Friday, March 30, 2012

Marxism: Revisiting Some Basics

- Sanjay Kumar

Note: This is the text of a presentation made at the NSI Delhi chapter's winter study camp held in Samalkha, Haryana in December, 2011

I assume everybody here is interested in Marxism because NSI unequivocally espouses the political legacy of Marx. Some of us here are inquisitive about Marxism, they would have heard or read about it; some praise, lot of criticism and ridicule, but have not yet made up their mind about the beast. On the other hand, some of us here may unabashedly declare themselves to be Marxists. If that is not to be taken as a mere label, it implies that they place their personal histories in a definite ideological, social scientific and political tradition. The majority may lie in-between, understanding and agreeing with some Marxist ideas, but then also being also aware of and appreciative of other ideas which do not fit neatly into a clear Marxist schema. I hope what I am going to say will prove useful to everybody here, particularly to the in-between majority. 

Let me state in the beginning my take on Marxism. I think Marxism as a body of theoretical ideas and political practices marks an important milestone in the history of humanity. It raises fundamental questions about the world around us, and the place of humanity in it. It provides strong arguments to reject some answers. It gives revealing insights into the nature of human society. Some of the answers it leads to are path-breaking. It provides a world-view which is open (but not chaotic, random, multiple), questioning and critical (but not speculative), and engages with reality with the aim of transforming it (but is not pragmatic). I find Marxist world view liberatory, not because the way it helps in liberation from specific bondages, but what it tells us about the stakes involved in struggles for liberation.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Event: Why is Indian State afraid of its Soni Soris?

Custodial Violence, Repression and Subversion of the Rule of Law

 A Discussion with

Himanshu Kumar (Social Activist)

Colin Gonsalves (Sr. Supreme Court Lawyer)

Venue: Activity Centre, Arts Faculty, North Campus, Delhi University. Time: 1.30 pm to 4.30 pm. Date: 29th March, 2012

Soni Sori is a tribal woman and a school teacher who was subjected to sexual violence in the custody of Dantewada Police, under the direction of the Superintendent of Police. Six months later, She is still languishing in a Chattisgarh jail awaiting justice, while her tormentor has just been awarded the President's Police Medal for Gallantry.

Soni Sori is not alone in her agony. Arrests, detentions and violence are increasingly being used by the state to silence activists, to put down mass struggles of the marginalized people for their rights and livelihoods. Irom Sharmila, Dr. Binayak Sen, Koodankulam protests - each is a stark example of mighty State crushing dissent and crinalizing protest through machinery meant to establish the Rule of Law. the discussion will explore how various institutions of Indian Democracy are responding to this assult on core democratic principles in the situation of conflict that exists in many parts of the country.

Organized by: All India Students' Association (AISA), Gender Studies Group, New Socialist Initiative (NSI), Stree Adhikar Sangathan.

"By giving me electric shocks, by stripping me naked, or by brutally assualting me and inserting sticks and stones into my body - will the problem of Naxalism end? Why are there so many atrocities against us women? I want answers from all of you living in this country." - Soni Sori

Petition: Speak out against the Delhi University administration for the disruption of Women's Day Celebration

Dear Friends

We, the students, faculty and staff of Delhi University and friends have been celebrating International Women's Day as an open programme with discussions and cultural events etc. since 1994, in the Arts Faculty, North Campus. This is an open gathering of individuals and organisations to honour this international day. Since March 8th this year fell on holi the gathering was postponed to March 14th.

For the first time, this year, the Delhi University's security guards stopped the programme and asked us to vacate the space immediately as no permissions had been taken. They stopped a play mid-performance and prevented us from holding any discussions and displaying any banners.

The university space has always been one of free dialogue and expression for all. We strongly object to this forcible silencing of our celebration and the closing off of university spaces for open discussions. It is particularly outrageous since celebrating International Women's Day at the Arts Faulty at Delhi University's north campus has been annual tradition since 1994. 

We demand:
  • An apology from the Delhi University administration for the disruption of the programme
  • The right to assemble as and when we like to express ourselves or demonstrate peacefully without "permission" 
  • Access to spaces across the campus for student activity and expression without surveillance and control