Skip to main content

Gender rights NGOs' 'If we do not Rise' action on Gauri Lankesh day of tribute

Counterview Desk

More than 400 gender rights groups and human rights organisations across the country have announced Hum agar uthhe nahin toh… (If we do not rise…) campaign on September 5, 2020, marking the third anniversary of the assassination of journalist-activist Gauri Lankesh. “The campaign is aimed at uniting voices against targeted attacks on the constitutional rights of the people of India”, a joint statement issued by them said.
The statement regrets, while undermining democratic institutions, including the judiciary, the Government of India is turning the Covid- 19 crisis into an “opportunity” to further “dilute and destroy laws protecting hard won workers’ rights”, is “busy” privatising public sector units that belong to India’s people, and is seeking to “destroy” the Environmental Impact Assessment processes thereby facilitating “plunder” of natural resources.

Text:

India’s democracy and Constitution are facing an unprecedented crisis. The last few years have seen a collapse of democratic institutions in the country. The independence of the judiciary and other institutions of oversight has come under a serious cloud and the functioning of the Parliament has been gravely compromised. 
The government has institutionalised corruption and lack of transparency in election funding with the system of Electoral Bonds, which allows corporations to surreptitiously divert black money to the coffers of the ruling party. The dilution of the Right to Information Act has hit at the fundamental democratic right of citizens to question the government and hold it accountable.
The growth of fascist and neo-liberal forces in the country, and the resulting rise in violence in society, has deeply impacted the lives of women and members of the LGBTQIA communities. Attacks on religious minorities have created an atmosphere of fear and insecurity. The country has witnessed a systematic attempt to spread communal hatred and divide people on religious lines. 
The Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) pushed through Parliament by the government, together with the National Register of Citizens (NRC) and National Population Register (NPR), destroys the secular fabric of India’s Constitution by making religion a basis for giving Indian citizenship. People all over India rose up in a peaceful and unique, women led movement to protect the Constitution. Unfortunately, targeted communal violence was unleashed in response to the movement. Instead of arresting leaders who made hate speeches inciting violence, the women and people who worked for unity, peace and the Constitution are being arrested and incarcerated.
In August 2019, the Government assaulted India’s Constitution and federalism by abrogating Article 370 and destroying the statehood of Jammu & Kashmir. The internet has not been restored even one year on; there is a complete clampdown on speech and democracy, and Kashmiri political prisoners are incarcerated in jails all over India without trial, and even former Chief Ministers are being held in house arrest. More recently, the Government has amended the region’s domicile law.
The last few years, have witnessed a frontal attack on the freedom of expression guaranteed by the Constitution – the right to dress, speak, write, eat and choose one’s religion– which has impacted women and the LGBTQIA communities disproportionately. Voices of dissent have been systematically silenced and labelled anti-national. 
Activists, journalists and academics engaged in various movements are languishing in jails, without access to the legal provision of bail; and women like Gauri Lankesh have had to pay with her life for exercising the fundamental right to speech and expression. The Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (2019) has been amended and used to implicate dissenters and arrest them.
There has been a steady deterioration in the rule of law with alarming cases of police excesses, including custodial deaths.
Regressive laws like the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act have adversely impacted the rights of Transgender persons. There are very few provisions in place to protect the safety and rights of the entire LGBTQIA community. There have also been several moves to dilute SC/ST/OBC reservations and the SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act.
Neo-liberal economic policies and growing crony capitalism have adversely impacted women in general, but especially those who belong to the Dalit, Adivasi and other marginalised communities. Their fragile economic base has been devastated.
Covid-19 crisis has been turned into an opportunity by the current regime to dilute and destroy laws protecting hard won workers’ rights
The Covid-19 crisis has further exposed the apathetic and anti-poor nature of the current regime. The unplanned and harsh lockdown imposed to combat the pandemic resulted in economic devastation. It meant instant cessation of all income earning opportunities for millions leading to unemployment, hunger and destitution among the working poor, especially migrant workers. Heart-rending reports and images of migrants walking for hundreds of kilometers, often carrying children came to characterize the lockdown. 
India’s economy was already struggling to recover from the demonetisation disaster and the country was facing the worst unemployment crisis in 45 years. The lockdown has pushed the crisis to catastrophic proportions. The pandemic has also exposed the dismal state of the country’s public health system. Gender based violence and caste-based atrocities against Dalits have risen sharply during the lockdown.
The Covid-19 crisis has been turned into an opportunity by the current regime to dilute and destroy laws protecting hard won workers’ rights. At a time when the pandemic prevents people from protesting in large numbers, the Government is busy privatising public sector units that belong to India’s people, and seeking to destroy the Environmental Impact Assessment processes thereby facilitating plunder of our rivers, forests and land and at the same time proposing adverse changes to agrarian policies.
The New Education Policy is riddled with several problems - it seeks to ensure greater centralisation, communalisation and commercialisation of the education system. There have been moves to dilute laws to protect women in the name of mitigating Covid-19 revealing the anti-women attitude of the regime.
Women and LGBTQIA persons have been at the forefront of the movement to save India’s Constitution. The Hum agar uthhe nahin toh… “if we do not rise” campaign is an initiative to safeguard constitutional values and principles.
As part of the campaign, thousands of individuals and groups will come together across the country to raise their voices on the issues mentioned both on-line and on the ground. They will:
  • Make videos of 2-5 minutes which will be shared on various social media platforms
  • Do Facebook lives 
  • Create posters, animation, memes, songs and performances and circulate on the social media 
  • While observing physical distancing norms, gather in small groups with placards and slogans 
  • Give memoranda on different issues to local authorities 
As part of the campaign we will also be releasing factsheets on various themes including violence against women, transgender people, health, political participation of women, migrant workers, women farmers and sex workers.
We appeal to all artists, intellectuals, academicians and concerned citizens to join the campaign on September 5.
We stand together to defend our Constitution and our democracy.

Comments

TRENDING

India's GDP down by 50%, not 23%, job loss 200 million not 122 million: Top economist

By Our Representative  One of India’s topmost economists has estimated that India’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) decline was around 50%, and not 23%, as claimed by the Government of India’s top data body, National Statistical Organization (NSO). Prof Arun Kumar, who is Malcolm S Adiseshiah chair professor, Institute of Social Sciences, New Delhi, said this was delivering a web policy speech, organised by the Impact and Policy Research Institute (IMPRI), New Delhi.

Youngest of 16 activists jailed for sedition, Mahesh Raut 'fought' mining on tribal land

By Surabhi Agarwal, Sandeep Pandey* A compassionate human being, always popular among his friends and colleagues because of his friendly nature and human sensitivity, 33-year-old Mahesh Raut, champion of the democratic rights of the marginalised Adivasi people of Gadchiroli, Maharashtra, has been in prison for over two years now.

India performs 'poorly' in Quality of Life Index, ranks 62nd out of 64 countries

Counterview Desk “Expat Insider”, which claims to be one of the world’s most extensive surveys about living and working abroad, in a survey of 20,259 participants from around the globe, has found that of the 64 destinations around the globe, has found that while Taiwan is the best destination for persons living outside their native country, closely by Vietnam and Portugal, India ranks 59th.

#StandWithStan: It's about Constitution, democracy and freedom of expression

By Fr Cedric Prakash SJ*  It is more than three weeks now: On the night of October 8, 2020, the 83-year-old Jesuit Fr Stan Swamy was taken into custody by the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) from his residence in Ranchi to an undisclosed destination. According to his colleagues, the NIA did not serve a warrant on Fr. Stan and that their behaviour was absolutely arrogant and rude.

Human development index: India performs worse than G-20 developing countries

By Rajiv Shah A new book, “Sustainable Development in India: A Comparison with the G-20”, authored by Dr Keshab Chandra Mandal, has regretted that though India’s GDP has doubled over the last one decade, its human development indicators are worse than not just developed countries of the Group of 20 countries but also developing countries who its members.

Stan Swamy vs Arnab Goswami: Are activists fighting a losing battle? Whither justice?

By Fr Sunil Macwan SJ* It is time one raised pertinent questions over the courts denying bail to Fr Stan Swamy, who was arrested under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), and granting it to Arnab Goswami, editor-in-chief of the Republic TV, arrested under the charge of abetting suicide of Avay Naik, who ended his life in 2018. It is travesty of justice that a human rights activist is not only denied bail but is also made to wait for weeks to hear a response to his legitimate request for a straw to drink water, while Arnab Goswami walks free.

Namaz in Mathura temple: Haridwar, Ayodhya monks seek Faisal Khan's release

By Our Representative As many as 23 members of the Hindu Voices for Peace (HVP), including the founder president of the well-known Haridwar-based Matri Sadan Ashram, Swami Shivananda Saraswati, and a one of its top monks, Brahmachari Aatmabodhanand, have expressed their “dismay” over the arrest of Khudai Khidmatdar chief Faisal Khan and three others on charges of “promoting enmity between religions” and “defiling a place of worship” after they offered namaz in Mathura’s Nand Baba temple premises on October 29.

Government of India 'refuses' to admit: 52% of bird species show declining trend

Finn's Weaver  By Our Representative The Government of India has been pushing out “misleading” data on the country’s drastic wildlife decline, says a well-researched report, pointing towards how top ministers are hiding data on biodiversity losses, even as obfuscating its own data. It quotes “State of India’s Birds Report 2020” to note that of the 261 out of 867 bird species for which long-term trends could be determined, 52% have declined since the year 2000, with 22% declining strongly.

Buddhist shrines massively destroyed by Brahmanical rulers in "pre-Islamic" era: Historian DN Jha's survey

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

India among heavily impacted by Covid-19, China 'notoriously' evading transparency

By NS Venkataraman* With the year 2020 inevitably ending in the next few weeks, the thought amongst the people all over the world is whether the coming year 2021 will be free of Covid-19 (often dubbed as Wuhan virus, as it known to have spread from Wuhan in China).In the early 2020, many people thought that Covid-19 would be a localized affair in China but later on, it proved to be a global pandemic.