South Asia Citizens Wire - 20 September 2012 - No. 2749
1. Nepal: Maoist's split and the long march backwards
2. Pakistan: State patronage for the Hijab? Why compete with Fundamentalists? (Tazeen Javed)
3. Pakistan worker’s 9/11 - massive factory fires of Karachi and Lahore - selected media reports, edits and statements by labour organisations
4. India: Suspend work at Koodankulam, talk to protesters - concerned citizens statement
5. Sri Lanka: Heard of a Sinhala Buddhist ’Khomeini’?
6. India: Armies of the Pure - the question of Indian fascism (Dilip Simeon)
7. India: Dirty Tricks of Special Cell of Delhi Police Revealed (JTSA)
8. India: Hindutva Chauvinism and Patriarchy in Gujarat (Archana Prasad)
9. India: Hurt sentiments unlimited everyday
- India: Class XI history textbook 'Themes in World History' in divine trouble
- No beef & pork festival in JNU campus: Delhi High Court
- Meghnad Desai’s take on Gita irks Bihar Religious Trust
10. No Spring for Arab Women: Interview with Marieme Helie Lucas
11. South Africa: Violated Hopes - A nation confronts a tide of sexual violence (Charlayne Hunter-Gault)
12. Anti-intellectualism is taking over the US (Patricia Williams)
13. Don't let internet video's drive you to violence: Tell your govt. not to nurture fundamentalist groups for short term gain
(i) Muslim Outrage and Western shock (As'ad AbuKhalil)
(ii) Peace Be Upon You: Internet videos will insult your religion. Ignore them (William Saletan)
1. NEPAL: MAOIST'S SPLIT AND LONG MARCH BACKWARDS (RECENT EDITORIALS)
(a) NEPAL: LONG MARCH, BACKWARDS
Editorial, The Hindu
June 20, 2012
The churning in Nepali politics has entered a new stage with a split in the Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist). Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda’s ideological mentor and senior leader, Mohan Vaidya ‘Kiran’, has walked away to form a new party. He was supported by four other major leaders, about one-third of the party’s central committee, and a segment of the former Maoist fighters who recently retired from cantonments. Kiran was in an Indian prison in 2005 when the Maoist party decided to engage with democratic parties against the monarchy, work with the Indian establishment and enter open politics. Even though it was precisely the success of this political line — advocated by Prachanda and Baburam Bhattarai — that ensured Kiran’s release, the latter never felt any ownership over the process. The peace agreement was based on a quid pro quo. The Maoists were considered a legitimate force, and their key demands — of elections to a Constituent Assembly and proclamation of a republic — were accepted. In return, the rebels gave up violence and agreed to integrate and rehabilitate the combatants of the ‘People’s Liberation Army’. Kiran and his supporters felt these compromises were tantamount to surrender. They put up impossible demands, pushed the line of ‘people’s revolt’, opposed India, flirted with royalists under the garb of ‘nationalism’, and were ambivalent about a democratic constitution. This gave ammunition to conservative parties and Indian security hardliners who used Kiran’s rhetoric to paint the entire Maoist party as one seeking to ‘capture the state’. The moderate Maoist leadership was squeezed between these extremes.
The split, while unfortunate, brings an end to the artificial unity of the Maoist party and was inevitable given the wide gulf. But in the immediate context, where the Constituent Assembly has expired without delivering a constitution and the country stares at a political-constitutional vacuum, it will complicate politics. Kiran’s party is expected to join the Nepali Congress and Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist Leninist) on the streets against the government. The new Maoist party has rejected elections, and kept open the option of resorting to ‘people’s revolt’ or even ‘people’s war’. Its core plank is a mix of ultra nationalism and ideological dogmatism. Its rhetoric and activities can only help the far-right forces and royalists who seek to undermine the gains of the 2005-06 people’s struggle. The need of the hour is a broad political consensus on framing a new constitution. By diverting attention from that crucial goal, Kiran and his ultra-left comrades have weakened the sacred cause of bringing progressive changes in Nepal’s state structure.
o o o
(b) WITH SO MANY UNFULFILLED ASPIRATIONS, THE RECENT DIVIDE IN THE MAOIST PARTY IN NEPAL IS DEPRESSING.
Editorial, Economic and Political Weekly, September 22, 2012
Tremendous hope coupled with so many unfulfilled aspirations had drawn the Nepali people to the Maoists, but their dreams now seem to be in the process of being prematurely shattered. Washington’s decision on 6 September to remove the Maoist party from its list of “terrorist organisations” had been on the anvil for the last two years, and it came just when the party seems no longer in a position to upset the status quo any further. The “two-line struggle”, underway within the Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) [UCPN(M)], reached a point earlier this year when the party’s central committee reconciled itself to the reality of “one party with two lines” and it was only a matter of time when the faction led by the party’s erstwhile vice-chairperson Mohan Baidya “Kiran” would form a new party, which it did on 19 June.
[. . .]
2. PAKISTAN: STATE PATRONAGE FOR THE HIJAB? WHY COMPETE WITH FUNDAMENTALISTS?
The Express Tribune, 18 September 2012
A woman’s clothing is her own business
by Tazeen Javed
The writer is an Islamabad-based freelance communications consultant. She tweets @tazeen and blogs at http://tazeen-tazeen.blogspot.com
Barring random news items and a few opinion pieces, the hijab debate has never really been part of the national narrative of Pakistan. Those who wanted to wear hijab/niqab/burqa wore it and those who preferred the traditional shalwar kameez and dupatta chose that without any problem. Unlike Saudi Arabia, Iran or Turkey, there never was governmental coercion or pressure on women to wear a particular type clothing or to ban them from wearing a particular type of clothing in state institutions. A woman’s clothing was her own business as it should be anywhere in the world. However, things are changing. With the celebration of the World Hijab Day, which had tacit approval of the government and the patronage of the first lady, Nusrat Pervaiz Ashraf, of the Hijab Conference organised by the Jamaat-e-Islami, things are moving in the direction where the state is turning partisan.
The first lady of Pakistan, during the aforementioned conference, exhorted Muslim women to wear a hijab, saying that women could do what they wanted as long as they respect the “limits set by Islam”.
The first lady’s speech encourages women to follow the limits set by Islam but no one can agree on what it entails; one school of thought believes that there should be no hindrance to anyone’s education — including women — while the other believes that women should only be allowed access to education if there are segregated educational institutions for them, right up to higher education. Another school of thought believes that women need no access to higher education as their true calling lies in maintaining a household and raising children. If the speech of the first lady is carefully viewed, perhaps, she supports the third version of ‘limits set by Islam’. In her speech, she urged women to strengthen the family unit, which she said was central to Islamic teachings. As if this was not all, she also deplored that Pakistani women were starting to forget how important family and hijab were.
For starters, there is no direct relationship between a woman’s hijab and her caregiving responsibilities towards her family. Secondly, Pakistani women have not forgotten how important family is for them. If anything, family interferes with their performance at work because of the overwhelming demands by families for their time. Thirdly, positioning hijab with better motherhood and a more fulfilled family life puts the women who do not wear hijab but are just as — if not more — concerned about their families, in an uncomfortable situation. If such views gain official state patronage, it can and will act against the women who do not abide by this particular view.
The first lady ended her speech by calling Fatima Jinnah and Benazir Bhutto “role models” for Pakistani women. However, she failed to point out that neither Benazir Bhutto nor Fatima Jinnah followed those particular limits she so favoured in her speech. Both Ms Bhutto and Ms Jinnah were highly educated women who studied with men; they did not limit themselves to raising children and families and had highly visible political careers. Ms Jinnah was so dedicated to her political career that she did not even marry and have a family of her own and Ms Bhutto was back in her office a fortnight after giving birth to her second child. Last but not the least, neither woman wore a hijab but favoured the traditional Pakistani dupatta.
There are many issues that plague Pakistani women that can do with the attention of the first lady; it would be advisable if she focuses on those issues instead of the hijab/dupatta debate.
3. PAKISTAN WORKER’S 9/11 - MASSIVE FACTORY FIRES OF KARACHI AND LAHORE - SELECTED MEDIA REPORTS, EDITS AND STATEMENTS BY LABOUR ORGANISATIONS
a) Fires at Karachi and Lahore factories kill more 310 people
b) Deadly Karachi blaze was ’waiting to happen’
c) Editorial : Karachi’s inferno
d) Statement on the press conference by labour leaders and trade union activists at Karachi Press Club on 12 September 2012
e) Statement by International Labor Rights Forum
4. INDIA: SUSPEND WORK AT KOODANKULAM, TALK TO PROTESTERS, URGE CONCERNED CITIZENS
The movement against the Koodankulam nuclear power project in Tamil Nadu has entered a new phase with a Jal-satyagraha following the repressive police action of September 10.
More than 120 eminent citizens from different walks of life have signed the following statement expressing solidarity with the protesters, and calling for serious engagement with them on vital issues of safety.
The signatories include former Chief of Naval Staff L Ramdas, former Cabinet Secretary TSR Subramanian and former Planning Commission member SP Shukla, former Atomic Energy Regulatory Board chairman A Gopalakrishnan, former Chief Justice of Delhi High Court AP Shah, former Ambassador to the United Nations Nirupam Sen, scientists PM Bhargava, D Balasubramaniam, Satyajit Rath, MV Ramana and Suvrat Raju, social scientists Romila Thapar, Sumit and Tanika Sarkar, Rajeev Bhargav, Amit Bhaduri, Manoranjan Mohanty, Gyanendra Pandey, Achin Vanaik and Zoya Hasan, writers Adil Jussawalla, Arundhati Roy and Arvind Krishna Mehrotraq, dancer Leela Samson, artists Ghulam Shaikh, SG Vasudev, Vivan Sundaram and Sheba Chhachhi, and many other scholars and social activists such as Vandana Shiva, Aruna Roy and Ashish Kothari.
5. SRI LANKA: HEARD OF A SINHALA BUDDHIST ’KHOMEINI’?
The present Rajapaksa regime proves, extremist forces consisting of Sinhala Buddhist political elements and the Sinhala business and trader community that helped prop this government, do not allow such rule of law, social justice and democracy for all. During the past few years, during the war and post war years, this regime has basically numbed social structures that could take dissenting positions and established an authoritarian State, entrenching the Sinhala armed forces in civil life, in satisfying the Sinhala politics that back the regime. The all powerful Executive President has been given the Constitutional right to continue through any number of terms, provided he or she could nudge voters to do what he or she wishes. This whole process was justified by war based Sinhala sentiment and was backed by extremist forces in the regime, the remnant “Left” within the government also adding their two pennies worth, into it.
6. INDIA: ARMIES OF THE PURE - THE QUESTION OF INDIAN FASCISM
by Dilip Simeon
Is the term fascism relevant to India? The answer lies in what we understand by the term. I use it generically, to refer to the emergence of right-wing dictatorships marked by ultra-nationalist ideologies, the abolition of the rule of law and the destruction of democratic institutions. Fascism invades the public sphere with controlled mobs, and possesses a genocidal instinct towards imaginary “internal enemies.” There were many ingredients to this exterminism, including Social-Darwinism and eugenics. But the articulation of national unity via the bestowal of an inferior status upon an entire community was a central feature.
Fascism represents an assault on politics, a substitution of democratic dialogue by violent intimidation, spectacular acclamation and automatic behaviour patterns. The link between nationalism and war-mongering, evident in the emergence of nation-states, is vastly extended in fascism. It is an ideologically enforced project which criminalises the State and aims at the militarization of civil society. Hence beyond a point it cannot be understood in utilitarian terms, as an instrument of the bourgeoisie etc. Fascism is a powerful expression of the annihilationist drive endemic in capitalist modernity (there are others). More ominously, it is a populist movement, one that mobilizes the most base and destructive elements in mass psychology. In the words of the ex-Nazi Herman Rauschning, it is the revolution of nihilism.
Historical events do not replicate themselves in pre-determined fashion. But to begin with, fascism was not an event, but a prolonged process with political and institutional features that remain visible despite contextual differences. Fascism was not always marked by seizures of power or the advent of war. Identifying it requires an eye to political tendencies. These tendencies are visible in colonial India and its successor states, although with distinctive features. The common feature is that its successes depend more on ideological influence than organizational affiliation. In India this ideology is manifested in what we call communalism; and it includes the demonisation of entire communities that emerged in the West as anti-Semitism. In my view, communalism is India’s version of fascism.
7. INDIA: DIRTY TRICKS OF SPECIAL CELL OF DELHI POLICE REVEALED
Jamia Teachers Solidarity Association released a 180 page report — ’Framed, Damned and Acquitted: Dossiers of a Very Special Cell’ — at a widely attended public event on 18 September 2012 at the Jamia Milia University in New Delhi. This document reveals 16 cases in which those accused of being operatives of various terrorist organizations arrested mostly by the Special Cell of Delhi Police, were acquitted by the courts, not simply for want of evidence, but because the evidence was tampered with, and the police story was found to be unreliable and incredulous.
8. INDIA: HINDUTVA CHAUVINISM AND PATRIARCHY IN GUJARAT (Archana Prasad)
From: Peoples Democracy, Sep 9, 2012
On August 29, 2012 the Washington Post published Narendra Modi's now famous statement that the increasing rates of malnutrition in Gujarat could be attributed to the beauty conscious middle class girls and dieting habits. He also reiterated that he "would not apologise for the Gujarat violence (2002)". A day later Maya Kodnani, Babu Bajrangi and 27 others were convicted for the Naroda Patiya massacre in the 2002 Gujarat genocide. The witnesses deposing before the courts emphasised on the mass atrocities against Muslim women and children, thus, highlighting the nature of the conviction. In the same week, the RSS weekly Panchjanya (August 25, 2012) also reported a comment by Shanta Akka, the newly appointed president of the Rashtra Sevika Samiti, who stated that the events in Assam were representative of the "evil designs" (rakshasi sanskriti) against Indian culture and therefore it was necessary that the forces of Hinduism be advanced. These seemingly unrelated incidents are bound together by an understanding that women and their organisations are carriers of the Hindutva ideology and the vision of a Hindu Rashtra that forms the basis of the Gujarat model of development. Here women become both, agents of Hindutva politics, as well as targets of violence perpetrated by Sangh Parivar organisations.
9. INDIA: HURT SENTIMENTS UNLIMITED EVERYDAY
India: Class XI history textbook 'Themes in World History' in divine trouble
No beef & pork festival in JNU campus: Delhi High Court
Meghnad Desai’s take on Gita irks Bihar Religious Trust
10. NO SPRING FOR ARAB WOMEN: Interview with Marieme Helie Lucas
Interview with Marieme Helie Lucas on the Arab Spring which was ‘neither a socialist nor a feminist revolution’ but more a victory of the extreme right and religious fundamentalists and argues that it is essential for women’s rights that feminists fight for secularism.
11. SOUTH AFRICA: VIOLATED HOPES - A NATION CONFRONTS A TIDE OF SEXUAL VIOLENCE
by Charlayne Hunter-Gault
(The New Yorker, May 28, 2012 Issue)
Letter from South Africa
ABSTRACT: about corrective rape and violence against women and homosexuals. On a recent Sunday morning in the Johannesburg township of Kwa Thema, a young lesbian couple went to church. Kwa Thema, one of many settlements created by the apartheid regime to contain and control the black majority population, remains isolated today. The two women, Bontle Khalo and Ntsupe Mohapi, are leaders of a gay-rights organization called the Ekurhuleni Pride Organizing Committee, or EPOC. The couple formed the group, three years ago, to combat rising violence against gays in the Ekurhuleni municipality. They were concerned in particular about a gruesome crime known as “corrective rape”—an assault in which a man rapes a lesbian in an attempt to “cure” her sexual orientation. A lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender activist organization in Capetown says that it deals with as many as ten such incidents every week. Since 1998, at least thirty-one lesbians have been killed in attacks that were motivated by their sexual orientation and many of which began with corrective rape. Few arrests have been made. Members of South Africa’s L.G.B.T. community encounter widespread discrimination, even though the country’s constitution was the first in the world with a clause explicitly forbidding discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation. The language was included in the 1996 Bill of Rights, introduced two years after the transition from apartheid rule to democracy, and intended to address South Africa’s history of prejudice and legally enshrined segregation. But, with few policies in place to reduce high levels of poverty and inequality, hostility toward “difference” has barely slackened, and crimes against gays, and women, have increased. South Africa, with a population of fifty million, has one of the highest rates of violence in the world—more than forty murders a day, on average—and the highest rate of rape. In 2009, statistics from the International Criminal Police Organization indicated that a woman is raped in South Africa every seventeen seconds, and that nearly half the victims are under eighteen. One woman in two can expect to be raped at least once in her lifetime. A study by the South Africa Medical Research Council, also published in 2009, said that one in four men admitted that they had committed rape at one time or another. South Africans first became widely aware of the violence against lesbians in April, 2008, when Simelane, a thirty-one-year-old former member of the national women’s soccer team, was brutally murdered. Simelane was one of the first openly gay women in Kwa Thema, and was training to be the first female referee at the Men’s World Cup, in 2010, in South Africa. Discusses other cases of rape and violence against women and homosexuals in South Africa. Tells about the campaign for hate-crime legislation to be passed.
Charlayne Hunter-Gault, Letter from South Africa, “Violated Hopes,” The New Yorker, May 28, 2012, p. 40
Read more http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2012/05/28/120528fa_fact_huntergault#ixzz1wOWNYljP
12. Anti-intellectualism is taking over the US
by Patricia Williams
(guardian.co.uk, 18 May 2012)
The rise in academic book bannings and firings is compounded by the US's growing disregard for scholarship itself
Isabel Allende is among writers whose work has been removed from Arizona schools under an anti-ethnic studies initiative. Photograph: Koen Van Weel/AFP/Getty Images
Recently, I found out that my work is mentioned in a book that has been banned, in effect, from the schools in Tucson, Arizona. The anti-ethnic studies law passed by the state prohibits teachings that "promote the overthrow of the United States government," "promote resentment toward a race or class of people," "are designed primarily for pupils of a particular ethnic group," and/or "advocate ethnic solidarity instead of the treatment of pupils as individuals." I invite you to read the book in question, titled Critical Race Theory: An Introduction, so that you can decide for yourselves whether it qualifies.
In fact, I invite you to take on as your summer reading the astonishingly lengthy list of books that have been removed from the Tucson public school system as part of this wholesale elimination of the Mexican-American studies curriculum. The authors and editors include Isabel Allende, Junot Díaz, Jonathan Kozol, Rudolfo Anaya, bell hooks, Sandra Cisneros, James Baldwin, Howard Zinn, Rodolfo Acuña, Ronald Takaki, Jerome Skolnick and Gloria Anzaldúa. Even Thoreau's Civil Disobedience and Shakespeare's The Tempest received the hatchet.
Trying to explain what was offensive enough to warrant killing the entire curriculum and firing its director, Tucson school board member Michael Hicks stated rather proudly that he was not actually familiar with the curriculum. "I chose not to go to any of their classes," he told Al Madrigal on The Daily Show. "Why even go?" In the same interview, he referred to Rosa Parks as "Rosa Clark."
The situation in Arizona is not an isolated phenomenon. There has been an unfortunate uptick in academic book bannings and firings, made worse by a nationwide disparagement of teachers, teachers' unions and scholarship itself. Brooke Harris, a teacher at Michigan's Pontiac Academy for Excellence, was summarily fired after asking permission to let her students conduct a fundraiser for Trayvon Martin's family. Working at a charter school, Harris was an at-will employee, and so the superintendent needed little justification for sacking her. According to Harris, "I was told… that I'm being paid to teach, not to be an activist." (It is perhaps not accidental that Harris worked in the schools of Pontiac, a city in which nearly every public institution has been taken over by cost-cutting executives working under "emergency manager" contracts. There the value of education is measured in purely econometric terms, reduced to a "product," calculated in "opportunity costs.")
The law has taken some startling turns as well. In 2010 the sixth circuit upheld the firing of high school teacher Shelley Evans-Marshall when parents complained about an assignment in which she had asked her students in an upper-level language arts class to look at the American Library Association's list of "100 most frequently challenged Books" and write an essay about censorship. The complaint against her centered on three specific texts: Hermann Hesse's Siddhartha, Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird and Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451. (She was also alleged, years earlier, to have shown students a PG-13 version of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet.)
The court found that the content of Evans-Marshall's teachings concerned matters "of political, social or other concern to the community" and that her interest in free expression outweighed certain other interests belonging to the school "as an employer." But, fatally, the court concluded that "government employees… are not speaking as citizens for First Amendment purposes." While the sixth circuit allowed that Evans-Marshall may have been treated "shabbily", it still maintained (quoting from another opinion) that "when a teacher teaches, 'the school system does not "regulate" [that] speech as much as it hires that speech. Expression is a teacher's stock in trade, the commodity she sells to her employer in exchange for a salary.'" Thus, the court concluded, it is the "educational institution that has a right to academic freedom, not the individual teacher."
There are a number of factors at play in the current rash of controversies. One is a rather stunning sense of privilege, the confident sense of superiority that allows someone to pass sweeping judgment on a body of work without having done any study at all. After the Chronicle of Higher Education published an item highlighting the dissertations of five young PhD candidates in African-American studies at Northwestern University, Chronicle blogger Naomi Schaefer Riley wrote that the mere titles of the dissertations were sufficient cause to eliminate all black studies classes. Riley hadn't read the dissertations; they're not even published yet. When questioned about this, she argued that as "a journalist… it is not my job to read entire dissertations before I write a 500-word piece about them," adding: "there are not enough hours in the day or money in the world to get me to read a dissertation on historical black midwifery." Riley tried to justify her view with a cliched, culture-wars-style plaint about the humanities and higher education: "Such is the state of academic research these days…. The publication topics become more and more irrelevant and partisan. No one reads them." This is not mere arrogance; it is the same cocooned "white ghetto" narrow-mindedness that allows someone like Michael Hicks to be in charge of a major American school system yet not know "Rosa Clark's" correct name.
Happily, there is pushback occurring against such anti-intellectualism. One of the most vibrant examples is a protest group called Librotraficante, or Book Trafficker. Organised by Tony Diaz, a Houston Community College professor, the group has been caravanning throughout the south-west holding readings, setting up book clubs, establishing "underground libraries," and dispensing donated copies of the books that have been removed from Arizona's public school curriculum. You can donate by visiting librotraficante.com.
13. DON'T LET INTERNET VIDEO'S DRIVE YOU TO VIOLENCE: TELL YOUR GOVT. NOT TO NURTURE FUNDAMENTALIST GROUPS FOR SHORT TERM GAIN
(i) Muslim Outrage and Western shock
By As'ad AbuKhalil
Yet again, Western governments and media are shocked. A group of fanatic Salafi and Ikhwan types attacked the US embassy in Cairo and the US consulate in Benghazi, and the US ambassador was killed. The US through Hillary Clinton spoke on behalf of the Libyan people – no less – and decided that those deeds are unrepresentative of the Libyan people. Her statement, however, did not inform the American public that the killers were probably fighting alongside NATO only a few months ago.
(ii) Peace Be Upon You: Internet videos will insult your religion. Ignore them
by William Saletan (Sept. 14, 2012)
Dear Muslims, Christians, Hindus, and Jews,
You’re living in the age of the Internet. Your religion will be mocked, and the mockery will find its way to you. Get over it.
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