2009

Oceans Apart

‘The wind had fallen off, so there was not a fleck of white visible on the surface, and with the afternoon sun glaring down, the water was as dark and still as the cloak of shadows that covers the opening of an abyss. Like the others around her, Deeti stared in stupefaction: it was impossible to think of this as water at all – for water surely needed a boundary, a rim, a shore, to give it shape and hold it in place? This was a firmament, like the night sky, holding the vessel aloft as if it were a planet or a star.’ – Sea of Poppies At first glance completely antithetical – The White Tiger and Sea of Poppies, both shortlisted for this year’s Booker Prize, share some common features and themes. Both begin in apparently isolated closed boundaried settings of villages in the plains of Bihar and eastern UP. And in both, this is a starting point for physical and metaphorical journeys across a world shaped by capitalist globalisation. In both the transformations wrought by these processes are subjected to a bitterly critical gaze. Here however the similarity ends. One might assume that Adiga’s short (if not very sharp) tale of a Bihari driver’s experiences in 21st century Delhi, contemporary in subject and self-consciously innovative in form – has more immediacy for left and progressive readers...

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Obituary : V P Singh

Former Prime Minister Viswanath Pratap Singh passed away rather unnoticed on November 27, at a time when the attention of the entire country was focussed on the trajectory of terror in Mumbai. His end came after nearly a decade-old battle with blood cancer. Few among independent India’s bourgeois political leaders have had as chequered a career as VP Singh. Hailing from an aristocratic feudal background in Uttar Pradesh, he rose in the Congress as a leader close to the Nehru-Gandhi family. His first major assignment was as Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh in the early 1980s when he came to be known as a tough chief minister who put down banditry in the state which actually involved the killing of many backward caste youths. After the sweeping victory of the Congress following Indira Gandhi’s assassination, VP Singh was picked as Finance Minister in Rajiv Gandhi’s cabinet. It was he who initiated the process of economic liberalisation that would grow in the 1990s into the policy package of liberalisation, privatisation and globalisation. A few years later, he was made Defence Minister and he began his celebrated crusade against defence kickback scams concerning the purchase of Bofors guns from Sweden and HDW submarines. This led to his resignation from the cabinet and the beginning of his emergence as a national political leader outside the shadow of the Nehru-Gandhi family and beyond...

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Reports

CPI(ML) Sankalp March on 6 December On 6 December, on the 16th anniversary of the Babri Masjid demolition, CPI(ML) held ‘Sankalp March’ programmes all over the country to pledge to intensify the struggle against the divisive forces of terrorism, communalism and regional chauvinism. Condemning the terrorist assault on Mumbai, the CPI(ML) protests on 6 December rejected all prescriptions of dictatorship, army rule, war with Pakistan and partnership with the US as ‘solutions’ to make us secure. They demanded punishment for the perpetrators of the Babri Masjid demolition as well as the communal pogroms at Mumbai (1992), Gujarat (2002) and Kandhamal (Orissa) and Karnataka in 2008. In Delhi the Sankalp March started from Mandi House and culminated in a mass meeting at Jantar Mantar. The march was led by CPI(ML) Politburo member Swadesh Bhattacharya, AICCTU General Secretary Swapan Mukherjee, AIPWA National Secretary Kavita Krishnan, CPI(ML) Delhi State Secretary Sanjay Sharma, AISA General Secretary Ravi Rai, JNUSU President Sandeep Singh, along with many democratic individuals, workers, and students. The meeting was addressed by the above activists as well as by noted journalist Jawed Naqvi, Tanweer Fazal of the Jamia Teachers’ Solidarity Group and student activists of various universities in Delhi. At Patna, the Sankalp March from Gandhi Maidan culminating in a meeting at Patna Junction Circle, was led by CPI(ML) General Secretary Dipankar Bhattacharya, Bihar State Secretary Nand Kishore Prasad, CCM...

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Kerala: Land Reforms Undone

‘Land to the Landless’ has become the slogan for a fresh round of land struggles in the state of Kerala that claims to have implemented one of the ‘most progressive’ pieces of land reform legislation in the country. These land struggles, in itself, are the tragic commentary of the ‘most progressive’ land reform that reduced the slogan of ‘Land to the Tiller’ to ‘Land to the Tenants’ in practice. Lakhs of agricultural labourers who were mostly dalits and most backwards and also the adivasis were forced to remain out of the purview of the first phase of land reforms in the state. The demand for second phase of land reforms is being forcefully raised today. The new momentum of land struggles from Muthanga to Chengara is only an expression of the thirst for land by the landless poor who were deprived of their share in the first phase. These struggles also expose the limits and the farce of the hitherto implemented land reforms. They are also an indication that the demand for land can never be saturated unless thoroughgoing radical land reform is made a reality. Unfortunately, the so-called champions of land reforms of ’50s have turned into the foes of reforms. Moreover, they have begun to undo whatever ‘progressive’ aspects were left behind by offering thousands of acres of lands to SEZs and by refusing to takeover thousands...

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Financial Tsunami in US: Investigating the Root Causes and Broader Implications

Part III “Capitalist production seeks continually to overcome these immanent barriers, but overcomes them only by means which again place these barriers in its way and on a more formidable scale. The real barrier of capitalist production is capital itself.” Karl Marx[1] To re-enter the scene of the current financial turmoil, let us follow a very knowledgeable insider – George Soros. “…a boom must eventually lead to a bust…” he writes in a review of his latest book The New Paradigm for Financial Markets: The Credit Crisis of 2008 and What It Means, and explains why he is so worried: “…the current crisis differs from the various financial crises that preceded it. …the explosion of the US housing bubble acted as the detonator for a much larger “super-bubble” that has been developing since the 1980s. The underlying trend in the super-bubble has been the ever-increasing use of credit and leverage. Credit—whether extended to consumers or speculators or banks—has been growing at a much faster rate than the GDP ever since the end of World War II. But the rate of growth accelerated and took on the characteristics of a bubble when it was reinforced by a misconception that became dominant in 1980 when Ronald Reagan became president and Margaret Thatcher was prime minister in the United Kingdom…. “The relative safety and stability of the United States, compared to the...

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Calling Nitish’s Bluff in Bihar

(Even as the Nitish Government issued ads and held ostentatious programmes celebrating its third anniversary, CPI(ML) took a series of initiatives to call its bluff. A report.) Shaheed Mela in Bhagalpur 23 November is the martyrdom anniversary of Comrades Maheshwar Bhagat and Uday Bhagat, two party activists of Bhagalpur district who had been killed in 1990. On this occasion a 2-day Shaheed Mela was held in the Kadva Diyara area of Bhagalpur, in memory of many revolutionary activists who have been martyred in this region: including Comrade Mahendra Pandit and Viveka in 1973; Ganpat Mandal in 1981; Ganga Mandal in the land struggle of 1983 as well as Maheshwar and Uday Bhagat in 1990. The Mela began with CPI(ML) General Secretary Comrade Dipankar hoisting the party flag and unveiling the newly erected Martyrs’ Memorial. Family members of the martyrs were honoured and presented with shawls as a mark of respect. Thousands of people of the Naugachiya subdivision attended the mass meeting at the Mela. Comrade Prabhat Kumar, CCM and Central Office Secretary, who had worked closely alongside most of the martyred comrades, addressed the mass meeting. Addressing the meeting, Comrade Dipankar said Nitish had promised to usher in a great change from the regime of his predecessor Laloo Yadav. As it is, though, it is apparent that the four leaders of Bihar who rode to power on the wave...

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All-round Betrayal of People’s Aspirations

(The state of Jharkhand was formed eight years ago, in response to a long struggle, and this had raised aspirations of the people that they would, at last, be free from deprivation and exploitation of their resources. In Bihar, Nitish Kumar’s NDA Government has been celebrating its third anniversary with great pomp and boasts of ‘good governance’ and ‘development.’ In both these states, people have vigorously challenged the tall claims of ‘development’ by Governments and protested against the betrayal of their actual aspirations and rights. Below are reports of some of the major programmes in this context. – Ed/-) Jharkhand: Jan Sunwai against Loot, Repression and Deprivation The aspirations with which people waged the long struggle for the state of Jharkhand have been completely shattered in the eight years since Jharkhand was formed. The four governments and six chief ministers in this period have waged war on the rights of the poor workers and tribal people. In this context of rule of loot, repression and deprivation a Jan Sunwai (People’s Tribunal) was held on December 1, 2008 at Ranchi’s Vidhansabha grounds. The Jan Sunwai, convened by the Jharkhand Gramin Mazdoor Samiti (Jharkhand Rural Workers’ Committee – JGMS) and the dais was named after Lalit Mehta and Comrade Kameshwar Yadav, who were murdered because they were fighting against corruption in NREGA. The Jury of this Jan Sunwai comprised of Comrade...

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March to Parliament against Terrorism, Communalism, and Regional Chauvinism

On December 12, the streets of Delhi saw the largest mobilisation yet since the Mumbai terrorist attack of November 2008, with many thousands of students, workers and youth marching condemning the heinous attack in one voice, and paying tribute to the memory of its victims. The media may be full of war cries trying to whip up a communal jingoistic frenzy, especially amongst youth, against Pakistan, and promoting army rule or dictatorship as an antidote to terror. This din is trying to drown out all the saner voices speaking out against US imperialism, or demanding investigation into the Sanghi terrorist network, punishment for regional chauvinists and communal hate-mongers, and justice against fake encounters and framing of innocents by the police. The March to Parliament on 12 December was a spirited rebuttal of these attempts to silence the voices of democracy and whip up a communal, anti-democratic and jingoistic frenzy. Thousands of workers, students and youth from all over the country, under the banner of AISA (All India Students’ Association), Revolutionary Youth Association (RYA), AICCTU (All India Central Council of Trade Unions) and AIALA (All India Agricultural Labourers’ Association) marched towards Jantar Mantar from Ramlila grounds, holding up banners and placards and raising slogans proclaiming “Stop importing terror and economic crisis from the US,” “Shame on BJP for garnering votes in the name of terrorism,” “People’s Security = Democracy +...

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Lessons from the Mumbai Terror Attacks

The recent horrendous terror attacks in Mumbai have woken up our elite citizenry of Mumbai and the country to the dangers of terrorism as nothing ever has. There have been many terror attacks in this country before — each of those incidents killed almost as many or more people than the terror attacks in Mumbai. Only in the last few months, lumpen gangs terrorised and killed hundreds of persons in Orissa, Karnataka, Andhra and even in Kerala. Just last month, gangs of the local mobster of Mumbai, Raj Thackeray terrorised and beat up hundreds of poor and hapless North Indians, in Mumbai itself. Some years earlier in 1993, after the Babri Masjid demolition, more than 1000 persons were killed and tens of thousands of homes and shops were burnt by marauding gangs who raped, burnt and killed at will, while the Mumbai police watched and even connived in those massacres. In 2002, more than 2000 persons were killed, thousands of women raped, tens of thousands of homes burnt, in the most horrific manner by lumpen gangs in saffron robes, who operated with complete connivance of the Gujarat police and the Gujarat government. Hardly anyone, out of the hundreds who are easily identifiable, who were involved in those massacres have been brought to book till today. 24 years ago, this month, several thousand persons were killed and tens of thousands...

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Corporate Governance and Nuclear End Games Cannot Make Us Secure

In the aftermath of Mumbai, sections of the media have made much of ‘people’s anger against politicians and the system.’ What do we make of this claim? Sure, people are angry. Anger with those who rule us and with the system is surely a healthy emotion. Anger at those who are putting us in a position where we never know when our loved ones could be subjected to sudden and violent death; anger at those who circled around the Mumbai tragedy for votes, with the eagerness of vultures spotting a meal; anger at the shamelessness of those who vilified Hemant Karkare for his courage (in investigating Sanghi terrorists) in life, and tried to appropriate him in death; anger at Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi of the BJP who dismissed the people’s anger in loaded gendered language; anger at the Kerala Chief Minister who could not gracefully accept the feelings of a bereaved parent who wasn’t interested in meeting him, and instead indulged in unwarranted and contemptuous abuse. Armed marauders indulging in random shooting at public places and killing nearly 200 people is surely just cause for rage. Some sections of the media are telling us that the target of our anger must be Pakistan. RSS Chief Sudarshan has said in an interview that if it comes to a nuclear war to defeat the ‘demons’, so be it – a better world...

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India Must Not Succumb to the US Strategy of Proliferation of Terror

The recent siege of Mumbai for nearly three days by a small band of well trained terrorists has almost universally come to be described as India’s 9/11. In terms of sheer audacity of planning and execution, the places targeted and the scale and range of people killed and injured, the Mumbai terror siege can surely be bracketed with the original 9/11, and in terms of the duration of the skirmish it can also claim to have left the original way behind. The analogy between New York 9/11 and Mumbai 26/11 must not however be confined to these operational details, what is most important is to recognise the Mumbai attack as an extension of the same terror trajectory that struck New York seven years ago. What should we learn from this? The terror that visited the US in September 2001 was not just executed in the US but it was also born and brought up in Washington’s foreign policy laboratory. The history of development of the Taliban and Mujahideen variety of terror – the precursor of Al-Qaeda – under the aegis of Washington is too well known to merit repetition. But instead of effecting a policy change to terminate the trajectory of this terror, the Bush Administration could only think of attacking Afghanistan in the name of avenging 9/11. And soon enough it moved on to its next project –...

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CC Call for the Pledge Campaign

(18 December, 2008 – 16 January, 2009) Grasp the Situation and Grab the Opportunities! Consolidate and Expand the Gains on All Fronts!! Strengthen the Party and Unleash the Full Initiative of the Entire Organisation!!! After decades of aggressive expansion, world capitalism is passing through a period of grave crisis. Big banks and other financial institutions have begun to collapse like nine pins in the US, the headquarters of the world capitalist economy. Huge sums of money are being pumped in by the American state to somehow keep these moribund institutions going. Passionate believers and advocates of unassailable American supremacy have begun talking about the decline of the US and a global shift of power from the West to the East. For communists and anti-imperialists who had been sought to be pushed back by the marauding offensive of corporate globalisation and imperialist war, the time has come to hit back and surge ahead. Right in the US, the American people have made their presence felt through a powerful mandate in the recent Presidential elections which goes beyond the symbolism of sending for the first time a Black man to the White House. Inspired by the bold examples of Cuba, Venezuela and Bolivia, Latin America continues to defy the hegemony of US imperialism. Across the world, more and more people are getting organised to challenge the offensive of the US-led imperialist...

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14.12.2008, Iraq

Alright, Mr Bush! Today, with great pride I’m getting old shoes fixed. Those Iraqi shoes, Scorched by burning sands, Sands, which in that land have been mixed with gunpowder. Those Vietnamese shoes, Found buried in their own land, On whose graves no identification could be recorded. Those Palestinian shoes, Which lost their way within their own home, And were made captive by killers. Those Afghan shoes, Dipped in oil-wells and then set on fire, Where even clouds did not burst into rain. There are so many things we’ve to fix about you Mr Bush! Which is why, today, I am returning once more, Thinking compared to writing a poem, to fix shoes, Or to fix poetry with the civility of shoes, is more effective. Till today I wrote poems With the civility of the hammer and sickle But now I will write armed with the civility of shoes. They say that that shoe has been destroyed. How many shoes will you destroy Mr. Bush? There are so many shoes – Enough to hurl every single day At the history of the White House From George Washington to Obama, From the Patriot Act to the Nuke Deal, From the World Bank to the WTO, From Hiroshima to Abu Gharib, At the history of all the institutions you created. The entire century is stacked with blood-stained shoes. How many shoes remain...

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Thieves of Delhi

A B C D Chaida Mainu, Vadi Biddi Chaida Mainu Ctvv Chaida Mainu, Lcd Bhi Chaida Mainu Laal Murseri Chaidi Mainu, Laal Kila Bhi Chaida Mainu Haa Haa Chaida Ho Ho Chaida Oye Lucky Lucky Oye is about a real life superchor Devender alias Bunty, a compulsive thief whose niche was burglarizing independent bungalows in posh Delhi colonies. He is reported to have committed more than 500 burglaries, amounting to loot worth millions of rupees. From luxury cars to flower pots and cutlery, his range was truly eclectic. He was finally caught in 2002 after dodging different state police departments in the most creative ways possible. What director Dibakar Bannerji and his co-script writer Urmi Juvekar have done to this story of a real life character is to turn it into a much larger comment on the sleaziness of Delhi. While it is true that Delhi is often characterized as such, owing to its wheeler-dealer population of politicians and bureaucrats, the film’s originality lies in looking at this sleaziness from a non-bourgeois perspective. Far from seeing the whole package of corruption, kickbacks, and conspicuous consumerism with superior disdain, the film presents everything as a product of the nexus between the capitalist market and a more informal economy, embodied in the triple persona of Paresh Rawal. Rawal plays a sleazy adulterous father who trades in peanuts, a sleazier puff-haired showman...

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OBITUARY

Red Salute to Comrade Madhukar Katre Comrade Madhukar Katre, President of Lal Nishan Party (L), passed away on 16 of January, 2009 in a hospital in Ahmednagar, Maharashtra. Born in Pune on 05.02.1927, Com. Katre joined the freedom movement even as a young schoolboy in Kolhapur. Later, he embraced Marxism-Leninism, took active part in the freedom struggle as well as the Praja Parishad struggle against abolition of the princely state of Kolhapur. He was jailed for 17 months for his participation in the movement. Later he also took leading part in the Goa Liberation struggle and also the movement for the formation of Sanyukta Maharashtra. Later still, he led the struggle for implementation of tenancy legislation of the Maharashtra State. Later along with Comrade Sataram Patil, he founded the movement of Co-operative Sugar Factory Workers in 1982. He had also been the General Secretary of the Maharashtra Rajya Sahakari Kamgar Mahasangh, from which platform he helped organize a militant Trade Union movement of the Co-operative Sugar Factory Workers, which created a broad rural base for the Lal Nishan Party. He was also the founder of the organization for the much exploited Sugarcane Cutters of the Co-operative Sugar Industry and was the General Secretary of their State-level organization. As a leader of Lal Nishan Party, he played a leading role in the movement of the peasantry for relief and elimination...

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