3 मार्च दिल्‍ली चलो! संसद मार्च में शामिल हों !

हरेक कैंपस में नियमित छात्रसंघ चुनाव तुरंत बहाल करो!

लिंगदोह की तानाशाही नहीं , प्रशासन और धनबल बाहुबल का हस्तक्षेप नहीं!

छात्रसंघ पर आम छात्रों की दावेदारी सुनिश्चित करो!

सब के लिए सस्ती, समान और अच्छी शिक्षा , सम्मानजनक रोजगार और कैंपस लोकतंत्र के लिए छात्रसंघ को हथियार बनाओ!

 

दोस्‍तों, संसद का बजट सत्र शुरू हो गया है. मोदी सरकार का यह पहला बजट सत्र है. संसद में जब सरकार हमारीआपकी जिंदगी के बारे में अहम फैसले ले रही होगी तब आम जनता और छात्रोंयुवाओं के बुनियादी सवालों की धमक संसद तक पहुंचनी ही चाहिए. इसलिए संसद के इस सत्र के दौरान संसद के सामने हमें बड़ी तादाद में पहुंचना जरूरी है. इसी मकसद से 3 मार्च को देश भर के छात्रनौजवान कैंपस लोकतंत्र और बुनियादी अधिकारों की मांग के साथ संसद के सामने एकत्रित हो रहे हैं.

कॉरपोरेट्स के अच्छे दिन‘ : छात्रोंगरीबों के बुरे दिन

चुनाव से पहले मोदी का ‘अच्छे दिनों’ का वादा नौ महीना बीततेबीतते औंधे मुंह गिर चुका है. ‘अच्छे दिनआये तो हैं, लेकिन सिर्फ अंबानी, अडानी जैसे बड़े कॉरपोरेट घरानों के लिए. अदानी जैसे कॉरपोरेट्स को सार्वजनिक बैंकों से अरबों रुपए के लोन दिए जा रहे हैं. ‘अच्छे दिनछात्रयुवा और गरीबों के लिए नया कहर साबित हो रहे हैं. सुरक्षित और सम्मानजनक रोजगार के हर एक अवसर को तेजी से खत्म किया जा रहा है, अध्यादेशों के जरिये गरीब किसानों और आदिवासियों की जमीन छीनने का फरमान आ चुका है और गरीबों के लिए खाद्य सुरक्षा कानून में कटौती की जा रही है. दीनानाथ बत्रा की अंधविश्वास, झूठ और साम्प्रदायिकता से भरी हुई तथ्यविहीन किताबों को अनिवार्य पाठ्यपुस्‍तक की तरह थोपा जा रहा है. शिक्षाविदों की जगह आरएसएस से सम्बद्ध लोगों को नियुक्त किया जा रहा है. ऐसे समय में शिक्षा के भविष्य और गुणवत्ता को बनाये रखने के लिए कैंपसों में लोकतांत्रिक ढंग से चुने गए छात्रसंघों को महत्वपूर्ण भूमिका निभानी होगी.

सम्‍मानजनक रोजगार के अवसरों पर हमला

शिक्षा के साथ यह सरकार सम्मानजनक रोजगार के अवसरों को भी सीमित कर रही है. इस सरकार के कार्यकाल की शुरुआत यूपीएससी के CSAT जैसी भेदभावपूर्ण नीति का विरोध कर रहे छात्रनौजवानों पर लाठीगोली चला करके हुई. इसके कुछ ही दिनों बाद SSC के परिणामों में बड़ा घोटाला हुआ. सरकार ने एक साल तक नौकरियों पर रोक लगा दी. नया प्रावधान लाकर IBPS में सफल हुए अधिकांश युवाओं को नौकरी देने से इंकार कर दिया. हाल ही में CSIR से क़रीब 250 वैज्ञानिकों को निकाल दिया गया. देशभर में 13 ESIC मेडिकल कॉलेजों को श्रम मंत्रालय के इशारे पर बंद करने की साजिश की जा रही है. यह सरकार संगठित क्षेत्र में अभी तक बची हुई सभी नौकरियों को तेजी से खत्म कर रही है. CSIR-UGC-NET-JRF की आवेदन फ़ीस 150% बढ़ा कर 400 रुपए से 1000 रुपए कर दी गई है. सरकार की इन छात्रयुवा विरोधी नीतियों के खिलाफ देशभर में सड़कों पर आन्दोलन हो रहे हैं.

विश्‍वविद्यालयों की स्‍वायत्‍तता को समाप्‍त करने की साजिश

सरकार केंद्रीय विश्वविद्यालयों की स्वायत्ता को ख़त्म करने के लिए एक बहुत ही खतरनाक कानून लाने की प्रक्रिया में है. यह कानून केंद्रीय विश्वविद्यालयों की स्वायत्तता को सुरक्षित करने वाले सारे कानूनों को समाप्‍त कर देगा. सरकार का यह कदम विश्वविद्यालयों के विशिष्ट चरित्र और अकादमिक स्वतंत्रता का हनन करने वाला है. शिक्षकों की नियुक्तियों , प्रवेश परीक्षा, अकादमिक पाठ्यक्रम ले कर विश्वविद्यालय चलाने की नीतियाँ तक केंद्रीय तरीके से दिल्ली में MHRD के राजनीतिक उद्देश्य के अनुरूप चलाई जायेंगी. इस नीति का एक खतरनाक पहलू यह भी है कि किसी भी शिक्षक का तबादला किया जा सकता है. सरकार से भिन्‍न सोच रखने वाले किसी भी शिक्षक को इसका निशाना बनाया जा सकता है.

शिक्षारोजगार छीनने की तैयारी इसीलिए कैंपस लोकतंत्र पर हमला जारी

जब फ़ीस वृद्धि और जनविरोधी नीतियों को सरकारें सुधार के रूप में पेश करती हैं तब कैंपस लोकतंत्र और छात्रसंघ को खत्म करना उनके लिए जरूरी हो जाता है. जब जनविरोधी नीतियों की बाढ़ आई हुई है तो पूरे देशभर के कैंपसों में आम छात्रों के आवाज़ उठाने की सारी गुंजाइशों को समाप्त कर दिया गया है. योजना आयोग के पूर्व उपाध्यक्ष मोंटेक सिंह अहलूवालिया ने कहा था कि “ उच्च शिक्षण संस्थानों में Unionisation एक प्रमुख बाधा है. अगर आप छात्रसंघ से बात करें तो मुझे नहीं लगता कि वो शिक्षा में सुधार के पक्ष में खड़े हैं. निश्चित तौर पर उनका मुख्य उद्देश्य फ़ीस को कम रखना ही होता है.” साथ ही कैंपसों में महिलाओं पर हमले भी बढ़े हैं. हाल ही में कोलकाता के जादवपुर विश्वविद्यालय के छात्रों ने कैंपस में हुई यौन हिंसा के खिलाफ ऐतिहासिक आन्दोलन लड़ा. चाहे बंगाल हो या उत्तर प्रदेश का लखनऊ विश्वविद्यालय, हम देख सकते हैं कि विश्वविद्यालय प्रशासन गुंडा और आपराधिक तत्वों पर कार्रवाई करने की जगह ऐसे तत्‍वों का विरोध करने वाले छात्रों को ही निशाना बना रहा है. धनबलबाहुबल और गुंडा तत्वों पर लगाम लगाने के नाम पर देशभर में छात्रसंघों पर लिंगदोह कमिटी की सिफारिशों के बहाने रोक लगा दी गई. देश के ज्यादातर विश्वविद्यालयों में किसी भी तरह का छात्रसंघ चुनाव नहीं होता है और जहाँ होता भी है वहाँ धनबलबाहुबल का खेल जारी है. हाल ही में बनारस हिन्दू विश्वविद्यालय के छात्रों ने कठपुतली स्टूडेंट कौंसिल नहीं बल्कि संपूर्ण छात्रसंघ के लिए लड़ाई लड़ी, जिसमें एक छात्र की जान भी चली गई. उत्तरप्रदेश और बिहार के ज्यादातर कैंपसों में छात्रसंघ चुनाव नहीं होते हैं. इसलिए आम छात्रों के पास अपने हक की लड़ाई करने का कोई मंच ही नहीं है. जहाँ चुनाव हो भी रहे हैं वहाँ प्रशासन की सहभागिता से खुलेआम लिंगदोह कमिटी के धनबलबाहुबल रोकने के नाम पर आये प्रावधानों की धज्जियाँ उड़ाते हुए लाखों रुपए खर्च होते हैं और गोलियाँ चलती हैं.

  • आइए देखते हैं लिंगदोह कमिटी के प्रावधानों की असलियत

पिछले 8 सालों से देशभर में छात्रसंघों के चुनाव लिंगदोह कमिटी की सिफारिशों के अनुरूप हो रहे हैं. लेकिन इन वर्षों में यही साबित हुआ है कि लिंगदोह कमिटी का उद्देश्य छात्रसंघ चुनावों में धनबलबाहुबल रोकना नहीं है. आइये देखें कि कैसे लिंगदोह कमेटी के प्रावधान छात्रसंघ चुनाव में आम छात्रछात्राओं की भागीदारी को रोकता है –

1 उम्र संबंधी रोक – लिंगदोह कमिटी के मुताबिक कैंपस का हरेक छात्र चुनाव नहीं लड़ सकता. स्नातक में 23 वर्ष , परास्नातक में 25 वर्ष और शोध के लिए 28 वर्ष की सीमा तय कर दी गई है. हम जानते हैं कि अमूमन पिछड़े इलाके से आने वाले छात्रछात्राएँ अपनी पढ़ाई देर से शुरू करते हैं. लिंगदोह कमिटी के इस प्रावधान से ऐसे तबके से आने वाले छात्रछात्राएं चुनाव लड़ने से वंचित हो जाते हैं. इस कारण इन्हें प्रतिनिधत्व नहीं मिल पाता.

2. दुबारा चुनाव लड़ने पर रोक लिंगदोह कमिटी के मुताबिक छात्रसंघ में दुबारा चुनाव नहीं लड़ा जा सकता. इससे एक तरफ अनुभवहीन प्रतिनिधि चुने जाते हैं वहीं दूसरी तरफ़ एक बार चुनाव जीत लेने पर उनकी कोई जबाबदेही तय नहीं की जा सकती.

3. छात्र अधिकारों के लिए लड़ रहे संघर्षशील छात्र नेताओं पर निशाना – लिंगदोह के अनुसार अगर कोई भी छात्र आन्दोलन करते हुए प्रशासनिक कार्रवाई का शिकार हुआ है तो वह चुनाव नहीं लड़ सकता है. जमीनी सच्चाई यह देखने को मिलती है कि प्रशासन के चहेते, माफिया और अपराधी छात्र नेता जेल से चुनाव लड़ते हैं, लेकिन आम छात्रों के लिए प्रशासन से लड़ने वाला जमीनी छात्र नेता चुनाव नहीं लड़ पाता.

4. प्रशासनिक दखलंदाजी और कठपुतली छात्रसंघ लिंगदोह कमिटी के तहत आम छात्रों को नहीं बल्कि प्रशासन को चुनाव और छात्रसंघ नियंत्रित करने की खुली छूट है. ‘Grievance Redressal Cells’ के माध्यम से प्रशासन को चुने हुए छात्रसंघ को भी निलंबित करने की छूट प्राप्त है. ये और कुछ नहीं प्रशासनिक भ्रष्टाचार एवं आम छात्रों के सवालों पर आन्दोलन को नियंत्रित करने का तरीका है.

  • लिंगदोह कमिटी’ नवउदारवाद की जरुरत या आम छात्रों की ?

फ़ीस बढ़ोतरी से लेकर तमाम छात्र विरोधी कानूनों को थोपने के लिए जरुरत है कि छात्रसंघ कोई राजनैतिक सवाल न उठाएँ और महज एक क्लब बन कर रह जाएँ. छात्रसंघों के अराजनीतिकरण के लिए लिंगदोह कमिटी के सारे प्रावधानों को सजाया गया है. इन प्रावधानों के बावजूद धनबलबाहुबल का खुला इस्तेमाल होता है. यदि कहीं छात्रसंघ महत्वपूर्ण आन्दोलन खड़ा करता है तो लिंगदोह के नाम पर छात्रसंघ पर रोक लगा दी जाती है. इसी वजह से जेएनयू जैसे विश्वविद्यालय में भी 2008 से 2012 तक छात्रसंघ चुनावों पर रोक लगी थी.

अंततः सवाल यह है कि क्या लिंगदोह की सिफारिशें हिंसा और धनबल पर रोक लगाने में सफल हुई है ? इस समाज में जहाँ पूरा सत्ताधारी ढांचा ही धनबलबाहुबल पर टिका है वहाँ इस तरह के महज कुछ तकनीकी पाबंदियों से इसे रोका नहीं जा सकता. जो प्रावधान लोकसभा और विधानसभा चुनावों में खुलेआम उल्लंघित होते हैं, हमारे कैम्पसों में भी कुछ इसी तरह की स्थिति है. दिल्ली विश्वविद्यालय से लेकर इलाहाबाद विश्वविद्यालय के छात्रसंघ चुनावों में धनबलबाहुबल लिंगदोह के बावजूद प्रयोग में है.

कैम्पसों को इन बीमारियों से दूर रखना तभी संभव है जब सशक्त छात्र आन्दोलन के जरिए धनबलबाहुबल को बरकरार रखने वाली सत्ताधारी वर्ग की राजनीति को चुनौती दी जाए . और आम छात्रों की भागीदारी से एक वैकल्पिक राजनैतिक संस्कृति को मजबूत किया जाए . धनबलबाहुबल की राजनीति को छात्र प्रतिनिधियों की आम छात्रों के प्रति जबाबदेही तय करके ही खत्म जा सकती है. शिक्षा, रोजगार और कैंपस लोकतंत्र के लिए यह जरूरी है कि छात्र समुदाय एकजुट होकर अपनी आवाज बुलंद करे.

आने वाले 3 मार्च को दिल्ली चलें और सरकार को मजबूर करें –

1 तुरंत सारे कैंपसों में छात्रसंघ चुनाव सुनिश्चित कराओ!

2 लिंगदोह कमिटी की सिफारिशों को वापस लो!

3 शिक्षा और सम्मानजनक रोजगार के अवसरों पर हमला बंद करो!

Reject Lyngdoh! Reject Central Univ. Act!

Uphold Campus Democracy! Uphold Academic Autonomy!

Onwards to 3 March

National March To Parliament

10676207_413611198794082_6422154250804811566_nThe Budget session of the Parliament has begun. The Modi govt has started the session by introducing its own version of ‘Land Grab Bill’ to rob the land and livelihood of the farmers, tribals and forest dwellers, fisher people, rural and urban poor-thus signalling in no uncertain terms in whose interest Modi is going to ‘Make’ India and whose life and livelihood he is determined to Unmake. For the students and youth, Modi slogan of ‘achchhe din’ has unfolded itself with calculated attacks on every avenue of public-funded quality education and stable dignified employment. The government refused to scrap the discriminatory CSAT in UPSC and brutalised the protestors, a 10% cap was introduced in the waiting list of the IBPS exam thus reducing employment options in the banking sector. The government tried to close down several ESIC-run, publicly funded hospitals, and this move was stalled only after the spirited protests of students and youth from across the country. In CSIR too, these government is reneging on its own promises, cutting jobs and leaving several qualified engineers in the lurch. In the private sector too, retrenchments are rampant – such as the recent spate of job-cuts in the IT industry. Recently came the 150% hike in NET-JRF exam fees.

Even as students and youth battle these assaults, the Modi government is planning to arm itself to quell to silence all dissent and resistance in educational institutions and central universities. A concerted effort is on to kill autonomy and academic independence, to institutionalise saffronisation of higher education, and curb all forms of campus democracy.

Curbing Campus Democracy through Lyngdoh:

Since 2006, the Lyngdoh Committee Recommendations (LCR) have been used to curb the organised student movement. It was introduced in the name of curbing ‘money and muscle power’ – but as students in Universities across the country know all too well, the LCR has failed miserably in this stated claim. The blatant use of money and muscle power in the DUSU elections in Delhi are the best proof in fact of this failure. What the LCR has done, however, is to restrict the democratic participation of students. Several undemocratic, anti-student clauses now govern the conduct the student union elections: such as age restrictions, preventing those with records of ‘criminal charges’ and even ‘disciplinary actions’ from participating, restrictions on the number of times candidates can contest and huge involvement of the university administrations in the conduct of elections. The LCR has been used to attack the JNUSU constitution, which put in place the most democratic model of student union elections in the country. Despite our representation and protests, the current MHRD refuses to even review the LCR after so many years of its implementation, though a clear provision exists in the LCR for a review. For the powers-that-be, the LCR was and remains a useful weapon to curb students’ protests and ensure pliant and pro-administration student unions. In this era, where governments try their level best to wash off their hands from their primary responsibility of providing education to all, the LCR is being used to weaken the efficacy of democratic students’ participation in decision-making. For instance, in the name of curbing ‘criminals’ from contesting, the LCR allows administrations to prevent student leaders who have led protests, and consequently borne the brunt of administrative and police crackdown, from contesting.

Curbinging Academic Autonomy and Freedom, Institutionalising Saffronisation: Alongside the dismantling of public-funded quality education and stable employment avenues and curbing of campus democracy, Modi Sarkar has now come up with the dangerous proposal of a ‘common’ Central Universities Act to force all Central Universities to follow a ‘common’ admission, a ‘common’ syllabus, ‘centralised’ faculty recruitment and ‘transferrable’ faculty. Needless to say, this will end the autonomy of central Universities like DU and JNU, erode their uniqueness, erode their respective areas of strength in teaching and research developed through plurality of ideas, syllabus and rich traditions of student-faculty interaction.

We all know that RSS-BJP brigade, wherever and whenever they get power, gets down to communalise syllabus, distort history, replace science and rationality with myths and superstition; in short, saffronise education using state machinery. Through the ‘common’ Central University Act, the saffron brigade wants achieve its long term ideological agenda of saffronisation of higher education. In the name of ‘common’ syllabus and course structure, this Act will enable the RSS ‘think-tanks’ of ‘Dinanath Batra variety’ to impose their whims on all Universities including JNU. By ‘centralising all recruitments’, the Central Government will have a free hand to dictate faculty appointments of its choice. And the provision to ‘faculty-transfer’ will act as a weapon to keep the upright faculty members who ‘do not fall in line’ under permanent threat! During the previous NDA regime, we saw how the content of school textbooks was systematically rewritten to suit the ideological predilections of the Sangh brigade. This time around, the Modi government is trying to institutionalise its agenda through this draconian route.

The need of the hour is to resist all these draconian assault on academics, democracy and autonomy.

The need of the hour is to re-assert campus democracy not just in JNU, but in campuses across the country. The need of the hour is to restore the JNUSU constitution, to reject the draconian Lyngdoh recommendations all over the country and to ensure democratic  student union elections without the interference of University/college administrations. The need of the hour is to forge a robust student-faculty unity against the ‘common’ Central University Act. It is a battle to resist the Modi govt.’s design of unmaking democracy, academic autonomy, plural-rational education and dignified employment.

JNUSU has undertaken a concerted campaign on these issues. JNUSU and its teams have been visiting various campuses in the country holding meetings with students, appealed to other student unions and all progressive student organizations. As a part of this, JNUSU through an All-Organisation Meeting (on 16 February), decided to organise a National March to Parliament on 3 March (during the budget session) demanding restoration of the JNUSU constitution, scrapping of the Lyngdoh recommendations and  ‘Common’ Central Universities Act, and roll-back of saffronisation and commercialisation of education.

Land Grab and the Lie of ‘Employment, Development’

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The Modi Government’s Land Acquisition Ordinance nullifies the need for consent and social impact assessment for land acquisition for industrial corridors, security, rural infrastructure, housing and related infrastructure, and social infrastructure including projects under government and PPP models. Thus defined, the category of ‘exemptions from consent and social impact assessment’ is so broad and sweeping that it effectively opens the flood gate for land grab without consent by any public/private entity under any pretext!

The condition under Section 101 of the 2013 law, which requires that land not used for 5 years be returned to the owner, has been altered thus: “The time limit which has been set for a project or 5 years, whichever is later”. This opens the doors for real estate mafia to acquire land, sit on it, and then sell it when the land prices have shot up.

To justify the urgency of this Land Grab Ordinance, the Modi Government has claimed that land acquisition for industry and infrastructure is necessary to generate jobs and promote development.

The CAG Performance Audit Report on Special Economic Zones exposes the fact that land grab under the ‘public purpose’ clause has resulted in massive diversion of land for commercial real estate purposes, and that the claims of generating jobs and development have been a big lie. The Land Grab Ordinance is only setting the stage for more scams on the lines of the SEZ Scam, that will loot land and impoverish peasants to fill corporate real estate coffers.

CAG Report (2014) Exposes SEZ Scam

 

The SEZ Act 2005 (as well as SEZ Acts in states such as Odisha and West Bengal, enacted prior to the 2005 national act) all claimed to be a panacea for ‘development’. People’s movements resisting land grab for SEZs (at Raigad, Kalinganagar, Nandigram and Jagatsinghpur, and other places) have been met with firing and repression, and been branded as ‘enemies’ of development and employment-generation. The colonial 1894 Land Acquisition Act facilitated such land grab, deeming that farmers’ consent was not needed as long as land was acquired for ‘public purpose’.

The CAG Report lays bare the truth – that the people’s movements were right and the pro-corporate Governments were liars.

The CAG Report observes:

Though the objective of the SEZ is employment generation, investment, exports and economic growth, however, the trends of the national databases on economic growth of the country, trade, infrastructure, investment, employment etc do not indicate any significant impact of the functioning of the SEZs on the economic growth.

Out of 45635.63 ha of land notified in the country for SEZ purposes, operations commenced in only 28488.49 ha (62.42 %) of land. In addition, we noted a trend wherein developers approached the government for allotment/purchase of vast areas of land in the name of SEZ. However, only a fraction of the land so acquired was notified for SEZ and later de notification was also resorted to within a few years to benefit from price appreciation. In terms of area of land, out of 39245.56 ha of land notified in the six States, 5402.22 ha (14%) of land was de notified and diverted for commercial purposes in several cases. Many tracts of these lands were acquired invoking the ‘public purpose’ clause. Thus land acquired was not serving the objectives of the SEZ Act.”

In sum:

Vast areas of land were acquired for ‘public purpose’ SEZs. But most of the land remained unused and were later diverted for commercial real estate purposes. This is a scam of massive proportions, and concerned Chief Ministers and the then Prime Minister ought to be criminally prosecuted for this scam.

The CAG report also notes the environmental violations of the coastal Adani SEZ in Gujarat, in which both the then Modi-led State Government and the UPA Government were complicit, and which fisherpeople’s and farmers’ groups in Gujarat had exposed.

The Land Grab Ordinance now again aims to do exactly what the SEZ scam achievedgrab land without peasants’ consent in the name of ‘public purpose’, and divert that land for real estate profits. This is why the five-year time limit for using acquired land is also being scrapped.

SEZs fail to generate economic growth, jobs, infrastructure, investment. Those were just lies to justify robbing peasants of land and India of its food security. The same lies are being peddled in favour of the Land Grab Ordinance now.

The CAG report also tries to calculate the massive amount spent on SEZs in terms of sops, tax exemptions, and so on (Rs 1.76 lakh crore, according to 83rd Report of Parliamentary Standing Committee on Commerce on Functioning of SEZs, June 2007) but recognizes that tax sops are actually even more massive since they were ‘hidden’ and disguised.

In fact SEZs robbed India’s poor peasants and adivasis of land, livelihood and jobs on a massive scale. The CAG report indicates the incalculable cost borne by the nation, of this massive loot of jobs, fertile fields, environment villages, lives and food security.

Today on 23rd February, on the call of the All India Kisan Mahasabha, gram sabhas all over the country met to pass resolutions demanding scrapping of the Land Grab Ordinance and an end to the moves to curtail MNREGA and Food Security coverage. These resolutions will be submitted to the President of India and Lok Sabha Speaker following the Jan Sansad in Delhi by people’s movements on 16th March, following the launch of the All India People’s Forum.

Red Salute Comrade Govind Pansare…

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Comrade Govind Pansare

AISA expresses deep condolences at the passing away of veteran CPI leader and a pioneer of rationalist movement in Maharashtra Com. Govind Pansare. Com. Pansare was in a critical state since last 16 Feb, when two unknown assailants fired at him and his wife in front of their house in Kolhapur district, when the two were returning home after their daily morning walk from Shivaji University in Kolhapur. Com. Pansare was hit by bullets on his neck and another went brushing his hand, his wife Uma suffered a single bullet injury. Com. Pansare succumbed to the injury on Friday night (20 Feb), due to bleeding in lungs.

Com. Pansare, was a highly respected political figure in Maharashtra, a committed  communist who took on the right wing forces all through. In 1984, he wrote a popular book called Shivaji Kon Hota (Who was Shivaji) on Chatrapati Shivaji where he forcefully argued against the communal misuse of Shivaji by the saffron brigade. The book has been translated into many languages including Kannad, Urdu, Gujrati, English and Hindi languages. He was a close associate of rationalist Narendra Dabholkar, who too was killed almost in a similar manner by assailants in 2013. Following Dabholkar’s gruesome murder, Com. Pansare had stepped up pressure on the government for the passage of the Anti-Superstition Bill. Com. Pansare has been associated with various social movements of farm laborers, domestic helps, auto-rickshaw union, milk producers, slums and others. Ever since the Modi government came to power in May last year, he relentlessly campaigned against the communal outfits. He spoke forcefully against the saffron brigade’s two-pronged strategy of using Gandhi’s name and, at the same time, glorifying Nathuram Godse.

It is a common knowledge to the people of Kolhapur how some of the saffron outfits have been disrupting his programs for over past six months on various issues. Some days before he was shot dead, he was threatened and abused for speaking against the glorification of Nathuram Godse at a gathering. Recently, he was leading an anti-toll agitation in Kolhapur.

In past three years, there have been a spate of deadly attacks on the social activists and intellectuals in Maharashtra. Apart from the gruesome killing of Dr. Dabholkar, RTI activist Satish Shetty was murdered in Pune for exposing land grab. The murderers of Dabholkar are still ‘absconding’ and there is no progress in CBI investigation in Shetty’s case! Given the character of Maharashtra’s political dispensation, it is anybody’s guess whether there will be any justice for Com. Pansare’s either.

Democratic forces must unite for ensuring justice for Com. Pansare and all other cases of targeted political killing. Com. Pansare’s murder must once again steel the resolve of all democracy loving people to rise up against and fight the political mafiadom and communal hate with all our might.

Speak Out Against the Spate of Racist, Xenophobic Hate Violence in the US

anti-racist 3The murder of three young Muslims in the US (in Chapel Hill), the brutal violence by US police on an aged Indian man, Sureshbhai Patel (in Alabama) were followed by vandalisation of the Hindu temple in Seattle and the arson of a mosque. These incidents have once again put the spotlight on deeply entrenched racism and politics of hate in the USA. It has been reported that the vandalism of the Hindu temple in Seattle and the arson of a mosque in Houston during last weekend was preceded by a spate of anti-Hindu attacks across the US in recent months. In last August a statue of a deity at a Hindu temple in Georgia state was desecrated with black paint. The phone lines of the temple in Monroe, near Georgia, were cut and graffiti with hate messages were written on it. Also in Bothell, a government-run school was also defaced with a swastika and the words, “Muslims Get Out,” according to a Q13 Fox report.

three muslims

Deah Barakat, his wife Yusor Abu-Salha, and her sister Razan Mohammed Abu-Salha

In Chapel Hill, North Carolina, a Muslim man Deah Barakat, his wife Yusor Abu-Salha, and her sister Razan Mohammed Abu-Salha were gunned down in their home by a white neighbor. The killer had been reportedly been expressing prejudice and hatred for the hijab worn by Yusor Abu-Salha, and had picked fights before with the Muslim family.

In a familiar pattern, the US police are trying to portray the killings as the consequence of a ‘parking dispute’ rather than an Islamophobic hate crime. This is reminiscent of the Delhi Police chief trying to portray targeted vandalization and desecration of churches in India’s national capital as a ‘robbery’, comparable to ‘robberies’ of temples.

The US media also largely ignored and trivialized the murders, thereby reflecting their own unwillingness to recognize and challenge Islamophobia. But local people, including neighbours, co-workers, and fellow students of the three victims, came out in large numbers to protest the hate crime. On social media also, outrage over the killings spilt over with the ‘Muslim Lives Matter’ hashtag, striking a chord with ongoing protests against racist murders that had used the ‘Black Lives Matter’ hashtag.

Suresh Bhai Patel Hospitalised after brutal attack by Police in Alabama

Soon after, in Alabama, police officers slammed an old Indian man on the ground, breaking his neck and partially paralyzing him. Sureshbhai Patel was visiting his son’s family to help take care of his baby grandson. Seeing Sureshbhai on a walk in the neighbourhood, a neighbor reported to the police that a “skinny black guy” was wandering about, leading him to fear about his wife’s safety. Sureshbhai communicated to the police that he was from India and could not speak English. But the senior police officer threw Sunilbhai on the ground, grievously injuring him.

Initially the Alabama police put out a press release justifying the police brutality and blaming Sureshbhai for disobeying the police. It was only after media outrage  that  the police officer has been sacked and arrested.

It would be a mistake to assume that the police behaviour against Sureshbhai Patel was an aberration. The attack on Sureshbhai is part of a pattern of similar incidents involving police high-handedness and killings of Black and Latina people in the US. In fact, the senior police officer who attacked Sureshbhai was giving the younger trainee officer a lesson in routine racist high-handedness and brutality. Aware that his actions and words were being recorded, he kept up a commentary falsely implying that Sureshbhai was being non-cooperative and violent. And in incident after incident of killings of Black and Latina men, the US police have literally got away with murder. They would have got away in Sureshbhai’s case too, were it not for the diplomatic issues involved.

Indian civil liberties activists in the US have pointed out that it is not enough to respond to the attack on Sureshbhai by ‘educating’ US police officers to distinguish Indian Hindus from Blacks, or from Araband South Asian Muslims. Instead, the effort must be to forge solidarity between Black and Arab communities as well as South Asians of all faiths, to resist the fresh surge in racism in the US.

At the same time, our outrage over the prejudice and violence meted out to Sureshbhai Patel in the US, must also serve to make us introspect about xenophobia and anti-Black racism in India. When Black people are subjected to mob violence in India, the politicians and police here, too, tend to blame such violence on ‘criminal activities’ by ‘foreign nationals’ rather than on racist prejudice. When people from North Eastern states are attacked in Indian cities, the police try to claim that the incidents are random rather than racist. Violence against Muslim economic migrants and refugees alike tends to be justified, celebrated and promoted as action against ‘Bangladeshi infiltrators’.

Communal hatred and violence, at the hands of Hindu majoritarian groups as well as by police, against religious minorities in India has been systematic and state-sponsored. The BJP continues to systematically use anti-minority hatred and violence to expand its presence across India. Following President Obama’s remarks on the need to curb religious intolerance and by the scathing call by New York Times for Modi to break his silence, the Indian Prime Minister has finally declared his Government’s commitment to uphold religious freedom of all Indians. But these vague statements are mere lip service, given that no action has been taken against members of Modi’s own Cabinet and his team of MPs who have been at the forefront of the hate-mongering. Further, his words ring hollow in the face of the systematic persecution of activists who have been striving to pursue cases of communal violence, and the systematic impunity to the BJP President and police officers who staged fake encounters of Muslim men and women in Gujarat on Modi’s own watch.

The Chapel Hill murders, the assault on Sureshbhai Patel and the cases of temple vandalisation have reminded us all that racist and xenophobic prejudice and violence are no less a problem in the US than in India. The way forward is for movements against communalism, Islamophobia and racism in India, the US, UK and other countries to join hands with each other in closer solidarity and united struggle.

‘Achchhe Din’ Unfolding: 150% Hike in Application Fee for UGC / CSIR NET-JRF from June 2015 !

indexfor General: from Rs 400 to Rs. 1000

for OBC: from Rs 200 to Rs 500

for SC/ST/PH: from Rs 100 to Rs. 250

CSIR has already notified ….

Roll Back Massive Fee Hike in NET-JRF Exam Fee!

Increase Non-NET Scholarship Amount!

Include Korean Language in NET/JRF

 

The reality of Modi sarkar’s promised ‘achchhe din’ unveils itself every single day. The latest is of course the huge 150% increase in application fees for the UGC/CSIR NET-JRF: the fees have been increased from Rs. 400 to Rs. 1000 for general category candidates, from Rs. 200 to Rs. 500 for OBC candidates and from Rs. 100 to Rs. 250 for SC/ST/PH candidates. The CSIR has already notified this hike. This is a move which will clearly prevent several students from deprived backgrounds from applying for these exams, especially as students often have to appear several times for these exams before they qualify. 

Ever since the Modi government has come to power, we have seen a clear pattern in the policy decisions.

  • For students and youth, every avenue of stable dignified employment and quality public education is being shrunk. The govt started its innings by brutal crackdown on students and youth protesting against the discriminatory CSAT pattern in the UPSC exam. Then, came the job cuts in the banking sector, when a 10% cap on waiting list of qualified candidates was announced in the IBPS exam. Next, 13 ESIC medical colleges were closed down and the CSIR announced shunting out of hundreds of Trainee Scientists. Along with these moves, is the grand design to nullify the autonomy of central Universities like JNU, DU and imposing an overwhelming uniform central University Act, uniform syllabus and transferrable faculty, in short, subordinating the unique quality and content of different universities to the saffronised regime!

  • For the vast majority of farmers and working people, Land Grab Ordinance has been imposed at a midnight stroke, MNREGA schemes and food security provisions restricted and all labour laws meant to safeguard minimum wages and labour rights are being jettisoned.

  • Sovereignty, safety and life-security of our people are being dangerously compromised under US diktats: India’s patent policy is being diluted to facilitate US big Pharma lobby that will stall the manufacture of several generic and life-saving drugs in the country and escalate their prices hundred fold for our people. Simultaneously, under the garb of so-called ‘breakthrough’ in Indo-US nuke deal, the civil nuclear damage liability law is being secretively diluted to free the US nuclear suppliers of compensation and damage suits in case of nuclear disasters. Indeed, revision in IPR (patent) policy and nuclear damage compensation provisions are two critical concessions that Modi has handed over to the US during the Obama visit. While the govt is maintaining a veil of ‘secrecy’ on these massive sell-outs to US to avoid domestic backlash, several US representatives are already boasting of the ‘concessions’ they have extracted from the Modi govt!

  • This anti-people, anti-India policy package is being bolstered through massive mid-term cuts in all social sector budgetary allocations of 2015-14: the Rural Development budget slashed by a whopping 25%, the education budget facing a Rs 11,000 crore CUT, and the already small health budget cut by more than Rs 6,000 crores!

  • Contrast these mid-term cuts in social sector budget (2014-15) with 1 billion $ (more than Rs. 6200 cr.) SBI loan to crony corporate like Adani or the moves to get additional mid-term budgetary allocations to fund PM’s foreign tours, since by end-October itself, the ministry of external affairs was on the verge of exhausting the Rs 15-crore budget it was allocated in July for “high-level visits abroad” the entire financial year (extending upto March 2015)! See the Telegraph report 3 Jan 2015: “Purse can’t keep pace with PM”

On-Sale-EducationWhat we are seeing under the hype of Modi’s ‘Make in India’ is an unmaking of our collective futures. It is an unmaking of public infrastructure, public funded schools, universities, research institutions and hospitals, an unmaking of labour rights and environmental protection, an unmaking of rural development, food security, land rights and livelihoods.

The hikes in the UGC/CSIR application fees are NO aberration. They are a part of the systematic policy of the Modi Government. We must expose and oppose every single move which denies rights and deprives common people, students and youth from access to quality education, dignified employment and healthcare. JNUSU appeals to the student community to participate in large numbers in the protest demonstration TOMORROW (20 February 2015) at the UGC office to protest against the hike in UGC/CSIR NET/JRF application fees, demand commensurate increase in Non-NET scholarship amounts and inclusion of Korean language in NET/JRF.

Rise Up Against Modi Govt’s All-Out War against Public Education System

esi collegeThe Modi sarkar promised ‘achchhe din’ for India’s youth, in order to come to power. But instead, students and youth as well as poor and working people are facing times that seem to become worse with every passing day. Every day of Modi Sarkar brings job cuts, shrinking opportunities of dignified and stable employment, Ordinances to facilitate land grab from the poor peasants and adivasis, proposed cut-backs in food security coverage, and billion dollar loans from public banks to crony corporates like Adani! It is amply clear that the Modi regime intends ‘acche din’ for the super-rich corporates who funded his massive media make-over –  but the worst possible days for ordinary people.

This govt’s tenure started with the betrayal of and police brutality on students protesting against the discriminating pattern of CSAT in UPSC. Then came the covert job cut in IBPS through 10% cap on waiting list of qualified candidates. Now, in a fresh set of assaults on avenues of public funded education and research: CSIR-UGC NET-JRF application fee has been hiked by a whopping 150%, 13 ESIC medical colleges are being closed down, CSIR has announced shunting out of hundreds of Trainee Scientists! Even as the Lyngdoh committee recommendations continue to scuttle students’ democratic rights and campus democracy, the central government is mooting an extremely dangerous piece of legislation to do away with all the autonomy of central Universities.

Proposals to Destroy University’s Autonomy: Under the new government, the UGC has proposed a new Bill that seeks to nullify all the Acts which created individual universities such as JNU. As per this proposal, existing acts such as the Jawaharlal Nehru University Act 1966 will be replaced by a SINGLE overarching Act – which will guide all the decisions and functioning of all central universities. Clearly, this is a calculated move to destroy the unique character, autonomy and academic independence of educational institutions. Through this legislation, everything from faculty appointments, entrance exams for students, academic curriculum and policies will be micromanaged and dictated by the Central Government, according to the whims and fancies of the MHRD.

There are several highly problematic clauses in the proposed legislation. For instance, there is a clause to allow the arbitrary transfer of faculty members across Universities, which will not just compromise academics but will also open the doors to vindictive punishments of faculty members who raise their voices against the establishment. Moreover, the Act is designed to make it easier for the MHRD to manipulate syllabi and course content in all universities and thus force their own version of ‘history’, ‘culture’, ‘science’, economics and ‘skill development’. We are all witness to the manner in which ideas of RSS ideologues such as Dinanath Batra are being promoted by the present MHRD, and this move is clearly a step in the direction of institutionalising the likes of Batra in our syllabi! This Act moreover goes against the fundamental democratic principle that each University should be allowed the space to independently analyse and respond to local, national, regional and international events.

Assaults on Public-funded Education and Research: In the recent past, the Modi government has taken several decisions to further curtail public-funded education and research. 13 medical colleges run by the ESIC are being arbitrarily shut down. This has jeopardised the future of several students, and is a massive wastage of medical college infrastructure built through public funds. This is in fact part of the government’s plan to systematically weaken quality health care in ESIC hospitals. What we are seeing under the hype of Modi’s ‘Make in India’ is an unmaking of future of medical students and teachers, unmaking of public infrastructure in medical education and unmaking  of health care provisions for workers.

And now, in a new move, the CSIR has undermined its own recruitment policy and arbitrarily shunted out 250 CSIR Trainee Scientists! CSIR refuses to appoint them as Scientists, even after they fulfil all eligibility criteria. In 2011, CSIR amended its Scientist Recruitment and Assessment Rules of 2001, allowing the Trainee Scientists recruited in the 2 years training program to be eligible for appointment to the level of Scientist (Scientist IV(II)) on completion of training with distinction (above than 8 CGPA). Now, the CSIR has simply kicked out those who had joined under this programme. CSIR has stopped emoluments of Trainee Scientists since August 2014 without any prior notice and reason. CSIR is not even ready to give them an M. Tech degree, let alone the promised appointment as Scientists, despite 2 years of  rigorous lab based research after graduation.

150% Increase in Fees for UGC/CSIR NET-JRF Exam: The application fees for the UGC/CSIR NET-JRF has been increased from Rs. 400 to Rs. 1000 for general category candidates, from Rs. 200 to Rs. 500 for OBC candidates and from Rs. 100 to Rs. 250 for SC/ST/PH candidates.CSIR has already notified this hike. This will clearly prevent several students from deprived backgrounds from applying for these exams, especially as students often have to appear several times for these exams before they qualify.

Lyngdoh Committee Recommendations (LCR): Even as these anti-student moves are being forced on students and youth, the LCR continues to be used to curb the organised student movement. The MHRD refuses even to entertain demands that a comprehensive review of the LCR be undertaken – given the experience of implementing the LCR across the country. This, despite the fact that the Supreme Court judgement on the LCR itself allows for such a review. JNUSU is presently in midst of campaigns in different parts of the country against LCR and for Campus Democracy. As part of this campaign JNUSU and its teams are visting various campuses in the country holding meetings with students, student unions and student organizations to mobilize them against the LCR towards a national mobilisation in Delhi during the upcoming Budget session.

We can overlook or ignore the pattern only at our own peril. It is simply an all-out war on public-funded education and research, on the democracy and autonomy of institutions and student bodies, on the future of students and youth. The present context demands concerted mobilisation and resistance.

Patent Over People? Modi Govt.’s Moves, Kept Under Wraps…

pharma1Much hype and hyperbole has surrounded US President Barack Obama’s recent visit to India, with the Modi government trying it best to project this visit as a sign of India’s ‘emergence’ as a global power. Much is also being made of the Modi government’s pet ‘Make in India’ project.

Under all the hype, however, lies the plain fact that the Modi government has been busy ever since it came to power in know-towing to American strategic and corporate interests including US nuclear lobbies as well as US based multinational pharmaceutical companies. A particular area of concern has been in pharmaceuticals, as India is said to be the world’s top supplier of affordable generic versions of drugs under patent that otherwise would be out of reach for millions of poor patients. Several crucial policy changes are being mooted in the drug/pharmaceuticals sector and in our patent regime, which will literally endanger the health and lives of millions of Indians.

In less than six months, the Modi government has taken several steps that play into the hands of large international drug companies, or Big Pharma as these are popularly known, on a number of issues ranging from pricing of commonly-used medicines to intellectual property rights (IPR) of pharmaceutical formulations.

Some facts:

  • ·   The first of these steps which came on the eve of the Prime Minister’s visit to the US in Sept 2014 entailed a rollback of guidelines issued by the National Pharmaceuticals Pricing Authority (NPPA). The guidelines, issued under the Drug Price Control Order, 2012, gave the NPPA the power to fix prices of even those drugs that were not on the national list of essential medicines. Using these guidelines, in July 2014, the NPPA had capped the prices of 108 medicines – most of them for cardiac diseases and diabetes, two very widespread ailments in India. Within two months of the NPPA order capping the prices of these 108 drugs, the government instructed it to revoke the guidelines. While it later clarified that the July cap on prices would still remain valid, the order has effectively ensured that the NPPA cannot take similar action in the interest of consumers in future. Given the timing of the move, this was nothing but an attempt by the Modi govt to send the “right signals” to US-based drug MNCs.
  • ·   The second indication came in the US-India joint statement, issued at the end of Modi’s US visit, which stated that an annual “high-level intellectual property working group” would be set up, which would have “appropriate decision-making and technical-level meetings as part of the Trade Policy Forum”. It is well known how the American administration consistently uses ‘trade working groups’ to push for patenting rules that favour its Big Pharma lobby.

·  Almost simultaneously Union Commerce and Industry minister Nirmala Sitharaman made a statement that the government would roll out a ‘revised policy on Intellectual Property Rights (IPR)’! She also indicated that this policy would focus on ‘boosting innovation and tone up the overall administration, besides setting up a ‘think- tank’ to strengthen the country’s patent regime !!

pharma2Sitharaman’s statement to ‘revise’ the patent policy sounded an alarm bell among the public health activists. Countering the minister’s claim that ‘India doesn’t have an IP policy’, they pointed out that India had followed the Indian Patents Act 1970 till 1995 and then made use of the 10-year transition period provided by the WTO agreement on TRIPS to arrive at the current Indian IP legal regime after considerable debate inside and outside Parliament in 2005. So what is the REAL intent behind Sitharaman’s statement? Whose interests her govt is planning to serve by altering/overriding the present patent policy?

The flexibility of ‘compulsory licensing’ in IPR available through TRIPS is what the US and its pharmaceutical industry have been vehemently objecting to and wanted to get scrapped. ‘Compulsory licensing’ essentially allows national govts to allow domestic companies to manufacture essential and life-saving drugs and sell them at cheap rates in emergency situations without the consent of the patent owner. This is one of the “flexibilities” on patent protection included in the WTO’s agreement under TRIPS. Compulsory licences are one of the most effective tools used by developing countries to break the monopoly pricing power of drug MNCs, especially for life-saving and essential drugs. Even the US government used this provision to threaten Bayer when the anthrax epidemic took place in 2009.

  • ·   Subsequently, during the so called ‘Innovation Dialogue’ (16-21 Nov 2014) organised in India,  in a glaring instance of conflict of interests, many pharmaceutical MNC representatives, as part of the delegation from US-based ‘Intellectual Property Owners’ Association’ (IPOA),  arranged a meeting   with members of Indian judicial tribunals, higher judiciary and officers who are dealing with intellectual property (IP) cases of these companies! It was clearly an attempt to influence judges regarding the outcome of some pending crucial cases related to IPR and important drugs.
  • ·  The Modi government has appointed Arvind Subramanian as its the chief economic adviser: Subramanian is well-known for having advised the US government to initiate disputes against India before the WTO on pharmaceutical patents! Earlier, in written submissions  to a US congressional committee as part of the process of review of IPR protection of various countries, including India, Subramanian has echoed the pet demands of the US pharma industry:
  • If India does not address the problems created by Section 3(d) of the patent legislation or by compulsory licensing… the US should consider initiating WTO disputes against India.  In that testimony he also wrote: “India could consider eliminating the additional efficacy requirement for patentability in Section 3(d) of its patent law.. India could commit to a stay on government-initiated compulsory licenses”.
  • So now, the Modi-appointed chief economic advisor of the Government of India is essentially a US corporate spokesperson, who argues for dilution of provisions in the existing Indian patent law, and who wants to tweak laws to allow more profits for Big Pharma !!!
  • ·   In August, the BJP government in Rajasthan drastically reduced the scope of the ‘Mukhyamantri Nishulk Dava Yojna’. Instead of keeping this free medicine scheme universal, the Vasundhara Raje government cut-off nearly 8.5 million people from the list of beneficiaries by stating that the scheme will be open only to beneficiaries of the food security scheme.

In just the past few months, BJP and the Modi government have clearly indicated that their priorities DO NOT lie in providing affordable and quality medical care to common people. Instead, they are far more interested in defending and protecting the profit drive of big Pharma lobby, which seek to gain from sickness and disease of people in Asia and Africa. Each and every step taken by the Modi government has moved towards this end – reducing the powers of the NPPA, providing American pharma lobbyists a dedicated ‘platform’ to push for pro-corporate patenting regimes, reducing the scope of free medical care and appointing pro-corporate voices on important posts in the government. One wonders how Modi expects Indian companies to mass-produce and sell affordable medicines ‘Made in India’ when the government is so busy know-towing to US corporate interests!

Meet India’s  (?!?) Chief Economic Advisor

US business faces three major challenges in India. Two challenges common to all foreign business are: first, the weak and uncertain regulatory and tax environment that affects the civil nuclear industry, infrastructure, pharmaceuticals, and more broadly the operations of foreign multinationals in India. Second, although the broad macroeconomic picture is one of opening and surging trade and investment, protectionism in selected sectors has re-surfaced. India is seeking increasing recourse to localization—in banking, telecommunications, retail, and solar panels among others—which favors domestic providers of inputs and equipment over foreign providers. Thus, broad trade and macroeconomic policies toward foreigners are moving in the right direction but sectoral policies have experienced setbacks.”

Who could have said this?

A trade specialist working for the US interests? An advisor to some US trade body or an advisor to the US government? Or an overseas critic of prime minister Narendra Modi’s plans to localise manufacturing? The answer is none of the above, but the current Chief Economic Advisor (CEA) Arvind Subramanian.

This is not a random statement that he could have made long ago, but has been taken from his testimony before the “Ways and Means Committee of the United States Congress”, which was hearing on “US-India trade relations.” in March 2013.

excerpted fromIndia or US? Whose interests will the Chief Economic Advisor Subramanian serve?” by  G Pramod Kumar published in Firstpost 21 Oct 2014 (http://www.firstpost.com/

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Resist Fascist Policing By the Saffron Brigade on Valentine’s Day!

moral-policing-in-kerala-400x225Last month, it was planning to construct a temple for Nathuram Godse, Gandhi’s murderer. And now, the Sangh Parivar is at it yet again – this time, they have grand plans of intimidation and hooliganism on 14 February, Valentine’s Day. The Hindu Mahasabha has openly “warned” that couples found celebrating the “foreign festival” in public will face a variety of “punishments”. According to the Hindu Mahasabha, if couples are found with roses in their hands, or if they are merely seen together in malls and parks, this is the fate they will meet:

Hindu couples will be forcibly married in an Arya Samaj wedding ceremony

Inter-religion partners will be forced to go through a “shuddhikaran” (purification) ritual

Moreover, the parents of the couple will be informed

Not just this, the Mahasabha claims that it will keep a hawk’s eye on social media too on 14 February. If messages declaring love are made on social media, it will ensure the same treatment. The above strictures are in fact an open and dangerous threat to all men and women that they will have to pass the Hindu Mahasabha’s test of ‘marriage’ and ‘legitimacy’! Such campaigns are a completely unacceptable assault on the very idea that women and men have the right to enter into any kind of consensual relationship they desire. These campaigns reek of feudal attempts to control and police relationships within the confines defined by a patriarchal society. Along with these threats, the Mahasabha has also reminded us of its deeply prejudiced and bigoted majoritarianism: it claims that all Indians are Hindus, and therefore while it will not oppose inter-religion marriages, it will ensure that non-Hindus are subjected to a suddhikaran (read conversion) before the forced marriage.

Let us not forget that the same Hindu Mahasabha spearheaded the Sangh Parivar’s ‘ghar vapasi’ programmes in Uttar Pradesh, a campaign that was marked by intimidation of coercion of people from the minority communities. There have been several reports that during these ‘ghar vapasi’ programmes (which are based on the fundamentally majoritarian notion that all Indians are essentially Hindus, who need to be brought back to their Hindu ‘home’), Muslims were clearly told that if they wished to avail of their legal rights such as ration cards and voter identity cards, they should ‘reconvert’ to Hinduism.

Such blatant intimidation now continues through the proposed forced marriages and shuddhikarans on Valentine’s Day. According to the reported statements of the Hindu Mahasabha leaders: “The secular Hindus (who celebrate Valentine’s Day) should be converted to Hinduism completely so that they stop believing in the existence of any other religion”. We have here a deadly and dangerous ideological mix that wishes all Indians to stop believing in the existence of any religion other than Hindutva. After the attempts of the Modi government to remove ‘socialism’ and ‘secularism’ from the constitution of India, this is the next blatant move of the Sangh Parivar to push through its communal fascist agenda.

It is also important to remember that such patriarchal moral policing of consensual relationships are now new to the Sangh Parivar. Every single year the likes of ABVP and Bajrang Dal go around harassing young couples on Valentine’s day. For instance, this is how a news report in the Hindu, published on 15 February 2010, describes one such campaign:

TIRUPATI: Tirupati city unit of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) on Sunday prevented people from celebrating Valentine’s Day. Besides a symbolic torching of the Valentine’s effigy, the cadres, who went round the busy bazaar zones, also raided novelty stores selling Valentine’s Day greeting card and allegedly made a bonfire of them in some places.The ABVP, in a statement said the cadres also entered parks, restaurants and university campuses checking ‘love birds’ revelling in the Valentine’s Day celebrations and handed them over later to their parents

Self-proclaimed godman Asaram Bapu has for long run a campaign against the Valentine’s Day celebrations. Explicitly pitting Valentine’s day against the ‘Indian culture’ of worshipping parents, Asaram Bapu exhorts young men and women to observe 14 February as ‘Matru-Pitru Pujan’ Diwas. Not just Bajrang Dal, RSS and ABVP, but BJP-led elected governments too have tried to enforce Asaram Bapu’s diktats against Valentine’s Day. Since 2012, the BJP-run Chhattisgarh government has declared 14 February as ‘Matru-Pitru’ Diwas – and in government schools across the state, parents are invited to schools on this day and children worship them.

Now that the Modi government is in power, these feudal, patriarchal and communal fascist forces are feeling emboldened to carry out these campaigns with far more aggression, in the confidence that they will be supported by a sympathetic government which will not act against them. It is high time that all of us collectively reject communal fascism in all its vicious forms. This open intimidation of consenting adults can be ignored only at our own risk; we need to defend our freedoms, our rights and our lives from the threats of communal, patriarchal and feudal forces represented by the likes of the Hindu Mahasabha.

AISA appeals to the student community to join the protest demonstration on 14 February at Hindu Mahasabha office in large numbers, to reclaim our rights and our freedoms.

Resist the Witch-Hunt of Teesta Setalvad!

Bail for the Culprits of Fake Encounters, Jail for Activists”!

Police Officers Accused of Cold Blooded Fake Encounters Gets Bail and Reinstated…

Activists Who Take On the State Might Against Communal Pogrom Is Denied Bail On Framed Charges!!!

 

tsIn a travesty of sorts, days after former DG Vanzara and another police officer P.P. Pandey were granted bail in the Ishrat Jahan fake encounter case, and P.P. Pandey was reinstated as the Additional Director General of Police, in charge of law and order in Gujarat, human rights activists Teesta Setalvad and Javed Anand were denied anticipatory bail plea in a fabricated case of ‘embezzlement of funds’ for Gujarat riot victims.

It is to the credit of activists like Teesta Setalvad that there have at least been some amounts of justice delivered post the 2002 Gujarat riots. However her taking on the might of the state and seeking to establish that these riots could not have taken place without the tacit support of the then Modi govt in Gujarat, has resulted in her becoming a target of several such attempts to force her to bow down. Even in the early years immediately after 2002, as it became clear that Citizens for Justice and Peace was going to continue to support riot survivors in their fight for legal justice, the Gujarat police filed FIR after FIR against Setalvad. All of them were found to be spurious.

According to the media reports the bail applications have been turned down because Setalavad and Anand were “not cooperating with the investigations” and that prima facie “funds were used for private purpose”. It is a matter of record that they have submitted their original bank statements, balance sheets and audited accounts that completely disprove the allegations. Does this amount to ‘non-cooperation’/ ‘wrong-doing’?

In contrast to the police quickly rising up in arms against a person fighting for justice Gujarat riot victims, what has been the Gujarat’s government’s response to the police officers accused of murdering innocent Muslim youth in fake encounters?? With Mr Pande’s reinstatement, most of the policemen accused of being allegedly involved in fake encounter cases are back in the state’s police force. Those who have been reinstated so far include Abhay Chudasama and Raj Kumar Pandiyan, accused in the Sohrabbudin fake encounter case. Amit Shah too got ‘discharged’ by the special CBI court. The irony is there for all to see.

While it has come as small relief that the SC has stayed her arrest for a day, the secular democratic fabric of this country is in greater threat than ever before. We stand in solidarity with Teesta Setalvad and other activists in their struggle and will continue our efforts to strengthen all collective struggles against communalization and minority witch hunt.