Guest Post by Ravi Sinha
Recently, the Indian Prime Minister had occasion to report to the Japanese on his genealogy and haematic chemistry. Addressing a house-full of corporate honchos in Tokyo he declared, “I am a Gujarati, money is in my blood”. One does not know what percentage of Gujaratis would feel insulted by such a description. It can be asked, perhaps more meaningfully, if great civilizations are created by money-in-the-blood types and one may wonder if Gujarati greats such as Narsi Mehta, Narmad, Govardhan Ram or Gandhi, too, had money flowing in their blood.
There is also some irony in the situation – prime minister of a country with the largest number of world’s poor boasting about ‘money in the blood’ to the richest men of a country that has, in the post-war decades, made more money per capita than any other on the planet. This prime minister can be accused of many things but not of lacking in hubris unencumbered by learning and cultivation.
One may wonder about something else too. The Indians may deserve their new prime minister and all his speeches – on the Independence Day, the Teacher’s Day and on all the other days. After all, they have elected him. But what have the Japanese done to deserve this? What forces them, despite the depth and dignity of their civilization, to lap up such crassness and banality?
The answer can be given in one word – money. Read more…
Guest Post by Gowhar Fazili
The floods in Kashmir can provide an outsider a momentary glimpse into the reality of Kashmir behind the corporate media propaganda smokescreen that is fumbling at the moment and like Truman Show (1998) exposing bits of the backstage. At the moment there are three key actors in Kashmir. There are the floods, the state and the people. Each one is on its own. One limb of the state—the state government was the first to crumble before the approaching waters. The other limb—the mammoth military apparatus that has already inundated Kashmir since several decades, took two days to wake up to the crisis and when it finally did, its priority was to fish out the rich Indian tourists and the people close to the establishment out of the state. In the initial days, local people had to risk their own lives to get their marooned relatives to safety. Some hired local boats, some swam or waded through water, some made makeshift rafts out of anything that floats, including water tanks, car tubes, foam sheets, inflated baby bathtubs, so on and so forth to save their dear ones. The rest either drowned or kept moving up the floors of their houses as the waters kept rising until they reached their attics.
In Jadavpur University (a State aided university of West Bengal), the Arts Students Faculty Union organizes a students’ cultural festival, Sanskriti. On the second night of the festival, an incident of violence occurred in the campus that resulted in a chain of events.
On the night of 28th August, during the ongoing festival, a second year student from the Department of History, Jadavpur University, was allegedly molested inside campus premises by a group of people from the hostel, and her male friend (not a JU student), was beaten up. According to the victim, she had gone near the hostel to relieve herself given the unavailability of bathrooms at the time, accompanied by her friend. On their way back, a group of hostel boys allegedly passed snide remarks which led to a scuffle, and then escalated to something bigger. While her friend was allegedly pulled away and beaten up, she was dragged into the hostel, where she claims she was molested. Read more…
Newspapers have been reporting about an application for clarification filed, it appears, by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment with the Supreme Court about the NALSA judgment on transgender rights. Here is the full text of that application, and here is a very useful and short summary of its content. The reflections below follow from that summary.
Any move that makes the inclusion of trans-men, non-hijra trans-women, and genderqueer/trans folks in the SC judgment explicit is welcome. Many had written to the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment seeking this, following the MSJE report and the judgment. The principle of self-determination of gender identity without psychological and medical examination or surgery is upheld and that remains critical.
“ Why did Muktibodh became uniquely significant in the summer of 1964? Why did …almost all the weeklies, monthlies and dailies started introducing him to their readers?” Fifty years ago, Shamsher Bahadur Singh, asked this question in the preface to Chand Ka Munh Tedha hai, the first anthology of poems of Muktibodh being compiled.
Muktibodh then, was in a state of coma , being brought to Delhi from Rajnadgaon,a small town in Chhattisgarh, by his young writer comrades – like Harishankar Parsai, Srikant Verma and Ashok Vajpeyi, in a desperate, last ditch attempt to save their beloved elder poet. It was not be . He breathed his last on 11 September, 1964 at the AIIMS , before completing his 47th year. And in the words of Shamsher, the story of heroic struggle of his brief life and tragic, untimely death turned him into an event for the world of Hindi literature.
Gajanan Madhav Muktibodh continues to be an event of Hindi literature, the full meaning of which is still being discussed. And yet, he as a poet was not interested in portraying events . He was more interested in the drama of the human soul, rather soul of a human being, ravaged, wrecked and fatally wounded by industrial modernity. Living the life of a lower middle class family man, constantly changing jobs and places in search of a modestly secure life which would allow him to write the kind of poetry he wanted, he witnessed the humanness and individuality of the people being crushed under the ruthless wheels of capitalist modernity. Read more…
Guest Post by Faiz Ullah
The following text is a version of a text originally written for Faridabad Majdoor Samachar, a workers’ paper distributed in Faridabad, Gurgaon and Delhi. It is an attempt to speak to the concerns often expressed by workers’ about what they consider to be inadequate and unfair representation of their issues in the mainstream media
मीडिया और मज़दूर
समाज जैसे-जैसे बड़ा और जटिल होता जाता है वैसे-वैसे हमारे एक दूसरे से सम्बन्ध कमज़ोर होने लगते हैं। ऐसे में हम एक दुसरे को कैसे जानें, कैसे समझें? मीडिया के ज़रिये हम अपनी बात आगे रख सकते हैं, दूसरों की सुन सकते हैं और अपने तजुर्बों को साझा कर सकते हैं। चर्चा-बहस भी कर सकते हैं और किस तरह का समाज बनाना है उसकी एक साथ कल्पना कर सकते हैं। समाज में मीडिया की एक बड़ी भूमिका बनती है। वैसे तो मीडिया को आपकी और हमारी बातों को जगह देनी चाहिए पर आमतौर पर ऐसा होता नहीं है। हमारी बातों, हमारे मुद्दों को बड़े टीवी चैनल और अखबार हमेशा ही नज़रअंदाज़ करते रहे हैं।
Striving for plurality in Media – The promises and shortcomings of TRAI’s recommendations on media ownership: Smarika Kumar
Guest post by SMARIKA KUMAR
TRAI published a set of recommendations on issues relating to media ownership on 12 August 2014. A summary of the key points of these recommendations may be found here. But what do these recommendations imply for the freedom of speech and expression in India? This post is an attempt to contextualise TRAI’s recommendations against this question.
From No Regulation on the Business of Speech to Some Regulation on the Business of Speech
In its introductory chapter, TRAI says that the objective of its recommendations is to achieve plurality of views and opinions in media. It states:
“The objective of these recommendations is not, in any sense whatsoever, to curb the media or deprive it of its rights – that, in fact, would be a disservice to the Indian citizen – but to put in place suitable safeguards that would ensure citizens the right to obtain objective, unbiased and diverse views and opinions.” (para 1.5)
This is a remarkable move because the idea of media plurality has remained contested in the understanding of Article 19(1)(a) of our Constitution, which guarantees the right to freedom of speech and expression to Indian citizens. The whole dance began in 1961 with the judgment of Sakal Newspapers v. Union of India, where the government sought to regulate the number of pages a newspaper could carry. Since such regulation would make newspaper prices of smaller newspapers comparable to big newspapers, the government argued that it would enable the smaller newspapers to secure larger circulation. One can clearly see how this was an attempt at enabling plurality in the newspaper business, so that the smaller voices are not stifled by the big voices.