Category Archives: Metropolis

रोगाणु, दाग़ और हमारा ‘विशुद्ध’ समाज : वी. गीता

Guest post by V. GEETHA. Translated by RAJENDER SINGH NEGI

कोरोना के आने से पहले ही हममें रोगाणुओं को लेकर चिंता का भाव विद्यमान था. ज़रा उन फ़र्श, किचन काउंटर, कपड़ों, इत्यादि रोगाणुओं, दाग़, और तमाम क़िस्म के सूक्ष्म घुसपैठी जंतुओं से निजात दिलाने वाले विज्ञापनों को याद करें, जिनमे इन सभी को पर्याप्त और बड़ी चालाकी से दुष्ट क़रार दिया जाता रहा है. कोरोना ने हमें ख़ुद को विशुद्ध और साफ़-सुथरा रखने का पूर्णत: वाजिब कारण दे दिया है. हम चाहे ख़ुद को चारदीवारी के अंदर बंद कर लें, या, अन्यों को उसमें दाख़िल होने से रोकें, अंतत: इसका नतीजा वही निकलता है, कि हम अक्सर पहले से ही समाज में व्याप्त जातिगत, वर्ग-आधारित, नस्ल-भेदी और धार्मिक आधार पर बनाई गई सामाजिक मान्यताओं की दीवारें ही खड़ी कर रहे होते हैं.

तो फिर जिस जोश-खरोश से हमने संभावित संक्रामक माने जाने वाले लोगों पर नज़र रखने, उन्हें चिह्नित और वर्जित करने की क़वायद सर पर उठा रखी है उस पर अचरज नहीं करना चाहिए. इस वर्जना में सरेआम सड़कों पर धर-पकड़, शर्मिंदा किया जाना, घरों में ‘आईसोलेट’ किए गयों के नाम सार्वजनिक किया जाना, और मरीज़ों का ईलाज कर रहे डॉक्टरों और नर्सों का उनकी ही रिहाईशी कॉलोनियों में प्रवेश की निषेधआज्ञा लागू किया जाना भी शामिल है.

Continue reading रोगाणु, दाग़ और हमारा ‘विशुद्ध’ समाज : वी. गीता

As Migrants Begin their Long Trudge to Nowhere, A Note on Migration in Delhi: Jamal Kidwai

Guest Post by JAMAL KIDWAI

Most of the people in Delhi, like in rest of India (according to official estimates, 92 per cent of India’s work force comprises of informal labour) earn their living from working in the informal sector. There is extensive academic literature on this subject.  Typically, informal economy is that which does not find mention in official data, is not formally registered and regulated and falls outside the tax regulation.

The concept of informality became current in economic and social thought in the early 1970’s. It has since been re-considered and re-interpreted. The idea that the informal sector presented a liminal space for workers waiting to be absorbed by the formal sector, has been negated. Instead, current trends suggest that a majority of the Indian work force (approx.92%) labour under short-term informal contracts.  Well-known labour historian Jan Bremen has somewhere written that the fact the informal economy is not officially regulated does not imply a complete absence of regulation. There are many unofficial means of regulation. Quite often activities that do not possess registration and legal sanction get denoted as informal or ‘underground’. This practice results in the official erasure of the economic value of the goods and services produced therein. It also serves the purpose of masking the over-exploitation and socially-levered extortion to which the most unprotected and vulnerable members of the working class are subjected.

Continue reading As Migrants Begin their Long Trudge to Nowhere, A Note on Migration in Delhi: Jamal Kidwai

To Elphinstone Road

When a system is forced to run at four to six times its capacity for years on end, it doesn’t break – it was always broken. Elphinstone Road is the story of almost all urban infrastructure in our cities. It’s a template. It’s a warning. It’s our history, our everyday, and our future. It’s horrifying. It’s utterly banal.

When only death can make you think of repair, maintenance, upkeep, and expansion, then the everydayness of our infrastructure is a state of violence. When that death will still not make you change the way you manage that infrastructure, that violence is a siege, and we have Stockholm Syndrome. Not resilience, but a hostage situation.

The real challenge to us – all of us, in all our locations – is to realise the deep insufficiency of our anger if it is anger just at death. Anger is needed as much at the way we live, not just the ways in which we shouldn’t die.

Continue reading To Elphinstone Road

Academic Community stands firmly with JNUSU President; 100+ academicians, activists, writers issue statement of solidarity

Guest Post by Shehla Rashid on behalf of the signatories
We, the undersigned, are deeply shocked by the shameful attempts by JNU Administration to crush dissent in the University through imposition of arbitrary fines on student activists, denial of registration to students engaged in protests against the administration, including the elected President of the Students’ Union, Mohit Pandey. We stand in solidarity with the JNUSU President who has decided not to pay the arbitrarily imposed fine of 20,000. Many more Students’ Representatives and activists of JNU campus are facing 5-6 inquiries and false FIRs for raising students’ issues.
It is also shocking that a duly elected representatives of the students is being fined such massive amounts for merely raising students’ issues. Several other students have paid the fines, in order to be allowed to register, being forced to succumb under the threat of having their registration held up. Several students with pending inquires are not getting their degree- mark sheets and unable to continue their studies further. This amounts to imposition of a tax/fee on dissent, thereby creating a chilling effect on freedom of expression in the University. This is unacceptable in a University where knowledge creation is contingent upon freedom of ideas.
We call upon the JNU administration to display maturity and stop penalising alternative viewpoints. The current fine of Rs. 20,000 that the JNUSU President is being asked to pay for restoration of his studentship pertains to an instance of anti-administration protests led by the students’ union against the complicity of the JNU Administration in the disappearance of an M.Sc. Biotechnology student named Najeeb Ahmed following a mob assault on him by members of a students’ group affiliated to the ruling party – who were indicted for the assault by a report of the Proctor’s Office, but shielded by the higher ups in the administration, leading the then Proctor to resign from office.
So, the students guilty of leading the lynch mob against Najeeb Ahmed were given no punishment at all, whereas students protesting against his disappearance – who were demanding that the JNU Administration should file a police complaint in the matter – were fined Rs.  20,000 each! Ever since the JNU VC has been appointed by the present government, students not belonging to the ruling party student group have been systematically targeted and penalised for speaking out. There is no record of similar fines upon right-wing groups which routinely engage in vandalism on campus. This clearly amounts to blatant viewpoint discrimination and also serves as a green signal to lynch mobs on campus.
The JNU Administration is using an archaic statute in the book to ban protests at the Administration Block. However, JNU has always had a healthy culture of dissent and protest. Protests against the administration have always been held outside the administration block itself. That the protests disturb the working of the administration is the most dubious pretext for crushing dissent, as there have been historic student movements on JNU campus which have only made the University stronger, its academic traditions more robust and its intellectual environment more egalitarian.
We, therefore, demand that
1) the JNU administration must end its petty tactics of penalising dissent;
2) JNUSU President, Mohit Pandey, must be allowed to register for the next academic semester, unconditionally;
3) all fines against students being imposed for the mere act of protest must be revoked unconditionally;
4) JNU Administration must stop trying to deprive students of the right to protest at the Administration Block, and engage, instead in dialogue with the elected students’ body without bias against the ideology held by the student union representatives;
5) JNU Administration must punish the students who assaulted Najeeb Ahmed, resulting in his disappearance.
Sd/-
Prof. Anand Teltumbde, Senior Professor, Goa Institute of Management
Prof. Anil Sadgopal, Former Dean, Faculty of Education, University of Delhi; Member, Presidium, All India Forum for Right to Education
Dr. Rohan D’Souza, Associate Professor, Kyoto University, Japan
Prof. Chaman Lal, Retired Professor, JNU; Former President, JNUTA
Prof. Nivedita Menon, Professor, Centre for Comparative Politics and Political Theory, School of International Studies, JNU, New Delhi
Jairus Banaji, Research Professor, SOAS, University of London
Prof. Laxman Gaddam, Professor of Commerce, Osmania University
Anwesha Sengupta, Assistant Professor, Institute of Development Studies, Kolkata
Arvind, Professor, IISER Mohali
Rana Partap Behal, Associate Professor (Retd.), Deshbandhu College, University of Delhi. Association of Indian Labour Historians.
Madhu Kushwaha, Professor, BHU
Brinda Bose, Associate Professor, JNU
Debaditya Bhattacharya, Assistant Professor, Nivedita College, University of Calcutta
Dr. Rohini Hensman, Writer and Independent Scholar
Anand Mathew, Director, Prerana Kala Manch, Varanasi
Mary E John, Researcher, Centre for Women’s Development Studies
Padma Velaskar, Professor (Retd.), Tata Institute of Social Sciences
Ravi Kumar, Associate Professor, South Asian University
Ritajyoti Bandyopadhyay, Assistant Professor, IISER Mohali
R. Nandakumar, Art Historian, IGNCA
Madhu Prasad, Associate Professor (Retd.), Zakir Hussain College, DU
K. Laxminarayana, Professor, Hyderabad Central University
Jean Chapman, Adjunct Professor, Concordia University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
T K Arun, Editor, Opinion, The Economic Times
John Cherian, Journalist, Frontline
Teesta Setalvad, Journalist, Activist, Educationist; Citizens for Peace and Justice; Sabrang India
Ravindra Tomar, Senior Researcher, Parliament of Australia
Manorama Sharma, Retired Professor, NEHU
Dr. Sushmita Sengupta, Associate Professor, NEHU
Prof. K. Chakradhar Rao, Member, Presidium, All India Forum for Right To Education
Perumal Vijayan, Research Associate, University of Saskatchew
Sangeeta Chatterji, Doctoral Candidate, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
Mohd Mushtaq, Assistant Professor, Govt. Degree College, Baramulla, J&K
Hiren Gohain, Retired University Teacher
Nandini Rao, Social Activist, JNU Alumnus
Devyani Borkataki, Activist, Northeast Network
Kiran Shaheen, Director, Media Action Group
Wilfred Dcosta, Convenor, Indian Social Action Forum (INSAF)
Firoz Ahmed, Teacher, Lok Shikshak Manch
Manoj Chahal, Research Scholar, University of Delhi
Manuj Mukherjee, Ph.D. Scholar, Indian Institute of Science
Sanjay Palshikar, Professor, University of Hyderabad
Dr Navneet Sharma, Assistant Professor, Central University of Himachal Pradesh
Bhangya Bhukya, Associate Professor, University of Hyderabad
Abani K Bhuyan, Professor, University of Hyderabad; President of the University of Hyderabad Teachers’ Association
Dr. G. Vijay, Assistant Professor, University of Hyderabad
Sohail Hashmi, Freelance Writer, Filmmaker, JNU Alumnus
Nikhil Kumar, Policy Analyst
Roger Alexander, Independent Journalist, Pink City Press Club
Saeed Haider, Associate Editor, Saudi Gazette
Rajesh, Activist, Lok Shikshak Manch
N.D. Jayaprakash, JNU Alumnus
Anjal Lele, Travel Consultant; former JNU Student
Dr. Vikas Bajpai, Assistant Professor, Centre for Social Medicine and Community Health, Jawaharlal Nehru University
Indira C, Public Health Researcher; Consultant
Rashmi Kumari, Ph. D., Jawaharlal Nehru Univerity
Dr. C. Sadasiva, Associate Professor, Deptt. of Botany, Dyal Singh College, University of Delhi
Sajid, National Vice-President, Campus Front of India; Ph.D. Scholar, JNU
Shehla Rashid Shora, Research Scholar, JNU
Mohit P Gandhi, Ph.D. Scholar, CSMCH, JNU
Vasanthi Gupta, Academician; JNU Alumnus
Apurba K. Baruah, Retired Professor, North Eastern Hill University, Shillong
K. Laxminarayana, Professor, University of Hyderabad
Dayaram Yadav, Former General Secretary
Dr. M. Gangadhar, Chief Editor, Adhyapaka Jwala; Democratic Teachers’ Federation, Telangana
Avinash Chandra Jha, former Associate Professor; former JNU student
Mohan Rao, Professor, JNU
Shashwati Goswami, Research Scholar, CSMCH, JNU
Joby Joseph, Associate Professor, University of Hyderabad
Sumegha, student, JNU
Caroline C. Netto, Ph.D. Scholar, JNU
Ramesh Patnaik, Former General Secretary, JNUSU
Sri Raghunath Joshi, Professor (Retd.)
Thokchom Surjit Singh, Social Activist; All India forum for Right to Education
Ratan Kumar, Ph.D. Scholar, Centre for Historical Studies, JNU
Susmit Isfaq, Student, NLU Assam; Students’ Federation of India
Roobala, Ressearch Scholar, Indian Institute of Science
Himangshu Baruah, student
D N Reddy, Professor of Economics (Retd.), University of Hyderabad
Akshay Pathak, General Secretary, AIRSO
K Venugopal, Chief Editor, Upadhyaya Dharshini
B Sudha, Retird Teacher, TPTF
M. Raghushankerreddy, State President, Democratic Teachers’ Federation; All India Forum for Right to Education
Aviroop Sengupta, Ph.D. Scholar, Centre for Historical Studies, JNU
M. Balakumar, Headmaster; DTF
Arunank, State General Secretary, Democratic Students’ Union, Telangana
V. Raji Reddy, HM, Democratic Teachers’ Federation
Manjari Gupta, Post Doctoral Fellow, HRI
M. Somaiah, Teacher; State Vice-President, DTF
Vijay Kumar, Central Committee Member, CPI(ML) Red Star
Somasekharasarma, Retd. English Lecturer; AIFRTE
Kalyani Menon Sen, JNU Alumnus, (1977 batch)
T. Sobha Rani, Associate Professor, University of Hyderabad
Shephali Frost, Writer, Poet, Musician
Srinivas Reddy A., Teacher, Democratic Teachers’ Federation
Bittu Karthik, Associate Professor, Ashoka University
Shuddhabrata Sengupta, Artist / Writer, Raqs Media Collective, Delhi
Madhu, State Secretary, Democratic Teachers’ Federation
Suraj Beri, Doctoral Candidate, Centre for the Study of Social Systems, JNU
Vijay Shankwe Choudhary, Producer/Director Films and Television, former JNU Student (1972-81 batch)
Shilpa Shital, Research Scholar, IIT Delhi
Partho Sarothi Ray, Assistant Professor, IISER Kolkata
Nupur, Research Scholar, JNU
Susie Tharu, Retired Professor, EFLU
Sarwat Ali, Associate Professor, IASE (Jamia Millia Islamia)
Dyuti, Researcher and Activist
P. S. Mukherjee, Founder Member, Friends of Latin America-India
D. M. Diwakar, Professor, A N Sinha Institute of Social Sciences, Patna, Bihar
Muzaffar Ahmad Dar, Research Scholar, Centre for Historical Studies, JNU
Aishik Gupta, Activist
Aijaz Ahmed, Lecturer, Shinas College of Technology, Ministry of Manpower, Oman
Vandana Mahajan, Independent Development Practitioner, Feminist Movement for Equality, Justice and Non-discrimination
Afzal Hussain, Masters Student, CAAS, JNU
Masood Ahmed Azhar, Research Scholar, JNU; NSUI
Harshad Tayade, Engineering Student, Pune University
Shivam, Student, University of Hyderabad
Dharti Putra, Student, BIT Sindri, Dhanbad, Jharkhand

Noida’s Domestic Workers’ Take on the ‘Madams’ – A Report from Ground Zero: Maya John, Sunita Toppo and Manju Mochhary

This guest post is an investigative report by MAYA JOHN, SUNITA TOPPO and MANJU MOCHHARY, who are associated with Gharelu Kamgar Union and actively involved in organizing domestic workers.

Recently, the otherwise docile workforce of domestic workers – most of whom are migrant labourers from the poorest states in the country – showed remarkable collective zeal against their wealthy employers in Noida (Uttar Pradesh). On the morning of 12th July 2017, a confrontation broke out between wealthy residents in a posh housing society, Mahagun Moderne in Noida Sector 78, and a gathering of agitated domestic workers and their families. The rampant exploitation of domestic workers, and the huge antagonism between their interests and those of their employers was directly exposed with the outbreak of this agitation.

The 12th July incident and subsequent developments have also revealed the sickening nexus between the police, employers, and right-wing politicians who have extended support to the wealthy residents. Within hours, an obvious labour issue, and the struggle of workers against the alleged illegal confinement of a female domestic worker was projected as a communal confrontation. With the accused employers and their sympathizers identifying the protesting workers and the missing domestic worker as ‘Bangladeshis’, the social media exploded with communal diatribe and messages of hate. Conditions for communal discord were consciously sown by Mahagun residents, putting at risk the lives of hundreds of workers living in neighbouring slums.

Continue reading Noida’s Domestic Workers’ Take on the ‘Madams’ – A Report from Ground Zero: Maya John, Sunita Toppo and Manju Mochhary

After #NotinMyName at Jantar Mantar on June 28: Sanjay Kak for NotinMyName, Delhi

Guest Post by Sanjay Kak, for  #Notinmyname / Statement from Not In My Name, Delhi

Last evening’s (June 28th) spirited protest at Jantar Mantar, New Delhi, under the banner of Not In My Name, was an autonomous citizens protest against the recent spate of targeted lynchings of Muslims in India – the most recent of 16 year old Junaid, stabbed to death on 23 June 2017 in Delhi (NCR).
For an audience that was estimated to be 3500 strong, the torrential downpour at a little past 8 pm may have rained out a part of the programme. But something remarkable had already been achieved: the evening had washed away, even if temporarily, an almost overwhelming sense of despondency, of hopelessness, and of fear. 


Since the Not In My Name protest had announced that the platform was not meant for political parties, and their banners and slogans, the stage saw the marked absence of the speeches (and faces) of routine protest meetings at Jantar Mantar. Rhetoric was displaced by feeling, and it was left to the poets and musicians to carry the sharp political messages of the day. On an evening that was often very emotional, the most difficult moments came when a group of young men from Junaid and Pehlu Khan’s extended families (and residents from their respective villages) came on stage and spoke to the audience.

When the call for a protest meeting went out last Sunday we were hoping that a few hundred people would gather to express their outrage at what is happening around us. For the attacks on Muslims are part of a pattern of incidents that targets Dalits, Adivasis, and other disadvantaged and minority groups across the country. In almost all these incidents the possibilities of justice seem remote, as the families of the victims are dragged into procedures they are ill-equipped to handle. Through all these heinous crimes the Government has maintained a silence, a gesture that is being read as the acquiescence of all Indians.

Not In My Name aimed to break that silence. But the scale and spirit of the protest meeting at Jantar Mantar became amplified many times over, as similar gatherings were spontaneously announced all over the country. As word spread through social media, groups in 19 other locations announced Not In My Name protests, and this phenomenal synergy inevitably drew media attention to all the events, and gave the protest a solidarity and scale that was truly unprecedented – there were at least 4 protests in cities abroad too. (And more protests have been announced for later this week…) The protest meeting ran on the shoulders of a group of volunteers who managed to put together everything in less than four days. No funds were received (or solicited) for the expenses from any political party, NGO, or institution. Instead volunteers worked the crowd and our donation boxes received everything – from Rs 10 coins to currency notes of Rs 2000, and everything in between.

Citizens hold placards during a silent protest Not in My Name against the targeted lynching, at Janter Manter in New delhi on wednesday. Photo by Parveen Negi/Mail Today, June 28, 2017

The impact of the Not In My Name protest at Jantar Mantar yesterday only points to the importance of a focused politics to deal with the crisis this country seems to be enveloped by. Less than a day after the protests Prime Minister Modi broke his silence on the matter of lynchings. It could not have been a coincidence: speaking in Ahmedabad he said killing in the name of gau bhakti is unacceptable. But to protect the life of a 16 year old being brutalised in a train needs more than a tweet, and we all wait and watch.

This fight has just begun. In the days to come the exceptional solidarity attracted by the protest in New Delhi will have to become less exceptional, and more everyday.


Sanjay Kak is a filmmaker and writer based in Delhi.

The #NotinMyName protests, which began in a response to a Facebook post uploaded by Delhi filmmaker Saba Dewan, have since taken place in more than twelve cities in India, and also in the UK, USA and Pakistan. More protests, under the #NotinMyName tag, as well as independently of it are being planned by citizens groups, organizations and individuals in many places.

Tomorrow, July 2nd, 2017 will see a sit in at Jantar Mantar from 11 in the morning, at Jantar Mantar, New Delhi called by families, individuals and panchayats from Nuh, Ballabhgarh and Faridabad, they will be joined by students, activists and other individuals.

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A Day Against Kalluri at IIMC, Delhi: Bastar Solidarity Network Delhi Chapter

Guest Post by Bastar Solidarity Network Delhi Chapter

The democratic forces, organizations and the thinking minds of IIMC took part in a spirited protest today against the invitation extended to notorious ex-IG Kalluri by the IIMC administration to take part in a seminar. To start with, since last two days, there were several attempts on the part of the organizers to confuse/conceal Kalluri’s invitation. Immediately after the declaration of the protest, Kalluri’s name was dropped from the poster. There were also threats of counter-mobilisation by the BJP goons. But undeterred, as we reached the gates of IIMC at 11am, the site echoed with slogans of “Killer Kalluri Go Back”!

Continue reading A Day Against Kalluri at IIMC, Delhi: Bastar Solidarity Network Delhi Chapter

Erdogan Gets A Degree from Jamia Millia Islamia and Everyone Else’s Father is in Prison in Istanbul

Everyone else’s father is in prison in Istanbul,
they want to hang everyone else’s son
in the middle of the road, in broad daylight
People there are willing to risk the gallows
so that everyone else’s son won’t be hanged
so that everyone else’s father won’t die
and bring home a loaf of bread and a kite.
People, good people,
Call out from the four corners of the world,
say stop it,
Don’t let the executioner tighten the rope
[ Nazim Hikmet, 1954 ]

Its best to stay as far aways as possible when two mafia dons meet to talk business. Especially when their deep state security detail has a disturbing tendency to shoot first and ask questions after. Today, Delhi’s roads are emptier than usual, even on a Sunday. And I am reading Nazim Hikmet, because a thug is coming to town.

Continue reading Erdogan Gets A Degree from Jamia Millia Islamia and Everyone Else’s Father is in Prison in Istanbul

The Unapologetic Indian Muslim: Sabiha Farhat

Guest Post by SABIHA FARHAT

These are tough times for muslims in India.  But now that I look back and shed my ‘liberal’ prejudices – muslims were never acceptable as ‘who they were’ in Indian society.  I had always blamed my mother for not giving me proper lunch box to carry to school.  But the truth is that even in class 5, no student ate from my tiffin and gradually I started going to the play field in recess rather than enjoying a meal under the big Peepal tree.  After that I took tiffin only when I prepared it myself, that was class 11 & 12.  But even then the girls would hardly eat from my lunch box.  We did sit together but no one touched my food.  Was I the Untouchable?

Continue reading The Unapologetic Indian Muslim: Sabiha Farhat

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?

Reclaiming Punjab University-Student Protests Erupt in Chandigarh: Prerna Trehan

Guest Post by Prerna Trehan

While walking through the lawns between the Library and the Chemistry Department , one is confronted with the sudden and  scary sight of policemen brandishing canes.

One of the policemen says, threateningly : “Go inside, before we start shooting bombs” (of tear gas). Behind him two policemen leap at a bewildered group of boys raining lathis and choicest of abuses.

This scene could be right out of the woeful alleys of Palestine, Syria or even Kashmir. However, the events that it describes  took place yesterday in Panjab University, nestled in India’s first planned city, Nehru’s vision of modernity-Chandigarh.

Continue reading Reclaiming Punjab University-Student Protests Erupt in Chandigarh: Prerna Trehan

Looking ‘Right’, Talking ‘Liberal’ – The Twists and Turns of Makarand Paranjape: Anirban Bhattacharya

Guest Post by ANIRBAN BHATTACHARYA

[This missive to Makarand Paranjape, who is a professor at Jawaharlal Nehru University, comes in response to his recent op-ed piece in the Indian Express where he comments on the events at Ramjas College, Delhi University on the 21st of February and in their wake, in Delhi University, on the 22nd of February]

Mr. Makarand Paranjape. In your analysis of the post-Ramjas fallout in Delhi University in Indian Express on the 4th of March, one can see that you have donned a “liberal” cloak. But there were way too many holes in that cloak to go without a counter and hence this response.

Continue reading Looking ‘Right’, Talking ‘Liberal’ – The Twists and Turns of Makarand Paranjape: Anirban Bhattacharya

Statements of Solidarity for Ramjas and DU: A Collation

Please find below a collation of statements of solidarity received by Kafila over the past fortnight since the shameful incidents of violence by the ABVP occurred on the 21st and 22nd of February 2017. These are from: Ramjas Alumna, Ambedkar University Delhi Faculty Association, O.P Jindal Teachers: Students and Durham University Politics and International Relations Society, U.S.A; and students and faculty at the University of Minnesota, U.S.A.

UMN STANDS WITH DU
University of Minnesota Students and Faculty

The statements are preceded by a short write-up on what Ramjas College has meant to its alumna, by ANUBHAV PRADHAN.

Nostalgia is made of more than just happiness. It is sulphurous too.

To many who spent three or more years of their life in Ramjas College, visuals of violence in and around it on 21 and 22 February 2017 have been a source of deep, personal shock. The footpath and the areas adjoining the college gate were often sites of lingering conversations between friends, offering moments of respite from studies, tensions accruing from impending exams, or relief to those who had just accomplished a hectic ECA festival and were there catching up their breath or exhaling smoke.

The ABVP struck twice, once attacking the college Seminar Room and then coming back the second day to attack students. In the hundredth year of Ramjas’ establishment, a college founded at a time when protest was an active ideal for most Indians, this singular episode of planned, institutional violence against students and teachers is a grim reminder of the brute silencing of interrogation, peaceful protest, dialogue and dissent being normalised across our colleges and universities, and in our society at large. The audacity with which these perpetrators and their ideologues brand entire institutions and diverse communities of students and academics as anti-national—and therefore fit recipients for their brute censure—also gives the lie to the intellectual and affective bankruptcy of a rapidly emergent cultural orientation premised on simplistic binaries of good and bad, right and wrong, national and anti-national. In a society—and nation—whose ideals are peace, dialogue, and inclusion, these attacks on students and teachers point to the deep ideological rot in the perpetrators’ conception of nation, nationality and nationalism.

As an alumnus of Ramjas College, I cherish the right to self-determination and open debate. I feel outraged that the students’ and faculties’ right to decide what discussion to hold and whom to invite for it within college premises was usurped in this manner. It is disturbing that this violence rippled across the campus as it were, with students being followed, identified and harassed in their personal spaces for having asserted their right to listen to discussions on Bastar and for not bowing down to bodily attacks perpetrated through stones and fisticuffs by members of the ABVP and their affiliates.

Most alumni like me are invested in our respective professions, but the foundations of study and work were laid for us by Ramjas’ teachers and the college’s vibrant culture of extra-curricular instruction. This experience has proved fundamental to our engagement with our immediate workspaces, surroundings, power structures, and our nation. Denying current and future students their right to freely and openly debate issues of their choice in fora of their choice is tantamount to denial of a basic academic right. Threatening and manhandling academicians guided by the spirit of enquiry towards generation of dialogue will prove detrimental to the quality of collegiate education in our nation. We collectively issue the following statement of solidarity with Ramjas’ students and teachers in this moment of crisis:

Statement by Ramjas Alumna

Continue reading Statements of Solidarity for Ramjas and DU: A Collation

A Tale of Two and a Half Marches – Two for Azadi and a Half for Ghulami.

[Videos of song by Shehla Rashid and of speeches by Nivedita Menon, Kavita Krishnan, Umar Khalid and Jignesh Mevani, courtesy, Samim Asgor Ali]

February gives way to March and spring returns to Delhi. And what a spring it is. The right wing thugs of the ABVP choose the wrong time to attack, once again. They must really get themselves a better astrologer, or at least a better class of charlatan who can tell them if there ever is a right time to stage their goon show. I suspect there isn’t.

Spring in DU - Fight Back DU
Spring in DU – Fight Back DU

Continue reading A Tale of Two and a Half Marches – Two for Azadi and a Half for Ghulami.

Hard Ways of Lucidity – Thinking About the Crisis in the University: Prasanta Chakravarty

Guest Post by Prasanta Chakravarty

As I see it, university spaces are being assaulted at least from two sides; though it seems as if the two sides are antagonistic to each other, in practice they come dangerously close to each other. How and why is this happening, and what can be done about it?

Prasanta Chakravarty, immediately after being assaulted on February 22nd. Image from the India Today Website.
Prasanta Chakravarty, immediately after being assaulted on February 22nd. Image from the India Today Website.

Continue reading Hard Ways of Lucidity – Thinking About the Crisis in the University: Prasanta Chakravarty

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

ABVP Riots in Delhi University with Police Protection

For the second successive day, goons affiliated to the RSS-BJP backed right wing student mafia gang called ABVP (Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad) pelted stones and violently attacked peaceful assemblies of students and teachers in Delhi University. Journalists who were present were also beaten up. Phones and cameras and filming equipment were destroyed. An attempt was made to strangle a professor with his own scarf. He, and some other students who were injured had to be hospitalized. Luckily, they are shaken, but out of immediate danger. The incidents have been characterized as ‘clashes’ between right wing and left wing student groups by some sections of the media. Nothing can be further from the truth. These were not ‘clashes’. They were straight-forward one sided attacks by a mob intent on violence. A riot is not a clash. Continue reading ABVP Riots in Delhi University with Police Protection

Ex-ABVP Activists Reflect on How the ABVP Orchestrated 9th of February in JNU Last Year: Jatin Goraya and Pradeep Narwal

Guest Post by JATIN GORAYA and PRADEEP NARWAL

ABVP ARE THE FOOT-SOLDIERS OF THIS FASCIST GOVERNMENT WHO ORCHESTRATED THE ATTACK ON JNU POST 9TH FEB LAST YEAR!

APPEAL TO EVERYONE TO REJECT AND ISOLATE THE KILLERS OF ROHITH AND THOSE WHO ORCHESTRATED THE #SHUTDOWNJNU CAMPAIGN!

As JNU is still recovering from the aftershocks of last year sangh parivar’s attack on our university post 9th of February we are again facing an unprecedented attack on our university – its democratic space, progressive admission policy, its inclusive character. The latter has been the heart and soul of JNU which the student movement has built over the last four decades. Last year’s attack was an attack on our right to dissent, to curb our democratic spaces and to implement the fascist Hindutva agenda on our universities. This year, in the name of “academic quality” and “excellence”, by reducing the seat intake & closing admission they want to ensure that none is able to access higher education in JNU.

We were members of ABVP previous to the events of Feb 9 last year, and we subsequently resigned because of our differences with this fascist, casteist, Brahmanical and patriarchal organisation. These differences, as we have earlier said, had been long standing ones. But after the orchestrated attack on JNU, we felt a limit had been crossed and we could no longer associate with ABVP. Continue reading Ex-ABVP Activists Reflect on How the ABVP Orchestrated 9th of February in JNU Last Year: Jatin Goraya and Pradeep Narwal

The Anatomy of a Disappearance: Shehla Rashid

Guest Post by Shehla Rashid. Videos by Haider Saif and Samim Asgor Ali

Students Gathering in a Vigil for Najeeb Ahmed at JNU

 

Think of the person closest to you, and the place that they hold in your daily life, the bittersweet memories that they create each day in your life, the daily fights and the moments of affection. At times, you fight and simply want to go away from one another, seeking a temporary calm from each other’s absence. You resolve never to call him/her again, or to speak to her/him anymore. However, by the time dusk falls, you realise the emptiness of your time without them, and you make a phone call, speaking reservedly, trying not to sound desperate or sappy. You tell them that you are coming home, and ask whether you need them to get anything- as if that were the reason for the phone call. This person could be you sister, your partner, or your best friend. Continue reading The Anatomy of a Disappearance: Shehla Rashid

2 Weeks No #JusticeForNajeeb – A Few Thoughts on Yesterday’s March and the Way Forward: Shehla Rashid

Guest Post by Shehla Rashid.

Video and Photo Inputs from Naushad MK, Samim Asgor Ali and Amit Kumar

[ This post was written shortly after JNU students gathered in front of Vasant Vihar Police Station to articulate their concern and anger at the lax attitude taken so far by the Delhi Police and other concerned authorities in relation to the disappearance of Najeeb Ahmed almost two weeks ago. In this text, (originally uploaded as a note on Facebook and then sent to us to be posted at Kafila) Shehla Rashid, thinks aloud about what has happened so far and looks ahead at the possible way forward for the students of JNU and their supporters to focus on making sure that Najeeb Ahmed, wherever he is, returns safe and sound to the JNU campus. We hope that it will be widely read, and discussed to evolve strategies for the evolving future of the campaign to give justice to Najeeb. Kafila]

Shehla Rashid and Others Being Confronted by Delhi Police at the Vasant Vihar Chakka Jam on Oc. 26, 2016

 

First of all, I’d like to express my gratitude to all the students who joined the Chakka Jam at Vasant Vihar police station, where the ACP refused to even accept the paper with our demands and, instead, ordered a lathi-charge on us. Students marched as one and stayed together till the end, despite all differences, for one goal- justice for Najeeb, and his safe return to campus life. I salute this spirit of JNU students. Having said that, I must say that we need to do more. Students need to come out in even greater numbers, as the attack on us is of immense magnitude.

Continue reading 2 Weeks No #JusticeForNajeeb – A Few Thoughts on Yesterday’s March and the Way Forward: Shehla Rashid

Bring Back Najeeb Ahmed to JNU: A Call to Resist Terror in Universities

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It is now more than a week since Najeeb Ahmed, an MSc (first year) student of Biotechnology at Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi has been reported missing, after an altercation with members of the RSS affiliated ABVP student organization, which reportedly left him injured and severely traumatized.

Continue reading Bring Back Najeeb Ahmed to JNU: A Call to Resist Terror in Universities