SECULARISM, DEMOCRACY, HUMAN RIGHTS AND SOCIAL JUSTICE

INSAF Bulletin 229 May 2021
Editors: Daya Varma (Montreal) and Vinod Mubayi (New York)


On the 150th anniversary of the Paris Commune, INSAF Bulletin pays homage to the memory of the working women and men of Paris whose epic struggle pointed the way to a better and more just world.

EDITORIAL: AS DISASTER STRIKES, INDIA TEETERS ON THE BRINK

Vinod Mubayi

In the internet age, news of disasters is difficult to hide even for authoritarian regimes that try to stifle dissent or conceal images that show them in a bad light. The videos from India freely available on YouTube and Facebook are full of the most gruesome scenes of corpses piling up at crematoria, Shamshan ghats and graveyards, patients gasping for lack of oxygen on hospital beds, and people wailing and screaming in hospital parking lots for their near and dear ones to get medical attention. International and national newspapers and agencies are documenting in excruciating detail the disaster overtaking India that is now at such a scale that is impossible for the Modi regime to hide.

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HOW RSS LAY THE GROUNDWORK FOR THE “TSUNAMI” THAT BJP IS EXPECTING IN WEST BENGAL

Amit Bhardwaj

In April 2017, West Bengal stood witness to scenes like never before. Districts after districts were taken over by men wearing saffron bandanas. They chanted “Jai Shree Ram,” and wielded swords and trishuls—tridents. Cities and townships such as Asansol and Birbhum had thousands of men thronging the streets. The saffron flags were mounted on vehicles, on houses and on shops. In Kolkata, tableaus featuring Hindu gods were taken out from different locations. In a state where Durga Puja is considered to be the biggest cultural-religious function, such gigantic fanfare around Ramnavami—a festival marking the birth of the Hindu deity Ram—was unprecedented. But as state leaders of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh told me, it was not unexpected. This transformation was by design, a result of years of groundwork by the RSS. In the 2021 assembly elections, the Bharatiya Janata Party is hoping to reap the benefits of this labour.

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A NEW BORDER IN THE OLD REPUBLIC: THE CLASS AND CASTE-BASED CONTRADICTIONS WITHIN INDIA’S FARMERS’ PROTEST

Aditya Bahl

For the first time in the history of postcolonial India, two different parades marked the Republic Day 2021 celebrations in New Delhi. At the Rashtrapati Bhavan, the president’s residence, the rightwing government organised a public spectacle of Hindu nationalism, parading tableaus of new temples and artilleries, and sanctifying them as emblems of the emergent ‘Hindu nation’. Meanwhile, on the outskirts of the country’s capital, thousands of farmers and agrarian workers took out a ‘tractor parade’, protesting the new farm bills passed by the ruling government.

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BJP HAILS PM FOR “DEFEATING” COVID-19

[Lest we forget]

The BJP on Sunday hailed Prime Minister Narendra Modi for having “defeated” Covid-19 as also legislative reforms such as the three farm laws, labour codes, merger of Public Sector banks, New Education Policy.

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INDIA IS COLLAPSING UNDER A SECOND WAVE OF CORONAVIRUS. CALLOUSNESS AND INCOMPETENCE ARE KILLING US

Barkha Dutt

In 2020, it was the sight of millions of daily-wage workers walking on the national highways of India, fleeing the cities for their villages, that defined the covid-19 crisis in the country. Now, in 2021, the country’s blundering, callous and shortsighted response to a second wave is chillingly captured at overrun graveyards and cremation grounds.

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IT’S NOT ENOUGH TO SAY THE GOVT HAS FAILED. WE ARE WITNESSING A CRIME AGAINST HUMANITY

Arundhati Roy

During a particularly polarising election campaign in the state of Uttar Pradesh in 2017, India’s prime minister, Narendra Modi, waded into the fray to stir things up even further. From a public podium, he accused the state government – which was led by an opposition party – of pandering to the Muslim community by spending more on Muslim graveyards (kabristans) than on Hindu cremation grounds (shamshans). With his customary braying sneer, in which every taunt and barb rises to a high note mid-sentence before it falls away in a menacing echo, he stirred up the crowd. “If a kabristan is built in a village, a shamshan should also be constructed there,” he said.

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PAKISTAN’S PRIME MINISTER LINKS RAPE TO ‘VULGARITY’ AND HOW WOMEN DRESS

Salman Masood

An outcry has erupted in Pakistan after Prime Minister Imran Khan blamed a rise in rape cases on how women dressed, remarks that activists denounced as perpetuating a culture of victim blaming.

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