Category Archives: Movements

Rainbow Social Coalition – To What End ?

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USS passe rani hai, iss passe Gandhi!
(“On that side is the Queen, on this is Gandhi)
(https://indianexpress.com/elections/patiala-dharamvira-gandhi-aap-elections-2019-bjp-congress-5726029/)

Nawan Punjab Party’s candidate ex MP Dr Dharamvira Gandhi’s election campaign and the way he projected his appeal as ‘battle against the royals’ had rightly evoked interest in a section of the media as well as pro-people circles.(https://www.newsclick.in/electoral-mobilisation-vehicle-rainbow-social-coalition)

It is of interest to know that in this era of money and muscle power politics the campaign was largely run on support generated by people. What is also notable (-do-) that the campaign was successful in building a social coalition – cutting across various fissures in our society – and could challenge “populist fascism of the Bharatiya Janata Party, patronage-based populism of the Congress, and a fractious identity politics of SAD which cannot see beyond its narrow aims. “. Continue reading Rainbow Social Coalition – To What End ?

Democracy as Majoritarianism

Extract from the Preface of  ‘Hindutva’s Second Coming’

Preface

Democracy as Majoritarianism

We can never forget that everything that Hitler did in Germany was ‘legal,’ and everything the Hungarian freedom fighters did was ‘illegal.’ It was ‘illegal’ to aid and comfort a Jew in Hitler’s Germany, but I am sure that if I lived in Germany during that time I would have comforted my Jewish brothers even though it was illegal… we who engage in nonviolent direct action are not creators of tension. We merely bring to the surface the hidden tension that is already alive.
— Martin Luther King, Jr

What is the signature of democracy?

It is the understanding that minority voices will be allowed to flourish and they will not be bulldozed.
At the apparent level majoritarianism – rule by majority – sounds very similar to democracy but it essentially stands democracy on its head. For real democracy to thrive, it is essential that ideas and principles of secularism are at its core. The idea that there will be a clear separation between state and religion and there won’t be any discrimination on the basis of religion has to be its guiding principle.
Majoritarianism clearly defeats democracy in idea as well as practice.
While democracy’s metamorphosis into majoritarianism is a real danger, under rule of capital – especially its present phase of neoliberalism – another lurking danger is its evolution into what can be called as plutocracy – government by the rich.
As India enters the race for elections to the 17 th Lok Sabha, these are the two broad questions which are staring in everyone’s mind, whether the same dynamic – which has made the last five years as unique in Independent India’s history – will continue or we will witness a rupture.
It is a disturbing scenario when the biggest democracy in the world seems to have taken a ‘[Q]uantum Jump In Wrong Direction Since 2014’ (Amartya Sen) – prompting even the normally reticient community of scientists to ask people to reject the politics which ‘.[d]ivides us, creates fears, and marginalises a large fraction of our society’ and remind them that “[D]iversity is our democracy’s greatest strength; discrimination and non-inclusivity strike at its very foundation.’
Whether there would be further normalisation of majoritianism or ordinary people’s desire to live a more inclusive, egalitarian life and in a less toxic world would ultimately triumph the designs of the hatemongers and secondly, whether free run being given to the crony capitalists and moneybags would be over and ideas of redistribution would make a comeback with vengeance.
What has added a new dimension to this dynamic is the existence of a ‘self proclaimed cultural organisation’ called RSS – whose principles, ideology and activities contravene the very basis of Constitution – which is de facto ruling the country. It is an organisation whose principles “[d]epicting Indian nationalism in terms of the faith of the religious majority – have serious negative social and political implications for sections of the citizen-body and are in violation of the Constitution.” ( http://caravandaily.com/rss-principles-are-in-violation-of-constitution-detrimental-to-india-hamid-ansari/)
It was exactly 42 years back that Indian people defeated the attempts to throttle the democratic experiment by their united struggle, whether they would be we able to have an encore when more secretive, sinister and communal forces are on ascent who are also popular among a significant section of people.
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The central concern of the collection of essays (some of them published earlier and revised for this collection) presented here is this normalisation of majoritarianism which is taking place here. A situation where representation of the biggest religious minority in the outgoing Parliament had been at its lowest since independence and where it is being slowly invisiblised even from public discourse.
Section I tries to situate these developments in India in South Asian context and search for any commonality in the experiences of people and also looks at the societal roots for this fascination of hate filled ideologies and leaders.
Section II deals with the ‘pioneers of the Hindutva Supremacist movement and the new icons they want to present for a ‘New India’ which is supposedly taking shape under their wings. Section III tries to offer tentative suggestions to fight the menace which is trying to overwhelm the Indian republic.
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The book is dedicated to the memory of the legendary Indonesian author Pramoedya Ananta Tur (February 20, 1925 – April 30, 2006) who survived persecution, imprisonment and censorship, whose writings have inspired generations of Indonesian People,
What was remarkable that Pramoedya, a leftist, was jailed not only during the anti-colonial struggle but had to undergo a long phase of detention which started in mid-sixties when Indonesia witnessed a CIA sponsored military coup – which witnessed killings of lakhs of people. He was released from imprisonment in 1979, but remained under house arrest in Jakarta until 1992.
His tetralogy of novels – for which he is best known – ‘Buru Quartet’ was written during the tormenting period of detention only. “Is it possible,” Pramoedya asked later, “to take from a man his right to speak to himself?”

 

Glory to his memory !

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Contents

Dedication
Preface
Section I
1. India: The Road Less Travelled by
2. Time to Militarise Hindus, Hinduise the Nation
3. South Asia: Forward March of Majoritarianism
4. Dear Hitler
Section II
5. Veer of a different Kind
6. Can the Real Shyamaprasad Mukherjee Ever Stand Up?
7. Godse: In Love with the Assasin
8. Deendayal Upadhyay: BJP’s “Gandhi”
9. Many Silences of Mr Mohan Bhagwat
Section III
10. Hindutva’s Second Coming
Appendix IV
Nehru, Ambedkar and Challenge of Majoritarianism

Index
—–
About the author
Subhash Gatade ( born 1957) is a left activist, writer and translator.
He has done M Tech ( Mech Engg 1981) from BHU-IT, Varanasi.
He has authored few books including  Modinama : On Caste, Cows and the Manusmriti ( Leftword, in press), Charvak ke Vaaris ( Authors Pride, Hindi, 2018), Ambedkar ani Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh ( Sugava, Marathi, 2016), Beesavi Sadi Mein Ambedkar ka Sawal ( Dakhal, Hindi, 2014), Godse ki Aulad ( Pharos, Urdu, 2013) , Godse’s Children – Hindutva Terror in India (Pharos,  2011), The Saffron Condition ( Three Essays, 2011)
He also occasionally writes for children. Pahad Se Uncha Aadmi ( NCERT, Hindi, 2010)

 

 

 

 

In Imagination, in Resistance, in Solidarity and Rage – People’s Literary Festival in Kolkata: Tamoghna Halder

Guest post by TAMOGHNA HALDER

“It was the unlikeliest setting for a ‘literature festival’. A run-down auditorium with rickety chairs secured with rope. Noisy ceiling and pedestal fans. Battle scarred tables covered with threadbare cloth. But the first edition of the People’s Lit Fest, held in Kolkata, was designed to be just that – a radically different interpretation of literature and its role in modern India”

These were the opening lines of a report by Scroll.in, on the 1st edition of People’s Literary Festival, 2018. In less than a couple of weeks, the 2nd edition of People’s Literary Festival (henceforth, PLF) will commence, once again at that run-down auditorium with rickety chairs, namely ‘Sukanta Mancha’ in Kolkata. The present article hopes to shed some light on the reasons why those rickety chairs or the noisy fans are related to PLF, but before that, as a member of Bastar Solidarity Network (Kolkata Chapter), I feel compelled to explain why we even organize PLF in the first place.

Continue reading In Imagination, in Resistance, in Solidarity and Rage – People’s Literary Festival in Kolkata: Tamoghna Halder

Gandhi’s Assassination – Much More Than Just a Murder

Mahatma Gandhi’s assassination was a culmination of a vicious campaign launched by Hindu communal groups in post-independent India

Gandhi’s_Assassination_Much_More_Murder

File Photo : Modi – India’s New Mahatma

It is far too early to dismiss the possibility of a future Hindu State in India. However, the possibility does not appear a strong one. The secular state has far more than an even chance of survival in India”

(India as Secular State, 1963).

It was the early sixties when American political scientist Donald Eugene Smith commented about the “possibility of a Hindu state in India”.

Today, even to a layperson, the secular state in India seems to be standing on very weak foundations, and the possibility of a Hindu State is far stronger than it was more than half a century ago, in 1963.

Perhaps, a pertinent expression of this transformation of India is the metamorphosis we witness in the image of Nathuram Godse – the assassin of Mahatma Gandhi — and the growing trivialisation of his most despicable act for which he and his accomplice Narayan Apte were sent to gallows. (November 15, 1949)

No doubt the act itself was the first terrorist act in independent India but was it just that or much, much more.

( Read the full article here : https://www.newsclick.in/gandhis-assassination-was-much-more-just-murder)

Statement on the People’s Resistance against the Citizenship Amendment Bill : New Socialist Initiative

This is a guest post by New Socialist Initiative

New Socialist Initiative stands in solidarity with the people of Assam, Tripura and the other North Eastern states in their heroic struggle against the communally motivated Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB). It was only because of the resistance of the people that the government couldn’t table the Bill for voting in the Rajya Sabha after surreptitiously passing it in the Lok Sabha. This is in fact a victory for all the progressive and democratic forces of the country,who have been fighting to save and expand the secular character of the nation. While the danger still looms large and there is a strong possibility that the government may try to bring back the bill in the upcoming budget session, the mass resistance of the people has demonstrated very clearly that the evil designs of the fascists in power will not go unanswered and that the people will fight back with all their might. Continue reading Statement on the People’s Resistance against the Citizenship Amendment Bill : New Socialist Initiative

हिंदी समाज में हीरा डोम की तलाश – स्मृतिलोप  से हट कर यथार्थ की ओर

( अकार, 51 – हिंदी समाज पर केंद्रित अंक में जल्द ही प्रकाशित)

‘देवताओं, मंदिरों और ऋषियों का यह देश ! इसलिए क्या यहां सबकुछ अमर है ? वर्ण अमर, जाति अमर, अस्पृश्यता अमर ! ..युग के बाद युग आए ! बड़े बड़े चक्रवर्ती आये ! ..दार्शनिक आए ! फिर भी   अस्पृश्यता  , विषमता अमर है ! ..यह सब कैसे हो गया ? किसी भी महाकवि, पंडित, दार्शनिक, सत्ताधारी सन्त की आंखों में यह अमानुषिक व्यवस्था चुभी क्यों नहीं ? ..बुद्धिजीवियों, संतों और सामर्थ्यवानों का यह अंधापन, यह संवेदनशून्यता दुनिया भर में खोजने पर भी नहीं मिलेगी ! इससे एक ही अर्थ निकलता है कि यह व्यवस्था बुद्धिजीवियों, सन्तों और राज करनेवालों को मंजूर थी ! यानी इस व्यवस्था को बनाने और उसे बनाये रखने में बुद्धिजीवियों और शासकों का हाथ है।

– बाबुराव बागुल /17 जनवरी 1930 –  26 मार्च 2008/

जानेमाने मराठी लेखक

1.

वर्ष 2014 में हिन्दी की प्रथम दलित कविता कही जानेवालीे एक कविता ‘अछूत की शिकायत’ 1 के सौ साल पूरे हुए। महावीर प्रसाद द्विवेदी द्वारा सम्पादित ‘सरस्वती’ पत्रिका के सितम्बर माह में प्रकाशित अंक में यह कविता छपी थी।

हीरा डोम द्वारा रचित इस कविता पर बहुत कुछ लिखा गया है, किस तरह यह कविता साहित्य में नयी जमीन तोड़ती है, धर्म, पूंजीवाद, सामाजिक गैरबराबरियों को वैधता प्रदान करती मौजूदा व्यवस्था को प्रश्नांकित करती है, ढेर सारी बातें लिखी गयी हैं। फिलवक्त़ न मैं इसकी तरफ आप का ध्यान दिलाना चाहता हूं, न इस बहस की तरफ कि क्या उसे प्रथम दलित कविता कहा जा सकता है या नहीं ! साहित्य के सुधी पाठक एवं प्रबुद्ध आलोचक इसके बारे में मुकम्मल राय दे सकते हैं। /इतनाही याद रखना जरूरी है कि पत्रिका में छपनेवाली रचनाओं के बारे में संपादक के तौर पर महावीर प्रसाद द्विवेदी काफी सख्त माने जाते थे। उनकी इस सख्ती का अन्दाज़ा इस बात से लगता है कि निराला – जो बाद में महाकवि के तौर पर सम्बोधित किए गए – उनकी चन्द कविताएं भी शुरूआत में उन्होंने लौटा दी थीं। लाजिम है कि हीरा डोम की इस कविता को प्रकाशित करने में भी उन्होंने अपने पैमानों को निश्चित ही ढीला नहीं किया होगा।/

कल्पना की जाए कि सरस्वती के अंक में अगर उपरोक्त कविता छपी नहीं होती तो हीरा डोम नामक वह शख्स ताउम्र लगभग गुमनामी में ही रहते। कोई नहीं जान पाता कि उत्पीड़ित समुदाय में एक ऐसे कवि ने जन्म लिया है, जिसकी रचनाओं में जमाने का दर्द टपकता है। Continue reading हिंदी समाज में हीरा डोम की तलाश – स्मृतिलोप  से हट कर यथार्थ की ओर

50 Years Later, Shadow of Keezhvenmani Continues to Hover Over our Republic

December 25, 1968, termed as ‘Black Thursday’, saw the first mass crime against Dalits in independent India, who were fighting for respectable wages under the leadership of the Communist Party.

50 Years Later, the Shadow Keezhvenmani Continues to Hover Over our Republic

Image for representational use only; Image Courtesy : Socialist India

P Srinivasan, a veteran village functionary who cremates the dead had, in an interview done few years ago, described the darkening early morning on December 26, 1968, when the bodies began arriving from Keezhvenmani, a non-descript village in Thanjavur district of Tamil Nadu.

The village functionary, called Vettiyan, who is nearing 60 now, still remembered the number: “There were 42 corpses in all, horribly burnt and mangled. The stench was awful,” Pointing towards the plot of land where they were cremated, he said “All of them were Dalits, burnt to death in a caste clash. I cremated them on these very grounds.”

Srinivasan, then 23-year-old, shared vivid details of that ‘Black Thursday’ in 1968, a day that has remained etched in his mind.

December 25, 2018, completes 50 years of that ‘Black Thursday in 1968’, which is remembered as the first massacre of Dalits in independent India. The Dalits were martyred while fighting for respectable wages under the leadership of the Communist Party. All of these landless peasants had started to organise themselves into a campaign for higher wages following the increase in agricultural production in the area.

(https://www.newsclick.in/50-years-later-shadow-keezhvenmani-continues-hover-over-our-republic)