Call by the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) Students’ Union for an international day of protest on March 2nd, 2016

Responding to the call by the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) Students’ Union for an international day of protest on March 2nd, the Alliance for a Secular and Democratic South Asia invites you to join a vigil:

Harvard Square “T” stop, Cambridge MA
Wednesday 7 PM – March 2, 2016

Please bring candles, signs, songs, chants…and please spread the word!


In response to an event organized on 9th February against the execution of Afzal Guru, Delhi Police have arrested The JNU Students’ Union President Kanhaiya Kumar on charges of sedition and criminal conspiracy, largely based on false and doctored video evidence. Subsequently, other student leaders from JNU have been arrested and sedition charges brought against political leaders speaking in support of Mr. Kumar. Indian citizens, expatriates, academics, and activists from around the world have condemned the growing intolerance and attack on free speech by the current BJP Government. Several statements in support of the JNU students have been released, one including leading scholars such as Noam Chomsky, Orham Pamuk, and Akeel Bilgrami censuring the “shameful act of the Indian Government” in invoking an outdated sedition law from the colonial era to silence critics.


Development and Dispossession: The Indian Case

Alliance for a Secular and Democratic South Asia
“Development and Dispossession: The Indian Case”
March 12th, 2PM, MIT 2-105
Prof. Amit Bhaduri

Amit Bhaduri is an economist and a consistent critic of mainstream neoclassical economic theory. He exposes its logically flawed foundations – including ‘corporate-led growth strategies’ and ‘developmental terrorism’, ideas that have emerged in India and other developing countries in the wake of globalization.

Muzaffarnagar Baaqi Hai

Alliance for a Secular and Democratic South Asia

March 13th, 2PM, MIT 2-105
Film: Muzaffarnagar Baaqi Hai, by Nakul Singh Sawhney
followed by Q & A with the director

In his film “Muzaffarnagar Baaqi Hai”, documentarian Nakul Singh Sawhney examines the 2013 communal riots in Shamli and Muzaffarnagar districts of western Uttar Pradesh, India, in which antagonism between local Hindu Jats and Muslims were fomented by BJP to gain a political foothold in the area before the 2014 Parliamentary elections. The director of the film himself will be present for Q and A after the show.

Post War Sri Lanka – A Journalist’s Impression

Alliance for a Secular and Democratic South Asia

Post War Sri Lanka – A Journalist’s Impression

Saturday, Feb 13, 2PM
MIT Room 4-253

Sri Lanka witnessed a historic election in January 2015. Mahinda Rajapaksa was defeated in this election after being in power for nearly a decade. What were the circumstances that led to this change and what is its significance in the region?

Meera Srinivasan, reporting for The Hindu from Sri Lanka at that time, will address the issues involved including post-war development in Sri Lanka, the government’s economic vision for the war-torn north, and the overall climate for ethnic and religious minorities.

In her reporting career of nearly 10 years, Meera Srinivasan has covered public education, urban affairs and development in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu, and reconstruction and human rights in post-war Sri Lanka.

Beyond Tazreen – Dec 5, 2015

The Alliance for a Secular and Democratic South Asia

invites you to a Commemorative Meeting

Beyond Tazreen

Saturday 3 pm – December 5, 2015

Presentations by

Saydia Gulrukh, Nafisa Tanjeem, Paul Malachi and Tarif Rahman

followed by an open discussion

MIT Room 56-167

On November 24, 2012, a fire broke out in a garments factory “Tazreen” in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Over 120 workers were burnt alive and more than twice as many injured.

Tazreen is neither the first nor the last tragedy to fall upon garment workers in South Asia. Punishing “fast-fashion” deadlines of multinational buyers, below poverty wages, gender violence, and subverted unionization attempts sum the life of over four million garment workers in Bangladesh. The rivalry between political parties are put aside in common accord of the state and factory owners against workers.

Is a better world possible? What role does a garments industry have in the path to development and the alleviation of poverty? How does the neglect of rural needs factor in mass unemployment and rock-bottom urban worker wages? Are countries such as Bangladesh locked in low wage employment and transfer of profits overseas? How can solidarity help workers in their day to day struggle?

Please join us for a meeting “Beyond Tazreen”. Briefs by local and Bangladesh based labor activists will be followed by audience participation.

The World Before Her – Oct 24, 2015

Alliance for a Secular and Democratic South Asia

The World Before Her

A film
Nisha Pahuja

Saturday October 24, 2015 4pm

Encuentro Cinco

9A Hamilton Place, near Park St “T” Station

In Mumbai, a group of young women undergoes an intense month-long Bootcamp for the Miss India Pageant, winning which will mean lucrative stardom and, for some, freedom from domineering patriarchy. At the other end of the country, an annual camp for young girls is being run by the Durga Vahini, the women’s wing of the militant Hindutva fundamentalist movement. Through lectures and physical training, the girls learn what it means to be a good Hindu woman and how to fight Islam and other “foreign” influences. Moving between the transformative actions at both camps and the characters’ private journeys, The World Before Her weaves a lively, provocative portrait of the world’s largest democracy at a critical transitional moment when young women attempting to assert their individuality find themselves caught in the countercurrents of tradition and modernity.

Caste and Gender in Dalit Feminist Writing

Alliance for a Secular and Democratic South Asia presents

Caste and Gender in Dalit Feminist Writing
A conversation with Prof. Vimal Thorat

Thu. May 21 | 7 pm
MIT Building 3, Room 133
77 Mass Ave Cambridge

The last few decades have been witness to an eruption of Dalit women writing to tell their stories from their unique standpoint in the intersection of caste, gender, and class. Prof. Vimal Thorat is a Professor of Hindi at Indira Gandhi National Open University and specializes in modern Indian Literature, Dalit, and women’s literature. She is an activist, human rights defender, and Convener of the National Campaign for Dalit Human Rights. Prof. Thorat will present her analysis of the elements of resistance, power, and truth in Dalit women’s writing.

Condemnation of the murder of Avijit Roy on Feb 26, 2015

The Alliance for a Secular and Democratic South Asia unequivocally condemns the murder of Avijit Roy on February 26, 2015, on the streets of Dhaka, Bangladesh.

Dr. Avijit Roy was a naturalized American citizen of Bangladeshi origin. An engineer by profession, he wrote on themes related to science, philosophy, religion, and society. More than a decade ago he founded a popular internet forum Mukto-Mona (Open Mind) that has been a strong voice against religious intolerance.

His last two books (written in Bangla) are on cosmology (titled “Universe out of Nothing”) and on the friendship between Rabindranath Tagore and the Argentinian writer Victoria Ocampo. “The Philosophy of Atheists” and “The Virus of Faith”, also written in Bangla, focused on science, religion, and rationalism. For the thoughts that were espoused in these books and in Mukto-Mona, Avijit Roy received several death threats last year, including the warning that he would be killed upon his return to Bangladesh.

In accordance with the threat, Avijit Roy was killed ten days after his arrival in February 2015, on a public street with knives and machetes in full view of onlookers. His wife Rafida Ahmed Banna was also attacked. Currently, she is in critical condition in a Dhaka hospital.

The murder of Abhijit follows the same pattern as in the earlier killings of blogger Rajib Haider (February 2013), Prof. Shafiul Islam of Rajshahi University (November 2014), Prof. Yunus (also of Rajshahi University) (December 2004), and the attack on Prof. Humayun Azad of Dhaka University (February 2004).

The Alliance for a Secular and Democratic South Asia is alarmed by the killing of free-thinking intellectuals, clearly aimed at stifling secular and creative thinking, and call upon all to condemn these crimes. We implore citizens of Bangladesh, organizations, and political parties, in power or in opposition, to work together and fight against extreme religious orthodoxy that has resulted in the heinous killing of Dr. Avijit Roy.