Thursday, March 31, 2011

[Manipur] Writing on the Walls of People

- Seram Rojesh

Photo: Kangla online
Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), 1958 was passed in the Parliament in 1958. AFSPA can be looked at not only as a problem for those people who live under this law, but as an aspect of neocolonialism, militaristic and undemocratic nature of the Indian State. It does not say that it is to counter the “armed rebellion” or that it is an ‘anti-terror law’. The Supreme Court said that it was required for the national interest and it was not due to the armed rebellion. The AFSPA has its roots from British colonial ordinance, called the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Ordinance promulgated in 1942 to assist in suppressing the "Quit India Movement". The AFSPA itself began as the Armed Forces (Assam and Manipur) Special Powers Ordinance, 1958 that came into force in May 1958, and was passed by Parliament in September. It has only six clauses. Clause 1 definesnehe edefined e the armed forces under the law including all the forces under Army, Nevy and Air forces. the name of the act. Clause 2 defines the armed forces are under the law including all the central forces including Army, Navy and Air forces. Clause 3 defines the power to declare disturbed area. The real law is the clause 4, 5 and 6. Clause 4 allows a non commission officer to shoot to dead on the basis of his suspicion, to destroy a property or any place, to arrest a person without arrest warrant. Clause 5 allows an arrested to person to be kept unlimited time and did not define numbers of days and time. Clause 6 says No prosecution suit or other legal proceeding shall be instituted, except with the previous sanction of the central Government in respect of anything done or purported to be done in exercise of the powers conferred by this Act. In short it is a colonial act.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Organizing Revolutionary Dissent: Glimpses into the Praxis of Korean Students’ Movement under Military Dictatorship

- Bonojit Hussain

1986 Workers/Students Protest Meeting
 Today Professor Kim is a well-respected progressive academic in one of the numerous Universities of Seoul, where I have also spent my last three years – first as a student and then as a Research Program Officer/Faculty. But I never had the opportunity to chat with Professor Kim about politics. He spoke only Korean and Russian; and I spoke only English and ‘unintelligible’ Korean. 

But Professor Kim is well known among students as the ‘nutty professor’ who, as a graduate student, went to Moscow to study in the early 1990s. As the rumour goes, study was just an excuse for him- in reality he wanted to (un)confirm his worst nightmare : whether the Soviet Union has truly collapsed or was yet another western capitalist propaganda. 

To anyone today it would appear that he was ‘crazy’. After all, why do you need to go to Moscow to see for yourself whether the Soviet Union has collapsed or not? The whole world read about it in newspapers and saw images of it on television. I would have also thought that this Prof. Kim guy is crazy if I had not become a student of the contemporary labour and student movements of Korea. 

It was not just “young” Mr. Kim who was shocked at the demise of the Soviet Union; there were thousands and thousands of other Korean student activists who could not believe it, and they felt as if the grounds beneath them had slipped away.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Another Education is Possible: An Account of the Struggle against Neo-liberal Restructuring at the University of Sussex

- Ryan Powell

The transformation of British Universities from places of learning and enquiry into supermarkets, where knowledge is a commodity; the production of which is driven by the needs of the market, has picked up pace in the past several years. For a long time universities in the UK were entirely state funded and free for all. Since then fees have been introduced in three phases. At the first stage the maximum any university could charge stood at 1000 Pounds. The second phase began in 2006 when the cap on tuition fees was raised by Tony Blair’s government to 3300 Pounds. We are currently entering what may well be the final phase where tuition fees will either go up to something around 7000 pounds or the cap on fees will be abolished completely allowing universities to charge as high a price as they can get away with. This will mean that universities will have to compete with each other for students and research funding. 

Governments across Europe have seized upon the opportunity provided by the financial crisis to slash public spending across the board. With the election of a Conservative/Liberal coalition (both party’s ideologically committed giving capital and the market free reign) in the UK the speed and depth of these cuts will exceed what was anticipated under Labour with higher education being hit particularly hard. Vice chancellors know what is coming; that universities will soon exist in a competitive market and so will have to be made profitable in order to survive. Instead of opposing this however VCs have jumped on the opportunity to make education a business and have begun to undertake the task of restructuring with gusto, cutting everything but their salaries.

Cry, Dear Friend, On the Death of a Noble Profession

[Note: This article was published in December-January 2010-11 issue of CRITIQUE, the magazine of NSI-Delhi University Chapter]

- Dr. Sanjay Kumar

Delhi University Teacher’s Association, one of the strongest union of university teachers in the country suffered a humiliating setback recently. On 15th November, Justice Manmohan of Delhi High Court ordered DUTA to call off its strike against semester system for science courses introduced by the administration this year. Teachers are back in lecture halls, students on benches are getting ready for examinations, administration has its writ running back in the university; all is quiet on the campus front. The new VC would have hardly expected a more docile environment to establish his authority. 

DUTA struggle was done in by the pincer movement of bureaucracy and judiciary. While the former remained adamant and did not come for any sort of negotiations, the latter determined teacher’s strike to be a blackmail. Indian judiciary in many recent judgements has held protest marches, hartals, strikes, etc. illegal. Its argument is that by disrupting regular social life these amount to taking hostage fundamental rights of citizens. Bureaucracy and judiciary are two important pillars of any liberal governing order. The former in its ideal Weberian type gives rational form to the operation of state power and class rule under liberalism. The main purpose of the latter is provision of argued justifications for the existing status quo, or to bring social reality back within rules if the deviations become too embarassing, as has happened with the 2-G spectrum scam recently. The reality of Indian bureaucracy and judiciary rarely matches with the liberal ideal. Our corrupt bureaucracy lords over citizens, brazenly and violently if they happen to be poor, dalit or adivasi. Our judiciary in many cases relies not on evidence and arguments but on sentiments and hearsay, as it did in the recent Babari Masjid title suit, or on ‘extraneous considerations’, as commented recently by the Supreme Court about the mess in Allahabad HC. The prime responsibility of the judiciary to ensure governance is abundantly manifest in the interim order of the Delhi High Court when it says ‘that in a democratic body polity, governance is the primary factor’, or when it claims that education results in a person becoming ‘disciplined, civilized and a man (sic) of compassion’ (emphasis added).

Turning The Tide? Student Protests in Britain, November 2010

[Note: This article was published in December-January 2010-11 issue of  CRITIQUE, the magazine of NSI-Delhi University Chapter.]

- Dr. Aditya Sarkar

Photo edited by Malay Firoz
In the last decade and a half, the United Kingdom’s higher education system has undergone a rapid transition: from universally free tuition to – as it now appears – universalized student debt. The latest round of reform has sought to increase fees threefold, cutting public funding enormously, and transforming universities into purveyors of ‘services’ to be consumed and paid for by customers, rather than a public good to be received by citizens. Many aspiring university students will never see the inside of a college classroom, and many more will have to precariously balance their education against heavy loans, thereby inevitably selecting courses generating immediate employment prospects and financial stability. Large numbers of ‘non-profitable’ university departments, therefore, are facing the axe, which affects teachers as well as students. In one sense, this continues – and radicalizes – a practice begun in the Thatcher years, as public funding was progressively reduced and supplemented by private investment, and extended in the Blair era, when student fees were introduced for the first time. The present proposals of the Conservative/Liberal-Democrat coalition government are, in one sense, the logical culmination of this tradition, marked, as Stefan Collini has pointed out, by the simultaneous escalation of student intake and the whittling down of funding available, all at a high cost to the quality of the education received.[1]

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Speak Out ! Lest We Tolerate a Gender Biased Campus !

[Statement issued on 24th March]

Photo: Women's Right Organization
It does not matter what time of the day it is, what you are wearing or who you are with, Delhi remains extremely hostile towards women. The streets, parks, buses, and bazaars are overwhelmingly male spaces where women are treated as unwelcomed trespassers to be teased, taunted and touched. Delhi University is very much embedded in this culture of harassment. For women, even a simple walk from hostel to college is a map of obstacles to be dodged and strategised around. Not only are women combating Black tinted cars, swerving motorcycles, groping hands and lewd calls but now also the possibility of being shot dead in broad daylight. It is in the neighbourhood of this respected University that a young female teacher was rounded up and molested by none other than male students of this university under the garb of lumpenism that is “allowed” in the name of holi, just a few days ago. It was in one of these usual days, whether it concerns female teacher or student or any other women, when around 11 pm at Chhatra Marg yet another young female teacher was stopped and molested by two bike-riding louts, while she shouted for help none came forward despite many students loitering around the pavements – it was the ‘mad’ exam month of April which sees some movement of students to and from the libraries in the otherwise desolate night streets of North Campus, Delhi University.

Say No to No Say: Delhi University Students and Teachers Gather to Protest against Semesterization

Photo: New Socialist Initiative, DU
Outside the Delhi University Arts Faculty, teachers and students sported T-shirts saying ‘Say No to No Say’, lighting candles , singing songs of protest.
Photo: New Socialist Initiative, DU
The vigil was organized by Joint Action Body against semesterization to protest against the recent spate of unsavoury and coercive tactics being employed by the University administration in pushing forward the process of semesterization in the Humanities and Social Sciences. Among these, the administration has tried to intimidate individual Heads of Departments with threats of punitive action, if they do not ensure that their respective Committees of Courses do not cooperate in the process of semesterization. It has demanded the names of individual committee members, as well as the nature of their votes, on this matter. These measures are not only excessive, they are well beyond the administrative brief of the University administration. Rather, they constitute a blatant and unprecedented attempt to influence and manipulate the decisions of statutory academic bodies, as well as to suppress any legitimate dissent against the completely irrational policies and procedures being adopted by the University. Further, they are also attempts to illegitimately collate data about teachers that may be misused against them in a court of law. As such, these measures directly impinge on the academic autonomy of individuals, faculties and departments of the University.