Sunday, April 22, 2018

Syrian Conundrum: First Theatre of the New Cold War?

Abdul Rahman
Today it is very clear that Syrian Arab Republic is one major victim of the great power rivalry in the international politics and probably the first major theatre of the new cold war. The protests started with the limited objective of establishment of democracy in March 2011’s Syrian version of the “Arab Spring” has turned into a non-ending civil war. This civil war has divided the country physically into different zones controlled by different armed groups belonging to different sects or having extra territorial loyalties to different countries such as USA and Turkey. The balkanised state of Syria has seen the emergence of multiple stake holders where apart from the Assad regime no one else has a clear cut legitimate agenda to follow hence the conundrum. The April 7 Chemical attack on Douma (Eastern Ghouta) and subsequent air strikes on April 14 in different parts of Syria by the USA, UK and France adds to this conundrum. The slogan of saving innocent lives looks like an excuse to weaken the attempt of the regime to end the civil war soon. How is that saving the innocent lives?  

Friday, April 13, 2018

Graded Autonomy : A View From Jadavpur University

Somashree Choudhury

In a neoliberal economic system, education never encourages the ideas of critical thinking or free knowledge. As Terry Eagleton writes in his article `Death of Universities`,  Since Margaret Thatcher,  the role of academia has been to service the status quo, not challenge it in the name of justice, tradition, imagination, human welfare, the free play of the mind or alternative visions of the future.” The world has increasingly been moving towards the idea of education as a service, rather than a public good since the 80’s. India too, has not been lagging behind in this quest.

Since coming into power, the Bharatiya Janata Party has been trying to make the already neoliberal policies of education more aggressive.  After a series of fund cuts,  seat cuts, withdrawal of fellowships like the not-net fellowship and SC ST scholarships, the BJP has  played the trump card. On 20th March, The Human Resources Development Minister, Prakash Javadekar has announced the scheme of Graded Autonomy for 60 Higher Education Institutions out of which 5 are central universities, 21 are state universities,  24 deemed universities and 2 private universities. 8 colleges have also been selected as eligible of autonomy. 

Sunday, April 8, 2018

NHPS: Step towards Transforming the Healthcare System - at What Cost

Shailender Kumar Hooda 

The National Health Protection Scheme (NHPS) announced in the Union Budget 2018 has two important components. One, helping the hundred million poor and vulnerable families burdened with hospitalization bill with a coverage limit Rs. 5 lakh per family, two, to trigger the private investments towards those areas and those services for which currently there are no providers or few providers by purchasing their services through NHPS. Any public effort towards providing free (or insurance protected) healthcare access to poor and vulnerable section of the society is a welcome step, but one needs to understand the emerging challenges of insurance-based financing system which would do more damage than gain.  

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."