South Asia Citizens Wire - 6 May 2012 - No. 2747
1. Pakistan - India: High on grass (Jawed Naqvi)
2. India: A dangerous high (Praful Bidwai)
3. Pakistan: A New Report on Curriculum of hatred in schools
4. Sri Lanka: A Monk On The Rampage (Niranjala Ariyawansha)
5. Sri Lanka: Australia Should Raise Torture Concerns (Human Rights Watch)'
6. India: ”It’s a girl!” ”Kill her” (Taslima Nasreen)
7. India: Pathribal ruling a setback for justice in Jammu and Kashmir (Amnesty International)
8. India: Lumpenland - The cause of West Bengal’s gloom lies in its people’s naiveté (Ashok Mitra)
9. Tunisia: Persepolis trial verdict signals 'erosion' of free speech (Amnesty International)
10. China: Beijing Leaders Considering End of Communist Rule (Li Heming)
- Tribute to Saadat Hassan Manto (Lahore, 14th - 17th May 2012)
1. PAKISTAN - INDIA: HIGH ON GRASS
by Jawed Naqvi
(Dawn, 26 April 2012)
Z.A. BHUTTO prescribed grass as the food that his people would merrily eat to mobilise resources for Pakistan’s bomb project, but he was not being original.
Reports from North Korea hinted at widespread starvation in what was then an aspiring nuclear weapons state. With the bomb in hand, the country is said to live on food dole from some of its perceived foes.
In Bhutto’s neighbourhood, when Indira Gandhi first tested the bomb in 1974, thousands of impoverished Indians were already scraping hybrid tree roots for a meal, which would become more precarious with seasonal drought and floods. Credible studies have likened populous Indian states — despite Manmohan Singh’s economic wizardry, or perhaps because of it — to sub-Saharan Africa.
Pakistan’s test of the Shaheen-1A nuclear missile on Wednesday followed a pattern of destitution. The government has not been able to rehabilitate victims of recent floods and earthquakes but it feels no shame boasting of a missile that can hit more parts of India but not do much more for its own people.
India’s successful launch of Agni V a few days earlier means it can target every part of China. As if on cue, the Indian media went out of its way to emphasise that the new missile would not reach America or Western Europe — so much for claims of nuclear sovereignty.
Indians are evidently unconvinced that ceaseless self-congratulation can be a sign of myopia. If TV-watching audiences in Delhi and Mumbai have been led to see Pakistan as a failed state, should they at least not be apprised also of the flip side to the assumption — that a supposedly failed state is still capable of showing off its ‘scientific’ achievements?
Does it do India credit to exult over a technology, which in theory or even in practice a North Korea or an Iran can replicate with equal ease? What Indians can boast of, if that is what they must do, is that the world in its strange wisdom has turned a blind eye to South Asia’s dangerously poised arsenal of bombs and missiles.
In any equitable democracy, with over a billion people to feed, 80 per cent of them living on less than a dollar a day, each Indian paisa spent on the military should be deemed a serious criminal offence. And that is only one part of the picture.
A new study sponsored by the Swiss foreign ministry has warned that even a diet of grass recommended by Bhutto and accepted in practice by Indians may not be on offer to survivors of a nuclear exchange not only in the subcontinent but across the oceans.
I was working with a newspaper in Dubai when the Chernobyl disaster happened in the Soviet Union. And I remember that milk powder from Turkey was banned because of its high radiation content. Contaminated rain clouds impacted the grass in neighbouring countries, which the cattle ingested. But that was a mild fallout. What lies ahead for the agricultural economies of not only India and Pakistan but all the way to the United States is mind-boggling in its enormity.
Swiss-backed studies published this year have examined the impact on agricultural output that would result from climate disruption alone.
Consider the fact that at the time of the Bengal famine of 1943, during which three million people died, food production was only five per cent less than it had been on average over the preceding five years.
But in 1943, after the Japanese occupation of Burma, which had historically exported grain to Bengal, the decline in food production was coupled with panic hoarding, and the price of rice increased nearly five-fold, making food unaffordable to large numbers of people.
These two factors — hoarding and the severe increase in rice prices, in which India and Pakistan excel — caused an effective inaccessibility of food far more severe than the actual shortfall in production.
We would have to expect panic on a far greater scale following a nuclear war, the studies say, even if it were a ‘limited’ regional war, especially as it became clear that there would be significant, sustained agricultural shortfalls over an extended period.
In the United States, corn production would decline by an average of 10 per cent for an entire decade, with the most severe decline about 20 per cent in year five.
A second study found a significant decline in Chinese middle-season rice production. The decline in available food would be exacerbated by increases in food prices, which would make food inaccessible to hundreds of millions of the world’s poorest.
Even if agricultural markets continued to function normally, 215 million people would be added to the rolls of the malnourished over the course of a decade.
However, markets would not function normally and in South Asia we know better. Significant, sustained agricultural shortfalls over an extended period would almost certainly lead to panic and hoarding on an international scale as food-exporting nations suspended exports in order to assure adequate food supplies for their own populations. This turmoil in the agricultural markets would further reduce accessible food, the studies conclude.
The 925 million people in the world who are chronically malnourished have a baseline consumption of 1,750 calories or less per day. Even a 10 per cent decline in their food consumption would put this entire group at risk.In addition, the anticipated suspension of exports from grain-growing countries would threaten the food supplies of several hundred million additional people who have adequate nutrition today, but who live in countries that are highly dependent on food imports.
The number of people threatened by nuclear-war induced famine would be well over one billion. Bhutto may have grandly prescribed a recipe of grass to build the bomb. But there may not be enough grass left to save the survivors of the bomb.
Clearly, the Swiss-sponsored studies underscore the urgent need to move with speed to the negotiation of a nuclear weapons convention that will eliminate the danger of nuclear war. It is more a question of collective survival than a matter of choosing a desperate cuisine. Let’s not be high on grass.
The writer is Dawn’s correspondent in Delhi.
2. INDIA: A DANGEROUS HIGH
by Praful Bidwai
Frontline, Volume 29 - Issue 09, May. 05-18, 2012
Euphoria over the Agni-V test flight reflects hypernationalism and jingoism, not rational concern for adequate security.
SO radical was the conceptual and doctrinal break that India made when it overtly crossed the nuclear weapons threshold in May 1998 that the architects of the new jingoist policy had to invent all kinds of rationalisations, subterfuges and pretences to “normalise” the rupture. The need to do so was all the more acute because no actual security threat or even a halfway serious indication of one justified the break. India, then under Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) rule, acquired these mass-destruction weapons largely for (false) reasons of global stature and prestige.
Four such rationalisations were important: nuclear weapons would promote strategic stability in the region; second, nuclearisation would help India limit/reduce its expenditure on conventional armaments; third, India would now have better leverage to fight for the ultimate and worthy objective of global nuclear disarmament; and fourth, India would act with exemplary restraint as a “responsible” nuclear weapons state (NWS) and avert the blunders the Great Powers committed during the Cold War, including sustaining a runaway arms race. Thus, India offered a no-first-use assurance and declared a moratorium on further tests.
All these rationalisations have come unstuck. The earliest to collapse was the first. India’s nuclear tests provoked a hysterical reaction in Pakistan, aggravated by Home Minister L.K. Advani’s hubris-driven warning to Pakistan against messing about in Kashmir because the “geostrategic” context had decisively changed in India’s favour. This showed the alarming mis-assessment at the highest levels of Pakistan’s nuclear capability. Pakistan conducted six nuclear blasts on May 28 and 30, 1998. A nasty exchange of threats and outright abuse followed between the two governments. Worse, a year after the tests, India and Pakistan fought a bitter conflict at Kargil. This was a mid-sized shooting war by global standards, involving tens of thousands of troops, top-of-the-shelf weaponry and hundreds of casualties, with a potential for escalation to the nuclear level, for which both states made preparations.
Each challenged the other to a nuclear duel, which stressed the conflict’s hair-raising nature. So much for the idea that nuclear weapons would promote strategic stability or induce sobriety and maturity among South Asia’s leaders. And so much for nuclear weapons deterring conventional conflicts. Contrary to the atomic apologists’ claims, nuclearisation has not slowed down the conventional arms race between India and Pakistan, and increasingly between India and China. India’s military spending has risen more than fourfold since 1998 to $48.9 billion, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. India became the world’s largest importer of arms in the 2007-11 period. Pakistan is bleeding itself to compete with India’s new, sophisticated, pricey weapons systems.
India promised to fight for global nuclear weapons elimination. The United Progressive Alliance (UPA) even pledged to update the 1988 Rajiv Gandhi plan for nuclear disarmament. These promises have proved hollow. A central feature of the United States-India nuclear deal is that it legitimises India’s nuclear weapons by resuming civilian nuclear commerce with India – although the country has not signed the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) or any other nuclear restraint agreement. In the process of joining the global nuclear club, India has legitimised all the NWS’ weapons and bid goodbye to disarmament.
The final rationalisation, offering restraint and “responsibility”, began fraying just a year after the tests when India issued the Draft Nuclear Doctrine, which duly mentioned a “credible minimum deterrent” and no-first-use, and pledged not to use nuclear weapons against non-NWSs unless they were aligned to NWSs. But operationally, it emphasised maximum credibility, effectiveness, survivability and the ability to deter any NWS through effective punitive retaliation.
The doctrine dismissed the idea of fixing the size of the deterrent and committed India to a “triadic” (land-, water- and air-based) nuclear arsenal with multiple redundant systems – that is, more than a bare minimum. It also declared that India would accept no limitation/restriction on its research & development capabilities or activities in regard to nuclear weapons and related areas.
In 2003, the government added the term “massive” to the nuclear retaliation proposition. It also diluted the no-first-use concept and the pledge not to attack non-NWSs: India would use nuclear weapons in response to a “major attack” on India or on Indian forces anywhere with chemical or biological weapons as well as nuclear arms. Soon “credible minimum deterrent” degraded into an obsession with a second-strike capability, which makes nonsense of nuclear restraint.
The development of the Agni series of missiles, culminating in the Agni-V with a range of 5,000 kilometres, as well as the recent acquisition, on lease, of a nuclear-propelled submarine from Russia, was a consequence of the way the doctrine of nuclear deterrence has evolved in India, with all its degenerative logic on full display.
Ironically, for half a century until 1998, India itself had warned against this logic and condemned nuclear deterrence in a principled fashion. The nuclear deterrence doctrine holds that security is best achieved not through the elimination of nuclear weapons but through a “balance of terror” – deterring an adversary’s nuclear attack by threatening him with “unacceptable damage” with your own nuclear armaments.
India termed nuclear deterrence “morally abhorrent” because underlying it is pitiless disregard for human life, and preparedness and readiness to kill millions of civilians in the “enemy” country. India also argued that deterrence is strategically irrational because nuclear weapons do not provide security and are not instruments of defence but only of aggression. Deterrence leads to an arms race, which creates greater insecurity and is potentially ruinous economically as well. This captured the essential truth about the Cold War, with its furious build-up of nuclear warheads, missile rivalry, and spiralling spending on mass-destruction as well as conventional armaments in the rival blocs led by the United States and the Soviet Union.
This made the world even more unsafe, causing hundreds of accidents, strategic misperceptions, false alarms, near-combat situations and confrontations such as the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962. We now know from declassified documents that the Cuban crisis was much worse than thought earlier. More scarily, neither the Kennedy nor the Khrushchev leadership was aware of its true gravity. There were hundreds of other occasions when deterrence very nearly broke down.
Nuclear deterrence assumes that there will be perfect transparency about the nuclear capabilities and doctrines of all adversaries, that there will be no accidental or unauthorised use of nuclear weapons and no strategic misperceptions, and that command and control as well as early warning systems will work efficiently at all times.
In reality, there is very little transparency or clarity about adversaries’ intentions or actions. They strive to maintain elements of surprise and deception. All kinds of accidents happened during and after the Cold War despite the expenditure of trillions of dollars on command and control systems. Early warning systems often proved unreliable. Nuclear submarines collided with ships carrying nuclear weapons. Weather rockets were mistaken for missiles. Counter-strikes were ordered – to be called off in the nick of time only because a technician detected the misperception.
As a statement of 1996 by 60 generals and admirals from different countries said, deterrence was always unstable and unreliable. The probability of accidental or unauthorised use of nuclear weapons always remained significant. Deterrence is a deadly delusion. It represents a slippery slope to disaster.
The Agni-V was greeted in India with raucous celebration and sabre-rattling rooted in chauvinist hypernationalism. Political parties vied with one another to lavish praise on Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) personnel for their “scientific achievement”. They ignored the hostile reaction from the Chinese state-owned Global Times newspaper, which noted Agni-V’s China-specific nature and said India was being swept by a “missile delusion”, but stood “no chance in an overall arms race with China” and would “gain nothing by stirring further hostility”.
Some of our commentators are happy that the U.S., which had pressed India to suspend Agni test-flights in 1994 and then again in 2003-5, has not reacted unfavourably to the latest test flight and praised India’s non-proliferation record. But that is because India is being drawn into the U.S.’ China containment strategy. There will be a price to pay for rushing headlong into a missile and nuclear arms race with China, which is three times bigger in both economic size and military expenditure. Amidst the euphoria, nobody talks about the price. The most sober advice being offered is that India should not equip Agni-V with Multiple Independently Targetable Re-Entry Vehicles (MIRV), or numerous warheads which can hit different targets. It should only treat Agni-V as a “deterrent”.
This only caters to the growing smug faith among our leaders in nuclear deterrence and the notion of a “responsible nuclear state”, itself an oxymoron. The greatest tragedy is that New Delhi has erased from its consciousness the truth about deterrence. India must pause and rethink. It must explore peaceful diplomatic approaches to defuse rivalry with its neighbours, while returning to the global nuclear disarmament agenda.
[The above is also available at: http://www.sacw.net/article2665.html
3. PAKISTAN: A NEW REPORT ON CURRICULUM OF HATRED IN SCHOOLS
For decades the textbooks used in Pakistan’s educational institutions, especially the ones used in the public sector, have drawn serious criticism from experts and concerned citizens. Besides being shoddily produced, the textbooks lack creativity and fail to stimulate a child’s imagination. The most serious charge against them is that the content, wholly or partially, is biased, selective and inculcates in the child a parochial and subjective outlook. The charge is primarily levelled against the textbooks for the disciplines of History, Pakistan Studies and Islamiat, but is not confined to these subjects. For the most part the content of these textbooks seeks to stem analytical thinking and follows what some have described as the “curriculum of hatred”. In addition to creating a sense of nationhood grounded in religion, these textbooks have served to entrench denominational thinking that leads to religious bigotry.
4. SRI LANKA: A MONK ON THE RAMPAGE
by Niranjala Ariyawansha
Ven. Inamaluwe Sumangala Thero, the Chief Priest at the Rangiri Dambulla Viharaya was in the forefront in recent times leading a protest at Dambulla to relocate a mosque which was within the sacred Vihara land, disputed by the Muslim fraternity. The issue is yet on the boil and the government has not resolved this sensitive stand off.
Inamaluwe Sumangala Thero is no stranger to controversy and has time and again led protests against the administrative and political structure. Our reporter Niranjala Ariyawansha interviewed the Chief monk. At the conclusion of this interview Sumangala Thero warned our reporter of dire consequences if she ever stepped foot into Dambulla.
5. SRI LANKA: AUSTRALIA SHOULD RAISE TORTURE CONCERNS
(Human Rights Watch)
Cooperation on People-Smuggling Risks Further Abuses
April 30, 2012
Rejected asylum seekers returned to Sri Lanka have been subject to arbitrary detention, torture, and other serious human rights abuses. Efforts to counter and prevent people-smuggling should seek to protect asylum seekers, and shouldn’t interfere with their right to seek asylum.
Phil Lynch, executive director of the Human Rights Law Centre
(Melbourne) – Australia’s immigration minister should raise concerns with Sri Lankan officials about alleged arbitrary arrest and torture of people who were refused asylum and sent back to Sri Lanka when he visits this week, the Human Rights Law Centre and Human Rights Watch said today.
Immigration Minister Chris Bowen is scheduled to visit Sri Lanka from May 2 to 4, 2012, to discuss migration issues, including preventing people smuggling from Sri Lanka to Australia. Bowen has said, “Australia will continue working closely with Sri Lanka on issues relating to people smuggling, including preventing and disrupting people smuggling ventures by air and sea.” The Human Rights Law Centre and Human Rights Watch called on Bowen and all senior Australian officials to ensure that respect for human rights and accountability for human rights violations are central to all discussions with their Sri Lankan counterparts.
“Rejected asylum seekers returned to Sri Lanka have been subject to arbitrary detention, torture, and other serious human rights abuses,” said Phil Lynch, executive director of the Human Rights Law Centre. “Efforts to counter and prevent people-smuggling should seek to protect asylum seekers, and shouldn’t interfere with their right to seek asylum.”
Australia cooperates closely with Sri Lanka on addressing people-smuggling. The Sri Lankan Department of Immigration and Emigration receives Australian aid, and Australia’s last federal budget included almost AU$11 million to deploy Australian federal police officers to Sri Lanka and other countries to “combat people smuggling.”
The Human Rights Law Centre and Human Rights Watch urged both governments to make certain that they do not undermine legal protections for asylum seekers in their efforts to counter people-smuggling. Human Rights Watch has documented at least eight cases in which people who had unsuccessfully sought asylum in the UK were returned to Sri Lanka and endured serious human rights abuses, including torture and rape. Some said they were beaten with batons and burned with cigarettes.
The Edmund Rice Center in Australia similarly documented in May 2010 that asylum seekers returned to Sri Lanka were handed over to the Criminal Investigation Department, the Sri Lankan police, and taken into custody. Some have been detained and assaulted.
In March an Australian citizen, Premakumar Gunaratnam, who was trying to form a political party in Sri Lanka, alleged that he was picked up and tortured in custody. Sri Lankan authorities subsequently deported him to Australia.
The United Nations Committee against Torture found in November 2011 that torture and ill-treatment in Sri Lanka are “widespread and persistent.” It stated that, “[The] continued and consistent allegations of widespread use of torture and other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment of suspects in police custody, especially to extract confessions or information to be used in criminal proceedings. The Committee is further concerned at reports that suggest that torture and ill-treatment perpetrated by state actors, both the military and the police, have continued in many parts of the country after the conflict ended in May 2009 and is still occurring in 2011.”
“Australia should ensure that human rights concerns and safeguards are paramount in any security, intelligence, and migration cooperation with Sri Lanka,” said Elaine Pearson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “Australia is prohibited under the Refugees Convention and international human rights law from sending anyone to a country where they face torture and ill-treatment.”
Immigration Minister Bowen should also raise Australia’s broader concerns about the human rights situation in Sri Lanka during his visit, the organizations said. Specifically he should ask what the Sri Lankan government is doing to investigate and prosecute alleged war crimes during Sri Lanka’s 26-year-long conflict, which ended three years ago.
In March the UN Human Rights Council adopted a resolution on Sri Lanka showing strong international support for accountability for abuses committed by all sides to the conflict. The resolution calls upon the Sri Lankan government to fulfill its legal obligations toward justice and accountability, to expeditiously provide a comprehensive action plan to carry out the recommendations of its Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission, and to address alleged violations of international law. It also encourages the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and other UN human rights envoys to assist Sri Lanka in implementing these steps.
“Bowen should make it crystal clear though public and private statements that Australia supports international efforts at accountability, and that Sri Lanka has failed to deliver,” Lynch said. “In particular, Bowen should ask what efforts have been made to implement the UN Human Rights Council resolution to ensure justice for the numerous atrocities that occurred during the conflict.”
6. INDIA: ”IT’S A GIRL!” ”KILL HER”.
by Taslima Nasreen
April 30, 2012
We fought against patriarchy and religion for our sexual freedom. We now fight against multi-billion dollar sex industries to stop sexual exploitation of women. We fought against religion for our abortion rights. We now fight against misogynistic patriarchal societies to stop sex-selective abortion. It seems it is a never-ending fight.
”The emotional, sexual, and psychological stereotyping of females begins when the doctor says, ‘It’s a girl’ ”– Shirley Chisholm
Amartya Sen, the Nobel Prize winning economist said in 1990, that more than 100 million women are missing. ‘In India, China and some other countries in the world , girls are killed, aborted & abandoned because they are girls. The United Nations estimates as many as 200 million girls are missing in the world today because of gendercide. 50 million missing campaign fighting gendercide in India. Gendercide is war on women.
We know at birth boys outnumber girls, there are 105 or 106 male children for every 100 female children. But later women outnumber men because women are more resistant to disease, and tend to live longer than men even if men and women receive similar nutritional and medical attention and general health care. India and China are having skewed sex ratio at birth. In some places of India there are even less than 700 girls for 1000 boys.
Abortion is legal, but sex-selective abortion is not legal in India. Some people have tried to talk about law. Those women who have killed their own female fetuses, cried out, ‘law, what is law? Will the law come to my aid when my husband throws me out of the house or kills me for giving birth to yet another girl! Will the law help me when my husband marries again in the hope of a son? Can the law change the way society looks at me because I have no son! ‘
If the woman cannot provide a son, her life is torn asunder by strife. To put it bluntly, the message flashed by society – and this is what people really think, no matter what they say – is that, if you have two sons, you have two eyes. If you have one son, you are blind in one eye. And if you have two daughters, you are completely blind.
The women who support female feticide also say, ‘why should we let them live? We do not want any girl. Should we let girls be born so that they suffer the way we are suffering? They say, what good does being alive do to us? It is better that an insufferable life ends before it can begin. It is better to go straight to heaven than stay alive and endure the kicks and blows of the world.’ Are they wrong in saying this?
Once upon a time, people in patriarchal society would run temple to temple and pray to god for a son, they would spend extravagantly on saints and hermits, but now there is no need of magic charms and spells, a medium even stronger than god has come to India – science. Scan machines, amniocentesis and other scientific tests reveal the sex of the embryo in the womb – if the sex is not right then it is got rid of. The right sex is masculine, the wrong sex feminine. The healthy sex is masculine, the disabled sex feminine.
Girls are quickly disappearing. Anti-women traditions have been carefully preserved over the ages. There are quite a few communities, which regard sons as only offspring, and not daughters. Till 1980, infant girls used to be killed after they were born. Feticide had not caught on. Despite being banned, the incidence of feticide is on the rise. It makes one afraid that as long as the status of girls in society does not improve, there is no way these murders, this bloodshed, can be prevented.
We say, if women are educated and self-reliant, then female infanticide and female feticide will stop. Most people believe that these occur among the poor and the uneducated. But, in fact, the opposite is true. The study shows in India the ratio of girls to boys is the most skewed in South Delhi, a place where the rich and the educated live. It is here that the maximum number of girls go missing. Down from 904 to 845 in just 10 years. 24,000 girls disappear from South Delhi every year. The Patels of Gujarat are a wonder. Traditionally rich peasants, there is no trace of girls in their villages. It’s femicide, the systematic killing of women. A holocaust going on against girls across the country. A pogrom.
Sometimes I think ‘educated’ people can plan the murder of their fetuses with much more skill than uneducated people. ‘Educated’ girls can learn patriarchal system much better than uneducated girls. They sure have better learning ability. They even practice it better. Misogyny can not be wiped out through conventional education that does not teach gender equality.
Girls are fast becoming disappearing. Anti-women traditions have been carefully preserved over the ages. There are quite a few communities, which regard only sons as offspring, and not daughters. Till 1980, infant girls used to be killed after they were born. Feticide had not caught on. Despite being banned, the incidence of feticide is on the rise. It makes one afraid that as long as the status of girls in society does not improve, there is no way these murders can be prevented.
Since infant girls have been murdered over the ages, female feticide today does not go against anti-women tradition. It is like weeding – plucking off girls from the soil of the womb reserved for the production of sons. There is nothing surprising about murdering daughters in a race that has always been thirsty for sons. Killing of girl children was probably in vogue from the ancient Vedic age. The Atharva Veda says, Let girls be born elsewhere, let boys take birth here. Son is wealth. Son is a blessing. The son will be the father’s strength in old age. The father will go to heaven if the son lights his funeral pyre. It is the son who will rescue the father from hell.
Female feticide is causing social imbalance. Now brothers share a wife. The murder of girls has led to such an acute shortage of girls that an exchange system has been initiated. According to this system, parents agree to give their daughter in marriage on the condition that the groom’s sister marries the bride’s brother. “Bride Trafficking” has started. Men are now ‘recycling’ the use of women for sex and reproduction. .
Now a days men want educated wives. So girls are getting educated so that they can sell well in the marriage mart. An educated wife can do the shopping, pay the bills, look after the children’s studies, and solve problems at school, all on her own. A man said, my wife has a postgraduate degree in Maths, all the better since she can help the kids with the homework. So I don’t need to engage a tutor for them. And why should my wife work outside the home? We don’t need any extra money in the family. She has a lot to do at home.
The money women earn is known as extra money. University degrees are meant to help the kids with their homework, nothing else. The norm is that middle class girls will not work after marriage.Only those girls, who badly need money for survival or those girls whose money husbands want, get permission to work outside the house.
Alas! So much for education! Educated girls have to pay more dowry. The more educated a girl is, the more educated husband she demands. And thus the amount of dowry required also escalates. Many people think that a handsome dowry enhances the dignity of the girl. However, dowry never improves the status of a girl in her in-laws’ house, rather it results in loss of dignity. The more dowry is paid, the more the girl’s status at her in-laws will deteriorate. The husband is not supposed to pay dowry, no matter how educated the girl is, no matter how grand the job she holds. The ‘Brides Wanted’ column is clear testimony to the value of girls in this society. Wanted: A fair complexion, beautiful, educated, homely girl from a respectable family. ‘Homely girl’ means a girl who will spend all 24 hours of the day on domestic chores, one who will not hold a job. ‘Respectable family’ means a family that will pay a handsome dowry. If the groom comes from an affluent family, it does not mean that a poor dowry will do, rather the dowry must be all the more generous. When this is the condition, why will people not believe that the birth of a girl means entails huge expenses! Girls are an inferior race – this belief is ingrained in both men and women across India. And since a girl belongs to an inferior race, dowry is needed to get rid of her.
The abortion clinics display an advertisement. Spend Rs 500, you’ll save Rs. 50,000. In other words, kill this one. If this one lives, you’ll lose Rs. 50,000 in dowry. For those yearning for a son, the sex determination clinics are modern temples.
Women have had to struggle for decades for the right of abortion. Acquiring the right of abortion was a huge event in the history of women’s emancipation. However, when in India, a foetus is aborted by virtue of belonging to a certain gender, and that gender is the feminine gender, then such abortion has no relation whatsoever with women’s liberty, but is inseparably related with the tragedy of women’s subjugation.
The law has not been able to eradicate the dowry system. It can never be eradicated as long as every member of the family continues to believe that a girl cannot be as economically powerful as a boy. Society needs a lot of change. Society must understand that girls are very important members of the society, not burdens for whom dowry must be paid, not machines for the production of sons. If women and men do not unite in the attempt to transform society, female feticide will continue unabated.
This society is not a fit place for girls, so it is better not to allow them to be born. This logic is something like this: there is too much shouting and screaming all around, the noise pollution is giving one a headache, so it is better to chop off the head. Many claim that if women themselves choose the gender of the child before giving birth, then they will be saved from many undesired pregnancies. How helpless she must be not to have the slightest control over the fetus growing inside her womb! Women are compelled to yield to societal as well as many kinds of family pressure and opt for abort a female fetus. An undesired pregnancy is not as terrible as this forsaken, helpless, undignified, disgraceful condition of women.
If the practice of female feticide continues as they are now, it will not be very many decades before there will be not a single girl in the country, only men. The good thing will be that men will find no more girls to torture, trample, rape and kill.
7. INDIA: PATHRIBAL RULING A SETBACK FOR JUSTICE IN JAMMU AND KASHMIR
1 May 2012
Special powers that allow India’s armed forces suspected of involvement in extra-judicial killings to sidestep the civilian courts have been reinforced in a disappointing court ruling over the notorious killings of five Kashmiri civilians 12 years ago.
India’s Supreme Court has contradicted a reported statement by its Justices in February 2012 that army personnel suspected of murder should be placed in front of a civil judge.
Instead it opted to give military authorities eight weeks to bring about the court martial of eight army officials allegedly responsible for the unlawful killing of five youths in Pathribal, in March 2000. Failing that, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), may apply to prosecute the army personnel.
“Today’s ruling is a major setback – not only for victims in this case but for other victims unlawfully killed by army or paramilitary forces in Jammu and Kashmir,” said Ramesh Gopalakrishnan, Amnesty International’s India Researcher.
“The option of a court martial allows these army officials to continue to avoid judgment in court of law.”
The CBI, which investigated the Pathribal killings, has contended it has sufficient evidence to show that the killings were extrajudicial executions and ‘cold-blooded murder’. It filed charges against the eight army officials in local courts in Jammu and Kashmir. In response army officials invoked special powers stating that they need not appear for trial in a civilian court of law.
The Armed Forces J & K (Special Powers) Act, 1990 requires the CBI to seek official permission to initiate criminal proceedings against the eight accused officials.
“Today’s ruling should have taken into account the evidence provided by the CBI; by giving the first option to the army for a court martial, this ruling reinforces immunity from prosecution in other cases of alleged extra-judicial killings in Jammu and Kashmir,” said Gopalakrishnan.
“Instead of upholding the universal and constitutional right to life, the Supreme Court chose to rely on emergency laws which provide excessive powers, as well as impunity, to the army.
“The families of the victims must have their day in court. The Indian authorities must restore public confidence in the rule of law, and ensure justice for the victims of the Pathribal killings.
“Impunity for human rights violations by the army and paramilitary forces under “special powers” legislation must stop.”
AI Index: PRE01/231/2012
Region Asia And The Pacific
8. INDIA: LUMPENLAND - THE CAUSE OF WEST BENGAL’S GLOOM LIES IN ITS PEOPLE’S NAIVETÉ
by Ashok Mitra
(The Telegraph, May 4 , 2012)
Milieu makes the mood; if you are rooted in Calcutta and West Bengal, it would be impossible for you to escape the gloom and apprehension rending the air. It would be equally difficult to evade the onus of co-authoring the circumstances that have led to the present state of affairs.
The Left Front — or maybe the Communist Party of India (Marxist) or maybe the party’s state leadership — took, during the seventh term of the front’s regime in the state, certain decisions and condoned certain activities which totally alienated important sections of people. The regime, besides, was patently inefficient. One reason for this was its over-dependence on party hacks who lacked even the minimum competence. The ambience bred both sycophancy and corruption. Nepotism grievously impaired the working of the panchayats, with the result that what was initially considered to be the bastion of Left strength turned into a noose round its neck. The bush telegraph works with expedition in the countryside; disaffection spread like wildfire.
Come poll time 2011, large groups of voters did not care for whom they were voting as long as they were voting against the Left. The lady whom the Time magazine has now canonised was biding her time; that moment arrived. She had been relentlessly campaigning against the Left and its ideology and praxis for years on end. She was at the spot whenever and wherever the Left or its government, whether purposely or absentmindedly, happened to do something that hurt the sentiments of the people; she would organize, pronto, massive protests. She had a kind of charisma which captivated the lower echelons of society, which in turn evoked the admiration of upper middle-class categories. Ensuring that the vote against the Left did not get dissipated, all these sections solidly opted for the candidates picked by the lady. Even segments of the electorate representing, so to say, the literati swelled this crowd. Few, very few, were interested in digging into the lady’s antecedents. She was vowing to demolish the CPI(M) and vindicate the people’s will; she was promising to restore democratic norms and the rule of law; she dripped sincerity; there was apparently no reason not to take the contents of her poll manifesto at their face value.
The lady annihilated the Left. The literati rejoiced. Euphoria took over. Once she had accomplished the big miracle, the sequels, it was taken for granted, were bound to follow. Law and order would return to the state. Snatchings, killings, odious offences against women would stop. Nepotism would vanish in the educational sphere and merit would once again prevail over mediocrity. The panchayats and civic bodies would be rid of big and small corruption, farmers would begin to get fair prices for their crop, factories would reopen, even if it would not quite be the ushering in of the ethereal season of milk and honey, it would at least be a modest version of it.
Destroying the Front, especially the CPI(M), was in any case the common objective of a wide spectrum. The ruling party at the Centre nurtured a deep anathema for the CPI(M), the central leadership of which had proved to be an infernal nuisance. Here was a golden opportunity to discomfiture that beastly party. The Congress mobilized all its resources to help the lady, streetfighter par excellence, who in fact, not long ago, was very much in the parent party. Big business was known in the pre-poll weeks to have invested generously for the lady; its rationale for backing her was nothing very specific, simply that the inordinately long reign of a communist formation in a strategically important part of the country was thought to be bad for the health of industry and commerce. Extraordinarily enough, poll-eve support for the lady was not lacking from the far-out Left either. Not just the Maoists, several Naxalite and neo-Naxalite factions also devoutly wished for the electoral defeat of the CPI(M) for what they judged to be its unforgivable betrayal of the revolutionary cause and its evident endorsement of the capitalist path of development. If this Rosa Luxemburg of the Right was the appropriate deus ex machina to achieve the purpose in view, there should be no holding back from offering her some, if not material, at least symbolic, support. The attitude of these stray groups was not far different from that of a substantial number of ordinary householders who were till then habituated to think of themselves as integral constituents of the Left mainstream, but who, on this occasion, were determined to give the Left Front leadership a hiding so that it learned the lesson and returned to good behaviour.
The events of the last few weeks, with the new administration in the state, and particularly its chief minister, on the rampage, have been a rude awakening. A great many among those who rooted for the lady are scandalized; they have not been at all prepared for this kind of denouement of the dream they dreamt barely a year ago. Once more they are having recourse to the modus operandi they chose when they were protesting against the Left Front: rallies, processions, signature campaigns, television interviews, poster exhibitions, songs and poetry writing, street corner skits. Restoring democracy and the rule of law, resisting authoritarianism, opposing one-party hegemony in the educational field, asserting the people’s right to read what they like and write and speak what they have in their minds — these and similar other incantations are choking the concourse.
Pardon the impertinence, but are not the protestors back in the streets really paying for their own naiveté? They were under no compulsion to vote for the lady. They nonetheless did, for their own reasons and without taking into account the likely consequences. If she is now reckoned to be failing them, that is no business of hers, but of those who voted in the manner they did.
The literati would presumably express surprise at the statement. The lady had promised certain things, they would post the complaint, which she is now disavowing in a flagrant manner. Is this though not precisely where their blunder lies? They did not bother to do some elementary research into her bio-data. From the very beginning of her career, the lady had been contemptuous of the dividing line between fact and presumption. She has over the years trained herself to make the most outrageous statements and proceed as if these were beyond challenge. In other words, she has never owned responsibility for her words. One of her major capital assets is her dogged will to succeed in life. She has been unhesitant to cut whatever corners it was expedient to cut in the pursuit of this goal. The so-called moral issue has never detained her. Perhaps even as late as today, she is unable to understand why all that fuss was created over her bogus doctorate from a non-existent American university. Her pre-poll pledges last year were for the birds; she does not lose any sleep on account of her lightheartedness.
Make no mistake though, she has one basic loyalty. That is to her primal constituency, the formidable army of lumpens made up of the various underclasses in Calcutta and across the state; slum dwellers leading a wretched existence under the most unsanitary conditions and with uncertain, often shady, means of livelihood, laid-off workers out of a job for years on end, petty office-goers and teachers of diverse academic streams who are convinced society has been deliberately unfair to them, second or third generation migrants from what was once East Pakistan barely scraping a living and unable to get reconciled to their immiserized conditions, the multitude of frustrated youth who try to earn some money by hawking whatever they can lay their hands on, shirkers and lazybones, misfits and misanthropes of all descriptions and, finally, thugs and rowdies. A persistent feeling of hostility towards the system — any system — binds these elements together. Afflicted by a restless turbulence, they love to hate whomever they consider hate-worthy. This heterogeneity is instinctively against any organization or discipline. They, therefore, abhor organized political parties, which preach the necessity of long, united struggle to attain desired ends. The lady, reared by streetfighting, speaks a language and uses a vocabulary that bewitch them. She has an ample stock of foul abusive words to run down the organized Left. They roar in approval. The lady promises them the moon which, she assures, involves no pain; they just have to stand by her. They believe her because she is so much like them. They have sworn undying allegiance to her. She too is resolute never to disown their company, she is for them; they are for her. The freebies she is distributing are her way of requiting their love and loyalty.
True, about every political party in the neighbourhood believes in retaining a reservoir of lumpens. The services of these toughies are occasionally called for in delicate situations. But the party bosses generally feel somewhat bashful about the phenomenon and take care to keep the lumpen elements under cover. In the loose organizational structure the lady is experimenting with, things are the reverse: while this is a veneer of the bhadralok tribe here and there, the lumpens are to the fore, they are the lady’s closest confidants cum advisers. They know, thanks to her, their kingdom has come and they would now get even with all those who, in the past, used to sneer at them.
There is possibly a little bit more. The run of her continuous successes in various political battlefields — mainly because of the current precarious state of being of the United Progressive Alliance government at the Centre — has convinced many of the lumpen brigade that she is no less than a goddess. The lady herself, symptoms suggest, has begun to half-believe in her divinity. The autocratic demeanour she is increasingly betraying lends credence to the surmise.
The arithmetic of the budget is no respecter of divinity. That apart, an administration cannot be run with any degree of efficiency by lumpens, or their proxies. The people of West Bengal cannot gauge the fate awaiting them in the coming days. But is the goddess of a chief minister herself sanguine what lies ahead of her?
9. TUNISIA: PERSEPOLIS TRIAL VERDICT SIGNALS 'EROSION' OF FREE SPEECH
Amnesty International Press release
3 April 2012
A Tunis court’s decision to fine a TV boss for “spreading information which can disturb the public order” after he screened an animated French movie is a sign of the continuing erosion of free speech in Tunisia, Amnesty International said.
Nabil Karoui was fined 2,400 Tunisian Dinar ($1,500) after his station broadcast the animated French film Persepolis dubbed into Tunisian Arabic dialect in October 2011. The film was criticized for being blasphemous because of a scene showing a representation of God. Karoui’s lawyers have confirmed that he will be appealing the verdict.
“On a day that is meant to celebrate world press freedom, Tunisia has shown its failure to respect the basic right of freedom of expression. Nabil Karoui should not have been tried to begin with, let alone found guilty for exercising his right to peacefully express his views”, said Ann Harrison, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa programme.
Two others have also been found guilty of participating in the crime: Nadia Jamal, head of the organization that dubbed the movie into Tunisian dialect, and Alhadi Boughanim, responsible for monitoring programs. Both have also been fined.
Others have been found guilty previously on similar charges. For example, the editor of Arabic daily Attounissia was found guilty of ‘spreading information which can disturb the public order” on 8 March 2012 and fined 1000 Tunisian Dinar ($US 650). The daily had published a photograph of a German-Tunisian football player and his girlfriend who appears naked with his hand covering her breasts.
“While protecting public morals or public order may sometimes be a legitimate reason for restricting freedom of expression, such restrictions may only be imposed if absolutely necessary. This is clearly not the situation in these cases – people should not be convicted and sentenced for their views, even if these views are seen as controversial or offensive,” said Ann Harrison.
The convictions come amid growing complaints against what is seen as the government’s lack of will to implement freedom of the press and other media.
Journalists and activists have criticized the government for not enforcing new press and audiovisual laws passed in November 2011 which amend repressive provisions found in the old Press Law.
Instead they are resorting to articles in the Penal Code such as “spreading information that disturbs the public order” to prosecute journalists and others for peacefully expressing their opinions. The failure to implement the new laws is widely regarded as an attempt by the government to control and restrict the media.
A report issued by the National Committee of Information and Communication Reform last month highlights the problems that continue to face the media sector and the need for reform.
“At a time when Tunisia should be leading the way by showing its commitment to free and open debate and setting an example in its respect for human rights, it is disappointing to see the authorities resorting to these tactics to repress freedom of expression,” said Ann Harrison.
10. China: Beijing Leaders Considering End of Communist Rule
by Li Heming
According to a high-level source in Beijing, key leaders in the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) Politburo have reached four points of consensus that will be announced on or around the 18th Party Congress. The tenor of the decision is that China will take the path of democracy. The news has been circulated hurriedly in Beijing. According to the source, the four points of consensus are:
1. People from all walks of life, political parties, and social organizations should send representatives to form a preparatory committee for a new constitution. They will draft a new constitution that protects the rights of citizens to freely form associations and political parties.
2. It will be announced that the Chinese Communist Party has finished its historical mission as the ruling party. Party membership will need to be re-registered, with the free choice to re-enter the Party or leave it.
3. “June 4,” Falun Gong, and all groups who have been wrongly persecuted in the process of devoting themselves to China’s realization of democracy will be redressed and receive compensation.
4. The military will be nationalized.
Celebrating 100 years of Saadat Hassan Manto (May 1912-2012)
in collaboration with the Lahore Arts Council
Tribute to Manto
on 14th, 15th , 16th & 17th May 2012 at 7pm
VENUE: Hall #2, Alhamra the Mall, Lahore.
You are coordially invited to the following events
14th & 15th May
Toba Tek Singh,
adapted by: Shahid Nadeem
directed by: Madeeha Gauhar
by Naeem Tahir
16th & 17th May
adapted by: Shahid Nadeem
directed by: Naseem Abbas
· Sawerey Jo Kal Ankh Mairee Khuli
· Pardey ki Baatain
· Dekh Kabira Roya
· Uncle Sam Ke Khatoot
by Naveed Shahzad, Naseem Abbas & Furqan Majeed
For further Information:-
Ajoka: 042-36686634, 36682443, 36677047 Alhamra: 99200917-8
· Children under 12 are strictly not allowed
· Mobile phones must be switched off before entering the hall
· Doors shall be closed upon commencement of the performance
· Consumption of eatables & drinks in the hall is not allowed
South Asia Citizens Wire
Buzz for secularism, on the dangers of fundamentalism(s), on
matters of peace and democratisation in South
Asia. Newsletter of South Asia Citizens Web:
DISCLAIMER: Opinions expressed in materials carried in the posts do not necessarily reflect the views of SACW compilers.