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SACW | 31 May -1 June 2004

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  • Harsh Kapoor
    South Asia Citizens Wire | 31 May - 1 June, 2004 via: www.sacw.net [1] Pakistan: Sectarianism strikes at the top (Editorial, The Daily Times) [2]
    Message 1 of 1 , May 31, 2004
      South Asia Citizens Wire | 31 May - 1 June, 2004
      via: www.sacw.net

      [1] Pakistan: Sectarianism strikes at the top (Editorial, The Daily Times)
      [2] Pakistan's inner battle for education reform (Juliette Terzieff)
      [3] India: Celebrating the BJP's departure - Only
      two cheers for UPA (Praful Bidwai)
      [4] India: McMedia & market jihad (P. Sainath)
      [5] India: They Made Saffron Scarlet (I.K.Shukla)
      [6] Upcoming Event: Towards Anti War Assembly
      Preparatory Meeting (Delhi, June 5-6)
      [7] Upcoming Event: National Convention On The
      Right To Food and Work (Bhopal, June 11-13)
      [8] Resources Available:
      - [Sri Lanka] "Hegemony and Rebellion: The
      Sangari and Karuna Rebellions by Ahilan
      Kadirgamar"
      - [India] " A Text without Author - Locating
      Constituent Assembly as Event by Aditya Nigam"

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

      [1]


      The Daily Times
      May 31, 2004
      Editorial

      SECTARIANISM STRIKES AT THE TOP

      Someone has killed Mufti Nizamuddin Shamzai,
      chief of the great Deobandi madrassah in Karachi,
      clearly in revenge for the suicide-bombing of
      city's Haideri Masjid where 18 Shias died earlier
      in the month. The police in Karachi, one of whose
      constables blew up the Haideri Masjid, is silent
      about the motivation of the killing, but that is
      quite 'normal' with a department whose personnel
      have been involved in assassination attempts on
      General Pervez Musharraf himself. Mufti Shamzai
      was going from his Banuri seminary to his house
      right across the road when killers on a motorbike
      shot him dead. His son, nephew and a driver were
      injured. Two police guards, which he did not
      think much of, were nowhere around. Everyone knew
      that he was a target, yet nothing could be done
      to save him.
      Deobandi students of the Banuri Masjid came out
      on the roads in many parts of Karachi and
      indulged in angry vandalism, once again making a
      show of strength in a city already harassed by
      violence. They destroyed the police station in
      Banuri Town, making the police force run for
      their lives, and torched a number of vehicles.
      The violence recalls the anarchy witnessed when a
      few years ago another Banuri Town religious
      personality, Maulana Yusuf Ludhianvi, was done to
      death after his sectarian campaigns. The office
      of the newspaper 'Business Recorder' was gutted
      among other acts of destruction of property. No
      one knows who killed Mufti Shamzai but one can
      recall an earlier sequence of violence. Last
      year, massacres occurred in quick succession in
      Quetta and Karachi, targeting the Shias. When the
      government as usual was unable to apprehend the
      culprits, the killers struck in Islamabad and
      shot dead Maulana Azam Tariq, leader of the
      banned-for-terrorism Sipah Sahaba, along with his
      official bodyguards.
      Mufti Shamzai was head of the Banuri complex in
      Karachi. He was rated the most powerful man in
      Pakistan during the Taliban rule of Mullah Umar
      in Afghanistan. One investigator of jihad wrote
      in the 1999s that Mullah Umar and Osama bin Laden
      met for the first time in Banuri mosque under the
      tutelage of Mufti Shamzai. Among his 2,000 fatwas
      the most well known was the one he gave against
      America in October 2001 declaring jihad after the
      Americans decided to attack Afghanistan. He had
      earlier in 1999 already deemed it within the
      rights of the Muslims to kill Americans on sight.
      (The fatwa was later modified in explanation.) He
      was patron of the foremost Deobandi jihadi outfit
      Harkat-ul Mujahideen. In 1999, after his release
      from an Indian jail, Maulana Masood Azhar, a top
      pupil of Mufti Sahib, walked out of Harkat and
      formed his own organisation (now
      banned-for-terrorism) Jaish-e Muhammad. Shamzai
      was clearly inclined to favour Masood Azhar and
      became a member of the Jaish 'shura' (governing
      council). He was already a member of the 'shura'
      of Jamiat-e-Ulema-e-Islam (JUI) of Maulana Fazlur
      Rehman.
      His contacts with Mullah Umar during the period
      of Talibanisation of Pakistan made him powerful.
      When the Pakistan military was constrained to
      make Mullah Umar heed the American warnings it
      sent a delegation of ulema, including Mufti
      Shamzai, to Kandahar in late 2001. This was the
      famous delegation that shockingly turned
      pro-Mullah Umar instead of putting forward the
      point of view of Islamabad. After the invasion of
      Afghanistan in 2001 a new situation arose. A
      five-member 'coalition' of the jihadi
      organisations was launched to avenge the American
      invasion. The coalition was called Brigade 313
      (the number of warriors in the battle of Badr in
      the times of the Prophet (PBUH) and comprised
      Lashkar-e Tayba, Jaish-e Muhammad, Harkat-ul
      Jihad al-Islami, Harkat-ul Mujahideen al-Alami
      and Lashkar-e Jhangvi. The coalition was said to
      be responsible for the killings of Christians in
      Murree, Islamabad and Taxila as revenge against
      America.
      The grand Deobandi consensus born out of jihad in
      Afghanistan and Kashmir has a sectarian creed
      which can't be hidden any more. It has links with
      Al Qaeda and has been responsible for the killing
      of Christians in Pakistan too. Among the
      above-mentioned Brigade, three outfits are the
      backbone of the Kashmir jihad and will become
      critical for Islamabad if General Musharraf
      exercises the option of jihad in Kashmir once
      again. That is probably why the leader of the
      banned Jaish-e Muhammad, Maulana Masood Azhar,
      'disappeared' from Bahawalpur before activists of
      the Jaish and Harkat al-Jihad al-Islami allegedly
      carried out the December 2003 attacks on General
      Musharraf in Rawalpindi. This was revealed by the
      captured leader of Lashkar-e Jhangvi, Akram
      Lahori, and widely publicised in the national
      press. The leader of the Harkat al-Jihad
      al-Islami, Qari Saifullah, a graduate of the
      Banuri seminary, was likewise allowed to flee to
      the Middle East.
      Out of the five Brigade members two (Lashkar-e
      Jhangvi and Harkat-ul Mujahideen al-Alami) are
      the melting-pot Deobandi outfits patronised by Al
      Qaeda. Their activists freely float within the
      Deobandi jihad. Ahmad Umar Sheikh, who had his
      beginning in England with the
      now-banned-in-Pakistan Hizb al Tahrir, was
      released by India together with Masood Azhar in
      1999 after the hijack of an Indian airliner.
      After his release, Umar Shaikh tracked Daniel
      Pearl and got him kidnapped in Karachi with the
      help of Jaish activists. The man who planned the
      abortive attempt at assassinating General
      Musharraf, Amjad Farooqi, was Umar Sheikh's
      associate in the kidnapping of Daniel Pearl.
      Mufti Shamzai happened to be the spiritual head
      of the terrorist organisations banded together in
      Brigade 313. Before his death, Mufti Shamzai went
      on record as condemning the policy of the MMA
      which forced it to agree to a deal with General
      Musharraf under the 17th Amendment.
      The Banuri seminary has lost a powerful leader.
      The power of the Karachi seminary was first
      assured when General Zia-ul Haq got its founder
      Maulana Yusuf Banuri to become chairman of
      Council of Islamic Ideology in 1979. Needless to
      say, his death will be laid at the door of the
      United States. *

      _____



      [2]


      San Francisco Chronicle
      May 30, 2004
      Page E - 2

      PAKISTAN'S INNER BATTLE FOR EDUCATION REFORM
      Fight pits as rivals progressive forces and old-school religious factions

      by Juliette Terzieff

      Islamabad , Pakistan -- Progressive forces in
      Pakistan, a country often derided in the
      international press as an impoverished backwater
      overrun with gun-toting wackos, are fighting hard
      for changes in the education curriculum here that
      have the potential to bring Pakistan more in line
      with Western secularized modern education systems
      and make it a role model for other Islamic
      countries struggling to progress in the 21st
      century.

      But the battle, which speaks directly to the base
      identity of Pakistanis, is fierce.

      On one side, there are the progressive forces
      that want a modern Islamic homeland where
      religion is an individual choice, such as in
      Malaysia, a developed world player. On the other
      side, there are conservative forces that seek a
      narrow interpretation of Islam that determines an
      individual's life, such as in Saudi Arabia, where
      thousands of frustrated unemployed youth have few
      places to turn for relief.

      Two years ago, Pakistani President Pervez
      Musharraf became the first -- and so far the only
      -- Muslim leader since the Sept. 11 terror
      attacks to acknowledge the damage done by
      extremist tenets concealed in the education and
      ruling systems, and, more importantly, vowed to
      do something about it.

      Frustrated in the ensuing period by the
      resistance to reform put up by many of the
      country's madrassa (religious seminaries)
      administrators, and his reliance on clerics for
      political legitimacy, Musharraf made a tactical
      decision late last year to pull back, regroup and
      tackle government-run schools first.

      But this battle is proving just as hard.

      Just over a month ago, Pakistan's education
      minister, Zubaida Jalal, was shouted out of
      parliament for suggesting changes to the current
      syllabus -- changes including the removal of some
      Koranic verses and substituting words that might
      be contributing to making Pakistan a
      less-tolerant, militant-minded society.

      For example, in the eighth class social studies
      book in Sindh province, authors swapped the word
      "martyrdom" for "demolition" when describing the
      1992 destruction of the 16th century Babri mosque
      at the hands of a million Hindu nationalists. The
      Urdu language book for the seventh class changed
      the description of the deaths of the Prophet
      Mohammed's companions from "martyrdom" to
      "murder."

      Other changes would have eased the vilification
      of Hindus and foreigners prevalent in many of the
      historical lessons.

      Jalal's explanation that the changes did not
      reflect an assault on Islamic ideology went
      unheard.

      Conservative clerics and members of the
      mainstream Pakistan Muslim League stormed out of
      the session, decrying the effort as part of
      Musharraf's plan to "Westernize" the country at
      the behest of Washington.

      "We will resist any and all attempts to turn this
      country into a secular state," vowed Liaqat
      Baloch, deputy parliamentary leader for the
      six-party religious alliance United Action Forum.

      Student groups affiliated with the forum took to
      the streets in protest, circulated petitions, and
      called for criminal charges against those
      involved in the changes. Clerics lambasted the
      changes in their mosques, in the media and in the
      streets.

      The result?

      Prime Minister Zafarullah Khan Jamali spent days
      talking to every form of media in the country,
      promising nothing contrary to Islam or Pakistan
      would be in the syllabus and that the proposed
      changes would not happen.

      In other words, pro-modern, tolerant, worldly
      forces found themselves on the run as the
      government backed down.

      "This is all about tactics," said physics
      Professor A.H. Nayyar, who co- authored a report
      last year for Islamabad's Sustainable Development
      Policy Institute that heavily criticized the
      current syllabi for containing historical
      inaccuracies and lessons designed to impart
      intolerance toward non- Muslims and the glory of
      jihad (holy war).

      Many of the textbooks used in government schools
      are based on a syllabus created 10 to 15 years
      ago -- before the end of the Cold War and the
      advent of the Internet. All are infused with
      dictates of former military dictator Gen. Zia
      ul-Haq, who embarked on an Islamization program
      that spawned thousands of willing recruits for
      military campaigns in neighboring Afghanistan and
      Kashmir and fomented serious divisions inside
      Pakistan.

      "Musharraf would like to see these changes
      happen, but he is facing a lot of problems right
      now," Nayyar said, "and implementation is not
      going to happen in the face of severe pressure --
      and the mullahs know this."

      But this is one of those rare cases where what
      appears to be bad news, is actually pretty good.

      For its many -- many, many, many -- problems,
      Pakistan has a relatively open society when
      compared to other Muslim countries -- such as
      Syria, Egypt and Saudi Arabia. Dissent is,
      largely, tolerated. The press is, mostly, free.
      The national pastime -- arguing, shouting,
      crying, lamenting - - is alive and well. And
      there is no other issue more important for
      Pakistan in a post-Sept. 11 world than to decide
      if its future will be better than the past or
      whether its past will determine its future -- a
      debate sadly quashed by autocratic rulers in most
      Muslim countries.

      "This battle goes right to the heart of what we
      Pakistanis want Pakistan to be," said Nayyar.
      "It's not about going against Islam. It is a
      question of whether we want to be Muslims of the
      21st century or the 16th."

      Should Musharraf lose this particular battle, the
      war is not lost, for the debate will surely go on
      -- and that is a lesson political rulers across
      the globe would do well to learn.

      Juliette Terzieff, a member of the Chronicle
      Foreign Service, is based in Pakistan.



      _____


      [3]

      Kashmir Times
      31 May 2004

      CELEBRATING THE BJP'S DEPARTURE
      ONLY TWO CHEERS FOR UPA
      by Praful Bidwai

      After a historic election that sent the sectarian
      Bharatiya Janata Party packing, Mr Manmohan Singh
      has put together a Council of Ministers which
      reflects India's immense regional diversity and
      cultural plurality. The composition of the new
      United Progressive Alliance government is
      particularly reassuring and indeed empowering for
      India's religious and ethnic minorities,
      consisting of over 250 million people, who
      experienced a sense of insecurity and
      marginalisation, if not outright victimisation,
      under the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance.
      But it is no less satisfying for the religious
      majority, itself highly diverse and
      differentiated, most of whose members have never
      had an iota of sympathy for the retrograde and
      communal politics of the BJP.
      Even the name of the new ruling coalition, with
      its felicitous reference to progress or people's
      empowerment and unity or social cohesion, is a
      pleasant departure from the viciously divisive
      policies of the NDA. More important, the UPA's
      self-appellation is a reminder of its mandate,
      itself an act of self-assertion by India's poor.
      Broadly speaking, the Indian voter has put the
      issues of equity and distributive justice firmly
      on the agenda. She has pronounced a clear,
      unambiguous, verdict against managerial-style
      politics based upon economic elitism, a corporate
      takeover of policy and pitiless disdain for the
      underprivileged. And she has delivered a powerful
      rebuff to communalists and inciters of hatred.
      The UPA's mandate is not just for growth or
      development. It is for equitable growth and for
      development which has people right at its centre.
      It is not just for "detoxification" or the
      cleansing of the many institutions that the BJP
      corrupted and communalised. It is for healing and
      repairing the secular fabric of India, which has
      been severely damaged by the NDA over the past
      six years. It is for reintegrating the values of
      humanity and decency into the very core of Indian
      politics and for reasserting the centrality of
      the principle of popular sovereignty.
      This is a highly positive, forward-looking and
      broad-ranging mandate from the people.
      Regrettably, the selection of personnel and
      allocation of portfolios by Mr Singh does not
      adequately reflect its progressive nature. This
      is not because the Congress party has kept all
      the prestigious high-profile portfolios for
      itself-including, Finance, Home, Foreign Affairs
      and Defence. Rather, it is because its choice of
      ministers is mixed and in many ways conservative.
      It falls short of what is needed.
      To be fair, we must first look at the upside. The
      appointment of Mr Natwar Singh as Foreign
      Minister and the allocation of Human Resource
      Development to Mr Arjun Singh, of Agriculture and
      Food to Mr Sharad Pawar, Information and
      Broadcasting to Mr S. Jaipal Reddy, and Petroleum
      and Panchayati Raj to Mr Mani Shankar Aiyar are
      all very welcome. Mr Natwar Singh will hopefully
      bring his strongly non-aligned perspective and
      his experience in multilateral diplomacy to bear
      upon our foreign policy. Under the NDA, this
      became obsessively pro-US to the point that India
      almost sent troops to Iraq. A year ago, Mr Advani
      made a commitment to this effect during his US
      visit. In the absence of popular protests against
      that unjust war and occupation, the NDA would
      certainly have despatched Indian troops. Under Mr
      Singh, we can expect some progress in
      normalisation of relations with China, Pakistan
      and other neighbours.
      Mr Pawar, an able administrator, faces a massive
      challenge in revitalising India's crisis-ridden
      agriculture and, even more important, beefing up
      our collapsing food security. Mr Reddy can be
      trusted to make a sincere, purposive effort to
      establish Prasar Bharati as a genuinely
      autonomous corporation and to regulate the media
      fairly. And Mr Arjun Singh will doubtless try to
      purge the education system, the NCERT's textbooks
      and the national research councils system of
      toxic Hindutva influence. This is a subject close
      to his heart. Throughout his career, Mr Singh has
      never wavered on secularism. Mr Aiyar will
      undoubtedly put an end to pernicious attempts to
      sell off India's cash-rich public sector oil
      companies, although he must take unpleasant
      decisions like raising the retail prices of
      diesel, kerosene and petrol very, very soon
      because of the high world prices of crude.
      Equally significant are second-rung appointments
      such as those of Mr Dayanidhi Maran (IT &
      Communications), the Northeast's P.R. Kyndiah
      (Tribal Affairs), Mr Shibu Soren (Coal; Mines &
      Minerals), the Dalit leaders Ms Meira Kumar and
      Ms Selja (respectively Social Justice and
      Empowerment, and Urban Employment & Poverty
      Alleviation) and Mr Prithviraj Chavan (Minister
      of State in the PMO). Mr Chavan is one of the
      Congress's most serious young leaders.
      However, one does get the impression that
      individuals like Mr Laloo Prasad Yadav and Mr
      Kabil Sibal have been given lighter portfolios
      than they deserve. By contrast, a relatively
      poorly known leader like Mr A Ramdoss (PMK) has
      been given a weighty ministry like Health &
      Family Welfare and Mr Kamal Nath has been
      rewarded with both Commerce and Industry. Mr Nath
      didn't distinguish himself as Environment
      Minister in the 1990s. He diverted a whole river
      in order to enhance the value of a hotel he owns
      in Himachal.
      The Commerce Minister will be called upon to play
      a crucial role in the coming round of WTO
      negotiations in which India's stand, like that of
      Brazil and South Africa, as well as the least
      developed countries', will matter a great deal.
      At stake is unrestricted trade in services.
      Successful negotiations will need high integrity,
      acute comprehension and a global perspective, as
      well as an understanding of the national interest.
      Consider the real downside. Messrs P.
      Chidambaram, Pranab Mukherjee and Shivraj Patil
      raise even more disturbing questions given their
      past record. Mr Chidambaram is an
      ideologically-driven neoliberal, who like many
      other Harvard Business School (N.B: not Harvard
      University) graduates, especially in Latin
      America, remains dedicated to "free-market"
      dogmas. These are the very same policies which
      increased poverty and income disparities in India
      and which were resoundingly rejected by the
      electorate.
      There is a difference in the "reforms" adsorbed
      by Mr Chidambaram and Mr Manmohan Singh. Mr Singh
      triggered India's neoliberal turn in 1991 because
      he then believed there was no alternative to this
      after the collapse of the Soviet Union. But he is
      not a "free-market" zealot. He opposes the
      privatisation of the public sector or its
      dismantling "for ideological reasons"; he says it
      should be "allowed to grow if [it] can compete on
      an equal footing with [the] private sector".
      Today, Mr Singh would be far more cautious and
      more responsive to people's needs. It would have
      been preferable if he had kept Finance himself.
      Mr Chidambaram's appointment seems to be a panic
      response to the recent stockmarket crisis, which
      was in part deliberately rigged to solicit
      pro-business signals from the government.
      Neither Mr Mukherjee nor Mr Patil can even
      remotely be accused of being imaginative and
      boldly innovative or of firmness in adhering to
      principle. That's precisely what's needed today
      in Defence, which cries out for streamlining,
      deep cuts in wasteful budgets and action against
      extensive corruption. Similarly, Home holds the
      key to resolving the Ayodhya dispute through an
      equitable formula, to abolishing POTA and other
      draconian laws, and to outlawing Togadia-style
      hate-speech and VHP-Bajrang Dal-style hate-acts.
      Mr Patil does not exude much hope in this regard.
      Mr Mukherjee has been very close to certain
      manipulative business houses. In the past, he
      adopted hawkish positions on the nuclear issue
      and on Pakistan.
      The present moment offers a unique opportunity
      for historic reconciliation with Pakistan.
      Islamabad has invested great energy-and hope-in
      the peace process. The regional and international
      circumstances are also ripe for a major
      breakthrough. Mr Manmohan Singh himself will have
      to take the initiative here and push through bold
      new proposals. Peace with Pakistan will be a huge
      gain. It will qualitatively improve India's
      security and free resources for investment in
      public services and in development.
      Equally important, it will remove a major plank
      from the communalists' demonology, which blames
      Pakistan and the ISI for all of India's domestic
      problems as well as terrorism, and which vilifies
      Indian Muslims as Pakistan's Fifth Column. Peace
      with Pakistan is a precondition for India's
      realisation of its true potential globally,
      regionally, and domestically.
      Mr Manmohan Singh has a huge challenge on his
      hands. His government's policy orientation and
      performance will determine to a large extent the
      direction of India's own evolution in the coming
      years: Will India become a subordinate, passive
      component or camp-follower of an unequal, unjust
      global order in politics and finance and will it
      further enlarge its domestic cesspools of
      grievances and discontents while keeping the poor
      insecure and wretchedly unhappy? Or will India
      move towards liberating its people from poverty,
      ill-health, illiteracy and the multiplicity of
      injustices they suffer so that it can contribute
      to making the world a better place?
      Mr Singh can turn the challenge into
      opportunity-but only if he resolutely and
      consistently favours high principle and the
      public good over pragmatic and parochial
      considerations. But as of now, we must say two
      cheers, perhaps two and a half cheers, to him.


      _____


      [4]

      The Hindu
      June 01, 2004
      Opinion - Leader Page Articles

      MCMEDIA & MARKET JIHAD

      By P. Sainath

      Whose interests do we give priority to? Voters? Or `The Market'?

      SO MAYBE it's safe now to speak about the market
      without its leaping off a cliff, screaming. (Or
      maybe not quite. By close on Monday, share prices
      recovered nearly half the losses they logged soon
      after opening.)

      The hysteria around the May 17 `meltdown' was
      more scary. The Times of India front page
      recalled 9/11. It splashed the figure
      2340000000000 across the page, just beneath its
      masthead. A strap shrieked that 2.34 lakh crore
      of "investor wealth" had been "wiped out." The
      loss of this paper wealth was declared in eight
      column headlines as "Ground Zero." The
      accompanying graphic mimicked the attack on the
      WTC in New York. An image of the stock exchange
      building in Dalal Street exploding in flames.
      And, yes, the hijacked aircraft ploughing into it
      had the Communist hammer and sickle on its tail.)

      Within two days, the Sensex showed what The Times
      now called "instant recovery." A response to the
      `good news.' No Sonia Gandhi. As the extent of
      the irrational behaviour sank in, there was a
      sheepish plea to the markets to behave. This time
      the paper warned: "That markets should play such
      a role, by design or default, in the formation of
      government bodes ill both for our democracy and
      the future of free enterprise." (They're still at
      it, though. Friday's Sensex wrote us an editorial
      on the Common Minimum Programme of the United
      Progressive Alliance.)

      Actually, some in the financial world were
      slightly more balanced than the media. Through
      the chaos, they stressed that there were several
      reasons, external and internal, behind the
      `meltdown.' Other markets too, had been affected.
      Hot money had a role. But complexity confuses a
      media that needs a simple plot. A villain, a hero
      and a happy ending. In the Left, Manmohan Singh
      and a partial bounce-back, it found two and a
      half of these three.

      Dr. Singh seems a reluctant hero. Take his
      gentlemanly defence of the villains: "I believe
      the members of the Left Front are just as
      patriotic as anybody else... "

      Unless I got it wrong, this is new. Will
      patriotism now be measured by your allegiance to
      the markets? Maybe its time for a new anthem as
      well. (The Abba hit from the `70s, for choice:
      "Money, Money, Money. Think it's funny. It's a
      rich man's world.")

      Here's a useful exercise: Check out the
      newspapers for three days after the polls. And
      for three days after the `meltdown.' Compare the
      coverage and, importantly, the passion. You'll
      know which mandate the media see as more
      important. That of the masses - or the one from
      the market.

      In three days, the big media gave the `suffering'
      in the stock market more space than they had to
      thousands of farmers' suicides in the past few
      years. Never mind that two-thirds of our people
      depend on agriculture. Or that just 1.15 per cent
      of India's 180 million households invest in
      stocks.

      Some economists point to the puffed up role
      ascribed to the market. As Prof. Jayati Ghosh
      writes: "In the Indian stock market... a few
      large investors such as the financial
      institutions, big corporates and foreign
      institutional investors dominate. Only a small
      proportion of the stocks are available for
      trading. All the gains and losses are simply on
      paper and do not imply any erosion of the
      country's real wealth... It has been clear for
      some time now that the markets are very poor
      pointers to real economic performance."

      Behind the stock market is the larger notion of
      `The Market,' a much wider political concept. And
      the conflict between that and democracy is very
      real.

      The Wall Street Journal knows this. "Democracy is
      perverse," it whined about the poll results on
      May 19. "Although it is natural for the U.S. to
      suggest that all countries should embrace
      democracy, the lesson from India is that Western
      countries cannot be dogmatic about elections."

      "As India's election will testify, democracy is
      not always supportive of coherent economic policy
      and prosperity." (Read: the voters are too dumb
      to know what's good for them.) On countries not
      yet at India's level, the Journal has some
      advice. The West "should be more hesitant about
      promoting political competition... " For alas,
      that "could destroy the leadership" that pursues
      vital economic change.

      Maybe the Journal worries about post-June
      Baghdad? An elected government that might grumble
      when Dick Cheney's cabal plunders Iraq's oil? The
      Journal's dilemma is a classic one. Market
      fundamentalism versus mass democracy.

      It's a dilemma that has our own market jihadis
      seeking martyrdom. They go a step ahead of the
      Journal. With them, it's death to the infidels.
      "In 2004," writes a leading editor, "no
      government that the markets see as hostile can
      survive." The rhetoric of the rabble "has to be
      tempered to provide for the sensitivities of
      Dalal Street."

      "The markets have spoken," declared another top
      Indian newspaper. But God is a bit edgy. "The
      markets are jittery," explained one business
      editor on television. "We need to soothe their
      nerves." (Hush now, the markets are asleep. Don't
      start off something by speaking aloud).

      So, did 400 million citizens and voters queue in
      blistering heat of 40-plus to soothe the fretful
      nerves of the market? Some of us thought they
      were asserting their sovereignty. To demand the
      reforms they really needed. And to pass judgment
      on the market-driven reforms governments have
      followed. So what happens when poll verdict
      clashes with market edict?

      The Wall Street Journal's answer: Don't waste
      time on the electorate. "The lesson of the past
      week is that if India truly wants to become an
      economic power it has to pay heed to the global
      voters known as investors, in addition to its own
      voters at home." We can listen to our people,
      says the Journal (gee, thanks guys) so long as
      they vote the way the investors want them to.

      Surely, this is a regression? For years, the WSJ
      and others have argued that not only are markets
      intrinsic to democracy, they are democracy.

      There is no miracle The Market cannot perform.
      Market forces, as Swaminathan Aiyer argued long
      ago, are great for the environment. Time
      magazine's Charles Krauthammer sees the market as
      the lifeline for `previously starving Third World
      peasants.'

      Hunger is a function of anti-market systems. Want
      more jobs? Free the market. The crisis in
      agriculture is best dealt with by not dealing
      with it at all. Leave it to the market. Given its
      all-knowing wisdom, maybe the `The Market' ought
      to go out and seek a popular mandate.

      One result of the `meltdown' was the return of
      the small investor to media limelight. It's hard
      for people to weep over some nasty Croesus losing
      a couple of million. The Little Guy jerks the
      tears better. In the United States, this little
      guy is the mythical small farmer. In his name,
      tens of billions of dollars are doled out each
      year by Congress to huge agribusiness
      corporations. Not to the Little Guy.

      No citizen wants to make Rockefeller richer than
      he is. But if you get the public heart to bleed
      for the small farmer, you get the public purse to
      bleed for giant farm corporations. In India's
      corporate media, the Little Guy is the Small
      Investor.

      Small investors are to markets at crunch time
      what the giant shoals of sardines are to the sea
      at lunchtime. A floating restaurant. Marauding
      sharks and dolphins corral the sardines into
      tight herds from which they can eat them in their
      millions. But the seas of the Indian stock
      market, though turbulent, are shallow. The shoals
      have been stagnant for a decade.

      When that other, real small investor suffered due
      to an interest rate crash, many in the media
      applauded. When retired people saw their
      lifetime's savings crumble. When those with fixed
      deposits in banks or with NSC certificates took a
      beating, there were few teary pictures in the
      media.

      There is, though, yet another kind of small guy
      who can get hurt. The volatility now structured
      into the market can, at some point, affect the
      real economy. Then it would hit, as Prof. C. P.
      Chandrashekhar writes, poor people. Even though
      "they do not participate in, or often are not
      even conscious of the workings of financial
      markets."

      Meanwhile, the media assured us all these years
      that the Indian Left is irrelevant. Unless it can
      learn from China. (China's CEO is our CEO?) Yet,
      the same pundits tell us that a couple of
      sentences from the irrelevant Left was enough to
      trigger "Bloody Monday." There you are. Revealed
      - the secret of how to make the markets dance up
      and down in a frenzy.

      Maybe the markets will settle down as they
      realise that even if they dance the Swan Lake on
      one toe, the BJP isn't coming back. Not just now
      anyway.

      Market-worship is not novel. But the insane
      primacy it now gets is relatively new. Among
      other things, it reflects the ever-growing
      corporate links of the media. Links that spur
      them to mislead the public for their own profit.

      "Markets are all about sentiment and confidence,"
      gushed one TV anchor. "We must give them the
      confidence that governments will listen, that
      their interests will be honoured."

      Voters, too have sentiments. Often very
      anti-market ones. They too wish to have
      confidence that governments will honour their
      interests. Whose interests do we give priority
      to? Voters? Or `The Market'? The corporate media
      have given their response to that question. The
      new Government still has time to find its answer.

      _____



      [5]


      THEY MADE SAFFRON SCARLET
      by I.K.Shukla

      Some of the refractory moves threatened and
      planned by the BJP and its cohort, after its rout
      in the Lok Sabha elections, prove that it is
      peeved at having been hoist with its own petard.
      In its cynical disregard of parliamentary norms,
      it had greedily advanced the polls. Instead of
      getting extended tenure, it was unceremoniously
      dragged down. But disregarding its popular
      rejection, it decided to supersede and nullify
      the people’s mandate. All the statements
      emanating from the wounded hubris of a terrorist
      nest attest the fact that it will not be deterred
      by societal norms of civility or democracy. One
      again it bears repeating that RSS, with its
      progenitor and progeny, has been, right from
      inception, a terrorist outfit. Unless it is
      treated as such, it will make mincemeat of the
      law and order regimen; and for this defiant
      deviance, it will gain thuggish adherents and
      foot soldiers in larger numbers, all the while
      swearing raucously by democracy.

      It cannot get reconciled to defeat. It refuses to
      abide by the people’s verdict against it. It
      would not let governance proceed, as is the case
      in democracies, but would engage in mobster
      electioneering on the streets speedily to get
      back into power. This is the fascist turpitude it
      is prone to, and the terroristic temptation it
      cannot wean itself from. As is its wont, it being
      in the minority does not faze it, it claims both
      to be majoritarian and national , more faith than
      fact. It cannot be dissuaded from this delusion.
      In consequence, it resorts to the violence of
      blood and fire repeatedly. Force is integral to
      the fascist project, impelled by its political
      status as a minority.

      Its slogans underscore its deceptions. Collective
      memory being short, who today remembers that
      Atal, in his Jan Sangh avatar, had declared
      Gandhian Socialism to be its creed. He knew, as
      did everyone, that he of the RSS was farthest
      from, and truculently opposed to anything even
      dimly Gandhian or decrepitly Socialist. The art
      of deception was only refined down the years by
      the BJP and its caboodle. The pre-poll
      meretricious slogans - India Shining and Feel
      Good - came out of this mint of terribly
      expensive mendacity. Recall how Advani was sore
      that Congress was pooh-poohing it, that Congress
      was out to “demoralize the people” by scoffing at
      it. Now, he admits that these slogans proved
      their undoing at the hustings! Advani has not yet
      admitted that advancing the elections was far
      more untenable and damaging, and morally totally
      indefensible. It was greed for power that had
      guided the wishful certainty of victory in the
      wake of four state elections in its favor.

      Its modus operandi must be analyzed from the
      nationalistic point of view. It sought to fit
      everything to elections and its victory. Kargil
      remains a rancid example. We lost over a thousand
      of our men and officers in that war. The fact of
      intrusion by the Pak army was kept secret from
      the nation for eight months, and the intruders
      were not encountered and pushed back. Those
      whistle-blowers who exposed this perfidy were
      penalized. Just like Tehelka being destroyed
      after it exposed Bangaru Laxman taking a hefty
      bribe, and the coffin scam involving the Defence
      Ministry. In the BJP book of corruption and
      sleaze, crimes were conspicuous by their absence,
      only their exposure was a crime! Pakistan’s
      domestic counterpart, in the Hindu Rashtra
      mindset, were the Gujarati Muslims, subjected to
      genocide, which too had brought it total
      electoral win. The Gujarat genocide also did a
      remarkable thing for the Varna system. It showed
      the Tribals and Dalits their station. They would
      be tolerated only as butchers and scavengers in
      the permanent service of Hindu Taliban. Not only
      Muslims, but also these minorities, were taught a
      lesson they would never forget.

      The BJP licking its wounds of rejection and rout
      in peace does not seem to be a rational
      possibility. It has resorted to permanent
      electioneering, a variant of permanent war. How
      else to keep its hirelings frenzied and in
      fettle? Agitation and commotion, turbulence and
      turmoil – these are blessed weapons of the
      fascist armory. Hence, temple in Ayodhya, not
      India’s development nor alleviation of misery and
      poverty, illiteracy or malnutrition, i.e.,
      people-oriented programs, would remain its
      predatory and parasitic planks in the service of
      the iniquitous status quo, facilitating its
      humongous theft and ceaseless simony.

      What has to be guarded against in this extremist
      overdrive of the Sangh and its coffle are the
      twin major threats: the big business which has
      been funding its various schemes, and
      historically has been the first to welcome
      foreign invaders, and the foreign powers which
      have traditionally supported treason in every way
      possible. Jagat Seth had loaned money to East
      India Company to fight its battles against Indian
      rulers and enslave India. He, as a decent
      creditor, loaned money also to Indian princes and
      nawabs for the same noble enterprise. A few lines
      from A History of Modern India, edited by Claude
      Markovits, Anthem Press, 2002, bear quoting as
      pertinent to the issue here:
      “In fact, in medieval India there existed
      powerful trade networks through which circulated
      not only merchandise and credit…, but also men,
      techniques and ideas. These networks functioned
      in symbiosis with the dominant Brahmin and
      warrior castes, but they were open to contacts
      with the outside. Though we do not know the role
      that these networks played in the establishment
      and expansion of the Mogul supremacy, we do know
      that they were invaluable allies for the British
      penetration, as made clear by the role of the
      great family of Marwari bankers, the Jagat Seths,
      in the East India Company’s conquest of Bengal.”
      – p.7.

      The clamor for continuing the “economic reforms”
      that have devastated several countries, and
      destroyed several communities in India, must be
      understood in terms of the dark corporatist
      fundamentalism that is ravaging the world with no
      accountability and no transparency. Political
      sovereignty without economic sovereignty is a
      useless shell. Political freedom without economic
      justice is a big negation. When the survival of
      millions is relegated to neglect and apathy, and
      the interests of the alien MNCs are allowed to
      override massive human deprivation and disaster
      resulting from their diktats, it is only by
      bloody repression and hegemonic militarism that
      such “reforms” can be enforced. Is India to buy
      into this lethal ignominy and inhuman loot? Of
      course, the aliens will certainly have their
      local touts and toadies, well heeled and well
      greased. Does the CMP not spell as Compromised
      Minimum Program?

      Advani has declared that Congress or its alliance
      was not given the popular mandate. So, it should
      consult the BJP-NDA to run the country. It is
      just like Advani. Was BJP given the mandate? NO.
      And yet it ruled anarchically without ever
      blinking, without ever consulting the Congress or
      deferring to the Constitution. The idea,
      presently being vociferously aired, of consensual
      governance, and continuity in policies, is a
      subterfuge that serves to mollify and crown the
      defeated BJP-NDA and invest it with bullying
      power if not authority. It would repudiate the
      people’s mandate to keep it away from power. It
      would do Congress immense harm were it to appease
      and placate a discredited extremist gaggle.

      Congress owes it to people radically to distance
      itself from anything smacking of saffron.

      31May04

      ______


      [6]


      TOWARDS ANTI WAR ASSEMBLY Preparatory Meeting At Delhi On June 5-6,
      2004 Venue: Deputy Speaker Hall, Constitution Club V.P. House, Rafi Marg,
      New Delhi Time: June 5th: 10.00 A.M. to 05.30 P.M. June 6th: 10.00 A.M.
      to 02.00 P.M.
      Tentative Agenda:
      June 5th: Session I: Overview and
      Updates on war situation and peace movement (Iraq, West Asia, South Asia)
      & dates; participation and division of responsibilities; finances.
      June 6th: Finalisation and adoption of statements on: New Governmentís
      Priorities in the light of CMP Indo-Pak Talks South Asian Context Global
      Context

      RSVP: anil@...; peaceact@...; insaf@....


      ______



      [7]


      NATIONAL CONVENTION ON THE RIGHT TO FOOD AND WORK

      Preparations are in full swing for the national
      convention on the right to food and work, to be
      held in Bhopal on 11-13 June. For details of the
      convention, including the programme, see the
      "Convention" page of the campaign website
      (www.righttofood.com). Summary details are given
      below for those who are short of time.

      VENUE: Gandhi Bhavan, Bhopal (for directions see website).

      PARTICIPATION: About 400-500 activists working on
      the right to food and work are expected from all
      over the country.

      PROGRAMME: The convention will start at 10 am on
      11 June with an opening "plenary". This will be
      followed by three sessions of 4-5 parallel
      workshops and a closing plenary. A cultural
      programme is scheduled for the evening of 12
      June, and a public rally for 13 June (starting at
      10 am).

      THEMES: Twelve broad themes have been identified
      for the parallel workshops: (1) The right to work
      and livelihood; (2) The public distribution
      system; (3) Legal action for the right to food
      and work; (4) Social security and marginalised
      communities; (5) Children's right to food; (6)
      Dalit perspectives; (7) Perspectives of
      indigenous communities; (8) Women's perspectives;
      (9) Land rights and food sovereignty; (10)
      Agriculture and trade; (11) Right to food and
      right to information; (12) Drought and Survival.

      COSTS: The workshop is being organized on a
      shoestring budget, without institutional funding.
      All participants are expected to bear their own
      travel costs. Subsistence costs will be met from
      a "registration fee" of Rs 100 per person for
      three days (with exemption for those who can't
      afford the fee). Simple accommodation will be
      provided at Gandhi Bhavan itself.

      REMINDER: Because of the shortage of space, all
      participants are expected to liaise with the
      logistics committee in advance. You can do this
      by sending a line to right2food@... or
      contacting any member of the logistics committee.
      The members are: Asha Mishra
      (asham_200@..., tel 9826379553), Kavita
      Srivastava (kavisriv@..., tel 0141-2706
      483), Vivek S. (vivekdse@..., tel 011-3091
      7116) and Rajeev Singh (rajeevsonline@...,
      tel 9811185846).

      3. FOOD ISSUES IN THE "COMMON MINIMUM PROGRAMME"

      The new government's "common mimimum programme"
      (CMP) includes some important items relating to
      the right to food. Selected excerpts follow:

      (1) EMPLOYMENT GUARANTEE: "The UPA Government
      will immediately enact a National Employment
      Guarantee Act. This will provide a legal
      guarantee for at least 100 days of employment, to
      begin with, on asset-creating public works
      programmes every year at minimum wages for at
      least one able-bodied person in every rural,
      urban poor and lower-middle class household. In
      the interim, a massive food-for-work programme
      will be started."

      (2) MID-DAY MEALS: "A national cooked nutritious
      mid-day meal scheme, funded mainly by the Central
      Government, will be introduced in primary and
      secondary schools. An appropriate mechanism for
      quality checks will also be set up."

      (3) ICDS: "The UPA will also universalise the
      Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS)
      scheme to provide a functional anganwadi in every
      settlement and ensure full coverage for all
      children."

      (4) PDS: "The UPA Government will strengthen the
      Public Distribution System (PDS), particularly in
      the poorest and backward blocks of the country,
      and also involve women's and ex-servicemen's
      cooperatives in its management. Special schemes
      to reach foodgrains to the most destitute and
      infirm will be launched. Grain banks in
      chronically food-scarce areas will be
      established. Antyodaya cards for all households
      at risk of hunger will be introduced."

      It remains to persuade the government to put
      these good intentions (and more) into practice...


      ______


      [8]


      (i)

      Lines Magazine
      May 2004

      HEGEMONY AND REBELLION: THE SANGARI AND KARUNA REBELLIONS
      by Ahilan Kadirgamar

      In November when the President and Prime Minister
      got entangled in a power struggle, the LTTE
      leadership boasted about the unity and strength
      of the Tamil leadership. It was Colonel Karuna
      himself that said in November 7th a few days
      after the take over of ministries, "We can remain
      patient as long as we are strong." That is the
      self proclaimed 'sole representatives' of the
      Tamils, were so confident of their hold over the
      Tamil community, that they ridiculed the South
      for the differences within the Southern
      leadership. That any democracy would have
      differences did not figure into their thinking.
      But more interestingly the international
      community in their neo-liberal and neo-colonial
      garb, so used to dealing with Third World chiefs
      also seemed to think with the same logic. After
      all, democracy could not be a consideration for
      the Third World, were they not promoting and
      supporting the bombing of Iraq into 'democratic'
      submission. And particularly where their soldiers
      were not at risk as in Sri Lanka, why would
      democracy or pluralism ever become a question. It
      has always been easier to deal with one chief per
      community at a time. The LTTE's ridicule of the
      South did not miss others; it had to say the same
      thing to the Muslim leadership and the Upcountry
      Tamil leadership. Who are your sole
      representatives? And no point in talking to you
      without your sole representatives!

      [FULL TEXT OF THE ABOVE ARTICLE IS AVAILABLE TO
      ALL INTERESTED. Should you require a copy send a
      note to : <aiindex@...>; Please remember to
      mention the required title ]

      o o o

      (ii)

      Economic and Political Weekly
      May 22, 2004

      A TEXT WITHOUT AUTHOR
      LOCATING CONSTITUENT ASSEMBLY AS EVENT

      Constitutions are rarely about change; they are
      codes that legitimise the new dispensation that
      arises out of historical conflicts and struggles.
      They provide a quasi-permanent shape to the new
      regime. In this sense, constitutions are already
      in existence even before they come to be formally
      written. The Indian Constitution too can be
      looked at in a similar light if it is 'disclosed'
      from the authorised location that brought it into
      existence, i e, the constituent assembly. This
      paper looks at the constituent assembly as an
      'event' in the hope of understanding how
      different currents and polyphonic voices came
      together in the forming of the conjuncture within
      which the assembly took shape - as demanded by
      the imperatives of a common territory, tradition
      and history.

      by Aditya Nigam

      [FULL TEXT OF THE ABOVE ARTICLE IS AVAILABLE TO
      ALL INTERESTED. Should you require a copy send a
      note to : <aiindex@...>; Please remember to
      mention the required title ]


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

      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: www.sacw.net/
      The complete SACW archive is available at:
      bridget.jatol.com/pipermail/sacw_insaf.net/

      South Asia Counter Information Project a sister
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      archive for SACW: snipurl.com/sacip
      See also associated site: www.s-asians-against-nukes.org

      DISCLAIMER: Opinions expressed in materials carried in the posts do not
      necessarily reflect the views of SACW compilers.

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