right to overrule

The "Right to Food Campaign" is an informal network of organisations and individuals committed to the realisation of the right to food in India. We consider that everyone has a fundamental right to be free from hunger and undernutrition. Realising this right requires not only equitable and sustainable food systems, but also entitlements relating to livelihood security such as the right to work, land reform and social security. We consider that the primary responsibility for guaranteeing these entitlements rests with the state. Lack of financial resources cannot be accepted as an excuse for abdicating this responsibility. In the present context, where people's basic needs are not a political priority, state intervention itself depends on effective popular organisation. We are committed to fostering this process through all democratic means. [emphasis mine]
that's the foundation statement of the right to food campaign.please check the highlighted line again: don't our elections produce 'popular' governments? if elected governments don't represent 'popular' organisations, who does?

the barely concealed contempt for india's politics, democracy and the ordinary indian who considers himself a participant in both can also be noticed in the dazzling rhetoric of other 'right to..' campaigners. indian politics can't handle this serious stuff, so here's what the indian state, through its 'civil', hence neutral and untainted by the filth of politics, bureaucracy needs to do to deliver these 'rights'. in effect, what the campaigners want the state to do is to overrule the the 'politics' of the elected government.   

and they've been succeeding. the nac is filled with these campaigners, and the nac, of course, talks to sonia gandhi more often than the elected government does. and why does the elected government have to consult with sonia gandhi? because sonia gandhi is the party. if she didn't nominate every one of the 'elected' lawmakers (down to panchayat sarpanches and even ward members, sometimes) and if her endorsement wasn't required for the 'election' of the lowliest official in her party across the country, you could have said: the congress is bigger than sonia gandhi.


that was a draft i had worked on 7 months ago. a couple of days ago, i see that sonia gandhi is not just congress party, or the government. she is god. food and consumer affairs minister k.v.thomas says:

“The draft Bill is ready now. I don’t say it is in line with NAC or not. But it is in line with what is in the mind of Madam Sonia Gandhi,” he said.
“The principle of Sonia Gandhi is that every citizen of the country should get legal cover toward a certain quantity of nutritious food, not simply foodgrains,” he shared.
in the 7 months since i started on this post, the priests of civil society have moved much closer to god, through the lokpal coup d'etat, pushing parliament into more 'ineffectiveness'. this current move shows utter contempt for not just parliament, elected through popular vote, but also ignores totally a majority of those who participate in the popular vote-- cultivators and workers. one wonders if god, while nodding her assent to all the sanctimonious mumbo-jumbo her civil society priests were chanting before her, had thought even a little about the answers they didn't have?

* who shall pay for the increased procurement? the fci procures, and if it pays a higher msp to the farmer, the govt will have to dole out a greater amount by way of subsidies to the pds. in balancing these two actions, will the farmer always not get paid less to keep the subsidies lower? or will the msp not be a function of the pds prices, always? should cultivators and workers continue to pay with stagnation and death for the food security of the urban middle classes?
* wheat and rice, the brahmin grains, will drive this increased procurement, as always. what about the farmers who produce less brahminical cereals like jowar, bajra etc?
* will surpluses continue to be procured from 3-4 states? wouldn't that destroy any incentive for food security in the majority of states, like it has done in all these years?
* shouldn't food security be a concern of the states, primarily, regions within the states, and districts within regions and blocks within districts and villages within blocks to be more meaningful?
* rice is a water-guzzler and has taken away a much needed resource from millions and millions of ordinary citizens, especially in northwest india, a region which never produced rice in much quantity before the so-called green revolution.. who will pay for this water, which means thirst, hardship, lack of basic sanitation.. dry toilets and again stagnation, caste and much more?
* there is increased competition among many states to build costly but ineffective irrigation systems to tap water to grow rice and other such crops.. who will pay for all the bad blood among states and regions? for the ecological disasters and the adivasi displacements? does india need more rice, at such heavy costs?

questions. one can think of many more questions, but the priests know better, i guess.  


the death of merit

This documentary is second in the series of our efforts to document caste-based discrimination prevalent in Indian higher education system resulting in large number of suicides of Dalit students in Indian campuses.
It is based on the testimonies of parents and family members of Dr Jaspreet Singh, 22 years, who was a student of Final Year, MBBS at Government Medical College, Chandigarh. He committed suicide on 27th January, 2008, by hanging himself on the 5th floor of his college’s library.
go watch the the testimonies of jaspreet's family and others on how a certain professor, and the indifferent administration of the college, drove him to death.

also watch, in the same post, the earlier documentary on dr.bal mukund bharti of all india institute of medical sciences, delhi, who was hounded by five, not one, casteist professors until his death in march, last year.

or, don't watch. if you don't wish to know that they didn't die of 'academic pressure', 'failed love affairs' or 'depression'. 


linesh mohan gawle

that was his name. google asks whether you meant dinesh mohan gawli? some news sites had chosen that name. most reported the death of linesh mohan gawli.

you'll also find his name in the List of PhD. Applicants Short-listed for Written Test/Interview in SCHOOL OF BIOSCIENCES & BIOENGINEERING of iit bombay (# 203), and also here and a couple of other such lists.

he usually got short-listed. 'scored 98 percent marks in the Graduate Aptitude Test in Engineering (GATE) test' as fellow students say. he was very bright, topped classes through his career. he was as meritorious as those who consider themselves the best interpreters of merit. so, what killed him?

when madhuri sale was killed six months ago, i'd started on a post titled 'another murder', but couldn't finish it. here's the draft:
in education, there are two ways of producing 'excellence': giving everyone the best, or picking the 'best' among everyone and giving them the best. 
the second method is something hitler would have wholeheartedly endorsed. he was so big on excellence and purity, as everyone knows, that he was as keen on keeping un-excellence out, or dysgenics, as he was on eugenics, in improving racial stock. 
listen to what nehru had told his chief ministers in 1961: 'I dislike any kind of reservations. If we go in for any kind of reservations on communal and caste basis, we will swamp the bright and able people and remain second rate or third rate. The moment we encourage the second rate, we are lost. This way lies not only folly, but also disaster.' 
swamping 'the bright people' with the 'second rate or third rate' people? definitely not. nehru was as against varna sankara, as you can see, as hitler. 
lost in all this discourse on excellence and merit i will never be able to figure out why a state has to work towards producing the best engineers or best doctors or best international relations graduates. how are those goals different from trying to produce beauty queens? 
that's why i have never understood the need for the iits, or the iims or jnu or any other elitism in education.
being the 'best' could be a personal goal, not the goal of a society. unless the society in question is hitler's germany or nehru's india.

our media, or society, couldn't even get linesh's name right, the first time they wrote about his 'suicide'. and most first news reports about madhuri sale also got her name wrong, as madhuri salve. obviously, india is a society which clings to abstract ideals, like merit and purity, and ignores concrete realities. can it ever really be best in anything hard, cold, real? if there is such a thing as the best, objectively defined, of course. 

so it does the next best thing, always, adopting a winning combination of the two methods described above. it picks a class of people as the 'best' from birth (like 'fascist' hitler) and gives them the best, but makes it seem like the whole process is very democratic by designing a whole environment which weeds out everyone but them, from any contest (a 'socialist' nehru innovation). but when someone like linesh gawle or madhuri sale, people who couldn't even pick decent sanskritic surnames, come along, leaping over all walls and fences into this custom-designed environment, how can the meritorious tell them, openly, that merit is all about caste, and not merit? so they all die, suddenly, of 'depression' or 'failed love affairs'. or buckle under 'meritorious academic pressure' imposed on them by their gurus.    


Echoes of stillborn histories

What can we learn from this documentary, ’The Death of Merit’?

Bal Mukund Bharti was determined to become a doctor. And his teachers were also very determined: ‘you’ll never pass MBBS’, they told him.

Bal Mukund didn’t give up, nor did his family. Father, mother, married sister, uncle, aunt– they were all determined to support him in his ardent journey, which was steadily converted into an uphill struggle by AIIMS, to become a doctor. They scraped, pooled together whatever meagre resources they could to send him to AIIMS.

Uncle says they invested everything they earned in his education. Sister who made only 2,500 rupees a month helped whenever father, who worked in a job which sometimes made him wait 3 long months for wages, couldn’t. It wasn’t a small dream; if realized, it could have become a source of hope and pride for many more people outside the immediate family.

As Bal Mukund’s proud father says, ‘he was the first one from our community to become a doctor in fifty years!’. Bal Mukund’s intelligence and superior scholastic record instilled that kind of confidence in the family, stoked such high hopes.

Imagine: the first doctor from a community in fifty years, or in two millennia, possibly. Also imagine Rakesh Sharma or Kalpana Chawla, people of the ‘wrong’ race, being told by the Russians or the Americans: ‘you’ll never go into space’.

But AIIMS was determined it would see Bal Mukund only as a ‘harijan’, as a person from the ‘wrong’ caste. Imagine history being snuffed out in the womb. That shouldn’t be very difficult to imagine if you step two years back into history and think of Senthil Kumar of the University of Hyderabad.

please read the rest here
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