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Archives for : January2018

Roopa IPS writes letter protesting felicitation of her prisons nemesis, HNS Rao

“Here was a man who wanted to scuttle powers and functions of IPS Cadre post,” Roopa said in her letter.

In the latest episode of friction between Inspector General of Police (former Deputy Inspector General  Prisons) Roopa and ex-DIG Prisons HN Satyanarayana Rao, Roopa has written a letter protesting the Karnataka IPS Association’s decision to give Satyanarayana Rao an honourable farewell.

The IPS (Karnataka) Association has organised a farewell function to honour six IPS officers who recently retired, including Satyanarayana, on Wednesday evening.

In her letter, Roopa has said, “I hereby register my protest to giving farewell to HNS RAO, not for personal reasons but for the general cause of the IPS as such. Here was a man who wanted to scuttle powers and functions of IPS Cadre post.”

She later adds, “On one hand we keep saying in our IPS forums, that we should protect our interests, show leadership etc. On the other hand he is being felicitated even with his ANTI-IPS stand.”

Roopa, who had blown the lid off an alleged system where VIP prisoners like VK Sasikala used to get special treatment at the Parappana Agrahara jail, was sued for defamation by her immediate senior Satyanarayana for Rs 20 crore recently.

The then DIG Prisons’ allegation that Sasikala bribed her way into gaming the system, has angered her supervising officer Satyanarayana Rao. He had termed her nine-point-report to the government as “false”, and “baseless”.


Soon after the controversy broke, she was shunted out of her position and was transferred to traffic and road safety department, while Satyanarayana was allowed to retire in his position with some days left in his tenure.

You can read the full letter here:

I hereby register my protest to giving farewell to HNS RAO , not for personal reasons but for the general cause of the IPS as such. Here was a man who wanted to scuttle powers and functions of IPS Cadre post.

Even though the organisational chart said that DIG Cadre post will report to the head , ie DG/IG Prisons, he asked me to report to AIG Prisons. He asked me to route  files through AIG Prisons.  And who is this AIG Prisons? He is a person who joined prison department in a post equivalent to PSI in 1983. Have you ever seen a PSI in our department rise to the post of even SP? 

Prison officials used all mean methods to get promoted as DIG and then got a post created as AIG , claiming that AIG is above DIG. And how many years did the person serve as DIG Prisons before becoming AIG Prisons?  Only 3 years ! Well,  even IPS require minimum 4 years to get promoted after becoming DIG. And to such a post,  HNS Rao wanted IPS Cadre post to report . 

When I submitted to him that he is undermining the authority of IPS CADRE POST,  my words fell on deaf ears. My exact conversation with him was like this– ” Sir, you are an IPS, if you don’t protect our interest,  who will? Today, I am here. Tomorrow someone else would be there. These days batches are very big with 10 to 11 IPS coming every year to Cadre.  Why do you want them to suffer? If I report to the Prisons AIG , it will be a precedent.  And where on earth would an IPS report to a departmental person?

Even IAS, who are posted in any department as director or additional director will only report to the IAS boss and not the departmental man” . However, none of these he considered for reasons best known to him.On one hand we keep saying  in our IPS forums, that we should protect our interests, show leadership etc . On the other hand he is being felicitated even with his ANTI-IPS stand.The mental agony that I personally went through  those  days cannot be explained in words. But I’m not registering my protest for what pain he caused personally.  I’m only putting forth before you, the man who acted against interests of our service, the man who never stood for the  IPS colleague posted under him.

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Call them murders’: 75 manual scavenging deaths in K’taka in 10 yrs, zero convictions

75 Dalit workers have been killed in 34 incidents of manual scavenging in the last ten years in Karnataka.

In the wake of three more deaths of manual scavengers at a posh apartment complex in Bengaluru earlier this month, activists in Bengaluru called for the deaths to be termed ‘murder’ and questioned why no one has been arrested in connection with them yet.

In fact, the activists allege that the police is not serious about booking apartment owners in such cases – illustrated by the fact that in the last 10 years, not a single person has been convicted in the state for the death of these workers.

According to the All India Central Council of Trade Unions (AICCTU), 75 Dalit workers have been killed in 34 incidents of manual scavenging in the last ten years in Karnataka.

Questioning the lack of outrage against the deaths, All India Central Council of Trade Unions (AICCTU) state president S Balan said, “All 75 workers are Hindus. When Deepak Rao died, there were protests in coastal Karnataka. Same was the case when other RSS and Hindu workers died. Why are the deaths of these Hindus ignored? Are they not Hindus? Why do the so called custodians of Hindu culture not raise their voice against this?”

On January 7, Narayana Swamy (35), Mahadeva Gowda (42) and Srinivas (52) died after they had gone down a manhole inside the premises of ND Sepal Apartments in Somasundara Palya in HSR Layout.

No one has been arrested in connection with the incidents. While in some cases like the ND Sepal Apartments in HSR Layout, apartment owners were booked for negligence. “Someone should take responsibility for these deaths. Booking them for negligence is not enough. This is a murder,” added Balan.

Vinay K Sreenivasa of Alternative Law Forum (ALF) pointed out that no political party has taken steps to address the issue.

“They (the incidents) have happened when Kumaraswamy was CM, when Yeddyurappa was CM and now under Siddaramaiah and nobody gets arrested. If you can’t arrest officials, then we will protest and you can arrest us,” he said.

The AICCTU along with Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist)(CPI-ML), BBMP Guttige Powara Karmikara Sangha and the BWSSB Guttige Karmikara Sangha will come together to protest against untouchability, caste prejudice and the continued practice of manual scavenging in Bengaluru’s Town Hall on February 7.

Manual scavenging is banned across India, but that hasn’t stopped people in various places from making human beings enter manholes and sewers.

In March 2017 too, three persons engaged to clean a manhole had died due to unsafe conditions. At that time, it was a government body – BWSSB – which had outsourced the three persons to manually clean the sewer. 2 more persons were killed in May 2017 in Ubdur village in Mysuru and in an apartment in Whitefield.

Employing a manual scavenger has been made a cognisable offence with imprisonment and fine since 1993, the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act in 2013, and a Supreme Court ruling state the same.

But the banned practice continues to flourish across the country as the ban has not been enforced properly by the government or private parties.

In March 2017 too, three persons engaged to clean a manhole had died due to unsafe conditions. At that time, it was a government body – BWSSB – which had outsourced the three persons to manually clean the sewer. 2 more persons were killed in May 2017 in Ubdur village in Mysuru and in an apartment in Whitefield.

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NDA govt the most anti-farmer in India’s history

A large part of the agrarian crisis can easily be attributed to the NDA government’s policies, said Yogendra Yadav, leader of the Jai Kisan Andolan

‘Green paper’ says Centre has not helped farmers in crisis; net returns at MSP in last four years much lower than under UPA-II


Farmer groups on Tuesday termed the incumbent National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government at the Centre the most anti-farmer in the history of independent India and said its budgetary announcements were just grandstanding, with little action or money to back them.

Bringing out what they called a “green paper” on farmers, farming and the rural economy, the groups, including Jai Kisan Andolan in New Delhi and Rythu Swarajya Vedika in Hyderabad, said that during its four years in power, the NDA government demonstrated a lack of will to stand with farmers in the face of the growing agrarian crisis.

The organisations also listed 12 acts of omission and commission by the government that they said worsened the plight of farmers. Top among them was reneging on its promise of revising MSP (minimum support price) on a cost plus 50 per cent formula.

Not only was the formula not implemented, it was solemnly affirmed in the Supreme Court that it was unworkable, said Yogendra Yadav, political scientist and leader of Jai Kisan Andolan.

Cutting off funds

The cost of crop cultivation is underestimated at present. In 2015, the Ramesh Chand Committee came out with a better recommendation for cost estimation. The government is yet to accept it, even though Chand is now a Niti Aayog member looking after agriculture.

“This actually shows how seriously the government is looking at the problems of farmers,” said Kirankumar Vissa of Rythu Swarajya Vedika.

“Initially, this government made a determined bid to dismantle the MNREGA scheme. When the attempt was foiled by public opinion and the Supreme Court, the government has choked the programme of adequate and timely funds,” Yadav said.

The government, far from increasing public investment in agriculture, failed even to maintain existing levels. It actually passed on the burden of expenditure to State governments, leading to an overall decline in public expenditure in agriculture in GDP terms, the document said.

Similarly, the government shifted the debt-relief burden to States, which are doing a shoddy job of the loan waivers announced, it said. “This is despite the fact that much of the agrarian crisis can easily be attributed to the Central government’s policies,” Yadav said.

Calculations made by farmer organisations showed that the performance of the previous UPA government was far better. According to them, in 17 out of the 20 major crops, the net returns at MSP during the four years of NDA government were significantly lower than the net returns at MSP under UPA-II.

“This makes the betrayal of the promise by Modi all the more blatant, because the crux of his argument (before the 2014 elections) was that the net returns of farmers were low during UPA and needed to be raised significantly,” the document said.

Key demands

The farmer groups also placed a charter of 10 demands before the Finance Minister, who is presenting the Union Budget on Thursday. They include better MSP for all crops, an agricultural debt relief package of 2,00,000 crore, constitution of a permanent statutory Farmers’ Income Commission and setting up of disaster mitigation fund of 25,000 crore.

“There is a need to create a credit guarantee fund to help non-land owning tenant farmers, share croppers and agricultural workers access institutional credit, said Avik Saha, national convenor of Jai Kisan Andolan.

Read full paper Kisan Green Paper Jan30 2018

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India – Will Finance Bill, 2018 see bombshell amendments again?

In 2017, the Budget process ended with a bang, as the Finance Bill saw a raft of amendments with wide ramifications tabled late in March, which many said had no place in a Money Bill

Every year, India’s Budget process takes place with a set chronology of events. Ten days before Budget day, the budget papers are sent for printing and the Finance Minister serves specially prepared halwa to all Finance Ministry officials and support staff involved in preparing the papers, who then remain sequestered in North Block till the budget is presented, to prevent any leakages. Then a few days before Budget Day, the Chief Economic Adviser presents the Economic Survey, and we will learn the Finance Ministry’s view on the economic developments in the country over the past year and growth projections for the next 12 months. Speculation about what the budget could bring then reaches fever pitch in TV studios right till Budget Day.

On the Day itself, as the Finance Minister reaches Parliament, his tightly closed briefcase carrying the Budget papers becomes the most photographed object in the country. The Finance Minister then presents the Budget in the Lok Sabha. As he announces each past achievement and future plan, the treasury benches indulge in an orgy of desk thumping. The Opposition rolls its eyes at some provisions and rages against others.

Pundits in TV studios and drawing rooms give expert pronouncements on the highlights. Some Indians will feel their wallets lighten; many will rage against the dying of the light. Arguments will break out between paan wallas and customers across the country as smokers object to the inevitable budgeted price rise being charged on cigarette packets still bearing the lower MRP.

The Finance Bill— which details the imposition, abolition, remission, alteration or regulation of taxes proposed in the Union Budget—is presented immediately after the Budget in the Lok Sabha and then goes to the Rajya Sabha, which can only make unenforceable recommendations, as Article 110 of the Constitution says that a Money Bill does not need the approval of the Rajya Sabha. Usually without much ado, the Finance Bill goes back to the Lok Sabha and on to the President for his assent. The Budget process ends.

But in 2017, something else quite significant happened, and we’re not talking about the merging of the rail and Union budgets. There was a proverbial sting in the tail. In late March, a raft of 40 amendments was sneaked into the Finance Bill, 2017 and passed by the Lok Sabha without much debate. These striking amendments:

  • made Aadhaar linkage with PAN card mandatory in order for PAN to remain valid, and for filing Income Tax Returns
  • provided extraordinary powers to Income Tax officials to search any person or property without giving any reason
  • allowed anybody to donate to political parties an unlimited amount, anonymously; the upper ceiling till then in existence had withdrawn
  • removed the cap on companies making donations to political parties
  • merged eight different tribunals—quasi-judicial bodies which exist for dispute resolution—into other existing ones. Earlier, members of these tribunals were governed by separate laws, some requiring recommendations from the Judiciary, some chosen by special steering committees. In 2017, the Centre usurped to itself more powers when it came to the right to appoint/ remove the members of the various tribunals, leading to possible conflict of interest as it is often a party before these tribunals.

The Opposition cried foul and very pertinent questions were raised about how such non tax-related amendments could be made through the route of the Finance Bill. But the Lok Sabha, where the government enjoys a brute majority, passed the amended Finance Bill and the Rajya Sabha, where the NDA government falls short of numbers, could neither reject nor amend the Money Bill. The amendments became law.

A 5-judge constitution bench of the Supreme Court is currently occupied with the issue of whether courts can question a decision by the Speaker of the Lok Sabha to specify a bill as a Money Bill.

As the issue remains undecided the day before Budget, 2018 is presented, we can’t help wonder what new surprises will be sprung on the nation, well after the last word has been spoken on Budget Day itself.

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India – Let us not mince words; forces that killed Gandhi have killed Gauri Lankesh

By Suman Priya |
'Let us not mince words; forces that killed Gandhiji have killed Gauri Lankesh'


  • The commemoration of 56th birth anniversary of Gauri Lankesh, who was shot dead by assailants on September 5 was held at Town Hall, Bengaluru
  • Witnessed by MLA Jignesh, Kanhaiya, Shehla and a jam-packed audience
  • Is the large crowd a sign that alternate forces are getting stronger against the fascist forces in Karnataka?

The commemoration of the 56th birth anniversary of Gauri Lankesh, who was shot dead by assailants on September 5 was held at Town Hall, Bengaluru, and was witnessed by all she considered as children including MLA Jignesh, Kanhaiya, Shehla and a jam-packed audience. The event was organised by the Gauri Memorial Trust.

Gauri’s sister Kavita Lankesh attended the programme, whereas brother Indrajit gave it a miss as he had arranged an alternate programme at Chamarajpet. The likes of freedom fighter HS Doreswamy, actor-activist Prakash Rai, CM Siddaramaiah’s media secretary Dinesh Amin Mattu, KM Neela, activist Teesta Setalvad and also Manipur activist Irom Sharmila were present, to show their solidarity with Gauri’s ideas and ideologies.

The Town Hall experienced a powerful event where people responded with enthusiasm to the appeals by speakers like Prakash Rai, Gujarat MLA Jignesh Mevani, the crowd-puller JNU’s Kanhaiya Kumar, the one who doesn’t like mincing words JNU’s Shehla Rashid, Umer Khaleed, and the one who stopped UP CM Yogi Adityanath from entering Allahabad University campus, Richa Sharma.

Most of them stated that RSS-BJP has to be trounced. People should understand the reality and should defeat BJP in the coming elections in Karnataka.

Two books in memory of Gauri Lankesh were released on the occasion. Kanhaiya’s slogan of Azadi pulled a large crowd chanting the slogan and Sheetal Sathe’s ‘songs for freedom’ were the highlights of the event.

To help the Trust, which aims at re-starting the publication of Gauri Lankesh Patrike, which was earlier run by Gauri Lankesh, Prakash Rai bought a copy of the book at a cost of Rs  1 lakh.

Here is what the leaders expressed in their speeches.



Will be in Karnataka three weeks ahead of elections; Will join hands with Congress just to keep the fascist BJP away from the state. Let them speak about temple, love jihad etc. But we should speak about the need for employment, employment generation, and make the people, dalits understand how they are being cheated by the BJP.


I will not cry, nor have an emotional outburst on the day of my mother Gauri’s birthday, post her demise. Because this is the time to think and act, just like what was practised by Gauri herself. Yes, we will break into pieces, not the nation as the BJP claims, but practices of injustice and the theories of Sangh Pariwar, which tries to divide people. The situation of every Indian is like the man who has been looted but instead of getting justice, he is made to look like a thief and a villain. Let us walk in the path traversed by mother Gauri and not become prey to the ‘pure ideology’ trap.

Shehla Rashid

Let us not mince words, the people who killed Gandhiji in 1948 are the ones who killed Gauri Lankesh. The RSS needs to be stopped. Taking a dig at Yogi Adityanath’s Karnataka visit and speech on medical conditions here, Shehla said, “People of Karnataka do not need advice from a man who was responsible for the death of nearly hundreds of children due to lack of oxygen in his state, UP. The people of Karnataka should trounce BJP in the upcoming elections.”

There was also talk about Pakoda Protest, and its significance in the backdrop of PM Modi‘s statement. They were of the opinion that even pakoda-selling must be considered as an employment, so that tax is collected from them too.

Showing her solidarity with the event, though never had met  Gauri in her lifetime, Manipur’s iron lady, who fought against the draconian rule of AFSPA, Irom Sharmila, came to know about the event in the morning and travelled  to Bengaluru and took part in the programme.

Is the large crowd a sign that alternate forces are getting stronger against the fascist forces in Karnataka?

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Why peoples’ coalitions are uniting against Hindutva — the ‘new Peshwai’

Protests against attacks on Bhima Koregaon commemoration sees new alliances across community and caste.


The militant mass movement and the ensuing bandh in Maharashtra in the first week of 2018, spearheaded by Dalits and other marginalised groups, carried in their wake a swirl of an assortment of forces aimed variedly to either ride or repel this wave. On the one hand, there are those knitting new unities beyond caste and community, while on the other, there are few aiming to sharpen and consolidate old sectarian divides.

The unifying as well as polarising focal point has been the commemoration of the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Bhima Koregaon that signalled the end of the Peshwa rule at the hands of a British Army contingent comprising a large number of Dalit soldiers.

Remembering the past within the present

The context of their present will impel succeeding generations to remember and memorialise their past in particular ways. Historical events naturally get commemorated differently in different times. The Battle of Bhima Koregaon is a case in point.

The early commemoration of this battle by Mahar community leaders around the turn of the 20th century was witnessed after an 1892British notification demobilising Mahar troops and halting their recruitment, after the community was excluded from the Army’s listing of so-called martial races.

dalit-banner-1_013018030049.jpgHistorical events naturally get commemorated differently in different times. Graphic by Arun Ferreira and Vernon Gonsalves

At the time, the commemorative observances mainly highlighted the valour of the Mahar fighters and martyrs. Their prime purpose was to remind the British of the sacrifice and martial prowess of the Mahar soldier and point out the gross injustice meted out to the community by demobilisation, and thus press for resumption of their recruitment into the Army.

The context for Babasaheb Ambedkar‘s 1927 visit to the battle site was provided by his own historic launch that year of radical mass movements against untouchability. The Bhima Koregaon battle then naturally served as a potent symbol of militant struggle for the annihilation of the caste system. The battle became not only about the bravery of its warriors and their contribution to British victory, but also a remembrance of the smashing of the authority of a most viciously casteist Peshwa state apparatus that brutally inflicted the horrific code of Manu.

Bhima Koregaon as anti-fascist metaphor

In 2018, the context has been created by three and a half years of belligerent Hindutva rule at the Centre and in various states, with its rabid cocktail of blatant communal polarisation, increasing atrocities on Dalits, lynching of minorities, gender violence and bans on inter-community love enforced by ruling party storm troopers, state crackdown on dietary choices and clampdown on universities — all accompanied by a shrill pseudo-nationalist discourse that paints all dissent as anti-national.

The regime’s aggression has also been seen in the rapid, forced implementation of economic and political centralisation measures like GST, Aadhaar and demonetisation, which have favoured big capital and finance to the detriment of small business, farmers and the toiling classes.

Many of these decisions have had their opposite if not equal reactions and the ruling dispensation has been met with fortitude as much as fear. After an initial period of silent disquiet, pockets of opposition have risen from 2015 onwards — first from students and Dalit youth and then from ever-widening sections and strata.

With the ruling regime having similarities with Nazi Germany, more and more people are coming around to identify it as a form of fascism — Hindutva fascism. As resistance grows, coalitions of various sorts are emerging. While most remain focussed on the elections of 2019, there are also those who see the danger as more long term and want to build unities that will forge a front against fascism.

Front against fascism

The Bhima Koregaon Shaurya Din Prerana Abhiyan (Bhima Koregaon Day of Valour Inspirational Campaign) — a statewide movement with a march to inspire, the Prerna March, comprised such forces. It culminated at the Elgaar Parishad that was held on December 31, 2017 at Pune’s Shaniwar Wada, the historical seat of Peshwa power. The Abhiyan, with retired Supreme Court Justice PB Sawant as its chairperson, besides having a large number of Dalit organisations and leaders like Prakash Ambedkar, also had a number of non-Dalit bodies like the Maratha-based Sambhaji Brigade, OBC caste associations, Muslim-based parties and groupings from the Left.

The focus of the 200th anniversary commemoration was unequivocally on the fight against Brahminical Hindutva fascism. The central slogan of the campaign was “Bhima-Koregaonne dilay dhada; Navi Peshwai masnaath ghaada” (Bhima-Koregaon has shown the way; send the New Peshwai to its grave). By branding the present regime as a fascist “New Peshwai” and drawing a historical parallel with the “Old Peshwai” that was vanquished in 1818, the Abhiyan managed to capture the imagination of large sections who have been yearning to challenge the new regime.

Besides the major push from Dalit youth, the campaign appealed to the Muslim community, and also smaller OBC castes and progressive Maratha organisations.

These were the sections that reacted militantly and spontaneously throughout Maharashtra and even neighbouring states to the January 1 attacks by Hindutva organisations on the defenceless masses proceeding to Bhima Koregaon.

When Prakash Ambedkar gave the call for Maharashtra Bandh on January 2, it received massive support not only from these sections, but also from some students and the working class. The success of the bandh led to more organisations and leaders, even liberals and social democrats, gaining the confidence to lend their support.

dalit-assertion_013018025534.jpgBaji Rao II did not concede without a Bhima Koregaon; it is unlikely the New Peshwai will. Graphic by Arun Ferreira and Vernon Gonsalves

Repressive and divisive New Peshwai

This rising swell of support is being taken seriously by the ruling class and state repression on a mass scale — unprecedented in recent times — has been launched. Combing operations of mohallas and bastis, arrest of thousands of youth, including minors, mass beating and torture, are all intended at pounding the opposition into submission.

But the ruling Sangh parivar well knows that repression is a double-edged sword — it also begets resistance and has the potential to broaden and deepen the opposing forces. The more tried and tested model is that of divide and rule.  Parivar loyalists, Manohar Bhide and Milind Ekbote, who have been accused of masterminding the attacks at Bhima Koregaon are not the only forces at work.

Other saffron outfits are fomenting caste hatred, particularly among Marathas. They seem to be preparing for a caste or communal conflagration, which, if it takes place closer to the elections, could create the Hindu vote consolidation they need.

The possibility of Bhima Koregaon symbolism reinforcing identitarian divides, which has been raised from within the Abhiyan itself by one of its convenors, Anand Teltumbde, cannot be denied. This had been guarded against throughout the campaign with all efforts to make it as inclusive and unifying as possible.

It is perhaps a tribute to whatever success such unifying efforts accomplished that the ruling Hindutva forces, having recognised the danger to themselves, are invoking and provoking identitarian polarisation.

The coming weeks and months will see varied contestations between anti-fascist unifiers and pro-regime polarisers. During these testing times, those who initiated and those who later joined the Bhima Koregaon campaign to bury the New Peshwai will have to rise to the challenge of maintaining and growing the anti-fascist consolidation attained this far.

Questions of leadership

The immense mass support obtained by the campaign and the bandh has led many ruling class parties and leaders to jump on the bandwagon and announce their support. Congress, NCP, CPM and even NDA partners like Ramdas Athawale have announced “Save Constitution” rallies and caste amity gatherings.

While the demands raised by such mobilisations may not have much that is objectionable in their content, there may be a need to suspect their intent. Such elements have been known to hijack and divert movements in directions far away from their original objectives.

It is by these sections, as also from the state agencies, that the bogey of the “Naxalite leadership” of this movement is being raised. While the revolutionary Left has consistently had an association with and been a source of inspiration for militant anti-caste movements since the times of the Dalit Panther movement, Namantar and Riddles, through the protests against Ramabai firings and Khairlanji killings, they have not been in the leadership.

The leadership of the anti-fascist counter-offensive in the present phase rightly belongs to radical Ambedkarite leaders like Prakash Ambedkar, Jignesh Mevani, Bhim Army’s Chandrashekhar Azad and others. It is they who represent the sections who have, so far, most consistently been in the forefront of Dalit battles. It is they who have espoused a vision that transcends community boundaries and best encompasses most of the forces that can today be united.

While strengthening present unities, they will also be forging an alliance with farmers, unions, small business and other sections that see themselves as oppressed by the ruling regime.

A final word about the militancy and violence that has occurred during this movement, particularly during the Maharashtra bandh. A criticism from within the movement, which had similarly been raised earlier against the Bhim Army, is that the militancy is self-defeating.

Some, like Gopal Guru — who upholds the bloody battle of Bhima Koregaon and even links it to another very violent historical episode of those times, the French Revolution — wish to memorialise it in a non-violent  21st century avatar. But history often does not offer such luxuries to the oppressed.

The Peshwa Baji Rao II did not concede without a Bhima Koregaon; it would perhaps be far-fetched to expect the New Peshwai to be different.

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Judge Loya case: Admiral Ramdas files petition in SC

Admiral Ramdas filed a petition in SC on Jan 30 asking the court to investigate Judge Loya’s death & circumstances around it. We reproduce verbatim his public letter on why he filed the Petition

To Whom It May Concern

So why Am I filing a Writ Petition and PIL on the Judge Loya case? How and Why am I concerned?

  1. I have always been and remain a great believer in and follower of the Constitution of India which guarantees independence of the Executive, the Legislature and the Judiciary.
  2. The Constitution guarantees every citizen various freedoms, including the freedom of speech, freedom to practice the religion of their choice, and Right to life.
  3. Several events in the years since Independence have been indelibly imprinted on my mind from the time that I witnessed at close quarters, the horrors of Partition as a young lad growing up in Delhi in the 1940s. To mention a few – the ruthless slaying and pogrom let lose against the Sikhs in 1984; the inexplicable destruction of places of worship including the Babri Masjid in 1992 , and the deliberate killing of large numbers of Muslims in Gujarat in 2002. I continue to watch with mounting dismay, the current and continuous violations of basic human rights, attacks on minorities – especially Muslims and Dalits, and the systematic weakening and debilitation of all our established institutions, including the judiciary. As we celebrate the 68th anniversary of our Republic– each of these events listed above, represents a serious violation of the Constitution, for which I hold the Governments of the day accountable. It is certainly a time to take serious stock of where we have reached and how do we make the necessary course corrections before it is too late.
  4. I retired as Chief of the Naval Staff in 1993 after 45 years in the service of the Nation. I moved soon thereafter tolive in a small village, Bhaimala, in rural Maharashtra. I have constantly and continuously maintained a critical position about these continuing attempts to undermine and weaken the Constitution and the Democratic framework of the country, and how these affect the most marginalised. I have never hesitated in expressing my views and my unhappiness at these developments in unequivocal terms. These have often taken the form of letters addressed to the topmost leadership in the country .
  5. These include one written in October 2015 to the then President and the Prime Minister – expressing my shock at the series of events taking place around the country; then one in 2017 to Shri Ram Nath Kovind jee, the Honorable President and Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, soon after his election , concerning the growing intolerance and deteriorating civil military relations among other matters.
  6. The latest letter was written by me to the CJI and the CJ – Bombay High Court, written in November 2017, raising my concerns about the mysterious circumstances surrounding the death of Judge Loya , as outlined in the Caravan Magazine in Nov 2017. This was mainly to urge the Chief Justice of India and the Chief Justice of Bombay High Court to constitute a high level Judicial Enquiry /SIT into the matter and to thus restore public confidence in the image of the judiciary and the highest court in the land – ie the Supreme Court.
  7. I have been motivated primarily by an abiding consciousness of my duties as a citizen of India and a proud member of our Armed Forces. I have always sought to communicate my views and disquiet on matters of state, directly to the leadership of our nation from time to time, or whenever, in my perception, we seem to be losing our way and moving away from the broad pathway or Dharma as laid down in the Constitution – which has always been my guiding light.
  8. So it is in this present case. I have already written expressing my strong discomfort at the series of disclosures and conflicting versions regarding Judge Loya’s sudden and untimely death. The recent Press conference by four of the senior most Judges of the SC only confirmed my own fears that all was not well – and therefore this writ, as a Public interest Litigation, seeking the Courts Directive to set up a high level judicial Enquiry under the direct monitoring of the SC. I am hoping that by so doing, I would add further weightage to the pleas already made , to inquire into this matter without further delay and further damage to our institutions.
  9. I am sharing my reasons for taking this action of seeking direction from the Highest Court in the land, primarily to allay possible allegations of vested interests that might have motivated me. I am 84 years old – and have been keeping indifferent health. I could just as well have kept silent and enjoyed my retirement. However, do I feel deeply that each of us has a duty and a responsibility to work towards realising the dream of building an open, tolerant, inclusive and diverse India – as envisioned in that great document -the Indian Constitution.
  10. My experience as a Lok Pal. It was this belief that led me to accept the responsibility of the role of Lok Pal of the Aam Aadmi Party from its inception till I was no longer required ! In keeping with my principled notion that such a role required complete and uncompromising objectivity and non partisan functioning, I never became a member of AAP or any other political party.
  11. I have never held a post retirement paid post – either in Government nor in any private for profit entity. I live primarily on my pension and interest on my few savings – and this has enabled me to play the role of an independent voice and critic without any fear or favour. Born in Mumbai; domiciled in Maharashtra; I am perhaps one of the few retired Former Chiefs who continues to live on the land allotted to me for my gallantry award of Vir Chakra after the 1971 operations.
  12. My wife and I have cultivated what was banjar land, and we continue to learn about organic farming and the struggles of our rural and farming community – the greatest education we could have had. For nearly twenty five years, we have worked with local communities and children in a number of educational activities ; have led struggles against take over of irrigated farmlands. We have both been deeply involved with work for Peace – in our region, especially with Pakistan, and for a Nuclear free India, a Nuclear free Asia and Nuclear Free World.

Laxminarayan [Ramu] Ramdas

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Karni Sena and Sanjay Leela Bhansali – Both United in misogyny #Vaw

For both Karni Sena and Sanjay Leela Bhansali, it seems the woman is either to be protected or possessed

padmaavat, karni sena, sanjay leela bhansali, deepika padukone, misogyny, rajput protest, swara bhaskar, bjp, jauhar, indian expressFor both Karni Sena and Sanjay Leela Bhansali, it seems the woman is either to be protected or possessed

I have just watched Padmaavat and cannot stop myself from penning some thoughts on the film. Let me begin with a strong rider that I am deeply disgusted and appalled by the vandalism and opposition of the Karni Sena to the film, and the complicity of BJP-ruled state governments. This is, indeed, a new low in the attack on the freedom of expression. But I want to steer the discussion to another aspect of the film, which has received relatively less attention. The film profoundly troubled me in terms of the gender, caste and religious identities that it upholds and celebrates.

By the end of it, I was squirming in my seat, and was also angry. I felt that there appears to be a deep affinity between the perspectives of the Karni Sena and Sanjay Leela Bhansali in terms of their representations of Rajput honour and women’s chastity. So the opposition to the film has nothing to do with hurt sentiments or “objectionable” portrayal of Padmavati, as per dominant Rajput understandings, and everything to do with political alignments. But let me come to a discussion of the film itself, which I think needs to be critiqued for completely different reasons, without imposing any censorship on it.


The film is, first and foremost, a valorisation of jauhar, a deeply retrogressive and barbaric custom, which needs to be trenchantly critiqued. It depicts a grotesque act through markers of beauty and aesthetics, eulogising jauhar as a site of Rajput glorification. The burning alive of hundreds of women, including pregnant women, all dressed in red, and thus frontally declaring their married status — the climax of the film on which Bhansali spends more than 15 minutes — far from representing a tragedy, a barbaric act and deep violence carried over women’s bodies, acquires an exalted stature, a celebration of Rajput rulers’ tradition and heritage. Before jauhar, Padmavati/Deepika Padukone is seen as taking permission from her husband Ratan Sen/Shahid Kapoor to commit it, stating that she cannot take her life without her husband’s endorsement, who in turn willingly agrees to it. Though the film carries a rider in the beginning that it does not support sati, there is a clear validation of jauhar, a deification of women, and a privileging of Brahmanical scriptures. Jauhar here is not only allowable, but positively laudable.

 The ideological and emotional coercion of women through a series of social, cultural and religious sanctions and ideals that glorify immolation as “voluntary”, carried out in the name of devotion, chastity and sacrifice, is actually an act of profound violence against women. The “true” wives, it is underlined in the film, have a moral right to end their lives in this fashion, and it signifies not “victimhood” but their “agency”. The woman’s worth is subsumed into that of her husband and her community. Jauhar is not the only marker of violence against women in the film. Padmavati is categorically told that she cannot interfere in political matters of the state by her husband.

Second, the film upholds the “pativrata dharma” as the ultimate expression of a “true” Rajput woman, personified in the figure of Padmavati. She is the perfect model of Hindu upper-caste Kshatriya womanhood. A Rajput coded Mewar admires Padmavati for her fidelity and femininity, which is represented as emblematic of their tradition. Padmavati is also repeatedly shown as hiding herself from “outside” men through purdah, as lajja is the biggest adornment of the Rajput woman.


Third, Padmavati’s moral disciplining is critically justified in the film through a language of protection. Rajput muscular pride rests on a gendered binary where Padmavati is metamorphosed into a symbol of sacredness. In a scene in the film, Alauddin Khilji/Ranveer Singh expresses a desire in front of Rana Ratan Sen (and other Rajput men) to meet other members of his family, including Padmavati. All Rajput swords are immediately out. Padmavati thus symbolises the exclusive preserve of Ratan Sen, and safeguarding her virtue is the sole prerogative of Rajput men. She is to be protected or possessed. She is inherently constructed as a marker of Rajput cultural identity and honour. She is the harbinger and spiritual essence of Mewar, cherished as most private and “purest”. In the name of “protecting” her, power is mapped over her body by denying her movement. There actually functions a grim coercive and disciplinary power behind avowals of love and protection.

Fourth, Padmavati is staged as a symbol of honour and prestige of all Rajput men of Mewar. Misplaced invocations of Rajput masculinity and pride underline a conservative mindset that privileges hegemonic Rajput patriarchies. This can aid the reassertion of a previously dominant Rajput elite whose political and social authority has been steadily undermined by the new political groupings and structures of power in independent India. The repeated calls for a masculinised Rajput male prowess in the film, and the luminous honour of the Rajputs, is predicated on the organisation of the darker social forces of Alauddin Khilji.


This brings me to my final point. The film strengthens the stereotypical constructions of the evil, licentious and sexually ferocious Muslim male, epitomised in Alauddin Khilji, lusting after the “pure” body of an upper-caste Hindu woman. There are no nuances or shades here. It is a stark black and white portrayal of the evil Muslim male and the ideal Hindu woman, underwriting an exclusivist grammar of difference. As a dangerously masculine and bestial barbarian, with long hair, kohl-marked eyes and deep cuts on his face, Alauddin Khilji/Ranveer Singh symbolises a spectacle of high sexual appetite and lecherous behaviour. The Hindutva politics of food is also implicitly played out in a scene in which Alauddin is depicted as devouring a huge meal filled with non-vegetarian food and hordes of red meat. The lust of Alauddin for Padmavati’s body symbolically intersects here with “grotesque” food, which contributes in the making of this “predatory” and “libidinous beast”, who is filled with dark thoughts, violence and hyper-sexuality.


It may be argued that the film is a representation of Jayasi’s Padmaavat, and remains true to it. But Bhansali takes many creative liberties in the film. Many other period, mythical and historical films — from Mughal-e-Azam to Jodhaa Akbar — have given space to multiple voices and perspectives. There can be many lives of the queen and diverse narratives. However, Bhansali has chosen to adopt a singular, unilinear narrative, with no complexities or nuances.

To conclude, the film upholds an upper caste, exclusivist and hegemonic Rajput perspective and nurtures a Hindu nationalist historiography that can provide fodder to the politicised Hindu nationalism of present-day India. It defines its cultural ethos largely in terms of patriarchal norms and Rajput identities, which is an impediment to values of autonomy and freedom, and the quest for gender justice.

United in misogyny

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Gujarat – Funds for Dalits used to make film on Vadnagar: RTI #WTFnews

Rathin Das | Ahemdabad

A documentary film on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s native place Vadnagar or television advertisements about the Statue of Unity can probably bring much relief to the plight of Dalits and tribals in Gujarat.

It would seem so if the Gujarat government’s answers to RTI queries are to be believed.

An amount of ` 4 lakh was paid from the SC, ST Sub Plan funds for a film on Vadnagar while another Rs 1.86 crore was spent on television advertisements about the Statue of Unity being built on an island inside the Narmada river downstream of the dam of same name.  These pieces of information have come out in reply to Right to Information (RTI) queries filed by the Council for Social Justice (CSJ) which sought to know how the funds allocated for SC, ST Sub Plan have been spent on the welfare of these deprived classes.  In its bid to project a pro-Dalit image, the ruling BJP often reels out the figures of Budgetary allocations for the deprived classes like Scheduled Caste (SC) and Scheduled Tribes (ST).

But, the replies received by the CSJ in response to its RTI application reveal that much of the funds allocated for welfare of SCs and STs are being spent on projects which have nothing to do with them.

Film on Vadnagar and television advertisements for the Statue of Unity are not the only non-SC, non-tribal schemes on which funds from SC-ST Sub Plan allocation have been spent.

Gujarat Government’s fortnightly ‘Gujarat’, carrying an annual cover price but distributed free to many, is printed with a fund of Rs 1.30 crore from the allocation for SCs and STs while Rs 5 crore from the same fund have gone for television coverage of programmes like “Vikas Yatra”, “Sauni saath, sauni vikas”, “government’s achievements” and the like.

As the SCs constitute seven per cent of population and tribals another 14 per cent in Gujarat, the Government is obliged to allocate total 21 per cent of its Budget for welfare of these communities, points out Valjibhai Patel, secretary of CSJ.

“But the funds are spent on schemes which have nothing to do with welfare of these SCs and STs”, adds Valjibhai.

Listing out more instances of SC-ST Sub Plan funds being diverted to other schemes, Valjibhai points out that another Rs 1.20 crore has been spent on advertisements welcoming Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Gujarat in April last year.

Other expenses for which funds from the SC-ST Sub Plan have been diverted include Rs 1.56 crore for advertisements regarding Independence Day in 2017, Rs 1.46 crore for television advertisements of scrap iron pieces collection campaign for the Statue of Unity and many other projects which bring no welfare to the Dalits and tribals.

Most startling revelation is spending of Rs 22.48 lakhs from this fund on printing of three lakh pamphlets containing message from the Chief Minister regarding Garib Kalyan Mela in November last year, during the time the Model Code of Conduct (MCC) was in force in view of the assembly elections in December.

Valjibhai Patel has dashed off a letter to the State Vigilance Commission demanding proper investigation into the scam of diverting SC-ST welfare funds for other purposes that do not benefit the Dalits or tribals.

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Beware the #MeToo Backlash—It Masks Ugly Lies About Women #Vaw

The backlash against #MeToo is gathering steam, with a chorus of voices raising concerns about “overreactions” to “minor” transgressions and citing threats to sexual freedom.

The #MeToo movement has launched a tsunami of discussion and awareness on systemic workplace sexual abuse and harassment, building upon decades of activism by the feminist and labor movements.

The backlash rests on two claims: First, good men may be undeservedly punished for their behavior as fairness and due process are discarded in the rush to appear on the “right side” of sexual harassment. Second, this is removing all the “fun” from male-female interaction.

I find these claims infuriatingly wrong.

The specter of many innocent men being accused of minor sexual harassment, losing their jobs, and being branded as sexual predators is extraordinarily unlikely. And it masks an underlying message that women should in fact put up with having their butts pinched, enduring offensive comments, and even having unwanted sex, all to avoid hurting otherwise all-around good guys. This idea relies on a pernicious stereotype: that women lie about consensual sex so often that society has to invent ways to ensure that innocent men are properly protected.

For example, many countries, including my native South Africa, until very recently had versions of the cautionary rule. This required judges to adopt a cautious approach to the evidence of certain witnesses on the basis that they are inherently unreliable and should not be believed without corroboration. The rule was most often used against victims of rape, a crime that disproportionately affects women, is disproportionately perpetrated by men, and mostly happens without witnesses. Undermining women’s credibility contributes to the low rate of prosecution and conviction in rape cases throughout the world.

While it is hard to quantify the rate of false reporting of any crime, research in the US, UK, New Zealand, and Canada put false reporting of rape at approximately eight percent. Human Rights Watch research has found that stigma around sexual violence creates a strong disincentive to complain, confirming other research that shows rape is a vastly under-reported crime. Our research in numerous countriesshows how discrediting victims of sexual violence, including workplace sexual harassment, has led to their complaints being ignored, dismissed, or not investigated.

The #MeToo moment is a direct response to a system that has punished victims, rather than the perpetrators, for coming forward. The answer to concerns about fairness and proportionality about penalties, however, is not to discredit victims or undermine their complaints about offensive speech, inappropriate touching, and harassment; instead, it is to ensure that we have fair processes to assess allegations and responses. This means that workplaces must put in place fair and transparent procedures to receive, investigate, and respond to allegations of sexual harassment.

The second argument is particularly infuriating since, yet again, it relies on stereotypes of women (especially feminists) as unable to take a joke or distinguish between a man making a clumsy misjudgment and a predator/serial offender—that we don’t like casual, no-strings-attached sex, harmless flirtations, or a little “fun” by the photocopy machine.

But the #MeToo movement is not about sex. It’s about the implicit system of power in the workplace: who has it, who exercises it, and who suffers due to lack of power. It’s about showing how this power imbalance pushes women out of the workplace, undermines their career progression, and prevents them from competing on an equal basis for jobs, promotions and training. Men have no inherent right to flirt with, kiss, or touch their co-workers. Women (and I assume, many men) generally do not go to work to engage in sexual foreplay, and they certainly don’t go to be harassed, threatened, or victimized.

Fortunately, the #MeToo movement and social media have shone a harsh spotlight on pervasive and depressingly similar sexual harassment in many sectors, and they are also helping to create the space for women to determine how and when sexual encounters happen.

Beware the #MeToo Backlash—It Masks Ugly Lies About Women

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