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SACW | 2 Dec. 2003

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  • Harsh Kapoor
    SOUTH ASIA CITIZENS WIRE | 2 December, 2003 From the South Asia Citizens Web: www.sacw.net _______ [1] Pakistan: Don t touch the Balmiki temple! +
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 2, 2003
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      SOUTH ASIA CITIZENS WIRE | 2 December, 2003

      From the South Asia Citizens Web: www.sacw.net

      _______

      [1] Pakistan: Don't touch the Balmiki temple! + Misapplying the blasphemy law
      [2] India - Pakistan: All Quiet on World's
      Highest, Coldest, Costliest Battlefield (Ranjit
      Devraj)
      [3] Invitation to World Social Forum
      Globalization and War Assembly (@WSF Bombay)
      [4] India: Speaking Volumes - The farce of the fatwa (Nilanjana S Roy)
      [5] India: [Censorship in Gujarat] Not Much of a Controversy (G.P. Deshpande)
      [6] India: Justice for Harmony march (Dec.6, New Delhi)
      [7] India: request from film maker seeking assistance
      [8] India: [ opposing the divide on the basis of
      religion ] Pearls of Love Calender 2004
      [9] India: Press Release ""special report" to the
      Supreme Court" - Right to Food Campaign

      --------------

      [1]


      The Daily Times
      December 2, 2003
      Editorial: Don't touch the Balmiki temple!

      The Cantonment Board Peshawar (CBP) wants to
      build a commercial plaza at the site of a temple
      of the Balmiki community that has lived in
      Peshawar since 1861. The community was given
      notice till October 30 to vacate the place so
      that the temple could be pulled down, but the
      deadline passed because the defence ministry
      asked the CBP to exercise restraint. The
      community is called Kalabari and has 70 families
      living in the condemned locality. MNA Giyan
      Singh, representing the Balmikis in parliament,
      has brought up the issue and asked the government
      to respect the rights of the minorities. True or
      not, the president of the Minority Councillors
      Alliance, Parvez Iqbal, has stated that the
      Peshawar cantonment authority had no title to the
      property. It was owned before the partition of
      1947 by one Mir Chand Khanna who had donated it
      to the Balmiki community.
      The 'targeted' areas are Garhi Ahata and 84-Ahata
      inside the Peshawar cantonment. This has been
      inhabited by the Balmiki sect which falls outside
      the three castes recognised by Hinduism. In other
      words, they are the untouchables that still
      suffer disabilities in India and are consigned to
      the role of garbage collectors. In Pakistan, too,
      for a long time the Balmikis have been the
      'khakrob' (sweeper) community, but with the
      passage of time their status in society has
      improved. In Sindh and Balochistan, their
      population has decreased after 1947 but they have
      always been treated well. Today their largest
      settlement is in Multan where they are known as
      the city's oldest community. Sociological studies
      have been conducted on them and a betterment in
      their circumstances has been noted by all
      scholars. Needless to say, the Balmikis have done
      well in Pakistan because of lack of religious
      sanction to the notion of untouchability.
      But let us admit it is not always easy to prosper
      as a non-Muslim in Pakistan when Islam is
      interpreted increasingly in an extreme and
      fundamentalist way. Whenever there is a political
      crisis the focus shifts to the minuscule
      non-Muslim communities and some disreputable
      elements of society get away with injustice and
      cruelty towards the minorities that depend for
      their security on the majority community. For
      example, in 1992, just after the demolition of
      the Babri mosque in India, a number of Hindu
      temples were destroyed in Pakistan. The entire
      world condemned what the Indian fanatics had done
      to a Muslim monument; it also had to condemn what
      the Muslims of Pakistan and Bangladesh did to the
      innocent and helpless Hindu communities living
      within them. When the Taliban government
      destroyed the Bamiyan Buddhas in Afghanistan, the
      international reaction was therefore quite
      intense. One can therefore say that one big
      reason why the Taliban lost international
      support, among other reasons, was their wonton
      destruction of the Buddhas.
      It would be inadvisable to oust the Balmikis from
      their dwelling in Peshawar. Even if the
      cantonment board authority has the legal right to
      do it, it should stay clear of demolishing the
      temple. The ministry of defence has done the
      right thing by stopping the cantonment authority
      from going ahead with the job of building a plaza
      in the area. Any other plan would have passed
      muster but not a commercial structure that
      actually replaces a place of worship. CBP should
      spend some funds on the improvement of the
      Balmiki settlement if it can, but it should not
      even think of destroying a place of worship. The
      global backlash will be extreme and Pakistan will
      lose a lot of face just for the sake of a
      commercial plaza. *
      Misapplying the blasphemy law
      In a town outside Lahore a Christian has been
      charged with blasphemy and handed over to the
      police. This must arouse concern among the
      believing Muslims of Pakistan. The incident
      recounted in the press went something like this.
      A Christian embraced Islam and was welcomed into
      the faith by the Muslim neighbours. Another
      Christian, upset by the conversion, reprimanded
      him severely. It is said that when the neighbours
      tried to stop him, he wouldn't listen and
      resorted to harsh language against the convert.
      This led to a quarrel. The offending man was
      handed over to the police after an FIR under the
      Blasphemy Law was registered against him.
      We can predict what will happen now unless
      someone in authority is reasonable and far
      sighted. The police will rough up the wretched
      fellow because he has been condemned by the local
      inhabitants even though the charge against him is
      far from being proven. The case will go to the
      district court. The sessions judge will find
      himself under mullah pressure to hand down the
      death sentence because there will be no dearth of
      witnesses to the man's blasphemy. It will take
      three to four years before the condemned man, if
      he has any resources, will come before the High
      Court on appeal. The High Court may find that his
      outrage against the conversion of a
      fellow-Christian was normal and human and that
      there was mitigation involved in the act of
      blasphemy - if there was any - under extreme
      provocation. Since unfortunately the law has not
      been framed well, the High Court may find some
      lacuna or the other in the prosecution to let him
      off the hook. This whole process will take away
      at least five years away from the life of the
      condemned man.
      Will Chaudry Pervez Elahi, the chief minister of
      the Punjab, come to the help of this ill-educated
      man in particular and such illiterate people in
      general who, in a fit of rage or mental
      imbalance, get trapped in blasphemy cases that
      are exaggerated beyond belief? Shouldn't such
      cases be closed through suitable mediation before
      they are registered as FIRs? *


      _____


      [2]

      Inter Press Service
      November 28, 2003

      All Quiet on World's Highest, Coldest, Costliest Battlefield

      Ranjit Devraj

      For the first time in two decades, the big guns
      have fallen silent on the world's highest,
      coldest and costliest battlefield because India
      and Pakistan saw the wisdom of extending the Eid
      ceasefire in Kashmir this week all the way to the
      Siachen glacier.

      NEW DELHI, Nov 28 (IPS) - For the first time in
      two decades, the big guns have fallen silent on
      the world's highest, coldest and costliest
      battlefield because India and Pakistan saw the
      wisdom of extending the Eid ceasefire in Kashmir
      this week all the way to the Siachen glacier.
      Everything about Siachen runs into superlatives,
      including the fact that the battle to gain
      control of the glacier -- called the world's
      Third Pole because of its minus 40 degrees
      Celsius temperatures -- is reckoned as the
      longest-running armed conflict between two
      regular armies in modern times.
      Estimates of the costs to both South Asian rival
      countries in terms of human suffering and damage
      to their national economies are staggering.
      They are also a measure of the cussedness with
      which the two countries, armed with nuclear
      weapons since 1998, have fought each other for
      well over half-a-century to gain full control
      over Kashmir which now stands divided between
      them.
      Indian author Amitav Ghosh, well-known for his
      well-researched works, writes in the book
      'Countdown': ''If the money spent on the glacier
      were to be divided up and handed out to the
      people of India and Pakistan, every household in
      both countries would be able to go out and a new
      cooking stove or a bicycle.''
      Cooking stoves, bicycles and other items of
      ordinary daily use are coveted by the
      impoverished populations of both countries that
      together number 1.2 billion people --with at
      least 40 percent of them living below the poverty
      line and earning less than a dollar a day.
      India alone spends a million dollars a day on
      Siachen - a glaciated strip measuring 77
      kilometres in length and three kilometres in
      width - but can afford to keep the battle going
      longer because of its larger and more diversified
      economy.
      Of the 3,500 Indian soldiers who have so far
      perished on the glacier, where the real killers
      are cold temperatures, rarefied air and
      avalanches, fewer than a hundred have actually
      have died from hostile fire. The figures for
      Pakistan would be lower, but not too far
      different.
      Journalists visiting the glacier on regular tours
      conducted by the army invariably come away awed
      by the logistics of supplying the men on the
      glacier with food and ammunition. This has to be
      done using helicopters since no road can reach
      the area.
      Adding to the long list of Siachen's superlatives
      is the helipad at Sonam, the world's highest at
      21,000 feet.
      The origins of what many have little difficulty
      in also recognising as the world's 'most absurd
      conflict' lies in the vague language used when
      the Line of Control, which runs through Kashmir,
      was first drawn up in 1949 following a brief but
      inconclusive war between India and Pakistan over
      what was until then the independent princely
      state of Jammu and Kashmir.
      When Muslim Pakistan and Hindu-majority India
      were created in 1947 following the decolonisation
      of a larger British India, the Indian state of
      Jammu and Kashmir or now Indian-controlled
      Kashmir, was not part of the deal. It was not
      long before the two new countries began fighting
      over it.
      Pakistan took control over the Northern Areas and
      what it calls Azad Kashmir, while India retained
      two-thirds of the territory including Jammu,
      Ladakh and the Kashmir valley. No one thought of
      Siachen.
      Because no Indian or Pakistani troops were
      present in the geographically inhospitable
      north-eastern areas beyond point NJ9842 on the
      map, the ceasefire line was not demarcated on the
      ground but stated by the 1949 ceasefire agreement
      to run ''thence north to the glaciers'' until it
      reached the Chinese border.
      ''Since the Siachen glacier region falls within
      the undelineated territory beyond the last
      defined section of the Line of Control, map
      grid-point NJ 9842, Indian and Pakistani
      territorial claims are based on their respective
      interpretations of the vague language contained
      in the 1949 and 1972 agreements,'' says a joint
      study by the Pakistani scholar Samina Ahmed and
      Varun Sahni, who teaches International Studies at
      the Jawaharlal Nehru University here.
      Released by the Cooperative Monitoring Centre,
      Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque in
      New Mexico, the 1998 study entitled 'Freezing the
      Fighting: Military Disengagement on the Siachen
      Glacier' is considered the most authoritative and
      neutral one available on the subject.
      According to Ahmed and Sahni, for India,
      Siachen's geostrategic importance lies in the
      fact that ''its control would support India's
      defence of Ladakh, Jammu and Kashmir against
      Pakistani and/or Chinese threats''.
      In Pakistan's perceptions, say the joint
      researchers, ''the Siachen dispute is relevant to
      the dispute with India over Kashmir, albeit
      indirectly''.
      The claim that Siachen is a part of Pakistan's
      Northern Areas is significant because Pakistan
      has since independence gradually incorporated
      this within the state while, maintaining that the
      Northern Areas were never under the jurisdiction
      of the state of Jammu and Kashmir in undivided
      India.
      According to Ahmed and Sahni, the primary
      objective of Pakistan's strategy ''has been to
      drive the cost of occupation high enough to force
      India to make concessions in any future
      settlement on Siachen''.
      Meanwhile, the ceasefire has encouraged proposals
      to use the glacier for saner purposes than as a
      battlefield, where no quarter has been given or
      taken since 1984. During that year, Indian troops
      were airlifted onto it, beating Pakistan in a
      race to gain the commanding heights of Siachen
      above 22,000 feet.
      Environmentalists from both India and Pakistan
      would like to see the conversion of Siachen into
      a 'peace park' and undo the ecological damage
      caused by heavy troop deployments on it and the
      frequent firing of artillery shells.
      Far from being a bleak and desolate glacier,
      Siachen is a biodiversity-rich area and home to
      snow leopards, brown bears and ibex that are
      threatened by the activities of the human species.
      In June, the World Commission on Protected Areas
      (WCPA) and World Conservation Union urged India
      and Pakistan to include in the normalisation
      process the ''establishment of a Siachen Peace
      Park to protect and restore the spectacular
      landscapes which are home to many endangered
      species, including the snow leopard.'' (END)


      _____


      [3]


      World Social Forum Globalization and War Assembly
      AN OPEN INVITATION TO A GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE GLOBAL ANTI-WAR MOVEMENT
      16-21 January 2004 Mumbai, India

      Despite the opposition of the world's majority,
      the United States and its allies went on to
      invade Iraq in an illegal war that has so far
      killed up to 10,000 civilians and soldiers. But
      while the weapons of mass destruction have not
      been found, the Iraqis' resources have been put
      on sale as part of a wholesale imposition of
      neo-liberal economic policies. State-owned
      corporations will be privatized and trade will be
      liberalized through massive reductions in
      tariffs. With all the official reasons now proven
      to be lies, it is clear that this was a war for
      oil, for market, and for empire.

      Meanwhile, the endless global "war on terror"
      rages on in various countries, giving the US a
      pretext for its military interventions across the
      globe and providing repressive governments an
      excuse for clamping down on legitimate dissent.

      In the face of these distressing developments, we
      call on the anti-war movement to come together
      and act.

      We invite everyone to a general assembly of the
      global anti-war movement during the World Social
      Forum (WSF) 2004 this coming January 16 to 21 in
      Mumbai, India.

      Recognizing that confronting a global warmonger
      requires an internationally coordinated strategy,
      the assembly is envisioned to be the biggest and
      most representative meeting of the anti-war
      movement yet since the invasion of Iraq. It is
      intended to be an occasion for discussing and
      debating the global situation as well as for
      planning and strategizing on the movement's plans
      and priorities.

      It will have five component events:

      -the Strategy Sessions: open discussions and
      debates on the movements' strategies, plans, and
      priorities -Self-Organized Events: organizations
      are encouraged to independently organize
      conferences, workshops, seminars, testimonials,
      debates, and panels on more specific anti-war
      issues such as US bases, nuclear weapons,
      anti-terrorist bills, regional conflicts,
      Palestine, etc. -Activists' Meetings: open
      meetings among anti-war activists, social
      movements, NGOs, etc. in attempt to deepen the
      links among them and coordinate their actions
      -Closing Conference: for announcing and affirming
      the movements' decisions on its plans and
      priorities -Solidarity March: general march to
      close the WSF with a specifically anti-war section

      This anti-war general assembly is among the many
      events during the WSF, the biggest annual
      gathering of a growing global peace and justice
      movement that's united against corporate-led
      globalization and militarization and united
      behind the belief that "Another World is
      Possible!"

      The historic February 15 mobilizations that drew
      millions of people around the world, which was
      first conceived during the European Social Forum
      2002 and adopted as a common plan of action
      during the WSF last January, showed the potential
      of the global anti-war movement. This general
      assembly hopes to further translate that
      potential to action, to sustain the movement's
      momentum, and to chart its future direction.

      We hope to see you there.

      In solidarity,

      (Endorsers as of 20 November 2003)

      All Together-Korea
      Anti-War Coalition - South Africa
      Asia Pacific Movement on Debt Development
      Asian Peace Alliance
      Asian Peace Alliance-Japan
      ATTAC-Japan
      Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (UK)
      Campaña por la Desmilitarización de las Américas (CADA)
      Center for Economic Research and Social Change
      Coalition for Nuclear Disarmament and Peace (India)
      Condi-Iraqi National Democratic Coalition
      Continental Campaign Against FTAA
      Corp Watch (USA)
      Central Unica de los Trabajadores (CUT) (Brazil)
      El Foro Social de Madrid
      Focus on the Global South
      Freedom from Debt Coalition
      Gathering for Peace-Philippines
      GENSUIKIN (Japan Congress Against A-& H-Bombs)
      GENSUIKYO (Japan Council Against A and H Bombs)
      Global Exchange
      Globalize from Below-Korea
      Hemispheric Social Alliance
      Iniciativa Mexicana Contra la Guerra.
      No en Nuestro Nombre
      International Association of Peace Messenger Cities
      International Civilian Campaign for the Protection of the Palestinian People
      Italian Movements of the European Social Forum
      Jubilee South KALAYAAN! (Katipunan para sa Pagpapalaya ng Sambayanan)
      Philippines Korean Federation of Medical Groups for Health Rights (KFHR)
      National Youth and Student Peace Coalition (USA)
      Nuclear Free Philippines Coalition People's Plan Study Group (Japan)
      People's Task Force for Bases Clean Up-Philippines Peace Boat (Japan)
      Red Mexicana de Accion frente al Libre Comercio
      Social Movements Network Solidarity (USA)
      Stop the War Coalition - UK
      Stop the War Coalition - Greece
      The All India Peace & Solidarity Organisation (AIPSO)
      The ASR Resource Centre
      The Muslim Youth Movement of South Africa
      The No War on Iraq Coordination-Turkey
      The People's Peace Alliance (Pakistan)
      The South Asian Women for Peace United for Peace and Justice - US
      World Peace Council Youth for Unity and Voluntary Action (YUVA) (India)


      _____


      [4]

      Business Standard
      December 02, 2003


      SPEAKING VOLUMES
      The farce of the fatwa

      Nilanjana S Roy

      The West Bengal government's ban on Taslima
      Nasreen's autobiography, Dwikhandita, is history
      repeating itself - as farce rather than tragedy.

      The fatwa we all remember best is the Valentine's
      Day edict passed on Salman Rushdie in 1989 after
      he wrote The Satanic Verses. Rushdie is a writer
      of tremendous power, who wields his imagination
      and his curiosity as twin swords.

      The ban on Satanic Verses had worldwide
      repercussions: Rushdie's publishers were
      threatened, his translators attacked, he went
      into an exile from which he has not quite
      returned to a normal life.

      The charge against Satanic Verses was that
      Rushdie had committed blasphemy by evoking the
      life of the Prophet in certain terms; the Indian
      government was one of the first to cravenly
      endorse the ban, citing the fear that it might
      spark off "communal tension".

      Even those of us who violently opposed the ban,
      arguing in favour of the freedom of the author to
      write as he chose, knew that Satanic Verses was a
      potential flashpoint.

      The question then, for many of us, was whether it
      was worth risking potential violence - wrecked by
      people who certainly wouldn't rank among
      Rushdie's true audience in India - in order to
      uphold freedom of speech.

      In my view, the government caved in. It should
      have been protecting Rushdie's right to free
      expression and prosecuting those who chose to
      respond with acts of violence rather than
      reasoned argument, instead of ducking the issue.

      Taslima Nasreen is not and will never be of the
      same calibre as the Rushdies of the world. But
      when Rushdie wrote these lines, he may have had
      in mind the rights of lesser authors as well as
      those of the truly great.

      "I have grown determined to prove that the art of
      literature is more resilient than what menaces
      it," he wrote on the tenth anniversary of the
      fatwa.

      "The best defence of literary freedoms lies in
      their exercise, in continuing to make
      untrammelled, uncowed books."

      Few of us expected that the Bangladesh government
      would fail to ban Nasreen's autobiography -
      published in that country as Ka --given its track
      record with her work.

      But few of us expected the West Bengal state
      government to follow the lead provided by Dhaka.
      The book was already under attack: West Bengal's
      intellectuals have been taken aback by Nasreen's
      frankness about her sexual life.

      Nasreen has pointed out that she has been just as
      frank about her childhood, about the growth of
      her political convictions, and she sees no reason
      to veil this one aspect of her life over, given
      the freedom with which she speaks of the rest.

      Those who were dismayed at finding themselves
      written about with devastating openness have
      denounced Nasreen, or, like Syed Shamsul Haque
      and Syed Hasmat Jalal, have filed defamation
      suits against her.

      The government's reasons for banning Dwikhandita
      concern not Nasreen's depiction of her love life,
      but her views on Islam.

      It boils down to two pages - 49 and 50 - where
      Nasreen has made comments of this nature: "The
      history of Islam says that the Arabs used toŠbury
      girl children and Mohammed put an end to all this
      misery. However, misery I think has increasedŠ"
      Why is this considered offensive?

      It's a critique of Islam and specifically of the
      position of women in a specific Islamic society;
      since when has any religion been beyond
      criticism? The state government's position is
      that the passages could "incite ill-feeling"; the
      band of Muslim intellectuals who wrote asking the
      chief minister to do something about the book
      felt that the passages in question could be used
      by "mischief-makers".

      In an attempt to keep its options open, the state
      government has hinted that the ban might be
      raised if the publishers delete the offending
      sections.

      Of course, what has happened is the exact
      opposite of what was intended. When the Satanic
      Verses was banned, it became something of a badge
      of honour to own a photostatted, samizdat copy of
      the book.

      In Delhi's Bengali-dominated Chittaranjan Park, a
      bookseller told me he'd run out of copies of
      Dwikhandita because it was selling so fast; he
      also offered, as inducement if I returned later,
      photostatted pages of the more controversial
      sections of the book.

      Many newspapers have printed the controversial
      sections on Islam and have paraphrased the
      incidents concerning Jalal and Haque that are now
      in dispute.

      If the purpose of the ban is to prevent people
      from reading the book - guess what? It's not
      working. Instead, even those who might have
      bypassed Nasreen's work on the grounds that she
      can be an exceptionally tedious writer have read
      at least an abridged version of what she has to
      say.

      Nor do I understand why a work of literature must
      be held responsible for the bigoted or
      irresponsible reactions it evokes in the
      non-literary.

      The issue when Habib Tanvir's theatre group was
      under fire for enacting Ponga Pundit shouldn't
      have been about the merits of the play.

      It should have been about coming down hard on the
      behaviour of those members of the Sangh Parivar
      who disrupted performances, smashed furniture and
      menaced the actors.

      Similarly, the issue with Dwikhandita shouldn't
      revolve around her critique of Islam, which as a
      writer and a thinking human being, she is
      entitled to do.

      If the government isn't capable of reining in the
      few miscreants who would use this or any other
      suitable fodder to start riots, it's not doing
      its job.

      What the West Bengal government should have done
      is to trust that the reading population of the
      state was mature enough to make up its own mind
      about the merits of Nasreen's work. We don't need
      the chief minister to nanny us, to decide what we
      are or aren't qualified to read.


      _____


      [5]

      Economic and Political Weekly
      November 22, 2003
      OF Life, Letters and Politics

      Not Much of a Controversy

      Most protesters against censorship are rather
      selective in their approach. They let some forms
      or instances of censorship go unattacked. But
      there is a further question. Can we subordinate
      the question of violence arising as a reaction to
      a book or a film or a play to the question of
      freedom of expression? Everyone interested in the
      arts and apprehensive about the state of the arts
      and of freedom in the country has to pose and
      answer this question.

      GPD

      The Gujarat Censor Board has banned a play in
      Urdu on Maulana Azad by Sayeed Alam. The play was
      scheduled to be performed on November 9. Going by
      reports in the press the Gujarat government
      Censor Board has given no specific reason
      relating to the text of the play. All that it has
      said is that in its view the performance of the
      play in Ahmedabad was likely to lead to a big
      'hungama' presumably causing some violence and
      damage to human life and property. The reason
      given is not very different from what the Rajiv
      Gandhi government had given when it had banned
      the import of Salman Rushdie's now almost
      forgotten novel Satanic Verses. The show was
      organised by Darpan, Mallika Sarabhai's
      institution in Ahmedabad.

      It is possible that it is an act of revenge as
      far as the government of Gujarat is concerned. If
      that is the case it is clearly indefensible.
      Mallika Sarabhai is of the view that both the
      case against her and now the cancellation of the
      play are the consequence of her speaking out
      against the atrocities during last year's riots
      in Gujarat. While this might be true it is also
      clear that in such an eventuality the question of
      censorship would not be the primary question. It
      would be a revenge play of a kind. Nothing more,
      nothing less.

      The censorship question would be of a different
      order altogether. Censorship of plays has always
      existed in western India. It was there in the
      bilingual Bombay state which included both the
      present-day Maharashtra and Gujarat. The
      provisions in the Gujarat law today may not be
      different from the law in the bilingual state.
      Interestingly there has not been any
      significant anti-censorship movement in the two
      states. Nobody raises any voices against the law
      itself until some such case surfaces. As the
      Delhi-based producer-author of the play has
      discovered, the moment the Censor Board concerned
      raises its finger everyone remembers the
      tyrannical rule of the Censor Board. As Sayeed
      Alam has discovered, nobody seems to know what to
      do in the circumstances. He has chosen to play up
      the fact that the government of you-know-who has
      banned the play. A politically correct position
      to take, no doubt. But it misses the central
      point inasmuch as it is not a position against
      censorship. To reduce that question to party
      positions is to give up the battle. Of course one
      does not know if Alam even has a firm and
      consistent position on the question of censorship
      and whether he had taken firm positions on
      similar questions. What was his position, if he
      had any, on Satanic Verses for example? We do not
      know.

      He himself has ventured speculation as to what
      the censoring authorities might have found
      objectionable. They may have taken objection to
      one line in the play. This line, which is in
      English in an otherwise Urdu play, quotes Azad as
      saying, "To a large extent Sardar Patel was
      responsible for Partition". We do not know the
      entire dialogue to say for certain if the
      portrayal of Azad would have suffered if this
      sentence had not been there. No playwright can
      take a position that either he or his director
      does not edit in or out a sentence or two from
      the text of a play. Why is it that he did not
      offer to do that?

      Of course there is a matter of principle
      involved. Who are these censor-people to dictate
      a sentence in or out? A legitimate question. The
      problem in the last analysis is that of state
      censorship. The fact of the matter is that you
      cannot then make an issue of a single, isolated
      case without relating it to the general argument
      against censorship. There is nothing that Sayeed
      Alam or Mallika Sarabhai has said which is
      against 'censorship'. For all one knows they do
      not have a position on this. For if they had they
      would have noticed that the Censor Board's
      argument is not different from the one used to
      rationalise the ban on Satanic Verses. Quite
      frankly it is an insoluble dilemma. The censoring
      authorities cannot turn a blind eye to the
      possibility of angry and possibly violent
      reactions to a play which cites a major leader as
      saying that Sardar Patel might have been
      responsible for India's partition and that too in
      Gujarat. To say that it has provoked no one
      elsewhere is neither here nor there. The Rajiv
      Gandhi government had decided to ban Satanic
      Verses under a similar view. One cannot hold the
      earlier decision right and find fault with the
      latter.

      We call this an insoluble dilemma for two
      reasons. One is that most protesters against
      censorship are rather selective in their
      approach. They let one form or instance of
      censorship go unattacked. The case of the
      above-mentioned Rushdie book is one in point.
      Ultimately these arguments turn
      counterproductive. We have to be extra careful
      about the polemical strategies that we employ.

      But there is a further question. Is it possible
      to ignore the question of peace and well-being of
      the people? Do we or can we subordinate the
      question of violence arising as a reaction to a
      book or a film or a play to the question of
      freedom of expression? And why? We have not read
      anything in public debates in India which even
      cursorily mentions these questions, let alone
      answering them. Everyone interested in the arts
      and apprehensive about the state of the arts and
      freedom in this country has to pose these
      questions and, more important, try and answer
      them.

      Further, the whole question cannot be reduced to
      one of the political parties one likes and does
      not like. Polemics serves several purposes. We
      are not sure if it is of any use in deciding
      issues of art and artistic freedom. In this case
      it is not even a question of polemics.
      Unfortunately it is an attempt to project a
      controversy where there is not much of a
      controversy.


      _____


      [6]

      Justice for Harmony march - Insaf ke Bina Aman Nahin

      Friends,
      Please join in large numbers in the protest march
      organized by Aman Ekta Manch to mark the 11th
      anniversary of the demolition of the Babri
      Masjid. The theme for the march is "Justice for
      Harmony" (Insaf ke Bina Aman Nahin) - to
      highlight the need to bring to book the
      perpetrators of the demolition of the Babri
      Masjid and the pogrom in Gujarat in 2002. All
      organizations are welcome to join with their
      banners and posters.

      The march will start at 4.00 pm on December 6th,
      Saturday, at Mandi House circle (Safdar Hashmi
      Marg) we will march towards India Gate, where we
      will conclude with a cultural programme. All
      cultural groups, singers, plays, are welcome to
      bring their performances. The programme would be
      more easily manageable if each performance could
      be limited to not more than 20 minutes each.

      We have attached a poster (English) that you can
      print out, photocopy and put up wherever you want.

      Please mobilise widely.

      In solidarity,
      Aman Ekta Manch

      _____


      [7]

      [Message for circulation on the SACW list.]

      At 2:36 PM +0530 29/11/03, S Choudhary wrote:

      My name is Smita Choudhary . . .
      I am researching for a proposed BBC film on conflicts. Fot that I am
      looking for a Hindu-muslim marriage to be held in few months time
      ideally in Gujarat or anywhere in India.
      Can you pls help me find one ?
      if we find a couple who will get married in next few months then we
      would like to film the kind of problem they go through and the film
      will go out after the marraige.
      Looking forward to hearing from you.

      regards
      Smita Choudhary
      312, Patrakar Parisar
      Sector 5, Vasundhara, Ghaziabad.
      tel 0091 120 2883351 res
      0091 9811142825
      email : smitashu@...

      _____


      [8]

      When the divide on the basis of religion
      is becoming wider.

      We need to pause and think,
      need to look into our history, again -
      not to find reasons to divide us further,
      but to find ways to come closer.

      Dhai Akshar Prem Ka
      Pearls of Love

      Our wall calendar 2004 brings to you the wisdom
      of 15th century poet saint Kabir.
      See the attachment for the design.

      Book your copies now.
      Good discounts and free postage for order booked till 20 December, 2003

      Single Copy Rs. 25.00


      Order for

      Discount

      Instead of

      Pay only

      10 calendars

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      250.00

      225.00

      25 calendars

      15%

      625.00

      530.00

      50 calendars

      20%

      1250.00

      1000.00


      Fill the form & send with MO / DD in favour of Abhigam Collective.

      Loknaad
      2, Gargi Apt, Lad Society Road, Nehru Park,
      Vastrapur, Ahmedabad 380 015 [India]
      Phone: 079 - 6753663 e-mail: abhigam@...


      ORDER FORM FOR CALENDARS 2004

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      _____


      [9]

      PRESS RELEASE
      Supreme Court Commissioners call for universal child care services
      In a crisp and forthright "special
      report" to the Supreme Court, Dr. N.C. Saxena and
      Mr. S.R. Sankaran call for strict orders to
      ensure that basic health and nutrition services
      reach all children under the age of 6. These
      children are meant to be covered by the
      Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS), but
      the authors note that the actual coverage of ICDS
      is very small - barely one fifth of the relevant
      age group. The government has failed to act on an
      earlier order calling for an anganwadi centre to
      be provided in "every settlement". According to
      the Department of Women and Child Development, a
      recent request for enhanced financial allocations
      was "categorically rejected" by government.
      Saxena and Sankaran were appointed as
      Commissioners of the Supreme Court in May 2002.
      Their mandate is to monitor the implementation of
      orders relating to the right to food (PUCL vs
      Union of India and others, Writ Petition 196 of
      2001). During the last few months, they have made
      field visits to several states and kept an
      extensive correspondence with state governments.
      The special report deals with "the most flagrant
      cases of non-compliance" with Supreme Court
      orders. Examples include: (a) failure to initiate
      mid-day meals in primary schools in several
      states; (b) abrupt discontinuation of food
      schemes such as Annapoorna; (c) failure to
      disclose public records relating to food and
      employment schemes.
      In the light of these violations of Court orders,
      the Commissioners call for immediate orders from
      the Supreme Court, including:
      * Universalization of the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS).
      * Immediate provision of mid-day meals in all primary schools.
      * Implementation of Jaya Prakash Narayan
      Employment Guarantee Yojana (JPEGY) within one
      month.
      * No withdrawal or dilution of any food
      entitlements covered by Supreme Court orders
      without the approval of the Court.
      * Antyodaya cards to be given to "priority
      groups" (e.g. widows without support) as a matter
      of right.
      * All records pertaining to food- and
      employment-related schemes to be available for
      public scrutiny.

      For the full report, see www.righttofood.com. For
      further information, please contact Shonali Sen
      at the Centre for Equity Studies (tel 5164 2147)
      or shonalisen@...


      _/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/

      Buzz on the perils of fundamentalist politics, on
      matters of peace and democratisation in South
      Asia. SACW is an independent & non-profit
      citizens wire service run since 1998 by South
      Asia Citizens Web http://www.sacw.net/ .
      The complete SACW archive is available at:
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      DISCLAIMER: Opinions expressed in materials carried in the posts do not
      necessarily reflect the views of SACW compilers.
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