[sacw] SACW | 9 Feb. 03
Sun, 9 Feb 2003 03:25:43 +0100
South Asia Citizens Wire | February 9, 2003
#1. India Pakistan Spat at its best:
- Tit-for-tat expulsions of diplomats
- India, Pakistan Trade Diplomatic Expulsions (Anjana Pasricha)
- Over the top - Watching me, watching you (Masood Hasan)
#2.. Afrasiab Khattak [ the president of Human Rights Commission of=20
Pakistan (HRCP)] interviewed by Raza Rahman Khan Qazi
#3.. Where have all the girls gone? (David Gardner)
#4. From Indian currents:
- People's Integration Council brings Seculars Together (Dominic Emmanuel)
- Kerala:NSS thwarts RSS plot (Mukundan C.Menon)
#5. Inverting Dalit Consciousness:
Hindutvaising the Dalits, Communalizing the Movement (Subhash Gatade )
#6. Yes. Caste is as local as you want, as global as you can get.=20
#7. Wages of naivete (Dileep Padgaonkar)
#8. Hindutva at Work:
- In Kerala, the BJP is wooing the tribals and the Dalits but their=20
numbers are small. (Roy Mathew)
- The BJP sees Karnataka as its gateway to the south. (Supriya RoyChowdhury=
#9. Saraswati In Wiltshire - The mother goddess and her eminent=20
devotees (Ruchir Joshi)
#10. Coal India Sign-On Letter to the World Bank (Chotanagpur Adivasi=20
The Times of India
February 9, 2003
Tit-for-tat expulsions of diplomats
o o o
Voice of America News
India, Pakistan Trade Diplomatic Expulsions
08 Feb 2003
The News International
February 09, 2003
Over the top
Watching me, watching you
I must confess a sudden feeling of excitement looking at the=20
'Indians' on the other side at Lahore's Wagha border one spring day=20
last year. As we struggled to get near the Pakistan gate and the=20
adjoining no man's land, we could see a few hundred feet away, rows=20
of Indians watching us watching them. The men in starched uniforms=20
and even more starched moustaches meanwhile began a series of=20
elaborate rituals, marching fiercely forwards and backwards, arms=20
flailing, wielding the fiercest of looks and bristling with implied=20
and exaggerated anger and hostility. The pantomime continued with=20
each side competing to out do the adversary. The men had been chosen=20
carefully on either side. Big, brawny, muscular and threatening,=20
moving like angry lions, watched and tutored by anxious and=20
semi-agitated officers who directed the choreographed show like=20
seasoned Hollywood directors.
The lowering of the flags at the two borders near Lahore is now an=20
established show where each side performs to overwhelm the other.=20
Mercifully there are no weapons -- not so far at least -- and the=20
glaring looks and physical superiority win applause from the partisan=20
crowds gathered on both sides. The enormous force and undisguised=20
violence with which the respective gates are slammed shut draws=20
appreciation from the crowds who see in it and the whole spectacle, a=20
settling of scores between the arch rivals. The lowering of the flags=20
and the shutting of gates has become something like a war that is=20
fought in all seriousness. People gather for hours to watch this=20
sundown showdown and then, just as suddenly as it all starts, the=20
pantomime is over and everyone trudges home. It is impossible to=20
watch this and not dwell on the sad state of affairs that exist=20
between India and Pakistan. Other countries too must have borders but=20
I wonder where else this ritual is carried out with such emotion and=20
fanfare. As we all stared that afternoon at the Indians before coming=20
home, it was a bit of a letdown to realise that, more or less, they=20
looked like us. Switch the sides and you would be hard pressed to=20
figure out which was which, but while the irony of that situation=20
might have been lost on us, there was no denying the undercurrent of=20
hostility that runs ever so strongly beneath everything we say or do=20
regarding one another.
The recent tit for tat farce that has been played out in Delhi and=20
Islamabad with one side expelling the staff of the other side only to=20
be repaid the same way, is laughable were it not so sad and=20
pointless. For years and years, we have made a virtue of the hate=20
that rules our hearts and minds as we contemplate the treachery and=20
animosity that has been our common legacy since 1947. Starting from=20
the fact that Pakistan's independent status was not an acceptable=20
truth for India to this latest act of childish behaviour, there has=20
been nothing but a down hill slide in the relations between the two=20
rival nations. It is amusing to consider now that even the date of=20
our independence -- August 14 was a hastily thought deflection and=20
put our birth a day earlier but the two countries could obviously not=20
share the same day. In reality, Pakistan could not have become=20
independent on August 14 because it was only India, which did. We did=20
not exist before that and our independence day is actually the day of=20
our birth -- but many would say that is splitting hairs, much in the=20
same fashion as the current (and often repeated) controversy of Mr=20
Jinnah's birthplace -- Jhirk in Thatta or Karachi. It doesn't make=20
any difference really, but there are enough people to keep this fire=20
burning, creating a controversy where none deserves to exist. When we=20
had a difference of interpretation on the dates of our birth or our=20
independence, what strife-free future could we have contemplated?=20
Those who thought or believed that we were going to live in peace=20
have been proven wrong by generation after generation of Indians and=20
Pakistanis. All of us have, at one time or another stoked the fires=20
of hate and intolerance that burn just as brightly in Delhi as they=20
do in Islamabad.
I am sure that Jalil Abbas Jilani who is the acting high commissioner=20
in Delhi is not a spy as is Sudhir Vyas in Islamabad -- what=20
precisely is there to spy on? While we guard our installations be=20
they bridges or airports or railway stations and disallow photography=20
of these 'sensitive' locations, the Indians probably do the same. In=20
this day and age of satellites that can tell the colour of the=20
elastic on your underwear, what childish games are we wasting time=20
and money on? On both sides of the line, the common people continue=20
to lead lives of great deprivation. It is no solace to know that our=20
beggars are better off than theirs or our footpaths come for free=20
when night falls on the wretched and the miserable. Neither does it=20
help much to compare the scrawny Indian with the better-fed Pakistani=20
and score brownie points in the bargain. The fact that human beings,=20
almost skeletal in appearance still pull carts ferrying fat customers=20
to and fro in India but not in Pakistan is nothing to be proud of.=20
These are small victories and make little or no difference to the=20
towering problems of lack of education, health, justice and well=20
being that scar our two countries. Almost a year and a half back, I=20
gingerly approached the Indian High Commission in Islamabad, having=20
answered a dozen searching questions asked by two bored=20
plainclothesmen lounging on a 'charpoy' outside the chancery. I was=20
apprehensive as if I was going to be attacked any second, but all=20
that I saw was a grated window where I handed over visa applications=20
for a group of seven musicians who were due to proceed to India a few=20
weeks later -- the trip never materialised. A little while later, a=20
door opened and I was asked to come in. I was even more apprehensive.=20
I was taken to a room where an elderly man sat at a desk. He had all=20
the seven applications in front of him. He asked me to take a seat=20
and started asking me a few questions about the musicians and the=20
event that was taking them to India. From there on, all he talked=20
about was music -- his three daughters were studying music and he was=20
a devotee of all the classical musicians on either side. We talked=20
about festivals, musicians and the wonderful legacy that we have=20
inherited but about which we do precious little. In the meantime, the=20
papers had all been processed and I was told to bring them back once=20
the travel dates were final. There would be no problems with visas.=20
He said that it was an honour for him when anyone from the performing=20
arts field wanted to visit India. In January this year, we expelled=20
the same person for being a spy. Maybe he is or was, but if he was,=20
the cover was great because all he did was talk about music -- not=20
even a slight hint of a query to squeeze out unlikely information.
There can be no peace between us, not in our lifetimes. There are too=20
many vested interests on either side to let that happen. Any effort=20
that is initiated, here or there, is doomed to fail and as the=20
distrust and hate multiplies, chances of a working peace and harmony=20
fall by the wayside. It matters little who is right or wrong because=20
the entire sorry game played by the politicians, generals and=20
bureaucrats on both sides, has always been a zero sum game where=20
there are no winners and only losers. And as happens in such cases,=20
it is the common people, like you or me, who always lose out in the=20
The News on Sunday / The News International
February 9, 2003
By Raza Rahman Khan Qazi
Afrasiab Khattak is a politician and human rights activist. He has=20
been the president of Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP),=20
which is believed to be the largest human rights organisation in the=20
Khattak hails from Karak in southern NWFP. He was an active leftist=20
politician during the '70s and '80s. He spent many years in=20
self-exile in Afghanistan in the '80s, due to his strong opposition=20
to General Ziaul Haq's military rule.
After his return from Afghanistan, Khattak contested the general=20
elections from his ancestral town Karak but could not win due to his=20
progressive ideas that were in conflict with the conservative=20
electorate he belonged to. He is also a known constitutional expert=20
and a practicing lawyer of Supreme Court and High court.
In a recent interview with Political Economy, Khattak spoke on=20
military rule, democracy and human rights in Pakistan. Excerpts=20
PE: What do you mean by human rights?
AK: "After the Industrial Revolution in Europe, people started to=20
talk about human rights. It was a direct result of the emerging=20
concept of citizenship. Previously, there had been a lot of talk=20
about rights of nations, rights of religious and ethnic communities,=20
but no discussion on individual rights. A number of democratic=20
revolutions in the West facilitated the ideology of individual rights=20
and the people made a collective commitment in this regard.
"But women were still deprived of basic human rights even in=20
societies that had undergone democratic revolutions. The principle of=20
adult franchise was only accepted in the 20th Century. In the West,=20
women's right to vote was not recognised until the last century. It=20
was only in the 20th Century that the concept of fundamental civil=20
and human rights bore fruits. It was after World War II that people=20
sat down seriously to define the concept of human rights, and in 1948=20
UN General Assembly approved the Universal Declaration of Human=20
Rights. This was followed by other declarations like that of Refugees=20
and the 1951 Geneva Convention. But more important were the 1966=20
conventions--the one pertaining to International Covenant for Civil=20
and Political Rights and the other International Covenant for Social=20
and Economic Rights. These covenants as well as Universal Human=20
Rights Declaration are also known as International Bill of Human=20
Rights. It served as a foundation for the International Human Rights=20
"I like the concept because it is simply called Human Rights. This=20
means that the only qualification for having these rights is being a=20
human. It is simple and at the same time very comprehensive."
PE: What is the stand of human rights activists on the exploitation=20
of consumers by market forces?
AK: "Every human rights activist is concerned about the rights of=20
vulnerable people. These are the segments of societies that are=20
oppressed and exploited. They include women, children and all=20
underprivileged people. These people do not have equal opportunities.=20
So we stand for these people and advocate their rights. We have a=20
very clear stand on economic rights of the underprivileged class."
PE: What is the condition of human rights in Pakistan?
AK: "Unfortunately, the human rights situation in Pakistan is quiet=20
bleak. In a country where the constitutional process has broken down=20
to shreds and the military determines the fate of individuals and=20
communities, it is very hard for people to achieve their rights.
"In civilised societies, the State and society enjoy a symbiotic=20
relationship. Society controls the State through democratic and=20
electoral process. People vote for political leadership to pursue=20
certain type of policies that represent people's aspirations.=20
Similarly, the State administers society through government. In=20
Pakistan, the control of society over State is very weak. But in=20
spite of empowering the civil society in Pakistan and transforming it=20
into a democratic State, we took a journey in the reverse direction.=20
Pakistan started off quite well, but the dissolution of Constituent=20
Assembly in 1957 and the Martial Law in 1958 marred the nascent=20
democratic process. In Pakistan there have been military=20
dictatorships, punctuated by brief periods of controlled or=20
"I would like to add that the so-called 1985 Republic, manufactured=20
by General Zia, collapsed in the late 1990s. General Musharraf's=20
takeover was an anti-climax of this process, which is the total=20
disempowerment of the people. The State system in Pakistan, which is=20
heavily militarised, is in no way accountable to the society. So it=20
is natural that State imposes its policies on society.
"The state in Pakistan does not represent aspirations of its people=20
and this fact is also reflected in its anti-people policies. Just=20
look at the priorities of the State. The money we spent on health,=20
education, and development of human resources is nothing in=20
comparison to the huge spending on defense, administration and=20
"The worst victims of these policies are the vulnerable sections of=20
the society like women. Poverty is on the rise. Poverty harms women=20
more than men, and affects children more than grown-ups. The rise of=20
religious extremism has further limited space for a healthy growth of=20
civil society and human rights."
PE: Do you agree that the rise of religious extremism is a result of=20
AK: "Religious extremism is a complex phenomenon, involving many=20
factors. It has national as well as international actors behind it.=20
It is true that economic deprivation is a very important factor, but=20
the despotic and undemocratic rulers have also caused religious=20
fanaticism to grow by leaps and bounds. These regimes abrogate=20
constitution and resort to religious slogans to justify their=20
unlawful rule. Then, of course, Cold War also added fuel to fire and=20
the Western powers used religion as a weapon to serve their=20
interests. Religious extremism, which was then created, has now taken=20
PE: You mean to say that religion is used as an agent of=20
de-politicisation of the State...
AK: "Yes, of course. Various religious slogans were used as an=20
alternative to constitutional rule to achieve legitimacy. This has=20
had very negative consequences on Pakistani society."
PE: There have been reports of human rights violation at the family=20
level. What is the depth of these violations?
AK: "We have feudal and tribal structures still intact in rural=20
areas. Family, in our society, is not a democratic institution. It is=20
fiercely patriarch and the male is the unchallenged king, deciding=20
the fate of women and children members of the family according to his=20
"Marriage is not regarded as a contract in which the parties have=20
well defined interests and remedies. Violence against women has=20
unfortunately increased a lot in recent times. We have yet to define=20
domestic violence in specific terms, as a crime punishable by law.=20
Women are killed in the name of so called 'honour' only because the=20
murderers can get away with their crimes."
PE: So the foundations of our society are whimsical?
AK: "No they are not whimsical. It is basically a male-dominated=20
society in an institutionalised way. All the institutions, ideologies=20
and laws are biased in favour of men and are crafted to subjugate=20
women. I admit that patriarchy is almost everywhere in the world, but=20
it is no where in such a horrible shape as in Pakistan."
PE: You have been a very vocal exponent of the restoration of 1973=20
Constitution. Do you think that the constitution really safeguards=20
human rights at all levels?
AK: "It is a matter of principles. The 1973 Constitution is important=20
because it was drafted by a representative assembly of the people of=20
Pakistan. We may have disagreements on certain contents of the=20
Constitution, but no one can deny its importance in a democratic=20
PE: What needs to be done in order to undermine the role of military=20
in State machinery?
AK: "Unfortunately, we are bogged down in a vicious cycle. Preventing=20
military from interference in State affairs requires a strong mass=20
democratic movement. Only political consciousness and political=20
organisations can guarantee to stop military influence in State=20
"But the problem is that our military has grown into a State within a=20
state. It shapes all basic State policies. It enjoys almost complete=20
monopoly over State intelligence. In recent years, it has encroached=20
upon civil rights even more. It is a complicated situation for the=20
people of Pakistan and as I earlier said, we need to establish a=20
democratic culture to develop a viable political system. For that=20
purpose, political parties have to function democratically."
PE: Is there also interference by the military in political parties' affair=
AK: "There is definitely an interference on the part of the military=20
in political parties' affairs. It is an open secret now that the ISI=20
has a political cell. People witnessed the military's involvement=20
during the last general elections. We have also seen the rise and=20
fall of kings' parties time and again. After the 1970s, the military=20
establishment has developed the art of political engineering,=20
fabrication of political parties and production of test-tube=20
politicians. The last category is a disposable commodity. It is used=20
as long as it is required and then dumped."
PE: Is it not a new development that the religious political parties=20
are opposing a 'President in Uniform'?
AK: "It is very hard to believe that the marriage between generals=20
and mullahs [ITALICS] has broken. There might be minor differences=20
between the Army and the maulvis [ITALICS], but the strategic=20
partnership is intact. MMA may be opposing one general in uniform,=20
but it is difficult to believe that they would oppose every general=20
as president. For instance, they fully supported Zia. Even now it is=20
rather naive to reduce the whole problem of the military's domination=20
of State and society to one person.
"In order to keep the army at bay, the country needs a full-fledged=20
democratic culture. It needs tolerance, accommodation, compromises,=20
and adjustments; accepting dissent, treating opposition party as=20
government in waiting, and exhibiting high moral character."
PE: How can civil society be properly educated?
AK: "Civil society comprises of those parts of the society that can=20
regulate themselves and that do not require State interference for=20
regulation. Civil society flourishes in a federal democratic=20
dispensation. So what we need is to establish a democratic system for=20
the development of such a society, in which the people have the right=20
of freedom of expression, to form associations, right to academic=20
independence, free media and an independent judiciary."
PE: You have been a Marxist-Leninist, but now you are a completely=20
transformed person. What caused this change?
AK: "I do not see any contradiction because the struggle for the=20
rights of working people is the struggle of human rights. However,=20
this struggle does not involve power politics."
PE: What is the peculiar significance of human rights in NWFP?
AK: "NWFP is a tribal area. It is only in the 20th Century that there=20
developed some advanced forms of agriculture life in Peshawar valley.=20
But the rest of the province changed very slowly and in most parts we=20
still have the remnants of old social formations.
"NWFP had a primitive type of egalitarianism. But at the same time it=20
has some customs and traditions that are at variance with individual=20
rights. The primitive egalitarianism degenerated with the passage of=20
time. For instance the institution of jirga [ITALICS], which was=20
considered to be the most representative institution of the tribe,=20
became elitist in nature. Poor and weak elements of the society were=20
gradually excluded and the jirga [ITALICS] became an institution to=20
serve Khans and Maliks. It is a pity that due to uneven=20
socio-economic development in the country, NWFP remains one of the=20
most deprived and undeveloped areas in Pakistan, where human rights=20
violations are rampant."
PE: Do you agree that NGOs such as yours pose a threat to local culture?
AK: "It is very unfortunate that some people regard reformation,=20
development and democratisation as Western concepts that are not=20
applicable in our society. It is not true. The struggle for=20
independence was about human rights. So after achieving political=20
independence we still have to fight for human rights' independence.=20
Ideas are neither Western nor Eastern. They should be judged on=20
merits rather than on parochial biases."
PE: Do you see a probability of State being replaced by civil society=20
AK: "The more ordinary people are empowered and allowed to=20
participate in State affairs, the more will the civil society expand.=20
It can only be achieved with growing level of civility,=20
consciousness, access to information and participation of the people=20
in decision-making. The need of the State, therefore, would=20
A report published in the Financial Times (London)
Where have all the girls gone?
By David Gardner
Published: February 7 2003 18:00 | Last Updated: February 7 2003 18:00
The three were sisters, aged fifteen, seventeen and nineteen, and had=20
hanged themselves while their parents were out of the house. They had=20
written a note to explain their conduct. They knew that their father=20
was unhappy at not being able to afford dowries for them. After much=20
debate and anxiety, they had decided to take this step, to spare=20
their mother and father the shame of three unmarried daughters. They=20
begged their parents' forgiveness for this action which would cause=20
them grief; they could see no alternative.
Rohinton Mistry, A Fine Balance
When Biresh Poddar, a 40-year-old Calcutta plywood trader, strangled=20
his wife and five daughters, his story scraped on to India's front=20
pages. In a note he left for the police, he stated a number of=20
grievances, principal among them: "She didn't give me sons."
But a series of subsequent meetings of religious leaders of all=20
faiths gathered to condemn the practices of female foeticide -=20
sex-selective abortions - and female infanticide, caused little more=20
than a ripple in most of the Indian press.
Yet the preference for sons is creating a desperate shortage of=20
females in India's 1bn-plus population - a national "shortfall" of=20
about 40m women that is disproportionately high in some regions.
No one knows what the eventual repercussions will be. But already it=20
is common for men to marry women 10 or more years younger than=20
themselves as the shortage of eligible brides becomes acute.
Amin Maalouf, the Lebanese-French historical novelist, has set one of=20
his novels, The First Century after Beatrice, in the future. He sees=20
growing gender imbalances quietly but cumulatively building into=20
apocalyptic turmoil, as women are coveted and kidnapped, cloistered=20
and trafficked, the emblems of wealth in this new poverty.
The "gender empowerment measures" economists use in other countries=20
to measure development tend to look at whether women work, at what=20
levels, how much they earn, the number of women in parliament, and so=20
forth. In India, they start by measuring the extent to which women=20
This sinister disparity in the balance of the sexes appears=20
impervious, moreover, to India's slow advances in wealth and=20
literacy, increased life expectancy and better healthcare. In fact,=20
faster advances in prenatal medicine, such as amniocentesis and=20
ultrasound scans - both of which can detect the unborn child's sex -=20
have made it easier to identify and abort female foetuses.
In Ladsauli, 53km north of Delhi, Kartar Singh, a 62-year-old farmer=20
and former soldier, says there are now six boys for every four girls=20
in the village of 1,500 families.
He has three daughters and one son, but having a girl in the family,=20
he says, is now increasingly rare - because few families can afford=20
bridal dowries at an average of Rs150,000 ($3,142/=A31,907). Annual=20
earnings are little more than a fifth of that.
Singh and his neighbours are all familiar with the word "ultrasound"=20
which, at Rs600 a scan, can tell an expectant mother the sex of her=20
unborn child. If it is a girl, a further Rs350 can secure its=20
abortion. Elias, a 15-year-old from Ladsauli, says: "There's going to=20
be a big problem if we don't do something."
Ladsauli is in Haryana, which, along with the adjoining state of=20
Punjab in India's north-
western plains, is the relatively prosperous bread-basket of the=20
country. The slate-coloured sky, heavy with monsoon rain, is turning=20
the green rice paddies a deep, fecund purple near the village of=20
Shyam Ghar, 75km further north, promising another good harvest.
The roads are paved, there is running water, electricity, a primary=20
health centre and a large school, and the temple is richly endowed.
But the story for women is the same.
Ultrasound tests have become routine and
the gender ratio is six to four; some villagers suggest here it is=20
more like seven boys for every three girls. Already, 20 young men=20
have had to be found brides from outside the state. "There is a=20
waiting list of over 200," says Ram Pal, a 50-year-old farmer and=20
"This has been going on now for over five years, and still no one=20
wants a daughter," he says, blaming the dowry system. "If a girl is=20
born, it's like a funeral, but if it's a boy, there's a party."
Sardar Mohinder Singh, the nervous and reticent secretary of the=20
local Panchayat, or
council, of the 8,000 population village, hints that more than=20
sex-selective abortions are used to ensure sons. "It's not only that=20
girls are not born, they're 'kept down'," he says.
Pal, however, who has two daughters and two sons, is not at all=20
reticent in denouncing foeticide and infanticide. "If you kill your=20
girls, then no development is possible. It's a horrible crime and=20
this is the biggest problem we face," he says.
But on the evidence of the most recent, 2001 census, Pal's views are=20
not making much headway. Overall, there are 933 Indian women for=20
every 1,000 men. By contrast, in the US, there are 1,029 women for=20
each 1,000 men, in Indonesia 1,004, in Brazil 1,025, and in Nigeria=20
1,016. These are normal proportions for a country with average life=20
expectancy of more than 60 years - unless a sex discrimination method=20
is employed. By those standards, with 531m males and 495m females,=20
India has about 40m "missing women".
The term is associated with Amartya Sen, the Nobel prize-winning=20
economist and Master of Trinity College, Cambridge. Sen says the=20
phrase was actually inserted into an article he published in The New=20
York Review of Books, to his initial irritation, by an editor. "But=20
it spoke to people," he now says, "whereas I had been writing about=20
these sorts of issues for 20 years and been largely ignored."
There is thought to be an even greater number of women "missing" in=20
China, and gender imbalance is rife throughout southern Asia. But=20
whereas the Chinese were subject to strict limits on family size, the=20
reason for India's skewed population appears to stem from a cultural=20
preference for male children, especially among north Indians.
Evidence suggests the imbalance will grow worse. In the 1991 census,=20
India's sex ratio was 927 females to 1,000 males, so the current 933=20
to 1,000 ratio looks like an improvement. But the female-male=20
disparity in children up to the age of six widened over the decade -=20
it was 945 girls to every 1,000 boys in 1991; now it is 927, pointing=20
to even greater problems for future generations. The otherwise dry=20
and factual authors of the census said: "The imbalance . . . in this=20
early age group is difficult to remove and will remain to haunt the=20
population for a long time to come."
The census lists "sex- selective female abortions", "female=20
infanticide" and "neglect" - typically through giving girls less food=20
and medical care than boys - as "important reasons commonly put=20
forward" for the gender anomaly.
The National Nutrition Monitoring Bureau has documented what is plain=20
to any dispassionate eye: girls get fed much less, and surveys of=20
adult women regularly indicate anaemia rates above 80 per cent.
While about half of all Indian children are undernourished, the UN=20
says that in the Punjab "low-income boys are better nourished than=20
high-income girls". One recent study of the All India Institute of=20
Medical Sciences in Delhi, one of India's leading hospitals, shows=20
that of all surgery on children, only 30 per cent is on girls.
"Neither education nor income has any effect on the attitude to the=20
girl-child's birth," concluded an Indian government report in the=20
Indeed, as Punjab and Haryana have grown richer, the number of girls=20
has declined. The Punjab's sex ratio has sunk to 874 to 1,000 and=20
Haryana's is 864 to 1,000; Delhi, a city with a large Punjabi=20
population, has an 821 to 1,000 ratio.
Some demographers have suggested this may be the result of male=20
migration into these relatively richer areas. But that cannot explain=20
the even worse ratios in the child population: 793 girls for each=20
1,000 Punjabi boys, and 820 in Haryana.
The disparities are nearly as big across the impoverished "cow-belt"=20
of the north - in Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, and Bihar.
It is a phenomenon that gathered pace during much of the last century=20
and was puzzled over by census- takers under the British colonial=20
Raj. In 1931, when the sex ratio was 950 females to 1,000 males, the=20
census noted that the "sex ratio increases inversely with social=20
standing in Hindus" - in other words, the higher the caste, the fewer=20
Later studies of the same data show a regional correlation between=20
the high number of Brahmins and, in the princely states, Rajputs, and=20
the low number of females. In Rajput Jaipur in 1931 the sex ratio was=20
659 to 1,000, and in Rajasthan today there are occasional reports of=20
villages with no girls at all.
In south India, however, gender ratios are much better. Some=20
demographers believe this is because the predominant culture of the=20
north - brought by Aryan invaders who introduced the caste hierarchy,=20
patrilineal inheritance, and male kinship patterns - is different=20
from the Dravidian or indigenous culture of the south, where Brahmins=20
are much thinner on the ground.
There is more than the dowry problem behind the missing women. The=20
Hindu tradition that the eldest son must light the funeral pyre and=20
free the spirit of his father is one issue.
Another is inheritance practices that discriminate against women; the=20
southern state of Kerala, with a history of matrilineal inheritance,=20
has the best gender ratio in India, of 1,058 women for each 1,000=20
men. In the south, moreover, more women are involved in=20
labour-intensive agriculture, giving them a bread-winning status.
Ritual obsession with purity, including chastity, is another issue.=20
As a villager in Shyam Ghar explains it: "If a boy does something=20
bad, you can beat him, but if a girl does something wrong, you can't=20
rectify it, you have to kill her."
But dowry is a big problem, as the sly advertisements placed by=20
health clinics in mass-circulation papers such as Punjab Kesari, or=20
on telegraph poles from Delhi to Haryana, attest. With amniocentesis=20
in the 1980s, it was typically: "Pay 500 rupees now to avoid 50,000=20
later". With the spread of ultrasound in the past decade, the message=20
is the same, the cost higher: "Spend 1,000 rupees today, Avoid 1 Lakh=20
Even in southern states such as Tamil Nadu, which have made big=20
strides in population control, smaller families plus medical=20
techniques are leading to more female infanticide and foeticide.
Dowry payments are formally illegal. So too is sex-determination=20
under the Pre-natal Diagnostic Techniques (Regulation and Prevention=20
of Misuse Act), 1994.
Dr Madhusudan Gupta, who presides over the Madhumita CT Scan and=20
Ultra-Sound clinic in Panipat, one of Haryana's main towns, denies=20
ever having contravened the law. "It's not legal to pre-determine sex=20
any more," he says. But ask him why the practice is more widespread=20
than ever, and why no one has ever been charged under the 1994 law,=20
the answer is: "This is India - ask the high-ups in Delhi why they=20
are doing it too."
The Supreme Court in 2001 ordered New Delhi and state governments to=20
enforce the 1994 law - which the government has said it will amend=20
and strengthen. The Indian Medical Association has also called for a=20
new code of ethics to proscribe selective female abortion. The Sikh=20
religious hierarchy in the Punjab has even threatened Sikhs who=20
practise it with excommunication.
But the medical techniques used are perfectly legal, as is abortion=20
itself, which makes clandestine selectivity difficult to police.
This grim problem - a grotesque collision between feudal and caste=20
tradition and modern medicine - has further consequences for Indians=20
of both sexes. As Dr Sen and Siddiq Osmani, professor of development=20
economics at the University of Ulster, argue in a recent paper ("The=20
hidden penalties of gender inequality: foetal origins of adult=20
diseases"), the systematic undernourishment of girls and women leads=20
to foetal "distress" and underweight babies. That in turn leads to=20
the high incidence of cardio-vascular disease and diabetes observable=20
in India and south Asia - affecting both sexes, but especially men.
"I sometimes regret I do not believe in God and divine intervention,"=20
Dr Sen remarked wryly recently about this rebound on men for their=20
neglect of women.
A review of Amartya Sen's book, 'Rationality and Freedom', will=20
appear next Saturday.
16 February 2003
Wake up Call to Nation
People's Integration Council brings Seculars Together
Perturbed and pained by the current communal situation of the=20
country, intellectuals, sane voices interested in containing the=20
efforts of those bent on spreading the tension between two=20
communities and to silence those clamouring for a Hindu Rashtra as=20
defined by Golwalkar and Savarkar the People's Integration Council=20
comes into existence.
o o o
Kerala:NSS thwarts RSS plot
-- Mukundan C.Menon
In yet another major setback to the RSS agenda in Kerala, leaders of=20
the powerful Nair Service Society (NSS) frustrated the attempts of=20
the Sangh Parivar to utilize its premises for a function to be=20
organised by the latter's student wing. This has enraged the entire=20
Hindutva fascist clan to launch a smear campaign against the NSS=20
leadership, especially its assistant general secretary G. Sukumaran=20
Mainstream, 8 Feb 2003
Inverting Dalit Consciousness:
Hindutvaising the Dalits, Communalizing the Movement
by Subhash Gatade
The Times of India
Does caste still call the shots in modern India?
Yes. Caste is as local as you want, as global as you can get.
[ SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 08, 2003 10:34:02 PM ]
The Times of India
Wages of naivete
TALKING TERMS/DILEEP PADGAONKAR
[ SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 08, 2003 10:24:00 PM ]
Did we botch it? Karan Thapar had invited Neerja Chowdhary of the=20
Indian Express and me to question Dr Praveen Togadia on a programme=20
he anchors for Sab TV.
Hindutva at Work:
Sunday, Feb 09, 2003
On the margins
In Kerala, the BJP is wooing the tribals and the Dalits but their=20
numbers are small. Roy Mathew reports.
o o o
Sunday, Feb 09, 2003
The thin edge of the wedge
The BJP sees Karnataka as its gateway to the south. Supriya=20
RoyChowdhury on the party's mobilisational strategies in a region=20
where it has never been in power.
Sunday, February 09, 2003
SARASWATI IN WILTSHIRE
- The mother goddess and her eminent devotees
the thin edge RUCHIR JOSHI
Prerana Resource Centre <prchaz@k...> wrote:
You may know that for several years now we have been struggling with=20
the people of East Parej in the coal mining areas of Jharkhand. The=20
coal mining there, done by Coal India Limited and funded by the World=20
Bank, has had very negative impacts on the Santhal tribals.
Subsequently, we and the affected people filed a complaint to the=20
World Bank's Inspection Panel. This independent Inspection Panel=20
visited the site twice, and they have now just brought out an=20
extensive report. In this they fault the Bank on 31 counts of breach=20
of its own policies, and a further 10 counts of serious failure. The=20
work of the Inspection Panel ceases now, it is up to the Exceuctive=20
Directors of the World Bank to decide on- doing nothing? do a=20
white-wash? implement an effctive remedial plan for the victims?
For the sake of the people, we are gathering support for a letter to=20
the Bank's Board of Executive Directors to ask them for a stong and=20
just remedial plan. We hope you can "sign on" to this letter to give=20
the people your support.
Add your signature by e-mailing with 'Coal India sign-on' in the=20
subject line and giving your name, organisation and country where you=20
Or send your own based on this text to your own Executive Director.=20
Find your ED and their contact details at:=20
With Best Wishes, Gemma, Bina, Philan, Tony and all at CASS
COAL INDIA SIGN-ON LETTER
Letter to be sent on 21 February-please sign below.
Executive Directors The World Bank 1818 H Street Washington DC 20433 USA
Dear Executive Directors,
We are writing to encourage you to take seriously and act rigorously=20
on the recent report by the Bank's Inspection Panel on the two Coal=20
India projects involving involuntary displacement which the Bank=20
supported in the mid 1990s. It is particularly important to learn the=20
lessons of these projects and respond appropriately to the Panel=20
report's findings because the Bank claimed that these projects were=20
model ways to improve borrower social and environmental capacity and=20
performance. This Project also had an unusually high number of=20
supervision missions by Bank staff. This project's dismal record on=20
social and environmental outcomes raises major questions about the=20
Bank's ability and interest in these issues.
The Bank provided two different loans to Coal India. The initial=20
loan-the Coal Sector Environmental and Social Mitigation Project -was=20
intended to build the capacity of Coal India to deal with the issues=20
entailed by a major expansion of open cast coal mines. Despite many=20
warnings and specific recommendations by local and international NGOs=20
the second project-the Coal Sector Rehabilitation Project-went ahead=20
too soon and without adequate assurances that the social and=20
environmental issues were being adequately addressed.
This is confirmed by the Inspection Panel's new report, which finds=20
31 violations of Bank policies and a further 10 issues of concern.=20
Among the Bank policies and procedures which were not adequately=20
implemented are those on: resettlement, indigenous peoples'=20
protection, environmental assessment and project supervision. On=20
resettlement it found that: "[Bank] Management's failure to ensure=20
that the original Resettlement Action Plan (RAP) reflected reality on=20
the ground resulted in many problems (para. 13)", and that:
"Many of the displaced Project-affected persons have not been and are=20
not being compensated at full replacement cost, with the result that=20
many have suffered and continue to suffer harm (para. 14)". Further=20
significant extracts from the Panel's report are in the attached=20
"Panel Report Extracts"
The local NGO which brought the claim in June 2001, Chotanagpur=20
Adivasi Sewa Samiti (CASS) has produced an action plan to deal with=20
the problems raised by this project, most notably livelihood=20
restoration for those displaced. Their full recommendations are in=20
the attached "Proposed Action Plan". They include demands that the=20
people who have been involuntarily displaced from their homesteads=20
and from usufruct rights to forest produce must be:
* given the opportunity to locate and be awarded adequate=20
compensation to buy adequate replacement land ,
* given resettlement plots sufficiently large for second-generation=20
growth, with adequate potable water, services, and legal title,
* compensated for lost communal property resources which must be=20
quantified and evaluated,
* provided effective training and jobs in coalmining and for=20
contractors with guaranteed rights.
CASS also urge that full rights of entitlement to resettlement and=20
income-generation must be extended to women.
We, the undersigned NGOs, urge you to back this plan for an=20
independently implemented mitigation project. This should be assisted=20
and monitored by a bank management team as envisaged in the=20
Post-Project Audit, and should be overseen by the establishment of an=20
independent panel. To stand any realistic chance of being fully=20
implemented, some of the important measures in the Action Plan, will=20
need to be supported by high-level intervention with the Government=20
* granting adequate resettlement site plots with full legal title to oustee=
* expeditious recognition of customary title;
* provision of land-for-land through direct negotiated sale and=20
effective assistance to find and purchase;
* amendment of legislation to enable the return to prior owners of=20
land acquired for mining so as to drive the established need for=20
* having been deprived of their economic base, they are severely=20
handicapped in securing other income, and strong intervention has to=20
be made in their favour, mainly in giving them company employment.
We recognise that the World Bank projects are now technically closed,=20
but the project affected communities should not be penalized since=20
the Parej sub-project itself is far from closed. Like the Inspection=20
Panel, we encourage the Bank to face up to its moral and legal=20
responsibilities to the people affected by this Bank-backed=20
intervention. We will follow the outcomes of the Board meeting=20
scheduled for the end of February 2003 with great interest.
Bina Stanis Chotanagpur Adivasi Sewa Samiti
[Other names to follow]
Add your signature by e-mailing with 'Coal India sign-on' in the=20
subject line and giving your name, organisation and country where you=20
Or send your own based on this text to your own Executive Director.=20
Find your ED and their contact details at:=20
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