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SACW | 22 Nov - 17 Dec2004

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    South Asia Citizens Wire | 22 November - 17 Dec., 2004 via: www.sacw.net [1] Sri Lanka: Need of the Hour for Peace in Sri Lanka: A Human Rights Accord, Not
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 16, 2004
      South Asia Citizens Wire | 22 November - 17 Dec., 2004
      via: www.sacw.net

      [1] Sri Lanka: Need of the Hour for Peace in Sri
      Lanka: A Human Rights Accord, Not ISGA (Sri
      Lanka Democracy Forum)
      [2] India: Press Release (Coalition for Nuclear Disarmament and Peace)
      [3] Nepal: Not A Hindu Nation (Kanak Mani Dixit)
      [4] India: Babri Mosque - The Liberhans report
      is nearly ready (Chander Suta Dogra)
      [5] India: An appeal from Karnataka Forum for Communal Harmony
      [6] India: Orissa - Where Life Is Cheaper Than Aluminium (Angana Chatterji)
      [7] Pakistan, India spend too much on defence: Doctors say
      [8] Publications announcements:
      - Zubaan announces 'Dawn: A Novel by Arupa Kalita Patangia'
      - Three Essays announces 'The Other Indians:
      Essays on Pastoralists and Prehistoric Tribal
      by Shereen Ratnagar'



      10 December 2004


      Need of the Hour for Peace in Sri Lanka: A Human Rights Accord, Not ISGA

      The Sri Lanka Democracy Forum (SLDF) is gravely concerned about the
      increasing number of violent incidents in Northern and Eastern Sri Lanka
      and urges all parties to show restraint and respect the terms of the
      Ceasefire Agreement (CFA). Many of these incidents are occurring in
      government-controlled areas in the North and East where the LTTE has been
      permitted to carry out their ‘political work’ under the CFA. Whatever the
      deficiencies of the CFA, one positive aspect of it is that it has provided
      a period of respite from the horrors of war to not only the people of the
      war-torn North and East, but also to the people in the rest of the
      country. However, we believe that many of the recent incidents reflect a
      deliberate effort on the part of the LTTE to provoke the Sri Lankan
      security forces into a retaliatory violent response. We call upon the LTTE
      to stop this practice and call upon the security forces to show maximum
      restraint. The international community and especially Norway, given its
      role in facilitating the terms of the CFA and monitoring compliance, has a
      special responsibility to demand an end to the violence.

      For any peace process to be credible, it should be more inclusive of all
      sections of the population in order to be able to address their concerns,
      interests and aspirations. Indeed there is popular support for such a
      peace process. It is right that the Ceasefire should have been between
      the two warring parties – the government forces and the LTTE. But it
      should be realized that the causes that led to the war and the
      consequences of it affected and concerned all the people, and therefore
      any peace process to have credibility and be capable of producing a
      lasting political solution must of necessity include and involve the
      widest possible representation of all sections of the country. SLDF
      therefore, repudiates and calls upon the LTTE to abandon its reprehensible
      stand of obstructing the presence and participation of representatives of
      the Muslim community in the peace talks.

      The LTTE is engaged in these recent violent incidents for at least three
      reasons: firstly to discourage popular support for a more inclusive peace
      process that addresses the rights of all ethnic groups. Secondly, to
      silence growing criticism of the LTTE’s demand for an Interim
      Self-Governing Authority (ISGA) totally under its control. Thirdly, to
      bring pressure upon the Government to recommence peace talks only on the
      basis of the LTTE’s ISGA proposal.

      The North and East of Sri Lanka, witness to politically motivated killings
      and abductions since the cease-fire began, now leading to a daily count,
      has been further paralyzed by a series of LTTE-instigated hartals. These
      general shutdowns, which close schools, government offices, and business
      establishments and which impose an informal curfew on the civilian
      population, have been organized by LTTE front organizations in
      Trincomalee, Vavuniya, and Mannar in the run up to the LTTE’s Heroes’ week
      and thereafter. LTTE supporters have blocked roads, burned tires,
      threatened travelers and taunted and grievously attacked security
      personnel with at least one fatality. Billed as spontaneous protests
      against alleged violence by the security forces, these hartals are in fact
      engineered attempts to provoke the security forces and hasten the North
      and East’s degeneration into a state of anarchy and war. Every ceasefire
      violation is dangerous, as incidents can easily spiral out of control. A
      rash of recent grenade attacks including on the Batticaloa office of the
      Tamil newspaper Thinakkural, on an office of PLOTE in Jaffna, and on a
      privately owned television station, also in Jaffna, speak to the rising
      lawlessness on all sides. But we note with special concern that
      historically the LTTE has used attacks on the military, police and
      Sinhalese civilians to usher in major outbreaks of hostilities. SLDF
      calls upon the LTTE to desist from engaging in incidents that will plunge
      the country into another terrible war, the primary victims of which will
      be the people of the North and East. The Government of Sri Lanka must
      also ensure that the security forces show restraint in their response to
      such provocations and not retaliate against the innocent civilian

      Any commitment to the welfare of Tamil civilians living in the North and
      East, who have disproportionately suffered from the last two decades of
      civil war, precludes the option of war. As such, it is imperative that
      the CFA be rigidly enforced and adhered to and that peace talks resume on
      an equitable basis.

      The possibility of war was given explicit articulation in Pirapaharan’s
      Heroes Day speech on November 27th. In his worldwide broadcast, the LTTE
      leader declared that the ISGA would be the only acceptable basis for peace
      negotiations, threatening that "if the government rejects our urgent
      appeal, and adopts delaying tactics perpetuating the suffering of our
      people, we have no alternative other than to advance the freedom struggle
      of our nation.” SLDF finds this an unacceptable basis for the resumption
      of peace talks: the LTTE’s threats of war do not indicate a genuine
      commitment to peace and a viable peace process. And the ISGA, which fails
      to adhere to fundamental principles of democracy and human rights, will
      not, in any way, serve to advance the rights and aspirations of Tamils in
      Sri Lanka.

      Rather than base negotiations on the ISGA, the peace talks should
      re-commence from the point at which they were broken off by the LTTE in
      April 2003. Particularly in the context of gross and persistent violations
      of human rights, including political killings, abductions and forced
      recruitment of child soldiers, SLDF believes the primary concern to be
      addressed in any resumed peace talks should be that the parties subscribe
      to a human rights accord, and a mechanism to monitor such an accord that
      includes independent international human rights monitors. In other
      conflict situations, such accords were often not only the first step
      towards a lasting peace process, but also ensured the conditions needed
      for an inclusive and sustainable peace based on justice and democracy. As
      the threat of war looms over Sri Lanka there is a pressing need for such a
      human rights accord.

      Sri Lanka Democracy Forum



      16 December 2004


      The Coalition for Nuclear Disarmament and Peace
      (CNDP), India, is greatly disappointed at the
      failure of the recent official talks between
      India and Pakistan to come up with meaningful
      nuclear confidence-building measures (CBMs).
      Although these are no substitute for nuclear
      disarmament they can, when intelligently
      conceived and sensibly applied, make matters less
      unsafe. However, such CBMs are not likely to
      emerge when both governments continue buying and
      producing more conventional armaments thereby
      raising bilateral tensions and mistrust. Nor are
      matters helped through false reassurances about
      Kashmir no longer being a "nuclear flashpoint"
      when serious steps towards resolving the issue
      are absent.

      New Delhi and Islamabad seem to lack the vision
      and commitment to bring about such desired
      nuclear CBMs. The CNDP calls on both governments
      to rapidly move towards:
      1) Separating warheads from all delivery systems
      and making such procedures transparent and
      2) Establishing on both sides of the border a
      zone of non-deployment of nuclear capable
      delivery systems.
      3) A permanent bilateral test ban pact.
      4) Establishing joint teams of Indian and
      Pakistani scientific personnel to periodically
      visit nuclear-related facilities in both

      J. Sri Raman
      Kamal Chenoy



      The News International
      December 17, 2004


      The religio-political miscreants in India do the
      people of Nepal an injustice when they describe
      their country as a 'Hindu' state. Ironically,
      this provides strength to Nepal's ambitious

      Kanak Mani Dixit

      Not since Bengal satrap Shamsuddin Ilyas came up
      from the plains four centuries ago to loot and
      descerate had Kathmandu Valley seen bigoted
      passion fueling wanton destruction. It was
      finally on this year, on Wednesday, 1 September
      2004, that those who nurture religious hate
      gained the opportunity to get back at history.
      They went on rampage, taking advantage of a
      political stalemate between the parties, the
      royal palace and insurgents that had left the
      country rudderless.

      Amidst a more generalized violence that sought
      different targets in 'response' to the 12 Nepali
      job-seekers massacred by extremists in Iraq,
      there were attacks on masjids, madrasas, Muslim
      homes and shops. For a country that had lost its
      peaceful halo due to the ongoing brutal
      insurgency and harsh state reaction, this descent
      into communal violence marked yet another
      national calamity.

      The cognocenti in Kathmandu had long taken
      comfort that the Sangh Parivar's political
      Hindutva had failed to cross the open border into
      Nepal. Inter-community relationships had remained
      placid even in the aftermath of the demolition of
      the Babri Masjid at Ayodhya, fast by the Tarai
      border in Uttar Pradesh.

      But radical Hindutva had been working away to
      build a base in the kingdom, and when government
      disappeared for a day on 1 September, it ignited.
      Two of the major mosques in Kathmandu, just down
      the boulevard from the royal palace, were
      vandalized and partially torched. The sleep of
      two sufi saints from four centuries ago was
      disturbed in their dargahs, as was that of Begum
      Hazrat Mahal of Avadh, who sought refuge from the
      British in the Kathmandu court.

      "We are Nepalis, but they are trying to make us
      Muslims," said one elder. The dreadful
      counterpoint of one craven ringleader was, "How
      dare they forget that this is a Hindu rashtra? We
      cannot have a masjid standing before the palace
      of our monarch!"

      The fact is that civics education does not exist
      in Nepal, where history is as yet all royal
      hagiography. The young hooligans would not know
      that Nepal is not the 'Hindu rashtra' promoted
      lately by Hindutva propaganda, nor the 'asli
      Hindustan' as claimed by Prithvi Narayan, the
      unifier of Nepal and the twelfth ancestor of
      present King Gyanendra.

      To be a 'Hindu nation', Nepal would have to be
      populated entirely by Hindus but that is far from
      the case. The very definition of who is a 'Hindu'
      among the many ethnic groupings is open to
      question, residing as they do in an accommodating
      penumbra that straddles animism, nature worship,
      diverse Hindu streams, and Himalayan Buddhism.

      In such an amorphous coming together of
      identities, those who do not regard themselves as
      'Hindu' - as defined by those who demand
      definition - would make up perhaps thirty percent
      of the population. Meanwhile, those who regard
      themselves as Hindus tend to follow a typically
      syncretistic faith that does not have the ritual
      rigidities identified with political Hindutva.

      And yet, it is true, the 1990 Constitution
      promulgated after the collapse of the autocratic
      Panchayat regime, declared Nepal a Hindu state.
      Simply put, this was a mistake made through
      conservative compromise, when an attempt to
      identify the only the king as 'Hindu' was
      derailed. The reference in the document has to be
      erased through interpretation or revision.

      The odd shankaracharya and religio-political
      miscreants in India do the people of Nepal an
      injustice when they insist on describing their
      country as a primal nativist 'Hindu' state.
      Ironically, this provides strength to Nepal's
      increasingly ambitious monarchy that basks in the
      adulation and seeks to take mileage.

      Nepal's national mosaic is created by the
      participation of more than sixty ethnic and caste
      groups of mountain, midhill and Tarai. Each
      community holds a small percentage of the total,
      and none commands a majority. Making up over four
      percent of the population, the Muslims of Nepal
      are a significant national presence.

      Nepali Muslims comprise three distinct groups:
      the Churaute who live as one with the 'parbate'
      hill population, the 'Kashmiri' who arrived over
      four centuries ago and have evolved within
      Kathmandu Valley's Newar culture, and the Tarai
      Muslim who are culturally one with their
      co-religionists in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh.

      While the many ethnic groups as well as dalits
      have since 1990 discovered their voice to protest
      historical discrimination, the Muslims kept
      silent because of their relative poverty and
      social station. And yet it is they who had to
      face the attackers on 1 September.

      The mainstream reaction against the perpetrators
      of Black Wednesday was so strong that, hopefully,
      this one-time aberration will never again to be
      repeated. For this to happen, the attackers on
      Muslim shrines and property must be pursued and
      prosecuted, providing an exception to the rule in
      a country where impunity has been the historical

      The sudden spotlight on Nepali Muslims is an
      occasion to inform the world, as well as
      indulgent Hindutva agitators everywhere, that
      Nepal is not a 'Hindu rashtra' after all. Such an
      expose will provide the authentic picture of the
      country and its people, and burst the
      obscurantist balloon within and without.


      Outlook Magazine | Dec 20, 2004

      The Echo Of A Day
      The Liberhans report is nearly ready-and it will
      take a hard look at Advani's role
      Chander Suta Dogra



      Dear friend,

      Attached below is an appeal from the anti-communal
      platform in Karnataka (Karnataka Komu Souharda
      Vedike) which has been leading the fight against
      the Sangh Parivar's attempt to communalise the
      state in their attempt to "liberate" a Sufi
      shrine at Bababudangiri Hills in the Western
      Ghats. As the stage is set for another showdown
      among the state administration , the Sangh
      Parivar and the anti-communal forum, the forum is
      sending this
      appeal to explain the genesis of the dispute, the
      forum's campaign/programmes over the last couple of
      years and this year's programme on December 25th &
      26th. KIndly circulate this message among progressive
      circles and strengthen the forum's pro-active fight
      against the Hindutva forces.


      Cultural Festival for Communal Harmony
      Saturday, December 25, 2004.

      Karnataka state is known for its rich cultural
      and religious plurality as well as for
      maintaining peace even amidst communal strife
      that has plagued our country in recent times. It
      is home for many syncretic religious centres
      which stand as living testimony to her unique
      tradition of tolerance and communal harmony. The
      Baba-Datta cave shrine on Bababudangiri near
      Chikkamagaluru is an example of one such great
      tradition where people of different faiths seek
      their God in a common shrine. Obviously this
      unique and glorious symbol of secularism and
      tolerance is indigestible to the communal
      forces. For the last few years the sangh parivar
      has been targetting the cave shrine on
      Bababudangiri with the sole intention of
      destroying this tradition in the name of
      'liberating' the shrine from Muslims. In order to
      achieve their narrow sectarian goal, they have
      been creating unwanted disputes, putting up
      historically untenable and legally unsubstantial
      arguments. To prove their point that the shrine
      once belonged only to Hindus, they have started
      floating new rituals and introducing
      non-existence religious practices like
      Datta-Male, Shobha Yatre and Datta jayanthi
      every year in the months of November and
      December. It is obvious that their main purpose
      is neither religion nor faith , but to target
      Muslim community as 'outsiders' bent on
      destroying the 'Hindu' tradition and culture.

      The irony is that being neither totally Hindu
      nor Muslim, the Baba-Datta shrine is already a
      liberated place. In the name of liberating the
      shrine, the sangh parivar is only trying to tie
      it back to a narrow and sectarian religious
      institution. Both Baba and Datta represent the
      common peoples' tradition that rebelled against
      narrow religious boundaries. Here Hindus worship
      the place as Datta and the Muslims revere it as
      the holy abode of Bababudan, a fakir much
      respected by such historical figures like Tippu
      and the Wodeyars of Mysore alike. The
      communalization of this place is against
      peoples' long held belief, against history and
      above all against the law of the land.


      Karnataka Forum for Communal Harmony, a
      federation of more than two hundred secular and
      progressive organizations in the state, has been
      resisting this move of the sangh parivar to
      destroy the secular tradition of this place. The
      Forum upholds the long pluralist, tradition that
      is practiced in this place and demands its
      continuation without any changes as maintained
      by law. It has been trying to draw the attention
      of the Government and the public the Brahmanical
      character of the BJP and the sangh parivar.

      In order to celebrate this plural, heterogeneous
      character of our culture, the Forum is organising
      a day-long cultural festival in Chikmagalur on
      December 25. The festival aims to highlight
      peoples' culture as against the sangh parivar's
      singular, upper caste culture. It will begin
      with an 'Inter- religious Dialogue' by religious
      leaders, followed by cultural programmes ranging
      from singing and poetry reading to painting and
      staging of plays. Mumbai's famous 'Vidhrohi
      Samskutik Manch' led by Sri Sambaji Bhagat will
      present their performance. Well-known
      writer-activist Arundati Roy and actress Shabana
      Azmi are being invited to attend the festival as
      chief guests. Editor of 'Communalism Combat'
      Teesta Settlewad has agreed to be with us on 25

      Bababudangiri today is not just a local issue.
      It represents our true tradition which is of
      national importance. Communalising it leads to
      destroying the secular character of the people of
      this country.

      Come, let us strengthen this tradition by
      opposing the destructive tendencies of the sangh

      Our Demands

      (*) The District Commissioner of Chikmagalur
      has announced that the administration would
      follow the Court Order and not allow any
      practices that were not in vogue prior to June 1975.
      But he has also said that the Government would
      allow 'Datta Jayanti'. But this is a
      contradiction. The Government is not coming out
      with the fact that
      no such ritual existed before June 1975. We
      demand that the Government should uphold the
      ruling in this regard.

      (*) No communal activity by the sangh parivar should
      be permitted either on the hill or in the town of

      (*) There should be free access to the hill shrine
      for all communities.

      We request you to
      (a) Send telegrams to CM karnataka urging him -
      (1) to take stern action against sangh parivar if it
      tries to violate court orders which allow only
      pre-1975 traditions to be practised at the shrine
      (2) not to bow down to pressures from the Sangh
      (3) allow souharda vedike to hold 'souharda
      samskruthika jathre' on 25th December in

      (b) Write letters to various newspapers highlighting
      the above three points

      (c) If you wish to contribute to the Komu
      Souhardavedike funds, please send in your
      contributions in the form of deman draft or cheque
      in the name of 'Bababudangiri Souharda Vedike'
      account payable at Shimoga, Karnataka. The
      contributions can be sent to the following address -
      K.L.Ashok, Organising Secretary. Durga Nilaya, II
      Cross, Bapuji Nagar,

      Contact address & phone numbers -

      K.L.Ashok, Organising Secretary. Durga Nilaya,
      II Cross, Bapuji Nagar,Shimoga. 9448256216.
      Smt. Banu Mushtak,: 94482 20339;
      Sri Sanathkumar Belagali: 98802-82705;
      Sri Puttaswamy: 94480-00026

      The origins of the Baba-Datta Cult & the Saffron
      attack on the shrine

      The Datta pantha is a primarily non-vedic,
      rebellious cult characterized by its rejection of
      Brahmanical practices of worship. Bababudan was
      a sufi saint. It is this commonality that drew
      these two belief systems towards each other.
      Here there are no moulvis or priests to mediate
      between people and God. Nor is there any
      high-caste, vedic rituals that are usually seen
      in Hindu temples. It is significant and natural
      that the followers of both these sects are
      common, poor and exploited sections of society.

      But the Sangh Parivar has targeted this place to
      create communal tension by weaving a web of
      lies. Every year, they add a new lie to push
      their point. It includes false claims that this
      shrine has always been a Hindu place of worship
      but 'usurped' by the Muslim invaders to spoil
      its Indian character. Its leaders have claimed
      that they would make Chikmagalur another Ayodhya
      and Karnataka another Gujarat. The local
      administration, aided by successive Governments,
      has yielded to these demands by gradually
      allowing in this place new, but hitherto
      non-existent, Vedic religious practices like
      homas, abhishekas and havanas to please the
      Hindu sentiments.

      This is in clear violation of the Court
      directions that only those practices that
      existed prior to June 1975 should be performed
      in this cave shrine. The Court directive makes
      no mention of any of the practices now
      propagated by the Sangh Parivar. In fact, as our
      study team found out, there is no mention of
      Datta Jayanthi till 1987 in any of the
      documents, including the sangh parivar's
      petitions to the Court. There is no documentary
      or historical evidence to suggest that Datta
      Jayanthi was performed at this place. That the
      Government has yielded to the Sangh Parivar's
      demands for fear of alienating the Hindu votes
      for a few years now does not in any justify the
      continuation of Datta Jayanthi which is a clear
      violation of not only the Court Order but is
      also against the Parliamentary Act of 1991 which
      prohibits any changes in the nature of
      religious practices after 1947 in places of

      Thus the people's tradition of Baba-Datta is now
      under threat of losing its secular tradition,
      much against the law of the land, thanks to the
      soft hindutva of the Congress that allowed
      illegal practices on the shrine. It is
      important to note here that there are several
      such syncretic traditional centres in India and
      particularly in Karnataka. It is also crucial
      to note that such rebel traditions have been
      brutally suppressed or cleverly appropriated by
      the mainstream Hindutva forces in the past also.
      Vedic tradition is only one among several
      traditions, but Brahmanical supremacy has been
      intolerant of these other traditions. The
      Brahmanical supremacy has been questioned and
      rejected by rebel religious movements beginning
      with the Budhdha and later by the Vachana and
      Bhakti movements. In recent times, we have the
      examples of Phule, Ambedkar, Periyar and
      Narayana Guru raising questions against the
      Brahmanical hegemony. The threat to the secular
      character of Baba-Datta shrine should be seen in
      this historical perspective. The struggle to
      uphold the secular, peoples' tradition in the
      Bababudangiri should also be seen as a
      continuation of this historical struggle from
      Budhdha to Ambedkar. The Sangh Parivar's
      invented tradition is to be understood as a
      tactical move to erase the cultural memories as
      lived out mainly the non-Brahmanical community.
      Thus the communalism of the Sangh Parivar
      clearly seen is not only against Muslims and
      Christians, but also, to a large extent, against
      the Shudras, Dalits and other minorities. Its
      objective is to destroy a multi-cultural
      tradition and in its place establish a
      mono-culture of Brahmanical Hindutva.
      Bababudangiri is just a pretext for them to
      carry out this hidden agenda. Hundreds of Hindu
      farmers have committed suicide; the attack on
      dalits and other minorities in increasing.
      Perhaps they are not Hindu enough for the sangh
      parivar and it has no plans to fight for their



      Op-ed, Asian Age, December 11, 2004

      By Angana Chatterji

      On December 1, 2004, the Orissa police attacked
      and critically injured 16 adivasis (tribals) in
      Rayagada district. Many, disproportionately
      women, were arrested. More than 300 adivasis and
      dalits (erstwhile "untouchable" castes) were
      targeted for protesting the creation of a police
      station and barrack for armed police at Karol
      village, in proximity to the proposed aluminium
      plant site of Utkal Alumina International Limited
      (a joint enterprise of Aditya Birla Group, and
      ALCAN, a Canadian company) at Doraguda. The
      people were demanding that the state construct
      healthcare and education facilities instead.
      Those injured were sequestered in Rayagada jail,
      denied hospital care, and some were reportedly
      missing. Armed police, the Central Reserve Police
      Force and the Indian Reserve Battalion patrol the
      area as thousands gather, demanding justice.

      The government of Orissa has violated its legal
      and ethical mandate by suppressing public dissent
      through police brutality. Why are state police
      prioritising the interests of corporations over
      those of citizens? Why are rights of those
      imprisoned being violated? History tells us that
      when irresponsible corporate globalisation and a
      callous and authoritarian state collaborate to
      undermine the interest of local communities, it
      exacerbates social suffering, betrays the
      disenfranchised, and furthers gendered violence.
      Exercising citizenship to encourage responsible
      government action, dalit and adivasi groups have
      been protesting the establishment of the
      aluminium plant. The project is expected to cost
      Rs 4,500 crores, displace and dispossess 20,000
      people, and impact rights to life and livelihood
      across 82 villages. The plant might provide
      employment to about 1,000 people over 20 years,
      exhausting bauxite resources in the process.

      Kashipur witnessed state repression of adivasi
      communities in December 2000 as well, when state
      police fired on non-violent dissenters in
      Rayagada protesting the mining of their lands, in
      the process killing Abhilas Jhodia, Raghu Jhodia
      and Damodar Jhodia. Kashipur remains a tragic
      affidavit of the intersections of irresponsible
      globalisation, state complicity in defiling human
      rights, and police participation in fostering
      social violence. For 12 years, local communities
      have been protesting bauxite mining by a
      consortium of industries, condemning the breach
      of constitutional provisions barring sale or
      lease of tribal lands without local consent.

      In July 2003, the Orissa government permitted the
      unconstitutional transfer of lands in Schedule V
      areas for industrial use. Orissa's decision
      contradicts the 1997 Samata versus Andhra Pradesh
      judgment, where the apex court had ruled against
      the government's lease of tribal lands in
      Scheduled Areas to non-tribals for industrial
      operations. In January 2004, adivasi villages,
      Borobhota, Kinari, Kothduar, Sindhabahili, in
      southeast Kalahandi, were razed by Sterlite, a
      multinational corporation building an aluminium
      refinery adjacent to Kashipur.

      The Orissa government is invested in generating
      an affirmative climate for brisk
      industrialisation, without regard for the massive
      social and ecological destitution that has become
      the tragic bi-product of modernisation in India.
      In November 2004, the World Bank sanctioned a

      US $125 million socio-economic development credit
      or loan for Orissa. People's groups and Left
      political parties estimate that Orissa has
      received bids for investment amounting to Rs
      250,000 crores over the next decade, committed to
      large industries and related infrastructure. Such
      investment will lead to employment opportunities
      for only 175,000, analysts say, while two million
      are unemployed and another two million are
      underemployed. The Orissa government estimates
      that 20 proposed mining projects and five large
      dams will displace 250,000 people, radically
      impacting mineral resources and the ground water
      base. Such development will decimate what holds
      value and is sacred to myriad communities,
      accelerating cultural genocide.

      Orissa's development strategy focuses on an
      invasive expansion of power, mining and heavy
      industry, tourism and agriculture, related
      infrastructure, and the privatisation of public
      resources. Corporate activity and dominant
      development in Orissa remain divorced from
      people's participation in decision-making.
      Maldevelopment imperils environmental health,
      endangering people who depend on natural
      resources for subsistence. The state often
      charges poor rural communities with the primary
      responsibility for ecological degradation, while
      plans for allaying rural poverty emphasise
      capital-intensive strategies that alienate the
      poor by privileging "free" market activity
      through endorsing the unchecked involvement of
      the private sector in development processes.

      Dominant development has failed to halt the rise
      in the absolute and relative number of people
      below the poverty line in rural Orissa. While
      schemes and programmes focused on poverty
      alleviation have been continued in the Tenth Plan
      (2002-2007), their impact on rural poverty
      remains dubious. These agendas are ill-planned
      and mismanaged, surfeit with corruption,
      inattentive to the needs of 47.15 per cent of
      Orissa's population who live in poverty, making
      suspect the government's commitment to human
      rights and social security. Lack of access to
      common property resources, including water and
      forests, heightens impoverishment, and the
      wreckage wrought by the cyclone of 1999, the
      floods of 2001, the droughts of 2000 and 2003
      pose formidable challenges for environmental,
      political and social sustainability for the 36.7
      million residents of the state.

      The Bharatiya Janata Party-Biju Janata Dal
      government, allied Hindu nationalist
      organisations, and other major political parties
      manoeuvre dalits, adivasis, and minority
      religious groups for sectarian interests, with
      abject disregard for the well-being and
      self-determination of these groups. Resolute
      voices of dissent, in solidarity with the
      affected people of Rayagada, unequivocally
      condemn the actions of Navin Patnaik's
      government. The Orissa government must take
      immediate action to stop police brutalisation and
      mining operations, and set up an independent
      commission to inquire into the social and
      environmental damage resultant from past action.
      Investigation into human rights violations and
      plans for reparations must be central to the
      mandate of such a commission. Failure to do so
      will only further evidence the despairing
      breakdown of governance in the state.

      Angana Chatterji is associate professor of social
      and cultural anthropology at the California
      Institute of Integral Studies.




      [World News]: Karachi, Dec. 13 : More than 70 doctors from India and
      Pakistan called upon their respective governments to destroy their nuclear
      weapons and to cut their defence budgets , so that more money could be
      diverted to the health, education and other social sectors.

      According to Dawn, the doctors also called for relaxation in travel and
      trade restrictions imposed by both governments. They were of the opinion
      that the two countries could only benefit if they kept moving towards
      peaceful resolution of their disputes.

      Speaking at a symposium organized jointly by the Pakistan Doctors for Peace
      and Development (PDPD) and Indian Doctors for Peace and Development (IDPD),
      in collaboration with the Pakistan Medical Association (PMA), on Sunday, the
      doctors said the subcontinent remained one of the most backward regions of
      the world so far as health, education and other human development indicators
      were concerned, mainly due to the ongoing arms race between India and

      Dr Livtar Singh Chawla of the IDPD, in his presentation, which was received
      well by the audience, pointed out that the total amount that was spent on
      eradicating small pox was equivalent to what the world spent on weapon
      development and purchases in just four hours. He said the world spent some 1
      trillion dollars on arms and armaments every year, about half of which was
      spent by the US alone.

      The IDPD president said about a quarter of all deaths in the developing
      world, including India and Pakistan, were caused by communicable diseases,
      which were preventable. If the money that was spent world wide on arms in
      just four days was spent on immunization instead, the communicable diseases
      could be dealt with.

      Dr Chawla criticized the Indian and Pakistani authorities for spending only
      about three and one per cent of their GDPs, respectively, on health of their
      people. He demanded of both governments to get rid of their nuclear weapons
      and the missiles capable of causing death and destruction on the two

      Speaking on the occasion, the PDPD president, Prof Tipu Sultan, said the
      border that today divided the two peoples, with some effort, could become a
      meeting point for them. He welcomed the 30 Indian doctors and medical
      students, who were currently visiting Karachi, saying that such ventures
      could bring the two peoples closer.

      In his keynote address, Prof Haroon Ahmed said fear, denial and the media
      made the two countries step back each time they came close to embracing each
      other in peace. He particularly slammed the authorities for trying to
      control, block or ban each other's media.

      Talking of the lessons that could be drawn from the ten-year-old peace
      movement in the subcontinent, he pointed out that whenever a conflict broke
      out between the two countries, the advances made by the peace movement were

      At the time of conflict, he added, the peace movement was overwhelmed by war
      hysteria. Two medical students from India and Pakistan each also made
      presentations on the occasion. (ANI)



      o o o

      Zubaan announces the publication of Dawn: A Novel
      by award winning Assamese writer, Arupa Kalita


      A Novel

      Arupa Kalita Patangia

      Translated by Ranjita Biswas

      300pp Pb o Rs 295

      o ISBN 81 86706 84 4 o All rights available

      Set in the heady years preceding independence,
      this is the story of young Binapani growing up in
      a small Assamese town. Headstrong, stubborn and
      high-spirited, this independent minded girl is
      confronted with a host of questions as she
      attempts to come to terms with the changing
      reality around her: why are girls not allowed to
      study? Why do some families have to live in
      poverty while others are feted and fawned upon by
      townspeople? Why does a nationalist hero have to
      be hidden away, a Christian boy termed an
      outcasete? Before she can even begin to find
      answers to any of these questions - in which her
      only support is her aging grandmother, Jashodha -
      Binapani is married off to a much older man whom
      she has always disliked. A lifetime of drudgery,
      relieved by the birth of her children, her
      occasional visits to her grandmother, follows and
      then, just as life threatens to become empty of
      joy, a chance encounter with an old friend brings
      change. Binapani realizes that the world is still
      a beautiful place and life can still have
      meaning. This beautifully crafted tale describes
      a moment of profound hisotrical change, against
      which it weaves a fine web of changing
      relationships, of people's joys and sorrows, as
      seen through the eyes of a young girl and her
      painful journey to adulthood.

      Arupa Patangia Kalita is one of Assam's leading,
      award-winning novelists. She has more than ten
      novels and short story collections to her credit
      including Mriganabhi (1987) and Millenniumar
      Sapon (2002). A Ph.D in English Literature, she
      teaches English at Tangla College, Assam.

      Ranjita Biswas has translated a number of
      well-known Bengali and Assamese novels into

      For any further enquiries or for ordering copies
      of the book, please contact Jaya Bhattacharji or
      Satish Sharma at:

      K-92, First Floor,
      Hauz Khas Enclave,
      New Delhi - 110016
      Tel: +91-11-26521008, 26864497 and 26514772
      Email: zubaanwbooks@...

      o o o

      The Other Indians:
      Essays on Pastoralists and Prehistoric Tribal People
      by Shereen Ratnagar

      Demy, xii + 112 p.
      Hardcover ISBN 81-88789-19-4 Rs350
      Paperback ISBN 81-88789-18-6 Rs150

      1.Hunter-Gatherer and Early Agriculturist: Archaeological Evidence for
      2. Our Tribal Past
      3. A Chalcolithic Village in a Famine Belt
      4. Pastoralism as an Issue in Historical Research

      The essays in this volume are an attempt to tease out from the scant
      archaeological (and to some extent historical) sources available, some
      information on certain aspects of rural societies in the past: mobility,
      subsistence from animal herding, symbiosis between crop production and
      animal rearing, situating hunters and gatherers, and the importance of
      forest as integral to rural life rather than the dichotomous 'other' of
      the field or village. There is also an attempt to bring out the ways in
      which tribal society, continuously misrepresented in academia today,
      laid the foundations of many aspects of Indian civilization in the
      remote past.

      Shereen Ratnagar gave up her Professorship in Archaeology at the JNU
      when it ceased to be fun and has since been researching and teaching in
      various places. Her interests include the bronze age, trade, urbanism,
      pastoralism, and, recently, the social dimensions of early technology.
      She lives in Mumbai.

      Three Essays Collective
      P.O. Box 6, Palam Vihar
      Gurgaon 122 017
      Tel: 98683 44843, 98681 26587
      Res.: 0124-236 9023


      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/
      SACW archive is available at: bridget.jatol.com/pipermail/sacw_insaf.net/

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      South Asians Against Nukes: www.s-asians-against-nukes.org
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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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