Archives  >  2019  >  December  >  16th

India, Burning

1. What’s the story?

As 6 Things had covered here earlier, India’s Parliament has passed the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill — and the country has erupted into violence. North Eastern states of Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram, and Tripura have been protesting the allegedly discriminatory bill this entire week. Last Saturday, West Bengal joined the fray as violent protestors set buses on fire and stalled trains. And then on Sunday night, university students found themselves under attack as their CAB-related altercation with the police turned violent — leading to tear gas, rubber pellets, bombings, and shootings in campuses in and around Delhi. Cities around the nation that saw CAB protests in the past few days include Lucknow, Bhopal, Malappuram, Kanpur, Bangalore, Araria, Aligarh, Calicut, Gulbarga, Azamgarh, Solapur, Amravati, Hyderabad, Goa, Surat, Varanasi, Mumbai, Kochi, Bhagalpur, Ahmedabad, Allahabad, Delhi, Kolkata, Indore, Patna, Gauhati, Shillong, and Aurangabad.

Tell me more.

Twenty-six injured students were brought to the Holy Family Hospital in Delhi’s Okhla after a protest march against the citizenship law held by Jamia Millia Islamia students ended in violence this evening.

Earlier in the day, after a crackdown to regain control over New Friends Colony – a posh residential area in the national capital – at least 50 students, who have been taken to a police station in Kalkaji, were detained after cops entered Jamia without permission from university officials. The police said they were doing what needed to be done to bring the situation under control.

In addition to the students, two firemen and four other cops were injured and one fire engine was damaged in the protests. The Delhi Metro has shut entry and exit gates at over 11 stations as a precautionary measure. The Delhi government also said schools in Okhla, Jamia and New Friends Colony, as well as the Madanpur Khadar area, would be closed till further notice.

Hours into the violence Delhi Police were seen rounding up students – one of whom spoke to NDTV and said she had been forcibly taken from a library inside campus – for detention.”

After Jamia, Aligarh Muslim University also found itself under attack after their protest against CAB turned violent. 

“Hundreds of AMU students protesting against the amended Citizenship Act clashed with police on Sunday at a campus gate after which the university adminstration announced closure of the institution till January 5. Internet services were suspended later in the night.

Aligarh Muslim University Registrar Abdul Hamid said the police entered the campus late Sunday night and clashes were reported from inside. “Hostels are being evacuated,” he said.”

Tension prevailed in the area as police used batons and teargas to control the situation. Police have sealed all gates to the campus.”

Police also allegedly set parts of the university buildings on fire.

So, what now?

According to certain experts, this Act shows an “eerie echo of Nazi Germany’s claims to protect ‘racial comrades’ ”.

“The Nazis used moral concern over the plight of German minorities abroad to articulate a racialised national polity, where the unifying force of a shared racial identity transcended state boundaries. In the words of a pan-German theorist: “Blood is stronger than the passport.”

On Wednesday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi lauded the Lok Sabha passing the citizenship legislation by tweeting that the “Bill will alleviate the suffering of many who faced persecution for years”. His tweet is symptomatic of the classificatory system of citizenship enshrined in the Citizenship Act being couched in an overtly moral discourse by his Bharatiya Janata Party. In his Parliamentary speeches, Home Minister Amit Shah emphasised the necessity of the law to provide rights, including the right to equality, for groups who have been subjected to atyachaar (suffering/oppression) by Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh due to their religious identity.”

Keep your eyes on this space. We’ll keep you updated of this nation’s horrifying descent into communal politics.

2. Where else should I be keeping my eyes on?

Kerala, that’s where

A small town in Kerala’s Wayanad district is on its way to complete its ambitious goal — that of becoming India’s first carbon-neutral panchayat. (Quick recap: Carbon neutral, also called carbon neutrality is a term used to describe the action of organizations, businesses and individuals taking action to remove as much carbon dioxide from the atmosphere as each put in to it.) The town of Meenangadi “plans to bring carbon emissions down to zero through a series of environment-friendly methods and techniques for sustainable development.”

3. What more?

In Kashmir, former Chief Minister Dr Farooq Abdullah’s detention has been extended indefinitely, much to the consternation of numerous political watchdogs. If everything is fine in Kashmir, then mainstream political leaders should not be under house arrest for months — alleged the Opposition. 

“National Conference Sunday expressed concern over the continued detention of mainstream political leaders in J&K, and decried the extension of Public Safety Act against former chief minister Dr Farooq Abdullah as “PSA on the entire mainstream political ideology of Jammu and Kashmir”.

Seeking release of all mainstream political leaders at a press conference in Jammu’s Sher-e-Kashmir Bhavan, NC provincial president, Devender Singh Rana, urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to “reach out to the people of Jammu and Kashmir, win over their hearts and minds and initiate a dialogue with them”.

Rana said PSA on a five-time former chief minister and Union minister was sad and unfortunate, “especially in view of his immense contribution towards nation-building and sustaining peace, amity, harmony, democracy, progress and development of Jammu and Kashmir during most testing times.”

4. Anything else?

In the meantime, while the nation was busy debating CAB, it seems like a more dangerous data bill was introduced by the Government — a piece of legislation that mostly went unnoticed by the masses. 

“While you were busy debating over the Citizenship Amendment Bill, whether it is communal or secular, another dangerous Bill was tabled in the Parliament – Data Protection Bill. Be it a Hindu or a Muslim, everyone’s data is at risk.

If this Bill becomes a law then the government can decide from time to time which investigating agencies will come under this law and which will be kept out of it. They can also change this list whenever they want. The Parliament will have no role to play in this and there will be no accountability to public.

The fundamental question is do you actually have the ownership of your own data? Does this Bill guarantee that your data will not be politically misused? Does this Bill guarantee that your data will not be used for snooping and profiling? We don’t have answers to these yet.”

5. Is that all?

Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s superboss, is all set to give you the next big customer experience. “His space company, Blue Origin, is on the verge of sending tourists just past the boundary of Earth.”

“Blue Origin this week launched a rocket to the edge of space and back, its 12th test flight. The New Shepard rocket—named for Alan Shepard, the first American to go into space—took off from a test site in the middle of the Texas desert, with a gumdrop-shaped capsule on its nose.

The vehicle climbed 66 miles (106 kilometers) into the sky, piercing an upper-atmosphere boundary that is considered the beginning of outer space. The capsule and the rocket came apart, and then began their separate descents to the ground. The rocket landed vertically, firing its engines to slow itself and touch down with a gentle bounce. The capsule coasted down beneath a trio of puffy parachutes, kicking up a ring of dust as it settled on the desert.

Next year, Bezos hopes, people will walk out of that capsule, grinning from ear to ear—the picture of satisfied customers. In the scheme of grandiose plans for space, this one is relatively small. But in 2020, it could make Blue Origin the first company to regularly ferry customers to space, an accomplishment that fits tidily into Bezos’s principle of “customer obsession,” which focuses on the consumer over the competition. And, as with Amazon, Blue Origin’s seemingly simple goal underlies a much more expansive vision.”

6. Before you leave…

Take a look at the the concept of “Instagram Face” — a single, cyborgian look created by social media, FaceTune, and plastic surgery. 

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