The Private-Sector Economy Is a Modern Form of “Guptadhana”: Kancha Ilaiah Shepherd On “Social Smuggling” and the Baniya-Brahmin Nexus

By Sagar | 8 October 2017
In mid September, members of the Arya Vysya community in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh began holding protests against the work of the academic and writer Kancha Ilaiah Shepherd. The community, which is also referred to as Kommatis, and is understood to be an upper-caste Vaishya group, had taken grave offence to the contents of a short Telugu-language book, Samajika Smugglerlu: Kommatullu, or “Social Smugglers: Kommatis.” The Telugu book is an adapted extract from Shepherd’s book Post-Hindu India, which was published in 2009. Samijika Smugglerlu argues that the Baniya community—often referred to as Vaishya, the term from which the Arya Vysyas derive their name—has maintained a monopoly over business in India, and excluded Shudra, Dalit and Bahujan groups from the benefits of capital growth in the country.

Baniya Capital Is Not Mercantile Capital: An Extract from Kancha Ilaiah Shepherd’s “Post-Hindu India”

By Kancha Ilaiah Shepherd | 8 October 2017
In mid September, members of the Arya Vysya community in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh began holding protests against the work of the academic and writer Kancha Ilaiah Shepherd. The nature of the protests was vigorous: while some Arya Vysyas ambushed Shepherd’s car and pelted stones at it, others burnt effigies in his likeness. On 18 September, during a meeting of an Arya Vysya organisation, TG Venkatesh, a member of parliament from the Telegu Desam Party, said that Shepherd was a “traitor” who deserved to be “hanged.” Shepherd registered a complaint with the police, saying that he feared for his life, and confined himself to house arrest until early October.  

The Farooqui Judgment’s Interpretation of Consent Ignores Decades of Rape-Law Reform and Catastrophically Affects Rape Adjudication

By Mrinal Satish | 7 October 2017
On 25 September, the Delhi High Court acquitted Mahmood Farooqui of the charge of rape. Farooqui, a popular writer, director and dastangoi artist, was convicted last year, after a trial court found him guilty of raping a woman in March 2015. His acquittal has been controversial, to say the least: while some have stood the ground that Farooqui’s guilt cannot be established beyond doubt, many—if not most—have condemned the high court judgment acquitting him. The latter group has good reason: the judgment acquitting Farooqui is deeply flawed, especially on the standard of consent articulated by the court. It is wrong in law, based on gender stereotypes, and ignores decades of rape-law reform.

The Recently Notified Rules on the Suspension of Telecom Services Legitimise Internet Shutdowns and Facilitate Voice Call Bans

By Nakul Nayak | 6 October 2017
Last year, India witnessed more internet shutdowns—where the central or state governments temporarily suspend internet access in a particular region citing law and order problems—than any other country in the world. According to the Software Freedom Law Centre (SFLC), a legal services organisation that is involved in a global campaign against internet shutdowns, 31 such instances were reported in 2016. These cost the Indian economy around Rs 6,000 crore. This year, with three months still remaining, 55 shutdowns have already been reported. The frequency of shutdowns has become alarming—on 25 September, internet services resumed in the state of Darjeeling after over three months; the same day, services also resumed in Tripura after a four-day suspension. In Bihar’s Nawada district, an internet blackout began on 28 September.

“There Was No Question Of Help”: Zakia Jafri On the Gulburg Society Massacre

By VINOD K JOSE | 5 October 2017
Today, the Gujarat High Court dismissed an appeal challenging a lower court’s decision to uphold a closure report by a special investigation team that looked into the massacre at Gulburg Society during the riots in Gujarat in early 2002. The Supreme Court constituted the SIT in 2008, in a case arising out of a petition filed by Zakia Jafri, the wife of Ehsan Jafri—a veteran Congress politician who was among 69 Muslim residents of Gulburg Society who were killed by a mob of Hindu attackers. Jafri’s petition accused 63 persons, including Narendra Modi, then the chief minister of the state, and other senior state government officials, of being complicit in the violence, and alleged that the state machinery had remained deliberately inactive.

Three Years Since the Launch of Swachh Bharat, A Look At Its Progress in Modi’s “Adopted” Villages of Nageypur and Jayapur

By Sagar | 2 October 2017
On 2 October 2014, just a few months into his job as prime minister, Narendra Modi launched the Swachh Bharat Mission—the most ambitious cleanliness campaign in Indian history. Since the launch, Modi has put enormous effort into making the Swachh Bharat Mission a flagship programme of his rule. He spoke of it in his annual Independence Day speeches, televised live from the ramparts of Delhi’s Red Fort, and at campaign rallies in election-bound states. The currency notes introduced after demonetisation bear the Swachh Bharat logo—Gandhi’s signature round glasses. It was a move indicative of the government’s incredible zeal for drawing attention to the campaign.

As the Swachh Bharat Mission Enters its Fourth Year, Revisiting Its Progress in Varanasi and Ahmedabad

By Sagar | 1 October 2017
On 2 October 2014, just a few months into his job as prime minister, Narendra Modi launched the Swachh Bharat Mission—the most ambitious cleanliness campaign in Indian history. Since the launch, Modi has put enormous effort into making the Swachh Bharat Mission a flagship programme of his rule. He spoke of it in his annual Independence Day speeches, televised live from the ramparts of Delhi’s Red Fort, and at campaign rallies in election-bound states. The currency notes introduced after demonetisation bear the Swachh Bharat logo—Gandhi’s signature round glasses. It was a move indicative of the government’s incredible zeal for drawing attention to the campaign.

“Barter System of Appointments”: The Debate Over The Collegium System And The NJAC

By ATUL DEV | 29 September 2017
On 25 September, Justice Jayant Patel of the Karnataka High Court submitted his resignation to the president of India, reportedly after the president proposed transferring him to the Allahabad High Court. Patel was first appointed to a high court in December 2001, as an additional judge in in the Allahabad court. He was transferred to the Karnataka High Court in February 2016, where he was the senior-most judge after the chief justice in the state. His transfer to Allahabad was proposed less than a month before SK Mukherjee, the present chief justice of the Karnataka High Court, will complete his term, on 9 October. If he had accepted the transfer, Patel would have been the third in seniority among the judges in Gujarat.

In Haryana: How the Dera Sacha Sauda’s Grassroots-Level Mobilisation Attracts Dominant-Caste Followers

By Sagar | 28 September 2017
On the afternoon of 25 August, a Central Bureau of Investigation special court in Haryana’s Panchkula district convicted Gurmeet Singh, a self-styled godman, of raping two women in 2002. More commonly known as Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh Insaan, Singh is the third spiritual leader of the religious cult Dera Sacha Sauda. Many followers reverently address him as Pitaji, or father. On the day of Singh’s conviction, immediately after the news broke, thousands of followers of the godman laid siege to several regions across Haryana and Punjab—at least 30 people were killed in the ensuing violence.
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