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Ruminations of a Holy Cow: Satya Sagar

October 27, 2014

Guest Post by SATYA SAGAR

I am a humble cow from India and writing this to clear up some of the bull being propagated about me and members of my family for a long time.

I am not using the term ‘humble’ out of some false sense of modesty but only because this reflects the true status of most cows in this country. Irrespective of the propaganda about our ‘exalted status’ cows in India are an oppressed lot, on par with the ordinary people of India.

In fact cows, have been the template for exploitation around the world, being among the first animals to be ‘domesticated’ by the human species. Once cows, along with dogs and sheep, were enslaved it was only a matter of time before the male of this evil species thought ‘how wonderful it would if I could also domesticate women, children and members of neighbouring tribes?’

The rest is history. Of course, the history of human ‘civilisation’. The four terms ‘captured, tethered, milked, butchered’ – which is what has happened to cows over millennia- can neatly describe the entire march of ‘progress’ of human societies from feudalism to modern day financial capitalism.

I laughed out loud reading Marx the other day ( I found his book while rummaging for food in a garbage bin) where he talks of ending the ‘exploitation of man by man’! Well before all that came the exploitation of cows by man! Read more…

The ‘new and improved’ Love Jihad formula, unethical media and ‘social science’ votaries

October 26, 2014

Caught on the back foot by the humiliating backfiring of their fantastical Meerut scenario of ‘gangrape and forcible conversion’, in which the role of the BJP as well as of sundry Hindutvavaadi organizations in breaking up a consensual Hindu-Muslim relationship have been thoroughly exposed, the Hindu Right appears to have arrived at a new formula. This formula has made its appearance in several spaces – in comments on Kafila (some of which have been passed, many more deleted; mostly pseudonymous or anonymous, and in varying degrees of abusiveness); on the social media and in personal blogs; and more respectably, in newspapers, in signed op-eds and articles, the most recent of them by the perennially amusing Madhu Kishwar.

The formula is patented across these sites and involves all or several of the following claims:

a) Hindutvavaadi groups are not the only ones to fear ‘Love Jihad’ – the Church in Kerala and the Akal Takht have also expressed their anxieties about this campaign. So there must be some fire generating all the smoke.

b) So real is the danger that the claims have been investigated by the police, as directed to do so by courts.

c) Hindutvavaadi groups have no objection to inter-faith marriage, what they object to is the cheating of Hindu women into marriage in a well orchestrated campaign by Muslim men who trap them in polygamous marriages only to convert them and produce several children, thus raising the Muslim population.

d) What is happening in India is only a small part of the Global Islamic Terror Machine’s global campaign to use non-Muslim women as sex slaves, to prostitute them, or to seduce them in order to convert them. The recent exposure of a pedophile ring in the UK run by Pakistani men is treated as proof of the existence of such a globally coordinated campaign in which all Muslims are suspect – from Al-Baghdadi of ISIS to your classmate.

e) As irrefutable proofs, three links are generally circulated: a) a programme of IBN7 that ‘exposes Love Jihad’, and b) two videos of young women who supposedly speak about being victims of Love Jihad.

Madhu Kishwar in her article asserts all of these claims produced by the RSS Myth Machine, although she is probably not yet aware of the last item – which I will address at length in conclusion. Read more…

A Reply to Ranabir Samaddar on Jadavpur: Uditi Sen

October 26, 2014

Guest Post by UDITI SEN

Prof. Ranabir Samaddar of the Calcutta Research Group has recently published a screed (in the DNA Newspaper) against the #Hokkolorob movement  initiated by the students of Jadavpur University which has found resonance with students and young people all over West Bengal and elsewhere in India. Samaddar, who seems to have lost the ability to recognize the many intersections of solidarity between students, young people in metropolitan as well as non-metropolitan contexts, women, young workers, accuses the movement of what he calls ‘elitism’ and a disconnect with realities on the ground.

Uditi Sen responds.

It is settled then. With this latest denunciation (by Ranabir Samaddar, in DNA, see link above) of the student movement at Jadavpur, we finally have a verdict we can trust. Student politics is not what it used to be. The glory days of the 60s are long gone and the protesting young today fail to live up to the authentic radicalism of their elders. Those were the days, indeed. Those were the days when student politics, organised under the banner of the organised left took up real issues, such as those of the peasants and workers and did not distract themselves with inequities closer to home. Such as, why women ‘comrades’ were expected to cook and clean and provide for their men, who led the vanguard. Such as why even the most progressive politics, when speaking of the rights of peasants, meant the rights of male peasants. Those indeed were the days of glory, which we should remember and seek to emulate, when the leaders, usually dadas, had no answers when a peasant woman asked, ‘“Why should my comrade beat me at home?” (See Samita Sen’s Toward a Feminist Politics: The Indian Women’s Movement in Historical Perspective)

Read more…

Sanskrit and Language Politics Then and Now: Muruganandham

October 24, 2014
Guest post by MURUGANANDHAM*

When all the arrangements were made by the corporate media and Hinduist forces for ensuring that Modi became the next Prime Minister, the democratic forces and progressive political organizations were still trying hard to make people understand his real agenda of imposing corporate capitalism and Brahminical Hinduism, in a rapidly fascist manner, in the guise of “development”. Middle class voters were lured by the media and believed him to be the harbinger of “development”. After taking over the rule at the center, Modi’s government has taken up the burden of disproving the undue trust placed on it by the unfortunate Indian middle class – through an array of anti-people activities like cutting of the gas subsidy, privatization of the public sector and substantial hike in train-fare, not to mention the red-carpet rolled out to FDI investments in defense and railway sectors. The Modi government has also been quite manipulative, and has tried to distract people’s attention from these vicious schemes, by working out cultural and social programs with attractive sounding slogans.  The imposition of Sanskrit week, Hindi usage for official purposes, Guru Utsav and more recently the Svach Bharat Abhiyan are only some of those programs which rely purely upon empty rhetoric, hardly having any logic or working mechanism. Invoking people’s imagination towards the “national” symbols is a constant resort of the rulers for political mobilization. More often than not in the Indian context, Sanskrit has been used for this political end in order to sustain the eternal hegemony of Brahminical forces. The present politics behind imposing Sanskrit as the symbol of national heritage and culture by the BJP government certainly demands a much broader understanding of the historical role played by Sanskrit and other languages in shaping the societal structure and cultures. The language which was once denied to the people is now promoted to be the language of all Indians. Let’s attempt to unearth this irony of imposing Sanskrit as the language of “ALL” so as to reveal the ridiculousness of these announcements and the urgent need to oppose them. Read more…

Love Jihad and the roots of hate: John Dayal

October 23, 2014

JOHN DAYAL writes:

Three parallel strands of India’s cultural history have merged in recent times into a lethal phenomenon that has been termed “Love Jihad”, which has not only obtruded into the personal lives of young men and women of Hindu, Muslim, Sikh and Christian religious communities, but has put to grave risk individual security and community peace.

A attitude to Muslims that verges on Islamaphobia, a pathological hatred for conversions to Christianity – both seen as disturbing the demographic equation in India to  overwhelm the Hindu majority take the traditional national culture of feudalism and patriarchy to a new and explosive level. The current crisis in the Middle east and on the borders with Pakistan in Jammu and Kashmir provide the trigger, as it were, to the short fuse.

The Indo-Gangetic plans of North India are the main sites of this confrontation but its repercussions have been seen deep in the states of southern India, and the Indian and south Asian diaspora in the United Kingdom and the United states of America.

Political encouragement and patronage to lumpen and criminal moral vigilante groups, administrative and police impunity have led to targetted violence, a wave of hate campaigns, a polarized landscape, and deeply traumatised young couples who have dared, and sometimes married across religious borders. The media has taken sides, the Hindi language newspapers and  television news channels  exhibiting majoritarian bigotry. Civil society has found itself outnumbered.

The church, willy nilly, has found itself dragged into this unsavoury situation. Senior  episcopal and lay leadership of both Catholic and  protestant  denominations have so far not been audible in the defence of what, at the end of the day, are issues of human rights guaranteed under the Indian Constitution  and the Charter of the United Nations.

Read the rest of this article here.

“Haider” – Hamlet in Kashmir: Suhas Munshi

October 21, 2014

This is a guest post by SUHAS MUNSHI

The challenge of telling stories of a conflict is its victims. Each, traumatized in their own way, needs their own story. The narrator is bound to fail not only those he didn’t include but those who didn’t see their stories recreated faithfully. Had Basharat Peer set himself the task of faithfully adapting the violence done to Kashmiris he would have had to script a pornographic narrative for the screen. Some of the bile directed at him from Kashmiris comes from a dissatisfaction of not depicting the true extent of the brutality of the Indian army and rendering its casualties adequately pitiful. An opinion piece written on the movie in ‘The Parallel Post’ titled ‘Setting the wrong precedent’ condemns torture scenes in the movie as having actually undermined the actual extent of army atrocity in Kashmir. The piece goes on to say, ‘army excesses wane out by the time movie reaches its climax.’

However, the only service that a story teller from Kashmir could do to art and to humanity is to depict the people living there, especially the victims, as humans; as people, just as they are found anywhere else in the world, and not continue to peddle the cliché of the valley being a dehumanized pastoral paradise. Accusations of betrayal, conceit and condescension are being hurled at Basharat Peer, the writer, when he has got, for the first time ever, the words ‘plebiscite’, ‘half-widows’ and the rousing call of ‘Azadi’ in a script, through a movie, on mainstream cinema. Read more…

‘Make in India’ – Modi’s War on the Poor

October 20, 2014

For some months now, I have been thinking of someone whom I saw on television during the parliamentary election campaign. The place was Benaras and Modi’s candidature from the seat had just been declared. The television journalist was interviewing a group of clearly poor people, taking their reactions on this new, though expected development. This person, fairly drunk in his Modi-elixir – and perhaps also a bit literally drunk – swaggered as he answered, affirming his support for Modi: Modi bhi chaiwala hai, hum bhi chaiwala hain (Modi is also a tea-seller and I am also a tea-seller). His words reflected the success of the remarkable gamble – that of projecting the new poster boy of corporate capital as a humble tea-seller. It was clear how so many of the poor had bought into this campaign.

What reminded me of this person initially, was that very soon after the election results were out, even before the government was formed, ‘team Modi’ announced a series of measures for the development of Benaras, which included the building of 60 flyovers – ‘to ease traffic congestion’. Mainly meant for the benefit of smooth flow of motorized traffic (rikshas, cycles and pedestrians, after all, have little place in the economy of the flyover), this was the beginning of a plan that would transform this holy city. If the experience of building flyovers anywhere in India is any experience, this would additionally mean mass demolition of settlements of the poor, shops and even entire informal markets – including tea shops that have long been part of life of local communities.

Then the government took office. Within a couple of months, the plan for Varanasi’s upgradation started being drawn up more concretely. Not everything in the proposed subsequent plan (end July 2014) seemed objectionable -not the least the idea to work on a possible mono rail, improvement of the bus network, and a Bus Rapid Transit System (BRTS) like the one in Ahmedabad. Except that this would mean more and more dislocation of the poor and destruction of their livelihoods. We have seen this happen in city after city in India, including in Delhi. Read more…

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