Saturday, October 14, 2017

The Rohingya Crisis: Misplaced Concerns and Dodgy Solutions

Parvin Sultana
The Rakhine province of Myanmar has been witnessing violence for quite sometime leading to a large number of deaths and massive displacement. The country itself languished for long under a military dictatorship installed way back in a Military coup in 1962. However the end to the junta rule and the election of a democratic government is yet to ensure that democratic values has been implemented in true sense. The fragile democracy continues to hobnob between a still powerful army which continues to control many aspects of administration and a democratic government which time and again falls back on majoritarian Buddhist nationalism. While international organisations and human rights activists have often lamented that Kachin and Rakhine have been laboratories of ethnic violence, the Myanmar government has failed in ensuring an end to this violence.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Fear and Loathing in Banaras Hindu University: Another Misdeed of Neoliberal Hindutva

Pavel Tomar
Civilization-mongers of India, superbly named so by Frederich Engels in an earlier time, are on public display again. In these “reflexive” postmodern times, they have presented their shameless acts at the altar of the bombarded university system in India, most recently in Banaras Hindu University. What happened at Banaras Hindu University campus in late September 2017 was therefore only an episode of the unending series. First, the girl victim  of molestation was brutally harassed at the hands of losers, which is reported to be a norm in Banaras and BHU (called as “Lanketing”, after the Lanka Police Station on the campus). Then the whole system shamed her by questioning the timing of her outing. When the protests turned into a larger movement, the VC termed it as political and brutally repressed it by resorting to lathicharge with the help of state administration led by a priest called Yogi Adityanath, famous for his anti-feminist jibes, apparently busy in welcoming his master the Prime Minister Modi on a visit to his constituency.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Agrarian Conditions and Recent Peasant Struggles in Sikar

Vikas Rawal

Sikar, situated in Shekhawati region of Rajasthan, has a glorious history of peasant struggles. From 1920s through 1960s, peasants of Sikar fought successfully against the jagirdars. Sikar had an extremely oppressive jagirdari regime under the Raja of Sikar and peasants worked under a huge burden of taxes (lag) and obligation to provide unpaid labour and military services (bag). It was on account of peasant struggles that started in the early 1920s and culminated with abolition of the Jagirdari system in the 1950s that sharecroppers in Sikar got ownership (khatedari) rights over land.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Hindutva today and Fascism - some observations

Rahul Vaidya

                One witnessed unprecedented caste-based marches and mobilisations in Maharashtra during last one year. The issue of Maratha reservation was its focal point. They somewhat coincided with agitations of several middle peasant castes all over the country- Patels in Gujarat, Jats in Haryana and Kapus in Andhra. A lot of journalists, researchers stressed upon the need to contextualize these protests within wider crisis in agriculture, the plight of peasantry, indebtedness, dwindling prospects of revival; and how this has led the peasant castes to demand reservations- hence, they were of the opinion that ‘the demand for reservations is actually a desperate cry and plea of peasants for rescue and should hence be addressed sensitively’. On the other hand, there was also a section which was arguing that reservation is a tool of social justice and hence to increase its reach to middle, peasant castes would in effect dilute the egalitarian vision and compromise on delivery of social justice. The manner in which the issue of revising/ revoking the Atrocities Act (for its alleged misuse) was raised during the course of Maratha agitations further strengthened those arguing against the Maratha agitation and its demand for reservation. 

In hindsight, one thing is clear. Who came out winner of this whole heady chaotic episode of social churn- the eruption of Maratha agitation, and counter-agitations and marches by non-Maratha backward castes?  Startling it might seem, but only the politics of Hindutva was the real winner. Gradually a different turn taken by Maratha agitation, casteist and communal formulations of history therein, a mad competition between towns and cities to organize ‘bigger’, and more ‘spectacular’ ‘events’ called Maratha marches- all these developments nipped all possibilities and potentials of a progressive program and alternative arising out of these marches. It was quite evident that the demand for Maratha reservations would not stand in front of judiciary. At least then, these marches and mobilizations should have tried to create viable political alternative with a distinct program. Navnirman Andolan of 1970s, Mandal agitation of 1990s, even Lokpal agitation of 2011- all of them led to formation of political alternatives of varying strength. However, the agitations of middle caste peasantry weren’t left with any such possibility. What is more, these agitations, which initially put the incumbent BJP government in the dock, ultimately ended up reinforcing the politics of Hindutva. It is necessary to understand why it happened so, and for this, we need to reflect upon Hindutva of the day and what its distinguishing features are.     

Monday, August 14, 2017

A Toxic Punch of Market and the 'Political'

Satyaki Roy

We are in the midst of a change. India has adopted GST in whatsoever diluted version it may be, it is considered to be the biggest tax reform in post-Independent India.  At midnight the Prime Minister of India invokes a different tryst with destiny this time: it is not the old India awaking to life and freedom as the world sleeps but a new one which awakes to the cause of unbridled uniform market, the nation subsumes freedom and life to the destiny of free market. Milton Friedman the 1976 Nobel prize winner in his 'Free to Choose' describes  how market coordinates society without any central authority and argues that market outcomes are independent of gender, class, race and religion of the transacting parties: 'When you buy your pencil or daily bread you don't know whether the pencil was made or the wheat was grown by a white man or a black man by a Chinese or an Indian. As a result the price mechanism enables people to cooperate peacefully in one phase of their life while each one goes about his own business in respect of everything else'. Friedman's market however didn't remain untouched from the 'business in respect of everything else'. We have market but also there is a process of defining the 'political'.