[sacw] SACW | 14 April 03
Mon, 14 Apr 2003 02:23:20 +0100
South Asia Citizens Wire | 14 April, 2003
Progressive South Asian Voices Against the War by SACW
o o o
#1. Pakistan: NWFP: Muslim fundamentalists get acquainted with the
realities of exercising power (The Economist)
#2. Sri Lanka: Peace Dividend, Development and the Distributional
Problem in (N. Shanmugaratnam)
#3. Radhika Coomaraswamy United Nations Special Rapporteur on
Violence against Women (Ammu Joseph)
#4. Bangladesh: Sign of Times Ahead: Zia International Airport neon
sign in Arabic now
#5. Film Festival Review : 'The Clay Bird' : A Child Copes With Dad's
Zealotry (Elvis Mitchell)
#6. India: Sangh Parivar in Government (C. P. Bhambhri)
#7. India: Partition to Gujarat: A journey of decline (Suman Tarafdar)
#8. India: ASI: history to politics (Hartosh Singh Bal)
#9. India: RSS Dalit ace for Digvijay now (Hartosh Singh Bal)
#10. India: Gujarat Health centre ransacked (Manas Dasgupta)
#11. India: Invitation From AIDWA to join a Sangharsh Sabha on April 24
#12. India: Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation names Zonal office after
late Ahsan Jafri victim of recent Gujarat violence
#13. South Asia: Fellowships for the study of Migration. (Social
Science Research Council)
The Economist (UK), April 10th 2003
Pakistan: The wild frontier
Muslim fundamentalists become acquainted with the realities of
exercising power [in NWFP}
THE usually bustling bazaars of Peshawar's old city were eerily quiet
on April 8th. Most shops were shut, in observance of a national
traders' strike called in protest at the war in Iraq. Shopkeepers
hoisted black flags and joined rallies. This was the latest of many
demonstrations since the war began. On Fridays, after prayers, groups
of white-robed, bearded men, disgorged from the mosques, take to the
streets to call for death to George Bush. On March 30th, an estimated
200,000 people marched in one of Pakistan's biggest protests ever.
Like so much of the Muslim world, the country's North-West Frontier
Province is angry. But here, the angry brigade is in government.
In the general election last October, called to give a civilian gloss
to the military regime of the president, General Pervez Musharraf,
the Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal (MMA), an alliance of six Islamist
parties, won 60 out of the 342 seats in the National Assembly. And in
one of the four provinces, North-West Frontier, it pulled off a real
surprise, winning control of the provincial government. In
neighbouring Baluchistan, which also borders on Afghanistan, it did
almost as well, and entered government in coalition. A shudder shook
those who worry that Pakistan has the potential to become the next
fundamentalist state. Their fears have been fuelled by an increase in
attacks on American soldiers and their Afghan allies pursuing the
remnants of the Taliban and al-Qaeda in lawless border areas.
The International Crisis Group publishes "Pakistan: The Mullahs and
Some of the measures taken or threatened by the new provincial
government have added to the concerns. The announcement of a ministry
for "the promotion of virtue and prevention of vice" is reminiscent,
for instance, of the zealotry of the Taliban. Police-sponsored
vigilantes have lit bonfires of videos and harassed musicians (some,
denied a respectable living, have reportedly been forced to turn to
prostitution). There have been threats to ban cable television. More
women have taken to wearing the veil. Planning has started for the
implementation of Islamic law (sharia) in the province, involving the
segregation of women in health and education, and the compulsory
closure of businesses to allow time for prayer.
But extremist zeal has in practice been tempered by gradualist
caution. Mohammad Adeel, a former provincial finance minister, now in
opposition, scoffs at the new government-not for its Islamist agenda,
but for its failure to do anything much at all: nothing, he says,
except tearing down a hoarding with a picture of a woman advertising
Lux soap, and banning the tape-recorders on which bus-drivers play
Similarly, although some non-governmental organisations (seen by the
Islamists as an American fifth column) are nervous, Maryam Biby, of
"Sisters' Home", a charity for women, is, so far, reassured. She says
the MMA, still grappling with the novel experience of government, has
softened its hardline, segregationist stance towards women. It wants
There are other possible reasons for the MMA's relative restraint.
One is the limited scope of provincial authority. Even the
introduction of sharia is complicated by the federal legal system.
The National Assembly can overturn laws passed by the provincial
The fragmented nature of the alliance itself also impedes radical
action. Its six parties are riven by doctrinal disputes and personal
rivalries. That they managed to forge an electoral alliance in the
first place was so unprecedented and astonishing that it is
attributed by many cynics not to Islamic unity but to military
manoeuvring: the army and intelligence services allegedly fostered
the alliance to weaken other opposition parties, and so ensure that
the "king's party" loyal to General Musharraf led the government.
More concretely, the MMA's victory in North-West Frontier Province
said less about support for fundamentalist Islam than it did about
anti-American feeling. People in the province talk routinely about
the many American "atrocities" and "massacres" in the war against the
Taliban and al-Qaeda in Afghanistan. Ethnic Pushtun kinship and a
porous border make many see it as a war against them, too. The MMA
succeeded in harnessing popular anger with America, and with General
Musharraf's government for its ditching of the Taliban and help for
the war effort (which last week earned the government its latest
reward-the writing-off of $1 billion-worth of American debt).
But anger at the government's pragmatic accommodation with the United
States need not imply widespread support for some of the MMA's more
restrictive social and cultural policies. People care more about
basic economic issues, especially jobs, areas over which the MMA has
very little control.
There is also another explanation for the MMA's moderation: it
believes time is on its side. Muhammad Iqbal Khalil, of the
Jamaat-e-Islami, a moderate MMA component, says that the Taliban's
revolutionary extremism serves as a negative example, but that
nonetheless a "slow Islamisation" is under way in the province.
Many believe that if Pakistan's general election were held again now,
the MMA would fare even better, thanks to the effects of the war in
Iraq, which, presented as an assault on Islam itself, has given a new
lease of life to its anti-American campaign. There is a real danger
in this strategy, however: keeping the fires of religiously-inspired
anger burning may make them hard to douse. That, as the International
Crisis Group, a lobbying think-tank, notes in a recent report, runs
the risk that Pakistan finds itself "isolated regionally and a
target, as opposed to a partner", in America's war on terror. That
risk is heightened by the enthusiasm of many Pakistani Islamists for
seeking "martyrdom" in an insurgency in Indian-administered Kashmir-a
proxy war that India demands America and the world should now be
ready to recognise as nothing more than a prolonged campaign of
South Asia Citizens Web
April 13, 2003
Peace Dividend, Development and the Distributional Problem in Sri Lanka
by N. Shanmugaratnam
In mainstream analytical literature, 'peace dividend' is generally
interpreted rather narrowly in terms of the impact of cuts in
military spending on economic growth performance. The analysts are
generally concerned as to how the surplus freed by reductions in
military spending is being used. There can be differences among them
on ranking the alternative uses to which the saved resources can be
put, i.e. the conversion of the surplus. Some may argue in favour of
returning the surplus to the private sector through reduced fiscal
deficit and lower taxes. They may justify this by reasoning that such
use of the 'peace dividend' would encourage private investment while
helping to get the 'macroeconomic indicators' right. Others may agree
with those who advocate that at least a part of the money saved
should be invested in reintegration of the demobilised soldiers,
human development and peacebuilding.
Peace dividend in this sense has yet to materialise in Sri Lanka,
although the term has gained wider currency.
Military spending by the government and the LTTE remains high. Our
peace process has not reached the stage of decommissioning and
demobilisation. The controversies over the High Security Zones in
Jaffna and the occasional confrontations between the two armed forces
are strong reminders of this reality. They also reveal once again
that military considerations continue to enjoy top priority on both
sides. Military spending is not likely to be reduced until a lasting
political solution is found, and not before its implementation has
progressed beyond 'the point of no return to war' and a programme of
reintegration of ex-combatants (government and LTTE) is instituted.
Let us also bear in mind that demobilisation of combatants and
dismantling of the war economy have their cost as they would involve
loss of employment and income for many. Peace dividend in the sense
of savings on military spending and their impact on growth may take a
long time to be produced in Sri Lanka, and it is not easy to predict
at this point how big the savings are likely to be, when they come.
It may be recalled that this conception of peace dividend gained wide
currency in the post-cold war era when expectations were raised that
the USA and its Western allies would reduce military spending quite
dramatically and the savings would be invested in non-military
sectors and social development. Some groups and organisations also
demanded that the post-cold war peace dividend be shared with the
poorer developing countries. In fact these sentiments were strongly
articulated at the Copenhagen World Social Summit in March 1995.
However, the peace dividend that materialised was not anywhere near
the high expectations raised in the euphoric days that marked the end
of the cold war. The 'military industrial complex' is as intact as
ever and now it is deep into the violent business of disarming 'rogue
A broader conception of the peace dividend
Narrow economic conceptions of the peace dividend such as the above
do not seem to have much operational value in today's Sri Lanka. No
realist would chase after an illusory 'peace dividend' in the form of
reduced military spending or its positive economic impact in this
country at present. It is not rational to expect quick cuts in
military spending when the protagonists are still trying to find a
political solution to end a war bitterly and ruthlessly fought for
twenty years. But it is possible to create a peace dividend in a
broader sense by utilising the opportunities offered by the emerging
environment. In popular discourse, 'peace dividend' has acquired a
broader, though often somewhat loose, meaning to include economic as
well as social, political and psychological benefits that accrue as a
result of an ongoing peace process with or without significant cuts
in military spending.
=46or instance, the improvements in human security and freer human
mobility gained due to the removal of repressive controls and the
successful implementation of a permanent ceasefire can contribute
towards a peace dividend in the broader sense. These gains along with
the progressive removal of sources of uncertainty created by war go a
long way in enabling households to rebuild their livelihoods, which
were disrupted or destroyed by war. They can promote economic revival
in general even where military expenditure is not significantly
reduced. Further, even without a major cut in military spending, it
is possible to make the armed forces contribute to the peace dividend
if they can be redeployed for non-military activities that generate
or promote economic revival and enhance social security.
Peace, Development and Distributional Conflicts
It would seem that such a broader notion of the peace dividend
underpins the public discourse on the subject in Sri Lanka. However,
there is a need to more explicitly articulate this position and
relate it to the larger debate on peace and development. A basic
lesson of history is that peace may be development friendly but
development is not necessarily peace friendly. Capitalist development
has an inherent, universal tendency to be socially and spatially
uneven, and to generate distributional conflicts and create winners
and losers as a result. Social peace is threatened where
distributional conflicts and deprivation are serious and ignored or
mishandled by policy makers. Class, though a defining feature of
inequality in modern society, is not the only basis of distributional
conflicts. Gender, race, ethnicity, caste and religion are among the
key variables that interact with class in distributional conflicts.
However, the history of capitalist development also shows that
countries that consciously chose a social contract framed with due
consideration to some agreed principles of democratisation,
distribution and non-discrimination have been able to avoid major
violent turns of internal conflicts. It follows that, in a post-war
situation, peacebuilding and development have to be seen as
interrelated processes, and this relationship has to be governed in a
politically enlightened way to achieve equitable socio-economic
In Lanka, we find ourselves in a context that is both promising and
challenging in this regard. The peace process is promising but taking
it to fruition in the form of a political solution is a major
challenge. It cannot be denied that the ethnic conflict in Lanka is
rooted to a great extent in conflicts over distribution of resources,
opportunities and political power - in what analysts regard as
horizontal inequalities. These conflicts became progressively
communalised on the basis of ethnic divisions, which were politically
defined in colonial times and subsequently modified and redefined as
communalisation advanced into structures of the state and the polity
at large. Here, it is not my intention to go in-depth into the
political economy of communalisation and the latter's enduring
institutionalised presence in the phase of economic liberalisation
that began with the change of government in August 1977. I hasten to
repeat that there are distributional conflicts outside the ethnic
conflict and to stress that they have been growing under the regime
of economic liberalisation. The point I want to make here is that
development can contribute to durable peace if it can be so governed
as to make it socially, ethnically and spatially as even as possible.
This should be the main premise of a broader conception of the peace
dividend. Further, such a development process is a necessary
condition for the decommunalisation of the Lankan polity.
Lanka's record on both peacebuilding and development in the past
quarter of a century leaves much to be desired. The destructive
effects of the war are well known. The failure of the neoliberal
economic policy to generate sufficient jobs and promote human
development qualitatively and the accompanying suppression of the
rights of workers by all governments are also well known. However,
the government and the defenders of the neoliberal policy have
pointed at the war as the cause of the failure of the economy. There
is no doubt the war has had a devastating effect on the national
economy and its growth prospects. It drove investors away and
encouraged unproductive quick profit making (including socially
undesirable) activities while distorting the allocation of public
resources. It caused disinvestments, market failures in many sectors
and major economic contractions and mass deprivation in the
North-East. However, the war alone cannot explain everything that
went wrong with the economy from a social perspective. It would seem
reasonable to assume that without war the country's economy would
have grown at higher rates. But one cannot proceed from there and
assume that the higher growth would have automatically been
accompanied by an equitable distribution which in turn would have led
to all round human development. It does not make sense to causally
link the adverse effects of deregulation and privatisation on
employment, wages and the cost of quality health care and education
and the resultant social exclusion found in Lanka to the war. The
unfair exploitation and the privations suffered by the workers in the
=46ree Trade Zones have practically nothing to do with the war. These
and other problems such as the highly skewed spatial distribution of
the GDP and the high incidence of deprivation and poverty in areas
such as Moneragala are consequences of the neoliberal economic
policies so enthusiastically followed by successive governments.
Paradoxically, the war has helped make a dent on rural poverty and
unemployment in the South as hundreds of thousands of youths, mostly
rural, found employment in the state's armed forces. As the war
became protracted, the war economy expanded and absorbed a
considerable number of people. The non-liberal militarisation opened
up job opportunities for many who were excluded from the liberalised
economy as unemployable! However, needless to labour the point that
making war is not a desirable means of employment generation. On the
other hand, the dismantling of the war economy would throw many
people out of employment, and if the past record of the liberalised
economy is any guide, most of these unemployed are not likely to be
absorbed by it. Thousands of them may end up unemployed and many,
like their colleagues who deserted in the past, may join underworld
gangs. Such turn of events could precipitate unintended social
consequences. Further, after more than a year of ceasefire, the vast
majority of the people are more concerned about the rising cost of
living, unemployment and social insecurity, as revealed by surveys
Such concerns become even more serious when we turn to the North-East
where the challenges of rebuilding and developing the war-torn
society and economy are daunting. The war has redrawn the political
economic and demographic landscape of this region. It is widely
recognised that, at the aggregate inter-regional level, there is a
major development gap between the North-East and the rest of the
country and that this has to be bridged in the shortest possible time
in order to re-integrate this region into the larger economy and
polity. A fundamental concern, however, is how to achieve this
without reproducing the uneven spatial patterns of development,
deprivation and exclusion experienced in the south of the country.
The government has yet to show how it hopes to bring about a
transformation of the social geographies of exclusion in the south,
and the LTTE too has not explicitly articulated its own vision of
development. Of course, developing countries are subject to a global
imperial authoritarianism when it comes to choosing national economic
policies. Yet an enlightened political class cannot afford to
disregard the crosscutting questions of legitimacy, stability and
social reproduction. The LTTE, which is an equal partner in the peace
process, which runs a de facto state in the North-East, and which is
expected to be the dominant actor in a future regional government,
has yet to make known its views on the Lankan experience with the
neoliberal project. I think it is time we raised the question as to
how the LTTE sees the future development of the North-East in the
current global-regional context.
The Hindu /
Sunday, Apr 13, 2003
A beacon of hope?
As Radhika Coomaraswamy approaches the end of her tenure as United
Nations Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women, she speaks to
AMMU JOSEPH about global efforts to end gender-based violence.[...].
The Daily Star, April 12, 2003
ZIA neon sign flashes in Arabic
A huge neon sign in Arabic has been put up in the newly built
extension of Zia International Airport (ZIA).
A neon sign appears in Arabic at the extension of Zia International
Airport. The sign, installed a month ago, came as a puzzle to many.
Presumably announcing the name of the two decades old airport, the
neon sign was installed a month ago in addition to the existing
Bangla and English ones at the airport terminal.
This is the first time that a public installation announces its name in Arab=
A top official of the Civil Aviation Authority of Bangladesh (CAAB)
said they introduced Arabic neon sign out of a necessity. He however
would not explain what was the necessity. "If necessary, we may
introduce signage in other languages like French."
"You should be happy to see the signage in Arabic, shouldn't you?"
the top CAAB official quipped.
Another senior CAAB official told The Daily Star that the neon sign
was installed there at the instruction of some top policymakers. "We
don't know what is the need to have this Arabic neon sign."
Air passengers and visitors were surprised and even confused to see
it out there.
"I came from abroad last week and when I looked out from the window
of the aircraft, I was puzzled," said Shahdat Hossain of Kalabagan.
"At first I thought I landed in some Middle Eastern city by mistake!
Later I realised it's Dhaka and they are just trying to change its
"I have never seen any public installations with Arabic signage
unless they have anything to do with religion. What is the point of
having it at ZIA?" wondered Shahed Khan of Uttara.
[ http://www.matirmoina.com/ ]
The New York Times
Saturday, April 5, 2003
=46ILM FESTIVAL REVIEW | 'THE CLAY BIRD'
A Child Copes With Dad's Zealotry
By ELVIS MITCHELL
This is probably an unusual =97 but perhaps apt =97 time for Tareque Masud's
intelligent drama, "The Clay Bird," an offering of the New Directors/New
=46ilms series and easily one of the finest pictures of this year or any
other. Masud's expansive fluidity is rapturous, inspired equally by the
floating equanimity of Satyajit Ray and the work of the Iranian director
Abbas Kiarostami, who deftly uses ritual behavior to provide social
Set in Bangladesh in the 1960's, "The Clay Bird," showing tonight and
tomorrow at noon, questions the nature of dedication to Islam. It doesn't
attack fealty, but eventually rebukes zealotry by showing a boy's reaction
to his father's recent total immersion.
Anu (Nurul Islam Bablu) is sent off to a religious school by his father,
Kazi (Jayanto Chattopadhyay). Kazi =97 who once "dressed as an Englishman,"
one of his friends says =97 doesn't want his son tainted by the outside worl=
His obedient though doubtful wife, Ayesha (Rokeya Prachy), quietly expresses
through frowns her concern about Kazi's close-minded new seriousness. She
gently reasons with her boy, and the bright Anu resigns himself to his new
At the school, despite the rigorous discipline meted out by the teachers,
there's the cliquishness and hierarchical behavior found among any group of
young people. The boys initially ostracize the new kid but eventually accept
Anu gravitates toward the one boy who will never be accepted: the oddball
Rokon (Russell Farazi). Rokon can't suppress his enthusiasms, and he hasn't
learned how to play up to the teachers by pretending to go along with the
program, as the other boys have; they've already picked up the duplicity
that adults often mistake for maturity. (They have to conceal much of
themselves, since they're allowed to play only when practicing martial
The loss of innocence is only one of the motifs here. Anu's sister becomes
sick and suffers even more when Kazi refuses to let his wife give her
antibiotics. He's wedded to homeopathy and prayer as treatment.
Rokon is constantly rebuked by almost everyone. At one point, he's punished
by a teacher for using his left hand to write; it's thought to be
disrespectful. But Rokon keeps to his ways; his naturalness represents
sacrifice, the biggest casualty of zealotry. He loves his imaginary friends
and runs off to hiding places where he snacks on desserts that he claims to
have received from a nonexistent playmate.
The school does have one teacher not bound to rigid ideology: Ibrahim, who
recognizes Anu's decency and takes as much interest in Rokon's well-being as
he can under the circumstances. But it's hard when Rokon is plagued by a
buzzing in his ears, occurring at the worst times, as when one of the
instructors delivers a grim sermon on the conviction needed for Islam.
Masud's sensitivity gives the film a pungent emotional clarity; he
recognizes that na=EFvet=E9 isn't a province only of childhood. Kazi's a nai=
too, and learns the hard way that following a path without independent
thought is a fool's errand. He's ultimately devastated when he learns of the
civil war and Muslims attacking other Muslims: the revolution is coming and
it claims Kazi's way of life. His brother, the bespectacled, curious Milon,
can smell change in the winds and waxes rhapsodic about it. (He slips the
medicine for Anu's sister to Ayesha and gets scolded by Kazi for his love of
"The Clay Bird" is not without a sense of humor. Milon has his strongly held
beliefs, too; he's devoted to Communism and its ideals. Such a need connects
these men as brothers, and it's gently mocked: "Kazi's homeopathy and your
Marx party, both came from Germany," one of Milon's pals says. It's also
evident that Masud loves all his characters, even the small-minded ones =97
the sign of a real director. It's no small achievement to make a picture
that extols the necessity for clear, free thought while dramatizing the
barriers that challenge such a capacity.
THE CLAY BIRD
Directed by Tareque Masud; written (in Bengali, with English subtitles) by
Mr. Masud and Catherine Masud; director of photography, Sudheer Palsane;
edited and produced by Ms. Masud; music by Moushumi Bhowmik; art directors,
Kazi Rakib and Sylvain Nahmias. Running time: 98 minutes. This film is not
rated. Shown with a 10-minute short, Nilesh Patel's "Love Supreme," tonight
at 9 p.m. and Sunday at noon at the MoMA Gramercy, 127 East 23rd Street,
between Lexington and Third Avenues, as part of the 32nd New Directors/New
=46ilms series of the Film Society of Lincoln Center and the department of
film and media of the Museum of Modern Art.
WITH: Nurul Islam Bablu (Anu), Russell Farazi (Rokon), Jayanto Chattopadhyay
(Kazi) and Rokeya Prachy (Ayesha).
"MATIR MOINA" (THE CLAY BIRD) PREMIERES IN NEW YORK
=93Matir Moina=94(The Clay Bird), an autobiographical first feature from
Bangladesh, had its New York premiere April 5th and 6th at the New
Directors/New Films festival organized by the film society of Lincoln Center
and the Museum of Modern Art. The much acclaimed film, which won the
International Critics=92 Prize at the Cannes Film Festival in 2002, was
Bangladesh=92s first ever official entry to the Academy Awards competition.
Both shows of =93Matir Moina=94 were sold out two weeks in advance of the
screenings at the Gramercy Theatre in the heart of Manhattan. In his
introductory address to the audience, director Tareque Masud expressed his
happiness at being able to show the film in his =93second home=94 New York C=
where he and his wife Catherine lived for five years in the early 90=92s. He
received full applause from the audience when he added, =93But this is also =
very sad time to show this film, when so many innocents are being victimized
by a war that is unnecessarily widening the divide between the West and the
In the Saturday April 5th issue of the New York Times, the film was praised
in a review by well-known critic Elvis Mitchell, who called it =93easily one
of the finest films of this year or any other=94 and compared its =93expansi=
fluidity=94 to the work of Satyajit Ray and Abbas Kiarostami. Mitchell also
pointed out that that the film =93doesn=92t attack fealty, but eventually
rebukes zealotry=94 by showing a boy=92s reaction to his father=92s new foun=
The film screenings were followed by a lively and extended question and
answer session with the audience. The main actress of the film, Rokeya
Prachy, was also present on the occasion.
The Hindu, April 14, 2003
Sangh Parivar in Government
By C. P. Bhambhri
The Vajpayee Government has consolidated the forces of Hindutva by
using state power during its tenure of five years.
THE BJP recently celebrated its so-called successful governance for
five years from March 19, 1998, to March 19, 2003. The party
leadership congratulated itself on managing a non-Congress coalition
for five years. The BJP-led Government at the Centre has successfully
implemented the agenda of Hindutva as concretised by the Sangh
Parivar. And none of its 22 coalition partners has made even a faint
noise to stop the march of Hindutva.
=46or five years, the various outfits of the Sangh Parivar, under the
protective umbrella of the Vajpayee Government, have kept the Ayodhya
pot boiling. The Parivar itself constructed the issue and created
artificial atmosphere of pressure on the Centre to resolve the
dispute. That the BJP-in-Government and the Parivar are working
together on the issue is evident from the daily actions of the VHP,
the Bajrang Dal, the RSS, the `sants' and the MPs and the Ministers.
The Parivar brought "political sants" on February 24, 2003, in a
`procession' to gherao Parliament over the Ram temple dispute. The
Centre jumped into the fray and decided to request the Supreme Court,
as desired by the Parivar, to allow construction of a temple on the
`undisputed' Ayodhya land. While replying to the motion of thanks to
the President's address in March, Mr. Vajpayee said in the Rajya
Sabha that "no political motive" should be attributed to the BJP-led
Government asking the Supreme Court to vacate the stay on all
"religious activities on the undisputed land at Ayodhya". The Centre
told the Bench that it wanted to address the aspirations of the
community that wanted to use the "undisputed land" for "religious
The cat is out of the bag. The Vajpayee Government, along with the
large RSS family, wants to "positively respond to the aspirations of
the Hindu majority community" as it sees itself as the protector and
defender of Hindus only. The fa=E7ade that the "Ram temple movement"
was launched by the VHP, or the Bajrang Dal or the Sant Samaj was
further exposed when on March 7, 2003, the RSS general secretary,
Mohan Bhagwat, told the Pratinidhi Sabha at Nagpur: "It appears that
time is fast approaching for us to once again become active in the
mandir (temple) movement.'' Loyal swayamsevaks are in Government to
fulfil the agenda of the "Hindu rashtra".
The agenda of "cultural nationalism", which means "one culture, one
country, one nation'', is the real Sangh Parivar ideology and the BJP
Lok Sabha election manifestos of 1996 and 1998 make it incumbent for
the party to implement it. The manifesto, under the caption "our
national identity, cultural nationalism'', states "it is with such
integrative ideas in mind that the BJP joined the Ram Janmabhoomi
movement". Some statements of the BJP leaders would substantiate that
Hindutva has been on the march during the five years of the Vajpayee
Government at the Centre.
On the Gujarat incidents, Mr. Vajpayee and his deputy, L.K. Advani,
made many communal statements. While addressing the BJP Parliamentary
party on December 18, 2002, they said that the Godhra killings "were
not adequately condemned by the Muslim community". Is Mr. Vajpayee,
who observed that "Muslim leaders did not condemn the Godhra carnage
with the force it deserved", the Prime Minister of India or of the
Hindus? And Mr. Advani said: "We must not be ashamed of our ideology"
i.e. of Hindutva and cultural nationalism, a statement he reiterated
at the BJP national executive on April 4 and 5 at Indore.
At the same meet, Venkaiah Naidu, BJP president, said "cultural
nationalism is our life-line and Hindutva is the soul of India" and
this could be achieved by facilitating the construction of Ram temple
and by bringing in national legislations against cow slaughter and by
banning "conversions" as done by the Narendra Modi Government. The
=46reedom of Religion Bill of Gujarat lays down that "any conversion to
any religion will have to be permitted by the District Magistrate".
The bureaucracy's conduct or misconduct during the Gujarat violence
under the Modi Government needs no comment. The civil service openly
behaved as the BJP service.
The Sangh Parivar's definition of "cultural nationalism" does
violence to the definition of India as given by the Constitution,
which is a fundamental framework for the governance of our country.
India is a multicultural, multi-lingual, multi-religious, plural,
secular, democratic and federal country where social diversity has
been given a legal space to celebrate its existence. This is the
reason the Vajpayee Government wanted the Constitution reviewed. The
BJP and the Sangh Parivar are fundamentally opposed to the philosophy
of a liberal, pluralist and democratic Constitution. The `idea of
India' as enshrined in the Constitution is not acceptable to the RSS
family because its `idea of India' is constructed on the basis of
demonising Muslim and Christian minorities for whom "majority's
goodwill is vital" as stated by the RSS on March 26, 2002. The
Constitution guarantees "equal rights of citizenship", while the
Parivar considers "minorities" as "second class citizens" in Hindu
India. Hence, this Constitution should be reviewed.
The real levers of power at the Centre are with the RSS faithful and
the RSS is spreading its educational/cultural network by establishing
Shishu Niketans and Vanvasi Kalyan Kendras or Ekal Vidhyalayas as
=46riends of Tribal Society. The BJP is a party with a "difference"
because it has a distinct ideology of Hindutva. For the promotion of
its brand of Hindu culture, the Ministries of Education, Information
and Broadcasting, and Culture have to be in its firm control. It is
not without reason that Murli Manohar Joshi is at the helm of affairs
in the field of "culture" and Mr. Vajpayee and Mr. Advani are in full
control of the state apparatus which is essential for the
implementation of every programme of the RSS family.
The Prime Minister, the Home Minister and the PMO are in full control
of every institution of governance, including the powerful
bureaucracy, and they have immense capacity to bend all these
institutions for the service of the Hindu rashtra. The Vajpayee
Government has appointed RSS stalwarts such as Sunder Singh Bhandari,
Vishnu Kant Shastri, Bhai Mahavir, K. R. Malkani and Suraj Bhan as
State Governors, and Bhairon Singh Shekhwat as Vice-President
exercises great influence and informal powers to guide the
practitioners of Hindu rashtra while sitting within the official
Since `culture' is the main ideological plank of the Parivar, the
Government does not take any risk even with the liberals. M. V.
Kamath has been appointed Chairman of the Prasar Bharati Board for
five years and his book `A Reporter at Large' contains a mine of
information for the demonising of Muslim and Christian communities.
=46inally, a section of the media projected a so-called autonomy of the
swayamsevaks like Mr. Vajpayee or Mr. Advani or Mr. Joshi as
Ministers of the NDA Government. Such a Machiavellian obfuscation
suited the loyal Ministers of the Parivar but the real truth came out
from the Parivar itself. On March 10, 2003, Mr. Bhagwat himself
observed that "differences within the Sangh Parivar are... because
these organisations function as separate entities in different
spheres." And that "the only common factor is that they have a large
number of swayamsevaks in various capacities".
The swayamsevaks in the Vajpayee Government have to be controlled by
"extra-constitutional authority" of the RSS contact men with the
Government such as K. S. Sudarashan and now joint general secretary,
Madan Das Devi. The Vajpayee Government has consolidated the forces
of Hindutva by using state power during its tenure of five years.
(The writer is former Dean, School of Social Sciences, JNU.)
The Hindustan Times
Partition to Gujarat: A journey of decline
New Delhi, April 8
Khushwant Singh's new book, The End of India, is a reaction to the
communalism that is rampant in the country today. Witness to the
horrific partition riots, he thought the bloodletting was over and
done with. In an interview with HindustanTimes.com he says the very
fact that this book had to written indicates a very different
Do you think communalism has gained ground since 1947?
Definitely. While in the Nehruvian years, Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh
(RSS) and other communal outfits were under control, after his
tenure, communal attitudes have increasingly found acceptance in the
Indian public space. The Prime Ministership of Mrs Gandhi was
especially crucial in this regard. Since then the divides have kept
I thought the partition riots were the worst manifestation of the
communal tensions that India would have to witness. But so many
instances of sickening violence have happened since then, right up to
the horrific incidents of Gujarat. And they are increasingly going
How do you view the growing communal divides in India?
The country will go fascist. When all of us in the 1950s thought
communism would be the greatest challenge to our country, only Nehru
had warned against the danger of communalism. And he has been proved
right. Today communalism finds increasing acceptance. We have a
government that has three ministers facing charges for inciting
communal tensions. And yet nothing is done. People like Bal Thackeray
and his Shiv Sena openly take part in riots and nothing is done to
curb them. They are instead partners in the government.
There needs to be an immediate creation of awareness that communalism
is a real danger.
How can communalism be combated?
We need to fight it at every step. People need to speak up and take
action against these rabble-rousers. I have been writing against
those who spread hatred. People like me can only make noises. However
unless all of us embrace the ideal of secularism as defined by our
constitution, we will have more governments like the current one in
Gujarat, which transferred police officers for their failure to
encourage riots. Past riots too have seen governments encourage,
covertly or overtly, the rioters. This need to stop and the cases
need to be dealt with immediately rather than getting dragged in
courts for decades.
I have suggested certain steps in the book like redefining the role
and composition of the police. The dangers of communalism need to be
told to every Indian. We need to restructure the police so that in
each area minority communities should be over represented.
There have been repeated failures in dealing with communal riots? How
can we deal with them once they have started?
As I said, the police needs to be restructured. Also, as soon as a
riot breaks out, the police officer in charge needs to be suspended
immediately as breakdown of law is a clear indication that he (or
she) has failed in carrying out the responsibilities given to him.
Immediate curfew needs to be imposed so that the violence can he
We must also provide for immediate trial of those responsible for
inciting and perpetrating violence. I also want public flogging to be
reintroduced. There is a tendency in this country to view the rioter
as a sort of hero. If the person is flogged publicly, then a lot of
the heroism disappears.
Riots need to be taken more seriously. They are a clear indication of
the breakdown of our democratic system and that should be looked into
as otherwise it would have long-term effects.
The feeling of mass victimisation seems to affect almost all our
major religious groups. How can this issue be addressed?
We cannot wish away communal tensions. However we must make efforts
to overcome stereotyped notions of other religious groups.
There is especially no case for the Hindus, in a huge majority in
India, to feel victimized. But the feeling exists in all groups. The
Muslims and Christians can feel it with some justification,
especially as the Muslims have become the Jews to the Nazis of India.
One keeps hearing of statements like there are 3,000 mosques to be
targeted for destruction. And statements of people like Pravin
Togadia definitely will not inspire confidence among the minorities.
What do you think has gone wrong with our secularism?
The secularism that Nehru had proposed - a clear distinction between
the functions of the state and functions of religion - is the model
we should have followed. He had even spoken up to Rajendrababu for
attending a religious function as the head of state.
The Gandhian model - one in which there is equal respect for all
religions - was successful only for someone like him. It has
deteriorated since then and there is only a sham display of respect
for religions other than your own. We have corrupted the word to suit
The situation for India is bleak if we do not take heed now. We have
let the fanatics get away for too long. If we are to save India from
being dictated to by a group of fanatics, then we must speak up
against the fundamentalists and confine them to the garbage cans of
The Sunday Express
Sunday, April 13, 2003
ASI: history to politics
Neither the Sangh nor Digvijay Singh can claim victory in the
Bhojshala debacle. But, as the monument was thrown open to Hindu
worship, there emerged a clear loser - The Archaeological Survey of
Hartosh Singh Bal
The Sunday Express, April 13, 2003
RSS Dalit ace for Digvijay now
Ambedkar book to be released on his b'day highlights RSS viewpoint on
the Dalit leader
Hartosh Singh Bal
The Hindu, Sunday, Apr 13, 2003
Health centre ransacked
By Manas Dasgupta
AHMEDABAD April 12.. A health care centre run by the BJP-controlled
Limdi municipality in Surendranagar district in the Saurashtra region
of Gujarat was ransacked allegedly by the local Vishwa Hindu Parishad
and Bajrang Dal members just because it was reconstructed with
donations from the All India Christian Council.
INVITATION FROM AIDWA TO JOIN A SANGHARSH SABHA ON APRIL 24
April 8, 2003
This is to invite you to a Sangharsh Sabha
and dharna on April 24 at Mavalankar Hall Grounds, Rafi Marg, New
Delhi as part of the ongoing AIDWA organized struggle for regular
employment and low-priced foodgrains. The dharna raises the demand
for universalisation of the food distribution system and an end to
targeting, for reduction in the prices of rationed foodgrains that
are presently unaffordable even at the BPL level. We are demanding an
employment guarantee scheme with special provision for single women
and female-headed families. Women from over a dozen states are
expected to participate and representatives would speak at the
Sangharsh Sabha on their experiences and struggles. It hardly needs
to be stated that the demands being raised are crucial for women's
advance, indeed the widespread food deprivation faced by poor women
is an important factor in the devaluation of women's status today.
The struggle asserts that there can be no "empowerment" of women
without at least the minimum requirement of food and employment.
Com. Harkishan Singh Surjeet, CPI(M) General
Secretary has agreed to make the opening remarks to be followed by
presentations from women participants. They include Ms. Chinta,
Omvati, Ram Devi, Shakuntala, Shah Jehan, Sangeeta. We await
conformation from other speakers from different States. We have also
invited economists and Government officials. Capt Lakshmi Sahgal, the
legendary freedom fighter, will give the concluding address. A
declaration cum resolution on the demands and the future course of
struggle is also expected to be adopted.
We invite you to join the Sangharsh Sabha
that will start at 10.30 am to 1pm to be followed by a dharna till
4pm. Women coming from outside Delhi would be happy to interact with
citizens of the capital and would go back with the confidence that
their voices have been heard at least by the people if not the
Venue: Mavalankar Hall Grounds, Rafi Marg, New Delhi-110001
Time 10.30 am
If you require any further details please do contact us at 23319566
Please do let us know whether you are able to come. Please circulate
this invitation to your friends.
With best wishes,
Subhashini Ali (President) Brinda Karat (General Secretary)
2601 Cochise Lane
Okemos, Michigan 48864-2055
Sunday, April 13th 2003
Please see the following letter from Zubair Jafri, son of
martyred Ahsan Jafri of Ahmedabad. On behalf of all of you, I am
proposing to commend the Mayor of Ahmedabad for the right steps he
has taken in naming the Muncipal Office Building after Mr. Ahsan
Jafri, who was a pillar of Hindu Muslim unity.
He stood stoicly to guard the scared Muslims to protect them from
the Bajrangdal, BJP and VHP goons bent on murder and mayhem goaded by
Narendra Modi and the entire state government appratus until he
himself was butchered.
This single action by the Mayor Himmat Singh of Ahmedabad points
the way to make a new beginninng in restoring the sanity in India and
signals a way for all of us to work diligently for Human Dignity and
developing bonds of love and affection between all people of India
regardless of their faith or religion.
Please circulate this message to all your friends,
Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation names Zonal office after late Ahsan
Jafri victim of recent Gujarat violence.
Inauguration of Ahsan Jafri Bhawan (Ahmedabad Municipality
by Usman Gani Devdiwala (MLA Gujarat Assembly) on Saturday 12th April, =
Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation recently passed a resolution
regarding naming their new Ahmedabad Municipal corporation zonal
office in Ahmedabad to be named after my father late Ahsan Jafri who
was killed in recent violence in the state of Gujarat, India.
On 12th April, 2003 Mr Usman Gani Devdiwala (MLA Gujarat Assembly) is
going to inaugrate the building. Mr. Himmat Singh (Mayor of Ahmedabad
City ) is going to be the chief guest. Mr Badruddin Sheikh (chairman
of standing committee of AMC) is going to be present on the occassion.
I invite you all to be present on the occasion to support the cause
that my father late Ahsan Jafri stood for.
You can get more information regarding the time and location of the
function by calling Tanveer Jafri at 9825256303.
phone: (410) 295-7093
Social Science Research Council
810 Seventh Avenue New York, NY 10019 USA
=46ellowships for the study of Migration.
Deadline for submitting applications is May 15, 2003.
The South Asia Program is pleased to announce a new fellowship
opportunity for college and university teachers based in South Asia.
The fellowship theme for 2003-4 is migration. A concept statement
which lays out some key research questions and issues may be
consulted to help potential applicants identify their specific area
of interest. Fellowships are awarded through a competitive process,
there are no quotas by country of application. Applicant eligibility
is restricted to those permanently resident and teaching in
Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. There are no
citizenship restrictions. Eligible applicants must hold a Ph.D. in
the social sciences, humanities, or related fields. As many as 20
fellowships may be awarded to college teachers and university faculty
teaching in the social sciences and humanities across South Asia
annually. Up to fifteen fellowships are reserved for junior scholars
(less than Professor rank), and no more than five for senior scholars
(Professor rank and above).
The primary intent of the fellowship is to write up completed
research. We expect the fellowship period to be used to prepare an
article of sufficient quality to be published in a major social
science journal or to ready a monograph for publication by an
academic press. Fellows may also apply to begin new research or to
continue ongoing projects but these will have lower priority. The
average fellowship period will be between 3-4 months. Fellows are
required to (a) apply for leave from teaching and other
responsibilities (b) affiliate with a research center during the
Pending funding, all fellows will be invited to a fellows' workshop
and conference at the beginning of their fellowship period. This
fellowship program is operated in collaboration with five partner
organizations in South Asia. The partner organization in Bangladesh
is Centre for Alternatives, Dhaka; in India, Centre for Studies in
Social Sciences, Calcutta; in Nepal, Social Science Baha, Kathmandu;
in Pakistan, Sustainable Development Policy Institute, Islamabad; and
in Sri Lanka, Social Scientists' Association, Colombo.
Application forms will be available from each partner organization
starting February 15, 2003. The deadline for applications is May 15,
2003. Announcement of awards will be made in September, 2003. Fellows
will be expected to take up their fellowships between January and
SACW is an informal, independent & non-profit citizens wire service run by
South Asia Citizens Web (www.mnet.fr/aiindex).
DISCLAIMER: Opinions expressed in materials carried in the posts do not
necessarily reflect the views of SACW compilers.