Drop All Charges
Dr Teltumbde's home in Goa was raided in his absence without any notice by the Poona Police on August 28, 2018. At the same time in simultaneous raids in several cities, the homes of others, including a priest, were similarly raided and five writers, lawyers, civil-rights activists, and an octogenarian poet, were arrested and continue to be incarcerated. Before this, in June 2018, five other individuals, including academics, lawyers, and civil and democratic rights activists, were arrested and also remain incarcerated.

These raids and arrests follow from the mobilisation of a peaceful public meeting on 31st December 2017, co-organised by retired Supreme Court Justice P B Sawant and retired justice B G Kolshe Patil of the Bombay High Court, to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the Last-Anglo Maratha battle, which took place at Bhima-Koregaon, Maharashtra, India, where large numbers of Dalit soldiers were martyred. The public meeting drew attention to the communal and casteist policies of the BJP. Dr Teltumbde was invited to a planning meeting for this public meeting but in the end, attended neither the planning meeting nor the public meeting. The charge against the others arrested and that facing Dr Teltumbde is that they collaborated with Maoists and that the public meeting was funded by Maoists. For these charges there is not a shred of credible evidence. The police have also concocted a conspiracy to assassinate the Prime Minister implicating these dissident intellectuals and defenders of human rights. The people already in jail on charges similar to those against Dr Teltumbde are: Arun Ferreira, Gautam Navlakha, Mahesh Raut, Shoma Sen, Rona Wilson, Sudha Bharadwaj, Sudhir Dhawale, Surendra Gadling, Varavara Rao, and Vernon Gonsalves.

We, the undersigned, appeal to the Government of India in the name of justice, democratic freedom, and the rule of law that the charges against Dr Teltumbde be dropped unconditionally and that the ten human rights activists currently in jail be released immediately and unconditionally.
The Organizing Committee for the Dr B R Ambedkar Memorial Lecture (SFU/UBC):
Chinmoy Banerjee (Dr Hari Sharma Foundation), Ajay Bhardwaj (University of British Columbia), Jai Birdi (Chetna Association of Canada), Samir Gandesha (Simon Fraser University), Harinder Mahil (Dr Hari Sharma Foundation), Jessica Main (University of British Columbia), Anne Murphy (University of British Columbia), Sara Shneiderman (University of British Columbia)
Other Canadian Organizations
India Civil Watch Canada (ICW Canada), South Asian Network for Secularism and Democracy (SANSAD), CERAS Montreal Democracy, Equality and Secularism in South Asia Winnipeg (PE5SA), Punjabi Literary and Cultural Association, Unifor Canada

Capitalism is a Religion
People are living in the age of globalisation. Some global parameters of governance have come into existence to take care of the needs of global capitalism. Of course, there are country-specific variations in the new global paradigm of governance, but significant commonalities are noticed in the way the new paradigm is made operative in different countries of the world.

The eminent European political thinker, Giorgio Agamben, was interviewed by Juliette Cerf in French in 2012. Agamben raised critical philosophical and political questions in the interview. He argued: "We will never grasp what is going on today unless we understand that capitalism is, in reality, a religion". Extending this argument, he said: "If politics is today in retreat, that is because financial power, substituting itself for religion, has kidnapped all faith and all hope".

Agamben located new strategies of power in the context of ongoing "crisis" of present time. To put it in his own words: "Public power is losing legitimacy. A mutual suspicion has developed between the authorities and the citizen... In the eyes of power, every citizen is a potential terrorist... The crisis is continually ongoing, since, like other exceptional mechanism, it allows the authorities to impose measures that they would never be able to get away with in a normal period".

The recent onslaught on human/civil rights activists by the Indian state shows that the present paradigm of governance being followed in the country converges with the new global paradigm of suspicion and surveillance identified by Giorgio Agamben.
Arup Kumar Sen, Kolkata

Crushing Dissent
It is quite clear from the turn of events that it is the vindictiveness of the Maharashtra government, backed by the central government, which is trying to convey a lesson out of these accused activists, lawyers and academics to all people who express dissent and protest the undemocratic actions of the state, so that all dissent and resistance can be ultimately crushed. The bogey of "urban Maoists" which has been raised to persecute these activists is clearly aimed at camouflaging the continuous actions of the government to target and persecute dalits, adivasis, minorities and other weaker sections of society. CDRO strongly condemns these actions and demands the immediate release of Sudha Bharadwaj, Vemon Gonsalves and Arun Ferreira, and their co-accused who are already in jail for the last five months, Surendra Gadling, Shoma Sen, Mahesh Raut, Rona Wilson and Sudhir Dhawale, and the withdrawal of the false FIRs against them and all the other accused in the case.
On behalf of CDRO,
Ashish Gupta, Coordinator,
Constituent Organisations: Association for Democratic Rights (AFDR, Punjab), Association for Protection of Democratic Rights (APDR, West Bengal); Asansol Civil Rights Association, West Bengal; Bandi Mukti Committee (West Bengal); Civil Liberties Committee (CLC, Andhra Pradesh); Civil Liberties Committee (CLC, Telangana); Committee for Protection of Democratic Rights (CPDR, Maharashtra); Committee for Protection of Democratic Rights (CPDR, Tamil Nadu); Coordination for Human Rights (COHR, Manipur); Manab Adhikar Sangram Samiti (MASS, Assam); Naga People's Movement for Human Rights (NPMHR); Peoples' Committee for Human Rights (PCHR, Jammu and Kashmir); Peoples Democratic Forum (PDF, Karnataka); Jharkhand Council for Democratic Rights (JCDR, Jharkhand); People's Union For Democratic Rights (PUDR, Delhi); People's Union for Civil Rights (PUCR, Haryana), Campaign for Peace & Democracy in Manipur (CPDM), Delhi; Janhastakshep (Delhi)

Family Counselling
Indian women were/are hapless victims of power construction in public and personal lives. Women were/are till looked in the sexiest status quo in Indian society mostly. They were/are victims of gander disparity and male's power construction. Feminist movement, education, participation in workforce and other initiatives including enactment of laws, etc. fail to break down current power relations and to rebuild in more equitable ways. Social and economic empowerment of women has been derided. The culture practices and social association in male dominated society are deeply rooted in women's lives. In both of rural and urban society, women of varied age groups face problem in marriage and marital life. Conjugal relations control women's lives because it is treated as safety and security of women. They are being oriented to keep in relations ignoring male's torture. They will die, but they will not open their mouths outside. Domestic violence, marital conflict, marital discord and torture are increasing daily. Here law and order are less effective because of various burdens related to administration and society/family.

In 1983, the Ministry of Women and Child Development, government of India introduced a scheme of Family Counselling Centre (FCC) under supervision of CSWB/state board to tackle issues of atrocities, family maladjustments and social ostracism, etc. to women and children through counselling, referral and rehabilitative services. It has been also scheduled to create awareness and mobilise public opinion on social issues affecting status of women. NGOs run in close collaboration with the local administration, police, courts, free legal aid cells, medical and psychiatric institutions, vocational training centres, short stay homes etc. It has been observed in each sub-divisional town area, there is at least one FCC.

But these FCCs' functions are ineffective and mal-functioned. It has been observed that majority of these FCCs have no/untrained counselors. The scheme states to appoint two trained counselors (one male and one female). But there is one counselor who is not regularly attending the FCC. Other supportive staff members are invisible in the FCC. But the FCC uses to prepare and present the false and vague report to the appropriate authority to get fund regularly in close association with the supervising authority. It is an under table understanding of sharing of the fund/misappropriation of the fund.

Local community is unaware about the existence of FCC and its functions because there is no outreach programme. As a result of this, incidents of marital violence are increasing specially in rural areas. A negligible portion of the women's victims directly lodges FIR at the police station. They have to depend on the delayed process of justice. It adversely affects their daily lives with agony and insecurity. Even, the police station does not refer them to the FCC for resolution of their cases more easily.

Is this a system of co-ordination and integration of government agencies and the FCC? This FCC may increase the face value of government, NGO and other actors. But fails to protect the face of victims' women. Therefore, enactment of laws for women's safety and security are nothing, but a pen and paper matter. Obviously, violence against women will increase day after day. Power sharing process and negotiating agencies are under corruption and male dominance.
Harasankar Adhikari, Kolkata

Ghost Telephone
MTNL Delhi allotted me telephone number 22759376, for broad-band (and for voice if I used my own telephone instrument), in March 2014. CA number (whose meaning I do not know although it is always asked for) 2073473693.

In October 2018 my connection was changed to fibre optic cable. I was told that my phone number would change but what actually happened was that I was given an additional number (with CA number 2073509719). Then I began to get two bills each month in place of one, and of course they have to be paid separately.

On 9 January 2019 I received two bills over e-mail as usual, one for broad-band and one for telephone. I paid the first one, Rs 778, the same day; but despite repeated attempts over the last eight days, I have not been able to pay the second. This is because MTNL's website does not show it when asked for unpaid bills—the very same website which sent me a PDF version.
Mukul Dube, New Delhi

"Doing the Party"
Government may virtually be denied that unemployment is the most crucial and challenging threat to the country (India). It might be campaigned that government is doing a lot (i.e. skilling India programme and like this) for the unemployed section. But all of these programmmes have failed to challenge this issue. It is the biggest thrust to the young India. One may categorise the unemployed sections as per the nature of their engagement into three sectors—a) employed in public and private sectors, and they are a fortunate few, b) migrant labour (unskilled and semiskilled youth workforce and c) unemployed (who are a basically jobless section). Due to absence of employment field, the rate of migration of young of West Bengal is increasing daily. But a large section of educated youth population in West Bengal has no engagement. They are the burden of their family. A significant segment of them is from the economically weaker section, and they have possessed their education with hope to change their status as before. This section has been trapped by the political partis of West Bengal. They are abused by purposefully for political gain. Their profession / engagement is now "doing the party'. They enjoy various benefits i.e. motor bike, cash and others for their active involvement in the particular political party. They are being focused as watch dog informer and as hooligans. They commit different indulgences—an environment of fear, violence and other whatever the party wants time to time in around their neighbourhood.

A study has been conducted in the villages of South 24 Parganas and East Midnapore district of West Bengal to know the status of unemployed youth. Informal interaction and personal interview adopting purposive random sampling were used to collect data from youth and their family (parents). It has been revealed that about 62% of the youth (18-40 years) are "doing the party" by profession. Among them, 36% is from economically well-off family, and they are graduated and postgraduate. They and their parents are very much happy with this profession and according to their opinions, it is prestigious because their neighbourhood respects them. Local people visit them for any problem. They act as negotiators of different government schemes. They also gladly share that they were once depressed because they had no alternative or no liaison to get engagement or to migrate into job market outside their own place. This occupation ('doing the party') has rewarded with own motor bike and Smartphone. They also enjoy cash benefits and materials benefits. They share that they have no fear because their political party is with them.

Therefore, "doing party" is a well recognised profession in West Bengal. What would be their future? They and their leaders never think over it. The leaders think of their immediate benefits using this section. What would be the future of the society when a change of change would occur?
Harasankar Adhikari, Kolkata

Krishna Sobti
Krishna Sobti has passed away. In the "Indian Express" report of this, there appears a drawing or painting by a Subrata Dhar, which is based on a photograph I took in December 2011 and which can be found on Flickr. This work of the damn thief was used also when Krishnaji won the Jnanpith award.
Mukul Dube, Delhi

Vol. 51, No.32, Feb 10 - 16, 2019