Category Archives: Politics

Who is afraid of anuradha bhasin ?

Attacks on the media have become more “sophisticated”, such as stopping advertisements, which adds to the threat of violence.

Anuradha bhasin

In the first week of October came news from Jammu that the government-allotted apartment where Anuradha Bhasin, the executive editor of Kashmir Times has lived for twenty years, had been ransacked. The act was allegedly perpetrated by the relative of a former member of the Legislative Council. The intruders tried not to be photographed in the act by Bhasin, but later she published them and wrote on social media about how her “jewellery, silverware and other valuables” were taken by them in “connivance with the [Jammu and Kashmir] Estates Deptt and some police personnel”. Bhasin had not been served a show-cause notice to vacate the flat.

Soon after the office of her newspaper, located in the Press Enclave area in Srinagar, was also sealed, again without giving its legal owner or editor any reason. “Today, Estates Deptt locked our office without any due process of cancellation & eviction, same way as I was evicted from a flat in Jammu, where my belongings including valuables were handed over to ‘new allottee’,” Bhasin wrote.

One is suddenly reminded of the various storms the oldest and most-circulated newspaper published from Jammu and Kashmir has faced all these years. In 1983, some 200 Hindu right-wing lumpen, armed with batons and sharp weapons, barged into the offices of Kashmir Times in Jammu and attacked the editor at the time, Ved Bhasin. This attack followed a news report published by the then forty-year-old newspaper, which had apparently “hurt” their sentiments. The grand old man of English journalism, as Ved Bhasin was known in Jammu and Kashmir, survived the attack and continued his work with renewed vigour.

(Read the full article here)

India is Hungry: Who is Listening?

Hunger is a matter of structural anomalies. It cannot just be explained away by who holds the reins of power.

Starvation Deaths Continue to Occur in UP

Image Courtesy: Sabrang India

The “good news” is that India now stands at the 94th position on the Global Hunger Report 2020’s ranking of 107 countries. India has improved several notches over its 102nd rank last year, but is still firmly in the category of countries with a “serious” hunger problem. Only a handful of countries are doing worse than India, such as Rwanda (ranked 97), Afghanistan (99), Mozambique (103) and Chad (107).

The “good news” cannot hide the fact that that with an overall score of 27.2 India has performed worse than its neighbours, Pakistan (ranked 88), Bangladesh (75), Nepal (73) and Indonesia (70).

Seen any way, India has spent yet another year failing to tackle its massive chronic hunger problem. According to official figures, more than 14% of the population is undernourished and the child stunting rate is over 37.4%. One supposes this fits in with the strong belief in some quarters that India is a Vishwa Guru—teacher to the world—and can boldly claim to be a superpower in future.

The situation is such that news of starvation deaths is not uncommon despite excess of food grains stored in the godowns of the Food Corporation of India. Thousands of tonnes of these food grains go waste every year for a number of equally unjustifiable reasons.

(Read the full article here)

बेटी बचाओ का नारा देने वाले बलात्कारियों को बचाने में लगे हैं – यौन हिंसा और राजकीय दमन के खिलाफ महिलाएँ

Statement by WOMEN AGAINST SEXUAL VIOLENCE AND STATE REPRESSION on Hathras and other cases in UP

यौन हिंसा और राजकीय दमन के खिलाफ महिलाएँ (WSS)  उत्तर प्रदेश में महिलाओं पर बढ़ रही यौन हिंसा पर चिंता व्यक्त करती है। पिछले दिनों हाथरस और बलरामपुर में दलित लड़कियों के साथ हुए बलात्कार और हाथरस के पूरे मामले में उत्तर प्रदेश पुलिस और प्रशासन की लापरवाही और बलात्कारियों को फायदा पहुंचाने वाली कार्यवाही, जिसमें रातों रात पीड़िता के शव को जलाना भी शामिल है, की कड़े शब्दों में निंदा करते करते हैं। 

हाथरस के जघन्य बलात्कार और हत्या की घटना पर रोष व्यक्त करते हुए WSS का कहना है कि उत्तर प्रदेश में महिलाओं और उसमे भी दलित समुदाय की महिला की कोई सुनवाई नहीं है।

Continue reading बेटी बचाओ का नारा देने वाले बलात्कारियों को बचाने में लगे हैं – यौन हिंसा और राजकीय दमन के खिलाफ महिलाएँ

Unpacking Religious Nationalism

Review of ‘Religious Nationalism – Social Perceptions and Violence : Sectarianism on Political Chessboard‘- Ram Puniyani (Media House 2020)

“Blatant dictatorship – in the form of fascism, communism, or military rule – has disappeared across much of the world. Military coups and other violent seizures of power are rare. Most countries hold regular elections. Democracies still die, but by different means.

Since the end of the Cold War, most democratic breakdowns have been caused not by generals and soldiers but by elected governments themselves.”

(How Democracies Die, Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt)

The contrast had never been so sharper.

Continue reading Unpacking Religious Nationalism

How to see in the dark? An open letter to the women in cinema collective

Dear friends in the WCC

I am writing to you at a time so dark that unless we hold hands and feel the warmth of each others’ palms, we may even lose our sense of reality. This is my way of holding your hand and gaining strength from your presence.

Continue reading How to see in the dark? An open letter to the women in cinema collective

जेपी से अण्णा : आख़िर भ्रष्टाचार विरोधी आंदोलन किस तरह दक्षिणपंथ का रास्ता सुगम करता आया है

हम बारीकी से विश्लेषण करें तो हम पाते हैं कि वर्ष 2014 के बाद भारत में लिबरल जनतंत्र के बरअक्स हिन्दुत्व की जो बहुसंख्यकवादी सियासत हावी होती गयी, उसके कई तत्व इसी आंदोलन /सरगर्मी में मजबूती पाते गए हैं।

अण्णा
वर्ष 2011 के जनलोकपाल आंदोलन के दौरान अण्णा हजारे (फाइल फोटो)। साभार : गूगल

ग्रीक पुराणों में मिनर्वा को ज्ञान, विवेक या कला की देवी समझा जाता है, जिसका वाहन है उल्लू।

उन्नीसवीं सदी के महान आदर्शवादी दार्शनिक हेगेल का ‘फिलॉसाफी आफ राइट’ नामक किताब का चर्चित कथन है, ‘‘मिनर्वा का उल्लू तभी अपने पंख फैलाता है, जब शाम होने को होती है’’; (Only when the dusk starts to fall does the owl of Minerva spread its wings and fly.) – कहने का तात्पर्य दर्शन किसी ऐतिहासिक परिस्थिति को तभी समझ पाने के काबिल होता है, जब वह गुजर गयी होती है।]

अपनी अतीत की ग़लतियों की तहे दिल से आलोचना करना, साफ़गोई के साथ बात करना, यह ऐसा गुण है, जो सियासत में ही नहीं बल्कि सामाजिक जीवन में भी इन दिनों दुर्लभ होता जा रहा है। इसलिए अग्रणी वकील एवं नागरिक अधिकार कार्यकर्ता जनाब प्रशांत भूषण ने अपनी अतीत की ग़लतियों के लिए जब पश्चताप प्रगट किया तो लगा कुछ अपवाद भी मौजूद हैं।

दरअसल इंडिया टुडे से एक साक्षात्कार में उन्होंने ‘इंडिया अगेन्स्ट करप्शन’ आंदोलन जिसका चेहरा बन कर अण्णा हजारे उभरे थे – जिसकी नेतृत्वकारी टीम में खुद प्रशांत शामिल थे – को लेकर एक अनपेक्षित सा बयान दिया। उनका कहना था कि यह आंदोलन ‘संघ-भाजपा’ द्वारा संचालित था। ईमानदारी के साथ उन्होंने यह भी जोड़ा कि उन्हें अगर इस बात का एहसास होता तो वह तुरंत अण्णा आंदोलन से तौबा करते, दूर हट जाते।

विडम्बना ही है इतने बड़े खुलासे के बावजूद छिटपुट प्रतिक्रियाओं के अलावा इसके बारे में मौन ही तारी है या बहुत कमजोर सी सफाई पेश की गयी है।

( Read the full article here)

Sifting Evidence – A review of “Delhi Riots 2020: The Untold Story”: Karwan-e-Mohabbat, Anhad and Muslim Women’s Forum

This review has been prepared by a  voluntary  citizens’  collective of academics and activists, anchored by Karwan-e-Mohabbat, Anhad and Muslim Women’s Forum.

The review is based on a PDF of the  ‘book’,  Delhi Riots 2020: The Untold Story by Monika Arora, Sonali Chitalkar and Prerna Malhotra, which went viral after the original publishers (Bloomsbury India) withdrew.  The PDF was widely circulated on social media by the book’s supporters, who believed its message must be spread far and wide. At the virtual book launch, BJP leader and Chief Guest, Kapil Mishra, tweeted “The book is public now”.

The review, titled Sifting Evidence, given below, is largely in tabular form, which makes for a quick read.

The book Delhi Riots 2020 was originally a fact-finding report by a group called GIA (Group of Intellectuals and Academicians), which was submitted to the Home Ministry on March 11th, 2020.  A version of it was accepted for publication by Bloomsbury India.  BJP leader Kapil Mishra, whose hate speeches allegedly triggered the riots in February 2020, was a guest of honour at the book launch event held on August 22, 2020. On the day of the launch, Bloomsbury India decided to withdraw publication.

The authors claimed their freedom of expression was violated. But the facts are clear – there was no call to ban the Delhi Riots 2020 book. Established and reputable publishers get their reputation because they fact-check, and stay away from publishing material that may amount to libel. Other publishers may not care, and therefore do not achieve that reputation. Continue reading Sifting Evidence – A review of “Delhi Riots 2020: The Untold Story”: Karwan-e-Mohabbat, Anhad and Muslim Women’s Forum

State of the judiciary and reforms required : Prashant Bhushan

Democracy Dialogues Lecture Series Organised by New Socialist Initiative – 3 rd Lecture

Topic: State of the Judiciary and Reforms Required
Speaker: Prashant Bhushan, eminent Supreme Court lawyer and civil rights activist
Date and Time: Sunday, September 20, 2020 at 6 PM IST

Zoom and Facebook Live details in the poster below.

Image may contain: one or more people, text that says 'Democracy Dialogues 3rd Lecture State of the Judiciary and Reforms Required Time: 20 Sep 2020 06:00 PM India Join us on Zoom!! Meeting ID: 848 2963 1643 Passcode: 799603 f fb.com/newsocialistinitiative.nsi Live link: Prashant Bhushan Public Interest Lawyer and Civil Liberty Activist New Socialist Initiative A World for the Workers! A Future for the World'

[New Socialist Initiative Presents Democracy Dialogues – Lecture Series

The idea behind this series – which we call ‘Democracy Dialogues’ – is basically to initiate as well as join in the on-going conversation around this theme in academic as well as activist circles.

The inaugural lecture in the series was delivered by Prof Suhas Palshikar on 12 th July 2020. The theme of Prof Palshikar’s presentation was  TRAJECTORY OF INDIA’S DEMOCRACY AND CONTEMPORARY CHALLENGES, Professor Pratap Bhanu Mehta delivered the second lecture on THE STRUCTURAL CONTRADICTIONS OF INDIAN DEMOCRACY AND THE RISE OF THE BJP on 16 th August 2020 ]

JNU Teachers Association condemns the arrest of Umar Khalid

Statement issued by JNUTA, representing the voices of JNU faculty 

The JNUTA condemns the arrest by the Special Cell of the Delhi Police of former JNU student, Umar Khalid, under the draconian UAPA. This is yet another instance of the never ending witch hunt being conducted by the Delhi Police in the name of inquiring into the February 2020 riots in Delhi, an inquiry with which Umar Khalid had been voluntary cooperating. The JNUTA notes that Umar Khalid had also been one of those specially targeted during the vicious slander campaign unleashed against JNU in February 2016 and had then been charged with ‘sedition’. That smear campaign fuelled by sections of the media had put his life in danger and in 2018 he fortuitously survived a murderous attack against him. Since then he was supposed to be under the ‘protection’ of the Police and yet he is accused of having been part of a ‘conspiracy’ for instigating the violence in North-East Delhi. It is clear, therefore, that his safety is at risk even when he is in custody and not just because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Continue reading JNU Teachers Association condemns the arrest of Umar Khalid

Ethics of Selective Outrage – On Converting Mosques and Museums: Aejaz Ahmad and Irshad Rashid

Guest post by AEJAZ AHMAD and IRSHAD RASHID

What does turning Hagia Sophia into a mosque mean for global political practice? 

In an unusally brazen move Turkey’s top court recently ruled in favour of transforming Hagia Sophia, a museum of global tourist attraction, into a mosque. Originally a cathedral built in pre-Islamic Turkey but converted into a mosque when Ottomans invaded Constantinople in 1453, with the liquidation of the Ottoman Empire, Attaturk transformed it into a museum in 1934 as a secular gesture to herald what is called modern secular Turkey. This was more recently followed by  transforming another historic Chora Church, that went exactly through the same iteration, into yet another mosque.

Continue reading Ethics of Selective Outrage – On Converting Mosques and Museums: Aejaz Ahmad and Irshad Rashid

How to really compensate for injustice committed

It is disheartening when the Constitution is not followed in letter and spirit, but the balm of monetary compensation will not fix the problem.

Dr Kafeel Khan Speech allahabad hc

Someone must have been telling lies about Joseph K, he knew he had done nothing wrong but one morning, he was arrested.

These opening lines of Franz Kafka’s classic novel, The Trial, published just over a century ago, in 1925, still ring true. 

Joseph K, the novel’s protagonist, is cashier at a bank. On his 30th birthday, two unidentified agents arrest him for an unspecified crime. The plot of the novel revolves around his efforts to deduce what the charges against him are, and which never become explicit. Joseph K’s feverish hopes to redeem himself of these unknown charges fail and he is executed at a small quarry outside the city—“like a dog”—two days before his 31st birthday.

Kafka, a major figure of 20th century-literature died of tuberculosis in 1924, when he was barely 40 years old. He had wanted all his manuscripts, including of the unfinished The Trial, destroyed after his death, but close friend and executor of his will, Max Brod, ignored the instruction and the world gained a strong literary indictment of an apathetic and inhuman bureaucracy and how completely it can lack respect for civil rights. 

Kafka’s novel resonates with us today for it is not difficult to spot people who have been wronged by our system. Their endless wait for justice, especially those charged with petty crimes, or those who spend the prime of their lives behind bars on concocted charges, is on open public display. 

( Read the full article here )

Delhi Police inquiry into Delhi violence 2020: Statement by Prof Apoorvanand

Delhi Police continues its motivated “enquiry” into the systematic and planned violence  in NE Delhi in February 2020, framing through fake “disclosure statements” and “confessions”, students, teachers, film makers, activists and other citizens who peacefully protested the unconstitutional CAA.

In this context, reports in the media yesterday stated that Delhi Police have filed a supplementary chargesheet naming, among others, Apoorvanand, Professor of Hindi at Delhi University, well known academic, fellow Kafila collective member and a relentless defender of democracy, which is under severe threat from this regime. 

The following statement has been issued by him in response.

Statement by Prof Apoorvanand

It has been brought to my notice that a supplementary Chargesheet filed in connection with FIR 50/2020 has certain disclosure statements by accused in custody, that mention my name, together with that of Rahul Roy, Umar Khalid, Jayati Ghosh , Sita Ram Yechuri and Yogendra Yadav. These names are mentioned in uncorroborated statements attributed to accused who are in custody, where it is claimed that they provided support in organising the anti- CAA protests. Continue reading Delhi Police inquiry into Delhi violence 2020: Statement by Prof Apoorvanand

राष्ट्रीय शिक्षा नीति 2020 – पिछले तजुर्बों से बेख़बर एक दस्तावेज़ : राजेन्द्र चौधरी

Guest post by RAJINDER CHAUDHARY

राष्ट्रीय शिक्षा नीति 2020 के दो मुख्य भाग हैं, स्कूली शिक्षा और उच्च शिक्षा. हम इन दोनों क्षेत्रों का मूल्यांकन करेंगे. किसी भी नीति की तरह इस शिक्षा नीति में भी कुछ स्वागत योग्य कदम हैं, कुछ कमियाँ हैं, कुछ बातें छूट गई हैं और कुछ खतरनाक पहलू हैं. हम तीनों पक्षों को चिन्हित करने का प्रयास करेंगे. दुर्भाग्य से इस नीति के दो अलग अलग अंग्रेजी प्रारूप सरकारी वेब साइटों पर उपलब्ध हैं. एक 60 पृष्ठों का और एक 66 पृष्ठों का है. दोनों की अंतर्वस्तु में भी महत्वपूर्ण अंतर है पर इन प्रारूपों में तिथि नहीं दी गई, इस लिए यह तय करना संभव नहीं है कि कौन सा नया है और कौन सा पुराना है. इस विमर्श हेतू हमने 66 पन्नों वाले दस्तावेज़ का प्रयोग किया है. 

काफी समय से एकविषयक कालेज जैसे बीएड कालेज, इंजीनियरिंग कालेज या बिना विज्ञान संकाय या केवल विज्ञान संकाय के +2 स्कूल तो चल ही रहे थे पर हाल ही में एक विषयक विश्वविद्यालयों का चलन बढ़ा है. जैसे स्वास्थ्य, खेल, संस्कृत, बागवानी विश्विविद्यालय इत्यादि. ऐसे एकविषयक संस्थानों में छात्रों को समग्र विकास का मौका नहीं मिलता. उनका दृष्टिकोण बहुत सीमित हो जाता है. इस लिए बहुविषयक शिक्षा संस्थान विषयों एवं छात्रों दोनों के समग्र विकास के लिये आवश्यक हैं. इस कमी को नयी शिक्षा नीति में रेखांकित किया है और दूर करने का निर्णय लिया गया है. यह स्वागत योग्य कदम है. स्कूल को छात्रों तक सीमित न रख कर एक ‘सामाजिक चेतना केंद्र’ के तौर पर विकसित करना, कम्पार्टमेंट परीक्षा के साथ स्कूली छात्रों को अंक सुधार हेतु मौका देना, सार्वजानिक एवं स्कूल पुस्तकालयों का विस्तार एवं इन के लिए आवश्यक कर्मचारियों की व्यवस्था, मातृभाषा में शिक्षा को बढ़ावा देने का संकल्प, छात्रों को अपनी रूचि के अनुसार ज़्यादा विविध विषयों में से चुनाव चुनाव का मौका, जैसे कदम स्वागत योग्य हैं. 

Continue reading राष्ट्रीय शिक्षा नीति 2020 – पिछले तजुर्बों से बेख़बर एक दस्तावेज़ : राजेन्द्र चौधरी

Secularism and the Myth of ‘Hindu’ Tolerance

‘Secularism’ has now become a bad word and it is quite fashionable to attack, criticize and ridicule it. Just about anyone, regardless of whether s/he has spent even a minute thinking about it, can attack it. A television channel  recently even decided to have a vote on whether we should ‘have’ secularism or not, I understand, after an utterly ill-informed debate. It is almost as if the blame for everything that is wrong with Indian society can be laid at the door of this monster called ‘Secularism’. Modern Hindu ideologues have of course, mastered this art of blaming every evil practice of Hindu society on to some ‘Other’: From untouchability and sati to child marriage, purdah and the everyday violence of caste oppression –  everything apparently happened because of ‘Islam’ and Christianity’. Later, Marxism and secularism were added to the list. And while we are at it, let us remember that the great Bal Gangadhar Tilak led what was perhaps the first mass nationalist anticolonial mobilization, against raising the  Age of Consent of girls for sexual intercourse from 10 to 12 years! Much of that righteous indignation continues to be the hallmark of the new defensiveness that the 21st century ‘raging Hindu’  exhibits.

For everything wrong in the behaviour of these adult men with walrus moustaches, an explanation exists in some founding childhood trauma for which their adulthood can never be held responsible! ‘Secularism’ now is the name of the insistence that wants to hold the modern Hindu responsible for his acts today, rather than let it remain suspended in a permanent state of childhood. I suspect, the term ‘secularism’ today, in Hindu Right discourse, is no longer about the ‘separation of religion and politics’ or ‘sarva dharma samabhava‘ (equal respect for all religions) and ‘dharma-nirpekshata‘ (neutrality between religions) at all, but the ghost-house where all the pathologies of this traumatized child(hood) are played out.

Continue reading Secularism and the Myth of ‘Hindu’ Tolerance

Statement by concerned citizens against Delhi Police’s conduct of the probe into Delhi riots 2020

DELHI POLICE – WE, THE CITIZENS OF INDIA, OBJECT TO THE MANNER OF THE DELHI RIOTS PROBE

RESTORE PUBLIC FAITH IN YOUR INVESTIGATION

 Stop coercing ‘confessional’ statements to manufacture evidence

Stop falsely implicating people, including Umar Khalid

Stop wrongly invoking UAPA to give the colour of conspiracy against the state

Over 1000 citizens from all walks of life including, filmmaker Aparna Sen; former Culture Secretary culture Jawahar Sircar; Historian Ramchandra Guha; former Chairperson, Delhi Minority Commission Dr. Zafarul-Islam Khan; Former Governor, Margaret Alva; Academics –  Zoya Hasan, Partha Chatterjee, Jayati Ghosh, Poonam Batra, Sucharita Sen; former senior civil servants – Wajahat Habibullah, Madhu Bhaduri, Deb Mukherjee, Amitabha Pande, Sundar Burra, Aditi Mehta; feminists and trans rights activists – Meera Sanghamitra, Vani Subramanian, Chayanika Shah, Hasina Khan;  Journalists – Vidya Subrahmaniam, Geeta Seshu, Manoj Mitta, Anjali Mody, Antara Dev Sen, Priyanka Borpujari; political leaders, Brinda Karat, Annie Raja, Kavita Krishnan; Artists Kiran Sehgal, Shuddabrata Sengupta & Writer Aruna Vasudev; Social activists – Magsasay Awardees Aruna Roy and Sandeep Pandey; Democratic rights activists Jagdeep Chhokar, Henri Tiphane, Teesta Setalvad, John Dayal, Lara Jesani; Former Chief of Naval Staff, Admiral Ramdas; Scientist, Amitabha Basu, along with scores of others – have issued an urgent statement, strongly objecting to the manner in which Delhi Police has been conducting the probe into the riots cases, and calling on them to restore the public’s faith in the investigation.

Citing strong evidence of coerced ‘confessional’ statements and manufactured evidence, the signatories have sought assurances from the Delhi Police Commissionerate that these practices will be stopped, and have urged them to conduct a fair and impartial investigation to book the real culprits of the riots.

We are alarmed by the news that on Sept 1, 2020, Umar Khalid sent a letter to the Delhi Police Commissioner, Shri SN Shrivastava, with shocking evidence of the Delhi Police manufacturing evidence against him, through extorted statements. The letter reveals that a young man was interrogated by the Delhi Police (Special Cell) and a false confession against Umar Khalid, related to Delhi riots, was extracted and videotaped. The young man was threatened that he would be arrested under UAPA if he refused. He submitted to the coercion for he was scared, and yet his conscience allowed him to speak up about what had transpired.

Continue reading Statement by concerned citizens against Delhi Police’s conduct of the probe into Delhi riots 2020

The ‘Ecopolitical’ Imperative and the Janta Parliament

 

Janta Parliament, Environment session – courtesy Let India Breathe

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, goes an old Chinese saying.  In the present context, that single step – and an absolutely essential step – for reclaiming the soul of India, is the coimng together of the social movements, non-party groups and the political parties – and this was accomplished in the six-day Janta Parliament held from 16-21 August as an online event. Organized by Jan Sarokar – a forum of 31 organizations and loose platforms ranging from Left aligned women’s organizations, National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM), National Campaign for Dalit Human Rights (NCDHR) and National Campaign for People’s Right to Information, to loose networks like Not In My Name – the people’s parliament managed to bring together many political parties together as well in the event. As a kind of base paper, Jan Sarokar had prepared a comprehensive 75-page document entitled ‘People’s Policy for Post-COVID 19 Times‘ covering important and urgent policy initiatives on practically every aspect of economic and social life. Attended by representatives of the Congress, the Left parties, the RJD and AAP among others, the people’s parliament session ended with the representatives of the parties present affirming support to the perspectives emerging out the resolutions adopted, which they felt could form the basis for a Common Minimum Programme not only for the political parties but also between parties and social / people’s movements. Continue reading The ‘Ecopolitical’ Imperative and the Janta Parliament

Corporate Social Media in India: Sell Hate, Enjoy Profit

The bias that social media platforms such as Facebook display reflects their own world-view as much as it does the regimes they support.

Corporate Social Media in India

A few gave the appearance of being truly psychopathic individuals. The mass of others were ragged and illiterate peasants easily roused to hatred of the Tutsi. Perhaps the most sinister people I met were the educated political elite, men and women of charm and sophistication who spoke flawless French and who could engage in long philosophical debates about the nature of war and democracy. But they shared one thing in common with the soldiers and the peasants: they were drowning in the blood of their fellow countrymen.

Fergal Kane, a journalist with the BBC, wrote these chilling lines in his book, Season of Blood: A Rwandan Journey, winner of the Orwell prize in 1995. The organised and planned killing in Rwanda, one of the darkest episodes of the 20th century, resulted in the death of eight lakh Tutsi.

It is a strange coincidence that a year and a half before these unfortunate developments, the biggest democracy in the world went through its own cataclysmic moment, when Hindutva supremacist forces demolished a 500-year-old mosque after a long and bloody campaign. Even after the demolition large-scale communal riots broke out all over India, in which thousands died and whose scars are still difficult to heal.

There is at least one thing in common between what Rwanda went through and what India witnessed in 1992: both tragedies demonstrated how the media can prepare and provoke ordinary people into unleashing untold miseries on their neighbours. Continue reading Corporate Social Media in India: Sell Hate, Enjoy Profit

To Sir, With Love – Birthday Greetings for Professor Hany Babu From His Students

Our Professor turned 54 on August 16, while in the custody of NIA. Prof. Hany Babu M.T. from the Department of English, University of Delhi was arrested on July 28 by the NIA in a series of ongoing harassment of academics, and activists who have been vocal against the government and its policies. This act of suppressing dissenting voices in academic spaces by the State threatens the very fabric of the Indian democracy. Prof. Babu has been a strong advocate for social justice, and has worked strenuously in the anti-caste movement. As a professor of linguistics, his classes have always been about demanding an equal space for the varying languages in India and looking at English as an emancipatory language. His teachings have made, and continue to make students critically approach caste supremacy hidden within the rubric of the Indian language structure. He has always highlighted the need for equality amongst language, and language speakers.
Continue reading To Sir, With Love – Birthday Greetings for Professor Hany Babu From His Students

Manufacturing Evidence – How the Police is framing and arresting constitutional rights defenders in India: The Polis Project

Artist Sarita  Pandey

This report is republished from The Polis Project

On the afternoon of 23 February 2020, communal violence broke out in Gokulpuri, a neighborhood in North-East Delhi. From there, it quickly spread to several other areas — including Seelapur, Shivpuri, and Jafrabad — raging on for four days before the situation was finally brought under control. In all, 53 people were murdered, a majority of them Muslim. Hundreds of families, mostly Muslim, were also displaced from their homes and are yet to return as it is still too dangerous. The attacks coincided with Donald Trump’s diplomatic visit to New Delhi on 24 February. This coincidence is one reason why the violence received widespread international media coverage. While large sections of the Indian domestic media have framed the violence as a “communal riot,” it is fairer to describe the events as a state-abetted pogrom against the Muslim community, that was not adequately protected — and, in some cases, was actively attacked — by the Delhi Police.

Time and again the Police have ignored mounting communal tensions, turned a blind eye to the gathering of arms by Hindu nationalist groups, and — once violence is unleashed — abandoned Muslims to their fate. Police complicity in anti-Muslim violence is an old story in India. Since Independence, countless enquiry commissions have indicted the Police for their partisan handling of sectarian conflict. Time and again the Police have ignored mounting communal tensions, turned a blind eye to the gathering of arms by Hindu nationalist groups, and — once violence is unleashed — abandoned Muslims to their fate. This cycle of violence and impunity is one major reason Hindu terror has not been stamped out in India. Yeh andar ki baat hai / police hamaare saath hai, (It’s an internal secret/ the Police are with us) as Hindu mobs chanted during the 2002 Gujarat pogrom. Continue reading Manufacturing Evidence – How the Police is framing and arresting constitutional rights defenders in India: The Polis Project

इलीना सेन – संघर्षों के बीज, संघर्षों के बीच : विमेन अगेन्स्ट सेक्शूअल वायलेंस एंड स्टेट रिपरेशन

A tribute to Ilina Sen by WSS

Ilina and Binayak Sen, photo courtesy NewsLaundry

विमन अगेन्स्ट सेक्शूअल वायलेंस एंड स्टेट रिपरेशन’ (डब्लूएसएस) कोलकत्ता में 9 अगस्त को इलीना सेन के निधन पर अपना गहरा क्षोभ व्यक्त करती है.  69-वर्षीय इलीना एक नारीवादी कार्यकर्ता होने के साथसाथ एक शिक्षक, शोधार्थी और लेखिका भी थीं, जो देश भर के महिला आंदोलन के साथ दिलोजान से जुड़ी थीं. चाहे वह बतौर सामाजिकराजनीतिक कार्यकर्ता के रूप में हो या शिक्षाकर्मी होने के नाते. इलीना के मध्यप्रदेश तथा छत्तीसगढ़ के आंदोलनों एवं अन्य राज्यों के जनआंदोलनों से गहरे जुड़ाव और अपने सक्रिय समर्थन के कारण राज्य, पितृसत्ता और पूंजी के ख़तरों के खिलाफ संघर्षरत महिलाओं और अन्य कमज़ोर तबक़ों को निर्णायक प्रोत्साहन मिला.

अस्सी के दशक के शुरुआती सालों में, इलीना अपने जीवनसाथी बिनायक सेन के साथ आदिवासी क्षेत्र के लोगों और मज़दूर नेता शंकर गुहा नियोगी की अगुवाई में चल रहे आंदोलनों के साथ काम करने के लिए छत्तीसगढ़गईं. यहाँ एक डॉक्टर के रूप में बिनायक सेन ने बच्चों और उनके परिवार के साथ काम किया. आगे चलकर वे छत्तीसगढ़ खदान श्रमिक संघ (सीएमएसएस) के सदस्यों द्वारा निर्मित और संचालित शहीद अस्पताल में काम करने लगे. शुरु में, इलीना राज्य द्वारा प्रोत्साहित उग्र कृषि तकनीक से नष्ट हो रही धान की किस्मों और बीज संरक्षण वाले ‘सस्टेनेबल डेवेलप्मेंट’ के काम में डॉक्टर आर.आर. रिचारिया के साथ जुट गईं. शंकर गुहा नियोगी द्वारा गठित दल्ली राजहरा में शुरू की गई ट्रेड यूनियन में काम करते हुए, इलीना को महिला श्रम और उनके अधिकारों के लिए संगठित करने की अंतर्दृष्टि मिली. स्वायत्त महिला आंदोलनों के सम्मेलनों में वे अक्सर सीएमएसएस का छत्तीसगढ़ी गीत, ‘अनुसूया बाई, लाल सलाम’ गाया करती थीं. Continue reading इलीना सेन – संघर्षों के बीज, संघर्षों के बीच : विमेन अगेन्स्ट सेक्शूअल वायलेंस एंड स्टेट रिपरेशन

The Structural Contradictions of Indian Democracy and the Rise of the BJP : Prof Pratap Bhanu Mehta

[Democracy Dialogues Lecture Series ( Webinar)
Organised by New Socialist Initiative]

Date and Time: Sunday, August 16, 2020, at 6 PM IST (8.30 AM EST in the US)

 

Topic: The Structural Contradictions of Indian Democracy and the rise of the BJP

Abstract:

This talk explores the deep social transformations that have made the dominance of the BJP possible. It will take a longer view of the trajectory of Indian democracy and explore the profound changes in social and economic identities underway that have prepared a propitious ground for the rise of the BJP.

The Speaker: Prof Pratap Bhanu Mehta

Internationally renowned scholar and political scientist Prof Pratap Bhanu Mehta taught at Harvard, at New York University and at JNU. He was the Vice Chancellor of the Ashoka University till recently and served as the President of the premier think tank, Centre for Policy Research. Educated at Oxford and a Ph.D. from Princeton University, Prof Mehta is a columnist at Indian Express, a leading public intellectual and a bold and thoughtful voice for reason and justice. Among many honours and prizes to his credit, he is recipient of the Infosys Prize, the Adisheshiah Prize and the Amartya Sen Prize.

[New Socialist Initiative Presents
Democracy Dialogues – Lecture Series

The idea behind this series – which we call ‘Democracy Dialogues’ – is basically to initiate as well as join in the on-going conversation around this theme in academic as well as activist circles.

We feel that the very idea of democracy which has taken deep roots across the world, has come under scanner for various reasons. At the same time we have been witness to the ascendance of right-wing forces and fascistic demagogues via the same democratic route. There is this apparently anomalous situation in which the spread and deepening of democracy have often led to generating mass support for these reactionary and fascistic forces.

Coming to India, there have been valid concerns about the rise of authoritarian streak among Indians and how it has helped strengthen BJP’s hard right turn. The strong support for democracy here is accompanied by increasing fascination towards majoritarian-authoritarian politics. In fact, we would like to state that a vigorous electoral democracy here has become a vehicle for hindutva-ite counterrevolution.

The inaugural lecture in the series was delivered by Prof Suhas Palshikar on 12 th July 2020. The theme of Prof Palshikar’s presentation was  TRAJECTORY OF INDIA’S DEMOCRACY AND CONTEMPORARY CHALLENGES]