Invasion of Ukraine
Russian President Vladimir Putin launched a full scale of invasion of Ukraine, on February 24, 2022. He has warned that any country which dares to intervene on behalf of Ukraine would be dealt with “instruments… nobody else can boast of”. Also one leading Kremlin mouthpiece has threatened “total annihilation” of Ukraine if any country backs Ukrainian attacks on Russian territory.

Putin has justified his action by wanting to "demilitarize and de-Nazify" Ukraine and to punish it for persecution of its ethnic Russian ethnic minority. Also according to him, Ukraine does not have right to statehood. It appears that he wants to prevent it from joining NATO, while at the same time restore some of the lost glory of the USSR. However his invasion has led to significant loss of life and property on both sides as well as Europe's largest refugee crisis since World War II.

After the sinking of Russian naval ship Moskva, Putin appears to have hardened his stance. He is no longer interested in negotiating with Ukraine. Rather now he just wants to seize as much of Ukrainian territory as possible and establish full control over Ukraine's eastern Donbas region and southern regions. Ukrainian officials are afraid that he may attack other parts of Ukraine as well.

The United States and rest of the NTO members have always had mixed feelings about their relations with Ukraine, since they did not want to annoy Russia. But now U.S. President Biden’s administration has cast the military conflict with Russia as a broader battle between democratic values and authoritarian might and is committed to help Ukraine.

Some people blame U.S. foreign policy for problems in Ukraine and other parts of the world. But they disregard Russia and China’s aggression in many parts of the world, which has driven Poland, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Sweden and Finland to want to join NATO, in order to seek protection against Russian aggression.

Conspicuous however is the absence of popular protests in America and elsewhere about the current Russian aggression in Ukraine.

Regardless, we can only hope that sanity prevails everywhere, and conflicts are resolved by negotiations instead of aggression.
Pritam K Rohila, Keizer, Oregon

Remembering Chuni Kotal
In 1992, Chuni Kotal’s death by suicide created a political uproar in West Bengal. Magsaysay award winner Mahasweta Devi had made public Kotal’s life story in an article for the Economic and Political Weekly journal. Outrageous and shocking in equal measure, the casteism that plagued every corner of Kotal’s life was not very different from many others in the marginalised communities of India. More than two decades later, in 2016, 26-year-old research scholar Rohith Vemula of the Hyderabad Central University was cornered to the same fate. It was a rude awakening of how little had changed for Dalits in India.

Kotal was the first woman from the Lodha Savaras tribe to graduate (in Anthropology from Midnapore’s Vidyasagar University in 1985) and was an idol for the new generation of Dalit Adivasis and women. But despite her outstanding credentials, she struggled to find work and eventually had to settle for a job as a social worker at the Integrated Tribal Development Programme in the Jhargram office, where she was asked to survey local villages.

During the colonial period, the British had labelled Kotal’s community as criminals, continuing the societal indifference and discrimination that exist even today. It is believed that it was the everyday struggles from the stigma that drove Kotal to take her own life at the age of 27.
A Reader

Bengali Books
Prices of Bengali publications have skyrocketed over the last few months on the back of record rise in input costs—paper, ink, binding materials—and higher transportation costs, taking books out of the reach of most book lovers. The jump, in some cases almost 100%, has dealt a body blow to the Bengali publishing industry that caters largely to a price-sensitive market, say publishers.

Apprehensive that expensive new books may be unaffordable to a lot of readers; many publishers skipped the traditional Poila Baisakh launch this year and deferred publication till the next book fair.

Bengali textbooks for the current academic year are still largely unaffected because they were printed last year. “But the ones that are now going to print will be much costlier and affect students in the next academic year,” said Sandip Roy of Print Trackers, a textbook publisher.

“Bengali books are always cheaper compared to books in other languages, keeping in mind the culture of the city where a book is much more than a commodity. But with the steep escalation of input costs, it is now impossible not to raise the price of the books. We have been forced to raise prices by 50%. Some publishers have raised it by 100% but we have decided to absorb the impact of the onslaught as much as possible,” said Sudhanshu Dey, owner of Deys’ Publishers and president of the Publishers and Booksellers’ Guild.
Krishnendu Bandyopadhyay, Kolkata

Climate Crisis
While neo-liberal capitalism has very much accelerated the degradation of Nature or ecology, the degradation is something very much inherent in industrial civilisation.

An iconic novel singing full-throated glory of (actually existing) Socialism is: 'How the Steel Was Tempered'.

From a different angle—a saga of humans' (very hard earned) victory (under Socialism) over untamed wild Nature and its consequent brutalisation.

The Earth's ecology functions both as a vast reservoir of resources—many of these non-renewable, and also a gigantic sink to absorb waste products—gaseous, liquid and solid.

Neither is, however, infinite.

The advent of industrial civilisation changed the rates of extraction of resources and production of wastes from simple to compound.

At 3% compound rate, the original quantity would double in (less than) 25 years, would become 16 times in 100 and 256 times in 200 years.

So, the inevitable is happening.

Even then, "global warming" or "climate change" is just one side of the two-sided problem—linked to the "sink" side, and only partly covers that.

In order to tackle, all possible resources need be mobilised—assuming there's no "tipping point" or it's still quite some distance away.

The assumption may not be quite accurate.

Climate change is causing greater impacts than expected at lower temperatures than anticipated, disrupting natural systems and affecting the lives of billions of people around the world, according to the latest report from the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

The new report found that droughts and heat waves are killing off trees and corals; sea level rise is forcing people in vulnerable areas to leave their homes; and extreme conditions may be increasing the likelihood of violent conflict. If warming is not halted soon, and it continues, as many as half the species living on land could become extinct, malnutrition in parts of the world will likely become widespread, and extreme weather events will become increasingly common.

The poor, the very young and very old, ethnic minorities, and Indigenous peoples are at most risk. And while measures to limit the impact of climate change do exist, the only truly meaningful step is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible.

According to Kelly Levin of the Bezos Earth Fund, a foundation that funds efforts to combat climate change, the report “shows clearly how much we need to change course, because delayed action risks triggering impacts that are so catastrophic that our world slowly becomes unrecognizable.”

The report, Climate Change 2022: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability, was published on Monday after approval from 195 governments. It runs to nearly 1,000 pages. Here are its major findings. (Extracted from the National Geographic)
Sukla Sen

PCI Statement
The Press Club of India (PCI) on Tuesday, April 5 issued a statement condemning the recent attack on five journalists in Delhi’s Burari Grounds as well as the arrests of three journalists for their coverage of a paper leak case in Uttar Pradesh’s Ballia last week.

On April 3, five journalists, four of whom were Muslims, were allegedly attacked by a right-wing mob while covering a Hindu Mahapan-chayat event at Burari. They include freelance journalists Arbab Ali and Meer Faisal; photojournalist Moha-mmad Meherbaan and The Quint’s principal correspondent Meghnad Bose.
The fifth journalist wishes to remain anonymous, for fear of intimidation. Moreover, Newslaundry reporters Shivangi and Rounak Bhatt were also allegedly attacked by the mob.

The event had been organised under the banner of the ‘Save India Foundation’ run by one Preet Singh, a follower of controversial Hindu priest Yati Narsinghanand, and Pinky Chaudhary, a Hindu Raksha Dal leader. The event was reportedly attended by hundreds of people and featured calls for violence against Muslims and communal propaganda.

The reporters also alleged that the police at the Mukherjee Nagar police station refused to immediately file first information reports (FIR) on the basis of their complaints. However, on April 4, three FIRs were registered against Narsinghanand and others at the event; the first under sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) dealing with promoting enmity between groups and the other two specifically regarding the attacks on the journalists.

Narsinghanand, who also spoke at the Haridwar Dharma Sansad held in December last year, had been arrested for his hate speech and genocide calls made at that event and was released in February this year.

However, while granting him bail, the Haridwar court had told Narsinghanand not to make any speeches which could disturb social harmony; a condition which he flagrantly violated on April 3.

The PCI’s April 5 statement called the attacks on the five journalists at the Hindu Mahapanchayat “highly deplorable” and alleged “preconceived nefarious designs of communal hooligans” to force journalists to toe their line.

“Going by the series of attacks on media persons in the recent past, it could be inferred that these people are hell-bent on gagging the press in its entirety”.

The PCI also pulls up the Delhi Police for not immediately arresting the perpetrators of the violence at Burari. As such, the press body demanded the arrest of the “hooligans with communal overtones” and sought for a judicial inquiry to be initiated into the series of events which led to the journalists being assaulted.

The PCI statement then goes on to condemn the administration of Uttar Pradesh’s Ballia district for arresting three journalists who had reported on the leak of a Uttar Pradesh Board Class 12 English paper. The PCI called the arrests of the journalists a case of the “…kettle calling the pot black,” observing a trend within the Uttar Pradesh government to not only threaten, but even arrest journalists who do not toe its line.

The statement goes on to call the Uttar Pradesh police “sycophants” and “more-than-eager” to arrest journalists to “please the powers that be”.

The statement concludes by calling for the release of the three jailed journalists and for the “mafia men” involved in the paper leak to be held accountable.
The Wire

Kashi Vishwanath Temple and Gyanvapi Mosque
The Uttar Pradesh Police on Tuesday filed a first information report against a Dalit professor at the Lucknow University for allegedly making objectionable remarks about the Kashi Vishwanath temple in Varanasi.

Ravi Kant, who is an associate professor at the Hindi department of Lucknow University, was booked, based on a complaint filed by a student named Aman Dubey at the city’s Hasanganj Police Station.

In his complaint, Dubey alleged that the remarks made by the professor during an online debate for a website had hurt the sentiments of Hindu students on campus. Kant was speaking about the dispute surrounding the Kashi Vishwanath Temple and Gyanvapi Mosque complex.

Kant claimed that he had not given his personal opinion during the debate but had quoted a story from the book ‘Feathers and Stones’ written by B Pattabhi Sitaramayya.

Kant was charged under Sections 153-A (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion etc), 504 (intentional insult with the intent to prove a breach of peace), 505 (2) (statements conducive to public mischief committed in a place of worship) of the Indian Penal Code and Section 66 of the Information Technology Act.

Earlier on Tuesday, a protest was organised against Kant by the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad on the Lucknow University campus.

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Vol 54, No. 47, May 22 - 28, 2022