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Urgent demand to bring Normalcy to Vadodara: Letter to Commissioner of Police by concerned citizens

September 30, 2014

To Mr. E. Radhakrishan, Commissioner of Police, Vadodara.

Take concrete steps to bring normalcy in the city of Vadodara and take immediate action in the cases of assault on women by police.

Sir,

A team of social activists visited some of the affected areas on 27th September 2014 on the request of affected people.  A detailed report of our visit is under process  but after visiting the area we have personally discussed with you and informed you about the role of Police, (particularly plain clothes police, also known as D Staff). The police should prevent violence and arrest those who undertake violence. Instead many people particularly women, complained about the verbal abuse and physical assault on them by police. The marks of injury were visible on their bodies. You had promised to look in to the matter and assured us that this will not be repeated.

We are shocked to know that brutal police attacks continued on the night of 27th September 2014.

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High Level Committee of Ministry of Environment and Forests and Climate Change walks out of Public Consultation in Bangalore: Press Release

September 30, 2014

High Level Committee of Ministry of Environment and Forests and Climate Change walks out of Public Consultation in Bangalore

The High Level Committee headed by Mr. T. S. R. Subramanian, former Union Cabinet Secretary, constituted by the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests and Climate Change to review environment, pollution control and forest conservation laws, invited the public at large for a consultation between 12 and 1.30 pm today (27th September) at Vikas Soudha, the high security office complex of the Government of Karnataka. Advertisements to this effect had been issued by the Karnataka Department of Forest, Ecology and Environment in various newspapers on 21st September 2014, followed up by various press releases inviting the public to interact with the Committee.

When various individuals and representatives of public interest environmental and social action groups turned up for the meeting, the police prevented their entry at the gates. It was only following a spot protest that the police consented to allow them to participate in the consultation. Despite this indignifying experience, all who gathered proceeded to the meeting hall with the intent of engaging with the High Level Committee.

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#Hokkolorob – The Politics of Making Noise: Rajarshi Dasgupta

September 29, 2014

Guest Post by RAJARSHI DASGUPTA

We must not celebrate every time we see a movement. Movements can be very popular without being very meaningful, disturbing only the surface of society. Some can be pretty and harmless like candle light vigils; others dangerous and ugly like ‘love jihad’. Some want efficient governance like Hazaare; others regime change like Nandigram. For those tired with political apathy, it is of course good news that a spate of new movements is emerging thanks to new technologies and media coverage. But it is equally true that they seem to be going indifferent directions, without any common end. The picture is not clear. Who knows better than us how ‘change’ can be purely rhetorical? It is not difficult to imagine why people are weary of dramatic social unrest. They hardly fail to bring yet more conservative and unscrupulous sections to power. If we don’t want to get carried away, it is because of repeated disillusionments with the promise of change that everybody makes but nobody keeps. Politics is not, we better understand, about promise but manipulation, bargaining for daily needs, livelihood and resources, and so it should be. Movements may come and go like fashion, they are incidental to reality, which changes very slowly if at all. There is an institutional process of elections we have put in place, and it has proven to be resilient and reliable.

Bandh Bhengey Dao – Break All Bonds -
Lyrics and Music – Rabindranath Tagore & Asian Dub Foundation
From the Original Sound Track of ‘Tasher Desh’ a film adaptation by Q
of Rabindranath Tagore’s Joyous Anarchist Opera

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Freedom and the University – Reflections from a Teacher: Rimi.B.Chatterjee

September 28, 2014

Guest Post by RIMI B.CHATTERJEE. Photographs by RONNY SEN.

Graffiti on Jadavpur University Walls. Photograph by Ronny Sen

Graffiti on Jadavpur University Walls. Photograph by Ronny Sen

There has been a lot of noise about the recent agitation at Jadavpur University, and a lot of slanted media coverage. Allow me to set the record straight on a number of points.

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Prose of Power and the Poetry of Protest – An Outsider’s Attempt to Make Sense of the ‘Kolorob’ in Kolkata: Uditi Sen

September 28, 2014

Guest Post by UDITI SEN

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#Hokkolorob – Embodied

It’s been more than a week since tens of thousands of students marched in a rain drenched Saturday in Kolkata, in solidarity with Jadavpur University students and their fight for justice. Much has happened since to delegitimise this mammoth, genuinely popular and student-led march. A counter-march, the co-optation of the victim’s father by the ruling party, adverse propaganda in the press and fatigue and confusion amongst the protestors have been some of the dampening developments that followed the unexpected show of student power. True to their clarion call, hok kolorob (let there be clamour), the marchers made a lot of noise. A week later, as the numbers of protestors on the streets have dissipated as fast as they had congregated, it is perhaps time to step back from the euphoria of the gathering and the intimidation and murky co-optation of protest that followed, to reflect on the political meanings and potential of this uprising.

The march was not organised by any single political party, though many with experience or background in student politics of one ilk or the other, marched. The vast majority, however, were students who had never marched before and had no experience of politics. The question therefore arises, what, if anything is the unifying ideology of this body of protestors? What goals motivate them? Above all, the question that is doing the rounds the most, on social media, on mainstream news and on the streets is what are the politics of the protestors? The question of politics is seldom posed directly. Its ubiquitous presence, however, can be clearly read in the answers provided regarding the nature of the march, the motivations of the protestors and the identity of the marchers. Unsurprisingly, diametrically opposite sets of answers emerge from members of the ruling party, inside and outside Jadavpur University; and the people who took to the streets on Saturday. From the Vice Chancellor, the Education Minister and officially ordained leaders of the ‘youth’, such as Abhishek Banerjee and Shankudeb Panda, characterisations emerge that focus on indiscipline on campus, presence of Maoist and other outsiders and deep conspiracies. From students of Jadavpur University and their sympathisers, assertions emerge that this protest is about justice and not about politics. Both characterisations fail to capture what is at stake.

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Terror, Performance and Anxieties of Our Times – Reading Rustom Bharucha and Reliving Terror: Sasanka Perera

September 28, 2014

Guest Post by SASANKA PERERA

[ This post by Sasanka Perera is a review of  Terror and Performance by Rustom Bharucha (2014). Tulika Books, New Delhi. Kafila does not ordinarily post book reviews. An exception is being made for this post because we feel that the subject of terrorism, which has interested Kafila readers in the past, is an important one, and needs to be thought through with seriousness. We hope that this post initiates a debate on Kafila regarding terror, the state, performance, and the performances - serious, or otherwise - that typically attend to the discussions of terror, whether undertaken by the agents of the state or by non-state actors, commentators in the media, or by intellectual interlocutors. ]

When I started reading Rustom Bharucha’s latest book, Terror and Performance, it immediately became an intensely personal and gripping engagement. It was difficult to read in a single attempt as the mind kept wandering from one unpleasant moment in our recent annals of terror to another in some of which I had also become an unwitting part – mostly as a spectator. From the beginning, my reading was a conversation with Bharucha’s text through detours of my own experiences and an interrogation to a lesser extent. In 1986, as a young man when I went to the Colombo International Airport to pick up my father who was returning from the Middle East, I was shaken by a tremendously loud sound for which I had no immediate references. I had not heard such a sound before. People started running towards the sound. It was a bomb that had blown up an Air Lanka flight which had come from Gatwick. The Central Telegraph Office in Colombo was bombed in the same year. We learnt that everyone was running towards the sound and not away from it. Dry local political humor very soon informed us that people were trying to get inside the bombed out telegraph office hoping that they could get free phone calls to their relatives in the Middle East as they had heard phones were dangling from the walls with no operators in sight. That was long before mobile phones and call boxes. We were still young in terms of our experiences with terror. However, we soon had very viable references to what all this meant as the political narrative of Lanka unfolded with devastating consequences. But in 1986, when the kind of terror that was to follow in all its fury was still relatively new and quite unknown, we were acutely unaware of the dynamics of the actual act of terror and the structure of feeling it could unleash. This is why many of us in these initial years were naively attracted towards the epicenter of the act rather than being mindful to run away from it. But as the society grew in experience, people soon learned their lessons. Though an academic text in every conceivable way, I was reminded one could always find a few rare books of this kind which might personally and emotionally touch a reader in addition to whatever intellectual stimulation it might also usher in. Terror and Performance is clearly one such book. From the perspective of the writer, Bharucha himself recognizes this personal emotional engagement and investment early in the book. For him, “this writing demands stamina as it faces an onslaught of uncertainties and cruelties at the global level that challenges the basic assumptions of what it means to be human” (xi). It is the same kind of stamina that one also needs to read it as most of us in South Asia would be reading it squarely sitting in the midst of our own worlds of unfolding terror. This is why all those thoughts came gushing into my mind throughout the reading. I was not only reading Bharucha; I was also reading my own past.

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‘Red Carpet’ in Forests: Kamal Nayan Choubey

September 28, 2014

Guest post by KAMAL NAYAN CHOUBEY

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View of the Rajapur Mining Project in Jharia from Bokahapadi village

The Narendra Modi led National Democratic Front (NDA) government had promised, even before its inception, to increase investment in the country and lay down the ‘red carpet’ for investors and corporates. The process of fulfilling that promise started with the formation of NDA government and under the leadership of Mr. Prakash Javadekar, the Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF) working overtime to ensure huge investment in the forests for the high growth rate of the economy. Within hundred days of the formation of the government MoEF has given environmental clearance to 240 of 325 projects that had been in limbo as the previous government slowed down the process of giving clearances to various projects due to a variety of reasons. The Government has estimated that these clearances would lead to the investment of 200,000 crore rupees and it would help to revive the economy. In this whole process, the Forest Advisory Committee (FAC) decided on the diversion of 7,122 hectares of forest land into revenue land for the various development projects. It is pertinent to ask, has Modi Government followed the procedure established by law while taking these decisions? Are these decisions in consonance with the promise BJP made to the tribal population, of more decentralized power? Could these decisions empower those communities who have been facing historical injustice from both colonial and post-colonial Indian state? Can we say that this kind of development model would work as a long term strategy to control Maoist violence in the most of the tribal dominated forest areas? Read more…

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