Narmada waters for Coca Cola – really, how much more development can we take?

cokeindiaFarmers who have for three decades non-violently protested the brutal ousting from their lands for the dam project on the Narmada river have been castigated for being anti-development. The dam would bring water to the thirsty, to the parched agricultural lands around it, we were told. Continue reading Narmada waters for Coca Cola – really, how much more development can we take?

The Indian Illusion: Shashank Kela

Guest post by SHASHANK KELA

Some time ago, I wrote an article seeking to dissect certain myths about Indian politics – and the class that dominates it, despite protestations to the contrary, the middle-class.[1] It is one of the habits of this class to see, and self-pityingly portray itself as victim – of mass politics, reservation policies, the great unwashed, of politicos bent upon appeasing the poor at the cost of sound principles and policies. Its conviction, of course, is that India was great, and on the cusp of becoming so again. This unfading glory is no more to be disputed than the existence of the sun, although opinions differ upon the precise placement of our golden age.

To the rabid fanatics of Hindutva, it resides in an unspecified Vedic time, when Hindus (not Indians) mysteriously succeeded in inventing aeroplanes, dynamite, nuclear weapons, the wheel, zero, and what have you (and mysteriously losing most of these wonderful things). To the Nehruvians, it is the age of Akbar, Ashoka, Harsha, periods of syncreticism and unique tolerance, where people of different faiths lived together peacefully and a composite culture flowered. To them, and to Gandhians, it also resides in the figure of Gandhi and the tradition of practical spirituality. To the fanatics of Islam, it is probably the age of Alauddin Khilji, the reign of Aurangzeb, and so on.

The never-ending debate about India’s pasts contains a diversity of opinions; however, on its future destiny, these begin to converge. The RSS and BJP believe, for example, that India is destined to become a great industrial power. So did Nehru, and assorted Indian Marxists. Indeed, it is an article of faith for the burgeoning middle-class (mostly, but not entirely Hindu) that India can, should and will equal China to become a great power, economic and military (thus leaving Japan and South Korea in the dust). Continue reading The Indian Illusion: Shashank Kela

Demolitions in Aya Nagar, Delhi: Thomas Crowley

Guest Post (and photographs) by THOMAS CROWLEY

The media is all praise for the central government’s rescue efforts in Kashmir, despite the evident hollowness of the government’s claims to heroism. But the press has little to say about the brutal destruction authored by the government in its capital city. Thursday, September 11, saw another demolition drive in a city that has seen far too many of them, from the Emergency to the Commonwealth Games. The demolition took place in the South Delhi neighborhood of Aya Nagar, where residents say about 250 houses were destroyed.

Aya Nagar 1

Continue reading Demolitions in Aya Nagar, Delhi: Thomas Crowley

Of Money-in-the-Blood and Blood-Money: Ravi Sinha

Guest Post by Ravi Sinha

Recently, the Indian Prime Minister had occasion to report to the Japanese on his genealogy and haematic chemistry. Addressing a house-full of corporate honchos in Tokyo he declared, “I am a Gujarati, money is in my blood”. One does not know what percentage of Gujaratis would feel insulted by such a description. It can be asked, perhaps more meaningfully, if great civilizations are created by money-in-the-blood types and one may wonder if Gujarati greats such as Narsi Mehta, Narmad, Govardhan Ram or Gandhi, too, had money flowing in their blood.

There is also some irony in the situation – prime minister of a country with the largest number of world’s poor boasting about ‘money in the blood’ to the richest men of a country that has, in the post-war decades, made more money per capita than any other on the planet. This prime minister can be accused of many things but not of lacking in hubris unencumbered by learning and cultivation.

One may wonder about something else too. The Indians may deserve their new prime minister and all his speeches – on the Independence Day, the Teacher’s Day and on all the other days. After all, they have elected him. But what have the Japanese done to deserve this? What forces them, despite the depth and dignity of their civilization, to lap up such crassness and banality?

The answer can be given in one word – money. Continue reading Of Money-in-the-Blood and Blood-Money: Ravi Sinha

Sailaab Nama – An Insider’s View of the Flood in Kashmir from the Outside: Gowhar Fazili

Guest Post by Gowhar Fazili

The floods in Kashmir can provide an outsider a momentary glimpse into the reality of Kashmir behind the corporate media propaganda smokescreen that is fumbling at the moment and like Truman Show (1998) exposing bits of the backstage. At the moment there are three key actors in Kashmir. There are the floods, the state and the people. Each one is on its own. One limb of the state—the state government was the first to crumble before the approaching waters.   The other limb—the mammoth military apparatus that has already inundated Kashmir since several decades, took two days to wake up to the crisis and when it finally did, its priority was to fish out the rich Indian tourists and the people close to the establishment out of the state. In the initial days, local people had to risk their own lives to get their marooned relatives to safety. Some hired local boats, some swam or waded through water, some made makeshift rafts out of anything that floats, including water tanks, car tubes, foam sheets, inflated baby bathtubs, so on and so forth to save their dear ones. The rest either drowned or kept moving up the floors of their houses as the waters kept rising until they reached their attics.

Continue reading Sailaab Nama – An Insider’s View of the Flood in Kashmir from the Outside: Gowhar Fazili

Jadavpur University students struggle against gender violence

In Jadavpur University (a State aided university of West Bengal), the Arts Students Faculty Union organizes a students’ cultural festival, Sanskriti. On the second night of the festival, an incident of violence occurred in the campus that resulted in a chain of events.

On the night of 28th August, during the ongoing festival, a second year student from the Department of History, Jadavpur University, was allegedly molested inside campus premises by a group of people from the hostel, and her male friend (not a JU student), was beaten up. According to the victim, she had gone near the hostel to relieve herself given the unavailability of bathrooms at the time, accompanied by her friend. On their way back, a group of hostel boys allegedly passed snide remarks which led to a scuffle, and then escalated to something bigger. While her friend was allegedly pulled away and beaten up, she was dragged into the hostel, where she claims she was molested. Continue reading Jadavpur University students struggle against gender violence