SACW - 24 April 2012 | Bangladesh: Disappearances / Hands off Pakistan's pipeline please! / Sri Lanka: Monks and mobs / Zohra Sehgal at 100 ; Hostage to Maoists; Elephants in the park / nuclear-free NZ / Russian bureaucracy

Harsh Kapoor aiindex at
Mon Apr 23 19:28:59 EDT 2012

   South Asia Citizens Wire - 24 April 2012 - No. 2744


1. Bangladesh: Disappearances reach a horrific proportion (editorial, The Daily Star)
2. Americans and Saudis: hands off Pakistan's pipeline please! (Pervez Hoodbhoy)
3. Sri Lanka: State religion, powerful monks and militant mobs | controversial ’sacred areas’ Bill 
4. India: on April 27, Zohra Sehgal, born 1912, completes one hundred years of her amazing frolicking in this world (Ashok Mitra) 
5. India: 'Release Both Alex Paul Menon And Jhina Hikaka Immediately And Unconditionally' - Statement by Ramachandra Guha, E.A.S. Sarma, Nandini Sundar
6. India: Elephants in the park  (Debate: Mushir ul Hasan vs Badri Narayan)
7. India: PMANE Announces Indefinite Hunger Strike from May 1, 2012
8. India: Don't shoot the messenger (editorial, The Hindu)
9. India: Deporting 10 French nationals

10. Wellington marks 30 years of nuclear-free NZ
11. Russia: Workers' Actions Express Growing Discontent (Alexander Bratersky)
12. The hell of Russian bureaucracy (Miriam Elder)
13. Announcements:  
 - Call for Papers: Nationalism, War and Sacrifice: Dying for One’s Country

1. Bangladesh: Disappearances reach a horrific proportion
The Daily Star, April 22, 2012


It is with a jarring trepidation that we note the revelations by the human rights organization Aine O Salish Kendra about the increasing number of disappearances allegedly at the hands of law enforcing agencies. No less than 100 persons have been victims of disappearances since the present government assumed office in January 2010. Of all the victims, only three have been released and 21 found dead while the rest remain missing.

What can be a more damning indictment on the government's failure to uphold the rule of law? The test of good governance is in securing the lives of its citizens. If constantly stalked by the fear of abduction involving even high-profile individuals, how can the ordinary people ever feel secure at home and in the streets? What is more appalling; there has barely been any progress in investigations into the abduction cases and no clue as to the fate of the missing persons, far less their whereabouts.

We have repeatedly stressed that any act of disappearance amounts to the worst possible impingement of human rights. There are laws to deal with anyone suspected or accused of crimes. They just can't be made to vanish into thin air.

Normally, when a disappearance takes place we regard it as an act of a criminal. Then it is linked to either business or political rivalry. But for the last three years since Operation Clean Heart and formation of RAB the finger is getting pointed to them. This is very sad and worrisome.

We recall the Home Minister Shahara Khatun dismissing outright the allegation that the abductors were not law enforcers in 'plainclothes'. However, the law enforcing agencies have yet to prove the allegations wrong since all the incidents remain a mystery for lack of proper investigation. Sometimes even investigations have not got underway. It is noteworthy that Human Rights Commission Chairman Mizanur Rahman has complained time and again of the concerned agencies' negligence in replying to the commission's queries about incidents of abduction.

The denial and trivialization modes that the government settles into in the face of huge number of disappearances are simply unacceptable.

by Pervez Hoodbhoy

Now and then, as though out of sheer boredom, the United States shoots itself in the foot and loses the occasional goodwill it creates with aid programmes. Consider the latest: Secretary Hilary Clinton says that "As we are ratcheting up pressure on Iran, it seems somewhat inexplicable that Pakistan would be trying to negotiate a pipeline with it". Appearing before Congress, she threatened that sanctions could be imposed by the US on Pakistan's precarious economy, and these would be "particularly damaging" and "further undermine their economic status".

One wonders why Mrs Clinton finds Pakistan's attempt to tap into its gas-rich neighbour "inexplicable". In fact, there is no mystery. Half of Pakistan's energy needs are met from gas, but only 30 per cent of gas is domestically produced. Natural gas runs the country's electricity generating plants, powers its factories, and is used as fuel for cars, buses and trucks.

Without additional energy supplies, social chaos and disruption lies in the months and years ahead. Electricity shortfalls sometimes reach as high as 6,000MW, meaning that 40 per cent of the demand is unmet. Daily blackouts have gutted industrial production, closed markets, and CNG is rationed in spite of a huge price hike. Power riots broke out two weeks ago in Lahore. In October, protesters against power outages held up a train in Gujranwala, ordered passengers onto the platform, and set three coaches on fire.

Iran's gas could be critical for avoiding mass rioting and social breakdown. Should it actually come through, the proposed 56 inch diameter, 2,100-kilometres long IP pipeline would deliver a whopping 750 million cubic feet of gas per day from Iran's South Pars gas field, located near Iran's southern city of Asalouyeh. This could become Pakistan's jugular vein or, more accurately, its windpipe.

Expectedly, Secretary Clintons threats have drawn a strong reaction from Pakistani officials and leaders, with each trying to stand taller than the other. All this comes at a time when Pakistan-US relations are at a dangerous low. Quite apart from everything else, threatening Pakistan is poor diplomacy because it is reacting to something that, at the moment, is no more than a possibility.

Although the pipeline project's formal completion date is December 2014, a detailed feasibility plan is still being worked out and the source of funding is unclear. In July 2011, President Ahmadinejad has offered to fund construction of the 761 kilometres inside Pakistani territory. Iran declared at the time that it had laid the pipeline on its side to within 50 kilometres of Pakistan's border. But the Iranian offer has to be taken with a good pinch of salt because Iran's economic difficulties are rapidly mounting. China's largest bank, the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, has backed out from its earlier commitment. Currently the Pakistan government is negotiating with Gazprom, the Russian gas and oil giant. Nothing is clear.

The threats to Pakistan clearly violate the principle of fairness. Let's say that Iran is indeed a "bad guy", and that it is wrong to trade with bad guys. But, by this logic is it okay for the US to conduct $500 billion dollars of trade with China annually, a country that it alleges - perhaps correctly - of violating human rights? What about the planned $80 billion US arm sales to Saudi Arabia, a country that officially does not accept the right to religious freedom and treats its women abysmally? The IP gas pipeline, on the other hand, involves a piddling $1.5 billion and brings obvious advantages to Pakistan.

US antagonism to the IP pipeline comes, of course, because of Iran's nuclear programme. This is why India, China and Turkey are also being hectored into reducing their imports of Iranian crude oil. In 2008, US pressure forced India to pull out of the Iran-Pakistan-India pipeline, also known as the "Peace Pipeline".

Suppose, for argument's sake, Iran's secret agenda is indeed that which the US alleges - i.e. to make nuclear weapons. If true, I find it personally regrettable. The world needs less, not more, nuclear weapons. It is in Iran's long-term interest to shelve such ambitions and get on with improving the lives of ordinary Iranians. Yet, in all fairness, there are nine other nuclear states in the world with America's perennial ally, Israel, being among them.

But let us not blame the Americans alone. Another nation has now stepped in to discourage the construction of the IP pipeline. The kings and princes of Saudi Arabia - who had earlier urged the US to destroy Iran's nuclear programme by launching military strikes and "cut off the head of the snake" - are making their presence felt here in Islamabad.

Two weeks ago, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia's deputy foreign minister, Prince Abdul Aziz bin Abdullah, sought to persuade Pakistan to abandon the IP pipeline and cancel electricity/oil import deals with Iran. Although details have not appeared in the press, Abdul Aziz apparently offered some kind of a financial bailout as the quid pro quo.

But Pakistan needs energy security, not more loans. The Saudi attempt to create divisions and distrust with a neighboring country is plainly insidious and deserved a riposte from Pakistan's leaders - one no less stout than the one delivered to the Americans. The Saudi plan is just as unworkable as the TAPI pipeline, which the US is pushing as an alternative to the IP pipeline. TAPI would run through Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India. But with Afghanistan likely to be embroiled indefinitely in civil war after 2014, only a wild optimist can believe that a pipeline traversing its hostile and intractable terrain could provide secure oil supplies.

It is time for the US to get real and know that countries will pursue their goals rather than those preferred by Washington. John Foster Dulles is dead, as is Ronald Reagan - strong-arm tactics have seen their day. Instead American diplomacy needs to show sensitivity, and factor in the needs of the countries it deals with. Else the U.S shall isolate itself away from a goal that is truly important, the fight against global terrorism.


by: Raashid Riza 
[. . .]
Last Friday a mob of about 2000 Sinhalese, led by a group of Buddhist monks, stormed into a mosque in the historical city of Dambulla. They caused disturbances so severe that Friday prayers had to be cancelled. Reports suggest that the mosque had been hurled at with petrol bombs the night before, causing minor damage, and security forces were deployed to control the situation. The targeting of the Muslim community was instigated by a group of racist Sinhalese individuals, consisting largely of hooligans, who were motivated by the uproar and attention such an act would create, rather than by any identifiable ideology.
The Sinhalese group that attacked the mosque claimed that it was an illegal structure, although reports have suggested that the mosque is more than 50 years old. This claim is further validated by the local parliamentarian for the Dambulla district, incidentally, a Sinhalese, who is reported to have stated that the mosque has existed in its current location even before he, himself, was born.
Assuming that the mosque is an illegal structure or is tainted by legal controversy (which, indeed, it is not), due process has to be adhered to and there are legal procedures that need to be observed in order to remove the building or evict its inhabitants.



15 September 2011

By Charles Haviland BBC News, Colombo

A group of Buddhist monks in Sri Lanka led a crowd that demolished a Muslim shrine last week, the BBC has learned.
This incident took place on Saturday in Anuradhapura, an ancient Buddhist city and Unesco world heritage site.
The monk who led the group told the BBC he did it because the shrine was on land that was given to Sinhalese Buddhists 2,000 years ago.

But a prominent Muslim in the area said he was very sad and the sentiment was shared by many Sinhalese too.

A Sri Lankan news website showed photographs of a crowd including monks apparently reducing a small structure to a pile of rubble.
The mob waved Buddhist flags and – in one picture – burnt a green Muslim flag.

There have been no other reports of what happened.
But the BBC has spoken to the monk, Amatha Dhamma Thero, who admits masterminding the demolition of the Muslim shrine.

He said he arranged a gathering of 100 or so monks, including some from other Asian countries, to take action because – he alleged – local Muslims were trying to convert the shrine into a mosque despite new constructions being illegal on this site with its many Buddhist temples.
He said local government officials arrived and said they would remove the shrine within three days, but the crowd said “we cannot wait” and proceeded to tear down the structure.

The demolition has been denounced by a local senior Muslim and a local Sinhalese politician.

The Muslim, Abdul Razack, denied that a mosque was planned and said the demolished shrine was about 300 years old and had attracted visitors of other faiths too.
He said local Muslims and Buddhists alike were concerned at what happened but Muslims had avoided the site on Saturday, fearing sectarian disharmony.

The politician, Aruna Dissanayake, said the government should act against those who had attacked the shrine.
A minority was trying to create sectarian problems in a place where most Muslims and Sinhalese Buddhists co-existed well, he added.

Most of Sri Lanka’s majority Sinhalese are Buddhist, and Muslims are regarded as a separate ethnic group.
In a recent newspaper column, a veteran Muslim journalist said there was a growing fear among his community that some people were running a campaign to incite the Sinhalese against them, including through Sinhalese websites and print media 

o o o 

by Namini Wijedasa

The government last week withdrew an amendment to the Town and Country Planning Ordinance that if passed would have given the Minister of Buddha Sasana and Religious Affairs vast powers over any private property in the country.
The Town and Country Planning (Amendment), a copy of which was obtained by LAKBIMAnEWS, consists of just eight clauses.  Legal practitioners described the bill as ‘bizarre.’ It was presented to parliament close on the heels of another controversial law–the Revival of Underperforming and 10-1Underutilized Assets bill–under which the government acquired overnight the assets of 37 private sector companies.  
But while those properties were owned by the state and divested in the private sector, the latest amendment, by its interpretation, would have given the Minister of Buddha Sasana and Religious Affairs near absolute power over non-state lands. (The terms of the Town and Country Planning Ordinance only apply to private property).  
The bill was taken off the order paper after the Supreme Court determined that land was a Provincial Council, and therefore devolved, subject. The determination was made subsequent to the Centre for Policy Alternatives and its director Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu challenging the Town and Country Planning (Amendment) before the Supreme Court. Sudharshana Gunawardena was intervenient petitioner.
The three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Shirani Bandranayake and comprising Justices K. Sripavan and Chandra Ekanayake held with the petitioners that the bill shall not become law unless it has been referred by the president to every Provincial Council as required by the Constitution.
The third clause of the amendment states that the objectives of the Act shall be to “promote, preserve, conserve and regulate a system of integrated planning and development for securing proper infrastructure, amenities and conveniences in relation to the economic, social, historic, environmental, physical and religious aspects of land in Sri Lanka (whether or not there are buildings therein)...”
It allows for the declaration of ‘Protection Areas,’ ‘Conservation Areas,’ ‘Architectural or Historic Areas’ and ‘Sacred Areas.’ The Minister of Buddha Sasana and Religious Affairs-who is also the Prime Minister–may gazette any area of land within any municipal, urban development  or trunk road development area under one of these categories.
The amendment, therefore, expands the scope of a minister’s powers from declaring just urban development areas to other categories. But while ‘Protection Area,’ ‘Conservation Area’ and ‘Architectural or Historic Area’ are defined in the bill (albeit shoddily), the term ‘Sacred Area’ is not. This effectively means that if the Minister of Buddha Sasana and Religious Affairs declares an area to be ‘Sacred,’ anybody disputing this in court will not have recourse to a legal definition.


by Ashok Mitra
(The Telegraph, Calcutta)

Mohammed Mumtazuddin Khan was of the bluest of the blue pathan stock with close filial links with the Rampur princely order. He was loaded with property and had no need to hold a job. A man of ample refinement, he nonetheless detested the sobriquet of idle rich and chose to enter the British provincial service. That was in the first decade of the 20th century. Mumtazuddin Khan married a granddaughter of the Nawab of Najibabad who was shot dead by the British in the 1857 uprising; blue stock became bluer.

The couple begot eight children; five were daughters. While the male offspring of Muslim aristocracy almost routinely went to Aligarh for a smattering of higher education, the daughters sometimes read up to the secondary school standard in a local institution for girls, but more often stayed home to have lessons from private tutors under strict purdah. Mumtazuddin Khan chose to break convention; he sent his daughters all the way to Lahore to be admitted to the very posh, very sophisticated St. Mary’s College.

The eldest daughter, Hajrah, lapped up St. Mary’s. She was high-spirited, keen to explore life and dreamt beautiful dreams. An accident, though, interrupted her studies. A minor princeling — a nawabzada, smitten by her beauty, proposed to her. Hajrah thought it would be a bit of a new adventure and said yes. Bidding adieu to St. Mary’s, she joined her husband at his palatial mansion in Cawnpore. Marry in haste and, the adage went, repent at leisure. It took Hajrah less than a week to realize the blunder she had made. The nawabzada had the least scholarly or cultural interests and was insensitive to the core to the susceptibilities of others. In the manner of her great-grandfather, Hajrah revolted. She walked out on the husband, won a divorce, went back to studies, passed examinations one after another and earned a post-graduation degree. Somewhere along the line, this scion of the crème de la crème of Muslim nobility was bewitched by far-out radical ideas. Her second marriage was with the well-known communist, Zainuddin Ahmed. In later years, Hajrah combined teaching Urdu literature at Lucknow University while furiously campaigning for women’s emancipation.

The life story of Mumtazuddin and Natiqua Khan’s second daughter, Zohra, is perhaps even more gripping. Zohra was the prettiest of the lot. She also had a mind of her own far more assertive than that of the elder sister. She too went to St. Mary’s and took her high school examination in 1930. She was 18 and looked forward to a vacation overseas. Zohra had a choice. She could accept the invitation of an uncle — holding the title of nawab — to accompany him and travel to Europe first class on a luxury boat. Or she could travel with another uncle who was proceeding to Europe in a rickety old Dodge via the land route across the Middle East, the Levant, the Mediterranean coast, the Balkan countries and all that; it would be rough going and arduous in the extreme. No matter, Zohra, the society girl fond of ballroom dancing, did not hesitate for a moment, she accepted the challenge of the land route.

It was also time to plan a career. Marriage was ruled out for the present. Zohra’s first aspiration was to be the country’s first woman pilot. She had her father’s reluctant consent, but blinked at the thought of how much pain and suffering would afflict the family if perchance a mishap took place in the air. Without further ado, she reached her decision, she would be a professional dancer. It was a scandalous choice for a damsel hailing from a Muslim aristocratic order. But there she was, with a natural bent for creating scandals.

On reaching Europe in the battered Dodge, she bullied the uncle to take her to Dresden where Mary Wigman ran her celebrated dance school. Zohra was taken in. It was hard work stretching over a span of two and a half years. She however had enough determination and was ever ready for more exciting adventures. Uday Shankar visited Dresden with his troupe for a performance. Zohra was of course in the audience. As the curtain fell, she went backstage, greeted the great dancer and spoke to him about her ambition to be a part of his troupe. He advised her to get in touch with him on her return to India.

Zohra was back home in 1933. Ensconced at her father’s place at Dehra Dun, she pottered around, giving dancing lessons at the local girls’ school, attending parties, keeping up a one-sided correspondence with Uday Shankar. She waited and fretted. At last the call came in summertime 1936. Very soon another first on the part of this Muslim girl of crème de la crème pedigree, her first appearance on the public stage, in what was billed as Uday Shankar’s Hindu Ballet troupe. It was in the role of a companion of Parvati, in a Hara-Parvati number. The venue was Calcutta’s New Empire theatre.

Zohra had arrived. For the next three years, it was a hectic, breathless schedule of voyaging with the troupe to Southeast Asia, the Middle East, all over Europe and the United States of America, Japan. She was learning and re-learning about the exquisite mystique of the art she had pledged herself to.

The Second World War brought the foreign trips to a surcease. But Uday Shankar was on a new exploration. He opened a dance centre for teaching and experimentation at Almora. Zohra was there. By now, she was joined by her next sister, Uzra, equally zestful and equally talented. Something else too happened. Zohra fell in love with a trainee, Kamleshwar Sehgal, much younger in age than her and a Hindu. Another rupture with convention, a Muslim girl of impeccable pedigree marrying a Hindu commoner. But she was Zohra, she was destined to be contrary.

For Zohra Sehgal, it has since then continued to be an existence crowded with a kaleidoscope of changing roles and careers. The Almora centre closed down its shutters, the troupe dispersed, the Sehgal couple moved to Lahore and dared to open a dance school of their own, the Zoresh Dance Centre. Its initial success was of no avail. As clouds of political uncertainty grew denser, an enterprise sponsored by a couple who belonged to the two communities at the throat of each other could not but come a cropper.

Zohra and Kamleshwar were on the move again, this time to Bombay, where Uzra, by now married to Hamid Butt, the promising Urdu writer, had joined Prithviraj Kapoor’s drama group. The sisters, with a filthy rich background, shared, along with their families, a cramped flat on Bandra Hill. Again a fresh beginning for Zohra. Uzra was the lead actress in the Prithvi Theatre. Zohra became her associate, and discovered her guardian angel in Prithviraj Kapoor. If Uday Shankar was Dada, Prithviraj became Papa. He encouraged Zohra all the way, throwing her the challenge of a new role almost every month. The new medium bowled her over in the same manner dancing had done when she was in her teens. What was even more exciting, from Prithvi Theatre to the vibrant Indian People’s Theatre Association movement was just one hop. It was yet another revelation of the depths and distances she was capable of travelling as she started to co-star with Romesh Thapar in the IPTA production of Waiting for Lefty.

Till the close of the 1950s, life and fulfilment became synonymous. But all good things are supposed to come to an end. Suddenly, a lot of developments shook up Zohra’s coordinates. Uzra and her husband shifted to Lahore, Kamleshwar died, the IPTA folded, Prithvi Theatre too was languishing, Zohra was stranded with a very young daughter and a son still a little kid. So yet another switch of career, this time on to Delhi, to assume charge of the fledgling Natya Kala Kendra and, a few years later, the Folk Dance Centre. Both bodies are now defunct, what their purpose was has become the charge of the Sangeet Natak Akademi, but the spadework Zohra had put in remains precious capital stock. Involvement with these institutions allowed her to slake her wanderlust; she travelled several times, across Europe and Asia. Her hankering after new beginnings has never ended. When past sixty, she was back in Bombay, now to be in Hindi films, distinguishing herself in mature roles. The old bug of acting on the stage would not go away though. She went on performing in plays till she was well into her eighties, including one appearance in London, at the Old Vic.

This week, on April 27, Zohra Sehgal, born 1912, completes one hundred years of her amazing frolicking in this world. Yet, she has no illusion about it. She has written a will instructing her daughter and son that in case they are persuaded to bring back home her ashes from the crematorium, they should straightaway flush these down the toilet.

[The above is also available at: ]

'We condemn the attack by the Maoists which they killed two security guards and abducted the Sukma District Collector, Alex Paul Menon'
Statement by Ramachandra Guha, E.A.S. Sarma, Nandini Sundar
23 APRIL 2012

We condemn the attack by the Maoists on April 21st near Kerlapal village in Sukma District in Chattisgarh, in which they killed two security guards and abducted the Sukma District Collector, Alex Paul Menon.

At the time of this attack, Menon, accompanied by the security guards, was in the process of conducting Gram Swaraj Abhiyaan across the district. A few hours prior to the attack, Menon had to traverse the rough terrain on a motorcycle to reach the interior villages near Badde Setti and Sam Setti. This shows his concern for the tribals residing in this remote area and his conscientiousness in attending to their problems. By killing the innocent security guards who were on duty and kidnapping Menon, the Maoists have betrayed their lack of respect for human rights and democratic processes.

This incident has come on the heels of the series of similar acts of abductions and killings on the part of the Maoists during the last few years in Chattisgarh, Odisha and Jharkhand. The abduction of Jhina Hikaka, an MLA on March 24 this year, the abduction of Vineel Krishna, the then District Collector of Malkangiri district last year, and the killing the Jharkhand police officer, Francis Induwar in 2009 show that the Maoists have no compunction in hurting the interests of the tribals and committing crimes against innocent officers and people's representatives attending to their call of duty. We whole heartedly condemn these acts of violence on the part of the Maoists.

If the Maoists care for the tribals and if they have any respect for human rights, they should release both Alex Paul Menon and Jhina Hikaka immediately and unconditionally

(Asian Age, April 19, 2012)


by Mushir ul Hasan

In the first place, civil society should not have allowed a political dispensation to proceed with self-glorification. It’s really our failure that we allowed these things — the erection of statues with parks around them in Lucknow and Noida — to happen on such a huge scale and at considerable public expense. But since the die is cast, it would be stupid in my view to waste poor people’s resources further in demolishing or destroying the structures in question, or disturbing them in any manner.
I believe that these structures, built by former Uttar Pradesh chief minister Mayawati, are a tribute to hypocrisy and opportunism of our political class. But we have to contend with the fact that the damage has already been done, and no purpose would be served by dismantling the statues and parks, or interfering with the character of these complexes in any way. Such actions will set a bad precedent for political dispensations of the future. They too, on coming to power, would be tempted to repeat the actions of their predecessors in this particular fashion. There would be no end to such acts. An attempt to undo in any manner the symbolic actions of the predecessor BSP regime can give others ideas. For a variety of reasons, including political vendetta, a government may think it has secured the licence to demolish structures whose creators are no longer in power.

It is very clear that acts of spending public money on self-glorification should not be repeated in the future by any government. We are speaking of public money, after all. I know Lucknow very well and can say that it’s a city where millions of people live in slums. Millions of people in Lucknow do not have access to clean drinking water or electricity. Large numbers of them do not have roofs over their heads. It is such people who should receive the attention of any government first. Therefore, it was a monumental crime for the former chief minister to have spent public funds on a grand scale in building statues with parks. The money could have been put to much better use.
Now that the present chief minister, Akhilesh Yadav, has said that he wishes to build schools and hospitals, I wish him good luck. But this should not be done by demolishing or destroying the parks. It is a good idea to spend more money on building schools and colleges. Mr Yadav would go down in history if he is able to give shape to his intentions. He should not face any problem in finding land for building schools and hospitals in Uttar Pradesh.
The sad thing is that less and less attention is being paid to public services, and this shows up in the money spent under those heads. I do not know if the bureaucracy in the country is particularly inclined towards the welfare of the masses. In the wake of globalisation of the economy, the way the government of the day — and the state — is withdrawing from public services, rather than engaging in strengthening them, is not good for the people.
The writer is director-general, National Archives of India

by Badri Narayan

It makes sense to utilise the vacant land in parks built by former Uttar Pradesh chief minister Mayawati for the construction of public utilities. Such parks cover huge areas. There are in them statues of dalit icons, including Dr B.R. Ambedkar, BSP founder Kanshi Ram and Ms Mayawati herself, besides statues of elephants, the BSP’s symbol. But large areas inside these parks lie vacant. Now that there is scarcity of land and land acquisition has become a tricky issue, it may be worthwhile to explore the possibility of utilising the vacant portions of these parks for public utilities.
Uttar Pradesh chief minister Akhilesh Yadav has said that his government would like to build hospitals and schools in the parks Ms Mayawati made in Lucknow and Noida. These two cities have large populations and are indeed faced with the problem of land scarcity. Therefore, there is no harm in exploring the possibility of setting up public institutions or utilities on these lands that have already been acquired for public purposes.
It needs to be said that Mr Yadav, by stating his intention of building schools and hospitals in the parks, is adopting the middle path. In the run-up to the recent state Assembly elections, the Samajwadi Party (SP) president, Mulayam Singh Yadav, had vowed that he would bulldoze the parks if his party was elected to power. The SP went to the people with such rhetoric and earned their mandate for its agenda. Therefore, Mr Akhilesh Yadav has to respect what his party had promised.
However, it is noteworthy that he is not saying that he would demolish the statues located inside the parks, but only that he would use the vacant land for public purposes and would leave the statues of the dalit icons untouched. This is without doubt a conciliatory approach and can in no way be called confrontationist. BSP supremo Mayawati had vowed in the run-up to the 2007 Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections to send Mr Mulayam Singh Yadav to jail if her party got elected. She had fought that election on the poll plank of poor law and order. However, when she won, she did not pack off the Samajwadi leader to jail. So, election rhetoric does not have to be taken literally.
In fact, the Uttar Pradesh government can look beyond schools and hospitals when it thinks of exploring the best use for the parks built by Ms Mayawati. Mr Akhilesh Yadav may, in fact, look at the Nehru Museum and Library at the Teen Murti House in New Delhi as a model. These parks are largely about Ambedkar and Kanshi Ram. The state government can therefore look at building an Ambedkar Museum and Library, and a Kanshi Ram Museum. Such a project will lend character to the controversial parks, something even Ms Mayawati may not object to. Institutions of research and learning in the social sciences dedicated to the memory of dalit icons and Samajwadi leaders such as Dr Ram Manohar Lohia, may also be considered.

The writer is professor, G.B. Pant Social Science Institute, University of Allahabad

Idinthakarai & P. O. 627 104
Tirunelveli District, Tamil Nadu
Phone: 98656 83735; 98421 54073
koodankulam at
pushparayan at

Press Release

PMANE Announces Indefinite Hunger Strike from May 1, 2012 at Idinthakarai

The People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy (PMANE) plans to resume indefinite hunger strike from May 1, 2012, International Workers’ Day. When we concluded our earlier hunger strike on March 27, 2012 at the behest of the Madurai Archbishop Most Rev. Peter Fernando and Mr. Arimavalavan’s negotiations with the Tirunelveli district officials at Radhapuram, the authorities had agreed to

·       <> release all our comrades from prisons unconditionally;
·       <> withdraw all the false and foisted cases against tens of thousands of our people including sedition charges;
·       <>  institute an independent national committee to study the hydrology, geology and oceanography issues;
·       <> conduct disaster management and evacuation exercises to all the people in 30 km radius from the KKNPP;
·       <>  share a copy of the secret IGA between the governments of India and Russia in 2008 on liability;
·       <> divulge all the relevant info about the KKNPP nuclear waste and their management; and
·       <>  respect the democratic rights of our people to continue to oppose the KKNPP peacefully and nonviolently.

Almost a month has passed after this negotiation, but no promise has been fulfilled so far. Mugilan and Sathish are still languishing in prison and more cases are said to have been filed against them. More than 56,000 people have been charged with false cases until December 31, 2011 including some 6,000 sedition cases. If we tally the cases that have been filed in the first quarter of 2012, the number must be way too high. This only proves how big our struggle is and how undemocratic and anti-people our governments are.

Even those who have been released on bail are made to sign every day at distant police stations like dangerous criminals and are prevented from going to work. They are all living in poverty and misery.

No step has been taken to withdraw all the false cases that are foisted on us; instead, fresh murder charges are framed against the leaders of the PMANE falsely.

Besides the hydrology, geology, oceanography issues of the KKNPP, we have now to deal with the seismology issue also as the entire state of Tamil Nadu and the eastern coast of India were rocked by powerful tremors and temblors on April 11, 2012. Following the massive earthquake and the aftershocks on that day, there has been another major earthquake in Indonesia on April 20, 2012 night. These issues have to be researched thoroughly and truthfully before opening a major and controversial nuclear project such as the KKNPP in the affected area.

The government authorities and the KKNPP officials are trying to scuttle the whole process of disaster training and evacuation exercises by roping in the cooperation of the local Panchayat presidents and by creating falsified records that such exercises had been done in these Panchayats. The KKNPP administration that never respected the local people and their leaders before are now trying to please these Panchayat presidents with the promised Rs. 500-crore package. Given the recent repeated earthquakes in Indonesia, even people beyond 30-km radius must be given disaster training.

We hear recurrent rumors that there are serious problems in the reactor pressure vessel, and that there is a perennial water spring near the reactor building that plague the KKNPP project and that is why some 18 Russian scientists have been invited urgently to work on the project. The KKNPP officials must tell the people the whole truth about the problems involved in the delay of the project, present a White Paper on the total cost of the project and explain how much public money has been spent on all these recent visits of Russians and other PR exercises.

We earnestly hope that the Government of India and the Government of Tamil Nadu will resume the negotiations with us, fulfill their commitments and avoid the planned indefinite hunger strike. We still hope that these governments work not just for the rich and powerful but are also interested in the wellbeing of the ordinary and unlettered citizens of India.

The Struggle Committee

People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy (PMANE)                                     April 23, 2012

(THe Hindu)

April 23, 2012

The outcome of the Press Council of India's decision to challenge the Allahabad High Court gag order on reporting the movement of troops will be an acid test of how far the judiciary can go in curbing media freedoms. The court's order — which directed senior officials in the Home and I&B departments of the Centre and the Uttar Pradesh government to ensure that no news on the subject is put out by the print and electronic media — was issued following the recent and sensational Indian Express report on the alleged panic in the civilian administration caused by the movement of two Army units towards New Delhi. It is true that the security of the State is one of the eight heads under which reasonable restrictions may be imposed on freedom of expression under Article 19(2) of the Constitution. But it is inexplicable how the further reporting of these troop movements is related to “official defence secrecy and security of the country” or why there should be a gag on this merely because the already published reports have caught “attention at the highest level in the defence as well as the Government.”

After all, the first reports of these ostensibly sensitive troop movements were based on briefings by Army sources themselves and published much earlier on a website as a routine story on “manoeuvres designed to test [the Army's] readiness for quick armed intervention in India's immediate neighbourhood.” Moreover, there is a vast difference, as PCI chairman Markandey Katju has suggested, between reporting troop movements in wartime, which could benefit the adversary and seriously jeopardise national security, and a ban that places such restrictions on standard operational manoeuvres in peace time. True, the Indian Express report, despite its many hedges and caveats, caused unnecessary consternation because of the exaggerated manner in which it was displayed. But the right of the newspaper or any other media organisation to report on this or any other sensitive matter cannot be questioned unless it clearly transgresses the Lakshman rekha of reasonable restrictions laid down in the Constitution. The higher judiciary, which has a long and commendable record of upholding the right to free expression, has generally recognised that this comes at a price. Such things as sensationalism, exaggeration, mistaken judgments and even false statements made honestly are likely to occur, or at least cannot be totally eliminated, in an environment in which free speech is guaranteed. The answer to this is to defend the right to free expression even as you criticise the specific instances in which it is abused. It is not to shoot the messenger. 


Bihar police deports 10 French nationals

India to deport 10 French working for local NGO
by INDRAJIT SINGH, Associated Press – 10 hours ago 
PATNA, India (AP) — India has ordered the deportation of 10 French citizens who police say illegally worked with an Indian advocacy group accused of supporting Maoist rebels, officials said Monday.

by Adam Ray

Labour won the 1984 election, promising nuclear-free legislation

Sat, 14 Apr 2012 6:23p.m.

Wellingtonians had plenty to sing and dance about today, as they marked the 30th anniversary of the city becoming nuclear free.
The capital's anti-nuclear stance in 1982 was copied by other parts of the country, paving the way for the Labour Government to pass nuclear-free legislation.
Even those too young to remember were putting on their best moves to celebrate Wellington's anti-nuclear move.
Councillor Helene Ritchie led efforts to become nuclear-weapons free. She's still can't believe its success.

“I was surprised, if not gobsmacked, that there was a movement through the country,” says Ms Ritchie.
Within two years, 40 other local authorities followed Wellington, as opposition grew to nuclear weapons and to visits by US warships that could use nuclear power.

“It wasn't a token gesture,” says Ms Ritchie. “It was doing what we could with the power we had. It was really important.”
Labour won the 1984 election, promising nuclear-free legislation. It led to the souring of New Zealand-American relations and put the country centre stage of the nuclear debate.
New Zealand's anti-nuclear stance is acknowledged around the world. Among those at Civic Square were ambassadors from South America, a nuclear-weapons free continent.

Campaigners say fears of a nuclear test by North Korea show their cause is still important, although some today had more than one cause, like the return of the Wellington nuclear free city sign.
But most were just happy to mark Wellington's lead in New Zealand becoming nuclear-free.

3 News

by Alexander Bratersky
The Moscow Times

19 April 2012

The number of labor protests in Russia has increased sharply this year, propelling the total to its highest in five years, estimates released this week show.

The Center for Social and Labor Rights published those findings on its website Thursday.

There were 61 worker strikes and protests during the first three months of 2012. That compares with 53 during the same period last year.

Although the numerical increase is not large, protests have become more intensive.

In January and February 2011, fewer protesters participated in the demonstrations, the center reported.

A partner of the USAID program, the center has monitored labor conflict in Russia since 2008.

Center analyst Pyotr Bizyukov, who conducted the research, told Kommersant on Thursday that the number of protests might grow to between 40 and 45 a month.

"There are grounds to predict that summer 2012 might become a hot period for political protests," Bizyukov said, Kommersant reported.

The center's findings state that the protest over wages at the Benteler automative plant in the Kaluga region might be awarded the title of "protest of the month" because of its duration.

That protest began at the end of March and ended earlier this month.

More then 100 Russian employees of German-owned Benteler walked off the job.

They demanded a salary increase, saying that their wage was lower than that paid by other automobile plants in the region.

The plant's unions forced management to consider their demands after Governor Anatoly Artamonov stepped into the fray.

Boris Kagarlitsky, head of the Institute for Globalization, said the increase in protests in Russia is connected with the aftermath of the 2008 economic crisis.

The country weathered the crisis thanks to large financial reserves generated by high oil prices.

Kagarlitsky compared the situation in Russia to the one after the Great Depression in the United States.

"We survived, but things have not become better since then," Kagarlitsky said. "The only thing is that we don't have a progressive government."

Kagarlitsky contrasted the Russian leadership with the American administration of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, whose New Deal policies were aimed at restoring the failed U.S. economy in the 1930s.

Government-affiliated economist Mikhail Dmitriyev said previously that Russia might go through a second wave of economic crisis.

That could prompt political unrest and lead to social instability.

Although the majority of workers protesting conditions at their plants do not express political slogans, Kagarlitsky said their distrust of the government could be seen in the poor election results for the ruling United Russia party in the regions.

Kagarlitsky said the protesting workers might join forces with citizens demanding political reforms.

In Astrakhan, for example, drivers of local shuttle buses who protested Mayor Mikhail Stolyarov's plans to cancel their contracts with the city have expressed support for the mayor's rival, Oleg Shein of the opposition A Just Russia party.

Shein, who lost the mayoral election in March, is staging a hunger strike to call attention to his accusations that the election was rigged.

Analysts said attempts to prevent protests by independent unions would mobilize the Federation of Independent Unions, led by the seasoned Mikhail Shmakov.

Shmakov announced recently that his organization might be turned into a party to cooperate with United Russia on trade-union legislation.

Read more:

by Miriam Elder
(The Guardian, 23 April 2012)

The Soviet Union was notorious for its endless form-filling and procrastination. Nothing much seems to have changed, as our Moscow correspondent discovered when she tried to get some dry cleaning done

In Russia, everything can be a nightmare … even dry cleaning. Photograph: Alamy

A few weeks ago, I got to a dinner party, promptly hid myself in the host's bedroom for 15 minutes and collapsed into a cascade of tears. The cause? Dry cleaning.

On the face of it, Moscow has most of the trappings of modern, European life. There are cafes, even non-smoking ones, where you can order a flat white. There are websites that will deliver your weekly supplies of hummus, fresh apricots and rich French cheeses. And there are dry cleaners which, in theory, will whisk your clothes away to some unseen locale and steam them spotless in the blink of an eye.

They key phrase here is, of course, "in theory". In practice, daily life in Russia is an endless battle against shopkeepers and waiters steeped in the best traditions of Soviet-era manners (walk into a shop and the first thing you'll hear is: "Girl! What do you want?"); those fresh fruits will probably be black by the time they make it through the city's gridlocked, muddy streets. And dry cleaning – that's a whole other experience altogether.

It goes something like this. You get to the dry cleaner. There's a woman, let's call her Oksana Alexandrovna, sitting behind a low counter, row upon row of clothes in plastic wrap behind her. She's dealing with a customer. This gives you time to reflect. "Russia is amazing," you think. "The changes this place has seen – 25 years ago, would I even be standing in a shop like this? The lady in front of me certainly wouldn't have been handing in a MaxMara dress to clean. A true middle-class experience. In Russia. I'm living it."

By now, about 12 minutes have passed. Oksana Alexandrovna is caressing the woman's clothes. Much paperwork is exchanged. A stamp machine is placed on the counter. You wonder what is happening – but soon enough you will know.

Finally, it is your turn. You put six items of clothing on the counter. Oksana Alexandrovna lets out a sigh. This would be the point where you would normally get your receipt and go. But this is Russia. It's time to get to work. A huge stack of forms emerges. Oksana Alexandrovna takes a cursory glance at your clothes. Then the examination – and the detailed documentation – begins. This black H&M sweater is not a black H&M sweater. It is, in her detailed notes on a paper titled "Receipt-Contract Series KA for the Services of Dry and Wet Cleaning", "a black women's sweater with quarter sleeves made by H&M in Cambodia". Next, there are 20 boxes that could be ticked. Is this sweater soiled? Is it mildly soiled? Very soiled? Perhaps it is corroded? Yellowed? Marred by catches in the thread? All this, and more, is possible. The appropriate boxes are ticked. But that is not all – a further line leaves room for "Other Defects and Notes". By now, you have spent less time wearing the sweater than Oksana Alexandrovna has spent examining it. This process is repeated five more times. Except with that white cardigan that has 11 buttons. Why do you know it has 11 buttons? Because Oksana Alexandrovna has counted each and every button. Twice.

The process is almost over. Oksana Alexandrovna asks you to sign your name. Five times. She firmly stamps each page (for your detailed receipt has now run to two). You clutch the document, hand over 1,500 roubles (£32), say goodbye to that 40 minutes of your life, and go on with your day.

If only that were the end of this tale. Some time wasted, nothing more. But five days later, you must pick up said clothes. And that's where the real problems can emerge. In between the dropping-off and the picking-up of the clothes, Russia had a presidential election. Riot police, troops and military trucks poured through Moscow. Protesters took to the streets crying foul, dismayed at the prospect of living another six years under Vladimir Putin. And I lost my dry-cleaning receipt.

This is the horror of horrors. Oksana Alexandrovna was not pleased. This meant more paperwork, more signatures, more stamps. The first thing demanded – my passport. "What does my passport have to do with my dry cleaning?"


I handed it over. She wrote down every bit of information, making sure to note my registration (every resident of and visitor to Russia must make police aware of their residence, a Soviet holdover that shows no sign of disappearing). Next, I was to write down descriptions of each item of clothing I had handed in. "Five black sweaters and one white one." "Not good enough!" "The white sweater had 11 buttons?" "Please take this more seriously!" More signatures. More stamps. "You've stolen more than an hour of my life!" I yelled. Another passport check. "Give me my clothes!" Forty minutes later, I had them in hand. My nerves were somewhere else entirely.

The frustration stems not just from the loss of time but from the knowledge that despite Russians' love of documents, stamps, identification procedures and painstaking handwritten note-taking, it all means nothing. The country's endless bureaucracy spreads its tentacles everywhere. No good concerts in Moscow? "Just try filling out the forms to get equipment into the country," one promoter told me (not to mention the bribery needed to get things through customs). Want to order a taxi by telephone? You will be asked a series of questions that appear to have nothing to do with the order. And 20 minutes later, you will be called and asked them again. Need to use an ATM? Get ready to press a half-dozen buttons (Which language would you like to speak? Which account would you like to use? Roubles or dollars? What size notes do you need? You want to take out more than $100? Then repeat the process again because every ATM inexplicably has a cap).

What it comes down to is the bureaucracy doesn't work. Let's say I stole some other woman's clothes. Despite the forms and the stamps, the (double) passport check and notes, the woman would have no recourse. Court system? Busted. Police? Corrupt. I spent nearly two hours of my life filling out forms – in order, need I remind you, to freshen up some cheap sweaters – because that's simply what has always been done.

Take the students at Moscow State University, Russia's most prestigious institution of higher learning. Founded in 1755, it was home to Anton Chekhov and Mikhail Gorbachev, nearly a dozen Nobel laureates and an untold number of scientists. Last week, the university let it be known that any student fees paid through MI-Bank were lost, as the bank had filed for bankruptcy. One can imagine the endless paperwork (and stamp stamping!) required to make such payments. But all trace of the payments has been lost. The school's solution? The students must pay again.

This is what has turned many people in Moscow against Putin. It's not just him, but the system – one that began corroding in Soviet times, before a flicker of hope emerged with the fall of the Soviet Union, only to settle back into a non-functioning corrupt bureaucratic nightmare that now has the added bonus of wheedling itself into the private sector. So much has changed – and so much has not.
It's not all bad … some of the things I love about Russia

On the face of it, life in Moscow is not easy. Either you're dodging speeding cars, or praying your plane won't crash; paying an arm and a leg for groceries, or avoiding those who have availed themselves of the country's dirt cheap vodka. But deeper down, there is something called the "Russian soul". Without going into the details, this means that life in Russia – life in its cultural, philosophical sense – is richer than anywhere.

1. Moscow has the best theatre in the world, making London and New York look something like backwaters. Classics such as Chekhov and Gogol are constantly reinterpreted, new plays are performed, often with subtle (and not so subtle) commentary on the political scene. It's not uncommon to leave the theatre in tears – you've felt something!

2. Life in Moscow is never boring; it is a sea of absurdity. Leave the house and you might run into a horse on the street. Why? Just because. Get into a taxi and you'll be regaled with the driver's life story – I've met everyone from former nuclear scientists to a man who claims to have been to Vladimir Putin's home in East Germany in the 1980s. Amazing fashion (that lady who matched her leopard-print hat to her bag to her shoes, or that man with the mullet to end all mullets) also falls into this category.

3. The weather. Yes, the weather. You haven't felt the true joy of spring until you've made it through a Russian winter.

4. The underground scene is still the underground scene. In the west, punk rock and street art have long sold out, capitulated to commercialisation. In Russia, punk rockers Pussy Riot are in jail for their performances. Radical artists Voina have been arrested over and over for their political art. They are truly fighting the system. ME


Library of Social Science, Publishers is seeking submissions for an edited collection

The Anthology will consist of twelve papers, each of approximately 3,000 words in length.

Editor, Richard A. Koenigsberg, Library of Social Science

Submission Guidelines

Abstracts should be 300-400 words, and should identify the theoretical grounding for the essay or piece. Please also include a brief biography (100 words).

Deadline for abstracts:

May 28, 2012

Send abstracts to:

oanderson at

Notification of acceptance:

June 25, 2012

Accepted papers will be due:

October 27, 2012


Two million German soldiers died in the First World War. Yet Hitler declared that “the most precious blood had sacrificed itself joyfully.” In the mid-1930s, Hitler said that he would not hesitate to go to war because of “ten million young men I shall be sending to their death.” Declaring war on September 1, 1939, Hitler asked every German to “lay down his life for his people and country.” If anyone thought he could “evade this national duty,” he would “perish.” Hitler’s declaration of war contained the essence of Nazism: either die for Germany, or we will kill you.

Historian Michael Geyer notes that the German military’s “machinery of destruction and annihilation” went into high gear at the very moment Hitler and the Nazi leadership knew the war was lost. Casualties peaked at 450,000 in January 1945, when Germany became—in the words of Richard Bessel—the site of “the greatest killing frenzy the world has ever seen.”

Despite defeat at Stalingrad, Goebbels in1943 persuaded the German people to embrace “total war.” Insofar as millions of German soldiers were dying on the battlefield, individuals at home likewise were obligated to “bring the hardest sacrifices of blood.” As the carnage reached its climax, Goebbels observed with satisfaction that the German people had “surpassed themselves as a result of the bombing raids,” heroically overcoming fear—finally coming together to form a genuine national community.

In his classic, “What is a Nation?” (1882), Ernest Renan explained that love of country is proportional to the “sacrifices to which one has consented and the ills one has suffered.” Nazism represented the apotheosis of national sacrifice, generating suffering and destruction on a monumental scale. In the end, Geyer says, the Third Reich was about “collective death.” The distillation of Nazism, according to Bessel, lay in the “senseless destruction of human life” as Hitler and his cohorts turned Europe into a “sea of blood.”

Building on the case study of Nazi Germany, this volume will explore nationalism in its relationship to warfare and sacrificial death.


General Douglas MacArthur told West Point graduates in 1962 that as soldiers, they were required to practice “the greatest act of religious training—sacrifice.” General John Hackett stated that the essence of a soldier is not to slay, but to “offer oneself to be slain.” In Blood Sacrifice and the Nation, Carolyn Marvin says that the irrefutable sign of patriotism is “making one’s body an offering, a sacrifice.”

Soldiers’ sacrificial acts possess profound meaning for society. Babak Rahimi says that their blood bestows “new life on the community.” Marvin theorizes that society “depends upon the death of its own members at the hands of the group;” while Richard Koenigsberg declares that in war the “blood and body of the sacrificed soldier gives rise to the reality of the nation, anchoring belief in material reality.”


Fighting to the last breath on the Eastern Front, most German soldiers continued to believe in the nobility of their struggle because while “individuals die, the Volk lives on.” Nazi Germany represents an extreme case, but the idea that individuals must die so nations may live lies at the heart of Western warfare. The Roman poet Horace declared, “It is sweet and fitting to die for one’s country.” What is the nature and meaning of this dynamic that conceives death in battle as a noble act that enhances and valorizes one’s nation? This volume will interrogate and explore the meaning of this idea or fantasy: that in order for a nation to live and flourish, human beings must die.

Questions to consider include, but are not limited to:

   The self versus the enemy as sacrificial victim
   Warfare as potlatch, or conspicuous destruction
   Sacrifice, honor and masculinity
   Human bodies and the body politic
   Death for one’s comrades: “Greater love hath no man…”
   Sacrificial death and memorialization
   Nations and the fantasy of immortality

Implications for Critical Security Studies

Hitler stated that the liberal deification of the individual must lead to the destruction of the people; whereas Nazism sought to safeguard the people “if necessary at the expense of the individual.” When Hitler speaks about “the people,” he is not referring to actual human beings, but to an abstract concept—for which he caused the death of millions of Germans and the destruction of German society. How are we to understand an impulse that seeks security for “nations” at the expense of actual human lives? When trying to protect one’s “country,” what is it one seeks to protect?


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