Category Archives: Politics

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

Colours of Trolls and Harassment :Vatya Raina

Guest Post by Vatya Raina

The fight for half the Earth and half the sky is never at rest around the globe. Women of the world are constantly fighting their oppressors in different colours. The debate around #BoisLockerRoom stories on Instagram and the trolls concerned about the marital status of a pregnant woman in jail, for practising her right to protest are of similar nature.

In 2017, The Jawaharlal Nehru University’s administration under the command of Vice-Chancellor M Jagadesh Kumar arbitarily dismantled the GSCASH (Gender Sensitization Committee Against Sexual Harassment). At the same time, women of Banaras Hindu University (BHU) were leading the movement against sexual harassment.

Today, when a pregnant student activist is fighting for her rights inside the jail, some women are continuing to resist and expose a group of young boys, by revealing the screenshots of an Instagram chat screen, where the participants of the group named ‘Bois Locker Room’ shared some non-consensual pictures of women as well as underage girls. After the screenshots went viral, these boys expressed their anger by suggesting gang-rape of all the women who shared it. On the other hand, Safoora Zargar, a research scholar of Jamia Millia Islamia, who was associated with the Jamia Coordination Committee (JCC), and was part of the anti-Citizenship Amendment Act protests organised by university students in December and January has been charged under Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) and is send behind the bars. She has been arrested for allegedly leading the anti-CAA protest at Jaffrabad metro station in February.  Turning a blind eye to the medical condition of the student, the trolls are busy assassinating her character. Continue reading Colours of Trolls and Harassment :Vatya Raina

Operation Eklavya in Action at Premier Institutes

India is neglecting caste-based discrimination in higher educational institutions at its own peril.

AIIMS Caste Discrimination

It was exactly 13 years back that the Thorat Committee, constituted in September 2006 to enquire into allegations of differential treatment of Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe students at the premier medical institute, AIIMS—was released.

The first of its kind in independent India, this three-member committee led by then chairman of the University Grants Commission, Sukhdeo Thorat, had looked deeply into the many shades of discrimination faced by students of non-elite castes in the institute.

What it discovered after talking to students and faculty was, to say the least, shocking. Some 72% of SC/ST students mentioned facing some discrimination during the teaching sessions. Second, caste-based discrimination was prevalent in the hostels, for instance around 88% students reported experiencing of social isolation in various forms. The committee’s report also outlined the discrimination faced by SC/ST professors.

This context frames the alleged suicide attempt of a female doctor a fortnight ago in the same institute. The doctor, who worked at the Dental Research Centre of AIIMS, was allegedly facing sexual harassment and caste discrimination. This is another reminder that there has not been a qualitative change in the institute in the long years since the Thorat Committee report.

( )Read the full article here)

Beyond the ‘Employment’ Paradigm and Life After Capitalism – Manifesto of Hope IV

 

[This is the final instalment of the series on ‘Life After Capitalism – Manifesto of Hope’. Earlier parts can be accessed Part I here, Part II here and Part III here.]

Democratizing access to resources, Image courtesy AWID, created by Ana Abelenda

The Employment Paradigm

In this final instalment of the series, I want to discuss the vexed question of employment and what can be called the ’employment mindset’.  The mindset has dominated politics and the discipline of economics for the last century and a half for sure.  Before that youthful capitalism simply put people uprooted from their habitats and traditional occupations (the artisans and peasants) into ‘poor houses’ and enacted the most vicious laws to force the dispossessed poor work for it. Marxists give this violent pillage the scientific- sounding name of ‘primitive accumulation’ (or primary accumulation). ‘Scientific’ because it was seen by Marx as the ‘historical process of the separation of producer from “his” means of production’ – as if it was an objective process that was in some sense inevitable. Marx’s chapter on ‘primitive accumulation’ in Capital Vol I, certainly shows that he was revolted by the plunder and robbery that this phenomenon entailed but in a manner of speaking, by giving it an aura of historical inevitability, he could displace the solution to some future. There is also no doubt that the sections of Capital where Marx deals with the enactment of Poor Laws in Britain are full of passion and anger at what capitalism was doing – but then, what can you do with a process that is historically inevitable? Remember too that it was the same logic of ‘objectivity’ of ‘historical inevitability’ that was used to justify colonialism as the ‘unconscious tool of history’. The British Marxist historian, E.P. Thompson wrote of precisely these populations that perished in ‘the storm of industrialization’. He was so moved by their predicament that he wanted to ‘rescue them from the enormous condescension of posterity’. Yet, Thompson believed, like a good Marxist, that the artisan or the handloom weaver that he was writing about were ‘obsolete’ (Thompson’s term). Thus, he wrote, Continue reading Beyond the ‘Employment’ Paradigm and Life After Capitalism – Manifesto of Hope IV

Public Statement on Alternate Cures

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 epidemic, several statements have been propagated about “immunity boosting” substances such as mustard oil, hydroxychloroquine and tea; alternative remedies claiming to provide either immunity or cure; and remedial effects of cow urine or even taweez. Some of these assertions were also supported by a few government functionaries at the centre and in various states. We, the undersigned, wish to put the following scientific facts in the public domain.

–> As of now, no scientific studies show that any substance boosts the immune system specifically against COVID-19, be it modern medicines like hydroxychloroquine or homeopathic solutions like Arsenicum Album D30 or Ayurvedic preparations.

–> Scientific evidence for the efficacy of any of these substances can only be obtained by rigorous testing through randomized clinical trials with COVID-19 patients, and additional laboratory analyses. Anecdotes of cure or temporary relief from symptoms or usefulness against similar diseases are not scientific proof of efficacy against COVID-19.

–> Specific immunity against a bacterium or a virus can only arise in two ways. Either we were infected and recovered from the illness, or we are vaccinated; in either case we develop antibodies that can target the specific virus or bacterium.

Continue reading Public Statement on Alternate Cures

Why Activists Want Prisons Decongested

The Supreme Court also wants to reduce the Covid-19 risks posed by overcrowded jails, but there is little progress so far.

Navlakha and Teltumbde

Late in March, Sirous Asgari, a materials science and engineering professor from Iran, who is at present detained by the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), had warned about the “inhumane” conditions at the ICE facility that could turn it into a hot spot of Covid-19 fatalities.

April has made his worst nightmares come true. Asgari, who has a history of respiratory problems, has been infected by the Novel Coronavirus, which causes the Covid-19 disease. The news created international outrage last month. Not only the Iranian foreign ministry, many United States lawmakers and human rights groups also demanded his release, but it was not to be.

At the facility in which Asgari is still lodged (though he has been exonerated of all the charges he faced in the United States), people are usually detained for no more than 72 hours, but the Coronavirus outbreak has delayed deportations. People like him are simply caught up in the system. Asgari can leave the United States and resume work in Iran—where the viral epidemic has already claimed more than 60,000 lives—because he simply isn’t being taken before a judge.

Asgari’s plight reminds of another incarceration, this one in an Indian jail; that of Anand Teltumbde, who has been arrested in the Bhima-Koregaon case. On 26 April, noted activist-filmmaker Anand Patwardhan had, in a Facebook post, expressed deep concern about the health of 70-year-old Teltumbde, who also suffers from respiratory problems.

( Read the full text here : https://www.newsclick.in/Prisons-during-lockdown-needs-to-be-decongested)

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