Targeting Dr Sebastian
Dr Gilbert Sebastian, Asst professor at Kerala Central University situated in Kasargod district of Kerala is being targeted by the right wing after he referred to Sangh parivar as proto-fascist in one of his lectures. The Vice Chancellor of the university has called for an enquiry into the matter after being directed by the UGC and Ministry of Human Resources Development on receiving complaints from ABVP.

Sebastian, an Asst Prof at Department of International Relations and Political Science, at the university was attempting to have an academic discussion with his students on whether India under Modi gov, can be considered a proto-fascist state?

Classrooms are meant to be platforms for discussions and interventions regarding the socio- political conditions of the country. But the Sangh Parivar use educational institutions as a platform to spread the Hindutva terror. The Sangh has always remained intolerant towards differences and has very evidently been opposing and suppressing dissent voices. Post 2014, under the Modi government, the country has witnessed an explicit suppression of academic freedom. The Sangh Parivar in league with their stooges has been trying to curb discussions and conversations thereby making classrooms less academic and more convenient to exercise their agenda of hatred. Dr. Sebastian is another victim of this intolerance towards open discussions.

The irresponsibility shown by the UGC and the ministry of human resources development in acting without checking into the facts is to be questioned. This very gesture from the part of the administration validates the question of India stooping into a proto-fascist state.

Academics across the country stand with Dr Sebastian and demand immediate action to be taken against ABVP for targeting the professor. And they condemn the irresponsible and biased decision of the university administration, UGC and Ministry of Human Resources Development to take action against the professor for simply exercising his right to free speech and expression guaranteed by the Constitution of this country.
Nidha Parveen, Kerala

Losing Scribes to Covid-19
India is fast losing working journalists to Covid-19 and crosses 100 marks till date where the global tally hits 1180 scribes in 76 countries. The country lately starts losing around three journalists every day. Brazil continues to be the worst affected country with 181 media corona-casualties followed by Peru (140) and Mexico (106), stated the Switzerland based media rights & safety body Press Emblem Campaign (PEC).

India, which witnessed the death of nine journalists due to novel corona virus infection aggravated ailments in the last three days, is just behind of Mexico with 101 casualties since the pandemic broke out in March 2020. The nation with a billion plus populace comes far ahead of Italy (52 dead), Bangladesh (51), USA (47), Colombia (47), Ecuador (46), United Kingdom (28), Dominican Republic (27), Pakistan (25), Turkey (24), Iran (21), etc.

Expressing apprehensions that the situation may worsen for the safety of journalists on the ground due to the corona-pandemic, Blaise Lempen, general secretary of PEC, advocates for adequate compensations to the victim families. He also emphasizes on early vaccinations to media workers so that they can perform their duties as corona warriors after the doctors, nurses, sanitation workers, etc without endangering their lives. Even after the launch of a massive corona-vaccination program covering around 13 million Indian citizens India till now in the backdrop of around three million reported infections every day mounting its cumulative Covid-19 cases to over 16 million (total casualty crosses 190,000).

Reported names of recent corona-victims include Shailesh Raval (Gujarat), Sopan Bongane, Ashok Tupe, Motichand Bedmutha (Maharashtra), P Tataiah, Chandrashekar Naidu, Srinivasa Rao (Andhra Pradesh), Ashish Yechury, Chanchal Pal Chauhan (New Delhi), Chinta Naga Raju, Ramachandra Rao (Telangana), Govind Behera, Manoj Kumar Sahu, Karunakar Sahu, Naresh Behera (Odisha), Jodu Chutia (Assam),etc.

"India has the probability to increase the number of media corona-victims as a number of States went on under-reporting about the actual figures because of various reasons," commented PEC's country representative Nava Thakuria adding, in many cases even the established media houses had not reported about their own corona-positive cases to avoid unwanted interferences from the authority under the health protocols.
T Navajyoti

Muslim Representation
"Fifteen years ago, the Sachar committee exposed the abysmal condition of Bengali Muslims. Their representation in public employment was just 2.1 percent, against their population of 27 percent - the lowest ratio in the country. Our own analysis ("The myth of appeasement", IE April 20, 2018) showed that since the Sachar committee submitted its report, Muslims have been losing out to other marginalised communities like Dalits and Hindu OBCs in terms of income, jobs and education.

However, in West Bengal, while Muslims remain marginalised vis-à-vis other communities, including Dalits, they have indeed gained in public employment - so much so that Muslims getting regular jobs has generated anxiety among the bhadralok. According to the NSSO-Employment-Unemployment Survey (EUS) 2005, 2012 and PLFS (Periodic Labour Force Survey) 2018, Muslim representation in government and public sector employment has jumped from 6.7 percent in 2006 to 9 percent in 2012 and 17 percent in 2018. The increase came at the expense of Hindu upper castes, whose share dropped from 63 percent in 2006 to 53 percent in 2012 and 47 percent in 2018. The share of Dalits remained constant at 20 percent while that of Adivasis increased from 3.5 percent in 2005 to 6.9 percent in 2018.

These figures are in sync with the percentage of Muslims in regular salaried jobs, which increased from 10 percent in 2012 to 16 percent in 2018. They are also in sync with the increased representation of Muslims in teaching positions, an influential occupational group in Bengal politics. As per the All-India Survey of Higher Education, Muslims accounted for 3.12 percent of college teachers in 2012-13 and 7.8 percent in 2018-19. Muslim teachers constituted just 4 percent in all universities of West Bengal in 2012-13, but this proportion almost doubled to 7 percent.
Sandeep Banerjee, Kolkata

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Vol. 53, No. 46, May 16 - 22, 2021