Deconstructing ‘Humanity’
In a recent interview (TIM, The Islamic Monthly, October 20, 2015), the eminent anthropologist, Talal Asad has deconstructed the Eurocentric notions of ‘humanity’ and ‘civilisation’.

While critiquing the “achievements” of the modern world, Asad argued: I’m going back to just after World War II—people would write about the great achievements of “European civilization”…This was how the distinction was made between the most advanced part of “humanity” and the other parts that hadn’t reached its level… Now, over the last few decades, as the various global crises have been accumulating—climate change, the threat of nuclear war as well as the dangers of nuclear energy, the uncontroll-ability of the global financial system, and so on—we now hear people saying things like: “Look at what humanity has done”. Now suddenly the subject is “humanity”, whereas originally, Euro-Americans had claimed: “Look at the stunning achievements of the West”.

Talal Asad also made a powerful critique of the abstract theoretical notion of ‘humanity’ in his interview: “What acting humanely depends on is learning certain forms of behaviour, acquiring certain kinds of sensibilities, within various forms of life. I think one of the troubles with academics is that they are often—we are often—deluded into thinking that expounding a concept theoretically is always necessary for ethical behaviour. I don’t think it is… It might be worth asking whether there isn’t something schizophrenic about people who, on the one hand, proclaim their commitment to “humanity” as their distinguishing value, and on the other hand, do the most awful things to human beings in the name of humanitarianism”.

In the above context, Talal Asad argued: …Islamophobia is massively present in the “advanced part of humanity”. It is far more important at present than anti-Semitism… It makes sense to talk about Islamophobia in a general way precisely because this hostility, this animus, is directed at an imagined homogeneous alien within Europe.

Talal Asad’s deconstruction of Eurocentric notion of ‘humanity’ and the violence embedded in it enriches the understanding of “Civilization and its Discontents”, both on global and national scales.
Arup Kumar Sen,

Abandoned Schools
Coronavirus pandemic has adversely affected people’s everyday life (life style, economy, social and cultural, and human relation/interaction, so forth) from the beginning of 2020 to till date and how long it would hamper, it is unpredictable). The education sector considered as man-making sector or future making sector is very badly impacted from primary to university level. For about 20 months, it was restricted to virtual systems and till it is mostly continued for primary and high school students. This virtual education is not uniformly covered;all sections, especially poor and first-generation learners are deprived of it.

Various studies have reported that pupils from poor families/disadvantaged groups have left their education, and they have to enter into workforce. It increases child workers, missing children, underage/child marriage throughout India. But governments are not concerned with this matter as if it is normal, and governments have nothing to do. Only elections, the winning of power and the suppression of opposition voices are their major issues. Further, governments think it’s great work to protect the people from the pandemic are enough within a lockdown/pandemic restrictions, free ration and sensitisation, etc.

In this new normal phase (although Omicron is a new headache), West Bengal government has opened schools, colleges and universities with some statutory restrictions from the middle of November 2021. Thereafter, it has been reported that about 89 Junior High and High schools have been ordered to close because there is a no single student in these schools. These schools are mainly located in Howrah, Hooghly, South 24 Parganas, Kolkata, Bankura and Alipurduar district. The government has taken a decision to transfer about 311 teachers to other schools (already 113 teachers have been posted in different schools). The school buildings are left vacant and at present, it would be used by the Department of Education. Surprisingly, the Department of Education blamed the parental trend to admit their wards into English medium schools.

This department is trying to hide/suppress the real fact behind this situation. It has not studied or collected information about the students—where they go? Are they dropped out? Are they involved in workforce? Are they missing with their families? What are the girls students of these schools? How pandemic affected the children and their families? What would be the proper steps to be taken to retain them into schools?

The political party in the rule and its opposition are only debating to hold their supporters. They are not concerned about this serious matter of education for the future generation.

Is it not a conspiracy? Is the government trying to withdraw its responsibility to the right to education? Will this government use this abandoned school building for party purposes? Is it a process to recruit teachers through transfer?

This type of discrepancy would be encouraged and promote the privatisation of education. The government would leave its duty and responsibility towards education. Ultimately, poor and disadvantaged children would be deprived of education. Is it not a new process of multiplying illiterates?
Harasankar Adhikari,

Malaise of Mankind
A documentary film on awareness building and motivating a change for safeguarding Human Rights, especially to fight against trafficking of girls and women.

Since March 2021 the German Consulate General Kolkata and Kolkata Sukriti Foundation have been working on the documentary film ‘Malaise of Mankind’. Apart from the vulnerable group of people, this documentary specifically targets the decision-makers, NGOs, social leaders, school & college teachers and principals and socially conscious citizens who can influence to usher in change.

On Saturday, 11 December 2021, the film will be available to public from 1500h com/watch?v=BxVUoDk_lWk

Preview will be available on that day from 0900h com/watch?v=L7NnSof-qfY

The director of this documentary film, Abhijit Dasgupta of Kolkata Sukriti Foundation, will be reachable for your queries at

We hope for your support and encourage you to join us in spreading the awareness and motivate a change to safeguard Human Rights, especially to fight against trafficking of girls and women.

For more information, log on to: and www. GeneralKolkata

Follow us on Twitter @Germany_ Kolkata, Hastings Park Road, Alipore Kolkata-700 027
German Consulate,

Human Trafficking
Traffickers are exploiting young Bangladeshi’s hopes of escaping poverty by offering them fake work placements in Libya, trapping them in horrific conditions once they arrive.

Known in Bangladesh as “dalals”, these so-called travel agents traffic young people by convincing them to undertake the long journey to Libya promising them rewarding jobs. In reality, they end up being held for ransom in prisons or forced to work in factories for no pay in terrible conditions and indebted to the dalals.

Ali was just 19 years old when he made the long journey to Libya after he was befriended by a dalal in his home country and promised a job earning $500 a month working in factories. With his parents’ blessing, Ali embarked on the week-long journey only to be taken to a prison upon arrival in Benghazi.

There, he was kept in a cell with 15 other Bangladeshis in violent conditions. People in his cell were regularly beaten if they were unable to contact family members to pay their ransom. Ali’s parents were forced to sell their last two cows to pay for his release.

But his ordeal wasn’t over. Ali ended up working for the traffickers in a tile factory in Tripoli.

Ali told BBC News:

“If we stopped working we were beaten, kicked and thrown to the ground. One time one of us broke a tile, then a man came and kicked the guy,” Ali says.

The teenager was living with the owner of the tile factor under lock and key.

“The owner took us to work and then when we were done he took us home. There were two guards watching us. We didn’t get paid for the job, there wasn’t enough food and so we wanted to run away.

“One of us tried, but he fell from the second floor and broke his leg.”

After various failed escape attempts, a kindly Libyan helped Ali find refuge at a mosque. He felt his only option was to contact traffickers again, this time to cross the Mediterranean Sea to Italy.

Though Ali is now safe in Italy and earning money to send back to his family, his application for humanitarian protection that would allow him to remain in Italy has been denied.

Ali was lucky to make it to Italy. Many people who attempt the same journey are returned to dire conditions in Libya where they are subjected to torture and servitude.
Miriam Kirmali,
Freedom United

World Inequality Report
The World Inequality Report (WIR) is widely regarded as a highly credible and comprehensive report on the extent of inequalities in world. The latest WIR for year 2022 has been released very recently and this presents a damning indictment of the very high level of inequalities in India. As presented in WIR, the levels of wealth and income inequalities in India are among the worst that prevail in the leading countries of the world.

The share of the bottom 50% of the households in wealth is just 6% in India. At the same time the share of the top 10% in wealth is 65% in India, a very high figure indeed. What is perhaps even more shocking is that the share of the top 1 per cent in wealth is a whopping 33%.

Coming now to income inequality the share of the bottom 50% in income is just 13% in India. On the other hand the share of the top 10% in income is 57% and the share of just the top 1% is as high as 22%.

The overall income levels in India are lower than in many other countries which have high inequality. Here the impact of inequality is likely to be seen much more in terms of denial of basic needs. For this reason, although reduction of inequality is needed everywhere, it is needed much more in countries like India where its impact in terms of denial of basic needs is much higher.

WIR has also drawn attention to the shameful reality that the inequality levels in India are returning to the very high levels seen in colonial times. As is well known, British rule was based on many-sided injustice and inequality and this was reflected in the very high level of inequalities existing at that time. As the WIR has pointed out, these high inequality levels could be reduced significantly in the decades following the independence of the country. However inequalities started increasing again in the decade of the 1990s due to the new distorted economic policies of the government. These distorted policies and the accompanying inequalities kept getting aggravated with the passage of time, particularly the more recent times. It is really a very shameful reflection on the development and economic priorities followed by the ruling regimes that inequalities are now returning almost to the situation existing in colonial times. Surely it is time to check this shameful trend and take strong steps to reduce inequalities.

Lastly, the WIR has also noted that the quality of data needed to monitor inequalities has deteriorated in recent times. Earlier India used to be known to have some of the best statistical systems among developing countries. So the new strategy of the ruling classes appears to be to reduce access to the kind of information that can reveal the increasing inequalities, exploitation and injustices in India.
Bharat Dogra,
New Delhi

Farmers Win
After Prime Minister's apology and the repeal of three black farm laws, Union Government's official letter has arrived. Following which Samyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM) has decided to suspend the world’s largest ongoing farmers' protest as Union government has accepted their demand. Farmer leaders say stir will be re-launched if government backtracks. Now victory marches and prayer meetings being planned.

This is the collective win of people’s movements and civil society organisations.

Farmer leaders have apologised to everyone for inconvenience caused due to farmers' agitation. An official letter has been received from government on final confirmation of remaining demands.

Lakhimpur incident has been discussed with govt. Since the matter is under Supreme Court observation thus no action can be taken as yet.

Notably, Court had suspended the implementation of the three farm laws in January 2021.

Next round of talks with Government is scheduled on 15th January, 2022.

All the cases filed against farmers in Delhi, Union Territories and States will be taken back.

Electricity Amendment Bill be tabled only after discussions with SKM.

5 Years imprisonment and 1 crore fine for stubble burning has been quashed.

Cases against farmers, as well as farmer 'supporters' will be taken back

Fight is not over yet. Struggle for Minimum Support Price (MSP) will continue.

SKM will remain intact.
Gopal Krishna,
New Delhi

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Vol. 54, No. 26, Dec 26, 2021 - Jan 1, 2022