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'.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

The Malicious Campaign by RSS against Kerala Fails! United Resistance by Malayalees!

Balu S.

Over the past one week, a malicious campaign has been unleashed by the RSS with the help of servile media houses like 'Republic TV' and 'Times Now' to portray Kerala as a killing field for RSS activists. The catalyst for this was the murder of an RSS activist in Trivandrum. Fingers were pointed at the CPM considering the history of violence in the state. Adding fodder to this attack by the RSS, the Congress even claimed that the main accused in the murder was a booth agent of the CPM in the last assembly elections. This allegation was later thoroughly refuted by the CPM. Until now, the police have not been able to establish clear links with the accused and the CPM.  The chief accused himself was charged earlier with attempting violence against several CPM leaders and cadres. Basically, there is no clarity and it is possible that the CPM has absolutely nothing to do with this murder. Despite this, the incident was immediately painted as a political murder because of the existing political conflicts in Trivandrum. There were numerous incidents of violence in which both CPM and BJP workers were attacked. This climate of violence also has a pretext. Immediately before the eruption of violence, BJP in Kerala was at the receiving end of a strong political attack due to very serious charges of corruption raised against them. It was alleged that the BJP leaders received bribes for facilitating recognition for Medical colleges by Medical Council of India. Therefore, the political violence which erupted in Trivandrum can also be seen as an attempt by the BJP to divert attention from these charges of corruption which had put them in a back foot.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Book Review- 'Intimacy Undone- Marriage, Divorce and Family Law in India'

Mohit Gupta

(Author: Malavika Rajkotia, Publisher: Speaking Tiger Publications)

The book 'Intimacy Undone – Marriage, Divorce And Family Law In India', by Malavika Rajkotia began as a response in the form of a letter to the Chief Justice of the Delhi high court who had accused divorce lawyers of prolonging divorce proceedings unnecessarily. The author’s response was aimed at exposing the lack of understanding of the dynamics of matrimonial conflict, which she believes are much deeper and broader than what is superficially visible. Eventually the letter turned into a book in which she has painted a wide canvas covering issues of family law going beyond usual ways of studying marriage and divorce and incorporating rape, patriarchy, property, maintenance, alimony, privacy and custody of children. All of these are based on the understanding that family law is not as simple as it is often postulated to be. It deconstructs the myth that family law is a soft law governed mostly by common sense as against other branches of law which are perceived to be hard law. This is done by elucidating in the book the tension that exists between men and women, society and law, conservatives and liberals, change and resistance and so on. The book also throws light on the wide margins of personal discretions, and the resulting jurisprudence which is sometimes confused and conflicting, and ends up setting unstable precedents; all of which has deep implications on those who fight legal battles within the ambit of family law.