When Charlatans Become Ideologues – The Real ‘Prisoners of the Binary’

Present day Hindus are probably the strongest opponents of Marxism. They are horrified at its doctrine of class-struggle. But they forget that India has been not merely the land of class struggle but she has been the land of class wars. – B. R. Ambedkar, Philosophy of Hinduism.

I often find myself in a bind over whether or not to respond to supposed RSS ideologues, given that they simply trade in lies and hatred with the supreme arrogance of ignorance. One such is the upcoming star on the RSS horizon, a gentleman called Rakesh Sinha, who like the rest of his pack (led by the supreme leader) is currently engaged in a cheap attack on the outgoing Vice-President, Hamid Ansari. His piece in the Indian Express today (linked above) is an  instance of a combination of all these things. So, why should one bother about such a character? Why take him and his discourse seriously? Well, someone had better respond because, because, for one thing they are in power, and are going to teach generations of students that valorous ‘Hindus’ like Maharana Pratap won all the wars, though by some magic, ‘Muslims’ continued to rule for about 8 centuries! For another, there are enough gullible types who really think these people ‘have a point of view’, which should be debated.

As we have repeatedly seen, their ‘having a point of view’ has nothing to do with debate. It is to be enforced by gangs of gorakshaks, anti-romeo squads, hoodlums deciding what will or will not be taught in universities and schools, what will be written, how people should dress and love – and when nothing works, ‘win’ a ‘debate’ like Arun Jaitley claimed they did, by simply arresting the opponents and slapping sedition charges on them. Given this, I do not really address, in person, the ideologue, Rakesh Sinha, who has now made it a fine art to pick up some phrases from the toolkit of what is understood as ‘postmodernism’ by many. Wasn’t it postmodernism, one can  hear them say, that said all viewpoints are equally valid and ‘everything goes’? Wasn’t it postmodernism that challenged the hegemony of Western thought, its logocentrism, its Rationalism (with a capital R) from within that very tradition? Wasn’t it postmodernism again, that by decentering West’s logocentrism, actually gave these RSS-type creatures the gumption to claim that their utterly unsubstantiated viewpoint about the past too was as valid as that of historians who struggled with evidence, painstakingly putting together texts, artefacts and procedures of dating in order to produce a plausible account of the past?

Continue reading “When Charlatans Become Ideologues – The Real ‘Prisoners of the Binary’”

The Modi regime, its minions in the JNU administration and the brave struggle of whistle blower Prof Rajeev Kumar

The prime minister of India Narendra Modi’s cheap hindutvavaadi jibes in his farewell address to vice president Hamid Ansari were better suited to Republic TV or The Organiser, but under Modi’s regime, parliament is pretty much run like an RSS shakha, and Modi himself seems no different from Arnab Goswami.

Said Modi in parliament to the distinguished out-going vice president:

Aapke karyakaal ka bahut saara hissa West Asia se juda raha hai. Usi dayere mein zindagi ke bahut varsh aapke gaye, usi mahaul mein, usi soch mein, aise logon ke beech mein rahe. Wahan se retire hone ke baad bhi jyadatar kaam wohi raha aapka; Minorities Commission ho yah Aligarh Muslim University ho, zyadatar dayara aapka wohi raha.

Lekin yeh 10 saal puri tarah ek alaga zimma aapka sar mein aaya. Puri tarah ek ek pal samvidhan samvidhan samvidhan ke hi dayere mein chalana. Aur aapne usko bakhubi nibhaane ka bharpur prayaas kiya. Ho sakta hai kuch chatpatahat rahi hogi bhitar aapke andar bhi. Magar aaj ke baad shayad woh sankat bhi nahin rahega. Mukti ka anand bhi rahega aur apni mulbhut jo soch rahi hogi uske anusaar aapko karya karne ka, sochne ka, baat batane ka awsar bhi milega.

Continue reading “The Modi regime, its minions in the JNU administration and the brave struggle of whistle blower Prof Rajeev Kumar”

“No research please, we are college teachers” – On the HRD Ministry’s latest bright idea.

A version of this piece appeared yesterday in The Wire

“I would like to thank Huddersfield University for enabling me to have a sabbatical semester to work on this revised edition and for providing such a supportive environment. Thanks to many of the students on my Women, Power and Society module for their hard work and enthusiasm.”

That is the dedication in a book by British scholar and teacher Valerie Bryson – a text I often use for teaching at a college in Delhi University. Evidently, Bryson found her teaching and research lives complementing each other beautifully, as have thousands of university and college teachers who have had the luck to have what she calls a “supportive” professional and academic environment. What are the elements of this support? A sabbatical semester or year every once in a while, ready research facilities within the college premises or nearby, and an opportunity to formulate teaching courses that ally with your research focus. With these elements in place, both teaching and research benefit dramatically.

Until recently, college teachers in this country had the first two conditions. They were given in their entire careers – say from the age of 26 or 27 when one normally began teaching at a college to the age of 65 – three years of paid study leave to pursue or finish their PhDs (with the usual conditions and caveats including a strict bond that they signed with college promising to return the three years’ pay if the PhD remained incomplete, or if they resigned upon return to the institution) and a further two years of (until recently, paid and now invariably unpaid or “extraordinary”) leave to take a break from teaching and pursue a postdoctoral or visiting fellowship at a research institute.

Continue reading ““No research please, we are college teachers” – On the HRD Ministry’s latest bright idea.”

Under the sign of security – Why the bogey of ‘the illegal Bangladeshi immigrant’ is so powerful across urban Indian homes: Sahana Ghosh & Rimple Mehta

Guest Post by SAHANA GHOSH & RIMPLE MEHTA

From the night of July 11 when Zohra Bibi did not return home to the evening of July 16 when union minister Mahesh Sharma, member of parliament for Gautam Budh Nagar, UP met with residents of Mahagun Moderne, much has transpired. Promptly after the minister’s assurances of ‘justice’ and even retribution to the flat-owners, the settlement of tin walled shacks in which Zohra Bibi and other workers like her lived with their families was demolished the next day. Many of the ‘facts’ of the matter remain disputed – while Zohra Bibi maintains that she neither admitted to the theft of cash nor hid in the basement of the building, the allegation that her employers Harshu and Mitul Sethi harassed and detained her, confiscating her mobile phone is denied by them. Meanwhile, thirteen men, a majority of them Bengali Muslims from West Bengal, arrested from the workers’ settlement are denied bail on the charge of attempted murder on the might of three FIRs filed by residents of Mahagun Moderne and languish in judicial custody. The Noida police are yet to commence any investigation of the Sethis as required by the FIR filed by Zohra Bibi and her husband Abdul Sattar. What does this language of the riot, of murderous mobs with which residents of the swanky apartment complex took to social media with #MaldainNoida accomplish? As security cards, required by domestic and other workers to enter the gated community, were revoked for 80-odd workers under the cry of ‘ban the Bangladeshi maid’, the bogey of the illegal Bangladeshi immigrant reared its ugly head. Continue reading “Under the sign of security – Why the bogey of ‘the illegal Bangladeshi immigrant’ is so powerful across urban Indian homes: Sahana Ghosh & Rimple Mehta”

विश्वविद्यालय, अंध राष्ट्रवाद और देशभक्ति : वैभव सिंह

Guest post by VAIBHAV SINGH

भारत खुद को भले किसी महान प्राचीन ज्ञान-परंपरा का वारिस समझता हो पर उसके विश्वविद्यालयों की दशा चंद चमकदार अपवादों के बावजूद खस्ताहाल है। उच्चशिक्षा की हालत किसी मरणासन्न नदी जैसी है जिसपर पुल तो बहुत बड़ा बन गया है पर पानी सूखता जा रहा है। भारत अपने साथ ही यह झूठ बोल रहा है कि वह ज्ञान या ज्ञानियों का आदर करता है, जबकि सचाई इसके विपरीत है। आधुनिक युग में भारत ने जितना ज्ञान की अवहेलना और अनादर किया है, उतना शायद ही किसी देश ने किया होगा। हर तिमाही-छमाही आने वाली रिपोर्ट्स हमें शर्मिंदा करती हैं कि संसार के सर्वोच्च 100 विश्वविद्यालयों में भारत के किसी विश्वविद्यालय को नहीं रखा जा सका। पूरा शिक्षा-जगत डिग्रियों की खरीदफरोख्त में लगे विचित्र किस्म के अराजक और अपराधिक सौदेबाजियों से भरे बाजार में बदलता जा रहा है। यहां अपराधी, दलाल और कलंकित नेता अपने काले धन व डिजिटल मनी की समन्वित ताकत लेकर उतर पड़े हैं और हर तरह की कीमत की एवज में कागजी शिक्षा बेचने लगे हैं। इस बाजार में ‘नालेज’ और ‘डिग्री’ का संबंध छिन्नभिन्न हो चुका है। कमाल की बात यह है कि यह स्थिति हमें चिंतित नहीं करती।

दूसरी ओर, उच्चशिक्षा अभी भी समाज की नब्बे फीसदी आबादी के लिए सपने सरीखी है। उच्चशिक्षा में जीईआर यानी दाखिले के अनुपात की गणना 18-23 आयुवर्ग के छात्रों को ध्यान में रखकर की जाती है और अभी भी भारत में केवल दस फीसदी लोग उच्चशिक्षा के संस्थानों के दरवाजे तक पहुंच पाते हैं। इसमें भी दलित व गरीब मुस्लिमों की हालत बेहद खराब है। दलितों में दो फीसदी से भी कम लोग उच्चशिक्षा प्राप्त कर पाते हैं तो मुस्लिमों में यह आंकड़ा केवल 2.1 फीसदी का है। भारत की ग्रामीण आबादी में केवल दो फीसदी लोग ही उच्च माध्यमिक शिक्षा के पार जा पाते हैं। ये आंकड़े भारत में उच्चशिक्षा की आम लोगों तक पहुंच की भयावह तस्वीर को प्रस्तुत करते हैं और दिखाते हैं कि हम जिन संस्थानों, बड़े कालेजों-विश्वविद्यालयों आदि को भारत के विकास के प्रमाण के रूप में पेश करने की इच्छा रखते हैं, वे देश की नब्बे फीसदी आबादी से बहुत दूर रहे हैं। Continue reading “विश्वविद्यालय, अंध राष्ट्रवाद और देशभक्ति : वैभव सिंह”

JNUTA Statement on JNU VC’s ‘Tank’ Talk

Following the bizarre idea, earlier mooted by retired army officials, now taken up by the Vice Chancellor of JNU, to install a tank on university campus, ostensibly to instill nationalism in the university community, the JNUTA has issued the following statement:

The JNUTA is amused by the JNU VC’s earnest desire that a tank be rolled onto JNU campus. It is surprising that Prof. Jagadesh Kumar can only be inspired to patriotism upon beholding instruments of war. This seems to be only a personal affliction, since the rest of the JNU community does not need these visual aids to feel love and concern for this land, its environment and all its peoples, whether in the armed services or elsewhere.

The JNUTA also hopes that the JNU VC will understand that developing what he believes is the correct affective attachment towards the Indian Army is not part of his job description. JNU cannot be made into a theatre of war. His statutory role is one of “maintaining and promoting the efficiency and good order of the University” and of upholding the JNU Act and Statutes. The full statement can be read here.

And THIS is how you deal with threats of defamation charges! The strange case(s) of Red FM and EPW

Red FM’s RJ Malishka features in a peppy video that went viral, mocking Mumbai’s Municipal Corporation (BMC) for the dismal lack of civic amenities and the havoc the rains can wreak in the city. In a lively parody of the popular Marathi folk song Sonu Tuza Mazyavar Bharosa Nahi Kay (Sonu, Don’t you Trust me?), she sang cheekily, Sonu, don’t you trust BMC?

Potholes, traffic jams, slow trains, all the woes of the Mumbaikar in the fabled rains of Western India.

But Shiv Sena which runs the BMC was not amused.  Continue reading “And THIS is how you deal with threats of defamation charges! The strange case(s) of Red FM and EPW”