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SACW | 01 Dec. 2005

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  • Harsh Kapoor
    South Asia Citizens Wire | 01 Dec, 2005 | Dispatch No. 2182 [1] Wave of Fascist violence in Bangladesh (i) Confronting the so-called religious extremism
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 1, 2005
      South Asia Citizens Wire | 01 Dec, 2005 | Dispatch No. 2182

      [1] Wave of Fascist violence in Bangladesh
      (i) Confronting the so-called religious extremism (Muhammad Nurul Huda)
      (ii)Suicide-bombings in Bangladesh (Daily Times)
      [2] Kashmir Quake: Crisis as an Opportunity (Gautam Navlakha)
      [3] Pakistan-India: Pakistani Theatre Group humiliated in Lucknow by WIPSA
      [4] India: 20 Years on, Narmada People Resolve to Intensify Struggle
      [5] India: Sex and Sensibility in Tamil Politics (S Anandhi)
      [6] India: India not ready for gays . . . says supreme court(G
      Upcoming Events:
      (i) World AIDS Day (Banaglore, 2 December 2005)
      (ii) Discussion with Aditya Nigam on his book 'The Insurrection of
      Little Selves: The Crisis of Secular nationalism in India'.(Delhi, 11
      Jan 2006)



      The Daily Star
      November 30, 2005

      by Muhammad Nurul Huda

      Unprecedented violent actions resorted to by the so-called religious
      extremists belonging to at least two outfits have now engaged the
      attention of every section of our society. Of all concerned that was and
      is affected by the mindless violence of the zealots, the government of
      the day does not appear as alert and proactive as desired in a
      democratic polity. A sudden spurt of activities by the Ministry of Home
      Affairs and the alleged gearing up of the agencies under its control has
      been made possible only after the mainstream judiciary has been the
      pathetic target of the perverse bigots.

      It is unfortunate that doubts are still being nursed by many
      knowledgeable quarters that the government is not serious about fighting
      the so-called religious extremists because that might adversely affect
      its electoral prospects in the not too-distant election.

      Resolve and appreciation
      Whether in fighting or controlling or even containing the so-called
      religious extremism, the first step is to understand and appreciate the
      very prevalence of such elements in a given society and its pernicious
      effects on the way of life of the citizens. Unfortunately, in
      Bangladesh, we have been perilously late in awakening to the realities
      on ground. This is not to discredit anybody or apportion blame to any
      particular political party because the growth and muscle flexing of the
      obscurantist elements has not been limited to the tenure of one regime.
      Cumulative inaction of the regulatory authority resulting from a lack of
      appreciation by policy-makers about the mindset and modus-operandi of
      the extremists has brought us to the present state of affairs.

      We need to be clear and definite about the threat perception. This is
      crucial because one cannot possibly treat a disease by denying its very
      existence. So from vague generalities if one has to venture into
      meaningful specifics, one can not but make a pointed reference to our
      constitution. This is obvious because our constitution is still the way
      of life the citizens of Bangladesh have chosen for themselves and the
      constitution remains the solemn expression of the will of the people and
      the supreme law of the Republic. Article 11 of the said constitution
      says "The Republic shall be a democracy in which fundamental rights and
      freedoms and respect for the dignity and worth of the human person shall
      be guaranteed."

      However, as against the above position, one of the extremist outfit's
      bulletin of August 22, 2005 says that "In a Muslim land there can be no
      other law except the law of Allah ... The constitution is composed by
      some wilful sinner ... The ruler of our country is an opponent of Allah
      because the procedure of selection of all organs of the government is
      made by a completely non-Islamic system ... The activists of Jamatul
      Mujahideen Bangladesh are soldiers of Almighty Allah. They have taken up
      arms to establish the rule of Islam." The bulletin was spread throughout
      Bangladesh during the countrywide bombing of 17th August last.

      The strategy
      The constitutional position vis-a-vis the programme of the extremists
      leave no room for any ambiguity. While at the macro-level it may be a
      matter of political direction to sort out disagreements through dialogue
      and persuasion, the field-level operatives, both in uniform and
      plainclothes must have clear directives and plan of action for
      preventing violent subversive actions. This is all the more significant
      now because the new enemy has an emotional and religiously sensitive
      alignment with the common folks of the country. One must not be
      oblivious of the fact that the enemy combatants are entrenched in places
      and institutions that are traditionally respected and revered in our

      As part of strategy, the enforcement apparatus should succeed in
      separating an act of violence from its so-called politico-social context
      and thus criminalise a certain mode of political expression. In
      Bangladesh's context this line of action would be very appropriate
      because there is a greater need to reject the religious extremists'
      right to legitimise violence as part of a larger social movement.

      The so-called Jihadists must not be bracketed with political dissenters,
      although such differentiation becomes difficult from an enforcement
      point of view. Laws to be made for dealing with religious extremists
      should be such as to distinguish them from constitutionally oriented
      political elements.

      The above has been emphasised upon because the mission and strategy of
      our crime-fighting and intelligence organisations had not been stable at
      least insofar as the domestic threat scenario is concerned. Those have
      invariably substantially changed with the change of a political
      government. It has been our unfortunate experience to witness the
      differing political agendas often clouding the pragmatic understanding
      of our real national interests.

      The patrons and harbourers and proscription

      In order to apprehend and to effectively punish the extremists, the
      definition of extremism or terrorism should be expanded to an act of
      association with an extremist group. The objective should be to include
      patrons and harbourers of the extremists and fringe supporters within
      the ambit of the law. The regulatory authorities should be quickly able
      to draw up a list of 'proscribed organisations' to which membership,
      funding or open support within the territory of Bangladesh shall be
      banned. This list should be periodically reviewed with an intention of
      making the fight against extremism in line with threats to internal

      The concept of the above noted proscription should be such as to make it
      applicable across the broadest spectrum. It should be precise and
      unambiguous. In addition, there must be clear measurement and list of
      acts that would constitute support to a 'banned organisation'. The
      effort should be to broaden the applicability but narrow down the
      definition of extremism or terrorism itself.

      The process of identifying an extremist should be discreet and
      transparent and enforcement efforts should be geared towards that.
      However, the extremists who use violence and the threat of violence as
      an instrument to propagate its view and ideology cannot be treated as
      political dissidents even though the roots are socio-political and
      governed by distinct and conflicting ideologies.

      The government should attach greater importance to proscription and
      should be empowered to designate the extremist organisation. The
      objective should be to sap the extremist organisation of its material
      base, stopping routes of material replenishment and seizing its existing
      assets. In other words, the proscription could be a central feature in
      our attempt at fighting religious militancy.

      The imperatives
      Now that we know who is the self-declared adversary, there must not be
      any hesitation in the battle against the frontal attack on our
      constitution. There must not be any ambivalence in relentlessly pursuing
      the bigoted mischief-makers. Religious institutions or places of prayer
      should not be allowed to be used as sanctuaries. In order to do that
      quite a number of such entities should be subjected to well-planned

      Voluntary or charitable work or even religious teachings which are
      suspected to be used as cover by some organisations should be shadowed
      so that bonafide welfare work can be separated from malafide subversive

      Foreign donations whether by individuals or organisations must pass
      through government scrutiny. This must be made mandatory. Along with
      this there must be a complete account of all educational institutions
      and the areas covered in the instruction should be known to competent

      Democracy has to allow the interaction of different shades of opinion or
      divergent views to ensure the vibrance of a pluralist society. However,
      that does not mean that there will be freedom to convert the entire
      country into a theocratic dispensation by application of force and
      intimidation and the litigant public has to approach the clerics and
      Muhaddes for resolution of disputes and judgement, as demanded. There is
      a challenge to our way of life. This must be realised by the mainstream
      political parties who are pledge-bound to uphold, protect and preserve
      our constitution. Therefore, the visible enemy must be caught by the
      forelock and be dealt with under the law. A sovereign Republic born out
      of a historic struggle entailing epic human sacrifices demand that. We
      must not fail.

      o o o


      The Daily Times
      December 1, 2005


      Two suicide bombers near Dhaka and Chittagong in Bangladesh have killed
      10 and wounded many. The pattern is familiar and Pakistan can clearly
      see in it the hand of those who link themselves with jihad and have a
      line of communication open to Al Qaeda’s cells in South and Southeast
      Asia. What has happened was predictable, but two elements in Bangladesh
      were angrily in denial about it: the leftwing intellectuals and
      Islamists with sympathisers in the Bangladesh National Party (BNP).

      Bangladesh has to take tough action although the past dilly-dallying
      will make it difficult. And it should not hesitate to seek Pakistan’s
      help. The Islamists committing acts of terror there may have been to
      Pakistan and in some cases trained in Afghanistan. And the government
      has to watch closely the activity of Dhaka’s most powerful cleric Mufti
      Fazl ul Haq Amini whose provocative sermons at Dhaka’s Jamia
      Qurania-Arabiyya gather 600,000 bicycle rickshaws blocking traffic for
      hours. He writes in Bangla and Arabic but also knows Urdu which he
      learnt at a seminary in Karachi during his days of jihad. His incendiary
      fatwas run into several volumes. It was his seminary in Chittagong that
      sent the attackers to poet Shamsur Rehman some time ago. *



      Economic and Political Weekly
      November 19, 2005


      The massive earthquake in Kashmir, on both sides of the border, is an
      opportunity for the government to take a bold initiative to make the
      political process much more broad-based than it has been for years.

      by Gautam Navlakha

      The government [of India] has responded in a measured tone to the mass
      murderous attack in Delhi on October 29, which killed 59 persons, mostly
      children and women. This is in contrast with the past when every such
      incident was used to whip up passions and accuse Pakistan even before
      investigators had completed their inquiry. The government then went
      ahead with negotiations in Islamabad to conclude an agreement which
      opens up five points on the Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu and Kashmir
      enabling the divided people an opportunity to reach out to each other in
      their hour of need. This is the first time since travel across the
      ceasefire line was stopped in 1950s that the people of Jammu and Kashmir
      will experience the joy of being able to cross the LoC. It is also
      significant that no time frame has been set for how long these posts on
      the LoC would remain open. It is thus theoretically possible for these
      five points of movement to become permanent as well as precursors for
      several more. Once people begin to meet and travelling becomes
      relatively easy, it can generate its own momentum of heightened
      expectations making it difficult for the two governments to shut the door.

      When the earth shakes it is not only death that spreads its wings but
      families are scattered, communications snap, insecurity prevails and
      people become destitute. Pain, fear and trauma take over. The
      government’s management of disasters operates in fits and starts. But in
      J and K it is worse because the requirements of counter-insurgency and
      fighting terrorism have pulverised the civil administration,
      particularly close to the LoC which is where the earthquake’s impact was
      most-severe. Tragically, the earthquake was preceded by what Kashmiris
      call the “snow tsunami” last winter and more than 15 years of military
      suppression and terror whose wounds have not healed. Therefore,
      restoring security and dignity for people must override other concerns.

      This is not to ignore the perfidious activities of groups such as
      Lashkar-e-Tayyaba or Jaish-e-Mohammed or the patronage extended to them
      by a section of the Pakistani military establishment which shares their
      ideological vision. It is also true that the cutting of links with
      groups such as the Taliban or Lashkar once seen as “strategic assets” by
      Pakistan’s rulers has been rather slow. But it would be wrong to forget
      that these groups and their patrons draw their sustenance from the
      simmering dispute over Kashmir, one which has kept the people of Jammu
      and Kashmir divided and nourished the hardliners in both India and Pakistan.

      But to all this has been added another pressing reason to push ahead
      with the political process in J and K. The Jammat-ud-Daawa’s relief work
      in Pakistan Kashmir is creating another reality on the ground. Of course
      there is an element of hypocrisy in this exhibition of concern. It is
      worth recalling that the response of Indians to the plight of Kashmiris
      has been tepid. A few crores were collected for the victims but much
      more than Rs 700 crore worth of crackers were burnt on Diwali. After
      such display of concern for an “integral part of India”, to decry work
      being done by Pakistani organisations, even those who are communal
      fascist in Pakistan Kashmir, is dishonest.

      It took Pakistan’s military 48 hours to get its act together and fan out
      to rescue and provide relief in territories held by them following the
      October 8 earthquake, whereas volunteers of the Jammat-ud-Dawa moved in
      within the first few hours to provide relief.

      Even before the disaster struck, Pakistan’s privatised economy and
      social sector have been dominated by and have funded these so-called
      charity organisations. Considering that Lashkar and other militant
      groups had their training camps in the higher reaches of Pakistan
      Kashmir, it was easier for them to reach those in need of help. But look
      at it another way.

      Decrepit Services

      The disaster that struck Indian Kashmir was far less in scale and
      confined to three tehsils of Kupwara and Baramulla districts and
      affected a little over 1,00,000 people as against three million across
      the LoC. Even then and despite the heavy deployment of security forces,
      the military and civilian apparatus were slow to reach out and scores of
      funded organisations were encouraged to come in. J and K’s social sector
      has become decrepit during past 15 years and was incapable of providing
      succour even in normal conditions to the victims of violence. Thus, the
      government sees nothing wrong in giving foreign charities a free run. It
      is true that the army did extend help. However they maintain a heavy
      presence in the area and the local villagers provide the labour force
      for them as porters, guides, etc.

      The vulnerability during disasters persuaded Pakistan’s military rulers
      to turn to US-led NATO to come to their rescue. NATO troops have a
      virtual free run and can come and go at will. The presence of NATO
      troops, engineers battalion and other combat troops for rescue and
      relief operations poses a far bigger challenge than anything posed by
      Lashkar or Jaish. Given the virtual patron-client relationship that
      exists between Pakistan and US, the NATO troops may develop a long-term
      presence. Liberal imperialism intervenes in a variety of ways and even
      disaster relief has politics written all over it. Lest we forget, this
      area offers immense scope for mischief perhaps directed against China.
      But, to recall what Krishna Menon famously said, a gun that fires in one
      direction is yet to be made. NATO’s ever expanding geo-strategic
      objective is well known. In other words, all this has to be factored in
      by policy-makers in India when considering J and K. Perhaps more than
      ever before there is need for a bold move by the government whose room
      for manoeuvre will be narrowed by US-led NATO’s desire to spread its
      sphere of influence all over J and K.

      An alienated population, whose self-image of being “Muslims”, has grown
      thanks to the government’s military suppression and demonisation of
      their democratic aspirations as Muslim fundamentalism. One way of
      meeting this potential threat is to begin talks with those who matter
      and not with this or that group whose represantative character lacks
      credibility. Talks with the Mirwaiz-led Hurriyet appears as New Delhi
      talking to those it currently favours. Will this not enable the wielders
      of the gun to call the shots and for their representatives to embarrass
      India diplomatically? The capacity of the militants to call the shots in
      elections has been much exaggerated and the people’s boycott of
      elections out of their own volition is underplayed. From the perspective
      of enlightened self-interest, for the talks to gain legitimacy requires
      an election to settle the matter of representation be it the Mirwaiz-led
      All Party Hurriyet Conference, the S A S Geelani-led Tehreek-i-Hurriyet,
      JKLF, National Conference, PDP or Congress. The point is that those who
      are alienated must be assured that their voices are being heeded. This
      will enable the overwhelming majority of people, who continue to boycott
      elections, to participate and lend legitimacy to the process. It will
      not only make negotiations credible and acceptable but also to restrict
      the room for mischief by outside powers and the communal fascists in J
      and K who masquerade as “freedom fighters”. A crisis can be turned into
      an opportunity.




      o o o

      [Media Release by] Tehrik-e-Niswan, Pakistan

      Dated: 29th November, 2005

      Tehrik-e-Niswan (Women's Movement), a Karachi based
      Cultural Action Group was invited to perform in 'Staging Peace - A
      Dialogue in Theatre: A Women's endeavour to create the culture of
      peace', a South Asia Theatre Festival organized by Women's Initiative
      for Peace in South Asia (WIPSA).

      The first performance of the play 'Zikr-e-Nashunida' was
      held at the I.T. College on the 27th November, 2005 as part of this

      Immediately after the performance, our group was summoned
      by the office bearers of WIPSA present in Lucknow and were verbally
      Œcharge sheeted‚ in the following manner:

      (1) Why had we presented the play a day earlier at the Coalition for
      Nuclear Disarmament and Peace Convention.
      (2) The play contained anti-U.S. sentiments which went against the
      policies of the donors (Ford Foundation) of WIPSA.
      (3) We were creating discipline problems by breaking the 10 p.m.
      curfew of the hostel.

      We consider their objections and the manner in which they
      were conveyed highly insulting and unacceptable. It was an insult to our
      work and beliefs and were therefore forced to convey to them our
      inability to continue our tour and association with them.

      Tehrik-e-Niswan‚s agenda for the last 25 years has been
      to work for peace and human rights through theatre and art. In 2004 we
      invited Ms. Prasanna Ramaswamy, a theatre director from Chennai who is
      known for her work in theatre on gender and war issues.

      Zikr-e-Niswan (Discussing the unheeded), is a
      collaboration between an Indian writer/director and a Pakistani group.
      Scripted by Prasanna, it is derived from works of Euripeds, Kabir, Julia
      Stasky and Les Smith, with the objective of performing it all over South
      Asia as out statement about war and peace.

      Sheema Kermani Prasanna Ramaswamy Anwer Jafri

      Tehrik-e-Niswan, Pakistan




      58, Mahatma Gandhi Road, Badwani, M.P.- 4515551, India
      (Ph. .07290-222464/ badwani@...)
      B-13, Shivam Flats, Ellora Park, Baroda,Gujarat-390007
      ( 0265-2282232, baroda@...,)

      Press Note/30/11/2005

      After 20 Years, Narmada People Resolve to Intensify Struggle: Sardar
      Sarovar 110 meters - ab bas (Enough)

      Over 15,000 men-women from the Narmada valley villages raised the slogan
      of the "Sardar Sarovar Dam at 110 m.- and that is enough" (ek sou das-
      ab bas), as they resolved to intensify their struggle against the
      destruction and displacement and for the equitable and sustainable
      development, at the 20th anniversary congregation of Narmada Bachao
      Andolan at Badwani, on November 27.

      It was a strong message to the four state governments (Gujarat, M.P.,
      Maharashtra and Rajasthan) and the Central government, preparing to
      raise the height of the height of the SSP dam and other dams like the
      Narmada Sagar and Maheshwar in the valley. The representatives of
      organizations and prominent people from all parts of India and abroad
      expressed solidarity and full support for their cause. Number of youths,
      students and activists from Kerala-Karnataka, Maharashtra-Gujarat to
      Bengal-Delhi participated in the march through the valley from November
      23-26 and later in a day long people‚s seminar, before the large public

      "Despite 20-years‚ long and arduous struggle, in which people borne the
      threats, humiliation, defamation, repression, corruption and submergence
      at the hands of the officials, police and political leaders - all
      through the democratic and non-violent struggle, we are against ready to
      intensify our struggle against the SSP. It is also a struggle for our
      right over the natural resources and our democratic and human rights",
      said the septuagenarian Jagannath kaka, Pinjaribai, Bawabhai and Medha
      Patkar. " The struggle also has creative side, as the NBA has been
      running 14 jeevan shalas (schools), and the people have built two micro
      hydro-electrical plants. The NBA is a struggle for an equitable and
      sustainable development", said Medha Patkar while giving background.

      The Left Front Member of Parliament, Abani Roy hoped that the Narmada
      Bachao (Save Narmada) would be extended to desh bachao (save the
      country). The renowned octogenarian Malayalam author Dr. Sukumar
      Azhikode saluted the people‚s tenacity and strength for all these years,
      "even as the political system is growing insensitive and rulers becoming
      greedy and cruel by each day. He even commented that the name of the
      famous Sardar Patel, the first Home Minister of India, and champion of
      peasants‚ rights, should be delinked from the ŒSarovar‚ (dam), which is
      destroying the peasants‚ farms and lives. The Magsasay Award winner
      water- activist, Rajendra Singh made a passionate plea to stop the
      commercialisation of basic natural resources like water and felt that
      the message of the NBA-like movements is to establish people‚s right ove
      r the water.

      Dr. B.D. Sharma (President of Bharat Jan Andolan) asserted that the
      struggle in the Narmada valley has been the struggle of the peasants
      against the national-international capitalist powers out to exploit the
      common people and their resources. The leader of Kisan Sangharsh Samiti,
      and MLA from Madhya Pradesh Dr. Sunilam came heavily down upon the state
      government for misleading the farmers. The former state Chief Secretary
      Dr. S.C.Behar admitted that the capitalist forces influence the
      decision-making at political and bureaucratic levels.

      Medha Patkar dwelt on the strength of the people‚s power in the valley,
      particularly the tenacity shown by women. According to her, opposition
      to Sardar Sarovar and other Narmada dams is a part of the larger war
      against destructive development, against the usurpation of people‚s
      resources and rights by the national-multinational neo-imperialistic and
      capitalistic powers like the World Bank, World Trade organization.

      The organizations and prominent persons issued a declaration at the

      The Convention

      The 20the year anniversary programme started on 26th November, as noted
      legal luminary and secular activist Girish Patel started the
      discussions, "Sardar Sarovar, Large dams, Alternatives and People's
      Movements', about the issues, outcome and future strategies against the
      SSP and large dams. Dr. Bhar lighted the lamps in the memory of the
      departed martyr activists of the NBA.

      Noted environmentalist, Ashish Kothari highlighted the illegality and
      violation of norms and regulation in the SSP and environmental perils
      due to the project. Archeologist Anjali Paranjape pointed out that
      Narmada valley has the uninterrupted chain of evidences from pre-history
      to historic periods and all that needs to be listed and explored before
      any decision to submerge them. Himanshu Upadhyay came heavily down upon
      the bankrupt economics of the project. Activists Noorjibhai, Ashish
      Mandloi, Deepti Bhatnagar along with Medha brought out the impossibility
      of resettlement of the oustees in Gujarat, M.P. and Maharashtra. There
      were group discussions on the SSP- specific and larger strategy to
      safeguard people's rights, their resources and environmental
      sustainability. Gautam Bandyopadhyay, Sanjay M.G., Maj.Gen Vobatkere,
      Shr ipad Dharmadhikari, Jai Sen, Roy Laifungbam and others took part
      the deliberations.

      About 50 delegates from the organizations from various countries
      attended the meet and extended their solidarity. The convention and
      public meeting was adorned by the photo-exhibitions on the 20 year- long
      struggles. Representatives from the struggle against Maheshear, Bargi,
      Narmada Sagar, Goi dams in the Narmada valley, along with the struggle
      against Tehri dam and the large dams in the North Eastern India

      Sanjay Sangvai

      58, Mahatma Gandhi Road, Badwani, M.P.- 4515551
      B-13, Shivam Flats, Ellora Park, Baroda,Gujarat-390007
      (Ph. .07290-222464/ 0265-2282232, badwani@..., baroda@...

      Badwani, Nov 27, 2005

      We, the thousands of tribals, peasants, fisherpeople , workers, traders
      and craftspeople from the Narmada valley, along with supporters from all
      over India and abroad, gathered in Badwani (Madhya Pradesh), on the
      occasion of the 20th anniversary of the Narmada Bachao Andolan, do
      hereby declare that:

      The Sardar Sarovar Project (SSP), that is being built in the Narmada
      valley, has endangered well settled and prosperous villages, fertile
      agriculture lands, dense fores ts along with ancient pre-historic and
      historic cultural heritage dotting this beautiful and bountiful valley.

      With such dams, hundreds and thousands of people are being evicted from
      their lands, even when it is clear that thousands of them could not be
      provided land-based resettlement. The government has been trying to
      displace them either through the lure of the cash compensation of
      through the pressure, intimidation and repression.

      The benefits of such development projects, which violate all the legal
      norms and human rights, are uncertain and at best insignificant, as the
      drought-prone areas of Kutch and Saurashtra will get next to nothing
      from the SSP. The India Country Study of the World Commission on Dams
      made it clear that the large dams have contributed barely 10% increase
      in the production of food grains. While the problem of water scarcity
      remains as it is despite 4500 large dams our country has built, they
      have aggravated the intensity of floods. Yet, despite the adverse
      cost-benefit ratio of the large dams, the government continues with the
      spree for such large-scale projects. All this leads to the
      centralization of the people's resources in a few hands of national
      and multinational capitalists.

      We condemn the attempts to privatise and corporatize the natural
      resources like water, land and forests disregarding the rights of the
      communities over them, and we reject all such decisions and policies.
      The people's struggle against the multinational company like Coca-cola
      for its unmindful extraction of the groundwater, at the same time the
      government seems to be keen on undertaking the impractical megalomaniac
      project of The interlinking the rivers, which would result in large
      scale destruction of environment, untold suffering to the people and
      astronomical costs - along with the privatisation of water. We warn that
      if such a burden is imposed on the nati on, without any basic studies or
      getting people's consent, we will be with the people in the different
      river-valleys and from various sectors to fight against such a scheme.

      We insist that the optimum use of land and water should be made from the
      smallest unit to the river valley, with equitable distribution
      fulfilling the basic needs of all. Instead of the chemical fertilizer,
      water-intensive and centralized agriculture, we must have large scale
      land-reforms and sustainable agriculture, based on indigenous seeds and
      organic manure. All the development planning in rural and urban areas
      must be done by decisive participation and right of the gram sabhas or
      basti-sabha( community council).

      The struggle in Narmada valley is not confined to one river valley, but
      it has become a symbol of such struggles and movements all over India,
      which challenge the prevalent development policy and paradigm and strive
      for an alternative or true development, based on equality, justice,
      environmental sustainability and decentralization incorporating the
      people's rights and their meaningful participation in the decision making.

      On the 20th anniversary of the Narmada Bachao Andolan, the organization
      and movements along with all those who are committed to justice and
      democracy, resolve to strengthen the Narmada movement and realize,
      strengthen the values of alternative development, to all parts and
      sectors of India and the world.

      Dr. Sukumar Azhikode Kerala

      Rajendra Singh
      Tarun Bharat Sangh, Rajasthan

      Dr. B.D. Sharma
      Bharat Jan Andolan

      Dr. S.C. Behar Ex-Chief
      Secretary, Madhya Pradesh

      Jashbhai Patel

      Ashish Kothari

      Dr. Sunilam
      Kisan Sangharsha Samiti, M.P.

      Roy Laifungbam CORE,

      Rakesh Dewan Sarvodaya
      Press Service, Indore

      Jai Sen
      New Delhi

      Nilesh Doshi
      Beej Swaraj Abhiyan

      Medha Patkar
      Alongwith Pinjari Bai, Kamla Yadav, Jagannath Kaka, Ashish Mandloi, and
      others from Narmada valley



      Economic and Political Weekly
      November 19, 2005


      Popular film actress Kushboo's ideas on female sexuality are not new to
      Tamil Nadu. Periyar, the Self-Respect Movement and the Dravidar Kazhagam
      had propagated the idea that marriage was a patriarchal institution and
      even advocated its abolition for women's freedom. But, like the DMK
      earlier, the Dalit Panthers of India and the Pattali Makkal Katchi,
      assuming the role of protectors of the honour of Tamils, are invoking
      the chastity of Tamil women as a symbol of that honour.

      by S Anandhi

      During the past few weeks Tamil Nadu has witnessed protests by members
      of the Dalit Panthers of India (DPI) and the Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK)
      against actress Kushboo’s recent statement on women’s sexuality. In an
      interview to a Tamil magazine, Kushboo, one of the popular film
      actresses of the Tami screen, made a plea for safe sex and against
      placing a cultural premium on women’s virginity at the time of marriage.
      She also demanded that men must change their perceptions of women who
      openly articulate their sexual desires. She made these statements in the
      context of a survey on women’s sexuality. In keeping with her outspoken
      and radical stance on women’s sexuality, she was also recently in the
      forefront of a campaign against film director Thanger Bachan who likened
      film actresses to prostitutes. A member of the Tamil Protection Movement
      founded by the DPI and the PMK, Bachan was forced to offer a public apology.

      Both the DPI and the PMK as well as a section of the Tamil press has
      sustained the campaign against Kushboo by claiming that her statement is
      against Tamil women and their sexual morality. Carrying brooms and
      chappals, women protestors held demonstrations in front of her house and
      the office of the Tamil Film Artistes’ Association. In different parts
      of Tamil Nadu, the actress’s effigies were burnt by the slogan shouting
      “subalterns” who demanded her arrest and banishment from Tamil Nadu. The
      women’s wing of the PMK filed a series of defamation cases against
      Kushboo in various local courts claiming that her statement offended the
      sentiments of Tamil women. Even after she tendered a public apology, the
      DPI and the PMK were unrelenting. Characterising her an immoral woman,
      Thol Thirumavalavan, the supremo of the DPI, has assailed her for
      “hurting the sentiments and lowering the dignity of Tamil women”.
      Surprisingly, Kushboo never mentioned Tamil women in her interview and
      can speak Tamil as any native speaker.

      Significantly, Kushboo’s ideas on female sexuality are not new to Tamil
      Nadu. For decades, Periyar E V Ramasamy and his Self-Respect Movement
      and the Dravidar Kazhagam propagated that marriage is a patriarchal
      institution and its abolition is necessary for women’s freedom. He even
      pleaded that no odium should be placed on a married woman who desires
      men other than her husband. Even more pronounced in his propaganda was
      the denunciation of chastity as an ideal for women. It was his radical
      social movement that enabled Tamil Nadu to legally authorise ritual-free
      Self-Respect marriages conducted without priests and ensured property
      rights to love children.

      Along with such radicalism, Tamil Nadu had also witnessed in the past
      social conservatism that often went hand in hand with Tamil national
      aspirations. As in the case of Indian nationalism, control over women
      and their sexuality has been central to the construction of Tamil
      identity and Tamil nationalism. The DMK, in its early Tamil nationalist
      phase, projected itself as the defender of Tamil culture and propagated
      that the honour of Tamils depended on Tamil woman’s so-called purity. It
      was the DMK, which produced a cult around Kannagi, the woman protagonist
      of the classical Tamil literary text Silapathikaram. In the propaganda
      of the DMK, ever-suffering Kannagi emerged as the quintessential Tamil
      woman who is chaste and virtuous. The DMK propaganda also likened Tamil
      Nadu to a mother figure to be protected by its valorous sons. Tamil
      nationalism of the DMK was thus a masculine dream. Women, as markers of
      Tamil national identity, had to reaffirm the boundaries of culturally
      acceptable feminine conduct; and their gender interests could only be
      articulated within these parameters, set by the cultural nationalists.
      The high noon of such nationalism passed in the 1970s with the DMK
      coming to power in 1967. Kannagi continued to be invoked but with less

      Motives of Campaign

      The past of the DMK has become the present of the DPI and the PMK. The
      wide-eyed dream of the DPI and the PMK to expand their support base
      beyond their respective caste constituencies has given a new life to the
      pan-Tamil identity. The Tamil Protection Movement of the PMK and the
      DPI, which among other things protests Tamil film titles with English
      words, has begun once again to invoke female chastity as symbol of Tamil
      honour. Within this nationalist agenda, not only the opinion of Kushboo
      on pre-marital sex has to be protested, but she herself has to be
      presented to the Tamil public as a north Indian woman whose actions and
      ideas are alien to the so-called Tamil notions of sexual morality. Her
      demonised image is thus being counter posed to the image of the
      “dignified” Tamil woman.

      The DPI, one of the large dalit political movements in Tamil Nadu since
      the 1990s has been remarkably active in taking up the issue of caste
      atrocities on dalits in the northern parts of the state. Its powerful
      protests against caste oppression and adherence to Periyar’s radical
      social values were once well known. Referring to the Tamil icon of
      Kannagi, Thol Thirumavalavan could, in the past, write, “Chastity is
      only a violence fabricated by men – for the benefit of men – and imposed
      on women. Only the materialist desire of men has created the ritual
      called marriage and the fiction called chastity.” Caste oppression,
      caste patriarchy and subjection of women received his severest

      Defender of Tamil Identity

      However, the transformation of the DPI from a political movement to a
      party seems to have led to a dramatic dilution of its radicalism. In its
      negotiations with various electoral coalitions, the DPI has to pursue
      the interest of the dominant others as in the case of its current
      alliance with the PMK. Initially, the DPI’s alliance with the PMK gave
      rise to the hope that it would bring down the conflicts between the
      backward caste vanniyars and the dalits in north Tamil Nadu. However,
      while the PMK has succeeded in pushing its language agenda on the
      dalits, the issue of caste oppressions of the dalits by the vanniyars
      has not formed part of this alliance politics. The pursuit of Tamil
      identity and its alliance with the DPI may have helped PMK in partly
      shedding its image of being an anti-dalit caste-based party. But, this
      alliance has not enabled the DPI to place centre stage the agenda of
      caste oppression that continues to mediate the everyday lives of the
      dalits. Instead, taking up the cause of Tamil identity by the DPI has
      led to a compromise on contesting caste oppression. Thirumavalavan’s
      defence of chastity of Tamil women has to be seen as part of the
      transformation of the DPI from being an anti-caste movement to a
      defender of Tamil identity.

      Importantly, dalit women, despite their very active participation in
      politics, continue to lack recognition and respect even within the dalit
      movement. The DPI’s rhetoric about women’s liberation apart, the party
      has failed to consolidate some of the significant gains made by the
      dalit women’s organisations in Tamil Nadu. For instance, the Tamil Nadu
      Dalit Women’s Federation and other dalit women’s networks have been
      conducting a series of struggles against multiple patriarchies that
      subjugate dalit women. Their efforts to articulate in the public a
      distinct dalit women’s identity as different from that of the upper
      caste women as well as from that of dalit men, have slowly gained
      recognition among women’s groups. At this juncture, the new avatar that
      the DPI has taken as the protector of Tamils offers only the possibility
      of subsuming the dalit women under the homogenised, hegemonic collective
      identity of the “Tamil women” and denying possible political gains that
      the politics of difference can yield both to dalit men and women.



      Indian Express
      December 01, 2005

      by G Ananthakrishnan

      Not this, we are Indians NEW DELHI, NOVEMBER 30: In 2005, India, the
      emerging superpower, is not ready for homosexuality.

      That's the upshot of the Centre's response to a petition in the Supreme
      Court where the Naz Foundation has challenged the validity of Section
      377 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC)-it deals with unnatural offences and
      makes gay sex a punishable act.

      The Union Home Ministry's affidavit states that "public opinion and the
      current societal context in India does not favour the deletion of the
      said offence from the statute book."

      Yet the affidavit also mentions that the Government was "examining"
      recommendations of the Law Commission of India which favoured deletion
      of the clause from the IPC.

      The affidavit, filed by Deputy Secretary (Judicial) Y K Baweja states
      ŒŒeven if it is assumed that the rights of sexual minorities emanates
      from a perceived right to privacy, the right of privacy cannot be
      extended to defeat public morality which must prevail over the exercise
      of any private right.''

      "The question of homosexuality is not a mere question of personal
      perferences but may involve behavioural sanction of legislative
      authority of the state as it tends to affect the social environment...In
      fact, homosexuality/sodomy is still an offence in large number of
      countries all over the world," states the affidavit which furnishes an
      exhaustive list of countries where it is illegal and where it is legal.

      As per the list, some of the countries that still retain the offence in
      their statute book are Algeria, Angola, Egypt, Libya, Barbados, St
      Lucia, Trinidad and Tobago, Afghanistan, Bhutan, Myanmar, Nepal,
      Maldives, Singapore, Solomon Islands and almost all Middle East
      countries except Iraq.

      The NGO had approached the Supreme Court against an order of the Delhi
      HC which last November dismissed their petition. In the appeal, the
      Foundation contended that the presence of the law was hampering its work
      in the field of HIV/AIDS intervention and prevention. Countering this,
      the Centre said it was only a "general apprehension"' and that no
      specific instance or reasons have been given to support the claim.

      The Centre also pointed out that it was for the legislature to decide
      whether homosexuality should be an offence of not and that "there are
      no judicially manageable standards by which to assess as to whether a
      particular act should be made an offence or not."




      Sangama invites you for its World AIDS Day program

      on 2nd December 2005, Friday

      from 4 pm to 7 pm

      at Nayana Auditorium, Kannada Bhavana, next to Ravindra Kalakshetra, JC
      Road, Bangalore.

      Program Schedule:

      1.Premiere of our film `HIV – A HUMAN QUESTION' (Directed by T.
      Jayasree, Produced by Sangama and Bukopharma-Germany). This film exposes
      the plight of the poor PLHA in the global south and critiques the
      effects of TRIPS agreement and lends support to the global struggle by
      PLHA for access to treatment

      2.Listening to the voices of PLHA (People Living with HIV/AIDS).
      Speakers include: Shekar (SWAM, Chennai), Asha (KNP+, Bangalore),
      Chandrika and Anasuya (Milana, Bangalore)

      3.Public Demonstration in solidarity with PLHA

      Each year December 1 is observed as World AIDS Day across the globe. HIV
      virus has killed nearly 3 crore people all over the world and about 90%
      of the fatalities are from the global south (developing countries). The
      fate of about 5 crore PLHA from the global south is extremely grim. AIDS
      has devastated many countries in Africa by killing/debilitating most of
      its productive populations. About 35%, 25%, 20% of the people in
      Botswana, Zimbabwe and South Africa are infected by the HIV virus.

      Unofficial estimates reveal that India has the highest number of PLHA
      (more than 50 lakh) in the world. The Indian government's response to
      this public health crisis is far from satisfactory. Lack of political
      will and moralistic HIV/AIDS interventions (by the government and
      others) are fuelling the spread of this pandemic. As sexual route is the
      main mode of HIV transmission, it is necessary to provide clear,
      complete and non-judgmental information to all people about HIV/AIDS.
      HIV/AIDS campaigns must talk openly about gender, sex, sexuality,
      sex-work, sexual practices and preferences. Continuing silence on
      homosexuality, bisexuality, anal sex, pre marital sex and extra marital
      sex will mean killing people by not providing life saving information.

      Stigma, discrimination, violence and human rights violations against
      PLHA are widespread. Although the Constitution of India guarantees the
      Right to Life and Health to all its citizens, PLHA are systematically
      deprived of care and support. The Indian government's free ART
      (anti-retroviral therapy, which can extend the life of a person with
      AIDS by 10 years) rollout needs to be scaled up drastically. At present
      it only provides first level of ART drugs to a limited number of people.
      Many PLHA are resistant to first level ART drugs whereas the need is for
      provision of all levels of ART drugs to all people who require it.

      Most PLHA cannot afford to access ART as they are expensive. The Indian
      government and our parliamentarians have let our people down by pursuing
      pro-globalization policies in enacting the new patent law. They failed
      to make use of certain beneficial clauses (in favour of poor people in
      situations of public health emergencies) in TRIPS agreement of the World
      Trade Organisation. The new patents regime, which came into force in
      January 2005, prevents Indian drug makers from manufacturing cheap and
      affordable generic versions of ART drugs. People in the global south are
      perishing as the MNCs (multi national corporations) in North America and
      Western Europe ruthlessly maximise their profits. These MNCs hold
      patents for life saving drugs and are selling them at any price they wish.

      We cannot leave the HIV/AIDS issues in the hands of a few NGOs and the
      government. This crisis needs to be addressed by all social movements,
      trade unions, mass organizations and social justice groups. All of us
      including you need to join hands to respond to this human crisis.

      Join us in this struggle against AIDS. Bring your friends along.




      *Discussion @ Sarai

      The Insurrection of Little Selves: The Crisis of Secular-Nationalism in
      Aditya Nigam
      3:30 pm, Wednesday, 11 January 2006
      Seminar Room, Sarai-CSDS

      Sarai invites Aditya Nigam to read from and discuss his book, 'The
      Insurrection of Little Selves: The Crisis of Secular nationalism in India'.

      Secular Nationalism as the hitherto ruling idealogy of the postcolonial
      Indian state represents a specific, historically constituted idealogical
      configuration. The 1980s witnessed the explosion of what could be
      loosely called 'identity politics'. This book is the first to explicitly
      examine this.

      Nigam argues that the moments of crisis in the secular consensus have
      revealed that its latent assumptions are fundamentally Hindu and its
      quest for a homogeneous national culture has lead, like other
      universalisms, to privilege the dominant and marginalise minority cultures.

      29 Rajpur Road, Delhi 110 054


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