Tag Archives: Solar Scam Kerala

A Tihar Experience: Nitheesh Narayanan


This account of a young student’s experience of a week in Tihar Jail as a political prisoner gives us the opportunity to reflect afresh on ‘appropriate’ punishment, in the context of the recently revived debates on the death penalty. In those debates, incarceration is assumed to be the more humane punishment, but Nitheesh’s account reopens even older debates on the prison itself as a mode of disciplining society (Foucault), Angela Davis’s stirring question – Are Prisons Obsolete? – in which she argues that the current prison system perpetuates the same power relations of race, class and gender that society is based upon, and widespread critiques of the prison industrial complex in the USA, where private corporations run prisons for profit, using prisoners as practically free labour. (It is alarming therefore, to see an argument for privatizing prisons in India being put forward as a measure to “reform” prisons!)

Here then, offering us a view of prison as a microcosmic reflection of every oppressive power structure outside it, is Nitheesh Narayanan:

Tihar Jail, Central Jail no. 4, Ward no.1, and seven days spent in Barracks 1, 2 and 3. Around thirty of us, including SFI’s National President Com. V Sivadasan and some comrades from JNU decided on a protest demonstration at Kerala House, New Delhi, in solidarity with the series of protests in Kerala against the Chief Minister involved in the Solar Panel scam and to mark our indignation at any form of corruption. There were no policemen at the gate as the protest was unexpected. We entered the compound and sat in the portico of the main building. We burned Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandi’s effigy, raising slogans all the while. It was when Com. Sivadasan was addressing the protestors that about a hundred policemen entered the compound and started unleashing violence on us and arrested us. Nine of us were booked under severe offences.

We spent that night in a shabby lockup room full of filth and spit, lying on a newspaper sheet. One of the inmates in that lock-up room was an accused in a crime involving a core and a half rupees and a murder. We were shocked when he told us that in order to weaken the charges against him, he had poured almost fifteen lakhs into the pockets of corrupted officials.  Continue reading A Tihar Experience: Nitheesh Narayanan

‘Ladies Still not Empowered in Kerala?’ Questions Raised by the Solar Scam

How does one respond critically and effectively when non-politics, non-government, and non-sense, all rolled together, assail the political public? I have been thinking about this recently — surely, this is a question that troubles all those who would wish to keep the focus of public life on politics and power. We witness, in present-day Kerala,politics being reduced to the internal bickerings over power indulged in by the powerful elite interest-groups that constitute the ruling UDF. Or, reduced to ‘sex scandals’ or ‘domestic squabbles’ when gender politics surfaces.  Simultaneously, we are witnessing the era of non-government and the severing of the link between public politics and government. While the bickerings between the coalition partners of the UDF continues unabated, news of infant deaths and severe malnutrition continue to flow from tribal hamlets in Attappady; the problems of mounting waste in both towns and rural areas continues to be criminally neglected; dengue and other dangerous fevers continue to exact daily, rising tolls all over the state. And even as the consequences of widening social inequalities become more and more visible, this government’s discourse of welfare remains pegged insistently on human mercy and charity. It continues to be dismissive of concerns of social justice and power — even as these harrowing tales continue to appear in the press, there is no dearth of advertisement of the goverment’s kaarunyam. And in the midst of all this, the Chief Minister being projected as the exemplar of human goodness and chairty! Or, the UN, ever-interested in ‘innovation’, conferring an award on his Mass Contact Programme at a time when his government has been least innovative or imaginative in solving problems that now stare us in the face. the This of course is the non-sense — the absurdity of it all. Continue reading ‘Ladies Still not Empowered in Kerala?’ Questions Raised by the Solar Scam