I feel honoured to be here to be part of the sixth conference of Human Rights Forum*. Many thanks are due to the organisers to invite a left activist like me to this deliberations and giving me an opportunity to share my ideas.
For me it was a belated realisation that the conference is taking place around sixth death anniversary of the legendary activist for human rights and for justice late K Balgopal, who played a key role in the formation of the Forum. It does not need underlining that late K Balagopal was a rare combination of a scholar – mathematician by passion and lawyer by commitment – and activist who not only broke new grounds in the discourse around civil liberties and human rights but did not hesitate to raise uncomfortable questions when the time came. One can still imagine the loss you all must have felt when he suddenly left six years ago. As rightly mentioned by the late K G Kannabiran in his obituary then, how he was ‘one in a century rights activist’ who brought on agenda ‘jurisprudence of insurgence’. Continue reading Neoliberalism, Hindutva Supremacism and Challenges before Revolutionary Movement
Guest post by Concerned Students of Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai
Universities are thought to be just, equal and free spaces. However the history of access to universities for certain sections of the society is not very old. Discrimination has been institutionalized and structurally carried out on the basis of caste, race, gender, religion and sexual identity even in the space of the university. However, over time there has been an increase in assertion from the marginalized groups in university spaces that has caused some disquiet among administrators. This is evident from various incidents that are taking place on a day to day basis in university spaces.
Kashmir and North East are two regions which have been frequently used by the Indian state to claim its sovereignty through grave violation of basic rights of people residing in these areas. Contrary to our beliefs, campuses and universities also reflect the larger politics of our society.
We, a group of students invited Dr Dibyesh Anand for a lecture titled “Deliberating Kashmir: Beyond AFSPA and Chutzpah” at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai on 3rd January 2015. Dr Dibyesh Anand is the Head of Department of Politics and International Relations at the University of Westminster, London. He is an acclaimed scholar on violence and States in South Asia and has also written and published extensively on his area of expertise. He has also been a visiting professor to the University of California Berkeley, the Australian National University, the Centre for Bhutan Studies, the Jawaharlal Nehru University and the Central University of Hyderabad. Following the procedure we had booked the room four days prior to the programme and invited students and faculty in TISS and outside to attend the talk. Continue reading Resist the Shrinking of Democratic Spaces on Campus: Concerned Students of Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai
A couple of weeks ago, filmmaker Anand Patwardhan was invited by the Editors’ Guild to deliver its annual lecture. Patwardhan’s speech, titled We or our Nationhood Redefined, was marked by his characteristically cool tone, systematically reassembling facts that have a tricky habit of leaking from national memory. Facts like the twentieth century’s worst genocidal dictator Adolf Hitler and his programme of racial cleansing has a respectable and massive following in India in the form of the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh. That the RSS has at least 50,000 branches across the country with over 40 million members, and runs a network of 18,000 schools across India. That one such child, recruited from the age of 8 from a relatively poor family, is Prime Minister Modi; and another is Party Chief Amit Shah. That just before the recent reshuffle, 5 Chief Ministers and 17 of the 23 Cabinet-level senior ministers were current or former RSS members. That the assassins of Gandhi are really the RSS, not the lone lunatic Godse who merely carried out what others dreamed about. That RSS’s poisonous communal agenda was roundly condemned by Sardar Patel, of whom PM Modi has promised to build the world’s tallest statue. Or more obscure but equally revealing facts, like the letter written by RSS chief Balasaheb Deoras from jail during Emergency, praising Indira Gandhi and especially her programme of sterilisation of Muslims. And those truly mind-boggling-in-their-irony facts, like the widespread involvement of the RSS in the 1984 anti-Sikh pogrom, when the BJP cynically says “1984” every time somebody says “2002”.
On a day when the Nanavati Commission has termed the 2002 anti-Muslim pogrom in Gujarat as a purely communal reaction to Godhra, and cleared then Chief Minister Modi’s government of any wrongdoing, or even inaction, it is critical we re-read Patwardhan’s speech, to remind ourselves exactly what we are up against if we believe in a non-communal, non-divided, heterogenous India. As Patwardhan put it, given the history of the RSS in this subcontinent, if a Modi didn’t exist, he would have to be invented. Read more.
FTII Students’ Association Press Release, 22/08/13
Five students of the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) were attacked outside of the National Film Archives of India (NFAI) on Wednesday 21/08/13 by the Akhila Bharateeya Vidyarti Parishad (ABVP).
The attack took place soon after the screening of Anand Patwardhan’s documentary Jai Bheem Comrade and the performance of Kabir Kala Manch at NFAI. The programme was organized by the FTII student’s body in association with Yugpath, a youth forum based in Pune. This was the first public performance of Kabir Kala Manch after two and a half years.
The five students attacked are Shameen a second year cinematography student, Ansar Sha a third year cinematography student, Kislay a third year Editing student, Sriram Raja also a third year Editing student and Ajayan a third year Sound student.
The screening of the documentary and the performance by Kabir Kala Manch (KKM) was finalized two weeks ago. There was a request to cancel the programme from various quarters respecting the call for bandh as a mark of protest against the murder of anti-superstition activist Narendra Dhabolkar. But Yugpath and the FTII student’s body decided to stick to their plan and go ahead with the screening and performance as a mark of respect and homage to Mr. Dhabolkar. Continue reading FTII Students’ Statement on the Attack on them by the ABVP in Pune
The “Urgent Appeal to the Conscience of the Nation on Koodankulam” open for signatures on DiaNuke.org was released yesterday, May 20th, in New Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata. Concerned people and activists are planning release events and readings of the appeal
India Gate, Delhi
in Chennai, Bangalore, Pune, Hyderabad and other cities in coming weeks. Grassroots organisations are distributing the appeal as pamphlet, translated in regional languages.
This Sunday, Vandana Shiva, renowned environmentalist and eco-feminist, released the national appeal on Koodankulam at the India Gate in New Delhi. Releasing the appeal, she expressed her anguish on the undermining of democracy by the Indian government in its pursuit of nuclear energy. Inviting NIMHANS doctors to ‘treat’ the mindset opposing nuclear energy projects is reflective of the nuclear-obsessed government’s contempt for its own people and their concerns, she said. Continue reading National Appeal on Koodankulam Becomes a Rallying Point for Solidarity Actions Across India
How many murdered Dalits does it take to wake up a nation? Ten? A thousand? A hundred thousand? We’re still counting, as Anand Patwardhan shows in his path-breaking film Jai Bhim Comrade (2011). Not only are we counting, but we’re counting cynically, calculating, dissembling, worried that we may accidentally dole out more than ‘they’ deserve. So we calibrate our sympathy, our policies and our justice mechanisms just so. So that the upper caste killers of Bhaiyyalal Bhotmange’s family get life imprisonment for parading Priyanka Bhotmange naked before killing her, her brother and other members of the family in Khairlanji village in Maharashtra, but the court finds no evidence that this may be a crime of hatred – a ‘caste atrocity’ as it is termed in India. Patwardhan’s film documents the twisted tale of Khairlanji briefly before moving to a Maratha rally in Mumbai, where pumped-up youths, high on testosterone and the bloody miracle of their upper caste birth are dancing on the streets, brandishing cardboard swords and demanding job reservations (the film effectively demolishes the myth that caste consciousness and caste mobilisation are only practised by the so-called ‘lower castes’). Asked on camera about the Khairlanji murders, one Maratha manoos suspends his cheering to offer an explanation. That girl’s character was so loose, he says, that the entire village decided to teach her a lesson.
Continue reading Jai Bhim, Comrade Patwardhan