The Global Digest



Nov 27, 2022 Today, we are holding a liberal democracy and freedom rights demonstration in front of the Myanmar military. Last year, 2021 the military coup which destroyed a democracy.
Military government continued conflict with ethnic minority in peripheral areas and human rights violation. It is clear that the Myanmar military attitude has been shown to be deceitful with regards to its own people and before the international community. Therefore, we, the Liberal Democracy Movement in Burma, demand that the Myanmar dictator’s regime to stop it.
Furthermore, we ask that the government of the Republic of Korea and the international community show staunch support for the cause liberal democracy in Myanmar. We also ask for a greater support for the ethnic victims from the repression and violence in Myanmar.

Bharat readies to welcome a tribal President

Special Contribution
By Nava Thakuria If one believes in the simple mathematical calculation and minimum political honesty by public representatives in the Indian Parliament and State legislative assemblies, the largest democracy on Earth is expecting a lady tribal President in New Delhi. As Draupadi Murmu, a simple Janjati family woman turned a teacher turned a politician, gets the recommendation from the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance government for the Presidential elections scheduled for 18 July next, her victory becomes almost imminent.

Hailing from Mayurbhanj locality of Odisha, who taught in Shri Aurobindo Integral Education Centre, the NDA’s Presidential candidate earlier served Jharkhand as its Governor and her own State as a minister. After arriving in New Delhi, Murmu has filed her nomination papers in presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union home minister Amit Shah, defence minister Rajnath Singh, BJP national president JP Nadda, UP chief minister Yogi Adityanath, MP CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan, Assam CM Himanta Biswa Sarma, etc. Her main opponent will be a seasoned politician, who had lately shifted his loyalty from the saffron party. Yashwant Sinha, a former Union minister, has been declared as the joint opposition candidate for the Presidential polls.

Election Commission of India had recently announced the schedule of Presidential elections as the five-year tenure of President Ram Nath Kovind comes to end on 24 July 2022. The nominations (for 18 July polling) are accepted till 29 June and the poll-result will be available on 21 July. For records, any citizen of Bharat can become the country’s President after fulfilling a few conditions. The aspirant must be at least 35 years old and he/she has the qualification to be elected as a member of Lok Sabha. On submitting the nomination, the aspirant needs 50 recognised proposers and 50 seconders. Unlike other democratic nations, the common Indias do not elect their President directly, but the Head of the Republic is voted by the people’s representatives (meaning the Parliamentarians and Legislators) with the basis of Electoral College. It includes 543 members of Lok Sabha (the lower house of Parliament), 233 members in Rajya Sabha (the upper house) and 4,033 members of legislative assemblies across the vast country. Value of an MP’s vote in Presidential elections varies with the total number of Legislators in State (including Union Territories) legislative assemblies. An MLA’s vote-value depends on the number of electorates of the concerned State/UT.

The ruling BJP has 92 Rajya Sabha members (including four nominated MPs, who cannot vote) and 301 Lok Sabha MPs, which is more than the half of combined strength of both the houses. The saffron party also enjoys support from its alles like Janata Dal-United, Rashtriya Lok Janshakti Party, Apna Dal, Asom Gana Parishad, Mizo National Front, National People’s Party, etc. As the BJP retains power in 18 States, it enjoys impressive numbers (along with the political allies) among Legislators too. Meanwhile, in Murmu’s home State, the Biju Janata Dal government chief Naveen Patnaik urged all political parties of Odisha to support her (even though they are not NDA allies). Patnaik, who is in power for over two decades, also appealed to the opposition parties to withdraw their candidate (Yashwant Sinha). Andhra Pradesh chief minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy indicates his party YSRCP may support Murmu. Others which may join the league comprise BSP (Uttar Pradesh), TRS (Telangana), AAP (Delhi & Punjab), JMM (Jharkhand), AIADMK (Tamil Nadu), etc.

For the ruling BJP, there were a number of choices for the Presidential polls including the incumbent vice-President Venkaiah Naidu and a few reputed Governors of different States. But the party, which has been facing public angers (ofen turned violent) for the Nupur Sarma-Profet Muhammad controversy, Agniveer defece policy, other burning issues, silently picked up an efficent and honest Santhal political personality to replace a Dalit (Kovind is the second Dalit President of India after KR Narayanan) in Rashtrapati Bhawan. The struggling life of Murmu can also impress anyone who looks through her days from a poor tribal family to complete her studies at Bhubaneswar Ramadevi Women’s College against all odds. Born on 20 June 1958, Murmu started her career as a teacher before joining the Odisha politics. She was elected to the State legislative assembly twice as a BJP member. Murmu served various portfolios as a minister of the State government in Bhubaneswar. Incidentally she became the first woman Governor of Jharkhand (2015 to 2021).

Her first reaction over the development was a big surprise. ‘I am surprised, I was not able to believe it,’ said Murmu while speaking to journalists and added that she would work with the constitutional guidelines if elected to the coveted post. PM Modi in an initial tweet commented that Murmu has a rich administrative experience and had an outstanding gubernatorial tenure. Meanwhile, the Akhil Bharatiya Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram (ABVKA), backed by BJP’s influential ideologue Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, termed Murmu’s candidature as a historic moment for 120 million Janajati people of India. “Janajatis are an integral constituent of tradition and inheritors of an esteemed culture of the great Indian nation. However they have been overlooked and disregarded for many centuries,” said Ramchandra Kharadi, president of ABVKA, which is identified as India’s largest tribal non-government welfare organisation. He asserted that a historical decision has been taken to nominate a Santhali Janajati lady as the Presidential candidate when the nation is celebrating the glorious 75th years of its independence.

Power and Glory in Times of Disease and Death

Special Contribution
By Pushkar Raj

As the weeks long birthday festivity of the leadership is rejoiced country wide, the covid is still ragging. The carnival is in line with the post covid decisions and actions of the leadership demonstrating a pursuit of personal power and glory instead of national interest in the times of disease and death. The national interest, a term synonymous with the public interest and welfare, means protection of people’s life and liberty as a value, over and above those enshrined in the constitution, such as democracy, socialism, and secularism. Notwithstanding government figures, as many as 3.4 to 4.7 million people may have died due to the pandemic in the country so far, with hundreds being added daily to the growing numbers. These numbers are notable because, in the beginning of the pandemic, when ten people died in March 2020, the supreme leadership of the country, without prior consultations, declared a nationwide lock down at hours’ notice saying: “No doubt we will have to pay a cost for this, but to save the life of every Indian is the priority for me, government of India…”. Addressing the nation on the Independence Day 2020, he said that the medical infrastructure was in place to fight the pandemic coupled with ‘around the clock vaccine research’ assuring protection from the disease.

But in early May-June of 2021, hundreds of citizens died across the country on ventilators for lack of oxygen supply, as the federal government fought states in the Supreme Court for oxygen distribution while hapless families watched their loved ones die on streets. Even the dead waited for hours to be cremated for lack of space and some washed ashore. The situation was so bad that the country was on knees for aid for which World Health Organisation sought donations. Did it happen because the leadership was short of funds being a poor third world country? Apparently, it was not so, as the ‘leadership’ had 9,677.9 crore ($1.27 billion) collected in a few weeks, donated by the Indians, from across the world, to fight the disease, opaquely under disposal- The PM Care fund. Besides. It is presiding over a post GST (ranging 4 to 28 per cent) rich government to hilt, evident from its spending spree, unsparing even Gandhian and historical memorials that are being converted into picnic spots with public money.

The cause, however, rests with the ideologically conditioned values of leadership that inspire decisions leading to augmentation of personal power and glory at the cost of public interest. Public Interest vs. Personal Power and Glory The decisions of the leaders of republics are informed by values enshrined in the constitution. Even those who might be contemptuous to a sworn document, the value of the public good is inescapable therefore, leaders, spare no effort to convince the masses that they live and breathe for them. As history is harsh on the power and glory seeking emperors and politicians, therefore none admits to it; however, they are betrayed by their choices in decisions and priorities on actions. In March 2020, the leadership declared a nationwide lock down to save lives claiming the national interest. However, as the later events revealed, the lockdown instead of containing the virus and saving lives, merely demonstrated to the world that the country was ruled by a ‘great’ leader who could, shut down 1.3 billion people, as if they were animals in a zoo, without following any law and procedure. It also relayed an image of a coerced, controlled, submissive India ruled by a strong, decisive but an unresponsive leadership.

Otherwise, how could one explain death of hundreds of migrant laborers due to hunger and exhaustion who scrambled to reach their homes walking hundreds of miles across hinterland, harassed by an exploitive police force. It is inexplicable that a leadership claiming working-class background is oblivious of conditions and numbers of migrants in major cities and how they commute back their homes in rural India? In early days, more people died struggling to reach home than the virus itself. Secondly, saving lives was never a priority as when 1501 people were dying daily in April 2021, the leadership was addressing political rallies to win ‘power’ in Bengal, facilitating thousands to congregate without masks and spreading disease despite opposition protestations. Longing for Legacy Though power and glory seeking individuals covet structural legacies, like a stadium named after them here or a statue erected there but building a residential complex for himself and colleagues on a war footing, during a war like pandemic, is surprising. Besides, regrettably, the Central Vista Project, costing about 13000 crore (US$1.8 billion, close to Antilia) of public money, would efface a few iconic buildings of ‘Delhi’, an entity’s journey from millenniums to the present.

Therefore, howsoever magnificent the new ‘Elite House’, it is likely to be weighed down by the memory of people and history lost during its rise. Such legacies, against karmic ones, suffer from the intrinsic flaws, e.g., Shah Jahan, who for a mausoleum, Taj Mahal, duressed thousands of hapless craftsmen for decades, leaving a monument tainted for several reasons, including, as Urdu poet, Sahir Ludhyanvi put it, symbolising a king’s way of ridiculing poor folks’ love. The hurried foundation of ‘Ram temple’ fuelling a faith fury across north India, had nothing to with public interest or service (refer to secularism in the preamble of constitution) than a pursuit for power in approaching elections and adulation beyond them. However, these actions facilitated covid to travel far and wide finally leading to visuals of half buried dead bodies on riverbanks, revealing impoverishment of people in the country where cremation is a tradition. Regrettably, the misery of masses is made to appear normal by organising a flurry of celebrations with scarce national resources. Truth vs Insinuation This has occurred because ‘truth’ as a value is being sought to be replaced with what, Italian writer, Umberto Eco calls insinuations- giving facts that are valueless in themselves yet cannot be denied because they are true.

Take for example, the leadership’s 2021 Independence Day address, which discussed the inherited sick system of the past, applauded over a single Olympic gold medal of the present, and painted a dazzling picture of a glorious future wetted with occasionally suitable scheme statistics. This obsession with the past and future coupled with a linguistic vagueness is a deliberate strategy to cover up the contemporary social truth. But, the social truth or reality, cannot be hidden, shut, or suppressed. As the saying goes, ‘if one shuts door on reality, it peeps through the window’ and to borrow Bob Dylan’s lines, ‘begins to blow in the wind’, like, as a Gujarati poet translated in English observed: Don’t worry, be happy, in one voice speak the corpses... O King, in your Ram-Rajya, we see bodies flow in the Ganges...

The writers are defender of truth. what they think today, society does tomorrow, adding to power and glory’s sorrow. The writer is Melbourne based Researcher and Author.

Tibet sympathizers to lodge protest against China’s aggression

Special Contribution
By Nava Thakuria
Guwahati: Bharat Tibbat Sahyog Manch, an umbrella body of Indians supporting the Tibet Mukti Sadhana (Tibetan freedom movement) has decided to observe forthcoming 20 October as a protest day against the Communist regime in Beijing as the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) attacked simultaneously on Ladakh and Arunachal Pradesh (then North East Frontier Agency) on this date in 1962. The India-Tibetan cooperation forum along with other India-Tibet support groups has decided to organize the protest demonstration to send a strong message to Beijing asserting that India would safeguard its territory at any cost. The other message to New Delhi is intended to narrate that Sino-India relations can not progress unless the issue of Tibet is amicably resolved and His Holiness 14th Dalai Lama regains his Potala palace in a dignified manner.

The main function is scheduled to be held in Tawang of Arunachal Pradesh, which often Beijing claims as the southern part of occupied Tibet. Planned to organize it with supports from India-Tibet support groups, the program is likely to be graced by newly elected Sikyong (President of Central Tibetan Administration, Dharamshala) Penpa Tsering, who is recognized as the highest political leader for the exile Tibetans across the world. The visiting Tibetan President is also scheduled to meet representatives of civil society groups and media personalities in Guwahati, address a press meet in Tezpur, visit Tibetan settlements in Shillong, Tezu, Miao, Tenzingang, Bomdila, Tuting, etc and also pay respects to Mother Goddess Kamakhya and mighty river Brahmaputra which originates in Tibet.

Paying tributes to all Indian soldiers who made supreme sacrifices during the Chinese aggression and also commemorating Bharat Ratna Dr Bhupen Hazarika, who created some extra ordinary songs on Burha Luit (Brahmaputra) along with the people in the valley and after the 1962 war he dared to term China as an enemy nation through his immortal song, are also on the card. “Aggressive Chinese forces showed utter disrespects to the rules framed by Panchsheel treaty, signed by China and India on 29 April 1954. We want to protest against the assault over India’s trust on the Beijing administration,” said Rinchen Khandu Khrimey, national convenor for the core group for Tibetan cause- India, while addressing a selected nationalist citizens on 30 July 2021 in the city.

The former member of Indian Parliament, who hails from Arunachal Pradesh, commented that Tibet is the real neighbour to India (not China) and its independence would benefit the largest democracy in the globe tremendously. Khrimey claimed that as Tibet is with the truth, it would soon break the clutches of China and emerge as a sovereign nation. He also hinted that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s recent birthday wishes to HH Dalai Lama brought a fresh hope for the millions of Tibetans. Khrimey however expected more from the energetic saffron leader so that the exile Tibetans can return back to the Himalayan landscape and lead a peaceful life under a progressive democratic government after shifting from Dharamshala to Lhasa.

Addressing the meeting, Soumyadeep Datta, regional convener of the core group, stated that China was waging an ecological war against India as it was exploiting the huge fresh water resource in the Tibetan plateau and also diverting a huge volume of the water from Yarlung Tsangpo affecting the Brahmaputra valley civilization. A brochure documenting the Tibetan movement in Assamese was also released. Conducted by Jigmey Tsultrim from India Tibet coordination office, the meeting was also addressed by dedicated Tibet support group leaders Surendra Kumar, SK Chandravanshi, Ruby Mukherjee, Wangdi Dorjee Khrimey, Urvashi Mahanta, along with the members of Free Tibet- A voice from Assam namely Rupam Barua, Jagadindra Raichoudhury, Pramod Kalita, Nayan Bhuyan, Novanita Sarma, Kankana Das, etc.

Concern expressed over complete net-down in Myanmar

Special Contribution
By Nava Thakuria

Guwahati: After the military coup in Myanmar on 1 February 2021, the junta has now cut down internet services across the south-east Asian country from Monday (15 February) seemingly to start an aggressive military action against millions of pro-democracy Burmese protesters and thus put their securities in danger, stated Press Emblem Campaign (PEC), a Switzerland based media watchdog.

Local sources in Myanmar (earlier known as Burma) confirmed that the military generals have deployed armed personnel across the country as anti-coup protest-demonstrations continued to hit the streets. After arresting Nobel laurate pro-democracy icon Daw Aung San Suu Kyi along with hundred others, the military authority has imposed the near-total internet shutdown in the country.

“Myanmar based journalists have faced a major challenge to perform their duties in newfound restrictions under the military rule. It seems the military generals have declared an undeclared war against its own people. The development will only ruin the prospect of Myanmar emerging as a sustained multi-party democracy,” commented Blaise Lempen, secretary-general of PEC (

The military authority under senior general Min Aung Hlaing earlier temporarily restricted fixed telephone lines, mobile services, internet connections in different parts of Myanmar and later it was restored in staggered manners. Armoured vehicles were seen in several places including its present capital Naypyidaw, former capital Yangon, ancient capital Mandalay, etc. Reports are pouring about military accesses against the protesters.

Lately the top general Hlaing, who is dreaming of becoming the Presidential, announced that he would arrange free and fair general elections after the completion of one year emergency period. But not subscribing his promises, many journalists now seek to leave Myanmar for their neighbouring nations like Thailand, India, Bangladesh, etc, informed PEC’s India representative Nava Thakuria, who has an extra responsibility on Myanmar.

International reactions remain spontaneous. The UN Human Rights Council on Friday adopted unanimously a resolution calling for the state of emergency to be lifted and for the immediate and unconditional release of all those arbitrarily detained in Myanmar. US President Joe Biden and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi discussed about the nation and agreed in resolving that the rule of law and democratic process should be upheld urgently in the country of golden pagodas.


Special Contribution
By Roland Watson(dictatorwatch)
Dec 17, 2020

(Note: I wrote this for a discussion on Facebook, about Burma's 2014 national census, and more broadly the fight for ethnic nationality rights in the country.) It is important to understand the political dimension of the government's refusal to publish the ethnic census data set. The Bamar consider Burma to be THEIR country. Under Than Shwe, the current setup is the 4th Bamar Empire. Following the 1962 coup (which itself followed the 1958 coup), and which was done to protect Bamar power, the Panglong Agreement, which was the foundation to create federated multi-ethnic control, was abandoned. The coup and everything since (notably the divide and conquer civil war strategy) has been designed to keep the ethnic nationalities down.

This is reflected in the ethnic census data. Before 2014, no one knew how many people there were in the country and what groups they identified with. There had been no reliable census for over half a century, and the dictatorship's mythical "135 national races" was itself intended to reduce ethnic nationality numbers and power. But in 2014 people were counted. And it was a simple analytical task to strip the 135 down to the real groups and find out how many Bamar people there were, and Karen, and Shan, etc. But the government wouldn't release the results. Why? Because they would reveal that Burma is not a Bamar 70% majority country, as they always liked to say (and which lie media around the world continue to spew to this day!). Instead, Bamar, certainly 100% Bamar (not mixed group, and there are many), are likely less than a majority - maybe a lot less.

This is extremely significant. If the Bamar aren't above 50%, they lose their statistical argument that Burma is their country (ignoring the fact that it is actually a colonial construct, first with the real Bamar empires - which were based on genocide, and then the British, and now back to the Bamar). This explains why the Bamar Supremacist government won't publish the results. But who is the government? The census is under the Ministry of Immigration, Population and Labor, which is under Suu Kyi. It is essential to recognize that it is Suu Kyi herself who is censoring the results (not only dictating what can be passed and even debated in Parliament).

So why is that? Simple. Because Suu Kyi, at her core, is a Bamar Supremacist, and likely has been her entire life. She refused to have anything to do with the ethnic pro-democracy rebellions following her return after 1988, although there were opportunities. She always kept her NLD separate, even behind the scenes. (I know this because the EAOs formed a series of ethnic alliances, and I knew their leaders, and there was never real contact much less coordination). So, when push came to shove, Suu Kyi was faced with a choice, stand for democracy and stand up to the military (not just be a symbol), or join with the military and help keep the Bamar supreme, even though they likely aren't the majority and also because tyranny by any group, majority or minority, is not democracy. She chose the former, joining with her "friends" with whom she has "warm feelings." Real democracy can wait.

All the discussion that has been going on for years about Suu Kyi and Min Aung Hlaing being opposed to each other is nonsense. Sure they have disagreements. They are fighting for POWER. But regarding the goal of complete Burmanization of the country, they are in complete accord. That's why few ethnic leaders were given posts in the 2015 government, even in their own states, and why the current olive branch to create a "unity government," as most ethic leaders understand very well, is meaningless. Nothing is going to change. Burmanization will continue. The military dictatorship will get stronger. And the natural environment, what remains, will be ruined by development.

Conduct Impartial Inquiry into Questionable Obstruction of Public Pathways by Provincial Armed Constabulary

June 12, 2020,

Students leader Richa Singh

Withdraw Malafide FIR against activist Richa Singh and residents of Sudamapuri (UP)
National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM) expresses solidarity with the ongoing people’s struggle against alleged arbitrary obstruction of public pathway by the Provincial Armed Force (PAC) of Uttar Pradesh Govt. in Sitapur District. We also express outrage at the fact that instead of taking action against the high-handedness of the PAC, an ill-conceived FIR has been registered against activist Richa Singh and other residents of Sudamapuri, the site of the struggle.

The issue at hand pertains to alleged unlawful construction of barricades at the 90-year old Napier Road in Sudamapuri area of Sitapur in the last week of May. Despite being a public road, officially registered with the Municipality of Sitapur (as per a 2015 govt document), Napier road has seen occasional ‘encroachment’ by 11th Battalion of PAC, Sitapur. PAC or Pradeshik Armed Constabulary is armed wing of UP Police, maintained at key locations across the state and functions in specified instances, upon direction from the senior police officials. Reportedly, on 29th May, the PAC stealthily began erecting gates on three corners of the Napier road. When this was intimated to the local officials, the EO, Sitapur Municipality visited the site on the morning of 30th May and assured that the matter would be resolved in 3 days and that no gates must be erected. However, on the morning of 31st, the PAC suddenly stated erecting gates again. When Richa Singh of Sangatin Kisan Mazdoor Sangathan (SKMS - NAPM, Uttar Pradesh) and few other women protested this highhandedness, immediately around 500 PAC constabulary descended on the scene and surrounded them, in a clear attempt to scare and muzzle any questioning.

Soon thereafter, other senior officials of the district administration arrived to assess the situation. Later in the day, Richa was called to the Municipality office (Nagar Palika), then to the Collector’s house and then again to the Nagar Palika on the 1st June for discussions regarding the same. However, even as the matter was under consideration, the PAC went ahead and erected the gates after 12 am on 1st June. What was even more outlandish is that the same day, (31st May) an FIR was registered under Sec 188 IPC (disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant), Sec 269 IPC (negligent act likely to spread infection of disease dangerous to life) and Sec 270 IPC (malignant act likely to spread infection of disease dangerous to life) as well as Sec 3 of the Epidemic Act, 1897 against Richa Singh, residents of Sudamapuri Pankaj Mishra, Sakeel, Arvind Srivastav, Vakeel and 20 other ‘unknown’ persons !

In what has now extended over 12 days, the district has seen multiple citizens delegations visit offices of senior officials as well as protests by people of Sudamapuri and other people’s organizations in the area, demanding dropping of these arbitrary charges. However, in a textbook example of collusion of bureaucratic powers, the district authorities seem to be keen on supporting the PAC, rather than the people of Sudamapuri. Instead of inquiring into the matter in an impartial way, the authorities have suggested that people take an ‘alternative route’ via the ‘Mall Road’. The locals have objected on the ground that this route has dense forests on either side, and is unsafe for travellers, especially women. It is indeed intriguing as to how PAC authorities allowed disregard of Covid-lockdown norms by assembling huge number of jawans on the 31st May. Moreover, there appears no patent urgency to have pushed this construction without taking the locals into confidence. Instead, the residents and activists are now being hounded by false charges. A bare perusal of the FIR reveals that it is devoid of any substance and makes completely baseless allegations that Richa and others ‘ran away from the Napier road site’, whereas, in reality, they were very much there, in the presence of all senior district officials.

NAPM demands that the FIR against Richa Singh and all other residents of Sudamapuri be immediately withdrawn. An inquiry must be initiated into this entire episode, leading to a completely ill-motivated and factually wrong FIR.

We also demand that an independent inquiry be conducted into the issue of arbitrary erection of gates by PAC on what is claimed to be Municipality land and accordingly a quick decision be taken on the right of the local communities to public pathway.

We stand in solidarity with the residents of Sudamapuri and the local people, especially women, who have been resiliently protesting this high handedness of the administration, in Covid times.

We also warn governments against arbitrary use of law, including the Epidemics Act against activists, who are infact working day and night during lockdown to assist the affected people, especially migrant workers.

Constitutional Loss in Jammu and Kashmir

Sepcial Contribution
By Pushkar Raj

Crisis in Jammu and Kashmir

Last month, the government of India with a presidential reference abrogated Article 370 of the constitution that gave special status to the state under its agreement of annexation with India in 1947. Under the article the state had its own constitution, flag and assembly to guard its autonomy, but now it would be governed from New Delhi.

Constitutional impropriety

On face, it seems within the government’s jurisdiction, but for the reason that the said article itself defined its terms of demise providing that such a recommendation must come from the Constituent Assembly, later replaced with the words "legislative assembly" by a government order in 1952, makes it untenable. As per law the recommendations must have come from the legislative assembly of the state, which was recently dissolved. However, the government decided to bestow all the powers of the assembly to an unrepresentative governor, empowering him to recommend to the president that he issue an order effecting the change. This is stretching the rule of law to a farce and sets a new low in political machinations for political gains at the cost of the constitutional propriety. One would not fault the government to have taken this step after duly calling election and gaining consent of the assembly, but the will of a nominated governor is not equivalent to will of the people. Article 370 was an important element of the constitution, serving as an extension of the principle of federalism that provides for division of powers between the central government and the states under Part IX of the constitution. Reducing a state to a status of a union territory and usurping its powers through an executive order is tampering with the federal character of India, which according to Article 1(a) of the constitution “shall be a union of states.” The action sets a precedent for similar high handedness approach to ‘integration’ in relation to many north eastern states that enjoy similar relationship with the centre as Jammu and Kashmir did.

Fall of Freedom and secularism

In the aftermath of the decision, the government has taken tough security measures in Kashmir. The Internet is shut down, paralysing communication obstructing treatment in hospitals, education in schools and communication with loved ones. More than 3,000 people are in custody and police are monitoring streets. It is a state of emergency asphyxiating more than 7 million people and all seems to be happening lawfully with public support. On the contrary people should worry that what goes on in Kashmir today can happen in any part of the country tomorrow. In the name of fighting terrorism in Kashmir, the government has acquired extraordinary powers. It has recently acquired powers to declare an individual a terrorist. This is bizarre, as any intellectual could be dubbed an "Urban Naxal", called anti-national and linked with terrorism. Given the government’s grip on social and electronic media and the status of the police, it is a stick in the hands of any government to crush any dissent in a pluralist country needing no formal declaration of civil emergency.

While the regions of Jammu has welcomed the government’s action, the Kashmir is extremely resentful amid reports of protests and curfews revealing religious polarization in the state, as Jammu comprises majority of Hindus while Kashmir is nearly all Muslim. This is a depressing news for secularism as Jammu and Kashmir, the only Muslim-majority state, co-existed with majority-Hindu India under the assurance of secularism under which it felt protected. That protection seems to have gone now, at the same time unnerving about 170 million Muslims in the rest of the country who already feel threatened by an increased communal polarisation. On a positive side, the move has benefited tens of thousands of west Pakistani refugees and scheduled castes who were deprived of basic human rights like voting and employment in government and could not buy or sell property despite living in the state for more than 70 years. The political leadership of the Kashmir Valley failed to rise to the expectations of these marginalized groups despite several protests. Besides, hundreds of thousand Kashmiri pandits too might now hope to dispose their properties of honourably and feel less exiled than earlier as revocation of article 370 was one of their main demands.

No easy road to peace

The government’s argument is that it has taken this step for greater capital investment from burgeoning corporate sector of the country boosting development of the region and providing employment to youth, weaning them away from radicalization. This could have been possible in a secular India where rule of law was sacrosanct, but in today's highly communalized atmosphere, it does not hold much promise. It is noticeable that Islamic radicalization in Kashmir is closely linked to the rise of Hindu fanaticism in Indian polity and governance. It is unrealistic to wish one away while stoking the other, as manifested in unabated lynching of Muslims in the country and acquittals of the accused. The government’s action is likely to be fiercely resisted and lead to a long drawn battle with militancy in the valley. With political support from Pakistan and Taliban coming closer to power in Afghanistan, prospect of peace in Kashmir seems far off from horizon.

Mounting demand for conferring Bharat Ratna on Dalai Lama

Special Contribution
By Nava Thakuria

At the Tibet Support Groups’ Conference

Dharamshala: Indian supporters for a free Tibet have urged the Union government in New Delhi to confer Bharat Ratna, the country’s highest civilian honour, on the Tibetan spiritual leader His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama for his immense contributions in creating goodwill for India in the last six decades.

In a declaration, adopted in the 6th All India Tibet Support Groups’ Conference held on 15 and 16 June in Dharamshala township of Himachal Pradesh under the chairmanship of Rinchin Khandu Khrimey, national convener of Core Group for Tibetan Cause (CGTC), it was accomplished that the Nobel laureate continues to be a holy ambassador of Indian culture enriched with non-violence, compassion and religious harmony.

The Dharamshala declaration also called upon New Delhi to prevail over the People’s Republic of China for a constructive negotiation with the representatives of Central Tibetan Administration (formerly Tibetan government in exile) under the guidance of Dalai Lama for the sustainable solution of Tibet issue.

It also appealed to the international community to support the Dharamshala based CTA in its relentless pursuit for a peaceful resolution to Tibetan issues comprising the quest of millions of Tibetans (inside and outside Tibet) for dignity, justice and peace in their land, which has been occupied by the Communist regime in Beijing since 1959.

The declaration insisted on complete freedom of language and culture pursued by the Tibetan Buddhists with an end to repressions over the people and exploitations of natural resources inside Tibet which might have severe ecological implications to various neighbouring countries like India, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Cambodia, Thailand etc.

Over 200 delegates from 21 States of India, while attending the two-day conference, organized by the CGTC, an apex coordinating body of Tibet support groups in India and facilitated by the India Tibet Coordination Office in New Delhi, strongly condemned the Chinese government for systemic violations of human rights under its illegal occupation over the land of Dalai Lama and also the militarization of Tibetan plateau threatening the peace across the Indian sub-continent.

The conference commemorated the 60th year since the first ever Tibet support convention held at Kolkata in May 1959 under the leadership of under the leadership of Loknayak Jayprakash Narayan soon after Pawanpujya Dalai Lama with many fellow Tibetans fled to India with an aim to escape Chinese oppressions.

Mentioning about the Kolkata convention, Dr Anand Kumar, general secretary, India Tibet Friendship Society, commented that the little assembly of responsible citizens helped nurturing a big river of consciousness, humanity and solidarity for Tibetan causes in present time. He also termed the Tibetan transition as remarkable for their wisdom, commitment and resilience against a mightiest empire in the world.

Addressing the inaugural session, Indresh Kumar, patron of Bharat Tibbat Sahyog Manch, termed Beijing’s recent political and military advances as a threat to India’s national security. He disclosed that the conflict-ridden India-China border was once used to be a friendly boundary between India and Tibet. An ideologist of Rashtriya Swayang Sewak, Kumar however asserted that New Delhi won’t deter from taking strong actions against the Chinese advance.

Earlier delivering the keynote address, Tibetan leader Dr Lobsang Sangay expressed his warmth and gratitude to India and its people for generous supports to the Tibetan authority saying that no other country has done (or can do) more than India and none could be helpful for Tibet than the people of India. CTA President Sangay explained about the middle way approach for resolving Tibetan issues.

A Hindi translation of Sangay’s boot tilted ‘Tibet was Never Part of China but the Middle Way Approach Remains a Viable Solution’ was released in the function, where the bright and highly educated Tibetan leader highlighted on their demand for the genuine autonomy for Tibetan people with emphasizes on constitutional rights for preserving their distinct language and culture.

Khrimey, a former Parliamentarian from Arunachal Pradesh, expressed confidence that Dalai Lama would get the opportunity to return to Potala of Lasha in his life time with dignity and prides. He however disclosed that people of northeast India would prefer His Holiness to return to Lasha through the same route through Arunachal borer as he took sixty years back.

Others who spoke in the conference included Dr Abanti Bhattacharya, professor on Chinese Studies in Delhi University, Prof Ramu Manivannam from Madras University, Thinlay Chukki, CTA information & international relations officer, Dechen Palmo, CTA research fellow, Ajai Singh, president of India Tibet Friendship Association, Vijay Kranti, journalist from Doordarshan, Surender Kumar, co-convener of CGTC, where the closing session was graced by Choekyong Wangchuk, heath minister in CTA, Dharamshala.

The author is a Guwahati (northeast India) based journalist

Appropriating an Icon: RSS Celebrates Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose

Special Contribution
By Ram Puniyani

A statue of Subhash Chandra Bose

On this 23rd January BJP-RSS organized various programs to honor Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose. In one of these programs, a clash took place leading to a curfew in Kendrapada, Orissa. In different meeting organized by BJP-RSS attempt was made to draw parallels between Bose and Savarkar, Bose and RSS. Propaganda is on to show that it was on Savarkar’s suggestion that Bose undertook to tie up with axis powers (Germany and Japan). Parallels are being drawn between RSS and INA (Azad Hind Fauz). Now all attempts are on to show that Bose’s nationalism was close to that of Savarkar-RSS.

RSS combine is trying to praise Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose as the one who gave legitimacy to struggle for Independence against British. When did this combine realize the contributions of this great freedom fighter? Or for that matter the question comes did RSS combine ever want to struggle against British rule? It is last few years that these attempts to identify with national icons are going on. While in case of Sardar Patel the propaganda is that had he been the first Prime Minster of India we would not have had Kashmir problem, we would has progressed more. The truth in this matter is that Patel and Nehru were two solid pillars of Indian Cabinet who gave foundations to Indian republic. The differences among them were of minor nature and Patel was the most trusted Cabinet colleague for Nehru,

As far as Subhash Chandra Bose, Netaji, is concerned we know that he is one of the major freedom fighters of India. He was part of Indian National Congress most of his life and was its President of Tripura session in 1939. Within Congress he was part of the Socialist group. He and Nehru had matching ideas on issues of socialism, secularism among others. He did fallout from Congress on the issue of method of getting freedom. While Gandhi led Congress wanted to adopt the path of non violence, Netaji did not see eye to eye on this issue. For getting freedom for India, Congress launched ‘Quit India’ movement to build the anti British pressure and this gave boost to the freedom struggle. During Second World War Netaji’s approach was to launch armed military action against British by collaborating with axis powers (Japan and Germany), that’s how he set up INA. He also formed free India’s provisional Government in Singapore on 21st October 1943. He has been a charismatic leader who was thoroughly anti British.

Undoubtedly Congress was firm in the path of non violence. It launched the Quit India movement which was led by Mahatma Gandhi. Bose did develop some differences on the matter of fighting against British. He resorted to tying up with the Fascist Germany and its ally Japan. What were RSS and Hindu nationalists doing at this point of time? Hindutva ideologue Savarkar, the progenitor of Hindutva and Hindu nation ideology, propagated at that time that Hindu nationalists should help British in their war efforts against Japan and Germany. RSS Sarsanghchalak M. S. Golwalkar also went on to instruct all its branches not to do anything which will annoy British and kept aloof from the anti British struggles. So while Congress was putting pressure on British through Quit India movement, Netaji was fighting British through INA, Savarkar was proactively helping British by helping them in recruitment for armed forces. In a way RSS did nothing which went against British rule. So here with a forked tongue Hindu nationalists on one hand were supporting the British in their war efforts (Savarkar) or keeping aloof (Golwalkar-RSS), on the other now they are eulogizing Netaji for his anti British INA!

While Netaji was Socialist, close to ideas held by Nehru, Golwalkar went on to write that Communists are internal threat to the Hindu nation. While BJP at the time of its formation used the word Gandhian Socialism, it was a mere electoral Jumla (gimmick). The ideology and actions of Netaji and Hindu nationalists-RSS were poles apart. So why are they projecting him today? Why are they trying show similarities which are not there? Essentially as RSS did not participate in freedom movement, it does not have any national icon. RSS’s Atal Bihari Vajpayee at that time was a young college student who during Quit India movement was jailed by mistake; he apologized and got himself released. Savarkar since he was Anti British before being imprisoned in Andman jail has been glorified as the brave warrior by prefixing Veer (Brave) to his name. He also had apologized to the British and got released from the jail. Mostly the communal nationalists, Muslim League-Hindu Mahasabha-RSS never took anti British stance. This should be the defining point for Indian nationalism. Congress and Bose were anti British to the core, so their nationalism in a way has similar wave length despite some differences.

When INA of Bose was being tried by British for their anti War actions against British, it was the likes of Nehru who defended the INA, none from Hindu Nationalist camp came forward to defend Bose and his colleagues during the trial by British. It is only for electoral reasons that now RSS-BJP need to identify with the likes of Patel and Bose. They are actively trying to dig up some points here and there to get a ride on the back of legends like Patel and Bose. So far Sardar Patel has been projected and now it’s Netaji’s turn! Their central opposition is to Indian nationalism. They vilify Jawaharlal Nehru who stood rock solid in defense of secularism and democracy. Since RSS wants to oppose the Nehru legacy, Congress on electoral ground, RSS keeps propping up icons like these. While these icons had some differences with Nehru, they essentially were on similar wave length as far as secular democratic values are concerned. These projections of Patel and Netaji are mere electoral ploys to garner more power!


Special Contribution
By Roland Watson(dictatorwatch)
Nov 14, 2018

Midterms Election

Representative democracy has many different principles and institutions. However, there are three basic premises: - Everyone is allowed to participate - to vote. - You can count the vote. - Voters are able to make informed choices, reflecting their own interests and also what is good for the country.

1. For the first, the obvious hurdle is that there must be no discrimination - denial of the vote based on gender, ethnicity or race, religion, wealth, party affiliation, or even age. For the U.S. Midterms, this was largely - although insincerely - satisfied. Anyone who wanted to - and persevered - could vote. The only material case of actual voter blocking was Florida's ban of criminals who have completed their sentences, now reversed by the passage of Amendment 4. Without this ban, though, the results for the State could well have been different. For a number of posts the Republicans had only tiny advantages, and which were in the process of being challenged at the time of this article's publication.

Being allowed to vote also extends to the issue of being able. There were many states where the Republicans attempted to suppress the Democrat vote, through such things as the purging of voter rolls; requiring Voter ID; requiring exact signature, name and address matches; and providing inadequate polling locations. This was most notable in North Dakota and Georgia, and for the latter may have affected the outcome. In particular for the election of Governor, although the race has not yet been called, the Democrat candidate clearly was harmed.

A final and unspoken part of the premise is that a vote is a vote - that all votes are equal. Republican gerrymandering of State districts has sabotaged this. In such districts Democrat votes effectively count for less, since they are not fairly apportioned throughout the state. Gerrymandering has destroyed the idea that everyone can vote. Were there no gerrymandering, Democrats would have significantly higher representation in the House. This in turn would affect not only Congressional agendas and outcomes, it would change the entire national atmosphere, and which in turn would likely impact the occupancy of both the Senate and the Presidency. Conclusion: We can therefore say that fulfillment of the first premise FAILED. Republicans manipulated the system to create an undemocratic advantage. (Proof of this of is the oft-mentioned observation that if the reverse occurred, if Democrats conspired to perpetrate all of these acts, Republicans would be outraged.)

2. The second premise comprises a variety of issues, including technical - that voting machines are provided in sufficient numbers to prevent long lines and that they function properly, and also the risk of computer hacking. Again, in Republican-controlled states for Democrat-heavy areas, there were many different problems. It is uncertain though if these incidents affected the final outcome. For hacking, either by Party agents or foreign actors, it does not appear that the polls were rigged, through tampering with voter registrations or with the actual polls.

But, there were other counting issues as well. In the days after the election, Republicans in Arizona, Florida and Georgia overtly attempted to block Democrat votes, for seats still in question. They did this by trying to stop the counting of mail-in and absentee ballots, and provisional ballots. The last are cast when a voter at the polls either does not meet ID demands or when their ID or signatures do not have the aforementioned exact matches with registration records. We can say that for these states the Republicans strove to rig the outcome. Conclusion: While here again the Republicans attempted to suppress the Democrat vote, through making the process arduous and more deeply through voter intimidation - creating fear, it does appear, with the exception - again at the time of this article's publication - of the mentioned states, that the final technical tally was a SUCCESS. The overall result was not affected.

3. The last premise of course is that we can make informed choices, in our own interests and for those of our state and the nation. This in turn means that we decide based on reason, not emotion, particularly the feelings of fear and anger.

Here, the premise - for the Republicans - FAILED.

Donald Trump's entire strategy, supported by the congressional leadership, has been to sew division in the country. Not since the Civil War has the "United" States been so disunited. Trump has again and again screamed that Republicans should be angry and afraid. It seems clear that the majority listened. Interestingly, a large portion of the Democrat vote was also motivated by hate, but with a difference. Such Democrats hate a handful of people - "individuals," including Trump and the different Republican leaders. Trump has encouraged his base to fear and hate "entire groups," including immigrants in general, Mexicans and Central Americans specifically, Muslims, gays, Democrats, etc. The distinction couldn't be more evident. Democrats hate Trump because of his dismantling of America's political system, starting with the Rule of Law and Checks and Balances. Republicans hate these groups because they have been shouted at that they should, by Fox News and other right-wing media outlets, every single day. They have been told that if someone is not white, they should be afraid. Everyone else is coming to get them and to hurt them. Everyone else is the enemy.

The suspension of reason at times has been farcical. For a country where literally every single person is a descendant of an immigrant (if you go back far enough), a group of asylum seekers, including young children and babies, became an ISIS horde. Then there is the woman who gave public testimony that she was the victim of an attempted rape, which testimony was so convincing that even Fox accepted it. But to many Republicans, including women, she either deserved the attack or was a liar. Finally, all real journalism is Fake News, and which should - which must - be ignored. When a group is dehumanized, its members become the "acceptable" target of any and all abuse, up to genocide. It is the enemy. Dr. Ford may have been assaulted, but it's OK because the rapist was one of us. Sure, children are fleeing violence to come to America, but they are not us and therefore can be shot. Anyone who is not us is the enemy, including journalists who reveal the truth.

Historically, populations in different countries have been able to make their electoral choices using reason. There have been cases of extreme demagogues, but these are well recognized in part because they have been the exception. With literacy and newspapers the general public became informed. This has now changed though with the advent of the Internet and Social Media. In 2016-2017, in the Southeast Asian nation of Burma (aka Myanmar), extremists used Facebook to create hate that was so severe that it triggered the genocide of a small group named the Rohingya. In the U.S., Republicans, with Russian help, have used Facebook and Twitter to solicit fear and hate from Party members. While we don't have open war or genocide in America just yet, it is apparent that the most fanatical Republicans would be happy to see them.

Digging more deeply, the real premise isn't in fact that we are able to make informed choices. Instead, it is simply that we have free will. Democracy requires the exertion of free will. Trump's campaign of hate, magnified by Facebook and Twitter, has so distorted the cognition of ordinary Republicans that many no longer have wills of their own. They have acted against their own interests, like robots, and done what they were told to do.

It is an open question what it will take to block this consequence of Social Media such that real representative democracy again becomes possible. Overall, then, and while many Republicans did turn against Trump in the Midterms - particularly women in the suburbs who simply couldn't accept the Party's support for the alleged rapist Kavanaugh, enough continued to back him such that we can say that American democracy in the Midterm Elections FAILED. I would argue that the specific poll results - some of them at least - are illegitimate, although we will have to live with them until we get another chance to change it. The starting point of course is to get rid of Trump.

Human rights’ activists on trial

Special Contribution
By Pushkar Raj

Swami Agnivesh

The supreme court has extended the house arrest of five human rights activists who were arrested last week. However, when the case comes before it on 12th September, it would be a enormous service to nation if it could reflect on the larger picture of the country in which human rights activists are branded, framed, arrested and sent to jail to suffer as political prisoners for years.

The case does not relate to only five activists, and is not purely criminal, as made out to be but relates to larger civil liberties that protect citizens under the constitution. It relates to thousands of human rights defenders who are presently in jail or will be there in near future if this trend continues. The court’s verdict will go a long way to indicate if it would end or door remains open. It is incumbent on any prosecuting agency to explain reasons for arrest a person unless it is a state of martial law. It is unlawful for any prosecuting agency to read out evidence in public while declining to share it with the judiciary. Maharashtra police did both of it. This should be enough to earn the ire of law.

The human rights activist have lately come under severe pressure in the country. For example, Swami Agnivesh, the veteran human rights activist was assaulted in Pakur, Jharkhand on 18 July when he had gone there to attend a civil society meeting. In June, the police, in an inter-state operation arrested five human rights activists from different parts of country at odd hours. They included Mahesh Raut, a young graduate from Tata Institute of Social Sciences, who organised natives at Gidchiroli against mining ; Rona Wilson, who advocated against death penalty and release of political prisoners; Surendra Gadling, a lawyer who fought the cases of political prisoners like Dr Sai Baba; Shoma Sen who voiced against growing sexual violence against women in conflict zones ; and Sudhir Dhawale, organiser of Elgaar Parishad, an assembly of over 250 dalit and minorities' organisations that deliberated to fight implications of caste and communalism in daily life.

All the activists were framed under sedition and Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), a law that can cover street protest to satayagraha . Mahatma Gandhi was arrested under the earlier while later is stringently used for tribals who resist homelessness due to ‘development’. For example, Mahesh Raut, a prime ministers’ national rural fellow demanded implementation of {Panchayats (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act}, PESA that prohibits mining in tribal inhabited areas like Gadchiroli. He organised people of the area who resented perilous effects of mining on their lives and livelihood. Similarly, Sudha Bhardwaj provided legal aid and empowered thousands of indigenous people in Chhattisgarh who were victims of atrocities of police, cost of courts and greed of corporate.

A human rights’ activist feels the pain of a violated fellow human beings and reaches out to protect them at personal risks including life. They are the heroes of war and peace alike, as Ashok Mitra, observed, they, ‘instead of being a top brass in the government system, assert their rationality, which is an integral element of the human mind, against the rampant asymmetry of the human condition’. Their contribution in society is no less than a soldier, General or a prime minister. Human rights activists have an inevitable role in any due to skewed power distribution in society which operates on Darwinian principle than altruism, a concept further elaborated by Richard Dawkins in the book, The Selfish Gene. Post 1990 liberalism while number of billionaires in India has risen so have landless in the country; as billion dollar houses have risen so have slum clusters around them.

On an average, in the country, one human rights defender becomes victim of state misuse of power in three days. According to the National Human Rights Commission, 30 such cases were reported in three months between April and June 2018. These included failures to take lawful actions and abuse of power like unlawful detention, false implication and illegal arrests. All these people end up as 293,000 under trial prisoners who like Chandrashekhar Azad Ravan make up 67.2 per cent of India’s total prison population like Franz Kafka’s Josef K in the novel, ‘The Trial’, spending six months to five years in overcrowded jails. As it is not something normal for a democracy, on next hearing, in the light of preamble and chapter III of the constitution , the court would do a great service to democracy in the country to reflect how the present regime could be restrained from abuse of power and subject its noble citizens to injustice for exercising their constitutional rights.


Killing in Myanmar

Even if you don't care about the Rohingya, please watch this film. It is the most powerful documentary that I have ever seen, by far. It's astonishing that it was shown on nightly television in the U.S. Ordinary viewers must have been in shock.

To all the Burman Tatmadaw and Police rapist murderers, to Aung San Suu Kyi, and to all the ordinary Burmans, and others, who support them: Congratulations, you have outdone yourself. Burma - Myanmar - will now indelibly be marked down in history. Your country is the crime scene of possibly the most extreme mass savagery ever. That's something to be proud of!

Sure, Mao and Stalin killed the most, but that was by starvation. The Nazis directly murdered the most, but it was clinical, almost passionless, in keeping with the Germanic character. Even Mengele, when he did vivisection of living prisoners, it wasn't about sadistic enjoyment of the pain. With the Rwandan Hutus - the goal was simply to slaughter the Tutsis: a straightforward extermination.

Same with the Khmer Rouge, although the widespread condemnation of parents by their brainwashed children was a delightfully perverse touch. The Japanese, OK, there's a model - your actual model in fact. Tying Chinese people to poles and then using them for bayonet practice, now that's barbarism. But you! The Burmans! Mass killings of babies, hacked to pieces or burned alive! Mass rapes of underage girls followed by execution head shots or locking them in burning buildings.

That is, of course, if they were not literally gang-raped to death. Who would have thought that the penis could be used as an actual weapon? Good God, I'm surprised you didn't eat them. Why did you forget cannibalism? It is about the only sadistic atrocity that you didn't commit. 100 years from now, 1,000 years from now, the world will remember Myanmar for what you have done.

NAPM condemns the high-handedness of UCIL and Andhra Authorities

Dr. Babu Rao

Detention and prevention of activists from participating in public meeting on ‘uranium mining impacts’ at Kadapa, Unlawful and Undemocratic... UCIL-BARC must come clean on its operations and ensure that all its activities are subject to strict environmental and legal regulations

10th April, 2018: National Alliance of People’s Movements strongly condemns the high-handedness of the Uranium Corporation of India Limited (UCIL), a Govt. of India undertaking under the Department of Atomic Energy (headed by the Prime Minister) and the Andhra Pradesh police in misbehaving with activists of Human Rights Forum and NAPM and denying them access to the venue of a public meet yesterday in Kadapa District of Andhra Pradesh by unlawfully detaining them for a couple of hours.

The team that was arbitrarily detained on their way to the UCIL (where the meeting was called) and taken to Vemula police station included septuagenarian Dr. Babu Rao; eminent scientist and environmentalist (HRF-NAPM), Adv. Jayasree Kakumani of Human Rights Forum and Rajesh Serupally, NAPM. It was only after intense protest by the activists and villagers and an immediate letter by EAS Sarma, Former Secretary, Govt. of India to the Collector, Kadapa and Mr. Nripendra Misra, Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister, that Dr. Babu Rao was allowed to participate in meeting with nuclear scientists and officials from UCIL and BARC. However, the other activists were kept in unlawful detention and released only late into the night at around 9 pm. All of them were made to sign papers stating that they would not indulge in such 'anti-social activities that disturb peace', which they did, under protest signatures. Media entry to the meeting site as also restricted. Interestingly, this ‘awareness meeting’, had to be held at a neutral place but was called for within the UCIL premises itself.

In response to the series of complaints and protests by the villagers and some intervention, at people’s behest, by Mr. Y.S Avinash Reddy, the YSR-CP MP representing Kadapa constituency in the Parliament, the UCIL authorities consented to ‘meet’ the villagers to ‘create awareness’ and address their queries and demands. Since much of the terminology used by UCIL is generally technical, the villagers approached activists associated with HRF, NAPM and other people’s groups to attend the meeting on 9th April, along with them, to have a more effective interaction with the officers of UCIL & Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC), in a better way. Thus, to deny access to public-spirited persons who came to participate in the meeting, at the invite and request of villagers is totally undemocratic and brazenly disempowering. If the UCIL can take the aid of BARC’s scientists, so can the villagers tae assistance of independent scientists and activists. To deny people this right is arbitrary and unacceptable. It may be noted that the Tummalapalle mine in Kadapa district is estimated to hold one of the largest reserves of uranium in the world, catering to fuel requirements of nuclear power plants. While the UCIL obtained clearance from the Centre in 2006, mine operations began around 2012. Not surprisingly, locals state that land acquisition for the plant was done in a coercive manner and public hearings before the environmental clearance witnessed protests and police action against villagers.

Over the past couple of years, the villagers of Mabbuchintilapalli, KK Kotala, Bhumayagaripalli and Kanumalavaripalem, residing barely 6 kms away from the mine and processing plant at Tummalapalle, have been repeatedly protesting against UCIL, complaining of plummeting underground water levels, due to relentless pumping and drastic increase in sodium and uranium, leading to air, soil, ground and surface water contamination. Reportedly, this pollution has been happening due to poor lining for the tailing pond, causing seepage. The cumulative impacts of the plant operations in the form of damage to agriculture and standing crop, water, health of local population (skin allergies, ulcers and kidney problems) and livestock (illnesses ad pre-mature deaths), alleged negligence by contractor and plant authorities is a saga of continuing anguish and anger. Apparently, quite a few villagers have had to ‘vacate’ their houses, due to these impacts. There is widespread fear in the region of the long-terms implications of radiation, making the place another ‘Jaduguda’.

We have learnt that water samples collected by local farmers from their tube wells and tested at the labs of Centre for Materials for Electronics Technology (C-MET), an autonomous scientific body under the Govt. of India, produced results indicating significant increase in uranium and sodium levels, much higher than the permissible and standard level. Besides, in December 2016, researchers from Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University (JNTU), Anantapur, analysed samples of water and soil and noted increased levels of barium, arsenic, cobalt, chromium, copper, molybdenum, lead, vanadium and yttrium, which could impact crop productivity and local environment. This study was also published in the International Journal of Advanced Research. It is now well-established that heavy metals, if consumed in large quantities, may lead to severe health issues, including cancers, respiratory and kidney complications. Instead of addressing all these concerns, the UCIL recently issued an advertisement in newspapers claiming that a “few individuals and NGOs are spreading wrong information against the organization”, in a way indicating that all is not well with its operations. Clearly, such a public announcement, detention and denial of access to civil society activists, is more a measure to discredit and muzzle voices that are raising uncomfortable and important questions, in public interest.

UCIL’s operations in Kadapa, is yet another classic case of weak post-clearance monitoring by the authorities, especially the Pollution Control Board (PCB) and the Union Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEF & CC). NAPM demands that the UCIL must ensure full disclosure of all necessary information in the public domain and in a manner discernable to the local population. It must immediately comply with all conditions stipulated at the time of project clearance including payment of full and fair compensation for all forms of losses and impacts incurred by the local population due to UCIL operations. PCB and MoEF must undertake an immediate visit, comprehensive assessment and rigorous monitoring of the present status of environmental compliance (or lack of it) and conduct a post-clearance public audit and hearing. These monitoring authorities should also be ready to issue and impose orders of cessation of operations, if violations are found. National Alliance of People’s Movements.

Academics, Activists Condemn Police, RSS Outfit Violence Against Dalits in Kerala’s Vadayampady

Dalits protest

Dalits have been fighting against ‘a caste wall’ built around the community space in their neighbourhood in Vadyampady for over a year now. Representative image. Credit: PTI New Delhi: Around 50 academics and activists on Thursday released a statement condemning the police and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh-sponsored violence against Dalits in Vadayampady in Kerala. For over a year now, Dalits have been fighting against ‘a caste wall’ built around the community space in their neighbourhood in Vadyampady, east of Kochi.

On February 6, 2018, six RSS activists were arrested for allegedly threatening noted Malayalam poet Kureepuzha Sreekumar in Kollam district when he was returning after addressing a gathering at a function on February 5 night. Sreekumar had expressed his solidarity with Dalit protestors. The issue was raised in the Kerala assembly on Tuesday, and chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan’s office directed the police to take action and conduct a probe into the incident. Read the full text of the statement below.

Statement Condemning Violence Unleashed by the Police and the RSS Outfits Against Dalits in Vadayampady

We the undersigned express our grave concern over the brutal violence unleashed by the State Police and the RSS outfits against the Dalits in Vadayampady in Kerala. Dalits in Vadayampady are protesting over a year now against the ‘Caste Wall’ built by the upper caste blocking Dalits from entering into the common space/playground used by the public for decades. The peaceful protest by Dalits against the wall of exclusion is met with brutal attacks by the police force of the state commanded by CPI-M led left government, as well as by the upper caste in the locality led by the RSS. It is indeed shocking that the police manhandled and arrested those who went to Vadayampady in solidarity, and also to participate in Dalit Self Respect Convention, including well-known activists and writers such as K.K. Kochu, K M Salim Kumar, C S Murali, Mrudula Devi Saidharan, Dr. Dhanya Madhav, Dr. P G Hari, KK Baburaj, and Gomathi Augustine of Pembillai Orumai.

Ironically, the police acted as spectators when the RSS attacked the Dalit protesters. The violence in Vadayampady is one among the several recent instances of the police brutality and connivance in the RSS led onslaught against Dalit protestors and media reporters in the state. It is alarming that even the state police forces commanded by a left government is colluding with the right wing religious extremists to protect the interest of the upper caste, their illegal claims and acts of social segregation. This and the subsequent inaction by the law enforcing agencies had enabled a vacuum in law and order leading to physical and verbal assault against poet Kureepuzha Sreekumar by the RSS outfits on his way back to his home after declaring his solidarity with the Dalit protesters. We strongly condemn the attack on Kureepuzha Sreekumar.

We are also concerned about the cold response of the government and the left parties who attempt to side-line the police violence as a ‘minor issue’. CPI-M and other left parties in the government are supposed to be part of the progressive forces of the country. But it is felt that the Dalit-Adivasi agitators are often portrayed by even the dominant left as Maoists/anarchists/terrorists in their attempt to strategically delegitimise the Dalit-Adivasi Struggles. We are afraid that this would result in the weakening of fight against various social injustices while increasing the attack on the marginalised groups in the country. The current Dalit struggle in Vadayampady which has been ongoing for more than a year has roots in how Dalits, Adivasis and other marginalized groups in Kerala have been discriminated against accessing public places, and deprived of land and resources by both left and right wing governments. We feel strongly than ever now that the situation of state forces colluding with right wing religious forces unleashing violence against Dalit protesters in Kerala is equally alarming that of the cases of from elsewhere from the country and needs to be resisted. We call forth all the progressive forces in the country and beyond to contempt and challenge the increasing violence against the Dalits and urge those agencies whose mandate to uphold the values and rights promised in the constitution to take steps to bring the culprits before the law in a befitting manner.

Signatories: Ruth Manorama, National Convenor, National Federation of Dalit Women, Delhi, Anand Teltumbde, Writer, political analyst and civil rights activist with CPDR, Maharashtra, Gajendran Ayyathurai, Postdoctoral Fellow and Study Advisor, Centre for Modern Asian Studies, University of Gottingen, Germany, Sharika Thiranagama, Assistant Professor, Department of Anthropology, Stanford University, United States, Virginius Xaxa, Professor of Eminence, Tezpur University, Assam, M. Kunhaman, Professor, TISS, Mumbai, Rupa Viswanath, Professor, Centre for Modern Asian Studies, University of Gottingen, Germany, A.K. Ramakrishnan, Professor, School of International Studies, JNU, Delhi, K. Satyanarayana, Professor, EFLU, Hyderabad, Sanal Mohan, Associate Professor, School of Social Sciences and Hon. Director, IUCSSRE MG University, Kerala, Asha Kowtal, General Secretary, Dalit Mahila Adhikar Manch, M. Amruth, Historian and Sociologist, KFRI, Thrissur, Kerala, T.M. Yesudasan, Retired Professor and Writer, Kerala, K.S. Madhavan, Writer, Associate Professor, Department of History, University of Calicut, Cynthia Stephen, Writer and Researcher, Sylvia Karpagam, Public health doctor and researcher., Ravichandran Bhathran, Founder of Dalit Camera, Karthik Navayan Batulla, Writer, Human Rights Activist, Irfan Engineer, Director of CSSS, Mumbai, Sruthi Herbert, SOAS, University of London, United Kingdom, M.B. Manoj, Assistant Professor, Department of Malayalam, University of Calicut, Vikramaditya Thakur, Assistant Professor, University of Delaware, United States, Rekha Raj, Programme Manager-Women Rights, Amnesty International, Bengaluru, Rajesh Komath, Assistant Professor, School of Social Science, MG University, Kottayam, Parthasarathi Muthukaruppan, Assistant Professor, EFLU, Hyderabad, Sumeet Mhaskar, Associate Professor and Associate Dean of Student Affairs, O.P. Jindal Global University , Delhi., Abhilash Thadathil, Assistant Professor, Centre for Development Studies, Thiruvananthapuram, Mythri Prasad-Aleyamma, Associate Fellow, Institute of Human Development, New Delhi, Anish Vanaik, Assistant Professor, O.P. Jindal Global University, Delhi, Varsha Ayyar, Assistant Professor, Centre for Labour Studies, TISS, Mumbai, T.V. Sajeev, Scientist, KFRI, Thrissur, Brahmaputhran, Daya Hospital, Thrissur, Prashanth Bansode, Associate Professor, Gokhale Institute of Politics and Economics, Pune, Satheesh Kumar, Assistant Professor, History, University College, Thiruvananthapuram, M.V. Bijulal, School of International Relations and Politics, MG University, Kottayam, N. Gopakumaran Nair, HoD, History, University College, Thiruvananthapuram, K.M. Sheeba, Associate Professor, Department of History, Sree Sankaracharya University, Kalady, Kerala, Dickens Leonard M, Guest faculty, Univ. of Hyderabad., Mythri P.U., School of Distance Education, University of Calicut, Manju E.P. PhD Research Scholar, Univ. of Hyderabad, Sanjay Kumar Paswan, Independent research consultant for social sector agencies, Patna, R. Manohar, Regional Coordinator, Human Rights Defenders Alert India, Dr K. Babu Rao, Human Rights Forum, Hyderabad, Sukla Sen, Peace Activist, Mumbai, Subhash Gatade, New Socialist Initiative, Siddharth, Independent Researcher, Bengaluru, Jayaseelan Raj, Assistant Professor, Centre for Development Studies, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, Maya K.S, Writer, PhD Research Scholar, Christ College, University of Calicut, Kerala, Prameela, Assistant Professor, Sanskrit Sahitya, Sree Sankaracharya University, Kerala, Jentle Varghese, Guest Lecturer, Government College, Kottayam, Kerala, Chandran Komath, Assistant Professor, Government College, Kottayam, Kerala,


Special Contribution
By Roland Watson(dictatorwatch)
Jan 20, 2018

Kachin soldiers

Everybody goes on and on about how complicated the situation in Burma is, but when you boil it down there are only four options. The first is just to accept things as they are, a Burman dictatorship and now with Aung San Suu Kyi as its spokesperson. This means continuing racism and attacks in the country’s ethnic nationality homelands, and low-grade but never-ending repression everywhere else, including against the media.

But, while the Burma Army will carry on buying new weapons systems, the ethnic armed organizations will never disarm, and the Civil War will endure. The generals will never be able to impose their will such that the resistance is defeated. With this status quo, the refugee and IDP crises will never be resolved. Economic development will further never take off. The people will remain impoverished.

The second option is renewed popular uprising, in combination with the ethnic resistance. Particularly when Suu Kyi is gone, the people may finally decide that enough is enough. This would have the two-fold benefit that all the different groups in the country would be united, and the likelihood, not only the possibly, that the regime would be overthrown. If everyone works together, the dictatorship can be vanquished in short order.

The third option is that some of the ethnic nationalities on their own declare independence. This possibility reflects the fact that the Burman dictators will never willingly cede power, and also the prospect that through offensive guerrilla warfare the Burma Army can be expelled from their homelands. This option currently applies for the most part to the members of the Northern Alliance Burma, and looking at the map it is easy to envision both Kachin and Shan States separating and becoming new, free countries - federal democracies in their own right.

The fourth option follows from the third. Were the Northern groups to declare independence, many of the other resistance armies around the country might follow suit. One or a few freedom struggles could transform into the long-awaited national liberation revolution. If the people then took to the streets as well, including the Burman general public, this would effectively duplicate option two and the country would soon be free.

The generals and Suu Kyi have made their choice clear - option one. We await the day when the people are determined to fight without compromise for their democratic aspirations. Note: For option three, please see my recent statement, Break up Burma?

Changing Times for Intellectuals and Activists in India

Special Contribution
By Pushkar Raj

Dr. MM Kalburgi (75) was shot dead in his residence

Intellectuals and activists are the conscience of a society but they face a crisis of survival in the country today as Gauri Lankesh’s killing last month demonstrates. Gauri is the fourth intellectual activist who was silenced through a murder.

Earlier, Narendra Dabholkar, a rationalist activist, was killed in August 2013 for his activism against superstitions such as black magic and child sacrifice followed by Govind Pansare, a left-wing politician, writer of Shivaji Kon Hota, in 2015 for revealing secular side of Maratha icon Shivaji. Kannada scholar M M Kalburgi was also killed in the same year for hurting Hindu sentiments signaling a message of strangulation for those who live by thinking, writing and speaking.

The people close to the ideology of Hindutva are suspected to be behind these killings as the intellectuals are considered a threat by them. Kalburgi and Gauri had more than a dozen cases filed against them in different courts by various radical Hindu groups. After the death of Gauri, a BJP member of the Karnataka state legislature suggested that if she had not criticized Sangh Parivar, she would still be alive.

Ideologies create a fixated worldview

Ideologies, by definition and practice restrict thought within bounds- be it of time or space- therefore, at times, tending to be highly irrational and destructive for example, communalism, fascism, maoism and nationalism , to name a few. Hindutava too falls in the same category and its adherents have a flat Worldview rooted in myths and Manusmriti, an ancient text similar to other religions’ treatises.

A writer however, goes beyond ideologies, travelling with time, seeking truth, challenging, explaining and expressing social reality through what he lives by – writing and speaking. In the words of famous Nigerian writer Chinua Achebe, the writer creates “new values” for a society. However the status quo forces such as Hindutva do not appreciate this role of the writer, so when Kancha Illiah argues that Hindutva promotes social smuggling, or Kalburgi, reveals a disconnect between Lingayatism and Hinduism, the followers of Hindutva resort to intimidating, harassing and finally purging the intellectual.

Constitution under threat

Jawaharlal Nehru wrote The Discovery of India in the 1940s, underlining a set of new values on which later the Indian constitution was based becoming a shared and supreme ideology of all the citizens of the new republic. Barring the Emergency (1975-77) writers wrote, as Jean-Paul Sartre held, “to exist and express their freedom.” They enjoyed freedom of conscience and fulfilled, to repeat Sartre again, their “moral and ethical responsibilities of observing the social political moments, and to freely speak to their society.” However, the writers are in a peculiar bind today. On one hand, society is so radicalized that as a social class they are perceived as a threat, and on the other, the constitution of the country is unable to protect them because those guiding its implementation do not fully believe in it. Addressing its lawyers’ wing last week, RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat stressed that the constitution should be changed according to the ethos of the country.

Thinking of the state of intellectuals in India today, one is reminded of Turkey about a decade ago in 2006, when noble laureate, Orhan Pamuk was charged, with “insulting Turkishness” for referring to the Armenian genocide of 1915-17, which the nationalist government denies. It was the beginning of AKP’s rise under Recep Tayyip Erdogan gradually leading to total crackdown on dissent. Today hundreds of writers, journalists and activists, including country director and chairman of board of Amnesty International, Idil Eser and Taner Kilic are in jail. With 5.1 per cent average ‘development’, Erdogan regime is holding nearly total control over media and Internet and in the words of Pamuk, the writer of Istanbul, “so many crazy, unacceptable things are happening”. The ruling party though maintains that Turkey is a secular parliamentary democracy as envisioned by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk (father of Turks). Thinking of a decade ahead, one is inclined to ask, will India become like present-day Turkey? It is a cynical but relevant question.

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