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Vocabulary of justice and being

February 6, 2016

After the Supreme Court delivered its verdict in Suresh Kumar Koushal v. Naz Foundation (2014) overruling the Delhi High Court’s decision, the National University of Juridical Sciences brought out a special law review issue assessing the judgment. Prof. M.P. Singh, the constitutional scholar and former vice chancellor of the university, wrote an article praising the judgment for its judicial restraint, in which he described the use of constitutional litigation by sexual minorities as a case of “misplaced hope in courts”. Prof. Singh prefaced his article with a cautionary extract from Judge Learned Hand that warns us against “placing our hopes too much upon constitutions, upon laws, and upon courts. These are false hopes; believe me, these are false hopes”. Prof. Singh similarly suggests that what activists ought to do is to educate legislators rather than pin their hopes on the judiciary. Underlying these opinions seemed to be an unwritten rule of an economy of hope (that one could have a little but not too much of it) but the essential trait of hope is that it is greedy sentiment that demands the impossible, and the Naz judgment with its rich evocation of dignity, liberty and equality had already proven that we could not just demand but hope for the impossible.

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Stop the attack on Rohith’s mother! Solidarity Committee for Rohith’s mother Radhika

February 4, 2016


We believe there  is a concerted effort on the part of the powers-that-be to diffuse the nation-wide mass protests against Dalit research scholar Rohith Vemula’s death and caste discrimination in higher educational institutions. They are keen to demonstrate that Rohith did not face caste discrimination by claiming that his mother Radhika is not a Dalit. Rather than addressing the critical issues that his death and the protests have raised, these misdirected attempts seek to dissolve the issue in narrow legalese. And thereby somehow save the people named in the students’ complaint from the stringent penal provisions of the SC/ST Atrocities Act. This malicious campaign is unethical, illegal and undemocratic. Read more…

The Terror That Is Man: Shaj Mohan

February 3, 2016

Guest post by SHAJ MOHAN

Manifold is the un-homely, yet nothing is more un-homely than man — Sophocles

The middle of the previous century is understood to be the termination of all kinds of containments of man, having witnessed the worst containment in the Camp[i]. This termination resulted from a crisis that is both philosophical and political: what is the de-termination of man such that he is not the contained? A summary of this scenario is found in a trivial understanding of Foucault’s statements concerning “the end of man” (The Order of Things) and Derrida’s deconstruction of the notion of the “the end” in his essay “Ends of Man” (Margins of Philosophy). As a result of the exigencies of the philosophical and the political, the concept of the state located itself, in the occidental domain, away from the containers. The State would no longer claim to be the clergy and the sovereign of containers such as race and religion. Instead, the State demanded only the right to primary containment—first Indian and then Muslim, first British then White, first Spanish then Basque. The list, the differences, the classification and the management of all the other containers—religion, caste, language, race, public, private—were left up to the new clerics, the new academic disciplines and the NGOs. If all containers were opened up then everything should have flooded out and mixed to form a substance of a new world of people; rather, a substantiality for the in-terminable formation of people. This new people-substance should have dissolved the traces of all the containers, the way science-fiction often imagines the future to be. It should have left for us tales which are the negative of memories, that is, taboos, or myths. For example, the tales that we received about incest from the ancients, the tales of cannibalism in fairy tales, the tales of the world’s resistance to Nazism. Read more…

Disability, Language, and Empowerment: Dorodi Sharma

February 3, 2016

This is a guest post by DORODI SHARMA

In 2009, as a writer for a disability news portal I got a note back with one of my stories from the director of the organisation. “Suffering from disability”, I had written about someone. The note said “I have been a wheelchair user since the age of 15, and trust me I am not suffering.” Over the years, the first document I shared with new employees of the disability rights organisation I worked for in Delhi was a document on ‘disability etiquette’ that outlined not just terminologies but also the acceptable ways of interacting with people with disabilities. Yes, even in the 21st century we need to coach people on ‘interacting’ with a section of humanity. The discourse on importance of language has taken a new meaning when recently Prime Minister Narendra Modi called people with disabilities ‘divyang’ or people with divine abilities. The reaction to this has been outrage, to shaking of heads, to complete indifference. But it is important to talk about language when it comes to disability because it reeks of charity and reflects the patronizing attitude that prevents people with disabilities in India from getting their due.

Let us be very clear, disability is part of human diversity. Disability is as normal or abnormal as being a man, woman, gay, lesbian, person of colour, or any other variation of being human for that matter. Why then do we look at disability as something that needs to be ‘overcome’? With the proliferation of social media, we are now faced with innumerable ‘inspiration porn’ posts. Yes, inspiration porn. As described by Stella Young, Australian journalist, comedian, and activist – inspiration porn is objectifying people with disabilities for the benefit of non-disabled people. Young said the purpose of these images is to inspire people, to motivate them, so that they can look at them and think “Well, however bad my life is, it could be worse. I could be that person.” Precisely for that reason, people living with a disability are tired (and angry) of all the euphemistic terminologies used about them. No, they are not specially-abled, or differently abled, or ‘divyang’ for that matter. They are persons with disabilities and disability is a crucial part of their identity, just like one’s gender, race, or nationality.

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Missing the Forest for Trees – Caste System’s Shadow on Rohith’s Suicide : Sanjay Kumar

February 3, 2016

Guest Post by Sanjay Kumar

(Photo Courtesy :

Mainstream politics over Rohith Vemula’s suicide is becoming hot and ugly. Although whisper campaigns against Rothith’s dalit identity were on since his suicide, the BJP’s central leadership had been relatively quiet after HRD minister’s rather shrieky ‘appeal’ to not play caste politics over his suicide. However, now it seems daggers are out. The party in power, whose two ministers are accused of creating conditions leading to Rohith’s suicide, has decided that Rohith’s non-dalit status is the dog it is going to beat to counter its anti-dalit image. Rohith’s mother is a Mala, a Scheduled Caste, who lives seperately from his father, a backward caste Vaddera. He got an SC certificate on the basis of showing that he grew up in his mother’s Mala household. BJP’s strategy may look petty, but it is based on the age-old great Hindu tradition which can not contenance any violation of the privileges of the patrilineal system. After all, marital rape does enjoy legal sanction in India to this day. Read more…

Why is the World Ignoring Palestine’s ‘Third Intifada’? Shubhda Chaudhary

February 2, 2016


Already ravaged by two political Intifadas in the past, Palestine is now undergoing a third ‘leaderless Intifada’ in West Bank and Gaza. In fact, there is disagreement over whether a leader is even needed. In a striking paradox, several names are being considered for the leadership that does not exist: Jerusalem Intifada, Mass Intifada, Revolutionary Wave and Third Intifada.

Third Palestinian Intifada - On its way or Already Arrived? image courtesy Alwaght

Third Palestinian Intifada – On its way or Already Arrived? image courtesy Alwaght

revolutionary woman intifada streetby Quadraro, image courtesy Deviant Art.

‘revolutionary woman intifada street’ by Quadraro, image courtesy Deviant Art.

As West Asia is too gripped in sectarian conflict and the rise of ISIS, this emerging trend is going unnoticed. But the violence is already cementing the layers of distrust that Palestinians harbor against Jews, with calcifying hatred.

After the desecration of Al-Aqsa Mosque and other sacred Islamic sites in various parts of the occupied Palestine by Israelis, Palestinians have been pouring out on the streets. The retaliatory attacks by Palestinians have claimed the lives of seven Israelis while leaving a number of them injured. It should be noted that the average age of demonstrators and people responsible for stabbing and running over people is less than 20 years old. They were born after the Oslo Accord between the Palestinian Liberation Organization and Israel in 1993 and 1995. They are just coming of age, and it’s hard for them to see any future but a bleak one. Read more…

In solidarity with Rohith Vemula: Concerned students and faculty at the Indian Institute of Management, Calcutta

February 2, 2016

Open letter to the President of India from Concerned students and faculty at the Indian Institute of Management Calcutta.


The President of India

Subject: An urgent appeal to address discrimination and political interference in academic institutions in the wake of the death of RohithVemula.

We, a group of students and faculty of the Indian Institute of Management Calcutta,expressour grief over the loss of the precious life of RohithVemula, a Dalit research scholar, at the University of Hyderabad.The events that transpired in the particular case were indeed tragic, with allegedinfringement of freedom of expression, caste discrimination and partisan interference by the higher State apparatus. This event is symptomatic of the larger malaise of failure of our institutions to provide a climate where students, irrespective of their social backgrounds, could find a way to excel. To create such a climate would require synchronised efforts in the parts of the State, the educational institutions and the society at large. Read more…


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