Category Archives: Movements

Scrap the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016, It is Unconstitutional, Illegal and Immoral : 70 People’s Organizations of Assam

Guest Post by 70 People’s Organizations of Assam 

Image result for citizenship (amendment) bill 2016

( Photo Courtesy : AISA)

Protestors from various democratic organisations in Assam have began an indefinite dharna in Jantar Mantar from today 9 Dec. This includes KMSS and peasant leader Akhil Gogoi, AJYCP, Tai Ahom Satra Sontha, Asom Moran Sabha, All Asam Motok Sonmilon, All Asam Minority Students Union, and 70 other organizations of indigenous population of Assam, who are part of an umbrella platform against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2016. This Bill seeks to change the very definition of a Citizen of the country and include a religious dimension to it as part of the RSS’s ideological project. The effects of this Bill can be seen in starkly in Assam – which has been to fuel ethnic and religious anxieties and conflict. Protests against it has also taken unprecedented forms in recent months with participation of millions of indigenous people, including Assam bandhs, and so on.
Find below the text of the Leaflet issued by them. Please forward and Join in the Solidarity.
The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 which was introduced in the Lok Sabha on 15thJuly, 2016 [Bill No. 172 of 2016] has already caused deep anguish in the minds of the democratic India. A Joint Parliamentary Committee has also been constituted to examine this Bill. Despite wide-spread protests in Assam against the Bill, the BJP aggressively aims to pass the Bill in the coming Winter Session of the Parliament which will help to make their dream of the Hindurashtra a reality. 
 
*Why the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 is unconstitutional, illegal, unethical and immoral?*
 
The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 seeks to make fundamental alterations in the citizenship and immigration norms of India on the basis of religion. The Bill proposes to exclude ‘minority communities, namely, Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan’ – from the scope of the definition of being ‘illegal migrant’. The Bill further reduces the requirement of 11 years to acquire “citizenship by naturalization” to only six years of ordinary residence for such immigrants. The ‘Statement of objects and reasons’ of the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 also makes it clear that the Bill intends to declare ‘illegal migrants’ as Indian citizens. Several Indian government notifications and orders have already enabled persons of these communities who had entered India till 31st December, 2014 to get shelter without valid documents. 
 
The Bill will change the philosophical premise on which Indian citizenship is granted. The principle on which Indian citizenship is granted is jus soli where citizenship of a person is determined by the place where a person is born. However,if the Bill passes, it will make a shift from jus soli to jus sanguinis, where a person acquires citizenship on the principle of blood, which our Constitution-makers consciously avoided. India’s Constitutional experts have opined that the Bill is unprecedented as never before has religion been specifically identified in the citizenship law as the ground for distinguishing between citizens and non-citizens. The ideas spelt out in the proposed Bill are against the ethos and spirit of the Indian Constitution. It will violate the spirit of the Preamble of the Indian Constitution and is also against the Articles 14, 15, 25 and 26 of the Indian Constitution. 
 
An extra-ordinary and widespread peoples’ movement has now swept across Assam and the entire North-East India against the Bill. We, the people of Assam feel that the Bill will change Assam’s political, economic and social fabric forever. The Bill will violate the clause 6 (A) of the Citizenship Act, 1955, a special provision for Assam, which is a non-obstante clause. If the Bill passes, it will make the Assam Accord null and void. It will be a violation of the national promise. The people of Assam are afraid that the Bill will open ways to creating further insecurity and pressures in a region already over-burdened with large-scale demographic changes due to illegal migration. It will create religious basis for it, and fuel fresh rounds of ethnic and religious conflict.
 
*We, an umbrella platform of 70 ‘Jatiya’ (national) organizations of Assam, are on a hunger strike for an indefinite period in Delhi from 9th December, 2018 demanding the immediate scrapping of the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 for the sake of the Indian Constitution, and its moral, legal and ethical values, and to protect Assam and her inhabitants from another long spell of social and political strife.*
 
*The Government of India plans to pass the Bill in this Winter Session of the Parliament. We appeal all political parties, organizations and individuals of India to be united to oppose this unconstitutional Bill. We sincerely believe that you will extend your support to us, and oppose the Bill to save our Constitution and democracy.*
 
contact: secretarykmss@gmail.com, 8638084494, 8826219749

 

 

 

 

 

The Kisan Charter – ‘Farmers are not just a residue from our past but integral to the future of India and the world’

Kisan Mukti March in Delhi, image courtesy New Indian Express
Till just the other day, they were committing suicide, while some of them were demonstrating in Jantar Mantar, Delhi, humiliating themselves by disrobing and eating rats, trying in vain to draw the attention of the political establishment to their plight.  And to pour salt on their wounds, BJP leaders were saying that committing suicide had become a fashion among farmers! Today they are out on the streets, demanding, among other things, that their own debts be written off, not of the powerful and predatory capitalists. (See the Charter of the All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee below). This is, in all probability, the sign of a decisive shift, for today the charter relseased by the Coordination Committee declares loud and clear that
Farmers are not just a residue from our past; farmers, agriculture and village India are integral to the future of India and the world.

Continue reading The Kisan Charter – ‘Farmers are not just a residue from our past but integral to the future of India and the world’

Statement of Jadavpur University Alumni Against University Decision to Scrap Entrance Examinations

Following is a statement of Jadavpur University alumni on the current controversy around the scrapping of the entrance examination by the university authorities. 

There is also a Change.org petition that has been put up for those wanting to sign. Over 5075 people have signed the petition at last count.

Thos who who wish to sign in solidarity with Jadavpur University teachers, students and staff can do so here.

We, the alumni of Jadavpur University, unequivocally condemn the decision of the authorities to not conduct entrance examinations for admission to the university’s Bachelor of Arts programme.

Several departments of the Jadavpur Arts Faculty annually conduct their own entrance examinations. For the last forty years, teachers have carefully prepared question papers and rigorously evaluated the answers in order to admit the candidates that they deem fit. The tradition of the entrance examination, in which thousands of students participate every year, has ensured that the Faculty of Arts continues its legacy of academic excellence. No weightage is given to Board examination marks because the Boards’ prescribed methods of arts education and evaluation simply do not match those of tertiary education in the humanities. The entrance examinations test students for their interest in literature, history, philosophy and arts, their ability to think independently about texts, and their commitment to understanding the world around them using the skills of reasoning and speculation, the theoretical and methodological capital furnished by the humanities.

The entrance examination has enabled these departments to gain talented students year after year. Many of us would have never made it to the top-ranked Arts departments in the country had we been judged solely on the basis of our marks in school-leaving examinations. Admissions based on Board exam scores would have never enabled students from varied cultural, class and economic backgrounds to be trained in the humanities by the best minds in the country. The rich and diverse professional accomplishments of Jadavpur University alumni – in art, academia, film, entrepreneurship, publishing, writing, advertising and many other fields – constitute a further testament to the success of these departments in scouting and honing talent. First-person accounts of how the erstwhile admissions process created equality of opportunity and access for students from across a range of social and educational backgrounds have poured in from Jadavpur alumni since yesterday (3/7/2018). (To read personal testimonials and opinion pieces from faculty, alumni, staff and current students regarding the significance of the admission process, visit https://juforadmissiontest.wordpress.com/)

The admission test is a time-tested process which has ensured academic excellence in the Faculty of Arts and brought glory to the university. To tamper with this process is to threaten the very core of the humanities – to attack free thinking, liberty, and equality of opportunity. It directly undermines the dreams and hopes of the 17,000-odd students who have applied to Jadavpur University this year. Among these 17,000, there must be brilliant young minds that couldn’t obtain 90% or more in the Board examinations. Their merit cannot be reliably boxed into multiple-choice questions. There must be, in those 17,000, young people who do not seek conventional careers, or if they do, wish to combine them with independent thinking, exploring and lifelong learning.

To stop the admission test is to kill the dreams of anyone who does not participate in the mad rat race of public examinations. It is an attack on the community of scholars, researchers, teachers, alumni, students, and staff who have carefully built up the university and its reputation over the years. To stop the admission test is to tear into the very fabric of the university – its tradition and its history. We must recall that Jadavpur University was set up as an alternative to the education imparted by the erstwhile rulers of India, the British. It has always been home to those who dare to defy norms.

The larger implications of this administrative decision concern the scope and function of higher education in this country. Do we, as a nation, wish to create a more homogenised and technocratic culture that rewards learning by rote, or do we wish to invest in greater autonomy for centres of excellence? Difference and dissent are what all democracies should aspire to; they are the touchstones of any free and open society, and any administration that encourages these tendencies signals its confidence in itself and hope for the future. What we are seeing here is, accidentally or not, congruent with a larger attempt to fundamentally redefine the idea of higher education, to increase administrative interference in universities large and small, more and less prominent (similar conflicts are playing out in JNU, to cite just one example) and to condemn generations of young people to the backwaters of real learning, thought and creativity.

As concerned alumni, we strongly condemn the decision of the authorities to take away independent admission tests from the Faculty of Arts. We demand an immediate revocation of this order, which irrationally, pointlessly, and appallingly undertakes to disrupt a fair and successful admission process. This disruption will impact the futures of countless students, and reduce the entry-point of tertiary education in the humanities to a lottery.

We stand in solidarity with the protesting teachers, students and staff of Jadavpur University. Continue reading Statement of Jadavpur University Alumni Against University Decision to Scrap Entrance Examinations

Citizens’ Solidarity with Voices of Democracy – Against the Arrest of Five HR Activists

[This is a statement of solidarity endorsed and signed by over 200 intellectuals, artists, academicians, lawyers, journalists, and students in support of the five arrested in connection with Bhima-Koregaon case. In the 43rd year after Emergency was declared in this country, this statement was issued on June 25th 2018 condemning the arrest of such voices of democracy and demanding their immediate and unconditional release.]

We condemn the arrest of five human rights activists, professors and lawyers in connection with the Bhima-Koregaon clashes early this year. The alarming arrest of Advocate and General Secretary of Indian Association of Peoples’ Lawyers (IAPL) Surendra Gadling, Committee for the Release of Political Prisoners (CRPP) Public Relations Secretary Rona Wilson, Head of English Department Professor Shoma Sen of Nagpur University and member of Women against Sexual Violence and State Repression (WSS), cultural activist and founder of Republican Panthers Jaatiya Antachi Chalwal Sudhir Dhawale and anti-displacement activist and Prime Ministers Rural Development Fellow (PMRDF) Mahesh Raut is a clear manifestation of state terror to crush the voices of dissent in this country.

The intemperate use of sections of the IPC and Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) on all five reveals legal over-reach and exposes the desperation to foist extraordinary and excessive charges on all five to ensure they remain in the clutches of the Fadnavis-Maharashtra government. All the arrested have consistently worked for the assertion of oppressed and marginalised communities against majoritarian forces, spoken out against Brahmanical patriarchy, upheld peoples’ rights to land, life and dignity, and have strived for the release of political prisoners.

Continue reading Citizens’ Solidarity with Voices of Democracy – Against the Arrest of Five HR Activists

Civil Disobedience under Democracy: The Case of Boycott of Centralised Compulsory Attendance in JNU: Tejal Khanna

Guest post by TEJAL KHANNA

It is often advised that civil disobedience in the form of breaking a law must not be practiced under a democracy. It is because democracy by giving the space for open discussion prevents a situation wherein people are compelled to think of civil disobedience. Moreover, if citizens develop faith in civil disobedience then that only undermines the rule of law. Such an act doesn’t strengthen democracy but rather helps in diminishing its ethos. People must be discouraged to break laws because in a democracy, it is they who elect their representatives through free and fair elections. These representatives then make laws to which open disobedience must not be practiced. Citizens can also vote for change of leadership in the subsequent election cycle, if they feel their representatives have been incompetent. However, while these provisions fulfil the conditions of a well functioning procedural democracy, what recourse do citizens have, when their representatives don’t act in the interest of the governed continuously but function in an autocratic manner? What if laws are made without following the spirit of democracy? Does that really result in making a substantive democracy?

Continue reading Civil Disobedience under Democracy: The Case of Boycott of Centralised Compulsory Attendance in JNU: Tejal Khanna

The Crisis in JNU – Calling out the Administration : Parnal Chirmuley

Guest Post by Parnal Chirmuley

This is the complete version of the edited text published as “Learning Without Regimentation: On Compulsory Attendance” published in The Hindu on February 19, 2018

It may, at first glance, seem odd that students of the Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, are pouring out in the thousands in angry protest against the administration’s move to enforce compuslory attendance. A leading national daily even misrepresents the boycott of this move by students and faculty as a struggle for the ‘right to not attend classes’, suggesting that they are angry over a triviality, which it is not. It is yet another assault by the present University admnistration against proven academic practices that choose not to infantilise students, and rely more on active learning and participation than on mere physical presence. It has been one among other important practices that has set this university apart. The nuances, therefore, of the anger among the students and faculty of JNU need to be fleshed out.

Continue reading The Crisis in JNU – Calling out the Administration : Parnal Chirmuley

The Festering Sore of the Caste-Wall at Vadayambady: T T Sreekumar

T T Sreekumar, an important commentator on contemporary politics in Kerala — a public intellectual who now qualifies to be an irritant in the eyes of the Kerala police, now that he has openly declared his allegiance to the dalit people fighting injustice and Vadayambady and inaugurated a protest-event there — writes about the issue and its historical origins:

When I visited Vadayambady the other day to express my solidarity with the cause of the agitation, what I witnessed there was an atmosphere of utmost fear and police terror. A big task force of police was stationed at the location. The team that included the special branch officers, had created a situation of terror at the peaceful site. Activists mentioned that a particular police officer continuously hurled abuses, including caste abuses, at the protesters that included Dalit women and children. When the protest began to draw national attention, the ruling dispensation of CPIM that had hitherto remained unconcerned has started to take up some damage control measures. However, when they finally arrived at the site of the agitation almost after a year since the agitation began, the CPIM leaders allegedly refused to address the caste question involved. Dalit activists, including women activists, surrounded them and raised several objections to this attitude pointing to their sheer hypocrisy and lack of integrity.

Read more at:

https://countercurrents.org/2018/02/02/fighting-peripheralization-dalit-movement-hindu-caste-wall-kerala/