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INSAF ki dagar pe

Updated on: 31 March,2024 06:55 AM IST  |  Mumbai
Paromita Vohra |

The slogan invoked identities and histories currently facing repression from entire national and global systems

INSAF ki dagar pe

Illustration/Uday Mohite

Paromita VohraThe INDIA alliance may be gasping for life in the water. But in the sparkling city of Hyderabad, the INSAF Alliance, a student’s coalition made up of the Telangana Students Forum (TSF), Fraternity Movement, National Students’ Union of India (NSUI), Muslim Students Federation (MSF) and PRISM EFLU—has just won a resounding victory at the English and Foreign Language University (EFLU). Both Left and Right-wing parties lost badly.

“It is truly mesmerising,” said Rathod Raghuvendran, the newly elected President. “Coming from a Dalit and tribal community, we face many challenges. Therefore, this victory of a tribal and Dalit student is significant.” The text of a video posted for Rana Basheer, elected General Secretary said: They called you fundamentalist. They said you are a threat to democratic and secular values, BA girl. But the campus said: Rana Basheer General Secretary! Neel Salam! Asalam! Intifada! Inqilab! 

The slogan invoked identities and histories currently facing repression from entire national and global systems. Like the anti-CAA protests of 2019-2020, the INSAF Allliance brims with a different formulation of politics that resists homogenisation by asserting an Indian-ness rooted in inclusion, justice and the right to inhabit diverse cultural and religious identities, to make a space for the personal in the political, not only the other way round.

Go check out the website of the Fraternity Movement for an exhilarating exhalation. “In India today, the promise of democracy is one that remains hollow from inside, even more so than ever before. If we have had formal elections, it is assumed to be a democratic country. If we have a judiciary, we assume there exists a rule of law. But the broader promise of justice, and more specifically the ethical, moral and substantive question of social justice is missing.”  The introduction ends with a most beautiful word: Welcome. 

How opposite this word is to the way universities—and our society—are being shaped today. Two points in the INSAF Alliance manifesto tell this tale: the promise to work towards opening all campus gates 24/7 and push for withdrawal of falsely framed police complaints and show cause notices against students. On visits to campuses, one listens in consternation to accounts of how teachers are spied upon, students are encouraged to sneak on each other, and the police called in whenever students speak up for their needs, beliefs and rights. It’s as if the campus aims to school students for a life of submission to authoritarianism.  

Media, where we hope to continue our learning about the world, also now reports politics to school us into acceptance of authoritarianism. It reports only the cynical machinations and sizeable victories, until we believe that that politics equals domination and cynicism. That conversations about ethics and justice are meaningless and impossible. The domineering interviews by white journalists of Palestinian people have been revelatory of this mindset.

So it was as exhilarating to hear Irfaan Ali president of Guyana clap back at BBC anchor Stephen Sackur basically asking if Guyana, yaniki ‘the natives’, could handle its new-found oil wealth. Ali reversed Sackur’s defining gaze. “Are you in the pockets of those who destroy the environment through the industrial revolution and are now lecturing us?”. In a world devoted to domination, we are taught to revere size as scale and absolute control. But what is bigger than a big idea, especially one which is insaf ki dagar pe?

Paromita Vohra is an award-winning Mumbai-based filmmaker, writer and curator working with fiction and non-fiction. Reach her at

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