ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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The Struggle of RTI Activists in Gujarat

The Right to Information activists and whistle-blowers in India constantly face risk of harassment, assault, and even murder. The attacks on them are explored, with a special focus on Gujarat, by taking into consideration the nature of the cases they have filed. Who the RTI activists are and the role that non-governmental organisations have played in popularising the RTI is looked at as a tool to question the state in the distant villages of Gujarat, and also among the marginalised—women, Dalits, and Adivasis. The most common issues raised by the activists, the lack of institutional support and follow-up in protecting the activists, and other issues that are eroding the effectiveness of the RTI Act are highlighted.

Castes, Communities and Parties in Uttar Pradesh

A profi ling of the caste backgrounds of candidates fi elded by the four main political parties in Uttar Pradesh in the assembly elections, the elected legislators and ministers reveals some interesting trends. There is a stable presence of upper caste candidates from all major parties, with the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Congress continuing to fi eld them predominantly, while the Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party have become more of "catch-all" parties, similar yet very different from the Congress Party of the past. The study of ministers and MLAs reveals a more complex picture of upper caste strength in representation.

Malegaon: Who Is Above the Law?

The recent revelations by Lt Col Shrikant Purohit about the Malegaon case are making things more complicated, but they also clarify the general picture by giving clear indications of the involvement of army men and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh leaders.

Malegaon: Who's Above the Law?

A comment on the recent revelations by serving army official Prasad Purohit who has been arrested for his involvement in the Malegaon blasts of 2008.

Gujarat 2002: What Justice for the Victims?

Ten years after the 2002 violence, the results of judicial proceedings have been very few in Gujarat. While the heaviest sentences have been handed down in cases where Hindus in Godhra had been victims of violence, a very large number of cases have been closed before prosecution and many others remain pending, with only a handful completed or near completion. The reasons for this failure of the rule of law - whose magnitude will have to be qualified since proceedings are still under way - lie in the grip that Hindu nationalism (as an ideology and a political movement) holds over the state machinery (including the police and the judiciary) in Gujarat and the central authority's relative powerlessness (both at the executive and judicial level) to counteract it. This is so despite the repeated attempts that the Supreme Court has made (including the appointment of the Special Investigation Team), and the activism of non-governmental organisations and some mediapersons.

Paradigm Shifts by the RSS? Lessons from Aseemanand's Confession

In the long run, the ongoing developments on the involvement of Hindu fundamentalists in terrorist acts are disastrous not only for India but possibly for the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh as well. India, whose democratic image is still a key element of its soft power, will have to restore the credibility of its rule of law and of its agencies which were initially quick to identify the wrong men as guilty because of deep-rooted prejudice and the growing ideology of majoritarianism.

Abhinav Bharat, the Malegaon Blast and Hindu Nationalism: Resisting and Emulating Islamist Terrorism

In recent years, some Hindutva-minded people have created or joined new militias, which have actually turned out to be terrorist groups whose main aim is to take revenge on Indian Muslims for past acts of terrorism that some Islamists have carried out. This new development became clear during the inquiry regarding the Malegaon blast of 2008. The Hindu militants who were allegedly responsible for this attack were all members of a new group, Abhinav Bharat, which resorted to violent action to resist the Islamists by emulating them. This article is based on the police report on the Malegaon case, a very interesting source for two reasons. One, it provides rich pieces of factual information regarding the actors of the plot and their motivations. Two, it presents us with the discourse of the Hindu nationalists when they speak between themselves since these excerpts include the transcripts of secret meetings they held in 2007-08 that one of the participants recorded. Please click on the link to download the court/police documents which are extensively referred to in the text . DOWNLOAD

Gujarat: The Meaning of Modi's Victory

The 2007 elections in Gujarat revealed that Narendra Modi was not only a new kind of politician, he also represented a new kind of politics. By playing on notions of Gujarati nationalism and pride, by sustaining an anti-Muslim mood and by building a personality cult that appealed to both the urban middle class and the "Gujarati" voter, Modi seemed to be reinventing politics. Is Gujarat a forerunner of politics in all of India?

VHP's Changing Agenda

Vishva Hindu Parishad and Indian Politics by Manjari Katju; Orient Longman, Hyderabad, 2003; pp viii + 186, Rs 350.

Interpreting Madhya Pradesh Voting Patterns

in my article). In fact, one has to differentiate the actions of the BJP government in 1990-92 from the grass roots level work of the RSS and certain of its offshoots, such as the Vanavasi Kalyan Ashram which has entered tribal areas and propagates Hindu nationalist ideas under the garb of social work. Rahul implicitly admits this in his subsequent article: "The BJP ably aided by the RSS has worked tirelessly to woo these sections [the tribals, the dalits and the OBCs] and succeeded in forming a committed cadre even in the remote Naxalite controlled areas of Bastar" (p 1690). He himself differentiates the BJP's activities from the work of other organisations of the 'Sangh parivar' when he writes: 'The BJP could emerge as a force precisely because the RSS systematically began cultivating the OBCs and later dalits and tribals to capitalise on the resentment among these sections at the policies being pursued by the INC" (p 1692).

MADHYA PRADESH

Setback to BJP Christophe Jaffrelot The defeat of the BJP in the 1993 assembly elections in Madhya Pradesh was mainly due to the pro-rich policies of the Patwa government. These policies made the party particularly unpopular among the tribals, the peasants and the OBCs. Wooing these sections of the population now prominently figures in the agenda of all the parties in the state.

Hindu Nationalism Strategic Syncretism-in Ideology Building

The 'primordialist' approach, which sees cultural specificity as leading to ethnic consciousness and the 'instrumentalist' view, which sees such movements as being determined by elite manipulations of identity symbols, have in the main dominated investigations of the origins and development oj ethnic movements in India. The main drawback of both these approaches lies in this attitude to nationalist ideology. This paper suggests a different approach on the basis of a case study
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