Category Archives: Right watch

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 ]

Jadavpur alumni in solidarity with Dr. Maroona Murmu in face of casteist/racist violence in Indian academia

Statement of solidarity from JU alumni

As alumni of Jadavpur University (JU), we condemn the casteist abuses hurled against a renowned professor of History at Jadavpur University, Dr. Maroona Murmu, because of her identity as an Adivasi.

The remarks were made in response to Dr. Murmu’s comment that an academic year was not more important than a student’s life and that in-person examination during the ongoing deadly coronavirus pandemic was not a good idea. This was admittedly a reasonable stand in face of the government’s decision to hold exams during the Covid-19 outbreak. In response, she received casteist abuses from an undergraduate student who called her out on social media as a “worthless, undeserving idiot” (“jogyotaheen opodartho” in Bengali). It questioned both her scholarly credibility and her right to speak out on any aspect of academic life (the security and well-being of students during a contagious disease outbreak, for instance). The student then went on to “remind” Dr. Murmu of her identity as an Adivasi Santhal and her inferior position in the caste hierarchy that made her unworthy of any consideration. This was followed by over 1800 trolls and rebukes. It is continuing. Continue reading Jadavpur alumni in solidarity with Dr. Maroona Murmu in face of casteist/racist violence in Indian academia

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

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

People from across Professions and Continents Come out In Solidarity with K. Satyanarayana

UPDATE

Signatures kept coming in even as we closed the campaign in order to collate them. We are adding at the end of the statement, some names received between our closing and releasing the statement to the media. We are aware that there are many more who wanted to sign but we had to close it, in order to release the statement on time. 

We reproduce below a statement signed by over 720 signatories, in solidarity with Prof K. Satyanarayana, who has been summoned by the NIA today, along with senior journalist KV Kurmanath.

The signatories, from across different professions, include luminaries such as Professors Noam Chomsky, Barbara Harris-White, Jan Breman, Susie Tharu, Sumit Sarkar, Tanika Sarkar, Prabhat Patnaik, John Harris, Gyan Prakash, Rajeswari Sunder Rajan and Utsa Patnaik; leading writers and poets like K. Satchidanandan, Mridula Garg, Geeta Kapur and Gita Hariharan, artists like Sudhir Patwardhan and Vivan Sundaram.

It is an expression of the great respect that Prof K Satyanarayana commands among different sections of people, including a large number of students, that so many people added their names to this statement of solidarity in such  a short time.

We, the undersigned academics, journalists and concerned citizens strongly condemn the fresh round of harassment and arrests of academics and activists by the National Investigation Agency (NIA), which is trying to implicate them in the Bhima Koregaon case. After Partho Sarathi Ray, the NIA has now summoned Prof Satyanarayana and senior journalist KV Kurmanath to appear before it on 9 September. And even as these summons were being served, the NIA has also arrested Sagar Gorkhe and Ramesh Gaichor of the Kabir Kala Manch in connection with the same case.

Dr. K. Satyanarayana is Professor at the Department of Cultural Studies at the English and Foreign Languages University, Hyderabad. He has been instrumental in establishing Dalit Studies as an academic discipline and has a formidable reputation as a scholar and teacher.

Continue reading People from across Professions and Continents Come out In Solidarity with K. Satyanarayana

NEP 2020 – elitist and corporatized education under Hindu Rashtra

This study of the National Education Policy 2020, apart from my own  analysis, draws on extensive commentary on the final document and its earlier drafts, by education policy experts and teachers, including my own union,  JNU Teachers’ Association, which undertook a detailed critique of the Draft NEP 2019.  This needs to be said because neither educationists nor academics were consulted in the process of making the initial policy, nor were states, despite the fact that education is a concurrent subject. We begin therefore with the procedure of finalizing the NEP 2020.

Faulty procedures of formulating and finalizing the policy

No consultative process

All previous education policies have undergone massive consultation processes, as Niraja Gopal Jayal outlines, but not this one. At the press conference announcing the policy, Gopal Jayal points out, it was claimed that an “unprecedented collaborative, inclusive, and highly participatory consultation process” was conducted, but it is clear from the single slide that was shown, that states were not consulted at all.

Continue reading NEP 2020 – elitist and corporatized education under Hindu Rashtra

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

Why Bloomsbury withdrawing ‘Delhi Riots 2020’ is not about freedom of expression: Nivedita Menon and Aditya Nigam

This post is jointly written by NIVEDITA MENON & ADITYA NIGAM

Bloomsbury India has withdrawn the book Delhi Riots 2020 in the face of massive outrage at its publication. While we commend Bloomsbury’s decision to withdraw, we also note that its statement explaining this act ends with the the following sentence:

‘Bloomsbury India strongly supports freedom of speech but also has a deep sense of responsibility towards society.’

The implication here is clear for those who want to see it. The publication of the book was a matter of ‘freedom of speech’, while its withdrawal comes from a ‘deep sense of responsibility towards society’.

At the outset let us state that we do not question the publication of books with which we do not agree, because intellectual and political differences of opinion, and the freedom to express these are the life blood of a democracy. We have not at any point questioned other publications by Bloomsbury, or by other publishing houses, that express views that support the current regime (which has consistently throttled such freedom of expression, and by whom many of us personally are under serious attack). Nor have we raised objections to the flood of hastily turned out books by many publishers that produce intellectually unsustainable arguments that bolster the politics of the anti-constitutional, Brahminical Hindu Rashtra.

So let us spell out what is reprehensible about Delhi Riots 2020 and why it should not have been published in the first place.

Continue reading Why Bloomsbury withdrawing ‘Delhi Riots 2020’ is not about freedom of expression: Nivedita Menon and Aditya Nigam

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

Intimations of a Bahujan Counter-Tradition and the Hindu Right

This post should be read as a sequel to my earlier post of 16 July, which had discussed the discourse of “Hindu Unity” and questions  before the struggle against the Right. That post had ended with the claim that the struggle against the Hindu Right is not so much about what we understand as “secularism” as it is about the reconstruction of a larger  Bahujan counter-tradition, the search for which was  already on.

Cover of book Mahishasur – Mithak va Paramaprayen [Myths and Traditions],ed. Pramod Ranjan
I should begin with a caveat, or more correctly, an amendment to a position I adopted in the earlier post. In that piece, I had used the terms “anti-majoritarian” discourse and “anti-majoritarianism” to refer to the the larger discursive formation against the Hindu Right. I used that expression largely because I went along part of the way with Abhay Dubey who uses it in his book, to which that piece was a response. However, that expression assumes that there is only one “majority”  or only one way of imagining majority in this country. More importantly, it concedes a certain “natural pre-givenness” to the project of Hindu unity as though that were a self-evident fact. The only thing that makes the project of Hindu unity appear so “natural”, it needs to be underlined, is that it is backed by “tradition” and “religion” in a way that say a class notion of majority is not. If we assume that the dominant tradition is the sole tradition, then this term could make sense but as the  stirrings of a renewed search for a Bahujan counter-tradition, especially in North India, come into view, it gives us a sense of another possible way of imagining “majority”.  It should be underlined here that this renewed search today does not emerge out of the blue from nowhere but draws on the work of earlier medieval thinkers and social/ religious reformers not just in the North (for instance Kabir, Ravi Das and Nanak) but also from Phule, Ayyankali, Sri Narayana Guru, Periyar, Iyothee Thass and many others in the South in more recent times. There is one difference however: rather than use the negative descriptor “Non-Brahmin”, the present search is more explicitly about the production of a Bahujan identity. Ambedkar of course, remains a continuous reference point in this discourse.

Continue reading Intimations of a Bahujan Counter-Tradition and the Hindu Right

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]

 

Nationwide condemnation of Delhi Police regarding their interrogation of Prof. Apoorvanand

We stand firmly with Apoorvanand, our friend and fellow member of the Kafila collective, as we do with all those being interrogated and framed by Delhi Police for the violence in Delhi. We also stand with all political prisoners of this  fascist regime. 

Before you read the statement below, endorsed by over a thousand people from different parts of India, take a look at this detailed expose of how the Delhi Police is trying desperately to cook up a conspiracy theory  that will leave the actual planners and executors of the anti Muslim pogrom in Delhi in January, to roam free, while arresting and intimidating hundreds of people who peacefully and non-violently protested the unconstitutional CAA.  Ajoy Ashirwad Mahaprashasta carefully dissects the anti CAA Whatsapp groups out of which the Delhi Police is trying to concoct a bizarre narrative, in The Wire.

Apoorvanand, Image courtesy Times of India

STATEMENT

On August 3, 2020 the Special Branch of the Delhi Police called in Prof. Apoorvanand, well-known writer, public speaker and Professor of Hindi at Delhi University, where he spent 5 hours, for an interrogation in connection with the Northeast Delhi riots. The police have seized his phone. This comes close on the heels of the interrogation of many other intellectuals and activists.

A day when authorities feel free to haul in the nation’s leading public voices to police stations, merely because they speak against the policies and ideology of the ruling government, is a day we must all be deeply concerned. Also, a day when we must overcome all fear, to stand up for each individual’s right to disagree, dissent, and thereby deepen our democracy. For this democracy today faces its most serious crisis since independence, far more critical than Indira Gandhi’s Emergency 45 years ago. As concerned citizens who love and value our democracy, and our country, we must speak out before it is too late and all voices of freedom are silenced forever.

Continue reading Nationwide condemnation of Delhi Police regarding their interrogation of Prof. Apoorvanand

“There is no god in that temple”: Rabindranath Tagore/Translated by Banojyotsna Lahiri

Banojyotsna Lahiri shared her translation of some excerpts from  a poem by Rabindranath Tagore, written 120 years ago, titled “Deeno Daan”.

It is about a temple.

Original Bangla below the translation.

“There is no god in that temple”, said the Saint.

The King was enraged;
“No God? Oh Saint, aren’t you speaking like an atheist?
On that throne studded with priceless gems, beams the golden idol,
And yet, you proclaim that it is empty?”

“It is not empty; rather, it is full of royal pride.
You have bestowed yourself, oh King, not the God of this world”,
Remarked the saint.

The King frowned, “2 million golden coins
were showered on that grand structure that kisses the sky,
I offered it to the Gods after performing all the necessary rituals,
And you dare claim that in such a grand temple,
There is no presence of God”? Continue reading “There is no god in that temple”: Rabindranath Tagore/Translated by Banojyotsna Lahiri

गैर-दक्षिणपंथी विचारकों के आत्ममंथन का घोषणा पत्र है अभय दुबे की पुस्तक : अरविंद कुमार

Guest post by ARVIND KUMAR

अभय दुबे की पुस्तक हिन्दू एकता बनाम ज्ञान की राजनीति पर जारी बहस में एक योगदान।

दि प्रिंट में 8 जुलाई 2020 को  योगेंद्र यादव का लेख ‘भारतीय सेक्युलरिज्म पर हिन्दी की यह किताब उदारवादियों की पोल खोल सकती थी मगर नज़रअंदाज़ कर दी गई है’, अभय दुबे की पुस्तक को केंद्र मे रखकर लिखा गया है.  उन्होनें लिखा: “अगर अभय की किताब के तर्क उन सेकुलर बुद्धिजीवियों के कान तक टहलकर नहीं पहुंचे जिनके लिखत-पढ़त की उन्होंने आलोचना की है तो इसकी वजह को पहचान पाना मुश्किल नहीं. वजह वही है जिसे अभय ने अपनी किताब में रेखांकित किया है कि भारत के अँग्रेज़ीदाँ मध्यवर्ग की सेकुलर-लिबरल विचारधारा और देश के शेष समाज के बीच सोच समझ के धरातल पर एक खाई मौजूद है.” योगेंद्र के लेख के जवाब में, दि प्रिंट में ही 15 जुलाई को राजमोहन गांधी का लेख ‘भारत में धर्मनिरपेक्षता की विचारधारा पराजित नहीं हुई है, इसके पैरोकारों को आरएसएस  पर दोष मढ़ना बंद करना होगा’ पढ़कर संतोष और असंतोष दोनों हुआ. संतोष इसलिए कि योगेंद्र के आग्रह पर बुद्धिजीवियों ने बहस को आगे बढ़ाने की पहल तो की. इसी कड़ी में 16 जुलाई 2020 को काफ़िला में छपा आदित्य निगम का लेख ‘डिसकोर्स ऑफ हिन्दू युनीटी इन द स्ट्र्गल अगेन्स्ट द राइट’ को भी देखा जा सकता है.

Continue reading गैर-दक्षिणपंथी विचारकों के आत्ममंथन का घोषणा पत्र है अभय दुबे की पुस्तक : अरविंद कुमार

Release Prof Hany Babu – A Statement of Solidarity from his Students

We are publishing below a statement by about 350 current and former students of Hany Babu, condemning his arrest on cooked up charges, and expressing solidarity with him.  

Students’ Statement of Solidarity: Release Prof. Hany Babu

We, the undersigned former and current students of Prof Hany Babu M.T., condemn his arrest by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) on Tuesday and stand in firm solidarity with him. Prof. Babu is a noted academic, a well known anti-caste activist, and a member of the committee formed for the defence of G.N. Saibaba, a former Delhi University professor who is over 90% disabled, and wheelchair bound. Prof. Babu has maintained his innocence since the illegal raid at his Noida apartment last year in September by Pune police. The raid, which was conducted without a warrant, resulted in the Pune Police confiscating Prof. Babu’s laptop, mobile phones, two booklets printed for the G.N. Saibaba defence committee and two books which are publicly available in bookstores and libraries. The nature of his alleged ‘crime’ remains unclear because the NIA’s warrant is, in our opinion, deliberately vague with clearly fabricated accusations. According to news reports, the ‘evidence’ that has apparently led to Prof Babu’s arrest was based off of an e folder on his hard disk. He was, however, not given a hash value for his laptop. 

We believe this is a direct attack on education, activists and the academic space at large.     It is outrageous that on 23rd June Prof. Babu was summoned to Mumbai from Noida during a pandemic. His summon and arrest cannot be seen in isolation. Activists like Anand Teltumbde, Gautam Navlakha, Devangana Kalita, Natasha Narwal, Gulfisha Fatima and Sharjeel Usmani were also arrested during the ongoing pandemic which mandates social distancing. Overcrowded jails have now become the new Covid19 hotspots. Activists arrested earlier, like Sharjeel Imam, Akhil Gogoi, and Varavara Rao, and, according to recent news reports, many other prisoners, have also tested Covid positive.  

We demand Prof. Babu’s immediate release, and reaffirm our complete solidarity with our Professor, Dr. Hany Babu. We also demand the release of all political prisoners who were arrested in cases related to the Elgar-Parishad, as well as the anti-CAA protestors booked under the draconian Unlawful Activities and Prevention Act, which makes bail almost impossible under medical and humanitarian grounds despite the ongoing pandemic. Continue reading Release Prof Hany Babu – A Statement of Solidarity from his Students

Once Upon a Time There Was a Campus (and Why it is Still There) – A Fable: Hammersickle Rubberchappal

Guest post by HAMMERSICKLE RUBBERCHAPPAL

From the very title you can tell that it is a story with a happy end. It is also a true story.

Image courtesy Kevin Clancy Studio

Once upon a time there was a campus. In a slightly shabby postcolonial country. When they became post-colonial, they decided they needed somewhere to send their bright minds, so they could think, read, and learn to write. And since they were dusting themselves off after they had booted the colonisers out, they also knew that most people in that shabby country had nowhere they could send their kids to learn and grow because everyone lived in all kinds of faraway parts of the country, had no money, and had very difficult lives. Some enthusiastic, farsighted, and sensible people in their parliament decided to make this possible. They made the laws, they found the space, barren and brown, in a hot part of a sprawling northern town. Then they got the best minds from everywhere, to teach and to learn, so that together they could do their best to make everyone a citizen of a slightly less shabby postcolonial country.

For half a century, this campus flourished. It became green from brown, it had slightly rickety places for everyone to live in. There were many small and big places you could go for a hot meal. Yes, it cost the government some money, but not that much. There are people who say very tall buildings are phallic symbols. Interestingly though, the tallest building on the campus was the library. Slowly, the busy people on this campus took on the responsibility for how the shabby postcolonial country would think. Not everyone was happy, but all these people were so sincere and so committed and so good, that no one could really say they were wrong. They learned languages from all over so they could speak with the world, they learned about the past in history, about the present in sciences that were very talkative and social, and thought hopeful and sciencey thoughts about the future. Even the walls danced with poetry, purpose, and an abandon of colour.

Then came those years of frightening and radically evil people who began to take over entire countries. Not that this was entirely new, it had happened before. How that could happen again is being investigated to this day, but is dark matter for another story. And then this shabby postcolonial country fell to the same fate. Continue reading Once Upon a Time There Was a Campus (and Why it is Still There) – A Fable: Hammersickle Rubberchappal