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Archives for : April2017

India – For a cow reservation bill

satwik gade

G. Sampath

A herd will have a calming effect on parliamentary proceedings

India’s recent success in securing the human rights of cows is a historic achievement that deserves all our kudos. We may still have a patchy record in protecting the human rights of humans. But who says progress has to be linear? Sometimes, like the traffic in Bengaluru, a country may have to traverse several diversions on the road to greatness. In India’s case, it so happens that the diversions are strewn with cow dung.

Narrow-minded liberals may like to keep quoting the Constitution till the cows come home. But now that the home has been notified as a cattle shed, they must shut up. What these annoying spawn of Macaulay, who hold forth on secularism one day and Sauvignon Blanc the next, don’t realise is that India is not just a country. It is an ancient civilisation that predates the Constitution by several millennia. This civilisation was a Vedic democracy founded by the cows, of the cows, and for the cows. Humans occupied their dharmic place in this society — as servants of the cow.

Then bad things happened, and humans began eating the cows. Now, after centuries of struggle, that practice has been stopped, more or less. India is on the verge of reclaiming its rightful global status as the mother of human civilisation and the gau mata of any advanced alien civilisation that inter-galactic probes may discover in times to come. But it needs to do one more thing to keep its tryst with cosmic greatness: introduce 33% reservation for cows in Parliament.

Thanks to tireless campaigning by cow-protection activists, today everyone in India agrees that cows and ordinary Indians enjoy the same constitutional rights — the only exception being black people from south India, who are entitled to nothing more than a masala dosa and a vat of sambar.

So it is only fair that cows, like their fair human counterparts, get guaranteed political representation in our democracy. Besides upholding the spirit of the Constitution, such a move will have many positive side effects.

First of all, given that all corrupt politicians are humans and cows are incorruptible, it would, in one stroke, reduce corruption by 33%. Second, since cows are typically female, it is a big step towards gender equality. Third, it would lower the human capital costs of keeping the democratic machinery running. The cost to the country (CTC) of one bovine Member of Parliament is estimated to be one-thousandth the CTC of a human MP. Multiply that by 180 (33% of 545) and you get an idea of the astronomical savings that would accrue to the exchequer from the Lok Sabha alone. Do this calculation for the Rajya Sabha and all the State Assemblies, and you’re looking at thousands of crores in savings.

The amount thus saved could be used to provide free medical care, affordable housing in a state-of-the-art gaushala, and a universal basic income to all Indian cows so that they no longer suffer the indignity of foraging in garbage dumps alongside human ragpickers.

Furthermore, all cows are vegetarian by birth. Plus they don’t consume alcohol, not even mocktails. This would raise the aggregate sattvik profile of our elected representatives, while reducing the per capita cost of keeping them well-fed. Given that cows are peace-loving, sweet-tempered, soft-spoken, and decent by nature, a herd of bovine MPs is bound to have a calming effect on parliamentary proceedings, which have tended to be stormy in recent times. I’d bet my Aadhaar card that no cow would ever try to make a point by rushing to the Well of the House — not unless you fill it with water and add hay.

Unlike human MPs, many of whom have criminal charges against them, cows are law-abiding by nature. Most human MPs are crorepatis, and have little in common with the average Indian, making them less empathetic to their problems. Cows, by contrast, are known for simple living and high thinking. As some of you may have learnt in biology class at school, they are experts in rumination — a vital skill set for any parliamentarian but one that is sadly missing in our current crop of human MPs.

And lastly, if you are an airline staff, your chances of being beaten with chappals would diminish by 33%. In view of all these benefits, the government should pass the cow reservation bill without further delay. As a proud Indian, I can’t wait for the day when a cow will address the nation from the ramparts of the Red Fort.

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RTI: Low-down on Aadhaar enrolments (specifically about biometrics)


An RTI query was filed in Dec 2016, with a view to get detailed information on how many Aadhaar numbers have been generated with partial or partially obscure biometric data. This would give an estimate of what percentage of our population is expected to face problems with biometric authentication at a later date. As field data from the past two years suggests, authentication failure at delivery is what probably renders the entire Aadhaar programme useless.

The UIDAI could provide no such classification regarding enrolments with partial or poor quality biometrics, not even for biometric exceptions, something that is provisioned for in the Aadhaar (Enrolment and Update) Regulations, 2016. This reveals that the UIDAI is in no position to provide any useful information to a person rejected due to biometric reasons.

Also noteworthy is that no data was available on whether any Aadhaar numbers have been generated using alternative means of identification (where biometrics are absent/unusable or wrongly appear as duplicate). This corroborates the situation on the ground, where people with rejected applications have no option but to keep trying repeatedly.

Below is the text of the RTI query, followed by the responses.


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Novelist and Poet Perumal Murugan – Life lessons for my students

Gained in Translation: Life lessons for my students

Why is it so difficult for doors to open for students pursuing their education in Tamil?

perumal murugan, Muthukrishnan, JNU student suicide, Muthukrishnan suicide, Muthukrishnan JNU, india news, indian express editorialScholar Muthukrishnan (File Photo)I am a teacher in a government college, where 90 per cent of my students are first-generation learners. These are students, who during their school days, juggle classroom work with jobs that involve some form of physical labour. Even in college, they continue to work part-time, through which, they not only cater to their own financial needs but are also compelled to tend to their families. Many survive on single meals; a healthy sumptuous one a distant dream.

Most of these students opt for Economics, History and Literature — courses they feel will allow them the leeway to work while studying. They hardly ever study during their three-year undergraduate stints: 75 per cent of them end up taking full-time jobs even before completing their degrees, with only 25 per cent going on to pursue higher studies, that too only in courses offered by government colleges.

For government colleges, a student stepping up to do a masters degree is a momentous event. And if any one of them happens to make it to an institution such as the Jawarharlal Nehru University (JNU), it is a matter of great pride and celebration for teachers like us. We would cite such students as role models, in the hope it would inspire others for years to come. Do you think this is possible any more in light of what happened with Muthukrishnan?

Muthukrishnan, who pursued a PhD at JNU’s Centre for Historical Studies, was from our district, Salem. He completed his BA and MA in History from one of Tamil Nadu’s oldest institutions — the Government Arts College, Salem. He did his B Ed at the Ramakrishna College in Coimbatore, following which, he earned an M Phil from the University of Hyderabad. I had met him here, when I had gone to address a group of Tamil students, and had appreciated his grit in having made it to Hyderabad all the way from a government college in Salem.

He went on to pursue doctoral studies at JNU, after a lot of hard work and perseverance. He was suddenly found hanging from a ceiling fan inside his friend’s house and is alleged to have committed suicide. His motives are yet unknown.

Muthukrishnan’s family background mirrors that of 90 per cent of our government college students. His father was a watchman and mother, a daily wager. Of his three sisters, one is married and another engaged. They live in Swaminathapuram, Salem.

How did he manage to study? He did a lot of odd jobs, all of which involved physical labour. Muthukrishnan even sold tea, earning Re 1 per cup; he would sell up to 300-400 cups of tea a day. He also waited tables at restaurants.

Despite working, he was a regular at the college library, while the District Central library, beside the college, was a second home. There are professors who encourage students like him; there are also others who make fun of them. In fact, Muthukrishnan swore that he would study at JNU and return to this college as a professor, after one of the teachers had insulted him. It was his dream to become a history professor, but English was a barrier. So, he took English lessons from a private tutor. It seemed to have helped. His friends said he could hold his own in hour-long conversations in the language.

Muthukrishnan preferred to be addressed as ‘Rajini Krish’ by his friends. He also had a Facebook account by the same name. But why would a youngster of this generation relate to the yesteryear actor? It was probably because of the roles the actor essayed — mostly of hardworking men from poor backgrounds, achieving success through honest means.

Muthukrishnan had an appetite for books by renowned historians such as Romila Thapar, R S Sharma and Damodar Dharmananda Kosambi. He felt his entry into JNU was his ‘historic moment’, which he achieved after four years of repeated attempts at written exams and interviews, and had planned to write a book chronicling his journey to the university, under the title ‘A Junket to JNU’.

His death now evokes a hundred questions and fears in my mind. Can we ever cite Muthukrishnan as an example to encourage other passionate students? What if they retort: ‘Do you want what happened with him to happen to us?’.

Why is it so difficult for doors to open for students pursuing their education in Tamil? North Indian students have an option to write the entrance examinations in either Hindi or English. Our students, in spite of learning English for 10 years in school, still approach it with a sense of fear. We do not learn Hindi at school. Even if we do, it is still alien to us, just like English, because ‘Tamizh’ belongs to a different language family — the Dravidian family.

We are compelled to take entrance tests in an unfamiliar language. Why such discrimination against people of the same country? Why do we not have the option to learn in our mother tongue? If all our energy and drive must be invested in mastering an alien language, how do we focus on knowledge?

Should it also be so difficult for an Indian to get to the Capital of his country? Is this how a Capital should welcome him? By taking his life? It is said that Muthukrishnan was asked to tear away a poster of Dr Ambedkar that he had stuck in his room. If Jawaharlal Nehru University does not have place for Ambedkar, isn’t that a matter of shame?

I consider it part of my responsibility as a teacher to push my students towards studying and away from jobs that demand physical labour. Muthukrishnan has now made me contemplate on that responsibility. We are probably meant to take up what jobs we get, eat what is available and continue doing the same kind of work for generations without aspiring for education, research, or anything bigger.

Many of our students enter the police and the military force. Some may rise a little, appear for and clear Group IV examinations, eventually being placed as office clerks. That, it seems, is our limit. These are jobs meant for sacrificial lambs. Why should Muthukrishnans aspire for more? How can we deem ourselves deserving of research and crap?

This will be my message to my students henceforth. And this is my ‘historic moment’.

The writer, a Tamil novelist and poet, is best known for his novel Mathorubhagan (One Part Woman). This article is translated from Tamil by S Sindhu.

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Excerpt from the preface to Ambedkar: The Attendant Details

Aspects of an extraordinary life;

A new book presents everyday details about Dr BR Ambedkar’s personality including his passion for book collecting, his gruff humour, and his love of dogs and sherwanis!

Salim Yusufji
Hindustan Times
BR Ambedkar

Rajagriha, Bombay, February 1934: (L to R) Yashwant, BR Ambedkar, Ramabai, Laxmibai (widow of Ambedkar’s brother, Anandrao), Mukundrao, and (in the foreground) Tobby. The little girl on Laxmibai’s knee is unidentified.(From the collection of Vijay Surwade)

Dr BR Ambedkar invites and deflects biographical curiosity, both together. ‘You have not cared to inquire into my past,’ he wrote in February 1948 to his fiancée Dr Sharda Kabir. ‘But it will be available to you at any time in the pages of many Marathi magazines.’ Offering up his past as a matter of public record was a cheeky remark in the circumstances, but it did give precedence to the published report of his life over a more private sense of it. The popular account of his struggles and accomplishments is certainly momentous and varied enough to deliver a characterful portrait. Crowded with incident, it reflects his drive and intellect. We see the goals and adversities that shaped the scholar, teacher, lawyer, writer, politician, founder of colleges, newspapers and parties, flayer at large of Hinduism and the Congress, and prime mover in drafting India’s constitution. This is also a life that belongs no longer to itself but to the headlines, to masses of people and to history. Its dynamics infuse institutions and statuary, household shrines, personal and communal aspiration, music and campus politics with an urgency that has intensified over the decades since Ambedkar’s death, making him ever more vivid.

Ambedkar: The Attendant Details

This is entirely as it should be, for his personal and political lives did fuse together to a remarkable degree. It happened by his intent and also, not infrequently, because of societal prejudice. The rebuffs and slights never did cease, even at the height of his public eminence. In 1945, visiting Puri as the Labour Member of the Viceroy’s Council, he was refused admittance to the Jagannath temple, and, in Calcutta the same year, was boycotted by servants at a home to which he had been invited. The fusion of his public and private lives could also occur in some amazing ways: in another letter of February 1948, he complained to his intended brahmin bride of how the passage of the Hindu Law of Marriage Bill was held up by a packed legislative calendar. The delay grieved him — the bridegroom-to-be, who would have loved to be married under its provisions, as much as the Law Minister in charge of steering the new Bill through parliament. Wearing both hats, he proceeded to guide her through the salient points of the Civil Marriage Act — the fallback law that would apply to their case.

Given this extraordinary level of coincidence, why seek another Ambedkar beyond the public account? When we look at a statue of him, say a plaster cast figure of cherubic aspect in an electric blue suit, it is both unmistakably him and recognizably not. The posture recalls the prophet Moses, clutching the law tablets of God’s command to his side, his free arm raised to wag a hectoring finger at his feckless charges, the Israelites. Does this allusion reinforce Ambedkar’s persona, or is something of him lost to a visual rhetoric that evokes Bronze Age Semitism? Would the stiff and suited figure relent to admit the historical Ambedkar’s love of the sherwani, kurta, lungi, and dhoti? Or his sudden paean one morning to elasticated underpants? This book is an attempt at intimacy with Ambedkar in his hours away from history and headlines. It seeks intimacy through the admirers and companions who have shared their memories of him and his impact upon their lives. If history is what survives the death of the subject, this book aims to recover the ephemera that attended Ambedkar’s life and died with him; such as his pleasure in his library and passion for book-collecting, his vein of gruff humour, the sensation of seeing him in the flesh for the first time, or of stepping out of a summer storm into his house and hearing him at practice on his violin. Here, we get to meet Ambedkar the ambidextrous writer, dog lover, proponent of sex education and contraception, anti-prohibitionist teetotaler, and occasional cook. We recognize the readerly solitude that made up the greatest part of his waking hours, and kept him awake till all hours. We also notice a strain of Maharashtrian pride, edging towards chauvinism, that surfaces in his pronouncements from time to time.

Bombay, November 1951: Finding himself without a seat at a public function to welcome Ambedkar, Raobahadur SK Bole is invited to seat himself on the Chief Guest. In 1907, social reformer Bole had called a meeting to honour young Bhimrao upon his matriculation from Elphinstone High School. It was at this meeting that Krishnaji Arjun Keluskar gifted Ambedkar with a copy of his new book, Life of Gautama Buddha. (From the collection of Vijay Surwade)

The book draws on ten published works for its material: five of them by companions and intimates of Ambedkar’s household (Nanak Chand Rattu, Devi Dayal, Shankranand Shastri, Bhagwan Das, and Namdeo Nimgade); two by Vasant Moon, his biographer and compiler of the first sixteen volumes of Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar: Writings and Speeches; the autobiographies of Urmila Pawar, Daya Pawar, Shantabai Krishnaji Kamble and Baby Kondiba Kamble; an interview between Ambedkar and the writer Mulk Raj Anand; and the reminiscences of a variety of people who had the chance to interact with him. Additionally, “Waiting for a Visa”, the only extended text of reminiscences Ambedkar published in his lifetime, is reprinted here.

The extracts appear as fragments selected for their immediacy. Hence explanatory notes are kept to a minimum and we do not make a study of our raconteurs’ motives. It is to be assumed that the accounts are not disinterested. An extended reading of our principal sources will reveal a pronounced stylization of Ambedkar’s personality in keeping with the individual writer’s sympathies: Rattu and Shankranand Shastri, for instance, detail a frequently lachrymose man but recall little of the wit that we encounter elsewhere. The occasional overlap occurs when the same aspect of his life draws the attention of several figures. But the register of observation varies, just as some among them find it reassuring to intone the alliterative, mantra-like formulation: Bodhisat Bharat Ratna Dr Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar, followed by the full complement of his educational and professional credentials — which serves them as a talisman of liberative promise. Others find that ‘Babasaheb’ by itself captures their affection and reverence perfectly. Still others plump for a plain ‘Ambedkar’, while expressing a no less genuine warmth or engagement.

New Delhi, 2 May 1950: Ambedkar attacking the concept of god and lauding Buddhism in a speech delivered on Buddha Jayanti. (From the collection of Vijay Surwade)

In its shifting tones of respectful formality and candour, this collection shares the qualities of a photographic album: diffuse and discrete while appearing precise. Recording miscellany rather than proposing a concerted narrative, it captures its subject in the midst of workaday life. These verbal snapshots are the more necessary as Ambedkar was not photographed with the same zealous attention to minutiae paid to several of his prominent contemporaries. If the text is in part a visual aid, the photographs featured in this volume are not mere appendages to the text but sources or voices in their own right, drawing us into worlds often not anticipated by the writing. Even their assemblage and preservation, through the indefatigable efforts of Vijay Surwade, makes an epic story on its own…


“Waiting for a Visa” is itself episodic and vivid in its recall, so the collection has a synergetic form. The different pieces are complementary also in being taken entirely from material composed towards publication, with private papers deliberately kept out of the ambit. The object here is to foreground the readily visible and available that yet remains neglected.

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Untold: Humiliating Women journalists- Press Club style

Gender Discrimination Continues in PCHGender Discrimination Continues in PCH

Without notice, Press Club cancelled regular memberships of 29 women journalists


The gender discrimination controversy surrounding Press Club of Hyderabad (PCH) has more to it than meets the eye as it has now emerged that senior journalist Padma Vangapally was not alone in facing humiliation.


There are now stories doing rounds among journalistic fraternity as to how the PCH shunted 29 women journalists including two other senior women journalists – Udayalakshmi and Rajeshwari – from regular memberships despite having decades of professional experience in the field.


In fact, the two senior women journalists said to have a collective experience of 50 years in the profession.


“Not just these two, but the other 27 women journalists were not even informed that their regular memberships (RMs) are being downgraded to associate memberships (ASMs) ie into temporary ones. How can such a decision be taken outrightly taken without even issuing them a prior notice,” asked said C Vanaja, member of Network of Women in Media.


What’s more ironic was that the two journalists — Udayalakshmi and Rajeshwari — were feted by PCH on Women’s Day on March 8, 2017 for their long-standing stint in the profession but the new office bearers thought otherwise while downgrading their regular membership.


Sources told that as on May-2016, there were 50 women journalists holding regular membership but in the name of so called review by the new PCH body, membership of 29 women journalists were converted into ASMs ie temporary ones.


Gender bias is total


For decades, the gender discrimination prevailing against women journalists in PCH can be gauged by the fact that as against 421 male journalists admitted in 2016 with regular membership, only 21 women journalists (4.98%) could enter into this male dominated club.


This despite the fact that 150 women journalists did apply for regular memberships that year but the PCH allowed 21 of them to be in the final list, said sources.


Worse, the new PCH body that took over recently, did not even spare women journalists with even five years experience before cancelling their regular memberships.


“This is totally unjust as several male non-journalists with 2-3 years of experience are availing regular PCH membership but the same is denied to women journalists with up to five years experience,” rued a member.


Fight for justice


Meanwhile, at a meeting of PCH women journalists on Thursday, it was unanimously decided that they must fight out the issue to ensure that justice is seen to be done.


“We will exhaust all options including legal to fight this gender discrimination in PCH,” said C Vanaja, without revealing their plan of action.

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For 20 paisa each, bank data of one crore Indians was up for sale

| TNN |


  • An 80-yr-old woman from GK in south Delhi lost Rs 1.46L from her credit card
  • Probing the case, cops busted the module which stole data from insiders in banks, call centres and authorized firms, and sold it to crooks
  • The arrest of a key player has led the cops to recover stolen data of one crore people

Representative image.Representative image.

NEW DELHI: The bank account data of one crore Indians was up for sale. And it was dirt cheap at 10 or 20 paisa per individual, police investigations have revealed.

Probing the case of an 80-year-old woman from Greater Kailash in south Delhi, who had lost Rs 1.46 lakh from her credit card, the cops have busted the module which stole data from insiders in banks, call centres and authorized firms, and sold it to crooks.

What is shocking is that the arrest of a key player in the trade has led the cops to recover stolen data of one crore people, claimed DCP (south east) Romil Baaniya.

The data, comprising card number, card holder name, date of birth and mobile number, is in several categories and runs into more than 20 gigabytes. Most sought after data is of senior citizens bank details, police said.

The arrested person, Puran Gupta, a resident of Pandav Nagar, has claimed that he usually sold bulk data of around 50,000 people for anything between Rs 10,000-20,000. The accused is said to have bought the data from a Mumbai-based supplier. Raids are being conducted to arrest him.

The crooks used this data by posing as bank representatives and convinced people into sharing details such as the CVV number and OTP, and used these to withdraw money.

As the crooks were already armed with details such as the person’s name and card number, many of their targets fall into the trap and ended up furnishing their passwords.

Most of the time, the crooks said they were trying to confirm suspicious transactions and asked people to quickly share details so that an ongoing transaction could be blocked. They use other pretexts like encashing rewards point, card blocked etc to lure people.

As first reported by TOI on April 6, the cops had arrested one Ashish Kumar for duping the GK resident. He had worked earlier in banks and financial institutions as a sales executive. In 2013, he started tele-calling for selling health insurance via his own web-portal.

He used to purchase the data from Puran Gupta. Gupta worked as a data entry operator during which he got the idea to make money by selling data.

So, he started his own company in 2010 to provide data.

“Gupta has disclosed that he had created a firm named ‘First step services and solution’ and got it registered on portals such as Just Dial. His clients used to call him through Just Dial and seek data required by them. The data was transferred

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Centre’s Criminal Order Violates Rights of Lakhs of Tribal People and forest dwellers

 Protests and Opposition Planned

On March 28th, the National Tiger Conservation Authority passed a grossly illegal order (copy here) in which they directed all states to not recognise any rights under the Forest Rights Act in so-called “critical tiger habitats.”

This will is a criminal offence against the rights of over four lakh tribals and forest dwellers.

This order flies in the face of both the Wild Life Act and the Forest Rights Act, both of which explicitly require that rights must be recognised in critical tiger and wildlife habitats (see sections 38V(5) and 4(2)(a) of the Wild Life Act and the FRA respectively). The NTCA further had no jurisdiction to issue such a letter, which is a criminal offence under the SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act and the FRA. In a detailed letter to the Prime Minister, Com. Brinda Karat of the CPI(M) has explained these and other illegalities and said that the order constitutes “utter contempt for the law.”

From start to finish, India’s tiger reserves have been plagued by illegalities. Even prior to the passage of the FRA, in 2005 the Tiger Task Force condemned forest authorities for “selective application of the law”, which had led to what it called “truly a war within, exploding inside reserves and taking everything else in its wake.” In 2006, the law was amended to require scientific evidence and a public process before deciding which areas are truly critical for tigers. But in 2007, in a mockery of the law, the Centre simply notified all of India’s tiger reserves as “critical tiger habitats” without bothering with any scientific process at all (see this note for more information).

Now this order comes as a further attack on people’s rights. On the ground, forest officials have already begun to use this order to threaten and harass forest dwellers. In tiger reserves where rights were already recognised – such as in Simlipal in Odisha – forest officials have even demanded that recognised rights should be canceled. This would be a double crime and a further atrocity.

To oppose this criminal order, the Campaign will be mobilising protests and village level meetings, where whole villages will send protest statements to the government. These will take place across the country in the next month. We also understand that other opposition parties are likely to take the issue up, and that many other democratic groups will be mobilising against it.

Campaign for Survival and Dignity

Ph: 9873657844,

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On Naxalbari movement’s 50th anniversary, Presidency college’s former student recalls those tumultuous days…

‘New Maoist Revolts Didn’t Identify Enemy, Have Plan For Land Capture’

‘New Maoist Revolts Didn’t Identify Enemy, Have Plan For Land Capture’

Santosh Rana was a 23-year-old student at Calcutta’s Presidency College in 1967 when the Naxalbari rebellion erupted. Having immediately plunged into the movement, he later went on to question a few of its methodologies and tactics. As the movement turns 50 in May this year, the 74-year-old, who is a cancer-survivor, reminisces in an interview with Dola Mitra.

You were part of the first batch of Naxalbari revolutionaries. Tell us about those early days.

The year was 1967. I was studying at Presidency College, doing my M.Tech. News had been trickling in that an armed reb­ellion was taking place in a village called Naxalbari in north Bengal’s Darjeeling district. This uprising, by the local peasants, was being led by district leaders of the Communist Party of India, namely Charu Majumdar and his comrades Kanu Sanyal, Mujib-ur-Rehman (not to be mistaken with Bangladesh’s founding father), Khokon Majumdar etc. I was deeply motivated. I immediately decided to take the movement to Gopiballavpur in West Bengal’s West Midnapore district, which is where I came from.

What about the Naxalbari movement attracted you?

“India is a parliamentary democracy; our experience showed one cannot bring about change by merely fighting it. How many will you kill?”
I identified with the need for a peasant rebellion. In my village in Gopiballavpur, I had long been disturbed by the kind of feudal exploitation in the region. There was a powerful landlord called Mahanta Goswami. The land was ‘kulat’ or fertile, with the Subarnarekha river flowing through it. Goswami controlled 5,000 acres of this land, which was tilled by sharecroppers and other poor, landless farmers. They were completely at the mercy of this man. They had to give up almost all the produce—paddy, different types of vegetables, potatoes, etc—to him or to his middlemen. The villagers lived lives of near-starvation. After back-breaking work, they barely got a decent meal. For food they mostly depended on forest produce like fruits from the jungles and different types of forest yams. They got to eat rice only two to three months a year, that too maybe only one meal a day. This was during the rainy seasons, when they took ‘loans’ of paddy from the landlord, partly for consumption, but mostly for sowing. After they harvested the crop in autumn, the landlord would go to the villagers’ homes in his convoy of bullock carts. Actually he rode on buffalo carts because he was a ‘cow lover’, as he considered himself a Brahmin. The villagers had to pay back with huge interest. For one ‘mon’ (a unit of measurement) of paddy they borrowed for consumption, they had to return one-and-a-half ‘mons’. The rate of interest for seed paddy (paddy which they sowed) was double, that is, two ‘mons’ for each ‘mon’.

Did you meet Charu Majumdar and the others in Naxalbari before you took the revolution to West Midnapore?

No. Initially we regularly read and heard about them. Theirs was more than an ideology. They were taking powerful, direct and effective action against years of social, political and economic oppression. They offered the solution. They were following the tested methods of China’s Mao Zedong and the Communist Party of China (CPC). In fact the CPC’s mouthpiece, The People’s Daily, had published an article, ‘Spring Thunder Over India’, in its July 5 issue in the same year of Naxalbari. The rebellion had stirred up infectious dissent not just across the country, but was being discussed internationally. It was much later that I met the Naxalbari leaders.

How did you reproduce the Naxalbari revolution in your village, Gopiballavpur?

I left Calcutta after dropping out of my Phd programme (thereby foregoing the Rs 400 stipend I was getting—quite a lot in those days). I went back to my region and started going from house to house, village to village, telling poor peasants of the need for such an uprising. Gopiballavpur was mostly populated by tribals—Santhals, Mundas, Mals, Bagdis. There were also four to five middle castes who were sharecroppers, like Teli, Sadgop, Raju, Khandoit. The middle-level ‘mah­ajons’ or landlords belonged mostly to the Utkala Brahmin caste. Mahanta Goswami was one. We started teaching villagers the methods of revolt against the landlords with certain specific strategies. First, we told them not to pay loans back. This would be achieved by burning loan books, which registered how much they had to pay back, so that there would be no records. The next step was to forcibly take over the lands and, after that,  to distribute it equally amongst themselves. Killing the landlords, in keeping with the ideology of annihilation of the class enemy, was part of the strategy.


Did you find them receptive to such a violent uprising?

Most had so much bottled up anger that they immediately took to the idea. We thought that maybe landed tribals would have a problem with it. But we found them, like the land-owning Santhals, very enthusiastic. Ide­­­­ntity acquired prominence and they would rather revolt against upper castes than count themselves as belonging to the same economic ‘class’. On the other hand, many landless sha­recroppers who belonged to the middle castes were often rel­uctant. So it occurred to us that, though the Naxal movement was a ‘class’ revolution, here it was more about caste.

“In Midnapore, middle caste farmers were reluctant to revolt against upper caste oppressors. Here, it was more about caste, not class.”
After the Naxal movement of the late 1960s and early 1970s was crushed by the state, it reemerged in West Bengal, in this very area, in the mid-to late 2000s, until its leader Koteshwar Rao was killed in 2012. Was this a continuation of the old Naxalism or did it undergo vast changes, as has been claimed?

While I have great respect for this rebellion, since it was against the class enemy, the recent movement lacked two rudimentary, core principles necessary for every revolution. One, it did not properly identify the ‘enemy’ and ended up killing the very people whom Naxalism represented. The CPI(Maoist) people, who operated in West Midnapore in the 1990s and 2000s, targeted the CPI(M) because they represe­nted the ruler class, but eventually killed 250 poor peasants who were the party’s supporters. This is unacceptable. I have never met Kishenji, but he erred here. The second cardinal mistake was to not have a plan for land capture and re-distribution amongst peasants. Any revolution that does not have land as its central aim is purposeless and pointless.

The movement, it is said, has degenerated into open hoodlumism.

When a movement lacks these two principles and ends up killing its own people, deviating from its purpose of dissemination of land and therefore power, it is bound to degenerate. Terrorism and criminality has entered into it.

During the Naxal movement you went underground, before being arrested (twice). But then you decided to fight elections, representing the CPI (ML) party, becoming an MLA in 1977. What caused you to change your mind and participate in the democratic process?

Self-analysis at different times has caused us to change course. Every revolution must do that. Those which rigidly hold on to untested principles even if they are unsuccessful fail. The ground reality of China, which successfully carried out peasant rebellions in the remotest areas, is different from India’s. India operates under a parliamentary democratic system and our experience showed that one cannot successfully bring about change merely by fighting it. How many people are you going to kill? You have to strike a balance. You have to use the system in order to subvert the oppression that exists in it.

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Hourglass figure: CBSE files FIR against private publisher

| TNN |

NAGPUR: Writing in a standard XII textbook that “hourglass figure” for girls is considered the best has proved costly for publisher New Saraswati House as the CBSE filed an FIR on Friday at a Delhi police station. The publisher’s ‘Health and Physical Education’ book came under severe criticism because of the sexist textual content.

CBSE spokesperson Rama Sharma said, “We have taken strong exception of the indecent depiction of women and misrepresenting the syllabus prescribed by CBSE for Std XII Physical Education Course. The FIR has been registered in Preet Vihar police station under Section 6 (indecent representation of women (Prohibition) Act 1986).”

According to CBSE, the author VK Sharma is a professor (dept of physical education) at DAV College in Cheeka (Kaithal), Haryana. Sharma said, “There were several complaints reported through various sources including media which said ‘Class XII CBSE Physical Education textbook says/certifies/claims 36-24-36 is the best figure for females’. The news was strongly condemned and denied by the Board and a clarification was issued on April 12 itself stating that the Board had not prescribed the controversial book.” TOI had reported the new on April 13.

Shammi Manik, business head of New Saraswati House, did not respond to calls or messages.

Before filing the FIR, CBSE set up a committee of experts to go through the book’s contents. The committee concluded that the shape, size, figure “have been inappropriately described which are not in consonance with the spirit of the syllabus”. It also found that the author “has written out of context, the textbook is not strictly as per the syllabus as being claimed by the publisher/author”.

Based on review by experts, CBSE has come to the conclusion that “the publisher and the author have committed criminal misconduct by publishing and selling these books to the students in connivance with some schools. In the process, the publisher has caused wrongful loss of reputation, goodwill and credibility of CBSE”.

Sharma said, “The Board neither subscribes nor encourages irrelevant, sexist or derogatory references to any gender specially women.”


CBSE’s Std XII curriculum of physical education is designed to meet certain objectives which promote health and fitness among youth, the written statement by Sharma added. It includes topics among others such as sports and nutrition, yoga and lifestyle, physiology, psychology, training, bio-mechanics and sports etc

Reiterating its earlier position on prescribing books, Sharma clarified that responsibility lies on schools in such cases where textual content is found to be controversial. “CBSE does not recommend books by any private publishers to the affiliate schools. Rules clearly state that schools will exercise extreme care while selecting books of private publishers. The content must be scrutinized to preclude any objectionable content that hurts the feelings of any class, community, gender, religious group in society if prescribing books having such content, the school will have to take the responsibility of such content,” said Sharma.

The CBSE mandates schools to put up a list of such books prescribed by it on its website with the written declaration by the manager/principal to the effect that they have gone through the contents of the books prescribed by the school and own the responsibility.

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US: Indian-origin doc charged with female genital mutilation of 7-year-olds #Vaw


The number of girls under 18 at risk for female genital mutilation in the US has quadrupled since 1997.
Jumana Nagarwala has been charged with performing FGM on minor girls (Photo:

 Jumana Nagarwala has been charged with performing FGM on minor girls (Photo:

New York: A 44-year-old Indian-origin woman doctor has been arrested and charged with performing genital mutilation on girls aged 6 to 8, believed to be the first such in the US.

Jumana Nagarwala has been charged with performing FGM on minor girls out of a medical office in Livonia, Michigan.

According to Nagarwala’s profile in the Henry Ford Health System website, she speaks English and Gujarati.

According to the complaint, some of the minor victims allegedly traveled inter-state to have Nagarwala perform the procedure.

The complaint alleges that Nagarwala performed FGM on girls who were approximately 6 to 8 years old. This is believed to be the first case brought under a US law, which criminalises FGM.

Nagarwala, who is an emergency room physician, was arrested and was scheduled to appear in federal court in Detroit.

The number of girls under 18 at risk for FGM in the US has quadrupled since 1997. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates 513,000 women and girls are at risk of FGM in the US.

Congress passed a law in 1996 making it illegal to perform genital mutilation or cutting in the US on anyone under than 18. FGM is punishable by up to five years in prison, however, it is not a crime in 26 US states, including Michigan.

“Despite her oath to care for her patients, Nagarwala is alleged to have performed horrifying acts of brutality on the most vulnerable victims,” Acting Assistant Attorney General Kenneth Blanco of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division said in a statement yesterday.

Blanco added that the Department of Justice is committed to stopping female genital mutilation in the US and will use the full power of the law to ensure that “no girls suffer such physical and emotional abuse”.

Acting US Attorney Daniel Lemisch of the Eastern District of Michigan said female genital mutilation constitutes a particularly brutal form of violence against women and girls.

“It is also a serious federal felony in the United States. The practice has no place in modern society and those who perform FGM on minors will be held accountable under federal law,” Lemisch said.

The complaint said federal agents reviewed Nagarwala’s telephone records and further investigation revealed that parents of two minor girls had travelled to Michigan.

The girls were later interviewed by a forensic expert and one of the girls said she was told she was coming to Detroit for a “special” girls trip, but after arriving at the hotel, she learned that she and the other girl had to go to the doctor because “our tummies hurt”.

The girls had been taken to Nagarwala, who performed the procedure on the girls.

The World Health Organisation said female genital mutilation comprises all procedures that involve partial or total removal of the external female genitalia, or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons.

More than 200 million girls and women alive today have been cut in 30 countries in Africa, the Middle East and Asia where FGM is concentrated.

WHO said FGM, which is mostly carried out on young girls between infancy and age 15, is a violation of the human rights of girls and women.

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