Category Archives: Movements

Weaponising Idiocy: Milk-Drinking Ganesha to Taali Bajao

Then and now, a conservative Hindutva organisation had a role in spreading rumours.

coronavirus and cow urine

Representational image. | Image Courtesy: Deccan Herald

 

Yad ihasti tad anyatra, yan nehasti na tat kavcit. ‘Whatever is here might be elsewhere, but what is not here could ever be found’.—The Mahabharata, 1.56.33, from Meera Nanda’s The God Market: How Globalisation is Making India More Hindu, Random House 2009.

It was the fag end of the 1st decade of the 21st century when the historian Rink Shenkman wrote his marvellous book, Just how stupid Are We? Facing the Truth about the American Voter. In an interview, he said that Americans are “ill-prepared” to guide the world’s “most powerful” democracy. The book points out the astounding inability of even “two of five voters” to name three branches of the federal government, the fact that half of Americans think that their president can suspend the Constitution, and a large section’s ignorance of the 9/11 attack and the Iraq war that followed.

His concern was the mass of people who could easily, repeatedly and systematically be misled and manipulated by politicians and further “dumb down” American politics.

This “stupidity” was on full display in images of rowdy college crowds hitting California’s beaches during spring break, prompting the governor to close them down. New York governor Andrew Cuomo warned that “young people are not Superman/woman” when it turned out that people, especially the young, are not socially distancing themselves. But only Americans are not to blame. Media tells us that “virus rebels” are displaying their stupidity virtually all over the Western world, prompting crackdowns by authorities.

There’s perhaps no similar study for South Asia, especially India, probing our “stupidity” in this crisis-time, though there’s immense fodder for it.

( Read the full text here : https://www.newsclick.in/Hindutva-Coronavirus-COVID-19-WhatsApp-Fake-News)

Desirable Deaths, Malignant Neglect

Coronavirus reveals that in the capitalist world there is still no such thing as society.

Coronavirus

Bella Ciao! Bella Ciao! A song which traces its origins to the struggles of working women (rice-weeders) in 19th-century Northern Italy, and which later became an anthem of anti-fascist struggles there, recently made a comeback on the streets of Rome.

Well, there was no mass gathering, obviously, but you could hear people’s voices sing not only Bella Ciao from windows and balconies but many other patriotic numbers, some newly-composed.

With the world’s eighth-largest economy under lockdown, people restricted to their homes and fatalities due to novel coronavirus already over 1,400, this collective singing was the Italian people’s way of finding a moment of joy in this time of anxiety. It “lifted their spirits” and became a unique way for them to declare solidarity with each other.

( Read the full story here : https://www.newsclick.in/Coronavirus-Crisis-Capitalist-Society-Public-Funded-Health-System)

Denying Interim Bail To Anand Teltumbde and Gautam Navlakha Is Alarming : MRSD

Guest Post by MRSD ( Mumbai Rises to Save Democracy)

Statement by MRSD on Supreme Court’s rejection of pre-arrest bail plea of Anand Teltumbde and Gautam Navlakha in the Bhima Koregaon violence case

Mumbai Rises to Save Democracy (MRSD) is deeply disappointed with the Supreme Court’s rejection of the plea by Anand Teltumbde and Gautam Navlakha seeking anticipatory bail in the cases registered against them in relation to the violence at Bhima Koregaon on 1st January 2018. Their arrest is imminent in next three weeks. Nine other activists and intellectuals who have been accused in this case and charged with sections of the draconian Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) have been imprisoned since 2018.

The top court’s order to deny interim bail is alarming given that the case against the activists is based on very thin evidence. Moreover, the cyber forensic analysis by credible investigative journalists and technical experts discredit the evidence used by Pune police to incriminate the activists. The analysis reveals that the letters which were allegedly recovered from the hard disk of Rona Wilson, one of the nine activists accused in the case, and used by the police to link the accused to a banned political party are most likely to have been planted in the disk through use of malware which allowed remote access to Wilson’s computer (https://caravanmagazine.in/politics/bhima-koregaon-case-rona-wilson-hard-disk-malware-remote-access). This clearly indicates manipulation of evidence and the fabricated nature of the case.

The government is sparing few chances for truth to emerge in this case. In January 2020, more than a year after the chargesheets were filed by the Pune police, the Union Home ministry got the case suddenly transferred to the National Investigation Agency (NIA) and thus brought the case under its control at a time when the Home department in the newly formed Maha Vikas Aghadi government in Maharashtra had announced a review of the case, setting up of a Special Investigating Team (SIT) and dropping of the false cases against the activists.

While full-blown attempts are being made by the government to incriminate the eleven intellectuals in a fabricated case, the investigation into the role of Hindutva brigade led by Milind Ekbote and Manohar Bhide in carrying out planned organised attacks on Dalits at Bhima Koregaon has come to a standstill. The state government’s failure to set up a SIT shows that the real perpetrators of violence are being shielded from prosecution.

These developments in the case and now the rejection of pre-arrest bail to two of the stalwarts of the democratic rights movement in the country on the grounds of what is not just flimsy but manipulated evidence shows the desperation of the government to repress democratic voices and spread a sense of fear amongst those who oppose the anti-people policies and actions of the Hindutva Fascist regime. MRSD extends its solidarity to the eleven activists who have been relentless defenders of human rights and people’s movements in this country and who now stand wrongly accused in this conspiracy case. We also reiterate our resolve to continue to struggle for their release and for the pursuit of truth about the violence unleashed on the peaceful Dalit-Bahujan masses at Bhima Koregaon.

  • MRSD

Participating Organisations: People’s Union of Civil Liberties (PUCL), Committee for Protection of Democratic Rights (CPDR), National Trade Union Initiative (NTUI), Trade Union Centre of India (TUCI), Student Islamic Organisation (SIO), Ambedkar Periyar Phule Study Circle (APPSC) – IIT Mumbai, Co-ordination Of Science And Technology Institute’s Student Association (COSTISA), LEAFLET, Police Reforms Watch, NCHRO, Bebaak Collective, Forum Against Oppression of Women (FAOW), LABIA- A Queer Feminist LBT Collective, Jagrut Kamgar Manch (JKM), Majlis, Indian Muslims for Secular Democracy (IMSD), Women against Sexual Violence and State repression (WSS), Bharat Bachao Andolan (BBA), Indian Social Action Forum (INSAF), People’s Commission for Shrinking Democratic Spaces (PCSDS), Human Rights Law Network (HRLN), Cause Lawyers Alliance, National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM), Nivara Hakk Suraksha Samiti, Kashtakari Sanghatna – Palghar, Sarvahara Jan Andolan – Raighad, Jagrut Kashtkari Sanghatana, students from various colleges in Mumbai including Homi Bhabha Research Centre, St.Xaviers and Tata Institute of Social Sciences.

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

Gandhi and the Hindutva Right

From Nehru to Patel and Ambedkar, the saffron party has appropriated freedom-fighters or tarnished legacies. Gandhi, however, poses a different problem.

Why BJP’s Subjugation of Gandhi

Death ends all enmity’ (Marnanti Vairani) goes a maxim in Hinduism.

The story also goes that when Ravana was on death bed, Ram had even asked Laxman to go to him and learn something which no other person except a great scholar like him could teach him, declaring that though he has been forced to punish him for his terrible crime, ‘you are no more my enemy’.

It is a different matter that Hindutva supremacists — who are keen ‘to transform Hinduism from a variety of religious practices into a consolidated ethnic identity’ — are believers in the exact opposite.

For them, once the enemy is dead, the enmity flares up without any limits. They have no qualms that their adversary is no more to defend himself/ herself.

It has been more than five and half years that they are in power at the Centre and we have been witness to complete vilification, demonisation and obfuscation of many of their adversaries, all great leaders of the anti-colonial struggle. Of course, few were found to be ‘lucky’ enough that were promptly co-opted/appropriated by them, of course, in a sanitised form.

( Read the full article here : https://www.newsclick.in/BJP-Subjugation-Gandhi-Legacy-Roadblock-Shaheen-Bagh

The Constitution as the ‘Social Contract’ of Modern India

 

 

The  Constitution of India should be seen as a work-in-progress – not because it has been amended ever so often by different governments but because it has been taken over by ‘we, the people’, repeatedly, especially since the 1990s. The ‘authorized’ interpreters of the Constitution and Law are no longer its sole interpreters. The continuous battles over its interpretation in the courts of law are only one way in which meaning is contested. But from the dalits reclaiming it as “Babasaheb’s Constitution” to the pathalgadi movement  of the Jharkhand adivasis and finally as the banner of citizenship movement today, its meaning has been contested time and again in the streets and in villages.

It is customary, in most secular-nationalist and left-wing circles, to invoke the “great values of the national movement”, which is seen as synonymous with the “freedom struggle”, which in turn is reduced to the “anticolonial struggle”. On 15 August 1947, India attained Independence from colonial rule and on 26 January 1950, “we, the people of India” gave to ourselves the Constitution of India. The anticolonial struggle came to an end in August 1947 but that did not mean that all the currents that  comprised the larger “freedom struggle” – the jang-e-azadi – got their freedom. We perhaps need to make a distinction today between the “freedom struggle” (that is still ongoing) and the “anticolonial nationalist” movement.

We need to state emphatically that the “freedom struggle” of different social groups is not – and never was – reducible to the “anticolonial struggle”. There were many different strands and currents that  either functioned at a distance from mainstream nationalism , or even worked in opposition to it.

Continue reading The Constitution as the ‘Social Contract’ of Modern India

The Ongoing Movement Against CAA and the ‘Political’ Question

 

The question that is uppermost on most people’s minds today is what will happen to the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and how long will the protests continue? The home minister Amit Shah declaring that the Act will not be withdrawn and the government will not move an inch, regardless of the  protests, is a direct challenge to the people of India. With  the Supreme Court looking the other way, taking up challenge thrown by Shah can only mean one thing now: if the Act does not go, the regime must. Mass movements have been known to  bring down oppressive regimes, and even in the recent past, we have seen that happen in different parts of the world.

Subsequent developments, however, also indicate that often forces emerge that basically take advantage of the mass movements to hijack them and install equally unpopular regimes – a matter we need to discuss very seriously. I will briefly return to this ‘political question’ later as it is of utmost importance that we grasp the possibilities and dangers inherent in the present moment.

Notice outside the Park Circus protest venue

Continue reading The Ongoing Movement Against CAA and the ‘Political’ Question