SACW | June 5-7, 2009 / Kathmandu and Lima/ BDR Probe / Pakistan's Future / Rights and Democracy / Obama speaks Huntington

Harsh Kapoor aiindex at
Sat Jun 6 23:02:25 CDT 2009

South Asia Citizens Wire | June 5-7, 2009 | Dispatch No. 2632 - Year  
11 running

[ SACW Dispatches for 2009-2010 are dedicated to the memory of Dr.  
Sudarshan Punhani (1933-2009), husband of Professor Tamara Zakon and  
a comrade and friend of Daya Varma ]

[1] Nepal's 'shining path' (Daniel Lak)
[2] Bangladesh: The Pilkhana Probe: More Questions Than Answers (Syed  
Zain Al Mahmood)
[3] Whither Pakistan? A five-year forecast (Pervez Hoodbhoy)
[4] Sri Lanka: The war is over but the war against the media is not  
(Dilrukshi Handunnetti and Nirmala Kannangara)
[5] India: Identity Politics - Shivaji’s Statue in Arabian Sea (Ram  
[6] India - Questions on Human Rights and Democracy:
     - Fact-finding Team on Latest Developments in Chhattisgarh
     - Govt gearing up to gag news websites (Manoj Mitta)
     - The 2009 Lok Sabha election: a storm in the teacup?  
(Mritiunjoy Mohanty)
     - Third Front:  What was the left doing with the natural allies  
of the Congress and the BJP? (Editorial, EPW)
[7] Obama in Cairo: Nice and Dangerous, This Religion Laden  
Diplomatic Talk
   - Reinforcing presumed religious identities: where are women and  
secularists of Muslim countries in Obama’s speech in Cairo? (Marieme  
Helie Lucas)
   - We wanted a world leader. We saw only a US president (Ahdaf Soueif)
   - Obama misses his ‘tear down this wall’ moment (Tarek Fatah)
[8] Announcements:
    - Workshop: The Indian General Election (London, 25 June 2009)


[1] Nepal:

Nepali Times
05 JUNE 2009 - 11 JUNE 2009

Both Kathmandu and Lima were and still are city states in  
dysfunctional lands

by Daniel Lak

During the long dark years of the Maoist war in Nepal, many perplexed  
foreigners looked to Peru to try to understand what was happening here.

The similarities were striking. A mountainous land at the fringes of  
the modern world with huge inequities among ethnicities, economic  
classes and locations played host to a shadowy guerrilla movement,  
intent on overthrowing a central state. The Peruvian rebels paid  
homage to an ideology that many thought outdated and discredited,  
even in the land of its conception: China.

The insurgents fought in distant hills, attacking isolated police  
posts at night and depended for sustenance upon a rural peasantry  
caught in the crossfire. The Nepali Maoists themselves encouraged the  
comparison with Peru's Sendreo Luminoso, in statements, international  
tie-ups and graffiti on roadside rock faces.

Not that they wanted to emulate the fate of Abimael Guzman, Sendero's  
founder and bloody-minded leader. He was captured in 1992, and  
discredited himself by calling for a surrender by his cadres a year  
later. The Peruvian state's decision to dress Guzman in black and  
white stripes and display him to the public in a cage helped defuse  
the horrific fear of an entire nation.

Plans to put Pushpa Kumar Dahal in such a cage were no doubt drawn up  
in Nepali government circles in the late 1990s and early part of this  
century. They probably sit there still, stained with whiskey and  
tears, in some retired Army general's study.

Other aspects of the Peruvian state's victory over Sendero (death  
squads, torture dens and general brutality) were contemplated too,  
and probably not discouraged by the ranks of conflict resolution  
specialists from foreign parts who kept this city's hotels and  
bistros going in the darkest days of the war.

Mountains, Maoism, murderous violence, all these similarities  
occurred to any of us trying to comprehend Nepal's version of the  
'People's War' in the years before the Comprehensive Peace Agreement.  
We shuddered at the thought of this fair land emulating far off  
events in the Andes. The comparisons were both valid and spurious, as  
all these things are, as I was told in 2002 by a Peruvian academic on  
assignment here with an environmental organisation.
"Don't let them turn this into Peru," he warned. For my friend, this  
meant a horrific police state, a populace riddled with informants and  
an economy twisted by cocaine trafficking. "Nepal can't be like  
this," he told me.

Our conversation meandered and we decided that there was one crucial  
similarity with Peru that needed to be addressed here: the huge  
imbalance in resources and political power and resources between the  
capital city and the rest of the country.

Kathmandu is Nepal's Lima and still is: a vast black hole of  
corruption, cynicism and coercive power that both preys upon and  
ignores a troubled hinterland. Good intentions come to the city and  
become avarice and disinterest. Suitcases of thousand-rupee notes  
warp the processes of politics, compromise and peace building.

Contractors, dalals and influence peddlers abound, especially those  
with access to the foreign funds that our aidocrats fling about with  
impunity, disregarding their destructive impact on the polity. Both  
Kathmandu and Lima were and still are city states in dysfunctional  
lands. Both countries cry out for devolution and new urban centres of  
power that will distribute political power beyond their respective  
Ring Roads.

What's happening now in Nepal's regions (strikes, bandas, sovereignty  
movements) is a defacto form of devolution that was once dejure  
before Maoist comrades and their monarchist cronies wrecked it in the  
1990s. I burn with anger when I see a foreign voice raised against  
federalism or devolving power for I know that the willful ignorance  
behind such opinionating is a comfort to the soul of a mediocrity.

Nepal is not Peru. We need not follow the dreadful tarnished path of  
that tortured Andean land. But Kathmandu is definitely Lima. And the  
sooner it becomes just another city in a devolved, federal, modern  
state, the quicker we can drop the cross-continental.


[2]  Bangladesh:


by Syed Zain Al Mahmood


[3]  Pakistan:

Bulletin Of Atomic Scientists


by Pervez Hoodbhoy | 3 June 2009

     * U.S. government officials and media outlets have exaggerated  
how close Pakistan is to collapse.
     * That said, the speed of Pakistan's societal decline has  
surprised many inside in the country who have long warned of the  
effects of religious extremism.
     * The first step toward calming the situation--Pakistan's  
political leadership and army must squarely face the extremist  
threat, something they've finally begun to do.

First, the bottom line: Pakistan will not break up; there will not be  
another military coup; the Taliban will not seize the presidency;  
Pakistan's nuclear weapons will not go astray; and the Islamic sharia  
will not become the law of the land.

That's the good news. It conflicts with opinions in the mainstream  
U.S. press, as well as with some in the Obama administration. For  
example, in March, David Kilcullen, a top adviser to Gen. David  
Petraeus, declared that state collapse could occur within six months.  
This is highly improbable.

Now, the bad news: The clouds hanging over the future of Pakistan's  
state and society are getting darker. Collapse isn't impending, but  
there is a slow-burning fuse. While timescales cannot be  
mathematically forecast, the speed of societal decline has surprised  
many who have long warned that religious extremism is devouring  

Here is how it all went down the hill: The 2001 U.S. invasion of  
Afghanistan devastated the Taliban. Many fighters were products of  
madrassas in Pakistan, and their trauma partly was shared by their  
erstwhile benefactors in the Pakistan military and intelligence.  
Recognizing that this force would remain important for maintaining  
Pakistani influence in Afghanistan--and keep the low-intensity war in  
Kashmir going--the army secretly welcomed them on Pakistani soil.  
Rebuilding and rearming was quick, especially as the United States  
tripped up in Afghanistan after a successful initial victory. Former  
President Pervez Musharraf's strategy of running with the hares and  
hunting with hounds worked initially. But then U.S. demands to dump  
the Taliban became more insistent, and the Taliban also grew angry at  
this double game. As the army's goals and tactics lost coherence, the  
Taliban advanced.

In 2007, the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, or TTP, the movement of  
Pakistani Taliban, formally announced its existence. With a  
blitzkrieg of merciless beheadings of soldiers and suicide bombings,  
the TTP drove out the army from much of the frontier province. By  
early this year, it held about 10 percent of Pakistan's territory.

Even then, few Pakistanis saw the Taliban as the enemy. Apologists  
for the Taliban abounded, particularly among opinion-forming local TV  
anchors that whitewashed their atrocities, and insisted that they  
shouldn't be resisted by force. Others supported them as fighters  
against U.S. imperial might. The government's massive propaganda  
apparatus lay rusting. Beset by ideological confusion, it had no  
cogent response to the claim that Pakistan was made for Islam and  
that the Taliban were Islamic fighters.

The price paid for the government's prevarication was immense. A weak- 
kneed state allowed fanatics to devastate hitherto peaceful Swat,  
once an idyllic tourist-friendly valley. Citizens were deprived of  
their fundamental rights. Women were lashed in public, hundreds of  
girl's schools were blown up, non-Muslims had to pay a special tax  
(jizya), and every form of art and music was forbidden. Policemen  
deserted en masse, and institutions of the state crumbled. Thrilled  
by their success, the Taliban violated the Nizam-e-Adl Swat deal just  
days after it was negotiated in April. They quickly moved to capture  
more territory in the adjacent area of Buner. Barely 80 miles from  
Islamabad (as the crow flies), their spokesman, Muslim Khan, boasted  
the capital would be captured soon. The army and government still  
dithered, and the public remained largely opposed to the use of  
military force.

And then a miracle of sorts happened. Sufi Mohammed, the illiterate,  
aging leader of the Swat sharia movement, while addressing a huge  
victory rally in early May, lost his good sense to excessive  
exuberance. He declared that democracy and Islam were incompatible,  
rejected Pakistan's Islamic constitution and courts, and accused  
Pakistan's fanatically right-wing Islamic parties of mild heresy.  
Even for a Pakistani public enamored by the call to sharia,  
Mohammed's comments were a bit too much. The army, now with public  
support for the first time since the birth of the insurgency, finally  
mustered the will to fight.

Today, that fight is on. A major displacement of population,  
estimated at 3 million, is in process. This tragedy could have been  
avoided if the army hadn't nurtured extremists earlier. For the  
moment, the Taliban are retreating. But it will be a long haul to  
eliminate them from the complex mountainous terrain of Swat and  
Malakand. Wresting North and South Waziristan, hundreds of miles  
away, will cost even more. Army actions in the tribal areas, and  
retaliatory suicide bombings by the Taliban in the cities, are likely  
to extend into the foreseeable future.

Meanwhile, the cancerous offshoots of extremist ideology continue to  
spread. Another TTP has recently established itself--Tehrik-e-Taliban  
Punjab. So one expects that major conflict will eventually shift from  
Pakistan's tribal peripheries to the heartland, southern Punjab.  
Indeed, the Punjabi Taliban are now busy ramping up their operations,  
with a successful suicide attack on the police and intelligence  
headquarters in Lahore in May.

What exactly do the Pakistani Taliban want? As with their Afghan  
counterparts, fighting the United States in Afghanistan is certainly  
one goal. But still more important is replacing secular and  
traditional law and customs in Pakistan's tribal areas with their  
version of the sharia. This goal, which they share with religious  
political parties such as Jamat-e-Islami, is working for a total  
transformation of society. It calls for elimination of music, art,  
entertainment, and all manifestations of modernity and Westernism.  
Side goals include destroying the Shias--who the Sunni Taliban regard  
as heretics--and chasing away the few surviving native Christians,  
Sikhs, and Hindus from the frontier province. While extremist leaders  
such as Baitullah Mehsud and Maulana Fazlullah derive support from  
marginalized social groups, they don't demand employment, land  
reform, better health care, or more social services. This isn't a  
liberation movement by a long shot, although some marginalized  
Pakistani leftists labor under this delusion.

As for the future: Tribal insurgents cannot overrun Islamabad and  
Pakistan's main cities, which are protected by thousands of heavily  
armed military and paramilitary troops. Rogue elements within the  
military and intelligence agencies have instigated or organized  
suicide attacks against their own colleagues. Now, dazed by the  
brutality of these attacks, the officer corps finally appears to be  
moving away from its earlier sympathy and support for extremism. This  
makes a seizure of the nuclear arsenal improbable. But Pakistan's  
"urban Taliban," rather than illiterate tribal fighters, pose a  
nuclear risk. There are indeed more than a few scientists and  
engineers in the nuclear establishment with extreme religious views.

While they aspire to state power, the Taliban haven't needed it to  
achieve considerable success. Through terror tactics and suicide  
bombings they have made fear ubiquitous. Women are being forced into  
burqas, and anxious private employers and government departments have  
advised their male employees in Peshawar and other cities to wear  
shalwar-kameez rather than trousers. Coeducational schools across  
Pakistan are increasingly fearful of attacks--some are converting to  
girls-only or boys-only schools. Video shops are going out of  
business, and native musicians and dancers have fled or changed their  
profession. As such, a sterile Saudi-style Wahabism is beginning to  
impact upon Pakistan's once-vibrant culture and society.

It could be far worse. One could imagine that Gen. Ashfaq Parvez  
Kayani is overthrown in a coup by radical Islamist officers who seize  
control of the country's nuclear weapons, making intervention by  
outside forces impossible. Jihad for liberating Kashmir is  
subsequently declared as Pakistan's highest priority and earlier  
policies for crossing the Line of Control are revived; Shias are  
expelled into Iran, and Hindus are forced into India; ethnic and  
religious minorities in the Northern Areas flee Pashtun invaders;  
anti-Taliban forces such as the ethnic Muttahida Qaumi Movement and  
the Baluch nationalists are decisively crushed by Islamists; and  
sharia is declared across the country. Fortunately, this seems  
improbable--as long as the army stays together.

What can the United States, which is still the world's preeminent  
power, do to turn the situation around? Amazingly little.

In spite of being on the U.S. dole, Pakistan is probably the most  
anti-American country in the world. It has a long litany of  
grievances. Some are pan-Islamic, but others derive from its bitter  
experiences of being a U.S. ally in the 1980s. Once at the cutting  
edge of the U.S. organized jihad against the Soviet Union, Pakistan  
was dumped once the war was over and left to deal with numerous toxic  
consequences. Although much delayed, Secretary of State Hillary  
Clinton's recent acceptance of blame is welcome. But festering  
resentments produced a paranoid mindset that blames Washington for  
all of Pakistan's ills--old and new. A meeting of young people that I  
addressed in Islamabad recently had many who thought that the Taliban  
are U.S. agents paid to create instability so that Pakistan's nuclear  
weapons could be seized by Washington. Other such absurd conspiracy  
theories also enjoy huge currency here.

Nevertheless, the United States isn't powerless. Chances of engaging  
with Pakistan positively have improved under the Obama  
administration. Real progress toward a Palestinian state and dealing  
with Muslims globally would have enormous resonance in Pakistan.

Although better financial monitoring is needed, Pakistan's support  
lifeline must not be cut, or economic collapse (and certain Taliban  
victory) would follow in a matter of months. The government and army  
must be kept afloat until Pakistan is fully ready to take on  
extremism by itself. The United States also should initiate a  
conference that brings Iran, India, and China together. Each of these  
countries must recognize that extremism represents a regional as well  
as global danger, and they must formulate an action plan aimed at  
squeezing the extremists.

Thus, Pakistan's political leadership and army must squarely face the  
extremist threat, accept the United States and India as partners  
rather than adversaries, enact major reforms in income and land  
distribution, revamp the education and legal systems, and address the  
real needs of citizens. Most importantly, Pakistan will have to clamp  
down on the fiery mullahs who spout hatred from mosques and stop  
suicide bomber production in madrassas. For better or for worse, it  
will be for Pakistanis alone to figure out how to handle this.

Copyright © 2009 Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.


[4] Sri Lanka:

The Sunday Leader
June 7, 2009


by Dilrukshi Handunnetti and Nirmala Kannangara

If Sri Lanka post war was being lulled into a false sense of security  
that the island nation could now become the functional democracy it  
deserves to be, the brutal attack on well-known journalist Poddala  
Jayantha last week served as an eye opener that while the war against  
the LTTE is over, the war against the media is certainly not.

The attack on Jayantha, a journalist of repute had drawn worldwide  
condemnation that Sri Lanka is showing no signs of curbing attacks on  
the media. The innate fear among journalists is amply demonstrated by  
the fact that over 20 top journalists have fled Sri Lanka since  
January 2009 in addition to media activists and some heads of media  
organisations. Most of them prefer to consider silence is not only  
golden but also life saving. Hence, when asked for reasons for  
fleeing, they offer no comment. (Read box)

It was well known that Poddala Jayantha as the vocal General  
Secretary, Sri Lanka Working Journalists’ Association (SLWJA) has  
earned the wrath of the administration. While on his way back home,  
he stopped at a boutique at 5.40 p.m to purchase three vegetable  
rotties for his child. As he walked passed a parked white van, he was  
dragged inside and mercilessly assaulted for over 45 minutes.

Brutal attack

Today, Jayantha is confined to a hospital bed nursing a broken left  
leg and an injured right leg. After two operations being performed on  
a fractured leg, fingers crushed for wielding a pen, Jayantha’s  
spirit remains unbroken.

Jayantha categorically states that the state controlled ITN showed  
visuals of him on its segment called "After News" repeating an  
accusation by the IGP that some journalists were paid by terrorists  
to advocate media freedom. On May 22, a state run Sinhala daily  
called for the stoning and expelling of so called ‘professional  
journalists who grow beards.’

Jayantha who is known for his beard told The Sunday Leader: "The  
reference was clear. The stage was set for this attack."

Importantly, Jayantha from his hospital bed added that a  
transcription of the IGP’s hate speech was sent by speed post to  
Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapakse to impress upon the fact that  
his life was indeed in danger. "I subsequently hand-delivered a copy  
to Minister Dulles Alahapperuma after which the President summoned  
heads of media organisations for a discussion. Ironically, I came  
under attack while the discussion was going on," he said.

A dramatic turn

Jayantha’s abduction and assault took a further dramatic turn  
thereafter. Lanka-e-News Editor Sandaruwan Senadheera and News Editor  
Bennet Rupasinghe in public spiritedness informed the IGP about  
Jayantha’s incident when they learned about the attack and next  
informed his wife. Following this both were grilled by the CID and  
later remanded. They were released on personal bail of Rs. 300,000  
each by the Gangodawila Magistrate who rejected a police appeal to  
remand them until June 10.

Referring to the arrests, Poddala Jayantha accused the police of  
attempting to misdirect the investigation into his own abduction and  
assault and to implicate fellow journalists who did their duty by  
informing authorities of a criminal act.

In this oppressive backdrop, the New York based Committee to Protect  
Journalists (CPJ), International Federation of Journalists (IFJ),  
Human Rights Watch (HRW) and Reporters Sans Frontiers (RSF) have  
ranked Sri Lanka among the most unsafe places for journalists to  
live, a fact supported by the statistics of journalists who have fled  
fearing for safety.

While Human Rights Watch has openly called for an end to a post war  
media witch-hunt in Sri Lanka, the IFJ together with 28 other media  
associations have urged the government to end the war against the  
media. But repeated calls to allow the media to function normally  
have fallen on deaf ears.

Unabated crimes

The unabated crimes that continue here by no means could be justified  
in the name of patriotism. The final phase of the war saw the media  
turning servile and made to turn servile (it had experienced such  
violence that it had little choice) and today, the media’s role as  
watchdog has been severely compromised.

Let’s not also forget that to reach this level of an unquestioning  
and agreeable media, the dissenters have been put through a lot  
including closure, application of economic pressure, harassment,  
physical attacks and death.

A media institution head living in exile notes that it is tragic for  
the Sri Lankan media, ‘so vibrant and diverse in the past, to be  
reduced to this — a great disservice to the public.’

He adds that "Even if these series of attacks on the free press have  
nothing whatsoever to do with the government in power, the  
administration has blown its credibility by refusing to make any  
headway with regard to any of the attacks against journalists in the  
recent past."

Escalation of attacks

Since January 2009, Sri Lanka experienced an escalation in the  
multiple attacks against the media, the origins of these attacks  
being different.

Followed by the January 6 arson attack on the MTV/MBC Networks, a  
heinous crime was committed by a competent armed gang when The Sunday  
Leader Editor, Lasantha Wickrematunge was killed in Attidiya in broad  
daylight, just two days after the MTV attack. When Upali Tennakoon,  
Editor of pro-government Rivira was knifed with his wife by his side,  
dozens of journalists began to fill their departure forms.

In April, Editor of the Batticaloa based weekend newspaper Vaara  
Ureikal, M.I. Rahmahetulla was attacked by an armed gang carrying  
guns, long knifes and swords causing him serious injuries, the second  
attack on him.

To prod the readers’ memory of the treatment meted out to media  
personnel, we include a few highlights that tell a terrible tale of  
intimidation, suppression and physical risk.

Intimidation and suppression

A well known media activist and General Secretary, Federation of  
Media Employees’ Trade Union (FMETU), Dharmasiri Lankapeli had the  
Special Intelligence Service personnel visiting his neighbourhood in  
February to make inquiries about the activist. Last year, Poddala  
Jayantha himself had his house ‘mistakenly’ visited by the police.

On March 5, Mt. Lavinia Police arrested the manager of a bookstore in  
Wellawatte, one Sritharasingham, at his residence. Police told  
newspapers that he was arrested for distributing Tamil magazines  
published in South India and supportive of the LTTE.

Abduction and subsequent release

Another senior journalist, Sudaroli Editor N. Vidyatharan was  
unceremoniously hauled into a white van on February 26 and kept in  
TID custody over alleged links with the LTTE, only to release him in  
May after dropping all charges.

On March 11, the sensational abduction and subsequent release of  
Prof. Dhammika Ganganath Dissanayake, a former Rupavihini Corporation  
chairman and a senior lecturer at the Sri Jayewardenapura University  
demonstrated the fact that Sri Lanka was indeed on a precipice where  
media freedom was concerned. His alleged crime was a book he was  
allegedly writing that was critical of the present regime.

In March, Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapakse in an interview with  
Australia’s SBS TV named Sudaroli Editor N. Vithyatharan as a traitor  
despite police investigations ongoing at the time. This is an honour  
the Defence Secretary bestowed upon MTV Channel Head, Chevaan Daniel  
too in the aftermath of the arson attack on the channel, by labeling  
him a "terrorist."

The state run Dinamina has regularly carried blistering attacks on  
several journalists including Secretary, Free Media Movement, Sunil  
Jayasekera. Jayasekera earned the government mouthpiece’s vitriolic  
attack following his speech made at the launching of the Platform for  
Freedom on March 19 on ‘Sri Lankan media going through its bitterest  
moments in history.’

‘White-collar terrorists’

Around the same time, a JHU backed nationalist website made an e- 
attack on Vikalpa, an initiative by the Center for Policy  
Alternatives (CPA) as a white-collar terrorists’ collective. In  
April, Defence Spokesperson, Keheliya Rambukwella branded a media  
NGO, Panos Sri Lanka as a pro LTTE institution and claimed the  
government possessed a list of journalists who were paid to do LTTE  

Army Commander, Gen. Sarath Fonseka too in a television interview in  
May pledged action against journalists whose reporting ‘benefited the  
LTTE,’ saying that they would be prevented from leaving the country  
and be prosecuted for treason.

On a similar note, Inspector General of Police Jayantha Wickremaratne  
too has accused unnamed Sinhalese media-freedom activists of being  
paid by the LTTE to generate false reporting intended to implicate  
the army in war crimes.

And now with the LTTE Spokesperson Daya Master in state custody, it  
is now claimed that a list of 50 journalists who were on the LTTE  
payroll would soon be released.

If the events chronicled here are an indicator, they certainly do not  
inspire confidence in the minds of journalists to stay on and  
continue with their vocation. While the Chief Executive makes public  
calls for the return of immigrants to play a role in nation building,  
the words should be matched by state action.

As journalists are brutally gunned down, assaulted and others  
slandered and labeled as LTTE agents, it is as if journalists have  
been classified under the newly defined ‘unpatriotic’ category.

The war was the excuse for all the human liberties suppressed and  
violated. But post war, surely the culture of impunity must give way  
to an inclusive and democratic culture.


[5]   India: Identity Politics 


by Ram Puniyani, June 06, 2009

Maharashtra Government has taken a decision sometime back that it  
will erect the statue of Shivaji, in the Arabian Sea, a la Statue of  
Liberty in US. Shivaji is one of the greatest icons from medieval  
times in Maharashtra. This statue is estimated to cost around 300  
crores (ten thousand, thousands) as per present projections. This  
decision of the Maharashtra Government was hardly debated. Even those  
who feel that there is a bigger need for funds for other development  
issues, kept quite, as by now Shivaji has become a matter of big  
identity politics in Maharashtra. Every party with Maharashtra  
connection swears by him. While one is scathingly critical, an  
rightly so, of the statue raising spree by Mayawati, statues of dalit  
icons and of her own, about Shivaji there is hardly a ripple of  
protest, the debate about whether public money of such a big  
magnitude should be spent on the statue, has remained on the margins.

However what surfaced as the debate took the form of caste issue.  
There was a talk that Babasaheb Purandare, a Brahmin, who has written  
some popular material on Shivaji will be made as the Chairman of the  
committee overseeing the work of statue. In response Maratha  
Mahasangh chief, Purushottam Khedekar and others objected to a  
Brahmin heading the committee for a statue for Maratha warrior. They  
also threatened to use violence in case their fatwa is not followed.  
Not to be left behind, Raj Thackeray, belonging to another political  
tendency seeped in violent methods, gave a counter threat that  
Purandare must be retained on the committee.

It goes without saying that people like Khedekar and Raj Thackeray,  
sail in the same boat of intolerant politics, which needs to be  
condemned. Also the caste angle of controversy should be opposed  
thoroughly. Still one will urge that Babasaheb Purandare should not  
be on the committee. The reasons for that lie not in the fact that  
Purandare is a Brahmin, but because Purandare’s presentation of  
Shivaji is through and through communal. It picks up from the  
tradition of British Historiography, which in order to implement the  
policy of divide and rule, presented the history through the prism of  
religion. In Maharashtra there are as many images of Shivaji's as are  
the number of political streams. Purandare’s Shivaji, as manifested  
through his play Jaanta Raja (All knowing King) is primarily an anti  
Muslim King. Shivaji is also presented as the great worshipper of  
Brahmins and cows. Purandare’s total slant is that Shivaji wanted to  
build Hindu nation etc. which is not only far from truth but also has  
a very divisive way of presenting our past.

As a matter of fact, Shivaji is popular amongst people, not because  
he was anti Muslim or worshipper of Cows and Brahmins, but because he  
went into to reduce the taxation on the poor peasants. Shivaji  
adopted humane policy in aspects of his administration, which did not  
base itself on the religion. In the recruitment of his soldiers and  
officers for his army and navy, religion was no criterion and more  
than one third of his army consisted of Muslims. The supreme command  
of his navy was with Siddi Sambal, and Muslim Siddis were in navy in  
large numbers. Interestingly his major battles were fought with the  
Rajput army lead by Mirza Raja Jaisingh on behalf of King Aurangzeb.  
When he was detained at Agra forte, of the two men on whom he relied  
for his eventual escape, one was a Muslim called Madari Mehtar. His  
confidential secretary was Maulana Haider Ali and the chief of his  
cannon division was Ibrahim Gardi.

His respect for other religions was very clear and he respected the  
holy seers like 'Hazarat Baba Yaqut bahut Thorwale', whom he gave the  
life pension and also Father Ambrose, whose church was under attack  
in Gujarat. At his capital Raigad he erected a special mosque for  
Muslim devotees in front of his palace in the same way that he built  
the Jagadishwar temple for his own daily worship.

During his military campaigns Shivaji had issued strict instructions  
to his men and officers that Muslim women and children should not be  
subjected to maltreatment. Mosques and Dargah's were given due  
protection. He also ordered that whenever a copy of Koran came into  
the hands of his men, they should show proper respect to the book and  
hand it over to a Muslim. The story of his bowing to the daughter-in- 
law of Bassein's Nawab is well known to all. When she was brought as  
a part of the loot and offered to him, he respectfully begged her  
pardon and asked his soldiers to reach her back from the place from  
where she was forcibly brought in. Shivaji was in no way actuated by  
any hatred towards Muslims as a sect or towards their religion. All  
this goes on to show the values of communal harmony which Shivaji  
pursued, and that his primary goal was to establish his own kingdom  
with maximum possible geographical area. To project him as anti- 
Muslim and anti-Islam is travesty of truth.

Today rank casteist-communal forces are also in the bandwagon to  
‘use’ Shivaji issue for their political goals. One recalls that Human  
rights activist Teesta Setalvad had prepared a hand book of History  
for the school teachers some time back. In this she pointed out that  
since Shivaji was a Shudra, the Brahmins refused to coronate him, so  
a Brahmin Gaga Bhat had to be brought from Kashi, who did the  
coronation ritual. Since Shivaji was a Shudra this coronation was  
done with the toe of his left foot by Gaga Bhat. The local Shiv Sena  
went on to oppose this handbook on the ground that the writer is  
calling him a Shudra. It is true that Shivaji was a Shudra and this  
incident is true. Similarly Bhandarkar Institute was attacked by the  
same people, Khedekar and company, on the pretext that this institute  
had helped James Lane write a book on Shivaji. It is well known that  
this book mentioned a rumor about the real parentage of Shivaji.

While communal historiography has been the major tool in the arsenal  
of communal forces, now we are witnessing, caste historiography to  
settle the scores of contemporary caste politics. It is sad. What is  
needed is to overcome these caste and communal angles to build the  
nation, while giving justice to the deprived sections, while planning  
affirmative actions for the marginalized sections.

One also hopes the Government thinks of using the public money in a  
better way than raising statues. The making of statue should also  
take into consideration the ecological factors, and if these factors  
permit the statue, it should come up, with a proviso that the money  
for the statue will be raised from people by the committee. The  
government money should not be spent on this.


[6] India - Human Rights and Democracy:


An all-India fact-finding team visited Chhattisgarh from May 29 to  
June 1, 2009 in the wake of certain disturbing developments in the  
State plagued by Maoist violence, state terror, the Salwa Judum  
campaign and attacks on voluntary organisations (even Gandhian  
bodies) by the powers that be. The team held a press conference at  
the Press Club, Raipur on June 1. The following are the press release  
at the press conference and a memorandum on the demolition of the  
Vanvasi Chetna Ashram at Kanwalnar near Dantewada (on May 17)  
submitted to the State Governor, E.S. Narasimhan, and the  
Superintendent of Police, Dantewada, Rahul Sharma.

The members of the fact-finding team were Magasaysay award winner  
social activist Dr Sandeep Pandey, Lucknow; President, Chhattisgarh  
Mukti Morcha (CMM), former MLA Janak Lal Thakur, Dalli-Rajhara;  
senior journalist and editor, Mainstream, Sumit Chakravartty, New  
Delhi; human rights lawyer and women’s rights activist, Advocate  
Kamayani Bali Mahabal, Mumbai; editor, Combat Law, Dr Harsh Dobhal,  
New Delhi; PUCL, Chhattisgarh, Vijendra, Raipur.

The All India Fact-finding Team to study the nature of the problems  
faced by the people of Chhattisgarh in the context of the Maoist  
activities in the region and the demolition of the Vanvasi Chetna  
Ashram by the local authorities in Kanwalnar near Dantewada on May  
17, 2009, met the Governor of Chhattisgarh, E.S. Narasimhan, in  
Raipur on June 1, 2009. The team members submitted memorandum based  
on their visit to Kanwalnar, Dantewada and several interior areas of  
Dantewada and Bijapur districts.

The team, which did the fact finding from May 29 to May 31, met the  
Gandhian social activist running the VCA, Himanshu Kumar, Manish  
Kunjam, the former MLA of the CPI, and the SP, Dantewada, Rahul  
Sharma. The team visited the demolition site and spoke to various  
people (villagers, civil society activists, and local media persons)  
in Kanwalnar, Lingagiri, Basagudha, Kamaram, Bijapur and Dantewada.  
All of them confirmed and acclaimed the constructive work that the  
VCA has been doing in the region for the last 17 years. The Governor  
assured that he would look into the points made in the Memorandum.

On the basis of the interactions with the local community and  
authorities, the team members strongly suspect that the vindictive  
attitude shown by the authorities in demolishing the Ashram, when the  
issue of its encroachment was pending in the court, stemmed from the  
fact that the VCA’s founder had raised his voice against human rights  
violations in the fight against Maoists and opposed the Salwa Judum  

Memorandum on Demolition of Vanvasi Chetna Ashram on May 17, 2009

     * The Vanvasi Chetna Ashram (VCA) was implementing various  
government schemes in the area including Mitanin health programme,  
watershed development, water and sanitation programme in villages and  
Salwa Judum camps and Himanshu Kumar was also on various government  
committees including district legal aid committee. It is inexplicable  
why an ashram run by him should have been demolished. • We think the  
government should have been grateful to him as he has been doing this  
constructive work in the region for the last 17 years, without any  
vested interest.
     * As the matter of land is subjudice the action of the  
demolition of the Ashram by the district administration was unwarranted.
     * The authorities’ contention that the land which was earlier  
agricultural land in government records was changed to revenue forest  
land, is unprecendented. We think that the due process was not  
followed in this case.
     * The VCA was engaged in the important task of resettling the  
internally displaced persons in their original villages which no  
government agency had undertaken in spite of the Supreme Court’s  
instruction to the Chhattisgarh Government.
     * The team spoke to various persons (villagers, civil society  
activists and local mediapersons) in Kanwalnar, Lingagiri, Basagudha,  
Kamaram, Bijapur and Dantewada. All of them confirmed and acclaimed  
the constructive work that the VCA has been doing in the region.
     * The resettled villagers need immediate provision of facilities  
like PDS, primary health, primary education and public transport. We  
hope the government would do the needful in this regard without delay.
     * We sincerely hope the authorities would take remedial measures  
at the earliest to mitigate the problems of the VCA and enable to it  
continue its constructive work in the area.

[The full report by the all-India fact-finding team is intended be  
released on June 26 in New Delhi by Dr Binayak Sen.]

o o o

The Times of India
22 May 2009


by Manoj Mitta, TNN

New Delhi: Barely four months after dropping its proposal of forcing  
TV channels to show only an "authorized" feed during security  
the government is now seeking to censor news portals and other  
websites, that too even at normal times.

The controversial draft rules released this month empower a  
designated Central government officer to block public access to any  
information on the Net for wide-ranging reasons of security and  
national interest.

One glaring infirmity in the draft rules prepared by the department  
of information technology is that they make no stipulation for a  
prior hearing to the affected website. This is despite the fact that  
the web host who does not comply with the direction to remove the  
offending information is liable to be punished with imprisonment up  
to seven years.

While the abortive attempt to gag TV channels had been made through a  
draft notification amending the cable television network rules, the  
sweeping power to control the content on websites is being fleshed  
out in the rules drafted under the recent amendments to the  
information technology (IT) Act.

Though it was passed by Parliament in December and the Presidential  
assent to it came in February, the IT amendment Act 2008 will not  
come into effect till the various rules drafted under its provisions,  
including the one on blocking public access to websites, are finalized.

Under the draft rules framed under section 69A of the IT amendment  
Act, every state or Central government department will be empowered  
to decide whether a certain news item, article, blog or advertisement  
relating to its jurisdiction is safe to remain on the Net.

Once somebody sends a "complaint" against any information displayed  
on the Net, the department concerned will take a call on whether the  
matter in question affects any of the six concerns mentioned in  
section 69A: interest of sovereignty or integrity of India, defence  
of India, security of the state, friendly relations with foreign  
states, public order or incitement to commit any cognizable offence  
relating to the other five reasons.

If it is satisfied about the need to pull the challenged information  
out of the public domain, the department concerned will send a  
"request" in the prescribed form to the "designated officer" at the  
Centre chosen by the secretary of the IT department. An inter- 
ministerial committee headed by the designated officer will recommend  
whether the request to censor the web site should be accepted or not.

If the IT secretary approves the committee's recommendation to take  
action, the designated officer will direct the intermediary or web  
host to block the offending information within the stipulated time.  
In the event of non-compliance, the designated officer can initiate  
criminal proceedings under section 69A, which imposes a maximum  
sentence of seven years on the web host.

The only remedy provided by the draft rules to media organizations is  
that a review committee will meet every two months to check whether  
the directions to block information have been issued in accordance  
with the IT Act. Though they empower the review committee to order  
the "unblocking" of the information concerned, the draft rules are  
strangely silent on whether the affected website would be allowed to  
appeal before it and give its defence.

o o o

The 2009 Lok Sabha election: a storm in the teacup?
by Mritiunjoy Mohanty

o o o

EPW, may 30, 2009

Third Front: A Post-mortem

What was the left doing with the natural allies of the Congress and  
the BJP?

Among the big casualties of the recent general elections was the  
"Third Front" (TF) which had been the centre- piece of the left's  
political strategy to push the Congress into a corner and cut the  
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) down to size. Unfortunately for its  
promoters, who pitched it as the electoral and policy alternative to  
the Congress and BJP at the n ational level, it was largely rejected  
by the voters and has now been accepted, by its very advocates, as a  
non-starter.  The reasons for this crushing defeat are not difficult  
to spot and have already been identified by the principal players  
them- selves. It was an ad hoc arrangement cobbled together under the  
initiative of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) [CPI(M)] after  
its bitter parting with the United Progressive Alliance government  
over the nuclear deal in July last year. The primary binding factor  
of the constituents was opposition to the Congress.  Yet this  
opposition to the Congress was of a contingent nature for most of  
them. Even though, ostensibly, they all were opposed to the BJP, they  
had, other than the left parties, often shared power with this  
"communal" party. Crucially, there was no coherence in the policy and  
ideological positions of its constituents. If the All- India Anna  
Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam had construction of the Ram temple and  
protection of Ram's bridge (Sethusamudram) in its manifesto, the  
Telugu Desam Party had for long been the World Bank's global poster  
boy for "economic reforms". While the Telangana Rashtra Samiti's  
(TRS) demand for a separate Telangana sat uneasy with its ally, CPI 
(M)'s insistence on a unified Andhra Pradesh, the Marumalarchi  
Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam's pitch for the Liberation Tigers of Tamil  
Eelam's Prabhakaran was equally at odds with the positions of other  
parties. Further, it was clear that each of its non-left constituents  
had kept their options of joining a BJP-led government open. Lastly,  
all the main TF constituents, including the CPI(M), faced significant  
erosion of popular support due to their policies in government and  
were basing their chances of victory on the unpopularity or division  
of their opposition, rather than on any positive agenda of change.   
Given this context, one is sorely tempted to repeat Marx's o ft-  
abused line that history repeats itself, first as tragedy and then as  
farce. The present, happily deceased, attempt at a TF government at  
the centre has a genealogy which stretches back to the post- Janata  
Party period when parties which represented regional economic and  
social interests came together against the dominance of the Congress.  
Their strength came from two social strata: one was the peasantry led  
by the dominant castes of each region and the other was the non- 
metropolitan urban populations of professional middle classes,  
businessmen and industrialists. These social classes were in a  
struggle with the big industrialists and metropolitan middle classes  
for political power and economic resources. This struggle expressed  
itself in a political agenda of federalism, democratic reforms and  
redistributive economic policies. It provided coherence and strength  
to their unity, gave them a radical edge and they, in turn, helped  
democratise Indian politics by breaking the dominance of the  
Congress. Their decade-long struggle for political power culminated  
in the defeat of the Congress in 1989 and the formation of a true TF  
government which was anti-Congress yet distant from the BJP.  This TF  
was repeated in the form of the United Front government of the  
mid-1990s, which, in hindsight, can be labelled a "tragedy". Not only  
did it give a big push to neoliberal economic reforms, it paved the  
way, politically, for the emergence and consolidation of the BJP-led  
National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government. The TF provided the  
personnel, training in running national coalitions of regional powers  
and political space for the expansion of the NDA. If that was a  
tragedy, the present attempt has surely been a "farce".

It is not enough to merely dismiss the TF in such terms but is  
necessary to understand why it has come to such a pass. Today all
the parties which potentially make up the TF, whether it be the  
Dravidian parties in Tamil Nadu, Deve Gowda in Karnataka, Telugu  
Desam and TRS in Andhra Pradesh, Nationalist Congress in Maharashtra,  
Biju Janata Dal in Orissa, Jharkhand Mukti Morcha in Jharkhand,  
Janata Dal (United) in Bihar and Bahujan Samaj Party or Samajwadi  
Party in Uttar Pradesh, have a distinguished track record of opening  
their states to the most rapacious exploitation of humans and nature  
by capital while peddling various forms of cultural and regional  
chauvinism to m obilise the masses. In this they are led by the rich  
peasants who are clamouring to commercialise agriculture and thus  
transform themselves into rural capitalists, and by industrialists in  
the states who have seen their capital grow exponentially under the  
policies of liberalisation, privatisation and globalisation and are  
now among the biggest champions of such economic "reforms". In  
pursing this agenda, these social classes and their parties are  
natural al- lies of the Congress and BJP and, therefore, do not show  
any interest in bonding together like they did two decades ago. Where  
is the space, in this transformed agenda of the regional parties, for  
any form of radical or democratic politics?  The CPI(M), which has  
been the main proponent of the TF, should have very little in common  
with these policies of the TF parties. Unfortunately, in the recent  
past, its Bengal unit has shown a similar inclination, allowing  
special economic zones, dispossessing poor peasants for big  
industrialists and encouraging Bengali chauvinism to counter the  
Gorkhaland demand. It is crucial for the health of Indian democracy  
that the CPI(M) in particular and the left in general, dump this  
poisoned chalice and reaffirm their commitment to their own legacy of  
building mass movements on a  radical transformative agenda.


[7]   Obama in Cairo: Nice and Dangerous - This Religion Laden  
Diplomatic Act

[Having just spoken to 'Islam', wonder when President Obama plans  
speaking to Hinduism, to Christianity and other such enterprises.  
Given the nature of the widespread disease I am not surprised not to  
read any voices from the progressive circles so far to stop Obama and  
his advisors in their tracks and tell them not to peddle Huntington.  
The Inter Faith / Inter Civilization industry is a booming business  
in these times of crisis. Remember Divide and Rule is an old ploy. We  
in South Asia have paid a heavy price in the past, and killing in the  
name of religion, ethnicity, culture etc continues play havoc in  
Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal. A programme for bread  
and butter and social -civil rights for all and a clear separation of  
Religion from the affairs of the State is the best route take. Stand  
up for real secular democracy that acts and sets aside all this  
religicised, culturalised, and essentialised way of looking at the  
world that divides and separates.  Posted below are three comments on  
the pitfalls of Obama's religion laced diplomacy.
-Harsh / SACW ]

o o o


by Marieme Helie Lucas

June 4, 2009

It is beyond doubt that many people around the world, of various  
political opinions and creeds, will feel relieved after the discourse  
the President of the USA delivered in Cairo today. It is apparently a  
new voice, a voice of peace, quite far from Bush’s clash of  
civilisations. But is it so?

I presume that political commentators will point at the fact that  
Obama equates violence on the side of occupied Palestinians to  
violence on the side of Israeli colonizers, or that he has not  
abandonned the idea that the USA should tell the world how to behave  
and fight for their rights, or that the Israelo-Palestinian conflict  
is reduced to a religious conflict, or that he still justifies the  
war in Afghanistan, etc…

All those are important issues that need to be challenged. However,  
what affects me most, as an Algerian secularist, is that Obama has  
not done away with the idea of homogeneous civilisations that was at  
the heart of the theory of the ’clash of civilisations’. Moreover,  
his very American idea of civilisation is that it can be equated to  
religion. He persistantly opposes ’Islam and the West’ (as two  
entities- civilisations), ’America and Islam’( a country vs a  
religion); he claims that ’America is not at war with Islam’. In  
short ’the West’ is composed of countries, while ’Islam’ is not. Old  
Jomo Kenyatta used to say of British colonizers : ’when they came, we  
had the land, they had the Bible; now we have the Bible, they have  
the land’. Obama’s discourse confirms it: religion is still good  
enough for us to have, or to be defined by. His concluding  
compilation of monotheist religious wisdom sounds as if it were the  
only language that we, barbarians, can understand.

These shortcomings have adverse effects on us, citizens of countries  
where Islam is the predominant and often the state religion.

First of all, Obama’s discourse is addressed to ’Islam’, as if an  
idea, a concept, a belief, could hear him. As if those were not  
necessarily mediated by the people who hold these views, ideas,  
concepts or beliefs. As Soheib Bencheikh, former Great Mufti of  
Marseilles, now Director of the Institute of High Islamic Studies in  
Marseilles, used to say: ’I have never seen a Qur’an walking in the  

Can we imagine for one minute that Obama would address himself to ’  
Christianity’ or to ’Buddhism’? No, he would talk to Christians or  
Buddhists… to real people, keeping in mind all their differences.  
Obama is essentializing Islam, ignoring the large differences that  
exist among Muslim believers themselves, in terms of religious  
schools of thought and interpretations, cultural differences and  
political opinions. These differences indeed make it totally  
irrelevant to speak about ’Islam’ in such a totalizing way. Obama  
would not dare essentialize, for instance, Christianity in such a  
way, ignoring the huge gap between Opus Dei and liberation theology…

Unfortunately, this essentializing Islam feeds into the plans of  
Muslim fundamentalists whose permanent claim is that there is one  
single Islam - their version of it -, one homogeneous Muslim world,  
and subsequently one single Islamic law that needs to be respected by  
all in the name of religious rights. Any study of the laws in  
’Muslim’ countries show that these laws are pretty different from one  
country to the other, deriving not just from different  
interpretations of religion, but also from the various cultures in  
which Islam has been spreading on all continents, and that these  
supposedly Muslim laws reflect as well historical and political  
factors including colonial sources [*] - obviously not divine.

This is the first adverse consequence of Obama’s essentializing Islam  
and homogeneizing Muslims: as much as he may criticize  
fundamentalists - which he calls ’a minority of extremists’-, he is  
using their language and their concepts. This is unlikely to help the  
cause of anti fundamentalists forces in Muslim countries.

It follows suite that Obama talks to religions, not to citizens, not  
to nations or countries. He assumes that anyone has to have a  
religion, overlooking the fact that in many instances, people are  
forced into religious identities. In more and more ’Muslim’  
countries, citizens are forced into religious practice [**], and pay  
dissent with their freedom and sometimes with their lives. It is a  
big blow to them, to their human rights, to freedom of thought and  
freedom of expression, that the President of the USA publicly  
comforts the views that citizens of countries where Islam is the main  
religion are automatically Muslims (unless they belong to religious  

Regardless of the fact that one is a believer or not, citizens may  
choose not to have religion as the main marker of their identity. For  
instance to give priority or prominence to their identity as  
citizens. Many citizens of ’Muslim’ countries want to leave religion  
in its place and delink it from politics. They support secularism and  
secular laws, i.e. laws democratically voted by the people,  
changeable by the will and vote of the people; they oppose  
unchangeable, a-historical, supposedly divine laws, as a process that  
is alien to democracy. They oppose the political power of clerics.

Obama is claiming to defend democracy, democratic processes, and  
human rights? How can this fit with addressing whole nations through  
their supposed, hence imposed, religious identities?

Where is the place for secularists in Obama’s discourse? For their  
democratic right to vote laws rather than be imposed laws in the name  
of God? For their human right to believe or not to believe, to  
practice or not to practice? They simply do not exist. They are  
ignored. They are made invisible. They are made ’Muslims’ . Not just  
by our oppressive undemocratic governments - by Obama too… And when  
he talks of his own fellow citizens, these ’7 million American  
Muslims’, did he ask them what their faith was or is he assuming  
faith on geographical origin?

In this religious straight jacket, women’s rights are limited to  
their right to education - and Obama distances himself from arrogant  
westerners by making it clear that women’s covering is not seen by  
him as an obstacle to their emancipation. Especially, if it is ’their  
choice’… Meanwhile, Iran is next door, with its morality police that  
jails women whose hair slips out of the said-covering, in the name of  
religious laws… And what about Afghanistan or Algeria where women  
were abducted, tortured, raped, mutilated, burnt alive, killed for  
not covering [***]?

At no point does he raise the issue of who defines culture, who  
defines religion, who speaks for ’the Muslims’ - and why could not it  
be defined by individual women themselves - without clerics, without  
morality police, without self appointed, old, conservative, male,  
religious leaders - if their fundamental human rights were to be  
respected. Obviously, Obama trades women’s human rights for political  
and economic alliances with ’Islam’… ’Islam’ definitely owns oil,  
among other things.

No, this discourse is not such a change for an American President:  
Obama remains within the boundaries of clashing civilisations-  
religions. How can this save us from the global rise of religious  
fundamentalism, which this discourse was supposed to counter? He  
claims that ’as long as our relationship is defined by differences,  
this will empower those who sow hatred…/… promote conflict…’, but the  
only thing he finds we have in common is ’ to love our families, our  
communities, our God’… Muslim fundamentalists will not disown such a  
  In God we trust….


[*] for instance, from 1962 to 1976, the source for Algerian laws on  
reproductive rights was the 1920 French law; or, in 1947, the source  
for Pakistani law on inheritance was the Victorian law that the UK  
itself had already done way with.

[**] One Malaysian state made daily prayers compulsory; Algerian  
courts condemned to prison non fasting citizens in 2008; Iranian  
courts still jail women for ’unislamic behavior’.

[***] *** Shadow Report on Algeria.

(Reinforcing presumed religious identities: where are women and  
secularists of Muslim countries in Obama’s speech in Cairo? by  
Marieme Helie Lucas is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution- 
Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License. You may  
republish it free of charge with attribution for non-commercial  
purposes following these guidelines.)

o o o

by Ahdaf Soueif

o o o

by Tarek Fatah 


[8] Announcements:

Professor James Manor and Dr Lawrence Saez cordially invite to attend  
the following one day workshop:

The Indian General Election: The Outcome and its Implications
25 June 2009
Time: 10:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m.
Venue: Seminar room 116, Main Building, SOAS [London, UK]

Speakers (in alphabetical order):
  *  Oliver Heath (Royal Holloway)
  *  James Manor (Institute of Commonwealth Studies)
  *  Alistair McMillan (University of Sheffield)
  *  Rahul Roy-Chaudhury (International Institute of Strategic  
Studies, IISS)
  *  Gurharpal Singh (University of Birmingham)
  *  Carole Spary (University of Warwick)
  *  Louise Tillin (Institute of Development Studies)

The workshop will focus on state-based results and analyse general  

This workshop, unlike all others outside India, will have present  
three people who did field research and worked with the National  
Election Study at CSDS in Delhi.  We anticipate that this event  
should be lively and interesting, with plenty of opportunities for  
audience participation. Moreover, a sandwich lunch and coffee will be  
provided. The event is free but due to space limitations, you will be  
required to RSVP. To confirm your attendance, please email Dr  
Lawrence Saez at <s4 at>

The workshop is funded by the PSA's Politics of South Asia Specialist  
Group and is co-sponsored by the Institute of Commonwealth Studies  
and the SOAS
Centre for South Asian Studies.


S o u t h      A s i a      C i t i z e n s      W i r e
Buzz for secularism, on the dangers of fundamentalism(s), on
matters of peace and democratisation in South
Asia. An offshoot of South Asia Citizens Web:

DISCLAIMER: Opinions expressed in materials carried in the posts do not
necessarily reflect the views of SACW compilers.

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