Tuesday, July 1, 2008

We don't find Nandy's articles objectionable: Supreme Court

2 Jul 2008, 0348 hrs IST, Dhananjay Mahapatra,TNN
New Delhi: Giving political scientist Ashish Nandy blanket protection from arrest for his writings, the Supreme Court on Tuesday, criticized the Gujarat government and state police.

"What has he written? Why should he be prosecuted for what he has written? We do not find it objectionable. He is 71 years old. Let him live in peace," the vacation bench comprising Justices Altamas Kabir and G S Singhvi said while ordering all authorities in Gujarat not to arrest the reputed political scientist in connection with the case.

The court also stayed the summons issued to Nandy by Satellite police station, Ahmedabad, asking him to appear before it on July 8. No more summons to him, the court said.

When Gujarat government's counsel Hemantika Wahi tried to point out the objectionable portions of the article to the court and even gave an assurance that Nandy would not be arrested if he joined the investigation, the court said: "What is the investigation to be carried out in this case?"

When Wahi persisted that no order was required to be passed as the police would not arrest him, the court commented on the growing intolerance in the political class towards criticism.

Nandy had moved the apex court seeking anticipatory bail apprehending arrest by the Ahmedabad police, which had registered an FIR against him on May 30 under Sections 153A (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language) and 153B (imputations, assertions prejudicial to national integration).

The FIR was registered on a complaint from one V K Saxena, president of an NGO, alleging that the article has created rift between groups within society that could have grave repercussions for the state.

The court also questioned the motive behind Saxena's complaint to the police. "What is the grievance of V K Saxena? Is he a staunch nationalist?" it asked.

Apex court assures Ashish Nandy of protection against Gujarat Police

Express News Service

Posted online: Wednesday, July 02, 2008 at 11:34:43Updated: Wednesday, July 02, 2008 at 11:34:43Print Email To Editor Post Comments

New Delhi, July 01 The Supreme Court on Tuesday assured journalist and political psychologist Dr Ashish Nandy of protection against arrest or detention by the Gujarat Police. In a dramatic unfolding of events in the apex court, a Bench led by Justice Altamas Kabir restrained the Narendra Modi government from taking any action against the 71-year-old political scholar for penning an article “critically analysing the outcome of the 2007 polls”.

Nandy had moved the Delhi High Court for quashing an FIR registered at the Satellite police station in Ahmedbad (rural) district under Sections 153 A (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, etc) and 153 B (imputations, assertions prejudicial to national integration) of the IPC – an action, as per Nandy, permitted by an “unhappy and annoyed” Modi Government.

Holding that “nothing in the article is objectionable,” the Bench directed the Gujarat government to “stop short of arresting Nandy with regard to proceedings arising from the FIR registered in relation to the article. “There are worse things happening in this country,” the court noted in its criticism of the Modi government's “harassment” of the journalist.

The Supreme Court’s stinging remarks were prompted by a Gujarat Police summons issued hours after the Bench heard the matter today, and asked Nandy to be present at the Satellite police station on August 8.

Gaurang Kanth, counsel for Nandy rushed to the courtroom to apprise the Bench of the new development. Staying the summons on an interim basis, an anguished Bench observed that Nandy was harassed because he was a “soft target.” “The court wondered aloud as to why this type of FIR is not lodged against any politician in India,” Kanth told The Indian Express. Why is that people in the state of Mahatma Gandhi do not have enough tolerance to permit Nandy and other journalists from expressing their independent opinion, the court asked.

‘If a journalist cannot write, who else will?’

J. Venkatesan
Why harass Nandy, court asks Gujarat

Ashis Nandy

New Delhi, July 2, 2008: The Supreme Court on Tuesday restrained the Narendra Modi government from arresting political analyst Ashis Nandy pursuant to registration of a case against him for writing an article, “Blame the middle class,” in a national newspaper.

A vacation Bench consisting of Justices Altamas Kabir and G.S. Singhvi also cancelled the summons issued by the inspector of the Satellite Police Station, Ahmedabad, seeking his appearance for interrogation on July 8. “Any further summons issued against Mr. Nandy in future relating to the case will stand quashed.”

The Bench was hearing his petition seeking a stay on his arrest and stay of criminal proceedings pursuant to the registration of the first information report.

Soft target?

Justice Kabir told counsel for Gujarat Hemantika Wahi: “There is no ground for harassing a journalist. Let him live in peace. You [Gujarat] are prosecuting this man for his article. These are worst things happening in this country. If a journalist cannot write then who else will? I have read the article and I find nothing is objectionable. They look for a soft target to catch but not even a single politician or small municipal councillors are caught. He [petitioner] is 71-years-old and is a soft target for you.”

Justice Singhvi said: “People coming from the land of Mahatma Gandhiji have become so intolerant that they can’t even tolerate an article.”

Mr. Nandy moved the apex court as the Delhi High Court refused to provide him interim protection against arrest. He sought quashing of the FIR lodged by the Ahmedabad police on a complaint filed by V.K. Saxena, president of an NGO, National Council for Civil Liberties. Mr. Nandy contended that the article was an expression of personal view through a critical analysis of the outcome of the 2007 Gujarat polls.

Mr. Saxena accused Mr. Nandy of promoting enmity within the society through his article.

Referring to the motives of the complainant, Justice Kabir said “What is the grievance of the complainant? How does it [article] bother him? Is he a staunch nationalist?”

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SC rebukes Gujarat Govt for lodging FIR against Nandy

July 1, 2008

The Supreme Court today rebuked the Gujarat government for initiating criminal proceedings against political analyst Ashis Nandy for writing an article in a national daily allegedly having communal overtones.

"Nothing in the article is objectionable," a Bench headed by Justice Altamas Kabir said while restraining the Narender Modi Government from arresting Nandy.

"Concerned authorities and officials of the Gujarat Government will not take any steps to arrest Nandy in respect of the proceedings arising from the FIR registered in relation to the article," it said.

However, hours after the order was pronounced, Nandy's counsel Rakesh Khanna and Gaurang Kanth informed the bench that the scholar has been served with a summons notice by the Gujarat Police to appear before Satellite police station officials in Ahmedabad on 8th July.

Taking their submission on record, the Bench cancelled the summons and said "Any further summons issued against Nandy in future relating to the case will stand quashed".

During the hearing, the Bench disapproved the prosecution of 71-year-old scholar for the article saying "there is no ground for harassing a journalist".

"Let him live in peace. You (Gujarat) are prosecuting this man for his article," the Bench said referring to the article on post-assembly election analysis.

"There are worst things happening in this country," it said expressing anguish over the state government's move to register an FIR on a private complaint.

The apex court was also critical of V K Saxena, President of the Ahmedabad-based NGO, National Council for Civil Liberties (NCCL), on whose complaint the FIR was registered under section 153A (promoting communal disharmony) and 153B (imputations, assertions prejudicial to national integration) of Indian Penal Code.

"What is the grievance of the complainant. How does it (article) bother him. Is he a staunch nationalist," the Bench observed, questioning the motive behind filing the complaint.

"People coming from the land of Gandhiji have become so intolerant that they can't even tolerate an article," the Bench, also comprising Justice G S Singhvi observed.

"They look for a soft target to catch but not even a single politician or small municipal councillors are caught ...," the Bench further said refusing to consider the submission of Gujarat government counsel Hemantika Wahi that the investigation into the case was at initial stage.

The apex court was hearing the petition filed by Nandy against the order of the Delhi High Court which had refused to provide him an interim protection against arrest.

The High Court will now hear his writ petition in which he has sought quashing of the FIR.

In the FIR, it was alleged that Nandy's article related to assembly election results disturbed communal harmony between Hindus and Muslims.

However, Nandy contended that the FIR was registered out of malafide intention and oblique motive.

He said that the FIR was aimed at penalising and depriving him of expressing his bonafide views.

His counsel said that the state government has picked up a line from the article published in a national daily and accused him of promoting communal disharmony.

Gujarat government intolerant, says Supreme Court

Bombay News.Net
Tuesday 1st July, 2008 (IANS)

The Supreme Court Tuesday rebuked the Gujarat government for being 'intolerant' and stalled its bid to arrest political commentator Ashis Nandy.

A vacation bench of Justice Altmas Kabir and Justice G.S. Singhvi
castigated the state government while hearing a lawsuit by Nandy, challenging his impending arrest by the Ahmedabad police on charges of inciting communal hatred by writing an article criticising Chief Minister Narendra Modi.

'If a journalist can't write what he wants to, who will write?,' asked the bench, expressing surprise over the state government's action of registering a criminal case against Nandy in May for writing an article published in the Times of India in January.

The bench asked Nandy's age and when told that he was 71 year old, it said: 'Then what investigation? You are prosecuting him for what? For writing an article? You cannot be so intolerant.'

'The people coming from the state of Mahatma Gandhi are behaving like this,' the bench rued.

Castigating the state's Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government for prosecuting a journalist, whom it described as a 'soft target', the bench asked: 'Have you ever caught a politician in this manner?'

'You catch a political leader and we will be with you,' the bench took a swipe at the government, represented by advocate Hemantika Wahi.

The bench Monday asked the state government if it was ready to pledge before it that it would not arrest Nandy for writing the column. Wahi promised the bench she would apprise it of the government's mind over the issue after taking instruction from it.

On Tuesday, she, however, sought to wriggle out of the situation by saying that the case registered against Nandy was different from those registered against some other scribes of the newspaper.

The bench, however, said that it does not want to keep Nandy's petition pending and directed the state government not to arrest Nandy. The bench also annulled summons issued to Nandy by a police station in Ahmedabad directing him to appear there on July 8.

Nandy, a commentator and social scientist of international renown, had held Gujarat's middle class responsible for the BJP's electoral victory in December polls.

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Monday, June 30, 2008

Kuldip Nayar in The Tribune June 29, 2008

Communal divide
Modi has changed Gujarati mindset
by Kuldip Nayar

MY visit to Ahmedabad early this week was depressing. Even six years after the 2002 carnage in Gujarat, the line drawn with blood between Hindus and Muslims remains distinct. The two communities live in two different worlds, in localities which have borders. The places are known as Hindu “aabadi” (habitation) and Muslim “aabadi” and there is no contact between them, either social or economic.

The Muslims, who were the target in the 2002 riots, have tried, gulping down their loss and pride, to normalise the situation-they are still doing so-but they continue to be barred by Hindus from every activity.

Many Muslims went back to their villages but returned because they found some others occupying their land and houses. The administration did not intervene. Nor does it want to do it now.

In some cases, even original village records had been fudged to transfer ownership. The uprooted Muslims took refuge in the already over-populated localities and some even in “kabristan” (graveyard).

A few have gone to courts but the cases are yet to be decided. The worst hit is the labourer who faces discrimination. He does not get any employment. Vendors find it hard to go back to their place from where they sold fruits, vegetables or such other things.

Even when some have braved hardships to go there, they have met with an economic boycott which the BJP stalwarts bless. They want the ethnic cleansing to stay as it is.

What is surprising is the freezing of division between the two communities as if something permanent has taken place. In every state, even in Delhi after the 1984 Hindu-Sikh riots, the ousted people have gone back to their home and business places to restart life.

Gujarat is the only state where the victims have not been allowed to return, the government probably proving that the line delineated between the two communities in 2002 will not change.

Six years ago, I saw the scenes which I had witnessed while leaving my home at Sialkot in August 1947-refugee camps, scared children, weeping widows and lots and lots of people, just sitting on the roadside staring at the future with little hopes.

The Muslims are no more in camps. But conditions in which they live are no different. The ravages of mini-partition in 2002 still hit you with all poignancy. Take the Bombay Hotel area at Ahmedabad. This is the place where the city’s waste is dumped. Children play in its midst. The government has no plans to shift it anywhere else.

As for facilities, there is no hospital in the vicinity. Some deliveries have taken place on scooters. The nearest school is a private one, and it is 3 km away. Heavy fee, rather the distance, keeps children at home.

Imagine the atmosphere in which they are growing up. They were five or six years old when they saw the fury of rioting. It is still etched on their minds. Now they are at the sensitive age of 11 and 12. Some parents told me that whenever a lady with a sari had come visiting the area, they whispered to each other: a Hindu.

When there is no mingling and when there are not even educational facilities, it may be a hostile community in the making.

Some Muslims were shifted to a place near the camp of the state reserve police. The force was aggressive and made the migrants feel unwanted by taunting the community and even beating up some children. The “aabadi” went back to the Muslim locality.

That there is no remorse in the Hindu society does not surprise because I have read about it in the Press and heard it from some activists who are doing a tremendous job despite unending difficulties and depleting funds.

A few Hindus who saved Muslims during the riots and some more — altogether 2 per cent of the population — are helping the activists courageously and going to courts to narrate what they witnessed.

But justice is slow to come and the Nanavati Commission appointed to go into the whole gamut of riots is nowhere near the completion of its assignment.

The disgusting part is the fear of Modi and his administration. None dares to speak out in public. Even at a closed-door meeting, where some 200 academicians, lawyers and others present, when I asked them if they felt suffocated in Gujarat, all of them nodded their head in assent. But only a few of them were willing to join issue with the Modi government.

Therefore, it does not come as a surprise to me that the Gujarat government has slapped sedition charges against Ashish Nandy, a political psychologist, for an article which Modi considers critical.

The article is factual and does not criticise the government for the carnage or non-rehabilitation of Muslims. Nandy only points out to the misuse of state machinery.

Nandy’s real attack is on the middle class, which he correctly denounces for not realising even after so many years that secularism and communalism are two different ideologies and cannot be mixed like water and fire.

That a phrase like “the media and education have become hate factories” may not be to the liking of the middle class. But Nandy is known for making understatements, not exaggerating things.

A Mexican philosopher had perceptively observed that the difference between dictatorship and democracy is that in the first, the top man changes the people and in the latter, the people change the top man.

Modi has changed the very thinking of Gujaratis. Even the Gujarati NRIs have sacrificed Indian-ism at the altar of communalism. There has been very little outcry against the government’s action on Nandy’s write-up.

But for a few academicians from India and abroad, none particularly from among the media hands, has spoken in his defence. At stake is the “freedom of expression.” Today, it is academician Nandy; tomorrow it could be a journalist.

We had imagined that we had learnt a lesson from the Emergency for not speaking out when we should have. I personally think that the day when one sees the truth being attacked and keeps quiet is the day when one begins to die.

Nandy will come out of the ordeal unscathed. But it will be yet another case of our insensitivity. The society seems to be losing in its battle against communalism.

Nandy Interview Tehelka Magazine July 2008

From Tehelka Magazine, Vol 5, Issue 26, Dated July 05, 2008

Amid rows of books in the Delhi office of political psychologist Ashis Nandy is a painting that’s striking in its sordidness: the head of a dead politician env
eloped in a floppy garland, surrounded by numerous tags displaying his numerous identities. Ever the political dissenter, Nandy is back in news after the Ahmedabad- based National Council for Civil Liberties filed a case against him for his article, Blame the Middle Class, published in The Times of India in January, analysing Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi’s victory in the Assembly elections. The charge against Nandy is “promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth and language”. Some 178 academics and intellectuals have signed a statement to protest the case against Nandy (http://www.sacw.net/FreeExpAndFundos/ defendNandy16June08.html). In an interview with TUSHA MITTAL, Nandy explains how modernity is devastating India.

How has your understanding of India changed over the years?
Like every other Bengali from Calcutta, I had a political edge to everything I did, but little empathy for the world outside the cities. Theoretically, I might have been committed to the people of India, but in practice they were an abstract category. Things began to change dramatically when I came to the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies. We studied politics empirically, and I realised its pervasive presence in Indian social life, how much of a pace-setting agency it really is. A second major change came with the Emergency. Neither my political studies nor my understanding of Indian politics had prepared me for it. It was a shock. Then, I began to look for new ways of looking at Indian politics. My discovery of Gandhi happened at that time. I had always disliked Gandhi: his allegiances had looked primordial; his style a deviation from our idea of cosmopolitanism; his politics anti-modern. But I rediscovered Gandhi. I became more sceptical of the Indian state, which was modelled on the colonial state that had ruled us. I saw that the categories that dominated Indian politics had no openness to the experiences of a majority of Indians. Often, as with terms like ‘secular’, they could not even be translated
into vernacular languages.

Would you say the secular project in India has failed, that we have failed to merge ground realities with our idea of liberal secularism?
Absolutely! Secularism is a tool to achieve certain goals of tolerance and amity. It has not been able to touch the heart of most Indians, who have found it flawed, an abstraction used for political purposes only. I think we would gain much more if we entered it through the various cultural and religious traditions of India to confront the forces fomenting communal conflict. They are actually anti-Hindu and anti-Islam. They will destroy these faiths in the arrogant belief that they can defend them. We don’t defend faiths; faith defends us. In fact, the people often called religious fanatics usually did not care about religion. They were modernists who wanted a European- style nation state in India. They considered Gandhi primitive because he brought into politics ideas such as fasting and nonviolence. Gandhi was the counter-modernist who said that modernism was an intrusion in Indian culture and could only devastate India culturally, economically and socially, [that] it is intrinsically hostile to India’s environment, local knowledge systems and diversity. Ethnic and religious conflict is a pathological expression of modernity, not of tradition. The way modernisation is conceptualised leads to genocides; an enormous degree of violence; the demolition of civilisations.

Can you give an example?
I did a major study on sati, the first in contemporary times. I showed that sati epidemics primarily occurred when a community was under attack. For example, sati in late 18th and early 19th century was a direct product of the colonial political economy, the kind of collapse of traditional norms then taking place in India, the monetisation of the economy and human relationships. Half the cases of Sati took place in Calcutta and its slums not in villages.

In your article, ‘Gujarat: Blame the Middle Class’, you talked about how development has de-civilised society, leaving only a shrinking space for the life of the mind.
This is a product of democratic processes. The people entering the middle class do not have middle-class values. They only have middle-class incomes. They have neither the traditional nor the modern concept of cosmopolitanism. They have just risen in the social hierarchy. They have only middleclass consumption.

What are these middle class values?
Some degree of tolerance and the ability to live with minority views which are different from yours; some acceptance that you do not protect divinities, that divinities can protect themselves.

You have used the term ‘cultural desert’ for Gujarat.
Gujarat has produced an intellectual culture where some of the finest minds, thinkers, writers, artists don’t feel comfortable at all. Perhaps it is not America but Singapore that is their utopia, at least in the short run. They want Singapore-style development. Even though they won’t admit it, they are looking forward not only to Singapore-style malls but also to Singapore-style authoritarian prime ministers. Large numbers of the middle class are now perfectly willing to sacrifice large sections of the society for the sake of development. In most countries, spectacular development has been associated with spectacular authoritarianism. Not only Singapore, China is a very good example. The enormous diversity of India has always troubled modern Indians. They think some degree of homogenisation imposed from above is the perfect remedy for India’s ills. They think they are the strict school teachers who can teach the rest of India how to behave when the government takes away land for SEZs, when it builds mega dams. They want to shut their eyes to what development really means. They are its beneficiaries and feel it must be protected at all costs.

What is your idea of a post-secular world?
Everybody predicted the demise of religion in the 19th century. Yet, at the beginning of the 21st century, we find religion stronger than ever. It has re-emerged from its isolation and marginalisation in a big way, taking advantage of the democratic process. Unless we learn the language of religion and enter the people’s mind through that path, we have no way of truly influencing their choices. That’s why one of the most creative persons of our time, Gandhi, said that people who say religion and politics have nothing to do with each other understand neither religion nor politics. Other creative persons who may or may not call themselves Gandhian follow that method. The Dalai Lama, Nelson Mandela, Desmond Tutu, Martin Luther King — they have all used religion very creatively. In India, people like Baba Amte and Sunder Lal Bahuguna never attacked religion; Swami Agnivesh has never put away his saffron robes. When you talk of saffronisation, it offends most Hindus. Saffron is not the colour of extremism. It is the colour of renunciation — sanyasis wear saffron. Extremists have hijacked it because we allowed them to; they have hijacked it even when they don’t believe in it themselves. [VD] Savarkar was an atheist. He didn’t believe in Hinduism but produced the bible of Hindutva. Hindutva is a political ideology while Hinduism is a form of faith. Ideologies enter when faiths become weak and do not have a meaning for people. Hindutva is a way of using Hindu sentiments politically to push towards the development of a Hindu nation state. The concept of a nation state is not Hindu. It is a 19th-century European concept, but Europe is moving away from it while we continue to cling to it. As Rabindranath Tagore once said, India trying to build a nation is like Switzerland trying to build a navy.

What prompts people who were once part of the Left to turn to the BJP?
Psychologically, the Leftist and the Hindutva ideologies are not far from each other. They offer the same kind of closure, the feeling of having reached an absolute truth by which to live. People who have faith don’t usually have strong ideologies. But many Indians also have blind faith in ideologies because they feel if they don’t have the support of an ideology, the meaning of life will collapse.

What about young Indians?Are they clinging to ideology as a means of security?
Like our politicians, the young are increasingly getting de-ideologised. They don’t understand Hindutva but they have picked up its slogans as ideology. They cling to it with the passion of a lover because without that clinging, they feel they will not be able to call themselves Hindu, because otherwise they are going out and downing beef hamburgers. Alternatively, they are moving towards a new, generic version of Hinduism obtained from gurus. This flooding of the market with gurus has also come from this need. You could be a Malayali working in Himachal Pradesh. You have no access to your own village gods and goddesses, to the Malayali version of Hinduism with which you have lived — it doesn’t even make sense to you anymore. Then you take a generic version of the faith [from the gurus]. Somehow it gives you solace, a feeling that you are part of the Hindu community.

So are we losing Hinduism’s diversity?
Hinduism is becoming a faith in the way that Christianity in many parts of the West is a faith. That wasn’t our concept of religion. Today, there are many in India willing to fight for the cause of India to the last Indian. Exactly as in Islam: they are many willing to fight for Islam until the last Muslim. They despise Muslims for not participating in the struggle and don’t care how many of them die. Because they have very little compassion for Muslims, their compassion is reserved for the vague idea of Islam. Similarly, in India you will find a lot of people who have a vague idea of what India is — they have a statist, mechanical concept of India and of Hinduism, and they are willing to sacrifice a million people to achieve that end. But the Indian state is the Indian culture and that extends from South Vietnam all the way to the borders of Persia.

What about Islam in India? How has it changed over the years?
We are seeing an Arabisation of Islam in India. At one time, Indian Muslims were proud that their Islam represented the best of the world’s traditions. But they are increasingly losing that confidence, as a direct product of 19th-century European scholars who claimed that West Asian Islam was the real Islam while other strands were influenced by local religions. These scholars endorsed fundamentalist Islam as the real Islam. The hijab, for example, was introduced in Indonesia by Western educated women because they felt the Islam of their parents was not good enough. The same thing is happening in India. Muslims are virtually in uniform with skull caps and kurta-pyjama.

What are some of the biggest challenges India is to face?
How do we stop the fact that our economic and social vision is very close to writing off the bottom 10 percent of our society. We would be happy if they were all dead. How do we find people who will use the language of religion to re-enter the public imagination, someone who will re-enter as a person, articulating principles in direct continuation with his or her religion, without practising the dominant slogans of the pack. There are many, even our finance minister, who seem to believe that “development” and industrialisation are the way out of poverty, as that is the only model of social change they have learnt. America consumes 30 percent of the world’s resources with only six percent of its population. But we are not six percent of the world’s population. To become America we will have to kill off everybody else in the world and consume all the world’s resources and even then we will not have the American standard of living. According to a prediction, the Ganga will die out in 28 years. Something like that will probably awaken the consciousness of the people.

Why is the space for dissent shrinking?
Their own conviction in their being right is so small. Because they are themselves not convinced that what they are doing is right, they look at all dissent as an attack, not only on their ideas but on them directly. You are planting the idea in their mind, making them think that they could be wrong — that is their fear.

You’ve called history an overrated discipline. Why?

Every community of India has its own history, not only in terms of jati puranas but their own mythic history: memories handed down for generations. There are many ways of constructing the past, history is only one of them. But with this passion for history that came to India in the 19th century, everything has been “historised”. That, I think, has diminished us. Today, history is a major part of the knowledge industry, but that no longer enhances us. This search for truth about the past closes many pasts.

From Tehelka Magazine, Vol 5, Issue 26, Dated July 05, 2008

In Defence of Ashis Nandy : A Statement of Protest

In Defence of Ashis Nandy : A Statement of Protest

[For more detail you can contact Dr. Ghanshyam Shah 079-26442053]

We protest in the strongest possible terms against the charges of criminal offence levied against Ashis Nandy, a political psychologist, sociologist and an internationally renowned public intellectual of the highest caliber. This is the latest case of harassment of intellectuals, journalists, artists, and public figures by antidemocratic forces that claim to speak on behalf of Hindu values sometimes and patriotism at other times, especially in Gujarat, but who have little understanding of either. What is pernicious in this case is that the charge of criminal offence against Nandy levied under Section 153 (A) and (B) for his newspaper article "Blame the Middle Classes" , was brought by the head of the Gujarat Branch of the National Council of Civil Liberties. The State Government of Gujarat by giving its permission for filing the case has shown its own complicity in the case.
It seems part of the strategy of the most intolerant sections of Indian society today to make a cynical use the language of civil liberties to achieve ends that are the opposite of what the aspirations to civil liberties and the struggles over them represent. The harassment of well-known intellectuals and artists hides we fear, the daily intimidation being faced by members of minorities and especially the Muslims in Gujarat. We demand that all the charges against Professor Nandy be immediately dropped.
We understand that there is a great deal of anxiety in Gujarat today about its lost honour. It might help to remind ourselves that this honour or "asmita" will not be gained by acts of violence and intimidation but by recovering or discovering the humanity of each other. Gujarat can and will regain its own destiny by remembering the politics of nonviolence, as Mahatma Gandhi once taught us- the Gujaratis, the nation and the world.

1. Ghanshyam Shah, ( Former Professor JNU). Ahmedabad
2. Prof. J.S. Bandukwala, President, PUCL, Gujarat, (Vadodara)
3. Prakash Shah, Editor, Nirikshak, (President Movement for Secular Democracy)
4. Prof. Amita Varma, Vadodara (Former VC. M.S. University, Baroda)
5. Chunibhai vaidya, Ahmedabad (Chairperson, Lok Sangarsh samiti)
6. Prof. Heemanshi Shelat, Valsad
7. Prof. Anjana Desai, Surat
8. Prof. Upendra Baxi, Delhi (Former VC, South Gujarat University, Surat)
6. Prof. Heemanshi Shelat, Valsad
7. Prof. Anjana Desai, Surat
8. Prof. Upendra Baxi, Delhi (Former VC, South Gujarat University, Surat)
9. Prof. Rajni Kothari, Delhi
10. Prof. Lord Bhikhu Parekh, U.K (Former VC, M.S. University Baroda)
11. Prof. Lord Meghnad Desai UK
12. Girish Patel, Ahmedabad.
13. Prof. Ila Pathak, Ahmedabad14. Prof. Gulam Shekh, Vadodara
15. Indukumar Jani, Ahmedabad
16. Mrinaliniben Sarabhai, Ahmedabad
17. Prof. D.L. Sheth, Simala
18. Joseph Mecwan, Anand
19. Achut Yagnik, Ahmedabad
20. Rajni Dave, (Editor, Bhumipiutra) Ahmedabad
21. Dwarkanath rath, Ahmedabad
22. Prof. Narayan Sheth, Ahmedabad (Former Director, IIM, Ahmedabad)
23. Prof. Pravin Sheth, Ahmedabad
24. Prof. Makarand Mehta, Ahmedabad
25. Prof. Sujata Patel, Pune
26. Prof. Vidyut Joshi Ahmedabad (Former VC, Bhavnagar University),
27. Prof. Darshini Mahadevia, Ahmedabad
28. Prof. Tridipt Shruhad, Ahmedabad
29. Prof. Nagin Sanghavi, Mumbai
30. Prof. B.A. Parikh, Surat (Former VC South Gujarat University)
31. Prof. Ila Patel, Anand
32. Ashok Cahudhari, Vedchhi
33. Prof. Neera desai, Mumbai
34. Prof. Udya Mehta, Mumbai
35. Mihir desai, Mumbai
36. Dr. Ramesh Parmar, Ahmedabad
37. Dr. Hanif Lakdawala, Ahmedabad
38. Malika Sarabhai
39. Digant Oza, Ahmedabad
40. Prof. Yashin Dalal Rajkot
41. Dr. Anil Patel, Mangol
42. Gautam Thakar, Ahmedabad
43. Rohit Prajapati, Vadodara
44. Dr. Trupti Shah , Vadodara
45. Prof. Jaimini Mehta, Vadodara
46. Prof. Shirish Panchal, Vadodara
47. Urvish Kothari, Mehmadbad
48. Prof. Kalpana Shah, Ahmedabad (Former Act, VC South Gujarat University)
49. Amit Dave, Ahmedabad
50. Prof. Rohit Shukla, Ahmedabad
51. Arun Thakore, Ahmedabad
52. Yashwant Mehta, Ahmedabad
53. Prof. Vibhuti Patel, Mumbai
54. Dr. Jaydev Shukla, Savali
55. Ambarish Mehta, Vadodara
56. Prof. Punita Mehta
57. Fr Cedric Prakash, Ahmedabad
58. Manishi Jani, Ahmedabad
59. Dr. Archana Chokshi, U.K.60. Prof. Yogendra Mankad, Ahmedabad
61. Dr. Sonal Shukla, Mumbai
62. Kabir Thakore, Ahmedabad
63. Janak Raval, Ahmedabad
64. Trupti Parekh, Vadodara
65. Prof. B.D. Desai, Surat
66. Dr. Esha Shah, U.K.
67. Dr. Kiran Desai, Surat
68. Rakeh Sharma, Mumbai
69. Hiren Gandhi, Ahmedabad
70. sanjay Bhave, Ahmedabad
71. Dr. Neha Shah Ahmedabad
72. Dr. Swarup Dhruv, Ahmedabad
73. Prof. Gaurang Jani, Ahmedabad
74. Prof. Sidharth Bhatt, Ahmedabad
75. Prof. Dinesh Shukla, Ahmedabad
76. Kiran Trivedi, Ahmedabad
77. Prof. Dandhukiya, Bhavnagar
78. Prof. Pramod Pancholi, Vadodara
79. Dr. Lyla Mehta, IDS, UK
80. Dr. Bhabani Nayak, University of Sussex, UK
81. Manjula Pradeep, Nani Dewali, Sanand
82. Arun Pathak, Ahmedabad
83. Kiran Nanvaty, Vijyawada, A.P.
84. Avinash, Ahmedabad
85. Anand Patwardhan, Mumbai
86. Vimal Trivedi, Surat
87. Subhas Gatade, Mumbai
88. Vinayak Jadhav, Mumbai
89. Waqar Qazi
90. Magan Desai, Vadodara
91. Barin Mehta
92. Persis Ginwalla, Ahmedabad
93. Ashok Gupta
94. Prof. Iftikhar Ahmad Khan, Vadodara
95. Prof. Jayshree Mehta, Vadodara
96. Prof. Sudarshan Iangar, Ahmedabad
97. Martin Mecwan, Nani Devati
98. Amita Bhide, Ahmedabad
99. Madhu Menon, Mumbai
100. Dr. Amar Jesani, Mumbai
101. Dr.Michael, Ahmedabad
102. Dr. Varsha Ganguli, Ahmedabad
103. Uttam Parmar, Kim
104. Natubhai Shah, Navsari
105. Anand Cahudhari, Navsari, Mandvai106. Bhimsingh Cahudhari, Mandvai
107. M.H. Gandhi, Ahmedabad
108. Mahennisha M. Desai, Ahmedabad
109. Krunshnkant. Ahmedabad
110. Kiran trivedi, Ahmedabad
111. Vishunbhai Dangar, Ahmedabad
112. Ranchhodbhai Shah, Anand
113. Brizlee, Ahmedabd
114. Kamlesh B. Bhavsar, Ahmedabad
115. Alpesh Bhavsar, Ahmedabad
116. Ramaben Vora, Ahmedabad]
117. Mukund Raval, Godhara
118. Damyanti Parekh, Ahmedabd
119. Naresh vachher, Ahmedabad
120. Dankesh Oza, Vadodara
121. Ibrahimbhai Vora, Nadiad
122. A.A. Maniya, Nadiad
123. Prof.Vishu Raval, Valsad
124. Girish Susira, Palanpur
125. Prof. Sirin Mehata, Ahmedabad
126. Prof. Rita Kothari, Ahmedabad
127. Prof. Dhaval Mehta, Ahmedabad
128. S.R. Ramol, Jaipur
129. Ugamraj, Jai[ur
130. Manjula, Ahmedabd
131. Nila Mahdev, Ahmedabd
132. P.K. Valera, Ahmedabd
133. B. K. Amin, Kalol
134. Abhijit Kothari
135. Chaturbhai Chuhan, Ahmedabd
136. Ambdul Husenbhai Vakani, Bharuch
137. Dr. Satyakam Joshi, Surat
138. Prof. Ashok Chetterjee, Ahmedabd
139. ishaq Arab, Ahmedabd
140. N. R. Malik Ahmedabd
141. A.A. Parekh, Ahmedabd
142. V. B. Rathawa, Chhotaudepur
143. Rajendra Aagar, Anand
144. Tulshibhai chauhan, Ahmedabd
145. Ramesh Borisa, Ahmedabad,
146. Jaysh Mistry, Ahmedabad
147. Dhrmendra jain, Ahmedabad
148. Prag Shah, Ahmedabad
149. Dharmendra Acharya, Ahmedabad
150. Kishor B. Gavit, Himatnagar
151. Arvindbhai Raout, Himatnagar152. Smitesh A. Makawana, Himatnagar
153. Bachubhai Shah, Ahmedabad
154. kamlesh Bhavsar, Ahmedabad
155. Achutbhai Patel, Ahmedabad
156. Jethalal Kashyap, Sanad
157. Prof. Harshad Desai, Ahmedabad
158. Trupti Shukla, Vadhavan
159. Shrushti Shukla, Vadhavan
160. Lalubhai Chuhan, Gandhinagar
161. Kamlesh patel, Ahmedabad
162. Joly Kalhpplly. Ahmedabad
163. Bina Mecwan, Ahmedabad
164. Mustakali, Ahmedabad
165. Kishorbhai, Ahmedabad
166. Brijesh Parmar, Himatnagar
167. John Britoo, Hilnagar
168. Jose Jaman, Hilanagar
169. Meluni Dmeht, Hilanagar
170. Vinesh Gayakwad, Hilanagar
171. Rosal Rodigus, Hilanagar
172. Deepak Rawal, Hilanagar
173. Tanya D’Lama, Ahmedabad
174. Sheena D’Lama Ahmedabad
175. Dasharath Srimal, Ahmedabad
176. S.L. Patel, Ahmedabad
177. Joseph Dominik, Ahmedabad
178. Suvarna, Ahmedabad
179. Jagdish Dikshi, Ahmedabad
180. Kirit Shah. Ahmedabad
181. Ramit N. Rathod, Ahmedabad
182. Rajubhai parmar, Ahmedabad
183. Pranav Parmar, Ahmedabad
184. Shisu Solanki, Ahmedabad
185. Anil M. Majani, Ahmedabad
186. H.G. Betwai, Ahmedabad
187. R.R. Soman Ahmedabad
188. R.S. Parmar, Ahmedabad
189. Babubhai Nathabhai Parmar, Patan
190. Natwarbhai Khushalbhai Vasava, Dedipada
191. A.A. Anuya, Nadiad
192. Pravin M. Shah, Ahmedabad
193. G.B. Patham, Ahmedabad
194. Shantibhai Shah, Ahmedabad
195. Shamista Shah, Ahmedabad
196. D. M. Thakkar, Ahmedabad
197. Khjati Purohi, Ahmedabad
198. gaurang Divetiya, Ahmedabad
199. Suryakant Parikh, Ahmedabad
200. Niranjan Shah, Ahmedabad
201. Satish Shah, Ahmedabad
202. Prof. Dhannjay Pandya
203. Arvind Desai, Ahmedabad
204. Anirudhsinh Jadeja, Rajkot
205. Sagar Rabari, Ahmedabad
206. Prof. Smita Shah, Surat
207. Bakula, Valsad
208. Prof. Jayanti Patel, Ahmedabad
209. Prof. Kuntal Mehta, Ahmedabad
210. Prof. Mangal Mehta, Ahmedabad
211. Prof. Kanji Patel, Lunavada
Posted by c-info at Tuesday, June 24, 2008
Labels: Ashis Nandy, Citizens Campaign

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Nandy Interview- DNA June29, 2008

Sunday, June 29, 2008 3:37:00 AM
Permission to reprint or copy this article or photo must be obtained from www.3dsyndication.com.

‘Middle class by virtue of money, not values’

Parsa Venkateshwar Rao Jr

Social psychologist and public intellectual Ashis Nandy is under attack from a little-known Gujarat civil liberties organisation for an article he wrote in January this year criticising the state’s middle class for playing out the extreme positions of Vinayaka Damodar Savarkar and Mohammed Ali Jinnah.

Apparently, enraged, the BJP-ruled state’s establishment dispatched a legal notice to him, accusing him of inciting hatred between communities. Nandy has long riled India’s establishment with his incisive critique of the myths of modernism.

An unflappable Nandy spoke to Parsa Venkateshwar Rao Jr in his office at the Centre for Study of Developing Societies in Delhi, about the new post-liberalisation middle class and the rising tide of intolerance in Indian society.

Does the attack from this Gujarat civil liberties organisation come as a shock to you because despite your provocative intellectual stance all these years, this is a first?
I would not say that I am shocked, but it was certainly unexpected. It is for certain that this organisation is a mere front. It is the state government that is behind this. It is usually the case that even when politicians do not agree with what the press writes, they try to ignore it. They never take on the press. In this instance, they are being brazen. It shows that they are not even politically wise.

Is it not surprising that this attack comes from right-wingers?
One would have expected the leftists to attack you because of your intellectual positions. This is not a right-wing attack at all. We do not have a right-wing or a left wing in this country. They are inappropriate labels. There is no proper conservatism here. We do not have anything like a Tory party.

Do you think that we have a new middle class that is resorting to legal measures to fight opponents? Is it an improvement on street protests and violence?
In this case it is the government and the political establishment which is using laws of colonial times meant to suppress public opinion. Those laws should not have been allowed to continue in a free country. Yes, there is a new middle class which is using legal measures to fight opponents. But they belong to the middle class by virtue of money and not by virtue of values. The street protests and violence are still there. They are just using the courts as well.

Is there a rising tide of intolerance?
Certainly. Look at the cases filed against MF Husain. I notice that this intolerance is spreading.

Is this a passing phase of a middle class which is yet to settle down in its new place?
It is a passing phase. Generally, it takes a generation-and-a-half for the new middle class to acquire the value system of the class.

Is it not surprising that with the opening up of the economy, our mental horizons have not widened?
The number of people who attend a musical soiree, attend a lecture, read a book and take part in a discussion has remained small. Perhaps, in each Indian city there are not more than 4000 such people. That is a generous estimate.The new entrants into the middle class are extremely ignorant. They are imitating the Western Protestant Christianity culture of intolerance. They have the arrogant belief that they will defend Gods, who are supposed to protect human beings. They do not know anything but the cheap Western ways. They do not know the Indian way of believing in religion, which is personal, playful and even erotic. We joke with our gods. We
invite them. We send them away. Indian Christians too believe in god in a different way from that of the West. I see the new trend of religious intolerance not just among Hindus but also among Muslims. They are all imitating the religious fundamentalists of the West. These people do not know how people in East Asia believe in religion and god. All that they know is the Western, American way.

Would you say that this is the proletarianisation of the middle class?
I would call it lumpenisation

Is not this new middle class more vocal than ever before?
It is vocal but it is uninformed. These people do not think it is necessary to know. They say what they feel and think. They write their ignorant views on blogs, voice it on TV shows. If you are informed, you will be less assertive. These people have no doubts. They think that what they say is right. The information and news they get is from the television. They do not want to check out whether what is being shown and doled out to them is true or not. They have become passive
recipients of an enormous amount of information. They cannot decide for themselves. They pick up their views and opinions from TV channels.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Blame The Middle Class--The Times of India Jan 8,2008

The Times of India LEADER ARTICLE: Blame The Middle Class

8 Jan 2008, 0000 hrs IST, Ashis Nandy

Now that the dust has settled over the Gujarat elections, we can afford to defy the pundits and admit that, even if Narendra Modi had lost the last elections, it would not have made much difference to the culture of Gujarat politics. Modi had already done his job. Most of the state's urban middle class would have remained mired in its inane versions of communalism and parochialism and the VHP and the Bajrang Dal would have continued to set the tone of state politics. Forty years of dedicated propaganda does pay dividends, electorally and socially. The Hindus and the Muslims of the state — once bonded so conspicuously by language, culture and commerce — have met the demands of both V D Savarkar and M A Jinnah. They now face each other as two hostile nations. The handful of Gujarati social and political activists who resist the trend are seen not as dissenters but as treacherous troublemakers who should be silenced by any means, including surveillance, censorship and direct violence. As a result, Gujarati cities,
particularly its educational institutions are turning cultural deserts. Gujarat has already disowned the Indian Constitution and the state apparatus has adjusted to the change. The Congress, the main opposition party, has no effective leader. Nor does it represent any threat to the mainstream politics of Gujarat. The days of grass-roots leaders like Jhinabhai Darji are past and a large section of the party now consists of Hindu nationalists. The national leadership of the party does not have the courage to confront Modi over 2002, given its abominable record of 1984.

The Left is virtually non-existent in Gujarat. Whatever minor presence it once had among intellectuals and trade unionists is now a vague memory. The state has disowned Gandhi, too; Gandhian politics arouses derision in middle-class Gujarat. Except for a few valiant old-timers, Gandhians have made peace with their conscience by withdrawing from the public domain. Gandhi himself has been given a saintly, Hindu nationalist status and shelved. Even the Gujarati translations of his Complete Works have been stealthily distorted to conform to the Hindu nationalist agenda. Gujarati Muslims too are "adjusting" to their new station. Denied justice and proper compensation, and as second-class citizens in their home state, they have to depend on voluntary efforts and donor agencies. The state's refusal to provide relief has been partly met by voluntary groups having fundamentalist sympathies. They supply aid but insist that the
beneficiaries give up Gujarati and take to Urdu, adopt veil, and send their children to madrassas. Events like the desecration of Wali Gujarati's grave have pushed one of India's culturally richest, most diverse, vernacular Islamic traditions to the wall. Future generations will as gratefully acknowledge the sangh parivar's contribution to the growth of radical Islam in India as this generation remembers with gratitude the handsome contribution of Rajiv Gandhi and his cohorts to Sikh militancy.

The secularist dogma of many fighting the sangh parivar has not helped matters. Even those who have benefited from secular lawyers and activists relate to secular ideologies instrumentally. They neither understand them nor respect them. The victims still derive solace from their religions and, when under attack, they cling more passionately to faith. Indeed,
shallow ideologies of secularism have simultaneously broken the back of Gandhism and discouraged the emergence of figures like Ali Shariatis, Desmond Tutus and the Dalai Lama — persons who can give suffering a new voice audible to the poor and the powerless and make a creative intervention possible from within world views accessible to the people.

Finally, Gujarat's spectacular development has underwritten the de-civilising process. One of the worst-kept secrets of our times is that dramatic development almost always has an authoritarian tail. Post-World War II Asia too has had its love affair with developmental despotism and the censorship, surveillance and thought control that go with it. The East Asian
tigers have all been maneaters most of the time. Gujarat has now chosen to join the pack. Development in the state now justifies amorality, abridgement of freedom, and collapse of social ethics.

Is there life after Modi? Is it possible to look beyond the 35 years of rioting that began in 1969 and ended in 2002? Prima facie, the answer is "no". We can only wait for a new generation that will, out of sheer self-interest and tiredness, learn to live with each other. In the meanwhile, we have to wait patiently but not passively to keep values alive, hoping that at some point will come a modicum of remorse and a search for atonement and that ultimately Gujarati traditions will triumph over the culture of the state's urban middle class.

Recovering Gujarat from its urban middle class will not be easy. The class has found in militant religious nationalism a new self- respect and a new virtual identity as a martial community, the way Bengali babus, Maharashtrian Brahmins and Kashmiri Muslims at different times have sought salvation in violence. In Gujarat this class has smelt blood, for it does not have to do the killings but can plan, finance and coordinate them with impunity. The actual killers are the lowest of the low,mostly tribals and Dalits. The middle class controls the media and education, which have become hate factories in recent times. And they receive spirited support from most non-resident Indians who, at a safe distance from India, can afford to be more nationalist, bloodthirsty, and irresponsible.

The writer is a political psychologist.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Prof. Veena Das: a note

Dear Sir/ Madam

I am enclosing a statement signed by One hundred and seventy academics, writers, film makers, journalists, activists and other public intellectuals protesting strongly against the charges of criminal offense levied against Ashis Nandy, the renowned scholar of politics in India, for an article on the middle classes in Gujarat that he wrote. The signatories include highly respected professors from universities around the world including India, USA, UK, France, Japan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Mexico, Serbia, Hungary, Sweden, Morocco, and Algeria. They are joined by writers , journalists, physicians, film-makers, activists, and other concerned citizens. The fact that this case has drawn such wide-spread protest from around the world is not only a sign of the high regard with which Ashis Nandy is held among his peers but also a sign of the growing anger among the intellectuals on the attacks on fundamental freedoms, harassment and intimidation of critics in Gujarat.
Signatories include renowned writers such as Pankaj Mishra, scholars such as Partha Chatterjee, Pratap Bhanu Mehta, William Connolly, Homi Bhabha, Gananath Obeyesekere, and lawyers and activist such as Flavia Agnes.
I hope that your newspaper will take the initiative to report on this important statement in support of democratic values.
Thank you very much for your consideration.

Veena Das
Krieger-Eisenhower Professor
Johns Hopkins

News Reports

Check out these articles about Ashis Nandy...

Modi govt files case against Ashis Nandy, daily

New Delhi: The Narendra Modi government on Sunday decided to file criminal cases against noted sociologist Ashis Nandy and the resident editor of a national daily in Ahmedabad.
While Nandy has been charged for an article he wrote in January, the newspaper had published stories critical of the Ahmedabad commissioner of police.
An irate Nandy told CNN-IBN that the state government is taking such steps to silence its critics.
“I have been charged with creating animosity between communities for publishing a column. They want to threaten me but they also know that their case has cannot stand against me,” Nandy said.
Calling it a case of harassment, Nandy also said that he has spoken to his lawyers, however he is “not going to take such issues seriously.”
“This is just being done to silence people like me,” he added.

Link: Modi Government Files Case against Ashis Nandy

Journalists stage protest against Ahmedabad police chief
June 2nd, 2008 ICT by IANS

Ahmedabad, June 2 (IANS): Over 300 city-based journalists Monday held demonstrations outside the Ahemdabad
police commissioner’s office, protesting a sedition and defamation complaint filed against two scribes for a series of articles critical of city police chief O.P. Mathur. The traffic on the busy Shahibaug Road was affected for over an hour and half as the slogan-shouting journalists gathered outside the city police commissioner’s office.
Dilip Patel, a senior journalist, said mediapersons will petition to
Governor Nawal Kishore Sharma and the home secretary. City police commissioner Mathur, meanwhile, did not turn up at the office.
Mathur Sunday filed a first information report (FIR) against Times of India reporter Prashant Dayal and resident editor Bharat Desai under the Indian Penal Code (IPC) sections 120-B (criminal conspiracy), 124-A (sedition) and 34 (defamation and conspiracy against the state and the police force). The move came after the Times of India published “a series of documented investigative reports” that questioned “his competence to guarantee the
security of the people of Ahmedabad, which is high on the hit list of terrorists”, the newspaper noted Monday. The reports linked Mathur with Abdul Lateef, a don who was killed in a police shootout a decade ago. The FIR also named Gautam Mehta, a photojournalist with the Gujarati daily Gujarat Samachar, who once worked with the Times of India. Mehta told IANS: “I am surprised to see my name in the FIR. I don’t know in what way I am connected. I left ToI 10 years ago when I was a crime reporter there.”

A police complaint was also filed last week against noted political psychologist and commentator Ashis Nandy for writing an article allegedly promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth and language. Rights activists have criticised the police moves.
The Gujarat unit of the Socialist Unity Centre of India (SUCI) condemned the sedition case against the journalists. SUCI state secretary Dwarika Nath Rath said the police action was a direct assault on the freedom of press. “SUCI demands the withdrawal of the charge of sedition and conspiracy immediately,” he said, adding that the SUCI will send a memorandum to the state governor and the central home minister.

Link: Journalists stage protest against Ahmedabad police chief