Friday, February 28, 2014

Balancing Interests: Two reasons to oppose the current modalities of reservation adopted by Delhi University

- Hany Babu

Delhi University teachers are witnessing a peculiar phase. On the one hand, a large number of teachers who have been relegated to the status of "adhoc teachers" for years on end see some glimmer of hope for a much deserved and long awaited "permanent" status as the University and many of its colleges have started advertising for permanent posts after a long span. On the other hand, some groups of teachers from the Scheduled Castes, the Scheduled Tribes, and the Other Backward Classes have moved the High Court challenging the way in which the University and its colleges have adopted the 200 point post based recruitment roster (in the matter of Delhi University SC/ST/OBC Teachers Forum and another vs. University of Delhi and others (WP(C) 803 of 2014 at the High Court of Delhi). 

For a large number of onlookers, the scenario is a bit bewildering as the University, for the first time, seems to have made some positive steps towards the proper implementation of reservation as reflected by two factors: (i) the number of seats earmarked for the reserved categories has definitely gone up as reflected in the advertisements that have come out both for the departments and for the colleges in the university; and (ii) for the first time, reservation has been extended in the cadres of associate professor and professor for the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes. What, then, has driven the teachers from the Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, and the Other Backward Classes to court, people wonder.

One question that bothers many is this: when things seem to have taken a positive turn for the Scheduled Castes, the Scheduled Tribes, and the Other Backward Classes, is it justifiable that a group of teachers have approached the High Court? Maybe they do have some grievance, but, then, doesn't their moving the Court have the undesirable consequence that appointments may get stalled, in which case the interest of thousands of adhoc teachers will get affected. Some even go to the extent of accusing the teachers who have moved the Court of having ulterior motives, or of having been motivated by political factions that may have their own vested interest in stalling the appointments. Interestingly, a group who had always seemed to be unhappy with the reservation policy have also become quite active in hurling such accusations. On the other side, the groups pushing for speedy appointments are accused of being supporters of an administration that has shown scant regard for a dialogic engagement with teachers and students who, for quite justifiable reasons, have differed with and have opposed vehemently the views of the administrators. Even if we give a long rope, the fact that it is more or less the same groups that have supported all the reforms of the administration and that press for speedy appointments with the existing modalities begs for some explanation. 

The supporters of reservation in Delhi University, thus, find themselves in a quandary as they have a double burden on their shoulders. They need to justify their action of moving the Court to a general public, who by and large have been indifferent (if not antipathetic) to reservation. More importantly, they need to convince the "adhoc teachers" that the damage that will be caused to the Scheduled Castes, the Scheduled Tribes, and the Other Backward Classes if the University and its colleges proceed with the current recruitment drive is much graver than the hardship caused to the thousands of adhoc teachers if the appointments do get stalled because of the intervention of the Court. 

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Whose "Hurt Sentiment"? On Pulping of Wendy Doniger's Book - ASEAK

- Association of Students for Equitable Access to Knowledge (ASEAK)

From Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses to Wendy Doniger’s The Hindus: An Alternative History, we are witness to an increasingly regressive trend of banning books, films and art in the name of ‘hurt sentiments’. However, while in a plural and diverse society as ours where sentiments are routinely hurt, when do certain instances of ‘hurt sentiments’ translate into the clamping down of such ‘hurtful’ narratives, leading to their censorship and banning? The aggressive intolerance towards any effort that challenges the dominant discourse on religion, caste, gender, sexuality, nation, etc. points us in a direction where knowledge produced takes the shape of propaganda. In the face of this attack, let us reclaim our right to think, question, challenge and criticize – the pillars of knowledge production.

To address and discuss the issue a public meeting was organized by Association of Students for Equitable Access to Knowledge (ASEAK) on 26th February at Delhi School Economic. The public meeting was address by Mukul Mangalik (Associate professor, History, Ramjas College), Apoorvanand (Professor, Dept. of Hindi, Delhi University), Noor Zaheer (Writer and cultural activist) and Sanjay Kak (filmmaker). Professor Uma Chakravarti could not make it to the meeting, but a statement sent by her was read out. 

Public Meeting: Whose "Hurt Sentiment"?

During the public meeting, ASEAK also issued a STATEMENT condemning the withdrawal and pulping Doniger's book. The text of the statement is reproduced below:  


ASEAK condemns Penguin India’s cowardly decision to buckle under pressure from conservative lobbies such as the Shiksha Bachao Andolan and to have agreed to withdraw Professor Wendy Doniger’s book The Hindus: An Alternative History, and pulp the remaining copies of the same. We identify this as the most recent incidence of the growing attack on the freedom of expression and the right to criticize in our country. It also serves to remind us of the growing culture of aggressive intolerance that is characterizing the transformation taking place in the political landscape of India, where holding different and dissenting viewpoints is increasingly being censured/vilified, through the subversion of institutions meant to uphold democratic virtues, or by outright force. The Doniger affair is a wake up call for those of us who think that the various spheres of our lives remain untouched by the regressive transformations we see in the political culture around us. The case underlines the fact that the political shift underway has massive implications for our work as academics and for the process of knowledge production in a democratic society such as ours.

We stand resolutely against the censuring of expression and censorship of works of scholarship in the name of ‘hurt sentiments’. Be it in the name of religion, sexuality, nationalism or any other self-held beliefs, the logic of ‘hurt sentiments’ is an obscurantist device employed by self-appointed custodians of the reigning morality of our social order. These actors, be they religious fundamentalists, regional chauvinists, ultra nationalists or mega corporations are interested in maintaining a singular narrative about what they stand to define for society. This is so because they draw their authority by maintaining only one version, one that they script, about the Truth. They are threatened by critical enquiries and by the very act of questioning of their self-held beliefs, which they propagate as the Truth. If a belief cannot stand the weight of questioning, then we believe it is only just that it should be allowed to crumble under the same.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

National Convention for Democracy and Secularism - New Delhi, February 27, 2014

People's Alliance for Democracy and Secularism
National Convention
27th February 2014, Hindi Bhavan, Near ITO, New Delhi

The spectre of communal politics is once again haunting the country. The recent violence in western Uttar Pradesh should be taken as a warning. Added to this is the attraction among sections of the public for authoritarian solutions. The coming general elections may prove to be a watershed. There is a real danger that political forces which have routinely violated democratic rights of ordinary citizens on the basis of their religion, language or sub-national identities, may succeed in their long term goal of establishing an authoritarian and fascist state power. The threat is not only to minorities; an authoritarian state will attack democratic rights of all.

Recent developments have deep roots. Even though Indian state is governed by a secular constitution, communal forces of all colours have thrived in our society. All of them are marked by intolerance, patriarchal attitudes and the habit of unleashing violence in the name of 'hurt sentiments'. Nearly all political parties play upon communal identities and sentiments. Communal tendencies are present in media, bureaucracy, and popular culture. Nor can these be separated from the widespread casteism and gender violence. All Indians who value their democratic rights, including working poor, women, and oppressed castes and minorities, should ideally be standing against communal-authoritarian forces. We are the overwhelming majority of Indians, yet no viable political force exists to mobilise and fight for our aspirations for a democratic and secular India.

Communalism can be resisted and defeated only by strengthening democratic institutions and practices. The People's Alliance for Democracy and Secularism (P.A.D.S.) is an attempt of democratic and anti-communal organisations and individuals to deepen the roots of democracy and secularism in Indian society. It is organising a National Convention for Democracy and Secularism in Delhi on 27th February. Large number of democratic and anti-communal organisations and individuals from different parts of the country are expected to participate. The convention will be a day long exercise in analysis, planning and strategising against communal-authoritarian forces, both in the immediate context of coming general elections, and the long term goal of building a democratic and secular society.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Modi and The Art of ‘Disappearing’ of Untouchability

- Subhash Gatade
It is a story attributed to a famous Saint from Middle Ages – a votary of the idea of Brahma Satya, Jagat Mithya (Brahma is the Only Truth, Rest is All Illusion). Once this gentleman was walking with his Shishya (disciple) on a road and suddenly a elephant appeared from nowhere and rushed towards this duo. Abruptly ending his discussion on Maya (illusion) the Guru instructed his Shishya to just run away to save himself. When both of them were at a safe place, the exasperated Shishya asked the Guru, why did he ask him to run knowing well that everything else is an ‘illusion’. Without winkling his eyelid the Guru said 'Gajopi Mithya, Palayanopi Mithya' (The elephant was also an illusion and our running away was also an illusion).
One does not know whether the famous sage had visited Gujarat or not but his influence seems palpable there at least among the ruling elite. If the Guru could ‘invisibilise’ the elephant calling it an illusion, here in Gujarat an age old problem like untouchability could be similarly ‘disappeared’ by terming it a matter of ‘perception’.
Appears unbelievable?
Perhaps you can have a look at a Gujarat government sponsored report titled “Impact of Caste Discrimination and Distinctions on Equal Opportunities: A Study of Gujarat”, authored by Centre for Environment Planning and Technology University (CEPT) University scholars led by Prof R. Parthasarathy, which calls caste discrimination a matter of “perceptions”.
In his blog "True Lies" senior journalist Rajiv Shah has provided detailed critiqued of the study.

To put in a nutshell this CEPT report is a governmental response to an exhaustive study titled ‘Understanding Untouchability’ done by Ahmedabad based NGO ‘Navsarjan Trust’ with the help of Robert F Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights. (2009) which demonstrated with concrete data the wide prevalence of untouchability both in public and private spheres in interaction between scheduled castes (SCs) and non-scheduled castes (non-SCs), as well as within SCs: among the several jatis in rural Gujarat.  This report covered around 1,600 villages in Gujarat, did complete survey of these villages based on few parameters ranging from temple entry to the use of common well, and similar other factors. According to ‘Navsarjan’ out of the villages covered 98 per cent still practised untouchability.
It is important to note that the results of the Navsarjan study were widely covered by the media e.g. Times of India carried out stories based on the study for three days [‘No Temple Entry for Dalits in Gujarat’ (December 7, 2009), ‘Vibrant Gujarat? 98% Dalits have to Drink Tea in Separate Cups’ (December 8, 2009), and ‘Dalit Kids Shamed at Mid-day Meals’ (December 9, 2009)]. The media also raised questions on the state government’s tall claim of a ‘vibrant Gujarat’. A Gujarati version of the report ‘Aabhadchhet ni Bhal’ was also published for wider circulation.
Although it was not a first study of its kind, looking at the comprehensive nature of the work undertaken the Gujarat Government could have accepted its findings or at least looked at it more sympathetically. Perhaps it could have been taken up as a wake-up call so that the tremendous hiatus between all talk of ‘Swarnim Gujarat’ and the actual situation on the ground could have become more explicit prompting the government as well as members of civil society to take up sincere efforts to ameliorate the situation.
We can see that things did not move the way any sane and just person would have imagined.
Looking at the fact that the ongoing debate had the potential of putting a spanner in the well cultivated image of a Samras (harmonious) Gujarat under Modi, a panicky government asked CEPT to review and verify Navsarjan’s findings. In fact, the government seemed so keen to give a clean chit to itself that it adopted a two pronged approach to tackle the uncomfortable situation in which it found itself. Apart from commissioning the above mentioned study it constituted a committee under the chairmanship of the then minister for social justice, Fakirbhai Vaghela and secretaries of different concerned departments to refute the findings of the report. The government instructed its officers to get affidavits from scheduled caste village residents regarding non-existence of untouchability.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Mirror ..Mirror on the Wall !: Who Were Those 'Bad Elements' Mr Bhagwat?

- Subhash Gatade

'Cat drinks milk with closed eyes and thinks the world is not watching it'

(Marathi Proverb)


Rare have been occasions in recent times that the RSS, with all its anushangik (affiliated) organisations on their toes, is engaged in dousing the fire in which it has caught itself unawares. Reason being the 'interview' of one of its own Pracharaks (wholetimer) turned terrorist named Swami Aseemanand which was published in a leading magazine of our times. (click here to here the Caravan Magazine article). According to the RSS, it is a 'concocted' one and has even issued a handwritten letter supposedly written by the interviewee 'denying' that any such interview occurred whereas the magazine has stood the ground and has even made transcripts of the said interview and its audio recordings public.

Perhaps with the 'denial' by the interviewee the matter should have ended there for the RSS, but this does not seem to be the case. And for reasons which is known to itself, it is trying to 'clarify' its stand on various aspects which came up during the interview and is trying to distance itself - once again - from Swami Aseemanand alias Naba Kumar Sarkar, a disciplined activist of the 'Parivar' for last more than three decades, who hails from the same village in West Bengal where Ramkrishna Paramhans was born.

The reasons for this apparently strange behaviour are not difficult to understand.

It is for the first time that the role of Mohan Bhagwat, the Sangh Supremo himself- the man who would be declared 'kingmaker' if his 'anointee' manages to reach the top post - has come under scanner as it is being claimed in the said interview that he not only 'blessed' one of the most violent phase of Hindutva politics in recent times - popularly known as Hindutva terror - but in fact had its tacit support.

And with the Supremo himself under scanner and calls for fresh investigations from different quarters getting louder, nervousness seems writ large on their faces. The left parties, especially CPM has even demanded "[a] CBI probe into the claims made by Swami Aseemanand, that the RSS leadership had "sanctioned" these terror acts'." The pathetic situation in which RSS finds itself today can be gauged from all those clarifications which it is officially making regarding Aseemanand. RSS declared in a press release that Aseemanand was 'never a leader in the RSS' and 'such reports are mischievous and misleading'. Dr Manmohan Vaidya, Akhil Bharatiya Prachar Pramukh emphasised that 'Swami Aseemanand has never held any post at any level in the RSS'. (

Poor Dr Manmohan Vaidya, somebody should have reminded him that RSS had fielded Ram Madhav few years back to discuss l'affaire Aseemanand when he was ultimately nabbed by the intelligence sleuths and in fact, had a different take on the whole issue. The said press conference was held in the second week of February 2011 in the national capital. It was the time when law of the land had finally caught up with the real perpetrators behind Ajmer and Mecca Masjid bomb blasts and the terror module comprising of Devender Gupta, Lokesh Sharma, Ramji Kalasangra, Assemanand and others had come to the limelight. With RSS pracharaks and the expert bomb maker Ramji Kalasangra and his associate Sandeep Dange still absconding, the CBI had to put a reward on them for information leading to their arrest. Giving a completely new and almost unforeseen twist to the Aseemanand episode, Madhav had said that Aseemanand had “in fact” left the RSS in 2006. As a good spokesperson, he had dished out the usual disclaimers in the beginning itself : RSS does not believe in violence etc.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

The Unending Amnesia Over Hindutva Terror

- Subhash Gatade
..[A]seemanand’s description of the plot in which he was involved became increasingly detailed. In our third and fourth interviews, he told me that his terrorist acts were sanctioned by the highest levels of the RSS—all the way up to Mohan Bhagwat, the current RSS chief, who was the organisation’s general secretary at the time. Aseemanand told me that Bhagwat said of the violence, “It’s very important that it be done. But you should not link it to the Sangh.”
Aseemanand told me about a meeting that allegedly took place, in July 2005. ..In a tent pitched by a river several kilometres away from the temple, Bhagwat and Kumar met with Aseemanand and his accomplice Sunil Joshi. Joshi informed Bhagwat of a plan to bomb several Muslim targets around India. According to Aseemanand, both RSS leaders approved, and Bhagwat told him, “You can work on this with Sunil. We will not be involved, but if you are doing this, you can consider us to be with you.”
(Reportage: The Believer: Swami Aseemanand’s radical service to the Sangh, by LEENA GITA REGHUNATH, 1 February 2014, Caravan Magazine)
‘Law is an ass’ a phrase which was used by Charles Dickens in ‘Oliver Twist’ in a completely different context today finds a deep resonance in this part of South Asia. And nothing illustrates this better than the predicament of what is popularly known as Hindutva terror.

The manner in which people who supposedly have been planners, masterminds, funders of the whole operations have been allowed to go scot free, the way in which one finds acquittal of accused case after case, the manner in which a supposedly secular government at the hustings has declined to ban proto-fascist organisations who were found to be involved in criminal terrorist operations or the apathy with which the media - which calls itself watchdog of democracy - has preferred to softpedal the threat it poses to the foundations of the Republic itself is unprecedented.

And the less said about the curious case of Lt Col Purohit, it is better. This gentleman, who was with the Military Intelligence Wing, is languishing in jail since last more than five years as an accused/key figure in many terror attacks, involving many RSS and other Hindutva activists but has yet not been suspended by his bosses and is in an uneviable situation the world has rarely witnessed where he is regularly receiving his salary with all the doles involved. (As an aside it need be mentioned here that this information was made available to the outside world by one of his co-accused himself - an ex army man Ramesh Upadhyaya - who filed RTI application to get the information.) And the Supreme Court has blocked the National Investigating Agency (NIA) from questioning him.

But the most urgent thing on the agenda is the fresh revelation that top leaders of the Hindutva brigade were not only very much in the know of this violent phase but were infact its real patrons.

In her reportage ‘The Believer : Swami Aseemanand’s radical service to the Sangh’ Leena Gita Raghunath (February 2014 issue) has provided details of her four interviews with Assemanand in a span of more than two years which bring forth this lesser reported aspect. The total duration of these interviews ran into 09 hours and 26 minutes. 

It is widely reported that Assemanand, who started to work with RSS since his childhood and later focused his activities with affiliated organisation of the Sangh called Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram is presently on trial on charges which involves murder, criminal conspiracy and sedition, in connection with three bombings which witnessed 82 deaths. His name also finds mention in two other charge sheets involving two other blast cases but has not yet been formally declared an accused. Together, the five attacks killed 119 people.

This man who according to the author ‘is perhaps the most prominent face of Hindu extremist terrorism.’ is happy that he has been “. kept in the same cell as Gopal Godse,” and by his ‘..own account, hosted planning sessions, selected targets, provided funds for the construction of IEDs, and sheltered and otherwise aided those who planted the bombs.’

Describing his meetings with RSS Supremo Mohan Bhagwat and one of its key leaders Indresh Kumar he told the author: 
“Then they told me, ‘Swamiji, if you do this we will be at ease with it. Nothing wrong will happen then. Criminalisation nahin hoga (It will not be criminalised). If you do it, then people won’t say that we did a crime for the sake of committing a crime. It will be connected to the ideology. This is very important for Hindus. Please do this. You have our blessings.’”

Monday, February 3, 2014

Protest March held against Racism, Racist Violence and Vigilantism

This evening a protest march against racism, racist violence and vigilantism was organised by New Socialist Initiative (NSI). The immediate context of the protest march was the recent brutal murder of Nido Taniam - a young student of Arunachal Pradesh by a mob in Lajpat Nagar; vigilante mob assault led by the Law Minister of Delhi against African women in Khirki village; and broad daylight assault on two Manipuri women in Kotla-Mubarakpur. Hundreds of people joined the protest march. The march started from Delhi University metro station at 5.30 pm and culminated into a public meeting infront of International Women's Hostel and Northeast Women's Hostel in Indra Vihar (Mukherjee Nagar). Large number of students and activists spoke at the meeting and resolved to carry forward the fight against not just racism but also against all kinds of oppression and discrimination.

The protesters reiterated that not only is there a pressing need to talk about explicit racism but also to recognise the subtler ways in which our underlying prejudices reveal themselves. The fact remains that racism is not an issue of individuals and circumstances but is structural and is institutionalized into the very fabric of our society. 

As of now racism is not even recognized as a problem. The attitude towards people from Northeast and Africa is so normalised and commonplace that the idea of racism as a manifestation of unacceptable bias, prejudice and discrimination is alien. The demand that the Government and the larger society awakens to this issue and takes into consideration the rampant racism which is rooted in spaces all around us is a basic but an essential one. The fact that we have to even demand this basic minimum only goes to show the abysmal degree of neglect.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

धारा 377:- कौन तय करेगा प्राकृतिक-अप्राकृतिक, वैध-अवैध

-अंजलि सिन्हा

सुप्रीम कोर्ट ने धारा 377 पर दाखिल पुनर्विचार याचिका खारिज कर दी है। यह याचिका केन्द्र सरकार तथा नाज़ फाउण्डेशन ने दायर की थी। न्यायमूर्ति एच एल दत्त और न्यायमूर्ति एस जे मुखोपाध्याय की खंडपीठ ने पुनर्विचार करने से इन्कार किया है। मामला यह है कि संविधान की धारा 377 जो कि समलैंगिक सम्बन्धों को अपराध की श्रेणी में रखती है, उसे समाप्त करने के लिए लम्बे समय से मांग उठती रही है। संघर्षरत लोगों को उस समय बड़ी राहत मिली थी जब दिल्ली हाईकोर्ट ने केस पर यह फैसला दिया था कि समलैंगिक सम्बन्ध अपराध नहीं हैं। (2 जुलाई 2009)

मालूम हो कि हाईकोर्ट ने प्रस्तुत फैसला सुनाते हुए संविधान निर्माताओं द्वारा - खासकर डा. अम्बेडकर द्वारा की गयी संवैधानिक नैतिकता पर विस्तृत चर्चा की थी। उसने कहा था कि संवैधानिक नैतिकता नागरिकों के बीच समानता का आधार है क्योंकि सार्वजनिक नैतिकता, जो एक तरह से समाज में वर्चस्वशाली लोगों की नैतिकता होती है वह कभी भी जनतंत्रा की गारंटी नहीं कर सकती और विशेषकर अपने नागरिकों -खासकर हाशिये पर पड़े नागरिकों को - समानता और सम्मान सुनिश्चित नहीं कर सकती।

जाहिर है कि सुप्रीम कोर्ट ने इस मसले की इस तरह व्याख्या करने से इन्कार किया है और ऐसा हस्तक्षेप करने के लिए विधायिका को कहा है। याद रहे कि धारा 377 अंग्रेजों ने उस वक्त लागू की थी जब उन्हें लगता था कि उनकी सेना और उनकी बेटियों को पूरब के अवगुण लगेंगे। इस धारा को उन्होंने अपने देश में यह कहते हुए समाप्त किया है कि आपस में सहमति रखनेवाले वयस्कों के लिए ऐसे सम्बन्ध कोई अपराध नहीं कहे जा सकते।

हाईकोर्ट के इस फैसले को चुनौती देते हुए बाबा रामदेव की संस्था से लेकर तमाम धार्मिक संगठनों ने, व्यक्तियों ने सुप्रीम कोर्ट में अपील दायर की थी तथा धारा 377 को कायम रखने की अपील की थी। 11 दिसम्बर 2013 को सुप्रीम कोर्ट ने हाईकोर्ट के इस फैसले को निरस्त कर दिया  और फिर एक बार समलैंगिक सम्बन्ध अपराध के दायरे में आ गए। ज्ञात हो कि इस आचरण के लिए उम्र कैद तक की सज़ा हो सकती है। यह कानून पुलिस द्वारा लोगों को प्रताडित करने का सबसे आसान हथियार भी बन जाता है।

अप्पो दीपो भव ! स्वामी दयानन्द, विवेकानन्द एवं महात्मा ज्योतिबा फुले के बहाने चन्द बातें..

सुभाष गाताडे

कल्पना की उड़ान भरना हर व्यक्ति को अच्छा लगता है।
कभी कभी मैं सोचता हूं कि आज से 100 साल बाद जबकि हम सभी यहां तक कि इस सभागार में मौजूद अधिकतर लोग बिदा हो चुके होंगे तो आने वाले समय के इतिहासलेखक हमारे इस कालखण्ड के बारेमें, जिससे हम गुजर रहे हैं, जिसकी एक एक घटना-परिघटना को लेकर बेहद उद्वेलित दिखते हैं, ‘हमऔर वेकी बेहद संकीर्ण परिभाषा को लेकर अपने पारिवारिक, सामाजिक एवं राजनीतिक फैसले लेते हैं, क्या कहेंगे ? आज हमारे लिए जो जीवन मरण के मसले बने हैं और जिनकी पूर्ति के नाम पर हम किसी भी हद तक जाने को तैयार हैं, उनके बारे में उनकी क्या राय होगी ? क्या वे इस सदी में सामने आए जनसंहारों के अंजामकर्ताओं को लेकर उतनीही अस्पष्टता रखेंगे और कहेंगे कि मारे गए लोग दरअसल खुद ही अपनी मौत के जिम्मेदार थे, जिन्होंने खुद मृत्यु को न्यौता दिया था ? क्या वह किसी वैश्विक मानवता के तब लगभग सर्वस्वीकृत फलसफे के तहत इस दौर की घटनाओं को देखेंगे और अपने अपने चिरवैरियोंके साथ हमारे रक्तरंजित संग्रामों पर एक अफसोस भरी हंसी हंस देंगे ?
स्पष्ट है कि स्थान एवं समय की दूरियां किसी विशाल कालखण्ड की वस्तुनिष्ठ आलोचना करने का मौका प्रदान करती हैं। दरअसल जब हम खुद किसी प्रवाह/धारा का हिस्सा होते हैं तब चाह कर भी बहुत वस्तुनिष्ठ नहीं हो पाते हैं, समुद्र की खतरनाक लगनेवाली लहरों पर सवार तैराक की तुलना में किनारे पर बैठा वह शख्स कई बार अधिक समझदार दिख सकता है, जिसे भले तैरना न आता हों, मगर जिसके पास लहरों का लम्बा अध्ययन हो।
सौ साल से अधिक वक्त़ गुजर गया उन्नीसवीं सदी की इस त्रायी के सबसे युवासदस्य विवेकानन्द का इन्तक़ाल हुए। इस दौरान निश्चित ही बहुत कुछ बदला है। राजनीतिक आज़ादी मिली है। समाजी जीवन ने भी बहुत करवट ली है। बहुत कुछ बदला है।
मगर बहुत कुछ नहीं भी बदला है।
आज जो मुल्क हमारे सामने है उसमें हम इन तीनों शख्सियतों के अक्स को आसानी से देख सकते हैं। निश्चित ही इसके अलावा तमाम अन्य शख्सियतें या तंजीमों/संगठनों के अक्स देखे जा सकते हैं जिन्होंने अवाम की दशा एवं दिशा बदलने के लिए अपने हिसाब से काम किया।
सेमिनार के लिए भेजे गए कन्सेप्ट नोटमें इन तीनों के बारे में चन्द बातें लिखी गयी हैं
विवेकानन्द मानते थे कि लड़ाकू हिन्दुइजम के पुनर्जीवन के जरिए वास्तविक सामाजिक आजादी हासिल हो सकती हैजबकि दयानन्द सरस्वती के बारे में लिखा गया है कि किस तरह वहअतीत को पुनर्जीवित करना चाहते थे,’ अगर हम अगल बगल देखेंगे तो आसानी से ऐसी ताकतों को हमारे बीच पहचान सकते हैं जो किसी न किसी रूप में विवेकानन्द को आदर्श मान कर चल रही हैं ; जो दयानन्द के नक्शेकदम पर चलना चाहते हैं। और ज्योतिबा ने जिस जातिविहीन, अतीत से पूरी तरह विच्छेद करनेवाले, स्त्राीमुक्ति के लिए प्रयासरत समाज का तसव्वुर किया था, उस धारा के अनुगामी भी मिल जाते हैं।
वैसे इसके पहले कि हम प्रस्तुतं विषय की विवेचना करना शुरू कर दें मैं चाहूंगा कि अपने मन की आंखों के सामने सबसे पहले इन तीनों शख्सियतों को लाने की कोशिश करें और यह देखनेकी कोशिश करें कि स्मृति-विस्मृति के अनवरत जारी द्वंद से छन कर इनके बारे में क्या क्या बातें सामने आती हैं ?
हमारे मन की आंखों के सामने उस छोटेसे मूलशंकर की छवि आती है जो रात में जग रहा है और शिव की मूर्ति पर बेखौफ दौड़ते चूहों को देख रहा है और सवालों का एक छोटा घेरा उसके इर्दगिर्द खड़ा है, यह सर्वशक्तिमानकहा जानेवाला ईश्वर जिसे सभी लोग पूजते हैं, वह अगर खुद की रक्षा नहीं कर पा रहा है तो भक्तों की कहां से कर सकेगा ? हम फिर युवा मूलशंकर से भी रूबरू होते हैं जो अपने तमाम प्रश्नों के साथ जगह जगह दौरे पर निकला है, वहीं उसे अपने गुरू दयानन्द सरस्वती (12 फरवरी 1824 -30 अक्तूबर 1883) नाम से सम्बोधित करते हैं। वेद एवं संस्कृत के प्रकाण्ड विद्वान, वैदिक विचारधारा के पुनर्जीवन के लिए प्रयास, संस्थापक आर्य समाज, हिन्दू धर्म में व्याप्त मूर्तिपूजा और कर्मकाण्ड का विरोध। सत्यार्थ प्रकाश नामक ग्रंथ की रचना। और ढेर सारी बातें।
रामकृष्ण परमहंस के परम शिष्य स्वामी विवेकानन्द (12 जनवरी 1863 – 4 जुलाई 1902) का नाम लेने पर 1893 में शिकागो में आयोजित पार्लियामेन्ट आफ वर्ल्ड रिलीजन्स में हिन्दु धर्म का परिचय देते हुए उनका बहुचर्चित व्याख्यान याद आता है। पश्चिमी जगत में वेदान्त एवं योग के दर्शनों के प्रसार में उनके योगदान की चर्चा सामने आती है, रामकृष्ण मठ की स्थापना की उनकी पहल, या बर्तानिया की हुकूमत के अन्तर्गत भारत में हिन्दु धर्म के पुनर्जीवन में उनके हस्तक्षेप या जगह-जगह व्याख्यानों का सिलसिला सभी कुछ आंखों के सामने नमूदार हो जाता है। और बमुश्किल 39 साल की उम्र में उनके देहान्त का मंज़र भी सामने आता है।
बहुजनों, शूद्रों अतिशूद्रो की मुक्ति के लिए सत्यशोधक समाज की स्थापना करनेवाले महात्मा ज्योतिराव गोविन्दराव फुले (11 अप्रैल 1827 – 28 नवम्बर 1890) का नाम लेते ही उनकी जीवनसंगिनी सावित्राीबाई फुले की तस्वीर भी सामने आती है और 1848 में लड़कियों के लिए उन्होंने पुणे में खोला पहला स्कूल, अपने घर का कुआं सभी जातियों के लिए खोलने की घटना या इसी वजह से उन्हें घर से बेदखल किए जाने की घटनाएं भी नमूदार हो जाती है। कार्यकर्ता, विचारक, सामाजिक क्रान्तिकारी फुले के जीवनपटल से उनकी जीवनसंगिनी सावित्राीबाई फुले (3 जनवरी 1831 – 10 मार्च 1897) को कहीं से अदृश्य नहीं किया जा सकता, यह सच्चाई भी सामने आती है।
19 वीं सदी की इन तीनों शख्सियतों में- जिनमें सबसे युवा विवेकानन्द है एक साझापन अवश्य दिखता है कि वे सभी अपने उद्देश्य के प्रति पूरी तरह समर्पित हैं और उसकी प्राप्ति के लिए अपनी तमाम बौद्धिक एवं शारीरिक क्षमता उंडेल दिए हैं। इन तीनों की तुलना करें तो अपने मकसद के प्रचार प्रसार के लिए सबसे दूर भ्रमण के लिए जानेवालों में विवेकानन्द हैं जिसमें वह अमेरिका की भी यात्रा करते हैं, दयानन्द सरस्वती की भ्रमणगाथा भी उतनीही रोमहर्षक है, बर्तानवी सामराजियों के नियंत्राण में रहनेवाले हिन्दोस्तां में वह काफी घुमते दिखते हैं, जगह जगह शास्त्रार्थ करते भी दिखते हैं और इनमें सबसे कम बाहर जानेवालों में खासकर अपने प्रांत के बाहर भी जोतिबा फुले दिखते हैं।

Vigil and Protest March Against Racism

Unite Against Racism, Racist Violence and Vigilantism!!
Join the Protest March from Delhi University Metro Station to Mukherjee Nagar on 3rd February (Monday) at 5 pm

In a horrific episode of hate crime, Nido Taniam, a young student from Arunachal Pradesh was beaten to death on Wednesday at Lajpat Nagar in Southeast Delhi. Nido and his friends stepped into a shop to enquire about a house address that they were trying to locate. The shopkeeper and a few others made some obscene remarks on his blonde hair and “racial feature”. It led to a scuffle. The police picked up the Nido and later dropped him back in the same locality. After that the shopkeeper and his friends beat him up again. He lost his life on Thursday.

Just couple of weeks ago, Delhi Law Minister led a vigilante mob on the premises of four African women on 17th January 2014 residing in Khirki village, New Delhi. The women were accused by the mob of being involved in drug peddling and ‘sex trade’; and were terrorized by the mob. Two of them have stated that they were physically assaulted by the mob and were also subjected to intense racist abuse – “black people break laws.” Media reports also indicate that for the purpose of collecting their urine samples, one of them was forced to urinate in public. To add to this abuse and trauma, they were also subjected to not only body search but humiliating invasive physical searches of their private parts. 

Despite these horrific incidents, most people still insists that racism is not a serious issue in Delhi. The murder of Nido Taniam and the vigilante assault on the African women in Khirki village are not aberrations like many would like to believe. People from Northeast India and from African face racism everyday in this city, often subtle forms racism but many a times explicit and brutal form of racism. [To get a better perspective click here and here ]

Not only is there a pressing need to talk about explicit racism but also to recognise the subtler ways in which our underlying prejudices reveal themselves. The fact remains that racism is not an issue of individuals and circumstances but is structural and is institutionalized into the very fabric of our society. 

As of now racism is not even recognized as a problem. The attitude towards people from Northeast and Africa is so normalised and commonplace that the idea of racism as a manifestation of unacceptable bias, prejudice and discrimination is alien. The demand that the Government and the larger society awakens to this issue and takes into consideration the rampant racism which is rooted in spaces all around us is a basic but an essential one. The fact that we have to even demand this basic minimum only goes to show the abysmal degree of neglect.