Guest Post by REBECCA JOHN
(Rebecca John is a Senior Advocate at the Delhi High Court)
This is in response to some popular misconceptions about the 2013 amendments relating to sexual offences against women and some of the issues raised by Manisha Sethi and Anusha Rizvi in HardNews, (Confronting Certainties, posted on the Hardnews website on March 9, 2014)
Two things stand out for their sublime quality in the current round of pre-election campaigning. First, the danger to Indian democracy has assumed unprecedented proportions, and there is a clear sense of desperation in the air. The threat emanates, you guessed right, from a group of anarchists who are poised to take over Indian democracy. This is perhaps the dirtiest and most dangerous election that India has ever seen – what with the bunch of anarchists ‘fixing the media‘, ‘spreading anarchy‘, ‘hijacking democracy‘, ‘taking foreign funds‘ for their election campaign (while the others, the impeccable democrats of the BJP and the Congress have to make do with ‘local’ capitalists like Mukesh Ambani). What’s more, these people are ‘political mercenaries‘, urban Maoists in disguise and they want to wreck the neatly and painstakingly built edifice of our hallowed democracy. This widespread love of democracy is touching. For someone like me who has closely watched (and participated in) politics from the mid 1970s, the panic evident in the tone of those attacking AAP is as unprecedented as it is revealing. It is revealing of the fact that the political class is thrown into disarray by this new way of doing politics that AAP represents. In BJP’s case, in particular, one can discern complete befuddlement – neither its hope to reap the benefit of the mass anger against the Congress, nor its tried and tested polarizing communal vocabulary seem to have any meaning any more.
“Delhi is currently being ruled by a bunch of political mercenaries hired, supported and controlled by Congress party. The words and action of AAP leaders expose the fact that it is a Maoist outfit.”
Of course, the Maoists are “hired, supported and controlled by the Congress”!
( To be published in the coming issue of ‘Critique’ a magazine published by ’New Socialist Initiative’s Delhi University team )
The Jew as well as the Christian, the Hindu no less than the Muslim ‘fundamentalist’ plies an ideology of superior difference. Each confronts an inferior and threatening Other . Each engages in the politics of exclusion. Hence each poses a menace to the minority communities within its boundary…For the Muslim militants the Other are the Jews, occasionally Christians and, in South Asia, the Hindus, Christians, and Ahmedis. I know of no religio-political formation today which does not have a demonized, therefore threatened, Other.
The Other is always an active negation. All such movements mobilize hatred, and often harness unusual organizational effort to do so. ..
The cult of violence and proliferation of enemies are inherent in ideologies of difference. All express their hate for the Other by organized violence. All legitimize their violence with references to religion and history. In nearly all instances the enemy multiplies. At first, the Indian Parivar had the Muslim Other for target. It has now turned on Christians.
Profile of the Religious Right – Eqbal Ahmad (1999)
Masks and the Man
Child’s fantasies are endless and unimaginable.
It will wear a mask of a tiger and start ‘scaring’ it’s near and dear ones with a growl and the very next moment would imagine itself to be flying in the air with the mask of a Spiderman. Have you ever noticed any adult -may be completely stranger to the kid – getting annoyed with such tantrums of a child. Definitely not.
What will happen if you tomorrow discover the same group of adults or similar physically grown-up people moving on the streets or herding together wearing similar masks or identical masks? You will have sincere doubts about their mental faculties and if possible, would love to advise them that they consult the nearest psychiatrist. Read more…
Guest post by UMANG KUMAR
I have to confess that there are many times that I too have wanted to stop supporting the Indian cricket team and root for some other team. And this is not just with the current lineup and their losses in South Africa and New Zealand. Why, even when Gundappa Viswanath failed in inning after inning, when, in the pre-Kapil days, Indian pacers (“fast medium”) like Karsan Ghavri and Mohinder Amarnath huffed and puffed, there were times I just wanted to say good riddance. Thank you India, I think I’ll switch allegiance – I’ll go support Clive Lloyds’ West Indies or Asif Iqbal’s Pakistan. Much better teams, so much more exciting to watch!
The Indian cricketers could neither bowl well nor defend modest totals with the bat. And they were lackluster on the field save that one saving grace, Eknath Solkar.
Fundamentalism, Liberalism and Muslims – Review of Hasan Suroor’s ‘India’s Muslim Spring’: Abhay Kumar
ABHAY KUMAR reviews Hasan Suroor’s India’s Muslim Spring: Why is Nobody Talking about It?, Rupa Publications, New Delhi, 2014.
Hasan Suroor is a London-based veteran journalist. He began his career with The Statesman and later he worked as The Hindu’s UK correspondent for over a decade. He continues to write in newspapers on important issues such as Muslim identity, secularism, communalism and Islam. He was brought up and educated in Delhi after his family left Lucknow for the national capital post-Partition. Their new destination, at least in the beginning, did not receive its guests warmly as his parents’ identity as Muslim worked as a hurdle for them to rent a flat in New Delhi. Eventually they had to seek refuge in the Muslim-majority Ballimaran of the Walled City where his mother worked as a Communist Party activist. Suroor, who is regarded as one of the “progressive” and “liberal” voices among Muslims, has recently been in news for an interesting thesis which he offers in his new book, India’s Muslim Spring: Why is Nobody Talking about It?
He argues that for the first time since Independence a “seismic” and “tectonic” shift has taken place in Indian Muslim community with an emergence of “liberal spring” among new generations Muslims, who were born after the late 1970s. For Suroor, the elder generations of Muslim were “fundamentalist” and “emotional”, “intolerant” of freedom of speech, prioritized “cultural” and “identity” issues over substantive ones, had “contempt” for women and blamed others for the plight of Muslim community while the young Muslims are just the opposite of their elders; they, are “tolerant”, “pragmatic”, “moderates”, “secular”, “cosmopolitan”, “optimistic” and “confident” and “forward-looking” as well as “nationalistic”. In short, he creates a binary between fundamentalist old Muslims versus liberal young Muslims. Read more…
Guest post by MONOBINA GUPTA
Ayodhya, Faizabad: As our taxi approaches the site of the controversial Ram temple, two young men on motorcycle ride alongside our car. “ We will be your guides. Want to see the temple? Only hundred rupees,” they shout. My unofficial ‘guide’ Vineet Maurya, a fierce crusader against representing the site as the birthplace of Ram, rolls down the window and snaps back,” We are not here to see the temple.” Further down the lane, more young men run behind the car with similar offers. Temple sightseeing has turned into a veritable industry at Ayodhya.
From the narrow alley, the disputed plot, closely barricaded with high yellow railings and watched 24/7 by men from the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and Provincial Armed Constabulary(PAC), images a heavily guarded fortress: one that is in danger of imminent attack. This is the holy site over whose ownership Hindus, led by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), had waged such a fierce battle and spilled so much of blood. The manifestations of that unholy battle are overwhelmingly present in the form of deployment of countless security forces guarding Ram Lalla. What is lost in this murky stand-off is the sanctity of a holy place. Ayodhya ranks among the top holy sites of India. Read more…
Guest Post by a student who wishes to remain anonymous
The recent incidents in the English and Foreign Languages University (EFLU), Hyderabad, shows yet another move from the part of the administration to bypass democratic procedures and suppress the voice of the student community. Ever since she took charge, the current VC Sunaina Singh has managed to acquire infamy for her anti-student and totalitarian mode of governance. The most recent one was closing down the common reading room for students, which was functional 24*7. The initial reason given was that it was under renovation. Later, notifications were put out stating that the previous reading room will be attached to the library (which closes down at 8pm on weekdays and at 6pm on weekend). Separate reading rooms were allotted for male and female students in their respective hostels, each of which cannot accommodate more than 20 students at a time (the total strength of the university is 2500+).
This decision, in effect, meant that boys and girls had no place to study/ work together after the stipulated working hours of the library. The authorities even posed the question as to why it was necessary that boys and girls have to study together. Excuse my hyperbole, but probably the next step would be to prohibit the formation of mixed groups for class works, assignments and presentations.
This particular incident of closing down the common reading room has to be viewed by placing it in the context of the larger issue- the regulations imposed on the students over the past one year and attempts to curb the liberal values that EFLU has always held up. Read more…