In October 2017, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), a coalition of non-governmental organisations across 100 countries
, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. The award recognised ICAN’s role in bringing about the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons—the world’s first multilateral legally-binding instrument
on nuclear disarmament in 20 years. All nine nuclear-weapon states, including India, refrained from participating
in the treaty negotiations. While India, China and Pakistan abstained from voting on the United Nations General Assembly resolution
that established the mandate for nations to negotiate the treaty, five nuclear countries—United States, United Kingdom, Russia, France, and Israel—voted against the resolution.
In the early 1950s, BR Ambedkar started working on a book he wanted to call India and Communism. Though he did not finish it, he left behind a table of contents and 63 typed pages of the book. He also left behind an outline for and a section of another book, titled Can I Be a Hindu? This year, LeftWord Books published the works with an introduction by Anand Teltumbde, a civil-rights activist and political analyst. In the introduction, Teltumbde addresses the narrative that Ambedkar was opposed to Marxism, and argues that anyone who believes so is “grossly prejudiced.” He charts the course of Ambedkar’s thinking on communism and Marxism and the corresponding events of the Indian freedom movement that led to rifts between India’s early communists and Ambedkar. In the following extract from the introduction, Teltumbde discusses the acrimonious relationship between Ambedkar and the Communist Party of India (CPI). He writes, “These communists have never been as arrogant and bitter against the caste system as against Ambedkar.”
On 30 October, a large force of police officers, members of the paramilitary Rapid Action Force, and Delhi Development Authority officials supervised the demolition of nearly 400 houses in Delhi’s Kathputli Colony. Situated in west Delhi’s Shadipur Depot area, the Kathputli Colony is a slum cluster comprising over 3,000 families. The area has been home to a large populous of artists and artisans for over 40 years. “We are not against the redevelopment of the colony because at this point it’s an eventuality,” Ali Zia Kabir Choudhary, the advocate representing the residents of the colony in an ongoing case in the Delhi High Court, told me. “We are against the haphazard process being followed by the DDA.”
In his book River of Life, River of Death: The Ganges and India’s Future, Victor Mallet traces the journey of the river from source to mouth. Mallet, the former South Asia bureau chief for the Financial Times, writes in the book that “Indians are killing the Ganges with pollution, and that the polluted Ganges, in turn, is killing Indians.” The book includes chapters on the history of the Ganga, the distressing fate of the river in Varanasi, the extent of the toxicity of its waters, as well as its significance in the country’s water crisis. In the following extract from the book, Mallet describes the Ganga as a “Superbug river”—host to bacterial genes that expose the water’s users to infectious diseases that are resistant to modern antibiotics. The journalist discusses the role the Ganga and its tributary Yamuna play in the spread of blaNDM-1—a bacterial gene that codes for a protein called NDM-1, or New Delhi metallo-beta-lactamase, and whose presence can make the carrier highly resistant to antibiotics. Mallet writes that the spread of the gene is a political issue that is closely connected to the Ganga’s state, its sacred position among Hindus, and to India’s sanitation problem.
On 8 November 2016, in an unexpected late-evening message on television, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the government’s decision to pull notes of the Rs 1,000 and Rs 500 denominations from circulation. The aim of this demonetisation, he said, was to “fight against corruption, black money, fake notes and terrorism.” Arun Kumar, an eminent economist who formerly taught at the Centre for Economic Studies and Planning at Jawaharlal Nehru University, has been amongst the strongest critics
of the move. Kumar noted that the move would not tackle the issue of black money, as it does not impede the generation of black income. On 10 November, Kedar Nagarajan, a web reporter at The Caravan, met the economist to discuss the outcomes of the policy decision. Kumar discussed the scheme’s impact on economic growth, employment and on the shift towards a cashless economy.
“The subject of judicial corruption is taboo, and like the proverbial Chinese monkeys, one shall not see, hear or speak of this evil,” KK Venugopal, the attorney general of India, told an India Today reporter in 1990. “During the early ’80s, rumours of corruption, nepotism and favouritism were like distant thunder. Now they have got louder.” In the subsequent decades, the legal fraternity largely lived by Venugopal’s words; but the thunders clapped closer and closer to the judicial edifice. On the afternoon of 10 November, I saw a storm break loose in the court of the chief justice of India.
On 30 October, the Supreme Court directed that Hadiya, a 25-year-old Malayali woman whose conversion to Islam and choice of a partner who shared her faith is under judicial scrutiny, be brought before the court
on 27 November. In August last year, Hadiya’s father Asokan had filed a petition in the Kerala High Court claiming that she had been forcibly converted
to Islam. While the case was ongoing, Hadiya married a Muslim man named Shafin Jahan—her father challenged the marriage in the high court as well. In May 2017, in an extreme and unprecedented move, the court annulled her marriage
and confined her to her father’s custody. Three months later, while hearing Jahan’s appeal against the high court’s decision, the Supreme Court directed the National Investigation Agency to conduct a probe into the marriage. Rather than remedying the violation of the two citizens’ rights immediately, the apex court chose to embark on an enquiry into the alleged radicalisation of young Hindu women converts in Kerala.
On 8 November, the Jammu and Kashmir governor NN Vohra took over as the president
of the Tribune Trust, which manages the national daily The Tribune, in the wake of a controversy following the daily’s front-page apology to the former Punjab cabinet minister Bikram Singh Majithia. On 29 October, the national daily had published “an unconditional apology
” to Majithia for reports from November 2014 and March 2015 “with prominent headlines” that suggested towards his “involvement … with an illegal drug syndicate.” The web publication The Print reported
that the daily’s editor-in-chief Harish Khare has “offered his resignation in protest after the apology was forced upon him from the top.”
Exactly a year ago, on the evening of 8 November 2016, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced in a surprise broadcast that beginning midnight, currency notes of Rs 1,000 and Rs 500 were denominations to be pulled from circulation, and would be rendered invalid for any transactions. On 7 November this year, ANHAD, a non-governmental organisation run by the social activist Shabnam Hashmi, and 32 other organisations released a report titled Demonetisation: Exorcising the “Demon.” Over January and February, ANHAD conducted a survey of 3,647 respondents across 21 states and union territories in the country, on the public perceptions of demonetisation, and its aftermath. In addition to the findings of the survey, the report also includes the analyses of several issues that arose out of the policy decision, such as its effectiveness in dealing with the initial goals of eliminating black money, counterfeit currency, and terror financing; the government’s shifting narratives on the motive behind demonetisation; and the impact on people across the country.
Exactly a year ago, on the evening of 8 November 2016, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced in a surprise broadcast that beginning midnight, currency notes of Rs 1,000 and Rs 500 denominations were to be pulled from circulation, and would be rendered invalid for any transactions. On 7 November this year, ANHAD, a non-governmental organisation run by the social activist Shabnam Hashmi, and 32 other organisations released a report titled Demonetisation: Exorcising the “Demon.” Over January and February, ANHAD conducted a survey of 3,647 respondents across 21 states and union territories in the country, on the public perceptions of demonetisation, and its aftermath. In addition to the findings of the survey, the report also includes the analyses of several issues that arose out of the policy decision, such as its effectiveness in dealing with the initial goals of eliminating black money, counterfeit currency, and terror financing; the government’s shifting narratives on the motive behind demonetisation; and the impact on people across the country.