Skip to main content

Top US-based academic supports "sacked" EPW editor, insists, journal's main job was investigative reporting

Thakurta
By Our Representative
One of the topmost intellectuals, Partha Chatterjee, professor of anthropology at the Middle Eastern, South Asian and African Studies in the Columbia University, has thrown his weight behind Paranjoy Guha Thakurta, who was forced to quit as editor of the well-known  journal "Economic and Political Weekly" (EPW) a fortnight ago for publishing a controversial article on the top business house Adani Group.
An important contributor to the EPW, Chatterjee says he is "saddened by the turn of events precipitated by the resignation of Thakurta as editor", with an effort now underway "to offer a variety of justifications for the actions of the Sameeksha Trust", EPW owners, which force Thakurta to resign.
Chatterjee recently attracted unprecedented criticism from pro-Modi circles for saying that in Kashmir, "India is witnessing its General Dyer moment".
In an article in a top site, he said, "There are chilling similarities between the justifications advanced for the actions of the British Indian army in Punjab in 1919 and those being offered today in defence of the acts of the Indian army in Kashmir."
In his open letter, Chatterjee says, "Instead of resolving the crisis that now afflicts EPW, this effort is only likely to lead to mutual recrimination, a hardening of positions and an outcome that will satisfy no one but embitter many".
Apparently he was referring to a leaked letter written by EPW staff to the trustees accusing Thakurta, as editor, of undermining egalitarian culture and making sexist remarks.
Chatterjee insists, "if proper practices of freedom of the press are to be sustained, it is obligatory for the publisher to give unconditional public support to the editor in all matters of editorial content", which the Sameeksha Trust "did not do". He adds, "It could have publicly stood by the articles as well as the lawyer’s response to the Adani lawyer’s letter, and then settled any differences with the editor internally".
Criticizing the trust for taking down the article, and obtained the resignation of the editor as its initial response to the Adani letter, without exploring any other editorial or legal options, Chatterjee says, "This only confirms the suspicion that it was indeed the content of the articles that the trust had become concerned about following the Adani letter."

Chatterjee
Differing with the trustees' argument that EPW is an academic journal, Chaterjee says, "This is a preposterous claim. EPW would not have acquired its enormous reputation and goodwill as a publication that is quite unique anywhere in the world had it merely been a weekly version of contributions to Indian Sociology or Indian Economic and Social History Review..."
"The reason why EPW is unique is because it has, principally under the stewardship of the late Krishna Raj, managed to develop an unprecedented mix of current affairs commentary, reporting (including serious investigative reporting) and academic articles from every field of social sciences and the humanities", Chatterjee underlines.
Pointing out that a perusal by him of articles published in the EPW from 1966 to 1991 showed that "it is not the academic articles that readers today will find of interest, since the important ones (and there were many) have already passed into textbooks and reading lists and become part of the disciplinary common sense".
Accorsing to him, "It is the news commentary and reports that are the most valuable material in the EPW as a chronological and critical record of an Indian history of the present", and those who have contributed include "were not academics but journalists – Romesh Thapar, Balraj Puri, Sumanta Banerjee, Arun Sinha, Mohan Ram, Kalyan Chaudhuri, GP Deshpande, MS Prabhakar, Ashok Mitra etc.", with academics writing in psyudonym.
"Investigative reports were the most important feature of the EPW, especially in the 1970s and 1980s. There were reports on police atrocities, encounter deaths, prison revolts, communal riots, army operations in the Northeast, the situation in Kashmir, the coal mafia, the politician-business nexus in mining, the Maoist insurgencies … I could go on and on", says.
Noting that "these reports were written by courageous journalists who wrote in the EPW the stories the mainstream press would not publish", Chatterjee regrets that "this component of the journal declined in importance since the 1990s."
Chaterjee recalls, during the Emergency Krishna Raj, operating within the censorship rules, printed full extracts of a judgment by a Bombay high court judge in defence of the freedom of the press, daring the censors to redact a court judgment".
However, he finds "today’s EPW has, I am afraid, simply washed its hands of a potentially troublesome case, leaving it to others to fight the battle."
Referring to the staff members' leaked letter, Chatterjee says, "Organisational problems in the EPW office are now being offered as additional material to bolster the trust’s case. What transpired at the fateful meeting of the trust with the editor had only to do with the Adani lawyer’s letter; everything else is irrelevant."

Comments

TRENDING

Allow international human rights observers, media to access Kashmir: US lawmakers

Counterview Desk
In a letter to US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, two members of the American Congress, Pramila Jayapal and James McGovern, raising "significant concerns" about what they call "humanitarian and human rights crisis in Jammu & Kashmir”, quoting "credible reports" from journalists and advocates on the ground" have said that "the Indian government has detained thousands of people with no recourse, imposed de facto curfews on residents' and cut off internet and telephone access in the region.”

Rescind Gates Foundation award to Modi, demand three Nobel Peace laureates

Counterview Desk
In a major boost to those opposing the award to the Gates Foundation’s proposed to be awarded to Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his Swacch Bharat Abhiyan, three Nobel Peace Prize laureates, Mairead Maguire (1976), Tawakkol Abdel-Salam Karman (2011) and Shirin Ebadi (2003), have in an open letter called upon Milinda and Bill Gates to withdraw their decision, stating Modi is allegedly involved in human rights violations.

US Kashmiri diaspora body: World leaders, UN 'not acting', India enjoys total impunity

Counterview Desk
Ahead of the United Nations General Assembly session, to begin on September 17 in New York, Dr Ghulam Nabi Fai, secretary-general of the World Kashmir Awareness Forum, a non-profit organization based in Ohio, US, claiming to focus on providing information on Kashmir, has regretted that despite "violent" behaviour of Indian authorities in Kashmir, they enjoy "total impunity" across the world.

Jharkhand riverine terminal: 485 families 'displaced', lose land, livelihood in Sahibgunj

Counterview Desk
Even as Prime Minister Narendra Modi proposes to inaugurate on Thursday India’s second riverine Multi-Modal terminal (MMT) at Sahibganj in Jharkhand, built at a cost of Rs 290 crore reportedly in a record time of about two years, several civil rights organizations* have said that the government has failed to address the high-profile terminal’s social and environmental concerns.

Now clampdown on rally, arrest of pro-freedom activists in Pak-occupied Kashmir

Counterview Desk
In a fresh evidence, international human rights organizations are not just confining their attention on the Indian state of Jammu & Kashmir (J&K), whose special status was taken away by the Government of India in early August, leading to an unprecedented clampdown on the region. They have simultaneously begun focusing on the Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK), where the situation is said to be worsening.
Thus, the International Human Rights Council ((IHRC) Hong Kong (HK), a top human rights organisation, said to be working towards to the promotion peace, equality, fundamental rights and social justice “as enunciated in the UN Human Rights Charter and other instruments of human rights”, has noted now a new wave of independence movement has struck PoK.  With offices in US, UK, Switzerland and Hong Kong, and having Kirity Roy and Lenin Raghuvanshi as IHRC office bearers from India, in a statement, it has claimed that on September 7 one of the biggest pro-Independenc…

Gujarat's incomplete canals: Narmada dam filled up, yet benefits 'won't reach' farmers

Even as the Gujarat government is making all out efforts to fill up the Sardar Sarovar dam on Narmada river up to the full reservoir level (FRL), a senior farmer rights leader has said the huge reservoir, as of today, remains a “mirage for the farmers of Gujarat”.
In a statement, Sagar Rabari of the Khedut Ekta Manch (KEM), has said that though the dam’s reservoir is being filled up, the canal network remains complete. Quoting latest government figures, he says, meanwhile, the command area of the dam has been reduced from 18,45,000 hectares (ha) to 17,92,000 ha.
“According to the website of the Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Ltd, which was last updated on Friday, while the main canal, of 458 km long, has been completed, 144 km of ranch canals out of the proposed length of 2731 km remain incomplete.
Then, as against the targeted 4,569 km distributaries, 4,347 km have been constructed, suggesting work for 222 km is still pending. And of the 15,670 km of minor canals, work for 13,889 km ha…

Karma tribal festival an occasional to campaign for tribal rights: IPMSDL

The International Indigenous Peoples Movement for Self Determination and Liberation (IPMSDL), in a solidarity statement has suggested that the current Karam festival of Central India -- which seeks to promote sisterhood, friendship, cultural unity, and closer link to nature -- should be the occasion to campaign against alleged efforts to violently drive away forest dwelling communities from their forest homes.
"Millions are threatened to lose lands and livelihood under the implementation of Forest Rights Act (FRA) of 2006", the statement States, adding, "As corporate interests continues to enter tribal territories and extract profit from its natural resources, indigenous people are pushed to further marginalization and discrimination."
Asserting that indigenous movement in India "remains steadfast in keeping their culture, deeply linked to their lands alive by carrying out their heritage and struggles", IPMSDL, even as extending "warmest greetings"…

South Gujarat wastewater carrying pipeline damaged, 'harming' farmlands

The pipeline carrying industrial wastewater to the Gulf of Khambhat from Jhagadia industrial estate in Bharuch district has been found to have damaged for the eighth time over the last one and a half months. The crack, says a local environmental organisation, has occurred at Hansot, endangering agricultural farms.

US Air Force expert smells regional security threat following Chandrayaan mission

Counterview Desk
A United States Air Force expert, writing on India’s Chandrayaan -2 mission, has expressed the apprehension that Indian moon probe’s “failure” won’t stop an Asian space race that “threatens regional security.” Affiliated with the US Air Force School of Advanced Air and Space Studies, Wendy Whitman Cobb, who is Professor of Strategy and Security Studies, believes like other space powers, India may be “seeking to improve its technology”, but advances can “also bring greater security concerns.”
Currently, admits Cobb, “These efforts have been primarily civilian and peaceful in nature.” However, India’s turn toward the military uses of space, so much so that lately it has been developing its own military satellites providing services such as remote sensing, tracking and communications “with greater frequency” has begun to “concern” the neighbours.
In her disclosure statement to an article published in the e-journal “The Conversation” Cobb, however, states that whatever…

Ceramic worker dies: 20,000 workers in Thangadh, Gujarat, 'risk' deadly silicosis

Even as the country was busy preparing for the Janmashtami festival on Saturday, Hareshbhai, a 46-year-old ceramic worker from suffering from the fatal lung disease silicosis, passed away. He worked in a ceramic unit in Thangadh in Surendranagar district of Gujarat from 2000 to 2016.
Hareshbhai was diagnosed with the disease by the GCS Medical College, Naroda Road, Ahmedabad in 2014. He was found to be suffering from progressive massive fibrosis. He is left behind by his wife Rekha sister and two sons Deepak (18) and Umesh (12),
The death of Hareshbhai, says Jagdish Patel of the health rights group Peoples Training and Research Centre (PTRC), suggests that silicosis, an occupational disease, can be prevented but not cured, and the Factory Act has sufficient provisions to prevent this.
According to Patel, the pottery industry in the industrial town of Thangadh has evolved for a long time and locals as well as migrant workers are employed here. There are about 180 units in in the to…