2010 (Year)

UPA Govt. and MP Govt Out to Bury the Truth and Bail out the Killers

On the night of December 2nd and the early morning of December 3rd 1984, some 40 tonnes of Methyl Isocyanate (MIC) spewed out of the Union Carbide Corporation’s pesticide plant in Bhopal, exposing over 5,00,000 people to the toxic fumes. 25,000 people died as a result, hundreds of thousands of persons were maimed for life, and entire future generations poisoned. Union Carbide left without cleaning up the toxic chemicals dumped on the ground – and the toxins have seeped into the soil, poisoning the drinking water which people have no option but to consume. Studies have shown toxins to be present even in the breast milk of mothers living around the factory. The past 25 years are a shameful saga of the Indian Government’s callous betrayal of the victims to appease the killer corporation. The Indian Government has done nothing to demand that Warren Anderson, CEO of Carbide, be extradited to India to face trial. And Dow Chemicals, which has taken over Carbide, has refused to take responsibility for cleaning up the Union Carbide factory wastes. Soon after the incident, Union Carbide denied that poisonous gases had been released. One of the Carbide doctors recommended sodium thiosulphate as treatment – but withdrew this (correct) advice, since success of this treatment would have proven that poisonous gases had entered the bloodstream, resulting in heavier damages for Carbide! The MP Govt...

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Liberhan Report: Inaction in the name of ‘ATR’ will not do – Punish the Perpetrators of the Babri Masjid Demolition

17 years after the demolition of the Babri Masjid, the Liberhan Commission’s findings are finally in the public domain and have been tabled in Parliament. The report itself holds no surprises: debunking the BJP’s claims that the demolition was a spontaneous act by kar sevaks, it establishes instead that the act was elaborately pre-planned, and indicts top Sangh and BJP leaders for conceiving and executing the plan. However, the report stops short of recommending any specific action against the perpetrators of the demolition. It also absolves the Narasimha Rao government at the Centre of failure to prevent the demolition, on the flimsy and unconvincing ground that the Centre could not act without a recommendation from the UP Governor. If history will hold the saffron leadership responsible for the fascist act of demolition of the Babri Masjid and the communal trail of blood that preceded and followed it, history will also not forgive the Congress Government at the Centre for its culpability – through criminal inaction – for the demolition. Even today, the UPA Government is playing politics with the Liberhan Report, showing scant concern for or commitment to secularism and justice. Its ‘Action Taken Report’ is shamefully lacking in any action taken or even intended to be taken against the culprits of the demolition. The Liberhan episode once again highlights the Congress’ characteristic complicity and collusion with communal forces...

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Obama Accepts the Nobel Prize for Hypnosis and Humbug

“The crimes of the United States have been systematic, constant, vicious, remorseless, but very few people have actually talked about them. You have to hand it to America. It has exercised a quite clinical manipulation of power worldwide while masquerading as a force for universal good. It’s a brilliant, even witty, highly successful act of hypnosis…It’s a scintillating stratagem.” – Harold Pinter in his Acceptance Speech for the Nobel Prize for Literature 2005 Citizens of America, and citizens of the world, I am honoured and humbled to receive the Nobel Prize for Hypnosis and Humbug. Make no mistake – it’s not an easy job to tell lies that sound like the truth; to wage war and dress it up like peace; to make a warmongering nation look like a noble hero bearing a solemn burden, that’s what’s tough… (it’s so easy to look like the bully in the schoolyard – look what a mess my predecessor George Bush made!). What’s that you’re reciting out there? “When the leaders speak of peace/The common folk know/That war is coming./When the leaders curse war/The mobilization order is already written out.” Yeah sure, I sanctioned 30,000 more troops into Afghanistan last week. But I’m not going to curse war – I’m a smart man, I’m not stupid. I’m saying War IS Peace. In which language? Why, that Doublespeak – a British guy Orwell...

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Sankalp Diwas to Intensify Struggles for Land, Livelihood, Democracy

December 18th, the 11th anniversary of the death of former party General Secretary Comrade Vinod Mishra was observed by CPI(ML) all over the country as Sankalp Diwas (pledge day) to intensify struggles for land, livelihood, and democracy. A massive Bhoomi Sudhar Sankalp Sammelan (Convention to Pledge to struggle for land reforms) at Patna was addressed by Comrade Dipankar Bhattacharya. CPI(ML)’s State Secretary Comrade Nand Kishore Prasad addressed the Sankalp Diwas Convention at Siwan’s indoor stadium; Politburo member Comrade Swadesh Bhattacharya and CPI(ML) MLA Comrade Ram Naresh Ram addressed the Convention at Arrah, while PBM Comrade Ram Jatan Sharma addressed the Convention at Jehanabad’s aerodrome grounds. Sankalp Diwas programmes in the form of rallies, demonstrations, and People’s Conventions were held at all district headquarters of Bihar including Darbhanga, Bettiah, Gopalganj, Vaishali, Nalanda, Sasaram (Rohtas), Kaimur, Buxar, Arwal, Aurangabad, Gaya, Nawada, Lakhisarai, Samastipur, Muzaffarpur, Madhubani, Begusarai, Purnia, Araria, Supaul and Bhagalpur addressed by Central, State and local leaders of the Party. In UP, a GBM was organised at Lucknow addressed by PBM Comrade Ramji Rai. At Sitapur, the Party’s first district conference was held; hundreds of Party members participated in the rally preceding the Conference, which was addressed by State Secretary Sudhakar Yadav and CCM Krishna Adhikari. A march against price rise was held in Kanpur, and large demonstrations were organised at tehsil HQs of Chunar and Madihan in Mirzapur on...

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Struggle against Privatisation and Loot of Water in the Sone Canal

Canals and irrigation too have not escaped the assault of privatisation. In Laloo Yadav’s term itself, President Abdul Kalam had begun the process by declaring the formation of a ‘Distributary Committee’ for the No. 10 Distributary on the Sone Canal. While this was said to be an ‘experiment’, it proved in fact to be the first step towards handing over the Canal to feudal forced, and gradually a feudal ‘canal mafia’ emerged. The No.10 Distributary irrigated the entire Paliganj area and Dulhin Bazaar Block, and the privatisation hit the farmers badly. 30% of the water tax is given to the government, and the remaining 70%, intended for maintenance of the canal, is instead looted in entirety. 150 workers, recruited for maintenance of the canals, have been kicked out of their jobs. The area that pays the water tax lies dry, while the President of the Distributary Committee, Valmiki Sharma colludes to sell the water on the black market. The canal is blocked at various spots to divert water, and the canal is even cut to sell the water. Much water is wasted too, as a result, since in the process it collects in holes. As it is, due to irregularities in the implementation of the Bansagar Agreement, Bihar gets less water, and what it gets is squandered due to corruption. The Sone canal area, usually unaffected by drought, was...

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Karnataka Diary

State level campaign Demanding Resignation of BJP State Govt CPI(ML) organized a state level campaign demanding resignation of the communal, corrupt, pro-rich and anti-people BJP government in Karnataka. Many padayatras and local level street corner preceded the campaign from 18-25 November 2009. The campaign culminated in a massive rally and Rasta Roko at Gangavati on 25 November. The rallyists also demanded flood relief to the neglected people in the taluk, particularly in some wards from where hundreds of people have joined CPI(ML). The rally was led by J Bharadwaj, CPI(ML) state leading team member and was addressed by comrades Uma Shankar, Ismail and Lingan Gowda. The rally at HD Kote was also very impressive where hundreds of people gheraoed the taluk office and shouted slogans against the administration. Comrade C Javaraiah, state leading team member of the party led the rally and demonstration. Comrades Rati Rao, all-India VP of AIPWA, Ramesh, AISA, Thimmaiah and Nanjunda of AIALA addressed the demonstration along with Mallamma, Shivamma and others. Demonstration at HP Halli A demonstration was organised in front of HP Halli taluk office on 15 December against the growing political grip of the mining mafia over the government. The demonstrators began in front of taluk panchayat office demanding disbursal of NREGA wages, job cards and jobs for the needy. It went on until the officials were forced to give a written...

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Teachers’ Fact-Finding Report in Ludhiana Incident

A fact-finding team of university teachers from Delhi visited Ludhiana on 20.12.2009 to ascertain the facts of the incidents of violence involving migrant workers that have gripped the industrial part of the city. The team visited Dhandari kalan and Sherpur and spoke to a large number of migrant workers and visited their homes. The team found that despite a large number of the migrant workforce (around 12 lakhs) living in Ludhiana for over 15 years, sometimes even much longer, a majority of them had no voting rights or ration cards. Even when they applied for voters I cards, their applications were rejected on spurious grounds. It is not surprising that no political party, not even the local Member of Parliament, Mr. Manish Tiwari, has bothered to visit them. This attitude percolates down to the bureaucracy and police force, who treat the migrant workers as virtually second class citizens. It was found that: 1) The migrant workers have for the past 2-3 months been gripped by a sense of fear and insecurity following a series of violent attacks by ‘biker gangs’, in which several workers were injured, attacked, robbed of their daily earnings, with one worker even succumbing to his injuries later in PGI. 2) The workers were greatly agitated that the police refused to file any complaints about these incidents of loot and attack. On 3rd December, when the...

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Punjab Diary : Attacks on Migrant Workers in Ludhiana

Once again, migrant workers, predominantly from UP and Bihar, have been at the receiving end of brutal attack – this time in Ludhiana in Punjab ruled by the Akali-BJP government. Migrant workers in the industrial town of Ludhiana were protesting against the refusal of the police to lodge complaints or take action in cases of rampant crime against them. Monthly wages of the workers were regularly snatched by criminal ‘biker’ gangs in collusion with the police. On December 3, a worker was stabbed and his money robbed by a youth mounted on a motorbike. This was the catalyst for the large gathering of workers who protested by blockading the highway. Instead of responding to their demand for credible action against the criminals who targeted migrant workers, the police cane-charged them. Workers responded by blockading a nearby train line and some retaliated by pelting stones at the police. The deadlock continued all night. On the morning of December 4, a large police force was called in along with a large number of criminal-minded local youth. A joint attack was launched by the latter on workers with swords, iron rods, and rifle butts. Workers’ homes were torched, and many rounds fired even inside workers’ homes. Women were beaten and abused. The attack lasted several hours, in presence of senior police officials – the IG, SSP and DSP. Workers eventually managed to...

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Red Carpet for US Nuke Companies and Impunity for Killer Corporations

It’s absolutely essential, “If there was not a cap and if there was not suitable legislation insurance in place, then we wouldn’t be in the nuclear industry.” – Peter Mason, president and chief executive of nuclear supplier GE-Hitachi Nuclear Energy Canada explained to the Parliamentary Standing Committee of the Canadian House of Commons on Natural Resources that is dealing with Bill C-20, their Nuclear Liability and Compensation Act, November 2009 The Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government’s proposals for a Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Bill, 2009 and an environmental court through The National Green Tribunal Bill, 2009 are ridden with glaring loopholes, designed to insulate corporations from punitive legal consequences. The Union Cabinet cleared the text of The Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Bill on November 19, 2009 for introduction in the Parliament. The passage of the Nuclear Liability Bill will allow India to join the international convention on civil liability for nuclear damage. So far this Nuclear Bill is not in the public domain but the Green Tribunal Bill is publicly accessible. While placing a cap on the compensation to be paid in the case of an accident at a nuclear site, the proposed legislation, in keeping with the demands by the Multinational Corporations like Union Carbide Company and Dow Chemicals Company, puts the responsibility for paying this compensation on the operator and not the suppliers or foreign...

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‘Maoism’, State and the Communist Movement in India

Part II Commentators have romanticised, eulogised and demonised ‘Maoism’ in many superficial ways; the point however is to appropriately assess this important trend and develop a correct political approach to it. In the first part we showed that the Central as well as State governments are using the state-Maoist confrontation as a pretext to suppress people’s struggles on basic issues and crush the resistance against the state-sponsored corporate plunder of the country’s resources; from the standpoint of this broader movement we then started an investigation into the theory and practice of ‘Maoism’ in India. Let us move ahead. Maoist Boycott: Participation by Other Means Lenin opposed “passive rejection, abstention, evasion of elections” and advocated “active boycott… as a declaration of open war against the old regime, a direct attack upon it”, immediately adding, “unless there is a broad revolutionary upswing, unless there is no mass unrest which overflows, as it were, the bounds of the old legality, there can be no question of the boycott succeeding.”[i] Really, there is no question of the boycott tactic succeeding — in a Leninist sense — in conditions generally obtaining in present-day India. But our clever friends have found a way to claim success. They want us to believe that the passive abstention of a large section of the people from elections shows that their boycott slogan is correct, conveniently forgetting that people...

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An obstacle race for the poor

What is the magical figure that can ensure that the poor survive in India? Rs 446.68? Rs 578.80? 2100 calories? 2400 calories? 25 kilograms of grain? Or Rs 90 a kilogram for dal? As a soup of figures get made, the Manmohan Singh’s government has created an obstacle race for the poor so that they can compete to prove their poverty. The government has been always reluctant to agree on the who the poor are (even when it is starkly apparent) because it would contradict its claims of growth. Yet, it is an accepted fact within the Ministries and the States that official poverty figures are far below the existing levels. But neo-liberal economics and politics of the UPA government has meant redefining not only who the poor are, but also redefining welfare measures. The estimation of poverty in the country is currently made by the Planning Commission both at the national and the state level. This is based on the Consumer expenditure carried out by National Sample Survey Organization. The Planning Commission had earlier in the year given out a figure of 28.3 percent of rural households as being Below Poverty Line, based on 2004-05 figures. This estimate had been made on the basis of the recommendations made by the Expert Group (on Estimation of Proportion and Number of Poor) led by Professor Lakdawala and accepted in 1997...

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Dubai Crash and the Kerala Crisis

The crisis of the much-trumpeted ‘superpower of the Middle East’, Dubai, came out into the open at the end of November ‘09 when ‘Dubai World’, a government-owned company, sought a moratorium on repayment of debts until at least May 2010. The capitalist world, celebrating the global economic revival, encountered a rude shock. Dubai is the latest in the series of ‘glamorous bubble’ economies that are bursting owing to globalisation and liberalisation. Dubai was not founded, unlike other UAE (United Arab Emirates) countries, on an oil economy, but was acclaimed as a financial capital and ‘pride’ of the gulf region. The Dubai Crash is the worst-ever manifestation of the brewing crisis in the oil-rich Middle East. The Indian political elite is not ready to openly accept the impact of the Dubai crisis on the Indian economy. The exodus of blue-collar workers employed in gulf back to their homeland can lead not only to economic crisis but can also turn into a social crisis, particularly in states like Kerala, which is mainly a ‘remittances-driven economy’ rather than one driven by investment/manufacturing. In Dubai, almost 50 percent of the population are Indians, mainly comprising construction workers from Kerala. In the first phase of global economic downturn itself, more than 2 lakh emigrants have returned to Kerala and are yet to be rehabilitated. It is expected that this might rapidly go up to...

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India’s Sorry Performance

The UN’s Global Hunger Index 2009 ranked countries on three leading indicators – prevalence of child malnutrition, rates of child mortality, and the proportion of people who are calorie deficient. According to this Index, India ranks a sorry 65th out of 88 countries, with a hunger rate of 23.9. Countries like Uganda (38th); Mauritania (40th); Zimbabwe (58th) and many others have a better record than India on this front. Even war-torn nations have managed to combat the scourge of hunger quite well, while India — even though it boasts of being the second fastest growing economy in the world — languishes far behind and millions in the country go hungry. Almost 21 per cent of the Indian population was undernourished (between 2003 and 2005), 43.5 per cent Indian children under the age of five were underweight (between 2002 and 2007) and the under five-year-age infant mortality rate in 2007 was 7.2 per cent. India ranks behind even its poorer neighbours – Nepal (55th) and Pakistan (58th). China improved its ranking from 15th in the 2008 Index to the 5th position in 2009, even though it has a huge population. The Global Hunger Report, noting that one billion are hungry people in the world today, held the global financial crisis responsible for a dramatic rise in hunger across the world. According to the Report, more than 17,000 children die of...

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Will India Take Lessons from the David Headley Case?

Partnership with the US will secure India from terrorism – this is the ‘wisdom’ peddled by the Vajpayee Government as well as by the Manmohan Singh governments. Much of the media too has parroted this notion, and much was made of the news that American spy agency FBI would be partnering Indian investigators in key cases. The NDA Government had allowed the FBI to have an office in India, and the UPA Government had virtually allowed the FBI to take over the Mumbai terror attack investigations. The National Investigative Agency (NIA) was set up – again to allow closer coordination with the FBI. The Mumbai terror attack itself was dubbed “26/11” to match the US’ ‘war on terror’ discourse of 9/11, and Indian PM timed his US visit to coincide with the anniversary of the Mumbai attacks. Recent revelations in the Mumbai terror investigations, however, raise disturbing questions. In early November a team of Indian intelligence officials rushed to the US on hearing that two men with a key role in the Mumbai attack had been arrested in the US – David Coleman Headley and Tahawwur Rana. But even after a week-long stay in the US, they returned empty handed, having been denied permission by the US to question the two. It then emerged from some media reports in the US that Headley might be a US spy. Arrested...

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The Issue of State Reorganisation and Autonomy

The intense agitation for a separate Telengana, especially the upsurge of students, in the face of severe repression, eventually succeeded in wresting an announcement from the Central Government that steps would be taken towards formation of a separate State of Telengana. The demand for Telengana has been a long-standing one and it gained ground in recent years in the face of deepening economic backwardness and acute agrarian crisis in the region. While the announcement ‘conceding’ a separate Telengana state has been greeted with predictable public rejoicing in the region, there has been a rash of resignations of MLAs and MPs from Andhra Pradesh, including a large number from the Congress party itself as well as from the TDP. The issue that is particularly proving contentious is the future of Hyderabad. While Telengana agitationists have staked their claim to Hyderabad as the capital of their new state, discordant notes can be heard within Hyderabad while the dominant political establishment in Andhra is particularly loath to part with Hyderabad. Speculations are on that the Centre might seek a way out of the impasse on the lines of the Chandigarh model, by keeping Hyderabad as the capital of both Andhra and Telengana and converting Hyderabad into a Union Territory. Against this backdrop, Congress leaders as well as TDP leaders in Andhra are now launching agitations to fan up frenzy in the coastal...

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