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Showing posts from September, 2020

Racists? Rousseau, Hegel assumed Blacks and indigenous peoples weren't dialectical

In his paper, "Philosophy’s systemic racism", Avram Alpert, lecturer in the Princeton Writing Program, controversially argues that it’s not just that Hegel and Rousseau were racists; racism was in fact baked into the very structure of their dialectical philosophy. Alpert has authored "Global Origins of the Modern Self, from Montaigne to Suzuki" (2019) and "A Partial Enlightenment: What Modern Literature". His book "Buddhism Can Teach Us About Living Well without Perfection" is expected to be published soon. The paper has been published by Aeon as an essay. Reproduced below is Alpert's paper:    *** 

Tempest in a teapot: To publish or not to articles by likes of Narendra Modi, Amit Shah

Gujarati Sahitya Parishad building in Ahmedabad  By Rajiv Shah/   I was surprised over what they say in the US, a “tempest in a teapot”: Counterview published an article by Dankesh Oza, a Gujarat government official who took voluntary retirement about a decade ago, stating that two “oldies” (both octogenarians) were fighting Gujarat Sahitya Parishad polls, which has over 3,000 life-time members as voters. He appeared to support a relatively younger, though retired, person who was a key government official “looking after” Gujarati literature.

British divide and rule policy? Colonialists segregated Hindustani into Hindi and Urdu

By Rajiv Shah/   A few days back, India’s home minister Amit Shah, currently “recuperating at his residence” (to quote a former Gujarat official, currently in Delhi) after contracted novel coronavirus, once again raised controversy by pitching for Hindi as the only language that “can do the work of uniting the country”, because it is the “most spoken language”. He did this a year after he made a similar statement on Hindi Diwas, which falls on September 16.

Dossier on RSS explains: Saffron organization is modelled on German, Italian fascism

Reproduced below is a detailed dossier, running into five parts, on RSS, which  its author claims is solely based on the saffron organization's archives. Unpublished, it is penned by former Delhi University professor Shamsul Islam , who says, he has written it for the “benefit of civil society, political parties, intellectuals, and all those who are concerned about the rise of the terrorist/fascist organizations":  *** 

Have babus begun to sense political shift in India as farmers agitate across the country?

By Rajiv Shah/   As farmers’ agitation gripped the country on September 25, a retired IAS bureaucrat, whom I have known for nearly two decades, phoned me us to get a feel of what I felt would be its impact. I said, I don’t know, as it is too early to assess, but I wondered whether the fact that it shook the entire country would mean that tables have begun turning against Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Would cops ever care to agree? Eve teasing isn't (and wasn't) always a case of mistaken identity

By Rajiv Shah/   Recently, there was some controversy (storm in a teacup?) around a photograph. A photo went viral on the social media following an unemployed youth demonstration in Lucknow, picked up by several Facebook and Twitter enthusiasts, including journalist Rohini Singh, who claimed in a tweet it was a clear case of sexual harassment of a female demonstrator at the hands of a UP cop.

Food Bills open doors for global merchants of grain, their Indian corporate partners

Well-known environmentalist and scholar Dr Vandana Shiva's  unpublished briefing paper “Protecting the Rights of Small Farmers (our anna datas), the Right to Food of All Citizens to Create a Food Sovereign, Food Self-Reliant India (Atmanirbhar Bharat)” analyses the potential impact of the dismantling of India’s food sovereignty and food security regulatory and legal infrastructure framework through three food and farming Bills, passed in Parliament.  Here is the paper, which was distributed by JanVikalp for general interest in the subject:  *** 

If a chaiwala in Ahmedabad is implicated for spreading Covid, why not state BJP chief CR Patil?

A rally felicitating new state BJP chief CR Patil By Rajiv Shah/   This was scary: A very close friend, near and dear to me, phoned me and told me that he was in “frantic search” of a hospital bed for a relative in Ahmedabad, but to his utter surprise there is a “long queue” everywhere. The reason for the search, he said, was a relative from a neighbouring state had rung him up to inquire whether one could come over to Ahmedabad to get post-Covid treatment, as hospitals were “full” in the city where this relative lived.

Recalling 1995, when Gujarat chief minister justified Ganesha 'drinks milk' superstition

By Rajiv Shah/   An interesting story  in The Wire” on how the Sangh Parivar had “organized” the 1995 Ganesha milk miracle and why the plan flopped” a quarter of a century ago took my memory down the lane back to September 21, 1995, the day I began seeing long queues in Ahmedabad with people trying to “feed” Ganesha idols with milk in small and big temples, mysteriously wondering how the Lord was “drinking away” all the milk they were feeding. The queues must have continued for at least a week.

Dataism threat: Highly intelligent algorithm knows us better than we do ourselves

RB Sreekumar , former Director-General of Police, Gujarat, has reviewed the book “Homo Deus – A Brief History of Tomorrow” (2015), authored by Prof Yuval Noah Harari, published by Harper Collins. The book, he says, wonders whether our leaders trapped in past time zones accept wisdom in the book, which details these contentions: (1) Science is increasingly confirming that organisms are algorithms and life is data processing (2) Intelligence is de-coupled from consciousness and (3) Non-conscious but highly intelligent algorithms may soon know us better than we know ourselves. The book review:

Why Times of India 'allowed' a story that embarrassed Yogi's Shivaji museum move

  By Rajiv Shah/   A few days back I wrote a blog, giving the example of Facebook ads, on how advertisement could go to some length in deterring crucial news stories which may embarrass those in power – whether in the corporate or the political world. I had cited example of my experience as a “Times of India” man, first in Ahmedabad and then in Gandhinagar, on how this happens. 

Land rights: State should be referee in fight between big companies and communities

Constance Galeo Mogale, an experienced South African land activist who has played leading roles in several campaigns and initiative, in conversation with Vidya Bhushan Rawat , on various issues of land rights, gender issues and racism and why she feels so much about them: *** 

Do 'upper caste' Marxists still dislike Dr Ambedkar, consider him reformist, separatist?

By Rajiv Shah/   I was a little amused on reading Bhaskar Sur, a virulent Facebook commentator on Left, noting that “Bengali Marxists” have always hated Dr BR Ambedkar. A rather longish post, running into more than 1,000 words, While Sur observes that, to the “upper caste Marxists”, the “towering Dalit intellectual and lifelong fighter for social justice” was “a stooge of the British trying to divide the proletariat and the nationalist movement at the behest of his masters”. 

Why are Covid cases remaining around 150 in Ahmedabad, neither rising, nor coming down?

By Rajiv Shah/   A journalist-friend rang me up from Mumbai yesterday. A routine call, this friend wanted to know how the situation was with regard to Covid-19 pandemic in Gujarat, especially Ahmedabad. I told him that I don't have facts, as I am not in live touch with officials anymore, quite unlike earlier, when as a "Times of India", man was posted in Gandhinagar, there is reason to wonder whether the data released by the officialdom are correct.

Indians could not complain of racism while practising untouchability, believed Gandhi

Reproduced below is the paper “Thinking with Gandhi on racism and violence: A letter to a friend”, by Ajay Skaria , Professor of History and Global Studies at the University of Minnesota, author of “Unconditional Equality: Gandhi’s Religion of Resistance” and “Hybrid Histories: Forests, Frontiers, and Wildness in Western India”, currently working on a book, “What is Democratic Secularism?”. 

Democratic voices of dissent implicated, efforts are on to silence, criminalise dissent

By Rajiv Shah/   Concern for increasing police crackdown on anti-Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) activists appears to be taking considerable heartburn among wider circles. This was reflected in a press statement jointly issued by Syeda Hameed, former member, Planning Commission; Prashant Bhushan, eminent lawyer; Kanhaiya Kumar, former president, Jawarlal Nehru University (JNU) Students’ Union; Kavita Krishnan, politbureau member, CPIML; Pamela Philipose, senior journalist; and Nandita Narain, former president, Delhi University Teachers’ Association.

Why did Facebook and WhatApp, No 1 on social media, have to advertise on Indian TV channels?

By Rajiv Shah/   For quite some time, sitting at home amidst coronavirus pandemic, I have been watching Facebook and WhatsApp advertisement on TV. I am bewildered: Why did Facebook, or for that matter WhatsApp, bought over by Facebook in 2014, need to propagate their business? They are, from all indications, No 1 on social media. So, why did they need to advertise?

Like Phoenix, the mythological but legendary bird of ancient world, 'We must arise!'

In this unpublished article, "We Must Arise" , Fr Cedric Prakash SJ , a human rights on peace activist/writer, analyses how the situation in the country is becoming more and more serious -- on every possible front, highlighting how the reality has been unfolding recently. According to him, today's so-called 'bhakts' aren't even following Swami Vivekananda, who said in Chicago: “Sectarianism, bigotry, and its horrible descen­dant, fanaticism, have long possessed this beautiful earth"... The article: *** 

Strange BJP demand to celebrate liberation of Hyderabad from Nizam's yoke

By Rajiv Shah/   In an incisive analysis, policy analyst Mohan Guruswamy has pointed towards the fact that RSS had no role to play in Hyderabad’s "liberation". This was in reply to Telangana BJP chief Bandi Sanjay Kumar demanding that the state government must celebrate the "liberation" of Hyderabad from the Nizam's yoke. “It’s like their wanting to celebrate August 8 as Quit India day when the RSS opposed it”, Guruswamy says.

Need to reflect why debates, discussions being barred in the name of COVID

Reproduced below is the unpublished paper by “COVID-19, Science and Responsibility of the Intellectuals” by Pramod Ranjan , whose interests lie in subaltern studies, development of modernity and philosophy of knowledge. A Hindi writer, he has authored “Sahityetihas Ka Bahujan Paksha”, “Bahujan Sahitya Ki Prastavna”, “Mahishasur: Mithak Va Paramparayein” and three volumes of Periyar writings. Currently, Ranjan teaches in Rabindranath Tagore School of Languages and Cultural Studies of Assam University. The paper has been distributed by JanVikalp.  *** 

Public health in India: Addressing issues of politics and multiple hierarchies of knowledge

Leading Indian professional associations of public health have released two joint statements on the COVID-19 pandemic and its management in India. The central issue they raise is to ignore the technical advice of the country’s leading experts and institutions in decision-making about strategies for handling the pandemic.

Modern-day crusaders of Hindu nationalism running the country on theocratic lines

Krishan Singh,  a young professional with working experience of 8.5 years in managing various functions of supply chain, especially in oil and gas and shipping, has penned a detailed analysis on what he calls "the rise of Hindu nationalism and modern crusaders". In this unpublished article, he draws the dreary conclusion that majority of us aren't as big a nationalist as we think we are, insisting, for most of us our love for the country is secondary to our own well-being... Read on: ***

Right to the City: Question is being raised whether migrants are citizens of the country

Excerpts from “Migration, Migrants and Right to the City” by RB Bhagat , Professor and Head, Department of Migration and Urban Studies, International Institute for Population Sciences, Mumbai, based on his lecture at the Centre for Work and Welfare, Impact and Policy Research Institute (IMPRI), New Delhi: ***

When Chief Secretary, Home Secretary, DGP failed to blunt Gujarat bloodbath of 2002

Excerpts from, “Passport to Gujarat: Hazardous Journeys”, a biographical book authored by Gujarat cadre IAS bureaucrat (1975 batch) Alexander Luke , published by Manas Publications , Delhi, 2015: ***  On 27th February (2002) the Godhra incident took place and after that it was difficult to hold hearings because of the continuing violence. When I drove to the office the next morning, I saw the Topaz restaurant being burnt by a group of men. A few others were attacking a cloth shop nearby. Reaching the office I and another officer were the only ones present and the watchman had to open the gate. When I phoned up a senior police officer about what I had witnessed he advised me to go home as the situation was bad.

The Prashant Bhushan case: Why Re 1 coin is the symbol of change, of a New India!

Prashant Bhushan with Re 1 coin with lawyer-colleague Rajiv Dhavan Detailed commentary, “One Rupee for a New India”, by  Fr Cedric Prakash SJ , human rights and peace activist/writer, on what led to the controversial and high profile contempt of court case against top Supreme Court lawyer, Prashant Bhushan: ***  Just a couple of days before his retirement from the Supreme Court, Justice Arun Mishra gave (perhaps unwittingly) the people of India a very special gift: a one rupee coin (coin because the one-rupee note has totally disappeared!) It was in the form of the ‘punishment’ meted out to senior public interest lawyer and activist Prashant Bhushan for the contempt of court case against him. Bhushan was already found ‘guilty’ and the quantum of ‘punishment’ was only to be given. It was done on 31 August a little after the clock struck twelve noon! The 82-pages sentencing judgement concludes with: “We, therefore, sentence the contemnor with a fine or (SIC) Re 1(Rupee one) to be depo