SECULARISM, DEMOCRACY, HUMAN RIGHTS AND SOCIAL JUSTICE

INSAF Bulletin 159 July 2015
Editors: Daya Varma (Montreal) and Vinod Mubayi (New York)


This issue of the bulletin is dedicated to the memory of Praful Bidwai (1949-2015) who passed away unexpectedly on June 24.

CULTURAL NATIONALISM IN MODI’S INDIA

Raza Mir

 

The Modi government declared June 21 “World Yoga Day,” and while steady pressure from secular elements in civil society forced it off its initial plan to make it mandatory for government employees, it has plans to make yoga compulsory for police officers and paramilitary forces in the near future. Several low-grade assaults on plural culture have marked the Modi era. These include the beef ban enacted in Maharashtra in April 2015, the reiteration by the RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat of the tired trope that “all Indians are Hindus”, the escalation of ghar vapsi programs aimed at coercive conversion of indigent minorities, scare tactics against inter-religious marriages by labeling them love jihad, and the imputation that the Indian population can be divided into the binary between Ramzada and haramzada made by a minister. These acts of menace have been supported by low-level riots such as the arson attack on five churches in New Delhi in December 2014, the burning down of Muslim homes and shops in the Trilokpuri locality of eastern New Delhi in October 2014, or the May 2015 act of burning down 150 homes belonging to Muslims in Ballabhgarh, Haryana. The strategy appears to be one of minimizing loss of life while maximizing loss of property, so as to stay below the radar of the global press. All these diverse data points intensify the feeling that the cultural nationalist strand of the BJP (led often by the RSS) has begun to flex its muscles. Read more…

PRAFUL BIDWAI (1949-2015): VOICE OF SANITY AND COMMITMENT IS NO MORE

Vinod Mubayi

 

Praful passed away very unexpectedly in Amsterdam of cardiac arrest a few days ago. He had gone there to attend a meeting of the Transnational Institute of which he was a member. Read more…

TRIUMPHALISM OVER MYANMAR RAID

Praful Bidwai

 

The debate over the June 9 raids by the Indian Army’s Special Forces unit against two Northeastern insurgent groups on Myanmarese territory has produced two main reactions. The first reaction, from Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s diehard supporters, is triumphalist and holds that the retaliatory operation’s “great” success against National Socialist Council of Nagaland (Khaplang) rebels must be trumpeted. The second reaction defends the present covert operation, but believes that publicising such operations is unwise, even self-defeating. Read more…

LALOO’S ‘POISON’ OR NITISH’S ELIXIR? SIGNIFICANCE OF BIHAR ELECTIONS

Praful Bidwai

 

Has a secular anti-Bharatiya Janata Party alliance at last been sealed in Bihar, following Rashtriya Janata Dal leader Laloo Prasad’s declaration that he would consume “poison” by fighting the coming Assembly elections jointly with the Janata Dal (United) and the Congress, and proposing Nitish Kumar as its Chief Ministerial candidate in the presence of JD(U) chief Sharad Yadav? Read more…

THE IIT-M EPISODE SHOWS AMBEDKAR CAN NEVER BE A HINDUTVA ICON

Praful Bidwai

 

The ugly controversy triggered by the decision by the Dean of Students at the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras to de-recognise the student body Ambedkar-Periyar Study Circle has ended. The Institute director restored its recognition following a spate of protests in numerous cities by students and political parties, and a meeting with APSC members. The conflict’s continuation would have generated protests from the international scientific community and brought more opprobrium to IIT-M. Read more…

‘ARE YOU A MULLA OR ONE OF US?’

Apoorvanand, Ali Javed and Satish Deshpande report on Atali village.

 

http://kafila.org/2015/06/18/are-you-a-mulla-or-one-of-us/#more-25557 Read more…

365 DAYS: DEMOCRACY & SECULARISM UNDER THE MODI REGIME

http://www.anhadin.net

 

Damage to India’s ethos may be irreversible, Civil Society report of One Year of Narendra Modi government Read more…

NO MERCY FOR THE POOR

Jean Drèze

 

http://thewire.in/2015/06/18/no-mercy-for-the-poor/

 

Even as it claims to be fighting the perception that it is anti-poor, the Modi government has just dealt a big blow to the poorest of the poor: the planned phasing out of the Antyodaya programme under the Targeted Public Distribution System (Control) Order 2015. This move is unjust and illegal. Read more…

PAKISTAN INDIA PEOPLES’ FORUM FOR PEACE & DEMOCRACY: PRESS STATEMENT

(Released jointly by the India & Pakistan Chapters of Pakistan India People’s Forum for Peace and democracy)

 

17 June 2015

 

We, the members of Pakistan India Peoples’ Forum for Peace and Democracy appreciate the welcoming news from the Prime Minister’s Office regarding Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s call with his counterpart Nawaz Sharif to extend his best wishes for Ramzan which starts on 18th of June, 2015. We also welcome the decision by the Indian Prime Minister to release the Pakistani Fishermen from Indian jails to spend the blessed month of Ramzan with their families. While we appreciate these welcoming decisions by the PMO, we strongly feel that these efforts to maintain friendly relations with Pakistan should be consistent and not in fits and starts. Read more…

INDIA: YOGA HOGA

Dilip Simeon

 

16 June

 

The ongoing controversy about yoga is yet another example of deceitful polemic. It began with a reminder that yoga has nothing to do with religion. Of late, however, sundry political swamis have announced that anyone who disapproves of compulsory yoga should leave the country. So now yoga is essential not only to Hinduism but to national pride. Refusal to submit to this rule is treachery. The ‘Parivar’ presumes to decide what is or is not ‘national’ and who may or may not live in India. Perhaps some energetic policemen will lodge a case of sedition against anyone refusing to perform surya-namaskar. Read more…

ATTACK ON CONSTITUTIONAL VALUES

(Newsclick interview with Harsh Mander)

 

15 June

 

http://newsclick.in/india/modi-governments-1-year-systematic-attack-constitutional-values Read more…

UNDERMINING NATIONAL INSTITUTIONS TO CREATE REGIMENTED MINDS

Irfan Engineer

 

The students of FTII are agitated over appointment of Gajendra Chauhan as President Chair of the Governing Council of the Institute. About 150 students pursuing various courses at the FTII are on an indefinite strike against the patent political appointment because of Chauhan’s affiliation with the BJP. When we google Chauhan, all the information we get is that he acted in films like Andaaz (2203), Baghban (2003) and Tumko Na Bhool Payenge (2002). Wikipedia informs us that he acted in 150 movies and 600 TV serials. However, links to only some of the movies Chauhan acted in are given and when we follow the link, often his name is not even mentioned in the star cast of the film. Chauhan claims that he has worked in 600 serials, however only one TV serial in which Chauhan acted was popular – Mahabharat where he played the role of eldest of Pandava brothers – Yuddhishthir. He may have acted in 600 episodes. Students felt that Chauhan lacked the vision, stature and experience and was not qualified for the post which was once occupied by Satyajit Ray, Mrinal Sen, Girish Karnad, Shyam Benegal and Adoor Gopalkrishnan. Noted film makers like Anand Patwardhan have expressed their serious concern over the appointment of Chauhan when the short list included Gulzar, Shyam Benegal, Saeed Mirza and Adoor Gopalkrishnan. The previous incumbents of the Chair were winner of prestigious awards, including Padmashree, Padma Vibhushan, Sahitya Akademi, Dadasaheb Phalke, Jnanpeeth and other prestigious Awards. Gajendra Chauhan has no such credentials. There is lack of transparency in the appointment. Read more…

EGGS AND PREJUDICE: CHILD NUTRITION IS BEING HELD HOSTAGE TO SPURIOUS, LARGELY UPPER CASTE, ARGUMENTS

Reetika Khera

 

http://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/columns/eggs-and-prejudice

 

Child nutrition is prime-time news only when a tragedy occurs. Child undernutrition is no less a tragedy but rarely recognised as such. Read more…

CERAS-SAWCC MEMORIAL FOR DAYA VARMA

On Sunday 7th June, CERAS (South Asia Centre) and SAWCC (South Asian Women’s Community Centre) held in Montreal, a joint memorial meeting for Daya Varma. Read more…

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