More than 50 academics from DU, JNU, and other institutions have written to the Delhi University VC, requesting the removal of the punishments meted out to students who were allegedly involved in the screening of the Narendra Modi BBC documentary.

On Thursday, April 6 2023, 59 academics, on behalf of the India Academic Freedom
Network, wrote to the University of Delhi, advocating for the revocation of the punishment
imposed on students for screening the BBC documentary on Prime Minister Narendra Modi
and his alleged involvement in the Gujarat riots. The letter addressed to Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Yogesh Singh, stated that the failure to obtain approval for its screening is “not a serious enough offence” to prevent students from taking examinations.

“We need not tell you that the university is supposed to be a space where students and teachers feel free to get information from any source, decide for themselves and express themselves freely. They are adults and can make decisions for themselves. We, teachers and administrators are not here to police their thoughts or censor their sources of information.” The letter stated.

The documentary, India: The Modi Question, critically explores then Chief Minister Modi’s involvement in the Muslim genocides in Gujarat in 2002. It was screened on-campus by several student groups on 27th January,2023.  The following day, Delhi Police detained 24 students from Delhi University’s Arts Faculty and a disciplinary committee barred 2 PhD students namely Lokesh Chugh and Ravinder Singh from all academic activities, including exams for one year, for allegedly
planning to exhibit the documentary.

In the memorandum issued on March 10, the DU registrar claimed that the BBC documentary is ‘banned’ and requested 6 other students to submit written apologies to the administration for screening the film without permission. The professors response, however, questioned the disciplinary actions’ justifications, arguing that they were out of proportion to the alleged violation.  “The memorandum regarding the punishment, as published in the media, states that they had violated the ban on screening of the said documentary by the government of India,” the letter stated. “We want to bring to your notice that it is known to all that the documentary was never banned and is still not banned by the government.”

The letter then specified that the documentary was “only a critical examination of the present regime in the context of the situation of Muslims.” It was signed by Satish Deshpandeand Nandini Sundar from the Department of Sociology, Ashwini Kumar from DUTA and Sucharita Sen and Avinash Kumar from Jawaharlal Nehru University, among others.

“The only condition we all must follow while exercising this right is that it should not promote hatred and violence. How could it’s screening by some students become a threat to order on the campus, is beyond our understanding.” they added. The signatories stressed the significance of creating a secure environment on campus for students to practice critical thinking. “It is not the job of the university to defend the government or disallow thoughts critical to it. We hope that our concern would be heard and the said punishment order would be withdrawn.”, the letter concluded.

Image Credits: TFI Post

Read Also: Students Detained by Delhi Police after NREGA Discussions

Manvi Goel
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This year, India’s guest for the Republic Day Parade is Jair Bolsonaro, the President of Brazil. And it shouldn’t be a cause of celebration.

Trigger Warning: Rape, Homophobia.

From the likes of Mandela, who have changed history for generations to come, to the likes of Bolsonaro, who has somehow single-handedly managed to ruin the world’s largest forests, it hasn’t been much of a glow-up for India.


Republic Day is a reminder of the concept of a Republic, a concept emphasising the Constitutional values that have guided us over the years and the equality of all citizens. The founding of the Republic was a very significant step for this newly independent nation of India, and needless to say, it is a proud day for us.


Bolsonaro is another fish swimming in the current populist wave. Erdogan in Turkey, Trump in the United States, and the recently elected Boris Johnson in the United Kingdom are some other popular examples showing this rise is extremist leaders; all of them are leaders who have no problem expressing themselves in vile ways, as long as it appeals to the masses. Unsurprisingly, they also have limited patience for dissent and are extremely right-wing. Does this ring a bell?


A man notorious for his policies, Bolsonaro’s stances on environment, LGBTQ+ rights, women, and democracy are deeply problematic. He’s a far-right politician known to be openly racist, misogynistic, homophobic, and militaristic. A quick search of his name would easily lead you to hundreds of articles describing his controversial statements and inflammatory takes on everything you could care about.


The Amazon fires of 2019, which were a stark, unmistakable reminder of how destroyed the earth truly is, had one man to blame. He has also been caught on tape while calling himself, “a proud homophobe,” and saying he had rather have his son die in a car crash than be gay.


“I am not going to rape you, because you are very ugly,” said he to a female politician in 2014. “Elections won’t change anything in this country. It will only change on the day that we break out in civil war here and do the job that the military regime didn’t do: killing 30,000. If some innocent people die, that’s fine. In every war, innocent people die,” said the right-wing leader in an interview in 1999.


Not only is his speech provocative, but it also is his policy-making atrocious. Brazil is also home to 17 of the 50 most violent cities in the world and has the world’s highest homicide rate. Bolsonaro pledged to tackle this security crisis: he relaxed gun ownership restrictions. He also scrapped Brazil’s Human Rights Minister, and created a position of a Minister of ‘Family Values,’ placing an ultraconservative pastor at the post. Doesn’t this ring a bell too?


“Bolsonaro is a political figure I don’t wish to see on such an occasion. He is against everything I stand for. But, honestly, I can’t say I didn’t see this coming. After this country’s policy changes and the ridiculous direction it is going, I suppose the worse is yet to come,” said Mrinalini, a third-year student.


Considered close to leaders such as Donald Trump, he’s had spats with France’s Macron, Germany’s Angela Merkel, and Norwegian leaders, over his exploitation of the Amazon. Needless to say, he isn’t a leader other respectable world leaders are tripping over their feet to befriend. This is why Modi’s growing comradeship with the Brazilian leader speaks even louder.


His statements and actions are evidence why he shouldn’t be suitable for an occasion as esteemed as this. However, it isn’t surprising that the Modi Government thinks otherwise. Modi, after all, is a part of the same extremist club too. And, well, birds of a feather flock together.


Image Credits:Bloomberg


Satviki Sanjay

[email protected]


“I am Indian. Then why is the government sending me into Exile?’, ‘Can the world’s largest democracy endure another five years of Modi Government’? A writer puts forth two questions for the world, but perhaps one is the answer to another question itself. 

“A citizen’s right to liberty is sacrosanct and non-negotiable. It is a fundamental right granted under the Constitution and can’t be infringed upon by the state,” as declared by the Supreme Court of India in the Prashant Kanojia case, who was allegedly detained by the UP Police for making remarks against the State’s Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath. 

The aforementioned lines were stated by Justice(s) Indira Banerjee and Ajay Rastogi bench and certainly provides a sacred safeguard to the citizens and their rights, as guaranteed by the Constitution of India against the state that may attempt to vandalise the freedom of expression and establish a ‘fascist’ regime in the country. But perhaps the Government has paved a way for itself to pursue its objectives of a rashtra, suited to their ideas and philosophies by revoking the very status of this ‘citizenship’ itself and abstaining the people of being one in the first place. The National Citizenship (Amendment) Bill is anyway extremely kind towards a specific section of the society, the disavowal of riter Aatish Ali Taseer’s Indian Nationality is more than an extension of the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill. 

Raised in the national capital by his Sikh mother and acclaimed journalist Tavleen Singh, Taseer rose to prominence with his debut Novel, “Stranger to History: A Son’s Journey Through Islamic Lands” which can be seen as an introspective review of his status as a Muslim. He may even be recalled as the person who hosted Sir Salman Rushdie, when he returned to India after a long exile, but he will mostly be remembered as the author of TIME magazine’s May 2019 cover story that referred to Prime Minister Modi as ‘India’s Divider in Chief’, ahead of the 2019 General Elections. 

Following the release of the story, the entire social media was set ablaze, with responses from both the sides taking stark turns. The Modi Supporters started raising the issue of Taseer’s parenthood, especially with regard to his father who was a Pakistani politician; given our contempt for the country and Aatish’s identity, the claims were preferred by many and was furthered by ensuring that Taseer bewails his acts. But rather Taseer was empowered more than ever challenging the fanatic frenzy. 

According to Taseer, he received a letter from the Home Ministry, Government of India, stating that they are reviewing his Overseas Citizenship of India status in September this year. To this, he duly responded by resisting against the claims made by the Government of India within 24 hours. But it was only on November 7, when the government actually abolished Taseer’s citizenship leaving him in certain ‘exile’. 

What is interesting here is that all these years Taseer has lived in this country without ever being questioned about his citizenship. Although the recent developments in the country have reviewed the idea of nationalism, something of this kind is really concerning and hints towards a state that perhaps cannot accommodate dissent in anyway. 

While the government says that its revoking of Taseer’s status is solely because he did hide the fact that his father was a Pakistani, the father who is being referred here is assassinated Pakistan Governor Salman Taseer, who was nowhere in Aatish’s early life, and is a relation which further receded away because of their distinct nationalities. 

While the government seemed adamant in their stance, Taseer has now been joined by more than 260 writers, journalists and artists, including Margaret Atwood, Orhan Pamuk, Salman Rushdie, Chimamanda Adichie, Perumal Murugan and Amitav Ghosh, who have written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi for reviewing its decision to repeal writer Aatish Taseer’s Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI) and allow an uninterrupted travel for him in India. This has brought the Government in a screened position, and the revocation will now have larger implications in the academic domain with the status of people of such political sagacity under question. The story has now garnered worldwide support and coverage and hence the Government needs to be extremely meticulous in its decision for the best of Taseer. 

Feature Image Credits: Aatish Taseer via Instagram

Faizan Salik

[email protected]


The lanes near Jantar Mantar and Parliament Street flooded with protestors as the Centre issued the news of the abrogation of Article 35A, and Article 370 which granted a special status to Jammu and Kashmir.

This morning, Home Minister Amit Shah announced in the Rajya Sabha, that Article 35A, and Article 370 which grants the state of Jammu & Kashmir special status are to be abrogated.
As the hours went on, the bill was passed.

The move leaves Jammu and Kashmir as a union territory with its own legislature. Ladakh would also be a union territory, but without its own assembly.

Since 4th August, Kashmir has been under lockdown with a complete shutdown of internet, broadband, and cellular services. Many Kashmiris across the world have said their indefinite goodbyes to their loved ones, unaware of when the ban would be lifted. Fear, anxiety, and paranoia have gripped the valley as news of deployment of thousands of paramilitary forces spreads out. Tourists and pilgrims have been asked to leave the state immediately, in the face of intelligence reports alleging a terror threat.

On 5th August, as the news of abrogation spread like wildfire throughout the University, student organisations took it upon themselves to celebrate, and resist.

As the ABVP celebrated the move near Arts Faculty with sweets and dhol, Left-leaning parties like the Communist Party of India (Marxist), Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist), All India Students’ Federation (AISF) and All India Students’ Association (AISA) gathered around Jantar Mantar to protest against the move. The impromptu protest which was organised within two hours saw hundreds of gatherers with placards, demanding that the Articles be reinstated.
A Kashmiri student who requested to stay anonymous said, “I’m speechless, I don’t know what else to say.”

The protest also saw prominent leaders of the CPI (M), like Sitaram Yechury and Brinda Karat. As cries of ‘Inquilab Zindabad’ echoed through the Parliament Street, the protesters burnt an effigy in an attempt to defame the Modi government. 

“I was thinking that this might happen since it was a part of the BJP’s manifesto, but deep down, I didn’t want it to happen. It’s only about the territory now, not the people,” said Hayder, a student. 

Due to the communication blackout, students have been unable to reach out to their loved ones. Almost every Kashmiri student remembers the exact time they last reached out to their family.

Residents of Kashmir are yet to find out about the abrogation. 

Speaking to DU Beat, Dipankar Bhattacharya, the General Secretary of CPI (ML) called the move as a ‘constitutional coup’ and ‘a complete travesty of truth and justice’. “I think this is a warning to every Indian of the shape of things to come, and these things are coming conspitarioly, but are coming rather fast. This is an adventurous way of governing. This is a recipe for disaster. It’s a time-bomb ticking away for the rest of India. Just because it was a part of the BJP manifesto and that they won the popular mandate doesn’t mean that the whole of India supports this move,” added Bhattacharya.

Ehthemam, a student of Jamia Milia Islamia called the move ‘unconstitutional’ and ‘illegal’. “The army and state repression has been high in Kashmir, with the cellular and internet shutdowns, it only increases the paranoia over human rights violations in the valley. They want control of Kashmir’s resources which is why they choose to abrogate Articles 35A and Article 370. The abrogation is impractical and will only worsen the conflict.”

Kawalpreet Kaur, the president of AISA, Delhi State added “This is illegal and should be challenged in court. This protest showed us that people aren’t happy with what happened today.”

Kaur declared that the resistance would carry on in the form of another protest march on the 7th of August, from Mandi House to Parliament Street. 

“The curfew will be lifted some day, people will come to know, how long will you repress us for? What happened today was unconstitutional,” said a Kashmiri woman addressing the gathering.

Home Minister Amit Shah has assured the opposition in the Rajya Sabha: full statehood at ‘appropriate time’ after ‘normalcy’ returns.
But for a state which has been militarized for decades, what is defined as ‘normal’? Amidst internet shutdowns and pellet guns, where does the Kashmiri identity go?

Feature Image Credits: Jaishree Kumar for DU Beat

Jaishree Kumar

[email protected]


 Delhi High Court on 23rd April deferred hearing a petition by Delhi University (DU) which challenged a Central Information Commission (CIC) order, allowing inspection of DU’s exam records from 1978, the year when Prime Minister Narendra Modi had also cleared his exam, under the RTI Act.


Justice V. Kameswar Rao posted the case for hearing on 25th July, soon after which DU sought an adjournment saying that Tushar Mehta, the Solicitor General had gone to Gujrat to cast his vote and was hence not available.

RTI activists including Nikhil Dey, Anjali Bhardwaj, and Amrita Johri, along with their representative, Advocate Trideep Pais, have collectively filed an intervention application, saying that results are a public affair, hence should be available to all. They also argued that the varsity was denying the details of a particular year only – vis 1978.

In previous hearings, Delhi University had claimed that the exam records of all students are held in “fiduciary” capacity and disclosing the results could have far-reaching adverse consequences for the university.

The High Court was hearing a petition by DU, challenging a CIC order allowing activist Neeraj to inspect records of the students who had passed DU’s Bachelor of Arts (B.A) in the same year.

The university’s contention arose from the fear that inspection of all the results might be a deliberate attempt to seek  “personal information of a third party”. PM Narendra Modi is said to have passed his B.A from School of Open Learning (SOL) in the same year is at the epicentre of the probe.  His degree has been marred by controversies since Arvind Kejriwal raised objection on his qualifications in the post demonetization era.

Sequentially, a Central Information Commission order dated December 21, 2016, directed the inspection of results of all students who have passed BA exams in 1978. After DU appealed against the order, Justice Sanjeev Sachdeva stayed the order in January 2017.  Earlier in March 2017, responding to an RTI by an Indo-Asian News Service (IANS) correspondent, SOL stated that it had no data of students passing out in 1978.

Image Credits: The Hindu 


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The All India Students’ Association has released a ‘report card’ on the conditions of the University of Delhi (DU) in four years of the Modi-led government. Culled from a common survey form distributed across various colleges of DU, the report claims that the University has “rejected the Modi government” and that it has “failed”.

In a ceremony attended by President of the DU unit of the All India Student’s Association (AISA) Kawalpreet Kaur, former President of the Delhi University Teacher’s Association (DUTA) Nandita Narain, and almost two hundred AISA members, Ms. Narain unveiled the report along with Ms. Kaur. The survey form which featured questions on the state of hostels on campus, issues of transportation, gender violence, infrastructure development and academic freedom among others was reportedly distributed to 21,456 students. AISA claims in its press release that only 19% (4056) of the respondents had said that they were satisfied with the Modi government.

Ms. Narain raised several issues in her speech such as the cuts in JNU research seats in 2017-18 by the Academic Council, the loan-granting system of Higher Education Funding Agency (HEFA) and the debate on autonomy and privatisation and the recent assault on Assistant Professor Sanjay Kumar at Mahatma Gandhi Central University. “Wherever you students have any movement or any programme, the teachers will always try to extend their support to you…all for one, and one for all will be our motto. Only then can we save this country,” Ms. Narain added.

Later, members of the AISA also launched a rally across the various colleges of North Campus and entered Ramjas College, Hindu College and the Faculty of Law with heavy sloganeering such as, “Arre Dekho Kaise Jhoom Ke Aya, AISA! AISA!” (See how we come dancing now, AISA! AISA!).

Through an official press release, Kawalpreet Kaur said, “It is clear that DU students believe that this regime has been the worst and should be ousted from both the centre as well as DUSU…We appeal to all anti-ABVP forces to come together to give a strong message against the anti-student Modi government and defeat the ABVP in the DUSU elections.”

A Different Kind of Question  

Priyanka Chawri, former Vice President of DUSU talked to DU Beat about the rally taken out by AISA. In a telephonic conversation, she categorically denied that the ABVP was linked to the BJP and stressed that in many instances, the ABVP has criticised BJP’s policies. Regarding AISA’s jab at gathering “anti-ABVP forces” to “defeat the ABVP”, she said, “The DUSU elections is about the students and the students of DU vote in these elections. So there are no ABVP forces. There are only normal students who will vote for you based on what agenda you have. So I think AISA should work on its agenda and enlighten the students about what they would do if they came to power instead of leading an anti-ABVP campaign.”

“As far as the work of ABVP-led DUSU is concerned, everyone is aware of how ABVP was instrumental in getting the sanitary napkin pad nationwide campaign in process…We have already started our campaign and we are getting very positive and immense support from students,” Ms. Chawri added.

According to several sources, however, the questions in the survey contained statistics that favoured certain kinds of answers. One source at Ramjas College, on the condition of anonymity, said, “The survey put facts before each question. I didn’t have time to go through each number and verify the legitimacy of each question, but it did come to me as a surprise, given AISA’s liberal reputation…that they did not truly cater to the true essence of conducting a survey.” An instance of such questions can be: In the last four years, metro fares have been hiked by 100%, thereby forcing students to pay more than INR 100 per day on transportation. Are you satisfied with this state of transportation facility? (Yes/No). An anonymous source at Miranda House said “The survey sheet had already declared what is right and what is wrong. So, a lot of people had to tick mark only one option. I think they could have raised the issue and left it on the people to judge what was correct.” However, Navneet Khubber, a student at Miranda House, said, “I think that the survey form prompted the respondents towards a certain direction but I think that the questions were well-chosen.”

Another source said, “Even if I could clearly see the questions in their questionnaire leading to certain conclusions, I don’t think those conclusions were based on wrong principles. Since the purpose of this survey, unlike an academic survey, is not neutral, it wanting you to arrive at certain conclusions is not essentially problematic in itself. Also, AISA is doing amazing work in the case of metro passes which the ABVP is trying to pass off as their own work.”A few other sources also mentioned how they could not relate to questions regarding transportation and infrastructure since the levels of such costs differed widely across the student community of the University.

AISA’s questionnaire, therefore, seemed to have raised a lot more questions than answers and these answers need to be sought in the future.


Feature Image Credits: Adithya Khanna

Sara Sohail

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The Ministry of Human Resource Development had recently issued a direction to nearly 40,000 higher education institutions to tune into Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s speech, to be delivered on 11 September, in commemoration of the 125th anniversary of Swami Vivekananda’s famous address at the World Parliament of Religions in Chicago.

The National Students’ Union of India (NSUI), which is the student wing of the Indian National Congress, has specifically condemned these actions taken by the University Grants Commission (UGC) to promote and telecast the speech in every Delhi University college just a day before the DUSU elections are scheduled.

In a press release today, the NSUI Media In-Charge, Neeraj Mishra, said, “Forcing this in Delhi University will be a flagrant violation of the moral code on conduct since the elections for the DUSU are scheduled on September 12, day after PM’s address. ABVP, one of the organisations contesting the DUSU elections is closely linked to the ruling party, the BJP.” (sic). Midrash Mathew, Media Department, NSUI, said, “It is well known that the UGC and the government are linked since the UGC works under the government directives. By telecasting the speech of our Prime Minister in all colleges of DU, it will only help further ABVP’s agenda since the speech is on Swami Vivekananda and it will actively reflect and propagate the ideologies followed by ABVP. This will be a clear violation of the moral code of conduct set by the Lyngdoh Committee, and ABVP will greatly benefit from it. Hence, the speech should not be streamed in Delhi University as it is unfair.”

NSUI issued another press release today in which they requested the Chief Election Officer (CEO) of DUSU to extend the campaigning time and election day by four days, while restricting other candidates to campaign during this time. The presidential candidate of NSUI, Rocky Tuseed, received his ballot number yesterday evening after the High Court directed the CEO. The Officer had prohibited Tuseed from campaigning for two days while the other candidates were actively campaigning. Neeraj Mishra pointed out that since the University is closed over the weekend, and the campaigning officially has to stop at 8:30 a.m. on Monday morning, Tuseed will get no time to campaign.

The CEO rejected the request put forth by the NSUI by stating that the office was constrained by the Lyngdoh Committee guidelines which directed the University to conduct the elections within 56 days. On this matter, Midrash Mathew said, “A bigger mandate of the Lyngdoh Committee is to conduct free and fair elections. If the elections are not postponed, our presidential candidate will get no time to go to students and make them aware about his views and campaign. Because of the accusations put on us, we were left in the dark when the ballot number was taken away. However, the High Court’s decision came in our favour. Hence the CEO should take our request into account.”

Rocky Tuseed after being cleared to contest for DUSU elections. Image Credits: The Hindu


DU Beat reached out to multiple official representatives of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), but none were available for comment.


Feature Image Credits: The Indian Express

Bhavya Banerjee
[email protected]

On 11th March, the results of the state assemblies in Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Goa, Uttarakhand and Manipur were declared. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) will be forming a government in 4 out 5 states, as they celebrated a massive ride to victory in Uttar Pradesh, Goa, Manipur and Uttarakhand.

The BJP rode a Modi super-wave to a massive victory in Uttar Pradesh, winning 312 of the state’s 403 seats, whereas its allies have won 13 seats for a grand total of 325. The Samajwadi Party and Indian National Congress’ great loss was a shock to the whole nation as the Samajwadi Party, under the leadership of Akhilesh Yadav maintained a strong foothold over the masses in UP. Most people have remarked that the UP elections is an indication towards the death of electoral politics in the state, however it may also be seen as a resurgence wherein the electorate has finally moved away from casteist party politics.

In Manipur, amid the BJP claiming support of 32 MLAs in the 60-member Manipur Assembly, outgoing Deputy Chief Minister Gaikhangam on Sunday said: the Congress, being the single largest party, must be allowed first to form the government. Flanked by NPP and LJP leaders and their winning candidates, BJP general secretary Ram Madhav told a press conference in Imphal, “We have been able to come to an understanding with the NPP and the Lok Janshakti Party in our bid to form the government in Manipur.”

The Congress has its big win in Punjab, as they won 77 of 117 seats. This win is a breath of fresh air for Congress which has been coping with a drop in their credibility, as they have performed rather poorly in other state elections.

The Goa election results that were declared threw up a hung assembly in the state with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) winning 13 seats and the Congress 17 in the 40-member assembly. The BJP however pulled off a coup by enlisting the support of the Goa Forward Party (GFP), Maharastrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP) and two Independents, to reach the figure of 21 in the 40-member house. A government led by Manohar Parrikar, former Defense Minister, is now leading Goa.

Featured image Credits: NDTV

Joyee Bhattacharya

([email protected])


Demonetisation in our economy has given us the ride Prime Minister Modi wanted to provide, a time when we are running cashless, so as to drive out the black money from the country and fulfill the PM’s dream of making India a cashless society.

With a sharp increase in the number of digital options, it is quite possible to manage most of the day’s expenses without too much of hard cash. You can pay for a taxi by using a mobile wallet. Those travelling by metro, bus or train, can use smart cards to pay for the service. Lunch in the college canteen can be bought using coupons. Although the occasional shopping from fruit vendors and roadside tea stalls calls for cash in hand, it isn’t a major amount. So, the government order banning currency notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 should not really scare anyone, right? No. Cash is still king for a large number of Indians simply because it is widely accepted and very convenient.

The challenge in going cashless is that there is no other close alternative to cash. Thus, digital payments account for only 10 percent of the transactions whereas cash payment makes up the other 90 percent. But the number of banks providing card payment option has increased from barely 60 in 2011 to more than 700 today. The card base- both credit and debit card- has also crossed 750 million. In a more speculative manner, the government is trying to drive the force to move into cashless transactions but are quietly ignorant about the spending habits of the people. The penetration of acceptance infrastructure is currently at dismal 1.3 million point-of-sales terminals. As long as the acceptance infrastructure in India does not match the pace of growth of cards and other cashless modes, customers will use cash, says an economic advisor. For a vast country like India, having only 2.3 lakh ATMs and 14 lakh POS terminals is too low. For ATM transactions, while the acquiring banks would like the ‘interchange income’ to go up, the issuers are not interested. Even White Label ATM (WLA) providers have stopped expanding the ATM network under the fear that the acquiring fee would be under stress if it is revised downward. For POS transactions, it is primarily an issuer market and profitability of the acquiring business is under threat.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi admitted that he understands making the transition to cashless economy is difficult and hence he urges people to move to less cash society. However, the whole exercise of moving from cash-driven economy to cashless economy has somehow been mixed with demonetisation which was apparently done to suck out liquidity from the system to dig out black money. It is a mammoth task to achieve even one of the two. Aiming for both in one move is risky and to some extent reckless. If the move was aimed at turning India into a cashless economy, then the ideal thing to do was to make people adopt e-payments as a change of habit and not as a last ditch option in a cashless crisis situation. Though services like internet banking, online transactions, initiation of mobile wallets like Freecharge and PayTm have been promoted and encouraged nation-wide, in rural areas, farmers and poor people are still struggling to get their hands on their own money. They are selling their produce in the markets at throwaway prices because buyers don’t have cash to pay them. Mobile ATMs and Micro ATMs have been a rare sight and normal ATMs usually stay shut at least a couple of days every week now. So the change in habit seems to be forced rather than incentivised and simplified for convenience. Also, it remains limited to urban areas. Rural population is left in worse off conditions. So it has left people wondering which way is right!

Radhika Boruah
[email protected]

Image source: Google.com

On his recent visit to London, Prime Minister Narendra Modi was asked a question on the increasing levels of intolerance in India, by a BBC reporter. In response, Modi said that India is the land of Buddha and Gandhi and would never accept anything that went against its basic social values. “India is a vibrant democracy which, under the Constitution, provides protection to all citizens, their lives and thoughts,” he asserted.
Mr. Modi coudn’t have been more accurate. With propagators of peace being such a significant part of our history, non-violence ought to be ingrained in our social fabric. Ironically, the very same people who might have grown up learning about Gandhi’s principle of ahimsa, unleash wrath andviolence upon their fellow countrymen. Differences in opinions and tastes can no longer be tolerated. Those sentences we learnt as children-about India being a land of cultural diversity-will soon become redundant. India is heading towards being a land of the majority, where the culture belonging to the minorities will gradually be annihilated, in favour of a common one imposed by
the majority. How could the culture that Gandhi and Buddha knew have taken such a massive u-turn?
In such a situation, it becomes essential to scrutinize the s-word, that looms large before us in the constitution- ‘secularism.’ According to an RSS representative, Manmohan Vaidya, the concept of secularism is irrelevant in India as, India does not have a history of theocratic states. He says that BR Ambedkar was against the inclusion of the word ‘secular’ in the Indian constitution as he felt that India was a naturally secular society.
To problematize this argument, what kind of country would India be if the term ‘secular’ was not present, safe and sound, within the pages of our constitution? To answer that question simply, any political party that comes to power may, for their own selfish reasons, impose a religion upon the country. Yes, the absence of that word from the all-powerful, sacred laws of the land, can wreck that much havoc, that easily. The fact that the country has not seen theocratic rule in the 60 odd years of its existence as a nation, does not imply that political parties cannot impose the religion of the majority upon the country. Indian society is dynamic and subject to change, owing to the diversity
among its people and cultures. Any attempt at suppressing any one or more of these cultural diversities destroys the very idea of India as a ‘secular’ country, thereby putting to rest the vision of the makers of our constitution.
Abhinaya Harigovind