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Book Announcement: The Journey of the Farmers’ Rebellion

Temperatures are rising, and so is Hindutva hate. Rainfall is drying up, and so is employment. The people are losing to the corporates and ruling classes on every front, except one: the farmers’ movement of 2020–21 managed to push them back: the anti-people farm laws passed in September 2020 were repealed in November 2021. The Journey of the Farmers’ Rebellion explores, by the medium of interviews, what caused this historic retreat. And it does so through the standpoint of those who were right in the middle of the struggle and those who stood in unwavering solidarity with it.

The repeal of the three farm laws was achieved by an unprecedented unity of the coalition of 32 farmer unions in the Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM) along with others. They mobilised lakhs of farmers to surround Delhi and not give in until their demands were met. Interviews with leaders of the most important and radical farmer unions in this book show how this unity was achieved in the face of sustained state repression and distortion of the movement through powerful biased media houses. They also explore the socio-economic conditions that led to this awe-inspiring mobilisation.

Decay of Indian National Institutes: A Case Study of CCMB

Many students on Twitter have been talking about the delayed disbursement of stipends. Over the last 12 months, students have reported that they have not received their scholarship nor the funds for their PI projects.1 We spoke to several research scholars at the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB) to understand this situation better… In our discussions, we note that the students speak with the best of intentions towards their institute. They do not wish to cause any ill harm to the name of the institute, However, they are shocked to see some of the changes they have witnessed. They spoke out freely because they wanted their institutes to be the best for them, for research and, ultimately, for the country.

Is Depression just Depression?

If you, who is reading this letter can do anything for me, I have to get seven months of my fellowship, one lakh and seventy five thousand rupees. Please see to it that my family is paid that.

Even as all of us were moved by the sheer force of Vemula’s last words, this banality — where he had to make a request to collect the outstanding scholarship amount that was due to him — best explains why we are losing more and more students from marginalised communities to Indian academia.

Dispatches from a Social Work College

This piece is about some events at the Madras School of Social Work (MSSW) in Chennai. In the past, we have covered the unjust dismissal of Prof R G Sudharson from MSSW,1 essentially for speaking up on behalf of social justice. Since then, we have been in contact with some students at the college, who have told us about the horrific mismanagement they are facing.

Testimonials

The students set up an online portal to collect anonymous testimonials from students, regarding the harrassment they faced. These testimonials were posted on the instagram page @mssw600008.

Together, they tell a story of an institute that is deeply sexist and abusive to its students. Some of the facts brought out are as follows. Faculty apparently feel empowered to discriminate against women and make constant comments about their attire and behaviour. They create a toxic and non-supportive environment for their students and often abuse them. Women who live in the hostel have very limited freedoms.

Here are some of the testimonials, from their instagram page:

Privatisation is Violence: On the Predicament of Medical Students in Ukraine

The last week has seen another addition to the litany of brutal wars ravaging our brothers and sisters on this little planet we call home; Ukraine has joined Syria, Yemen, etc, to the club of countries having to fight off invasions by imperialist superpowers, each one of them invaded for the economic and geopolitical interests of a small ruling class of ultra-rich oligarchs. But one thing that’s different this time, for Indians at least, is the surprising (to many of us) revelation that there are around 20,000 Indians stuck in the country, many attending medical colleges.

We at NotA have been watching, along with all of you, all the videos of young men and women pleading for their lives. They are being bombed1 and personally attacked2 by the Russians, and they are being beaten up and denied entry at the Romanian and Polish borders. There’s also a possibility that some are being used as human shields by Ukrainian forces.3

An Invitation to Ivan Illich’s Tools for Conviviality

— Anirudh Wodeyar

I have been looking for books that help me understand our world, and help me articulate my struggles with it for a while now. This is one of those books.

Tools for Conviviality laid bare why I find difficulty managing the speed at which the world operates — we’ve opted for a world that wants to go too fast at everything: cars, growth, new technology, travel, work. And my sense of being doesn’t operate at that speed. It has taken me years to justify to myself that it’s ok to operate at my own pace. Now I can actually tell you why it’s ok.

NotA Statement on the Hijab Ban

NotA strongly condemns the Hijab ban imposed by the Karnataka state government. We express solidarity with all the students who have been protesting this act of blatant exclusion and bigotry. These students have the good sense, virtue and courage to oppose this assault on their fundamental rights. We stand by them.

The ban restricts the student’s freedom to practise religion and denies them access to education. This is against the pluralistic values enshrined in our constitution. We live in a time when Islam is under constant assault by the ruling party. Now they have resorted to using students as tools of intimidation by poisoning young minds, clothing them in saffron and pitting them against their own peers. This reprehensible behaviour is yet another example of the regime’s agenda of exclusion. 

Embedded Journalism for the Working Class: An Interview with Workers’ Unity

Workers’ Unity (WU) is a news outlet that reports on working class movements in various parts of the country, from Bangalore to Rajasthan to Punjab and Delhi. They go to demonstrations, protests, and events wherever they’re happening, and interview common people and leaders about the problems they’re facing and why they’re out in the streets. It is perhaps the most important media organisation in the country.

We conducted an interview with Sandeep Rauzi and Santosh Kumar of WU in early January, and used the opportunity to ask them about the recently formed Mazdoor Adhikar Sangharsh Abhiyan (MASA), the recently concluded farmers’ protests, the Samyukt Mazdoor Morcha and landless labourers’ issues, and their perspectives on political struggles in academia. We have added some explanations and interjections in a small font like this one throughout.

While these topics may seem remote from the usual concerns of NotA, they are not. We cannot reform the academy while ignoring the outside world. Political struggle inside and outside the academy are deeply intertwined, as they bring out beautifully in the final section of this interview.

Introduction

NotA: Could you please introduce our readers to Workers’ Unity (WU)? What does your work involve and what are your aims etc?

How A Single Spark Can Ignite A Fire

This article was originally published in The Truth, as the editorial in its January 2022 issue, about the recent protests in Bihar.

School Is Cancelled!An Invitation to Deschooling Society

— The NotA Collective

Authored by a Croatian who at various times in his life was a Roman Catholic priest, a theologian-philosopher, and a social critic, the author of Deschooling Society comes out swinging and he isn’t pulling any punches:

“Universal education through schooling is not feasible. It would be no more feasible if it were attempted by means of alternative institutions built on the style of present schools. Neither new attitudes of teachers toward their pupils nor the proliferation of educational hardware or software (in classroom or bedroom, nor finally the attempt to expand the pedagogue’s responsibility until it engulfs his pupils’ lifetimes will deliver universal education.”1

After reading the above paragraph, excerpted from the book’s introduction, you might find yourself thinking that the pugilistic offerings of its author, Ivan Illich, are a poor fit for Notes on the Academy. We have, in our earlier articles, spent a lot of time trying to think of the many ways in which schools and colleges can be made better. If the above quote is anything to go by, Illich would much rather that we shut down the academy altogether. How does one approach a book whose rejection of institutionalised schooling is so vehement?

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