Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Lenin in Tripura: The Many Pleasures of ‘Hindu Rashtra'

Pavel Tomar

Nothing reveals the logic of Sangh Parivar better than Goebbels’s quip about culture: ‘When I hear the word “culture”, I reach for my gun’. The standard interpretation makes us read this statement in terms of historical empiricism: in order to defend his ‘pure’ German culture from ‘outsiders’ and ‘enemies’ like Jews, gypsies and communists, Goebbels would use a gun to eradicate them, like he did, as Hitler’s minister, with wars and concentration camps. However, Slavoj Žižek aims at a kind of speculative shift, and proposes that the gun itself is the German culture that Goebbels wants to defend. And a leftist reversal of this statement: ‘When I hear the word “gun”, I reach for culture’, to which we will return in the latter half of this essay.  

The first thing that strikes us is in the destruction of Lenin’s statues in Tripura is the sheer excess of such acts: when electoral power has been already wrested from a communist party which is on retreat elsewhere, why go on an overdrive to destroy the visual cultural icons, attack the cadres (a large number of whom joined either Trinamool Congress or BJP in Bengal), ransack party offices? Furthermore, the upholders of Hindu Rashtra are reported to have also “played football” with broken the pieces of the statues, like bloody-minded characters in Bollywood films who are not content after simply killing their enemies: they must go beyond ordinary killing in a kind of orgy of violence, as if to exorcise the ghosts even after the death. No wonder that Marx compared Communism to a ghost, a spectre in his Communist Manifesto. The words used by Narendra Modi and Ram Madhav reminded closely the words of Uma Bharati after Babri Masjid demolition: ‘Now I can die in peace.’ In other words, it is an act of fascist aesthetic in politics, similar to Goebbels’ reaching for his gun, to lay behind the spectre of communism.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Modi Doesn’t Care- Mindless expansion of Health Insurance


"The State has played a critical role over last three decades in the expansion of organised health care market in the country. Be it through provision of free land and electricity for setting up private hospitals, or systematic destruction of public institutions through chronic under-investment, or ensuring supply of skilled health professional to private sector through complete ban on recruitments in public sector; or through user fees and public private partnerships, health sector reforms have been used by the neo-liberal establishment to expand private sector in large metropolitan cities at the cost of public services. Government’s persistence with insurance models epitomize the growing strength of for-profit sector which sees insurance as a vehicle to expand further in smaller towns and rural areas at the cost of public exchequer. Insurance programs are seen as immense opportunity to ‘commodify’ and ‘medicalise’ the ‘health market’ in areas where the demand for health services remains low otherwise. Under the aegis of finance capital, governments are being called upon to expand their financing function so that the private provider and insurance market gets ‘business’, to survive and thrive, in the name of providing ‘efficient’ and ‘quality’ care."

Saturday, January 20, 2018

War on Science

Abha Dev Habib 

We all know that the current government is engaged in a war with History, as established facts are revoked by a combination of diktat and mob rule. A parallel war has received more sporadic attention, but its consequences for our country and our society are not less perilous. This is the war on Science, and on scientific temper and rationality. The two are closely related. In each case, there is a tightening of the purse strings, a rejection of established standards of evidence and facts, the advancement of the careers of those with little academic credibility but of the correct political persuasion, downplaying the achievements since Independence, and allotting supervisory roles to certain `cultural’ organisations. Now, in the case of History, the reasons for all of this are clear. An attempt to reshape the ethos of the country needs to legitimize itself by changing our self-image, and that must rest on changing our perceptions of our past, and of those who have studied it so far. Scientists, however, find themselves at a loss when they wake up every day to a fresh attack on their work and their institutions. Why should they suddenly find themselves denigrated and deprived of resources for their work?

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Bhima Koregaon: the battle continues even after 200 years

Rahul Vaidya

Bhima Koregaon Victory Pillar.jpg

Even a few days before The Elgar Parishad (conference) was to be held in Pune by many Dalit and progressive organizations to commemorate 200th anniversary of battle of Bhima Koregaon[1]; it was certain that it would not sail through smoothly, especially with BJP government in power. With Shaniwar Wada (the palace of Peshwas, and seat of their rule) as the venue where this show of Dalit assertion scheduled to be held, and Jignesh Mewani and Umar Khalid as speakers at the event; it was no wonder that BJP- Sangh pariwar tried hard to thwart the program. Attempts were made to cancel the event citing it as threat to law and order situation. Descendants of Peshwas were brought into the picture- who termed it as ‘mockery of Bajirao Peshwa and others who sacrificed their lives for the nation’[2]. Keeping aside the fact that Bajirao Peshwa II sustained his flamboyant lifestyle on pension provided by East India Company for long time; the curious invocation of nationalism, and attempts to link it to Peshwai were by no means new, nor marginal.

Notwithstanding all this, Elgar Parishad on 30th December was immensely successful. Mewani and Umar called for people to take to streets to defeat the New Peshwai of Brahminical Hindutva and Capitalist exploitation. It was anticipated that Sangh-BJP would try to create ruckus in the program, and would try to raise the ‘anti-national’ bogey at some point or the other. What was not anticipated was the larger plan which would be unleashed; independent of whether the Elgar Parishad took place or not, any frivolous ‘anti-national’ quote the Parivar would get to harp upon or not. The violence unleashed on Dalits on 1st January 2018 was not ‘riot’, were not ‘caste clashes’, were not ‘lumpens taking to the streets’. It was a plot to widen the gulf between castes and further the Hindutva agenda. The little media coverage it received only helped the Hindutva forces to escape relatively unscathed from national attention, while the Maharashtra Bandh called in protest of this was brandished as another instance of how Left-Dalit progressive protests are nuisance, divisive and dangerous to national unity. This anti-Left, upper caste-class bias of media was nothing new. And under the present dispensation, the last figment of being politically correct also has been done away with. So, no wonders over there.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Abolition of ‘Triple Talaq’ and Uniform Civil Code*

Motiur Rahman Khan

A Bill proposing criminalization of Triple Talaq has been passed by the Lok Sabha on December 28, 2017. Draft Bill known as, 'The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill 2017' is prepared by Ministry of Law under Ravi Shankar Prasad. The Bill seeks to ban pronouncement of talaq in one sitting orally, electronically or by any means whatsoever.  The objective and justification for the Bill has also been listed by the Minister, where it is said that even after Supreme Court's verdict against the practice, incidents of triple talaq have come to notice. Hence, the government, to curb the practice and to do gender justice to the Muslim women has brought this Bill, which criminalises the practice of talaq-i-bidat and makes it a cognizable and non-bailable offence with a jail term of upto 3 years.