Showing posts from 2019

Are all of us social conservatives? Can democracy be defended by alliances with communalists?

Organisers of protests against the governments CA Bill and NRC are to be commended for their courage and persistence. But while they have every right to make their choices, I must caution them as to the benefit of allying with communal organisations such as the Jamaat-i-Islami. We cannot defend democracy by allying with anti-democratic political groups, or communalists of any stripe. This has been an old problem with the Indian Left, and nothing good will result. People should study the political philosophy of the Jamaat (and of course, the Jamaat has every right to protest on its own and in alliance with anyone it chooses).  But for those who value democracy and the principles of a secular state, I must say that it is high time they learned to defend democracy on their own, not by making such alliances . In the past too, Indian progressives and communists made alliances with the BJP/RSS - for example during the JP movement of 1974; and in their so-called 'seat-adjustment' fo

Elif Shafak: I used to feel my rage was righteous. But on its own, it can be toxic

anger, when left alone for too long, is highly corrosive. And, most important, it is addictive. It must be diluted and counterbalanced with more powerful, positive feelings: empathy, compassion, kindness, sisterhood and love.  ..  Patriarchy made my blood boil. The fact that you couldn’t walk along the street without being harassed, you couldn’t take a bus without being molested. In those days, a horrific article in the Turkish penal code – article 438 – had started to provoke a massive backlash. It stipulated that punishment for rapists would be reduced if they proved that their victims were prostitutes and not “modest women”. After all, the lawmakers argued, a prostitute would not be affected by rape – physically or psychologically – why would she?  This was in 1990. We students were furious.  Women  of all backgrounds reacted strongly, supporting the rights of sex workers. Something that never happened again in my motherland. It was one of the last gains of the women’s move

Smrutisnat Jena: News Anchor Asked viewers to vote for & against CAA. The Results Were Not As He Expected

On the 25th of December, Zee News anchor, Sudhir Chaudhary, who has been a vocal supporter of the CAA and has condemned the anti-CAA protests, decided to make an online poll asking people if they supported the act or not.  But it did not go as planned.  He posted the exact same poll on Twitter but in the end results were not very different. .. read more: The real tukde-tukde gang Bharat Bhushan: Only a non-violent and secular citizenship protest will succeed India’s Citizenship Emergency: Interview with Professor Niraja Jayal

Andrea Mazzarino, How War Targets the Young

America’s forever wars and their fallout over these last 18 years have been hell for kids. Just  ask Ismail  or any of the other 56 wounded children who survived an August 2018 attack on their school bus in northern Yemen by Saudi planes armed with American weaponry. Of course, you can’t ask the perhaps  40 children  who died, thanks to a single 500-pound laser-guided MK 82 bomb  made by Lockheed Martin . And that was just one example of the way, in these years, war has torn the lives of children apart across the Greater Middle East. Take, for example, Iraqi children in a country remade (more accurately, devastated) by the U.S. invasion of 2003 and everything that followed from it, including the ISIS  takeover  of major Iraqi cities in 2014. By 2016, UNICEF  reported  that “one in every five children in Iraq is at serious risk of death, injury, sexual violence, and recruitment into armed groups.” That was 3.6 million children (a jump of 1.3 million in 18 months). And if you make yo

HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH - India: Deadly Force Used Against Protesters Police Target Anti-Citizenship Law Demonstrators

The  Indian  authorities should cease using unnecessary lethal force against demonstrators protesting a law that discriminates against Muslims, Human Rights Watch said today. Since protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act began on December 12, 2019, at least 25  people have been killed  and hundreds have been arrested. Police have used excessive force only against demonstrators protesting the law, including many students. All the deaths have occurred in states governed by the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP): 18 in  Uttar Pradesh , 5 in  Assam , and 2 in  Karnataka . Most of  those killed have been Muslims , including an 8-year-old boy in Uttar Pradesh. Scores of police officers have been injured. The authorities have also  used a colonial-era law ,  internet shutdowns , and  limits on public transportation  to prevent peaceful anti-citizenship law protests. The police have, however, not interfered with demonstrators supporting the law, including  ruling party leaders  wh

Is Donald Trump the Second 9/11? Or Is He the Third? By Tom Engelhardt

NB : This is an important article -  a reflection by a conscientious American intellectual who lived through the Vietnam years. Here he looks back on the disasters unleashed on the planet by American militarism. Its well worth a careful read. DS Donald Trump essentially hijacked our world. I mean, try to tell me that, in the years since, he hasn’t provided living evidence that the greatest power in human history, the one capable of destroying the planet six different ways, has no brain, no real coordination at all. It’s fogged in by a  mushroom cloud  of largely senseless media coverage and, though still the leading force on the planet, in some rather literal fashion has lost its mind. No wonder it’s almost impossible to tell what we’re actually living through... Here's the question at hand -- and I guarantee you that you’ll read it here first: Is Donald Trump the second or even possibly the third 9/11? Because truly, he has to be one or the other.  Let me explain, and while

Striking photos show a decade of environmental decline along the Ganges

There's a dreamlike quality to Giulio Di Sturco's photograph of Hindus preparing to bathe in the Ganges. Taken in soft morning light, the image shows devotees assembled by the river, their figures artfully reflected in its still, sacred waters. Giulio Di Sturco A closer inspection reveals a bleak reality, however: The riverbank is strewn with trash and, according to the Italian photographer, the golden haze is the result of  toxic air pollution . This contrast between beauty and horror is a recurring theme in Di Sturco's decade-long project to photograph the length of the Ganges and the surrounding basin. What appears, at first glance, to be an iceberg, is revealed to be chemical waste from factories on the Yamuna River, a major tributary of the Ganges; another image shows a cotton candy-covered landscape that is, in fact, coated in industrial byproducts from leather tanneries outside Kolkata.....

Vincent Mundy - 'Mother Nature recovers amazingly fast': reviving Ukraine's rich wetlands

A  battered old military truck and rusting Belarusian tractor are perched on the edge of degraded wetland in the heart of the  Danube Delta Biosphere Reserve . They have been hastily deployed in a desperate attempt to save an excavator from being swallowed by the squelching earth beside the obsolete Soviet dam it is trying to demolish. In the 1970s, 11 earth dams were built on the Sarata and Kogilnik rivers as a crude alternative to footbridges to access the area’s aquifers. Ornithologist Maxim Yakovlev remembers that prior to the construction of the dams, the local rivers slowly meandered through a rich wetland ecosystem which would store, hold back and slowly release water after heavy rains. “Back then, before the dams, when the ecosystem was functioning properly, we had healthier soil and vegetation,” says Yakovlev, as he skirts the edge of a reeking swamp near the tiny, ancient town of Tatarbunary on the northern fringe of the reserve, a 100-mile (160km) drive south-west of Od

Isoko Mochizuki, the 'troublesome' thorn in Shinzo Abe's side. By Justin McCurry

Even Abe’s friends in the media can’t ignore this,” says Isoko Mochizuki over lunch in between interviews and chasing down the day’s most important political story – a scandal involving accusations that Japan’s prime minister, Shinzo Abe, used a taxpayer-funded cherry blossom viewing party to reward political supporters. “I think the prime minister’s office is quite concerned.”  For Mochizuki, a reporter on a left-leaning newspaper covering a conservative government likely to remain in power for some time, sakura-gate is her latest opportunity to make life uncomfortable for Abe and his colleagues. Her combative approach has won her admiration from readers and disdain, bordering on open contempt, from the country’s leadership. It has also earned her a starring role in a recently released film i: Documentary of the Journalist, which follows the Tokyo Shimbun reporter as she travels the length of the country in pursuit of some of the the biggest domestic stories of recent times. Direc

Ian Sample: Scientists attempt to recreate 'Overview effect' from Earth

The spectacle of Earth suspended in space was so overwhelming for Edgar Mitchell that the Apollo 14 astronaut and sixth man on the moon wanted to grab politicians by the scruff of the neck and drag them into space to witness the view. ‘An instant global consciousness’: the Earth viewed from the Apollo 17 mission in 1972. Astronauts have reported an intense feeling upon seeing Earth from space, known as the ‘Overview effect’. Photograph: Getty Image Such drastic measures may not be necessary, however. Scientists are about to welcome the first participants on an unprecedented clinical trial that aims to reproduce the intense emotional experience, known as the “Overview effect”, from the comfort of a health spa. If the trial goes well, what led Mitchell to develop “an instant global consciousness” and a profound connection to Earth and its people could be recreated with nothing more than a flotation tank, a half tonne of Epsom salts, and a waterproof virtual reality (VR) headset.

Jadavpur University students ‘rusticate’ Chancellor

In an open letter, Jadavpur University (JU) students have announced their decision to rusticate West Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar as the university Chancellor. The letter, which was written on Tuesday, also had a report card that described the Governor as “spineless”. The letter was published after the Governor had tried to enter the campus to attend a court meeting on Monday and JU convocation on Tuesday, but faced back-to-back resistance from university students and staff on both the days. In their letter, the students’ body wrote “You (Dhankhar) are being informed of your rustication from the position of Chancellor of Jadavpur University. The students’ body of Jadavpur University has also decided to disown you from the position of the West Bengal Governor.”  In the report card published in the letter, students wrote that the Governor’s general knowledge was less than satisfactory, arguing capability was poor, sense of history was nil and strength was unwavering dedication

India’s Citizenship Emergency: Interview with Professor Niraja Jayal

Isaac Chotiner interviews Professor Niraja Jayal Last week, India  adopted  new legislation called the Citizenship Amendment Act, which gives undocumented immigrants of several faiths a path to citizenship but excludes Muslims, who make up about fifteen per cent of the country’s population. The law is part of a pattern of persecution of Muslims carried out by Indian Prime Minister  Narendra Modi  and his Bharatiya Janata Party, who seek to  transform India  from an avowedly secular, pluralistic country into a Hindu one. This past August, Modi revoked the autonomy of India’s only Muslim-majority state,  Kashmir , and flooded it with troops, in an ongoing siege. In Assam, another state with a large Muslim population, the government implemented the National Register of Citizens, which forced people to  prove  or lose their citizenship status. Immigrants whose citizenship was stripped by the state are already being sent to detention camps; last month, the government declared that the

Bharat Bhushan: Only a non-violent and secular citizenship protest will succeed

By their sheer spread, the ongoing protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the proposed  National Register of Citizens  (NRC) have become difficult to ignore. But they are instinctive and without a strategic core. This is their weakness. The current protests will fail if they lose momentum or turn violent in the face of an unresponsive government. That would be disastrous. A protest that fails and dissipates, emboldens its opponents. And violence will weaken the cohesion of the protestors and erode their moral position. There are already attempts to undermine the protests through coercive action and by projecting them as violent. Is it entirely coincidence that violence has occurred only in states ruled by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and in those states where it has to contest elections shortly? None of this should detract from the tectonic shift that has taken place in the public mood since 2014 when Prime Minister Narendra Modi assumed office. For the fir

‘Muslims have 150 countries to go to, Hindus have only India’: Gujarat CM / 'Insects Out & Squirming Means Medicine Works': BJP Secy on Protests

NB:   I write this primarily for the young protestors of today, as well as those who might be confused by the governments (and the Sangh Parivars') propaganda. Its is necessary to see how ill-informed, illogical and deceitful this propaganda is, because it is being propagated by responsible persons bent upon creating more tension in Indian society. High officials of state do not normally create hatred among those who have given them a mandate to rule. But that is what we have come to expect from this government. This is the most cruel, deceitful and brutal government of India that I have seen in my life. And they mistake their cleverness for wisdom. I am posting these comments to help my fellow Indians see through this poisonous atmosphere. Kuryad vidvams tatha saktas cikirsur lokasamgraham -  The disinterestedly wise ought to desire the holding together of all being.. (Bhagwadgita III 25) .  Evil, I think, is the absence of empathy : Captain G. M. Gilbert, US Army psychologist ,

Protestors across India who cannot be identified by their clothes // "Great Time To Be A Benevolent Government": Harsha Bhogle's Facebook Post

India has witnessed an outbreak of protests across the country and even abroad, ever since the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019 came into force on 12 December. The police responded with brute force, leading to the death of several protesters in Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka and Assam, and a brutal crackdown against students, particularly in Aligarh Muslim University and Jamia Millia Islamia. As protests raged on in several cities, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party government at the centre claimed that the police crackdown was in response to violent protests that were spurred by the Congress.  On 15 December, while addressing a rally in Jharkhand, where a five-phase assembly election is currently ongoing, Prime Minister Narendra Modi remarked, “Those who are creating violence can be identified by their clothes” - ostensibly, a reference to the Muslim community. The protests themselves, however, expose the blatant falsehoods of Modi’s comments. The protestors have visibly been from a range

Over 70 years later, Mumbai witnesses yet another historic uprising

On December 19, something moved. They came by the thousands: Hindus, Muslims, Christians, men, women of all hue and denomination, to protest the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the proposed National Register of Citizens (NRC). After the Quit India movement in 1942, August Kranti Maidan was witness to yet another historic uprising. So who or what drove the change? The protest, steered as it was by non-political activists, shows that “in Mumbai, there’s a very strong urge for citizens’ united action,” said Sudheendra Kulkarni, founder, Forum for New South Asia, an advocate of peace between India and Pakistan.  “The spirit and size of Thursday’s protest was unbelievable,” he said. “Mumbai has been known for Bollywood and as the country’s financial capital. It must now recover its place in national politics, and in the imagination and thought leadership of India,” he said.

Meet the gold medalist from Pondy University who boycotted convocation in protest against CAA

A gold medallist in M Sc Electronic Media, Karthika graduated from Pondicherry University in 2018 and is now working in Kerala. Calling her decision to boycott the prestigious event a ‘purely personal’ one, Karthika says that she cannot stand by discrimination on religious grounds. “I demand the withdrawal of CAA and NRC. The government must understand how strong the sentiment is by seeing people like me, students, foregoing our valuable, hard-earned moments. As an individual, I got a chance to protest in this way. I urge everybody else also to register their protest in any way they can, as individuals," she says earnestly.  Ayush Chaturvedi: Main Gandhi ke saath hun // Samar Halarnkar: In the time of Godse, a search for Hindus who will stand with Gandhi She says that the widespread protests are a reflection of the deep resentment that the people of India have towards the CAA and NRC. The students of Pondicherry University had also taken out a protest march inside the c

Mangaluru police used teargas inside hospital, damaged ICU doors - The Week

Uproar erupted on Friday morning after videos emerged that purportedly showed police personnel, some in riot gear, entering a hospital in Mangaluru and trying to force ward doors open the previous night. On Thursday, Mangaluru witnessed violent protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act that left two people dead in police firing. The videos are from CCTV cameras at the Highland Hospital in Mangaluru; the bodies of the two firing victims were brought to this institution, which is privately owned.  The News Minute  reported that the two firing victims: Jaleel Kudroli (49) and Nausheen Bengre (23), were brought to Highland Hospital. The hospital informed police that the bodies could not be kept there as it did not have a morgue and the case was a medico-legal case. On hearing of the death of the two people, people started gathering outside Highland Hospital and a confrontation ensued between protesters and personnel. Us versus us UP Cops Thrash Former Teacher After CAA

Start-up devours pollution with new plastic recycling method

Our appetite for plastic continues unabated. But rather than make more, what if we could make do with what we have? Recycling plastic has been a stop-start endeavor, plagued by limitations caused by the large variety of plastics we churn out, waste contamination, and the energy-intensive processes which can make recycling an economic moot point. It's estimated only  9%  of plastic ever created has been recycled. But with the help of a chemical process, Canadian Miranda Wang and her company  BioCellection  want to change that. Call to Earth and the extraordinary people working for a more sustainable future Anna Fletcher: Indian student creates a brick made from recycled plastic Unmaking plastic is tough. There's limited evidence some plastics can biodegrade (one solution requires  mealworms ) but largely plastics  photodegrade  in the sun. It's a lengthy process, and the truth is we can only estimate how long it takes. What's certain is that plastic is outli