Vinod Mubayi and Raza Mir


The murder of Gauri Lankesh in Bengaluru on September 5 by motorcycle riding terrorists brought the emergence of Indian fascism into the spotlight in a most chilling fashion, highlighting the utter vulnerability of all activists who dare to oppose Hindutva. Lankesh was a fearless journalist who wielded her pen to oppose and expose the criminalization of political and cultural life under the current rulers of the country.


She was killed at a time when the murders of other rationalists, scholars and writers, Dabholkar, Pansare, and Kalburgi, remain unsolved and the perpetrators unpunished even though their link to shadowy Hindu extremist organizations has been frequently commented on. Prof. Kancha Illaiah, a well- known Dalit academic who has been critiquing the Brahmanical social order and its injustices has been threatened by a politician, a member of Parliament no less, with death for his writings. Moreover, Hindutva terrorists like Sadhvi Pragya Thakur and Col. Purohit who were in custody for several years accused of the most heinous crimes like bombings and killings are now being released on bail and the chances that they will pay for their acts grow dimmer each day as witnesses recant and police agencies at the Centre obey the orders of their political masters.


We include in this issue an article by Christophe Jaffrelot and Bassim Nissa on the future of the “Right to Information” Act in India, which highlights the precarious conditions in which activists are forced to operate.


Women students at Banaras Hindu University protesting sexual harassment of one of their members were met with police violence via a lathi charge in response to their demonstration. The Vice-Chancellor, another acolyte of Hindutva, made some of the most despicable patriarchal remarks when the students asked him to take action. But recent news on the student front is encouraging as the BJP-student union, ABVP, has been decisively defeated in a number of high profile elections in various universities including JNU, Delhi University and Hyderabad Central University.


The Rohingya crisis in Myanmar precipitated by its government that exposed the humanitarian pretensions of Nobel Laureate Aung San Su Kyi also brought shame on the governments of Bangladesh (who turned away the desperate victims of the Myanmar army toward certain death), and India (whose Prime Minister blithely blamed “extremists” for the problem).


Lahore’s by-election highlighted how Pakistan’s polity is being coopted by the most unsavory of religious extremists. India and Pakistan traded the now-standard barbs at the UN summit. The brief interludes of friendship were further challenged by the bellicose language of nationalist aggression.


Lost in the tumult (but not really) was an important anniversary. This summer marks the 150th anniversary of the publication of Karl Marx’s Das Kapital (Volume 1). This book has a significance that goes beyond its contents, and we salute this tome that became a lodestar for the movements of the oppressed of the world to seek freedom, dignity and a seat at the table. Celebrating this moment, we include two long pieces on Marxism, the first by Vamsi Vakulabharanam on Capital, Volume 1, and the second by Achin Vanaik on Marxism and nationalism. We beg your indulgence for a longer than usual bulletin, but the good news is that we have not increased either its weight (it remains digital) or its cost (it remains free. You will neither sprain your wrist nor strain your purse!

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