Thursday, July 31, 2014

[Video] NSI Public Meeting on "Palestine Burning: Israel neither wants Peace nor Settlement"

The last 22 days have seen one of the strongest and most advanced military forces in the world pound one of the most dense civilian regions in the world without a trained standing army, air force or navy. More than 1300 Palestinians have been killed, the wide majority of them civilians, with atleast a quarter of those killed being children. In comparison 56 Israeli soldiers have been killed (majority of them after ground invasion began on 17th July). For 22 days the international community has been witness to what can only be described as a textbook example of war crimes. Statistics, although they scream out the disproportionality and horror of the situation, ring hollow as the lone superpower (the USA) continues to extend support and justifies the killings carried out by the Israeli military in broad daylight. No global counter measure has been put in place by states that mouth 'concern' over the situation. The international community continues to watch as the Israeli military puts on a gory show of its strength. This genocidal bullying by the Israeli state over Palestinians, especially the people of Gaza, stands as one of the worst cases of chauvinist ultra-nationalism - reckless, unrelenting, denying even a remote semblance of recognition that what it (Israel) is doing is wrong in every possible way. No protest, no resolution, no humanitarian voice seems to be understood by the Israeli state while it tramples upon and decimates lives. Israel and its allies continue to spread propaganda across the world against the Palestinians, so much so that they justifies the bombardment of civilians under blockade by claiming to be “acting in self-defense”. The conservative elites of the world are only too happy to accept this “self-defense” fib, thereby strengthening Israel’s ‘conviction’ over the ‘rightness’ of its genocidal action. Clearly Israel is not alone in its reckless spree of killings, it draws its arrogance from the support it gains from other nation states with similar wishes of imperialistic superiority.

Despite many international groups, students and common people across the world protesting against this spree of mass killings and destruction, India has been rather quiet. Delhi has hardly seen any mass protest worth its name expressing solidarity with the Palestinian cause. The Indian Parliament has seen a minority of legislators even trying to have a debate on the situation. Except for certain groups from the Left who organized protests attended minimally compared to the size of the Indian civil society, the latter stands in utter denial of what is being done to the Palestinians as something that goes against the very basic universal right to life and safety. 

In this larger morose context, the New Socialist Initiative (NSI) organized a meeting in the first week of the new semester in Delhi University (24th July). The University is going through its own experience of increasing attrition of democracy and the reign of an authoritarian administration, where free spaces (even paid spaces are no longer easily accessible) to conduct public meetings have almost become nil. The meeting titled “Palestine Burning: Israel neither wants Peace nor Settlement”, was held in the premises of the Department of Sociology, Delhi School of Economics in University of Delhi. The speakers were Prof. Achin Vinaik, Prof. Aditya Nigam and Prof. Apooorvanand, who spoke clearly and strongly touching on issues which are rarely found in the mainstream Indian media coverages of the Israeli state's attack on Palestine, to a over full house of listeners.

Educating the audience, comprised of University students, the speakers charted out the history of the conflict and the scenario that characterises the recent escalation in violence. Differentiating between the Israeli state and the people of Israel the speakers highlighted the importance of understanding the foundational ideology of Zionism to understand the state's rationale. They also argued that the conflict was not a religious one, as is often portrayed. One of the high points of the discussion was how the arrogance of the Israeli state is well drawn from strong international supporters ranging from multinational corporate houses to states and conservative social groups and ideas. The speakers also further elaborated on why right-wing and conservative governments of the globe, like India, lend sympathy if not always formal support to Israel’s attack on Palestine; to them Israel exemplifies an ideal-strong state, it does what they themselves are unable to do to their “enemies”. Popular international media have been largely pro-Israel in its covering of the attack, at best making the case for both parties being at fault. The speakers cut through the propaganda of this being a two sided war.Speaking from experience of having been there and from simple facts they emphasised the dis-proportionality of the situation in terms of military capacity and political motive on each side. Characterising the situation as the longest military occupation of the modern era, they argued that the occupied people have the right of to defend themselves whereas the occupiers have none to blockade and attack Gaza and Palestinians.The speakers also forcefully highlighted the selective and conscious ignorance of Indian civil society in responding to something as drastic as the Israeli attacks. If the state of Israel has to be brought to peace and settlement, the international community should put sustained pressure on these big players who provide Israel the political and military defence it needs to perpetuate war crimes as it wishes. One of the movements highlighted and discussed was the global BDS campaign (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions). The way to weaken Israel and to make it recognize Palestinian sovereignty and its people’s right to life and “right to return”, is by joining such existing movements and fostering forms of solidarity that hit at the heart of alliances (both political and economic) that provide the conditions for the perpetuation of such crimes in plain daylight by the Israeli state. The Left, united, can be the only force in such a situation to bring this society out of its slumber and create international solidarity for the people of Palestine. Till the state of war persists the development of a progressive political consciousness among the Palestinians will be thwarted as the odds are stacked heavily against the progressive-secular faction. The international community has to ensure peace, and the condition of freedom for the Palestinians such that it be possible again for a beleaguered people to make decisions about their future. The discussion continued for about 3 hours.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

"Where were you when the Boko Haram was killing people?" A Speech in Lieu of a Short Answer

- Kunal Chattopadhyay

[Note: This is the text of a solidarity speech delivered by Kunal Chattopadhyay at a protest over Gaza organized by students in Calcutta. It was first posted on the author's facebook wall and was later published in the e-zine viewpoint]

Thank you for inviting me to speak. I had not come at all prepared, so I may be less than fully coherent. I want you to excuse me if that happens.

A representative image of Student protest.
 Photo: Bonojit Hussain
My first and crucial point is, such protests need to recognise that we live in a different world than the one I inhabited when I was a student in this very University. In those days the left was stronger, anti-imperialism and anti-racism were stronger. Today, the right is stronger by far. As a result, its ideology has reached out to vaster masses and confused them. When we protest over Palestine, as I have been doing, we must pay heed to this reality and respond to false issues and non issues that they raise, because not everyone spouting those arguments is a diehard Hindu communalist, Zionist, or imperialist agent. Rather, a great many are reeling as a result of the huge rightwing ideological offensive.

A standard argument is so called humanist pacifism. We are attacked, and told that all violence is violence, so why are we not condemning Hamas and its violence. This calls for a response at several levels. First, it is untrue that Hamas has started the violence. I am not talking like children, about who hit first. I am saying this for a deeper reason. As long as you cannot prove, in a court of law, who killed the three Israeli youth, it is fraudulent to blame Hamas. It is being done simply because Hamas and Fatah were about to come to an agreement, and Israel wanted to block that.

Second, there is a clear difference between Israeli violence and anything any Palestinian is doing. Israel has adopted a policy that is called collective punishment. This is a policy we know too well. After the revolt of 1857, the British killed youth by the entire village in Awadh and other areas, not because they were convicted of anything, but because they were young people of target regions. For Israel, the most important parallel does not come from India though. It is a shameful and tragic thing, that those who say they are Jews, are adopting the policy adopted by Hitler. In retaliation for the killing of the Nazi leader Reinhard Heydrich, the Nazis carried out collective punishments in Czechoslovakia. One village wiped out was Lidice. On 10 June 1942, all 173 men over 15 years of age from the village were executed. A further 11 men were killed a few days later. 184 women and 88 children were deported to concentration camps. At the end of the war, only 17 of the children and 153 women returned alive.

Third, to reduce the debate to yesterday, to forget at least the whole post 1948 situation, is criminal. Israel was created through a UN intervention. But why? If it is because Jews needed a homeland, why here? The only claim the Jews had to Israel was that it is their biblical homeland, and supposedly one that God (Yahweh or the Tetragrammaton) had promised to Moses. As a firm atheist, I accept this no more than I accept any fable of promises made by Vishnu or others in the Hindu pantheon, or the promises of Allah.

Letter to Jamaat-e-Islami on Palestine

- Farooq Sulehri

As I pen these lines on July 20, news of demonstrations for Palestine solidarity is pouring in from across the world. As has been the case for several years, the largest mobilizations have not been reported from either the idiomatic Muslim World or the Arab world. Expectedly, the largest rally was in the ‘infidel’ city of London. Roughly a hundred thousand marched yesterday (July 19) to protest the latest Israeli invasion of Gaza. Again, it is hardly surprising that Muslim residents of London were largely absent. Hopefully you will remember that the largest anti-war demo was also held in London in February 2003, ahead of the catastrophic US misadventure in Iraq.

Literally, every corner of European civil society has protested against Israeli brutality. Even inside Israel, there have been small protests held by radical Israelis. From ‘Hindu’ India to ‘Jewish’ Israel itself, people have staged manifestations to express solidarity with Gaza.

Image courtesy:
 A while ago, I visited Daily Jasarat’s website (July 20 online edition). On the front page, I found three items of Gaza-related news but not a word about the huge demonstration in London. In the last few days, your propaganda machine has been busy portraying the invasion of Gaza by Israel as a clash of civilizations. There is no mention of these manifestations on your Facebook page either (By the way, don’t you think Facebook is a ‘Jewish-run’ outlet?).

On the contrary, your spokespersons and propaganda organs mourn American and European double standards rather than lament ‘Alm-e-Islam ki khamoshi’ (Silence of the Islamic world).

I do not disagree on your viewpoint regarding Western double standards. However, I do not view the West as the monolithic “infidel’ as do you. In your attempts to essentialize the West you ignore the fact that there is the Western ruling class, a minority, and there is the working class, a majority. Over and over again, in the last 15 years alone, the working class majority in the West has expressed its solidarity with their counterparts in the Muslim world.

By the way, did you hear anything in recent days from Saudi Arabia regarding Gaza? Any condemnation? Any reports of manifestations? I do not follow Saudi media. Let me know if you come across any such news.

Incidentally, I am writing you from Sweden. A sizeable majority of Swedes are atheist. This is the most ‘infidel’ country one can imagine. The Palestine solidarity I have witnessed in Sweden, I see not a fraction of in Pakistan. When Olof Palme, Sweden’s charismatic social democratic prime minister, was assassinated, fingers were pointed at Israel as well as the CIA and South Africa. Do you know why? He was a vocal PLO supporter.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

शरियत पर अदालत का फैसला- सुधार की दिशा में बढ़ा एक कदम

-जावेद अनीस

BMMA rally in Cuttuck, Odisha 
2005 की बात है, 28 वर्षीय इमराना के साथ उसके ससुर ने बलात्कार किया, जब यह मामला शरियत अदालत के पास पहुंचा तो उन्होंने फतवा जारी करते हुए कहा, चूंकि इमराना के ससुर ने उससे शारीरिक संबंध स्थापित कर लिए हैं, लिहाजा वह ससुर को अपना पति माने और पति को पुत्र। शरीयत अदालतों द्वारा दिए गये अनाप –शनाप फैसलों का यह महज एक उदाहरण है, इमराना मामले को आधार बना कर दिल्ली के एक वकील द्वारा 2005 में सुप्रीम कोर्ट में जनहित याचिका दाखिल कर शरीयत अदालतों पर पाबंदी व फतवों पर रोक लगाने की मांग की गयी थी। मुस्लिम पर्सनल ला बोर्ड और दारूल उलूम देवबंद द्वारा याचिका के विरोध में दलीलें दी गयीं , सुनवाई के दौरान याचिकाकर्ता की ने दलील दी कि “शरयी अदालतें” गैरकानूनी रूप से देश में समानान्तर न्याय व्यवस्था चला रही हैं जिसके तहत दारूल कज़़ा और दारूल इफ्ता देश के करीब 60 जिलों में काम कर रही हैं। इनके फैसलों/फतवे से मौलिक अधिकार नियंत्रित किए जा रहे हैं, जो कि नागरिकों के जीवन और स्वतंत्रता के मौलिक अधिकार में दखल है। इसपर पर्सनल ला बोर्ड और दारूल उलूम देवबंद ने दलील दिया कि शरीयी अदालतें समानान्तर न्याय व्यवस्था नहीं चला रही हैं बल्कि ये आपसी झगड़ों को अदालत के बाहर निपटा कर अदालतों में मुकदमों का बोझ कम करती हैं और फतवे बाध्यकारी नहीं मात्र सलाह होते हैं। सुप्रीम कोर्ट द्वारा बीते सात जुलाई को अपना फैसला सुनाया गया, इस फैसले के दो पहलू है जिसे समझना जरूरी है, जहाँ एक तरफ कोर्ट ने शरीयत अदालतों पर कोई पाबंदी नहीं लगाई है , तो दूसरी तरफ यह भी स्पष्ट किया है कि शरीयत अदालतों की कोई कानूनी दर्जा नहीं है।

देश की सर्वोच्च अदालत ने अपने फैसले में कहा है कि शरीयी अदालतों को किसी भी तरह की कानूनी मान्यता नहीं है और इनके द्वारा जारी किए गए आदेश या फतवों को मानना जरूरी नहीं है। अदालत ने यह भी कहा कि दारुल कजा को तब तक किसी व्यक्ति के अधिकारों के बारे में फैसला नहीं करना चाहिए, जब तक वह खुद इसके लिए संपर्क नहीं करता है, और उन्हें ऐसे व्यक्ति के खिलाफ फतवा या आदेश भी जारी नहीं करना चाहिए जो उसके समक्ष नहीं हों ।

फैसले का दूसरा पहलू यह है कि, कोर्ट ने शरीयत अदालत के फैसलों को ना तो गैरकानूनी करार दिया है और न ही उनपर किसी तरह की रोक लगायी है, सुप्रीम कोर्ट ने तो याचिकाकर्ता द्वारा ,शरीयत अदालतों दारुल कजा, दारुल इफ्ता और दारुल निजाम को बंद कराने की मांग को खारिज करते हुए कहा है कि ये अदालतें देश में समानांतर कानूनी प्रणाली नहीं हैं, बल्कि एक सलाहकार निकाय हैं जो मुसलमानों के निजी पारिवारिक मसलों का निपटारा करते हैं, इसलिए इन्हें चलने देने में कोई हर्ज नहीं है।

दरअसल कोर्ट का यह फैसला शरीयत बनाम भारतीय संविधान द्वारा अपने सभी नागरिकों को दिए गये अधिकारों के पुरानी बहस की एक कड़ी दिखाई पड़ती है, शरीयत को खुदा का कानून माना जाता है, भारत में मुसलमानों के कई मामलों में "मुस्लिम पर्सनल लॉ (शरीयत) अनुप्रयोग अधिनियम, 1937 लागू है जो उनके लिए मुस्लिम पर्सनल लॉ को निर्देशित करता है इसमें शादी, महर (दहेज), तलाक, रखरखाव, उपहार, वक्फ, चाह और विरासत जैसे महतवपूर्ण मसले शामिल है, यहाँ इस बात को भी ध्यान में रखना जरूरी है कि है कि “शरीयत” को कैसे परिभाषित और लागू किया जाए इसको लेकर एक राय नहीं है, सुन्नी समुदाय में इसको लेकर चार और शिया समुदाय में दो अलग- अलग नज़रिए हैं. इसके आलावा विभिन्न मुल्कों , समुदायों और संस्कृतियों में भी “शरीया कानून” को अलग-अलग ढंगों से देखा और समझा जाता है !

Monday, July 21, 2014

[Book Review] Keeping War: Stale-mate on a ‘Durable Disorder’

- Haripriya Soibam

Review of "Sudeep Chakravarti, Highway 39: Journeys Through a Fractured Land, Fourth Estate, 2012, pp. 388."

Highway 39 snakes its way through three states –Assam, Nagaland and Manipur, its winding path could be a metaphor for a river though it is literally a slush in the monsoons especially the part of the highway that fall within the territory of Manipur. The title of the book, Highway 39, gives the picture of a road trip. However, the book is refreshingly nuanced unlike other recent books on the still persistent idea of the ‘northeast’, many of which for various political reasons juxtapose the two states –Nagaland and Manipur as two antagonistic entities. It was another book reviewed in this same blog ‘Che in Paona Bazaar’ that led me to look at the books published in the past few years on what one might provisionally call ‘the same terrain’. 

Highway 39 is not disappointing, and unlike the former it is non voyeuristic in its gaze. One may find the writer’s views critical but he gives convincing arguments and anecdotes in support of his criticism. Rather than brush aside the responsibility of the state and its complicity in what ails the region and many other regions in periphery/ies, Chakravarti is clear on the role of the government and the mechanism of governance. In the introduction of the book he says ‘Governance plummets if the place is both far enough from New Delhi and lacks the heft of population to contribute sufficient numbers to the equation of government formation in New Delhi’ (ix). The idea of refusing to engage with some of the most pressing problems that the region faces, most important among which is governance; and insurgency being propped up as an easy answer to all that ills the region is part of many writings both academic and other non-fiction accounts. To link both –governance and insurgency, the former leading to the latter and the latter as both encouraged and fragmented by a certain investment in it as part of governance strategy is alluded to by him. What marks the two books as starkly different is that ‘Che in Paona Bazaar’ is a book that seems to make a passing casual remark at issues that should be dealt with more seriously, for instance insurgency is callously referred to by Bhattacharjee as ‘Insurgency is complex, at the same time boring to elaborate’. 

I am afraid that there is no escaping the comparison of the two books published just a year apart as they more or less describe the same region but in ways which are starkly different, not to mention that some of the informants are common to both the writers. The latter fact perhaps points to larger issues of using the same laid out routes and there being a set pattern in understanding an issue. However, this also points to the fact that the same event may not necessarily convey the same to different people; the ‘ways of seeing’ is definitely different. Chakravarti does not use any protagonist, fictional or otherwise, running through the book, it is him and the people he encounters and yet he offers more than an insight at each experience of meeting people or being there where truth collides with lies and conspiracies – ‘Travel here means confronting the truths, lies and bloodshed that have shaped modern India. It means confronting the reality that people whom I was instructed to revere since my childhood, names we as Indians read as streets, stadia and institutes of learning, faces we saw in history books and on increasingly rare postage stamps, treated other citizens –with brutality that rivalled any other in these modern times’ (p.4). 

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Complete Text of Rana Ayyub's Censored Article on Amit Shah

Note: This article by Rana Ayyub was published in Daily News & Analysis (DNA) titled "A New Low in Indian Politics" on 9th July. However, on 11th July DNA pulled the article down from its website. This is not the first time DNA has pulled down articles which are critical of Modi and his cohorts. On 29th April it published an article by Shehzad Poonawala titled "9 Myth Busters: Lest We Forget the Genocide of 2002" only to pull it down from it's website within 12 hours of its publication.

On the behaviour of the media during the infamous period of emergency, it was said that it ‘decided to crawl when it was asked to bend’. Today, technically no such emergency exists but it is evident that the media wants to demonstrate that it’s behaviour during emergency should not be considered an exception.

Late last week, a special CBI court adjourned the bail application of Amit Shah in the Sohrabuddin and Tulsi Prajapati fake encounter cases, accepting his excuse that he was engaged in political work in New Delhi. Shah, 49, the first serving Home minister of a state to have gone behind bars in a criminal case of murder and conspiracy had a legitimate reason to skip court hearings. He was presiding and taking part in day-long meetings in Delhi with senior RSS leaders and BJP functionaries who were all set to seal his fate as the next BJP President.

There is a significant back story to his exemption which did find its way as a small snippet in the media but needs to be brought to light as Shah, the man who waved the magic wand for BJP in Uttar Pradesh, the PM’s confidante and the number two in the government now takes over the reins of the party. Amit Shah had twice in the past sought exemption from personal appearance citing political work, but the then CBI judge JT Utpat had found his excuse inadequate for the court to grant him relief. On June 20, while hearing the application, Utpat allowed the same but made a scathing remark “Everytime you are giving this exemption application without assigning any reason,” he told Shahs counsel. In less than a week, Utpat was transferred to a Pune court before he could preside over Shahs discharge application. Shah managed his way out with a tried and tested formula of transferring judges, practiced brazenly in his home state of Gujarat through his tenure as Home Minister.

As a journalist covering Gujarat extensively since 2005, as someone who exposed Shah’s role in the fake encounters in the state and who can claim to have knowledge of his political trajectory, I would not mince my words in suggesting that by appointing Amit Shah as the president of the party, the BJP has hugely disrespected the law of the land and signalled an all time low for the criminal justice system of India. For the cases against Shah are for crimes so gruesome that the cloak of political astuteness will be too short to cover it.

In its chargesheet filed in the Sohrabuddin fake encounter case, the CBI which had been investigating the case under the watchful eye of the Supreme Court of India had not just named Shah as one of the key accused and conspirators but also named him as the head of an extortion racket which involved underworld thugs, politicians and businessmen. In its submission before the apex court bench of Justice P Sathasivam and Justice BS Chauhan, the CBI stated that the minister was in cahoots with senior cops from Gujarat including the likes of DG Vanzara and Abhay Chudasama who had been sentenced for cold-blooded murder – concluding that Shah was a hardcore criminal. Shah was also chargesheeted in the murder of Kauser Bi, the wife of Sohrabuddin who according to the official papers was raped, sedated, killed and her body burnt and thrown in a river.

One could have well debated the merits of the CBI chargesheet and read political motives but for the fact that the Supreme court itself gave CBI the sanction to arrest Shah at the same time, coming down harshly on the Gujarat state police investigation led by the then top cop Geeta Johri for going slow and misleading the courts. If the SIT verdict on Narendra Modi’s role in the Gujarat encounters is to be held as the final word, by virtue of it being monitored by the apex court, it is baffling then that Narendra Modi who promised clean and transparent governance to this country and setting up fast track courts to look into cases of criminal charges against politicians has turned a blind eye to Shah’s criminal past.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

पर्सनल लॉ : महिलाओं के नागरिक अधिकार का सवाल

-जावेद अनीस

यहाँ अभी भी यह कहावत चलती है कि हव्वा आदम के पसली से निकली है, दुर्भाग्य से यह केवल कहावत नहीं है बल्कि इस कहावत को जिया भी जा रहा है। जमीला (बदला हुआ नाम) की शादी 20 साल के उम्र में हो गयी थी। शिक्षा के नाम पर केवल उर्दू और अरबी पढ़ सकने वाली और ताउम्र परदे में रही जमीला पे उस समय पहाड़ टूट पड़ा जब उसने सुना कि शादी के 25 साल बाद उसका पति उसको तलाक देकर अपनी से लगभग आधी उम्र के दूसरी लड़की के साथ शादी करने जा रहा है, वजह बताई जा रही है कि इतने साल बीत जाने के बाद भी दोनों को कोई औलाद नहीं है। जमीला का कहना है कि कुछ समय पहले डाक्टरों को दिखने पर पता चला था कि कमी उसमें नहीं बल्कि उसके शौहर में है, लेकिन शौहर इसे मानने से इंकार करते हुए इलाज कराने से भी मना कर दिया। अब जमीला के सामने परेशानी यह है कि वह अपनी आगे की जिंदगी कैसी काटेगी पति तो उसे 25 साल बाद छोड़ ही रहा है साथ ही साथ किसी भी तरह के गुजरा भत्ता देने से भी इन्कार कर रहा है। इस समाज में 45 साल की महिला के लिए दूसरी शादी भी इतनी आसन नहीं है। दूसरी तरफ पर्सनल लॉ के वजह से भारत का नागरिक कानून भी उसकी पहुँच में नहीं है। यह एक अकेले जमीला की कहानी नहीं है, भारतीय मुस्लिम समाज में लाखों जमीलायें है।

दूसरी तरफ हव्वा को आदम के पसली मानाने वाला मर्द द्वारा नशे,सनक, और गुस्से में आकर तलाक दे देना भी आम है, तलाक देते ही बीवी उसके लिए “हराम” हो जाती है, बाद में शांत होने पर जब वह बीबी को फिर से वापस पाना चाहता हे तो वह उसे तब तक नहीं पा सकता जबतक बीवी कम से कम एक रात के लिए किसी दूसरे मर्द से निकाह न कर ले। यह निकाह ज्यादातर उसके पति के भाई या नजदीकी रिश्तेदार से होता है। दूसरे शौहर से तलाक के बाद उसको अपने पहले पति से दोबारा निकाह करना पड़ता है। इस पूरी प्रक्रिया को “हलाला” कहा जाता है। इस तरह से हम देखते है कि मर्द को बड़ी छूट मिली हुई है, उसने जब चाह तलाक दे दिया और जब चाह हलाला करवा लिया उसके किये की तो कोई सजा नहीं है उलटे इसका खामियाजा औरत को भुगतना पड़ता है। “हलाला” के इस पूरी प्रक्रिया में औरत को जिस दौर से गुजरना पड़ता है वह बहुत ही अमानवीय और मध्ययुगीन है।

यह सब कुछ पर्सनल लॉ के नाम पर हो रहा रहा है जो एक आधुनिक और धर्मनिरपेक्ष भारत में मुस्लिम महिलाओं को एक नागरिक के रूप में मिले अधिकारों को नकारता है। अगर हम इसी देश में ही अलग अलग समुदायों के औरतों के लिए बने कानूनों को देखें तो इसमें भारी अंतर पाते हैं - मुस्लिम कानून में पुरुष को कई पत्नियां रखने का हक है जबकि हिन्दू, ईसाई व पारसी एक ही पत्नी रख सकते हैं। मुस्लिम लॉ में तलाक के लिए अदालत जाने की जरूरत नहीं है जबकि बाकी धर्म के लोगों को अदालत में खास कारणों से ही तलाक मिल सकता है। मुस्लिम लॉ में पत्नी को कभी भी बिना कारण तलाक दिया जा सकता है, पर ऐसा बाकी धर्मो के मानने वाली स्त्रियों के साथ नहीं किया जा सकता है। 

लेकिन यह सब कुछ हमेशा से ऐसा नहीं था, आजादी के समय इन स्त्रियों की स्थिति विपरीत थी, तब हिंदू समाज में पुरूषों को एक से ज्यादा शादी करने की छूट थी, तलाक का अधिकार नहीं था, विधवाओं को दोबारा शादी करने की आज़ादी नहीं थी और उन्हें संपत्ति से भी वंचित रखा गया था। इन सब में बदलाव “हिंदू कोड बिल” की वजह से संभव हो सका। समाज की इन रुढ़िवादी परंपराओं को तोड़ने के लिए बाबा साहेब अम्बेडकर और जवाहरलाल नेहरु जैसे नेता आगे आये जिन्होंने हिंदूवादी संगठनों के तमाम विरोधों के दरकिनार करते हुए इसकी पुरजोर वकालत की थी। आज हमारे देश में हिंदू समाज कि महिलाओं को लेकर जितना लोकतांत्रिक और नागरिक अधिकार मिले हुए है उसके पीछे वही कानून हैं जिन्हें बनवाने में नेहरू और अम्बेडकर ने मुख्य भूमिका अदा की थी। मनुस्मृति के नियमो से चलने वाले समाज को इन्ही के प्रयासों से 1955 में “हिंदू मैरिज एक्ट” मिला जिसके तहत तलाक को कानूनी दर्जा मिल सका, जातियों से जकड़े समाज में विभिन्न जातियों के स्त्री-पुरषों को एक-दूसरे से विवाह का अधिकार मिल सका और एक बार में एक से ज्यादा शादी को गैरकानूनी घोषित कर दिया गया। इसी कड़ी में 1956 में “हिंदू उत्तराधिकार अधिनियम”, “हिंदू दत्तक ग्रहण और पोषण अधिनियम” और “हिंदू अवयस्कता और संरक्षकता” जैसे कानून लागू हुए। ये सभी कानून पहली बार महिलाओं को एक नागरिक का दर्जा दे रहे थे। इन कानूनों का लाभ हिंदुओं के अलावा सिखों, बौद्ध और जैन धर्म की स्त्रियों को भी मिला।

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Pearls of Wisdom of a RSS Leader: ‘Elections equivalent to Independence Struggle’

- Subhash Gatade

161 first-time BJP MPs attending Surajkund training workshop
Suresh Soni, RSS’s point person with the BJP, who facilitated ‘anointment’ of fellow Pracharak as PM candidate last year and smoothly engineered the marginalisation of the senior Advani and proved his clout within the organisation, is in news these days albeit for wrong reasons.

News has come in that he along with his former supremo (the late) K S Sudarshan were also beneficiaries of the yet unfolding MPEB scam which has already claimed the head of a senior minister – another fellow Pracharak - in Shivraj Singh Chauhan’s cabinet. Laxmikant Sharma, the said minister, who earlier handled important portfolios like mining, culture, human resources had claimed at the time of his arrest that he has been made a sacrificial lamb and when time comes he would also ‘reveal the truth’.He allegedly facilitated appointment of Mihir, a personal assistant to the late Sudarshan, as a ‘Nap Taul Inspector’ at the behest of Suresh Soni. 

Fingers have also been pointed towards Chief Minister and his wife and the manner of appointment of CM’s own niece has also come under cloud. The gravity of the situation could be imagined from the fact that Chauhan had to rush to Delhi – cancelling all his appointments – and meet top RSS leaders as well as party bosses to explain the unfolding situation.

While there has been official denial by the Police Headquarters about involvement of any ‘RSS leaders’ – sceptics have noted that it has no direct locus standi in the whole case as the investigation is being handled by Special Task Force (STF) under the direct supervision of the High Court. 

Mihir is right now in police custody, along with scores of other beneficiaries of the scam, the STF has duly recorded his statement and is conducting further enquiries. Looking at the ambit of the scam – which according to Ms Uma Bharati, ex-Chief Minister of the state is ‘bigger in magnitude than Bihar’s fodder scam’- and new revelations coming to the fore daily- one thing is sure that final word has not been said about it.

Close on the heels of these fast paced developments, Suresh Soni broached another controversy by his utterances while addressing 161 first time BJP MPs at a two-day training camp organised by the Party at Surajkund near Delhi. He has compared BJP’s recent electoral victory with India’s freedom struggle.

“.[c]ompared May 16 -- the day Lok Sabha election results were declared and the BJP emerged victorious -- to August 16, 1947, the day after India won its independence and the erstwhile British rulers finally left the country.” (see here)

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Protest against Impunity to Armed forces in Armed Conflict Areas-11th July, 11 AM

One cannot forget the image of women protesting naked in front of the Assam Rifles headquarters in Imphal in Manipur holding banners titled: "Indian Army Rape us". The protest was in response to an incident that took place on the night of 10-11 July, 2004 when Ms. Thangjam Manorama Devi was arrested by soldiers of Assam Rifles for interrogation. In the morning her dead body was found in mutilated condition. She had been sexually assaulted, tortured in custody, and ultimately killed. Today, even after ten years of the incident, we have witnessed no prosecution in this regard. The contents of the commission of inquiry report ordered by the state government have not been made public as the Army had gone in appeal against the State of Manipur questioning its powers to order such an inquiry.

A simple listing of such incidents as those of Manorama Devi reveals that the armed forces of the country enjoy suchimpunity in the Armed Conflict Areas that absolve them of any culpability. The impunity works as a shield which allows them to escape any prosecution or punishment. This is resulting in unabated violations of democratic rights in these areas.

Traditionally, the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) has been considered the source of all impunity to the armed forces. But as we observe the pattern underlying the increasing number of cases of violations, it is established that there are various sources guaranteeing impunity to armed forces. These sources are in form of various legislations, executive actions (or lack thereof), and even judicial pronouncements.

It is in this context of persistent abuses of people’s rights that a protest and dharna is being organised to demand an end to impunity given to armed forces in Armed Conflict Areas.

Date: 11 July 2014       Time: 11am to 4pm       Venue: Jantar Mantar, New Delhi

We demand the following:

1. Bring armed personnel to justice who are guilty of torture, rape and killing of Manorama Devi and are perpetrators of all other incidents of atrocities by armed forces.

2. End military oppression and seek democratic solutions in Armed Conflict Areas. 

3. End Impunity and bring armed personnel in these areas under jurisdiction of civilian courts.

4. No separate laws for armed forces. Criminal laws applicable to civilians should apply to armed forces in the same nature.

Concept Note: Impunity to the Armed Forces in Armed Conflict Areas

Impunity in simple terms is "exemption from punishment or freedom from the injurious consequences of an action". Talking in terms of Indian Government and Armed Forces, impunity takes a totally different complexion, where State is systemically using immune Armed forces to suppress people's movements. 

Since 1947, not even a single year has passed when Indian Government was not involved in, either an overt or covert armed conflict, with its very own people. Many such wars are being fought since independence and shortly after, for their right to self-determination in the north-eastern states, in the state of Jammu & Kashmir, and other armed conflict areas.

Countless cases of rights violations perpetrated by the armed forces who subsequently enjoy immunity from prosecution, are heard from these areas. One such prominent example is of Ms. Thangjam Chanu Manorama Devi of Manipur. 

In the intervening night of 10th-11th July, 2004 Ms. Thangjam Chanu Manorama Devi was arrested by armed soldiers of Assam Rifles for interrogation and in the morning her dead body was found in mutilated condition. She was sexually assaulted, tortured in custody, and ultimately killed. It is not difficult to assume that such a heinous crime and act of inhumanity must have been taken cognizance of and the law of the land would have taken due course to punish the guilty. However, the reality is entirely different when we are dealing with the Armed Forces of the Indian Government. After 10 years of the incident, no prosecution has started. The contents of commission of inquiry report ordered by the state government were not made public as Army had gone in appeal against the State of Manipur questioning its powers to order such an enquiry.

Armed forces, paramilitary forces, and to a large extent state police forces in India enjoy a great deal of impunity or exemption from prosecution of acts done in furtherance of their official duty. While the logic behind such impunity seems to be legitimate, considering the kind of functions these forces perform. However, let us just pause and think what happens when this impunity is used to perpetrate violence with political motives to crush a rights or demands based struggle and to paralyse a people's movement. The nature of violence and the nature of impunity undergoes a drastic change in itself. The violence is not only an abrogation of fundamental civil and human rights, the torture is not only a means to force admission of the innocent for some crime he may have never done; but the violence, the torture becomes an instrument to oppress a legitimate demand, crush a valid struggle, and subjugate people. In the name of protecting the sovereignty, security, and integrity of the nation, a powerful and impermeable shield is provided to the Armed Forces of the Union (AFUs) which makes the concepts of rule of law, natural justice, and due process inoperative. That shield we find in the form of various legislations, executive actions (rather lack thereof), and even in judicial pronouncements.

खेल का बाज़ार और बाज़ार का खेल

- किशोर झा

फुटबॉल के महाकुम्भ के आखरी दौर के मैच शुरू हो चुके हैं और अगले हफ्ते तक यह फैसला भी हो जायेगा ये जंग कौन जीतेगा! पिछले तीन हफ़्तों से ये कायनात सूरज को छोड़ इस बॉल के इर्दगिर्द चक्कर लगा रही है! इन मैचों का रोमांच इस कदर छाया हुआ है कि लोग रात रात भर जाग कर मैच देख रहें है! जिन्होंने ता-उम्र सूर्योदय नहीं देखा वो सूर्य नमस्कार करते दिखाई देते हैं!

ये जनून बेवजह भी नहीं है! इस वर्ल्ड कप में अभी तक 154 गोल दागे जा चुके है जो शायद इस मुकाबले की तारिक में सबसे ज्यादा हैं! खेल के आगाज के पहले मिनट से लेकर आखिर के 120वें मिनट तक गोल दाग कर खेल का पासा पलटा जा चुका है! मेस्सी के छकाने का अंदाज़ और नेमार के फ्लिक्स किसी को भी अपना मुरीद बना सकते हैं! पर्सी के अविश्वशनिय हैडर की एक झलक की खातिर कोई भी अपनी रात काली कर सकता है! बस एक “बाइसिकल किक” की कमी रह गयी है, और उम्मीद करता हूँ कि फाइनल मैच तक यह ख्वाहिश भी पूरी हो जाएगी! हिंदुस्तान में बल्ले और बॉल के मुकाबले से बढ़ कर कुछ नहीं पर फिर भी मैं विश्वास के साथ कह सकता हूँ कि इस 90 मिनट के रोमांच की बात ही कुछ और है और इस वक़्त इस खेल का रोमांच अपने चरम पर है!

पर यह खेल अब मैदान के 100 ग़ज के दायरे तक सिमित नहीं रहा . इस बॉल पर अरबों खरबों के दाव लगें हैं!इस महाकुम्भ पर खर्च किये जाने वाली रकम में जितने शून्य लगते हैं वहां तक मुझे गिनती नहीं आती! खिलाडियों की नज़र महज विश्वकप जीतने तक ही नहीं बल्कि उनका “गोल” इससे आगे तक का है! दुनिया का कौन सा क्लब किस खिलाडी को किस कीमत पर खरीदेंगा वो इस प्रतियोगिता पर निर्भर करता है!

मेस्सी और नेमार के कौशल और दम ख़म का मैं भी दीवाना हूँ! उनका यह कौशल महज रुपय-पैसो में नहीं आँका जा सकता! पर फिर भी उन्हें अपने हूनर की उचित कीमत मिलनी ही चाहिए! कोई नहीं चाहेगा कि इन महान खिलाडियों को अपने तमगे बेच कर घर चलाना पड़े! पर कीमत के तौर पर लगभग 600 करोड़ रुपये का मेहनताना एक वाहियात मजाक है! हो सकता है इस विश्वकप में खेलने वाले खिलाडियों की कुल कीमत कई देशों के सकल घरेलु उत्पाद से अधिक हो!

ब्राज़ील के कई लोग इस विश्व कप की खिलाफ़त कर रहे हैं! इस आयोजन का विरोध करने वाले फुटबॉल के ख़िलाफ़ नहीं! फुटबॉल तो ब्राज़ील की आवाम के रग रग में बसी है! वो लोग उस फिजूल खर्ची की मुखाल्फत कर रहें है जो इस महाकुम्भ के आयोजन में हो रही है! क्योंकि उनका कहना है कि जितना पैसा इस विश्वकप के आयोजन में लगा है उससे लाखो लोगों को मूलभूत सेवाएँ मुहैया कराइ जा सकती थी!

[Delhi University] Violation of Labour Laws and Constant Humiliation, Victimization of Hostel Workers

- New Socialist Initiative, Delhi University Chapter

This is to bring to notice that the hostel workers in Ambedkar Ganguly Students’ House for Women (AGSHW) of Delhi University, have been the subject of extreme victimization by the Provost (Professor Meenakshi Thapan, Dept. of Sociology) and Resident Tutor (Mary Grace Zou, Dept. of Anthropology). We have been in the know that there is a history of such behavior and gross violations of labour laws in the hostel. When some students of the hostel informed and wrote about the same to the hostel authorities instead of resolving the matter the sanitation & house-keeping workers and security guards, who have been working there for many years, were victimized through non-continuation of their jobs.

On 1st of July, 2014, when a delegation comprising of Representative from New Socialist Initiative, SC/ST Employees’ Welfare Association and Students of Delhi University went to meet the hostel authorities the workers repeated very disturbing stories about the conduct of the Provost and Resident Tutor. It was once again brought to our notice that the Provost and Resident Tutor have been harassing and humiliating the hostel workers on a regular basis. Some of the workers who belong to the Dalit community were subject to behavior that is clearly punishable under the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) act 1989 (for now we are not publishing the testimonies online). Sanitation & house-keeping workers have been made to work at the Provost’s and Resident Tutor’s houses during the working hours when they were supposed to do their duties in hostel. Constant humiliation and threats of removing the workers from their jobs is a norm in this hostel. Besides this, there remains a pending issue of payment of arrears when salaries of workers were below minimum wages, that the administration still owes several workers.

In 2010 New Socialist Initiative wrote a letter to the Provost of AGSHW (Annexure 1 click here) highlighting the violation of Minimum Wages Act 1948 in the payment of wages to workers in the hostel for which the AGSHW administration, being the principal employer, is responsible. Evidence of this violation is presented here in Annexure 2 (click here) which shows the wage sheets of Pragati Enterprise, the private contractor for the sanitation & house-keeping workers till 2010, and its payment to the sanitation & house-keeping workers at wages much below the then existing minimum wage of Rs. 5278.

It was only after the active intervention of members of New Socialist Initiative that this was brought to light in public and wages duly increased to meet the minimum wages. However, the non-payment of arrears to all those workers who worked below minimum wages for several years is as yet an unresolved issue. It may also be noted that while wages were duly increased after the intervention of our organization, no action was taken against the authorities responsible for a practice.

Complaints about the Provost and her mismanagement of hostel affairs, negligence of duties and constant harassment of workers besides the above mentioned issues of violation of labour laws has also been noted in the past by members of the Students’ Welfare Association of the AGSHW in a letter to the Dean of Colleges (Annexure 3 click here). However no action was taken following this either. The misbehavior of the Provost has also been noted by the former Warden of AGSHW Dr. Rochelle Pinto (formerly from Dept. of English, DU) (Annexure 4 click here). In this case as well no action was taken against the Provost. Instead Dr. Pinto’s contract as Warden was not renewed.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Worker-owner Cooperatives Taking Root in the US

- Ron Ridenour

People before Profit—the slogan for production cooperatives—is an option even in the United States. Within the past decade, three forms of worker-owned and/or managed types of organizing work places are now functioning. The most democratic structure, one that could potentially transform the economy from profiteering greed to meeting everyone’s needs, is the worker-ownership cooperative.

Out of 5.7 million firms in the United States, the Census Bureau considers that fewer than 300 are worker-owned cooperatives, but they are growing.The major coalition of worker-owner cooperatives is the United States Federation of Worker Cooperatives, which just celebrated its first 10-years. The USFWC has 100 member firms with 1600 individual worker-owners.

The national grassroots membership organization’s mission is, “to create a thriving cooperative movement through the development of stable and empowering jobs and worker-ownership. We advance worker-owned, -managed, and -governed workplaces through cooperative education, advocacy and development.”

They pay themselves a living wage and decide how to use profits. The range of incomes is 6 to 1. In the conventional economy, the federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour, or about $15,000 a year. Several million workers earn less than that, even under half that. There is no maximum earning. Currently the top 100 CEOs earn between $18,717,013 (Stephen A. Roell of Johnson Controls Inc.) and $78,440,657 (Lawrence Ellison of The Oracle Corporation)—the latter sum translates to 5000 times that of the federal minimum wage earner.

The US is the world’s most unequal nation. The top 1% has a combined net worth that is more than triple the net worth of the other 99% combined. The bottom 40% own less than nothing, because they are sinking in debt, according to Wolff, E.N., “The asset price meltdown and the wealth of the middle class” National Bureau of Economic Research Working Paper 18559 (2012).

USFWC members connect benefits to each other and to the larger cooperative, and they support economic justice movements. The Federation provides training and organizing work to reach other workers across the nation. It is led by a 100% member-elected board of directors, numerous member committees and working groups, and a three-person staff.

Federation executive director Melissa Hoover was interviewed by John Duda on December 5, 2013. She spoke about how worker-cooperatives function.
When conversion of ownership occurs the new buying owners “need to have a strong culture of trust and participation, and some understanding of the business, which is not always the case. And even when there is a strong culture of trust, it can still be challenging to understand and implement effective cooperative governance, participatory management, shared decision-making. We just don’t learn those things in school and don’t practice them through most parts of our adult life.
Other coop networks can be found here. Here is info about how to start one.

Ohio is a major user of worker-owned companies

The Evergreen Cooperative Initiative in Cleveland was launched in 2008 just as the economic crises set in. It seeks to cause an economic breakthrough in Cleveland.
Rather than a trickle down strategy, it focuses on economic inclusion and building a local economy from the ground up; rather than offering public subsidy to induce corporations to bring what often are low-wage jobs into the city, the Evergreen strategy is catalyzing new businesses that are owned by their employees.