दाव पर केवल कुछ किसान या किसानी ही नहीं, पूरी अर्थव्यवस्था और लोकतंत्र हैं : राजेन्द्र चौधरी

Guest post by RAJINDER CHAUDHARY

कई लोगों को यह गलतफहमी है कि नए कृषि कानूनों से केवल किसान और वो भी केवल पंजाब के किसान परेशान हैं. दिल्ली की सिंघु सीमा से आन्दोलन स्थल के फोटो जिनमें सिक्ख किसानों की भरमार होती है, को देख कर यह गलतफहमी किसी भी अनजान व्यक्ति को हो सकती. यह भी सही है कि सड़कों पर जिस तादाद में पंजाब/हरियाणा/उत्तर प्रदेश के किसान आये हैं उस पैमाने पर शेष भारत से किसान इन कानूनों के खिलाफ होने के बावजूद सड़कों पर नहीं आये हैं. ऐसा दो कारणों से हुआ है. एक तो ये कानून केवल अंग्रेजी में उपलब्ध हैं. इस लिए देश के ज़्यादातर किसान स्वयं तो इन को पढ़ ही नहीं पाए. दूसरा मीडिया में केवल एमएसपी या न्यूनतम समर्थन पर खतरे का मुद्दा ही छाया रहा, जिस के चलते ऐसा प्रतीत हुआ कि केवल यही खतरा मुख्य है. अब जिन किसानों को वैसे भी आमतौर पर न्यूनतम समर्थन मूल्य से कम पर फसल बेचनी ही पड़ती है, उन को यह लगना स्वाभाविक ही है कि इन कानूनों से उन्हें कोई विशेष नुकसान नहीं होने वाला.

परन्तु इन कानूनों को पढ़ सकने वाला कोई भी व्यक्ति जान सकता है कि दाव पर केवल एमएसपी नहीं है. और खतरा न केवल करार कानून के तहत हुए समझौतों से कम्पनियों के मुकर जाने का है. करार खेती कानून धारा 2 (डी), धारा 2 (जी) (ii), धारा 8 (ख) और सरकार द्वारा सदन में रखे गए बिल के पृष्ट 11 पर दिए गई कृषि मंत्री के ‘कानून के उदेश्यों एवं कारणों’ पर प्रकाश डालते हुए वक्तव्य से यह शीशे की तरह स्पष्ट है, भले ही मीडिया में यह मुद्दा पूरे जोरशोर से नहीं आया, कि अब कम्पनियां न केवल खेती को अप्रत्यक्ष रूप से नियंत्रित करेंगी अपितु सीधे सीधे स्वयं खेती भी कर सकेंगी. एमएसपी पर संकट से भी बड़ा संकट यह है कि इस कानून के लागू होने के बाद ज़मीन भले ही किसान की रहेगी पर खेती कम्पनियां करने लगेंगी.

Continue reading दाव पर केवल कुछ किसान या किसानी ही नहीं, पूरी अर्थव्यवस्था और लोकतंत्र हैं : राजेन्द्र चौधरी

JNUTA Report on the university 2016-2021 Part I – Delhi High Court orders

This is the first part of a series of reports on Jawaharlal Nehru University (2016-2021) by the JNU Teachers’ Association.

On 26th January 2021, the five-year tenure of Prof. Mamidala Jagadesh Kumar as Vice Chancellor of JNU will formally come to an end. While there are press reports that confirm that the Search Committee constituted for identifying a replacement has yet to begin its work, which indicates the probability of Prof. Jagadesh Kumar getting an extension till the new incumbent finally takes over; his inevitable departure from JNU is significant.

Over the next few days, JNUTA would like to share with you relevant documentation that shows as to how a public university of the stature of JNU was single handedly destroyed over the last five years by none other than the Vice Chancellor who administered JNU as if it was his personal fiefdom, showing scant regard for the Statutes and Ordinances that had governed  University practices in the past.

In the first part of this series, starting today we would like to reproduce important observations made by the Honourable Delhi High Court on various cases concerning matters of the university. Over the five-year period 2016-21, there have been nearly over 150 cases that have been filed by the JNU community against the current Vice Chancellor and his administration. This high increase in legal cases, represents the tip of the iceberg. Deep within lies the rot which stems from the inability of the Vice Chancellor to engage in dialogue and resolve matters through correct interpretation of UGC guidelines as well as statutes and ordinances of the university, a lacuna in his personality that stems from inordinate conceit in his own abilities or some other ulterior motives. Continue reading JNUTA Report on the university 2016-2021 Part I – Delhi High Court orders

Malathi de Alwis 1963- 2021 – beloved friend, feminist comrade

Malathi de Alwis in Delhi, May 2014.

This is my Mala.

Every person touched by her friendship felt this sense of unique connection to Mala. To receive the gift of her attention was to forever feel the tug of a thread that attached you to a part of her heart. She would remember you at some point or the other even if you were not constantly in touch, with that fine-tuned sensitivity that brought to you the exact poem or thought or photograph or  experience that linked the two of you.

It was nothing short of magical, her capacity to make very single person in her widespread community of friends across the globe, feel special to her, linked to her through one or the other of her passionate interests. A feminist activist and scholar committed to understanding and countering ethno-nationalism in Sri Lanka, she was part of the wider community of South Asian feminists who constantly struggle to transcend the barbed wire borders of our nation-states in solidarity and hope. Her friends and colleagues in Sri Lanka can speak more about her activism, but one of the feminist enterprises with which she was involved was the collective, anonymous column called Cat’s Eye, which began in the Lanka Guardian in the late 1970s, and through several incarnations, is now a blog. Continue reading Malathi de Alwis 1963- 2021 – beloved friend, feminist comrade

Condemn the arrest warrant against Paranjoy Guha Thakurta: Media Foundation

Statement by MEDIA FOUNDATION

The Media Foundation notes with deep dismay that a lower court in Gujarat’s Kutch region has issued an arrest warrant against senior journalist Mr Paranjoy Guha Thakurta in a defamation case filed by the Adani group.

In June 2017, Mr Thakurta co-authored an expose in the Economic & Political Weekly outlining how the Adani group was able to evade paying the required amount of duty for an export venture with some help from the government. This series of articles was later reproduced in a news website, The Wire. Subsequently, the Adani group dropped the defamation charges against the publishers, the website and the co-authors of the investigation, barring Mr Thakurta.

While we hope that the higher judicial forums will provide immediate relief to Mr Thakurta, it does need to be emphasized that this defamation case is a vindictive act and intended to intimidate journalists and discourage professional journalism. This is part of a larger emerging trend of powerful vested interests misusing the processes of law to harass and hound independent and intrepid reporters and commentators.

The Media Foundation expresses its solidarity with Mr Thakurta and stands by him.

Harish Khare, President

Mannika Chopra, Honorary Secretary

What is a city – Dilli hai jiska naam IX: Sohail Hashmi

This is the final post in a series on Delhi that does not talk only of the narrow lanes of Shahjahanabad, the Mughalia, aka Mughlai delights and the lip-smacking Chaats of Chandni Chowk or the grand ruins of the seven Delhis and the wide open spaces and broad roads, but a series that also looks at the way Delhi has evolved. We wanted to explore the logic of the city and of the forces that have shaped the idea of the city itself.  It was this idea that made us approach people who have engaged with the city with love and care for decades and we requested them to write for Kafila.

This series is titled Dilli hai jiska naam and the links to the previous posts can be found at the end.

My post below is the final one in the series. It was originally presented at a seminar at the Srishti School of Art Design and Technology, Bangalore, and is included in “Radical City – Imagining Possibilities for the Indian City” (Sage Publishers).

What is a City? Sohail Hashmi

What exactly is a city, is it just a large settlement, is the size of the population living within a definable area the only criterion, is it merely a centre of production, exchange and transport, how does one distinguish it from a village or a small town?

Questions such as these have engaged scholars cutting across diverse disciplines and a large number of definitions of a city exist, A city has been defined in terms of its demographics alone – a densely populated area, through its size – a city is a large settlement, there are other definitions that try to define the city through its systems of public utilities, through the presence of centralised civic authority, as a centre of production, a site through which political power is exercised and even as a site with a continuous history cutting across centuries.

A city is all this and more and this essay would seek to present some partially formed ideas on what is this elusive ‘more’.

Continue reading What is a city – Dilli hai jiska naam IX: Sohail Hashmi

The gender between men’s legs and other learnings from a college in kerala

Over the past one year, I have been trying to make a college in Kerala – in a women’s college in Kerala– take some action against one of their faculty members who rained abuse on me publicly, including a public assertion about his possession of a penis, at a seminar in which I was an invited guest. This happened in November 2019.

Continue reading The gender between men’s legs and other learnings from a college in kerala

A lesson in political theory from farmers’ unions

A little bemused, I heard a writer addressing the farmers’ protests recently say in all solidarity and sincerity – “What we have been writing about for long, you have demonstrated at ground level.”

On the contrary, I believe that this massive and electrifying protest against the farm laws is at the cutting edge of political theory and political practice, from which writers and academics must listen and learn.

Please listen to the statement by Kanwaljeet Singh on the Supreme Court judgement staying the farm laws, and setting up an “expert” committee to “negotiate” between the farmers and the government.

Speaking on behalf of the joint forum of farmers’ unions, Kisan Ekta Morcha, Kanwaljeet (of Punjab Kisan Union) makes what I think are two critical points regarding the law and how movements can relate to it. These thought provoking points have larger resonance and require wide ranging debate and consideration. Continue reading A lesson in political theory from farmers’ unions

Invention of Merit and the ‘Millstone of Caste’: Mohan Rao

Guest post by MOHAN RAO

“And yet there must be deliverance for we are all otherwise convicted at birth.”

I want to thank Srivats and Anveshi for inviting to be part of a discussion about the book, Caste as Merit, by Ajantha Subramaniam.* I am not a scholar on these issues and I must confess this scares me sometimes, for I wonder if we can discuss these issues at all? Some friends actually advised me not to take part in this discussion, because I was, ineluctably,  going to be labelled as Brahmin, talking about a book written by a Brahmin in the US! In my own estimation though, I remain a nastika, a non-believer, out of Brahminical bounds.

I would like to begin by showing a lithograph – and a story.

Continue reading Invention of Merit and the ‘Millstone of Caste’: Mohan Rao

The Farmers’ Struggle – The Govt is Making a Big Mistake

 

 

Farmers’ protest, image courtesy Outlook India

The Central government is playing with fire – and along with it the Supreme Court of India. They had banked upon the ‘Modi magic’ or ‘Modi charisma’ to see them through this time as well, just as it had on earlier gambles like demonetization. The overconfidence that they can push through anything- even the most unpopular measure – by using a combination of the media-administered ‘nationalist potion’ and Modi’s ‘magic’, has led it to the corner it has painted itself into.

The situation is serious, as over 60 people have died and innumerable old people are still out there in the freezing cold. They have put their lives in danger, expecting the government to come out with the only solution that can save them, their livelihoods and their autonomy, namely the repeal of the laws. They aren’t prepared to go back home for the way they see it, it is better to die fighting than simply die the way the government wants them to.

However, the worst is yet to come – for the confrontation is bound to reach a flashpoint as 26 January draws closer and the farmers are forced into the desperate action of holding their proposed tractor rally by entering Delhi. If the government continues to fiddle, simply hoping that the storm will blow over, it is sadly mistaken.

Let’s face it: for the farmers there the new farm laws constitute a death warrant – as some of their leaders have put it – and therefore a matter of life and death. For the government, on the other hand, it is a question of further expanding the obscene super-profits of crony corporate capitalists, who have already made a killing even as lakhs and lakhs of ordinary people were pushed to destitution during the lockdown. Continue reading The Farmers’ Struggle – The Govt is Making a Big Mistake

Mohan Bhagwat’s Divisive Mantra on Automatic Patriotism

It is a mischievous denigration of constitutional principles and values which declare every human equal and bar discrimination.

Mohan Bhagwat

“A Hindu is an automatic patriot and can never be an anti-national.” Remember the line? It is of Mohan Bhagwat, the Sangh supremo, who was at his best last week, at the launch of the book, Making of a Hindu Patriot: Background of Gandhiji’s Hind Swaraj. The book on Gandhi’s journey from Porbandar in Gujarat to England and South Africa and back to India, by JK Bajaj and MD Srinivas, was released by the Centre for Policy Studies.

In this book is the controversial claim that during 1893-94, Gandhi was pressurised to change his religion by both his Muslim employer and Christian colleagues in South Africa, which he refused. And by 1905, the book says, he became a devout Hindu.

Sure, everybody has a right to express their views, the authors and Mohan Bhagwat included, but the veracity of their claim still needs to be tested. As for the alleged pressure on Gandhi, the claim seems to come from out of the blue, and I would take it with a pinch of salt.

(Read the full article here )

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Can Delhi Experience Blue Yamuna once again? Dilli hai jiska naam VIII: Manoj Misra

We thought of a series on Delhi that does not talk only of the narrow lanes of Shahjahanabad, the Mughalia, aka Mughlai delights and the lip-smacking Chaats of Chandni Chowk or the grand ruins of the seven Delhis and the wide open spaces and broad roads, but a series that also looks at the way Delhi has evolved. We wanted to explore the logic of the city and of the forces that have shaped the idea of the city itself.  It was this idea that made us approach people who have engaged with the city with love and care for decades and we requested them to write for Kafila.

This series is titled Dilli hai jiska naam and the links to the previous posts can be found at the end.

This is the eighth post in the series by MANOJ MISRA

The article that follows is dedicated by the author to the memory of Prof. Brij Gopal, a leading authority on Wetlands and Aquatic Systems, who passed away on the 4th of January 2021. Manoj Misra, the author of the article was keen that his tribute to Prof. Brij Gopal be placed at the head of his piece. The article, which focuses on the issues that bedevil the once mighty river Yamuna, follows the tribute. 

In Memoriam – Prof. Brij Gopal (1944-2021)

Prof. Brij Gopal, a former Professor of Environmental Sciences at JNU breathed his last suddenly on 4 January 2021. An internationally renowned expert on wetlands and aquatic systems he was associated with the National Institute on Ecology (NIE). After retiring from JNU he set up in 2009 the “Centre for Inland Waters in South Asia” (CIWSA) at a small village named Peera near Khajuraho in Madhya Pradesh with an objective to encourage and mentor budding researchers and to work on water related issues of Bundelkhand region.

He was amiable and yet firm. To him science and scientific facts were paramount. Having seen increasing threats to rivers and their floodplains he convinced the union Ministry of Environment & Forests to consider legal protection to them in form of a River Zone Regulation (RRZ) on the lines of CRZ. He became the key architect of the draft notification but which for largely political reasons is still to get notified.

His vast scholarship was acknowledged by ministries and courts and he was asked to help as a member on various expert committees.

To us at the India Rivers Week/Forum (IRF) and Yamuna Jiye Abhiyaan (YJA) he was a constant source of encouragement and advice. His passing away is an irreplaceable loss and his absence would be gravely felt.

May his soul rest in peace!   

Can Delhi Experience Blue Yamuna once again? Manoj Misra

Let us ‘clean’ the river….has been the rallying call.

To see a ‘clean’ river be it Ganga or Yamuna has for decades been a fond national wish. Appropriately the apex government agency for Ganga rejuvenation has been named the ‘National Mission for “Clean” Ganga’ (NMCG). Continue reading Can Delhi Experience Blue Yamuna once again? Dilli hai jiska naam VIII: Manoj Misra

Farmers’ discontent – a report from Karnataka: Ganesh Devy

Guest post by GANESH DEVY

9 January 2021

 As a spontaneous reaction to the failure of the government to bring the discussions with the farmers to a conclusion even after eight rounds of discussion, many farmer-organizations in North Karnataka took out a tractors protest rally today. A broad-spectrum of farmer organizations, civil society organizations and members of political parties participated in it.

One saw active presence of the former BJP Union Minister in Atal Bhari Government  Baba Gowda Patil, now in JDS , Gururaj Hansimarad, JDS, farmer activist Gangadhar Patil-Kulkarni, CPM-Union activist Abdul Khan, Gandhian social worker Adv. Nerlikar, Congress member Basavaraja Malkari, Secular Unity activist Ashraf Ali and many other prominent figures form North Karnataka standing on tractors and shouting slogans.

Continue reading Farmers’ discontent – a report from Karnataka: Ganesh Devy

‘उत्तर प्रदेश विधि विरुद्ध धर्म-समपरिवर्तन प्रतिषेध अध्यादेश’ फ़ौरन रद्द करो : एक बयान

133 संगठनों और 858 लोगों की तरफ़ से जारी बयान

Scrap the “Uttar Pradesh Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Ordinance” Immediately

इस बयान पर दस्तख़त करने वाले संगठनों और व्यक्तियों की फ़ेहरिस्त इसके अंग्रेज़ी वर्ज़न में देखें.

प्रिय मित्रों,

18 वर्ष की आयु में हम अपने पार्षदों, विधायकों, सांसदों को वोट दे सकते हैं। 18 की उम्र में, हम तय करते हैं कि कौन ऐसी नीतियां बनाएगा और लागू करेगा जो हमें, हमारे प्रियजनों, हमारे समुदाय, हमारे देश को प्रभावित करती हैं 18 में, हमें अपने मताधिकार का जिम्मेदारी से प्रयोग करने के लिए पर्याप्त परिपक्व माना जाता है  

हालांकि, चाहे 18 साल की उम्र में हो या 50 की उम्र में, हमें अपने रोमांटिक पार्टनर तय करने की या किससे शादी करनी है की, इजाज़त नहीं है!! अल्पसंख्यक धर्म, जातियों, दबीकुचली जातियों, समलैंगिक ट्रांस और क्वीयर के साथ दोस्ती और रोमांटिक संबंध नहीं बनाने के लिए हमारे परिवारों द्वारा चेताया जाता है ।अगर कोई हिंदू महिला किसी मुस्लिम पुरुष से प्रेम करती है तो यह समाज में अपराध माना जाता है, अगर वे शादी करते हैं और महिला मुस्लिम धर्म में धर्मांतरण करती है तो यह मान लिया जाता है कि मुस्लिम पुरुष ने उसे धर्मांतरण के लिए मजबूर किया है। अंतरविश्वास और अंतरजाति विवाहों में भी, यह मान लिया जाता है कि दूसरा व्यक्ति महिला की इच्छा के विरुद्ध धोखा देकर उसे बाध्य कर रहा है और उसके इरादे गलत हैं। अक्सर हम सुनते हैं कि कैसे समलैंगिक जोड़ों को उनके जैविक परिवारों, समाज और पुलिस द्वारा प्रताड़ित किया जाता है जिसमें पुलिस कानूनी प्रक्रिया पूर्ण करने और संरक्षण देने के बजाए परिवार की आकांक्षा को ही पूरा कर रही होती है  ।समलैंगिक महिलाओं, समलैंगिक पुरुषों, ट्रांस व्यक्तियों को तथा सिर्फ स्त्रीपुरुष सम्बन्धों पर विश्वास करने वाले ब्राह्मणवादी परिवार इस से परे, अंतरंग संबंधों और सामाजिक जीवन जीने के  आकांक्षीलोगों को घरों पर गंभीर दमन का सामना करना पड़ता है

27 नवंबर 2020 को पारित उत्तर प्रदेश सरकार के धर्मांतरण  निषेध अध्यादेश मेंरोमांटिक पार्टनर चुनने में धर्म, जाति, लिंग और लैंगिकता की सीमाओं का उल्लंघन करने वाले लोगों पर परिवारधर्मसमुदायों द्वारा की गई हिंसा को मंजूरी देने की बात कही गई है।एक्ट के मुताबिक हर धर्मांतरण गैरकानूनी है। धर्मांतरण के लिए जिलाधिकारी से पूर्व मंजूरी जरूरी है।अधिनियम में यह भी कहा गया है कि किसी व्यक्ति के पिछले धर्म में पुनर्परिवर्तन अवैध नहीं है, भले ही जबरन किया जाए ।जबकि हिंदू दक्षिणपंथी समूहों और दक्षिणपंथी नेतृत्व वाली सरकारों ने अंतरविश्वास रोमांटिक संबंधों के बारे में लोगों कोलवजिहादके रूप में भड़काया, जहां ज्यादातर मामलों में मुस्लिम आदमी को आतंकवादी मान लिया जाता है, ऐसी कोई घटना या आंकड़े नहीं हैं जो यह साबित करें कि ऐसे रोमांटिक रिश्ते कभी आतंकवादी गतिविधियों से जुड़े मिले हों दूसरी ओर, ऐसे असंख्य उदाहरण हैं जहां राज्य और समुदाय ने अंतरविश्वास प्रेम और विवाहित वयस्क जोड़ों पर गलत तरीके से हमले किये हैंI स्थानीय पंचायतों ने भी समुदाय के मानदंडों का उल्लंघन करने के लिए युवा जोड़ों को मौत के घाट उतार दिया है। हाल ही में शेफिनजहां मामले 2018, मेंजहां अंत में सुप्रीम कोर्ट ने विश्वास बदलने का अधिकार माना, और कहा कि विश्वास बदलने का अधिकार पसंद का मौलिक अधिकार है और यह भी देखा गया है कि, एक बार दो वयस्क व्यक्ति रोमांटिक साझेदारी में प्रवेश करने के लिए सहमत होते हैं तो परिवार, समुदाय, कबीले की सहमति आवश्यक नहीं है Continue reading ‘उत्तर प्रदेश विधि विरुद्ध धर्म-समपरिवर्तन प्रतिषेध अध्यादेश’ फ़ौरन रद्द करो : एक बयान

Scrap the “Uttar Pradesh Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Ordinance” Immediately: A Statement

A STATEMENT BY 133 ORGANIZATIONS and 858 INDIVIDUALS

Dear friends,

At the age of 18, we can vote for our councilors, MLAs, MPs. At 18, we decide who will make and implement policies that affect us, our loved ones, our community, our country. At 18, we are supposed to be mature enough to responsibly exercise our voting rights.

However, whether at the age of 18 or at the age of 50, we are not allowed to decide our romantic partners or who to marry. We are not allowed to have friendships and romantic relationships with people of `the other’ religion, caste, ethnicity, genders, sexualities.

If a Hindu woman chooses a Muslim man as her romantic partner, it is considered a crime in society and if they marry and the woman converts to Muslim religion, it is assumed that the Muslim man has forced her for conversion. In inter-faith and also in inter-caste marriages, it is taken for granted that the other person is bound to cheat you or dupe you and that the person you have chosen to be your partner has some wicked, ulterior motive to `make’ you fall in love.

In homo-erotic romantic relationships, often we hear how lesbian couples are being tortured by biological family, community and the police often acting on behalf of the family. Lesbian women, gay men, trans persons face severe repression at home for transgressing gender norms, aspiring for intimate and social lives beyond the compulsory Brahmanical hetero-normative family system. Many of us have similar painful and traumatic experiences.

`The Uttar Pradesh Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Ordinance 2020’ passed on 27th November 2020, seeks to sanction the violence committed by family-religion-communities on people who transgress boundaries of religion, caste, gender and sexuality in choosing romantic partners.

This Ordinance is simultaneously an attack on any person who wishes to change her religion. According to the Act, every conversion is illegal. The conversion requires the prior sanction from the District Magistrate. The Ordinance also says that `reconversion’ to a person’s previous religion is not illegal even if done forcibly. This is the gateway to what is termed `ghar wapasi’.

Over the last few years, the Hindu right-wing groups and right-wing led governments have accelerated their attempts at whipping up paranoia about inter-faith romantic relationships. They deliberately call it ‘love-jihad’, equating the Muslim lover with terrorism, while there have been no incidence or statistics that even the right-wing gangs or governments have been able to furnish. Continue reading Scrap the “Uttar Pradesh Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Ordinance” Immediately: A Statement

A confession of its own loss of legitimacy – the Modi government must resign

Farmers across the country have geared up to escalate their protests against the farm laws, as the government remains adamant in its commitment to its crony capitalists. The talks yesterday failed as three Union ministers part of the negotiations said it was not possible to commit to a rollback of the legislation without “consultations with higher authorities”.  

Who are these mysterious higher authorities whom they dare not name? Do they mean the Pradhan Sevak Himself, who is after all, within tweeting distance at all times, and could have deigned to talk to the farmers’ representatives; or do they mean his paymasters? 

Meanwhile 60 farmers have died at the Singhu Border protest site alone, according to doctors, to deafening silence from this utterly shameless government, that has tear-gassed and lathi charged its people, and forced them to brave the bitter cold and torrential rain in protest at these laws, which will wreak devastation on agriculture and on food security for all.

But the most revealing statement of all comes from the Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar, an explicit admission of the total loss of legitimacy of his government. Continue reading A confession of its own loss of legitimacy – the Modi government must resign

ONION CITY – Dilli hai jiska naam VII: Anisha Shekhar Mukherji

We thought of a series on Delhi that does not talk only of the narrow lanes of Shahjahanabad, the Mughalia, aka Mughlai delights and the lip-smacking Chaats of Chandni Chowk or the grand ruins of the seven Delhis and the wide open spaces and broad roads, but a series that also looks at the way Delhi has evolved. We wanted to explore the logic of the city and of the forces that have shaped the idea of the city itself.  It was this idea that made us approach people who have engaged with the city with love and care for decades and we requested them to write for Kafila.

This series is titled Dilli hai jiska naam and the links to the previous posts can be found at the end.

This is the seventh post in the series by Anisha Shekhar Mukherji

Onion City: Anisha Shekhar Mukherji

 Apparitions of different Delhis : A medieval structure engulfed by the expansion of Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, 2010 (Photo: Snehanshu Mukherjee)

Delhi often reminds me of an onion. Imperfectly taken apart, many layered, veined, maimed. Its layers are not coherent or visibly bound. Scattered stray wisps forlornly curl at the edges in some corner, many centuries lie bunched together in another. Yet within them lie hidden vapours of many pasts, rising unbidden to sting you into an awareness of a different time.

Celebrated in tradition, song and history, the region of Delhi has been an urban centre almost continuously for more than 3000 years. The legendary epic Mahabharata[1] refers to Indraprastha—the capital of the kingdom of the five Pandavas, each embodying a virtue, and their beautiful wife, Draupadi—on whose site it is said, present-day Delhi sits. The Pandavas lost and won Indraprastha again. And that has been the fate of Delhi through the ages—to be lost and won successively by different rulers. Archaeological fragments and architectural remains of later dynasties, who built their cities here, may still be seen—from those of the Tomars in the eleventh century to the Mughals in the nineteenth century CE—vast palaces, intricate temples, looming gateways, arched bridges, domed mosques and tombs. In actuality each ruler demarcated a portion of land, within the larger area of what is now termed Delhi, as his city. So, effectively, the various cities of Delhi consisted of separate stakes of land with their own city walls, forts and supporting fabric. Sometime these cities encompassed and integrated the older ones. Sometimes they appropriated, ousted or ignored them. Continue reading ONION CITY – Dilli hai jiska naam VII: Anisha Shekhar Mukherji

मौजूदा किसान आन्दोलन पर वक्तव्य : रवि सिन्हा

Guest Post by Ravi Sinha

Image may contain: 1 person, beard

किसानों के इस आन्दोलन को उसके तात्कालिक उद्देश्यों और सम्भावनाओं मात्र के सन्दर्भ में देखें तो भी यह ऐतिहासिक है. अपनी अंतिम और सम्भावित सफलता से स्वतन्त्र इसकी उपलब्धियाँ अभी ही ऐतिहासिक महत्त्व की साबित हो चुकी हैं. लेकिन इस आन्दोलन के अर्थ और इसकी सम्भावनायें और भी बड़ी हैं. भारत की दुर्दशा के इस घोर अँधेरे में, जहाँ अधिनायकवादी फ़ासिस्ट शक्तियों के ख़िलाफ़ प्रतिरोध की सम्भावनााओं को एक के बाद एक कुचल दिया जाता रहा है, यह आन्दोलन एक मशाल बनकर सामने आया है. किसानों से शुरू होकर यह आन्दोलन सिर्फ़ किसानों का नहीं रह गया  है. पंजाब और हरियाणा के किसानों के द्वारा दिल्ली को घेरने से शुरू हुई यह मुहिम अब दिल्ली की सत्ता को घेरने वाली चौतरफ़ा मुहिम का रूप लेती जा रही है. हम किसानों के इस आन्दोलन को सर्वप्रथम इसलिए समर्थन देते हैं और उसमें इस लिये शामिल हैं कि उनकी माँगें जायज़ हैं और इस सरकार द्वारा ज़बरदस्ती लाये गये तीनों क़ानूनों को लेकर उनकी आशंकायें वास्तविक हैं. और हम इस आन्दोलन को इसलिये सलाम करते हैं और इससे प्रेरणा लेते हैं कि यह अँधेरे में रौशनी की मशाल बनकर सामने आया है.

 अगर हम आंदोलन की तात्कालिक माँगों और उद्देश्यों की विस्तृत चर्चा यहाँ नहीं करते हैं तो इसका अर्थ यह नहीं कि इनके जायज़ और ऐतिहासिक महत्त्व के होने में हमें कोई संदेह है. अब यह जगज़ाहिर है कि ये तीनों क़ानून उस शैतानी योजना का हिस्सा हैं जिसके तहत कृषि क्षेत्र को कारपोरेट पूँजी के प्रत्यक्ष आधिपत्य में ले जाने की तैयारी है. यह न केवल किसानों की रही-सही आर्थिक सुरक्षा को समाप्त करेगा, सरकार को उसकी जिम्मेदारी से मुक्त करेगा और न्यूनतम समर्थन मूल्य तथा राज्य-संचालित मंडियों की व्यवस्था को तोड़ देगा, बल्कि यह पूरे देश की आम जनता की खाद्य-सुरक्षा – जितनी भी है और जैसी भी है – को ख़तरे में डाल देगा. साथ ही ये क़ानून भारत के संघीय ढाँचे के विरुद्ध भी हैं, और केन्द्र द्वारा राज्यों के अधिकारों का अतिक्रमण हैं. यह सब आप सभी को मालूम है और इन कारणों से ही इस आंदोलन का सूत्रपात हुआ है.

Continue reading मौजूदा किसान आन्दोलन पर वक्तव्य : रवि सिन्हा

Farming the Future, Farming As Future

Today is the last day of the dreadful year that 2020 was – not only because of the pandemic but it has been a year full of the most vicious attacks on dissent and protests. It has also seen wanton arrests of those who raised their voices against the myriad injustices of this regime. The year that began with the epic struggle against the CAA-NRC ends while another epic struggle – that of the farmers – is going on. This post is dedicated to them and to the future of the farmers in struggle.

In the video above, Narayana Reddy, a farmer talks about farming. Having run away from home at a young age and worked as a cleaner earning Rs 40 a month, Reddy gradually got better jobs and saved some money with which he bought land for farming. Listen to his brief account here and you will realize that this charismatic and much celebrated farmer started off farming exactly the way it was understood in those days – that is to say, with standard ‘Green Revolution’ techniques.  In five to six years, Narayana Reddy tells us, he became a spectacularly successful model farmer but something was amiss. Despite high yields, I was continuously losing money, he says. The story, with minor variations, was the same as that of Green Revolution farmers in Punjab: a few years of prosperity, accompanied by huge losses due to rising input costs (tractors, fuel, fertilizers, high-yielding variety seeds, pesticides, electricity run pumps), and rapidly deteriorating soil quality, depleting water table, disappearing of locally suitable crops.

There was no historical destiny or necessity in all this. Major US foundations like Ford and Rockefeller Foundations were involved in pushing this new way of doing ‘industrial’ agriculture developed by Norman Borlaug. I am not suggesting that this was a conspiracy but it was certainly something that took away control from the hands of the peasants and in the name of modernizing agriculture, made them dependent on big corporations (backed by the state) who were lurking behind this innocent-sounding rhetoric of increased productivity and prosperity. With the new farm laws, we are currently facing a fresh round of attacks on the autonomy and livelihooods of the farmers – and this time the government can’t pretend to any innocence in this regard.

So let us ask an elementary question: Why do people work and produce? The answer obviously is because they want to live well and live better in this world, here and now.

Continue reading Farming the Future, Farming As Future

Shahjahanabad My Love Affair – Dilli hai jiska naam VI:  Jayshree Shukla

 We thought of a series on Delhi that does not talk only of the narrow lanes of Shahjahanabad, the Mughalia, aka Mughlai delights and the lip-smacking Chaats of Chandni Chowk or the grand ruins of the seven Delhis and the wide open spaces and broad roads, but a series that also looks at the way Delhi has evolved. We wanted to explore the logic of the city and of the forces that have shaped the idea of the city itself.  It was this idea that made us approach people who have engaged with the city with love and care for decades and we requested them to write for Kafila.

This series is titled Dilli hai jiska naam and the links to the previous posts can be found at the end.

This is the sixth post in the series, by JAYSHREE SHUKLA

Shahjahanabad My Love Affair: Jayshree Shukla

(All images by Jayshree Shukla)

 

Ja’ama Masjid

My love affair with Shahjahanabad is only five years old. But it has the passion and intensity of star crossed lovers who fight to be together against all odds. It all began when I enrolled to go for a heritage food walk with a cousin of mine.

The omens were not good. Mohammed (my friend and family driver) and I made the unwise decision to drive to Chandni Chowk and we got stuck in the mother of all jams almost right away. I frantically checked my watch over and over again. My cousin, who had wisely chosen to use the Metro, was already there. Finally, the group left without me.

As they moved to halt number one, I thought I could join them there. But to no avail. I was still stuck. I finally caught up with my group at halt number three. They were having Kanji Vadas. Then we crossed over to the other side and stopped briefly at the Sunehri Masjid. Here we learnt that Nadir Shah had ordered the massacre of the citizens of Delhi standing atop the roof of the Masjid. Exactly there, I too got slaughtered. In my enthusiasm I remained blissfully unmindful of the purse slung carelessly over my shoulder. I discovered soon enough that my wallet was gone. As were all my IDs, my credit and debit cards, all the money I had – everything. I had been foolish enough to keep everything in the wallet and bring it along that evening. So the heritage food walk ended for me in ten minutes. I was not even able to pay for it! And I spent the evening at the Kotwali trying to get an FIR registered. Continue reading Shahjahanabad My Love Affair – Dilli hai jiska naam VI:  Jayshree Shukla

Pandemic Lowers India’s Level of Democracy

THIS GOVERNMENT HAS STIGMATISED THE VERY IDEA OF PROTEST, YET IT IS STRUGGLING TO MANAGE THE MASS UPSURGE AGAINST THE FARM LAWS.

Parliament Closed

For nearly a month, lakhs of farmers have staged sit-ins on various points along the border shared by the national capital and neighbouring states. Their peaceful movement, which is drawing support from farmers across the country, is meant to persuade the government to repeal the farm-related laws that it pushed through Parliament in September.

The farmers have refused to accept the government’s claim that the new laws would benefit them. They insist that these laws would dismantle state procurement and open up agriculture to contract farming, which would only help big corporations. They have also been insisting that corporations will amass essential food commodities and manipulate stocks and prices, for the government has also revoked stocking limits.

The three laws were initially introduced as ordinances this summer while the Covid-19 pandemic was raging and the country was still segregated into red, green and amber zones. Thereafter, they were passed in Parliament without discussion or debate. The manner of their introduction—rather, imposition—threw all democratic norms to the winds and so farmers see no reason to trust the intention behind them either.

Farmers do not look forward to a time when large retail chains would dictate terms and impose conditions on them. They rightly say that these laws would usher in an attack on the right to food security of working people and escalate food prices, which would hurt all consumers.

The immediate response of the government to the concerns of farmers was to repress and distort their movement. Not a day has passed without fresh abuse hurled at them. Starting from “Khalistani” to “Urban Naxal” to “anti-national” to “fake farmers”, every trick in the book has been tried to stigmatise them. Nor have the authorities made serious efforts to stop those who are maligning this historic peaceful protest.

( Read the full article here)

Farm Laws, Farmer Protests and Agrarian Crisis : Dr Jaya mehta

 

Dr Jaya Mehta, economist and activist, has been associated with the Joshi-Adhikari Institute of Social Studies, author of many books who coordinated an all India study of the Agrarian Crisis delivered a special lecture on ‘Farm Laws, Farmer Protests and Agrarian Crisis’ on 27 th December 2020.
Abstract of talk :
The reforms in agricultural marketing contained in the three farm laws were first announced by the finance minister on 15th May 2020 as Prime Minister’s relief package for the people. When Covid and lock-down had created crisis in the entire economy, migrant workers were walking hundreds of kilometers to reach home and the majority of households desperately needed state support and protection, the Modi government chose to withdraw state intervention and deregulate market forces in agriculture to leave people in complete disarray. After the controversial monsoon session of parliament, the reforms to deregulate market became laws.

Continue reading Farm Laws, Farmer Protests and Agrarian Crisis : Dr Jaya mehta

DISSENT, DEBATE, CREATE