SECULARISM, DEMOCRACY, HUMAN RIGHTS AND SOCIAL JUSTICE

INSAF Bulletin 154 February 2015
Editors: Daya Varma (Montreal) and Vinod Mubayi (New York)


Dedicated to Syed Mohammad Mehdi, a first generation  Communist and a founding member of the Progressive Writers Association (PWA)

RSS FLEXES ITS MUSCLES AS INDIA LURCHES BACKWARD

Editors

 

About twenty years ago, at a meeting in Montreal, the late Eqbal Ahmad (1933-1999) described the political situation in South Asia as the Pakistanization of India and Indianization of Pakistan. We are not sure if both predictions of this eminent political scientist have proven to be correct but most certainly India is no more what Jawaharlal Nehru has envisaged in his “Tryst with Destiny” speech on the midnight of August 14; it is becoming closer to what was theorized by Eqbal Ahmad. Read more…

AN OPEN LETTER TO WORLD LEADERS

Malala Yousafzai and Friends

 

There are moments in history that become turning points. In our view, 2015 will be such a moment. It is the most important year for global decision-making since the start of the new millennium.

 

We believe it’s just possible that we could end 2015 with a new global compact — an agreed pathway to a better, safer future for people and planet that will inspire all the citizens of the world. We can choose the path of sustainable development. Or we might not — and regret it for generations to come. Which side of history will you be on? Read more…

WHY THE PDP SHOULD NOT ALLY WITH THE BJP IN JAMMU AND KASHMIR

Praful Bidwai

 

It has been called Jammu and Kashmir’s “Black Swan” moment, a “historic” opportunity to heal divisions in the deeply polarised state, and a test of sagacity and even statesmanship for Narendra Modi and the People’s Democratic Party’s Mufti Muhammad Sayeed. Read more…

WHAT’S IN STORE FOR KASHMIRIS IF BJP IS PART OF THE GOVERNMENT?

Ram Puniyani

 

The recent (December 2015) verdict of Kashmir elections has been fractured, so to say. While PDP has emerged as the largest single party, the BJP is a close second with substantial percentage of votes. Interestingly BJP has secured most seats and major vote share from the Hindu majority Jammu region of Kashmir. Now the dilemma for the other parties, National Conference, Congress is in which direction to go as for Government formation is concerned. Read more…

PAKISTAN: NOT BY ANGER ALONE

I A Rehman

 

 

Pakistan is on trial. It is being tested for its capacity to overcome the threat from religious extremists/terrorists without losing sight of justice and its ideal of peace in the land.

 

The Peshawar carnage has awakened the government and political parties to their foremost duty — protecting the life and liberty of citizens. This may not be the time to question them for their failure to see the terrorists’ threat earlier. At the moment, the people must concentrate on ensuring that the response to the terrorists is sound, just and effective. A national consensus on denying any quarter to terrorists is welcome but what matters more is the kind of action plan this unity produces. Sadly enough, the signs so far are not wholly reassuring. Read more…

CHARLIE HEBDO MASSACRE, FALSE STANDARD BEARERS OF “FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION” AND ISLAMOPHOBIA

Javed Anand

 

“To those fuelling Islamophobia, here’s a tweet from Dyab Abou Jahjah from Belgium: ‘I am not Charlie, I am Ahmed the dead cop. Charlie ridiculed my faith and I died defending his right to do so.’”

 

To the mourning parents, siblings, children, spouses, lovers, family and friends of those who were gunned down in the horrific massacre in Paris, what can I say? Except that I am with you in your grief even as I cannot even pretend to imagine the depth of your pain and suffering. And that I am sorry and deeply ashamed that your near and dear ones were done to death in the name of a god and a prophet that I am supposed to have in common with the mass murderers. Read more…

GANDHI, WORKERS AND AFFLUENT SECTIONS

V.K. Tripathi

 

Gandhi, the person who stood firmly against oppression and fanaticism, is still alive in the hearts of millions of poor masses. However, large sections of Indian affluent classes have developed so much hate for him that they are lavishing praise on his assassin. They view the leader of the organization which spread this venom as the fortune maker of India. Read more…

WHY NARENDRA MODI STOLE CHRISTMAS?

Countercurrents.org, January 14, 2015

 

On 2 December 2014 , Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced that in future 25 December would be celebrated as Good Governance Day because it was the birthday of Hindu nationalists Madan Mohan Malaviya and Atal Behari Vajpayee (1). Subsequently a circular was sent out to schools ordering them to cancel the public holiday on the 25 th and require children to come to school on Christmas Day for a variety of activities. Read more…

WHEN ACCOUNTABILITY IS NOT INSTITUTIONAL

Arun Kumar

 

Higher education in India suffers from a lack of a democratic leadership that understands its true nature. For those heading academic institutions, accountability is personal and not institutional or societal. The erosion of autonomy and accountability in centres of education is the biggest challenge an aspirational and rising India faces.

 

The Director of the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Delhi, has resigned because he was sought to be marginalised by the Ministry of Human Resource Development (HRD). The faculty and alumni of IIT have come out in his support but the issue festers. Unfortunately, this has little to do with the real problem facing IITs — a lack of adequate faculty and little cutting-edge research. Read more…

FILM CENSOR BOARD STACKED WITH BJP FAVORITES

(The News Minute| January 19, 2015)

 

The Central Government on Monday appointed a new chairperson for the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC). While producer Pahlaj Nihalani was appointed as the censor board chief, nine other members were appointed with immediate effect following the change of guard at the CFBC led by Leela Samson.  (Leela Samson was the chair of CFBC who resigned in protest along with 12 other members two weeks ago, citing the BJP government’s interference in the workings of the CFBC. – Eds.) Read more…

SHADES OF TERROR

Suhas Chakma

 

It has been about a month since India witnessed the largest terror killings in 2014 in which a total of 81 innocent Adivasis were massacred in Kokrajhar and Sonitpur districts of Assam on December 23, 2013, by the National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB) headed by Songbijit Ingti Kathar. It took place just one week after another equally heart-wrenching massacre of 145 people, including 132 schoolchildren by the Tehrik-i-Taliban (Pakistan) terrorists who attacked the Army Public School in Peshawar on December 16. Read more…

DELHI HIGH COURT REJECTS HOME MINISTRY’S ACTION AGAINST GREENPEACE

Bhagwan Kesbhat

 

The Delhi High Court noticed that the action of* Home Ministry* to block Greenpeace’s foreign funds is arbitrary, illegal & unconstitutional. Court also observed that NGOs are entitled to have their viewpoint and merely because their views are not in consonance with the Government’s views it does not mean the NGO is acting to the detriment of the national interest. Read more…

SRI LANKA’S LONGTIME PRESIDENT OUSTED IN ELECTION DEFEAT

Scott Neuman

 

Sri Lanka’s incoming President Maithripala Sirisena waves to supporters as he leaves the election secretariat in Colombo, Sri Lanka on Friday. Sirisena defeated long-time President Mahinda Rajapaksa. Read more…

AMIT SHAH AND CLOSED ENCOUNTERS OF THE WORST KIND

Siddharth Varadarajan

 

The most astonishing aspect of the CBI court’s decision to release Amit Shah from all charges connected to the 2005-06 murders of Sohrabuddin, his wife Kauser Bi and Tulsiram Prajapati is not that the judge chose to see the BJP president’s prosecution as politically motivated. Rather, it is that the Central Bureau of Investigation doesn’t seem particularly worried about the judgment’s implications for its own reputation and for the very future of the fake encounter case. Read more…

SCIENCE MEET DIDN’T HEAR: 40 YEARS AGO, IISC DEBUNKED FLYING CLAIMS

T.A. Johnson

 

At the Indian Science Congress on Sunday, at a special session called “Vedic Science through Sanskrit”, a former pilot, Captain Anand J Bodas, claimed that aircraft technology existed in India thousands of years before the Wright brothers’ first flight in 1903. To substantiate his claim that aeronautical engineering in India dates back to Vedic times, Bodas referred to a book, Vyamanika Shastra, that claims to document ancient sage Maharishi Bharadwaja’s musings on aviation technology. Read more…

PSEUDO-SCIENCE MUST NOT FIGURE IN INDIAN SCIENCE CONGRESS

Vikrant Dadawala

 

A scientist at NASA’s Ames Research Centre in California has launched an online petition demanding that a lecture on ‘Ancient Indian Aviation Technology’ to be delivered at the 102nd Indian Science Congress in Mumbai in January be cancelled as it brings into question the “integrity of the scientific process”. Read more…

RESURGENCE OF GODSE WORSHIP

Ram Puniyani

 

Times are a changing; and changing fast. During last many decades most Hindu nationalists have kept the appreciation of their hero, Nathuram Godse under wraps. The programs appreciating his politics did use to make small news here and there some time; but as such it was a muted act not much publicized and generally kept as a low key affair. During last few years Pradeep Dalvi’s play in Marathi, Mee Nathuram Boltoy (I, Nathuram speaking), attacking Gandhi and upholding Godse, drew packed houses in various places in Maharashtra. Many people had also protested against staging of this play off and on. Read more…

OBITUARY: SYED MOHAMMAD MEHDI (1922-2015)

Notes From Maamujan’s Diary

Jawed Naqvi

 

There can be many ways to announce the end of an era. Saeed Mirza made Naseem, for example, a delicately poignant film that turned the 1992 demolition of the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya into a metaphor for the unravelling of the Nehruvian promise. Saeed staged a cinematic coup of sorts, in fact, by getting the leftist poet Kaifi Azmi to agree to essay the waning of the Indian dream. He excelled in his role as the doting grandfather of Naseem, a curious, fun-loving Muslim schoolgirl, like so many of her age from the pre-1990s Mumbai. Read more…

TARAN ON HER GRANDFATHER, S.M. MEHDI

So Baba, my grandfather, decided he could not do without his beloved wife (Zahra Begum-1927-2014). Just ten weeks after Nanna, he passed away at home, in his sleep. He was 94, which irrationally does not stop me from wishing I’d had more time with him. Read more…

BABA: MOHD MEHDI

What can I say about you?

A father figure to me Read more…

MEMORIAL SERVICE FOR MEHDI SAHAB at Ghalib Academy, New Delhi

Vinod Mubayi

 

The memorial service on January 14, 2015 was both a poignant and a deeply moving evening. Read more…

OBITUARY: RAJNI KOTHARI (1928-2015)

Shiv Visvanathan

How does one talk of a man who defined a subject, determined its directions, was its dominating presence without a shade of pomposity or status. Rajni Kothari was clear about some of the subjects of his studies, irreverently and pragmatically certain that the Indian elite was knowledge-proof, that the only changes it would accept were pressures from below or by mimicking its colonial masters. Here was a man far ahead of his times, a futurist in perspective. Read more…

OBITUARY: TAPAN RAYCHAUDHURI (1926–2014)

A B

 

Narendra Krishna Sinha, the legendary historian of yester years and the author of the celebrated Economic History of Bengal, introduced a number of brilliant students to historical research. Tapan Raychaudhuri, who died in Oxford on 27 November at the age of eighty-eight, belonged to that galaxy of historians. After a brief period of teaching at the University of Calcutta, he went to Oxford. While in Europe, he studied the original records of Dutch trade in India and produced the book, Jan Company in Coromandal, which shot him into fame. Coming back to India, he taught for some time as the Professor of Economic History at Delhi School of Economics. Then he again went to Oxford and took up a teaching post there. Gradually he rose to become a professor at this world famous institution. He also edited, along with Irfan Habib, the first volume of the Cambridge Economic History of India. His other works on history are Europe Reconsidered and Perceptions, Emotions, Sensibilities. Read more…

OBITUARY: PERIN CHANDRA (1919-2015)

Chandita Mukherjee

 

Perin Chandra passed away peacefully on 7th January, 2015 after 96 years of an active and eventful life as a communist and peace activist, loved and admired by all. Read more…

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