[Note from Livia Bocadacce: During 2016, social movements in France and in India have been huge and tough. In both countries, youth, workers, students, oppressed people fought against governments who disregarded their desires of freedom and decent life, and have faced violent repression. But in France, we don’t hear about Indian struggles such as Una Dalits’ movement or Hyderabad and JNU students’ protests. In India, the very strong French movement of last spring, called “Nuits Debout”, has aroused very poor coverage. Because we believe we have to learn from the crossed experiences of fighting, because we refuse a globalization only based on trade and forced migrations, because we hope a globalization that could encourage the circulation of critical thinking and collective–action repertoire, we proposed this article on the Nuits debout to Kafila. Hoping it will generate debates and further interests. ]
After a Nuit debout (night standing up), we wake up with a political strike (1)
Living in a moment is always pleasanter than writing about it— it’s always risky to draw conclusions about situations still evolving or to speculate about what they will become. Going on for now over three months [when this post was written – AN], Nuit debout is a new kind of spontaneous, social movement along the lines of « Occupy » and Spain’s « M15 » movement. It has taken on an unanticipated size and importance, all the while developing characteristic features of French society. I won’t go back over its development or its collective spirit. The two texts already published in the May and June issues of the Brooklyn Rail, the first by Anouk Colombani and the second by Ferdinand Cazalis et Emilien Bernard (CQFD, n°143, mai 2016) have provided sufficient detail and clarity to let us grasp the essence and dynamism of these mobilizations.
The death of the young girl brought incommensurable grief for the ‘Indian’ people. A national angst ensued with divergent voices seeking divergent ends: justice, death penalty, fast track courts, end to patriarchy, chemical castration, and a long list that cannot be spelt out here. There was a glimmer of hope that the discursiveness would ensue a quintessentially democratic process of debate, discussion, and deliberation amongst the people. The Indian state with its long-standing reputation wouldn’t allow for that to happen. It had to continue on its pet peeve of Breaking the Collective! The people’s movement in Koodankulam, the anti-corruption movement, the movement for seperate Telangana are some of the many instances that remind us of this pet avocation of the Indian state being pursued in recent times, almost, vocationally. However cynical it may sound, amidst the entire candle lighting and sloganeering, we failed to realise that the protest in Delhi was happening on the terrain that the government decided, in a manner that it wished for it to play out, and was party to the people it wanted to see there. I wish to argue that the closing down of the metro stations has a relation to the nature of the protests at Jantar Mantar. Furthermore it concurs with the tactics of chocking people’s movements logistically and stifling the collective by pathologizing the everyday life of masses. The tragedy of this lies in the fact that such actions of the state have become so recurrent that they have entered our common sense and they present themselves as normal and logical responses. Albeit they have been rationalized by invoking a specious reference to law, order, and safety, there is a need to unpack such a rationalization. My attempt is to extract these actions from that location of common sense and present them for public scrutiny. Through this essay, I would like to draw the connections between the democratic protests happening in locations across the country and state action in dealing with them. In doing so, I hope to bring to notice how the Indian state uses its machinery to purge protests of their democratic tenor and eventually, at least, attempts to break the collective. Continue reading Breaking the Collective – Notes from Jantar Mantar & Koodankulam: Vivek Vellanki→
A Statement issued by the Chennai Solidarity Group
For more than a year the people of Idinthakarai village, along with fellow citizens from nearby villages have been protesting the setting up of a nuclear power plant at Koodankulam in Southern Tamil Nadu. The protests have been peaceful and have included people from different strata of society. Women have been in the forefront of the struggle, and over the last year even children have learned about the perils of nuclear power plants and the need to look for alternative energy sources.
In spite of this being a peaceful citizens’ protest, the state has chosen to treat it as dangerous – and arrested hundreds of people, intimidated many others and have more than once treated Idinthakarai village and its environs as if it were ‘enemy’ territory. Sedition charges have been slapped against the protesters, along with other criminal charges. The legality of these measures has since been subject to questioning. A high level Public Hearing, presided over by Former Chief Justice A B Shah has in fact called attention to the manner in which the law has been misused in this instance, and in fact abused to harass and prevent ordinary citizens from exercising their right to protest, and defend their constitutionally guaranteed right to life and livelihood. Continue reading On the Violence Unleashed against Protesting Citizens in Koodankulam: Chennai Solidarity Group→