Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Anwesha Madhukalya - Hindus And Muslims Join Forces To Save A Mosque - A lesson in brotherhood from Gujarat

After communal riots broke out in Ahmedabad's Kalupur neighbourhood 30 years ago, the area's Muslim residents began to avoid the prayer hall located in the predominantly Hindu area. When riots broke out again after the demolition of Babri Masjid in December 1992, devotees stopped going to the mosque altogether. According to a report in the Times Of India, the mosque, which is nearly 100 years old, is located near three temples. After it was abandoned, it fell into disrepair, with weeds and foliage taking over the prayer hall. However, in March 2016, azaan was heard from within the mosque for the first time in three decades.

The communal riots of 2002, set forth an unlikely but not unprecedented chain of events. Residents near the mosque volunteered and came together to save the mosque. Hindus reached out to the Muslim community and people from both the communities set forth to protect and save the mosque.

They cleared the vegetation and contributed resources for the mosque's renovation. The efforts led to solidifying the bond between the two communities and an atmosphere of peace prevailed. In fact, a set of keys to the mosque have been given to flower sellers Poonam Parekh and Kaushik Rami, who set up shop near the mosque. As reported in Times Of India, the priest of one of the temples in the vicinity said that after the rehabilitation of the mosque, Muslim youths do not have to go to another locality to pray anymore.

As they say, the way to bring in love and peace is by love and peace.

Monday, 27 February 2017

LSR College English faculty backs their student

NB: Congratulations on your brave protest, Gurmehar, we are all with you. My late father too was an Army officer, who taught me to stand up for truth and justice. I am sure the spirit of your dear father is proud of you. Well done. Dilip

Rituparna Chatterjee: What The Trolling Of Gurmehar Kaur Says About How Indian Men View Women With Opinion

We, the faculty members of the English Department, Lady Shri Ram College unequivocally and strongly support our student Gurmehar Kaur and her right to express her opinion on issues that embroil our university. It is immensely gratifying to us as her teachers that she has responded sensitively, creatively and bravely to events in her immediate context rather than seek the safe refuge of silence. We feel that it is the bounden duty of educational institutions to nurture sensitive, responsive and critical thinking students without the fear of violent retaliation. We are proud that Gurmehar has fulfilled her duty as a young citizen of this country.

The threats of violence and brutality that she faces are absolutely reprehensible. Responses on social media by public figures such as Virendra Sehwag and Randeep Hooda are shameful trivialization of the intimidation that Gurmehar faces at the hands of violent mobs whose viciousness the university has recently witnessed.We fervently appeal to the good sense of the public and to institutions of redressal to help restore our faith in law and justice in our country and let our young citizens think and articulate without fear of intimidation.

Delhi University student  Gurmehar Kaur early Tuesday morning announced that she’s withdrawing from the Save DU campaign – that’s protesting against student violence on campuses – saying she’s ‘gone through enough’. The 20-year-old daughter of a martyred Indian Army Captain was in the eye of storm following her poster campaign on social media demanding an end to violence on campuses, allegedly by ABVP students. “I’m withdrawing from the campaign. Congratulations everyone. I request to be left alone. I said what I had to say.. I have been through a lot and this is all my 20 year self could take :)” she tweeted this morning. Kaur, however, urged students to go to the protest march taking place today at Khalsa College in large numbers.  “The campaign is about students and not about me. Please go to the March in huge numbers. Best of luck.”

She adds: “To anyone questioning my courage and bravery.. I’ve shown more than enough. One thing is for sure, next time we will think twice before resorting to violence or threats and that’s all this was about.” Kaur has also alleged that over the last few days, she has received violent threats including those of rape and murder. On Monday, she approached the Delhi Commission for Women asking that the threats be probed.  The DCW then urged the Delhi Police to take suo-moto action and arrest those guilty.

On Monday, Union Ministers including Kiren Rijiju targeted Kaur questioning who was ‘polluting’ her mind, to which she responded saying:  “I have my own mind, nobody is polluting my mind. I am not anti-national.” Kaur initiated the campaign after her friends were verbally and physically abused at Ramjas College in North Campus, allegedly by ABVP students. Tuesday’s rally by students from Delhi University has been called to reclaim campuses spaces and demand that those responsible for last week’s violence – including police officials – be brought to book.

Union Law and Communications Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad condemned the intimidation. “Any kind of intimidation of this young girl is wrong and will be dealt with strongly,” Prasad told The Indian Express. He added: “Everyone has got the right of freedom of speech and expression. Violence is not permissible at all. But the country also needs to reflect that those who openly talk of breaking India, demanding that Kashmir should be given Independence and Bastar should be made independent, do they have the right to campaign for breaking of India under cover of freedom of speech? But violence has no place at all.”

NB: To suggest that the Ramjas seminar of 21-22 February was a venue for discussing the secession of Kashmir or Bastar is a shameless distortion of facts, which is now the expected mode of public utterances by this government. In fact I was due to speak there, on the issue of the massacre of 1984 and its impact. I could not do so as the ABVP was indulging in riotous activity, under the nose of the Delhi police. Students and teachers participating in a seminar were attacked with stones and beaten up, by the state-protected ABVP cadre who used the mere appearance of certain names on the seminar programme to start a riot. I have written about this here. That ministers responsible for law and order take the side of hooligans is shameful. The Law minister doesn't notice that the violence was unleashed by the ABVP, and that this courageous young woman was threatened in vile language for opposing violence and intimidation. Here is an example of the easy patriotism of our Sanghi motormouths: BJP MP Pratap Simha Compares DU Student Gurmehar Kaur With Dawood Ibrahim . How brave and manly they are. DS 

The English Department of Lady Shri Ram College, where 20-year-old Gurmehar Kaur is a first year student of English Honours, has unanimously issued the following statement today: We, the faculty members of the English Department, Lady Shri Ram College unequivocally and strongly support our student Gurmehar Kaur and her right to express her opinion on issues that embroil our university. It is immensely gratifying to us as her teachers that she has responded sensitively, creatively and bravely to events in her immediate context rather than seek the safe refuge of silence. We feel that it is the bounden duty of educational institutions to nurture sensitive, responsive and critical thinking students without the fear of violent retaliation. We are proud that Gurmehar has fulfilled her duty as a young citizen of this country.

The threats of violence and brutality that she faces are absolutely reprehensible. Responses on social media by public figures such as Virendra Sehwag and Randeep Hooda are shameful trivialization of the intimidation that Gurmehar faces at the hands of violent mobs whose viciousness the university has recently witnessed.We fervently appeal to the good sense of the public and to institutions of redressal to help restore our faith in law and justice in our country and let our young citizens think and articulate without fear of intimidation.

The statement has been signed by Rita Joshi, Madhu Grover, Rukshana Shroff, Arti Minocha, Maya Joshi, Shernaz Cama, Mitali Mishra, Arunima Ray, Dipti Nath, Maitreyee Mandal, Janet Lalawmpuii, Ngangom Maheshkanta Singh, Karuna Rajeev, Wafa Hamid, Jonathan Varghese, Taniya Sachdeva, Rachita Mittal. Kaur, on Tuesday, withdrew from the Save Delhi University campaign, but urged students to attend it in large numbers. She took up the poster campaign against violence on campuses after her friends were attacked – verbally and physically – allegedly by members of the ABVP. During her campaign, she alleged to have received threats – including those of rape and murder – on her social media accounts. Moreover, Union Ministers including Kiren Rijiju questioned her motives asking who were behind ‘polluting her mind’.

PS: Among the comments below this article in IE is this one. We should read it carefully, for it reflects a common attitude: Like J-p-a-n, the nation that provides the best social services to its citizens, we should also ban social sciences research/degrees from all Indian universities..., it is urgent now, because too many fake or pseudo intellectual with less than half of IQ of any engineering student from a good college are getting created and a huge unproductive force of unskilled people with just show-off degrees are getting created... this is anti-thesis of education... these guys know nothing and consider themselves intellectuals... the only thing they try to learn is language and quotes.. The information about Japan is reported here: The Abe administration is directing the abolition of humanities and social sciences at National Universities in Japan

What is significant is that the commenter want this ideal to be enforced in India. He considers the only knowledge worth knowing and teaching to be that connected with measurement. Everything else is worthless. History, literature, philosophy, language, everything beyond mathematics, science and technology deserves to be forgotten. This is typical of the productionist sentiment of the modern mind, which can't understand that science is a product of the human spirit, not its lord and master. We may also note that the Sangh driven government wishes to bring about the same obliteration of the humanities in India - barring their certified and approved version of Indian religion and culture. The assault on the mind unfolds every day in India's universities as well - FYUP was only one example of it. Only a firm commitment to philosophical questioning can stem the tide of nihilism. Mathematics is ethically neutral. Here is something to think about: Satyagraha - An answer to modern nihilism - DS

Ahara-nidra-bhaya-maithunam ca // samanyam etat pasubhir naranam
dharmo hi tesam adhiko viseso // dharmena hinah pasubhih samanah
(Hunger, sleep, fear and sex are common to men and animals
What distinguishes men from animals is the knowledge of right and wrong)
(Bhagwadgita; Tr S. Radhakrishnan, 1948, 1971, p 79)

State protected hooliganism in Ramjas College
Here are some posts relevant to violent censorship in Ramjas and elsewhere:

Saturday, 25 February 2017

Muslim organisation announces Rs 10 lakh reward for beheading Tarek Fatah // Self-Appointed Defenders of Islam must be careful (1994)

NB: The outrageous instigation to murder Mr Tarek Fatah by some Muslim clerics is an example of how low our standards of personal security, justice and public discourse have sunk. Not to mention what passes for religious belief. I post beneath it an article I wrote 23 years ago, when a similar situation had arisen with the controversy around Salman Rushdie's The Satanic Verses. The article was a contribution to an ongoing debate in The Pioneer (then edited by the late Mr Vinod Mehta). It speaks for itself, and the relevance to the current situation should be clear.

These clerics may criticise Mr Tarek Fatah's ideas and beliefs, but they have no right to indulge in calls for murder. This is a criminal offence under Section 108 of the IPC and deserves police action. Murderous threats cannot be permitted to pass under the guise of an expression of hurt sentiment. (The vicious campaign against Taslima Nasreen by certain ulema and organisations of conservative Muslims is still going on). It is a favourite habit of communalists to resort to violence and/or violent intimidation if anyone challenges their so-called religious beliefs. A famous 'Baba' who is also a successful businessman recently announced his desire to behead all those who did not chant Bharat Mata ki Jai upon demand. Would these ulema approve of head-chopping in revenge for 'hurt sentiment' by the Hindutva brigade? 

Frankly it is a wonder to me that persons who are so consumed by hate and blood-lust are seen by any section of the public to be interpreters of religious truth. It is unbelievable that Almighty God could be so bloodthirsty. Does God have nothing better to do than wait for heads of blasphemers to roll? Hasn't enough blood been shed? There are many of us whose sentiments are outraged by the antics of nation-worshippers and communal fanatics. It doesn't give us the right to resort to or instigate violence. This has gone on for too long and we have to raise our voices against it, no matter which religious flag they wave. 

At the height of the violence of 1947, Mahatma Gandhi had said “it is time for peace-loving citizens to assert themselves and isolate goondaism. Non-violent non-cooperation is the universal remedy. Good is self-existent, evil is not. It is like a parasite living in and around good. It will die of itself when the support that good gives it is withdrawn.” The men demanding violence in the name of religion are a disgrace to whichever faith they claim as theirs. They can continue only because many of us remain silent or complicit in their misbehaviour. It is time that peace-loving persons of all faiths break their silence and withdraw co-operation with those who incite or indulge in violence - DS 
A Bareilly-based Muslim organisation has announced a “reward” of Rs 10 lakh to behead Islamic scholar Tarek Fatah for allegedly promoting “un-Islamic” views through his TV programme.
The All-India Faisan-e-Madina Council also demanded an immediate ban on ‘Fateh ka Fatwa’, a television programme hosted by Fatah on a private news channel. “Tarek Fatah is conspiring to disrupt harmony between Hindus and Muslims. He is as an agent of our enemies. He must be stopped at any cost and our organisation will pay Rs 10,00,786 to any person who will decapitate him,” said Moeen Siddique, head of the council.“He and his programme are being funded by foreign enemies of our country and the government must initiate an inquiry against him,” Siddique said. Fateh, a Canadian national of Pakistani origin, is known for his secular views against Islamic fundamentalism. “In his programme, he claims that it is not required to wear a burqa and terms triple talaq as haram. Muslims must not listen to his advice and come forward against him,” said Siddique.

Other Muslim social organisations too voiced their resentment against Fatah. Jamat Raza-e-Mustafa, another social organisation that works under the aegis of Dargah-e Ala Hazrat, has written a letter to the President Pranab Mukherjee, demanding a ban on the television programme and expulsion of Fatah from the country. “Fatwa is a religious edict, which can only be issued by a recognised Muslim cleric. Fateh is neither a cleric nor he has any knowledge about Quran. His programme has hurt the sentiments of the followers of Islam,” reads the letter sent to the President by Nasir Qureshi, the convenor of the Jamat Raza-e-Mustafa. Both the organisations have also demanded immediate ban on the private news channel that airs the said programme.
Self-Appointed Defenders of Islam must be careful
(Dilip Simeon in The Pioneer, April 27, 1994
This article was written 23 years ago, in the wake of the controversy surrounding the ban on The Satanic Verses; the victimisation of professor Mushirul Hasan for suggesting the ban needed to be lifted. (He was violently assaulted in December 1992). Soon after that, the hounding of Taslima Nasreen began in Bangladesh.

Mr Ajit Bhattacharjea’s article on the decline of Jamia Millia’s liberal tradition coupled with another epistolic exemplar of intolerance by Mr Badrul Islam (The Pioneer, April 14, 1994) between them herald the revival of a long and painful controversy. Mr Bhattacharjea is right to remind us of the humanist origins of Jamia during the first non-cooperation movement, and of the reformist aspirations of Dr Zakir Husain. Mr Badrul Islam, on the other hand, is still asserting his mythical and monolithic truth. At the risk of sounding trite, I shall use this opportunity to drive home certain arguments about minority rights. I write this on the assumption that Mr Islam’s views are not his alone, and that those who think like him are interested in the reactions of non-Muslim readers.

Jamia provides Prof Mushirul Hasan with his bread and butter, says Badrul Islam, and he ought to maintain its decorum by repecting “the sentiments of the Muslim majority”. (How does he know what these are?) He adds that Prof Hasan ought not to have spoken out in favour of Rushdie’s book, demands an apology, and ends on the grand note of magnanimity. Prof Hasan did not speak in favour of the book (which he had every right to do). He merely opposed the ban. Why do persons like Mr Islam insist on deliberately misreading Prod Hasan’s words? In any case, by what norm does the airing of opinion become a violation of decorum? If Jamia provides Prof Hasan with a livelihood, by the same token the Indian Constitution provides Mr Badrul Islam with the freedom to air his own illiberal and often disgusting views.

If, say, the Bajrang Dal were to ask Mr Islam to maintain the decorum due in the Indian polity by keeping his mouth shut, would he not seek protection under the democratic Constitution rather than from Islamic commandments? Democratic values would prompt me to come to his defence, even though I detest his views. But conservatives like him must consider the implications of their beliefs more rigorously. Islam, we are told, enjoins the “taking to task” of Prof Mushirul Hasan for the sin he has committed. What sin? Who decides what a sin is? To say that the ban should be lifted is not the same thing as abusing the Prophet of Islam. But even such abuse can-not become the occasion for threats of violence. I insist on the right to blaspheme, and to criticise the contents of all texts, religious or otherwise.

Dogma of Internality: Ambedkar’s Riddles of Hinduism was said to have hurt the sentiments of Hindus, and the Quranic injunction to destroy idols and attack idol worshippers might have the same result. Satyarth Prakash by Swami Dayanand Saraswati contains uncomplimentary references to Jesus Christ and Guru Nanak. The Ramayana recommends the thrashing of women and Sudras, and the Bible proclaims the permanent collective guilt of the Jews for Christ’s crucifixion. Can Mr Badrul Islam state why these texts should not be banned?  Or why those of us who object to any of the contents of these texts should not start beating up those who revere them?

What constitutes “taking to task”? Mr Badrul Islam must remember that Prof Hasan was brutally assaulted December 4, 1992. After the communal tragedies we have witnessed in recent years, it is shameful for him to condone such violence. He criticises The Pioneer for interfering with “the internal matters of Jamia”. His entire argument is loaded with the dogma of internality. Even his commendations of forgiveness imply that no one else is capable of being forgiving. In a recently published interview, a Jamia student leader threatened to “hack Mushirul Hasan to pieces”. Would Mr Islam consider this an example of an internal matter? He refers to Prof Hasan as “a known Marxist”. Apparently, known Marxists with Muslim names are not free of religiously motivated accusations. I submit that the violent attacks on Hindu journalists by kar sevaks on December 6, 1992, was not an internal matter for Hindus alone to react to. Along with the destruction of the Babri Masjid, that event too, was my concern, as an Indian citizen.

Concepts such as human rights and constitutional liberties may not be found in the Quran. Yet Mr Islam seems to take them for granted he talks of minority rights. The question he should confront is: If the “Muslim majority” (his phrase) will not grant democratic rights to minorities within its own ranks (reformers and liberals), how may it expect minority rights to prevail in the policy as a whole? The Assamese journalist, Mr Amin-ur Rehman, has recently been subjected to death threats by fundamentalists. Will Mr Islam speak out in defence of this man, even though he might disagree with his ideas?

Pitfalls of absolutism: In the end, it all boils down to the question of violence and civilised conduct. We are living neither under Sharia law, not the codes of Manu. Mr Badrul Islam is free to condemn apostates, blasphemers and Marxists. But quotes from Quran and Hadith cannot justify the instigation of violence against those whose opinions he finds outrageous. It is a crying shame that Government ministers too have indulged in such instigation, and that, far from protecting Prof Hasan, the administration shielded rank communalists who were and still are in clear violation of criminal law.

We must now demand that it provide due protection for him to resume his functions. Even those who publicly endorse the fatwa against Rushdie are guilty of murderous incitement. If, after December 4, 1992, the anti-Mushir lobby in Jamia have spoken of minority rights on a single instance (which I am sure they did on December 6), they will have transgressed their own communal logic. For they will have admitted that a sense of virtue and non-violent conduct among non-Muslims is the only stable basis for the safety of the minorities, and that therefore their monolithic doctrines are not the only fount of virtue.

The same points may be made differently to highlight the pitfalls of philosophical absolutism. Is it reasonable that those who practice spiritual apartheid (by harping on communal internality), should demand or expect social and political equality? Is it fair that persons or groups who disdain democracy as a value should take advantage of it to undermine its scope and content? Anyone who believes himself to be in possession of the Absolute Truth (which comes in various pigments), is walking in the footsteps of the Inquisition.

With the judgement over talaq, we will hear a new outcry about Muslim (read Muslim men’s) rights. I hope that the self-appointed defenders of Islam restrain their verbal and physical expressions in the coming weeks. There are many citizens, Muslim and non-Muslim (and I count myself among them), who will support the liberation of Muslim women from the conservative straitjacket. Mr. Islam might pray for our eternal damnation. I shall still defend his civil liberties against the designs of the saffron brigade. But he may not commit, or instigate, violence against us. In such an even, democrats will have to ask for the strictest possible action under the law to restrain him and his kind. Insh’allah, matters will not come to such a pass.

see also

The Broken Middle (on the 30th anniversary of 1984)

Friday, 24 February 2017

How Trump Gets Away With Corruption By Jonathan Chait

One of the flaws in the design of the federal government is that, while the founders envisioned competing branches of government, unified party control of government can turn those branches into partners who do not check each other’s abuses. A second flaw is that Congress has a diffuse and often-confusing decision-making process that can make public accountability extremely difficult. Both problems come together in a new story that ought to be huge news but will instead be relegated to legislative arcana.

Here is the story. The House of Representatives has refused to investigate either one of the two massive ongoing legal and ethical violations involving the Trump administration: President Trump’s opaque ties (financial and otherwise) to Russia, and his ongoing self-enrichment in office and violations of the Constitution’s Emoluments Clause.

If the House won’t investigate, what happens next? Well, the next-best course of action would be some form of public debate on the matter. This is not nearly as good as a real investigation, since the absence of subpoena power means Republicans can simply deny Trump has done anything wrong while blocking any efforts to acquire the evidence that would prove the case. But at least it’s something. That’s why House Democrats introduced a “resolution of inquiry” that would force House action on these issues.

Today, Politico reports the House’s response: It will divert the resolution to the House Judiciary Committee, which will (almost certainly) vote on Tuesday along party lines to kill the inquiry. It will be a minor story that probably receives scant or nonexistent coverage from television news, and then it will be quickly over. To be sure, coverage of Trump’s scandals will surely continue. But coverage of the House role in permitting Trump’s behavior will be extremely minimal.

The problem — which is a long-standing one and has protected both parties over the decades — is that the chain of responsibility is too long and obscure to have any bearing on the average voter. The average House Republican votes for the party leadership, which then allocates decisions like this to individual committees, which can be stacked with partisan loyalists from safe districts. (Of course, the overwhelming majority of House members come from safe districts that insulate them from accountability — another longstanding flaw in the system.).. read more:

“Home” Does Not Equal “Citizenship” By Sara Shneiderman

Where is home? For any of us? What does it mean to belong?
Since the executive order on immigration was signed, I’ve been haunted by a photograph taken by my great uncle David Seymour “Chim” in a Warsaw orphanage in 1948. In it, Tereszka, a displaced child, draws a picture of “home.”  Tereszka’s eyes have been with me since I can remember, a reminder of the lucky circumstances of history that enabled my grandparents to build a new home in the US after arriving as Jewish refugees from Poland via France in 1940. Today her eyes bear a new incredulity.

Conversations with diverse friends and students since the executive order on immigration was signed have revealed that our collective sense of home is shaken. Our individual reckoning with this unsettling historical moment may differ depending upon our personal constellation of citizenship and residence documentation (or lack thereof), religious affiliation, physical appearance and geo-social location. But Tereszka’s photo should remind us all how quickly lives may be unraveled through violence, war, displacement, and policies such as the travel ban.

In theory, the logic of the executive order is predicated on the fiction that people feel at home within the boundaries of the nation-state in which they hold the documentary trappings of citizenship, and therefore have the option to simply stay or return there. In practice, despite its temporary judicial suspension, the order’s implementation at various border points clarifies in real, human terms that whether by blood or descent, our ties to the nation-state that issues our citizenship documents (or refuses to do so) do not necessarily determine where we feel most at home. This disjuncture between what we might call the documentary and affective dimensions of citizenship is a focus of my anthropological research in South Asia, and the Himalayas, as well as part of my family history and life trajectory. As a second-generation Jewish American, I am now resident in Canada on the unceded territories of the Musqueam people. The home that I make for my children here is premised on the colonial usurpation of others’ traditional territories and homes, violence not unlike the historical and contemporary aggressions elsewhere that have compelled so many to seek refuge in the US.

The travel ban prevents people fleeing such oppression from finding new homes, as well as those who have made their home for years in the US from returning to it. For me, the executive order feels like a betrayal of “home”, the place where my forbears found refuge. I say this from a position of privilege as a white permanent resident of Canada, but the emotional loss of the country that my grandparents and parents believed in is real.

The executive order was signed on Holocaust Remembrance Day. The president’s statement on that occasion excluded Jews, and was hailed by white supremacist leaders as a necessary “de-judaification” of history. The objective seems evident: to erase the history of past forms of exclusion and violence in order to facilitate new ones, as Holocaust historian Timothy Snyder explained in a recent interview. By the end of January 2017, 48 Jewish centers in the US had received bomb threats. These threats are not only a “Jewish issue”, just as the travel ban is not only a “Muslim issue”. While recognizing the specific pain of those directly affected in each case, we need to address these issues systemically, as part of a whole.

Those once oppressed may also become oppressors, victims can become perpetrators. Recognizing this is another way of countering attempts to reduce all members of any group to a singular stereotype or ideological position. This means challenging Israel’s politics of occupation, settlement and wall-building at the same time that we work to remember the Holocaust. The US administration has directly cited the Israeli experience as evidence that “the wall works”, and is reportedly seeking Israeli advice on building the US/Mexico wall . These confluences indicate the need for careful attention to situated histories and the granular questions of how specific exclusions are produced—who the agents are and what motivates them—to complement large-scale political resistance. Connecting the dots between micro and macro, across space and time, is one of the roles for anthropology and other critical social sciences in this moment. There is a pressing need to recognize oppression and exclusion in both particular and universal forms. We must share stories beyond our own communities, but in ways that can be grasped by others who know little of our own pasts.

The travel ban strips us all of the agency to build our own senses of home. Instead, it over-identifies all citizens with their putative state, rather than recognizing that many people are at odds with the states in which they were born or hold citizenship. Many of those seeking entry to the US now do so on humanitarian grounds, just like those of earlier generations. My grandparents could no more remain in Poland than Syrian refugees today have the option to stay at home. Documentary citizenship from the nation-state which claims the territory in which they were born offers no relief.

In other cases, such as for the over 4 million stateless people in Nepal, the problem of being citizenshipless is not a product of displacement, but rather of birth within the territorial boundaries of a state that will not acknowledge entire categories of people as its legitimate citizens due to their ethnic identity or family history. And yet there is no other place to which they belong. The larger problem, then, is the Westphalian nation-state system and its presumption of a direct correlation between territorial location and a singular citizenship for each of us. By the same token, as Audra Simpson powerfully explains in Mohawk Interruptus, American citizenship—like that of many contemporary nation-states—is premised upon the disavowal of indigenous sovereignties, and is therefore a site of refusal for many. For such reasons, the historical accident of my own US citizenship feels both fortunate and perpetually fraught.

It is ironic that corporations (including universities) idealize the so-called “global citizen” when s/he begins as a citizen of a handful of states in the Global North and travels elsewhere to proselytize the virtues of capitalism, democracy or “development.” Yet these organizations reject this concept when the direction of movement is reversed. Many universities have released strong statements condemning the travel ban; we should also urge them to rethink the notion of “global citizenship” that undergirds many of their initiatives. We are not all immigrants, we are not all global citizens, but we are all human. We all deserve to make our homes in peace, while never forgetting the specific historical circumstances that have delivered us here, often destroying other homes along the way.
We must ask ourselves:  What historical circumstances have enabled each of us to make our home, wherever we are? How do we make it a just and inclusive home now? How can we help others find home in difficult times? Tereszka’s eyes demand nothing less.

Thursday, 23 February 2017

State protected hooliganism in Ramjas College

NB: The violent attack upon a completely peaceful seminar at Ramjas College is unprecedented, not for the behaviour of the RSS affiliated student body, which is to be expected, given their long-standing attraction to violence and intimidation. It is unprecedented for the shameless impunity afforded them by the police, who allowed peaceful people to be assaulted with stones, a lady lecturer attacked and held under gherao for nearly 5 hours, with a chair being hurled at her, and numerous students and journalists manhandled, assaulted and abused. The police is duty bound and empowered to take action, including arrest, in the case of cognisable offences such as rioting and causing injury. They could have acted on the spot, instead of which they allowed the criminal activity to go on for hours, treating the miscreants smilingly like mischievous children.

I Am A Professor. This Is How I Was Beaten Up At Ramjas

A detailed account of the events is being prepared by the teachers, which I will post when available. I am posting an immediate reaction by a senior Ramjas student who was eyewitness to the events (see below). But the basic point is that there was no, repeat no, provocation by the participants of the seminar. They were merely speaking or listening. How can a Union Government minister talk of this college becoming an anti-India hub? Has he investigated what slogans were raised? This is an utterly irresponsible statement and shows the tendency of high officials of this government to justify violence in the name of their version of nationalism. Is it their job to encourage hooliganism? Did they see the agenda of the seminar and know in advance what was going to be said and discussed?

BJP Leader's Kin Among 11 Arrested For Running ISI Spy Ring In M P

The ABVP today is not what it was some decades ago. When I was a teacher at Ramjas (1974-94) I remember ABVP boys attending my classes in Soviet history - perhaps they thought they would get a non-propagandist view of a heavily ideologised  past. I am also reminded of an seminar in early 1988 on the Tamas serial at which they invited me to speak. I did not do so, but my friend Purushottam Agrawal did speak, that too in the company of the East Delhi BJP MP and student leaders of the ABVP. He gave a stirring rebuttal of their objections to the serial, but was respectfully listened to. Today he would be assaulted for what he said. Thereafter, in the face of many threats, we organised a meeting on Tamas in Ramjas, the story of which may be read here.

At the very least the ABVP boys those days showed a basic respect for their teachers. I can also say that during the course of the Ramjas struggle (1981-83) over the victimisation of Sita Ram Mali by the college administration, many of them changed their values spontaneously, without any prompting from us. I have never propagated any ideology to my students, aside from the value I place upon ahimsa and a respect for human life. Today's ABVP has discarded the most basic values of respect for their teachers, some of whom are being abused and targeted by name. Is it part of Indian culture to assault and abuse your teachers, including lady teachers, all the while shouting Bharat Mata  ki jai? This is no longer the Bhartiya Janta Party, it is Modi's Janta Party. May God help Bharat.

Persons with objectionable ideas have the right to speak, whether or not we like those ideas. Under no circumstance should they be liable to violent assault. If people do not like certain ideas they are at liberty to question and even condemn the speakers. Under what law are they permitted to violently attack speakers and members of the audience? Is there some law under which you can commit violent crime by saying you are 'nationalists'? Is your so-called patriotism a permit to violate the law? The Sanghi's were infuriated that students protested against this disruption by taking out a peaceful rally inside the campus. The rally also called for freedom ('azaadi') of speech and assembly  - which slogan was deliberately misinterpreted as referring to secessionism. Now doctored videos are being circulated. The very use of the Hindi word for freedom has now been criminalised. Is the entire country and the use of language to be policed by the RSS? Will the Home Minister and the Delhi Police Commissioner kindly give us a dictionary of words and phrases acceptable to His Highness The Sarsangchaalak?

How can police officers stand by and treat rioters with kid gloves while peaceful citizens are being assaulted? Are they the hirelings of the Sangh Parivar? Did they take an oath of office in the name of the Indian Constitution or to the government of the day? Every moment that a police official looks the other way when a criminal act takes place before his or her eyes contains the germ of fascist tyranny. This is what happened in Ramjas College. I witnessed some of it on Tuesday February 21, when I was due to speak (at 3 pm) on the theme of the civic response to the massacre of 1984. I could not deliver my lecture because rioting was in full swing when I arrived on the campus. I have seen this kind of scenario many times when I was a Ramjas teacher. Stones were being thrown, glass shattered, abuses hurled. None of these activities could have taken place without instructions from the higher political controllers of the Sangh. Their activists are assured of soft handling - they know they can indulge in criminal activity and get away with it. These are crimes against the law, and in a broader sense they signify an assault on our minds by activists of a totalitarian project. These persons wish to enforce their beliefs upon us, and to use political power as a cover for violent activity. It is our duty as citizens to protect our constitutional rights. More such attacks are to be expected unless we protest vigorously. We all belong to Ramjas. DS

This is a citation from a book on Nazism written in the 1930’s: Behemoth, The Structure and Practice of National Socialism; by Franz Neumann. (republished 1963, p 27). A pdf file may be read here: <http://www.unz.org/Pub/NeumannFranz-1942-00027> DS. 
(The counter revolution) ‘…tried many forms and devices, but soon learned that it could come to power only with the help of the state machine and never against it… the Kapp Putsch of 1920 and the Hitler Pustch of 1923 had proved this.. In the centre of the counter revolution stood the judiciary. Unlike administrative acts, which rest on considerations of convenience and expediency, judicial decisions rest on law, that is on right and wrong, and they always enjoy the limelight of publicity. 
Law is perhaps the most pernicious of all weapons in political struggles, precisely because of the halo that surrounds the concepts of right and justice… 

‘Right’, Hocking has said, ‘is psychologically a claim whose infringement is met with a resentment deeper than the injury would satisfy, a resentment that may amount to passion for which men will risk life and property as they would never do for an expediency’. When it becomes ‘political’, justice breeds hatred and despair among those it singles out for attack. Those whom it favours, on the other hand, develop a profound contempt for the very value of justice, they know that it can be purchased by the powerful. As a device for strengthening one political group at the expense of others, for eliminating enemies and assisting political allies, law then threatens the fundamental convictions upon which the tradition of our civilization rests…

Here are some posts relevant to violent censorship in Ramjas and elsewhere:
A letter by a Ramjas student to a teacher: Date: Thursday, February 23, 2017, 10:07 AM 
I have not been able to sleep at night... The incidents, the violent scenes in the college were on a loop in my mind. They have all videographed us and hv given us rape threats and acid attack threats. They are constantly trying to instill fear in us... But we will not back down! We'll be out on the streets... protesting today as well...amidst their violence..their abuses..their threats! We won't let this fire to die down. The beauty of this movement of resistance by Ramjas was that neutral students who dont associate with any student organization or political ideology ave also joined in numbers against the ABVP hooliganism. And they were able to rationally engage with what was going around in the campus. And they were with us...And they became "US".. And it was not a left vs right struggle...as was out in the media.. It was Ramjas against ABVP goondaism. It was silence doing it's magic against violence.  We were peacefully sitting near canteen...fearful of the uncertainty looming around...
Questions of what next and who next...terrified us...traumatised us....as we saw friends getting beaten up...thrashed and manhandled by ABVP goondas..Our silence was hurting them...Our songs of resistance were pricking them.. They came up with the national flag...and hurled abuses...Chanted Bharat Mata ki Jai. We were silent. Although we were numerically less...Our silent mode of protest affected them so badly that they sporadically attacked us from different sides...trying to batter our strength. Although it was disappointing for a lot of us to silently sit there while they provoked us and we couldn't hit them back... But still from the way we've carried out our protest yesterday..I've  realized that sometimes silence works wonders! And it hit them at the right spot. As we were struggling inside ...Our friends outside the gate were carrying out the protest that we were not allowed to carry out... They were beaten up... But they didn't back down! We will not back down...The social media is flooded with their violence...first hand accounts of what happened. We are brutally exposing abvp...And will continue to do so. And hopefully this is the beginning of something DU has never seen or felt before! 

Some relevant news reports:
'They Tried To Strangle Me With My Muffler': A Day After, Shock And Anger At Ramjas College  All of last evening there was shock and anger surrounding a particular image that social media users kept sharing - that of Delhi University professor Prasanta Chakravarty, half-lying on the ground, dazed and disoriented, his shirt torn, and a patch of dirt on his face, as mayhem continued all around him on the campus of Ramjas college in the northern part of the national capital. An attempt was allegedly made by suspected members of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) to strangle Chakravarty with his own muffler. He was attacked from behind, pushed to the ground, kicked and beaten up.

Dear Amit Shah, rein in ABVP and act on your promise to set ‘gundas’ right

Ramjas College Violence: Delhi Police Assures Protesting Students A Fair Probe

Ramjas clashes: Delhi Police admits ‘mistakes’, transfers case to crime branch A day after students clashed in Delhi University’s North Campus, the Delhi Police transferred the case to the Crime Branch and admitted that the incident could have been handled better. The move to transfer the case followed a joint protest by students of All India Students Association (AISA) from DU and Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) at the police headquarters at ITO, seeking action against members of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) for the violence on Tuesday.

Also see
Love at Work: Mahatma Gandhi's Last Struggle 

What is to be Undone
The law of killing - a brief history of Indian fascism
The emperor's masks: 'apolitical' RSS calls the shots in Modi sarkar
The Supreme Court, Gandhi and the RSS

Monday, 20 February 2017

Ulson Gunnar - How a Real War on Terrorism Would Look and Why the US Isn’t Fighting One

February 19, 2017 "Information Clearing House" - Since 2001, when then US President George Bush announced his “War on Terror,” presidents and politicians both in the United States and among America’s allies, have repeated this phrase and have done their utmost to convince the public that indeed, the West was fighting a “War on Terror.”

Yet there is something disturbingly ambiguous about what exactly the “War on Terror” consists of, who it’s being waged against and how it could ever possibly be brought to a successful conclusion.
It is also often referred to as the “Long War,” and for good reason. America’s ongoing occupation of Afghanistan is the longest armed conflict in US history. Additionally, US troops still find themselves in Iraq, some 14 years after the initial invasion and occupation of the state in 2003.
Because of the ambiguous nature of the “War on Terror,” politicians have been given much room to maneuver their rhetoric, explaining why more wars must be waged, more liberties curtailed at home and more wealth and power channeled into fewer and fewer hands.

What’s Really Behind Terrorism? 
The fanatics, weapons, supplies, vehicles and finances that grease the wheels of global terror do not merely spring forth from the pages of the Qu’ran, as bigots across the West insist. Just like any national army, the army raised and wielded in the name of terrorism has several basic components. Examining these components reveals a very uncomfortable but somewhat poorly hidden truth.

In reality, fanatics must be indoctrinated. And they are, in Saudi-funded madras and mosque networks wrapping around the globe. In the United States and across Europe, these madrases and mosques often serve as both indoctrination centers and recruiting stations. They operate as such with the explicit knowledge, even cooperation of US and European security and intelligence agencies.

One such center can be found in Denmark at Grimhøjvej Mosque in Aarhus which openly serves as a recruiting station for militants meant to fight abroad in US-European backed wars in Libya, Syria, Iraq and Yemen. The government of Denmark openly collaborates with the mosque to integrate these individuals back into Danish society when they return.

The mosque in Aarhus is hardly an isolated example. Such mosques backed and protected by US-European-Saudi money and political influence dot the globe, feeding recruits into a global mercenary army carrying out proxy war and staging terrorist attacks whenever and wherever politically convenient. Both Wikileaks and even the US’ own Defense Intelligence Agency has released documents exposing the role both the West and Gulf states such as Saudi Arabia and Qatar have played in the arming and funding of actual militants once they reach the battlefield.

Additionally, militants that have been indoctrinated, trained, armed, funded and battle-hardened by Western and Gulf sponsorship, return back to their respective nations where they are then cultivated for domestic operations. Terror attacks like those in Paris and BrusselsBerlin and elsewhere are carried out almost exclusively by militants US-European security and intelligence agencies have known about and even arrested but inexplicably released, allowing them to carry out their attacks.

What a Real War on Terrorism Requires
It is often said that states like Russia, Syria and Iran exist as natural allies to the United States and Europe in the fight against terrorism. And that would be true if not for the fact that said terrorism is actually a deliberate product of US-European foreign policy. Were the West to truly wage a war on terrorism, it would already be deeply cooperating with these  nations on the front line against groups like Al Qaeda and the self-proclaimed Islamic State.

However, terrorism is waged as a means of fighting the West’s proxy wars abroad, and to create divisive, paralyzing hatred, fear and hysteria at home. Travel bans are created to intentionally stoke controversy and distract the public from the aforementioned reality driving  terrorism. As is evident in virtually all terror attacks carried out across the West, suspects are already know to security and intelligence agencies beforehand. These agencies simply need to stop them. Instead, they allow the attacks to take place, granting their respective governments political capital to channel more power into centralized hands.

While the US and Europe use terrorism as a function of foreign policy, they could not do it without their intermediaries in the Persian Gulf. Without the Saudis and Qataris serving as “handlers” for the West’s terrorist legions, it is unlikely such legions could be raised to begin with. Targeting, rather than embracing, even protecting these state sponsors of all aspects of terrorism, from indoctrination and recruitment, to training, arming and financing terrorism on the battlefield, would be another essential step in a real “War on Terror.”

Yet from President Bush to President Obama and now during the administration of US President Donald Trump, the US and its European allies continue to coddle the regimes in Riyadh and Doha, rather than taking any measures whatsoever to disrupt this terror pipeline. While the US remains in Afghanistan allegedly to “fight terrorism,” it refuses to take even the most basic steps to dismantle the ideological, political and financial structures in the Persian Gulf fueling that terrorism.

A final means of combating and defeating “terrorism” would be to educate the public of just how small a minority is actually involved in it, isolating those groups exploiting and perverting ideologies from the vast majority who practice these ideologies constructively.

Instead, US and European demagogues work ceaselessly to lump all of Islam into the “terror” basket, creating tension and hostility on both sides of an essentially manufactured strategy of tension. Instead of draining emotional and political resources from those seeking to recruit disillusioned individuals, the West is ensuring them an endless supply.

A real “War on Terror” is clearly not being waged. Nothing presented by President Trump before or after his campaign victory in 2016 indicates a real war is about to be waged. In fact, much of what has been done thus far, has simply been the placing of additional bricks on a very predictable path toward the infinite horizon of this “Long War.”

see also