Tag Archives: India

Crisis for the People, Opportunity for the Corporate-Government Nexus : NSI

Statement of New Socialist Initiative (NSI) on India’s ‘war against Covid 19’

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Today, India has emerged as a new epicentre for the novel corona virus in the Asia Pacific region.With 1,58,333 confirmed cases of Covid 19 and deaths of total of 4,531 people after contracting the virus, it has already crossed China’s Covid-19 numbers.

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New Socialist Initiative (NSI) feels that the grim news of steadily rising infections and fatalities reveal before everyone a worrying pattern but the government either seems to be oblivious of the situation or has decided to shut its eyes. It is becoming increasingly clear that the Union government has used incomplete national-level data to justify arbitrary policy decisions, defend its record and underplay the extent of Covid-19 crisis.

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Absence of transparency vis-a-vis data collection of Covid infection levels could be said to be the tip of the iceberg of what has gone wrong with India’s ‘war against Covid 19’.
The Prime Minister’s announcement of a 21-day countrywide lock down came with a mere four-hour notice. It was done without engaging in any collective decision-making process with states to honour and enhance the spirit of “cooperative federalism” between the Centre and the States. Continue reading Crisis for the People, Opportunity for the Corporate-Government Nexus : NSI

Mainstream Myths Versus Scientific Collaboration

The rediscovery of scientific collaboration across borders is a welcome development.

Fake News on COVID

Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less.

– Marie Curie.

Does the 5G network have any link to the novel corona-virus outbreak?”

Well, any sane person on this part of Earth would readily laugh at this outrageous claim. But this claim has “gone mainstream” leading even to bomb attacks on phone masts. So one has to sit up and analyse.

No doubt, when “psychological states peak and people’s anxiety levels are high,” as one expert puts it, one can easily become prey to such conspiracy theories. And as right-wing or conservative ideas have growing legitimacy in society, things can get even worse. Remember how for a long time Iran’s theocracy was in denial about the Corona-virus threat?

India is no exception to such false claims. All sorts of home remedies are being offered as a definite cure to the disease. We saw Gomutra parties where cow urine was drunk, supposedly as protection from this highly-contagious disease which has taken more than 100,000 lives and infected more than 1.7 million. No doubt it is an arduous task for progressives to counter all the rubbish being peddled around the pandemic and prepare people to take proper care while pressurising the powers-that-be to make public health a priority.

Such struggles can be better fought if individual scientists or groups of scientists join hands to sensitise and educate people.

The recent launch of a pan-institutional CovidGyan website (https://covid-gyan.in/) which is a brainchild of the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR), the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), and the Tata Memorial Centre (TMC) is a welcome step in this direction. Other key members of this initiative include Vigyan Prasar, IndiaBioscience, and the Bangalore Life Science Cluster (BLiSC, which comprises InStem and C-CAMP, in addition to NCBS-TIFR).

( Read the full article here : https://www.newsclick.in/Mainstream-Myths-Versus-Scientific-Collaboration)

फर्ज़ी प्रमाण पत्र के सहारे दलित और आदिवासियों के अधिकार पर डाका

सांसद समेत अन्य लोग फर्ज़ी कागज़ातों के ज़रिये दलित और आदिवासियों के अधिकार छीन रहे हैं.

Indian tribal people sit at a relief camp in Dharbaguda, in the central state of Chhattisgarh, March 8, 2006. Violence in Chhattisgarh, one of India's poorest states, has mounted since the state government set up and started funding an anti-Maoist movement. Picture taken March 8, 2006. REUTERS/Kamal Kishore

(फोटो: कमल किशोर/रॉयटर्स)

मध्य प्रदेश के बैतूल से अनुसूचित जनजाति के लिए आरक्षित सीट से दूसरी बार चुनी गईं सांसद ज्योति धुर्वे की सदस्यता फिलवक़्त ख़तरे में पड़ती नज़र आ रही है.

पिछले दिनों मध्य प्रदेश सरकार की उच्चस्तरीय जांच कमेटी ने सघन जांच के बाद उनके द्वारा प्रस्तुत किए जाति प्रमाण पत्र को खारिज़ कर दिया.

ख़बरों के मुताबिक अपने जाति प्रमाण पत्र की कथित संदिग्धता के चलते धुर्वे तभी से विवादों में रही हैं जब 2009 में वह पहली दफ़ा वहां से सांसद चुनी गई थीं. यह आरोप लगाया गया था कि वह गैर आदिवासी समुदाय से संबद्ध हैं और उन्होंने फर्ज़ी जाति प्रमाण पत्र जमा किया है.

इस मसले को लेकर मध्य प्रदेश उच्च न्यायालय के सामने एक केस दायर किया गया है और अदालत के आदेश पर ही उपरोक्त जांच पूरी की गई है.

गौरतलब था कि जांच के दौरान पाया गया कि उनका जाति प्रमाण पत्र वर्ष 1984 में रायपुर से जारी हुआ था, मगर जब कमेटी ने इस बारे में कुछ और प्रमाणों की मांग की तो सांसद महोदया उन्हें कमेटी के सामने प्रस्तुत नहीं कर सकी.

कमेटी ने यह फैसला एकमत से लिया है और इसके बाद सांसद महोदया के ख़िलाफ़ कार्रवाई की मांग उठी है. विपक्ष का कहना है कि यह मसला 2009 से सुर्ख़ियों में रहने के बावजूद राजनीतिक दबाव के चलते इस पर फैसला नहीं लिया गया था.

बहरहाल, ज्योति धुर्वे के बहाने फिर एक बार फर्ज़ी जाति प्रमाण पत्रों का मसला चर्चा में आया है.

(Read the complete text here : http://thewirehindi.com/8059/how-our-leaders-and-other-people-snatching-the-rights-of-dalit-and-adivasi-by-fake-certificates/)

Nation and its Violences: Sanjay Kumar

Guest Post by Sanjay Kumar

Violent thoughts and deeds are increasingly getting justified in the name of Indian nation. A mob of lawyers has attacked students, teachers and journalists, right in the middle of a court complex in the national capital. Leaders of these patriotic lawyers were later caught bragging on camera about how they will next time throw bombs on anti-nationals. A young woman in Delhi has received emails and face book posts threatening her with acid attack and sexual assault, because she happens to be a sister of Umar Khalid, one of the organisers of the JNU programme, during which according to police anti-India slogans were raised. The mere being of this woman, and her defence of her brother, is enough of a provocation for many men and women of the country to justify the threat of ultimate male violence against women. Another man, Mr Adarsh Sharma put posters in the central district of the capital announcing an award of Rs 11 lakh for anyone who kills Mr Kanhaiya Kumar, the president of  the JNUSU, charged with sedition. Mr Sharma claims that his ‘blood boiled’ when he saw Mr Kumar’s much publicised speech after his release on bail. The popular movie Pyasa (1957) of Gurudutt had a song ‘Jinhen Naz hai Hind par vo kahaan hain’, which used the reality of social degradation to question celebrations of the nation. Sahir’s poem worked because it asked Indians to look at themselves in the mirror of public morality of the recently independent India. That mirror has been cracked for long. With the brazenly violent now claiming that their violence and threat to violence should really be the pride of the nation, we are now witnessing the final shattering of that mirror. Continue reading Nation and its Violences: Sanjay Kumar

What does one write today?

It’s the kind of moment that makes you reach for poetry, for words that convey what can scarcely be written. It’s the kind of moment where you must write for it is writing that is itself at stake.

The debates on Charlie Hebdo are wide and varied. There is, as Joe Sacco so beautifully drew, before anything else, a deep yet horrifically dull sadness. Few and fewer in the world have the privilege to still be “shocked” by violence, to not have its banality be its true horror. There is solidarity, some of the most meaningful of which comes from cartoonists in the Arab world.  There is a wide agreement that no justification is possible for returning any measure of offence with death yet there is an insistence on the ability to critique even that which one defends. As Teju Cole eloquently argues: “moments of grief neither rob us of our complexity nor absolve us of the responsibility of making distinctions.” There are important, vital debates about what it means to “insult everyone equally” when everyone is not equal, reminding us that we must begin and ask our questions in place, in history; that we must remember that the power to criticise is a freedom but also a privilege. There are the universal debates on the limits to absolute speech, pointed to by Sandip Roy who reminds us that the French Government itself banned the earlier incarnation of Charlie Hebdo for printing a mock death notice of the then French PM De Gaulle. There are fears of the Islamophobia this violence will re-incarnate as, that Hari Kunzru argues is one intent of the attackers.

I write with a different intent today. I write not to enter these debates about Charlie Hebdo but to insist on what these deaths must provoke us to do: to translate our solidarity, our empathy, our fear, and our resolve into the real work of protecting the freedoms of speech, satire, offence, and expression in India. That is the tribute to Charlie Hebdo that matters, that transcends all our debates.

Continue reading What does one write today?

Lessons from Scotland for South Asia: Satya Sagar

Guest Post by Satya Sagar

Though ‘No’ finally trumped ‘Yes’ and the United Kingdom stayed ‘united’ the recent referendum for Scottish independence holds several important lessons for both votaries of separatism as well as national unity everywhere.

It also raises many questions, chief among them being, on a planet run by corporations and shaped by tsunami-like capital flows, do terms like national ‘independence’, ‘unity’ or ‘sovereignty’ have real meaning anymore? An even more fundamental question would be whether the nation-state, in its current form, has any future at all or not?

Coming to the lessons first, among the most obvious is the fact that it is possible to hold a referendum on independence peacefully, without a single shot being fired or spilling a single drop of blood.This has been hailed as a triumph of democracy and rightly so too.  How many countries around the world, which call themselves democracies, can muster the guts to allow a section of their citizens to exercise their right to self-determination through a simple vote? Continue reading Lessons from Scotland for South Asia: Satya Sagar

भगत सिंह और गांधी

क्या भगत सिंह और गांधी पर एक साथ बात की जा सकती है? परस्पर विरोधी विचारों और व्यक्तित्वों का ऐसा युग्म शायद ही मिले.एक को हिंसा का पक्षधर और दूसरे को हिंसा का घोर विरोधी माना जाता है.एक की छवि चिरयुवा की है,दूसरे की एक स्थिर वार्धक्य की. एक अधैर्य का प्रतीक माना जाता है,दूसरा धीरज की प्रतिमूर्ति.एक समाजवादी क्रान्ति का पैरोकार है तो दूसरा सह्य पूंजीवाद का वकील ठहराया गया है जिसके लिए उसने ट्रस्टीशिप की खूबसूरत आड़ ली.

असमानताएं यहीं खत्म नहीं होतीं.भगत सिंह ने औपचारिक शिक्षा न के बराबर ली, हालाँकि वे भयंकर अध्ययनशील थे,गांधी ने एक भले इंसान की तरह पूरी पढ़ाई की और फिर एक पेशेवर वकील की ज़िन्दगी बसर करने की कोशिश की. भगत सिंह अपनी पारिवारिक पृष्ठभूमि के कारण बचपन से ही ब्रिटिश साम्राज्य के घोर विरोधी थे.गांधी के जीवन के आरंभिक वर्ष ब्रिटिश साम्राज्य के वफादार के थे और वे उसकी बुनियादी अच्छाइयों में यकीन करते थे.भगत सिंह का ब्रिटिश हुकूमत के खिलाफ होना ही स्वाभाविक और तर्कसंगत था, गांधी कई संयोगों और दुर्घटनाओं के रास्ते इस नतीजे पर पहुंचे. Continue reading भगत सिंह और गांधी

The Sunset of the Century: Rabindranath Tagore

rabindranath-tagoreThe eve of India’s 66th Independence Day is a time as good as any to read this poem by RABINDRANATH TAGORE, even as India gets ready to sing to martial tune another Tagore poem, Jana Gana Mana. This English translation was published at the end of Tagore’s 1918 book, Nationalism.

THE SUNSET OF THE CENTURY

(Written in the Bengali on the last day of last century)

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The last sun of the century sets amidst the blood-red clouds of the West and the whirlwind of hatred.
The naked passion of self-love of Nations, in its drunken delirium of greed, is dancing to the clash of steel and the howling verses of vengeance. Continue reading The Sunset of the Century: Rabindranath Tagore

Lies, Damn Lies and NaMo – Why I do not support Modi and why you shouldn’t either: M Akhil

ImageGuest Post by M AKHIL: Listen to the flourish. The stage is set, the side-kicks are in place and the sycophants are scampering tirelessly to welcome their emperor. Narendra Modi has started his journey to the high seat of Indraprastha.

Curiously enough, his current ride is being celebrated as a victory lap by his ardent supporters. A bit too quick, don’t you think? Especially for a man who was only a few years ago, in terrible danger of being convicted for one of the most gruesome state-sponsored genocides in the history of independent India. Of course, he hasn’t been convicted yet, but many of his ministers and close aides have been. Babu Bajrangi’s confessions on record must be more than enough proof for Modi’s culpability. 1 Alas! Facts get twisted in the most unimaginable ways as they threaten to blow away an edifice carefully built by a dominant plutocracy with immense help from the ‘State-Temple-Corporate Complex’. 2 Here, I shall attempt to bust the Modi bubble which is being ridiculously pumped up by the holy nexus, even as you are reading this. After all, the BJP is possibly the party with the highest following among Indian netizens and the online publicity team of the current supremo is meticulous. An alternative view will be stark, but hopefully it will serve as food for thought for those among us getting nauseated by the dominant narrative. Continue reading Lies, Damn Lies and NaMo – Why I do not support Modi and why you shouldn’t either: M Akhil

Lessons from Delhi and Dhaka: Nagesh Rao and Navine Murshid

Guest post by NAGESH RAO and NAVINE MURSHID

Photo credit: AFP/Getty Images
Photo credit: AFP/Getty Images

In the early hours of Saturday morning, a secret execution was carried out by the Indian government. Afzal Guru, a Kashmiri, was put to death for his alleged involvement in the 2001 attack on the Indian Parliament. Afzal’s family in Kashmir were cruelly denied a last visitation. They were informed that the Indian President had rejected his mercy petition, and of his imminent execution, by mail—the letter reached Afzal’s wife Tabassum two days after he was executed and buried in an unmarked grave inside Tihar Jail.

Meanwhile, across the border in Bangladesh, hundreds of thousands of Bangladeshis from all walks of life have occupied Shahbag Square near Dhaka University, outraged that a notorious war criminal might walk free after having been spared the death penalty by the Bangladeshi International War Crimes Tribunal. Abdul Quader Mollah, leader of the right-wing Islamist party Jamaat-i-Islami, and convicted of multiple counts of rape, torture and murder, was photographed flashing a victory sign as he left the court. Continue reading Lessons from Delhi and Dhaka: Nagesh Rao and Navine Murshid

What Afzal Deserves: Chandan Gomes

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Guest post by CHANDAN GOMES

Ever since the news of Afzal Guru’s execution broke out on the 9th, I have witnessed my personal space descend into a state of chaos. I woke up that morning to a number of emails/facebook messages by friends requesting me to join them at Jantar Mantar to protest against Guru’s execution. Many called that particular protest farcical, some even going to the extent of labelling these young men and women as traitors. Battle lines were drawn and a country stood divided. The more I thought about the execution, the more it saddened me. I could see myself and people like me (the ordinary citizens of this great nation) as pawns in a game of ugly power play, waiting to be sacrificed at the altar of ‘opportune moment’. Continue reading What Afzal Deserves: Chandan Gomes

Reclaiming the Republic from the Alleged Perpetrators of Violence

As I sit writing this, on the 26th of January, 2013, in various parts of the territory of the Republic of India, soldiers either already have, or are about to begin marching in formation. In New Delhi, the capital of India, their parade is accompanied by tanks, heavy artillery and replicas of nuclear warheads. In the part of the province of Jammu & Kashmir administered by the Indian Union, in several provinces of the north-east, and other areas where the writ of the state runs entirely on the basis of its armed might, Republic Day, as this date is called, is an occasion for search and cordon operations, ‘crackdowns’ and the creation of a Potemkin village like ambience in the zones (usually heavily guarded stadia) where the republic insulates itself from the public. In New Delhi, the naked, obscene exhibitionism on the axial avenue of Rajpath of a nuclear weapons power that maintains the second largest armed forces in the world, even as millions of its subjects subsist at sub-Saharan levels, is an annual ritual. Apparently, this ritual is conducted to commemorate the founding of the Indian republic through the coming into force of its constitution in 1950.

Continue reading Reclaiming the Republic from the Alleged Perpetrators of Violence

How not to handle online hate speech in India

The first amendment to the Indian Constitution, passed in 1951, allows the government to impose “reasonable restrictions” on a citizen’s right to freedom of speech and expression, in order to protect “the interests of the sovereignty and integrity of India, the security of the State, friendly relations with foreign States, public order, decency or morality or in relation to contempt of court, defamation or incitement to an offence”.

The means to impose these “reasonable restrictions” are described in several sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPc). Section 298 of the IPC makes punishable words uttered “with the deliberate intent of wounding religious feelings”; section 504 addresses “intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of peace”; section 153 makes punishable speech acts that lead or could have led to rioting; section 295A could land you in jail for three years over “deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings”; section 153B permits the punishment of speech acts that question any social, religious or linguistic group’s allegiance to the Constitution of India or that such a group be denied Constitutional rights. Read more…

Ten Reasons Why You Should Sign the Petition at RepealSeditionLaw.in

  1. Section 124(A) of IPC criminalizes the ‘disaffection’ towards the government by words, either spoken or written, or by signs or by visible representations
  2. This 1860 draconian colonial law was created to stifle dissent during colonial rule.
  3. Tilak, Gandhi, Maulana Azad and Annie Besant were convicted under this law
  4. Today, the law is used to suppress legitimate criticisms of the government
  5. Journalists, Human rights activists, political dissenters, public intellectuals, and even farmers and tribals are targetted by this law
  6. The law goes against the inalienable fundamental right to expression enshrined in our Constitution
  7. The law goes against the very nature of democratic process which relies on active consent and dissent/opposition
  8. The law goes against the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which guarantees freedom of speech and expression
  9. All major world democracies have either repealed this law or discontinued prosecutions
  10. The existence of sedition laws in India’s statute books and the resulting criminalization of ‘disaffection’ towards the state is unacceptable in a democratic society.

To sign the petition, go to RepealSeditionLaw.in

See also:

When the pseudo-sentiments of the pseudo-religious are pseudo-hurt

In neighbouring Pakistan, an Islamic cleric recently accused a young Christian girl, Rimsha Masih, of blasphemy, a charge punishable by life imprisonment. He said she had burnt some pages that contained verses from the Quran. The 14 year old girl hails from a poor family and suffers from Down’s Syndrome. An eyewitness to the event showed courage and told a magistrate the truth: it was the Muslim cleric who had put those burnt pages in Rimsha’s bag. The cleric has been arrested and is set, in turn, to be charged with blasphemy.

I have been thinking about the incident. Insulting somebody’s religion is bad. It may cause offence. Often it is intended to cause offence. If somebody insults Islam, by doing things like burning pages containing verses from the Quran, it is bound to outrage a Muslim. Continue reading When the pseudo-sentiments of the pseudo-religious are pseudo-hurt

India Gate vs. India

August 15 marked the 65 anniversary of India’s Independence from foreign rule and colonialism. September 21 will mark the 155 anniversary of the recapture of Delhi by the British and the end of the first valiant rebellion against foreign rule.

Between May 11, 1857 and May 21, 1857, Delhi was free of the British. The rebel soldiers had chosen Bahadur Shah Zafar as their leader and since the Red Fort was where he lived, the Lal Qila came to be seen as the centre of the First War of Independence. Delhi was seen as the heart of India and Lal Qila was the heart of Delhi and that is why once the British recaptured Delhi they wasted no time in arresting Bahadur Shah Zafar and quickly moving into the fort. Continue reading India Gate vs. India

Trials, errors and the art of compromise

This morning The Hindu carries a long piece I wrote on one of Jaipur’s more sensational trials. The idea of “samjhauta” or “compromise” has informed a lot of my work over years, and this instance is particularly heart breaking. Court documents and chargesheets are always interesting things to read; in this instance, it was intriguing how the police accorded one woman – Pushpa – infinite agency when she creates a cycle of repression and exploitation; while the other – Shweta – has zero agency and is thoroughly incapable of independent action.

One dawn in January last year, a young woman slipped out of her house, walked down to the Gandhi Nagar station and stepped into the path of an oncoming train.

She survived, but lost her left leg and all sensation below her waist. Last Wednesday, the woman, Pushpa*, was brought before the Special Judge for Women Atrocities and Dowry Cases to identify the three policemen who, she alleged, had sexually tortured her to the point of suicide. Also in court was Shweta*, a 20-year-old known to Pushpa, who claimed that Pushpa and her cohorts had drugged, raped and blackmailed her in December 2010.

The two women had been friends, meeting occasionally in Pushpa’s room to gossip, experiment with cigarettes and alcohol and on one occasion photographed themselves kissing. In many ways, their twin trials document the contradictory impulses of the small Indian town grown big, where tech-savvy youth shun the contractual new economy for the security of the bureaucracy, the government school, and the government bank, and the sheher’s liberatory promise is tempered by the lingering claustrophobia of the samaj.

Read on

On the arrest of Mohammad Ahmad Kazmi

On 7 March, Delhi Police arrested Delhi-based journalist Mohammad Ahmad Kazmi on charges of being part of the plot to kill an Israeli diplomat’s wife in Delhi on 13 February. Many have expressed concern that Kazmi is being falsely implicated. Give below is the text of a letter to the Delhi Police Commissioner by the DELHI UNION OF JOURNALISTS, followed by a statement from the INTERNATIONAL FEDERATION OF JOURNALISTS, and thereafter by a statement issued by a group of citizens.

    9 March 2012 

The Commissioner of Police,
Delhi Police,
New Delhi

Sir: Continue reading On the arrest of Mohammad Ahmad Kazmi

Mass media and the Indian national project: Raza Rumi

Guest post by RAZA RUMI

Indian Mass Media and the Politics of Change; Edited by Somnath Batabyal, Angad Chowdhry, Meenu Gaur and Matti Pohjoen; Routledge, UK; 230pp. £65

It has taken me some time to finish reading the assemblage book entitled Indian Mass Media and the Politics of Change. An overly long reading list has been haunting me for the past few months, but I was slow and self-indulgent as I read and re-read many sections of this insightful book which is path breaking in many ways. First, it is a unique collection which emanated from intense thinking and collaborative action; and second, given the fairly recent rise of Indian mass media (also applicable to South Asia in general) this is quite a seminal work of its kind. Continue reading Mass media and the Indian national project: Raza Rumi

Happy 100 Years of the Delhi Durbar

The Delhi media celebrated on 11 December the above event, which took place on 11 December 1911. The Delhi media will celebrate anything that is worth celebrating, and everything that is not worth celebrating. Someone just has to set the alarm bells and hours of programming, reams of newsprint will be dedicated to an orgy of unthinking celebration. The only thing other than Celebration that sells is Outrage.

Sohail Hashmi has written on Kafila about why 11 December could not be the centennial of “New Delhi” but only the Delhi Durbar. That was only one problem with the Celebrations; here are some more.