SACW - 22 June 2013 / Pakistan - India: peace process ? / Bangladesh: whose labor / Nepal, India and spooks / Tributes: Satyapal Dang / India defence budget; Kerry show / Turkey: resisting moral and spatial orders
- South Asia Citizens Wire - 22 June 2013 - No. 2788
1. Pakistan - India: Agenda for peace process (A G Noorani)
2. Bangladesh: Who’s prospering on whose labor? (Anu Muhammad)
3. Nepal, India and South Asia (Kanal Mani Dixit)
4. Harassment of a Sri Lankan Human Rights Defender by a group led by the Sri Lankan Embassy in Tokyo: Press release IMADR
5. India: Mihir Sharma - Tales of two riots
6. (A)tom and Kerry Show: It’s All Money, Stupid! (People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy)
7. India: Military Budget 2013-14: Giant with Feet of Clay (Gautam Navlakha)
8. Pakistan raises annual defence budget by 10 per cent
9. RIP comrade Satyapal Dang - homage to a great man (Purushottam Agrawal)
10. India: AB Bardhan’s Tribute to Satpal Dang
11. Audio: Accent of Women speaks to Rukmini Rao of the Gramya Resource Centre for Women, in India, about sex selective abortion and femicide
12. Video: Gyanendra Pandey: "Modern Prejudice: ’Vernacular’ and ’Universal.’ "
13. Video: Ananya Vajpeyi on "B.R Ambedkar: Reshaping the Political Imagination in Modern India"
14. Turkey’s urban citizens resisting moral and spatial orders
16. Why India Trails China (Amartya Sen)
17. Book Review: 'Perry Anderson, The Indian Ideology' by Ravi Palat
18. In Ankara (Tariq Ali)
19. Mass World Cup Protests Rock Brazil (Dave Zirin)
20. Yes We Scan! Privacy Activists Protest Against PRISM and NSA
1. PAKISTAN - INDIA: AGENDA FOR PEACE PROCESS
by A G Noorani
THERE was much more than a sense of formality in Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s congratulations to Mian Nawaz Sharif on the impressive victory of the PML-N in the May 11 elections. Equally, the response of Mian Nawaz Sharif went far beyond the formal in its warmth.
2. BANGLADESH: WHO’S PROSPERING ON WHOSE LABOR?
by Anu Muhammad
It is the money of the people that pays for every governmental and semi-governmental car, building, air conditioner, meeting, transportation, food, luxury, waste, lifestyle, foreign travels, shopping, and so forth. Maybe people do not notice, but the bulldozer demolishing their homes, the RAB or police baton hitting their heads, the muscle-flexing of the ministers, MPs, and bureaucrats, and the pageantry, the new buildings, and the expensive cars are all made possible because of their money. The government leaves everyone indebted with its promises and resources, but the source of that money is neither governmental nor private. It is people’s money.
3. NEPAL, INDIA AND SOUTH ASIA
by Kanal Mani Dixit
Sovereign societies should not allow foreign powers to get involved in internal matters; it can be all downhill if you don’t watch out
4. HARASSMENT OF A SRI LANKAN HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDER BY A GROUP LED BY THE SRI LANKAN EMBASSY IN TOKYO: PRESS RELEASE IMADR
TOKYO, 13 JUNE 2013 – IMADR strongly condemns any kinds and acts of reprisal and harassment against Human Rights Defenders and expresses its grave concern and protest against the action and behavior of Sri Lankan Embassy representatives for Japan at a public event in Tokyo hurling abusive words at a prominent Sri Lankan Human Rights Defender.
5. INDIA: MIHIR SHARMA - TALES OF TWO RIOTS
Of all the many arguments in Indian politics that are stupid, hypocritical and wrong - and there are many - the one exculpating Modi because of 1984 is the most dangerous
6. (A)TOM AND KERRY SHOW: IT’S ALL MONEY, STUPID!
by People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy
The People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy (PMANE) organizes a black flag demonstration here at Idinthakarai on June 23, 2013 at 12:00 noon to oppose the visit of the American Secretary of State, Mr. John Kerry to India and to demand abrogation of the illegitimate India-US nuclear deal that was passed in the Indian Parliament by bribing MPs and carrying out gross behind-the-scene manipulations by corrupt and discredited politicians, bureaucrats and nuclear barons.
7. INDIA: MILITARY BUDGET 2013-14: GIANT WITH FEET OF CLAY
by Gautam Navlakha
An amazing amount of money is spent on the armed forces, which depend heavily on imports of everything from weapons systems to spares, even as they are increasingly deployed to deal with internal conflicts. This article points out that both the dependence on arms imports and the expansion of the forces to tackle domestic troubles not only push up costs but also jeopardise the country’s strategic manoeuvrability.
8. PAKISTAN RAISES ANNUAL DEFENCE BUDGET BY 10 PER CENT
9. RIP COMRADE SATYAPAL DANG - HOMAGE TO A GREAT MAN
by Purushottam Agrawal
(via Dilip Simeon's Blog)
Comrade Satyapal Dang stalwart of the communist movement in Punjab, passed away on June 15, 2013. Comrade Dang was one of the tallest figures of modern India. His courageous resistance to communal hatred, personal modesty and spotless honesty was an inspiration to lakhs of Indians, even those who remained outside his party. I shall add some memories to this post soon. Here is a tribute by Purushottam Agrawal, containing many shared experiences
10. INDIA: AB BARDHAN’S TRIBUTE TO SATPAL DANG
Ninety-three year old veteran Communist Party of India (CPI) leader Satpal Dang passed away in Amritsar after a prolonged illness last week. AB Bardhan, former General Secretary of the CPI reminisces about his friend and colleague of several decades
11. AUDIO: ACCENT OF WOMEN SPEAKS TO RUKMINI RAO OF THE GRAMYA RESOURCE CENTRE FOR WOMEN, IN INDIA, ABOUT SEX SELECTIVE ABORTION AND FEMICIDE
You’ve probably heard about the one child rule in China. What about the two child rule in India? You’re probably aware that these policies restricting are resulting in sex selective abortions. But what is the consequence of these policies?
12. VIDEO: GYANENDRA PANDEY: "MODERN PREJUDICE: ’VERNACULAR’ AND ’UNIVERSAL.’ "
Video of Professor Gyanendra Pandey speaking at the Brown India seminar 2013
13. VIDEO: ANANYA VAJPEYI ON "B.R AMBEDKAR: RESHAPING THE POLITICAL IMAGINATION IN MODERN INDIA"
Ananya Vajpeyi speaking on “B.R Ambedkar: Reshaping the Political Imagination in Modern India” at the Brown India seminar (April 5, 2013)
14. TURKEY’S URBAN CITIZENS RESISTING MORAL AND SPATIAL ORDERS
Turkey’s urban citizens are standing up against authoritarian governance, and for their right to the city, their right to difference, and their right to resist the top-down imposition of moral and spatial orders.
15. NAYA PAKISTAN, WHERE SALMAAN TASEER’S MURDERER IS A HERO
The Express Tribune - June 20, 2013
In PTI’s Naya Pakistan, heroes blow up police stations and villains put men like Qadri behind bars. PHOTO: AFP/FILE
It’s hard to know where to begin when a lawmaker in the National Assembly says a cold-blooded murderer should be released. Only expletives follow when you realise it was a Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) MNA and former governor of Punjab Salman Taseer’s murderer Malik Mumtaz Qadri is the killer in question. A man sentenced to death by a court of law.
These are the lawmakers we elected folks. Naya Pakistan has arrived. A country where we try to wash our hands off a war which is being fought on our soil, against our security forces by monsters we created with the money and complicity of the USA and Saudi Arabia.
In Naya Pakistan, a party comes into power, after nearly two decades of failing to gain any momentum, on the back of the supporters of MNA Mujahid Khan, a man who wants Qadri released.
It still surprises me, how Taseer was killed by Qadri who was one of Taseer’s bodyguards, while the rest of his security detail watched, guns in holsters. And then the silence was even more shocking, the silence of those in power then; those wanting to be in power and those planning to sail into power in the next elections on a wave of right-wingers.
Somehow that ugly silence was louder than the supporters of Qadri; the Facebook groups lauding him, the clerics rallying for him and the lawyers showering him with petals. That silence continued as the judge who sentenced Qadri left the country in fear. After all the radicalised crowd which shows up outside courtrooms to support a murder can only follow in his footsteps and do as they believe is just.
But the silence evaporated today, Naya Pakistan’s water just broke. Mujahid Ali Khan just gave birth to the ‘Naya Pakistan’ we should all have expected. And many of us were anticipating this horror show.
The lawmaker’s public stance is very much the voice of PTI, even if Dr Arif Alvi goes blue in the face saying otherwise. The MNA is in the National Assembly, representing PTI.
16. WHY INDIA TRAILS CHINA
by Amartya Sen
The New York Times, OP-ED
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — MODERN India is, in many ways, a success. Its claim to be the world’s largest democracy is not hollow. Its media is vibrant and free; Indians buy more newspapers every day than any other nation. Since independence in 1947, life expectancy at birth has more than doubled, to 66 years from 32, and per-capita income (adjusted for inflation) has grown fivefold. In recent decades, reforms pushed up the country’s once sluggish growth rate to around 8 percent per year, before it fell back a couple of percentage points over the last two years. For years, India’s economic growth rate ranked second among the world’s large economies, after China, which it has consistently trailed by at least one percentage point.
The hope that India might overtake China one day in economic growth now seems a distant one. But that comparison is not what should worry Indians most. The far greater gap between India and China is in the provision of essential public services — a failing that depresses living standards and is a persistent drag on growth.
Inequality is high in both countries, but China has done far more than India to raise life expectancy, expand general education and secure health care for its people. India has elite schools of varying degrees of excellence for the privileged, but among all Indians 7 or older, nearly one in every five males and one in every three females are illiterate. And most schools are of low quality; less than half the children can divide 20 by 5, even after four years of schooling.
India may be the world’s largest producer of generic medicine, but its health care system is an unregulated mess. The poor have to rely on low-quality — and sometimes exploitative — private medical care, because there isn’t enough decent public care. While China devotes 2.7 percent of its gross domestic product to government spending on health care, India allots 1.2 percent.
India’s underperformance can be traced to a failure to learn from the examples of so-called Asian economic development, in which rapid expansion of human capability is both a goal in itself and an integral element in achieving rapid growth. Japan pioneered that approach, starting after the Meiji Restoration in 1868, when it resolved to achieve a fully literate society within a few decades. As Kido Takayoshi, a leader of that reform, explained: “Our people are no different from the Americans or Europeans of today; it is all a matter of education or lack of education.” Through investments in education and health care, Japan simultaneously enhanced living standards and labor productivity — the government collaborating with the market.
Despite the catastrophe of Japan’s war years, the lessons of its development experience remained and were followed, in the postwar period, by South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore and other economies in East Asia. China, which during the Mao era made advances in land reform and basic education and health care, embarked on market reforms in the early 1980s; its huge success changed the shape of the world economy. India has paid inadequate attention to these lessons.
Is there a conundrum here that democratic India has done worse than China in educating its citizens and improving their health? Perhaps, but the puzzle need not be a brainteaser. Democratic participation, free expression and rule of law are largely realities in India, and still largely aspirations in China. India has not had a famine since independence, while China had the largest famine in recorded history, from 1958 to 1961, when Mao’s disastrous Great Leap Forward killed some 30 million people. Nevertheless, using democratic means to remedy endemic problems — chronic undernourishment, a disorganized medical system or dysfunctional school systems — demands sustained deliberation, political engagement, media coverage, popular pressure. In short, more democratic process, not less.
In China, decision making takes place at the top. The country’s leaders are skeptical, if not hostile, with regard to the value of multiparty democracy, but they have been strongly committed to eliminating hunger, illiteracy and medical neglect, and that is enormously to their credit.
There are inevitable fragilities in a nondemocratic system because mistakes are hard to correct. Dissent is dangerous. There is little recourse for victims of injustice. Edicts like the one-child policy can be very harsh. Still, China’s present leaders have used the basic approach of accelerating development by expanding human capability with great decisiveness and skill.
The case for combating debilitating inequality in India is not only a matter of social justice. Unlike India, China did not miss the huge lesson of Asian economic development, about the economic returns that come from bettering human lives, especially at the bottom of the socioeconomic pyramid. India’s growth and its earnings from exports have tended to depend narrowly on a few sectors, like information technology, pharmaceuticals and specialized auto parts, many of which rely on the role of highly trained personnel from the well-educated classes. For India to match China in its range of manufacturing capacity — its ability to produce gadgets of almost every kind, with increasing use of technology and better quality control — it needs a better-educated and healthier labor force at all levels of society. What it needs most is more knowledge and public discussion about the nature and the huge extent of inequality and its damaging consequences, including for economic growth.
Amartya Sen, a Nobel laureate, is a professor of economics and philosophy at Harvard. He is the author, with Jean Drèze, of “An Uncertain Glory: India and its Contradictions.”
A version of this op-ed appeared in print on June 20, 2013, on page A27 of the New York edition with the headline: Why India Trails China.
17. BOOK REVIEW: Perry Anderson, The Indian Ideology. Gurgaon: Three Essays Collective, 2012. 191 pp.
by Ravi Palat (SUNY BINGHAMTON)
-> Critical Asian Studies 45:2 (2013), 323–330
Indian Ideology—deliberately titled in allusion to Karl Marx’s writings on his own country—is Perry Anderson’s most sustained engagement with the recent history and politics of a country outside Euro–North America, and is the colla- tion of three long articles serialized in consecutive issues of the London Review of Books in summer 2012. None of his other excursions into the politics of the world outside Europe—on Lula’s Brazil, on Turkey, the revolutions in Russia and China, the Arab Revolts—come close to the scope and scale of this interven- tion. Though his book is marked by some minor errors typical of a neophyte,1 Anderson is typically sure-footed in his survey of India’s Freedom Struggle and its life as a young democracy. With his sharp and lucid prose, he strips away many of the liberal myths surrounding Mohandas Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, and Indian democracy itself. His incisive insights, his sweeping vision, his invocation of telling detail are all here in full measure.
Anderson’s objectives are characteristically audacious. As he told political analyst Praful Bidwai, his intention was to issue five challenges that run counter to conventional wisdom in India today: first, that the idea of a subcontinental unity stretching back six thousand years is a myth; second, that Gandhi’s injection of religion into the national movement was ultimately a disaster for it; third, that primary responsibility for Partition lay not with the Raj, but Congress; fourth, that Nehru’s legacy to Republic was far more ambiguous than his admirers will admit; and lastly, that Indian democracy is not contradicted by caste inequality, but rather enabled by it.”2
To set up the “conventional wisdom” against which he can launch his broad- side, Anderson cherry picks phrases from several recent authors—Meghnad Desai, Ramachandra Guha, Pratap Bhanu Mehta, Amartya Sen, and Sunil Khilnani—to show a consensus on the exceptionalism of Indian democracy. This is more invidious than a common debating ploy because by not analyzing what they said and giving them only cameo appearances, he does not locate his care- fully selected quotes in the context from which they were so rudely extracted. All of these authors are critical of Gandhi, Nehru, and of Indian democracy more generally. Military rule—even occupation—of Kashmir and the Northeast has been widely recognized and debated in India.
Anderson’s excoriation of leaders of the nationalist movement and others for positing the existence of India for millennia when it was only constituted as a
polity by British conquest is a strange charge because all nations are modern constructions though nation-builders in each nation tend to cast its origins as far back as possible. “The pre-national life of all nations is equally a matter of se- lective memory and constructed traditions,” Ananya Vajpeyi writes, “as it is of historical fact and collective agency.”3 More concretely, Congress could only plausibly claim to be the sole legitimate representative of a country fragmented by religious, linguistic, ethnic, regional, and caste identities by evoking the unity of India. Rather than comparing India to Europe—its equal in territory though not in population—nationalists compared it to Britain.4 By asserting that India was enveloped by an overarching cultural ideal and invoking con- cepts like varnashramadharma and Ram Rajya, Gandhi and others unwittingly strengthened the very fissiparous tendencies they had sought to harness. As Ayesha Jalal observes:
The alienation of a growing number of Muslims and the British perception of them as a separate communal category was capitalized upon by the All-India Muslim League, not as a first step towards the attainment of an Is- lamic state but as a political ploy to win the support of a constituency divided by class, region, and language in order to counter the Congress’s unchallenged ascent to power in an independent India.... Instead of rep- resenting two sharply divergent or mutually exclusive world views, secularism and communalism in the subcontinental context...reveal themselves as alternative strategies of political mobilization. As such they appear less as polar opposites than competing and interacting political forces.5
This quotation illustrates a more general point: rather than locating the actions of nationalist leaders in their historical context, Anderson extracts them from the conditions in which they operated and assesses them from abstract principles.
This is most evident in his assessment of democracy in India. With scant re- gard to the material conditions in the subcontinent—or indeed, outside Euro– North America—Anderson proceeds to deconstruct the “Trimurti” or Holy Trin- ity of “Indian Ideology”: democracy, secularity, and unity (104, 168–69, 173). He recognizes that Indian democracy is “remarkable”—by the magnitude of its electorate, the depth of illiteracy, the extent of poverty (104–5)—but argues that it is remarkable only because it does not conform to the historically contingent conditions attendant on the rise of democracy in Euro–North America that have been enshrined as the theoretical preconditions for it.6
As Khilnani has argued, democracy in India represented “the third great moment in the great democratic experiment launched at the end of the 18th century by the American and French Revolutions” because it was bestowed on the people by the elite without any grassroots demand.7 Indeed, in a society wracked by every imaginable form of social stratification—from caste, religion, and language to ethnicity, gender, and class—experiencing desperate levels of poverty and stunning inequities in income and wealth, with an absence of any generalized notion of equality, and abysmally low levels of literacy, it is hard to even conceive of a popular demand for democracy with universal adult suffrage in the 1940s.
This was the exceptionalism Khilnani underscored—and it reverberated across many countries also because unlike the “older democracies” in Europe and North America, state-building in the Global South was a category apart. States newly independent after the end of World War II had to accomplish from their very inception the steps toward nation-building that the “older democra- cies” had achieved sequentially over decades if not centuries—to preserve their territorial integrity and sovereignty in the context of the cold war, to grant uni- versal adult suffrage, and to promote economic development and welfare—in conditions of low literacy, extreme poverty, and pervasive interference by more powerful foreign states in their internal affairs.8
Instead, Anderson castigates Nehru and the Congress for foisting on the na- tion a constitution adopted by a Constituent Assembly elected under colonial electoral laws rather than on universal adult suffrage, for its “Anglophone pro- vincialism” in adopting, among other things, the “first past the post” principle, which gave Congress lopsided majorities in the federal and state legislatures, for restrictions on liberty, and for the absence of progressive legislation (espe- cially land reform and the neglect of primary education) (106–10).
Yet, he does not pause to consider whether given the magnitude of illiteracy —only 12 percent of the population was literate in 1947—universal adult suffrage would have led to a more progressive constitution. Would it have been less provincially Anglophone given linguistic difficulties in addition to low literacy rates? This is all the more true when large swathes of the country continue to be mired in the premodern rituals of power—as when a woman minister in Tamilnadu tattooed the likeness of the state’s chief minister, Jayalalithaa, on her forearm9—and as a consequence, political coalitions emerge that defy “description in terms of either modern or traditional alphabets of politics to bring to bear the pressure of numbers on their adversaries and intended victims.”10 Paradoxically, these politically innovative coalitions emerged as Indian democracy matured and social blocs that were strangers to etiquettes of westernized modernity entered the political sphere with increasing salience after the mid 1960s.
The peculiarity of the trajectory of Indian democracy has been that, while in the initial Nehruvian phase it resembled Euro–North American democracy, with
Flag map of British Raj (India). British colonialism both elevated caste as an organizing principle of Indian society with Brahmins at its head and also froze it in time by disconnecting caste from broader political, economic, and social forces. (Graphic credit: “DrRandomFactor, 23 September 2012. Wikimedia Commons)
parties appealing to social classes and legislative deliberations based on ideological differences, today the appeals are to castes, confessional affiliations, and to regional and linguistic groups. Class interests are being increasingly marginalized. This historical specificity of Indian democracy has led to the strange paradox that “democratic government functioned smoothly in the early years after 1947 precisely because it was not functioning in a democratic society. As a democratic society has slowly emerged, with the spread of a real sense of political equality, it has made the functioning of democratic government more difficult.”11
In part, appeals to collective identities such as castes, confessional affiliations, and regional and linguistic groups stemmed from colonial rule that accorded rights to communities rather than to individuals among natives as in the communal electorates for Hindus and Muslims established by the Minto- Morley Reforms of 1909—the first grant of limited suffrage in India. Rather than territorial constituencies “containing individuals with rights and changeable interests,” groups accorded political representation were reli- gious “‘communities’ with immutable interests and collective rights.”12
It was the sea-change in the sociopolitical ecology of the country—with the entry of social groups unfamiliar and even hostile to the etiquettes of political liberalism onto the political stage—that transformed almost all political parties into dynastic entities rather than a legacy of Nehru as Anderson would have it (135, 147, 159–60).13 Blithely dismissive of colonial practices of rule, Anderson attributes the preservation of “Hindu democracy” and of its failure to produce more egalitarian outcomes even though in India alone the poor vote in much larger numbers than the rich to the “impassable trenches of the caste system” —inimical to collective action and thereby contributing to political stability (109–12).
Here then is the invocation of an age-old tradition of a people without his- tory! Is it necessary in the early twenty-first century to remind scholars that “traditions” are invented? Long before the phrase “invention of tradition” was popularized by Eric Hobsbawm and Terence Ranger, Archie Mafeje had shown that “tribes” were political communities created by colonial authorities in Af- rica.14 In India, which was never unified as a polity before the British amalgamated many kingdoms, sultanates, and petty principalities, there was no overarching political, economic, social, or cultural framework. Just as India was a term used for inhabitants of the subcontinent by outsiders, so too was Hinduism to their religions—it is a “religion” without a central deity, text, or priesthood to codify its beliefs and practices. There were stratification systems but the hierarchical ranks and status of even similarly called groups varied widely. In the Tamil kingdom of Pudukkottai, Nicholas Dirks shows that Brah- mins ritually ranked below the royal Kallar—who were elsewhere an “untouchable” forest “tribe.”15
As everywhere else, social structures are constantly reshaped by political processes. Premodern identities were plural and determined by context—village, lineage, family, warrior subcaste, occupation, religious affiliation. In precolonial India,
[c]aste was just one category among many others, one way of organizing and representing identity. Moreover, caste was not a single category or even logic of categorization. Regional, village, or residential communities; kinship groups; factional parties; chiefly retinues; and so on could both supersede caste as a rubric for identity and reconstitute the ways caste was organized.16
It was colonialism that sought to remove politics from society and in doing so introduced new forms of civil society. British colonialism both elevated caste as an organizing principle of Indian society with Brahmins at its head and also froze it in time by disconnecting caste from broader political, economic, and social forces.
In fact, by instituting the census the colonial power mobilized caste and religion—the two terms that frame Anderson’s social analysis—as potent communal identities and sent them into battle. Before the census, while individuals had detailed knowledge of the demographic profile of their locality or village, since identities were fluid, these were rarely mobilized for long-term political action. Majorities and minorities were contextually determined in a world of transitions. Now the census, by categorizing people in inflexible religious and caste identities, made possible “a new kind of impersonal and abstract violence, as people began to ascribe to them an untraditional capacity to have intentions and to undertake action.”17
Anderson’s insistence on viewing Indian political movements through the lens of caste and religion rather than class leads to his caricature of Congress as a Hindu manifestation. In the elections of 1937 that led to the set-up of provincial governments, he notes that though the Congress swept the polls in the largest province—the United Provinces—it secured no Muslim seat (56). But the Muslim League won only 100 of the 482 seats in the seats reserved for the Muslims—in the Punjab, the League won only 2 of the 7 seats it contested and in Bengal a mere 38 out of 117. Provincial parties rather than national ones reaped the Muslim vote because class rather than religion was a determining factor—with Muslims casting their lot for agrarian reformist parties in Bengal rather than with the League.18 In Punjab, the Unionist party of Hindu, Muslim, and Sikh landlords dominated (58).19 Class mattered!
By 1946, however, there was a dramatic transformation as a result both of the propagation of the “two-nations” theory by the Muslim League and by increas- ing mobilizations on religious lines. Muhammad Ali Jinnah had adopted traditional Muslim attire and in contrast to Congress, which had campaigned for a strong central government, he promised greater provincial autonomy and won the favor of regional satraps. In the elections held then on the basis of the same narrow electorate, the Muslim League won 428 of the 482 seats in the Muslim electorate and all 30 of the reserved seats in the Central Legislature.20
From these optics, the blame for partition cannot be laid squarely on the shoulders of Congress as Anderson does. A secular Jinnah cynically deployed Is- lam to create a constituency of support and challenge Congress’s claim to be the sole legitimate representative of India. Nehru’s declaration that Congress was free to change or modify the Cabinet Mission plan, which sought to transfer power to an undivided but weak federal government, is taken by Ander- son—and before him, by Maulana Abdul Kalam Azad, the highest-ranking Muslim in Congress—to be the one factor that finally led to partition (62). Yet, in legal terms Nehru was right because “the sovereignty of a Constituent Assem- bly overrode any agreement. By convention, no Parliament can bind subsequent Parliaments who are free to change matters around.”21 This should have been blindingly obvious to all barristers—especially to Gandhi, Jinnah, and Nehru. Moreover, the real tragedy of partition was that in their haste to leave, the British made no attempt to foresee its consequences and to prevent the horrendous bloodbath that accompanied it.
By abjuring a sociopolitical analysis, by ignoring strategies of political mobilization before and after independence and partition, Anderson effectively resorts to a great-man theory of history. The various movements launched by Gandhi—the Non-Cooperation movement of 1920 (26–29, 33–35), the Civil Disobedience movement of 1930 (36), and the Quit India movement of 1942 (44)—were, in Anderson’s eyes, all colossal failures. All these failures were traced to Gandhi’s esoteric synthesis “of a cross between a Jain-inflected Hindu orthodoxy and late Victorian psychomancy, the world of Madame Blavatsky, Theosophy, planchette, and the Esoteric Christian Union” (19). This derivation is based on Kathryn Tidrick’s Gandhi: A Political and Spiritual Life, which ar- gues that Gandhi’s worldview was formed in London in his youth and was largely left unchanged for the next several decades even in spite of the great movements and changes he was immersed in—a scarcely plausible claim.22 More, Tidrick makes no attempt to link Gandhi’s beliefs to mobilizational strate- gies deployed by the nationalist movement. Given these abysmal failures to challenge British colonial rule, for Anderson the root source of Indian inde- pendence was the “hammer-blow from outside” delivered by the Japanese Army in World War II (47). Finally, if mass mobilization in India was so ineffective, how was it that the colonial government in Delhi used it as evidence to argue with London that the surest way to retain the brightest “jewel” in the British crown was to promote limited economic development—a process that by the 1930s had produced the most class-conscious bourgeoisie in the colonial world?23
Anderson’s single-minded intent to strip away the myths cloaking the “triune values of democracy, secularity, and unity” (168) leads him to hold a hand over British colonial rule. For him, the unity of India is due “to the luck of the cultural draw”—that no linguistic group enjoyed “any particular preponderance,” though Hindi-speakers had just the right demographic “weight to act as a bal- last.” Bizarrely, he even attributes the unity of the country to the partition that the departing British inflicted on it: “that the contours of a mobile federalism could develop so constructively is owed to the good sense of those who redrew the map of India, originally against the wishes of Congress” (114). His refer- ences to the sexual liaisons of Nehru (49, 65) and his daughter, Indira Gandhi (132), evoke memories of early twentieth-century anthropological voyeurism of the sexual practices of “natives” (interestingly Anderson never refers to the dalliances of politicians in his extensive writings on Europe—he shields them from his prurient gaze) and are merely a minor annoyance: but again illustrate his biases.
No balanced assessment of the early years of Indian independence can ig- nore the role Nehru played on the world stage—his championing of Afro-Asian and Caribbean independence movements, his role in the creation of the Non-Aligned Movement. Nor can it eschew a discussion of economic development, of the price that was paid by leaving land reforms to state governments that were dominated by rural notables, of the debate on industrialization be- tween Gandhi and Mokshagundam Vishwesharayya. And yet we are offered none.
In sum, Anderson’s analysis is fatally crippled by his wholesale adoption of Eurocentric prejudices, his assumption that Westernized notions of modernity and representative democracy can be installed ex nihilo by fiat, his refusal to sit- uate the actions of his key players—Gandhi and Nehru—within the structural conditions in which they operated, his resuscitation of a “great man” theory of history, and his gloss over any analysis of class. Flawed though it is, by posing issues so sharply in Indian Ideology, Anderson underscores the limits of con- verting the historical conditions attendant on the institutionalizing of democracy in Euro–North America into theoretical preconditions for it and thereby performs the valuable task of opening up a debate on the provin- cializing Western theory.
1. The first elections based on universal adult franchise in India were held in 1952, not 1951 (108); Chakravarti Rajagopalachari was not India’s president, but the country's second gover- nor-general (131).
2. Anderson 2012.
3. Vajpeyi 2012.
4. Desai 2009, 10.
5. Jalal 2002, 27.
6. Kaviraj 2011, 2.
7. Khilnani 1999, 34.
8. Kaviraj 1994, 120–22.
9. The Hindu. 1992.
10. Kaviraj 1994, 125.
11. Kaviraj 2011, 150.
12. Khilnani 1999, 24–25; see also Mamdani 2001.
13. Palat 2012, 150.
14. Mafeje 1971.
15. Dirks 1987.
16. Dirks 1992, 60.
17. Kaviraj 1994, 117–18.
18. Desai 2009, 205–7.
19. Guha 2008, 11.
20. Desai 2009, 246.
21. Ibid., 256.
22. Tidrick 2006. Tellingly, Tidrick figures in Anderson’s “Index of Names” rather than in the “Index of Authorities.”
23. Tomlinson 1993.
Anderson, Perry 2012. Respect Gandhi if you will, don’t sentimentalise him. Outlook India. www.outlookindia.com/printarticle.aspx?282832 (accessed 3 November 2012).
Desai, Meghnad. 2009. The rediscovery of India. Harmondsworth: Penguin.
Dirks, Nicholas B. 1987. The hollow crown: Ethnohistory of an Indian kingdom. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
———. 1992. Castes of mind. Representations 37 (winter): 56–78.
Guha, Ramachandra. 2008. India after Gandhi: The history of the world's largest democracy. London: Pan Macmillan.
The Hindu. 1992. She leaves an indelible image on her followers, 21 March.
Jalal, Ayesha. 2002. Democracy and authoritarianism in South Asia: A comparative and historical
perspective. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Kaviraj, Sudipta. 1994. Crisis of the nation-state in India. Political Studies 42 (Special Issue):
———. 2011. The enchantment of democracy and India. Ranikhet: Permanent Black.
Khilnani, Sunil. 1999. The idea of India. New Delhi: Penguin.
Mafeje, Archie. 1971. The ideology of tribalism. Journal of Modern African Studies 9 (2): 253–61. Mamdani, Mahmood. 2001. Beyond settler and native as political identities: Overcoming the politi-
cal legacy of colonialism. Comparative Studies in Society and History 43 (4): 651–64.
Palat, Ravi Arvind. 2012. Much ado about nothing? World-historical implications of the re-emer-
gence of China and India. International Critical Thought 2 (2): 139–55.
Tidrick, Kathryn. 2006. Gandhi: A political and spiritual life. London: I.B. Tauris.
Tomlinson, B.R. 1993. The economy of modern India, 1860–1970. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Vajpeyi, Ananya. 2012. Retrieving a history: Why the idea of India cannot be trivially dismissed. Caravan: A Journal of Politics and Culture. www.caravanmagazine.in/print/1877 (accessed 9 January 2013).
18. IN ANKARA
(London Review of Books, 19 June 2013)
How it changes. When I was in Istanbul last April the mood was sombre. Even the most ebullient of friends were downcast. The latent hostility to the regime was always present, but the AKP’s hegemony, I was told many times, went deep. Erdoğan was a reptile, cynical but clever and not averse to quoting the odd verse from Nâzım Hikmet, the much-loved communist poet imprisoned by Atatürk. The poet had escaped in a boat and been rescued by a Soviet tanker. ‘Can you prove you’re Hikmet,’ the captain asked him. He laughed and pointed to a poster in the captain’s cabin which had his photograph on it. He died in Moscow in 1963. His remains are still in exile.
Talk now was of food (the exquisite wafer-thin pizzas from the Syrian border) or the delights of children produced in middle age. Complaints were varied. An old cinema on İstiklal was about to be dynamited. It would be replaced by yet more characterless shops that have already disfigured this historic street with its arcades and Belle Epoque apartments (where, once upon a time, many wealthy Armenian merchant families lived). There had been a few mild demonstrations against the execution of the movie house, but symbolic in character. The newspapers were talking of the regime’s latest PR triumph: sixty ‘wise men’ who would be consulted from time to time. There were photographs of their first assembly in the Dolmabahçe Palace, a suitably kitsch setting for a kitsch gathering. An old acquaintance, Murat Belge, was among their number.
Encouraged by the indifference, Erdoğan proceeded with other plans: A shopping mall in Gezi Park, a new bridge over the Bosphorus and a new grand mosque to steal the landscape from Sinân’s delicate creations. The citizens of Istanbul were never asked for their views. It was this lack of any consultation that angered the citizens and triggered the occupation of the tiny green space in the heart of the city. As we all now know, the spirit of conciliation is not the Turkish prime minister’s strong point. Nor is generosity of heart or mind. He loathes secular intellectuals, refers to the founders of the republic as drunkards or alcoholics (as if those were their defining characteristics rather than outwitting Lord Curzon and the British Empire to create a republic) and talks constantly of the danger from left-wing ‘terrorists’. When angry, which is often, Erdoğan takes on the character of a village bully, sometimes embarrassing his colleagues.
Socially conservative, politically unscrupulous, economically beholden to the building industry and militarily/politically Nato’s favourite Islamists, the party in power ignored the voices on the street. They were meant to be the model for other Muslim countries. Erdoğan’s arrogance in using violence – baton charges, water cannon and tear gas, against mainly young people – has wrecked the model. Hence the note of exasperation from the White House, and the familiar request that ‘both sides should show restraint.’
The police assault on unarmed and peaceful occupiers backfired badly. Within 48 hours every city, bar four, had experienced solidarity demonstrations and occupations of public places. The tiny protest had grown into a national uprising against the sultan of the building trades, large and small. When I arrived in Ankara on the evening of 15 June, the tell-tale signs were visible. Water-tanks and scorpions (police command cars) were stationed on the main streets, ready to go into action.
It’s the first time I’ve experienced protests that begin at night. People come home from work, change, eat, discard their ties and get ready. Water bottles and handkerchief, soaked to protect against tear gas. At 10 or 11 p.m. they come out, usually in small groups, crossing streets like shadows till they reach Kuğulu Park and smile as thousands are already there, chanting slogans, singing songs, taunting Erdoğan. The police attack. Barricades hurriedly go up using advertising boards, the odd car and anything to hand. Water cannon try to disperse them. They fail. Then the tear gas (imported from Brazil). It keeps coming. The demonstrators disperse, assemble again and so it goes on till 3 a.m. or later. Action will be resumed the following night.
While this is happening on the streets, in apartment windows the mothers and grandmothers of the demonstrators bang pots and pans in solidarity – and as a warning to Erdoğan, for this is a very old Turkish protest pioneered by Janissary corps to warn the Ottoman sultan that enough was enough. In Istanbul, when Erdoğan asked parents to take their kids home, thousands of mothers joined the occupation, bringing pots, spoons and pans with them.
Erdoğan denounced the protestors as çapulcu: ‘looters’. As in Paris in May 1968, the young Turks chanted: ‘We are all çapulcu.’ When I visited Kuğulu Park there was a slogan on the wall: ‘Welcome to the çapulcu fest.’ Passionate arguments were taking place, free libraries in every corner, free food brought by parents, and hope written on young faces. Steve Bell’s cartoon of Erdoğan as a water tank dousing the people is on all their phones. I asked a young woman about the word. She laughed: ‘Yes. Our response was immediate. The semiotics of this uprising are certainly very interesting. But more importantly, what next? Our demobilisation would be a big tragedy.’ A young man interrupted: ‘We can’t hold on to the squares for ever. We need something more.’
How the new opposition regroups is difficult to say, but if a new democratically structured political movement is formed (like, for instance, Syriza in Greece) it could give a permanent voice to the people from below. A monthly public assembly in Istanbul, Ankara, Izmir, Bodrum, Antakya and other cities to discuss the situation at home and abroad and report on the building of a new movement would create something permanent and make the clearing and reclearing of the squares a bit meaningless. This is my hope. Some agreed, but a young student piped up: ‘I’m a neoliberal capitalist and I’m here.’ Others laughed. I asked him why he was there.
‘Because of the police violence.’
‘But the police violence is being used to defend neoliberal values.’
‘No. Neoliberalism promotes liberal values.’
‘In the United States.’
I said what had to be said.
A woman doctor told me she had to leave for a doctor’s assembly. The government is demanding that doctors who have been treating thousands of wounded demonstrators must hand over their names. The assembly is unanimous. No.
Turkey has suddenly changed. The new generation is on the parapets. To demonstrate that he still has mass support, Erdogan had to ship and bus his supporters from all over the country. Few were impressed. The battle lines for the next elections have been laid. The builder’s friend can’t be the prime minister again. He was hoping to amend the constitution and make it presidential or failing that, to become president à la Putin. It will be more difficult now. He should read Aziz Nesin’s popular short story, ‘The New Prime Minister’, in which the sultan, tiring of a politician who is getting all his ideas from a mule, appoints the animal in his stead.
- See more at: http://www.lrb.co.uk/blog/2013/06/19/tariq-ali/in-ankara/#sthash.rzURtaIu.dpuf
19. MASS WORLD CUP PROTESTS ROCK BRAZIL
(The Nation, June 18, 2013)
I traveled to Brazil last September to investigate preparations for the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympics. It was painfully evident that the social disruption of hosting two mega-events in rapid succession would be profound. Everyone with whom I spoke in the community of social movements agreed that these sports extravaganzas were going to leave major collateral damage. Everyone agreed that the spending priorities for stadiums, security and all attendant infrastructure were monstrous given the health and education needs of the Brazilian people. Everyone agreed that the deficits incurred would be balanced on the backs of workers and the poor. What people disagreed upon was whether anybody would do anything about it.
Most argued that the country had become too apathetic. After six years of economic growth, which followed thirty years of stagnation, people were too content to protest. The ruling Worker’s Party was generally popular and as soon as the countdown to the World Cup actually began, all anger would be washed away in a sea of green, yellow and blue flags bearing the country’s slogan, “Order and progress.” Others argued that statistics showing rising wealth and general quiescence actually masked a much deeper discontent. As Professor Marcos Alvido said to me, “Statistics are like a mankini [a Brazilian speedo that men wear]. They show so much but they hide the most important part.” That “most important part” was the analysis that Brazil was simmering and the lid could stay on the pot for only so long.
The pot has officially boiled over as hundreds of thousands of people marched in at least ten cities this week. The financial capital of São Paolo was brought to a standstill. The political capital, Brasilia, saw protesters climb onto the roof of the National Congress building. In Rio, several thousand marched on legendary Maracana Stadium, the epicenter of the 2016 Summer Olympics, at the start of the Confederations Cup. As fans cheered inside, there were gassings and beatings on the outside. While sports journalists recorded the action on the field, reporters in the streets were shot with rubber bullets, and are now alleging that they were targeted. This protest eruption has been referred to as the “salad uprising” after a journalist was arrested for having vinegar in his backpack (vinegar is a way to ward off the worst effects of tear gas.) Now vinegar is carried openly and in solidarity. It’s also, given the expansive use of tear gas, quite useful.
There are numerous factors driving people into the streets, but the back-breaking piece of straw that crystallized all discontent was a twenty-cent fare hike for public transportation. The country is investing billions in tourist-centric infrastructure and paying for it by bleeding out workers on their daily commute. It was too much.
As Chris Gaffney, who runs the Geostadia blog and is a visiting professor of architecture and urbanism at Rio´s Federal Fluminense University said to me, “Big shit happening downtown Rio tonight, with cars set on fire around the state legislature and attempted invasions of the building that were repelled from inside. News of police using live ammunition as well. It is of course linked to the spending for the mega-events, but also reflects a larger dissatisfaction with the state of the country. The government is corrupt, the police incompetent, the roads and services and schools and healthcare atrocious… and this [is the state of services] for the middle class!… People are realizing that the 50 billion spent on the mega events is going into the pockets of FIFA the IOC and the corrupt construction firms, etc. This latest little insult, hiking the fares by twenty cents, was just enough to get people out on the streets during the Copa. This is truly historical and inspiring. I didn`t think the Brazilians had it in them, and I don’t think they did either. But they do and it`s massive.”
The Movimento Passe Livre (Free Fare Movement), after protesting fare hikes for a decade, and winning concessions with little publicity, all of a sudden found itself with a mass audience. But moving comfortably among its throngs are signs and slogans in protest of the mega-events. The international media are reporting that demonstrators are holding up posters that read, “We don’t need the World Cup” and “We need money for hospitals and education”. People have gathered outside a luxury hotel in Fortaleza where the Brazilian national soccer team is staying with signs that read, “FIFA give us our money back” and “We want health and education. World Cup out!” A protester in Sao Paolo named Camila, has been quoted in the international press as saying, “We shouldn’t be spending public money on stadiums. We don’t want the Cup. We want education, hospitals, a better life for our children.”
The right wing in Brazil, as Yuseph Katiya who lives in the conservative city of Curitiba, points out, is also present in the streets. One of the loosely organized groups in the steets is a formation called “Acorda Brasil” (Wake up Brazil). As Katiya wrote on his extremely informative Facebook wall, “This is a mixed-bag and difficult to describe, and I think is potentially dangerous. These are middle-class people that share some of the concerns of the World Cup/Olympic protesters and the Free Fare Movement people, but their beef is mainly with government corruption. Suddenly, the right-wing press here is supporting the protests but they are more likely to blame politician salaries on the country’s problems. I don’t think they care about rising transportation costs, let alone how it might impact low-income Brazilians.”
Nevertheless, the protests are gaining energy and are finding voice among the Brazilian diaspora throughout the world. Over 300 people marched in New York City on Monday with signs that read, “Olympics: $33 billion. World Cup: $26 billion. Minimum Wage: $674 [about $320 a month in US dollars]. Do you still think it’s about 20 cents?” There have also been reported protests in France, Ireland, and Canada. This isn’t a movement against sports. It’s against the use of sports as a neoliberal Trojan horse. It’s a movement against sports as a cudgel of austerity. It’s a movement that demands our support. Until there is justice, we are all salad revolutionaries.
Dave Zirin writes about the unprecendented corruption that is fueling development for Putin’s Winter Olympics.
20. YES WE SCAN! PRIVACY ACTIVISTS PROTEST AGAINST PRISM AND NSA
Surveillance As President Obama Arrives in Berlin (18.06.2013)
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