Showing posts from January, 2021

In "Writing With Fire," reporters from India's lowest caste defy the patriarchy to seek justice

The inspiring documentary, "Writing with Fire," premiering at the Sundance Film Festival, chronicles the impact Dalit women in the Uttar Pradesh state of India have had reporting for "Khabar Lahariya," a newspaper and website. The journalists, who are in the lowest caste in India, have been working for nearly two decades, despite being told what they are doing is "unthinkable." Moreover, the chief reporter Meera's husband, Shivbaran, states in the film, "I never expected them to achieve anything."  But their reporting is effective. Stories on  rape  and  human rights abuses ,  illegal mining , the lack of toilets, roads, and electricity, as well as  politics  are creating change. They ask meaningful questions of men in power and hold folks accountable. Meera states that " journalism  is the essence of democracy," and reporting is how she fights for justice….

Bharat Bhushan: Farmers' agitation against three new laws acquires an anti-BJP edge

Curtains came down on the first phase of the farmers’ agitation amid a growing perception that the events of January 26 in Delhi were a ‘conspiracy’ to malign and delegitimise the movement. It has now entered a second phase where it will be potentially less tractable. Following its ham-handed playbook, the Narendra Modi government tried to criminalise farmers’ dissent but it has ended up infusing new energy into their agitation. Those who had gone back exhausted to the villages have returned to the protest sites emotionally charged. The Jat community in Western UP was enraged by the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP’s) social media warriors mocking farmer leader Rakesh Tikait for breaking down before TV crews. Overnight, the number of farm protestors at Ghazipur swelled.  This also happened at other protest sites on Delhi’s borders after protestors were attacked by so-called ‘locals’. Farmer leaders here have openly charged the BJP and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) with encouraging

Pratap Bhanu Mehta: The real darkness on horizon

The logic of the state’s political strategy is to find any pretext for social division and state repression. The immediate elite reactions to the unruly and shameful scenes in the wake of the farmers’ protest in India’s capital, especially at the Red Fort, were two-fold. The first was to feign shock and horror, and to channel everyone’s inner nationalism and get them to rally behind the cry of order. The flying of the Nishan Sahib flag at the Red Fort, as inappropriate as it was, was treated as an existential threat and national desecration. The second was relief that the unruly scenes now delegitimised the farmers’ movement, broke the momentum of the protests and would protect the agriculture bills. India’s problem is solved. But this attitude should not disguise the fact that we were all trying to find a respectable way of expressing our deep authoritarianism and unleashing another round of repression. The leaders of the farmers protest will be targeted with all the national securi

Popular resistance to undeclared Emergency// Ghazipur Border: Rakesh Tikait के लिए यूपी -हरियाणा से रातों रात आ गए किसान

NB : After the violent events on Republic Day, the central and UP governments have launched a massive drive to arrest farmer leaders and push out the gatherings at the Ghazipur border . Six journalists and a Congress MP have been charged with sedition . The Chief Minister of Delhi has claimed that police are framing people, whilst the real culprits are going scot-free. There are widespread allegations that the violence on January 26 was a stage-managed affair, with one of the chief actors in the drama being identified as someone close to the BJP. Meanwhile overnight thousands of peasants from as far was Uttarakhand and including Haryana and Punjab have rallied to the cause and come to the Ghazipur border to support and defend their leaders and their cause. Here is an extended report:   Ghazipur Border: Rakesh Tikait के लिए यूपी -हरियाणा से रातों रात आ गए किसान   Recent events make it clear that the government, having pushed through a controversial set of bills which are arguably unc

Thomas Rowley: How Alexey Navalny changed Russian politics forever

Nine days ago, Alexey Navalny returned to Russia – and changed the country’s politics forever. The opposition leader had been in Germany since August 2020, recovering from what is now internationally recognised as an assassination attempt by the Kremlin (which President Vladimir Putin denies). But while there, he was far from idle. In December, he and a team of investigators  published an investigation  into his likely FSB killers – and then managed to dupe one of them into speaking with Navalny  on the phone . Then on 13 January, the 44-year-old politician announced his return to Russia, arriving four days later, when he was promptly arrested at a Moscow airport. The following day, while Navalny live-streamed his arrest proceedings from a court session held in a police station, his team released another  damning YouTube clip .  In a two-hour video, which has more than 90 million views, Navalny’s team investigated a secret Black Sea palace, estimated to be worth $1.5bn, which was all

AAP Statement on Chaos In Tractor Rally

BJP Planted "Stooge" Deep Sidhu To Create Chaos In Tractor Rally...   At a press conference, AAP spokesperson Raghav Chadha, while questioning the connection between Sidhu and BJP, showed several photos purportedly of the actor with various BJP leaders. "The BJP planted their stooge Deep Sidhu to create chaos in farmers' tractor parade," Mr Chadha said.... Samyukta Kisan Morcha distances itself from violent elements / Farmer leaders accuse Punjabi actor Deep Sidhu of instigating protesters and leading them to the Red Fort Manu Kaushik: Before India Breaks Its Promises / Dushyant Dave: SC Should Have Declared New Farm Laws Unconstitutional / Republic Day Tractor Rally: Tear Gas At Singhu Border India's protesting farmers pay homage to the 143 farmers martyred in their movement and reject Centre's offer to stay farm laws / 42-year ol

Shrestha Singh: I’m A First-Generation Indian American Woman. I Married Into A Family Of Trump Supporters

It was the grown-ups’ turn for presents. Tradition was to do a swap-or-steal gift exchange. I watched as my brother-in-law, a usually mild-mannered man, picked a gift and then shook it at the camera in our direction, a taunting glint in his eye. I looked closer. Whoever had wrapped it had meticulously taped a $2020 bill to the top, with Donald Trump’s smug face glowering on it. I grimaced. I didn’t look at the then-president’s face or listen to his voice if I could help it anymore.  Lawrence Beitler: Photograph of a Lynching (1930) My sister-in-law was next. She unwrapped her gift and held it up for all of us to see. It was a red football jersey with “ Kaepernick ” printed in big white letters across the back. The three of us on our side of the screen reacted with excitement before realizing that what we thought were cheers from the rest of the family were, in fact, jeers. They laughed with derision as they passed the jersey around and heckled the Black football player who had dared

Prasad Nichenametla - Andhra Pradesh: Chandrababu Naidu accuses CM Jagan of intending religious conversions

NB : These are serious allegations and if the state government has been encouraging conversion it is a violation of secular norms. It becomes criminal in cases of desecration of temples. We may keep in mind instances in north India where people of oppressed castes have  threatened to convert  if attacks on them don't stop, but in no case did they violate places of worship. Gandhiji was not dogmatically opposed to conversion, but made it clear that he preferred people to remain in their respective faiths and reform their practices from within. The question hinges on two issues, the persistence of oppressive social practices; and the reduction of faith to a political badge. If Indian society does not address these problems it is destined for many more years of communal strife.   I attach below some citations from Gandhi's writings on religion.  DS Temple idols desecration in Andhra Pradesh: Chandrababu Naidu accuses CM Jagan of intending religious conversions   Telugu Desam

Samyukta Kisan Morcha distances itself from violent elements / Farmer leaders accuse Punjabi actor Deep Sidhu of instigating protesters and leading them to the Red Fort

Statement issued by Samyukta Kisan Morcha We thank farmers for the unprecedented participation in today's Farmers Republic Day Parade. We also condemn and regret the undesirable and unacceptable events that have taken place today and dissociate ourselves from those indulging in such acts.  Despite all our efforts, some organisations and individuals have violated the route and indulged in condemnable acts. Anti-social elements had infiltrated the otherwise peaceful movement. We have always held that peace is our biggest strength, and that any violation would hurt the movement.  The long struggle for more than 6 months now, and more than 60 days of protest at Delhi borders also seemed to have led to this situation.  We dissociate ourselves from all such elements that have violated our discipline. We appeal strongly to everyone to stick to the route and norms of the Parade, and not indulge in any violent action or anything that taints national symbols and dignity. We appeal to everyon

Manu Kaushik: Before India Breaks Its Promises / Dushyant Dave: SC Should Have Declared New Farm Laws Unconstitutional / Republic Day Tractor Rally: Tear Gas At Singhu Border

Even the states are saying these laws are against the federal spirit. Legal eagles feel the laws do not follow the spirit of separation of powers, and are a case of executive overreach—since the executive plays the role of ‘enforcer to adjudicator and interpreter of the law’.  Too much democracy? Neither farmers nor state governments nor the legal fraternity agrees.  Republic Day Tractor Rally: Tear Gas, Lathicharge As Farmers Break Barricades Laws passed without constitutional authority, against the spirit of the Constitution (both in the context of federalism and separation of powers between branches), without any demand for it from the primary stakeholders, without consultation, without even a debate, when they threaten to usurp the farmer’s land, when it threatens the very existence of farmers when fundamentally the law is anti-farmer in every sense, how does one accept anything less than a repeal?...

Bharat Bhushan: 'Arnabgate' undermines the Modi govt's national security narrative

NB:  ' The government cannot feign ignorance of the allegations as Goswami’s chats celebrate the Pulwama terrorist strike, about which he says, “with this attack we have won like crazy”. This could lead to conspiracy theories about the Pulwama terrorist strike which resulted in the death of 40 security personnel ...'   Only one question needs to be asked of the Sangh Parivar - what would you and your IT Cell and numerous trolls and spokespersons have said if the boot were on the other foot? What if a "sickular libtard" news anchor had done what your favourite mud-slinger has done? What shameless hypocrisy! But what is shame to the shameless. DS In April 2009, the chief of counter-terrorism at the UK’s Metropolitan Police was held to have compromised an anti-terrorist operation because he was photographed alighting from his car with a document titled ‘Briefing Note: Operation Pathways’. Assistant Commissioner Bob Quick was carrying it to a security briefing at the Brit

Andrew Rawnsley: The bill for Boris Johnson’s Brexit is coming in and it’s punishingly steep

I smiled to see that  Roger Daltrey , the Leave-supporting lead singer of the Who, has joined the chorus of rock stars furious that the post-Brexit visa rules will ruin their prospects of touring across the Channel. Mr Daltrey will have to sing Won’t Get Fooled Again to himself before moving on to Boris the Spider and I Can’t Explain. It is particularly rending for the soul to witness the rightwing press discovering that the cause they so noisily championed is not the nirvana that they sold to their readers. They were cheering when Boris Johnson flourished the Brexit deal that he concluded on Christmas Eve and proclaimed: “ This is a cakeist treaty .” The UK would be having the sweet stuff and eating it by gaining lots of shiny new benefits from being outside the EU while still enjoying the historical advantages of frictionless trade with its closest neighbours. All those acquainted with Mr Johnson and his casual relationship with the truth will have taken that with a juggernaut of

Samar Halarnkar: The mass radicalisation that India does not acknowledge / Ruchir Joshi: A verdict on the republic

It is now clear that if you are Muslim in Narendra Modi’s new India you can be arrested for selling shoes, taking part in a protest, talking to or walking with a Hindu girl, driving a cattle truck, cracking a joke – or not. If you are a Muslim in the wrong place at the wrong time, the Constitution means little and the law can be twisted in any manner to imprison you. Criminality is irrelevant. It does even not matter that you may be a victim, not the perpetrator. Such is the ever-growing reality for Indian Muslims. Consider Munawar Faruqui, the standup comic, now in jail 23 days without bail for no crime. His show in Indore, Madhya Pradesh, was disrupted by vigilantes from the Hindu Rakshan Sangathan (Hindu Protection Union), who claimed he was “going to” joke about Hindu gods. Instead of arresting the goons, the superintendent of police commended them for being “alert and vigilant” and arrested Faruqui instead. Ruchir Joshi: A verdict on the republic Consider Nasir, the poor shoe