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Mainstream, VOL LIX No 14, New Delhi, March 20, 2021

Letter to the Readers, Mainstream, Mar 20, 2021

Friday 19 March 2021

Letter to the Readers, Mainstream, March 20, 2021

In September 2018, a judgement by Constitution bench of the Supreme Court ruled that all Hindu pilgrims regardless of gender can enter the Sabarimala hill shrine; and that any exception placed on women because of biological differences violates the Constitution - that the ban violates the right to equality under Article 14, and freedom of religion under Article 25. The ruling Left Democratic Front (LDF) in Kerala which has been vocal for women’s rights had stood its ground to implement this judgement despite opposition from conservative devotees mobilised by the BJP and the Congress Party.

Now the 2021 assembly election campaign in full swing in Kerala. The recent expression of regret by senior CPI(M) leader and State ‘Devaswom’ minister Kadakampally Surendran for hurting the sentiments of devotees over Sabarimala shrine sadly reflects the shrinking space for progressive ideas in Kerala’s society. It is good to see CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechury’s defence of the state government’s action, facilitating young women’s entry into the Sabarimala temple. The Left must stand its ground despite all attempts by UDF and the BJP to stir up the believers on the Sabarimala issue across the state.

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The Aam Adami Party Government that rules Delhi is competing hard with the right wing BJP on the political use of Nationalism. It has announced plans of introducing a multi-million dollar ‘Nation Worship’ educational initiative with a special curriculum for state funded schools. Part of the effort is a whole a programme to inculcate and instil patriotism / nationalism among young citizens. The Aam Aadmi Party government plans to install 500 national flags across Delhi as part of a “deshbhakti (patriotism) budget” besides it has also promised to pay for a pilgrimage Ayodhya’s upcoming Ram Temple; clearly seeking shared visibility on BJP’s Hindu nationalist terrain and majoritarian political space.

Readers will remember that, when on August 5, 2019, when the Government of India had revoked the special status of Jammu and Kashmir, doing away with its statehood and turning it into a union territory, the Aam Adami party Government in Delhi had welcomed this unconstitutional move. Now we hear that the ruling BJP is planning to do a Kashmir on Delhi —water down the statehood of Delhi and convert it into a Union Territory like entity, and dilute most powers AAP government in the Capital. While the AAP government will naturally campaign hard to keep the complicated half-baked statehood for Delhi – we hope it rethinks its flawed stance on Kashmir and demands restoration of statehood there too.

Tributes:

Ansuya Dutt the celebrated Bombay lawyer who from the early 1960s took up matters of matrimonial law and divorce and helped thousands of women obtain their due rights, passed away on March 9, 2021.

Fatima Aziz was the first women elected to be the National Assembly of Afghanistan in 2005 after the fall of the Taliban. She was a practicing medical doctor for 12 years before becoming a lawmaker. She passed away on March 12, 2021.

Nina Krachkovskaya, the prominent Russian actress who acted in the Beregis Avtomobilya, (Watch out for the Automobile) is a Soviet 1966 crime comedy film directed by Eldar Ryazanov passed away on March 12, 2021

Louis Benassi, the London based artist and experimental film-maker passed away on March 16, 2021. His work drew on radical movements such as Dadaism, Fluxus, Lettrism, Situationism.

We pay our tributes to the above figures

March 20, 2021 – The Editors

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