We are in the midst of a climate emergency – and this is no longer a secret. In fact, in November 2019, 11,000 scientists declared in a signed statement, in no uncertain terms that “planet Earth is facing a climate emergency.” “Scientists”, they said, “have a moral obligation to clearly warn humanity of any catastrophic threat and to ‘tell it like it is’.” They noted that even 40 years after the First Climate Conference attended by over 50 scientists (in Geneva in 1979) had agreed that there were alarming trends of climate change that made it necessary to act, the situation has only worsened. “Alarming trends” have since given way to a full-on emergency. Although the 2015 Paris Agreement arrived at in COP 21 is considered a paradigm shift in that it produced a legally binding international climate treaty (adopted by 196 parties), the change since then has not been significant.Continue reading COP(OUT)26, Climate Emergency and the Indian Left
The 10 th lecture in the Democracy Dialogues Series organised by New Socialist Initiative was delivered by Prof Mridula Mukherjee ( Retd.) on Sunday, 12 th Sepember at 6 PM ( IST). She spoke on ‘Nationalism : Then and Now’
Prof. Mridula Mukherjee, was associated with Centre for Historical Studies, JNU for a long time and was also Director of Nehru Memorial Museum and Library, ( NMML), New Delhi.
Well known as a historian for her work on the role of peasants in the Indian independence movement, she has authored two important books on the theme, Peasants in India’s Non-Violent Revolution ( Sage 2004) and Colonising Agriculture : Myth of Punjab Exceptionalism ( Sage 2005). She has also coauthored books with Prof Bipan Chandra, Prof Aditya Mukherjee on ‘India’s Struggle for Independence’ ( Penguin 2000) and ‘India After Independence‘ ( Penguin 2008). The monograph ‘RSS, School Texts and Murder of Mahatma Gandhi‘ which she has coauthored with Prof Aditya Mukherjee and Prof Sucheta Mahajan has been widely appreciated.
In this lecture Prof Mridula Mukherjee discussed Nationalism and its origins as a modern ideology, how nations are historical constructs with each nation having its own distinctive historical evolution and the emergence of two kinds of nationalism and how the present notion of aggressive, chauvinistic nationalism is in sharp contrast to the once evolved by the freedom struggle and how the task of preventing the appropriation of nationalism and its creative linking to progressive agenda is the need of the hour.
Please write to us at email@example.com if you are interested in getting upadates about the series.
The lecture series is available on facebook.com/newsocialistinitiative.nsi as well.
( Here is a playlist of earlier lectures in the Democracy Dialogues Series :
This reflection has been long coming: the whole idea of women’s empowerment has been steadily deteriorating in Kerala since some years now. Actually, even from the side of the government, there is much less talk about it, even though it flowed into Kerala in the 1990s through the government, somewhat neoliberalized already, after the Beijing Conference. The national environment has of course been especially hostile with Hindu majoritarian conservatives in power whose ideas about ‘Indian culture’ do not offer any prospect of expanding the resonances and meanings of women’s empowerment — the opposite being more likely. But in Kerala too, interest in it has decidedly shrunk. Among its former constituents, especially the women’s self-help groups, it means little other than income-generation and entry into local politics.Continue reading Time to dump ’empowerment’? Feminism, women and the state in kerala today
Guest Post by NABIYA KHAN
Our valiant young activists, defenders of democracy, continue to be in prison for almost a year – some a bit more and some a bit less. All under entirely framed charges, while the actual perpetrators of violence continue to roam free, spreading hate. Celebrating the commitment and courage of these activists, here is an offering by Nabiya Khan, courtesy Karwan-e-Mohabbat. The Devanagari and Urdu texts follow after the videoContinue reading A Poem For Umar, Khalid Saifi and Other Political Prisoners: Nabiya Khan
Open letter to Prime Minister by Constitutional Conduct Group
Dear Prime Minister,
We are former officers of the All India and Central Services who have worked with the Central and State Governments in the course of our careers. We have no political affiliation but have come together as the Constitutional Conduct Group because we believe in impartiality and neutrality and in safeguarding the values of the Indian Constitution.
We were surprised, and deeply disturbed, by the recent amendment to the Central Pension Rules notified by the Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions on 31 May 2021. By this amendment, retired government servants who have worked in any intelligence or security related organisation included in the Second Schedule of the Right to Information Act 2005 have to take the clearance of the head of the organisation if they wish to make any publication after retirement, if such publication relates to and includes:
(i) domain of the organisation, including any reference or information about any personnel and his designation, and expertise or knowledge gained by virtue of working in that organisation; Continue reading AMENDMENT TO CENTRAL CIVIL SERVICES PENSION RULES CURTAILS FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION OF RETIRED OFFICIALS: Constitutional Conduct Group
Numb and wordless in grief, filled with rage against the murderous regime of the RSS, led by Modi and Shah, we raise our fists in salute to a gentle, inspiring man.
Here is the statement Stan Swamy made on the eve of his arrest by the NIA, stating that false evidence had been planted on his computer. That this had indeed been done on a large scale to arrest people in the Bhima Koregaon case was soon established by an independent digital forensics firm based in the USA.
This is a criminal regime and the Prime Minister and the Home Minister should stand trial for war crimes against the people of India.
The fight will continue!
Release all political prisoners!
We publish a document ‘Demands of the People’ adopted by a novel campaign Ekusher Dak in West Bengal that has the potential to emerge as the nucleus of a new Left formation in the state. The draft document in Bangla is appended at the end of this post. Tomorrow, 30 June, Ekusher Dak or the Call of 21 will be organizing a programme, recalling the great Santhal Hool or the revolt of 30 June 1855.Continue reading The Call of ’21 (একুশের ডাক) – A Novel Campaign and a Nucleus of the New
A slightly longer version of this post was published under a different title in Southasia Multidisciplinary Academic Journal (Issue 24/25, 2020)
A young, successful, Hindi film actor died in tragic circumstances. What followed was a sensational real life movie, scripted in the headquarters of Hindu Rashtra, as part of its larger campaign to control the cultural arena.
Sushant Singh Rajput was found hanging in his bedroom in a Mumbai flat in June 2020, and it was initially declared as suicide by the Mumbai police. Within days however, the hashtag Justice for SSR started trending, and suddenly thousands of devoted and inconsolable fans had sprung up all over social media, all attacking “Bollywood” (the Bombay film industry) for its “nepotism” which had deprived a talented actor of work, driving him to suicide. “Boycott Bollywood” was a key theme in this frenzied outpouring of apparent grief. From here it escalated to claims that Rajput had been murdered, and that a drug cartel linked to Bollywood stars was involved in the crime. Soon these claims were all that one could see on social media, and on some Hindi, Marathi and English television channels, specially Republic and Times Now, which specialize in sensationalist and blatantly pro-Hindutva political reportage, including fake news (for one instance see Bajpai 2020). Continue reading Sushant Singh Rajput, Hindu Rashtra and Bollywood
Supporters of Left Presidential candidate Pedro Castillo take to the streets, image courtesy BBC and Reuters
It seems quite clear from the latest reports coming in from Peru that the Left-wing candidate Pedro Castillo is all set to win in what has been described as the most polarized election till date. With over 99 percent of the ballots counted, Castillo had taken a lead of approximately 80, 000 votes (50. 2 of the total) over his Right-wing rival Keiko Fujimori. The counting process, reports say, has already been considerably slowed down as ballots seem to be still arriving from abroad as well as from the remote rural areas. Votes of expatriates arriving from abroad are mostly right wing votes for Fujimori whereas the ones from the rural areas are likely to be overwhelmingly for Castillo. There also seem to be a huge number of contested votes that might need to be recounted, further slowing down the process.Continue reading ‘No More Poor People In a Rich Country’ – What Will Peru’s Left Victory Mean?
The farmers’ struggle at the Delhi borders completed six months yesterday, the 26th of May. The day was observed as a Black Day all over the country, at the call of the Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM).
Braving unprecedented cold, followed by rains and storm, the struggle has now moved into the cruelest part of Delhi’s summer. In the process, it has lost 470 of its people, thanks to the obstinacy of the government. If one dates the beginning of the struggle from June, when it began in Punjab, soon after the farm laws were stealthily, under cover of the pandemic, promulgated as ordinances by the Central government, the struggle has been on for ten months now. In other words, it is incorrect to go on referring to it as a protest – which we routinely do for many lost causes – for it is now a ‘do or die’ struggle. It became so from the time it shifted its venue to lay siege to Delhi.
Periodically, the government, its police and its minions in the media try and zero in on this epic struggle of the farmers for its ignoring, if not violating of Covid19 protocols. All this even as they look the other way while lakhs of people are thrown into the jaws of death, brought about by the mass murderers who have pushed populations in four states into prolonged election campaigns, played cynical games with precious oxygen and vaccine supplies and allowed all kinds of mass religious gatherings of the Hindus to take place in complete disregard of any protocol whatsoever.Continue reading Six Months of the Farmers’ Struggle – Looking Ahead
Legendary freedom fighter and Civil Rights activist Harohalli Srinivasaiah Doreswamy popularly known as HS Doreswamy breathed his last yesterday.
The 103 year-old Gandhian, who kept the ‘conscience of Karnataka till his very last breath, and was the tallest public intellectual, who appeased none and spared none‘ would be remembered for his enthusiasm for public causes till he remained alive
Born on 10 April 1918 in Harohalli village in the then princely state of Mysore, he was jailed for the first time during Quit India movement – for his association with a group involved in making bombs and who spent 14 months of his life then – never stopped working for people even after independence.
In 1975, he had even challenged the then prime minister Indira Gandhi when emergency was declared, civil liberties stood suspended and who faced jail under the draconian Defence of India rule.
One of the issues closest to his heart remained getting land rights for the poor and the landless.
Before the first wave of Covid 19 struck he has been a prominent figure at protests against the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and has been openly critical of BJP-led central government’s policies.
He was cremated with state honours but it was clear as mirror that the BJP government in Karnataka always felt uncomfortable with his presence.
A year before last a leading BJP legislator had hurled choicest abuses at this legendary freedom fighter, and when the issue was raised in the Karnataka assembly, forget issuing any unconditional apology for his remarks the legislator not only remained adamant but received support from many of his colleagues.
Issued in 1981
Statement by Radical Socialist
Resist the Ethnic Cleansing of Palestinians! Oppose Zionism in the Streets! Fight for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel.
Radical Socialist holds that the very existence of Israel is the existence of a colonial-settler state. The centuries of violence on Jews was carried out, not by Arabs, not by Muslims, but first by the Romans, then by Christian Europeans. Within that, the UN in 1948 had given only a small area. Over the decades, a continuously aggressive Israel has expanded, has occupied territories originally identified for Palestinians. The Naqba has been a never ending process of ethnic cleansing. Protected by US imperialism, in the initial phases by the Soviet bureaucracy, and also by the military power it has built up, Israel has waged a permanent war on the Palestinians.
The current conflict must be viewed from that broader perspective. It is not a conflict between two more or less equal sides. It is not a case where Hamas is to be held as responsible, or even almost as responsible, as Israel. It is Israel that is fully responsible for the renewed bid at ethnic cleansing by pushing Palestinians out of East Jerusalem and elsewhere. With an ultra-right figure like Netanyahu, the failure to form a stable government after the last elections was adequate reason to stoke Zionist sentiments further. Continue reading Resist the Ethnic Cleansing of Palestinians: Radical Socialist
A shorter version of this article appeared in Bangla earlier in Sahomon.
The question of federalism and Centre-State relations has been on many people’s minds lately, given that the Centre in the Modi dispensation has been hell bent on usurping the powers of the states while slyly thrusting all responsibility on to their shoulders. As a matter of fact, it was precisely during the outbreak of Covid19, when there should have been maximum cooperation between the Centre and the States, that the strains started showing in a glaring manner. Very early on, it became clear that the Centre was intent upon using the pandemic to usurp more and more powers, while riding roughshod not only on the rights of ordinary citizens but also of the States. In dealing with the pandemic, not only were the mandatory consultations with the States not held, they were in fact simply handed over decisions. The most dramatic of all these, of course, was the completely bizarre manner in which the Lockdown was declared last year, at just four hours notice. The huge tragedy that followed was totally avoidable had there been prior consultations and had the Prime Minister, just for one moment, behaved like one. As a matter of fact, the record of this government over the past seven years has been pretty consistent in this regard at least. Continue reading Why Federalism Must Become the Fulcrum Of Politics In Coming Days
Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP) is deeply worried about Professor Hany Babu’s health, in wake of news that he is suffering from a serious eye infection that could lead to loss of vision in one eye. According to his family, he has little or no vision in his left eye due to the swelling caused by the infection, which has spread to the cheek, ear and forehead. The family fears the worst if the swelling spreads to his brain. And yet jail authorities have failed to provide him proper medical care.
The 55-year-old professor is an accused in the alleged Elgar Parishad conspiracy behind the Bhima Koregaon violence. He is currently lodged in Taloja Central Prison, Maharashtra and has been complaining of an acute eye infection, pain, and gradual loss of vision since May 3, 2021.
टिकरी बॉर्डर पर युवा महिला कार्यकर्त्ता के साथ यौन हिंसा और अपहरण पर सार्वजनिक बयान, 9 मई, 2021
बंगाल से आयी असोसियेशन फॉर प्रोटेक्शन ऑफ़ डेमोक्रेटिक राइट्स (एपीडीआर), श्रीरामपुर की 26 वर्षीय कार्यकर्त्ता के 30 अप्रैल 2021 को बहादुरगढ़, हरियाणा में हुए निधन पर हमें गहरा अफ़सोस है। यह युवती किसान आंदोलन से बेहद प्रेरित हुई और 2 से 11 अप्रैल को बंगाल में आन्दोलन का प्रचार कर रहे किसान सोशल आर्मी के साथ टिकरी बॉर्डर पर आंदोलन के प्रति अपना समर्थन दर्ज कराने आयी थी। उसे खोने का शोक मनाते हुए, हम टिकरी बॉर्डर पर उसके द्वारा बिताये चंद दिनों के दौरान उसके साथ हुए घटनाक्रम के बारे में सुन कर भी बेहद चिंतित और परेशान हैं।
Public Statement on the Sexual Assault and Abduction of a Young Woman Activist at Tikri Border issued on 9 May 2021
We deeply mourn the death of a 26-year old activist from APDR (Sreerampur) in West Bengal, who passed away on 30th April, 2021 at Bahadurgarh in Haryana. She was deeply inspired by the farmers’ movement and had gone to express her solidarity at the Tikri border with the Kisan Social Army who had been campaigning around Bengal from 2nd April to 11th April, 2021. As we mourn her loss, we are also deeply troubled and concerned on hearing the events that had unfolded during her short stay at the Tikri border.
Guest post by HIMANSHU SHUKLA
As India updated its COVID cases on April 30th, it became the first country to register over 4 lakh infection in a single day. This record breaking second-wave spike in the country opened the Pandora’s Box of the Modi-led central government’s claim of defeating the pandemic. The government patted itself for successfully defeating the virus and bringing normalcy in the country, without getting hit very hard like many other countries. The second wave of virus has showed up the naked picture of the hollow claims that the government made about their preparedness to tackle COVID.
India is now the epicentre of infection, accounting for 46% of world’s total cases and quarter of deaths. The ravaging crisis brought about cries for oxygen countrywide. Mass deaths due to unavailability of medical care is the new picture that India portrays of its incompetence in dealing with the second wave. The recent editorial of Lancet slammed Modi government, mentioning that the second wave is a ‘self inflicted national catastrophe’.
Posted below is the English translation of a Punjabi poem by SWARAJBIR, Editor of Punjabi Tribune, on the culpability of the state. The poem in the original Punjabi is at the end.
Mahavir Narwal breathed his last yesterday, of Covid. He was an active member of the CPI(M) and the father of Natasha Narwal, activist of Pinjra Tod, a feminist collective, who has been in jail for a year along with Debangana Kalita, another Pinjra Tod activist. Along with many others, Natasha was accused on the basis of no evidence, of having caused the violence in Delhi in January-February 2020, the violence that was in fact carefully planned and orchestrated by the forces that run this regime.
What all the activists jailed for the 2020 Delhi violence are guilty of, is the firm commitment to equal rights to citizenship in India, and unrelenting opposition to the regime’s continuing attempt to establish Hindu Rashtra, a project rejected by the vast masses of this country, and which we will resist and defeat through militant non-violent means.
When accounts are drawn up of this criminal regime, we will remember the disrespect to the Constitution repeatedly shown by different arms of the judiciary. Natasha was refused bail on earlier occasions, and her latest plea for bail to meet her Covid-stricken father one last time, was scheduled to be heard today, Monday the 10th of May, the morning after Mahavir Narwal’s death.
Dear Kind Judge Sahib
Kind Judge Sahib,
Mahavir Narwal is dead.
Yes Judge Sahib,
is no more in this world.
Kind Judge Sahib,
A day ago, this daughter
had come to your Court.
She had not said
“Don’t prosecute me”
She had not said
“Declare me innocent” Continue reading That Monday will not come, Judge Sahib: Swarajbir
Guest post by NAKUL SINGH SAWHNEY
Some observations and takeaways from State Assembly elections in Kerala, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, and Assam in May 2021 – from an original Facebook post. The observations are in the form of informal reflections but they point towards certain developments that might open up new, anticipated spaces for the struggle for a democratic India.
Federalism: The Election verdicts of May 2, 2021, from Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, and Kerala scream ‘federalism’. The election results are so vastly different in the State Assemblies and Lok Sabha. The election outcomes of Delhi, Maharashtra, Haryana, West Bengal, Kerala are important examples of this phenomenon.
India is a country that naturally lends itself to federalism and greater state autonomy. While the Congress, by and large, didn’t allow for it, the BJP is hell-bent on a deeply centralized structure and crushing any aspiration for regional autonomy. If progressive forces don’t take up the question of federalism and state autonomy, then it runs the risk of slipping into the hands of crude chauvinists and xenophobes like Shiv Sena of yesteryears or secessionists like Khalistanis.
As close to 8.5 lakh voters spread over 35 Assembly constituencies go to vote today in the last phase of Bengal’s elections, the line from the famous jatra Nabab Siraj-Ud-Doula from which the title of this post is extracted, haunts. The original ‘jatra pala’, written by Sachin Sengupta was staged in 1938 had a dialogue that announced the dark clouds collecting at Bengal’s horizons. The lines ‘Banglar akashe aaj durjoger ghanaghata/ Taar shyamal prantore rakter alpona’ have since resounded in the many iterations of the play, over the decades. The figures of Siraj-Ud-Daula and the traitor Mir Jafar have generally become part of Bengal’s political vocabulary but this time round the sense of Bengal being under attack from ‘outsiders’ has been pervasive. Along with that other episode of political folklore – repeated attacks by the borgis or the plunderous cavalrymen of the Maratha Empire, on Bengal has been recalled often. The attacks by the borgis were followed, only a few years later, by the Battle of Plassey (Palashi), in which Siraj-Ud-Daula was defeated after Robert Clive bribed Mir Jafar, his army commander, to betray the Nawab.
This time round too, it is widely believed, the aggression by ‘outsiders’ cannot and will not succeed but for the Mir Jafar’s who collaborate with the aggressors.
The severity of the second wave and the government’s unpreparedness demonstrate the limits of ‘strong’ leadership and religion-based politics.
It was 1527, and Martin Luther, leader of the Protestant Reformation, wrote a letter advising a Lutheran leader what a believer should do during an epidemic. Europe was in the deadly grip of the bubonic plague at the time. It had killed thousands of people.
Extracts of his letter are relevant even today, especially the parts where Luther talks about what to do during an epidemic: “…Then I shall fumigate, help purify the air, administer medicine, and take it. I shall avoid places and persons where my presence is not needed in order not to become contaminated and thus perchance infect and pollute others, and so cause their death as a result of my negligence.”
Tirath Singh Rawat, the Chief Minister of Uttarakhand, perhaps does not know of this letter or its contents. Surprisingly, he does not even seem to recall the experiences from last year. In fact, much of what happened during the Covid epidemic seems lost on him. In 2020, public places of worship and religious gatherings became super-spreaders of the virus. That is why, for the first time, religious congregations were banned everywhere from Mecca to the Vatican to arrest the spread of the pandemic.
So, it is strange that Rawat cannot recall how believers took the back seat and ceded space to science during the first wave. Indeed, he has made a specious claim that faith in God will overcome the fear of the virus, in the context of the Kumbh Mela, a gathering where tens of lakhs of people gathered earlier this month.
( Read the full text here )