Altering the language of Justice: State violence and Legal battles

 

Lakshmi KTP

lakshmiforartiIn a deepening environment of utter dissatisfactions, depression, and negativity with the present state of affairs in the country with the Hindu state and its Brahmanic rule, it is important to talk about what solidarities should mean. It is very natural for one to stay back and say that there is nothing we can do because of the unimaginable enormity of the enemy and lose our 'hope' in the judiciary, state and the human rights discourse itself. One can be very secular and liberal in their beliefs and stay away from the matters of state. Because the very secular state makes them more or less immune to state indulgence as they are not impending 'threats' to the national security. They are not Muslims, Dalits, Adivasis or physically as well as multiply-disabled, those who are termed to be in need of the state "protection."

Some questions of anguish are emerging from people who believe themselves to be engaging in protests against the state violence on 'individuals': Why do these people still believe in the judiciary? What gives them hope in human rights discourse? Why Abdul Nasar Madani has to still 'cling' onto his belief in the judicial system of India? Why should Hadiya seek legitimacy for her conversion and marriage in front the same state which 'victimizes' her? These are questions that provide utter hopelessness and negativity to the whole movement and transformative political engagements that are happening now. One is forced to lose hope in slower legal struggles and live in the dreams of 'radical' changes. One has to understand on a deeper level, the engagements of these 'individual victims' with the state and legality. It is always easy to ascribe victimhood, but it is also important to know what do they 'do' as active agents and citizens of a country in transforming the very language of justice that is in use.

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An Open Letter to the IIM Leadership

 

IIM Directors Meeting, 28th August 2017: An Open Letter to the IIM Leadership

Dear IIM Directors:

RE: IIM Directors Meeting, 28th August 2017: An Open Letter

We would like to introduce ourselves as Siddharth Joshi and Deepak Malghan. Joshi is a Fellow of IIM Bangalore (2017) and Malghan is on the faculty at IIM Bangalore. However, we write this to you in our personal capacities.

 As part of your packed agenda for the IIM Directors meeting on August 28th 2017, you are also slated to discuss the doctoral programmes at IIMs (currently called the Fellow Program in Management, or the FPM). We want to bring to your attention years of willful circumvention of constitutional mandates and statutory provisions governing admissions at public institutions such as IIMs. FPM admissions have for a number of years turned a blind eye to questions of diversity and social inclusion. One direct consequence of the IIM FPM programmes not making a concerted effort to recruit a socially diverse doctoral student body is the utter lack of diversity on the faculty bodies at various IIMs. Of the over five hundred faculty members at IIMs where data is available, only two are from the SC group, and reportedly IIMs currently do not have any representation from the ST group on its faculty. IIMs are not only "consumers," but also "producers" of management faculty. A third of all current IIM faculty members received their doctoral training within the IIM system. This proportion of IIM-trained faculty will only go up in the next several years as newer IIMs expand their faculty and the FPM programmes themselves expand (as discussed in the IIM Directors meeting with the HRD Minister, Shillong, September 2016). Had IIMs paid attention to questions of diversity and inclusion in the FPM programme, the acute diversity deficit on the faculty bodies would have been surely less stark.

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Independence for whom?

 

Parth Shrimali

parth shrimaliOn 14th August, a day before the 71st Independence Day, a Dalit man was assaulted in Sojitra village in Anand district of Gujarat for skinning a dead cow. Earlier this year, in May, caste violence led to the torching of 25 Dalit houses by Rajput men in Saharanpur, Uttar Pradesh. In July 2016, 4 Dalit youth were flogged for skinning a dead cow in Una, Gujarat. A month later, two Dalits were beaten up in East Godavari district of Andhra Pradesh for skinning a cow, killed due to electrocution.

Over the course of the last 70 years, India has made tremendous progress. From a country that could barely feed its own people to a potential economic giant, India has engineered a dramatic turnaround of its fortunes. Yet, 70 years later, the question that continues to persist is this - prosperity, development and independence for whom?

On the question of Dalits

Violent attacks on Dalits are hardly anything new. Newspapers are rife with reports of assaults against Dalits, either by riots or by the ritualistic protection of Savarna 'honour' which often translates into death for Dalit men and rape for Dalit women. More repulsive than the grisly nature of these acts of violence are the reasons which 'provoke' these and the impunity enjoyed by perpetrators.

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Women's Empowerment: History and Policy

 

Rahul Pagare

rahul pagareIt was 1848 AD when India got its first woman educator in the form of "Savitribai Phule". This year marks the rise of women's empowerment in India as Savitribai Phule busted the social norm that a woman cannot be educated. The impact of this movement was so profound that 100 years later, India, as a nation accepted the leadership of a woman and Indira Gandhi, was sworn as the first female prime minister of India. It is said that sky is the limit, but the term "women's empowerment" broke that thought and Kalpana Chawla became the first Indian woman to travel in space. All these activities are the fruits of women's empowerment.

Women's empowerment as a concept was introduced at the UN's Third World Conference on Women in Nairobi in 1985, which defined it as a redistribution of social and economic powers and control of resources in favor of women. The United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNDFW) includes the following factors in its definition of women's empowerment.

 Acquiring knowledge and understanding of gender relations and the way in which these relations may be changed.

 Developing a sense of self-worth, a belief in one's ability to secure desired changes and the right to control one's life.

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From Brahmanisation to Privatisation: The Case of Tata Institute of Social Sciences

 

Arun Mahanand

From Brahmanisation to Privatisation of Education, at the Cost of Dalit-Bahujan Students: Case of Tata Institute of Social Sciences

arunUntil the last semester, the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) would provide financial support to students from SC, ST and OBC categories, who were eligible for Government of India's (GoI) Scholarships. Students were exempted from paying fees up front. The GoI scholarship amount was paid to the Institute by the respective state governments of the home state of the students. This amount was accommodated as reimbursement for fees exemption. After direct transfer system, the scholarship amount is being sent to students directly, who then pass it on to the Institute. This continued till 2014 when GoI scholarship for students from OBC categories was revoked by the Maharashtra Government and Institute altogether discontinued exemption of fees for all the students from OBC categories from all states. From then onwards, only SC and ST students received the fee waivers under GoI Scholarship.

 On 25th May 2017, the Registrar of TISS sent a notification during the summer vacation regarding a change in scholarships. The institute had not mentioned these changes in the TISS admission brochure, which is the basis on which students take admission. The message from the registrar effectively asked all students including SC and ST students receiving GoI scholarship to pay Hostel and Dining Hall fees amounting to Rs. 31,000 per semester. The reason being given is that the institute has a backlog of Rs. 20 crores from the government.

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Global Day of Action against Vedanta at their AGM

 

* Protests to be held by communities affected by British miner Vedanta Resources in India and Africa.

* Activist shareholders to again disrupt London AGM on 14th August.

* Vedanta battles international arbitration and UK compensation case over Zambian pollution.

Foil Vedanta

Loud and theatrical protests will again be held outside the AGM of British mining company Vedanta Resources'(1) AGM at the Lincoln Centre, Lincoln Inn Fields, London at 2pm on Monday 14th August(2) accusing the company of major environmental and human rights abuses across its operations. Parallel protests will be held by affected communities and their supporters at several locations in India and Zambia. Inside the AGM, dissident shareholders will ask questions on behalf of Zambian villagers who are suing Vedanta in the UK for twelve years of polluted water, as well as tribal inhabitants of the Niyamgiri hills in Odisha, India who accuse Vedanta of murdering and harassing them with state collusion.

vedanta stop killing

Protesters in London will pour scorn on Vedanta's 2017 Annual Report, which claims that the company 'demonstrate world-class standards of governance, safety, sustainability and social responsibility'. They say it represents a poor attempt to don the 'cloak of respectability'(3) of a London listing, pointing out that:

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When erasure from memory is also a human rights violation

 

Dr. Sylvia Karpagam

Sylvia pixThe human rights organisation, Amnesty International has brought out two reports, one in 2016 and another in 2017, highlighting details of prisoners facing death penalties and of undertrials in India. However both reports fail to mention that a majority of those facing death penalties or undertrials awaiting a hearing belong to the historically marginalised Scheduled caste and Scheduled tribes (SC/ST) as well as religious minorities, predominantly Muslim. While this can easily be passed off as oversight, in a country where the SC/ST and religious minorities, specifically Muslim, face enormous systemic and state sponsored violence and oppression, this oversight by an International Human rights organisation, calls for serious introspection. Ironically, it was an article in 1961, titled The Forgotten Prisoners, by British lawyer Peter Benenson, and published in the Observer that gave birth to the collective action around Amnesty International's work. He writes about his disgust at people being imprisoned for their political views or religious orientation.

With the current debate in the United Kingdom about caste discrimination and bringing in an equality law, one cannot undermine how dominant caste groups take what are often straight forward cases of caste and communal based discrimination and couch them in such words and language that the very core of the discrimination is erased completely. Is this the case with Amnesty as well is a question that needs to be asked and seriously introspected.

Report on Death penalties, Amnesty International Global Report, 2016

The Amnesty International Global Report published in 2016 reports on death sentences and executions in different countries and shows significantly higher numbers of death sentences in countries like Bangladesh, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of the Congo, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Lebanon, Nigeria, Pakistan, Somalia, Thailand and Zambia than in the previous year. In India, the recorded deaths sentences for 2016 was 136, with more than 400 facing death sentences at the end of 2016 with 'most prisoners on death row from economically vulnerable and socially disadvantaged groups' [1]. The report drew its data on India from the National Law School University report of 2016 [2].

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