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Showing posts from April, 2023

Why the spirit of April 1943 Warsaw ghetto uprising needs to be resurrected today

By Harsh Thakor  Eighty years ago the world witnessed one of the most heroic uprisings in the history of the world. Manifesting the spirit of liberation from tyranny, courage scaled heights almost unparalleled in rebellion of a persecuted community. One was reminded of Mao’s saying “Nothing is hard if you dare to scale the heights.”

Release of dabang neta: Rule of law can't be allowed to be slave to political rhetoric

By Vidya Bhushan Rawat*  When we look to politicians for solutions and politics as the 'final solution' for every evil then we are disappointed most of the time. In politics, we knowingly or unknowingly become part of the propaganda tool of the ruling elite which exists everywhere across different castes. We often provide issues and talk about them in binaries which suit our elites. The minorities among the marginalised who have no political space and representation rarely get heard by these majoritarian parties whose agenda remain power communities. Every political party in today's time is following the 'successful' formula of 'democracy' which is keeping the 'powerful' 'jaatis' with them leaving aside the marginalised one. The BJP started this but yes they cobbled together all other communities too through a diverse narrative.

Struggle of women wrestlers against sexual harassment needs wider support

By Bharat Dogra  Several leading women wrestlers of India have been in the thick of a struggle against sexual harassment since the beginning of this year. They have been helped by some male wrestler colleagues as well. Although these wrestlers of both genders include those who have won several honors and medals at the international level, their struggle against powerful, politically very well-connected officials of wrestling organizations, accused of sexual harassment or colluding in it, is proving to be a very difficult struggle and much wider and sustained support will be needed for its success.

Reflections on ANZAC Day: Citizens across the globe need to celebrate peace socially

By Pushkar Raj*  Australia along with the countries of the region commemorated ANZAC day on April 25. For the novice, it stands for Australian And New Zealand Army Corps that fought in Gallipoli campaign in the First world war with a loss of 8,709 uniformed men from Australia, 2,721 from New Zealand and perishing 56000 allied forces.

Sexual harassment at workplace: File FIR based on complaints by sportspersons

As the Delhi Police Commissioner refused to meet a delegation of the National Federation of Indian Women (NFIW) they staged a protest at the Delhi Police Head Quarters (PHQ) at Jai Singh Road, Central Delhi. NFIW members went to the PHQ to submit a memorandum to the Police Commissioner demanding immediate filing of an FIR based on the complaint given by young women wrestlers. The protesters led by Annie Raja, General Secretary NFIW were detained by the police and taken to the Parliament Street police station and the DCP received the memorandum, addressed to Sanjay Arora, Commissioner of Police. Later they joined the wrestlers who were sitting on a day and night dharna at Jantar Mantar. Text of the memorandum: *** The National Federation of Indian Women (NFIW) hereby registers its strong protest at the failure of Delhi Police to register an FIR on the complaints filed by the women wrestlers against Mr. Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, WFI President and MP. Filing of FIR is the primary le

Tirupati IFTU conference: A positive step in giving boost to Indian labour movement

By Harsh Thakor  The seventh all-India Conference of the Indian Federation of Trade Union (IFTU) from 16-18th April took place in the backdrop of politics of hatred and divisiveness. Open calls are being given for the eradication of minority communities by saffron seers with no action taken but anyone questioning the Modi government is foisted in cases and jailed. Draconian laws like the UAPA are freely operating to crush dissenting voices. Democratic spaces are being ripped apart with neo-fascism at a helm.

In 2023, 4 IIT Madras students committed suicide: Authorities can't explain the reason

By NS Venkataraman*  It is reported that four students of IIT Madras have committed suicide in the year 2023, within just four months. This is a matter of very high concern and need to be investigated by experts taking a holistic view. So far, all these suicides have been simply termed as “suicides” and matter appears to have been closed. Obviously, there should be deep underlying cause for such sad events, particularly since the students are in their teen age or early twenties and that too they study in an elite institution. At the same time, it has to be noted that such students suicides have also taken place in other IITs in India.

Despite all the talk of sanctions, why Japan continues to import energy from Russia

By Vijay Prashad  In mid-April, the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs released its Diplomatic Bluebook 2023 , its most important guidebook on international affairs. Japan’s foreign minister, Yoshimasa Hayashi, wrote the foreword, which begins: “The world is now at a turning point in history.” This phrase is key to understanding the Japanese approach to the war in Ukraine. Hours after Russian forces entered Ukraine, the Japanese government signed the G7 statement that condemned the “large-scale military aggression” and called for “severe and coordinated economic and financial sanctions.” 

Tendulkar defined new epoch, patronised cricket as multibillion dollar business

By Harsh Thakor  On April 24th the sporting world celebrates the 50th birthday of Sachin Tendulkar, who arrived on this earth in 1973. Sachin Tendulkar is probably the most iconic sportsman in Indian history, let alone cricketer. No adjective can do justice to his sheer impact or influence n the game or the weight of his very presence. Tendulkar virtually defined a new generation, epoch or era in the game. Hard to visualise a more charismatic cricketer who pulled crowds in the manner of a magnet. Sachin was like a voice of millions of people of India. Rarely has any sportsman been a great cynosure in the eyes of the public or borne the entire pulse of the nation.

Unfortunate: Concepts ‘earth without borders’, 'universe as family’ are called unrealistic

By Bharat Dogra  Socrates said, “I am not a citizen of Athens, not a citizen of Greece, I am a citizen of world.” A time may have come today 2400 years later to give much more attention to this most basic identity of human beings which unfortunately is also most neglected. Most members of humanity have been identifying themselves more in terms of national, regional and religious (unfortunately even narrower racial and caste-based) identities than the most essential one of being citizens of world. This has led to serious problems, culminating in a survival crisis—world-level threats to basic life-nurturing conditions of our planet. As scientists increasingly confirm the survival crisis and warn that we do not have much time to resolve this, the (so far elusive) solutions may involve a much wider and deeper commitment to the most basic identity of humanity emphasized by Socrates.

Does NAAC's grade really determine the quality of education at an institution?

By Harasankar Adhikari  ‘There is an incident that occurred at the examination during my first year at the high school and which is worth recording. Mr. Giles, the educational inspector, had come on a visit of inspection. He had set us five words to write as a spelling exercise. One of the words was 'kettle'. I had mis-spelt it. The teacher tried to prompt me with the point of his boot, but I would not be prompted. It was beyond me to see that he wanted me to copy the spelling from my neighbour's slate, for I had thought that the teacher was there to supervise us against copying. The result was that all the boys, except myself, were found to have spelled every word correctly. Only I had been stupid. The teacher tried later to bring this stupidity home to me, but without effect. I never could learn the art of 'copying'.' This is a reference story from Gandhi's autobiography about his honesty in his school days.

Embittered to the very core, UK junior doctors stage protests demanding pay restoration

By Harsh Thakor  Junior doctors in England, like other workers of the National Health Service (NHS), are embittered to the very core, being victimised by low wages, overwork, and soaring inflation. Reflection of the overall crisis faced by the working class in Britain.

Any possibility of strengthening social audit in democracy amidst dirty politics?

By Harasankar Adhikari   After every election in India, the leaders of the winning political party or alliance of political parties claim with a smile that their government would be the people’s government. They always respect people. The government would work with the people. But does it really work? It is the biggest saying about democracy in India. The functions of the government are restricted and limited within the realm of the will of the ruling parties that formed the government. In this people’s government, is there any scope for social auditing? Social auditing is the key tool of democracy and its functioning. It is a legal, moral, and democratic necessity for the transparency and accountability of any work. It bridges the gap ‘between vision or goal and reality, and between efficiency and effectiveness.' 

Rarely has any actor as skilfully immersed into character of a common, oppressed man

By Harsh Thakor  On April 13th we commemorated the 50th death anniversary of Balraj Sahni. Rarely has any actor let alone Indian actor as skilfully or as deeply immersed into the character of a common or oppressed man or expressed sensitivity in such depths, which could appear surreal at times. Balraj Sahni infused realism in acting to depths almost unprecedented. Balraj blended the technical finesse of a surgeon or architect with the creativity of a painter or poet. In my view amongst Hindi film 4-5 finest actors ever.

Indian cities can't be drivers of economic growth at the cost of inequity, inclusivity

By Dr Soumyadip Chattopadhyay, Dr Arjun Kumar*  Indian cities with their contribution of around two-thirds of the GDP are expected to play an instrumental role as the country’s engines of economic growth. A majority of these cities are hamstrung by serious infrastructural issues and governance deficits.

How the slogan Jai Bhim gained momentum as movement of popularity and revolution

By Dr Kapilendra Das*  India is an incomprehensible plural country loaded with diversities of religions, castes, cultures, languages, dialects, tribes, societies, costumes, etc. The Indians have good manners/etiquette (decent social conduct, gesture, courtesy, politeness) that build healthy relationships and take them ahead to life. In many parts of India, in many situations, and on formal occasions, it is common for people of India to express and exchange respect, greetings, and salutation for which we people usually use words and phrases like- Namaskar, Namaste, Pranam, Ram Ram, Jai Ram ji, Jai Sriram, Good morning, shubha sakal, Radhe Radhe, Jai Bajarangabali, Jai Gopal, Jai Jai, Supravat, Good night, Shuvaratri, Jai Bhole, Salaam walekam, Walekam salaam, Radhaswami, Namo Buddhaya, Jai Bhim, Hello, and so on.

Architects, conservationists stress on uniqueness of IIM-A’s heritage structures

Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad note a webinar organised to discuss the controversy surrounding heritage-led development of the IIM-A campus with the participation of architects, conservationists and alumni: *** Against the backdrop of a new Director Mr Bharat Bhaskar and new Chairperson of the Governing Council Mr Pankaj Patel taking over their respective roles at IIM Ahmedabad, ICOMOS India and partners organised an international webinar featuring top conservation architects, historians, technical specialists and alumni who gave expert views and offered support to conserve the architectural legacy of IIMA.

Nexus of investors, political leaders and local administration in secret land deals

By Harasankar Adhikari  Land is a natural resource that not only provides a foundation for economic and social development, but can also help to empower people to adapt to the challenges of urbanisation and globalisation when managed properly. It also assures social identity along with social and economic security. It is regarded as an economic asset at both the micro and macro levels. Land promotes agriculture in order to provide food for the people.

Joan Robinson: Only woman born before 1930 who can be considered great economist

By Harsh Thakor  2023 commemorates the fortieth year since the passing of Joan Robinson and her one-hundred-and-twentieth birth anniversary. Without doubt she was one of the most illustrative, logical and creative Marxist economists of her time, whose role path was breaking. Joan Robinson manifested Marxism to deliver a knockout punch to the conventional bourgeois economists and with unflinching resilience withstood all winds of capitalist ideas.

Strategy of Tibetans should be to start world wide campaign against Chinese ways

By NS Venkataraman*  It is now more than seven decades since Chinese military invaded Tibet and massacred thousands of Tibetan protesters. As Tibet has been traditionally a peaceful country, dedicated to Buddhist philosophy of non violence , the resistant movement of Tibetans could not match the Chinese aggressors. It is a black spot in the world history that peaceful Tibet was allowed to be virtually slaughtered by the Chinese invaders, while entire world community looked the other way for all practical purposes.

How political party-based governance is violating democratic rule in India

By Harasankar Adhikari  The gestures and posture of the government of democratic India remind us of the warnings of Alexander Fraser Tytler, a Scottish historian, "A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves largesse from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy, always followed by a dictatorship. The average age of the world's greatest civilizations has been 200 years. These nations have progressed through this sequence: from bondage to spiritual faith; from spiritual faith to great courage; from courage to liberty; from liberty to abundance; from abundance to selfishness; from selfishness to apathy; from apathy to dependence; and from dependence back into bondage."

Georgy Lukacs contributed to new epoch in Marxism, veered away from Leninism

By Harsh Thakor  Georgy Lukacs's “History and Class Consciousness” is a truly landmark work, and its English translation, after almost fifty years of neglect by English and American publishers, was a major development. This year we commemorate 100 years of this work being published, in year 1923. Reification and the Consciousness of the Proletariat section of this work, published in 1923, is a pioneering contribution. Marxism and Rosa Luxemburg is also a most illustrative historical writing.

Value of educated youth in WB: University teacher to get below minimum wage

By Harasankar Adhikari  What goes on in West Bengal? How is the situation of the people of West Bengal? Is it in crisis, or is it a symbol of progress? May it be compared anyway with Gujarat? Bihar was once an example of the worst of the country's overall problems. May this state be fingered like Bihar? The former governor of the state remarked, ‘Where there is no rule of law, it is rule by law'. This state was once a highly rich example of education, economy, industrial growth, and culture. A common proverb was ‘What Bengal thinks today, India thinks tomorrow.' For about four decades, its past glory has been eroding. This has been going on since the end of the left's two-decade rule. This state is politically very sensitive as per its past record. After the establishment of leftist rule, the left demanded that the people of this state are all aware of democratic politics and that their participation in politics is historical. It used tactics to get people involved in

BBC documentary row: Punishment to DU students disproportionate to alleged violation

India Academic Freedom Network’s open appeal to the Vice Chancellor, University of Delhi, seeking online support *** This is to express our anguish over the news of punishment, of varying degrees, to some students of the university for having screened a documentary produced by the BBC. The memorandum regarding the punishment, as published in the media, states that they had violated the ban on screening of the said documentary by the government of India. We want to bring to your notice and it is known to all that the documentary was never banned and is still not banned by the government. So, the ground for disciplinary action does not exist.

A pure match winner, Barry Richards was an epitome of all-round batting perfection

By Harsh Thakor  If apartheid had not curtailed his international Test career I would have backed Barry Richards to possibly bloom into the best batsmen of all time. Barry was the ultimate connoisseur of batting, manifesting perfection in heights unscaled. I could hardly name more complete batsmen, or more perfect a batting model.

Deliberate attempt to deny, ignore Periyar's role in Vaikom's temple entry movement

By Vidya Bhushan Rawat  This year is the centenary year of the historic Vaikom Satyagraha. On 30 March 1924, three satyagrahis of the Indian National Congress, Kunjapi, Bahuleyan Veniyal and Govindan Panicker ( one Nair, one Pulaya and one Brahmin) started it as the first satyagrahis of the movement. Vaikom, located in the Kottayam district of Kerala, was part of the Travancore State during that period and was also a symbol of the concept of Brahminical statehood. 

Protest against coal mines in Tamil Nadu follows a pattern, to hit investment in state

By NS Venkataraman*  The ongoing protest against the tender announced by Government of India for opening new coal mines in part of delta region in Tamil Nadu is not surprising, as it follows a trend and pattern in Tamil Nadu. In recent times, several projects have been heavily delayed or closed or given up in Tamil Nadu due to protests and demonstrations due to one reason or the other by one section of the people or the other. In such demonstration and protests, political parties in opposition and some environmental groups/ activists have actively involved themselves and have largely conducted the media campaign.

German defence support to Ukraine: Goodbye to foreign policy pursued since 1945

Olaf Scholz (right) By James W. Carden  News came at the end of March, courtesy of German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius, that Germany had completed a delivery of 18 Leopard 2 A6 main battle tanks to Ukraine. Still more, as Reuters reported on April 2, the German defense contractor Rheinmetall will set up a “military maintenance and logistics hub” in Satu Mare, Romania. What some might reasonably see as a major departure from Germany’s postwar foreign and defense posture is also the fulfillment of a promise German Chancellor Olaf Scholz made in his paradigm shifting Zeitenwende (“Turning Point”) speech of February 27, 2022.

Updating NCERT syllabus is undemocratic, autocratic, smacks of toxic communalism

Statement issued by Prof Tarun Kanti Naskar, General secretary, All India Save Education Committee, condemning NCERT's recent updating of the school curriculum: *** The so called 'updated' curriculum of NCERT has deleted many important chapters from Classes 10th, 11th and 12th text books of History, Civics, Political Science and Hindi. The chapters and lessons deleted indicates a communally motivated political act rather than an academic exercise. AISEC vehemently condemns this step and demands restoration of the deleted chapters forthwith.

Consumption prevalence of ultra-processed food items among rural poor, marginalized

Note on survey conducted in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh by Peoples’ Vigilance Committee on Human Rights (PVCHR) and People’s Initiative for Participatory Action on Food Labeling (PIPAL) *** India is a Nutrition Paradox where undernutrition and obesity coexist as a classic case of the double burden of malnutrition. Over one-third of children under age 5 in India are stunted and underweight. On the other hand, obesity among children is on an upward trend, with around 3.4 % children either overweight or obsess. This is more than 50% increase in the last five years. On average, 15 % of Indian children are facing some form of obesity. Nearly half of all under-5 child mortality in India is attributable to undernutrition. Global estimates suggest that almost 2.3 billion children and adults are overweight. The growing availability of ultra-processed foods containing high levels of sugar, sodium, saturated fats, and refined carbohydrates is a key contributor to the current obesity epidemic. The ad

Welfare schemes for neglected Denotified and Nomadic Tribes need a big boost

By Bharat Dogra  One of the most neglected sections of India’s society consists of denotified tribes, nomadic and semi-nomadic communities and tribes (DNT, NSN). The number of people of these communities is likely to be as high as 120 million or even more but we seldom hear about them. This neglect has also spread to welfare schemes for them which have been by and large very few and are under-budgeted.

Why it requires much more courage of conviction to be an atheist than a believer

By NS Venkataraman*  All religions explain the concept of God in one way or the other and lay down guidelines for leading life. Many believers readily accept the advocacy of the religions without questioning. However, there are persons who do not want to readily follow the grammar pronounced by religions and want to scrutinize the details and may refuse to accept them . They are known as non believers or atheists. The question is whether we should reject the non believers as negative thinkers and rebels or view them as robust thinkers with courage of conviction.

Erstwhile enclave dwellers in border area denied land rights in Cooch Behar district

Sujoy Singh Roy, Assistant Secretary, Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha (MASUM), writes to the Chairman, National Human Rights Commission: *** This is to bring your attention to the land registration problem in Nalgram erstwhile enclave under Mathabhanga Sub-Division, Sitalkuchi Block and Sitalkuchi Police Station in the district of Cooch Behar. Since the exchange of erstwhile enclaves among India and Bangladesh vide the Land Boundary Agreement, 2015, the erstwhile enclave dwellers of Cooch Behar have been neglected and promises made to them during the agreement by the Indian government have been outwardly denied. The erstwhile enclave dwellers were not granted citizenship yet even after eight years of the Land Boundary Agreement, 2015. Most of them were not provided their land titles by the government. Even when some were given land documents, almost all of those are faulty documents. The development initiatives taken by the government in the erstwhile enclaves, right after the Lan

Manifesting batting poetry, David Gower was just a cut above Zaheer Abbas, Vishwanath

By Harsh Thakor  A stroke of David Gower was the ultimate manifestation of the ethereal beauty of the game of cricket or reminiscent of composing cricket’s poetry. Gower simply took grace to heavenly heights, reminding one of pianist effortlessly tapping his notes of a shepherd tending his flock. Gower would caress the most lethal deliveries to the boundary ropes. He possessed talent at a volume as the very greatest of batsmen and on his day took batting craft to regions rarely scaled. Gower was possibly an equivalent of an Anglo-Saxon Ranjitsinghji, with a subtle touch of oriental wizardry.

Indian democracy is in peril, and it is nothing but a shadow of the feudal system

By Harasankar Adhikari  India's multi-party democracy is heavily loaded with politics for power and authority. Thus, "the victim of democracy is politics itself". People, as voters, have been strongly giving priority to the leaders of the political parties. Every political party bats to make all voters into supporters. Leaders of all parties are the strategic followers who ruin their counterparts. The party in rule over any government in India’s federal system uses exclusively and inclusively its power and authority for political gain. The ruling party employs various schemes for specific purposes. It selects beneficiaries of different schemes conditionally to bag captive votes. Therefore, the political dynamics, characters, and role-relationships of the political leaders are like feudal lords.

A dialogue on fundamentals, pervasiveness and core values of feminist theory

By IMPRI Team    The Gender Impact Studies Center (GISC) at IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute, New Delhi conducted a Three-Day Immersive Online Certificate Training Course on ‘Feminism: Fundamentals, Facets and Future’ from February 23rd to 25th, 2023.

Story of a woman who internalizes patriarchy, pleads guilty, struggles to have her right

By Maliha Iqbal*  The book , “Reminders of Him” by Colleen Hoover (Genre: Contemporary Romance. Montlake Romance, 2022, 336 pp) starts with Kenna Nicole Rowan, a twenty-six-year-old woman, being released from prison after five years. As the story progresses, we find that she had gone to prison for involuntary manslaughter. She had been involved in a car accident which resulted in the death of her boyfriend, Scotty. His death was essentially, even though indirectly, her fault and that was the reason for her going to prison.

Supreme Court must act against hate speech in the interest of democracy, freedom

By Vidya Bhushan Rawat*  Hate speech is 'happening' because the state is 'impotent', says Justice Joseph. Is it so simple ? Will the court introspect how the hate mongers today are using the judiciary and law for their own purposes. Is the state 'impotent' or has become a theocratic state with a secular constitution.