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South Africa in the Twilight of Liberalism: Richard Pithouse

April 19, 2015

[Note: Recent events in South Africa – from raging student movements across university campuses to xenophobic violence in the streets of Durban – seem to echo so many struggles both inside and outside the university “here.” This is the first of hopefully several posts from South Africa, that seek to listen and travel across.]


South Africa was supposed to be different. We attained our freedom, such as these things are, after everyone else but Palestine. It was late in the day but the afternoon sun was glorious and the best people, people who had passed through the long passage of struggle, told us that we would be able to avoid the mistakes made everywhere else.

There was a mass movement that, whatever its limits, had won tremendous popular support and carried some noble ideals through its travails. Its leaders cast long shadows. Our Constitution, we were always told, was as good as they get. Liberalism, apparently vindicated by history, had its evident limits but there was, it was said, lots of room for deft manoeuvre within those constraints. We were assured that there was room for everyone at what Aimé Césaire had called the ‘rendezvous of victory’.

For a long time the presence of all kinds of features of the past in the present was widely understood as something that would be resolved in time. Land would be redistributed, schools would flourish, houses would be built, there would be jobs – the kind of jobs that reward hard work – and universities would emerge, bright and bold, from their cocoons spun by settler culture. Time, it was generally believed, was on the side of justice and the eventual redemption of the suffering, striving and struggles of the past.

Read more…

Media and the Death of Democracy: Nissim Mannathukkaren

April 17, 2015


We live in a world where there is more and more information, and less and less meaning—Jean Baudrillard

Recently, there has been an outpouring of scathing critique against Arnab Goswami and his television programme, The Newshour in some sections of the English-language Press. One magazine cover story called him, “The Man Who Killed TV News.” The immediate context of this critique is Goswami’s branding of some prominent ecological and political activists as “anti-national” and his calling for a ban on the Nirbahaya documentary and legal action against a competing channel which was supposed to be air the documentary. This unprecedented and shockingly ironic position against free speech by a leading media personality was rightfully termed by a critic “as low as a journalist can sink.”

While these criticisms of the “murderous rage” evoked by Goswami draped in the nationalist tri-colour every night and the punishment he metes out to his opponents in a “medieval-style kangaroo court,” also known as an “open debate,” are entirely apt and necessary, they also miss the forest for the trees. Goswami is only a symptom of the post-liberalization corporatized and privatized media landscape of India. If Goswami did not exist, he would have been created. It is not Goswami alone who has killed news, it is the vast majority of the media, especially, television that has done so. What is more obscene than Goswami’s execrable theatrics is how he is deeply enmeshed in the structures of capital and power that he seemingly rails against every night. These structures have not just enmeshed him, but the others as well who are aghast at his aesthetics (or the lack of it).  Read more…

Why are we always Encroachers? Tribal farmers in Khammam District, Telangana: Vasudha Nagaraj

April 15, 2015


Korsa Subba Rao, a man from Koya tribe, cultivates about three acres of forest land in a village in Khammam district. His family has been doing so for several generations. Subba Rao has a ration card, voter identity card, Aadhar Card and a NREGA job card. However, for the land that he tills, he has no papers whatsoever. Ironically the only evidence he has is an FIR issued by the Forest department. For committing a forest offence of encroaching into the forest – cutting down trees and putting it to podu cultivation.

Like Korsa Subba Rao, in Khammam district, there are thousands of farmers belonging to Koya, Konda Reddis and Lambadi tribal communities cultivating one to four acres in forest lands. Most of them have been cultivating since the times of their forefathers. Often this is their only income. However, factors such as scanty rain, untimely rain or pest can drastically reduce this income. The prevalence of malaria and other mosquito borne diseases also adds to the toll.

Here, it needs to be understood that forest lands do not always imply green forests. A forest land can be dense forest, moderate forest, shrub growth and also barren land. In Khammam district, thousands of acres of forest lands have been put to cultivation since several decades. But any cultivation of forest land is considered to be illegal, as it is an offence as per the AP Forest Act, 1967. In this scheme of things, the tribal farmers are seen as “encroachers”. The irony is that they are encroachers inspite of being the original inhabitants of the land. Because of this illegality and because of the power of the Forest Department to register criminal cases, the tribal farmers live in a constant fear of eviction from their lands. Read more…

Ambedkar’s Ideology – Religious Nationalism and Indian Constitution: Ram Puniyani  

April 14, 2015

Guest Post by RAM PUNYANI

In order to gain larger legitimacy, RSS has been making claims of sorts. One of that which was made few months back was that Gandhi was impressed by functioning of RSS. Now on the heels of that comes another distortion that Ambedkar believed in Sangh ideology (Feb 15, 2015). This was stated recently by RSS Sarsanghchalak, Mohan Bhagwat. There cannot be bigger contrasts between the ideology of Ambedkar and RSS. Ambedkar was for Indian Nationalism, Secularism and social justice while the RSS ideology is based on two major pillars. One is the Brahmanic interpretation of Hinduism and second is the concept of Hindu nationalism, Hindu Rashtra.

Where does Ambedkar stand as for as ideology of Hinduism is concerned? He called Hinduism as Brahminic theology. We also understand that Brahmanism has been the dominant tendency within Hinduism. He realized that this prevalent version of Hinduism is essentially a caste system, which is the biggest tormentor of untouchables-dalits.

Read more…

Frontline’s Calculus of Caste: C. K. Raju

April 14, 2015

Guest post by C. K. RAJU

[Frontline carried a historically ill-informed article on Indian calculus which also had mathematical and casteist errors. When the errors were pointed out, the magazine ignored it, contrary to journalistic ethics. Here is Prof Raju’s response to that article.]

Frontline (23 Jan 2015) published an excessively ill-informed article by Biman Nath on “Calculus & India”. The article suppressed the existence of my 500 page tome on Cultural Foundations of Mathematics: the Nature of Mathematical Proof and the Transmission of Calculus from India to Europe in the 16th c. (Pearson Longman, 2007). This suppression was deliberate, for Nath and Frontline ignored it even after it was pointed out to them. They also refused to correct serious mathematical and casteist errors in the article. That is contrary to journalistic ethics. To understand my response, some background is needed.

According to my above book and various related articles, the calculus developed in India and was transmitted to Europe. The second part of the story is lesser known. As often happens with imported knowledge, calculus was misunderstood in Europe. Later that inferior misunderstanding was given back to India through colonial education, and continues to be taught to this day just by declaring it as “superior”. That claim of superiority was never cross-checked to see if it is any different from the other flimsy claims of superiority earlier made by the West, for centuries, for example the racist claim that white-skinned people are “superior”. Read more…

Loot in the name of Cholera: Sabareesh Gopala Pillai

April 14, 2015

This is a guest post by SABAREESH GOPALA PILLAI

The meaning of “health is wealth” is changing. Health — the lack of it in fact — is a gold mine today. India’s health industry is almost growing at twenty per cent year-on-year, and is estimated to reach probably about Rs 1.3 trillion by 2020. While many would attribute this to the increase in life expectancy, higher income levels, greater reach of health insurance and growing lifestyle-related diseases, the story is not so straight or simple. Read more…

सलाम, एदुआर्दो गालियानो , अलविदा !!

April 13, 2015

ऐसी कलम सदियों में एक  होती है जिसमें इंसानी खून की धमक और दमक साथ हो.ऐसी ही एक कलम , इंसानी दर्दमंदी से लबरेज़ आज रुक गई है. वह किसी एक जुबान की कैदी न थी. पूरी कायनात उसकी नोक पर रक्स करती थी. एदुआर्दो गालियानो , सलाम,अलविदा!!


1919 को  इंकलाबी रोज़ा लक्समबर्ग का बर्लिन में क़त्ल कर दिया गया.

कातिलों ने उसे राइफल से कुचल-कुचल मारा और एक नहर के पानी में फेंक दिया.

बीच में, उसका एक जूता निकल गया .

किसी ने उसे उठा लिया, कीचड़ में पड़े उस जूते को .

रोज़ा एक ऐसी दुनिया की तमन्ना करती थी जहां इन्साफ को आज़ादी के नाम पर निछावर नहीं कर दिया जाएगा और न आज़ादी इन्साफ के नाम पर तर्क कर दी जाएगी .

हर रोज़ कोई हाथ उस बैनर को उठा लेता है.

कीचड़ से, उस जूते की तरह .

आजादों का राज

यह पूरी सत्रहवीं सदी में होता है.

भाग निकले गुलामों की बस्तियां कुकुरमुत्तों की तरह उग आती हैं. ब्राज़ील में उन्हें क्विलोम्बो कहते हैं.यह एक अफ्रीकी लफ्ज है  जिसके मायने हैं समुदाय हालांकि नस्लवादियों ने इसका अनुवाद किया चंडूखाना या वेश्यालय .

पल्मारेस के क्विलोम्बो में, पूर्व गुलाम अपने मालिकों से आज़ाद रहे और चीनी की तानाशाही से भी जो और कुछ भी उगने नहीं देती.वे हर तरह के बीज रोपते हैं  और सब कुछ खाते हैं.उनके पूर्व-मालिकों का भोजन जहाज़ों से पहुँचता है. उनका मिट्टी से.अफ्रीकी तर्ज पर बने उनके लुहारखाने उन्हें कुदाल, खुरपी, फावड़े देते हैं जिससे वे धरती पर काम कर सकें और छुरे,कुल्हाड़ी और भाले कि वे उसकी हिफाजत कर सकें.


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