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

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The Subversion of Institutions and Creation of a Cultural Discourse

The KR Narayanan Chair for Human Rights and Social Justice, Mahatma Gandhi University in Kottayam, Kerala held a two-day lecture series in January 2017 in the memory of the former President of India K R Narayanan. Imbibing the ideals of the former president and his penchant for Nehruvian and Ambedkarite political-economy, the invited speakers for the lecture series spoke about how forces of communalism and private-global capital have subverted our institutions in order to turn our discourse away from political issues and towards cultural ones.

Gau Wapsi: A Muslim Cattle Trader and the Cows He Loved

The attack that killed Pehlu Khan and injured other Muslim cattle traders has left a community angry, helpless and wanting to give up the trade. Farah Naqi’s report from Jaisingpur, Haryana:

Free Speech, Nationalism & Sedition

Justice AP Shah, former Chief Justice of the Delhi High Court, delivered the MN Roy Memorial Lecture on 19 April in New Delhi. We reproduce the full text:

100 Years of Champaran and a Forgotten Figure

This week marks the centenary of Gandhi's arrival in Bihar to address the concerns of indigo farmers in the Champaran district. The foundations for the success of the Champaran satyagraha were laid by Rajkumar Shukla, the man who was instrumental in bringing Gandhi to the district but has not received the credit due to him in historical writings.

Statement on the Illegitimate and Inappropriate Use Money Bills and Finance Bills

More than 200 concerned citizens have expressed concern on the classification of the Finance Bill, 2017 as a "Money Bill" and appealed to Vice President Hamid Ansari. The statement is reproduced below:

The Decline of the Congress Party in Indian Politics

From being the single dominant party in India to its pathetic performance in the recently held assembly elections in five states, the Congress party has been on a steady downhill journey. This article looks at its trajectory post independence and especially in the aftermath of the 2014 general election.

Re-reading the Field in Conflict Zones: Experiences from Kashmir Valley

This article explores how a conflict zone complicates research. Safety and security of the researchers are major concerns, whereas respondents tend to provide incorrect information based on their perceptions of and suspicions about the researcher. The resultant research often provides little insight into the chosen area; instead, it ends up providing broad generalisations and even, baseless theories. The author who conducted fieldwork on “Muslim Endowments and Society” in the valley, also interviewed 20 fellow researchers who worked in the valley between 2009 and 2013.

Misuse of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act

The Gadchiroli Sessions Court judgment sentencing G N Saibaba, Prashant Rahi, Hem Mishra, Mahesh Tirki, Pandu Narote to life imprisonment and Vijay Tirki to 10 years’ rigorous imprisonment is flawed and shows clearly to what extent the draconian Unlawful Activities Prevention Act can be misused. Apart from citing irrelevant documents, it has ignored valid evidence and arguments presented by the defence, and accepted dubious versions of the same presented by the prosecution.

Defying Fundamental Rights with Impunity

Linking of biometric Aadhaar number to all public services is designed to cause “civil death”. Civil death is the loss of all or almost all civil rights by a person caused by the government of a country. It is clear that denial of rights in the absence of Aadhaar is an act of coercion that would lead to civil death. Despite promotion and normalisation of such cruelty most of the opposition political parties are avoiding a clear political position demanding the scrapping of the biometric identification exercise.

The Messages, Mathematics and Silences that Formed the BJP’s UP Win

The Bharatiya Janata Party consolidated the support of the “leftover” castes such as the Gujjar, Tyagi, Brahmin, Saini and Kashyap who are not counted in the typical matrix fashioned for years on the basis of the “dominant” groupings like the Jats, Muslims and Dalits. Accompanying the mathematics were a slew of ideas about Muslims and Yadavs as oppressors, and a strategic silence so as to not polarise all Muslim votes to benefit the BSP.

Punjab’s Voters Settle for the Familiar Kind of Change

Winning in Punjab provides the Congress which is desperately looking for a national revival, the best opportunity. However, the Badals have left Chief Minister Amarinder Singh with empty coffers. He has a strong enough mandate and nothing to lose if he decides to strike out for bold policy reforms that will put Punjab back on the right path. But he needs to make a clean break from the coteries that came to define his first government. As for AAP, it is now the main opposition in the assembly but it must ponder over why it failed to do as well as it and its opponents, expected.

Carrying On a Dubious Game in Goa?

Once again at the superficial level, Goa seems to be going back to having its politics dominated by the two big national parties. Both have leaders hopping across party lines and who seem well disposed to lobbies ranging from those advocating casinos to destructive strip mining, especially once they are in power. Neither of these parties seems to be able to go beyond conservative and divisive politics, to create a vision for the future for one of India's most affluent, best educated and out-migration oriented of states.


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