The Death of a Historian – A Tribute to Biswamoy Pati: Saurabh Mishra

Guest post by SAURABH MISHRA

Historian Biswamoy Pati

These days, when lynch mobs, cow-killings, and aggressive patriotism dominate the headlines, what does the passing away of a mere historian mean? Not much, it seems. Yet, for those who knew Dr Biswamoy Pati, or had the good fortune of being taught by him, this has caused nothing short of a major storm in their lives.

I got to know Dr Pati in the summer of 1996, when he was a young and energetic lecturer in Delhi. I waited eagerly for his lectures (as did everyone else), which were really my first introduction into new ways of thinking about the world.

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Hail the Students’ Struggle for its Victory in the Battle against Corporate Publishers : New Socialist Initiative

Guest Post by New Socialist Initiative (Delhi Chapter)

On 9 March 2017 three well-established academic corporate publishing houses, Oxford University Press, Cambridge University Press and Taylor and Francis withdrew their copyright suit filed in the High Court against Delhi University and Rameshwari Photocopy Shop, a shop stationed at the Delhi School of Economics campus in Delhi University licensed by the University to carry out photocopying work. The suit that was filed in August 2012 on the grounds that photocopying material from books published by the above three publishers by university students, particularly in the compilation of coursepacks, constituted copyright infringement and revenue loss to the publishers. Right from the beginning it was clear this case was treated as a test case to instate a licensing regime, much like one that exists in the US and other First World countries.
Being the absolute primary constituency to be impacted by such a case and its possible outcomes, students of Delhi University were amongst the first to take up the battle against some of the most powerful publishing houses in academia. The ‘Campaign to Save D.School Photocopy Shop’ soon became the ‘Association of Students for Equitable Access to Knowledge’ (ASEAK), reflecting the growing politicisation of the student community on the issue of the knowledge commons in order to resist an increasing attempt across the world to create a market out of it where it didn’t as yet exist. This can be seen in the case of Costa Rica as well where there was an attempt to make photocopying illegal, a move that was successfully opposed on a massive scale by students.
The students of Delhi University, organised as ASEAK, opposed the move through a range of mechanisms, mobilising students from class to class, organising public meetings, taking out protest rallies, campaigning against these publishers at the annual World Book Fair held in New Delhi, influencing public opinion through writing in newspapers, and last but not the least, taking up the legal battle in the courts. NSI hails the struggle of the students that brought to the centre of the debate questions of equity and justice within the arena of production and distribution of knowledge resources, challenging the private property regime sought to be implemented in the sphere of knowledge production by these big academic corporate publishing houses. 
For the last few years the primary site of the battle has been in the High Court at New Delhi. The publishers have received repeated blow after blow in this process as well, leading to their final withdrawal of the suit altogether. The win is a big victory and testament to the struggle of the students, backed by a legal team that has been seminal to the victory, along with support from the academic community. The case, that attempted to strike a ‘balance’ between private profits of the publishers and the rights of students to access materials in the pursuit of their education, has dealt a blow to precisely such a misconception that the two ‘interests’ are in fact of equal concern.
Along with students, who assert their right over the materials they access as part of their fundamental right to education, scholars, often the authors of these materials, have equally come out to state that there is no better reward for their work as intellectuals, as to be read by as many students as can get hold of their work, photocopied or otherwise. The emphasis of the corporate publishers in asserting absolute ownership over the works they publish, in a rare instance where the labour of writing a book is provided at no cost to the publishers, borne by universities, students’ fees and taxpayers’ money instead, is shameful and needs to be rejected at all cost.
NSI congratulates the students, lawyers, academics and concerned citizens who persisted in their resistance against the bullying tactics of big academic corporate publishing houses and calls on the academic community to engage with new ways of producing and sharing knowledge so as to create equitable, just and democratic structures of knowledge production.
EDUCATION OVER COPYRIGHT! KNOWLEDGE OVER PROFIT!

Hard Ways of Lucidity – Thinking About the Crisis in the University: Prasanta Chakravarty

Guest Post by Prasanta Chakravarty

As I see it, university spaces are being assaulted at least from two sides; though it seems as if the two sides are antagonistic to each other, in practice they come dangerously close to each other. How and why is this happening, and what can be done about it?

Prasanta Chakravarty, immediately after being assaulted on February 22nd. Image from the India Today Website.
Prasanta Chakravarty, immediately after being assaulted on February 22nd. Image from the India Today Website.

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The Laziest Blog Post Ever Written – Educational reform and Demonetization

Remember the FYUP debacle? Remember (as repeatedly written about on Kafila as elsewhere) that it was the latest in a long series of badly-conceived, mindlessly-borrowed and forcibly-implemented ‘educational reforms’ that practically crippled universities around the country? And remember a certain Rev. Valson Thampu, authoritarian, controversy-soaked Principal of St. Stephens College and eager soldier for the reforms? Well Thampu, now-retired, has thrown his weight against demonetisation these days in a set of articles on The Daily O. Now the thing is, almost everything Thampu finds objectionable about monetary reform, can be said about educational reform.

No, literally, every single thing.

So I simply took his post and replaced some key words, to produce a post about education. I know, I know, it’s not nice to do this, especially when you know, he speaketh the truth on demonetisation and all. But it is too wonderful an opportunity to pass up, to not use Thampu’s own eloquent words to say, yet again, what he has steadfastly refused to listen to in the past. Besides, as I say above, this is the laziest blog post I have ever had to write – that’s always an incentive.

His article in the original can be read here.

POLITICS HIGHER EDUCATION | 5-minute 7-minute read | 22-12-2016 23-12-2006 VALSON THAMPU SUNALINI KUMAR

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The Cult of the Angry Pointed Finger, or How I learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Father

The recent order by the I&B Ministery to NDTV India to suspend broadcast for 24 hours drew a range of reactions from outrage to bewilderment. The supporters of the ruling party were of course triumphant – Subhash Chandra of Zoo, er sorry Zee News was so excited he wrote a whole article on this. But even outside the partisan responses, many well-meaning self-declared neutral janta declared that national security is not a matter to be trifled with, and that it was right for the government to admonish NDTV. Wait, ADMONISH?! Never mind that the government’s allegation of NDTV having compromised national security simply doesn’t survive a fact-check. Here is how the largest section of (English-speaking, online) popular opinion sees it.

This token punishment was good and important to show that someone is there who is monitoring the media who always thinks behind the mask of freedom of expression that they can do anything in the world. So it is important that the Government of the Day makes its presence felt otherwise there will more chaos and issues like the UPA government where everyone was going around like headless chicken and no one is bothered or cared if a Govt of Man Mohan Singh existed or NO. Even small timers like the Delhi CM AK and his Guru Anna were threatening and taking morcha in Ram leela Maidan every second day and doing expose every third day putting the Govt. of India on the back foot and in defensive mode running for shelter. Now Arvind Kejriwala and his team is running for shelter as every day a Delhi MLA is shown the door of the JAIL and Anna Hazare has been locked in a shell in his hometown watching the sunrise and the sunset. This means business, It is important that Govt of the India should show it exist otherwise human mentality is that then everyone shows that everyone exist and everyone is the BOSS. Cannot allow to happen like this MESS. PM Modi please keep it up and keep the heat on this reckless media, on AK and his gang, on others who are trying to show unnecessary activism and also the Judiciary, keep all the appointments on hold and let them slog day and night. Show who is the BOSS ! Show who is the BOSS !

Yes, Modi ji, show who is the BOSS!

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Victory for Students and Access to Knowledge in DU Copyright Case :ASEAK

Guest Statement by Association of Students for Equitable Access to Knowledge (ASEAK)

Victory for Students and Access to Knowledge in DU Copyright Case : Corporate Publishers Market ends at the gates of the University

In a rare and incredible order today, the Delhi High Court has dismissed the copyright infringement case filed by Oxford University Press, Cambridge University Press and Taylor and Francis (Routledge) against Rameshwari Photocopy Shop in Delhi School of Economics and Delhi University. Justice R.S Endlaw in a 94 pages long judgment interpreted educational exception under section 52(1)(i) of the copyright act in broad enough manner to cover the acts of photocopying.

The publishers sought to claim damages to the tune of 60 lakh rupees from the shop citing infringement of copyright which the publishers claimed was happening through photocopying of parts of books published by them. However, the publishers themselves stated that this case, for them, was a test case where they wanted to introduce licensing systems across universities in India. These licensing systems intended to control the extent to which material could be photocopied and also direct a share of profit from these reproductions to the publishers. We, the Association of Students for Equitable Access to Knowledge (ASEAK) demanded to be made a defendant in this case as we believed that it is the rights of students to access reading material that was at stake in this case- “Association of Students for Equitable Access to Knowledge (ASEAK) filed IA No.3454/2013 for impleadment in the present suit and which was allowed vide order dated 1st March, 2013 and ASEAK impleaded as defendant No.3.” (from the judgment). Continue reading “Victory for Students and Access to Knowledge in DU Copyright Case :ASEAK”

An Open Letter to Students from DUTA

Dear Students,

I have received letters from some of you, especially final year students, expressing your anxiety about the likely delay in results caused by the evaluation boycott protest of teachers, and appealing to teachers to withdraw this particular form of protest.

Let me assure you that we are equally keen to get back to evaluation and to work overtime to bring out your results at the earliest. In fact, this is not a form of protest we would have embarked on had the situation not been so devastating. You would have seen in the last three years, we observed a one-day strike only once when services of two teachers were terminated, preferring alternative forms of struggle even during the grimmest of battles such as those over theSemesterisation, FYUP, CBCS, debilitating administrative corruption, no permanent appointments, violation of Constitutional provisions of reservation, denial of promotions, a draconian Code of Conduct to suppress dissent and extreme forms of victimization. Continue reading “An Open Letter to Students from DUTA”