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SACW | 2 Oct. 02

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  • Harsh Kapoor
    South Asia Citizens Wire | 2 October 2002 __________________________ #1. A subcontinent s blight (M B Naqvi) #2. Truth Commissions: A retrospective healing
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 1, 2002
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      South Asia Citizens Wire | 2 October 2002

      __________________________

      #1. A subcontinent's blight (M B Naqvi)
      #2. Truth Commissions: A retrospective healing process ? ­ Part I
      (Indika Bulankulame)
      #3. An Open Letter To The President of India (Shahrukh Alam, Namita
      Malhotra, Warisha Farasat.)
      #4. Say no to war on Iraq (Praful Bidwai)
      #5. Father, Son and The Unholy Mission - Book Review by Ram Puniyani
      #6. Sahit : Forum of Creative People For Peace - cultural programme
      on 2 October 2002 in Ahmedabad
      #7. Oct 2/New York/Films on Gujarat/Ram Rahman, Smita Narula
      #8. India needs leaders like Bush, Sharon: VHP

      __________________________

      #1.

      The News International (Pakistan)
      Wednesday October 02, 2002

      A subcontinent's blight

      M B Naqvi

      The incident in Indian Gujarat state's Gandhi Nagar Hindu temple on
      September 24/25 night that killed 31 worshippers and another on
      September 25 in Karachi that murdered seven persons in the office of
      an NGO, Idara-i-Amn-o-Insaf. Both point to an ominous aggravation of
      negative trends in India and Pakistan and the rest of South Asia.

      The Gandhi Nagar carnage is sure to give a handle to the hate
      merchants peddling a fundamentally anti-Muslim Hindutva, thereby
      increasing Hindu-Muslim polarisation in Gujarat some more and
      possibly succeed in spreading this virus to surrounding states. That
      BJP and the rest of Sangh Parivar hope to win elections thereby is an
      open secret; these groups, looming behind

      BJP, rode to power on the crest of anti-Muslim feelings following the
      destruction of Babri Masjid, widespread anti-Muslim rioting and the
      growing communal polarity. Such incidents can help the hate merchants
      no end.

      That incident has other consequences too. It impacts on India's
      Pakistan policy. Indian government has already held Pakistan
      responsible. Although, India's reaction to December 13, 2001 attack
      on Parliament with mobilising the Indian Army and threatening
      Pakistan with an imminent invasion was losing credibility, these
      suicidal killings in Gandhi Nagar may -- on the tit-for-tat logic of
      communalism -- force Vajpayee government to make a demonstrative
      response to assuage the hurt Hindu sentiment.

      Consequently, India-Pakistan military tensions would again aggravate.
      Communal passion, already widespread, will be reinforced by official
      spin of blaming Pakistan. That should superficially make war certain
      but both sides remain hesitant because of Nuclear Deterrents. It is
      however a moment of supreme test for deterrence doctrine: would it
      continue to hold back the Hindutva-preachers from taking a perhaps
      limited -- but nevertheless demonstrative -- action?

      It is pointless getting involved in the validity or otherwise of
      deterrence concept. We can assume the two states will continue to
      prevent an all-out war either themselves or with American help. The
      net result will not be peace but prolongation of the present
      no-peace-no-war situation, with both taking limited hostile action
      but stopping this side of war. American influence over both Islamabad
      and New Delhi is bound to grow. That will reflect on the rest of
      Asia. Islamabad however seems scheduled to see the other face of US
      diplomacy. The US may put harder and unbearable pressure "to do more"
      in Kashmir -- and that might include accepting a final solution of
      Kashmir against the wishes of Pakistani hardliners.

      The Subcontinent is likely to remain dominated by communal passions
      that stoke the fires of militarism. In India this militarism issues
      from a supposed 'manifest destiny' and has deeper roots, while in
      Pakistan it emerged ad hoc, first through international intrigue with
      Pakistan's powerful bureaucratic coterie that had already usurped
      power. Futile justifications predicated it on a shallow Muslim
      Nationalism and later on an Islamic Ideology that glorifies a
      reconstructed past. Democracy thus may increasingly become shallow
      throughout South Asia for similar reasons.

      The Karachi incident is certainly alarming. Terrorism in Pakistan is
      hydra-headed. Authorities are fond of blaming India's RAW for all
      atrocities in Pakistan or even in India. That is no defence against
      Pakistani failure to protect minorities. Indian propaganda of blaming
      ISI for all terrorist incidents is a photocopy: failure of its own
      security agencies. What good are they, if they cannot stop the other
      country's spooks from causing mayhem inside their own countries? We
      had better look for true causes of terrorism in injustices and
      communal hatred.

      Pakistanis should concentrate on terrorist killers that after all did
      not arrive from India. We must think about the process that created
      these terrorists. Mother of all terrorism was the emergence of
      Kashmir policy as a national cause by the bureaucratic coterie that
      had cornered power by April 1953. This latter involved many things:
      the collapse of Muslim Nationalism in which a powerful group of
      politicians enabled bureaucracy to thwart democracy. Simultaneously
      the US diplomacy bought over the bureaucratic coterie, supported by
      C-in-C Ayub Khan, rather cheaply. This international intrigue also
      helped shape domestic and foreign, especially the Afghan, policies.
      The culmination of these factors were the Taliban regime, nuclear
      detonations, Kargil and the current military confrontation with India.

      While a militant Kashmir policy resulted in Army's political
      pre-eminence, able to spend most of the revenues and determining the
      development policy. This enriched both wings of bureaucracy while
      strengthening Army's hold on power. It needed justification. A bogus
      Pakistan Ideology was invented based on a new interpretation of
      orthodoxy. It served the US well in 1980s -- to the immense
      enrichment of generals -- and later in Kashmir Jihad. Becoming power
      drunk after the Bomb, the generals could 'safely' convert Kashmiris'
      spontaneous and non-violent movement in 1988-89 first into an armed
      rebellion and later an Islamic Jihad. A red hot Islamic

      Ideology provides inspiration for the

      Jihadis. That it had to no link with the

      Subcontinent's Islamic ethos bothered no one.

      Bewildered Indians squirmed, tried to counter the Jihad with armed
      repression. Eventually South Block remembered it too had the Bomb,
      only bigger. So, when the Jihadis boldly attacked the Indian
      Parliament, India confronted Pakistan with all its might. India went
      on an offensive and threatened war. India is daring Pakistan to fight
      a limited war and if it uses the Bomb, it would invite India's nuking
      it in return. Which is

      where both India and Pakistan stand deadlocked. No one can go
      further. The Americans are able to play the honest broker to their
      own political advantage.

      Net results of Kashmir and Afghanistan policies is an oversupply of
      Islamic extremists straining at the leash to strike at -- minorities,
      sectarian and religious minorities, Indians and Americans or whoever.
      Pakistan has just told the Americans that 33 dangerous activists of
      Harkatul Mujahedeen al-Alami are still freely operating in Karachi,
      after it had earlier arrested 24 of them in joint operations with
      FBI. For all a layman knows, this group is perhaps as small as that.
      But what about the many thousands of their soul mates who are
      Taliban, the many Kashmir's Jihadi outfits, not to mention the
      factions that content themselves with killing local Shias, Ahmedis,
      Christians, Hindus etc. Their number would be much greater. They are
      all the same: religious zealots of more or less the same theoretical
      origins. Minorities and the country do need that they are reclaimed
      with required patience.

      It is a problem that has to be sorted out by Pakistanis. The US
      interest is limited to preventing them from attacking American or
      western targets. Indians only want Jihadis and zealots to stay at
      home and leave them alone. But this country is now a snakepit of all
      manner of Islamic extremists, wanting to kill all kafirs, Indians
      (Hindus first), foreigners -- a travesty of Islam in historical
      India. These fanatics are a bigger danger to Pakistan and its plural
      society. For this American money, technology and advice is
      irrelevant, though these might help if they are used to fight crime.
      It is vital to seek the learned humanists from India, Europe, US
      andindeed everywhere to help change Pakistan's social, political and
      economic conditions that beget and sustain bigotry. Promotion of
      tolerance is the task, requiring more employment and cultural
      development as a prerequisite.

      The particular Karachi incident does not seem to be a simple killing
      of Christians by undifferentiated Islamic fanatics. It is not the
      first of its kind in methodology -- first overpowering the victim(s)
      through heavy sedation, tying their hands behind them and then taping
      the mouths and noses for killing them through asphyxiation. Reason
      for selecting them remains obscure. There was a similar case recently
      in Karachi: two persons were murdered in a similar fashion (without
      the use of a gun) in the office of Irtaqa Institute in
      Gulshan-e-Iqbal locality. Even the putative murder of Omar Asghar
      Khan is said to have been a similar case. One understands that many
      more incidents of the kind have taken place in Karachi. The police
      are reluctant to publicise them for some reason. But we shouldn't be.

      Other victims of the same kind of killing were not members of
      minority sect or religion. There seems to have been nothing common
      among the victims, except one: some link with, or a reputation of
      "progressive" ideas or left-of-centre politics. If this is true, we
      have a new specie of terrorism -- some version of ultra-right death
      squads, so characteristic of so many Latin American republics. That
      opens up a whole new vista for inquiry. Another commonality is: all
      religious fanatics are also ultra rightists in political preferences
      and so are their friends and supporters.


      _____


      #2

      The Island (Sri Lanka)
      02nd October, 2002
      Midweek Review

      Truth Commissions: A retrospective healing process ? ­ Part I

      by Indika Bulankulame
      (University of Sussex, UK)
      Undoubtedly, the peace process currently occupies a great deal of
      conversation time from the regular mundane conversations Sri Lankans
      often have with each other here and aboard.
      [...]
      As part of these conversations that are taking place, there is a
      strong interest on the idea of "Truth and Reconciliation". It is in
      this context that the recently concluded Neelan Thiruchelvam Memorial
      Lecture delivered by Alex Borraine, former Vice President of the
      South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission and a subsequent
      workshop organised by the International centre for Ethnic Studies in
      Colombo were clearly meant to open doors to the debate on the idea of
      reconciliation. At this point, I would like to make two points. One
      is that reconciliation comes at the end of a transition, a change or
      a turn of events. In that sense, I do not feel that we have come to
      that point as yet to talk about delivering the "truth" as part of the
      peace process and reconciliation. The next point is, how much
      reconciliation and how much healing can we hope to find through the
      use of a mechanism such as a truth commission in a cultural context
      such as ours?

      This paper attempts to examine two commissions. One is the South
      African Truth and Reconciliation Commission which, I have used for
      its clarity and professionalism of process. The second is the
      Commission of Inquiry into the Involuntary Removal of Persons
      appointed in 1995, the first of its kind to be established in Sri
      Lanka, which examine in considerable depth and highlight some
      important issues and grey areas. The idea is not to compare, but to
      understand the stand point of Truth Commissions appointed by state
      agencies. At a time when we are this reflective of knowing the truth
      we need to be aware from previous experiences the consequences of
      knowing the truth.

      Truth commissions are meant to be bodies that attempt to deal with
      certain realities of atrocities committed by state agencies and
      sometimes the activities of "armed opposition" (Hayner 2000). Broadly
      looking at it, Pricilla B. Hayner describes in four ways " 1). truth
      commissions focus on the past ; 2). they investigate a pattern of
      abuses over a period of time, rather than a specific event; 3). a
      truth commission is a temporary body, typically in operation for six
      months to two years, and completing its work with a submission of a
      report; and 4). these commissions are officially sanctioned,
      authorised, or empowered by the state (and sometimes also by the
      armed opposition, as in a peace accord)" (ibid 2000: 14). To date,
      five major truth commissions and sixteen less prominent commissions 2
      have emerged to address the atrocities that have been committed by
      various bodies, political parties and resistance groups. In recent
      decades, phenomena glossed as Truth Commissions have emerged as
      central components of the peace settlements and political
      Œtransitions¹ that as Fiona Ross characterise Œpost something¹ (post
      - colonial, post - communist, post-apartheid, post dictatorship
      state). Truth commissions have also acquired different names and
      sometimes the word "truth" is not even in it. Hayner has classified
      the commission under four main themes: " Commission on the
      disappeared" as in Argentina, Uganda and Sri Lanka for example; "
      Truth and justice commission in Haiti and Ecuador; a "historical
      clarification" commission in Guatemala; and "Truth and reconciliation
      commission in South Africa and Chile" (ibid 2000: 14-15) and others.
      Although, there are similarities between them, the mandates and
      powers of each commission, varies to suite the needs of the political
      reality of each country.

      There are a number of reasons, why a truth commission is established
      in a country. "Truth Commissions are frequently described as an
      important Œmechanism¹ by which societies may begin to acknowledge and
      remember the individual and the political and social damage wrought
      by violence" (Ross 2000: 2 .b). These have become one of the most
      important and central bodies through which to understand and deal
      with the past, acknowledge activities of the past and the starting
      point for accountability, reparation and reform programmes (CODEPU
      1989, Hayner 1994, 1996, 2001, Ignatief 1997; also Weschler 1990;
      Rosenburg 1992, Boraine, Levy and Scheffer 1994; Taylor 1994;
      Borraine and Levy 1995, Minow 1998, Merdith and Rosenberg 2000).

      [...]

      The Idea of a Truth Commission in Sri Lanka

      The Sri Lankan "Commission of Inquiry into the Involuntary Removal or
      Disappearance of Persons" emerged in that context of the aftermath of
      Political violence in the 1980s consequent to the electoral victory
      of the PA.

      The Sri Lankan Commission of inquiry (as I shall refer to it)
      constituted of three separate commissions vested with the
      responsibility off looking into allegations of disappearance in three
      separate geographic locations in the country. This was the first body
      of a formal nature that emerged in Post conflict Sri Lanka to
      investigate the aforesaid period of terror. However, I must mention
      in the year 1991 under Presidential directive a commission of Inq
      uiry* was set up to inquire into disappearance. Compensation was made
      to some victims although not in a form of consistency. Subsequently,
      20 reports were produced to the Presidential Secretariat, however,
      they were not published (Law & Society Trust 1993 P.70.).

      Coming back to the Commission of Inquiry appointed in 1995 Hayner indicates:

      "The period covered by the commissions included both the armed
      conflict between government forces and the People¹s Liberation Front
      in the South from 1987 to 1990, and the conflict between the
      government forces and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam in the
      northeast which began in June 1990" (Hayner 2001).

      It¹s objectives were wide, inclusive of giving recommendations, on
      the legal implications of dealing with the people who were
      responsible for these crimes and also who was to be the interlocutor
      on behalf of the victims.

      The commission was given an unrealistic goal of four months to submit
      a report or an interim report on the findings and the final report
      were submitted two years later and even then not all inquiries were
      investigated. Which resulted in a further all island commission to be
      appointed.

      The three commissions, although were appointed on the same day, and
      their mandates were identical, operated rather independently of each
      other and hence had different Œoperational and methodological
      Strategies¹. Rights workers, have observed that the three commissions
      had also specific agendas; one According to Hayner commission
      identified perpetrators and recommending prosecution; another
      focussed more on the financial loss to each family and their
      reparations needs; and the third took a more academic tone aimed at
      reconciliation and the psychology of national healing" (Hayner 2001).
      Also all hearings were held in private, one commission attempted to
      have public hearings, but had to be closed down as a respondent
      received threats after giving testimonies. The mandate of the three
      commissions have eight points of which I quote A and C for the
      purpose of this paper.

      a.) "Whether any persons have been involuntarily removed or have
      disappeared from their places of residence in (names of different
      provinces as given above) at any time after January 1, 1988;

      c.) The present whereabouts of the persons alleged to have been so
      removed, or to have so disappeared;

      The mandate, of the commission, point (a) and (c) attempts to
      establish the nature of a person¹s disappearance. However, members
      found a distinctions between the disappeared or the abducted, and the
      ones between disappeared and subsequently killed and therefore, never
      returned. The mandate places heavy emphasis on those disappeared but
      not on those who disappeared and subsequently killed. However, they
      ruled that this class of person also fell within the mandate, despite
      some opposition. The decision is important as the clause enables not
      only Œstate¹ but killings done by Œsubversives¹ also to be addressed.
      The total number of petitions inquired from all three commission are
      over 27,000 (Hayner 2001. P.65).

      Let us now proceed to the political and social consequences that were
      implied and were brought about by such commissions. I would look
      mainly, in the testimonies women gave and the comments they made in
      the process before and after the commission. The objective of this
      exercise is to analyse how truths, power and knowledge work, and how
      victims resist in this context of post terror political and social
      dilemmas.

      The Issue of Compensation in Sri Lanka

      There is heavy emphasis on compensation and reparations in these
      reports. What are the subsequent consequences of compensation and the
      psychological effect it has both on the victims and the community at
      large?

      Compensation payments began as early as 1988, under the Ministry of
      Rehabilitation and Reconstruction under a programme called "Payments
      of Compensation to Most Affected Persons (MAPs)". Under this scheme
      handled by the Government Agent/Divisional Secretariat, compensation
      was paid.1.

      It is clear that to a certain extent, compensation was paid before
      the PA government came to power. However, facts emerging from these
      reports suggests that compensation was limited to a segment, those
      victimised at the hands of the subversives and not so much by the
      reprisal killing done by the state. A cabinet decision taken on
      November 22nd 1989 also had a grave impact on the beneficiaries.

      Firstly, the victim¹s identity had to be cleared by the survivors.
      The survivors were victimised by the unpleasant task of lurking at
      police stations for the necessary clearances. One of the things that
      were acted upon and implemented by the commissions was the
      compensation to next of kin of public servants, who were earlier not
      compensated due to their alleged connections with subversive
      activities.

      My fieldwork indicates that compensation brought ethical dilemmas to
      those affected by subversive and by state sponsored violence. One
      problem among these people was that all of them lived in the same
      village in close proximity to each other. There seems to be a
      tolerance of each other even though they knew who supported
      subversive, who supported the government and who wanted to be left
      alone. However, I feel that there is a burning issue underlying this
      toleration, as they feel that no justice has been done.

      For e.g. Amaraweera and his aunt were threatened at gun point, by
      known subversives to keep their identities disclosed. He is still
      very traumatised by the incident. Today, the wife of the chief
      subversive in that area, who was a party to the above incident, has
      been compensated for the killing of her husband by the security
      forces. Ameeraweera had this to say:

      "They all got compensation. We lived with fear of our own lives. For
      the lives of my wife and two children we have nothing. Today we only
      live with that fear. I will never be able to forget that; Yet we
      interact with them as if nothing had happened."

      Ceremonies conducted to distribute compensation to the victims
      brought problems of ethics. The ceremony itself is politically driven
      and is impractical, causing expenses to the victim. In the act of
      receiving, they not only relive their pain and memories, but also
      breeds revenge, hatred and shame. This lack of sensitivity is
      psychologically damaging especially, as it comes after ten years
      since the terror.

      There is another point I want to make on compensation. It was given
      to widows or mothers of unmarried children. The idea of compensation
      is supposed to work towards reconciliation. The actual monies are by
      way of making amends to sustain the survivors. If it is so, mothers
      also witnessed their married children¹s killings as was Rupa¹s
      mother-in-law. As Sriya her daughter says, "for mothers there is
      everyday pain". I would argue that compensation has taken a clinical
      nature, and the insensitivity factor has re-emerged, without serious
      considerations and flexibility as would be culturally required.

      Let me point to the Argentina reparation programme, which was brought
      in ten years after the Truth Commission finished its reports.
      Although there was no public demand for reparation as the need of the
      day was to locate bodies, and establish truth and prosecute the
      guilty. Thus compensation for some had a sour taste. One group that
      represents the victims denounced state reparation as "blood money,"
      "Life doesn¹t have a price" (Hayner 2000:177).

      It would argue that in the Sri Lankan context people or rather
      victims testified with two objectives in mind; one was that the
      perpetrators would be brought under the law, and the other in the
      hope that there will be some compensation by the state. The first is
      clearly seeking truth, knowledge and justice, which would pave the
      way for healing. The other is the formal acknowledgement from a
      larger political body of the reality that surrounded the death or
      disappearance of their loved ones and the practical necessity for
      accessing some funds for the sake of continued survival.

      I would like to point out some problem areas. Many victims had a
      sense of fear around them in giving Œtestimonies¹ some of them in
      fact were threatened. The threat also extended when it came to
      receiving compensation or doing the paper work for it by way of
      sexual harassment. The fear psychosis generated from agents of the
      state in both situations.

      Recommendations on legal procedures were very slow in coming. The
      President did not publicly comment on the reports 12. The President
      also did not take any immediate steps to bring to courts persons
      allegedly charged in the armed forces due to the on going war.
      However, in the report of the 1999 Amnesty International, it appears
      that some were charged for their crimes (quoted in Hayner 2000: 66).

      One of the things that women expected from the Commission was also to
      have some social support. For i.e. one of my aged informants¹ house
      was burned down, which is now rebuilt. They showed me all over the
      house the burnt marks left behind by the fire. This tour was no doubt
      not only to show me the extent of the loss of property, but also to
      ensure that I recognised death, justice and their present position.
      This could hardly be visualised through the testimony of a commission

      [Full Text at: http://www.island.lk/2002/10/02/midwee01.html%5d

      _____

      #3.

      Outlook (India)
      Web | Oct 01, 2002    
      COMMUNICATION
      An Open Letter To The President
      Some very committed friends of ours have been working with children
      in post-riots Ahmedabad, trying to help them overcome their trauma
      and be absorbed back into the mainstream...
      SHAHRUKH ALAM, NAMITA MALHOTRA, WARISHA FARASAT

      His Excellency Dr. A.P.J Abdul Kalam
      President of India.

      Dear Mr President,

      Some very committed friends of ours have been working with children
      in post-riots Ahmedabad, trying to help them overcome their trauma
      and be absorbed back into the mainstream. We had recently accompanied
      them on a trip to Gujarat, but sadly we proved to be rather inept
      with children; at 25, we already tend to get impatient with them and
      are not particularly understanding of their needs. It was then that
      we thought of you and realized what a great gift you are to the
      children of this country.

      We also thought of you on another occasion: we had been playing with
      children in Watwa, a locality where about 45 families, originally
      from Naroda Patia (and then Shah Alam Camp), have been temporarily
      resettled. Less than dedicated that we were, we soon grew tired and
      went to sit by ourselves at the doorstep of a kholi there. 

      We were informed that it was Shah Jahan¹s house. Shah Jahan, who had
      lost a sister and who had almost been burnt alive herself.
      (Ironically, the bigger the loss suffered by a person, the more of a
      celebrity she became, to be put forward before all visiting
      dignitaries, media personnel, NGO types, etc.) This unfortunate
      Œcelebrity¹ was prodded out of her bleak room to be Œshown¹ to us,
      bandaged, pained face, and unable to play with the other children.

      "She¹s met the President", we were told. Shah Jahan smiled - probably
      at the fond memories of her meeting with you (or if one were to be
      cynical, at the thought of having to repeat her sorrows to yet
      another batch of volunteers). Perhaps, that was the reason she chose
      to steer the conversation towards you.

      She did not talk of high ambitions, though, or of your compassion, or
      even of your sensitivity -which she had clearly benefited from in
      those few minutes with you. We suppose that was a given. She spoke,
      instead, of the promises you had made her and how she clung to those
      as the only words of security that had come to her in a long time.

      She told us that you had promised to see to it that her burns were
      properly treated. She asked us if we could take a message from her to
      you, since we would be going back to Delhi (We told her we could not.
      We were neither children, any of us, nor celebrities to get an
      audience with the President).

      She thought we were being lazy but told us what the message was,
      anyway. She said that she had been waiting for her treatment; her
      burns were becoming more painful, her face was scarred and it was all
      too difficult. She believed that you had kept yourself abreast of her
      situation, and wanted to discuss the next step with you.

      (We tried explaining to her that perhaps she had misunderstood you -
      misunderstood the fact that you had promised to have her fully
      treated and ordered the state to pay for her treatment. Or, perhaps
      you had recommended compensation, but the only reason it had not yet
      been paid, and her treatment consequently stopped, was because there
      were procedures to be followed before money could be handed over to
      victims. Most of all we tried to explain to her that it was
      impossible for the President to keep himself abreast of specific
      cases - despite his concern).

      She dismissed us, of course. It was a matter between her and the
      President. She asked us to fill out your address on a post-card
      (which also we were unable to do very accurately). She will be
      writing to you. The post-card may reach or it may not.

      Respectfully,

      Shahrukh Alam, Namita Malhotra, Warisha Farasat.

      _____

      #4.

      Rediff.com
      October 1, 2002

      Say no to war on Iraq
      Praful Bidwai
      http://www.rediff.com/news/2002/oct/01praful.htm

      _____


      #5.

      Father, Son and The Unholy Mission

      Book Review by Ram Puniyani

      (Book Reviewed- The RSS and the BJP: A Division of Labor, by A.G.Noorani,
      Left Word, 12 Rajendra Prasad Road, New Delhi 110001,PB, Rs.75)

      In the aftermath of Babri demolition there was a new realization in the
      country as a whole that RSS, whose volunteers are generally working in the
      quiet fashion in the area of culture, are not so innocuous as it seemed.
      The Khaki clad, male who worships his motherland daily morning is a part
      of the organization, which in times to come wants to dictate the politics of
      the country, started becoming apparent. The reason for this is not too far
      to seek. This 'quiet' work on one level acts as the patron for the
      politics, which has shaken the democratic roots of the society. And it is
      also the one, which provides volunteers to the children organizations for
      strengthening the saffron politics, it is also the one which is the major
      force which is saffronising the society in a subtle manner. Though BJP,
      VHP etc. have hogged the limelight for times, their subservient loyalty
      and devotion to the agenda of RSS started becoming apparent to all and
      sundry. It is to unravel this deeper organic connection and the hidden
      bridge and the concealed link that A. G. Noorani has put forward his case
      in a manner, which not only is rigorous but also is flawless.

      The strongest point of the book is of course the thorough research, which
      has gone in to the writing of the book, which has very impressive list of
      resources and rare references. Noorani has done a yeoman service in
      marshalling the facts in this book, in turn making it a crucial source
      book for all those who wish to understand this organization and its wily
      methods of operation.

      Though in popular eyes it is the BJP which is the vehicle of the politics
      of Hindu Right, Noorani shows the controlling role of RSS right from the
      beginning of the formation of the Bharatiya Jana Sangh, the less known
      predecessor of today's BJP. The agenda of RSS is Hindu Rashtra based on
      Hindutva and it adopts the definition of Hindutva as propounded by
      Savarkar, Apart from religious aspect involved in the conception of the
      words Hindu and Hinduism, Savarkar had to coin some new words such as
      Hindutva, Hinduness, Hindudom in order to express totality of cultural,
      historical and above all the national aspects along with the religious
      one, which mark out the Hindu people as a whole. The definition is not
      consequently meant to be definition of Hindu Dharma, or Hindu religion. It
      is the definition of Hindutva, Hinduness.(Savarkar, 1942)

      Noorani points out, based on the quotes from Golwalkar, that RSS regards
      the non-Hindus as mere guests and not the sons of the soil. Also of these
      non-Hindus, Muslims, Christians and Communists are regarded as internal
      threats to the Hindu Nation. Noorani gives the correct analogy of RSS
      methods in politics by pointing out that RSS wants to hold the empire
      without becoming the emperor. This method of holding an empire has its
      advantages as the negative impact of the day-to-day politicking and
      corrupt practices of the progenies does not have direct adverse impact on
      it and it can keep up its pure image.

      Starting from this concept, RSS went on to train the young boys, well
      indoctrinated in the ideology of Hindutva, as volunteers for its
      activities. In one of the impeccably referenced chapters (The Sangh
      Parivar and The British) the author shows the subservient attitude of
      Hindutva politicians towards the British Empire, and Savarkars undertaking
      to the British govt. to seek his release from Andamands. He also shows how
      two outfits of Hindutva politics (Hindu Mahasabha and RSS) merged together
      in the form of Nathuram Godse the killer of Mahatma Gandhi, Father of the
      Nation. The need to form a political wing was felt after the post-Gandhi
      murder ban on RSS, when its Supremo Golwalkar conceded to the request of
      Shyama Prasad Mukherjee, an ex-Hindu Maha Sabha leader to form a new
      political party for the agenda of Hindu Rashtra. RSS lent its Swayamsevaks
      to work for Bharatiya Jana Sangh, the previous avatar of the current BJP.
      Two of the most illustrious swayamsevaks are currently the major vehicle
      of communal politics in India, Mr. Vajpayee and Mr. Advani.

      Noorani gives apt quotes from original sources to prove his point. One of
      the most poignant references is from Justice P. Venugopal commission of
      inquiry, which investigated the Kanyakumari riots (March 1982) and from
      Jitendra Narian Commission of inquiry (Bhagalpur riots 1979). These quotes
      shows without any shadow of doubt the role of RSS in laying the base of
      communal violence and the role of its cadres who have infiltrated in the
      state machinery in sustaining it. Two features stand out in all the
      riots-RSS men deliberately march in procession through Muslim areas
      shouting offensive slogans and the slightest response is seized as pretext
      to launch preplanned attacks (Noorani, 2000, 40) Noorani reminds us that
      even Sardar Patel-who would have liked RSS to join Congress-accused it of
      spreading communal poison. In the face of state repression RSS always bent
      and the its attitude on its cadres being arrested during emergency, which
      was opposed by RSS, is no exception. Its chief started sending the
      messages of patch up to Indira Gandhi. In those messages he requested for
      RSS cadres being released but never urged upon her to lift the emergency.

      The author meticulously traces the birth of different organizations from
      the womb of RSS and the assigned role of these for the politics of Hindu
      Rashtra and their role in intensifying and vitiating the communal
      scenario. Be it BJP, (political), VHP (quasi religious), bajarang Dal
      (storm troopers) or the innocuous looking Vanavasi Kalyan Ashram, each of
      them is controlled from the top by RSS volunteers. It is their coordinated
      activity, which resulted in the demolition of Babri Masjid. The current
      Anti-Christian campaign, and other programs of Sangh Parivar are also
      elaborated very well.

      Undoubtedly the facts, the quotes the events that give an insight to the
      politics of RSS are presented extremely well. What is missing however is
      the understanding of social base of this political outfit. Which social
      sections support it and why? How are they able to mobilize the other sections
      in to its agenda? The analysis of RSS as a political onslaught has not been
      elaborated. Why the agenda of RSS started getting more response from
      the decade of 80s is not considered at asll. The book is weak on these
      counts. Despite these omissions one gets a total and credible picture of
      the making and functioning of RSS. It is strong on outlining the realtionship
      between the parent RSS and the children BJP, VHP etc. It is a good and handy
      book for the activists for secular democracy, good source for the meticulous
      references about the outpourings of its leaders. All in all it is a book, which
      cannot and should not be missed by those striving for preservation of the
      gains of our freedom struggle, the values of Liberty, Equality and Fraternity.

      -
      References:
      S.S.Savarkar, Preface to Hindutva-Who is a Hindu, Nagpur, 1942
      A.G.Noorani, The RSS and BJP, Leftword, 2000 Delhi

      _____


      #6.
      SAHIT : FORUM OF CREATIVE PEOPLE FOR PEACE

      SAHIT is a forum of the creative people of Gujarat who believe in and
      strive for peace in these dark times through which Gujarat is
      passing. It includes writers, artists, dancers, musicians, theatre
      and media persons, filmmakers, journalists, academics, architects and
      all those connected with creative activities. Deeply disturbed by and
      concerned about the atmosphere of communal hatred unleashed by the
      events of February-March 2002 in Gujarat, the creative community felt
      a need to have a platform through which to reinstate and reinforce
      the rich plurality of our culture; to create an atmosphere of
      tolerance towards all races and religions in society and to talk
      about social justice through creative expression.

      A meeting of writers and artists was held in June 2002 in Ahmedabad
      in the presence of eminent writer and activist Mahashweta Devi where
      a need for such a forum was first expressed by those present. It was
      felt that the creative people needed to engage in, on a sustained and
      long term basis, activities on issues of communalism and fascism, to
      create an atmosphere of trust and sharing among people, and to
      promote plurality of cultures of our society. There were several
      meetings, which followed to discuss the nature of the forum. Finally
      on 28 July 2002, in a meeting attended by nearly 125 creative
      persons, SAHIT was formally founded. Today about 150 artists are
      actively or through their support connected with SAHIT. We hope that
      many more will join through their participation in SAHIT programmes.

      THE FIRST PUBLIC EVENT: AAVO CHALE SAATH SAATH

      Time: 6 pm onwards
      [October 2, 2002]
      Venue: 'Rang Bhavan', C.N. Vidyalay, Ambavaadi, Ahmedabad

      A cultural programme is organised by SAHIT on 2 October 2002 in
      Ahmedabad , which will have music, dance, plays, poetry recitation,
      puppet show etc by the artists of Gujarat to convey the message of
      peace, unity and harmony among people. The programme will highlight
      the syncretic culture of our country. An exhibition of paintings and
      graphics on the same theme will also be on display. The programmed is
      organised entirely through the efforts of the members of SAHIT
      without any financial assistance from Governmental/non-governmental
      organisations, political parties or corporate sector. It is a gesture
      of solidarity of the artists who are committed to restoring peace and
      justice in society and our cultural plurality through their
      involvement in the activities of SAHIT. In the same way SAHIT appeals
      for cooperation and contribution from all those who are equally
      concerned about saving our rich heritage from all those forces which
      threaten to destroy it.

      FUTURE ACTIVITIES

      In our democratic system the equality of language, religion,
      caste/creed and gender is enshrined in the fundamental rights of the
      constitution. SAHIT intends to strive to protect, through creative
      expression, these basic rights which are under threat by the forces
      that are out to destroy differences of our composite culture and
      society. It intends to organise activities like plays, music
      programs, exhibitions and writing and publishing for promoting a
      sense of peaceful and just society among people.

      Convenors: Kumudini Lakhia; Manishi Jani

      Members: Prakash N. Shah, Atul Desai, Pravin Pandya, Ranjana Aragade,
      Sanjay Bhave, Saumya Joshi, Neerav Patel, Kiran Trivedi, Jasmin
      Mansoori, Amit Dave, Sarup Dhruv, Hiren Gandhi, Ashish Vashi, Bijoy
      Shivram, Sadhana Bhatt, Raju Barot, Pathik Shah and many others.

      Address:

      "Kadamb"
      Centre of Dance and Music
      Parimal Garden
      C.G.Road
      Ahmedabad 380 006
      Email: sahit@...

      AAVO CHALE SAATH SAATH : SOME FEATURES

      Aavo Chale Saath Saath is the first programme organised by SAHIT,
      which intends to present the syncretic cultural tradition of our
      country. The event involves more than 150 artists from across the
      state who will be presenting various performing and non-performing
      arts, besides literature.

      A unique feature of the programme is a collective dance performance
      by six dance schools of Ahmedabad. Its source is six centuries of
      rich Gujarati poetry from saint-poet Narsinh Mehta and
      satirist-philosopher Akho to Umashnakar Joshi. Noted artists like
      Kumudini Lakhia, Bijoy Shivram and Kalpesh Dalal have choreographed
      the creation. Imubhai Desai has composed music.

      A range of musical presentations is an equally important part of the
      SAHIT event. Charul and Vinay who have created and sung songs of
      communal harmony in various parts of Gujarat for several years and
      won many hearts will present their songs.. Madhusudan Vyas will sing
      the bhajan of Kutchchhi folk poet Dula Bhaya Kaag and a song from
      Gujarat’s rashtriya shaayar Jhaverchand Meghani. Raju Barot will sing
      two of Kabir’s bhajans. Muslim biradars will present a Kawwali
      exhorting the Sufi humanism.

      Theatre is an effective means to take ideas to people. Two small
      plays, based on the partition stories of Urdu writer Sadat Hasan
      Manto will be staged by a reputed and committed amateur theatre group
      ‘Fade-in Theaters’ led by Saumya Joshi. Sambhavnath and his friends
      will present a play responding to the recent carnage in Gujarat.
      While these two are college students’ productions, Pathik Shah will
      direct deaf and dumb children to perform a play, giving a message of
      communal harmony.

      Some of the most concerned and committed writers of Gujarat will
      recite their poems. While Saroop Dhruv, Barin Mehta, Raju Solanki and
      Neerav Patel will read their Gujarati poems, Sultan Ahmed, Phoolchand
      Gupta, Mrudula Parik and Sudha Mujumdar will read Hindi poems. Jayant
      Parmar’s Urdu verses will be an enriching experience.

      Piyush Jadugar will display magic tricks exposing some superstitions.
      Veteran puppet-master Mahipat Kavi’s characters will have a word
      about peaceful world. Painters will also contribute to this event.
      The venue will have on display paintings and graphic posters about
      peace and harmony. Two upcoming designers Piyush Solanki and Dilip
      Parmar will co-ordinate the exhibition.

      The script for this event, which celebrates the rich plurality of our
      culture, is prepared by Ranjana Aragade and Pravin Pandya. Noted
      compere Heena Saxena will anchor the event.

      This programme has been put together by a number of artists who have
      contributed in different ways. We hope that many people will
      participate in the event so that our dream of a just and peaceful
      society may come true.

      _____


      #7.

      The Southern Asian Institute at Columbia University is
      hosting a lunch-time brown bag screening and
      discussion of two documentaries on the recent violence
      in Gujarat, ' Hey Ram: Genocide in the Land of Gandhi'
      by Gopal Menon, and 'Evil Stalks the Land' by Gauhar
      Raza.

      Ram Rahman, photographer and member of Sahmat, will
      introduce the two films in the context of the
      right-wing assault on culture and interpretations of
      history, and Smita Narula of Human Rights Watch will
      follow up with a discussion on the violence, relief,
      human rights and justice for the victims.

      Wednesday, October 2, 12 - 2 pm

      School of International and Public Affairs
      Columbia University
      420 West 118th Street, 11th Floor
      Tel: (212) 854-4565

      University ID's required.

      _____


      #8.
      The Times of India, TUESDAY, OCTOBER 1, 2002
      India needs leaders like Bush, Sharon: VHP
      http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/cms.dll/articleshow?artid=23892239


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