Tuesday, 31 December 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' for an anti-Congress alliance in the 1989 elections that brought VP Singh to power. The failure of Maoists to confront communalism is part of the same story, about which more can be said. 

This continually patronising attitude leads to the widespread impression that India's religious minorities are habitually conservative. An even worse result is that though well-meaning citizens come together in a crisis, after it is over the victims of violence and/or police harrassment are left to fend for themselves. They are obliged to rely on the committed cadre of conservative organisations. The problem then intensifies because of communal polarisation. 

Today some activists are again acting on the presumption that all Indian Muslims are Jamaatis /Tablighis. This is a foolish and dangerous assumption. All Hindus are not sympathisers of Hindutva; all Sikhs are not proponents of Khalistan. 

Please open your eyes and stand on your own feet.


The real tukde-tukde gang
Readers interested in examining this issue may please read these articles carefully. It is very serious, because the failure to address communalism (arguably our outstanding political problem for over a century) is at the root of the present crisis:

Bangladesh post-poll violence hits minorities/Syed Badrul Ahsan NB: The Jamaat-i-Islami Hind is the sister organisation of the Bangladesh Jamaat. In March 2013, a mass demon-stration by an Islamist coalition demonstrated in Kolkata against the convictions of war criminals in Bangladesh. Supporters of the Shahbag movement in Bangladesh were threatened, & calls made to prevent Sheikh Hasina from visiting Kolkata. In light of the systematic & relentless violent attacks on Hindus & Buddhists in Bangladesh, & the strange logic by which the Bangladeshi Jamaat blames non-Muslims for each & every political setback, it is time for the Jamaat-i-Islami Hind to make clear its position on the vicious deeds of Bangladeshi Islamists & distance itself from them

Extracts from B. R. Ambedkar’s book on Pakistan (1940, 1945)


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 movement in Turkey. Today, when progressive-minded people say we must make anger our primary motivation, I flinch a little. For in between times I have learned something precious: that while the beginning of anger might feel wonderful, the rest of it is, in fact, quite toxic, repetitive, shallow and backward.

Early this autumn I was at an event in a famous literary festival in Europe. The journalist who interviewed me, a feminist with whom I had a lot in common, got upset when I said that patriarchy made women unhappy, but it also made many men unhappy, especially those who did not conform to conventional masculinity – and we should connect with those young men. Her response was full of anger: “I’m not allowing men into my movement. Let them deal with their own toxic masculinity.”... 
https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/dec/30/anger-female-rage-empathy

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. ..

Friday, 27 December 2019

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 your focus larger still, UNICEF recently reported that, thanks to largely war-induced humanitarian crises across the Middle East and northern Africa, 32 million children need assistance, 5.8 million of whom are refugees....
http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/176643/tomgram%3A_andrea_mazzarino%2C_how_war_targets_the_young/

Posts on contemporary capitalism etc

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 lawinternet 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 who have advocated violence.

“Indian police, in many areas, have been cracking down on anti-citizenship law protests with force, including unnecessary deadly force,” said Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia director. “The authorities should prosecute violent protesters, but they also need to hold police officers to account for using excessive force.” Most of the violence by protesters and the police has been in Uttar Pradesh state. There, the chief minister vowed “revenge” against protesters, saying, “All properties of those involved in damaging public assets will be seized and auctioned to compensate for the losses.” Soon after, the state authorities cracked down on Muzaffarnagar district and sealed nearly 70 shops without providing a legal basis....
read more:

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 I do, keep this in mind: as 2019 ends, thanks to Brexit and the victory of Boris Johnson in Britain’s recent election, the greatest previous imperial power on this planet is clearly headed for the sub-basement of history

Meanwhile, that other superpower of the Cold War era, the Soviet Union, now Russia, remains a well-sauced Putinesca shadow of its former self. And then, of course, there’s the country that, not so long ago, every major American politician but Donald Trump proclaimed the most exceptionalindispensable nation ever. As it happens, the United States - if you didn’t catch the reference above -- has been looking a bit peaked lately itself. You can’t say that it’s the end of the road for a land of such wealth and staggering military power, enough to finish off several Earth-sized planets. However, it’s clearly a country in decline on a planet in the same condition and its present leader, Tariff Man, however uniquely orange-faced he may be, is just the symptom of the long path to hell its leadership embarked on almost three decades ago... read more:
http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/176645/tomgram%3A_engelhardt%2C_on_hijacking_history/#more

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.
"Ganga Ma" brings together almost 70 pictures from Di Sturco's journeys along the 1,500-mile-long river, which stretches across India and Bangladesh.
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.....
https://edition.cnn.com/style/article/ganges-environment-photographs/index.html

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

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 Odessa.

“My grandparents told me how different it was here and how so many more fish, birds and other creatures lived here before the dams were made, but the dams quickly devastated the ecosystem,” he adds. According to Wetlands International, about 64% of the world’s wetlands have disappeared since 1900 and nearly 90% since the start of the industrial revolution....

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. Directed by the author and filmmaker Tatsuya Mori, it raises worrying questions about the health of Japan’s media. The documentary shows Mochizuki in Okinawa talking to residents and officials about the controversial construction of a US airbase. In Osaka, she meets the couple at the centre of a political scandal that placed unprecedented pressure on the prime minister. She is shown with Shiori Ito, whose rape allegations against a prominent TV journalist made headlines again this week....read more:
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/dec/27/isoko-mochizuki-the-troublesome-thorn-in-shinzo-abes-side

Thursday, 26 December 2019

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.
The Earth from space
‘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.

“There’s a lot of division and polarisation and disconnection between people,” said Steven Pratscher, a psychologist and principal investigator on the trial at the University of Missouri. “We’d like to see if we can recreate the Overview effect on Earth to have an impact on those issues.”... read more:
https://www.theguardian.com/science/2019/dec/26/scientists-attempt-to-recreate-overview-effect-from-earth

Wednesday, 25 December 2019

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 to ignoring violence against students, activists and Muslims. They also wrote that his overall character was spineless. 

On Monday, the Governor was shown black flags by students and non-teaching staff at the university. It was only after considerable struggle against a sea of students that Dhankhar managed to enter the building. However, the non-teaching staff then blocked his way and he failed to attend the court meeting. The Governor then offered to take questions. However, when students sought his reaction on Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), Delhi Police’s recent attack on Jamia Millia Islamia students and those killed in anti-CAA protests in Uttar Pradesh, he claimed ignorance. The students heckled him, following which he left....
https://indianexpress.com/article/india/spineless-in-open-letter-jadavpur-university-students-rusticate-chancellor-6184960/

see also




India’s Citizenship Emergency: Interview with 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 citizenship registry would soon cover the entire country. The cumulative effect of these moves has been to throw India’s democratic character and future into a precarious state not seen since the mid-nineteen-seventies, when Prime Minister Indira Gandhi declared a state of emergency and imprisoned her political opponents.

In response to the Citizenship Amendment Act, demonstrations have broken out across India. Many of them have been met with violence from authorities; several protesters have been killed. To help understand the legislation and the widespread backlash against it, I spoke by phone with Niraja Gopal Jayal, a professor at the Center for the Study of Law and Governance at Jawaharlal Nehru University and the author of several books on Indian democracy, including “Citizenship and Its Discontents.” During our conversation, which has been edited for length and clarity, we discussed India’s uneven history of religious tolerance, how Modi was able to exploit religious chauvinism, and the greatest challenges facing those who care about the future of liberalism in the country.

Is India facing the most dire threat to its democracy in its seventy-two years of existence? I am not sure I would say it’s the biggest threat to India’s democracy. I think it’s the biggest threat to India’s self-definition as a nation—the definition that India adopted at independence, which was informed by the values of the movement for freedom from British rule and embodied in the Indian constitution. I think that vision of India, as a secular, inclusive, plural, multicultural democracy, is certainly under threat more than at any previous time.

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 first time, the veil of fear that had engulfed the country has lifted. Ordinary citizens, are willing to be counted among those standing against attempts to define Indian citizenship by religious affiliation. The party in power clearly has gone too far in imposing it communal agenda on the nation.

Tuesday, 24 December 2019

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

The real tukde-tukde gang

Kuryad vidvams tatha saktas cikirsur lokasamgraham (Bhagwadgita III 25)

The disinterestedly wise ought to desire the holding together of all being

Evil, I think, is the absence of empathy: Captain G. M. Gilbert, US Army psychologist , Nuremberg trials, 1945-49

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.

In my youth (most notably in the year 1968) there was another worldwide uprising. One slogan from the Berkeley campus remains relevant today: If you don't like the news go out and make some of your own. The current upsurge in India is the biggest since 1974; and it also resonates with a mass movement for action on global warming, for democracy and human rights everywhere. (Incidentally, in 1974, Jayaprakash Narayan asked serving IAS and IPS officers to disregard illegal orders: this was the trigger for the Emergency). All political action is not submerged in issues of identity - look around you and see that there are other movements too. Hong Kong and the Climate Strike, for example. Remember that the HK popular protest has faced off a totalitarian regime.

We need to overcome divisiveness - remember, the politics that seek to play upon the worst human instincts, toward blind hatred and prejudice - are leading us toward extinction. Not toward military glory, nor national greatness, but massive pollution of water, soil and air, death and destruction. Give it up, it will not lead to a bright future, but only darkness. 

The Gujarat CM's observations illuminates the Sangh Parivar's view of the world: nations are identified by religion, and anyone of xyz religion can or will be at home in a country whose religion is the same as theirs. This is nonsense, and flies against political reality. (And do we even needto comment on his arithmetic: 150 countries for Muslims to go to? Really?) Would a Christian from Nigeria be at home in say, Mexico? (presuming he/she were allowed to come and camp there?)  Why has the Trump administration debarred immigrants from Latin American countries (most of whom must have been Christians) from seeking refuge in the USA? Is the UK's choice of Brexit an example of Christian solidarity? Doesn't it indicate that languages and cultures are more important determinants of nationality than religion?

If there were any Islamic religious solidarity why would the Turkish government ruthlessly oppress Kurds? Why would the Kurdish resistance fight against ISIS? Why has the Saudi goverment launched a bloody war against Yemen? Are all these countries' borders open to any Muslim from anywhere? Why are there 2.3 million Hindus in the USAWhy has the Hindu share of the US population doubled in 10 years?

The utterances of our leaders have reached the depths of vulgarity and shamelessness. They regularly refer to members of religious minorities (especially Muslims) and all those who criticise or oppose them as sub-humans. The Home Minister of India referred to illegal migrants as termites during this years election campaign (he was then president of the BJP). The BJP Gujarat Secretary refers to opponents of the CAB as insectsThis kind of language is typical of Nazis and racists. 

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 of communities. The Caravan spoke to ten protestors from Bengaluru, Mumbai, New York and Delhi about why they chose to protest.

Rohan Seth: Seth is a former student of Jamia Millia Islamia who attended a protest in Mumbai’s August Kranti Maidan on 19 December. The news about the violence at JMI was devastating. I know for a fact that a lot of my friends did not sleep the night the violence happened, and then for nights on end. A lot of people cried all night—a couple of friends admitted it to me yesterday. These are the places where we have hung out at, chilled at and we never thought it would transform into war zones overnight. We never thought something like this could ever happen in Jamia.... read more:

"Great Time To Be A Benevolent Government": Harsha Bhogle's Facebook Post
Amid protests across the country over the amended citizenship law, cricket commentator Harsha Bhogle has sent out a message to the government and has backed the youth of India. "Winning elections isn't a good enough reason for highlighting differences between us. My naive view of the world tells me that creating opportunities through liberalisation and openness and togetherness could win more elections," Mr Bhogle wrote in a Facebook post.


"This is a great time to be a benevolent government; to think of education, of infrastructure, of technology; to remove barriers, to embrace openness, to free this beautiful generation to take India beyond where we think it can be," he wrote in the 749-word post that is being widely shared on social media.... read more:
https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/harsha-bhogles-facebook-post-great-time-to-be-a-benevolent-government-2154037




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. 
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 campus last week in solidarity with the students of JMI and AMU.  “Why should we follow whatever the government says without questioning them? We are not a fascist country, we are a democracy. Our Preamble says so. We don’t need to bow down and take whatever is given at us. If we disagree, we should protest in every way we can,” she emphasises. 

‘I stand with the students’: For AS Arun Kumar, the seven long years he put in, working on his PhD thesis was not as important registering his dissent. “Not just with JMI and AMU students, I also wanted to express solidarity with the lakhs of protesters out on the streets against the CAA and NRC,” he tells TNM. The 34-year-old anthropology scholar defended his PhD thesis in October 2018 and was eagerly awaiting his felicitation. However, he chose to forgo in protest against what’s happening instead. I didn’t want to get my degree from the President of India. He had a choice, an option, to send the bill back to the Parliament. But he did not; instead, he put his sign and made it a law,” he explains...
https://www.thenewsminute.com/article/meet-gold-medalist-pondy-university-who-boycotted-convocation-protest-against-caa-114652



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.

The video clips show policemen running through a corridor and attempting to kick open a door and using lathis and shields to push people at the other side away.

Monday, 23 December 2019

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.


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 outliving millions of birds dying with stomachs filled with detritus, or ocean life consuming microplastics flowing up the food chain -- all the way to us. With 8 million metric tons of plastic finding its way into the oceans every year and millions more piling up in landfill, recycling is of vital importance.

Wang is looking to break the inertia by making it cheaper to recycle plastic -- and not just some plastics, but all. BioCellection's mission to "make plastic waste infinitely recyclable," says Wang. "We live in a plastic age, and we can't avoid that material... (But) frankly our world hasn't been moving forward in innovating plastic recycling for the past decades.".... 
https://edition.cnn.com/2018/03/09/world/miranda-wang-tomorrows-hero/index.html

Us versus us

... having passed a law that makes religion, for the first time, the basis for giving citizenship to foreigners, the BJP government reserves the right to bring an NRC which would unsettle large swathes of the country’s own minorities and poor at a moment of its choosing

All speeches are made of what is said and what is not. On the day after, therefore, listen closely to both Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s words, and his silences, at Ramlila Maidan in the national capital on Sunday. The seething backdrop, still unfolding, is the spiralling agitation and anger, expressed in university campuses and outside, by mostly young people, against the law fast-tracking citizenship for non-Muslim persecuted minorities from three Muslim-dominated neighbouring countries and the BJP government’s oft-stated threat to extend nationwide the National Citizenship Register process in Assam. 
While PM Modi apparently distanced himself from his own home minister, and his party’s manifesto, among others, when he denied that the NRC was being talked about by the ruling regime - a sign, perhaps, of retreat in the face of the protests - what he didn’t say was even more significant and controversial: He did not say there would be no NRC.

These Are the 25 People Killed During Anti-Citizenship Amendment Act Protests

New Delhi: Twenty-five people have reportedly lost their lives in the ongoing protests against the recently passed Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019 (CAA) and the proposed nationwide National Register of Citizens. Most of the deaths have been reported in Uttar Pradesh (UP) after police allegedly fired on protestors. Though protests have been organised in almost all states across the country, deaths have been reported in only Bharatiya Janata Party-ruled states. Activists allege that huge gatherings in other states have been peaceful and without any incidents of violence, accusing the BJP of disproportionate police action on protestors.

December 12: Five deaths in Assam: Five people succumbed to bullet injuries in Assam after the police reportedly opened fire on protesters who had taken to the streets defying Section 144, imposed in the state after parliament passed the disputed CAA on December 11. Those who succumbed to bullet injuries include Sam Stafford, a 17-year-old boy, and 19-year-old Dipanjal Das, who was declared the “first martyr” of the anti-CAA movement in Assam. 

Stafford was a musician who would have taken his school leaving exams this year. He was on his way back home in Hatigaon after joining a protest demonstration at Latasil Field when a bullet hit his face. He died on the spot. Das, a resident of Chaygaon, succumbed to bullet wounds at Lachit Nagar. He was also on his way home when a bullet hit his abdomen, he died on the way to Guwahati Medical College. Das worked as a canteen cook at the District Sainik Welfare Board, a government body that works for soldiers employed by the Indian Army.... https://thewire.in/rights/anti-caa-protest-deaths

see also

Agenda for Social Democracy