Wednesday, January 26, 2011

On such a day

[ Ronid Chingangbam of 'Burning Voices/Imphal Talkies' pens a provocative piece of poetry on the 61st Republic Day of India]

By- Ronid (Akhu) Chingangbam

On such a day like 26th January
she carries the country in her basket
wrapped adoringly with the tricolor cloth
and walks in the deserted street

On such a holiday some organizations call bandh
this time it was 15 outfits
the vegetables lay silent
the trees are bored to death
the rickshaws are recharging in winter sun

She stops in the middle of the road
and whisper "i am letting you free"
she sobs and says "i have nothing to feed you anymore
you were left at my courtyard when the India Armies
came to pick up my husband
as armies have a habit of leaving their foot marks
in the soil they have walked
and taking lives that belong to the soil.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

On the Eve of the 60th Republic Day: The State of the Republic?

On the Eve of 60th Republic Day

New Socialist Initiative invites you to a Discussion on

State of the Republic?


Prof. Achin Vanaik
Dept. of Political Science, Delhi University

Prof. Ujjwal Singh
Dept. of Political Science, Delhi University

Subhash Gatade
Columnist and Activist

Venue: Activity Center, Above Spic Macay Canteen, Arts Fac., DU

Time and date: 2 pm Onwards, 25th January, 2011

Abstract: An MLA rapes a minor dalit girl in Banda. When she goes to file a case with the police they arrest her on false charges of theft. CBI asks for arrest warrants against six judges who are absconding after stealing money from the provident fund of class IV employees. Our Prime Minister expresses helplessness in providing statutory minimum wages to rural workers under MNERGA, while changes in income tax rates have gifted lakhs of crores to the super rich. 

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Marxism and Theoretical Overkill

Courtesy: Weekly Workers, Communist Party of Great  Britain

Mike Macnair reviews Jairus Banaji's 'History as theory: essays on modes of production and exploitation' Historical Materialism books series, Vol 25, Leiden, 2010, pp406.

Part I
In March 2010 the Indian novelist, Arundhati Roy, published in the journal Outlook India a substantial and sympathetic report of the activities of the Naxalite (Indian Maoist) guerrillas in Chattisgarh state in eastern India.Roy’s report has been very widely circulated on the web. It has also been the subject of furious attacks from Indian establishment politicians and the threat of prosecution under ‘anti-terrorism’ laws (though more serious threats to prosecute Roy, this time for sedition under the Indian penal code, have been made in relation to another article which supported the secession of Kashmir).

Shortly after Roy’s article was published, leftist and academic Jairus Banaji posted a short sharp critique of it on the Indian political blog Kafila. If Roy’s original article was savaged by the Indian political establishment, comrade Banaji’s critique has given rise to almost equally sharp polemics on the Indian left.Banaji has elaborated his critique in a substantial article, ‘The ironies of Indian Maoism’ in the autumn 2010 issue of the Socialist Workers Party’s theoretical journal, International Socialism.

Why is this current political debate relevant to History as theory, Banaji’s collection of essays written between 1976 and 2009, mainly on the problems of Marxist interpretation of ancient and medieval history? The answer is that Banaji’s theoretical arguments are in the last analysis targeted on those used by Indian ‘official communists’ and Maoists in support of their respective political lines.

Monday, January 10, 2011

NSI - Delhi Statement: Justice for Aasia Bibi; Speedy Trial of Salman Taseer's Killers

Justice for Aasia Bibi; Speedy Trial of Salman Taseer's Killers

History is said to be made when humanity has tried to break asunder forces of unreason, irrationality, bigotry, intolerance and reaction which keep reappearing in newer forms in its onward journey. But what can one say when it tries to do the exact opposite, or prefer to go back on the path undertaken. 

Pakistan, a country of 170 millions, stands at a similar juncture today. 

A woman has been sentenced to death, for the first time in Pakistan’s sixty year old history, for an alleged act of blasphemy against Islam, an act which itself abhors modern sensibilities. All attempts by justice loving persons in Pakistan to stop the impending execution of this agricultural labourer, Aasia Bibi, who is a mother of five children and belongs to Christian minority community, seems to have reached a dead end. Whether she would ever be able to get glimpses of the outside world, free from the shackles which bind her today, remains uncertain. The story of her conviction under the infamous blasphemy law has been told umpteen times. We know how her troubles started when she had a fight with her fellow workers on some petty issue which culminated in their charging her under this law. She has been languishing in jail for around one and a half year now. 

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Second Issue of CRITIQUE Published by NSI Delhi University Chapter is Out!

New Socialist Initiative (NSI)-Delhi University Chapter has come out with the Second issue of "Critique-The Monthly", a magazine which deals with  higher education, universities, left politics, histories of student movements from India and beyond.

Scroll down to see the Contents  and the cover of the Second Issue (Vol-1, Issue-2).

If you are in Delhi, you can get your copies at: U-Special Bookstore, Arts Faculty, Delhi University; Jawahar Book Depot, Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU); People's Tree, Connaught Place. Copies are also available on request in Allahabad, Gorakhpur, Guwahati, Bhopal, Jabalpur, Chandigarh and few other cities. Just email at for copies.

University Life in the new Millennium and challenges before CRITIQUE

(Note: This article was published as the Editorial in the November issue of CRITIQUE - the monthly of NSI Delhi University Chapter)

Higher education in India is undergoing fundamental changes. Ever since its beginnings under colonialism, modern higher education has always had a social purpose. If the British saw universities established by them as part of a public sphere under colonial modernity, then to the post-independence Nehruvian elite institutions of higher learning were integral to their project of shaping India into a modern nation-state. Universities of British India aimed to produce civil subjects of a colonial empire, post independence Universities defined their objective as enlightened and modern citizenry. Rarely did reality match proclaimed aims. The civil liberalism of colonial universities could not cover the underlying racial ideology of superior ‘Whites’ and dark natives who were to be civilised, and they produced not only loyal subjects of the Empire, but also nationalists and revolutionaries. Nehruvian universities were one more instance of how in the name of nation building the post independence rulers of the country established, what Amartaya Sen calls, a socialism for the rich. Universities were state subsidised gate keepers to the privileges of bureaucracy, technocracy and cultural elites, while the overwhelming majority of Indians were left out to languish in poverty and illiteracy. Nevertheless, proclaimed aims had a determining influence on formal structures and internal functioning. For instance, the self image of being modern public institutions meant that universities had open committees as final deliberative and executive bodies; from thesis committees supervising individual students to Senate or Executive/Academic councils overseeing university policies and bureaucracy.

America No Good, Russia Good!

Bonojit Hussain

(This short article was published in the November issue of CRITIQUE - the monthly of NSI, Delhi University Chapter, and in the December issue of ALIRAN  Monthly, Malaysia)

On the morning of 8th September as we approached Bagh-e-Bala in Central Kabul, the air was reverberating with angry cry of Nara-e-Takbir – Allah-O-Akbar. There were around a thousand people outside a mosque. As we sluggishly passed the crowd, our driver suddenly yelled, “America No Good, Pakistan No Good. Russia Good, Hindustan Good”. It was only then I learnt from my young Afghani Interpreter that people had gathered outside the mosque to protest against the plans of burning the Koran on 9/11 in the United States of America.

Pastor Terry John of the Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville, Florida had announced that his church will hold an “International Burn a Koran Day” on September 11th. Had it not been for the global outrage against his plans of burning the Koran, this obscure pastor from a church with 30 odd followers would have gone ahead with his “International Burn a Koran Day” which would have had detrimental effects across the ‘Muslim’ world.

And All They Chimed - 'Reclaim Our University'

Mayur Chetia and Kavya Murthy

(Note: This article was published in the november issue of CRITIQUE - the monthly of NSI Delhi University chapter)

For the past few months the denizens of the much loved and hated city of Delhi have been wading through the zillions of pits and construction work all over the city. The reason? The Common Wealth Games 2010, Delhi - a mega-event that fed into India’s aspiration to reach the ranks of a global city in hosting an event of such stature: a matter of national pride and glory, even.

What proceeded was disaster, visible to everyone. Everything was going wrong, right from the beginning- the manner of winning the bid to host the Games, way back in 2003, followed by a six-year long inertia and the final, hasty plastic surgery in the place of actual infrastructure development. The dream of Delhi to become a World Class City was the imagination diseased from the beginning: another chapter that catered to the process of neo-liberal globalization – finally the sports event was, like other mega-games events in the world, about Capital Accumulation, glued together with the fantastic garb of national honour and pride.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

European Studies Programme: History and Responses

Malay Firoz

(Note: This article was published in the november issue of CRITIQUE - the monthly of NSI Delhi University chapter)

A recent controversy raging on campus has been the European Studies Programme (ESP) introduced at the Department of Sociology (DoS), Delhi School of Economics (DSE). Protests broke out at its inaugural meeting on 29 January this year when the Programme was officially announced to Delhi University (DU). With no information on the Programme till then, students were asked to give in research proposals for fieldwork trips in June. Any questions students had were being clarified as personal queries addressed to individual teachers. The Programme was shrouded in mystery. 

Skin Deep: Narratives of Racism in Delhi University

By Aashima Saberwal, Bonojit Hussain and Devika Narayan

(Note: This article was published in the november Issue of CRITIQUE - the occasional magazine of NSI Delhi University chapter) 

Kevin is from Kenya. He studies at the faculty of Law. We ask him whether he likes India (he doesn’t) and about the kinds of challenges he faces. He shrugs and shakes his head “I have don’t face any discrimination” He often repeats this sentence at various points of the discussion. After he tells us about shopkeepers who refuse to sell him milk or before narrating how not a single shop at Patel Chest area was willing to type his assignment. “When you go to buy things from a shop they refuse to sell. If you ask for milk they say ‘no milk’ but you can see the Indians buying milk.” Later he tells us a similar story “My mobile phone was stolen. For one week I was thinking how to get a new one. The shops here don’t sell to Africans.” Kevin doesn't think much of these experiences and dismisses them as insignificant, the ordinary trials of living in a foreign country. A woman on the road provokes a dog, provoking it to bite him, which it does. At Hans Charitable Trust Hospital they ask him for 10,000 rupees for the anti-rabbis injection. This is a service which is provided free of cost, however the small print reads ‘unless you are black’. Our interviews starkly shows that this particular subtext is present everywhere. We don’t realize that for the most mundane of daily activities (like buying milk) there are conditions that apply. The condition that you are not black.

Dis Orientation: Firangi in Delhi University

By Diepiriyie Sungumote kuku-Siemons 

(Note: This article was published in the November issue of CRITIQUE - the monthly of NSI Chapter of Delhi University)

I arrived at Delhi University a few short years ago. There was no orientation session, or any printed or Internet material that explained the full registration and visa application process which involved several bureaus spread across the campus and city. Moreover, the foreign students’ office had no permanent staff and no individual who could directly communicate with the foreign registration office or Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA). It proved to be humiliating when I first went to the MHA to deal with my visa. Upon pressing for information regarding the visa application process from the only available attendant, I was abruptly rejected. The attendant barged into the waiting room held my application high in the air and yelled that my case had been denied. My husband followed the attendant back to his office where the man persisted: “It’s their race,” he said. The attendant’s unambiguousness racism was strangely satisfying when compared to the situation I had found myself in when denied a rental property by a landlord who actually smiled in my face just after telling the accompanying property dealer that he did not want to rent to Blacks. 

Higher Education in India: A Ticket to Secession

Dr. Sanjay Kumar 

(Note: This article was published in the November issue of CRITIQUE - the monthly of NSI Delhi University Chapter ) 

If the current Government has its way in Parliament and the Foreign Educational Institutions Bill becomes a law, then India will become one of the few countries in the world allowing Universities from other countries to set shop and give degrees in higher education. Is this a sign of the forward march of globalization, now in the portals of higher education, after its successes in markets and culture? There is no denying the fact that higher education and research world over are taking place in a more and more globalised culture and work spaces. New technologies, like the internet, circulation of intellectual workers, both students and faculty, and the emergence of a world wide lingua franca for higher education and research, namely English, are the key enabling elements of this process. A research paper in sciences from anywhere in the world these days is first placed on the internet archive of the Los Alamos Laboratory, and becomes immediately available to the worldwide community of researchers, before it gets peer reviewed and published in a journal.