Category Archives: Movements

No End to Humiliation of Dalits Even After Death

The attitude of respect and reverence towards fellow men is yet to develop in India.

No End to Humiliation of Dalits

Does anybody still remember the Dalits of Chakwara, a village around 50km from Jaipur in Rajasthan, who had launched a struggle to gain access to the pond in their village? It is more than 18 years since the Dalits, supported by human rights organisations, won that fight for water. Their undertaking had echoes with the historic struggle launched by Dr BR Ambedkar in March 1927 at Chavdar tank at Mahad to assert the equal rights of Dalits to water. It is well known to most people that while animals were allowed to use the water of this tank in present-day Raigad district of the state, the Dalits were not. Anand Teltumbde has described the events of this satyagraha in his book, Mahad: The Making of the First Dalit Revolt, published by Navayana in 2016.

But what happened at Chakwara after the Dalits started using the village pond is hardly known: the upper castes slowly stopped using the water from the pond once the Dalits gained access to it, saying it had become “impure”. Enraged by the assertion of the Dalits and keen to humiliate them for it, they dug up the village sewer and directed the waste water to their own village pond. There is no change in the status quo there.

Around 700km away, in Viramgam near Ahmedabad in Gujarat, a village cemetery used by Dalits was recently flooded with sewer water, a stark reminder that the gap of two decades has not changed the caste scenario in the country. The executioners of this sinister plan in Viramgam were the residents of two housing societies in which the well-off and educated middle classes live. For more than the last six months, the graves of the socially-disadvantaged Vankar, Chamar, Rohit, Dangasia, Shetwa and other communities have been surrounded by dirty water. The district administration did not intervene on behalf of the Dalits despite their repeated complaints. The fact that dignity after death is being denied to marginalised communities did not seem to rouse the administration.

( Read the full text here)

Rest In Power John Lewis

John Lewis ( 21 February 1940 – 17 July 2020)

Legendary Civil Rights leader John Lewis died on 17 th July 2020.

An analyst wrote ”Lewis, a titan of the civil rights movement, died on Friday at the age of 80, severing a vital link with the generation that rose in the 60s to resist the US’s version of racial apartheid. The news was met with a depth of grief normally reserved for former presidents. Lewis transcended party politics and was truly admired and beloved.”

A state trooper beats John Lewis with a club

A state trooper beats John Lewis (kneeling, right) with a club in Selma, Alabama, in 1965. Lewis sustained a fractured skull in the assault. Photograph: unknown/AP

A CNN documentary entitled John Lewis: Good Trouble, quotes him: “I tried to do what was right, fair and just. When I was growing up in rural Alabama, my mother always said, ‘Boy, don’t get in trouble … but I saw those signs that said ‘white’, ‘colored’, and I would say, ‘Why?’

“And she would say again, ‘Don’t get in trouble. You will be beaten. You will go to jail. You may not live. But … the words of Dr King and the actions of Rosa Parks inspired me to get in trouble. And I’ve been getting in trouble ever since. Good trouble. Necessary trouble.”

 

 

Imagining India for Contemporary Politics- What Should the Left Do? : Ravi Sinha

 

(Webinar – Sunday, July 19, 5 pm)

Shakespeare said, what is past is prologue. A simple-minded rationalist may be contented to assume that past is fixed as it has already gone into the making of the present. Nothing can be done to change it. The truth however is that past is being ‘remade’ every day. Imaginations of ancient glories or of humiliating defeats in the distant past are being deployed in contemporary politics all across the world. This phenomenon has been a key element behind the resurgence of rightwing in many countries. Contemporary India is a calamitous example where a perverse variant of mass-democratic politics has been fashioned through the political ideology of Hindutva resulting in serious damage to democracy and to people’s welfare.

Contemporary politics is driven more pressingly to such ideological re-imaginings in the conditions of vigorously competitive electoral democracies. The phenomenon is far more pronounced in countries with a significant minority (religious, racial, linguistic-cultural etc.) that can be portrayed as a historical villain. The majority can, then, be mobilized through the political process of polarisation in which some historical-civilizational-social tectonic plate is deployed in the service of electoral-political objectives. India is a pre-eminent example of this tragic phenomenon.

Invariably, left and progressive forces find themselves handicapped in these circumstances. Attempts to prove that such polarising strategies based on re-imagining the past are malignant turn out to be politically ineffective. A typical response from such forces has been to counter the emotive with the economic and to challenge cultural nationalism with anti-colonial, anti-imperialist nationalism. These strategies have failed miserably. Other social and resistance movements too have attempted partial re-imagining of India’s past from the standpoint of traditionally oppressed communities (Dalit, feminist, native-ist, etc.). While offering some resources to the respective movements, these efforts have failed equally miserably in challenging the Hindutva’s cultural nationalism. The efforts of some of the liberal bourgeois forces, on the other hand, to gain ground by partly imitating the Hindutva forces (variants of soft hindutva) have been no more than a laughing stock. Continue reading Imagining India for Contemporary Politics- What Should the Left Do? : Ravi Sinha

Trajectory of India’s Democracy and Contemporary Challenges : Prof Suhas Palshikar

[Inaugural Lecture of ‘Democracy Dialogues’ Series ( Webinar)
Organised by New Socialist Initiative, 12 th July 2020]

Join us on facebook.com/newsocialistinitiative.nsi for further updates

 

( Prof Suhas Palshikar, Chief Editor, Studies in Indian Politics and Co-director, Lokniti at the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, delivered the inaugural lecture in the ‘Democracy Dialogues’ Series initiated by New Socialist Initiative.

In this lecture he attempted to trace the roots of the current moment of India’s democracy in the overall global journey of democracy, the extra-ordinarily ambitious and yet problematic foundational moment of Indian democracy and the many diversions India’s democracy has taken over time. He argued that unimaginative handling of the extra-ordinary ambition and Statist understanding of the ‘power-democracy’ dialectic formed the basis for easy distortions of democratic practice and that while populism and majoritarianism are the current challenges, they are by no means only special to the present and therefore, even as critique and course-correction of present political crisis is urgently required, a more long-term view of the trajectory of Indian democracy is necessary.

Here follows a detailed summary of his presentation prepared by Dr Sanjay Kumar)

Continue reading Trajectory of India’s Democracy and Contemporary Challenges : Prof Suhas Palshikar

वरवर राव को रिहा करो!

भीमा कोरेगाँव मामले तथा अन्य सभी मामलों में विचाराधीन लेखकों-मानवाधिकारकर्मियों को रिहा करो !

(न्यू सोशलिस्ट इनिशिएटिव, जन संस्कृति मंच, दलित लेखक संघ, प्रगतिशील लेखक संघ, जनवादी लेखक संघ, जन नाट्य मंच, इप्टा, प्रतिरोध का सिनेमा और संगवारी की ओर से जारी साझा  बयान )

State trying to kill Varavara Rao in jail, he needs immediate ...

( Photo Courtesy : New Indian Express)

‘…कब डरता है दुश्मन कवि से ?

जब कवि के गीत अस्त्र बन जाते हैं

वह कै़द कर लेता है कवि को ।

फाँसी पर चढ़ाता है

फाँसी के तख़्ते के एक ओर होती है सरकार

दूसरी ओर अमरता

कवि जीता है अपने गीतों में

और गीत जीता है जनता के हृदयों में।’

–वरवर राव, बेंजामिन मोलेस की याद में, 1985

देश और दुनिया भर में उठी आवाज़ों के बाद अन्ततः 80 वर्षीय कवि वरवर राव को मुंबई के जे जे अस्पताल में शिफ्ट कर दिया गया है। राज्य की असंवेदनशीलता और निर्दयता का इससे बड़ा सबूत क्या होगा कि जिस काम को क़ैदियों के अधिकारों का सम्मान करते हुए राज्य द्वारा खुद ही अंजाम दिया जाना था, उसके लिए लोगों, समूहों को आवाज़ उठानी पड़ी। Continue reading वरवर राव को रिहा करो!

Farewell Kalpana Mehta – Remembering a Feminist Activist

The following is a statement Women against Sexual Violence and State Repression  on the passing away of leading feminist activist Kalpana Mehta. This English version was earlier published in Mainstream Weekly.

Women against Sexual Violence and State Repression (WSS) deeply mourns the passing away of Kalpana Mehta in Indore, Madhya Pradesh. The loss of a fellow traveller and a comrade at a time when we are going through a massive public health crisis and continuous clampdown on the right to dissent through arrests and detention is hard to bear. Kalpana has been with WSS ever since its inception in 2009.

Having done B. Tech in Aeronautical Engineering from IIT, Kanpur she had left for the US to pursue a degree in MBA. She came back to India in 1976, as it happened with many other fellow Indians who returned in those times, when the country was reeling under the clampdown of the National Emergency imposed by the Congress-led government in power at the centre. Within a few years in trade union work, she became part of a vibrant and powerful political current that brought to light women’s oppression and subordination in society and the need to organize as women, which was becoming well nigh impossible in the left and socialist movements of those years. Her life and politics have thus been shaped by the emergence of the autonomous women’s movement in the late 70s and early 80s. Kalpana was a co-founder of the autonomous feminist collective Saheli Women’s Resource Centre that was set up in 1981; she continued to remain at the forefront of the women’s movement ever since. Read the full statement here.

अलविदा कल्‍पना मेहता – एक श्रद्धांजलि

विमन अगेन्स्ट सेक्शूअल वायलेंस एंड स्टेट रिप्रेशन’ (WSS)

की कल्पना मेहता को श्रद्धांजलि

‘विमन अगेन्स्ट सेक्शूअल वायलेंस एंड स्टेट रिप्रेशन’ (WSS) कल्पना मेहता के उनके निवास इंदौर, मध्य प्रदेश में निधन पर गहरा शोक व्यक्त करता है. एक ऐसे समय में जब हम व्यापक पैमाने पर अभूतपूर्व सार्वजनिक स्वास्थ्य संकट से गुजर रहे हैं और जब सत्ता द्वारा असहमति के अधिकार को लगातार बेरहमी से कुचला जा रहा है, हमारे बीच से एक हमसफ़र और कॉमरेड का चले जाना बेहद पीड़ादायक है. 2009 में, WSS की स्थापना के समय से ही कल्पना लगातार इसके साथ जुड़ी रहीं.

Continue reading अलविदा कल्‍पना मेहता – एक श्रद्धांजलि

Working Class Movement and ‘Sudden Death’ of the 1980s – Challenges For Rebuilding the Left II

 

Let us call it ‘sudden death’ football style – even though, strictly speaking, there was no ‘tie’. Yet, even the highly frayed but continued existence of the earlier Nehruvian legacy (our version of the welfare state) had provided a kind of buffer that had kept in place an intricate balance between labour and capital. The Nehruvian state was no ‘socialism’ but it did represent a ‘social contract’ of sorts that had kept the worst caprices of capital in check and provided a certain legitimacy to issues and demands of labour. The balance was always tilted in favour of capital but was a balance nevertheless. This is what some ideologues of the neoliberal dispensation that succeeded it continue calling socialism – for that gave them the legitimacy, in the post-Soviet 1990s, to institute the unbridled rule of corporate capital. In that sense, there was a tie – and neoliberalism was the tie-breaker.

Protest_Photo, Image New Indian Express

The defeat of working class politics in the 1980s is a story that remains to be told – at any rate, properly analyzed. There are of course, layers and layers to that story  and no single article or even a book can do justice to it but it is nevertheless worth looking at some aspects – not all of which may have been apparent to players involved at that time. But that is precisely why it is so important to look back, especially if we are interested in building a movement in the future, avoiding the mistakes of the past.

Continue reading Working Class Movement and ‘Sudden Death’ of the 1980s – Challenges For Rebuilding the Left II

साझी शहादत-साझी विरासत: वसंत राव और रजब अली को याद करना क्यों जरूरी है ?

वसंतराव और रजब अली। साभार-इंडियन एक्सप्रेस

अहमदाबाद के जमालपुर के पास स्थित वसन्त-रजब चौक कितने लोगों ने देखा है? देखा तो कइयों ने होगा, और आज की तारीख में उससे रोज गुजरते भी होंगे, मगर अंगुली पर गिनने लायक लोग मिलेंगे जिन्होंने चौराहे के इस नामकरण का इतिहास जानने की कोशिश की होगी। मुमकिन है गुजरने वाले अधिकतर ने आज के इस इकहरे वक्त़ में- जबकि मनुष्य होने के बजाय उसकी खास सामुदायिक पहचान अहम बनायी जा रही है- इस ‘विचित्र’ नामकरण को लेकर नाक भौं भी सिकोड़े होंगे।

वह जून 1946 का वक़्त था जब आज़ादी करीब थी, मगर साम्प्रदायिक ताकतों की सक्रियता में भी अचानक तेज़ी आ गयी थी और उन्हीं दिनों यह दो युवा साम्प्रदायिक ताकतों से जूझते हुए मारे गए थे। वसंत राव हेगिश्ते का जन्म 1906 में अहमदाबाद के एक मराठी परिवार में हुआ था तो रजब अली लाखानी एक खोजा मुस्लिम परिवार में कराची में पैदा हुए थे (27 जुलाई 1919) और बाद में उनका परिवार अहमदाबाद में बस गया था। हमेशा की तरह उस साल रथयात्रा निकली थी और उसी बहाने समूचे शहर का माहौल तनावपूर्ण हो चला था।

कांग्रेस सेवा दल के कार्यकर्ता रहे इन जिगरी दोस्तों ने अपने ऊपर यह जिम्मा लिया कि वह अपने-अपने समुदायों को समझाएंगे कि वह उन्मादी न बनें, इसी काम में वह जी जान से जुटे थे, छोटी बैठकें कर रहे थे, लोगों को समझा रहे थे। 1 जुलाई को एक खांड नी शेरी के पास एक उग्र भीड़ ने – जो जुनूनी बन चुकी थी – उन्हें उनके रास्ते से हटने को कहा और उनके इन्कार करने पर उन दोनों को वहीं ढेर कर दिया। Continue reading साझी शहादत-साझी विरासत: वसंत राव और रजब अली को याद करना क्यों जरूरी है ?

How Many Times Will India Deny Apartheid?

Darren Sammy has revealed he faced racism in India at a time when the world is battling racism. India needs to join this fight.

Darren Sammy has revealed he faced racism

Darren Sammy, the famous all-rounder from West Indies, is a legend. He has led his country team and is the only captain to have won two T20 World Cups, in 2012 and 2016. His achievements in the arena of cricket are not limited to his country. He played a singular role in reviving Pakistan’s cricket team and preparing it for international matches, which earned him an honorary citizenship.

And thus the revelation that he was subjected to racial taunts by his own teammates, during his tour to India in 2013 and 2014, while he played IPL matches, was a bolt from the blue. His admirers were naturally aghast when Sammy disclosed that his teammates at SunRisers Hyderabad used to address him with a pejorative term and collectively sneer at him.

On some occasions, Sammy said, he too would smile back at his gleeful teammates, for he had innocently believed that it was light-hearted banter, even though directed at him. Sammy was completely oblivious to the fact that they were targeting him with a racist invective and enjoying “jokes” that he could not comprehend at his expense.

No doubt many of those who subjected him to humiliation were big names in Indian cricket. Yet it did not cause any uproar in India when Sammy made the truth known to the world via an Instagram post. The 24/7 news channels, which are forever searching for sensational news, and the cricketing fraternity, were quiet. None came forward to denounce the humiliation of Sammy, nor was there a public apology from the offenders. Only Swara Bhaskar, the actress, who espouses social causes rather fearlessly, demanded an apology from his teammates.

( Read the full text here)

Part III – THE VIRUS, THE MUSLIM AND THE MIGRANT: Rewilding, pirate care and solidarity

THIS IS THE FINAL PART OF A THREE PART POST

India has been effectively under an RSS coup d’etat  since May 2019, after the  extremely dubious “sweeping victory” of the BJP in the Lok Sabha elections. Since then, there has been a concerted and relentless onslaught on democracy from the twin forces of Hindu chaudhrahat and predatory capitalism, an assault accelerated under cover of the lockdown since March 2020.

Part I of this post discussed how the triumphant Hindu supremacist Indian state has been producing Hindu chaudhrahat,  both formally through law, as well as informally (by “stealth”), through the sabotaging of institutions.

Part II discussed the accelerated offensive by state-backed private capital; in all its old forms, of course, including treating human labour as just another resource for it to exploit, like coal or oil; but also in its more recent and dazzling avatar of data capitalism.

The lockdown only made sense if it was used as a breathing space (a sad, unintended pun), to prepare for contact-tracing and infrastructure to deal with the spike in infections that was bound to result upon the lockdown ending. It has instead been used by the current regime as a full blown political emergency. Civil liberties are effectively suspended and large scale arrests of anti-CAA protesters have been carried out. In addition, the mythology of the “Urban Naxal-Jihadi network” has been produced to continue the arrests of  academics, journalists and activists. This deranged script, concocted in RSS HQ, blends the twin projects of Hindu supremacism (“jihadi”) and predatory capital (“urban Maoist”) to effectively turn the lockdown into a lockup for opponents of these projects.

Meanwhile, since the actual pandemic is not the concern of the government, infections and deaths are on the rise, and once the lockdown is lifted we can expect much worse.(There are of course, non-BJP state governments that have done much better, and too much has been written about Kerala as an exemplar for me to add anything here.)

In the midst of the breathless rage and frustration of the moment, the millions of us who still resist both Hindu Rashtra and the depredations of capitalism, are connecting to ideas across the globe that dare to imagine other worlds.

How are we to combine, come together, connect to other stories the virus tells us, find our way to other lanes down which it leads us? How will we find and inhabit  those fissures and chinks in which green things can grow, and solidarities, and compassion and hope. Continue reading Part III – THE VIRUS, THE MUSLIM AND THE MIGRANT: Rewilding, pirate care and solidarity

SAB YAAD RAKHA JAEGA: Nationwide Protest against repression on anti-CAA activists and democratic voices of dissent

WhatsApp Image 2020-06-01 at 15.33.28

Guest Post by PEOPLE UNITED AGAINST REPRESSION ON ANTI CAA PROTESTERS

Over the past two months the Delhi Police has arrested Jamia students Safoora Zargar, Meeran Haider, Asif Iqbal Tanha, JNU students Natasha Narwal and Devangana Kalita along with activists Ishrat Jahan, Khalid Saifi, Gulfisha Fatima, Sharjeel Imam and hundreds of other Muslim youth. Some among them have been booked under the amended UAPA as a means of punishing the widespread protests against the CAA-NRC that emerged across the country in December last year. Most recently AMU students Farhan Zuberi and Ravish Ali Khan have been arrested by the UP police for participating in the anti-CAA protests. It is clear that the spate of arrests are far from over and new names of democratic activists are likely to be added to this already long list. Meanwhile those openly advocating violence against peaceful protesters such as Kapil Mishra, Parvesh Verma and Anurag Thakur have gone scot-free. Continue reading SAB YAAD RAKHA JAEGA: Nationwide Protest against repression on anti-CAA activists and democratic voices of dissent

Coalition Against Fascism in India (CAFI) Stands with Anti-Racist Protests in the USA

As Indians and people of Indian origin in the United States, we stand in solidarity with Black communities and their allies who are protesting this racism, and demanding structural change.

The killings of Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and George Floyd have highlighted the systemic racism against African-Americans that is a continuation of the long history of the criminalization, dehumanization, and oppression of Black lives in the United States. From the economy to the electoral system, this society has been built on the simultaneous exploitation and marginalization of Black people. The COVID pandemic too shows how their lives continue to be the most vulnerable in our society today.

Continue reading Coalition Against Fascism in India (CAFI) Stands with Anti-Racist Protests in the USA

The Ferocious Face of Class War – Rekindling the Revolutionary Imagination

 

Pyramid of Capitalist System, 1911 image from Industrial Worker (paperof Industrial Workers of the World)

Face of Class War in Contemporary India

It is time again to state one thing absolutely clearly. ‘Class struggle’ or ‘class warfare’ were not invented by Karl Marx, for he and his predecessors merely identified and named the beast. It is something that the rich and the powerful always did and continue to do as we speak. Look at the way the Indian lumpenbourgeoisie has bared its fangs, even as the country is reeling under the deadly impact of COVID 19; look at the way it is sharpening its knives, waiting for its opportunity to make a kill – and you will know what class war is all about. Look at them and it will be crystal clear that it is not the hapless migrant worker and the poor – or the peasant who silently commits suicide – who  indulge in this thing called class war, but they who prey on the weak and the dispossessed. They are once again preparing to make good their losses by yoking in workers as slaves, not allowing them to travel safely back to their homes, keeping them hostage to lumpencapital and ready with  their plans to make them work for 12 hours a day. There isn’t even a pretense – barring an Azim Premji here or an Asian Paints there – of recognizing workers as partners or stakeholders in business.

In a sense, ‘lumpencapitalism’ and the ‘lumpenbourgeoisie’ are the general form of Indian capital, pioneered by Dhirubhai Ambani and his Reliance Industries (interested readers can  read The Polyester Prince by Hamish McDonald) and its arrival with Gautam Adani whose recent rise to front ranks is generally understood to be linked to his closeness to the present regime. And in between, we have conglomerates like Sahara India, whose ‘primitive accumulation’ is alleged to have come almost entirely through chit fund theft.

Continue reading The Ferocious Face of Class War – Rekindling the Revolutionary Imagination

निरंकुशता के स्रोत, प्रतिरोध के संसाधन : रवि सिन्हा

Guest Post by Ravi Sinha

राजनीति का आम सहजबोध यह है कि सत्ता की निरंकुशता लोकतंत्र का निषेध है। लोकतंत्र राजनीतिक सत्ता का गठन तो करता है, लेकिन उसे निरंकुश नहीं होने देता। यदि किसी लोकतांत्रिक व्यवस्था के अंतर्गत निरंकुश सत्ता का उद्भव होता है तो उसे लोकतंत्रा की दुर्बलता, उसके विकार या उसमें किसी बाहरी अलोकतांत्रिक शक्ति के हस्तक्षेप के रूप में देखा जाता है। यदि लोकतंत्र का अर्थ यह है कि सत्ता के स्रोत लोक में स्थित हैं तो यह स्वयंसिद्ध है कि लोकतांत्रिक सत्ता निरंकुश नहीं हो सकती।

इसी तरह राजनीति का सहजबोध यह भी है कि सत्ता की निरंकुशता प्रतिरोध को जन्म देती है और प्रतिरोध की जड़ें लोक में स्थित होती हैं। निरंकुशता यदि लोकतंत्र का निषेध है तो यह भी स्वयंसिद्ध है कि लोक या जन ही प्रतिरोध के मूल आधार और उसके प्रमुख संसाधन हैं। यह दूसरी मान्यता पहली के साथ जुड़ी हुई है। यदि पहली मान्यता टिकती है तो दूसरी की सत्यता भी साबित होती है। यदि पहली संदेह के घेरे में आती है तो दूसरी के स्वयंसिद्ध होने पर भी प्रश्न खड़े होते हैं।

और, प्रश्न तो खड़े होते हैं। वास्तविकता की प्रकृति ही ऐसी होती है कि वह मान्यताओं की परवाह नहीं करती – बहुप्रचलित और स्वयंसिद्ध प्रतीत होने वाली मान्यताओं की भी नहीं। दूसरी तरफ़, मान्यताओं की – ख़ास तौर पर बहुप्रचलित मान्यताओं की – बनावट और उनकी ज़मीन ऐसी होती है कि वास्तविकताओं के उलट होने के बावजूद वे चलन में बनी रहती हैं। ऐसी स्थिति में पहले तो यह देखना होता है कि वास्तविकता क्या है और संबंधित मान्यताओं से उसकी संगति बैठती है या नहीं। फिर यह अलग से देखना होता है कि मान्यताएं जब ग़लत होती हैं, तब भी उनके चलते रहने के कारण कहां पर स्थित हैं। एक तरह से यह सहजबोध की जांच-पड़ताल का समय होता है। और कभी-कभी नये सहजबोध के निर्माण का समय भी होता है।

भारत की आज की हक़ीक़त यह तो है ही कि मौजूदा सरकार के अधीन राज्य और राजनीतिक सत्ता निरंकुश हो चले हैं। संवैधानिक, संस्थागत तथा लोकतांत्रिक नियमों, नियंत्रणों और परंपराओं को रौंदा जा रहा है और व्यवस्था तथा समाज, दोनों क्षेत्रों में मनमानी की जा रही है। कश्मीर से कन्याकुमारी तक, असम से गुजरात तक, संसद से और भीमा कोरेगांव से तीस हज़ारी तक और तिहाड़ तक नंगी निरंकुशता के उदाहरण सभी के सामने हैं। लेकिन क्या सभी को यह सब दिखायी दे रहा है? Continue reading निरंकुशता के स्रोत, प्रतिरोध के संसाधन : रवि सिन्हा

The Many Debts We Owe to Lenin

‘The workers’ and peasants’ government… calls upon all the belligerent peoples and their government to start immediate negotiations for a just, democratic peace.

By a just or democratic peace, for which the overwhelming majority of the working class and other working people of all the belligerent countries, exhausted, tormented and racked by the war are craving [we mean] an immediate peace without annexations – that is, without the seizure of foreign lands, without the forcible incorporation of foreign nations and without indemnities.’

The ‘just and democratic peace’ sought by the workers and peasants government never arrived.

It was on 26 th October 1917 when Lenin, the 47 year old leader of this nascent Government, read out the Bolshevik Decree on Peace. This appeal fell on deaf ears.

The many players and participants in the first World War,  the imperial powers fighting for a re-division of the world, which had already claimed millions of lives, refused to put a halt to their killing machines and the war continued for more than a year, adding menacing figures to the tally of the dead as well as the wounded. Students of history tell us that this ‘War to End Wars’ as it was termed then culminated in the deaths of more than nine million combatants and seven million civilians as a direct result of the War and the resulting genocides and related 1918 influenza pandemic causing another 20-50 million deaths worldwide.

Otis Historical Archives, modified, https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Emergency_hospital_during_Influenza_epidemic,_Camp_Funston,_Kansas_-_NCP_1603.jpg, CC 2.0, modified

Looking back one knows that if this decree on peace had been positively responded, few more million deaths in the ongoing war could have been avoided and deaths due to the pandemic of Spanish Flu ( 1918) could have been contained more effectively. Experts can tell you how the trenches of the western front proved ideal for spread of the virus as “[t]renches were flooded much of the time. Blood and bodily remains from people and animals that had been blown to pieces, along with faeces and rotting food, formed the pathways and shelters for troops going to and returning from, the front.”

The World War I which eclipsed all previous wars by its scale of destruction finally came to an end in 1918. Continue reading The Many Debts We Owe to Lenin

National Protest Day on April 25th against state attack on student activists: Young India against CAA-NRC-NPR

Young India against CAA-NPR-NRC calls for  National Protest Day on 25th April, 2020.

Stop the attack on Student Activists During Pandemic!

Drop UAPA Charges!

Raise Your Voice!
Physical Distancing- YES!
Solidarity of Student-Youth- YES!

India Is Starving without Food, Ration and Money in Lockdown but the Govt is Busy in Framing Student Activists Falsely!

People of India are suffering massively due to the lockdown without proper plan by the govt. Millions of poor are starving. Workers and students are stranded in different cities without proper food, ration and money.

Doctors are without gear!
Workers are without food!
Health facility is collapsing! Continue reading National Protest Day on April 25th against state attack on student activists: Young India against CAA-NRC-NPR

Brutalising Labourers, Jailing Dissidents

A medical emergency is no pretext to impose a political emergency.

A medical emergency

How many policemen in civil clothes are required to deliver a mere summons to an editor of a web journal 700-k away in an age of email and WhatsApp? The recent action of the Uttar Pradesh police, where it sent a posse of 7-8 policemen, in civil clothes, in a black SUV with no number plates, to Siddharth Varadarajan’s residence in Delhi to deliver a summons has prompted this question.

Definitely the police did not bother to ponder over how Varadarajan, editor of The Wire, will present himself to the authorities during a lockdown which has brought trains, flights and even private transport to a standstill.

The manner in which the issue has unfolded has caused an international uproar with 3,500 jurists, scholars, actors, artists and writers condemning Uttar Pradesh Police’s actions against The Wire, and saying that a “medical emergency should not serve as the pretext for the imposition of a de facto political emergency.”

How Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath’s government will respond remains to be seen, but the story in The Wire on the Tablighi Jamaat, which also noted that “Indian believers” responded late to the viral epidemic obviously provoked the powers-that-be into action. The episode has brought into sharp focus the priorities of the government during the epidemic, which it is supposedly fighting a “war” against.

( Read the full article here : https://www.newsclick.in/Brutalising-Labourers-Jailing-dissidents)

After Covid-19, We Should All Be Cuba

The pandemic has exposed wealthy states’ neglect of healthcare. A new medical internationalism is needed.

Cuban doctors prepare to leave for Italy to provide medical aid.

Image Courtesy: Malpensa airport website

Rare are those photographs which can be declared iconic right after they are taken, without awaiting the approval of the connoisseurs, critics or people. It is an ordinary-looking photo, of a large team of people, dressed in white robes, disembarking from a plane and being welcomed by someone wearing a white coat too. Take a closer look at the frame and you will note a mood of jubilation among the people who are watching them from the airport’s lounge.

The photo is of Malpensa airport at Milan, an alpha-global city recognised so far as one of the world’s four fashion capitals and the capital of North Italy’s Lombardy region. Today, it has also come to be known as a hotspot of Covid-19 infections, a site where thousands have died of the infection. The picture we are talking about is of 52 doctors and nurses from Cuba who arrived in Italy on invitation from the regional Italian minister of health and welfare, Giulio Gallera.

Italy, ironically, has been party for a long time to the economic sanctions imposed by the United States on this tiny Caribbean nation with a population of around 1 crore (10 million). The sanctions have been declared “illegal” by the United Nations time and again. But the anti-humanitarian attitude of the Italian ruling classes could not stop Cuba from sending its medical team there to combat Covid-19. Media reports tell us that Italy happens to be the sixth country—after Venezuela, Nicaragua, Jamaica, Suriname and Grenada—on the current itinerary of Cuban medical teams flying around to fight the pandemic.

( Read the full article here : https://www.newsclick.in/After-Covid-19-We-Should-All-Be-Cuba)

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)