Muscular Law Reform in Times of a Pandemic: Pratiksha Baxi

Guest Post by PRATIKSHA BAXI

In May 2020, the Ministry of Home Affairs constituted a Committee to recommend reforms in criminal laws in India with NLU Delhi.  The National Level Committee for Reforms in Criminal Laws (henceforth, the NLUD Committee) is to review and recommend changes to the Indian Penal Code, Criminal Procedure Code and the Indian Evidence Act in 90 odd days. On 26 June 2020, responses were solicited from experts on ‘questionnaires highlighting issues in the Indian Penal Code, Code of Criminal Procedure and Indian Evidence Act’ for which experts were invited to register. The Committee has uploaded a questionnaire, extended time for experts to reply and announced concessional consultation with non-experts. 68 Bare Acts, and 89 Law Commission Reports, along with some links and some op-eds by committee members are uploaded on the website, as resources for experts. The Open Consultation can be accessed for a period of two months starting from 17 July 2020  to 16 September 2020. This process is virtual since the process of reviewing and revising criminal law is being performed during a pandemic.

Continue reading Muscular Law Reform in Times of a Pandemic: Pratiksha Baxi

घेरेबन्दी में पड़े देश और खेल के नये नियमों के बीच हम क्‍या कर सकते हैं?

घेरेबन्दी में पड़े अपने शहर के हालात को लेकर अपने जमाने का शायर कैसी प्रतिक्रिया देता है? अचानक इस बारे में कुछ कहना मुश्किल जान पड़ सकता है, अलबत्ता एक तरीका है फिलिस्तीन के महान कवि महमूद दरवेश के नक्शेकदम पर चलना, जिनकी लम्बी कविता ‘मेमरी फॉर फरगेटफुलनेस’ अर्थात ‘भुलक्कड़पन/स्‍मृतिलोप के लिए स्‍मृति’ वर्ष 1982 में लेबनान पर हुए इजरायली आक्रमण का चित्र खींचती है।

लेबनान की राजधानी बेरूत जहां वह रह रहे थे, बमबारी का शिकार हो रही थी। वे लिखते हैं, ‘‘बेरूत, इज़रायली टैंकों से और आधिकारिक अरबपस्ती से घिरा हुआ’, वह बेरूत ‘अन्दर से अपने आप को थामे हुए था ताकि ‘अरब उम्मीद की राजधानी के उसके मायने की चमक की हिफाज़त की जा सके।’ किताब में दरवेश फैज़ अहमद फैज़ के साथ अपना सम्वाद शुरू करते हैं, जो उन दिनों बेरूत में ही थे।

कलाकार कहां हैं?
कौन कलाकार, फैज़, मैं पूछता हूं
बेरूत के कलाकार
तुम उनसे चाहते क्या हो?
यही कि शहर की दीवारों पर युद्ध को उकेरना
तुम्हें क्या हो गया है फैज़, मैं ताज्जुब प्रकट करता हूं। क्या तुम देख नहीं रहे हो दीवारें ही गिर रही हैं?

यह कविताएं लेखन (स्‍मृति से इतिहास, स्‍मृतिलोप, भुलक्कड़पन) के बीच एक रिश्ता कायम करती हैं। घेरेबन्दी के मध्य यह दृढ़ता, अटलता की यात्रा है। Continue reading घेरेबन्दी में पड़े देश और खेल के नये नियमों के बीच हम क्‍या कर सकते हैं?

साझा बयान : बुद्धिजीवियों-मानवाधिकारकर्मियों को फ़र्ज़ी आरोपों के तहत फंसाये जाने के विरोध में 

जन संस्कृति मंच, प्रगतिशील लेखक संघ, दलित लेखक संघ, प्रतिरोध का सिनेमा, इप्टा, संगवारी,  न्यू सोशलिस्ट इनिशिएटिव और जनवादी लेखक संघ ने प्रशांत भूषण को अदालत की अवमानना का दोषी क़रार दिए जाने तथा भीमा-कोरेगाँव और दिल्ली दंगों के मामलों में बुद्धिजीवियों-मानवाधिकारकर्मियों को फ़र्ज़ी आरोपों के तहत फंसाये जाने के विरोध में यह साझा बयान जारी किया :

भारतीय लोकतंत्र का संकट लगातार गहराता जा रहा है. अभिव्यक्ति की आज़ादी और वाजिब माँगों के लिए चलने वाले संघर्ष का जैसा दमन मौजूदा निज़ाम में हो रहा है, उसकी मिसाल आज़ाद भारत के इतिहास में ढूँढे नहीं मिलेगी. सबसे ताज़ा उदाहरण स्वाधीनता दिवस की पूर्व संध्या पर सर्वोच्च न्यायालय द्वारा प्रशांत भूषण को अदालत की अवमानना का दोषी ठहराया जाना है. यह विचारणीय है कि फ़ैसले में उन्हें भारतीय लोकतंत्र के जिस “महत्त्वपूर्ण स्तम्भ की बुनियाद को अस्थिर” करने के प्रयास का दोषी पाया गया है, उसकी अस्थिरता के मायने क्या हैं और उसके वास्तविक कारक कौन-से हैं/हो सकते हैं! पर यह जितना भी विचारणीय हो, सवाल है कि क्या आप विचार कर भी सकते हैं? इस तरह के विचार-विमर्श की गुंजाइश/स्वतंत्रता/अधिकार को बहुत क्षीण किया जा चुका है और ऐसा जान पड़ता है कि जिनके ऊपर ‘रीज़नेबल रेस्ट्रिक्शन्स’ के दायरे में अभिव्यक्ति की आज़ादी को सुनिश्चित करने का दारोमदार है, वे खुद आगे बढ़कर उस आज़ादी का दमन कर रहे हैं. पिछले कुछ समय में दो घटनाओं को बहाना बनाकर सामाजिक-राजनैतिक कार्यकर्त्ताओं, मानवाधिकार-कर्मियों और लेखकों-बुद्धिजीवियों की गिरफ़्तारी, या तफ़्तीश के नाम पर उत्पीड़न के सिलसिले ने जो गति पकड़ी है, वह बेहद चिंताजनक है. भीमा-कोरेगाँव मामले और उत्तर-पूर्वी दिल्ली के दंगों के असली अपराधी बेख़ौफ़ घूम रहे हैं जबकि इन्हीं मामलों में फ़र्जी तरीक़े से बड़ी संख्या में सामाजिक कार्यकर्त्ताओं और बुद्धिजीवियों को गिरफ़्तार किया जा चुका है. केंद्र के मातहत काम करने वाली राष्ट्रीय जाँच एजेंसी (एनआईए) और दिल्ली पुलिस इन मामलों में पूरी बेशर्मी से अपनी पक्षधर भूमिका निभा रही हैं. ऐसा लगता है कि नियंत्रण एवं संतुलन के सारे लोकतांत्रिक सरंजाम ध्वस्त हो चुके हैं. Continue reading साझा बयान : बुद्धिजीवियों-मानवाधिकारकर्मियों को फ़र्ज़ी आरोपों के तहत फंसाये जाने के विरोध में 

To Sir, With Love – Birthday Greetings for Professor Hany Babu From His Students

Our Professor turned 54 on August 16, while in the custody of NIA. Prof. Hany Babu M.T. from the Department of English, University of Delhi was arrested on July 28 by the NIA in a series of ongoing harassment of academics, and activists who have been vocal against the government and its policies. This act of suppressing dissenting voices in academic spaces by the State threatens the very fabric of the Indian democracy. Prof. Babu has been a strong advocate for social justice, and has worked strenuously in the anti-caste movement. As a professor of linguistics, his classes have always been about demanding an equal space for the varying languages in India and looking at English as an emancipatory language. His teachings have made, and continue to make students critically approach caste supremacy hidden within the rubric of the Indian language structure. He has always highlighted the need for equality amongst language, and language speakers.
Continue reading To Sir, With Love – Birthday Greetings for Professor Hany Babu From His Students

Manufacturing Evidence – How the Police is framing and arresting constitutional rights defenders in India: The Polis Project

Artist Sarita  Pandey

This report is republished from The Polis Project

On the afternoon of 23 February 2020, communal violence broke out in Gokulpuri, a neighborhood in North-East Delhi. From there, it quickly spread to several other areas — including Seelapur, Shivpuri, and Jafrabad — raging on for four days before the situation was finally brought under control. In all, 53 people were murdered, a majority of them Muslim. Hundreds of families, mostly Muslim, were also displaced from their homes and are yet to return as it is still too dangerous. The attacks coincided with Donald Trump’s diplomatic visit to New Delhi on 24 February. This coincidence is one reason why the violence received widespread international media coverage. While large sections of the Indian domestic media have framed the violence as a “communal riot,” it is fairer to describe the events as a state-abetted pogrom against the Muslim community, that was not adequately protected — and, in some cases, was actively attacked — by the Delhi Police.

Time and again the Police have ignored mounting communal tensions, turned a blind eye to the gathering of arms by Hindu nationalist groups, and — once violence is unleashed — abandoned Muslims to their fate. Police complicity in anti-Muslim violence is an old story in India. Since Independence, countless enquiry commissions have indicted the Police for their partisan handling of sectarian conflict. Time and again the Police have ignored mounting communal tensions, turned a blind eye to the gathering of arms by Hindu nationalist groups, and — once violence is unleashed — abandoned Muslims to their fate. This cycle of violence and impunity is one major reason Hindu terror has not been stamped out in India. Yeh andar ki baat hai / police hamaare saath hai, (It’s an internal secret/ the Police are with us) as Hindu mobs chanted during the 2002 Gujarat pogrom. Continue reading Manufacturing Evidence – How the Police is framing and arresting constitutional rights defenders in India: The Polis Project

इलीना सेन – संघर्षों के बीज, संघर्षों के बीच : विमेन अगेन्स्ट सेक्शूअल वायलेंस एंड स्टेट रिपरेशन

A tribute to Ilina Sen by WSS

Ilina and Binayak Sen, photo courtesy NewsLaundry

विमन अगेन्स्ट सेक्शूअल वायलेंस एंड स्टेट रिपरेशन’ (डब्लूएसएस) कोलकत्ता में 9 अगस्त को इलीना सेन के निधन पर अपना गहरा क्षोभ व्यक्त करती है.  69-वर्षीय इलीना एक नारीवादी कार्यकर्ता होने के साथसाथ एक शिक्षक, शोधार्थी और लेखिका भी थीं, जो देश भर के महिला आंदोलन के साथ दिलोजान से जुड़ी थीं. चाहे वह बतौर सामाजिकराजनीतिक कार्यकर्ता के रूप में हो या शिक्षाकर्मी होने के नाते. इलीना के मध्यप्रदेश तथा छत्तीसगढ़ के आंदोलनों एवं अन्य राज्यों के जनआंदोलनों से गहरे जुड़ाव और अपने सक्रिय समर्थन के कारण राज्य, पितृसत्ता और पूंजी के ख़तरों के खिलाफ संघर्षरत महिलाओं और अन्य कमज़ोर तबक़ों को निर्णायक प्रोत्साहन मिला.

अस्सी के दशक के शुरुआती सालों में, इलीना अपने जीवनसाथी बिनायक सेन के साथ आदिवासी क्षेत्र के लोगों और मज़दूर नेता शंकर गुहा नियोगी की अगुवाई में चल रहे आंदोलनों के साथ काम करने के लिए छत्तीसगढ़गईं. यहाँ एक डॉक्टर के रूप में बिनायक सेन ने बच्चों और उनके परिवार के साथ काम किया. आगे चलकर वे छत्तीसगढ़ खदान श्रमिक संघ (सीएमएसएस) के सदस्यों द्वारा निर्मित और संचालित शहीद अस्पताल में काम करने लगे. शुरु में, इलीना राज्य द्वारा प्रोत्साहित उग्र कृषि तकनीक से नष्ट हो रही धान की किस्मों और बीज संरक्षण वाले ‘सस्टेनेबल डेवेलप्मेंट’ के काम में डॉक्टर आर.आर. रिचारिया के साथ जुट गईं. शंकर गुहा नियोगी द्वारा गठित दल्ली राजहरा में शुरू की गई ट्रेड यूनियन में काम करते हुए, इलीना को महिला श्रम और उनके अधिकारों के लिए संगठित करने की अंतर्दृष्टि मिली. स्वायत्त महिला आंदोलनों के सम्मेलनों में वे अक्सर सीएमएसएस का छत्तीसगढ़ी गीत, ‘अनुसूया बाई, लाल सलाम’ गाया करती थीं. Continue reading इलीना सेन – संघर्षों के बीज, संघर्षों के बीच : विमेन अगेन्स्ट सेक्शूअल वायलेंस एंड स्टेट रिपरेशन

Intimations of a Bahujan Counter-Tradition and the Hindu Right

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

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

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

Agha Ashraf Ali – The Flamboyant Kashmiri Story-teller: Jamal Kidwai

Guest post by JAMAL KIDWAI

Agha Sahab ( Agha Ashraf Ali), passed away at the age of 94 on the 7th of  August, 2020.

Agha Ashraf Ali

I was lucky to know Agha Sahab closely because of his intimate connection with Jamia Millia Islamia and our long standing family friendship. He would come down to Delhi in the winter and spend a lot of time at my parents home, drinking tea in the winter sun. But I got to know him as a friend when I started visiting Srinagar from 1999 onwards, for programmes being conducted being by the  NGO I worked with . My trips would remain incomplete if I did not visit him.

Continue reading Agha Ashraf Ali – The Flamboyant Kashmiri Story-teller: Jamal Kidwai

The Structural Contradictions of Indian Democracy and the Rise of the BJP : Prof Pratap Bhanu Mehta

[Democracy Dialogues Lecture Series ( Webinar)
Organised by New Socialist Initiative]

Date and Time: Sunday, August 16, 2020, at 6 PM IST (8.30 AM EST in the US)

 

Topic: The Structural Contradictions of Indian Democracy and the rise of the BJP

Abstract:

This talk explores the deep social transformations that have made the dominance of the BJP possible. It will take a longer view of the trajectory of Indian democracy and explore the profound changes in social and economic identities underway that have prepared a propitious ground for the rise of the BJP.

The Speaker: Prof Pratap Bhanu Mehta

Internationally renowned scholar and political scientist Prof Pratap Bhanu Mehta taught at Harvard, at New York University and at JNU. He was the Vice Chancellor of the Ashoka University till recently and served as the President of the premier think tank, Centre for Policy Research. Educated at Oxford and a Ph.D. from Princeton University, Prof Mehta is a columnist at Indian Express, a leading public intellectual and a bold and thoughtful voice for reason and justice. Among many honours and prizes to his credit, he is recipient of the Infosys Prize, the Adisheshiah Prize and the Amartya Sen Prize.

[New Socialist Initiative Presents
Democracy Dialogues – Lecture Series

The idea behind this series – which we call ‘Democracy Dialogues’ – is basically to initiate as well as join in the on-going conversation around this theme in academic as well as activist circles.

We feel that the very idea of democracy which has taken deep roots across the world, has come under scanner for various reasons. At the same time we have been witness to the ascendance of right-wing forces and fascistic demagogues via the same democratic route. There is this apparently anomalous situation in which the spread and deepening of democracy have often led to generating mass support for these reactionary and fascistic forces.

Coming to India, there have been valid concerns about the rise of authoritarian streak among Indians and how it has helped strengthen BJP’s hard right turn. The strong support for democracy here is accompanied by increasing fascination towards majoritarian-authoritarian politics. In fact, we would like to state that a vigorous electoral democracy here has become a vehicle for hindutva-ite counterrevolution.

The inaugural lecture in the series was delivered by Prof Suhas Palshikar on 12 th July 2020. The theme of Prof Palshikar’s presentation was  TRAJECTORY OF INDIA’S DEMOCRACY AND CONTEMPORARY CHALLENGES]

 

एक अनोखी रात: मुरीद बरघूती/अनुवाद: आयेशा किदवई

You can see the English translation by Radwa Ashour of the original poem in Arabic by the Palestinian poet Mourid Barghouti , after this translation into Hindustani by AYESHA KIDWAI

एक अनोखी रात

उसकी उंगली दरवाज़े की घंटी को बस छूनेवाली है

दरवाज़ा, बहुत ही आहिस्ता आहिस्ता,

खुलता है.

वो अंदर आता है.

अपने कमरे में जाता है.

है तो, यहां:

उसकी तस्वीर, उसके नन्हे से पलंग के बराबर

उसका स्कूल का बस्ता, अँधेरे में,

जागता हुआ.

अपने आप को सोते हुए देखता है

दो ख़्वाबों के दरमियाँ, दो झंडों के.

वो सभी दरवाज़ों को खटखटाता है

— खटखटाने वाला था. पर नहीं.

सब उठ जाते हैं:

“लौट आया!”

“ख़ुदा कसम, लौट आया!,” चिल्लाते हैं

पर उनके शोर से कोई आवाज़ नहीं मचती.

बाहें फैलाते हैं मोहम्मद को समेटने के लिए

पर उनके हाथ उसके कन्धों तक पहुंचते नहीं. Continue reading एक अनोखी रात: मुरीद बरघूती/अनुवाद: आयेशा किदवई

केन्द्रीय विश्वविद्यालय: वर्चस्वशाली जातियों के नए ठिकाने ?

अगर हम प्रोफेसरों के पदों की बात करें तो यूजीसी के मुताबिक अनुसूचित जाति से आने वाले प्रत्याशियों के लिए आरक्षित 82.82 फीसदी पद, अनुसूचित जनजाति तबके से आने वाले तबकों के लिए आरक्षित 93.98 फीसदी पद और अन्य पिछड़ी जातियों के लिए आरक्षित 99.95 फीसदी पद आज भी खाली पड़े हैं। असोसिएट प्रोफेसर के पदों की बात करें तो स्थिति उतनी ही खराब दिखती है: अनुसूचित जातियों के लिए आरक्षित 76.57 फीसदी पद, अनुसूचित जनजातियों के लिए आरक्षित 89.01 फीसदी पद और अन्य पिछड़ी जातियों के लिए आरक्षित 94.30 फीसदी पद खाली पड़े हैं।

क्या हम कभी जान सकेंगे कि मुल्क के चालीस केन्द्रीय विश्वविद्यालयों में नियुक्त उपकुलपतियों के श्रेणीबद्ध वितरण- अर्थात वह किन सामाजिक श्रेणियों से ताल्लुक रखते हैं- के बारे में ?

शायद कभी नहीं !

विश्वविद्यालय अनुदान आयोग के केन्द्रीय विश्वविद्यालय ब्युरो में ऐसे कोई रेकॉर्ड रखे नहीं जाते।

किसी बाहरी व्यक्ति के लिए इन सूचनाओं का अभाव बेहद मामूली लग सकता है अलबत्ता अगर हम अधिक गहरे में जाकर पड़ताल करें तो हम पूछ सकते हैं कि सर्वोच्च पदों की यह कथित ‘जातिविहीनता’ का सम्बन्ध क्या इसी तथ्य से जोड़ा जा सकता है कि इन चालीस विश्वविद्यालयों में- सामाजिक और शारीरिक तौर पर हाशिये पर रहने वाले तबकों से आने वाले अध्यापकों की मौजूदगी नगण्य है। फिर वह चाहे अनुसूचित जाति, जनजाति हो या अन्य पिछड़ी जातियां हो या विकलांग तबके से आने वाले लोग हों। इन तबकों की इन पदों से साद्रश्यता के अभाव का अन्दाज़ा इस बात से लगाया जा सकता है कि इन श्रेणियों से आने वाले तबकों के लिए आरक्षित प्रोफेसरों के 99 फीसदी पद आज भी खाली पड़े हैं।

दिल्ली विश्वविद्यालय के एक कालेज में, एडहॉक/तदर्थ अध्यापक के तौर पर कार्यरत लक्ष्मण यादव द्वारा विश्वविद्यालय अनुदान आयोग को सूचना अधिकार के तहत जो याचिका दायर की गयी थी, उसी के औपचारिक जवाब के तौर पर ऐसे कई सारे अचम्भित करने वाले तथ्य सामने आए हैं। अगर हम प्रोफेसरों के पदों की बात करें तो यूजीसी के मुताबिक अनुसूचित जाति से आने वाले प्रत्याशियों के लिए आरक्षित 82.82 फीसदी पद, अनुसूचित जनजाति तबके से आने वाले तबकों के लिए आरक्षित 93.98 फीसदी पद और अन्य पिछड़ी जातियों के लिए आरक्षित 99.95 फीसदी पद आज भी खाली पड़े हैं। अगर हम असोसिएट प्रोफेसर के पदों की बात करें तो स्थिति उतनी ही खराब दिखती है: अनुसूचित जातियों के लिए आरक्षित 76.57 फीसदी पद, अनुसूचित जनजातियों के लिए आरक्षित 89.01 फीसदी पद और अन्य पिछड़ी जातियों के लिए आरक्षित 94.30 फीसदी पद खाली पड़े हैं। असिस्टेंण्ट प्रोफेसर पद के लिए आरक्षित पदों के आंकड़े उतने खराब नहीं हैं जिसमें अनुसूचित जातियों के लिए आरक्षित 29.92 फीसदी पद, अनुसूचित जनजातियों के लिए आरक्षित 33.47 फीसदी पद और अन्य पिछड़ी जातियों के लिए आरक्षित 41.82 फीसदी पद खाली पड़े हैं। (देखें- मीडिया विजिल की रिपोर्ट)

Continue reading केन्द्रीय विश्वविद्यालय: वर्चस्वशाली जातियों के नए ठिकाने ?

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

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

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

Apoorvanand, Image courtesy Times of India

STATEMENT

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

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

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

Writing about Kalpana, writing about the times: Ranjana Padhi & Laxmi Murthy

Guest Post by RANJANA PADHI & LAXMI MURTHY

There is no cure for mortality, yet there is a lingering sadness and a sense of loss at the passing away of a fellow-traveler, a saheli and a comrade. Any reflection of such lives becomes a reflection of the times. The times when we as women, and as feminist collectives, dared to go against the grain.  The early years of the women’s movement were vastly different from the present reality where much is taken for granted and often celebrated ahistorically as individual achievement. The struggles of the 1980s made strident inroads into challenging the bastions of patriarchy in the form of collective resistance.  Making that vital link in what is a virtually unknown history for an entire generation of young women might help to make sense of the present. Because Kalpana was active to the end, commenting – and raving – even about recent events, through the lens of a sharp feminist politics. 

Kalpana Mehta, 67, a feminist activist of the autonomous women’s movement in India, breathed her last on May 27, 2020 at her residence in Indore, Madhya Pradesh.  Kalpana was diagnosed of the neuron disease called Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) in mid 2017.  She gradually lost speech as well as mobility. Even then, she was tuned in to all events through the daily newspaper and communicated her thoughts and ideas through the application Tobii with friends who visited her during this time. Remaining engaged with news and sharing her political concerns and reflections helped her bravely cope with the symptoms of ALS. Also, her characteristic humor and witty rebukes directed at the powers that be were intact to her last breath.  Continue reading Writing about Kalpana, writing about the times: Ranjana Padhi & Laxmi Murthy

Are Central Universities Modern-Day Agraharams?

A caste-based society will overcome legal codes that make equality the norm unless people actively bring change.

Are Central Universities

Will we ever know the category-wise distribution of vice chancellors of the forty central universities located across the country? Thanks to the rules governing these universities, and those of the University Grants Commission, there is no such record.

This form of “castelessness” at the top is coupled with marginal representation of teachers from socially and physically marginalised sections. Be it the Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes the Other Backward Classes or persons with disabilities, they are hardly ever appointed to teaching posts in central universities. A marker of the invisibilisation of these social groups is the fact that up to 96.65% of the posts of professor meant for candidates from these categories were unfilled on 1 January 2020.

This was discovered by a Delhi University teacher, who sought the information from the UGC under the Right to Information Act. More than 82% posts of professors meant for Scheduled Caste candidates, 93.98% posts meant for Scheduled Tribes and 96.65% posts meant for OBCs still remain vacant. The situation for associate professors is equally dismal, though there are fewer vacant posts of assistant professors for OBCs.

Any news can go viral these days but this explosive disclosure, which raises questions about recruitment procedures and their inherent biases was barely noticed. An explanation is that such news has lost its novelty. Perhaps everybody is aware of the metamorphosis of central universities into a new kind of Agraharam or abode of elite castes.

( Read the full article here)

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

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

It is about a temple.

Original Bangla below the translation.

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

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

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

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

क्या राम मंदिर की आड़ में अपनी विफलताएं छिपा रही है मोदी सरकार

यह मानने के पर्याप्त आधार हैं कि राम मंदिर के भूमि पूजन के लिए चुना गया यह समय एक छोटी रेखा के बगल में बड़ी रेखा खींचने की क़वायद है, ताकि नरेंद्र मोदी और उनकी सरकार की बढ़ती असफलताएं जैसे- कोविड कुप्रबंधन, बदहाल होती अर्थव्यवस्था और गलवान घाटी प्रसंग- इस परदे के पीछे चले जाएं.

Ayodhya: A hoarding of PM Narendra Modi and other leaders put up beside a statue of Lord Hanuman, ahead of the foundation laying ceremony of Ram Temple, in Ayodhya, Thursday, July 30, 2020. (PTI Photo)(PTI30-07-2020 000044B)

अयोध्या में राम मंदिर के भूमि पूजन से पहले लगा प्रधानमंत्री नरेंद्र मोदी और अन्य नेताओं का एक होर्डिंग. (फोटो: पीटीआई)

बीते दिनों जनाब उद्धव ठाकरे द्वारा अयोध्या में राम मंदिर के प्रस्तावित भूमि पूजन को लेकर जो सुझाव दिया गया है, वह गौरतलब है.

मालूम हो कि आयोजकों की तरफ से जिन लोगों को इसके लिए न्योता दिया गया है, उसमें महाराष्ट्र के मुख्यमंत्री का नाम भी शामिल है, उसी संदर्भ में उन्होंने इस बात पर जोर दिया है कि ‘ई-भूमि पूजन किया जा सकता है और भूमि पूजन समारोह को वीडियो कॉन्फ्रेंसिंग के जरिये भी अंजाम दिया जा सकता है.’

उनका कहना है कि इस कार्यक्रम में लाखों लोग शामिल होना चाहेंगे और क्या उन्हें वहां पहुंचने से रोका जा सकता है? कोरोना महामारी को लेकर देश-दुनिया भर में जो संघर्ष अभी जारी है और जहां धार्मिक सम्मेलनों पर पाबंदी बनी हुई है, ऐसे में उनकी बात गौरतलब है.

गौर करें कि ऐसा आयोजन जिसका लाइव टेलीकास्ट भी किया जाएगा, कोई चाहे न चाहे देश में जगह जगह जनता के अच्छे-खासे हिस्से को सड़कों पर उतरने के लिए प्रेरित करेगा.

और अगर दक्षिणपंथी जमातें इस बारे में अतिसक्रियता दिखा दें तो फिर जगह जगह भीड़ बेकाबू भी हो सकती है और केंद्र सरकार और गृह मंत्रालय द्वारा जारी गाइडलाइंस की भी धज्जियां उड़ सकती हैं.

( Read the complete article here)

 

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

Guest post by ARVIND KUMAR

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

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

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

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

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

Students’ Statement of Solidarity: Release Prof. Hany Babu

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

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

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

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

Guest post by HAMMERSICKLE RUBBERCHAPPAL

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

Image courtesy Kevin Clancy Studio

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

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

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

Gramsci, the “Puranic” and Shekhar Gupta

 

Re-reading Antonio Gramsci lately, in preparation for a webinar organized by the Dean, School of Social Sciences, University of Hyderabad on “Gandhi, Ambedkar, Gramsci”, I was struck by an aspect of his thought that I had not really understood in all its dimensions earlier. This aspect is directly related to the relationship between subalternity and the political party, a  lifelong preoccupation for him, linked in turn to the problem of “philosophy” and “thought”.  Some of the reflections here on this question were also sparked off also by some questions that were raised during the discussion.

Skhekhar Gupta on Taali-Thaali and Diya

It was while searching for something related to the Indian government’s handling of the Covid-19 situation, that I hit upon this astonishing article by Mr Shekhar Gupta, which is my peg for the discussion that  follows. It is an older article (4 April 2020), for I must confess I had stopped reading him long ago given the  sheer predictability of what he had to say. But here he seems to have surpassed himself. The title itself first caught my attention: “Poke fun at taali, thaali, diya and mombatti all you want. Modi couldn’t care less“. Shekhar Gupta was one of those who had, in the run up to the 2014 elections, come out with brass band to clear the way for Narendra Modi’s accession to power. But hadn’t he lately – so I had heard – started expressing some criticisms of the regime? Tavleen Sigh certainly had. So what is Gupta saying? Well for one thing, I realized that his deep fascination with the Modi persona continues unabated but that is something I can’t blame him for. We can’t determine what our taste-buds like, can we? I am also not surprised that Gupta’s tone regarding his imagined secular-liberal adversaries is one of derision. What struck me was that all that he is basically saying in the article is that Modi knows who he should speak to and he is able to read the popular mind, but this banality is presented as one great insight of all times!

Continue reading Gramsci, the “Puranic” and Shekhar Gupta

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