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From Empire to Monsanto: Challenges of seeking the truth

Using the MNC Monsanto as a metaphor for concentration of money power and political influence, Rajni Bakshi asks: How should we tackle the enormous distortions of power that are as much a reality in our times as the British Empire was in Gandhiji’s time? Can we speak truth to power today in the dialogic and persuasive manner that Gandhiji did?

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Grey areas in the right to live - and die

The argument of possible misuse cannot be grounds to oppose the legalization of euthanasia, says Rakesh Shukla in this comment on the Aruna Shanbaug judgment. If misuse were grounds to do away with laws, the first to go would be the power of the police to arrest. After all, the National Police Commission itself admits that two-thirds of detentions in the country are unjustified

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Why temperance will not work with the AFSPA

There are only two ways to proceed with the controversial Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, says Supreme Court lawyer Rakesh Shukla: retain it or scrap it. Tempering it with pleas to refrain from ‘excessive use of force’ etc will simply not work with an army trained to inflict maximum damage

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Beyond the Khushboo case

The Supreme Court judgment quashing all criminal cases of obscenity against Khushboo is a welcome blow against hypocritical morality masquerading as virtue. But it isn’t enough. We need to debate the merits of criminalising sexually explicit material as obscene, in sharp contrast to publications, films and material that promote sexism and violence, writes Rakesh Shukla

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Re-examining the Communal Violence Bill

The draft law on communal violence fails on many counts, says Sonal Makhija. In the first place, it vests the power to declare an area communally disturbed in the state government, although we have seen the complicity of the state itself in communal violence in recent times

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Crime and punishment

The recent conviction of caste panchayat leaders in Haryana who killed a young couple for marrying within their gotra is historic. But the knee-jerk reaction of calling for new laws on ‘honour killings’ will not help, says Supreme Court advocate Rakesh Shukla

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Sex, lies and videotape: The right to privacy in India

By Siddharth Narrain

In the recent cases of Swami Nithyananda and Prof S R Siras, the individual’s right to privacy has been violated in the name of “public morality”. But the Delhi High Court’s landmark judgment decriminalising homosexuality has clearly said that the right to liberty, dignity and privacy of individuals cannot be restrained by the notion of public morality

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'Love Jihad': A challenge to the Constitution?

The objection to inter-faith marriages, derisively called ‘love jihad’ by the Hindu right, goes against the very letter and spirit of the Indian Constitution, argues Arvind Narrain

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Against racism

Racial discrimination is increasing, and not only against Indian students in Australia. Dismissing racist attacks as hooliganism will not help, says Mukul Sharma. There is an urgent need to speak out frequently, strongly and at all levels of government against racism and xenophobia

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Dalits in a 'Hindu rashtra'

By Subhash Gatade

Everyone knows about Gujarat’s bias against Muslims. But consider the dalits in this ‘Hindu rashtra’: they are confined to ‘dalits only’ housing societies in Ahmedabad, school quotas for recruitment of dalit teachers are ignored, and dalits are buried in separate burial grounds if available and in wasteland if not

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Justice, not revenge

By Bikram Jeet Batra

In India, public support for capital punishment is quoted as the reason for continuing a practice that is increasingly being discredited worldwide. Yet, apart from half-baked media surveys and television SMS polls, there is no serious evidence to support this claim

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Academic untouchability?

If passed, the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Reservation in Posts and Services) Bill 2008 will bar reservations at the faculty level for SCs, STs and OBCs in 47 premier institutions, including the IITs and IIMs . Why is there no opposition to this proposal to close the doors of our premier institutions to the historically oppressed, asks Subhash Gatade

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Reclaiming the meaning of independence: The struggle against special laws

The distinctive features of the revised Karnataka Control of Organised Crime Act, like of many of the special security laws being passed in India, are directly lifted from one of the most odious laws of British India, the Rowlatt Act, says Arvind Narrain

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Police reform: We need it, but do we want it?

Despite several laws and Supreme Court directives on how the police must conduct investigations and what the rights of citizens are, human rights abuses, corruption and misconduct persist in the Indian police force, says Navaz Kotwal

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Tibet needs meaningful autonomy, not independence: Dalai Lama

By Rashme Sehgal

Spiritualism alone cannot fill stomachs, says the exiled spiritual leader of the Tibetans in this exclusive interview. He believes there are benefits to staying with China, but only if China learns to respect democracy, civil rights and religious freedom

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The grammar of protest

By C S Venkiteswaran

Kerala does not tolerate anything but calibrated and conventional protest. The media recently "exposed"a group of youngsters expressing solidarity with the Chegara land struggle as frolicking and not serious. They trivialised in the process both the cause and the process of investigative journalism

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Development without inclusiveness aggravates resentments: Asma Jehangir

By Rashme Sehgal

The difference between the communalisation of Kashmir and of Gujarat is that there is no State complicity in the former, and no remorse in the latter, says Pakistani activist Asma Jehangir, Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion for the UN, who recently toured India

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Izzat ka mamla hai: The doomed love story of Rizwanur-Priyanka

By Rajashri Dasgupta

The indictment of the police by the CBI in the Rizwanur Rehman case in Kolkata reveals the complicity of State and society in maintaining and perpetuating regressive socio-cultural prejudices in the name of family honour and religious belief

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The merits of affirmative action

By Meher Gadekar

An important pillar of affirmative action in the US has been the preferential allotment of tenders and contracts in the corporate sector to blacks. What have opinion-makers and industry in India done to build a just society for dalits? Most recently,industry turned down the government's request for reservations in the private sector

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Open letter to Gandhiji on his 60th death anniversary

By Ravindra RP

On the Mahatma's 60th death anniversary, a former member of the right-wing RSS writes about his early indoctrination against Mahatma Gandhi and his eventual realisation of Gandhi's relevance in modern-day India

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