‘Our aim is to build a society which will not be bound by the dictates of arbitrary authority, comfortable superstition, stifling tradition, or suffocating orthodoxy but would rather be based on reason, compassion, humanity, equality and science’.
- Avijit Roy
“Dr Dabholkar who was fighting against superstition was assasinated because he was a rationalist. All such people who have embarked upon a path of reason and rationalism, propagated these ideas, had to make tremendous sacrifices. Dr Dabholkar was not the first and would not be the last person who sacrificed himself on the altar of rationalism. This unending struggle between rationalism and irrationalism is going on since ages and it is for you to decide whether it needs change or not.”
- Comrade Pansare
Words, ideas scare fundoos rather fundamentalists of every kind, colour and stripe.
The mere possibility that a free mind can question, challenge and ultimately upturn the ‘ultimate truth’ the faithful have received through their ‘holy books’ rather unnerves them and they react in the only way they are familiar with. Resort to machetes to take on ideas or use meat cleavers to deal with unchained minds, quoting sanction from the same ‘books of wisdom’. Read more…
Guest Post by JUHI TYAGI AND KARN KOWSHIK
When most tourists visit New York City, what they see is the New York that you see on TV – Times Square, Carnegie Hall, a Broadway Show and maybe a visit to the Legendary Soup Nazi. Our view of the City, though, was vastly different. As one of the authors visited New York for the first time, in the wake of cop killings of young black men in Ferguson, Staten Island and East NY, what we saw was the transformation of neighbourhoods into armed police camps, and a city torn by sharp racial divide.
Maybe our experience of New York was coloured by where we lived and spent most of our time. A tiny apartment on the same street as the 79th Precinct in Brooklyn; not far from where two NYPD officers were shot dead by a mentally unstable man in December 2014. In many of these neighbourhoods, the first piece of advice you got wasn’t about the coolest neighbourhood bar. It was: “On the streets, don’t run, don’t make sudden movements. If a cop stops you, keep your hands out of your pockets and don’t talk back. You don’t want to get shot.”
Guest Post by ABDUL BARI
Avijit Roy was brutally murdered in Dhaka a few days ago. His wife, after heroically trying to shield his person with her own body, now lies in an ICU bed, fighting for her life. I was an infrequent visitor to his website, Muktomona. Visiting it was like running your tongue over that tooth you’re missing, or reflexively checking whether you had your keys with you in the morning. Its presence was a reminder that, no matter how circumscribed, the nation-state of Bangladesh still had men and women who liked to think unconventional thoughts; give expression to unpopular ideas; endeavored to stand, as it is, in the very edge of what the societal limit of what could be expressed, and then take another firm step, not back, but forward. Read more…
We strongly condemn the unprecedented communal violence at the end of January 2015, in Tuneri, Vellur and Kodanjeri villages, Nadapuram in Kozhikode, Kerala, in which more than a hundred Muslim families and homes were singled out, attacked, and crores worth of property destroyed. We are utterly horrified and outraged that violence of this extent has received scant attention from the media — electronic, print or even social.
On 22 January 2015, a local murder was instantly transformed into a communal conflict. Shibin Bhaskaran, a 19-year-old DYFI activist, resident of Vellur, a village dominated by the Communist Party of India (Marxist) — CPI(M) — was stabbed to death by an Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) activist Teyyampadi Ismayil. Ismayil, who openly claimed responsibility for the murder on that very night, is known to have criminal antecedents and was once jailed for six months in accordance with the Kerala Anti-Social Activities (Prevention) Act, 34/2007. The aftermath of this cold-blooded murder, a personal settling of scores between two individuals, was instantly communalised, and in a manner that is reminiscent of communal violence in other parts of the country, especially in Muzaffarnagar 2013.
G Arunima, P K Yasser Arafath, K Satchidanandan, Kavita Krishnan, Jairus Banaji, G Haragopal, Shabnam Hashmi, J Devika, Trupti Shah, Jyotirmay Sharma, Upinder Singh, B Rajeevan, C R Neelakandan, Kumkum Roy,
A K Ramakrishnan, Ajay Gudavarthi and others
Statement from National Alliance of People’s Movements
The Real Battle is between Farmers and Land Grabbing Corporates and BJP, not between Bharat and Pakistan!
Protest Against Land Ordinance, February 2015 Delhi
Image courtesy Joe Athialy
Forcible land acquisition has always been an issue of life and death for millions of people in India, not only farmers but also agricultural laborers and fish workers. With the Land Ordinance it has become a political hot potato. More than 350 people’s organizations gathered at Parliament Street on February 24th, with 25,000 people from Gujarat to Orissa to Assam, and from Himachal Pradesh to Tamil Nadu and Kerala. This show of strength has forced the political parties to take a stand on the issue, leading to heated debates and discussion on the floor of the Parliament. The Ordinance, now Bill, reflects the anti-farmer and anti-poor move of un-democratically amending the 2013 Act on Land Acquisition and Rehabilitation, killing its very spirit and purpose.
The Ordinance brought in by the NDA government just after the Winter session of the Parliament came to an end was an obvious imposition on the country’s common people, of the colonial legacy of a perverted vision of development through an unjust and undemocratic modus operandi. The Ordinance is an attempt to open up the land that is the life support, source of livelihood and shelter for India’s toiling masses, to wealthy investors, including big corporations and builders. Its intention is to forcibly divert India’s agricultural land at the cost of food security, giving a free hand with no ceiling to the private companies as well as private entities i.e. private trusts and expensive profit-making educational and health institutions. The intention is to benefit private interests in the name of public interest.
Guest post by RUPANDE MEHTA
Chances are you have heard about Sureshbhai Patel, a 57 year old man, beaten and left temporarily paralyzed by Alabama police. His only crime: while he was out for a walk, a neighbor reported a ‘suspicious’ and ‘skinny black guy’ in the neighborhood causing him extreme distress and nervousness to leave his wife alone at home.
Several elements of this case bring back the ghosts of Trayvon Martin and Eric Garner, two black lives taken away by police brutality – despite being unarmed, Sureshbhai was subjected to “extreme force” and suspected not because he was Indian but because he resembled a black guy – but also bring to the forefront the enormous emotional and financial support generated not only from Indians but also Americans who rallied behind Sureshbhai and the injustice meted out to him. In a matter of six days, donations worth $190,000 were garnered to help the Patel family with medical bills. The incident also provoked Alabama’s governor to apologize for police’s use of “excessive force” and to initiate an investigation by the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency, along with the one being conducted by the FBI. Read more…
Guest post by AVANI CHOKSHI
It seems ludicrous that in a civilised democratic society like India, a citizen may be practically abducted by police, charged with perfunctory offences and incarcerated without bail on mere suspicion for an indefinite period of time. But this is indeed the situation in present-day India, with duly passed legislation sanctioning the inhumane state of affairs.
The validity of unjust or immoral laws has long been debated, with two major schools of thought emerging- the positivist school and the naturalist school. The positivist school does not recognise any correlation between the legal system of a society and notions of what ought to be justice. The positivist framework mandates that the law is that ordained by the valid legislator, whereas the naturalist school of thought envisages some rights to be inherent by virtue of humanity of a person. Thus, an unjust law, as per the school of naturalist thought, would be no law at all; positivistic thought, on the other hand, would posit such law to be valid by virtue only of being ascribed to the law-making process. The Hart- Fuller debate devolved around the law made by Hitler; with Hart contending that laws passed using proper procedure would always be valid and Fuller maintaining that no unjust rule could ever be law. India allows “procedure established by law ” to deprive people of their Fundamental Rights; a state of affairs which reflects positivistic thought in the founders of India. India’s judiciary has slowly moved from this strictly positivist setting to a more naturalistic and liberal interpretation of the term. This shift has placed India closer to the guarantee of “due process of law” in the United States of America. Read more…