Showing posts from February, 2014

Purushottam Agrawal - General Elections 2014 and the Challenge of Communal Fascism

I made the following observations while addressing a National Convention on Democracy and Secularism on 27 February 2014 in Delhi. .. I am posting these remarks online to invite reflection, interaction and most importantly, action – Purushottam A meeting similar to this was organised ten years ago in the wake of the Gujarat pogrom, but the mood of that convention was one of fire and ‘josh’, unlike the present one characterised by udaasi. May be you are not that udaas or tired, but let me confess, regarding matters of secularism and rights, I feel tired in spirit... The organiser of that convention wanted me to address it “as a Hindu”, because of the name I carry. I told him, unlike many of my secular Hindu friends, I don’t disclaim my Hindu identity, but I don’t take political positions as a Hindu. Today, you want me to condemn the Gujarat pogrom, “as a Hindu”, tomorrow, I might, “as a Hindu” feel sympathetic to the idea of  Hindusthan Hinduon ka, nahin kisi ke baap ka!  I made i

Book review: Culture and the Death of God – Terry Eagleton

Culture and the Death of God – Terry Eagleton reviewed by  Jonathan Rée In  Culture and the Death of God  he deploys all his formidable skills to explain how the high hopes of many generations of secular materialists collapsed along with the twin towers. Atheism is in trouble, according to  Terry Eagleton . Throughout the 20th century it went from strength to strength, as churches lost their congregations and theology was put to flight by natural science. But then there was 9/11 and everything changed. Traditional churchgoing may have continued its long decline, while the strident scepticism of  Richard Dawkins  and  Christopher Hitchens  still struck a chord with the book-buying classes, but, in the rest of the world,  religion  was rousing itself from a long slumber. Wild forms of worship – Christian, Islamic or other – have now taken hold of the poor and the oppressed. Religious faith has gone viral. Or so it seems to Eagleton, and he thinks we should have seen it coming.

LEJLA KURIC - Opposing religious bigotry is not bigotry

The recent  controversy  sparked when Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate Maajid Nawaz commented on the censorship of a satirical cartoon offensive to some Muslims, has highlighted once again that British Muslims are perceived as a homogenous group with no difference of an opinion.  This is a perception widely held on the Left. More often than not, the Left sadly aligns itself with self-serving, self-appointed ‘community leaders’ that it regards as authentic voices, while truly liberal voices like Nawaz’s are shunned as those of ‘Westernised’ sell-outs. Liberal apologists for the Islamic Right are – perversely – happy to turn a blind eye to the fact that ‘community leaders’ promote divisive religious identity politics and a narrative of perpetual victimhood. It is only a small step from religious identity politics into religion as a political ideology.  When this happens, religion becomes a tool of politics rather than a matter of private belief and personal conscience.  Religio

Janaki Nair - TERRORIZED BY THE PAST // Nivedita Menon: The Embarrassed Modern Hindu

The tradition of sexuality in ancient Indian culture is what the attackers of Wendy Doniger’s book fear most It is our good fortune that our knowledge of Hinduism does not come from the authorized versions that Dina Nath Batra and his Shiksha Bachao Andolan wish to propagate. Neither does our collective imagination remain reined in by his fantasies about the Indian past. This large and luxuriantly complex society, even when all else has been brutally taken from its wretched millions, has its imagination intact. And, we fervently hope, for some time to come. Therein lies the challenge to our desperately needed “historical temper”. As an 18-year-old, I had read the sexually frank passages of the Rig Veda with wonder and amazement. In a small village called Sanehalli, Karnataka, where the performing arts have been vigorously patronized by Swami Panditaradhya, I recently watched, along with the people from surrounding villages, the Kathakali performance at the annual theatre festiv

The Fraud Called Opinion Polls

News Express, a news and current affairs television channel, claims to have exposed malpractices of 11 opinion poll agencies via a sting operation. Its sting operation, titled Operation Prime Minister, revealed, the channel claimed, that pollsters are willing to manipulate data and provide “misleading results”. While the sting operation does not show how or which specific survey in the past was deliberately manipulated, nor offer any evidence for it, transcripts provided by the channel show that heads of such agencies were willing to provide two sets of data — original and manipulated — for different rates when purportedly approached on behalf of political parties. News Express editor-in-chief Vinod Kapri said in a press-conference that they wished to “expose the mindset and intent” of the polling agencies and were motivated by the Election Commission’s letter to political parties inviting their views on opinion polls and the mushrooming of such polls.  Kapri said their sting showed

Liberal newspaper Express Tribune cowed into silence by Pakistani Taliban

When it was launched four years ago, the Express Tribune set out to become the house newspaper of liberal-minded Pakistanis.  A newcomer to a market dominated by conservative-inclined papers, it made a point of writing about everything from the relentless rise of religious extremism to gay rights. But in recent weeks the paper has been cowed into silence by an unusually blatant display of power by the Pakistani  Taliban .  The paper was forced to drastically tone down its coverage last month after three employees of the media group, which includes another newspaper and television channel, were killed in Karachi by men armed with pistols and silencers on 17 January.  The attack was later claimed by the Tehrik-e-Taliban   Pakistan   (TTP), a large coalition of militant groups, which accused the media group of disseminating anti-Taliban propaganda.  Immediately following the killings, the paper's editor, Kamal Siddiqi, sent an email to staff outlining the paper's new policy.

Jyoti Punwani - For Doniger row, don’t blame the law

So you have our idiotic law too!’’ a relative from Islamabad crowed after the Wendy Doniger affair hit the headlines. He was referring to Doniger’s statement that described Section 295A of the IPC as “the Indian law that makes it a criminal rather than civil offence to publish a book that offends any Hindu.” Why did Doniger, who must be familiar with the section under which her book, The Hindus: An Alternative History, was sought to be banned, describe a law which applies to all faiths as one that applies only to Hindus? Indeed, it was the offended feelings of Muslims that gave rise to this law . The story of how Section 295A came to be enacted shows its continuing relevance. In 1927, the Punjab High Court ruled that while the book Rangila Rasool on Prophet Mohammed was offensive to Muslims, its Hindu publisher could not be prosecuted under Section 153A of the IPC, which related only to promoting disharmony between two communities. Sensing the mounting anger among Muslims, it was th

Students rally against Delhi University's FYUP

Stop the Destruction Of Students' future, of our Education President of India, Visitor of DU, Must Intervene! Intensify the Ongoing Movement for the Roll Back of FYUP! Sign the Petition to the President Of India //  We appeal to all DU students and all Citizens of Delhi to   Join Delhi-Wide  FYUP Hatao- Bhavishya Bachao   Yatra Starting on 26 February Roll Back FYUP! Save Our Future!     Honours in 3 Years for Present Batch! Friends, Since 15 January, we had undertaken a massive campaign, seeking feedback on FYUP from more than 17000 students. More than 90% of these students have stated that they still want to finish Honours in 3 years.   Students openly proclaimed in the feedback that   FYUP has proved to be a disaster.   Thousands of teachers and students participated in numerous protests since the day it was unilaterally implemented. In a Referendum on FYUP held in August 22, 2013 out of 11,556 students 10,519 students (91.02%) voted against the FYUP.   Yet

Reliance began drilling at KG without green clearance

Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) had started oil and gas exploration in the controversial Krishna Godavari basin (KG Basin) without obtaining mandatory environment clearance (EC), according to crucial documents in HT’s possession. Despite knowing this, the Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF) gave them post facto clearance.  The clearances were given by the Atal Behari Vajpayee-led NDA government in 2002. RIL and MoEF did not respond to detailed queries sent by HT despite several reminders.  Read:   RIL KG-D6 contract can't be terminated: Moily to PM A year later, RIL proposed to change the number of wells to be drilled in each of the five blocks and even this was accepted by the ministry. As per the environment clearance issued to them, “a fresh reference should have been made to the ministry to assess the adequacy of conditions imposed and to add additional environmental protection measures required, if any.”  Aam Aadmi Party leader Arvind Kejriwal has been raising unco