When Charlatans Become Ideologues – The Real ‘Prisoners of the Binary’

Present day Hindus are probably the strongest opponents of Marxism. They are horrified at its doctrine of class-struggle. But they forget that India has been not merely the land of class struggle but she has been the land of class wars. – B. R. Ambedkar, Philosophy of Hinduism.

I often find myself in a bind over whether or not to respond to supposed RSS ideologues, given that they simply trade in lies and hatred with the supreme arrogance of ignorance. One such is the upcoming star on the RSS horizon, a gentleman called Rakesh Sinha, who like the rest of his pack (led by the supreme leader) is currently engaged in a cheap attack on the outgoing Vice-President, Hamid Ansari. His piece in the Indian Express today (linked above) is an  instance of a combination of all these things. So, why should one bother about such a character? Why take him and his discourse seriously? Well, someone had better respond because, because, for one thing they are in power, and are going to teach generations of students that valorous ‘Hindus’ like Maharana Pratap won all the wars, though by some magic, ‘Muslims’ continued to rule for about 8 centuries! For another, there are enough gullible types who really think these people ‘have a point of view’, which should be debated.

As we have repeatedly seen, their ‘having a point of view’ has nothing to do with debate. It is to be enforced by gangs of gorakshaks, anti-romeo squads, hoodlums deciding what will or will not be taught in universities and schools, what will be written, how people should dress and love – and when nothing works, ‘win’ a ‘debate’ like Arun Jaitley claimed they did, by simply arresting the opponents and slapping sedition charges on them. Given this, I do not really address, in person, the ideologue, Rakesh Sinha, who has now made it a fine art to pick up some phrases from the toolkit of what is understood as ‘postmodernism’ by many. Wasn’t it postmodernism, one can  hear them say, that said all viewpoints are equally valid and ‘everything goes’? Wasn’t it postmodernism that challenged the hegemony of Western thought, its logocentrism, its Rationalism (with a capital R) from within that very tradition? Wasn’t it postmodernism again, that by decentering West’s logocentrism, actually gave these RSS-type creatures the gumption to claim that their utterly unsubstantiated viewpoint about the past too was as valid as that of historians who struggled with evidence, painstakingly putting together texts, artefacts and procedures of dating in order to produce a plausible account of the past?

Continue reading “When Charlatans Become Ideologues – The Real ‘Prisoners of the Binary’”

विश्वविद्यालय, अंध राष्ट्रवाद और देशभक्ति : वैभव सिंह

Guest post by VAIBHAV SINGH

भारत खुद को भले किसी महान प्राचीन ज्ञान-परंपरा का वारिस समझता हो पर उसके विश्वविद्यालयों की दशा चंद चमकदार अपवादों के बावजूद खस्ताहाल है। उच्चशिक्षा की हालत किसी मरणासन्न नदी जैसी है जिसपर पुल तो बहुत बड़ा बन गया है पर पानी सूखता जा रहा है। भारत अपने साथ ही यह झूठ बोल रहा है कि वह ज्ञान या ज्ञानियों का आदर करता है, जबकि सचाई इसके विपरीत है। आधुनिक युग में भारत ने जितना ज्ञान की अवहेलना और अनादर किया है, उतना शायद ही किसी देश ने किया होगा। हर तिमाही-छमाही आने वाली रिपोर्ट्स हमें शर्मिंदा करती हैं कि संसार के सर्वोच्च 100 विश्वविद्यालयों में भारत के किसी विश्वविद्यालय को नहीं रखा जा सका। पूरा शिक्षा-जगत डिग्रियों की खरीदफरोख्त में लगे विचित्र किस्म के अराजक और अपराधिक सौदेबाजियों से भरे बाजार में बदलता जा रहा है। यहां अपराधी, दलाल और कलंकित नेता अपने काले धन व डिजिटल मनी की समन्वित ताकत लेकर उतर पड़े हैं और हर तरह की कीमत की एवज में कागजी शिक्षा बेचने लगे हैं। इस बाजार में ‘नालेज’ और ‘डिग्री’ का संबंध छिन्नभिन्न हो चुका है। कमाल की बात यह है कि यह स्थिति हमें चिंतित नहीं करती।

दूसरी ओर, उच्चशिक्षा अभी भी समाज की नब्बे फीसदी आबादी के लिए सपने सरीखी है। उच्चशिक्षा में जीईआर यानी दाखिले के अनुपात की गणना 18-23 आयुवर्ग के छात्रों को ध्यान में रखकर की जाती है और अभी भी भारत में केवल दस फीसदी लोग उच्चशिक्षा के संस्थानों के दरवाजे तक पहुंच पाते हैं। इसमें भी दलित व गरीब मुस्लिमों की हालत बेहद खराब है। दलितों में दो फीसदी से भी कम लोग उच्चशिक्षा प्राप्त कर पाते हैं तो मुस्लिमों में यह आंकड़ा केवल 2.1 फीसदी का है। भारत की ग्रामीण आबादी में केवल दो फीसदी लोग ही उच्च माध्यमिक शिक्षा के पार जा पाते हैं। ये आंकड़े भारत में उच्चशिक्षा की आम लोगों तक पहुंच की भयावह तस्वीर को प्रस्तुत करते हैं और दिखाते हैं कि हम जिन संस्थानों, बड़े कालेजों-विश्वविद्यालयों आदि को भारत के विकास के प्रमाण के रूप में पेश करने की इच्छा रखते हैं, वे देश की नब्बे फीसदी आबादी से बहुत दूर रहे हैं। Continue reading “विश्वविद्यालय, अंध राष्ट्रवाद और देशभक्ति : वैभव सिंह”

No Flag Large Enough – Jubilation in India and Collateral Damage in Kashmir

The recent incident of violence that led to the death of a police officer, DSP Ayub Pandith, was condemned by all kinds of people in Kashmir, as well as elsewhere. It prompted introspection, sadness and regret – like any tragedy of this nature should.

Yesterday two unarmed civilians, Tahira Begum, a forty three year old woman and a young man called Shahdab Ahmed Chopan of Brenty Batapora Village in Anantnag district in South Kashmir were killed along with two Kashmiri combatants (Bashir Ahmed Lashkari and another person who may or may not be called Abu Maz) in the course of a joint operation by the 19th Rasthriya Rifles of the Indian Army, CRPF and the Special Operations Group of Jammu & Kashmir police.

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Students In Solidarity With Professor Nivedita Menon and Rajshree Ranawat – A Statement – UPDATED SIGNATORIES.

We, the undersigned, condemn the repeated attacks on Professor Nivedita Menon, the most recent of which being the police complaint lodged against her on the 3rd of February, 2017 (as also against Professor Rajshree Ranawat) for allegedly making ‘anti-national’ remarks during a seminar organised by the Department of English, Jai Narain Vyas University. This incident, we believe, is continuous with the spate of attacks that Professor Menon has had to face for taking an astute stand against the RashtriyaSwayamsevakSangh (RSS), its student-wing the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), and the nefarious politics of Hindutva in general. We refuse the rationale of dissent against Hindutva as dissent against the nation, because our idea of the nation is not of the Hindu Rashtra but of secularism, democracy, and social justice. Both as a voice of dissent and a formidable scholar of politics, Professor Nivedita Menon is an inspirational figure. She is a consistent articulation of conscience and an abiding commitment to the ideals that our freedom fighters envisioned for our nation. It is our conviction that patriotism is not only love for the abstract entity of the nation but also for its people, regardless of class, caste, religion, gender, sexual orientation, ability, or any other marker that is used to advantage or disadvantage groups. The ‘patriotism’ that the RSS and its henchmen claim to champion is hateful, divisive, and truly anti-national.

It is our concern as students, therefore, that the ABVP claims to speak for the student community. This petition is a rejection of that assertion, and a statement in solidarity with Professor Nivedita Menon. We hope for and demand the cessation of attacks on Professor Nivedita Menon and the protection of her inalienable freedom and right to oppose the politics of division and communalism. Continue reading “Students In Solidarity With Professor Nivedita Menon and Rajshree Ranawat – A Statement – UPDATED SIGNATORIES.”

Love Can’t Be Forced: Protest Against Sanghi Hubris at IFFK!

 

 I am hoping to protest at whichever venue of the International Film Festival of Kerala that I can manage to go to, wearing a printed badge saying ‘DEAR SUPREME COURT, NO LOVE CAN BE FORCED’. Yesterday, six people who did not stand up when the national anthem was played were arrested. Sanghi elements and overenthusiatic people who have picked up Modi’s style of projecting instant nationalism on the debris of Indian democracy have been heckling people who refused to comply with the SC’s order and filing complaints. Indeed, they took photos of people who didn’t stand up during the anthem. How come they have not insulted the national anthem according to their own standards since they too were expected to stand in attention?
 

Continue reading “Love Can’t Be Forced: Protest Against Sanghi Hubris at IFFK!”

Jana Gana Mana and the Danger of Passing Sentiment as Law

This originally appeared in The Wire

This is clearly the winter of Karan Johar’s discontent. Barely had the controversy over the illegal fine imposed on him by the Mahrashtra Navnirman Sena died down when the ghost of a controversy about his earlier film, Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham (K3G), has resurfaced in the form of the mind-boggling order from the Supreme Court making it mandatory for the national anthem to played in cinema halls before the screening of a film:

All the cinema halls in India shall play the National Anthem before the feature film starts and all present in the hall are obliged to stand up to show respect to the National Anthem.

Prior to the National Anthem is played or sung in the cinema hall on the screen, the entry and exit doors shall remain closed so that no one can create any kind of disturbance which will amount to disrespect to the National Anthem. After the National Anthem is played or sung, the doors can be opened.

When the National Anthem shall be played in the Cinema Halls, it shall be with the National Flag on the screen.

The national anthem is “the symbol of the Constitutional Patriotism and inherent national quality”, the judgment says. “It does not allow any different notion or the perception of individual rights, that have individually thought of have no space. (sic) The idea is constitutionally impermissible.”

Continue reading “Jana Gana Mana and the Danger of Passing Sentiment as Law”

Beyond pop nationalism – How neoliberalism affects the jawan: Ujithra Ponniah

Guest post by UJITHRA PONNIAH

‘7th Pay Commission: Modi government’s Diwali bonanza to armed forces! Indian soldiers to get 10% arrears’, on October 13, 2016 Zee News the current government’s pet broadcaster, tried to quell the rising disquiet within sections of the armed forces with the 7th pay commission recommendations[i]. The recommendations of the 7th pay commission headed by a retired Supreme Court judge, Justice Ashok Kumar Mathur came into effect from the January 1st, 2016. The three military chiefs in an uncharacteristic move since then have written repeated letters to the government, expressing their rising unhappiness within the ranks only to be swiftly turned down. The last on the matter from the defence minister Manohar Parrikar is a promise of referring the anomalies to a higher panel, a black hole where many concerns in the past have also been lost. Along with the current serving military chiefs, 10 ex-chiefs have also written to the Prime Minister, only to be met with the selective silence that many in the country are well familiar with[ii]. So what are the military’s concerns with the current pay commission?[iii] They can be swiftly summarized around three points though the issues run deeper: an increasing disparity between the military and the civilian central government employees both in terms of pay and hike (for example a hardship allowance for an IAS officer posted in the north east is more than a soldier in Siachen); a downsizing of the disability pension in the military; and the clubbing of the military service pay (MSP) of junior commissioned officers (who rise from within the ranks of the jawans) and the jawans[iv].

Continue reading “Beyond pop nationalism – How neoliberalism affects the jawan: Ujithra Ponniah”