Mother’s Day Proclamation – demand for disarmament and peace


The First Mother’s Day proclaimed in 1870 by Julia Ward Howe
was a passionate demand for disarmament and peace.

Arise, then, women of this day! Arise, all women who have hearts, whether your baptism be that of water or tears!

Say firmly: “We will not have great questions decided by irrelevant agencies. Our husbands shall not come to us, reeking with carnage, for caresses and applause. Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn all that we have taught them of charity, mercy and patience. We women of one country will be too tender of those of another to allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs.”

From the bosom of the devastated earth, a voice goes up with our own. It says, “Disarm, Disarm!”

The sword of murder is not the balance of justice. Blood not wipe out dishonor, nor violence indicate possession. As men have often forsaken the plow and the anvil at the summons of war, let women now leave all that may be left of home for a great and earnest day of counsel. Let them meet first, as women, to bewail & commemorate the dead. Let them solemnly take counsel with each other as to the means whereby the great human family can live in peace, each bearing after his own time the sacred impress, not of Caesars but of God.

In the name of womanhood and of humanity, I earnestly ask that a general congress of women without limit of nationality may be appointed and held at some place deemed most convenient and at the earliest period consistent with its objects, to promote the alliance of the different nationalities, the amicable settlement of international questions, the great and general interests of peace.

Biography of Julia Ward Howe

US feminist, reformer, and writer Julia Ward Howe was born May 27, 1819 in New York City. She married Samuel Gridley Howe of Boston, a physician and social reformer. After the Civil War, she campaigned for women rights, anti-slavery, equality, and for world peace. She published several volumes of poetry, travel books, and a play. She became the first woman to be elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 1908. She was an ardent antislavery activist who wrote the Battle Hymn of the Republic in 1862, sung to the tune of John Brown’s Body. She wrote a biography in 1883 of Margaret Fuller, who was a prominent literary figure and a member of Ralph Waldo Emerson’s Transcendentalists. She died in 1910.

 

Monsanto’s Deep Roots In Washington


seedling.jpg

By Russ Choma

 
It’s planting season, which brings to mind one of the most ubiquitous names in agribusiness: Monsanto

Love it or hate it — and there are plenty of people on either side — the company controls much of the agricultural market, and also sells products for the suburban yard such as the weed-killer Roundup. Roundup is the core of Monsanto’s agricultural breakthrough: The company produces genetically modified seeds that are resistant to the herbicide, making it easy for farmers to spray whole fields of soy or corn and kill only the weeds. Food production made easy.
On the flip side, environmentalists and organic food fans maintain there are too many unknowns and potential dangers involved with genetic modification. Monsanto, which last year had revenues of $11.8 billion, has become their bogeyman.

But such efforts as grassroots petitions and proposed legislation to require at least the labeling of genetically modified food have thus far withered on the vine next to Monsanto’s deeply rooted Washington presence, which has proved resistant to most lines of attack.

According to OpenSecrets.org data, in the first three months of this year, Monsanto spent$1.4 million lobbying Washington — and spent about $6.3 million total last year, more than any other agribusiness firm except the tobacco company Altria.

Monsanto’s interests in Washington are diverse. It lobbied bills ranging from the American Research and Competitiveness Act of 2011, which would extend tax credits for companies doing research, to several bills that would change the way the Department of Homeland Security handles security at chemical facilities — chemicals being a big part of Monsanto’s product portfolio.

And just as important as Monsanto’s legislative agenda for 2011 and 2012 is its regulatory one: the company’s lobbying reports list the departments and agencies it visited to talk to federal bureaucrats and appointees as they wrote rules to implement and enforce Congress’ handiwork. That explains why Monsanto reports having lobbied the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Food and Drug Administration, theEnvironmental Protection Agency and many other executive branch offices.

The FDA currently is the target of a petition signed by more than 1 million people, according to a sponsor known as Just Label It, asking the agency to require that genetically engineered food be labeled as such. The petition, sponsored by a coalition of environmental and food groups, is an attempt by activists to make an end-run around Monsanto’s Washington operation — a necessity because their lobbying dollars pale in comparison to the cash spent by Monsanto and others in the industry. For instance, one of the coalition members, the Environmental Working Group, has spent just $82,000 on lobbying this year — or about 5 percent of Monsanto’s total.

“The power of Monsanto, whether in the halls of Washington, or in farm country, should not be ignored,” said Environmental Working Group spokesman Alex Formuzis. “Monsanto comes armed with some of the deepest pockets and a bench of influential lobbyists, which makes the coalition’s efforts over GMO labeling on behalf of consumers a very tough fight indeed.”

Another upcoming matter of great interest to Monsanto: the new farm bill, an omnibus piece of legislation that sets the nation’s agricultural policy and deals with nearly every aspect of the country’s farming and food industries. The current bill expires in 2013; when it went through Congress, Monsanto filed more lobbying reports on it than any other organization. The process of piecing together a new proposal is already well under way.

The company’s access to members of Congress who are likely to be key in shaping the final legislation may be eased by the contributions of its very active PAC, the Monsanto Citizenship Fund. Already this cycle it has spent $383,000. The biggest recipient of that money so far is Rep. Frank D. Lucas (R-Okla.) who has received $20,000 from Monsanto’s PAC — $10,000 for his campaign committee and $10,000 for his leadership PAC. Lucas happens to be the chairman of the House Agriculture Committee — no farm-related legislation is passed without his say-so.

Monsanto has hedged its investment with the agriculture committee, though — it also gave $13,500 to Rep. Collin Peterson (D-Minn.), the top-ranking Democrat on the committee. So far this election cycle, Monsanto’s PAC has given $77,500 to 17 members of the House agriculture committee, or their leadership PACs.

Read original Post here

Ambedkar Cartoon Debate: A Perspective


 

Ambedkar Cartoon Debate: A Perspective

 

A raging controversy has erupted over a 1949 cartoon of Ambedkar and Nehru in a NCERT political science textbook, leading to an uproar in Parliament, and an announcement by the HRD Minister that the textbook would be withdrawn from circulation till the cartoon was removed.

We strongly condemn the attack by a mob on the Pune office of Suhas Palshikar, one of the authors of the textbook. Political leaders should stop orchestrating such violence, that smack of the right-wing assaults on dissenting voices. Debate on educational content is welcome, but cannot be dealt with through physical attacks. There is an urgent need to view the matter at hand in the light of reasoned debate. The note below is our stand on, and contribution to, this debate.     

 

On the one hand presence of the 1949 cartoon by noted cartoonist Shankar in the NCERT textbook, is being described as offensive to Dr. Ambedkar, and as part of a political conspiracy to denigrate Ambedkar. On the other hand, the makers of the textbook have resigned in protest against what they hold to be the infringement on academic freedom, and there has been an outcry against censorship. We hold that there is a need to go beyond these two polarized and black-and-white positions, and consider the issues involved, in a spirit of reasoned debate.

First, is the cartoon as it appears in the textbook, really indicative of a malign attempt to denigrate Dr. Ambedkar? To arrive at an answer, let us take a closer look at the concerned chapter, as well as the process of preparation of the textbook.

The concerned chapter, in which the cartoon in question appears, is titled ‘Indian Constitution: Why and How.’ The chapter closely examines the democratic goals, political debates and political interests that informed the process of preparing the Constitution. It is as such very sensitive to the question of caste and communal discrimination and civil liberties. For instance, the section subtitled ‘Limitations on the powers of Government,’ discusses a scenario where the authority empowered to make laws, enacted laws that imposed dress codes, curbed freedom to sing certain songs, or decreed that “people who belonged to a particular group (caste or religion) would always have to serve others and would not be allowed to retain any property” or “that only people of a certain skin colour would be allowed to draw water from wells.” It then explains how one of the functions of the constitution is to set limits on government’s powers, by specifying fundamental rights, civil liberties, and other principles that no government, as a rule, can trespass.

Apart from the Ambedkar-Nehru cartoon by noted cartoonist Shankar, there are several other cartoons that are featured in the chapter, each accompanied by certain thought-provoking questions, which can be answered by reading the chapter’s text itself. For instance, there is a telling cartoon, also by Shankar, on page 7, showing Nehru with two faces, one turned towards a concert of politicians singing Jana Gana Mana, and another turned in the direction of politicians chanting Vande Mataram. The text below comments “Here is Nehru trying to balance between different visions and ideologies,” and asks students to identify these contending forces and try and think about who would have “prevailed in this balancing act?”

The cartoon that is at the centre of the debate, appears on page 18. The text beneath it reads: “Cartoonist’s impression of the ‘snail’s pace’ with which the Constitution was made. Making of the Constitution took almost three years. Is the cartoonist commenting on this fact? Why do you think, did the Constituent Assembly take so long to make the Constitution?” If one reads the accompanying text relating to deliberations of the Constituent Assembly, the answer to the above questions that is suggested is certainly not that Ambedkar was slowing the process and Nehru trying to whip him into going faster. Instead, the text actually spells out the different contending ideas and the painstaking and time-consuming debates, in a very positive light, as an exemplary democratic process. It says, “The voluminous debates in the Constituent Assembly, where each clause of the Constitution was subjected to scrutiny and debate, is a tribute to public reason at its best. These debates deserved to be memorialised as one of the most significant chapters in the history of constitution making, equal in importance to the French and American revolutions.”

So, the textbook as such does not endorse the criticism of the ‘snail’s pace’ of the Constitution. Rather it presents the cartoon as a contemporary comment, and then asks students to consider if the comment is justified? It asks why did it take so long? Was the time for debate well spent? Isn’t it healthy for democracy to take a long time to work out a consensus through reasoned debates?

Further, it is also true that in the process of drafting the textbook, several academics, including leading dalit social scientists, were shown the textbook, who did not at the time make any objections to the inclusion of the cartoon.

A Case for Review of the Cartoon

A close reading of the chapter in the context of which the cartoon appears, establishes that the cartoon and the textbook were unlikely to be motivated by anti-dalit intent. However, that said, is the cartoon itself appropriate or sufficiently sensitive to the context of a society where biases against dalits continue to be rampant, and where dalits are often treated as and held to be subservient to upper castes, and where Ambedkar statues are often vandalised? Surely, there is need to subject the cartoon too, to the process of ‘public reason’ that the textbook itself upholds in its discussion of the Constitution?

The cartoon shows Ambedkar on a snail called the Constitution, driving it with a whip, and Nehru behind him, whip in hand, while the entire nation watches. The problem arises from the perception: is Nehru driving the snail with a whip? Or is he driving Ambedkar with a whip? If the latter, then the image of an upper-caste PM driving a dalit – that too a leading dalit figure who is an icon to the dalit community – with a whip, makes for uneasy viewing. That it did not rouse such a response in its own day, and that Ambedkar himself did not object, is beside the point. Today, the aroused political consciousness of the dalits has made us all more sensitive to such problems of representation, and rightly so. Similarly, many images of women which in 1949 might not have aroused comment, would certainly invite objections today. 

The NY Post once had to apologise after there was a furore against a cartoon it carried, depicting President Obama as a chimpanzee who has been shot dead by police officers, who comment, ‘They’ll have to find someone else to write the next Stimulus Bill” (the scene was a parody of an actual incident where a chimpanzee who violently attacked a woman was shot dead). The cartoon was, on the face of it, a comment on the ‘Stimulus Bill’ being introduced by the US Government. Now, cartoons depicting George Bush as an ape did not invite protest. But the depiction of the US’ only black President as an ape being shot dead, raised uncomfortable resonances of the long history and continuing racist culture of depicting black people as sub-human and inflicting violence on them. Is it not possible that the cartoon showing Nehru and Ambedkar might (perhaps without the intention of the cartoonists and the textbook authors) carry similar resonances evoking the history and continuing culture of holding dalits to be subordinate to upper castes, as ‘taadan ke adhikari’ (deserving of a thrashing)?

It is true that all those who prepared the textbooks, and the experts including dalit intellectuals to whom it was sent, did not, during the preparation of the textbooks, see the cartoon as objectionable. But if in retrospect, there is widespread resentment against one interpretation of the cartoon and the wisdom of its place in the textbook; if the cartoon is seen as having a (possibly unintended) potential to strengthen caste prejudices and distract from the overall spirit and purpose of the chapter, we believe there should be a review of the cartoon. We believe the authors of the textbook should be open-minded and willing to reconsider the wisdom of their choice, and that there should be a review of that cartoon in that chapter, by a panel of academics including the authors as well as leading dalit intellectuals. If the panel finds the cartoon to have any potential to strengthen casteist notions, it should be replaced with more appropriate content.  

 

No to the Culture of Censorship and Bans,

But Yes to Willingness to Revisit Textbooks in the Light of Democratic Concerns and Egalitarian Principles   

Should we support the ban on the cartoon and textbook imposed by the HRD Minister? In the first place, we question the commitment and concern of the range of leaders who are doing politics over the cartoon. After all, we wonder why not a single of these leaders – be it of the ruling Congress, or the Dalit and ‘social justice’ parties – is yet to raise any concern inside Parliament over the recent shocking acquittal of all the accused in the Bathani Tola massacre, where 21 dalits, mostly women and children were slaughtered by an army of upper caste landowners?

Secondly, we must recall the ugly precedents of right wing forces dictating bans and censorship of educational material – be it the question of beef-eating in textbooks of ancient history, the recent withdrawal of Rohinton Mistry’s novel in Mumbai University, or that of AK Ramanujam’s essay in Delhi University. A culture of political decrees on the content of our textbooks and curricula is extremely dangerous and unhealthy. Such educational material must be decided through a process of reasoned debate and discussion. And we should also not play into the hands of the prevailing culture of banning expressions of political dissent: Mamata Banerjee’s crackdown on a cartoon of her, and Kapil Sibal’s attempt to remove images critical of Manmohan Singh and Sonia Gandhi from the internet are cases in point.

However, while firmly rebuffing censorship and bans, we should always be willing to revisit educational material in the light of fresh concerns about upholding egalitarian principles.

 

Will Reviewing the Cartoon Be a Surrender to Attacks on Academic Freedom?

One question is being asked: “If we agree to review this cartoon in response to hurt dalit sentiment, tomorrow will we able to protest and object when right-wing groups demand deletion of anything claiming ‘hurt’ to hegemonic ‘Hindu sentiment’, as the saffron right routinely does?” This argument is flawed. There is a world of difference between amending a textbook to appease certain political or social groups, and between doing the same to uphold democratic principles and egalitarian values. After all, when the saffronised textbooks of the BJP regime were replaced, was it an act of censorship or ‘appeasing’ minority sentiment – or was it a necessary act of correcting bias? This time, too, the cartoon should be reviewed, not only because dalits say it hurts them, but because there is a possibility that it goes against egalitarian values and is not sufficiently sensitive to the dominant discriminatory culture that prevails in society.

Would review of the cartoon amount to denial of freedom of artistic or academic expression? No, because textbooks should be a collective endeavour, seeking to encourage and uphold democratic values and egalitarian principles. This particular textbook too is a product of such a process – and there is nothing undemocratic about revisiting that process in the light of fresh concerns about egalitarian values.

Kapil Sibal has hinted that all cartoons that ‘disparage’ any political leaders might be reviewed, and now other MPs too have objected to all the cartoons in the textbook, on the grounds that they show politicians ‘in a bad light’, and is therefore ‘dangerous for democracy’! This is preposterous and must be opposed tooth and nail. All public figures are legitimate subjects for lampoons, and banning such would amount to banning dissenting voices. Most cartoons in the textbook under question actually strengthen democracy by encouraging a questioning rather than reverential mindset in students. In this context, this particular cartoon of Ambedkar and Nehru should be reviewed, not because it is critical of leaders, but to investigate if it has a potential to reinforce discriminatory caste stereotypes, and to replace it in case it does so.

This particular cartoon in the textbook should therefore be subjected to a serious process of review by an appropriate panel of academics including the authors and other experts including leading dalit intellectuals. And if the cartoon is found wanting in sensitivity to existing discriminatory caste stereotypes in society, it should be replaced.

 

Issued by All India Students’ Association (AISA) and Left and Democratic Teachers’ Forum (LDTF) 


Contact: aisahq@gmail.com,   

Sunday Reading–Who’s afraid of Saadat Hasan Manto?


The Union of India is eager to embrace the great writer, whose 100th birthday falls on this week, as one of its own. But how would Manto have looked at India had he stayed on? By Garga Chatterjee


15 224 

The left-wing student organization I belonged to in my college days in Kolkata used to have a poster exhibition every year. This exhibition has begun to take place every year after the 1992 demolition of the Babri structure. One of them had those memorable words calligraphied red-black in a typical Bengali left-wing style – “The child noticed the coagulated blood on the road, pulled at his mother’s sleeve and said, ‘Look, ma, jelly’.” That, I discovered, was a fragment of a very short ‘story’; and to read the rest, I had to go to Manto.

Why did he leave Bombay? India would have been so much of a ‘natural’ home for him, they say

Article Box
Article Box

There is a lot of hushed and not-so-hushed lamentation in this year of Saadat Hasan Manto‘s birth centenary. Why did he leave Bombay? India would have been so much of a ‘natural’ home for him, they say. Somewhere between pronunciations such as these, so characteristic of the self-congratulatory strain of elite public-secularism and a second-hand appreciation of Manto’s raw exposition of the chasm between our private and public lives, somewhere between those things lies the attitude with which we in India look at Manto. The Anglicized literati and their patron, the Indian Union, wants to own Saadat Hasan Manto. They are masters at making cages for living writers – some gilded, others iron-made. Some cages become sarkari mausoleums after the writer’s death. Zoo tigers do not bite, generally. Clearly, the enthusiasm of some folks on this side of owning Manto comes from a hope that sooner or later, a suitably golden cage could be made for him in the Union of India, for us to cheer and clap at. But I am not so sure.

The Anglicized literati of India want to own Saadat Hasan Manto. They are masters at making cages for living writers

Article Box
Article Box

Today, in Delhi and other places, Manto is dramatized, commemorated, written and read, largely in English. Urdu’s currency as one of the pervasive languages of the common public sphere (and not ‘qaumi’ affairs) of the Upper Gangetic plain has seen progressive ruin. Read primarily in English, would Manto resign himself to having a smaller following than, say, Chetan Bhagat? Would Manto have loved this loss of readership, would he have wanted to be primarily remembered for getting a Filmfare award for “lifetime achievement” in writing stories for Hindi movies? I am not so sure. He might have written about the gosht the Union would serve up, not only mazhabi gosht, but gosht from a thousand faultlines. He might have written about the garam gosht cooked up in Delhi in 1984, when Sikhs were massacred on that city’s streets, or about the gosht of Muslims burned and killed in Ahmedabad in 2002, if he lived to be 90 years old. Would he, a “Muslim” writer in our times, not be accused of writing only against “Hindu” violence? I am not so sure. He certainly would have written about a lot of gosht served up in East Pakistan in 1971. He certainly wouldn’t have had a postage stamp of the kind issued in 2005 with his image on it. Dying young has its benefits.

Read primarily in English, would Manto resign himself to having a smaller following than, say, Chetan Bhagat?

Article Box
Article Box

He might have looked at the Saltoro range and the slow-killing heights of Siachen. He might have peered into that deathly whiteness, peered deep into it and among the frostbitten parts of the limbs would have located the new coordinates of Toba Tek Singh. Not content with “obscenity”, there might have been calls for him to be charged with sedition. That would have been true, irrespective of his leaving Bombay or not. He would have continued to write about the sensuality that permeates life in the Indian Subcontinent. Invariably, they would have intersected with more than one faith, belief and god(s), for they too pervade public life in the Union of India. Like Maqbul Fida Hussain, that sterling admirer of the goddess Durga who liberated her from the patently mid-19th century blouse-clad look, re-imagining the holy mother in her naked matriarchal glory, Manto’s run-ins with “public sensibilities” might just have been enough to eject him from Bombay. Almost surely, as it happened with MF Hussain, a robust on-the-ground counter to hate-mongerers would have been found wanting. Hardly being ‘Pak’, in the long run, perhaps he would have been easily pushed out of Pakistan also, where he “had only seen five or six times before as a British subject”.

Read more here

Archives

Kractivism-Gonaimate Videos

Protest to Arrest

Faking Democracy- Free Irom Sharmila Now

Faking Democracy- Repression Anti- Nuke activists

JAPA- MUSICAL ACTIVISM

Kamayaninumerouno – Youtube Channel

UID-UNIQUE ?

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 6,234 other followers

Top Rated

Blog Stats

  • 1,759,976 hits

Archives

May 2012
M T W T F S S
« Apr   Jun »
 123456
78910111213
14151617181920
21222324252627
28293031  
%d bloggers like this: