SACW | July 2-3, 2009 / Refugees / Kashmir / Court Ruling on decriminalizes homosexuality - Homophobes oppose / Ram Narayan Kumar / Women’s work / Honduran Feminists
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Thu Jul 2 20:26:04 CDT 2009
South Asia Citizens Wire | July 2-4, 2009 | Dispatch No. 2640 - Year
[ 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 ]
 Pakistan / Afghanistan: HRCP questions voluntary nature of
 Pakistan’s Kashmir problem (Alok Rai)
 Punditry about Muslims (Jawed Naqvi)
 Some Thoughts on Developments in Nepal (Anand Swaroop Verma)
 India: Landmark Delhi High Court Ruling decriminalizes homosexuality
+ Full text of the 2 July 2009 ruling
+ End to unnatural exclusion (Shohini Ghosh)
Homophobia Unites Moral and Culture Police From All Religio-Political
Lobbies In India: Secular Forces Must Not Duck
- Legalising homosexuality will lead to sexual anarchy: church
- Govt resolve to act on Section 377 hits Deoband hurdle (Times of
- Excerpt from PTI report in Herald
- Excerpt from report in Times TV
- Religious leaders disapprove HC judgement on homosexuality
- Muslim clerics deplore homosexuality, lesbianism (Atiq Khan)
 India: The Rebellion in Lalgarh - The CPI(M) itself is
responsible for the predicament it is in (Ashok Mitra)
 Tributes: Ram Narayan Kumar - An Obituary (Pritam Singh)
- A Condolence Message from Naga People's Movement For Human Rights
 Protecting and Promoting Rights in Natural Disasters in South
Asia: Prevention and Response - Summary Report (Brookings / Berns
 India: Regardless of contents, Liberhan report is bad news for
BJP news analysis (Siddharth Varadarajan)
 Book Review: Women’s work - Never done and poorly paid (Nirmala
 A Statement From Honduran Women’s Organizations and Feminist
 Pakistan / Afghanistan:
Human rights Commission of Pakistan
HRCP QUESTIONS VOLUNTARY NATURE OF REFUGEES’ REPATRIATION
Press release, 24 June 2009
Lahore: The repatriation of registered Afghan refugees from Pakistan
does not meet the required standard of voluntarism deemed mandatory
by international refugee law, a report by the Human Rights Commission
of Pakistan (HRCP) has said.
The report entitled ‘Push Comes to Shove’ – whose publication
coincided with the World Refugee Day, June 20 – studies the trends
and patterns of repatriation of Afghan refugees through 2007 and 2008
to determine whether the process was voluntary.
The study conducted by HRCP’s Peshawar chapter says that even though
many Afghan refugees in Pakistan signed up for repatriation, large
numbers did so not because they thought that it was safe to return,
but because they believed they had no choice in the matter.
Refugees interviewed from camps slated for closure spoke of
harassment by police, lack of security, basic infrastructure,
education, health and livelihood opportunities in Afghanistan as the
main reason for their hesitation to return.
All Afghan refugees registered in Pakistan were required to leave by
the end of 2009. Those living in camps slated for closure could opt
to relocate to another camp. An overwhelming majority of refugees
declined relocation to another camp, not because they were keen to
return to Afghanistan but said they would not want to be uprooted
again when the December 2009 deadline arrived. That deadline has now
been extended to 2012.
According to the report, outside the camps slated for closure, “an
environment of persecution and intimidation was created by checking
movement of refugees and harassment at the hands of police. In camps,
houses were razed and businesses locked, often resulting in
confrontation between the authorities and the refugees.”
Repatriation may be the preferred solution for all concerned but
adhering to the principle of voluntarism must not be ignored and the
needs of refugees with additional vulnerabilities must be considered,
the report said.
“Any attempt to repatriate Afghan refugees must take into account
their willingness to return and the conditions back home, especially
security and shelter,” it added.
The Daily Times
July 03, 2009
PAKISTAN’S KASHMIR PROBLEM
by Alok Rai
My Pakistani interlocutor assures me that it is the hour before dawn
that is the darkest, that the present generation, even in Punjab, is
ready to move out of this mutually destructive cycle and start a new
chapter in the sad history of our sub-continent
(The present article grew out of a series of exchanges between two
friends, one Indian, the other Pakistani. “Kashmir” is a problem with
far-reaching consequences for both societies. It is important that
members of civil society on both sides of the border talk to each
other in a spirit of serious engagement, and so carry forward the
people-to-people dialogue beyond the not insignificant level of
biryani and banter. It is in that spirit that this view from India is
My proposition is simple — despite the proclamations of generations
of Pakistani leaders, Pakistan’s Kashmir problem has nothing to do
with Kashmir. It is a fact that the transfer of power in Kashmir way
back at the time of Independence and Partition was a messy business —
but that is over and done with.
As far as the UN Resolution is concerned, there is simply no
possibility of a return to the status quo ante. Even if it were
possible to imagine Pakistani forces vacating “Azad Kashmir” — a.k.a.
POK, but why bother to go that way? — and of Indian forces vacating
Indian Kashmir, there is no possibility of returning to that time in
which the plebiscite was supposed to be held.
Further, it needs to be asked: what is the nature of the engagement
of Pakistani civil society with “Kashmir”? Is it an engagement at the
level of our common humanity — in the sense in which I may, for
instance, be deeply involved with the tragedy of Africa? But if it is
something more or other than that, it needs to be spelt out just what
that something more is. Because the most evident explanation for
Pakistan’s special claim to a locus standi in “the Kashmir problem”
can only be in terms of the two-nation theory.
I realise that the state of Pakistan must have a somewhat fraught
relationship with the two-nation theory — it is after all the
necessary foundation for the state of Pakistan. But members of civil
society may well feel — on both sides of the border — the “theory”,
first propounded by the ideologue of Hindutva, Savarkar, was a
historical blunder, a catastrophic political mistake, one that was at
the root of millions of destroyed lives, Hindu and Muslim. It also
left the Muslims of India, the putative beneficiaries, somewhat less
politically consequential than they would have been otherwise.
(This rejection of the two-nation theory is entirely consistent in my
mind with accepting the present reality of two independent, sovereign
states, India and Pakistan, which should have mature relations.)
In the light of this, “Kashmir” becomes a way of addressing the
Pakistani problem of legitimacy — because if Kashmir can be
maintained as an “issue”, then the “two-nation theory” is still
available as a founding principle, despite all that has happened in
the last 60 years.
In the context of “Kashmir” that fatal “theory” raises its ugly head
again. Still, it would be the height of political irresponsibility if
it were to be legitimised now, and allowed to work its malign
destruction again, unleashing the ethnic cleansing that would
necessarily result in Kashmir — with its Muslim majority and its
Hindu minority, in Jammu with its Hindu majority, and in Ladakh with
its Buddhist majority. The notion of a religion-based plebiscite at
this point in history is quite simply a horrible idea — and one that
should be unthinkable even, perhaps particularly, in contemporary
Pakistan. Is it?
I do not by any means wish to suggest that all is well in Kashmir —
even in Indian Kashmir — I don’t know enough about the other one. The
Indian state has a serious problem with commanding the loyalties of
the people of Kashmir, who might legitimately be said to have a
problem with the state of India and its armed forces.
It may be argued that the widespread exercise of democratic franchise
by Kashmiris in the last election shows that the situation might be
changing — that the people of Kashmir have, so to speak, voted with
their votes, and voted not only in the immediate elections, but even
in that hypothetical plebiscite on whether they wish to be a part of
But it would be silly — worse, cruel — to pretend that “India’s
Kashmir problem”, and “Kashmir’s India problem”, has thereby come to
an end. It hasn’t. A lot more needs to be done — and trigger-happy
soldiers cannot be part of the solution.
But all this — and more, much more — has nothing to do with Pakistan.
In fact, the best thing that Pakistan can do for the people of
Kashmir — for whom many tears are shed — is to lay off, let be,
recognise that while it can certainly make things worse — difficult
for Indian forces of course, but also worse for the people of Kashmir
— it can certainly not make them better. Pakistani meddling —
infiltration, “freedom fighting”, etc — can only prolong the agony of
the people of Kashmir and their ordeal at the hands of Indian forces.
But is Pakistani civil society prepared to recognise this? It appears
that there is far too much invested — in terms of material resources,
of course — but also in terms of emotion, of national purpose — for
Pakistan to be able to let go of “the Kashmir problem”. This is not
the same as letting go of Kashmir — nothing is going to change the
situation on the ground, not in J&K, not in AJK. It is “Kashmir” —
the foolish fantasy of “freeing” Kashmir — that enables the Army to
maintain its stranglehold on Pakistan. The ideological investment in
“freeing” Kashmir — in schools and out of them — will not easily be
dissolved. Pakistan’s Kashmir problem is its inability to rid itself
of the notion that it has a role to play in the resolution of
Kashmir’s India problem.
There is of course the valid military insight that Pakistan can, by
keeping “Kashmir” on the boil, bleed India, and “avenge Bangladesh”.
But such is the dynamic set in motion by the explosive rise of jihadi
Islam in Pakistan that now India, too, can crucify Pakistan by
teasing it over Kashmir and so prolonging its ordeal at the hands of
However, it devolves upon civil society in both countries to force
their states not to continue with this cynical game, a game in which
Kashmir — and Kashmiris, “ours” and “yours” — are merely the pretext;
the instrument, the bloodied means to a suicidal end, a wilful
prolongation of the tragedy of South Asia.
But my Pakistani interlocutor assures me that it is the hour before
dawn that is the darkest, that the present generation, even in
Punjab, is ready to move out of this mutually destructive cycle and
start a new chapter in the sad history of our sub-continent. I am
writing this in the hope that he is right and I am wrong. Happy to be
The writer is a professor at the University of Delhi
2 July, 2009
PUNDITRY ABOUT MUSLIMS
by Jawed Naqvi
Farah Pandith (pictured above) is the US Special Representative for
Muslim Outreach. Pandith is a Kashmiri Muslim who immigrated to the
United States. - File photo
(AN open letter to Ms Farah Pandith, US Special Representative for
DEAR Ms Pandith,
Welcome to the chaotic club of seekers who have periodically set out
to engage with Muslims of the world, obviously with good intentions
but not always without a flawed plan to carry out the mission.
I use the word ‘chaotic’ to describe the experience so far, not to
berate your mission.
There were two recent messages from the US embassy in Delhi in my
inbox, one concerning your appointment by Ms Hillary Clinton to your
new position at the US State Department. An older message underscored
your participation in an interfaith dialogue in July last year, which
was sponsored by the United States Institute of Peace. Both messages
point to your keen interest in creating a global cornucopia of
religions, if I have understood the gist correctly, in which mutual
tolerance and harmony are the main attractions.
According to your new brief, you will carry out Ms Clinton’s efforts
to ‘engage with Muslims around the world on a people-to-people and
organisational level’. We are also told that you were previously an
adviser on ‘Muslim engagement’ at the State Department, serving as a
senior adviser to the assistant secretary of state for European and
Eurasian affairs. You have also served on the National Security
Council as the coordinator for US policy on outreach to Muslims, and
worked at the US Agency for International Development on assistance
projects for Iraq, Afghanistan and the Palestinian territories.
We are told that you are a Kashmiri Muslim who immigrated to the
United States. You have been quoted as saying that along with the
importance of education, you ‘also learned … to balance pride in my
cultural heritage with a deep attachment to the values of America’.
To set the context of your new job, the official note makes a
reference to President Barack Obama’s speech of June 4 in Cairo,
where he sought ‘a new beginning’ between the United States and
Muslims ‘based on mutual interest and mutual respect, and … based
upon the truth that America and Islam are not exclusive and need not
be in competition’.
At the interfaith dialogue, almost exactly a year ago, you supported
a participant’s view that groups like Al Qaeda exploit young people’s
search for an identity. ‘We cannot allow them … to take advantage of
things that we all in this room understand are just very natural.’
Allow me to make a few quick observations about your road ahead.
First, the syncretic culture of Kashmir to which you belong has been
subjected to vile abuse in your absence. Beginning with 1990 an
exclusivist and narrow-minded Islam was sought to be imposed on the
people by armed groups with the alleged support of zealots within
Pakistan’s intelligence and security forces. On the other hand, the
demonic logic of occupation has spurred Indian security forces to
brutalise the people at will, without accountability.
You must have wondered, Ms Pandith, how the tragedies of our times
are getting identified with religious strife. Take the important
briefs that you have held. The Palestinian question is posed as a
Muslim issue. Afghanistan is described as a religious problem. Note
also the sleight of hand, since the colonial era, in the orchestrated
positioning of identities. Shia, Sunni and Kurds in Iraq, for
example, comprise a scantly noticed absurdity: two religious groups
and one ethnic community. Does that ethnic community have a religion?
Wouldn’t the word ‘hydrocarbons’ explain the ethnic-religious
In Lebanon, it is the Shia, Sunni and Druze that beg the question. I
think the mischief began with colonial historiography. In India,
English chroniclers divided us into Hindu, Muslim and British period.
The subterfuge found an echo in Sri Lanka, where Sinhalese, Tamils
and Burghers are lumped with Muslims: three ethnic groups and a
religious category. Do the Muslims have an ethnicity?
This question acquires urgency because of President Obama’s speech in
Cairo, where he said America and Islam are not exclusive and need not
be in competition. Pardon me for saying so, but his formulation was
inane, possibly rooted in a poor management of specificity. Not even
the state of Israel will claim that it has a deep-rooted suspicion of
Islam. What the world would like to know from Mr Obama is why
apologists of the Fukuyama and Huntington worldview are still
powerful in the US Congress, and in the White House in his watch.
Where was the need to mask America’s obvious allergies with political
Islam? Even Muslims have problems with extremist categories of fellow
believers. What the middle-path Muslim youth, the constituency that
you are seeking to address, would like to hear from the White House
(and you) is an assurance that no US presidential candidate will
henceforth do genuflection before the Israeli lobby (not to be
confused with the Jewish people, the most revered of whom is Noam
Chomsky) no matter how influential they are in your adopted country.
When you embark on your mission, Ms Pandith, you would realise the
truth of my submission — from Indonesia to Morocco. You will meet
fairly moderate Muslims, who are willing to bend key prescriptions of
religious beliefs but would not flinch from their core beliefs in
humanism and fair play. At present there is a yawning gap between
religious punditry and the need for a just and peaceful global order.
To achieve that you would need to reach out to the world’s dwindling
liberal community regardless of their religious affiliations. They
are the most marginalised everywhere. Sincerely.
The writer is Dawn’s correspondent in Delhi.
SOME THOUGHTS ON DEVELOPMENTS IN NEPAL
by Anand Swaroop Verma, 30 June 2009
Translation of the Hindi article published in the June 2009 issue of
FILHAAL, a radical Hindi fortnightly published from Patna.
After the resignation of the Prime Minister, Mr Pushp Kamal Dahal “
Prachand” the political parties once again have created the situation
which reminds of the days of the 12-point agreement which took place
in November 2005. The 12 point understanding was reached at that time
between the CPN-Maoists (which was underground and carrying out
peoples’ war) and seven parliamentary parties. This was a historic
accord as based on this the programme which was framed that
culminated in November 2006 peace agreement, election to the
Constituent Assembly and establishment of republic. If 12- point
accord was not signed then the monarchy would not have been thrown
out so soon in Nepal. This is worth recalling that America had
brazenly launched a campaign against the accord. The then US
Ambassador to Nepal, Mr James Moriarty had advised the parliamentary
parties not to join hands with the Maoists and instead should face
the Maoists in league with King Gyanendra. He also told the parties
that even if they had signed the accord they should come out of it
and do some evaluation. This is imperative to mention that this
agreement was signed in Delhi and at a time when the government of
India was also busy arresting the Maoists of Nepal. Obviously this
accord could not have been signed without the consent and knowledge
of India. Since the image of Nepali Congress of the then Nepal prime
minister, Mr Girija Pradad Koirala has been quite good in the eyes of
the Indian government, this accord could be signed in India due to
his efforts. However after some time once the situation completely
normalised it was revealed that Mr Prachanda had suggested to hold
the meeting in Rolpa and had even offered to ensure the security of
the political leaders but Mr Koirala did not agree for this. Instead
he selected Delhi while giving guarantee of security to Mr Prachanda
and his colleagues. In fact once Mr Gyanendra took control of power
on February 1, 2005 and launched the drive to arrest the leaders of
the parliamentary parties then they realized the need for joining
hands with the Maoists for providing strength to fight against
monarchy. Maoists were also looking for proper opportunity to forge
alliance with parliamentary parties.
The American reaction to this accord also revealed that
notwithstanding mutual cooperation between India and US on many issue
of having control on Nepal they have sever contradictions. India
treats a strong presence of America in Nepal against its national
The political polarization in Nepal on the issue of dismissal of the
old Shahi army chief Rukmangad Katwal to a large extent is the
manifestation of the American desire that all the parties should form
a front against Maoists. Monarchy has been abolished but its remnants
are present in the form of Katwal and once again America, which had
earlier lost the game, has tried to turn the situation in its favour.
[. . .]
Full text at: http://www.sacw.net/article981.html
 India: Great Leap forward - Landmark Ruling by Delhi Court
decriminalized homosexuality by striking down section 377 of the
Indian Penal Code.
+ FULL TEXT OF THE DELHI HIGH COURT DECISION - WP(C) NO.7455/2001
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END TO UNNATURAL EXCLUSION
by Shohini Ghosh
New Delhi, July 02, 2009
In a historic judgement, a two-judge bench comprising Chief Justice
A P Shah and Justice Murlidharan has decriminalised non-heterosexual
sex between consenting adults. In an eloquently argued judgement of
150 pages, the bench has struck down Section 377 of the Indian Penal
Code (IPC), a colonial legislation drafted by Lord Macaulay in 1860,
that criminalised “carnal intercourse against the order of nature”
punishable by imprisonment extending up to ten years. India was one
of the few countries left in the world that criminalised and
discriminated on the basis of sexual orientation. By overturning
Section 377, the Delhi High Court has foregrounded the importance of
sexual rights, lent dignity to people of different sexualities and
upheld the Constitutional values of democracy and equality.
Arguing that Section 377 is violative of Articles 21 (right to life
and personal liberty), Article 14 (equality before law and equal
protection from law) and Article 15 (prohibiting discrimination on
several grounds including sex), the judgement holds that if there is
one “constitutional tenet” that can be considered an “underlying
theme” of the Indian Constitution, it is “inclusiveness”.
Nurtured over many years, “inclusiveness” recognises “a role in
society for everyone” where “those perceived by the majority as
‘deviants’ or ‘different’ are not ‘excluded or ostracised’”. It
argues that “Constitutional law does not permit the statutory
criminal law to be held captive by the popular misconceptions of who
the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) are. It cannot be
forgotten that discrimination is the antithesis of equality and that
it is the recognition of equality which will foster the dignity of
However, it retains the provisions of Section 377 to govern “non-
consensual penile non-vaginal sex and penile non-vaginal sex
involving minors” thereby allowing child sexual offenders to be
prosecuted under it. However, it is now being strongly argued that
child rights are best protected, not by the provisions of 377, but an
entirely separate law.
This visionary judgement is the culmination of a ten-year legal
battle. In 2001 Naz Foundation (an NGO related to HIV/Aids issues)
filed a petition in the Delhi High Court asking for Section 377 to be
‘read down’ by decriminalising consensual sex among adults. In
September 2003, the Government insisted on retaining Section 377 on
the grounds that ‘Indian society’s disapproval of homosexuality was
strong enough to justify it being treated as a criminal offence even
where adults indulge in it in private’.
In February 2006, the Supreme Court ordered the High Court to
reconsider the constitutional validity of Section 377. The Naz
Foundation petition was supported by Voices Against 377, comprising
12 organisations across the country while it was being opposed by the
government of Delhi and others. The position of the government
(represented by the Ministries of Health and Law) has been conflicted
while many of its affiliates demanded decriminalisation.
Naco (National Aids Control Organisation) demanded the scrapping of
Section 377 as it was obstructing effective health interventions. The
172nd report of the Law Commission of India and the recommendations
of the National Planning Commission for the 11th Five Year Plan also
demanded decriminalisation of homosexuality.
In the last two decades, LGBT activism played a major role in
creating awareness on the issue. In 2006 writer Vikram Seth released
a public letter demanding that the “cruel” law be struck down. The
letter was supported by a large number of signatories including
Captain Lakshmi Sehgal, Aruna Roy, Soli Sorabjee, Shyam Benegal,
Shubha Mudgal, Arundhati Roy, Aparna Sen, Mrinalini Sarabhai and
demanded the scrapping of the “brutal law” that “punitively
criminalises romantic love and private, consensual sexual acts
between adults of the same sex” while being used to “systematically
persecute, blackmail, arrest and terrorise sexual minorities”.
Amartya Sen also asked for an abolition of the “colonial era
monstrosity” that ran contrary to “the enhancement of human freedom”
and India’s commitment to “democracy and human rights”.
Like all laws, Section 377 was used both inside and outside the
courtroom. In 2001, activists of Bharosa Trust, Lucknow were arrested
under Section 377 for running a “gay racket” and conspiring to
“promote homosexuality” through advocating safe sex practices among
homosexual and bisexual men. In 2006, the Lucknow police entrapped
five gay men by tracking them over the internet and then arresting
them under Section 377. For years, police have used Section 377 to
extort, threaten, intimidate and harass LGBT people. Commenting on
how law-enforcers can misuse such penalisable offences, Amartya Sen
observed that the harm done by such an “an unjust law” can,
therefore, “be far larger than would be indicated by cases of actual
It remains to be seen how the UPA government responds to a judgement
that derives its inspiration from a Nehruvian vision of ‘Equality’.
While moving the ‘Objective Resolution’ on December 13, 1946,
Jawaharlal Nehru said (and the Judgement quotes): “Words are magic
things often enough, but even the magic of words sometimes cannot
convey the magic of the human spirit and of a Nation’s passion. [The
Resolution] seeks very feebly to tell the world of what we have
thought or dreamt of so long, and what we now hope to achieve in the
These words no doubt echo the feelings and aspirations of all LGBT
people and their friends and family.
Shohini Ghosh is Sajjad Zaheer Professor at the AJK Mass
Communication Research Centre, Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi
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HOMOPHOBIA UNITES MORAL POLICE FROM ALL RELIGIO-POLITICAL LOBBIES IN
[The 2 July 2009 judgement by the Delhi high court is a great victory
for human rights; but all secular forces must be beware that all the
major religious and conservative forces will unite to block and
oppose the full legalisation of homosexuality in India. So lets us
firmly fight them back on a secular platform. A common front of
retrogressive forces from the religious spectrum ranging from
Maulvis, catholic clergymen, Hindutva types and also people from
mainstream political parties are likely to appeal and challenge legal
decision and any moves to develop state policy. A selection of
reports and excerpts from the Indian press is posted below. -hk]
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The Hindu, July 2, 2009 : 2015 Hrs
LEGALISING HOMOSEXUALITY WILL LEAD TO SEXUAL ANARCHY: CHURCH
Kochi (PTI): Expressing reservation over the Delhi High court
judgement legalising homosexuality, the Catholic Church in Kerala on
Thursday said this would 'open up' the society to 'sexual anarchy'.
"Though Homosexual act is immoral, we should be merciful, considerate
to people with homosexual tendencies. However, that does not mean
they have the right to the homosexual act," the Catholic Church
spokesperson Paul Thelekat said.
"Legalising gay sex will open up the society to some sort of sexual
anarchy. Perhaps Indian culture is being eroded by the western
promiscuous culture," he said.
The Church would work with every sensitive person and community to
keep the moral fabric of the society intact, he said.
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Times of India
GOVT RESOLVE TO ACT ON SECTION 377 HITS DEOBAND HURDLE
30 June 2009
NEW DELHI: Islamic seminary Deoband's condemnation on Monday of moves
to repeal Section 377 of IPC to legalise same sex liaisons -- by
a wish of an "ungodly few" -- set off fears that conservative
religious opinion could dilute the resolve of the government to
The seminary, reacting to statements from government circles that
there was a case for scratching Section 377, called it a
"contemptible move likely to corrupt the gullible in society". The
strong criticism may well increase the wariness that has marked the
reactions of ministers after initially signalling a preparedness to
While there was a strong reaction from Muslim clerics in general,
their stand was bolstered by Deoband with deputy V-C of Darul-Uloom,
Mufti Mohammad Abdul Khalik Madrasi, warning, "Homosexuality is an
offence under Shariat law and haram (prohibited) in Islam."
Two days after reactions from Union ministers raised hope among
groups working for its repeal, the mood was one of caution and the
ruling Congress itself made it clear that it had no particular views
on the matter. The apprehensions are largely on account of
conservative opinion from religious quarters, which can have a social
resonance and are seen to have a political impact as well.
What may make withdrawal of Section 377 a challenge are hints of
convergence across religious barriers against the move. Mohammad
Arshad Farukhi from the fatwa department of Darul-Uloom said, "A
joint forum of Hindus, Muslims and Christians must be set up to check
the government from making the offending legislation."
It has tempered the aggression in government. Law minister Veerappa
Moily assured that a wide debate on the issue would take care of
reservations of Christian groups. "The government cannot take a
decision in a hurry. We need to apply our mind," he said in
Hyderabad, adding, "We are examining it."
Health minister Ghulam Nabi Azad was as non-committal. "I can simply
say there should be more debate -- public debate, Parliament debate.
There has to be a consensus. The negative and positive has to be
evaluated and then a conclusion should be evolved," he said.
Azad favoured a debate in Parliament, saying, "There should be a
total consensus. Not only government, but other political parties
should also be in line with it (amendment)."
As the two key ministers advocated debate and consensus, Congress
refused to take sides on the issue. "This is under consideration of
the government. It is a normal government process. The party does not
have any opinion on it," party spokesman Shakeel Ahmed said in
response to queries about the party's stand on repealing Section 377.
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EXCERPT FROM PTI REPORT IN HERALD
"While Rt Rev Abraham Mar Paulos Episcopa, head of Marthoma Syrian
Church of Malabar diocesan, said homosexuality is not at all
acceptable and agreeable as it is against the tenets of Bible.
According to Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind, repeal of the section would create
“sexual anarchy” in the society.
VHP said homosexuality is against the culture and family system in
India and will result in spread of number of diseases."
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EXCERPT FROM REPORT IN TIMES TV
"Kamal Farooqui, Member, All India Muslim Personal Law Board,
speaking against the judgement said, "This judgement is just to
please our western and american friends. In Indian socieity this is
not accceptable whether Muslim or Hindu. Basically we are a religious
society. Our temperament is that homosexual act is an unnatural act."
Amar singh, General Secretary, Samajwadi Party, also speaking against
the high court order said that the party does not support
homosexuality or sexual relations between the same sex."
Meanwhile, Maulana Wahiduddin Khan, Islamic scholar, said, "As far as
the practice of homosexuality is concerned, I think that is
Acharya Giriraj Kishore, VHP Leader, not in favour of the judgement
said that the high court order is unfortunate and that it would
destroy the society."
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RELIGIOUS LEADERS DISAPPROVE HC JUDGEMENT ON HOMOSEXUALITY
Posted: Thursday , July 02, 2009 at 1326 hrs IST New Delhi:
Certain religious leaders on Thursday strongly disapproved of the
Delhi High Court judgement which legalised gay sex among consenting
adults. "This is absolutely wrong to legalise homosexuality. We will
not accept any such law," Jama Masjid Imam Ahmed Bukhari said. He
also critcised the government for trying to amend the Indian Penal
Code to scrap section 377 that criminalizes homosexuality. "If the
government makes such attempt to scrap the Section 377, we will
oppose it strongly," Bukhari said.
All India Muslim Personal Law Board member Maulana Khalid Rashid
Firangi Mahli said homosexuality is not allowed by any religion. "It
is against all religions. It is against the culture of Indian
society. We feel there is no need to legalise homosexuality. This
practice is unnatural. It should continue as a criminal act," he
said. Father Dominic Immanuel said that churches have no objection to
decriminalisation of homosexuality but it should not be legalised.
"We have no objection to decriminalisation of homosexuality because
we do not consider these people as criminals on par with other
criminals," Immanuel said.
However, churches do not approve of homosexual relations as ethical
and moral right of the people, he said. "It is against nature.Our
position is that homosexuality should not be legalised," he said,
adding such practice will increase paedophilia and HIV/AIDS. The
court said Section 377 of the IPC as far as it criminalises gay sex
among consenting adults is violation of fundamental rights.
o o o
July 03, 2009
MUSLIM CLERICS DEPLORE HOMOSEXUALITY, LESBIANISM
by Atiq Khan
Lucknow: Taking a firm view that homosexuality and lesbianism
threatened to destroy the already crumbling family system in the
country, Muslim religious leaders are unanimous that consensual sex
of this form should not be legalised in a multi-religious society
such as India’s.
The leading Islamic seminary, Darul Uloom - Deoband in Uttar Pradesh,
the Jamaat-e-Islami Hind (JeI) and the All-India Muslim Personal Law
Board (AIMPLB) have struck a common chord on this issue.
For them, the issue does not concern Islam alone as no other religion
sanctions this form of sex.
Clerics told to unite
“The time has come for all religious leaders to unite on this issue
and jointly protest the government’s proposed move to legalise gay
rights. A consensus should be evolved for challenging the Delhi High
Court order in the Supreme Court,” said Maulana Syed Jalaluddin Umri,
Amir (president) of Jamaat-e-Islami Hind.
Questioning the right to freedom for consensual sex (homosexuality
and lesbianism), the JeI chief said it would destroy the family
system as has been the case in Western societies where consensual sex
has been legalised.
‘Against Indian ethos’
“Homosexuality does not jell with India’s ‘mizaaj’ [cultural ethos]
and cannot be tolerated in our society. Moreover, medical evidence
has also been found of homosexuals being carriers of HIV-AIDS,” the
Maulana said from the Jamaat office in Delhi.
In Islam, homosexuality is treated as “gunaah” [sin], and is against
the concept of a family as a unit. If the family is destroyed, the
society gets disintegrated. This is the commonly-held view among
“Retain Section 377”
“Section 377 of the IPC should stay and nothing should be done by the
government which legalised homosexuality,” said Maulana Abdul Rahim
Qureishi, assistant secretary general and spokesperson of the AIMPLB
while talking to The Hindu from Hyderabad.
He said it was the fallout, or even a manifestation of the
promiscuity so prevalent in the West. “Consensual sex is one the
reasons for the break-up of the family system in Western societies,
mainly in Europe and the U.S.,” he added.
The Maulana did not rule out the possibility of the issue figuring in
the one-day executive committee meeting of the Muslim Personal Law
Board in Kozhikhode on July 12.
In Lucknow, the Naib (deputy) Imam of Aishbagh Idgah and AIMPLB
member, Maulana Khalid Rasheed Firangi Mahali, said the Union
government should ensure that no such law was framed in the country
which legalised homosexuality. “No religion approves of unnatural
form of sex; besides, the family cannot be expanded by indulging in
homosexuality,” Maulana Rasheed said.
The Maulana described the Delhi High Court verdict as “disappointing”
and said it should be challenged in the Supreme Court.
The Darul Uloom - Deoband had also voiced its concern over the
prospect of gay laws being legalised.
Voicing the seminary’s view, the Deputy Rector, Maulana Abdul Khaliq
Madrasi, had reportedly said: “Homosexuality is an offence under
Shariat laws and prohibited in Islam.”
 India: The Rebellion in Lalgarh
July 3, 2009
FIRE AND FOREBODING - The CPI(M) itself is responsible for the
predicament it is in
Cutting Corners - Ashok Mitra
Legal rhetoric is not the real issue though. Spokesmen of the
administration led by the Communist Party of India (Marxist) in West
Bengal had been importunating for the despatch of Central forces to
quell the rebellion in Lalgarh. We have obviously travelled aeons
since the days the Left questioned the very right of the Centre to
raise police and security forces on the ground that law and order
were an exclusively State subject. In response to the state
government’s plea, CRPF personnel have entered West Bengal, taken
charge in Lalgarh and its neighbourhood, and are currently engaged in
combing operations with gusto. The drama, however, has only reached
Act One, Scene Three. Having answered the state government’s prayer,
New Delhi is now intent on extracting its pound of flesh. The Maoists
are a national menace; to combat that menace, other states have
banned them in terms of the relevant Central legislation. West Bengal
too must fall in and apply the same legislation; the West Bengal
government has agreed to do so.
From the first day of Independence, the Left has fought against what
it used to describe as the obnoxiousness of preventive detention. The
regime in West Bengal, led by the CPI(M), has now gone on reverse
gear. It is, in consequence, in the tentacles of a double jeopardy.
The perverse logic they subscribe to induces the Maoists to target
the Marxists as their biggest enemies. The grisly, indiscriminate
killings of Marxist cadre in and around Lalgarh have no other
explanation. But are the Marxists sufficiently aware of the other
peril lying in wait for them? The Congress leadership mapping the
strategy in New Delhi wants to liquidate not just the Maoists but the
entire Left, including the CPI(M). To make a particular coalition
partner happy is only one part of it. The ‘soft Hindutva’ line of the
Bharatiya Janata Party does not worry the Congress; it is confident
about containing that challenge — if necessary, by organizing a spell
of round-the-clock temple-hopping by the Nehru-Gandhis. There is, in
any event, no class divide as far as the BJP is concerned. That is
not the case with the Left, which, at the national level, continues
to put up irritating roadblocks to thwart the completion of the
‘economic reforms’ agenda, class interest according to demands
choking the Left wherever possible.
The Marxists would therefore be living in a fool’s paradise if they
think that once Lalgarh is cleared of Maoists, the Centre would shake
hands in a gentlemanly way and withdraw its forces from West Bengal.
The aforesaid coalition partner, fired up further by the results of
the state municipal polls, will turn more raucous with every passing
day. It will, rest assured, plot to create a situation in the state
where the demand will intensify to bring certain parts of the state
under the purview of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act. Chaos will
mount, and the Left Front administration will be fighting
simultaneously on several fronts; New Delhi, it is a fair surmise,
expects it to collapse reasonably soon.
Is not the CPI(M) itself responsible for most of the predicaments it
finds itself in? It was inordinately confident of its ability to
persuade the Congress to rein in enthusiasm for both neo-liberal
economic policies and the strategic alliance with the United States
of America. And in spite of its severe disappointment, elements in
the party still seem to think all was not lost, the Congress might
yet bail the Left out at the very last moment.
Even more worrying is the gradual withering away of the party’s mass
base in what was hitherto its strongest bastion, West Bengal. The
Left Front administration’s desperate move to re-establish its
control over certain parts of the state through induction of Central
forces, with all its implications, is a sad admission of that
reality. The CPI(M)’s political line for coping with the Maoist
threat is unexceptionable: to isolate the Maoists from the people. In
this context, should not the prime task of the party and the state
administration have been to use all the energy and resources in their
command to improve the conditions of the wretchedly poor adivasis in
areas such as Lalgarh? The panchayats should have been made the focal
point of welfare and developmental activities, with party leaders and
cadre acting as the eye and ear of the masses.
Nothing of the sort, it is now clear, took place. Funds allocated to
the panchayat bodies under different heads were either not spent or
disappeared in mysterious directions. Party leaders generally played
a passive — if not negative — role. Many of them imbibed the habits
and attitudes of feudal overlords and allowed a social distance to
grow between them and the people. What Gunder Frank had called the
development of under-development expanded its empire. This, in sum,
is the story that unfolded over the past decade or thereabouts in
several districts of the state.
Lalgarh has, for the present, been freed from Maoist clutches through
Central help. The prior question, though, is to ask how the Maoists
got their opportunity to penetrate into territories where the CPI(M)
had once overwhelming mass support. The answer is simple: instead of
isolating the Maoists, the CPI(M) succeeded in getting itself
isolated from the people.
When Maoist mayhem was at its peak at Lalgarh last month, television
cameras had occasion to zoom their sight on a particular event: a
frenzied mob setting fire to an apparently newly built, dazzlingly
white palatial building, standing in unabashed and isolated splendour
in the midst of squalor and destitution all around: parched earth,
dishevelled huts, rickety children with not a stitch on, men and
women with sunken cheeks and deep hungry looks. Then came the
astounding revelation: that mansion was owned by the CPI(M)’s zonal
secretary — by profession, trader, and by caste, high Brahmin; the
party’s zonal office too was located there.
When the Left Front assumed charge of the state administration in
1977, it made a commitment to itself: notwithstanding the restraints
set by the Constitution, it would carve out a Left alternative for
social and economic development that would inspire the rest of the
nation. Its initial years, marked by land reforms, speedy
decentralization of administration and animation of the panchayat
institutions, enabled it to make great strides toward that direction.
Something obviously snapped in the later years. It could be the lure
of economic liberalization in spite of the general party line: class
awareness wobbled, and hubris set in. The panchayats, once considered
the salvation of the people, can no longer claim to be as clean as a
hound’s tooth. The state administration, as a whole, is in a state of
atrophy. The CPI(M)’s state leadership, which was expected to act as
a moral guide, is transformed into an unfeeling bureaucracy.
Does not one almost hear the whispered foreboding of an excruciating
tragedy? Objective conditions in the country call for radical
initiatives on the part of the Marxists and their allies. Were they
to fail to fulfil that task, the nation’s millions, hapless victims
of deprivation and relentless exploitation, would conceivably have no
alternative but to migrate toward the direction of those who promise
nothing beyond murderous anarchy.
RAM NARAYAN KUMAR : AN OBITUARY
by Pritam Singh
Ram Narayan Kumar, one of the finest human rights researcher,
activist and campaigner in South Asia, passed away on June 28 at his
house in Kathmandu (Nepal). His death at a relatively young age of 54
has sent shock waves among all those struggling for justice and
fairness in South Asia.
His first major confrontation with state power was in 1975 when he
opposed the authoritarian Emergency regime in India and was
imprisoned for 19 months for his political act of defiance to defend
democracy. He came from the Indian socialist tradition influenced by
JP Narayan and R M Lohia but had the courage to oppose the
overemphasis on the caste dimension in somewhat opportunistic
politics of some of the followers of JP and Lohia. It was, perhaps,
this disenchantment with his erstwhile comrades, which attracted him
to the more universalist appeal of human rights work.
By family background, he came from a distinguished religious family
of India. His father was the head of a math/peeth in Ayodhaya with a
very large following. Ram was groomed until his teenage years to
succeed his father as the head of the math but Ram revolted and
joined the secular world of socialist politics. However, the large
following of the math in Austria resulted later on in Ram marrying an
Although he worked on almost all regions of India where human rights
violations took place such as Kashmir, North East, Gujarat and
Eastern India, and even in the Middle East against US interventions
and Israeli aggression, his most remarkable contribution to human
rights practice and documentation was in Punjab. Coming from a South
Indian Brahmin family, he had no personal link with Punjab. However
the massacre of the Sikh minority in Delhi in 1984 pushed him into
the study of Punjab and its troubles. He never abandoned Punjab after
this in spite of his many time demanding pre-occupations elsewhere.
It is a reflection of his deep humanity that he spent about 15 years
of his life studying and documenting human rights abuses in Punjab, a
state with which he had no other relation except the bond of
humanity. He traveled to remote villages of Punjab to hear the
painful stories of victims of human rights violations, expressing
solidarity with them and bringing their plight to the attention of
I met him for the first time in 1988 when during one of his visits to
the UK; I invited him to speak in Oxford on the crisis in Punjab from
a human rights perspective. Our friendship grew and since 2008, we
were involved in a joint project to write a book on Punjab. His death
means the death of that project also.
He had phenomenal knowledge of Punjab’s history, politics, geography,
culture, civil and police administration and Punjab’s troubled
relationships with the federal Centre in Delhi. He was meticulous in
his research to the point of obsession, never compromising on the
empirical evidence of his claims. His work on disappearances in
Punjab Reduced to Ashes is destined to become a classic in the
literature on disappearances and the brutality of state power. He
published a pioneering paper on the institutional flaws in human
rights law and practice with reference to Punjab in the International
Journal of Punjab Studies. On the invitation of the Association of
Punjab Studies (UK), he presented a paper on the constitutional and
institutional rigidities in defending human rights in Punjab at the
Association’s bi-annual conference in Oxford in 2003 where he
received standing ovation from the conference participants for the
rigour of his analysis and his towering moral integrity.
His last book on Punjab was Terror in Punjab: Narratives, Knowledge
and Truth (2008) and it is some solace to me that my review of this
book was published in the June 2009 issue of Himal South Asia
magazine (Kathmandu) and Ram was able to see this review.
Ram Narayan Kumar was directing a major project on studying the
culture and practice of immunity that the state officials involved in
human rights abuse enjoy in India. The project covering four critical
regions of India- J & K, North East, Gujarat and Punjab- and
involving joint collaboration between Kathmandu-based South Asia
Forum for Human Rights and Canada’s International Council for
Development Research (ICDR) has the promise of path breaking output
in bringing transparency, accountability and justice to human rights
practice in India and South Asia.
Ram, as he was affectionately called, was an inspiration to human
rights activists not only in India but also in Pakistan, Bangladesh,
Sri Lanka and Nepal. Some of the key dons of Harvard Law School
recognised from an international perspective Ram’s contribution to
furthering the cause of defending the vulnerable and the weak in
India and South Asia.
He worked too hard, was too pure in his heart and was too demanding
of himself. That took its toll on his health. Though he has gone, his
insights and dedication will forever remain a source of inspiration
to those who want to unearth truth and bring the powerful to
He is survived by his wife Gertie, daughter Cristina, sister Sita and
brother Gopal, all living in Austria. He will be cremated in
Kathmandu as per the wishes of his family.
o o o
A TRIBUTE TO RAM NARAYAN KUMAR
by NPMHR, 1 July 2009
1 July 2009
Kindly help us to reach this message to the Naga public and to all
friends in India and across the world of our deep grieve in losing a
close friend in Ram Kumar Narayan, who passed away at Kathmandu
The Naga People Movement for Human Rights (NPMHR) is deeply shocked
and saddened by the sudden death of Ram Narayan Kumar who was working
as a full time project Director on South Asian Orientation Course in
Human Rights and Peace Studies with the South Asia Forum for Human
Rights (SAFHR), Kathmandu, Nepal at the point of his demise. Ram was
an astute human rights activist, research and writer campaigning for
democracy and human rights against state brutality on the innocent
citizens since 1975. He was imprisoned for 19 months for his vocal
opposition to Indira Gandhi‘s emergency regime. Ram’s work for
justice and accountability in Punjab is widely recognized and is lead
author on many books on the Sikh struggle. Some of his latest works
are “India’s Constitutional Discourse: some Unanswered Question” and
“Rights Guarantees and Judicial Wrongs: Arguments for appraisal” in
Recasting Indian Politics, ed. Paul Flather (Palgrave, 2007);
Critical Readings in Human Rights and Peace (Shipra publications, New
Delhi, 2006). Ram was a Former Reuter Foundation Fellow at the
University of Oxford and has recently released his new book, Terror
in Punjab: Narratives, Knowledge and Truth (Shipra Publications,
Delhi, 2008). Reviewed at: http://www.himalmag.com/The-third-Sikh-
Ram is best known to Nagas for his work with Laxmi Murthy, Four Years
of the Ceasefire Agreement between the Government of India and The
National Socialist Council of Nagalim: Promises and Pitfalls,(New
Delhi: Other Media Communications, 2002) which was an outcome of
civil society engagement in peoples to peoples dialogues between the
Nagas and people of India.
When NPMHR commemorated International Human Rights day in December
2006 under the theme “Harmony through Culture- a musical celebration
of Indigenous peoples”, Rams message to the meet give a glimpse of
his inner soul which will will be engrave in our memory forever and
NPMHR takes this liberty to partly quote the solidarity note “ During
the time I spent in the region, I had been astonished by the mirth
and the power of cultural expressions of the indigenous peoples who
had, otherwise, been subjected to monstrously cruel forms of
discrimination and violence and economic injustice in their
subordinate relations with India that has unfortunately chosen to act
like a conquest state for so long. I do not cease to wonder how a
people who are weighed down by memories of death, torture and
spiritual crippling can yet retain that inner mirth and beauty of
soul to be able to transcend all that evil through music, dance and
togetherness and sharing as aspects of their autonomous cultural
identity. That spirit of transcendence also seems to permeate the
flora and fauna, climate, rain, sun, soil, their loom, wood, and cane
artifacts, their shawls and sarongs and their jewellery. I do not
want to romanticize, but it is my firm conviction that the people
endowed with these qualities must have a chance to undo the wrongs of
hegemonic cultures that combine the military might with their
hegemonic hubris, and to infuse the futures of the indigenous peoples
with the spirit of unity in culture and through that unity towards
socio-economic and political transcendence.”
NPMHR’s last contact was during his visit to Nagaland in line with
research work on the issue of Impunity and the Armed Forces Special
Powers Act. We pay our sincere respect to a great soul who has linked
our struggles together with his and the rest of world oppressed, in
our common search for dignity, justice and peace.
NPMHR on behalf of the Naga people and rest of the struggling
communities in this part of the world salutes Ram, our comrade, who
indeed was a partner to our struggles, a profoundly compassionate
human sharing our common thread of humanity and a gifted channel of
communication for the voiceless people’s call for Peace and Justice.
NPMHR shares our grieve with all Ram’s friends, colleagues at SAFHR
besides his near and dear one at this moment of loss. We pray for his
soul for to receive abundant peace and join all human rights
defenders across the world during this period of mourning.
 PROTECTING AND PROMOTING RIGHTS IN NATURAL DISASTERS IN SOUTH
ASIA: PREVENTION AND RESPONSE - SUMMARY REPORT
(Brookings-Bern Project on Internal Displacement)
1 July 2009
REGARDLESS OF CONTENTS, LIBERHAN REPORT IS BAD NEWS FOR BJP NEWS
by Siddharth Varadarajan
But Congress may shrink from taking firm action
New Delhi: Sixteen years on from the Sangh parivar’s single biggest
act of infamy, the Bharatiya Janata Party and its leaders are likely
to discover there is no political statute of limitations for the
crimes of conspiracy, incitement, rioting and vandalism that were
committed in the name of Hindutva when the Babri Masjid was
demolished on December 6, 1992.
Having prospered politically for more than a decade from the
resulting polarisation, the BJP’s ‘rath’ eventually ran out of steam
The catalyst was perhaps the Gujarat killings of 2002 or the
neoliberal economic policies to which the illiberal politics of
Hindutva were wedded. But today, after its second consecutive defeat
in a general election, the BJP finds itself increasingly aware of the
liability that communalism has become.
Officially, the party claims the demolition was the result of
spontaneous action by the mob which it had mobilised in Ayodhya that
fateful day. BJP leader L.K. Advani, whose alleged role in the
conspiracy is the subject of a CBI prosecution, famously described
the event as the “saddest day” of his life. But the fact is that he
and his colleagues had hitched their political fortunes to the
violence and intolerance that was the Ramjanmabhoomi movement. And
today, they have to accept political responsibility for the
consequences of that movement, even if the Indian judicial system
eventually proves incapable of assigning criminal liability.
This is where the report of the Liberhan Commission delivers the
cruellest blow: at a time when the BJP is looking for ways to
repackage itself as an inclusive party, its role in the destruction
of the 16th century monument is a reminder of its intolerant agenda.
“The subject matter of the report is 90 per cent about BJP,” a senior
Congress leader told The Hindu. He acknowledged that the report might
also criticise the role of Narasimha Rao, who was Prime Minister at
the time, and his Congress-run Central government for its inaction.
“But the entire episode is one which is of, for and by the BJP.”
Second, the manner in which the report names and assigns guilt is
likely to accentuate the already acute internal fissures within the
party. Indeed, Liberhan may become an ‘internal brahmastra’ for Mr.
Advani regardless of the role the report says he played in the
demolition. Worse, by bringing Ayodhya back into the news, the report
will also encourage those within the Sangh parivar who feel the Ram
temple issue should remain at the core of their political agenda.
Instead of jettisoning the Hindutva agenda, a remedy that some inside
the party now say the 2009 election results indicate, the BJP might
then find itself thrust into an even tighter embrace with sectarianism.
For the Congress, the party is likely to want to use the report’s
recommendations to weaken the BJP and its leadership politically
without allowing them to claim the mantle of martyrdom. But after 17
years, those citizens who still feel aggrieved at the criminal
destruction of the mosque are also entitled to expect that justice
will be done and that all politicians involved in the crime are
prosecuted to the full extent of the law.
However, the track record of the Congress does not encourage
optimism. Most of the recommendations of the Srikrishna Commission of
Inquiry into the 1992-93 Bombay riots, for example, remain
unimplemented a decade after that report was submitted. And the more
fundamental reforms that are needed to protect the citizenry from
official acts of omission and commission during riots are not even on
the Manmohan Singh government’s radar screen.
 Book Review:
WOMEN’S WORK: NEVER DONE AND POORLY PAID
by Nirmala Banerji
Jayati Ghosh’s new book on women’s work in globalising India reveals
the Indian state’s patriarchal attitude towards women’s work
Never Done and Poorly Paid: Women’s Work in Globalising India, by
Jayati Ghosh. Feminist Fine Print. Published by Women Unlimited, an
affiliate of Kali for Women, New Delhi 2009. Rs 250
In writing about women’s issues, scholars often tend to dwell on the
specifics of the problems being discussed and ignore their wider
context. Ghosh is a welcome exception to this because she has
squarely put the issue against the backdrop of the fast globalising
international economy and, within it, India’s experiments with the
The first chapter of the book provides the international context; the
second deals with trends in India, particularly in the years 1991 and
onwards when the country formally embarked on a programme of economic
liberalisation. However, it is a little frustrating to find that
India is generally treated as just another case of development under
the growing economic imperialism of international capital. From a
scholar of Ghosh’s stature, one would have expected a more nuanced
analysis of the structure of the Indian economy, and the special
baggage of the past the country bears vis-à-vis its labour force and
especially its women.
Compared to many other newly-developing countries, especially in
Asia, India carries a huge load of uneducated, unskilled labour due
mainly to past policies which have been assisted or pressurised by
the unholy alliance between class, caste and political power.
Although international capital has many ways of keeping labour
vulnerable, Indian capital has a long history of exploitative labour
practices in all sections of the economy, by routing work to home-
based workers and combining this with a hold on them through
provision of credit. International capital is merely finding new uses
and users for such practices. One really has to take into account
Indian capitalism nurtured by the Indian state in the first 50 or so
years after Independence. The complexities of the Indian situation
deserve a more sensitive approach, especially from an Indian scholar.
The third chapter is an assessment of work by women. It seems rather
unfortunate that Ghosh has ignored the huge amount of past work,
particularly measurement of women’s work and worker status, which has
been done in this country over nearly 30 years. There has been work
to show that there is a qualitative difference in the nature of men’s
work and women’s work, arising chiefly from the fact that women are
usually not in control of their own labour. Especially in rural
areas, decisions about the deployment of women’s day-to-day labour
are most often based on traditions or the requirements of family
authorities. That is why even when women work on productive tasks
they have to combine those with housework. This makes it difficult
for standard employment surveys to assess the distribution of women’s
time between economic tasks and household tasks; as a result, women
tend to get labelled ‘housewives’ even if their total time spent on
productive tasks is substantial.
In India, these controls are especially strong on young women workers
and, unlike in Asian countries outside South Asia, young Indian women
even today face a lot of resentment against their appearance in
public. The age profile of women workers in India has therefore
always been distinct from that of most developed or developing
countries. In the conceptualisation of women’s work in the Indian
context, it is impossible to ignore the patriarchal controls under
which women work.
The book has an interesting way of dividing chapters. According to
me, the best chapter is the one on women in public employment; it
paints a vivid picture of the ways in which the state has
increasingly put the burden of providing social services -- health
and education -- on women. Ghosh offers a detailed description of the
items of work that ICDS (Integrated Child Development Services)
workers or ASHAs are supposed to perform, and the terms and
conditions on which they are expected to work. ASHAs are in fact
supposed to be voluntary workers! The picture reveals how the state
is short-changing the poor as well as women workers, and exposes its
little regard for the legitimate claims of the poor for provision of
basic services. It also shows how the state is a major party to
women’s disempowerment; their hard work is still dismissed as part of
their ‘caring’ nature. The state’s excuse that it does not have money
to pay better wages for this work is astounding when one sees how
money is being squandered on repeated awards of pay commissions to
bureaucrats. This reinforces the theory that in India the state is in
cohorts with patriarchal authorities in order to offload its
legitimate work for women.
Overall, Never Done and Poorly Paid: Women’s Work in Globalising
India makes interesting reading, with a good analysis of the
available official data. My objections, such as they are, have to do
with the diversion of the author’s analysis into channels that are
not as fruitful as they could have been. Still, the book provides a
useful background for future work in the field.
(Nirmala Banerji is a feminist economist formerly with the Centre for
Social Studies, Kolkata)
Infochange News & Features, July 2009
 STATEMENT FROM HONDURAN WOMEN’S ORGANIZATIONS AND FEMINIST
“On Sunday June 28, the President (of Honduras), Mr. José Manuel
Zelaya Rosales, was assaulted, kidnapped and sent to the Republic of
Costa Rica in the presidential plane with military guards who claimed
he had violated the Constitution…
He had implemented a popular consultation through a public
opinion survey, which asked the people whether or not they agreed
that on November 29 (national election day) a fourth urn be placed
for the people to vote on a proposed National Constituent Assembly,
which would develop a new Constitution with the full participation of
different social actors in the country.
This consultation was declared illegal by the judiciary, the
Public Ministry and the National Congress, to justify the arrest and
extradition of the President of the Republic, which has violated the
rule of law through the use of brutal force and the lack of respect
by the military for his election as President of the Republic by the
The National Congress immediately appointed the President of the
Legislative Chamber, Mr. Roberto Michelleti, as the Constitutional
President of the Republic of Honduras, arguing that President Manuel
Zelaya Rosales had resigned, which was denied at a press conference
in the Republic of Costa Rica by President Zelaya Rosales. This
confirms there has been a congressional coup d’état as legal
proceedings, in accordance with the Constitution of the Republic were
not implemented and there were no constitutional guarantees in the
way he was captured and extradited from the country.
Legal mechanisms exist in the country that are implemented
through the courts, if President Zelaya had violated the
Constitution, but he was not given opportunity to defend himself or
to resort to legal mechanisms. He was brutally removed from his post
and banished from the country, as in former times of dictators that
governed by the practices of “imprisonment, banishment and burial.”
This political-military coup d’état, which was led by the
President of the Congress and the political economical power of the
country that control the state and the media, with the support and
compliance from the Armed Forces and of some political analysts and
the media, has broken the rule of law and constitutional guarantees
of Honduran citizens and some diplomats (such as the Ambassadors of
Venezuela, Cuba and Nicaragua).
According to Articles 2 and 3 of the Constitution the actions
that have been taken constitute the crime of treason. The
Constitution establishes that when the rule of law is violated by the
authorities, citizens have the right to insurgency, which is what is
happening: the people peacefully expressing their repudiation of the
coup and demanding the immediate restoration of President Zelaya and
to return to the rule of law.
The main cities are militarized, a state of siege has been
decreed, there is no international communication, cabinet officials
of Manuel Zelaya Rosales’ government are being persecuted, and others
have been forced to leave the country in a violent manner; state
institutions such as the Presidential Palace, are militarized and
many leaders, of social movements and human rights defenders are
being harassed and threatened by state security forces, media offices
have been intercepted, interrupted and militarized.
In the face of these terrible events we request International
Cooperation to demand the return of the rule of law, and an end to
the persecution of Cabinet members, government officials supporting
Manuel Zelaya Rosales, leaders of social movements and the media. We
call for an end to all forms of brutal violence and that fascism is
not imposed on our society because the majority of Hondurans advocate
for peace, solidarity and respect for human rights. We call for an
end to all forms of brutal violence that fascism is not imposed on
our society. The majority of Hondurans advocate for peace, solidarity
and respect for human rights. We emphatically denounce to the human
rights bodies in the region and the international community, the
complicity in this whole process by the Commissioner for Human Rights
in Honduras, Dr. Ramón Custodio before the human rights mechanisms in
the region and the international community.
* Centro de Estudios de la Mujer – Honduras (CEM-H)
* Centro de Derechos de Mujeres (CDM)
* Centro de Estudios y Acción para el Desarrollo de Honduras
* Red de Mujeres Jovenes (REDMUJ)
* Acciones Para el Desarrollo Poblacional (ADP)
* Red de Mujeres Adultas (REDMUCR)
* Colectivo de Mujeres Universitarias (COFEMUN)
* Marcha Mundial de las Mujeres, Comité Nacional Honduras
* Articulaciones Feminista de Redes Locales
* Movimiento de Mujeres Socialistas, Las Lolas
* Comisión de Mujer Pobladora Articulaciones Feminista de
* Convergencia de Mujeres De Honduras Iniciativa
Centroamericana de Seguimiento a Cairo y Beijing
* Feministas Independientes
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