New on my other blogs

KERALA LETTER
Solar scam reveals decadent polity and sociery
A Dalit poet writing in English, based in Kerala
Foreword to Media Tides on Kerala Coast
Teacher seeks V.S. Achuthanandan's intervention to end harassment by partymen
Change of heart? Or stooping to conquer?

വായന

31 March, 2010

Attention deficit democracy

RALPH NADER
Nader.org

A society not alert to signs of its own decay, because its ideology is a continuing myth of progress, separates itself from reality and envelops illusion. One yardstick by which to measure the decay in our country’s political, economic, and cultural life, is the answer to this question: Do the forces of power, which have demonstrably failed, become stronger after their widely perceived damage is common knowledge?

Economic decay is all around. Poverty, unemployment, foreclosures, job export, consumer debt, pension attrition, and crumbling infrastructure are well documented. The self-destruction of the Wall Street financial giants, with their looting and draining of trillions of other people’s money, have been headlines for two years. During and after their gigantic taxpayer bailouts from Washington, DC, the banks, et al, are still the most powerful force in determining the nature of proposed corrective legislation.

“The banks own this place,” says Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL), evoking the opinion of many members of a supine Congress ready to pass weak consumer and investor protection legislation while leaving dominant fewer and larger banks.
Who hasn’t felt the ripoffs and one-sided fine print of the credit card industry? A reform bill finally has passed after years of delay, again weak and incomplete. Shameless over their gouges, the companies have their attorneys already at work to design around the law’s modest strictures.

The drug and health insurance industry, swarming with thousands of lobbyists, got pretty much what they wanted in the new health law. Insurers got millions of new customers subsidized by hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars with very little regulation. The drug companies got their dream—no reimportation of cheaper identical drugs, no authority for Uncle Sam to bargain for discount prices, and a very profitable extension of monopoly patent protection for biologic drugs against cheaper, generic drug competition.

For all their gouges, for all their exclusions, their denial of claims and restrictions of benefits, for all their horrendous price increases, the two industries have come out stronger than ever politically and economically. Small wonder their stocks are rising even in a recession.

The junk food processing industry—on the defensive lately due to some excellent documentaries and exposes—are still the most influential of powers on Capitol Hill when it becomes to delaying for years a decent food safety bill, using tax dollars to pump fat, sugar and salt into the stomachs of our children, and fighting adequate inspections. Over seven thousand lives are lost due to contaminated food yearly in the US and many millions of illnesses.
The oil, gas, coal and nuclear power companies are fleecing consumers and taxpayers, depleting and imperiling the environment, yet they continue to block rational energy legislation in Congress to replace carbon and uranium with energy efficiency technology and renewables.

Still, even now after years of cost over-runs and lack of permanent storage for radioactive wastes, the nuclear industry has President Obama, and George W. Bush before him, pushing for many tens of billions of dollars in taxpayer loan guarantees for new nukes. Wall Street won’t finance such a risky technology without you, the taxpayers, guaranteeing against any accident or default.

Both Democrats and Republicans are passing on these outrageous financial and safety risks to taxpayers.

Congress, which receives the brunt of this corporate lobbying—the carrot of money and the stick of financing incumbent challengers—is more of an obstacle to change than ever. In the past after major failures of industry and commerce, there was a higher likelihood of Congressional action. Recall, the Wall Street and banking collapse in the early 1930s. Congress and Franklin Delano Roosevelt produced legislation that saved the banks, peoples’ savings and regulated the stock markets.

From the time of my book, Unsafe at Any Speed’s publication in late November 1965, it took just nine months to federally regulate the powerful auto industry for safety and fuel efficiency.

Contrast the two-year delay after the Bear Stearns collapse and still no reform legislation, and what is pending is weak.

Yet the entrenched members of Congress, responsible for this astonishing gridlock, are almost impossible to dislodge even though polls have Congress at its lowest repute ever. It is a place where the majority is terrified of the corporations and the minority can block even the most anemic legislative efforts with archaic rules, especially in the Senate.
C
ulturally, the canaries in the coal mine are the children. Childhood has been commercialized by the giant marketers reaching them hour by hour with junk food, violent programming, video games and bad medicine. The result—record obesity, child diabetes and other ailments.

While the companies undermine parental authority, they laugh all the way to the bank, using our public airwaves, among other media, for their lucre. They can be called electronic child molesters.

We published a book in 1996 called Children First!: A Parent’s Guide to Fighting Corporate Predators in the Media. This book is an understatement of the problem compared to the worsening of child manipulation today.

In a 24/7 entertained society frenetic with sound bites, Blackberries, iPods, text messages and emails, there is a deep need for reflection and introspection. We have to discuss face to face in living rooms, school auditoriums, village squares and town meetings what is happening to us and our diminishing democratic processes by the pressures and controls of the insatiable corporate state.

And what needs to be done from the home to the public arenas and marketplaces with old and new superior models, new accountabilities and new thinking.
For our history has shown that whenever the people get more engaged and more serious, they live better on all fronts.

Courtesy: Countercurrents

27 March, 2010

Talk to Fast, Talk to Non-violence: Sara Joseph’s letter to A. K. Antony

The following is an open letter addressed to Defence Minister A. K. Antony by writer and activist Sara Joseph who will be leading a march from his home town of Cherthala in Kerala to the Imphal jail where Irom Sharmila is incarcerated:

You must be aware of the fast which Irom Sharmila, a young woman, has been carrying on for about ten years against misuse of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act 1958, which is in force in the northeastern states. We find that the Defence Ministry is silent on this agitation which has attracted the attention of the entire world. We firmly believe that in a democratic set-up the people have the right to react to and agitate peacefully against army excesses and misuse of the law. We share the fears and anxieties about our country which is on the grip of terrorism, communal violence and Naxalite attacks. At the same time it is inappropriate and unjust that the armed sentinels of the country must spill the blood of innocent people. Irom Sharmila’s fast arose from the shock caused by the shooting down of innocent villagers by soldiers in front of her eyes.

Irom Sharmila is now incarcerated in an Imphal jail for attempted suicide. We are surprised that in the past ten years no responsible person has been prepared even to talk to this young woman who is engaged in a non-violent agitation which has attracted attention nationally and internationally.
In these circumstances we wish to invite your kind attention to this matter. In the name of Irom Sharmila, we ask our rulers ‘to talk to Peace, to talk to Fast, to talk to Hunger-strike, to talk to Non-violence and Non-aggression’. We hope you will help make this possible at the earliest opportunity.

Keeping this demand also before the civil society in India, we are beginning a peace march from your town of Cherthala in Kerala. Representatives of writers and other cultural activists of Kerala and the Hind Swaraj Centenary Committee are joining the march. As the march proceeds, “Meira Paeybi” (Women with Torches), a play based on Irom Sharmila’s life and struggle, presented by the Sunday Theatre of Kozhikode, will be staged in different parts of India. We will reach Imphal along with Mahasweta Devi after travelling through Bengalooru, Chennai, Nellore, Vijayawada, Bhopal, Delhi, Kolkata and Guwahati. T.R.N. Prabhu and Civic Chandran are the Co-ordinators of the march.

We are making this appeal to draw your urgent attention to the Imphal jail. Irom Sharmila is not a criminal who should be in prison. Hunger-strike is not unconstitutional. Earnestly pleading that steps be taken immediately to settle this agitation,

With respectful regards,

Sara Joseph

(Free English rendering of the original in Malayalam appearing on the March 2010 issue of Patabhedam magazine)

25 March, 2010

The Hindu vs The Indian Express

The Indian Express reported on Thursday that a fight was on in the family that owns The Hindu for control of the newspaper group, and in a quick response N. Ram, Editor-in-Chief of all publications of the group, announced his decision to launch civil and criminal defamatory proceedings against IE personnel.

The Indian Express carried the New Delhi-datelined report by Archna Shukla, under a telling headline: Battle for control breaks out in The Hindu very divided family.

The report, which also appeared in IE’s sister publication, the Financial Express, said, “A bitter battle has broken out among family members for control of one of the country’s oldest and most respected media companies, Kasturi & Sons Ltd, the publisher of the 132-year-old English newspaper The Hindu and business daily The Hindu Business Line.

“At the heart of this battle is the proposed retirement of publisher and the group Editor-in-Chief N Ram and his decision to dig his heels in.”

As Associate Editor of The Hindu, Ram had played a key role in the newspaper’s coverage of the Bofors scandal, based on investigations made by Chitra Subramaniam, a part-time correspondent based in Geneva. The B.D. Goenka Award for Excellence in Journalism, instituted by the Indian Express group, was awarded jointly to him and Chitra in 1989. The following year Ram received the Padma Bhushan.

Ram was widely tipped to succeed his paternal uncle, G. Kasturi, as the Editor of The Hindu but differences cropped up between them in the closing stages of the Bofors investigation. As a result, when Kasturi stepped down in 1991, Ram, who was already the Editor of all other publications of the group, was bypassed and his younger brother, N. Ravi, made the Editor of The Hindu.

In 2003, Ram was brought into The Hindu as Editor-in-Chief. Kasturi himself was said to have taken the initiative to re-induct him.

The media is a big champion of transparency but it rarely parts with information about itself except when a newspaper or television channel wants to blow its trumpet on the basis of readership surveys or audit reports.

Soon after Archna Shukla’s report appeared in the Indian Express and the Financial Express, Ram said in a statement displayed at The Hindu’s website: “These reports are riddled with demonstrable falsehoods and defamatory assertions, some of them attributed to unnamed sources, made with reckless and malicious disregard for the facts and the truth. And this despite the professional courtesy I extended to the journalist and the newspapers by responding precisely and factually to five specific questions emailed to me on March 24 by Ms Shukla.”


Ram’s decision to sue the Indian Express group is unfortunate. Such action may inhibit newspapers from publishing material about media developments. A more desirable course of action would have been to point out the alleged falsehoods and defamatory assertions and demand that the newspapers correct them.

The Indian Express group was also embroiled in a family dispute not long ago. It was resolved by splitting the newspaper group into two and separating the real estate part.

ACJ offers scholarships for SC/ST students

Mr. Sashi Kumar, Chairman, Media Development Foundation, Chennai (sakumar@vsnl.com) writes:

I write to you to seek your assistance in meaningfully enabling and enlarging the scholarships we have instituted for candidates from Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes for study at the Asian College of Journalism.

As you know, the intent and purpose of these scholarships are threefold:

(a) to make the composition of our student intake for our postgraduate diploma programme each year more diverse and inclusive,

(b) to bring the impinging inequality, injustice and deprivation in our society - which tends to be marginalised in the mainstream news media - in sharp focus into our radar; and thereby

(c) make for a demographic change in the class and caste character of practising professional journalists.

I have no doubt that to realize these aims we must be able to draw the attention of talented candidates from the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, who see in journalism the potential to make a difference. Unfortunately our experience over the last years has been that there are not enough applications to select candidates from for the four scholarships we already have. These are full scholarships covering the tuition fees and, wherever required, also the board and lodging for the duration of the course.

In fact, the paradox has been that while we have offers of more scholarships (beyond the four already available) we find we do not have enough takers for them. This may partly have to do with the requirement that candidates must have a comfortable functional grasp of English to cope with the programme, which is tested in ACJ's entrance exam for admissions. But I suspect the real reason for the inadequate response to our scholarship scheme is that we have not really been able to connect with, and interest, the target group which can beneficially avail it.

I rely on you to try and initiate interest in these scholarships so that we have a talented pool of applicants to draw from, and can really make the difference we hope to.

Admissions for the academic year 2010-2011 have been announced and the details are available on the ACJ websites: www.asianmedia.org or www.asianmedia.org.in

Please do spread the word to your colleagues and enlist their support in this cause. If there is anything you think we should do to facilitate the process, please don't hesitate to let me know.

The ACJ Registrar, Ms. Malini (malini.acj@gmail.com) can also be contacted for any clarifications in this regard.

I hope we will be able to make a break through this year.

With warm wishes,

Sashi
-------------
Sashi Kumar,
Chairman, Media Development Foundation & Asian College of Journalism,
Second Main Road
Taramani
Chennai-600113
India
(T) +91-44-22542840 / 42-47
(F) +91-44-22542839
www.asianmedia.org

24 March, 2010

Call to stop killings in the name of countering Maoism

The following is a statement issued by eight activists on alleged encounter killings of some Maoist leaders:

We, the undersigned, strongly condemn the recent killings of senior CPI (Maoist) leaders Sakhamuri Appa Rao and S. Kondal Reddy in ‘encounters’ by the Andhra Pradesh police.

While the AP police has claimed that they were killed in gun battles in two different incidents in Prakasam and Warangal districts, there are strong grounds to believe that the two Maoist leaders were arrested in Maharashtra, taken to AP and shot in cold blood.

The use of assassination, kidnapping and torture by the forces of the Indian state to contain the Maoist insurgency is not new or surprising but remains even now, as before, an illegal, immoral and reprehensible strategy.

Firstly, the use of such methods by the Indian police, paramilitary forces or army -- under whatever pretext -- go against basic provisions of the Indian Constitution and puts them on par with ordinary criminals or even terrorists. The fact that the Maoists do not believe in the Indian Constitution does not mean the Indian government should also abandon its commitment to the only consensus document that gives it its legitimacy. The Indian state has a duty to uphold the Constitution, irrespective of the opponents it faces, and failure to do so robs it of its entire claim to represent ‘Indian law’.

Secondly, there is enough evidence to show that the use of such dirty methods, once justified by the political masters, unfortunately becomes a bad habit, making the Indian security forces a threat to the lives of millions of ordinary Indian citizens. The fact that India has one of the world’s highest numbers of custodial deaths and ranks extremely high in the list of countries using torture is testimony to this dubious phenomenon. The people at the receiving end of such violations of law by the Indian state on a day-to-day basis are the Dalit, Adivasi, Muslim, poor communities as also the people of Kashmir and the North-East, and this is completely unacceptable.

We demand that the Home Minister of India and the Indian government put an immediate end to the use of abduction, torture and fake encounter killings to tackle the Maoist and other armed insurgencies. Lawless governance and impunity for wrongdoers in uniform leads to loss of faith in democracy. The institutional failures that give rise to insurgencies also need to be understood and tackled in a political manner for any lasting solutions.

A.Marx, Academic/Activist, Chennai
Bhaskar Vishwanathan, Activist, Chennai
Amit Bhaduri, Economist, New Delhi
Dilip Simeon, Academic/Activist, New Delhi
Satya Sivaraman, Journalist, New Delhi
Aseem Srivastava, Economist, New Delhi
Amit Sengupta, Journalist, New Delhi
Rabin Chakrabarty, Academic/Activist, Kolkata

Distributed by
Countercurrents.org

22 March, 2010

Birth Centenary of Ram Manohar Lohia

Tomorrow (March 23) is the 100th birth anniversary of the Socialist leader, Dr Ram Manohar Lohia.

A freedom-fighter, he parted with the Congress along with Jayaprakash Narayan and other Congress Socialists who were the heroes of the Quit India agitation.

While JP and most members of the group strayed away from politics or went back to the Congress, Lohia stayed in the field holding aloft the slogan of Socialism.

What marked Lohia apart from other leaders of his generation was his deep understanding of Indian reality, especially the role of caste in Indian society. He brought a large number of young people into the political arena who, while lacking his vision, still played an important role in national politics after his time.

Operation Mineral Hunt, not Operation Green Hunt

GLADSON DUNGDUNG
Countercurrents.org

After long preparation, debate and politics, finally the Indian government launched ‘Operation Green Hunt’ (OGH) in Jharkhand on March 10 with the objective of cleansing the state of Maoists. Though P. Chidambaram, the CEO of OGH does not use the term his officers di it shamelessly. Nearly 10,000 security forces consisting of CRPF, Cobra, Jaguar, STP and other groups have been deployed in the forests, choppers are roaming over the forests, schools are converted into military camps, forests are sealed and the combing operations are being carried out in the forests with the support of local Adivasi youth who are named as Special Police Officers (SPO), duplicated from the Salwa Judum theory of Chhattisgarh.

Since, there was huge media hype on Operation Green Hunt the Maoists fled the area much before the arrival of the security forces in the region. As a result, the security forces are targeting the innocent villagers. The operation has created uncertainty, brought threat to life and seized the freedom of the villagers, mostly Adivasis, in different parts of the state. The Adivasis who live in or around the forests and depend on it for their survival, are not allowed to enter or roam in the forests, the water sources are captured, the villagers are unnecessarily harassed, children are denied their right to education and the security forces misbehave woth the women. However, the billion dollar question is, is it really an operation to hunt for the Maoists?

The OGH concept itself is questionable. Theoretically, it is ‘Operation Red Hunt’ rather than ‘Operation Green Hunt’ as the Maoists neither look green nor depend on forests for their survival. It is the Adivasis who completely depend on agro-forests (greeneries). The government has been telling us for several years that the Palamu region of Jharkhand is the most Maoist- infested area. Presently, Simdega district comes under the same category but strangely the anti-Naxal operation was first launched in the Kolhan region. Needless to say the Jharkhand government has signed the most MoUs with corporate houses for establishing mining industries, power projects and steel plants. Obviously the anti-Naxal operations are being carried out in those districts (East Singhbhum, West Singbhum, Khunti, Gumla, Bokaro, Giridih, Chatra, Latehar, Ramgarh and Hazaribagh) where either the villagers are opposing the proposed projects or the government sees as an investment corridor.

Ironically, the government of India launched another operation on March 17 in the Chotanagpur region of Jharkhand, which can be called “Operation Mineral Hunt”. According to the latest report, choppers are being engaged for conducting an aerial survey to find out the existence of minerals in the region. Both the operations are being carried out simultaneously in the region by the government of India. Secondly, just a week after OGH was flagged off, the world’s second largest steel company POSCO announced shifting of its proposed 12 MT steel project from Orissa to Jharkhand, where it will invest Rs. 54,000 crore in a joint venture with SAIL in Bokaro. POSCO will have 60 per cent share and would get the Chiria Mines (2,000 MT reserve) easily for which the Arcellor Mittal Company was also bargaining hard.

The Chief Ministers of the so-called Red Corridor states are attending a series of meetings with P. Chidambarm on OGH on one hand and with the corporate houses for investment on the other. Of course, there is an investment competition going on among several states as the present era of development is measured on the basis of investment. Now the decline of hunger, illiteracy and malnutrition does not matter for the state. Therefore, one has every reason to believe that the so-called OGH is to clear the Adivasis' and other local settlers' lands for the corporate houses rather than to cleanse the region of Maoists.

Of course, the state is essentially batting for the corporate houses in the name of the Maoists and instead of creating peace the government is creating insecurity in the region. The Adivasis are in a state of uncertainty because of the way they have been treated in the country despite being the indigenous people. They always live peacefully and pay the heavy price for the development of the nation. The Adivasis are not against development but they don't want the foundation of development to be laid over their graves. In the present circumstances, the Adivasis are being targeted in each and every corner. They are the victims of both Maoist and state violence.

After kidnapping of Dhalmugarh BDO Prasant Kumar Layak, the Maoists had demanded release of innocent villagers from the jail. In response to their demand, Zonal Inspector General of Police Regi Dungdung publicly announced that the police have inflicted false cases against innocent villagers. Jasmi Mardi and Bahadur Mardi of Gurabandh village of Ghatshila were found innocent after reviewing their cases and released. Ironically, earlier, the police had portrayed them as Maoists, thrown them behind the bars and charged them under the sections 302, 120b, 349 of IPC, 27 of Arms Act and 17 CLA Act. The question is how can an innocent person be charged with such serious criminal acts? The Chief Minister also acknowledged that many innocent people were put in jail after branding them as Maoists.

The country faced a series of terrorist attacks, including the attacks on Parliament, Akshardham, Hyderabad, Ahmedabad and 26/11. Our corporate Home Minister has now a different view of Jehadi terrorists. His latest discovery is that ‘Maoists are more dangerous than the Jehadi terrorists for the country’. The UPA government, therefore, wants to eliminate the Maoists before the completion of its present term. Of course, one can understand his position. The Jehadi terrorists have nothing to do with the minerals but the Maoists are very much associated with it. National and multinational companies are eying them but they are not able to establish their projects in the Red Corridor due to the people’s protests. The Maoists never hesitate to take credit for this. That is the main reason why the India government is ready to go in for unconditional talk with Pakistan but wants to eliminate the Maoists rather than go in for peace talks with them. It proposes a pre-condition peace talks with the Maoists to mislead the people.

Perhaps, history suggests that the Adivasi-dominated areas were never a matter of concern for the Indian state. fter liberalization these areas were identified as the haven for investment and projected as the mineral corridor. Meanwhile, the Indian state attempted to convert these areas into a corporate corridor by allowing the corporate sharks to enter. In 2005, the Indian government brought a legislation for establishment of the corporate corridor, which is called the ‘Special Economic Zone’ (SEZ) but it could not implementat the Act fully due to the mass protests. Finally, these areas were named Red Corridor so that the state can use the power of gun to convert it into Corporate Corridor. Licensed killings are very much welcomed, appreciated and even rewarded in our democratic setup.

The issue of Naxalism is four decades old. It emerged in the 1970s but the Indian state was not much concerned about it. When villagers stoned former Union Fertilizer Minister Ram Vilas Paswan and West Bengal Chief Minister Budhdev Bhattacharjee while they were returning from Bhumi Pujan (inauguration) of Jindal’s project in Midnapore district of West Bengal in 2008, the issue of Naxalism was brought to the centrestage. Finally, joint operations were called to cleanse the country of Maoists projecting them as the biggest security threat to the nation.

Operation Green Hunt is a license to kill the Adivasis who oppose the unjust development process, protest against state suppression and are determined to protect their heritage. It wants to transform the Adivasi lands into the corporate corridor, where corporate sharks will swallow the minerals and produce money for the country, making India a superpower with the blood of the Adivasis and other local settlers. All three economists, Montek Sigh Ahluwalia, Manmohan Singh and P. Chidambaram, are working towards Vision 2020 and they would do anything for it.

The India state sees the Maoists as a severe threat to the investment climate rather than a security threat to the nation. Our ruling elites want to suppress, shoot and bury the dissenting voice. They are more worried about the corporate houses than the communities, they are more concerned about GDP growth than feeding the country’s hungry people and they are more worried about the investment climate than the impact of the climate change. Those who are confused about Operation Green Hunt must realize at least now that it is not an operation to cleanse the country of Maoists but a hunt for minerals for the corporate sharks. It is Operation Mineral Hunt, my friends.

Gladson Dungdung is a human rights activist and writer from Jharkhand. He can be reached at gladsonhractivist@gmail.com
Website: www.jharkhandmirror.org

17 March, 2010

‘May You Live in Interesting Times’: The Maoists and Us

P.K.VIJAYAN
Tehelka.com

Could the cry of “Maoist terrorists” be the Congress led UPA governmet’s equivalent of the cry of “Islamic terrorists” during the BJP led NDA government? — asks PK Vijayan

On 20th February, the Hindustan Times, reporting on the charge-sheet produced by the Delhi Police against Kobad Ghandy, stated that Ghandy was alleged to have been in direct contact with GN Sai Baba, a professor in Delhi University, who is alleged to be in control of the CPI (Maoist)’s tactical counter offensive against Operation Green Hunt. Reporting on the same charge-sheet, on the same day, the Times of India reported the investigators’ claim that civil rights groups like the PUDR and PUCL were actively helping the Maoists to spread their base; while Mail Today stated that there was an active Maoist operation amongst Delhi University students, specifically identifying the Democratic Students Union (DSU). Elaborating on this same charge-sheet report the next day, the HT adds that a prominent research scholar and a human rights activist have been specifically identified by Ghandy as Maoist leaders in the capital, although they are not named by the newspaper.

Interestingly, each of these details appears only in the particular newspaper mentioned, and not in any of the other papers: like the blind men and the elephant, it is as if each has ‘found’ something unique in the charge-sheet, that characterizes the contents of that document – but unlike the blind men in the story, who after all are each seeking to describe the same beast but end up describing only the part that they sense, these newspapers presumably all have access to the same ‘beast’ in its entirety (i.e., the charge-sheet), but have chosen to report only on specific – but different – aspects of the extensive Maoist network that it alleges exists in Delhi. What, we may ask, is going on?

Very simply, if each newspaper reports on any one branch of this alleged Maoist network, each will have apparently reported something unique; further, each newspaper’s readership will have been made aware of one crucial way in which the Maoist ‘menace’ is apparently already in their neighbourhood, and spreading like a virus. But the total effect of all the reports is the imaging of a hydra, a Ravana, a many-headed monster conceived in the savage and distant tribal terrains of Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Orissa, and that is now slouching towards the safe cosmopolitan world of the NCR to be born. What is most disturbing in this picture – which would be fantastically ridiculous if it were not so dangerous – is that the heads of this monster that have been identified in the newspapers are intellectuals, civil rights bodies and university student organizations: the classic sites of dissent in any free society. In other words, Operation Green Hunt (or OGH) is no longer just ‘out there’, but is now itself slouching around in the NCR: dissent towards OGH is gradually itself being targeted under OGH.

Troublingly, sections of the press appear to be participating – wittingly or unwittingly – in this urbanization of OGH. The fact is that if each of these papers had presented all that the others had also reported, the larger picture would have been self-evident, the elephant would have stood revealed as the state preparing to trample on intellectual dissent. One does not need to be particularly gifted visually or intellectually to see the connection between intellectuals, university students and civil rights activists. Every modern state has sought to control these sections of its society – and usually the press too – precisely because they have always been sources of political discomfort. When the press decides to go along with the state, or confines itself to being the voice of the state, it must ring a bell for us – in this case a very loud alarm bell that tolls the names of Joseph Goebbels, over and over again.

The question before us is, did the newspapers noted above choose to remain blind men? Or were their reporters deliberately fed partial information by the police, to ensure that the fear of the Maoist virus spreading would be treated as a ‘real’ threat, and not be perceived for what it patently is: a strategy for clamping down on any questioning of the government’s armed offensive against large populations of its own citizenry, in the name of cleansing the Maoist ‘infection’? Even if it was the latter, it was and is incumbent on any press worth its name – as another important site of dissent in any free society – to have sought out the information in its entirety, before rushing to press. Otherwise, in true Goebbelsian fashion, it will simply be blindly repeating the lies, over and over again, till the lies become the truth.

That this did not happen, for whatever reason, is closely related to another issue, which is the absence in the mainstream press and media in general, of any real understanding of or interest in the anxieties and apprehensions that OGH has given rise to, and of the consequent concern over it. This anxiety and concern has been emanating from several very diverse quarters, and essentially pertains to whether it is appropriate for the state to take arms against its own citizenry. Very few of these voices may be considered even remotely sympathetic to the Maoist cause; several of them have explicitly, repeatedly and sometimes even vehemently spoken against it. Irrespective of their take on Maoism, however, these voices have focused on the fact that OGH is an operation that is unconstitutional, violative of fundamental human rights and pretty evidently underway in order to further the interests of big corporate investments in the ‘infested’ areas. They have repeatedly sought to point out that the perceived ‘infestation’ actually constitutes the local tribal populations living there. If large sections of the tribal populations in these areas – threatened with displacement, destitution and/or violent death at the hands of big-money private armies and/or the state’s own military and paramilitary apparatus – should choose to resist this apparently inexorable process of internal colonization, sometimes violently, then should we in Delhi be surprised? Delhi’s denizens are now world-famous for resorting to fists, lathis and the odd baseball bat on what might be considered the slightest provocation: it might be a neighbour parking his car in my space, or another’s washing hanging over my balcony – our sense of our space as sacred is powerful. Then, when the tribal – for whom it is not parking space but her very livelihood, history and future that are being stolen with her land – decides to protest, should we not be stirred by sympathy? If we are not, we need to wonder why we are not. And at least part of the reason for that is because we have been buying into the Goebbelsian lies of the state: that these tribal movements are all controlled and managed by Naxals/Maoists; or that the tribals are actually being coerced by Maoists; or that there are no tribals, only Maoists. That these are people fighting for rights, sanctioned to them under the Fifth Schedule of the Constitution, is a fact that gets drowned in all the noise.

The Indian state – which is thus explicitly enjoined by the Constitution (among other documents) to protect the social and economical interests of tribals in these scheduled areas – is financially and politically too deeply invested in the project of clearing these areas and making them accessible to corporate exploitation, to acknowledge this. It would lose legitimacy and become a global scandal. Or it would simply reveal what most states under this stage of capitalism are doing. Hence the extended exercise of labelling all tribals protesting its actions ‘Maoist’; all intellectual and civil rights attempts to dissuade it ‘Maoist sympathizers’; and all dissent in general is increasingly being viewed as ‘terrorist’. This, as will be easily recognized, has long been the hallmark of McCarthyism. And as with that form of political repression, no doubt a chain of arrests will be initiated based on ostensible ‘confessions’, beginning with Kobad Ghandy’s, and spreading out in a network that will be produced as Maoist, with no way of knowing if it actually is.

It is particularly instructive that Joseph McCarthy’s strategy of labelling all dissent ‘communist’ arose at a time when the capitalist economy of the United States was, post-Depression, impatiently seeking to lose the shackles of Franklin Roosevelt’s socially oriented New Deal policies. Thus, any policy that carried even a whiff of being social-welfarist was immediately branded communist and dumped, and its proponents attacked socially, politically and legally.

The parallels are clear with our own context: we live, as the old Chinese curse goes, in interesting times – when our own capitalism is kicking with impatience at obstacles to (irony of ironies!) ‘economic reforms’; when its increasing population of dollar billionaires are panting to go forth and multiply their billions by raping the hinterlands of the country; when the state is itself eager to role back measures like the PDS and to massively fudge figures on poverty, even as prices of especially essential commodities continue to escalate and farmers continue to commit suicide; when ‘Islamic terror’ – that bogeyman that allowed the BJP to simultaneously terrorize the Muslim community as well as steamroll its own version of economic reforms through – has given way to the ‘red terror’ of ‘Maoism’ (after all, the Congress can’t be seen as anti-Islamic), but to the exact same end. While there may appear to be a kind of poetic irony in our own Chinese curse seeming to be Maoism, the not so poetic fact is that it is not the spectre of Maoism that haunts the land today but the multiple spectres of unbridled corporate capitalism, state collusion with and participation in this capitalist expansionism, the consequent and unprecedented assault on the lives and livelihoods of millions of tribals in the ‘infected’ areas. And the ideological cover for all this in our own brand of McCarthyism: OGH or ‘anti-Maoism’ (which is less of a mouthful than Chidambaramism, although that would probably be a more accurate term). (We shall for now not even touch upon the absurdity, in an ostensible democracy, of banning an ideology, as has happened with Maoism; who or what, we might well ask, even if we do not subscribe to this ideology, is being sought to be protected by this ban?)
The Indian state is, it seems, learning well from Joseph Goebbels and Joseph McCarthy; perhaps it will very soon look to Joseph Stalin’s Great Purge too. And it seems, the first to be purged from the metropolises will be the nuisances identified above: inconvenient intellectuals, university students and civil rights activists who will all be identified as ‘Maoists’ (never mind that they may actually be socialists, Gandhians, environmentalists or other such ‘beasts’) and removed from ‘shining India’. And once the intellectuals and activists and students are disposed of, Mr. P (Joseph?) Chidambaram will no doubt find an able ally in Mr. Kapil Sibal to ensure that they do not surface again – for the latter as we know, is already working hard to dismantle the higher education system and sack it off to private and foreign institutional interests – but that is another tale. Suffice it for now to reiterate that, thanks to Mr. Chidambaram and his ilk, we do indeed live in interesting times, and all the interest is accumulating in the pockets of our dollar billionaires.

P K Vijayan is Assistant. Professor, Department. of English, Hindu College, Delhi University.

11 March, 2010

My name is Ed. I’m a racist

ED KINANE
Uruknet.info

Alcoholics Anonymous knows that recovery requires acknowledging one’s illness; denial cripples recovery. What follows isn’t about drinking, but about a more cunning disease. Before I say more, I want to introduce myself: "My name is Ed. I’m a racist."

No, I’m not flaunting my bigotry, nor succumbing to guilt. I’m acknowledging that I’ve been deeply conditioned by a society permeated with racism. For a white person raised in the U.S., racism recovery demands persistent mindfulness. It’s the task of a lifetime.

Admitting you’re an alcoholic is hard; likewise admitting to racism. Conveniently, our standard notion of racism features behavior we avoid. We "know" we’re not racist because we shun ethnic slurs; we wince at the N-word.
The flipside of this (necessary but insufficient) standard is our widely held, but rarely examined, notion of anti-racism. Again, we "know" we’re anti-racist because, in my case for example, back in the eighties we organized against South African apartheid. Or because recently we contributed to Haiti earthquake relief.

But such notions of racism/anti-racism don’t go deep enough. It takes work to fathom racism’s breadth and subtlety and to perceive the social and economic forces fostering the de facto segregation that warps our social fabric.
Equally essential, we must recognize and resist the racism pervading U.S. foreign policy. The Pentagon’s current military adventures – whether in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen or Somalia — were foreshadowed, in the 19th century, by relentless Indian wars and by U.S. invasions of Mexico and the Philippines.

Financed by federal income taxes, this generations-old war machine has never had much use for the lives of peoples of color. It’s no accident that its numerous invasions and interventions invariably target non-white people.

*****

In my first 14 years of school I had only two black classmates; despite over 18 years of schooling I never had a black teacher. I was 19 before I had a personal conversation with a black person. My early college days were spent in a lovely ivy enclave set off by walls and rent-a-cops from the black and brown ghetto at its gate.

Demoralized by the irrelevance of my courses, I dropped out. Thanks not only to family connections, but also to the sixties building boom in my hometown, I could work construction. In Syracuse’s 15th Ward, "urban renewal" drove thousands of blacks out of what was becoming prime real estate. The forced relocation demolished a vibrant black ghetto.

Despite that boom, few blacks could break into the construction trades; there wasn’t a single black in our union local. None of us challenged the arrangement. Forty-five years later not much has changed here: few black contractors can bid on even modest building jobs.

It’s no wonder that in the early eighties when I hitchhiked through South Africa, it seemed like home. And last spring when I spent a month in Israel and the Occupied Territories, that European colony also felt like home. [See my July ’09 Peace Newsletter article, "Life in the Bubble: At Home in the Israeli Settler State."]

Basic to these segregated societies and to our militarism is what poet Adrienne Rich calls solipsism. In philosophy solipsism is the theory that the self is the only reality: you exist only as a figment of my imagination.
Rich speaks, in particular, of white solipsism: a cultural egoism, which assumes — quite unconsciously — that only white history or discovery or suffering or interests have merit and standing. Most white folks — whether in South Africa or Israel or here — grow up in white neighborhoods going to white schools and consuming white-controlled media. This is how we internalize white "reality."

For many of us the solipsism that denies or demeans or destroys did not originate with racism. It began, historically and personally, before we were exposed to ethnic diversity. While being molded for roles defined by gender, boys acquire the parallel male solipsism of a patriarchal culture. Sexism precedes racism, grinding the lens that makes our racist outlook second nature. Sexist behavior provides an ongoing rehearsal for our racist performance.

When we were young we had little control over our enculturation and so weren’t to blame for such tunnel vision. But now that we’re grown, we are responsible for the kinds of callousness and exclusivity we choose to honor. Many of us eagerly — or obliviously — float along the mainstream that invalidates the lives of people of color. Their labor and their living conditions, their needs and their pain, their gifts and their rights, are systematically negated, rendered invisible, rendered mute.

*****

White solipsism helps explain the foreign policy double standard which regards only political violence aimed at whites as "terrorism." Since World War II few whites have been victims of aerial warfare: no wonder few here see such warfare as the cowardly terrorism it is.

Although the pundits glibly link "terrorism" to Islam, they never call Congress or Bush/Clinton/Bush/Obama terrorist when they squander billions invading Islamic oil lands or when (say) U.S. drone aircraft assassinate those resisting the invasion and occupation. Or when those unmanned drones kill civilians willy-nilly.

In the moral calculus of white America the tens — maybe hundreds — of thousands of slain Iraqis or Afghans barely exist. Even we who actively oppose U.S. militarism in West Asia and the Mid East often ignore the racism at its heart.

To overcome our "isms," we could curb our over-consumption and our over-eager embrace of privilege. We could shed our patterns of exclusivity, bursting the bubble of self-reinforced segregation. We could withhold and re-direct our federal taxes – without which U.S. militarism would soon exhaust itself.
Through cross-cultural study and solidarity work we could better understand the human condition – especially that of the huge majority of our species who aren’t white, who aren’t affluent, who don’t blackmail the globe with aerial warfare and nuclear terror.

Ed Kinane worked in Iraq with Voices in the Wilderness before, during and after "Shock and Awe." Reach him at: edkinane@verizon.net.

Courtesy: Countercurrents

10 March, 2010

Gender Gap: Where does India stand?

As we rejoice over the historic Rajya Sabha vote on the women’s reservation bill, let us spare a moment to find out where India stands in the matter of gender justice.

The World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap report for 2009 places India at 114th place, one point down from the previous year – which, Katha Pollitt points out in an article published in the Nation, puts us pretty close to Iran and Pakistan, not to mention Chad and Yemen.

Want to know who tops the list with the least gender gap?
For the answer, please see Katha Pollitt’s article available at the Countercurrents site.

Human Rights as a way of life

SHULAMITH KOENIG
Founding President
People’s Movement for Human Rights Learning


For twenty years, we (PDHRE, the People’s Movement for Human Rights Learning) have worked to understand the value and meaning of the holistic vision and practical mission of human rights to ordinary people's daily lives. For that purpose we developed materials and facilitated seminars and conferences throughout the world, convinced that all women men, youth and children need to know human rights as a way of life, as a strategy for economic social and human development.

Through the United Nations we initiated international public policy and a worldwide call for human rights education. At the time we used the term EDUCATION as underscoring a process of internalizing human rights. These efforts culminated in the United Nations declaring a Decade for Human Rights Education, with the hope and expectation that it would spur action by groups and organizations at the community level to have people learn human rights as a way of life and act upon it,.

The Vienna Human Rights Confronter in 1993, was an important step in reiterating the universality, indivisibility, interconnectedness, and interrelatedness of human rights and bringing forth the imperative for Human Rights Education at all levels of society by the United Nations declaring a Decade for Human Rights Education.

I share these recollections with much joy and some sadness. it is clear that the “Decade” sought to end imposed ignorance about human rights. It spoke to the fact that people, for whom human rights were created, did not know about them. The UN called on a multitude of groups and organizations to integrate in their work, and add to their agenda human rights learning. (At the time we used the term “education,” and are now using 'learning” as the aim was and still is for people to participate in such learning as integral to developing democracies as delivery systems of human rights.)

I will never forget the young policemen who came to monitor a meeting in Kenya who half way through the opening session, called out: “If this is human rights, come and teach it in my village!” There was nothing more encouraging than this one man internalizing the holistic vision of human rights... --Asserting again and again, that all people in all villages, towns, and cities around the world must know human rights as a way of life. We believe that all people really KNOW human Rights and spontaneously move away form humiliation. If this is true we must take the responsibility for moving this knowledge from the dormant stage to the power of knowledge .. We call this LEARNING! – trust and respect in ad of of the learner.

We make a very clear distinction between human rights education and human rights learning, and unless we understand human rights as powerful tool in the hands of people, everywhere, anywhere in the world, human rights will stay captive in the hands of experts, teachers, and professionals, mostly top down and informational, and will not find its way from the vertical to the horizontal to be meaningful to people’s daily lives those for whom the human rights framework was created.

Betty Reardon, a member of our group, who is a world renowned peace educator, has given us a succinct explanation of the difference between “Human Rights Education” and “Human Rights Learnring”. And this is what she says:
"The basic distinction between human rights education and human rights leanring is between education and learning." The word "education" has been co-opted by those who determine what is to be taught, to whom and how it is to be taught, not just by the schools , but any authority who has control over information. The purpose of education is usually to get people to believe what and think as the "education authorities" want them to. Learning has not yet been so co-opted. Learning can still be what happens in those who are presented with ideas, issues, values, queries about problems, and through reflection, analysis, assessment and evaluation come to understand and hold independent ideas about their societies and as much of the world as they "learn" about. Education has become mainly input. If it has any authentic output it is learning, but mainly it is socialization to conformity and indoctrination in the dominant value system . Authentic learning happens in and at the will of the learner. Human Rights learning is more consistent than Human Rights education with the fundamental purpose of human rights concepts and standards, making it possible for all persons to realize their full human dignity.

It begins with assuming the rights of the learners to decide themselves what they will believe and develops means through which the learners can acquire information while forming their own opinions and determining their own course of action about the issues of concern to them. (There are still some places in which education is centered on learning, but few. Education at least provides basic information. For the reflective who can resist indoctrination, it can be the beginning of learning. And where people have none of the tools of acquiring information, it is better than nothing) However, in the absence of authentic human rights learning people will not be able to achieve their full dignity . Education may provide information abut human rights m but it will not necessary enable learners to develop the capacity and the motivation to fully realize them.

This statement captures the guiding spirit of the work we do around the world and this is what hangs in the balance between human rights education and human rights learning.

To make a strong argument and demonstrate the viability of Human Rights Learning at the community level --as an imperative--, we have been facilitating over the last 10 years, all over the world, the development of Human Rights Cities Twenty Human Rights Cities are in progress now , developing and implementing ways and means for all the inhabitants to know human rights as a way of life. In the learning process they adapt laws, policies, budgets and relationships to advance dignity and well being in the community. These “cities” are learning ‘pilot projects’ for all to analyze, evaluate and learn how neighborhood by neighborhood, organizations and groups, step by step, join to map the future of their community as part of the learning and acting process. .

We live in a world where a multitude of organizations work to solve the enormous problems humanity is facing one project at the time in a compartmentalized way. However we are convinced that the practical human rights framework if known and internalized by women and men at the community level holds the promise for meaningful, positive change. A Human Rights City is where local groups and organizations, those attending to a larger range of social and economic justice issues in the city, join to learn about human rights as relevant to their daily lives. Forming into a Steering Committee they develop learning programs throughout the city, encouraging people to participate in the decision that determine their lives. The learners join in critical thinking to examine the differences between symptoms and causes of concerns such as violence against women, poverty, and lack of clean water, education, food and employment- to mention a few such concerns.

This experiences led us to define the community educators who is involved in the process as follows:

“A human rights educator is a person, a woman or a man, who is capable of evoking critical thinking and systemic analysis with gender perspective, people learning about political, civil, economic, social, and cultural concerns, guided by the human rights frame work that leads to action.” – tis is what goes on day in and day out in the human rights cities.

I will never forget another instance when the head of the police academy in the Human Rights City, Rosario, Argentina, said to me as he was reflecting on a seminar with the police : “I have learned that there is no other option but human rights.”

Along side the recent 60th Anniversary of UDHR, the “Elders” led by Nelson Mandela, put out a call, “all HUMANS have RIGHTS.” I sent them a note asking them, “But do the humans know it?” ---They don’t.

At the forthcoming conference I suggest that we discuss the differences between human rights education and human rights learning, These are two distinct aspirations and actions and must be understood as such and live side by side, acknowledging that it is human rights learning at the community level, which stands a chance to make the difference in people’s lives. That human rights learning which includes intensive dialogue will focus on the realization of human rights to overcome violation, to chart their lives from a realization point of view, and thus overcome violations.

Educators , community leaders, sociologists and political economists around the world need to join in nationally and regionally in discussions, investigation, analysis and planning of how to start the process of Human Rights Learning in their community as succinctly relevant to people’s lives with in their culture and aspirations , to be guided by the holistic framework of human rights.

This is not an easy task. To give it momentum and political will, the government of Benin, brought forth a United Nations Resolution for the International Year of Human Rights Learning. This International Year – now in progress – will hopefully start a worldwide process, locally, nationally, regionally, and internationally.

A lot of thinking must be undertaken to enforce political will and public policy to usher this process each one of us in our communities. . It must be done in a locally, well-thought-out practice to identify ways and means to bring forth the meaning and the relevance of non compartmentalized societal development. Human Rights learning through a powerful, viable, creative, thoughtful commitment to have in 10-15 years all people, wherever there are, know human rights as preventive medicine, as traffic regulation, as joining to build the banks of the river, in which life can flow freely.

Our experience in more than 60 grassroots communities around the world demonstrates clearly that in the learning there is a need to distinguish between symptoms, such as violence against women and/or poverty, and causes such as patriarchy and the lack of a viable economic infrastructure. By analyzing causes, the world stands to bring about economic and social justice, step by step towards freedom from fear and need.
To see the reaction of people when they learn that food education housing, health and work at livable wages are their human rights is overwhelming. ..--learning from them of how to relearn and re imaging the vitality and meaning of human rights over and over again .

We must stand up to our responsibility and develop more and more community learning programs as a life line, a universal, now missing, support system. Let us do all we can to identify community leaders who will learn about human rights and, each in his or her locality, find the ways and means to engage their community in the learning and dialogue process, so that all will know human rights as a way of life. We have no other option.

Shulamith Koenig, Founding President of PDHRE, was recipient of the 2003 United Nations Human Rights Award

For information about PDHRE publications, work and future collaboration you are invited to browse at www.pdhre.org and/or write to pdhre@igc.org

Courtesy: Countercurrents

09 March, 2010

Sedition charge against woman scientist

Kavita Krishnan (kavitakrish73@gmail.com) ) of the All India Progressive Women’s Association writes:

The Karnataka police has charged Dr. Rati Rao, Vice President of All India Progressive Women’s Association and PUCL-Karnataka, who is a senior scientist and activist with many decades of standing in the women's movement, the civil liberties movement, and campaigns against communal violence and caste atrocities, with sedition.

An FIR filed against her implies that in Karnataka, defending secularism, opposing atrocities against Dalits and minorities or fake encounters, and organizing marginalizsed communities for struggle amount to 'sedition.'

If you would like to sign an online petition demanding withdrawal of the charge against Dr. Rati Rao, please go to http://www.petitiononline.com/RatiRao/petition.html.

Why Indian Americans should pay attention to the Census

INDER SINGH
Siliconeer

Quick question: If you are not a U.S. citizen, do you need to participate in the upcoming census? If your answer is a confident no, let me assure you that you are wrong.

The decennial census counts everybody who currently resides in the United States. What if you have immigration issues? Not a problem. The U.S. Census Bureau, which is under the U.S. Department of Commerce, does not deal with immigration, nor does it share any information with the immigration authorities, who fall under the purview of the U.S. Department of Justice.

The upshot of all this is that everyone can participate in the forthcoming U.S. census, and what’s more important there is no excuse not to participate.

For the rest of the article, please go to NAM site

07 March, 2010

Meghalaya groups opt out of Women's Day

Women’s organizations in the state of Meghalaya are calling for boycott of Women’s Day as a mark of protest against the insensitive and slanderous comments of Deputy Chief Minister Bindo Lanong.

On February 18, 2010 the National Commission for Women held a conference on Women’s Empowerment at Shillong, which was attended by several women activists and interested individuals. The Deputy Chief Minister, in his speech, portrayed women of Meghalaya as highly empowered, although he conceded there were stray cases of violence against them.

An activist asked if women were so empowered in the state why were statistics of vulnerability, discrimination, violence and abuse against women so high? If women were so empowered why was it that Meghalaya never had a woman chief minister?

Irked by these comments, the minister’ put aside his prepared speech. Heated arguments followed.

A crisp article by Patricia Mukhim, a noted political commentator and activist, came out the following day in the Shillong Times. It depicted ground realities of women’s position in Meghalaya’s matrilineal society. She pointed out the indifference of politicians and the power
structure in dealing with various women’s issues.

The next day Bindo Lanong called a press conference. He attacked the newspaper
article and likened the writer to a poisonous seinpuh (snake) which destroys everything around it with its venom.

In Meghalaya, this is an extremely derogatory term. He used the same term also in respect of activists who opposed his views. His comments imply that the opinions of outspoken and articulate women of Meghalaya are detrimental to the society.

There followed was a series of internal and formal meetings amongst women’s groups. It was decided that Women’s Day should not be celebrated as usual. Instead it should be marked as a day of protest and disapproval against the Minister’s apparent insensitivity towards women, which, we fear, has and will further impinge on the implementation of pro-women schemes and state policies. To us, good governance is the critical issue and indifferent leaders cannot bring positive changes for women in this state, even with pro-women policies. Thus, Women's Day, which we have always celebrated with hope will be used, this time, as a tool to express our solidarity. We believe collective strength of women at this hour should be articulated to call for state accountability over women's issues in Meghalaya. A public apology by Lanong over his vehement remarks against women would be appreciated.

We feel we should share this with you and hope that women’s organizations, wherever they are, will add a statement about our concern when they organize meetings/gatherings on March 8 in different parts of the country. WIll be great if this mail can go to other parts of India to your friends and women's groups.

In solidarity,

Agnes Kharshiing, President, Civil Society Women’s Organization, Meghalaya

Aruna Biswa
, President, Meghalaya United Women’s Welfare Organization, Meghalaya
Maryanne Pohshna, Jaintia Yuva Federation, Women’s Wing, Meghalaya

Monisha Behal
, North East Network, Meghalaya.

(Received through Human Rights Movements network)

06 March, 2010

Naxalism: Spectre of people’s movements

PRABHAT SHARAN
MEDIA PRAXIS / The Verdict

A spectre is haunting Europe — the spectre of communism. All the powers of old Europe have entered into a holy alliance to exorcise this spectre: Pope and Tsar, Metternich and Guizot, French Radicals and German police-spies. (Manifesto of the Communist Party: 1848)

Now, again a spectre is haunting. The region is Indian sub-continent and the spectre is of people’s movements. All the exploitative powers in the Indian sub-continent have come together to pulverize the resistance movements.

movements soaked in anger against the usurious usurpation of forests, hills, rivers and ocean waters, movements voicing protest against the destruction of the livelihood and autocratic attempts to transmogrify lives into that of zombies trapped in internal diasporia in alienation saturated heterotopias-- are simmering and glimmering and igniting fire in the minds of the oppressed people across the country.

Roiling with contained anger at the revisiting of colonial history with a new face, the deep hinterlands of the Indian sub-continent is once again witnessing the explosion and implosion not seen since late Sixties when the peasants and tribal uprising shook the entire Indian peninsula.

Spontaneous and peaceful in nature with stray incidents of a cornered-retaliatory violence- the movements like in the Sixties when the sub-human conditions of tribal folks and landless labourers came to fore following the revolt, at the dawn of the new millennium the protests are revealing the rapacious Medusa locks of corporate greed.

The result-even as the wild life on land, air and sea are fast disappearing from the country - the Indian State in a bid to keep the memories of the creatures of the wild alive and as an apology to Nature, are churning out forces like-Octopus, Cobras, Scorpions, Tigers (with green stripes) Cats of all hues and shades, Grey Hounds, Mastiffs, Wolves, Vipers, Black Mamba etc.
If by any chance the Indian Home Ministry exhausts the zoological who’s who in their war against the people’s resistance, then the readers and viewers of the corporate establishment media may soon read and hear eulogised announcements of forces with names like Vampires, Draculas, Aadamkhors-all with a sole purpose- to crush people’s movements and usurp the land, rivers and oceans, for corporate houses.

After all there is gold in the hills and pearls of profits in water. Indian sub-continent is witnessing what the American sub-continent witnessed in 19th century-the Gold Rush. The country is the 21st century El Dorado for the western world and their Indian lackeys. And like in the past when the imperialist forces decimated the American natives, the history is being re-enacted in India.

Describing the devastation during the Gold Rush, Rawls, James J. and Orsi, Richard J. in their book “A golden state: mining and economic development in Gold Rush California,” write, “The human and environmental costs of the Gold Rush were substantial. Native Americans dependent on the health and bounty of the natural environment, became the victims of starvation and disease when it suffered from the effects of placer mining (or the later, even more damaging, hydraulic mining), as gravel, silt and toxic chemicals from prospecting operations killed fish and destroyed habitats. The surge of mining population also resulted in the disappearance of game and food gathering locales as gold camps and other settlements were built amidst them, causing the forests to be cut down and domestic animals put to graze on the land. Later farming spread to supply the camps, taking more land from the use of Native Americans. Starvation often provoked the Native tribes to steal or take by force food and livestock from the whites, increasing white hostility and provoking retaliation against them.

“The Act for the Government and Protection of Indians passed on April 22, 1850 by the California Legislature, allowed settlers to continue the Californio practice of capturing and using Native people as bonded workers. It also provided the basis for the enslavement and trafficking in Native American labor, particularly that of young women and children, which was carried on as a legal business enterprise. Native American villages were regularly raided to supply the demand, and young women and children were carried off to be sold, the men and remaining people often being killed in genocidal attacks.” The same dance of death reduced the African continent from lush green land of plentiful to a bleached, gnarled bones, with its people now dying in hunger and women opening their legs for a loaf of bread to feed their children and themselves.

The countries in this continent, reduced to the darkest darkness of a black hole, emerge at the dawn only to disappear in the twilight of gun fires; and this blood-soaked melee of power, hunger and survival rake in profits for the corporate dictators strutting around as peddlers of “democracy and development.”

The same screenplay is being played out in Indian sub-continent. Not that Indian sub-continent had not seen the imperialist invasion and greed earlier, but then the battle-lines were not so obfuscated, as it is now. The script that is being played out in the forests is more insidious.

The forested regions are home to some of the oldest communities of India, described variously as adivasi (aboriginal), vanvasi (forest dwellers), girijan (people of the hills) and after the transfer of power in 1947, the Indian constitution under a façade of benevolence brought them under a collective name of “Scheduled Tribes.”

What the powers of the State had forgotten is the history of struggle and resistance by tribes who are no strangers to displacement. The Godavari hills still reverberate with the sound of the drums when tribes of Koya and Reddy opposed the British colonial oppression.

Similarly, for the Santhal resistance, a British officer remarked in his journal: “The one piece of equipment they did not have among their meagre possessions was a white flag.”

The scene today is also the same. Raising the white flag is not an option for the Chenchu of the southern Tiger Hills, the Gond of the central Adilabad, the Gadrchiroli, the Moraya and Dorla Koya of Chhattisgarh, or the Dongri Khond of Orissa who lead a simple life not very different from their stone-age ancestors.

Though overtly there seems to be nothing that would attract the predators from the corporate houses, but then like in the 19th century American continent, or in Africa, the adivasis are sitting on a cornucopia which they can jingle their insatiable money vaults.

According to a research report, “a conservative list includes bauxite in Orissa, Iron ore in Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand states, and deposits of uranium, limestone, marble, dolomite, tin, graphite, copper, gold, diamonds, corundum, beryl, alexandrite and fluorite, and possibly coal in addition to teak, hardwood, bamboo, waters of several rivers, wildlife and fish. The bauxite deposits alone have been estimated to be worth between US$2-4 trillion. “

This El Dorado which the pirates from the multinationals are eyeing, stretches approximately 10,000 kilometres encompassing uncharted dense forests known locally as Abhujmad (unknown forests) cutting across states like Chhattisgarh, Orissa, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh.
And in the language of the government, the corporate establishment media and self-proclaimed “security” experts, the stretch is the “red corridor”, “red zone” or “Maoist stronghold”.

Of course, the tribes are not the only one who inhabit this stretch, along with them living on the fringes are petty traders, police and forest departments and guerrillas termed as “Naxalites”, “extremists”, “Maoists” or the self-described armed squads of the Communist party of India-Maoist.
The Maoist party, which is one of the biggest factions of the so-called Naxalite parties, is reportedly known for sabotage activities, arbitrary violence, sometimes amounting to barbaric brutality.

But for the State this brand of Naxalism has come as a boon and a bogey to launch a war against the tribes, ironically under the name Operation Green Hunt. A hunt to throw out the natives from the forests and hand it over to the corporate for ravaging and pillaging.

The scale of pillaging operations can be seen from the fact that a small state like Jharkhand has signed 90 memorandum of understanding (MoU) with various big plundering houses. The now tainted chief minister of the state once lauded by the corporate media, was found in possession of 1 billion $. Till date no enquires have been made as to who were the beneficiaries who paid these monies.

With Operation Green Hunt being planned as long drawn protracted armed campaign, every vested interest in the region wants to perpetuate the violence and since such armed conflict grants enormous powers to extract bribes shady activities like poaching and logging has abounded.

The State in its indifference to environment or the natives want to install power plants, open cast mines, highways, airstrips and of course generate employment for the tribal folk as measly-paid security guards or sweat shop workers and prop up some of the folk as quisling collaborators.

But not everybody wants to be a quisling collaborator. Struggles in Nandigram, Singur, Plachimada and other places have shown that people’s resistance call them Naxalism or by any other name, cannot be suppressed and it is this spectre which is haunting the State and Corporate predators alike in the post-recession period since even the uneasy squeamish urban populace is fast losing faith in the Friedman economics.

Prabhat Sharan is a Senior Journalist and Editor of MEDIA PRAXIS a monthly magazine published from Mumbai. He can be contacted at verdictweekly@gmail.com

Courtesy: Countercurrents

05 March, 2010

International Women's Day solidarity resolution - March 8, 2010

DR. V. MOHINI GIRI
Chairperson
Guild of Service

A century after that first call for an International Women’s Day, on this March 8th we remember the second International Conference of Socialist Women held at Copenhagen in 1910 where Clara Zetkin, great pioneer of the socialist women’s movement proposed that women throughout the world should focus on a particular day each year to press for their demands. We remember those 100 women from 17 countries, representing unions, socialist parties, working women's clubs, who supported Zetkin's resolution that read “the Socialist women of all countries will hold each year a Women's Day, whose foremost purpose it must be to aid the attainment of women's suffrage. This demand must be handled in conjunction with the entire women's question according to Socialist precepts. The Women's Day must have an international character.”

We remember the first celebration of International Women’s Day in 1911 in the words of the revolutionary Alexandra Kollontai about its observance in Germany, “one seething trembling sea of women. ..Men stayed home with their children for a change and their wives, the captive housewives, went to meetings.”

On this March 8th, we remember that many of the issues that dominated the early years of the International Women’s Day movement, - the fight for universal suffrage for women, the fight against war, the fight for social security and care for mother and child, the fight against price rises are still part of the movement today. From the demand for suffrage we have moved forward to the demand for representation. For the rest, we need to remember that they remain with us because the system that keeps them alive has still to be brought down. It is for this struggle that the great banner of Women’s Day continues to call for solidarity, assertion of rights, and that driving force of militant struggle. For we cannot forget the latent power of March 8th etched forever in history on that most famous March 8th of 1917, when women in Petrograd went on strike demanding Bread and Peace, a strike that heralded a revolution and an end to the oppressive Tsarist rule in Russia. It is with the memory and striving of that great force that we continue to carry the message of March 8th each year. Not as ritual, not as mere formalistic observance, not as slaves to empty rhetoric, but as a day to press forward for women’s rights.

On this March 8th, we reiterate the commitment of the International Women’s Day movement to peace and against war. From India we send our message of international solidarity to women fighting against imperialist aggressions and wars. If the first years of the International Women’s Day raised the banner of peace against world war imposed by rivalry within imperialist powers, we today raise the banner of peace against the concert of war by imperialist powers and its renewed attempt at neo-colonial domination.

On this March 8th, as women of India, a country that leads the world in hunger, we demand a universal right to be free of hunger and food deprivation. We demand food security as part of a basic right to life. We demand employment and the right to livelihood. We demand the right to a life free of violence within and outside the home.

In all corners of the country, women are today concerned, frightened and angry at the tremendous increase in prices of food. Almost two decades of neo-liberal policies - of deliberate wrecking of the public distribution system, of withholding of food stocks while millions remained hungry, of imposing flawed and arbitrary divisions into BPL and APL thus depriving millions of the poor from access to cheap foodgrain, of cutbacks in state investment in agriculture, of tardy and inadequate price protections to farmer producers and of pushing them into export crops dependent on the vagaries of international markets – have all resulted in increasing levels of hunger and an erosion of the self sufficiency in food production that was one of the primary objectives of decolonization. Experience has shown that cutbacks in subsidies to Indian farmers have only resulted in the government paying higher prices to multi-national agribusiness companies for imports required to meet the needs of the country, and rising prices for common people. This year we have been promised the enactment of a National Food Security Act, although in the Union budget, food subsidy has been reduced by over Rs. 400 crore, and the fertiliser subsidy cut by Rs. 3000 crore. The bill that has been proposed by the Government seeks to confine the entitlement to families with BPL cards, and to 25 kg of rice or wheat a month at Rs. 3 a kg. Today a family with an Antyodaya card is entitled to 35 kg of wheat at Rs. 2 a kg, paying Rs. 70 a month. If the Food Security Act is implemented in its present form, this sum will rise to Rs.75 and the family will get 10 kg less of subsidised foodgrain. On this March 8th, we demand that the allotment of 35 kg should not be cut to 25 kg in the Food Security Act. We demand that the entitlement of Antyodaya families to receive wheat at Rs. 2 a kg be continued. We demand that the benefits of a mandated food security framework be made universal and not confined to those who have a BPL card. At a time when controlling the rise in prices of food has become the most urgent need of the day, we demand withdrawal of the proposed increases in the price of petrol and diesel.

In a context of growing food insecurity, more and more women are in search of employment. If in the 1990s rural women were hardest hit by growing unemployment leading to a drastic fall in their work participation rates, in the first decade of the 21st century, increasing unemployment rates can be seen among both rural and urban women. Where open unemployment rates increased in the first half decade of this century from 1.5 per cent to 3.1 in rural areas, among urban women it increased from 7.1 to 9.1 per cent. It needs to be remembered that in our country, these open unemployment rates hide the much larger proportions of workers who might be able to find employment for just a few days in the year or are forced to accept incomes below subsistence, especially among the 96 per cent of women workers who are unorganized workers. Nor does it include the army of unpaid workers who are counted as employed. While NREGA has offered some relief to rural women in search of work, insufficient financial allocations, delayed payments, unrealistic task targets and financial irregularities have been subverting rural women workers’ entitlements. The problem of urban women’s unemployment has remained unaddressed and we demand employment guarantee for women in both rural and urban areas at minimum wages.

Addressing issues of food security and work and livelihood are critical necessities for providing a safe environment for women to access their rights and entitlements. Even as the movement has pushed for better laws for women, the implementation of existing laws such as against Dowry and the more recent Domestic Violence Act, as well as PCPNDT Act to check sex selective abortions leave a lot of scope for improvement. As of now, existing provisions as per these laws are not being implemented and those guilty of violations continue to go scot free. More recent incidents of violence have pointed to the critical need to bring in new legislation as well as amendments to address issues of sexual assault and sexual harassment. While recent pronouncements by government have accepted the need for speedy trials and fast track courts the urgent issue of definitions of assault continue to be evaded even as government took speedy measures to propose amendments which have effectively diluted provisions with regard to crimes against women over the last one year.

In addition to violence at home, we note that the biggest threat to women’s participation in the democratic process comes from the forces perpetuating terror, and inflicting violence on women in multiple ways. This has to be countered. Moreover, growing attacks on women in conflict situations, including by state agencies continue to be a matter of concern. Be it in Kashmir or the North East, the Armed Forces have shown scant respect for the civil rights of the people of these states, least of all the women. Women continue to be made the target of attack in caste and religion based violence as also in situations of ethnic and political conflict, as well as state violence.

It is imperative that women are not made victims of false notions of ‘honour’ and that those responsible for implementing and upholding the law not be allowed to walk away free even as they collude in its violation in their respective areas of jurisdiction. Further, self-proclaimed proponents of the moral brigade inflict their views and retrogressive notions on all and sundry enjoying immunity from the law even as the social climate gets vitiated by their acts of violence as per fundamentalist prescripts.
We demand that existing provisions with regard to violence and crimes against women be implemented. The definition of crimes be expanded to effectively address the lacunae that exist in the law and that state agencies be made more accountable for violations that occur.

On this the 100th anniversary of March 8th, we, the national women’s organizations and groups fighting for equal rights and gender justice resolve to continue the fight against imperialism, and terrorist violence. We resolve to strengthen the struggle for food security, right to work, and women’s rights to a life without violence. We call on all peace loving forces to unite against war, and for a just, humane and equal society.

04 March, 2010

Attack on Christians in Punjab: Fact-finding report

The following is a summary of the report issued by the fact-finding team of the All India Christian Council (aicc) on incidents that occurred in Batala and other places in Punjab between February 18 and 21, 2010:

Attempted Murders

The Punjab police are hiding the fact that Sangh Parivar-led hoodlums in Batala tried to burn five Christians alive. The Christians were from two families who live in the Church of North India’s historic Church of the Epiphany compound built in 1865.

Batala is a small business town in Punjab’s Gurdaspur district. On February 20th, the CNI church was set on fire and all its furniture burnt. Attempts were made to destroy a nearby Salvation Army church, raised in 1958. The pastor was seriously injured. “We pleaded with the police to help, but they did not,” said the pastor, Maj. Gurnam Singh.

Even as the larger group of attackers focused on burning the CNI church, a group of men armed with sticks and rods came to the CNI Deacon’s house. The deacon, Victor Gill, and his wife Parveen, hid themselves under the bed. The assailants damaged the doors, tried to enter the room forcibly, and told the couple they would be burnt alive if they did not come out.

At a second CNI house, the group overturned a scooter, took out the petrol, and doused teacher Christopher Morris and his daughter Daisy with the fuel while the mother, Usha, cringed in their home. They tried to set the two on fire, but the matchbox had also been soaked in the petrol and despite three attempts to strike a match, the matchsticks would not ignite. This saved the family from being burnt alive. The police were watching. The fire brigade came later but was blocked by a mob for quite some time.

Police Bias


No police report has been filed on the attempted murders even as the top police and administrative officers enforced a one-sided “peace accord” on the local Christian leadership. Christians were instructed not to press charges immediately so that a number of Christian youth who were arrested – along with a few Hindu men – could be released.
The strategy of the assailants was eerily reminiscent of what was practised and perfected against churches in Orissa in 2008.

Police forcibly cleaned up the Church of the Epiphany. They removed burnt furniture and made the presbyter whitewash the walls to remove traces of fuel oil used in the blaze. This was done before a formal enquiry could be conducted by the government.

Background on Violence

The Christians, all of them of Dalit origin, were trying to enforce a closure or "bandh" in Batala markets to protest a blasphemous picture of Jesus Christ holding a can of beer in one hand and a lit cigarette in another, which appeared on roadside banners to celebrate the Hindu "Ram Navami" festival. The banners were sponsored by a coalition of local political, media and business leaders, together with the trading community which is almost entirely Hindu.

The Sangh Parivar reacted to the Christian protest by mobilizing shopkeepers and youth in attacks that left many injured, two churches damaged, and the clergy traumatized. We noted that local shopkeepers routinely enforce closures e.g. a bandh during the last week of February to protest the execution of two Sikhs by the Taliban in Pakistan.

Timeline
16-17 February -- people noticed Jesus Christ image on banners, newspapers, posters
18 February -- Jalandhar protests; two people arrested for printing posters
19 February -- road protests in various villages, violence in Majitha
20 February -- Batala churches burnt; widespread violence
21 February -- police firing on Christian protesters in Tibbar village and others places; many arrested, injured; peace accord reached in Batala
22 February -- curfew partially lifted
23 February -- curfew completely lifted

Police Reaction


The police force was outnumbered and looked on during the violence. Despite intelligence reports of the Christian anger and the Hindutva plans to counterattack, the sub-divisional magistrate of Batala, Mr. Rahul Chaba, PCS, said he could not enforce a quick curfew until late on 20 February 2010 because most of the police force were sent to the Pakistani border nearby where Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram inaugurated a defence outpost. By the time the police returned and a curfew was imposed, violence had already occurred. The curfew was relaxed on 22 February 2010.

Results of Violence and Political Reaction

On February 21, protest rallies were held across the western districts of Punjab and in Chandigarh against the desecration of the churches. There were reports that police broke up protest meetings in villages with lathi charges and indiscriminate arrests. At present, there are no Christians or Hindus in police custody barring the printer and publisher of the banners.

On February 23, Punjab Chief Minister Sardar Prakash Singh Badal assured the aicc delegation’s head, Dr. John Dayal, aicc Secretary General and member, National Integration Council, that he viewed the matter seriously and has ordered officials to unravel the “entire conspiracy”. Dr. Dayal demanded a judicial enquiry into the incidents.

Part of Larger Religious Discrimination

At the last meeting of the National Integration Council in New Delhi on 13 October 2008 chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Dr. Dayal had personally briefed Mr. Badal on the tension brewing in the rural areas of western Punjab where tens of thousands of Christians, most of them of Dalit origin, live and are suffering from caste oppression and attacks on their freedom of religion. Church meetings are routinely denied permission and caste epithets are used against the Christians. The Chief Minister had promised to have the situation investigated and remedial action taken.

The recent incidents exposed the utter lack of Christian representation in the Punjab government. Less than half a dozen Christian leaders, many of them related to one another, hold positions in the Akali Dal, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), and the Indian National Congress. They have little connection with the masses living in villages, slums and poorly constructed ghettos outside some villages. Most live in the shadow of mansions owned by local Jat Sikhs with relatives living abroad or the trading classes. Class and caste barriers are clearly evident. In some villages, we were shocked to find Dalit Christians working under bonded labour conditions with family in brick kilns, and many employed in the fields during the sowing or harvesting season where they compete with cheaper labour from Bihar. The exception is Christians who have risen to high positions in academics, the military, and the Church, with one becoming a CNI bishop some years ago.

Punjab’s Christian population is around 300,000, about 1.2% of the state’s population, mostly concentrated in Amritsar and villages in west Punjab. The government is Akali-BJP coalition elected in February 2007.

Fact Finding Team Composition

The fact finding team included: Dr. John Dayal; Rev. Madhu Chandra, aicc Regional Secretary, Delhi; M. Adeeb, Human Rights Law Network lawyer; and Marang Hansda, aicc assistant.

They visited Jalandhar, Ludhiana, Amritsar, and Gurdaspur districts, including villages deep in the rural hinterland, and Chandigarh from February 22 to 25.
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The full fact finding report can be had from aicc Delhi office: aiccdelhi@gmail.com

03 March, 2010

Empire and oligarchy driving US into ever deepening corporate state

RALPH NADER
Nader.org

The twin swelling heads of Empire and Oligarchy are driving our country into an ever-deepening corporate state, wholly incompatible with democracy and the rule of law.

Once again the New York Times offers its readers the evidence. In its February 25, 2010 issue, two page-one stories confirm this relentless deterioration at the expense of so many innocent people.

The lead story illustrates that the type of massive speculation —casino capitalism, Business Week once called it— in complex derivatives is still going strong and exploiting the weak and powerless who pay the ultimate bill.
Titled “Banks Bet Greece Defaults on Debt They Helped Hide,” the article shocks even readers hardened to tales of greed and abuse of power. Here are the opening paragraphs: “Bets by some of the same banks that helped Greece shroud its mounting debts may actually now be pushing the nation closer to the brink of financial ruin.”

“Echoing the kind of trades that nearly toppled the American Insurance International Group /AIG/, the increasingly popular insurance against the risk of a Greek default is making it harder for Athens to raise the money it needs to pay its bills, according to traders and money managers.”

“These contracts, known as credit-default swaps, effectively let banks and hedge funds wager on the financial equivalent of a four-alarm fire: a default by a company, or in the case of Greece, an entire country. If Greece reneges on its debts, traders who own these swaps stand to profit.”
“It’s like buying fire insurance on your neighbor’s house—you create an incentive to burn down the house,” said Philip Gisdakis, head of credit strategy at UniCredit in Munich.

These credit-default swaps increase the dreaded “systemic risk” that proliferates until it lands on the backs of taxpayers, workers and savers who pay the price. And if Greece goes, Spain or Portugal or Italy may be next and globalization will eventually bring the rapacious effects of mindless speculation to our shores.

Greece got into financial trouble for a variety of reasons, but it was widely reported that Goldman Sachs and other big banks showed them, for generous fees, how to hide the country’s true financial condition. Avarice at work.
Note two points. These derivatives are contracts involving hundreds of billions of dollars and are essentially unregulated. These transactions are also essentially untaxed, unlike Europe’s value added tax on manufacturing, wholesale and retail purchases. The absence of government restraints produces unlimited predation.

As astute investors in the real economy have said, when money for speculation replaces money for investment, the real economy suffers and so do real people. Remember the Wall Street collapse of 2008 and who is paying for the huge Washington bailout.

The other story shows that the Presidency has become a self-driven Empire outside the law and unaccountable to its citizens. The Times reports “how far the C.I.A. has extended its extraordinary secret war beyond the mountainous tribal belt and deep into Pakistan’s sprawling cities.” Working with Pakistan’s counterpart agency, the C.I.A. has had some cover to do what it wants in carrying out “dozens of raids throughout Pakistan over the past year,” according to the Times.

“Secret War” has been a phrase applied numerous times throughout the C.I.A’s history, even though the agency was initially created by Congress right after World War II to gather intelligence, not engage in lethal operations worldwide.

Unrestrained by either Congress or the federal courts, Presidents say they can and do order their subordinates to go anywhere in the world, penetrate into any country, if they alone say it is necessary to seize and destroy for what they believe is the national security. American citizens abroad are not excluded. Above the law and beyond the law spells the kind of lawlessness that the framers of our constitution abhorred in King George and limited in our country’s separation of powers.

Because our founders would not tolerate the President being prosecutor, judge, jury and executioner, they placed the war-declaration and appropriations authorities in the Congress.

Both Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama believe they have unbridled discretion to engage in almost any overt or covert acts. That is a definition of Empire that flouts international law and more than one treaty which the United States helped shape and sign.

Equipped with remote and deadly technologies like drones flying over Pakistan and Afghanistan by operators in Nevada, many civilians have been slain, including those in wedding parties and homes. Still, it is taking 15,000 soldiers (U.S. and Afghan) with the most modern armaments to deal with three hundred Taliban fighters in Marja who with many other Afghans, for various motivations, want us out of their country. Former Marine Combat Captain Matthew Hoh described these reasons in his detailed resignation letter last fall.

Mr. Obama’s national security advisor, Ret. General James Jones estimated that there are about 100 Al Qaeda in Afghanistan with the rest migrating to other countries. And one might add, those whose migrate are increasing their numbers because they cast themselves as fighting to expel the foreign invaders.

So many capable observers have made this point: occupation by our military fuels insurgencies and creates the conditions for more recruits and more mayhem. Even Bush’s military and national security people have made this point.

The American people must realize that their reckless government and corporate contractors are banking lots of revenge among the occupied regions that may come back to haunt. We have much more to lose by flouting international law than the suicidal terrorists reacting to what they believe is the West’s state terrorism against their people and the West’s historical backing of dictatorships which oppress their own population.

American was not designed for Kings and their runaway military pursuits. How tragic that we have now come to this entrenched imperium so loathed by the founding fathers and so forewarned by George Washington’s enduring farewell address.

Where are “We the People”?

Courtesy: Countercurrents