Statement of New Socialist Initiative (NSI) on India’s ‘war against Covid 19’
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.
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.
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
When Hadiya Shafin shouted to the crowd that she converted voluntarily, that Shafin was her chosen husband, and that she wished to spend her life with him, some leading rationalist liberal feminists in Kerala sniggered at her: be grateful for the Indian Constitution which allows you to make a choice. This statement hid a despicable insult to her choice of Islam, slyly implying that it would not permit her any choices.
Goodness knows where these puerile, vain, indurate minds live their everyday lives. Maybe they are either still able to insulate themselves somehow from the onslaught of Hindutva violence, or find it useful to use the arms of this Hindutva hegemonised thuggish state to their narrow, shamefully narrow, ends.
Whatever, I could see no trace of the protective presence of the Indian Constitution when the Supreme Court heard Hadiya. I could see not the highest court of Justice of a vibrant democracy but I got a sense of how the Gates of Celestial Vaikuntam may look like:
Read more at : https://thewire.in/200701/hadiya-supreme-court-nia/
Guest Post by Sabiha Farhat
[ A month ago from yesterday, a teenager called Junaid was lynched and murdered on a train in Haryana. Sabiha Farhat writes in the wake of visiting his house and meeting his family. The news cycles may have moved on to other stories, but we need to keep remembering Junaid, and why he was killed. – Kafila]
Once upon a time there was a 15 year old boy called Hamid, who went shopping on the day of Eid with his Eidi . A few days ago there was Junaid who went shopping on the eve of Eid. Premchand’s Hamid was an orphan and lived with his grandmother in extreme poverty. Junaid lived surrounded with love of his brothers, a sister, a doting mother, father and friends. Instead of the old, decrepit house of Hamid, Junaid’s house has two rooms, it is not falling apart but it’s size and unplastered walls, do speak about the economic condition of his family.
As we approached Khandawli, Junaid’s village in Ballabhgarh a fear gripped me. I did not have the courage to walk upto the house. Junaid was brutally murdered on 22nd and here I was on 25th. It was too soon, my mind said. I should have let Eid pass. But how could I have prepared Sewai in my house when a mother like myself had lost a young, healthy, happy child to hindutva fanatics? I am a mother, I was angry and ashamed at home. And here, standing outside Junaid’s door, I was weak and helpless. Useless too.
Continue reading Have Indian Muslims become the new ‘Make in India’ Punching Bag? Sabiha Farhat
Guest post by SARAH ATHER
My life has revolved around the concept of God. I have been a Muslim, a theist, an agnostic and an atheist in all types of phases of my life. I am sure, I am still just growing and my perceptions will mature as I grow. My Muslim identity slowly faded when I picked Dawkins and Ayaan Hirsi Ali in my late teens. To put it simply I was a perpetually angry Muslim. Angry at Islam, angry at Wahabism, angry at imposed patriarchy in Islam. I believed religion was so bad for the world, so unscientific. And so I wrote and I discussed with my fellow Hindu friends. They opened their hearts out. A lot of them told me how Muslims were always cruel and misogynistic. And they told me how I was different to see the truth. I felt a sense of moral superiority, I felt I was so unbiased and rational that I could see faults in my own religion. Continue reading A Non-believing Muslim’s Experience of Islamophobia
Guest Post by SABIHA FARHAT
These are tough times for muslims in India. But now that I look back and shed my ‘liberal’ prejudices – muslims were never acceptable as ‘who they were’ in Indian society. I had always blamed my mother for not giving me proper lunch box to carry to school. But the truth is that even in class 5, no student ate from my tiffin and gradually I started going to the play field in recess rather than enjoying a meal under the big Peepal tree. After that I took tiffin only when I prepared it myself, that was class 11 & 12. But even then the girls would hardly eat from my lunch box. We did sit together but no one touched my food. Was I the Untouchable?
Continue reading The Unapologetic Indian Muslim: Sabiha Farhat
( Photo Courtesy : Indian Express)
Guest Post by Gurpreet Singh
India which has always claimed to be a victim of terrorism for all these years owe answers for one of the worst terrorist incident that is hardly discussed by the anti terror activists across the world either due to silence over Hindutva violence or Islamophobia that continues to grow in the post 9/11 environment.
Ten years have passed as the families of the victims of Samjhauta blasts continue to wait for justice.
On February 18, 2007 explosions aboard Samjhauta rail express that connects India and Pakistan left 68 people dead and about 50 injured. At least 42 of the victims were Pakistani citizens most of them returning to their home country after visiting relatives in India. The rail service was started to connect the families divided by partition of India and Pakistan in 1947 and promote people to people contact between the neighbouring nations that have gone to two major wars in 1965 and 1971. Continue reading India owes answers to the world for Samjhauta blasts : Gurpreet Singh
This is a Guest Post by ARUNIMA CHAKRABORTY
Let’s begin with the usual: by ruing over Indian mainstream media’s overlooking of what could have been treated as more newsworthy. Today, that is, 16th of December, 2016 witnessed a bandh in southern Assam’s Barak valley protesting against the statement by the union minister of state for railways, Rajen Gohain that ‘Bengali…should be withdrawn from Barak valley as official language’ since ‘there cannot be two official languages’. And a simple, layman-like google-news search reveals that there are just three entries on the issue/event.
This piece is aimed not at joining the state Congress and the local SUCI(Socialist Unity Centre of India) cadres who are decrying comment by Gohain, the union minister and a senior BJP leader in Assam but rather at attempting a delineation of the ominous portents which it seems to have unleashed. And of course, to trace the genealogy of the statement.
First of all, a rather facile fact: Mr. Gohain’s observation that there cannot be two official languages clashes with article 345 of the Indian constitution which allows for the adoption of one or more official languages by any state of the Indian union. Article 347 also allows for respecting the desire of a significant section of a populace of a state for the usage of a language of their choice. A couple of months ago, while visiting Assam, I watched, or rather listened, on an Assamese news channel, a shrill voice issuing a caveat to its viewers, “…barak upatyakat asomiya bhasha nokoya hoiche”. ‘Assamese is no longer spoken in the Barak valley’. Anybody remotely familiar with the history of the region could have retorted back with the question, when was Assamese ever spoken in the region?
Continue reading On Barak Valley Bandh on 16th December, 2016 – Some Nascent Observations: Arunima Chakraborty
Guest Post by Fahad Hashmi
[ Yesterday, the Supreme Court of India, dismissed the ‘review petition’ that had been filed with a plea to reverse the Supreme Court’s recent (December 2013) decision to uphold the constitutionality of Section 377 of the IPC. This decision effectively ‘re-criminalized’ Homosexuality in India and is a severe blow to human rights. Various religious groups, Hindu, Muslim and Christian had appealed to the Supreme Court to act against the rights and interests of homosexuals. In a sad instance of the erosion of secular and democratic values, the Supreme Court has endorsed their view. The Jamaat -e-Islami Hind, a right wing, muslim fundamentalist organization that claims to speak for Indian Muslims has welcomed the Supreme Court’s decision. This post by Fahad Hashmi attacks the Jamaat-e-Islami Hind’s position on homosexuality and challenges its claim to speak in the name of muslims and their faith. We see it as an important contribution to the ongoing discussion on section 377 on Kafila ]
“There was once…a sad city, the saddest of cities, a city so ruinously sad that it had forgotten its name.
In the north of the sad city stood mighty factories in which (so I’m told) sadness was actually manufactured, packaged and sent all over the world, which never seemed to get enough of it. Black smoke poured out of the chimneys of the sadness factories and hung over the city like bad news”.
(Haroun and Sea of Stories, Salman Rushdie)
It is one of the ironies of democracies across the world that minorities of all shades are always in the crosshairs of majoritarianism. This minority-majority is a function of numbers and power though this is not a thorough definition since we have had seen altered power equation of this binary. The apartheid South Africa is a case in point. For stating the obvious the strength of a democracy is a function of safety and rights that minorities enjoy in it. However, minorities on the whole are always drawing majority’s fire. On the subcontinent one could see this happening in Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and of course India is not an exception.
Continue reading Homophobia and Islamobphobia – The Jamaat e Islami Hind and the Supreme Court’s Decision on Section 377: Fahad Hashmi
Guest post by SUDEEP KS and BOBBY KUNHU
The magazine joins the Great Kerala Terrorist Hunt. This was sent as a rebuttal to Tehelka, but has not been published.
Kerala’s Radical Turn – cries the cover of the last issue of Tehelka (dated 9th October, 2010). The cover story by V K Shashikumar, that plays the familiar tunes of Islamophobia, hints at Tehelka‘s Populist Turn. It will be interesting to see where Tehelka goes from here, and what happens to its current reader base that distinguished the magazine from the likes of The Indian Express and The Times of India and India Today.
In the article, Here Come the Pious, Shashikumar lists some facts and his personal fears, on the eve of the Allahabad High Court judgment on the Babri Masjid land dispute. What is missing in the entire article is reason. The byline says that “A new Islamist body, the Popular Front of India, is causing alarm with its religious overdrive in the south.” After one goes through the article, however, what one gets is a glorified picture of the outfit. Whether the author likes it or not.
Continue reading Tehelka’s Populist Turn? Bobby Kunhu and Sudeep KS
Guest post by ANGANA CHATTERJI
First published on 25 September 2010 in Greater Kashmir
“Freedom” represents many things across rural and urban spaces in India-ruled Kashmir. These divergent meanings are steadfastly united in that freedom always signifies an end to India’s authoritarian governance.
In the administration of brutality, India, the postcolony, has proven itself coequal to its former colonial masters. Kashmir is not about “Kashmir.” Governing Kashmir is about India’s coming of age as a power, its ability to disburse violence, to manipulate and dominate. Kashmir is about nostalgia, about resources, and buffer zones. The possession of Kashmir by India renders an imaginary past real, emblematic of India’s triumphant unification as a nation-state. Controlling Kashmir requires that Kashmiri demands for justice be depicted as threatening to India’s integrity. India’s contrived enemy in Kashmir is a plausible one – the Muslim “Other,” India’s historically manufactured nemesis. Continue reading Kashmir: A Time for Freedom
This is a guest post by Naeem, an artist friend. The post is a cull from a conversation regarding the recent ban in Switzerland imposed on building minarets.
In a vote that displayed a widespread anxiety about Islam and undermined the country’s reputation for religious tolerance, the Swiss on Sunday overwhelmingly imposed a national ban on the construction of minarets, the prayer towers of mosques, in a referendum drawn up by the far right and opposed by the government. The referendum passed with 57.5 percent of the vote and in 22 of Switzerland’s 26 cantons.
Continue reading Minarett-Verbot
You have said everything there is to say, and felt everything there is to feel. You have shouted angrily or reflected seriously or stated in the calm tone of conviction that terrorists are as authoritarian as the states they target, that terrorists have no religion, that terrorists are cowards who target soft civilian populations. You have despaired at the carnage wreaked on a city sick and tired of having to be “resilient”; of having faced one disaster after the other – from floods to targeted attacks on specific communities to bomb blasts – and “emerged with its spirit intact”. Your heart has clenched painfully at the inconsolable tears of baby Moshe; at the blood-spattered, newly motherless one-year old Viraj in an exhausted Head Constable Salunkhe’s arms, entrusted to him by his father, a utensil seller wounded by bullets at CST. You have gazed numbly at the image of Maharashtra ATS Chief Hemant Karkare’s young son with drawn countenance bearing the ritual paraphernalia of his father’s cremation ceremonies. Despite yourself you felt a sudden glimmer of hope steal into you at the stony dignity in Kavita Karkare’s dry-eyed grief at her husband’s funeral, at her steadfast bindi and her coloured sari. You have hated yourself for being relieved that those you know in that poor torn city are safe, when hundreds you did not know were not.
In fear and foreboding the feeling has overcome you – “What lies ahead of us now?”
But after all of that, after all of the sorrow and the grieving, in the midst of absolute despair, when you start to think again – STOP. Continue reading Mumbai terror, the revolt of the elites and Life itself
Last week’s terror attacks on Bombay/Mumbai, for which there can be no justification whatsoever, have targetted railway stations, restaurants, hospitals, places of worship, streets and hotels. These are the places in which people gather. where the anonymous flux of urban life finds refuge and sustenance on an everyday basis. By attacking such sites, the tactics of the recent terror attack (like all its predecessors) echo the tropes of conventional warfare as it developed in the twentieth century. These tactics valued the objective of the escalation of terror and panic amongst civilians higher than they viewed the neutralization of strictly military or strategic targets. In a war without end, (which is one way of looking at the twentieth century and its legacy) panic is the key weapon and the most important objective.
Continue reading Thinking Through the Debris of Terror: After Bombay
Those two M’s recur, on this blog and elsewhere, in the heated discussions around the tragic, provocatove events that have unfolded this past week. I am reminded of this point Martha Nussbaum wrote after Obama won: Continue reading “Mindless,” “Muslims”