Category Archives: Scams

Fears and Furies of Online (Mis)education – Lockdown and Beyond: Maya John

Guest post by MAYA JOHN

Under the condition of lockdown while we are confronted with images and accounts of the suffering of the labouring poor, and all around us there appears to be a pervasive social chaos, in our universities students and teachers are supposed to return to an atomized life condition, and essentially pursue academic work as if all is normal. Teachers and students are expected to simply ignore wider public responsibilities and recoil to their private window to online teaching-learning. The diktats of university bureaucracies that have been issued in the midst of tremendous socio-economic crisis reduce teachers to a role akin to those of musicians who continued to entertain on the sinking Titanic. Now, after the formalities of so-called online education have been fulfilled, a specter of online examinations haunts the wider student community.

Disappearance of education in the online mode

The pronouncements of Delhi University (DU) regarding online examinations for its final year students of undergraduate and postgraduate (Masters) courses, have added to the anxieties of large number of students and teachers, who have been grappling with a disrupted semester in the wake of the lockdown, and the stupendous challenges of online teaching-learning. More or less, institutions of higher education across the country are facing this predicament. The grim situation warrants a close scrutiny of the concerns of teachers and students about e-learning and online examinations.

Continue reading Fears and Furies of Online (Mis)education – Lockdown and Beyond: Maya John

Migrant Workers, COVID- 19 and our Collective Indifference: Anindya Sekhar Purakayastha and Mursed Alam

Guest post by ANINDYA SEKHAR PURAKAYASTHA and MURSED ALAM

Critical opinions described India as the ‘Republic of Hunger’or as the ‘Republic of Caste’ and now the post-Corona plight of countless migrant workers makes us want to describe it as the Republic of Indifference. Lakhs of migrant workers along with their family members are stuck at different corners of the country, unfed, mistreated and uncared. Recent images of migrant workers flocking to Bandra station in Maharashtra, with hopes of resumption of train services taking them home and the subsequent police action to disperse them was watched and commented by all of us. Most reactions were emotive and anguish ridden but that have little impact on the ground situation in which these migrants are forced to live during this lockdown. It is true that some NGOs and various philanthropic organizations and governmental aids have to a certain extent catered to their needs but their misery demands more than mere empathy or selective mercy. They need concrete action on the ground. It is astounding to see the Government of India announcing the lockdown on 25 March without having any concrete action plan for these countless migrant workers. This completely betrays the government`s indifference to their sufferings. As if we take them and their sufferings for granted. Earlier some migrants were packed off in over-crowded buses with no money and in Delhi migrant workers were stranded in a bus station in large numbers, rendering them more vulnerable to the infection threat. By all means the COVID 19 crisis has once again proved that they are the Rejects of India. They are mere numbers, and we club them under one official category of “Migrants”, they are not human beings, a mere category of the Reject, who are left out to fend for themselves. We, armchair intellectuals and the moneyed class securely ensconced in our comfort zone, guaranteed of our salaries and jobs, passed off social media comments. The self-appointed radical fringe among us called for the closure of all other activities like educational studies as migrants are suffering but all these predictable reactions boiled down to nothing when it comes to forcing the government to come down to the street and adopt concrete steps to mitigate the traumas of these suffering faces who are away from homes and family.

Continue reading Migrant Workers, COVID- 19 and our Collective Indifference: Anindya Sekhar Purakayastha and Mursed Alam

‘आधार’ न बचा, न मरा, बचा केवल मदमस्त सफ़ेद हाथी : राजेन्द्र चौधरी

Guest post by RAJINDER CHAUDHARY

Aadhar for Hanumanji
Aadhar for Hanumanji, image courtesy Aaaj Tak

उच्चतम न्यायालय के बहुमत ने ‘आधार’ पर दिये गए हालिया फैसले में सरकारी योजनाओं, सब्सिडी इत्यादि का लाभ लेने के लिए आधार अनिवार्य करने के सरकारी फैसले को सही ठहराया है। इस के साथ ही आयकर दाता के लिए भी आधार अनिवार्य कर दिया है। इस के अलावा बाकी जगह इस के प्रयोग को अवैध ठहरा दिया है; अब न मोबाइल फोन और न बैंक खातों के लिए यह ज़रूरी रहेगा। न निजी कंपनियाँ इसे मांग या प्रयोग कर पाएँगी। यह सब अब बच्चा बच्चा जानता है। सवाल यह है कि इस परिस्थिति में अब आधार का क्या प्रयोजन बचा है?
सरकार ने अदालत में आधार को कर-चोरी, काले-धन और आतंकवाद के खिलाफ लड़ाई और राष्ट्रीय सुरक्षा के लिए एक सशक्त हथियार के तौर पर प्रस्तुत किया है (बहुमत समेत तीनों फैसलों की एक संयुक्त फाइल का पृष्ठ 1095-6)। काले-धन के खिलाफ लड़ाई के लिए बैंक खातों और पैन को आधार से जोड़ना अनिवार्य किया गया था। आतंकवाद से लड़ने एवं राष्ट्रीय सुरक्षा के लिए मोबाइल फोन के लिए आधार अनिवार्य किया गया था। अब जब बैंक खातों और मोबाइल फोन के लिए आधार अनिवार्य नहीं रहा, तो अब आधार इन दोनों उद्देश्यों की पूर्ति के लिए किसी काम का नहीं रहा। लोगों के छद्म नाम से कई-कई खाते चलते रहेंगे और काले धंधे का कारोबार जैसे अब तक चलता रहा है, वैसे ही चलता रहेगा। आयकर दाता के लिए आधार अनिवार्य करने से काले धंधे और काली कमाई पर कोई खास फर्क नहीं पड़ेगा। अदालत के आधार को वैध ठहराने वाले एक जज ने भी अपने फैसले में कहा है कि बैंक खाता और पैन कार्ड दोनों का लिंक होना ही प्रभावी होगा (अकेला पैन कार्ड नहीं; इस लिए उन्होने बैंक खातों के लिए भी आधार को वैध ठहराया है हालांकि अल्पमत होने के चलते उन के फैसले का यह अंश प्रभावी नहीं होगा (पृष्ठ 55 माननीय जज अशोक भूषण के फैसले का/पृष्ठ 1103 तीनों फैसलों की संयुक्त फाइल का)।
Continue reading ‘आधार’ न बचा, न मरा, बचा केवल मदमस्त सफ़ेद हाथी : राजेन्द्र चौधरी

How the Supreme Court gave up on Democracy in Karnataka: Bobby Kunhu

Guest post by BOBBY KUNHU

There is all around jubilation in the anti-BJP, particularly the Congress camp that the Supreme Court has cut short the time given to Yediyurappa by the Governor to prove his majority from 15 days to 24 hours. This jubilation is extremely myopic and self serving and is in no way rooted in the tall claims that the Congress has been making about trying to save the Constitution. All the Supreme Court order does is reduce the window of opportunity for the BJP to indulge in horse trading and increase the chances of the Congress-JDS combine to keep their flock together and win the assembly – and also substantially reduce the resort costs.

Continue reading How the Supreme Court gave up on Democracy in Karnataka: Bobby Kunhu

Civil Disobedience under Democracy: The Case of Boycott of Centralised Compulsory Attendance in JNU: Tejal Khanna

Guest post by TEJAL KHANNA

It is often advised that civil disobedience in the form of breaking a law must not be practiced under a democracy. It is because democracy by giving the space for open discussion prevents a situation wherein people are compelled to think of civil disobedience. Moreover, if citizens develop faith in civil disobedience then that only undermines the rule of law. Such an act doesn’t strengthen democracy but rather helps in diminishing its ethos. People must be discouraged to break laws because in a democracy, it is they who elect their representatives through free and fair elections. These representatives then make laws to which open disobedience must not be practiced. Citizens can also vote for change of leadership in the subsequent election cycle, if they feel their representatives have been incompetent. However, while these provisions fulfil the conditions of a well functioning procedural democracy, what recourse do citizens have, when their representatives don’t act in the interest of the governed continuously but function in an autocratic manner? What if laws are made without following the spirit of democracy? Does that really result in making a substantive democracy?

Continue reading Civil Disobedience under Democracy: The Case of Boycott of Centralised Compulsory Attendance in JNU: Tejal Khanna

The True Bargain : How Dr. Ram Rahim Singh Insaan Defined His Time

[ Random notes made in the wake of the conviction of Dr. Baba Ram Rahim Singh Ji Insaan of Dera Saccha Sauda for the offense of rape in Panchkula, Haryana, with some attention paid to the testimonials of his close friends. ] Continue reading The True Bargain : How Dr. Ram Rahim Singh Insaan Defined His Time

“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.

Open Letter to the Board Members of the Sameeksha Trust

 

Following is the text of the open letter by members of the EPW Community addressed to Sameeksha Trust

As long-standing well-wishers and members of the intellectual community served by the EPW, we are appalled and dismayed by the recent events leading to the abrupt resignation of the Editor, Paranjoy Guha Thakurta.

We are distressed that the Board of the Sameeksha Trust has insisted that the Editor retract an article published in the journal, and is preparing to introduce new norms for the Board-Editor relationship and appoint a co-editor.  It is obvious that, taken together, these actions (mentioned by the Editor in interviews to the press and not denied in the statement issued by the Trust) would force any self-respecting editor to resign.  By failing to distinguish between internal issues of procedural propriety in Board-Editor relationship from the much larger question of the EPW’s public reputation for integrity, the Board of the Sameeksha Trust has dealt a strong blow to the journal’s credibility. Continue reading Open Letter to the Board Members of the Sameeksha Trust

Who will get the hot roti in the Delhi assembly elections?

My friend Guddi has a great story about a Gujjar wedding she attended recently in Ghaziabad. It was a typically chaotic event, marked accurately by the swirling crowds around the dinner stalls. If Gujjar weddings are chaotic and the dinner doubly so, the scene around the tandoor is triply compounded chaos. Barely concealed competition amongst overmuscled Gujjar men in overtight pants for that precious hot roti ensures that none but the most Hobbesian men remain, circling the tandoor like hungry wolves, periodically thrusting their plate forward like fencing champions and shouting obscenities at the harried servers. In such a heart-stopping scenario, a young server had as Guddi recounts, figured out the formula to keep everybody from killing each other (or him). As soon as the roti would be pulled out of the tandoor, seductively golden brown and sizzling, this man would hold it high up with his tongs so everybody could see, then in an elaborate dance-like ritual, touch each of the empty extended plates in front of him with the roti, and finally, in a mysterious but authoritative decision, place it respectfully on a randomly selected plate. Repeat with every single roti that emerged from the tandoor. A hushed silence followed by nervous laughter followed every such flourish.

Continue reading Who will get the hot roti in the Delhi assembly elections?

Slimes Group Vice-Chairman Ameer Jain accused of molesting SOI employee Aaj Faker Shah? Breaking Faking News: Shehla Rashid

Guest Post by Shehla Rashid

Mar 21, Delhi: In a shocking revelation that has triggered panic amongst the media fraternity, renowned media tycoon, Ameer Jain, who is Vice-Chairman of the prestigious Parrot, Caveman & Co. Ltd, has been accused of sexual harassment by an employee of The Slimes of India newspaper, namely Aaj Faker Shah. Parrot, Caveman & Co. Ltd. (PCCL) is the group that owns Slimes of India, Slimes Now, Economic Slimes, Radio Tirchi, Movies Now and Then, Dhoom, Navbharat Slimes, Mumbai Broken Mirror and numerous other media outlets.

After the sexual harassment case filed by an employee of a major news magazine against its high profile editor some years ago, this is the most high-profile case of sexual harassment at the workplace in the media fraternity and is likely to result in a public spectacle, as the complainant, Aaj Faker Shah, has taken to Twitter to publicly make serious accusations of sexual assault against Jain. Normally, in cases of sexual harassment, the complainant must be accorded due anonymity. However, Shah reasons that he was forced to take this extreme step because the Slimes Group, in total violation of the norms prescribed by the Sexual Harassment at the Workplace Act (2013), sat on his complaint, victimised him for speaking out against Jain and even threatened to sack him. This reflects the state of implementation of the Workplace Harassment Law, rules for which were notified in 2014. Continue reading Slimes Group Vice-Chairman Ameer Jain accused of molesting SOI employee Aaj Faker Shah? Breaking Faking News: Shehla Rashid

A Small Matter of Security – Holding the Guilty Accountable for What Happened in Ramjas College on the 22nd of February: Shafey Danish

This is a guest post by SHAFEY DANISH

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Ramjas students and faculty held hostage inside campus by ABVP cadre

The violence that gripped Ramjas College on the 21st and 22nd of this month is now national news. We heard belligerent slogans by ABVP members of ‘chappal maro saalon ko’ (beat them with slippers), we saw students being chased on the campus, and we saw students being beaten up. All this culminated in a situation where students and teachers were held captive for over five hours within the campus premises. Let me emphasize that this violence was completely unprovoked.

On the 22nd of February, some of the students who were simply sitting with their friends were attacked. The police came and formed a cordon around them. Others joined the students in a gesture of solidarity. Teachers joined them to ensure that the students were not assaulted. The police cordon became their prison for the next five hours. And even then they were not safe.

They were repeatedly assaulted, threatened, and abused. All of this happened in front of their teachers and, more importantly, in front of the police, who, as is well known by now, did not do anything substantial. They could have maintained the cordon around the protesters, arrested those who were repeatedly carrying out the assaults, or – at the very least – prevented the attackers from coming back in (they had left for some time to attack the protest going on outside). But they did not. Whether this was because they were under pressure or because they were complicit is besides the point. The point is that students and teachers remained at the mercy of their attackers for over five hours.

But on the same day something far more ominous was also going on.

Continue reading A Small Matter of Security – Holding the Guilty Accountable for What Happened in Ramjas College on the 22nd of February: Shafey Danish

The story of the Indian budget: Where the camera failed? Muhammed Shafeeque CM

Despite the controversies of demonetization, the central government has again succeeded in deftly hijacking the minds of Indian citizens through a riveting speech made by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley. The budget seemed to be especially important given third quarter statistics which are filled with drawbacks of the demonetization policy. Thus we had a budget speech completely focused on digitalization of a country where the ‘digital divide’ stubbornly persists. As the budget theme (Transform, Energize, and Clean) attempted to glorify existing conditions, there were unsurprisingly no transformations in the overall economic framework except the expected tax reduction. In the zeal for “energizing”, the budget had clean forgotten the needs of the informal sector including agricultural sector. Even though the government provocatively claimed that it had cleaned up black money, it revealed no data regarding the amount of black money actually mopped up from the market.

Continue reading The story of the Indian budget: Where the camera failed? Muhammed Shafeeque CM

University Administration Trying to Precipitate Crisis: JNUTA

We are reproducing a statement issued by JNUTA on 19 February 2017, on the situation in the university and the administration’s attempts to create a crisis where there is none.

The Jawaharlal Nehru University Teachers Association is deeply distressed at the continuing impasse in the University. Pursuant to its appeal on 13 February to the Vice-Chancellor to initiate a dialogue with the students, JNUTA has through the last week requested a meeting with him to discuss the situation on campus, but has not even received the courtesy of a reply. It has also spoken daily to the students worried about their future and that of the university about the concerns that the teachers, staff, and officers have at restoring the smooth functioning of the University administration building. Continue reading University Administration Trying to Precipitate Crisis: JNUTA

Demonetization, ‘Financial Inclusion’ and the Great ‘Unbanked’

A Prologue

There is a lot of talk these days about ‘exclusion’ – which is almost unquestioningly assumed to be a bad thing. The corollary to this understanding of exclusion is that all inclusion is necessarily good. One hears a lot about ‘financial inclusion’ these days,  which truth be told, makes me shudder. There is thus a lot of angst expressed these days, especially by the rich and powerful, over the ‘financial exclusion’ of the masses. Here is the basic argument (read the full article, disowned by the edit department, here):

Inclusive growth would mean that all sections of society benefit from economic prosperity. A key metric for inclusion is ‘financial inclusion’ i.e. the access to banking services and affordable financial products such as bank accounts, loans, and deposits for all individuals and businesses. When the poorest of the poor have access to credit and savings facilities, this translates to their financial security. They can grow larger businesses, manage consumption and household expenses better and plan for shocks. The standard of living improves and poverty falls, allowing people to contribute more to the economy as well.

Remember, however, before we proceed:

(i) That in 1997, the Asian financial crisis that wiped out the hard earned life-savings of millions of people, in one fell swoop, was an instance of financial inclusion.

(ii) That it was the banks that were fully responsible for the crises across the USA and Europe, 2008 onward. That the Occupy Wall Street movement was basically a movement against the  robbery of ordinary people’s money saved in banks by the banks, who on top of everything wanted to be bailed out with tax payers’ money.

(iii) That very recently Iceland has had to jail 26 bankers responsible for the 2008 financial crisis, “for crimes ranging from insider trading to fraud, money laundering, misleading markets, breach of duties and lying to the authorities”.

(iv) That one of the major reasons India escaped the worst effects of that crisis was because effectively 70 percent of its population still lies outside the banking and financial sector. Of course, the other important difference with the Western capitalist economies was that India’s banks were still largely in the public sector. In other words, banks do not only do what they and the economists say they do. Banks play with the hard-earned savings of the relatively poor, often simply handing handing them over to predator corporations and then writing off!

The Demonetization Gamble

A lot has already been said by now on the Modi government’s decision to demonetize Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes. Economists and economic analysts from the Left-wing Prabhat Patnaik to others like  World Bank Chief Economist and former advisor to the Indian government, Kaushik Basu and journalist Swaminathan Aiyar have expressed serious doubts about both the rationale and feasibility of the move.  The point has been effectively made by them and others like Arvind Kejriwal (who have been centrally concerned with the issue of corruption and ‘black money’ for a long time now), that this measure does not touch the real big players in the game of black and unaccounted money. Big corporate sharks don’t need to go the ‘black money’ route because government policy itself is written by them and everything they do is made ‘legal’ either in advance, or retrospectively, because the government is in their pockets. Of course illegal activities even at those high levels often go on nevertheless, because the power-corporate elite has become so used to the idea that nothing really matters in this country – that everything they want is theirs. And in any case, the real big money lies deposited in Swiss banks or in circulation elsewhere, in other forms. Continue reading Demonetization, ‘Financial Inclusion’ and the Great ‘Unbanked’

Modi’s Demonetization, Black Money and Surveillance: Baidurya Chakrabarti

Guest post by BAIDURYA CHAKRABARTI

  • The demonetization drive of Modi is neither new in content nor in form. In India, it has been done earlier by Morarji Desai; the initial conversion to Euro in the European Union happened within a month’s span. Currency is routinely taken out of circulation. What is significant about Modi’s demonetization is the amount of sensation he has generated out of an otherwise insignificant move. What is routinely done through phasing out denominations is being done in an extremely abrupt manner. He is dressing up a withdrawal and issuing of currency notes as a revolutionary move, and it is being executed in the manner more suited to currency change. What we need to thus ask ourselves is this: why is a routine monetary policy being enacted in this—which I shall later call ‘terroristic’—manner? Clearly, the answer is not economic; even the government does not pretend it to be a strictly economic issue (when they harp on the ‘terror’ factor).

(But before we move on, an aside. This demonetization exposes how the nostalgia for socialist development has fuelled the rise of Modi. Disenchantment with neoliberalism has produced an obscene amount of nostalgia for the pre-liberalization days among the Indian middle class, especially among the left-leaning ones. However, now that a gesture right out of those hoary days have returned to our world, it turns out to be a nightmare.)

  • Let us state the obvious things first: demonetization will do next to nothing to the so-called ‘black money’, which are routinely converted into fixed assets or foreign currency. This move dis-incentivizes hoarding of cash, but not speculation, all sorts of accounting practices that can produce the so-called ‘black money’ while bypassing the level of cash transaction altogether. Demonetization is simply an old-school, brute-force monetary policy to curb hyperinflation. The Head of European Central Bank in Europe and Larry Summers, US treasury secretary, has proposed demonetization of their high-currency notes this year. But none of them dream of doing it within a notice of 4 hours!

Continue reading Modi’s Demonetization, Black Money and Surveillance: Baidurya Chakrabarti

The Cult of the Angry Pointed Finger, or How I learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Father

The recent order by the I&B Ministery to NDTV India to suspend broadcast for 24 hours drew a range of reactions from outrage to bewilderment. The supporters of the ruling party were of course triumphant – Subhash Chandra of Zoo, er sorry Zee News was so excited he wrote a whole article on this. But even outside the partisan responses, many well-meaning self-declared neutral janta declared that national security is not a matter to be trifled with, and that it was right for the government to admonish NDTV. Wait, ADMONISH?! Never mind that the government’s allegation of NDTV having compromised national security simply doesn’t survive a fact-check. Here is how the largest section of (English-speaking, online) popular opinion sees it.

This token punishment was good and important to show that someone is there who is monitoring the media who always thinks behind the mask of freedom of expression that they can do anything in the world. So it is important that the Government of the Day makes its presence felt otherwise there will more chaos and issues like the UPA government where everyone was going around like headless chicken and no one is bothered or cared if a Govt of Man Mohan Singh existed or NO. Even small timers like the Delhi CM AK and his Guru Anna were threatening and taking morcha in Ram leela Maidan every second day and doing expose every third day putting the Govt. of India on the back foot and in defensive mode running for shelter. Now Arvind Kejriwala and his team is running for shelter as every day a Delhi MLA is shown the door of the JAIL and Anna Hazare has been locked in a shell in his hometown watching the sunrise and the sunset. This means business, It is important that Govt of the India should show it exist otherwise human mentality is that then everyone shows that everyone exist and everyone is the BOSS. Cannot allow to happen like this MESS. PM Modi please keep it up and keep the heat on this reckless media, on AK and his gang, on others who are trying to show unnecessary activism and also the Judiciary, keep all the appointments on hold and let them slog day and night. Show who is the BOSS ! Show who is the BOSS !

Yes, Modi ji, show who is the BOSS!

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Continue reading The Cult of the Angry Pointed Finger, or How I learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Father

Aam Aadmi Mohalla Clinics Set to Shut Thanks to L-G and BJP Controlled Municipal Bodies: Jyoti Punwani

[The Superintendent of Tihar Jail, went a joke recently circulating on WhatsApp, had staked his claim for the Chief Ministership of Delhi, because he had the requisite number of MLAs! The mainstream (Big) media has had a field day, reporting with great ‘earnestness’, what even the ordinary person on the street can see is an orchestrated move to harass and discredit the AAP. A leading paper even did a status report on all the cases against AAP MLAs a couple of days ago, as if it was simply ‘reporting’ (with a straight face). Some day, hopefully we will be able to come out with a more detailed analysis of the ways in which sections of the big media have – even in the person/s of their most benign representatives and columnists – played footsie with the regime at the Centre. This dispensation and its utterly unprincipled and unethical ways are truly unprecedented and this phase of our history has emerged as the dirtiest chapter of parliamentary democracy in India. In the meantime, online news forums have kept the tradition of actual reportage and fairness alive. Here are some extracts from a report by JYOTI PUNWANI, courtesy The Hoot (linked below), on the mohalla clinics and the strange politics of the media that surrounds reportage around such measures undertaken by the Delhi government.]

The AAP’s mohalla clinic experiment drew the attention of The Washington Post. Its article (`What New Delhi’s free clinics can teach America’, March 11, 2016) was also carried by the Chicago Tribune. A University of Southern California delegation came to study mohalla clinics  in July.

But our print media didn’t think this important experiment was anything special. Not all covered it; of those that did, some didn’t carry the report in all their editions….

The Indian Express carried a long report in April, after the second batch of clinics opened, in its Delhi edition (“In rented rooms across Delhi, part 2 of ‘mohalla’ clinic project takes off’’).  Livemint hada detailed report last month, after more than 100 clinics had opened (`Mohalla clinic: AAP offers affordable healthcare model at doorstep’); and earlier this week, The Hindu evaluated their performance in its Delhi edition (`A thousand promises of prompt health care’).

Among news websites, Newslaundry did a lively report immediately after the first clinic opened (`Mohalla clinics come to town’). In January, Catch News did a report  (`#MohallaClinics: AAP has diagnosed Delhi’s health problem. Can it cure it?’), and a follow-up in April after the second batch opened (`AAP Mohalla clinics: rented homes turn clinics, private docs appointed’).

A two-part article appeared in Scroll.in in May (`The clinic at your doorstep: How the Delhi government is rethinking primary healthcare…) Indeed, news websites, rather than newspapers, seem to have given the new experiment the space it deserves.

Going through the reports on mohalla clinics, it became clear that the possible removal of some of them was only the latest move against them. A few days before the NDMC issued this order, the Lieutenant General (LG) of Delhi had got into the act. Consider the sequence of events:

On August 5, the Delhi High Court ruled that the LG was the administrative head of the capital. After the judgment, Deputy CM Manish Sisodia specially requested Najeeb Jung not to transfer the Health and Education secretaries as these two bureaucrats were essential for the AAP’s new initiatives in these sectors. Continue reading Aam Aadmi Mohalla Clinics Set to Shut Thanks to L-G and BJP Controlled Municipal Bodies: Jyoti Punwani

An Example of the Liberal Media Defending Powerful Neoliberal Elites: Aditya Velivelli

Guest post by ADITYA VELIVELLI

A wife’s career taking a backseat due to her husband’s work is no trivial issue. However, Outlook magazine used this issue to defend a powerful couple who had giant conflicts of interest among them.

In the recent cabinet reshuffle, Minister of State for Finance, Jayant Sinha, was shifted out of the finance ministry. A few news articles came out speculating that Sinha’s transfer was due to his wife Punita Sinha’s conflicts of interest and because a Tea party organised by Jayant Sinha involved schmoozing between Corporates and bank officers. Jayant Sinha was in the process of organising a bailout fund for the bad corporate loans at that time. This bailout fund would be paid for by the tax payers.  Continue reading An Example of the Liberal Media Defending Powerful Neoliberal Elites: Aditya Velivelli

Three Photographs, Six Bodies: The Politics of Lynching in Twos: Megha Anwer

This is a guest post by MEGHA ANWER

 

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Mazlum Ansari and Imteyaz Khan, Jharkhand 2016.

 

The recent spate of vigilante attacks in India has lent a new, nearly domestic familiarity to the word “lynching”. This, though, is more than just a shift in language: the nation’s visual archive itself seems be shifting, towards instatement of a new normal. Inside just a year the “lynching photograph” has moved center-stage, filling mainstream news reportage and social media newsfeeds. The imagistic vocabulary of lynching has thus taken on a touch of mundane inevitability in caste and communal violence.

It began in March 2015, with the lynching of Syed Arif Khan in Dimapur, Nagaland. A couple of months later two teenage Dalit girls were raped, strangled and left hanging from a mango tree in Katra village in Uttar Pradesh. Then, on 28 September 2015, Mohammad Akhlaq was bludgeoned to death by a mob in his home near Dadri in what went on to gain spurious notoriety as a “beef-eating incident”. The following March, continuing with the logical rhythm of a scheduled sequel, the cattle herder Mazlum Ansari and his 14-year-old nephew Imteyaz Khan were lynched and hanged from a tree in Jharkhand. Most recently (on May 22) M. T. Oliva, a Congolese citizen, was beaten to death in the national capital of Delhi. This is an incomplete list: it includes only those incidents that resulted in fatalities. In the same timeframe there have been at least a dozen other cases in which the victims somehow survived the end-stage public shaming, torment and lurid physical violence, in short the ordeal of a completed lynching.

There is no lynching without its spectators. Continue reading Three Photographs, Six Bodies: The Politics of Lynching in Twos: Megha Anwer

What the UGC Gazette Notification 2016 Portends for the State of Higher Education in India: Rina Ramdev and Debaditya Bhattacharya

This is a guest post by RINA RAMDEV AND DEBADITYA BHATTACHARYA

The much-debated API (Academic Performance Indicator) system, linking promotions of faculty members in Indian universities/colleges to a quantifiable assessment of their performance, was introduced by the University Grants Commission (UGC) in its 2010 Regulations. Since then, there has been mounting resistance and discontent among massive sections of the teaching community – forcing the UGC to withdraw the said assessment framework for a while in 2013, before reintroducing it across institutions of higher education. However, over the years, the ire of protesting teachers has translated into a sustained critique of the API system and its failure to account for the infrastructural inadequacies of public institutions as adversely impacting the promotion prospects of thousands of teachers across the country.

It was rightly argued that a point-based appraisal pattern reduces teaching as an adventure of ideas into a standardised set of visible-verifiable outcomes and deliverables, expending in this, the necessary surplus of every academic encounter. The clock-timed hours of classroom-teaching – convertible into digits and decimals – were not only incommensurate to the disaggregation of thought beyond workdays and work-hours, but also insisted on a corporate-model professionalism limiting the exact interface between the teacher[-as-service-provider] and the student[-as-client].

The perils of quantification notwithstanding, the API system practically sought to make teaching a redundant exercise in terms of ‘necessary qualifications’ for faculty promotions. With a lucrative price-tagging of the ‘value’ of research activities conducted by individual teachers outside of teaching-schedules and the consequent structures of waging intellectual productivity through the numbers of projects and publications, the API contributed to a voiding of the classroom in undergraduate colleges in many parts of the country. Forced to prove her/his levels of productivity as the most essential claim to survival and growth within the field, the teacher needed but little to do by way of engaging students. And yet, on the contrary, the government persisted with its policy of withdrawing research grants and forcing research organisations to look for alternative sources of funding to sustain their work. Consequently, teachers have been infrastructurally forced into producing dubious research in the cause of ‘career advancement’, self-funding their way into business-rackets parading as scholarly platforms.

Continue reading What the UGC Gazette Notification 2016 Portends for the State of Higher Education in India: Rina Ramdev and Debaditya Bhattacharya

Niyamgiri – An Unending Struggle for Livelihoods and Habitat: Kamal Nayan Choubey

Guest post by KAMAL NAYAN CHOUBEY

On the 6th of May, 2016 the Supreme Court rejected Odisha government’s petition for conducting Gram Sabha meetings for a second time in villages near Niyamgiri hills for the extraction of bauxite. Earlier, in August 2013, following Supreme Court directions, the Dongria Kondh tribals of Niyamgiri clearly decided in 12 Gram Sabha meetings that they would not give any permission for mining in their place of worship. The Odisha government filed an interlocutory application in February 2016 and argued that situation had changed in that area because mining was now proposed to be done by Odisha Mining Corporation (OMC) instead of a joint venture project between OMC and Vedanta. The Odisha government filed the petition to help the Anil Agrawal-owned Sterlite (formerly Vedanta Alumina) company, which wants to extract bauxite from Niyamgiri hill in Kalahandi for its Lanjigarh refinery. The Supreme Court, however, rejected the arguments of Odisha government and accepted the validity of August 2013 Gram Sabha meetings. Now, the Odisha government can claim that it wants to ensure the development of all groups of the state and create more alternatives for marginalized groups like Dongria-Kondhs. The question, however, is whether the Odisha government can claim, on moral grounds, that it has not been working as an agent of corporate capital? What can a marginalized group do when it finds that a democratically elected government is relentlessly working against its interest and violating constitutional provisions? Indeed the Niyamgiri experience has raised many questions not just about the violence caused by dominant ‘development’ model against marginalized adivasi groups, but also about the crisis of constitutionalism and the role of democratically elected government in using/misusing state apparatus for the benefit of capitalists.

Continue reading Niyamgiri – An Unending Struggle for Livelihoods and Habitat: Kamal Nayan Choubey