This is a Guest post by our sports correspondent, SAJAN VENNIYOOR: In an unprecedented gesture, the state of Kerala has apologized for what it calls “the darkest chapter in our history”, Shanthakumaran Sreesanth.
In the face of overwhelming criticism that it did nothing to prevent Sreesanth, the state’s Chief Minister and Governor, in a joint statement, apologized formally for the crime against those bits of humanity that watch cricket, and admitted collective responsibility for Sreesanth. “It is time for us to acknowledge that Kerala civil servants, sports administrators and other Malayalis took part in Sreesanth.” Read more…
In a brilliant column in the The Indian Express, Pratap Bhanu Mehta (with whom I have much to disagree about reservations) calls the bluff of the “national” parties who want Indian voters to be wary of the ‘instability’ and impossibility of a third front coalition government. This argument, strangely posing itself in a nationalist tone, is unfortunately also bought by too many left-liberal intellectuals and activists who don’t want us to get out the non-choice of the BJP-Congress binary. Mehta writes:
Sometimes an ordered instability can be more productive than a comatose stability. It is said that a third front leadership is unlikely to have a national perspective. But the cringingly desperate way in which the leadership of the national parties have put their own survival above any principle makes you wonder what the charge of not having a national perspective is all about. The third front will make foreign policy hostage to regional interests. In a way, it already is. But the source of the problem is deeper. Even a supposedly national party like the BJP cannot get its act together on the enclaves agreement with Bangladesh. Why blame regional parties? The third front will be fiscally irresponsible. It is a risk, but no more than a risk with any political party. The Congress squandered the best of economic opportunities in a fiscally irresponsible way. It is something of an irony that the only Chidambaram budget described as a “dream budget” came under Deve Gowda. And many states have shown innovation in a kind of pro-business entrepreneurial capitalism and in social sector schemes. Many of the regional leaders who would make up the third front are autocrats. Indeed, many of them are. But that autocracy is more visible because the national parties can use the state structure in a very sophisticated way to further their ends. But they are articulate and engage with their constituents. In short, the constituents of the third front are as much India and Indian interests as anyone else. [Full article]
India needs a third imagination, and by constantly being told that it is not possible we are told not to imagine it. This is the argument of, as Mehta puts it, the ‘entrenched elites’, to save their privileges. The fear of the third front, of the ‘regional’, needs to be fought and defeated. We see this poverty of imagination thrown at us whether we’re talking of Nitish Kumar or Arvind Kejriwal or Mayawati by people who will do not think it necessary to subject the Congress and the BJP to similar scrutiny. This bias against the “regional” is remarkably shared amongst a lot of people across the ideological spectrum. Their bluff needs to be called.
This is a guest post by Preeti Chauhan Now that the cat is out of the bag and the four year undergraduate programme(FYUP) is being criticized and thereby being discussed threadbare by some of the leading scholars of the country, one needs to also think of its relationship with the current state of democracy in India. The manner in which FYUP is being pushed through crushes the very idea of a university and with it the ideals and ideas of democracy.
Even if one assumes and believes that the “Academic Congress” held last year in the University gave a go ahead to change the existing three year undergraduate programme to FYUP and frame courses accordingly, then also the way the University administration has functioned goes against the very values that the University of Delhi or for that matter any university is supposed to promote. Read more…
“We have to ask ourselves whether we may have over-romanticized its (Burmese pro-democracy movement within and outside of Burma) battles against the junta as a broader quest to bring pure, universal human rights to Burma, when in fact we had little evidence of a wholesale commitment to the principle of tolerance.” – Francis Wade (Thailand based Journalist and a keen observer of developments in Burma)
I met Sarabjit Singh’s brave lawyer Awais Sheikh in Delhi some months ago, where his book was released. He was very confident Sarabjit wouldn’t be hanged. As was Justice (Retd.) Katju, who launched the book. Justice Katju said there was no point campaigning for Sarabjit’s release until the Pakistan elections were over. I got a similar impression of optimism from people who had been following the Sarabjit case.
Well, they were right. Sarabjit wasn’t hanged. But hanging is only one way of killing. Read more…
An obituary by ZAHIR JANMOHAMED: I first met Asghar Ali Engineer in January 2002 in Mumbai. I was a fellow with the America India Foundation and a few weeks later I would be posted to work with an NGO in Ahmedabad.
A few minutes before his presentation, I noticed him standing off to the side in silence, staring at the ground. I walked up and introduced myself. I was young, in my twenties, and I did not know what to say.
“As-salaam alaikum,” I said.
“Wa-alaikum salaam,” he replied.
I am not sure what response I expected but I thought that perhaps because he and I share the same faith that we might have a special bond, that my greeting would spark a conversation. After all, I always thought phrases like these serve less as greeting and more as an announcement, as in, I am part of the same religion as you.
But Asghar saab just held my hand and then put his hand on his heart. “Nice to meet you,” he said, and then stared at the ground again in silence. I thought it was odd, rude even.
As I continued to meet Asghar saab, I realized that he had very little patience for superficial connections. I witnessed this when I saw him greet crowds after his lectures. If you told him you were from the same caste or city he would not be as excited as if you told him that you also believe that we must fight patriarchy with the same vigor that we must fight communalism. Read more…