Former acting chief of the National Statistical Commission, P C Mohanan, who resigned in protest against the non-publication of unemployment data; and leader of the farmers’ long march Ajit Navale are among those set to take the stage at the third edition of the Mumbai Collective on March 10, a broad platform for discussions on liberal, secular policy and constitutional rights of freedom and inclusion.
Nearly 2,000 Mumbaiites attended the previous two editions of the Mumbai Collective, launched in March 2016 in response to incidents, including the decision by eminent writers and thinkers to return state awards, the attacks on educational institutions, Rohith Vemula’s suicide and the Kanhaiya Kumar incident at JNU.
“The alarming turn of events that continue in the country has inspired us to convene a third edition of the Mumbai Collective,” said Professor R Ramakumar of the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, convener of the organising committee. While Mohanan will speak on ‘Missing Jobs, Misleading Statistics’, this year’s event will also include a lecture by N Ram, chairman of The Hindu Group, on the Rafale deal.
Historian S Irfan Habib will speak on nationalism in the time of fake propaganda through what he calls the ‘WhatsApp University’.
Supreme Court lawyer Sanjay Hegde will speak on the rise of a surveillance state while Dalit writer and columnist Kanwal Bharti will speak on the RSS’ appropriation of B R Ambedkar and Jyotiba Phule’s work. Scientists T Jayaraman, Aniket Sule and Medha Rajadhyaksha will anchor a session on continuing attacks on rationality and scientific temper while All India Kisan Sabha leader Dr Ajit Navale will speak on the agrarian crisis amid the promise of acche din.
Ramakumar said, “Mob lynching and vigilante attacks on Dalits and minorities continue with horrifying frequency and seeming impunity. Science and rationality continue to be under threat, as ministers and administrators make fanciful and irresponsible claims about technological achievements in ancient India.” The Collective, he said, is a platform for like-minded people to “reiterate their commitment to the syncretic traditions of our culture and democracy”.
There will also be poetry readings, a poster exhibition and performances, including one by poet Rahat Indori titled ‘Kisi Ke Baap Ka Hindustan Thodi Hai’.
“From the last Collective in December 2017 till now, something that is particularly distressing is the systematic erosion of institutional structures that are the bedrock of our
democracy, be it the Supreme Court of India, the Election Commission of India, the Reserve Bank of India or the National Statistical Commission,” said Awanish Kumar, one of the organisers.
“At the proposed third edition of the Collective, we wish to bring together like-minded people living in Mumbai
so that they could hold hands together in solidarity to protect the basic rights and liberties enshrined in the Constitution,” he added.
The event will be held at Y B Chavan Centre, Nariman Point.