08 August 2014

Running Orders

They call us now. Before they drop the bombs. The phone rings and someone who knows my first name calls and says in perfect Arabic “This is David.” And in my stupor of sonic booms and glass shattering symphonies still smashing around in my head I think “Do I know any Davids in Gaza?” They call us now to say Run. You have 58 seconds from the end of this message. Your house is next. They think of it as some kind of war time courtesy. It doesn’t matter that there is nowhere to run to. It means nothing that the borders are closed and your papers are worthless and mark you only for a life sentence in this prison by the sea and the alleyways are narrow and there are more human lives packed one against the other more than any other place on earth Just run. We aren’t trying to kill you. It doesn’t matter that you can’t call us back to tell us the people we claim to want aren’t in your house that there’s no one here except you and your children who were cheering for Argentina sharing the last loaf of bread for this week counting candles left in case the power goes out. It doesn’t matter that you have children. You live in the wrong place and now is your chance to run...

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Palestine Yet Again

You bleed again as the world watches In civilized wisdom; As you take little babies for burial, With fresh bombs bursting behind Before and on you, The Zionists feel threatened by your resolve. Such is your prowess: No lion is thought quite dead till dead. And you are not about to die either, Take it from me. The Zionist barbarians have had good teachers; They did not suffer At the hands of the Nazis for nothing. Admiring their dour beastliness, They said the Nazis are dead, Let us be the Nazis. And the yanks said These are our Nazis, so beware. For now we can only sing of your ideals, Your courage, your history And write poems; But no reckoning is forever delayed. Even now there are ears that hear, Eyes that see, And minds that are made. We cannot save your babies, Your women, Your home and hearth, Such as they are, But be sure there will be that reckoning. It is in the making. Who knows how, when, or where It will bring the beasts to book. Who knows when the light of justice Will shine, But shine it will. We know you have no doubt of that. So let your wounds water afresh The tree-trunk of your immutable soul. The new leaves will have more blood And the new branches more muscle. The sight of that...

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Exhibition of Ashok Bhowmick’s Art in Kolkata

Well-known painter Ashok Bhowmick held an exhibition of 12 of his paintings in the verandah of Vivekananda Hall at Jadhavpur University campus, after which in the afternoon he gave a talk on “Progressive Trends in Indian Painting”. It was the occasion for remembering the Emergency in today’s context. During the Emergency Ashok Bhowmick was in Azamgarh town of UP. Those were the days when he was gaining an understanding of well-known Hindi poet Gajanan Madhav Muktibodh’s poem “Andhere Mein”. The paintings in the exhibition, inspired by Muktibodh’s “Andhere Mein” and other poems, have an impact similar to that of paintings by Goya and also Picasso’s “Guernica”. All the 12 paintings included in the exhibition were painted in the 1980s. The exhibition was organized under the joint aegis of the Kolkata chapter of Pratirodh ka Cinema (Cinema of Resistance) and the art group Jan Kala Samooh of the Jan Sanskriti Manch. Introducing Ashok Bhowmick, Pratirodh ka Cinema Kolkata chapter convenor Kasturi said that he is one of those rare artists of today who relate art and politics. Inaugurating the exhibition, lyricist, singer and musician Nitish Roy (associated with Gana Sanskriti Parishad) appreciated the significant contribution of Bhowmick in taking the identity and work of Indian progressive artists to the people and compared his contribution to Hindi literary society to that of Kolkata artist Khaled Choudhury. Speaking on the occasion national...

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Message of Greetings from CPI(ML) CC to the 9th Congress of CPN(UML)

(A CPI(ML) delegation comprising Central Committee member Comrade Rajaram Singh and Bihar State Committee member Comrade Virendra Gupta attended the 9th Congress of the CPN(UML). Comrade Rajaram Singh addressed the inaugural session of the 9th Congress. CPI(ML) General Secretary Comrade Dipankar Bhattacharya sent a message of greeting on behalf of the Central Committee, which is reproduced below). Dear Comrades, On behalf of the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) and the progressive and democracy-loving people of India, we send our warm revolutionary greetings to all comrades who have assembled for the 9th Congress of CPN(UML). We also take this opportunity to extend our felicitations to all foreign guests and express our solidarity with the international communist and progressive movement, especially with all our comrades from South Asia. Communists and democrats in India have been watching with great admiration and joy the victories won by the communists and democrats in Nepal resulting in the historic abolition of the monarchy and the initiation of the process of transition to a constitutional democratic republic. We also share the dismay of the people of Nepal that the First Constituent Assembly of Nepal could not accomplish the task of constitution-making just as we share the hope the current Constituent Assembly will be able to accomplish it to the satisfaction of the people of Nepal in their quest for a democratic republic upholding the rights of...

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Dalits Observing Memorial Day for Ilavarasan Face Brutal Repression in Dharmapuri, TN

A public hearing was held in Salem on 13th July, in which Dalits of Natham Colony testified to the brutal police repression unleashed on them by the Dharmapuri police. The repression was unleashed when they attempted to observe the first death anniversary of Ilavarasan, a dalit youth, who was found dead in mysterious circumstances on 4thJuly last year after he married a Vanniar girl, Divya. The marriage of Ilavarasan and Divya was used as a pretext by the Pattali Makkal Katchi party to organise arson and violence against dalit villages in Dharmapuri. When Ilavarasn’s family members and the people of Natham village began talking about observing the first death anniversary of Ilavarasan, the Dharmapuri police clamped Sec 144 on June 27th in Dharmapuri block, and latter expanded it to the entire district. Six members of the village, illegally held in the police station, later had several cases slapped against them. They were jailed on charges of engaging in a conspiracy to eliminate PMK leaders, possessing lethal weapons, and getting arms training with Naxalites. After 11 days, the arrested Dalit youth were charged with NSA! More than 1500 police were engaged to encircle the entire village. From dawn to dusk, houses were ‘searched’. Members of the villages and relatives were restricted from even entering or leaving the village. The women, elders and children spent several sleepless nights. The family members,...

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Ramgarh’s Dalits Threatened As They Testify in Court Against Attack

(Dalits of Ramgarh village (Dadri, UP), have begun testifying in court against the gram pradhan Kuldeep Bhati and his henchmen, who had subjected them to a murderous attack on March 14, 2012. They have been waging their battle for justice under the banner of the CPI(ML). To prevent them from testifying in court, or to pressure them to turn hostile, the gram pradhan and his men have intensified their campaign of intimidation. A CPI(ML) team comprising PB member Kavita Krishnan, State Committee members Aslam Khan and Shyamkishor, as well as Anas Kidwai, Mohit Kashyap, Rituparna Biswas and Prashant Gupta of RYA, Susanne Adley visited Ramgarh on July 20, 2014. A report.) The March 14th Attack On March 14, 2012, the Dalit Jatav families of Ramgarh (Dadri, UP) had been subjected to an assault by the gram pradhan Kuldeep Bhati, and his henchmen. This attack, happening soon after the UP Assembly poll results, had the purpose of punishing the Jatavs from having staked claim to commons land that had been allocated to Dalits as homestead plots. Towards the end of 2011, 4.75 bighas of panchayat land, allocated by the state government to the Dalit families in Ramgarh, was illegally occupied by the gram pradhan, Kuldeep Bhati, and his henchmen. The Jatavs, led by Brahm Singh – a young Dalit resident of the village, filed a written complaint about the land...

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Encephalitis Epidemic in Purvanchal Compounded by Medical Discrimination

Presenting the budget for 2014-15 Finance Minister Arun Jaitley announced that institutions such as four new AIIMS would be established. There was mention of one of these to be established in Purvanchal in U.P. but no specifc place was mentioned. After this announcement the demand for an AIIMS in Gorakhpur of eastern U.P. was redoubled. This demand had arisen three years ago and has become an important issue today for the people of this region. It was a main issue even in the recent Lok Sabha elections. As BJP candidates have won from all seats here except Azamgarh, it would be a problem for them to face and answer the people of Gorakhpur if the new AIIMS is not established in Gorakhpur, because there is much talk that this AIIMS will be established in Varanasi, PM Modi’s constituency, where a well-reputed medical institute, BHU, already exists. The talk of AIIMS being established in Varanasi prompted the BJP MPs of Gorakhpur and nearby constituencies to make a statement in the Press that they would meet PM Modi and demand that the AIIMS be established in Gorakhpur. It is now a fortnight since that statement was made but the MPs have not yet met Modi or raised the issue with him. If the AIIMS is established not in Gorakhpur but in or near Varanasi, it will be another great injustice to...

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Scrapping of FYUP in Delhi University: Victory for Students’ and Teachers’ Movement

The students and teachers of Delhi University must be congratulated for their victory in restoring the 3-year degree programme. Since last year, March 2013, the teachers and students of DU had been waging a relentless struggle against the DU VC’s hurried and forced imposition of the ill-thought out and disastrous FYUP. The reasoned arguments of the DUTA, students and noted academics and educationists were trampled upon by the VC using important bodies like the Academic and Executive Councils as mere rubber stamps to push through his dubious agenda with the blessings from the UPA Government. It is the sustained campaign and agitation by students and teachers that made the FYUP an issue of national debate, forcing the new Government and UGC to finally accept the illegality and undesirability of the FYUP programme. Most importantly, the first batch of students affected by the FYUP had, in a historic referendum in August 2013, expressed their rejection of the FYUP and its substandard courses. By refusing to abide by the UGC order for a week, the DU VC put lakhs of admission seekers from all over the country to immense stress, uncertainty, and trouble. The Spirit of University’s Autonomy The DU VC claimed that the UGC instructions violate the University’s autonomy. This is a specious and self-serving logic. The DU VC dealt body blows to the University’s autonomy and internal democracy on...

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Protests in India in Solidarity With Palestine

On July 14th a peaceful protest at the Israeli embassy by AISA, RYA, NAPM, JNUSU and other groups against the Isreal’s bombardment of Gaza, was met with brutal violence by the Delhi Police. Protestors staging a sit-in at the Embassy were dragged, thrashed and abused. Their clothes were torn. Kavita Krishnan, secretary of the All India Progressive Women’s Association, and Politburo member, CPI(ML), was dragged away from in front of the Embassy and hit on her lip by a policewoman’s helmet when she raised a slogan. All this took place on the orders of the DCP. In all, nearly 100 people including JNUSU President Akbr Choudhury were bundled together in two police vans and taken to Tughlaq Road police Station. Inside the thana, Kavita Krishnan was also stopped from talking to the press, was dragged inside and verbally abused. When the JNUSU President questioned the language that was being used, he was also slapped and abused – all this in the presence of and on the orders of the SHO Pramod Joshi. Inside the thana, the police selectively asked students with beards (presumed to be Muslims) for identity cards. The protesters were eventually released in the evening. Another joint protest organised by India-Palestine solidarity organisations was held at the Israel embassy in Delhi on 17th July, in which activists of the CPI, CPIM, and CPI(ML) participated. CPI (ML) Liberation...

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Stop the killing, stop the crime- Israel out of Palestine!

The ongoing Israeli assault on Gaza has now claimed more than 500 lives of Palestinian civilians, and still counting. The abduction and killing of three Jewish young boys in the occupied West Bank is condemnable. But, instead of identifying those responsible, Israel used this crime as a pretext for yet another massacre of the Palestinian people. The fact that the abduction and killing are only a pretext is underlined by the words of Israeli hardliners who in 2012 had referred to the annual massacre of Palestinian civilians by the Israeli state, as “mowing the lawn.” Israeli political leaders have a long history of using such language to dehumanize the Palestinian people and justify occupation and genocide. In 1969, Israeli PM Golda Meir had declared that Palestinians ‘didn’t exist.’ In 1982, Israeli PM Menachem Begin described Palestinians as “beasts walking on two legs.” In 1988, another Israeli PM Yitzhak Shamir declared that the Palestinians “would be crushed like grasshoppers.” Even as major world powers maintain a shameful silence on this massacre, the Israeli PM Netanyahu has declared that “world pressure will not stop us…there is still more to go.” The Israeli PM has openly and shamelessly justified deliberate bombardment of homes, hospitals, and other civilian locations. Yet, this blatant admission of war crime has invited no serious action from the United Nations to ensure an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, even...

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Massive Corporate Bailout in Budget

(P. Sainath, India Resists, http://www.indiaresists.com/p-sainath-on-corporate-bailout-rs-36-5-trillion-budget-2014/#sthash.PMVyInTY.dpuf) It was business as usual in 2013-14. Business with a capital B. This year’s budget document says we gave away another Rs. 5.32 lakh crores to the corporate needy and the under-nourished rich in that year. Well, it says Rs. 5.72 lakh crores but I’m leaving out the Rs. 40 K crore foregone on personal income tax since that write-off benefits a wider group of people. The rest is mostly about a feeding frenzy at the corporate trough. And, of course, that of other well-off people. The major write-offs come in direct corporate income tax, customs and excise duties. If you think sparing the super-rich taxes and duties worth Rs. 5.32 lakh crores is a trifle excessive, think again. The amount we’ve written off for them since 2005-06 under the very same heads is well over Rs. 36.5 lakh crore. (A sixth of that in just corporate income tax). That’s Rs. 36500000000000 wiped off for the big boys in nine years. With Rs. 36.5 trillion – for that is what it is – you could: • Fund the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme for around 105 years, at present levels. That’s more than any human being could expect to live. And a hell of a lot more than any agricultural labourer would. You could, in fact, run the MNREGS on that sum,...

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PPP – Promoting Private Profits?

Just after the first railway budget of the Modi Government, Mr. Laloo Prasad Yadav, in his inimitable style, commented on the budget, “just singing PPP…PPP…PPP, railway projects will not come up”. Mr. Yadav might have sounded funny but his comment cannot be ignored. After the railway budget, the media cheerleaders, as expected, put up a headline, “Modi government offers bullet trains”. The reality is, the budget allocated Rs100 Crore only to conduct a feasibility study. Not just Mr. Modi and his railway minister have bullet dreams, but many earlier Railway Ministers, including Laloo and Mamata also had bullet dreams. Even Laloo wanted railway stations that would look like those in Europe. And yes, Laloo also sang, “PPP…PPP…PPP”! The idea of PPP is not new. It started in the US in the 1970s. Under the World Bank patronage, it became popular in several developing countries in 1980s and 1990s. Other developed countries also picked up the idea by that time. In India, it started in late 1990s but picked up in current century. The Word Bank sponsored Public-Private Infrastructure Advisory Facility (PPIAF) played an important role in this. Private investors, their cheerleaders and the World Bank attempted to sell the PPP idea with the promise that private investors will bring professionalism and efficiency in management and operations, while involvement of the public sector will ensure that the infrastructure projects will...

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Modi Sarkar: Rolling Back Hard-Won Rights, Intensifying Ongoing Assaults

Even as the Parliament session begins and the Budget is soon to be presented, it is clear that the Modi government is intensifying various offensives that the UPA Government had begun; and rolling back various hard-won rights and entitlements. The UID Aadhaar scheme is a case in point. This is a scheme that the UPA Government had rushed in, without Parliamentary approval and steamrolling various substantial concerns about privacy, surveillance, and corporate access to personal data of citizens. A parliamentary Standing Committee headed by Yashwant Sinha of the BJP had endorsed many of these concerns and had rejected the National Identification Authority of India Bill. Now, the Modi Government is rushing through the same Aadhaar scheme. Moreover, though a March 2014 ruling of the Supreme Court said categorically that the Aadhaar card could not be made mandatory for government subsidies, the Modi Government is proposing to make Aadhaar compulsory for allotting cooking gas cylinders. A meeting headed by Narendra Modi himself has reportedly decided to bring back the Aadhaar-based Direct Benefit Transfer DBT scheme, which had to be withdrawn following the March 2014 Supreme Court order. Following the Rajasthan Government’s lead, the Modi Government is now planning to usher in what it is euphemistically calling ‘job-oriented labour law reforms’. In essence this is to facilitate hire and fire, make widespread exploitation of contract work legal, and loosen the labour...

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Modi Government’s Union Budget Intensifying Attacks on People

Rail Budget Bullet Train Vs People’s Concerns The Modi Government’s first Rail Budget is a step in the direction of handing over the precious national asset of Indian Railways over to private interests and FDI – at the cost of the common passenger and the health of the Railways in general. 99% of Indian passengers demand safety, amenities, affordability and adequate availability of accommodation. The Modi Government’s budget sacrifices all of the above in the name of the fad of a ‘bullet train’ for a tiny minority. One of the burning concerns of people has been the spate of Railway accidents. The Rail Budget of the new Government does nothing to address these concerns. The main reason for the repeated accidents has been the failure to fill up 3 lakh vacant posts, leading to a situation where the Railways lack adequate staff to carry out basic safety procedures, and drivers are overworked and forced to work long inhuman hours without sleep. The Kakodkar Committee Report on railway safety in 2012 had estimated that some 15000 people die every year in railway accidents and fires, and had termed this an unconscionable ‘massacre’. The Committee had recommended an expenditure of Rs 20000 crore per year on safety measures. The Rail Budget totally fails to allocate such an amount or outline measures to bring down accidents by employing sufficient staff, upgrading maintenance,...

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BRICS Summit Potential and Inherent Limitations

The sixth BRICS summit was held at Fortaleza, Brazil on 15 July 2014 in the immediate aftermath of the World Cup football tournament, also hosted by Brazil. The Fortaleza summit produced a 72-point declaration and a 23-point action plan, and was followed by a larger meeting with leaders of UNASUR, the regional forum of South American nations including Brazil. The highlight of the sixth BRICS summit has been the announcement of the agreement to launch the BRICS bank, called the New Development Bank (NDB), and a common fund called the Contingent Reserve Arrangement (CRA), to help member countries cope with any possible short-term balance of payments pressure. BRICS is a unique cross-continental grouping of five countries with little in common in terms of their specific historical, cultural or geo-political background. It is a peculiar reflection of the developing situation where the former number two and current number two of the world economy – Russia and China – have joined hands with three emerging economies across continents to defend their shared economic interests. It is significant that the grouping has taken shape in the backdrop of the global financial crisis which has had a more adverse impact on the three traditionally dominant centres of post-War global capitalist economy – the US, Western Europe and Japan – than these emerging players. It is futile to look for signs of any radically...

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