IAMC Weekly News Roundup - October 21st, 2013 - IAMC
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IAMC Weekly News Roundup – October 21st, 2013

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup

News Headlines

Opinions & Editorials

Book Review

Narendra Modi and Muslims: can they come together? (Oct 19, 2013, Hindustan Times))

As he towered over a special meeting at his party headquarters in June, BJP mascot Narendra Modi asked partymen not to consider Muslims “unapproachable”. They must be wooed, and not given up on, he said. Modi’s chutzpah comes from Gujarat, where he has managed to garner Muslim votes. His call has led the party’s minority affairs wing to organise a series of outreach programmes. Muslims were encouraged to turn up in skullcaps and burqas at his rallies.

These efforts point to the significance political parties attach to Muslim voters in any election. But for most Muslims, Modi remains someone under whose watch a carnage in 2002 killed over 1,000 people, about three-fourths of them Muslims. That is why when Mahmood Madni, a prominent cleric and a faction leader of the Jamiat Ulama-e-Hind, hit out at the Congress earlier this week and warned “secular parties” not to scare Muslims by citing Modi, it was music to Modi’s ears.

Zafar Sareshwala, a prominent Muslim businessman and backroom organiser for Modi, claimed Madni was articulating a “churning” among Muslims. But reactions to Modi can still be bitter among Muslims, India’s largest minority numbering around 160 million. “Who can forgive Modi? In Bihar, we are preparing to defeat him. It’s clear that Mahmood Madni has a secret pact with Modi,” said Qari Shoaib Ahmed, a leader in Bihar’s Muzaffarpur.

Modi too isn’t expecting a red carpet from Muslims. “We don’t want Muslims to appreciate Modi as much as we want them to criticise Congress,” an insider in Modi’s team told HT. After a Hindu fundamentalist movement led to the destruction of Babri Masjid in 1992, many Muslims have articulated a longing for a “truly secular” alternative to the Congress, accusing the party of often letting the community down. That option has remained elusive.

Syed Najeeb of the Mumbai-based Association of Muslim Professionals said Modi could trigger panic voting among Muslims to defeat the BJP. “It’s true Muslims don’t want to remain under the shadow of any event, like the Babri Masjid demolition or Gujarat riots, but the scars are difficult to forget,” he said. Some Muslim leaders, like Jamaat-e-Islami’s national secretary Mohd Salim Engineer, are sanguine in the hope that Modi would face a bulwark of not only a majority of Muslims but also the so-called secular parties.



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UP Police to Narendra Modi: Murders were double in UP during BJP’s regime (Oct 20, 2013, Times of India)

Like his previous speeches, the one delivered in Kanpur by Bharatiya Janata Party’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi has also sparked a row. Attacking poor law and order in UP under the Samajwadi Party government, Modi said in the past one year over 5,000 innocent persons have been murdered, which speaks volumes about the state of affair in UP. Police, however, pointed out that the number of murders were double under BJP’s regime in the state in 1990.

“Modi ji apparently quoted the National Crime Records data on total number of murders in UP. If one goes by NCRB, 4,966 murders were committed in UP in 2012. The same NCRB data shows that in 1992 all 10,559 murders took place when BJP was in power with Kalyan Singh as chief minister. Further, in 1997 and 1998 under Kalyan Singh’s second term, the count was 7,756 ad 8,303, respectively. In 1999, under the BJP government headed by Ram Prakash Gupta, number of murders in the state was 7,850. Under Rajnath Singh’s chief ministership, total number of murders was 7,755 and 7,601, respectively in 2000 and 2001,” said a senior police officer, pleading anonymity. He also said that in the first six months of 2013, total murders reported in UP were 2,363.

Earlier, on July 14, in his lecture in Pune’s Fergusson College, Modi had said that China spends 20% of its GDP on education. His critics were quick to point out that the real figure was 3.9%. On September 15, in the rally in Rewari, Modi had claimed that he envisioned and implemented the Kutch Drinking Water Pipeline. But, his adversaries had then pointed out that the Kutch drinking water pipeline was part of bigger project called Sardar Sarovar Canal. The Mahi Pipeline based drinking water supply plan was envisaged, designed, funded and promoted much before Modi had become the chief minister and he merely inaugurated the project in 2002. There was also a controversy when Modi in his September 29 rally accused Pakistani prime minister Nawaz Sharif of calling Indian prime minister Manmohan Singh a ‘Dehati Aurat’, which was later contradicted.

Meanwhile, some activists also drew attention towards the alleged communal agenda of the BJP. “Though Modi did not speak about Ram temple or Muzaffarnagar riots, he shared the dais with former chief minister Kalyan Singh, who in his speech justified killing of Muslims in Gujarat riots,” said activist Rakesh Rana. “Kalyan said that opposition repeatedly talks about 2002 riots in Gujarat, which Modi controlled, but what they don’t mention is that the burning of Hindus in the train sparked the riots,” Rana said. Further, Rana added, Kalyan in his speech said “Kriya hogi toh pratikriya bhi hogi.

Kriya nahin hoti toh pratikriya nahin hoti (There will be reaction to every action. Had there been no action, there would have been no reaction).” Rana said “After Gujarat riots, Modi had reportedly given a similar statement. Now, it is clear that the strategy of the BJP is that Modi will talk about development and other leaders will try to divide people on communal lines.” Activist Anshuman Singh said Modi criticised the SP government for withdrawing cases against terror accused. “The BJP has been describing withdrawal of cases as Muslim appeasement, hence Modi through his remarks indirectly touched Hindutva,” he added.



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CBI chargesheet to name 4 IB officials (Oct 15, 2013, Asian Age)

The CBI, which is preparing to file a supplementary chargesheet in the Ishrat Jahan fake encounter case, is all set to mention the alleged role of four officials – then working with the Subsidiary Intelligence Bureau – in the conspiracy which led to the encounter of Mumbai-based teenager, in its probe report. The agency, sources said, is also examining the alleged role of the then Gujarat state home minister Amit Shah in the conspiracy behind the encounter.

Sources said, “The agency will conclude its probe by the end of this month. Only after completion of the probe, the agency sleuths will be in a position to decide names of the individuals to be named in the supplementary chargesheet.” Sources, however, made it clear that the supplementary chargesheet will detail the alleged role played by four officials, including former special director Rajinder Kumar, in its report.

“We are probing all angles in the Ishrat case, including the statements of some witnesses claiming knowledge of political conspiracy behind the fake encounter involving the Gujarat police and the Subsidiary Intelligence Bureau,” sources said. The supplementary chargesheet will be based on the scientific evidence collected by the agency during the probe, sources added.

Ishrat along with three others – Javed Sheikh, alias Pranesh Pillai, Amjadali Akbarali Rana and Jishan Johar – were killed in a fake encounter near Ahmedabad on June 15, 2004. The agency sleuths also analysed the conduct of the IB officials before and after the encounter, and this will be a crucial part of the supplementary chargesheet, sources said.



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Another BJP MLA held for his role in Muzaffarnagar riots (Oct 18, 2013, Times of India)

BJP legislator Kunwar Bhartendu Singh was arrested on Thursday for allegedly fanning the communal violence in western Uttar Pradesh, which killed 62 people last month. Singh, who was later remanded in 14-day judicial custody, is the third BJP lawmaker after Sangeet Singh Som and Suresh Rana to be arrested for inciting violence. Police were forced to arrest Singh after he held a presser in Muzaffarnagar to deny his involvement in the communal carnage.

Earlier, police had registered a case against Bhartendu and 15 other political leaders, including Son and Rana on September 19, but opted not to arrest him despite warrants from a local court. Police had no option but to arrest him as ignoring his presence in the city could have landed them in trouble as he was roaming around in the city. Singh is charged with violation of prohibitory orders and provoking communal violence by making inflammatory speeches during a panchayat at Nagla Mandaur.

Police had earlier arrested Som and Rana and booked them under the National Security Act. Separately, Som was named an accused in a case registered in connection with a Hindu Panchayat at Manki village in Deoband on July 17. The case was lodged on July 18 as the event was held without the mandatory permission. Some local Bajrang Dal leaders and 2,000 unidentified others were named accused then. During the course of investigations, it was revealed Som had also participated in the meet.

This Mahapanchayat was held to protest a case against Rashtrawadi Mahasabha national president Virendra Gujjar and his aide, Varisht Gujjar, in connection with a clash at Manglaur bus station in Muzaffarnagar. As per police investigations, Som had incited communal passions and hatred between two members of different religions in the region in his speech.

Meanwhile, the number of cases related to the Muzaffarnagar riots has crossed 400. The special investigating cell (SIC), constituted to probe the riot-related cases, has been lodging and investigating the cases. Officials are finding it difficult to expeditiously probe the cases and gather evidence.



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Over 2,000 VHP, BJP leaders, workers arrested in Uttar Pradesh (Oct 19, 2013, The Hindu)

Over 2,000 Vishwa Hindu Parishad and Bharatiya Janata Party leaders and workers were arrested to foil their attempts to observe “sankalp divas” (for the construction of a Ram temple) and hold a “sankalp sabha” at Ayodhya on Friday. Among those arrested were BJP MP from Gorakhpur Yogi Adityanath; the former MP, Satyadev Singh; and VHP national general secretary Champat Rai.

Tight security in and around Faizabad and Ayodhya, thwarted the VHP’s attempts to hold a “sankalp sabha” at Karsevakpuram. Vigil was also intensified on the State’s borders with Bihar, Jharkhand and Madhya Pradesh. IG (Law and Order) R.K. Vishwakarma told reporters that since Friday coincided with Sharad Purnima, there was no bar on pilgrims from taking a holy dip in the Sarayu. However, the VHP’s ‘sankalp sabha’ was banned by the Faizabad district administration.

Yogi Adityanath and Mr. Satydev Singh, along with two dozen supporters, were arrested when they tried to move towards Ayodhya after alighting from the New Delhi-Gorakhpur Vaishali Express at the Gonda railway station. They were taken to the Irrigation Inspection Bungalow in Gonda. The police used ‘mild force’ to disperse VHP supporters near the Hanumangarhi Temple in Ayodhya. “Mahant” of Hanumangarhi temple Baba Ramesh Das and State president of the BJP Yuva Morcha Ashutosh, along with about 60 Vishwa Hindu Parishad and Bharatiya Janata Party supporters, were arrested from near the temple and taken to makeshift jails in Ayodhya and Faizabad.

BJP MP from Rudauli in Faizabad district Ram Sevak Yadav and Mr. Rai were arrested along with 200 VHP men at Ramsevakpuram, Mr. Vishwakarma said. Ramsevakpuram, where a “sankalp sabha” was proposed to be held was sealed by the police. As a consequence, the VHP shifted the venue to Karsevakpuram. Around 2,000 Provincial Armed Constabulary and Rapid Action Force personnel were deployed in Ayodhya and Faizabad.

After the “chaurasi kos yatra,” “sankalp divas” was the second VHP programme for the construction of a Ram temple to be held in the last two months. However, with September’s communal violence in Muzaffarnagar fresh in memory, the Union Home Ministry had asked the State government to ensure that status quo at the Babri Masjid-Ram Janmabhumi site was maintained in the light of the Supreme Court directives.



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Babri Masjid case: SC to hear CBI’s plea against 20 BJP leaders on Dec 12 (Oct 21, 2013, IBN)

The Supreme Court, on Monday, said it will hear on December 12 the appeal of CBI against dropping of conspiracy charge against senior BJP leader LK Advani and 19 others in the Babri Masjid demolition case. A bench headed by Justice HL Dattu said that it would accord “full hearing” to the matter on December 12. The court, on September 3, had preponed by about two months the date of hearing in the case, which was earlier fixed in December, on the plea of the CBI. It was not opposed by the counsel for Advani.

The case was filed by CBI challenging Allahabad High Court’s verdict on dropping conspiracy charge against Advani and 19 others in Babri Masjid demolition case. The apex court had earlier pulled up CBI for the delay in filing an appeal against the Allahabad High Court verdict. CBI had filed an appeal in the apex court challenging the verdicts of a special CBI court and the Allahabad High Court dropping conspiracy charge against Advani, Kalyan Singh, Uma Bharti, Vinay Katiyar and Murli Manohar Joshi.

The others against whom the charge was dropped included Satish Pradhan, CR Bansal, Ashok Singhal, Giriraj Kishore, Sadhvi Ritambhara, VH Dalmia, Mahant Avaidhynath, RV Vedanti, Param Hans Ram Chandra Das, Jagdish Muni Maharaj, BL Sharma, Nritya Gopal Das, Dharam Das, Satish Nagar and Moreshwar Save. Bal Thackeray’s name was removed from the list of accused persons after his death.

CBI has challenged in the Supreme Court the May 21, 2010 order of the high court, which had upheld a special court’s decision to drop the charge against the leaders. The high court at that time, however, had allowed CBI to proceed with other charges against Advani and others in a Rae Bareily court, under whose jurisdiction the case falls.



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Bangalore: Tension as hundreds of RSS?men try to enter Idgah Grounds (Oct 21, 2013, Deccan Chronicle)

Tension prevailed in Chamarajpet on Sunday morning when hundreds of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) activists tried to enter the Idgah Grounds. The police stopped the activists, saying they had not taken prior permission to enter the ground.

Aound 400 activists of the organisation, led by BJP national general secretary Ananth Kumar, had taken out a march to mark RSS’s 88th Foundation Day. The march began at Shankarpuram, and according to sources, some activists tried to enter the Idgah ground.

Sensing trouble as it is a communally sensitive area, the police stopped the activists from entering the area. This led to an argument between the activists and the policemen. Finally, the police said no prior permission was taken and they could not allow the activists to enter the ground. The activists then marched on the road next to the ground and moved on.

Ananth Kumar told reporters that over the last several years, RSS activists had marched on the ground. “There was nothing wrong in it and there is good communal harmony in the state. The confusion was created by the police,” he said.

Additional Commissioner of Police (Law & Order) Kamal Pant, however, said, “We hadgiven them permission to take out a march along a designated route and they have not taken prior permission to march on the ground. They were stopped from entering the ground.”



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Disqualify convicted MPs without further delay: Vahanvati (Oct 20, 2013, The Hindu)

Attorney General G.E. Vahanvati is said to have opined that the convicted MPs – Rasheed Masood, Lalu Prasad Yadav and Jagadish Sharma – should be disqualified without any further delay and the vacancy notified vis-a-vis Supreme Court’s July 10, 2013, verdict declaring ultra vires Section of the 8 (4) of the Representation of the People Act.

Informed sources said in his advice to the Parliament Secretariat, which was routed through the Law and Justice Ministry, the AG has pointed out that any delay in notifying the disqualification of the MPs would amount to non-compliance of the court order.

While Rasheed Masood is a Congress representative in the Rajya Sabha from Uttar Pradesh, Lalu represents RJD from Chapra Lok Sabha constituency and Jagadish Sharma was elected on a Janata Dal (United) ticket from Jahanabad (both in Bihar). All the three MPs were convicted in corruption cases filed by the CBI and have been lodged in jail.



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‘Asaram’s ashram had abortion centre where rape victims underwent operations’ (Oct 20, 2013, Daily Bhaskar)

Accused of sexual harassment and rape, Asaram has landed in another controversy. It is being revealed that Asaram had an abortion centre where he used to conduct abortion operation on his victims. According to Gujarat Police, Asaram had opened an abortion centre inside his ashram where girls raped by him used to be forced for abortion. It is being reported that ashram’s caretaker, Dhruv Ben used to oversee the entire operation.

The session court has extended police remand of Asaramtill 22 October, on request of police. The police came to know about the abortion centre through the two girls from Gujarat who were allegedly raped by Asaram. A woman who was allegedly raped by Asaram in his Surat ashram has revealed that the girls who used to get pregnant after getting allegedly raped by Asaramwere immediately taken to a doctor or a nearby hospital by Dhruv Ben. The victim stayed in Asaram’s ashram for ten long years, from 1997-2007.

She alleges that she was first raped in 2001 and since then Asaram had been continuously harassing her. Problems for godman Asaram Bapu is escalating day by day. The SIT, which is investigating the Surat rape case, has stumbled upon reports that Asaramallegedly raped two other women. SIT chief JK Bhatt has confirmed that investigators have found indications of other incidents of sexual assaults inflicted by the godman on his disciples. The investigators got this hint when they made Asaram to face the rape victim. They have started probing the alleged crimes. As per sources, there were 18 other people involved in the rapes. Their statements would be recorded soon.

The SIT, constituted to probe alleged sexual assault by Asaram Bapu, made major headway in the investigation, when they cross-verified him and his Surat-based victim at ATS office in Ahmadabad on Thursday. The self-styled godman was “quite shocked” upon learning of the woman’s presence, said sources. In fact, they were in the same room during the cross-verification conducted by SIT but were facing in the opposite direction. A member of the SIT stated the victim was brought in from Surat early on Thursday and had reached Anti-Terrorism Squad’s office on SG Road by 11 am. Before her deposition, police officials had briefed her to prepare her for the cross-verification against Asaram.

The SIT had prepared a list of 40 questions for the cross-verification, but Asaram didn’t initially respond to the queries. “For the first 35-40 minutes of interrogation, Asaram resisted but eventually agreed to having known the woman. He had wanted to make her a spokesperson of his organisation,” said an SIT official. The questioning also brought revealed 18 names, identified as sadhaks and ashram functionaries of Asaram.



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Dalit woman alleges police inaction (Oct 19, 2013, The Hindu)

A 56-year-old Dalit woman, allegedly intimidated and abused by caste Hindus over a land dispute in Kodangipatti village under Palamedu police station limits, has complained of police inaction. According to the complainant, Rajammal, she was alone at home on September 22 when Swaminathan, his son Venkatesan, and another person barged into her house and attempted to kill her for refusing to part with her property. With the help of her brother, Lohidasan, she lodged a complaint with the Palamedu police on October 4. The police registered an FIR against the trio under SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.

However, no arrests have been made so far. “Since the accused belong to the upper caste, the police officials have turned a blind eye to my family’s suffering,” Lohidasan contends. It is alleged that Swaminathan sold 48 cents of land to Rajammal in 1998. But the following year, her family left the village, along with other Dalit families, in the wake of caste clashes. However, the property remained in her possession, though no sale deed was registered in her name for over a decade.

“Taking advantage of the situation, the accused had transferred the patta of the land to his name without the knowledge of Rajammal and threatened her family to vacate the land,” said Sivalingam, Rajammal’s lawyer. When contacted, Superintendent of Police V. Balakrishnan said the complaint appeared to be “exaggerated.”



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Opinions and Editorials

The Gujarat Model of Social Welfare – By Archana Prasad (Oct 20, 2013, Peoples Democracy)

The Raghuram Rajan committee on evolving a composite index for the ranking of states categorised Gujarat as a “less developed state.” The state ranked 12th from the top and was surpassed by Sikkim, Tripura and Himachal amongst the other “less developed states” within the index. At the same time, states with similar growth rates like Maharashtra and Tamilnadu were termed as “relatively developed states” in terms of the composite index.

The index has been attacked by the supporters of the chief minister, Narendra Modi, who claim that Gujarat is a model of inclusive development. However, a closer look at the patterns of state intervention in social welfare reveals that the state’s claims of “growth for all” are not entirely true. The evidence presented by researchers as well as recent government reports proves this fact. Recent reports on the state of Gujarat’s social sector indicate that the Gujarat model is based on less investment in the social sector and higher investments in industrial infrastructure. …

As far as Gujarat is concerned, the state ranks 16th in regard to the education sector and 14th in regard to the health sector. The only sector where it can be considered ‘relatively developed’ is in infrastructure (where its ranking is number 6). Given this fact, it is not surprising that every third child in the state is malnourished and that the state has to depend on corporate funded non-government organisations (NGOs) to bring children into schools. Thus the aim of its Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) is to subsidise the existing infrastructure of private schools and make “private school education more affordable for poor children.”

Similarly, the PPP model being used in the state provides the framework for subsidising private health services in the state. In both cases, the focus is to spend on infrastructure for the privatisation of social services. This model is compatible with the overall model of corporate growth where social services are being restructured for the benefit of big corporate businesses. …

Thus we can see that the impact of the Gujarat model of development has been very negative insofar as the vulnerable social groups are concerned. This is largely because such a model is largely driven by a restructuring of the social sector for the benefit of corporate enterprises. Such an extreme form of corporate capitalism needs to be opposed and its truth needs to be exposed in order to build up a broadbased campaign against the communalised developmental politics of Narendra Modi and his cohorts.



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What Really Happened At Jauli Canal? – By Deevakar Anand (Oct 26, 2013, Tehelka)

Though it is widely believed that the Muzaffarnagar riots started with an attack on a Jat convoy by a Muslim mob on 7 September, details of the preliminary investigations by the police suggest a different narrative. According to the FIRs accessed by TEHELKA, more Muslims were killed in the violence at Jauli village than Hindus. The FIRs registered so far mention the death of only seven persons. Four of them were Muslims. And the only person recorded as missing is also a Muslim. The bodies of the four Muslims were found at the site of violence and that of the three Hindus were fished out from the Jauli canal that runs through the village. Eighty percent of Jauli’s 5,000 residents are Muslims and the canal separates the Hindu and Muslim parts of the village.

On 7 September, a group of Jats were allegedly waylaid by an armed mob of Muslims at Jauli while returning on tractors from the ‘Bahu-Beti Izzat Bachao Jat Mahapanchayat’ at Nangla Mandaur, about 10 km away. More than a lakh Jats had assembled at the mahapanchayat to protest against the alleged “one-sided” police action following the killing of two Jat cousins and a Muslim youth at Kawal village. According to local accounts, the Muslim youth was stabbed to death on 27 August because he was allegedly stalking the school-going sister of one of the Jat cousins. In retaliation, a group of Muslims allegedly beat the cousins to death.

Rumours that a large number of Jats were massacred at Jauli – many of whom were thrown into the canal – led to communal riots spreading across Muzaffarnagar and parts of the neighbouring Shamli district over the next two days, killing 52 and rendering 50,000 homeless. But, according to the FIRs, four Muslims – Latafat, Nazar Mohammed, Salman and Mohammed Nazim – were killed at Jauli, while Nissar from the nearby Kisanpur village went missing. The Hindus killed were Ajay Kumar, Sohanveer Singh and Brijpal Rana. While the details in the FIRs point to a violent clash between two mobs and not a one-sided attack by Muslims, many eyewitnesses and survivors refuse to believe that only three Jats were killed.

Bagesh, a Jat from Jauli told TEHELKA that he had seen an armed Muslim mob hiding in the sugarcane fields near the village. “I was standing on the other side of the Jauli canal when I saw them attack the convoy of around 15 tractors returning from the mahapanchayat,” he says. “The mayhem continued for over an hour. People were killed and thrown into the canal. I cannot believe that only three Jats were killed.” Baba Hari survived the Jauli attack with bullet injuries in his leg. “I was not part of the Jat convoy, but got caught in the violence while returning on a bike from a nearby temple,” he says. “I couldn’t keep an exact count, but I am sure at least a dozen Hindus were killed in the attack.”

However, according to a senior police officer, all complaints of dead or missing persons have been recorded. “It’s been more than a month since the incident but if we receive more complaints, we will register additional cases,” says the officer, who didn’t want to be named. “There was perhaps a major confrontation between people from the two communities. Had there been a one-sided attack by an armed Muslim mob, many more Jats would have been killed. But let’s wait for the SIC (Special Investigation Cell, set up after the riots) to finish its probe and come out with the truth.” A senior officer of the SIC told TEHELKA that what really happened at Jauli on 7 September will become clear only after the investigations are completed. “Our investigation into every riot incident will be based on the facts and not on any of the narratives doing the rounds,” he says.



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Lalu’s nemesis – By Ajoy Ashirwad Mahaprashasta (Nov 1, 2013, Frontline)

The conviction of Lalu Prasad and Jagannath Mishra, two former Chief Ministers of Bihar, by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) special court in Ranchi on October 3 in the fodder scam case, opened a Pandora’s box. The verdict not only underlined the increasing criminalisation of politics but exposed the manifold ways in which an ubiquitous but invisible corrupt nexus of bureaucrats, politicians and private contractors works in a State administration. The 700-page judgment of Special Judge Pravas Kumar Singh has become the most pertinent example of how corruption in the legislative and executive bodies is often guided by the business interests of a few individuals.

The verdict is significant as Lalu Prasad, a sitting Member of Parliament, faces immediate disqualification and will be rendered ineligible to contest any election for at least six years. He is the second MP to be disqualified on the basis of the recent Supreme Court order. In a ruling delivered in July, the court struck down Section 8 (4) of the Representation of the People Act (RPA) and mandated that elected representatives convicted of any criminal charge should face immediate disqualification. Section 8 (4) had provided an additional layer of immunity to lawmakers to retain their seats upon conviction if they could appeal to a higher court within 90 days.

Rasheed Masood, Congress member of the Rajya Sabha, was the first MP to be disqualified under the apex court order. Masood was found guilty of fraudulently nominating undeserving candidates to seats in medical colleges across the country when he was Union Health Minister in V.P. Singh’s government during 1990-91. While the verdict quashing Section 8(4) will help raise the level of accountability in the Indian political system, it will also significantly alter the political landscape of Bihar in the coming years.

Lalu Prasad was the Chief Minister of the State between 1990 and 1997. He resigned in 1997 following corruption charges relating to the fodder scam and disproportionate assets cases but continued to be at the helm of affairs until 2005 when his wife Rabri Devi was Chief Minister. Lalu Prasad emerged as a social justice hero during Jayaprakash Narayan’s “Total Revolution” in the 1970s. By the 1990s, he had established himself as a mass leader of a substantial Yadav population in Bihar. By forging a powerful Yadav-Muslim alliance, he ended the dominance of the upper-caste Bhumihar-Brahmin-Rajput-Kayastha alliance in the State’s politics. As is famously held, he gave the backward classes swar (voice) andsamman (dignity). Bihar remained free of communal riots during his tenure. Many observers believe that Lalu Prasad’s political masterstroke was that he united the traditional adversaries, Yadavs and Muslims.

However, rampant corruption and the absence of a sustainable governance model began to take their toll on the State. The high-handedness of Lalu Prasad and his power-hungry family members caused public outrage. It is in this context that the chara ghotala (fodder scam), involving the embezzlement of some Rs.950 crore from the State treasury, was exposed. It was alleged that huge amounts of fodder was shown to be procured for a large number of fictitious livestock over a period of 10 years. While corrupt practices were known to be rampant in his administration, what was shocking about the fodder scam in monetary terms was its magnitude. Since the allegations were against top officials and politicians, including the two Chief Ministers, the case was referred to the CBI in 1996. …



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Violence Against Women In India – A Review Of The Popular Mythologies And Their Implications For VAW – By Cynthia Stephen (Oct 15, 2013, Countercurrents)

India’s reputation as a destination for spiritual seekers seems to have faded in recent years. Reputed worldwide to the be the land of the oldest living civilisation, with a rich culture, living tradition, and a climate of ahimsa (non-violence), as exemplified by the struggle against the British colonisers which was almost bloodless, and resulted in the Independent Indian nation on the 15th of August, 1947. A part of this tradition, it is claimed, is revering women in the form of the mother or the goddess. Proponents of this viewpoint cite a verse to the effect that “Where women are worshipped there the gods reside”. But there has always been ample evidence that this was more observed in the breach; that the societal structures discriminated severely against women in all arenas: economic, social, legal, political, personal. The evidence came in the 1970s, in the form of the Report “Towards Equality” – A report of the Status of Women in India. The elite women who formed the study team, set up by the Central Government, were stunned at the disparity between men and women in India. It was in the aftermath of this study, which was prepared for the first UN World Conference on Women in Mexico in 1975, that the government of India began to undertake policy measures and provide funding work among and for women.

Be that as it may, India has now begun to have a reputation for misogyny which appears to be richly deserved. Figures for violence against women across the world continue to alarm. But those for India hit new records in the last couple of decades: a widening child sex ratio, persistent reports of rapes and molestation of women in public, and a justice system that has done little to bring the perpetrators to book. What is the reason for the existence of such persistent, wide-ranging and endemic violence and misogyny against women, of all classes, but especially against the dalits and tribals, in this culture? Could it be the myths and legends that play a strong but subliminal and conditioning role in determining attitudes and behaviours which tend to be misogynistic in nature? Women are supposed to submit silently to any atrocity that any random male chooses to subject them to, whether in public or private. The situation is such that it is almost impossible for women to get redressal for the blatant violations of their human rights. Witness the incident in March 2013 when a girl and her father were beaten up in a police station in Punjab when they went to file a complaint against some young boys who had been subjecting her to unwanted sexual harassment. …

Close to Guwahati, the capital city of the Northeastern Indian state of Assam, is the site of the famous Shakti peeth, the Kamakhya temple. The temple which dates back to the middle of the second millennium, does not have any idol. There is, instead, a hollow depression in the ground, about 10 inches deep, formed where a sheet of stone slopes downward from both sides. It is constantly wet due to a perennial spring and is worshipped as the most important abode of Shakti, the female form of divinity. Another – and later – name for the goddess is Sati. The temple has been a sacred space for centuries, and is an important site for Tantric worshippers. There is a story attached to the temple and its status as a Shakti peeth.[ii] The legend underscores the practice of Tantric – or goddess-oriented worship systems in Eastern and parts of Northeast India. But this area is also known for the practice of “witch hunting” – one of the most vicious forms of public and organised violence against women.

There are other well-known stories in the popular puranas – the Ramayana and the Mahabharatha – which appear to legitimise extreme violence against women, even if they are goddesses or belonged to the families of kings. For instance, Surpanakhi, who is a forest-dweller, expresses attraction to Lakshmana, the brother of Rama, as they are in their forest exile. His response is to “cut off her nose”, which can either mean that he literally chopped her nose off, or be a euphemism for sexually insulting her. The story goes that she was the sister of Ravana, who then planned the abduction of Sita in retaliation for this insult. The outcome of the story does not go well even for Sita, the wife of the Purushottam – the ultimate man – Rama. He too subjects his wife to a test of virtue, in public. She ends up self-immolating her body in protest. The practice of Sati, that is, of the wife being expected to immolate herself on the funeral pyre of her husband also owes its existence to the story of Sati who also commits self-immolation to protest a perceived insult to her husband by her father. Could this be the subliminal reason for people in India choosing to set themselves on fire almost as a preferred form of committing suicide? A way of demonstrating, by dying in a ‘purifying’ fire, their basic purity of intention and faith? This is a particularly common method of suicide in South India, especially in Tamil Nadu. They even have a special term for it – it is called “Bathing in fire” (Thee kulikkirathu)

From the Mahabharatha comes the wellknown story of Draupadi, the wife of the five Pandava brothers. She is used as a pawn in a game of dice by the eldest of the brothers, ironically known as Dharmaraya – king of dharma or virtue, and loses. The winners, her husband’s cousins and adversaries, take her to the centre of the Kaurava court, and verbally abuse her. Duryodhana attempts to disrobe her publicly. She escapes with her modesty intact by the grace of Krishna: – her saree, while being pulled off by Duryodhana, turns out to be never-ending. Echoes of these practices are still seen in the public disrobing of women from dalit and adivasi groups – both Surpanakhi and Draupadi are said to have belonged to indigenous people groups. Only here, there is no intervention by a divine being to protect their ‘modesty’. Some of the more enduring myths in India have to do with the fight of good over evil. The popular festival, Navaratri or Dasara, or Durga Puja, depending on the region, is celebrated with this theme during the month of October. The central theme is of the goddess, in a martial form, with her multiple arms bristling with weapons, depicted as being victorious over a dark-skinned male adversary on whose body she dances in triumph. In South India, the notable celebration is held in Mysore, where the goddess is known as Chamundi, who triumphs over Mahisa, king of the dark-skinned Asuras – or demons. In fact the name Mysore is a corruption of the name Mahisa. …



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No, Not Good News – By Valay Singh Rai (Oct 28, 2013, Outlook)

Even in disaster, the worst blow has been dealt to an already marginalised group in Orissa. The Hadis are a pig-rearing community and can be found living at the periphery of villages. Seventeen families of this community are the only ones whose houses have been completely destroyed by Cyclone Phailin in the Old Baxapalli village of Ganjam district. They are also the only ones to take shelter in the local primary school. Having lost their meagre food stocks, they are surviving on the generosity of the villagers and the nearby army camp, which has been serving them khichdi every day. They may still have their lives but they have lost everything else they possessed to the cyclone. Yet, till three days after, nobody from the government has bothered to assess their losses. There are single-women households, disabled people and young children who need immediate care and support. Without it, they will be reduced to utter penury, a prospect millions others in Orissa are facing.

True, both the government and the people were better prepared to face the ‘badya’ (as a cyclone is called in Oriya) this time. Ever since the 1999 supercyclone, which claimed 12,000-plus lives, the state had become much more disaster-sensitive. Several NGOs in the state had been running disaster preparedness programmes, working closely with the government and communities, even schools. But that would be half the work done. In Ganjam district alone, 15 lakh people have lost their homes and all their belongings to the cyclone. People in the villages we visit are angry that the government is yet to take note of the damage to their houses, the loss of crop like coconut, cashew, paddy and plantain, or their fishing nets and boats. Srita Nayak, a single mother of three young children, of whom six-year-old Mary is paralysed, is inconsolable. The cyclone made an already bad situation worse for her, forcing her to work as a daily-wager to support herself and her children. For her, it is a disaster.

The situation is no better in Baddanouliyanaugam village, 30 km away and barely 300 metres from the sea. Its residents, almost all of them fisherfolk, left their houses a day before the cyclone struck, but didn’t take shelter in the government-built storm shelter. They went instead to Chhatrapur, the district headquarters of Ganjam. “Have you seen what bad shape it is in? Who’ll stay there?” retorted a villager when asked why they didn’t go there. The villagers returned on Sunday to find Phailin had not spared even a single house. But like elsewhere, the government had made no assessment till the time of writing, even though chief minister Naveen Patnaik had made a quick visit to a neighbouring area. Kammudu and her husband were among those who had left home a day before the cyclone with their two small children and a month-old baby girl whom they have not even named yet. Their meagre food stock is ruined and Kammudu has been feeding her children only chatua and biscuits. According to the local accredited social health activist M. Parvathi, there are 25 pregnant women and 145 young children in this village of 1,700 people.

According to government figures, the crop loss is to the tune of Rs 4,005 crore. Prahlad Sethi, a farmer who owns a four-bigha plot in Venkatraipur village, is desperate because he has lost 90 per cent of his coconut, chiku and plantain crop. “One coconut tree used to fetch me Rs 3,000 annually, now there are only five of them standing; my chiku and mango trees too have been destroyed,” he says. “We have no recourse but to borrow or beg now.” In the same village, 60-year-old Kalagang-amma sits desolately in the veranda of her damaged house. She says she doesn’t have a BPL card and there is nothing to eat in the house. Village after village, it is the same story; people are alive but desperate, having lost their houses and livelihoods. Socially excluded groups like the Hadis, along with women, children and disabled people, are the worst hit.



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Justice delayed and denied – Editorial (Oct 15, 2013, DNA India)

The acquittal of the 26 accused in the Laxmanpur-Bathe massacre case is the latest in a long line of such verdicts that disempower Bihar’s Dalit population. When applied inadequately, the principles of natural justice can undermine the broader societal justice they are intended to serve, as emphatically as they can uphold it. The Patna High Court’s acquittal of the 26 accused in the 1997 Laxmanpur-Bathe massacre case has thrown that into sharp relief. Certainly, neither the capital punishment awarded to 16 of them nor the life imprisonment given to the rest should have stood if it failed to prove culpability beyond reasonable doubt.

That is the first principle. But the high court’s claim that it failed this test is on shaky ground itself when it comes to the second principle: Nemo judex in causa sua. Let no man be a judge in his own case; in essence, no legal decision should be influenced by any interest or bias. When seen from a broader perspective, those biases become regrettably clear. One such outcome may be happenstance and two coincidence, but when the pattern is repeated as often as it has been, it becomes apparent for what it is. Either actively or via a lack of rigour in enforcing the law, an institutional and political bias in favour of the caste and socio-economic elite has permeated the state apparatus in Bihar.

Consider the statistics. In the span of the past year alone, three similar verdicts have preceded this one with men from the upper-caste landlord militia Ranvir Sena, accused in the Miapur, Nagari and Bathani Tola massacres of Dalit villagers, walking free. This is part of a larger pattern. In the quarter century ending at the turn of the millennium, there were 80 such incidents where Dalits or those affiliated with them were killed. It is no one’s case that retaliatory violence did not take place as well, but the numbers make the skewed balance of power clear: 15 incidents in which upper-caste villagers were killed.

Seen in this context, the Laxmanpur-Bathe verdict underscores the many problems plaguing the treatment of such incidents. The inordinate length of time it takes cases to work their way through the legal system is a common issue across the country, of course; the longer the process, the weaker the prosecution’s case inevitably becomes. There are other, more specific issues as well. Why, for instance, are eyewitness accounts blithely dismissed as unreliable as they were in this instance? Why are trial court verdicts finding the accused guilty so often overturned by the high court? Why are Bihar’s politicians, cutting across party lines, silent, save for token expressions of regret and sympathy and a predictable ramping up of rhetoric when it is time to go to the hustings?

The last is, perhaps, the most troubling. The reality and perception of Dalit political empowerment are an absolute must in a state with a long, violent history of caste conflict centred on land issues. Instead, with moves such as Nitish Kumar’s abolishment of the Justice Amir Das Commission of Enquiry – set up to look into the Ranvir Sena’s links with political parties – soon after coming to power in 2005, the message the political establishment sends is that the state and legal apparatus are out of bounds for Dalits. This is a potentially incendiary mistake. And it is an affront to the victims of Laxmanpur-Bathe and those before them.



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Book Review

India’s Tryst with Destiny: Debunking Myths that Undermine Progress and Addressing New Challenges

Author: Jagdish Bhagwati and Arvind Panagariya
Reviewed by: Indira Hirway
Available at: Harper Collins Publishers India, A 53, Sector 57, NOIDA, UP, India, 2012; pp 285, Rs 599..http://www.harpercollins.co.in/
Partial View of Outcome of Reforms and Gujarat ‘Model’ (Oct 26, 2013, EPW)

Jagdish Bhagwati and Arvind Panagariya have written extensively on the economics of India in recent decades. Yet they have written this book because, according to them, at this stage of political and economic development in India there is a need to have a comprehensive look at the accomplishments and failures of the economy. There is also a need “to refute unwarranted and unsupported populist myths prevailing about the economy”, and to understand and address the next set of challenges so as to move ahead with faster and more inclusive growth. …

Also, there is no adequate empirical support to say that India does not have crony capitalism and that power of labour and democratic forces protect the interests of labour and the poor. Take the example of Gujarat (its growth model is praised sky high by the authors). There is enough evidence to show that the state government has gone overboard in providing incentives and subsidies to corporate investments (Hirway, Shah and Sharma 2013). … about the Gujarat model. Its achievements in health and education despite its high economic growth are far from satisfactory. With a high dropout rate in schools, deteriorating quality of primary education in the last decade, and declining rank in literacy from four in 2001 to nine in 2011 among the 20 major states, the performance of Gujarat in education is anything but respectable. Again, with slow decline (slower than most states) in infant and maternal mortality rates, as well as slow progress in immunisation of children, poor availability of potable drinking water and safe sanitation (Census of Population 2011), the performance in health is definitely much less than respectable. The latest data from the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) support this, with per capita expenditure on health, education, and social sectors in the last decade one of the lowest in the state, and the state’s rank declining to the bottom among the major 20 states. The expenditure on incentives to corporates has clearly left much less money for the social sector.

There is no doubt that Gujarat has achieved a high growth rate, above 10% per year, in the period of economic reforms, particularly in the last decade. Even agriculture has grown at a much higher rate (6%) per year against 2-3% in India. However, this growth has serious problems. To start with, in spite of diversification of the sources of state domestic product (SDP), there has been no significant structural change in employment. Though the primary sector contributes 14% to the SDP, it houses 55% of the population. This indicates highly capital-intensive growth in the non-primary sectors that has failed to create employment opportunities for a structural shift. Since the officially committed goal of industrial development in the state is to be “the fastest growing state in the world”, the growth has created a dualism in the economy, with a small modern sector enjoying the lion’s share of growth and the remaining sectors lagging in technology, productivity, and incomes.

An important exclusion from the discussion on the Gujarat model as well as from the policy framework supported by the authors is of natural resources or natural capital, which is now recognised as a factor of production and an important component of total capital stock in an economy. The authors neglect the massive depletion and degradation of natural resources, which have affected adversely the livelihoods of people, particularly the marginalised sections in Gujarat. This depletion and degradation in Gujarat in the last decades (Viswanathan and Pathak 2013) is leading the state towards non-sustainable development. …