Showing posts from August, 2012

RSS 'nationalism' at work: ABVP men assault 98 migrants after dragging them out of train

Ninety-eight migrant labourers were dragged out of a train and assaulted, allegedly by Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) members, at Mandya in Karnataka late on Wednesday night.  The activists terrorised the labourers hailing from West Bengal, Orissa, Rajasthan, Bihar and other States for nearly two hours before dragging them out, claiming they were “illegal Bangladeshis.”  The labourers were heading to Mangalore on the Yeshwantpur-Kannur Express.  Scores of passengers remained mute spectators to the assault, even as the labourers pleaded that they were headed to the coastal city to seek jobs at construction sites.  The activists were returning from a convention in Bangalore. The ordeal for the workers, 66 of them from West Bengal and belonging to various religions, began soon after they boarded the general compartment of the train in Bangalore at 8 p.m.  The activists started questioning them, Bishnu Babu from West Bengal told The Hindu. They also started raising slogans agai

Raj Thackeray threatens Asha Bhosle show 'Sur-Kshetra', but singer to go ahead

MUMBAI: The  Maharashtra Navnirman Sena has threatened to disrupt Sur-Kshetra, a  music show  in which eight vocalists from  Pakistan   and an equal number of Indian  singers  are scheduled to participate.  The MNS's film wing, the Chitrapat Karmachari Sena, on Thursday wrote to the channel on which  Sur-Kshetra  will be aired from September 8, and to noted playback singer Asha Bhosale, who is on the show's grand jury, spelling out its views. "We respect art. But Pakistan did not reciprocate this sentiment when it summarily banned Salman Khan's Ek Tha Tiger recently. We will not allow any shoot of the channel if it goes ahead with the show involving Pakistani artistes," said the letter. Buoyed by Raj Thackeray's recent morcha condemning the mob rampage at Azad Maidan on August 11 and the Supreme Court's latest verdict confirming Ajmal Kasab's  death penalty , the MNS has begun to flex its muscles to earn a niche in Mumbai politics, say party watchers.

Rapping activism

They’re young, intelligent and subversive. And they’re not afraid to tell it like it is.Three young rappers, who believe in ‘music activism’, have been addressing environmental, social and gender issues through song.  Dombivali  resident  Viraj   Manjrekar , popularly known as Roger, is a graphic designer who raps in English, Hindi and Marathi. Hailing from the controversial town of Jaitapur , his lyrics are full of state politics. “I startedas a non-activist rapper and then improvised to get into activism.” He protested against the environmental effects of a nuclear power station at  Jaitapur  and got arrested. His track  Kaisey   Mai   Sahu  i s a reaction to themolestation incident at Guwahati  and portrays the shame he felt after he saw the footage of the incident on TV. Currently, Roger is working on Big Bad Wolf, a song about children committing suicide. Rapper  Manmeet   Kaur  also conveys her angst about the  Guwahati  incident. “Rap is all about telling  stories ,” she says. 

Books reviewed: How Noam Chomsky’s world works by David Hawkes

Noam Chomsky HOW THE WORLD WORKS Edited by Arthur Naiman THE SCIENCE OF LANGUAGE Interviews with James McGilvray Anyone following the career of Noam Chomsky is soon confronted with a problem. In fact, it has become known as the “Chomsky problem”. Chomsky has achieved eminence in two very different fields, theoretical linguistics and political commentary. The “Chomsky problem” is that his approaches to these fields appear to contradict each other. In politics Chomsky is a radical, but in linguistics he takes positions that can easily be characterized as reactionary. He treats linguistics as a branch of biology. He traces language to a “Universal Grammar” resident in the physical brain. He believes that our linguistic nature is hard-wired into our genes. Because they diminish the influence of environment on human behaviour, such claims can be used to suggest that certain modes of social organization are natural & immutable. As a result they have often been associated with conse

Space telescope spots millions of supermassive black holes and "extreme" galaxies

A space telescope has added to its list of spectacular finds, spotting millions of supermassive black holes and blisteringly hot, "extreme" galaxies.  The finds, by US space agency Nasa's Wide-Field Infrared Survey Explorer (Wise), once lay obscured behind dust.  But Wise can see in wavelengths correlated with heat, seeing for the first time some of the brightest objects in the Universe.  The haul will help astronomers work out how galaxies and black holes form.  It is known that most large galaxies host black holes at their centres, sometimes feeding on nearby gas, dust and stars and sometimes spraying out enough energy to halt star formation altogether.  How the two evolve together has remained a mystery, and the Wise data are already yielding some surprises.  Wise gives astronomers what is currently a unique view on the cosmos, looking at wavelengths of light far beyond those we can see but giving information that we cannot get from wavelengths we can. Among its othe

Naroda Patiya verdict: Aides face the music, Modi remains ‘righteous’: by Kingshuk Nag

When I first heard of the conviction of former Gujarat minister Maya Kodnani and Babu Bajrangi in the Naroda Patiya case on Wednesday morning, my first reaction was: why is it that the associates of Narendra Modi get nailed every time but he gets off scot-free? I am referring to Modi’s former minister Amit Shah and police officers like DG Vanzara who were close to him and had a free run. Vanzara and Rajkumar Pandyan (another police officer close to him) are languishing in jail; Amit Shah is also facing charges. Today, 31 more have been convicted but Modi (who, of course, was not directly involved in the incident) is going strong. While the Congress and Keshubhai Patel will put up a stiff fight, it is likely that he will be returned for the third time in the elections that will be held four months from now. And using this victory as ‘public approval’ for everything that he may have done or not done in the past, Modi will lambast the secular forces, blaming them for everything conceivabl

Dalai Lama sees "encouraging signs" of shift in China

(Reuters) - There are encouraging signs that attitudes towards Tibet are shifting in China, the Dalai Lama said on Wednesday, adding that the exiled Tibetan leadership is ready for fresh talks on his homeland if there was a genuine change of heart in Beijing. The spiritual leader said in an interview that it was too early to tell if China's next president - who is almost certain to be Xi Jinping after a Communist Party Congress later this year - would adopt a new stance that could break decades of deadlock over Tibet. But he was reassured by what he had heard.  "I can't say for definite, but according to many Chinese friends, they say the new, coming leadership seems more lenient," the Dalai Lama, 77, told Reuters in his audience room in the Indian Himalayan foothills town of Dharamsala.  "If their side ... for their own interest are thinking more realistically we are ready for full cooperation with them." His comments were more upbeat than just a few

A case against the death penalty - Former SC judges say 13 wrongly convicted to death

Within a few weeks of Pranab Mukherjee assuming office as the 13th President of India on July 25, 14 former judges of eminence signed an unusual appeal addressed to the President. The appeal, in the form of separate letters, sought his intervention to commute the death sentences of 13 convicts, currently lodged in various jails across the country, using his powers under Article 72 of the Constitution... what is so special about these 13 convicts that made the former judges come together and make an impassioned appeal for commutation?.. these 13 convicts were erroneously sentenced according to the Supreme Court’s own admission and are currently facing the threat of imminent execution.. The Supreme Court, while deciding three recent cases, held that seven of its judgments awarding the death sentence were rendered per incuriam (meaning out of error or ignorance) and contrary to the binding dictum of “rarest of rare” category propounded in the Constitution Bench judgment in Bachan Singh v

Art and its aftertaste - a conversation with Amar Kanwar

Kanwar, who holds the rare honour of being selected for three consecutive dOCUMENTA exhibitions — in 2002, 2007 and 2012 — held at Kassel in Germany, finds the interest in his work reassuring, but cautions that “in the last 10 years the West has also been very interested in Indian bauxite ore. We need to understand the market and how it affects one’s work . ” It hasn’t been easy getting Amar Kanwar to agree to this conversation. But it’s easy to see why; a discussion of the artist’s highly political works is not accommodated easily inside the cultivated ambience of a restaurant. After a bout of doubt and deliberations we meet at Café Zaffiro at Zaza, Zamrudpur, on a rainy evening.  A graduate from Mass Communication Research Centre, Jamia Millia Islamia University, Kanwar began as a documentary filmmaker. Although his interest is still primarily the moving image, his work has entered different contexts. “I make whatever is compelling me at a particular moment in time. With every f

How will Modi explain his minister’s role in the riots?

What can be said of civil society in Gujarat when its minister for women development and child welfare is convicted of rioting against women and children? On Wednesday, for the first time in India, a sitting MLA was found to have instigated violence in the worst of the 2002 incidents. Twelve people testified to minister Maya Kodnani assisting and egging on the rioters in the Ahmedabad suburb of Naroda Patiya. A total of 96 Muslims were killed that night, 34 children including a newborn, 32 women and 30 men. Kodnani supplied the killers with kerosene and swords, according to testimony. Judge Jyotsna Yagnik found 32 people guilty for the massacre. The fearsome Babu “Bajrangi”, the man accused of forcibly undoing marriages of Hindu girls to Muslim boys, has also been convicted in the case. Kodnani, a Sindhi whose family migrated at Partition, was an MLA when she participated in the violence. Despite the grave allegations against her, Kodnani was made minister by Modi later. When she was c

RSS activists ransack BJP office in Indore, burn Shivraj Chouhan's effigy

Enraged over the transfer of a senior police official probing the Manoj Parmar attack case, hundreds of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) activists ransacked the Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) office in Indore last night and also burnt the effigy of Chief Minister Shivraj Chouhan, sources said. No one was injured in the attack.  The police hasn't registered a case as yet since "no one turned up" for filing any report, said Superintendent of Police SM Zaidee. Shouting anti-chief minister slogans, Mr Chouhan's cabinet colleagues Kailash Vijayvergiya and Ramesh Mandola, along with around 200 activists entered the BJP office in the Jaora compound in Sanyogitaganj area and damaged office furniture and electronic gadgets , sources said.  The RSS activists demanded that "those who work for the welfare of the majority community should be in the government" and wanted the transfer order of Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) Rakesh Singh cancelled. The prot

2002 Gujarat riots: 32 convicted, 29 acquitted in Naroda Patiya massacre case

Ahmedabad:  A trial court in Gujarat has convicted 32 people and acquitted 29 others in the Naroda Patiya massacre case which took place during the 2002 Gujarat riots. In a major blow to the Narendra Modi government, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MLA from Naroda, Maya Kodnani, and Bajrang Dal leader Babu Bajrangi, too, have been convicted in the case. Kodnani, who is the first BJP leader to be convicted in a riot case, was the sitting MLA when the Naroda Patiya massacre in which 97 people were killed on February 28, 2002 took place. She and Bajrangi have been convicted under Indian Penal Code Section 120 B (criminal conspiracy) and 302 (murder). The sections under which Kodnani and Bajrangi have been convicted carry the minimum sentence of life term and the maximum is death. The Naroda Patiya massacre is the largest single case of mass murder during the 2002 Gujarat riots that broke out following the Sabarmati Express train carnage near Godhra station. The case has been probed by a Sup

And we are Muslims? — Mehr Tarar

Let us all think: who is the so-called blasphemer here? The 11-year-old Christian girl who was playing with discarded pages or those who threw the pages there? What happened to the Quranic injunction of aamal (actions) connected to neeyat (intent)? There is no answer. We are all just imposters, hypocrites, cowards, who hide behind the name of Allah, when there is nothing left to our moral, social and religious discourses. .. Religion is a commodity today. It is a commodity for those who practice it in mosques, chanting what they learned as children without full comprehension of what the Quran connotes. It is a commodity for those in madrassas where hoards of pupils, hunched over their religious books, learn as much from the text as their teachers see fit. It is a commodity for those who, to monopolise a few weak souls, roar into their microphones how one faith is better than the others — be it Sunni or Shia. It is a commodity for those who pen reams of hate literature without any consi

How God came to vote for Putin: the background to Pussy Riot

The gradual intrusion of the Orthodox Church into Russian secular life and the state is something that went largely unnoticed by the Russian public. The Pussy Riot trial is beginning to change all that  The Pussy Riot affair pushed the issue of relations between society and the Russian Orthodox Church to the very top of the media and political agenda in Russia over Spring/Summer 2012. Did that media situation reflect underlying reality? Was the conflict simply the result of radical protest activity? The answer to both questions is a very obvious ‘no’. However, the collision of the Russian Orthodox Church with the ‘protest movement’ (in a broader definition, the ‘creative classes’) was, it seems, a collision foretold. All it took was one sudden turn for all the simmering contradictions to be laid bare, and for the conflict to move from its latent to active phase. Pussy Riot's main crime was that their stunt was directed  precisely against   authority -  of the Church and of th

Private armies & ethno-nationalism in Assamese politics

The 50-50 Shot  by S.N.M. ABDI in Outlook ...The Bodos chose the terror path way back in 1987 with the slogan, ‘Divide Assam 50-50’, leaving behind a grisly trail of death and destruction. The first tripartite peace treaty between the Bodos, the Centre and state government was signed in 1993; the Congress ruled in both Delhi and Dispur then but the pact collapsed in no time under the weight of its own contradictions. So another accord was signed in 2003 when the BJP was in power at the Centre and Gogoi ruled the state. It had L.K. Advani’s blessings but was destined to be disastrous because the BTAD, covering some 8,795 sq km area, was handed on a platter to the Bodos who comprise merely 20 per cent of the population. And in the newly-created self-governing body called Bodo Territorial Council (BTC), 30 out of 46 seats were reserved for Bodos! Devabrata, who is the chief advisor of the leftist United Revolutionary Movement Council of Assam (URMCA), says, “Nothing could be more un