The Global Digest


Solar Energy for Boats, Homes and Nations

Special Report
By J.Vincent Jain
Mar 31, 2013

Project inauguration held at Vizhinjam fishing harbour

ADSGAF and BOBP-IGO with Jagth Jothi Solar energy Pvt Ltd have been conducting studies and experiments on how to use solar energy and its use in fishing crafts. Studies and experiments were done on long-days deep sea fishing boats and Out Board Engine fitted stay fishing boats. Cattamarans were also included in this study. It is found that fuel consumption can be saved, longevity of the engines increased, expulsion of Carbon dioxide decreased and fishing expenses reduced. After the first phase of studies and experiments, the second phase is on the process.

The second phase of this project inauguration held at Vizhinjam fishing harbour on the 15th March 2013. A 50 feet boat named “Samuel” is selected for the trial run. The boat is owned by Mr. Sahayaraj, Chinnathurai, Kanyakumari District. The solar technology is provided by Sirius Controls Pvt Ltd. Mr. Satish Babu, Director ICFOSS presided over the inaugural function. Key note address was delivered by Dr. Y.S.Yadava, Director BOBP-IGO and father Thomas Kocherry.

Mr. Athinarayanan, Commanding officer, Indian Coast Guard, Vizhinjam Station, Dr. M. Jayaraju, Director, ANERT, Dr. K. Ambadi, Director, KSCADC Ltd, Thiruvananthapuram, Mr. Raghvendra Rao, Manager, NABARD, Thiruvanathapuram, Mr. Raman, Mr. Rajeev and Mr. Cleetus Matsyafed, Mr. Aneesh, ANERT, Mr. Sadhishkumar, Jagath Jothi, Mr. Jaikar and Mr. Cibin of Sirius Controls Pvt Ltd are attended. Mr. Romance proposed vote of thanks.

The boat “Samuel” went for fishing on the 15th March 2013 from Vizhinjam fishing harbour after the inaugural function and returned on 23rd March 2013 at Muttom fishing harbour. Mr. Selvorian, President of ADSGAF with Mr. Dicorse, Mr. Vijayan and Mr. Vincent Jain went to Muttom for knowing the performance of the solar system. Mr. Sunil who is the skipper of the vessel for the past 10 years told that he enjoyed with the light while fishing and he never find trouble in starting and re-starting the engine during the fishing voyage. Mr. Jose, a crew member said, “Usually light in the boat will not be bright and need utmost care for removing the fish from the hooks and line. But solar energy is fitted lights are bright which enabled us to handle the fish and hooks and line without much stress. It also saved considerable amount time.” He also said, “We could save about 150 to 160 litters of diesel in this trip of eight days.”

BURMA: President too quick to proclaim state of emergency

Mar 23, 2013

Thein Sein

The Asian Human Rights Commission has been following with concern news of the latest outbreak of communal violence in Burma. Although the circumstances of how the violence began are clouded, the president on 22 March 2013 declared an indefinite state of emergency over four townships of Mandalay Region--Meikhtila, Wundwin, Mahlaing and Thazi--after the imposition of an order under section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code on March 20 to shut down businesses until the situation improved failed to quell growing conflict that has officially left eleven people dead. Eyewitness accounts put the number of dead possibly in the dozens, with many people besides injured.

It would be disingenuous of the authorities in Burma to describe the violence as unexpected. Throughout the latter part of 2012, they permitted demonstrations by thousands of persons calling for the expulsion from the country of Muslims in the west alleged to have entered illegally. At that time, a number of reprise attacks occurred against targets in other parts of the country, although these did not spread widely and attracted little media attention. Yet now the response has been, as previously, to react with the introduction of a state of emergency as if confronted with an event that was wholly unexpected, for which the authorities had not been prepared. Although this state of emergency is only the first proclaimed by the president for 2013, it is the latest in a series since he took office that is beginning to set a familiar pattern, and indeed, return Burma to its regular programming during years of dictatorship: that is, when in doubt, send in the army.

That the use of a state of emergency is becoming the default response to any type of widespread violence is at least as much a cause for concern as the incidence of violence itself. Although nobody doubts the seriousness of the situation and the need for the concerned authorities to have means at their disposal to address the violence, the question needs to be asked as to why the police operating under more conventional juridical measures appear as yet incapable of dealing with any incidence of violence that occurs in the country, and what the consequences for the fledgling political changes in Burma might be if the proclamation of a state of emergency remains the default response to incidents of this sort.

The United Nations Human Rights Committee in 2001 spoke to these issues when it observed that a state of emergency ought to be imposed only where the nation is somehow threatened existentially, and that, "Not every disturbance or catastrophe qualifies as a public emergency which threatens the life of the nation" (CCPR/C/21/Rev.1/Add.11, 31 August 2011, para. 3). It is unlikely that some violence in some northern towns of Burma, serious as it is, could be found to warrant the proclaiming of an emergency under international standards, especially when practically no other interventions were even tried before its proclamation.

The ready resort of the president to the proclaiming of a state of emergency each time local authorities are unable to deal with a situation not only constitutes an affront to international standards but also casts grave doubts over his assertions that the country is changing and growing politically. Granted that the declaration of a state of emergency is a marginal improvement from the dark days in the final years of military dictatorship when the army dispensed with any pretence of legality whatsoever, and imposed its authority over crowds on the streets without reference to legal parameters; however, given that it provides the military free rein to do what they wish in the affected areas once ordered, and given that it is of unlimited duration, these improvements are modest, and hardly consistent with the democratic aspirations that the president espouses each time he goes abroad.

The problem for the authorities in Burma today is really how to protect lives, property and human rights without having to resort repeatedly to measures associated with the authoritarian governments of old, measures inimical to the express intention of the state in Burma to democratise. No easy solution exists to this problem. But, one way that is bound, in the long run, to encourage rapid slippage back into the politics of old is the repeated use of states of emergencies. Therefore, the Asian Human Rights Commission urges that the situation in Meikhtila be stabilised through the use of conventional forces and instruments, and that the state of emergency be lifted at once and the army in Burma returned to the barracks.

Yatra lends support to struggle of Raigad and Karla on Day 2: DMIC is an Attack on Our Democratic Rights and Values as Enshrined in the Constitution

Jan Satyagrahis

Karla, Lonavla, March 9: Mumbai- Delhi Corridor Virodhi Sangharsh Yatra on its second day joined the public meeting organised by Jagtikikaran Virodhi Kriti Samiti at Maangaon Taluka, Raigad District. The meeting was joined by Sarvahara Jan Andolan, Corridor Virodhi Sangharsh Samiti, NAPM and other organisations. Ulka Mahajan welcomed the yatra and said they fought Reliance SEZ and got it cancelled after years of struggle but now they are faced with a monstrosity called the DMIC. 9715 families of 69 villages in Maangaon, Roha and Tala Talukas have received notifications for land acquisition- a total of 24, 207 acres under the Maharashtra Industrial Development Act. The land required for it is under Dighi Industrial Area part of DMIC corridor. MIDC has already acquired 2000 hectares of land since 1985 at the rate of 20-25,000 Rs per acre, of which land has been given to Jindal, POSCO and others. There is no record of land utilised and unutilised with MIDC, in past fifty years it has acquired more than 13 lakh acres of land. The provision of MIDC Act is more draconian than Land Acquisition Act 1894, which leaves little scope for the consent of the affected population.

The current notifications issued to farmers are illegal since the isssuiing authority SDO does not have the power to issue notifications of land above the price of Rs. 50, 000. However, the current rate as per MIDCs own notification is Rs. 40 lakhs per acre. Sarvahara Jan Andolan vowed to challenge this forcible acquisition.

Addressing the meeting, Medha Patkar said that the purpose of the yatra is to bring together all the struggles in this massive region, since neither the people nor the democratically elected Gram Sabhas are aware of this monstrosity. What is at stake is the hard- earned freedom and democratic rights of the people, as enshrined in the Constitution of India. Forcible acquisition of land in the name of industrial city development will only lead to development of real estate and land grab, bringing not prosperity, but impoverishment.

NAPM Natioanl Convenor Suniti SR questions whether the Kathkari Adivasis of Raigad have benefitted, till date, from any of the numerous industries in the region. The Reliance SEZ, for which 1700 hectares of land was bought, has been cancelled, but the land is now up for sale for real estate. These projects only facilitate land grab from Adivasis, a glaring example being the Lavasa hill city project.

The Sangharsh Yatra later moved to Karla, Lonavla, where Ekvira Bachao Andolan welcomed it to Lonavla city. Yatris offered their respects by garlanding statues of Babasaheb Ambedkar, Jyotiba Phule, and Shivaji. Ekvira Bachao Andolan had fought against the Mahindra SEZ and achieved its cancellation, but the land again faces the threat of forcible acquisition, this time from the DMIC. In the words of Prasad Bagve, “SEZ has been cancelled but denotification notice is yet to be issued by the administration. Is this the democracy we live in?”

As we move ahead, talking about the project and planned destruction in the name of development, we see the yatra garnering more and more response. Overall, the DMIC area consists of 70% agricultural and 10% forest land, which contribute to 50% of food grain production in the country. Large scale acquisition in the 12 investment regions and 12 industrial areas will adversely affect the food grain production and put extra pressure on land, water and forest. Sentiments everywhere are the same, “we are not ready to move, we shall fight, we shall win!”

Lingraj Azad, Kamla Yadav, Anwari Bi, Sumit Wajale, Santosh Thakur, Milind Champanerkar, Yuvraj, Seela M and Madhuresh Kumar. Contact: 9818905316

AFSPA: Who Rules India?

Special Contribution
By Walter Fernandes
Feb 28, 2013

Former Home Secretary Mr G. K. Pillai

Finally a senior Union Minister has made official what many knew already. The Government cannot even make the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) more human because the army does not want it diluted, leave alone repealed. In his K. Subramanyam Memorial Lecture on February 6, 2013 at the Institute of Defence Studies Mr P. Chidambaram said “We can’t move forward because there is no consensus. The present and former Army Chiefs have taken a strong position that the Act should not be amended (and) do not want the government notification … to be taken back. How does the government … make the AFSPA a more humanitarian law?” (The Hindu, February 7, 2013).

The first question it raises is: “Who rules India: The elected representatives or the army?” The second is “Why does the army oppose even dilution of the Act to make it more human?” The Justice Verma Commission has said in unequivocal terms that security persons who rape women should be judged under the same act that applies to the civilians. A similar stand has been taken by others. In 2005 the Jeevan Reddy Commission said that AFSPA should be repealed and the clauses that are required should be included in other Acts. Mr R. N. Ravi, former head of the Intelligence Bureau for the North East is on record that AFSPA is the biggest obstacle to peace in the region. Former Home Secretary Mr G. K. Pillai has come out openly against the Act. These statements are not emotional outbursts. They come from persons who have worked in the system and know the dynamics of the Act and of running the Government.

But the army is opposing even this change. What is their rationale for thinking that security persons who rape innocent women should enjoy impunity in the name of national security? For whose security was the law enacted, for that of the country or of the criminals in uniform? Whenever some change is suggested in the Act the army seems to oppose it and the civilian government buckles under its pressure. For example, when the Jeevan Commission appointed to inquire into the alleged rape and murder of 30-year old Manorama Devi of Imphal in Manipur arrested by the Assam Rifles suggested that the law should be repealed and the clauses that are required should be integrated with other All India laws the Government did not even publish the report. The Hindu procured it “illegally” and uploaded it on its website.

After the Verma Commission Report said that security persons who rape women should be tried under the civilian law, the Union Law Minister said in an interview on NDTV that there are problems in implementing these suggestions. During a TV discussion another Union minister said that because of its slow legal process the public does not know the punishment meted out by the army. They did not specify the constraints or the legal action taken. A search of the records shows very few cases of trial leave alone of punishment. For example, no action has been taken in the Manorama Devi case. On December 23, 2005 a group of university students entered a railway compartment at Kokrajhar in Assam, not knowing that armed security persons from Haryana were travelling in it. The jawans closed the doors of the compartment and tried to molest the students. Alerted by their shouts the Bodo student union stopped the train and tried to take action on the jawans. The police opened fire on them and four students died. No action has been taken till today.

One can give many more such instances that have gone unreported or have been hushed up. In a recent case in Assam the local people caught the jawan so the army promised action against him. He was jailed for three months. People in Jammu and Kashmir speak of a large number of women who have been violated but the armed forces have gone unpunished. So the women live with a sense of shame. Some of them testified before the Verma Commission and its recommendation stems from teir testimony. One is also told that the honour of the army is involved and national security requires the law. In what way does lack of action against rape protect the honour of the army?

One can question AFSPA even from the security point of view. It was enacted in 1958 on an experimental basis for six months as a measure against “terrorist” groups in the North East. It was applied first in Nagaland, in 1980 in Manipur, later in Jammu and Kashmir and over the decades in more areas of the North East. What was enacted for six months has remained for more than five decades. In 1958 there was one “terrorist” group in the North East. Manipur had two groups when the State was brought under the Act. Today, Manipur has more than twenty such groups, Assam has not less than fifteen, Meghalaya has five of them and other States have more groups. How does the army explain this proliferation of militant groups in spite of the Act? Has it served its purpose?

One is also told that the armed forces will not be able to remain in the North East or Jammu and Kashmir if the law is repealed. That is a lie. The army is deployed all over India without such a law. Those who demand its repeal do not ask the army to leave any region. They only want the armed forces to serve the country under the Constitution without a law that allows abuses with impunity. There is no reason why a rapist or murderer should have a separate law only because he belongs to the armed forces. Take for granted for a moment that all the women whom they rape are terrorists. Why should they be raped? Why can they not be dealt with under the law of the land? These actions do not add to the honour of the armed forces or to the security of India. They only violate people’s right to a life with dignity and cannot be justified in a democratic country.

Civilians have been elected to rule the country. They have a duty to ensure that the security forces work under the Constitution. The problems in the North East and in Kashmir should be solved through a political process and not through a law that violates people’s right to life and dignity with impunity. They need confidence building measures (CBM) in order to move towards peace with justice. What better CDM can one suggest than repealing the AFSPA?

The author, is former director and at present Senior Fellow at North Eastern Social Research Centre, Guwahati.

Condemn Not Just North Korea; Deal with Global Nuclear Hypocrisy

Special Contribution
By S. P. Udayakumar
Feb 13, 2013

North Korea's missile paraded

North Korea has just announced that it has conducted a successful third underground nuclear test, and the world powers are all condemning the act unanimously. According to their reasoning, North Korea, Iran and a few other “rogue” countries they do not like cannot and should not develop nuclear energy or produce nuclear weapons.

But they themselves can do both. The United States, Russia, Britain and France can arm themselves to their teeth with thousands of nuclear bombs and all kinds of treacherous missiles. And, of course, we have nothing to worry about it as they are all White and straight. China, India, Pakistan and Israel are all encouraged to build more nuclear power plants and produce more nuclear bombs as these activities fetch more nuclear deals, more nuclear business and more billions of dollars to the big brothers’ nuclear industries and other MNCs. As an added advantage, this nuclearization entrenches the imperial powers’ world hegemony and neutralizes the growing economic and military strength of the “emerging” regional powers.

The U.S. disarmament ambassador Laura Kennedy has said at a Geneva disarmament forum: "I find it just an incredible contrast that while millions of people are celebrating the Spring Festival, a time which should be a time to celebrate peace and prosperity, that North Korea celebrates it by a third nuclear weapons test." This rule does not apply to the United States, however. They can invade any country anytime anyhow and do whatever they want whenever they want and wherever they want. If you wonder what moral authority and political legitimacy the United States government has to talk about nuclear armament and proliferation, you would be branded as a dangerous terrorist.

The U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has condemned the test as “a clear and grave violation of the relevant Security Council resolutions”. This Secretary General himself has been accused of not convening the Security Council in the wake of the Sri Lankan genocide against the Tamils and actually assisting in the genocide and related war crimes. Just as the UN has become pro-governments and anti-people thanks to Ban Ki-moon and company, several UN agencies such as the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) have become redundant and useless for the international community.

The South Korean disarmament ambassador Kwon Haeryong has said that North Korea was the "only country which has demonstrated blatant disregard by conducting nuclear tests" since a 1996 global treaty banning them was negotiated at the disarmament forum. He has conveniently forgotten that India and Pakistan conducted tests in 1998. Is it because South Korea has signed a nuclear business deal with India?

Similarly, the Japanese officials have said that they would deploy military jets to survey the radiation levels following the North Korean test and consider imposing “unilateral sanctions” on Pyongyang. But they themselves would hide so much vital facts and information about Fukushima and other nuclear installations from their own citizens and the international community. It is strange that they are more worried about the North Korean radiation when they have enough nuclear skeletons in their electricity closets.

The nuclear proliferation and the missile programs around the world are getting out of hand and the global nuclear hypocrisy is endangering the Earth and life on it very badly. It is high time we, the peoples of the United Nations, convened an international conference of the citizens of the Earth, and decided to abandon Uranium mining, phase out nuclear power, intensify non-proliferation efforts and begin a serious initiative on abolishing nuclear weapons all together in a time-bound manner. There cannot and should not be different types of justice for small and weak countries and the bigger and powerful countries. Let us get rid of everything nuclear from the face of the Earth! Here and Now!

India: The Nandy Bully

Special Contribution
Feb 7, 2013

Protest in India

The sorts of corruption that matter are a purview of privileged "An intellectual man can be a good man but he may easily be a rogue. Similarly an intellectual class may be a band of high-souled persons, ready to help, ready to emancipate erring humanity, or it may easily be a gang of crooks or a body of advocates of narrow clique from which it draws its support.” —B.R. Ambedkar

“[The] racism of the specific to a dominant class whose reproduction depends, in part, on the transmission of cultural capital, an inherited capital that has the property of being an embodied capital and thus apparently natural and innate.” —Pierre Bourdieu

Ashis Nandy is a reason-buster. That is his e-mail id, his raison d’etre. And when he makes totally unreasonable comments, his friends expect us to stand and applaud. His acolytes—who have predictably and unimaginatively started an online petition to save his right to free speech and have created a blog dedicated to him—tell us that the political psychologist (a term he uses to describe himself) likes to “illuminate through anecdote, aphorism and irony”. But apparently Dalits, adivasis and OBCs—he lumps together 70 per cent of the population—and those of us non-Dalits whose work requires us to actually know something about caste, cannot understand such nuances.

At the outset, let me state that I am not for Nandy’s arrest—though an absolute right to free speech should make us defend the Thackerays and Akbaruddin Owaisi as well—under the SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act, for that would trivialise the realities of caste violence. Like my friends Chandra Bhan Prasad and Kancha Ilaiah have said with such grace and maturity, let us forgive Nandy and not drag him to court. But first let us look at what exactly Nandy said in Jaipur. Here is a faithful, unedited transcript based on a YouTube video via ABP News. My comments figure in parenthesis, and these are necessary, for what transpired on stage was a performance with gestures, pauses and interruptions adding to the overall effect.

Nandy: How should I put it? Almost a vulgar statement on my part. [Raises his voice and speaks slowly, with deliberate emphasis on each word.] It is a fact that most of the corrupt come from the OBCs, and the Scheduled Castes and now increasingly Scheduled Tribes. And as long as this is the case, [the] Indian Republic will survive... [some interruption, with moderator Urvashi Butalia saying “Alright” as if sensing the tension and wanting to move on; TV journalist Ashutosh is raising his hand in protest, but Nandy soldiers on]. Also, I’ll give an example. One of the states with the least amount of corruption is the state of West Bengal, that is when the CPI(M) was there. And I want to propose to you, draw your attention to the fact that in the last hundred years [pause] nobody from the opp... [opposition? oppressed?], nobody from the OBCs, the Backward Classes, and the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes have come anywhere near power in West Bengal. It is an absolutely clean state. [Point made, Nandy wants to pass the mike.]

Ashutosh: Urvashi, sorry... Urvashi Butalia: Wait... Ashutosh: I know, I know...I have to respond to this.... I think, I think...this is the classical [sic] case of... Butalia [again butts in]: Ashutosh, please, please, please... Ashutosh: This is a classical case of how the elite in India...they perceive the downtrodden, the Dalits, the OBCs, and all...[huge, heartening round of loud applause from the audience]. I think this is the most bizarre statement I have ever heard in this country [more continuous applause].

It’s not just the dirty outsiders who failed to grasp what Nandy later assures us was the case: that he was being pro-Dalit. It was also the presumably elite audience at the ‘DSC’ Jaipur Literary Festival who clapped for Ashutosh. And all this was well before the CSDS/twice-born spin machine cranked into action.

The transcript is of words spoken in just 80 seconds. This is a rushed, media-driven world where people seem to first speak, and then think, if at all. Just when we are to hear Ashutosh say something about the ruling castes, the video feed is cut, and ABP decides to typically amplify only Nandy’s words. The media will do what they are paid to do. (A corporatised media that a 2006 CSDS statistical survey—irony, again!—proved had near-zero representation of Dalits, adivasis and OBCs. And by the way, why can’t CSDS—the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, which is apparently running as a jobs programme for politically connected academicians who failed to get tenure in the US—ever implement reservation?) Surely the corruption that drains India is in real estate, arms deals or preferential bids for government contracts, not ticketless travelling.

Nandy did not stop with this. He persisted with his efforts at reason-busting in an interview to NDTV’s Barkha Dutt (January 28), where he claimed: “Even in this particular presentation [in Jaipur], I was [being] aggressively pro-Dalit, pro-OBC and pro-adivasi...unless and until you tease out that one sentence, and say ‘you are factually wrong, because this has not been empirically demonstrated’, though I have a feeling that probably I’ll not be shown wrong if you count the number of ticketless travellers and so on and so forth who get away [here Barkha smiles mischievously, a finger on her lips] in the second-class compartments of trains or on the terraces [sic] of railway trains and so on and so forth. There are many such cases. If you take the young urchins who sell tickets in the black outside cinema halls....” When Dutt interjects, Nandy says of his Jaipur utterances: “It is not an accidental slip, it is a Freudian slip.”

The more Nandy tries to explain, the more he sounds rabidly casteist. Ticketless travellers, black-ticket marketers, rickshawwallahs and thelawallahs who have to bribe the police—all these are presumed by Nandy to belong to once-born communities, simply because they are preponderant in India’s population. According to Nandyian logic, then, whoever is in the majority must necessarily be the most corrupt. What he claims as a ‘fact’—that most petty lawbreakers are from the bloc BSP founder Kanshi Ram called ‘bahujan’—is not a fact at all but a tautology, a case of circular reasoning. Even the elite anti-corruption campaigns of Anna Hazare/Arvind Kejriwal had bigger fish in mind. Surely, the corruption that drains India is concentrated in fields like real estate development, arms deals, concessions to rural landowners and SEZs, preferential bids for government contracts, and yes, lit-fests (some of which I’m ashamed to say I’ve attended). The sorts of corruption that matter most are the purview of the privileged, and Dalits do not make up even one per cent of these lucrative fields. They are the victims of corruption, not its beneficiaries. Corruption is not a democratising force, but most fundamentally an extra-legal form of rent-seeking behaviour by elites, that systematically sucks wealth upward. And until Nandy grasps this most basic reality, he should consider refraining from speaking publicly on the topics he knows nothing about.

And yes, the man who triggered this all, Tarun Tejpal, creator of the ‘Essar Thinkfest’, has gotten away with arguing that corruption is a “levelling force” in society, an “equaliser”—why then did Tehelka con Bangaru Laxman, a Dalit, into accepting a paltry Rs 1 lakh “for the party fund” and ensure prison for him? This vulgar understanding of democracy was further turned into a joke by Nandy, who blustered along as if he were sharing a drink with buddy Tejpal in the IIC lawns. Later, Nandy clarified to Barkha: “As long as the poor can be corrupt, it will be like a safety valve for will be better for the republic.... Corruption is about equality and redistributive justice.” Is this all India’s “finest intellect” has to offer?

Whatever the explanations, clarifications and defences, it is quite transparent what Nandy said and meant. Section 3.1.(x) of the PoA Act—invoked when someone “intentionally insults or intimidates with intent to humiliate a member of a Scheduled Caste or a Scheduled Tribe in any place within public view”—was meant to challenge the impunity with which the privileged castes routinely and habitually insult Dalits and adivasis. More than as a matter of freedom of expression, the twice-born have considered it their birthright—janma-siddha adhikaar—to be disparaging of all once-born folk. And Nandy’s words wound as much as the actions of khap panchayats and Ranvir Sena do.

However, it would be a sick irony if police who routinely refuse to file atrocities firs on even the most grossly violent attacks on Dalits were to file one against this completely non-violent pontiff of unreason. That Nandy has been threatened with arrest under this law is a red herring and a gift to him, which serves only to make him a martyr and a cause celebre for the Mandal-hating privileged-caste intellectual establishment. Worse, his arrest could bolster demands for the repeal of this important and seldom implemented law. Nandy’s views on caste and corruption—quite like his qualified endorsement of RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat’s statement that rapes happen in India, not Bharat (Tehelka, Jan 4, 2013)—must be debated and challenged. Nandy is a master at repackaging elite prejudice as counter-intuitive insight and paradoxical wisdom. But the best cure for these intellectual parlour games is simply to expose his ignorance to light of day.

Thus we should welcome Nandy’s comments as a brazen public expression of the “common sense” racism that the privileged in urban India routinely articulate in private conversations. The privileged who casually dismiss the policy of reservation in education and jobs (rarely implemented in earnest), and who refuse to acknowledge that they have availed of unstated reservation for millennia owing to their exclusive monopoly in various fields, including corruption (even if understood, according to Nandy’s reductive definition, as petty bribe-taking). The privileged who refuse to see caste itself as corruption, as moral depredation.

Before going further, let me pick some nits in what Nandy exactly said, especially since some of his most resourceful and powerful friends in the intellectual establishment—Nandy has at his disposal a large cache of what Bourdieu calls social and cultural capital—have rushed to his defence. These include the feminist publisher Urvashi Butalia, who helpfully parroted out his clarificatory statement (she moderated the Jaipur panel), and three of his former CSDS colleagues—Harsh Sethi (The Hindu, Jan 28, 2013), Yogendra Yadav (Indian Express, Jan 28, 2013) and Shiv Visvanathan (Firstpost, Jan 28, 2013)—who similarly constructed elaborate and contorted explanations to help the unnuanced masses understand that the emperor does have clothes after all.

His choice of words is surely not a result of any momentary lapse of reason. It is clear to anyone who cares to listen what Nandy in fact said and meant. Though it is fascinating to watch a man who scorns empiricism as vulgar western ideology gradually backtrack in a series of interviews, in which ‘a fact’ becomes ‘a hypothesis’, and finally an ‘expectation’. Equally fascinating is the spectacle of a man who has always resisted the idea of state-mandated bureaucratic rationality diligently sticking to state parlance when it comes to referring to Dalits or adivasis—steadfastly using ‘Scheduled Castes’ and ‘Scheduled Tribes’ and ‘OBC’ as if he were a babu in a sarkari department.

When he offers an illustration to corroborate his conclusion (mind you, Nandy’s authority comes not from any actual research, but the certainty of his intuitions), he says West Bengal under the Communists was an “absolutely clean state” because the once-born never had a share in power there. Such a man is marketed as an intellectual “maverick”, but the views he endlessly espouses are just cleverly repackaged versions of the ones most privileged-caste Indians anyway hold. For we, after all, live in Kaliyug, a fallen era when people have moved away from varna-ordained stations in life and have wrested some power. Nandy’s comments are a public expression of the ‘common sense’ racism that the urban privileged articulate in private conversations.

Much of this narrative fits snugly with—in fact, follows from—Nandy’s larger body of work that valorises pre-modern approaches to community and thought. Which is why his foundational work, The Intimate Enemy (1983), revolves around Gandhi and Tagore, but does not once mention figures like E.V. Ramasamy Periyar, Tarabai Shinde, Jyotirao Phule, Pandita Ramabai, Narayana Guru, the Aulchand-led Kartabhaja movement in early 19th century Bengal or B.R. Ambedkar. Even when writing controversially about Sati in 1987, Nandy invoked Tagore’s poem on Sati as an ideal, but did not engage with Ambedkar’s brilliant essay ‘Castes in India’ (1916) where he argues how Sati (besides child marriage and enforced widowhood) was among the building blocks of the caste system. This non-engagement is actually an estrangement; because Ambedkar’s project of fusing European Enlightenment thought with anti-metaphysical Buddhism does not suit Nandy’s indigenist longing for Gandhi’s revanchist Ram Rajya envisioned in the 1908 tract Hind Swaraj, whose critique of modernity, the West and industrialism comes with an abiding love for varnashrama and women’s enslavement. Nandy would happily cite Aime Cesaire, Frantz Fanon and Albert Memmi, but never Ambedkar, Periyar or Phule who challenge his very hypotheses.

It is such a trajectory that leads Nandy to utter the ultimate racist slur when he condemns entire population groups, not just individuals like A. Raja or Madhu Koda who happen to be Dalit or adivasi. Such views are baked in the crucible of prejudice and ignorance. In the US today, even Republicans would not say something so derogatory of all Hispanics, Blacks or First Nation peoples. When they do, they pay a penalty (not necessarily legal) and are excoriated, not hailed as mavericks. Two examples given by two friends will suffice: from the world of entertainment and from the world of science (just to pique Nandy). In 2011, when America’s highest-paid TV actor Charlie Sheen made anti-Semitic remarks against producer Chuck Lorre, CBS dumped him and discontinued the production of Two and a Half Men, a hit show that had been running for a decade. In 2007, when Nobel-winning biologist James D. Watson, who worked on the Human Genome Project, was quoted in The Times as suggesting that, overall, people of African descent are not as intelligent as people of European descent, the outcry led to the cancellation of his lectures and his eventually being sidelined at the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in Long Island.

Nandy’s tendency to make gross generalisations stems from his penchant to essentialise. For him, the coloniser has necessarily been white British power. Internal colonialisms hardly matter. Nandy’s binaristic understanding of coloniser-colonised does not enable him to recognise the colonialism that is played out in almost every village in India where blatant caste-based segregation is practised. Last year, Nandy delivered the Ambedkar University Delhi’s annual lecture on April 14, Ambedkar’s birth anniversary (published in EPW, July 28, 2012). The topic was ‘Theories of Oppression and Another Dialogue of Cultures’. I had hoped the very topic would give Nandy an opportunity to engage with radical anti-caste thought in India. But he disappointingly stuck to familiar ground.

Nandy’s disengagement with issues of caste and anti-caste thought is symptomatic of the apathy of India’s intellectual classes to these issues. Which is why we see feckless intellectuals eager to be complicit in his crime—the slew of luminous signatories to the petition is a virtual who-is-who. One does not have to be a Dalit, adivasi or OBC to be outraged by Nandy’s pronouncements just like one need not be black to see why Watson was so very wrong. In being ashamed of Nandy, we merely have to reach out to our own humanity. But I suppose that would be an unnuanced, anomic, banal and secular expectation.

(Anand is the publisher of Navayana, this story also appeared in Outlook Magazine, February 11, 2013)

THAILAND: Verdict in case of human rights defender is a serious threat to freedom of expression

Jan 28, 2013

Somyot Prueksakasemsuk

On January 23, 2013, the Criminal Court in Bangkok read the verdict in Black Case No. O.2962/2554, in which Somyot Prueksakasemsuk was charged with two violations of Article 112 of the Criminal Code. Somyot Prueksakasemsuk is a long-time labour rights activist and human rights defender. Somyot was prosecuted in relation to two articles published in Voice of Taksin magazine, a print publication with which he worked. The Court found Somyot guilty on both charges, and he was sentenced to ten years in prison in this case, as well as to one year in prison in relation to a prior case.

The Asian Human Rights Commission joins Thai and international human rights organizations and others concerned with freedom of expression who have condemned this case as a significant blow to human rights in Thailand. With this verdict, Somyot Prueksakasemsuk joins other human rights defenders, journalists, and individuals who have been found guilty under Article 112, which states that "Whoever defames, insults or threatens the King, Queen, the Heir-apparent or the Regent, shall be punished (with) imprisonment of three to fifteen years." The particular details of Somyot's case indicate that the vagueness of Article 112 is being used by the Thai state to constrict freedom of expression, thwart the practice and protection of human rights, and silence dissenting opinions.

Similar to the case of Prachatai webmaster Chiranuch Premchaiporn (See the AHRC's campaign page here), Somyot Prueksakasemsuk was not prosecuted and found guilty for writing articles deemed to violate Article 112, but rather prosecuted for his proximity to content written by another individual deemed to violate Article 112. In the case of Chiranuch, who was prosecuted under the 2007 Computer Crimes Act, the prosecutor argued that as the webmaster, she was responsible for removing comments with allegedly anti-monarchy posted to the Prachatai webboard more quickly than she had. Under Section 15 of the Computer Crimes Act, a service provider (in this case, Prachatai) found to be "intentionally supporting or consenting to" the use of the computer for this purpose is equally liable as the person committing the offence, which in the case of Chiranuch was the crime of lese majeste, as stipulated in section 112 of the Criminal Code. In the view of the prosecutor, and that of the judges who found her guilty, it was immaterial that Chiranuch was not the author of the comments in question.

In the case of Somyot Prueksakasemsuk, the prosecution argued that his work in printing, distributing and disseminating two issues of Voice of Taksin magazine which contained content deemed to violate Article 112 was itself an equal violation of the law. As in other lese majeste cases, the Court's decision turned on the issue of intention. In the abbreviated decision released on January 23, 2013, the Court offered this interpretation of Somyot's guilt: "The two Khom Khwam Kit articles in Voice of Taksin did not refer to the names of individuals in the content. But were written with an intention to link incidents in the past. When these incidents in the past are linked, it is possible to identify that (the unnamed individual) refers to King Bhumipol Adulyadej. The content of the articles is insulting, defamatory, and threatening to the king. Publishing, distributing, and disseminating the articles is therefore with the intention to insult, defame, and threaten the king" (page 2 of the abbreviated court decision, available in full in Thai on Prachatai here). The implication of the Criminal Court's argument here is that anyone involved in the editing, publishing, disseminating, or distribution of material that is judged to have the intention to defame, insult, or threaten the monarchy, is criminally liable.

This decision is an ominous warning to anyone involved in publishing, distributing or selling print or other media. The Asian Human Rights Commission is that it will create an atmosphere of fear which will limit the free expression and circulation of ideas, particularly those deemed to be critical or dissident. There is not an official censorship board in Thailand that officially inspects every piece of print material before it is published, but with this case, Article 112 is established as an unofficial censorship measure. What makes this particularly dangerous is that the enforcement and interpretation of Article 112 is both uneven and as indicated by this and other cases, highly political. Writers and publishers will not know that they have crossed the invisible line demarcated by the law until the police knock on their doors to take them away.

After the verdict was read on January 23, 2013, Somyot Prueksakasemsuk's legal team indicated that they would appeal the decision and applied for bail. During the twenty months which Somyot was held prior to and during his trial, he applied for and was denied bail eleven times. The Asian Human Rights Commission calls for the immediate release of Somyot Prueksakasemsuk and all others imprisoned for crimes of freedom of expression under Article 112 and related laws.

Finally, the verdict against Somyot Prueksakasemsuk is another in a line of convictions which demonstrates the grave danger that Article 112 poses to freedom of expression and human rights broadly in Thailand. The AHRC calls on the Thai government to repeal Article 112 and release all remaining individuals facing charges or convicted of violating Article 112 and related laws. Until this happens, the AHRC will continue to closely follow all other cases of alleged violations of Article 112 and encourages all others concerned with human rights and justice in Thailand to do so as well.

China card becomes ‘license’ for genocidal order

Special Contribution
By Muthamizh Vendhan
Jan 22, 2013

Torturing Falun Gong group in the China

With the seemingly blackmailing speech of Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, reported in Colombo media on Friday that if the USA withdraws its military training programmes to Sri Lanka, China would replace them, it becomes very explicit that the China card is now openly used for justifying a genocidal State order in the world, Tamil political analysts in the island said. Gotabhaya’s stand reported in Colombo media as “We don’t need you, we got China, Gotabhaya tells US,” is not taken seriously by Tamil political analysts, since Gotabhaya would have thrown away his US pass port if he was that ‘Sri Lankan’ and the US policy analysts and groups would not have been engaged in ‘reaching out’ Sri Lanka and engineering the integrity of the genocidal State, if Gota’s speech really means anything, the analysts said.

Both the USA and India follow only a policy of ‘reaching out’ to Sri Lanka, whatever genocidal it is, and sections of the US and Indian analysts go to the extent of blaming the sentiments of the people of Tamil Nadu for being an impediment in the process, Tamil political analysts said.

If a card is repeatedly misused by a State, that too to the extent of committing and sustaining genocide and defying all norms of civilised humanity, then citing the card and advocating for ‘reaching out’ the State is only a criminal approach to international relations that will have a domino effect. The suspicion increasingly falls on those who cite the card than the one in whose name the card is used, the analysts said.

Geopolitical preoccupations may come and go. But credibility lost will not come back and will take its toll on the blunderers. If geopolitics is the problem, change the geopolitics, bring in new equations, but abetting genocide is not the answer, the Tamil political analysts responded to the current media deliberations in the West and in South Asia that blow geopolitical sirens to push the question of the right to liberation of genocide-facing Eezham Tamils to the margin.

Speaking at a ceremony of Sri Lanka’s National Chamber of Commerce held at Hotel Hilton in Colombo, the SL Defence Secretary and presidential sibling, Gotabhaya Rajapaksa was cited saying, “The biggest threat the US can pose to Sri Lanka’s military is to take away their defence scholarships” “We can send our soldiers to China for training,” Gotabhaya added. This is the same thing Colombo told India too, when Tamil Nadu protested over India training Sri Lanka’s military, and how New Delhi uses that to justify its continued complicity in Colombo’s genocide of Eezham Tamils is well known.

The Maldivian media was equally sceptical about the West practically acting against the Rajapaksa regime. “His sacking of Sri Lanka's chief justice may have prompted new international condemnation, but analysts say President Mahinda Rajapakse is not merely impervious to foreign criticism -- he thrives off it,” The Maldivian media Haveeru said on Thursday. “Given that Western criticism of the army's actions at the end of the civil war had little impact on the government, it is unlikely to worry about the response to the impeachment," Haveeru cited Chatham House think tank’s Gareth Price telling AFP.

According to news reports, Gotabhaya speaking at Hilton has also claimed that Sri Lanka had not received any weapons assistance from the US during the war. Whether he was subtly shielding the USA from its architecture cum gang-up contribution to the genocidal war, Tamil political observers in the island ask. Meanwhile, elements close to Gotabhaya, who cast sane images in New Delhi and Washington, are actively engaged in campaigning in the US, defending the Rajapaksa regime on the SL Chief Justice impeachment case, informed circles said.

China’s continued silence over a paradigmatic misuse of its card in the genocidal context of the island is not going to help its image in the region in the long run, if it really cares for long-term achievements in the region, commented Tamil political analysts in the island.


By Neil Paul Valentino
Staff Correspondent
Jan 14, 2013

Filipino typhoon victims' new home, Tents

ANSAN, South Korea – A highly developed nations governed by good leaders whether they are Kings, Presidents, Emperors, Prime Ministers etc. A Leader is primarily the one who leads . For example, Asian countries like Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan and Hongkong had become enormously developed and advanced between 1960s and 1990s up to the present time. According to Corruption Perception Index, these advanced “Four Asian Economic Tigers” are most less corrupt countries along with Switzerland, Finland, Norway, Sweden and other Scandinavian countries. Undoubtedly, these progressive countries’ leaders were equipped, consistent, compassionate, with unquestionable integrity, in which they can deal and exert influence on people locally and globally.

Corruption on the other hand, is still existing and rampant in some countries, one of which is Philippines, it started since the regime of dictatorlal leader Ferdinand Marcos with a total control of people’s lives, until the administration of controversial President Gloria Arroyo whose governance became worser due to rampant corruptions . The country suffered slow economic growth and Political unrest as well. Based on statistics, Philippines was one of the wealthiest nations next only to Japan when the World War II ended. Filipino people suffered poverty since then - hence more Filipinos were starving to death in some other provinces. According to reports, bribery and graft were uncontrolled in several agencies of government most specially when Mrs. Arroyo was in power, most people in the less priveleged provinces are undernourished, suffering in hunger, poor became more poorer, crimes and journalists killings were increasing, virtually starving to death which made the few committed suicide due to poverty and helplessness.

Beforehand, incumbent Philippine President Aquino stressed out that he would eradicate corruption and put corrupt public officials behind bar if proven guilty. He also said that the leader must be “ A servant of the people” and people were appreciated for his humility, hence he was the only president whose late parent’s nobleness were people’s icon or “Heroes of Democracy” and his family’s clan likewise made him popular in the country and he even won the election in 2010 against closest rival, Joseph ‘Erap” Estrada. Indeed, the survey statistics showed that he won the heart of the majority, meanwhile he’s promising to fight against corruption by eradicating the depravity and bringing back the virtue and trust to the people but Mr. Aquino’s action seemed to be unsuccessful due to the controversial Priority Development Assistance Fund or known as “ Pork Barrel”. Some experts expressed fear that this fund was misused by public official for their own political self-interest, particularly in election thus the political dynasties has elevated among family politicians, and incumbent local and national clans and the result, Philippine election becomes the most expensive in the world, according to concerned Filipino lawyer.

Therefore, a group of Filipino citizens all over the world expresses one common vision in the past and many decades now, at the same time, dreaming for “Genuine and Economic Freedom,” Are we ready to dream to be one of the highly developed nations far-away from poverty and corruption ? One Overseas Filipino worker asked, “ Do we need a good leader? A leader whose integrity is indisputable and certain with humility and love to his people and nation.” Goodness in men and Love for God and country as a guiding weapon, the leader must also have strongest character to lead the nation. Furthermore, uprightness and good character public officials must honestly give to serve the people, the nation, the community and their citizenries.

According to Harry Kemp’s quote “ the poor man is he who is not without a cent, but he who is without a dream. “ Do filipino people have the right to dream that their country will also be a progressive nation such as Hongkong, South Korea, Taiwan, and Singapore known as “Four Little Asian Tigers”? Despite having suffered and endured long years of corrupt practices and misgoverned governance by former and controversial President Gloria Arroyo. So far, corruption is still existing in several and different government agencies locally and nationally. Corruption also was rampant during Mrs Arroyo’s reigns, more poor people in society suffered severe poverty and it was Arroyo’s administration party became more richer and misused the people’s money by spending it for their own Political will and worse, brought it and some deposited outside the country.

Eradicating the “pork barrel” is one way to reduce or totally clean up poverty and would be beneficial to the people and society and can also make the nation back to progress and development. Pork Barrel is one example where corruption still exists in the country. Corruption rather leads to high rates of poverty so far and many Filipinos are suffering from imbalanced distribution of wealth and opportunity. For example , a typical worker receives only inadequate wage per day in his labor and cannot sustain his family needs and even the local government does not even support any livelihood for less privelege families that made them more poorest among the poor –leaving the country to work abroad to be a domestic helper, a teacher and become abused and raped in other country.

Just Recently, in one of the networking sites shown, 19 Filipino Overseas Factory Workers in Saudi Arabia are seeking help to be repatriated as soonest as possible as they escaped from their employers due to life threatening such as physical abuse and gunpointing. Spokeman of the group stated, “ I am one of the 19 ofws filipinos asking for help, we are here , 1600 kilometers from Riyadh, province of Saudi Arabia, we are calling to any agencies of the Philippines, whoever can help us from any agency in the Philippines to send us back immediately to Philippines, some workers were physically maltreated by our employers, pointed guns at us some wanted to be killed while others brought in the desert naked and frighten to be killed, the Embassy of Philippines had provided us assistance but not enough, we are facing difficulties and hardships and we stopped working because we were physically beaten so we went away, we asked the help of OWWA or any agency to help us to expediate this problem and we cannot send support to our families too, so we need your help.”

Lessons are, Due to poverty they worked abroad and suffered uncertainties, if there are enough and adequate jobs in their own country and can earn a good living, there’s no such thing like this, working abroad and apart from families then suffered traumatic circumstances. On the contrary, there were no Koreans, Taiwanese, Singaporeans Hongkong Nationals and even Malaysians seen in the newspaper or televison crying for help to be repatriated due of maltreatment because they are comfortably working in their own countries with plenty of jobs. Likewise, there’s no Saudi Arabian national working here and suffers that kind of problem.

For instance, A newly-elect President Park Geun-hye of South Korea whose nation is consistently has achieved great economic recovery from ruins and devastation after the Korean War had called on her parliament to discuss on how to improve her people’s livelihood, "I will join forces with both the ruling and opposition parties and strive to herald the start of a new era," she said, adding that by following through on the key principle of striving for national unity and focusing on improving people's quality of life, all sides can work to enhance the happiness of the people.” She stressed out. If a new and lady leader can make it how much more our own incumbent leader who is the offspring of the ” Mother and father of Democracy” and mostly loved by the Filipino people.

However,nowadays many Filipinos are more likely to work abroad than to work locally due to lack of adequate jobs and the low wage income prompted them to work to other countries without knowing the consequences, thus insufficient income cannot sustain the needs of their family. According to economy experts, the corruption is still existing in different agencies of the government. One example is the Presidential Development Fund or known as “Pork Barrel”. One day most filipinos are dreaming to see that their nation will become an open state oriented and will be newly industrialized market economy if not next to four little asian tigers at least to be only one of them, in which people will work their expertise and skills in their own country.

Most importantly, Filipinos are hoping that the government of Mr. Aquino will play a significant role in boasting the nations’ economy to be a highly developed and advanced in the incoming years and be one of the highly developed countries of the world. It is likewise nice to see that Mr. Aquino will visit the less privileged places across the country not only when there are such disasters, moreover, fulfill his pledges to work against the total eradication of corruption for the sake of the poorest in society and for the betterment of living. President Aquino must be transparent to the less-privilege people’s cry and will focus on eradicating undying poverty and corruption and keep away the creation of a “human wall” or possible dictatorial regime that happened in the past.

Rape, the Law and the Middle Class

Special Contribution
By Walter Fernandes
Jan 3, 2013

An 18 year old girl in Badhshapur village committed suicide

The trauma of the Delhi woman who was raped has ended with her death. The atrocity roused middle class anger all over the country. Emotions ran high around this atrocious act of some drunken men and the demonstrators made demands such as death penalty for rape and castration in public. This outburst is understandable given the cruelty of the perpetrators of the crime. However, one can ask whether this will become one more case of reacting to a single case without taking cognizance of the malaise that leads to such crimes. It became a high profile case because it happened in Delhi. That does not reduce the atrocity of the crime. But for change to occur in favour of women one has to go beyond this single case and deal with the issues involved. One has to remember that what happened in Delhi is not an exception. It received publicity because it happened in the capital but many more cases are hushed up regularly or are not reported. According to police records during 2011 India witnessed 228,650 crimes against women, 24,206 of them of rape and 35,565 of kidnapping and abduction.

These are reported cases. Probably a much bigger number goes unreported because of the stigma attached to it. Secondly, according to police records around 90 percent of rapes are committed by persons known to the victim, most of them family members. Thirdly, a large number of victims belong to voiceless communities. For example, in an article in Counter-currents, Cynthia Stephen quotes a dalit girl from a village in Tamil Nadu as saying “ there is no girl in our lane who has not been coerced or raped by the dominant caste men when they go to the fields to fetch water or for work.” Men from the dominant castes threaten the dalits with dire consequences if they dare complain to the police. So these cases go unreported. Finally, often the police add to the trauma. For example, an 18 year old girl in Badhshapur village in Patiala committed suicide on December 26, six weeks after being raped by three men. Her mother reports that when she went to complain to the police they humiliated the girl with lewd question such as “how did they touch your breast? Did they open their jeans or coat first?” The criminals were arrested only after her suicide. Or take the case of the police officer in Haryana who was elevated to the highest rank though a budding tennis star had accused him of raping her. She too committed suicide because she was unable to bear the harassment. The officer was given a six month jail sentence some years after his retirement.

These and other cases are symbolic of the attitudes of our society. The middle class stages demonstration in high profile cases and ignores the rest. Also the so called national media do the same. For example, when on December 23, 2005 some university students got into a railway compartment at Kokrajhar not knowing that it was a military wagon. All of them were raped by men paid to protect the citizens. But it did not become national news. Even in Assam it remained a Bodo women’s issue, not of all women. In other words, crimes against women are a result of the strong patriarchal values of our society but are also conditioned by ethnic and caste attitudes and in many cases by a false sense of patriotism. For example when the security forces rape women people are told to protect their honour and not report those cases. The victims do not matter. Even laws such as the Armed Forces Special Powers Act protect such criminals in uniform.

Given these attitudes, one can ask whether new laws, even death penalty, can prevent such crimes. One does not deny that police reforms and strong laws are required. But they alone cannot solve the problems that are deep rooted in our culture which is visible in actions such as a few lakh female foetuses aborted every year because women are considered a burden. If all rapists were to be hanged, the victims would have to lose some of their family members who are perpetrators of these crimes. Moreover, the acceptance of the value of male superiority by most women ensures that abuses are kept secret often on the pretext of protecting the girl’s or family honour. Or take the case of the tribal customary laws in the North East that give all social power to men alone. The leaders refuse to change the laws. For example, Nagaland has not been able to hold elections to the municipal councils because of the tribal leaders’ opposition to 33 percent reservations for women. They claim that their customary law does not allow women to have political power.

It is clear then, that laws cannot change this system. Dowry, child labour, caste-based discrimination are banned by law. But they cannot be implemented without changing the attitudes that give birth to these abuses. It is as true about women’s status as about corruption, caste and ethnic attitudes. No law can become effective without a social infrastructure to support it. But the temptation of the middle class that leads the demonstrations against rape, corruption and other abuses is to take up an event in isolation and ignore the attitudes and the social systems that cause it. For example, this class rightly took up political corruption as a cause to fight against but very few of them asked whether the hands of those who protested are clean. Similarly, this class also protested against the unjust arrest and jailing of Dr Binayak Sen and that was required. But they did not question the Sedition Act or the middle class needs for which the tribals are displaced. Their impoverishment is at the root of the Maoist rebellion in Central India.

One needs to ensure that also the issue of rape does not end with one case. The gender, class and caste attitudes that cause such abuses have to be tackled. One cannot stop at condemning the politician and the police departments. That step is required but new laws can only give one peace of conscience and cannot solve the problem. One has to look inwards and examine the social and cultural values that are behind such crimes. If the Delhi rape case leads to such self-examination, the 23 year old para-medical will not have laid down her life in vain.

The author is a former director of North Eastern Social Research Centre, Guwahati.

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