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Open Letter to FB : Change the Authentic Name Policy — Nameless Coalition

October 8, 2015

Nameless Coalition, a group of NGOs, has written an open letter to Facebook demanding justice for individuals who have been affected by it’s ‘authentic identity’ policy. Please read it at the Electronics Frontier Foundation Action Centre.Those interested in supporting this effort are requested to sign the petition.

In Kerala, the abuse of women online became a hotly-discussed issue over the heavy online abuse suffered by Preetha G P, which provoked a wider debate on FB policy and strong responses in support of Preetha from other women politically active on FB. The campaign For A Better FB was initiated by them.

I add below reflections by Anila Balakrishnan expressed on FB, on her support for the campaign. They have been translated from the Malayalam and posted here with her permission:

Facebook has never given me the feeling that it is a space where I can behave and speak out my views freely. On the contrary, it has always reminded me that I am a woman and must therefore tread carefully. That is the reason why I decided to reduce myself into someone who had nothing to say in public, someone who spoke only in the presence of friends. I just decided that I will not sacrifice my peace for the misogyny and hate-speech of the hordes who know nothing of me or my politics; I was not willing to spend time and energy on confronting them. When my posts became public because of sheer necessity or even by mistake, these hordes reminded me quickly that they should be confined to friends alone. Those were not ideological confrontations; they were vicious attacks the female gender itself. And so I have not felt brave enough to say anything that could invite public comment on FB. Women who have showed the courage to say such things have not been spared by the hordes, for sure.

But this was never my choice. I do believe that opinions ought to be public; that one must engage with each and every person in the crowd. But I am not willing to take on myself from the social media personal wounds that go beyond differences and diversity in views . So the decision to reduce myself is not my choice – it was imposed on me. I have not heard of any man who makes his views public being abused because of his body. I do not know of any man who has to maintain constant vigilance against such attacks. That’s how Facebook remains as patriarchal as any other social media, as society itself. And that’s precisely why I am part of this campaign for a better FB.

Another One Bites the Dust: “Cultural Pollution” and the Nehru Memorial Museum & Library: Niyati Sharma and Snigdha Kumar

October 7, 2015




The latest in a line of institutions to fall victim to the BJP government’s campaign against “cultural pollution” is The Nehru Memorial Museum and Library (NMML). The agenda is loud and clear – anything which ‘pollutes’ the current government’s preferred way of life and thinking will be done away with. Bans such as the recent ones on porn and meat are the most obvious instruments at the disposal of the government to achieve this goal. The more effective interventions, however, are not those which instantly deny people their choices and freedoms. Presented instead as minor improvements and renovations, interventions in art, history and academic institutions allow the government to introduce subtle long term changes – changes with the capacity to access and alter our very being.

Given the enormity of these interventions in the long run then, it is particularly curious how the clear recent attempts to take over academic institutions such as the ICHR, FTII and now NMML have managed to raise only a few eyebrows while the bans on porn (and meat to an extent) have met with much protest and were subsequently lifted. Perhaps this is because such spaces appear to be remote islands inhabited only by those interested in history, film and/or academic research. Only such an impression can explain the rather meek public debate and outcry that these clearly targeted changes have generated.

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दादरी मामले में साम्प्रदायिक रंग पहले से ही है : मोहम्मद ज़फ़र

October 6, 2015


दादरी मामले में राजनाथ सिंह व महेश शर्मा के बयान जो मामले को साम्प्रदायिक रंग देने को मना करने के हैं वो हास्यास्पद व खीझ पैदा करने वाले लगते हैं| जिस तरह से खबरों में बार बार आ रहा है उस तरह से तो ये बात साफ़ है कि मामले को साम्प्रदायिक रंग दिया नहीं जा रहा बल्कि इसकी बुनियाद ही सांप्रदायिक रंग पर टिकी है|और सच्चाई क्या है शायद ये आगे पता चले परएक बात तो ये तय है कि किसी की भीड़ द्वारा जान लेने पर भाजपा के संगीत सोम को उतना क्रोध नहीं आ रहा जितना गाय काटने की खबर का वो हवाला दे रहे हैं| अभी कुछ दिन पहले कानपुर के पास ही एक खेत में घुसने पर खेत के मालिकों ने एक गाय और उसके बछड़े कोलाठियों से पीट कर मार डाला था, कितनी ही गायें शहरों में ठंड में ठिठुरकर या कचरे खाते हुए मर खप जाती हैं मगर ताज्जुब है तब ना कोई गोरक्षा समिति सामने आतीहै और ना इस गाय-बछड़े के खेत में मारे जाने पर आई और ना ही उस वक्त संगीत सोम जैसे नेताओं को गाय के मरने पर कोई दिक्कत हुई| कारण स्पष्ट है वहाँ ध्रुवीकरण की राजनीति जो नहीं होनी थी जबकि अब इसके बहुत मौके हैं| औरआश्चर्य की बात तो यह है कि राजनाथ सिंह जी इसे साम्प्रदायिक रंग ना देने की बात कर रहे हैं और महेश शर्मा (भाजपा सांसद) का कहना है कि इसे एक दुर्घटना की तरह लिया जाए| बात ठीक है, जांच होने के बाद बातें करनी चाहिए लेकिन क्या फिर संगीत सोम जो उनकी ही पार्टी के हैं उनका ऐसी संवेदनशील जगह पर जाना और एक पक्ष को उकसानाठीक है? अगर अखिलेश सरकार को सोम एक पक्ष को समर्थन देने की बात कर रहे हैं तो वे खुद क्या कर रहे हैं?असल बात तो यह है कि भाजपा खुद भी उसी विचारधारा को समर्थित हैऔर यही हाल पार्टी केआलानेताओं का भी है| बस एक ही बात है कि थोड़ा सहज तरीके से वे उस विचारधारा पर कोई प्रतिक्रिया करने से बच जाते हैं और उनके ही दल के लोग उलटे कांग्रेस व सपा पर हीसिर्फ़ साम्प्रदायिकता करने का आरोप लगाते हैं| जबकि सच्चाई यह है कि भाजपा की पूरी बुनियाद ही एक समुदाय के ध्रुवीकरण पर टिकी हुई है| आखिरवहदेश की एक मुख्य बड़ी पार्टी के रूप में भी तो राम मंदिर आन्दोलन के बाद ही आई थी|दादरी में भाजपा के नेता संगीत सोम को उनअभियुक्तों की चिंता है तो उन्हें उस मृत व्यक्ति इखलाक की भी होनी चाहिए थी मगर द हिन्दू की खबर के अनुसार तब तो उन्होंने मुस्कुराते हुए जांच होने देने की बात कर दी|

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Christians oppose demand for ban on Agnes of God: Press Statement

October 5, 2015
We, the following signatories,  object to Mr. Joseph Dias, Secretary, Catholic Secular Forum, issuing press statements, representing himself as the spokesperson of the entire community while he seeks bans on films and plays on the ground that they hurt the sentiments of the Catholic religious community in India.  Since such demands tarnish the image of the entire community, we appeal to the press that they should not be projected as the views of the entire Christian community.
We wish to state that the views expressed by him are his own, or at best, that of his organization and this by no stretch of the imagination, can be portrayed as the views of the entire Catholic community, as is being done in recent times. His demands are sensational in nature and are self serving to attract media attention unto himself and we are opposed to the same.  

Dadri Beef Rumour and Lynching – A Report from Bisara village

October 5, 2015

The following is a report on the Dadri beef rumour and lynching, prepared by a fact finding team from NEW SOCIALIST INITIATIVE, PEOPLE’S ALLIANCE for DEMOCRACY and SECULARISM, SAHELI and DELHI SOLIDARITY GROUP, released in New Delhi on 05/10/2015

 The investigation team with the following members visited the village on 3 October 2015: Bonojit Hussain (New Socialist Initiative), Deepti Sharma (Saheli), Kiran Shaheen (writer and activist), Naveen Chander (New Socialist Initiative), Sanjay Kumar (People’s Alliance for Democracy and Secularism and New Socialist Initiative) and Sanjeev Kumar (Delhi Solidarity Group)

Akhlaq's house

Akhlaq’s house

On the night of 28 September, in a heinous instance of hate crime Mohammad Akhlaq a resident of Bisara village of Dadri in western Uttar Pradesh was lynched to death and his son Danish brutally assaulted by a mob of villagers over a rumour that Mr. Akhlaq and his family had slaughtered a calf and consumed its meat. Just before the lynching, an announcement was made from the local temple to spread the rumour, and within moments a mob constituted itself and attacked Mr. Akhlaq resulting in his lynching. Mr. Akhlaq’s son Danish has been in hospital since that night and despite undergoing two brain surgeries his condition is still said to be critical. Read more…

Stop Interfering in Nepal : Statement in Protest Against India’s Interference

October 5, 2015

After seven tumultuous years following the overthrow of the more than two century old monarchy which led to elections to form a Constituent Assembly, and many governments failing to fulfill the task of finalizing a Constitution, at last on 20th September the President of Nepal has promulgated the new Constitution amidst support from overwhelming majority of the CA and people. The Constitution creates seven states in a secular, federal system. Read more…

Volkswagen, Deutsche Bank and Ordoliberalism: Shrinivas Dharma

October 3, 2015


News of Volkswagen’s systematic cheating in emission tests by making its cars appear far less polluting than they are, has proved to be a bolt from the blue for the Global Automobile industry, financial markets, European politicians and German society at large. VW is more than just another car company. For German society, it is a heritage brand with iconic status. In a reputed poll last month, two-thirds of Germans named Volkswagen as the country’s number one national symbol, putting it before Merkel, the national football team and Goethe. No wonder, this news destroyed 10% of market value of the VW brand in a single trading day.

VW’s so-called “defeat device”  a piece of software in the car’s computer is already there on 11 million cars on the road which are emitting up to an extra 1m ton of a toxic gas responsible for killing tens of thousands people in various countries. With this insidious deception, VW has not only let down Germans but the entire Global Society by showing sheer contempt typical of a Big Business towards the continuing environmental degradation. No wonder, the news wiped out billions of dollars off the market value of entire car industry providing credence to the suspicion that emissions test rigging may be more widely practiced art, than what has come to light so far. Read more…


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