Saturday, January 23, 2016

Dalit student who protested against Modi evicted from guesthouse

Ram Karan Nirmal and Amrendra Kumar Arya found themselves surrounded by security personnel soon after raising slogans against Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday. Their mouths were forcibly shut as they were dragged away to preventive detention.
Shortly after he stepped out of custody, Mr. Nirmal, 31, was dissapointed and shocked to hear that the Babasaheb Bhimrao Ambedkar University officials cancelled his stay at the University hostel as a punitive measure. Mr. Nirmal finds a glaring similarity between his eviction and the harassment faced by Hyderabad scholar Rohith Vemula.
“I voiced my dissent. For that I was evicted from the Siddhartha Boys’ Hostel of the university and my boarding for the night cancelled even though my room was booked for two days. We had deposited Rs. 200 for the boarding,” said Mr. Nirmal, who was left to bear the nippy North Indian winter night without any roof. A copy of the hostel bill is with The Hindu.
'No sense of regret'
However, for the young Dalit men who shouted “Modi, go back,” “Modi Murdabad,” “Inquilab zindabad, Phule Ambedkar zindabad,” during the convocation ceremony on Friday, there is no sense of regret. In fact, they are “proud” of their act. “We feel like responsible citizens who have the right to dissent. If given a chance we will do it again,” said Mr. Arya, 24, an LLM graduate.
Mr. Nirmal and Mr. Arya were booked under Section 151 (disturbance of public peace) of the Indian Penal Code and sent to preventive custody. After a few hours, the police released them on a personal bond.
Dismissing any accusations of a publicity stunt, the two said they decided to stage a protest against Mr. Modi when they could not longer bear his silence around the death of Rohith Vemula.
The two claim no political affiliation and say the protest was staged solely on their own will.
“PM Modi tweets every minor and random thing — be it a Mayor election or wishing somebody on their birthday. But he has not said anything on issues of grave injustice, like the murders of Akhlaq, Dabolkar and Kalburgi,” said Mr. Arya.
The students belong to the Dalit community and hail from humble backgrounds. Mr. Nirmal, a Dhobi, is the son of a farmer from Kaushambi, while Mr. Arya’s father (a Jatav) is a retired gram panchayat secretary hailing from Sant Kabir Nagar.
Another student who participated in the sloganeering but was not held by the police was Surendra Nigam, a Pasi, who teaches at a private college in Mirzapur.
Mr. Arya and Mr. Nirmal live as roommates in New Delhi where they are both preparing for judicial entrance exams.
'We are worried by the trend'
During his speech, Mr. Modi broke his silence on the death of Rohith Vemula, saying that he could feel the agony of the scholar’s parents.
“What delayed him for so many days? Just because we protested he was forced to shed crocodile tears. He was forced to speak up merely for fear of losing Dalit votes in the 2017 elections,” Mr. Nigam said.
While the suicide of Vemula was the trigger to their outrageous protest, the Dalit youth say it was borne out of their growing frustration with the ‘saffronisation’ of educational institutes under the NDA government and its indifference towards Dalit students.
“There is institutionalised saffronisation at play. Talk of Mandir-Masjid instead of education. And as citizens we are worried by the trend. We thought of no better platform than this to get our voices heard,” said Mr. Nirmal, a gold medallist in human rights.
Though the police let off Mr. Nirmal and Mr. Arya with a warning, the men allege they were threatened of future consequences if they did not give up their ways. “If we were Muslim, we could so easily have been branded terrorists,” Mr. Nirmal said.
The two said they could relate to the experience of Vemula and the “internal discrimination” faced by the Dalits and Muslims in the country. “Every day we hear of discrimination against Dalits and Muslims. We see bias in every walk of life. We also have been mentally harassed in our university, BBAU, which faces institutionalised bias. Through our protest, we wanted to call out every atrocity faced by students like Rohith,” Mr. Arya said.
Ambedkar University proctor Kamal Jaiswal denied allegations that the institution forced Mr. Nirmal to leave. “He left on his own accord. The institution has not said anything like that. Some other people, with political motivations, may have...but the institution has not told him anything,” Mr. Jaiswal said.
“We have provisions to provide temporary accommodation as guests for students and parents for the convocation. These persons have completed their degrees and are not students of the institution any longer. Once the tenure of his stay got over, he left the premises,” Mr. Jaiswal said.
However, Mr. Nirmal, stood by his claim and said his tenure was cut short by officials.

The Bull laid Bare - Has the Modi juggernaut come to a halt?

At some point in time, every magic show must end. 

The lights are switched on. 

The audience, captivated by the magicians and accustomed to the darkness of the dimly lit hall, rub their eyes to the new reality of the bright lights. 

And so it is with stock markets.
Moved by Magic, levitated by myths, they must eventually face the reality of earnings. 

After two years of waving magic wands and spinning promises, the lights are now turned on.
The Bull is stark naked. 

The central bankers of the world gave the illusion that they knew exactly what was happening and all their actions were data driven.

The governments of countries ranging from Brazil to China to Russia - the part of the legendary fearsome foursome that comprised BRIC - lost control of their economies long before they announced their surrender. 

India - the shining light in BRIC and, supposedly, in the world - has to face month after month of disappointing economic data in an increasingly difficult world. Our one blessing is that the price of oil has collapsed. Beyond that one hard comforting fact, one can clutch to straws of hope and justify why India is a star and can defy gravity like the Indian Rope Trick. 

Smoking is dangerous for your health 

Cheered on by the Modi Brigade, the research analysts envisaged a new India. 

The famous Arnab interview made it obvious that Rahul Gandhi was a non-starter for the post of Prime Minister and that the Modi juggernaut was on its way to victory. Quick to follow up on the social media chatter, the research analysts inputted their fictional data points of the 'Gujarat Model' into their 'Excel models' and came up with a surge in earnings. 

There was no concrete fact to support that action. 

Instead, there was a blurring of reality, prayer, hope, cheerleading and desperation. 

The crowd loved the magicians and their trick of upping the earnings estimates.
The magicians loved the crowd for cheering them on. 

Pretty soon it became unclear who was leading the dandiya twirl: but no one cared.
The music was hypnotizing.
The beat was mesmerizing. 
The finance companies were raking it in with real commissions and real revenues. 
The investors dreamt of a great future from their paper wealth. 

Graph 1: Earnings Estimates were wildly off - but who cares!

But soon the analysts ran out of whatever they were smoking and whatever it was that they were drinking. Given their elevated status, it may not have been legal. 

The Modi administration has had to face the reality of dealing with a diverse country with many difficulties and challenges: Gujarat has Gujaratis but India has Indians with different needs and demands. 

Magicians cannot solve these problems.
Slogans cannot solve the varied issues that are required to 'Fix India'. 
The analysts had to modify their Excel Sheets to face the reality of reported earnings. 

The global environment has made life a lot more difficult what with the complication of a weak currency, the need for foreign flows to support stretched asset prices, and companies with debt in foreign currency. 

With no surge in earnings to support the surge in share prices, the Indian stock markets were always vulnerable.
A reality check was long overdue. 

Graph 2: Getting closer to value: historical PER of India expands as historical EPS is adjusted downwards on disappointing results

Every bull market must come to an end. 

This one never had any earnings power behind it. 

It had hope, it had prayers, and it had a lot of research analysts smoking something that may not have been tobacco as they peered into the future. 

Now that the haze of the smoke has cleared and the lights have been switched on, it is time to face the reality. 

The mid-cap and small-cap indices still have a long way to fall to better reflect their underlying earnings power. When it happens, it will be ugly. 

Indian stock markets are a great place to invest in a sensible, deliberate, and calibrated manner - but recklessly inhaling whatever the financial services industry conjures up for you is injurious to your wealth!

The above is from the mail "The Honest Truth" written by Ajit Dayal, which I receive from Equitymaster.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Being Humble - Abraham Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln's father was a shoemaker, and Lincoln became the US president. The first speech that Lincoln delivered on the inauguration of his first term was interrupted right at the beginning. 

A man stood up and showing his shoes said, 'Mr. Lincoln, by accident, you have become the president. But never forget that your father was a shoemaker. In fact, in my family, your father used to come to make shoes for everybody. The shoes I am showing you were made by your father.' 

The whole Senate laughed; they thought they had humiliated Lincoln. But with tears in his eyes, Lincoln said, 'I am immensely grateful to you for reminding me of my father. He was a perfect shoemaker, and I know I cannot be that perfect a president. I cannot beat him. But I will try my best to at least reach close to his greatness. As for your family and the shoes my father has made, I can inform the whole Senate that there may be other aristocratic families that my father used to make shoes for. He has taught me a little bit of the art of shoemaking too. If his shoes are not working well, if they pinch you, if they are too tight, or too loose, I can always mend them. I am my own father's son. Of course, it will not be the same as my father, but he is dead.

Being humble means being humble and not beating your chest about it.
We have a person who has now become the Prime Minister boasts of his once being a chaiwala, but that is just to get votes. 
He is not being humble by any stretch of imagination just as his boast of having a 56" chest which has now come down to 5.6".
Why isn't India progressing while the US even being down is looked up to by the cream of our youth?
Why does India spend money on their education and raising them and when they reach age, they rush off to the USA, inspite of having to pay high visa fees?
It is just for what we see in the above.
Abe Lincoln could become the President of the mighty nation in spite of being a cobbler's son (we call then dalits in India), without any reservation policy.
The reservation policy in India has benefited only the fatcats who are already rich and becoming fatter, people like Ram Vilas Paswan.
But what immense damage is it doing to India where the cream of our youth go abroad  because a person getting 30% marks becomes his boss because of our reservation policy.
The reservation policy has just become a vote bank policy just like the minority policy. Our leaders do not believe in it as is evident from the dalit students death in Hyderabad. There has been no basic change in the mentality of our leaders inspite of 70 years of independence.
Because our very education system promotes it.
When in school, I read in our history books that India has a caste system and I thought it was all history. We in school were one and we never asked anyone his caste. In college too we did not have any caste disputes.
However, after college, when I started working in Bihar, I saw the caste system in full force and since, being politically conscious I am seeing that it has become a driving force of politics in India.
The political parties just want to continue milking it for the votes.
As long as it persists, India can never make progress.
Give the people who have been treated badly by society, free education up to Higher Secondary Level. Rather make education compulsory up to this level for all children in India. We should not see any children on the streets during school hours, they should be in school. College education has become very expensive. We should take reduced fees for all economically weak people.
But once in the job market, the best should be employed irrespective of caste, religion or language.
If you do not get the best teachers, doctors, engineers or administrative officers how  can we get good students, good health, good development or good government?
With people passing with 30% marks occupying such important posts, how can India progress?

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Growing crackdown on activists

The audacious and unprovoked attack last week on a group of activists who held a peaceful rally in Rajasthan can only be explained in terms of the rising resentment on the part of the ruling class towards civil society organisations demanding accountability. Flagged off by social activist Aruna Roy, the Jawabdehi Yatra was aimed to spread awareness about government schemes and raise the issue of accountability in their implementation. A mob, allegedly led by BJP legislator Kanwar Lal Meena, attacked the members of organisations such as the Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sanghathan (MKSS) at Aklera in Jhalawar district, in a sign that sections of the ruling party in the State were unhappy with civil society activists entering a region falling under a Lok Sabha constituency represented by Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje in the past and by her son Dushyant Singh now, and demanding answers from the authorities. While the police have registered a case and arrested some of the assailants, it was only after video footage showing the apparent presence of Mr. Meena in the crowd was released that there is a hint that his involvement may be probed. The 100-day yatra, under the banner of the Soochana Evam Rozgar ka Adhikar Abhiyan, itself was as innocuous a programme as there could be. It merely tried to cover blocks across all the State’s districts to listen to people’s grievances and spread awareness through street-corner meetings. The Rajasthan Chief Minister would do well to heed the call for a formal inquiry into the incident, come out openly in condemning such unsavoury events, and prosecute the offenders.
It is difficult to see this incident in isolation. The Centre itself has been a poor role model, looking at the way Greenpeace India has been hounded and its registration sought to be cancelled. It is not difficult to surmise that a message is being sent out that activism should be tempered by a nuanced deference to the state’s overarching interests. Even under the previous UPA regime, activists in Tamil Nadu opposing the Kudankulam nuclear power project faced, and continue to face, hostile treatment by various arms of the state. If bureaucratic aversion to criticism is often an adequate source of harassment and intimidation, political players too weigh in with disparaging remarks against non-governmental organisations and individual activists. Their influence is obvious in incidents as diverse as the prevention of a Greenpeace activist from going abroad and the registration of a large number of cases against activists. In recent years, civil society has played a significant role in shaping policy. Landmark pieces of legislation — the Right to Information Act, for instance — have come about only because the government chose to involve stakeholders across the political and social spectrum and obtain their inputs and advice. Any attempt to prevent the free functioning of such organisations will amount to de-legitimising key participants and stakeholders in the country’s social, economic and political policymaking sphere.

An open letter to Vice-Chancellor of University of Hyderabad

Nearly 130 academics from around the world have written an open letter to the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Hyderabad expressing their shock and anguish at the suicide of a Dalit scholar, Rohith Vemula, and demanding that justice be done. Here is the full text of the letter and the list of sigantories:

We of the global scholarly community make an urgent appeal that justice be done in the most recent case of caste discrimination in Indian higher education, that of the University of Hyderabad’s prejudicial suspension of five young Dalit men pursuing PhDs. It was ordered under political pressure, without even allowing the young men in question to speak in their own defense. It directly contravened an earlier decision made by the University administration itself, which had exonerated them of any charges of wrongdoing-charges which had been trumped up by political rivals opposed to the activism of these young men.
This prejudice has now exacted a terrible price. One of the five, a scholar of great promise, Rohith Vemula, committed suicide on January 17. Unable to bear the despair of having his one chance at a future snatched from him, of his value being reduced, in his own eloquent parting words, to nothing but “a vote” and “an immediate identity,” he took his own life. As scholars we know that individual actions are never just that. This suicide is not an individual act. It is the failure of premier higher educational institutions in democratic India to meet their most basic obligation: to foster the intellectual and personal growth of India’s most vulnerable young people. Instead, Rohith now joins a long list of victims of prejudice at premier institutions in the country, where pervasive discrimination drives so many Dalit students to depression and suicide, when not simply forcing them to quietly drop out.
As international scholars of South Asia, we ask the authorities at the University of Hyderabad to immediately reinstate Mr. Vemula's four peers, to provide support to his family, and to launch a police investigation into his passing. But that is not enough. The University of Hyderabad must ensure not only that justice be done now, but that further injustice be rigorously prevented. It is vital to the life of any academic institution to actively nurture students exactly like Rohith, whose contribution to civic life and healthy political debate made the university the place of learning and personal transformation it should be. Measures must be implemented to ensure that such students are supported and allowed to thrive when they enter what is all too often the hostile, casteist environment of higher education in India. A university where students turn away from life with the regularity they have at the University of Hyderabad requires urgent and massive rehauling.
The involvement of political leaders in buttressing caste discrimination in Indian universities, and the double standards applied by university administrations to anti-caste student activity, directly contribute to the negative reputation India is earning among scholars worldwide. We urge the University of Hyderabad to restore our confidence by living up to its obligation to end institutionalized discrimination, to educate all students in a climate of respect and empathy, and to resist political pressures to do otherwise. We are all watching.
1. Rupa Viswanath, Professor of Indian Religions, University of Göttingen, Germany
2. Joel Lee, Assistant Professor of Anthropology, Williams College, USA
3. Dwaipayan Sen, Assistant Professor of History, Amherst College, USA
4. Nathaniel Roberts, Research Fellow, Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity, Germany
5. Gajendran Ayyathurai, Postdoctoral Researcher, University of Göttingen, Germany
6. David Mosse, Professor, SOAS University of London, UK.
7. Karthikeyan Damodaran, PhD Scholar, University of Edinburgh.
8. Hugo Gorringe, Senior Lecturer, University of Edinburgh.
9. T. Dharmaraj, Visiting Professor, Centre for Modern Indian Studies, University of Göttingen.
10. Ania Loomba, Professor, University of Pennsylvania, USA.
11. Lalit Vachani, Research Fellow, Center for Modern Indian Studies, University of Göttingen, Germany
12. Srirupa Roy, Professor of State and Democracy, Center for Modern Indian Studies, University of Göttingen, Germany
13. Christophe Jaffrelot, Dr., CERI-Sciences Po/CNRS, Paris, France
14. Suvir Kaul, A. M. Rosenthal Professor, University of Pennsylvania, USA
15. Frank J. Korom, Professor of Religion and Anthropology, Boston University, USA
16. John Harriss, Professor, Simon Fraser University, Canada
17. Dilip Menon, Professor and Director, Centre for Indian Studies, University of Witwatersrand, South Africa
18. Raka Ray, Professor of Sociology and South and Southeast Asian Studies, University of California, Berkeley, USA.
19. Jonathan Spencer, Regius Professor of South Asian Language, Culture and Society, University of Edinburgh, UK
20. Constantine Nakassis, Assistant Professor of Anthropology, University of Chicago, USA
21. Sankaran Krishna, Professor of Political Science, University of Hawaii-Manoa, USA
22. Chandra Mallampalli, Professor of History, Westmont College, USA
23. Timothy Lubin, Professor, Washington and Lee University, USA
24. Linda Hess, Senior Lecturer, Stanford University, USA
25. Auritro Majumder, Assistant Professor, University of Houston, USA
26. P. Bagavandoss, Professor, Department of Biological Sciences, Kent State University, USA.
27. Shirin Rai, Professor of Politics and International Studies, University of Warwick, UK.
28. Indira Arumugam, Assistant Professor of Sociology, National University of Singapore
29. Michele Friedner, Assistant Professor, Stony Brook University, New York, USA
30. Dibyesh Anand, Associate Professor, University of Westminster, UK
31. Ravinder Kaur, Associate Professor, University of Copenhagen, Denmark.
32. James Caron, Lecturer in Islamicate South Asia, SOAS, University of London, UK.
33. Francis Cody, Associate Professor of Anthropology, University of Toronto, Canada.
34. Christopher Taylor, Assistant Professor of English, University of Chicago, USA
35. Alpa Shah, Associate Professor (Reader) of Anthropology, London School of Economics and Political Science, UK.
36. Bishnupriya Ghosh, Professor of English, University of California, Santa Barbara
37. Gloria Goodwin Raheja, Professor of Anthropology, University of Minnesota, USA
38. Anjali Arondekar, Associate Professor of Feminist Studies, University of California, Santa Cruz, USA
39. Nosheen Ali, Habib University, Karachi
40. Vazira Zamindar, Associate Professor of History, Brown University, USA
41. Kavita Philip, Professor of History, University of California at Irvine, USA
42. Bhavani Raman, Associate Professor, University of Toronto, Canada.
43. Subir Sinha, Development Studies, SOAS, London, UK.
44. Francesca Orsini, Professor, SOAS, London, UK.
45. Gilbert Achcar, Professor, SOAS, London, UK.
46. Nilanjan Sarkar, Deputy Director, South Asia Center, LSE, UK.
47. Jon Wilson, Senior Lecturer in History, King’s College, London, UK.
48. Peter van der Veer, Director and Professor at the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity, Göttingen, Germany.
49. Tam Ngo, Researcher, Max-Planck-Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity, Göttingen, Germany
50. Shakuntala Banaji, Lecturer, London School of Economics and Political Science, UK
51. Meena Dhanda, Reader in Philosophy and Cultural Politics, University of Wolverhampton, UK
52. Goldie Osuri, Associate Professor of Sociology, University of Warwick, UK.
53. Shana Sippy, Visiting Scholar, Carleton College, USA
54. Sarah Hodges, Associate Professor, University of Warwick, UK
55. Mukulika Banerjee, Associate Professor of Anthropology and Director, South Asia Centre, London School of Economics, UK
56. Paula Chakravartty, Associate Professor, MCC and Galatin, New York University, USA
57. Narendra Subramanian, Professor of Political Science, McGill University, Canada, and Visiting Senior Research Fellow, Max-Planck-Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity, Göttingen, Germany.
58. Gurminder K Bhambra, Professor, University of Warwick
59. Rashmi Varma, Associate Professor, University of Warwick, UK
60. Uday Chandra, Assistant Professor of Government, Georgetown University, Qatar
61. Anupama Rao, Associate Professor of History, Barnard College, Columbia University, USA
62. Neena Mahadev, Postdoctoral Fellow, Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity, Germany.
63. Nusrat S Chowdhury, Assistant Professor of Anthropology, Amherst College, USA
64. Kavin Paulraj, Lecturer, Saint Mary's College of California, USA
65. Asiya Alam, History Department, Louisiana State University, USA
66. Ananya Chakravarti, assistant professor of history, Georgetown University
67. Jesse Knutson, Assistant Professor of Sanskrit, University of Hawaii Manoa
68. Gopal Balakrishnan Professor, History of Consciousness, University of California Santa Cruz, USA
69. Geir Heierstad, Research Director, Norwegian Institute for Urban and Regional Research, Norway
70. Kenneth Bo Nielsen, Coordinator, Norwegian Network for Asian Studies, Norway.
71. Andrew Liu, Assistant Professor of History, Villanova University, USA
72. Toussaint Losier, Assistant Professor of Afro-American Studies, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, USA.
73. Pinky Hota, Assistant Professor of Anthropology, Smith College, Northampton MA
74. Madhumita Lahiri, Assistant Professor of English, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, USA
75. Juned Shaikh, Assistant Professor, Department of History, University of California, Santa Cruz
76. Neilesh Bose, Canada Research Chair in Global and Comparative History University of Victoria
77. Lawrence Cohen, Professor and Director, Institute of South Asia Studies, University of California, Berkeley, USA
78. John Holmwood, Professor of Sociology, University of Nottingham, UK.
79. Balmurli Natrajan, Associate Professor, William Paterson University of New Jersey, USA.
80. Richard Alexander, Lecturer in Financial Law, SOAS University of London, UK.
81. Eleanor Newbigin, Senior Lecturer, SOAS, University of London
82. Chinnaiah Jangam, Assistant Professor of History, Carleton University, Canada.
83. Matthew J Nelson, Reader in Politics, SOAS, University of London.
84. Sîan Hawthorne, Lecturer in Critical Theory & the Study of Religions, SOAS, London, UK.
85. Amrita Shodhan, SOAS, University of London, UK.
86. Michael Hutt Professor and Director, SOAS South Asia Institute, University of London, UK
87. Jonathan Goodhand, Professor in Conflict and Development Studies, SOAS, University of London, UK
88. Nitasha Kaul, Author and academic, University of Westminster, London.
89. Deepankar Basu, Associate Professor, University of Massachusetts, Amherst.
90. Somak Biswas, Doctoral Candidate, Department of History, University of Warwick, UK
91. Michael Levien, Assistant Professor of Sociology, Johns Hopkins University, USA
92. Nilisha Vashist, M.Phil/PhD student, University College London, UK
93. Rama Mantena, Associate Professor of History, University of Illinois at Chicago, USA
94. Sohini Kar, Assistant Professor, London School of Economics and Political Science, UK
95. Dr. Jacob Copeman, Social Anthropology, University of Edinburgh.
96. Dr. Priyamvada Gopal, Cambridge University, UK.
97. Carole Spary, Assistant Professor, University of Nottingham, UK.
98. James Putzel, Professor of Development Studies, LSE, UK.
99. Romola Sanyal, Assistant Professor, London School of Economics and Political Science, UK
100. Dr Barnita Bagchi, Literary Studies, Utrecht University, Netherlands.
101. Dag Erik Berg, Postdoctoral Fellow, Center for Modern Indian Studies, University of Göttingen, Germany.
102. Dr Kalpana Wilson, London School of Economics, UK
103. Chetan Bhatt, Professor, Department of Sociology, London School of Economics and Political Science, UK
104. Rahul Rao, Senior Lecturer in Politics, SOAS, University of London, UK
105. Dr Alan Bullion, The Open University, UK
106. Katharine Adeney, Professor and Director of the Institute of Asia and Pacific Studies, University of Nottingham, UK
107. Dr. Mara Matta, Modern Literatures of the Indian Subcontinent, SAPIENZA Università di Roma, Italy
108. Pritam Singh, Professor of Economics, Oxford Brookes University, UK.
109. Dr. Sunil Kumar, Lecturer, London School of Economics, UK
110. Maitreesh Ghatak, Professor of Economics, London School of Economics and Political Science, UK
111. Richa Nagar, Professor, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, USA
112. Mary Kaldor, Professor, London School of Economics and Political Science, UK
113. David Lewis, Professor of Social Policy, London School of Economics and Political Science, UK
114. Dr. Suthaharan Nadarajah, Lecturer, SOAS, University of London
115. Dr. Navtej Purewal, SOAS, University of London, UK
116. Shruti Sinha, Toulouse School of Economics, France.
117. Robert Cassen, Professor
118. Apurba Kundu, Deputy Dean, Anglia Ruskin University, UK.
119. Rachel McDermott, Associate Professor of Religion, Barnard College, Columbia University, USA.
120. Dr. Clarinda Still, Contemporary South Asian Studies Programme, University of Oxford, UK
121. Chad M. Bauman, Associate Professor of Religion, Butler University, USA.
122. Nandini Bhattacharya, Lecturer in History, University of Dundee, UK
123. Vijay Prashad, Professor, Trinity College, USA and Chief Editor, LeftWord Books.
124. Lucinda Ramberg, Assistant Professor, Cornell University, USA.
125. Pippa Virdee, Senior Lecturer in Modern South Asian History, De Montfort University, UK.
126. Andrew J. Nicholson, Associate Professor, State University of New York, Stony Brook
127. Dr. Teena Purohit, Department of Religion, Boston University.
128. Sahana Bajpaie, Instructor in Bengali, SOAS, University of London, UK.
129. M. V. Ramana, Physicist, Princeton University, USA

Tuesday, January 19, 2016


In the public interest litigation (PIL) filed by PBT alleging that disgraced ex-MCI chief, Dr. Ketan Desai, had rigged the last MCI election held in December, 2013 to put his hand-picked cronies at the helm of the MCI, central health ministry and MCI have filed their affidavits in the Supreme Court in which both have opposed the writ petition and defended Dr. Desai. This important PIL is expected to come for final argument in the next few weeks.
One of the principle allegations raised by the PBT is that Dr. Desai hosted a lavish dinner party at the IMA house in Delhi just the night before the election day where a printed list was circulated among all the newly elected MCI members in which specific names of doctors who would be elected to the top posts in the next day’s MCI election was categorically listed. Next day each of those candidates selected by Dr. Desai was elected, all without any contest, to their respective positions as noted in the list circulated at the dinner party the night before. While denying any foul play in the MCI election, both government and MCI have not been able to deny about the development allegedly took place at dinner party hosted by Dr. Desai as claimed by the PBT. Although we will have to wait for the final verdict from the Apex Court to uncover the entire truth, we wonder why the central government has decided to defend a grossly tainted man like Dr. Ketan Desai who is free on bail and waiting for criminal trial to face serious charges of bribery and corruption.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Blood on parade road - Rampage in Audi and escape at Fort William doorstep

Calcutta, Jan. 13: An Audi SUV associated with the sons of a Trinamul leader breached multiple barriers at the doorstep of Fort William and flung to death an air force corporal instructing a contingent rehearsing for the Republic Day parade at the gateway of Red Road at daybreak.

Corporal Abhimanyu Gaud, who hailed from Surat in Gujarat and traced his roots to Uttar Pradesh, was 21.
The Audi Q7 is registered in the name of a company called Mussadi Business Pvt Ltd. According to the Registrar of Companies, Ambia Sohrab is an additional director and Tousiff Sohrab, also known as Sambia, is a director of the company.

Ambia and Sambia are the sons of Mohammad Sohrab, a Trinamul leader and a former legislator elected on a ticket from Lalu Prasad's Rashtriya Janata Dal. Sohrab senior is said to wield considerable clout in Burrabazar.
Mohammad Sohrab was spotted sitting near Mukul Roy, who has recently revived public contact with the Trinamul leadership, at the Ghulam Ali concert yesterday.

The SUV and its unidentified occupants had a free run for nearly a kilometre, challenged only by guardrails that were tossed away like matchsticks under high-velocity impact. The wild ride unfolded on what should have been the most secure stretch inCalcutta at all times and particularly after the Pathankot air base attack. (See chart above)

The way the security services responded to a rapidly evolving situation right outside the headquarters of the Eastern Command also stirred alarm. Little other than multiple layers of guardrails could be deployed after a wireless alert that gave the police a lead time of not much but still over 40 precious seconds.
What if the vehicle was ferrying attackers similar to those who struck at Pathankot? What if the vehicle was laden with explosives?

An air force official described the tragedy after the SUV driver took a U-turn, probably after spotting the reinforced, multiple layers of guardrails: "We saw the car heading straight towards us. It hit our instructor who was standing by the roadside while we were marching through the middle of the road. He was flung 20 feet in the air and the vehicle had sped away."

The SUV eventually stopped 200 metres away. But the occupants of the car slipped away - an inexplicable feat on the flat and vast terrain that offers few hiding places and with the nearest available vehicles 400 metres away as traffic was restricted for the annual parade rehearsal.
The police blamed fog but once the political connection of the SUV emerged, allegations invariably were levelled that the suspects were allowed to walk away.

The Regional Met Office at Alipore did not record fog there today but meteorologists said "fog in pockets", especially in open spaces likes the Maidan, could not be ruled out.
Police sources said there were at least six police pickets in the area and a combat battalion armed with Insas rifles. "We are trying to find out if there was any lapse on the part of the policemen on duty," said a senior IPS officer at Lalbazar.

Insiders said a senior deputy commissioner of police was in charge of today's parade rehearsals. At the time of the incident, he was near the flag-hoisting point on Red Road. A clutch of assistant commissioners of police, inspectors and other policemen was present around the area where the incident took place.

"There was no way anyone could identify and even get hold of those who fled after parking the car. Since there were no vehicles at that point of time, police would have to walk down to reach them. From the nearest picket, that would be a walk of around 10 minutes. Others present were a section of morning walkers, who would have no clue to what had happened," said Debasish Boral, the joint commissioner police, crime.

The police were initially reluctant to disclose the ownership but once chief minister Mamata Banerjee said "people who drive cars this way have no right to drive at all", information trickled out.
The chief minister, who visited Command Hospital where the corporal was declared dead, said: "It is very unfortunate. This car had broken three to four barriers. What is this? Who issues licence to such people? I have asked the police to start a murder case."

The police went to the Sohrab residence in Jorasanko but neither the brothers nor their father was at home. "The car belongs to a company owned by Sohrab's sons. But it is yet to be ascertained who was driving it," Boral said.
Police sources said the investigators suspected that Sambia and a grandson of jailed satta don Rashid Khan might have been present in the car. A relative of Khan has been detained for questioning.

On opening the SUV, the police smelt a strong "perfume-like" fragrance. It is not clear whether the fragrant substance was used to mask either alcohol or some object being transported.

The above is from "The Telegraph"