Freedom of Speech and Expression: Caste, Creed, Cringe!

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By ALBERTINA ALMEIDA

 

Recently, with the killing of Gauri Lankesh, the controversy over Sudirsukt and the death threats to writers such as Kancha Ilaiah Shepherd, certain facets of freedom of speech have come under sharp scrutiny, making one question  who cringes about what speech and expression, what is the ambit of freedom of speech that we value, and who does so at what times.

 

If one delves, what surfaces is a motley mix of what the establishment and of the dominant non State actors/vigilantes feels challenged by. It could be the reach of those who use the vernacular. It could be the powerful way of expressing thoughts that disturbs the entrenched casteism, communalism and corporate capital, it could be the very fact that those who speak out and the people whose support and solidarity they enjoy, are not ones to buckle under any pressures. It could be that the writings of those under scrutiny or attack are transgressions on what is considered ‘normal’ writing, that is, the writing that has the stamp of the dominant forces.

 

Moreover, society conditions people especially women who are considered the pall bearers of whatever it understands as culture. Part of the conditioning includes scorn for any behaviour of individuals who are considered members of ‘other’ communities and adulation for the conduct of one’s ‘own’ caste or community. This includes conditioning of the attitude to the sexual behavior of individuals of communities other than one’s own. There is an unwritten rule for instance, that if upper caste women will conform to the community’s codes of othering, they will be protected by the dominant males of the community. On the other hand, women from the depressed castes have to endure caste prejudices and discrimination from the dominant castes and discrimination from amongst their own as well.

 

Who was Gauri Lankesh?

 

Journalist Gauri Lankesh, who was shot dead at her door step last month as she was entering home, was prolific in her writings mainly in the vernacular, but also in English, against right wing forces and particularly against casteism and the role it plays in fomenting communalism. In that sense, she would obviously have been also in conflict with the caste and business mores of the powerful Lingayat community that she belonged to, that runs some key businesses in Karnataka.

 

A fearless journalist, Lankesh wrote about and ridiculed the rise of authoritarian, patriarchal nationalism and human rights violations committed against religious minorities, different genders, persecuted people like the Rohingya refugees, sexual minorities; as well as oppressive traditions, caste politics, and the nexus between environmental destruction and corruption, a statement by the Asia Pacific Feminist Forum organized by the Asia Pacific Forum on Women Law and Development aptly stated.

 

We in Goa may recall that Gauri Lankesh was part of a fact finding committee investigating communal violence that took place in Sanvordem- Curchorem during the first week of March 2006. Lankesh was included precisely because she was known to be an active part of the movement against communalism in Karnataka and was known to take courageous stands on political issues. The Report that was brought out by the Fact Finding Committee in April 2006, called Broken Peace, sharply highlighted, what the members felt, were the root causes of the violence. It minced no words in stating that the violence, which had been dubbed as the first communal violence in Goa, was not in fact an aberration, but part of a continuum of a process of communalization. The Report pointed out that no interventions on the issue of communalism can be effective unless we recognize that Goan society is divided along lines of community, caste, and religion.

 

At that time, the Report was ridiculed, along with the writers, primarily by the people from the dominant caste who were seemingly forward, and a reference specifically made about Lankesh that she was a little-known obscure journalist. But those whose lie stood exposed sure knew where the shoe pinched. They knew that her writings had a significant outreach in the vernacular and that she wrote in easy understandable language that brought global politics and its inter-linkage with Indian/local politics to the fore. Her writing had the potential to create deep rumblings. That is what was, then and now, found most threatening.

 

We are aware that lay people are mobilized through rumour mongering and distorted presentations of reality to become foot soldiers in vicious campaigns. Therefore if anyone writes in the vernacular in an easily understandable language that breaks down and exposes the doings of the forces in power, it is especially threatening, because nobody can then easily be made into a tool to (mis)use. That, in my understanding, was what did Gauri in.

 

Threatened by Kancha Ilaiah’s outreach in Telugu

Prof. Kancha Ilaiah Shepherd, has also been systematically and boldly mounting a challenge to the Hindutva forces. Ilaiah, the Director, Centre for the Study of Social Exclusion and Inclusive Policy, Maulana Azad National Urdu University, Hyderabad, has received a death threat from an Arya Vysya leader, an MP of the Telugu Desam Party, an ally of the BJP at the Centre, via a press conference. This death threat has been issued, to use Ilaiah’s words, ‘for writing a chapter in my book called Post-Hindu India with a title called Social Smugglers, a concept I coined to capture caste cultural and economic exploitation in India, and translating it into Telugu they are attacking me”. At the time of writing this, Ilaiah is undergoing a self imposed house arrest, because of the physical threats he has faced.

 

Vishnu Wagh and the powerful Konkani poetry in Sudirsukt

It is also this same insecurity of the casteist communal and dominant forces, about the outreach and resonance with certain writings, that finds expression in the assault on Sudirsukt, a book of poems, by Vishnu Wagh, which I will dwell on a little more extensively, as the debate continues to rage, even as this goes to the press. Wagh, who ironically was the Santo Andre (one of the forty Legislative Assembly constituencies) BJP legislator during 2012-2017, is a well-known literateur, who has been writing extensively in Marathi. This is the language through which the Dalit Bahujan communities have had access to education, but that written language is still not exactly the spoken language of the Samaj, having the overtones of the Brahminical Puneri Marathi. The language of the Hindu Dalit Bahujan which still comes from an intense interaction with Goan soil, is Konkani, but NOT the Koknni that Goa’s dominant Hindu caste, the Gaud Saraswat Brahmins, speak or even recognize as Konkani. So when someone from the Dalit Bahujan Samaj writes in his own version of Konkani, it becomes powerful, threateningly so, to the status quo.

 

The quality and content of Wagh’s poetry

Wagh’s poetry is grasped and understood. It is vivid. It is livid against forces of caste oppression. It holds a mirror to the lot of the depressed castes. It has the potential to mobilise more people to speak up, come forth, and challenge the status quo. So much of contemporary poetry is impenetrable. One cannot figure out at all what is in the poet’s mind or what they want to say. Not so with Wagh’s poetry. The poetry may no doubt be subject to various interpretations. There is also no doubt that it takes away from the touristy narrative about Goa which paints everything in Goa as hunky dory. But so be it.

 

Assault on the poems in Sudirsukt

In this situation, what has happened? The forces of communalism and casteism that predominate, cannot take away Wagh’s life. Wagh is rather seriously ill and not even in a position to respond to the criticism. At the same time, they feel the need to consolidate upper caste forces. What better way to do it than to accost a  publication of powerful poems, dating from 2013, that is slated for an award, that draws analogies from the land and the culture, and that comes from active engagement with the land and the environment and the people around?

 

Sanjeev Verenkar, one of the members on the jury for the Goa Konkani Akademi award, leaked out the proposal for the award, through Facebook. The text of a single poem in Sudirsukt, and the usage of a particular cuss word in some five of the sixty odd poems, was isolated from the entire book and termed as obscene, and inciting social tension, and therefore not meritorious of the award. The poem was a conversation, apparently by a Bahujan community person with an upper caste woman which actually brings out the intersection of caste with gender in their sexual relationship. Uday Bhembre also lodged a frontal attack and considered this poem as implying a man flaunting his multiple relationships and likened Wagh to Ram Rahim Sauda. The fracas is actually strangely reminiscent of the State’s arguments against Lady Chatterley’s lover, a book by D.H. Lawrence, published in 1928 in England, which I borrowed and read from the library of Dempo Commerce College, when studying there. Just as the thumping against casteism is the irritant in Sudirsukt, in Lady Chatterley’s Lover, it was not so much the profane language as much as the sexual relations across class boundaries and a critique of class that lay at the basis of the outrage.

 

What are Wagh’s poems all about?

Wagh’s introduction to the book is itself in the form of a poem that says he finally discovered his mother (tongue), and that his oppressed life flowered into a poem, like a lotus. They only knew to utter mantras, whereas our ancestors lived their lives engaged with nature and our language reflected this, but it was in disconance with the mantras…. So they discovered the art of writing and silenced and killed our language, so goes the tenor of the first poem Mhaji Bhas (My Language). This reference to a different language of the Bahujan community is to be the recurring theme in the poetry.

 

Were you born in my house or I in yours, tuklya?, is the resounding point made through the second poem titled ‘tuklya’, referring to the 17th century Bhakti poet Saint Tukaram. The poem ‘farak’ talks of difference – where both the dominant castes and the Bahujan Samaj eat fish, consume alcohol, have sex with women, bathe, and yet social constructions cause the difference.

 

There are abounding references in the poems to the toil of the Bahujan community in reproducing human beings, including and particularly those from the dominant castes, and the utter disconsonance of this toil with the holdings of land by the dominant castes and their ownership and control of people and their language. There is even a poem called ‘galli’ (bad words). It seeks to drive home the point that the deepest feelings of the Bahujan community were expressed through abuses, and that the civilization that has come through education has taken away the language of expression, and rendered the Bahujan powerless.

 

What about the abuses?

In the poem zati (castes), Wagh goes, “Does man require caste or does caste require man? There is no caste for hunger, but does caste have hunger?” Poignant questions, these, that ring right through the book. In the same poem ensues an abuse for those/the one who created the caste system. It is true that that the particular abuse is sexist in nature, and has been used in four or five poems, to strongly come down on the dominant castes. Wagh’s creativity should have transcended these abuses, given that he has the capacity of powerful writing which comes through in his whole book, and he, at least, could abuse, but did not need the crutch of any sexist abuses to convey the deepest angst. Unfortunately most, if not all, writing/abuses in this day and age suffer from being ableist, casteist, ageist, animal-insensitive, gender insensitive, and it is indeed a challenge to craft abuses that will respect the growing consciousness of different axis of marginalisation, moreso when the mediums/avenues, as well as acceptance for certain sections of society, are limited.  Taking on that challenge is however also seriously necessary.

 

The embedded handing down of information as to who belongs to what caste, the social and economic challenges of those who till the soil and perform dramas,  the dreams of erasing the rangolis of the dominant castes, and coming into a new life, discovering one’s identity are the linked themes in the collection of poetry.  The sarcasm and the powerful metaphors hit home. Sample this: Like oxen you rounded us up/And yoked us/And after the harvest was brought in/You kicked us in the arse/In the fields we expended sweat/You counted the cash/Even your piss is sweet/Our blood is bitter!

 

Giving Sudirsukt bad press

Opinions were sharply divided on the book as well as on whether or not Verenkar should have leaked the information. This discussion on Facebook spilled over into a news item by Navhind Times, which stripped its own veneer of providing unbiased reportage. The NT Report decided for itself that the book flouted the government guidelines, which stated that a book considered for an award to be given from the public exchequer, should compulsorily refrain from making any casteist statements or using offensive and insulting language against a particular caste.

 

This is where we might need to interrogate freedom of speech and expression from the lens of substantive equality, which is the model of equality emphasized in the Constitution of India. If there is a critique of casteism and its practitioners, does it amount to a casteist statement? What constitutes offensive and insulting language? From whose lens? Which yardstick? If one attacks men for their rank expressions of patriarchy, is the person doing so sexist?

 

An open letter from fifteen writers and activists, including self, to the Goa Konkani Akademi, pointed out that “What seems to be at the core is that those who have for long controlled the description and use of Konkani, and enjoy hegemony over the state apparatus and its cultural organs, want to prevent the validation and legitimization of the book that the award could bestow upon it. Why so? Because it expresses the pain, revolt, revulsion, angst and anger towards the age-old caste system that persists and is going strong”.

 

Double Standards of Government

Ordinarily the State would have itself taken offence to a leakage by a Government Award committee. But not so in this case. No step is yet known to have been taken against Sanjeev Verenkar. This is not to suggest it should be. Perhaps this is also a freedom of speech one should uphold – to discuss a book in the public domain, bringing out the urgency of discussing it by stating that it calls for a discussion because it is scheduled to get an award, and the one leaking has disagreements, but what does the world think about this book.

 

But then there has to be consistency and there have to be defined criteria. This freedom cannot be selective. I was once questioned by the same ruling dispensation, when, as a member of the Government Family Law Review Committee, in the capacity of being a representative of women as stakeholders, I had sought to take the proposed law, being discussed in the committee, to the constituency for a consultation. This shows double standards prevalent.

 

Changing the goalposts of criticism

The critique of the book Sudirsukt as casteist soon transformed into a critique of the book as derogatory to women, when it became apparent that the first salvo had clearly misfired. Yes, the book uses sexually explicit language. But here one must remember that women are also human beings with sexuality and they do not need to be protected by anyone from writings that speak the language of explicit consensual sex.

 

It is precisely the lack of sex education, and the taboo in speaking explicitly about sex in society, that leads to sexual harassment, where perpetrators of sexual harassment show their power by talking about explicit sex to a woman, or in her presence, to intimidate her. Let us also be clear that not all sex is sexual harassment. There is a lot of sex WITH a woman’s explicit consent. There may be nothing wrong about that sexual activity.

 

Another critique of the book has been about it commodifying women. Why does expressing ideas about sex with women in poems, along with myriad other aspects of life in Goa, suggest that the women are reduced to a body or a commodity?

 

On the other hand…

Freedom of speech in the Constitution comes with restrictions. Freedom of speech cannot mean the right to instigate patriarchal oppression, class-based exploitation, and majoritarianism, or to maintain caste based discrimination against the depressed castes. The Constitution of India has clearly set out in the preamble that the people of India have solemnly resolved to constitute India into a sovereign, socialist, secular, democratic republic.

 

But there are people whose acts come within the Constitutional restrictions on freedom of speech, such as the Sadhvi, who on the very first day of the 6th All India Hindu Convention for establishing a Hindu Rashtra, openly incited hate speech saying “we must ALL pick up our weapons to protect our mother! And anyone who dares to hurt her must be hanged to death!”. And yet, such incitements enjoy impunity. The venue of this 6th All India Hindu Convention was the Sanatan Sanstha headquarters in Ponda. Vijay Sardesai, a Minister and the leader of the Goa Forward Party, the alliance partner of the BJP-led Government, admitted when speaking to reporters after this statement went viral, that, “By such comments, they are trying to create communal tension and are also breaking the law, as her remarks are unconstitutional”.

 

Yet, even after this admission, one does not know to this date of any action by the State against these open incitements and threats. The people who abuse freedom of speech and expression, by not adhering to the restrictions to speech in the Constitution, enjoy impunity, but those who express their mind against casteism and communalism are vilified like Wagh and Ilaiah, or even killed, like Lankesh.

 

State cover, patronage and impunity

Incidentally, the Sanatan Sanstha was a co-organiser of the 6th All India Hindu Convention. As Devika Sequeira pointed out in an article appearing in The Wire on 14th September, 2017, “With the needle of forensic findings now pointing to a clear link between the killers of journalist Gauri Lankesh, Kannada scholar M.M. Kalburgi, and communist leader Govind Pansare of Kolhapur, the spotlight is once again on the shadowy Goa-based Sanatan Sanstha”. Two of the sadhaks of Sanatan Sanstha were killed in the 2009 bomb blast at Margao, at the time of the Narkasur effigy parade, when the bombs on their scooter went off while they were riding. It was obvious they were going to plant the bombs during the Narkasur effigy parade, in order to later blame it on Muslims trying to disrupt a Hindu floats parade, in politically-fragile Margao. Despite this, the Government did not cease to place advertisements in Sanatan Prabhat, the publication of the Sanatan Sanstha.

 

Thus we see both impunity, and active encouragement, of certain organisations through various means, although they are clearly infringing the restrictions on freedom of speech enshrined in the Constitution. To use a translated version of Gauri Lankesh’s words in her Kannada blog, “The Indian democracy is a veil of democracy”. Indeed! And we must lift this veil to expose what lies behind it and force the State to recognise what freedom of speech it needs to uphold and what freedom of speech it abjures, by appropriate action to enforce the law, as per the Constitution.

 

(First published in Goa Today, dt: October, 2017)

Water Water Everywhere, But…

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By ALBERTINA ALMEIDA

 

There is one central lesson that can be gauged from the National Waterways Act 2016. It is that the people who have been traditionally using and sustaining the river waters and especially for their livelihoods, will have limited or no access to the rivers and maybe even the river banks.   The National Waterways Act, 2016, became law on 25th March, 2016, and came into force from 11th April, 2016. The inclusion of six riverine stretches of Goa in the Schedule to the National Waterways Act, 2016, is threatening the very existence of Goa, where livelihoods have revolved around the rivers and the coasts, even when population groups do not live in the immediate vicinity of these water bodies.

 

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Remembering Thälmann

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By ALBERTINA ALMEIDA

 

Goa has lost a leading light in the death of Thälmann Pereira, advocate and trade unionist, and State Secretary of the Goa Unit of the Communist Party of India (Marxist). Thälmann was born in 1962 into a communist household. His parents led the party in Goa and were intimately involved with it. This probably is why he was named after the founder of the Communist Party in Germany, Ernst Thälmann. Yet despite this proximate connection, he did not, unlike many Communist leaders, wear this legacy on his sleeve. So much so that even his wife, Rita Dey Pereira, said that she did not, during their courtship, have an idea of the amount of space the red (meaning Communist) flag occupied in his life. It began unfurling during the course of their married life, to use her own words.

 

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Lies, Damned Lies, and Merit

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By ALBERTINA ALMEIDA

 

(With apologies to whoever it was that first coined the phrase “lies, damned lies, and statistics”- there seems to be a lie there itself)

 

Lies masquerade as merit in these post-truth times. As a matter of fact, lies have been morphed into stereotypes and stereotypes morphed into merit long before terms like ‘post-truth’ or ‘alternate facts’ became popular.

 

What better way to begin to see how lies are masqueraded as merit or high standards than through taking a look at the controversy surrounding Vishnu Surya Wagh’s ‘Sudirsukt’? Wagh’s 2013 book of Konkani poems, some members of the dominant Gaud Saraswat community in Goa contend, lacks any kind of literary merit necessary to receive an award. These same people have taken offence to his poems saying they are stirring passions against a certain community.

 

There is one poem titled “Mhaji Bhasha” (My Language) that is raw with the feelings of hurt caused by casteist oppression. It actually addresses the lie that the ancestors of the depressed castes were forced to pass off as truth – that their language was ‘lost in a forest’, when in fact ‘those who came along with Parashuram/From Kashmir or Bengal/While chopping off forest cleanings/Chopped off our language as well’, because ‘our ancestors …/Would speak to their face/Seeing this they began to fear…/And they connived to make our ancestors dumb’. The Brahminical elite have in fact manipulated the debate on official language to selectively get their language, which they call ‘Konkani in Devanagiri script’, to be the only one meritorious enough to be declared the official language of Goa, despite the truth of the limited access and usage of this Brahminical language.

 

The legislature and the literary world are not the only areas where lies are masqueraded as merit. This also happens in the world of the judiciary. As recently as May 2017, the Madras High Court had to, in so many ways, chastise a particular Trial Court judge, with a warning, “Let this be the last judgment ever written on communal consideration”. The Madras High Court was hearing a case, where, in the Trial Court, the judge had arrived at the conclusion that the particular accused had committed a murder solely because they belonged to a particular community and with a perception that the traditional occupation of the community was theft. There was no evidence otherwise linking the accused to the crime. What the judge had done in this case, was to perpetrate a racist lie, by giving merit to the values of the dominant sections of society earlier, that the particular tribe has criminality in their genes.

 

The Madras Court pointed out that the “Judiciary cannot afford to decide the cases by tracing the criminal activities of the forefathers of the accused. No Court of Law can stigmatize a community as a whole. Proof beyond reasonable doubt of the guilt of an accused should be reached on the basis of the evidence on record. Any finding of guilt based on no evidence but on communal considerations is unconstitutional”.

 

An attribution of merit to arguments by certain dominant circles, could well mean, for instance, that, if a Goan were accused of drunken driving in some part of India, then, with the Bollywood imagery about Goan men being drunkards, the judge would presume that since he is a Goan, he must have committed the offence of drunken driving, without appropriately appreciating evidence led through due process.

 

Giving merit through the law or otherwise to dominant arguments (buttressed by casteist sexist corporate centric sections of society) can actually challenge the very existence of people, as is happening, for example, with Aadhaar. If you don’t have an Aadhaar card, you don’t exist. Your existence itself is a lie. You can’t file your tax returns, you can’t have a telephone connection or a mobile number, you can’t get any subsidies, your relatives won’t be able to get your death certificate. There is no merit in your existence.

 

There has also been some hype created about how the standards of teaching are declining at Goa University because of reservations. If anything, this hype is a stark example of the nexus between lies and merit. Despite the reservations, there are exactly four reserved posts when the constitutionally-mandated seats should have been around 66 in a teacher strength of 163. Clearly it is not those who are occupying reserved posts who are really responsible for the declining teaching standards? If anything, this indicates that it does not mean that if there are 159 teachers holding positions by what is called ‘merit’, it is not a passport to high standards in education.

 

In the financial sphere also, lies have masqueraded as truth courtesy those at the helm of affairs, who claimed that demonetization would stymie the black economy. But as a recently-released Reserve Bank of India Annual Report itself points out,  99% of the demonetised currency notes of Rs. 1000/- and Rs. 500/- have come back into the system, that is, 99% of the notes have been exchanged in banks. This has been at a cost of Rs. 21000 crores plus to the Reserve Bank of India. The people with black money have not been stuck with those notes as was statedly anticipated. If black money was indeed operating through stashing of currency notes which are undeclared income, this gives a clear signal at the very least, that it is not primarily so. An indictment of the merit of the ruling dispensation, and their ability to rev up the economy and cripple black money!

 

Indeed, one can see that lies, damned lies, are sanctified with the aura of merit.

 

(First published in O Heraldo, dt: 7 September, 2017)

More than the old ‘where-are-you-from’…

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By ALBERTINA ALMEIDA

 

In the context of Goa, ‘where are you from?’ is a simple sounding question that hides the many complexities. Because if you put surnames and the place from which you hail together, you can figure out where in the caste hierarchy a person belongs. Therefore, it is not obviously the innocuous question it is intended to be.

 

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Privileging Investors’ Rights over People’s Rights: That is what it all adds up to

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By ALBERTINA ALMEIDA

 

We have seen several developments as well as utterances by ruling party members in Goa in just the last couple of months, in flagrant disregard of their wide ranging adverse implications for the people in Goa and their livelihoods. The justification of the proposed coal hub, of the declaration of six of our river stretches as ‘national waterways’, the hasty passage in the last Assembly session of the Goa Compensation to the Project Affected Persons and Vesting of Land in the Government Bill, and of an amendment to the Town and Country Planning Act  against the backdrop of the ‘transferable development rights’ policy as a bait for succumbing to what those in Government call development, the Central Government’s approval of the Revenue Generating Scheme for the Golf Course Resort Project of Leading Hotels Pvt. Ltd. at Tiracol…these are but some of the ominous signs of suppressing the rights and voices of people in order to privilege investor rights over people’s rights, and to completely overlook the lack of credentials of the proposed investors.

 

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Albertina Almeida’s statement to the negotiators of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, at the 19th Round of Negotiations at Hyderabad

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At the outset, I would like to remind you, that we cannot talk of a Comprehensive Economic Partnership without it being inclusive. In the spirit of substantive equality which India’s Constitution makers have envisioned with such foresight, and which the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) also emphasises, to be inclusive, both the process and the result must promote equality, promote equal democratic rights, must result in more equitable access to resources, more sustainable income generating opportunities and advance Development Justice for those who are most marginalised in each of these participating countries, and this includes women with their intersecting identities of caste, class, minority, and other axis of marginalisation. India is currently the second most unequal country in the world in terms of the distribution of wealth and gender inequality has been deepening in our country being one of the only countries where the division of labour and income gap is widening. This Agreement will accelerate further these inequalities.

We want to work in solidarity with our neighbours but any agreement with them must have objectives that ensure basic human rights to food, clothing, shelter, public universal access to basic amenities of water, electricity, and clean air, health facilities, education, sustainable and decent work and income earning opportunities to the peoples in each of these participating countries, and systems of accountability that mean existing human rights and environmental obligations will always have primacy over foreign investor interests.

 

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What is Rootless Cosmopolitanism?

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By ALBERTINA ALMEIDA

 

There was a charge made recently by BJP’s Swapan Dasgupta that the protest by people determinedly raising their voices under the banner of ‘Not in My Name’, against targeted lynching of Muslims was an extravagant display of rootless cosmopolitanism. The responses have been “we are not rootless cosmopolitans”. We are often quick to jump into defensive mode in this fashion, and then try to prove how we are more rooted than Baba Ramdev or Sri Sri Ravi Shankar or Yogi Adityanath.  In other words, we try to show how we are superior to these in being rooted. But we might need to ask whether rootless cosmopolitanism is necessarily the bad thing it is suggested to be. Does its problem depend on what lens one is looking at things from?

 

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Beefing up the Law for No Beef

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By ALBERTINA ALMEIDA

 

You have to throw a stone to figure out the ripple effect. That is what Subramanian Swamy did when he said on a national television show that Goa’s beef eating tradition had to be changed. The BJP has, for some time now, made Goa a Hindutva laboratory, with its front organizations or politically connected organisations, either hosting conventions on aiming for Hindu Rashtra from 2023, or stating that India is already a Hindu Rashtra for centuries or stating that it should be culturally a Hindu Rashtra. These include RSS, Vishwa Hindu Parishad, Bajrang Dal, Durga Vahini. They were clearly looking to see exactly how the reactions would be and perhaps also exactly how they could be polarized.

 

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