Showing posts from September, 2017

Living under house arrest, I'm losing hope in democracy and free speech, says Kancha Ilaiah

Social scientist   Kancha Ilaiah Shepherd   has been facing heat from the  arya vysyas , who have taken offence at his analysis of the community as 'social smugglers'. After reprints of his book were circulated, a TDP politician called for Ilaiah to be hanged, effigies of him were burnt, protesters have urinated on his photograph, and he has been threatened on the streets.  The state, he says, has not offered any protection. In an interview to Amulya Gopalakrishnan, he explains his position Could you explain what you meant by 'social smuggling'? How does caste interact with  economic exploitation ? The notion of social smuggling, which I coined in my book Post-Hindu India, is meant to capture the idea of cultural and economic exploitation. From the post-Gupta period onwards, one caste controlled business. The banias or vysyas alone had that right, as per the Manusmriti, and as decreed by the Gupta rulers. Smuggling is a process of illegally taking away goods and co

Saeed Kamali Dehghan - 'Is it art or pain?' Iran's Parastou Forouhar on family, death and the failed revolution

Every autumn, the Iranian artist Parastou Forouhar returns to Tehran from Germany to hold a memorial service for her murdered parents.  Dariush Forouhar, a secular politician, and his wife, Parvaneh, were two of Iran’s most high-profile political activists when they were stabbed to death in their home on 22 November 1998. The killers placed her father’s body in a chair facing towards the Qibla, the direction of Mecca. “I called a close friend of my parents in Paris and he was crying,” Forouhar says. “I thought, it mustn’t be just an arrest. We were used to [arrests]. I said, is Dad killed? He said, it’s not just your dad.” Work by Parastou Forouhar. Photograph: Courtesy of the artist Every year since, Parastou has gathered with close relatives to light a candle and pay tribute to her parents’ secular democratic values. The public are routinely blocked from attending by security officials. “They won’t let people in for the ceremony [but] it gets media coverage and it beco

Jamie Bartless - Return of the city-state

Nation-states came late to history, and there’s plenty of evidence to suggest they won’t make it to the end of the century f you’d been born 1,500 years ago in southern Europe, you’d have been convinced that the Roman empire would last forever. It had, after all, been around for 1,000 years. And yet, following a period of economic and military decline, it fell apart. By 476 CE it was gone. To the people living under the mighty empire, these events must have been unthinkable. Just as they must have been for those living through the collapse of the Pharaoh’s rule or Christendom or the Ancien Régime. We are just as deluded that our model of living in ‘countries’ is inevitable and eternal. Yes, there are dictatorships and democracies, but the whole world is made up of nation-states. This means a blend of ‘nation’ (people with common attributes and characteristics) and ‘state’ (an organised political system with sovereignty over a defined space, with borders agreed by other nation-st

South Africa: How Gupta-linked firm scored big by connecting officials and consultants. By Susan Comrie | amaBhungane

Bianca Goodson, the former chief executive of a Gupta-linked consulting firm, has broken her silence 18 months after resigning in dismay.  She has released a detailed statement and 65 annexures, charging that her former firm, Trillian Management Consulting, facilitated access to decision makers for consulting multinationals McKinsey and Oliver Wyman.  In return for this political capital, she states, Trillian was to get up to half the fees in lucrative consulting contracts with state entities. Goodson initially started preparing her statement for the expected parliamentary inquiry into state capture, but after repeated delays decided to make it public via the  Platform for the Protection of Whistleblowers in Africa  (Pplaaf). It is telling that Bianca Goodson’s whistleblower statement starts with the title, “My introduction to; and exit from Trillian”. The former Anglo American manager spent just five months working for the controversial consulting firm. On March 19, 2016, she

Gary Younge - Remember this about Donald Trump. He knows the depths of American bigotry

Two Sundays ago, after a night of tense confrontations,  police in St Louis trooped through the city  chanting: “Whose streets? Our streets.” They were mocking marchers  protesting at the acquittal of a former police officer , who had fatally shot a black man after a high-speed pursuit. This in the city just a few miles away from Ferguson, where  Michael Brown was shot dead  in the middle of the day in 2014. Then last Friday, Donald Trump went to Alabama and branded NFL players who have been expressing their support for Black Lives Matter by kneeling during the pre-game national anthem, “ sons of bitches ”. To cheers from the crowd, he said: “Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. He is fired. He’s fired! … Total disrespect of our heritage, a total disrespect of everything that we stand for. Everything that we stand for.” This in the state that  kept its local ban on interracia

Journalist gets threat for criticising a Modi Govt scheme. Is reminded of Gauri Lankesh's fate

Journalist threatened for criticising a Modi Govt scheme. Is reminded of Gauri Lankesh's fate NB : Since the message was received with a phone number, it should be easy for the police to identify the source. If the Sangh Parivar is being slandered by false information, they should be at the forefront of efforts to catch the culprits. DS Times of India Takes Down a Story the BJP Finds Embarrassing, Again On 17 September 2017 a Jaipur-based reporter for The Times of India who had written a  report  Crop insurance: Farmers taken for a ‘premium’ ride, critiquing Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojna  -  a scheme launched by Prime Minister Modi, received a WhatsApp message stating that people who would dare to write against Prime Minister Narendra Modi or the RSS would not be spared. The threatening message was an image with text written in Hindi gives the example of journalist Gauri Lankesh’s murder, saying a similar fate awaited anyone who wrote against the RSS or Prime Minister Na

Sonali Kokra - BHU's Sordid History Of Sexual Violence // BHU VC's Reaction To Sexual Assault Follows India's Time-Tested Formula Of 'Bharatiya Sanskaar'

Shutting down the university by prolonging Dussehra holidays might offer some immediate respite to the powers that be at Banaras Hindu University (BHU), in the immediate aftermath of the  student unrest, angry protests and violence that broke out on campus  after a brazen incident of sexual harass-ment came to light on Thursday, 21 September. It is unlikely to make the matter go away. As details about the incident emerge, it is becoming increasingly clear that the students' outrage is not over one isolated incident — anger has been simmering in them for a long time over the pitiable state of security measures to ensure women's safety on the campus and the blasé attitude with which past cases have been dealt with. Hostel Rules Of Indian Colleges - Gross Misogyny In Action Qandeel Baloch is dead because we hate women who don't conform A Rapist Culture  - read for the 2012 agitation; and V.D.  Savarkar's advocacy of punitive rape in Six Glorious Epochs of Indian

MANINI CHATTERJEE - Manufacturing an icon: The Deendayal Upadhyaya blitzkrieg

For the RSS, Nehru is a bigger hate figure than anyone else because he was not just a person but an embodiment of ideals -secular, socialist, democratic- that it abhors… to pit Deendayal Upadhyaya against Jawaharlal Nehru is a travesty of both history and common sense. Upadhyaya may have been a committed RSS pracharak and central to setting up and expanding the Jana Sangh, but his contribution to nation building was, to put it politely, limited. Those who call him a "visionary" cite his advocacy of antyodaya and his doctrine of 'integral humanism' as proof. It is a testament to the RSS's skills at fabricating myths that antyodaya - a concept championed by Mahatma Gandhi who acknowledged the influence of John Ruskin's  Unto This Last  behind it - is now being attributed to Upadhyaya. Manufacturing an icon: The Deendayal Upadhyaya blitzkrieg The people of Assam deserve our congratulations for calling out a truth that many others are too meek to utter. A n

BHU Alumnus Join Student's of BHU Protesting at Jantar Mantar on 26th September, at 4:30 pm

Former Presidents of BHU Students Union; and Alumnus Join Student's Protest at Jantar Mantar on 26th September, at 4:30 pm Call for joint action led and called by the BHU Alumnus along with students of Banaras Hindu University (BHU) at Jantar Mantar on 26th of September (Tuesday) at 4:30 pm. The students will be reaching Delhi on Tuesday morning and will be present at Jantar Mantar to continue their protest against police atrocities, violation of fundamental rights of women students, gender-based discrimination and violence against women.  Please join us at Jantar Mantar on 26th at 4:30 pm. We also urge you to spread the word and request others to join.  Prof. Anand Kumar Dr. Anand Pradhan Shri Mohan Prakash & Joint Action Committee and students of BHU.  Students Injured As Police Lathicharge During Late Night Clashes At Banaras Hindu University // BHU Students Petition to Prime Minister Seamus Heaney’s Advice to the Young. BY MARIA POP

ANUJ SRIVAS - Hindustan Times Editor’s Exit Preceded by Meeting Between Modi, Newspaper Owner

'The Government is committed to the freedom of the Press':  DG, Press Information Bureau NB : That's good to hear! I suppose the reports below are false? Products of inebriated minds? DS Over the past year, a number of instances have emerged highlighting  the inappropriate relationship between editors in organisations like the  Times of India  and  Dainik Jagran  and the ruling party and /or government officials. Stories deemed embarrassing to the BJP have been taken down with no explanation offered  to readers. An op-ed article critical of the government’s handling of China was  taken down from HT’s website in July 2017  - criticism on social media led to it being restored. Journalist gets threat for criticising a Modi Govt scheme. I s reminded of Gauri Lankesh's fate Corporate censorship pressure pushes EPW Editor out of his job Reports on the Adanis Sandeep Bhushan - Modi, Media and Money New Delhi:  Hindustan Times (HT) proprietor Shobhana Bhartia

China’s dystopian push to revolutionize surveillance. By Maya Wang

The Washington Post China’s dystopian push to revolutionize surveillance. By Maya Wang. August 18, 2017 As part of a new multimillion-dollar project in Xinjiang, the Chinese government is attempting to “build a fortress city with technologies.” If this sounds Orwellian, that’s because it is. According to the Sina online news portal, the project is supposed to strengthen the authorities’ hands against unexpected social unrest. Using “big data” from various sources, including the railway system and visitors’ systems in private residential compounds, its ultimate aim is to “predict … individuals and vehicles posing heightened risks” to public safety. And this isn’t the only project in China that aims to expand surveillance while denying people privacy rights. Across the country, local governments are spending billions of dollars implementing sophisticated technological systems for mass surveillance. The consequences for human rights are ominous. Beijing’s impulse to surveil is

Pakistani MP who says Imran Khan harassed her faces wave of abuse

When the Pakistani politician Ayesha Gulalai Wazir accused the cricket-star-turned-opposition-leader  Imran Khan  of sexual harassment, the vitriol unleashed against her was swift and vicious. First, leaders of Khan’s  Pakistan  Tehreek-e Insaf (PTI) party – which Gulalai also belongs to – publicly denounced her and demanded 30 million rupees (£218,000) in compensation for damage to his reputation and “mental torture”. Then came the trolls. On social media, some said Gulalai, 31, should have acid thrown in her face, others  that she should be whipped . She was called a liar and a carpetbagger. Mocking TV hosts asked, smirking, if she actually wanted to marry the man she accused. Gulalai says the political backlash is evidence of the abuse reserved for Pakistani women who venture to speak out publicly against harassment – abuse that increasingly takes place online. Qandeel Baloch is dead because we hate women who don't conform A Rapist Culture Videos:  Scenes of police

Pakistan: Deradicalising Our Universities - by Pervez Hoodbhoy

Dawn, September 23, 2017 Last week’s exposure of a terrorist hive inside Karachi University (KU) prompted a remediation proposal by the chairman of the Higher Education Commission. His solution: if parents "switch off TV and internet early at night and send children off to bed", university students could be shunted away from terrorism. (The reference to adult students as bachas [children] is not unusual-university-going adults are generally considered kids incapable of independent thought.) If flippant, this proposal trivialises terrorism. But if meant seriously, one fears for the future. HEC’s current counterterrorism strategy is to establish a "directorate of students" within universities so that challenges faced by "students and staff would be registered, analysed and resolved". Extracurricular activities-football and cricket chiefly-will supposedly keep students away from guns and bombs. Should one laugh or cry? Down the chain of command i

Arthur Koestler - A quintessentially twentieth-century life. By Daniel Gascon and Michael Scammell

Born in Hungary before becoming a communist in Germany, then a French Foreign Legionnaire, then a wartime propagandist for the British government – but, above all, a writer and thinker –  Arthur Koestler was one of the most intriguing intellectuals of the twentieth century. Michael Scammell, the author of his official biography, 'Koestler, The Indispensable Intellectual', spoke to Eurozine partner journal Letras Libres about Koestler’s life. [Daniel Gascón:] You have said that there was a yearning for utopia in Koestler and other writers. What does he have in common with other twentieth-century writers, and what makes him special? [Michael Scammell:] What Koestler had in common with so many writers of his era (and what distinguishes him and them from our present generation) was hope. No matter how disillusioned they became with the societies in which they lived, or disappointed by their failures, both personal, social and political, they retained what looks to us now li

Joseph Conrad and the East. By DOUGLAS KERR

One of the most acute chroniclers and critics of the 19th-century European empires of the East was neither a historian nor a political scientist, but a Polish mariner. Douglas Kerr examines how Joseph Conrad mastered the narratives of empire in a language that was not his own. Before he ever left home, Joseph Conrad knew what powerful nations and material interests could do to weaker peoples. Born Józef Teodor Konrad Nałęcz Korzeniowski, in Berdychiv in modern-day Ukraine in 1857, he belonged to a nation, Poland, which was no longer to be found on the map. His father Apollo, a writer and prominent Polish nationalist, was arrested and exiled with his family for anti-Russian conspiracy when his son was four years old. This was Conrad’s first lesson in the power of empires and the cost of idealism. Life was difficult and by the time he was 11, both his parents were dead. Conrad never forgave imperial Russia: ‘from the very inception of her being’, he was to write in 1905, ‘the brutal

The tide is starting to turn against the world’s digital giants. By John Naughton

In his wonderful book  The Swerve: How the Renaissance Began , the literary historian Stephen Greenblatt  traces the origins of the Renaissance  back to the rediscovery of a 2,000-year-old poem by Lucretius, De Rerum Natura (On the Nature of Things). The book is a riveting explanation of how a huge cultural shift can ultimately spring from faint stirrings in the undergrowth. Margrethe Vestager, the Dane Who Is Google's Bane   Professor Greenblatt is probably not interested in the giant corporations that now dominate our world, but I am, and in the spirit of  The Swerve  I’ve been looking for signs that big changes might be on the way. You don’t have to dig very deep to find them. Some are pretty obvious. In 2014, for example, the European Court of Justice decided that EU citizens had the so-called  “right to be forgotten”  and that Google would have to comply if it wanted to continue to do business in Europe. In May this year, the European commission  fined Facebook €110m  f

Students Injured As Police Lathicharge During Late Night Clashes At Banaras Hindu University // BHU Students Petition to Prime Minister

NB : The demands of the students are genuine and need to be attended to, not merely in BHU but in all campuses. But all the authorities are concerned about is their 'image' and that of the Prime Minister. Not only have protesting students been beaten up and injured, the authorities have now dubbed the protest the work of ' anti-national forces '. We should not be surprised - this is the stock response of the RSS/BJP to any criticism whatsoever. Whoever doesn't sing the praises of the Sangh Parivar and its government is anti-national. What is alarming is the extent to which university authorities, who are supposed to be autonomous and in charge of higher education, are rapidly transforming themselves into hatchet-men and censors for the ruling party. There have been repeated instances of this censorship - the last being a ban on a discussion of the Indian Constitution in Allahabad University . Meanwhile the atmosphere is full of intimidation and threat caused by th

Harish Khare on the conceits of mofussil minds. The demagogue’s spell is over

A reader is unhappy with the Prime Minister's remarks at the dedication of the Sardar Sarovar Dam on Sunday. The dismayed reader writes a letter to the editor (The Tribune, September 20): "The remark was vitriolic and not in harmony with the celebratory occasion….Prime Minister Narendra Modi, as the head of the largest democracy, should forsake the detestable job of a low-level party hatchet man." For the record, the Prime Minister had menacingly remarked that he had access to the "kacha-chitta" of all those who were opposed to the dam. News reports also noted that the Prime Minister pointedly did not mention Nehru, even though it was Nehru who had laid the dam's foundation stone. Not long ago, there was a time when such cultivated pettiness would have been music to many ears. No longer. Now, it is beginning to jar. There was a time when the country was in need of a catharsis. May 2014 happened. For a while, very many people found themselves dazzled — e

Appeal for Solidarity and Action: Festival on Constitution Blocked: Allahabad University

NB : The Allahabad University  authorities  have acted in a brazen and partisan manner by forcing the cancellation of this event - and there are sugg estions this was done under pressure from the Union Government. According to their logic, discussions on the Indian Constitution may only take place in states where the BJP is not in power. Does that mean the ruling parties in non-BJP ruled states are violating India's statutory law? In which case the Centre should dismiss them and install Presidents Rule. In addition, if the BJP/RSS find it offensive that Indian students should discuss the Constitution in states ruled by them, why not drop the subject from all university and school syllabi as well? India is still a democracy, in case the university authorities need to be reminded of the fact. The RSS/ BJP talk about the Emergency as if they were the heroic defenders of democratic rights. It seems now that they wish to use democracy to deprive us of our right to speak. Should we pre