The Movement of India News Magazine of the National Alliance of People’s Movements January – March 2013 Volume: 7
MUMBAI’S GHAR BACHAO GHAR BANAO ANDOLAN:
THIS REVOLUTION WILL NOT BE TELEVISED
Also in this edition:
To End Rape, Fight Masculinity. Between Hawks And Peaceniks: Is There A Middle Path? Shinde On Hindutva Terror: Terminological Confusions. Tell The Nation The Truth On Kudankulam.
Contents 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15. 16. 17. 18. 19. 20. 21. 22. 23.
This Participatory Democracy Shall Not Be Televised, Javed Iqbal________1 The Bricks Of A Right To A Home, Profiles Of Some Ghar Bachao Ghar Banao Andolan Organisers By Javed Iqbal________8 Death Penalty Is Not The Solution, Submission To Justice Verma By Women’s And Progressive Groups And Individuals________11 To Prevent Rape, Fight Masculinity, Praful Bidwai________14 Comprehensive Action Against Sexual Violence Needed, NAPM Statement on Rape________15 Alchemizing Anger To Hope, Arvind Narrain________17 “The Impunity Of Every Citadel Is Intact” – The Taming Of The Verma Committee Report, And Some Troubling Doubts, Nivedita Menon________18 India And Pakistan: Between Hawks And Peaceniks, Is There A Middle Path, S.G. Vombatkere________22 Conquering Hatred, Vidya Bhushan Rawat________27 Statement On Nuclear Advisory In Kashmir Amid War Hysteria In India-Pakistan, The Coalition On Nuclear Disarmament And Peace________29 Shinde On Hindutva Terror: Terminological Confusions, Ram Puniyani________30 We Remember Gujarat 2002. And We Know You’re Lying About Development., Nivedita Menon________33 Questions For Mr. Nilekani, S. G. Vombatkere________37 Cast In A Bankrupt Image: Stealing Health And Wealth In India, Colin Todhunter________38 Four Statements On The Execution Of Afzal Guru, Shivam Vij________41 Throttling Freedom In Kashmir After Hanging Afzal, People’s Union For Democratic Rights_________42 Corruption as Empowerment?, Praful Bidwai__________44 Tell The Nation The Truth On KKNPP, The Struggle Committee, The People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy________46 Mining In Karlapat Will Bring Disaster To Nature & Climate, Lok Shakti Abhiyan 47 Tehri Dam Oustees Languish For The Basic Amenities, Vimalbhai And Puran Singh Rana________48 All India Protest Day In Support Of Maruti Suzuki Workers, By Maruti Suzuki Workers Union (Provisonal Working Committee)________ 49 Why The Parliament Should Reject The Standing Committee’s Recommendations On The Food Security Bill, Statement By The Right To Food Campaign________51 Why We Oppose The Rush To Cash Transfers And UID, Statement Endorsed By The NAPM And Signed By More Than 200 Civil Society Activists And Academics________54
Upcoming Events________56 News________57
CLIFTON D’ROZARIO, SR DARAPURI, JOE ATHIALY, MADHURESH KUMAR, MUKTA SRIVASTAVA, RAHUL PANDEY, SURABHI AGARWAL ADVISORY TEAM:
AJIT SAHI, ARUNA ROY, SISTER CELIA, GARBRIELE DIETRICH, MEDHA PATKAR, NEELABH MISHRA, SR SUNITI, SANDEEP PANDEY, TRILOCHAN SASTRY, SG VOMBATKERE PUBLISHER:
Cover Photo: Javed Iqbal
Cover Story THIS PARTICIPATORY DEMOCRACY SHALL NOT BE TELEVISED By Javed Iqbal
Photos: Javed Iqbal
Over 10,000 people marched and blocked roads on New Year in Mumbai. They seemed to be almost invisible though they held a 10-day sit-in at Azad Maidan, as media coverage was parsimonious, perhaps because they represent no political party or ideology. What they want is a roof over their heads, a practical but, to a media fed on mega corruption scandals, a mundane ambition. The protests remained civilised as delegations politely marched into offices, and finally persuaded the state government to act, though it offered nothing in writing initially. So the protestors left Azad Maidan at the end of 10 days with token promises. Among the people they represent the reaction was one of muted disappointment, but the protesters have vowed to intensify the struggle in a way that neither the media nor the state can ignore in future: by occupying Mantralaya, Maharashtra’s administrative nerve centre. The genesis of their grievance goes back to 2004-2005, when the state government demolished over 80,000 homes. On January 1, the victims of that demolition drive
decided to march on Mantralaya to demand a right to housing under the Rajiv Gandhi Awas Yojana. This is the principal aim of the Ghar Bachao Ghar Banao Andolan, born in the slum of Mandala, in Govandi, but it has also taken up the cause of working class and middleclass people in their battle against controversial redevelopment projects. It exposed the Adarsh scam, and recently filed complaints against 15 judges and government officials involved in the Nyasagar Co-operative Housing society. The office of former chief minister Vilasrao Deshmukh had changed the status of a plot of land meant for the dispossessed, and handed it over to the judges. This is an impressive record but it becomes more impressive on a closer look. Most Andolan leaders have a day job. These are people who have become activists because there is no one else. The best leaders are often the product of crisis and for these people there couldn’t be a worse one than the threat of homelessness held out by Mumbai’s widespread slum demolition programme.
The crisis has thus become an occasion for a process of empowerment that could prove deeply subversive to Mumbai’s ruling class. Ambujwadi, born after 1995, is on the fringes of suburban Malad. It has no power, no access to clean water, and a history of petty crime, child trafficking and health problems. The “dadas” sell shanties to people for anywhere between Rs. 40,000 and Rs. 3,00,000.
group from Kanavaram Nagar that came to support the Kolis. He was released a few weeks later. Speaking about his time in jail, he said, “Police asked me why I come to support these Koli people even when they’re not my slum. Mein bola, ki jab police ki justice aur court ki justice fail ho gayi, toh janta ko haath uthana padta hai (I told them, when your justice, and justice from your courts fail, the people have to stand up).”
But the passing of the Rajiv (Gandhi) Awas Yojana has made a difference. It might eventually close down the parallel government of slum landlords who built illegal settlements by paying massive graft to local politicians, police and the municipality. Much of the credit should also go to the residents, however. “Jameel bhai, jab Ambujwadi mein demolition ho raha tha, sadak par 3,000 log aaye the bulldozer ke saamne. Toh abhi rally mein 5,000 kahan se aaye (when there was a demolition in Ambujwadi in May, there were 3,000 people on the roads before bulldozers. So how come there are 5,000 for the rally today?)” I asked Jameel Akhtar Sheik, 48, during the January protests. Jameel smiled, his neighbours around him laughed. The answer is simple: they organised. There was no Medha Patkar around, but she wasn’t needed. It was the local organisers who went to all the gallis, to every home, people such as Jameel bhai, Masood bhai, Rashida behen, Vijay bhai, Girija behen, Jagdish bhai. They are part of the core group of 56 people who have worked tirelessly for years in Ambujwadi. Their grassroots activity has at times threatened the power of landlords in the settlement. A few months ago, Maharashtra Navnirman Sena workers close to a slum landlord planted flags over one of the offices of the Ghar Bachao movement in Ambujwadi. Instantly, hundreds of residents surrounded the police station and demanded their removal. When local organisers of the Ghar Bachao movement are threatened by any of the slum landlords, who not only demand protection money to prevent demolition, but make money even after the BMC demolishes homes, these same organisers have galvanised group action that undermines their standing. Their beginnings could not be more unpromising. Jameel, for instance, is a tailor. He is also one of the main organisers in Ambujwadi. On May 28, 2011, he mobilised his own “army” to thwart a demolition by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation. Over 3,000 people stood before the police who eventually withdrew, along with a bulldozer, to loud cheers. Two days later Jameel was halfway across town to help thwart a demolition in Sion Koliwada, an agitation against Sahana Developers. This time he lay down before the bulldozers and was arrested and sent to prison along with 25 other women, half from Sion Koliwada and another
The movement for the right to housing in Mumbai goes back to a time when it was still Bombay. Think-tanks like the BMW Guggenheim lab, busy envisaging a new city, overlook one fact when they produce pearls of wisdom like “The city is exploding, we may need to think of limiting people coming to Mumbai from outside.” The people are already here, they’ve been here for a long time. A majority have already had homes demolished repeatedly and they continue to rebuild. Many of them were here long before the think-tanks, but they are being kicked out of their homes and shoved to the outskirts through a process of gentrification that is a lot more violent and arbitrary than is mentioned in public. The class character of the Ghar Bachao Ghar Banao Andolan is an indication that it’s not just migrants who are facing eviction and social apartheid. The victims include working class and middle class Maharashtrians and Kolis, the original inhabitants of Mumbai, who live in a village built by the British over 70 years ago, after their lands were expropriated to build this city the “Marathi manoos” claim as their own. Mumbai’s slums are not homogenous and nor is the movement for housing. It is more like a series of movements, independent yet linked through its leaders. The Andolan has thrown up all sorts, young women with MBAs, housewives, boys who are science students, school dropouts and taporis, or even those who top their exams studying during demolition drives. There are rag-pickers, small businessmen, auto-rickshaw drivers, government clerks, railway employees, physical trainers, full-time activists, teachers, tailors, fisher-folk, students, informal
labourers, artists, aspiring plumbers and the unemployed.
the English press. There wasn’t a single cameraman present when MLA Abu Azmi arrived at Azad Maidan where his constituents had been protesting for the past week. What ensued over the next two hours was a tragicomedy of epic democratic proportions. The matter of Ganpath Patil Nagar, a slum on the fringes of Dahisar on mangrove land was taken up by the movement when residents came to Azad Maidan muttering about an impending demolition on January 10. The demolition took place. Over 200 homes were torn down even as representatives of the slum and the movement met officials to try and come to an agreement, with residents asking for a proper survey of the slum and pleading that homes that existed before 2005 remain. A few mainstream newspapers ran front-page articles, mostly praising the administration for their action.
This protest and that one The whole of India, at least on television channels, seems to be swept up in wave after wave of protest over every imaginable issue. But here in Mumbai they still have a sense of focus, a purpose that has kept them going for so many years. They’re still talking about the same thing and they are quite irreverent about the others and their concerns. “Who brought that poster of Gandhi in the rally?” “We should’ve had Bhagat Singh.” “Why is Ambedkar’s poster smaller than Gandhi’s?” said the younger organisers of the Andolan. The radical element in the Andolan grumbles under its breath when Anna Hazare is on the podium. ‘You know his first question when he was told about the Andolan? How many people are there?” said an organiser. “Not what is the issue, not what we’re fighting for, but how many people are there?” When invited India Against Corruption activists, who were never present during a demolition, gave speeches, the lack of connection was clearer. The speech was followed by a song, ‘Gaddar’, that took apart everyone from Advani to Modi, to Sonia Gandhi and spoke of years of loot and the suffering of the poor. The crowd of mostly daily wage labourers seemed highly amused. Anna Hazare came with an army of pressmen and presswomen, taking up massive amounts of space in front of the once empty podium. During the press conference no one asked a single question about the slum rehabilitation scams or the Awas Yojana. The interviewers asked about the Delhi gang rape, the Maharashtra irrigation scam and Anna’s own anti-corruption movement. Hazare had to plead, “Basti ke baare mein mujhe poocho (ask me about the slums).” As he left, so did the media. The first two days of the protest had a few articles in mainstream English newspapers while some of the regional newspapers carried front page stories. The next eight days and the final agreement with the government weren’t present in any of
“All that land in Bombay is ours,” says 23-year-old Kiran Keny. “Just beyond Wadala Bridge, Bombay Port Trust Road, that land belonged to my great grandfather and the great grandfathers of most of the people here.” He comes from Sion Koliwada, and is a third-year commerce student in the Welfare Society College. Kiran is a Koli Adivasi, part of the original inhabitants of Mumbai, fisher-folk now fighting the builder Sahana Developers. His father, who worked in the pharmaceutical industry, died in 2000 of liver cirrhosis, leaving Kiran under the care of his working mother and his older brother. He started by carrying documents to the office of the lawyers fighting their case. There he watched affidavits being prepared, strategies, complaints, and letters to the police and the administration being drafted. He noticed that the lawyers were over-burdened by cases from slums across Mumbai, each facing a builder lobby, or demolition threats, or false cases registered by police. “I was a little educated, and little by little the lawyers would send me to listen to different matters and other people’s issues,” he said. “They think I should take up law after this. Nowadays I don’t have time to study commerce.” In Sion Koliwada most of the opponents of demolition are young, some still in school, some in college, some in their first jobs. They are getting their first taste of the long walk through the corridors of power – corporates, mantralaya, courts. Their ideas of nation and of democracy are changing. “I know now, we never have been a democracy, and I don’t think we ever will be,” Kiran says. He is in the same age group as Prathamesh who documents the struggle of his people on video camera, who filed a complaint against the police when they tried to snatch his camera, and who called up and yelled at the officer who abused his mother during a demolition drive. Dhiren is another contemporary who went on hunger strike during the January protest. Kiran is a little older than Frank who was beaten by police when he tried to stop them from hitting his father. He is the same age as Mahesh, whose passion for history tells him Bal Thackeray was no hero to
the Kolis. He betrayed them 20 years ago, when Sion Koliwada railway station became Guru Tegh Bahadur Nagar. “My father told me how all the Kolis had gone to meet Thackeray to stop the changing of the station, and Thackeray told the delegation it was all sorted. A few days later, the name was changed.’ In December 2012, there was a meeting in Sion Koliwada where residents who had gone to Sena Bhavan said the Shiv Sena and Uddhav Thackeray might be able “to straighten the builder out”. For a few hours, they discussed the matter. Eventually, the residents refused to involve the Sena.“ We don’t want to be indebted to such a party,” said Kiran.
Anwari has come a long way since 2004, when she watched her home torn down. She picked up her baby and went to Delhi to confront the central government. She remembers vividly the day she met Sonia Gandhi in 2004, right after the Lok Sabha elections and the Congress victory. “Hum garib log ne aapko kursi par bithaya, Hum garib log ne aapko vote diya, aur aap humko bhul gaye (We poor people were the ones who put you in the seat of power, we voted for you, and now you have forgotten us)?” Anwari spoke boldly and Sonia Gandhi apparently had no response.
None of the protesters are looking for a free lunch, but their homes have been demolished and they want restitution. They won’t rest either until they get it. Jameel Akhtar summed it up during a speech at Prem Nagar in Goregaon after a demolition. ‘‘If the government is going to give land in Powai to the Hiranandanis (big builders) for 40 rupees per acre, we’re ready to give four hundred,” he said to massive cheering. One of the prevailing myths of the Rajiv Awas Yojana, and of shanties in Mumbai, is that residents get free housing. Yet in the case of illegal shanties, they have to pay a hefty sum to acquire a small corner without electricity, water or sanitation. There is no security either, as thousands of victims of demolitions discovered for themselves. Under the Awas Yojana they will pay the state a stipulated amount as rent, increasing its revenues and obliterating the parallel government that has existed, as the state abdicated from its responsibility to enforce the Right to Housing. “We want housing, a fixed house, and no one will sell them once they get it,” said a speaker at the January Azad Maidan rally. “Those who already have a house shall not get one.” This is the inspiration that has taken people like Anwari to places she could not have imagined otherwise. Originally from Assam, Anwari is a mother of 11. She lost her house in Mandala to the 2004-2005 demolitions. On May 30 2012, Anwari walked into a neighbouring 20home settlement, Mahatma Phule Nagar 2, between a highway and a railway line, being demolished by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC). She was helping to prevent the demolition drive, and to help the residents organise and join the movement that was born in her settlement in 2005. As the residents kept asking if there was any hope of a mention in the story I was writing about the demolition, Anwari was quick to assert that the media never stopped demolitions. “The only thing that has done anything is the Andolan (movement).”
“Hum thak bhi jaate hain (It can be tiring),” Anwari had told me in 2010, yet on the day of the march on January 1, with the euphoria of thousands marching down Shivaji Park Road in Dadar, she remembered the days of 2004 when the movement was in its strongest phase. There was a sense of nostalgia as she marched silently, yet like many of those who have been marching since 2004, there was a sense of foreboding as well. Her sons have at times berated her for being so involved with the movement. She has defended her position knowing that someone has to fight for a roof over their heads. When her MLA Abu Azmi came to Azad Maidan on the eighth day of the protest, a small woman walked on to the stage, picked up the microphone, stood over Azmi, and spoke with passion and growing anger: “In 2004 when our homes were broken down, when bulldozers dragged my home and pushed it into a ditch, into the filth, when my children, when my sister, when my brother were sitting in a line, Abu Azmi came, saw everything, and at the same time, met and sat with the dalaals and put khichdi in their hands. Our biggest enemies, the dalaals. We don’t need builders, no dalaals. We don’t need anyone. Our women sat in the water, in the cold, all night, and nobody helped us.”
“We go into their offices and say, ‘our slums have been demolished’, and your people say it’s not been declared a slum,” says Ram Bharadwaj of Mandala. “And when today we had a meeting with BMC they agreed that any slum on government land should be declared a slum and deserves electricity and water. “The government makes development plans, and in the plans our slums don’t exist. They’re little green spaces, empty plots. Because they just want to sell them to the builders,” Ram continued.
“I want to tell Mr. Azmi that our women have been on the streets till the first of January, with those brothers who work all day, those sisters who work at home all day, those labourers who build the buildings, those who pick the trash. Why are we, why are we sitting here?” she screams in anger. “Our fight is for a home, and no matter what, we will find a way to put roti on the table for our childen! You people come and take our votes, then after you win, where are you? So how do you come here? And what are we to you?”
Abu Azmi sat for over an hour, constantly reminded that people don’t care about identity politics. “We don’t want you to talk about politics,” said Sumit Wajale. “We want you to talk about our development.” When he finally was given the microphone to speak, Abu Azmi spent the first five minutes making excuses on why he wasn’t present for those eight days. He put the blame entirely on the administration, the “haramkhor”, as he said, who wouldn’t act unless there was a cut in it for them. The highlight of his speech came when he couldn’t say Rajiv Gandhi Awas Yojana, stammering, “Rajoov… Rajoov… jo… ya… Awas Yojana hai us ke liye mein khada hoon (I’m all for this scheme).” He left with a promise to lead a delegation to Mantralaya the next day. “How he lied,” said a few residents of Ambujwadi and Mandala.
Answering the people Abu Azmi of the Samajwadi Party swept the 2008 election after Raj Thackeray declared war on migrants from north India. Ward M, or Chembur East, a ghetto with one of the worst development indicators in the world—child mortality rate of 66 per 1,000 births and a life expectancy of 46— voted en masse for him. In 2004, 80,000 homes were demolished here, and not a single political party took notice. Over the years, the Samajwadi Party has become a parallel government as the state has declined to be responsible for water and housing. India voted for water as a human right in the United Nations, but the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation denies water to every slum that came into existence after 1995. Abu Azmi’s people started to provide water, charging residents around Rs. 20 for three cans of water, amounting to six litres. A water mafia was born. At the protest, he was greeted with an effigy that stated “Aamdaar lapata hai”, which was politely moved to the back when he showed up. A nervous Azmi sat on the podium surrounded by his constituents who listed the crimes of his party and his people. At times the speakers, assertively grabbed their attention: “Abhi aap dhyaan se suniye. (listen carefully now)”. The Samajwadi Party was accused of everything from running the water mafia, to absence during demolitions, corporators who kick people out of offices, abusing residents by saying, “Tum kaun ho mangne wale, tum kaun ho poochne wale (who are you to ask me these things)?”
The trail of postponed assurances goes back to November 24 2010, just after Prithviraj Chauhan became chief minister. He met a delegation from Golibar’s Ganesh Krupa Society who informed him about the impending demolition drive and the alleged forgeries and discrepancies in the project, such as grabbing defence ministry and railway lands. He passed a verbal order and the demolitions stopped. On January 20, 2011, the demolition resumed. Chauhan did not act. More houses were demolished that May, when the chief minister was in Delhi and unavailable. This provoked a hunger strike by an ageing Medha Patkar and numerous residents. It lasted nine days, and the demands included not just investigation into schemes run by the Slum Rehabilitation Authority (SRA) but also that 25 settlements be declared
slums under the Maharashtra Slums Act, 1971, granting them legal status. This gives them a right to water, electricity and sanitation, and implies that plans be made to implement the Rajiv Gandhi Awas Yojana for housing for the poor. Chauhan’s ministry formed an independent committee to look into the forgeries and discrepancies in 15 redevelopment projects, but changed tack when the builders and their supporters took the matter to the High Court. In pouring rain on June 28, 2011, some 5,000 people held a protest demanding that the government stay the course. But when Chauhan met them he expressed his bewilderment. Even the builders held their own public rally, he said, and he wasn’t sure whom or what to believe anymore. Unfortunately, recordings by a freelance filmmaker of the builder’s supporters didn’t reach the minister. In that footage they clearly didn’t know where in Golibar they lived, or stated that they came from Bharatnagar in Bandra East, a point the media too missed. Since then and once again, during another demolition drive in Ambevadi society in Golibar in August 2012, where the builder and the SRA wished to demolish homes on the premise that the building for the slum dwellers already existed (only on paper), again there was a verbal stay order on the demolition from the minister’s office. Yet on December 28, 2012, those houses were demolished and cases filed against residents who had merely asked the government to follow a High Court order that asked for rehabilitation buildings to be built first. Four days later, on New Year’s Day, they marched to Mantralaya. On the morning of the march, the first call I get is from Jameel who tells me 5,000 people have left Ambujwadi for Golibar to link up with another group, marching from Mankhurd. But for 5,000 to march 20 km from Malad to Golibar is no easy feat. So the organisers marched into Malad Railway station and took over two trains to reach Khar east, and marched into Golibar where the residents had prepared breakfast for 4,000 people. It took the marchers 20 minutes simply to enter Ganesh Krupa Society. Eventually the first group from Golibar and Ambujwadi marched from Khar to try and link up with the second group led by Medha Patkar from Mankhurd towards Mahim. They would eventually take over Kalanagar road and Shivaji Park road. “Hum garibon ne road banaya hai, baitho (we built the road, so sit)” they would say, as a visibly polite police tried their best not to irritate the massive crowd, and the organisers made room for cars to pass. The marchers moved without incident to Mahim Marchi Marh, where the second group eventually caught up with them. They would march to Shivaji Park and spend the night.
By 10.30 a.m. on January 2, they had marched from Shivaji Park, via Lalbaug, Byculla and Mohammed Ali road, to eventually be blocked by a contingent of police in front of CST station. They were not allowed to march to Mantralaya, and were asked to move to Azad Maidan. The crowd was restless. They had marched on June 28-29 2011, and been pushed into Azad Maidan. They wanted to march to Mantralaya this time. The organisers tried to pacify them saying Medha Patkar would speak to the chief minister’s personal assistant. A promise from the chief minister’s office to meet a delegation of 20 eventually convinced them to move to Azad Maidan. As it prepared to move towards Sehadri, the chief minister’s guest house, they were told he would only meet six. The delegation refused and returned to Azad Maidan. A visibly angry Jameel took the podium. “Forget the delegation,” he shouted, “it’s not just about the 20 people, if the government doesn’t take our demands, it won’t be 20 people, or even 20,000 people, but 50,000 will stand at their gates. “Sehadri is not far from us, nor is Mantralaya. The people here from their office, the dalaals, the builders people, why don’t you go, go to the guest house and tell them that we, the workers built the guest house, not you, and we will come there as it is ours too. “If they have the guts, tell those builders that those workers who make your homes, should get a house. If they have the guts, tell them that those who stitch your clothes should get a house. If they have the guts, tell them those who sell vegetables on the street or bring it to your house should get a house. Those who bring milk to your house should get a house!” Forged and falsified During the Azad Maidan protests I met an urban studies architect with one of the think-tanks pondering the shape of a new city, surrounded by people fighting the builder lobby and rehabilitation projects, many of which have extremely dubious backgrounds. “I met a man the other day who works as a forger with the builders,” he said casually. “Can you give me his name?” Silence. The forgers must be pretty busy because a petition by exinformation commissioner Shailesh Gandhi had cited 87 rehabilitation projects across Mumbai where the builder had been accused of forgery, grabbing public lands, and listing imaginary individuals to increase the number of free sale flats. These accusations related to the Slum Rehabilitation Authority projects whose residents marched to Mantralaya, from Golibar to Ramnagar. Shailesh Gandhi’s petition was argued in 2008. The AntiCorruption Bureau was moved to investigate the Slum Rehabilitation Authority, whose office suffered a convenient fire soon after. Finally, the petition has ended up with a high-powered committee in which slum-dwellers have little or no faith.
proceedings. Many protestors would go home and return by the afternoon and evening, but thousands like Amina Bi, who lived in Azad Maidan, were fed by collective kitchens started by the slums themselves. After the end of the protest she quietly walked on to the podium to meet Medha Patkar but she had already left. When Medha Patkar returned she saw that she was busy, and said, “Chodd do, badme milenge.” “Andolan toh karna padta hai (we have to protest),” she said as she quietly moved back to her space to prepare to go back to Ambujwadi, hoping that this time the movement would bring some relief.
Nor have the people who are supposedly committed to help them around at the crucial time. Local MLA Abu Azmi was notably absent from almost all the action, turning up only on the eighth day of the January protests. Imtiaz from Antop Hill, an RTI activist, who was once booked under the Prevention of Terrorism Act, reminded Abu Azmi that he should’ve been present when his constituency started to march, yet he showed up only eight days after the march when the protesters were sitting in Azad Maidan. “Or leave your chair, and leave your guest house! “We won’t tolerate any insults, we have been marching for two days, not for any political party or any dalaals, but for our rights, our right to a home. And our right to live. “Hamare liye, hamari mazdoori ke liye, hame kya milta hai (For us, for our labour, what do we get)?” “Yeh kursi walon ko elaan karna hoga, sadak banane wale sadak par chalenge, aur building banane wale building mein rahenge, aur tere baap ki jaagir Hindustan nahi hai (those in power should know, those who built the roads will walk on the roads, those who built the buildings shall live in buildings, and this country is not your father’s estate).” A few hours later, a few speeches later, when other organisers felt they should stay outside Sehadri and see how many people could fit inside, the government finally agreed to meet 15 representatives. They left in a police van for a 90-minute meeting with state home minister R R Patil and chief minister Prithviraj Chauhan. When they returned they had nothing in writing. They decided to stay until the Minister’s office committed itself on paper. Meanwhile, Jameel had found his three children and his wife, and slept in the open air of Azad Maidan. Amina Bi, 85, is from also from Ambujwadi. She stayed at Azad Maidan for the entire ten days of the sit-in. She sat in the front, covered herself in a blanket at night, screaming slogans, raising her fists, and laughing during the day’s
For ten days, the protesters tried to bring a government official to meet them at Azad Maidan and threatened them again and again with a march to Mantralaya. Each time it was postponed as different offices of the administration, either the BMC commissioner, the State Human Rights Commission, or the Water Department, offered the delegation time to meet. Every office of the government besides the chief minister’s was forthcoming. On the tenth day, a secret plan was made to send small groups of residents from all the slums to Mantralaya. Groups of 10 and 20 slowly started to leave Azad Maidan and quietly took a bus or a taxi towards Mantralaya. Within an hour almost 500 people had taken over the Mantralaya parking lot at Jeevan Bheema Marg, with a contingent of police negotiating with them. The police were surprisingly polite, requesting the organisers to send groups of 10 and 20 from the same slum up to the offices of the Mantralaya to deliver their applications for the Rajiv Gandhi Awas Yojana, and others from the SRA projects to deliver their complaints to R R Patil and to the chief minister. “Police bahut izzat dikha rahi hai (they’re showing us a lot of respect),” said Noorjahan of Malvani in Malad. At the end, hundreds of protestors delivered their applications without incident. They returned with a letter that promised the pilot project for Rajiv Gandhi Awas Yojana in Mandala, and the news that protests would end for the moment, but that if the government betrayed them again, then they would march again. “This is not a good end,” said Krishna Nair of Golibar, who felt that they could’ve stayed on for a few more days and got a concrete decision on the SRA scams as well. Yet he was satisfied when others promised him that they would march again if necessary. Postscript Eight days after the end of the agitation, on January 18, as the government started making preliminary enquiries into the SRA projects, private security personnel allegedly hired by a builder entered Ambevadi society of Golibar and started an argument with the residents which led to a violent confrontation; two women had to be hospitalised
after the clashes. The residents managed to capture one of the henchmen and locked him up for the police to come and take his testimony. The police, however, threatened to charge the residents with kidnapping, which led to further altercations between the residents and the police.
It was then that Krishna Nair reached Budh Vihar and managed to negotiate a compromise between the police and the residents. He took the “henchman” to the hospital and managed to get his testimony collected by the police. A few hours later he was furious,“Yeh saale haraami police log mere par rioting ka case daalne wale hain. (These corrupt bastards are going to book me in a case of rioting).” Next day the private security firm entered Ambevadi again, with police protection, and this time beat up resident Pradeep More, who was later arrested by the police. The residents resorted to a relay hunger strike after there was no response from the government to their complaints against the private security firm and the police. There had been zero media reaction to these events at the time of going to press. (Javed Iqbal is a freelance journalist based in Mumbai. This article appeared in the February 2013 issue of Fountain Ink magazine.)
___________________________________________________________ THE BRICKS OF A RIGHT TO A HOME Profiles of some Ghar Bachao Ghar Banao Andolan organisers by Javed Iqbal. Santosh Thorat – Annabhau Sathe Nagar, Mankhurd
anxieties of the 2004-05 demolition drives, Santosh met the senior inspector and begged him to leave his house alone. He told Santosh not to worry. They sent him to another part of the slum, and when Santosh returned, he found that not only was his house demolished, but that the police had also levelled the house of a family whose two children were still in their home, hiding in fear. They had survived, as they were hiding under their beds, but Thorat took a decision that day that led him to become a key protester in Annabhau Sathe Nagar, the first to scream, ‘“Inquilab Zindabad”, and sing songs of social transformation at every protest in the next nine years.
Photos: Javed Iqbal
In 2004, Santosh Thorat was just weeks from becoming a regular in the police force. He was part of the police party sent with bulldozers to demolish his own settlement of Annabhau Sathe Nagar. He belongs to the same caste as Annabhau Sathe, Matang/Mang Dalit, social reformer, communist, novelist (he wrote over 35 novels in Marathi), who died in the destitution that Santosh was born into. Through the
“Bahut gaali diya woh din, (I abused them a lot that day),” he said. “And I knew there was no turning back after that.” In 2007, Santosh led his people to block the highway at Mankhurd to ensure they had access to clean water. For years, people used to dig wells very close to the dumping grounds of Deonar and sickness was rampant during the monsoons. A pipeline used to run parallel to the basti, and while there was one that led to Annabhau Sathe Nagar, it wasn’t connected by the municipality. “Rasta rokne ke baad, policewale sab aa gaye the, (after we blocked off the road, all the policemen showed up),” said Santosh.
The municipality assured them that they would connect the two pipes for water within eight days—they did that in six. On May 14, 2010, the bulldozers demolished an estimated 500 homes in Annabhau Sathe Nagar.
you think you can find us some Naxalites?” he asked, right across the face of the police officer. The policeman was shocked. I erupted into laughter. “Krishna bhai, if Naxalites come to Golibar, the first person they will kill is you. They don’t like competition,” I said.
Krishna Nair – Golibar, Jawahar Nagar, Khar Uday Mohite – Bheem Chhayya, Vikhroli Uday Mohite was 16 when he first came to Bombay in 1992 but returned to his home in Dahivali-Budruk village in Ratnagiri district due to the fear and violence of the riots. A Matang/Mang dalit, his parents were daily wage labourers and he remembers growing up eating mango skin with chilli powder. “The Hindus used to throw rotis at us after we worked for them.” “Humne wada liya ki hum izzat ki roti hi khayenge (I took a vow that I would keep my self-respect as I earned my bread).”
Krishna Nair, son of a trade unionist, a chartered accountant by profession, teetotaller and Shiv Sena worker sums up the country in one sentence: “Ghotala hi ghotala hi ghotala” (scam after scam after scam.)
He returned to Mumbai in 1994. He worked in a small factory earning Rs.650 a month, and also as a manual scavenger in private buildings across the Ghatkopar area. “I used to throw up doing that work, with all that shit.” In 1997, he started to drive an auto rickshaw. He continues to do so today, now owning his own vehicle.
“My brother Ashok was a bank robber. He was caught in Yawatmal district, and brought dead to Mumbai,” said Krishna, at a rally held against builders in Golibar, Khar, during a demolition drive two years ago. “My brother stole some five or six crores and they gave him such swift justice, but the powerful who steal 3,000 crores or one lakh crore really just get away with it?” Krishna lives in Jawahar Nagar and has a front seat in the agitation against builders Shivalik Ventures and Unitech Group in Golibar. Like many others in Golibar, he watches how scam follows scam and is reported in the media, but the fraud destroying the homes of his friends doesn’t seem to arouse much indignation. Krishna often speaks about ghettoisation in Mumbai. In rallies he repeatedly mentions how working class people will eventually have to move out of the city, owing to the rising costs of maintaining a home. He is convinced it is an attempt to turn what was once a working class city whose political actions can challenge the financial edifice into a city for the upper classes. “Javed bhai,” he once turned to me in Nirmal Nagar police station, across a police officer sitting between us, on a day the supporters of the builder and protesters had a violent confrontation. "You went to all these Naxalite areas to report, right? With all these corrupt people and builders getting away with it,
On November 19, 2011, a demolition drive in his settlement of Bheem Chhaya claimed the life of his 14month-old son Jayesh who fell and drowned in a ditch. He went on a hunger strike for 19 days demanding justice against the officers of both the BMC and the police for negligible homicide. On the first death anniversary of his son, while plans were being made by the Andolan to march to Mantralaya, Uday was alone and anxious as his wife was in hospital expecting a child. A 3.4 kg baby was born on January 4, the fourth day of the protest. The next day, as residents from over 18 slums were on relay hunger strike on the podium, an extremely happy Uday Mohite was distributing sweets to
friends and supporters of the movement, while the crowd and other organisers thought people were cheating on the hunger strike. In Bheem Chhaya, where residents have been living in the marshes, the battle for Rajiv Gandhi Awas Yojana is also an internal battle, as Uday was confronted with people who lived in MHADA flats who started to move into the slum to get another home for themselves, in case of a victory for the Ghar Bachao movement. These confrontations between him and the “dalaals” have been taking place for years now, with one even trying to frame him in a case of attempt to murder.
She got her first taste of jail on January 25, 2011, for a week on charges ranging from attempt to murder to rioting, and then again on May 30 2012, when she was dragged away by police during a protest against a demolition drive. She was in jail for the next 14 days. Most charges concerned rioting, unlawful assembly and “causing hurt to a public servant”. Madhuri Shivkar had been lying down, hands locked with the women of Sion Koliwada in front of a bulldozer and an approaching police contingent.
“After the death of my son,” he said, “we formed women’s committees to deal with all the problems in the area. We’re only standing for those who have no house of their own. “I get tired, though, sometimes,” he says, “I want to just get into Mantralaya even if they martyr us. We have worked really hard for the movement now, for respect, and this poverty is no life for any of us.” “Annabhau Sathe used to say, ‘Yeh azaadi jhooti, desh ki janta bhooki hai (this independence is a deceit, the people remain hungry)’.” Madhuri Shivkar – Sion Koliwada Madhuri Shivkar, 28, is one of the leaders in Sion Koliwada. A graduate in zoology from Ruia College, she worked in a consultancy firm from 2006 till 2009 as an assistant in the revenue accounting department. She lost both parents by the time she was nine, and was brought up by her grandmother and older sister in Sion Koliwada. In September 2010, when the first eviction notices started to appear in Koliwada, the residents and Madhuri turned their attention towards Golibar, after TV9 reported how a demolition was defeated by protesting residents and the intervention of the Chief Minister. Madhuri and the residents visited Golibar and met both the local leaders and leaders of the Andolan. She would soon find herself first at the forefront of the agitation in Golibar against Shivalik Ventures and a few weeks later, when the demolition crews came to their village as well.
“The builder’s lawyer asked our lawyer what we wanted,” she says a few months later. “Our lawyer told them, our clients went to jail, now yours have to go too.” Madhuri ensured the formation of a 15-member core team in Sion Koliwada where the oldest person is 38-year old Rajesh Koli. “Senior log thode thakele hote hai (seniors are usually a bit tired),” she laughs. “They are pessimistic at times and keep thinking about compromises. I know our young people, we’re stronger, and we won’t just give up like this. “I am working full time in the movement now. I may be new to it, but I know we have a long way to go. There is too much injustice in the city.” (This article appeared in the February 2013 issue of Fountain Ink magazine.)
“It was being with them that taught us how valuable documents were,” she said. “And they trained us in a way no educational institution can.”
Photo: Nilanjana Roy (nilanjanaroy.com)
DEATH PENALTY IS NOT THE SOLUTION Submission to Justice Verma by Women’s and Progressive Groups and Individuals Condemning Sexual Violence and Opposing Death Penalty.
On 16 December, 2012, a 23-year old woman and her friend hailed a bus at a crossing in South Delhi. In the bus, they were both brutally attacked by a group of men who claimed to be out on a ‘joy-ride’. The woman was gang raped and the man beaten up; after several hours, they were both stripped and dumped on the road. We, the undersigned, women’s, students’ and progressive groups and concerned citizens from around the country, are outraged at this incident and, in very strong terms, condemn the gang rape and the physical and sexual assault. As our protests spill over to the streets all across the country, our demands for justice are strengthened by knowing that there are countless others who share this anger. We assert that rape and other forms of sexual violence are not just a women’s issue, but a political one that should concern every citizen. We strongly demand that justice is done in this and all other cases and the perpetrators are punished. This incident is not an isolated one; sexual assault occurs
with frightening regularity in this country. Adivasi and dalit women and those working in the unorganised sector, women with disabilities, hijras, kothis, transgender people and sex workers are especially targeted with impunity – it is well known that the complaints of sexual assault they file are simply disregarded. We urge that the wheels of justice turn not only to incidents such as the Delhi bus case, but to the epidemic of sexual violence that threatens all of us. We need to evolve punishments that act as true deterrents to the very large number of men who commit these crimes. Our stance is not anti-punishment but against the State executing the death penalty. The fact that cases of rape have a conviction rate of as low as 26% shows that perpetrators of sexual violence enjoy a high degree of impunity, including being freed of charges. Silent witnesses to everyday forms of sexual assault such as leering, groping, passing comments, stalking and whistling are equally responsible for rape being embedded in our culture and hence being so prevalent today. We, therefore, also condemn the culture of silence and tolerance for sexual assault and the culture of valorising this kind of violence.
We also reject voices that are ready to imprison and control women and girls under the garb of ‘safety’, instead of ensuring their freedom as equal participants in society and their right to a life free of perpetual threats of sexual assault, both inside and outside their homes. In cases (like this) which have led to a huge public outcry all across the country, and where the perpetrators have been caught, we hope that justice will be speedily served and they will be convicted for the ghastly acts that they have committed. However, our vision of this justice does not include death penalty, which is neither a deterrent nor an effective or ethical response to these acts of sexual violence. We are opposed to it for the following reasons:
We recognise that every human being has a right to life. Our rage cannot give way to what are, in no uncertain terms, new cycles of violence. We refuse to deem ‘legitimate’ any act of violence that would give the State the right to take life in our names. Justice meted by the State cannot bypass complex sociopolitical questions of violence against women by punishing rapists by death. Death penalty is often used to distract attention away from the real issue – it changes nothing but becomes a tool in the hands of the State to further exert its power over its citizens. A huge set of changes are required in the system to end the widespread and daily culture of rape. There is no evidence to suggest that the death penalty acts as a deterrent to rape. Available data shows that there is a low rate of conviction in rape cases and a strong possibility that the death penalty would lower this conviction rate even further as it is awarded only under the ‘rarest of rare’ circumstances. The most important factor that can act as a deterrent is the certainty of punishment, rather than the severity of its form. As seen in countries like the US, men from minority communities make up a disproportionate number of death row inmates. In the context of India, a review of crimes that warrant capital punishment reveals the discriminatory way in which such laws are selectively and arbitrarily applied to disadvantaged communities, religious and ethnic minorities. This is a real and major concern, as the possibility of differential consequences for the same crime is injustice in itself. The logic of awarding death penalty to rapists is based on the belief that rape is a fate worse than death. Patriarchal notions of ‘honour’ lead us to believe that rape is the worst thing that can happen to a woman. There is a need to strongly challenge this stereotype of the ‘destroyed’ woman who loses her honour and who has no place in society after she has been sexually assaulted. We believe that rape is tool of patriarchy, an act of violence, and has nothing to do with morality, character or behaviour.
An overwhelming number of women are sexually assaulted by people known to them, and often include near or distant family, friends and partners. Who will be able to face the psychological and social trauma of having reported against their own relatives? Would marital rape (currently not recognised by law), even conceptually, ever be looked at through the same retributive prism?
The State often reserves for itself the ‘right to kill’ — through the armed forces, the paramilitary and the police. We cannot forget the torture, rape and murder of Thangjam Manorama by the Assam Rifles in Manipur in 2004 or the abduction, gang rape and murder of Neelofar and Aasiya of Shopian (Kashmir) in 2009. Giving more powers to the State, whether arming the police and giving them the right to shoot at sight or awarding capital punishment, is not a viable solution to lessen the incidence of crime.
Furthermore, with death penalty at stake, the ‘guardians of the law’ will make sure that no complaints against them get registered and they will go to any length to make sure that justice does not see the light of day. The ordeal of Soni Sori, who had been tortured in police custody last year, still continues her fight from inside a prison in Chattisgarh, in spite of widespread publicity around her torture.
As we know, in cases of sexual assault where the perpetrator is in a position of power (such as in cases of custodial rape or caste and communal violence), conviction is notoriously difficult. The death penalty, for reasons that have already been mentioned, would make conviction next to impossible.
We, the undersigned, demand the following:
Greater dignity, equality, autonomy and rights for women and girls from a society that should stop questioning and policing their actions at every step.
Immediate relief in terms of legal, medical, financial and psychological assistance and long-term rehabilitation measures must be provided to survivors of sexual assault.
Provision of improved infrastructure to make cities safer for women, including well-lit pavements and bus stops, help-lines and emergency services.
Effective registration, monitoring and regulation of transport services (whether public, private or contractual) to make them safe, accessible and available to all.
Compulsory courses within the training curriculum on gender sensitisation for all personnel employed and engaged by the State in its various institutions, including the police.
That the police do its duty to ensure that public spaces are free from harassment, molestation and assault. This means that they themselves have to stop sexually assaulting women who come to make complaints. They have to register all FIRs and attend to complaints. CCTV cameras should be set up in all police stations and swift action must be taken against errant police personnel.
Immediate setting up of fast track courts for rape and other forms of sexual violence all across the country. State governments should operationalise their creation on a priority basis. Sentencing should be done within a period of six months.
The National Commission for Women has time and again proved itself to be an institution that works against the interests of women. NCW’s inability to fulfil its mandate of addressing issues of violence against women, the problematic nature of the statements made by the Chairperson and its sheer inertia in many serious situations warrants that the NCW role be reviewed and audited as soon as possible.
The State acknowledges the reality of custodial violence against women in many parts of the country, especially in Kashmir, North-East and Chhattisgarh. There are several pending cases and immediate action should be taken by the government to punish the guilty and to ensure that these incidents of violence are not allowed to be repeated. Regarding the Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill 2012, women’s groups have already submitted detailed recommendations to the Home Ministry. We strongly underline that the Bill must not be passed in its current
Photo: Nilanjana Roy (nilanjanaroy.com)
form because of its many serious loopholes and lacuna. Some points: - There has been no amendment to the flawed definition of consent under Sec 375IPC and this has worked against the interest of justice for women. - The formulation of the crime of sexual assault as gender neutral makes the identity of the perpetrator/accused also gender neutral. We demand that the definition of perpetrator be gender-specific and limited to men. Sexual violence also targets transgender people and legal reform must address this. - In its current form, the Bill does not recognise the structural and graded nature of sexual assault, based on concepts of hurt, harm, injury, humiliation and degradation. The Bill also does not use well-established categories of sexual assault, aggravated sexual assault and sexual offences. - It does not mention sexual assault by security forces as a specific category of aggravated sexual assault. We strongly recommend the inclusion of perpetration of sexual assault by security forces under Sec 376(2). (Endorsed by over 900 groups and individuals including: Citizens’ Collective against Sexual Assault (CCSA); Purnima, Nirantar, New Delhi; Sandhya Gokhale, Forum Against Oppression of Women, Bombay; Deepti, Saheli, Delhi; Mary John, Centre for Women’s Development Studies (CWDS), New Delhi; Jagori, Delhi; Vimochana, Bangalore; Lokesh, Stree Mukti Sanghathan, Delhi; Madhya Pradesh Mahila Manch; Maitreyi Gupta, Lawyers Collective, New Delhi)
TO PREVENT RAPE, FIGHT MASCULINITY By Praful Bidwai
One month on, public outrage at the gang rape and barbaric brutalisation of a 23-year-old physiotherapy student in Delhi, causing her death, refuses to die down. Among the factors driving it are the recent crassly misogynist comments on it, and the deplorable deception of the Delhi government, which moved her against sound judgement to Singapore, and stealthily flew home her dead body and had it secretly cremated. The episode has produced three main reactions. The first is to demand more stringent punishment for rape, such as hanging or chemical castration. The second seeks to protect women paternalistically by forcing them to dress ‘soberly’, running special buses, installing more CCTV cameras, banning cell phone use, and bizarrely in Puducherry (Pondicherry), making them wear overcoats. The third, and crassest, reaction comes from officials, politicians – especially of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Jamaate-Islami, but also the Congress and Samajwadi Party – and so-called spiritual leaders like Asaram Bapu. This reaction blames the victim by accusing her of having crossed ‘red-lines’ such as not going out at night, or says the victim wouldn’t have been raped had she chanted sacred mantras or entreated the assailants to treat her like their sister (Bapu). RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat contends that rapes are alien to rural, traditional ‘Bharat’ and only occur in westernised, urban ‘India’, and that marriage is a ‘contract’ under which the wife is an obedient servant. This implicitly justifies domestic violence. The third reaction is rooted in the same patriarchal prejudices that generate a culture of violence against women, of which rape is a part. Rape has nothing to do with sex or sexual attraction – or else, 10-month or four-yearolds, as well as 23-year-old and 82-year-old women wouldn’t be raped regardless of their looks, attire or relationship with the aggressor. It’s absurd to think that mantras or appeals to a brotherly relationship can prevent rape, and that the student who lost her life to aggravated assault invited rape: “a mistake isn’t committed by only one side” (Bapu). Bhagwat’s Bharat-India contrast, based on a glorified notion of traditional society, is manifestly wrong. Analysis shows that 75 percent of all rape convictions in India between 1983 and 2009 were from rural India. Rape, especially of Dalit women, is a major instrument of caste oppression in village India. The third reaction obnoxiously rationalises rape. But the other two responses also fail to address the issue. Rape is about male power, aggression, violence and domination,
and a desire to humiliate a woman by violating her bodily integrity. Rape is an assertion of masculinity in a patriarchal society in which women are assigned a subordinate or inferior position. Masculinity is associated with traditionally ‘male’ traits such as boldness, manliness, bravery, muscularity, gallantry, machismo, stout-heartedness, robustness, being resolute, etc. As South Asian feminist-activist Kamla Bhasin says, “a woman is what a man is not...if men are expected to dominate and control, women must be submissive; if men are supposed to order, women have to take orders; if men are allowed to be hot-tempered, women have to be patient; and so on...if men dominate but women refuse to submit, ‘peace’ and ‘harmony’ will be disturbed.” This is Bhagwat’s marriage as ‘contract’ – an unequal peace, under which women are inferior. Unlike sex, masculinity is not a biological characteristic of men; nor is its opposite, femininity, genetically inherited by women. Both are social-cultural traits. As feminist theorist Ann Oakley puts it, “to be a man or a woman, a boy or a girl, is as much a function of dress, gesture, occupation, social network and personality as it is of possessing a particular set of genitals.” Most societies are patriarchal. Therefore, gender violence is universal. South Asian society is particularly patriarchal, and denies women agency and any identity other than that of a wife, mother, daughter or sister. All other women, as former Indian president Zail Singh said, are “bhog ki cheez” (objects of enjoyment). India privileges males to the extent of mass killing of female foetuses. Over the past century, 35 million women have gone missing – eliminated before birth. Discrimination against women is pervasive from cradle to grave. Girls will get less food, medical attention and access to education than boys. Most will never experience adolescence or discover their inner urges and true personalities. From girls, they suddenly become wives and mothers – and chattel slaves with no right to their own bodies. Rape is severely under-reported in India because of the stigma attached to it, thanks to the privileging of virginity and chastity. Rape is India’s fastest-growing crime. Its reported incidence increased 873 percent between 1971 and 2011, compared to 250 percent for murder since 1953. A major reason is that more and more women are getting educated and have jobs. Girls routinely top school-leaving examinations and compete with boys in professional courses. Women’s participation in India’s workforce has risen rapidly to 25 percent. This increase, and the independent identity and greater confidence acquired by
women, threaten masculinity and draw an insecurity-based violent reaction. Rape is one manifestation of this. Gang rape is especially disgusting because it involves public acts and a ‘sharing of the spoils’ by rowdy, brutish, hyper-masculine men intent on causing limitless injury and humiliation to a woman. It’s an abiding shame that gang rapes are growing rapidly in India. Rape in India isn’t an individual issue, but a social and political pathology – a part of pervasive gender violence. A woman is molested every 12 minutes, burnt for dowry every hour, and raped every 21 minutes. The demand for draconian penalties for rape lies in the belief that these would deter it. This is a call for revenge, not justice. The rowdy mobs that roamed Indian cities demanding revenge, with slogans like “You Rape, We Chop”, reproduced the same violence as the crime itself. Punishing rape, even gang rape, with death will not deter the crime, whose roots lie in male aggression and patriarchal violence. Apart from the numerous persuasive arguments that have been made against capital punishment – including its failure to deter, and its cruel, degrading nature – the death penalty for rape will only lead to more murders. Another knee-jerk reaction demands chemical castration of rapists. This is Taliban-style ‘justice’. But there are practical difficulties in injecting drugs that suppress the production of testosterone, which governs sexual functions including erection. Chemical castration is recommended in prostate cancer, but has serious side-effects, is easily reversible and needs monthly injections, and hence reliable follow-up.
But controlling men’s sexual urge through castration isn’t the answer: rape isn’t about sex, but about power and domination. Besides, no punishment in a civilised society can be cruel or inhuman: deploying modern science for castration is no better than Saudi Arabia’s use of sophisticated aseptic surgical techniques to chop off thieves’ hands. As the Indian Supreme Court has said, India doesn’t need a radically new rape law – speedier implementation is enough. However, we must criminalise marital rape, as 100 countries have done, and ban the abominable two-finger vaginal test by a doctor to determine if a rape victim is habituated to sexual intercourse. This is irrelevant to the crime. We must also secure a higher rate of convictions in rape than the existing 26 percent. But that calls for better policing and painstaking collection of evidence – as well as deep reflection on the kind of society we are. The various proposals made for protecting women through segregation, dress-codes, CCTVs, etc. involve branding and blaming them, while denying their independent identity. What we need is not less, but more, and healthy interaction between men and women, and boys and girls, so they can relate to each other with respect and affection and without aggression and violence. That’s the way to get rid of the scourge of masculinity and rape. (Praful Bidwai is a political analyst and commentator, a social science researcher, and an activist on issues of peace, global justice, human rights and environmental protection. This article appeared in the Pakistani newspaper The News.)
___________________________________________________________ COMPREHENSIVE ACTION AGAINST SEXUAL VIOLENCE NEEDED NAPM Statement on Rape
NAPM is shocked and dismayed by the rising wave of violence against women in our society which has been brought to the public conscience in a flash by the gang rape of a paramedical student by six drunken men driving around in a private transport bus in Delhi on December 16th 2012. We welcome the demonstrations against rape and the outrage against the long standing indifference of the administration and political forces in the country. NAPM also condemns the brutal police action against the youth who were protesting against the sexual violence on the streets of Delhi. There is an immediate need for stricter action against those responsible, take comprehensive
steps for making public spaces safer and greater sensitisation to the violence and rape within homes too. For reasons of the special circumstances of this particular case, it has awakened the public conscience much more than, say, the rape and murder of a thirteen years old school girl in Thooththukudi a few days later, the rape of a three years old by the husband of her nursery school director in Chennai, of the rape of a 78 years old village woman by a teenager, which were reported in the same week. The resonance was also much stronger than that in response to the desperate situation of Soni Sori, an adivasi school teacher, suffering outrageous violence in police
custody and jail in Chattisgarh. We are deeply moved by the will to live of the violated and severely injured young woman battling for life in Safdarjung hospital and we support her implicit statement that there is life after rape, even while we passionately desire to stop such crimes. Many of us working in people’s movements are struggling for total transformation of society, towards equality, social justice, human dignity and full participation in decision making but also fighting the remnants of feudalism, casteism as well as modernized forms of male chauvinism and sexism at all levels. We are all being influenced by the portrayal of women in the media, commodification by market and by the inbuilt injustice of the structures of the state and the existing social institutions, including the judiciary, the educational system and religious teachings and institutions. We hope the current waves of protests will lead to a greater awareness of the women's rights and see them as equal citizens and not an object of glorification, keepers of honour and bound in traditional roles. Rape is a manifestation of the continued existence of structures of patriarchy, caste and class. We are agonized by the question of how to stop rape effectively, but we are also filled with sorrow by the realization that many of the people in the angry demonstrations in Delhi, Mumbai and all over the country, are fiercely demanding the death penalty for rapists or chemical castration, assuming this will have the effect of deterrence. There is no evidence whatsoever that the death penalty lowers the crime rate. It has on the contrary been argued that the prospect of a death sentence would hamper the already low rate of convictions even more. Besides, crime statistics bear out that in over 90% of rape cases in our country, the perpetrator is known to the victim. The violence is not “out there” in the unknown, it is present in our own midst, in our families and communities, where we socialize our children within the straightjacket of a deeply patriarchal and casteist culture, aggravated by the growing class contradictions under neo-liberal capitalism and the devastation of nature, which destroys resource base and livelihoods in most brutal ways. One of the crucial lapses in our social setting is the virtual absence of the concept of consensual sex. Rape is so much taken for granted that marriage (and implicitly acceptance of marital rape) is a must. The recent recommendations of the former Chief Minister of Haryana to lower the age of marriage in order to curtail the gang-rapes in the state is a clear expression of this situation. Socializing young women and men into a life of mutual respect, including respect for their own and each other’s bodies, is a corner-stone of a new society. This also implies the need to end brutalization and trafficking of human beings, be they male, female or any other gender. We also strongly feel the need to
effectively dis-empower caste khap panchayats which enforce marriage within caste boundaries. The horrendous recent violence in Dharmapuri district of Tamil Nadu, which inflicted crores in loss of property and destruction of educational certificates on dalit families is an extraordinary example of pre-empting Dr. Ambedkar’s abolition of caste by inter-caste marriage, through large scale political violence from the side of a caste based party. Though this incident so far did not spark rape, it does have murderous implications, as witnessed by the recent murder of a dalit boy married to a Vanniyar girl, committed by her relatives. Some of the suggested measures, which government can do are the following :
The outrage against rape must be taken seriously by the State, the judiciary, the police and by all citizens. We condemn the use of teargas, water cannons and lathi charge against the demonstrators. Swift action and accurate registration of FIR, investigation and reliable resolution of rape cases through fast track courts. Policing women is not the solution. We endorse the slogan “Don’t rape!” instead of the warning to women “Don’t get raped!” Introduce safe and frequent public transport system and well-lit roads and bus-stops. Establish functioning help-lines, counseling, medical aid, trauma relief and all necessary support measures to safeguard life after rape and full re-habilitation of affected persons. Discouraging the sale and use of alcohol and drugs is crucial for curtailing the violence against women and for safeguarding food security and education of children. State liquor shops as a major source of revenue are unacceptable. Institute complaint committees on sexual harassment in the workplace in all institutions and enterprises and in tripartite boards of unorganized sector workers. Rape by police and security forces be included as a specific category of aggravated sexual assault under section 376(2) IPC. Persons with a confirmed record of assault on women cannot stand for public office or contest elections.
We also support the demands of women’s movements to modify the Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill 2012, to not pass it in its current form. While the victim of assault can be gender neutral, the perpetrator must be limited to men. We strongly oppose the gender neutrality clause for perpetrators under section 375 IPC. Lastly, we would like to mention that safety in public spaces is everybody's business and we all must come together to make public spaces safe for everyone, to live with dignity and honour.
ALCHEMIZING ANGER TO HOPE By Arvind Narrain The aftermath of the brutal rape of the 23-year-old medical student in Delhi has witnessed a persistent degrading of the public discourse. Having been subjected to crudely offensive remarks by members of the political establishment, right from belittling a serious movement for equality as led by ‘painted and dented ladies’ to ostensibly sympathetic responses which belittle women who have suffered a serious violation of their bodily integrity by describing them as nothing more than ‘zinda laash’ (living corpses), we finally have a document authored by a committee set up by the state which honours the victim. The Verma Committee report most fundamentally alters the public discourse on crimes against women by placing these crimes within the framework of the Indian Constitution and treating these offences as nothing less than an egregious violation of the right to live with dignity of all women. What is particularly moving and inspiring about the report is that it does so by placing the autonomy and indeed the sexual autonomy of women at the very centre of its discourse. It also offers us a rethinking of what is meant by the offence of rape. In the Committee’s thinking it is very important for Indian society and the state to move away from thinking of rape as a crime against honour and instead look at it as a serious violation of bodily integrity. In language that is seen perhaps for the first time in an official report, the Committee quotes a rape survivor. ‘Rape is horrible. But it is not horrible for all the reasons that have been drilled into the heads of Indian women…I reject the notion that my virtue is located in my vagina, just as I reject the notion that men’s brains are in their genitals.’ The discussion on rape is located in an understanding of women as full and equal citizens and it is intrinsic to the argument of the report that it is only by guaranteeing women full and equal rights that sexual violence can even be tackled. It is in this context that the Committee discusses the phenomenon of honour killing and concludes that it is the responsibility of the state to ensure that ‘choices made by men and women in respect of marriage’ will not be interfered with by institutions such as khap panchayats. While the Committee breaches the inner wall of patriarchy, especially by bringing marital rape within the ambit of rape, it is also equally successful in breaching the public patriarchy of the state. For far too long, the security forces in India have enjoyed complete impunity for crimes of sexual violence committed against women in situations of armed conflict. For the first time in history, the Committee has recognised that sexual violence against women committed by members of the armed forces must come within the purview of ordinary criminal law.
The Committee also introduces the notion of ‘command responsibility’ whereby a public servant in command, control or supervision of the armed forces or police would be held responsible for failure to exercise control over the actions of his subordinates resulting in rape or sexual assault. Here again the Committee breaches the code of impunity of the Indian state for sexual offences committed by its personnel. It has shown a sense of occasion by recognising that a historic moment such as this must be transformative for all. As such, it expressly suggests that the definition of those who could be affected by sexual assault should include both men as well as homosexual and transgender persons. It thus recommends that the law expressly protect all persons from rape and sexual assault. The jet of anger which emerged through the brutal rape in Delhi last month has through the work of the Committee been transmuted into an ever widening circle of empathy which includes children in juvenile facilities, trafficked women and children, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender persons, domestic workers, women in situations of armed conflict as well as women in violent marital relationships. The Committee through making recommendations for all these vulnerable groups has seized the moment and underlined the patriarchal ills of the Indian state and society. The fact that the report is based upon a historic articulation of hurt and harm suffered by Indian women emerges most poignantly through the articulation of the offence of rape which results in a persistent vegetative state for which the punishment is rigorous imprisonment of a minimum of 20 years going up to life. This recognition of an aggravated form of sexual assault is a tribute to Aruna Shanbaug, who was brutally raped and choked with a dog chain and is living in a persistent vegetative state for the past 36 years. The Committee has performed a fine balancing act of being sensitive to public opinion without allowing mere public sentiment to emerge as the arbiter of policy and law. In doing so, it resists the tendency of basing its recommendations on shifting notions of right and wrong and instead derives its recommendations from a constitutional morality. It has done an incredible job of transmuting pain and anger into an inspirational road map for the future. It is now up to civil society to ensure that the radical recommendations of the Committee are converted into reality. (Arvind Narrain is with the Alternative Law Forum, Bangalore. This article appeared in The Hindu. )
“THE IMPUNITY OF EVERY CITADEL IS INTACT” – THE TAMING OF THE VERMA COMMITTEE REPORT, AND SOME TROUBLING DOUBTS By Nivedita Menon
Legal activist Vrinda Grover said in the FeministsIndia elist about the Ordinance on Sexual Violence, 2013: “The impunity of every citadel is intact - family, marriage, public servants, army, police.” In effect, she said, the Ordinance is simply the pending Criminal Law Amendment Bill 2012, widely criticized by women’s organizations, which has been sneaked in as law without debate or consultation, in Parliament or outside. Feminists activists are rightly suspicious of the sudden sense of “emergency” that has gripped the government, when it has ignored our demands for criminal law reform on sexual violence for over twenty years. As has been widely reported now, hundreds of individual women’s movement activists and organizations from all over the country have called upon the President not to sign into law this Ordinance that makes a mockery of the recommendations of the Justice Verma Commission Report that was received with a sense of relief and acclaim by feminists in India. Despite these appeals, the President signed the Ordinance. The press release making this request to the President said: Information in the public domain, through media sources, reveals that an Ordinance on amendments to sexual assault law was cleared by the Cabinet yesterday, on February 1, 2013 – about 20 days before the next parliamentary session. We are alarmed at the complete lack of transparency displayed by the Government in proposing an Ordinance as an emergency measure. We wonder what objective and purpose will be served by such a hasty non-transparent measure – less than 3 weeks before the parliamentary session, since the proposed law will not retrospectively apply to the Delhi gang rape case. We demand transparency and due process in law making. We demand that the Parliamentary process, including the Standing Committee process be upheld, for this is the place where we, as citizens of this country, have the right to be heard.
The statement pointed out that virtually all the recommendations of the JVC Report that had been hailed as “signs of a paradigm shift” in understanding violence against women, had been dropped, that is: Recognition in law of marital rape, new provisions on the offence of breach of command responsibility, nonrequirement of sanction for prosecuting a member of the security forces accused of sexual assault and rape, provision for trying them under ordinary criminal law for sexual crimes; and change in definition of consent to any sexual act. .. Furthermore, the content of the Ordinance to our knowledge has introduced provisions that were strongly rejected by the Justice Verma Committee, including the death penalty.
It is revealing that the sanction for prosecuting members of security forces involved in sexual assault has been retained. Rape is not only about individual or private acts of misogynist violence; feminists have long been concerned with sexual violence as a weapon of war, and as part of a wider repertoire of race, communal and caste violence. In India, custodial sexual violence against women (by police and army) and the culpability and impunity of the state, has been addressed in significant ways. Large parts of the country are under effective army rule, the North-Eastern states and Kashmir in particular, being covered by the Armed Forces Special Powers Act. From time to time acts of sexual violence on women (activists as well as relatives of men suspected to be militants) are carried out by members of the Indian state’s armed forces. Many such instances come to the notice of democratic rights groups and feminists, and are investigated by them, and protested about in various ways. Many remain unknown. But for the women’s movement in India, the recognition of rape as a political weapon is a significant part of its politics. But what is the Indian state saying when it rejects the idea through this Ordinance that such cases should be tried under the criminal law of the land? Is the Indian state making it quite explicit that rape is a weapon of war, and that its coercive apparatus will continue to use it with no compunction? Two issues stand out in the conversation within the women’s movement – gender neutrality in rape law and marital rape. The statement is strongly critical of the provision of gender neutrality regarding the perpetrator of sexual assault, suggesting that both women and men could potentially be charged for the offence. The statement insists that “Rape as we know it is a crime largely defined as male violence against women, with absolutely no evidence of women as perpetrators. This is in disregard of the Justice Verma recommendations too, and is totally unacceptable.” The question of gender neutrality in law on sexual violence is the subject of sharp debate within feminist and queer groups in India. One important suggestion for rape law reform is to remove narrowly defined ‘rape’ (which is defined only as penile penetration of the vagina) and replace this with a series of degrees of ‘sexual assault’, the punishment increasing in severity with the degree of physical harm caused. As Flavia Agnes has pointed out, only in sexual assault is harm caused by a part of the human body considered to be more grievous than harm caused by a weapon. The reason why in patriarchal law, penile penetration of the vagina is considered more
grievous than penetration by say, an iron rod, is obvious. Rape is considered to be a harm against the honour of the woman’s family, and the purity of her womb. Only the penis can damage that purity in such a way that patrilineal succession is cast in doubt – all other damage is bearable, ideally, leading to the death of the raped woman. That would be most ideal from the point of view of the family. But once the definition of rape is expanded, gender neutrality of the perpetrator will have to be taken into account. As Rohini Hensman said in the FeministsIndia e-list while discussing the issue of gender neutrality: “My mind goes to little 10-year-old Sonu who was sexually tortured and killed by the women who employed her. So according to our definition, women can quite easily rape a child or another woman, although Sonu’s case would be covered by the new Child Sexual Abuse Act. In rare circumstances, like Abu Ghraib, women can even sexually assault men. In situations of mass violence like Gujarat, women can be part of the mob engaged in ‘criminal solicitation’ (the charge against those who cheered on the rapists in the film The Accused, which was based on a reallife gang-rape).” With the possible repeal of Section 377 on the cards, there is consensus among feminists ongender neutrality with regard to the victim, so that rapes of men, boys and hijras can be taken into account. Where the perpetrator is concerned, it is more complicated. The perpetrator is assumed to be generally male, but in cases of custodial rape or rape in the context of a clear power situation, gender neutrality is also being proposed by some feminists for the perpetrator. The JVC Report has considered separate types of sexual abuse/violence separately, such that in some kinds of sexual abuse the perpetrator can be gender neutral and in others, not. The suggestion of unqualified gender neutrality for the perpetrator of sexual violence is very contentious within the feminist perspective, as the statement above reveals. The fear is that gender neutrality with regard to the perpetrator except in clearly defined situations such as custody/authority, and with regard to child abuse, will only further make women the target of the law rather than offering them protection, given our overwhelmingly patriarchal and sexist context. The other question has to do with recognizing marital rape. Again, Rohini raised a question that has long troubled me – if a marriage is violent, that must be grounds for divorce, but what are we saying when we insist it be treated as a crime? Is it preferable for a woman to have a husband in prison than be divorced? Does the idea of marital rape as a crime in fact protect the institution of marriage? Rohini put it this way: “It is one thing to say that marital rape should be regarded as an act of domestic violence and should be grounds for divorce – that should be relatively non-controversial. But
given that marriage is a sexual relationship, should all cases of marital rape be punished with 7 years or more in jail? Consider the following scenario: A young woman and man are married off, and the same night she comes crying and complaining that her husband raped her. Should he be jailed for what is, from his point of view, merely consummating their marriage? Unless we are demanding very clearly that the state ensure that all marriages are consensual (are we? in which case, how?), then we can hardly demand that he should be jailed for years – that is simply inconsistent and unfair too. So we need to make it much clearer what we mean by ‘recognition of marital rape’ before we can argue for it convincingly.” Rohini’s comments point to the inherent violence of compulsory marriage that grounds our society. In other words, criminalizing marital rape rather than treating it as grounds for divorce may still leave “the impunity of the citadel” of marriage intact. In a related press release, sex workers’ organizations across the country (National Network of Sex Workers – India) too urged the President not to sign the Ordinance, raising a very crucial set of issues that have to do with criminalizing sex work. The statement strongly pointed out that ‘Trafficking of Persons’ was outside the purview of the specific terms of reference provided to the Justice Verma Commission in December 2012 and any recommendations relating to trafficking should not be included in the Ordinance: The proposed Section 370 incorporated in the Ordinance cleared by the cabinet, conflates trafficking of persons and those who consent to sex work. At the heart of the problem is the newly worded Section 370 of the Verma Commission, which has been accepted in totality by the Ordinance. The Section deals with the offence of Trafficking of a Person. The term “exploitation” includes “prostitution” itself. This in essence means that all “prostitution” will now be interpreted as exploitation. The Ordinance if accepted would criminalize people in sex work since the section does not differentiate between “coercive prostitution” and prostitution; nor does it talk about the “exploitation of prostitution“. The Verma Commission has wrongly interpreted the internationally recognized and existing explanation of exploitation (under the UN Protocol, 2000), which states “Exploitation shall include, at a minimum, the exploitation of the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation”. If the section is accepted, it would go against the commitment made by India which is a signatory to the Protocol and has ratified the UN Protocol in 2011. The inclusion of voluntary and consenting sex workers into the definition of exploitation puts back the struggle waged by sex worker communities across India to ensure dignity for people engaged in sex work. We are deeply concerned that this interpretation if accepted by the President of India will contradict the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India which has upheld the rights of women in sex
20 work observing that Article 21 grants them a right to live with dignity. If the section is accepted, it would go against the commitment made by India which is a signatory and has ratified the UN Protocol in 2011.
Feminism has for long seen prostitution as violence against women, and many feminists still do. However, a new understanding of the practice has emerged with the gradual politicization of people who engage in prostitution, and their voice becoming increasingly public. One of the key transformations that has come about because of this, is the emergence of the term sex work to replace ‘prostitution’.
The understanding behind this is that we need to demystify ‘sex’ – it is only the mystification of sex by both patriarchal discourses and feminists that makes sex work appear to be ‘a fate worse than death’. In fact, the preliminary findings of the first pan-India survey of sex-workers found that about 71 percent of them said they had entered the profession willingly. Hence the insistence of sex workers organizations on distinguishing between voluntary and coercive prostitution And to conclude, a useful document – a release from the Ministry of Home Affairs that tabulates the recommendations of the JVC Report that were accepted in part/in full/ or rejected.
JUSTICE VERMA COMMITTEE RECOMMENDATIONS ACCEPTED IN TOTO
ACCEPTED IN PART
INDIAN PENAL CODE (1860) Section 354: Sexual Assault and Punishment for Sexual Assault – Entirely accepted
Section 100: Right to Private Defence – Inclusion of an acid attack u/s 326A was accepted only and the rest proposed was already existing in the IPC
Section 376A: Sexual by husband upon his wife during separation –Verma Committee wanted to delete it. Was retained by MHA as marital rape was not agreed to.
Section 354 A: Assault or use of criminal force on woman with intent
Section 166A: Public Servant disobeying direction under law –Directions relating to crimes against women
Section 376B (1): Rape of an Underage Person –Not accepted as the
to disrobe her –Entirely Accepted
proposed to be made punishable upto only one year against the recommended five years as proposed by
provision is in conflict with the PCSOA, 2012
Justice Verma Committee. Rest accepted. Section 354 B: Voyeurism – Entirely accepted
Section 354 C (1): Stalking – Entirely accepted
Section 326A: Voluntarily causing grievous hurt through use of acid etc. –Female circumcision proposed
Section 376 B (2) Punishment for causing death or a persistent vegetative
was not accepted. – Compensation adequate to meet at least the medical expenses incurred by the victim was not
state in the course of committing rape of an underage person –Death penalty was
accepted. Rest was accepted
Section 326B: Volutarily throwing or attempting to throw acid etc. –Compensation adequate to meet at least the medical expenses incurred by the victim was not accepted. Rest was accepted
Section 376F: Offence of breach of Command Responsibility –Fixes vicarious criminal responsibility on the leader of a force for acts of subordinates. Not accepted.
Section 354 C (2) Punishment for Section 375 Rape –Gender Neutrality of the act was stalking –Definition entirely accepted not recommended which was not accepted by MHA.The Bill criminalises the sexual activities between 16 and 18 years which the Verma Committee did not agree.Verma Committee criminalises marital non-consensual sexual intercourse which is not accepted.Rest of the recommendations were accepted. Section 370 Trafficking of a Person –Entirely accepted
Section 376 (1) Punishment for Rape –Payment of compensation to the victim was dropped. Rest of the recommendation was accepted.
21 Section 370 A Employing a
Section 376 (2) Aggravated Rape –Payment of
Trafficked Person –Punishment
compensation to the victim was dropped. Rest of the
recommendation was accepted.
Section 376A (re-numbered as
Section 376 (3) Punishment for causing death or a
376B) Sexual intercourse by a Person
persistent vegetative state in the course of committing
in Authority –Accepted in full
rape –Death penalty was preferred by MHA. Rest of the recommendation were accepted.
Section 376C Gangrape – Accepted entirely
Section 376D Gangrape causing death or a persistent vegetative state shall be added:Death penalty was preferred by MHA. Rest of the recommendation were accepted.
Section 376E Punishment for Repeat Offenders –Accepted entirely Section 509:Repeal accepted as offences covered elsewhere
CRIMINAL PROCEDURE CODE 1973 Section 54A: Proviso to Section
Proviso to Section 154 Registration of an Offence –
Section 39(1) Clause (vb) –Compel
54A regarding identification of arrestee by a disabled person –
Provision to record evidence by police officer at the residence of the person reporting the offence.Mandatory
communication of information of offence relating to crimes against women to the
videographing was not agreed to and converted to optional.
nearest Magistrate –Not accepted as it is liable to be misused
Section 160:No male below 18
Section 164 (5)(a) and (6)(b) Recording Statement by a
Section 40A: Intimation by the
and above 65 years and woman or physically disabled shall be required
Magistrate –Special assistance for mentally or physically disabled persons to be given by Magistrate.Statement of
Panchayat member the communication of information of offence relating to
to attend a Police Station.
mentally or physically disabled person to be considered sufficient for examination-in-chief and cross
crimes against women to the nearest Magistrate –Not accepted as it is liable
examination.However mandatory videography not agreed
to be misused
to and changed to optional. Section 198B: Cognisance of an
Section 197(1) Sanction for
offence u/s 376(1) when persons are
Prosecution –No sanction would be
in marital relationship
required for prosecution of Judge or Magistrate or Public servant if accused of crimes against women.Not agreed to avoid false complaints
Proviso to Section 273: Recording of evidence of a victim below 18
Section 357(4) Compensation to victim –Payment of compensation of an
years –Victim will not be confronted
amount adequate to meet atleast the
by the accused. Accepted in full
medical expenses incurred by the victim. This is not acceptable as the compensation would be very low. The Bill has a better provision.
Section 327: Substitution of new offences defined for rape (376A,
22 376B, 376C, 376D) –Technical formality
THE INDIAN EVIDENCE ACT, 1872 Section 53A: Evidence of character of previous sexual experience not relevant in certain cases -Fully accepted Section 114A: Presumption as to the absence of consent in certain prosecution for sexual assault –Fully accepted Section 119: Dumb witness substituted by ‘persons who are unable to communicate verbally – Fully accepted Proviso in Section 146: Question regarding the moral character will not be put to the victim during cross examination –Fully accepted
ARMED FORCES (SPECIAL POWERS) ACT, 1958 Proviso to Section 6: No sanction would be required if the armed force personnel is accused of a crime against woman.
(Nivedita Menon is a feminist scholar and political theorist who has published widely in Indian and international academic journals. She is currently Reader in the Department of Political Science, University of Delhi. This article appears at kafila.org)
STORY UNTOLD, UNSAID, IGNORED …. By Chaitanya Pandey Once upon a time There was a country which I assumed to be mine But, now it’s racked up with filthy swines I went through so much agony that I could barely feel my intestines I wanted to just rise and shine But, they dint even let my life be mine They had no limit, they just crossed the line A rod on the back and there cracked my spine They behaved as if they were the kings And me, not even a human being My pure body now stinks And people say that if elected, equality is what I shall bring More than a hundred people and I was under their glare None helped they just stared My body was bleeding and bare None even had a simple shall to share
Yes I felt unequal, I felt unwanted I was astonished by the society in which I landed Unsafe? Oh yes, they blame it on destiny But, justice? Where and when will that be? They brought up all these monsters Who heinously rape I ask why you stare They tell me the reason is the clothes you wear It is an appeal, it is a request Please save your mothers, sisters, daughters and nieces Or they would also turn up like me being in pieces No offence but they do need leashes Could we get a change? Is there anyone I could trust? Can one get me justice? And see that the world doesn’t turn into ashes? (Chaitanya is a student of class 11.)
India-Pakistan Relations INDIA AND PAKISTAN: BETWEEN HAWKS AND PEACENIKS, IS THERE A MIDDLE PATH? By S.G. Vombatkere
The beheading and mutilation of the bodies of L/Nk Hemraj and L/Nk Sudarshan Singh by Pakistani soldiers on January 8, 2013, is yet another barbaric act by Pakistan's army, following several earlier ones [ Ref.1, Note 1. ]. It is not unlike the acts of medieval armies or armed raiders, whose aim was to strike terror into the hearts of people. However, if such is the intention of the Pakistani army, their latest barbaric act, far from striking terror or fear, is enraging the Indian public. This public anger and outrage is directed at both the Pakistani army and Pakistani government on the one hand and on the other, at the Indian government perceived as not reacting strongly enough. Ex-Servicemen who, of all Indians, are familiar with the actual ground conditions on the LOC (Line of Control) are livid, some demanding that India should respond with sharp military action short of war. There is a growing body of opinion, mostly held by veteran military officers and others with nationalist (Hindutva) pretensions that the military action has to be strong. That this may escalate into fullfledged war with the possibility of nuclear exchange does not cause this group any great trepidation. The Indian electronic media channels appear to be shaping public opinion towards very strong response by the Indian government. In this situation, Headlines Today TV channel hosted a program at 8PM on 10 January 2013, which was a debate moderated by Shashi Tharoor (Union Minister, no less), jointly sponsored by the Indian Debating Society and the Pakistani Debating Society, with the motion that civil society (as against government) was the most important player in bringing about peace between India and Pakistan. Arguing for the motion were (Indians) Kabir Bedi and Salman Haidar, and (Pakistanis) Salman Raja and Zulfikar Khan, while arguing against the motion were (Indians) Mani Shankar Aiyar and Shoma Chaudhuri and (Pakistanis) Javed Jabbar and NajamSethi. It was all very nice and genteel, all the speakers clearly making the point that both sides wanted peace, but steering clear of ground situations. The opinion of the 'house' comprising members of uppercrust, genteel society, was that arguments against the motion won the debate; that is, governments are the important players in peace-making. The Pakistani response to a warning by the Chairman, Chiefs of Staff Committee (CoSC), Air Chief Marshal
N.A.K.Browne, that India may exercise “other options”, was that Pakistan knows how to defend itself. The response was predictable, but its delivery by a relatively junior Pakistani military officer is a calculated slap on the face of the Indian military. There is a “peacenik” or “aman-ki-asha” point of view – which is not at all recent – that appears to sponsor a peace-at-any-cost solution. This solution appears to fit the traditional weak-kneed posture of the Indian establishment when it comes to facing threats from external forces. (Threats from inferior internal forces are readily dealt with using the wiles of a compromised bureaucracy and the physical force of a politicized police and an “obedient servant” military, to hammer the stuffing out of dissidents, opponents and militants). It is necessary to emphasize that the traditional weak-kneed posture is not peculiar to the present Union government nor to any particular political party which has guided, if that is the right word, the destiny of Independent India these past decades. The Pakistani establishment is strongly denying all accusations made from the Indian side, and in interviews held by Indian TV channels, retired Pakistani military officers and diplomats have successfully countered (by unconvincing bluster to Indian viewers but convincing to the international viewership) the program anchors' attempts to demonize Pakistan. They have succeeded in conveying that since both Indian and Pakistani sides are holding fast to their respective arguments and accusations, a “neutral” third party should investigate, thus internationalizing the Kashmir issue through the recent LOC violation. The belated Pakistani agreement for a flag meeting at the brigadier level is almost like making a concession. The purpose of the present article is to examine whether, for India, there can be a middle path between the demand for hairy-chested military response and the traditional and on-going weak-kneed approach of the Government of India. Also, whether Government of India can really get a sense of ground military situations without single point advice from its military, especially in light of the Pakistani establishment being in full knowledge of successive Union governments systematically disincentivising and demotivating the Indian military, and that the National Security Advisor is a bureaucrat. The point is, in what manner negotiations can proceed between India and Pakistan, when India is a
democratic State with necessary control over its military, and Pakistan is a military regime that directly or indirectly controls the State establishment. Pakistani mindset Over the decades, generations of Pakistani people have been fed an educational and information “diet” of blatant and subtle anti-India rhetoric along with aggressive interpretations of the Holy Quran to define Jehad. The Pakistani establishment, whether overtly civilian or military, has two characteristics, namely that the military always had the lead-role in national policy, and the clerical community always had authority of dictating what was “right” or “wrong” according to its interpretation of the Holy Quran. Further, whether the establishment was civilian (though always under the military shadow) or military, it was plainly anti-India, with special focus on Kashmir. Indeed, India was and is seen as the “enemy”, especially after 1971 when East Pakistan became independent Bangladesh and West Pakistan became simply Pakistan. [ Note 2 ]. The Pakistani establishment has been under military rule for 33 of its 65 years existence, with Presidents brought in by military coups ruling in the years 1958–1971, 1977– 1988 and 1999–2008. Today, Pakistan's military is that country's largest landowner, it owns and runs a Bank that has economic clout, and has serving and retired military officers in many key positions of power and authority in Pakistan's civilian world. But rather than being merely anti-India, the Pakistani establishment, well aware of Indian problems of running a coalition government with looming general elections, appears sure of India not taking a strong stand on ceasefire violations, and of India's subservient junior partnership with USA, and is assuming a diplomatically and militarily aggressive stance. Recently (April 2012) when the Pakistan army chief General A.P.Kayani, spoke of “peaceful coexistence” with India in the context of his call to demilitarize Siachen, Government of India took up the matter of demilitarization of Siachen glacier with unseemly alacrity. Especially when India's military has for long held that demilitarization of Siachen would be strategic folly, the fact that GoI appears to be clandestinely pushing it along, has raised suspicion that there may be a Nobel Peace Prize nomination being dangled before it. This is surely known to Pakistan's military, and strengthens its conviction that India's political leadership can be manipulated by the stick of an aggressive stance and the carrot of worldwide acclaim of being peaceful. A book titled “The Quranic Concept of Warfare " by Pakistani Brig S.K.Malik, with a foreword by Pakistani General M.Zia-ul-Haq (later Pakistan President by his Islamic coup d'etat), is mandatory reading for the Pakistan army. It was originally published in Lahore in 1979 and the
English version republished in India in 1992. In what follows, the quotes are from the electronic version available on internet. According to General Zia-ul-Haq in his foreword, the book amplifies “the Quranic philosophy on the application of military force, within the context of the totality that is JEHAD ”. This interpretation of the Quranic philosophy by the author, endorsed by the General and President of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, includes the considerations of war and peace. Page 27 of the book advises, “The considerations of peace come to human mind only when the choice is between 'suicide' and 'coexistence'. They are the bye-products of exigency, not of a recognized or consistent policy or philosophy. They failed to stand the test of time in the past, nor are they resulting in durable global peace at present. Indeed, they have no worthwhile role to play even in the future. ”. The word “they” can only mean “the considerations of peace”. Further, page 35 of the book reads, “... in the Quranic perspective, the object of war is to obtain conditions of peace, justice and faith”. Clearly, for those indoctrinated to this mind-set, war supervenes over peace, which can only be the outcome of (a holy) war. Thus, for an Islamic Pakistan essentially controlled by its military, war is its raison d'etre, whereas for democratic India with its military under civilian control, war is the last option. And Pakistan's army chief General A.P.Kayani's call for “peaceful coexistence” with India flies in the face of the undoubted Islamization of Pakistan's military. Pakistan's internal politics Pakistan's internal security situation is precarious. Apart from the historic tensions due to resistance by the suppressed Pashtun population, the Shia minorities of Afghani and Pakistani origin, hitherto apart, are joining together against the organized killings of Shia people, and are demanding protection from the Pakistani army. This has the potential of tearing apart the fabric of the Pakistani military itself. The people have been indoctrinated over decades to believe that India wants to overrun Pakistan, and only the Pakistani army prevents this. Peace with India will sharply reduce the army's pre-eminent position in Pakistan's power structure, hence keeping conflicts between India and Pakistan going is always on the Pakistani army's agenda. The entry of a dark horse in the form of “ Mohammad Tahirul Qadri – a lawyer, Islamic scholar, prolific author and fiery orator, whose claim to fame is that his outfit, the Minaj-ul-Quran … promotes a benign vision of an Islamic state ”, [ Ref.2 ] can be a game changer, as he demands dissolution of Parliament and praises the military. Today, with the Pakistan military unable to stop USA's drone attacks inside Pakistani territory, and smarting under the secret surgical strike by USA to take out Osama bin Laden from Abbotabad, its standing and image within the country are declining. Hence, its violations of the LOC with India
could well be a strategy to divert public attention to the Indian enemy, thus enhancing its flagging public image and its control over the establishment. This is particularly so since the forthcoming May elections in Pakistan are expected to disturb the civil-military power asymmetry adversely for the military. War or peace Certainly, the vast majority of ordinary people of Pakistan, as of India, only want peace. But they have little or no influence on policy, especially foreign policy, in their respective countries, because they are immersed in simply surviving â€“ on less than Rs.20 a day in India and goodness knows how little in Pakistan. Besides this, in both countries they are either uninformed or fed motivated information regarding the goings-on between India and Pakistan. In keeping with the debate of January 10, 2013, since civil society is merely the educated and socio-economically upper crust (not more than 10% of the population), it is the Government of India with the military under its control, and the Pakistani establishment dominated by the Pakistan military with an agenda for armed conflict, that can influence India-Pakistan relations one way or another. In modern times, especially with India and Pakistan being nuclear-capable, relations between them cannot be viewed as a choice between war and peace, even though the Pakistani army labouring under the Quranic concept may see it that way. The current position is the ceasefire agreement made in 2003. This agreement has not only been repeatedly violated, but this time around, Pakistani troops have upped the ante by beheading and mutilating the bodies of Indian soldiers. This barbaric act is strong provocation for enlarging the conflict, and Pakistan's interest in this is discussed below. Pakistan's military has failed to comprehend its misadventures of 1965, 1971 and 1999 against India. On the other hand, Pakistani Prime Minister Z. A. Bhutto's words to the effect that Pakistan would bleed India through a thousand cuts as retaliation against the dismemberment of Pakistan, seems to have been internalized by the Pakistani military because of its repeated humiliation. India's having treated 97,000 Pakistani prisoners of war (who surrendered at Dhaka in 1971) with soldierly respect and returned them to Pakistan, without having even bargained to get back a handful of Indian soldiers held prisoner in Pakistan, appears to have been considered as India's weakness. It is well to recall that Pakistan has warned of nuclear response to Indian conventional attack beyond a certain point, as happened in 1999 after the Indian army evicted the Pakistani incursions in the Kargil sector at great cost of officers and soldiers killed and wounded; Indian forces were ordered not to cross the LOC. Indian strategic planning
The National Security Council (NSC) with the Prime Minister as Chairman, formed in November 1998 by the BJP-led NDA union government, is the apex agency for national security. It was formed to address the need to systematize higher defence management, particularly following India's dramatic entry into the nuclear club with Pokharan II six months earlier. The functions of NSC were earlier being carried out by the Principal Secretary to the PM and, since formation of the NSC, a senior bureaucrat is the National Security Advisor (NSA). Thus earlier and also currently, the advisor to the Prime Minister on national security is a bureaucrat. The decision-making members of the NSC include the NSA, the Ministers of Defence, External Affairs, Home and Finance, and the Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission. The three defence services chiefs are not a part of the NSC; their advice to NSC is inputted from the immediate lower rung that is the Strategic Policy Group. In the context of the present military-diplomatic low in IndoPak relations, the NSC would call for advice from the rotational Chairman of the CoSC (Chiefs of Staff Committee), at present the air chief, ACM N.A.K.Browne. He would seek information from the army chief before he advises the NSC. That would happen even if the Chairman CoSC happened to be the naval chief. But in view of the present matter solely pertaining to the army, the NSC would also call the army chief to obtain his views and seek his advice, based upon the army perspective of the strategy and tactics involved in the present situation. Should the matter get up-scaled to a wider conflict with Pakistan, the air force and navy would necessarily have to be involved, and only the army chief's advice would not be sufficient. The advice of CoSC, whichever service he belongs to, would not be really useful to the NSC since he would have only scanty knowledge of the other two services. Also in question is whether the other two service chiefs would abide by the advice rendered by the CoSC Chairman (who also heads his own service), since it can lead to decisions impinging on the operational capability, functioning or logistics of their respective services. [ Ref.3 ]. National strategic planning should include all possible situations including the outside possibility of the present sectoral stand-off snow-balling into a wider zonal conflict or even a full-fledged war with nuclear ramifications. Planning for that outlying possible contingency would be on the table of any responsible government. But from the fact that in the last 15 years of the NSC's existence, no national strategic guideline document has been produced, it is clear to even a casual observer of military-political matters (and Pakistan's ISI is certainly not casual) that the Indian establishment is practically rudderless inasmuch as national defence strategy is concerned. The absence of statements by the Prime Minister and defence minister even after a week, and equivocating statements by Mr. Salman Khurshid are indicative of a kind of strategic paralysis stemming from the fact that there are
no strategic guidelines. Again, it is necessary to emphasize that these critical comments are not directed at the present political dispensation, but at the Indian politicalbureaucratic setup over the decades, which suffers from endemic strategic “illiteracy” coupled with ignorance in defence matters. It is knowledge of the Indian establishment's lack of strategic understanding in defence matters, and the knowledge that the Indian establishment cares little for its own military, that emboldens a military-led Pakistani establishment to cock a snook at the Indian establishment even in a matter as serious as the 26/11 attack. It is no wonder that Pakistan is assuming such an aggressive stance in the current stand-off. The middle path In the Indian public arena today, there appear to be two options, namely, (1) strong military response, taking the risk that it could widen or escalate, and give the Pakistani army the break it badly needs at home, or (2) continue with the present mild, don't-rock-the-boat approach, and confirm Pakistan's assessment that it can get away with mutilating and beheading Indian soldiers. Either of these options would have negative effects on the Indian military. Thus, there has to be a middle path between these two extremes, consisting of a combination of different measures that will deny the Pakistani military the “pleasure” of a war that can help it consolidate its domestic power, and at the same time will deal Pakistan economic blows that will hurt. Options for India include a combination of the following:
give a free hand to make strong sectoral military (including air power) response to Pakistani violations of ceasefire, take demilitarization of Siachen off the table, take the army out of IS duties to the maximum extent possible, to return troops to their primary role, coordinate and step up military and civilian (RAW) intelligence gathering inside Pakistan, cease cricket matches and other sporting events with Pakistan since these events only monetarily benefit the organizers in both countries and do not help the general public, except to provide a false bon homie , restrict trade with Pakistan in those sectors that will hurt Pakistan's economy, engage in aggressive diplomacy at the international level without internationalizing the issue of the LOC or Kashmir, continue issuing visas to Pakistani civilians for cultural or personal visits to India even if Pakistan does not reciprocate, to show the Pakistani public the true face of their own establishment and at the same time display India's openness and tolerance, continue to encourage Indian films for Pakistani viewership,
plan psychological warfare directed at Pakistan's civilian population and its military personnel, including specially designed radio and TV transmissions directed at Pakistan.
Apart from the above measures, the most important measures would be for Government of India to: (1) Immediately Include within the NSC, a military officer superior to the three defence services chiefs as NSA for “Defence” or “External security” to render single-point advice on defence to the NSC, in tandem with the civilian NSA who would deal with “Home” or “Internal security”, (2) Take immediate steps to formulate, formalize and declare a national security strategy, taking into account all regional and continental powers, on a time-bound basis, and (3) Urgently set up the Indian National Defence University (the recommendations of the Committee convened for the purpose are already with government) “to provide synergy between academic research in the field of security and the government's requirements in security policy formulation” [ Ref.4 ] and create a centre for strategic thinking and updating. Only these three measures can yield long-term security dividends to convince any powers that may contemplate interfering with India's strategic interests, that India cannot be trifled with. India's demand to be included as a permanent member of the UN Security Council without its own strategic guidelines in place and without military representation in its NSC, is slightly farcical, and may not be taken seriously. References 1. Lt Gen S.K.Sinha; “ Offering the other cheek ”; Defence Watch Vol.XII, No.5; January 2013, pp.5-7. 2. DileepPadgaonkar; “ Pakistan on the edge ”; January 13, 2013. 3. Maj Gen S.G.Vombatkere; “ Rational National Security ”; Indian Defence Review, Vol.27(3), Jul-Sep 2012, pp.96-101. 4. Air Marshal B.D.Jayal; “ Security in the Balance – There is a Great Need for a National Defence University ”; Defence Watch; Vol XII, No.5, january 2013, pp.25-27.
Note 1 . Extracted from Ref.1 . # 1947. When Indian troops fought their way into Baramulla, Maqbool Sherwani was found nailed to a cross
(crucified) and large numbers of men were killed and buried in mass graves while women in large numbers were raped. # 1948. The Skardu Fort in Baltistan (now in Pakistani control) was surrounded by Pakistani forces, but was bravely defended by a detachment under Lt Col Shamsher Jung Thapa. Hindu and Sikh civilians had taken refuge inside the fort. Indian troops could not reach the beleaguered garrison due to snow, and Lt Col Thapa was forced to surrender to Pakistani forces when supplies ran out. The Indian Army intercepted a success signal sent by the Pakistani troops to their higher headquarters that read, “All Hindus and Sikhs killed and women raped”. # 1971 The Pakistani troops in East Pakistan killed around one million Bengali civilians and raped large numbers of women. # 1999 Lt Saurabh Kalia and members of his patrol were captured by Pakistan. When their bodies were returned after much negotiation, it was found that they had been tortured, their eyes gouged out and their genitals mutilated. # 2000 Illyas Kashmiri captured and beheaded Indian Sepoy Talaker (of 17 Maratha Light Infantry) and presented his head to Pakistan President General Pervez Musharraf
as a war trophy, to receive a reward of Rs.1 lakh. Photographs of this were published in Lahore newspapers. # 2011 In Kupwara, Pakistani troops captured and beheaded two soldiers of 20 Kumaon Regiment. Note 2 . This is not to say that a reciprocal anti-Pakistan view is not held in India, but it is with a small minority both within and outside the Indian establishment, and in any case India has been a democracy for 65 continuous years, with its military always under civilian control. Further, while the population segment in India that opposes peace-with-Pakistan is small, the Pakistani segment that even dares to speaks of peacewith-India is smaller. Regarding indoctrination of Pakistanis against India, this author's experience in the Sialkot sector during the 1965 conflict with Pakistan comes to mind; Pakistani civilians taking refuge inside a bunker were surrounded by Indian forces, but refused to come out and surrender because they “did not want to set eyes on kafirs”. (S.G.Vombatkere retired as major general after 35 years in the Indian military, from the post of Additional DG in charge of Discipline & Vigilance in the Army HQ. This article appears on countercurrents.org.)
CONQUERING HATRED By Vidya Bhushan Rawat
The biggest casualty of the Indo-Pakistan war-mongering jingoism is the community of people who believe in peopleto-people dialogue and have mutual admiration for art, culture and sports. Even when there is so much of an air of distrust between the two governments, it needs to be understood that Pakistan has not yet matured as a democracy and its government continues to function under the watchful eyes of a powerful military. The military gets strength from being the most ‘efficient’ and ‘uncorrupted’ institution in Pakistan but the fact is that to get continuous legitimacy of political interventions, it is essential for it, to discredit the political class as a whole and therefore find a route to stage a well-orchestrated coup. Many of us feel proud for our track record as a ‘democratic’ country amidst our neighbors who have mostly been suppressed by military dictators or old religious thugs
pretending to have God’s blessings to lord over them. Pakistan was a country born out of a secular idea by M.A. Jinnah, yet the man could not see it grow and today it is a shattered nation, completely in the grips of those who devalue the father of their nation. Today’s Pakistan is not the country Jinnah visualized, but a country where the forces of jingoism and fanaticism rule despite being ‘extrastate’ actors. It is these forces which are now becoming extraordinarily powerful in our countries as they have developed bullying tactics to get their thing done and get away with everything particularly if they happen to ‘represent’ the ‘majority’ communities. Hence, it was very difficult for the government of India to touch Bal Thackarey despite all his unconstitutional rhetoric as well as the violent activities which resulted from his hate speeches and writings. Narendra Modi, Uma Bharati and Kalyan Singh are all ‘respected’ leaders of their party and future aspirants for various power positions of
India yet we have no apologies about them and their actions. No political leader in India has got any punishment for spreading hatred on communal and caste lines. Hence, when Owaisi is arrested his supporters cite the examples of Modi and Thackrey. Subsequently, when the Hindutva leaders are caught they carefully take up one two such cases where government has not acted and these issues become complimentary for the political outfits using religion for their own purposes. The Hindutva hate-mongers may not be on any ‘most wanted’ lists, but they have used the law for their own purposes. Then there are other members of the Parivar who have always used such tactics to intimidate Muslims and Christians in the country. In Pakistan, these extra-state actors play the dubious role of supporting Taliban in Afghanistan as well as linking the cause of Kashmir to Islamic revivalism in the valley. These extra state actors have full support from those in power because they speak the language which the power elite feel constrained to talk about and covertly support through various mechanisms. India and Pakistan are two unequal neighbors. Despite everything, historically too, India will remain an elder brother and there is nothing wrong in being elder, and our behaving elderly is important for both of us. Circumstances have not made Pakistan a plural democratic political system like India but that cannot erase our common heritage that we have worked and built up in so many thousands of years. We are different countries and societies just because of a law that separated us which is just 65 years old but our civilization is much older than the British Empire. Two people with same language, culture and ideas are divided. Pakistan is not able to develop its democratic institutions strongly but my problem is with those who claim we have ‘better’ democracy. If Hina Rabbani Khar does not know how to speak as a foreign minister then one can understand this as she does not come from a political background, but Sushma Swaraj and her party’s political understanding and struggle should have made their reaction more mature and political rather than being simply jingoistic. It is humiliating when our political class, intellectuals and media all jump in to support ending every relationship with Pakistan. Why should I be denied the joy of listening to Ghulam Ali or why should Pakistanis not listen to Mohammdad Rafi or LataMangeskar. Amitabh Bachchan, Dilip Kumar, Sachin Tendulkar, Sunil Gavaskar, Imran Khan, Kapil Dev, Arundhati Roy, Faiz Ahmed Faiz, Firakh, Sahir, Mukesh, Kishore Kumar, Kaifi Azmi, Ali Sardar Jafari(and the list is long), are not confined to our boundaries but have transcended them. In the most oppressing moments of history, art, culture and sports have always united people. It does not humiliate a Pakistan player when he is asked to leave from India as our officials say that we do not want to play with an ‘enemy’. It is insulting that the Indian state is not able to provide protection to their guests who represent their country but not necessarily support every political and
military thought of their nation. How can you call a player an enemy? Can we call a competition between Jagjit Singh and Ghulam Ali a war between the two countries or is it a treat to listen to both of them. How can I call Faiz Ahmed Faiz or a player like Waseem Akram my enemy. For that matter, how can Faiz be put in the category of the hate mongers like Tahir Qadri. How can Sushma Swaraj and like her become voice of India? It is the game that media has played to serve their own internal purposes. The media uses the deaths for their own marketing purposes and celebrates them. When soldiers die, we are filling their homes with money and other support but if he return home undead, serving the nation for over 35 years, he does not get that much of money. The capitalist media glorifies deaths and link it to ‘valor’. In today’s 24 hour TV world, helps boost their TRPs and hence every anchor becomes a ‘rabid rabble rouser’, much more dangerous than Owaisis and Qadris, as they want to put words in people’s mouths. The world is not as threatened by loudmouths like Qadri, Owaisi or Thackaray, as they are part of the State apparatus and only speak the language the powerful State wants them to speak and if some action is taken it is only done when the state realizes that their presence and association with it is counter-productive and politically detrimental. As an Indian it is shameful for me to hear that attempt are being made to send artists, writers, journalists and sports persons back to Pakistan simply in the name of their being ‘unwanted’. Even at the height of mistrust, it is these voices of dissent and of love and affection that open the small window of peace and togetherness. One must remember that those who make the biggest noise about nationalism are the most dangerous species as they are the least willing to sacrifice themselves for the cause of the people. They only use the sacrifices of others to gain political mileage. It is time that people to people contact must not be allowed to submit to such fascist nationalist forces whose only interest is to keep people subjugated. The people of Pakistan who want friendship with India and vice versa cannot be victimized because their political class is pushing the countries to war. It is only important for us to remember that war has never ever resulted in any solution to any issue and it will only bring disaster and catastrophe in the region. It is more insulting for us as Indians if our hearts are not bigger in welcoming those people who we love to watch playing on the ground and listen live or on our TV studios and films. It is time we learn that at the end of the day, we have to live in the same world and a war will never make it better and will keep us in perpetual hatred. Millions of people who are related and love each other are divided just because of ‘nationhood’ are being denied the basic human rights by this thin dividing line. Can we allow this and remain in perpetual war while that our people suffer with hunger and malnutrition. An eye for an eye is never a solution and we need not only mature political
diplomacy to handle such crisis but stronger people-topeople contact so that war-mongers and their hate cries are defeated forever.
(Vidya Bhushan Rawat is a social and human rights activist.)
STATEMENT ON NUCLEAR ADVISORY IN KASHMIR AMID WAR HYSTERIA IN INDIA-PAKISTAN By The Coalition on Nuclear Disarmament and Peace The Jammu and Kashmir police have reportedly issued an advisory to common citizens on do’s and don’ts in the event of a “nuclear” war. Apart from creating underground bunkers, the notice advises people to store perishables and duck behind surfaces in case of an explosion. This is a sickening reminder of the pathology of the Cold War, when a nuclear exchange was considered worth fighting and even winnable. But we know that no civil defence is possible when it comes to nuclear weapons. Hence, the advisory is clearly misleading and frightening at the same time. This also highlights the urgent need to begin a discussion on a nuclear weapons-free zone (NWFZ) in South Asia, an agenda that the CNDP has been advocating since its inception in 2000.
This vindicates our position that far from providing security, nuclear weapons have further endangered South Asia and any conventional skirmish has the potential to lapse into a nuclear escalation. The recent turn of events leading to an unfortunate diplomatic stand-off, military build-ups on both sides, and war hysteria in sections of the media, have actually arisen out of adventurism along the Line of Control. Militaries on both sides occasionally indulge in such adventurism and ratchet up tensions to hysterical levels. We urge the governments and people on both sides to resume dialogue and end the current escalation of tensions at the earliest. We demand that the J&K police withdraw its misleading advisory on nuclear war. Lalita Ramdas, Praful Bidwai, Abey George, P K Sundaram
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Hindutva SHINDE ON HINDUTVA TERROR: TERMINOLOGICAL CONFUSIONS By Ram Puniyani
Protests are being organized and threats to stall the proceedings of next Lok Sabha session are being dished out to oppose the Home Minister Sushil Kukar Shinde’s statement about the Hindu terrorism, its links with BJP and RSS. (23 Jan 2013). There are two major components of this statement. One is the use of the prefix Hindu for terrorism, and two about RSS-BJP links with terror training camps. What Shinde called Hindu terrorism has also been called Saffron terrorism or Hindutva terrorism. This prefix is to point out to acts of terror indulged in by the likes of Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur, Swami Aseemanand, Col. Prasad Shrikant Purohit, Kalsangara, Sunil Joshi and many like them who were either actively associated with the ideology of Hindutva, or even were organizationally associated with RSS. Others were at that time or previously linked with some progeny of RSS like ABVP, Bajrang Dal etc. Many of them were part of organizations like Sanatan Sanstha, Abhinav Bhararat, who again aim at the goal of Hindu Nation or are ideologically inspired by the agenda of RSS. The home minister’s remarks are based on investigations done by Anti-Terror Squads of different states and by National Investigation Agency. Earlier the announcement was made by the former Union home minister P. Chidambaram, in July 2010, to Parliament that the National Investigation Agency (NIA) will probe the terrorist attacks on the Samjhauta Express and examine the conspiracy behind the attack, including the links of the accused in terrorist attacks at Malegaon (September 8, 2006), Mecca Masjid in Hyderabad (May 18, 2007) and at the Ajmer dargah (October 11, 2007). He had used the word Saffron terror. Various such acts of terror in which these people have been involved have been coming to light over the last ten years or so. In 2003, in Parbani, Jalna and Jalgaon districts of Maharashtra; in 2005, in Mau district of Uttar Pradesh; in 2006, in Nanded; in January 2008, at the RSS office in Tenkasi, Tirunelveli; in August 2008, in Kanpur etc. Few of the details of some of these acts are very revealing: 1. On 6th April 2006 two Bajrang Dal workers died when making the bombs. The place where they died belonged to the RSS worker and saffron flag was hoisted atop the hose. There was also a board of Bajrang Dal Nanded Branch on the wall of the house. 2. In Thane on 4th June 2008, two Hindu Jagran Samiti workers were arrested for planting the bombs in the
basement of Gadkari Rangayatan, due to which 7 people got injured. The same group was involved in the blasts in Vashi, Panvel also. 3. In Goa a bomb kept in a scooter went off on the eve of Diwali (17th Oct 2009) in Margao. It killed Malgonda Patil and seriously injured Yogesh Naik. Another bomb was detected in Sancoale in a truck carrying 40 youth for Narkasur competition. Both the activists belonged to Sanatan Sanstha. The second aim of this blast was to create communal tension in Margao, which has a history of communal violence. This group takes inspiration from Savarkar (Hindu Mahasabha) and Hedgewar (RSS) and indoctrinates its members into hating Christians and Muslims. 4. On 24th August 2008 two Bajrang Dal activists died in Kanpur, while making bombs. The Kanpur zone IGP S.N. Singh stated that their investigations have revealed that this group was planning massive explosions all over the state. 5. Indian Express, 23 Oct 2008 reports that those involved in the bomb blast in Malegaon and Modasa (Sept 2008) had links with Akhil Bhartiya Vidyarthi Parishad. Similarly in Tenkasi, Tamil Nadu pipe bomb attack on RSS office (Jan.2008) was projected to have been done by Jehadi Muslims. The common pattern of these acts of terror has been twofold. One, that in few of such cases the activists related to Bajrang Dal or fellow travellers were killed while making the bombs. Second these acts of terror were targeted to kill Muslims, so these acts were organized at times when Muslims congregations take place, at the time of namaz or festivals like Shab-e-Barat in Malegaon, or in Ajmer Sharif where they come in large numbers, or Samjhauta express in which the majority of travellers are Muslims. While in the initial phase police authorities working under the prejudice that ‘all terrorists are Muslims’ misdirected their probe, the probe came on the proper track after the Malegaon blasts when the motor cycle of Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur, the former activist of Akhil Bhartiya Vidyarthi Parishad, a wing of RSS, came under the scanner and her links with many of those who have been named above and are currently in jail, came to the surface. These facts came to light due to the initiative and immaculate investigation done by the then chief of Maharashtra ATS, Hemant Karkare. Karkare pursued the investigation professionally
putting together the threads due to which today most of them are in jails. While pursuing these investigations Karkare came under immense pressure from the politicians belonging to BJP and its close cousin, Shiv Sena. During this time Narendra Modi said that Hemant Karkare is an anti- national, (Deshdrohi) and Bal Thackeray in his Saamana wrote that’ we spit on the face of Karkare.’ Later Karkare got killed in the Mumbai terror attack of 26/11, 2006. The people involved in some way were associated to the affiliates of RSS or RSS itself. Mr. Singh, Home secretary has given some of the names from RSS stable who have been allegedly involved in acts of terror 1. Sunil Joshi (dead), he was an “activist of RSS” in dewas and Mhow from 1990s to 2003. 2. Sandeep Dange (absconding), He was “RSS pracharak” in Mhow, Indore, Uttarkashi and Sajhapur from 1990s to 2006. 3. Lokesh Sharma (arrested) He was RSS ‘nagarkaryavahak’ in Deogarh. 4. Swami Assemanand (arrested), He was “associated with RSS wing Vanavashi Kalyan Parishad” in Dang, Gujarat in 1990s to 2007. 4. Rajender alias Samunder (arrested), He was “RSS VargVistarak.” 5. Mukesh Vasani (arrested), He was an “activist of RSS” in Godhra. 6. Devender Gupta (arrested), was a “RSS pracharak” in Mhow and Indore. 7. Chandrasekhar Leve (arrested), was a “RSS pracharak” in Shajhanpur in 2007. 8. Kamal Chouhan (arrested), was a “RSS activist.” 9. Ramji Kalsangra (absconding), was a “RSS associate”. This is in addition to Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur, Swami DayanandPandey, Lt Col Prasad Shrikant Purohit, Retd Major Upadhyay, who have been close to them. While some beans were spilled by many of these accused the whole picture was pieced together by Swami Aseemanand, when he decided to confess in front of the magistrate. In his confession Swami gave the details of the whole set up raised under his coordination and involving many RSS workers and their associates. The major reason for this whole planning as per him was to counter the Islamic terrorism as witnessed in Sankat Mochan temple etc. and their second goal was to pave the path of a Hindu nation. The later investigation of ATS and now NIA has unearthed the linkages due to which these activists are cooling their heels in jails. Meanwhile in the wake of most of these terror blasts many a Muslim youth were arrested, some of whom were later released for the lack of any credible evidence. So all these terrorists are Hindus. Does this then justify to label this type of terrorism as Hindu terrorism? By no means! Shinde is wrong to label this terrorism as Hindu terrorism. Is the term ‘saffron terrorism’ correct? No way. This term was used by many including the then Home minister P.
Chidambaram in the wake of the investigations done by Hemant Karkar in the case of Malegaon blasts. While one does not approve the term Hindu terrorism or saffron terrorism at all, one will like to see the background in which this term came to be used. The RSS routinely adopts resolutions seeking to “curb Islamic terrorism with an iron hand”. The term Islamic terrorism was first coined by American media in the light of 9/11 act of terror. This was the first major attempt to label an act of terror with religion. This became the most popular word and all and sundry resorted to this word time and over again. This was a deliberate mischief by US to target the Muslims and thereby get legitimacy to launch attacks in the West Asia to control its oil resources. In India also large section of media picked it up. RSS and its progeny in particular highlighted the religious nature of this terrorism, and the phrase ‘Jehadi terrorism’ was also commonly used. In a way associating terrorism with religion became a dominant norm and it became part of popular perception. In this backdrop when the acts of terror done by many Hindus came to light, they came to be labelled with the prefix Hindu or saffron. The terms ‘Islamic terrorism’ and ‘Jehadi terrorism’ are as wrong as the term Hindu or saffron terror. The right word for first one may be Al Qaeda type of terrorism and for the second, Hindutva terrorism. Here again using Hindutva terrorism is fraught with some misunderstanding. As such, Hindutva is a politics, aiming at the creation of a Hindu nation but due to its containing the word Hindu in it, it is also taken to be a religion in popular understanding. So the dilemma for Shinde! How to label this group of terror deeds? Probably one will like to make it clear that it is Hindutva terrorism, it has nothing to do with Hindu religion and the difference between the terms Hindu (a religion) and Hindutva (a politics) needs to be made clear in popular parlance. So, it is hypocritical for people to object to the use of the phrases ‘Hindu terrorism’ or ‘Saffron terrorism’ when the same people use the phrases ‘Islamic terrorism’ and‘Jehadi terrorism’ and propagate that all terrorists are Muslims. One has to know that the phenomenon of terror has been promoted in the Madrassas specially set up by America in Pakistan to indoctrinate Muslim youth and bring up Al Qaeda type formations. So why demonize Islam, Muslims and use the term Jehadi terrorism? Both such abuses of religion run parallel to each other. What about the statement that training camps are run by RSS and BJP? In all fairness, one concedes that the training camps run by RSS give training in the use of rifles but training-centres for bomb-making and use are not directly conducted by RSS-BJP. But these activities are done by those associated with RSS-BJP. One can’t take lightly the picture making rounds on social media, which shows Rajnath Singh and Shivrajsingh Chowhan with Sadhvi
Pragya Thakur. One also can’t dismiss the fact that Lal Krishna Advani and Sushma Swaraj had gone to see the prime minister exclusively to plead the case of Pragya Singh Thakur. One can’t ignore that those running these training camps had or were associated with RSS in some way, actively at that time or in the past. So all the protests and threats of BJP to disrupt sessions of Parliament are their usual political tactics and do not have any meaning, as their indirect or direct association with the terrorists is so obvious. What Shinde is stating is factual but his terminology is confused, and that’s not due to his own
fault. We as a society have not been able to come to coin correct terminologies for different acts of terror anyway, so why get away with using the word Jehadi terrorism and haul Mr. Shinde to the coals for such a use of the term? (Ram Puniyani was a professor in biomedical engineering at the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay, and took voluntary retirement in December 2004 to work full time for communal harmony in India. He has been involved with human rights movements for the last two decades. This article appears on countercurrents.org.)
YES WE KNOW A salutation to the heroines & heroes of the Kudankulam struggle by Soumya Dutta Yes we know, in the far south of our nation, People are writing their own salvation, cradled by the sea, caressed by the wind A brave new India is awaiting coronation. Yes we know, that a tiny fire can fight - the coldest and the darkest night, With the kind spirit of an undying fire You give us warmth, and give us light.
Yes we know, its "power" people need, Not nuclear deaths, nor the coal-fired greed, And power we will get - which is clean & just, From the Sun, wind and Earth, indeed. Yes we know, the clarion call has been given, The evil is strong, but people are getting even, And when the final curtains are drawn The merchants of death will not be forgiven.
Yes we know, the fire you started is no longer small, The domes of injustice may now stand there tall, But history has shown us time and again, Facing people, these black "Bastilles" will have to fall.
Yes we know, there are doubts, For the death-vendors have huge clout, But despite their malice & acts of wrong A nuclear free new world will sprout.
Yes we know, as people come out of the dark, The whole wide world will bear their mark, And in spite of the peddlers of lies, The truth will prevail - clear & stark.
Yes we know, the power of knowing, The winds of change have started blowing, A brave and just world is rising up, The seeds of which you are sowing.
Yes we know, the State's military might, Brushes Justice and truth out of its sight, But in the end the people will win, Because, justice is at the core of this fight.
Keep fighting, for "today" is not the end of time, And all over the world, bells have started to chime, This unjust, unequal & cruel system has to end, People are rising, and the moment is now prime.
Gujarat WE REMEMBER GUJARAT 2002. AND WE KNOW YOU’RE LYING ABOUT DEVELOPMENT. By Nivedita Menon
Don’t tell us stories about development, Narendra Modi. Your Vibrant Gujarat and claims of development are shameless hollow lies, and even if they were true, it would still be an unethical and blood-stained development. But they are lies, Modi, lies. Here’s a report by Pranjal Sharma in Business World that sees through the working of your aggressive PR machinery: The Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE) recently examined the investment statistics flaunted by the Gujarat. The Vibrant Gujarat investment summit held by the chief minister has been projected to have earned billions of dollars of fresh investment into India. But a closer look at the figures reveals a different story. Only a small percentage of projects announced in Vibrant Gujarat (VG) summits in 2009 and 2011 have actually moved on the ground. The details of many grand projects are missing… In VG held in January 2009, government claims that 3,574 Memorandum of Understanding (MoUs) were signed for investments worth Rs 12 trillion. But CMIE could capture information and details of only 220 projects worth Rs 3,947 billion (Rs 3,94,700 crore). “The number of projects captured…were drastically low when compared with the official numbers displayed on the event’s website because of poor disclosure of basic information about the projects proposed. In most cases the website does not provide the details of a valid company name, location, product, and capacity,’’ says the CMIE report…. The same is the story for VG 2011. The grand claim was of 8,380 MoUs worth Rs 20 trillion being signed. But research by CMIE did not get any details of these MoUs and projects. “Like in the earlier fair, details of either company name, or location or product etc were not clearly available for us to identify individual projects in these,” says CMIE. These figures place Gujarat at the same level as other states. It is not head and shoulders above others. While Gujarat may be pushing projects faster than some laggard states, but it is not racing ahead at the speed it claims. There are many states that have recorded a higher economic growth rate than Gujarat. Between 2006-7 and 2010-11, Gujarat had a growth of 9.3 per cent. Good rate but still ranked sixth. Even humble Orissa was at 9.4 per cent. Bihar topped with 10.9 per cent while Chhattisgarh (10 per cent), Haryana (9.7 per cent) and Maharashtra (9.6 per cent) followed… The difference between Gujarat and other states is 80 per cent hype and 20 per cent substance.
As for Human Development indices, Gujarat fell from the 5th rank in 1996 to the 9th rank in 2006. According to the 2011 India Human Development Report, it is the worst performer in child malnutrition with 69.7% of children up to the age of ﬁve anaemic and 44.6% malnourished. Health indicators for the scheduled tribes (STs) are worse than that at the national level, and also poorer than that for other social groups in the state. According to the Global
Hunger Index brought out by the International Food Policy Research Institute, India ranks 66 among the 88 countries listed. And in India, among the ﬁve worst performers is Gujarat. Gujarat’s literacy rate is only marginally above the national average, and is extremely low in the tribal belt. (See Neera Chandhoke, “Gujarat and its little illusions”, Economic and Political Weekly December 8, 2012). Neither extraordinary economic growth nor even ordinary human development, you have nothing but blood on your fine, smiling face. But even if the stories of development were true, Modi, it would be a development founded on the ashes of innocents. It is a peace and an election victory based on terrorizing minorities into pragmatic silence. It is the eerie silence of people held hostage by a ruthless terrorist. So who wants you, Modi? And who wants desperately to believe the hype spun by your PR machinery? A small, aggressively articulate, consuming Hindu middle class, which casts a distortedly large shadow on public opinion. Many of us went to Gujarat in 2002 after the massacre, and here is something I wrote at that time. We will not forget. Surviving Gujarat (Published in Economic and Political Weekly, July 6, 2002) The bullet marks on the white-washed walls around the dargah have been carefully outlined in black. There was police firing here at Vatwa during the dhamaal, they tell you. They arrived in two vehicles on the 1 st of March, the day after violence had erupted in the area, and fired upon people gathered on the roofs of their one-storey houses – one woman died, and several people were injured. Three of the injured – all young women – were arrested in June, the day after we left. Circulars issued by the government of Gujarat are impressive in their clarity: no-one injured in police firing can claim compensation, because of course, if the police fired on them they must have been terrorists. It’s a neat circle. Majority killed in communal violence in postindependence India? Muslims. Majority arrested and convicted? Right. No surprises there. We know this stuff, after all, we are a bunch of academics – students and teachers, the second team of volunteers from Aman Ekta Manch in Delhi. We also know all there is to know about
Gujarat – it’s an information overload, for god’s sake. Statistics, details of loot and plunder, of gory massacres, of mass rapes and public sexual humiliation of women, of devastated localities, state and police complicity, it’s all there.
Ellora Caves) – watched the partially burnt Quran being pulled out and impassively taken away by a survivor (why is it not in ashes? Was it meant to be recognized, to hammer home the humiliation?) - still nothing prepares you for those little hands gesturing.
(But here’s a lesser known little snippet of information – from yet another government circular on compensation for deaths, it emerges that Rupees 1 lakh is the price of a dead person, but the family does not get it all in cash. You get 40 thousand in cash, and the rest in Sardar Sarovar dam bonds. It’s a simple equation – the more deaths in communal violence, the better for the dam. Not so coincidental is it, the physical attack on Medha Patkar at the peace meeting organized by Mallika Sarabhai in Ahmedabad?)
The VHP may call it Gujarat Pradesh of Hindu Rashtra, on saffron billboards all over the state, but it is still, nominally at least, part of this land mass we call India. And Indians are landing up in Gujarat in thousands from all over the country – to “do something”, to document, to mourn, to see for themselves. “Riot tourism”, it has come to be called. There is an element of that, but it is this large-scale documentation at all levels – individual video-clips, journal entries, anguished first-hand accounts, detailed fact-finding reports, news coverage, all circulating on the web, in newspapers, on television – that has produced the composite picture that turns our stomach: Gujarat 2002. Having arrived after three months, what we encounter in the camps is dull resignation and a simmering resentment, not the raw pain and uncontrollable grief there must have been. It’s easier for us to take. But in fact, nothing you have ever read or seen or heard prepares you for the utter horror of Gujarat. Nothing prepares you for the survivors of the Chaman Pura mass rapes relating the nightmarish details of the rounding up of the women, the taunts that were hurled of “akha” (whole) Hindu penises, so much better than “kate” (circumcised), of recognizing rakhi brothers and those who had shared Id feasts amongst the attackers. We hear of one young boy in a mob, shamed by his Muslim friend’s startled recognition and partly amused query, “Arre, tu mujhe marega?”, retreating to the door, but being pushed back by the crowd to finish the job. Nothing prepares you for nine year-old Nagma, during a quiet moment inside the dargah of Qutb-e-Alam – now, like many dargahs in Gujarat, a camp for the detritus left by the sweep of the saffron sword - saying in that endearing singsong Hyderabadi way they speak Hindi there, “jab hum ghar vapas gaye na didi, do-teen din bad, tab vahan kuchh nahin tha, bilkul khetaan jaise tha” (When we went back home after a couple of days, there was nothing there, it was flat like a field) – gesturing with her little hands ironing out the air. Even though you have been to the ravaged bastis, seen the destruction for yourself, utterly thorough and high-tech, crunched underfoot the pulverized remains of homes and dreams, seen the gloating slogans on the ruins of walls – khandahar gali (Ruins Street), ajanta-ellora ni gufa (Ajanta-
Nothing prepares you for the policemen swaggering into the dargah with their shoes on. Has any Indian, of any religion or none whatever, ever entered temple, dargah or mosque except on naked feet? It’s a daily, ritual, humiliation in small things and big. It’s a hostage population. And the story of the middle-class Muslim, a friend of many of us, at the railway reservation counter in Ahmedabad as late as the end of May? Seeing his name on the form, someone behind him set up a shout, he was mobbed by others present, kicked and beaten, and he escaped with his life by managing to run to his scooter parked nearby. The crowd followed him for quite a while, he tells you. We know that the carnage was state-sponsored, that mob violence was meticulously planned and executed, but ordinary people at a railway station on the morning of a workingday? Did they not have offices to go to? Children to take to school? They just happened to be there that morning, after all. But then, if every mob numbered thousands, then the chances are high that every third or fourth person you see on the roads – man or woman – was part of a violent, rampaging mob. Nothing prepares you for that thought. Nothing prepares you for the blood-lust over the city. It is also a city that is expecting at any moment, that dreaded thing – “the Muslim backlash.” Every Hindu knows full well that what was perpetrated there is beyond human endurance. They have looked into the void – will there not come a moment when the void will look back? One morning an auto rickshaw driver taking some of us to Vatwa in a sort of convoy with two other autos, lost sight of the others. As we drove deeper into the clearly Muslim locality he grew more and more panicky. Trembling with fear, he said again and again that he had only agreed to come because of the others. He tried to make us get off – don’t pay me, he said, just let me go. They take two totally different routes to the Vatwa dargah, Hindu and Muslim auto drivers. Hindus invariably take a longer route through the Gujarat Industrial Development Corporation area, from the outside of the city centre. Muslims drive straight through the city, through teeming localities, many of them evidently Muslim. Then there was the government official from the Collector’s office, on a head-counting trip to the camp. The government has been trying to wash its hands of the camps ever since they were set up, to withdraw the pitiful amounts of rations it provides, and it is the task of the official headcounters to pounce on camps in “surprise” raids to prove that the camp organizers are in fact building fat fortunes on sarkari daal-chaval. That there are not as many people in the camps as the organizers claim, that they have all gone back to their homes. We asked the official who came to Vatwa dargah whether he had in fact seen the village, less than a kilometer from the dargah, where he was
expecting the people to go back to when the camps were closed. He had not, not once in the four months since the camps were opened. My brother Dilip and I insisted he come with us to see Navapura, to see the devastation, to decide for himself whether anyone could go back to live there. He agreed reluctantly, and off we went in the vehicle emblazoned with the words I can no longer encounter without a hollow feeling of dread – “Government of Gujarat.” We arrived, and started taking him around, the destruction more complete than any earthquake could have managed. People were around, working on their homes, trying to repair, to rebuild (that’s where they are when the headcounters swoop down – in the wrecks of their homes, with pitiful amounts of cement and building material; or they are roaming the city in search of work, because they are not being taken back into the jobs they were in before the dhamaal. Or they are out in places where they can escape from the merciless sun). We began to walk around, the official impassively looking and listening, but pretty soon word had spread, and a young man suddenly accosted him, challenging him on the paltry compensation, the lack of it for most, demanding to know why he or others hadn’t been seen there in four months. Others joined in the shouting, and more and more joined the little procession of about ten people following us. The official’s footsteps hastened, no longer was he the powerful sarkari afsar but merely a Hindu in a Muslim locality – his shoe slipped off as he practically ran to the car, which in the meanwhile had been started and was waiting, engine running – we made a clean, panic-stricken getaway. He off-loaded us back at the camp without a word. We related the story at the camp, and were rather taken aback by the amusement it generated, the way it was told and retold amidst building laughter. The image of the frightened government officer, his shoe slipping off – it became a moment of recaptured dignity. We can still frighten them, the laughter said. We are not entirely reduced to that heart-wrenching, humiliating picture of the young man pleading with folded hands for help. By the time we arrived, in early June, the manufacture of “the Muslim backlash” was in full swing. Every day the police would raid Juhapura, the Muslim ghetto, try to round up “suspects”, they would be resisted by the residents, there would be police firing, and the papers were full of front-page photographs of “Muslim mob marching towards Juhapura police station.” The photograph clearly showed an unarmed, peacefully marching demonstration – but more than two Muslims is, of course, “a mob”. Narendra Modi’s goons? Oh, that’s the “Government of Gujarat.” We went one day to the Hindu village adjoining Navapura. No-one from the camp would come with us, we were pointed in the right direction by our friends in the dargah. Vaghrivas is as devastated as Navapura, in an identical fashion. We have come to recognize the way these villages look – the black streaks of soot on broken walls, the evidence of explosives inside electricity meters, the systematic looting, right down to ripped off floor tiles. We
identify ourselves as Aman Ekta Manch volunteers from Delhi, people gather, a young man is located, clearly the spokesperson. He and the others show us around, the same heart-breaking remains of little, ordinary lives. They have returned from the camp where they were located because the organizer was swallowing up all the food and money that was coming in, and they were close to starving. “First the Bajrangis burnt down Navapura”, the young man tells us, and the next day, a mob arrived at their village. They show us the route by which they ran for their lives, tripping and falling, children caught underfoot. They headed for the other Hindu village across a stagnant pond – they pointed it out to us. Undamaged. But that village was far from welcoming – they were thakurs, these were lowcaste chunars. ”They wouldn’t let us enter, they said they would be killed too.” I think of the feminist friend from Pune, after having met the survivors of the Chaman Pura mass rapes, crying out in bewilderment and anguish – “What makes us Hindus so tolerant of violence? Even the women participated in the rapes, you know. It was the local dhoban (washerwoman) who helped tear off clothes. Is it the perpetual, endemic caste violence in our society that trains us to take this so lightly, even to enjoy it – the public humiliation and slaughter of human beings?” But the Vaghrivasis did force their way in to safety. The mob did not follow. Did they recognize anyone in the mob? There is disagreement on this, and a confused discussion breaks out. Didn’t the police help? No, the police told them to run for their lives, and would not fire on the mob. The Gujarat police did not take the opportunity to fire on a Muslim mob? And the identical pattern of destruction? And the confusion on whether they recognized people from the neighbouring village? Who was in that mob, really? We look across at the Bajrang Dal flag fluttering across the field, think about the way they were referred to as “Bajrangis” – not as “Hindu”… They point us in the direction of the dargah, where we say we are headed, but they too, will not accompany us beyond a point. As we turn to leave, the young man mutters, naming the camp organizer – “Akbarbhai ko hamara salaam kehna.” When we pass on the greeting back at the dargah, Akbarbhai smiles politely. By June in Gujarat, there have been several hundreds of volunteers from all over the country, some like us coordinating with Nagrik Pahel in Ahmedabad, others with other civil society initiatives in the state, and still others just landing up and trying to be of use. (Every day one or the other of us would break down, and Bina, our friend, philosopher and guide in Ahmedabad, would calm us. When do the secular activists in Gujarat sleep or eat? When do they have the luxury of crying?) The volunteers have come from Mumbai and Pune, from Hyderabad and Vellore, from Delhi and Almora and Lucknow. They are doctors and those with training in psychiatry and counselling, others with experience in community work, government employees and private sector employees on their annual leave, filmmakers, theatre people, teachers and students. Some are
independently wealthy, others are desperate to go, but cannot even afford second class train fare – other people sponsor them. Some are so young that their parents seek reassurance that it will “be safe”, others are close to retirement. Another thing. They are overwhelmingly Hindu. A Kashmiri Pandit writes in an email message – “I as a Kashmiri was a victim yesterday. Today if it happens to be a poor Gujarati Muslim, tomorrow it may be the turn of anybody – a poor Hindu, Muslim, secularist or a pseudosecularist. I and a friend of mine have found something definite that can be done. Something on a small scale…In the heart of Amdavad, in Beharampura, there is a small Muslim basti… Some residents are now gradually and very reluctantly wending their way back from the relief camp to their burnt and looted houses… We would like to help them rebuild their lives, to get them back on their feet again, bring them to a safe home…in a city where they were born, which they must not stop loving. We want to live with the people in this chali, we want to be with them when they are scared – there is still a very palpable fear in Ahmedabad about the rath yatra which is to take place on 12 July. We want to keep watch every night with them in case the mobs come again. We want to be with these people with our hearts and minds and we want to participate with them in the rebuilding of their lives.” Shame – it crops up again and again – “We are ashamed of what has happened. We want to show we are sorry.” At one orientation in Ahmedabad for a team that had just arrived, a young woman says seriously – “I’ll do anything required of me. Anything.” We all recognize the feeling. It’s a form of prayaschit, of atonement. The horror has been perpetrated in our name – in the name of Hindus. We are responsible. For many of us who never considered ourselves to be “Hindu” it is a difficult process of coming to terms with this identity. We argue about it among ourselves, if people in the camps ask what our religion is, what should be our reply? Some feel we should respond – what does it matter, we are all humans. But others say that it would be grossly insensitive to those in the camps to deny that it is as Muslims they have experienced humiliation, torture and slaughter. The taunts about circumcision, the desecration of Qurans and mosques, the demolition of dargahs, the forced shouting of Jai Shri Ram before being cut into pieces. (Was there ever a time when that cry came from the heart in praise and thanksgiving?) And now the conditions being laid down if they want to return to their homes where they have lived for centuries – no meat except on Id, no aazan, no beards. It is their Muslim identity that is to be obliterated. Humiliatingly obliterated. And if this is so, how can we deny our Hindu identity – it shouts itself from our names, from our bodies, from our practices, from the way we speak Hindi and Malayalam. It strikes us that this was ever so – we were always Hindu, even when we claimed to be non-believers. For we were always legally Hindu and Muslim and Christian, governed by Hindu and Muslim and Christian personal laws. This is not an identity we can choose to take on or deny – this is an
identity that we bear, for better or for worse, and all the more so if we are believing and practicing Hindus. It calls itself the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, it claims that Hindus want the temple at Ayodhya. We must reclaim that space. We are Hindus too, those who want a democratic India in which all can live in dignity and peace. Suddenly, towards the end of our stay in Vatwa, the children who have become very close to us, hear a rumour. In the impromptu school we have begun with the help of local young educated women, Safia comes up to ask, “Didi, aap Hindu ho?” (Are you Hindu?) At our reply, she claps her hand over her mouth in shock and dismay – “Haww..”, she gasps. The class breaks up, the children cluster around – “Amanbhai bhi? Aradhyadidi bhi?” they name us one by one. [Aman is Aman Sethi]. Seven-year old Sultan swaggers up – “Kaun kehta hai ki aap Hindu hain?” (Who says you are Hindu?) he shouts, eager to protect our honour. In a few moments however, it is part of their common sense, they have absorbed the knowledge. We go back to multiplication tables. The next day Safia is teaching me a rhyme to go with the game all little girls seem to play, clapping hands together rhythmically. It’s mostly nonsense, as these rhymes are. I catch the odd phrase – “garam masala” she goes, “paani puri”, both of us clapping away. Suddenly – “Laam Lachhman”. I stop, surprised. What did you say, I ask. Safia is irritated with this break in the rhythm. She says impatiently, “Aap Hinduon mein nahin hota, Laam Lachhman?” (You know, what you Hindus have, Ram-Lakshman.) Oh that. We carry on. At the camp at Aman Chowk, where some members of our team, Aarti Sethi and Bhrigupati Singh, young people with experience in theatre, conducted theatre games with the children over the week, they had a similar experience. There the team brought up the question themselves – “Do you know who we are?” they asked towards the end of their stay. The children guessed, “Bhai-behen? Mian-biwi?” No, no, do you know what our religion is? They guessed again – Sikh ho? Isai ho? The two of us are Hindu, Bhrigu explained. Ho hi nahin sakta, (it’s not possible), the children were confident. “Hindu” was a word they associated with terror, with fire, with frightening shouts of Jai Shri Ram, with fleeing in the night. These children were playing games of Hindu toli versus Muslim toli in the camp – of course it was inconceivable to them that any Hindu would have spent this time playing with them and making them laugh. Zubeida had a bangle business, destroyed now, of course. In the shade of the neem protecting the dargah, she chats to me about Delhi, where she has relatives. But she is not from Gujarat originally. “Bindravan gayi ho?” she asks. Have you been to Brindavan. No, I reply. “Tirath karne nahin gayi? Never gone on pilgrimage? No. Hum wahin se hain. Wahi hamara vatan hai.” We are from there. That is our land. Hamara vatan. Zubeida’s and mine. We have no other. (This article appears at kafila.org)
UID QUESTIONS FOR MR. NILEKANI S. G. Vombatkere The Aadhaar scheme of the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) is to provide India’s billion-plus people with a unique identification number. Enrolment is not mandatory, though it was mentioned that it would be difficult for people to access public services if not done. The scheme requires individuals to provide their photograph, fingerprints and iris scan along with documentary personal information for data capture by outsourced operators. It is meant to bypass the corrupt bureaucratic system and deliver government subsidies and grants to the poor, and bring them into the banking system. Sceptics argue that it is an effort to capture the funds of hundreds of millions of micro- and nano-investors who are today outside the banking system, to bring them into the credit economy. The scheme was introduced as a pilot project in Karnataka’s Mysore district. The poor and those who survive on daily wages were not enthusiastic about enrolment, because it meant losing four or five days wages, to stand in queues, to fill up forms, to produce documents, to provide biometrics, etc., and, later, to open bank accounts. The UIDAI overcame the initial reluctance by wide advertisement of the benefits of enrolment. When this too did not achieve the target set, the local administration informed the public that PDS ration and LPG supply would not be available without the Aadhaar number. This resulted in serpentine queues right through the day at enrolment centres, at the end of which the UIDAI could claim that 95 per cent of Mysore district’s population had enrolled itself into the scheme. Media reports indicate that commencing January 1, 2013, MGNREGA, the Rajiv Gandhi Awas Yojana (RGAY), the Ashraya housing scheme, Bhagyalakshmi and the social security and pension scheme will be linked with Aadhaar in Mysore district. This linking, with rights like salary and pension, and important entitled benefits and services, has raised some hackles because enrolment is not mandatory. It has led to questions on whether salary and pension rights, and benefits like PDS ration and LPG supply can be denied just because an individual does not possess a unique Aadhaar number. Today, teachers in Maharashtra and government employees in Jharkhand cannot draw their salaries. Apart from pro-poor projects like MGNREGA and RGAY, even jobs, housing, provident funds and registering a marriage now require enrolment. From being not mandatory, the “poor-inclusive” Aadhaar scheme appears to have quietly metamorphosed into becoming exclusionary and non-optional. The UIDAI’s own Biometrics Standards Committee stated that retaining biometric efficiency for a database of more than one billion
people “has not been adequately analysed” and the problem of fingerprint quality in India “has not been studied in depth.” Thus the technological basis of the project remains doubtful. However, the severest critic of the entire scheme has been the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance (PSCF), which deliberated that the Aadhaar scheme is “full of uncertainty in technology as the complex scheme is built upon untested, unreliable technology and several assumptions.” It found Aadhaar to be “directionless” and “conceptualized with no clarity.” But the UIDAI shelters under the Prime Minister’s protective wing and continues to stonewall not only public queries and criticism, but also the unequivocal verdict of the PSCF. Possibly even more serious is data security, and the consequent threat to privacy. The UIDAI claims that access to its database will be secure from intelligence agencies. This claim is hollow, because the Aadhaar project is contracted to receive technical support from L-1 Identity Solutions (now MorphoTrust USA), a well-known defence contractor. Contracts are also awarded to Accenture Services Pvt. Ltd., which works with the U.S. Homeland Security, and Ernst & Young to install the UIDAI’s Central ID Data Repository. It is impossible to ensure database security when technical providers are American business corporations, and U.S. law requires them to provide information demanded of them, to U.S. Homeland Security. But the UIDAI is in denial. If biometric data and other personal information fall into the hands of unauthorised agencies, privacy is unequivocally compromised. Compromising an individual’s personal data affects only that person, but when the personal data of many millions of people is involved, there is potential for a national disaster. The fact that the UIDAI is silent on or evasive about these security concerns does not inspire confidence in the capability of the UIDAI or the Aadhaar system to maintain the right to personal privacy. Though the Aadhaar project is “not mandatory,” enrolment by threat of exclusion from availing benefits and services, and threat of denial of rights like salary or pension makes it non-optional. This kind of deviousness is unbecoming of a democratically elected government. Coming on top of many huge scams, the present government may suffer electorally if it persists in using unethical, extra-legal coercion to impose the security-defective, technologically unproven, very expensive UID Aadhaar scheme on the public. (This
Globalization CAST IN A BANKRUPT IMAGE: STEALING HEALTH AND WEALTH IN INDIA By Colin Todhunter dating back thousands of years are being uprooted thanks to a redefining of the individual in relation to the collective, how people should live and what they should aspire to be like, ably assisted of course by an all pervasive advertising industry that reaches out even into the small towns and villages these days. Consumerism’s world view is being fed to people and corporate news organisations are following suit with sensationalist, celebrity-related infotainment formats that dovetail with celebrity-endorsed products and commercials as well as high profile events (like the corporate ad fest known as the Indian Premier League). The result is that this world view (and the social relations endorsed by it) is becoming regarded as ‘natural’ and is not viewed for the controlling culture it is: a hegemonic one that binds people to products and ultimately to capitalism and one that is immune to its own falsehoods.
What is happening in India right now encapsulates the current battle that is taking place across the globe, which will decide the future direction of humanity. This country of 1.2 billion people is where modernity meets tradition head on. We are not just talking about ‘modernity’ in some kind of benign technocratic sense here, stripped of all political or ideological context; we are discussing a specific form, a variety that has little to do with progress or with making life easier for the bulk of the people, not unless that is if you equate ‘modernity’ with increasing powerlessness, subjugation and the destruction of local traditions or economies. The trouble is that ‘globalisation’ is too often confused with a beneficial notion of modernity and genuine mutual interdependence and cooperation between nation states, which in reality it clearly is not. Based on this deliberate misrepresentation by politicians and the mainstream media, we are encouraged to regard globalisation as a positive thing and to embrace it. Globalisation has come to India and is impacting all aspects of life. So let’s take a look at it in action. Globalisation in India Today, individualism, inequality and capitalism are increasingly being accepted as ultimate truths and as comprising a reality of how many view the world and evaluate others around them. Social and cultural traditions
Transnational companies are in effect trying to cast India in consumer capitalism’s own sordid image: a morally, socially and economically bankrupt one at that. Hand in hand with this is an ongoing civil war in the ‘tribal belt’ and other violent conflicts elsewhere in the country. Powerful foreign (and Indian) corporations with the full military backing of the Indian state are attempting to grab lands for various industries, including the resource extraction, nuclear and real estate sectors. It is for good reason that environmentalist Vandana Shiva argues that the plundering of Indian agriculture in order to cast it in the image of one that is beneficial for Western interests is resulting in a forced removal of farmers from the land and the destruction of traditional communities on a scale of which has not been witnessed anywhere before throughout history. The ratio between the top and bottom ten per cents of wage distribution has doubled since the early 1990s, when India opened up it economy. According to the 2011 Organisation for Cooperation and Economic Development report ‘Divided we stand’, the doubling of income inequality over the last 20 years has made India one of the worst performers in the category of emerging economies. 42 per cent of 1.2 billion live on less than $1.25 per day, the highest number of poor in the world. But these are the types of things that happen when US corporations and their stooges in the US government or at the IMF, World Bank, WTO or some other political machinery come beating at a government’s door with promises, bribes, threats or lop-sided deals. If you have read John Perkins’s book ‘Confessions of an economic hitman’, you will immediately get the point here. Moreover, the impulse for Western capitalism to seek out foreign
markets has been heightened due the current plight of Western economies. And don’t forget that it was these same corporate swindlers that helped destroy the post1945 Keynesian consensus and tip the balance in favour of elite interests in the first place during the early 1970s, which eventually led to the depression of wages and therefore demand and thus economic crisis. The debtinflated economies that resulted from the 1980s onwards could not be sustained, and places like India now seemingly represent rich pickings for a certain brand of slash and burn capitalism.
supreme and ‘socialism’ becomes a misused and abused concept and identified not as a realistic alternative, but as some awful conspiracy that lies behind the rot.
Call it ‘globalisation’ if you must, but let’s call it for what it really is: imperialism. In an effort to maintain profit margins, elite concerns are going abroad to plunder public assets and exploit human labour or trample on human life.
The government has already placed part of agriculture in the hands of powerful western agribusiness. You don't have to look far to read the many reports and research papers to know the effects - biopiracy, patenting and seed monopolies, pesticides and the use of toxins leading to superweeds and superbugs, the destruction of local rural economies, water run offs from depleted soil leading to climate change and severe water resource depletion and contamination.
As India hangs onto the coat tails of Uncle Sam’s agenda for global hegemony, are we to sit back and watch Indian society being hollowed out in a similar way to that of the US? Possibly so, if we are to take the food and agriculture sector as a starting point. The globalisation of food and agriculture in India
It is no exaggeration to state that foreign corporations are already shovelling their poison into the mouths of Indians, which are being held open courtesy of the compliant Indian state. ‘Mouths’ and ‘poison’ are being used in a literal sense here. Traditional agricultural practices and, by implication food, is being destroyed by Western agribusiness. People are becoming sick of it. Again, ‘sick’ is being used in a literal sense. From how food is produced, to what ends up on the plate, both food sovereignty and the health of the nation are under threat. Export-oriented policies that are part of the structural adjustment of Indian agriculture have led to a shift in India from the production of food crops to commodities for exports. Food is being increasingly controlled by the likes of Monsanto, Syngenta and their subsidiaries, thanks to the Knowledge Initiative on Agriculture which they had a direct hand in drawing up, and people are becoming ill due to the chemical inputs that are now a defining feature of modern agriculture and food processing. The worst thing is that it doesn’t have to be this way. Modernity and progress should be about improving quality of life of the masses and a wider sense of well-being or happiness. And, according to various ‘well-being’ surveys in recent years (Happy Planet Index, World Values Survey and the Human Development Index), the key to achieving such things may well lie in good health, decent education, greater levels of social equality and welfare provision, selfsustaining communities and people living within the limits set by the environment. It’s for a reason that the US and UK tend not to do so well in such surveys, as they have been the most strident proponents of economic neo-liberalism and empire in recent years. Once political leaders abdicate responsibility for organising a society in a way that works for the public good and place emphasis on ‘deregulation’ and cede power to ‘the market’ (aka giving the corporate thieves the keys to their home), what we are left with are places like the US where capitalism and oligarchy reign
One of the most revealing pieces about the impact of such chemical-based agriculture appeared in Bangalore’s Deccan Herald newspaper just last week (Transformation of a food bowl into a cancer epicentre). Gautam Dheer writes that the contamination of drinking water by pesticides is a major cause of cancer in India’s Punjab state. At this point, although various other factors may also be to blame, it is worth noting that cancers are on the rise in many of India’s urban centres. For major organs, India has some of the highest incidence rates in the world. The links between pesticides and cancers and illnesses are well documented in Western countries (for instance, Dr Meryl Hammond, Campaign for Alternatives to Pesticides, told a Canadian parliament committee in 2009 that a raft of studies published in prestigious peer-reviewed journals point to strong associations between chemical pesticides and a vast range of serious life-threatening health consequences.
And that’s not even mentioning the impact of hormones or other additives in our food). India is one of the world’s largest users of pesticides. Ladyfinger, cabbage, tomato and cauliflower in particular may often contain dangerously high levels and fruits and vegetables are sprayed and tampered with to ripen and make them more colourful. Research by the School of Natural Sciences and Engineering at the National Institute of Advanced Studies in Bangalore reported in 2008 that many crops for export had been rejected internationally due to high pesticide residues. Should we expect the health outcomes in India to be any different as it adopts or has already adopted a system of chemically dependent agriculture and food production? The mainstream media often cites the increasing prevalence of certain diseases as due to people ‘adopting Western lifestyles and habits’. The individualization of health issues (poor lifestyle choices) is a convenient explanation which diverts attention from structural issues, not least how India’s food and agriculture sector is being recast by Western corporations and the possible health impacts thereof. In his piece, Gautam Dheer argues that Punjab stares at an inevitable crisis. Agriculture has become increasingly unsustainable, and the model practised by desperate debtridden farmers has only meant more indiscriminate use of pesticides, something which is now being linked to the alarmingly high incidents of cancer in Punjab. Gautam writes that a study of two districts in Punjab revealed the presence of pesticides such as heptachlor and chloropyrifos and other heavy metals in samples of drinking water and concluded that these had led to a higher incidence of cancer. The Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER) in Chandigarh states that the indiscriminate use of pesticides in crop production in Punjab is one of the reasons for high incidents of cancer in Punjab. Moreover, Punjab’s ground water table has dramatically dipped due to over exploitation by chemical-dependent agriculture, which is by its very nature heavily waterintensive. In several places, the use of ground water has either been completely banned or restricted. Although Punjab pioneered the ‘Green Revolution’ (or perhaps because it did), the average annual growth of the GDP from agriculture and allied sectors in the last seven years for Punjab has remained at a mere 1.76 per cent, against the national average of 3.7 per cent. In fact, it plunged to below onr per cent in last fiscal year. What’s the answer: more chemical inputs to try to boost yields? More water depletion, increased contamination?Punjab already has 90 cancer patients for every 100,000 of its population: ten times more than the
national average. Giant community reverse-osmosis plants have come up in almost all districts of the state to help matters with safe drinking water In Punjab, groundwater is continuously declining in 85 per cent of areas within the state. Nitrate presence in water has gone up by ten times in the past four decades. Of 138 hydrogeological blocks, over 100 are listed as dark or grey zones due to over-exploitation. Groundwater levels are going down by about 60 cm every year. As per official estimates, nearly 35,000 pumps have been going underground each year over the last four years. Punjab has to find a quick solution for this form of agriculture that is not only unsustainable, but deathly too. Environmentalist Vandana Shiva argues that this type of intensive chemical-industrial agriculture, with its reliance on vast amounts of fresh water, fertilisers, pesticides and the like and is destroying biodiversity and is unsustainable in the long term. It might have increased production in the relative short term, but it has been at a terrible cost to health and the environment. The situation in Punjab could just be the tip of the iceberg. For Shiva, the answer is to return to basics by encouraging biodiverse, organic, local crop systems, which she asserts is more than capable of feeding India’s huge population – and, unlike chemical intensive agriculture – feeding it healthily. In the meantime, powerful politically-connected and often extremely unscrupulous Big Agra and Big Oil concerns involved in fertiliser, pesticide and seed manufacturing (and let’s not forget the genetically modified sector) have a lot invested in maintaining the current, highly profitable system. After all, the logic of global capitalism is to ensure profits for shareholders and thus grab increasing shares of markets wherever they may be and, as John Perkins notes, by all means necessary. An article in the journal Hortscience in 2009 by Donald R Davis (Declining fruit and vegetable composition: what is the evidence?) indicated falling nutritional values as a result of industrialised agriculture. Should we be surprised? In a bankrupt system, nutritious, healthy, life-sustaining food or healthy environments are but secondary concerns. (Colin Todhunter is originally from the North-West of England, and has spent many years in India. A former social policy researcher, his writing has appeared in dozens of publications, including newspapers, academic journals, magazines, books and online. This article is from his blog: http://colintodhunter.blogspot.in/)
Afzal Guru Execution FOUR STATEMENTS ON THE EXECUTION OF AFZAL GURU By Shivam Vij Statement from the PEOPLE’S UNION FOR CIVIL LIBERTIES The PUCL condemns the hanging of Afzal Guru in Tihar Jail early in the morning (9.2.2013) today. The tearing hurry with which Afzal Guru was hanged, accompanied by the flouting of all established norms by not giving his family their legal right to meet him before taking him to the gallows, clearly indicates that there were political considerations behind taking this step. More shameful is the explanation of the Home department that the wife and family of Afzal Guru were intimated of the hanging by a mail sent by Speed Post and Registered Post. Decency and humanity demanded that the Union Government give prior intimation to the family and an opportunity to meet him. Such a surreptitious action of the government also deprives the family of Afzal Guru to right to seek legal remedy. PUCL also condemns the repressive stand of the Delhi police in not allowing a group of people who were protesting against the hanging and detaining them in police stations. We are equally concerned by reports that rightwing goons were permitted by the police to use violence
against the protestors. PUCL asserts the right of citizens to dissent and express their opposition to capital punishment in a peaceful manner. PUCL reiterates its demand for the abolition of the death penalty. PUCL is of the view that India must not retain in its statute book something so abhorrent to human rights as the death penalty. More especially, when more than one hundred and fifty countries have banned or put a moratorium on it. PUCL feels that as the land of Buddha and Gandhi, death penalty has no place. PUCL feels that starting with Kasab, now with Afzal Guru, the country is going to witness a spate of executions. We give a call to the nation to break this spiral of executions. Prabhakar Sinha (President) V Suresh (General Secretary)
Statement from AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL Today’s execution of Mohammad Afzal Guru indicates a disturbing and regressive trend towards executions shrouded in secrecy and the resumption of death penalty use in India, said Amnesty International India. “We condemn the execution in the strongest possible terms. This very regrettably puts India in opposition to the global trends towards moving away from the death penalty,” said Shashikumar Velath, Programmes Director at Amnesty International India. Indian authorities hanged Mohammad Afzal Guru at 0800 hrs in Tihar Jail, New Delhi on 9 February 2013. His execution is the second in India in three months after an eight year hiatus. Mohammed Afzal Guru was sentenced to death in December 2002 after being convicted of conspiracy to attack the Parliament of India, waging war against India and murder in December 2001. He was tried by a special court designated under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA), a law which fell considerably short of international fair trial standards and has since been repealed, in 2004, after serious allegations of its widespread abuse. Seven members of the security forces including a woman constable were killed in the December 2001 attack on India’s Parliament complex in central Delhi, as were the five persons who had carried out the attack.
Afzal Guru’s death sentence was confirmed by the Supreme Court in August 2005, and his mercy petition was reportedly rejected by the President on 3 February 2013. Of the other three persons initially arrested for the attack, Afsan Guru was released without charges. The trial court also imposed death sentences on Delhi-based professor S A R Geelani and Shaukath Hussain Guru, but the Supreme Court acquitted Geelani of all charges and commuted Shaukath Hussain Guru’s sentence to 10 years’ imprisonment. He was released from Tihar jail in December 2010. “Serious questions have been raised about the fairness of Afzal Guru’s trial. He did not receive legal representation of his choice or a lawyer with adequate experience at the trial stage. These concerns were not addressed,” said Shashikumar Velath, Programmes Director at Amnesty International India. “Before Ajmal Kasab’s execution in November, Indian authorities used to make information about the rejection of mercy petitions and dates of execution available to the public prior to any executions. The new practice of carrying out executions in secret is highly disturbing,” said Shashikumar. It is not clear whether Afzal Guru was given the opportunity to seek a judicial review of the decision to reject his mercy petition – a practice that has been followed in other cases.
According to initial reports from Kashmir, Afzal Guru’s family in Kashmir say they were not informed of his imminent execution, in violation of international standards on the use of the death penalty. The body was also not returned to the family for last rites and burial, in violation of international standards. India is among a minority of countries which continue to use the death penalty. In total, 140 countries, more than two thirds of the world’s countries, are abolitionist in law or
in practice. In 2011, only 21 states in the world executed, meaning that 90 per cent of the world was execution-free. Amnesty International opposes the death penalty in all cases without exception, regardless of the nature or circumstances of the crime; guilt, innocence or other characteristics of the individual; or the method used by the state to carry out the execution. It opposes it as a violation of the right to life as recognized in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment.
Statement from the COMMITTEE FOR THE RELEASE OF POLITICAL PRISONERS The CRPP condemns strongly the illegal execution of Mohd. Afzal Guru. The central home minister and the home secretary have gone on record saying that every procedure has been followed in the case of Afzal Guru. None of his family members are aware of this decision of the Government of India. Nor do the lawyers of Afzal Guru. It is mandatory on the side of the government to inform the petitioners who had filed the clemency petition. Afzal’s wife Tabassum had filed a clemency petition demanding justice for her husband who never throughout the trial got an opportunity to defend himself and demand justice. She had in that petition even traced his early days in Kashmir and how he was continually being harassed and tortured by the notorious STF of J&K to act as an informer for the state. She showed in that petition how the ordeal has still been continuing in the life of her husband and their family in their quest for justice. The fact remains that neither Tabassum nor any of her family members have been informed about the rejection of this petition. It is absolutely necessary that once a clemency petition is rejected the petitioner should be informed so that s/he can take recourse to other provisions that are guaranteed by the judiciary of India. There are provisions for judicial review which are quite exhaustive. But Afzal Guru was denied once again his last chance to represent himself and get relief from the gallows. It should be noted that Mr. Bhullar who is also under death row in Tihar Jail had moved a petition in the Supreme Court to look into the matter of the delay in the execution of death sentence. There are case laws in the apex court wherein pronounced delay in the execution of death sentence is in itself grounds for converting the same into life. The court had appointed Mr. Ram Jethmalani as the amicus curiae in this case and was hearing the petition. That the Government of India under the Congress government has even subverted the Supreme Court in
clandestinely executing the death sentence bemoans the real, fascist nature of this government which has scant regards for its own judiciary and law. The clandestine execution of the death sentence of Mr. Afzal Guru violating all procedures and even the law of the land is nothing but desperate attempts of the ruling class parties like the Congress and the BJP to bet for votes appealing to the frenzy of jingoism. After having alienated the masses of the people and even the middle class through their anti-people, pro-market policies resulting in widespread miseries for the working people these parties have lost their faces and credibility and hence this desperate, brazen display of competitive jingoism on the life of someone who from the day one had never a chance to defend himself properly. We at the CRPP appeal to all the democratic and progressive sections of the subcontinent to see through these devious designs of the ruling classes and forge a mass movement to abolish the evil of death penalty from the subcontinent. The CRPP protests against the arrest of Prof.SAR Geelani who is our Working President while on his way to Malviya Nagar by the notorious Special Cell of the Delhi Police. The Special Cell as usual is browbeating in every possible way to terrorise the people from expressing their dissent against the clandestine execution of Mr. Afzal Guru. We demand his immediate and unconditional release. We call upon all progressive and democratic sections to protest against such fascist designs of the Indian state. In Solidarity, Amit Bhattacharyya (Secretary General); PA Sebastian (Vice President); MN Ravunni (Vice president); Rona Wilson (Secretary Public Relations)
WE CONDEMN THE COLD BLOODED EXECUTION OF AFZAL GURU BY THE STATE: RESOLUTION ADOPTED AT THE SECOND SHAHID AZMI MEMORIAL LECTURE, 9 FEBRUARY 2013 This House condemns in no uncertain terms the hanging of Afzal Guru by stealth and in secrecy, disallowing him the last judicial resort that was due to him. We condemn the
callous denial to Afzal Guru the last opportunity to meet with his family members.
There is ample documentation to demonstrate that Afzal Guru’s trial was vitiated; that his legal defence was compromised; that fabricated and forged evidence was submitted to, and accepted by the court, the highest of which, admitted while sentencing him to death that this was done to satisfy the ‘collective conscience of the nation’.
We strongly oppose the cold-blooded execution of Afzal Guru in our name.
SignatoriesVrinda Grover, Senior Advocate, Delhi; Yug Mohit Chaudhary, Senior Advocate, Mumbai; Manisha Sethi, Sangamitra Sanghamitra Misra, Tanweer Fazal and Rahul Govind, JTSA; V Suresh, Kavita Srivasta, Ravi Kiran Jain & Mahtab Alam, PUCL; Usha Ramanathan, Legal Researcher; Harsh Mandar, Aman Biradiri; Mahmood Farooqui, Writer; Anusha Rizvi, Filmmaker; Dilnawaz Pasha, Journalist; Shweta Ghosh, Filmmaker; Aporvanand, DU; Aftab Alam, DU; Kalaiyavasan, JNU; Priyanka Varma; Peggy Mohan, Linguist and author; Meera Ahmad, Anthropologist; Mukul Dube, Writer-Editor; Iqbal Ahmad, Journalist; Madhuresh Kumar, NAPM; Mona Das, DU; Sadiq Naqvi, Journalist; Inteshar Ahmad; Binno Sen; Neenu Suresh; Prashanto Chandra Sen; Mirtyunjay, Student for Resistance; Md wasim; Asad Ashraf, jamia millia islamia; Mayur Suresh, Advocate; G Anamda
Selam, Advocate; Kaveri Gill; Kiran Bhatty; Daanish Hussain, actor; Prince Jindal; Seema Misra; Sohail Akbar; Shalini Gera, Activist; Monu Kohar; G. Venkatesan, CHRI; Mary Abraham, Ambedkar University; Bhawana Mahajan; Raja Bagga; P C Sen; Kusum Lata, SFR; Jitendra Kumar, JNU; S. Prabu; S. Sethu Mahendran; Kathipavan. N, DU; K.S.M. Vimal Kanth; Suchi Chaudhary; Nasiruddin, Journalist; Chitra Chaudhry; Sawmiya Rajaran, JNU; Sriranjini Vadiraj; Shreya Ghosh; Jeevika Shiv; Gauri Jagdale; Suroor Mander; Dheeraj Sahba Saiyyad; Manisha Pandey, Journalist; Shahnawaz Malik, Journalist; Malathi M; Anisha Raman; G. S. Anuj Kumar;
(This compilation appears at kafila.org)
THROTTLING FREEDOM IN KASHMIR AFTER HANGING AFZAL By People’s Union For Democratic Rights People’s Union for Democratic Rights (PUDR) strongly condemns the imposition of curfew accompanied by blanket gag on all media, including television, print and online, in the Kashmir valley following the secretive hanging of Afzal Guru. Since Saturday morning Kashmir valley has been placed under a preemptive curfew forcing people to stay locked inside their houses. Satellite and cable tv, internet and even mobile sms have been blacked out in the valley. On Saturday night, the police also stopped the publication and distribution of all newspapers. The authorities did not allow copy to reach the press. Police teams visited various printing presses of daily newspapers and asked the management to stop publishing. The dailies that managed to slip through this net and publish their editions had all their copies seized. With internet services withdrawn, online editions too couldn’t get updated on time. So far, three people have been killed and more than fifty injured in the Valley due to police action on popular protests. This is all being done to silence the protests against the cold-blooded judicial killing of Guru and to keep the people in the dark about dissenting voices and popular opinion in Kashmir. Evidently, putting the entire population of the Valley under house-arrest and this blatant violation of the right to free speech, expression and assembly doesn’t prick
the conscience of the self-styled keepers of the ‘collective conscience’ of the country. One is also struck by the double standards of the J&K state government. On the one hand chief minister Omar Abdullah is speaking out against the hanging of Afzal Guru, on the other hand his administration is systematically blacking out information and curbing the basic and inalienable democratic rights of the Kashmiri people. Gagging of the media is nothing new in Kashmir, and by and large it goes unreported in the Indian media. In fact, India’s media watchdogs have acquired notoriety in consistently acquiescing in the throttling of freedom of expression and assembly through their silence, where Kashmir is concerned. PUDR sincerely hopes that the Indian mainstream media and its apex bodies like the Press Council of India, Editors Guild and the Indian Broadcasters Association will discover courage to speak out against this outrageous attack on the freedom of the press and the systematic throttling of democratic rights of the people of Kashmir. Asish Gupta and D Manjit (Secretaries)
Ashis Nandy’s JLF Statement CORRUPTION AS EMPOWERMENT? By Praful Bidwai
Photo: P. Lashkari (outlook.com)
If India’s maverick psychologist and social critic Ashis Nandy had planned to ignite a potentially ugly controversy at the Jaipur Literary Festival, he couldn’t have done better than by insinuating intimate links between corruption and Dalits, Adivasis and Other Backward Classes. After warning that he would make a “very undignified” and “almost vulgar” statement, Nandy said: “It is a fact that most of the corrupt come from the OBCs and the Scheduled Castes (SCs) and now increasingly Scheduled Tribes (STs), and as long as this is the case, [the] Indian republic will survive.”
that’s not part of my concept of utopia...” He drew parallels between Singapore and Communist-ruled West Bengal, and said, “nobody from the OBCs...the SCs and the STs have come anywhere near power in West Bengal. It is an absolutely clean state...I do wish that there remains some degree of corruption in India because...it humanises our society.”
Nandy’s comment, broadcast by the media without giving its full context, provoked a strident demand for his arrest under the SCs and STs (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. He clarified that he meant no offence to Dalits or OBCs and has consistently espoused their cause. Some Bahujan/Dalit writers defended him, and numerous intellectuals protested against his right to free speech being muzzled.
Nandy contended that the upper-castes flourish by using privileged networks and exchanging favours, including securing admissions and fellowships for their children at reputed universities. Dalit leader “Mayawati doesn’t have that privilege. She probably has only relatives whose ambition was to be a nurse or run a petrol pump. If she has to oblige somebody...she will probably have to take the bribe of having 100 petrol pumps, and that is very conspicuous...Our corruption doesn’t look that corrupt, their corruption does.”
I too signed that petition. Dragging Nandy to court would have been shameful. A tall public intellectual, he has consistently questioned upper-caste morality and supported marginalised groups. He obviously didn’t intend to denigrate such groups. But, taken literally, his statement admits of this very interpretation. The Supreme Court has since stayed Nandy’s arrest, but reprimanded him for making “irresponsible” remarks.
Nandy termed criminal gangs as “perfectly egalitarian” and Dawood Ibrahim’s outfit “totally secular.” He also said people like Mulayam Singh Yadav and Laloo Prasad had to “claw” their way to power, and yet remain insecure. “Even if you make through corruption millions of rupees, you suspect that you will not be able to get away [by] or cleverly manipulating your investments...with the right connections, because you have none...”
What did Nandy really say? He said: “The only country which I know is close to zero corruption is Singapore, and
Later, in an interview, Nandy also defended corruption as “a safety valve” for the poor, which will make for a better
republic: “Corruption is about equality and redistributive justice.” He also claimed that proof of his main contention could be found in surveys of ticketless travellers and “urchins” who sell cinema tickets “in the black.” Several propositions are made here. One, the upper-caste elite’s attitude to corruption is deeply hypocritical: it’s steeped in nepotism but blames subalterns for corruption. Two, corruption gives agency and power to the underprivileged, and acts as an equaliser and a tool of “redistributive justice” in an unequal society. Subalterns need corruption to manipulate the system’s rules. Three, all forms of corruption – from the petty variety like ticketless travel to multibillion-dollar scams – are morally equal. And four, corruption has burgeoned among OBCs, Dalits and Adivasis in proportion to their rising social and political power, and because it has generally grown in society. In corruption-free societies, subordinate groups remain powerless; such societies are undesirable. To be fair, one must acknowledge Nandy’s reliance on irony, satire and shocking metaphors and his provocative style. Many of his “facts” cannot be empirically tested. He is a master of aphorisms calculated to shake people out of their complacency. Even taking all this into account, his overall argument is flawed. To start with, however, his first proposition in unassailable. The elite are indeed hypocritical. They set the rules of the system, which is itself unjust and corrupt. Yet, the upper castes’ corruption is often invisible, being routed through complex pathways into gigantic hard-to-unearth arms deals, money-laundering operations and land scams. However, the other three propositions lack validity and nuance, and reek of paternalism. That the poor must pay bribes in the form of high tuition charges or huge capitation fees to get their children admitted to good schools or colleges, while the rich don’t, is no sign of equality or redistributive justice, but of unequal access to education. Such groups acquire real agency only when their access to quality public services is enhanced through, for example, affirmative action. The Big Corruption that afflicts society – including underselling of natural resources from minerals to telecom spectrum, enormous subsidies to the already under-taxed rich, fiddling of imports and exports, predatory projects like Posco or Vedanta, and countless sweetheart deals – by and large remains an upper-caste monopoly which extracts rent and super-profits.
Dalits and Adivasis are victims, not beneficiaries, of Big Corruption, and lose their land and livelihoods to it. The recent growth of Dalit capitalism is no antidote to Big Corruption, it only mimics it on a smaller scale. It has made no difference to systemic, pervasive caste discrimination, or to the lot of the vast majority of Dalits, Adivasis and OBCs, as scholar-activist Anand Teltumbde, who happens to be a Dalit, argues. It is absurd to equate Big Corruption with ticketless travel, or with the bribes that the poor are forced to pay to the police to set up vegetable and food stalls, ply rickshaws or build temporary hovels. Nandy is equally wrong about criminal gangs being “perfectly egalitarian” or “secular.” Gangs are by definition authoritarian entities, totally dominated by the boss. Dawood’s “secular” gang was allegedly involved in largescale communal killings in the 1993 Mumbai bomb blasts. True, subaltern groups such as Phoolan Devi’s gang sometimes take to banditry partly to avenge upper-caste oppression. But banditry, like corruption, can never be a long-term solution to casteism. Casteism can only be combated through radical social reform and substantive empowerment of underprivileged castes through land reforms, affirmative action for the dispossessed, comprehensive provision of public services including food, nutrition, employment and healthcare, and social security measures like old-age and widow pensions. Despite his undoubted sympathy for the underdog, Nandy has never addressed these issues. He remains content to deal with the identities of marginality and explore how small sections – and they are always minuscule – of the underprivileged sometimes successfully “beat the system” through individual-centred corruption. Such corruption can never translate into collective empowerment. Even electoral successes haven’t helped India’s marginalised groups alter the political balance of power fundamentally, leave alone break casteism’s hold. Caste and oppressive social hierarchies in gender, class and community still remain the bane of Indian society. The basic flaw lies in Nandy’s rejection of modernity and the radical, emancipatory notion of equality deriving from it, which Ambedkar espoused. Nandy embraces tradition, including customs, memories, myths, knowledge systems and religious beliefs, as the key to empowering the underprivileged. By adding corruption to these, he has retreated further from the emancipatory agenda. (This article appeared in the Pakistani newspaper The News.)
Kudankulam TELL THE NATION THE TRUTH ON KKNPP By The Struggle Committee, The People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy Angered by moral and political corruption, disturbing developments and the overall mismanagement of the body politic, Marcellus tells Horatio in utter disgust and disappointment in Shakespeare’s classic play Hamlet: “Something is rotten in the state of Denmark.” We, the people of Tamil Nadu and Kerala, who have been fighting against the Koodankulam Nuclear Power Project (KKNPP) are feeling very much like Marcellus. We have been asking in vain for the basic reports on the project. Even after the Central Information Commissioner (CIC) passed an order to share the reports with the public, the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd. (NPCIL) has been ducking and dodging. We have been asking several important and pertinent questions about the design of the Reactor Pressure Vessel (RPV) in KKNPP, availability of sufficient fresh water for cooling and other purposes, disaster preparedness, liability arrangements, waste management, decommissioning plans, impact of reactors and desalination plants on our sea and seafood, and the livelihood of our fishermen and farmers. None of these issues has been addressed in a truthful, responsible, sensitive and sensible manner. Throwing all our democratic precepts and principles to the air and callously ignoring the on-going peaceful and nonviolent struggle of the concerned citizens, the Indian State and its nuclearocrats went ahead with Uranium fuel loading and testing at Koodankulam. The inept and improvident NPCIL that has had a very dismal record on delivering goods to the people of India is pushing hard on the KKNPP that is, by many accounts, still born. The haste in getting the senior officers such as Dr. S. K. Jain and Mr.Kasinath Balaji out of Koodankulam, the employment of Croatian and German technicians in the Russian designed and erected nuclear power plant, and the calculated and cunning leaking of ‘leaks and repairs’ news by the Minister of State at the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) are all clear indications that the KKNPP units are neither breathing nor crying. Strangely enough, NPCIL is claiming an excess spending of a whopping sum of Rs. 4,000 crores on the non-functioning and non-delivering power plant. We see a dangerous drama unfold in the Indian nukedom. On the one hand, the NPCIL wants to run the KKNPP units by any means and at any cost. They are desperately trying to keep the American, French and all other agreements and arrangements alive and start walking in the emerging India with the borrowed foreign crutches. The PMO that seems to be more bothered about the foreign-friendly Dr.Manmohan Singh’s leaving a false legacy of being the “Father of Developed India” than safeguarding the safety and
wellbeing of ordinary Indian citizens stands solidly behind the NPCIL. They together are very eager to enjoy the technological and political benefits and profits of KKNPP and all other projects. On the other hand, there is the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB), which has been severely rebuked and reprimanded by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India just a few months back for its non-performance. It is important to remember that the AERB is just a ‘desk and chair’ in the sprawling DAE complex and may not stand tall for too long. It is also pertinent to remember here that the Indian Parliament is considering the setting up of an independent and potent Nuclear Safety Regulatory Authority (NSRA) which may have more autonomy and credibility. Aghast at the manipulations and machinations of the DAE, NPCIL, AERB, PMO and the Indian State, some groups went to the courts including the Madras High Court, Delhi High Court, National Green Tribunal (NGT) and the Supreme Court (SC). The Madras High Court, among other things, had the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) officials change the thermal pollution temperature figures in a rushed and hushed manner and handed over a favorable verdict to the Indian State. They appealed to the Supreme Court where the case was heard and the judgment has been reserved for several weeks now. No one knows where the SC stands! But we know full well where the people of India stand. On the streets! Feeling clueless and hopeless! Abusing its power in an arrogant and authoritarian manner, the Indian State has imposed ‘sedition’ and ‘waging war’ cases on unarmed and nonviolent protestors. More responsible Prime Minister, Chief Minister and other senior leaders and officials keep strictly silent while a junior minister in Delhi goes around making infantile, irresponsible and incomplete statements on the KKNPP happenings. The honest and hard-working citizens of India have been struggling for more than 500 days with so many hardships and difficulties. When all is said and done, we seriously think and feel that “Something is rotten in the state of India.” The PMO, DAE, NPCIL, AERB and the Indian State must put the interests of Indian citizens first, convert the still born KKNPP into something useful, envision alternative energy futures and create a win-win situation for the Indian citizens and the State. As Horatio replied to Marcellus that “Heaven will direct it,” may the Heavens direct the State of India to sanity, stability and security!
Mining in Odisha MINING IN KARLAPAT WILL BRING DISASTER TO NATURE & CLIMATE By Lok Shakti Abhiyan
The Odisha government’s move to hand over a rich biodiversity hotspot like Karlapat to Vedanta for mining will bring disaster to the nature and climate of the region as well as the livelihood of tribals. When people are not prepared to sacrifice Niyamgiri it is not possible to destroy more sensitive green spot than Karlapat. This decision proves that the govt. of Odisha is sold out to Vedanta Company. There will be a vibrant people’s struggle to protect Karlapat & Niyamgiri.
Photo: Ashish Kotari(The Hindu )
There are 10 Revenue villages and 9 un-surveyed villages within Karlapat Sanctuary. Total population of these 19 villages is 1551. The inhabitants are mainly tribal; namely Kandha and Majhi. Rain fed agriculture is the main source of income for these people. Paddy is the major crop. Besides they cultivate black gram, alsi and maize as cash crops on the foot hills and plateaus of the hills in and around the sanctuary. They also collect hill brooms and bamboo sticks and different minor forest produce like fruits, roots, gums, leaves, fuel wood and small timber for their own use as well as to sell in the nearby market to earn money. Besides above, there are 44 villages adjacent to the Sanctuary boundary. Population of these villages is about 8000. They also enter into the Sanctuary to collect fuel wood, bamboo, timber, different minor forest produce, and allow their cattle, goat and buffalos to graze inside
sanctuary. A number of perennial streams and nalas flow across the area and feed into river Tel, a major tributary of the river Mahanadi. High plateau and waterfalls attract tourists to study and enjoy the nature. The vegetation of the sanctuary along with its perennial water sources influences the microclimate of the district. Karlapats boast of a large elephant population and serves as a crucial corridor link between elephants in Kotagarh Sanctuary in Kandhamal district and Lakhari valley sanctuary in Gajapati district. There are 4 routes (corridors) used by the Elephants as their path for migration. Corridor-I: Jacum, Lelingpadar, Bandhanghati, Semelpadar, Patkajor& back to Karlapat. Corridor-II: Khandwalmali, Saisurni, Gunpur, Th. Rampur, Dumerpadar, Odri, Maligaon, Talanagi& back. Corridor-III: Kalrapat, Khandualamali, Benbhatta, Jalkrida, Bijepur, Kisingpur, (Rayagada Div) & back Corridor-IV: Karlapat, Kiapadar, Ghana, Gorgon, Pariagarh& back. Presence of moist peninsular Sal forests, mixed deciduous forests and bamboo brakes, grasslands, caves, large numbers of perennial hill streams, undulated terrains interspersed with valleys, high altitude picks, plateaus, has supported myriad life- forms, including some endangered mammals like tigers and elephants, leopards, wild boars, giant squirrels, antelopes, small-clawed Otters, Indian bison etc. So far three new, unrecorded plant varieties namely Carolladiscus lanuginosus, Nymphoides Parvifolia, and Habenaria Barbata have been found in the Krishnamali and Khandualmali hills situated in the 2-3 km buffer of the sanctuary, which have been added to the distributional record of occurrence for Eastern Ghats, India. One variety of fungi, Phallus indusiatus, is also a new find from Eastern Ghats. These plants are also found in the Himalayas. Mineral deposited plateaus like Khandualmali and Krishnamali are 1-3 km away from the boundary of sanctuary. As per the Supreme Court’s guidelines, no developmental, industrial or mining activities can take place within 10 km of any wildlife sanctuary or national park. As per recently issued guideline by MoEF, and also as per Environment Protection Act, 1986, an area of up to 10 km from the border of any sanctuary or national park is designated as an "eco-sensitive" zone to create shockabsorbers for the protected areas and no developmental or industrial activities are permitted there.
Tehri Dam TEHRI DAM OUSTEES LANGUISH FOR BASIC AMENITIES By Vimalbhai and Puran Singh Rana The State government in Uttrakhand must have earned at least Rs. 1000 crore from the electricity generated by the Tehri dam project on the river Ganga and this is a recurring income, yet in the on-going Supreme Court case, N.D Juyal and Shekhar Singh V/S GOI, the former government in its affidavit on the delay in rehabilitation work gave the reason that T.H.D.C has not provided funds for rehabilitation. The court had directed THDC in November 2011 to provide a paltry Rs. 102.99 crore for the same. Even now the reason given to the SC for the delay in rehabilitation work is said to be lack of funds.
Image Source: Wikipedia.com
Before he came to power the present Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna had conceded that the rehabilitation work was not being properly done. In response to the destruction of villages around the Tehri Dam during the monsoon in 2010 he had suggested that the state government should spend the earnings generated by the hydro-electric projects on the project-affected people. This line of thought is in consonance with the Power ministry’s guideline for the development of hydroelectricity projects sites dated 23 May, 2006 which on page 10 states that the income so generated should be spent on project-affected people: Guideline 2.3 Provision of 12% free power to the home state Government of India, vide its O.M. dated 17th May, 1989 have approved that “since the Home States are increasingly finding it difficult to locate alternative land and resources for rehabilitation of the oustees in hydro-electric projects. They need to
be suitably assisted by giving incentives, such as the (proposed) 12% free power, to enable them to take care of the problems of rehabilitation in the areas affected by the hydro-electric projects. Without such assistance and incentives, considerable hydel potential of the country would remain unutilized. Accordingly, the State Government shall be entitled to realize 12% free power from the project for local area development and mitigation of Guidelines for development of Hydro Electric Projects Sites hardships to the project affected people in line with the Govt. of India policy”. Further in this context, the basic amenities subsequently mentioned are non-existent and if at all they exist, they are of very poor quality, even at rural rehabilitation sites like Pathari part-1, 2, 3 & 4, the dam oustees in the rural area of Haridwar have not been properly rehabilitated. Even after 30 years, 70% of them do not have land rights. These rehabilitation sites lack basic infrastructure like electricity, water, irrigation, transportation, health post, bank post office PDS, panchayat, mandir, roads, drains so much so these sites do not have picketed fence or a wall to keep out the wild animals. People have been fending for themselves and have built houses on their own. In the not so distant past, on 11 June, 2012, Rajesh Nautiyal, Assistant Executive Engineer at the Shivilak Nagar rehabilitation office in Haridwar division said that 4 cr have been sanctioned for the rehabilitation work but none for providing the basic infrastructures. Matu Jansangthan had sent a letter on behalf of the oustees, signed by Vimalbhai And Puran Singh Rana, Balwant Singh Pawar and Jagdish Rawat to the Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna demanding that his government spend the income (from getting 12% free electricity from the Tehri and Koteshwer Dam) being generated to rehabilitate the dam oustees by providing them land holdings with clear titles after sorting out the matter with the central Ministry of Environment and Forest, provide the promised free electricity as per the Power ministry guidelines and set up committees of locals and projectaffected people to monitor and ensure quality in the provision of essential infrastructure and services at the rehabilitation sites. (Vimalbhai and Puran Singh Rana are associated with the Matu Jan Sangathan)
Maruti Workers’ Strike ALL INDIA PROTEST DAY IN SUPPORT OF MARUTI SUZUKI WORKERS by Maruti Suzuki Workers Union (Provisonal Working Committee)
Today, 5th February 2013, the great response to our appeal to all trade unions, workers, democratic organizations and progressive forces to hold an ALL-INDIA PROTEST DAY in solidarity with our struggle, against the continued exploitation, repression and injustice by the Maruti Suzuki company and Haryana Government, has further strengthened our resolve. 147 of our fellow workers are arrested and have not got bail for last 7 months, 66 more have non-bailable arrest warrants against them, 546 permanent and 1800 contract workers terminated from our jobs have not been reinstated, and we continue to face continued police repression, anti-worker administration and a state which has nakedly sided with the companymanagement.
exploitative, the state’s only response has been to intensify police crackdown, and frustrate the legal process. On 24th January, Com. Imaan khan, leading member of Provisional Working Committee, MSWU was arrested when we were addressing a Press Conference in Civil Lines, Gurgaon. Police and intelligence officials came through deception as press people and forcefully abducted him. He’s now been sent to thrown into jail with all cases like murder and arson, though he did not have any case against his name, either in the FIR or Chargesheet. The police has forcibly taken signature of jailed workers on blank pages and are adding names of workers according to their choice, as dictated by the company management. In this scenario of state repression, the response of our Appeal to make 5th February an All-INDIA PROTEST DAY in unity with our struggle, make our resolve to struggle even stronger. Solidarity demonstrations were organized today in around in 15 states across the country by trade unions and democratic forces. Many of us participated in these demonstrations on behalf of our Maruti Suzuki Workers Union, and we have witnessed the might of unity among workers and with progressive forces across the country. Solidarity also poured in from the hundreds of gate meetings in factories across the country. Massive demonstrations were followed by deputations, memorandums and rallies to the local elected representatives and to Bhupinder Hooda, Chief Minister, Haryana.
Image source: autojunction.in
Even thus we are determined to carry forward our struggle to release all jailed workers, reinstate all terminated workers, impartial probe into the 18 July incident, implementation of labour laws and abolition of contract worker system. Throughout these 6 months, our struggle has taken various forms like rallies, demonstrations across all districts of Haryana and in Delhi, mass hunger strikes and there is not one elected representative’s door that we have not knocked, though we have seen only empty promises. We also sought to foster solidarity with contract workers in the entire NCR industrial belt with a Auto Workers Convention, and have recently taken out a Justice Rally on cycles across all districts of Haryana which culminated in a mass demonstration of over 3000 people in Rohtak on 27th January 2013. But while the management has been
Militant rallies, protest sit-ins, marches, demonstrations, hall meetings, press conferences were organized jointly and in support of Maruti Suzuki Workers Union struggle in Delhi (Jantar Mantar, Okhla and Mayapuri), Gujarat (Ahmedabad, Baroda), Maharashtra (Mumbai), West Bengal (Kolkata), Karnataka (Bangalore), Tamil Nadu (Chennai, Pondicherry, Hosur, Tiruchirapalli), Chhattisgarh (Raipur, Bhillai), Uttrakhand (Rudrapur, Halwani, Haridwar, Ramnagar), Rajasthan (Jaipur), Punjab (Ludhiana, Barnala, Jagraon, Nawanshehar), Daman and Diu (Silvassa), Madhya Pradesh (Indore), Jharkhand (Ranchi), Uttar Pradesh (Lucknow, Bareilly), Bihar (Patna), and Haryana (Kaithal, Kurukshetra, Jind) among others. Thousands of workers and progressive people from at least around 250 trade unions- factory-based, independent and Central Unions, student and youth organisations, human rights organisations, women’s organisations, intellectuals and other progressive forces participated in the solidarity protest actions.
These include (list not exhaustive) factory-based and independent trade unions and area-based workers organisations like: GRSE Employees Union, Hindustan Motors Sangrami Shramik Karamchari Union, Hindustan Lever Permanent Mazdoor Union, Shramik Sangram Commitee, Pharpur Cooling Towers Mazdoor Sabha, CESC Theka Mazdoor Union, Bharat Battery Mazdoor Union, Baoria Cotton Mill Mazdoor Union, Kanoria Jute Mill Bachao Committee, TCPL SSKU, Khan Mazdoor Karmachari Union (IFTU), Sarbobharatiyo Mazdoor Manch (Prastuti Committee), AllBengal Self-Representative Union, Sangrami Shramik Manch, Loomex Engineering Sangrami Mazdoor Union, Lalbanda Mazdoor Union (Samanoy Samiti); Bareilly Federation of Trade Unions, Karnataka Shramik Shakti; Gujarat Federation of Trade Unions, Gujarat Mazdoor Sabha; Karkhana Mazdoor Union, Textile Hosiery Kamgar Union, Indian Airport Employees Union, Voltas Employees Union, All-India Bluestar Workers Federation, Sarbh Shramik Sangh, Trade Union Solidarity Committee; Moulder and Steel Workers Union, Technical Services Union; Pragatisheel Cement Shramik Samiti, Janadharit Engineering Mazdoor Union; SRFWU, TI Metal Workers Union, MHHWU, Zee Tech Workers Union, MTC Workers Union, SRI Workers Union, CRI Pump Workers Union, BHEL Workers Union Trichy, Kamas Vechra Workers Union, UNILEVER Ltd Workers Union Pondichery, Auto Drivers Union, PALA, New Democratic Labour Front; Anand Nichikawa Employees Union- Rudrapur, Parle Mazdoor Sangh, Brittania Mazdoor Sangh, Nesle Karamchari Union, LGB Workers Union; Inquilabi Mazdoor Kendra, Mazdoor Patrika, Bigul Mazdoor Dasta, Mazdoor Ekta Kendra, MMM, Hero Honda Theka Mazdoor Union, NREGA Mazdoor Union, Haryana, and many other unions. Central Trade Unions like IFTU, NTUI, TUCI, ICTU, AITUC, CITU, AIFTU(New), AICCTU, UTUC, etc. organized and participated in the solidarity actions across many states and promised further support in the coming days. Student and Youth Organisations like Jawaharlal Nehru Students Union, Krantikari Naujawan Sabha, PDSF, Krantikari Yuva Sangathan, Disha Chatra Sangathan, Democratic Students Federation, Nauroj, Correspondence, AISA, The New Materialists, Democratic Youth Federation of India, Vidyarthi Yuvajan Sabha, Inqlabi Naujwan Vidyarthi Manch, RSYF, PLF, PSA, SOSD, besides individual students and intellectuals from many academic and research institutions across the country. Mass democratic organisations, womenâ€™s organisations, Human Rights organisations and Progressive and radical groups and forces like Inqlabi Kender Punjab, Jan Mukti Sangharsh Vahini, Jan Pratirodh Sangharsh Manch, Janwadi Mazdoor Kisan Sabha, Sarvahara Jan Morcha,
Janwadi Lok Manch, Samtamulak Mahila Sangathan, PUDR, PDFI, Radical Notes, Sanhati, Jan Sangharsh Manch, BKU, Lok Morcha Punjab, Lok Sangram Manch, Krantikari Lok Adhikar Sangathan, Uttarakhand Parivartan Party, and many others. This program gives hope for unity and solidarity to emerge at an all-India level. We heartily thank all trade unions, democratic and progressive forces for having once again come forward in our unwavering support, as only a strong class unity can take our common struggles forward. Our demands are: 1. Institute a high-level independent impartial probe into the incident of 18th July 2012 and into the role of the management in it. 2. Immediately release all arrested 147 workers. 3. Immediately release Imaan Khan who was arrested on 24th January 2012, and stop arrests and police harassment of workers and our families. 4. Immediately reinstate all terminated workers, including 546 permanent and around 1800 contract workers. 5. Stop the flouting of labour laws, and implement right to formation of Union in all auto companies in the region. Ensure registration of Union within 45 days of receipt of application for registration for Union by the concerned labour department. 6. Stop the illegal contract labour system in permanent nature of work in the industrial belt of Gurgaon-Manear-Dharuhera-Bawal-Faridabad etc, and take steps to completely eradicate contract labour system in 2013, and ensure permanent work for all contract workers.
Long Live the Class Unity of Toilers! Inquilab Zindabad! Struggling regards, Provisional Working Committee, Maruti Suzuki Workers Union MSWU, Registration No. 1923, IMT Manesar, Gurgaon, Date: 5 February 2013 (This is a statement issued by the MSWU - Provisional Working Committee on the All India Protest Day held on the 5th of February in many cities and industrial areas in Solidarity with the workers of the Maruti Suzuki Factory in Manesar, Gurgaon, Haryana.)
Food Security Bill
Image source: http://wvindia.blogspot.in/
WHY THE PARLIAMENT SHOULD REJECT THE STANDING COMMITTEE’S RECOMMENDATIONS ON THE FOOD SECURITY BILL Statement by the Right to Food Campaign
The much awaited recommendations of the Standing
Excludes vulnerable groups such as the homeless and destitute people from accessing affordable/free nutritious hot cooked meals by not provisioning for community kitchens under the garb that it is difficult to identify the beneficiaries.
Leaves out pensions for the aged, persons with disabilities and single women from the recommendations, although it is well known that pensions are a crucial guarantee for the vulnerable to buy food.
Does not guarantee good nutrition by excluding legal guarantees to pulses and oil in the PDS
Undermines the food rights of children and pregnant and lactating women by not guaranteeing them the ICDS services through anganwadis.
Does not guarantee Minimum Support Price (MSP) as a right or any other incentive and protection to farmers growing food.
Leaves out a large proportion of the population from the PDS by not universalising it and provisioning for only 5kg of foodgrains per person, which is about half of what is required on an average in a month according to the ICMR norms (less than half for people engaged in moderate to hard physical labour).
Does not ensure access to safe food through legal safeguards against Genetically Modified (GM) foods whose adverse impacts on health and environment are becoming increasingly evident.
Does not put legal bans on entry of contractors in the supply of food for children or replacement of PDS with cash transfers, both of which will end food security for most people.
Committee on Food, Consumer Affairs and Public Distribution on the National Food Security Bill are a letdown to those who wrote to the Committee urging it to ensure justice to the people of India. The Committee despite taking a year since December 2011 when the Bill was tabled in the Lok Sabha, has undermined the goal of food security for all the people of India through its recommendations given to the Parliament on 17 January, 2013. Instead of moving forward, the Committee’s recommendations are a leap backward by removing even existing entitlements. If the Committee’s recommendations are to be legislated, then it is the Campaign’s reasoned position that it rather not have a food security law rather than accept one which:
Does not provide for criminal penalties or independent grievance redressal systems.
Dilutes the legal guarantees given by the Supreme Court in the “right to food” case (PUCL vs. Union of India & Ors. CWP 196/2001) over the last 11 years which lay the framework for schemes providing food security in the country and convert provisions of these schemes into legal entitlements.
The Campaign however, would like to acknowledge the Committee’s recognition of the failure of targeting by recommending removal of the new avatar of the APL-BPL categories called “priority” and “general”, and proposing uniform entitlements for all included in the PDS and extending midday meals to children up to 16 years of age and nutrition support for adolescent girls. The Campaign’s detailed arguments for opposing the following recommendations of the Committee:
1. Obliteration of the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) as a legal guarantee It is shocking to learn that the Committee completely obliterated legal guarantees to the ICDS and anganwadis on grounds of programmatic and operational gaps in the scheme. This undermines the Supreme Court orders and the advise of hundreds of experts and campaigns that wrote to the Committee on the importance of universalising the ICDS services of supplementary nutrition, immunization, health check-up, referral services, pre-school non-formal education and nutrition and health education delivered through anganwadis, for ensuring good health and nutrition of children below six years of age and pregnant and lactating women. This recommendation of the Committee completely shortchanges the rights of young children, who in fact must be the focus of a food security Bill. It is widely accepted that to tackle malnutrition, interventions must focus on children, especially those in the age group of less than two years. Similarly, recommending one meal a day to be provided in schools for children in the age group of 2 to 16 years of age “or the age at which they start school”, will effectively leave out children in the 2 to 6 years age group as entry in government schools begins only at 6 years of age.
2. Restricting maternity benefits to the first two children to ensure population stabilisation This discriminates against children of higher birth order. It is now widely recognised that such disincentives do not contribute to population stabilisation and only violate the rights of women and children. India’s fertility rate has been steadily declining and anyway approaching the level of population stabilisation. Maternity benefits are wage compensation and hence need to equal at least the
minimum wage and be inflation indexed. However, the Committee makes no mention of this.
Silence on support for breastfeeding
Exclusive breastfeeding till six months of age and continued breastfeeding till two years of age are crucial for preventing undernutrition among infants. This in turn requires support in the form of nutritional counselling, crèches at workplace etc. However, the Committee does not recommend any of these crucial entitlements. 4. Monthly entitlements of 5kg of cereals per person to only 67 per cent of the population (75 per cent in rural areas and 50 per cent in urban areas) This excludes a large proportion of the country’s population from the right to access subsidised foodgrains under PDS. By setting “caps” on coverage, the Committee is continuing with targeting, which has proven to be divisive, unreliable and impractical. The Right to Food Campaign and many others have therefore been demanding that the PDS must be universalised. At the most, some simple, transparent and easily verifiable exclusion criteria (as done in the Chhattisgarh Food Security Act) can be specified, without any pre-determined quotas. Monthly quotas of 5kg of foodgrains per person (which is about 25kg per household) is much less than the Supreme Court order of 35kg of foodgrains per household per month, which is the quantity that BPL and Antyodaya cardholders of several states are currently entitled to. The quota of foodgrains under the PDS must be based on ICMR norms on Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA), which recommend monthly cereal consumption of 14kg per adult and 7kg per child on an average, working out to about 10 kg per capita, per household.
5. No legal guarantee to provision of pulses, oil and sugar in the PDS, decentralised procurement, greater investment in agriculture to guarantee farmers easy access to credit, extension services, protection against crop failure and remunerative MSPs which take into account all input costs of production. Absence of legal guarantees to pulses, oil, sugar etc will fail to ensure good nutrition for all as the prohibitive prices of these food items prevent a very large proportion of the Indian population from accessing them. Justiciable guarantees to revitalise agriculture are crucial for ensuring sustainable supply of adequate quantities of food. The recommendation of providing fortified foodgrains and atta (flour) under the PDS opens the door for commercialization of both agriculture and the food system, as fortification of foodgrains is possible only through genetic engineering.
Fortification will also fail to meet its intended objective of reducing micronutrient deficiencies in the Indian population, given the current levels of protein intake in the country. Fortified foodgrains and atta have shown a rise in the levels of ferritin (an iron form) in blood levels, which does not get converted into haemoglobin or lead to reduction in anaemia in the absence of adequate intke of protein. Fortification can reduce anaemia levels only in those who are able to eat at least three meals a day, and not in those who are unable to meet even the RDA of calories and protein; which is the case with most Indians. 6. Removing the entitlement to affordable/free nutritious hot cooked meals through community kitchens for the destitute, homeless, migrants and other vulnerable groups on grounds of difficulties in identification of beneficiaries. This recommendation will lead to a gross violation of the right to food of those disadvantaged groups that are unable to cook their own meals.
7. Complete silence on pensions for the aged, single women, persons with disabilities and persons with debilitating illnesses This will deny disadvantaged groups the means required for buying food.
8. Absence of a strong and independent grievance redressal mechanism and civil and criminal liabilities for non-compliance and denial of guarantees. This will lead to gross violations of entitlements under the Bill. Given the history of governance and legislation in India, the Campaign is of the firm view that no law should be legislated without effective implementation mechanism.
9. Lack of safeguards against the replacement of PDS with cash transfers. The PDS is the backbone of food security in India and introducing any a cash component in it would severely undermine most people’s food security, particularly of the poor and other vulnerable groups. The Campaign rejects the cash for food scheme of Annashree in Delhi and the cash for kerosene pilot in Kotkasim, Rajasthan. Several states have succeeded in reducing leakages in the PDS by implementing reforms such as universalisation of coverage, computerisation of lists of cardholders, doorstep delivery of rations till the Fair Price Shops and de-privatisation of these shops. Although the Committee states that as of now introducing cash transfers in food is undesirable as the banking infrastructure is inadequate in the country, it is the Campaign’s considered opinion that cash transfers must not be introduced in PDS even if the banking system is more widespread and accessible.
The banking system needs to be made more accessible and efficient for cash payments schemes like pensions, scholarships and wages under MGNREGA. To that extent the Campaign welcomes the Committee’s recommendation to expand the banking infrastructure, especially in areas where it is sorely lacking. The bank accounts however must not be linked with Aadhar/UID.
The Right to food campaign urges the Government and all members of the Parliament and political parties to take a critical view of the Standing Committee’s recommendations on the National Food Security Bill, and reject them. The need of the hour is to legislate a comprehensive Act that truly contributes to food security for all. The National Food Security Bill is a crucial opportunity to end hunger and malnutrition in India and we hope that this will not be missed. The Right to Food Campaign will continue to mobilise support and protest against a Bill that is so piecemeal in its approach. We are, The Steering Committee of the Right to Food Campaign Annie Raja (National Federation for Indian Women), Anuradha Talwar and Gautam Modi (New Trade Union Initiative), Arun Gupta and Radha Holla (Breast Feeding Promotion Network of India), Arundhati Dhuru and Ulka Mahajan (National Alliance of People’s Movements), Asha Mishra and Vinod Raina (Bharat Gyan Vigyan Samiti), Aruna Roy, Anjali Bharadwaj and Nikhil Dey (National Campaign for People’s Right to Information), Ashok Bharti (National Conference of Dalit Organizations), Colin Gonsalves (Human Rights Law Network), G V Ramanjaneyulu (Alliance for Sustainable and Holistic Agriculture), Kavita Srivastava and Binayak Sen (People’s Union for Civil Liberties), Lali Dhakar, Sarawasti Singh, Shilpa Dey and Radha Raghwal (National Forum for Single Women’s Rights), Mira Shiva (Jan Swasthya Abhiyan), Paul Divakar and Asha Kowtal (National Campaign for Dalit Human Rights), Prahlad Ray and Anand Malakar (Rashtriya Viklang Manch), Subhash Bhatnagar (National Campaign Committee for Unorganized Sector workers) Veena Shatrugna, M Kodandram and Rama Melkote (Andhra Pradesh), Saito Basumaatary and Sunil Kaul (Assam), Rupesh (Bihar), Gangabhai and Sameer Garg (Chhattisgarh), Pushpa, Dharmender, Ramendra, Yogesh, Vimla and Sarita (Delhi), Sejal Dand and Sumitra Thakkar (Gujarat), Abhay Kumar and Clifton (Karnataka), Balram, Gurjeet Singh and James Herenj (Jharkhand), Sachin Jain (Madhya Pradesh), Mukta Srivastava and Suresh Sawant (Maharashtra), Tarun Bharatiya (Meghalaya), Chingmak Chang (Nagaland) Bidyut Mohanty and Raj Kishore Mishra, Vidhya Das, Manas Ranjan (Orissa), Ashok Khandelwal, Bhanwar Singh and Vijay Lakshmi (Rajasthan), V Suresh (Tamil Nadu), Bindu Singh (Uttar Pradesh), Fr. Jothi SJ and Mr. Saradindu Biswas (West Bengal)
Cash Transfers WHY WE OPPOSE THE RUSH TO CASH TRANSFERS AND UID A statement endorsed by the NAPM and signed by more than 200 civil society activists and academics.
We support cash transfers such as old age pensions, widow pensions, maternity entitlements and scholarships. In fact, many of us have been part of struggles to expand social security pensions and improve their delivery. We also support appropriate, people-friendly uses of modern technology for this purpose. However, we have serious reservations about the government's rush to link these cash transfers to “Aadhaar”, the unique identity (UID) number. This is because the linking of these schemes can cause huge disruption – think of an old man who is currently getting his pension from the local post office, but will now have to run around getting his “UID-enabled” bank account activated and then may find his pension held up by fingerprints problems, connectivity issues, power failures, truant “business correspondents”, and what not. We are also firmly opposed to the introduction of cash transfers in lieu of food and other commodities supplied through the Public Distribution System, for many reasons. One, subsidized food from the PDS is a source of food and economic security for millions of poor families. In 2009-10, implicit transfers from the PDS wiped out about one fifth of the “poverty gap” at the national level, and close to one half of it in states like Tamil Nadu and Chhattisgarh. Recent experience also shows that it is possible to further revamp and reform the PDS without delay. Two, the banking system in rural areas is not ready to handle large volumes of small transfers. Banks are often
far and overcrowded. The alleged solution, banking correspondents, is fraught with problems. Post offices could possibly be converted into useful payment agencies, but this will take time. Three, rural markets are often poorly developed. Dismantling the PDS would disrupt the flow of food across the country and put many people at the mercy of local traders and middlemen. Four, there are concerns of special groups such as single women, disabled persons and the elderly who cannot easily move around to withdraw their cash and buy food from distant markets. Last but not least, inflation could easily erode the purchasing power of cash transfers. When the government refuses to index pensions or NREGA wages, how can it be trusted to index cash transfers to the price level? Even if some indexation does happen, small delays or gaps in price information could cause significant hardship for poor people. The Kotkasim fiasco is a telling example of the potentially disruptive effects of inappropriate cash transfer schemes. The experiment was launched with much fanfare and immediately projected as a “stunning success” based on the fact that kerosene subsidy expenditure had declined by 80%, but in fact, the main reason for this decline was the collapse of the entire kerosene distribution system.
An impression has been created that the government is all set to launch UID-enabled cash transfers on a mass scale before the 2014 elections. This is very misleading, and looks like an attempt to make people rush to UID enrolment centres. This announcement also diverts attention from the government’s failure to enact a National Food Security Act. The food security bill, very weak in the first place, has been languishing with a Standing Committee for a whole year. Meanwhile, food stocks are accumulating on an unprecedented scale. The need of the hour is a comprehensive National Food Security Act, not a potentially disruptive rush for UID-driven cash transfers. Cash Transfers and UID: Essential Demands We support cash transfers such as old age pensions, widow pensions, maternity entitlements and scholarships. However, we oppose the government’s plan for accelerated mass conversion of welfare schemes to UID-driven cash transfers. This plan could cause havoc and massive social exclusion. We demand the following: 1. No replacement of food with cash under the Public Distribution System. The PDS is a vital source of economic security and nutrition support for millions of people. It should be expanded and consolidated, not dismantled. 2. Immediate enactment of a comprehensive National Food Security Act, including universal PDS. Instead of diverting the public’s attention with promises of mass cash transfers before the 2014 elections, the government should redeem its promise to enact a National Food Security Act (NFSA).
3. Cash transfers should not substitute for public services. While some cash transfer schemes are useful, they should complement, not substitute for the provision of public services such as health care, school education, water supply, basic amenities, and the PDS. These services remain grossly under-funded. 4. Expand and improve appropriate cash transfers without waiting for UID. There is no need to wait for UID to expand and improve positive cash transfer schemes such as pensions, scholarships and maternity entitlements. For instance, social security pensions should be increased and universalized. 5. No UID enrolment without a legal framework. Millions of people are being enrolled for UID without any legal safeguards. The UIDAI’s draft bill has been rejected by a parliamentary standing committee. UID enrolment should be halted until a sound legal framework is in place. 6. All UID applications should be voluntary, not compulsory. UID should never be a condition for anyone to access any entitlements or public services. A convenient alternative should always be available. 7. UID should be kept out of the PDS, NREGA and other essential entitlement programmes for the time being. Essential services are not a suitable field of experimentation for a highly centralised and uncertain technology. Other applications (e.g. to tax evasion) should be tried first.
Upcoming Events Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor Yatra The DMIC is going to affect billions of farmers, dalits, adivasis, women, fishermen, vendors, small cities, and villages in 6 states. It is also an environmental hazard. In last meeting of NAPM Convenors held in Multai on 13-14 January, 2013, it was decided to organize a yatra to make people aware of this project and its implications. The yatra will be an effort to cover the whole DMIC affected area and provide a platform to address the issue on a national level. The yatra will take place from 10th to 23rd March and the tentative agenda includes:
An exhibition of available information and projects coming up in the DMIC, and their possible impact. Impact of displacement in past due to different projects in 6 states. Public meetings in big cities to mobilise organisations and other people. Visiting proposed/on-going/under-construction project areas and holding press conferences at each place.
Participation of People’s Movements in Electoral Politics: A Discussion Workshop For a long time now a debate has raged among People’s Movements as to whether they should get involved in electoral politics. The Samajwadi Jan Parishad and the People’s Political Front were also borne out of the feeling that in order to bring about substantial changes in the system of governance one would have to get into parliament. However those attempts have floundered in electoral politics largely because they were not preceded by large movements involving the public mobilization of large sections of society and also did not arouse the enthusiastic support of people’s movements committed to that ideology. The experience of the anti-corruption movement has been that despite the large scale public mobilization on this issue, neither the government nor the other political parties were willing to concede the kind of independent anticorruption agencies and systems required to credibly investigate and prosecute corruption cases. Despite every opinion poll survey or referenda conducted by several media organizations showing overwhelming support for the Jan Lokpal Bill, the government brought a bill which was a mockery in the name of the Lokpal Bill. The Bill did not provide an independent investigating agency as the Lokpal in the government’s Bill would be appointed by the government and disciplinary action against it would also be controlled largely by the Government. Calls to have a referendum on this issue and institute a system of initiatives and referendums to put in place a minimal kind of direct democracy also fell on deaf ears. Experience has shown that while the present government and present members of parliament are by and large willing to concede legislation and other measures in response to public opinion which provides for some measure of entitlement like right to food, right to education etc, they are unwilling to concede anything which will fundamentally
change the balance of power between the citizens and the government/parliament or which will endanger the ministers and members of parliament such as the Jan Lokpal Bill. It is also becoming increasingly clear that we need a fundamental change in the balance of power between the citizens and their elected representatives if we are to arrest not merely corruption but the descent of this country towards chaos and anarchy. The recent response of the government and established political parties to the Delhi Gang-Rape incident is also shows that there is tremendous resistance within the establishment in even instituting fundamental police reforms, even those measures that have been continuously recommended by the Shah Commission and recently ordered by the Supreme Court in 2006. There is thus tremendous reluctance to let go of the CBI and the Police from the strangulating control of the governments and allow it to function in accordance with law rather than as an instrument for the use of those in government and/or in parliament. Of course what we need are even more radical reforms than those ordered by the Supreme Court. We need to, in fact make the police and the civil services accountable to the people that they are meant to serve. Thus a police officer or a local official who has lost the confidence of the majority of the local people should normally not be allowed to remain in that position. However, the governments are not even willing to set up independent police complaint authorities, what to say of making the police directly accountable to the people. The response of the existing established political parties to massive public uprisings such as in the anti-corruption movement and now on the issue of crimes against women
is a cynical - “Let them shout, this will die down, we don’t need to worry much since these people are not capable of mounting a serious electoral challenge to us”. With this confidence within the established parties that peoples movements cannot mount a successful electoral challenge, they are continuing with business as usual and making only token concessions to the major demands.
How do we then break out of this situation. It is to discuss this important issue that a three day workshop is being organized from the 25-27 March 2013 at the Sambhaavnaa Institute of Public Policy and Politics, Gaon Kandbari, Palampur, Himachal Pradesh. The program participants include – Prashant Bhushan and Yogendra Yadav.
Fourth National Convention of the National Campaign for Peoples’ Right to Information The National Campaign for Peoples’ Right to Information is organizing its fourth national convention in Hyderabad from 16th to 18th of February 2013, to celebrate and document seven years of the use of the Right to Information law. In the NCPRI Shillong convention held in March 2011, it was decided that there will be a reorganization of the NCPRI. The 16th will be a day for NCPRI members to bring the new structure into effect. We invite you to join us for the open meetings on the 17th and 18th of February on transparency, accountability and the working of the Right to Information law. The following is the tentative agenda: 17th February – Discussion on the Shillong Declaration, RTI Act and manifestations of transparency and accountability : RTI users from across the country, law makers, information commissioners and bureaucrats will be invited to discuss the use and working of the RTI. Various experiences of using the law by groups across the country will be shared and the challenges regarding implementation of the Act will be discussed. Issues related to appointment of information commissioners, section 4 of the RTI Act and RTI rules will also be discussed. There are several campaigns and
sangathans that are using the RTI law to ensure transparency and accountability into governance structures. These campaigns will share their work on different issues such as conducting social audits under NREGA, ensuring transparency in the functioning of elected representatives including utilization of local area development funds of Members of Parliament and Legislative Assemblies, transparent processes written into laws such as the Land Acquisition Act etc. Simultaneous workshops conducted by experts in these different areas will be organized. Proactive disclosures under section 4 of the RTI Act through various means including the internet, boards, wall painting, publications etc. will also be discussed. In addition, there will be a session to discuss the progress made on the declaration of the 2011 Shillong convention. 18th February–Visit to various sites organized by the Society of Social Audit and Transparency in Hyderabad (OPTIONAL): SSAAT could facilitate a field visit for participants to witness the power and potential of a social audit process. This will provide an opportunity to understand and witness the status and potential of the wide ranging effects of the Right to Information law in various spheres of Governance.
Working Class Protest Rally In Front Of Parliament New Delhi, December 20: Various trade unions and workers’ organisations across the country organized a rally and demonstration in front of the Parliament on December 20th against the capitalist policies of the UPA government. This was an important programme in the context of the government’s economic policies and attacks on the working class. Tens of thousands of workers from the various sectors of the economy and the different states took part in this rally.
This rally reflected the anger of the working class against the policies of the government. Parliament street echoed with the slogans of “Down with the anti-worker anti-peasant UPA government”, “Down with exposure of Pension Fund to market volatility”, “Stop the privatization of public assets” along with “Control inflation”, Implement minimum wages of Rs.10000/month” and “Implement Labour laws”.
While attacking the present situation and policies, the workers also raised slogans like “Both Congress and BJP serve the bourgeoisie”, “This is not people’s rule; it is the rule of monopoly capitalists, “FDI in retail is anti-people; Existing middlemen–controlled trade is also anti-people; Nationalized trade, under people’s control will be in people’s interest”! “Those who produce the wealth for the country must be her masters”, “An attack on one is an attack on all”, “Come, let us unite around the independent programme of the working class”. Preceding this rally, workers protested and courted arrest in their different states and districts on 18th & 19th December in support of their demands.
on the working class. They pointed out that both the Congress and BJP were committed to policy reforms in the interest of the monopoly capitalists. They said that notwithstanding the workers belonged to different trade unions, it is necessary to unite in defence of their rights, for their just demands and to face the attacks of the capitalists. We have to strengthen our unity and rise above narrow party politics. Participating organisations gave the call for a two-day demonstration against the government’s capitalist policies. Various independent federations of workers also participated in the rally alongside Mazdoor Ekta Committee, BMS, INTUC, AITUC, HMS, CITU, AIUTUC, UTUC, TUCC.
Addressing the protesting workers, leaders condemned the UPA government’s economic policies and growing attacks
National Consultation on Electoral Reforms Organised by NAPM Hyderabad, December 23, 2012 : For past few days thousands of young people have been on the streets protesting against growing violence against women, demanding tougher action against culprits and making public spaces safe for women. However, in Delhi where thousands converged near the North Block were greeted with lathis, barricades and tear gas shells; two days ago same happened at Chief Minister's house too. Why is no one from the political leadership coming out to talk to them to address their concerns? It seems our political representatives are more comfortable in meeting business tycoons but not its own peacefully protesting citizens. Governments today, mostly coalitions, can manage media, buy its way through minority vote in the Parliament or Legislative Assemblies but fails to resolve demands of social movements protesting peacefully. This is more clear than ever before! Another growing trend has been the complete control of corporations over the governments, who can now have Ministers changed as per their convenience or run their business smoothly no matter which political party comes to power. Politicians in opposition, with due exceptions, who are crying hoarse over inaction of the government are equally guilty themselves since 74 of the sitting MPs have serious criminal charges against them. Criminalisation of the polity is a concern shared by everyone but even then the same is not reflected when it comes to giving tickets to them. These issues came for a discussion during a day long national consultation organised by National Alliance of People's Movements (NAPM) on electoral reforms at Sundarayya Vigyan Kendaram, Hyderabad on December 22.
their villages, Bastis or wards. The current structures doesn't support that, which has made our political representatives completely unaccountable to its constituency and many a times they don't even represent the whole constituency, since winning percentage of their votes is much less than the majority vote. Election Commission of India is powered with holding fair and peaceful elections in country but is that enough?” She suggested, there is more to be done by ECI, which can check growing influence of money and criminal presence, funding of elections and functioning of party democracy, disqualification of candidates for bribing within the given provisions of Representation of People's Act, 1951. ECI is one of the proactive institutions, but they need courage to take action against the defaulters within the existing provisions of the RPA, 1951 and other provisions.
Introducing the context of the consultation Medha Patkar, said, “electoral reforms is an important part of the larger agenda of the complete political transformation, leading to decentralisation of power and power to the people. This is the goal of all the struggling people's groups, who are fighting for power to the lowest units of governance for control over resource use, conservation and planning in
Former Chief Secretary, K Madhav Rao echoed his support the PR system and said even though it may not solve all problems but it could be the most suitable system for a country like India. Trilochan Shastry, Association of Democratic Reforms, said, “if we really want to fix the electoral system then one key issue which needs to be fixed is growing influence of money over the elections and
M C Raj, Campaign for Electoral Reforms in India, said, “the difference between the winning party and the opposition in UP elections was 3% and in Gujarat mere 8% but a huge difference in the number of seats. Time has come when India need to make a transition from 'first past the post system' to 'proportionate representation system' of elections. This is necessary for a diverse country like India with numerous parties existing on linguistic, caste, ethnicity and religious lines. PR system has been advocated by Jai Prakash Narayan appointed Justice V M Tarkunde Commission and also by National Law Commission 1999. The current FPTP has served its purpose and many of the ills of current electoral systems can be addressed by the PR system.”
political parties. In Uttar Pradesh elections an estimated 10,000 crore black money was spent, as said by former CEC S Y Querishi, and if we take an average then a conservative estimate would give us a figure of 200,000 crore black money spent in general, state, municipal elections all together, way beyond stipulated limits. This needs a systemic constitutional change, but it is very difficult, since those sitting in Parliament are not going to make it happen, as they did with Lokpal Bill. We have to work to get people on the street and use effective legal interventions to get these changes, as ADR did in 19992002, when Supreme Court ordered compulsory disclosure of criminal charges and financial assets.” Mr. Padmanabh Reddy, Forum for Good Governance, said, “the current system is inadequate to check the ills like growing money and muscle power. Narrating their efforts in Andhra Pradesh elections, he said action is not taken by the concerned departments, even when full information about money seized during elections is available. Income tax departments refused to share action taken on these matters, even through RTI. In one case nearly 280 cases of violation of election code were recorded, but zero conviction.” Election Commission need to be empowered to follow through these cases even after the elections are over, then only it is meaningful. Prof Sridhar, NALSAR, spoke about the whole process of registration, regulation, accountability and democracy within the political parties. He said, “there is a process for registration of parties with ECI but there is no control over their functioning beyond the elections time. The complete lack of opacity in candidate selections, nominations to legislative councils, Rajya Sabha or continued presence of certain families over the top remains a serious cause for concern.” He further added that there is a need for a regulatory institution to regulate political parties and their funding, determine fixed terms for presidents of political parties, ensure democratic decision making, and develop statutory norms which may lead to
suspension of their registration on violation. Even there the ECI can play a more proactive role. Prof. K C Sure and Former Rajya Sabha MP Ramchandra Reddy spoke for the need of fixing accountability of the political parties to what they say in their election manifestos. How can a voter, hold them accountable after the elections, who they vote based on the promises made during the elections? There has to be some mechanism evolved, right to recall, as an option sounds attractive, but can that be a real solution remains doubtful. There is need for election watch and people's forums to be evolved to evaluate their performance and assess their actions against the promises in their manifestos. The meeting agreed that as an immediate step, there is a need for concerted campaign to change certain things, which are possible within the current ambit of the Representation of the People's Act and other electoral provisions and can be done by Election Commission of India with support from others. Detailed strategies would be finalised in the next meeting in Bangalore soon and a presentation made to the Election Commission of India. The meeting felt the electoral process is only one part of the problem and the larger challenge remains of turning the tide in favour of people, making people's issues a political agenda. The current economic policies is perpetuating the distorted distribution of power and the effort has to be at organising the people to bring systemic change, to change the whole framework of rajneeti itself, even though in shorter term we may be able to mobilise and bring significant changes within the current governance paradigm. NAPM has decided to hold broader consultations with other people's groups, social movements, academic institutions and then plan a series of actions to bring about these immediate changes and work towards larger goal of power to the people.
Celebration of Struggle in Kudankulam on New Year Tirunelveli, 31st December, 2012: Thousands of people, brought together by the spirit of resistance, democracy and freedom gathered on the beaches of Southern Tamil Naduin the coastal villages of Tirunelveli. Idinthakarai village, which has been the nucleus of the Kudankulam antinuclear power plant struggle, welcomed hundreds of people who have come to celebrate New Year with the local communities spearheading the People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy (PMANE). Groups from West Bengal, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Delhi, Odisha, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Goa, Pondicherry, Kerala and other regions of Tamil Nadu assembled to salute the valiant struggle of the local people against the Kudankulam nuclear project. The local people
represented the coastal villages of Idinthakarai, Kudankulam, Vairavikinaru, Kuthankuzhi, Koottappuli and Perumanal. The program was inaugurated by the drummers of Janwadi Sanskrutik Andolan, Odisha which got the children and youth of the local villages along with the visiting groups tapping to their beats. Fr. F. Jayakumar, parish priest of the Idinthakarai Lourde Matha Church extended a warm welcome to the visiting people. Dr. S.P. Udayakumar, an active member of the PMANE struggle committee thanked all the people who travelled long distances to come to Idinthakarai, to spend the New Year eve with the struggling people.
“The second phase of our struggle began on the 16 th of August 2011. More than 500 days since, we have sustained this struggle against the worst odds, facing extreme repression unleashed by the undemocratic and insensitive Indian state. We wish to remind Sonia Gandhi, Jayalalitha, Dr.Manmohan Singh, Karunanidhi and other such political leaders that this struggle will continue till our last breath. The last child of Kudankulam area also will resist this destruction of our land, livelihood and natural resources”, said Dr. S.P. Udayakumar. The inaugural session also witnessed release of a painting, made by Madurai based artists, depicting the mowing down of the Kudankulam plant by the struggling people led by children and women. Testimonials by different movement groups, fighting different destructive developmental projects in different parts of the country along with songs, dances, theatre performances, painting, sporting events marked the two day celebration of the ‘New Year 2013 at Kudankulam: Celebrating Resistance, Asserting Freedom’. The visiting dignitaries and groups visited the coastal villages and interacted with local villagers. Villagers cited the experiences in the struggle, from the early days in late 1980s to the latest police repression and martyrdom of local people – while in the struggle. The visiting groups were also shown the plant site and its proximity to the villages. It was clear that the plant existed in clear violation
of internationally set practices of setting safe nuclear reactors, away from areas of human habitation – along with AERB norms. Background to the event: All through 2012, Kudankulam – the now famous epicentre of anti-nuclear struggle in Tamil Nadu, India – was in the news for the local people’s valiant fight against the nuclear power plant. The place became renowned for the militancy of the local fishing communities, the clashes they had with police and the kind of state repression the people had to bear, despite being a democratic and peaceful struggle. It was also in the news for the loss of ecology and livelihood that will affect the local people, if the plant was commissioned. The Indian state has rubbished their struggle and with support from the state run atomic department scientists, setting aside the concerns of the local communities as ‘unscientific apprehensions’ and ‘baseless fears’. However, to the dismay of many, the local people in thousands continue to believe that their on-going struggle shall succeed and that the nuclear plant will not be commissioned in their neighbourhood, which will destroy their lives, livelihood and the marine ecology they depend upon.
CRPF Injures Two Tribals in Nuapada, Odisha Nuapada, Odisha, January 8th: Two young tribal labourers Hube Majhi and Hari Majhi of village Khaliapada under Komana Police Station of Nuapada District in Odisha were injured severely as CRPF jawans fired on them when the victims were fishing in a stream on 8th January 2013. They were admitted to the Burla Medical College Hospital and after an operation on the injured hand and leg of Mr. Hube Majhi he was discharged and taken to his home. Mr. Majhi is in no state to take care of himself, he lives alone and has no means of communication, no food or medicine.
This is a glaring example how the CRPF are killing innocent tribals in name of anti-Maoist operation. The NAPM demands that the government of Odisha take full responsibility for the treatment of the injured persons and pay them a compensation Rs.5,00,000 each. We also demand an independent enquiry into the incident and the arrest of the jawans who fired without any provocation.
NAPM-GBGB Announce People’s Commission to Investigate Corruption Related to SRA, Redevelopment and Land Scam in Mumbai Mumbai, January 10th : National Alliance of People’s Movements – Ghar Bachao Ghar Banao Andolan has decided to form a People’s Commission of enquiry into the massive corruption and repression in projects of slum rehabilitation and re-development in Mumbai. NAPM with its mass-based organisation has brought forth corruption in the Slum Rehabilitation Authority (SRA) in the
form of fraudulent documents and fake house-sale in many cases. Members of the NAPM sat on hunger strike for nine days in May 2011 in Golibar- Mumbai and the State Government through Chief Minister and Chief Secretary gave written promise and notified two enquiry committees to investigate into SRA related complaints. However, with false reasons
those were shelved and High Powered Committee (HPC) was asked to investigate. Nothing has happened even after one and a half years. And when a long march and indefinite action was declaredin the last week of December, the SRA forwarded those to HPC. It was in January, during the mass action that the CM admitted an enquiry through the Principal Secretary, Housing with same modus operandi and a guarantee that if illegality/ irregularities are proved, action will be taken against the builder/s. The NAPM has accepted this. However, in order to facilitate and for further investigation, it is necessary to have a People’s Commission that will hear the people and give its verdict. Their work will certainly not overlap with but compliment the official enquiry.
To suggest and plan action against the accused identified through investigation.
To identify the flaws and anti-poor clauses/provisions in the housing policy, laws and rules.
To suggest any alternative housing scheme/s and/or amend SRA Schemes.
To recommend any change in the planning pattern, process and laws and rules related to housing for the urban poor and middle class people of Mumbai.
To publish and release a detailed report on the enquiry and take it to the communities as well as the Government authorities.
The People’s Commission will have: Justice (Retd) H Suresh as its Chairman Shri Sudhakar Suradkar, former IG, Shri Chandrashekar, architect Smt. Amita Bhide, TISS Shri. Simpreet Singh, social activist as members.
The Commission will complete an investigation, within one month through: 1.
Conducting public hearings.
Terms of Reference of the Commission:
Interviewing government officials, citizen’s groups and NGOs.
Photography, structural analysis etc. , and any other tools decided by the Commission.
To investigate (in a participatory and transparent manner) into illegalities and irregularities in SRA and redevelopment schemes in Mumbai, beginning with a priority list.
To assess the documents and draw conclusions on the fraud and the resultant impact of the scheme, on the benefits and beneficiaries, loss to people, and loss to the state exchanger.
To estimate the magnitude of corruption and any officials, politicians, developers and others, responsible for the same.
The Commission’s expenses will be met through voluntary donations. Report of the Commission will be submitted to the Government of Maharashtra and Government of India and will be released to the Civil Society and all slum communities in Mumbai.
Forced Eviction of Hawkers in Santa Cruz, Mumbai Mumbai, January 11th: National Hawker Federation with a coalition of 550 independent hawkers unions/ associations/ organizations along with 11 Central Trade Union, the biggest hawkers federation of India is actively involved in struggle to protect the livelihood of hawkers and to ensure to have dignity and social security. According to The Street Vendors (Protection of livelihood and regularization of Hawking) Act, 2009, hawkers are entitled for Protection of livelihood and regularization of hawking as well as Inclusion of hawking spaces in the city planning, but Mumbai witnessed a forced eviction of Hawkers in Santa Cruz on 11th January, 2012. The forced eviction by police authorities has left many families
devastated and homeless overnight. This event took place in the evening when numbers of bread earning members of the family were returning home after the day long effort of selling to survive for the night. The Police Authorities started with the eviction process and this action made the people run to save their life and grab whatever little they could from their home. A man named Madan Jaiswal, aged 48, while trying to run from the authorities had a major heart attack and lost his life on the spot. He was the sole bread-earner of the family and due to his sudden death the entire family is bereaved and has no survival support. National Hawkers Federation demands justice. The demand is 10 lakh rupees as a reconciliation
fee. Though this amount though will not make up for this thoughtless and cruel act of the Government but it can help the family survive after the loss of their sole earning member.
In this demand for justice, Mr. Shaktiman Ghosh, General Secretary of National Hawkers Federation announced a National rally to demand the setting up of a judiciary committee to investigate this eviction and death, as well as suspend DCP Dhoble for his brutal action.
Patkar, others meet NHRC chairman in Mumbai Mumbai, Jan 31: Social activist Medha Patkar and representatives of various NGOs met National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) Chairman K.G. Balakrishnan here Thursday and apprised him about cases of ongoing human rights violations in Maharashtra. The representatives of the NGOs pointed out that the chairperson of the Maharashtra State Human Rights Commission had not been appointed by the government. They also said that the meeting of the state vigilance committee had not taken place for a long time. "Social activist Medha Patkar apprised the commission of the subhuman conditions in which the slum dwellers were living," an official said. "She stated that section 5 of the slums act was not being implemented properly and basic amenities were not available to the slum dwellers. She also alleged massive corruption in the implementation of the Slum Rehabilitation Scheme and urged the commission to make an inquiry into the housing rights of Dalits," he added. Justice K.G. Balakrishnan, on the other hand, informed the representatives that a team from the commission has
heard 571 cases related to atrocities against Scheduled Castes at an open hearing in Nagpur. Other NGOs also brought forth many other problems faced by people in the state. These and other issues, which arose during the public hearing at Nagpur were taken up with officers of the state government in an interaction which took place immediately thereafter. It was revealed earlier this week that the chief secretary of Maharashtra is yet to respond to NHRC notice asking details of the state's intervention in the wake of farmer suicides in Vidarbha. The panel had given the state four weeks to reply. The NHRC had then issued a summons to the chief secretary in one case and the Yavatmal district collector in another as neither the secretary, state revenue and forest (rehabilitation) department, nor the Yavatmal district magistrate have responded. Balakrishnan, however, said the commission met with the chief secretary of Maharashtra and that he has promised to look into all the issues and take corrective action.
Citizens Groups Protest At Orissa Bhawan Against Brutal Police Violence On Anti Posco Protesters February 4, New Delhi : Reacting to the inhuman attack on women and children by Orissa Police at the crack of the dawn on February 3rd, citizens groups across the political spectrum today staged a dharna at Orissa Bhawan, New Delhi. Protesters joined by All India Students Association, National Alliance of People's Movements, Delhi Solidarity Group, Inqulabi Mazdoor Kendra, Socialist Front and others barged inside the Orissa Bhawan and forced the officials to come out and talk to them. At the intervention of the Delhi police protesters moved out of the premises but continued the protest outside. Speaking at the protest, Vijay Pratap said that there is only 'company raj' in Orissa and there is no legitimacy to it, before 2014 elections movements across the country need to come together and expose them. Sandeep Singh, AISA said it is completely inhuman to beat up children, whose right to protest has been accepted by National Commission of Child Rights Protection.
Surya Das, activist â€“ film maker, said that current round of acquisition is completely illegal since there is no MoU, National Green Tribunal has suspended its environmental clearance even then they are carrying the land acquisition, for what? Madhuresh Kumar, NAPM, added that UPA government is complicit in this too, since they are standing for a company which has been fined Rs 10 Crore by Department of Revenue Intelligence for tax evasion. They should be blacklisted from carrying out any business rather than rolling out red carpet for them. Sanjeev Kumar, Delhi Solidarity Group, brought to fact hundreds of false cases filed against the activists by Orissa state, many of who are living in constant fear of arrest or have already been arrested and then secured bail. Protesters submitted a memorandum to the Joint Commissioner of the Orissa Bhawan, who assured conveying the concerns to the government.
Support to the Posco Pratoridh Sangram Samiti also poured in from all across the country. In a letter Medha Patkar, Maj General Sudhir Vombatkere & Sister Celia (Karnataka), Sandeep Pandey, Arundhati Dhuru (Uttar Pradesh), P Chennaiah & Ramaksrishnan Raju (Andhra Pradesh), C R Neelakandan (Kerala) and others of National Alliance of People's Movements wrote to the Chief Minister condemning the police violence and brought out all the illegalities with the project. They demanded immediate withdrawal of the police force, false cases against activists and also no further land acquisition, since the project has no legal sanction and is against the wishes of the people.
National Forum of Forest People and Forest Workers, People's Union for Civil Liberties, People's Union for Democratic Rights, Housing and Land Rights Network, Praja Rajya Vedike, BIRSA Jharkhand, All India Forum of Forest Movements and many other organisations from across the country condemned the brutal attack on peacefully protesting women and children. It is extremely inhuman and against all the laws that Police presence in the area has been increased and used to increase the tension and instill fear in the people. People's Movements stand in solidarity with the Posco Pratoridh Sangram Samiti and struggling people of Orissa and will continue to oppose any plan for furthering interests of POSCO in the area against people's wishes.
Domestic Workers Demand Their Due Share And Labour Rights New Delhi, February 11 : The hand that feeds, cares for children, keeps the house clean and shining is often left unattended, uncared for and at times bruised and beaten. That's the world of domestic workers working in lakhs of Delhi homes, striving to earn a dignified living and raising a family in 21st century rising India. Domestic work, an increasing necessity in this era of globalisation, is expanding horizons for women, opening up opportunities but also creating a class of working slaves in mills, offices and homes. The emerging reality is contradictory like capitalism itself where a certain class of women have gained prominence, access to diversified jobs and equality in jobs and pay but on the other hand, the women in domestic work and in the unorganised and unprotected sector have to strive for basic facilities, from minimum wages, fixed hours of work, holidays, to bonus and most importantly value of their work, respect and recognition, something which workers of the world struggled to achieve in the 20th century. These issues were raised by nearly 30 women who deposed before a panel comprising of Kalyani Menon Sen, Kalpana Mehta, Subhash Lomte, Bilas Bhongade, Tarun Kanti Bose, Aneema and Neelima in a public hearing on the theme 'Women in the Unorganised (Unprotected) Sector in the Era of Globalization' organised by Shahri Mahila Kaamgar Union, an affiliate of National Alliance of People's Movements at Indian Social Institute. The hearing was attended by nearly 250 domestic workers from Gautampuri, Rohini, Faridabad, and other colonies of Delhi and some others from Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh. “I have been working for 28 years and only get Rs. 1200. When I fell sick, my employers did not give me leave to go to a doctor. I am close to 50 years and find it difficult to continue doing this work. I do not get any medical benefits nor pension. What will happen to me I wonder? How will I survive?” asks a disillusioned Asha, one of the deposer’s in the gathering.
Anita who is now part of the Shahri Mahila Kaamgaar Union narrated how she was brought to the city by a placement agent. “I come from a poor family. In 2011, a placement agent convinced my parents to send me to Delhi for a better life. I was only 14 years and had to leave school. I did not want to do this work but had no option. Many times I wanted to leave but the agent forced me to continue working. Finally, I was rescued by the Union” From the panelists, Subhash Lomte throwing light on how young girls are brought from villages to city with the promise of a better life and education said that “we must continue to fight for equal wages and pension”. The minimum wage should be adjusted to inflation and the pension amount should be atleast Rs. 2000. The age for women pensioners should be 50 years and for men it should be 55 years. The pension amount for women should get directly transferred to her bank account so that it is not misused by her husband. He urged the domestic workers from Delhi to all gather at Jantar Mantar on 6 th March and raise the issue of a ‘minimum wage’ with the government. “We all have to sell our labour but we cannot sell our labour without your labour “said Kalpana Mehta, a panelist from Indore as she addressed the gathering. “Always remember that the work you do is extremely important without which other homes will not function” she was quoted saying while stressing the need to give value and respect to domestic work. The gathering passed the following resolutions at the end of the hearing: A uniform law needs to be made for the welfare of domestic workers. Untill then Minimum Wages Act and other Labour laws must be applied to this category of workers too.
A body comprising of representatives from the government and domestic workers needs to be set up to monitor their real situation.
Other than financial aid, the government should provide other kinds of human support to those domestic workers who are crisis-struck.
The minimum wages, working hours and time of remuneration should be fixed for Domestic Workers. Strict measures should be taken against those who flaunt it.
All kind of middlemen and contractors should be removed between domestic workers and their employers.
Complete profiles of all urban workers, their employers and all organizations linked to them should be done. A government agency should be set up for this purpose. Other than weekly, monthly, yearly and sick leave, provisions should be made for emergency leave also for domestic workers. Pregnant workers should be given special leave of three months. All these leaves should be paid. Strict punishment should be given to all those employers, placement agents and police personnel who subject domestic workers to physical, sexual and other kinds of abuse.
To ensure security of livelihood, domestic workers and their families should be given insurance by the government Along with an annual bonus and future investment options, annual wage increase adjusted with inflation should be given to these workers. Shahri Mahila Kaamgaar Union also resolved to continue their struggle for decent work and ensure rights of the working women and take forward the recommendations of the public hearing to the authorities concerned. Anita Kapoor, Poonam, Madeena Begum, Mudra, Lakshmi, Asha, Seela Manswanee on behalf of Shahri Mahila Kaamgaar Union
WHY? I DEMAND! WHY? By Chaitanya Pandey Is it just? That a girl gets killed Was it a must? And the reaction, Government really knows how to adjust It’s rage, it’s fire Look what this country has turned into from a land of gold and sapphire I am young, my life has just begun And I demand an explanation for this horrific phenomenon Why?? I Ask Is it a very difficult task? Why are the officials hiding behind a mask? Is it the end, is this phrase the last? FIRE!! Fire is everywhere Politics, sports, country…In every sphere It’s rage, it’s fire And my government is filled with liars Am I the only kite flyer? Peace is what I admire I want to fly a little more high From where I could watch on my country and take a relaxing sigh I demand an answer, It is a horrendous encounter, It is a terrible situation
I demand an answer to what is happening in this nation. I am young but, I am old enough to know I demand the answers And I ask the notorious monsters to not to make it slow Crime and grime everywhere, Not a Ganges to wash away the sins. I seek the pursuit of peace, And I guess it will come with a lightening beam. I ask why? Please do not deny I have the right to know About the way how the wind will blow I will ask until I survive Because I have a reason And reason is to bring my country back to life I want to know, I demand the answers or I will strike It is rage, it is fire, Let us get together and turn India back to sapphire. Let us free the country of strife, And flood it with harmony and truth.
For achieveing “Yog”, 1. We should have a belief that “I” am omnipresent, in all kind of consciousness, (Living in this world or not) * In the living beings on earth, I am in all the animals, humans and plants. * In humans, I am in all races and creeds and also in all my friends and foes (I am in the rich and so in the poor; in the powerful and so in the weak; in the victim and so in the criminal, who hurts the victim; in the past ones, present ones and in the future ones) 2. Inculcate a feeling of oneness and love for all others * by seeing self in every on else, (as “I” am omnipresent) and thus doing prayer & taking care of all, as one does for oneself, and by performing one’s duty towards all fairly * by substituting desires (for self) with service (for all) and fear (of losing material) with contentment As “yog” is achieved, we become more and more integrated with the God, and we become free of all sufferings, which are an integral part of this material world. May best happen to us all in the New Year.
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