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SACW | 2 April 01

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  • Harsh Kapoor
    South Asia Citizens Wire 2nd April 2001 ... #1. Pakistan: Resolving the water crisis #2. Pakistan: Sindh s Struggle against manipulated water shortages #3.
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 1, 2001
      South Asia Citizens Wire
      2nd April 2001


      #1. Pakistan: Resolving the water crisis
      #2. Pakistan: Sindh's Struggle against manipulated water shortages
      #3. Latest issue of India Pakistan Arms Race and Militarisation Watch #37
      #4. Internet Vote-Survey (for Nepali only)
      #5. Book Announcement "The Hybrid Island: Rethinking Identity & Hybridity
      of Sri Lanka"
      #6. India: Dead Man Talking [A comment on the Tehelka expose and after]
      #7. Letter to the Editor: Regarding introduction of Astrology courses in
      India's Universities
      #8. India: 6 months imprisonment for activist & 4 journalists who spoke up
      on Trade Unionist's Murder Case
      #9. India: 2 upcoming meetings in New Delhi on Economic Democracy



      1st April 2001

      Resolving the water crisis

      By Kaiser Bengali and Haris Gazdar

      The water shortage is the most serious crisis facing the country today. On
      test, however, is not merely the ability to manage the distribution of water
      between the provinces, but also the ability of the federal system to resolve
      conflicting claims over an increasingly scarce resource. In this respect, the
      attempt to impose a military solution marks a new low in federal political

      Reports that the Army Corps of Engineers has been asked to prepare the
      inter-provincial water distribution formula should send shock waves across
      the country. It amounts to setting aside the IRSA decision arrived at only
      days ago by the majority of that body representing all the provinces.

      That there is a genuine water shortage is not disputable. That there is an
      urgent need to adopt short-term and long-term measures for water
      conservation cannot also be disputed. And that altering cropping patterns, by
      phasing out relatively more water-intensive crops, is one of the medium to
      long term measures is unquestionable; unless the value addition from that
      crop exceeds the total cost of production valued at scarcity prices of all
      inputs, including water.

      Rice and sugarcane are among the water-intensive crops. If after careful
      economic analyses, it is concluded that the production of any one crop is to
      be discontinued, the decision has to be applied for the crop to be sown
      anywhere in the country. That Sindh has been arbitrarily singled out in this
      respect through an executive fiat amounts to a slap in the face of the
      Federation of Pakistan.

      Water distribution in a technical sense may be an engineering task, but water
      allocation is a political task pure and simple. Assigning the water
      task to the Army Corps of Engineers amounts to proclaiming that the military
      possesses solutions to every problem under the sun. However, a perusal of
      the history of water management in Pakistan actually exposes the military's
      responsibility in aggravating the water crisis. The country that is Pakistan is
      almost synonymous with the Indus basin. The Indus river system is its

      Yet, it was the military regime of General Ayub Khan, which surrendered to
      Indian blackmail and World Bank and US pressures to sign away every drop
      of three of the five tributaries of the Indus to India. According to historical
      usage, as designated by international law, India was entitled to 8 per cent of
      the water of the Indus river system. Instead, the Indus Basin Treaty of 1960
      allocated 20 per cent to it.

      An understanding of the water issues perhaps requires an explanation of the
      context of the water accords. When a river flows through two or more states
      or provinces, these are categorized as riparian entities. Entities upstream are
      called the upper riparian and entities downstream the lower riparian. The
      entire basis of the international legal debate on inter-riparian water
      sharing is
      that the claims of the lower riparian need to be protected against those of the
      upper riparian. This is so because the lower riparian is vulnerable to the
      diversion of the river on the part of the upper riparian.

      Up to the partition of British India in 1947, united Punjab constituted the
      upper riparian and Sindh the lower riparian. On partition, Indian Punjab
      emerged as the upper riparian and Pakistani Punjab as the lower riparian
      with respect to the three eastern tributaries of the Indus - Beas, Ravi and
      Sutlej. Within Pakistan, Punjab constitutes the upper riparian and Sindh the
      lower riparian.

      The Indus Basin Treaty was hailed then as a model of dispute resolution
      between two riparian states. The fact is otherwise. Without an agreement,
      India could have appropriated the waters of the three rivers and had actually
      begun to do so. This was a violation of international law and Pakistan had a
      strong case. However, by signing the Indus Basin Treaty, the then military
      regime conferred legitimacy on an act of international plunder; at an
      extremely high economic cost to the people of Pakistan.

      It is important to ask as to how a country with a strong case in terms of
      international law could have ended up with a weak bargaining position. The
      answer lies in the context of domestic politics. A democratic government,
      accountable to the people as a whole is better able to withstand international
      pressures. General Ayub Khan's military regime faced a crisis of legitimacy
      and was susceptible to pressures from foreign governments and international
      creditors. However, Pakistan's negotiating position was faced with another
      more serious practical handicap.

      Prior to independence united Punjab and Sindh had arrived at a water
      sharing accord in 1945. Had Pakistan adhered to that accord for the sharing
      of the Indus river system, the following argument could have been made.
      Given that it was Punjab which had been partitioned, the real issue was to
      apportion the respective shares of the two Punjabs, with the share of Sindh
      being non-negotiable. Thus, Pakistan could have managed to obtain more
      water than it did. Unfortunately, however, by the time the negotiations
      began in earnest, Sindh had been merged into West Pakistan under the One
      Unit scheme and the entire West Pakistan was treated as a single riparian
      unit. India took full advantage of the new situation.

      Today, Pakistan has no choice but to live with the consequences of the
      international agreement of 1960, which signed away vital national economic
      interests. Unfortunately, Pakistan is again under military rule, with the
      country reverting more or less to a unitary rather than a federal pattern of
      governance. Sindh's interests went by default during the negotiations
      leading to the 1960 treaty with India; its interests are being treated
      perfunctorily again. The Army Corps of Engineers' coming into the picture
      means sidetracking the 1991 Water Accord, arrived at by an agreement of all
      the provinces; their respective reservations notwithstanding. It also amounts
      to rendering IRSA redundant, with implications for inter-provincial

      It is far better that a dispute is seen and treated as a disagreement of
      one party
      with the ruling of the federal institution, rather than as a head-on clash
      between two federating units. As long as the water allocation dispute
      remained within the agreed limits of IRSA, it was technically a matter
      between IRSA and Punjab or between IRSA and Sindh. There are no
      disputes between the people of Punjab and Sindh that cannot be resolved
      within a consensual framework - with some measure of give-and-take on
      both sides.

      However, the absence of representative government with its potential role
      for conciliation complicates matters as in the present case. The arbitrary
      removal of a consensual framework for water sharing is likely to create
      misgivings and bitterness straining inter-provincial relations on the one hand
      and between the centre and the provinces on the other.

      Disputes, disagreements and rivalries between different constituents of the
      state and different sections of its population are a normal part of public
      The key question is whether or not such disputes and differences can be
      managed within an agreed institutional framework. If not, then parties to the
      dispute will take their disagreements outside the existing framework. Federal
      democratic institutions provide an important framework for the resolution of
      issues such as a riparian conflict. It is a framework that enjoys a high level
      of legitimacy and consensus among the people of different parts of Pakistan.

      Military regimes have been proven to be singularly incapable of mediating
      political disputes. This proved true in arriving at power-sharing arrangement
      in 1971 and is true with respect to water distribution formulas. These are the
      domains of political governments. After all, it was the political government
      of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto which mediated a consensus Constitution from the
      ashes left behind by General Yahya Khan. And it was the political
      government of Nawaz Sharif which mediated a water distribution accord
      between the provinces in 1991. It is in the nature of a military dispensation
      that a solution is handed down by executive fiat, leaving dissatisfaction all
      around. It is in the nature of a political arrangement that a process of
      accommodation ensures an agreement that is largely acceptable to all the
      contending parties.

      The shortage of water is afflicting all the provinces of Pakistan. How the
      crisis is managed will determine whether it unites the provinces in dealing
      with the natural adversity or divides them on the crucial issue of sharing of
      the vital resources. A democratic representative government is an urgent
      need of the hour to enable the people of Pakistan to unite to deal with the
      crisis of livelihoods in a spirit of give and take.



      [All SACW readers who are concerned & interested by the recent social
      ferment in the province of Sindh in Pakistan can recieve a small
      compilation of articles (including the paper "Genesis of separatist
      sentiment in Sindh" - Published in 23 March Pakistan Day special issue of
      the Daily DAWN) & press releases on developments in Sindh from 23 march
      onwards. Please send an e-mail to <aiindex@...> and the 61k size
      compliation would be forwarded to you]


      Date: Sun, 01 Apr 2001 10:49:17 +0100
      From: Talpur
      Subject: Sindh's Struggle against manipulated water shortages

      [Rasool Bux Palijo, Dr. Mehri and other leaders were earlier released on
      bail by a Judge in Hyderabad and returned to rejoin the long march.
      Senator Paul Wellstone of Minnesota was kind enough to write to the
      American Embassy asking them to protest the arrest of Dr. Mehri. Two
      years ago, Dr. Mehri was honored in Washington for his peaceful
      struggle for human rights.]

      From: Fayaz Aziz <rbathyd@...>
      Subject: Urgent: Several Injured, Palijo arrested, Long March Attacked
      Date: 31 Mar 2001 17:23:00 PKT

      Thatta. More than 70 workers and leaders of Awami Tahreek and
      Sindhiani Tahreek including Rasool Bux Palijo, Jijee Zareena Baloch,
      Dr. Nazir Shaikh, Hakim Halepoto, Piral Bhano, Kulsoom Halepoto, Ali
      Muhammad Sodho and others were baton-charged, injured and violently
      arrested by Thatta and Karachi police today (31st March 2001) in a bid
      to foil the Historical Protest Long March against the shortage of
      water in Sindh.

      Thousands of Policemen and Rangers leaded by SSPs of Police, Majors
      and several DSPs rounded up the marchers on the 12th day of the long
      march near Sugar Mill bridge Thatta and instead of arresting them
      peacefully started tear-gas shells and baton charging and severely
      injured Dada Qadir Ranto, Azmat Halepoto, Kulsoom Halepoto, Sajida
      Bahno and others. Police also tried to attack 71 year old Party leader
      Rasul Bux Palijo but thousands of protesters encircled and protected
      him from brutal aggression of police and rangers. All these leaders
      and workers are presently confined in Thatta and Makli Police Stations
      and heart patient Palijo is kept in an isolated lockup where no one is
      allowed to meet him.

      The march was to be started at 10.00 am but due to the sealing of
      bypass road by erecting barriers, the venue was changed and march was
      started from the bridge at 11-30 am. Suddenly dozens of police flocks
      and troops of rangers started baton-charge and started beating the
      peaceful marchers at four different places: Bypass road, Thatta
      Bridge, Bus stand and Makli. Journalists were also beaten and pushed
      back. Awami Tahreek yesterday announced that Mr. Rasul Bux Palijo,
      Jijee Zareena Baloch and other would participate in the long march and
      since the early morning Police and law enforcing agencies established
      hundreds if pickets and blockeds in the town but to the surprise of
      District Administration somehow AT leadership who has the experience
      of Organized struggle during Anti One Unit Movemet, MRD Movement and
      two previous long marchs (1991, 1995) managed to start their
      overwhelming journey from Thatta-Sujawal road.

      The heavy police force patrolling in trucks asked them to disperse,
      but the peaceful crowd refused and continued chanting slogans against
      the government and water shortage on which police first baton-charged
      the activists and then fired tear-gas shells to disperse them. The
      angry crowd retaliated with slogans and sit-ins. Policemen fired a
      number of teargas shells and also baton-charged the crowd, trying to
      disperse them. Heart Patient Palijo (who was released from prison on
      27th March and had gone under an Angio-Plasty few months ago) had
      turned down the advice of his party leaders to get some rest yesterday
      and was heroically leading the protest march against the acute water
      shortage and anti Sindh district govt plan today. Sindhiani Tahreek
      (Sindhi Women's Movement) has immediately organized a Sit-In before
      the Thatta Police Station and at the moment hundreds of rural Sindhi
      women are protesting in front of Thanna where several marchers and
      injured women are still imprisoned.

      The Central Committee of Awami Tahreek has termed the police
      act of baton-charge, tear-gassing and arrests as barbarism and
      violation of human rights, as people of Sindh province had
      every right to protest over "anti-Sindh plans and
      conspiracies." It has said such tyrannies could not compel the
      people of Sindh to give up their protest campaign because
      water is a matter of life and death for them. Awami Tahreek,
      Sindhiani Tahreek and Sindh Democratic Party have called upon
      all the patriotic forces, Overseas Organizations,
      International Conscience, Human Rights Organizations,
      Political Parties, Common Wealth Leaders, UN bodies,
      International Media and Oppressed people of Sindh, and
      Pakistan to protest against the brutal and savage action of
      Pakistani govt and violence used against women and elderly
      politicians including Mr. Rasul Bux Palijo.

      For the last several weeks Discharge in Indus has been stopped by the
      Federal Government and there is no water for irrigation in Sindh
      (Province of Pakistan) and agriculture, biodiversity, aquatic life,
      mangrove and other forests, Indus Dolphins, fishermen, lower Indus
      ecology and livelihood of millions of downtrodden people have been
      destroyed due to the water-stealing by the ruling Punjab Province of
      Pakistan. This is an unprecedented situation in the history of the
      Indus river where for centuries the river was used as a natural source
      for economic, social and agriculture needs. This protest Long March
      started its journey from Bhit Shah a town of Sindh on 20th March and
      was heading towards Karachi a metropolitan of Pakistan.

      Sindhi Intellectuals, Writers, HR groups and Women activists have
      appealed all the civil society and human rights activists to forward
      this mail to different lists, human rights groups, governments and UN
      bodies for early protest and action. Pl mail your protest letter to
      the following:

      CE@..., irn-wcd@..., nab@..., nrb@...,
      kawish12@..., ibrat@..., amnestyis@...,
      editor@... , sindhu@..., koshish@...,
      editor@..., cnn@..., newsroom@...,
      tsindh@..., editor@..., info@...,
      nation@..., letters@..., jasarat3@...,
      sindh@..., Jang@..., nni@...,
      kainnat@..., daily-sindhu@..., koshish1@...,
      aazdubai@..., cenpub@..., saja@...



      Latest issue of
      (31 March 2001)
      is available along with the complete IPARMW archive at:



      From: milan karki <milan_karki@...>
      Subject: Internet Vote-Survey (for Nepali Nationals only)

      Human Rights and Peace Campaign (HURPEC) Nepal
      Central Office, GPO Box- 21405, Gairidhara, Kathmandu, Nepal.
      Phone: 415586/434175
      E-mail: hurpec@...
      URLs: http://www.hurpec.org

      Internet Vote Survey

      On the context of 12th People's Movements Day (8 April, 2001), Human Rights
      and Peace Campaign (HURPEC) Nepal has started 'Internet Vote Survey' on the
      topic: CPN (Maoist) movement and the situation of human rights, peace and
      security'. The Internet Users and interested persons (Nepali Nationals only)
      can fill the Survey Form on our site: http://www.hurpec.org/vote-survey and
      it will be stored at our office by e-mail. There are 10 questions asked on
      the Form. The survey will be open until 8 April, 2001 A.D. and the Result
      will be publicized at evening of 8 April. All are required to give their
      votes on this Survey.

      Please, give your vote(only Nepali Nationals: http://www.hurpec.org/vote-survey

      30 March, 2001.

      Ms. Anju Bista
      General Secretary
      HURPEC Nepal



      Available soon:

      The Hybrid Island:
      Rethinking the Identity and Hybridity of Sri Lanka

      Edited by Neluka Silva

      Articles by: Gananath Obeyesekere, Arjun Gunaratne, Darini
      Senanayake-Rajasingham, Nira Wickramasinghe, Yolanda Foster, Neluka Silva,
      Anne Sheeran, Vikram Singh

      Suriya Bookshop
      425/15 Thimbirigasyaya Road, Colombo 5, Sri Lanka
      Fax: 595 563
      Webiste: www.skyberlink.com/ssa



      Date: Sun, 1 Apr 2001 18:45:14 +0530


      * Can the Voice of Dissent Be Silenced through such Means?
      * Can people's faith in judicial system be restored through such punishments?

      Raipur, Chhattisgarh March 21,2001

      In an unprecedented move, the Madhya Pradesh High Court punished with six
      months simple imprisonment a well known social activist, Adv. Rajendra K.
      Sail, and four journalists of an English Daily, The Hitvada, published
      from Nagpur holding them responsible for the Contempt of Court.
      Pronouncing the judgement in the open court on 19th March, Justices C K
      Prasad and Ms. Usha Shukla said that " Their conduct is so reprehensible
      that it would be a travesty of justice if the Courts were to allow gross
      contempt of Court to go unpunished without adequate sentence. Hence,
      having given our most anxious consideration, we are of the opinion that
      each of the contemnors deserves deterrent punishment for the maximum term
      of six months".

      This Contempt petition was filed by the Madhya Pradesh Bar Association on
      a news article published on 4th July in The Hitvada Daily with the title :

      It may be recalled that fire-brand labour leader, Comrade Shanker Guha
      Niyogi of the Chhattisgarh Mukti Morcha ( CMM ) was assassinated on 28th
      September, 1991. On public uproar from all over the country, the case was
      handed over to the Central Bureau of Investigation ( CBI) by the then MP
      Government of Bhartiya Janata Party, under the Chief Ministership of Sunder
      Lal Patwa. The CBI had charge-sheeted three industrialists belonging to the
      Simplex Group of Industries, four of the their muscle-men and the hired
      assassin, Paltan Mallah. In June, 1997 the Trial Court at Durg, Madhya
      Pradesh, Mr. T K Jha had sentenced Paltan Mallah with capital punishment,
      and five others with life imprisonment, including the two industrialists,
      Mool Chand Shah and Chandrakant Shah. However, the Madhya Pradesh High
      Court acquitted all the accused in the Niyogi Murder Trial on 26th June,

      There was nation wide concern and condemnation expressed of the acquittal
      of the murderers of Niyogi. July 1, 1998 was being observed by the CMM as
      Martyrs day paying homage to the 16 workers who were shot dead in the
      police firing on the same day in 1992, when 3000 workers (including women
      and children) belonging to the trade unions affiliated to the CMM were
      agitating against their victimization by the industrial mafia, which was
      also responsible for Niyogi's murder.

      Since this martyr s day in 1998 was being observed just four days after
      the acquittal of Niyog's murderers by the MP High Court, the rally and
      public meeting were the occasion when leaders of CMM and various people s
      organisations expressed concern and condemned the judgement. Speakers after
      speakers spoke of the growing disillusionment with the judicial system,
      which had failed to instill faith in the mind of the common people.
      Specially when the accused in the Niyogi Murder trial belonged to the rich
      and powerful industrialists, the public perception about the acquittal of
      these accused after the trail court had punished them was that not all was
      well with this system. The people s anger could be demonstrated in the
      fact that copies of the High Court judgement were burned, and slogans were
      shouted against the judges Sri S K Dubey and Ms. Usha Shukla.

      Adv. Rajendra K. Sail, the then Organizing Secretary of National PUCL also
      was one of the speakers at this public meeting. He also expressed his
      anguish and disappointment with the acquttal of the murderers of Niyogi.
      He had, however, praised the trial court s courage and unique judgement
      to punish the rich for the crime.

      On 4th of July, The Hitvada ( an English daily published from Nagpur) in
      its Bhilai Edition carried a story by a scribe based on what was claimed
      to be " a private conversation". The MP High Court Bar Association filed
      an application to initiate Contempt Proceedings against Adv. Rajendra K.
      Sail, Mr. Rajendra Purohit, Managing Editor of Hitvada and Mr. Vinay
      Panshikar, Associate Editor of Hitvada Daily in the MP High Court. The MP
      High Court suo-motto initiated another contempt proceedings against them.

      It may be worth mentioning here that Contempt of Court proceedings are
      increasingly being used to silence the voice of dissent, specially of the
      social movements. The case in point is that of Narmada Bachao Andolan. The
      Supreme Court had initiated similar contempt proceedings against its
      leaders, including Medha Patkar and Arundhati Roy. Once again, notice has
      been issued to NBA leaders for another contempt of court, after they raised
      their voices honestly against the recent Supreme Court judgement in the NBA
      petition, permitting the wall of the Sardar Sarovar Dam to be increased.

      The Amnesty International in a special report published in early 2000 on
      the harassment of human rights activists, speaks of the contempt of court
      act becoming a handy tool for the rulers and official development
      protagonists to silence the voice of dissent.

      The people of Chhattisgarh, under the leadership of the Chhattisgarh Mukti
      Morcha, have taken the matter to the streets raising their voices against
      this harsh judgement in the Contempt matter. According to CMM and other
      people s organizations in the country, this is not an attack on one
      individual social activist or a team of journalists but an attack on the
      people's organizations/movements and media. The CMM and other people's
      organisations in Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh are planning to court
      arrest in thousand in protest against this judgement on 23rd March ( the
      martyrdom day of Shaheed Bhagat Singh, Suikhdev and Rajguru).

      Growing disillusionment with the judicial system in the country is a major
      issue with which the democratic forces will have to deal with in the near
      future. It is not without any reason that some analysts are interpreting
      this judgement as a means to silence the media and also a systematic and
      sophisticated attack on the growing influence of the people's movement who
      are formulating strategies to resist globalization, combat communalism and
      defend democracy.

      * Com. Anoop Singh, Secretary, Chhattisgarh Mukti Morcha


      We are shocked at the harsh punishment of six month's imprisonment meted
      out to Rajendra Sail, a social activist, and four journalists belonging to
      an English Daily, The Hitvada, Nagpur on 19th March, 2001 by the MP High
      Court at Jabalpur in the Contempt of Court proceedings. The background of
      the case is the protest by people s organisations and activists against
      the acquittal by the MP High Court in June 1998 of all accused in the Com.
      Shanker Guha Niyogi Murder Case. It may be re-called that the trial court
      at Durg had convicted Paltan Mallah, the hired assassin, with capital
      punishment, and two industrialists of Simplex Group of Industries, and
      three of their muscle-men with life-imprisonment. There were nation-wide
      protests against their acquittal by the MP High Court.

      We are concerned at the increasing use of the Contempt of Court Act, 1971
      mainly on the social and human rights activists and movements. The MP High
      Court judgement in this case goes on to confirm the growing belief that the
      Contempt of Court proceedings are also being used to silence the voices of
      dissent in a democracy, especially by those resisting globalization and
      combating communalism.

      The public perception about such cases is that the rich and powerful get
      away after committing crimes against humanity, while the poor and
      oppressed hardly get any relief from the judicial system. We also note that
      such judgements as the recent MP High Court one in the Contempt matter
      does not, in any way, help in restoring people s faith in judicial
      system. On the contrary, people are getting more and more disillusioned
      with the judicial system.
      Various legal battles such as that of the Chhattisgarh Mukti Morcha,
      Narmada Bachao Andolan, Bhopal Gas Tragedy, Delhi workers and citizens,
      bonded and child labours, tribals and dalits, women and minorities, have
      mostly failed to provide either justice or relief to the people and their
      problems related to the Right to Life & Livelihood.

      We call for a public debate and review of the Contempt of Court Act, 1971,
      in the light of the changing scenario in the country, and against the
      recent experiences of people's organizations and activists which/who are
      struggling to realize the vision of a socialist, secular and democratic

      March 23, 2001:

      1. Vimalbhai National Alliance of People's Movements
      2. Sandeep National Alliance of People's Movements
      3. Vinod Raina All India People's Sciences Network
      4. Rakesh Shukla People's Union for Democratic Rights
      5. Ravi Kiran Jain, Sr. Adv. P.U.C.L. (U.P.)
      6. Ram Dhiraj Aajadi Bachao Andolan
      7. Satya Prakash Aajadi Bachao Andolan
      8. Ajay Sharma Amar Ujala, Noida
      9. Manjoo Mohan Janta Dal (S)
      10. Vijay Shankar Kapda Mill Mazdoor Union, Kanpur
      11. Acharya Animesh PROUT
      12. Dr. B. D. Sharma Bharat Jan Andolan
      13. Prof. Abu Baker BJVJ, New Delhi
      14. Dr. S. S. Deepti Lok Chetna Manch, Amritsar
      15. Dr. Sunilam, MLA, Multai, M. P. M.P.Kisan Sangharsh Samiti (State
      16. Vijay Pratap Founder Member Lokayan Delhi-54
      17. Bijay Adivasi Mukti Sangathan, M.P.
      18. Srilata Swaminathan CPI-ML
      19. Surendra Mohan, Ex-MP JD (Secular)
      20. Kishan Patnayak Samajwadi Jan Parishad
      21. Dinesh Abrol Samajwadi Jan Parishad
      22. K. Ashok Rao Trade Union Leader
      23. Jagjit Singh, M.CP. Central Committee Member
      24. P. V. Srinivas CPI (ML) Liberation
      25. Jita Kumar PIPWA
      26. Gopal Siwakar(Chintan) INHURED, Nepal
      27. Dr. Arun Singh Social Scientist
      28. Sivaraman Editor, Liberation
      29. Ray Fulcher Democratic Socialist Party (Australia)
      30. Linda Waldron Democratic Socialist Party (Australia)
      31. Risto Isomauki Friends of the Earth
      32. Sunil Kisan Adivasi Sangathan, Kesla, M. P.
      33. Arijit Mitra C.P.I. (W.B.) ML
      34. Raja Ram C.P.I. ML
      35. Ishwari Prasad
      36. Somnath Tripathi Samajwadi Jan Parishad, Varanasi
      37. Chittaranjan Singh P.U.C.L. (U.P.)
      38. Ilina Sen Rupantar, Raipur
      39. Shashi Sail National Alliance of Women
      40. Kumud Nandgave Chhattisgarh Bal Shramik Sangathan
      41. Harshlata Kanwar Chhattisgarh Mahila Jagriti Sangathan
      42. Wilfred D'Costa, INSAF
      43. Beena Jadhav, SAMVAD Ahmedabad
      44. Harsh Kapoor, South Asia Citizens Web (France)

      Please add your name and circulate with a copy to: insaf@...




      Dead Man Talking

      Bribe-takers who render defence and security issues vulnerable are
      compromising on nothing less than the democratic credentials of our
      country. We need to check the spread of this disease before we turn into
      tacit accomplices of this subversion, says Alok Rai

      It is an awesome, almost Shakespearean experience, seeing ol' Jaws and
      his moll struggling to grasp the enormity of what it is that has happened.
      The conmen and the fixers, the sleazy dalals who emerge from their
      farmhouse redoubts after a hard day's work suborning the public interest,
      to shoot a few holes at the lush greens that mock the parched "colonies",
      and wash up at the five-star watering holes where scavengers gather at
      dusk, these one has long known about. Still, it is gratifying to have them
      trapped on tape, with their safari suits and shaky grammar, the sentences
      that never quite reach the verbs that would, willy-nilly, describe their
      awful calling.

      "The system" is no longer an abstraction. It is these humanoid crooks and
      shysters, these carpetbaggers and suitcasewallahs, feeding off the
      substance of the people of India. For, make no mistake about it, the money
      that passes through these perfumed hands is, necessarily, stolen from the
      starving farmers of Andhra Pradesh, from the terrible skeletons of the
      Orissa "tribals", the displaced peasants of the Narmada Valley, the
      hollow-eyed children of the carpet factories, the miners who drown in the
      neglected coal fields of Bihar. There is blood on those perfumed hands.

      But the truly shocking part of the Tehelka "tehelka" isn't, after all,
      these creatures, these sleazy humanoid things, this Gupta, that Jain. What
      the revelations have revealed, over and above the already known, is the
      depths to which the political class has fallen. Psychologists tell us that
      the only psychotics who are truly beyond the reach of redemption are those
      who cannot recall a single moment of being happy, being loved. Surely,
      some of these people must have at least a memory of goodness, must
      remember a time when they were honest-Nitish, perhaps even Jaws?

      Why then do they-it, the political class-appear unable even to imagine a
      different world in which everything is not up for sale? Could it be that
      though the body still moves, and the mouths still frame desperate, evasive
      lies and equivocations, these are dead men talking-talking desperately to
      ward off the awful moment when the news of their demise catches up with

      The saddest outcome would be if l'affaire Tehelka were to decline into
      becoming a slanging match between different gangs of crooks, a political
      contest, a mafia shoot-out, a corporate feud

      Instead of rising to the challenge of what stands exposed for all to
      see, unforgettably, they are anxious to locate and plug the leaks through
      which the awful news-that-isn't-news got out. Is there a Section Officer
      in the Home Ministry who might have helped these nosy journalists? Sack
      him! Is there some dirt that can be dug up on Tehelka? On Tejpal?Š
      Anything, except the recognition that the system they are trying to
      protect is rotten to

      the core and not worth saving, even if it could be saved.

      One of the ways in which these crooked creatures are trying to sidetrack
      the central issue of corruption is by raising the question of political
      funding. Well, there might be room for a debate as to how legitimate
      political activity is to be funded-but now is not the time for that
      debate, just as the best time to debate conversions is not when Christians
      are being burnt to death.

      And in any case, "party funds" is merely a euphemism for bribes. After
      all, a bribe is never ever called a bribe-it is always chai-pani, or
      bacchon ki mithai, or whatever. It is all a matter of scale, and bribes of
      lakhs and crores are called "party funds".

      Then again, there is an assumed moral symmetry between the bribe-giver
      and the bribe-taker-as if the harassed citizen who has to pay a bribe to
      have an FIR registered is in the same moral position as the uniformed slob
      who refuses to take cognisance of a crime until he has been bribed.
      Granted that there is precious little reason to sympathise with the
      businessman who lobbies and bribes in order to push a dubious product. But
      he is, after all, a businessman, tireless in the pursuit of that sacred

      But the person, civil servant or politician, who knowingly accepts a
      dubious product, because of the accompanying bribe isn't-or shouldn't be-a
      businessman, renting his "judgment" to the highest bidder. He is a trustee
      of the public, the "national" interest, and at the end of a dishonest
      transaction, he has betrayed that trust. The businessman, for all his
      sleazy morality, has not. That is a crucial difference.

      The "national interest" is frequently trundled out when the crooks want to
      appear virtuous-generally, that is, when they have been caught out in a
      particularly odious betrayal of that interest. Thus, those who squander the
      people's wealth on guns and bombs of dubious utility always do so in "the
      national interest". Whereas people who subject them to democratic public
      scrutiny are sought to be hit on the head with that same "national

      It seems obvious enough, but perhaps it needs to be said in these
      benighted times, that it isn't only guns and bombs that represent the
      national interest, or even national security. National security is
      endangered by all those who serve to make the decision-making process
      porous, and vulnerable to bribes. To take a current example, the person
      (or persons) who connived to pledge the nation's wealth in the Enron deal,
      endangered and hurt the nation's interest and security, even if it took 60
      million dollars of Enron money to "educate" them to do so.

      The saddest outcome would be if l'affaire Tehelka were to decline into
      becoming a slanging match between different gangs of crooks, a political
      contest, a mafia shoot-out, a corporate feud. After all, who gains if the
      feeling becomes general that all of them are crooks, that the political
      system has no room for honest people? At one level, this is an insult to
      the millions of honest people in this country, who still succeed,
      sometimes, in finding honest people to represent them.

      But if this possibility itself is allowed to be occluded by the clamour of
      hypocritical accusation and lying self-defence, then surely the people of
      India will be on the way to being robbed of their most precious
      achievement, their democracy. Our democracy. That democracy requires that
      we quickly identify, nail and hang the crooks, before the disease spreads
      any further. Otherwise we are all, willy nilly, complicit in the
      subversion of our democracy.


      The Hindu
      2 April 2001
      Letters to the Editor

      A giant leap back

      Sir,-The University Grants Commission's decision to start departments of
      Vedic Astrology in Indian universities (March 28) is seen as yet another
      attempt to saffronise education. The Indian scientific community has
      rightly come down on it as a giant leap backwards.

      Few can dispute that astrology is based solely on faith and mostly events
      predicted by it have not come true. A secular government must not spend
      tax-payers' money in the pursuit of study of a pseudo-science like

      N. K. Suryanarayanan,



      [Two upcoming meetings in New Delhi]

      Dialogue on Economic Democracy

      North-South-South Collaboration between Public Sector Enterprises: an
      alternative to Market Globalisation and the "Washington Consensus" ?

      An Invitation for Discussion
      2nd April, 2001
      SSS II, Committee Room, JNU [New Delhi]

      Programme (12.30 - 5.00p.m.)
      12.30-2.00: Presentation of a proposal by the campaign against
      privatization of the public sector enterprises in Finland: Could the PSEs
      in Nordic countries and South Asia (and in China and Russia?) work together
      to resist US-led market fundamentalism?

      2.00 p.m - 3.00 p.m. : L u n c h

      3.00 p.m. - 5.00 p.m.: Discussion about the Future Directions
      Leading activists and intellectuals on issues of economic democracy are
      expected to participate. Shri Prabhash Joshi, convenor of Vikalp Abhiyan
      (Campaign for Alternatives) has agreed to chair. The discussions will be
      held in both Hindi and English.
      Organizers: CSDS/ Lokayan/ Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam

      2. Shri Vinod Prasad Singh has organised a meeting on Globalisation:
      Peasants And Youth
      Date: 4th April
      Time: 5 p.m.
      Venue: Gandhi Peace Foundation [New Delhi]


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