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An Example of the Liberal Media Defending Powerful Neoliberal Elites: Aditya Velivelli

July 30, 2016

Guest post by ADITYA VELIVELLI

A wife’s career taking a backseat due to her husband’s work is no trivial issue. However, Outlook magazine used this issue to defend a powerful couple who had giant conflicts of interest among them.

In the recent cabinet reshuffle, Minister of State for Finance, Jayant Sinha, was shifted out of the finance ministry. A few news articles came out speculating that Sinha’s transfer was due to his wife Punita Sinha’s conflicts of interest and because a Tea party organised by Jayant Sinha involved schmoozing between Corporates and bank officers. Jayant Sinha was in the process of organising a bailout fund for the bad corporate loans at that time. This bailout fund would be paid for by the tax payers.  Read more…

Relaa – Singing in dark times

July 30, 2016

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RELAA is a collective of cultural activists and independent artists across the country, on an ongoing journey to keep the space for dissent alive, for diverse understandings, imaginations and embodiments of resistance. Relaa does not wish to use the arts as an instrument for politics, but to create forms with rigour, passion, boldness and conviction – forms that can haunt, move, disturb and provoke people to think beyond facts.

Here is a song from them

FOR MORE SONGS AND INFORMATION ABOUT RELAA, VISIT THEIR WEBSITE.

Operation #BetiUthao – How the Sangh Parivar Hinduises tribal girls: Neha Dixit

July 30, 2016

An investigative report by NEHA DIXIT in Outlook on how the Sangh Parivar has flouted every law, to traffic 31 young tribal girls from Assam to Punjab and Gujarat to ‘Hinduise’ them, leaving their parents forlorn. In a three-month-long investigation, Outlook accessed government documents to expose how different Sangh outfits trafficked 31 tribal girls as young as three years from tribal areas of Assam to Punjab and Gujarat. Orders to return the children to Assam—including those from the Assam State Commission for the Protection of Child Rights, the Child Welfare Committee, Kokrajhar, the State Child Protection Society, and Childline, Delhi and Patiala—were violated by Sangh-run institutions with the help of the Gujarat and Punjab governments.

Excerpts from Neha Dixit’s five part story:

“I never wanted to send my daughter so far. What if she fell sick? What if she needed me? Where will I go looking for her? But this guy forced me,” says Adha Hasda, his eyes bloodshot with anger.

Mangal Mardi, his neighbour and a Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) worker, stood by the barbed-wire fence marking out the small cowdung-plastered patch on which Adha Hasda’s house stood. He got me to meet Adha to hear for myself about the excellent welfare work that the RSS was doing in Bashbari village of Gossaigaon area in Kokrajhar district. Adha’s unexpected outburst has stunned him. He uttered something in Assamese but Adha was undeterred.

“Then where is Srimukti? Tell me? You sent her!” says Adha, breaking down. His wife Phoolmani consoles him.

“Do you plan to send the other three children too, like Srimukti?” I ask.

“No,” he says, looking up in anger. “Not even if they pay me money.”

Mangal smirks at this exchange, kneeling by the pillar of house as he twirls a smartphone in his hand.

Read more…

The Gaze of the Developmental State and the Narmada Action Plans: Ashwin V.S

July 29, 2016

Guest Post by ASHWIN V.S

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Jal Satyagraha in Narmada valley 2013

The years following the Second World War were characterized by a renewed focus on the ‘Modernization’ of nation-states. While the constant feature of the post-war years was the high-stakes rivalry and arms race between the USA and the USSR; both tread a common ground as regards high-modernization and ‘development’. ‘Development’ fuelled growth was considered a panacea to all ills and soon became dominant across the post-colonial world. WW Rostow’s The Stages of Economic Growth was a significant work which argued for five stages of growth in which “traditional societies” could transform themselves into the “age of high mass-consumption”. It was no wonder therefore as to which nation-states were characterized as ‘traditional’ under this rubric and pushed towards ‘development’.

A standard feature of ‘development’ in India has been the showcasing of large scale industrial and apparently ‘public purpose’ projects; an instance of this is seen in the construction of large dams. As much as ‘modernization’ or ‘development’ can be witnessed through the industrial or ‘public’ projects themselves; the ambition of the ‘developmental state’ and its vision can certainly be understood through the one-constant feature of the bureaucratic machinery – paperwork.

Therefore, for the purposes of this essay, I attempt to evaluate the ambition of the post-colonial ‘developmental state’ in India by analyzing the language of a few planning documents. In this case, I consider the Narmada Valley Development Authority’s (NVDAs) Action Plans prepared in the years 1991, 1993, 1995 and 2000 for the Resettlement and Rehabilitation (R&R) of Sardar Sarovar Project ‘oustees’ in Madhya Pradesh. These Documents are revealing in aspects of the modern state’s enterprise and it’s most significant undertaking, planning.

The State’s gaze and legibility:

James Scott’s magnificent work Seeing Like a State characterizes a crucial difference between the pre-modern state and the modern state: while the former “was in many crucial respects, partially blind” and “knew precious little about its subjects”, the modern state is consumed by a desire to know. Armed with statistics and other tools of ‘accuracy’, the modern state stakes its claim to the accurate depiction of the social world, which it then tries to alter in accordance to its designs of ‘development’. Read more…

In Solidarity With Irom Sharmila – Repeal AFSPA: Forum Against Oppression of Women

July 29, 2016

Statement issued by FORUM AGAINST OPPRESSION OF WOMEN

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Let Us Work Together To Create New Strategies Of Struggle Against Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA)

We wholeheartedly support the decision of Irom Sharmila to withdraw, her fast of nearly 16 years for the revocation of AFSPA, we salute Irom Sharmila for her undying spirit, heroic struggle and undeterred determination in struggle against AFSPA.
It is our responsibility to take the struggle further and also support Irom Sharmila in her continuing struggle against AFSPA.
 
The history of post-Independence India is also the history of subjugation of the citizens of the North-eastern region. There has been a systematic crushing by the Indian state of their aspirations, and a consistent betrayal of promises made. The Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) was enacted as long ago as 1958, in order to suppress the genuine protests of the region’s inhabitants.
 
What is essentially a political issue has been treated simplistically as a law and order problem. AFSPA gives unbridled powers to the army and airforce. (Mizoram is the only part of India where the air force has actually bombed its own people.) The original Act allowed state governments to declare an area to be ‘disturbed’ and to call in the army. A 1972 amendment further allowed the central government to override state governments in order to do the same in any area.
 
AFSPA gives army officers the power to arrest without warrant, to shoot and kill on mere suspicion, to destroy property, and many other such draconian powers. The armed forces are required to act “in aid of” civilian authorities, but that caveat exists only on paper. In reality the army has virtually taken over large areas for decades together now, becoming a force unto itself, answerable to none. No army personnel may be prosecuted without permission from the central government – a permission hardly ever granted. Even bodies like the National and State Human Rights Commissions have little jurisdiction when it comes to human rights violations in the context of AFSPA.
 
What might have served at best as a short-term measure has become a permanent feature in Manipur and most of the North East (except Tripura where AFSPA was withdrawn in May 2015) and some parts of Kashmir. Yet the AFSPA is in violation of various international instruments that India has ratified, such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), the Convention Against Torture, the UN Code of Conduct for Law Enforcement Officials, the UN Body of Principles for Protection of All Persons Under Any Form of Detention, and the UN Principles on Effective Prevention and Investigation of Extra-Legal and Summary Executions.  It is patently unconstitutional, which makes it all the more unfortunate that the Indian Supreme Court got carried away by security concerns and upheld the constitutional validity of the Act.
 
In Manipur there has been widespread unhappiness, with the continuing abuse of human rights by the armed forces under cover of AFSPA causing bitter grievances to surface. Protests against these abuses are a constant feature. In one unique protest in 2004, angered by the custodial rape, torture and killing of 32-year-old Manorama who was picked up from her home on “suspicion”, a number of women paraded naked in front of an army base in protest against the army’s atrocities against women. The other unique and non-violent protest has been that of Irom Sharmila, poet and activist from Manipur. In what has possibly been the longest fast-unto-death anywhere, she has spent more than fifteen years now refusing food and demanding the repeal of AFSPA. For these fifteen years she has lived under arrest and been kept alive through intravenous force-feeding by the authorities.

Read more…

Is there a flag large enough to cover the blood shed in Kashmir? Adnaan Murtazaa

July 29, 2016

Guest post by ADNAAN MURTAZAA

I’m no writer but my desire and attempt to write is a way for me to liberate myself from the yoke of Indian oppression (of state and media), and this unprecedented criminal approach of the establishment; to speak and voice the pain of Kashmiri people and of those whose tragedy has always been morphed to meet suitable ends by the Indian media which has acted as a state instrumentality in condoning and justifying brutalities. Over the years and decades the deliberately misrepresented reportage on Kashmir has shown Kashmiris the true colour of the fourth pillar of democracy – to justify the fifth pillar of Indian democracy in Kashmir – oppression!

I want to talk about how highly painful is it for us to share the tragic incidents of human rights violations. Its humiliating to post the images and videos of victims of brutal onslaught, images which never actually capture the seething pain and helplessness of the people. The killings, injuries, tortures – 5 year old child being injured in the eye, countless eye injuries resulting in blindness of many  by use of shotguns aka pellet guns, 70 year old person being beaten, a man weeping and wailing at the death of his son..and the list goes on.

It feels, although it’s not really so, that we are selling our pain and agony to gain sympathy so that the world protests and empathizes, condemns and criticizes the largest, so called, democracy of the world, legitimizes and presses for the realization of our rightful demands.

It’s terrible to have such a feeling but I’m prepared to shame and humiliate myself because we have no other option but to highlight our own plight and sufferings. Meanwhile the yellow journalists of India sitting in their cozy rooms manipulate our sorrowful tales to get the desired results for pleasing their masters and gaining TRP by sensationalizing human tragedies. Read more…

Kashmir’s Freedom is India’s Freedom: Hum Kya Chahte? Azadi

July 28, 2016

I do not think ordinary Indians support the brutality of army occupation in Kashmir. Despite what the Indian state says, and despite what the Indian army and CRPF are doing, I honestly do not believe that any ordinary Indian supports the torture of young men, the blinding of people attending a funeral, the rape of women, the killings and maiming and abuse and humiliation that are now a routinized fact of daily life in the Kashmir valley. To believe that ordinary Indians enjoy watching this spectacle of violence, that ordinary Indians take pleasure in the torture of children, would be to think India is now a country comprised of sadistic psychopaths. I honestly do not think ordinary Indians are psychopaths. I do think, however, that ordinary Indians, and I count myself amongst them, have somehow managed, till now, to keep some distance between what is happening in Kashmir and the idea of India as a whole. After all, India is a large and complex country, a huge and diverse society. Everything that happens in Kashmir, the brutality of the army and the security forces, cannot signify the whole truth of India we tell ourselves. It seems somehow unfair to us ordinary Indians that what happens in Kashmir reflects on us all.

But the time has come now to squarely face some hard truths about ourselves, and the dissimulations, psychological and social, by which we continue to live in this country and call ourselves ‘Indians’. Read more…

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