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SACW | 19 Sept. 2005

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    South Asia Citizens Wire | 19 September, 2005 [Interruption Notice: Please note there will no SACW dispatches between 20 sept - 1st Oct. 2005 ] [1] CSFH
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 18, 2005
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      South Asia Citizens Wire | 19 September, 2005

      [Interruption Notice: Please note there will no SACW dispatches
      between 20 sept - 1st Oct. 2005 ]

      [1] CSFH Urges Responsible Giving in the Wake of Hurricane Katrina
      [2] The Poverty of America (Jeremy Seabrook)
      [3] India: Of School Safety and 'National Security' (J. Sri Raman)
      [4] India: Discontinue the Sethusamudram Ship Canal Project (Sanctuary Asia)
      [5] India: The Aman Peace and Conflict Studies Course (Delhi,
      September 26 -- October 26, 2005)



      September 17, 2005

      For more information, contact: info@...

      CSFH Urges Responsible Giving in the Wake of Hurricane Katrina

      The Campaign to Stop Funding Hate (CSFH) stands in solidarity
      with all those who have suffered an immeasurable loss of life,
      property, and livelihood in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. We
      recognize that while the initial disaster was caused by a
      force of nature, the devastation and loss of life have been
      intensely exacerbated by the racist negligence of the US
      administration, which does not appear to care for the
      country's poor and marginalized communities. Once again, the
      conflicts that underlie American society stand fundamentally
      exposed while the actions of those in power reiterate that the
      issues of race, class and gender continue to place people in
      hierarchies that determine their value to the system.
      President Bush holidayed while New Orleans drowned, the
      director of FEMA sought to place the blame on the victims of
      the hurricane suggesting that they should have left for safer
      places (ignoring the fact that those who stayed mostly did so
      because they had no option), while Rep. Baker of Baton Rouge
      was reported as telling lobbyists (Wall Street Journal
      Washington wire): "We finally cleaned up public housing in New
      Orleans. We couldn't do it, but God did it."

      We are heartened by the fact that millions of people across
      the United States have rallied to support those affected by
      the floods, reminding us that despite being ruled by a racist
      and war-mongering government, we are still bound together by
      our common humanity. We at CSFH commit ourselves to
      contributing to the efforts all across the US and the world to
      provide relief to the victims of the Katrina disaster.

      While it is difficult at moments like this to raise a critical
      voice, especially against those who claim to be involved in
      the task of helping the victims, we would like to place on
      record our concerns about some troubling aspects of the relief
      and rehabilitation efforts.

      1. CSFH has, in the past, pointed out the ways in which
      natural disasters have opportunistically been used by
      sectarian groups (especially those exploiting religious
      sentiments) to create long-term polarizations in society. This
      case is no different. We find the prominent role being played
      by organizations such as Pat Robertson's Operation Blessing to
      be extremely disturbing. Notwithstanding the fact that
      Robertson has been exposed in the recent past for using funds
      collected for refugee relief in Africa to further his own
      diamond mining operations, this organization has been actively
      promoted by the U.S. state and is listed as one of the major
      charities endorsed by FEMA for the Katrina relief operations.

      2. For those who have been following the rise of
      religious fundamentalism in India, this unapologetic promotion
      of a sectarian religious organization by the avowedly secular
      Bush administration reflects the strategy used by similar
      groups following natural disasters in India. In the aftermath
      of the Gujarat earthquake in 2000, the federal government of
      India and the state government of Gujarat (at that time, both
      ruled by the Bharatiya Janata Party) used the 'opportunity' of
      relief work to promote the operation of the Rashtriya
      Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS; the violent and sectarian Hindutva
      organization) and its service wing, Sewa Bharati. More
      recently, the RSS along with its fronts in the US and UK (the
      IDRF, Sewa USA, Sewa UK and Sewa International) rode the
      tsunami to consolidate their presence in the affected areas.

      3. Organizations such as IDRF, Sewa International, Vishwa
      Hindu Parishad (VHP) and Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh (HSS), which
      are part of the violent, hate-mongering Hindutva network are
      also appealing for the donation of funds for the cause of
      hurricane relief. Given the history of these organizations,
      their agenda deserves careful scrutiny.

      4. It is also unfortunate that this tragedy is being
      exploited by disaster-profiteers among U.S. corporations, just
      as war-profiteers are reaping the benefits of the war on Iraq
      (with in fact some of the same culprits such as Halliburton
      and Bechtel growing rich from both disasters).

      The Campaign to Stop Funding Hate wishes to place on record
      its opposition to organizations that promote hatred in the US,
      India or other parts of the world. It demands that FEMA stop
      endorsing groups like Operation Blessing and asks socially
      responsible groups to ensure that charity inflow is duly
      monitored so that relief organizations are held accountable
      for the ways in which funds are being spent. We urge donors to
      make an informed decision about how they want their
      contributions channeled and ask all those committed to broad
      values of secularism, pluralism and justice to oppose the
      forces that use the pretext of relief operations to further
      their sectarian agendas.

      THE CAMPAIGN TO STOP FUNDING HATE [http://www.stopfundinghate.org]


      [2] Received from <sansad@...>

      The Poverty of America
      Jeremy Seabrook

      [Date and publication source missing]

      The human toll of Hurricane Katrina is still being
      counted as the fetid waters that drowned a city recede
      or evaporate in the hot sun. Much has been written
      about how the 'war on terror' diverted spending from
      the defences of New Orleans. The absence of large
      numbers of the National Guard, on duty in Iraq,
      further delayed help to the stricken. The lack of
      clarity in responsibility between federal, state and
      local authorities exacerbated the disaster.

      The somnolence of George W Bush, deep, no doubt, in dreams
      of redistributing yet more wealth from poor to rich on
      his long holiday in Texas, made him slow to react to
      the enormity of what had happened. It has also
      uncovered unexpected vulnerabilities in this, the most
      powerful country on earth. It has laid bare, in the
      starkest and most tangible form, what is well known in
      theory: that this society is constructed upon a
      celebration of inequality, ingrown violence and great
      historic wrongs, which, for their sustenance, require
      continuous human sacrifice.

      People in India often ask me whether poverty exists in
      the West. I tell them it is widespread. They accept
      the truth of this, but look puzzled. They find it hard
      to reconcile the ubiquitous imagery of abundance and
      luxury from the West with what they know of poverty as
      they experience it-the emaciation of extreme want. Do
      people labour in the fields for less than a day's
      wage? Do they suffer hunger? Must they work 16 hours a
      day? Do they send their children to work? Must they
      wait till evening for the money that
      enables them to eat?

      The effects of Hurricane Katrina have made it easier
      to explain, since it has demonstrated to everyone the
      nature of exclusion and resourcelessness in a country
      whose prodigious wealth inspires both envy and desire
      in the peoples of the earth.

      No, it isn't like that. Poverty in the West is,
      assuredly, a violent visitation. But it has a
      different face from the poverty of India. It is hard
      to describe to those who have never been out of India
      the face of poverty in the richest societies in the

      For the waters that swept through New Orleans did more
      than inundate a beautiful and historic city. Among the
      debris of buildings, stores, churches, casinos,
      factories and fields, a human wreckage was deposited
      on the desolate streets. Pictures of used-up
      humanity-the shut-ins and the locked-aways, an
      incarcerated populace, a concealed people, those who
      pay the true cost of the expensive maintenance of the
      American Dream -have been beamed into the gilded
      dwelling-places of wealth.

      A majority of those unable to flee the city are the
      victims of success, the failures and losers of a
      competitive, individualistic society which chooses to
      dwell only on achievement, celebrity and glory and to
      hide away its hopeless and the disappointed in the
      cellars and attics of forgetting; from which they were
      brutally flushed out by the raging waters of the Gulf.
      Rarely had they been seen in such multitudes;
      understandably, because concentrations of so many
      infirm and vulnerable, elderly and weak, unhinged and
      disordered people make visible the ugliness of
      America's terrible social injustice.

      They speak to us of the nature of poverty in rich
      societies. Many commentators observed that the poor of
      New Orleans were, overwhelmingly, black. This is true
      of the urban area of New Orleans-two-thirds
      black-which is one of the poorest in the US. But this
      tells us more about continuing segregation in America
      than it does about poverty.

      Of course, no-one in the path of the violent storm
      that gathered such intensity from the overheated
      waters of the Gulf could have resisted its violence.
      But the spectacle of lives washed up on hard city
      pavements was instructive of how far the poor of
      America are, in the ordinary conduct of their daily
      lives, without resources. If this seems a statement of
      the obvious, it shows nevertheless the dissimilarity
      between poverty in rich and
      poor countries. The stranded survivors of New Orleans
      were devoid of basic skills for survival, since
      survival in America depends totally upon money.

      Even the poorest people of Bangladesh, Niger, Brazil
      or India are not poor in the same way. The poor of the
      US have been remade in the image of wealth; that is to
      say, their lives have been fashioned by the same
      values, influences and expectations as the rest of
      society, which are those of the well-to-do. They are
      just as dependent upon money as the rich are, only
      they do not have the wherewithal to participate in a
      society constructed on the assumption that all human
      needs, wants and comforts must be bought in from the
      market. Nothing is grown, made, invented or created by
      the people for themselves and for others. Wealth means
      simply the ability to buy; to be cut off from this
      fundamental activity is to excluded, exiled from the
      society, an exile dramatically made worse when they
      were unable to move out of the path of the swirling

      When disaster strikes in the poor world-as it so
      regularly does-people do not loot and steal. They do
      not fire guns at rescue helicopters. They do not rob
      the hospitals of their drugs. They do not barricade
      themselves inside their rough shelters and write in
      white paint on their walls, Loot and Be Shot.

      In the developing world, poor people have learned to
      cope with what is lacking in their lives-not always
      successfully, it is true, but they have not yet
      learned the superior wisdom of the West, that nothing
      can be done without money. This is why the urban poor
      in Dhaka, Mumbai, Nairobi and Lagos still build their
      own shelters, create their own livelihoods, seek out
      their own fuel and grow food on any small parcel of
      land they can find.

      But it is at times of catastrophic suffering and loss
      that the difference is most visible. That people in
      New Orleans left bodies unattended in the putrid
      waters of the Gulf and plundered the dispossessed is
      shocking and incomprehensible to the poor of India,
      Bangladesh or Africa.

      The instinctive response of the poor in the
      'underdeveloped' world is to succour those weaker than
      themselves, to share with them such meagre resources
      as they possess, to show a fundamental solidarity: the
      dereliction of others is not seen as an opportunity
      for gain. This is why they feel a bewildered
      compassion for the destructive rage of deprivation in
      the US.

      Some commentators in America described scenes in New
      Orleans as 'reminiscent of the Third World.' They
      could not have been more wrong. This was an entirely
      'First World' phenomenon: gun battles between looters
      and the National Guard, who operate a shoot-to-kill
      policy against predators, bloated corpses abandoned on
      riverbanks and sidewalks, or simply floating,
      unclaimed on the toxic flood-these are scenes which
      occur only in the lands of privilege.

      This is what the poor of India and all the other
      hopeful countries of the world have been taught to
      envy and to long for. This is the supreme achievement
      of the richest societies the world has ever known; and
      it is the model, not merely preached, but actually
      imposed by the International Monetary Fund, the World
      Bank, the World Trade Organization and the governments
      of the G8. That they are in no position to tell anyone
      else what to do is the enduring lesson from the
      disaster which has befallen, not merely Mississippi,
      Louisiana and Alabama, but American society itself, as
      it has demonstrated to the world its indifference
      towards those for whom the designation 'loser',
      'no-hoper', 'failure' is applied as a stigma of moral,
      as well as material, incapacity.

      It has long been clear that the West could easily
      provide a comfortable sufficiency for all the people
      of its own societies, if it chose to do so. It does
      not, for the simple reason that the fate of the poor
      must be maintained, as a warning and example to all
      who might otherwise be tempted to drop out, to relax
      their vigilance, to withdraw from the competitive
      ethos that drives people on to accumulate.
      It is not ambition that drives the creation of wealth
      but the coercive fear of this ghastly version of
      poverty, this human-made construct that creates
      outcasts of plenty, human scarecrows brandished at
      dissenters to urge them to conform with this, the
      American or Western Dream. An indispensable component
      of its promise of wealth and affluence is its threat
      of a desperate, contrived and brutal form of poverty,
      of which the poor of India remain, at least for the moment, still innocent.



      16 July 2005

      Of School Safety and 'National Security'
      By J. Sri Raman

      India is observing the anniversary of one of its cruelest
      tragedies. Last July 16, about a hundred very young children perished
      in a school fire in the temple town of Kumbakonam in the southern
      state of Tamilnadu. From July 9, the country has been recalling the
      gruesome spectacle that traumatized millions on television a year ago.

      The anniversary has come as a reminder - if ever one was needed -
      of the pathetic state of primary education in India, indeed in South
      Asia. It, however, has yet to remind the people and the policymakers
      of the distorted priorities of development that made the calamity
      possible. Lost upon the analysts is the large and obvious fact that a
      developing society of extravagant and disproportionate obsession with
      'national security' cannot just afford safe schools for its children.

      The fire that singed those tender skins, and charred 20 of the
      children beyond recognition, came from a makeshift kitchen for making
      a mid-day meal for the students. The fire spread rapidly to a
      thatched roof of dry palm fronds over the first to third classes. The
      children, in the five-to-eight age group, could not escape in time
      through an extraordinarily narrow exit in a concrete building.

      The mid-day meal had been introduced two decades ago as a way to
      persuade poverty-stricken parents to send their wards to school
      rather than to fields and factories. And schools preferred thatched
      roofs not for environmental reasons, but just because they cost less
      than concrete structures.

      Tons of newsprint and reels of footage have been used to heave a
      collective sigh over the avoidable calamity. What now deserves note
      is the fact that the schools in Tamilnadu are a model of safety
      compared to their counterparts in several other states, especially
      the Hindi-speaking north. An conservative estimate done the day after
      the tragedy put the number of similarly ill-equipped schools across
      the country at 8,000. Any one to have glimpsed even parts of India
      would know this for a gross underestimate.

      The unspeakably sorry situation was brought home five years ago
      in a People's Report on Basic Education (PROBE), the product of
      pooled non-governmental efforts. To mention only a few of the
      findings in the voluminous report (available on amazon.com): over
      half of the schools inspected had leaking roofs, 89 per cent lacked
      functioning toilets, and half of them had no drinking water. Some
      schools did duty as cattle sheds, police camps, teacher residences or
      places for drying cow-dung cakes, while sham schooling was provided
      to children in extremely unsafe and unhygienic spaces.

      There is nothing to suggest any change in this depressing scene
      over the past five years. There is much evidence, in fact, that
      non-existent school facilities are the national norm - unless one
      notices only the urban public schools catering to the offspring of
      the privileged alone.

      Over the past week, enterprising reporters attempting a reality
      check have discovered yet more illustrations of the educational
      wasteland into which the elite has turned India.

      Among the pictures from the candid cameras were entirely roofless
      classrooms in the state of Uttar Pradesh, scorched under a median
      temperature of over 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit). With
      parents preferring not to let their children be fried alive, the
      classrooms remain empty through the hot season. Another bizarre
      spectacle was of naked children carrying books and school uniforms on
      their heads and wading through waist-deep waters of rivers in the
      state of Bihar.

      If covered classrooms are a dim and distant dream, it would be
      absurd to think of such luxuries as benches, blackboards, maps and
      globes for the children of the poor who constitute the country's
      largest community. Only a minuscule minority of the primary schools
      have such a thing as a playground.

      Little wonder that most of the schools in the countryside and the
      less affluent urban areas turn out school graduates almost without
      teachers. Even in the capital city of New Delhi, an estimated 170,000
      students in schools run by the municipal corporation have no
      teachers. And, if there are teachers, there is generally only one to
      about 60 students.

      Even less wonder, then, that over 35 per cent of India's one
      billion people remain illiterate. That India occupies the 105th place
      in UNESCO's educational ranking, in a list of 127 countries. That
      Pakistan occupies the 123rd place in the same list, a poor
      consolation. This piece of statistics only illustrates the insecurity
      of all of South Asia under the rule of competitive militarism.

      For, the same India threatens to emerge as the third largest
      importer of military goods in the world. It became the fifth during
      1997-2002, when it became a nuclear-weapon state. Its allocation for
      defense (over $19 billion) in its latest annual budget is arguably
      ten times higher than that for education at all levels - and,
      remember, much more is spent on higher education than on basic
      schooling for India's barefoot boys and girls.

      There is no way to prevent Kumbakonams until and unless the
      people compel the elite to abandon militarism, with a nuclear
      dimension, as the mantra of national development.



      The Telegraph
      June 26, 2005

      - The opportunism of the Khilafat movement alienated Muslims
      Mukul Kesavan

      Politics of mobilization
      Gandhi returned to Indian politics in 1915. While trying to
      understand his politics, we should bear in mind that he was forty-six
      years old and had been an NRI for nearly a quarter of a century. He
      had served his political apprenticeship in South Africa, not as a
      nationalist, but as a civil rights activist, fighting for civic and
      racial equality on behalf of South Africa's Indian community.

      When Gandhi arrived, he found a Congress riven by two readings of
      nationalism. Early Congress nationalism was one particular response
      to the challenge of organizing politically within the constraints of
      colonial rule. The strategy the early Congress favoured was pluralism
      powered by the rhetoric of economic grievance.

      This pluralist style had been challenged by an Extremist faction that
      favoured popular mobilization in the name of a Mother India defined
      by a Hindu cultural nationalism. The Swadeshi movement was the first
      fruit of this Extremist style. By 1915, the Moderates were in some
      disarray, with many of them deserting the Congress to join the Indian
      Liberal Federation, while the great leader of the Extremists, Bal
      Gangadhar Tilak, was busy trying to establish a Home Rule League, to
      press the colonial state to grant Indians self-government.

      On the face of it, Tilak should have been Gandhi's mentor and model.
      They shared a willingness to deploy a "Hindu" idiom in political
      discourse; both wanted to invent a politics that transcended the
      polite, petitioning politics of the early Congress; both men tried to
      forge instruments for popular mobilization and pan-Indian agitation.
      Gandhi even used the Home Rule League networks created by Tilak to
      give structure to the Non-Cooperation movement. And yet Gandhi
      steadfastly maintained that his mentor in matters political was not
      Tilak but his great Moderate contemporary, Gopal Krishna Gokhale.

      The fundamental difference between Tilak and Gandhi is this. Tilak
      wanted to confront the raj on behalf of a nation imagined in a
      broadly Hindu style. To this end, he was willing to use Shivaji and
      Ganesh symbolically to raise nationalist consciousness. Gandhi's
      political ideas and anti-colonial strategies were designed to extend
      Congress pluralism to the new epoch of mass politics. Mass politics
      to Gandhi meant adapting the style of civil disobedience he had
      learned in South Africa to the vastness of India. This posed two
      challenges: one, creating a politics that overcame the urban
      alienation of Congress politics from the rural Indian hinterland. And
      two, consolidating the representative claims of Congress pluralism by
      drawing into its politics a substantial Muslim presence.

      Gandhi's homespun make-over, his populist folk-religious idiom, his
      assertion that he was a sanatani Hindu, obscures an essential
      difference between him and someone like Tilak. Unlike the Extremists,
      Gandhi, with one fatal exception, never mobilized around religious
      symbols or issues. His great mobilizations were centred on issues
      that were secular in an almost doctrinaire way: the suspension of
      civil liberties in the case of the Rowlatt satyagraha, the right to
      make untaxed salt later and a strictly civic micro-politics based on
      constructive work, sanitation and spinning. Gandhi, in his
      dhoti-wearing, ashram-centred avatar had learnt more from Tolstoy's
      romantic identification with Russian peasant life and its traditions
      and Henry Thoreau's Walden than he had from any specifically "Hindu"

      Looking back, Gandhi's South African apprenticeship seems a
      controlled experiment where he implemented and refined ideas of civil
      disobedience and passive resistance derived from his reading of Henry
      Thoreau's essay, "Resistance to Civil Government", written in 1849
      and posthumously published in 1866 as "Civil Disobedience".
      Similarly, after his arrival in India, Gandhi's leadership
      initiatives in Champaran, Ahmedabad and Khera can be seen as
      five-fingers exercises, undertaken in preparation for the
      anti-colonial struggle ahead. The agitation he launches against the
      Rowlatt Bill, the first all-India satyagraha, seems, in retrospect, a
      dress rehearsal for the premiere of Gandhi's first truly pan-Indian
      movement, the Khilafat-Non-Cooperation struggle.

      The Khilafat-Non-Cooperation is generally regarded as the Part I of a
      trilogy, the Civil Disobedience movement and the Quit India movement
      being Parts II and III. What's more, it has a special place in the
      history of Indian nationalism as the high-water mark of Hindu-Muslim
      cooperation in the course of the anti-colonial struggle. Parts II and
      III, as Gyanendra Pandey pointed out in a clever book, were notable
      for the relative meagreness of Muslim participation.

      The problem with this perspective and this seductive sequence of
      roughly decennial agitations, is that the Khilafat-Non-Cooperation
      movement is a massive aberration in Gandhi's political career,
      different from any movement he participated in, before or afterwards.
      The Khilafat-Non-Cooperation movement is singular because it is the
      only movement led by Gandhi that was centred on a religious issue:
      the preservation of the Sultan of Turkey as the Caliph of all Muslims.

      We can see its aberrant nature in the uneasy hyphenation of its name:
      Khilafat-Non-Cooperation. As a schoolboy, I used to think that the
      Khilafat part had to do with Muslims and the Non-Cooperation part
      with the Congress, till Francis Robinson, in his fine book,
      Separatism Amongst Indian Muslims, set us right. Both the agitation
      to save the Turkish Sultan on account of his claim to be the Muslim
      world's Khalifah and the scheme of Non-Cooperation were initiatives
      of the Khilafat leadership, not Gandhi or the Congress. Gandhi made
      these two issues his own by presiding over the All India Khilafat
      Conference in Delhi in November 1919, well before the Congress had
      anything to do with the Khilafat issue. By September 1920, Gandhi in
      an extraordinary political coup, had gotten himself elected president
      of the All-India Home Rule League and steered a resolution in favour
      of Non-Cooperation to preserve the Khilafat and wrest swaraj in the
      Congress session in Calcutta.

      Gandhi's decision to choose the Khilafat movement as the occasion for
      his all-India debut, seems even odder given the Khilafat leadership.
      Maulana Abdul Bari was a conservative Barelvi alim. The Ali Brothers,
      Mohammad and Shaukat, were Young Turks from Aligarh, impatient with
      the loyalism of Sir Syed's politics and openly admiring of the
      intransigence of Extremist politics during the Swadeshi movement. In
      fact the leaders of the Khilafat movement are best understood as the
      Extremist tendency in Muslim politics. Gandhi, Gokhale's disciple,
      had chosen as his allies a pair of populist demagogues: the
      Lal-Bal-Pal of Muslim politics. The irony of this is sharpened by the
      fact that the greatest critic of the Khilafat movement and the
      Congress's part in it was Jinnah, once Dadabhai Naoroji's private
      secretary, and, at the time, the outstanding representative of the
      Moderate tendency in Muslim politics.

      Why did Gandhi do it? For two reasons. One, he saw it as a quick,
      cheap way of getting the Muslims on board. What Gandhi was doing here
      was trying to repopulate the Muslim enclosure in the nationalist zoo
      by manipulating a Muslim version of Tilakite populism. When Gandhi
      described the Khilafat cause as the "Muslim cow", that is, a sacred,
      sentimental cause, his analogy was off the mark. The Turkish Sultan
      was for the Ali Brothers what Shivaji was for Tilak: a lonely symbol
      of defiance in the face of a hostile empire. The Khilafat stirred
      them in the same way as the idea of Hindu Padpadshahi stirred the
      Extremist imagination.

      Gandhi's second reason for espousing this curious cause was that it
      allowed him to take over the Congress. By promising to deliver the
      Congress, he secured the support of the Khilafatists, and by
      promising to deliver the Muslims, he effectively took over the
      Congress without being a member or ever standing for election. In the
      short term, he succeeded brilliantly. In the long term, this
      adventurist coup did the anti-colonial movement incalculable damage.

      The reason Gandhi's alliance with the Khilafatists was a form of
      adventurism was not because he was trying to do a deal with a Muslim
      party. The Congress had always approached Muslims at one remove, as
      the Congress-League pact of 1916 so clearly demonstrated. No, the
      reason the Khilafat movement was aberrant was because the earlier
      deals had been based on rational political bargaining, whereas
      agitating for the Sultan was inflammatory posturing in a hopeless
      cause. That Gandhi acted in patronizing bad faith, is clear from the
      abruptness with which he called off the movement after the Chauri
      Chaura violence without even consulting his Muslim allies. If he had
      ever believed that Khilafat was the Muslim cow, he cut its throat
      pretty casually.

      The passions he had helped rouse, which were now turned against him
      and the Congress, meant that the Congress haemorrhaged Muslims ever
      afterwards. Gandhi returned to the secular straight-and-narrow with
      the salt satyagraha ten years later and strove manfully to secure the
      Moderate aim of a pluralist nationalism in the age of mass politics,
      but opportunism of the Khilafat movement haunted the Congress and
      helped alienate the one constituency it prized above all others:
      India's Muslims. In this season of Jinnah, no sensible account of the
      Khilafat movement can be written without acknowledging that on this
      issue at least, Jinnah was right and Gandhi, without question, was



      Sanctuary Asia

      Take Action

      Tamil Nadu, August 2005

      The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs cleared the Sethusamudram
      Ship Canal Project (SSCP) connecting the Gulf of Mannar and Palk Bay
      in May 2005 despite strong protests from fishermen and environmental
      groups. Supporters of the project have claimed that it will have no
      'significant' environmental impact at all. The project, first
      conceived 145 years ago in 1860 by Commander A.D. Taylor of the
      Indian Marines, hoped to speed up connectivity between India's
      eastern and western coasts, so that ships will not have to
      circumnavigate Sri Lanka.

      Since then, the project has been brought up and reviewed and shelved
      by a succession of committees; first by the Jawaharlal Nehru cabinet
      in 1955, then by committees in 1983 and 1996 without any decision
      being made. The exceptionally-long gestation period should have
      caused one to question the wisdom of the venture. However, despite
      protests from environmental and humanitarian organisations, the
      Central Government has suddenly jumped right in and passed the
      project with suspicious alacrity. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh
      himself inaugurated the project in the Bay - 45 km. off the
      Kodiakkarai coast in Tamil Nadu along with the Union Minister for
      Shipping (and previous Environment Minister) T.R. Baalu. The
      Tuticorin Port Trust will be the nodal agency for this project. The
      Centre has set up a special purpose vehicle (SPV), known as the
      Sethusamudram Corporation Limited, to execute the project.

      The 260 km. long and 12 m. deep passage (for two-way traffic) will
      require dredging of an estimated 84.5 million cubic metres (mcum.) of
      sand and soil but nobody seems to know where this will be disposed
      off. The alignment passes six kilometres from the Van Tivu island in
      the Marine National Park, violating the 10-km. eco-sensitive belt.
      The National Environment Engineering Research Institution (NEERI),
      Nagpur, ignores this point in its 'rapid' Environment Impact
      Assessment (EIA) report. NEERI was once a credible organisation, but
      it has increasingly come to be 'used' by the government, upon whom it
      is financially dependent, to rubberstamp ill-advised decisions. NEERI
      has had no previous experience with marine projects of this nature,
      yet they confidently state in the (shoddy) EIA that the passage will
      steer clear of the Gulf of Mannar biosphere reserve and that there
      will be "no threat to the coral reefs and marine wealth of the

      In any event, the depth will not permit very large crude carriers
      (above 30,000 deadweight tonnage) to pass through the canal and will
      only allow general purpose and mid-size ships. As larger vessels
      become the norm in the years ahead, this channel will clearly be
      bypassed. Informally, sources in the shipping industry say that they
      find the project to be both whimsical and politically motivated. By
      current reckoning, it will take almost 20 years to break even.

      The Rs. 2,333-crore project (assuming there is no inflation) has been
      justified by project proponents who compare it to both the Suez and
      the Panama canals, forgetting that those waterways bypass entire
      continents involving thousands of kilometres and many days of travel,
      while this destructive canal is little more than a tiny short cut
      (400 nautical miles), which most ships may well choose to avoid
      taking anyway.

      The 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, which both
      Sri Lanka and India ratified in the mid-1990s requires India to brief
      the Government of Sri Lanka in advance about the SSCP plans. That
      India might utilise the canal for military purposes cannot be ruled
      out and this too could be the cause of trouble between India and Sri
      Lanka. Apart from mere dredging, small harbours too will need to be
      built. This would violate the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) Rules.
      But the standard strategy for such ecologically ill-advised projects
      is to force a fait accompli on the nation.

      This is India's only major biosphere and the canal will adversely
      affect fish breeding. It could also intensify the impact of a
      tsunami. And it will directly affect over 70,000 families. The
      biosphere reserve is home to 17 mangrove species, 3,600 species of
      plants and animals including the highly endangered dugong, dolphins,
      whales, and over 117 coral species belonging to 37 genera.

      At the time of going to press, fisherfolk in both India and Sri Lanka
      are up in arms. Tamil militants in Sri Lanka have issued statements
      against the project, which would thus endanger ships that use the
      canal tomorrow. The Sri Lankan Government has also expressed concern.

      Even without the help of experts, common sense dictates that a touch
      of caution be exercised before plunging headlong into a project whose
      viability is doubtful. The Coastal Action Network has opposed the
      project, but the Ministry of Environment and Forests refuses to pay
      heed. Ultimately, it is public opinion and peoples' resistance that
      will count. Sanctuary readers are urged to add their voice to
      strengthen the movement against this project, which spells death for
      dugongs and other vulnerable marine creatures.

      Write a letter to stop the Sethusamudaram from any further
      progress... explaining why it is so important to keep areas such as
      the Marine National park from destruction.

      Prime Minister's Office,
      South Block, Raisina Hill,
      New Delhi, India -110 011.
      Tel.: 91-11-2301 2312.
      Fax: 91-11-2301 9545 / 2301 6857

      Chairman, Tuticorin Port Trust
      Tuticorin - 628 004
      Tel.: 91-0461-235 2290 (50 lines)
      Fax: 91-0461-235 2301
      Telegraphic code: PORTRUST

      The Secretary,
      Government of India, Ministry of
      Environment & Forests,
      Paryavaran Bhavan, CGO Complex,
      Lodhi Road,
      New Delhi - 110 003.
      Tel.: 91-11-2436 1896, 2436 0721



      THE AMAN PEACE AND CONFLICT STUDIES COURSE (In collaboration with Jamia

      Delhi, September 26 - October 26, 2005


      The course aims at developing and widening intellectual discourse on the
      subject among individuals working in NGOs, teachers, journalists,
      students and other concerned citizens. The course will make Indian and
      South Asian reality a starting point for an investigation of conflict,
      violence and its many ramifications. A conceptual approach that will
      connect, rather than compartmentalize themes relevant to violence and
      conflict will be developed. We believe that philosophical and ethical
      inquiry is a necessary element in such a study. Our lectures and
      seminars shall examine the relationship between local and global issues,
      competing histories and antagonistic polities; and the functions that
      link ethnic identity, gender, and symbols to political and economic


      The course will be conducted from 26th September to 26th October, 2005.
      It will be interactive and residential, with two or three units being
      conducted every day, two in the mornings and one in the afternoon/early
      evening. Each unit will consist of two hours, and will include a lecture
      and a discussion.

      Three seminars will be organized over the duration of the course

      Application requirements

      Prospective participants are required to send the following information
      by 20th August 2005.

      1) A Curriculum Vitae

      2) An essay in 500 - 800 words stating your reasons for applying for the

      3) Names and contact details of two referees

      Participants' ability to comprehend lectures and other forms of
      discussion in English is necessary, although the course is open to those
      who wish to speak and submit their coursework in Hindi.

      Course Structure: The course will consist of the following six rubrics,
      whose contents will be supplied in greater detail to participants over
      the weeks preceding the course. The web site can be visited for regular
      updates. <www.amanpanchayat.org>

      Rubric 1: Ethical and Philosophical Perspectives on Violence
      Rubric 2: Aspects of twentieth century world history
      Rubric 3: Gender Violence and Conflict
      Rubric 4: The world order and concepts of conflict
      Rubric 5 : Issues in the Contemporary History of India and South Asia
      Rubric 6: Law, Conflict and Peace Processes


      The costs for arranging this course are considerable. AMAN will charge a
      minimum (subsidised) fee of Rs. 5,000/- (five thousand) for an
      individual and Rs 10,000/- (ten thousand) for participants sponsored by
      NGOs,organisations and institutions.
      The costs are inclusive of accommodation and food but do not include

      Scholarships: A limited number of scholarships are available. Those who
      wish to apply for this should send us reasons for their request in no
      more than 200 words.


      Please ask for more information on the Aman Trust and the Peace Course
      from our office, via e-mail, or ordinary mail. Address correspondence

      Peace Course, The Aman Trust
      C- 651, 1 st Floor,
      New Friends Colony,
      New Delhi- 110065
      E-mail: peacecourse@...

      Visit AMAN web site for further details on the course and organization

      Early applications will be appreciated as the course is limited to 20


      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/

      Sister initiatives :
      South Asia Counter Information Project : snipurl.com/sacip
      South Asians Against Nukes: www.s-asians-against-nukes.org
      Communalism Watch: communalism.blogspot.com/

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