Nationalism Vs Communal Fascism in India

Pic courtesy : PTI

Nationalism holds great significance and reverence in the minds of people of a country like India, which has a recent history of great sacrifices in the
struggle against colonial rulers. Like a wolf dressed in sheep’s clothing, RSS
and BJP dress up communal fascism as ‘nationalism’ to make fascism seem
respectable; and also to divert attention from their blatant betrayal of India’s own interests both during the freedom struggle and now.
During the freedom struggle, RSS and Savarkar advocated a ‘Hindu nation’,
hatred for minorities, praise for Hitler’s model of nation, and at the same time displayed contempt for the anti-colonial freedom fighters and martyrs. RSS had contempt for the Indian Constitution and the Indian tricolor flag. And today, the BJP Government betrays the interests of Indian citizens by
appeasing MNCs and imposing policies dictated by WTO, IMF, and the US in education, FDI in retail, nuclear liability, pharmaceutical pricing and patents as well as weakening hard won rights for the workers, poor and adivasis It is to hide this naked collaboration British colonialism then and
corporates &imperialists now, that the RSS-BJP-ABVP whip up the bogey
of ‘cultural nationalism’ so that the minorities are portrayed as ‘the enemy of the nation’ rather than the corporate and imperialist forces of the day.

The truth about RSS’ ‘Nationalism’?

Let us see some samples of RSS ideas – in their own words – to understand the features of RSS’ model of ‘Hindu Rashtra’ and ‘Hindu Rashtravad’:

Opposed Freedom Struggle:

The RSS never participated in the
freedom movement against British colonial rule and actively opposed it. They wrote:

  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,1996, p. 138)

Betrayed the 1942 Quit India Movement:

In 1942 also there
was a strong sentiment in the hearts of many.At that time too the routine work of Sangh continued. Sangh decided not to do anything directly.

(Golwalkar, Shri Guruji Samagra Darshan, Vol. IV, Nagpur, n.d., p.41)

During the 1942 Quit India Movement – When elected Indian Legislators
were resigningHindu Mahasabha & Muslim League were running
coalition govts in Bengal, Sindh, & NWFP and they did NOT Resign.
Further, RSS-ABVP hero Shyama Prasad Mookherjee – who was the
Deputy Chief Minister in Bengal- wrote a letter to the British Governor of
Bengal on 26 July 1942 openly expressing his determination to crush
the Quit India Movement

(Shyama Prasad Mookherjee, Leaves from a
Dairy, OUP, p. 179)!

Opposed the National Flag:

Just on the eve of independence on 14 Aug 1947, RSS official mouthpiece Organiser wrote:

The people who have come to power by the kick of fate may give in our hands the Tricolour but it will never be respected and owned by Hindus. The word three is in itself an evil and a flag having three
colours will certainly produce a very bad psychological effect and is
injurious to a country.

RSS Filed Case Against Youths For Hoisting Tricolour At
Its Nagpur HQ:

RSS and BJP Governments order madarsas to record
celebrations hoisting the national flag – to paint Muslims’ patriotism as suspect and needing surveillance. But the fact is that not only did RSS hate the tricolour way back in 1947 – the RSS did not fly the tricolour in its own
Nagpur HQ till 2001, and even filed cases against three youths of the
RashtrapremiYuva Dal for hoisting the tricolour in the RSS HQ on 26 January 2001! The three youths were acquitted in that case in 2013. Only
after this incident did the RSS start hoisting the tricolour in its
HQs, to pre-empt possible questions about their commitment to India. (http://thewirehindi.com/15834/indian-independence-and-rss/)

RSS’ Hindu Rashtra : Modelled on Hitler’s Fascist Germany:

In 1938, when the world was fighting fascism as the greatest threat to humanity, RSS leader Golwalkar was falling in love with fascism:

To keep up the purity of the nation and its culture, Germany
shocked the world by her purging the country of Semitic races –
the Jews. National pride at its highest has been manifested here…
a good lesson for us in Hindustan to learn and profit by… The
foreign races in Hindusthan must either adopt the Hindu culture
and language, must learn to respect and hold in reverence Hindu
religion, must entertain no idea but those of the glorification of the Hindu race and culture, i.e., of the Hindu nation and must lose their separate existence to merge in the Hindu race, or may stay in the country, wholly subordinated to the Hindu Nation, claiming nothing, deserving no privileges, far less any preferential treatment not even citizen’s rights.

(M. S. Golwalkar, We or Our Nationhood Defined, 1938, p. 35 &
pp. 47-48)

RSS Wanted Anti-Dalit, Anti-Women Manusmriti in the place of India’s Constitution:

Sangh ideologues held that Manu was the
“first and greatest lawgiver of the world”, and suggested that the anti Dalit and anti-women Manusmriti, which Dr Ambedkar burned, should be
the Constitution of Independent India!
When the Constituent Assembly of India had finalized the
Constitution of India the RSS mouthpiece, Organizer, in an editorial
on November 30, 1949, complained:

But in our constitution there is no
mention of the unique constitutional development in ancient Bharat. To this day his laws as enunciated in the Manusmriti excite the admiration of the world and elicit spontaneous obedience and
conformity. But to our constitutional pundits that means nothing.

According to Savarkar, another Hindutva hero:

Manusmriti is that scripture which is most worshipable after Vedas for our Hindu 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.

(Savarkar, V. D., ‘Women in Manusmriti’in Savarkar Samagar,
Vol. 4 New Delhi: Prabhat Prakashan, P. 416.)

Against Women’s Rights:

Golwalkar led the RSS in opposing the Hindu Code Bill (which was the first but incomplete step towards giving Hindu women equal rights to men), claiming that granting of rights to women would “cause great psychological upheaval” to men and “lead to mental disease and distress” (see Paula Bacchetta, Gender in the Hindu
Nation: RSS Women as Ideologues, p.124).

BJP’s UP CM and Sangh poster boy Yogi Adityanath, in an
article on ‘Matrshakti,’ repeated the Manusmriti norm that women
must always be under the control of the father, husband or son,
Further he quotes some scriptures to say that uncontrolled, free women
who acquire man-like qualities become ‘devilish’ (Navbharat Times,
20 March, 2017)!

Endorsing Wife-Beating:

The RSS women’s wing rationalises domestic violence saying:

“Don’t parents admonish their children for misbehaviour?
Just as a child must adjust to his/her parents, so must a wife act keeping in
mind her husband’s moods and must avoid irritating him.”

(Neha Dixit, “Holier than Cow” The Outlook 28 Jan 2013)

The RSS’ ‘Hindu Rashtra’ dream is a nightmare for democratic India! Reject
this mixture of communalism  and pro-imperialism which RSS-BJP ABVP is trying to sell in the name of ‘cultural nationalism’! Uphold
anti-imperialist nationalism of Bhagat Singh, defend the rights of the people of India, and resist policies dictated by the US, WTO, and corporate lobbies!
See More : Our dream of India and the current situation

70th Independence Day : March Forward with a new Dream

 

On the eve of India’s 70th Independence Day, the deaths of more than 63 children in a Gorakhpur Government hospital offer a grim diagnosis of the state of health of our democracy and polity. Those children did not die in a ‘tragedy’ – their lives were literally choked off by deliberate, cold-blooded negligence by Governments both at the Centre and Uttar Pradesh. Continue reading

Corruption and Corporate Takeover of Democracy

Finance Bill 2017 Legalising Unlimited and Anonymous Corporate Funding for Political Parties!

Huge Bank Loan Write-Off for Defaulting Corporates!

Rising  Revenue Loss Due to Corporate Tax Exemptions!

Demonetisation Charade!

Mysterious Silence on Panama Papers!

GST Favouring Big Corporates, Decimating Small Producers & Traders!

The dominant and commonsensical understanding of corruption is often in terms of individuals benefiting from ‘bribe-giving’ and ‘bribe-taking’. But modern institutional corruption – flowing from a nexus of big capitalists and politicians/governments – has a much wider scope and graver implications than individual corruption. Continue reading

Tank in JNU :Modi Government waging War On India’s Universities

 

Student protesting in Tiananmen Square

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The JNU Vice Chancellor, at a political event commemorating “Kargil Divas’, requested the two NDA Ministers present to procure decommissioned Army tank for the campus. He claimed that such a tank was needed to “inculcate love for the Army” among the students.On the same occasion, two of the speakers (former Army officers) congratulated the regime of the day for the “capture” of JNU and spoke of capturing other Universities next.

Continue reading

Hundreds of Dalit Homes Burnt in Nawada, Bihar

dalit-painting4In yet another brutal assault, hundreds of Dalit homes were burnt down in Nawada, Bihar. Around 150 homes were destroyed. This brazen attack comes close on the heels of weeks and months of threats, intimidation and attacks on this Dalit settlement.

In the Kajhiya village of Akbarpur block in Nawada, for years Dalits have been demanding their rights for lands and homesteads. They have been asking that the gair mazuarwa (common) land be distributed to the poor and the underprivileged so that they can build they homes on them. For the past one and half years, ever since Dalits built their homes on the common land, they have been facing the brunt of feudal assaults. Time and again, landed dominant castes have attacked the settlement, with the local administration taking absolutely no action. This inaction clearly emboldened the perpetrators, culminating in the latest act of arson burning down the entire settlement.

Feudal casteist attacks have been on the rise in Bihar for quite some time now, encouraged by the lackadaisical and indulgent role of the state administration. Recently, in the Baruhi village of Bhojpur, goons belonging to the Ranveer Sena shot at and killed Rajendra Mahato – a leader of farmers’ movements.

In Siwan, CPI(ML) leader Sanjay Chaurasia, who was a CPI(ML) candidate in the local panchayat elections, was killed. Yet, despite all these assaults, the perpetrators of violence are yet to be booked.

Across the country, such incidents of feudal and casteist violence continue unabated. In Madhya Pradesh a young student was not allowed to drink water from the common tap. Every single day, there is violence and discrimination.

As we in JNU fight a pitched battle against the saffron emergency in educational institutions, let us reiterate our resolve to expose and resist every single incident of institutionalised discrimination and violence. Let us say a firm NO: No to more Gohanas, more Nawadas, more deaths of Rohith Vemula.

Condemn the Racist Attack and Molestation of the Tanzanian Women Student in Bangalore!

 

Colossal Shame!

Condemn the Role of Karnataka Police and Shameful Denial of the State Govt!

AISA strongly condemns the shocking racist attack on a Tanzanian woman student in Bangalore on (31st January, 2016) Sunday night.

According to eyewitnesses, the victim along with her five friends was travelingrape11 in a car and had the misfortune to reach the spot, where in an accident some 30 minutes before a woman was run over by a car driven by a Sudanese national. The Tanzanian girl and her friends, who had nothing to do with the earlier accident, were brutally targeted by the gathered mob. In a display of shameful lynch-mob racism, the students were forced out of the car and then the car was set ablaze. She was chased, assaulted, and had her clothes torn by the mob. The driver of the second car was beaten up black and blue by the mob, who then stripped the girl student. When someone from the crowd offered her a T-Shirt, that man too was beaten up by the mob. She later, with her torn clothes, tried to enter a BMTC bus that had slowed down nearby, but the passengers in the bus pushed her back down on to the road. According to one of the victims, people were streaming out from buses, auto-rickshaws and charging towards the victims, punching and kicking them.

The victims were in no way connected to the Sudanese man involved in the earlier accident. The two were not even of the same nationality — other than being, in the eyes of the mob, of the same colour and race as ‘African’. The attack on her is a clear case of lynch mob vigilantism purely based on the colour of her skin! What else is it other than racism?

Shocking Role of Police and State Machinery: The entire incident happened in the midst of considerable police presence, who were anyway there because of the earlier accident. But the police looked the other way and allowed this macabre incident to continue. When the victims reached the police station, there too police refused to file the FIR and it took two days till Tuesday for the complaint to be registered!

The Karnataka government is shamefully attempting to cover up the entire incident and trying to prove that it was not a racist attack. When you are targeted merely because of the colour of your skin, what is it if not racism? Rather than attempting to hide the facts, the government must acknowledge the truth because acknowledging the truth is the first step towards justice.

It is a shame that government’s ministers are making statements that it was not racism, but a reaction to the earlier accident! It is highly condemnable that the ruling class political establishment and law and order enforcing authorities have completely abdicated their responsibility by choosing to sanitise the lynch-mob racism rather than sensitise the society at large about the abominable racist character of the crime!

Deep Seated Racism: Such attacks on African people have been witnessed repeatedly in Delhi as well. We protested against a similar incident of mob-violence on African women in Delhi’s Khirki village, which happened with encouragement from the then AAP minister Somnath Bharti against Ugandan and Nigerian women who were accused of prostitution and drug peddling. They, too, were humiliated like the Tanzanian student in Bangalore. Earlier in Delhi, we witnessed a similar incident at the Rajiv Chowk Metro Station, where three youth were brutally attacked by a mob because they objected to being photographed without consent.

It may be recalled how in 2012 thousands of migrant people from the Northeast were forced to flee from Bangalore, terrorised by a concerted hate campaign carried out through SMSes and the social media. We have also seen how the people from the North-East have borne the brunt of  the so-called “mainstream’s” violent persecution in the national capital.

While metro cities are showcased as hallmarks of ‘modernity’, we witness such regressive attitudes towards women and people of different ethnicities. From social ostracisation and institutional murder of a Dalit scholar in ‘Cyberabad’ to the spate of racist, misogynist and communal attacks in ‘India’s silicon valley’ Bengaluru – the pathological realities of ‘Digital India’ claims stand exposed.

From matrimonial ads to frenzied propagation of “fairness” creams and skin-whitening creams, words like “kaala” (Black) are used in our country as insults, robbing people of their self worth and dignity. And this despite the fact that India itself had been at the receiving end of colour dominance since colonial times. The silence on racism, casteism and misogyny needs to be broken.

We express deepest solidarity with the Tanzanian students, who had to face such a nightmare, in their fight for justice and dignity! Karnataka govt and police cannot be allowed to go scot free for their inaction and denial!

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.

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

‘Digital India’: Reading Between the Lines

net-neutrality-comicA few months back, the country witnessed a popular outpouring in favour of Net Neutrality, with thousands of citizens signing petitions and sharing campaign videos online. Net Neutralitythe principle that all Internet services, websites, applications, etc. be made available to Internet users by Internet service providers, without favouring or blocking any particular service– really caught the imagination of Internet users in India who collectively rose up to oppose a ‘document’ released by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) which suggested different pricing for voice calls over the Internet. The suggestion would be akin to charging users more for, say, Whatsapp, than TrueCaller, for the same amount of data consumed. The longish document was clearly brought out at the behest of mobile service providers such as Airtel which, to protect their own monopoly over voice calling, wanted to charge Internet users differently for voice calls and charge them not only by the amount of data consumed, but also by the type of service provided.

If Internet users have to pay additional amounts of tariff for accessing certain websites than others, or, if certain services are more favourably priced than others, it is a violation of the principle of Net Neutrality. If an Internet service provider assigns different speeds to different services; or, if certain services are available only over a certain connection, that too violates the principle of Net Neutrality.

Modi’s ““Digital India”” campaign is, as usual, high on rhetoric, low on substance and full of opacity. Saint Zuckerberg uses the language of “access” to deprive people from exactly that– access. In the name of bringing “civilisation” to us, third-world mortals, Saint Zuckerberg is out to colonise our cyber-space. It is important to remind both Modi and Zuckerberg that they do not own the Internet. The Internet is often termed as a ‘potential equaliser’, ‘leveller of inequalities’, etc. as it provides opportunities of being heard to the hitherto unheard. But, in reality, corporate monopolies on the Internet work against this very vision. Most of the world’s Internet usage is dominated by a few big businesses, and programmes such as “Free Basics” are an attempt to only further concentrate power in their hands. Paid content on websites such as Facebook and Twitter ensures higher visibility for some content while disadvantaging other content- sponsored Twitter trends, suggested tweets appearing on timelines of individuals, sponsored Facebook posts, etc. are a few examples. In order to post comments, various websites require users to authenticate themselves using Facebook or Twitter (rather than, say, using any email service). This furthers the monopoly of these corporate giants.

Facebook‘s doublespeak on universal Internet coverage exposed: Facebook CEO touted the “Internet.org” which was later renamed as “Free Basics” as being synonymous with Internet access. However, the hollowness of these claims is exposed when one finds that even this so-called “Free” and “Basic” Internet can be accessed only through one particular Internet service provider- the Ambani group owned Reliance! When accessed over Internet connections other than Reliance, it shows the message: “As of now, Free basics can only be accessed over a Reliance Sim card. If you want to use Free Basics on your existing mobile operator, kindly let us know.” Following is a screenshot of the same:

So in reality, what Facebook seeks to provide through this application is a highly watered down version of the Internet, confined to Facebook and a few other services. This initiative was highly criticised by activists all over the world who are working to provide a free and open Internet access to people on the other side of the digital divide.

Free and Open: What should a truly “Digital India” look like? Can India’s poor be a testing ground for corporate giants who want to impose their own version of a narrow, severely restricted Internet? If there is an Internet or a “Digital India” that is worth fighting for, it can only be an Internet that is FREE AND OPEN. The Internet is a large universe beyond Facebook and Twitter, etc. However, Modi’s flawed vision of “Digital India” is extremely alarming. As the head of a developing nation, our government ought to ensure access to high-speed broadband, unrestricted Internet service and updated hardware for all Indian citizens. There is no shortcut to dignified access. What Modi has chosen to do, instead is, partner with a few self-interested companies, bypass the interests of citizens while favouring corporate interests and violating key principles guiding the Internet: “Access, Net Neutrality, Innovation, Opportunity and Privacy”.

Internet access can never be synonymous with Facebook access. Taking undue advantage of the lack of access of Indians to the Internet, Facebook access is being showered upon us, as if it were a blessing from heaven; whereas in reality, what is being shoved down our throats is access to Facebook and a few other services over a Reliance Internet connection. In this way, Modi government is showering undue benefits over those who cry “free market” before they have gained entry into a certain country, and who, after gaining entry, want to monopolise the so-called “free” market. Why this doublespeak on “free market” and “monopoly” at the same time? In the name of access, users are being guided to think in a certain way. Users are being trained to think of the Internet as only a few social media sites, because an unrestricted Internet provides radical possibilities for social change- which tyrannical governments do not desire.

netneutrality1Iran has already started its project of a “sharia-compliant” Internet. Modi’s “Digital India” will be, in many ways, more restricted than the sharia-compliant Internet. It will infantilize the entire Indian population by imposing some sort of “parental control” over the choices that we make. It will be like a television set where we cannot change channels. Other, smaller Internet start-ups, will be coerced into partnering with “Free Basics” and only those capable of paying the entry fee can be accessed by ordinary users. In this way, Facebook gets to be the guardian, regulator and gatekeeper of the Internet, deciding who can access what and for how much price. It will even violate the sovereignty of the country, as Facebook will now regulate what Indian users can view and what they can’t view. Facebook will become a Zamindar (landlord) who has the power to levy taxes from smaller startups who wish to have their services accessed by people.

We must not forget that the same corporate giants who are part of the ““Digital India”” and “Free Basics” projects are also the same companies that have been exposed by Edward Snowden (NSA leaks) for dutifully obeying the US government’s requests for user information, that have helped the US spy on heads of sovereign governments abroad, that have time and again sold our information to third-parties who then spam us with unwanted advertisements. A project like “Digital India” will empower these companies even more to jointly conduct thought-experiments on the Indian population, feed particular ideologies to them and guide their thought process. It is a typically fascist arrangement wherein millions of poor Indians will serve as guinea pigs, thinking that they have been empowered, whereas in reality, they have been put under a new surveillance regime. ““Digital India”” will be like a massive laboratory where behavior will be studied, monitored and the resulting conclusions used for even more sinister projects.

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.