Skip to main content

Highlighting role of caste in hurdles faced by Shivaji being construed as effort to spread hate: Teesta Setalvad

By Our Representative
Well-known human rights defender Teesta Setalvad is again in the eye of storm following a complaint lodged against an educational trust she has been running, Khoj, for "utilising" funds given by the Government of India's Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) for five years till 2014 for creating an atmosphere of hate and venom through educational material prepared during the period.
In a sharply-worded letter to MHRD minister Prakash Javdekar, Setalvad has called it nothing but yet another witch-hunt against her, insisting, the Khoj project was "sponsored by the MHRD during the period of the Central government grant and were duly reported to the Ministry annually". Setalvad and her organization Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP) are known to be in the forefront in the fight for victims of violence he 2002 Gujarat riots.
Insisting that none of her works could be "construed as hate speech", Setalvad said, a "suitable explanation" should be given to her by the MHRD to "avoid any unnecessary legal steps", adding, when a similar controversy arose in 2001 regarding historical facts on which she is being targeted, the Maharashtra State Human Rights Commission (SHRC), after studying manuals, set aside the complaint.
Insisting that Khoj's educational material was based Indian intellectual growth "embodied" in the writings of Dr BR Ambedkar and Jyotiba Phule, who "seriously contested" the prevailing interpretations of history and culture, Setalvad, in a statement in an email alert, said, the latest complaint on Khoj her by an ex-employee of CJP is part of the conspiracy by powerful people to harass her.
Filed by Rais Khan Pathan, whom the email alert calls a "disgruntled ex-employee", his complaint with the Gujarat police claims that Setalvad mixed ‘religion with politics’ using her school education initiative Khoj, adding, Khoj received a grant of Rs 1.4 crore from MHRD under the UPA regime, utilising it for spreading disharmony by circulating “exploitative literature” full of “hate” and “venom”.
Active since 1994, Khoj (Invention), said Setalvad's email, has worked on the crucial area of education policy related to democratisation of social studies and history syllabus and text-books. The Khoj project ran in municipal and zilla parishad schools, and as recognition of its approaches, in 2004 she was appointed to the Central Advisory Board of Education (CABE) Committee.
Trouble began in February 2015 when Union minister Smriti Irani made statements against Setalvad for including the subject of caste in teacher training manuals, with special reference to how Shivaji was represented. The matter referred to was from a chapter on Shivaji’s coronation used in middle school teacher for training manuals, prepared by Khoj.
"The narrative of Shivaji is supported by the work of reputed historians like Jadunath Sarkar and Govind Sakharam Sardesai. When objection to this had been first taken by the Shiv Sena in September 2001, the State Human Rights Commission (SHRC) Maharashtra had completely cleared the teacher training text books", Setalvad said.
Historian Jadunath Sarkar has been quoted as saying, “A deep study of Maratha society... reveals some facts which it is considered patriotism to ignore... The greatest obstacles to Shivaji’s success were not Mughals or Adil Shahis, Siddis or Feringis, but his own countrymen... We cannot be blind to the truth that the dominant factor in Indian life — even today, no less than in the seventeenth century — is caste..."
Another historian quoted is Govind Sakharam Sardesai, who recalls how on June 5, 1674, when the event of coronation of Shivaji took place at Raigad fort, "the orthodox Brahman opinion was not favourable to Shivaji’s claim to be recognised as a Kshatriya by blood, although he had proved this claim by action". To ensure smooth coronation, Shivaji had to negotiate with "Gaga Bhatt of Benares, a learned representative of that school of Hindu law–givers", who was "invited to Raigad to arrange the details..."

Comments

TRENDING

#MeToo moment in Hyderabad Urdu varsity? Two girl students seek action against authorities

Counterview Desk
Has the #MeToo movement reached Maulana Azad National Urdu University (MAANU)? It would seem so if a recent letter by newly-appointed chancellor Firoz Bakht Ahmed to MAANU vice-chancellor Dr Aslam Parvaiz is any indication. Seeking reinstatement of two girl victims of “sexual harassment and humiliation”, the letter specifically names head of the department of the Media Centre for Journalism, suspecting, the problem could be much deeper.
Text of the letter: It is a matter of utmost perturbation for me to receive the two representations from the girls studying in the MCJ (Media Center for Journalism) regarding their sexual and subsequently, mental and social harassment at the hands of Prof Ehtesham Ahmad Khan, the HOD, MCJ.
We do not know, how many girls have been exploited by him and preferred to be silent for saving their family’s honour; however, there are two brave girls who stood to the depraved advances and misuse by Prof Ehtesham and came up with written complai…

Gujarat BJP MLAs, youth leader "incited" attack on North Indians: Cong releases video

Counterview Desk
Senior Gujarat Congress leader Shaktisinh Gohil, currently in charge of Bihar and national spokesperson, All-India Congress Committee, has sent a legal notice to chief minister Vijay Rupani threatening criminal case and civil defamation suit for accusing him with "baseless statement" that he was responsible for attacks on north Indians in Gujarat.

"Ineligible" funding of Sardar Statue in Gujarat: CAG tells Central PSUs, it's not a heritage CSR activity

By Our Representative
The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India, in its recent report on Central Public Sector Enterprises (CPSE), has qualified public sector undertakings’ (PSUs') funding the 182-metre world’s highest Sardar Statue, currently being constructed in the Narmada river downstream of the Sardar Sarovar dam as an “ineligible” corporate social responsibility (CSR) activity.

29th "NRC-related" suicide in Assam, as Nirod Baran Das takes his life by hanging on a fan

By Our Representative
Reporting 29th case of National Register of Citizens (NRC)-driven suicide in Assam, one of India’s human rights campaign sites has said that, on October 20, tragedy struck Kharupetia town in Darrang district of Assam, when a retired school teacher and advocate Nirod Baran Das “took his life by hanging himself to a fan in his home.” The report adds, “The NRC process has so far claimed over two dozen such lives in the past four months alone.”

"Highly irregular" for PSUs to fund Sardar Statue under Corporate Social Responsibility

Counterview Desk
In a letter to I Srinivas, secretary, Ministry of Corporate Affairs, Government of India, former secretary (economic affairs), Ministry of Finance, EAS Sarma, has raised questions on the funding of the Sardar Patel statue in South Gujarat by Central Public Sector Undertaking (CPSUs) relying on the Comptroller and Auditor General report (No 18/2018).

Post-MJ Akbar resignation: #MeToo movement and fears of backlash

By Sheshu Babu*
For the last few days, #MeToo movement has picked up momentum and many women are coming out with horrific tales of severe harassment in their past lives. They are not afraid anymore to expose famous persons including those at ministerial levels. As a senior journalist Neeraja Chowdhury opined (“An exit, a beginning”, October 18, 2018, indianexpress.com), "The #MeToo revelations are like the eruption of a volcano which was imminent, given the journey working women have covered. It was not easy to make public what they had gone through,and take on powerful men.”

Bank account frozen, raid on Amnesty office: Govt of India "treating" human rights NGOs like criminal enterprises

By Abhirr VP*
Amnesty India’s bank accounts have been frozen by the Enforcement Directorate, effectively stopping its work. Amnesty India is thus the latest target of the government’s assault on civil society in the country. The accounts of Greenpeace India were frozen earlier this month.

J&K Governor's rule: BJP's "failure" to go ahead with 44-plus strategy

By Syed Mujtaba Hussian*
Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) continues to witness cataclysm of events ever since the killing of editor-in-chief of “Rising Kashmir”, Shujaat Bukhari, followed by the BJP’s deliberated parting of ways with its coalition partner, People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and imposition of Governor rule.

Murder of Tamil Nadu teenage Dalit girl: "Stoic silence" despite #MeToo movement

Counterview Desk
Brinelle D'souza, who is with the Centre for Health and Mental Health, School of Social Work, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai, has prepared a strong statement to protest the brutal murder of 13-year-old Rajalakshmi. "Other than a few media reports, this gruesome killing has not caught national attention despite a very vibrant #MeToo campaign currently underway", regrets D'souza.

NTPC's "poor" track record on workers' safety, whether permanent or on contract

Counterview Desk
A recent report, “The Dark Side of NTPC: A Critical Look at the Social and Environmental Footprints of NTPC”, traces the performance of one of the four Navaratnas which also happens to be a Fortune 500 company, the National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC), pointing out that, while it has played, for over four decades, “pivotal role” in India’s quest for development, this development was energy intensive and has caused “a plethora of negative impacts to people, environment and sustainability over the years.”