Why We Protested Against Narendra Modi


 Narandra Modi's Vibrant Gujarat Story: Propaganda vs Fact #mustread

By P. K. Vijayan & Karen Gabriel

09 June, 2013
Countercurrents.org

The past few days have witnessed the grand spectacle of Narendra Modi emerging as the front-runner for the post of Prime Minister, from the Bharatiya Janata Party. Our growing sense of dismay and foreboding at this spectacle has however, led to some annoyance, the essential refrain of which is, ‘Why not Modi? Why are you so hostile to him? Look at what he’s achieved in Gujarat – maybe it’s time he was given a chance to do the same for India….’ We were immediately reminded of how we were met with the same response when Modi came to Delhi University on 6 February 2013, and we protested.

At the time, he had visited Sri Ram College of Commerce (SRCC) in the University, ostensibly to deliver a lecture on ‘vikas’ (progress) and ‘development’. We, along with many others, stood outside SRCC throughout his talk, protesting peacefully but vehemently against him. The Delhi Police repeatedly lathi-charged us, used water-cannoning, and (in open collusion with ABVP activists) indulged in extremely communal and sexually violent abuse and molestation of the female protestors. Nine of the protestors (including one of us) were gratuitously charged under various sections of the IPC and the Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act, 1984, with rioting armed with deadly weapons, obstructing public servants, assaulting public servants, damaging property, etc. That matter is pending investigation with the office of the Lieutenant Governor of Delhi.

Why did this happen? Because we protested against Narendra Modi. At that time too, several colleagues, students and sundry well-wishers expressed bafflement: while they were sympathetic to us for what had happened with the police, they couldn’t understand why we were protesting in the first place. After all, Modi was just coming to deliver a lecture on development, and, as they saw it, he too surely had the right to freedom of speech. What, they asked, was the harm in listening to him? The subtle, implicit accusation was, we had it coming – and on two counts: one, because we ‘hypocritically’ violated our own principles by seeking to deny Modi his freedom of speech; and two, because we protested his airing his views on ‘development’. Let’s deal with the second count first.

Presumably, we would have been forgiven if we had been protesting against Modi for making say, an explicitly communal speech, or defending the carnage of 2002. Not for one moment did it cross our interlocutors’ minds that Modi speaking on ‘development’ was, in fact the implicit defence of that carnage. Here was a man projected in several quarters, not least in the business community that SRCC is so strongly connected to, as the future Prime Minister of India. This ‘lecture’ was his first major public event since this projection began: did they seriously expect that he would come to make incendiary communal speeches, just when he is being projected as Prime Ministerial material now? Obviously not!

But does that mean that the Modi of Gujarat 2002 has vanished, because he won’t talk that way – or even talk about it? Has the man responsible for the deaths of Muslims on a scale tantamount to genocide suddenly been absolved of that sin because he now speaks only of ‘vikas’? And ‘vikas’ for whom? Blatantly corrupt corporates and business houses? There are reports that the Gujarat government has lost thousands of crores of rupees in land sold to industrial houses like the Tatas, Essar and the Adani Group way below its market cost. According to the Planning Commission’s Suresh Tendulkar Committee, Gujarat has the fastest growing poverty rate in the country. There is ample evidence to show that, on major indices of human development, taken individually and together, like literacy, life expectancy, infant mortality, etc., states like Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu have done far better than Gujarat – but there is no call to promote these states as models of development. 44.6% of children under five in Gujarat suffer from malnutrition; the maternal mortality rate stands at 172/lakh, which is extremely high; sex ratios are far below the national average; the poverty rate in tribal areas is as high as 57% – one can go on rattling off the figures, but the point is clear: ‘development’ in Gujarat is neither particularly phenomenal, nor has it touched the masses.

No, the reason why Gujarat is being promoted is because Modi has wooed and welcomed big business investment on an unprecedented scale in Gujarat. This means big funding for his party as well: the BJP will be suitably and generously rewarded by the Tatas and Ambanis who are being fawned on so assiduously by Modi. Combine this with his well-known ability to rabble rouse through war-mongering, hate-speech and general communal machismo, and you have a lethal new political soft pornography. It continuously suggests, without making any explicit connections, that Modi’s communal machismo is what is needed for genuine ‘vikas’. It weaves a general discourse of ‘development’ as rampant privatization, through which big business brings malls full of consumer goods, high-tech cities with gated colonies and huge inflows of foreign direct investments. Just as soft porn offers an endless supply of sameness disguised as variety, but incites desire for this nonetheless by perpetually presenting it as exclusive, yet tantalizingly available – so too, this model of development generates a powerful illusion of choice and promotes it as exclusive, privileged, available only through investment in the new economy. And Gujarat 2002 flickers through it as the subliminal hardcore pornography of this discourse – gutted houses, dismembered bodies, raped and murdered women, slashed wombs spilling chopped foetuses, terror-filled faces screaming for mercy.

These images of the full fury of state power unleashed provide an important, implicit and tacit guarantee to big business: that as long as Modi is in control, and in their pockets, they need fear no unrest from the masses they will oppress and exploit, because Modi’s state has shown that it is more than capable of acting without any restraint whatsoever – legal, ethical, moral or constitutional. The message is clear, and from all evidence, thrilling to large sections of the middle classes: if you want to enjoy the luxuries of ‘development’, as tailored by wholesale privatization, somewhat paradoxically, you need a state that shows itself to be strong enough to push that through – violently, vehemently, viciously. Economic might is made possible, and accompanied, by brute force, and the thrilling, ego-boosting, endless middle class desire for that might is fully fulfilled in Modi’s display of force. This is what marks Modi’s promotion of the same economic model practiced by the Congress, as different: the latter is perhaps as communal as the BJP, but it still hesitates to communalize these same economic policies as openly as Modi’s Gujarat did. Which also means that if the Modi model gains ground, the Congress will not hesitate to adopt it – effectively intensifying both the communalist and neo-liberalist tendencies that are already seeping through our socio-polity.

This is what we were protesting against. Modi on ‘development’ is not separate – and must not be separated – from Modi on Muslims/Christians/communists. Modi on ‘development’ is as dangerous and poisonous as Modi on the need for genocide. Promoting Modi in Delhi University was an audacious initiative, aimed at testing his acceptability in a space like the university that is, by definition, supposed to be a progressive, democratic, secular space. We now know better. The university not only gave SRCC consent to invite Modi, but also permitted the deployment of a huge police force on campus, armed not just with lathis and the occasional side-arm (as would have been the case in the not-too distant past), but astoundingly, with assault rifles, a water cannon and even a few machine guns! The university administration was clearly not only signalling acceptability to Modi, they were rolling out the red carpet of the bruised and beaten bodies of protestors for him. And if the university can be successfully sold the idea that Modi is selling ‘development’, and therefore will be allowed to address the university community, even if protest has to be openly and brutally crushed for that, then the rot has set in far more than we had gauged.

Which brings us back to the first allegation – that we are denying Modi the right to free speech, which we ourselves insist on so vehemently. The ingenuousness of this argument is matched only by its convenience. Modi is the last person who needs someone rushing to his defence, to exercise free speech or anything else. Let us for the moment forget that he has never himself been a defender of this right. Let us remember instead some other things we forget when we make such an argument. We forget that freedom of speech is no abstract, absolute freedom but has restrictions on it that are also constitutionally pressed. We forget that the right to protest against Modi is as much a matter of freedom of speech; Modi’s right in this regard is neither superior to, nor more valid than ours. We forget that freedom of speech is not just a legal provision but is above all a political provision. We forget that, as a political provision, freedom of speech must necessarily be understood and exercised in the political context in which it is invoked. (If this was not the case, and if freedom of speech was an absolute right, all forms of hate speech, obscenity and other inflammatory discourse could happily take recourse to this and spew venom with impunity.) In this case, the context is crystal clear: Modi the Hindutva leader was selling ‘development’ as his political ride, from a communal-fascist Chief Ministership to a communal-fascist Prime-Ministership. We protested against Modi’s coming, therefore, on principled political grounds, without hate-speech or obscenity – but that is what we were rewarded with by the police and Modi supporters.

It is true that in this particular instance, Modi’s lecture on ‘development’ was unlikely to attract any of the constitutional restrictions on free speech. But, as we have already argued, the political context is vital in understanding the limitations of free speech. Which is why, in a context in which Modi is being openly promoted as the next Prime Ministerial candidate from the BJP, Modi on ‘development’ is as sinister as the openly communal Modi. ‘Development’ is the Trojan horse that Modi (and the BJP) is hiding inside, to ride to Prime-Ministership This is what we were protesting against. And in the heart of Delhi University, we found a quick, small replay of what happened in Gujarat in 2002: the police joined hands with the supporters of Modi to wreak vengeance against the protestors. This is the sign of the India that will unfold under Modi, and this is what we were protesting against. What is at stake is the idea of India itself, and if that is an idea worth protesting about, then many more of us should be protesting against Narendra Modi.

Dr. Karen Gabriel, Assoc. Prof., Dept. of English, St.Stephen’s College, Delhi University. Dr. Karen Gabriel has been writing extensively on cinema, nationalism, gender, and sexuality. She has been actively engaging especially with questions of state violence, repression, democratic rights, etc.

Dr. P. K. Vijayan, Asst. Prof., Dept. of English, Hindu College, Delhi University. He has written on masculinity and nationalism, and has been actively involved in addressing the policy change in higher education initiated with Delhi University. They have co-authored several pieces on various issues.

 

Delhi University’s caste counters spark outrage


 

Mallica Joshi, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, June 07, 2013

 First Published: 01:10 IST(7/6/2013)

“I feel I live in South Africa of the apartheid era.” The segregation is not along racial lines but at Delhi University‘s form counters, the caste divide is too evident and “humiliating” – as is obvious from the statement of a student who belongs to one of the reserved categories and doesn’t wish to be identified.

The university has segregated the sale counters on the basis of caste, a move antithetical to principles of social justice and inclusion.

On Thursday, at the faculty of arts, the busiest centre for sale of forms, paper slips in bold letters above the sale windows indicated the category of students the counters were meant for.

While two of the windows were marked general/OBC (other backward classes) forms, the remaining two had SC/ST/PWD (persons with disabilities) written on them.

Students, understandably, are not happy.

 

“I came here with a group of friends. While they are standing in the line for the general category, I have to stand in a different line,” said a student, who did not want to be named.

The university said they realised the mistake and assimilated the centres on Wednesday, the first day forms went on sale.

“It was decided in a meeting of the centre heads that no such distinction was to be made. We have informed everyone about the decision,” JM Khurana, dean, students’ welfare, said.

“It seems the change was not made at the faculty of arts. We will ensure that the notes are removed.”

 

Vina Mazumdar’s Rolling Story


vina
Pamela Philipose

Many known and unknown women have helped build up that seeming inchoate, open-ended, work-in-progress that is the Indian women’s movement. Among this remarkable sorority is Vina Mazumdar, known widely as ‘Vina-di’, who being endowed with tremendous energy, intelligence and an interest in ideas, has contributed immensely to the intellectual growth of this movement.

In her eighties now, Mazumdar has recently written a memoir, entitled ‘Memories of a Rolling Stone’, brought out by Zubaan. To have a woman who was a notable educationist, who anchored the 1974 Report of the Committee on the Status of Women, who is widely seen as the “grandmother of women’s studies in South Asia”, and who remains a feminist/activist/”trouble maker” to this day, set down her recollections of a lifetime spanning eight decades is in itself cause for celebration. So many of her contemporaries have, sadly, passed on leaving their footprints behind, but not their words. In her acknowledgements, Vina-di indicates one of the factors that motivated the work: “I view this book as part of my tribute to the Indian women’s movement to assert the rights they had earned through participating in India’s freedom struggle.”

The freedom struggle certainly helped to shape this young life. When Mazumdar joined the Delhi University, she could sense the political turmoil in the air. The Constituent Assembly was in session, and she would occasionally make her way to the visitors’ gallery to listen to a galaxy of leaders hold forth on their idea of India. One abiding memory was that of witnessing the Union Jack coming down and the Tricolour going up at Delhi’s India Gate, the other was of a caption-less David Low cartoon she saw in a British newspaper as a student at Hugh’s College, Oxford, which appeared soon after Gandhi’s assassination, depicting Socrates with the bowl of hemlock, Christ on the cross, and Gandhi with his ‘dandi’ (stick).

Here then was a women shaped by pre-Independent India, who would go on to try and shape, in her own way, post-Independent India. The challenges Mazumdar faced were many, and they included domestic upheavals caused by professional choices. There was also the backlash from entrenched hierarchies – notably during her courageous attempt to breathe fresh life into the stagnant academic scenario of the University of Berhampur in Orissa.

Relatedmore news tagged with “Feminist movement” ]

Meanwhile, the world began to focus more on women. The United Nations marked 1975 as the Year of Women, and went on to declare 1975-1985 as the decade of women. This meant that UN member-states had to submit Country Reports on the status of women in their respective countries. That was how fate and a visionary bureaucrat called J.B. Naik, conspired to introduce Mazumdar to the subject of gender. She was taken on as Member-Secretary of the committee that was drafting India’s report on the status of its women. The whole experience was to prove a life-changer. As Mazumdar puts it in her memoirs, “My earlier struggles represented an individual woman’s efforts to balance the demands of professional and familial responsibilities. The new struggle was increasingly a collective, ideological one – to rediscover the Indian nation, the world, the past, the present and the future – from the perspective of India’s hidden and unacknowledged majority: poor working women in rural and urban areas.”

The exercise meant, first of all, evolving a framework with which to regard the position of women in the country cutting across castes, classes, economic strata and religion and reorganising existing demographic data to yield its evidence of the large scale “marginalisation, poverty and invisibility” of Indian women caught in a “dual economy” (traditional and modern) – a concept borrowed from Gunnar Myrdal‘s ‘Asian Drama’. It was what Mazumdar describes as a “fantastic experience of the evolution and growth of collective thinking”. Despite occasional personal differences within the Committee, the process was driven by a “collective conscience”, as Mazumdar puts it.

There were major silences in the Report and Mazumdar recognises that the Committee did not pay sufficient attention to the issues of rape and dowry. Yet, it is no exaggeration to say the Committee on the Status of Women in India Report, which came out in 1974, changed the way the country regarded its women. It countered assumptions of the millennia, undermined government mindsets, helped unleash innumerable mutinies, and changed policies and laws. In fact, it was revolutionary in its impact, all the more remarkable for having emerged just before one of the darkest periods of recent Indian history – the Emergency. If the Committee, and its Member-Secretary, did not have friends and supporters in the establishment, it may have never seen the light of day. Today, decades later, Mazumdar, recalls with what one would imagine an impish smile, “Before the rest of the government could realise what the Report contained it was placed before Parliament, a report very critical of the Government of India.”

The realisation of the centrality of gender in society led to another significant process in which Mazumdar again played an important role, and that was the emergence of women’s studies as an academic discipline. Mazumdar sees the women’s movement and the women’s studies movement as “twin movements”, each influencing and furthering the other. The logical outcome of this process was the setting up of the Centre for Women’s Development Studies (CWDS) in May 1980, with Mazumdar as its founder-director. It was at this point that her concerned elder sister, observing Mazumdar’s penchant for embracing ever new challenges despite the fact that her daughters still needed her attention, termed her a “rolling stone” – the title of the book.

But the stone, despite such apprehensions, rolled on nevertheless and invariably into fresh fields. This included a project that came to define Mazumdar’s contribution as a social analyst-activist. To put it in Mazumdar’s own words, “Our (CWDS’s) real journey of discovery began at the ‘Reorientation Camp for Seasonally Migrant Women Labourers’, organised by the Department of Land Reforms, Government of West Bengal, in Jhilmili village in Banjura district.” That encounter with tribal peasant women proved to be an “unusual alliance of a social science research institution and groups of the poorest, migrant rural women”, and to Mazumdar it showed the possibility of arriving at development with a human face.

The CWDS had its plate full. There were a plethora of concerns that needed scholarly scrutiny, ranging from the resurgence of the practice of ‘sati’ in some pockets to one of the most serious demographic challenges facing India today: the skewed sex ratio.

When ‘Memories of a Rolling Stone’ was released in Delhi, Brinda Karat, senior Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader and general secretary of the All India Democratic Women’s  Association, spoke for many when she observed how Mazumdar helped bring women together. Said Karat, “This was because she was convinced that if things have to be changed on the ground, it has to be a joint effort… Vina-di put things in a wider perspective, which could draw the Indian women’s movement forward. This helped it to retain a dynamism that has petered out in many movements in the West.”

By arrangement with WFS   

 

 

Say goodbye to the Delhi University you knew


The proposed four-year undergraduate programme will stratify society even more effectively than the current system
G. Sampath, Livemint
A file photo of Dinesh Singh, vice-chancellor of Delhi University. Photo: HT
A file photo of Dinesh Singh, vice-chancellor of Delhi University. Photo: HT
Delhi University (DU) is in turmoil. Vice-chancellor Dinesh Singh wants to scrap the existing three-year undergraduate degree course and replace it with a four-year undergraduate programme from the academic year starting July 2013.
A large number of faculty members and students are opposed to the very idea of converting to a four-year system. An even larger number are upset by the haste and secrecy with which the vice-chancellor is pushing through far-reaching changes in the curriculum.
It would be misleading, however, to see the proposed change as a manifestation of one man’s hubris. Singh’s endeavour is an important but still minor sub-plot in a larger narrative of transition, both within and outside the university. The central theme of this narrative is privatization.
Traditionally, in higher education, there has always been a clear demarcation between the two kinds of higher education: vocational training, which equips you with skills for the job market, and a broad liberal arts education that equips you with competencies so you can function as a politically mature citizen in a functioning democracy.
What the Delhi University vice-chancellor’s mutant baby, the four-year programme, will do is to jumble up the two and spit out quarter-graduates, half-graduates and almost-graduates who will have no option but to join some private institution or the other to skill themselves up into employability. Unless, that is, they are happy to be the bottom feeders of the labour pool.
As a DU lecturer pointed out (he did not want to come on record for fear of reprisals from the academic henchmen of the friendly neighbourhood vice-chancellor), the biggest impact of the proposed system would be a two-fold stratification—within academia and without—along class lines.
The internal stratification will be achieved through the “exit points”, which many DU academics have termed “social apartheid”. Basically, a student can opt out of the four-year programme after two years with an Associate Baccalaureate, or after three years with a Baccalaureate (the equivalent of a pass course). To get an Honours degree, you will have to spend a fourth year in college—one more than at present—which will obviously cost more money. In other words, the most important determinant of an Honours degree is your paying power and not merit.
The DU lecturer explains this with an example. “Let’s take two students, A and B. A is poor but brilliant. B is rich but academically weak. In the current system, A can get admission into a three-year Honours course on merit. If she can rustle up the tuition fee, at the end of three years, she will be an Honours graduate. B, given her low percentage, will simply not get admission into a DU Honours course. If she wants to do an Honours course, her only option is to do it in one of the expensive private universities by paying a few lakhs.
“But in the proposed FYUP (four-year undergraduate programme), both A and B will get in. Given her financial and other vulnerabilities, it is very likely that A will opt out after three years with an inferior degree, while B will emerge with an Honours after four years, thanks to her financial staying power.”
The new model will thus stratify society even more effectively than the current system, which is already a stratifying tool, heaping more privileges on the privileged, which universities generally tend to do (a phenomena well documented by sociologists such as Pierre Bourdieu). That was internal stratification.
Once these pseudo-drop-outs (or drop-outs-with-certificates) go out into the real world, they would obviously not be able to compete for opportunities with those who completed the four-year course. They would thus become the next lot of subalterns in the knowledge economy. And the elite would enjoy the benefit of a legitimizing ideology—university-certified merit—to justify the widening economic disparity and their own entrenched privileges.
All said and done, education is the most powerful tool for social mobility available to a citizen today. It is therefore the responsibility of any nation that believes in the ideal of an equitable society to make this tool available to every citizen. It was this vision of education as a social good that inspired independent India’s first National Education Policy, based on the Kothari Commission Report of 1966. But contemporary India’s ruling elite seems less interested in social equity than in securing its privileges for succeeding generations.
So there is a simple reason for the haste and secrecy, not to mention the climate of fear that has marked the preparations for the DU vice-chancellor’s introduction of the four-year programme: it will not survive a process of democratic debate and pedagogic scrutiny.
DU is probably one of the few public universities left in the country today that can give private universities a run for their money. It represents the best of the old regime. Its continuing pre-eminence lends credence to the argument that a state institution can deliver quality education on par with global standards of excellence. Therefore, as was done with Air India, it is necessary to destroy it in order to make a watertight case for handing over higher education to private capital. Why else would you add an entire year to an undergraduate course, increase the workload on teachers, overburden the exam infrastructure to breaking point, and yet refuse to fill the 3,000 odd vacant teaching posts, or invest even a wee bit on university infrastructure?
The vacant teaching posts will be filled, if at all, and infrastructure will be improved, if at all, when DU welcomes private investment, if at all – not before. In the meantime, as the four-year programme unleashes chaos and confusion, as it will, the best of the faculty and students will abandon DU and migrate to other alternatives, which will be—no points for guessing—private universities.
Recently, I was surprised to discover that two eminent sociologists who I was used to identifying as DU academics are now faculty at OP Jindal Global University and Shiv Nadar University, respectively. I’m sure there are sound reasons—and academic ones—why they found DU less attractive than these private universities. But it should surprise nobody if, over the coming months and years, the best of DU’s remaining academics—including all the Marxists—follow suit, and end up at one or the other of the private universities.
Of course, all this makes eminent sense from the perspective of the market. After all, how can DU get away with charging Rs.16,000 or less for a course that a private university might sell for Rs.2 lakh, and that too with faculty far less distinguished than DU’s?
Once DU is taken care of, it would be much easier to replicate the academic mutation in the rest of the state universities. DU’s agitating teachers are battling not a misguided, authoritarian vice-chancellor, but the larger agenda of privatization, of which he has made himself a convenient tool. As things stand, the odds are in favour of the vice-chancellor and against the survival of DU as we know it.
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#India – Disastrous Consequences of Four Year Undergraduate Programme (FYUP) of DU


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 Delhi University, a premiere public funded central university, is a coveted higher education institution for millions of students across the country for itsaffordable high quality education. This status of Delhi University has been seriously threatened by the forced and mindless implementation of the FYUP by the DU VC Dinesh Singh. In spite of serious concerns raised by numerous noted intellectuals and teachers about the academic and pedagogic flaws of the FYUP, the VC has remained intolerant to all concerns and has repeated the rosy dreams and false claims of “employability” flexibility” and multidisciplinary approach” of the FYUP. It is high time we make an honest factual assessment of the dark reality lurking behind the false claims made by the FYUP because it is the students who will suffer from these changes in the University.

It is significant that ALL the established decision-making and course-making norms of DU have been bypassed in the unseemly haste to push through the FYUP. The FYUP goes against the National Curriculum Framework – but such a major change is being bulldozed through in spite of the opposition of the most respected educationists and academic voices of the University and the country. And the VC who is projecting himself as a ‘flexible modern reformer, is so scared of debate that he took pains to systematically deny the DUTA any venue inside the University to hold meetings and GBMs on University premises! A new low for campus democracy was reached on 12 May when the venue for the DUTA GBM in a college was cancelled at the last minute.       

How FYUP adversely affects the lives of Students

1.     To get an honours degree the student will have to bear the financial burden of an extra year. The VC sheds crocodile tears for the economically deprived sections but conveniently forgets that thousands of students are forced to spend an exorbitant amount of 10-12000 rupees per month in food and lodging over and above the college fees while studying in DU. With the FYUP, students will have to bear this extra amount for another long year for a degree which students from other universities will complete in three years.

2.     The students’ entry into the job market will be delayed by a year and the DU 4 year graduates will lose the precious opportunity of appearing in competitive exams for a year.

3.     Since FYUP is at variance with the National Curriculum Framework of 10+2+3, students emerging from DU with 2, 3 and 4-year certificates will face serious incompatibility in proving “equivalence” while joining other courses, institutions and Universities.

Is there enough class room space to accommodate the 54000 new students who will enter the university with the addition of an extra year? It is a well known fact across the colleges of DU that the colleges are suffering from serious shortage of space and more often than not fails to accommodate all the students under the 3 year programme. After the OBC expansion the funds received by the corrupt DU administration has been criminally wasted in mindless beautification drives without any attempt to enhance class room and laboratory space in the colleges. The VC has been responding with absolute irresponsible nonchalance when ever this issue has been raised. Can we allow the students to suffer academically when such primary infrastructural requirements like classrooms are not adequately met?

Teachers: What is even more alarming is the fact that DU is running severely short of teachers. With not a single appointment in last 3 years there are 5000 permanent posts lying vacant across the 80 colleges of DU. The show is managed by Ad hoc teachers whose job insecurity and rampant exploitation has made DU a most unequal university. The VC has developed the habit of rabidly slandering the teachers for raising genuine concerns about the shortcomings of FYUP while turning a blind eye to the glaring inadequacies with which the DU teachers are struggling daily. Can any University function in a sane manner when the majority of teachers are contractualized and are in a constant flux with no job security?

Dangers of Multiple Exit Degrees in FYUP

In the 3 year model DU offered two different programmes, 1) The BA, BSc, B.Com (Programme) courses and 2) BA, BSc, B.Com (Honours) courses.The Programme course and the honours courses were two separate courses with different curriculums, coherent and complete in themselves, offering the students with the choice to decide their courses according to their future career plans. The FYUP offers one single integrated course with a single “fit for all” curriculum with multiple exit points after 2 years (diploma degree), 3 years (bachelor Degree) and 4 Years (honours degree). This is disastrous for students for two reasons:

1.     Unlike a student from the 3 year programme who will have a complete degree in their hand the student from FYUP who exits after 2 years and 3 years with Diploma and Bachelor degree respectively will have an incomplete degree where s/he will only complete a certain number of courses of the entire 4 year programme. {2 year diploma will do 11 FC + 8 DC1+ 2 DC2+ 3 AC + 4 IMBH/CA course and 3 year Bachelor will do 11 FC + 14 DC1+ 4 DC2+ 5 AC + 8 IMBH/CA courses of the entire FYUP package of  11 FC + 20 DC1+ 6 DC2 + 5 AC + 10 IMBH/CA courses} The biggest concern is that the diploma and bachelor students will do a far lesser number of main discipline (DC1) courses.

2.     The FYUP programme will institutionalise the already existing high drop-out rate among DU students. The VC admitted as much in his Walk the Talk interview, where he said that 12% students drop out of DU without any certificate; the FYUP programme will equip such students with some certificate! Instead of seeking to correct the drop-out problem and ensure that students get a holistic and complete education, the multiple exit system is giving a ‘golden handshake’ of sorts to the students who, usually due to social and economic marginalisation, are dropping out.

3.     The biggest fallout will be in terms of the employability of the Diploma and Bachelor degree students who will exit after 2 and 3 years because they will be considered as students who failed to complete the entire 4 year programme. The multiple exit points of FYUP are therefore an open invitation to social discrimination among students.

4.     Instead of correcting existing the social-economic hierarchical divisions and ensuring that universities are an engine of social mobility, the FYUP programme will instead reproduce, perpetuate and justify these divisions: in effect saying, let the socially and economically weaker students get the ‘drop-out’ degrees and are thus available for lower-paid jobs, while only those who have the financial ability to sustain education for an additional year will have the privilege of getting higher-end jobs requiring the ‘Honours’ qualification.

Degradation of Curriculum

1)Foundation (faltu) Courses: The 10+2 students who enter DU after specializing in either arts, commerce or science to pursue further specialization in the specific stream or subject of his choice will now have to study 11 compulsory basic school level foundational course like maths, geography, business entrepreneurship, computer skills in their first 2 years. A student who has left maths or business entrepreneurship and wants to study a completely different subject will be forced to do all the 11 courses which are school level in nature. Doesn’t such an imposition of as many as 11 compulsory courses make the FYUP more rigid rather than more ‘flexible’ as claimed by the VC? One wonders how will doing school level courses guarantee employment in this highly competitive world where employers are looking for even greater amount of specialized knowledge and skills from their employees. Is the VC saying that a student who enters DU with the desire to develop himself/herself for knowledge-based high skilled jobs through the graduate course, should now be happy with the level of knowledge required for low-skilled and least-paid jobs alone?

2) Lower emphasis on Main discipline courses: In the 3 year model the honours subject papers which the student wanted to specialize constituted 75 % of the entire curriculum. IN FYUP with the student will do only 18 main discipline courses in 4 years while s/he will be loaded with 24 non-main discipline courses? (11foundation (faltu) courses + 5 extracurricular + 8 CA and ‘Integrated Mind Body Heart’ course) What is the point of burdening the student who wants to specialize in a specific subject with so many nonsensical courses?

3) Reduction of classes: The FYUP has reduced the number of weeks of teaching from 15 to 12.

In the previous model every paper with 3 units each was given 5 classes per week (roughly two classes /unit). In FYUP every paper has 4 units with only 4 classes (1 class/ unit). The VC should explain what great academic rigour will be accomplished by reducing teaching time in the university.

4) Training in Writing: In the 3 year annual model every student had to write 3 assignments and 1 project for each and every paper. This trained them in academic writing, enhanced their scholarship and gave them opportunity to do independent research. In FYUP students will not write a single assignment in the course of 4 years and only do 1 group presentation (7-8 students doing 1 presentation) for every paper. And yet the VC makes tall claims about developing skills and research potential of students.  

School of Open Learning

The VC has made ominous pronouncements in his TOI interview against the School of Open Learning which runs correspondence courses for students who cannot afford regular college education. The SOL will not come under the FYUP and therefore poor students who study in courses of SOL will not be able to join the regular course even if they perform well in their studies. This is a clear discrimination against the students of SOL who are ascribed the status of second class citizens within the same university. While there is need to address the problems of SOL it is absolutely anti-student to covertly derecognize the degree that this institution awards to lakhs of students.

With such glaring flaws and discriminatory content the FYUP will destroy the very basis of egalitarian quality education in DU. The stated aim of FYUP to judge education by economic value is the sweet coated poison that will pave the way of reducing DU into a private teaching shop that churns out semi-skilled students as a reserve army required for low-end jobs in the mushrooming corporate sector which subsists on ‘flexible’ low-paid labour. The FYUP actively institutionalises drop-outs and discourages students from pursuing higher learning and developing critical faculties which ought to be main aim of higher education as a social good in a developing country like ours.

We call upon all democratic sections of society to resist the disastrous anti-student, anti-academic ‘reforms’ of FYUP in Delhi University.

LDTF                               AISA

(Left and Democratic Teachers’ Forum)                                                     (All India Students’ Association)

Contact: 9868034224                                                                                   Contact: 9213974505

             9868337493                    

 

In Remembrance: Professor Lotika Sarkar (1923-2013)


Anuj Agrawal on April 8, 2013 – 
Dr Lotika Sarkar

“She wasn’t boring you know…most people today are boring. But she…. no, she wasn’t boring.”

Dr. Mithu Alur speaks in that lilting manner that some Bengalis possess; her words are spoken with a slightly musical intonation. It has been a few weeks since Dr. Lotika Sarkar’s demise and I am hoping that Dr. Alur, Sarka’s niece can tell me more about this great lady. Her description of Lotika Sarkar seems a bit odd; it is certainly unexpected. Yet, later on I would realize that it was an apt description, an honest one. Every once in a while, Dr. Alur glances towards the window and becomes silent, her eyes filling up with memories. At those times, all you can hear is the quiet hum of the air conditioner. Suddenly, Dr. Alur breaks away from the memories and looks at me once more, partly telling me and partly telling herself, “No, she wasn’t boring.”

Born in 1923, Sarkar was raised in one of the leading aristocratic families of West Bengal. Her father, Sir Dhiren Mitra, was one of the most reputable lawyers in the country.  Growing up, Lotika Sarkar must have had access to all the privileges of the wealthy and yet, her upbringing did not give her a false sense of entitlement. As Usha Ramanathan writes, Sarkar’s personality was characterized by the “unacceptance of nonsense, and a deep sense of fairness. No pre-judgment, no prejudice.” Sarkar went on to study at Cambridge, becoming the first woman to complete a Ph.D. from Cambridge. It would be one of many “firsts”.

It was in the 1960’s that Sarkar married her life-long partner, journalist Dr. Chanchal, the two settling down in Delhi’s Hauz Khas area. Sarkar was the first woman lecturer in the Faculty of Law, Delhi University. At the Faculty of Law (and later, the Indian Law Institute), Sarkar would take courses in criminal law.

Sarkar created quite a sensation as a lecturer.“She was a total non-conformist,” remembers Professor Archana Parashar, “yet [she] had this aura of authority and propriety around her.” Parashar, currently teaching at Macquarie Law School, first met Sarkar during her undergraduate days. She pursued an LL.M. purely because she wanted to study under Sarkar, an influence that was to continue when Parashar was working on her Ph.D. “I can unhesitatingly say that she was my mentor.” Prof. Amita Dandha, currently at NALSAR University, echoes similar thoughts. She says, “[To] meet with a woman professor who dialogued on vital questions of crime causation not by standing behind the lectern but by sitting on the table was more liberating than I then realized.”

And it was not only because Sarkar was one of the first to discuss the offence of rape in class, but also the manner in which she taught. Prof Ved Kumari who took Sarkar’s course on Juvenile Delinquency writes, “With her cigarette in hand, legs folded in her chair, having black coffee,” Professor Sarkar would discuss, “the humanity of law relating to children, offering tea to all the students.” It is so easy to imagine a prim and proper Lotika Sarkar, cigarette dangling from her hands, asking questions in clipped tones, really wanting to know what you thought. “Her big eyes would almost see through you,” writes Kumari, “[she was] very polite but firm.”

And it was not only Sarkar’s students who found out how “firm” Sarkar could be. Parashar remembers the time when some classes were scheduled to be held at ten in the night. “I told [Prof. Sakar”] that I would have to withdraw from the course as it was simply unsafe to travel by public transport after 10 pm. She stormed into the then Dean’s office and told that if he is scheduling classes at such times, he will have to personally go and drop every woman student to her home. Needless to say, the timetable was quickly modified.”

“We were Ma’ams bacchas”, smiles Prof. Dhanda, “and just like children, we would all vie for her attention.” Prof. Dhanda, Kumari, and Parashar were just three of Sarkar’s students who would later on work under and with Professor Sarkar. The relation would change from that of a teacher and a student, to that of a colleague, a relationship based on mutual trust, respect and openness. In the years that followed, Lotika Sarkar co-founded the Indian Association for Women Studies, the Centre for Women’s Development Studies, her work constituting some of the most influential writings in the field of women’s studies.

The Report of the Committee on the Status of Women, was probably one of the most exhaustive pieces of research conducted in the country. Constituted in 1971, the Committee was to study a host of topics including the changing “status of women as housewives and mothers” in Indian society. It is unclear what the government of India expected from the Committee; what ˆ clear is that the Committee took its mandate extremely seriously. Amongst other things, the Report included opinions on education and the problems of having different curricula on the basis of sex, the participation of women in the political process, and even the influence of popular media on women. Four decades down, it remains a remarkable and relevant document.

Sarkar would also receive much admiration after co-authoring an open-letter to the then Chief Justice of India, following the Supreme Court’s judgment in the Mathura gangrape. And even then, despite all the media attention, Sarkar remained endearingly down-to-earth. Remembers activist, lawyer and founder of Majlis law, Flavia Agnes. “When I met her just after the open letter in the Mathura rape case”, says Agnes, “She took my elbow and told me, ‘You know, I merely signed the letter without knowing any better. And now all these people are asking me to speak about rape. What do I tell them?’” Agnes breaks into a broad smile before continuing,  “And I actually believed her!”

In the decades that followed, Sarkar would become one of the most popular figures in the feminist movement; her writings shaping an entire generation of women’s studies, deeply affecting public perception, and leading to a series of concrete changes in existing legislations. This paper, on the changing landscape of the women’s movement is just one example of the kind of literature and research that Sarkar produced. Yet, even with all the adulation, the research, and the writing, there was so much more to this woman. Much more.

On a balmy evening in Bombay, a small group of people met to share their memories of Dr. Sarkar. Some of them had worked with Sarkar, others had been inspired, others yet simply want to share their memories. One by one, these men and women spoke in smiles, anecdotes and barely hidden tears, re-telling their memories of a person who led them to believe, to fight, to think. Most of all, the words described a person they loved.

Ram Reddy first met Lotika Sarkar and Chanchal Sarkar in the late ‘70’s when his family moved to Delhi; they were neighbors. Reddy speaks in short, concise sentences. The Editor of Economic & Political Weekly, his words are measured and to the point. . Yet, when he speaks about Lotika Sarkar (“my first and last Bengali aunt”), his composure seems to leave him for a few moments; emotion triumphs rationale.

“She had time for everybody,” he recollects, “and she simply loved talking with young people. Their house was always open for us youngsters.” He describes a house that was open to all, a house that not only welcomed and supported individual thought but one where you were treated as an equal. Over four decades, Reddy kept in touch with Sarkar, and her husband Chancal. Towards the end, he visited Sarkar for a specific reason. “I wanted my son to meet her, I wanted him to meet this woman who was so important to me,” he says, “I guess it was my way of paying respect.”

Respect. It is a word that crops up often enough when discussing Sarkar. Along with respect though, there is also love. I am back in Dr. Alur’s office and she has a mischievous smile on her face. She is recounting her days as a student. A sixteen-year old Alur and her friend had Lotika Sarkar as their local guardian when the two were studying at Miranda House. Alur recollects how Dr. Sarkar (or “Monu-pishi” as Alur called her) would anxiously wait for the two of them to come home from hostel, and if they were even late by a few minutes, they would be peppered with questions. And yet, the very same Monu-pishi would take a bus to Miranda House when Alur fell sick, carrying homemade chicken soup to nurse Alur back to health.

It is clear that Lotika Sarkar left behind different memories for different people; she was a teacher, a guru, and an inspiration to many. More importantly, she embodied the celebration of a life filled with laughter and joy, a life truly lived, a life that inspires even in its end.

 

 

 

(The author would like to thank Dr. Mithu Alur and Prof. Amita Dhanda for all their help and patience. Images of Dr. Sarkar provided by Dr. Mithu Alur)

 

#India – Fact Finding team including scientists, activists assaulted in Odisha #WTFnews


The PPSS condemns in unequivocal terms the assault on the  Civil Liberty Fact Finding Team ( Add MediaCLFFT) consisting of  Meher Engineer (Scientist, Kolkata),      Sumit Chakravartty( Editor, Mainstream Weekly), Manoranjan Mohanty (Former  Prof. Delhi University),Kamal Nayan Choubey (PUDR), Ranjana (PUDR), Pramodini   (PUCL, Odihsa), Mathew Jacob (Human Rights Law Network), Partha Ray, Sanhati, Sanjeev Kumar (Delhi Forum)when they were returning from  visit to our villages on March 9, 2013. We feel sad because they had come all the way from Delhi and Kolkota to find out truth relating to bombing and lathicharge that resulted in the killing of three of our men on March 2 and severe injuries of several women on March 7.

When the world was preparing to celebrates Women’s day, the village women of Govindpur , Dhinkia, Patanahat got brutally beaten up by police and goons close to armed police camp in Govindapur as they had gone there to demand withdrawal of police camp from the area and to allow them to live in peace on March 7 as continuous deployment of five platoons of police at Govindpur village has made life miserable for everybody. Police presence is also a major reason why bombing has taken place and we have lost 3 important lives. The presence of police is only encouraging the criminal elements to unleash a region of terror which was also experienced by the fact finding team on March 9, 2013.

Perhaps it does not require any emphasis that women are the worst hit in today’s situation. Our women don’t at all feel safe and the administration is fully aware of this fact. Despite that they are not doing anything which prompts us to say that they might be behind all these acts of violence. Everything could have come out in open by independent fact finding teams but now even such teams are attacked.

One can understand what might have happened to our women protesters on March 7. Around 2.30 p.m. on 7th March 2013, hundreds of men and women of PPSS came in procession and staged a peaceful demonstration near the Mangalapada police camp at the entry point of Gobindpur village demanding withdrawal of armed police from their locality. The police fired teargas shells and made a lathi-charge on the peaceful protestors as a result more than 40 persons have sustained injury. Women activists were cornered and beaten up by plain-clothed policewomen. Bilochan Khatua, Sulochana barik, Solia mallick, Sati Barik, Nayana Dash, Tulashi Dash, Basanti Mandal, Satya Mallick, Pravati Swain, Taaopi Samal , Lopa Samal and many more of Govindpur village were injured.

Women claimed that their eyes burned when the police fired teargas shells. This shows the government’s double standards. On one hand, the government is claiming that it was acquiring land peacefully while on the other hand it is using police force which is contradictory.

Meanwhile the South Korea’s Ambassador Kim Joong Keun visited Odisha on 6th march 2013. When people in the proposed POSCO project site are mourning the killing of 3 activists of the movement who were killed in a bomb attack on March 2, the Ambassador did not say anything to express his grief. He was obsessed with the progress of POSCO project.

We also condemn in strongest terms POSCO’s attempt to take Odisha Scribes for pleasure trip to outside. We also appeal friends from media please not to fall in the trap as people will lose complete faith in them.

Meanwhile , the CPI (ML) leader K N Ramachandran and Sarmistha Choudhury, who attended an anti-Posco meeting have announced a ’Jana Sansad’ at Jantarmantar in New Delhi on March 15 to protest ‘forcible’ land acquisition for POSCO.

Different social action groups organized a protest meeting over the  killing of Anti-POSCO Protesters and Forcible Acquisition of Land in Odisha, at Odisha Bhawan, 1 Niti Marg, Chanakyapuri, New Delhi, on 9th March (Saturday), 2013.

I am attaching herewith the statement of various social action groups on the murder of PPSS leader, Complaint to NHRC by Center for Legal Awareness and Human Rights (CLAR)  and the  latest interview of our activists Mr. Debendra Swain prepared by Video Volunteers. This is the link

 

We express our gratitude to all our friends for their support and circulating their statements.

We call on all democratic and progressive organizations and individuals to  condemn the blatant use of brute force through police as well as goons to brutally crush our democratic movement.

Kindly forward this mail widely.

Hoping for Solidarity.

Prashant Paikaray

Spokesperson, POSCO Pratirodh Sangram Samiti.

Mobile no – 09437571547

E- mail- prashantpaikaray@gmail.com

 

In memoriam: Lotika Sarkar 1923 – 2013 #womenrights #Vaw


February 25, 2013 

Lotika SarkarSaluting Professor Lotika Sarkar who fought to make the country’s laws uphold gender justice and women’s rights

By Vibhuti Patel

Professor Lotika Sarkar who played a central role in several path-breaking and crucial legislations for gender justice and empowerment of women during 1975-2005, passed away at the age of 90 on 23rd February 2013. In the women’s rights movement, she was known as Lotikadee.

When other stalwarts of women’s studies touched our hearts with inspirational speeches in the women’s movement gatherings, Lotikadee floored us with her legal acumen. The first Indian woman to graduate from Cambridge, Dr. Lotika Sarkar was the first woman to join the law faculty at the University of Delhi. She taught Criminal law and was a mainstay of the Indian Law Institute, Delhi during 1980s and 1990s. She was a member of the Government of India’s Committee on the Status of Women in India and a founding member of several institutions—the Indian Association for Women Studies (IAWS) and the Centre for Women‘s Development Studies (CWDS).

Lotikadee was in the peak of her career, when she was asked to join Committee on Status of Women in India, 1972 that prepared Towards Equality Report, 1974. As a pioneer in the fields of law, women’s studies and human rights, she prepared the chapter on laws concerning women in the Status of Women’s Committee Report with gender sensitivity and analytical clarity to promote women’s rights.

Along with three law professors of Delhi University – Prof. Upendra Baxi, Prof. Kelkar, Dr. Vasudha Dhagamwar, Lotikadee wrote the historic Open Letter to the Chief Justice of India in 1979, challenging the judgment of the apex court on the Mathura rape case. I remember cutting stencil and making copies on our cyclostyling machine of the 4-page long letter for wider circulation. Translation of this letter into Gujarati and Hindi served as a crash course in understanding the nuances of criminal justice system, rape laws and sexual violence as the weapon to keep women in a perpetual state of terrorization, intimidation and subjugation. It resulted in birth of the first feminist group against rape in January, 1980 – Forum Against Rape.

In 1980, along with Dr. Veena Mazumdar, Lotikadee founded Centre for Women’s Development Studies. When Lotikadee came to Mumbai for the first Conference on Women’s Studies in April, 1981 at SNDT women’s University, we, young feminists were awe-struck! Ideological polarization in this conference was extremely volatile. Lotikadee’s commitment to the left movement did not prevent her from interacting meaningfully with liberals, free-thinkers and also the new-left like me. Indian Association of Women’s Studies was formed in this gathering. In the subsequent conferences, Lotikadee attracted innumerable legal luminaries to IAWS.

At the initiative of her students, Amita Dhanda and Archana Parashar, a volume of Essays, Engendering Law: in Honour of Lotika Sarkar was published in 1999 by Eastern Book Company, Delhi.

Lotikadee and her journalist husband Shri. Chanchal Sarkar were kind, generous and trusting. After her husband passed away she was under immense trauma and grief. Taking advantage of this situation, her cook and a police officer whose education she and her husband had sponsored, usurped her property and house. Her students, India’s top lawyers and judges mobilized support and signed an open letter studded with such names as Justice V.R. Krishna Iyer, Soli Sorabjee, Gopal Subramaniam and Kapila Vatsyayan. Jurists, advocates, academics, bureaucrats, journalists and human rights activists signed the open letter demanding justice for her. Finally, Lotika Sarkar’s property and assets was transferred back to her to allow her to live her life in peaceful serenity, which she so deserved. Lotikadee’s traumatic experience invited serious attention on safeguarding the rights of senior citizens by both state and civil society.

Lotikadee was a conscience keeper not only for policy makers and legal fraternity but also for the women’s studies and women’s movement activists. The most appropriate tribute to Lotikadee is to proactively pursue the mission she started with her team in 1980, to fight against rape and various forms of structural and systemic violence against women and to strive for social justice, distributive justice and gender justice. The resurgence of activism against sexual violence and feminist debate around Justice Verma Commission’s Report as well as Criminal Law (Amendment ) Ordinance, 2013 constantly reminds us of the pioneering work of Lotikadee in terms of creating a strong band of committed and legally aware feminists who are following her footsteps. Let us salute Lotikadee, torchbearer of gender justice by continuing her heroic legacy.

Vibhuti Patel is active in the women’s movement in India since 1972 and currently teaching at SNDT Women’s University, Mumbai.

original post- http://feministsindia.com/in-memoriam-lotika-sarkar-1927-2013/

#RIP-Lotika Sarkar- Champion of #Womenrights #Vaw


 

lot

Feb 23, 2013- Professor Lotika Sarkar  passed away this evening at around 8.30pm at home. The funeral will be held tomorrow, Sunday 24th at 1:00 pm, at the Electric Crematorium, Lodi Road, New Delhi.

She was   India‘s first woman to graduate from Cambridge and a champion of women’s rights,

Professor Lotika Sarkar was widely-known pioneer in the fields of law, women’s studies and human rights. She taught criminal law and conflict of laws at the Faculty of Law, University of Delhi and has been an active member of the Indian Law Institute. She was a member of the Government of India‘s Committee on the Status of Women in India and has been a founding member of several institutions—the Indian Association for Women Studies and the Centre for Women‘s Development Studies.

Lotika Sarkar played a crucial role in several path-breaking legislations for gender justice. A Cambridge-educated lawyer by training, she was the first woman teacher of law at the University of Delhi.

Lotika Sarkar, RIP. One of the original Painted and Dented Ladies, she and three other professors of law wrote the landmark Open Letter to the Chief Justice of India in 1979, which sharply criticised the Supreme Court’s judgement in what has come to be known as the Mathura rape case and thereby catalysed the first major campaign for changes in the laws relating to rape back in 1980. It’s so important to remember and honour pioneers like her.

Read here Writing the Women’s Movement: A Reader

 

 

Bhag Modi Bhag: 3 eyewitness accounts from a protest in DU


FEBRUARY 8, 2013
by , KAFILA.ORG

Guest posts by CHANDAN GOMESAKHIL KUMAR and an ANONYMOUS student; photographs by CHANDAN GOMES, SHAFAQ KHAN

Photo credit: Chandan Gomes

No Space for Dissent

by CHANDAN GOMES

On 6th January, 2013 the usually quaint Delhi University transformed into a battle ground of ideologies. The road leading to Sri Ram College of Commerce (SRCC) where Narendra Modi was invited to speak at the Sri Ram Memorial Oration stands witness to all that went wrong day before yesterday.

The heavily fortified road was quiet until 3 pm, when a group of students marched through the faculty of Arts towards the gate opening right across SRCC. They were intercepted by a Delhi Police Unit close to the gate where every effort was made to contain them. In the brief tussle that followed, the DP Unit was overpowered and the protesters spilled onto the road raising slogans against the ‘Hriday Samrat’. Three rows of barricades were placed on either sides and in the middle stood a large number of Delhi Police personals armed with lathis and tear gas shells. By 3:30 the crowds had swelled and one knew that these young men and women will not go down without a fight.

Photo credit: Chandan Gomes

Barricades were rattled and black flags were waved. It was heartening to see so many women at the forefront of the protest. But it was equally disheartening to see them being subjected to sexist remarks by members of the very police force that claims to protect them. I noticed so many police men smirking, cracking indecent jokes and passing lewd comments in murmurs and whispers. And soon they were joined by ABVP/BJP activists who left no stones unturned to intimidate and humiliate those who were protesting.

While Modi supporters merrily loitered in the area where the police forces were stationed, those protesting against him were being subjected to water cannons and lathi charges. Many protestors were detained by the Police, some of whom were dragged over the barricades and shoved into a police van that was surrounded by Modi loyalists who attacked these unarmed, injured men. A young lady was also detained who too bore the wrath of their hatred – she was abused, mocked and subjected to a barrage of obscene comments. And all this was happening right in front of the press who chose to ignore this facet in their coverage of the event.

Yes the protestors were fiery and yes their body language was aggressive, but they did not resort to violence. Most of them were trying to push the barricades to move a little closer to the SRCC main gate. It is sad and shameful that there is no space for dissent for these young men and women in the very University that they belong to.

But there is a silver lining to the darkest of clouds – as these young men and women bore the brunt of mindless police action, they did not forget to help each other. They gave shoulder to those who were injured, they formed human chains. They shared stories and memories. For they knew they were bound to each other by compassion and empathy. Unfortunately our friends with lathis and guns are oblivious to this emotion. And I feel sorry for them.

The same holds true for the Modi loyalists, who touched a new low yesterday. Unfortunately for them, yesterday was also the day when the young men and women of this city touched a new high.

[See more photographs by Chandan Gomes.]

What Went Down at the Anti-Modi Protest at Delhi University

by AKHIL KUMAR

[An excerpt from Akhil Kumar‘s eyewitness account as published in Youth ki Awaaz.]

…The police did not even bother to conceal their support and tolerance for the hooligans of ABVP who even climbed on the water cannon and openly indulged in sexual harassment and violence. They passed lewd comments and made vulgar gestures standing right next to the policemen, I would have clicked pictures had my phone not been rendered useless by the water cannon. I was shocked to see that many teachers from Delhi University also openly threatening the protesters, abusing us with the most horrific expletives while their students brandished pointed sticks saying “khoon kar dunga”! We felt helpless and outraged at the police working hand in glove with the goons. When we broke through the first barricade, the police started bashing us ruthlessly with their lathis in full swing and they enjoyed every moment of it. They laughed, mocked us, hurled vulgar abuses and passed derogatory comments while hitting us. It was clear that they had no intention to disperse or control the crowd, they chased us down and dragged some of our protesters to their side of the barricade and left them at the mercy of the ABVP goons. A few girls fell down in the rush and the police trampled them, one of them was unconscious when we rushed to help and had to be taken to the hospital. The ABVP students openly threatened girls with comments like “Jo Gujrat me hua tha wahi tumhare sath bhi karenge”…

…The police trained their water cannon at us and I cannot forget the smirk on the face of the person who was operating it just before he started aiming at the defenseless protesters. I was caught in the jet and fell face down as it hit me straight on my legs, struggling to get up from the mud. I lost all faith in non-violent protests that very moment. I was hurt, shocked and infuriated; not that this was my first encounter with water cannons but because of the smile on the policemen’s faces as they enjoyed the brutality. When I again went to the barricade, I was beaten up and hit where it hurts the most; the excruciating pain in the knuckles and ankles stand testimony to that. Some of the policemen passed snide remarks and laughed at us all the while…

 

Photo credit: Shafaq Khan

 

The Anatomy of a Protest

by an ANONYMOUS Delhi University student

To say that Narendra Modi is a very divisive figure would be an understatement. A dear friend, who is an SRCC Alumnus, suddenly informed me a couple of days back on 2nd February that Mister Modi has been invited to visit her college to speak at the annual Shriram Memorial Lecture and the annual business conclave. She wanted to know what I thought of it when it was her own anguish that Icould sense in her words at not being able to do anything about this visit. I could not say anything; perhaps my silence conveyed enough of my sadness and helplessness at this. Then today in the morning of 6th February, the day of the visit, I was informed by another friend who is associated with AISA, they are going to register their protest against this visit which was going to take place today at 3 pm, asking me to come and be a part of it. The visit was something that I had conveniently put to the back of my mind, thinking maybe it would go away and was rudely reminded that reality does not afford you such luxury. So I went to attend the Protest and here is a brief account.

2:45 pm
I made my way to the front of SRCC gate and found that there were some media personnel, with their paraphernalia of cameras and other stuff and some other sundry people loitering around and a huge presence of Delhi Police personnel. I was wondering whether how many of these were there to protest this visit. Overhearing some of the conversations, it was clear that some were clearly fanboys of the coming visitor but some were curious to see the visitor and it is here i overhear for thwarting a shoe hurling incident, everyone’s been asked to take off their shoes before going into the auditorium at srcc. Alas, had no means to cross-check it. I am considering whether it would have been more prudent to protest inside SRCC. Some people who appear to be from Bihar by their accents are speaking how it is necessary to make Modi the Prime Minister to save the country from being destroyed by the Congress.

3:00 pm
Delhi Police gets into action and in a jiffy puts up layers of barricades which were already there and fastens up the barricades with a heavy rope on both sides to the university walls. It traps everyone who were till a moment ago thinking they had a good vantage point and are asked to vacate the area quickly, even those who were trying to go home. People are forced to climb over the walls of Arts Faculty and jump to safety on the other side
.
3:02 pm
Suddenly a group of people under AISA’s banner arrives on the scene, shouting slogans to the effect that Modi should go back and are met by the first barricade. The media persons present get into action trying to cover this but it is clear these are the small units, who have been denied entry inside the hallowed portals to cover the visit. The protestors group gets ranged against the barricade and the might of Delhi Police on the other side. This group is joined by more people soon of other leftist groups and slogan shouting, waving of black flags and placards, ensues.

3:12 pm
The restive group starts to push forward, wanting to go ahead, in this melee a female protester tries to get through the gap in the barricade and is manhandled and brutally pushed back by all male contingent of Delhi Police. The Police want to shove batons at the protestors and are continuously reminded by the protestors, they cannot do this. A quick aside, yes all the police personnel on duty were male and no female constable could be sighted till the end of the protest. The female protestor finally manages to push through and is immediately caught hold off by her hair and hauled off for her temerity to do such a thing. I am worried and fearful of her safety.

3:15 pm
This had a ripple effect and suddenly the crowd starts pushing at the barricade but is pushed back by the police by shoving their lathis and manhandling protesters. The barricade which seemed secure, beyond breaching is suddenly getting tilted towards the police. Sensing that they might not be able to hold on for long and it could cause some injury to them, i see a policeman untying and letting go of the rope tying the barricades. The police bandobust decides it wise to move back behind the second barricade. The slogan shouters move forward while very efficiently sidelining the fallen barricades for their fellow protestors. When all this protest started, a female got injured and fainted, had to be carried to the sidelines and it was a while before she was normal.

3:30 pm
Some more protestors join in, the slogan shouting reaches fever pitch. I spot a middle-aged gentleman wearing a devils mask and the famous Modi mukhauta pasted on his chest signifying his real character. His is quite a novelty. Somebody passes me a placard, which says killer Modi Go Back. It is my own for displaying till its end comes when it gets wet and wasted. The right flank of the protesters has females majorly, shouting slogans, holding onto the barricades. These female protestors i learn later took some of the worst abuse from the police and the pro-modi supporters group. People want to cross-over the barricades but cannot do much, except shout slogans to condemn Modi. The Police is saturated around the barricade, so much so that not an inch of light can pass between them it appears and is eyeballing the protesters. Some are abusing, some are asking the protestors to be in limits, some are telling them to go home but all this unsolicited advice has no effect.

3:45 pm
Suddenly a motley group of middle aged people under the banner of some organisation called NDTF arrives on the sight of the protest shouting pro-modi slogans. The protesters realise it is a well designed ploy to distract and divert attention, when the pro-modi protestors were allowed to assemble on the other side of the barricade from where his cavalcade was to come and not on this side. Suddenly a group breaks up and forms a wall of protestors to stop this group from going ahead and a slogan shouting war to out-shout the other ensues. Suddenly this group of NDTF, sees a kashmiri in the midst of the other camp and then the slogans progressively degenerate into ” babar ki auladon wapas jao”, ” Muslims are Terrorists” and much worse and targeted at that kashmiri protestor. Another surprise for me was to spot this group of IAS aspirants who are in delhi to prepare for this exam, who i knew from before and are not part of the university to suddenly emerge and join pro-modi slogan shouting with the NDTF group. There was a Sardarji distributing a pamphlet addressed to the Khalsa College Principal. There was placard asking for justice for Soni Sori too. There were placards asking why there were fixed salaries in academia.

4:00 pm
An anti-riot vehicle comes and stops at the sidelines and then a fire-brigade vehicle fitted with cannon for firing water comes and stops in front of the barricade. It appears inevitable that a drenching was in the works for those who were protesting. So as sudden as was the presence of the water cannon in the midst, so did it let loose a volley of water on anyone who chose to stay in its way or dared to protest. All this happening without provocation from the crowd. The checking of the water nozzle and then getting it ready to fire, seemed like something happening in ultra slow motion in a film, while in reality it was pretty swift. And so we had been all soaked in water for daring to protest.

4:15 pm
The protestors now started getting restive. They had been non-provocative but the police had replied with water cannon to get them to shut-up. Suddenly the cavalcade of Modi was visible and a crowd of ABVP supporters running after it. They obviously had a free run for they were supporting him. If this farce of allowing a protest was not enough, the NDTF got reinforcement in the form of SaveIndia.Org. They soon descended upon the scene with fancy placards and posters made out of flex, seemed like they were well prepared for this. This group then tried to make its way to the front of the barricade, continuously pushing and shoving. When they could not, they climbed up the walls which were forbidden for others to climb and made their way to the front from the right flank, manhandling and abusing the female protestors who were already present there.

4:30 pm
The protestors now did not want to wait behind the barricades. They had been patient but it had been tested by the uncalled for water cannoning the first time. Suddenly a group of ABVP protestors appears on the side of the police, unfurling a big poster of their poster boy and egging on the protestors to cross the barricade. These people appear to be special invitees to the protest by the police. No one is stopping them and they are going on, trying to provoke the protestors. Then a pro-modi supporter climbs upon the water cannon, unfurls a poster of mister modi and gives the finger to the protestors behind the barricade before he is asked to come down.

4:40 pm
Some people start pushing at the barricade and want to bring it down but the police will have none of it. All the policemen are holding on to the barricade as if their life depends on it. There is a tug of war happening. The protestors are pulling at the rope holding on to the barricade, hoping to bring it down. Then all of a sudden somebody from their ranks decides it is enough and charges in from the left flank with a baton in his hand. I spot somebody i have known from college in the front and it seems he is hurt, his very pained expression saying it all. This rampaging policeman is surrounded by protestors and sensing danger he stops, he is divested of his baton and is sent back across the barricade to be with his tribe and the baton safely put beneath a car before it can cause more damage.

4:45 pm
The water canon returns. The police have had it with these impudent protestors, who do not appear to have learnt their lesson. They spray and spray and some people again are running to save themselves, while some are facing it on. Now the anti-modi protestors all occupy the front line of protestors. The SaveIndia.Org people have mysteriously slinked back. It is back to sloganeering for registering protest. A pro-modi protestor is confused about the man protesting with the devil’s mask, whether he was on his side or on the other. A sardarji is patiently explaining to him, what his protest is all about, to show modi as a real devil behind the mask. The pro-modi protestor appears quite dazed on hearing this.

5:00 pm
I bump into my AISA friends, hoarse from all the slogan shouting and drenched completely. We are happy to see each other and relieved that they are un-hurt. I also manage to bump into this person who I knew, having seen him with a pained expression and it turns out to be true, he was hurt with a baton just below the eye. Then spot this female, who is limping without footwear as if she has hurt both her feet. I speak to her and ask her what has happened, which leaves me horrified. She was one of those people who were in the front of the barricade on the right flank and they were constantly beaten on their feet by the shoving of batons by the police and hurled the choicest of abuses and had been joined in by pro-Modi supporters. The police never change’s its stripes. Now a group of people from SIO have also arrived and waving their flag and shouting anti-modi slogans.

5:15 pm
Suddenly a contingent of policemen in riot gear has arrived behind the protestors and is standing at a distance. If facing the police from the front was not enough, there are more waiting behind their backs.

 

5:30 pm
People have started leaving now, having registered their protest vociferously and in a dignified manner. The police contingent in riot-gear is closing in now and is standing very close for comfort all of a sudden.

5:45 pm
The protest is officially over and all the protestors are hauled and taken in a procession to the Maurice Nagar Police Station. They are surrounded on all sides by the police and the ABVP protestors as they go to the police station shouting slogans.

Post-Script
A total of 18 people have been taken for a Medical Test( a medical test to ascertain if it is a Medico-Legal Case) because they are injured and Seven people were detained for trying to cross the barricade, who are all released in the end.

It was a smooth protest, done peacefully but how much of an impact it will have, I am not sure. Making our voice heard, registering our protest, yes we did. After all that is what democracy is all about, the right to be heard, the right to protest peacefully, without the fear of molestation or of violence by mobs of men ranged against your protesting. As a friend remarked at the protest, even if we could not make it inside the college, we did show that we did not agree and were not complicit in legitimizing Modi’s visit. Finally, I am left with a question in my head, whether Delhi University will ever be saved from its right-wing moorings.

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