Saturday, October 22, 2016

Whether it be Olympics or Anti-Corruption Marches, Race is a central question in Brazil!!!

Nitheesh Narayanan

Rafaela Silva won a gold medal in Judo for Brazil in the recently concluded Rio Olympics. It is through this Afro-Brazilian athlete that the hosts received their first gold medal in the 2016 Olympics. The success of Silva in Judo has been read as a befitting reply to what she had to face after being disqualified in the 2012 London Olympics following an illegal leg grab. She said, recollecting that event, ‘I was very sad because I lost the fight. So I walked to my room, I found all those insults in social media, they were criticizing me, calling me monkey, I got really, really upset, I thought about leaving Judo’. For many, especially those who are not from Latin American countries, who have heard of Silva’s experiences, wondered if racism actually existed in Brazil. There is this conception that the Latin American countries are free from racism. In almost all studies and briefings on racism, Latin America does not appear .But this is an erroneous understanding. Brazil, the most populous country in the region also has the largest number of African descendants of all Latin American states. In fact, Brazil has the largest African population in any country outside Africa. An analysis of the problem of racism in Brazil will shed a reality check on the prevalence of racism in Latin America.

Friday, October 7, 2016

On the Ongoing Maratha Agitations in Maharashtra

Suresh Sawant and Rahul Vaidya

The shocking Kopardi rape and murder case happened on July 13th in Ahmednagar district of Maharashtra. Spontaneous protests over this brutal gangrape and murder however soon took a casteist turn. The word spread that victim belonged to Maratha community, Maharashtra's biggest and politically dominant community; and what is worse; the perpetrators belonged to the Dalit community. The dual narrative of honor of women as well as the caste fuelled the protests which have been spreading like a wildfire across Maharashtra. Already, there have been massive agitations at Ahmednagar, Osmanabad, Aurangabad, Jalgaon, Beed. Similar rallies have been planned in Latur, Parbhani, Solapur, Amravati and many other districts. The final rally will be held in Mumbai. These agitations have witnessed crowds over a lac at every location- with significant number of women participating.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Remembering the Cuban Revolution of 1959


Raúl (left) and Fidel Castro in the Sierra Maestra,1959
It was in the twentieth century that humanity took the first steps to free itself of class rule, ending thousands of years of oppression and exploitation. The October Revolution in Russia in 1917 was followed by the Chinese revolution in 1949. Both were big countries, mighty empires. The defeat of their rulers by their own people caused the whole world to sit up. The world capitalist order was panic stricken. It launched a vicious war of attrition against the socialist camp and tried to crush communism elsewhere in the world.

But only a decade after the Chinese revolution, in 1959, a tiny island in the Caribbean Sea saw another people’s upsurge, which swept aside a hated military dictatorship. The island was Cuba, located just 90 miles from the United States. Such was the anger and panic among the ruling capitalist classes that they swore to destroy this new revolution before it could take roots. They feared that it would serve as a beacon to the whole of Latin America, which was treated as its backyard by US imperialism.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Legal Praxis in a Political World : Re-Reading Kizhvenmani, Babri-Masjid and Bhanwari Devi Judgements

S.V. Narayanan

 All social institutions that we created and experiencing operate within a particular political environment. The values and ethics associated with these institutions are to a larger extent being shaped and disciplined by the larger socio-economic context in which they function. This structural relation and its understanding will help us in critically evaluating the purpose and functioning of these institutions. Law, being a socio-legal institution, which is identified as objective and scientific, also operates within this larger political context, carrying and reflecting its values and influences. Indian legal system operates within the class and caste ridden society, which influences its interpretation and judgement, by reinforcing the societal values over and above the objectivity and scientific nature of legal studies. This paper will critically evaluate the important interpretations made in three important legal cases in India, which is significant in reflecting our regressive social values in the higher legal institutions; The Kizhvenmani massacre in 1968 in Tamilnadu where 44 dalits were burned alive, the Ayodhya judgement in 1986 which opened the gates of communal politics at the national level and Bhanwari Devi case judgement in 1995 which combined casteism and patriarchy in its interpretations. The underlying assumptions behind the judgement and the social values associated with them will be critically analysed rather than dwelling deep into the judgement and its legal merits.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

The Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Bill, 2016: Will the new law alter female labour force participation?

Ashmita Sharma

Government legislations and policies have introduced significant changes in the participation of women in the labour markets over recent decades. However, substantial gender differences in formal sector employment remain a stark reality even today. Notwithstanding the differences in the nature of work, system of payment, working conditions and working hours, and wage gap between men and women, much of the differences also stem from the gendered division of parental responsibilities at home, with women being entrusted with the primary responsibility of child-care. Much of the gender gap is also reflected in social policies that were originally created with the assumed bias of treating men as the breadwinners and women as homemakers. Despite sincere efforts at policy level to eradicate this bias, government programs continue to mirror the same. The proposed Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Bill, 2016 is a case in point.