Ahead of the Kairana bypoll, BJP leaders resort to polarising communal rhetoric reminiscent of the Hindu-exodus allegations

By Ishita Mishra | 25 May 2018
At a public meeting during Mriganka Singh’s election campaign, held in the village of Dakheda in Uttar Pradesh’s Shamli district, on 19 May, Surjan Singh, a BJP leader from the village, addressed the gathering of over 200 people. “Ab humare Hindu bhai aur sabhi log surakshit hain.” (Now our Hindu brothers and all others are safe.) Mriganka is the BJP candidate in the upcoming bypoll, on 28 May, for the Kairana seat in the Lok Sabha, which fell vacant after Hukum Singh, her father and the former member of parliament from the constituency, died in February this year. Surjan continued, “Sarkar Muzaffarnagar dango ke sabhi galat mukadme wapis le rahi hai.” (The government is withdrawing the false cases of the Muzaffarnagar riots.) “Ab Hindu nahi, gunde yahan se palayan kar rahe hain, aur jo nahi jaa rahe unko Yogi ji golion se bhoon kar upar bhej rahe hain” (Now, instead of Hindus, the goons are leaving Kairana, and Yogi is showering bullets to kill those who are not leaving.)

Sadanand Menon responds to allegations of sexual harassment

By The Caravan | 24 May 2018
Earlier this month, 35 writers, activists, journalists and other members of civil society wrote a public letter to the Asian College of Journalism (ACJ) in Chennai, urging it to conduct a probe into an allegation of sexual harassment against the well-known culture critic Sadanand Menon, who is a member of ACJ’s adjunct faculty. The signatories published the letter after the college’s Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) refused to entertain a complaint that a former student of the institute had filed in January 2018. In the complaint, the former student alleged that Menon had sexually harassed her at SPACES, a prominent cultural venue in Chennai of which Menon is the managing trustee. The student also described her ordeal in an account published on the website the News Minute earlier that month. 

Why I signed the letter to ACJ asking for action on the complaint against Sadanand Menon

By V Geetha | 24 May 2018
This essay is part of a series by The Caravan, regarding allegations of sexual harassment against the culture critic Sadanand Menon, who is a member of the adjunct faculty at the Asian College of Journalism in Chennai. The other pieces in the series include a statement by Menon, and two interviews—with ACJ’s chairperson Sashi Kumar, and with two other signatories to the public letter asking ACJ to institute a probe into the allegations.

“This is lynch-mob mentality”: ACJ Chairperson Sashi Kumar on the sexual-harassment allegations against Sadanand Menon

By Surabhi Kanga | 24 May 2018
Earlier this month, 35 writers, activists, journalists and other members of civil society wrote a public letter to the Asian College of Journalism (ACJ) in Chennai, urging it to conduct a probe into an allegation of sexual harassment against the culture critic Sadanand Menon, who is a member ofas p the ACJ’s adjunct faculty. The signatories published the letter after the college’s Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) refused to institute an inquiry into a complaint that a former student of the institute had filed in January 2018. In the complaint, the former student alleged that Menon had sexually harassed her at SPACES, a prominent cultural venue in Chennai of which Menon is the managing trustee. The student also described her ordeal in an account published on the website the News Minute earlier that month.

“This is much larger than one man”: An interview with signatories of the letter to ACJ asking for a probe into sexual-harassment allegations against Sadanand Menon

By Surabhi Kanga | 24 May 2018
Earlier this month, 35 writers, activists, journalists and other members of civil society wrote a public letter to the Asian College of Journalism (ACJ) in Chennai, urging it to conduct a probe into an allegation of sexual harassment against the culture critic Sadanand Menon, who is a member of the ACJ’s adjunct faculty. The signatories published the letter after the college’s Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) refused to institute an inquiry into a complaint that a former student of the institute had filed in January 2018. In the complaint, the former student alleged that Menon had sexually harassed her at SPACES, a prominent cultural venue in Chennai, of which Menon is the managing trustee. The student also described her ordeal in an account published on the website the News Minute earlier that month.

Beyond the numbers: India’s first anti-TB drug resistance survey reveals the shortcomings of the tuberculosis-control programme

By MENAKA RAO | 17 May 2018
The results of the first anti-tuberculosis drug resistance survey in India indicate that the country’s national tuberculosis-control programme is ill-equipped to detect the drug-resistant strains prevalent in India. The report, which was released in March this year, reveals that nearly a quarter of India’s new tuberculosis patients are resistant to at least one of 13 drugs used for its treatment, whereas the control programme only accounts for resistance to one particular drug. “Resistance to certain drugs such as isoniazid are ignored by the system,” Dr Yogesh Jain, one of the founder members of Jan Swasthya Sahyog, a community health organisation in Bilaspur, in Chhattisgarh, said. “If the objective is to diagnose drug-resistant tuberculosis, then the algorithm used by the programme is inappropriate.”

When Gauri Lankesh decided to “give a piece of my mind to the local Lingayats” in a small town in Karnataka

By Chidanand Rajghatta | 12 May 2018
In September 2017, the journalist Gauri Lankesh was shot dead outside her home in Rajarajeshwari Nagar in Bengaluru. Her murder appeared similar to the killings of noted rationalists in the four preceding years—Narendra Dabholkar, Govind Pansare and MM Kalburgi, were all, like Lankesh, shot dead. Lankesh’s death, like the previous three murders, appeared motivated by a similar ideological conflict, and preliminary investigations indicated a similar modus operandi, including the use of a common weapon. Lankesh and Kalburgi in particular, who was shot dead at his home on 30 August 2015, shared a common ideological position, especially on the issue of the Lingayat religion. They were both outspoken critics of Hinduism and distinguished it from the Lingayat theology. Both drew the ire of Hindu groups for their vocal positions.

“Aadhaar-enabled savings are nothing but government-sponsored propaganda”: Jean Drèze on social-welfare programmes under the NDA government

By Sagar | 11 May 2018
The economist Jean Drèze’s book, Sense and Solidarity, published in late 2017, deals with the impact of Aadhaar on social-welfare programmes, such as the National Food Security Act and the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, among other things. Drèze was a member of the United Progressive Alliance government’s advisory council, which designed the NFSA and MGNREGS. He co-authored some of the essays in this book with colleagues and activist friends, including his wife, Bela Bhatia. Drèze spoke to Sagar, a web reporter at The Caravan, about the National Democratic Alliance government’s indifference towards social-welfare programmes, many of which have seen the exclusion of genuine beneficiaries due to the mandatory requirement of an Aadhaar number.

Despite the constitution of a panel to probe deaths, Jharkhand’s hunger crisis is likely to worsen

By Sagar | 10 May 2018
Suman Kumari resides in a small house in Bhalgora, a Dalit basti in the Jharia block of Jharkhand’s Dhanbad district. The doorway leads to two adjacent rooms, both only large enough to contain a charpoy each. A makeshift toilet stood across the rooms, and a mud stove that served as the kitchen abutted the first room. The entire house, made of unplastered brick and with an asbestos roof, did not appear to contain any personal belongings apart from the charpoys, a few clothes, and some utensils. Kumari told me that her 18-year-old brother stayed with her maternal grandmother “due to lack of food at home.”

RTI reveals that ten founding members of the controversial Lokniti Foundation are civil servants

By Aria Thaker | 8 May 2018
During the ongoing Supreme Court hearings challenging the Aadhaar programme, the central government has shifted positions on the issue of making Aadhaar mandatory for mobile connections. In late April, HuffPost India published a story about the Lokniti Foundation, a “secretive organisation” that had filed a petition seeking “100% verification of the mobile phone subscribers.” The story noted that Lokniti had filed multiple public interest litigations in the Supreme Court to elicit governmental reforms. New evidence, obtained through a Right to Information request, reveals that ten of Lokniti’s 17 founding members are civil servants. The discovery raises important questions about the organisation’s relationship with the government, and the circumstances surrounding its petition.
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