Beginning this week, we are starting a column which will appear every Thursday. The name of this column, ‘Parapolitics’, is meant to indicate something that happens all the time, outside the formally designated sphere of politics, or what is sometimes called ‘the political’ by political theorists. As a matter of fact, most of such politics – parapolitics – takes place everyday and is deeply tied to our everyday lives. It is also what we may call ‘existential politics’: the dalit boys flogged by upper caste men inside a police station in Una, the woman of Unnao, whose family is decimated by the rapist’s henchmen, the mob-lynching to which Muslims are subjected on a daily basis, the farmer or the unemployed who commits suicide, the displaced adivasis or the workers who fight back – all these are instances of things deeply political but occurring away from or beneath the ‘proper’ domain of politics. The ‘proper domain of politics’ – that of state/government, parties, elections, alliances and so on – has repeatedly historically revealed its fundamental disconnect with such existential politics. Indeed, whenever faced by mass protests, the first response by the political class is to reduce it to the purported machinations of ‘opposition parties’. It cannot think of people, ordinary people, coming out in autonomous action. We might recall the response of the UPA government, at the height of the anti-corruption movement, challenging the locus standi of the protesters with the questions: ‘who are you?’ or ‘who has authorized you?’ etc Parapolitics is that unauthorized politics of everyday life, which often bursts out into the open but may also simply go on under the surface without any necessary public manifestation.
The most striking aspect of the present upsurge of popular anger around the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), as has been widely noticed, is the way defiant young women have become the face of the struggle. I am not referring here only to the women whose iconic images are circulating everywhere today, but also to the sheer number in which they have come out and the power with which they have been speaking their mind before the media. And they belong to all communities.
With the central government denying three states’ – Bengal, Kerala and Maharashtra – tableaux proposals for Republic Day, politics has reached a new low. There is no doubt that the current struggles against the CAA/NRC and the confrontational stance of the Centre with these governments has a lot to do with this denial. The following is a petition that was started by Not in My Name Bangalore but it is a broad appeal to all chief ministers, minister and legislators, to boycott this farcical celebration of the Republic while destroying its very spirit.
We, citizens of India, have watched with horror and no little terror the political developments since 2014, and especially since the elections of 2019. There has been a steady attack on, and erosion of, our constitutional rights in this time.
The Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), in conjunction with the National Register of Citizens (NRC) and its precursor, the National Population Register (NPR), is a big blow to the Constitution of India. It is as disastrous and it is unconstitutional, and officially rings in the establishment of a Hindu Rashtra.
There has been staunch resistance to the CAA, most powerfully from student communities across the country. We wholeheartedly support them, in our words and on the streets. What was equally heartening was the pushback from the political establishment in a number of states – in varying degrees, it is true, but still truly a cause for hope. Continue reading Citizens Ask States to Boycott Republic Day Parade→
Teachers from different colleges and departments of the University of Delhi have expressed shock at the police repression on the struggles of the academic community across different universities in India and issued the following statement in support of the students.
We, concerned teachers of Delhi University, extend solidarity to the struggling academic communities of Jamia Millia Islamia (JMI), Aligarh Muslim University (AMU), Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), Delhi University (DU), and other central and regional universities that have borne the brunt of police excesses these past few days. We also express condemnation of the authoritarian and undemocratic manner in which the current dispensation is using all kinds of power to crush the basic rights of people to peacefully protest and question unjust laws. The closing off of metro stations, arterial roads, blocking of mobile networks, en masse detention of citizens who are peacefully gathering to protest, growing number of FIRs, 5000 plus preventive detentions, consistent heckling of protesters, including attack on public property during police raids, etc. are shocking and reflect blatant misuse of state power. The shameful act of interrupting media interactions / press briefings of vocal scholars/academicians through coercive police action is nothing short of sinister. The 25 plus and rising death toll of protesters, as well as the reports of police raids of Muslim localities, households and institutions is highly condemnable.
Law teachers and researchers from across the world have strongly condemned the recent police brutality against students of different universities struggling the recent changes in Citizenship law. They have also criticized the CAA and the NRC ideas as majoritarian and one that subverts our Consttitutional vision. Their statement:
We, the undersigned teachers and researchers of law, strongly condemn the police brutality on the peaceful protest by the students at Jamia Milia Islamia, Aligarh Muslim University and other universities.
On 15 December 2019 police entered the Jamia Milia Islamia and Aligarh Muslim University, and assaulted and detained the students. Students were dragged out of campus, and were paraded outside with hands raised. We believe that the action of the police is an attempt to suppress dissent and is an attack on the autonomy of the universities. The police action violates, inter alia, the right to peaceful assembly and freedom of speech and expression guaranteed under the Constitution of India and international law instruments to which India is a state party. We emphasize that academic institutions are an arena of discussion, debate and dissent, and the peremptory and ultimate objective of universities is to speak truth to power. By using force against the students, the government has struck at the heart of the culture of protests.