Friday, May 31, 2019

Ram Mohan Roy and Widow Immolation: The return of Sati under Hindutva

Malini Bhattacharya
Payel Rohatgi, an actress who promotes BJP on social media, has recently abused Ram Mohan Roy. It is surprising that Bengali intellectuals are yet to condemn this. Using a saffron video on twitter, Rohatgi has argued women enjoyed a superior status in ancient India. ‘Satidaha’ or immolation of the widow at the funeral pyre of her husband is a lie manufactured by the British colonisers. Hindusashtra (Hindu lawbooks) do not mention widow-burning (sati-daha). In special situations, this was voluntarily practiced by Hindu women. These circumstances were when they tried to save themselves from assault by Muslims (though Jahar and Sati are not the same) or to prevent young widows from becoming prostitutes. According to Rohatgi and her saffron sources, to be a ‘sati’ is to spend life as an ascetic widow and devote oneself to customs and rituals related to chaste worship of various Hindu deities. Ram Mohan was a ‘chamcha’ (bootlicker) of the British and a ‘traitor’. That is why he insisted that women were being forcibly burnt along with the corpses of their husbands.

Monday, May 27, 2019

In the wake of 2019 Lok Sabha Results

Rahul Vaidya
The landslide victory of Narendra Modi led BJP and re-election of NDA government in 2019 Lok Sabha elections is historic. Not just because it is for the first time a non-Congress government has successfully returned to power with majority. Not just because Modi has become first Prime Minister since Indira Gandhi to return with full majority. It is not merely a matter of novelty or another eventual trivia in the annals of our parliamentary democracy. It is no longer an endorsement of an abstract wish for ‘better days’ or ‘development of all, by taking everyone together’ while implicitly doing the dog whistles of fascism as happened in 2014. The 2019 campaign of BJP and Modi was an extreme concoction of jingoistic patriotism, communalism, sexism, abuse, and anti-intellectualism in general which is fulcrum of whole fascist project. Hence, its gigantic electoral success is surely a historic feet in the continuing long march of a counter-revolution that India has been witness to for many decades now. So understandably, in the wake of the results, there has been plethora of commentaries full of fear for imminent Hindu Rashtra and unraveling of our Republic and the constitution. On the other hand, there is no dearth of reports on how the opposition has failed the progressive resistance in their aims, ideas and machinery. The accusations of treachery, lack of commitment, incompetence are perhaps at their shrillest. It is in this context, I would like to make certain points to make better sense of the predicament we find ourselves in. 

Monday, May 20, 2019

‘Stimulus’, ‘Structural Reform’ and ‘Austerity’? What Awaits India after the Elections?

Surajit Mazumdar
After the declaration of the 2018-19 third quarter GDP figures by the Central Statistical Organization (CSO) at the end of February, some talk began in the media about the Indian economy heading towards a slowdown. As the country headed into the general elections thereafter, this matter got pushed into the background and never really became a central issue in the election related debate on news channels and newspapers. However, slowly, more and more stories and reports ringing alarm bells about the economy have started appearing, particularly in the business news, and a consensus is taking shape that India is heading into a major economic slowdown that reflects the operation of demand constraints. Even the word recession has been used by corporate bigwigs while serving government officials have used the term crisis to describe some dimensions of the current situation. Entering the discourse has also been the view that this is not simply a cyclical downturn – a fair amount of publicity being given to the opinion of a member of the PM’s Economic Advisory Council that India is in danger of slipping into what is called a “middle-income trap”.