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Monday, December 24, 2012

Italian naval guards: Flown out, never to return?

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: In the wee hours of Saturday, the two Italian naval guards charged with shooting dead two Indian fishermen flew out of Kochi airport in a chartered flight from Italy. The question most often asked here now is: Will they return, as promised, by Jan 10, 2013?

The two Italians were charged with killing fishermen Ajesh Binki and Gelastine on February 15, allegedly taking them for pirates.

The naval guards were out on bail, staying in a Kochi hotel.

On Thursday, the Kerala high court ruled that subject to some conditions, the two naval guards could be allowed to return home for Christmas.

The families of the slain fishermen doubt the Italians will now return to stand trial in India. The Left opposition in the state too has expressed doubt the two will return.

The Italian consul general, however, has asserted that the men will return. An assurance to this effect was sought by the court from the Italian government before allowing the men the trip home for Christmas.

Chief minister Oommen Chandy told reporters that his government had opposed relaxation in the bail conditions of the two accused; he told reporters on Saturday that it was now up to the central government to see that the two return.

"There need be no doubt on the state government's stance. When the request for a Christmas holiday for the two first came, we strongly opposed it. Now it's the responsibility of the central government to see that the two return. The Italian government has offered such an assurance," the chief minister said.

Meanwhile, reports from Italy indicate that the two could expect the welcome of heroes, later Saturday.

To circumvent the law, the two could be fielded as candidates in upcoming general elections in Italy.

Italian officials in Delhi expect that the case in the Supreme Court of India, in which the Italian government has demanded trial under international law, could be ruled in their favour.

Meanwhile, the CPM is all set to close in on an opportunity to go hammer and tongs at the state government, in case the two accused fail to return. There are already murmurings that none other than Congress president Sonia Gandhi had intervened, in favour of the two marines from the country of her origin.

Trivandrum Latin Church Archbishop M Susaipakiam told reporters here on Saturday that allowing the two Italian naval guards to return was a good gesture.

"This gesture is certain to increase warmth in the relations between the two countries," the archbishop said.

“This is Palestine. I Drew Her Bleeding.”

For Mohammed Ziad Awad Salayma, age 17, killed on his birthday (12-12-12) because, being hard of hearing, he did not understand Israeli soldier Nofar Mizrahi, who shot him at point blank range.
There is something hapless about Guy Delisle’s character in his comics. He is the husband of an Médecins Sans Frontières worker, Nadege, whose postings to Myanmar and Israel-Palestine provided the opportunity for their family (including children Louis and Alice) to see the world. Delisle had itchy feet before these spousal appointments. He had been to both China and North Korea as part of his work as a supervisor of animation work. These resulted in his quirky, but informative comic books, Shenzhen (2000) and Pyongyang (2003). When I first read these, I was put to mind of the work of Joe Sacco, whose Safe Area Gorazde: The War in Eastern Bosnia, 1992-1995 (2000) and Palestine (2001) is the gold standard in political comic journalism. Delisle’s work is no less serious than Sacco’s, but there is a major difference. Both put themselves into the frame, but Sacco is there to break the idea of objectivity and to offer his critical voice as antidote to the saccharine way in which conflict is too often recorded (this is consciously laid-out in his new book Journalism, Metropolitan Books, 2012). Delisle is also in his books, but he is the clueless observer who bumps into things, is silly with those whom he encounters and through the fabric of everyday interactions is able to reveal something about places that are so rarely understood by those who do not make the studied attempt.
The “Delisle” in the books finds his voice when he becomes a father, as he goes with Nadege to her posting in Myanmar with young Louis and then to Israel-Palestine with Louis and Alice. In both books that resulted from these tours (Burma Chronicles, 2008; Jerusalem, 2012), Delisle is seen pushing a stroller, wondering about daycare and parks, trying to find a way to entertain himself between the delightful tedium of parenting full time and the exciting cultural worlds that surround him. His Myanmar book is filled with small details of the privileges of the paranoid kleptocracy that rules the country and the privations of ordinary people, interspersed with the stories of the simple joy of living. But then, out of nowhere, the politics breaks through. Delisle is taken to the northern town of Hpakant, in Kachin State, where he finds that workers in the Chinese-owned jade mines receive their wages, he is told, in heroin. For a small price, the workers visit the “shooting galleries,” which the government allows since drugs are a good pacifier for a region that is otherwise home to a major insurgency. The naïve dad becomes the documentarian of callous suffering.
If I were the Israeli government, I’d have done some research on Delisle before letting him into the country. With his family, Delisle moves to Jerusalem for 2008-09. While Nadege is at work at MSF in the Palestinian territories, Delisle uncovers the everyday inequities of Israel. The family live in East Jerusalem, part of the occupied territories,
which are held in developmental stasis – they find a population devastated by the “separation wall” and by the constant presence of the Israeli forces. Meanwhile, across the various green lines, Israel is, as the Israelis like to say, a little bit like Europe. The stark divides are revealed through the light touch of the inconveniences of life for a parent trying to raise his two children. And of course Delisle is well aware that his is only a temporary condition, and that he has the advantages of the NGO foreigner. Parts of this book reminded me of Nicolas Wild’s Kabul Disco (HarperCollins, 2009), a vision of a war-torn city from the standpoint of an NGO worker who is trying to navigate everyday life.
But then Israel begins Operation Cast Lead. Nadege is called to Gaza, but her MSF colleagues cannot get in. Israel has closed the Strip. It is through their experiences and the Al-Jazeera journalist Ayman Mohyeldin’s reports that we hear of Gaza. It is the outpost – the no-man’s land. But the war on Gaza punctuates the book. It is the ellipse. The rest of the book goes back to documenting the suffocation of the
Palestinians by the Israeli state, the emergence of a dogmatic nationalism in Israeli society and the conundrums of the expatriate who feels deeply for the victims but can do little for them. At a party of expats toward the book’s end, Delisle is asked about art projects in the Palestinian territories. “Getting into North Korea was easier,” he says. He would know.
Inside Gaza, during Cast Lead, there was no room for ambiguity. Fida Qishta, born and raised in Rafah, took to the video camera and held fast to it to document her world. Snippets of her professional work as a marriage videographer show us how people living under such a long occupation remember to find joy. But near them in this painful meditation of a film, Where Should the Birds Fly, the humiliation of survival creeps in. Scenes of ordinary farmers and fisherfolk trying to do their trade while Israeli snipers and gunboats shoot at them get straight to the point. All those who talk of Hamas rockets being fired into Israel should take a look at this section of Qishta’s film, where there is a banal, even tendentious use of the gun to degrade and frighten unarmed Palestinians as they try to make a living. Bulldozers and border crossings make it impossible to lead lives.
Then comes Cast Lead. It is a good thing that Qishta has her camera and that she is so brave. The scenes are disturbing and honest – there is nothing manufactured about her film. We are there on the day (January 18) an Israeli attack killed forty-eight members of the family of Helmi and Maha Samouni – whose house in Zeituon, in the suburbs of Gaza City, was bombed and then occupied. The departing Israeli soldiers left behind love notes to Palestine, graffiti in Hebrew and English: Arabs need 2 die, Make War Not Peace, 1 is down, 999,999 to go, Arabs 1948-2009. Qishta went to see fifteen-year old Ayman el-Najar in Naser Hospital in Khan Younis, victim of an Israeli bomb (which killed his sister). He shows Qishta his wounds, his body wracked by white phosphorus burns (the graphic image seers). Qishta takes refuge at a UN compound, shelter to fleeing Palestinian families. Israeli F-16s release their bombs, some land on the UN buildings, the night resplendent with the white phosphorus traces, beautiful in the sky, barbaric on the skin.
Then we meet Mona. She is the highlight of this disturbingly accurate film. At age ten, she is Qishta’s guide into the suffering and resilience of Gaza. Her farming family were herded into a neighbors’ home by Israeli troops who accuse her brother of being with Hamas; the home is then bombed from the sky. Qishta asks Mona how many people in her family died that day. “In my immediate family?” ask Mona, innocent to the gravity of the answer. So much death, but she appears resigned and wise. “If we die,” she says gravely, “we die. If we survive, we survive.” She shows Qishta a drawing she did of the massacre. “It was a sea of blood and body parts,” she says. “They took the most precious beloved of my heart,” meaning her parents. She points to a person in her drawing, “This is Palestine. I drew her bleeding.”
There is a scene by the beach. Mona is telling Qishta about her feelings. It sounds to my ear like a child’s version of the kind of grand horizon of Mahmoud Darwish:
I really love the birds because they have freedom,
They fly, they sing, and they travel.
In the morning, they chirp.
Here in Gaza we are like caged birds.
We can’t fly, breathe or sing.
We are locked in a cage of sadness and sorrows.
I wonder if Delisle would have been able to maintain his detachment if he had met Mona. I wondered this as I thought about how I had watched Qishta’s film. Did I watch it, and then turn away, feeling the overwhelming futility, escaping into something mundane? Can I bear the weight of what young Mona carries, the devastation of her loss?
Vijay Prashad’s most recent book is Arab Spring, Libyan Winter (AK Press).

Castration is not the right legal response

The view that it will deter rape is misplaced and based on a narrow, sexual intercourse-definition of the crime
There is a fascinating urban legend that Apple’s logo is dedicated to Alan Turing, who committed suicide by biting into a cyanide injected apple. A few years after he was instrumental in breaking the German Enigma code in World War II, Alan Turing was convicted in 1952 for homosexual acts in England. He agreed to the administration of female hormones when faced with incarceration. Apart from the abhorrent aim of such a measure, the scientific claim that hormone injections could alter sexuality proved to be dubious. The intuitive appeal chemical castration has as a method of drastically reducing the incidence of rape, I argue, is largely misplaced because it misunderstands the nature of rape as a crime. Rape is not about sex. Rape is about power, violence, intimidation and humiliation. Attempts to reduce the incidence of rape by controlling the sexual urge of men are bound to be ineffective because they invoke a very shallow and inadequate understanding of rape.
‘More effective’ punishment
Much before the current demand for chemical castration as a legal response to rape, Additional Sessions Judge Kamini Lau, while sentencing Dinesh Yadav in May 2011 for raping his 15-year old step-daughter for four years, called for a debate on castration as an alternative to incarceration in rape cases. Sentencing Dinesh Yadav to the minimum possible punishment of 10 years for such a crime under Section 375(2) of the Indian Penal Code, Judge Lau indicated that castration, surgical or chemical, would perhaps be a far more effective method to prevent rape. While contemplating the legal and ethical aspects of such a measure, it is important that we understand the precise terms of the suggestion, its potential to reduce the incidence of rape and its potential for abuse.
Clarity on the meaning of some of the terms might be useful at this juncture. Surgical castration does not mean removal of the penis, but is instead the irreversible surgical removal of the testosterone producing testes. Chemical castration involves injecting anti-androgen drugs that suppress the production of testosterone as long as the drugs are administered.
Modern legal systems have flirted with biological control of sexual functions for a long time for a variety of reasons. Forced sterilisation of criminals and intellectually disabled people through legislation to protect the purity of the gene pool was seen as an acceptable response to the eugenics movement in Europe and the United States in the early 1900s. The United States Supreme Court in Buck v. Bell (1927), upheld the constitutionality of the 1924 Virginia statute that authorised the forced sterilisation of intellectually disabled people (‘mentally retarded’ was the term in the statute). Vehemently endorsing the eugenic aims of the statute, Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. permitted the forcible sterilisation of an 18-year old woman, with an alleged mental age of nine years and a family history of intellectual disability, with the infamous words that ‘three generations of imbeciles were enough’. Though Buck v. Bell has never been explicitly over-ruled, the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Skinner v. Oklahoma (1942) and the events in Nazi Germany considerably dented the popularity of forced sterilisations as part of the eugenics agenda. Forced sterilisations in the best interest of the intellectually disabled continued in the United States till the early 1980s and it was in the mid-1990s that the debates around chemical castration as a response to rape surfaced as a result of legislation in certain American States.
Once we get past the historical baggage of the term ‘castration,’ the strongest argument in favour of chemical castration is that it is a non-invasive, reversible method of nullifying the production of testosterone and thereby controlling extreme sexual urge. The use of Depo-Provera in many American States subsequent to chemical castration legislation does indicate that it reduces the risk of recidivism. However, such an approach limits the understanding of rape to the framework of sex. Irrespective of the differences in their positions on rape, influential feminists like Susan Brownmiller, Catharine MacKinnon, Andrea Dworkin, Ann Cahill, etc., agree that rape is not about the manifestation of extreme sexual urge. Violence, power, aggression and humiliation are central to understanding rape, and sex is only a mechanism used to achieve those aims.
Addressing the sexual element of rape does not address the violence and humiliation that rape is intended to inflict. Responding to a question on whether chemical castration for child molesters works, Catharine MacKinnon in an interview with Diane Rosenfeld (March 2000) captured the issue at hand by saying that “they just use bottles”. Castration as a response to rape furthers the myth that rape is about the uncontrollable sexual urge of men.
The limited role that sex has to play in understanding rape is further borne out by the fact that not all sex offenders are the same. In essence, an understanding that requires us to look at rapists merely as individuals engaging in deviant sexual behaviour is inaccurate. Rapists fall into different categories including those who deny the commission of the crime or the criminal nature of the act; blame the crime on factors like stress, alcohol, drugs or other non-sexual factors; rape for reasons related to anger, shaming, violence, etc; rape for reasons connected to sexual arousal and specific sexual fantasies, etc. Administering anti-androgens to rapists outside the last category will not be an effective response to check the incidence of rape. Mapping the long standing demand in India to reform the definition of rape (beyond penile-vaginal penetration) to include object/finger-vaginal/anal penetration on to the different categories of sexual offenders shows that a sexual intercourse-based understanding of rape is extremely narrow.
Gender violence
Even the most ardent supporters of chemical castration recognise that administration of anti-androgens without relevant therapies defeats the point of the entire exercise. Given the significant side-effects of chemical castration, a law that would require indefinite administration of anti-androgens for sex offenders is likely to be unconstitutional. Even if the argument is that governments must invest in chemical castration even if it means a minuscule effect on the incidence of rape, it would require State governments to put in place a rigorous system of providing therapy for it to be a constitutional option. Given the condition of state health care services in India, there are very good reasons to be sceptical about the feasibility of providing such therapy.
It is difficult not to succumb to the intuitive appeal of chemical castration as a response to rape. But it is an intuitive appeal that fades away on intense scrutiny. Intuition can be a great asset in politics of all sorts, but it is best avoided while contemplating a law requiring huge public investment, whose potential for abuse is immense and the benefits of which are, at best, uncertain.
Any meaningful attempt to protect women against rape must engage with gendered notions of power entrenched in our families, our marriages, our workplaces, our educational institutions, our religions, our laws, our political parties and, perhaps, worst of all, in our minds. There are many violent manifestations of these entrenched patterns of power in our society and while rape is certainly one of them, it would be a great disservice to empowerment of women in this country to not attach the same kind of urgency and significance to gender violence beyond rape.
(Anup Surendranath is an Assistant Professor of Law, National Law University, Delhi, and doctoral candidate at the Faculty of Law, University of Oxford.)

One-third of Gujarat MLAs face criminal cases, including rape

Some 57 Members of Legislative Assembly elected by Gujarat in the December polls face criminal charges, including that of rape and murder, while nearly three-fourth of them are crorepatis, up from 31 per cent in the 2007 elections, according to data analysed by the Gujarat Election Watch.
The data shows that one-third of MLAs belonging to the Congress as well as the BJP have declared criminal cases.
The top three richest MLAs are from the Congress with Balvantsinh Rajput from Sidhpur constituency having assets worth Rs. 268 crore, followed by Rajguru Indranil from Rajkot East with Rs. 122 crore and Pethalji Chavda from Manavadar constituency with assets worth Rs. 82.90 crore.
Of the 57 MLAs facing cases, charges have been framed against 35 MLAs for various crimes and 24 face serious offences. In 2007, 47 MLAs had criminal charges against them.
BJP MLA from Shehra constituency in Panchmahals district Jetha Bharwad, who had allegedly opened fire and injured four people at Tarsang village during polling on December 17 and was detained by the police, has a charge of kidnapping and inducing a woman to compel her for marriage, and two others of rape and extortion. Bharward, a former suspended police constable, faces a case of forgery. The MLA has not been convicted so far.
Janata Dal (United) strongman from tribal constituency of Jhagadia in South Gujarat’s Bharuch district Chhotu Vasava has 28 cases against him, including nine of dacoity, seven theft and three murder. Charges have been framed in 28 cases.
BJP veteran from North Gujarat Shankar Chaudhary has three murder cases. He won from Vav constituency.
A Modi confidant and former MoS (Home) Amit Shah faces two charges of kidnapping and wrongful confinement, two of murder, and one of kidnapping to murder, among others.
Darshan Desai- The Hindu

Saturday, December 22, 2012

NATO missiles harm Turkey security-Defense Minister Iran

The installation of Patriot anti-missile batteries sent by NATO members to bolster Turkey’s defenses against a possible missile attack from Syria will only harm Turkey’s security, Iran’s defense minister was quoted as saying on Saturday.

NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen used the Scud launches to justify NATO’s decision to dispatch Patriot anti-missile systems to NATO ally Turkey - a deployment criticized by Syria, Iran and Russia.
Tehran opposes the installation of NATO missiles as Western interference in the region and has said it could lead to a “world war.”

“The installation of Patriot missiles in Turkey plays no role in establishing Turkey’s security and this harms the country of Turkey,” Iranian Defense Minister Ahmad Vahidi said on Saturday, according to the Iranian Students’ News Agency (ISNA).

Another Rape-What’s wrong with Indian men?

This is a question more people need to talk about and not be satisfied with clichés or the usual solutions.
Another horror; another rape. This time in a moving bus; at a time of the night when people are still on the roads in Delhi; in a populated area and not some remote jungle. Each time you read news like that of the bestial gang rape of a 23-year-old para-medical student in Delhi earlier this week, your senses are numbed. What is happening to us? What is this brutality we witness all so frequently now? Can it ever stop?
I doubt if we will find a satisfactory answer in the short run. But it is a question that more people need to talk about and debate and not be satisfied with the clichés, the usual solutions or even some unusual ones.
I spent last weekend in my old school, a place where I had five happy years before completing my schooling. It is an all-girls residential school with a substantial proportion of day students. Our memories of our school days, when some of us met again after many decades, were those of the fun times, the carefree years, of a place where we felt safe and were not inhibited from expressing our views. Of course, the very fact of a compulsory school uniform imposed a level of conformism but even within that girls found ways to assert individual personalities — a tuck here, a stitch there. And hair always remained the ultimate expression of rebelliousness — refusing to be neat was the preferred statement of individualism.
All these years later, the girls in that school still wear the same school uniform but they have changed, as has the world around them. They exude the same confidence some of us did. I want to be a Cordon Bleu chef, one girl told me. Another said she wants to be a lawyer — but with the army. Another became really excited when I mentioned I was a journalist. Clearly, for these girls no career is out of reach.
Yet, reading about the Delhi incident, I thought about these young women who are on the verge of stepping out into another world, away from the relatively safe environment of an all-girls school. With modern communication and social networking, they are not as secluded as perhaps we were in our days when even contact with the boys in the school across the boundary wall was frowned upon. Today, girls have Facebook friends and are daring enough to meet them even if all they know about them is what these young men choose to put on their “profile”. I am told that often it is girls from the most conservative homes who take such bold chances and end up in all kinds of trouble.
Yet, whether it was our generation jumping the boundary wall to meet boys or this lot setting up meetings through social networking sites, the compulsions are the same. But is the world a more dangerous place today for young women than it was in our days? If so, how does one prepare them for it?
The predictable formula is to urge them always to be vigilant, to be careful, not to take unnecessary chances. Against the background of the recent spate of sexual crimes against women in Mumbai, the Joint Commissioner of Police (Crime) in Mumbai, Himanshu Roy, had this to say: “The most obvious method of preventing such crimes is that women should be aware of their environment. This does not mean that they should be suspicious of all their male relatives, friends or colleagues, but it would be wrong to assume that none of these will ever harm them.” In effect, he was suggesting that the onus of preventing the crimes is really on women. Roy needs to be reminded that the job of the police and law enforcement is not to tell women what they should do, but to do their own job more effectively.
At the same time, many believe the problem will be tackled if the government, law enforcement and society at large figure out how to “protect” these girls from violence. The courts have suggested more policing, asking for plainclothes women police in malls, cinema halls and public places, with closed circuit cameras. But are women safer in a police state? Can we really “protect” women in a society where they can experience the worst forms of sexual violence inside their homes?
Furthermore, even if there are men who genuinely try and “protect” women and intervene, they do not succeed. In the Delhi incident, the girl’s male companion was mercilessly beaten and thrown out of the bus. In Mumbai, men who tried to intervene were murdered. So who will “protect” the protectors?
A male reader of these columns suggested that we should not focus exclusively on women and instead we needed to make more of an effort to understand men and what drives them to such violence. Without justifying the violence, he felt it was a combination of repression and suppression that drove Indian men to such levels of violence. He might have a point. We have not looked at Indian men, at what is happening to them, what is turning some of them into people who would be better off caged.
These are troubling questions. There are no easy answers. We can begin by debating and discussing this issue much more than we do, in our schools and colleges, in the columns of our newspapers, and in our families. 
Kalpana Sharma- The Hindu

Sunday, November 25, 2012

अहो! ये स्वामीभक्ति धन्य है।

लोकपाल बिल पर राज्यसभा सलेक्ट कमिटी की रिपोर्ट आ गयी है।जिसमे सरकार द्वारा पहले पेश किये गये बिल में कई फेरबदल किये गये हैं।इन फेरबदल के बाद इस बिल को पहले के मुकाबले काफी बेहतर माना  गया है।लेकिन इस रिपोर्ट से एक महत्वपूर्ण वस्तु गायब है।
                   जिस करप्सन के कारण लोकपाल के मुद्दे पर इतना बड़ा आन्दोलन हुआ,और एक मजबूत लोकपाल की मांग पूरे देश में उठी उस करप्सन की गंगोत्री के बारे में इस बिल में क्या है? पिछले दिनों सामने आये सारे घोटालों से किसने सबसे ज्यादा फायदा उठाया? कोडियों के मोल या लगभग मुफ्त में लिए गये कोल ब्लाक्स हों या 2G स्पक्ट्र्म सबमे लूट मचाने वाला तो कॉर्पोरेट सेक्टर ही था।आइरन ओर माइंस से लेकर कीमती जमीन तक जिसने हडप करके डकार तक नही ली उस कॉर्पोरेट सेक्टर को इसमें शामिल क्यों नही किया गया?
                       जैसे जैसे घोटालों से पर्दा उठता गया दोनों बड़ी पार्टियों के नेता बेनकाब होते गये। ऐसा लगा जैसे दोनों में यह दिखाने की होड़ लगी हुई है की कौन ज्यादा स्वामी भक्त है।आज तक जितने भी घोटाले हुए उनकी जो भी जाँच हुई,लूटा गया एक भी पैसा वापिस नही आया।किसी भी बड़े उद्योगपति को न तो ब्लैक लिस्ट किया गया और न ही इसके लिए दोषी ठहराया गया। बहुत हुआ तो नीचे के कुछ लोगों पर केस दर्ज कर दिया गया।बड़ी बड़ी बातें की गयी और असली सवाल हमेशा गोल कर  दिया गया।
                         अब एक बार फिर कॉर्पोरेट मिडिया और दोनों बड़ी और कुछ छोटी पार्टियाँ मिलकर असली सवाल से ध्यान हटाने की कोशिश करेंगी।इस बिल को इस रूप में पेश किया जायेगा जैसे इस पर आम सहमती है।और जैसे यह बिल बेहतरीन है।संसद में अगर इसके खिलाफ कोई आवाज उठती भी है तो उसे न तो मिडिया अपनी खबरों में दिखायेगा और न ही अख़बारों में उसकी कोई खबर होगी।
                        अब इस सवाल पर माननीय अन्ना हजारे और अरविन्द केजरीवाल क्या इसमें कॉर्पोरेट सेक्टर को शामिल करने का दबाव डालेंगे?
                   पूरा देश एक बार फिर कॉर्पोरेट सेक्टर के प्रति सरकार और विरोधी दलों की स्वामी भक्ति देखेगा।

Saturday, November 24, 2012

The hindu Editorial -Mamata scores, for Manmohan

From the very beginning, the no-confidence motion against the United Progressive Alliance government mooted by the Trinamool Congress was doomed to fail. A constituent of the UPA until recently, it was unrealistic for the Trinamool to have hoped the opposition would rally behind it. The Left parties, especially, saw the move as an opportunistic tactic designed to gain political mileage in West Bengal, where they too have high stakes. The main opposition, the Bharatiya Janata Party, realised that a no-trust motion would have had less chance of being carried through in the Lok Sabha than a resolution on the Foreign Direct Investment under Rule 184 entailing voting. For one, a no-trust move would have immediately prompted all the constituents and backers of the UPA to close ranks and ward off the threat to the government. But about FDI in multi-brand retail, many of the UPA partners such as the DMK hold strong reservations as do supporting parties such as the Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party. Even those not keen on unseating the government might thus feel pressured to vote against the government on a resolution against FDI in retail, a politically contentious issue. For the BJP, the less ambitious course held out more hope. Without the prospect of an alliance in West Bengal, the principal opposition party would have sensed no advantage in sailing with the Trinamool on this issue. As the Trinamool attempt to move the motion failed for want of the requisite numbers, another motion of no-confidence will have to wait for at least six more months. But, in the calculations of the BJP and the Left parties, this is a better outcome than the government surviving a no-confidence motion and emerging stronger with claims of Parliament’s endorsement for its policies and programmes.
Sadly, the Trinamool does not seem to have learnt much from the fiasco. Eager to be in the spotlight, the party had decided to move a no-confidence motion without consulting others. Mamata Banerjee now claims the Trinamool’s failed effort exposes the opposition parties that did not support the motion, but this is hardly any consolation. Ms Banerjee was hoping to project the Trinamool as the prime mover of all things, but such short-sighted tactics showed up her party as hot-headed and tactless. Given the composition of the current Lok Sabha, an alternative to a Congress-led government is almost impossible. And parties such as the SP and the BSP do not want to be seen as helping the BJP even if they were to topple the UPA government. While the government might have to face some more embarrassing situations, its survival is not in question in the immediate future.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Left demand Discuss FDI in Retail under Rules That Entail Voting

THIS forthcoming winter session of the parliament comes in the background of growing political uncertainties. The much publicised major cabinet reshuffle did not evoke any sense of confidence that the UPA-2 government is determined to tackle the major issues confronting our peoples’ livelihoods. Allegations of corruption and scams continue to rock the coalition leader, the Congress party. The coalition itself is precariously placed, with the ally from Bengal having withdrawn and the ally from the South virtually sulking and refusing to join in the cabinet reshuffle.

Its majority in the Lok Sabha now depends on the outside support of the Samajwadi Party and the BSP. On the other hand, the principal opposition party appears to be in a disarray with its president itself continuing in office becoming increasingly untenable in the face of alleged corruption charges. How these uncertainties will unfold will determine whether this session can hold the government accountable for its acts of omission and commission and force it to take tangible measures to provide relief measures to the people.

The intersession period since the last washed out monsoon session of parliament saw widespread protests against the government’s decision to permit FDI in multi-brand retail sector.  On an earlier occasion, during the budget session, the then finance minister, who is now the president of India,  had assured the parliament that the government will operationalise this decision only after wide ranging consultations with all the stakeholders and try to build a consensus. The government, however, betraying its own assurances to parliament, has decided to unilaterally proceed with the implementation of this decision.

This was met with widespread protests by a cross section of political parties.  The call for a ‘national hartal’ given by the Left parties along with the Samajwadi Party, the Telugu Desam, the Janata Dal (S) and the Biju Janata Dal was received with enthusiasm by the  people across the country.  In Delhi, the leaders of all these eight parties courted arrest protesting against this decision.  Simultaneously, on the same day, September 20, the All India Federation of Retail Trade Associations had given a call for a ‘Bharat bandh’.  An important UPA ally from the South, DMK, openly announced its opposition to this move.  So did the AIADMK as well.  Numerically, the strength of all these parties put together constitutes a majority in both the houses of parliament.

It is under these circumstances that the CPI(M) leaders in both the houses of parliament served notices, under rules that entail voting, for a motion disapproving this decision of the government.  Forcing the government to accept such a discussion, under the relevant rules, and deciding to a vote would have decisively frustrated the government’s efforts to allow FDI to prise open our markets and access our resources for its profits at the expense of our people.  This strategy would have effectively cornered this UPA-2 government and prevented it from going ahead with such anti-people reforms.

As opposed to this strategy, some political parties, particularly the UPA-2’s now estranged ally, the Trinamool Congress, has floated the idea of moving a no-confidence motion against the government. Now, a no-confidence motion is not an issue-specific motion.  Usually, such motions are considered when sufficient members in the Lok Sabha, belonging to various opposition parties, can be mustered to ensure the possibility of carrying this motion.  In the event that the no-confidence motion is unable to be carried in the Lok Sabha, then the government gets not only a reprieve but also the opportunity to interpret this vote as an endorsement of all its policies and its governance.  Contrary to the requirement of preventing the government from carrying forward anti-people measures, the government would be provided with the opportunity to impose further such measures invoking the Lok Sabha’s endorsement as its legitimity.

In the current scenario, when both the SP and the BSP continue with their outside support to the government, the prospects of carrying the no-confidence motion is very remote.  Moving any such motion in the present context is to provide an escape route to the government, instead of making it accountable to the parliament and people. The tactics adopted by the Trinamool Congress, thus, serve the interests of not only saving this government but to provide it with a legitimacy to carry forward such anti-people neo-liberal economic reforms. The Trinamool Congress will, thus, be acting as the B-team of the Congress.

The Congress party, on its part, is preparing to prevent any discussion in the parliament under rules that entail voting.  The union commerce minister has claimed that executive decisions of the government have never been subjected to parliamentary discussions under rules that entail voting.  When it was pointed out that on the March 1, 2001, under the NDA government led by Atal Behari Vajpayee, a motion moved by then CPI(M) MP, Rupchand Pal, disapproving the proposed disinvestment of Bharat Aluminium Co. Ltd. (Balco) was admitted and discussed and voted upon under a rule that entailed voting, the parliamentary affairs minister is seeking to negate any such precedent by stating that the Balco disinvestment was a ‘stand alone’ issue and not a policy decided by the union cabinet!

This is a very strange logic, indeed.  The Congress party had, on that occasion, supported the CPI(M) motion which was defeated by 239 votes against 154.  Leading the Congress support to the CPI(M) motion, Priyaranjan Das Munshi, in that debate said, “Disinvestment and privatisation are two different things.  If the equity participation of a management is 51 per cent, it is not disinvestment, it is total privatisation”. Clearly, the Congress then was talking about the NDA’s policy of privatisation as opposed to a ‘stand alone’ case of disinvestment.  These are the facts.  The Congress party cannot rely on falsification now to deny the parliament its right to discuss and vote upon such an issue as FDI in retail trade which has a vital bearing on the livelihood of at least a fifth of our country’s population.

Further, a public interest litigation was filed in the Supreme Court on this issue of FDI in retail trade.  It is only after the apex court’s intervention that the RBI issued a notification amending the regulations to permit FDI in multi-brand retail trade. This has been gazetted on October 30. The court further stated that there is no reason to fear that the government will not place these amendments in parliament. Hence, it further opined that since the parliament session is to begin, this appeal should wait for its decision on the matter.  Similarly, at the time of Balco disinvestment, the Delhi High Court also reposed their faith on the parliament while dealing with the writ petition, then.

In this connection, Priyaranjan Das Munshi said, “Both the judges reposed their faith on the parliament. They said that since the matter is in parliament, let them complete the session, then we will react. This is the respect shown by the judiciary to parliament. How parliament should react?  Should we fight for discussion under Rule 184 and 193?  Should we be swayed by the jugglery of Arun Jaitley, linking the Balco deal with the world economy and with the revival of all sick units? I think the parliament in its traditional morality should stand and respond that we reject this deal and we demand a JPC.  It is not a matter of politics between the Congress and the NDA; and between CPI(M) and the NDA. It is not a matter to score points with the NDA partners. It is a matter of parliament’s own wisdom before the nation. How should we react to this situation?”

It is in this very same spirit that the government should agree for a discussion under rules that entail voting and let the parliament decide on this matter.  In the final analysis, the ultimate sovereignty under our constitution rests with the people of India and this is exercised by their elected representatives in the parliament.  The sanctity of our constitutional scheme of things cannot be allowed to be undermined.
(November 21, 2012

FDI -सरकार का बचाव बेदम है।

FDI  पर हमारे देश में जो विरोध है वह कोई नया  नहीं है। विपक्ष के संसद में बहस के बाद वोटिंग की मांग पर सरकार का कहना है की हर कार्यकारी फैसले पर संसद की राय लेना सविधान के अनुसार जरूरी नही है। परन्तु क्या मामला इतना सीधा है, जितना सरकार दिखाने की कोशिश कर  रही है।हमारी सरकार पर बहुत दिन से देशी और विदेशी उद्योगपतियों का दबाव था की सरकार FDI रिटेल में 51% की मंजूरी दे।परन्तु देश के अंदर इसके भारी विरोध को देखते हुए सरकार इसे लागु नहीं कर पा  रही थी।पिछली बार सरकार ने जब इसे लागु करने की कोशिश की तो संसद और संसद के बाहर इसका भारी विरोध हुआ।यहाँ तक की सरकार के अंदर शामिल उसके कुछ सहयोगी भी इसके खिलाफ खड़े हो गये।तब सरकार ने संसद में कहा  की वो इस फैसले को सभी STAKE HOLDER से बात करने के बाद और एक बड़ी सहमती के बाद ही इसे लागु करेगी। सरकार के इस बयान पर मार्क्सवादी नेता सीताराम येचुरी ने विशेष रूप से पूछा की क्या STAKE HOLDERS में पोलिटिकल पार्टियाँ भी शामिल हैं,तो सरकार ने कहा की हाँ इसमें पोलिटिकल पार्टियाँ और राज्य सरकारें दोनों शामिल हैं।
                          उसके बाद सरकार ने बिना पोलिटिकल पार्टियों और बगैर राज्य सरकारों से बात किये इसे लागु करने का फैसला कर दिया।सरकार ने यह जल्दबाजी अपने आप को आर्थिक सुधारों के और तथाकथित उदारीकरण के तरफदार दिखाने के लिए की।अब सवाल केवल यह नही रह गया है की यह फैसला किसके हित में है या किसके खिलाफ है,बल्कि एक नया सवाल खड़ा हो गया है की क्या सरकार संसद में दिए गये अपने बयान को इस तरह अनदेखा कर  सकती है? अगर सरकार इस तरह संसद की उपेक्षा करेगी तो कई समस्याएँ खड़ी हो जाएँगी।अब सरकार ने किस किस पार्टी से बात की , और किस किस राज्य सरकार से बात की, यह तो संसद में वोटिंग से ही पता चल सकता है।
                        दूसरी तरफ एक ऐसे फैसले को जिसके विरोध में भारत बंद तक हो चूका है,केवल एक कार्यकारी फैसला कहना देश को गुमराह करने वाली बात है।सरकार संसद में दिए गये अपने बयान से मुकर नही सकती। इस सवाल पर सरकार को संसद में पूरी बहस करवाने के साथ ही वोटिंग भी करवानी चाहिए ताकि पता चल सके की देश का कितना हिस्सा इसके साथ है,और कितना हिस्सा इसके खिलाफ है।और अगर बहुमत इसके खिलाफ होता है तो तुरंत इसे वापिस लेना चाहिए। देश किसी एक पार्टी या कुछ उद्योगपतियों की जायदाद नही है।

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Bharat Sangeet Utsav from today

Carnatica and Sri Krishna Sweets are back this year with the annual L&T Bharat Sangeet Utsav, which will be held from November 20 to 25 at Sarojini Auditorium of Kikkani School (off Brooke Bond Road).
The festival begins with a vocal recital by Nithyasree Mahadevan. The final day on November 25 will be marked by carnatic vocal recital by M. Balamuralikrishna, who will also be conferred with the title Bharata Sangeeta Kovidha. Bharata Natya Seva Niratha will be conferred on S. Saraswathi of Vipanchee Natyalaya by Swami Dayanandha Saraswathi of Arsha Vidya Gurukulam.
P. Unnikrishnan, Vijay Siva, Gayathri Venkatraghavan, Sangeetha Sivakumar and Abhishek Raghuram are among the other performers.
The fusion and jugalbandhi segments consist of Sriram Parasuram and Anoordha Sriram and Carnatica Brothers K.N. Shashikiran and P. Ganesh with world percussion maestro Mark Stone from the U.S., who is on his first visit to India, the organisers said in a press release. “The uniqueness of this years’ programme is that we will present ragam, thalam and pallavi in English, but by retaining the essential carnatic flavour,” Mr. Shashikiran said. “This is to help Mr. Stone and some others understand easily,” he said.
In the dance section, there will be performances by Vipanchee Natyalaya and Abhayasa Academy of Dance.
The internet radio will air the concerts live. For details, contact: 94440 18269 / 98400 15013.

An authentic Indian fascism--Praveen Swami

The Shiv Sena chief gave voice to a Nazi impulse in Indian politics — one that poses an ever-growing threat to our Republic
“Fascism”, wrote the great Marxist intellectual Antonio Gramsci, in a treatise Balasaheb Keshav Thackeray likely never read but demonstrated a robust grasp of through his lifetime, “has presented itself as the anti-party; has opened its gates to all applicants; has with its promise of impunity enabled a formless multitude to cover over the savage outpourings of passions, hatreds and desires with a varnish of vague and nebulous political ideals. Fascism has thus become a question of social mores: it has become identified with the barbaric and anti-social psychology of certain strata of the Italian people which have not yet been modified by a new tradition, by education, by living together in a well-ordered and well-administered state”.
Ever since Thackeray’s passing, many of India’s most influential voices have joined in the kind of lamentation normally reserved for saints and movie stars. Ajay Devgn described him as “a man of vision”; Ram Gopal Varma as “the true epitome of power”. Amitabh Bachchan “admired his grit”; Lata Mangeshkar felt “orphaned”. Even President Pranab Mukherjee felt compelled to describe Thackeray’s death as an “irreparable loss”. The harshest word grovelling television reporters seemed able to summon was “divisive”.
It is tempting to attribute this nauseous chorus to fear or obsequiousness. Yet, there is a deeper pathology at work. In 1967, Thackeray told the newspaper Navakal: “It is a Hitler that is needed in India today”. This is the legacy India’s reliably anti-republican elite has joined in mourning.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Why I can’t pay tribute to Thackeray--Markandey Katju

His bhumiputra theory flies in the face of our Constitution and works against the unity needed to ensure development
Muppadhu kodi mugamudayal
Enil maipuram ondrudayal
Ival Seppumozhi padhinetudayal
Enil Sindhanai ondrudayal
(This Bharatmata has 30 crore faces
But her body is one
She speaks 18 languages
But her thought is one)
Tamil poet Subramania Bharathi
Bhedad gana vinauyanti bhinnah supajapah paraih
Tasmat samghatayogesu prayateran ganah sada
(Republics have been destroyed because of internal divisions among the people;
Hence a republic should always strive to achieve unity and good relations among the people)
Mahabharat, Shanti Parva, chapter 108, shloka 14
Tesam anyonyabhinnanam svauaktim anutisthatam
Nigrahah panditaih karyah ksipram eva pradhanatah
(Therefore the wise authorities should crush the separatist forces trying to assert their strength)
Mahabharat, Shanti Parva, 108:26
Political leaders, film stars, cricketers, etc. are all falling over one another to pay tribute to the late Bal Thackeray. Amidst this plethora of accolades and plaudits pouring in from the high and mighty, I humbly wish to register my vote of dissent.
I know of the maxim De mortuis nil nisi bonum (of the dead speak only good), but I regret I cannot, since I regard the interest of my country above observance of civil proprieties.
What is Bal Thackeray’s legacy?
It is the anti-national ‘sons of the soil’ (bhumiputra) theory.
Article 1(1) of the Indian Constitution states: “India, that is Bharat, shall be a Union of States.”
Thus, India is not a confederation but a union.
Article 19 (1) (e) states: “All citizens shall have the right — to reside and settle in any part of the territory of India.”
Thus, it is a fundamental right of a Gujarati, south Indian, Bihari, U.P.ite, or person from any other part of India to migrate to Maharashtra and settle down there, just as it is of Maharashtrians to settle down in any part of India (though there are some restrictions in J&K, and some North-East States, due to historical reasons).
The bhumiputra theory states that Maharashtra essentially belongs to Marathi people, while Gujaratis, south Indians, north Indians, etc. are outsiders. This is in the teeth of Articles 1(1) and 19(1)(e) of the Constitution. India is one nation, and hence non-Maharashtrians cannot be treated as outsiders in Maharashtra.
The Shiv Sena created by Thackeray attacked south Indians in the 1960s and 70s, and vandalised their restaurants and homes. In 2008, Biharis and U.P.ites living in Mumbai (the bhaiyyas who eke out a livelihood as milk and newspaper vendors, taxi drivers etc.) were described as infiltrators and attacked, their taxis smashed, and several beaten up. Muslims were also vilified
This, of course, created a vote bank for Thackeray based on hatred (as had Hitler, of whom Thackeray was an admirer), and how does it matter if the country breaks up and is Balkanised?
Apart from the objection to the ‘sons of the soil’ theory for being anti-national and unconstitutional, there is an even more basic objection, which may rebound on Thackeray’s own people.
India is broadly a country of immigrants (like North America) and 92-93 per cent of the people living in India today are not the original inhabitants but descendants of immigrants who came mainly from the north-west seeking a comfortable life in the sub-continent (see the article ‘What is India?’ on my blog and the video on the website ).
The original inhabitants (the real bhumiputra) of India are the pre-Dravidian tribals, known as Adivasis (the Bhils, Gonds, Santhals, Todas, etc.) who are only 7-8 per cent of our population today.
Hence if the bhumiputra theory is seriously implemented, 92-93 per cent of Maharashtrians (including, perhaps, the Thackeray family) may have to be regarded as outsiders and treated accordingly. The only real bhumiputra in Maharashtra are the Bhils and other tribals, who are only 7-8 per cent of the population of Maharashtra.
Several separatist and fissiparous forces are at work in India today (including the bhumiputra theory). All patriotic people must combat these forces.
Why must we remain united? We must remain united because only a massive modern industry can generate the huge wealth we require for the welfare of our people — agriculture alone cannot do this — and modern industry requires a huge market. Only a united India can provide the huge market for the modern industry we must create to abolish poverty, unemployment and other social evils, and to provide for the huge health care and modern education systems we must set up if we wish to come to the front ranks of the most advanced countries.
Hence I regret I cannot pay any tribute to Mr. Bal Thackeray.
(Markandey Katju is Chairman, Press Council of India.)

Friday, November 16, 2012

So called god of democracy and human right

Britain training rebels to assassinate Syrian president: report

As British Prime Minister David Cameron prepares to use the Royal Air Force (RAF) in Syria to put an end to the massacres the Syrian regime is committing throughout the country, British Special Forces are training rebels to assassinate the Syrian president and his commanders, the London Daily Star reported.

UK government sources told the newspaper that British assassination squads are in Syria to train rebels on how to target President Bashar al-Assad and his warlords. Some troops hailing from Britain Special Air Service (SAS), Special Boat Section (SBS) and the Airborne Infantry of the British Army (Paras) are also in the country to teach Anti-Assad fighters techniques on the accurate use of weapons and explosives against Assad regime forces, the sources said.

Unlike the previous position of the United States and Western countries not to arm the Syrian rebels, U.S. president Barack Obama and Cameron are considering to intervene in Syria and to enforce a no-fly zone, the sources added.

Earlier this week, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad showed defiance when he appeared on Russian television warning against any intervention. Assad promised to take the fight till the end. “I’m Syrian, I was made in Syrian and I have to live in Syria and die in Syria,” he said.

During his visit to Syrian refugee camps in Jordan, Cameron urged the United States to pressure the international community to offer more help to Syrians who were forced to leave their country due to ongoing violence.

“Right here in Jordan I am hearing appalling stories of what has happened inside Syria and one of the first things I want to talk to Obama about is how we must do more to try and solve this crisis,” Cameron said.

Since March 2011, an overall death toll of more than 37,000 was recorded by the monitoring group, the Observatory of Human Rights. The New York Times said more than 20,000 members of the Syrian army have defected and joined the Free Syrian Army across the country.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

US Election-The same party wins every time. Duopoly power rules

The same party wins every time. Duopoly power rules. America is a one party state with two wings. Each replicates the other. On major issues mattering most, not a dime's worth of difference separates them.
The late Gore Vidal explained it as well as anyone. Some of his best comments included:
"Apparently, a democracy is a place where numerous elections are held at great cost without issues and with interchangeable candidates."
"Any American who is prepared to run for president should automatically by definition be disqualified from ever doing so."
"By the time a man gets to be presidential material, he's been bought ten times over."
"Every four years the naive half who vote are encouraged to believe that if we can elect a really nice man or woman President everything will be all right. But it won't be."
"The genius of our ruling class is that it has kept a majority of the people from ever questioning the inequity of a system where most people drudge along, paying heavy taxes for which they get nothing in return."
"We should stop going around babbling about how we're the greatest democracy on earth."
He also said America is "rotting away at a funereal pace. We'll have a military dictatorship pretty soon, on the basis that nobody else can hold everything together."
He thought of himself as a modern-day Voltaire. We need a legion of them at perhaps the most perilous time in world history.
Reelecting Obama assures worse than his first term harm. Romney in office would match him blow for blow. Voters likely chose the lesser of two evils. At least they thought they did. In any form, evil is evil. Duopoly power offers no other choice.
Expect four more years of permanent wars, greater economic hardships, growing poverty, unemployment, homelessness, hunger, and human misery, handing more of the nation's wealth to corporate predators, governing lawlessly, and cracking down ruthlessly on resisters.
Anti-progressivism defines Obama's agenda. He's hard-right, reactionary, belligerent, and pro-corporate. He serves wealth, power and privilege at the expense of essential popular needs.
Force-fed austerity will harm millions more than already. Expect human suffering to increase exponentially domestically and abroad. Why anyone would support what they should condemn they'll have to explain.
It's true as well about political promises broken every time. IF Stone told aspiring journalists that all governments lie. Nothing they say should be believed.
Obama exceeded the worst of his predecessors. Every major pledge made he broke. He's a duplicitous con man. He's a crime boss, serial liar and moral coward. He promised change and delivered betrayal.
He doesn't fool all the people all the time but enough to matter. Tuesday night he celebrated with supporters. The Chicago Tribune headlined it.
It shamelessly endorsed his reelection. It praised his "decisiveness and intellectual rigor." It backed the worst of his policies. McCormick Place echoed with "deafening cheers….launching a wild celebration among thousands of his supporters."
It was subdued compared to 2008. Chicago offices closed early. Tens of thousands packed Grant Park downtown. Word came around 10PM. The celebratory mood felt like New Year's eve.
Supporters thought Obama could make a difference at a time of deepening economic duress. He made things worse, not better.
This year, McCormick Place erected huge television screens. Victory was announced around 11:20PM. Several thousand inside heard it. They came by invitation only. They were hand picked in advance. Tickets were needed for entry.
City streets were no more active than usual. The celebratory mood four years ago wasn't repeated. Most people likely went to bed. Obama's victory speech sounded like more campaigning.
"We are an American family and we rise as one people," he said.
"Whether I earned your vote or not, I have listened to you, I have learned from you, and you've made me a better president. I return to the White House more determined and more inspired than ever."
"Tonight, you voted for action, not politics as usual. You elected us to focus on your jobs, not ours."
"(W)e know in our hearts that for the United States of America, the best is yet to come."
"We want our kids to grow up in a country where they have access to the best schools and the best teachers….(a) global leader….with all of the good jobs and new businesses that follow."
"We want to pass on a country that’s safe and respected and admired around the world, a nation that is defended by the strongest military on earth….to shape a peace that is built on the promise of freedom and dignity for every human being."
"We believe in a generous America, in a compassionate America, in a tolerant America open to the dreams of" everyone.
"Our economy is recovering. A decade of war is ending."
"I return to the White House more determined and more inspired than ever about the work there is to do and the future that lies ahead."
"And together, with your help and God’s grace, we will continue our journey forward and remind the world just why it is that we live in the greatest nation on earth."
All of the above was said with forked tongue. Obama and likeminded rogues deplore rule of law principles, other democratic values, and vital social services when they're most needed.
They prioritize war, not peace. Their agenda threatens humanity. They don't give a damn about ordinary people. Obama never did. He just pretends. Despite all the harm inflicted on so many, half the country still supports him. Why they'll have to explain.
Imagine what he plans in term two. Humanity may not survive. More wars are planned. Current ones will continue. Social America is on the chopping block for elimination. Great Betrayal priorities demand it.
Resisters face harsh crackdowns. Anyone can be arrested, imprisoned, and stay there indefinitely uncharged and untried. On Obama's say alone, people can be marked for death. He's now judge, jury and executioner.
America hasn't been fit to live in for years. It's now dangerous. Ahead it'll be intolerable. Obama's mandate is to assure it. Imagine a leader promising better times and delivering what few can tolerate.
Imagine too few realizing that the worst is yet to come. Imagine putting up with what should be challenged and dispatched. Imagine media scoundrels praising what they should condemn.
America's "newspaper of record" endorsed him for the wrong reasons. Death squad diplomacy was ignored. So were plans for global dominance and human deprivation at home.
The New York Times cited economic recovery at a time it's worsening. It called his achievements "impressive." It claimed destructive domestic and foreign policies were successes.
It turned truth on its head. It "enthusiastically" endorsed four more years. On November 6, it headlined "President Obama's Success," saying:
Winning showed most people support his "economic policies that stress job growth, health care reform, tax increases and balanced deficit reduction…."
"It was a repudiation….of the politics of fear, intolerance and disinformation."
Fact check
Obama wrecked the economy to help banks, other corporate favorites, and rich elites. He's been more a job destroyer than creator. Nearly 25 million remain unemployed. They represent nearly 23% of eligible workers.
Most youths have no futures. Higher education doesn't help. Increasingly it's unaffordable. Most getting it end up debt entrapped for years, decades, and in some cases forever.
Obama continued past policies of offshoring high pay/good benefit jobs. Most remaining are low pay/poor or no benefit part-time or temp ones.
He cut corporate taxes. He left Bush-era cuts for the rich in place. He plans more of the same at the expense of public need. He presides over the largest military budget in world history. Increases are planned, not cuts.
He handed America's healthcare system to corporate predators. Ralph Nader calls it "a pay-or-die system that's the disgrace of the Western world."
Costs are shifted to consumers. Most get inadequate or unaffordable care. Corporate provider profits are better than ever. So-called financial reform did the same for Wall Street and other large financial institutions.
Deficit reduction will be done on the backs of ordinary people who can least afford it. Destroying social America is planned to accomplish it.
New York Times editors are well paid. Human deprivation isn't their concern.
Nation magazine also endorsed Obama. It openly campaigned for him. Defeating him would be catastrophic for progressive politics, it claimed.
Truth was ignored in support of what should have been condemned. Policies too disturbing to discuss are ignored. Obama's war on humanity and police state repression get no attention. Sophistry and lies substitute. It's official Nation policy.
It's been that way throughout its history. It masquerades as progressive. It represents middle-America elites. Ordinary people don't matter.
On November 7, Nation contributor John Nichols headlined "For Obama, a Bigger Win Than for Kennedy, Nixon, Carter, Bush or Bush," saying:
He won "a credible, national win….And it was a real victory….And a president who has been comfortably reelected ought not think small. He should 'spend his capital' on projects worthy of the trust Americans have afforded him."
Not a word in Nichols' article about permanent imperial wars, prioritizing corporate favoritism, US-style fascism wrapped in an American flag, growing unmet people needs, and harsh police state laws targeting resisters.
Nothing either on Democrats perhaps better able to destroy social America than Republicans. In 2008, monied interests chose him to do what Republicans wouldn't dare. It represented a classic reverse Nixon goes to China moment.
The fix was in. There's unfinished business. Four more Obama years may complete turning America into the worst of all possible worlds. Backers have that idea in mind.
Nation magazine and other progressive charlatans conceal it. Nichols and contributors like him turn reality on its head.
Most Americans afforded Obama nothing. Most votes for him were likely against Romney. Money power in America chooses candidates and winners. Corporate manipulated and controlled electronic voting machines have final say.
Nichols and likeminded Obama supporters suppress what should be headlined. Ordinary Americans will learn more harsh truths straightaway. Lame duck congressional budget cutting looms.
They'll be hardest hit. Obama supports it. Monied interests gave him two terms for that purpose. He hasn't disappointed. Expect lots more pain and suffering ahead.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Eat, pray, love--slow food v/s fast food

With Slow Food, the world’s most important contemporary food movement created to counter fast food and fast lifestyles, gathering momentum, here’s a look at the movement’s biggest event held in Turin, Italy, recently.
The singing begins at night. Every night. Words are inconsequential. Emotion and rhythm don’t require language. Sometimes Palestine begins with hand drums, their verses punctuated with whoops and whistles. Sometimes it’s the group from the Philippines, dancing in a circle to gongs and guitars. Sometimes it’s the boys from Sierra Leone, with their distinctive painted wooden hats, all big smiles and bright scarves. The song always gathers strength. It rings through the marketplace, drawing in Swiss men in suspenders, Moroccan women with dramatic kohl-rimmed eyes and petite Korean cooks.
We’re in the Terra Madre arena titled ‘Market Place’, a space hosting 400 food communities from 100 countries. Next door the Salone del Gusto, a theatre of taste that began in 1996, operates from three massive pavilions, displaying Italy's gastronomic diversity.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Colombian hope for stability

A breakthrough in the recently launched talks between the Colombian government and FARC rebels raises hopes of an orderly transition to stability
The recently launched peace talks in Oslo between the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC) and the Colombian government are the fourth such attempt in 30 years. Will they bear fruit this time around? If so, why?
Much is at stake. This is the longest standing armed conflict in the Western Hemisphere. The FARC were founded in 1966 as part of the wave of guerrilla movements that spawned in the wake of the Cuban Revolution. Though many of their counterparts in the rest of Latin America were defeated, some were not. The Sandinistas brought down the Somoza dictatorship in Nicaragua, and one of their leaders, Daniel Ortega, is now President. The Frente Farabundo Marti de Liberacion Nacional (FMLN) in El Salvador, after quitting the armed struggle and morphing into a political party, elected their candidate, Mauricio Funes, to the presidency in 2009. Elsewhere, former urban guerrilla leaders who spearheaded the fight against military rule in the Southern Cone (and spent time in prison for it), like Presidents Jose (“Pepe”) Mujica in Uruguay and Dilma Roussef in Brazil, serve now as elected heads of state.
Yet, a military defeat of the Colombian state by FARC, or the Ejercito de Liberacion Nacional (ELN), the other guerrilla group active in Colombia (and one not taking part in these talks), was never on the cards. With a population of 45 million and a land mass of over one million square kilometres, Colombia is much too big a country to fall prey to a band of armed insurgents that has never been larger than some 20,000 to 30,000 men and women (though, amazingly, they managed to control as much as a third of the national territory at one point in time). The question, rather, is how they have managed to survive for so long.

Geographical factors

One reason is the fragmented and rough nature of the extensive and extreme Colombian geography, marked by the high Andes mountains (the second highest in the world, after the Himalayas) and enormous rivers like the Magdalena. Vast swathes of land, some of seemingly impenetrable jungle, have never been under the effective authority of the Colombian state. This leaves ample space for insurgent groups to ply their trade, in provinces like Putumayo, Narino and Caqueta in the South, but also in the rest of rural Colombia. On the other hand, the drug trade has allowed FARC to access ample financial resources (hence the term “narco-guerrillas”). This is supplemented by kidnappings, extortions and other such unsavoury activities, though the latter have been drastically reduced under relentless assault by the Colombian military. Reported kidnappings have dwindled from 3,572 in 2000 to 305 in 2011. The murder rate is at a low of 32 per 100,000 (in Honduras, it is at 82 per 100,000 and in El Salvador it is at 66 per 100,000; the average worldwide rate is 8 per 100,000). Still, according to some estimates, the FARC, described by BBC as “the world’s richest rebel movement”, have already stashed away so much money that they could go on for a long time, making do just with the interest on it.
If so, why this renewed attempt at making peace?
As a recent report of the International Crisis Group (“Colombia: Peace at Last?”) concludes, a stalemate obtains. Thanks to the considerable build-up of the Colombian military (whose numbers have gone up from 132,000 in 2002 to 283,000 in 2010, with the police reaching 132,000) and the U.S.-supported Plan Colombia, which has provided about 7 billion dollars in military hardware and training programmes over the past decade, and their sweeping, nationwide actions, the FARC are on the defensive. Many of their leaders, from Manuel (“Tiro Fijo”) Marulanda, to Raul Reyes, el “Mono Jojoy” and Alfonso Cano, have fallen in the battlefield. Vast numbers of guerrillas have been killed, captured or otherwise demobilised. No more than 8,000 to 9000 FARC members are estimated to be in the field, down from 16,000 in 2001.
For President Juan Manuel Santos, bringing peace would be quite a feather in his cap. A former Defence Minister during the presidency of Alvaro Uribe (2002-2010), in his short two years in office, he has shown his mettle (and made the cover of TIME Magazine). Aware that more inclusive social policies are needed to redress Colombia’s abysmal inequality, he has moved in that direction on a variety of fronts. This includes legislation to provide compensation to over 4 million victims of violence. With a 0.55 Gini coefficient, Colombia has one of the most unequal income distributions in the world’s most unequal region (in India, the Gini, as measured in 2004, is 0.36 —probably higher today — in Norway, the least unequal society, 0.25 ). Colombia’s current economic boom, driven by massive foreign investment in mining and oil exploration projects in lands long considered off-limits because of the armed conflict, would acquire an additional impetus from a successful peace process. In fact, the Colombian economy is doing so well that the country is being considered for OECD membership (the “rich countries’ club”).

A detractor

Although 74 per cent of Colombians support the peace process, former President Uribe does not. After falling out with Mr. Santos, he spends much of his time attacking him, often on Twitter, of which he is an avid user ( Twitter has taken off among Colombian politicians; another avid user is Gustavo Petro, the mayor of Bogota, and a former guerrilla himself, sometimes accused of spending more time tweeting than on running the capital city). Mr. Uribe, whose government was blamed for harbouring the paramilitary squads that have taken justice into their own hands in Colombia, leading to many human rights violations, does not consider FARC a legitimate interlocutor but a criminal organisation. He believes peace negotiations only give them time to regroup and get ready to fight another day.
Yet, as opposed to what happened in the past, this time there is no ceasefire on either side. In the early 2000s, under President Andres Pastrana, FARC secured a large sanctuary in Southern Colombia as part of the conditions for a previous peace negotiation. They used it for enhanced training and smuggling operations. On this occasion, the relentless military offensive of the government continues, and the FARC understand that these are the new rules of the game.
What role does the international community play in all this?
Although the negotiating parties are all Colombians, foreign countries are very much involved. Norway, an impartial and honest power-broker with no axe to grind in a far-away country, is hosting the first phase of these talks, and is one of its guarantors. Another is Venezuela, where the government of President Hugo Chavez has had an off-and-on relationship with FARC. A third is Cuba, where the talks will move to for the second phase. Havana is the only Latin American capital where FARC leaders feel safe, and the Castro brothers have been advising them for a long time to give up the armed struggle. Chile, as chair of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), and whose President, Sebastian Pinera, is a friend of Mr. Santos, is also part of the process.

Santos’ statecraft

It is a measure of Mr. Santos’ statecraft that he has not only repaired the frayed state of Colombia’s relations with Venezuela — left to him in a shambles after years of bickering over many issues, from border disputes to how to deal with FARC — but also with Cuba. In fact, Mr. Santos owes Cuba big time. The Sixth Summit of the Americas, held last April in the Colombian port city of Cartagena, almost blew up in the host country’s face. A number of countries questioned the absence of Cuba at the summit, and threatened to boycott the meeting. It was only after a visit by Mr. Santos to Havana and a hurried back-and-forth with Fidel and Raul Castro, that the Cuban government expressed it had no objection to not being invited to Cartagena, thus saving the meeting.
The conditions for a breakthrough in these peace negotiations are there. The ambitious agenda includes integrated agrarian development, political participation; termination of the conflict; solution to the problem of illegal drugs and preparation for lasting peace. The current Colombian government has the standing to offer credible guarantees to the FARC leadership. It must be kept in mind that in the 1980s, when another generation of guerrilla leaders, the M-19, gave up their weapons to form a political party, the Union Patriotica, and ran for office, several thousands of them, including their presidential candidate, and many elected Congressmen, were shot and killed by paramilitaries. In turn, despite the high turnover in their top leadership, FARC retain a significant degree of control of their membership and operations, making them a partner the government can do business with. An orderly transition to peace would be in everybody’s best interests, especially the Colombian population, exhausted after half a century of “la violencia”.
(Jorge Heine is CIGI Professor of Global Governance at the Balsillie School of International Affairs, Wilfrid Laurier University, and a Distinguished Fellow at the Centre for International Governance Innovation, in Waterloo, Ontario. His Oxford Handbook of Modern Diplomacy, co-edited with A. Cooper and R. Thakur, is forthcoming in 2013 from Oxford University Press.)

Is congress should forg a secular front for 2014

The Congress which is congregating at Surajkund today should think of dissolving the UPA, and forging a new unity with progressive forces
The Congress leaders who congregate in Surajkund today for an internal conversation (samvad) have a fairly clear-cut task on their hands — how to start thinking and behaving like a political party. As it were, the Surajkund dialogue is taking place after the party performed a much-needed rite of democratic mobilisation last Sunday at the Ramlila Maidan in New Delhi. On that day, the Congress did manage to demonstrate an organisational temperament that behoves the oldest political formation in the country. It was arguably the first non-election mass rally the Congress leaders had felt excited enough to organise since the UPA’s birth in 2004, and, that too in defence of their own government’s policies. Above all, the Ramlila Maidan show sent out an unambiguous message that the party has rolled back its collective self-doubts on its own moral disintegration that was being sought to be imposed on it by a crafty cabal of civil society activists and sangh parivar conspirators.

Discourage sycophants

At Surajkund, the Congress leaders will do themselves a favour if they were, first, to recognise and acknowledge that after more than eight years in office at the Centre, there is no — nor can there be any — distinction between the party and the government. The self-styled loyalists and professional sycophants should be discouraged from attributing all political difficulties to the government and claiming all the redeeming impulses for the party leadership. That fiction was perhaps workable in 2009; it will not wash in 2014.
The Congress congregation will do well to remember that a decade in office at the Centre has spawned new rivals and enemies, who may have sufficient reason and enough resources to join hands with the party’s old adversaries. This, however, is a normal democratic process and a smart political party does itself a favour by keeping track of emerging aspirations and discontents in society. And, like any other government, UPA-I and UPA-II have had their share of aberrations and absurdities which did not find approval with the arbiters of political correctness.
Nor can the leaders wish away the simple fact: exercise of power, especially of the governmental kind, inevitably produces political consequences and ethical dilemmas. The UPA’s uninterrupted tenure at the Centre has necessarily bestowed undue advantages and benefits to some sections of society, and, similarly visited undeserved unhappiness and disadvantages on others. There are winners and losers, and there is a political economy of pleasure and pain.
Whether it likes it or not, the Congress will need to answer for the so-called sins of the Manmohan Singh government; the mature and sensible approach should be to assess calmly what the government has accomplished and to claim credit for its achievements. Especially, as a political party, the Congress is obliged to tell the voters how many of its promises it has kept. A government in a democratic context is anchored in public trust and acceptability; the citizens and voters expect to be told honestly and sincerely to what extent a party in power was able to fulfil the terms of its mandate.
The Congress, on its part, can take very legitimate credit for having refurbished the country’s secular ethos and edifice. The primary reason the sangh parivar has launched such a vicious attack on the party leadership is the UPA government’s success on the secular front. It is not only the minorities but also the vast majority in the law-abiding majority community who have reason to be thankful for the Manmohan Singh government’s becalming stewardship. Today, India is much more at peace with itself than it ever was in recent memory.
And, if the Congress leaders are inclined to think out of the box, they can toy with the strategic choice of declaring an intent to dissolve the UPA before the 2014 battle and putting in its place a Secular Front. It makes no sense for the Congress to remain overly burdened with too many unattractive allies. A Congress-led Secular Front will provide incentive for some sections of the left and other progressive voices to come together to beat back the challenge of right-wing authoritarian forces, masquerading as untainted “performers.”

Recover the voice

Meanwhile, Sujrajkund should help the party recover its voice. For too long, the party has allowed the noisy vendors of public morality in the media and civil society to set the discourse. In such a scenario, the advantage inevitably lies with the bogus preacher, hawking apocalyptic moralism. Imagine the Congress silence when a recently retired general, after having presided over the most coercive arm of the Indian state, joins the Anna Mob at Jantar Mantar and recites Ramdhari Singh Dinkar, the great poet of defiance! No one from the Congress had the courage to point out this democratic absurdity.
Admittedly, a marked personal pre-disposition for decency at the very top of the UPA establishment has discouraged the Congress from joining the political and policy arguments. The unhappy result is that many institutions, especially sections of the judiciary and the CAG, have periodically asserted a maximalist interpretation for their mandates. At Surajkund, the Congress leaders should recognise that their reticence and reluctance have combined to produce an unhealthy and undemocratic imbalance in our constitutional equilibrium.
Moreover, the Congress has so far been reluctant to debate governance issues internally. For too long, bureaucratic solutions have been sought for essentially political problems. Take, for example, the proposed National Investment Board. Apart from the administrative absurdity of having the Prime Minister preside over clearances for projects, the sticking point is one of political and ideological coherence. Is it not possible for Jayanthi Natarajan, Jairam Ramesh, Kishore Deo, P. Chidambaram, Kamal Nath, and Anand Sharma — ALL belonging to the Congress — to politically agree on terms of harmony and balance? Both the Prime Minister and the Congress have been unwilling to impose some kind of a balanced solution.

Prioritise party

But, if after eight years of exercising power at the Centre, the Congress Ministers do not have clarity on how to produce a harmonious and honourable trade-off between growth, equity and environment, they have no business seeking another five-year term. Similarly, why is it not possible to find the words and the courage to tell the nation that Jaipal Reddy, an honourable man, an honest man, had to be moved because he refused to accept the Prime Minister’s policy priorities? Or, why is a wilfully indecisive Defence Minister being allowed to slow down national defence preparedness? Maybe at the beginning of the UPA innings these differences, some contrived, some genuine, could have been a source of governmental wholesomeness; now, when the Congress is moving into slog overs, these serve no political or administrative purpose. What is more, none of these honourable ministers has felt strong enough to summon the courage of a believer to resign and walk. The Surajkund exercise will have justified itself if all participants can resolve to prioritise the party above their personal image and the interests of their bureaucratic and corporate cronies.
And, indeed, the most significant strategic dilemma before the Congress remains: how to project the potential of a Rahul Gandhi leadership without debunking the Manmohan Singh achievements and record? This is a delicate and inherently difficult task but the Congress leaders will do well to remember that capturing power for the party and its leadership cannot be an end in itself. Building on the UPA record of achievements and accomplishments these eight years, the Congress owes to itself to clarify its own sense of political purpose and, in the process, renew a shared sense of national destiny.
(Harish Khare is a veteran commentator and political analyst.)

Friday, August 17, 2012

"We Are Not A Colony"Ecuador President Rafael


Cross-posted from Paul Craig Roberts
A coward dies many deaths; a brave man dies but once.
The once proud British government, now reduced to Washington's servile whore, put on its Gestapo Jackboots and declared that if the Ecuadorean Embassy in London did not hand over WikiLeaks' Julian Assange, British storm troopers would invade the embassy with military force and drag Assange out. Ecuador stood its ground. "We want to be very clear, we are not a British colony," declared Ecuador's Foreign Minister. Far from being intimidated the President of Ecuador, Rafael Correa, replied to the threat by granting Assange political asylum.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

International Scandal for Higher Education

A spectre of corruption is haunting the global campaign toward higher education internationalisation. An overseas degree is increasingly valuable, so it is not surprising that commercial ventures have found opportunities on the internationalisation landscape. New private actors have entered the sector, with the sole goal of making money. Some of them are less than honourable. Some universities look at internationalisation as a contribution to the financial “bottom line,” in an era of financial cutbacks. The rapidly expanding private higher education sector globally is largely for-profit. In a few cases, such as Australia and increasingly the United Kingdom, national policies concerning higher education internationalisation tilt toward earning income for the system.


Sunday, August 5, 2012

Turkish Army General Arrest in Aleppo-Syria

The Syrian Army announced that it has recently apprehended a Turkish general who commanded the terrorists trying to seize control of Aleppo.

According to an informed source in Syria, the Turkish general was arrested during the Syrian Army’s clashes with the terrorists in Aleppo.
News reports said that the Turkish general has been taken to Damascus for further interrogations.
Earlier, Turkish media also reported that Syria has detained 40 Turkish military officers in different parts of the country, and said that efforts to release them have failed.

Team Anna discuss to form Swaraj Party

Team Anna members met here on Sunday for the first time after they ended their indefinite fast and discussed strategy for evolving a political alternative in line with their plans to take a plunge in electoral politics.
Anna Hazare and his close aides deliberated on a variety of issues, including the name of the organisation, and other formalities like the Constitution of the party, sources said.
Besides Mr. Hazare, those who attended the meeting included Arvind Kejriwal, Manish Sisodia, Kiran Bedi, Prashant Bhushan, Shanti Bhushan, Kumar Vishwas and Sanjay Singh.
Psephologist Yogendra Yadav, who was a regular face at the Jantar Mantar during the protest arguing that the movement should take a political turn, was the new participant in the discussions. There was no official word on the meeting.

Colombian trade unions and Free Trade Agreement

Washington - Two months after a free-trade agreement between the United States and Colombia went into effect, workers and activists are warning that US-stipulated labour reforms have not been fully implemented and have yet to result in promised improvements in the lives of workers.
"We ask President (Barack) Obama to push for more guarantees for Colombian workers," Miguel Conde, with Sintrainagro, a union representing workers on palm-oil plantations, said here on Tuesday. "In Colombia, it is easier to form an armed group than a trade union… because we still have no guarantees from the government."

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Thabo Mbeki said that Sudan and South Sudan agree on oil deal

Sudan and South Sudan have reached an agreement on how to share the oil riches controlled by Khartoum before the country's partition, African Union mediator Thabo Mbeki has said.
"The parties have agreed on all of the financial arrangements regarding oil, so that's done," Mbeki told reporters on Saturday, without offering details.
Mbeki said the production and export of oil would resume, but did not confirm when.
"The oil will be flowing," he said, leaving an AU Peace and Security Council meeting in the Ethiopian capital.

Is US military have a culture of rape

Two US air force trainers have been sentenced in connection with a widening sexual abuse scandal at one of the busiest military training centers in the nation.
Investigators say at least 38 female trainees were victimised at the Lackland Air Force Base in the US state of Texas. Fifteen instructors have been implicated.
"The boys club mentality is not as overt as it was 30 years ago .... This only becomes a crisis when it gets out in public .... The whole process of victims feeling like they are victimised again by the system discourages reporting and keeps a lot of this under wrap."
- Morris Davis, a retired US air force colonel who led the investigation into the sexual abuse scandal at the US Air Force Academy in 2003
Last year, nearly 3,200 rapes and sexual assaults were officially reported, but the Pentagon admits that represents just 15 per cent of all incidents.

Ultimatly Saina wins bronze

Saina Nehwal on Saturday created history by becoming the first Indian to win an Olympic Games bronze medal in badminton, though under fortuitous circumstances, as her world number two Chinese opponent retired from the play-off because of a knee injury.
The 22-year-old Saina was trailing 18-21, 0-1 in the high-voltage bronze medal play-off match when her second seeded opponent Xin Wang retired hurt, giving India an unexpected medal without having to sweat much.

Friday, August 3, 2012

After Cuba’s Leuris Pupo equalling world record-Vijay Kumar shoot silver

Army sharp shooter Vijay Kumar on Friday fought a nerve-wracking battle with five other top marksmen to clinch the silver medal in the men’s 25m Rapid Fire Pistol event at the Olympic Games.
Kumar beat back the challenge of world champion Alexei Klimov of Russia, Chinese duo of Ding Feng and Zhang Jian and German Christian Reitz in the 40-shot final to finish runner-up in a thrilling finale behind Cuba’s Leuris Pupo who shot his way to the gold with a world record equalling score of 34.

China slams Clinton remarks on Africa trip

China's official news agency hit back on Friday at suggestions by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that Beijing is only interested in Africa for its natural resources, adding a further layer of tension to already testy Sino-U.S. ties.
Speaking in Senegal earlier this week, Clinton did not name China, but said Washington wanted a "partnership that adds value, rather than extracts it", adding the days of outsiders taking Africa's wealth for themselves should be over.
Xinhua news agency hit back at Clinton's comments, saying her Africa trip was a "plot to sow discord between China (and) Africa".