Saturday, December 12, 2009

The speech they did not want the World to hear

The BJP MPs tried their best to drown out the speech given by Union Home Minsiter P.Chidambaram on December 8 in Indian Parliament [Lok Sabha] in reply to the debate on Liberhan Commission report on demolition of Babri Masjid.They continuosly shouted loud slogans,  instead of usual practise of walking out in protest.

Here are  some excerpts from  the speech which was described by 'The Hindu' as
"a cool lawyerly marshalling of facts punctuated by sharp punches but also by honest self-criticism that is rare in Indian political discourse."

Mr. Chairperson, Sir, the Liberhan Commission of Inquiry was constituted in December, 1992… (Interruptions). The Commission was appointed to go into the circumstances leading to the destruction of Ram Janambhoomi-Babri Masjid structure… (Interruptions). The Commission has taken 17 years to give its report… (Interruptions) 1738 hours (Madam Speaker in the Chair) I am not here to defend why the Commission was allowed to take 17 years… (Interruptions). The then Congress Government … (Interruptions). The NDA Government assumed office thereafter… (Interruptions). The NDA Government was there for six years and it also gave extensions.… (Interruptions) The UPA Government gave the remaining extensions for about nine years and three months... (Interruptions). In a sense everyone is responsible for the extensions given to Justice Liberhan Commission.

When I took over, the Commission was given extension up to 31st March, 2009… (Interruptions). I gave extension to the Commission for two months and I insisted that the Report should be given to the Government of India within two months… (Interruptions). The Commission gave its report on 20th of June, 2009… (Interruptions). The Government of the day had told the Commission that the report is long overdue and it should have been given much earlier… (Interruptions) Be that as it may, we now have a report. The report gives in great detail the sequence of events… (Interruptions)

The Report gives the minutest details of what happened on each day leading to 6th December, 1992… (Interruptions) talked about the horrendous events that took place on the 6th of December, 1992. This Report … (Interruptions) those who are found to be responsible for the destruction … (Interruptions) the source of … (Interruptions) But unfortunately it is not so.
This is one of the rare occasions when I rise to reply to a debate with sadness in my heart… (Interruptions) The way this debate has unwinded itself is a … (Interruptions) on the Parliament of India. Someone must take the responsibility … (Interruptions) The only issue before the House is not whether there was a temple there; not whether there was a mosque there; not whether a mosque was built over a temple; not whether a Hindu community owned a piece of land there; not whether a Muslim community owned a piece of land there; not whether any injustice has been done to any one community. The only issue before the House is, who has demolished the mosque? … 
 Pending cases in the courts, the demolition as … (Interruptions) is the Sangh Parivar, the RSS an organization which is held responsible for the black day in the history of India… (Interruptions) The Commission is aware of this.
The Commission says, “I was called upon to enquire into the sequence of events and the circumstances relating to the occurrence in the Ramjanma Bhoomi Babri Masjid complex on the 6th of December, 1992 involving the destruction of the Ramjanmabhoomi Babri Masjid structure”… (Interruptions) The Commission says, as evident from the Terms of Reference given to me, I have not been called upon, and therefore do not wish to comment upon whether the structures as they existed in Ayodhya on the 6th of December 1992 constituted a Hindu temple or a Muslim mosque or any other type of structure… (Interruptions) I have been charged with the responsibility only to find out the sequence of events, facts and circumstances leading up to the demolition of the structures at Ayodhya and certain connected matters that took place. It is not within my purview to enquire into a dispute whether it was ever a temple or a mosque built over a temple.”

Sir, in the days leading to 6th December, 1992, the Government of India issued directives to two players… (Interruptions) One was the Government of Uttar Pradesh headed by Shri Kalyan Singh and the other constitutional authority was the Home Minister of Government of India under the late P V Narasimha Rao and … (Interruptions) these were the two constitutional authorities. How was one more responsible… (Interruptions) How did one communicate to the other?… (Interruptions)

Shri S.B. Chavan wrote three letters to Shri Kalyan Singh. The first letter was on 3rd December, 1992 in which he said:
“Forces are being stationed at suitable locations in Uttar Pradesh so as to be available at a short notice if and when required by the State Government.” No one can accuse the Congress Government of that day that adequate forces were not deployed.… (Interruptions)
On the same day, Shri S.B. Chavan wrote another letter to Shri Kalyan Singh on 3rd December, 1992 in which he said: “It is understood that by 4th /5th December, 1992, the number of Karsevaks at Ayodhya would have crossed one lakh. However, it appears that infrastructural arrangements made for the Kar Sewaks are becoming increasingly stretched and insufficient for the assembled Karsevaks.” … (Interruptions)

On 5th December, 1992, Shri S.B. Chavan wrote a letter in which he used a rather stern language. “In your last letter dated 2nd December, 1992, you once again reiterated the State Government‟s commitment to protect the structure.”

Shri Kalyan Singh, in his letter of 2nd December reiterated the State Government‟s commitment to protect the structure. … (Interruptions) Drawing his attention to his promise, the Home Minister said: “There are reports that the Karsevaks are in a restive and even in belligerent mood and that many of them are resorting to extensive purchases of Trishuls which can even be used for offensive purposes. The security arrangements made by the State Governmetn may not be adequate for the occasion especially if any violence breaks out. …(Interruptions) Further, it is reported that massive crowds are gathering freely and unchecked in that the Sankeertan area. … (Interruptions) It is necessary to upgrade security arrangements substantially to prevent the possibility of any attempt being made to damage the disputed structure..… (Interruptions) Shri S.B. Chavan said that the possibility of some mischievous elements using explosives to damage the RJBBM structure cannot be ruled out. … (Interruptions) As you are aware, contingents of the central paramilitary forces have already been stationed at various places in UP so as to make them available at short notice; if required by the State Government for the security of the disputed structure and maintenance of law and order in view of the call given for the Kar Seva.… (Interruptions) I understand that only about 23 companies including four companies of CRPF are currently deployed for the security arrangements in and around the RJBBM complex. It is felt that this strength may not be sufficient to meet the security arrangements especially if any untoward development takes place… (Interruptions)

 Madam, it is absolutely clear that the Chief Minister had made a solemn promise that it is the State Government‟s responsibility to protect the structure. 185 companies of paramilitary forces had been placed and they had been placed at crucial locations but they deployed only four companies in order to protect the RJBBM structure. … (Interruptions)

It was the first big untruth uttered by the then Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh. It was an unadulterated untruth. He had no intention to protect the Babri Masjid structure. … (Interruptions) He uttered untruth to the Government of India. He uttered untruth to the Supreme Court. He uttered untruth to the National Integration Council. He uttered untruth on affidavit and that was the genesis of the destruction of the Babri Masjid complex.… (Interruptions) There was another occasion when he made a promise before the National Integration Council on 2nd November, 1991… (Interruptions)

I have got what he had said.

He said: All efforts will be made to find an amicable resolution of the issue; Pending a final solution, the Government of Uttar Pradesh will hold itself fully responsible for the protection of the Ram Janam Bhoomi-Babri Masjid structure; Order of the Court in regard to the land acquisition proceedings will be fully implemented; and the judgment of the Allahabad High Court in the cases pending before it will not be violated. … (Interruptions)

Then, a promise was made to the National Integration Council, a Council in which all the leaders of all the political parties were present; civil society is represented; and leaders of the political parties in Parliament were present. … (Interruptions) He made a solemn promise which was endorsed by the BJP and all other parties that were present. … (Interruptions)

This promise was made in the Supreme Court of India. … (Interruptions) I have got a copy of the order passed by the Supreme Court on 15th November, 1991. … (Interruptions) An affidavit was filed and the Supreme Court then passed an order. I think this order makes a very interesting reading. … (Interruptions) Anyone who is interested in the history of this country of that period would read this order. … (Interruptions)

This order says: “We have heard Mr. Jaitley”. I hope you know who Mr. Jaitley is. Mr. Jaitley was not only a Counsel. Mr. Jaitley is today the Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha. The order says: “We have heard Mr. Jaitley, the learned counsel of the respondent State. … (Interruptions) On the instructions of an officer present in the court, it has been gathered and told to us … (Interruptions) It is not denied that there are some old constructions in-between the main construction and the outer wall … (Interruptions) It can certainly be done as permitted by the High Court, but full care and attention should be devoted to ensure that the constructions, including the outer wall, which are old in character … (Interruptions) part of the disputed structure may not be … (Interruptions) This must be the total responsibility of the State of Uttar Pradesh to ensure compliance. … (Interruptions)

There was a meeting of the National Integration Council and the Chief Minister of the State … (Interruptions) He made certain statements to the Council. These were extracted from the paragraph of the affidavit … (Interruptions)
Then the Supreme Court says: … (Interruptions) Mr. Jaitley has no objection … (Interruptions) What has been stated in this paragraph. … after taking into account the stand of State of Uttar Pradesh ….. It may, therefore, be taken as a representation to the court on which ….

Madam, a promise was made to the National Integration Council; a promise was made to the Supreme Court; and a promise was made to the Government of India. But every single promise was broken by the leader of the BJP, the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, and the black day occurred in the history of India. … (Interruptions)

Now, why does the Commission have to go into who the Sangh Parivar is? We know who the Sangh Parivar is. … (Interruptions) It was led to believe that the RSS is a non-political organization; that the BJP is an independent organization; that the VHP is purely a religious organization; and that the Bajrang Dal is an organization of young people.… (Interruptions)  These are the canards which are spread everyday. Everyday people spread the canards. The Commission went into the matter and asked, `who are these people, how did they get-together, how did they work together? So, this is the conclusion. I am quoting from paragraph 120.9 “There cannot be any dispute that the RSS is the major single largest important constituent of the Sangh Parivar. It is also accepted that the Bajrang Dal is the youth wing of VHP and Dharam Sansad and the Kendriya Marg Darshak Mandal sponsored by VHP though were portrayed as independent bodies. Similarly, Paramhans Ramchander Dass and Mulayam Singh Yadav accepted that all the members of the Sangh Parivar contested elections on the BJP tickets and become legislators of BJP party.”

… (Interruptions) I know the conclusion. … (Interruptions) It is obvious that promises held out by the BJP were completely false and made with the sole intention of misleading the Central Government and the entire country. …

(Interruptions) Let the House know that the promises held out by the BJP were completely false and made with the sole intention of misleading the Central Government and the entire country. … (Interruptions) The promises were made to secure the inaction of the Central Government and to induce it into a state of over optimistic slumber. The only other explanation possible is that the BJP itself was ineffective and inconsequential part of the larger picture. … (Interruptions) It neither has the means nor the authority nor even the influence within the Sangh Parivar to alter the course ordained. … (Interruptions) If accepted, this would further strengthen the impression that the BJP was a frontal organization and the convenient false face projected to address the more moderate sections within society and the Government. … (Interruptions) This is about your Party. … (Interruptions) I have not completed my speech yet. … (Interruptions) Some more things are coming. … (Interruptions) Madam, what is the situation? What position lies with the Supreme Court, lies with the Central Government than to create a situation in which, unfortunately, the Government of the day made a strong political judgment? Looking back I could say that it is a non-political judgment. Late Shri P. V. Narasimha Rao paid price for making that judgment and the Congress Party paid a price for that political judgment. But the fact is that non-political judgment induced by ……and false promises were made by the BJP. … (Interruptions) Now, what were the organizations that were there were doing? … (Interruptions)
 I quote from paragraph 41.68: “Intelligence agencies reported that the Bajrang Dal and Shiv Sena were vying with each other for the “fame” of blowing up the disputed structure and this fact was within the knowledge of the VHP. The Shiv Sainiks and VHP cadres were practicing archery under the tutelage of Krishna Kumar Pandey. The Shiv Sena cadres swore on oath at Saryu River to demolish the disputed structure in the presence of local leaders and Vinay Katiyar etc.”
  : Is it not a fact that the Bajrang Dal cadres, the VHP cadres were practising archery, doing rehearsals to demolish the disputed structure in the presence of the local leaders?… (Interruptions) Intelligence agencies reported that the Bajrang Dal and Shiv Sena were vying with each other for the “fame” of blowing up the disputed structure and this fact was within the knowledge of the VHP. … (Interruptions) The Shiv Sainiks and the VHP cadres were practicing archery under the tutelage of Krishna Kumar Pandey.… (Interruptions) The Shiv Sena cadres swore an oath at Saryu river to demolish the disputed structure in the presence of local leaders and Vijay Katiyar, etc..… (Interruptions) Can you deny that they were practising archery?… (Interruptions) Can you deny the VHP cadres were practicing archery under the tutelage of Krishna Kumar Pandey?… (Interruptions) The Governor of Uttar Pradesh sent his assessment about the prevailing situation in Ayodhya.… (Interruptions) He sent the report saying that the prevailing situation was pregnant with threat to the disputed structure. However, the Governor is right that he advised against the imposition of President‟s Rule. … Slogans were raised against the Muslim population. (Interruptions) A small selection of the slogans which became extremely popular and were regularly heard during the campaign at Ayodhya during Karseva, especially in December were these. … (Interruptions) Slogans were raised against the Muslim population. … (Interruptions) Please listen to the slogans. What were the slogans used? These were the slogans used… (Interruptions) I want to quote the slogans. These slogans were raised. … (I nterruptions) These were the slogans raised which slogans you are raising now. … (Interruptions)
Are you a responsible political party? Will these slogans do justice to the Founding Fathers of India? Do these slogans raise India‟s esteem?… (Interruptions) The Chief Minister Shri Kalyan Singh, once again and in writing ordered against use of any firearms specifically on the 6th of December, 1992.… (Interruptions) This is the conclusion in the Report. The Liberhan Commission concludes thus: “The Commission is of the considered opinion that the security apparatus was non-existent in Ayodhya on the 6th of December, 1992. The police and other personnel deployed had been bound down into an ineffective role and had specific instructions against any substantive action. They were to ensure that the Government achieved its electoral manifesto. The State administration was there to appease the political executive by helping it in consolidating their hold on the general public.” This was what happened.… (Interruptions)

I would now come to the role of the BJP leaders. I have great respect for Shri Vajpayee.… (Interruptions) He was not there on that day.… (Interruptions) He was there on the previous day.… (Interruptions) He made a speech on the 5th December.… (Interruptions) I have got a copy of that speech.… (Interruptions) I have an English translation of it.… (Interruptions) As usual, he delivered the speech and after that, he left Ayodhya.… (Interruptions) That was what happened on the 6th of December? Shri L.K. Advani and Dr. Murli Manohar Joshi reached Ayodhya at midnight on the 5th Decmber, 1992, escorted by Anju Gupta and stayed at Janki Mahal Trust.… (Interruptions)The Commissioner, the DIG Faizabad, the District Magistrate and the SSP, Faizabad, all the four top officers called upon them and were assured by Shri L.K. Advani and Dr. Murli Manohar Joshi that a peaceful Karseva would be carried out.… (Interruptions) Then, Shri L.K. Advani and Dr. Murli Manohar Joshi assured that they would ensure that things happened peacefully – a promise made by Shri L.K. Advani and Dr. Murli Manohar Josh..  Shri L.K. Advani and others met at the residence of Shri Vinay Katiyar before proceeding to the disputed structure. Sarvashri Vinay Katiyar, L.K. Advani, M.M. Joshi. Ashok Singhal, Acharya Giriraj Kishore, Uma Bharti, Sadhvi Ritambara and others were also present there and there is nothing on record to indicate whether it was a formal meeting or otherwise. I will ask Shri Advani and Shri Murli Manohar Joshi to tell us what happened in that breakfast meeting on the 6th December, 1992. What did you talk? What did you discuss? Tell us. Why are you not telling the House? What did you discuss on the morning of 6th December, 1992 when you met in the house of Shri Vinay Katiyar? (Interruptions) You had breakfast there and you went to that place. What did you discuss there and what did you decide? … (Interruptions)

The previous day, you promised the police officers, you promised the Additional Magistrate that you will ensure that everything goes off peacefully. … (Interruptions) Finally, what did you discuss there? Let the nation know it, you tell us. Paramhans Ramchander Dass admitted in his statement and have sworn that provocative slogans were raised on the 6th of December. I admire Paramhans Ramchander Dass. At least, even if his convictions are wrong, he had the courage of conviction to admit it. … (Interruptions) Even if his views are wrong, he had the courage to own up. Even if his slogans are dangerous, he had the courage to admit that he raised those slogans.  There is only one thing. They went there with the sole intention of destroying the Ram Janma Bhoomi-Babri Masjid structure. … (Interruptions) Madam, the Commission comes to the conclusion in paragraph 126.12 which says: “There is sufficient and believable evidence on the record including the statements of Ram Kirpal and Mark Tully etc. that provocative speeches were delivered by Uma Bharti, Sadhvi Ritambra, Paramhans Ramchander Dass, Acharya Dharmendra Dev, B.L. Sharma, Ashok Singhal and Vinay Katiyar, Vamdev, Swami Chinmayanand, Mahant Avaidyanath etc.” There is enormous evidence on record. If you do not want to read the evidence, God only can save you. … (Interruptions) But there is enormous evidence on record that provocative statements were made there. Recording of those speeches were freely made available and used to be played in most of the shops. Karsevaks were drawing pleasure in making the journalists say, “Jai Shri Ram”. Militancy was writ large among the Karsevaks. Paramhans Ramchander Dass admitted having announced on the public address system, “demolish the structure, you will not get such an opportunity”. This is the finding. Can you deny this? … (Interruptions) Ms. Anju Gupta was the Personal Security Officer to Shri Lal Krishna Advani. … (Interruptions) Ms. Anju Gupta, a lady officer, was appointed as the Personal Security Officer to Shri Advani in Ayodhya. … (Interruptions)

Anju Gupta stated that entry of the Police Control Room was quite open, there was crowd pressure from both sides of the barricade… (Interruptions) The crowd present on the pandal at the construction site near Shesh Avtar Mandir needed to be regulated… (Interruptions) There was no physical barricading
between Ram Dewar… (Interruptions) and outside of it, which provided… (Interruptions) easy scaling of the walls en masse, and entry to the premises. There was no streamlining of the crowd towards the Chabutra and from there to the exit on the western side gate, which made the entire ground open and available, for thousands of peoples to come in suddenly and occupy… (Interruptions) There were no security personnel on the roof of the domes of the structure preventing the Kar Sewaks from demolishing it. There was no crowd examination challenging the facts stated by Anju Gupta, the Security Officer of Shri L.K. Advani, on the fateful day. There is no reason to disbelieve her on these facts since she had unrestricted access… (Interruptions) as the Security Officer attached to Shri L.K. Advani… (Interruptions) to all the happenings and overall scenario in the Ram Janam Bhoomi- Babri Masjid Complex. N.C. Padhi stated that the police allowed the public meeting in the vicinity of the vulnerable object, with their hands tied and… (Interruptions) in view of the order not to fire on the Kar Sewaks by the order of the Chief Minister… (Interruptions) Sushma Ji wanted evidence. This is evidence. Anju Gupta is evidence… (Interruptions) N.C. Padhi is evidence… (Interruptions) Ram Chandra Paramhans is evidence. This evidence is… (Interruptions) What was happening that day? This is the most important part, Madam. At about noon, 12 o‟clock, a teenage Kar Sewak vaulted onto the dome and thereby signaled the breaking of the outer cordon. Other Kar Sewaks wielding pickaxes, hammers, iron-rods and shovels started scaling the Ram Dewar and over the barriers of the outer, inner and isolation cordons, from the east, west and south directions.

Madam, I ask where do the pick-axes come from? Where do the hammers come from? Where do the iron-rods come from? Where do the shovels come from? In a tremendous team-work they carried them… (Interruptions) I will

show later, they helped them carried them. They paid them money to get this and carried to the place. They stormed the disputed structure. The police deployed at the spot… (Interruptions) Please listen to this. The police deployed at the spot gave their canes and shields to the Kar Sewaks who brandished them openly. The police lathis and the police shields were given to the Kar Sewaks and the Kar Sewaks started marching towards… (Interruptions) This is very important. The Kar Sewaks‟ assault on the disputed structure started at 12.15 p.m. They first entered the Garba Griha, carefully took away the idols and cash box, etc. to a safe place. The idols and the cash box were taken to a safe place. Then they started breaking the dome and started breaking the upper plaster of the dome with hammers. In fact the demolition was accomplished by smashing holes inside the walls. Ropes were inserted through these holes in the walls under the domes, the walls were pulled down with these ropes bringing down the domes as well… (Interruptions) It is very important. The structure was not brought down by the Kar Sewaks on the domes, the structure was brought down by digging a hole in the dome, putting the ropes to the hole and pulling the dome down with the ropes… (Interruptions) It was shameful, pre-planned, conspiratorial, wanton, cold-blooded destruction of the property which they promised they would protect… (Interruptions) L.K. Advani, M.M. Joshi, Ashok Singhal, Vijayaraje Scindia, H.V. Sheshadri who were present at the Ram Katha Kunj made feeble requests to the Kar Sewaks to come down from the disputed structure either in an earnest or for the media‟s benefit. … (Interruptions) One could have reasonably perceived that the demolition of the disputed structure was not possible from the top of the domes.

No request was made to Karsevaks, not to enter the Garb Grah or not to demolish from inside under the domes. No request was made. The selected act of the leaders itself speaks about the hidden intention of one and all being to accomplish the demolition of the disputed structure. What does the Commission conclude? This charade by these leaders at the instance of L.K. Advani is in stark contradiction to their own prior conduct and their public posture, incitement and exhortations to the crowd to build a temple in place of the disputed structure. The demolition of the structure was unavoidable for the construction of a temple. They had to demolish the structure to construct the temple. Therefore, they demolished the structure. The idols and cash box removed to safe places were brought back to their original place at 7 p.m. The construction of a temporary makeshift temple commenced at 7.30 p.m..
. Even though the Chief Minister was informed about this, he gave a written order not to resort to firing under any circumstances and to take any other measure. The Magistrate ordered in writing for the forces to turn back at 2.25 p.m. The Magistrate told the forces to go back at 2.25 p.m. The police and the administration was a mute spectator. Their loyalty to the political masters was writ large. Listen to Shri Kalyan Singh‟s reaction: “It was like a badly inflated balloon that burst.” Babri Masjid structure, according to Shri Kalyan Singh, was a badly inflated balloon which burst. He further says: “All other political parties are to be blamed for frustration of Karsevaks. They should arrest me because after all I fulfilled one of the major objectives of our Party and have redeemed the Party‟s election manifesto.” This is what Shri Kalyan Singh said.

Where is Sushma ji? There is no doubt at all, from the evidence and testimony before the Commission that the Sangh Parivar, especially the Bajrang Dal, RSS, VHP, BJP and Shiv Sena cadres created circumstances consistently over a period of a decade which ultimately resulted in the events of December 6th, 1992. Sushma ji, there is an evidence. Where is she? I want her to read the evidence. It stood established before me beyond reasonable doubt that the Joint Common Enterprise was a pre-planned act for demolition under the immediate leadership of Vinay Katiyar, Paramhans Ramchander Dass, Ashok Singhal, Champat Rai, Swami Chinmayanand, S.C. Dixit, B.P. Singhal and Acharya Giriraj. They were the local leaders on the spot and the executors of the plan conceived by the RSS. The plan was conceived by the RSS. The other leaders cannot be absolved of their vicarious liability and were willing collaborators playing the roles assigned to them by the RSS. Their informed support for the Ayodhya campaign, fortified by their physical presence during the grand finale of the prolonged campaign is irrefutably established.

 I conclude that the BJP, VHP, Shiv Sena and their office bearers as named in this report, in connivance with Kalyan Singh, the then Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh entered into a Joint Common Enterprise for the purpose of demolition of the disputed structure and the construction of temple in its place … (Interruptions) Friends, what is your answer to this conclusion? Let us debate it. Come along. I will give you another opportunity to debate it. What is your answer to this conclusion? … (Interruptions)

It was openly asserted and commonly accepted that the pre-partition Jan Sangh was the political wing of RSS. The Jan Sangh, later, was renamed as the Bharatiya Janata Party. Though some of the leaders have tried to claim that the BJP and RSS are independent organizations, in another part of this Report, the Commission has dealt with the question and concluded that they are functionally, if not legally, intertwined and inseparable. RSS and BJP are intertwined and inseparable. The admission by Pandit Deen Dayal Upadhya, in no uncertain terms, in his books that he was deputed by the RSS to organize the Bharatiya Jan Sangh is a clear indicator of this relationship. Even on date, the RSS Office bearers, Swayam Sewaks are deputed by RSS to carry out the work of BJP; the top echelon of the BJP leadership is pre-dominantly from the RSS and they are guided by its thoughts and philosophy in governance. The RSS has considerable influence on the leadership not only of BJP but also on the other allied organizations participating in the temple construction movement or which have Hinduism as their objective. Using its sweeping influence over the organizers and the institutions participating, the RSS controlled every aspect of the Ayodhya movement. Despite the attempts made to distance the RSS or BJP from the movement by attributing the movement to the VHP or the dharam sansad, I have concluded that all the other members of the Sangh Pariwar are merely frontal organizations of RSS deputed to working in different fields. There was no illusion in the minds of a common man that RSS or the VHP were either different or distant from the BJP, or that their objectives were not identical. … (Interruptions)

 Madam, in conclusion, let me say the horrendous consequences of 6th December, 1992 resulted in riots and doom. From December 1992 to January, February, March 1993, in all 2,019 people were killed in a matter of three months and 7,786 people were injured in a matter of three months… (Interruptions) Hindus were killed. Muslims were killed. People belonging to other faiths were killed. Police men were killed. The violence that was unleashed by the horrendous crime of 6th December 1992 continues to divide our country even today.… (Interruptions)

I would have thought, after the Liberhan Commission‟s Report, after this debate, there will be shame, remorse and contriteness. Unfortunately, the civilized discourse in our country seems to have bid good bye to shame, remorse and contriteness. RSS and the Sangh Parivar have no shame, no remorse, no contriteness and continue to divide the country.… (Interruptions)

Madam, let me conclude by saying that there are two ideas in India. One is the idea of India represented by the Congress and all other secular parties. And the other is the idea of India represented by the divisive politics of the BJP. I am sorry to quote from an article I wrote many months ago.… (Interruptions) But I want to quote this.

Jawaharlal Nehru once said, “India is like an ancient palimpsest on which layer upon layer of thought and reverie had been inscribed and yet no succeeding layer had completely hidden or erased what had been written. ” There are two ideas of India. This is the first time the BJP, an Indian political party, openly adopted a divisive and an extreme agenda. The question then that everyone‟s mind was, “will it succeed”? Apparently, it succeeded. It succeeded in 1998.… (Interruptions) The first real test over the division of Bengal… (Interruptions) for ever from India came in 2004. In 2004, the Congress Party put across another idea of India where India must be an inclusive nation.
India must celebrate its diversity. All Indians must be encouraged to develop an Indian identity even when they are proud of their respective language or religion. This is an idea that India is a nation where no one valley, no one institution … (Interruptions) will dominate over others. The two ideas of India clashed in 2004. What did the people vote for? Forget the conclusion of Justice Liberhan. Forget the indictment of Justice Liberhan.

In 2004 when the two ideas of India – one led by the BJP in power with the Prime Minister, with the Deputy Prime Minister, with the entire State establishment put forward an idea of India of a divisive agenda; the other of the Congress Party and the secular parties put forward an idea of India, of an inclusive India. The people of India voted for our idea. The people of India rejected you. The judgement of the people of India is greater than the judgement of Justice Liberhan. Justice Liberhan‟s is a Commission. The people of India are our ultimate masters. They rejected you. They rejected you in 2004. When you went to them in 2009, they rejected you in 2009 also.

Madam, let me conclude by saying only one idea will clearly prevail, that is the idea of Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose and Dr. Ambedkar. India will be an inclusive nation. India will be a plural nation. In India no idea will dominate another idea. No institution will dominate another institution. We have brought together our idea of India. Our idea of India will prevail. Jai Hind.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Should we move beyond Bhopal?

Beware of Fatal Accidents

Lives of thousands of workers and citizens in danger because of poisonous gas. Spurt of accidents in the factory, safey measures deficient.

This was the text [translated from Hindi] of a poster put up by Workers Union of the Union Carbide Plant in Bhopal in October 1982, 2 years before the gruesome Bhopal Gas tragedy of Decemeber 1984.

Why such a warning was given by the workers?

A series of accidents were happening in Union Carbide factory in Bhopal.
In December 1981 a phosgene leak injured three workers; one of the workers died the next day. Two weeks later in January 1982, 24 workers were overcome by another phosgene leak. In February 1982 an MIC leak affected 18 people. In August 1982 a chemical engineer came into contact with liquid MIC resulting in burns over 30% of his body. And in October 1982 a combined MIC, hydrochloric acid and chloroform leak injured three workers in the plant and affected a number of residents of the surrounding neighborhoods.

Since 1976 the two unions representing Bhopal workers had frequently complained to Union Carbide management and the Madhya Pradesh authorities, including the Factory Inspectorate, about safety and health hazards in the plant.

In an April 13, 1982, letter to the Minister of Labour of Madhya Pradesh, the Union wrote:

Our unit is going to celebrate the safety week from the 14th of April, 1982. But the workers would like to inform you that this function is merely a window-display... we would also like point out that our unit is manufacturing dangerous chemicals like phosgene , carbon monoxide, methyl iscocyanate, BHC, naphtha and temik.

How effective was the safety systems in Bhopal factory at the time of the disaster?
The Bhopal plant had four major safety systems designed to prevent or neutralize an uncontrolled MIC reaction:

(1) A 30 ton refrigeration unit to cool stored MIC, in order to prevent it from vaporizing or reacting;
The 30 ton refrigeration unit had been shut down since June 1984. There were no mechanical problems with the system; it was taken out of service to save money. The Freon refrigerant had been drained out for use elsewhere in the plant . The shutdown was in violation of established operating procedures

(2) A vent gas scrubber (VGS) to neutralize toxic gases with caustic soda in the event of a release;
The vent gas scrubber (VGS) was turned off in October, 1984, apparently because someone thought it was not necessary when MIC was only being stored and not produced. In addition, the caustic flow indicator was malfunctioning, so it would have been difficult to verify whether the unit was operating or not

(3) A flare tower to burn vented gases from the MIC storage tanks and other equipment; and
The flare had also been out of service since mid-October. A section of corroded pipe leading to it had been removed even though replacement pipe was not ready.the company had compromised the reliability of the flare tower even before it was disconnected. The tower was originally built with a backup set to fuel gas cylinders to ensure that the pilot light stayed on. However, the backup system was discontinued to save money.

(4) A water spray system to knock down escaping vapors.
The water spray system which was activated the night of the accident did not reach the level of the gas release, and was therefore useless. In 1982, Union Carbide Corporation, after inspecting the Bhopal facility, had recommended a new, larger water spray system, but it was never installed.

At the time of the accident  three of these systems were not operating. Only the water spray worked though ineffectively.

 Under staffed to cut Costs
At the time of the accident, the Bhopal plant, including the MIC facility, was operating with reduced manpower.  The plant had been losing money, and in 1983 and 1984 there were more personnel reductions in order to cut costs. Some worker were laid off and 150 permanent worker were pooled and assigned to jobs as needed. The employees were often assigned to jobs they were not qualified to do.
In the MIC facility the production crew had been cut from 12 (11 operators, 1 supervisor) to 6 (5 operators.1 supervisor), and the maintenance crew reduced from 6 to 2. According to the workers, the maintenance supervisor position on the second and third shifts had been cut on November 26, less than a week before accident. With reference to maintenance work and giving instructions for the job, the workers indicated that it would have been the responsibility of the maintenance supervisor to prepare the pipe which was being flushed with water the night of December 2, 1984, including to prevent the entry of water into the pipes leading to tank 610.Entry of water used for flushing of pipes into MIC storage tank 610 was the primary reason for the tragedy.

Why Bhopal disaster?

The Bhopal disaster was caused by a combination of factors, including the long term storage of MIC in the plant, the potentially undersized vent gas scrubber, the shutdown of the MIC refrigeration units, the use of the backup tank to store contaminated MIC, the company's failure to repair the flare tower, leaking valves, broken gauges, and cuts in manning levels, crew sizes, workers training, and skilled supervision. The accident might have been prevented if UCC had done more to follow up its 1982 safety inspection, or of UCIL or the government had heeded the complaints of unions representing Bhopal workers. The effects of the accident were exacerbated by the company's failure to provide adequate information to its subsidiary, authorities and community residents, the siting of the plant close to residential areas, and UCIL'S lack of disaster planning.

Many especially in the Corporate World and Government feel that it is time to move beyond Bhopal. But can we really move beyond the World's worst Industrial tragedy?

The chilling statistics of a continuing tragedy [from]

More than 8,000 people killed due to exposure to the lethal gasses in the immediate aftermath of the disaster

 More than 500,000 people exposed to the poison gasses left to suffer a lifetime of ill health and mental trauma
The death toll has since risen to more than 20,000 people
 Nearly 30 people continue to die from exposure-related illnesses every month
At least 1,50,000 people, including children born to gas-exposed parents, suffer debilitating exposure-related health effects

Tons of poisonous pesticides and other hazardous wastes lying scattered and abandoned in the DOW-Carbide factory premises, insidiously poisoning the ground water and contaminating the land

A meagre life time compensation of 25000 Rs awarded to survivors and many still to get it 25 years after the tragedy.

 The specific items which caused the tragedy and the specific way they came together on the night of December 2, 1984, were unique. But the underlying causes are not unique:

Corporate greed,undercutting on safety to cut losses or increase profit,lack of Government monitoring of safety requirements, lack of  disaster management plans etc etc are not unique to Bhopal. It is there everywhere in present day India.

India has not learnt much from Bhopal. Our environmental and occupational safety regulations are still very lax. Corporates rule our Parliament,media and Governments.  Our Legal system is far behind in punishing Corporate crimes and ensuring accountability.We lag very much in our ability to cope with such grave emergencies.We are still very pathetic in rehabilitating the victims of such disaster

Unless better  regulations are written and strictly monitored by management  as well as by local. regional, and national Governments, the next Industrial disaster or a similar crime due to Corporate greed is just around the corner.

Industrial Development should promote human survival,not death.

Sources and links
the guardian

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

A very 'Positive' news from Pakistan

Cricket is the national sport in Pakistan as it is in India, but what makes the First Positive Cricket Team stand out from all the other Karachi-based clubs is that its members are all HIV positive.

The team was put together a year ago by the Pakistan Society, an NGO working for the rights of people living with HIV. They played -- and won -- their first match in August, and haven't looked back.

Dr. Saleem Azam, president of the Pakistan Society, told CNN, "Every time they play the players have a boost physically, emotionally and psychologically, and they feel a lot better."

Azam says that there is a considerable stigma in Pakistan surrounding HIV/AIDS and he hopes the team can help combat discrimination towards HIV sufferers.

"People assume the team must be very sick-looking, like walking skeletons, but when they see them playing and winning matches they have to think again," said Azam.

"We've given them a very strong message that having HIV does not mean you must retire from life and become helpless. You can have HIV and live a very happy life if you take your antiretroviral treatment regularly.

When the team won handsomely, leaving their opponents and the fans amazed that HIV-positive players could be so active - one of the team members was asked whether antiretroviral medication was also a form of performance-enhancing drugs.

"The stigma is the worst consequence of this illness, so it will be the greatest service to people with HIV if we are able to help them overcome this stigma. The change is coming, but it's very, very slow."

While changing attitudes takes time, Azam says the team has already built bridges between the players and their estranged families. He told CNN that some players who had been ostracized by their families were now back in contact with them, with one family requesting to travel to matches with the team.

First Positive has already played a match in Hyderabad, about 200 km (125 miles) from Karachi, and next month they will take to the road for two more matches, which will see them spread their message elsewhere in the country.

"This is how the team will be known the country over," said Azam.

"People will come to know more and more about the team, and I hope eventually they will be successful in combating this stigma and discrimination."

Abdul Lateef is captain of the FPCT. He contracted HIV six years ago and told CNN that the team is helping to change others' attitudes towards people with HIV.

"We are reaching the minds of the people," he said.

"Everybody thinks there are things that HIV positive people cannot do. We have shown we can play and we have proved to everybody we can do anything they can do."

We are thankful that the authorities were so cooperative with us, and provided us with the space that was needed for the match without any discriminatory attitude. Rather, their attitude was positive and encouraging," said Azhar Hussain Magsi, a manager at the Pakistan Society.
"More matches are scheduled to take place all over Pakistan in the coming weeks ... We are also having talks with other NGOs in India, and look forward to having an international HIV-positive cricket match.

Having personally witnessed the wonders that anti retro viral therapy can produce in many patients, I cannot think a better way of illustrating the fact that HIV/AIDS is treatable and HIV positive patients are as human as we all are than the site of a 'Positive' cricket team winning a match against the 'negative' team on the cricket field.

.An India-Pakistan cricket match between HIV positive players!!!
 That will be a great event.

adapted from
Aids Portal

Monday, November 30, 2009

A true defender of the oppressed

The Tata Institute of Social Sciences [TISS], Mumbai recently witnessed a strange conference.

The delegates were mainly tribals coming all the way from Madhya Pradesh.

About 300 of them came to Mumbai to attend a discussion held in TISS on November 27. The topic was not how to defend against terrorists coming from across the border.

They were there to discuss 'Who will defend the defenders of tribal rights?'
The meeting was convened by Ms Shamim Modi, an Assistant Professor of TISS.

Why such a conference of tribals and academicians in TISS about defending tribal rights? Let me give you some background.

The S A S Movement

Ms Shamim Modi was working in the tribal hinterland of Madhya Pradesh for the last 13 years with her husband Anurag Modi.The Shramik Adivasi Sangathan [SAS] in which they worked was trying to enable the tribal people to fight for their land rights and to protest against their exploitation by Forest Department officials and local landlords.

Last year SAS helped sawmill workers and porters of Harda unionise against exploitation. The tribals who formed the majority of work force were a source for cheap labour. The SAS made it possible for sawmill workers to organise and protest against the denial of basic rights such as minimum wages and mishap costs.

Staus quo of exploitation threatened

The Modi couple, who were also among the leaders of the Narmada Bachao Andolan, faced stiff opposition from forest contractors and industrialists and also the district administration and the Forest Department. Shamim contested the elections (twice to the Assembly and once to the Lok Sabha) on the Samajwadi Jan Parishad ticket from Harda. That made her an enemy of many local elite and Political bigwigs.

One such political heavy weight was Kamal Patel, the local legislator belonging to the Bharatiya Janata Party. Kamal Patel, a powerful Jat leader was four-time MLA from Harda and was also once the Revenue Minister in the State. He is known to secure the interests of Jats and Gujjars, who form the bulk of the landlords.

Matters worsened between Kamal Patel and the SAS during the Assembly elections in 2008 when Natwar Patel, a close aide of his and president of the sawmill owners’ association, was detained by an order of the Election Commission for threatening Shamim and preventing her supporters in the sawmills from campaigning for her. A few months later, when the mill workers, under the SAS, called a strike for their basic rights, the mill owners’ association told the District Collector that the mills would be closed down unless Shamim was arrested in 48 hours. The very next day Shamim was arrested and was detained for more than a month on charges as old as two years – instigating the tribal people and organising a dharna at the collectorate. She was shifted to the Hoshangabad jail, in the neighbouring district, and was allegedly tortured mentally and physically.

Physical attacks

The SAS movement jolted the local political mafia led by Kamal Patel as it not only was a threat to the exploitative status quo but also encouraged the tribal people not to exchange votes for cash. Shamim received several death threats. A few attempts were also made to physically harm her.

In a tactical move Ms Shamim decided to shift to Mumbai and joined the TISS as a faculty. But the most horrific attack on her life was on the afternoon of July 23 at her Vasai residence in Mumbai.

The watchman of her apartment barged into her house in an alleged attempt to kill her. Her throat was slit, her hands were broken and her head was smashed. Shamim had to have 118 stitches all over her body.

The Mumbai Police refused to register a case of attempted murder and allowed the assailant to flee out of the Country. Only when the High Court was approached that the case was handed over to CB CID and was asked to complete the probe in 3 months.

It was against this background that this discussion was organised by Ms Shamim Modi.

In the conference Modi said

“I had filed a PIL against the nexus of the BJP’s mining mafia and the forest department, The court ordered an inquiry, which proved that illegal excavation was going on in many areas. I made enemies in the BJP’s mining mafia who tried to harm me.”....

We are strictly Gandhian in our approach and do not believe in violence at all. If the government is genuine about its desire to curb naxalism, the only way is to reward the people who have remained non-violent in their fight against the oppression that tribals are subjected to. It can then exert moral pressure on the naxals to give up arms. Instead, it is the State machinery that is trying to crush such peaceful movements.

That is why we want to raise the question: Who will defend the defenders of tribal rights?”

A Committee for Justice to Shamim Modi has been formed which includes faculty and students of the TISS, the Samajwadi Jan Parishad, the Narmada Bachao Andolan, the Committee for the Release of Binayak Sen, Justice Rajendra Sachchar, Kuldip Naiyar and others.

It is always risky to raise voice for the oppressed, to fight against injustice:

But such risks have to be taken if we want to see India shining for all its citizens.

Adapted from;
Stifling a revolt
Tribals pour in to support TISS professor
Murderous assault on TISS professor: HC transfers probe to CID

Thursday, November 26, 2009

A year after 26/11 Mumbai terror strike

A year has passed after the cowardly attack by terrorists on  innocent civilians of Mumbai last November.

What is the situation now? Did the terrorists attain their aims? Have the terrorists strengthened or weakened as a result of the Mumbai attack? Are we capable of preventing such terrorist strike in future? Let me try to find some answers.

Did the terrorists attain their aims?

What were their aims?

1.To attain maximum publicity for themselves and their cause.

They got good publicity for themselves but I feel most people are unsure about their cause.

2. To increase the Hindu-Muslim divide in India, there by destabilising it.

They failed in that aim. The terror strike actually reduced the Hindu-Muslim divide in most part of the country. Those who died were of all religion, caste and class and this fact helped in rallying the country together against terrorism All most all Muslim organisations condemned the attacks in unison. Even most [not all] Political leaders behaved maturely, not attempting to fish in troubled waters. A.R.Antulay, the Congress
Minister was one of the regretful exceptions..

3.Induce a Hindu backlash in India which will help them to get more supporters in Kashmir and in Pakistan.

Here again they failed. The secular fabric of India remained more or less intact. The fact that BJP failed to win elections to the Parliament and Maharashtra Assembly is an indicator that the public at large is fed up with hate politics. The good participation of electorate in Kashmir elections is also a pointer in this direction.

The gruesome attack discredited the terrorists through out the World. The Pakistani public also was shocked at the incident. After the attack the support framework for the Islamist terrorists in Pakistan actually weakened.

4. Induce a military response from India against Pakistan, which will help in uniting whole of Pakistan and most Muslim countries against India.

Even though warmongers with vested interests tried their best, the Indian Government behaved maturely. Using diplomatic channels and with help of USA and other countries India was able to make Pakistan start a process of prosecution of the main accused. India might not have had everything the way it wanted, but a war would have meant disaster for the sub-continent.

Have the terrorists strengthened or weakened as a result of the Mumbai attack?

I feel the terror outfits have weakened considerably after the Mumbai attacks. After few months of self-denial Pakistan was forced to admit the role of Pakistani jihadi outfits. Many were arrested and court cases have started. May be the turning point was the attack on Sri Lankan Cricketers in Lahore. The fact that these terrorists are more dangerous to Pakistan than any other country was revealed to the Pakistani public. The Pakistani army started a crack down on terrorists and Taliban. Now many are on the run or killed.

This does not mean the terrorists are completely defeated. They are sure to re-group and try to mount an attack again as they did in Dhaka recently. An India friendly and democratically elected Government in Bangladesh was able to thwart the attack.

Are we capable of preventing such terrorist strike in future?

We have a much stronger security apparatus now to defend our Country. Will that be sufficient to prevent such terrorist strikes? I do not know. A different style of attack may still find us napping. So eternal vigilance is a must.

Prevention of growth of homegrown Islamist terror outfits is also very important.
Measures like

a. Clamping down on all types of communal propaganda both by Sangh Parivar and Islamists

b. Speedy and just handling of all cases of atrocities against minorities

c. Speedy and just trials for all terrorists, whether of Saffron or Islamist variety.

are all important for this.
Government should be able to win the heart and minds all minorities of India including Kashmiris by a just and secular administration.

The present Government has to go a long way to achieve these aims.

As we bow our heads in memory of the dead of 26/11 Mumbai terror strike let us hope that such an attack will never happen again in India or for that matter anywhere else in the World. Let us work together for  attaining such an aim.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Should Pakistan and Afghanistan be part of Indian Union?

Do you feel good if Pakistan and Afghanistan became part of Indian Union?

I do not think any peace loving person will be excited about a union of Afghanistan and Pakistan with India. But there are people who carry such dreams of Akand Bharath even now. If he is just a dreamer we could ignore him.But he is one of the most politically powerful person of India who is now deciding who will be our Opposition Leader in Indian Parliament and may even decide our next Prime Minisiter. He is none other than the Rashtriya Swayam sevak Sangh Chief Mohan Bhagwat.

Read the following excerpts from an interview Mohan Bhagwat gave to Prabhu Chawla in Aaj Tak channel.

Q. If I understand correctly, you still believe in Akhand Bharat and not in the two-nation theory.
A. It is all part of India. Pakistan is transitory and will become part of India sooner or later.

Q. What about Afghanistan?
A. Pakistan and Afghanistan are a part of us and will return one day.

Now I am sure the RSS Chief is dreaming of an Akand Bharath under a Hindutva [Saffron] flag.

Islamists in Pakistan also has similar dreams of uniting India and Afghanistan with Pakistan under an Islamist flag. Their agents in India,the now banned SIMI propagated the slogan 'India's liberation through Islam'.

Let us hope all these nightmares will remain as such, as far from reality as possible.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Newspaper columns for sale

'Attention election candidates!

"Four News items of your choice and your profile costs only between Rs 5 to 20 lakh depending on the page of our newspaper.
If you are rich enough we will publish for you a special supplement about your achievements for only Rs 1.5 crore."

These rates are not for advertisements.These were the rates for sale of newspaper columns to affordable candidates in the recently held Maharashtra Assembly elections.

See what the noted Magsaysay award winning journalist P.Sainath wrote:

"In the financial orgy that marked the Maharashtra elections, the media were never far behind the moneybags. Not all sections of the media were in this mode, but quite a few. Not just small local outlets, but powerful newspapers and television channels, too. Many candidates complained of “extortion” but were not willing to make an issue of it for fear of drawing media fire. Some senior journalists and editors found themselves profoundly embarrassed by their managements. “The media have been the biggest winners in these polls,” says one ruefully. “In this period alone,” says another, “they’ve more than bounced back from the blows of the ‘slowdown’ and done so in style.” Their poll-period take is estimated to be in hundreds of millions of rupees. Quite a bit of this did not come as direct advertising but in packaging a candidate’s propaganda as “news.”

The Assembly elections saw the culture of “coverage packages” explode across the State. In many cases, a candidate just had to pay for almost any coverage at all. Issues didn’t come into it. No money, no news. This effectively shut out smaller parties and independent voices with low assets and resources. It also misled viewers and readers by denying them any mention of the real issues some of these smaller forces raised.
None of this, as some editors point out, is new. However, the scale is new and stunning. The brazenness of it (both ways) quite alarming. And the game has moved from the petty personal corruption of a handful of journalists to the structured extraction of huge sums of money by media outfits.

Only, the falsehoods often disguised as “news” affect an exercise central to India’s electoral democracy. And are outrageously unfair to candidates with less or no money. They also amount to exerting undue influence on the electorate.

All of this goes hand in hand with the stunning rise of money power among candidates. More so among those who made it the last time and have amassed huge amounts of wealth since 2004. With the media and money power wrapped like two peas in a pod, this completely shuts out smaller, or less expensive, voices. It just prices the aam aadmi out of the polls. Never mind they are contested in his name."

Loksabha elections also saw this phenomenon of 'journalism for sale'. The Andhra Pradesh Union of Working Journalists [APUWJ] has, on the basis of a sample survey conducted in West Godavari district, estimated that newspapers across the State netted Rs. 350 crore to Rs. 400 crore through editorial coverage sold to candidates during the 2009 Lok Sabha and Assembly elections.
In a seminar organised by APUWJ on May 13,2009 all the speakers unanimously expressed concern over the role played by large section of media during the General Elections – 2009. They said:
"Not only did the media indulged in unprofessional, immoral and unethical practices but also cheated the readers. Pointing out that the practice of publishing of propaganda material of the contesting candidates or political parties as “news” in the news columns with dateline and credit line under the guise of packages, schemes and contracts and collecting money is an unethical practice. While it is legitimate business practice for the media houses to accept advertisements, it is improper to use the news space/time slots for pecuniary gain. We believe that such practices lower the credibility of the media.

In a democracy the media exercises the right of the people for freedom of expression. It is the voice of the people. It is to inform, to educate and rouse their conscience for betterment of democracy and common good. It is time for the media houses, professional journalists, political parties and regulatory bodies to self introspect on the perilous practices that have crept into the media in recent times and apply corrective measures to remedy the situation before it is too late."

The Press Council of India did appoint a 2 men commission to enquire into these complaints in June 2009,but this did not prevent the Maharashtra media outfits from selling their newspaper columns to the highest bidder in last month's elections.

What was the all powerful election commission doing? Almost nothing.
Let me conclude with the last paragraph of Sainath's article.

"Each time a giant poll exercise is gone through in this most complex of electoral democracies, we congratulate the Election Commission on a fine job. Rightly so, in most cases. For, many times, its interventions and activism have curbed rigging, booth capturing and ballot stuffing. On the money power front, though — and the media’s packaging of big money interests as “news” — it is hard to find a single significant instance of rigorous or deterrent action. These too, after all, are serious threats. More structured, much more insidious than crude ballot stuffing. Far more threatening to the basics of not just elections, but democracy itself."

Sunday, November 1, 2009

A.K.Antony's new explanation for Emergency rule in India

It has been 25 years since the death of India Gandhi, the former Prime Minister of India. On October 31 1984. she was brutally gunned down by her own body guards. Many newspapers brought out commemorative articles about Indira Gandhi and her legacy. Many leaders also paid their tributes to her. The most interesting tribute came from our Defense Minister A.K.Antony. In his tribute published in Congress daily Malayala Manorama, A.K.Antony has an interesting explanation for the infamous imposition of Emergency rule in India in 1975 by Indira Gandhi. As it is in Malayalam let me translate it.

A.K.Antony wrote

"Indira Gandhi was not in favor of emergency. Proclamation of Emergency rule was only her response to Jayaprakash Narayan asking the Army to lead a revolt against the political leadership."

So Jayaprakash Narayan is responsible for the Emergency rule in India, according to A.K.Antony.Not Indira Gandhi or Sanjay Gandhi.

This is the typical victim blaming ideology of the oppressor.

What was the real reason for Emergency?

On June 12, 1975, Justice Jagmohanlal Sinha of the Allahabad High Court found the Prime Minister Indira Gandhi guilty on the charge of misuse of government machinery for her election campaign. The court declared her election null and void and unseated her from her seat in the Lok Sabha. The court also banned her from contesting any election for an additional six years.

Instead of resigning and appealing against the verdict in the Supreme Court, Indira Gandhi declared a State of Emergency citing threat to National Security and brought Indian Democracy to a grinding halt.

What did Lok Nayak Jayaprakash Narayan did?

JP was in effect the main opposition to Indira Gandhi's despotic rule. When it became clear that Indira Gandhi was not going to obey the Constitutional provisions and laws by resigning as Prime Minister and was contemplating Emergency, he called for mass agitation to force her to resign. In that famous rally in Ramlila Grounds in Delhi he asked Government servants, Police and the Army to disobey Indira Gandhi as she has no legal right to remain in the seat of Prime Minister.

A.K.Antony do not find fault in Indira clinging on to power for almost 2 weeks after the Court order but blames JP for raising voice against her attempt to undermine democracy.

The irony is that the same A.K.Antony has resigned in protest against Indira Gandhi being given ticket to contest in a by election by the Congress in 1978.He was also supposed to be a strong opponent of Emergency.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

A page from History!

'This day that age'!

Harijan and local political workers proclaim that they will enter the Sri Ekambareshwarar Temple at Chettipulam near Vedaranyam, for the first time ever on September 30.
On that day and on the next day they find the temple locked. They do a sit-in for few hours and depart.
On October 14 they try temple entry again .The upper caste mob had blocked the road, placed tree logs, concrete tunnel pipes etc. at intermittent gaps. Heavy stone throwing by ‘caste’ Hindus greeted them and many got injured

A glimpse from India's not so glorious past?

Unfortunately No. This happened this year in 2009 in Tamilnadu, the bastion of backward class politics.

There has been long standing feud between politically and economically powerful 'Vanniyars and the Dalits in several parts of Tamilnadu.In many of the temples run by Vanniyars Dalits are never allowed entry.

About 300 CPI (M) workers and Dalits, led by Nagapattinam MLA Marimuthu, organised a temple entry agitation at Chettipulam on September 30 along with the Tamil Nadu Untouchability Eradication Front. But they found the temple locked. When they tried to force entry Police stopped them.

It was decided at the peace talks that Nagapattinam RDO Rajendran held with the Dalits,'Caste' Hindus of the village and CPI (M) cadres on October 7 that dalits, led by Mr Marimuthu, would enter the temple on October 14 along with the villagers.

But on October 14, the village witnessed violence, lathicharge and police firing when the vehicles in which Dalits, accompanied by police and revenue officials were proceeding to the temple, were attacked by a mob.

Now the Good news

On October 27,Tuesday the District Collector Mr Munianathan under heavy Police security ushered in the Dalits inside the temple for the first time in its history.

"Hordes of women and men jostled each other as they crossed the threshold of the temple and walked towards the sanctum sanctorum with flowers, garlands and coconuts as offerings to the deity. As they craned their necks to catch a glimpse of their god, the DRO and the Collector personally collected their offerings and passed it on to the priest into the sanctum for special prayers.

The general folks of the village, other than the Dalits, were absent at the temple. Most of the men are said to be on the run, following the legal crackdown by police after the violence of October 14."

 Dalits offering prayers at the Ekambareshwarar temple in Chettipulam village near Vedaranyam at Nagapattinam district. Photo:M_Moorthy from The Hindu

"I am delighted that my many-year-old desire has been fulfilled today.”

This is how Mahatma Gandhi wrote in the visitors’ book shortly after offering worship at the Meenakshi-Sundareswarar temple in Madurai, Tamil Nadu, along with Dalits and members of certain other “excluded communities” on February 4, 1946.

Speaking at a rally in Palani soon afterwards, he said worship of God’s image would serve no good unless people cleansed their hearts of hardness against fellow beings. God should be enshrined not in images but in human hearts. He said he worshipped the deities at the Madurai temple because that shrine was now open to Dalits.

Though more than 60 years have gone by discriminatory practices against Dalits continue in several parts of Tamil Nadu.

In a recent survey of 658 temples in 5 southern districts of Tamil Nadu it was found that some form of discrimination takes place in 200 of them.

Dalits have been denied entry into 121 temples. In 128 temples they do not have access to the sanctum sanctorum. They are not permitted to perform pujas at 106 shrines. Temple cars skip Dalit colonies at 174 places. Dalits are allowed to enter the places of worship only during specific hours fixed for them in 103 cases. In 86 temples, the honour of tying “parivattam” (a cloth tied around the head) has been denied to Dalits.

When will this shame of India and Hinduism be erased forever?

adapted from deccan chronicle,expressbuzz,the hindu,the frontline

Sunday, October 25, 2009

'Love Jihad'.Fact or fiction?

Whom do you think a communalist hates most?

Many may feel that an Islamic communalist will hate a Hindu/Christian communalist most while a Hindu communalist will hate a Muslim/Christian communalist most.

But this is not true.

Whom they hate most are the believers of their own religion who try to have strong friendship and social contacts with believers of other religion.

That's why Jinnah hated Maulana Azad most.
That's why a Hindutva activist killed Gandhiji.
That's why communalists of all hues and color hate inter-religious marriages,especially when the couple involved decides to stick on to their own religion.

Even if they do not stick on to their own religion,such marriages based on love increases the social contacts between families of different religions and should be encouraged if the conversion to the spouse's religion is with out compulsion.

"Love Jihad"

Recently we saw an increasing number of news reports about love used for forcible religious conversion in South India,mainly Kerala. It has been alleged that thousands of Hindu and a few Christian girls has been trapped in to love affairs with Islamist boys and later forced into marriages and conversion to Islam. A newspaper in Kerala coined the term 'Love Jihad' for this phenomenon.

If you search 'Love Jihad' on google you will see a large number of furious Hindutva websites trying their best to raise the anger in the Hindu mind.The statistics they quote are mind boggling. It ranges from 1000 to 5000 Hindu girls already converted to Islam by this 'Love jihad'.
Here is an excerpt from 'Hindu jagruti''s website.

"Trapping naive Non Muslim girls (Read as Hindu girls) in the web of love inorder to convert to Islam is the modus operandi of the said organisation. Already more than 4000 girls have been converted to Islam by this Jihadi Romeos.

Special branch of Police started investigation when marriages of such large scales are reported within last 6 months. As per the instructions to recruits of this organisation, they have to love a Hindu girl within the time frame of 2 weeks and brainwash them to get converted and marry within 6 months. Special instructions to breed atleast 4 kids have also been given. If the target won’t get trapped within first 2 weeks, they are instructed to leave them and move on to another girl."

Is this really true?

Most of the Hindutva websites reveal the source of their information as Police Special Branch reports. The Kerala High Court asked the Police to enquire about this.The DGP has presented a preliminary report in the Court on October 23.
The DGP's affidavit said that apart from the 2 cases before the court there is no proof that such incidents are taking place. At the same time the affidavit said "there are reasons to suspect ‘concentrated attempts’ to persuade girls to convert to Islam after they fall in love with Muslim boys but no organisation called ‘Love Jihad’ has been identified so far in the state". The affidavit said police had no evidence regarding the operation of love jihad and the source of money.

What is the truth behind this?
I am very well aware that Islamists recruit many youths from the campuses in Kerala for propagating hate in name of Islam.
I am also sure that some inter-religious 'love' marriages have taken place and most probably conversions too. Most of those marriages were genuine.
Was the conversion forced? Is it really an organised movement by 'Jihadi' organisations to increase the number of Muslims in India? Even if it is so has this taken place in such a large scale as being alleged?

The Police special branch report the Hindutva websites are quoting is about complaints registered in police stations regarding missing persons.Police themselves say that most of those compliants have already been withdrawn as the missing persons have returned to their families. Only a few are yet to be traced.The statistics are grossly exaggerated to create bigger effect.

Read here from 'The Hindu' a story of alleged 'love jihad' from Karnataka

The ‘Love Jehad’ that wasn’t

When Anitha (22) of Barimaru village in Bantwal taluk, went missing this June, the rumour mills fed by several Sangh Parivar organisations claimed that she was forcibly converted to Islam by a Pakistan-backed, professional ‘jehadist lover’.

On October 4, the head of the Gurupura Math, Rajashekharananda, held a protest meeting where he alleged that Anitha had fallen prey to a terrorist ploy. The event, which according to top police officers, threatened to create a communally sensitive situation, led to the hurried constitution of a special investigation team.

In less than two weeks the team cracked the case: Anitha was poisoned to death by Mohan Kumar, serial killer arrested on October 21, who allegedly confessed to having murdered her and robbed 17 other women by luring them with offers of marriage.

On October 15, the Hindu Janjagruthi Samiti held a protest outside the Deputy Commissioner’s Office alleging that over 3,000 Hindu girls from Dakshina Kannada and 30,000 from the rest of the State had gone missing since the “Love Jehad operation” was launched by the “terrorists” a year ago. These figures, posted on the Samiti’s website, are now being quoted by other Hindutva organisations as well.

However, official statistics given to The Hindu show that in the three years ended September 30 this year, 404 women went missing in the district. Of them, 332 women have since been traced by the police.

At Wednesday’s press conference, the police said that now only 57 women were missing in the district.

According to Superintendent of Police A.S. Rao, several of these 57 women are suspected to have committed suicide or eloped. “Among those who have eloped there are several who are not Hindus. There are also cases where Hindu women have eloped with Hindu men,” he said.

In another incident Siljaraj a woman of 23 years who eloped with her Muslim boy friend told the Karnataka High court that she had willingly converted to Islam and is waiting to get married under the provisions of the Special Marriages Act and asked for permission to go with her boy friend. But surprisingly the High Court asked her to return to her parent's home until the case is investigated.

Reacting to the order, senior advocate Ravi Varma Kumar said that it violated Article 21 (of life and personal liberty) and Article 25 (of freedom of religion) of the Indian Constitution. He cited Lata Singh vs. State of Uttar Pradesh, 2006, in which the Supreme Court upheld the right of a person who had reached the age of majority to marry of his or her own choice.
The People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) has said it would file a writ petition in the Supreme Court challenging the Karnataka High Court’s order.

I feel that more than this alleged 'love jihad' being a threat to Hindu society [ are Hindu girls so dumb???], it has become a fodder for the propaganda machine of the Sangh Parivar to propagate communal animosity and there by helping them in trying to reduce all social contacts between Hindus and believers of other religions.
Muslim and Christian priests have also issued warnings to youth to be cautious of such inter-religious social contacts.
As I said above Communalists of all colors are the same.They hate social and religious harmony because then their very existence is questioned.

The issue underlines the need for high vigilance against communalisation of our society.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

A very deserving Nobel Prize

As the World began a long and never ending debate about whether US President Obama deserved Nobel peace prize or not, the Swedish Academy announced the award of Nobel Prize in Economics to a very deserving woman from Indiana University,  Elinor Ostrom.

                                                       Elinor Ostrom.   Photograph: John Sommers  II/Reuters

She shares the award with Oliver Williamson .

She became the first woman to get the Nobel Prize in Economics and the interesting thing to note is that she is not an economist. She is a political scientist and is currently the Professor of Political Science in Indiana University in USA.

Many have termed Elinor Ostrom getting the Economics Nobel as "most unexpected" or even "radical and awesome choice".

What is so important and significant in her work?

Most economists consider individuals ruthlessly selfish so that they eventually destroy the natural resource they commonly own or share. This is called as 'Tragedy of Commons'

This refers to a dilemma described in an influential article by that name written by Garrett Hardin in 1968. The article describes a dilemma in which multiple individuals acting independently and solely and rationally consulting their own self-interest will ultimately destroy a shared limited resource even when it is clear that it is not in anyone's long term interest for this to happen.

Central to Hardin's article is an example, a hypothetical and simplified situation from medieval land tenure in Europe, of herders sharing a common parcel of land on which they are each entitled to let their cows graze. In Hardin's example, it is in each herder's interest to put the next (and succeeding) cows he acquires onto the land, even if the carrying capacity of the common is exceeded and it is temporarily or permanently damaged for all as a result. The herder receives all of the benefits from an additional cow, while the entire group shares the damage to the common. If all herders make this individually rational economic decision, the common will be depleted or even destroyed to the detriment of all.

So what is the solution?

Solution from the Right of political spectrum is to privatise the resource so that everyone will have ownership of small parcels of resources and treat that parcel better than when they shared it.

The Leftist's solution is to make Government take over the resource and bring strict rules to prevent over-exploitation.

But Ostrom disagrees with both solutions.

Privatisation, especially taking over by big Corporations according to her will only increase the exploitation and will result in severe depletion of the Nature's resources.

Governments if not environmentally sensitive or sensitive to the wishes of the people may act similarly to a big Corporation.

Ostrom's studied how different communities in different parts of the World use forests, lakes, groundwater basins and fisheries. She showed that the commons could be an opportunity for communities themselves to manage resources.

Here is an excerpt from her paper "Beyond the tragedies of Commons"

In an effort to move beyond Hardin’s classic allegory, it is important that one does not dismiss Hardin’s predictions for some Common Pool Resources. The major problem of his original analysis was that he presented “the tragedy” as a universal phenomenon. No set of users could overcome the tragedy. Thus, CPR users were trapped needing external interventions to extract them from gross overuse. Hardin’s presumption of universality is what one needs to move beyond.

Having said this, many field settings exist where Hardin is correct. Over harvesting
frequently occurs when resource users are totally anonymous, do not have a foundation of trust and reciprocity, cannot communicate, and have no established rules.

In an experimental lab, eight subjects presented with a common-pool resource problem over harvest when they do not know who is in their group, no feedback is provided on individual actions, and they cannot communicate. In fact, they over harvest more than predicted by the game theory and fit the behavior predicted by Hardin.

If the experimental subjects are enabled to sit in a circle talking about the puzzle in a
face-to-face group, they usually develop trust and reciprocity. Within a few rounds, they reduce over harvesting substantially and do very well. In traditional, noncooperative game theory, communication is not supposed to improve the outcomes obtained, but many groups solve the problem of over harvesting after engaging in face-to-face communication.

In the above paper she writes extensively about her studies in fishing communities of Mexico and shows how some of them where able to self organise and successfully sustain a pool of natural resources.

Kevin Gallagher writes about her works in The Guardian;

"In her classic work Governing the Commons: The Evolution of Institutions for Collective Action, Ostrom shows that under certain conditions, when communities are given the right to self-organise they can democratically govern themselves to preserve the environment.

At the policy level, Ostrom's findings give credence to the many indigenous and peasant movements across the developing world where people are trying to govern the land they have managed for centuries but run into conflict with governments and global corporations.

Some economists on the frontier of their discipline have started to use Ostrom's insights in their work. In their recent book Reclaiming Nature: Environmental Justice and Ecological Restoration, James Boyce, Liz Stanton and Sunita Narain, show how communities in Brazil, India, West Africa and even in the United States have managed their resources in a sustainable manner when given their rightful access to their assets"

The Nobel Prize also acknowledges her methodology of work. Unlike other economists who seldom leave the black board/laptop Ostrom did spend a lot of time in the field collecting data, conducting case studies and studying the behaviour of different communities. She also devised many experimental games both in the lab and on the field.

This is what the Nobel Prize committee said about her:

"Elinor Ostrom has challenged the conventional wisdom that common property is poorly managed and should be either regulated by central authorities or privatized. Based on numerous studies of user-managed fish stocks, pastures, woods, lakes, and groundwater basins, Ostrom concludes that the outcomes are, more often than not, better than predicted by standard theories. She observes that resource users frequently develop sophisticated mechanisms for decision-making and rule enforcement to handle conflicts of interest, and she characterizes the rules that promote success-ful outcomes."

She is considered as a 'brilliant scholar, good communicator, great teacher and a generous colleague'.

Let us hope that this award of Nobel Prize to Ostrom will trigger more research by economists in this field of human and community behaviour. Such a change in approach advocated by Ostrom may help us to preserve fast depleting natural resources.

To know more about her work click here.