A Revolution Called Chandrashekhar Azad ‘Ravan’ – the Republic on Trial

देख ज़िन्दां के परे, रंग-ए-चमन, जोश-ए-बहार

रक्स करना है तो पॉंव की ज़ंजीर न देख – मजरूह सुल्तानपुरी

Look –  beyond the the prison walls, the brilliance of flowers, the vitality of spring

If you must dance, ignore the chains that bind your feet – Majrooh Sultanpuri

Today, the scared Republic that has imprisoned its young idealistic fighter son, Chandrashekhar, is on trial. The Republic, scared of its own offspring, stands in the dock. This Republic Day, we must all answer how it came to pass that a gang of adventurers and marauders simply took it over, submitted it to their command, while all the elderly, wise men and women, watched. Today, when the Republic bondage we must seek answers from all those who watched helplessly – or self-righteously – as marauders took it over.

It is official now. A radiogram from the Deputy Secretary, Home, Govt of Uttar Pradesh to the Superintendent, Saharanpur District Jail, dated 23 January 2018, confirms the slapping of charges under the National Security Act, on Bhim Army founder, Chandrashekhar Azad ‘Ravan’. Pradeep Narwal, Coordinator, Committee for the Defence of Bhim Army, who met Chandrashekhar in jail yesterday, underlined how the Karni Sena activists attacking school buses and vandalizing schools were being allowed the freedom to do so while Chandrashekhar, responsible for setting up and running of schools (see the video below), is being held in jail for months and has now been slapped with charges under NSA. “Karni Sena are apparently deshbhakts and Shekher bhai and Bhim Army are ‘terrorists’ in the perverted logic of this government,” he said.


In conversations with friends and sympathizers who have been meeting him over the past months, including Pradeep Narwal, Chandrashekhar ‘Ravan’ has been expressing a fear that many of us have also had, independently, for some time now: that the government wants to actually get rid of him – just as judge Loya was, it now transpires. Continue reading “A Revolution Called Chandrashekhar Azad ‘Ravan’ – the Republic on Trial”

From Nangeli to Rima Kallingal: Who are fit to claim Nangeli’s Legacy?


The recent reference to how the distribution of food in Malayali homes is often skewed against women by the actor Rima Kallingal in a recent talk has sparked off yet another round of attacks against feminists in Kerala. It is interesting to see how this seems to have brought together men of all political stripes and colours (may I say, from pro- and anti-Hadiya camps!). The attacks range from mild smirking to outright abuse, but are equally revealing of the fear of women’s feminist self-assertion. So even those men who supported Hadiya’s decision to choose her faith and community find it hard to swallow when women start laying bare the injustices of the ubiquitous patriarchal family, fearing that there may be an implicit choice in this criticism, to move away from the patriarchal family, and indeed, craft other non-patriarchal forms of intimate connection and commitment. After all, whatever be the community, the patriarchal family is acknowledged by patriarchal authorities everywhere as the foundation Continue reading “From Nangeli to Rima Kallingal: Who are fit to claim Nangeli’s Legacy?”

Nehru, Ambedkar and Challenge of Majoritarianism

Image result for nehru ambedkar

( Photo courtesy : The hoot)

(To be published in the special issue of ‘Janata’)


The spectacle of what is called religion, or at any rate organised religion, in India and elsewhere, has filled me with horror and I have frequently condemned it and wished to make a clean sweep of it. Almost always it seemed to stand for blind belief and reaction, dogma and bigotry, superstition, exploitation and the preservation of vested interests.

– Toward Freedom: The Autobiography of Jawaharlal Nehru (1936), pp. 240–241.

If Hindu Raj does become a fact, it will no doubt, be the greatest calamity for this country. No matter what the Hindus say, Hinduism is a menace to liberty, equality and fraternity. On that account it is incompatible with democracy. Hindu Raj must be prevented at any cost.

– Ambedkar, ‘Pakistan or Partition of India’, p. 358.


India’s slow ushering into a majoritarian democracy is a matter of concern for every such individual who still believes in pluralism, democracy, equality and a clear separation of religion and politics. The way people are being hounded for raising dissenting opinions, for eating food of their choice or entering into relationships of their own liking or celebrating festivals according to their own faith is unprecedented. The situation has reached such extremes that one can even be publicly lynched for belonging to one of the minority religions or for engaging in an activity which is considered to be ‘suspicious’ by the majority community.

No doubt there is no direct harm to the basic structure of the Constitution, its formal structure remains intact, de jure India does remain a democracy as well as a republic, but de facto democracy has slowly metamorphosed into majoritarianism and the sine qua non of a republic—that its citizens are supreme—is being watered down fast. It does not need underlining that this process has received tremendous boost with the ascent of Hindutva supremacist forces at the centrestage of Indian politics. Continue reading “Nehru, Ambedkar and Challenge of Majoritarianism”

Development Outcomes And Politics in Gujarat: Atul Sood

Guest Post by ATUL SOOD

Development is back in focus after the endless noise about cow protection, nationalism, Hindu-Muslim, janeus, Shiv Bhakti, Gorakhpur governance, casteism, love jihad, enemy nation and the rest. Why this talk about development now? Perhaps the dissent and protests on the ground by various sections in Gujarat in the last few years have compelled even the diehards to acknowledge (Mr. Amit Shah recently said ‘It is not my point that the issues raised in those agitations are not an issue’), that something is deeply problematic about the “Gujarat Model of Development”. The ASHA workers have taken to the streets demanding a living wage, regularized working hours and social security; dalits are no longer silent about the violence, indignity and intimidation heaped upon them; displaced families from Sardar Sarovar Dams have occupied streets seeking rehabilitation; farmers are demanding reprieve from a crisis to which they have had no hand in creating; tribals and evicted farmers are protesting against showpiece infrastructure projects which have meant their displacement and destruction of human habitations; and the youth from cultivating castes are seeking guarantee for jobs.  The list is continuing.  

Continue reading “Development Outcomes And Politics in Gujarat: Atul Sood”

The Indian Constitution too was Demolished Along With Babri Masjid 25 Years Ago

Twenty five years ago, on 6 December 1992, the structure of Babri Masjid was brought down by a mob of vandals, presided over by the top leadership of the BJP/RSS/VHP, as the Congress government led by prime minister Narasimha Rao looked on benignly. As did the Supreme Court before which a commitment was made by the Kalyan Singh (BJP) government in Uttar Pradesh – to the effect that nothing would be allowed to happen to the structure of the mosque.

Journalist Sajeda Momin, covering the demolition, recalls the scene thus,

I can still see the thousands of saffron-clad ‘kar sevaks’ clambering atop the 16th century mosque and pounding it with shovels, iron rods, pickaxes and anything they could lay their hands on. I can hear the screeching of Sadhvi Uma Bharti egging them on shouting “ek dhakka aur do, Babri Masjid tod do” through the microphones from atop the specially-built watchtower for the BJP/RSS/VHP leadership. I can visualize the three domes of the mosque collapsing inwards one by one at intervals of roughly an hour on that cold, wintery Sunday afternoon.

Everyone knew who were the dramatis personae at each level – and practically every bit of evidence that would ever have been required exists, captured in videos and photographs. Our present prime minister was said to be  one of the key organizers of the of the Rath Yatra that led up to the demolition and can be seen holding the microphone in his  hands in the photograph below.

Rath Yatra – precursor to the demolition, image courtesy Quora.com

Worse was to follow the demolition. The  demolition of the structure of the mosque was over that day but the process of the demolition of the Indian Constitution that had begun with what was called the ‘Ram janmabhoomi movement’ continued. By ‘Constitution’ I do not simply mean the book that embodies the law of the land but rather the very weave that came to constitute Indian society as a result of the new contract that the document called the Constitution embodied. Constitution, therefore in a triple sense. The document called the Constitution too was not merely a book of laws; it was rather, the only existing, largely agreed upon, vision of a modern India. It was a vision which was put in place through the long process of struggles, debates and contestations over the long decades of the anticolonial movement and finally given shape in, in the Constituent Assembly. There was nothing benign or innocuous about it – every bit of it had to be achieved through a fight. And yet, in the end, that was the document that embodied the vision of modern India. The only political current that stood far away from both the anticolonial struggle and had no role in the creation of this vision is the political force that rules India today.

The RSS and its numerous offshoots were neither fighting the British nor joining in the anti-caste and anti-untouchability struggles through the period since they came into existence in the mid-1920s. No wonder leaders of the Sangh combine think the anti-colonial/ national struggle was about cow-protection. That they neither subscribed to the anti-British agenda nor to the anti-caste agenda around which struggles of that period took shape, is not just a matter of historical record but is also visible in the way its leaders and ranks conduct their politics today. Every single step taken by the Sangh leaders is a step out of sync with the vision of the future spelt out by the social contract of modern India. That the Sangh attributes this vision to the Congress is an expression of its own illiteracy about the diverse forces in struggle throughout that period.

Even though it is conducted in the name of Hindus, there is nothing ‘Hindu’ about its agenda. Sangh and Sanghism is the name of a malignant political machine that seeks to destroy the very body of society in the name of an ancient past. That is the political machine we confront today. That is the political machine that we must fight today with all our vigour.

What’s in a Name? The Demolition of ‘Babri Masjid’, the Name and the Mosque: Hilal Ahmed

Babri-Masjid – Before the Demolition, image courtesy Tehelka.com

The gradual erasure of the words ‘Babri Masjid’ from our everyday memory actually began in 1986, when the Hindu community was granted the exclusive right to worship there. This happened without any regard ownership disputes the and illegal conversion of this mosque into a temple in 1949.

This story of the dispute itself is disputable. It is imperative to revisit three interesting moments, which no one talks of these days.

The 1949 moment

On the night of 23 December 1949, a group of local Hindus entered the mosque and installed the idols of Lord Ram inside it. Although the police filed an FIR in which the building is clearly defined as a functional mosque, the local administration took charge of the building, and without removing the idols from the mosque space, declared it a legally “disputed site”. Read the full article here


An open letter to Brinda Karat: why do female supporters of the Kerala CPIM spew such venom at Hadiya?

Dear Comrade

I can hardly describe the joy and relief I felt reading your piece on the Hadiya case in the Hindu yesterday. By now I am nearly deaf from the cacophony of misogyny, islamophobia, and sheer short-sighted rage that CPM supporters on Facebook are unleashing against this young woman.

Your voice of sanity, Comrade, is therefore a great restorative. If not for your writing, one could have well thought that the CPM was nothing more than a bunch of short sighted, power hungry, strategisers, whose total lack of ethics and values is covered up by a vapid, outdated rationalism and an equally problematic liberalism. You refuse to condemn Hadiya for choosing Islam. You acknowledge that she is brave. You unequivocally reject the father and other minions of patriarchy. You rightly criticise state patriarchy evident in the Supreme Court. Unlike many CPM supporters here, you have no illusions about the times we live in; you are clearly aware that the NIA is not something which will spare us if we stay good. Importantly, you put paid to the idea that the High Court judgement that sanctioned her illegal custody was justified — an idea assiduously nurtured by certain public figures allied with the CPM against religious Muslims. Comrade, thank you again for being so forthright and in the face of snarling islamophobes in your own ranks actually gunning for the voice you raised against her illegal custody long back.

Continue reading “An open letter to Brinda Karat: why do female supporters of the Kerala CPIM spew such venom at Hadiya?”