Monday, November 25, 2013

Condolence Meeting: In Memory of Omprakash Valmiki

New Socialist Initiative (NSI)

Requests you to attend the condolence meeting

 In Memory of Omprakash Valmiki

Anita Bharati (Writer and Activist)
Pallav (Academic and editor of Banaas Magazine)
Ajay Navaria (Academic and Hindi story writer)

5 pm, Thursday, 28th November, 2013
Indian Women's Press Corp (IWPC), 5 Windsor Place, Ashoka Road (Near Le Meridian Hotel), New Delhi

Om Prakash Valmiki who, with his path breaking literary piece in the form of his autobiography 'Joothan' started a new trend in Hindi literature, passed away away recently. 

With his collections of stories such as 'Salaam', 'Ghuspethiya', his collections of poetry 'Sadiyon ka Santaap', 'Bas! Bahut Ho Chuka', 'Ab Aur Nahi', and his critical writings 'Dalit Sahitya Ka Soundarya Shastra', 'Mukhya Dhara Aur Dalit Sahitya', 'Safai Devata' etc., he gave voice to the pains of the oppressed and the downtrodden classes who have been underprivileged for centuries, their strong will to live and their determination. He was unwell for some time and had made it through a successful surgery related to cancer last year. We all were hoping that Om Prakash Valmiki would fully recover to be with us and continue his creative interventions.

New Socialist Initiative is organizing a condolence meeting in his remembrance on Thursday, 28th November, 5 pm at Indian Women’s Press Cops (IWPC). We hope that you will be a part of it and share his memories with all of us.
+91- 9868940920, +91-8860304908

Friday, November 22, 2013

The World is Taking a Left Turn

- Shobhan Saxena

Camila Vallejo. Photo: The Guardian
Camila Vallejo is not a typical Communist. Young, educated, fashionably unfashionable and middle-class, Vallejo is a Chilean Communist who likes to tweet several times a day. In 2011, Vallejo made headlines in this part of the world when she led tens of thousands of angry students demanding free and better public education in the wealthiest country in Latin America, whose incumbent president is a billionaire businessman.

On Sunday, Vallejo was elected to Chilean Congress as the country voted to elect a new president, deputies and senators. Three other former student leaders, running on Communist Party tickets or as independents, also got elected. “We're going to celebrate our triumph on the streets of La Florida,” Vallejo said on Twitter, referring to a district in Santiago, the capital city from where she got elected.

In 2011, Vallejo and her comrades had rocked the streets of Santiago with so much force that it shook the government of Sebastián Piñera, and set the tone for the presidential election. On Sunday, the impact of those raging demonstrations became clear. Running on the promise of taxing the rich and providing free education and health to everyone, Michelle Bachelet emerged winner in the first round.

Chilean Students' Uprising, 2011. Photo: Villagelearning
With the billionaire president pushing for more free-market economy since he came to power in 2010 and the income inequality rising across the country, the message from the Chilean street was clear: reform or perish. People demanded more public spending and less privileges for the rich. Bachelet and other politicians got the message coming from the street. While Bachelet got 47 per cent votes on Sunday, two other candidates – more leftist than her – got 10 per cent votes each. In total, the left managed around 70 pe rcent of the votes in the wealthiest country in entire Latin America.

Similar messages are emerging from the streets – and ballot boxes – of other wealthy countries. Last week, in the Seattle City Council election, Kshama Sawant, the founder of Socialist Alternative, defeated the Democratic Party’s Richard Conlin. Asking the voters to look beyond the “two parties of big business”, Sawant pushed a $15 dollar an hour minimum wage for all workers in Seattle and promised to tax big corporations.

As expected, the big corporations tried to coerce Sawant into changing her stand on economic issues. But she didn’t give in. When the Boeing group threatened to move jobs out of state, if it didn't get tax breaks and wage concessions, Sawant said, “If they insisted on doing this, it will be nothing short of economic terrorism.”

In this battle between a Socialist and big corporations, which were all bankrolling the Democratic and Republican candidate, the people of Seattle sided with the candidate who promised more public spending, better wages, tax on the rich and less income inequality.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Atonement is Insufficient: The Rule of Law Must Prevail

“NWMI demands institutional redress of sexual harassment and assault”

Recent developments at the weekly news magazine Tehelka demonstrate that media houses have a long way to go in ensuring safety for women media professionals.

A journalist working with Tehelka revealed that she was sexually assaulted by the editor, Tarun Tejpal, on two occasions on 7 and 8 November 2013. The repeated harassment and assault over two days took place during Tehelka’s “Think” festival in Goa where the journalist was carrying out her professional duties. While Tarun Tejpal is purportedly “atoning” for what he terms “an error of judgement” by stepping down as editor for six months, we believe that this is simply not enough. Institutional mechanisms must be set in place to investigate the complaint of sexual assault, prosecute the perpetrator, and deal with future cases.

Sexual harassment of women journalists at the workplace is not new. The NWMI has issued several statements over the years in response to specific cases but also calling upon all media houses to comply with the law, which has been in existence since the Vishaka Guidelines were issued by the Supreme Court of India in 1997. There has been plenty of time and opportunity for media houses to establish the necessary mechanisms, as required by the law.

More recently, the Sexual Harassment at the Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013, which was signed into law on 22 April, is a significant civil remedy that recognises women’s right to a safe work environment free of sexual harassment. The onus is on the employer, who is responsible for ensuring such an environment and is to be held liable in case of any violations. If the complainant wishes to pursue criminal prosecution, the employer is also duty bound to assist her in doing so.

In this case it appears that Tarun Tejpal’s actions go beyond sexual harassment and fall under the definition of sexual assault, according the new Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013.

More and more courageous women are speaking out about sexual harassment at the workplace, by judges, politicians, and senior journalists. It is high time that mechanisms were put in place, as required under the law, to ensure that the rule of law operates and perpetrators are brought to justice. Recent experiences in Sun TV, Doordarshan and All India Radio, to name just a few, revealed that not only private media organisations but even the state/public broadcasters were not compliant with the law.

The NWMI demands that media houses across the country comply with the law by setting up sexual harassment complaints and redressal committees within the workplace that include at least one member external to the organisation with relevant knowledge and experience in dealing with such matters. It should be noted that the internal complaints mechanism is to be set up and its existence made known to all employees irrespective of whether or not a complaint has been made or is anticipated. Compliance with the law is the very least that mediawomen expect of the media which are, after all, supposed to be the watchdogs of society.

Rose Petals for Terrorists, Saropas for Hatemongers

- Subhash Gatade

Sangeet Som and Suresh Rana. Photo: Amarujala
The Bharatiya Janata Party or BJP will honour its legislators accused of inciting communal violence in Muzaffarnagar at a rally to be addressed by Narendra Modi in Agra on Thursday.

The BJP’s legislators in the Uttar Pradesh Assembly, Sangeet Som and Suresh Rana, were jailed in September after the stringent National Security Act was imposed on them for their alleged role in the Muzaffarnagar riots…Mr Som, accused of uploading a video on his Facebook wall which reportedly sparked communal tension in the area, was arrested in Meerut on September 21. He is also facing allegations of having made inflammatory speeches.Mr Rana was arrested from Lucknow on September 20 for his alleged role in stoking the violence which left over 60 people dead and rendered more than 40,000 homeless.
                                                  - NDTV


It was a gathering not much reported outside the Hindutva laboratory. After their humiliating defeat at the hustings at the centre (Year 2004) it was the first meeting of its kind which witnessed coming together of many stalwarts of the Sangh Parivar to felicitate one among them. One could see all the big names of the Parivar hierarchy— the ex deputy PM L.K.Advani, Narendra Modi and the likes of Togadias and Singhals, and a galaxy of saffron robed sadhus. The programme held in Ahmedabad to felicitate Prof Keka Shastry, VHP leader and a well-known writers’ entering the centenary year seemed an ideal occasion for them to air their views in Gujarat.

Whatever may be the pluses and minuses of Prof. Keka Shastry’s literary works, the rest of India had learnt of this gentleman only in the aftermath of Gujarat carnage. It was through one of his interviews to the people ( ‘It had to be done, VHP leader says of riots’, Sheela Bhatt, 12 March 2002) that people heard how things unfolded in an organized way after the Godhra incident. The interview was an admission for the first time by the Hindutva brigade of their direct role in the carnage which officially saw over 2,000 deaths, uprooting of lakhs of people from their homes and hearth and loss of hope and peace for millions of people. Rarely had one come across an interview so direct and so chilling.

He told the correspondent that “[t]he list of shops owned by Muslims in Ahmedabad was prepared on the morning of 28 February itself.” In the tape recorded interview he said, “In the morning we sat down and prepared the list. We were not prepared in advance.” When the correspondent asked him why they did it, he responded “It had to be done, it had to be done. We don’t like it, but we were terribly angry…” When the correspondent asked him how he, a scholar and littérateur could condone the burning of innocents, he responded: “The youngsters have done some things which we don’t like. We don’t support it. But we can’t condemn it because they are our boys.” He added for good measure “We don’t believe that the boys have done anything wrong, because this was the result of an outburst….We needed to do something.” The interview had also explained the inactivity of the police in simple terms by underlining that “they feared death” and “some of them were Hindus who thought “Let the mob do whatever it wants.” While situation could get aggravated and bigger riots were possible.

There is no doubt that if the Parivar people would not have been in power this ‘literary’ figure would have been hauled up and put behind bars for “promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language” etc. and for “acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony ( Section 153-A, IPC)”, or “deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings of any class, by insulting its religion or religious beliefs (Section 295-A,IPC) “, or “ uttering words, etc with deliberate intent to wound religious feeling (Section 298, IPC)”, or similar other provisions which have clearly laid down punishment for offences committed under such acts. But he was not even called to the police station to explain his utterances. He seemed putting it in black and white what others of his ilk were implementing through this ‘successful experiment.’

While Keka Shastry is long dead, the basic idea to ‘honour’ such elements seems to have caught on in circles in this part of South Asia whose politics is based on hate and exclusion. If we have Hindutva supremacists on this side of the border felicitating the Keka Shastris, Islamists fundamentalists on that side of the border honouring the Qadris, Buddhists extremists in adjoining countries glorifying their Wirathus or the fanatics of the Bondu Bala Sene.

Rose petals for fanatics and bullets for saner voices seem to be becoming the new norm.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Kshama Sawant: The Socialist City Council Member in the Belly of the Beast

- Josh Eidelson

On November 5, Seattle voters made Occupy activist and economics professor Kshama Sawant the first avowed socialist city council member in their city’s history – and the country’s first big city socialist council member in decades. The “Socialist Alternative” insurgent, has unseated four-term incumbent Richard Conlin, with the latest batch of mail-in ballots nearly tripling Sawant’s lead to 1,148 votes. 

The Sawant victory comes exactly 97 years after Seattle voters put their first outspoken radical into office, Seattle School Board member Anna Louise Strong. Strong would write about the Wobblies, oppose U.S. entry into World War I and eventually end her days in China, where she was on friendly terms with Mao Zedong.

Following Sawant's victory the right wing conservative propaganda machinery has already started to spin out anti-socialist hysteria. On the 14th of November Josh Eidelson of the web portal Salon spoke to Kshama Sawant, below is a condensed version of the conversation:

It appears you’re on the cusp of winning a major city’s council race as a socialist. How did that happen?

I think the basis for everything that’s happening in Seattle, and everywhere else, is the fallout of the economic crisis … In Seattle, we are seeing a city that is very wealthy but is very unequal, and has become unaffordable for the vast majority of people …

Along with our [state Legislature] campaign last year and [city council] this year, we’ve seen a movement towards $15 an hour through the fast food movement … workers have courageously gone out on one-day strikes … The workers of [nearby airport city] SeaTac and the labor movement, they put a $15 an hour minimum wage initiative on the ballot for SeaTac city, and that is now leading …

All of this is happening in the cauldron of the economic crisis and the burden placed on the shoulders of working people … The conditions that shape people’s consciousness in Seattle are not different from anywhere else. And in fact, there is a deep frustration and disgust with the political system … This is the background in which our campaign has had a resounding echo.

After the 2008 financial crash, were you disappointed that there wasn’t more of a left turn in U.S. policy at the national level?

I think it’s been it’s been demoralizing for the left for a while. But at the same time, I think what we’re seeing is a slow but steady change, and the Occupy movement was a really significant expression of the disenchantment from the system that we knew that everybody was feeling…

In the absence of movements, especially mass movements, people tend to feel atomized, and everybody is privately thinking that “the system is not working for me.” The Occupy movement, what it did was it ended that silence and people were more openly talking about the economic crisis, the fact that the banks got bailed out and the rest of us were left with unemployment, low-wage jobs, and an epidemic of foreclosures and evictions. So I think, contrary to what people thought…It’s really been a period where newer, small but new movements are starting to rise up. There’s been the Occupy Homes campaign in Minnesota, which has actually prevented several foreclosures…And there’s been sort of initial eruptions of the environmental movement.

…Now, what [the] Left has to do is to recognize that there is an opening here, there is a hunger among people in the United States, especially young people, young working people…In reality, what has become a dirty word is capitalism. Young people can see that the system does not offer any solutions. They can see that a two-party system is not working for them. But what is the alternative? We have to provide the alternative…

Boeing workers…rejected this contract that has been forced on them by Boeing executives [who are] holding the state hostage to their demands…Every few years Boeing demands a massive corporate giveaway from the state, and the state each time gives into it – and this is a Democratic governor of the state who was leading this effort. For Boeing workers, it’s very clear that neither of the two parties is going to stand by them. And so the signal that it sends to the labor movement is that we have to have our own political organization.

Monday, November 18, 2013

श्रद्वांजलि: ओमप्रकाश वाल्मीकि (1950-2013)

- सुभाष गाताड़े 

1997 में आयी वह आत्मकथा ‘‘जूठन’’ आते ही चर्चित हुई थी। उस वक्त एक सीमित दायरे में ही उसके लेखक ओमप्रकाश वाल्मिकी का नाम जाना जाता था। मगर हिन्दी जगत में किताब का जो रिस्पान्स था, जिस तरह अन्य भाषाओं में उसके अनुवाद होने लगे, उससे यह नाम दूर तक पहुंचने में अधिक वक्त नहीं लगा। यह अकारण नहीं था कि इक्कीसवीं सदी की पहली दहाई के मध्य में वह किताब अंग्रेजी में अनूदित होकर कनाडा तथा अन्य देशों के विश्वविद्यालयों के पाठयक्रम में शामिल की गयी थी।

उपरोक्त आत्मकथा ‘‘जूठन’ का वह प्रसंग शायद ही कोई भूला होगा, जब सुखदेव त्यागी के घर हो रही अपनी बेटी की शादी के वक्त अपमानित की गयी उस नन्हे बालक (स्वयं ओमप्रकाशजी) एवं उसकी छोटी बहन माया की मां ‘उस रात गोया दुर्गा’ बनी थी और उसने त्यागी को ललकारा था और एक ‘शेरनी’ की तरह वहां से अपनी सन्तानों के साथ निकल गयी थी। कल्पना ही की जा सकती है कि जिला मुजफ्फरनगर के एक गांव में – जो 21 वीं सदी की दूसरी दहाई में भी वर्चस्वशाली जातियों की दबंगई और खाप पंचायतों की मनमानी के लिए कुख्यात है – आज से लगभग साठ साल पहले इस बग़ावत क्या निहितार्थ रहे होंगे। उनकी मां कभी त्यागी के दरवाजे नहीं गयी।

इस नन्हे बालक के मन पर अपनी अनपढ़ मां की यह बग़ावत – जो वर्णसमाज के मानवद्रोही निज़ाम के तहत सफाई के पेशे में मुब्तिला थी और उस पेशे की वजह से ही लांछन का जीवन जीने के लिए अभिशप्त थी – गोया अंकित हो गयी, जिसने उसे एक तरह से तमाम बाधाओं को दूर करने का हौसला दिया।

उस नन्हे बालक का वह दर्द हमेशा उनके साथ रहा इसलिए एक कविता में उन्होंने लिखा था

‘तुम्हारी महानता मेरे लिए स्याह अंधेरा है,,
मैं जानता हूं,/मेरा दर्द तुम्हारे लिए चींटी जैसा/ और तुम्हारा अपना दर्द पहाड़ जैसा
इसलिए, मेरे और तुम्हारे बीच/ एक फासला है/जिसे लम्बाई में नहीं/समय से नापा जाएगा। (जूता)

1997 में प्रकाशित अपनी इस आत्मकथा से बहुचर्चित हुए ओमप्रकाश वाल्मिकी – जिन्होंने अपने विविधतासम्पन्न रचनासंसार से एक नयी ज़मीन तोड़ी – उनका पिछले दिनों इन्तक़ाल हुआ। पिछले लगभग एक साल से उनके अस्वस्थ्य होने के समाचार मिल रहे थे। उनकी आंत का सफल आपरेशन भी हुआ था, मगर फिर तबीयत तेजी से बिगड़ी। और देहरादून के मैक्स अस्पताल में उन्होंने अन्तिम सांस ली।

Poverty Reduction in Post Reform Era: Myths and Reality

- Kishore Jha

In July 2013 Planning Commission came out with data that showed sharp reduction in poverty in the last seven-eight years. According to its data, population living below poverty line has declined from 37.2% in 2004-05 to 21.9% in 2011-12. Pro-liberalization economist and politicians are giving credit to policies of economic reforms for this sharp decline.

Some economists and journalists, who defend the process of economic liberalization, often argue that economic reforms have helped poverty reduction in the country and India would have achieved much more in this field, had it started economic reforms in the 1970s. They argue that poverty in India has reduced at a higher rate in the era of economic reforms and India could never have achieved this in the pre-reform period with 2% or 3 % “Hindu growth rate”.

In other words they are saying that policies in Liberalization Privatization and Globalization (LPG) era have helped in reducing poverty at a much higher rate which did not happen earlier. Their claims call for looking at poverty reduction statistics in the pre and post reform periods.

It is difficult to find a single source that has comparative data of poverty reduction between 1947 to 2102 as there is no study that has collected data across decades using the same method. 

What is available is the following data from the Planning Commission and World Bank which suggests that there is no drastic reduction in poverty in post reform period, despite popular belief.
Planning Commission


39.1 %
37 %
27 %

World Bank

38 %
34 %

If one examines the above data, poverty reduced from 56.4 % to 39 .1% between 1974 and 1988 (pre reform period) as per Planning Commission data. This means that there was a 17.4 % drop in poverty rate in 14 years which translates into almost 1.25 % every year.

If we look into the data between 1988 and 2000 from the same source (12 years of post reform period), poverty rate came down from 39.1 % to 27 %. This translates into a 12.9% drop in 12 years or almost 1 % per year.

Friday, November 15, 2013

First Terrorist of Independent India

- Subhash Gatade
...Government have, however, noticed with regret that in practice members of Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh have not adhered to their professed ideals.
“Undesirable and even dangerous activities have been carried on by the members of the Sangh. It has been found that in several parts of the country individual members of the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh have indulged in acts of violence involving arson, robbery, dacoity and murder and have collected illicit arms and ammunitions. They have been found circulating leaflets, exhorting people to resort to terrorist methods, to collect firearms, to create disaffection against the government and suborn the police and military.”
(The government communique of February 4, 1948, announcing the ban on RSS after Gandhi’s assassination)
On Nathuram Godse, (19 th May 1910 - 15 th Nov 1949) Advani asserts that Godse had “severed links with RSS in 1933… had begun to bitterly criticise the RSS”. This was flatly contradicted by none other than Godse’s brother Gopal, who was also an accused at the trial for conspiracy to murder. He published his book Why I Assassinated Mahatma Gandhi in December 1993. Speaking in New Delhi on the occasion of the release of his book, Gopal Godse revealed what many had suspected—they had both been active members of the RSS (The Statesman; December 24, 1993).
(Ref : Whitewashing Godse is part of the Sangh Parivar’s sordid game, From: Frontline, January 26, 2013)

What could be said to be the first act of terrorism in independent India?

Nathuram Godse
Everybody would agree that killing of Mahatma Gandhi by a Hindu fanatic Nathuram Godse constitutes the first terrorist act in independent India. Godse, a Maharashtrian Brahmin, hailing from Pune was associated with Hindu Mahasabha at the time of Mahatma’s assassination and had his initial forays in the world of politics with the RSS. During his tour of the area Hedgewar, the first supremo of RSS, use to be accompanied by Nathuram , the future assassin of Gandhi. Godse had in fact joined the RSS in 1930, winning prominence as a speaker and organiser.

The world at large knows how the Hindu fanatics had planned the murder of the Mahatma and how the likes of Savarkar and Golwalkar, the second Supremo of RSS could be held to be responsible for creating the ambience of hate which culminated in the gruesome act. Sardar Patel’s letter to Shyama Prasad Mookerjee, who was then member Hindu Mahasabha and who later formed Bharatiya Jansangh with RSS’s support provides enough details about the background (18 th July, 1948)
... our reports do confirm that, as a result of the activities of these two bodies, particularly the former (the RSS), an atmosphere was created in the country in which such a ghastly tragedy (Gandhiji’s assassination) became possible. There is no doubt in my mind that the extreme section of the Hindu Mahasabha was involved in this conspiracy. The activities of the RSS constituted a clear threat to the existence of government and the state. Our reports show that those activities, despite the ban, have not died down. Indeed, as time has marched on, the RSS circles are becoming more defiant and are indulging in their subversive activities in an increasing measure.
If somebody poses before you another simple query relating to similar episodes in the sixty plus year trajectory of independent India - then what would be your response. Perhaps you would like to add the death of Indira Gandhi - killed by her Sikh bodyguards , killing of Rajeev Gandhi - who fell to a suicide attack by a Tamil Hindu woman, or for that matter demolition of the 500 year old Babri mosque by the marauders of the RSS-VHP-BJP-Shiv Sena. If one follows the debate further you would like to underline the 1984 riots ( actually genocide of Sikhs mainly perpetrated by Hindu lumpen elements instigated by the then ruling Congress Party with due connivance of Hindutva brigade), emergence of Khalistani terrorists movement or the eight year old Gujarat genocide executed with military precision allegedly by the RSS and its affiliated organisations led by one of those Hindu Hriday Samrats.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

An Idiot for PM? (Non)Sense of History in NaMo

- Subhash Gatade

'Though this be madness yet there is method in it' 
                                                                       - 'Hamlet', Shakespeare

The 2014 elections aren’t merely about changing the government. The rhetoric ahead of the polls makes one believe that it’s an attempt at once to change historical narratives handed down to successive generation of Indians. And the man in the forefront of it all is the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi.

                                                                  -  11/11/2013 Blogs-Hindustan Times


Wordsmiths of the world need to put in their heads or pull in their socks (you may say) to coin a new word which can rather resonate with what goes on in this part of South Asia in the name of political speeches. Should one call it 'polifiction' or 'politainment' or some similar word. 

Perhaps a word exists and this poor pen pusher is ignorant about it. 

Anyway, the matter has become bit urgent with the feverish preparations which are going on here for the battle royale which would take place in the year 2014 and the not so silent emergence of NaMo on the national scene and the daily dose of half truths, fiction and complete distortion which goes under the name of oratory.

His recent speech in Gujarat which he delivered while inaugurating a hospital could be considered the pinnacle of his 'polifiction'. In the said speech he claimed that Shyama Prasad Mukherjee, was a 'great son of Gujarat and had built India house in London' He also claimed that this 'great son of Gujarat was in regular dialogue with Vivekanand and Dayanand Saraswati' and in his usual penchant for taking credits 'it was his good fortune to be able to bring back the ashthi (ashes) of Mukherjee from Geneva in 2003.'

Any layperson who has brief acquaintance with history or has not spent her/his formative years in one of those Parivar run schools, would share that Mukherjee ' was born in 1902 in the then undivided Bengal, worked with Hindu Mahasabha for quite some time, was part of Nehru's first cabinet, helped found Jansangha - a mass politival platoform for RSS - and died in 50s.' Perhaps anyone can marvel at the ability of a one year old Mukherjee to be in dialogue with Swami Vivekanand - who died in 1903 and would also be keen to know the method adopted by him to have a dialogue with Dayanand Saraswati who had died more than 25 years before his birth.

The fact of the matter is that it was not Mukherjee but Shyamji Krishna Varma from Kutchh Mandvi, (born 4 th October 1857) Gujarat, Indian Revolutionary, lawyer, Journalist, who had gone to London, developed the India house (1902) which later became the living space for many Indian freedom fighters, started an English monthly, ‘The Indian Sociologist’ an organ of political, social and religious reform. History books tell us that Shyamji had died in Geneva in 1930.

Supporters of NaMo can claim that the said speech - which showed his complete ignorance about the important milestone in the trajectory of his own organization, the formation of Bhartiya Jansangh, the first mass political platform launched by RSS itself, - was just slip of tongue and not much should be read into it. If that is the case, then how should one interpret his utterly false claim that Nehru did not even attend Patel's funeral - despite proof to the contrary - or what is the explanation for his 'pearls of wisdom' at Patna rally wherein he is reported to have said that Alexander had come to Bihar and was defeated by Biharis - despite the obvious fact that Alexander never crossed the Ganges - or placing Taxila in Bihar although it is in Pakistan or saying that Chandragupta Maurya the legendary King belonged to the Gupta dynasty. 

What one is concerned here not just slip of tongue here and there - which can happen with anyone - in fact it is a new genre of speech which is on the one hand (according to observers) 'entertaining' and 'captivating' but if one digs further one finds it is built on sheer fiction, to say the least. And there is no spontaneity involved here leading to 'slip of tongue', everything is deliberate, presented before the masses in a packaged form for wider consumption to serve the larger agenda based on exclusion and hate. 

In fact, it would not be off the mark if one says that NaMo has slowly metamorphosed into 'P N Oak' of Indian politics. It need be mentioned here that P N Oak was a very popular 'historian' in Hindutva circles who claimed that 'that Christianity and Islam are both derivatives of Hinduism, or that the Catholic Vatican, Kaaba and the Taj Mahal were once Hindu temples to Shiva'. 

मध्य प्रदेश में बदस्तूर जारी है शिक्षा का भगवाकरण

- जावेद अनीस

हमारे संविधान की उद्देशिका के अनुसार भारत एक समाजवादी, पंथनिरपेक्ष, लोकतंत्रात्मक गणराज्य है। संविधान के अनुसार राजसत्ता का कोई अपना धर्म नहीं होगा। उसके विपरीत संविधान भारत के सभी नागरिकों को सामाजिक, आर्थिक और राजनैतिक न्याय, विचार अभिव्यक्ति, विश्वास, धर्म और उपासना की स्वतंत्रता प्रतिष्ठा और अवसर की समता प्राप्त कराने का अधिकार प्रदान करता है। 

लेकिन मध्यप्रदेश में इसका ठीक इसका बिलकुल उल्टा हो रहा है।पिछले करीब एक दशक से भाजपा शासित सूबे मध्य प्रदेश में शिक्षण संस्थानो में एक खास तरह का राजनीतिक एजेंडा बड़ी खामोशी से लागू किया जा रहा है। 

इस की ताजा बानगी एक बार फिर से तब देखने को मिली जब बीते 1 अगस्त 2013 को प्रदेश की शिवराज सिंह सरकार ने मध्यप्रदेश राजपत्र में अधिसूचना जारी कर मदरसों में भी गीता पढ़ाया जाना अनिवार्य कर दिया था, जिसमें मध्यप्रदेश मदरसा बोर्ड से मान्यता प्राप्त सभी मदरसों में कक्षा तीन से कक्षा आठ तक सामान्य हिन्दी की तथा पहली और दूसरी की विशिष्ट अंग्रेरजी और उर्दू की पाठयपुस्तकों में भगवत गीता में बताये प्रसंगों पर एक एक अध्याय जोड़े जाने की अनुज्ञा की गयी थी और इसके लिए राज्य के पाठ्य पुस्तक अधिनियम में बकायदा जरूरी बदलाव भी किए गए थे। विधानसभा चुनावों से मात्र चार महीने पहले लिए गए इस फैसले ने बड़ा विवाद पैदा कर दिया था और खुद को भाजपा के “वाजपेयी इन वेटिंग” बनाने में लगे मुख्यमंत्री शिवराज सिंह चौहान को भारी विरोध और अपनी अपेक्षाकृत “उदार छवि” को नुकसान पहुचने के डर के चलते बड़ी आनन –फानन में अपना निर्णय वापस लेना पड़ा। 

दरअसल मध्य प्रदेश के सरकारी स्कलों में पहले से ही गीता पढ़ाई जा रही है. राज्य सरकार द्वारा 2011 में गीता को स्कूली पाठ्यक्रम में शामिल करने की घोषणा की थी. इंदौर में 13 नवंबर 2011 को स्कूलों में गीता पढ़ाने के निर्णय की घोषणा करते हुए मुख्यमंत्री ने कहा था कि “हिन्दुओं का पवित्र ग्रन्थ गीता” स्कूलों में पढ़ाया जाएगा भले ही इसका कितना ही विरोध क्यों न हो।” इसका भी नागरिक संगठनो और अल्पसंख्यक समाज द्वारा पुरजोर विरोध किया था। यह मामला हाई कोर्ट तक भी गया था। यह दुर्भाग्य ही कहा जायेगा कि माननीय उच्च न्यायालय ने मध्यप्रदेश शासन के राज्य के स्कूलों में “गीता सार” पढ़ाने के निर्णय पर अपनी मुहर लगाते हुए कहा कि “गीता मूलतः भारतीय दर्शन की पुस्तक है” किसी भारतीय धर्म की नहीं। । अदालत का यह निर्णय कैथोलिक बिशप काउंसिल द्वारा दायर एक याचिका पर आया था जिसमें यह मांग की गई थी कि केवल गीता ही नहीं बल्कि सभी धर्मों में निहित नैतिक मूल्यों से स्कूली विद्यार्थियों को परिचित कराया जाना चाहिए। मध्यप्रदेश उच्च न्यायालय इस निष्कर्ष पर पहुंचा कि चूंकि गीता दार्शनिक ग्रंथ है,धार्मिक नहीं इसलिए राज्य सरकार गीता का पठन-पाठन जारी रख सकती है और स्कूलों में अन्य धर्मों द्वारा प्रतिपादित नैतिक मूल्यों का ज्ञान दिया जाना आवश्यक नहीं है। इस आदेश के बाद सरकार के शिक्षा विभाग का हौसला बढा जिसका परिणाम ये एक अगस्त की अधिसूचना थी जिसमें गीता के पाठ पढाये जाने को मदरसों में भी अनिवार्य बनाया गया था।

A Gullgotia's Dairy Part- III

- Nagesh DB Rao

[This is the second part of the author's account of firsthand experience of the Indian variety of neoliberal education. Part memoir, part commentary, part unapologetic rant,A Gullgotia’s Diary hopes to reach you before Galgotias does. To read A Gullgotia's Dairy Part- I click here To read A Gullgotia's Dairy Part- II click here]


It struck me that, like this inappropriate building, I too had (been) parachuted in from abroad. I had some experience of higher education in India, having done my B.Sc. and M.A. in Bangalore, but that was as a student, and it was two decades ago. I was nervous about my unfamiliarity with the system, for sure, but also about my unfamiliarity with the culture, the language, the people. For a while there, I lost all confidence in my spoken Hindi, as I struggled to make sense of the rural U. P. accent I heard in Greater Noida. I assumed that I would spend a few months after I arrived at Galgotias University, perhaps a year, getting acquainted with the place. At work, I had hoped to find other faculty to collaborate with, and to ease gradually into the job I thought I’d been hired to do–help build an interdisciplinary programme in the humanities and social sciences.

But the idea of slow and steady organic growth is alien to the corporate university, whose main objective is to make a lot of money, and make it quick. Acquiring all this farmland (whether by hook or by crook, who knows?), constructing this Canadian-designed campus, and getting the U. P. state government to “deem” it a university, not to mention all the fancy advertising and PR, must have cost the Galgotia family a pretty penny for sure.

So the owner’s objective, as was communicated to us often, was to “break even” as quickly as possible. This meant expanding student enrollment faster than the infrastructure or the staff were able to handle. By the end of the year, there were perhaps 4,000 students crammed into two buildings. And it meant getting degree-granting programs off the ground at a pace that made thoughtful and appropriate curriculum design impossible.

In the corporate universe, advertising precedes existence. Galgotias’ two-page ads in various magazines advertise a wide variety of programs; it looks like a fully functioning university. Much of it is smoke and mirrors (at least it was so at the time), and to maintain their legitimacy in the eyes of the government regulator of higher education, the University Grants Commission (UGC) and accreditation agencies, they had to fast-track the creation of programmes they claimed they already had. The ads claimed, for instance, that GU offered Bachelor’s, Master’s, and Ph.D. degrees in English, while in fact they were only just beginning to get the Bachelor’s programme off the ground. One day, ahead of some sort of visit by UGC inspectors, a couple of classrooms were given a new sign on their doors, and voila! we now had a School of Nursing.

Magic! Photo: wonderlane

So it isn’t with pride that I say that I designed the curriculum for the B. A. English Honours programme in all of ten days (three days longer than the week I’d been given). Mind you, I hadn’t seen the inside of a classroom yet , hadn’t met any students yet, and there I was, designing the curriculum. Foolishly, I went along with it, eager to prove my usefulness; I succumbed to the pressures of the fevered rush to get the programme off the ground. I must admit that the curriculum was, like the building we worked in, a mismatch and inappropriate for the students who enrolled in the programme. But more on this later.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Hurt, Despair, Longing, Rage and Revolt

- Jonathan Neale

This article is an attempt to say something about a debate on the British left about whether neoliberalism has changed the working class in ways which make struggle weaker. the author argue that neoliberalism has changed us in ways that make struggle harder, and easier, and different, and more explosive.

Something has to be fixed

For two years I have been trying an experiment in Britain ans the US. I say to someone :"Lots of people believe that there is something terribly wrong with this country- it has to be fixed - it won't be fixed - and no one is public life speaks for me."

Almost everyone nods and say, "Yes. That's me. I think that."

Every social occasion I go to now, in the pub, people over for a meal, a family do, the conversation turns to: what can we do?

This is a conversation about class, although people often don't put it to themselves that way.

Let's remind ourselves what class means. It's a relationship. A worker is anyone with a manager. The working class is everyone with a manager.

Some people say class has changed, and matters less now. that's wrong. Class has changed, and it matters more now. Our noses have been rubbed in class inequality every day for years. Inequality has grown in almost every country in the world. The power of management has increased at almost everyone's work. There is an epidemic of petty bullying and petty humiliation. Everyone has a story of something management did that invaded their dignity or a basic value.

Inequality increased right across our lives. Every increase in inequality is also an attack on some workers. A library closure, for example, is also an attack on library workers. And the language and values of the market are everywhere.

So people are full of hurt, anger and longing. It's not just that they hate the Tories. (Some do, some don't.) It goes deeper. They despair, and feel trapped.

What happened? What can we do?

How We Got Here

Our union movement in Britain used to be deeply decent and reformist. From 1939 to 1975 our grandparents built various kinds of rank and file networks. At the core were shop stewards, short strikes and a constant struggle over control at work. This was true of miners, car workers, dockers, hospital cleaners and social workers.

Steward, union leaders and workers were all trying to get a bigger piece of a growing economy. People's lives were getting better. Workers were more and more confident. Militants began to believe that confidence was crucial - each little victory could lead on to the next.

Serious Trouble

Then capitalism ran into serious trouble. Profits fell about 1970 and have stayed low. Capitalists in Britain and everywhere launched what we now call neoliberalism. This was an attempt to get profits back up by cutting the share of the national income going to working people. That meant holding down wages, benefits, pensions and services, trying to break our unions and making everyone more unequal. 

Neoliberalism was not a hobby for the powerful. It was critically important for them to make it work, because capitalism is competitive. Companies that don't make profits die. Without enough profits, Corporations fail.

But neoliberalism didn't work. Since 2008 we have all been trapped in a long economic crisis, with low profits and high unemployment. the capitalists' reaction has been austerity. That isn't working either.

But after 1970 our side, the workers, the people with a manager, ran into troubles too. The first problem was the collapse of "communism" in 1989. The soviet Union was socialist like cats are mice, and like torture is love. But even a lot of people in the Labour Party thought that Russia was somehow an alternative to capitalism. When that fell, almost everyone accepted the idea that communism had not worked and was not possible.