01 January 2015

On 2nd Cover : What Pakistan Can Warn Us About India on the Sangh’s Path

(Excerpts from an article by Ajaz Ashraf, ‘Like Zia’s Pakistan, Sangh Parivar’s India is walking a dangerous road’, Scroll.in, December 20, 2014.) The grisly, senseless killing of schoolchildren in Peshawar should be a reminder to us in India that mixing of religion with politics is akin to triggering nuclear fusion, which is difficult, even impossible, to control beyond a point. Ultimately, it renders both politics and religion rudderless, devastating society besides.” A good many mournful citizens in India have taken to social media to point to the inevitability of blood being spilled, rather routinely, in Pakistan. They forget that the nightmarish path Pakistan is on is precisely the one which the Sangh Parivar wants India to take. Our journey to enter the hellhole may have just begun, unless the tragic stories from across the border prompt our politicians, as also us, to revise our travel plans into the future. Obviously, we in India feel we are remarkably different from them in Pakistan. We have had a continuous democratic tradition of over six decades. Our Army remains in the barracks unless the political regime calls it out. Then there are all those who point to the implausibility of religious consolidation, claiming the factor of caste neutralises such possibilities. We forget that the genie in the bottle can take many forms once out. There are remarkable similarities between the path we...

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TRIBUTE : A tribute to Justice V.R. Krishna Iyer

(Excerpts from Prashant Bhushan’s tribute ‘A Judge’s Judge’, that appeared in the Outlook) With the passing away of Justice V.R. Krishna Iyer, who had just entered his 100th year, the world has lost one of the greatest judges and jurists of all time and also one of the finest human beings. He used his extraordinary juristic and intellectual gifts for helping every human being that he could and for addressing all forms of human suffering. …He correctly understood that the task of a judge, endowed with the extensive powers vested by the Constitution, is to protect the rights of the people, particularly the weak and the disadvantaged, to ensure that the instrumentalities of the state remain within the limits of their powers and act in public interest, and that the people get justice with equity. To this end, he gave a purposive interpretation to the Constitution, the law and rights. He thus gave an expansive interpretation to the right to life and liberty guaranteed by Article 21, and held it to include the right to a life of dignity. He forbade the handcuffing and mistreatment of prisoners. It was his judgments that laid down the principle that for undertrials, bail must be the rule and jail an exception. He further laid down that persons could not be deprived of their liberty by just any procedure, and that such a...

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Updates : (4)

Massive Chetawani rally in Ludhiana A massive Chetawani rally (Warning Rally) was held on 28 November at Ludhiana at the call of the CPI, CPM Punjab, CPI(ML) Liberation and CPI(M). The massive gathering of peasants and workers warned the Akali-BJP Badal government to scrap the draconian ‘Prevention Of damage to Public And Private Property Bill 2014’ law, and accede to a 14 point Demand Charter. The rally was addressed by CPI(M) General Secretary Prakash Karat, veteran CPI(M) leader A B Bardhan, CPM Punjab Secretary Mangat Ram Pasla and CPI(ML) Liberation General Secretary Dipankar Bhattacharya besides various other Left leaders. CPI(ML) PB Member Swapan Mukherjee was also present on the stage. Addressing the rally, Comrade Prakash Karat underlined that the Modi Government had ushered in ‘acche din’ only for Ambanis and Adanis, while the Government was accelerating the offensive on the poor people. He hailed the Left assertion in Punjab as marking a new beginning. Comrade Bardhan called for a powerful Left assertion against the Akali-BJP Government of Punjab. Comrade Pasla spoke of the inspiring legacy of Bhagat Singh, and tasked the Left with carrying forward this legacy. He said the battles of the people could only be fought with the independent assertion of the red flag – and the huge response to the Left parties’ rally showed the potential for this. Among the demands raised by the Rally were...

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Special Feature :Racism and Anti-Racist Resistance in the US

Yet again, America’s racist underbelly has been exposed: the murder of an 18-year old unarmed black boy earlier this year by a police officer was followed by systematic state-sponsored efforts to subvert justice and protect the police officer. In late November, a ‘grand jury’ in the US ruled that criminal charges would not be brought against police officer Darren Wilson who had fired 12 rounds of bullets into the body of Michael Brown, whose only ‘crime’ was that he was black and unarmed in a country where racist prejudice runs deep in the police forces and in American society. From the beginning, the entire judicial process was rigged for the sole of protecting the police man. In fact, as it has been correctly pointed out by various commentators, throughout the hearings, the prosecutor’s office sought to place Michael Brown, not Darren Wilson, on trial. Following the horrific Ferguson verdict, yet another grand jury, this time in New York, refused to even press charges against another police officer who choked to death yet another Black man, 43-year old Eric Garner for selling loose cigarettes. Moreover, soon after Michael Brown’s murder, 12-year old Tamir Rice was killed by a US police man while he was playing with a fake gun. Earlier in 2012, a young Black boy Trayvon Martin was shot dead by a man claiming he felt threatened because Martin...

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Special Feature : Report Reveals CIA’s Brutal Torture

“I want to be absolutely clear with our people and the world: The United States does not torture. It’s against our laws, and it’s against our values. I have not authorized it, and I will not authorize it”. In September 2006, it was with these words that George Bush Jr., then President of the United States, tried to assure the world that America’s global “war on terror” did not include torture and human rights violations. The horrors of Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay were an “aberration”, we were told – the unfortunate result of a few “bad apples”. Facts that have now emerged from the US Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI)’s report on CIA’s ‘Rendition, Detention and Interrogation’ programme have however shown, beyond any doubt, that Bush and the US administration were lying about US’s track record on torture, just as they lied about the so-called “weapons of mass destruction” that helped to set the stage for US-sponsored global Islamophobia and the “war on terror”. The SSCI report exposes in great detail the reality behind the bland and innocuous sounding “enhanced interrogation techniques” followed by the CIA in prisons and detention centres across the world. Chilling narratives of torture The SSCI report is the result of its analysis of 6 million pages of CIA’s records of its operations between 2001-2006. What is now in the public domain is...

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‘Gharwapsi’ Is An Act of Violence, Not of ‘Conversion’

(This article is a longer version of one that appeared in DNA, 17 December, titled ‘Tactic of Intimidation’) The BJP MP Adityanath has said that the Babri Masjid demolition was a show of Hindu unity, and a similar show of unity is needed to ensure the ‘Gharwapsi’ (return home) of all Christians, Muslims and other minorities in India. This statement – by a ruling party MP– brutally exposes the ‘Gharwapsi’ project as one of communal violence, not ‘conversion’. This statement brazenly celebrates the Babri Masjid demolition (officially condemned by the BJP leadership so as to avoiud criminal prosecution). And by comparing it with the Babri Masjid demolition, Adityanath makes it clear that ‘Gharwapsi’ is no benign invitation to embrace Hinduism – it is intended to demolish the dignified existence and rights of religious minorities in India. Other statements by BJP and RSS leaders also prove the violent intention of the Gharwapsi (reconversion) project. The head of the Dharm Jagaran Manch, the RSS outfit that declared its intention to conduct Gharwapsi of Christians on Christmas Day, declared that “By 2021, we will finish Islam and Christianity, and India will be a Hindu Rashtra.” The RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat said that India is already a Hindu Rashtra; Gharwapsi, Bhagwat said is merely taking back stolen property: ‘My maal (property) is with a thief, I am taking it back.’ It is revealing...

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Hate-Speech Reflects BJP’s Ideology and Politics,

Campaigning for the BJP towards the Delhi Assembly elections, the Modi Government’s Minister of State for Food Processing, asked voters to choose between a Government of ‘Ramzade’ (sons of Ram) and ‘Haramzade’ (bastards). This was not just a case of the use of an abusive word. Questioned by a journalist, she elaborated her meaning on camera. She said that “Muslims and Christians are also sons of Ram – and if they don’t believe this, they can’t believe in the nation either.” As an outcry rose nationally demanding the sacking of this Minister, the Minister issued a vague and general ‘apology’ in case she had ‘hurt anyone’s feelings’. Subsequently, the Prime Minister told the Parliament to forgive and forget the Minister’s lapse, since she was a novice, a first-time MP, and a village woman. The BJP also hinted that the Minister was being singled out and targeted by the Opposition because she was from an extremely backward caste. The Prime Minister’s explanation is an insult to the women of India’s villages. Niranjan Jyoti’s foul-mouthed hate-speech was not learnt by her in any village. It is systematically imparted by the RSS through its network of outfits. And this can easily be proved by looking at the track record of utterances of various BJP and Sangh leaders. On 21st November 2013, a BJP leader from Uttar Pradesh, Ram Pratap Chauhan made remarks...

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Creatively Apply the Lessons of the First International

In Commemoration of 150th Anniversary of Foundation (Third and concluding part of the article that appeared in the October and November 2014 issues of Liberation) Part III The Paris Commune and The Civil War in France (which came to be recognised as the first “communist document” of the IWA because here Marx went back, after nearly a quarter century, to the revolutionary straight talk resembling that of the Communist Manifesto) shook the bourgeois world to the bones. Even as Karl Marx emerged as the world’s most popular leader of the working classes, the hate campaign against him and the International became more aggressive than ever before. Simultaneously, the ideological struggle within the International got more intense. While Marx, Engels and their followers strove to incorporate the historic lessons of the Commune in the political line of the International, the reformists (British trade unionists in particular) and anarchists (Bakuninists in particular) became frantic for imposing their own views on the organisation. Both trends tried desperately to exploit the International’s soaring prestige among the toiling masses everywhere and both were boldly tackled at the London Conference held in September 1871. Intensified Struggle on Two Front In his opening speechat the London Conference, Marx focused the work of the conference on the question of the proletarian party, the pivotal point in the fight against the anarchist and trade unionist ideologists. A heated...

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Special Report : Manorama’s Rape and Murder : Justice Awaited Ten Years On

In 2004, Thangjam Manorama’s brutal rape and murder by the Assam Rifles personnel sparked off a historic movement demanding the repeal of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA). Manipur’s women stripped off their clothes and protested in front of the Assam Rifles headquarters at Kangla Fort, shouting ‘Indian Army Rape Us!’ Ten years on, the Supreme Court ordered Rs 10 lakh compensation to be paid to Manorama’s mother. This is the only acknowledgement, as yet, by the institutions of justice, that Manorama was raped and murdered. At the same time, the Supreme Court also admitted a petition by the Army challenging the Gauhati HC’s order that had held as valid the enquiry commission appointed to probe Manorama’s death. The Enquiry Commission, under the Chairmanship of C. Upendra Singh, retired District and Sessions Judge, Manipur, was set up in 2004 by the Manipur Government because of the explosive public pressure. But it was thwarted from the start by the Assam Rifles, that claimed it was protected by AFSPA from such enquiries. In an August 28, 2004 interim order, the Gauhati High Court refused to stay the proceedings of the Upendra commission. However, the Court ruled that the final report required court sanction to be published. Judge Upendra Singh submitted his final report to the Manipur government in November 22, 2004, but it was not made public because of the...

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The Khaps in our homes

(Excerpts from article by Anumeha Yadav, The Hindu, December 11, 2014) On November 15, 21-year-old Bhawana Yadav, who had married Abhishek Seth the same week, was strangled in her house in Dwarka, Delhi, by her mother and father, Savitri and Jagmohan Yadav. Her parents had called her to their house on the pretext of discussing a reorganisation of the wedding — this time with their consent. On November 27 in Raikot’s Johlan village in Ludhiana, Manjit Kaur, a 24-year-old M.Com. student, was strangled by her parents Gurdeep Singh and Amarjit Kaur after they found out about her relationship with a 35-year-old Hindu man living in the same village. Two days later on November 29, in a village in Hapur district in Uttar Pradesh, 20-year-old Sonu Kumar, a Jatav Dalit, was hacked to death. His wife, 18-year-old Dhanishta, a Rangadh Muslim, was also found with her throat slit, a crime committed allegedly by her brothers in front of the panchayat, for marrying Sonu. Honour, a valued ideal Honour or izzat is portrayed as one of the most valued ideals among Hindu, Sikh and Muslim communities. Daughters, wives and mothers are the repositories of this honour for their communities, families, and castes. Ideals of family and community honour are invoked, sometimes with women’s complicity, to condition women to behave in certain ways and to shame and punish them for “inappropriate” behaviour....

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Rape, rhetoric and reality

(Excerpts from article by Rukmini S, The Hindu, December 19, 2014) The beginning of a new conversation on women is welcome, but this two-year focus on rape as the key indicator of women’s status in India has been both statistically faulty and counterproductive. Where does India actually stand in global comparison? India is placed 85th among 121 countries for reported rape, and 39th among 99 countries for unreported rape. Both sets of statistics together place India towards the middle to lower end of the global scale of sexual violence. Yet, for the last two years, the rhetoric around rape in India has not reflected this. None of this is to say that sexual violence is not a problem in India, or that there are “acceptable levels” of rape. Moreover, sexual violence statistics mask the level of sexual threat and resulting insecurity that are constant companions for women on Indian streets, even when they do not result in violent rape. Women’s autonomy However, this statistically faulty focus on rape has led to both a misdiagnosis and a worsening of India’s real problem when it comes to women: autonomy. Just one in five women has her name on her house’s papers and four out of five need permission to visit a doctor, the India Human Development Survey revealed. Just one in five women is in the workforce, making India’s workforce one...

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The Political Offensive Against Women’s Autonomy

Two years after the anti-rape movement that followed December 16th 2012 in India, the hardest and most urgent challenge remains to change the conversation from that of ‘safety from rape’ to that of women’s autonomy. Why Autonomy Is a Priority In her article ‘Rape, Rhetoric and Reality’, (The Hindu, December 19, 2014), Rukmini S points out that while sexual violence is indeed a serious concern, the problem of truly epidemic proportions in India is not rape, but the “restriction on women’s autonomy, across caste, class and religious groups.” This means that instead of finding ways to lock women away more ‘safety’, our priority must be to expand women’s autonomy and mobility. The top finding of a ‘safety audit’ conducted by women’s organizations in Delhi on December 16th this year is that “the single biggest factor that would make women feel safer is the presence of other women in public spaces.” In other words, it is women’s freedom to wander public spaces, rather than the presence of CCTV cameras, that actually makes those spaces safer for all women. It is this understanding that underpins the ongoing ‘Why Loiter’ campaign that has women sharing experiences of ‘loitering’ for the sheer pleasure of being in public spaces, and demanding that the State provide infrastructure that enables and encourages such a presence of women in public space. Rukmini S has also pointed out...

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Make in India: a critical examination of an economic strategy

(Excerpt from the article by Leila Gautham, Kafila, December 21, 2014) ‘Make in India’ is now an all-pervasive catchphrase – every newspaper and television channel trumpeting the Modi’s ‘clarion call’ to investors – but surprisingly empty in terms of substance. Firstly, I encountered some very puzzling things: for example, no one seemed to be sure about what precisely the objective of Make in India is. The BBC report claims that aim of Make in India is to increase the share of manufacturing from 15% to 25% – an increase of 10 points (no time period specified), the source for this being ‘authorities’ in the government. But the Hindu report claims that “officials” have said that the aim is to bring the manufacturing sector into a sustained growth rate of 10%. Two explanations come to mind: deliberate vagueness is very useful because it can be easily woven into a certain rhetoric about delicensing and deregulation and efficiency. Everyone, from Arnab Goswami to the man beside you on the metro know (or think they know) what ‘Make in India’ is about, and can impose their own particular utopia into Modi’s vision without any bothersome facts entering into it. Which further reinforces my conviction that the aggressive coverage on Make in India is aimed at convincing people that the government is taking some real ‘solid’ measures to create jobs and remove ‘roadblocks’...

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Peshawar Massacre : Lessons for Pakistan, India and the Subcontinent

The barbaric massacre of 132 school children in Peshawar by the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan has underlined the senselessness and inhumanity of the toxic cocktail of religion and politics. This unspeakable crime must mark the beginning of the end of the Taliban and intensify our resistance against every variety of religious fundamentalist violence. The Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan, as well as the Boko Haram and ISIS plan and execute the deliberate, cold-blooded, planned massacre of unarmed innocents in the name of religion. The Peshawar massacre, terrible as it is, could mark a turning point for Pakistan. For decades, the Army has had an overbearing presence over Pakistan’s democracy, while Pakistan’s rulers have appeased religious fundamentalists and US imperialism at the same time. Various fundamentalist and terrorist outfits have been nurtured by the Pakistani State in collusion with US imperialism. It is well documented how the US in collaboration with the ISI and Pakistani military helped create and cosset the Taliban and other extremist groups in Afghanistan, and fuelled the rise of the Taliban in Pakistan too. In May 2009, the then Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari told a US TV channel that the Taliban “was part of your past and our past, and the ISI and CIA created them together.” The same month, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said about the Taliban, “We came in the 1980s and helped...

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Jharkhand and J&K Election Results and the Modi Sarkar’s Continuing Corporate and Communal Offensive

With the declaration of the results of the last leg of 2014 elections, the BJP has predictably added Jharkhand to its kitty even as it emerged as the second largest party in a highly polarised and fragmented Jammu & Kashmir. While this has been the best ever showing of the party in the Assemblies of these two states, the outcome has fallen significantly short of what the BJP had expected or most pollsters had generously predicted. In Kashmir, the BJP failed to open its account in the valley and in Jharkhand it could barely cross the majority mark only after it changed tack to seal a last minute pre-poll alliance with the AJSU. While the BJP’s central poll plank that sought a clear and complete majority for the party did not cut much ice with the Jharkhand electorate, what stood out was the electorate’s rejection of every leader who has been in power till date. Jharkhand’s former BJP CM Babulal Marandi was decisively defeated in his home constituency Dhanwar by CPI(ML)’s Rajkumar Yadav, (although unfortunately this significant victory was accompanied by the loss of the historic Bagodar seat which the CPI(ML) has been representing uninterruptedly since 1990, defying the assassination of Comrade Mahendra Singh during the 2005 elections). Meanwhilethe other BJP CM, Arjun Munda, had to bite the dust in his traditional seat Kharsawan. Notoriously corrupt former CM Madhu...

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