SECULARISM, DEMOCRACY, HUMAN RIGHTS AND SOCIAL JUSTICE

INSAF Bulletin 248 December 2022
Editors: Daya Varma (Montreal) and Vinod Mubayi (New York)

EDITORIAL: DOES COP STAND FOR “CONFESSION OF POWERLESSNESS?”

Vinod Mubayi

Another COP (COP27, Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, to give its full title) held in Egypt, has come and gone leaving, well, nothing much behind. The facts behind the warming of the Earth by greenhouse gases (GHGs) such as carbon dioxide and methane due to combustion of fossil fuels have been known for many decades. An average global warming of 1.1 degree Celsius over pre-industrial age temperatures has been observed and this rise is already causing severe disruptions in weather in many places.

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PULLED APART: HOW DECADES OF SOUTH ASIAN UNITY UNRAVELLED IN LEICESTER

Sukant Chandan

Though the city of Leicester has had a recent history of ethnic animosity, the ferocity with which it descended into a maelstrom of communal violence in September caught the police, the press and local community leaders off guard. It started with a brief clash between cricket fans after a match on 28 August, though many could write that off as a common enough occurrence. But a sense of unease remained for the next few weeks, with The Guardian reporting seven communal disturbances in east Leicester.

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WHAT LULA’S WIN MEANS FOR THE OPPOSITION TO MODI

Jishnu Dasgupta

A bit more than two years into the first term of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Prakash Karat of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) raised quite a storm in the teacup. He argued that the Bharatiya Janata Party, under Modi, while “rightwing authoritarian”, was not “fascist”. The reason, said Karat, was that the conditions of Indian capitalism were not ripe for fascism.

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DID ISRAELI DIRECTOR NADAV LAPID REALLY ABUSE INDIA’S HOSPITALITY WITH HIS ‘KASHMIR FILES’ CRITIQUE?

Suraj Gogoi

Israeli filmmaker Nadav Lapid’s criticism of the Vivek Agnihotri’s The Kashmir Files as “a propaganda, vulgar movie” at the closing ceremony of the International Film Festival of India in Goa on Monday drew several sharp reactions – including a bristling response from his compatriot Naor Gilon, the Israeli ambassador to India.

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A STADIUM MURAL CELEBRATED MIGRANT WORKERS. WHEN THE WORLD CUP BEGAN, IT WAS GONE

Tariq Panja

The giant mural with thousands of faces was certainly an arresting feature for visitors of Qatar’s showpiece stadium in the months leading to the World Cup.

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PAKISTAN ON THE BOIL AS FORMER PM IMRAN KHAN TAKES ON THE ‘DEEP STATE’

John Cherian

Pakistan, already reeling from unprecedented floods, is now beset with another serious political crisis triggered by the Election Commission’s decision to bar former Prime Minister Imran Khan, who heads the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI), from contesting the next election.

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THE RUBBLE: WHAT WAS LOST IN THE BABRI MASJID DEMOLITION, THIRTY YEARS AGO, AND WHAT REMAINS

Seema Chishti

IN 1992, I worked as a correspondent for Eyewitness, a monthly video newsmagazine owned by Hindustan Times TV. The senior journalist Karan Thapar was the show’s executive producer. Our team had been covering Uttar Pradesh regularly, and I had visited the Babri Masjid in July.

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FROM THE ARCHIVES: WHATEVER HAPPENED TO CLASS?

Vivek Chibber

[This essay was first published in April 2008, based on a paper published by the writer in the December 2006 issue of the journal Critical Asian Studies.]

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EDITORIAL: COM KUMAR SHIRALKAR PASSES AWAY

Vinod Mubayi

From time to time, the Insaf Bulletin’s editorial column pauses its review and analysis of current events to focus on the lives of recently departed progressive South Asian comrades whose work greatly enriched their academic, social, or cultural community in many ways. In March 2022, we paused to remember our comrades Sudheer Bedekar and Aijaz Ahmad who passed away then.

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MODI LED BJP GOVT HAS MADE INDIA THE HUNGER HOTSPOT OF THE WORLD

The Global Hunger Index 2022, released on October 13, shows that India’s rank in the world has slipped further – from 101 last year to 107 this year – in terms of this important indicator of conditions of hunger and malnutrition.

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RISING HUNGER, GROWING POVERTY

Prabhat Patnaik

The Global Hunger Index (GHI) for 2022 recently came out, showing India occupying the 107th position among the 121 countries for which the index is prepared (countries where hunger is not a noteworthy problem are left out of the index). India’s score on the hunger index is 29.1 which is worse than the score of 28.2 it had in 2014. (The lower the figure the less is hunger).

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AVTAR SINGH JOUHL (1937 – 2022): BELOVED COMRADE – OBITUARY

Paul Mackney

On Tuesday morning, 10 October, a large and loud gathering of UCU strike pickets, outside South and City College Birmingham, stopped their singing, chanting, blowing of whistles and vuvuzelas to observe a minute’s silence.

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‘HUMANS BEFORE HINDUS OR MUSLIMS,’ SAY MEN WHO SAVED LIVES DURING DURGA IDOL IMMERSION IN BENGAL

Astha Savyasachi

While in Gujarat, cops were seen thrashing Muslim men over an alleged attack on a Garba event, in Bengal, three Muslim men risked their lives to save around 30 people from drowning in flash floods.

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EAGLES AND SHARKS: FINANCIAL IMPERIALISM IN PAKISTAN AND SRI LANKA

Hashim bin Rashid

Sri Lanka and Pakistan today face the largest economic crisis in their histories. Domestic currencies appear on the verge of collapse, import bans have been announced, and inflation is at an all-time high as indicated by spikes in fuel and food prices.

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THE UNMISSABLE MAINSTREAMING OF THE HINDU RIGHT’S HATE FOR MUSLIMS

Dhirendra K Jha

Just about a fortnight before Bharatiya Janata Party MP Parvesh Verma’s call for a “total boycott” of “these people,” a sinister anti-Muslim message emerged from the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh’s Nagpur headquarters.

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NEOLIBERAL DREAMS AND NIGHTMARES: HEGEMONY AND THE MIDDLE CLASS IN PAKISTAN

Umair Javed

Book Review: The Struggle for Hegemony in Pakistan: Fear, Desire and Revolutionary Horizons by Aasim Sajjad Akhtar, Pluto Press, 2022; pp 192.

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BATTERED BY FLOODS AND TRAPPED IN DEBT, PAKISTANI FARMERS STRUGGLE TO SURVIVE

Christina Goldbaum and Zia ur-Rehman

NAWABSHAH, Pakistan — The young woman waded into the waist-deep floodwater that covered her farmland, scouring shriveled stalks of cotton for the few surviving white blooms. Every step she took in the warm water was precarious: Her feet sank into the soft earth. Snakes glided past her. Swarms of mosquitoes whirred in her ears.

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EDITORIAL: COMMUNAL RUMBLINGS AMONG DIASPORIC SOUTH ASIANS REFLECTS THE GROWTH OF HINDUTVA WITHIN INDIA AS MINORITY MUSLIMS ARE INCREASINGLY TARGETED BY THE MODI REGIME

Vinod Mubayi

The reported communal riots in the town of Leicester in the UK are, at one level, an ugly manifestation of the Hindu-Muslim squabbles that have bedeviled the subcontinent for many years. What happened at Leicester and why and who was responsible will be established after the UK police enquiry is complete. Meanwhile the familiar, banal reasons were cited: tensions among rival fans after an India-Pakistan cricket match, and petty fights and ethnic slurs in public areas. These were followed by reports of attacks on a temple and a mosque.

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PUCL CONDEMNS THE MASS RAIDS, THE ARRESTS OF PFI LEADERSHIP AND CADRE AND THE BAN ON THE PFI

V. Suresh, General Secretary PUCL

The PUCL is deeply concerned about the implications for democracy and the constitutional rights of freedom of speech and association in the light of the ongoing `Operation Octopus’ which is being carried out against the Popular Front of India (PFI) and its affiliates, across the country as a joint operation of the CRPF, the home ministry, ATS, NIA, ED, RAW, State police, and other agencies.

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THE MODI-ADANI TANGO: UNPRECEDENTED CONCENTRATION OF POWER AND WEALTH

Editorial in ‘Liberation’

On 16 September, the day before the 72nd birth anniversary of Narendra Modi, his closest capitalist friend Gautam Adani had briefly become the world’s second richest person according to Forbes’ Real Time Billionaires List before being pushed back to the third position.

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REMEMBER BHAGAT SINGH FOR HIS IDEAS AND VISION

S Irfan Habib

Bhagat Singh was born on 28 September 1907. We know him as a martyr and a nationalist par excellence but, lately, we have also learnt of his intellectual capabilities as a young man. Some of my own efforts have helped to unravel his intellectual evolution through his writings, many of which have surfaced during the past few decades.

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IN INDIA, DEBUNKING FAKE NEWS AND RUNNING INTO THE AUTHORITIES

Suhasini Raj

Alt News, an independent website, has emerged as a leading debunker of misinformation in the nation, but highlighting hate speech against minorities has put it on a collision course with the government.

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UNPACKING THE FLOODS IN PAKISTAN: ON ROOT CAUSES, CHALLENGES AND GAPS IN STATE CAPACITY

Interview with Dawar Butt

On 25 August, Pakistan declared a state of emergency due to flooding, which has been described as among the worst in the country’s history.

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HOW DEMOLITIONS ARE DEEPENING THE DESPAIR OF INDIA’S POOR

Aishwarya Ayushmaan and Anagha Jaipal

Two decades ago, when six-year-old Reena returned to her basti (informal settlement) in Manglapuri, Delhi after attending school, she couldn’t find her home. Frantically, she searched around for half an hour until she found her mother.

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IN A FIRST STUDY OF PAKISTAN’S FLOODS, SCIENTISTS SEE CLIMATE CHANGE AT WORK

Raymond Zhong

Pakistan began receiving abnormally heavy rain in mid-June, and, by late August, drenching downpours were declared a national emergency. The southern part of the Indus River, which traverses the length of the country, became a vast lake.

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TESTING TRANSNATIONAL LABOUR SOLIDARITY IN THE LABORATORY OF BANGLADESH

Nafisa Tanjeem

The contemporary global supply chains have taken the art of exploiting labour to serve the purpose of the elites of both the center and the periphery of the global capitalist system to a whole new level.

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THE ‘NEW’ INDIA: A POLITICAL-ECONOMIC DIAGNOSIS

Pranab Bardhan

The preamble to the Constitution of India affirms the solemn resolve of its people to found a ‘socialist, secular, democratic republic’.footnote1 Today, on the 75th anniversary of the country’s Independence, it is plainly neither socialist nor secular—nor, one could well argue, democratic.

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EDITORIAL: INDIA’S JUSTICE SYSTEM IN THE MODI ERA MAKES ONE WEEP AS IT TURNS INTO ANOTHER ARM OF THE GOVERNMENT

Vinod Mubayi

The last couple of months have witnessed several self-goals by India’s top judiciary at least as far as elementary or natural justice is concerned. First there was the denial, rubbishing would be a more accurate description, of the Zakia Jafri petition by a Supreme Court panel headed by Justice Khanwilkar. Mrs. Jafri’s husband, ex-Member of Parliament Ehsan Jafri, was brutally killed by a mob in Ahmedabad in the Gujarat pogrom of 2002 as police stood by doing nothing, despite frantic calls to the political establishment including then Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi.

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THE 3RD DR. ASGHAR ALI ENGINEER MEMORIAL LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD WAS CONFERRED ON PROF. ABDUS SATTAR DALVI: A BRIEF REPORT OF THE CEREMONY

Mithila Raut and Neha Dabhade

“Prof. Abdus Sattar Dalvi has contributed significantly in bringing the Urdu speaking and Marathi speaking communities closer by translating Marathi literary gems into Urdu. Especially by translating the works of Marathi saint poets, Prof. Dalvi has promoted better understanding and peaceful co-existence between different communities”, said Prof. Indra Munshi, former head of the department of Sociology at Mumbai University and a reputed scholar.

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COMMENTS ON “THE PARTITION AT 75”: DISCUSSION ORGANIZED BY OPP, THE NETHERLANDS

[On Sunday, 28 August 2022, a major discussion on zoom was hosted by the Organization of Progressive Pakistanis (OPP), Netherlands, in which socially engaged scholars, two of Pakistani origin, Ishtiaq Ahmed and Pervez Hoodbhoy and two of Indian origin, Rajmohan Gandhi and Harsh Mander, spoke in a panel discussion on the 75 years of Partition and its long shadows which continue to haunt relations between the two states of India and Pakistan. We provide below the text of the opening remarks of Rajmohan Gandhi, grandson of Mahatma Gandhi. – Eds.]

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BANGLADESH: THE NEXT FRONTIER

Nafis H

With the climate crisis looming large on the horizon, Bangladesh must confront imperialist powers, old and new, to ensure its survival.

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PAKISTAN HIT BY DEADLY FLOODS OF ‘EPIC PROPORTIONS’

Austin Ramzy

Devastating floods have surged across Pakistan, overflowing riverbanks and bridges, inundating houses and fields and killing more than 100 people this weekend, officials said late Saturday.

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UNDER THE THUMB: A NEW LEGISLATION EXPANDS THE INDIAN GOVERNMENT’S SURVEILLANCE POWERS

Bindu Doddahatti and Ameya Bokil

By March 2021, the National Crime Records Bureau—the apex body maintaining crime- and criminal-related databases—had a record of eight million fingerprints in its National Automated Fingerprint Identification System.

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THE IMPORTANCE OF ANAND TELTUMBDE’S THOUGHTS IN A REPUBLIC OF CASTE

MS Sriram

As an email circulates to support a campaign to name Professor Anand Teltumbde in the list of world’s top thinkers to be listed in Prospect magazine, it is time to take note of his important work: Republic of Caste (2018) and put it in perspective.

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THE WOUNDS OF REMISSION: THE RELEASE OF BILKIS BANO’S TORMENTERS PUTS A QUESTION MARK ON THE PROVISION OF REMITTING THE CONVICTS

EPW Editorial

Eleven persons convicted for gang rape and murder who were sentenced to life imprisonment were prematurely released on 15 August 2022. The garlands and sweets offered to these convicted prisoners after their release by right-wing activists only bring back the memory of the crimes committed in the Gujarat riots of 2002.

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INDIAN WORKERS DEFEND THEIR STEEL WITH THEIR LIVES

Vijay Prashad

Dear friends,

Greetings from the desk of Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research.

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EDITORIAL: DESTROYING DEMOCRACY AND SOCIETY IN THE WORLD’S OLDEST AND LARGEST DEMOCRACIES; HOW COMPLICIT IS THE JUDICIARY?

Vinod Mubayi

It is a trope of democratic politics that toleration of dissenting opinions and the promotion of a broad vision of societal welfare are a hallmark of democracy. These goals are enshrined in democratic constitutions that function as the pillar of democratic governance.

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BY UPHOLDING PMLA, SC PUTS ITS STAMP ON KAFKA’S LAW

Pratap Bhanu Mehta

We should be grateful that the Supreme Court of India has in Vijay Madanlal Choudhary and Ors versus Union of India, which challenged the constitutionality of certain provisions of the PMLA (Prevention of Money Laundering Act), laid bare the true character of the Indian state.

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SRI LANKA’S DUAL CRISIS: ETHNIC CONFLICT & THE DEBT ECONOMY

Nalika Gajaweera

“Except for the home crowd cheering for our national team at an international cricket match, it was the first time I was seeing Sri Lankans united together for the same cause”, said a Sri Lankan friend as she recounted the first days of the 2022 protests calling for the resignation of President Gotabaya Rajapakse.

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INDIAN POLITICS HAS A CLEAR GENDER IMBALANCE. THAT’S WHY WE NEED THE WOMEN’S RESERVATION BILL

Fauzia Khan

Politics has long been a male bastion in which women have yet to gain an equal footing. Even when women leaders overcome significant obstacles to enter electoral politics, they are continuously discouraged by misogynistic attitudes and character assassination.

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THE PAKISTAN AND IMF TALKS: WHAT LIES AHEAD?

Ankit Singh

The story so far: On July 14, the staff-level talks between Pakistan and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) concluded for the seventh and eighth review under Extended Fund Facility (EFF).

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HINDU RASHTRA OST: THE HINDUTVA POP SINGERS FUELLING A POLITICS OF HATE

Samriddhi Sakunia

DURING RAM NAVAMI processions in April this year, communal violence broke out in several states across India. In almost all cases, there was a similar pattern. Hindu mobs entered Muslim neighbourhoods, wielding swords and sticks, shouting communal slogans and playing loud music.

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WILL GANATANTRA MANCHA BE THE ANTIDOTE TO THE BANGLADESHI POLITICAL IMPASSE?

Anupam Debashis Roy

In Bangladesh, the preparations for the next elections have already started. Although the election is more than a year away, slated to be held in December 2023, the parties seem to already be preparing for it in their own ways.

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DRIVEN BY COMPULSIONS AND A RECIPE FOR DISASTER: THE AGNIPATH SCHEME

Ghazala Wahab

Far from being driven by a vision for the reform of the armed forces, the Agnipath scheme is an outcome of compulsions born out of severe financial and strategic shortcomings.

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EMINENT CANADIANS DEEPLY CONCERNED ABOUT DIMINISHING DEMOCRACY IN INDIA

21 July 2022

Over 50 eminent Canadians, deeply concerned about diminishing democracy in India, signed letters to the President of India, Ram Nath Kovind and the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of India, N.V. Ramana, requesting the immediate release of Teesta Setalvad, well-known Indian human rights defender and journalist, and R.B. Sreekumar, a police officer of great integrity. 

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EDITORIAL: BULLDOZER BRUTALITY IS ANOTHER STEP INTO A NAZI-STYLE FASCIST ABYSS; WHERE ARE THE COURTS AND JUDICIARY?

Vinod Mubayi

We have seen this movie before. What has been happening in various towns of UP and MP over the last two months is a re-run of Nazi Germany of the 1930s. There is a pattern here in the intimidation and violence wreaked mainly on religious minorities and also low caste Dalits that is hard to ignore.

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STATEMENT IN SUPPORT OF TEESTA SETALVAD, RB SREEKUMAR & OTHER HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS IN INDIA

We the undersigned, concerned citizens of the world, and representing various human rights organizations, condemn the arrest of veteran human rights leader, Teesta Setalvad and other Human Rights Defenders. These are Prisoners of Conscience in India, and all such prisoners must be freed.

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CONDEMNED BY INNUENDO: SOME QUESTIONS ON THE SC ORDER THAT LED TO TEESTA SETALVAD’S ARREST

Madan B. Lokur

Did the Supreme Court intend or suggest that Teesta Setalvad should be arrested? Whatever your answer, the implications are horrendous. The reference is, of course, to the recent judgment in the appeal filed by Zakia Ahsan Jafri.

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FACEBOOK POST IN HINDI ON TEESTA SETALVAD ARREST BY AMIT RAI ON JUNE 26

Teesta Setalvad has been arrested by the Gujarat ATS (Anti-Terrorist Squad). She will be brought to court by the ATS after twenty-four hours. The court will remand Teesta to police custody for ten days. Her lawyers will be frantically filing applications in various courts. They will also make desperate attempts to move the Supreme Court.

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MOHAMMED ZUBAIR’S ARREST IS AN INVERSION OF JUSTICE

Pratap Bhanu Mehta

The arrest of journalist Mohammed Zubair in Delhi is pettiness, vengeance and repression let loose on a society once aspiring to be free. It is also a distillation of the way in which the Narendra Modi government draws energy from a thorough contempt for liberty, decency, constitutional values, and the opinion of the international community.

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SC JUDGMENT ON ZAKIA JAFRI’S PLEA SEEKS TO INVERT THE BINARY OF VICTIM AND DEFENDER

Syeda Hameed

I am an eyewitness to the direct accounts of immense loss of life and horrific atrocities committed 20 years ago in Gujarat. Survivors Speak: How the Gujarat Carnage Affected Muslim Women is the title of the report which appeared two months after the carnage, written by six women, including me.

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FROM ALPA SHAH’S BOOK, NIGHTMARCH: AMONG INDIA’S REVOLUTIONARY GUERRILLAS: SOME QUESTIONS FOR THE WORLD REVOLUTIONARY MOVEMENT

Alpa Shah: Le livre de la jungle insurgée. Plongée dans la guérilla Naxalite en Inde. Préface de Naïké Desquesnes, éditrice, Editions de La dernière lettre, 2022

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UDAIPUR MURDER: THE EXECUTIONER’S STRATEGY

Pratap Bhanu Mehta 

The savage execution of Kanhaiya Lal in Udaipur will deepen the darkest forebodings about India’s future. It is important to name this gruesome act for what it is, without aestheticising it. It was an execution and not a murder. Murders are horrible. But this act was far more sinister. It enacted the logic of execution.

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WHY IS IMRAN KHAN DANGEROUS FOR PAKISTAN’S DEMOCRACY?

Benazir Jatoi

Imran Khan lost the parliamentary Vote of No Confidence (VNC) on 10th April, after almost four years as prime minister. The constitutional right of the opposition to bring this vote is not new to our political system, having been introduced against most sitting prime ministers in the past. Yet this is the only time it has been successful by 174 votes out of 342.

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FIGHTING FOR FAIR: LANDMARK VICTORIES SHOW THE GROWING STRENGTH OF THE MOVEMENT FOR CASTE EQUITY IN THE UNITED STATES

Thenmozhi Soundararajan

I remember my first Zoom call with Prem Pariyar in the summer of 2020. Ruvani Fonseka, one of his professors at California State University, East Bay, had reached out on his behalf to Equality Labs, the Dalit civil-rights organisation that I run, to suggest we work together. Pariyar told his story while his children giggled and played behind him.

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EDITORIAL: DEMONS FROM THE MOGHUL PAST AND BULLDOZERS FROM ITS PRESENT KEEP COUNTRY ON A BOIL: WHY DOES THE GODI (LAPDOG) MEDIA IGNORE THE GHOSTS OF THE BUDDHIST ERA?

Vinod Mubayi and Waheed Mukaddam

The weaponization of the masjid-mandir controversies now erupting all over north India appear to be Hindutva’s strategy to keep the country on a continuous boil until the next round of elections –state or national. The Gyanvapi mosque imbroglio has been quickly followed by the Krishnajanambhoomi-Shahi Idgah rift in Mathura as if following the script of the slogan “Ayodhya toh sirf jhanki hai/Kashi Mathura baaki hai” [Ayodhya is only a trailer; Kashi and Mathura still remain]. that was popularized by the foot soldiers and vandals of Hindutva who demolished the Babri mosque in Ayodhya in 1992.

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INDIA: DELHI MUNDKA FACTORY FIRE STATEMENT BY WORKING PEOPLES’ COALITION

On March 25, 1911, the Triangle Shirtwaist Company factory in New York City burned, killing 146 workers, all of them young women. It is remembered as one of the most infamous incidents in American industrial history, as the deaths were largely preventable–most of the victims died as a result of neglected safety features and locked doors within the factory building.

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A GRIM STATE OF THE NATION REPORT

Namit Arora

India is on a sinister path, much darker than most worried citizens foresaw in 2014. Things have gone downhill rather fast. So what do I see as the near-term outlook (5-7 years) for India? I offer my provisional thoughts. I hope I’m wrong.

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TRIBUTE TO NEHRU VIA SAHIR

Ishtiaq Ahmed

27 may marked the 58th death anniversary of Jawaharlal Nehru (died 1964). As the first elected prime minister of India Nehru proved to be the visionary who consolidated the secular, pluralist ethos of the Freedom Struggle, which is now under threat from Hindu majoritarian nationalism.

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INDIA: ANNUAL GOVERNANCE REVIEW REPORT ‘PROMISES AND REALITY, 2021-22 (YEAR THREE OF THE NDA II)

(Courtesy SACW)

“Promises & Reality 2021-22: Citizens’ Report on the Year Three of the NDA II Government,” is a collective work by eminent members and organisations of the Indian civil society.

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COMMUNAL VIOLENCE IN KODERMA (JHARKHAND)

Irfan Engineer

The Ram Navmi procession passed of peacefully through the road on which Mosque is situated with minor some minor hiccups on 10th April, 2022, however, Muslim shops were attacked on next day morning. The Muslim community remained peaceful and did not do anything, afraid that doing so was in the interest of peace.

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LONG READ: DEADLY FORCE: THE BLOODY RECORD OF THE DELHI POLICE

Prabhjit Singh

TWO YEARS AFTER the Bharatiya Janata Party leader Kapil Mishra gave a threatening speech about protesters in northeastern Delhi, precipitating three days of communal violence, Yati Narsinghanand delivered yet another incendiary speech in the national capital. At a Hindu Mahapanchayat attended by around three hundred people, on 3 April 2022, Narsinghanand, the head of the Dasna Devi temple in Ghaziabad, claimed, “Once a Muslim becomes the prime minister of India, in twenty years, fifty percent of you will change your religion. Forty percent of Hindus will be murdered.”

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A TREE IS FOREVER [FICTION]

Original story in Marathi by Dr. Sukanya Agashe

The red hot ball of the sun started descending the faraway hills and the bus climbed on the concrete road- with a big bang and a jerk.  The drowsy passengers who were fed up with the dust woke up with a start.  They opened their eyes in disgust –‘oh, we are nearing our village’- with this thought the cramped bodies were stretched and relaxed.  The faces were wiped with  handkerchiefs.  The luggage items were checked – tin trunks, bags, loth bags, cloth bundles…..

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The Editors of INSAF extend their greetings to our readers for May Day 2022!

EDITORIAL: UNDER BJP RULE, THE STATE ITSELF HAS BECOME A LYNCH MOB, OPENING THE DOOR TO SOMETHING FAR WORSE

Vinod Mubayi

A new phenomenon is now manifesting itself in jurisdictions under BJP rule. Hitherto, over the last 7 or 8 years since Modi became PM, one had witnessed the rise of private lynch mobs consisting of Hindutva goondas terrorizing minorities (mostly Muslims but, on occasion, Christians and Dalits too), beating them up and sometimes killing them on one flimsy pretext or another. The police would either look the other way or, if the perpetrators happened to be politically connected to the BJP or one of its sister organizations of the Sangh Parivar, they would arrest one or more of the victims, usually a hapless Muslim on some fraudulent charges. Literally hundreds if not thousands of such incidents have occurred in the last 8 years. The top BJP leadership notably Modi either stays silent or utters some meaningless platitudes when pressed by the media.

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SRI LANKA AMID RIVALRY FOR SOUTH ASIAN DOMINANCE

Sivanandam Sivasegaram

Prelude

This article was prompted by a political commentary by RK Radhakrishnan in Frontline, 22.4.2022 reproduced in the INSAF Bulletin, April 2022. The article showed obsession with Chinese influence in Sri Lanka despite what its title (Imploding Island: Sri Lanka on Brink of Ruin) persuaded me to expect. I mainly seek to locate Sri Lanka’s post-independence foreign relations in historical context. [Editor’s Note: We are grateful to Sivanandam Sivasegaram for taking the time to produce this thoughtful piece, an original for the INSAF Bulletin].

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KASHMIR: LOSS, MEMORY AND A SHARED HISTORY

Suvir Kaul

‘Is there something in the shared, yet dissimilar, histories of Kashmiris that might yet contain the hope of a more viable future, with all its challenges and difficulties?’

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HINDUS FOR HUMAN RIGHTS CONDEMNS ANT-MUSLIM VIOLENCE IN INDIA

Dear Friend, Here at Hindus for Human Rights, our primary goal has always been to mobilize Hindus around the shared vision of a progressive, inclusive Hinduism that rejects hate and division, and emphasizes the dignity and human rights of all.

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OPEN LETTER TO THE PRIME MINISTER – CALL FOR END TO POLITICS OF HATE

Dear Prime Minister, We are witnessing a frenzy of hate filled destruction in the country where at the sacrificial altar are not just Muslims and members of the other minority communities but the Constitution itself.

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IMRAN KHAN – ANTI-IMPERIALIST HERO OR AUTHORITARIAN POPULIST?

Tooba Syed

Despite his best attempts and amid unproven allegations of foreign interference, Imran Khan was removed from power by a vote of no confidence in the National Assembly of Pakistan on 11 April.

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A MATTER OF FAITH: HOW A SUPREME COURT JUDGMENT IS ENABLING ATTACKS ON CHRISTIANS

J Robin Christopher and Manavi Atri

Amid protests on 23 December 2021, the Karnataka Protection of Right to Freedom of Religion Bill got a nod from the state’s legislative assembly.

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SUDHEER BEDEKAR OBITUARY –SOME COMMENTS

The April 2022 Insaf Bulletin carried obituaries of Sudheer Bedekar who passed away in late March of this year. We carry below some comments on one of the obituaries by a close comrade of Sudheer-Editors

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EDITORIAL: THE 80-20 COMMUNAL POLARIZATION FORMULA KEEPS PAYING OFF FOR BJP IN UP

Vinod Mubayi

In the run up to the recently concluded elections in UP, several commentators had opined about the possibility of the Samajwadi Party (SP) coalition defeating the BJP. The combination of extreme joblessness, price rise and the problems caused to farmers by stray cattle (awara pashu) due to the strict ban on cow slaughter would, it was felt, lead to a lack of support for the ruling party in the state. In addition, the farmers movement had dented the BJP’s support among the Jats in western UP, an area that had been the site of widespread communal violence earlier and had given rich returns to the BJP in previous elections. However, while the SP did increase its tally of seats in the UP Assembly, more than doubling its previous strength, the BJP, overall, won with a comfortable, albeit reduced, majority.

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LAL SALAAM (RED SALUTE) TO DEPARTED FRIENDS AND COMRADES- SOME PERSONAL REMINISCES OF AIJAZ AHMAD AND SUDHEER BEDEKAR

Vinod Mubayi

It is difficult to write in a public space about close friends who have passed on. Particularly when they happen to be well-known public intellectual figures with whom one shared over many years moments of joy, laughter, debate, and, simply, companionship.

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TEXAS DOCTOR DEMANDS “RETRIBUTION” AFTER KASHMIR FILES FILM

Pieter Friedrich

“Retribution,” declared Rajiv Pandit, a doctor based in Dallas, TX, in response to a call to “pay… back 100 fold, in their own coin,” those allegedly responsible for the 1990 Kashmir Pandit Exodus portrayed in the recent film, “Kashmir Files.”

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HINDU SYMBOLISM SURROUNDING ADITYANATH’S SWEARING-IN SIGNALS A NEW RASHTRA

Sunil Kashyap

Ajay Singh Bisht, is popularly known as Yogi Adityanath, took oath as the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh today, at the Bharat Ratna Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee Ekana Cricket Stadium in Lucknow. In the run-up to the ceremony, office bearers of the BJP, on written instructions from the party, organised pujas at temples across the state. The incumbent chief minister reportedly invited over fifty priests and seers personally, including prominent members of the Ram Janmabhoomi trust, which is overseeing the construction of the temple in Ayodhya, as well as priests from Varanasi, Mathura and Vrindavan.

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GRADED INVISIBILITY: THE PLIGHT OF SOUTHASIAN WOMEN MIGRANT WORKERS IN THE ARAB GULF

Namrata Raju

In Wayétu Moore’s fictional novel, She Would Be King (2018), the author reimagines the birth of Liberia as a homeland for free slaves through a sophisticated marriage of history and magical realism. The book describes a woman named Charlotte, a slave on a Virginia plantation, who died without realising her predicament, and experienced what it was like to be completely invisibilised by society.

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IMPLODING ISLAND: SRI LANKA ON BRINK OF RUIN

R.K. Radhakrishnan

Rank mismanagement is driving Sri Lanka to ruin. President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s irrational policies coupled with serious economic problems have impoverished the nation, which is also reaping the fruits of playing India against China for a decade.

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DEFECTION OF KEY ALLY GIVES OPPOSITION THE VOTES TO OUST IMRAN KHAN

Salman Masood and Christina Goldbaum

Days away from a no-confidence vote in Parliament, Prime Minister Imran Khan of Pakistan is facing mounting pressure after a key ally in his political coalition joined the opposition on Wednesday, giving his opponents the votes required to remove him from office.

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IN THE FACE OF ORCHESTRATED HATRED, SILENCE IS NOT AN OPTION – AN APPEAL TO INDIA’S CONSTITUTIONAL INSTITUTIONS

Published in South Asia Citizens Wire SACW 03-27-2022

In the wake of alarming developments in India, senior journalists and media persons from all over India, have issued this Collective Appeal to all Constitutional Institutions in India. We request you to give it the widest possible coverage on media and social media platforms.

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FRIENDS AND COLLEAGUES REMEMBER PIERRE BEAUDET (1950-2022)

Judy Rebick

“Pierre was a great leader, an extraordinary thinker and had a big heart. The world will miss Pierre greatly.”

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EDITORIAL 1: REJECT BOTH PUTIN AND NATO

Vinod Mubayi

It may appear quixotic to denounce both Putin’s outrageous invasion of Ukraine as well as the past three decades of NATO creep that has apparently precipitated this disaster. But a moment of sober reflection should reveal that if a necessary but only one-sided condemnation of, say, the Russian action is made, without considering what NATO and the US have done over the last few decades, the crisis is likely to repeat in some new form sooner or later.

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EDITORIAL 2: THE HIJAB BAN: MORE STIRRING OF THE COMMUNAL CAULDRON

Vinod Mubayi

Karnataka, where the hijab ban controversy has erupted, is a state ruled by the BJP. Pre-university colleges in the coastal areas of Karnataka, where Hindutva groups are gaining prominence, stopped young Muslim girls wearing hijab from entering the classroom. The girls and their parents protested and the Hindutva right-wing constantly on the lookout for such conflicts urged its supporters among the youth to wear saffron colored shawls and other “Hindu” symbols in response; the controversy soon reached the Karnataka High Court which imposed an interim ban on any outward religious dress inside the classroom while it considers the issue.

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REVIEW: WHERE IS INDIA HEADED? AND WHERE LIES THE INSPIRATION FOR CHANGE?

Atul Sood

Book: Where is India Headed? An Historical Critique, Dr Vinod Mubayi, Media Society and Sahithya Pravarthaka, 2021.

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UNFAIR SHARE: INDIA IS IN DEEP DENIAL ABOUT INEQUALITY

Reetika Khera

In 2019, I spotted an infographic on Twitter that ranked a handful of countries by the number of weeks of paid maternity leave they mandated. It sought to make a case for paid maternity leave in the United States—where, according to the infographic, there was none. India occupied second spot, with 26 weeks, just behind the United Kingdom.

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THE CONGRESS MUST TRANSFORM TO REBUILD THE OPPOSITION

Supriy Ranjan and Pankaj Kumar

That the fate and future of the Indian National Congress seem bleak is beyond doubt. Successive electoral defeats, coupled with the exits of multiple notable leaders, has put the Congress in an existential crisis.

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RETHINKING SRI LANKA’S ECONOMIC CRISIS

Over the past several months, stories about Sri Lanka’s deepening economic crisis were prominent in regional and global media. Yet much of the coverage converges on the symptoms of the crisis, from the country’s large foreign-debt burden, depletion of foreign exchange reserves to challenges in meeting its energy needs.

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DEAD LINES: HOW JOURNALISM IN KASHMIR HAS BEEN DRIVEN TO THE EDGE

Shahid Tantray

The front door of the Kashmir Press Club, which was locked and sealed on 17 January. During its short four-year tenure, the club was a rare island of calm for journalists to work in—particularly those writing for foreign publications.

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EDITORIAL: MODI’S SILENCE ON GENOCIDE THREATS SPEAKS AS LOUDLY AS HIS VOLUBLE DISTORTIONS OF HISTORY

Vinod Mubayi

The open threats of genocide of Muslims made by assorted Hindutva “priests” at the so-called Dharam Sansad in Haridwar in December 2021 have attracted international attention and condemnation. Yet, Prime Minister Modi has not uttered a word in response to public statements made at the gathering that urged Hindu youth to acquire weapons to kill millions of Muslims. Home Minister Amit Shah who heads the police all over the country has not said anything either. Their silence on this issue is quite in character for these functionaries who currently lead (or mislead) India. After all, they remained silent many times in the last several years when minority Muslims and, in some cases, Dalits were lynched by mobs of ruffians and goondas owing allegiance to Hindutva. Modi remains the Indian politician who likened the brutal killing of over a thousand Muslims in 2002 by violent Hindutva mobs in his home state of Gujarat, where he was then chief minister, to a puppy caught under the wheels of a car and who has never uttered a word of regret for the mass killing of innocent women, children and men.

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“WHERE IS INDIA HEADED?” A BOOK BY VINOD MUBAYI

  

Dolores Chew

A book event with author Vinod Mubayi was held on 18th December 2021. Log on to hear:  http://cdn.iiit.ac.in/cdn/swayam.iiit.ac.in/videozaar/uploads/join-all-3parts-video_1641202850.mp4

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HOW THE TAXI WORKERS WON

Molly Crabapple, The Nation

On September 19, a group of cab drivers organized by the New York Taxi Workers Alliance rolled up to the corner of Broadway and Murray Street in downtown Manhattan, parked next to City Hall, and declared they would not leave until the city fixed the crushing debt that had driven many of their fellow drivers to suicide. They held a press conference, hung an SOS banner from the nearby Beaux-Arts subway entrance, set up some folding chairs, and sat down to wait.

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POOR COUNTRY WITH AFFLUENT ELITE, INDIA IS GOING NOWHERE

Jayati Ghosh, The Wire, Jan. 22, 2022

The Paris-based World Inequality Lab has become a major source of data on global inequality, based on careful aggregation of national data from a multitude of sources, of both income and wealth inequality, at national, regional and global levels. Their latest World Inequality Report 2022 is an eye-opener, even for those who know that economic inequality has increased massively in recent years. It shows that globally, inequality is now as great as it was at the pinnacle of Western imperialism in the early 20th century. The process began nearly four decades ago, but worsened during the pandemic, which sharply exposed and amplified existing inequalities.

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SCANDALISING THE SUPPLY CHAIN: LOOKING BACK AT 40 YEARS OF BANGLADESH’S GARMENT INDUSTRY

Dina M Siddiqi 

At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, the women and men labouring in Bangladesh’s garment factories – at least those still in operation – faced a stark choice: starve to death by sheltering in place or risk dying from the virus by returning to the shop floor. This compulsion to work that comes at the risk of exposure to death was not exceptional by any means.

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LONG READ: PRIEST OF VIOLENCE: ADITYANATH’S REIGN OF TERROR

Dhirendra K Jha

PARVEZ PARVAZ, a journalist and social activist, was passing by the Gorakhpur railway station when he noticed a big gathering near the statue of Maharana Pratap. It was the evening of 27 January 2007, and dusk had just fallen. The Bharatiya Janata Party’s Gorakhpur MP, Adityanath, dressed in saffron robes, was delivering an incendiary speech to rousing cheers. Parvaz was aware of tensions pervading the city because of a clash during a recent Muharram procession, in which a Hindu boy was injured and later died. “Seeing the charged atmosphere, I safely ensconced myself within the crowd,” he told me. The crowd was made up primarily of members of the Hindu Yuva Vahini, a youth militia Adityanath had founded five years earlier. Inconspicuous within the large gathering, Parvaz began to record the speech with a handheld camera he always carried with him.

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INSAF Bulletin wishes all its readers a safe, healthy and happy New Year 2022!

EDITORIAL: CENTRE-LEFT MUST UNITE TO DEFEAT THE CULT OF PERSONALITY DESTROYING INDIA

Vinod Mubayi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s recent “performance” in Varanasi where he changed costumes four times in the course of a day in several locations in the city while performing Hindu religious rituals, from immersing himself in the Ganges River to praying in the refurbished Vishwanath temple, on national TV channels shows the outrageousness of the cult of personality engulfing the country. Billboards at bus stops and train stations and all manner of government issued documents including Covid vaccination cards, are bedecked with the image of the Supreme Leader accompanied, on occasion, by his faithful attendant Amit Shah. The assiduous promotion of this personality cult, much of it with hundreds if not thousands of crores of public money, has, in addition to its easily mocked cartoonish aspects, a more frightening and dangerous side.

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HINDUTVA LEADERS AT HARIDWAR EVENT CALL FOR MUSLIM GENOCIDE

The Wire

Between December 17 and 19, a large collection of major religious leaders, right-wing activists, hardline fundamentalist militants and Hindutva organisations came together at Haridwar for an event called the ‘Dharma Sansad’ or ‘Religious Parliament’. Over the course of three days, this event witnessed an extraordinary outpouring of hate speech, mobilisations to violence and anti-Muslim sentiment.

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MEMORANDUM

Ram Puniyani

From December 17 to 19, the ‘Dharma Sansad’ or ‘Religious Parliament’ was organized in Haridwar wherein several religious leaders and those associated with Hindutva extremist organisations gave an open call for Hindus to arm themselves and eliminate Muslims from the country. Sadhvi Annapurna, general secretary of Hindu Mahasabha gave a direct call for the mass murder of Muslims. She said, we need 100 soldiers who can kill 20 lakh of them (Muslims). She added ‘Matr shakti ke sher se panje hain. Phaad kar rakh denge’.

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INDIAN FARMERS PREVAIL: A CONVERSATION WITH KAVITHA KURUGANTI, A FARMERS’ RIGHTS ACTIVIST

Pallav Das

“Repeal the evil laws,” demands the placard in the picture above. A determined yearlong opposition by a popular farmers’ movement to three agricultural laws ultimately did force their repeal in the Indian parliament earlier this month. I recently spoke with Kavitha Kuruganti of the Samyukt Kisan Morcha (Farmers’ Joint Action Committee), a longtime activist working on farmers’ rights and sustainable farm livelihoods.  

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DEAR PM MODI, AURANGZEB RULE WAS ALSO THE RULE OF HINDU HIGH CASTES!

Shamsul Islam

Narendra Modi, a senior swayamsevak (member) of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, long back in 2013 when he occupied the office of chief minister of Gujarat, declared himself to be a ‘Hindu nationalist’.

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THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING MR JINNAH

Ayesha Jalal

IN one of the more unforgettable contemporary recollections of Mohammad Ali Jinnah, Beverely Nichols in Verdict on India described the lanky and stylishly dressed barrister as the “most important man in Asia”. Looking every bit like a gentleman of Spain, of the old diplomatic school, the monocle-wearing leader of the All-India Muslim League held a pivotal place in India’s future.

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LONG READ: PAPER PRIESTS: THE BATTLE FOR THE SOUL OF THE HINDU

Aathira Konikkara and Nileema MS

{ONE}

“SUNDAY WAS A DARK DAY for India,” The Hindu’s editorial read on 7 December 1992. “The Hindu shares the nation’s sense of deep anguish at this painful moment.”

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EDITORIAL: MODI BLINKS, VOWS REPEAL OF BLACK LAWS; FARMERS STAND FIRM, WANT ALL DEMANDS MET

Vinod Mubayi

After an entire year of demonizing, disparaging and denigrating the year-long farmers’ struggle, the largest non-violent mass movement in world history, Modi finally blinked on November 19 and announced the government would repeal the three ‘black’ pro-corporate farm laws in the forthcoming winter session of the Indian Parliament. It is useful to recall that these laws were passed by Parliament without any consultation or debate in September last year.

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AFTER REPEALING FARM LAWS, GOVT SHOULD PLAN REFORMS WHICH ACTUALLY BENEFIT FARMERS

Balsher Singh Sidhu, The Wire

On the morning of Friday, November 19, Prime Minister Modi made a surprise announcement about his government’s decision to repeal the three controversial farm laws which have been at the heart of the biggest protest India has witnessed in many decades.

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FARMERS WIN ON MANY FRONTS, MEDIA FAILS ON ALL

P. Sainath, Peoples Archive of Rural India, Nov 20, 2021

What the media can never openly admit is that the largest peaceful democratic protest the world has seen in years – certainly the greatest organised at the height of the pandemic – has won a mighty victory.

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AFTER VICTORY, THE FARMERS MUST NOT LOSE SIGHT OF THE BIG PICTURE

Avinash Mohananey, The India Cable Nov 26, 2021

Credit should be given to the agitating farmers for taking the bull of neoliberal policy by the horns and blunting its debilitating impact. They have also unmasked the backers of big corporates in the political leadership, bureaucracy and media, not to speak of the agricultural “experts” and “economists”, of dubious competence and credentials, who support corporate agendas.

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CONSTITUTION DAY: WHAT NINE PENDING CASES SAY ABOUT THE RIGHTS INDIA’S CITIZENS ENJOY

Jahnavi Sen, The Wire

New Delhi: Seventy-two years ago on this day, the Constituent Assembly adopted the Constitution of India. Two months after that, on January 26, 1950, the country’s Constitution came into effect. But how has the implementation of our constitutional rights and safeguards been going?

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SLAM CAMPAIGNS, WATER CANNON, LATHICHARGE AND OTHER ELEMENTS OF PM MODI’S ‘TAPASYA’

Ismat Ara, The Wire

New Delhi: While announcing the repeal of the three contested farm laws, Prime Minister Narendra Modi made no attempt to hide his emotions. In his characteristic style, he spoke about his tapasya to improve the lives of farmers but regretted how, despite all his efforts to convince them of the benefits of the laws, he could not get “a few farmers” on board. 

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FRONTIER FANTASIES: ENCOUNTERS WITH XINJIANG IN GILGIT-BALTISTAN

Rana Saadullah Khan

The Karakoram Highway, completed in 1979, expanded China’s trade opportunities in Pakistan and made the remote Gilgit-Baltistan region more penetrable for the Pakistani state and military.

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NAPM APPEAL:APPEAL TO JOIN PHASE-III OF THE JAN AZADI 75 CAMPAIGN

25th Nov to 10th Dec, 2021

Dear Saathis,

We join the nation in saluting the farmers’ movement, which has brought the Central Government to its knees, forcing it to retreat on the three Farm Laws, with the Prime Minister assuring a repeal in the Parliament soon.

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SWEAR NOT BY THE MOON: THE CONTENTIOUS POLITICS OF LUNAR SIGHTING IN PAKISTAN

Shehroze Ahmed Shaikh

It is nearing sunset in Karachi on the hot and humid evening of Wednesday, 12 May 2021. The weather, however, has nothing to do with the residents of the city’s Gulistan-e-Jouhar neighbourhood congregating on their roofs and balconies. It is not fresh air they are looking for with their eyes peering towards the horizon, but the sleek crescent of the Shawwal moon (the new moon). The city’s polluted air, however, denies them a chance at seeing either of them.

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EDITORIAL: FARMERS’ MOVEMENT INAUGURATES A TRADITION OF DEMOCRATIC FUNCTIONING AGAINST THE CENTRALIZED FASCISM OF MODI’S REGIME

Vinod Mubayi

A lot of praise has been bestowed on the farmers’ struggle against the black farm laws for its historic achievement of being the longest, most sustained non-violent mass civil disobedience movement in history far surpassing in duration, mobilization and intensity earlier historic movements such as Gandhi’s Dandi salt march almost a century ago. What has been less noticed or commented on but is now becoming more evident is the striking contrast between the nature and character of how the farmers’ movement functions in all aspects compared to the way the Indian government operates under the Modi-Shah duo.

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CHRISTIAN MINORITIES AND INDIAN DEMOCRACY!

Ram Puniyani

As sectarian nationalism is becoming more assertive and strong, the religious minorities are being subjected to intimidation and violence on regular basis. As such there is an increase the frequency of this phenomenon during last decade in an alarming way.

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RETALIATION FOR BANGLADESH VIOLENCE IN TRIPURA: CONDEMNATION AND LESSON FOR CITIZENS – STATEMENT BY CONCERNED CITIZENS

It is with great concern and anguish we note that mosques and members of the Muslim community and their houses were attacked in different areas in Tripura. This is said to be retaliation for the unfortunate attacks on the Puja Pandals and on members of Hindu Community in Bangladesh during the recent Durga Puja festival.

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INDIA HAS A SERIOUS HUNGER PROBLEM AND IT NEEDS URGENT POLICY INTERVENTION

Utsav Kumar Singh

According to a 2015 World Bank report, malnutrition in India is two to seven times higher than other BRICS member countries. The same result was indicated in the 2021 report of Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations. Further adding that with the current rate of decline, India will not be able t0 achieve the target of ‘zero hunger by 2030’ given by the United Nations.

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REMEMBERING A SOUTHASIAN FEMINIST: ON THE LIFE AND TIMES OF KAMLA BHASIN

Radhika Coomaraswamy

Kamla Bhasin always called herself one of India’s ‘Midnight Generation’, a reference to those born at the time of India’s Independence. Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru’s invocation of freedom at midnight later found its way into Salman Rushdie’s award-winning novel Midnight’s Children.

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MUSLIM IS A DIRTY WORD

Alina Gufran

When the violence first breaks out, I see it in the videos. Blood-curdling screams, tweets about charred bodies floating up with the muck in naalas or sewage channels, women hiding behind doorframes in balconies while they attempt to film the carnage, quietly whispering “la ilaha illallah” (there is no God but God) under their breath.

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GENDER EQUITY AND COVID-19: DALIT STANDPOINTS

Smita M Patil

This paper attempts to understand the larger meanings that interlink social spaces of Dalits women and COVID-19. It tries to foreground the following questions.

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IN INDIA, FACEBOOK GRAPPLES WITH AN AMPLIFIED VERSION OF ITS PROBLEMS

Sheera Frenkel and Davey Alba

On Feb. 4, 2019, a Facebook researcher created a new user account to see what it was like to experience the social media site as a person living in Kerala, India.

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GANDHI AND SAVARKAR: FALSIFYING HISTORY

Mridula Mukherjee, Aditya Mukherjee and Sucheta Mahajan

THE Indian Express, October 13, 2021, tells us that Rajnath Singh, the Indian defence minister, has claimed that “A lot of falsehood was spread against Savarkar. It was repeatedly said that he filed multiple mercy petitions before the British government.

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EDITORIAL: FARMERS MOVEMENT GETTING STRONGER; WORKERS, UNIONS, PROGRESSIVE GROUPS INTENSIFY SUPPORT

Vinod Mubayi

The Mahapanchayat on Sept 5 in Muzaffarnagar, UP, and the Bharat Bandh of September 27 have given decisive proof of the strength, cohesion and staying power of the farmers movement and their determination to overturn the black laws passed in stealthy and undemocratic fashion by the Modi regime a year ago. The farmers’ movement is already the longest and largest non-violent protest movement in history; over 700 farmers have perished in the last 10 months fighting for their rights while the Modi regime, in thrall to the corporate lobby, refuses to even talk to the farmers let alone meet their just demands.

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WHERE IS INDIA HEADED? A HISTORICAL CRITIQUE BY DR. VINOD MUBAYI

The INSAF Collective is proud to present a book published by our own beloved editor!

The mainstream media in India is the biggest fan club of the current Hindutva regime in India and the regime provides them with many Bollywood style shows ranging from the “Howdy Modi” nautanki in Texas, USA in September 2019 to “Namaste Trump” tamasha in Gujarat, India in February 2020. All the road shows, in India or abroad, are designed in a way that Modi the ‘tamashagar (performer) becomes the tamasha (performance) himself.

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MODI’S MONETIZATION MANTRA IS A BLOW WORSE THAN DEMONETIZATION

Dipankar Bhattacharya

The Modi government is known for its penchant for springing periodic shocks and desperate measures. In economics we have been familiar with the demonetization disaster and GST, in politics with the sudden stripping of Jammu and Kashmir of its constitutional status and statehood or the passage of the Citizenship Amendment Act or more recently the farms laws. The latest shock inflicted by the government has a strange name – National Monetization Pipeline or NMP. True to the Modi government’s habit of bypassing parliament and not holding any prior public discussion with concerned stakeholders, the government announced this sweeping grand plan on 23 August, soon after the monsoon session of Parliament.

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HINDU MOBS, ANTI-MUSLIM BOYCOTTS: IN MODI’S INDIA, THE ECHOES OF 1930S GERMANY ARE GROWING LOUDER

Debasish Roy Chowdhury

Taking part in the nine-member Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit just over a week ago, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi voiced a familiar concern in the region following the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan: the heightened risk of Islamist fundamentalism.

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SAMYUKTA KISAN MORCHA PRESS RELEASE

283rd day, 5th September 2021

Historic Kisan Mazdoor Mahapanchayat held at GIC ground in Muzaffarnagar — The entire Muzaffarnagar city turned into a rally ground — A sea of people gathered across the city — Over 10 lakh farmers from across the nation came together in a show of solidarity and strength — Huge enthusiasm among the supporters to carry the movement further.

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TRIBUTE TO KAMALA BHASIN

Kavita Nandini Ramdas

Editors’ Note: The Wikipedia entry on Kamla Bhasin, who passed away on September 25, begins thus: Kamla Bhasin (24 April 1946 – 25 September 2021) was an Indian developmental feminist activist, poet, author and social scientist. Bhasin’s work, that began in 1970, focused on gender, education, human development and the media. She lived in New Delhi, India.She was best known for her work with Sangat – A Feminist Network and for her poem Kyunki main ladki hoon, mujhe padhna hai. In 1995, she recited a refurbished, feminist version of the popular poem Azadi (Freedom) in a conference. She was also the South Asia coordinator of One Billion Rising.

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MIND MIGRATION: ASSAM’S EASY TRANSITION FROM ETHNONATIONALISM TO HINDUTVA

Praveen Donthi

[Editors’ Note: The deadly eviction drive by Indian police forces in Assam on September 24, 2021 left 1300 families displaced, and led to the heinous public execution of an Indian citizen Moinul Haque, which was captured on video. In this prescient article from the May 2021 issue of the Caravan magazine, Praveen Donthi chronicles perhaps a genocide foretold.]

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IS A LEFT-WING NATIONALISM POSSIBLE IN BANGLADESH?

Mushahid Hussain

Commemorating victims in lieu of remembering revolutionaries, seeking retribution and reconciliation rather than redistribution, writing histories of wars and genocides rather than mass struggles – such projects have become dominant in organizing the historical memory of the political left.

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INSAF Bulletin conveys its heartfelt condolences to Com Bharat Patankar and Prachi Patankar on the passing of Gail Omvedt whose scholarship and activism greatly enriched our understanding of Dalit-Bahujan and gender issues in India.

EDITORIAL-HYPOCRISY AND LIES: THE CHIEF ATTRIBUTES OF THE MODI REGIME

Vinod Mubayi

The image of Narendra Modi on the ramparts of the Lal Qila, the most visible symbol of the power of the Mughal rulers of India whose reign along with that of other Muslim kings is dubbed by the Sangh Parivar as a “thousand years of slavery”, is a bizarre hypocrisy in itself. Does Modi willfully forget on August 15 each year what he and his herd keep bleating about the rest of the year so that he can strut on the ramparts of emperor Shahjehan’s iconic structure?

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WANTING UTOPIA: GAIL OMVEDT’S JOURNEY

V Geetha

[In Maharashtra in the early 1970s, Bharat Patankar and I along with many other young people were comrades in the Magowa Mandal, a left progressive formation active in struggles of peasants, toilers and students. Gail Omvedt had come to Maharashtra to carry out her pioneering doctoral work on Mahatma Phule and the anti-caste struggles of the 19th century.

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COMRADE – 1978 POEM BY PRABHAKAR GANGURDE ASTITVA: TRANSLATED BY GAIL OMVEDT AND BHARAT PATANKAR

Don’t expect revolution from those living corpses,

comrade.

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INDIAN MUSLIMS MUST REJECT THE ˜ISLAMIC EMIRATE IN AFGHANISTAN: IMSD

Indian Muslims for Secular Democracy (IMSD) rejects the very idea of a theocratic state anywhere in the world. It therefore questions the legitimacy of the Islamic Emirate the Taliban seek to impose on the war-torn, war-weary people of Afghanistan who are yearning for peace.

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PEGASUS AND THE BOGEY OF NATIONAL SECURITY

Siddharth Varadarajan

During arguments in the Supreme Court earlier this week, solicitor general Tushar Mehta said that the government cannot be made to answer whether or not it uses Pegasus spyware, for this would alert terrorists and compromise national security.

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GURUJI’S LIE: THE RSS AND MS GOLWALKAR’S UNDENIABLE LINKS TO NAZISM

Dhirendra K Jha

It has remained a long-standing puzzle whether the controversial book We or Our Nationhood Defined was authored by MS Golwalkar or was just his translation of a Marathi book written by Ganesh Damodar Savarkar, the elder brother of the famous Hindutva ideologue Vinayak Damodar Savarkar.

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WILL THE VOICES OF THOSE WHO WERE ALWAYS RIGHT ON AFGHANISTAN STILL BE IGNORED?

Medea Benjamin & Nicolas J.S. Davies

America’s corporate media are ringing with recriminations over the humiliating U.S. military defeat in Afghanistan. But very little of the criticism goes to the root of the problem, which was the original decision to militarily invade and occupy Afghanistan in the first place.

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JUSTICE FOR FATHER STAN: ORGANIZATIONS IN TORONTO DEMAND ACCOUNTABILITY FROM THE INDIAN STATE

Divyani Motla

Toronto’s Indian diaspora recently protested against the custodial murder of Father Stan Swamy and demanded an immediate release of all political prisoners.

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NATIONAL CONVENTION OF SANYUKT KISAN MORCHA

Here are the resolutions passed at the National Convention of Sanyukt Kisan Morcha, held at Singhu Border Stage on 26 and 27 August, 2021:

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EDITORIAL: EVERY INSTITUTION OF THE INDIAN STATE IS COMPLICIT IN THE JUDICIAL MURDER OF FATHER STAN SWAMY – PEGASUS GATE CONFIRMS STATE’S CRIMINALITY

Vinod Mubayi

The heartbreaking details of the arrest, hounding in custody and eventual death of Father Stan Swamy who had spent most of his life fighting for the rights of the poorest and most marginalized sections of Indian society -the tribals and Adivasis of mineral-rich Jharkhand- have been extensively reported in the media. The lawless and criminal behavior of various agencies of the Indian police: the Pune police, the Maharashtra police, and the National Investigation Agency (NIA), who arrested Father Swamy on what have now emerged as utterly false and fabricated charges was matched by the callous and disgusting actions of the Taloja prison staff who denied an 84-year-old man with advanced Parkinson’s disease a sipper-straw to enable him to drink water. This behavior of the police is perhaps to be expected—their chief at the level of the Central government, the Union home minister, is a man who was in jail himself on charges of murder a few years ago and was acquitted only after Modi became the Prime Minister under circumstances that could be described in polite language as highly dubious.

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INDIAN ACTIVISTS JAILED ON TERRORISM CHARGES WERE ON LIST WITH SURVEILLANCE TARGETS

Joanna Slater and Niha Masih, Washington Post

When the Indian authorities began arresting lawyers and human rights activists in 2018, Sudha Bharadwaj did what she had done for more than three decades wherever she saw injustice. She organized. She spoke out. She asked courts to uphold the law.

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AFTER PEGASUS AND ARSENAL REPORTS, CAN BHIMA KOREGAON CASE STILL STAND?

Anand Venkatanarayanan,  The Quint, 21 Jul 2021.

In the light of Pegasus leaks, suggesting that Indian government used a spyware to snoop on politicians, constitutional appointees, journalists, and activists, the Bhima Koregaon case deserves fresh and sharp attention.

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FOR UAPA, STATE MUST PAY: IT’S TIME VICTIMS OF UAPA DEMANDED RESTITUTION, JUSTICE

Chander Uday Singh, Indian Express, July 14, 2021

On March 6, 2021, 127 Indian Muslims charged with “terror” for attending a seminar at Surat were acquitted as there was no “cogent, reliable and satisfactory evidence” to show that they were members of a banned outfit.

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DARKNESS AT NOON: STAN SWAMY’S DEATH IS TESTIMONY TO THE JUDICIARY’S DECLINE

A P Shah, The Wire, 8 JULY, 2021

It has been 81 years since Arthur Koestler’s Darkness at Noon was first published. The novel is set in the backdrop of the Great Purge of the late 1930s in the Soviet Union under Stalin. This period was marked by, among other things, political repression, police surveillance, general suspicion of the opposition, imprisonment, and executions.

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PRESS RELEASE OF TODAY’S NATIONWIDE PROTEST BY TRADE UNIONS, FEDERATIONS/ASSOCIATIONS

INTUC, AITUC, HMS, CITU, AIUTUC, TUCC, SEWA, AICCTU, LPF, UTUC and Independent Sectoral Federations/Associations, 23rd July 2021

Lakhs of Workers on the call of Joint Platform of CTUs, Federations and Associations Observed Countrywide Protest Day on 23rd July Against Draconian Essential Defence Services Ordinance and the Rampant Drive of Privatisation of Defence Production Sector.

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FROM THE ARCHIVES: LOSING A HOME IN COLOMBO AND LAHORE

Asha L Abeyasekera, Ammara Maqsood, Iromi Perera, Fizzah Sajjad Feb 03, 2020

The Orange Line Metro Train Project – a 27-kilometre rapid transport line running through the heart of Lahore, being built at an estimated cost of USD 1.6 billion – is still to be completed. As one of eight mass transit lines proposed for the rapidly expanding city of over 11 million people, the project aims to improve public transport provision in the city, particularly as the existing network frequently suffers from overcrowding, delays and breakdowns.

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HERE’S HOW ISRAEL IS HELPING MODI UNDERMINE INDIA’S DEMOCRACY

Swati Chaturvedi

India loves to describe herself as the world’s largest democracy, and Israel as the only democracy in the Middle East. Yet opaque officials and executives in both countries have come together in a dark dance against democracy.

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INDIA’S WATERGATE MOMENT

Sushant Singh

“Congratulations!” That was the most common message of support I received from friends and well-wishers after the July 18 news that my name was featured in a list of journalists whose cellphones had been targeted by the Israeli military-grade spyware Pegasus. I had known since June that I was on the list. My friend and colleague Siddharth Varadarajan, co-founder of India’s independent news portal The Wire—one of the 17 global media partners of this worldwide investigation—was somber when he first informed me. After I agreed to cooperate with the investigation, my device was checked by Amnesty International in early July. They found that my cellphone had been infiltrated by Pegasus as recently as a couple of days earlier.

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EDITORIAL: IS PROTEST TERRORISM? MODI REGIME THINKS IT IS BUT DELHI HC DISAGREES

Vinod Mubayi

India, which boasts of being the “world’s largest democracy”, has a peculiar legal system for addressing protest or dissent against the regime in power. Despite a liberal secular constitution that guarantees freedom of speech and assembly, in practice people can, have been, and are being arrested for criticizing public officials or their policies under laws dating back to the colonial era such as the law on sedition.

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FIVE QUESTIONS ON THE SHAMEFUL PROCEEDINGS AGAINST NATASHA NARWAL, DEVANGANA KALITA, ASIF IQBAL

Madan B. Lokur

Appalling. That’s the only way to describe the manner in which the proceedings against Devangana Kalita, Natasha Narwal and Asif Iqbal Tanha have been conducted and are being conducted by the police and prosecution till now.

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KASHMIR MEET AFTER TWO YEARS OF RUIN: A RECKONING OR A NEW TACK?

Muzamil Jaleel

Is New Delhi’s outreach to pro-India parties a tactical step to normalise the devastating changes introduced in J&K since August 5, 2019? Has the Sangh Parivar’s Kashmir project run up against a roadblock or has it been compelled by international players to change course?

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CULPABLE CARNAGE: HOW THE MODI GOVERNMENT’S FAILURE TO ACT LED TO INDIA’S COVID-19 CATASTROPHE

Chahat Rana

ON THE MORNING OF 17 APRIL, amidst a chorus of loud cheers, Narendra Modi walked across a stage to stand at a podium, all set to address an election rally in the city of Asansol, in West Bengal. As the prime minister found his place at the podium, he promptly removed his snugly-fit white mask, rubbed his face and stroked his flowing white beard. For a few seconds, Modi took in the cheering crowd through impassive eyes, before raising his hands in a namaskar above his head. The rally had begun.

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NARRATIVES OF SACRIFICE IN THE PAK ARMY

Asma Faiz

[A review of the book Dying to Serve: Militarism, Affect and the Politics of Sacrifice in the Pakistan Army by Maria Rashid, Stanford University Press, USA].

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THE ‘HINDUTVA ECOSYSTEM’ HAS A NEW ANTI-MUSLIM NARRATIVE. THIS TIME STREET VENDORS ARE THE TARGET

Alishan Jafri

After floating “land jihad”, “love jihad”, “corona jihad” and “civil services jihad”, a new kind of ‘conspiracy’ called “redi jihad” (street vendor jihad) has been ‘unearthed’ by Hindutva activists intent on targeting Muslims in the national capital and elsewhere.

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THE KISAN COMMUNE IN INDIA

Vijay Prashad

On 26 June 2021, tens of thousands of Indian farmers will gather in front of the government offices in India’s twenty-eight states. They will come to commemorate the completion of seven months of their nation-wide protest against the extreme right Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

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EDITORIAL: THE ARROGANCE OF ISRAELI SETTLER-COLONIALISM THAT MODI WANTS TO COPY SEEN IN THE LIGHT OF GANDHI’S VIEWS ON PALESTINE

Vinod Mubayi

Nothing demonstrates the arrogance of Zionist settler colonialism more than the periodic extermination every few years of hundreds of Palestinians in Gaza by Israeli bombs and missiles. Leading Israeli politicians and military leaders are fond of describing this brutal violence as “mowing the lawn” as if the Palestinian people are nothing more than noxious weeds that need to be cut every so often. “Mowing the lawn” is a nakedly political act meant to repress and suppress if not exterminate the non-Jewish population of the territories like Gaza or the West Bank that are under de facto Israeli control.

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COVID’S BITTER PILL: INDIA’S GDP CONTRACTS 7.3% IN FY’21

The Wire Staff

New Delhi: India’s economy contracted by 7.3% for the fiscal year 2021 (FY’21), according to new government data released on Monday evening, in what is the latest sign of the economic toll that the coronavirus pandemic and subsequent lockdowns have taken.

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A TALE OF TWO SOUTH ASIAN AMERICAS

Sharmin Hossain

An exploration of the Bangladeshi American activism scene provides a glimpse into how the South Asian American political landscape continues to expand and change.

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TARUN TEJPAL VERDICT: EVIDENCE OF HOW LITTLE THE JUDICIARY HAS LEARNT

Brinda Karat

[Contextual note by editors: A court in India acquitted a prominent journalist of charges that he raped a junior colleague, bringing an end to a politically charged case that had been closely watched as a test of a new sexual assault law.]

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PAKISTAN’S PRIVATE VACCINE SALES HIGHLIGHT RICH-POOR DIVIDE

Salman Masood

An inoculation push, plagued with limited supplies and red tape, makes doses available to those who can pay for them. In a country with a struggling economy, most can’t.

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THE BELLY OF THE BEAST: INSIDE INDIA’S HINDU CATTLE-SMUGGLING NETWORKS

Ajay Prakash

Police officers are usually happy to be interviewed about successful operations. They might narrate the details with great flair, while juniors who are around may chip in now and then with additional bits of information.

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THE GHOSTS OF HARLEM PAST: THE HISTORY OF SOUTHASIANS IN AMERICA IS RICHER THAN THE DISCOURSE SUGGESTS

Krishnendu Ray

(Review From the Archives: Bengali Harlem and the Lost Histories of South Asian America by Vivek Bald. Harvard University Press, 2015)

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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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EDITORIAL: INDIA’S FARMERS VS. MODI REGIME: AN ANALYTICAL REVIEW OF THE ISSUES

Vinod Mubayi

As this issue of Insaf Bulletin is being published, millions of India’s farmers will have spent more than four months protesting continuously against the pro-free market and pro-corporate farm laws passed by the Modi government last year. It is widely acknowledged that this has become the largest and longest non-violent protest movement in world history. The sacrifices made by the farmers and their persistence in the face of violence by the police – tear gas, water cannon and lathi charges – is also unprecedented. Upwards of 300 people have died during the protests either from the rigors of the north Indian winter or from other causes but the farmers have remained steadfast and the scale of the protests and their magnitude have only grown over the last couple of months.

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INDIA’S NEWS UPSTARTS CHALLENGED MODI. NEW RULES COULD TAME THEM

Mujib Mashal and Hari Kumar

Narendra Modi, India’s prime minister, has cultivated and cowed large parts of the country’s normally raucous news media in recent years as part of a broader campaign against dissent.

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FROM LIBERALISM TO SECULARISM, THE BATTLE FOR BENGAL HAS JUST BEGUN

Jawhar Sircar

Voters in Bengal feel quite amused when told that the next assembly elections are all done and dusted. But it is rather distressing to see how personal biases or received wisdom (tonnes of which is freely offloaded in the national capital) masquerading as profound political analysis. Despite what poll surveys tell us, a very tough battle lies ahead, not only for Mamata Banerjee but also for the liberal principles and secular ideologies that the people of the state have prided in.

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DELHI VIOLENCE UNMASKED: HOW RSS, BJP MEMBERS INVOKED HINDU IDENTITY TO MOBILISE HINDUTVA MOBS AT MAUJPUR

Sagar

In a six-month-long investigation, Sagar, a staff writer at The Caravan, scrutinised Facebook live broadcasts by members affiliated to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and the Bharatiya Janata Party ahead of the Delhi violence of February 2020. In this series based on the investigation, The Caravan reports on the Hindutva mobilisation that preceded the violence, its political and communal nature, and the role played by the RSS, BJP and affiliated organisations such as the Bajrang Dal in fomenting hate against those protesting the Citizenship (Amendment) Act of 2019.

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PAKISTAN: MANUFACTURING SOLDIERS

Mahvish Ahmad

In a book that breaks new ground in scholarship on Pakistani militarism, Maria Rashid explores how the Pakistan Army manages emotions like grief, pride and fear among foot soldiers and their families.

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RESISTING A COUP: HOW CIVIL SOCIETY IS RESPONDING IN THE FACE OF ESCALATING VIOLENCE IN MYANMAR

On 1 February, the military seized control of Myanmar after detaining National League for Democracy (NLD) leader Aung San Suu Kyi and other elected leaders, claiming that recently held elections were neither free nor fair.

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EDITORIAL: IMPACT OF THE FARMERS AGITATION ON INDIA’S INTERNATIONAL IMAGE

Vinod Mubayi

India’s current image in most of the mainstream western media is that of an authoritarian state: a state unwilling to tolerate any dissent or criticism of its actions and policies; a state that harasses, persecutes, and imprisons critics who voice opinions or sentiments the government dubs as “sedition” – under a century-old law left over from the British colonial regime.

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STATEMENT OF SOLIDARITY WITH FARMERS OF INDIA

Centre d’études et de ressources sur l’Asie du Sud (CERAS) and South Asian Network for Secularism and Democracy (SANSAD)

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PAKISTAN INDIA PEOPLE’S FORUM FOR PEACE AND DEMOCRACY WELCOMES DGMOS CEASEFIRE AGREEMENT

Joint Statement released on 27th February 2021, New Delhi and Islamabad

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INDIA: DISASTER IN UTTARAKHAND IN THE HIMALAYAS – STATEMENT BY VIKALP SANGAM

South Asia Citizens Web, February 25, 2021

We, the Core Group members of the Vikalp Sangam, are completely shocked and anguished by the recent Uttarakhand tragedy. We do consider that the events of 7th February 2021 in the Rishi Ganga and Dhauli Ganga valleys in Uttarakhand are yet another grim reminder of the fact that Himalayas as an ecosystem are getting stressed and sick by the day. Climate Change and its impacts are no longer a matter of debate or contestations. It is here to stay.

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FIXING THE GAZE: THE MADAM CHIEF MINISTER POSTER AND THE GENEALOGY OF A NEW DALIT ASSERTION

Praveen Donthi

The month of January is marked by the birth and death anniversaries of Rohith Vemula. Five years ago, after he was pushed to take his own life at the University of Hyderabad—in what Dalits aptly described as an institutional murder—I reported on the defiant politics of Vemula and the Ambedkar Students’ Association that he was part of, and how they were trying to create a “universal language of discrimination” for the country’s marginalised.

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LIVING IN KARACHI’S KATCHI ABADIS

Muhammad Aqeel Awan  

Wandering outside the Bengali Para, Karachi-Malir, trying to find a street that would take us inside the Katchi Abadi (informal settlement), we met a young man in his early 20s, about 5.5 feet tall, of Bengali origin, standing still with his eyes stuck on a particular point in the sea.

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DROUGHT IS NOT SIMPLY A NATURAL CALAMITY, IT IS ALSO DRIVEN BY COMMERCIAL GREED

P. Sainath

As India witnesses its largest-ever farmers’ agitation, Landscapes of Loss: The Story of an Indian Drought, a new book by Kavitha Iyer, takes a close look at several of the deeper issues that have been afflicting the country’s farming community for decades now and brought it to this desperate pass.

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A PAKISTANI-AMERICAN TALE UPENDS EXPECTATIONS ONSCREEN AND IN LIFE

Sopan Deb

Iram Parveen Bilal’s newest feature, “I’ll Meet You There,” tells a novel story: A young Pakistani-American woman, Dua (played by Nikita Tewani), wants to pursue a career in dance, a path that would be frowned upon in Pakistan. Instead, her immigrant father, a Chicago police officer named Majeed, encourages her to follow her dream. At the same time, Majeed (Faran Tahir) is ordered to surveil a mosque — essentially to spy on his people, including his father, who has incidentally chosen now to visit from Pakistan.

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AN EXEMPLARY PROGRESSIVE: THE AESTHETIC EXPERIMENT OF SAHIR LUDHIANVI

(Excerpted from Ali Mir and Raza Mir’s 2006 book Anthems of Resistance: A Celebration of Progressive Urdu Poetry to mark Sahir’s Birth Centenary coming up on March 8, 2021)

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EDITORIAL: MOBOCRACY IN THE WORLD’S “OLDEST” AND “LARGEST” DEMOCRACIES

Vinod Mubayi

The invasion of the seat of government, the US Capitol, in the world’s oldest democracy on January 6, 2021 by violent, right-wing, white supremacist mobs owing allegiance to President Donald Trump, has focused attention on the role exercised by a democratically elected Leader who incites his followers to commit destructive acts. The proximate reason for the invasion was to stop the certification by Congress of the victory of Joe Biden over Trump in the November 2020 election.

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BUDGET 2021 IS A CHANCE TO UNDO THE COVID-INDUCED INEQUALITY THAT HAS SURGED ACROSS INDIA

Nikhil Dey

Ideally, the government should increase the work entitlement for MGNREGA to at least 150 days, double the budget and put in place an urban employment guarantee act.

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THE SEASON OF DISCONTENT: HOW HAS COVID-19 IMPACTED CIVIC MOBILISATION AND ORGANISING IN SOUTH ASIA?

Alizeh Kohari

The last public protest I attended was on 8 March 2020. Two weeks later, the world changed. It was already changing, of course – had already changed, perhaps – but we didn’t know yet how much or for how long.

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WHY THE INCARCERATION OF MUNAWAR FARUQUI SHOULD WORRY US

Arshad Alam, Sabrang India

The show hasn’t started. A stand-up comic, Munawar Faruqui, is rehearsing his lines in a café in Indore. A couple of his associates are also with him. A shadowy figure suddenly enters the hall and starts yelling at Faruqui. He alleges that Faruqui has made fun of Hindu deities and thereby hurt the religious sentiments of Hindus.

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THE NEW KHALISTAN CONSPIRACY: THE GOVERNMENT IS PLAYING THE SAME GAME THAT ONCE LED PUNJAB TO DISASTER

Hartosh Singh Bal

There is a familiar pattern to the right wing’s spin on the events of 26 January: condemning the farmers who reached the centre of Delhi, labeling them “extremists,” “Khalistani,” or simply “anti-national.”

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LETTER TO CHIEF JUSTICE OF INDIA

20 January 2021

New Delhi,

To

The Honourable Chief Justice of India,

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TIME FOR LEFT TO RE-IMAGINE CLASS, POPULISM

Subhoranjan Dasgupta

The Bengal elections are knocking at the door. How will the parties, the Trinamul Congress (TMC) and the CPM in particular, respond? Can they form a united front by combining the crucial populist currents in their favour? Eminent political scientist Ranabir Samaddar, founder of the Calcutta Research Group explores these questions in a dialogue.

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PAKISTAN’S ONE-PERCENT

Shahrukh Khan

A review of Rosita Armytage’s Big Capital in an Unequal World: The Micropolitics of Wealth in Pakistan.

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A REPUBLIC OF PROTEST

Mukulika Banerjee

The culture of the farmers’ protest is an extraordinary tableau that tells us what republican values look like.

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INSAF BULLETIN WISHES ITS READERS A VERY HAPPY 2021!

EDITORIAL: LOVE JIHAD: ILLEGALITY DESCENDS INTO CRIMINALITY

Vinod Mubayi

The “love jihad” law passed by the UP legislature late November 2020 essentially criminalizes marriage between persons of different religious faiths, more specifically between Muslim men and Hindu women; the former are accused of luring the latter by false promises in to marriage and converting them to Islam. This piece of legislation, if it can at all be called a “law” is so blatantly unconstitutional that even the cowed courts of India’s current judicial system are likely to reject it. But what may have been regarded as another example of insanity perpetrated by the Yogi regime has swiftly morphed into outright criminality.

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THE DISSENTING AND DEFIANT CITIZEN IS INDIAN OF THE YEAR

Sidharth Bhatia, The Wire

In an environment where dissidence is considered an act of rebellion, even sedition, where people are thrown into jail for standing up for rights, and where even a cartoon or a joke can get the politicians riled up, some Indians have let it be known that they will not get cowed down. Especially when it comes to matters of dignity and livelihood.

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THE GLOBAL ANGLE TO THE FARMER PROTESTS

Utsa Patnaik

The farmers’ movement for the repeal of the three farm laws which affect them closely but have been rammed through without consulting them, has now entered its second month.

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A MONTH ON, FARMERS REMAIN RESOLUTE OVER REPEAL OF FARM LAWS

Pawanjot Kaur

Mohali: The farmers’ ‘Dilli Chalo’ movement will complete a month on December 26, 2020. What started at the village block level, mainly in Punjab, has panned out across the country and Indian embassies, and foreign parliaments.

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LOVE IN THE TIME OF LOCKDOWN: HOW PAKISTANI WOMEN CONTINUE TO CHALLENGE PATRIARCHAL NORMS

Sehyr Mirza 

It’s the month of April during lockdown in Pakistan. The usually bustling Mall Road of Lahore is barren. On her way back from the office, Irum takes an Uber ride to the eerily quiet Pak Tea House. She waits outside the silent cafes and shops. Her eyes gaze upon an empty road: only a handful of commuters and a few passers-by are in sight. The liveliness of the city might have been a tale from another era.

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J&K: HOW AND WHY THE DDC POLLS RESULTS ‘MARGINALISED’ THE BJP

Shakir Mir, The Wire

Srinagar: District Development Councils (DDCs) tend to have very little political power. Yet the BJP-ruled Centre conducted the recent DDC polls in Jammu and Kashmir on a scale quite out of proportion to their diminutive profile.

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HOW CAN A GARMENT BE CHEAPER THAN A SANDWICH?

Imran Amed, The New York Times

This year the world has had to confront two monumental challenges: Covid-19 and the economic catastrophe the disease has caused. Both have taken a heavy toll on economically vulnerable workers, who already had to contend with low wages and few social protections. Their plight has exposed the rampant inequality pervading many corners of the globalized world, including the fashion industry.

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THE EDIT WARS: HOW WIKIPEDIA EARNED THE IRE OF THE HINDU RIGHT

Nishant Kauntia, The Caravan Magazine

“It might be awkward, but please don’t scroll past this.” In July this year, the non-profit Wikimedia Foundation launched a donation campaign in India. A banner pinned at the top of every Wikipedia article noted that fewer than two percent of users made donations and that, if those who saw the banner would contribute Rs 150 each, the online encyclopedia “could keep thriving for years.”

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BOOK REVIEW: A NEW SOCIOLOGY AWAITS US

Dipankar Gupta

Classes of Labour: Work and Life in a Central Indian Steel Town by Jonathan P Parry (in collaboration with Ajay T G), New Delhi: Social Science Press, 2019; pp xxx + 702 (biblio+index), ?1,850.

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HAS MODI FINALLY MET HIS MATCH IN INDIA’S FARMERS?

Ravinder Kaur

The government’s hopes of turning India into the world’s workshop for global corporations are being strongly resisted

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FARM LAWS: PUBLIC PERCEPTION IS IN FAVOR OF FARMERS, CENTRE CANNOT BE IN DENIAL

 

The farmers’ movement has reached a stage where it no longer deals with the sectional interests of farmers alone but has deeply affected all sections of Indian society.

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EDITORIAL 1: SUPREME JOKE

Vinod Mubayi

Medieval courts used to have a court jester who was allowed to lampoon the nobility or even poke fun at the ruling monarch as a way of blowing off steam; his antics were permitted ostensibly on the grounds that what he said was a joke and not to be taken seriously thereby allowing the targets of his barbs to save face. The Indian legal and judicial system does not seem to be able to display a comparable liberality towards comedians. The Attorney General has sanctioned prosecution of the comedian Kunal Kamra for daring to label the Supreme Court of India a Supreme Joke.

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EDITORIAL 2: BIHAR ELECTION – LESSONS FOR THE LEFT

Vinod Mubayi

After disappointing performances in the past several years, the recently concluded state elections in Bihar provided a partial resurgence of the Left led by the CPI(ML) Liberation group that won 12 of the 19 seats it was allotted by the Mahagathbandhan (Grand Coalition or MGB) of the Rashtriya Janata Dal, Congress, and the Left.

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ARTICLE 32: RIGHTS FOR ALL OR FOR A FAVOURED FEW?

M. Sridhar Acharyulu

When the law becomes a weapon of oppression rather than an equalising force, democracy is in danger. Article 32 deals with the ‘Right to Constitutional Remedies’, and affirms the right of an individual to move the Supreme Court (SC) by appropriate proceedings for the enforcement of the rights conferred in Part III of the constitution.

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INDIA’S HUNGER PANGS

EPW Editorial

The Global Hunger Index (GHI) 2020, which ranks India 94 among 107 nations, has once again brought to the fore the government’s failure to provide adequate food to a substantial segment of the population despite rising stocks of cereals.

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DILLI CHALO MARCH HAS SHATTERED THE MIASMA OF HINDUTVA’S POWER AND ARROGANCE

Amandeep Sandhu

THE PROTESTORS on the #DilliChalo march are motivated by Fundamental Rights as enshrined in the Constitution, Article 19. Namely, freedom of speech and expression; freedom to assemble peacefully and without arms; freedom to move freely throughout the territory of India. They sought to reach the capital of the nation.

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THE ASSASSIN STATE KEEPS ON KILLING – DOES ANYONE CARE?

Vinod Mubayi

The latest victim of the Assassin State’s long list of terror killings stretching back many decades is an Iranian physicist, Dr Mohsen Fakhrizadeh.

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SAFEGUARDING FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS

Madan Bhimrao Lokur

In recent times, the right to speech, expression and the right to protest have been constantly undermined. An attack on these rights runs contrary to the spirit of civilised democracy. We need to exercise these rights within the Constitution’s conditions and the government is duty-bound to provide these conditions.

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CPI(M) DISAGREES WITH PROPOSAL TO GO SOFT ON TMC

Shubhadeep Choudhury

Left Front convener Biman Bose on Sunday said the CPI-ML (Liberation) stance of treating the BJP as enemy number one in West Bengal was not acceptable to CPI-M.

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PAKISTAN: ANATOMY OF A POLITICAL MOMENT

Sarah Eleazar and Sher Ali Khan

What kind of freedom is this?

You are deaf to our voices.

What KIND of freedom IS this?

Our young men keep getting killed.

What KIND of freedom IS this?

– ‘Da Sang Azadi Da’ by Shaukat Aziz

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EDITORIAL: PLUMBING THE MORAL DEPTHS

Vinod Mubayi

How low can the country go? To what moral depths can the “world’s largest democracy” descend? These questions emerge naturally in the aftermath of two horrific events: the rape and killing of a young Dalit woman in Hathras, UP and its cover up by the state police as well as the arrest of an 83-year old priest Father Stan Swamy on charges so preposterous they strain credulity.

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BJP’S ‘FREE COVID VACCINE FOR VOTES’ OFFER FOR BIHAR RAISES CONCERNS OF HEALTH POLICY, ETHICS

Vasudevan Mukunth and Siddharth Varadarajan

The first item on the Bharatiya Janata Party’s manifesto in Bihar, ahead of the assembly polls set to kick off there next week, is that if the party is elected to power in the state, it will arrange for free COVID-19 vaccines. It is hard to overstate how appalling this promise is, assuming it will be fulfilled.

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ADITYANATH ALWAYS FLAUNTED HIS BIGOTRY, NOW HIS WAR ON MINORITIES IS IN FULL SWING

Harsh Mander and Amitanshu Verma

What is going on in Uttar Pradesh? The constitution of India, at least in principle, still applies to the state. No emergency has been imposed.

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MALNUTRITION AND FOOD SECURITY IN INDIA IN THE TIME OF COVID-19

Vasanthi Raman

The Prime Minister’s pronouncements on the occasion of World Food Day commemorated the setting up of the Food and Agricultural Organization on October 16, 1945 and hailed not only the achievements of the food agencies of the UN, but also India’s supposed role in its achievements.

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STAN SWAMY HAS STOOD WITH THE OPPRESSED. THE STATE CONSIDERS HIM AN ENEMY

Harsh Mander 

The true character of a state is perhaps best exposed by its choice of enemies. In its latest strike, the entire might of the state has converged on an 83-year-old Jesuit priest, who has devoted his life to struggling with the most oppressed among the Indian people — the Adivasis — against corporate and state power. The government leaves no doubt about who it despises and fears. And who it stands with.

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BECOMING KAMALA DEVI HARRIS: WHEN BRAHMIN AND BLACK IDENTITIES CONVERGE

Radhika Parameswaran and Pallavi Rao

Democratic Party presidential candidate Joe Biden’s nomination of Kamala Devi Harris for vice president has brought international attention to a political figure fusing Indian American and African American identities.

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TIME TO STAND UP AGAINST FASCISM IS NOW

Arundhati Roy

The most rotten part of this country is the mainstream media. This is the most tragic part of this country, the most shameful part of this country.

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INDIA’S HUNGER PANGS

EPW Editorial

The NDA government’s record in controlling hunger is dismal despite rising stocks of cereal.

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BASMATI BATTLE: PAKISTAN FIGHTS INDIAN BID FOR EU RECOGNITION OF RICE

Daniel Boffey 

A new ingredient has been added to the boiling pot that is the relationship between India and Pakistan: basmati rice. Pakistan’s government has vowed to “vehemently” oppose an application by India for the long-grain aromatic rice to be recognised by the EU as being grown exclusively in specific regions of the Indian subcontinent.

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THE DISCOLOURATION OF “GREEN GROWTH” IN PAKISTAN

Sara Abraham

Pakistan’s weakened Left discourse over the last few decades has meant that numerous areas of social and ecological life, such as the life of women, or the natural environment, have fallen into the hands of well-heeled members of civil society.

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BOOK REVIEW: PIONEER OF MARXIST SOCIAL HISTORY

Pavel Tomar

Eric Hobsbawm: A Life in History by Richard J Evans, London: Little Brown, 2019; pp xiii + 785, ?954 (hardcover).

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EDITORIAL: INDIA’S MARCH TO A POLICE STATE INTENSIFIES

Vinod Mubayi

Last month’s editorial focused on how India, often billed as the world’s largest democracy, was marching towards an authoritarian police state. It was argued that while the formal institutions of democracy such as the constitution, the courts and the legislature remain, their content is being systematically hollowed out to make them mere shells without substance.

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DELHI POLICE

Pratap Bhanu Mehta

Delhi’s Police’s investigation against students and activists in connection with the Delhi riots is pushing the Indian state into a long dark night of tyranny. The riots are a serious matter. All perpetrators must be credibly identified and subject to the law. But instead, we are witnessing a project designed to crush civil society. If our freedom is to be saved, we need to understand what is at stake in what is happening in Delhi.

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HOW POLITICAL MASTERS ARE ORCHESTRATING DELHI POLICE IN RIOTS CASE

Julio Ribeiro

I wrote a letter to the Delhi Police Commissioner that went ‘viral’ — a term my grand-children and their friends often use. I write letters at the drop of a hat but none turned ‘viral’. This one, obviously because it touched raw nerves, did! Since a leading daily wrote an editorial on what I said in the letter, my grandchildren have started reading editorials, an advice of an old man that they had ignored earlier.

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MY ENCOUNTERS WITH SWAMI AGNIVESH

Irfan Engineer

It is very saddening news that Swami Agnivesh is no more amongst us. Swamiji enriched our understanding of Hindu Vedic religion in particular and all religions in general. He remained a critic of all religions and advocated for spirituality.

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REST IN POWER, JEAN CHAPMAN

It is with deep sadness and a sense of loss that we at SAWCC (South Asian Women’s Community Centre) mourn the death of Jean Chapman, our sister in struggle. Jean passed away peacefully on September 21, 2020 at home in the arms of her husband Paul Wilkinson and with her beloved poodle, Noah, by her side.  Jean joined SAWCC in 1985 and was a life member. 

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PAKISTAN’S FIRST CLIMATE PRISONERS: BABA JAN AND AFFECTEES OF THE ATTABAD DISASTER

Tabitha Spence

Baba Jan has spent years of his life in prison, framed along with Iftikhar Karbalayi and 10 others, for terrorism and the murder of a young man and his father. Eyewitnesses say that Afzal and Sher Ullah Baig were shot and killed by police while demonstrating for unpaid compensation promised to victims of the landslide and floods that destroyed villages in the Gojal Valley in January 2010.  

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SILENCE IN SWAT: MEMORY, MILITANCY AND THE MILITARY IN SWAT VALLEY

Hurmat Ali Shah

Swat Valley used to be green. Now the green looks dull and grey. The people living here are tired. They forget. And when personal histories, and personal and collective geographies are marred with memories of violence, isn’t short-term memory loss the natural answer? Who has the courage to confront memory amidst the rhythm of the everyday, lay it to rest, and more painfully, make sense of all the killings and the aftermath – that is, a military regimenting a whole population for the crime of being conquered by a militant group?

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NO TYRANT CAN ENDURE: ON THE ARREST OF UMAR KHALID

Shuddhabrata Sengupta

On the night of 13 September, as the calendar turned, news came in that Umar Khalid, an activist, had been arrested after several hours of interrogation at the office of the Special Cell of the Delhi Police, in Lodhi Colony. Khalid, a PhD scholar in the Adivasi history of Jharkhand from the Jawaharlal Nehru University, was detained for his alleged role in a conspiracy, which the Delhi Police claimed instigated the violence that ripped through northeast Delhi in the last week of February.

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INDIANS GET JUST ONE WEEK TO REVIEW CRUCIAL HEALTH DATA POLICY. THE CENTRE’S RUSH IS UNDEMOCRATIC

Ipsita Chakravarty & Vijayta Lalwani

The policy covers the collection and storage of data on an individual’s medical history, finances, genetics, sex life, caste, religion and political beliefs.

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THE WORLD’S “LARGEST DEMOCRACY” MARCHING TO A POLICE STATE

Vinod Mubayi

Evidence keeps mounting daily of India’s descent into a police state where the freedoms guaranteed in the Constitution: free speech, freedom to express opinions against the policies of the government, are being honored more in the breach than in the observance. Two examples of this suffice.

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A PASSIONATE TEACHER AND ACTIVIST: ILINA SEN (1951–2020)

Gabriele Dietrich

Ilina Sen, teacher, author and activist has left behind a rich legacy of work and warmth that will continue to inspire women’s and human rights activists and students.

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THE SHADOW OF HAREN PANDYA’S CASE LIES LONG OVER JUSTICE ARUN MISHRA

Prem Shankar Jha

To say that the Supreme Court’s verdict of contempt of court against Prashant Bhushan has shocked civil society in India would be an understatement. There has been an outpouring of dismay and anger in which even attorney general K.K. Venugopal has joined. Most of the protest has focussed on the blow that punishing Bhushan will deal to civil liberties, notably the freedom to express an opinion,  the freedom to differ and the freedom to criticise – without which democracy cannot survive.

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ILINA AS WE KNEW HER: A TRIBUTE FROM WSS

Women against Sexual Violence and State Repression (WSS) deeply mourns the passing away of Ilina Sen on August 9 in Kolkata. Ilina, 69, was a feminist activist, teacher, researcher and writer passionately involved with the women’s movement in India.

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INDIA’S COVID DEATHS COULD BE AMONG THE HIGHEST IN THE WORLD

(The Wire, August 25, 2020)

Two community physicians with a deep interest in public health, who have earlier published their findings in The Hindu, have said India could be under-reporting its COVID-19 death toll by a factor of 5.29.

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HOW KAMALA HARRIS’S FAMILY IN INDIA HELPED SHAPE HER VALUES

Jeffrey Gettleman and Suhasini Raj

CHENNAI, India — One of Senator Kamala Harris’s brightest childhood memories was walking down the beach hand in hand with her Indian grandfather.

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THE MYTH OF MAINSTREAM

Chhetria Patrakar

Every other day or so, it seems, news from India confirms our worst fears about the state of journalism and free speech in the country.

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CISCO CASE SHOWS INDIANS STILL TAKE CASTE WHERE THEY GO

Subhash Gatade

What happens to caste when Indians migrate to Western countries? Do their feelings of being born superior or inferior, their belief in the purity-pollution ethic, just melt away? The “model minority” has tried to avoid a conversation on this issue but it returns to haunt them time and again. Now the American state of California is at the centre of yet another caste controversy.

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‘LET NOT DESPAIR IMPRISON OUR WORDS’: REMEMBERING ALI SARDAR JAFRI, 20 YEARS ON

Raza Naeem

Har cheez bhula di jaayegi

Yaadon ke haseen butkhane se

Har cheez utha di jaayegi

Phir koi nahin yeh poochhega

Sardar kahan hai mehfil mein

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SATIRE: THERE IS INDEED A JIHADI CONSPIRACY AND THE NATION WANTS TO KNOW WHAT MODI WILL DO ABOUT IT

Harish Khare

It is indeed baffling that so many democratic, liberal, progressive, or just plain decent, voices should be upset over a ‘nationalist’ news channel wanting to air an exposé about an unholy conspiracy to “infiltrate Muslims” into government services.

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EDITORIAL: TRUMP, BOLSONARO, MODI: THREE HORSEMEN OF THE COVID PANDEMIC APOCALYPSE

Vinod Mubayi

The countries that Trump, Bolsonaro and Modi, respectively, rule, are currently #1, 2, and 3 in the total number of coronavirus infections. Credible projections by some scientists suggest that India is poised to become #1 within a few months. Whether that happens or not, it is more than likely the US, Brazil, and India will continue to remain on the equivalent of the Olympic medal stand with respect to the ranking for the worst performance in controlling the pandemic for the foreseeable future.

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A STRONG VOICE AGAINST HINDUTVA IN GREATER VANCOUVER LOST

Gurpreet Singh 

The news of Chinmoy Banerjee’s death has greatly saddened the South Asian community in BC. 

80-year-old scholar and activist of Indian heritage, Chin Daa, as we affectionately called him, was not keeping well for the past several days. 

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GLOBAL DIALOGUE FOR SYSTEMIC CHANGE

We are living in an unprecedented global crisis that requires a deep reflection, rethinking and dialogue among activists, organizations and social movements around the world. Critical strategies are essential, to deal with the current crises and to shape what comes next.

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TAGORE STREET, TEL AVIV: AGAINST NORMALIZING BANGLADESHI—ISRAELI RELATIONS

Kamal M. Ali

The normalization of the Israeli apartheid-state by liberal Bangladeshis calls for a revival of revolutionary solidarities and a South Asian politics that champions the Palestinian cause.

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UP POLICE AFFIDAVIT ON VIKAS DUBEY ENCOUNTER PUTS SUPREME COURT BETWEEN ROCK AND HARD PLACE

Siddharth Varadarajan

In an interview to The Wire, Justice Deepak Gupta – who retired as a judge of the Supreme Court in May this year – had this to say about the killing of the gangster Vikas Dubey by the Uttar Pradesh police: “indications are that this was not an encounter, he did not run away, he was killed… But police made up such a shoddy story, it seems they don’t even give a damn whether people think that we killed him or not.”

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US CITIES OPPOSE INDIA’S DISCRIMINATORY CITIZENSHIP ACT

The Alliance for Justice and Accountability (AJA), an umbrella organization of progressive South Asian groups across the United States, in coordination with the local San Francisco community, today welcomed the resolution passed by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors denouncing India’s draconian Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), the National Register of Citizens (NRC) and the National Population Register (NPR).

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HAGIA SOPHIA: HERITAGE OF ENTIRE HUMANITY

Irfan Engineer

The re-conversion of Hagia Sophia from a patriarchal cathedral built by Justinian I in 537 CE to Hagia Sophia Grand Mosque in 1453 after the conquest of Constantinople by Sultan Mehmet II and into a museum of the same name by Kemal Ataturk in 1934 and again into a mosque of the same name on 24th July 2020 has thrown up quite a controversy. The reconversion of the Christian-Muslim monument in 21st Century that was a museum for nearly a century signifies the global rise and growing strength of the right wing politicians from all religions that misuse religion for their political ends and stoke religio-cultural wars. The conversion should be condemned in the strongest possible words. The Museum was a great tourist attraction.

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CONDEMN THE ARBITRARY ARREST OF PROF. HANY BABU!

The Campaign Against State Repression (CASR) condemns the arrest of Professor Hany Babu MT at Mumbai by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) in connection with the Bhima Koregaon-Elgaar Parishad case.

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CASTE ON THE STREETS: DHAKA’S STREET CLEANERS, MANY OF THEM DALITS, FACED A GRIM FUTURE EVEN BEFORE THE PANDEMIC

Shah Tazrian Ashrafi

Bangladesh confirmed its first case of COVID-19 on 8 March 2020. In the span of a little over a hundred days, the number of positive cases crossed the 100,000 mark with more than 1300 dead. The country imposed a nationwide lockdown on 26 March and extended it several times. As the lockdown was lifted on 31 May, the number of cases began to surge.

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IMPACTS OF COVID-19 ON LABOUR

EPW Editorial

The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and ensuing lockdowns have severely affected the labour market. In India, the pandemic and the prolonged lockdowns have led to a reduction or complete loss of their livelihoods, which has disproportionately affected the migrants and the working poor. Others, such as health workers and those in essential services, have experienced a huge increase in workloads and schedules amidst the onslaught of the pandemic.

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EDITORIAL: BLACK LIVES MATTER IN THE US: DO MUSLIM/DALIT/MIGRANT WORKER/DISSIDENT LIVES MATTER IN INDIA?

Vinod Mubayi

The unprecedented outrage spurred by the murder of George Floyd by a racist policeman in Minneapolis has led to a situation where systemic change in the way state oppression of the minorities operates in the US is on the agenda. Battered by the pandemic, African-Americans finally revolted at yet another murder of a black man by a white cop and the familiar, despicably brutal manner in which it was carried out: strangulation.

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REVOKE THE AUCTION OF 41 COAL BLOCKS FOR COMMERCIAL MINING

National Alliance of People’s Movements

24th June, 2020: National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM) condemns the diabolical design of the current regime, led by the Prime Minister to ‘virtually auction’ 41 coal blocks for commercial mining in the bio-diverse rich, adivasi heartlands of Central and Eastern India. Opening up of these areas to profit-making domestic and foreign corporate mining entities will irreversibly jeopardize the pristine forest lands, increase environmental pollution and public health risk in Covid times and destroy the habitats of a major chunk of the adivasi population and wild-life.

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NEPAL FAMILIES FACE HUNGER, SKIP MEALS AS PANDEMIC HITS REMITTANCES

Gopal Sharma

Shiba Kala Limbu grimaced as she recalled how she went hungry in order to feed her five-year-old daughter after the coronavirus pandemic cost her husband his job as a mason in the Gulf state of Qatar.

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STAY HOME, STAY SAFE: INTERROGATING VIOLENCE IN THE DOMESTIC SPHERE

Rukmini Sen

The first social distancing advisory, which was released by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare on 16 March 2020, advised students to stay at home and laid down guidelines for instituting work-from-home wherever feasible. With the exception of essential travel, movement for everything else was stopped. However, while India was getting ready to prepare for a lockdown wherein all members of the household would be locked inside their respective homes for most of the time, there was no discussion on the implications this would have on the well-being of the everyday lives of women.

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WITH INDIA’S TIKTOK BAN, THE WORLD’S DIGITAL WALLS GROW HIGHER

Raymond Zhong and Kai Schultz

The global internet is fracturing. And people like Anusmita Dutta are paying the price.

Ms. Dutta, 24, joined TikTok three years ago and now has more than 350,000 followers on the video app. From her home in Kolkata, in eastern India, she records funny skits, monologues, slice-of-life sketches — all stuff, she says, that people can easily relate to. She also finds videos from every corner of the earth using the app’s Discover feature.

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PAKISTAN’S LOCKDOWN ENDED A MONTH AGO. NOW HOSPITAL SIGNS READ ‘FULL.’

Zia ur-Rehman, Salman Masood and Maria Abi-Habib

Pakistanis stricken by the coronavirus are being turned away from hospitals that have simply closed their gates and put up signs reading “full house.” Doctors and nurses are falling ill at alarming rates, and are also coming under physical assault from desperate and angry families.

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DELHI RIOTS NEITHER DESIGNED BY MODI GOVT, NOR ISLAMIC CONSPIRACY. IT IS FAR MORE DANGEROUS

Yogendra Yadav

Has the Narendra Modi regime normalised violence in a way that could hurt the Prime Minister himself? Has he created a Frankenstein monster that he cannot destroy?

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IS THIS THE THEATRE OF THE ABSURD? INDIA NEEDS A PARADIGM SHIFT TOWARDS CHINA

KP Fabian

It is obvious, painfully obvious that India’s policy towards its big neighbor China has not been much of a success. Before we figure out a new policy frame work, we need to bear in mind that in the ongoing stand-off at the border, India has faulted diplomatically and militarily apart from permitting China to control, or almost control, the narrative as far as the international public is concerned.

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LAWLESS LAWMAKING IN A COVID-19 WORLD

Alok Prasanna Kumar

India’s management of the COVID-19 global pandemic has been marked by excessive centralisation, lawless lawmaking and non-consultative decision-making processes at the union government level. This has created an atmosphere of confusion in the management of the disease, leading to India becoming one of the global hotspots and cases fast spiralling out of the control of local authorities.

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WHEN INDIA PUT INDIANS IN CAMPS

Uttaran Das Gupta

Review of ‘The Deoliwallahs: The True Story of the 1962 Chinese-Indian Internment ‘ by Joy Ma and Dilip D’Souza. Pan Macmillan India, January 2020.

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EDITORIAL: CRIMINALIZING DISSENT, THROWING MIGRANT WORKERS TO THE DOGS AND ABOLISHING DECADES OLD LABOR LAWS: WHERE IS INDIA HEADED?

Vinod Mubayi

At a time when the pandemic infection in India seems to be rising rapidly, the regime’s acts of cruelty, there is simply no other word for them, that consist of acts of both commission and omission, seem bewildering. Are they the expressions of a government that is both uncaring and incompetent, whose minions are content with projecting the image of an omnipotent, omniscient leader, a divine guru beyond human criticism? Or are they instead the actions of a would-be dictatorial government bent on crushing any manifestation of opposition in its march to Hindu Rashtra? Considering both the utterances and silences of the government’s spokespersons on various issues, it appears to be a combination of both, depending on the issue.

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LETTER TO THE ILO ON THE UNILATERAL SUSPENSION OF LABOUR LAWS BY THE GOVERNMENT IN INDIA

25.05.2020

Mr Guy Ryder

Director General, International Labour Organisation

Geneva

Dear Sir,

This joint representation is the follow up with more concrete details on our complaint / representation to you dated 14th May 2020.

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AS THE FIRST YEAR OF MODI 2.0 ENDS, IT’S CLEAR THAT DEMOCRACY HAS BEEN QUARANTINED

Siddharth Varadarajan

To understand what Narendra Modi has done to India in the first year of his second term as prime minister, I want you to consider the contrasting fate of two young people, Amulya Leona and Anurag Thakur.

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ON THE CORONAVIRUS, PAKISTAN’S GOVERNMENT IS MISSING IN ACTION

Neha Maqsood

During a televised broadcast on March 22, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan expressed his hesitancy in imposing a nationwide lockdown in response to the coronavirus pandemic, explaining that such a move would have devastating economic consequences for the poor.

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A PANDEMIC OF PERSECUTION IN BANGLADESH

Ali Riaz

Workers from the garment sector block a road as they protest to demand the payment of due wages during a government-imposed nationwide lockdown as a preventive measure against the COVID-19 coronavirus, in Dhaka, Bangladesh on April 24, 2020.

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WHY ACTIVISTS WANT PRISONS DECONGESTED

Subhash Gatade

Late in March, Sirous Asgari, a materials science and engineering professor from Iran, who is at present detained by the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), had warned about the “inhumane” conditions at the ICE facility that could turn it into a hot spot of Covid-19 fatalities.

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SEWER CLEANERS WANTED IN PAKISTAN: ONLY CHRISTIANS NEED APPLY

Zia ur-Rehman and Maria Abi-Habib

Before Jamshed Eric plunges deep below Karachi’s streets to clean out clogged sewers with his bare hands, he says a little prayer to Jesus to keep him safe.

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HOW MODI FAILED THE PANDEMIC TEST

Hartosh Singh Bal

India has been under a lockdown to stem the spread of the coronavirus for two months. On March 25, the first day of the lockdown, India had 618 confirmed cases and 13 deaths.

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A HISTORY OF POLITICAL PARTIES IN INDIA

Mahendra Prasad Singh

(Review of Political Parties, Party Manifestos and Elections in India, 1909–2014 edited by R K Tiwari, Oxon and New York: Routledge, 2019; pp xxi + 309, ?1,495).

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CHINA-INDIA BORDER: WHY TENSIONS ARE RISING BETWEEN THE NEIGHBOURS

Anbarasan Ethirajan and Vikas Pandey

The armies of the world’s two most populous nations are locked in a tense face-off high in the Himalayas, which has the potential to escalate as they seek to further their strategic goals.

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THE KALAPANI IMBROGLIO: HAS INDIA PUSHED NEPAL TOO FAR?

Tapan Bose

Popular sentiment against what is viewed as Indian encroachment in Kalapani and Susta has led to recurrent protests in Nepal which have largely been ignored by the Indian media.

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EDITORIAL: CLASS, CASTE AND COMMUNAL VIRUS AND THE DEMONIZATION OF DISSENT IN THE AGE OF CORONA

Vinod Mubayi

As the novel coronavirus started to ravage through India, specific acts of the Modi-Shah regime ruling the country unleashed and intensified other socio-political viruses that are decidedly not novel. In fact, one may claim with confidence that these old viruses have been omnipresent in the minds of the actors, agents, and facilitators of the BJP regime, lurking in the background waiting to be uncovered when opportunity presents itself.

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WHAT THE WORLD CAN LEARN FROM KERALA ABOUT HOW TO FIGHT COVID-19



Sonia Faleiro

The sun had already set on March 7 when Nooh Pullichalil Bava received the call. “I have bad news,” his boss warned. On February 29, a family of three had arrived in the Indian state of Kerala from Italy, where they lived. The trio skipped a voluntary screening for covid-19 at the airport and took a taxi 125 miles (200 kilometers) to their home in the town of Ranni. When they started developing symptoms soon afterward, they didn’t alert the hospital. Now, a whole week after taking off from Venice, all three—a middle-­aged man and woman and their adult son—had tested positive for the virus, and so had two of their elderly relatives.

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AMARTYA SEN ON THE WIRE, THE POLICE AND BEYOND

Amartya Sen

Steps to undermine democracy in India are becoming increasingly common. The police action by the Uttar Pradesh government – ruled by the same political party that runs the Central government – against The Wire and its founding editor, Siddharth Varadarajan, shows how far-reaching the destructive stabs at democracy have become in India.

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CORONAVIRUS LOCKDOWN: THE SEVEN AND A HALF THINGS THAT MODI SAID AND DID NOT SAY

Shuddhabrata Sengupta

A terse but timely message to stop indulging in profiling Muslims as ‘carriers’ of COVID-19 or as ‘bio-terrorists’ from the prime minister could have gone a long way in controlling the baser instincts of his followers.

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MONTREAL TEACH-IN: COMMUNITIES OF STRUGGLE DURING COVID-19 LOCKDOWN — ORGANIZED BY FEMMES DE DIVERSES ORIGINES/WOMEN OF DIVERSE ORIGINS



On Saturday 18th April 2020 at 11am the Montreal-based organization Femmes de diverses origines/Women of Diverse Origins which includes among its members the South Asian Women’s Community Centre, organized the first of a series of teach-in.

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26TH APRIL, 2020 PUCL STATEMENT – LIFT TOTAL LOCKDOWN AND CONTINUE ONLY IN SELECT PLACES

April 25th, 2020 marks the end of the first month of India’s gigantic, country-wide lockdown to counter and check the spread of the COVID -19 – Corona virus. As the Prime Minister gets down to discuss on 27th April, 2020, with the CMs of all the states of India, about whether to continue fully or partially with the biggest ever global shutdown of this size, it is an apt occasion for citizen’s to review progress and point out key concerns, to both the Prime Minister of India, as also all the Chief Ministers.  

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GENDERING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC: WOMEN LOCKED AND DOWN



Madhuri Dixit and Dilip Chavan

The COVID-19 crisis has affected Indian women differently. Due to the lack of autonomy and gender insensitive nature of the state’s response to the corona crisis, women are perceived as second class citizens. While the lockdown is not qualitatively a new experience for the women, even in critical times as it does not change boundaries or the nature of the public and the private spheres for them. Rather, it overburdens them, bereaves them of agency, and compromises their safety.

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IN KASHMIR, RESISTANCE IS MAINSTREAM



Samreen Mushtaq and Mudasir Amin

“I am free today,” claimed Farooq Abdullah, former chief minister of Jammu & Kashmir and a prominent ‘pro-India’ politician from the valley, addressing reporters outside his Gupkar residence in Srinagar on 13 March 2020. This was over seven months after he was placed under house arrest following the de-operationalisation of Article 370 by India on 5 August 2019. Abdullah, an octogenarian, was later formally arrested and booked under the Public Safety Act (PSA), often referred to as a ‘lawless law’, which allows for up to two years of detention without trial.

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REDEFINING CITIZENSHIP IN PAKISTAN

Hurmat Ali Shah


Over the past two years, the Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM) has defined an alternative future for Pakistan. It has also contributed to the state’s anxiety about its own discursive and political power. The Pakistani state has used all the tools in its arsenal, ranging from censorship to arrests and intimidation. The country’s military in particular has been accused by the PTM of abductions and extrajudicial killings, and has opened fire on the peaceful PTM protesters.

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RELIGIOUS FREEDOM: USCIRF REPORT DOWNGRADES INDIA FOR ‘VIOLATIONS’

Shubhajit Roy

This is the first time since 2004 — which was in the backdrop of the Gujarat riots of 2002 — that USCIRF has recommended that India be designated as a “Country of Particular Concern”.

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EDITORIAL: FORCED EXODUS: THOUSANDS LIKELY TO DIE FROM STARVATION RATHER THAN THE VIRUS

Vinod Mubayi

Prime Minister Modi is fond of claiming to have executed surgical strikes against the enemies of the country, viz. Pakistan. Whatever damage they may have done to the enemy is unclear, but his strikes on the Indian population disguised as moral lectures have inflicted more significant damage. While they were applauded as masterstrokes by the lapdog media, their consequences for the country have been considerably less pleasant. In December 2016, he suddenly demonetized the currency, rendering 86% of Indian banknotes worthless overnight. He justified this by claiming it would curb the twin evils of black money and terrorism and usher in a virtuous digital age of cashless transactions. There seems to have been no planning in advance for this momentous act and little thought given to what would happen. Three and a half years later, the economy is still trying to recover from the consequences of this disastrous action.

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GROUND REPORT: CHAOS AT ANAND VIHAR AS BUSES PREPARE TO TAKE MIGRANT WORKERS HOME

Ajoy Ashirwad Mahaprashasta and Anuj Srivas

New Delhi: At the Anand Vihar Bus Terminal and its immediate surrounding areas on the Delhi-Uttar Pradesh border, the mass evacuation of thousands of daily-wage labourers and migrant workers is underway.

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CAN INDIANS TRUST THEIR JUDGES AND LAWS?

Sumanta Banerjee

The two common utterances regularly heard during arguments in Indian courts are – “I have faith in the judicial process” (by the prosecuted), and “The law will take its own course” (by the prosecution). But both these two assertions need to be questioned, given the experiences of Indian citizens in their confrontation with certain types of judges on the one hand, and sufferance from laws on the other, like oppressive colonial Acts from the British era which are still on our statute book, and newer draconian Acts that continue to be promulgated in today’s India.

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PETITION REQUEST

Dear friends,

Please sign the Global Solidarity Statement for Dr. Anand Teltumbde and Gautam Navlakha by clicking here: https://indiacivilwatch.org/petitions/global-solidarity-statement-for-dr-anand-teltumbde-and-gautam-navlakha/

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HOW THE CORPORATE-HINDUTVA AXIS IS ASSAULTING INDIA’S FEDERALISM

Prabhat Patnaik

The anti-colonial struggle saw the emergence of a pan-Indian national consciousness that was superimposed upon a pre-existing “nationality” consciousness based on linguistic regions. The pan-Indian national consciousness, in other words, was superimposed upon a Bengali or Gujarati or Tamil or Odiya consciousness; and the anti-colonial struggle saw the flourishing of both kinds of consciousness.

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‘OUR SITUATION IS APOCALYPTIC’: BANGLADESH GARMENT WORKERS FACE RUIN

Elizabeth Paton

The empty, echoing shopping malls of Western cities are a testament to the biggest crisis borne by global clothing and retail industries in over a generation. But the impact of the coronavirus on retail is a two-part devastation, as the daily flow of thousands of orders placed by Western retailers to supplier factories in South Asia has suddenly slammed to a halt.

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GOD WILL PROTECT US’: CORONAVIRUS SPREADS THROUGH AN ALREADY STRUGGLING PAKISTAN

Zia ur-Rehman, Maria Abi-Habib and Ihsanullah Tipu Mehsud

KARACHI, Pakistan — Doctors are refusing to show up for work. Clerics are refusing to close their mosques. And despite orders to stay at home, children continue to pack streets across Pakistan to play cricket, their parents unwilling to quarantine them in crowded homes.

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FOR INDIA’S LABORERS, CORONAVIRUS LOCKDOWN IS AN ORDER TO STARVE

Maria Abi-Habib and Sameer Yasir

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has ordered a lockdown of India’s 1.3 billion citizens to fight the spread of coronavirus, urging people to distance themselves socially and work from home.

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[NON-SOUTH ASIA ANALYSIS]: SIX POINTS ON CLASS

Michael Zweig

1. We need to change the understanding of class in the United States, going from the division of “rich and poor” to the division of “worker and capitalist.”

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EDITORIAL: AFTER LOSING DELHI ELECTION, BJP WREAKING VENGEANCE ON CITY’S MINORITIES: WHERE IS AAP?

Vinod Mubayi

The rout of the BJP in the Delhi election, while very welcome, should not blind one to the fact that the real political struggle is taking place in the streets not in the electoral arena. This struggle is directly related to the secular nature of the Indian state and the future existence of India’s minorities, especially Indian Muslims. Over the last few decades, and particularly the last six years, RSS/BJP propaganda has created a mindset among the Hindu majority, especially the politically influential upper classes/castes, that has put the secular character of the Indian state in severe doubt, despite all that is enshrined in the Constitution. Without this mindset, it is inconceivable that a blatantly majoritarian and unconstitutional law like the CAA (Citizenship Amendment Act) would have cleared both houses of Parliament. But every action has its reaction and the public anger manifested in almost all parts of the country in the last two months is evidence of the fact that defeating the nefarious CAA/NRC (National Register of Citizens)/NPR (National Population Register) triad of the BJP is the most urgent political issue in India today.

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THERE WILL BE NO SAFE ANCHOR UNTIL ‘WE, THE PEOPLE’ ARE ABLE TO DECISIVELY OVERTURN CURRENT PARLIAMENTARY MAJORITY

Sugata Bose

Homage has been paid to the chairman of the drafting committee of our Constitution by our political class in a plenitude of platitudes without applying the creative and critical faculties that were Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar’s hallmark. India was extremely fortunate that as stringent a critic of mainstream nationalism as Ambedkar placed his intellectual prowess at the service of the nation for five crucial years from December 9, 1946 to October 12, 1951.

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INDIA IS STEADILY CREEPING FROM DEMOCRACY TO SOME FORM OF THUGOCRACY

Pranab Bardhan

Contrary to expectation in many quarters five years back, the current regime has proved itself rather inept and incompetent in economic policy matters, partly because of over-centralisation of power with dependence on loyal mediocrities for policy advice, and partly because for a long time, it believed in its own hype and was in denial.

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THE DELHI RIOTS OF 2020: A DIRECT PRODUCT OF BJP RELIGIOUS POLARISATION

The Wire

More than 48 hours after violence broke out in parts of the national capital, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has finally broken his silence on the Delhi riots. At least 24 people have now lost their lives, with the latest reports saying that the body of a man who works with the Intelligence Bureau was found in a drain in North East Delhi’s Chandbagh.

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“WHICH IS THAT APPROPRIATE STAGE? AFTER THE CITY HAS BURNT DOWN?” SAYS HIGH COURT JUDGE MURALIDHAR

The Delhi high court on Wednesday asked the Delhi Police to ‘take a conscious decision with respect to the registration of FIRs’ against BJP leaders Anurag Thakur, Parvesh Verma and Kapil Mishra, and others, who made alleged hate speeches that may have incited violence in the national capital.

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THE BJP HAS WILFULLY LET DELHI BURN

For three days, northeast Delhi has been in the grip of armed vigilantes mobilised by Hindutva politicians to attack and terrorise those protesting the Citizenship (Amendment) Act. Given the nature of the mobs and their leaders, the violence quickly lost any pretence of a ‘political’ motive and descended into crude, generalised communal violence against Muslims.

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