South Asia Citizens Web Dispatch
2 February 2000
#1. Sri-Lanka: ['Peace is a bad idea we'd go out of business...'- LTTE]
#2. Support Women's Clinic Buy the 'Manasi Diary 2000' [An Indian Feminst
#3. Declaration by India's Civil & Democratic Rights groups
#4. The [Indian] Left is not always right
#5. Upcoming World Conference by proponents of the Hindu right ideology
BBC News Online: World: South Asia
Sunday, 30 January, 2000, 19:50 GMT
TIGERS 'NOT INTERESTED' IN SOLUTION
By Susannah Price in Colombo
A human rights group in Sri Lanka has called for the government to listen
to the voice of ordinary Tamil people rather than concentrating all its
attentions on the rebel Tamil Tigers.
The University Teachers for Human Rights, Jaffna, also said the Tamil
Tigers were extremists who did not want a solution to the problem.
The organisation, in its latest report, said the Tigers - who have been
blamed for three recent suicide bomb attacks - had institutionalised the
The human rights group paints a bleak picture of any chance of peace in
the near future in Sri Lanka.
It says that for those living in the part of the northern Wanni region
held by the Tigers, recruitment has become part of the system.
The group says the Tigers need 2,000 recruits a year to maintain their
In schools, according to its report, older children undergo compulsory
physical training three times a week and there is much pressure on young
people to join.
The group also describes how what it calls abuses and killings by the
military have turned people into suicide bombers.
But the University Teachers also blame the government, which they say has
made little headway in bringing devolution and accountable government
closer to the Tamils.
The report accuses the government of banking on the security forces and
spending heavily on defence while failing to solve the problem.
The report also says that, following the murder earlier this month of the
outspoken Tamil politician, Kumar Ponnambalam, there is great fear among
the Tamil population.
The group said many who went to his funeral believed he was murdered by a
state agency, and this feeling would persist unless the government cleared
up the matter.
Meanwhile a three-day programme commemorating the moderate Tamil
politician, Neelan Thiruchelvam - who was killed by a suspected Tamil Tiger
bomber in July - has opened in Colombo.
In his inaugural address, the former Indian Prime Minister, IK Gujral,
said no political aim was justifiable by the means adopted by what he
called the terrorists.
30 January 2000
MANASI DIARY 2000
Support Manasi's work and buy our diary.
Manasi is a group of women running a women's health clinic and carrying out
outreach clinical work in the slums of Indore. It is a non-profit
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conditions, including heart attacks, convulsions, injuries, stings and bites
The diary has one page for every day of the year and is of special
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The diary has 400 pages and carries all information in Hindi and English.
The prices are:
India Rs 60 for ordinary diary + Rs 30 as mailing charge for the first diary
and then Rs 15 per diary. For the deluxe version the price is Rs 100 + Rs 30
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Outside India, the diary is priced USD 15 for the ordinary with $ 4.00 as
postage charge and the deluxe version is priced at USD 20.00 with $ 5.00
Bulk discounts are available.
Do order and support a worthy cause.
Orders can be placed at Manasi Swasthya Sansthan, 3 Anoop Nagar, Indore
452008 , M.P. India.
Drafts can be sent in the name of 'Vikas: Society for People's Development'
payable at Indore.
[For contact via e-mail re the above write to: "Kalpana Mehta"
DECLARATION OF ALL-INDIA COORDINATION COMMITTEE OF CIVIL LIBERTIES,
DEMOCRATIC RIGHTS AND HUMAN RIGHTS ORGANISATIONS
[Adopted at the meeting of the preparatory committee held at Calcutta on
29-30 January, 2000]
1. The civil liberties, democratic rights and human rights organisations
from all over India decide to form an All-India Coordination Committee of
Civil Liberties, Democratic Rights and Human Rights Organisations to combat
effectively and unitedly the intensified and centralised assault by the
state on democratic rights and fundamental rights of citizens of India.
This declaration will be the basis of the Coordination Committee which is
being adopted at this meeting after three preparatory meetings held at
Calcutta on 3-4 July, 1999, at Hyderabad on 8-9 October, 1999 and at
Calcutta on 29-30 January, 2000.
2. The main objective of the proposed body is to oppose unequivocally all
forms of state violence and state-sponsored violence including caste
violence, religious intolerance, patriarchy, national chauvinism and
violence upon minorities of all categories, Dalits, Adivasis and
The Committee considers `developmentí policies sponsored by the
IMF-WB-WTO trio under the garb of `globalisationí in collaboration with
Indiaís central and state governments and other agencies are intensifying
the oppression of the working masses and gross violation of the rights of
the people manifold.
As part of its programme, the Committee will investigate the incidents
of human rights violations by the state which should be of national
importance and systematic or gross in nature. The Committee will publish
fact-finding reports and adopt various suitable courses of action.
3. The Committee does recognise the fact that there is a difference in
opinion and understanding/perception on the issue of non-state violence.
Therefore, on such issues any action/move by the Committee will be taken
up/initiated only after full discussion among the constituent members only
on the basis of consensus. However, the constituents are not debarred from
taking up the issues in question from their own platforms.
4. The Committee will comprise civil liberties, democratic rights and human
rights organisations except funded organisations. We call upon all the
other organisations, who are not present in this meeting, to join the
coordiantion on the basis of this declaration to face the challenges
against civil liberties, democratic rights and human rights and to combat
effectively and unitedly the intensified and centralised assaults by the
state on democratic rights and findamental rights of citizens of India.
5. The Committee will publish an All-India Year Book on Civil Liberties,
Democratic Rigths and Human Rights for which there will be an editorial
board comprising one representative from each organisation. The editorial
board will finalise, obviously after careful scrutiny, the report and
publish it in the name of the body. The report will include observations on
the NHRC and the SHRCsí yearly reports and recommendations. The editorial
board for that purpose will sit three times a year.
6. All expenses of the Committee will be borne by the constituent members
keeping in mind that all organisations have equal responsibility and
considering the constraints of smaller organisations. Every constutuent
organisation shall pay a nominal annual subscription of Rs 500, to be paid
before 31 January each year.
7. The Committee intends to publish newsletters bi-annually for the purpose
of exchange of opinions and information on various types of assaults by the
state in the respective provinces.
8. The Committee will build up a network of lawyers for assistance and
cooperation required for the cases of human rights violation, especially in
the Supreme Court.
Andhra Pradesh Civil Liberties Committee (APCLC), North-East Coordination
of Human Rights Organisations (NECOHR), Peopleís Democratic Forum (PDF --
Karnataka), Civil Liberties and Human Rights Organisation (CLAHRO --
Manipur), Association for Protection of Democratic Rights (APDR -- West
Bengal), Orissa Civil Liberties Committee (OCLC).
The following organisations expressed their general agreement with the
draft and informed theat they were joining the coordination, but could not
join the last meeting:
Peopleís Union for Democratic Rights (PUDR -- Delhi), Coordination of Human
Rights Organisations (CHRO -- Kerala), National Democratic Front (NDF --
Kerala), Human Rights Forum (HRF -- Andhra Pradesh), Human Rights Alert
(HRA -- Manipur), Institute of Kashmir Studies (Srinagar).
February 1, 2000
THE LEFT IS NOT ALWAYS RIGHT
(Arvind N. Das on the churning within)
It was not so long ago that a bright young man, Chandrashekhar, a former
president of the Jawaharlal Nehru University Union and a Ph. D scholar
working on the folk culture of Bihari migrants, was murdered in broad
daylight at Siwan in Bihar. He had dared to take on the might of
Shahabuddin, a local gangster who is one of the most ardent supporters of
Laloo Prasad Yadav and a law unto himself.
Shahabuddin had even shot at the district superintendent of police but,
because of his political proximity to the Raja of Bihar, he enjoyed
complete immunity and was rewarded with an MP-ship. Chandrashekhar, a
charismatic youth leader of the All India Student Association (AISA)
inspired by the ideals of the Left, had posed a threat to gangster rule so
he was eliminated. Of course, nothing happened to Shahabuddin who has
continued to flourish under the substitute dispensation of the Rani of
Bihar even after his patron bit the electoral dust at Madhepura.
However, shocked by the brutal murder of Chandrashekhar, the students of
Jawaharlal Nehru University, including those bearing allegiance to the
CPM-affiliated Students Federation of India (SFI), besieged the Bihar Niwas
in Delhi, demanding a probe into the murder and action against
Shahabuddin. Instead of being heard, the students were attacked, even shot
at by the ruling brother-in-law, Sadhu Yadav who is said to have snatched
a rifle from a policeman detailed to protect Laloo Prasad Yadav. All
political parties expressed their outrage at the incident and the CPM was
among the loudest railing at the corruption and lawlessness that Laloo
Prasad Yadav has nurtured in the republic of Bihar.
But times change and so do political leaders. When, only some months
later, the Lok Sabha elections were taking place, the same Laloo Prasad
Yadav was joined in his campaign for the very same Shahabuddin by none
other than the venerable general secretary of the CPM, the Kautilya of the
present age, Harkishan Singh Surjeet. Displaying amazing fleetness of
political feet if not firmness of ideological spine, the leader of the CPM
joined the darbaris who hang around the Raja of Bihar as he brazens his
way through scandal after scam. Now, when elections once more loom over
the Bihar horizon, the CPM has broken rank with the rest of the Left and
has ranged itself behind the horribly corrupt and administratively
disastrous regime presided over physically and in spirit by Laloo Yadav. In
choosing Laloo Prasad over its old allies, the CPI, RSP, Forward Bloc and
Samajwadi Party-not to mention the CPI (Marxist-Leninist: Liberation)-the
CPM has exhibited a gross lack of political principles. In fact, its
electoral greed has so blinded it that it has taken a position that is not
even pragmatic in the medium or short run. It is true that Laloo Yadav
rewarded the CPM's opportunism by throwing it the crumbs of a Bhagalpur
parliamentary seat off his table but the fact is that his own electoral
repast is now depleted and he is not in a position to help the CPM gain
enough seats or votes in Bihar to save its threatened "national party"
status. Why is it then that the modern Chanakyas of the third largest party
in Parliament prefer to cosy up to a ludicrous self-styled Chandragupta who
has lost much of his earlier political appeal by steeping himself in
corruption and jilt their old comrades-in-arms with whom they rule West
Bengal and Kerala? Why is it that for the CPM ideology and politics are at
a discount and self-defeating politicking is at a premium? Why is it that,
on the other side of the electoral-political divide, the CPI in Bihar has
resisted temptation and pressure from the CPI-M (and, if Surjeet is to be
believed, from the CPI's National Council too) and decided to distance
itself from the corrupt and lawless regime and throw in its lot with the
rising Left force represented by the CPI(ML-Liberation)?
The answer to these questions lies both in the present and in the past.
The Left in Bihar has had a specific history, which has an important
bearing on what is happening today. Without going into details, two
aspects of the situation in Bihar must be noted. One relates to the
unfinished agrarian reforms in the state despite a sustained land movement
led first by the CPI and then by the CPI (ML-Liberation). The result of
this is the continued presence of mass support for these parties among the
rural poor that constitute the majority of Bihar's population. However,
here has been some change in this respect too: the upper-crust tenantry,
largely drawn from the Bhumihar caste, which formed the base of the CPI in
the state benefited from the anti-zamindari moves and slowly drifted off,
some of it even later to join the notorious Ranbir Sena. The other major
segment of the CPI's mass base, the sharecroppers and agricultural
labourers, who continued mobilisation beyond zamindari abolition, remained
with the Left but many of them switched allegiance to the more militant
CPI (ML-Liberation). The latter began a second innings, as it were, from
Bhojpur in the mid-1970s through agrarian mobilisation and broader
democratic movements against electoral malpractices such as booth-capture
in the last decade. The combination of the politics of mass protest and
resistance and participation in electoral campaigns has given to the CPI
(ML) in Bihar a position akin to that of the CPM in West Bengal in the
pre-1967 period, that is as the leading Left force. This is a fact that
the CPI has now come to terms with, albeit reluctantly. The CPM, however,
is so caught in its "Left hegemony" and self-congratulatory wheeling and
dealing skills that it distances itself from the Left and selects to place
itself at the mercy of Laloo Yadav, particularly since in the last decade
it has more or less dissipated its own mass support in Champaran and
This opportunistic divorce of the CPM from the Left in Bihar, however, has
another dimension that is reflective of the party's broader predilection.
The fact is that, despite the CPM's much tomtomed leadership of
anti-communal fronts-like the one which is supposed to be led by the
proudly superstitious Laloo Yadav-the CPM has not been able to consolidate
such forces and parties like the DMK and TDP have been put off by the
too-clever-by-half approach of Surjeet and his acolytes. Simultaneously,
the party has given up any pretence of ideological consistency-or mass
mobilisation for that matter, barring largely symbolic and occasional
anti-globalisation demonstrations and insipid economistic trade
unionism-and engrossed itself merely in the politics of power-grabbing and
power-brokerage. The result of its long reign in West Bengal and Kerala are
for all to see. The consequences of its de-ideologisation are also obvious
in its publications like People's Democracy, which has given up analysis
and theorisation for pedestrian and self-justificatory reportage of
It is true that the Left has been in political retreat in most parts of
the world and in India the CPM as the largest constituent of the
Established Left-what the great Marxist historian D. D. Kosambi derisively
titled "OM or Official Marxists"-has exhibited extreme demoralisation and
what Left polemicists called 'tail-ism', now committing one "historic
blunder" after another making Jyoti Basu merely the best Prime Minister
India never had, now following Sonia Gandhi and now trailing the likes of
Laloo Yadav. As a party, its documents have been insipid and repetitive
and even the fact that many outstanding intellectuals are still its members
or sympathisers has not enabled the CPM to seek to analyse contemporary
political economy and society. The gerontocracy and older-than-their-years
leaders who run the CPM are so engrossed in temporary short-term gain that
they are prepared to sacrifice their tomorrow's feast for today's fodder
offered by Laloo Yadav.
It is a devil's bargain that the CPM has entered. During the French
Revolution a similar act was criticised as betrayal of the Left cause "for
a handful of silver; for a few ribbons to pin on the chest". Accepting the
hegemony of the philistines that the CPM feels comfortable with is
unlikely even to bring it that satisfaction. It will merely have cut its
electoral nose to spite its Left profile.
Upcoming WAVES World Conference organised by the proponents of the Hindu
far Right. The Atlanta WAVES conference in 1996, had contributions from
Elst, Kalyanaraman, Taligeri, Frawley well known hindu right historians.
check out the details at:
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