Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Condemn the use of Death Penalty to Appease Jingoist Forces! Resist the Attempts of the UPA and the RSS-ABVP to Silence Voices of Dissent!!

The execution of Mohammad Afzal Guru and the time and manner in which it has been carried out have thrown up several questions that are uncomfortable to the ruling classes of our country. Afzal Guru was condemned to death to satisfy “the collective conscience of the society” (sic). The fact that such a verdict came, and that a “hush-hush” execution was carried out by the UPA government even as the victims of a number of communal pogroms including Gujarat 2002 have been left in the lurk by the justice system at a time when even sections of the ruling classes have had to concede to the involvement of “saffron terror” groups in such incidents (as indicated by the recent statement by the Union Home Minister), raises a question mark over the nature of our legal process as well. Most condemnably, the government chose to inform Guru’s family about the execution through speed post, and refused to hand over his dead body to them. 
The hanging has made explicit the political agenda of the Congress to appease a section of hawkish public opinion championed until now by the RSS-led Sangh Parivar. The UPA is clearly hoping to steal the BJP’s “thunder” by advancing right-wing jingoism in national politics through the execution of Afzal Guru.
To add insult to injury, the Congress has chosen to muzzle all shades of opinion which have refused to buy the ruling class version of the whole episode. Iftikhar Gilani (Assistant Editor of English daily DNA) and his family were detained for his “crime” of being the son-in-law of Syed Ali Shah Geelani, while the Delhi University lecturer SAR Geelani, who was acquitted by the Supreme Court in the Parliament attack case, was detained for talking with the media!

Afzal Guru’s execution has only served to alienate large sections of Kashmiri people, and has given a fillip to the right-wing – there were macabre celebrations of the hanging and a massive attack on dissenting voices. The people who were protesting against the execution were manhandled and abused by right-wing mobs. On Saturday, members of the Bajrang Dal attacked the youth protesting against the hanging of Afzal Guru at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi. Students from JNU, Delhi University and Jamia Millia Islamia were among those who had to bear the brunt of such attacks.

Inside the JNU campus too, the Sanghi lumpens did not miss a chance to “celebrate” the execution. Goons of the ABVP, which has a long, shameful history of lumpenism involving attacks against students and teachers belonging to minority communities, have branded the students who were protesting against the execution as “anti-national”. SFI condemns the UPA-II’s heinous ploy of using the death penalty to further narrow political goals instead of bringing to book the real culprits of the attack on the Indian Parliament. We appeal to all democratic sections of society to unite against the strategy of the Congress to appease the communal, fascistic elements of the right-wing, and against the reprehensible act of curbing and brute silencing of the voices of dissent.

Monday, 4 February 2013

Public Meeting: Vijay Prashad

At a time when neoliberal capitalism is undergoing a protracted crisis, popular movements advocating and probing alternatives to capitalism are sprouting up all across the world. The Left forces have made significant strides in Latin America – radical interventions by left-led governments in the region have reversed privatisation, nationalised oil and gas resources, implemented extensive land reforms, promoted collective enterprises and ushered in a democratisation of the political system. Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador and Nicaragua along with Cuba have been in the forefront of challenging the stranglehold of US imperialism in the region. The platform of Bolivarianism draws from powerful political movements that have sprung up in Latin America over the past few decades, and takes them forward in an organized form. The challenges facing the left-leaning governments in the region are enormous, and it remains to be seen whether these regimes (socialist Cuba being the exception) have the mettle to go all the way to transcend capitalism rather than remaining content with “social democracy” or “radical democracy”.

In another part of the globe, the Arab Spring has echoed the intensifying anger among the people in various countries against the curbing of political and economic rights. The wave of people’s protests and mass actions that has swept across the Arab world, triggered by spiralling price rise and massive levels of poverty and unemployment, has articulated the demand for freedom, democracy and responsible governments. But the road ahead for the people of the region is a long and arduous one, as the newly elected governments have not shown the determination or vision to confront neoliberalism head on.

Europe and North America have seen massive protests against austerity measures in recent times. Youth protests have rocked Spain, while general strikes by workers have taken place in Greece, Portugal, Italy, France, Britain and other countries. The movement of the indignados in Spain and ‘Occupy’ movements in various countries confronted the regimes of austerity, but their gestures of opposition have neither gathered sufficient momentum, nor have they been able to put forward policy alternatives that are concrete enough. In Greece, the SYRIZA coalition was able to make some headway electorally, but has been shackled by its own limited vision, as it holds fast to the erroneous belief that neoliberalism can be effectively countered by remaining within the eurozone.

To assess the current state of struggles across the globe against neoliberalism, the possibilities thrown up by such movements along with their limitations, tonight we have in our midst Prof. Vijay Prashad, the George and Martha Kellner Chair in South Asian History and Professor of International Studies at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut, USA. He is the author of a number of books including Arab Spring, Libyan Winter (2012), The Darker Nations: A People's History of the Third  World (2007) and Dispatches from Latin America: On the Frontlines Against Neoliberalism (2006), and writes regularly for Frontline and Counterpunch.

Kopal, Secretary, SFI JNU Unit
Manu M R, President, SFI JNU Unit

Join the public meeting on

"Breaking the Crust of US Hegemony: 
Bolivarianism, Arab Spring… What's Next?"

Speaker: Vijay Prashad, Trinity College, Hartford, Connecticut, USA

Venue: Sutlej Mess
Tonight at 9.30 pm