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“Those Backward People” – Arun Jaitley and a Long Ugly History

April 10, 2015

Two days ago, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley sought to make a special mention of “poor, dalits, tribals, backwards, those who are landless.” The occasion was the the Land Acquisition Bill, which,

“we are bringing, as per that the industrial corridors which would be set up in the country, those backward people, the 300 million landless people would get employment opportunities,”

First, Mr Jaitley, what exactly is the mechanism your government proposes by which the “backwards” released from the land will be absorbed into industry? Is there a guarantee by the industry owners? Is there a provision for skill training in the same industrial corridors? Are there ITI institutes being set up? Forget these, is even primary or secondary education going to be expanded so that farmers’ children, at some point in the distant future can take advantage of the supposed industrial boom? Read more…

Being Empowered the Vogue Way – Is There Anything Left to be Said?

April 9, 2015

Really, nothing. It’s been more than a week since the Vogue Empower video directed by Homi Adajania and featuring Deepika Padukone amongst others, has appeared, been watched, digested, commented upon, counter-videoed, spoofed and counter-spoofed. And a week on the internet constitutes nothing less than a geological age of course, so there’s been a veritable melting Ice Age of responses. To list just some of the reactions to the video – the female fan responses, that say kudos to Deepika for “saying it like it is”. Uncritically starry-eyed as they are, they point to the real chord struck by the video with thousands of young women fighting, thinking, arguing and surviving their way through a breathtakingly conflicted urban India. This is an India that by all appearances works hard and parties hard, in the process occupying a fraught and frequently violent terrain of interaction between the sexes.

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Come and see the blood on my skirt: Statement from Organisers

April 8, 2015

Statement from the organisers of this campaign in University of Delhi : SHAMBHAVI VIKRAM, RAFIUL ALOM RAHMAN, DEEPTI SHARMA, DEVANGANA KALITA

No more Whispers!
No more Murmurs! No More Silence!

Its time we scream!
Come and see the blood on my skirt.
Come and see the blood on my skirt.

All these years we have been taught to hide or hush up the fact that women bleed. And yet, despite all the hushing up and all the bleeding blue that society, media and our families have been piling upon us, women still continue to bleed and bleed they shall till the end of ‘man'(!)kind. This blood that has been marked ‘impure’, marked ‘dirty’, marked ‘shameful’, has brought many of us much pain and here we are not talking just about menstrual cramps.

lal salaam

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Updating of “National Register of Citizens” and Recent Political Developments in Assam: Abdul Kalam Azad

April 8, 2015

Guest post by ABDUL KALAM AZAD

On 21st July, 2010 one of my close family relatives, Mydul Mullah (25) was one among the thousands of marginalized Muslims of Barpeta district who were demonstrating in front of Deputy Commissioner’s office at district headquarter demanding an error-free fresh NRC (National Register of Citizens). Eventually, police brutally cracked down on the picketers and fired upon them for the ‘crime’ of exercising their democratic right to peacefully protest. After the police firing Mydul Mullah along with his three comrades Khandakar Matleb (20), Siraj Ali (27) and Majam Ali (55) succumbed to the bullet injuries. The Tarun Gogoi led Assam government was forced to suspend the faulty NRC pilot project due to unprecedented public outrage.

The question of ‘illegal migration’ from Bangladesh has been one of the most significant and emotive topics in the political milieu of Assam for almost half a century now. .

The six-year long movement (1979-1985) against illegal immigration, popularly known as the Assam Movement, spear headed by All Assam Students Union claimed itself to be a secular and nonviolent new social movement of ‘indigenous’ people to drive out the illegal immigrants. But analyses of scholars and social scientists like Prof. Hiren Gohain, Prof. Monirul Hussain, Dr. Debabrata Sarma, Diganta Sarma etc. reveal that as soon as the Assam movement accommodated right wing RSS workers into its leadership, the whole movement turned against Muslims of Bengali origin in Assam. Heinous massacres like that of Nellie, Chaolkhuwa, Nagabandha etc. were orchestrated against Muslims of Bengali origin and in broad day light thousands of people were killed. After six years of deadlock, the movement culminated in the signing of the ‘Assam Accord’ with the Government of India in 1985. The accord says that the immigrants, who came to Assam after 25th of March, 1971 will be detected and deported from Assam. One of the mandates of the accord was to update the 1951 National Register of Citizen to facilitate identification of illegal immigrants from Bangladesh in Assam.   Read more…

धर्मनिरपेक्ष कर्तव्यनिष्ठा और अल्पसंख्यक संकीर्णता

April 5, 2015

उच्चतम न्यायालय के न्यायमूर्ति कुरियन जोसेफ ने भारत के मुख्य न्यायाधीश एच.एल.दत्तू को ख़त लिखकर गुड फ्राइडे के दिन न्यायाधीशों का सम्मलेन करने पर ऐतराज जताया. उन्होंने लिखा कि इस पवित्र दिन को वे अपने परिजनों के साथ केरल में रहेंगे, “मैं गहरी पीड़ा के साथ इस बात की ओर आपका ध्यान दिलाना चाहता हूँ कि ऐसा महत्त्वपूर्ण सम्मलेन उस समय नहीं किया जाना चाहिए जब हममें से कुछ लोग इन पवित्र दिनों में धार्मिक अनुष्ठान में व्यस्त होते हैं और जो पारिवारिक मिलन का अवसर भी होता है.” उन्होंने कहा कि ऐसे महत्त्वपूर्ण कार्यक्रम दीवाली, दशहरा या ईद में नहीं किए जाते.

न्यायमूर्ति कुरियन ने कहा कि गुड फ्राइडे जैसे धार्मिक और राष्ट्रीय अवकाश के दिनों में इस तरह के कार्यक्रम करके न्यायपालिका दूसरी संवैधानिक और सार्वजनिक संस्थाओं को एक प्रकार का गलत सन्देश दे रही है जिससे वे सभी धार्मिक या पवित्र दिनों को समान महत्त्व और प्रतिष्ठा न देने को बाध्य महसूस करें.

न्यायमूर्ति कुरियन को इसकी आशंका है कि वे ईसाई हैं और इसी कारण उनके ऐतराज को साम्प्रदायिक माना जाएगा, “कृपया यह न सोचें कि मैं कोई साम्प्रदायिक संकेत दे रहा हूँ. चूँकि मैं देख रहा हूँ कि हम जैसे संस्थान, जिन पर संविधान के अनुसार धर्मनिरपेक्ष माहौल की हिफाजत और धर्मनिरपेक्ष छवि को प्रमुखता देने की जिम्मेदारी है, धीरे-धीरे संवैधानिक जिम्मेदारियों से विमुख हो रहे हैं, मैंने इस चिंता को लिखित रूप में व्यक्त करने को सोचा.”   Read more…

An Open Letter to the Protestors at the National Law University: Space Theatre Ensemble

April 1, 2015

Guest post by SPACE THEATRE ENSEMBLE

Thank you for renewing this much needed dialogue on freedom of expression.

We happen to be, by sheer coincidence, a four-piece all-women theatre group that performs poetry, and have been following the correspondence over the sexist performance of stand-up comedian Avish Matthew with some interest – all the more so since we are now touring in Delhi and its environs.

The protestors are absolutely right when they point out that domestic violence is not a laughing matter and we completely endorse their views on why Avish’s jokes just weren’t funny.

We do not believe in laughter as just therapy to laugh off the stress of living the good life.

However, as a professional theatre ensemble we also strongly disagree with the predictable, and frankly irrelevant form of agitprop used by the protestors against Avish.  Protest need not be chaotic, so far more vehemently we condemn the supposedly liberal students and others who heckled, booed, poked and shoved but stopped just short of physically molesting the protestors. Read more…

Ban-man on the prowl again: Malvika Sharad

April 1, 2015

Guest Post by MALVIKA SHARAD on the recent call by Delhi University Students’ Union for a ban on the street play by Khalsa College theatre group, Ankur.

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Image courtesy rediff.com

One evening in 2013, a group of ‘street play seniors’ as we call them, visited us in the front lawns of my college, Lady Shri Ram College for Women. They were from various colleges across DU who had been actively involved in street theatre, and had been invited to give the newly formed street play team of that year, an introduction to the art form. Among those seniors was a dynamic young chap from Khalsa College, who reiterated several times that street theatre fills you with such immense courage that you end up doing things you never thought you would, for that courage comes from the sheer truth and brutal honesty that street theatre is based upon. He said that freedom of expression is taken to a whole new level when you perform amidst crowds, and state the truth looking directly into their eyes. A fire is born within you that cannot be extinguished, it burns brighter with every performance of the play. You become fearless in voicing your opinions and thoughts, so fearless that you don’t even realize how far you have pushed your own limits and emerged triumphant.

After a whole year dedicated to doing street plays in Delhi, I have learnt how right he was, that young student not much older than us. I find I have come out of my shell, shedding my inhibitions at a pace and scale I had never imagined. Torn chappals don’t bother me anymore, my sun-burned skin makes me look beautiful, I don’t flinch with embarrassment while sitting, sometimes lying, on the floor of the metro station out of sheer weariness, though co passengers stare at me with judgemental eyes, I can’t bring myself to stop romanticizing the mud and the dirt that hug me every time I wear my soiled street play kurta… But above all, I can articulate my thoughts properly now, I am not scared of speaking in public unlike the times when I was a meek docile person, cocooned in the comforts of home and parental pampering. I owe this change in my attitude and personality to street theatre, which taught me what it is to live confidently and fearlessly.

Read more…

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