Exploring Democracy, Reclaiming the Republic – III

 

Of Saffron Brigade’s ‘Nationalism’ and Branding ‘Others’ as ‘Anti-Nationals’

Comrade Ananat Addressing in University of Hyderabad

Comrade Ananat Addressing in University of Hyderabad

Even as people across the country continue to protest against Rohith Vemula’s institutional murder, the RSS-BJP-ABVP’s predictable arrogance continues. In Mumbai yesterday, RSS workers beat up protestors in Dharavi with lathis and rods. In HCU, the Vice Chancellor Appa Rao is yet to resign. He has gone on “long leave”, and in his place the MHRD has arrogantly appointed Prof. Vipin Srivastava, the same man who headed the EC sub-committee which punished Rohith and his friends! In solidarity with the #ChaloHCU call on 25 Jan, an AISA team of comrades from JNU, Anant and Piyush have joined the HCU protestors today at Hyderabad.

We live in times when the RSS-BJP- ABVP go around distributing  ‘pass/fail’ certificates of ‘nationalism’ to all and sundry. ABVP tells us that the screening of Muzaffarnagar Baaki Hai is “antinational”, and elected BJP MP Bandaru Dattatreya decides to brand Rohith Vemula and the Ambedkar Students’ Association in HCU as “antinational”, casteist and “extremist” for their dissenting views. An article in the RSS mouthpiece Organizer similarly called JNU a “den of anti-nationals”. RSS and ABVP, of course, have declared that FTII is anti-India for protesting Gajendra Chauhan’s appointment. IITs are anti-Indian because of groups like Ambedkar Periyar Study Circle and protests like Kiss of Love, and because they refuse to accept separate dining halls and bans on non-vegetarian mess food. IITs and IIMs are anti-national because their top academics and scientists have protested against assaults on autonomy. People’s doctor Binayak Sen, well-known activist Sandeep Pandey, Greenpeace activist Priya Pillai, civil rights activist Teesta Setalvad, editor Siddharth Varadarajan – all are anti-national in the RSS-BJP-ABVP dictionary. Their list of “anti-nationals” is seemingly endless. Each one of us could end up on it, perhaps, if we are not already on it. This game of vilifying and criminalising all political difference/dissent would be funny if it weren’t so dangerous. The RSS-BJP-ABVP now use the state machinery and institutional power to punish all differing opinion.

But are the ABVP-RSS-BJP, ‘nationalist’?! Do they work in the interests of citizens of this country?

Let us take just a few examples, to arrive at an answer.

  • Three girls recently committed suicide in Tamil Nadu, driven to desperation because they could not pay the exorbitant fees demanded by private colleges. Instead of opposing private education corporations to open ‘teaching shops’ for profits in India, the Modi government has been cutting funds for public educational institutions. ABVP and the BJP want education to officiallybecome a tradable commodity under GATS, after which WTO diktats will prevent the Government from subsidising public-sector education! Why does Sanghi ‘nationalism’ mean love and loyalty for WTO and imperialist policies?
  • At the recently conducted WTO negotiations in Nairobi, the Modi government failed to protect and defend Indian farmers. The Indian delegation simply capitulated – not even resorting to basic minimum of demanding amendments or blocking the agreement, tactics which have been employed in the past! Even commerce Minister has had to admit that the negotiations were a ‘disappointment’. Is it a sign of nationalism to capitulate to the WTO-US-EU’s bullying tactics?
  • Narendra Modi chose Arvind Subramanian as his Chief Economic Advisor (CEA) – the same Arvind Subramanian who in March 2014, had submitted written recommendations to the US Senate advising the US to initiate WTO disputes against India unless India changed its patent laws that ensure affordable medicines for poor Indians and poor people of the world, protecting them from greedy global drug corporations. (India or US? Whose interests will the Chief Economic Advisor Subramanian serve? by G Pramod Kumar, Firstpost.com Oct 21, 2014 http://www.firstpost.com/business/economy/india-or-us-whose-interests-will-the-chief-economic-advisor-subramanian-serve-1994485.html). Why does a ‘nationalist’ Prime Minister need an economic advisor who works like an US agent who wanted the US to use WTO diktats against Indian interests? The Modi government has subsequently followed Subramaniam’s advice. Patent laws are being rewritten to prevent Indian companies from cheaply manufacturing generic drugs. (See US pushes for new IP laws to help Big Pharma at cost of poor; NDA says Yes Boss, http://currentnews.in/usa-pushes-new-intellectual-property-laws-help-big-pharma-cost-poor-nda-says-yes-boss/)
  • Is it ‘nationalist’ or anti-national to appease greedy MNC drug companies at the cost of the lives of India’s poor patients and people in other developing countries?
  • While in Opposition, BJP ‘supported’ the protests against FDI in retail, which threatens the livelihood and survival of small shop owners and their employees. But after coming to power, the Modi Government has done a U-Turn and has assured Obama that India will continue to support FDI in retail! What is the meaning of this ‘U-Turn Patriotism’?
  • Modi, on his France visit, has brokered an MoU between Reliance and a French company Dassault Aviation, for 36 poor quality Rafale Jets at exorbitant costs, that will bail out a crisis-ridden French company Dassault Aviation and allow super-profits for the Ambani! (http://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-news-india/rafale-deal-to-be-signed-on-eve-of-hollandes-india-visit/) Why is the Modi Government sacrificing the country’s interests, and forcing substandard fighter jets on the country, in order to benefit a French MNC and its crony corporate?
  • During US President Obama’s visit to India, the Modi Government agreed to protect MNC suppliers of nuclear equipment from being sued by Indian disaster victims! By diluting an already weak liability law Modi has, without telling or asking us, used our taxpayers’ money, our Jan Dhan, to subsidise these MNC suppliers in case of such accidents. Is it not anti-national for Modi to accept US dictation and protect US Nuclear MNCs instead of compromising the safety of Indian citizens?
  • In the name of wooing MNCs to ‘Make in India’, in the name of the ‘Start-up’ India campaign, Modi is diluting labour laws and environment laws. Left and environmental activists who defend those laws are branded as ‘anti-national’! Are workers not part of the ‘nation’? Is it ‘nationalist’ for the Government to violating rights and laws of Indian citizens to appease corporates and MNCs?  

Why is the RSS-ABVP-BJP so desperate to brand all dissent as “anti-national”?

There is a method behind the madness of RSS-BJP-ABVP terming all differing voices as “anti-national”. They seek to hide their huge surrenders and sell-outs of economic and political rights of India’s people by a systematic campaign of social divisiveness. Neither is this a new agenda.

During the long struggle in India against British colonial rule, the RSS was conspicuous by its absence. In RSS-speak, the movement against the British was “reactionary”:

Anti-Britishism was equated with patriotism and nationalism. This reactionary view has had disastrous effects upon the entire course of the freedom movement, its leaders and the common people” (M. S. Golwalkar, Bunch of Thoughts, Bangalore, 1996, p. 138).

During the drafting and adoption of India’s Constitution, the RSS wanted Manusmriti as the constitution of the “Hindu nation” of their dreams. Saffron brigade’s hero Savarkar wrote:

The worst about the new constitution of Bharat is that there is nothing Bharatiya about it…Manusmriti is that scripture which is most worship-able after Vedas for our Hindu Nation and which from ancient times has become the basis of our culture-customs, thought and practice. This book for centuries has codified the spiritual and divine march of our nation. Even today the rules which are followed by crores of Hindus in their lives and practice are based on Manusmriti. Today Manusmriti is Hindu Law”. [VD Savarkar, ‘Women in Manusmriti’ in Savarkar Samagar (collection of Savarkar’s writings in Hindi), vol. 4, Prabhat, Delhi, p. 416.]

Just on the eve of Republic day in 1950, the RSS mouthpiece Organiser published a special feature by Sankar Subba Aiyar, a retired High Court Judge, in which loyalty towards Manu’s Codes was reaffirmed:

‘Even though Dr. Ambedkar is reported to have recently stated in Bombay that the days of Manu have ended it is nevertheless a fact that the daily lives of Hindus are even at the present day affected by the principles and injunctions contained in the Manusmrithi and other Smrithis. Even an unorthodox Hindu feels himself bound at least in some matters by the rules contained in the Smrithis and he feels powerless to give up altogether his adherence to them.’ [‘Manu Rules Our Hearts’ Organizer, February 6, 1950, p. 7.]

Even after Independence when a democratic-secular Constitution was in force, RSS continued denigrating India Constitution. In Bunch of Thoughts, MS Golwalkar, the most prominent ideologue of the RSS wrote:

“Our Constitution too is just a cumbersome and heterogeneous piecing together of various articles from various Constitutions of the Western countries. It has absolutely nothing which can be called our own. Is there a single word of reference in its guiding principles as to what our national mission is and what our keynote in life is? No!” [MS Golwalkar, Bunch of Thoughts, Sahitya Sindhu, Bangalore, 1996, p. 238.]

If the RSS collaborated with British colonialism THEN, the RSS-BJP-ABVP is NOW collaborating with large corporate interests and following the dictation of imperialist powers such as the US and EU. In order to divert attention from this shameful collaboration with colonial British then and present day imperialist powers now, they routinely resort to their staple diet of hate, violence and communal division. They try to manufacture a majoritarian  brahminical ‘commonsense’ and criminalise minorities, dalits, women, working class and every democratic voice speaking for rights and dignity and people’s sovereignty as ‘enemies within’, so as to divert and deflect people’s attention from the real enemies the Sangh brigade is serving.

As we approach yet another Republic Day, let us collectively reject the RSS-ABVP-BJP’s right to brand any and every differing opinion as “anti-national”.  The right to oppose the death penalty, the right to eat what we want, the right to dissent, the right to expose the communal-fascist agenda of spreading hatred and division, the right to defend workers’ rights, the right to oppose discrimination based on caste, religion, gender – all these are deeply and integrally part of being a genuine, sovereign and plural democracy!

Exploring Democracy, Reclaiming the Republic – II

 

protest-in-patna_7453c3ee-bf5c-11e5-aa4a-49b6c7b94749Today, as we continue to demand action against those responsible for Rohith Vemula’s institutional murder, the horrific news of 3 more suicides reached us. Three women students committed suicide in Tamil Nadu, driven to despair and death by the massive fees charged by private education “shops” masquerading as colleges. Across the country, students have been protesting against fee hikes and privatisation of education. And now, 3 women students, bearing the brunt of this mercenary commercialisation, have chosen to kill themselves to draw the country’s attention. 

It is now one week since Rohith Vemula died. His tragic death brought to the fore several crucial questions. It exposed, once again, the brutal and savage existence of institutionalised discrimination and alienation that Dalit students routinely face in educational institutions. It also tragically highlighted the dangers and deadly consequences of the Modi government’s blatant misuse of institutional power to further its partisan agenda. It is precisely these issues that Rohith and several others across the country had been raising for several weeks. It is indeed a sign of our times that it took a tragic death for these concerns to be highlighted in the mainstream discourse.

We live in times where institutions are being systematically and strategically used to impose the agenda of the RSS-BJP. The official platforms as well as the academic credibility of institutions such as JNU, DU, ICHR or the Indian Science Congress are being blatantly used to further the RSS’s hate project of “cultural nationalism”, Hindu Rashtra and communal division. And as the entire sequence of events leading to Rohith’s death points out, the state machinery and institutional power were being used to target, criminalise and victimise any possible dissent. In the RSS-ABVP dictionary, to differ with the RSS-BJP is to become “anti-national” and “extremist”, and to raise the issue of caste discrimination in Hinduism is to be “casteist”. The very act of political difference and dissent has now officially become sedition. So, Rohith and his friends can be socially boycotted in HCU, and Sandeep Pandey can be kicked out from his job in BHU for his “anti-national” views!

As we approach yet another 26 December, let us reflect upon the challenges before us to achieve Babasaheb Ambedkar’s vision of social, political and economic equality. Today, the RSS-BJP is forced by its political compulsions to try and appropriate Ambedkar’s legacy. This process of appropriation however inevitably runs into trouble, as Ambedkar’s ideas and ideology clash with the RSS’s notion of “cultural nationalism”. Time and again, RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat talks about the need to “review” caste-based reservations. And now, even in the midst of the huge national furore over caste-based discrimination, BJP leader and Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan reiterates this “need” to “review reservations”, thus revealing the RSS-BJP’s deep discomfort with the notion of affirmative action for socially deprived communities.

Let us have a look at some facts:

A new study has confirmed how higher education in India remains a highly discriminatory space, where SC/STs, OBCs, minorities and women are STILL severely underrepresented both among teachers and students.

All India Survey on Higher Education (AISHE) Report (2012-13): The AISHE survey, conducted online by the Department of Higher Education, MHRD, covered 633 universities (public and private), 24,120 colleges and 6,772 standalone institutions. The survey’s finding show that the representation of Muslims, Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribe and Other Backward Classes in higher education teaching jobs is way below the proportion of their population even after 68 years of independence. (http://thewire.in/2015/09/08/higher-education-is-still-a-bar-too-high-for-muslims-dalits-10214/)

Representation Among Teachers

  • According to the Survey 62.5% of teachers in higher education are upper caste Hindus. A mere 6.95% teachers are SCs, whereas the SC population is 16.6% according to the 2011 Census. 1.99% teachers are STs, while ST form 8.6% of the total population. 21.92% teachers are OBC while NSSO 2006 showed OBCs to be 41% of the population. 3.09% teachers are Muslims while Muslims form 14.2% of the population. 3.2% of teachers are from other minorities.
  • The overall representation of women among teachers at the national level is 39% – when it should be over 50%. SC, ST, OBC and Muslim women are even more underrepresented.

What about representation among students?

SC students constitute 12.2%, STs 4.4%, OBCs 30.05% and Muslim students 3.9% of the overall student body. The enrolment of women students has improved, with 44.89% students being women, but India still has a long way to go for achieving gender parity. The AISHE data shows that Muslims are the most underrepresented at both state and national levels when it comes to student enrolment in higher education.

What about the much-touted Modi’s Gujarat model?

6.7% of Gujarat’s population are SCs, while just 4.79 % are teachers. 14.8% of Gujarat’s population are STs but just 3.62% of teachers are STs. 9.7% of Gujarat’s population are Muslims while just 1.18% teachers are Muslims. And just 1.81% of students are Muslims in Gujarat.    

Even in West Bengal, which has seen prolonged CPI-M rule, the representation SC/ST/OBC/Muslims is poor.

23.5% population in WB are SCs but a mere 5.49% of teachers and 16.08% of students are SCs.

5.8% of population in WB is ST but just 0.77 of teachers and 2.86% of students are STs. 27% of the population of WB are Muslims; but just 3.01% of teachers and 9.04% of students are Muslims.

In Kerala also Muslim representation in higher education is extremely low. 26.6% of the population is Muslim but just 6.72% teachers and 10.34% students are Muslim. 

The study confirms that India has failed even to fulfill the reservations for SC/STs and OBCs as mandated by law. Clearly, far from the need to “review” and do away with reservations, the facts and the data show that far more work needs to be done to ensure genuine social inclusion.

The following issues HAVE to be addressed:

  • Continued denial of mandated reservations in admissions and faculty appointments. In the massively proliferating private educational institutions, there exists no provisions for reservation at all.
  • Discrimination in schools: Dalit children are very often brutally punished in school, denied access to water supplies in the school, made to sit separately in classrooms, and forced to manually clean the school toilets.
  • Thorat Committee report and recommendations on discrimination in higher education: The Thorat committee report clearly showed the multiple dimensions of discrimination even in ‘premier’ institutions such as the AIIMS, with 72% of SC/ST students in AIIMS saying they faced discrimination, and 88% reporting various forms of social isolation. Yet, the recommendations of the Thorat committee have NOT been implemented – and tragic suicides of Dalit and tribal students continue.
  • Shocking Paucity of Enabling Provisions of Hostels and Financial Assistance: We find systemic attempts to deny proper funding of infrastructure and other mechanisms, which are essential to encourage and allow students from deprived backgrounds to avail of educational facilities. These structures, particularly social welfare hostels, remain perennially underfunded and poorly managed.
  • Scholarships and Financial assistance: Even as every ruling party speak the rhetoric of social inclusion and justice, a very miniscule proportion of SC/ST students have access to financial assistance schemes such as the Rajiv Gandhi National Fellowship. Far from universal coverage, across the country, approximately ONLY 2000 SC/ST students are awarded the RGNF fellowship! A similar situation besets the implementation of pre-matric and post-matric scholarships for SC/ST students.
  • Massive reduction in funding of SC/ST sub-plans: The Union Budget (2015-16) has allocated Rs 30,851 cr. for SC Sub Plan and Rs 19,980 cr. for Tribal Sub Plan. This falls much short of the officially accepted requirement of allocations in proportion to population share. The National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights (NCDHR) pointed out that, as per the SCSP/TSP Guidelines, the SCs should be allocated Rs 77,236 cr. towards SCSP (16.6 per cent of the Plan Outlay), and the STs should be allocated Rs 40,014 crores towards TSP (8.6 per cent of the Plan Outlay). Thus, Dalits have been denied 61 per cent of the due amount under the SCSP and 53 per cent has been denied to Adivasis under TSP.

Defeat the Dangerous ‘Mere Paas Mantri Hai’ Syndrome:

A grave danger we face today is the misuse of institutional power to further the RSS agenda, and to simultaneously squash any differing and dissenting view of this agenda. The power and might of administrations and institutions and the state machinery now criminalise dissent. Nothing portrays the state of affairs as poignantly as the death of Rohith Vemula. At the heart of the entire sequence of events in HCU is how ABVP and its party bosses in the Union Ministry dictated a pliant HCU administration to criminalise and witch-hunt students who hold a different ideological and political viewpoint. An elected Member of Parliament, BJP’s Bandaru Dattatreya, acts on a complaint raised by the ABVP (affiliated to the same RSS that Dattatreya belongs to) and terms the Ambedkar Students’ Association’s dissent as “anti-national”, “extremist” and “casteist”. The entire local RSS-BJP machinery joins in this campaign to vilify dissent in HCU. Dattatreya writes to the MHRD, and the MHRD in turn writes five letters to the HCU Administration within three months on this issue. Clearly, the entire RSS-BJP machinery, from top to bottom, got itself involved and used the official state machinery as well as institutions to further its own agenda of crushing and punishing dissent. Nothing can be more dangerous to the very idea of democracy.

 

Exploring Democracy, Reclaim the Republic – I

 

On the 26th of January 1950, we are going to enter into a life of contradictions. In politics we will have equality and in social and economic life we will have inequality. In politics we will be recognizing the principle of one man one vote and one vote one value. In our social and economic life, we shall, by reason of our social and economic structure, continue to deny the principle of one man one value… How long shall we continue to deny equality in our social and economic life? If we continue to deny it for long, we will do so only by putting our political democracy in peril” Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar

As we move towards 26 January, let us remind ourselves of what the chief architect of our Constitution, Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar, had to see about the nature of “democracy”. Ambedkar was crystal clear that political democracy was incomplete and even meaningless without social and economic equality. More than 65 years after India officially became a Republic, both social and economic ‘inequality’ that Ambedkar warned us of stubbornly persists. And this inequality persists precisely because of the lack of political will to address inequality.

Let us have a look at some facts.

French Economist Thomas Piketty, shows that income and wealth concentration in India today is amongst the HIGHEST in the world. According to Credit Suisse’s Global Wealth Databook, in 2014, India’s richest 10 per cent own nearly 75% of total wealth in the country. Even in the US, top 10%’s income share is 45-50 % of total income. In Europe this share is much lower, at 30-35 per cent.

In 2014, India’s top 1% held close to 50% the country’s total wealth, according to Credit Suisse’s Global Wealth Databook.

India has the highest share amongst the poorest 40% people in the world.

What are the global figures?

According to a recently released Oxfam World Inequality report, 62 richest persons in the world own as much the poorest 50% of the world’s entire population’s wealth. In 2010, it required the richest 388 persons to make up the wealth of the bottom 50%. Since then, the world’s richest 62 persons have added 44% to their cash and assets while the wealth of the bottom half has dropped by 41% despite an increase in the global population of 400 million. Within five years, the majority of the world’s wealth has been consolidated into the hands of less than one-sixth of the number of persons who used to control it.

 Nine out of 10 World Economic Forum corporate partners had a presence in at least one tax haven and it was estimated that tax dodging by multinational corporations costs developing countries at least $100 billion every year. Corporate investment in tax havens almost quadrupled between 2000 and 2014.

80% of the world’s populations owns ONLY 5.5% of the global wealth.

This wealth inequality is NO accident. The Oxfam report points out that the world’s most wealthy people spend enormous amounts of their money each year on lobbying efforts designed to defend the assets they have and expand their ability to make even more. “The most prolific lobbying activities… are on budget and tax issues; public resources that should be directed to benefit the whole population, rather than reflect the interests of powerful lobbyists”. And several pliant governments allow them to do so.

One particular thing that was never really done in India was growth-based investment in basic schemes, basic education, health… I think there is no example of a country that has become rich with such a low level of taxation as what we have in India today. This is simply the evidenceThomas Piketty

During his recent visit to India, Piketty talked about the huge dangers of growing inequality in India. Underlining the measures required to address inequality, Piketty stressed the need to tax the rich far more in India. He pointed out that the tax-to-GDP ratio in India is less than 11%, and in fact India has ZERO wealth tax! Therefore, India struggles to meet challenges of inequality. According to Piketty, the tax-GDP ratio should be between 30-50%, if India that really serious about addressing systematic deprivation, poverty and inequality.

The Paradox of Our Republic: The paradox and doublespeak of our economy is turned into a ‘common-sense’ through a cleverly-crafted vocabulary perpetuated by academics, media and the corporate as well as political establishment.

Public Funds for Corporates is called ‘Incentive’, Same for the Poor is ‘Subsidy: Public money, land and other natural resources handed over to super-rich corporates for profiteering is an ‘incentive’, something necessary, essential and “good”. Yet, public money used for supporting subsistence farmers, for funding education and healthcare, for expanding the scope of fellowships and scholarships for students, for ensuring food security for India’s poor – are cleverly termed as ‘subsidies’ which are a ‘fiscal burden’ and must be done away with.

Concessions for Corporates is ‘Desirable’ for a ‘Level Playing Field’, but Reservations for Deprived Students is against ‘Merit’ and ‘Efficiency’: Corporate houses routinely demand funds and various waivers from governments, in the name of ensuring a “level playing ground”. But, when farmers demand public funding and infrastructure in order to survive, suddenly using public funds becomes “trade distorting” and undesirable. When students from deprived backgrounds demands reservations and scholarships in order to enter institutions of higher education and jobs, in order to ensure a truly “level playing ground”, all sorts of excuses are trotted out to deny these demands and deride the idea of “reservations” by the very same corporates and their ideologues in media, academia and politics!!!

India’s public health system has a budget of barely 0.5 per cent of GDP, compared with almost 3 per cent in China. In the education sector too, India’s investment is pitifully low as we are well aware. The simple solution for this ensuring lack of investment would be to increase taxes, and extract resources from the super-rich to fund public health, education and infrastructure. But successive governments have of course refused to do so.

The Modi government has in fact gone in the opposite direction! It has announced its intention of reducing the rate of taxation of corporate incomes to 25 per cent, a rate which is even lower than in rich countries.

The modus operandi of the current government is simple:

Firstly, DO NOT tax rich corporate houses, do not collect money from the rich. Give them massive tax breaks, sops and huge bank loans from public banks – all in the name of ‘incentives’. Every year, more than 5 lakh crores is the revenue willingly foregone by the Indian government, in its bid to defend corporate profits. That is, the government could have collected 5 lakh crores EXTRA every single year, and used it for education, healthcare and agriculture. But it didn’t.

Secondly, after facilitating massive loans to corporate houses, funded by public-sector banks, DO NOT ask the corporates to pay back! 37 banks, led by public sector ones, have reported a 26.8 per cent rise in non-performing assets (NPAs) or bad loans over the 12-month period ending September 2015. NPAs here refers to unrecovered bank loans given by the banks. This is a nearly 10 per cent rise from the 16.9 per cent growth in bad loans over the same period a year ago. The banks with a major share in bad loans include Bank of India, Bank of Baroda, Indian Overseas Bank, SBI and Punjab National Bank.

Who profits from these unrecovered loans? As the table here shows, it is the likes of Adanis and the Ambanis who benefit! Just the unrecovered loans from ONE company, Reliance, equals the entire much-touted Special Package for Bihar (1.25 lakh crores)

Thirdly, spend absurdly small amounts of public money on education, health care, sanitation and basic infrastructure. Tell people that the government “has no money” to fund scholarships for students, subsidies for farmers, or for MNREGA and PDS.

As we approach yet another Republic Day, let us remember Babasaheb’s vision of social, economic and political democracy. This existing inequality is an insult to his vision, and to the spirit that he tried so hard to enshrine in the Constitution.

6873_931191980261437_535223306770378825_n

Source: http://www.catchnews.com/business-economy-news/shock-and-awe-the-top-10-indebted-companies-in-india-1451572290.html

Mere Paas Mantri Hai: End Saffron Brigade’s Muscle Flexing in Campuses Blessed by State Power!

AISA Parcha Jan 21 hcu21.1.17

#JusticeForRohithVemula!


In the few days that have passed since Rohith Vemula’s tragic death, we have witnessed protests in campuses across the country. As we all now know, Rohith and four other Dalit research scholars and activists of Ambedkar Students’ Association (ASA) were punished by the University of Hyderabad (UoH), based on fabricated charges. This punishment was clearly a result of the severe pressure exerted by ABVP, BJP MLC Ramachandra Rao, BJP MP and Union Minister for Labour Bandaru Dattatreya and HRD Minister Smriti Irani. Rohith along with other students had been agitating to demand revocation of the unjust punishment, when he committed suicide.

In order to try and contain the massive protests that have emerged in the wake of Rohith’s death, a series of lies, slander, and communal division is being floated by ABVP-RSS-BJP, as well as the MHRD.

  • They are trying to claim that ASA and Rohith’s opposition to Yakub Memon’s hanging was the reason and trigger for the entire issue. This is patently false, and a part of the ABVP-RSS’ habitual tactics of spreading communal divisions in order to garner support. The trigger for the sequence of events leading to Rohith’s death was a protest in HCU when ABVP forcibly stopped the screening of a film Muzaffarnagar Baaki Hai in DU. The reason for this subterfuge is clear. The ABVP-RSS desperately need to do this, and to portray Rohith as a ‘terrorist sympathiser’ and ‘anti-national’, in order to hide and justify their role.

  • They tried to question Rohith’s caste status as a Dalit. Contrary to the RSS slander machine, it has now been conclusively established that he was a Dalit. The MHRD minister claims that his death was not a ‘Dalit versus non-Dalit issue’, flying in the face of all evidence.

  • Smriti Irani’s Press Conference yesterday is FULL of lies and misinformation. She stated for instance that the Head of the committee which punished Rohith was a Dalit. This, and her other claims, are LIES, and have been painstakingly pointed out by the SC/ST Teachers’ and Staff Association in HCU. In fact, in protest against Smriti Irani’s campaign of lies, 10 Dalit faculty members have resigned from their administrative positions in HCU.

  • Smriti Irani claimed that 5 letter written by MHRD on this matter in 3 months is a ‘routine procedural matter’. Coming from a Minister who has NEVER once intervened in the several instances of ABVP’s violence in various campuses, or on any of students’ demands such as the non-NET fellowships, this is purely absurd!

ABVP’s Muscle-flexing and RSS-BJP Interference : In the midst of all these lies, let us once again examine the FACTS.

In August last year, the ASA had held a protest march in HCU against the ABVP’s disruption of the screening of the documentary Muzaffarnagar Baqi Hai in Delhi University. An ABVP leader had called the ASA activists ‘goons’ for the same. The ASA had demanded an apology – and the ABVP leader had apologized in presence of the campus security. But later, he claimed he had been beaten up by the ASA activists.

  • The HCU Proctorial enquiry had found that the medical reports as well as statements of security staff did not show any evidence of the ABVP leader having been beaten. The HCU Chief Medical Officer, who is a Dalit, has also accused the HCU VC for being casteist, and deliberating ignoring him.

  • Reports NOW show that the HCU administration has stated in an affidavit in the court, and the Hyderabad police has also supported this claim, that the ABVP leader’s claims of massive assaults on him were ‘exaggerated’. The police reports clearly state that there was NO evidence of massive assaults on Susheel Kumar, ABVP President in Hyderabad (Times of India, 21 January 2016 online reports, http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/hyderabad/ABVP-mans-injury-claims-false-police-say/articleshow/50661841.cms).

  • Yet, despite all these facts, the entire witch-hunt by HCU administration started unfolding under political pressure. To begin with, the BJP MLC Ramachandra Rao intervened, forcing the Proctorial Board to recommend suspension of five Dalit students including Rohith Vemula.

  • Subsequently the earlier Vice Chancellor revoked the suspension following protests and dialogue with students, and ordered a fresh enquiry. Meanwhile Union Minister for Labour Bandaru Dattatreya wrote a letter to the HRD Minister claiming that the UoH had become a den of ‘casteist, extremist and anti-national politics’ and falsely peddling the deliberate lie that ASA students beat up ABVP leader Sushil Kumar when the latter protested against ASA protests against Yakub Memon’s execution.

  • The MHRD under Smriti Irani then wrote no less than 5 letters in literally 3 months to the UoH over period of three months, demanding a response on “anti-national activities” on the campus! In this matter, the HRD Minister followed the same pattern she had earlier done, when she wrote to the IIT Madras to seek action against the Ambedkar Periyar Study Circle following a letter by an RSS person branding the APSC as anti-national.  

  • A new Vice Chancellor was appointed by the BJP HRD Ministry at the Centre soon after. He, in a payback mode, bypassed the issue of a fresh enquiry, and instead used the Executive Council (which the VC himself chairs) to suspend the five students – clearly under pressure from the HRD Ministry, Union Minister and BJP-RSS lobby. Not content with this, the EC also ordered what amounted to a social boycott of the five Dalit students – barring them from accessing the library, hostels, common places, administrative building, and from contesting students’ union elections.

  • The brute might of state power was also to be seen in the fact that Rohith was denied dignity even after his tragic death. As per the custom of the particular community that Rohith belonged to, he was supposed to be buried, not cremated. The police snatched his body from the students and misled them about the place of cremation. The cremation took place, not at the designated place, but at some other place, without consulting his family. His family and friends were not even allowed to pay him their last respects.

  • There have of course been several tragic suicides of Dalit students before, in HCU and elsewhere. The question in this particular case is: Unlike other cases, WHEN have two Union Ministers, and state machinery acted to precipitate matters in the manner we have outlined above, leading to and causing a suicide?

The entire saga will probably go down as the most vicious and grossest possible misuse of public office.

It is this state of affairs that has led to the suicide of Rohith Vemula. Rohith’s suicide note speaks of his desire to be a science writer and reach for the stars, but his sense that his birth itself was a ‘fatal accident.’ When a Dalit scholar is made to feel that even in a Central University, he can be ostracized, falsely accused, punished without evidence, and subjected to a social boycott and denial of rights thanks to the ‘fatal accident’ of his birth, it is indeed a shame.

Rohith Vemula’s death leaves us with several questions. On the one hand, it is yet another grim remainder of the terrible, institutional discrimination and alienation faced by Dalit students who enter our higher education institutions against all odds. But what this tragic episode reveals is the absolute dangerous use of state power by the ABVP-RSS-BJP, which they are known to use in every educational and university campus. Now, we are in a situation when the entire state machinery is being blatantly used to punish, victimise and ostracize ALL differing and dissenting opinion!

Cult of Criminalising All Differing Viewpoint: Take the ABVP-BJP’s use of Rohith’s opposition to Yakub’s killing to somehow brand him an ‘anti-national’ and punish him. As many of us have pointed out, there has been wide public condemnation of Yakub’s killing, in Delhi, Hyderabad and across the country. So, going by this logic, all those who raise democratic concerns differing from the government can now be termed ‘anti-national’ by the ABVP-RSS, and the entire state machinery can be used to victimise them even to death! It is indeed a ‘Mere Pass Mantri Hai’ muscle-flexing syndrome.

AISA demands that all those responsible for the victimization that led to the suicide of the Dalit scholar – including the ABVP leader who made a fabricated complaint, the University authorities, the VC, the Union Labour Minister and the Union HRD Minister be punished, and the Union Ministers who used their official position to pressurise the UoH administration to witch-hunt the Dalit students branding them as ‘anti-nationals’, leading to the death of Rohith Vemula, be sacked from their posts with immediate effect. Continuing punishment against all four Dalit scholars be immediately revoked and Rohith’s family be compensated.

Rise Up against the Institutional Murder of Rohith Vemula!

 

rohit-3

Rohit Along with his friends Leaving hostel After rustication

Resist Serial Political Targeting and Victimisation of Progressive Student Activists Across Campuses Under the Diktats of the Saffron Regime!

Down with the Victimisation and Ostracisation of 5 Dalit Research Scholars by the UoH Administration Under BJP-ABVP’s Political Diktats!

Yesterday, as a united student protest was going on against the victimisation of 5 Dalit research scholars by the University of Hyderabad’s administration, the news of the tragic suicide one of Rohith Vemula reached us. Even as we collectively mourn the shocking and tragic loss, let us not fail to nail those responsible. Rohith along with four other students had been indicted by the UOH Administration without any evidence. Even the administrative enquiry report mentions this clearly. And yet they were evicted from their hostels, barred from entering public spaces in the university, and participating in student union elections.
This action didn’t happen in a vacuum. A series of letters and communication between the UOH Administration, local BJP leaders as well MHRD reveals that the decision for this vindictive action was taken at the behest of the ABVP-BJP combine. No less that BJP MP and Union Minister Bandaru Dattatreya has been writing letters to the MHRD for the past few months demanding action against ‘anti national’ ‘extremist’ and ‘casteist’ members of the Ambedkar Student Association in HCU. The victimisation of the Dalit students at the University, and the subsequent death of Rohith Vemula is a consequence of this targeted witch-hunt.
The HCU administration, ABVP-BJP and MHRD be held responsible for this horrifically condemnable role in this entire sequence of events. AISA has given a call for observing 19th January as National Protest Day. We call upon all students to unite and ensure that those responsible for Rohith’s death be punished.

Saffron Emergency in Campuses

Bandaru Dettareya's Letter tp Smriti Irani Asking her to 'ensure' Punishment for Rohit and His ComradesOur educational system is currently facing an unprecedented crisis. With communal fascist forces in power, the entire state machinery and bureaucracy is being used to further a divisive communal agenda, to defend exclusion and growing lack of access to educational institutions, hostels and scholarships. In campus after campus, all democratic spaces of discussion, dissent and social inclusion are being scuttled, and the dangerous process of saffron infiltration and indoctrination continues unabated.

In the recent past, at IIT-Madras, the administration (acting on the letter of the MHRD) banned the Ambedkar Periyar Study Circle (APSC), which the administration was forced to withdraw after country-wide protests. At FTII, the historic resistance of the students to saffron appointments has been met with every kind of brutal response–intimidation, victimisation, lathi charges and arrests. At EFLU, an emergency-like situation exists. Students are suspended for participating in peaceful protests, there is a total ban on public meetings, seminars and all democratic activities, and even facebook posts critical of the Modi government’s policies have led to suspensions and rustications! At IIT-BHU, Prof. Sandeep Pandey has been removed from his faculty position for daring to hold ideological views contrary to the ruling powers.  The  rustication of 5 Dalit students culminating in loss of  a life  in UoH is the latest in an ever-growing list of dangerous saffronized intimidation in campuses across the country, at the behest of the BJP.

As students, we are of course more than familiar with exactly who indulges in violence and hooliganism on campuses across the country! In DU, ABVP ransacked the DU History department and assaulted the Head of the Department (2008) for the History department’s ‘crime’ of inclusion of A.K. Ramanujan’s seminal essay the ‘300 Ramayanas’! They have regularly threatened, intimidated and beaten up students and left activists for their ideological views and struggles for students’ rights, latest being the assaults on AISA activists during a protest against the imposition of the retrograde CBCS in DU and vandalism to stop the screening of the film Muzaffarnagar Baqi Hai.

Who can forget the abuse and violence that students camping at UGC were subjected to by the ABVP members on the intervening night of 22-23 October? ABVP’s elected Union representatives from JNU and DU were attacking students demanding the right to education!

In Allahabad University, again, ABVP’s Union representatives engaged in physical violence to stop a programme related to #OccupyUGC. None of us have forgotten how ABVP activists were involved in the vandalism and lynching leading to the death of Professor Sabharwal in Ujjain some years ago.

Steady Sanghi infiltration in universities and use of state power have ensured that the very same university administrations which immediately suspend or rusticate progressive activists based on spurious complaints made by ABVP, NEVER take any action on ABVP’s violence and hooliganism!

In the latest incidence of state crackdown on dissenting voices, the Delhi Police brutally lathicharged and threw water cannon on the students protesting against victimisation of dalit students in HCU resulting in the death of Rohith on 18th December in Delhi. DU AISA secretary comrade Sudhanshu was beaten on the head and is severely injured.

indexIn the backdrop of this dangerous trend of muzzling of democracy across campuses, saffronisation and commercialisation of educational institutions, we are also witnessing a remarkable resistance. Across the country, each and every act of saffron intimidation and harassment is being countered – from JNU and IIT-Madras to FTII, EFLU, Allahabad,  and UoH. AISA and RYA once again appeal  everyone to join national protest day against the institutional murder of Rohith Vemula on 19th December 2016.

WTO Threats to India’s Sovereignty and Social Justice: Mounting Dangers for Agriculture, Food Security, Health and Education

cartooon“In a victory for the US and EU, which have been pushing for a new path forward for the WTO, trade ministers from its 162 member countries meeting in Nairobi on Saturday failed to “reaffirm” the Doha Round for the first time since it was launched amid great fanfare in 2001. They also opened the door to the discussion of new issues at the WTO such as the digital economy and investment” – Financial Times (New York), 19 December 2015

The WTO talks at Nairobi have ended. India’s chief negotiator, commerce minister, Nirmala Sitharaman has gone on record to admit that India is “thoroughly disappointed” with the outcome of the talks. India and other developing and least developed countries (LDCs) expressed their ‘explicit disagreement’ on the virtual junking of the Doha Development Agenda . And yet, despite the stated disappointment and ‘disagreement’, the final deal was signed and endorsed by India. Despite the Modi government’s tall talk of ’56 inch chests’ and ‘India’s growing image and power’ in the global space as a result of Modi’s frequent foreign visits, India was silenced and forced to accept a BAD deal at Nairobi – a deal which compromises its policy space and its economic sovereignty.

The ‘roaring mouse’ phenomenon: The politics of much ‘protest’ and systematic surrender by India

Whether it is the climate change talks, or the WTO negotiations, the simple fact is that developing countries such as India can extract positive outcomes if and only if they forge strong and united fronts with other developing countries. At Nairobi, Nirmala Sitharaman and India chose to do exactly the opposite. They broke ranks with those who should have been allies, such as other countries of the ‘Global south’. Instead, they entered into closed negotiations with the US, the EU, Brazil and China to finalise and formalise the Nairobi agreement, knowing full well that the composition and format of this group was heavily loaded against India. The inevitable followed: India buckled down after much ‘roaring’ and ‘protest’, and conceded ground to US-EU bullying on several fronts. India and the Modi government neither sought an amendment to the disastrous Nairobi agreement, nor blocked it. The impacts of this surrender will be acutely felt by future Indian negotiators at the WTO, as several observers have noted. Subsequently, to placate the domestic protests in India, Sitharaman pretended to be ‘disappointed’ after virtually having given up even trying to defend India’s interests. As one negotiator told the website The News Minute:  “It looks like India has borrowed a page from Mother Teresa – give, give, give, till it hurts”.

What exactly happened at Nairobi?

  • Junking of the agenda of the “Doha Development Round”: The Doha Development Agenda (DDA), has been the only negotiating platform to discuss the concerns of developing countries, particularly with reference to agriculture and farm subsidies. In a sense, DDA was not merely a set of issues but more of a set of negotiating principles and a framework for taking the issues forward. At Nairobi, the DDA has virtually been junked. Thus, from now on, the absence of the DDA framework will make it harder for the Indian negotiators to drive a hard bargain on export competition, market access, public stockholding or the Special Safeguard Mechanism. This is such a huge setback that even Nirmala Sitharaman has been forced to concede and admit its seriousness.
  • Opening the doors to contentious “new issues”: In the Nairobi declaration, there is an explicit mention of bringing in “new issues” such as investment, global value chains, competition policy, labour standards, environment, and so on into the future WTO talks. This inclusion has strongly been opposed by developing countries from the start, and was unfortunately suddenly conceded by India on the very last day. This is yet another huge surrender, and in future these “new” issues can and will be used by the US-EU as a major bargaining chip against India.
  • No progress on key agricultural concerns such as Food Security and PDS: One of India’s prime concerns clearly should have been defending its right to have a Food Security system in place, complete with a Public Distribution System and Public Stockholding Of Commodities, domestic subsidies to farmers, procurement of crop by the State at a minimum support price etc. This has been frowned upon by the US, even though the US itself heavily subsidises its own farmers! At Nairobi, there has been NO progress in this regard. In other words, India could not extract a permanent guarantee that it has the right to continue with various food security schemes. Neither was there any final and binding agreement on the right of poorer countries to have Special Safeguard Mechanisms (SSM) in order to protect domestic farmers from foreign imports, safeguards that ironically happily exist in the US and other developed nations!

On the other hand, the inclusion of “new” issues has only provided with the US-EU with yet another fresh bargaining chip to use against India whenever crucial issues to defend our Public Distribution System (PDS) are brought up. India surrendered its only bargaining chip by agreeing to the Trade Facilitation Agreement (in which the US was keenly interested) unilaterally, without asking for a quid pro quo in terms of a permanent solution to our public stockholding programme. In other words, India did not even use all legal procedures possible to defend common Indians’ rights!

  • Reality of the much trumpeted ‘Declaration’ on elimination of export subsidies in agriculture: Desperate to claim that the poor and developing countries had indeed ‘achieved’ something out the Nairobi agreement, much is being made of elimination of export subsidies in agriculture provided by the developed countries. The fact of the matter is that this has been agreed in principle since 2005, and is thus NOT an ‘achievement’ of the Nairobi agreement. Further, as an expert has pointed out: “…this [removal of export subsidy] will not apply to “processed products and dairy products for the Members who have notified export subsidies for such products or categories of products in their latest notification on export subsidies to the Committee on Agriculture”. It is the processed products and dairy products from the US and EU that are increasingly penetrating into the markets of developing countries and devastating local food industries.” Secondly, the domestic subsidies in ‘production’ and ‘agriculture’ (in contrast to export subsidies) provided by developed nations to their farmers is far far higher, and far more “trade distorting”, to use WTO’s own language. For example, the 2014 US farm legislation has been shown to most likely result in subsidies in excess of the country’s current WTO commitments and well beyond the commitments negotiated in the Doha Round. Yet, NO negotiations have happened in this regard! US and EU farmers and animals continue to receive far higher subsidies than their Indian counterparts, and Nairobi was the first WTO meet since Doha where this issue was not even brought up for discussion by India or any other concerned nation.
  • Decision on cotton exports: At Nairobi, it was decided that cotton from lesser developed countries would be given duty-free and quota-free access to the markets of developed countries. But, there is NO change in the current scheme of massive subsidies which the US provides its cotton farmers, by far the greatest source of “trade distortion”. US cotton subsidies $1.5 billion per year will simply continue, thus increasing US exports and suppressing cotton prices.
  • Danger still lurking over inclusion of education under GATS: At Nairobi, given the range and complexity of the issues around agriculture, it was decided at the beginning of the meeting that NO other issue except agriculture would be on the agenda. GATS, NAMA (non-agricultural market access) and TRIPS were kept aside. Therefore, the issue of including education under GATS was not discussed for the time being.

In other words, the Nairobi talks were just another tragic display of how the Modi government failed to protect and defend Indian farmers. The Indian delegation simply capitulated – not even resorting to basic minimum of demanding amendments or blocking the agreement, tactics which have been employed in the past!

After this disastrous meeting, the Modi government has to be held responsible for the several acts of commission and omission which led to the surrender to US-EU interests. What has been lost is not just farmers’ rights and India’s negotiating space at the WTO, but the massively damaged unity with G-90 and the Global South.

History and Politics of the WTO

What happened at Nairobi is indeed a sad reiteration of the larger history and politics of the WTO. It has been a platform controlled in many ways by the powers, influences and interests of the US-EU. It is indeed a platform designed as a tool to further economic imperialism and control over third-world economies. In the name of ensuring “free trade” and “removing trade distortions”, the WTO merely uses these as excuses to prevent the poorer nations from protecting themselves. In other words, so-called ‘trade distortions’ such as subsidies are fine, according to those dictating terms at the WTO, as long as the US-EU indulges in these tactics. The only way, if any, to circumvent the use of the WTO as a imperial tool has been for poorer countries to come together as a block and stick firmly together to protect their combined interests. When they fail to do so, as India did at Nairobi, the results are visible for everyone to see.

The US and other developed countries are adept at adopting multiple strategies. Their latest strategy is to enter into “regional trade agreements” (RTAs like Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) and Trans Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP))  on specific issues with individual countries or small groups of countries, rather than at the WTO table. The reason is simple. They want to undermine the collective influence of the Global South, and to weaken the latter’s negotiating power by preventing collective negotiations and bargaining.  By entering into these regional trade agreements, where the scope of issues on the table is also undoubtedly smaller, the US-EU hope to use their power and influence to extract concessions without room for any quid pro quo.  The undermining of the Doha Agreement at Nairobi is part of this US-EU strategy.

In the days to come, the full impact of the Modi government’s surrender at Nairobi will be felt by Indian farmers and people at large. At the very least, the government should be asked to immediately prepare a White Paper on the WTO negotiations and on the various free trade agreements (FTAs) signed.


Sanghi Attempts of Legitimizing its communal Agenda Faces Opposition from Students

 

Down with Sangh Parivar and BJP’s Use of State and Administrative Machinery for Imposition, Infiltration And Indoctrination of Its Communal Agenda In Academic Spaces!

 

AISA Activists along with Other organozations protesting against the ''Ram Janmbhoomoi derbate'

AISA Activists along with Other organizations protesting in front of DU Arts Faculty

Following close on the heels of attempts to accord academic legitimacy to Baba Ramdev by inviting him as a keynote speaker in a conference in JNU, the Delhi University has now allowed its premises to be used by a VHP led organaisation for a seminar to garner support for constructing a Ramjanambhoomi temple in Ayodhya.

Prof. Sandeep Pandey, a respected academician and social activist has recently been kicked out of his job in IIT-BHU, on the grounds of his political beliefs. A well-known campaigner for universal education and democratic rights, he has been a vocal and consistent opponent of communalism, displacement in the name of ‘development’, mindless nuclearisation and feudal oppression.

Just a couple of days back, the entire state machinery in Pune was brutally deployed to lathi charge, assault and arrest peacefully protesting students in FTII, in order to somehow install Gajendra Chauhan in the institution.

In Hyderabad Central University, Dalit students have been evicted from hostels and rusticated simply for protesting against entrenched Brahminicial caste hierarchies in campusus and in our society.

All these incidents currently unfolding in different parts of the country are proof enough that the process of infiltration, imposition and indoctrination continues unabated.

DU Hosting Ramjanambhoomi ‘Seminar’

For decades now, the Ramjanambhoomi issue has been used by the Sangh Parivar to spread its communal agenda of hatred and division. Now, once again we are seeing concerted attempts by the Sangh Parivar to milk this issue. This time around, as the BJP-RSS completely control the state machinery, we are seeing the deliberate and dangerous use of academic spaces in publicly funded universities as platforms to take forward this communal-fascist agenda. A two-day seminar to be held in the Delhi University on 9-10 January has been announced with a stated agenda to ‘mobilize public opinion for the Ram Janmbhoomi Temple’.

A private body, the Arundhati Vashishtha Anusandhan Peeth (affiliated to the VHP) is organising this seminar. It has obtained ‘permission’ to conduct this proposed ‘seminar’ in DU’s Arts Faculty. The fact that the DU administration has allowed the use of its space and infrastructure for this ‘seminar’ has to be seen in context. To begin with, the agenda of the proposed ‘seminar’ makes it abundantly clear that it is hardly academic in nature. For a well-known, publicly funded university to allow the misuse of not just its space but its academic credentials and legitimacy for this purpose is indeed dangerous. Secondly, the DU administration cannot escape responsibililty for this by claiming that it has nothing to do with the ‘seminar’, especially because the credentials and powers of a DU AC member (the DU AC is of course an administrative body) has been invoked to allow this seminar to happen in DU. Thirdly, let us not forget that the very same DU administration, which has allowed this ‘seminar’, has been over the years denying permission to the elected DUTA for holding even its GBMs. It has several times not allowed students’ organizations to use DU’s halls and rooms for programs. Even the use of DU’s small activity center has been snatched away. And now the same administration is bending over backwards to allow a clearly divisive campaign to use its space. This simply cannot be tolerated.

Resist the insidious process of saffron infiltration and indoctrination

We are continuously witnessing the systemic imposition of communal hate ideology in our academic spaces.

On the one hand, the BJP government is systematically slashing funds for education, restricting access to higher education and curtailing the scope of fellowships. On the other hand, the legitimacy of public spaces such as Universities and reputed academic institutions is being used and harnessed to further the agenda of the RSS-BJP. Be it Y. Sudarshan Rao‘s appointment in ICHR, or the forcible imposition of Gajendra Chauhan and other ABVP-RSS karyakartas in FTII and elsewhere, there is ample evidence of this process. Students and institutions across the country are bearing the brunt of these twin assualts, even as certain sections of those in power in these institutions are more than happy to kow-tow to this agenda, in order to curry favour with the ruling dispension. These assaults have to be resisted tooth and nail.


du1