Countering the Hate

Facebook’s Hate-Speech Rules Collide With Indian Politics

Company executive in vital market opposed move to ban controversial politician; some employees allege favoritism to ruling party

Aug. 14

In Facebook posts and public appearances, Indian politician T. Raja Singh has said Rohingya Muslim immigrants should be shot, called Muslims traitors and threatened to raze mosques.

Facebook Inc. employees charged with policing the platform were watching. By March of this year, they concluded Mr. Singh not only had violated the company’s hate-speech rules but qualified as dangerous, a designation that takes into account a person’s off-platform activities, according to current and former Facebook employees familiar with the…TO READ THE FULL STORY https://www.wsj.com/articles/facebook-hate-speech-india-politics-muslim-hindu-modi-zuckerberg-11597423346?st=nczbr8ko9dcz4mj&reflink=article_copyURL_share

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We have to drop the language of ‘clashes,’ and even ‘riots’ and ‘communal violence'” when describing Hindu nationalist attacks on Muslims in India.

Cambridge University lecturer Priya Gopal says the media is failing in its duty to inform when it relies on “clashes” and similar language to describe what’s happening in India. She says there is an uneven distribution of power between these groups and calls it “deep, structural violence.”

Source: https://twitter.com/democracynow/status/1233032755581083654

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Employing the politics of solidarity against the rise of populism


We are living in extremely troubled times, amidst rising darkness, in my country, India, and around the world. We witness a world scarred by growing hate, mounting inequality, and the rise of a new kind of leadership around the world. In two of the biggest democracies in the world, India and the US, we have elected such leaders; in many others, these leaders are forming formidable oppositions.

What characterizes these leaders? The first is that they amplify, legitimize, valorize bigotry and hatred. Their politics thrives on deeply divided societies and instead of healing those divides, such people want to deepen and consolidate them.

The second is a peculiar moral inversion in which the oppressed becomes the oppressor and the oppressor becomes the oppressed. In this morally inverted discourse, white people in the United States, the dominant group, claim the role of the “oppressed” group—supposedly exploited by people of color, minorities, immigrants who are snatching away their due. In India, it is the dominant Hindu upper caste majority who is “oppressed” by various minorities, most of all Muslims. And, of course, the middle class and the rich are oppressed by the poor, who are labelled as lazy and parasitical; “we pay taxes” to subsidize the poor.  This discourse frees people of privilege from the duties of responsibility and solidarity.

We are seeing the rise across the world of a particularly uncaring middle and upper class, who mistake entitlement for privilege and who exile the poor from our conscience and our consciousness.

And, the third is just an extraordinary decline in the civility of public discourse—a kind of coarsening of the way we deal with people who disagree with us, the quick labelling of dissenters as unpatriotic and disreputable, and the crushing of this dissent.

But the important thing to remember is that the problem is not with the leaders. The problem is with us, you and me, because we are electing these leaders. And, we need to understand why more and more people around the world are choosing leaders who deepen division and make the world an increasingly frightening place to live in if you are a minority of any kind.

We are seeing the rise across the world of a particularly uncaring middle and upper class, who mistake entitlement for privilege and who exile the poor from our conscience and our consciousness. We’ve developed an extraordinary ability to see and look away. Mounting inequality and our ability to turn our faces away reflects above all a profound failure of solidarity.

But the other crisis that is scarring the world even more profoundly is rising hate and bigotry against vulnerable and dispossessed minorities, whether of race, gender, religion, caste, or disability. I call this the partitions of the heart: partitions in the land can still be seen and fought, but much harder to resist are daily constructions of partitions between hearts, where we are taught  to hate particular minorities.

I see a profound failure of local compassion. People don’t reach out; people are not helping each other.

In India, this hatred is manifesting itself in a peculiar form of violence which is lynching, very similar to the lynching of African Americans over many decades in the United States. These are performative acts of extreme cruelty, captured on videos by the perpetrators and circulated triumphantly on social media. One act of lynching thus becomes ten thousand acts of lynching, which settles in the hearts of Muslims and other minorities and teaches them to live with hate and everyday fear.

Perhaps most worrying of all: I see a profound failure of local compassion. People don’t reach out; people are not helping each other. I also call this command hate, because not only is this hate is spilling out into the streets, it is legitimized and actively encouraged by leaders and the dominant political discourse.

Most of all solidarity is something I call radical love.

How do we, as a human rights community, respond? How should we respond? As citizens, and human rights defenders, and in our politics, I feel that we have to develop a new grammar in our response to hate and inequality and most of all to our indifference.

Solidarity must lie at the core of our response. I understand solidarity like a circle with many spokes. We can talk about fraternity, brotherhood and sisterhood. The Hindi word in our constitution for fraternity is “bandhuta”, which derives from the Sanskrit, meaning we are bound to and with each other. Solidarity exists when you suffer pain and tears spill from my eyes, when chains on your feet also imprison me. Empathy is an act first of imagination and only then an act of feeling: we have built worlds so separated from one another that I have lost the capacity to imagine what it would be like to be the person I stigmatize. She may be a homeless person, a desperate immigrant, a person of color, a sexual minority. Compassion—and I like to talk about egalitarian compassion—is not the idea that you are simply a passive receptacle into which I pour my compassion. Instead we are two human beings meeting each other as equals, but recognizing that you have had a particularly difficult time and I can help you today, as you can help me another day.

As Noam Chomsky said, social protection is ultimately the idea that we should take care of each other. But most of all solidarity is something I call radical love. This is love that is drawn from great courage and conviction—there may be a storm of hatred sweeping the world and I will still stand, if necessary all alone, unflinching, courageous, risking my life and everything I treasure, so that I can light a lamp of love in this darkness for you.

I think we need to find new instruments, this new grammar of resistance and protest, for responding to hate and inequality, founded on these sibling ideas of solidarity. In India, a group of us resolved to fight this rising and legitimized command hate with a caravan of radical love—Karwan e Mohabbat. We resolved that we would go to the home of every person who is lynched. We won’t go out like human rights groups and ask them to give testimonies. We would go as we would to a loved one that has suffered grievous loss. We would tell them four things: Firstly, that they are not alone in this suffering; we stand with them. Second, we seek forgiveness for what they have undergone because we could not prevent our country from becoming what it is. And, third, that we will stand with these victim survivors in their struggles for justice and as they rebuild their savagely broken lives. And fourth, we will tell their stories to the world, to break our collective silences.

Paulo Freire told us that true solidarity is risking the plentitude of acts of love. This indeed is what constitutes solidarity and it is with this plentitude of love alone that we will be able to resist, fight and one day overcome injustice, inequality, indifference and hate.

 

This essay was developed in collaboration with the University of Connecticut’s Human Rights Institute, in connection with its recent April 2019 conference, “Human Rights and the Politics of Solidarity.”

Link: https://www.openglobalrights.org/employing-politics-of-solidarity-against-the-rise-of-populism/?lang=English

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Akal Takht Chief Calls For Ban On RSS, Says It’s Out To “Divide” India

 

By Mohammad Ghazali

 

Chandigarh: The chief of the top Sikh body – Akal Takht – called for a ban on the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) on Monday, saying that allowing it to operate freely would only “divide” the nation. The RSS is the ideological mentor of the BJP which rules the centre.

“Yes, it should be banned. I believe what the RSS is doing will create divisions in the country. The statements being made by RSS leaders are not in the country’s interests,” Akal Takht chief Giani Harpreet Singh said during a media interaction in Amritsar, calling upon the centre to rein in the outfit.

When pointed out that the RSS was linked to the BJP, Giani Harpreet Singh said: “Then it is not in the country’s interests. It will hurt the country and destroy it.”

The Akal Takht, translated as “Throne of the Timeless One”, is the highest temporal seat of the Sikh community. Located in Amritsar, it is part of a complex of religious buildings centred on the Golden Temple.

However, this is not the first time that religious leaders of the Sikh community and the RSS have faced off on ideological grounds. Last week, Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) president Gobind Singh Longowal objected to RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat calling India a “Hindu Rashtra” during an event held to mark the Dussehra festivities.

“The SGPC chief has objected to a statement made by RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat on the occasion of Dussehra, wherein he said that all the people residing in India are Hindu because the country is a Hindu nation,” a press release issued by the committee last Wednesday read.

The SGPC, also known as the Sikh parliament, manages all the gurdwaras and religious issues related to the community. Its office-bearers are voted in by the Sikh electorate.

 

Link: https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/akal-takht-chief-calls-for-ban-on-rss-says-its-out-to-divide-india-2116765?pfrom=home-topscroll

 

 

 

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Sedition Case : Over 180 Personalities Endorse Statement, Condemn Charges

Sedition Case for Open Letter: Over 180 Personalities Endorse Statement, Condemn Charges

The statement says “more of us will speak every day” against mob lynching and silencing people’s voices.

New Delhi: In response to an FIR being filed against 49 celebrities and prominent personalities for writing an open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, more than 180 cultural and literary personalities have condemned the charges and endorsed the original letter.

Among those who have signed the letter are actor Naseeruddin Shah, writer Nayantara Sahgal, dancer Mallika Sarabhai, historian Romila Thapar, academic Anand Teltumbde, singer T.M. Krishna and artist Vivan Sundaram, according to a report by NewsClick. In a statement, they said “more of us will speak every day” against mob lynching, silencing of people’s voices and misuse of courts to harass citizens.

On October 3, an FIR was lodged against the 49 celebrities, including Ramchandra Guha, Mani Ratnam, Aparna Sen, Shyam Benegal, Anurag Kashyap, raising concern in late July over the growing incidents of mob lynching, police said.

The FIR was lodged under several sections of the Indian Penal Code, including sedition. This is despite the Supreme Court’s stance that sedition charges cannot be invoked for criticism of the government. Supreme Court Justice Deepak Gupta also recently advocated the dilution – if not complete abolition – of the sedition law.

In the statement issued by 185 signatories, the eminent citizens said that the FIR was lodged against the 49 “colleagues in the cultural community simply because they performed their duty as respected members of civil society.”

They say:

“They wrote an open letter to the Prime Minister, expressing concern about mob lynching in our country. Can this be called an act of sedition? Or is harassment by misusing the courts a ploy to silence citizens’ voices?”

While condeming the “harassment” of the original signatories, they also endorsed “every word of the letter our colleagues wrote to the Prime Minister”.

“This is why we share their letter here once again, and appeal to the cultural, academic and legal communities to do the same. This is why more of us will speak every day. Against mob lynching. Against the silencing of people’s voices. Against the misuse of courts to harass citizens.”

The full text of the statement has been reproduced below.

§

An FIR has been lodged against forty-nine of our colleagues in the cultural community, simply because they performed their duty as respected members of civil society. They wrote an open letter to the Prime Minister, expressing concern about mob lynching in our country.

Can this be called an act of sedition? Or is harassment by misusing the courts a ploy to silence citizens’ voices?

All of us, as members of the Indian cultural community, as citizens of conscience, condemn such harassment. We do more: we endorse every word of the letter our colleagues wrote to the Prime Minister. This is why we share their letter here once again, and appeal to the cultural, academic and legal communities to do the same. This is why more of us will speak every day. Against mob lynching. Against the silencing of people’s voices. Against the misuse of courts to harass citizens.

A Mangai
Aarti Sethi
Abha Dev Habib
Abhishek Kaicker
Abhishek Majumdar
Achin Vanaik
Achyutanand Mishra
Ajitha GS
Akeel Bilgrami
Amit Bhaduri
Ammu Joseph
Amrita Pande
Anand Pradhan
Anand Teltumbde
Ananya Parikh
Ania Loomba
Anil Janvijay
Anitha Thampi
Anjali Monteiro
Arun Dev
Arundhati Dhuru
Arundhati Ghosh
Arunima Sehgal
Ashok Bhaumik
Ashok Vajpeyi
Ashutosh Kumar
Atamjit Singh
Ayesha Kidwai
B Rajeevan
Badri Raina
Bajrang Bihari
Bali singh
Balvant Kaur
Bharat Tiwari
Bhasha Singh
Bodhisatv
BRP Bhaskar
Chaman Lal
Chanchal Chauhan
Chandrakant Patil
Civic Chandran
CK Meena
Damodar Mauzo
Devaki Khanna
Devendra Choube
Dilip Borkar
EV Ramakrishnan
Faisal Khan
Gauhar Raza
Gayatri Spivak
Geeta Kapur
Geetanjali Shree
Girdhar Rathi
Gita Jayaraj
Githa Hariharan
Gyan Prakash
Hansda Sowvendra Shekhar
Harsh Mander
Hemlata Mahishwar
Himanjali Sankar
Hiralal Rajasthani
Ina Puri
Ira Bhaskar
J Devika
Javed Malick
Jawari Mal Parakh
Jeet Thayil
Jerry Pinto
Jyothi A
Jyoti Punwani
K Satchidanandan
K Srilata
Karthik Venkatesh
Kavery Nambisan
KG Sankara Pillai
KP Fabian
KP Jayasankar
KP Ramanunni
Krishnan Unni P
KS Parthasarathy
Kunal Sen
Leela Jacinto
MA Baby
Madhu Bhaduri
Madhusree Dutta
Mallika Sarabhai
Mangad Rathnakaran
Mangalesh Dabral
Manishi Jani
Maria Couto
Maya Rao
Merlin Moli
MMP Singh
Moinak Biswas
Moloyashree Hashmi
Moolchandra Gautam
MP Pratheesh
Mridula Garg
Mridula Koshy
MV Narayanan
Naina Dayal
Nancy Adajania
Nandita Narain
Naseeruddin Shah
Natasha Badhwar
Nayantara Sahgal
Neelan Premji
Neelima Sharma
Neeraj Malik
Nilanjan Mukhopadhyay
Nilanjana Bhowmick
NP Chekkutty
NS Madhavan
Nupur Asher
Pamela Philipose
PK Parakkadavu
PK Pokker
PN Gopikrishnan
Poile Sengupta
Prabir Purkayastha
Pradeep Chakraverti
Pramod Ranjan
Purushottam Agrawal
Rahman Abbas
Rajan Gurukkal
Rajashri Dasgupta
Rajendra Chenni
Rajendra Sharma
Rajesh Joshi
Ranbir Kaleka
Ranjit Hoskote
Ravikant
Rekha Awasthi
Renu Ramanath
Ritu Menon
Romila Thapar
Ruchi Chaturvedi
Rukmini Bhaya Nair
S Raghunandana
Saba Dewan
Saba Hasan
Sabeena Gadihoke
Saleem Peeradina
Salil Chaturvedi
Salim Yusufji
Sandeep Pandey
Sandhya Taksale
Sanjeev Kumar
Saumya Chakrabarti
Savithri Rajeevan
SG Vasudev
Shafey Kidwai
Shamsul Islam
Shamya Dasgupta
Shantanu Ray Chaudhuri
Shashi Deshpande
Sherna Dastur
Shoma A Chatterjji
Siddharth
Sonia Jabbar
Sreyashi Dastidar
Subhasini Ali
Subhasis Bandyopadhyay
Subodh Varma
Sudeshna Sengupta
Sudhanva Deshpande
Sudhir Chandra
Sumangala Damodaran
Sunil P Elayidom
Svati Joshi
Syantani Chatterjee
Syeda Hameed
TM Krishna
Udaya Kumar
Vaasanthi Sundaram
Valay Singh
Venkitesh Ramakrishnan
Vibha Maurya
Vijay Prashad
Vijaya Venkataraman
Vishnu Nagar
Vivan Sundaram
Vivek Narayanan
Yousuf Saeed
Zoya Hasan

Text of open letter written to Prime Minister Modi on 23 July 2019 by 49 eminent citizens, including Aparna Sen, Adoor Gopalakrishnan, Shyam Benegal, Anurag Kashyap, Ashis Nandy and Ramachandra Guha:

We, as peace loving and proud Indians, are deeply concerned about a number of tragic events that have been happening in recent times in our beloved country.

Our Constitution describes India as a secular socialist democratic republic where citizens of all religions, ethnicities, gender and castes are equal. Hence, to ensure that every citizen enjoys the rights given to her/him by the Constitution, our submission is:

1. The lynching of Muslims, Dalits and other minorities must be stopped immediately. We were shocked to learn from the NCRB (National Crime Records Bureau) reports that there have been no less than 840 instances of atrocities against Dalits in the year 2016, and a definite decline in the percentage of convictions.

Further, 254 religious identity-based hate crimes were reported between January 1, 2009, and October 29, 2018, where at least 91 persons were killed and 579 were injured (FactChecker.in database, October 30, 2018). The Citizen’s Religious Hate-Crime Watch recorded that Muslims, (14% of India’s population) were the victims in 62% for cases, and Christians (2% of the population), in 14% cases. About 90% of these attacks were reported after May 2014, when your Government assumed power nationally.

You have criticized such lynchings in Parliament Mr. Prime Minister, but that is not enough! What action has actually been taken against the perpetrators? We strongly feel that such offences should be declared non-bailable, and that exemplary punishment should be meted out swiftly and surely. If life imprisonment without parole can be the sentence in cases of murder, why not for lynchings, which are even more heinous? No citizen should have to live in fear in his/her own country!

Regrettably “Jai Sri Ram” has become a provocative ‘war-cry’ today that leads to law and order problems, and many lynchings take place in its name. It is shocking to see so much violence perpetrated in the name of religion! These are not the Middle Ages! The name of Ram is sacred to many in the majority community of India. As the highest Executive of this country, you must put a stop to the name of Ram being defiled in this manner.

2. There is no democracy without dissent. People should not be branded ‘anti-national’ or ‘urban Naxal’ and incarcerated because of dissent against the Government. Article 19 of the Constitution of India protects freedom of speech and expression of which dissent is an integral part.

Criticising the ruling party does not imply criticising the nation. No ruling party is synonymous with the country where it is in power. It is only one of the political parties of that country. Hence anti-government stands cannot be equated with anti-national sentiments. An open environment where dissent is not crushed, only makes for a stronger nation.

We hope our suggestions will be taken in the spirit that they are meant – as Indians genuinely concerned with, and anxious about, the fate of our nation.

https://thewire.in/rights/sedition-case-for-open-letter-over-180-personalities-endorse-statement-condemn-charges

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Why We, as Hindu Americans, Are Opposed to Modi’s Undeclared Emergency

By Raju Rajagopal and Sunita Viswanath 

“Democracy, beloved husband of Truth, loving father of Liberty, brother of Faith, Hope and Justice, expired on June 26.”
∼ Times of India classified advertisement, inserted surreptitiously just as the 1975 Emergency went into effect

A Hindu perspective

First-generation Hindu Americans like us consider ourselves very fortunate to have imbibed the notion of ahimsa (non-violence) from a very early age, even as we listened to the idea of Rama Rajya (a just and egalitarian society) at the feet of our parents and grandparents. But it is the US that taught us the critical importance of free speech and dissent in a democratic society.

So, it is doubly painful for us to behold how far the two nations that we dearly love are drifting away from their shared ideals. In India, spaces for dissent are shrinking at an alarming pace, with those who disagree with state policy often branded as desh drohis (betrayers). Some prominent thinkers have even been assassinated.

The media is constantly facing threats from defamation cases to archaic sedition laws, leading dangerously towards increasing self-censorship. And most regrettably, Hindu seers and acharyas, who are supposed to be the moral compass of the majority religion, are largely missing in action, as violence against minorities goes on unabated and the state is determined to look the other way.

As Americans of Indian origin who idealise the idea of democracy, we are sounding the alarm bells loud and clear: It is high time that Hindus of conscience all across the world wake up to the reality that their faith has been hijacked by those who have completely rejected its inclusive and egalitarian heart. This is an emergency.

Link: https://thewire.in/rights/why-hindu-americans-are-opposed-to-modis-undeclared-emergency

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National integration: One nation, one laxative

By G Sampath

Regular readers of this column would know that, even by the high standards of the average Indian voter, I am an extremely patient man. Whether it’s the corruption of the ruling class or the oppression of the working classes, the sinking economy or the rising unemployment, lynching of minorities or routine caste atrocities, I am prepared to cut our rulers some slack. Why shouldn’t I, when they are toiling day and night to make life easier for every wealthy Indian living in a First World country?

In fact, no government in any country on any planet in any solar system works as hard as the one we elected in May. Since then, Parliament’s productivity has gone up by 500%, terrorism has dropped by 800%, and the country’s PCP (per capita patriotism) has risen by 900%. But all this is nothing compared to what, in my opinion, will be this government’s lasting legacy: its focus on One Nation, One Blah Blah. The phrase ‘blah blah’ is a variable, like ‘x’ or ‘y’ in your school algebra. It can be whatever you want it to be. The genius of ‘One Nation, One Blah Blah’ is that it strengthens national unity no matter what ‘Blah Blah’ is.

Try it out. Let’s start with the original formulation: One Nation, One Election. Of course! India is one country, so why shouldn’t all the EVMs in all the States (and ex-States) elect their MLAs and MPs on the same day every five years? According to a government estimate, One Nation, One Election would save us enough money to comfortably pay off the combined debt of India’s top 12 crony capitalists and still have change left over to buy two Rafales and a packet of Vimal Pan Masala.

This brings us to the next logical step of national integration: One Nation, One Party. There is now enough scientific evidence that the chances of finding an Opposition party in India are less than the chances of finding water on Mars. So if every Indian is anyway going to vote for the BJP in election after election, why not update our Constitution and make India a single-party kleptocracy?

One bank account

I read somewhere that the government is also thinking of One Nation, One Bank Account — a super idea. My only humble request is that we should go with Mukesh’s bank account — it would overnight wipe out the debt of every single farmer in India and solve the entire middle class’s EMI problem. I am also in favour of One Nation, One Card — provided it is Mukesh’s credit card. I also don’t mind One Nation, One Car — but again, it has to be Mukesh’s car. To differentiate it from Uber and Ola, we can call it Moolah.

While these public unifications are necessary, one mustn’t underestimate the importance of extending One Nation, One Blah Blah into all realms of private life, including the most intimate. For starters, I want the government to amend the Constitution to mandate One Nation, One Shampoo.

Right now the national shampoo scene is a mess. Take my own family. There is no unity in the bathroom. My wife uses a random Korean brand of organic shampoo — I think it’s called Ta Lai Wa Lee. Kattabomman uses a baby shampoo.

And my father-in-law washes his hair with Dettol soap instead of a shampoo. As for me, being a true sanatana dharmist, I simply wash my head in plain Ganga water, which is superior to the world’s most advanced shampoo. My question is: why can’t every Indian — Hindus and Muslims, men and women, politicians and lap dogs — use the same shampoo? Why not One Nation, One Shampoo for all hair-bearing denizens of India?

Bowel policy

The biggest pay-off from implementing One Nation, One Blah Blah in the personal sphere will come from a domain that, if you aren’t already a victim, you will have guessed by now: One Nation, One Laxative. Yes, I know this is a private matter, and I don’t mean to butt in. However, when personal constipation begins to affect public discourse, it is no longer a personal issue but a matter for public policy.

According to the WHO, most Indians are constipated. Look at our TV anchors. Don’t you think their facial expression and general temperament would be considerably improved by a bowel movement?

Why do you think there is so much vitriol in our public debates, be it on TV or social media? Endemic and long-term constipation. That’s why. No other reason.

Bring the whole country under one laxative that works — and see how the nation’s collective mood improves. 130 crore Indians will be exchanging smileys for no reason.

There has been enough publicity around One Nation, One Election, and even One Nation, One Language. But it is One Nation, One Laxative that the nation needs to swallow, and swallow now.

Link:https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/columns/national-integration-one-nation-one-laxative/article29531393.ece

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United Against Hate Organised a Public Meeting at Aram Park area of East Delhi on NRC and Mob lynching . It was attended by hundreds of people Mufti Salim Qasmi, Umar Khalid, Nadeem Khan, Adv Fuzail Ayyubi, Dr. Kafeel Khan, Poojan Sahil Nabiya Khan, Kaushik Raj, Saurabh Mishra, Nikita Chaturvedi and others addressed the gathering. ‬

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Hindus must stand against Hindutva: Why I protested against Narendra Modi in Houston and New York

By

A close Kashmiri friend of mine in New York City has not spoken with her loved ones for more than 50 days. The Valley has been under siege since August 5, with a communications blackout in place. Meanwhile, detention centres are being built in Assam for potentially millions of people rendered non-citizens through the National Register of Citizens programme. When Prime Minister Narendra Modi took the stage with US President Donald Trump in Houston on September 22, he declared in eight languages, “Everything is fine in India.”

I am here to tell the world that nothing could be further from the truth.

I represented my organisation Hindus for Human Rights in Friday’s #AdiosModiNYC protest and was part of the Coalition Against Fascism in India. While there were some 25,000 protesters outside the United Nations, many of these protesters were Pakistani, Khalistani and Kashmiri. That is, many protesters were taking a stand against India.

United for a united India

What was unique about our coalition was that many of us were Indians, not speaking out against India but speaking for a democractic and secular India, an India whose Constitution is honored. We were people of Indian origin who stood with Kashmiris and all of India’s minorities – especially Muslims and Dalits – who are the direct targets of the unabated lynchings, rapes and bigoted policies under the Bharatiya Janata Party government.

The other unique aspect of our coalition is that it included a Hindu organisation. Since the democratic fabric of India is being decimated in the name of Hinduism, with the seeming support of the Hindu majority, the resistance must include practicing Hindus.

Excerpt of rally speech by Hawk Newsome, Black Lives Matter NYC:

  “All we have is the love of each other and the Gods we may pray to. But I believe we will win, I believe we will overcome this. And the way we do it is we keep building bridges. While they try to build walls to separate people, we are building bridges to connect people. And that’s how we win.”

Excerpt of rally speech by Stephan Shaw, Jewish Voice for Peace NYC:

“Jewish Voice for Peace has been shouting ‘not in our name’ for a long time. When Israel prevents medicine from entering the open air prison camp of Gaza, we say ‘not in our name’. It is so wonderful to see a group of Hindus here, namely Hindus for Human Rights, assert the same fundamental claim. Though we are for secularism in government, let’s not let this demand cede the religious majority to the virulent few. To be Jewish doesn’t mean support for Israel’s racist policies. To be Hindu doesn’t mean to be Hindutva and strip millions of muslims of citizenship.

To the Islamophobic, bigoted and xenophobic policies in the United States, Israel and India, we say, “Not in our name.” We say this equally as Jews or Hindus or atheists or secularists.”

Excerpt of rally speech by Ajaya Kumar, Dalit Activist from Kerala:

 “Our constitution written by Dr BR Ambedkar is one of the beautiful documents of democracy. And Ambedkar said, If we fail this constitution, then we will fail this country. And that is precisely what we are experiencing now…. Since untouchability was abolished 70 years ago, we have slowly been building institutions to combat caste and casteism. Over the past 70 years there have been many laws and policies and legislation, and we are slowly moving forward.

But this fellow [Modi] has dismantled every bit of the institutions we have been building these past 70 years. That’s the sad part of it. And I don’t know how long it will take to rebuild. But I am so happy, so happy, there are diverse people – democracy in India is diversity – people of diverse background here today, including Hindus. This is something we can’t even think right now in Kerala. You can ‘t even think of this kind of protest in India. That is the reality we are living. Friends, I congratulate every one of you, and I would like to quote what Ambedkar said: ‘Our fight is not for power. Our fight is to reclaim human values.’”

I have two key messages to share:

  1. Support progressive organisations: When I saw the 52,000 Indian Americans marching past our placards into the NRG stadium to listen to Modi and Trump, it was hard not to notice their opulent regalia: silks and jewels, and the confident stride that says, we have money and are protecting our vested interests. The progressive organisations that are bravely taking a stand against fascism inside India, and those supporting democracy from outside India need assistance. It is crucial that the resistance has the capacity to fight back.
  2. Hindus, raise your voices: It is essential for Hindus to take back our faith from extremists and our democracy from fascists. If you are Hindu – religious, secular, cultural or even atheist Hindu – please join our movement of Hindus against Hindutva. We need to rise up against this hyper-masculine, violent form of Hinduism that is fueled by hatred and Islamophobia and remind our fellow Hindus that prayers like Loka Samastha Sukhino Bhavantu are not empty Hallmark messages, but fierce prayers for justice for all.

Let the history books state that the resistance to Hindu fascism in India included many Hindus of conscience, both in India and worldwide, who said Not In Our Name.

Onward, together.

Link: https://scroll.in/article/938851/hindus-must-stand-against-hindutva-why-i-protested-against-modi-in-houston-and-new-york

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Hindus must stand against Hindutva

Hindus must stand against Hindutva: Why I protested against Narendra Modi in Houston and New York

It is essential for Hindus to take back their faith from extremists, says the founder of Hindus for Human Rights.

Sep 29, 2019

 

A close Kashmiri friend of mine in New York City has not spoken with her loved ones for more than 50 days. The Valley has been under siege since August 5, with a communications blackout in place. Meanwhile, detention centres are being built in Assam for potentially millions of people rendered non-citizens through the National Register of Citizens programme. When Prime Minister Narendra Modi took the stage with US President Donald Trump in Houston on September 22, he declared in eight languages, “Everything is fine in India.”

I am here to tell the world that nothing could be further from the truth.

I was part of the huge crowd outside the NRG Stadium last weekend protesting the Howdy Modi event. And I was outside the United Nations on Friday protesting Modi’s presentation at the General Assembly. Between those two protests I traveled to Washington DC to testify at an event on Capitol Hill about the crisis of human rights in India. I also wrote this oped along with a colleague, Raju Rajagopal, “Why We, as Hindu Americans, Are Opposed to Modi’s Undeclared Emergency”.

I represented my organisation Hindus for Human Rights in Friday’s #AdiosModiNYC protest and was part of the Coalition Against Fascism in India. While there were some 25,000 protesters outside the United Nations, many of these protesters were Pakistani, Khalistani and Kashmiri. That is, many protesters were taking a stand against India.

United for a united India

What was unique about our coalition was that many of us were Indians, not speaking out against India but speaking for a democractic and secular India, an India whose Constitution is honored. We were people of Indian origin who stood with Kashmiris and all of India’s minorities – especially Muslims and Dalits – who are the direct targets of the unabated lynchings, rapes and bigoted policies under the Bharatiya Janata Party government.

The other unique aspect of our coalition is that it included a Hindu organisation. Since the democratic fabric of India is being decimated in the name of Hinduism, with the seeming support of the Hindu majority, the resistance must include practicing Hindus.

Excerpt of rally speech by Hawk Newsome, Black Lives Matter NYC:

  “All we have is the love of each other and the Gods we may pray to. But I believe we will win, I believe we will overcome this. And the way we do it is we keep building bridges. While they try to build walls to separate people, we are building bridges to connect people. And that’s how we win.”

Excerpt of rally speech by Stephan Shaw, Jewish Voice for Peace NYC:

“Jewish Voice for Peace has been shouting ‘not in our name’ for a long time. When Israel prevents medicine from entering the open air prison camp of Gaza, we say ‘not in our name’. It is so wonderful to see a group of Hindus here, namely Hindus for Human Rights, assert the same fundamental claim. Though we are for secularism in government, let’s not let this demand cede the religious majority to the virulent few. To be Jewish doesn’t mean support for Israel’s racist policies. To be Hindu doesn’t mean to be Hindutva and strip millions of muslims of citizenship.

To the Islamophobic, bigoted and xenophobic policies in the United States, Israel and India, we say, “Not in our name.” We say this equally as Jews or Hindus or atheists or secularists.”

Excerpt of rally speech by Ajaya Kumar, Dalit Activist from Kerala:

 “Our constitution written by Dr BR Ambedkar is one of the beautiful documents of democracy. And Ambedkar said, If we fail this constitution, then we will fail this country. And that is precisely what we are experiencing now…. Since untouchability was abolished 70 years ago, we have slowly been building institutions to combat caste and casteism. Over the past 70 years there have been many laws and policies and legislation, and we are slowly moving forward.

But this fellow [Modi] has dismantled every bit of the institutions we have been building these past 70 years. That’s the sad part of it. And I don’t know how long it will take to rebuild. But I am so happy, so happy, there are diverse people – democracy in India is diversity – people of diverse background here today, including Hindus. This is something we can’t even think right now in Kerala. You can ‘t even think of this kind of protest in India. That is the reality we are living. Friends, I congratulate every one of you, and I would like to quote what Ambedkar said: ‘Our fight is not for power. Our fight is to reclaim human values.’”

I have two key messages to share:

  1. Support progressive organisations: When I saw the 52,000 Indian Americans marching past our placards into the NRG stadium to listen to Modi and Trump, it was hard not to notice their opulent regalia: silks and jewels, and the confident stride that says, we have money and are protecting our vested interests. The progressive organisations that are bravely taking a stand against fascism inside India, and those supporting democracy from outside India need assistance. It is crucial that the resistance has the capacity to fight back.
  2. Hindus, raise your voices: It is essential for Hindus to take back our faith from extremists and our democracy from fascists. If you are Hindu – religious, secular, cultural or even atheist Hindu – please join our movement of Hindus against Hindutva. We need to rise up against this hyper-masculine, violent form of Hinduism that is fueled by hatred and Islamophobia and remind our fellow Hindus that prayers like Loka Samastha Sukhino Bhavantu are not empty Hallmark messages, but fierce prayers for justice for all.

Let the history books state that the resistance to Hindu fascism in India included many Hindus of conscience, both in India and worldwide, who said Not In Our Name.

Onward, together.

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Hindus for Human Rights: Hindus must stand against Hindutva

Why We, as Hindu Americans, Are Opposed to Modi’s Undeclared Emergency

The war of attrition against the people of Kashmir and against minorities elsewhere poses a far greater danger to Indian democracy than Indira Gandhi’s Emergency rule of 1975.

“Democracy, beloved husband of Truth, loving father of Liberty, brother of Faith, Hope and Justice, expired on June 26.”
∼ Times of India classified advertisement, inserted surreptitiously just as the 1975 Emergency went into effect

Imagine for a moment that the US had a parliamentary system like in India, which permits the Feds to dismiss a state government, say in California, citing political instability and imminent threats to law and order. Say, thereafter, the state is ruled directly by a Washington bureaucrat, with all the powers of the state legislature purportedly vested in him/her.

Then imagine that in the stealth of night the Feds declare that henceforth the state of California shall be divided into three entities, which may or may not get full statehood, and that the approval of that plan by the Washington bureaucrat shall be deemed to be the consent of California’s elected lawmakers – most of whom are by then under house arrest and held incommunicado, with a complete shutdown of phones and internet across the state.

Sound preposterous?

Yet, that is precisely what India did to the state of Jammu and Kashmir on August 5. Sadly, the other endangered democracy here in the US barely took notice, as President Trump meekly endorsed India’s actions a few days later.

When Prime Minister Modi appeared at the UN General Assembly in New York yesterday, it had been more than 50 days of total isolation of Kashmir from the rest of India and the world. There seems to be no end in sight to the collective punishment of its entire people.

From paradise to purgatory

Official narratives of the situation in the Valley have been largely self-serving and often proven false. But heart-wrenching first-hand stories have emerged through the haze, and they paint a worsening humanitarian crisis, especially for women, children and the elderly, with shortages of medicines and other daily necessities.

 

There have been numerous reports of pellet gun injuries and even of deaths and torture. All avenues for citizens to express their views, including the right to assembly and worship, appear to have been blocked. And, the near-total travel ban has placed the Supreme Court of India in the embarrassing position of having to ‘grant permission’ to a few hardy souls to visit Kashmir to attend to family emergencies.

In the meantime, India’s primary preoccupation in the last few weeks has been to ‘manage’ Western reactions, as diplomats gloat over the fact that the Kashmir issue has been successfully contained in international forums. So, as the people of Kashmir continue to suffocate, we should not be surprised if the honourable prime minister weaves an uplifting story of how Kashmiris will soon be out on the streets with roses for their ‘liberators,’ and the Valley will soon be brimming with jobs and industries – and will be transformed into a tourist paradise such as the world has never seen.

Such vainglory among Indian officials may sound cruel and even deliberate, considering that seven million citizens continue to be locked down, but they would be entirely normal in the populist world of Modi, just as President Trump wears his mistreatment of immigrant mothers and children as a badge of honour in front of his adoring crowds.

 

A plan gone awry?

Perhaps the Indian government hoped for a ground-swell of support from ordinary Kashmiris for its scrapping of Article 370, but initial attempts at opening public spaces appear to have backfired. While jingoistic supporters of the government continue to back its adventure vociferously, nearly eight weeks later, the state is now caught between a rock and a hard place: If it eases the restrictions on travel, worship and social media, Kashmir could very well explode. But if it prolongs the inhumanity, it will only compound the rage day after day, and Kashmir could reach a point of no return.

So, Delhi may very well resort to what repressive governments tend to do under pressure: Make a pretence of easing restrictions, while crushing dissent even further, not only in the Valley but also in the rest of India.

This crisis is different from 1975

Indira Gandhi’s Emergency rule lasted 21 harrowing months, and was brought down by a combination of outrage in the international community and fierce resistance by a few civil society leaders, some of whom fought from exile in the US (including the RSS, which ironically is the prime mover of today’s march towards an authoritarian Hindu state).

More importantly, the judiciary played a major role in defending India’s constitution every step of the way. But, at the end of the day, the Emergency ended not the least because of Indira Gandhi’s own arrogant certainty that she would win handsomely in a new national election – in which both she and her son, who had launched the notorious forced sterilisation drive, lost.

Today’s undeclared emergency by a populist government is vastly different. It has just been re-elected with a brute majority in the parliament and is inspired by a disciplined ideology united by hatred for the other. It has already done the hard work of co-opting many of the important national democratic institutions, and it has been very good at ‘winking’ at numerous acts of violence against minorities and activists.

 

At first blush, it even seems to have the support of the Supreme Court for its actions in Kashmir as well as for its National Register of Citizens (NRC), which is unfairly targeting Muslims. This is a troubling combination, which should be of great concern to anyone who cares for India’s democracy.

A Hindu perspective

First-generation Hindu Americans like us consider ourselves very fortunate to have imbibed the notion of ahimsa (non-violence) from a very early age, even as we listened to the idea of Rama Rajya (a just and egalitarian society) at the feet of our parents and grandparents. But it is the US that taught us the critical importance of free speech and dissent in a democratic society.

So, it is doubly painful for us to behold how far the two nations that we dearly love are drifting away from their shared ideals. In India, spaces for dissent are shrinking at an alarming pace, with those who disagree with state policy often branded as desh drohis (betrayers). Some prominent thinkers have even been assassinated.

The media is constantly facing threats from defamation cases to archaic sedition laws, leading dangerously towards increasing self-censorship. And most regrettably, Hindu seers and acharyas, who are supposed to be the moral compass of the majority religion, are largely missing in action, as violence against minorities goes on unabated and the state is determined to look the other way.

As Americans of Indian origin who idealise the idea of democracy, we are sounding the alarm bells loud and clear: It is high time that Hindus of conscience all across the world wake up to the reality that their faith has been hijacked by those who have completely rejected its inclusive and egalitarian heart. This is an emergency.

Raju Rajagopal and Sunita Viswanath are co-founders of Hindus for Human Rights USA, an advocacy organisation that is committed to the ideals of multi-religious pluralism in the US, India, and beyond. 

See also:

See also: https://www.hindusforhumanrights.org/

Hindus must stand against Hindutva: Why I protested against Narendra Modi in Houston and New York

http://www.iamc.com/hindus-must-stand-against-hindutva/

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Thousands of Indian Americans of all religious and cultural backgrounds stage protest in Houston

Thousands protest against PM Modi during Howdy Modi event

HOUSTON, (TX),
Thousands of Indian Americans joined a protest rally against Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Sunday, during the Howdy Modi event, led by the Alliance for Justice and Accountability (AJA), a coalition of Indian Americans.

The AJA comprises Hindu, Muslim, Dalit, Sikh and Christian groups, among others. They include the Hindus for Human Rights (HfHR), a progressive Hindu group that opposes Hindutva; the Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC); and the Organization for Minorities of India (OFMI).

Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) and Black Lives Matter too joined it. Judge William Bill McLeod, who is currently running for Harris County civil court was present.

‘We are a bona fide group of Indian Americans with roots in India, and not connected with any other nationality or separatist causes,” the AJA said in a statement. ‘We have one and only one agenda: to expose the undemocratic, anti-people and anti-minorities agenda of Mr. Modi’s government and BJP party.”

HfHR Co-Founder Sunita Viswanath said her organization was joining the protest because Hindus cannot accept human rights violations in the name of Hinduism.

‘We are horrified that our religion which teaches Vasudaiva kutumbakam is being hijacked by extremists and nationalists who are lynching Muslims, trampling on democracy and law and order, and arresting if not murdering those who are speaking out,” Viswanath said. ‘We are especially appalled by the most recent nightmare of the Kashmiri people, and the situation of 1.9 million people in India who are rendered stateless due to the imposition of the travesty called the National Register of Citizens.”

Added Ashton P. Woods, Co-founder of Black Lives Matter in Houston: ‘Prime Minister Modi has committed atrocities that cannot be overlooked. While I am fighting for my rights, and I ask people to support me, I also extend my support to the marginalized. My right to exist is contingent to everyone;s rights to exist. And we cannot allow those guilty of ethnic cleansing to enter our country”.

Pieter Friedrich, an American author and activist who has exposed the Hindu rightwing operations in the U.S., presenting a detailed paper on how congress woman Tulsi Gabbard was funded hugely by the Hindutva groups including the Hindu Swayam Sevak (HSS), the international wing of RSS in USA, decried the participation of American politicians at the Howdy Modi event. ‘It’s shameful for any American politician to participate in a propaganda campaign by a pogrom-tainted foreign leader on US soil.”

At a press conference earlier, to announce details of the protest he also pointed out how even the local politicians like the mayor Sylvester Turner, who is up for re-election in November, is attending the meeting only because they stand to benefit from the presence of huge Indian diaspora in Houston.

He pointed out how Governor Brad Sherman had released a letter asking everyone to attend the event in August, but has now withdrawn, following cries of protest.

Ayman Elsawa, Egyptian activist, stated how president Trump bragged about Egyptian dictator Sisi, being his favorite, against whom 1000’s of Egyptians came on the streets recently, threatening to overthrow him, and who has gone into hiding, probably in US itself. His question to US president Trump therefore is if he is looking to replace Sisi with Modi, as his favorite dictator.

Sarah Philips, who represents student activist group, Azaad Austin, who’s grandparents moved to USA in the 70’s, stated that it’s a very worrying factor how the progressive politicians in USA are also getting connected to Hindutva groups in USA, which is worrying the minority groups here. She stated how it’s not possible to care for progressive politics in USA, but not care for rising Hindutva influence in India. ‘Since Modi came to power, the atrocities against minorities has jumped up by 500 %.” she stated

Daniel Cohen, a Professional Communicator with a Deep Love for Advocacy described Modi as someone who is building the world’s largest outdoor concentration camp. He thought it fitting that the US president would welcome him, because tyrants run together and will be on one stage. ‘Those who want to oppress, separate people, deny them their rights and liberties run together. What however doesn’t make sense is that the progressives who speak the same language as us, will join them, just to line their pockets”, he said.

Reverend Lisa Hunt, Rector at the St. Stevens Episcopal Church, said in Modi’s India, minorities and Dalits are experiencing lynching and hate crimes. In the name of creating a Hindu country, despite the separation of religion and state in the Indian constitution, Modi and BJP are creating an atmosphere of hostility for religious minorities, leading to ethnic cleansing. She further stated that if Christians here ignore something like this in another country, they encourage something like this taking root in USA as well.

Syed Ali, of the Indian American of Muslim Council, (IAMC), pointed out that there are a lot of separatists groups, including Khalistanis who have joined the protests, AJA does not endorse them. ‘We support the Kashmiris, the minorities and Dalits. This is a free country where everyone is allowed to protest, but AJA has a larger agenda of countering Hindutva”.

Wasim Dhar, a Kashmiri Muslim, stated that they are raising their voices against issues of nationalism, fascism, denial of rights to minorities and Kashmir fits into all these issues. Indian politics has suppressed which has led to the death of 90,000 Kashmiri’s, rape of 8000 women and about 10,000 buried in mass graves which were recently discovered. The actions of August 5 are therefore no different from the actions before, but what it was laid bare the full desires of a Hindu Nationalist government, to dehumanize and delegitimize the rights of Kashmiris.

Leading activists who participated in AJA’s protest included Sarah Philips, Director of Operations at the Asian Desi Pacific Islander American Collective; Prof. Samina Salim of University of Houston; Pawan Singh (OFMI); Rev. Lisa Hunt, Rector at the St. Stevens Episcopal Church; Zach Chatterjee Shlachter (JVP); Daniel Cohen, Professional Communicator with a Deep Love for Advocacy; and Cesar Octavio Executive Director, For Families and Their Education (FIEL).

‘India’s crackdown on Kashmir comes even as violence against India’s social and religious minorities — Muslims, Christians, Dalits and Adivasis — has escalated massively in the five years since Mr. Modi has been prime minister,” the AJA said.

‘Mr. Modi’s government, and the many state governments run by his political party, the BJP, have repeatedly protected the perpetrators of such violence against the minorities while bringing criminal charges against the victims of such violence.”

The AJA statement further said that the behavior of Mr. Modi’s Government and the BJP’s state governments is reflective of the long-held ideological agenda of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), which explicitly seeks to convert India into a Hindu supremacist nation with second-class status for Muslims and Christians

‘Over the last five years, Hindu extremist lynch mobs have killed nearly 100 Muslims in street across India simply because they were Muslims,” the AJA said. ‘In a number of such cases, the police have refused to bring criminal charges against the killer mobs.”

‘In a chilling reminder of the Holocaust, Mr. Modi is building detention centers in Assam. It is wholly unclear what will be done with these 1.9 million people, and they may well be staring at years of detention with mass torture, pushing them further into abject poverty and without any rights,” the AJA said.

Fully half a million of these 1.9 million people are Muslims. In a separate move, Mr. Modi’s government has announced that it will bring a law that would allow non-Muslim ‘foreigners” to be given citizenship in India. Which basically means that the Government’s only intention is to disenfranchise the Muslims. And now, Mr. Modi’s government has declared it will carry out the same exercise of finding ‘foreigners” throughout India. The aim is to disenfranchise millions of Muslims across the country since Muslims number 200 million of India’s 1.3 billion people.

‘This is a recipe for disaster and a threat to India’s integrity,” the AJA said.

Read more at http://www.indialife.us/article.php?id=123810

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Activists on Way to Ayodhya for Event on Communal Harmony Detained by UP Police

By Akhil Kumar

New Delhi: Social activists on their way to Ayodhya for a workshop on peace and communal harmony have been detained by the Uttar Pradesh police. The police claim the event would disrupt peace in the area.

The organisers are not reachable at the moment but Ram Puniyani, one of the speakers at the event, told The Wire that communal harmony and constitutional values are at odds with the agenda of the Yogi Adityanath-led BJP government in the state – which is why this action was taken.

The two-day workshop was planned at the Saryu Kunj temple in Ayodhya where Mahant Yugal Kishor Sharan Shastri is the chief priest. Khudai Khidmatgar, a non-violent anti-colonial movement founded by Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan in 1930 and later revived by Faisal Khan, organised the event along with Magsaysay award winner Sandeep Pandey and Mahant Shastri.

Author and social activist Ram Puniyani was supposed to take the introductory lectures in the workshop today. Puniyani claims people from all over the state would attend the workshop.

According to the sequence of events narrated by Puniyani, the Uttar Pradesh police arrived at Pandey’s residence at 4 am. When Puniyani and Pandey were leaving for Ayodhya along with a few other volunteers, the police asked them to stay back claiming the workshop had been cancelled.

The police said they feared the programme would disrupt peace in the area. Pandey informed the policemen that the programme was for peace and communal harmony, and that they would continue with their schedule. A police vehicle then followed the two cars till a toll booth around 10 km before Ayodhya where they were asked to stop.

Around 30-40 policemen were waiting for them at the toll booth. When Pandey asked why they were stopped without a written order, the policemen said they suspected the programme would disrupt peace and hence they couldn’t go any further. Even after repeated assurances that they hadn’t come to speak about the Ayodhya or Kashmir issues and that the workshop was just about peace, communal harmony and the constitution, they weren’t allowed to go further.

The activists were then asked to sit in the toll collection office. Mahant Shastri called them to inform that he too had been detained and had been told that the workshop couldn’t proceed as planned. Shashtri was also brought to the same place soon after. Puniyani, along with four other people, returned to Lucknow as he has to board a flight back to Mumbai this evening.

Pandey, Shastri and four other people are still detained at the toll office.

“I believe our idea of communal harmony are not acceptable to the Yogi government in UP as they have a different ideology and agenda. We believe in the Indian constitution but they have different ideas, that’s why the workshop was stopped,” Puniyani told The Wire.

On being asked if the workshop was being organised for some special occasion, Puniyani clarified that members of the civil society who believe in and work for communal harmony keep doing these events to propagate the ideas of peace, secularism and the values of the Indian constitution. “When new people join us, we try to organise such meetings to speak to them about our ideas,” he added.

This comes just a day after Pandey was put under house arrest before a candlelight vigil at Lucknow’s Hazratganj against the Centre’s decisions on Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir. Punyani was also staying at Pandey’s house at the time.

“I came to Lucknow from Mumbai yesterday and stayed at Sandeep Pandey’s house. We had organised a rally to raise out voice to demand that democracy be restored in Kashmir,” Puniyani told The Wire. They had marched for just 1 km when police came with buses with the intent to arrest and they had to disperse, he added. Puniyani asserts that the event in Ayodhya had nothing to do with the Kashmir issue and he saw no reason other than BJP’s ideological agenda that the event was cancelled.

The Wire tried to contact Pandey, Shastri and Faisal Khan but they were unavailable at the time of publication of this story.

Link: https://thewire.in/rights/activists-ayodhya-event-communal-harmony-detained-up-police

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Religious duty of Sikhs to protect Kashmiri girls: Akal Takht Jathedar

By Kamaldeep Singh Brar

An Akal Takht Jathedar (clergy) Friday urged to the Sikh community to come forward and make it their “religious duty” to defend and protect the honour of Kashmiri girls who were being humiliated by certain political leaders and others on the social media after special status for Jammu and Kashmir under Section 370 was scrapped.

Akal Takht is the highest temporal seat of the Sikhs.

“God has given equal rights to all human beings and it is a crime to differentiate against anyone on the basis of gender, caste or religion. The kind of commands given by elected representatives on social media against the girls of Kashmir after the removal of special status under Section 370 are not only defamatory but also unforgivable,” Jathedar Giani Harpreet Singh said in a statement.

Without naming anybody, the jethedar said, “The manner in which some people are posting pictures of Kashmiri daughters on social media has hurt India’s image. Such comments objectify women. At the same time, these people have forgotten that a woman is also a mother, daughter, sister and a wife. It is women who has the power of creation”.

Again desisting from naming any person or community, he said that the same “mob”, which was now targeting the Kashmiri women, “had reacted in the same way and attacked the Sikh women during riots of 1984”.

“Kashmiri women are part of our society. It is our religious duty to defend their honour. Sikhs should come forward to protect the honour of Kashmiri women. It is our duty and it is our history,” he said.

Meanwhile, a Sikh activist from Delhi, Harminder Singh Ahluwalia, collected Rs 4 lakh in donations to buy tickets to help 34 Kashmiri girls, stuck in Maharashtra, reach Srinagar. Harminder and two others also accompanied the girls.

 

Link: https://indianexpress.com/article/india/kashmiri-girls-article-akal-takht-jathedar-370-5893819/?fbclid=IwAR3qKleyj9WeGq5gaeJBdZ3P7U-zlfE1OgRvF0RkZlJ7JKFp3M6wOz_9RMM

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This shop in Ahmedabad sells Rakhis with social messages

In a bid to spread the message of communal harmony, this shop in Gujarat’s Ahmedabad is selling Rakhis with a social message.

Iqbal, who owns the shop, told ANI: “This year Rakhsha Bandhan is very special because it’s been after 15 years that we are celebrating both Independence Day and Rakhi on the same day. This year, we are spreading the message of communal harmony.”

“Girl children should be educated and then only we can bring a huge change in society. We have been promoting such messages through our rakhis in the past,” he added.

Opining that our nation would be a better place if everyone pledges to ensure safety of fellow citizens, Iqbal said: “When a sister ties rakhi on her brother’s wrist, it is believed that he would safeguard her no matter what. As a united nation, we all should work for our nation’s progress. Along with respecting one’s religion, we should also understand the diversity our country has.”

Sunita Patel, a customer said, “It is good that 15 August and Rakhi comes on the same date. There are so many things that one can learn from the Rakhi festival. Instead of spreading hatred among the people, I would appeal to the public to spread compassion and brotherhood.”

India will celebrate Rakhi, one of the major Hindu festivals, on August 15 this year. (ANI)

 

Link: https://newsroompost.com/lifestyle/this-shop-in-ahmedabad-sells-rakhis-with-social-messages/467402.html

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Mani Ratnam, Anurag Kashyap, other celebrities write open letter to PM Modi over lynchings

JULY 24, 2019 15:17 IST

The letter also states that the phrase “Jai Shri Ram” has been reduced to a “provocative war cry”

The lynching of Muslims, Dalits and other minorities must be stopped immediately, celebrities from various fields have said in an open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi while also stressing that there is “no democracy without dissent”.

The letter, written by 49 eminent personalities, including filmmakers Mani Ratnam, Anurag Kashyap, Shyam Benegal and Aparna Sen as well as vocalist Shubha Mudgal and historian Ramchandra Guha, also noted that Jai Shri Ram has been reduced to “provocative war cry”.

“We, as peace loving and proud Indians, are deeply concerned about a number of tragic events that have been happening in recent times in our beloved country,” the letter dated July 23 said.

“The lynching of Muslims, Dalits and other minorities must be stopped immediately. We were shocked to learn from the NCRB that there have been no less than 840 instances of atrocities against Dalits in the year 2016, and a definite decline in the percentage of convictions,” it continued.

They also regretted that “Jai Shri Ram” has been reduced to a “provocative war cry” and alleged the prime minister’s inaction on the issue.

“You have criticised such lynchings in Parliament Mr. Prime Minister, but that is not enough! What action has actually been taken against the perpetrators?”

“Ram is sacred for the majority community, stop defiling the name of Ram,” the letter read.

It also underscored the significance of dissent in a democracy.

“There is no democracy without dissent. People should not be branded anti-national or urban Naxal and incarcerated because of dissent against the government.”

When reached out for comment, Anurag Kashyap responded, saying, “You have been seeing what’s been going on. No one says a thing, no one condemns it strongly enough for it to stop. They are busy amending the RTI . I don’t know if the letter would make any difference, most probably it will be drowned in the noise and chaos of news channels and trolls digging out whatever suits the narrative, and fake news and more ‘go to pakistan’ ‘tukde tukde award wapasi urban naxal gangs’. Remotely hoping that the PM speaks strongly.”

The signatories to the letter include Bengali cinema thespian Soumitro Chatterjee, southern filmmaker-actor Revathy, actor Konkona Sen Sharma, social activist Binayak Sen and sociologist Ashis Nandy.

(With inputs from Namrata Joshi)

 

 

https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/mani-ratnam-anurag-kashyap-other-celebs-write-open-letter-to-pm-modi-over-lynchings/article28697806.ece

 

 

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#IndiaForAll: Delhi activist leads a campaign promoting peace and communal harmony

New Delhi| “My name is Rahul Kapoor. I am a Hindu. Hinduism is against all forms of violence. Save India from mob lynching,” when Rahul Kapoor, a social activist from Delhi firmly held this message in his hand while protesting at Jantar Mantar against the mob lynching of Tabrez Ansari in Jharkhand, little did he know that such an identity-based counter-narrative as a form of protest against hate crimes would resonate so much with the masses that it would be seen and shared by millions on social media for the next few days.

This led to the foundation of the #IndiaForALL campaign. Started by the activist, the campaign is now being carried forward by the people on social media. Several people have started sharing their own pictures with messages against hate crimes, communal violence and at the same time are also spreading the love by sharing messages of peace and communal harmony. “The #IndiaForAll campaign has a simple message that India belongs to people of all the religions and they should be able to live in the country with peace and harmony and without any fear,” says Rahul Kapoor.

Rahul Kapoor during a candlelight protest against mob lynching at Jantar Mantar

 

According to him, the #IndiaForALL campaign has two main aims:

  • To spread communal harmony and peace and fill the internet with messages of peace, love and unity
  • To demand a strong law against mob lynching and condemn communal violence in the name of Hinduism and Ram.
Messages from across the country pour in for #IndiaForAll

 

He also clearly specifies that the campaign is against all forms of communal violence and will use messages of communal harmony, peace and love to fight the narrative of hate being spread by radical forces irrespective of their religious allegiance. Till now, the campaign has received tremendous support and virality on the internet with people sharing unique and innovative messages to promote peace and communal harmony while many have also demanded a stringent law against mob lynching in India. Interestingly enough not everyone has stuck to their religious identity alone to counter the narrative of hate and have come up with their own unique messages. Check out some of the messages from the #IndiaForAll campaign which are getting viral on social media. The most touching of them all is the message from Abhishek who unfortunately lost both his legs in a major train accident two years back.

Link: https://hwnews.in/news/national-news/indiaforall-delhi-activist-leads-campaign-promoting-peace-communal-harmony/106685

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Godrej speaks up again: Intolerance, hate crime rampant, can hurt growth

Leading industrialist Adi Godrej, Chairman, Godrej Group, Saturday warned that rising intolerance, hate crimes and moral policing can “seriously damage” economic growth of the nation. He was speaking at a leadership summit to celebrate the 150th anniversary of his alma mater, St Xavier’s College.

Talking about India being among the fastest growing economies in the world and Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently announcing his vision of India becoming a $5-trillion economy, Godrej said, “But with the growth vision and dreams firing away, it’s not all a rosy picture as yet. One must not lose sight of the impoverishness that still massively plagues our nation, which can seriously damage the pace of growth going forward.”

“Unemployment is soaring at a four-decade high of 6.1%. It is a problem not only for India but a concern for most countries around the world. Rising intolerance, social instability, hate crimes, crimes against women, moral policing, caste and religion based violence and many other sorts of intolerance are all rampant,” he said.

Godrej also congratulated Modi for presenting a “grand vision” to build a new India and nearly double the economy to a $5-trillion giant over the course of his second term in office.

Godrej was the first leading voice in India Inc to speak out during Modi’s first term. In an interview to The Indian Express on May 12, 2016, he had pointed out that beef ban and prohibition in certain states were hurting the economy. “Some of the things are affecting growth, for example, the ban on beef in some states. Because what do you do with all these extra cows? It is also affecting business, because this was a good source of income for many farmers. So it’s a negative,” he had said.

“Prohibition is bad for the economy. It’s bad for social structure, for drinking doesn’t reduce. It gives rise to bad liquor, and then mafia. All over the world, it has been unsuccessful. In America, it has been unsuccessful. In India, we tried prohibition, but we were unsuccessful,” he had said.

On Saturday, Godrej said chronic water and air pollution, indiscriminate industrialisation, water crisis, growing use of environment-damaging plastics and crippling medical facilities due to the country’s healthcare spend being the lowest among its emerging market peers are among the other issues that need to be tackled on a war footing.

Former Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia said it was important to resolve the question on quality of official data, and this can only be solved by the government’s statistical system providing a credible answer. He was referring to the recent controversy over former CEA Arvind Subramanian’s research paper last month mentioning that India’s growth rate between 2011-12 and 2016-17 was overestimated.

“Inclusiveness must include benefits that go to the generations of the future,” he said. “During the UPA regime, in the first seven years, the average growth rate was about 8.5%… In its last three years, it did slow down. World also slowed down, but we slowed down more than the world did. Nevertheless, the economy grew at 7.5%. Within this period, the data clearly showed, the quality had gone down dramatically. We didn’t go as good as we wanted to in delivering quality basic services. The number of children in schools increased, the number of years they spent in school increased, but the learning levels weren’t improved,” Ahluwalia said.

 

Link: https://indianexpress.com/article/business/economy/godrej-speaks-up-again-intolerance-hate-crime-rampant-can-hurt-growth-5828345/

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Twitter Spat Breaks Out Between Mazumdar-Shaw, Mohandas Pai Over Godrej’s ‘Hate Crime’ Comment

A spat broke out on Twitter between Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw and Mohandas Pai over Adi Godrej’s comment that rising intolerance, hate crimes and moral policing can “seriously damage” India’s economic growth.

Mazumdar-Shaw, founder and chairperson of Biocon Ltd., retweeted a news report and called Godrej group head’s comment “well-spoken”. Pai, former chief financial officer of Infosys Ltd. who now runs a venture fund, took exception. He tweeted that she is falling into the “trap of fake narrative” and advised her to instead rely on India’s GDP growth track record. Pai also slammed NDTV and India Today for presenting a “one-sided narrative” by sharing Godrej’s comment. To be sure, the two news portals had published a Press Trust of India report that was also carried by other websites and newspapers.

NDTV and India Today have yet to respond to BloombergQuint’s queries.

Godrej, addressing a gathering to celebrate the 150th anniversary of his alma mater St Xavier’s College in Mumbai, had congratulated Prime Minister Narendra Modi for presenting a “grand vision” to build a new India and nearly double the economy to a $5 trillion. But he also said that it’s not all a rosy picture now. “One must not lose sight of the massive impoverishedness plaguing our nation which can seriously damage the pace of growth going forward and prevent us from realising our potential.” Pai, however, tweeted that business leaders should not create “unnecessary negativism” by “abusing India”, to which Mazumdar-Shaw replied that “we should not be in denial” and that Pai was being “unfair”.

Read more at: https://www.bloombergquint.com/business/twitter-spat-breaks-out-between-mazumdar-shaw-mohandas-pai-over-godrejs-hate-crime-comment
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Indian activists launch helpline for hate crimes victims

The initiative started in 100 cities following rise in mob attacks by Hindu far-right groups especially against Muslims.

by

New Delhi, India – Activists in India have launched a helpline for the victims of hate crimes and mob attacks aimed at documenting such cases and providing legal aid to victims.

United Against Hate (UAH), a group of activists and civil society members from across India, said the initiative was required as India‘s federal and state governments failed to prevent such incidents.

“We are launching a toll-free helpline 1800-3133-60000 in view of rising cases of mob attacks and hate crimes in the country,” said activist Nadeem Khan at the event in the capital New Delhi, adding that the helpline would work round the clock.

UAH says its activists will work in nearly 100 Indian cities to provide help to the victims of hate crimes, the majority of them Muslims, who comprise 14 percent of India’s 1.3 billion population.

“We will try to help the victims of such assaults and help them get justice in courts,” said Khan. “The state and central governments have only made statements on such incidents. Despite all the claims of the government, the assaults have not stopped.”

Lawyers, social workers, professors, journalists and religious leaders present at the event said there was a “dire need” of such an initiative.

Apoorvanand, a professor at Delhi University, said people were being targeted by Hindu right-wing mobs only because they were either Muslims, Dalits (the former untouchables) or Christians.

“It is the sad reality of India today. We cannot close our eyes from this reality,” he said.

Emboldened Hindu right-wing

While hate crimes against India’s minorities spiked after Prime Minister Narendra Modiand his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) came to power in 2014, experts say his re-election in May has emboldened the Hindu right-wing agenda.

Dozens of Muslims and Dalits have been attacked, even publicly lynched, by far-right mobs for allegedly possessing beef or slaughtering cows, considered holy by most Hindus.

However, since the BJP’s return to power in May a number of Muslims have been attacked and forced to chant “Jai Shri Ram” (Hail Lord Ram), which has become a rallying call for the Hindu far right.

In many cases, Muslims seemed to have been beaten simply for their faith in many parts of India.

On June 20, Mohammad Shahrukh Haldar was travelling to a madrassa (religious school) when a group of men carrying saffron flags boarded the train in Kolkata city.

Haldar, who sported a beard and was wearing the traditional kurta-pyjama and a skull cap, said a man from the group asked him to chant “Jai Shri Ram”.

“The others joined him and they all insisted that I chant with them. When I refused, they started beating me,” the 20 year old told Al Jazeera.

While no fellow passenger came to his rescue, Haldar rushed towards the exit door to escape the mob, but he was pushed out of the moving train.

“I thank God that I fell on the platform and survived,” he said.

Though Haldar has lodged a police complaint against his attackers, he fears more attacks and his family has stopped him from going out.

“I don’t go to the madrassa any more to teach. The incident has left me so traumatised that I don’t even want to travel in a train again,” he said.

Only days before Haldar was attacked, 24-year-old Tabrez Ansari was tied to an electric pole and brutally beaten by a mob on suspicion of theft in Kharsawan district in the eastern state of Jharkhand.

Mobile phone videos, which went viral on social media, showed a bruised and bloodied Ansari being forced to chant “Jai Shri Ram” and “Jai Hanuman” (Hanuman is one of the Hindu gods).

Four days after the incident and after much outrage, police on June 22 took Ansari to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead shortly after his arrival.

“Because he was a Muslim, he was beaten so brutally,” Ansari’s wife Shaista told the NDTV network.

The lynching of Ansari caused widespread uproar with people taking to streets in many Indian cities and demanding an end to what they called the “lynch terror”.

But the hate attacks have continued.

On June 28, a Muslim youth wearing a skull cap was beaten and abused in Uttar Pradesh state’s Kanpur city after he refused to chant “Jai Shri Ram”.

On Sunday, 12 men were booked for pulling the beard of a Muslim scholar and forcing him to chant the same slogan in Muzaffarnagar district in the BJP-ruled state of Uttar Pradesh.

According to factchecker.in website, which monitors hate crimes, at least 18 such incidents have taken place in India so far this year.

Al Jazeera could not reach spokespeople from the ruling BJP for a comment, despite repeated attempts.

‘Helpline shows failure of state’

Last month, the United States released a report on international religious freedoms that said the Hindu right has “facilitated an egregious and ongoing campaign of violence, intimidation and harassment against non-Hindu and lower-caste Hindu minorities”.

India rejected the report, saying it saw “no locus standi (legal right) for a foreign government to pronounce on the state of our citizens’ constitutionally protected rights”.

In 2018, India’s Supreme Court had condemned the “horrendous acts” of mob violence and asked the government to enact a new law to deal with mob lynchings.

While dozens of people have been killed and hundreds injured since 2014 in mob attacks, there have been convictions in only a handful of cases.

Speaking at the New Delhi event, Maulana Hakeemuddin of Jamaat-e-Islami Hind, an Islamic organisation, said the “one nation, one culture” ideology propagated by the Hindu right is behind the rise in hate crimes.

“India is a multicultural country and everyone has an equal right to live and practise his religion freely,” he said. “If these incidents are not stopped, they will lead to anarchy. They can be stopped, but that requires political will, which the ruling dispensation lacks.”

Activists, however, hope the launch of a helpline will help the victims to access legal recourse.

Ghazala Jamil, who teaches at Jawaharlal Nehru University, said the helpline was a civil society initiative and was “ultimately limited because it cannot be as effective as the state machinery”.

“But the establishment of this helpline shows that the state has failed utterly in saving its citizens,” she said.

 

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/07/indian-activists-launch-helpline-hate-crimes-victims-190715190744157.html

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Rising Intolerance, Hate Crimes Can “Seriously Damage” Growth: Adi Godrej

Noting that many issues must be fixed at a fundamental level, Adi Godrej warned that without doing so, the country cannot achieve her true growth potential.

MUMBAI: Noted industrialist Adi Godrej Saturday warned that the rising intolerance, hate crimes and moral policing can “seriously damage” economic growth of the nation.

Adi Godrej, however, congratulated Prime Minister Narendra Modi for presenting a “grand vision” to build a new India and nearly double economy to a $5 trillion giant over the course of his second term in office.

He was quick to add that all is not well in the country and pointed out a slew of concerns on the social front, warning of their impact on growth as well.

“It’s not all a rosy picture now. One must not lose sight of the massive impoverishness plaguing our nation which can seriously damage the pace of growth going forward and prevent us from realising our potential,” Mr Godrej warned while addressing a gathering to celebrate the 150th anniversary of his alma mater St Xavier’s College.

The industrialist further warned that economic growth will be impacted if “rising intolerance, social instability, hate-crimes, violence against women, moral policing, caste and religion based violence and many other sorts of intolerance that are rampant across the country,” are not contained to ensure social harmony.

He said unemployment is at 6.1 percent, a four-decade high, and needs to be tackled at the earliest.

The “massive” water crisis, growing use of environment-damaging plastics and the crippling medical facilities, courtesy the country’s healthcare spend is the lowest among its emerging market peers, are some of the other issues that need to be tackled on a war footing, he said.

Noting that many issues must be fixed at a fundamental level, he warned that without doing so, the country cannot achieve her true growth potential.

The remarks come amid a continuing spate of hate crimes like mob-lynching in the name cow or in the name of religion being reported from many parts of the country, including from a Mumbai suburb where a Muslim cab driver was recently beaten up and asked to chant “Jai Shri Ram”.

Mr Godrej congratulated the prime minister for unveiling a vision to create a new India where “we dont live in fear and suspicion and can trust the political leadership for being accountable”.

But he was quick to add that things on the ground are taking time to change when it comes to accountability, but exuded confidence that the many measures initiated will lead to significant changes in the times of come.

Exhorting the students not to shy from leadership, he reminded them that leadership is about telling the truth without worrying whether it is popular or not.

He also urged them to be compassionate and empathetic and at the same time level-headed.

 

Reference: https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/adi-godrej-rising-intolerance-hate-crimes-can-seriously-damage-growth-2068996

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Blunt talk needed in country today, Infosys co-founder Narayana Murthy says, citing his spat with Sikka

Infosys co-founder Narayana Murthy said on Saturday that looking at “what is happening in different parts of the country today”, the youth need to state bluntly that this was not the country for which our forefathers got freedom.

Talking about his spat with Vishal Sikka, Infosys’ first non-promoter chief executive who quit in 2017, he said he had to speak up when he saw core values of the IT giant being thrown into the “dustbin“.

Speaking at a panel discussion at St Xavier’s College here, Murthy referred to Sikka’s confrontation with him and other promoters, without naming him, when asked about the concerns he had expressed about the way Infosys was being led after his retirement.

“There was not a single word in public that I have spoken about the business strategy or the actions of the executive,” Murthy said.

Read more: CEOs, independent directors hold key to good corporate governance: Narayana Murthy

“However, when the question of value systems we had built for over 33 years making huge sacrifices (came up), when you see those value systems being thrown to dustbin, then automatically the leaders in our society and country have to stand up and express their anguish and disappointment,” he said.

“Otherwise we would have allowed those mistakes to continue. (In) 2014 CEO (Sikka) was given 55 per cent hike on (salary of) 7 million USD….COO (then Chief Operating Officer Pravin Rao) was given 30 per cent hike. No middle-level fellow was given any salary increase,” he said.

“Security guards (were) told to work an extra day without increase in salary or overtime. I think that is a serious violation of values,” he added.

“Therefore, if somebody like me who built the company from scratch with the help of six junior colleagues, if I don’t stand up for the erosion of the value systems, then I would have failed in our duty singularly,” Murthy added.

If the core values of Infosys such as “leadership by example, fairness, transparency, accountability” were “thrown to the dust, then you have to stand up and voice your anguish and disappointment”, he stated.

Sikka quit in 2017 after almost a year of public dispute with Murthy and other promoter shareholders.

Murthy further made the point that Indians generally tend not to “displease” anybody even when it is needed.

“If you look at what is happening in different parts of the country today, it is time that we, especially the youth, stood up and say this is not the kind of the country our forefathers had got the freedom for.

“But how many of us are doing it? Nobody is doing it, sadly. That’s the reason why this country is in this state that it is. Nobody wants to displease anybody by saying what is wrong,” he added.

 

Reference: https://www.thehindubusinessline.com/info-tech/blunt-talk-needed-in-country-today-infosys-co-founder-narayana-murthy-says-citing-his-spat-with-sikka/article28422537.ece

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Rising Hate-Crimes, Intolerance To Seriously Damage Growth, Says Adi Godrej

Noted industrialist Adi Godrej warned that rising intolerance, hate crimes and moral policing can “seriously damage” economic growth of the nation. Godrej, however, congratulated Prime Minister Narendra Modi for presenting a “grand vision” to build a new India and nearly double the economy to a $5-trillion giant over the course of his second term in office.

He was quick to add that all is not well in the country and pointed out a slew of concerns on the social front, warning of their impact on growth as well.

“It’s not all a rosy picture now. One must not lose sight of the massive impoverishedness plaguing our nation which can seriously damage the pace of growth going forward and prevent us from realising our potential.”

-Adi Godrej, Chairman, Godrej

Godrej, while addressing a gathering to celebrate the 150th anniversary of his alma mater St Xavier’s College in Mumbai, further warned that economic growth will be impacted if “rising intolerance, social instability, hate-crimes, violence against women, moral policing, caste and religion-based violence and many other sorts of intolerance rampant across the country” are not contained to ensure social harmony. He said unemployment is at 6.1 percent, a four-decade high, and needs to be tackled at the earliest.

Read more at: https://www.bloombergquint.com/politics/rising-hate-crimes-intolerance-to-seriously-damage-growth-says-adi-godrej
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United Nations Seeks Report On Tabrez Ansari Lynching From India

United Nations Seeks Report On Tabrez Ansari Lynching From India

As mob lynching and hate crimes against Muslims and Dalits in India got highlighted at UNSC, UNHRC takes cognizance on report of Tabrez Ansari’s lynching.

Kolkata: Within days of Center of Africa Development and Progress (CADP), a non-governmental organization (NGO) which enjoys a special consultative status with the United Nation’s Economic and Social Council Civil Society Network, highlighting the lynching of Tabrez Ansari and raising concern about mob lynching in India, during the General Session of the UN Human Rights Council on July 1, Delhi-based journalist-turned-social activist, Saket Gokhale received an email from the UN seeking all the details related to Tabrez Ansari’s lynching case for a better understanding.

The email from UN’s headquarter in Geneva came in response to a report that Gokhale had filed with the office of the UN’s High Commissioner of Human Rights in the month of June.

Speaking to eNewsroom, Gokhale said, “I am glad that the UN has taken cognizance of my report on the lynching of Tabrez Ansari in Jharkhand. I had filed this report almost 10 days back, with the hope that the UN would take notice.” On being asked if it was because of his report that Paul Newmman Kumar Stanisclavas, representing CADP had raised the issue at the UN, he said, “I guess so. For I had filed the report towards the end of June and the issue was raised on July 1, following which I received the email from the UN.”

Explaining as to, why he had filed the report on Tabrez’s case and not of any other mob lynching case, he shared, “I couldn’t file a report on the total number of lynching cases that have taken place in India so far, as the template that the UNHRC offers demands only a single case to narrated in a detailed way. Since Tabrez’s case is the most recent case and the police definitely had a role in his death made me go for this case.” Then elaborating on the same, he said, “In this particular case, there is a proof (viral video) that clearly establishes his lynching as a hate crime. Tabrez, who has been accused of theft, was made to chant Jai Sri Ram while being brutally assaulted. Secondly, he was in police custody for four days before he breathed his last. Here the police, which is part of the state machinery failed to provide the necessary medical treatment to a man who had been lynched. Also, interestingly, the police first filed the FIR for the bike theft, while they filed the lynching case two days later. Why? Didn’t the lynching take place on the same day as that of the alleged theft?”

Saket.jpg

Explaining his reason for approaching the UN, he shared, “The fact that the PM chooses to break his silence on Tabrez’s case after 10 days with a statement that is not reassuring for the minority or an MP garlanding those accused of lynching or the accused getting government jobs in some ways suggests that these unknown faces that comprise the lynch mob enjoys the impunity of the state. It has also been observed that in almost, the FIR and charge sheet filed by police have many loopholes, which makes it easier for the defence lawyer to have their clients released.”

He admitted that the move was to create international pressure on the Indian government to put a check on mob lynching of minorities in India. “Human Rights is not just a constitutional right but an international right. India is one of the signatories of the Geneva Convention and is bound to safeguard the rights of minorities. Also, our PM prefers international voices over the voices of the opposition. Hence, I chose this route for creating pressure. It’s high time that internationally people get to know what’s happening in India. About time for the ministers supporting lynch mobs get their visas banned.”

On his association with the grand old party – Indian National Congress and if it had any role in his writing to the UN, Gokhle made it clear, “I am not on the payroll of INC. I don’t take orders from any political party. Yes, I do see it as a secular alternative to the present government. But most of my research and human right activities are individual initiative. I was disturbed by the increasing frequency of lynching. Post-election, lynching is taking place on a daily basis in India.”

 

 

https://www.newsclick.in/united-nations-report-tabrez-ansari-lynching-india

 

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India needs a Shanti Sena to fight for the foundational values of the republic

If we take stock of the performance of the Indian government in the last five years, it fails on many counts. Reckless measures such as demonetisation have seriously impacted the economy. Our credibility in international politics has received a severe drubbing. But the singular characteristic of the Narendra Modi regime has been its direct assault on the very identity of the Indian republic.

Profoundly shaped by the movement for Independence, the modern Indian identity transcended the European definition of a nation in monolithic terms of race, religion, culture and language. India was simply the sum of its peoples. One is reminded of the evocative definition of desam or a nation by the Andhra social reformer and pioneering writer, Gurajada Apparao. Gurajada’s declamation in a 1910 poem is common currency in Telugu: “Desamante matti kadoyi/ desamante manushuloyi.” Translated, it prosaically reads as “A nation is not its land/A nation is its people”.

Partition severely tested and wounded this formulation of our nationhood. But over the decades, India has largely avoided the narrowness of monolithic nationalism that has plagued many post-colonial societies. During the struggle for freedom, Hindutva held itself aloof from this worldview. It has bided its time and now seeks to radically reshape what it means to be an Indian. In the past few years, brazen attacks have been unleashed on Dalits, Muslims and other minorities. A climate of fear and terror has been created by measures centred around the National Register of Citizens in Assam and the wanton lynching of Muslims across the country. But let there be no doubt that it is the inexorable logic of any toxic ideology to encompass more people into an ever-expanding circle of hate.

In the face of a bruising attack on India’s secular constitutional identity, the opposition parties have been found to be utterly wanting. Most of them have shown little interest in challenging the construction of an aggressive political Hinduism that defines itself by demonising everyone else. With national elections underway, many people have reposed their hopes in a defeat of the present regime. This seems to be wishful thinking at best. One of the durable transformations effected in the last few years is the normalisation of falsehood and bigotry and the steady undermining of a number of institutions. The legacy of such shifts in the public realm is not going to disappear with a change in the political regime.

Throughout the late colonial period, Indian life was punctuated by riots. Like today, during that period there were individuals who recognised the value of social harmony and were willing to sacrifice their lives in the cause of Hindu-Muslim amity. For instance, the indefatigable editor of the Kanpur newspaper, Pratap, Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi, was murdered in 1931 while trying to intervene during deadly riots. The most famous of such individuals is Mahatma Gandhi.

Throughout his life, Gandhi demonstrated a most capacious understanding of humanity which accorded respect and dignity to all. The last years of his life were spent in a lonely and heroic fight against the furies of communal violence as the dream of a non-violent and compassionate India dissolved in front of his eyes. Gandhi was, to a large extent, able to stanch the blood-letting with his quiet and determined action in challenging both Muslim and Hindu communalism in Noakhali and Calcutta. He then moved to Delhi and played a fundamental role in restoring a sense of belonging to a number of Muslim communities which were under siege in the aftermath of the killings in the newly-formed Pakistan. Eventually, he fell victim to the same ideology of hate that rules the country today.

As the civic activist Harsh Mander has pointed out, Gandhi had an endless capacity for radical love. But aside from acting out his personal beliefs, Gandhi recognised the need for both moral exemplars and grass roots organisation to propagate the values he desired to institutionalise in society.

Owing to the exigencies of the time, Gandhi could not work out his proposal. Subsequently, the idea of a Shanti Sena was taken up by Gandhian constructive workers. It achieved a measure of success in intervening in situations of communal riots as well as addressing political problems in places such as Nagaland and Cyprus. Eventually, owing to differences between Vinoba Bhave and Jayaprakash Narayan, the Shanti Sena exercise came to an end.

Irrespective of the electoral outcomes on May 23, India stands at a crossroads. The foundational values of India as a modern republic that accords equal respect, dignity and opportunity to every citizen are under extreme duress. Mounting an effective challenge to communalism is a task that needs both immediate attention and a long-term strategy. India needs a Shanti Sena for our times.

This article first appeared in the print edition on May 10, 2019, under the title ‘Soldiers for peace’. The writer is a biographer of the economic philosopher and constructive worker, J C Kumarappa and is currently working on a thematic history of Gandhi’s life and work in the 1930s. He is an associate professor at the Department of Electrical Engineering, Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru

 

Link: https://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/columns/lok-sabha-elections-narendra-modi-government-bjp-demonetisation-communal-tension-5719994/?pfrom=HP

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Hemant Karkare Was a Man of Honour. India Should Remember That While Voting: Julio Ribeiro

https://thewire.in/rights/hemant-karkare

Thakur’s motorcycle, registered with the Surat R.T.O, was found near the site of the blast. The explosives used to cause the blast had been planted on the motorcycle.

Taking off from this clue, the ATS traced the owner and found that she had been in constant touch with the other conspirators. Their meetings in Bhopal were established and they were arrested. Further circumstantial evidence, which is often better than direct evidence because oral testimony has been seen to wilt under clever cross-examination, was gathered to nail the accused.

The Sangh parivar soon rose in protest against the arrest, alleging that the ruling Congress party was behind this turn in the investigations. It is true that a bunch of known Muslim hotheads were first suspected and arrested. In fact, many observers of the terrorist scene, including this writer, initially thought that the perpetrators must have been Muslim extremists because they were the only ones till then, who were conversant with the use of explosives in terrorist crime.

The Congress leaders at the Centre and in the state had no problem at that stage accepting that the ATS had made a correct prognosis of the events. It was only after the real story emerged that these leaders began speaking of ‘Hindu’ terror and ‘saffron’ terror.

 

The allegation that the Congress government was influencing the ATS and Hemant Karkare is obviously an ill-conceived notion. In my entire service in the police force, I have not come across any case when such demands, overt or covert, were ever made by politicians to rope in their political opponents in such serious cases. No contemporaries of mine have ever hinted at such attempts at influencing them during investigations. The allegation is totally misconceived.

Further proof that the investigations were now on the rails is that two of the accused in the Ajmer blast case have been convicted though one of the main accused, Swami Aseemanand, was let off by the courts.

In the Malegaon case the NIA, which took up the investigation from the ATS of Maharashtra, tried hard to exonerate Sadhvi Pragya Thakur by trying to influence the public prosecutor Rohini Salian, and when that attempt failed, by moving the trial court for her discharge. The trial court would have nothing to do with this move and actually framed charges against her. She is facing trial in Mumbai for murder, conspiracy to murder and other heinous terrorist crimes.

Hemant Karkare was a man of honour. He was known in the Maharashtra police and even outside the state among central and state police forces as a man of honour. He has served in various districts of Maharashtra and was widely respected by both, the policemen of those districts and the public. Everyone had a good word to say about him.

I was particularly happy when his brother-in-law spoke up a few days ago to mention that he was a humane person and would never ever think of making a false case or torturing a woman like Pragya Thakur now alleges.

I say this of the brother-in-law because a day before Hemant was killed by Pakistan based terrorists on November 26, 2008, he met me in my office in search of a shoulder to lean on during a period of personal turmoil. He told me that he was greatly troubled because within his own family there were those who were disturbed by his findings and this had upset him in turn. On making inquiries I was told that his wife’s family had many active BJP sympathisers and that was the cause of his discomfort.

Also Read: I Am Waiting for the Right Moment to Strike. I Will Speak Up: Rohini Salian

Hemant was also bothered because L.K. Advani, the senior BJP patriarch, had come out openly in support of Pragya Thakur and had issued a public statement condemning the Maharashtra ATS and its leader. Hemant wanted me to study the papers and convince myself that he was doing nothing wrong or unethical! I told him that I believed him implicitly because I have known him and his reputation in the force as a man of total integrity.

I offered to speak to Advani as I had occasion to interact with the senior politician and found him to be reasonable to deal with. With regards to his family, which was obviously the bigger source of conflict in his mind, I advised him to follow the dictum of Lord Krishna as propounded to Arjuna on the battlefield of Kurukshetra: It was to do one’s duty and that was what I felt Hemant should proceed to do. His Oath to the Constitution required him to seek the truth and bring offenders to justice.

I have read the statements put out by different police leaders and the article written by S.S. Virk, an officer who has served with me in Punjab and who is thoroughly conversant with all aspects of terrorism. Virk had an extensive session with Hemant at a meeting in Delhi when Hemant recounted how he had uncovered an entire gang of extremists out to take revenge against some followers of Islam who had been causing death and mayhem in Mumbai and other parts of the country through the use of terror.

BJP candidate from Bhopal and Malegaon blast accused Pragya Thakur. Credit: PTI

Pragya’s group used to meet quite often to devise a plan of action as they were dissatisfied with the government’s response to jihadi terror. They felt that the only way of putting an end to the mayhem was to cause parallel mayhem of such intensity that it would generate second thoughts in the minds of the jihadists.

But as practitioners of terrorism, the jihadists had much more experience and could muster logistical support even from beyond our borders. Our homegrown terrorists of the majority community were amateurs in contrast. They were out for revenge but went about it rather ham-handedly. In fact, their initial experiments with explosives had injured many of their own supporters as the story revealed to Virk by Hemant shows.

I hope I have convinced my readers that Hemant Karkare was incapable of making a false case against anyone for that matter and certainly not against his own coreligionists. I now move to another aspect of the controversy. The BJP has put up Pragya Singh Thakur as its candidate for the Lok Sabha seat from Bhopal because she would then face Digvijay Singh, a leading Congress leader and former chief minister of Madhya Pradesh, who they claimed had coined the words ‘Hindu terror’.

 

The party felt that the electorate would then decide whether “Hindu terror’ was a reality or not. Digvijay Singh denies having used the words ‘Hindu terror’ and I am firmly of the view that such epithets denoting particular religions or communities should not be used. It denigrates the entire community or religion and other members of that community or religion are needlessly painted with the same brush as those minuscule sections which practice such atrocities.

I am not surprised that our prime minister himself is hurt by the use of this epithet for he certainly is not involved in terror. That is of course if you reject his definition of terror to include pogroms of the type experienced in Delhi in 1984. Because if his definition is upheld what happened in Gujarat in 2002 will also fall under the category of terror!

My Sikh friends in Punjab were unhappy with the words ‘Sikh’ terror. My Muslim friends in Mumbai were upset with the word ‘Islamic’ terror. Very few Sikhs were involved in terrorist activities and so also very few Muslims were involved. The great majority was only bothered about where the next meal was to come from!

Hence, I accept this objection of the prime minister and his colleagues to the use of the word ‘Hindu terror’ but I do not agree that it was necessary to put up an accused in a terror case as its candidate to disprove the epithet.

In fact, the choice of Pragya Thakur as the BJP candidate gives the public the impression that the party wants to flaunt its extremist wing and merge it into the mainstream of national politics, either to gain an acceptance for this wing in the public mind or in order to threaten the minority community of further repercussions beyond the ones they have already suffered in the five years from 2014.

After her nomination as a candidate, Pragya went to town showering curses on a dead man and proclaiming that it was her curse that caused his death! This was the wildest and most unacceptable statement made by a candidate against a good and honourable man and should alert voters to the danger of electing an extremist with the power to cause death through curses as their representative in parliament.

Julio Rebeiro is a former police commissioner of Mumbai, DGP Gujarat, DGP Punjab, and the former Indian ambassador to Romania.

 

 

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Act Immediately on Hate Speeches, Supreme Court Tells Election Commission

The Supreme Court on Monday told the Election Commission to respond immediately to hate speeches after the poll panel said it was “toothless” and “powerless” when the model code of conduct was violated.

In a sharp jibe at the Election Commission counsel, Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi said: “This is something you are duty bound to do. You have to be prompt, you have to act immediately. You can’t drag it.”…

Taking up a petition filed by NRI Harpreet Mansukhani, the bench sought to know from advocate Amit Sharma, appearing for the EC, regarding the nature of action that shall be initiated against the politicians for alleged hate speeches or statements seeking votes on the basis of religion or caste.…

https://www.business-standard.com/article/news-ians/act-immediately-sc-tells-ec-on-hate-speeches-119041500676_1.html

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Pro-democracy rally decries Hindutva, anti-minority violence

A host of community organizations, including Sadhana: Coalition of Progressive Hindus, staged a pro-democracy rally in front of the New York Indian Consulate April 6 to draw attention to the recent “repression of democratic dissent and human rights” in India.

Sunita Viswanath, Sadhana cofounder, said the Americans of Hindu faith, many of them Indians stand opposed to the ideology of Hindutva and the atrocities against minorities and dissenters being committed in the name of Hinduism.

“We stand with all the people of India who are calling for an end to this regime that threatens democracy, disregards the dignity and safety of minorities, and has declared war on the poor,” Viswanath, a Brooklyn native said at the rally. A few dozen protesters held placards with messages that decried Prime Minster Modi’s government for alleged violation of human rights and violence against minorities like Muslims and Dalits.

The rally took place in New York a week ahead of the general electionsin India, the first phase of which began April 11. Voting in the first of seven rounds is being held in 91 parliament constituencies across 20 states and Union Territories. There are 543 seats at stake.

Prime Minister Modi’s Bhartiya Janata Party has entered the election as the frontrunner, despite economic distress over mounting unemployment, and weak farm incomes in rural areas.

Viswanath said Sadhana opposes the growth of Hindutva and violent influence of right-wing groups like the RSS and VHP. “We consider it our dharma to speak out against the atrocities that are taking place in India in the name of our faith. Sadhana injects a progressive Hindu voice into this discourse,” she said.

The other co-sponsors of the rally were Aazaad Lab, Alliance for a Democratic and Secular South Asia, Aam Aadmi Party New Jersey, Coalition for the Defense of the Constitution and Democracy, Coalition for a Democratic India, Dalit Solidarity Forum (DSF), Free Saibaba Coalition–US, Indian American Muslim Council, India Civil Watch, Indian Bahujan Organization (IBO), International Action Center (IAC). NRISAD, NY Global Standout Group, NYC India-Pakistan Peace Group and Organization for Minorities of India (OFMI).

Sadhana member Shashank Rao told the rally that in the wake of continued violence against Dalit, Adivasi, Muslim, and other minority communities in India, it is important to decry these atrocities and reaffirm the diverse and syncretic cultures of India.

“Though I was born in the United States, I still hold India close to my heart. In fighting the threat of Hindutva nationalism on all of the communities here, let us remember India as the home of saints like Santa Shishunala Sharif, who taught us to prize friendship and deep learning between religious traditions and great leaders like B.R. Ambedkar who inspired us to fight against all systems of oppression,” Rao said.

“To uphold this memory of India is to refuse the cause of Hindutva, to deny hatred into our hearts, and to further the cause for a democratic, diverse nation that many our families and communities call home.”

 

Link: https://www.indiaabroad.com/indian-americans/pro-democracy-rally-decries-hindutva-anti-minority-violence/article_ca21e0f2-5cdf-11e9-8c60-cb4d5610ad1b.html

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Fight RSS ideology that is trying to divide India: Mahatma Gandhi’s grandson

By Gopal Kateshiya

Stating that Gandhians’ only loyalty can be towards the India envisioned by Mahatma Gandhi, his great-grandson Tushar Gandhi on Thursday called for fighting the ideology of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), which he said was trying to divide India.

“Main sanghiyon se nafrat nahin karta. Lekin sangh se mera virodh hain… us vichar se mera virodh he jo is deskh ko baatta fir raha hain… Dusaron ne nahi kiya aisa me nahi keh raha hun. Hum unka bhi virodh karte hain. Virodh karna hoga varna hum Gandhi ke karyakarta hi kehne ke layak nahi rahenge (I do note hate the RSS functionaries. But I oppose RSS… that idea, which is dividing the country… I do not say that others have not done this. We oppose them as well. We will have to protest, otherwise we don’t deserve to be called Gandhi’s workers),” he said.

He added that Gandhians will have to play their role in protecting the democracy. “People will come and go. Symbols do not scare me because we are a strong democracy. We had even sent (former Prime Minister) Indira Gandhi home when she had set out to become a dictator. That strength is not dead even today. But the idea underpinning that strength has weakened. We will have to make it strong,” he said.

Tushar alleged the RSS, a right-wing organisation whose headquarters is in Nagpur, was behind Mahatma’s murder. “In my book Let’s Kill Gandhi, I have exposed the allegations that Nathuram Godse had levelled against Mahatma to assassinate him and which Sangh even today is trying propagate. They need to be countered. In my every speech, I say that while Godse might have been Bapu’s assassin, the assassination was ordered by the RSS,” he said.

Tushar called for revitalisation of Gandhian institutes by enrolling youth as volunteers to take forward the work of the Father of the Nation. “We will also have to think how we are wasting the year of 150th birth anniversaries of Ba and Bapu,” he said

Tushar said history has not given Kasturba — born on April 11, 1869, around six months before Gandhi — her due place by recognising her as merely Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi’s wife. “We are gradually forgetting what Kasturba stood for. My parents wrote her biography. I have objections as they wrote the biography of Gandhi’s wife, not Kastur. She died in custody after she was jailed for reading out Gandhi’s speech during Quit Indian Movement in 1942 and thus attained martyrdom. She was a martyr, but we have never recognised her as one. Not because government has not done anything but because Gandhians have remained Mohanwadi only.”

A rally from Shree Patel Vidyarthi Ashram to Kasturba’s home was also taken out in the evening and held a prayer meeting at Kirti Mandir, the birthplace of Mahatma Gandhi. The event was organised by Gandhian institutes – Gujarat Lok Samiti, Sarva Seva Sangh, Sarvodaya Samaj and Sevagram Ashram, Wardha.

Addressing the gathering earlier, historian Narottam Palan also alleged that Gandhians has veered off their path and therefore lost their influence in the society, calling for soul-searching among those associated with Gandhian institutes.

 

Link: https://indianexpress.com/article/india/rss-ideology-divide-india-mahatma-gandhi-grandson-tushar-gandhi-5671453/?fbclid=IwAR0hc0wNl21_IP2ZP1fVLyuI_CwN3ORrHo2OfQeRys9L1r0QHR5eL_g6ors

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Women for Theatre appeal to vote out the current right-wing regime

On April 4, hundreds of women joined the Women March for Change in multiple cities across India. Lawyers, farmers, transgender people, activists, and students amongst others came together against the “current environment of hate and violence”. In solidarity with the march, Women for Theatre, India, released a statement to make it known that they “strongly oppose the communal and sectarian administration this country has witnessed since the BJP-led government came to power in 2014. They observed that “[t]he loss of innocent lives due to religious and caste based violence, and the rampant abuse of civil liberties experienced in the last five years is unprecedented. This threat, if left unchecked, will irreversibly damage the fabric of our polity and society…the overtly communal and hate filled agenda that prevails now has affected women across the country disproportionately.”

The statement has been signed by over 250 prominent women artists, theatre makers, actors, curators, dancers, singers and students of art from various parts of the country.

The statement said: “Since 2014, we have witnessed a complete failure of governance. While data for unemployment, agrarian poverty, caste based inequalities and injustice, has breached past lows, government PR machineries are working overtime and spending our money to conceal this information from the public eye. We are not fooled by the glitz of the advertisements of the supposedly pro-women policies and campaigns of the Government – Selfie with Daughter, Beti Bachao-Beti Padhao, Ujjwala Yojana, etc., while several Adivasi, Dalit, Muslim and Trans-women have been systematically violated and deprived of their basic needs.”

The statement drew attention to the grave and persistent threat that educational and cultural institutions are under. “Women students, writers, activist and teachers have been attacked, assaulted and even killed by the state supported saffron forces.” It also comments on the irony of the ‘chowkidaar’ campaign as streets still remain unsafe for women. “The empty rhetoric of this government’s slogans are wearing thin now. The unjust disenfranchisement of women voters and their absence from the voters list, as pointed out by the memorandum presented to the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) by Women’s organisations, is not only deeply distressing but an outright assault on our democratic and equal rights as citizens of this country,” they said.

“Women in the arts have historically played a significant role in making and preserving the values of our constitution” and in “championing a society based on equity and inclusion”. They added that “we have fought for rights and stood in solidarity with the marginalised sections of society.” For many among them even “the very act of standing on stage, taking to the streets, singing and dancing is an act of protest, of claiming our rightful space in society. Today they perceive that this site and “the space to live, eat, pray, speak and express as we wish” is being threatened.

The statement calls upon women citizens to save at whatever cost “this shrinking space for dissent, for freedom, for existing/existence” and to “vote out the current right-wing regime and rebuild our country as the secular democratic republic that we have always envisioned”. It is open for endorsement until April 10, the day before the first phase of polling begins.

 

Link: https://indianculturalforum.in/2019/04/09/women-for-theatre-appeal-to-vote-out-the-current-right-wing-regime/

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Sixty-six former civil servants write to President Kovind on EC functioning

BY Abantika Ghosh |

Sixty-six former civil servants have written to President Ram Nath Kovind expressing their concerns over the functioning of the Election Commission of India, and listing alleged violations of the model code of conduct that the ECI failed to deal with effectively.

The officers, including former IPS officer Julio Ribeiro, former foreign secretary Shiv Shankar Menon and former Delhi L-G Najeeb Jung, wrote: “The ECI’s independence, fairness, impartiality and efficiency are perceived to be compromised today, thereby endangering the integrity of the electoral process which is the very foundation of Indian democracy. We are distressed to note the misuse, abuse and blatant disregard of the Model Code of Conduct (MCC) by the ruling party at the Centre, and the ECI’s pusillanimity in coming down with a heavy hand on these violations.” Also among the signatories are former TRAI chairman Rahul Khullar, former health secretary Keshav Desiraju, former Prasar Bharati CEO Jawhar Sircar and former IPS officer Meeran Borwankar.

The group had earlier written to the ECI asking the commission to put on hold upcoming biopics of political personalities and expressed dismay that the PM biopic was being allowed to release.

 

Link: https://indianexpress.com/elections/sixty-six-former-civil-servants-write-to-president-kovind-on-ec-functioning-5665890/

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Karwan e Mohabbat’s journey of solidarity through a wounded India

Karwan e Mohabbat’s journey of solidarity through a wounded India

KARWAN E MOHABBAT·THURSDAY, JANUARY 31, 2019

Battle for the Idea of India | #Tathya with Harsh Mander

"This is the battle for the idea of India, where it does not matter which God you worship, which language you speak… there is no conditionality to belong and to belong equally." ~ @harsh_mander in a powerful, evocative new episode of #Tathya

Posted by Karwan e Mohabbat on Monday, March 4, 2019

There is an evil stalking our land, of hate and fear engineered by cynical politics. As lynchings threaten to grow into a national epidemic, minority communities are learning to endure an intense sense of foreboding – a lurking, unnamed, unspoken fear. This is not simply the apprehension of discrimination, it is the danger of imminent violence, of being vulnerable to attack anywhere – on a public road, in a bus or train, in a marketplace, even in their homes.

How culpable are we when our brothers and sisters are burned and lynched and we stand by? We need to interrogate the reasons for our silences, for our failures to speak out, and to intervene, when murderous hate is unleashed on innocent lives. We need our conscience to ache. We need it to be burdened intolerably.

To speak to our collective silences, the Karwan e Mohabbat — a Caravan of Love — has been crafted as a journey of atonement, solidarity, conscience and justice. The journey started in September 2017, the Karwan travelled to 8 states, meeting families hit by hate violence. It set out from Nagaon in Assam on 4 September 2017 and concluded its travels on 2 October 2017 in Porbandar, a small coastal town in Gujarat where Mohandas Gandhi was born 148 years ago.

During its travels, the Karwan bore witness to such intense and pervasive suffering and fear fashioned by hate violence, and such extensive state hostility to its most vulnerable citizens, that we resolved that the Karwan of love must continue its journey. Every month we travel to a new state, meeting families whose lives have been wrecked by violence and threatened by the impunity of the perpetrators.

The members of the Karwan have resolved to chronicle — through books, films, photo exhibitions and public talks — the rise of hate and fear that we bore witness to during the Karwan, and will continue to do so as we continue to travel during the coming months. In order to inform and appeal to our sisters and brothers across the country, to care, to speak out, and to resist. We feel this is imperative to inform, stir and appeal to the public conscience. To restore compassion and constitutional values to our country.

https://www.facebook.com/KarwaneMohabbat/

 

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Joint statement by visual artists in India against hate politics: An appeal to the people of India to save democracy

Joint statement by visual artists in India against hate politics

Joint statement by visual artists in India against hate politics

An appeal to the people of India to save democracy

April 8, 2019

Answering to the need of the hour visual artists from across the length and breadth of India have come together in one voice to give voice to their anguish at the current state of affairs and appeal to the public at large to vote for progressive, secular and egalitarian parties that are best placed to defeat BJP and its NDA allies in the upcoming general elections. Visual art has always taken a lead in shaping the narrative of the nation. Be it the iconic works by Abanindranath Tagore in the pre-independence era to the reformative works of parallel cinema, it has always taken a stand for the common good of the nation and never shied away from ushering changes in society. In that very same spirit, today, we as visual artists are taking a stand for saving the constitutional structure from the assault of fascist forces.

 

We stand at a critical juncture in our national history on the eve of a make or break election. The results will either take it forward towards our constitutional ideals or back to a brute majoritarian ideal of a so-called “nationalism”. We therefore make this impassioned appeal to our fellow citizens to save the soul of our nation from being permanently scarred by attempts to undermine our Constitution and assaults on what we hold most dear. In the last few years we have seen concerted attacks on freedom of expression, imposition of a theocratic state, unchecked mob-lynchings, state-sanctioned terror against the most vulnerable sections of society, and corporatisation of India’s national assets. The BJP-led government has created a pervasive atmosphere of fear and all-consuming hatred, which has infiltrated our homes. We believe that this sustained regressive agenda is to impose an intolerant, mono-culture and destroy our rich and diversified social fabric. We do not wish to see it a day more in office. This is thus an appeal to all thinking citizens to see through their subterfuge and vote for change.

When Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently claimed that not a single instance of “Hindu terror” could be found in the history of our country, he in a way admitted that the Bharatiya Janata Party considers itself to be an exclusive party for Hindus and their brand of Hindutva. He of course conveniently overlooked Nathuram Godse’s connection to the Hindu Mahasabha. Even if for a moment were we to believe that the BJP and its minions that form the Hindutva brigade can’t be held responsible for promoting the reign of terror and communal violence that has rocked the country in recent times, there are enough reasons for us to doubt those claims of innocence given the growing incidents of murders of those who oppose the attempt to stem the flow of their bigotry like Gauri Lankesh, Kalburgi, Pansare and Dabholkar.

It would be a Herculean task to list the wreckage caused by the current NDA government given its abject track record since 2014. It has miserably failed to deliver on any front except on optics. To begin with, we have had the colossal disaster of demonetization. While the move was meant to unearth black money, it continues to be in circulation as ever before, while the government has not deemed it necessary to account for the huge losses owing to the ill-conceived move. The legitimate demands of farmers have not been met, and they are being driven to suicide almost on a daily basis. Corruption has been rampant. The Rafale scam has exposed it at the highest level. Panama papers received no attention in spite of a significant Indian presence. Mehul Choksi, Vijay Mallya and Nirav Modi, among others, were allowed to flee the country, together with their loot.

State-owned institutions across a wide range of fields from HAL to ONGC and from BSNL to the finest of universities have suffered due to bad policies and undue interference. Unemployment is raging, incomes are stagnant, prices are rising, welfare schemes are dysfunctional, RTI laws have been diluted, labour issues have gone unaddressed, environmental laws have been grossly violated, and the list goes on. There has been rampant privatization while crony capitalism has been encouraged. The Prime Minister, meanwhile, spent a large part of his tenure pursuing dubious foreign policy initiatives, while more important core domestic issues that affect the poor and the disadvantaged were completely neglected.

The NDA government at the centre, and the governments that it has formed in various states, have attempted to cover up their failures by resorting to blatant lies, misinformation and cooked-up statistics. The central government has interfered with the functioning of autonomous institutions and constitutional bodies to further its self-interest and wield power, be it the RBI, the CBI, the ED or educational institutions. Even statistics are now not sacrosanct but are being conveniently changed to suit the narrative. There have even been attempts to interfere with the judiciary and emasculate and even manage the Election Commission.

The curriculums in schools and universities have been revised to promote Hindutva and key appointments to academic bodies and cultural institutions have been made disregarding norms, to fulfill the broad aims of the RSS. Those owing allegiance to the Hindutva brigade now are at the helm of key art and cultural institutions of the country. We artists condemn, in particular, the waste of public money on fancy cultural art projects and statues taken up by the BJP and its allies. These funds could have been far better utilized for more aesthetically appealing works of lasting significance.

The BJP has been quite vocal about its practices of misogyny, bigotry and Islamophobia and communal polarization is at an all-time peak. Violence based on caste prejudice is the new normal. Terms like love-jihad, gau hatyare, tukde-tukde gang or urban Naxals are coined to incite violence on any flimsy ground against Dalits, Muslims, intellectuals, social activists, artists, writers and vulnerable sections of society. And in almost all the cases the perpetrators of crime and violence have no fear of law and are allowed to go scot free. The concept of an ideal Indian woman being a passive actor with no agency is glorifed, while women are raped brazenly. Ordinances are brought in breach of established parliamentary norms to polarize the polity. Fake encounters are considered a part of normal policing. In a nutshell, the rule of law is dead.

We believe that the first step towards restoring our democratic traditions as envisioned by our forefathers is to vote out the current government lock, stock and barrel and usher in a new and inclusive government that respects democracy and secular values.

We therefore fervently request you to vote against the BJP, and vote strategically for whichever party stands the best chance of defeating the BJP in your region. On the day of voting, do keep a check on any violations of electoral laws. This is perhaps the most important election that India has ever faced. It is an opportunity to save our democratic polity, protect liberty and our secular tradition. This is the only chance we have. Use it wisely.


 

First published in Artist Unite.

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The Invisible Threat: The answer lies with you and me. Let’s defeat the fascist regime.

The Invisible Threat

 

The Invisible Threat

Damodar Mauzo

April 8, 2019

Image Courtesy: Navhind Times

“As a writer, I feel the need to speak out my mind; hence I have been voicing my concerns publicly, irrespective of the threats to my life…”

“The answer lies with you and me. Let’s defeat the fascist regime.”

The recently issued public statement by over 200 writers reflects the public perception of the threat to democracy that looms before us. I feel greatly distressed seeing the suppression of free voices in our country. Not long ago, the Tamil writer Perumal Murugan felt compelled to announce the death of Perumal as a writer following the brutal assault over his novel Madhorubhagan. Comrade Govind Pansare met his death because, in his book, he questioned the title Go-Brahman-Pratipalak bestowed upon Shivaji by the Brahmins. Earlier, the rationalist Narendra Dabholkar’s daylight murder shook the entire country. Profesor Kalburgi, with whom I had the privilege of working on the Vachana project, was killed by Hindutva terrorists because of his promulgation of Basava’s ideology of social equality. Yet another killing — of the firebrand journalist Gauri Lankesh — also sent shock waves among the people. I recall how Professor U.R. Ananthamurthy was also harassed for vociferously speaking out against right-wing extremism. We all know how Girish Karnad is being threatened by such faceless radicals.

Many more writers and journalists face a similar predicament. In a recent episode in Maharashtra, Nayantara Sehgal was invited to inaugurate a literary event, the Akhil Bharatiya Marathi Sahitya Sammelan. Even after this was announced in the media, she was unceremoniously asked not to attend. People know very well at whose instance this offensive step was taken.

As a writer, I feel the need to speak out my mind; hence I have been voicing my concerns publicly, irrespective of the threats to my life.

We are constantly told how our present Prime Minister has become an ‘international leader’ and how India has entered the global superpower bracket. I feel honoured to know that. But I would like to see these statements substantiated. When we ask for such claims to be justified, we are branded as anti-nationals. We all know that the demonetisation move was an awful failure. But people are afraid to talk openly against it. We have seen how the minorities are being harassed and lynched on the suspicion of cow slaughtering. But have we heard any of these Gomata-worshippers getting annoyed at the news of hundreds of cows dying in the cow shelters of UP because of negligence? Beef eating is banned by ‘popular demand’. This restrictive notion too is created selectively. I was in BJP-ruled Arunachal Pradesh recently, where the people freely eat beef and have unrestricted supply of the meat. The BJP has turned the beef-eating issue into a political and communal issue in places where it suits them. Has anybody asked about these double standards? The heads of our educational and art institutions have been kicked out callously and replaced by yes-men, to run the organizations by proxy. Autonomy is a forgotten word. Does anyone question? Can anyone ask how many terrorists were killed in the much-hyped surgical strike on the Balakot camp? Can we ask why the then Defence Minister Parrikar was side-lined when the Rafale deal was struck? I did exercise my freedom of voicing my concern over the destructive Sanatan forces present in my peaceful Goa. But the government paid no heed.

There was a time when votes were bought. Now they are buying elected representatives. Do we want this situation to continue? The answer lies with you and me. Let’s defeat the fascist regime.


Note: This is a part in a series of articles from writers who are deeply uneasy about the future of the country. They are each an appeal to citizens – discussing what in their view, is at stake as the General Elections draw nearer. 

Damodar Mauzo is a Konkani short story writer, novelist, critic and script writer based in Goa. He was awarded the Sahitya Akademi Award in 1983 for the novel Karmelin and the Vimala V. Pai Vishwa Konkani Sahitya Puraskar in 2011 for his novel Tsunami Simon.

Donate to the Indian Writers’ Forum, a public trust that belongs to all of us.

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UK Indian Diaspora Joins Intl ‘People’s Agenda 2019’ Protests, Hold Vigil Outside India House

London: Ignoring chilly cold weather in the cloudy and depressing Saturday afternoon, representatives of South Asian organisations in UK stood for more than two hours outside the Indian High Commission protesting against human rights violation in India.

 

Shouting slogans demanding Democracy, Human Rights and Justice and against Hindutva. . They held large photographs of Gauri Lankesh, Akhlaq and Rohith Vemula, all lynched or murdered by Hindutva gangs.

They slogans included, “Modi, Modi shame shame, no more killings in our names”; “Modi, Modi shame on you, no more rapes in our names”; “Who killed Asifa? RSS and BJP”; “Who killed Gauri Lankesh; RSS and BJP”; “Who killed Rohith Vemula? RSS and BJP”; “Gali gali meN chor haiN, Modi-Shah chor haiN”.

The vigil was organised by South Asia Solidarity Group, CasteWatch UK, SOAS India Society, Dr Ambedkar Memorial Committee GB and Ambedkar International Mission

A joint press release issued by these groups said:

“India’s general election is due to begin on 11 April, in an atmosphere which causes us deep concern.

“We are holding this protest and vigil as part of a global day of action with a similar protest taking place in New York and in solidarity with the massive People’s Agenda 2019 event taking place in Delhi today. We strongly support the following demands which are being voiced by those in India who are bravely standing up for democracy, human rights and the Constitution:

“On Mob Lynching and RSS-sponsored terror

Ensure justice for the victims and survivors of lynch mobs, and that all those who perpetrate and incite mob lynchings, caste, communal and ethnic massacres and rapes, and extra-judicial killings are arrested and prosecuted.

“Enact The Communal Violence (Prevention, Control and Rehabilitation of Victims) law;

“Enact a law against discrimination, hate crimes and atrocities against religious, ethnic and racial minorities;

“Scrap all ‘cow protection’ and ‘anti-conversion’ laws;

“Enact a law for protection of inter-caste, inter-faith and same-gotra couples;

“Set up a Task Force specifically to counter and dismantle communal and far-right terror groups; bring the perpetrators of assassinations of dissenters and journalists to justice

On Bhima Koregaon

“Immediately arrest and prosecute Milind Ekbote, Sambhaji Bhide and others from the Hindutva groups responsible for conspiracy, hate, incitement and violence against Dalits during the 200th anniversary commemorations of Bhima Koregaon on 1 January 2018;

“Close FIRs and unconditionally withdraw charges against all those who participated in protests on 2 January 2018 against the violence against Dalits in Bhima Koregaon, and all those arrested in the witch hunt of Dalit youth and children which followed.

“Immediately release all human rights activists, lawyers, academics and artists arrested in connection with the Bhima Koregaon incidents and drop the fake charges against them.

“On Dr GN Saibaba

“End the torture of disabled academic and human rights activist Dr GN Saibaba and immediately release him.

“Against Draconian Laws and State Repression

“Scrap all draconian laws including Sections124A (sedition), 499 (criminal defamation), Unlawful Activities (Preventions) Act (UAPA), National Security Act (NSA), Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA) and free all prisoners arrested under these and older draconian laws like TADA;

“Set up a Supreme Court monitored high-powered tribunal to look into countrywide cases of custodial torture and killings;

“Enact police reforms to ensure the police force is held accountable to the Constitution and FIR is registered in every encounter, and every incident of custodial violence;

“End militarisation of civilian areas in Kashmir, Bastar and the Northeast;

“End detention camps for “suspected illegal immigrants” in all states.

“For Dalit and Adivasi People’s Rights

Implement the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act 2018, punish police officials for failing to file FIRs/record evidence;

“Increase funding, and utilise all funds allocated for scholarships and schemes for members of SCs and STs;

“Enact a law (Rohith Act) against caste discrimination in educational institutions;

“Approach the Supreme Court to fast-track pending appeals against acquittals in Dalit massacre cases in Bihar and other states;

“Enforce the Forest Rights Act, accept all community and individual claims;

“Release the thousands of adivasi under-trial prisoners languishing in jails on false charges, especially in Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana.’

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150+ Scientists Appeal to the People to ‘Vote Wisely’ in 2019 Elections

https://thewire.in/the-sciences/150-scientists-appeal-to-the-people-to-vote-wisely

150+ Scientists Appeal to the People to ‘Vote Wisely’ in 2019 Elections

In the last two or three years, scientists have identified a clump of issues during the incumbent Bharatiya Janata Party’s rule at the Centre that have affected them.

New Delhi: Over 150 scientists from around the country and working in various fields have signed a statement asking India’s citizens to “weigh arguments and evidence critically, “to remember our constitutional commitment to scientific temper” and “to vote against inequality, intimidation, discrimination, and unreason”.

The Lok Sabha polls will begin from April 11 and will be held in seven phases around the country, with over 900 million voters registered.

The statement’s signatories include many of the who’s who of the country’s research community, including Amitabh Joshi, Gagandeep Kang, Naresh Dadhich, Prajval Shastri, Rama Govindarajan, Satyajit Mayor and Subhash Lakhotia, among others.

The statement appeals to voters to uphold their constitutional rights, and dovetails to previous appeals from scientists to “reject those who lynch or assault people, those who discriminate against people because of religion, caste, gender, language or region,” and to “reject those who encourage such practices”. It also calls out violence against those fighting superstition and, finally, asks the people to remember science as a means to “democratic empowerment” instead of thinking about it solely as a “commercial enterprise”.

In the last two or three years, scientists have identified a clump of issues during the incumbent Bharatiya Janata Party’s rule at the Centre that have affected them. Chief among them is underspending on research and development, and on education. Others include an apparent bias against fundamental research, low pay for PhD students and postdoctoral fellows (read our reports here and here), bureaucratic intervention in universities, passive abetment of unscientific beliefs, revision of scholarships such that they include fewer students in need, privatisation of higher education and keeping scientists from speaking to journalists.

 

In 2015, the Inter-Academy Panel on Ethics in Science issued a statement to then President Pranab Mukherjee to punish “trespassers of reason”. Another statement issued by a different group of scientists at the same time appealed to the government “to act swiftly to stop [the] mayhem which is victimising innocent people for eating beef, sensible people for being against superstition, RTI activists or whistle blowers and many more innocent people with human values.”

The next year, Naresh Dadhich, former director of the Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics, Pune, wrote for The Wire:

Voices of protest … are against the fear and anxiety causing the anguish and discomfort. And in this environment, neither is the government doing enough (at least visibly) to send a clear signal nor are the people, many of whom are complicit in having created this unhealthy and disturbing situation. We scientists stand against all this and not specifically to any action and event.

In 2017, thousands of Indian scientists and students participated in the country’s first ‘March for Science’ on August 9, following a similar international event in April. One participant, Subham Rath, a PhD scholar at the Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru, wrote for The Wire, “The hope of scientists labouring in these circumstances is that the ‘March for Science’ will have been a slap in the face of those attitudes that trivialise modern scientific pursuits with the excuse that ‘everything is already in the Vedas’.” Scientists undertook a similar march in 2018.

All of these appeals have included words from Rabindranath Tagore’s famous poem ‘Where the Mind is Without Fear‘.

The unchanged text of the statement signed by 150+ scientists is presented below. It was originally published on Indian Cultural Forum and has been made available on a Creative Commons license.

§

The upcoming election is a crucial one. It asks for a re-affirmation of the most fundamental guarantees our Constitution gives us: equal rights to faith or lack thereof; culture; language; association; personal liberty and freedom of expression. These rights, even as they accrue to each of us individually, can only exist if they accrue to all Indian citizens — without partiality or discrimination.

To defend these rights, we must reject those who lynch or assault people, those who discriminate against people because of religion, caste, gender, language or region. Again, we must reject those who encourage such practices. We cannot endorse a politics that divides us, creates fears, and marginalises a large fraction of our society – women, Dalits, adivasis, religious minorities, the persons with disabilities or the poor. Diversity is our democracy’s greatest strength; discrimination and non-inclusivity strike at its very foundation.

An atmosphere in which scientists, activists and rationalists are hounded, harassed, intimidated, censored, jailed, or worse, murdered, is not the future our country deserves. It is not the future we want to give our youth. We want them to awaken to a country that sees science as a means of democratic empowerment through sceptical, open-minded questioning, rather than just a commercial enterprise. We must put an end to the denigration of rational, evidence-based public discourse; only then can we create better resources and opportunities for jobs, education and research.

We appeal to all citizens to vote wisely, weighing arguments and evidence critically. We appeal to all citizens to remember our constitutional commitment to scientific temper. We appeal to you to vote against inequality, intimidation, discrimination, and unreason. These are inimical to the values of our Constitution, whose promise is best reflected in Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore’s famous words:

“Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high
Where knowledge is free
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments
by narrow domestic walls
Where words come out from the depth of truth
Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection
Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way
Into the dreary desert sand of dead habit
Where the mind is led forward by thee
Into ever-widening thought and action
Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake.”

 

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Over 600 Theatre Artistes Appeal to Vote ‘Bigotry, Hatred, Apathy Out of Power’

Over 600 Theatre Artistes Appeal to Vote ‘Bigotry, Hatred, Apathy Out of Power’

Terming the 2019 Lok Sabha elections as ‘most crucial’, theatre practitioners in 12 languages call for safeguarding the Constitution and India’s syncretic, secular ethos.

Newsclick Report

April 4, 2019

 

Over 600 theatre artistes and practitioners in 12 languages from across the country have issued a joint appeal to people to vote out divisive politics from power in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.

The joint statement, released by Artists Unite, includes veterans such as Girish Karnad, Naseeruddin Shah, Amol Palekar, Usha Ganguli, Shanta Gokhale, Mahesh Elkunchwar, Mahesh Dattani, Arundhati Nag, Kirti Jain, Atamjit Singh, Astad Deboo, MK Raina, Moloyashree Hashmi among a host of theatre practitioners and writers in languages, such as English, Hindi, Tamil, Bengali, Marathi, Malayalam, Kannada, Assamese, Telugu, Panjabi, Konkani and Urdu.

The joint statement reads as follows:

“Since colonial times, Indian theatre makers have celebrated India’s diversity through their work. We have done plays as part of the freedom struggle, we have taken on social ills through our art, we have stood for social equity and inclusion, we have struck a blow at patriarchy, brahmanism and caste oppression. Theatre makers in India have a long and proud tradition of standing against forces of religious sectarianism, chauvinism, narrowness and irrationality. We have spoken from the margins, we have spoken of the margins. With song and dance, with humour and pathos, with compelling human stories, we have, for over a hundred and fifty years, imagined a secular, democratic, inclusive and just India.

Today, that very idea of India is under threat. Today, song, dance, laughter is under threat. Today, our beloved Constitution is under threat. The institutions that have to nurture argument, debate and dissent have been suffocated. To question, to call out lies, to speak the truth, is branded ‘anti-national’. The seeds of hatred have entered our food, prayers and festivals.

The ways in which this hatred has seeped into our daily fabric are alarming and it has to STOP.

The coming elections are without doubt the most critical in the history of independent India. A democracy must empower its weakest, its most marginalised. A democracy cannot function without questioning, debate, and a vibrant opposition. All this is being concertedly eroded by the current government. The BJP, which came to power five years ago with the promise of development, has given free rein to Hindutva goons to indulge in the politics of hate and violence. The man who was portrayed as the saviour of the nation five years ago has destroyed the livelihoods of millions through his policies. He promised to bring back black money; instead, rogues have looted the country and run away. The wealth of the rich has grown astronomically, while the poor have become even poorer.

We, theatre practitioners of India, appeal to the people of India to help safeguard the Constitution and our syncretic, secular ethos. We appeal to our fellow citizens to vote for love and compassion, for equality and social justice, and to defeat the forces of darkness and barbarism.

Our appeal – vote bigotry, hatred, and apathy out of power. Vote against the BJP and its allies. Vote to empower the weakest, protect liberty, protect the environment, and foster scientific thinking. Vote for secular democratic, inclusive India. Vote for the freedom to dream. Vote wisely.”

More than 200 Writers Appeal to Citizens

 

 

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Joint statement by theatre practitioners of India..

https://www.artistuniteindia.com/

In an unprecedented move, More than 700 theatre artists from every corner of this country have joined hands to make an appeal to all of you to vote out the divisive politics from power. The joint statement  in 12 languages (English, Hindi, Tamil, Bengali, Marathi, Malayalam, Kannada, Assamese, Telugu, Panjabi, Konkani,Urdu and Gujarati) and the names of the signatories are released on this site starting from 7pm, April 4th.

An appeal to fellow citizen

हिन्दी  |  தமிழ்  |  বাংলা   |   मराठी  |  മലയാളം  |  ಕನ್ನಡ |  অসমীয়া  | తెలుగు   | ਪੰਜਾਬੀ  |  कोंकणी  | اُردُو | ગુજરાતી 

Since colonial times, Indian theatre makers have celebrated India’s diversity through their work. We have done plays as part of the freedom struggle, we have taken on social ills through our art, we have stood for social equity and inclusion, we have struck a blow at patriarchy, brahmanism and caste oppression. Theatre makers in India have a long and proud tradition of standing against forces of religious sectarianism, chauvinism, narrowness and irrationality. We have spoken from the margins, we have spoken of the margins. With song and dance, with humour and pathos, with compelling human stories, we have, for over a hundred and fifty years, imagined a secular, democratic, inclusive and just India.

Today, that very idea of India is under threat. Today, song, dance, laughter is under threat. Today, our beloved Constitution is under threat. The institutions that have to nurture argument, debate and dissent have been suffocated. To question, to call out lies, to speak the truth, is branded ‘anti-national’. The seeds of hatred have entered our food, prayers and festivals.

The ways in which this hatred has seeped into our daily fabric are alarming and it has to STOP.

The coming elections are without doubt the most critical in the history of independent India. A democracy must empower its weakest, its most marginalised. A democracy cannot function without questioning, debate, and a vibrant opposition. All this is being concertedly eroded by the current government. The BJP, which came to power five years ago with the promise of development, has given free rein to Hindutva goons to indulge in the politics of hate and violence. The man who was portrayed as the saviour of the nation five years ago has destroyed the livelihoods of millions through his policies. He promised to bring back black money; instead, rogues have looted the country and run away. The wealth of the rich has grown astronomically, while the poor have become even poorer.

We, theatre practitioners of India, appeal to the people of India to help safeguard the Constitution and our syncretic, secular ethos. We appeal to our fellow citizens to vote for love and compassion, for equality and social justice, and to defeat the forces of darkness and barbarism.

Our appeal – vote bigotry, hatred, and apathy out of power. Vote against the BJP and its allies. Vote to empower the weakest, protect liberty, protect the environment, and foster scientific thinking. Vote for secular democratic, inclusive India. Vote for the freedom to dream. Vote wisely.

Endorsed by:

1 Aamir Aziz Mumbai
2 Aarti Aney Mumbai
3 Aayush Agarwal Delhi
4 Abanti Chakraborty Kolkata
5 Abhijeet Deshpande Mumbai
6 Abhijit Sengupta Bangalore
7 Abhijitsen Guptha Bangalore
8 Abhimanyu Vinayakumar Kerala
9 Abhinand S Kerala
10 Abhinav Grover Mumbai
11 Abhinav Sabyasachi Delhi
12 Abhishek Goswami Jaipur
13 Abhishek Majumdar
14 Abhishek Rangaprabhath Kerala
15 Abhishek Thapar Moga/Amsterdam
16 Abhisikta Delhi
17 Abir Abrar Mumbai
18 Abir Abrar Mumbai
19 Achutha Bangalore
20 Adat Gopalan Kerala
21 Aditee Biswas
22 Adnan Serkhot Mumbai
23 Adrija Dasgupta West Bengal
24 Aishwarya Walvekar
25 Ajay Udayan Kerala
26 Ajeesh Ashokan Kerala
27 Ajeet Singh Palawat Mumbai
28 Ajitesh Gupta Mumbai
29 Ajithlal Sivalal Kerala
30 Akanksha Bansal Delhi
31 Akash Khurana Mumbai
32 Akriti Singh Mumbai
33 Akshay Shimpi Mumbai
34 Alam Shah Chennai
35 Aliyar K Kerala
36 Alka Sharma Mumbai
37 Amal C Das Kerala
38 Amal Krishna Kerala
39 Amal Muttara Kerala
40 Amal Sasidharan Kerala
41 Amalraj Kerala
42 Amarjee Ray Delhi
43 Amba Suhasini Katoch Jhala Delhi
44 Amey Mehta Mumbai
45 Amit Sharma Bangalore
46 Amita Rana Delhi
47 Amitabh Pandey
48 Amitesh Kumar Allahabad
49 Amla Roy Shimla
50 Amol Palekar
51 Amruta Mapuskar Mumbai
52 Amruta Sant Mumbai
53 Anagha Acharekar Mumbai
54 Anamika Haksar Mumbai
55 Anantha Kumar Madurai
56 Aniket Chauhan Delhi
57 Anil Ramachandra Bangalore
58 Anima Pagare Mumbai
59 Animesh Vishal Pune
60 Anindita Bhadra Kolkata
61 Anindya Gupta Ranchi
62 Anirban Bhattacharya Mumbai
63 Anirban Kumar Delhi
64 Anirban Roy Kolkata
65 Anirudh Nair Delhi
66 Anis Azmi
67 Anish Ankur Patna
68 Anish Anto Chennai
69 Anish Victor Bangalore
70 Anita Cherian
71 Anita Shabdish Chandigarh
72 Anjana Rajan Delhi
73 Ankur Bashar Delhi
74 Annesha Chakraborty Kolkata
75 Anshika Rathore Jodhpur
76 Anshuman Bhowmick
77 Anuj Chopra Delhi
78 Anuj Nigam Lucknow
79 Anuja Ghosalkar Mumbai
80 Anuradha Kapur Delhi
81 Anuradha Parikh Mumbai
82 Anurag Kashyap Mumbai
83 Anurupa Roy Delhi
84 Anushree Kushwaha Mumbai
85 Aparna Jha Bangalore
86 Apeksha Vora Mumbai
87 Aqib Mirza Jaipur
88 Arasu V Chennai
89 Archana Padmini Kerala
90 Archana Patel Mumbai
91 Ariharasuthan R Tamil Nadu
92 Ariindam Chakrabortiy Mumbai
93 Arpita Raigarh
94 Arshia Sattar
95 Arun Kerala
96 Arun Kalra Delhi
97 Arun Lal Kerala
98 Aruna Ganesh Ram Bangalore
99 Aruna Mani Tamil Nadu
100 Arundhati Ghosh Bangalore
101 Arundhati Nag Bangalore
102 Arundhati Raja Bangalore
103 Arunkumar Rayadurgam Chennai
104 Asad Hussain Mumbai
105 Asha Kuthari Chaudury Guwahati
106 Ashish Abraham Mumbai
107 Ashish Athawle Bengaluru
108 Ashish Ghosh Delhi
109 Ashish Mehta Pune
110 Ashish Sen Bangalore
111 Ashok Lal Delhi
112 Ashok Mathur Delhi
113 Ashok Singh Chennai, Tamil Nadu
114 Ashutosh Potdar Pune
115 Ashwini Kasi Tamil Nadu
116 Asif Ali Beg Mumbai
117 Asish Mishra Bihar
118 Asmit Pathare Mumbai
119 Astad Deboo Mumbai
120 Atamjeet Singh Lucknow
121 Athul M Kerala
122 Atish Indrekar Ahmedabad
123 Atishay Jain Buxwaha, MP
124 Atul Kumar Mumbai
125 Atul Pethe Pune
126 Averee Chaure Delhi
127 Avijit Dutt Delhi
128 Ayan Banerjee Kolkata
129 Ayan Roy Kolkata
130 B. Suresh Bengaluru
131 Bagu Chennai
132 Baharul Islam Assam
133 Bakul Tailor Gujarat
134 Balachandra Padiyar Bangalore
135 Balachandran Parangodath Thrissur
136 Bantu (DP Soni), Jan Sanskriti Manch Baliya
137 Barkha Swaroop Saxena Mumbai
138 Basav Biradar Bangalore
139 Bhairava M Poojari, Kalburgi Karnataka
140 Bharath Kashyap Bangalore
141 Bharati Perwani Mumbai
142 Bharavi Bangalore
143 Bhartendu Kashyap lucknow
144 Bhavana Rajendran Bangalore
145 Bhavani Janakiram Chennai
146 Bhavna Pani
147 Bhumika Dubey Mumbai
148 Bhupesh Belagali Karnataka
149 Bhushan Korgaonkar Mumbai
150 Bhushan Vikas Mumbai
151 Bidita Bag Mumbai
152 Biju MK Kerala
153 Bikram Ghosh Delhi
154 Bilas Nair Kerala
155 Binukumar Tamilnadu
156 Birinchi Kumar Gogoi Assam
157 Boobalan Tamil Nadu
158 Brahma Prakash Delhi
159 Brinda Jacob Bangalore
160 Chanakya Vyas Bangalore
161 Chandan Roy Sanyal Mumbai
162 Chandradasan Kerala
163 Chandramathi Tamilnadu
164 Chanduz Kerala
165 Charles Tamil Nadu
166 Chetan Shah
167 Chidambara Rao Jambe
168 Chintan Pandya Ahmedabad
169 Chitra Palekar Mumbai
170 Choiti Ghosh Delhi
171 Dadi Pudumjee Delhi
172 Daisy Irani Prof. Patna
173 Dakshita Gupta Mumbai
174 Dakxin Chhara Gujarat
175 Daminee Benny Basu Kolkata
176 Dana Roy Kolkata
177 Danish Husain Mumbai
178 Danish Iqbal New Delhi
179 Davis KA Kerala
180 Debesh Chattopadhyay West Bengal
181 Deepa Ganesh Bangalore
182 Deepa Punjani Mumbai
183 Deepak Kabir Lucknow
184 Deepak Kalani Kerala
185 Deepak Rai Karnataka
186 Deepak Venkateshan Mumbai
187 Deepika Kumaravel Chennai
188 Denzil Smith Mumbai
189 Dev Rajora Jaipur
190 Devasheesh Misra Lucknow
191 Devika S Tamil Nadu
192 Devina Kapoor Mumbai
193 Devrajan Yadav Jaipur
194 Dhamma Rakshit Mumbai
195 Dhananjay Delhi
196 Dhananjay Sable Mumbai
197 Dharmakirti Yashwant Sumant Pune
198 Dhruv Kalra Mumbai
199 Dhruv Verma Delhi
200 Dhwani Vij Delhi
201 Dileep Chilanka Kerala
202 Dileepan Katambazhippuram Kerala
203 Dipali Delhi
204 Dipanwita Nath kolkata
205 Divya G Kerala
206 Divya Jagdale Mumbai
207 Divyanathan chennai
208 Divyesh Vijayakar Mumbai
209 Dolly Thakore Mumbai
210 Dr Narayanan MV
211 Dr Rupa A, Naataka Salai Tamil Nadu
212 Dr Shailesh Joshi Mumbai
213 Dr Venugopalan Mumbai
214 Dr. Sajeesh Kerala
215 Dr. Sitanath Lahkar Assam
216 Dr. Sumedh MK Mumbai
217 Dr. Vijaya Bengaluru
218 Elambarithi R Puducherry
219 Emeara Mumbai
220 Er. Rajesh Kumar Lucknow
221 Ernesto Mani Tamil Nadu
222 Esthappen S New Delhi
223 Eswaran Tamil Nadu
224 Faezeh Jalali Mumbai
225 Faredoon Dodo Bhujwala Mumbai
226 Firoz Ashraf Khan Patna
227 Flora Achut Bangalore
228 Fouzia Dastango Delhi
229 Gandharv Dewan Mumbai
230 Ganesh Chennai
231 Ganesh Shenoy Bengaluru
232 Gargi Bharadwaj Delhi
233 Gargi Bhattacharya Orissa
234 Gauravkumar
235 Gautam Bhattacharya Delhi
236 Gautam Sarkar Kolkatta
237 Geetanjali Kulkarni
238 Geetha Chennai
239 Geetha V Chennai
240 Geetika Vidya Mumbai
241 Gerish Khemani Mumbai
242 Girish Karnad Bangalore
243 Girish Pardesi Pune, Maharashtra
244 Girish Sharma Mumbai
245 Gita Guha West Bengal
246 Gitika Debnath
247 Gobi G Puducherry
248 Gopan Chidambaram Kerala
249 Gopi Kuttikkol Kerala
250 Guhan Navaneethan Tamil Nadu
251 Gulan Kripalani Kolkata
252 Gurcharan Singh Chandhigar, Punjab
253 Gurleen Judge Mumbai
254 Hanif Patni Mumbai
255 Hans Kaushik Tamil Nadu
256 Hari KB Kerala
257 Harish, Naataka Salai Tamil Nadu
258 Harleen Kohli Chandhigar
259 Harsh Khurana
260 Harshad Tambe Mumbai
261 Harshita Vajpayee Jaipur
262 Hasan Imam Patna
263 Hasan Zaidi Mumbai
264 Hazim Amaravila Kerala
265 Heeba Shah Mumbai
266 Hidayat Sami Mumbai
267 Himanshu B Joshi Delhi
268 Himanshu Kohli Mumbai
269 Hridaynath Jadhav Mumbai
270 IK Bolwar Puttur, Karnataka
271 Imran Ahmed Assam
272 Imran Khan Delhi
273 Imran Rasheed Mumbai
274 Inder Salim
275 Indrayudh Ghoshal Bangalore
276 Ipshita Chakravorty Singh Mumbai
277 Iqbal Niyazi Mumbai
278 Iqbal Qwaja Mumbai
279 Irawati Karnik Mumbai
280 Irfan Mujawar Sangli, Maharashtra
281 Ishita Mumbai
282 Ishu Delhi
283 Jagdish Raja Bangalore
284 Jai Ganesh Tamil Nadu
285 Jaimini Pathak Mumbai
286 Jameel Gulrays Mumbai
287 Jasir Kerala
288 Jayalalitha Chennai, Tamil Nadu
289 Jayalalitha, Kalaikuzhu Chennai
290 Jayant Kripalani Kolkata
291 Jayant Pawar Mumbai
292 Jayaprakash PD Mumbai
293 Jaydev Taneja Delhi
294 Jeevan lal Yadav Champa
295 Jegan Chennai
296 Jeny Dolly Chennai
297 Jino Jose Kerala
298 Jofin Manimala Chennai
299 Jomet K Johnson Kerala
300 Jose Koshy Kerala
301 Joy Mathew Kerala
302 Joy Sengupta Mumbai
303 Joyraj Bhattacharjee Kolkata
304 Jyoti Rana Delhi
305 K B Joy Kerala
306 K Girish Kerala
307 K R Subash Kerala
308 Kabir Thakore Ahmedabad
309 Kafeel Jafri Bangalore
310 Kailash, Kalaikuzhu Chennai
311 Kaizaad Kotwal Mumbai
312 Kajal Ghosh Kokata
313 Kalaivani, Naataka Salai Tamil Nadu
314 Kalaiyappu Chennai, Tamil Nadu
315 Kalilash Chennai, Tamil Nadu
316 Kalpak Bhave Mumbai
317 Kalyanee Mulay Mumbai
318 Kani Kusruti Kerala
319 Kannan Nayar Kerala
320 Kapil Pandey
321 Karan Talwar Mumbai
322 Karen D’Mello Bangalore
323 Karuna Prasad K S Tamil Nadu
324 Katy Lai Roy Kolkata
325 Katyayani Prabhakar Delhi
326 Kaustubh Naik Goa
327 Kavalam Padmanabhan NCR Delhi
328 Kavin Malar Chennai
329 Kavitha Lankesh Karnataka
330 Kavya Achuth Karnataka
331 Kazim Behroop
332 Kesavan P N Kerala
333 Keval Arora Delhi
334 Kirti Jain Delhi
335 Kishor Sahit Goa
336 Kismat Bano Guwahati
337 Kitu Gidwani Mumbai
338 KK Kohli Delhi
339 KK Rajan Bhopal
340 Komita Dhanda Delhi
341 Konkona Sen Sharma Mumbai
342 Koumarane Valavane Puducherry
343 Krishna Devanadan Auroville, Puducherry
344 Krishnamurthy K G Karnataka
345 Kriti Pant Delhi
346 Kshitiz vatsa Delhi
347 Kuljeet Singh Delhi
348 Kumanan Tamil Nadu
349 KV Ganesh Kerala
350 Lakshmi Sriraman USA / Tamil Nadu
351 Lapdiang Syiem Shillong, Meghalaya
352 Leenaz Samad Bicha Karnataka
353 Lillette Dubey Mumbai
354 Living Smile Vidya Switzerland
355 Lokesh Jain Delhi
356 Lokesh Shevde Nasik
357 Lovleen Misra Mumbai
358 M G Arun Mumbai
359 M K Raina Delhi / Jammu & Kashmir
360 M V Narayanan Kerala
361 Maala Parvathy Kerala
362 Madhan Mani Chennai
363 Madhavi Menon Delhi
364 Mahabanoo Modi-Kotwal Mumbai
365 Mahesh Dattani Mumbai
366 Mahesh Elkunchwar Nagpur
367 Mahesh Ghodeswar Ahmedabad
368 Mahinder Pal Lucknow
369 Maisnam Joy Meetei Manipur
370 Makrand Deshpande Mumbai
371 Makrand Sathe Pune
372 Mallika Prasad Karnataka
373 Mallika Taneja
374 Mamta Sagar Bangalore
375 Manasi Mumbai
376 Manaswini Lata Ravindra Pune
377 Manav Kaul Mumbai
378 Mandakini Goswami
379 Mandeep Raikhy Delhi
380 Mangai A Tamil Nadu
381 Manikandan Nellai Tamil Nadu
382 Manish Shrivastava Delhi
383 Manisha Korde
384 Manisundharam Chennai
385 Manjima Chatterjee Noida, Uttar Pradesh
386 Manju Yadav
387 Manjunath VM Bangalore
388 Manohar Chennai
389 Manoj Shah Mumbai
390 Manojkumar Palakkad, Kerala
391 Manu Jose Kerala
392 Manu Venugopal Kerala
393 Maulikraj Shrimali Gujarat
394 Maya Rao Delhi
395 Medha Agarwal Bangalore
396 Meenal Sahu Mumbai
397 Meera Krishnamurthi Chennai
398 Meher Acharia-Dar Mumbai
399 Mini Chandran Kerala
400 Mita Vasisht Mumbai
401 Mohammad Faheem Delhi
402 Mohammed Khan Mumbai
403 Mohan Chennai
404 Mohit Takalkar Pune
405 Moloy Mitra 24 Parganas North, West Bengal
406 Moloyashree Hashmi Delhi
407 Mona Chawla Delhi
408 Monidip Das Sumon Tripura
409 Mridula Bhardwaj Lucknow
410 Mrityunjay Prabhakar Delhi
411 Mu Ramaswamy Madurai
412 Muhammed Shibil Kerala
413 Muhesh Tamilnadu
414 Muralidas Kerala
415 Murugaboopathy Tamil Nadu
416 Murugesan Tamilnadu
417 Muthamizh Kalai Vizhi Chennai
418 Muthumoorthy Tamil Nadu
419 N K Sharma Delhi
420 N S Yamuna Chennai
421 Nachi Chennai
422 Nagesh Bhosle Mumbai
423 Naman Jain Mumbai
424 Namrata Sumiraj Mumbai
425 Nandajan Kerala
426 Nandini Banerjee
427 Narayan Kharade Goa
428 Narippatta Raju Kerala
429 Naseeruddin Shah Mumbai
430 Natasha Singh Mumbai
431 Naushil Mehta Mumbai
432 Naval Kishore Vyas Bikaner
433 Naveen Baigana, Yugmanch Nainital
434 Naveen Kishore Kolkata
435 Navtej Johar Delhi
436 Neel Chaudhuri Delhi
437 Neelesh Deepak Delhi
438 Neeraj Kunder Sidhi
439 Neeraj Shirvaikar Mumbai
440 Neha Singh Mumbai
441 NIkhil Katara Mumbai
442 Nikhil Pandey Mumbai
443 Nikhita Singh Mumbai
444 Niloufer Sagar
445 Nimi Ramneek
446 Nimi Ravindran Bangalore
447 Nimmy Raphel Puducherry
448 Ninasam Akshara Heggodu, Karnataka
449 Nisam Asaf K.J Delhi
450 Nisha Abdulla Bangalore
451 Nisha Dhar Mumbai
452 Nitesh Naik Goa
453 Nitheesh K Kerala
454 Nitin Gupta Mumbai
455 Nitin Jadhav Mumbai
456 Noel Sengupta Delhi
457 Noor Zaheer Delhi
458 Nuhar Bansal, Bangalore
459 Om Pareek Kolkata
460 Omkar Govardhan
461 Omkar Bhatkar Mumbai
462 Ooty Mani Tamilnadu
463 Padma Damodaran Mumbai
464 Padmavati Rao Bangalore
465 Pankaj Jha Mumbai
466 Pappan Trivandrum
467 Paro Anand Delhi
468 Partha Pratim Mitra
469 Parthibaraja
470 Parvez Akhtar Patna
471 Piyush Singh Patna
472 Poile Sengupta Bangalore
473 Pooja Nair Mumbai
474 Poonam Girdhani Delhi
475 Prabahan Shakya Delhi
476 Prabhjot Singh Delhi
477 Pradeep Mulye
478 Pradeep Tiptur Karnataka
479 Pragadheeswaran Tamil Nadu
480 Pragya Tiwari Delhi
481 Prakash Bare Kerala / Karnataka
482 Pralayan Tamil Nadu
483 Pramod Kale Pune
484 Pramod Pathak Mumbai
485 Pranav Raj Kerala
486 Prasanna D
487 Prasanna Ramaswamy Chennai
488 Prashant Prakash Delhi
489 Prathap Raj Krishnagiri, TN
490 Pratibha Sharma Mumbai
491 Praveen Kumar Vadhera Mumbai
492 Pravin Kalokhe Nashik, Maharashtra
493 Pravin KP Chennai
494 Pravin Kumar Gunjan Begusarai, Bihar
495 Pravin Shekhar Delhi
496 Pravin Shekhar Allahabad
497 Preethi Athreya Chennai
498 Preeti Agarwal Delhi
499 Prem Prasad Kerala
500 Prema Revathi Nagappattinam, Tamil Nadu
501 Premanand Gajvee Nagpur
502 Pritham Chakravarti Hyderabad / Tamil Nadu
503 Priti Bakalkar Mumbai
504 Priyanka Delhi
505 Priyanka Babbar Mumbai
506 Priyanka Charan Mumbai
507 Priyanka Pathak Delhi
508 Priyansh Sehar Delhi
509 Probir Guha West Bengal
510 Pruthu Parab Mumbai
511 Pugazh Shankar Chennai
512 Puja Sarup Mumbai
513 Punarvasu Mumbai
514 Punj Prakash, Dastak Patna
515 Purav Goswami Assam / Delhi
516 Purnanand Mumbai
517 Purva Naresh Mumbai
518 Pushan Kripalani Mumbai
519 Quasar Thakore Padamsee Mumbai
520 Rabiya Jayaram Bangalore
521 Rachel Dsouza Mumbai
522 Rachna Punjab
523 Ragini Singh Khushwaha Mumbai
524 Rahul Rai Mumbai
525 Rahul Thomas Bangalore
526 Rajashekar G, Naataka Salai Tamil Nadu
527 Rajeev Krishnan Chennai
528 Rajeev Naik Mumbai / Pune
529 Rajendran K S Delhi / Tamil Nadu
530 Rajesh Chennai, Tamil Nadu
531 Rajesh Azhikkodan Kerala
532 Rajesh Kumar Lucknow
533 Rajesh Navath Kerala
534 Rajesh Sharma Kerala
535 Rajesh Shrivasta Bhilai
536 Rajesh Vallachira Kerala
537 Rajesh, Kalaikuzhu Chennai
538 Rajiv velichetti Hyderabad
539 Rajkumar Rajak Allahabad
540 Rajneesh Sahil Delhi
541 Rakesh Dalawai Bangalore
542 Rakesh Veda Lucknow
543 Ram Saidpure Pune
544 Ramachandra, Keli Mumbai
545 Ramesh Tamilnadu
546 Ramesh Talwar
547 Ramneek singh Bangalore
548 Ramu Ramanathan Mumbai
549 Ramya Thayamma Chennai
550 Randeer Kumar Patna
551 Randhir Khare Pune
552 Ranganath SL (Ninasam) Karnataka
553 Ranjna Pandey Delhi
554 Rashmi Bangalore
555 Rasika Agashe Mumbai
556 Rasiya Padalkar, Pratyay Kolhapur
557 Rathnakaran Kerala
558 Ratna Panikkar NCR Delhi
559 Ratna Pathak Shah Mumbai
560 Ratnabali Bhattacharjee Mumbai
561 Ravi Chennai
562 Ravi Kumar Pathak Allahabad
563 Ravikiran Rajendran Bangalore
564 Ravinder Singh Delhi
565 Rebecca Spurgeon Bangalore
566 Rector Kathuria Ludhiana Punjab
567 Reetha Balsaver Mumbai
568 Regin Rose Tamil Nadu
569 Reju Sivadas Kerala
570 Renu Ramanathan Kerala
571 Rikimi Madhukaillya Mumbai
572 Ritesh Malaney Mumbai
573 Ritesh R Chandigarh
574 Rochana More Delhi
575 Rohini Molleti Chennai
576 Roopesh Kerala
577 Ruchira Das Kolkata
578 Ruchira Das Kolkata
579 Rustom Bharucha
580 S Raghunandana Bangalore
581 Sabyasachi Chakrabarty Kolkata
582 Sachin Jaiswal Lucknow
583 Sachin Lele
584 Sadanand Menon Chennai
585 Sadiya Siddiqui Mumbai
586 Sahej Rahal Mumbai
587 Saji Thulasidas Kerala
588 Sajitha Madathil Kerala
589 Salim Shah Mumbai
590 Salima Raza Mumbai
591 Sambhaji Bhagat Maharashtra
592 Sameera Iyengar Mumbai
593 Samik Bandopadhyay
594 Sampath Kumar.M Chennai
595 Samta Rai, Chorus Patna
596 Samyak Verma Delhi
597 Samyuktha PC
598 Sanal Aman Kerala
599 Sandeep Rawat Delhi
600 Sandeep Shikhar Bangalore
601 Sandesh Kulkarni Mumbai
602 Sangeeta Tiple Nagpur
603 Sangita Jaiswal Lucknow
604 Sania Hashmi Delhi
605 Sanjay Mumbai
606 Sanjay Sinha Patna
607 Sanjeev Nair Bangalore
608 Sanjna Kapoor Mumbai
609 Sanjoy Ganguli Calcutta
610 Sanjukta Wagh Mumbai
611 Sankar Venkateswaran Kerala
612 Santanil Ganguly Calcutta
613 Santanu Das Kalyani, West Bengal
614 Santanu Ghatak Mumbai
615 Santanu Mallick Delhi
616 Santhosh Venjaramood Kerala
617 Sapan Saran Mumbai
618 Sarah Hashmi Mumbai
619 Saran Raj Chennai
620 Sarath sarathy
621 Sarika Singh Mumbai
622 Saritha Kukku Kerala
623 Sasi MG Kerala
624 Sasidharan Naduvil Kerala
625 Sasikumar Vallikkatte Kerala
626 Satchit Puranik Mumbai
627 Sateesh Chavan Bijapur
628 Satheesan A Mumbai
629 Satheesh K Kerala
630 Satheesh Kumar Mumbai
631 Sathwik N N Bangalore
632 Satish Alekar Pune
633 Satish Tiptura Karnataka
634 Satnam Singh, Rohthak Haryana
635 Saurabh Nayyat Mumbai
636 Savitri Medhatul
637 Seema Biswas Mumbai
638 Seema Rajoria
639 Sekher Chennai
640 Semmalar Annam Tamil Nadu
641 Senthil Kumar Tamil Nadu
642 Shabnam Vadhera Mumbai
643 Shafaat Khan
644 Shahana Chatterjee Kolkata
645 Shahnawaz Alam Mumbai
646 Shailaja Jala Kerala
647 Shaili Sathyu
648 Shajith RB Kerala
649 Shakti Bhardwaj Lucknow
650 Shanta Gokhale Mumbai
651 Sharad Bhuthadia Kolhapur
652 Sharad Raj Mumbai
653 Sharmistha Saha Mumbai
654 Shashank Rai Delhi
655 Shashidhar Bharighat Bengaluru
656 Shashidhar Kumar Bangalore
657 Sheeba Siddiqui Mumbai
658 Sheena Khalid
659 Shekh Sohail Delhi
660 Shena Gamat Delhi
661 Shiva Pathak Bangalore
662 Shivaprakash H. S Delhi, Karnataka
663 Shripad Chaudhari Mumbai
664 Shrunga B V Bangalore
665 Shruti Bijnoria Mumbai
666 Shubham Mumbai
667 Shubham Tiwari Lucknow
668 Shuddho Banerjee Kolkata
669 Shyama Krishna Kerala
670 Siddaiahke Thumakuru
671 Sikandar Khan Mumbai
672 Sitaram Singh Patna
673 Siva Sankar Chennai
674 Sivan Kangol Kerala
675 Sivan Venkitangu Kerala
676 Sivaprasad SP Kerala
677 Smitha M Babu Kerala
678 Sneha, Naataka Salai Tamil Nadu
679 Sonal Kharade Mumbai
680 Sonali Bhardwaj Mumbai
681 Sonam Stobgais Ladakh
682 Souradeep Roy Delhi, Kolkata
683 Sowmiya Chennai
684 Spatica Ramanujam Bangalore
685 Srabanti Bhattacharya Kolkata
686 Sreehari Ajith Mumbai
687 Sreeja Arangottukara Kerala
688 Sreejith Ramanan Kerala
689 Sreekanth S Kerala
690 Sreekumar PK Kerala
691 Sridhar Tamilnadu
692 Srijith Sundaram Tamil Nadu
693 Srinivas Denchanala Hyderabad
694 Sruti Bala Amsterdam
695 Stalin Chennai, Tamil Nadu
696 Steven S. George Delhi
697 Subodh Lal Delhi
698 Subramanian Kerala
699 Sudeep Modak Mumbai
700 Sudeshna Banerjee
701 Sudhanva Deshpande Delhi
702 Sudhya Satya Ghosh Kolkata
703 Sudipto Chatterjee Kolkata
704 Sugumar Shanmugam Puducherry
705 Suhaas Ahuja Mumbai
706 Suhita Thatte Mumbai
707 Sujay Saple Mumbai
708 Sukant Goel Mumbai
709 Sukhesh Arora Delhi
710 Suman Kumar Chandigarh
711 Suman Mukhopadhyay Mumbai
712 Sumit Kumar Delhi
713 Sumit Lai Roy Kolkata
714 Sunayana Premchander Bangalore
715 Sunil Hudgi Karnataka
716 Sunil S Kerala
717 Sunil Shanbag Mumbai
718 Sunit Sinha Delhi
719 Sunita Singh Delhi
720 Sunu Khader Kerala
721 Supriya Shukla Hyderabad
722 Surendar M Chennai
723 Surendra Babu
724 Surendra Rao Bangalore
725 Suresh Kanakoor Mumbai
726 Suresh Mecheri Kerala
727 Suruchi Aulakh Mumbai
728 Surya Mohan Kulshreshtha Lucknow
729 Sushama Deshpande Mumbai
730 Sushma Rao Bangalore
731 Susmita Bhattacharyya
732 Suvarnnan Paravoor Kerala
733 Suvojit Bandyopadhyay Kolkata
734 Swapnil Jain Jaipur
735 Swapnil Shrirao Mumbai
736 Swati Simha Delhi
737 T Sreekanth Kerala
738 T Surendra Rao Bangalore
739 T Sureshbabu Kerala
740 Tamilarasan Chennai
741 Tamilarasi Chennai
742 Tanaji Dasgupta Kolkata
743 Tanmay Tyagi Delhi
744 Tanveer Aktar Bihar
745 Tarique Hameed Delhi
746 Timira Gupta Mumbai
747 Titas Dutta Mumbai
748 Tony Chawda
749 Toral Shah Mumbai
750 Trideep Lahkar Guwahati
751 Twaha A Majeed Delhi
752 Udhay Kumar P Chennai
753 Udit Parashar Mumbai
754 Udit Yadav Delhi
755 Uma Pondicherry
756 Usha Ganguli Kolkata
757 Usham Rojio Manipur
758 Vaishali Bisht Hyderabad
759 Varsha Anand Delhi
760 Vasanthi Chennai, Tamil Nadu
761 Veda Rakesh Lucknow
762 Vekataramani Yelahanka
763 Velayudham Subramanian Chennai
764 Venkadesan, Naataka Salai Tamil Nadu
765 Venkataramana Aithal BR Karnataka
766 Venkatesh Prasad Bangalore
767 Venkiteswaran CS Kerala
768 Victo Lali Asha Tamilnadu
769 Vidyun Singh Delhi
770 Vijay Anthony Chennai
771 Vijay Kenkre Mumbai
772 Vijay Padaki Bangalore
773 Vijay Ravikumar chennai
774 Vijayakumar Tamil Nadu
775 Vijaykumar Kalia Delhi
776 Vijaykumar Naik Goa
777 Viju Varma Trivandrum
778 Vikesh Bajpai Lucknow
779 Vikram Iyenger Kolkata
780 Vikram Kapadia Mumbai
781 Vikram Phukan Mumbai
782 Vimala K S Bangalore
783 Vimala KS Karnataka
784 Vinay Shukla Mumbai
785 Vinay Kumar Mishra Lucknow
786 Vinay Pathak Mumbai
787 Vinod Gandhi Kerala
788 Vinod Koshti Delhi
789 Vinod Ranganath Mumbai
790 Vinod Ravindran Bangalore
791 Virkien Dhar Delhi
792 Vishal Mumbai
793 Vishal Patil, Kalaburagi Karnataka
794 Vishnu S Kerala
795 Vishwa Bharath Chennai
796 Vivaan vaidya Mumbai
797 Vivek Jadhav Mumbai
798 Vivek Madan Bangalore
799 Vivek Mansukhani Delhi
800 Vivek Vijayakumaran Karnataka
801 Vrajesh Hirjee
802 Waris Ahmed Zaidi Mumbai
803 Yamuna
804 Yashpal Sharma Mumbai
805 Yazhini A N Tamil Nadu
806 Yogesh Pandey Bihar
807 Yugandhar Deshpande Mumbai
808 Yuki Ellias Mumbai
809 Zafar Mohiuddin Bangalore
810 Zaheer Anwar Kolkata
811 Zarin Shihab Chennai
812 Zulekha Allana Delhi

 

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More than 150 Scientists Appeal to Citizens: Let us vote to unify the people. Let us vote to spread the light of reason.

More than 150 Scientists Appeal to Citizens

Let us vote to unify the people. Let us vote to spread the light of reason.

April 3, 2019

The upcoming election is a crucial one. It asks for a re-affirmation of the most fundamental guarantees our Constitution gives us: equal rights to faith or lack thereof; culture; language; association; personal liberty and freedom of expression. These rights, even as they accrue to each of us individually, can only exist if they accrue to all Indian citizens — without partiality or discrimination.

To defend these rights, we must reject those who lynch or assault people, those who discriminate against people because of religion, caste, gender, language or region. Again, we must reject those who encourage such practices. We cannot endorse a politics that divides us, creates fears, and marginalises a large fraction of our society — women, dalits, adivasis, religious minorities, the persons with disabilities or the poor. Diversity is our democracy’s greatest strength; discrimination and non-inclusivity strike at its very foundation.

An atmosphere in which scientists, activists and rationalists are hounded, harassed, intimidated, censored, jailed, or worse, murdered, is not the future our country deserves. It is not the future we want to give our youth. We want them to awaken to a country that sees science as a means of democratic empowerment through sceptical, open-minded questioning, rather than just a commercial enterprise. We must put an end to the denigration of rational, evidence-based public discourse; only then can we create better resources and opportunities for jobs, education and research.

We appeal to all citizens to vote wisely, weighing arguments and evidence critically. We appeal to all citizens to remember our constitutional commitment to scientific temper. We appeal to you to vote against inequality, intimidation, discrimination, and unreason. These are inimical to the values of our Constitution, whose promise is best reflected in Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore’s famous words:

“Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high
Where knowledge is free
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments
by narrow domestic walls
Where words come out from the depth of truth 

Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection
Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way 
Into the dreary desert sand of dead habit
Where the mind is led forward by thee
Into ever-widening thought and action
Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake.”

Read the appeal in Hindi here.

1 A. Mani 77 Mercy J. Raman 153 S. G. Dani
2 Aaloka Kanhere 78 Mihir Arjunwadkar 154 Mangala Narlikar
3 Abha Dev Habib 79 Mohan Rao 155 Yashoda Ghanekar
4 Abhijit Majumder 80 Mrinal K Ghosh 156 Abhijit Mitra
5 Adish Dani 81 Mugdha Karnik 157 Manojendu Choudhury
6 Ajit M. Srivastava 82 Mundur V. N. Murthy 158 D. P. Kasbekar
7 Akash Gautam 83 Nandita Narain 159 Roop Mallik
8 Amala Bhave 84 Naresh Dadhich 160 Vijay Lale
9 Amit Apte 85 Nisha Biswas 161 Aneeshkumar Arimbasseri
10 Amit Bhaya 86 Niti Kumar 162 Gitanjali Yadav
11 Amit Misra 87 Nixon Abraham 163 Bhavtosh Bansal
12 Amitabh Joshi 88 Pallavi Vibhuti 164 Priya Hasan
13 Amitabha Bandyopadhyay 89 Partho Sarothi Ray 165 S. N. Hasan
14 Amites Dasgupta 90 Prabhakar Rajagopal 166 Dhruba Mukhopadhyay
15 Aniket Sule 91 Prabir Purkayastha 167 Resmi Lekshmi
16 Anindita Bhadra 92 Pradip Dasgupta 168 B. Ravindran
17 Anirban Mukherjee 93 Pradipta Bandyopadhyay 169 Jayant Murthy
18 Ankan Paul 94 Prajval Shastri 170 Ashis Kumar Nandy
19 Anna George 95 Prakash Burte 171 Niruj Mohan Ramanujam
20 Anup Padmanabhan 96 Pranay Goel 172 M. C. Arunan
21 Argha Banerjee 97 Prasad Subramanian 173 Sandeep K. Shukla
22 Arjun Guha 98 R. Ramanujam 174 Nissim Kanekar
23 Arnab Bhattacharya 99 Raghav Rajan 175 Nirupam Roy
24 Asha Gopinathan 100 Raghunath Chelakkot 176 Manoj Purvankara
25 Atindra N. Pal 101 Rahul Roy 177 Rahul Nigam
26 Aurnab Ghose 102 Rahul Siddharthan 178 Chinmay Mukhopadhyay
27 Avinash Dhar 103 Rajiva Raman 179 Vidyanand Nanjundiah
28 Ayalvadi Ganesh 104 Rama Govindarajan 180 Jonaki Sen
29 Ayan Banerjee 105 Ramesh Awasthi 181 Nagaraj Balasubramanian
30 Bidisa Das 106 Ramkumar Sambasivan 182 Collins Assisi
31 Chayanika Shah 107 Ramya T. N. C. 183 Suhita Nadkarni
32 Chetana Sachidanandan 108 Riddhi Shah 184 Partha P. Majumder
33 Chinmayee Mishra 109 Rohini Karandikar 185 Soumitro Banerjee
34 Chinmoy Chatterjee 110 Rohini Muthuswami 186 Parthiba Basu
35 Debabrata Ghosh 111 Rupali Gangopadhyay 187 Imroze Khan
36 Debashis Ghoshal 112 Sabyasachi Chatterjee 188 Narmada Khare
37 Debashis Mukherjee 113 Saman Habib 189 Kazi Rajibul Islam
38 Debashish Goswami 114 Samriddhi Sankar Ray 190 Ushak Rahaman
39 Deepak Barua 115 Samudrala Gourinath 191 Koel Das
40 Deepika Choubey 116 Saroj Ghaskadbi 192 Abhishek Dhar
41 Devaki Kelkar 117 Satyajit Mayor 193 Savita Ladage
42 Dibyendu Nandi 118 Satyajit Rath 194 Kunal Chakraborty
43 Dinesh Abrol 119 Shailaja Sopory 195 Mahendra Nadkarni
44 Dinu Chandran 120 Shanta Laishram 196 Ashish Asgekar
45 Dipshikha Chakravortty 121 Shivprasad Patil 197 Supratim Sengupta
46 Dipti Jadhav 122 Shobha Madan 198 Malancha Ta
47 Divya Oberoi 123 Shraddha Kumbhojkar 199 U. K. Anandavardhanan
48 Gagandeep Kang 124 Shubhi Parolia 200 Dipendra Prasad
49 Gaiti Hasan 125 Sitabhra Sinha 201 Vidya T. N. C.
50 Gauhar Raza 126 Smita Krishnan 202 Parasar Mohanty
51 Gautam Menon 127 Sorab Dalal 203 Felix Bast
52 Geeta Mahashabde 128 Spenta Wadia 204 C S Rajan
53 Geetha Venkataraman 129 Srikanth Sastry 205 Madabusi Raghunathan
54 Gyan Prakash 130 Sriram Ramaswamy 206 Chandan Dalawat
55 Harita Raval 131 Subhadip Ghosh 207 Shashi Mohan Srivastava
56 Harjinder (Laltu) Singh 132 Subhadip Mitra 208 Raj Kumar Manna
57 Imrana Qadeer 133 Subhash C. Lakhotia 209 Ramesh Sreekantan
58 J. G. Krishnayya 134 Suchitra Gopinath 210 Chaitanya Athale
59 Jagat K Roy 135 Sudeshna Sinha 211 Kamal Lodaya
60 Jayashree Ramadas 136 Sudipto Muhuri 212 Deepshikha Jaiswal-Nagar
61 Jayashree Sen Gupta 137 Sugata Ray 213 Apoorva Nagar
62 Joby Joseph 138 Sugra Chunawala 214 Parthasarathi Majumdar
63 Jyotishman Bhowmick 139 Sumeet Agarwal 215 Aneesh PremaBalakrishnan
64 Jyotsna Dhawan 140 Sumilan Banerjee 216 S. Akshay
65 Kapil Paranjape 141 Surendra Ghaskadbi 217 Juie Shetye
66 Karthikeyan Vasudevan 142 Swapan Chakrabarti 218 Dipankar
67 Kartik Shanker 143 Tapan Ghosh 219 Naresh K Chandiramani
68 Kumarjit Saha 144 Tapan Saha 220 Debasis Mondal
69 L. S. Shashidhara 145 Tejal Kanitkar
70 Madan Rao 146 Tushar Vaidya
71 Madhavi Reddy 147 V. S. Sunder
72 Madhulika Srivastava 148 Vidita Vaidya
73 Manisha Gupte 149 Vijay Chandru
74 Mayank Vahia 150 Vineeta Bal
75 Mayurika Lahiri 151 Vivek Borkar
76 Medha S. Rajadhyaksha 152 Vivek Monteiro

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“Vote out the division of our people; vote out inequality; vote against violence, intimidation and censorship.”

https://thewire.in/politics/200-writers-appeal-to-citizens-to-vote-out-hate-politics

200 Writers Appeal to Citizens to Vote out Hate Politics

“Vote out the division of our people; vote out inequality; vote against violence, intimidation and censorship.”

New Delhi: Over 200 Indian writers on Monday issued an appeal to Indians to vote out hate politics in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections and vote for a “diverse and equal India”. The signatories include Amitav Ghosh, Arundhati Roy, Girish Karnad, Nayantara Sahgal, Jeet Thayil, Romila Thapar and Vivek Shanbhag.

The writers issued the appeal in English, Hindi, Marathi, Gujarati, Urdu, Bangla, Malayalam, Tamil, Kannada and Telugu languages.

“Our Constitution guarantees all its citizens equal rights, the freedom to eat, pray and live as they choose, freedom of expression and the right to dissent,” the letter says. “But in the last few years, we have seen citizens being lynched or assaulted or discriminated against because of their community, caste, gender, or the region they come from.”

The signatories said that voting out hate politics is the “critical first step”.

“Vote out the division of our people, vote out inequality, vote against violence, intimidation and censorship,” they said. “This is the only way we can vote for an India that renews the promises made by our Constitution.”

Read the full statement below:

§

Our Constitution guarantees all its citizens equal rights, the freedom to eat, pray and live as they choose, freedom of expression and the right to dissent. But in the last few years, we have seen citizens being lynched or assaulted or discriminated against because of their community, caste, gender, or the region they come from. Hate politics has been used to divide the country; create fear; and exclude more and more people from living as full-fledged citizens. Writers, artists, filmmakers, musicians and other cultural practitioners have been hounded, intimidated, and censored. Anyone who questions the powers-that-be is in danger of being harassed or arrested on false and ridiculous charges.

All of us want this to change. We don’t want rationalists, writers and activists to be hounded or assassinated. We want stern measures against violence in word or deed against women, dalits, adivasis and minority communities. We want resources and measures for jobs, education, research, healthcare and equal opportunities for all. Most of all, we want to safeguard our diversity and let democracy flourish.

How do we do this? How do we bring about the change we need so urgently? There are many things we need to do and can do. But there is a critical first step.

The first step, the one we can take soon, is to vote out hate politics. Vote out the division of our people; vote out inequality; vote against violence, intimidation and censorship. This is the only way we can vote for an India that renews the promises made by our Constitution. This is why we appeal to all citizens to vote for a diverse and equal India.

1 AJ Thomas 71 Gulam Mohammed Sheikh 141 Pradnya Daya Pawar
2 AR Venkatachalapathy 72 HS Shivaprakash 142 Prem Tiwari
3 Abhay Maurya 73 Hansda Sowvendra Shekhar 143 Priya Sarukkai Chabria
4 Adil Jussawalla 74 Hariyash Rai 144 Purushottam Agarwal
5 Ajai Singh 75 Harsh Mander 145 R Unni
6 Akeel Bilgrami 76 Hemant Divate 146 Rahamath Tarikere
7 Ali Javid 77 Hemlata Maheshwar 147 Rahman Abbas
8 Alok Rai 78 Hiralal Rajasthani 148 Rajendra Chenni
9 Amit Chaudhuri 79 Huchangi Prasad 149 Rajendra Rajan
10 Amit Bhaduri 80 Ishrat Syed 150 Rajesh Joshi
11 Amitav Ghosh 81 J Devika 151 Rajiv Ranjan Singh
12 Anand 82 JM Parakh 152 Ramprakash Tripathi
13 Anand Teltumbde 83 Jaidev Taneja 153 Ranjit Hoskote
14 Ananya Vajpeyi 84 Jaishree Misra 154 Raosaheb Kasbe
15 Ania Loomba 85 Jeet Thayil 155 Rakesh Tiwari
16 Anil Joshi 86 Jerry Pinto 156 Ravishankar
17 Anita Nair 87 Joy Mathew 157 Rekha Awasthi
18 Anita Ratnam 88 JV Pawar 158 Ritu Menon
19 Anita Thampi 89 K G Shankara Pillai 159 Robin Ngangom
20 Anjali Purohit 90 K N Panikkar 160 Romila Thapar
21 Anupama HS 91 K Satchidanandan 161 Ruchira Gupta
22 Anuradha Kapur 92 Kalpana Swaminarayan 162 Rukmini Bhaya Nair
23 Anuradha Marwah 93 Kalpana Swaminathan 163 S Joseph
24 Anvar Ali 94 Kavery Nambisan 164 Sachin Ketkar
25 Apoorvanand 95 Keki Daruwalla 165 Saleem Peeradina
26 Arjumand Ara

 

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100 filmmakers write to voters, urge them to remove BJP to save democracy

100 filmmakers write to voters, urge them to remove BJP to save democracy

9

As many as 100 filmmakers have signed a petition asking people of India to not vote for the BJP in this year’s Lok Sabha polls. Among the signatories are Anand Patwardhan, Anjali Monteiro, Devashish Makhija, Sandhya Goghale and Unni Vijayan.

 

Their joint petition stated that India was going through ‘the most testing times ever.’ adding that India’s cultural diversity was in danger. The letter read, “Our country is going through the most testing times ever. Though culturally vivid and geographically diverse, we have always stayed united. As a nation. It has indeed been a great feeling to be a citizen of this wonderful country.

“But all that is at stake now. Fascism threatens to strike us hard with all its might if we don’t choose wisely in the coming Lok Sabha election. Period.”

They went on to add that situation in India had changed alarmingly since the BJP came to power in 2014. The letter read, “As we all know, ever since the BJP came to power in 2014, things have changed. And only for the worse. A country polarised along religious lines isn’t the India we have known. Besides, the BJP and its allies have failed miserably in keeping their election promises.

“They are now using mob lynching and cow vigilantism to split the country communally. Marginalizing Dalits and Muslims is the name of the game. They are spreading their hate campaigns with the help of the internet and social media. Patriotism is their trump card. Any individual or institution that raises the slightest dissent is labelled ‘anti-national’. ‘Patriotism’ is how they grow their vote bank. Let us not forget that some of our eminent writers and media persons lost their lives because they dared to dissent.”

The filmmakers explained that exploiting ‘the armed forces’ had become one of the strategies for the BJP. The letter read that the BJP would even take India to an ‘unnecessary war’ if it suited their electoral agenda.

“There is unrelenting onslaught on the cultural and scientific institutions in the country. They mock the collective intelligence of the people by appointing persons with no relevance or experience as heads of these institutions, propagating unscientific and irrational beliefs even at international science seminars, making us the laughing stock of the entire world. Banning and censoring ‘works of art’, especially the most powerful of the lot – Cinema and Books – is their way of keeping the population away from the truth,” they added.

Saying that this was ‘our last chance’ the signatories to the letter urged the voters to cast their votes wisely.

Here are the signatories of the letter: Aashiq Abu, Abhijnan Sarkar, Abhro Banerjee, Ajayan Bala, Ambika Rao, Amitabha Chatterjee, Amshan Kumar, Amudhan R, Anand Patwardhan, Aneez K Mappila, Anirudda Sharma, Anjali Monteiro, Anupama Bose, Arun Karthick, Arun M, Arun N Sivan, Asha Unnithan, Babu Easwar Prasad, Baburaj V G, Baburaj Pandavath, Bina Paul, C S Venkateswaran, Dar Ghai, Devashish Makhija, Debjani Banerjee
Debalina, Deepa Dhanraj, Deepesh T, Dileep Daz, Divya Bharathi, Gobi Nayanar, Goutham Soorya, Gurvinder Singh, Indrasis Acharya, Indraneel Lahiri, Jayan Cheriyan, Jeeva K J
Jeeva Ponnuchamy, Jiju Antony, Jisha Jhelum Roy, Jubith Namradath, Kabir Singh Chowdhry, K B Venu, K P Jayashankar, Kombai S Anwar, Kamal K M, Leela Santhosh, Leena Manimekalai, Madhupal, Maheen Mirza, Malini Jeevarathnam, Manisha Korde, Manoj Kana,
M G Sasi, Miransha Naik, Maulik Raj, Muhsin Parari, Nishtha Jain, P F Mathews, Padmakumar Narasimhamurthy, Pradeep Nair, Pradeep Dipu, Prakash Bare, Pramod Payyannur, Prasanna S Kumar, Pratap Jospeh, Prateek Vats, Praveen Morchhale, Prem Chand, Priyanandanan, Pushpendra Singh, Rafeeq Ellias, Ranjith Sankaran
Rinchin, Ritesh Sil, Sajeevan Anthikkad, Saji Palamel, Sajin Baabu, Sanalkumar Sasidharan
Sandhya Goghale, Sanjay Wadhwa, Sanju Surendran, Santosh Babusenan, Sapna Bhavnani
Sarvnik Kaur, Satish Babusenan, Shaji Mathew, Sherief Easa, Sherry Govindan, Sreebala K Menon, Subhash KR, Sudevan, Sukhpreet Kahlon, Suman Mukhopadhyay, Sunny Joseph
Suresh Achoos, Unni Vijayan, Vetri Maaran, Venu ISC, Viju Varma, Vinu Kolichal

100 filmmakers write to voters, urge them to remove BJP to save democracy

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Muslim women of India unite against mob lynching… Read more at: https://english.manoramaonline.com/women/she-news/2019/03/29/indian-muslim-women-mob-lynching-laws.html

A group of Muslim women’s rights organisations released their manifesto for political parties in the run up the Lok Sabha elections, demanding a law against mob lynchings, The Times of India reported.

Apart from a special law against mob violence, the 39-point manifesto demanded a repeal of restrictions on the slaughter and sale of cows, asked for 33% reservation for women in Parliament, scrapping anti-conversion laws, implementing the Sachar Committee report on the socio-economic and educational status of the Muslim community, and ending female genital cutting, according to The Indian Express.

The manifesto also demanded that the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Ordinance, 2019 be scrapped, according to IANS. The ordinance makes the practice of instant triple talaq a penal offence.

Muslim women from across 10 states gathered in Delhi to release the manifesto, which listed demands related to gender equality, minority safeguard and citizenship rights. The women were organised under the banner of Bebaak Collective (voice of Fearless).

Khalida, whose husband Umar Khan was allegedly killed by cow vigilantes in 2017, was among the group of women who gathered in Delhi. “I live under constant threat,” she said, according to The New Indian Express. “Even attending court hearings has become extremely difficult because of threats we receive from fringe groups. I don’t want anyone to go through what my family is going through and that is why I request the political parties who is elected to power to frame law against mob lynching.”

Hasina Shaikh of Bebaak Collective said the government led by the Bharatiya Janata Party has strategically used Muslim women to polarise the community and criminalise the act of triple talaq through an ordinance. The collective was among the petitioners who challenged the validity of the instant triple talaq case in the Supreme Court.

“There is no doubt that the socio-economic conditions of Muslims were deplorable even before the current government came to power, but now the space to negotiate with the state through rights assertions or independent commissions has drastically reduced,” a statement released by the collective said. “The constant vilification of Muslims, under the current BJP-led government, has led to virulent attacks against them.”

Link: https://scroll.in/latest/918125/muslim-women-release-manifesto-for-parties-demand-law-against-mob-lynching

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United Against Hate: Civil rights groups showcase their resolve to counter hate mongering and demand accountability

Civil rights groups showcase their resolve to counter hate mongering and demand accountability

On Monday 18th March, several civil and human rights organizations came together to organize a day long convention in Delhi’s Constitution Club. The programme titled ‘Steps Towards Hope’ was aimed to take stock of the last four and a half years of the Narendra Modi led Government and the need to strengthen constitutionally mandated citizens’ rights. It was organized by United Against Hate along with PVCHR, PUCL(Delhi), United Christian Forum, Quill Foundation, Rihai Manch and APCR. The speakers for the programme included activists, journalists and lawyers who had brought to fore the issues where the current regime subverted rule of law. They pointed out instances where the current regime had either taken an active part in perpetuating lawlessness like the scores of extra-legal killings in UP or had been complicit in it by ensuring that perpetrators for violence against minorities roam free like Babu Bajrangi.

Rajeev Yadav of Rihai Manch, an organization that has extensively worked on hate crimes and failure of law and order in UP pointed out the ways in which violence is being deliberately inflicted to reap political dividends as most of the victims of such violence are from marginalised communities. Most of the victims of alleged encounters were also from lower castes. Fawaz Shaheen of Quill foundation from the figures researched by his foundation gave an estimate of 759 hate crimes during the current regime. He stressed that crimes of this proportion is a national crisis that is being perpetuated in a very planned manner. He also spoke about the need to recognize religious hatred as being a prominent constituent of such violence.

Niranjan Takle, the journalist who extensively reported on the suspicious manner in which Judge Loya died, spoke about the rewriting of history that is being done make heroes out of people who had capitulated in front of the British. These are symptoms of fascism that would engulf anyone and everyone who would come in its way.

Member of fact finding team that had visited Sitamarhi in Bihar after the custodial death of two muslim youth spoke about the conspicuous nature in which Gufran and Tasleem died and there was no action on the part of the state government to deliver justice.

Last several years were not just the times of assaults, they were also part of some spectacular movements. Activists and leaders also spoke about their struggle and the need to forge larger unity. Hannan Mollah, General Secratery of AIKS, under whose leadership many milestone Kisan marches were organised in various parts of the country gave solidarity to forging a larger unity of all the marginalised people to defeat the fascist powers. He gave importance to the need of mass movements and pointed out how because of the kisan marches, the plight of farmers has become a central election issue. This opinion was reiterated by Soni Sori, an Adivasi rights activist from Chhattisgarh working to save Adivasi land and livelihood. She narrated the way the government both at the centre as well as the state is pitting marginalised communities in Chhattisgarh in this case between Adivasis and Muslims to continue corporate plunders unabated.

Activists spoke about the many anti-people policies of the government and how through collective mass movements, its agenda of furthering Brahmanism and cronyism was pushed back as happened in the 13 point roster issue in university appointment positions as elaborated by Dr. Ratan Lal. Sanjay Hegde, advocate of Supreme Court focussed on the legal battles for securing justice in cases of lynching and hate crime and even the need to bring new laws to curtail and prevent the same.

A major part of deliberations in the programme though was perpetuation of hate and bigotry that has engulfed our civic life, its institutionalised nature and the need to counter it in a systemic manner. Manifesto Against Hate, a charter of demands and agenda against such systemic hate prepared by United Against Hate was discussed. Representatives of various opposition political parties were asked upon to respond with their agenda as to how are they going to counter such subversion of democracy with a definite political programme.

Sachin Rao of the Indian National Congress stated that in the land of Gandhi, any revolutionary movement has to be fought through non-violence and every social and political change has to be based on constitutional morality.

Ali Khan, spokesperson of Samajwadi Party stressed the need to address all the issues concerning the masses of this country. Yogendra Yadav stressed the need to reclaim the religion and composite culture of India by progressive and secular forces, something that has been high jacked by the fundamentalist forces.

This was supported by Kavita Krishnan of the CPI(ML) who also said that laws like the Cow Protection Act that are used as a pretext for hate violence should have no place in our statute books. Aam Aadmi Party representative Dileep Pandey said that BJP, which claims to be a party of Hindus is working to further its own interests and has nothing to do with the welfare of Hindus themselves.

Civil rights groups showcase their resolve to counter hate mongering and demand accountability

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‘Govt Revising Or Suppressing Uncomfortable Data’: 108 Economists, Social Scientists Raise Concern

‘Govt Revising Or Suppressing Uncomfortable Data’: 108 Economists, Social Scientists Raise Concern

The experts have appealed to all professional economists, statisticians and researchers to come together to raise their voice against the tendency “to suppress uncomfortable data”.

 

NEW DELHI — 108 economists and social scientists have expressed concerns over “political interference” in statistical data in India and called for the restoration of “institutional independence” and integrity of statistical organisations.

Their appeal comes against the backdrop of controversy over revision of gross domestic product (GDP) numbers and withholding employment data by the NSSO.

In a joint statement released on Thursday, they said that for decades, India’s statistical machinery enjoyed a high-level of reputation for the integrity of the data it produced on a range of economic and social parameters.

“It (statistical machinery) was often criticised for the quality of its estimates, but never were allegations made of political interference influencing decisions and the estimates themselves,” they said in an appeal.

HuffPost India’s recent report showed how the government inflated e-governance data to boost its Digital India initiative.

In their statement, the experts have appealed to all professional economists, statisticians and independent researchers to come together to raise their voice against the tendency “to suppress uncomfortable data” and impress upon the government to restore access and integrity to public statistics and re-establish institutional independence.

https://www.huffingtonpost.in/entry/govt-revising-or-suppressing-uncomfortable-data-108-economists-social-scientists-raise-concern_in_5c8b29f8e4b03e83bdbf0cf5?ncid=other_huffpostre_pqylmel2bk8&utm_campaign=related_articles

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