Who cares for bengal?

( First published in a different form in the Wirehttps://thewire.in/communalism/bengal-violence-tmc-bjp on 14 June, 2018. This article is its revised and updated version.)

Do all of us, those who love Rabindra Sangeet, those who wistfully talk about Satyajit Ray, Ritwik Ghatak, Mirnal Sen, Aparna Sen, those who cannot live without Nazrul Islam, those whose first love across generations remains Sukanto Bhattacharji, women and men, ever thankful to Raja Ram Mohan Roy for his relentless struggle against his own people for abolishing the practice of Sati ,and this list is long, just sit and wring our hands and let Bengal bleed to death?  

Bengal is being ravaged by a cynical game between political parties. It is up for grabs. The Bhartiya Janata Party is relishing the moment and the Trinamul Congress, by its foolishness and hotheadedness is driving the state into the hands of the BJP. Mamata Banerjee needs to realise that she is the Chief Minister of the state and not merely the head of her party. It is unbecoming of her when she says that among the people killed after elections, the number of her people is higher than their( BJP’s) number. All suffering violence are the citizens of Bengal and therefore it is her responsibility, as the CM of the state  to give them a sense of security. It is not for her to only speak for her party members. But we can see that she is doing exactly this. She has started looking partisan and her appeal to save the Bangla culture sounds hollow and unconvincing to the people. Cannot she see that her own party people are now joining the BJP in large numbers?

Continue reading Who cares for bengal?

Update on “tally mismatch” in 2019 Lok Sabha Elections: Ravi Nair

In an earlier post  we made note of the serious matter of unaccounted movement of EVMs in private vehicles in different parts of the country and the mismatch between the ECI figures for voter turnout and EVM votes cast, neither of which the EC has satisfactorily explained until today.

Now in a detailed analysis in NewsClick, Ravi Nair points out that even three weeks after the last phase of the election, ECI is yet to publish the “final data”, and whatever it has put out till now is “provisional numbers”.  More worryingly, Nair points out that when glaring anomalies came into the public domain, ECI not only deleted the uploaded data from both Suvidha Portal and its main website, but also issued a release to say that whatever was published was “the provisional voter turnout data”, which was “tentative”.

However, the ECI never bothered to answer the fundamental questions: How did it announce winners based on these “provisional” and “tentative” data? How did the automated counting of votes polled in EVMs become “tentative”?

Read Ravi Nair’s article “ECI’s stance on data discrepancies: No right to question?” on NewsClick here.

God in the Classroom!

Unfolding Debate about Secularising Education

( To be published in ‘Indian Journal of Secularism)

“There is in every village a torch – the teacher; and an extinguisher – the priest.”
-Victor Hugo

Introduction
“Keep the words God, Jesus and the devil out of the classroom.”

A school teacher’s message on the first day of the school for first-grade students had caused tremendous consternation among a section of the parents.

She had a simple rationale to present her proposal. With their being a public school with children coming from different religions and beliefs joining it, she did not “[w]ant to upset a child/parent because of these words being used,” In her letter she had also advised them to talk to the children when they go to the church/temple/synagogue – whatever might be the case – or discuss the issue at home at an appropriate time and place of talking about it.” (https://www.indystar.com/story/news/education/2017/08/30/teacher-tells-first-graders-dont-talk-god-classroom/612118001/)

Well, instead of the discussion getting fixed on the slow imposition of the concept of God or closing of child’s minds it turned into a debate on students’ free speech rights. It did not take much time for the management of the school to rescind this proposal.

There is nothing new about this dilemma faced by a teacher who has welfare of students at the center of her/his concerns. Continue reading God in the Classroom!

A Case of Harassment of Dalit Student in Jadavpur University: Srijan Dutta

Guest post by SRIJAN DUTTA

The value of a man was reduced to his immediate identity and nearest possibility.

The line quoted above is from Dalit PhD scholar Rohith Vemula’s ‘last’ letter, discovered after he was found hanging in his hostel room in January 2016. The letter had exposed how caste-based discrimination is used as a medium of oppression against Dalits and other minorities. Casteism serves both as an ideology and as a means for exploitation by the upper castes and upper classes of the Indian society.

Recently, a complaint has been made by a second year Masters student of the Department of Library and Information Science in one of the hotbeds of Bengal student politics, Jadavpur University. Jadavpur Uiversity is also a premier institution of higher learning, with a well deserved reputation.  Raja Manna, a student belonging to the ‘Scheduled Caste’ category, has revealed that he has been facing a lot of harassment and discrimination at the hands of his dissertation guide, Prof. Udayan Bhattacharya, an upper caste Brahmin.

Continue reading A Case of Harassment of Dalit Student in Jadavpur University: Srijan Dutta

हमदर्दी और हमशहरीयत: ट्विंकल, टप्पल और भारत

( सत्य हिंदी.कॉम पर 10 जून,2019 को सहनागरिकता का भाव विकसित करना ज़रूरी शीर्षक से प्रकाशित टिप्पणी https://www.satyahindi.com/waqt-bewaqt/twinkle-sharma-murder-case-aligarh-102906.html का परिवर्द्धित रूप)

अलीगढ़ के क़रीब टप्पल में दो साल की ट्विंकल की हत्या के बाद सिर्फ़ अलीगढ़ नहीं, देश के कोने कोने से बच्ची के लिए इंसाफ़ की माँग की जा रही है। हत्या पर अफ़सोस, शर्म और नाराज़गी का इजहार किया जा रहा है।

दो साल की बच्ची को आपसी रंजिश के चलते ही क्यों नहीं, मार डालना परले दर्जे की विकृति है और उसका कोई मनोवैज्ञानिक औचित्य नहीं दिया जा सकता। यह तथ्य कि अभियुक्त पहले से ही ऐसा था, कि उसपर अपनी बच्ची के साथ बलात्कार का आरोप था, मारी गई बच्ची के परिजनों को कोई राहत नहीं पहुँचाता।दो साल की बच्ची की हत्या इसलिए भी अधिक क्रूर है कि वह किसी भी तरह अपनी रक्षा नहीं कर सकती थी।

शायद ट्विंकल बच जाती अगर पुलिस ने पहले ही परिवार की गुहार सुन ली होती। इसलिए ज़िम्मेवार पुलिसकर्मियों को सज़ा भी ज़रूरी है।

Continue reading हमदर्दी और हमशहरीयत: ट्विंकल, टप्पल और भारत

The “massive mandate” of 2019 and the role of the Election Commission

Caution: Long read!

This is the elephant in the room, is it not? Was this “massive mandate” of the Lok Sabha elections 2019, the result of a free and fair election? Should we continue to discuss this outcome – the scale of the BJP victory, the numbers of seats, the margins by which seats were won – through political analysis alone?

Rather, has not political analysis of the election become inevitably deeply influenced by these margins and these numbers of seats, by the scale of the sweep?  In other words, the analysis is of necessity post facto, assuming that these seats have actually been won fairly, and therefore represent the views of the electorate.

I found very revealing a story by two Reuters journalists who covered rural North India extensively.  Mayank Bhardwaj and Rajendra Jadhav ruminate on how they could have gone so wrong in assessing the mood of the electorate. Although they say they never thought Modi would lose this election, it looked certain that he would return with a reduced majority. There was nothing  they heard and observed on the ground that suggested the actual outcome. They conclude that next time they will travel even more, push their respondents harder, “be more aware of our limitations.”

Many seasoned journalists have the same sense of shock. But what if they were not wrong after all?

Continue reading The “massive mandate” of 2019 and the role of the Election Commission

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