SECULARISM, DEMOCRACY, HUMAN RIGHTS AND SOCIAL JUSTICE

INSAF Bulletin 262 February 2024
Founding Editor: Daya Varma (1929-2015)
Editors: Vinod Mubayi (New York) and Raza Mir (New Jersey).
Editorial Board: Ram Puniyani and Irfan Engineer (Mumbai); Pervez Hoodbhoy (Islamabad); Dolores Chew (Montreal); Vamsi Vakulabharanam (Amherst); Ajay Bhardwaj (Vancouver).
Circulation/website: Feroz Mehdi (On behalf of Alternatives, Montreal).

EDITORIAL: RAM MANDIR: THE UNHOLY UNION OF GOD AND GREED

Vinod Mubayi

Caught up in the incessant drumbeat of publicity created by the godi (lapdog) media that masquerades as Hindu religiosity, the goal of the consecration (pran pratishthan) ceremony on January 22 at the partially-constructed Ram Mandir in Ayodhya was always nakedly political – to manufacture the one Nation, One Leader image with Modi cast as the mythical Ram in preparation for the forthcoming national elections. The fact that this political goal was sought to be concealed under layers of religious myth pointedly illustrates the distance a supposedly secular state has drifted from its constitutional mooring.

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ANNUAL REPORT OF BANGLAR MANABADHIKAR SURAKSHA MANCHA (MASUM)

Overview

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) led Indian government continued with state policies that discriminate and stigmatise religious and other minorities resulting in increasing incidents of communal violence in many parts of the country. In Manipur more than hundred were killed in ethnic clashes. The police in many states have failed to properly investigate crimes against minorities on the other hand police and administrative officials responded by summarily punishing victims.

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MODI GOVERNMENT’S CRACKDOWN ON FCRA CRIPPLES CIVIL SOCIETY ORGANISATIONS

T.K. Rajalakshmi

As prominent NGOs face suspension and cancellation of foreign funding licences, activists see worrying trend of government silencing critical voices.

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RECASTING RAM: THE RAM TEMPLE AT AYODHYA IS A VEHICLE TO PROMOTE BRAHMINICAL SUPREMACY

Sagar

On 25 November 2023, Rambhadracharya, the high priest at a temple in the pilgrim town of Chitrakoot, in Madhya Pradesh, told a news channel that the Hindu god Ram had granted him a divine visitation one morning. He had woken up to relieve himself, he said, when Ram appeared before him in the form of a toddler, walked him to the bathroom and then back to his bedroom.

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THE STRUGGLE FOR PRISON REFORM IN PAKISTAN

Zille Huma, Maira Mumtaz and Johar Imam

Pakistan’s prisons remain terribly overcrowded and under-resourced, and nascent efforts at progressive reform are stymied by ingrained attitudes of discrimination, including against religious and ethnic minorities.

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A SINGLE HOLD-ALL MEASURE LIKE GDP IS A CAMOUFLAGING DEVICE

Prabhat Patnaik

It serves to hide the structural dichotomy introduced by imperialism — of growing urban-rural divide, gap between upper middle-income and working people, and large sector and MSMEs.

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ON PUNJAB: AN INTERVIEW WITH TARIQ ALI

Gurshamshir Singh Waraich

Tariq Ali discusses the place of Punjab — its partition, its politicians and activists, and its poetry and languages — in the history of the subcontinent.

On the occasion of the 75th anniversary of Punjab’s partition, Chandigarh-based journalist Gurshamshir Singh Waraich conducted a video interview with British-Pakistani activist and writer Tariq Ali.

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Greetings for the New Year!

EDITORIAL: AS 2024 DAWNS, INDIA SETS FIRM ON AUTOCRATIC COURSE

Vinod Mubayi

India has recently been dubbed an “electoral autocracy.” As 2024 arrives, the autocracy portion of that description acquires greater significance as every organ of the state from the police to the nominally independent investigative agencies, to the two national legislative bodies are being constantly weaponized by the ruling regime to target, attack and disempower all forms of dissent, whether political, social, or even cultural.

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ISRAEL KILLED THOUSANDS OF CHILDREN IN GAZA. HOW CAN SO MANY ISRAELIS REMAIN INDIFFERENT?

Amira Hass

The Gaza Strip is gradually being erased, along with its families, its people, its children, their smiles and laughter. What enables the majority of Jewish Israelis to support this systematic and mass erasure?

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INDIA TARGETS APPLE OVER ITS PHONE HACKING NOTIFICATIONS

Gerry Shih and Joseph Menn

A day after Apple warned independent Indian journalists and opposition party politicians in October that government hackers may have tried to break into their iPhones, officials under Prime Minister Narendra Modi promptly took action — against Apple.

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IN BANGLADESH’S SHAM ELECTION, THE ONLY REAL CONTEST IS GEOPOLITICAL

Kamal Ahmed

On 7 January, Bangladesh’s prime minister, Sheikh Hasina, is set to claim re-election in what some observers have called “staged polling”, the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) has termed a “dummy election” and The Economist has described as a “farce”. Desperate to avoid a genuine democratic exercise, Hasina’s government has preemptively removed its only real challenger from the field. More than twenty thousand BNP activists are behind bars, as are key BNP leaders, and the opposition party has decided to boycott the election rather than contest an unfair vote.

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RECOLONISING YOUNG MINDS VIA NEP

Prabhat Patnaik

Imperialist hegemony over the Third World is exercised not just through arms and economic might but also through the hegemony of ideas, by making the victims see the world the way imperialism wants them to see it. A pre-requisite for freedom in the Third World, therefore, is to shake off this colonisation of the mind, and to seek truth beyond the distortions of imperialism.

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MUZZLING THE PRESS

Kalpana Sharma

According to the 2023 report of Reporters Without Borders (RSF), India’s ranking in the World Press Freedom Index fell from 150 out of 180 countries to 161, a drop of 11 points within one year. What does this noticeable decline mean on the ground, in how media and journalists function, and what readers and viewers are served as news? And what are the actions of the government that have contributed to this decline?

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THE BJP’S FAR-FETCHED CONSPIRACY THEORIES ARE ENDANGERING THE SAFETY OF INDIANS ABROAD

Raju Rajagopal

The assassination of a Canadian Sikh citizen – allegedly at the behest of the Narendra Modi government – and its alleged plot to kill an American Sikh citizen are sending shock waves across the Sikh community and the larger Indian diaspora. Many believe that these two instances are merely the tip of the iceberg in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s plan to silence critics abroad, which now includes frontal attacks on Hindus for Human Rights (HfHR).

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EDITORIAL: CAN GENOCIDAL IMPULSES TURN INTO “HUMANITARIAN” PAUSES? THE MORAL FOG UNDERLYING THE STANCE OF ISRAEL AND SUPPORTING WORLD LEADERS ON GAZA

Vinod Mubayi

At the time of writing this editorial (Nov 28) a temporary 4-day pause now extended by 2 days has taken hold in the Israeli assault on the population of Gaza while exchanges of hostages in Hamas’s custody with some Palestinian women and children in Israeli prisons take place. Meanwhile, data on the number of Palestinian civilians Israel has killed shows that the toll is approaching genocidal proportions. The Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor estimates the toll to stand at 20,031 killed in Gaza, including 8,176 children. The Gaza Ministry of Health has stopped updating its own toll due to the breakdown of the communications and healthcare systems in Gaza, but the latest official toll from the Government Media Office in Gaza as of November 23 was 14,854 killed including 6,150 children, and more than 36,000 wounded in the Gaza Strip. This toll, however, did not take into account the (unknown) number of bodies buried beneath the rubble of buildings. There is also the continued killing in the last month of more than 200 Palestinians in the West Bank by fanatic Jewish settlers in league with Israeli army personnel along with the seizure of Palestinian property: olive tree plantations, lands and farms.

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WHY IS REFUGEE-FRIENDLY PAKISTAN EVICTING AFGHANS NOW?

Abdullah Zahid

In an internationally unprecedented move, Pakistan has imposed a steep $830 ‘exit permit fee’ per person on each refugee who fled the Taliban regime in Afghanistan since 2021 and is in Pakistan awaiting resettlement to another country.

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INDIA’S LAWLESS FINANCIAL CAPITALISM FOSTERS A CULTURE OF SCAMS

Ashoka Mody

Highlights

Scams have become a pervasive aspect of business in India, leading to significant economic and societal repercussions.

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PAPPU AND PANAUTI: ARE PERCEPTIONS OF RAHUL GANDHI AND NARENDRA MODI CHANGING?

Sidharth Bhatia

Rahul Gandhi’s term panauti (jinx), seems to have stung the BJP and Narendra Modi enough for the party to rush to the Election Commission (EC) to complain about it. Gandhi had initially not mentioned Modi by name, only implying that the presence of a panauti in Ahmedabad had caused India to lose the World Cup final against Australia, but later went full frontal.

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POLARIZED ON PALESTINE: HINDUTVA-ZIONISM AGAINST THIRD WORLD SOLIDARITY IN MODI’S INDIA

Dipsita Dhar

While Modi departs from India’s past anti-colonial solidarities to ally with Israel — which has asked for 100,000 workers to replace Palestinians — India’s working-class and student movements reaffirm their support for Palestine

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THE BROKEN COMPACT: MODI’S INDIA REPLACES CONSTITUTIONAL VALUES WITH THOSE OF THE RSS

Hartosh Singh Bal

This is an edited excerpt from a keynote address delivered at Stanford University, on 10 October, while accepting the 2023 Shorenstein Journalism Award on behalf of The Caravan.

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EDITORIAL: RSS, HINDUTVA AND ITS LEADERS CONSISTENTLY ON THE SIDE OF THE OPPRESSOR, AND MODI’S MORAL COWARDICE IN ABSTAINING IN UN VOTE ON CEASEFIRE, AS ISRAEL THREATENS A NEW NAKBA

Vinod Mubayi

As the horrific, genocidal slaughter of the civilian population continues in Gaza, with almost 10,000 killed including thousands of small children at the time of writing, public demonstrations by hundreds of thousands of people have taken place in all major cities in the world in favor of a ceasefire and a stop to the wanton killing by aerial bombardment along with the total siege of Gaza imposed by Israel. These rallies have occurred in Washington, DC, New York and London in the heart of the US and UK, countries that are the main backers of the Israeli government and in the case of the US its major arms supplier and financial patron for many decades. In the UN General Assembly, a large majority, 120 countries, that included even members of NATO such as France and Belgium, voted in favor of a ceasefire. Only 14 countries, including the US and Israel and a few Pacific Island countries, voted no.

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AMIDST THE MADNESS…

Beena Sarwar

We hold on to our core beliefs and values, refusing to descend to the level of those who seem to have lost their humanity.

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PALESTINIANS FACE GENOCIDE. NOW IS NOT THE TIME FOR ACADEMIC NEUTRALITY

Marcy Newman

I don’t hesitate to use the word genocide because I know that when Raphäel Lemkin defined the term in 1944, and when the United Nations adopted it four years later, they intended the crime to apply to any group of people who are being targeted because they comprise the same national, ethnic, racial or religious group. (Similarly, in the context of international law, the crime of apartheid is applicable beyond South Africa, where it originated, which is why it applies to Israel as well.)

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CERAS STANDS IN SOLIDARITY WITH PALESTINE! OCCUPATION MUST END NOW!

At this time CERAS (Centre sur l’asie du sud/South Asia Centre) stands in solidarity with Palestine and the Palestinian people.

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DO PALESTINIANS HAVE THE RIGHT TO RESIST? THE UNEQUIVOCAL ANSWER IS YES

Tariq Ali

As I write this, Gaza is still being bombed, its citizens massacred by a state that has dehumanised itself as well as its powerful supporters (Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is among the more recent apologists, and New Delhi is the only significant global city where there has been no demonstration against Israeli war crimes) over the years, each decade worse than the one before. There is no moral, political, or military equivalence as far as the two sides are concerned.

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STOP THE DEPORTATIONS: SOLIDARITY STATEMENT WITH AFGHANS IN PAKISTAN

Afghan Reparations Collective (ARC)

What’s Been Happening? Millions at Risk.

The government of Pakistan announced a deadline for all “undocumented Afghans” – essentially Afghans seeking refuge but denied this status by the government – to leave the country by November 1, 2023. The demands were qualified through unproven accusations of Afghans being involved in “terrorism.”

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LONG READ: THE GUPTA PAPERS: HOW THE MODI GOVERNMENT IS COVERING UP TWO DECADES OF DEFENCE CORRUPTION TO SAVE THE RAFALE DEAL

Nileena MS

{ONE}

ON A CLOUDLESS DAY in March 2012, an Audi sped along the highway connecting Milan and Lugano. Its two occupants, the 68-year-old Italian-American businessman Guido Ralph Haschke and his friend and business partner Carlo Gerosa, were scared. The Italian police had been zeroing in on them in its investigation of bribery allegations in the Indian government’s 2010 purchase of 12 helicopters—worth Rs 3,727 crore—from AgustaWestland, a subsidiary of the state-controlled defence company Finmeccanica, now called Leonardo.

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EDITORIAL: GANDHI ABROAD, GODSE AT HOME

Vinod Mubayi

The phrase Gandhi abroad, Godse at home, often used by progressives to describe the two-faced actions of the Modi regime, also reflects a pithy summary of its basic character. Said differently, lying is the essence of the Modi BJP’s approach to governance. [For those too young to remember, Godse, a Hindu fanatic and RSS member, assassinated the Mahatma on Jan 30, 1948. While Gandhi’s moral presence within India and the world is too large for the BJP or its top leaders like Modi, a long-term RSS preacher himself, to disown Gandhi publicly, what they say in private is very different and many in the BJP’s second-tier leadership, like Member of Parliament Pragya Thakur, do not hesitate to praise Godse and the motives for his action publicly]. Thus, Modi while addressing the US Congress in Washington, DC talked eloquently of India as the mother of democracy, but he has no hesitation in resorting to the most blatant anti-democratic actions at home as witnessed by the ongoing repression of the NewsClick journalists in India.

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NYT’S REPORT HAS BEEN WEAPONISED AGAINST INDIAN JOURNALISTS

Kavita Krishnan

NewsClick’s founder and editor-in-chief Prabir Purakayastha was arrested on Tuesday.

In August 2023, The New York Times published a story “A Global Web of Chinese Propaganda Leads to a U.S. Tech Mogul”. The story investigated whether Chinese funding was being funnelled to advocacy and media organisations across the world to defend the internal authoritarianism of the Chinese state. One of the countries included was India, with a fleeting reference to an Indian digital news organisation NewsClick, which the report said “sprinkled its coverage with Chinese government talking points”.

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IN MODI’S INDIA, THE PRESS IS MORE IMPERILLED THAN EVER

N Ram

The Indian constitution guarantees “freedom of speech and expression” for its citizens. This is a fundamental right. But based on the assault against the free press in India in recent times, you wouldn’t know it.

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MONTREAL-BASED INDIAN DIASPORA GROUPS CALL OUT MODI GOVERNMENT’S ATTEMPT TO SOW SEEDS OF HATE AND FEAR AMONGST THEM

CERAS (Centre sur l’asie du sud/South Asia Centre)

As a direct challenge to India telling its citizens travelling to or living in Canada to “exercise utmost caution”, Montreal-based Indian diaspora groups held a speak-out to put the lie to this politics of hate and fear.

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WE MUST OPPOSE INDIAN HINDU NATIONALIST FORCES IN CANADA

M. V. Ramana and Harsha Walia

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has revealed there is “credible evidence” of India’s involvement in the killing of Canadian Sikh leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar in Canada. This is part of a dangerous trend of Indian interference in Canada, particularly escalating under India’s current ruling party that is supported by Hindu supremacist groups (also known as Hindutva).

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SOLIDARITY VIGIL FOR PAKISTANI CHRISTIANS, MASIHI, IN MONTREAL

Montreal, 8 September 2023 – Close to 200 people gathered in Montreal, Canada on the afternoon of 2nd September 2023 to demonstrate their solidarity with the Pakistani Masihi community (Pakistani Christians) who were brutally attacked on 16th August  in Jaranwala, Pakistan.  Those gathered expressed outrage at this attack, the latest in a long history of attacks on Masihi and other minorities over the years and they held the Pakistani state responsible for not ensuring the safety and security of its citizens.

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ECOFASCISM IS A RISING THREAT. WE SHOULD TAKE MODI’S ASCENDANCE AS A WARNING

Azeezah Kanji

As the walls of global climate apartheid solidify, the barriers to climate refugees intensify, and “ecofascist” mass killings multiply, the enduring acceptability of fascist politics is disturbingly apparent in the amazing reincarnation of India’s far right Hindu nationalist (Hindutva) regime on the world stage.

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BUILDING COMMUNITIES BASED ON EMPATHY

Irfan Engineer

Representatives of over a dozen Muslim groups met on 6th September 2023 and decided to defer the Eid-e-Milad procession, which has traditionally taken out on Prophet Mohammed’s birth anniversary, by a day this year and take out the same on 29th September instead of 28th September, in order to avoid inconvenience and trouble to the public with Ganesh Chaturthi and immersion processions, which is also on 28th September.

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EDITORIAL: MODI REGIME OFFICIAL LOFTS TRIAL BALLOON AIMED AT TRASHING THE CONSTITUTION

Vinod Mubayi

Bibek Debroy, Chairman of the Prime Minister’s Council of Economic Advisers, appear to have lofted a trial balloon to “embrace a new Constitution.” In an article in the Mint of August 15, Debroy stated bluntly “We the People have to give ourselves a new Constitution.” As part of this effort, he asserted “We should go back to the drawing board” and more ominously asked “what these words in the Preamble mean: socialist, secular, democratic, justice, liberty and equality.” One can understand that a devotee of markets like Debroy may want to remove the word “socialism” from the Constitution; one can also comprehend that the word “secular” is anathema to a Modi regime official; but is the regime also proposing to jettison democracy, liberty, justice and equality? Is that a kind of Freudian slip on Debroy’s part or does it, intentionally or not, reflect something more sinister?

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MANIPUR’S SILENT SUFFERING AND THE BROKEN PROMISES OF ‘PEACE’

Kishalay Bhattacharjee

First came the scream of the dying

in a bad dream, then the radio report,

and a newspaper: six shot dead, twenty-five

houses razed, sixteen beheaded with hands tied

behind their backs inside a church.

As the day crumbled, and the victors

and their victims grew in number,

I hardened inside my thickening hide,

until I lost my tenuous humanity.

— Robin S. Ngangom from My Invented Land.

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FASCISM AND BIG BUSINESS

Prabhat Patnaik

Fascistic elements exist in every modern society, but usually as fringe, marginal or minor elements. They move centre-stage only when they get the support of monopoly capital which provides them with ample money and media coverage; and this happens when there is a capitalist crisis that substantially increases unemployment and puts a question mark on the hegemony enjoyed by monopoly capital until then.

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BALOCHISTAN’S DEADLY CONFLUENCE OF SEPARATIST INSURGENCY AND ISLAMIST MILITANCY

Salman Rafi Sheikh

On 12 July, in the Zhob and Sui districts of Balochistan, the Pakistan Army lost 12 soldiers in two attacks claimed by Tehreek-e-Jihad Pakistan – said to be an outgrowth of the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), an affiliate of the Afghan Taliban.

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ON ‘THE KASHMIR FILES: UNREPORTED’, ‘GADAR 2’ AND ‘OMG 2’: THE ANATOMY OF HATE NARRATIVES AND A REASON FOR HOPE

Anuj Kumar

Art binds people to each other but sometimes when prejudice starts informing the craft, cinema becomes a tool to shape hostile propaganda against a community. Some are blunt, others are sharp. In the last couple of weeks, we watched two varieties in the form of The Kashmir Files: Unreported and the much-anticipated sequel to Sunny Deol’s Gadar.

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MOULDING THE PAST: WRITING HISTORY FOR CHILDREN IN THE TIMES OF HISTORICAL REVISIONISM

Parni Ray

On a hot Monday morning in April, a dozen of us were sitting in a classroom at Kolkata’s Institute of Development Studies, watching the pata artist and illustrator Siraj Chitrakar sketch on a blackboard. We were there to attend a workshop for the second instalment of the Itihase Hatekhari—First History Lessons—book series. Chitrakar was sharing an idea for a page layout. First published in 2022, the series consists of short, illustrated and easy-to-read history books for middle-school students.

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EXTREME MISOGYNY

Mahir Ali

THE latest chapter in the Taliban’s crusade against women was unveiled this week, when at least 60 potential scholars expecting to be accommodated at a university in Dubai were turned away from Kabul airport. It followed a series of similar gestures that have stretched from stripping the right of girls to secondary or higher education, to bans on women working for aid agencies and a ban on hair and beauty parlours.

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EDITORIAL: HYPOCRISY, DECEIT, AND DIVISIVENESS: HALLMARKS OF THE REGIME RULING INDIA TODAY. WHERE IS THE NATION HEADED?

Vinod Mubayi

It is a measure of the insanity of our time that Narendra D. Modi is hailed as a vishwaguru (world-guru) and embraced unconditionally and unabashedly by the leaders of the United States and France at a time when the state of Manipur is on the verge of civil war, minorities, in particular Muslims but to an increasing extent Christians as well, are randomly assaulted and butchered by uniformed policemen, no less, spouting Hindutva slogans exalting Modi and his henchman Yogi, all while Modi maintains a strategic silence on the crimes perpetrated by his enthusiastic followers and supporters.

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HAS POLICE INACTION AND ADMINISTRATIVE FAILURE FUELLED THE COMMUNAL CLASHES IN HARYANA’S NUH?

Ismat Ara

As the sun dawns over Haryana’s Nuh on August 1, the lanes seem deserted. An eerie silence has befallen the district’s once-bustling villages. The markets are shut, and the quiet is only punctured by the presence of the police personnel, who are swarmed everywhere in thousands.

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REMEMBERING RANA PLAZA: POLITICS ON SOUTH ASIA’S FACTORY FLOOR

The Jamhoor Collective and Guest Editor Mihika Chatterjee

On April 24th 2013, the eight-storeyed Rana Plaza building housing multiple garment factories in Dhaka, Bangladesh collapsed to the ground. Over 1,000 workers, the majority of them women between the ages of 18 to 25, were trapped, burned, or crushed as the building turned to rubble. Thousands more, both factory workers and rescue personnel, experienced damaging injuries and trauma that devastated their lives irreversibly.

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PAKISTAN’S IMF BAILOUT IS NOT WITHOUT POLITICAL CONSEQUENCES

Salman Rafi Sheikh

The deal enhances the IMF’s economic and also political footprint, but leaves civil-military relations untouched and widens the gap between the elites and the masses.

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BAJRANG DAL: THE AGGRESSIVE ARM OF HINDUTVA

Nistula Hebbar

The recent violence in Haryana’s Nuh, following the Brij Mandal Jalabhishek Yatra, sometimes referred to as Shobha Yatra, in which six people were killed and 70 others injured, has shifted the spotlight, once again, on the Bajrang Dal, an offshoot of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP).

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IMRAN KHAN SENTENCED TO PRISON, LIKELY DASHING HOPES OF POLITICAL COMEBACK

Salman Masood and Christina Goldbaum

The former prime minister of Pakistan was taken into custody, sentenced to three years after a court found him guilty of illegally selling state gifts and concealing the assets.

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LONG READ: FIRE AND BLOOD: HOW THE BJP IS ENABLING ETHNIC CLEANSING IN MANIPUR

Greeshma Kuthar

{ONE}

“I DIDN’T shut up. I asked them how they can behave like this with another woman,” an 18-year-old Kuki woman told me, recalling her abduction and assault, in which Meira Paibis had played a major part. The Meira Paibis—the name translates to “torch-bearing women”—are a Meitei civil-society movement that rose to prominence through their protests against the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, which grants the military sweeping powers. In the ethnic violence that has engulfed Manipur over the past three months, pitting the majority Meitei community against members of Kuki tribes, who constitute a quarter of the population, the Meira Paibis have helped Meitei mobs target Kukis throughout the Imphal Valley and its surrounding foothills.

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EDITORIAL: MANIPUR CONTINUES TO BURN WHILE MODI AND BIDEN EMBRACED IN THE US

Vinod Mubayi

The sensitive border state of Manipur in India’s North-East region that borders Myanmar (formerly Burma) has been engulphed in violence since May 4, 2023 that has killed hundreds, injured thousands and shows little signs of abating. In the almost two months since the violence began, Prime Minister Modi has not deigned to visit Manipur and neither has he said a word in public about the situation or the plight of the people in this state that is ruled by his party, the BJP.

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RESURGENT MILITARY AUTHORITARIANISM IN PAKISTAN

Jamhoor Editorial

We at Jamhoor strongly condemn the violent and authoritarian crackdowns by Pakistan’s government and military establishment in response to the events that unfolded on May 9th 2023. These actions — including the use of extreme surveillance technologies, internet blackouts, enforced disappearances of dissenting journalists and activists, and prosecution of civilians in military courts — will further entrench the militarization of society and ultimately threaten democratic and progressive forces across the country.

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TARGETING OF KUKIS THE MAIN REASON BEHIND MANIPUR VIOLENCE

Angshuman Choudhury

Highlights

The N. Biren Singh government dismissed serious Kuki grievances for years, allowing their discontent to reach boiling point.

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HOW ANTI-CASTE ACTIVISM IN THE UNITED STATES HAS GROWN OVER FOUR DECADES

Aathira Konikkara

On 11 May 2023, the California State Senate passed SB 403, a bill introduced by Senator Aisha Wahab. It aims to add caste as a protected category to the state’s existing laws that prohibit exclusionary practices in housing, employment, and education.

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MODI VISIT TO US: GLORIFYING SUBALTERN STATUS

Editorial in “People’s Democracy”

THE outcome of the Modi visit to the United States has made one thing clear – India has become more cemented to the United States in a strategic and military relationship.

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TO DEAL WITH IMRAN KHAN, PAKISTAN DESCENDS INTO AUTOCRACY

Salman Rafi Sheikh

On 19 June, a district and sessions court in Islamabad sent the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) leader and former state interior minister Shehryar Afridi to Rawalpindi’s Adiala jail on a 14-day judicial remand in a case related to the 9 May riots.

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DAWN TO DUSK ON THE CORNER WHERE BANGLADESHI BROOKLYN GATHERS

Jonah Markowitz, Karen Zraick and Samira Asma-Sadeque

The photographer Jonah Markowitz spent more than two years immersed in the Bangladeshi community of Kensington, Brooklyn for this project, and was joined in the reporting and writing process by Karen Zraick and Samira Asma-Sadeque.

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INDIA’S CODING PRODIGIES VERSUS HIGH DROP-OUT RATES

Nidhi C and Soham Bhattacharya

Social media platforms are filled with advertisements that promise to “Teach Your Child Programming Today!” Watch them, and you would find ten or twelve year old marvels building complex algorithms that solve everyday problems.

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EDITORIAL: STUNG BY THE HUMILIATING LOSS IN KARNATAKA, MODI’S AUTOCRATIC RULE FINDS OTHER TARGETS

Vinod Mubayi

Despite the hundreds of crores spent in showering rose petals on Modi during his roadshows in Bengaluru, Karnataka voters were determined to make South India a BJP-mukt region by bringing Congress back to power with an insurmountable majority. As a result, BJP’s well-honed defection tactics used to topple elected governments that have succeeded in other states like Madhya Pradesh and Goa, and were recently employed to split the Shiv Sena in Maharashtra, appeared to have been rendered futile by the scale of the Congress victory.

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OBITUARY: RANA BOSE 1950-2023

Dolores Chew

INSAF mourns the passing of Rana who died on 10th May in Montreal.  His death, a great loss for family, friends and comrades, is also a loss for the politics of justice and democracy.

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AGGRESSORS CLAIM HURT SENTIMENTS WHILE VICTIMS FACE TRIAL

Subhash Gatade

History is a thin excuse for unrelenting majoritarianism in India and its neighbourhood.

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THE END OF THE AFFAIR: HOW IMRAN KHAN WENT FROM THE PAKISTAN ARMY’S SAVIOUR TO ITS NEMESIS

Mohammed Hanif

For many years, Pakistan’s military establishment believed that in Imran Khan they had found a saviour for the country. But, writes author and journalist Mohammed Hanif, after only a year out of power he is threatening to become their nemesis – and the military is using all its might to save itself from Khan’s wrath.

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BANGLADESH: CRISIS OF IDENTITY, CONSOLIDATION OF POWER

Nafis H

In the latest iteration of the Bengali vs Muslim identity debate, a Supreme Court lawyer served a legal notice on April 9, 2023 to Bangladeshi authorities to prohibit the Mongol Shobhajatra – the iconic procession for Bengali New Year (Noboborsho) – from taking place as part of the celebrations on April 14.

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THE DANGERS OF FACIAL-RECOGNITION TECHNOLOGY IN INDIAN POLICING

Nikhil Dharmaraj

CCTV cameras and facial recognition systems are surveillance tools that carry on the legacy of analogue technologies in stereotyping and targeting specific communities.

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LONG READ: VINAYAK DAMODAR SAVARKAR: FOUNTAINHEAD OF FUNDAMENTALISM IN INDIA

B. Jeyamohan

Popular discussions about Vinayak Damodar Savarkar tend to either be hagiographic or vilify, depending on the speaker’s political, religious, or caste affiliations. In contemporary political discourse, every argument is reduced to a one-line snippet, a monolithic stance, a catchy sound bite stripped of all nuance.

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SCEPTRE IN PARLIAMENT SYMBOLISES ROD OF FASCISM

MB Rajesh

Beginning with the dominance of PM Narendra Modi as he overrode the President in the new Parliament building inauguration, Kerala Minister Rajesh went on to associate the many changes brought on by the BJP as symbols of fascism.

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We wish our readers Revolutionary May Day Greetings!

EDITORIAL: GLOBAL WARMING FROM FOSSIL FUELS IS A VIRULENT SYMPTOM OF THE UNDERLYING DISEASE: GLOBAL CAPITALISM

Vinod Mubayi

For the last three decades, there has been an increasing recognition of the extremely damaging and deleterious effect on the earth’s climate and environment of the emission of greenhouse gases (GHG), such as carbon dioxide, from anthropogenic activity that poses a severe threat to the long-term survival of the human species. While discussions of this phenomenon used to be carried out a few decades earlier mostly in scientific journals, the words global warming are now ubiquitous in the popular media and the word “green” is now attached to all kinds of technology or activity as an attribute of environmental virtue.

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SPEECH DELIVERED AT HSF EVENT IN VANCOUVER ON APRIL 1, 2023

Vinod Mubayi

Dear Brother Zahid, distinguished guests, old comrades and friends:

I feel very honored and privileged to be invited to attend and address this gathering this evening. Insaf Bulletin, that now has a record of 21 years of uninterrupted monthly publication was started in April 2002 by our much loved departed comrade Prof Daya Varma in April 2002. I joined him as co-editor two months later. After Daya’s passing in 2015, Raza Mir joined me as co-editor and along with Feroz Mehdi our circulation manager in Montreal have been integral to keeping the Bulletin going.

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OBITUARY: VIVAN SUNDARAM (1943-2023) 

Peter White 

Vivan Sundaram, an artist whose leadership was instrumental for the deep commitment of recent generations of Indian artists to a secular and pluralist state, passed away at age seventy-nine on March 29 in New Delhi. As his fellow artist Nalini Malani said in tribute, Sundaram was “an artist who truly lived the ideology he believed in.”  

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STATEMENT BY HISTORIANS AND CONCERNED SCHOLARS ON RECENT CHANGES MADE BY NCERT IN TEXTBOOKS

Aditya Nigam

Received via Maya John, the following statement was issued by over 250 historians and concerned scholars, protesting against the blatantly ideologically driven agenda of the present government in deleting chapters and sections of the school textbooks.

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‘RATIONALIZATION’ OF TEXT BOOKS OR COMMUNALIZATION OF POLITY?

Ram Puniyani

Text books of schools are also a site of contestation between differing versions of nationalism. The two inheritors of colonial India, India and Pakistan show this in a parallel and opposite ways. In Pakistan since the country came up in the name of Islam, it taught a history in schools which began with Mohammad bin Kasim ruling in Sind in eight century. The Hindu kings and Hindus are shown in a poor light to the extent that an average child in Pakistan school will refer to a Hindu in a very derogatory way.

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PAKISTAN: THE EROSION OF UNIONS

Zeenat Hisam

Unions perform multiple economically valuable functions… — Richard B. Freeman

IN times of erosion of trust in our institutions — parliament, the judiciary, army and the state — it is challenging to talk about labour unions struggling on the fringes for decades and held in low esteem by our elite and in mass opinion.

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LONG READ 1: THE BIG CON: MODI’S INDIA AND THE NEW WORLD ORDER

Pankaj Mishra

Early in January, Gautam Adani, an Indian businessman and associate of India’s prime minister, Narendra Modi, was the world’s third richest man. By the end of the month he had lost much of his fortune, after being accused by the US-based research investment firm Hindenburg Research of pulling the ‘largest con in corporate history’.

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LONG READ 2: THE GENERALS AND THEIR CAPTAIN: WHAT IMRAN KHAN’S ASCENT DID TO PAKISTAN

Khurram Husain

By all standards, it was a tumultuous day in Pakistan’s parliament. Less than a month earlier, in July 2018, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf, led by cricket-captain-turned-politician Imran Khan, had won a majority in the National Assembly elections. On 17 August, Khan rose to make his inaugural speech before the house as its newly elected prime minister.

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EDITORIAL: COUNTERING HINDUTVA IN NORTH AMERICA BY OUTLAWING CASTE DISCRIMINATION

Vinod Mubayi

The passage of a law banning caste discrimination by the Seattle City Council a month ago on Feb 24 by a 6-1 margin was spearheaded by the India-born socialist member of the Council Kshama Sawant. It was followed less than 2 weeks later by a Toronto, Canada, district school board (TDSB) motion that passed by a 16-5 margin to make caste a protected category like race, gender and sexuality. The TDSB motion was sponsored, inter alia, by Dalit feminist school board trustee Yalini Rajakulasingam.

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‘THE ELEPHANT WHISPERERS’ AND THE DISINGENUITY OF HINDU AMERICAN FOUNDATION’S ATTEMPT TO CO-OPT ADIVASIS

Raju Rajagopal

In a recent tweet, Suhag Shukla of the Hindu American Foundation (HAF) claimed that the portrayal of Bomman and Ellie in the documentary “The Elephant Whisperers” underscores Hinduism’s “inarguable indigeneity.”

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BHENDI BAZAAR: BEYOND UNDERWORLD DONS, A PARADISE FOR ARTISTS

Neha Dabhade

“Bhendi Bazaar should not be known by Dawood Ibrahim but by Dawood Dalvi, a professor who taught humanities in London, not Chota Shakil but Shakil Badayuni, famous poet and song writer”, was the key take away from the cultural walk of Bhendi Bazaar named as Manto walk.

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THE UKRAINE CONFLICT AND THE PEACE QUESTION

Ranabir Samaddar

1.What do we mean by constituent peace in the context of the Ukraine War? What will peace constitute so that it becomes a constituent power? This is important if any suggestion to launch a peace initiative has to go forward.

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WEAPONISING THE DEFAMATION LAW: A CLOSER LOOK AT THE RAHUL GANDHI VERDICT

Sanjay Hegde

According to an apocryphal story from the erstwhile Soviet Union, a peasant stood in the market square and shouted that the minister for agriculture was a fool. He was sentenced to 10 years and one month of imprisonment. The one month was for defaming the minister and the 10 years were for revealing a state secret. The lesser penalty was for the actual act, the greater penalty was for the impact.

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PAKISTAN ECONOMY UNRAVELS AS IMF IMPOSES EVER HARSHER CONDITIONS

Sampath Perera

Even as Pakistan’s government implements brutal International Monetary Fund-dictated austerity measures, the US-dominated international lender is pushing for even more sweeping “reforms” before allowing Islamabad access to a previously agreed tranche of $1.1 billion from a 2019 loan.

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HISTORY: THE RISE AND FALL OF THE PROGRESSIVE WRITERS’ MOVEMENT

Misha Zafar

One of the most significant literary movements to emerge from India — the All-India Progressive Writers’ Movement (AIPWM) — had its roots in the political revolution that formed the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) in 1917 and its consolidation.

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LONG READ: MODI’S MESSENGER: S JAISHANKAR AS THE VOICE OF INDIA’S HINDU NATIONALIST FOREIGN POLICY

Eram Agha

WHEN THE FOREIGN SECRETARY, Sujatha Singh, got a call from the external-affairs minister’s office in January 2015, she knew something was up. Sushma Swaraj wanted to set up a meeting for 2 pm on 28 January but would not say what the meeting was about.

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EDITORIAL: THE OBSCENE MILITARY OCCUPATION OF KASHMIR NOW MORPHING INTO A SETTLER COLONIAL STATE

Vinod Mubayi

One has read and heard about it, seen videos and pictures of it, and listened to people describing it. But nothing quite prepares one for the deeply jarring experience of seeing it up close in person. Especially to an older viewer who has been absent for over half a century from the area where a good part of his early years was spent. All military occupations are brutal assertions of political authority. Each checkpoint whether in the city or countryside is a symbol of raw power; the occupier humiliating the occupied. The rolls of barbed wire, the masked soldiers cradling their Uzis, stopping vehicles and ordering their occupants to dismount reminded the viewer driving the 40-50 km from Srinagar to Sopore of nothing so much as a drive across the West Bank fifteen years ago from the Jordanian border to Ramallah and Jerusalem. Despite differences in history and context, what India is doing in Kashmir is little different from what Israel does in Palestine.

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RSS IN CANADA: EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) is an India-based organization that sits at the core of a large network of groups seeking to remake India into a country run by and for Hindus first at the expense of the country’s dizzying slew of minority groups. It has domestic and international organs that seize political power, perpetuate its supremacist ideologies, and actively participate in communal violence. This outlook is commonly known as “Hindutva.”

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BUDGET SQUEEZES THE POOR TO GIVE THE 1%

Mritiunjoy Mohanty and Sushil Khanna

Budgets in India are a time when governments lay out their report on the state of the economy and pronounce policy platitudes in terms of the greater good they think will justify the taxes they impose on its citizens. But beneath the platitudes of the policy slogans  and couplets Finance Ministers regale parliament with, lie the contours of a struggle where different classes and groups struggle to extract their pound of flesh.

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PARESH CHATTOPADHYAY (1927–2023): SINGLENESS OF PURPOSE

Bernard D’Mello

The eminent Marxian socialist scholar and critic of Lenin’s Marxism, Paresh Chattopadhyay (PC) passed away on January 14, 2023, in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. He was emeritus professor of political economy in the department of sociology at the University of Quebec, Montreal. With a mastery of Marx in the original and an admirable presentation of Marx’s thought, PC made his readers think and reflect over what he wrote.

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HIRE AND FIRE AT WILL: WHAT DO GLOBAL TECH LAY-OFFS MEAN FOR INDIA?

T.K. Rajalakshmi

Will 2017’s nightmare year for India’s IT industry return in 2023?

It was a New Year gift that the employees of Big Tech did not see coming. By the end of January, the CEOs of many technology companies had announced massive workforce cuts in the US and they have triggered a crisis that industry insiders say is likely to continue until the end of 2023.

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AN ‘UNREAL CITY’ WITH REAL PROBLEMS: DHAKA’S DREADFUL URBAN PLANNING

Anika Saba and Shamiul Hossain

At a time when Dhaka city is slowly being stripped bare of its precious greenery, as mindless landfilling goes unabated with a huge number of trees already felled for building homes, the government entities who are supposed to fight for saving breathing spaces have been caught napping, failing to allay worries of environmentalists. Besides, newspaper reports on ‘modernising’ a historical park – Suhrawardy Udyan – by uprooting hundreds of old trees have only fuelled speculation that the authorities hardly care for the city environment.

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ISLAMABAD: AURAT AZADI JALSA DEMANDS ECONOMIC, LAND REFORMS

Ikram Junaidi

A large number of activists, including members of trade unions, gathered at F-9 Park on Sunday to take part in ‘Aurat Azadi Jalsa’ organised by the Women Democratic Front (WDF) and Aurat Azadi March to commemorate the 113th International Working Women Day.

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WHAT INDIAN MEDIA DIDN’T TELL US ABOUT FAIZ FESTIVAL IN LAHORE

Shiv Inder Singh

The Indian media widely publicised the Faiz Festival 2023 held in Lahore, Pakistan, between 17 and February 19, after the famous Indian lyricist Javed Akhtar, who attended the event, said in response to a question that the accused in the 26/11 Mumbai terrorist attack are roaming freely in Pakistan. India’s media published this remark with sensational headlines such as ‘Javed Akhtar Tells Pakistan Off Clearly’, and ‘Javed Akhtar Entered Pakistan and Thrashed it’. However, the headlines and stories never mentioned that Akhtar’s audience, primarily Pakistanis, also clapped at this remark.

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EDITORIAL: CULT OF PERSONALITY BOOMS AS THE COUNTRY SINKS INTO A MORASS OF AUTHORITARIANISM AND REPRESSION

Vinod Mubayi

His picture is literally everywhere. On bus stops, railroad stations, airports, even on the back of airplane seats, not to mention vaccine cards, ration cards, and God knows what else. Big Brother is not only watching you; he is also your only succor. Few leaders in recent memory and certainly not in India have had as supersized an ego as to have a 100,000-seat sports stadium named after them while alive and in office. So, the Modi cult of personality on the lines of 20th century authoritarian leaders like Hitler or Stalin is not just blooming; it is booming.

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WHITEWASHING CASTE: HOW INDIAN IMMIGRANTS USED RELIGION AND CASTE TO NATURALISE AS WHITE IN THE US

Hardeep Dhillon

ON 6 SEPTEMBER 1915, 22-year-old Kala Bagai arrived at Angel Island aboard the SS Korea with her husband and three sons. Kala carried a material archive of her life in her luggage: gold ornaments, a portrait of herself, a sky-blue silk sari reserved for special occasions. Kala had carefully chosen the valuables, knowing her husband, Vaishno Das Bagai, intended to establish a home in the United States.

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SRI LANKA IS CALM AGAIN. THAT DOESN’T MEAN THINGS ARE ANY BETTER

Mujib Mashal and Skandha Gunasekara

On the surface, calm has returned to Sri Lanka since the South Asian nation plunged into political chaos and virtual bankruptcy last summer. Gone are the fuel lines that snaked for blocks; a seaside expanse that had been the site of a monthslong protest encampment was resplendent over the holidays with Christmas lights and carnival rides.

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AURAT, AZADI: FEMINISM AND ITS FUTURE IN PAKISTAN

An interview with Ismat Shahjahan on the dynamics and contestations in Pakistan’s growing feminist movement.

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CHRISTOPHE JAFFRELOT ON 2002 GUJARAT RIOTS: ‘THE GHOSTS HAVE NEVER LEFT ME’

Anupama Katakam

Jaffrelot was one of those the BBC interviewed for the documentary “India: The Modi Question”.

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HOW GAUTAM ADANI MADE (AND COULD LOSE) A $147 BILLION FORTUNE

Stacy Meichtry

AHMEDABAD, India—Gautam Adani is ubiquitous in this country.

His name is plastered on roadside billboards and on the airports and shipping docks he operates. His power plants light Mumbai office towers and irrigate rural fields, fueled by coal he imports from mines as far away as Australia. He recently expanded into defense and media.

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DOES PATHAAN’S PHENOMENAL SUCCESS MARK THE START OF A PUSHBACK AGAINST HATE?

Shuma Raha

The verdict was out on the very day of its release. Pathaan, the Shah Rukh Khan starrer, was set to be a blockbuster. And so it is – in the first week after it hit the theatres, the film has grossed over Rs 600 crore worldwide, and over Rs 300 crore in the domestic market.

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EDITORIAL: SOUTH ASIA ON THE BRINK: MALIGN CONSEQUENCES OF THE TWO-NATION THEORY

Vinod Mubayi

O, what a fall was there my countrymen,

Then I, and you, and all of us fell down

Whilst bloody treason flourish’d over us

This Shakesperean lament over the fate of a country is a fitting coda to the situation South Asia finds itself in at this juncture: 75 years after the Partition of British ruled India into two states on the basis of religious identity defined by the so-called two-nation theory.

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BULLDOZERS, DISCRIMINATORY LAWS AND DEMONIZATION OF MINORITIES: COMMUNAL VIOLENCE 2022

Irfan Engineer and Neha Dabhade

The Hindu right wing weaponized Hindu festivals to foment communal rights in 2022, according to the monitoring of Centre for Study of Society and Secularism (CSSS) based on the reports that appeared in three English newspapers of The Hindu, Indian Express and Times of India. In the year 2022, these newspapers reported 40 incidents of communal riots in India.

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FORCIBLE CONVERSIONS IN NARAYANPUR AND CHHATTISGARH

Irfan Engineer

PART 1

The Hindu nationalists have quite successfully propagated that Christians are converting Hindus with either inducements, fraud or through coercion on such a large scale that there would be a demographic imbalance sooner rather than later.

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GREEN HERRING: WHY INDIA’S POLITICAL LEADERSHIP IS BRAGGING ABOUT WINNING A WAR WITH PAKISTAN

Sushant Singh

In October 2022, Narendra Modi donned battle fatigues and boasted of military preparedness while spending a few hours with soldiers in Kargil, where India and Pakistan last fought a limited war in 1999. COURTESY PRESS INFORMATION BUREAU

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HINDU SOCIETY IS AT WAR, NATURAL FOR PEOPLE TO BE AGGRESSIVE: RSS CHIEF MOHAN BHAGWAT

The Wire Analysis

The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh sarsanghchalak, Mohan Bhagwat, in words that rationalise and almost justify the sharp rise in communal temperature as well as mob impunity over the past few years, told the Organiser in an interview; “Hindu society has been at war for over 1000 years – this fight has been going on against foreign aggressions, foreign influence and foreign conspiracies. Sangh has offered its support to this cause, there are many who have spoken about it. And it is because of all these that the Hindu society has awakened. It is but natural for people those at war to be aggressive.”

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UNPACKING DIGITAL BANGLADESH

Zara Rahman

On 12 December 2021, Bangladeshi media highlighted the country’s digital policy achievements to commemorate 13 years to the day since Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina first called for a ‘Digital Bangladesh’.

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BOOK REVIEW: ‘UNVEILING JAZBAA’ CAPTURES THE UNDYING SPIRIT OF PAKISTAN WOMEN’S CRICKET

Abhinav Chakraborty

Unveiling Jazbaa: A History of Pakistan Women’s Cricket

By Aayush Puthran

Westland Sport

Pages: 288

Price: Rs.599

A great book about sport, they say, is never just about sport.

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THE ANATOMY OF URDU: HOW THE LANGUAGE OF STATE-MAKING IN PAKISTAN CONTRIBUTES TO THE ERASURE OF REGIONAL LANGUAGES

Hurmat Ali Shah

A language doesn’t belong to its people. But perhaps people belong to a language. I belong to Urdu as much as I belong to Pashto or English. Language carries cultural-historical memory and, by extension, collective human wisdom. It makes us human.

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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!

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