Category Archives: Right watch

Decolonizing Thought – Beyond Indian/ Hindu Exceptionalism

A Decolonization mural in Oakland, USA, photo HiMYSYeD, Oakland Wiki

This post is prompted by a discussion that followed some remarks I had made on social media regarding the way in which a certain common sense that we may call ‘Hindu Nationalist’, had come to dominate the sensibilities of even those intellectuals in the Hindi world who otherwise might stand opposed to the Hindu Right. ‘Decolonizing’ has lately become a banner of the Hindu Right and for many otherwise secular Hindi intellectuals too, an occasion for an often strident anti-West rhetoric. Such a common sense assumes, simply by default, that the only “authentic” position of critique of the West is one framed by Hindu/ Indian exceptionalism. Needless to say, as I have argued at length in my recent book (Decolonizing Theory), the narrative that structures the imaginative world of many such modern Hindus is already a narrative produced by colonialism.

Continue reading Decolonizing Thought – Beyond Indian/ Hindu Exceptionalism

Why BJP Wants Meat Banned in Mathura

The BJP is imposing harmful dietary restrictions and refusing to accept that more Indians want to consume meat, fish and eggs for their nutritional benefits.

Mathura
Representational use only

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In 1902, the prolific British writer HG Wells delivered a philosophical speech titled “The Discovery of the Future” at the Royal Institution in London. Wells is often remembered for his “predictions”, for example, the approximate date when the second world war would begin. In this speech, he envisioned something else with equally significant ramifications—the collapse of the capitalist system. Wells also anticipated that a world of peace and plenty would follow in its wake.

What if someone, following Wells example, attempts a similar extrapolation for India? If anybody could foresee such things, what would they find lies ahead for the “biggest democracy” in the world?

In the absence of Wells, perhaps present-day events can be a map or guide to the future. For example, during recent Janamashtmi celebrations, Uttar Pradesh, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath announced that his government would ban meat and liquor in Mathura city. He said the meat-sellers and liquor dealers of the area could switch to selling milk. According to his government, a meat and liquor ban would help combine “modern technology” with the cultural and spiritual heritage of the region.

( Read the full article here)

Nationalism : Then and Now – Professor Mridula Mukherjee

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 democracydialogues@gmail.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 :

किसे है बेनक़ाब होने का डर? हिंदुत्व बनाम हिन्दू ‘जीवन-शैली’

ये हिंदुत्व है हिन्दू धर्म नहीं! गुजरात के मुख्यमंत्री नरेन्द्र मोदी शस्त्र पूजा में मग्न. AFP PHOTO/ SAM PANTHAKY

[यह लेख पहले जनवादी लेखक संघ की पत्रिका नया पथ के जनवरी-मार्च २०२१ अंक में प्रकाशित हुआ था. आगामी 11-12 सितम्बर को अमेरिका में होने जा रहे Dismantling Global Hindutva सम्मलेन से उद्वेलित हिंदुत्व के प्रचारक अब इस सम्मलेन को रद्द कराने की मुहीम में उतर चुके हैं. उनका चालाकी भरा तर्क यह है कि यह सम्मलेन हिन्दू-विरोधी है. इस सन्दर्भ में यह दोहराना बेहद ज़रूरी है कि हिंदुत्व विस्तारवादी फौजी तसव्वुर से लैस एक राजनीतिक विचारतंत्र जो हिन्दुओं के नाम पर हिंसात्मक राजनीती करता है मगर इसका हिन्दू धर्म या जीवन शैली से कोई सम्बन्ध नहीं है. इस वजह से इस लेख को यहाँ साझा किया जा रहा है.]

“समस्त राजनीति का हिन्दूकरण करो और हिन्दूतंत्र का सैन्यीकरण करो – तब हमारे हिन्दू राष्ट्र (नेशन) का पुनरुत्थान होना तय है, उसी तरह जैसे अंधेरी रात के बाद सुबह का आना अनिवार्य होता है”। – विनायक दामोदर सावरकर, 25 मई 1941 को अपने 59 वें जन्मदिन पर हिंदुतन्त्र (हिन्दूडम) के नाम संदेश।

“हमारी भुजायें एक ओर अमेरिका तक फैली थीं – कोलंबस के अमेरिका ‘आविष्कार’ से बहुत पहले – तो दूसरी ओर चीन, जापान, कम्बोडिया, मलय, श्याम, इंडोनेशिया और समस्त दक्षिण-पूर्व एशिया तक फैली हुई थीं, और उत्तर में मंगोलिया और साइबेरिया तक। हमारा शक्तिशाली राजनीतिक साम्राज्य इन दक्षिण-पूर्व एशियाई क्षेत्रों तक फैला था और 1400 वर्षों तक जारी रहा, अकेले शैलेन्द्र साम्राज्य 700 वर्षों तक फलता फूलता रहा – और चीन के विस्तार के खिलाफ़ चट्टान की तरह खड़ा रहा”। – माधव सदाशिव गोलवालकर, राष्ट्रीय स्वयंसेवक संघ के दूसरे सरसंघचालक, बँच ऑफ थॉट्स, विक्रम प्रकाशन, बंगलोर, 1968, पृ 9 

हिन्दुत्व-विचारतंत्र के इन दो महारथियों की ये उक्तियाँ पढ़ने के बाद आइए अब एक उद्धरण उस शख़्स का देखें जिसे हिंदुत्ववादी हड़पने की पुरज़ोर कोशिश किया करते हैं। ये शख़्स और कोई नहीं स्वामी विवेकानंद हैं। मुलाहिज़ा फरमाएं :

Continue reading किसे है बेनक़ाब होने का डर? हिंदुत्व बनाम हिन्दू ‘जीवन-शैली’

If Hindutva is dismantled, whom will it harm?

An upcoming conference in the USA, “Dismantling Global Hindutva”, organized by Indians in the USA, most of whom are legally “Hindus”, and supported by over 40 US universities, has provoked the ire of the Hindu Rashtravaadis there as well as in India. Conflating Hindutva with Hinduism is the first step. Based on this, the Hindu American Foundation claims this conference is “Hindu phobic”, that it will put the well-being of Hindu students and faculty at risk, and that “they may feel targeted or threatened, or face hostility or harassment” as a result of “the kinds of generalisations, misunderstandings, and ‘otherising’” the event will perpetuate.

Ho hum. Just another day in Hindu Rashtra-that-is-India then, for most of us “Hindus” who oppose the politics of Hindutva that promotes misunderstandings and otherises us, all the way to mob and media violence, lynchings and jail. It is from Hindutva that “Hindus” are most at risk in India today, not from any non-Hindu “Other”.

(Why these repeated quotation marks around “Hindu”? We will come to that).

An article in Firstpost uses words like “genocidal” and “xenophobic” to describe what this conference is going to be. The conference brochure shows “Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) figures being uprooted, roots and all, with the claw end of a hammer”, and this is “genocidal” according to the author. Showing the German Nazi Party being uprooted would amount to genocide too, in this understanding, perhaps? Since Hindutvavaadis are actively seeking co-victimhood with victims of anti-Semitism, as another article explicitly states, they might want to reconsider this second conflation, of the neo-fascist RSS with “Hindu”. This second article says the conference will “dehumanize Hindus everywhere” and asks indignantly if a conference titled “Dismantling Global Jewry” would be acceptable. Continue reading If Hindutva is dismantled, whom will it harm?

Hindutva is not Hinduism: Hindus for Human Rights

An upcoming conference in the USA titled Dismantling Hindutva is being attacked by the Hindu right-wing both in the US and India as “anti Hindu” and “racist”.  See for example, this link and this and this.

This post is a letter sent to American Universities supporting the conference by US-based HINDUS FOR HUMAN RIGHTS.

To: All universities and departments co-sponsoring the academic conference on Hindutva (Hindu nationalism) on September 10-12, 2021 

Re: We are Hindus who support academic freedom and the “Dismantling Global Hindutva” conference on September 10-12, 2021

We are writing to you on behalf of Hindus for Human Rights (HfHR), a two-year old advocacy organization that provides a platform for progressive Hindus to speak out in support of democratic freedoms and pluralism.

HfHR advocates for civil and human rights in South Asia and North America, rooted in the values of our faith: shanti (peace), nyaya (justice) and satya (truth). We provide a Hindu voice of resistance to all forms of bigotry and oppression based on one’s faith, color, caste, gender, or sexual orientation.

We also staunchly oppose the misappropriation of our Hindu faith by the ideology of Hindutva (also frequently referred to as Hindu supremacy, Hindu nationalism, etc.), whose foundational principle is to redefine over 200 million Muslim and Christian citizens of India as the ‘other,’ who do not legitimately belong and must therefore either accept second class citizenship or be displaced from their homeland. Continue reading Hindutva is not Hinduism: Hindus for Human Rights

Planted evidence and the Bhima Koregaon-Elgar Parishad 16 – Citizens’ statement demands immediate release

We, the undersigned, condemn the continued incarceration of the academics, cultural activists, human rights activists, lawyers, poets and trade unionists arrested in the Bhima Koregaon-Elgar Parishad case and unitedly demand their immediate release. After three years of media trial, harassment, raids and arrests of 16 persons, one of the arrested, Father Stan Swamy died on July 5th following wanton medical neglect in custody amounting to institutional murder.

Those who remain in custody include professors Anand Teltumbde, Hany Babu and Shoma Sen, cultural activists Jyoti Jagtap, Ramesh Gaichor and Sagar Gorkhe, writer and anti-caste activist Sudhir Dhawale, anti-displacement activist Mahesh Raut, lawyers Arun Ferreira, Surendra Gadling and Sudha Bharadwaj, human rights activists Gautam Navlakha, Rona Wilson and Vernon Gonsalves and poet Varavara Rao. Now, with the revelations in the Pegasus Project, it is clear that 8 of the 16 were under surveillance for several years before their arrest. Moreover, the Arsenal Consulting reports show how evidence was planted in the devices of at least two of the arrested. The revelations have unambiguously exposed the extent of illegal military-grade surveillance on the arrested, their families, colleagues and friends. Besides violating their privacy, the extraordinary measures taken to silence voices of dissent in the name of national security stands exposed.

Continue reading Planted evidence and the Bhima Koregaon-Elgar Parishad 16 – Citizens’ statement demands immediate release

Support Afghan women’s demand for a just peace guaranteeing the rights of all people

JOIN THE 1200 human rights and women’s rights defenders and civil society activists who have signed this petition.

Text of petition below. Link to sign the petition.

Women of Afghanistan demand a just peace that guarantees the rights of all people.

We, the true friends of Afghanistan and signatories of this open letter, declare our support for Afghan women’s demands expressed below, and join them to call on the United Nations, the government of Afghanistan and national and international actors to fulfill their obligations and undertake responsible measures that would lead to a just peace that protects the interests and rights of all the people of the country.

The women of Afghanistan have suffered through ruinous wars for more than 40 years. Their lives have been impacted by a war in which they have played no role, and which has resulted in in the loss of their human dignity, as well as their innocent sisters and mothers, spouses, children and young people, during a cycle of endless violence, sexual apartheid, kidnapping, rape, slavery, absolute poverty and injustice. Their houses have been destroyed, their children have become orphans and several generations of our people have been displaced in their own land, as well as in the regional states and the world-over.

Continue reading Support Afghan women’s demand for a just peace guaranteeing the rights of all people

Conceptualizing the Counter-Revolution in the Seventy-Fifth Year of Independence

[‘Parapolitics’ began on 16 January 2020 as a weekly column at the height of the anti-CAA movement. After eight weeks, it was made into a fortnightly column and now, eighteen months and 44 posts later,  as I get involved with a study of Marxisms in the ‘Global South’, beginning with this post, this column will now appear once a month, on the second Saturday of every month.]

The courageous National Dastak reporter Anmol Pritam was being forced by the demonstrators to chant their slogans. 
Image courtesy The News Minute

 

What happened at Jantar Mantar on 9 August – the anniversary of the Quit India movement – was not just violently anti-Muslim in the slogans raised; it was also symptomatic of the larger counter-revolutionary shift that has taken place in our politics. That Quit India or the ‘August revolution’ day was sought to be taken over as a final gesture of that grand victory that the Sangh Combine believes it has already won, is telling. It is telling also because it is a formation that studiously stayed away from the mainstream of the anticolonial struggle but now wants to take over that legacy and saffronize it. How the rally was organized and continued to be held despite the police claiming it had no permission to do so, does not remain so much of a mystery once you realize that the key organizers are Sangh/BJP leaders or parts of the larger network of terror associated with them. But that is another matter. It is important to recognize that incidents like these are but signs of a new stage in the ongoing counter-revolution where the Hindu Right is no longer content with claiming its own distinctiveness in opposing mainstream (Congress-led) nationalism but is out to make a determined bid to appropriate the entire legacy of that nationalism. The insistence, in recent times, on the national tricolour as a sign of its aggressive nationalism, is entirely of a piece with this attempt to occupy the mainstream.

Continue reading Conceptualizing the Counter-Revolution in the Seventy-Fifth Year of Independence

resisting the papa state? E Bull jet brothers or hadiya?

In the recent controversy over the arrest of the travel vloggers Ebin and Libin who rode high on popularity with lakhs of subscribers through their Youtube channel E Bull Jet, it is very hard not to side with the two young men. The flamboyant pair whose hugely popular travel — or ‘van life’ — videos have a massive following especially among male adolescents and youth — are school drop-outs and have a history of rising from severe social disadvantage — literally, of pulling themselves up by their own bootstraps. The two young men, despite their excesses, pull at your heartstrings. Their smile, their slang, their sense of excitement on the road, the innocent gawking — all of it looks disarmingly innocent. It is also true that the crime they committed was not major; nor is justice handed out evenly. That is, such crimes around vehicles and driving are not new and it is not at all clear if the powerful who commit such crimes are tackled in the same way. Therefore the video which showed the brothers being hauled into the police van was painful for many of us (including me) — Ebin wept aloud, “adikkalle saare! Njaan onnum cheithilla … kolapaathakiyeppole enne kondupokunnu….” (don’t beat me please, sir. I didn’t do anything wrong . … I am being taken away like a murderer). That despondent wail somehow refuses to get out of my head; that is why I need to write this.

Continue reading resisting the papa state? E Bull jet brothers or hadiya?

The Subjugated Subjects of a Free Country and The Creation of the New Colony: Dipankar Bhattacharya

Guest post by DIPANKAR BHATTACHARYA

This piece was originally published in Bangla in the Ananda Bazar Patrika and has been translated into English by Arundhati Ghosh

The 1857 Revolt, representational image courtesy TheHansIndia

“Freedom – you are a room in the garden, the song of the koel, the sun drenched leaves of the old banyan tree, the page of my book of poetry where I can write as I wish.” Poet Shamsur Rahman wrote this immortal poem Freedom You during the war of the independence of Bangladesh. It could be said that this poem that arose from deep within Bangladesh’s struggle for liberation is a universal manifesto of freedom. Bangladesh has crossed its 50th year of independence. And in India we are standing at the threshold of our 75th. But where is that song of the koel, that book of poetry where one can write anything one wants? The rally of death that we are witnessing during this Covid-19 era has left the koel woeful, the leaves of the banyan devoid of its sparkle and the pages of our book of poems imprisoned under the UAPA or sedition laws or subjected to the surveillance of the snooping Pegasus vision of conspirators passing for ministers.

Continue reading The Subjugated Subjects of a Free Country and The Creation of the New Colony: Dipankar Bhattacharya

SABARMATI ASHRAM IN DANGER – A SECOND ASSASSINATION? STATEMENT BY CONCERNED CITIZENS

This statement was issued by concerned citizens

Prevent Government takeover of Gandhian Institutions:

The Ashram
Gandhi’s Ashram at Ahmedabad, known as Sabarmati Ashram, is an unusual monument of international importance. It was Gandhi’s home from 1917 to 1930. He led the famous Dandi March from the Ashram and pledged not to return to the Ashram until independence was attained.

After the Salt March, Gandhiji disbanded the Ashram as a part of the freedom struggle in 1933. After Independence Gandhi’s associates and followers formed Sabarmati Ashram Preservation and Memorial Trust to protect the buildings and archival possessions of the Ashram for posterity. There were five more trusts under the Ashram. They conduct their activities independently. Sabarmati Ashram Preservation and Memorial Trust looks after the buildings including Hriday Kunj—the residence of Gandhi and Kasturba. Continue reading SABARMATI ASHRAM IN DANGER – A SECOND ASSASSINATION? STATEMENT BY CONCERNED CITIZENS

বিগ ব্রাদার সব দেখার চেষ্টা করলেও, ছোট ছোট লড়াইগুলো একদিন জয়ী হবেই : সুমন সেনগুপ্ত

Guest post by SUMAN SENGUPTO

Data hacking, representational image, courtesy DNA

এক গুপ্তচর এসে পড়েছে আমাদের জীবনে, যে  আমাদের সমস্ত গতিবিধি, কথোপকথনের ওপর নজর রাখছে। আজকে আর নতুন করে নিশ্চিত বলে দিতে হবে না, কে বা কারা এই গুপ্তচরবৃত্তি করেছে  এবং তাঁদের এই গুপ্তচরবৃত্তির উদ্দেশ্যই বা কি ?  কারণ, সংবাদপত্রের খবরের দৌলতে এই গুপ্তচরের নাম, কিভাবে কাজ করে তা মোটামুটি আজকে বেশীরভাগ মানুষের নখদর্পনে বা বলা ভালো মুঠোফোনের দর্পনে। মুঠোফোন বা মোবাইল ফোনের উল্লেখ করার কেন প্রয়োজন হলো? কারণ এবারের গুপ্তচর এসেছে অন্যভাবে, মোবাইল ফোনের মাধ্যমে । যে সামাজিক মাধ্যম নিয়ে আমরা এতো আত্মরতিতে ব্যস্ত সেই সামাজিক মাধ্যমও যে সরকারের অঙ্গুলিহেলন ছাড়া চলবে না, তার আভাস পাওয়া যাচ্ছে। যে প্রযুক্তি ব্যবহার করে আমরা কখনো কখনো আত্মতৃপ্তি লাভ করছি যে এই তো বেশ সরকারের বিরুদ্ধে কথা বলা হলো, সেই প্রযুক্তিই ব্যবহার করা হচ্ছে আমাদের প্রতিটি কথা শোনার জন্য এবং তা হচ্ছে এবং হয়ে চলেছে সেই মুঠোফোনের মধ্যে দিয়েই।

Continue reading বিগ ব্রাদার সব দেখার চেষ্টা করলেও, ছোট ছোট লড়াইগুলো একদিন জয়ী হবেই : সুমন সেনগুপ্ত

Hacking India’s Democracy – From Monitoring Metadata to Spying Real Time: C.P. Geevan

Guest post by CP GEEVAN

On June 18 (Sunday evening in India), freedom-loving people across the world were shocked by the revelations of how a highly sophisticated and expensive digital technology, named Pegasus, a spyware sold by Israeli company NSO Group, has been systematically abused for years to spy on journalists, human rights defenders, academics, businesspeople, lawyers, doctors, union leaders, diplomats, politicians and even several heads of states. Regimes in several countries continue to criminally deploy such technologies to suppress democratic rights, curtail human rights, and organise surveillance on a massive scale. Such technologies are military grade weapons and are recognised to be precisely that. It is developed and sold by the NSO Group, a private company supported by Israel. As per NSO, they sell licences only to agencies authorised by a national government and approved by the Israeli government. Although it is being referred to as a software or malware, the spying system consists of an elaborate set of arrangements including a secure supporting backend maintained by the NSO Group.

Continue reading Hacking India’s Democracy – From Monitoring Metadata to Spying Real Time: C.P. Geevan

Field report from protest against granite mining at Bodikonda: Chandra Sekhar

Guest post by Chandra Sekhar

All images courtesy the author

Background

Bodikonda is a monolithic stone hill in Lakshminarayanapuram village in Parvathipuram mandal in Vizianagaram district. This has been in the news on and off over the last two years or so, because local people have been protesting the lease given to private companies for mining colour granite, without their being consulted nor any sort of public hearing.

Three leases for quarrying coloured granite were granted and executed in favour of MSSS Srinivas for an extent of nine hectares, M Madhupriya for an extent of six hectares and Kishore Granites Pvt. Ltd. for another nine hectares ( total of 24.29 hectares) for a period of 20 years. This comprises almost 50% of the area of the total hill. These companies applied for a lease in 2010 to the Assistant Director of Mines and Geology, Vizianagaram, and new licences were given in December 2019.

Procedural Discrepancies Continue reading Field report from protest against granite mining at Bodikonda: Chandra Sekhar

A Poem For Umar, Khalid Saifi and Other Political Prisoners: Nabiya Khan

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 video

Continue reading A Poem For Umar, Khalid Saifi and Other Political Prisoners: Nabiya Khan

AMENDMENT TO CENTRAL CIVIL SERVICES PENSION RULES CURTAILS FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION OF RETIRED OFFICIALS: Constitutional Conduct Group

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

Concerned Historians Respond to Parliamentary Standing Committee on Education On History Textbooks

[We are publishing below the full response of Concerned Historians to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Education, regarding certain proposed changes.]

RESPONSE OF CONCERNED HISTORIANS On the

CALL FOR REVISIONS IN SCHOOL HISTORY BOOKS IN INDIA

To be shared with the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Education pertaining to school history books.

Date: 15th July 2021

We have recently learnt of representations being collected by the Department-related Parliamentary Standing Committee on Education, Women, Children, Youth and Sports with respect to:

a. Removing references to un-historical facts and distortions about our national heroes from the text books.

b. Ensuring equal or proportionate references to all periods of Indian history.

c. Highlighting the role of great historic women heroes, including Gargi, Maitreyi, or rulers like Rani of Jhansi, Rani Channamma, Chand Bibi, Zhalkari Bai etc. in school history books in India.

We place before the Committee certain observations and points of caution.

Textbook revisions: certain cautionary notes

It appears from the notification of the Parliamentary Standing Committee’s proceedings inviting responses that a consensus presumably exists on the presence of “distortions” in existing history school textbooks such as of the NCERT. On this point itself, we wish to draw the attention of the Hon’ble members to the fact that while scholarship grows and propels the corresponding need for periodic revision of textbooks; the use of the word “distortion”, as in this context, appears to be an unsubstantiated allegation that creates roadblocks for the initiation of a serious scholarly exercise. Opinions are being sought regarding “unhistorical facts and distortions about our national heroes” in the existing history textbooks without substantiation, which is unfortunate and also objectionable. 

Continue reading Concerned Historians Respond to Parliamentary Standing Committee on Education On History Textbooks

Governments Must Implement the Constitution, Not Religious Texts

Several courts have tried to reign in states bent on holding religious events during the pandemic. Judiciary must more proactively prevent them as the third wave approaches.

Constituion of india

Simple things need retelling when society is in a state of flux. The fact that India is a republic—has been one for more than 70 years—where sovereignty rests with the people and not with scriptures is one fact. That India runs by its Constitution and laws under it is another fact.

The Uttarakhand High Court reminded the state government of these facts when it objected to proposals to live-stream the historic Char Dham Yatra on the plea that the scriptures do not sanction it. The court rejected the petition, saying India is a democracy where the rule of law, not religious texts, govern.

( Read the full text here)

An open letter demanding action on the online targeting of Muslim women

A statement signed by 900 individuals and groups

We, the undersigned women’s rights groups and concerned individuals are outraged by the reprehensible targeting of Muslim women on GitHub, a free web platform, where Twitter handles, and photographs of Muslim women were uploaded with the explicit aim of directing sexualised hate and harm at these women. More than 80 women were profiled, their images were sought to be “auctioned” by soliciting users to take their pick on the “deal of the day”, on the basis of their identity and for their views. This is a conspiracy to target women by creating a database of those Muslim women journalists, professionals and students who were actively raising a voice on social media against right wing Hindutva majoritarianism. The intention is to silence their political participation.

This attempt to de-humanise and sexualise Muslim women is a systemic act of intimidation and harm. This is not the first time this has happened. Before Eid, similar cyber violence against Muslim women was organized by stealing pictures of Pakistani women from their social media handles.

This is a targeted hate campaign against Muslim women in India and abroad amounts to sexual harassment, criminal intimidation, and cyber stalking. It violates their right to privacy, which is a travelling right, and it is an act of censorship. It puts their life and liberty at risk.

This is a targeted campaign to regulate their political speech and political participation in democracy as full and equal citizens of this country. It is part of the project to push Muslim women out of public spaces, offline and online, by causing them harm and censoring their speech. Having witnessed the leadership and power of Muslim women in the anti-citizenship amendment act (CAA) movement, right wing Hindutva men have used social media as a political tool to deny Muslim women their right to lead our collective fight for secularism, peace and citizenship. Continue reading An open letter demanding action on the online targeting of Muslim women

Stan Swamy’s Custodial Murder – Joining the Dots From Santhal Hul To the Pathalgadi Movement

Fr. Stanislaus Lourduswamy aka Stan Swamy, image by Sarah Modak, courtesy Article 14

There are just no words left to express the anger and helplessness that overcame hundreds and thousands of people like me when they heard of the custodial murder of an ailing, frail, octogenarian, Fr Stanislaus Lourduswamy, known to the world as Stan Swamy. The various issues that arise from the virtual judicial abdication of responsibility has been powerfully articulated by former Delhi High Court Chief Justice, AP Shah and one can hardly add to that. What is perhaps the most shocking is not that the judiciary abdicated in observing its duty of upholding the Constitutional rights of a citizen but that it seems to have lost even the minimum grace and human concern.

“Medical reports taken on record clearly showed that Fr Swamy had the degenerative Parkinson’s disease, and could not even do basic tasks, such as holding a spoon, writing, walking or bathing. Indeed, the court noted that he had a severe hearing problem, and was physically very weak. But even that did not move them. Every regular bail application that was filed by his lawyers was unequivocally rejected.” 

This is shocking beyond words – or used to be once upon a time. But as each day of this regime passes, our threshold of taking shock increases by leaps and bounds. Are we really surprized now, that while this was how they treated Stan Swamy, a goon who had just the other day openly called for mob violence and “shooting down anti-nationals” has now been promoted to the Central ministry?

Continue reading Stan Swamy’s Custodial Murder – Joining the Dots From Santhal Hul To the Pathalgadi Movement