാവിൻറെ വിലാപം മാത്രമാണ് ഇപ്പോഴും മുഴങ്ങിക്കേൾക്കുന്നത്. ആ ശബ്ദം മനസ്സിൽ നിന്ന് മായുന്നതേയില്ല.

Continue reading അഭിമന്യുവധം ഉയർത്തുന്ന കാതലായ പ്രശ്നം

Statement condemning the attack on Advocate Sudha Bhardwaj

​​We the undersigned wish to place on record our utter disgust, contempt and outrage at the latest in the series of machinations by Republic TV, working to its brief as a propagandist for the ongoing crusade against all those who take public stands in defence of democracy, secularism, human rights, Constitutional propriety and rule of law.

Republic TV’s latest target is Advocate Sudha Bharadwaj, National Secretary of the People’s Union for Civil Liberties, Vice President of the Indian Association of Progressive Lawyers and Visiting Professor at the National Law University Delhi. She is widely-known for her three decades of work as a trade unionist, human rights defender, environmental lawyer and a respected advisor to several state institutions including the state legal aid bodies and the National Human Rights Commission. Continue reading Statement condemning the attack on Advocate Sudha Bhardwaj

Media professionals protest against government proposal to regulate online media

In a letter to Ms Smriti Irani, Minister of Information & Broadcasting, a group of over 100 journalists and other professionals related to online media  expressed concern over the government proposal to extend traditional broadcasting rules and restrictions to the Internet. This could have a drastic impact on a medium that is widely credited with making the media and information landscape more open and democratic across the world, their letter said. 

A website, https://onlinefreedomfoundation.org, has also been set up to allow ordinary citizens to oppose the move to regulate online content.

Letter to Minister of Information & Broadcasting

We are a group of Indian citizens who depend on the Internet to gather and share information on a daily basis.

We have come to know that this ministry has issued an order dated Apr 4, 2018 seeking to establish content regulations for the Internet modeled on those applicable for traditional media like print and TV. This letter is to place on record our feedback on the said order.

In the order, you make the following statements: Continue reading Media professionals protest against government proposal to regulate online media

From Nangeli to Rima Kallingal: Who are fit to claim Nangeli’s Legacy?

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The recent reference to how the distribution of food in Malayali homes is often skewed against women by the actor Rima Kallingal in a recent talk has sparked off yet another round of attacks against feminists in Kerala. It is interesting to see how this seems to have brought together men of all political stripes and colours (may I say, from pro- and anti-Hadiya camps!). The attacks range from mild smirking to outright abuse, but are equally revealing of the fear of women’s feminist self-assertion. So even those men who supported Hadiya’s decision to choose her faith and community find it hard to swallow when women start laying bare the injustices of the ubiquitous patriarchal family, fearing that there may be an implicit choice in this criticism, to move away from the patriarchal family, and indeed, craft other non-patriarchal forms of intimate connection and commitment. After all, whatever be the community, the patriarchal family is acknowledged by patriarchal authorities everywhere as the foundation Continue reading From Nangeli to Rima Kallingal: Who are fit to claim Nangeli’s Legacy?

Statement about the attacks on Dalits in Bhima Koregaon & the Subsequent developments in Maharashtra : Umar Khalid

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

An open letter to Brinda Karat: why do female supporters of the Kerala CPIM spew such venom at Hadiya?

Dear Comrade

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.

Continue reading An open letter to Brinda Karat: why do female supporters of the Kerala CPIM spew such venom at Hadiya?

Thoughts on the Continuing Assault on Women’s Rights and Progressivist Gaslighting in Kerala

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

Cutting the nose to spite the face?

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:

https://youtu.be/ea-rJmuba8I

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.