Thursday 31 May 2007

Ideas Cannot Be Killed : Fidel Castro

A few days ago, while analyzing the expenses involved in the construction of three submarines of the Astute series, I said that with this money "75,000 doctors could be trained to look after 150 million people, assuming that the cost of training a doctor would be one-third of what it costs in the United States.” Now, along the lines of the same calculations, I wonder: how many doctors could be graduated with the one hundred billion dollars that Bush gets his hands on in just one year to keep on sowing grief in Iraqi and American homes. Answer: 999,990 doctors who could look after 2 billion people that today do not receive any medical care.

More than 600,000 people have lost their lives in Iraq and more than 2 million have been forced to emigrate since the American invasion began.

In the United States, around 50 million people do not have medical insurance. The blind market laws govern how this vital service is provided, and prices make it inaccessible for many, even in the developed countries. Medical services feed into the Gross Domestic Product of the United States, but they do not generate conscience for those providing them nor peace of mind for those who receive it.

The countries with less development and more diseases have the least number of medical doctors: one for every 5,000, 10,000, 15,000, 20,000 or more people. When new sexually transmitted diseases appear such as AIDS, which in merely 20 years has killed millions of persons, -- while tens of millions are afflicted, among them many mothers and children, although palliative measures now exist-- the price of medications per patient could add up to 5,000, 10,000 or up to 15,000 dollars each year. These are fantasy figures for the great majority of Third World countries where the few public hospitals are overflowing with the ill who die piled up like animals under the scourge of a sudden epidemic.

To reflect on these realities could help us to better understand the tragedy. It is not a matter of commercial advertising that costs so much money and technology. Add up the starvation afflicting hundreds of millions of human beings; add to that the idea of transforming food into fuels; look for a symbol and the answer will be George W. Bush.

When he was recently asked by an important personality about his Cuba policy, his answer was this: “I am a hard-line President and I am just waiting for Castro’s demise.” The wishes of such a powerful gentleman are no privilege. I am not the first nor will I be the last that Bush has ordered to be killed; nor one of those people who he intends to go on killing individually or en masse.

“Ideas cannot be killed”, Sarría emphatically said. Sarría was the black lieutenant, a patrol leader in Batista’s army who arrested us, after the attempt to seize the Moncada Garrison, while three of us slept in a small mountain hut, exhausted by the effort of breaking through the siege. The soldiers, fuelled by hatred and adrenalin, were aiming their weapons at me even before they had identified who I was. “Ideas cannot be killed”, the black lieutenant kept on repeating, practically automatically and in a hushed voice.

I dedicate those excellent words to you, Mr. W. Bush.


By Fidel Castro

Tuesday 29 May 2007

एक लेखक का काम क्‍या है

दिल्‍ली में हर रविवार को कुछ युवा लेखक एक पार्क में जुटते रहे हैं। पिछले दिनों राजधानी की सघन सृजनात्‍मक हलचलों में से आप इसे भी गिन सकते हैं। वे युवा जो रचनात्‍मक स्‍तर पर एक अच्‍छे समाज की कल्‍पना के साथ सक्रिय हों, उनका एक जगह लगातार जुटना एक ऐतिहासिक परिघटना की तरह ही है। ज़ाहिर है, जहां समूह होगा और लोकतंत्र उस समूह की बुनियादी शर्त होगी- मतभेद भी होंगे। ऐसे ही मतभेदों में से एक रहा- रचनात्‍मक सक्रियता की व्‍याख्‍याओं को लेकर। कुछ मानते रहे कि देश भर में होने वाले दमन और उसके खिलाफ खड़े जनांदोलनों के साथ प्रतीकात्‍मक सहमति के तौर पर एक लेखक को कलम के अलावा भी अपनी सक्रियता दिखानी होगी, तो कुछ को प्रदर्शन से जुड़ी हुई ऐसी सक्रियता गै़र रचनात्‍मक ज्‍यादा लगती रही। बात समूह टूटने तक पहुंच गयी है। लेकिन जो बहस है, वो सिर्फ इस समूह के लिए ज़रूरी नहीं है- रचनात्म‍कता की समझ को लेकर एक व्‍यापक संदर्भ में ज़रूरी बहस है। इसलिए हम दो नितांत व्‍यक्तिगत चिट्ठियों को मोहल्‍ले में बांच रहे हैं- ताकि विमर्श का ये संदर्भ ज्‍यादा से ज्‍यादा लोगों से जुड़े।
पहला पत्र, सहमतों के लिए एक खुला पत्र

साम्राज्‍यवाद विरोधी लेखक मंच एक नकारात्मक नाम है। संभवतः इसीलिए क्‍योंकि इसके तहत अब तक तमाम विरोधी तेवर ही प्रकट हुए हैं। वे रचना के नाम पर क्या कर रहे हैं, क्या कर सकते हैं, इसके लिए जगह बनती यहां नहीं दीखती है। लेखक के लिए मात्र रचना ही उसकी सक्रियता का प्रकाशित दस्तावेज होती है और उसकी सक्रियता की पड़ताल उसी आधार पर होती है। लेखक संघ में लेखक के लिए रचना का क्या मानी होता है यह जाहिर है। वह कहानी, कविता, आलेख, रिपोर्ताज आदि ही है, थोथी बकवास इसका विकल्प नहीं हो सकता। इस संघ में रचनात्मकता का यह हाल है कि हम केवल दूसरों की रचनाओं में मीन-मेख निकालते हैं। अपनी हालत यह है कि हम रद्दी रचनाएं छपवाकर उसके रद्दी होने की घोषणा भी अनंत हेकड़ी के साथ करते हैं। हमारी समझ से इससे ज्यादा गैर जिम्मेदाराना व्यवहार किसी लेखक संघ के लिए कुछ और हो ही नहीं सकता। जबकि वह लेखक ही भविष्य के इस संघ का घोषित प्रतिनिधि हो।

इन नकारात्मक संदर्भों में हम पहले तो लेखक संघ का नाम बदलकर वैज्ञानिक लोकतांत्रिक समाजवादी लेखक संघ रखना चाहेंगे। इसका काम संघ के युवा लेखकों की रचनात्मकता की पड़ताल व उसका विकास होगा। किसी लेखक की सक्रियता का अंतिम पैमाना उसका लेखन होगा, उसकी मौखिक दलीलें नहीं। हम अपने और बाहर के नवतुरिया लेखकों की रचनाओं को सामने लाएंगे और उनका सार्वजनिक पाठ कराएंगे। अपनी एक-एक पाई जोड़कर जुटायी गयी राशि को पिछले आयोजनों जैसे आयोजनों पर खर्च करने की हमारी कोई मंशा नहीं है। उस तरीके से सस्ता प्रचार पाना हमारा ध्येय नहीं है। किसी भी वैसे आयोजन को करने से पहले हम बुलेटिन, पुस्तिका, पत्रिका आदि निकालकर अपनी स्थिति स्पष्ट करेंगे। उसके बाद ही हम वैसा प्रदर्शनकामी, व्ययी आयोजन करेंगे, वह भी साल में एक या ज्यादा से ज्यादा दो होंगे।

इस लेखक संघ में शामिल लोगों के लिए हर सप्ताह बैठक में आना अनिवार्यता नहीं होगी। महीने में अगर कोई एक बार भी शामिल हो पाता है, तो उसकी वही अहमियत होगी जो हर सप्ताह नियमित आनेवालों की होगी। लेखकों का महत्व उनकी रचना के आधार पर होगा, उनकी उपस्थिति या जुमलेबाजी के आधार पर नहीं। अगर महीनों हमारी बैठकों में न भी कोई रचनाकार अगली बार किसी बेहतरीन रचना के साथ उपस्थित होगा तो उसकी सक्रियता को किसी से कम करके नहीं आंका जाएगा। सक्रियता पर सवाल पूछकर हम किसी लेखक को लज्जित नहीं करेंगे। क्योंकि सक्रियता ऐसी चीज नहीं है, जिसे ऊंची आवाज में बोलकर या सड़क पर खड़े होकर, चिल्ला कर दर्शायी जा सके। सक्रियता को संघ रचनात्मकता के आईने में देखेगा, इसके लिए कोई दूसरी कसौटी मान्य नहीं होगी। बाकी सक्रियता उसका निजी मुआमला होगा। उससे जुड़े सवाल यहां नहीं उठेंगे। सिगरेट फूंकना या डेढ़ इंच की पार्टियों की सर्वाधिक उल्लसित होकर चर्चा करने को हम सक्रियता के विरोध में अय्याशी या कुंठा से जोड़कर देखेंगे।

पत्रकारिता से जुड़े लेखक अगर अच्छी-बुरी घटनाओं की चर्चा करते हैं या रपट लिखते हैं या कहीं आते-जाते हैं, उसका मात्र सूचनात्मक महत्व ही होगा, लेखकीक सक्रियता से उसका कोई लेना-देना नहीं होगा। क्योंकि वह सक्रियता उनकी रोटी से जुड़ा एक पेशेवर कार्य भर माना जाएगा। स्वतंत्र पत्रकार इसके अपवाद होंगे।

पिछली बैठक में शब्द को पकड़ने पर आपत्ति की गयी थी। हमारा मानना है कि आम लोगों तक लेखक के रूप में हमारे शब्द ही पहुंचेंगे, हमारे चेहरे की छटा उसका विकल्प नहीं बनेगी।
कुमार मुकुल, स्वतंत्र मिश्र, पंकज चौधरी
अरविंद शेष, पंकज पराशर, अच्युतानंद मिश्र


प्रतिपत्र

पर्चा पढ़ा। पर शायद मैं इन दलीलों से सहमत न हो पाऊं। वैसे ये फर्स्‍ट हैंड रिएक्‍शन है और मुझे भी और सोचने की ज़रूरत है। पर मैं अपना नज़रिया इस पर्चे पर आपको लिख रहा हूं। सहमति-असहमति अपनी जगह है, पर कृपया इसे अन्‍यथा न लें। बहुत सालों पहले हमारे हिल्‍सा (बिहार) में, जहां से मैं हूं, एक संघ के आदमी से मेरी बात होती थी। बात नहीं बहस कहना ज्‍यादा उचित होगा। उनका कहना था कि आपलोग हर चीज़ का विरोध करते हैं और मुर्दाबाद करते हैं। आपके विज़न में और कुछ है ही नहीं। लालू और मुलायम जैसे समाजवादियों के सत्ता में आने और असफल हो जाने पर किसी ने कमेंट में कहा था कि चूंकि ये सिर्फ विरोध करना जानते थे, वही करके यहां तक पहुंचे थे, सो कोई अच्‍छा काम नहीं कर पाये। मुझे समझ में नहीं आता, लालू-मुलायम जैसे लोग सत्ता संतुलन तो सीख जाते हैं, पर अच्‍छा काम करना कैसे नहीं सीख पाते। मेरे ख़याल से ये उनकी ईमानदारी का प्रश्‍न ज्‍यादा है, योग्‍यता का उतना नहीं।

पर्चे में सबसे ऊपर जो बात है, वो मुझे कुछ कुछ वैसी ही लग रही है। चूंकि टाइटल में ही विरोध है, अत: यह एक नकारात्‍मक नाम है। मैं इससे सहमत नहीं हूं। मार्क्‍स का सारा लेखन कैपिटलिज्‍म और इसकी प्रवृत्तियों के खिलाफ है। इस मतलब यह नहीं कि उनके लेखन में कोई सकारात्‍मक पक्ष नहीं है। वैसे भी साम्राज्‍यवाद पूंजीवाद का वो स्‍वरूप है, जिसका विरोध ही हो सकता है। समर्थन तो कतई नहीं।

दूसरी बात ये कि चाहे गांधीवादी हों, समाजवादी हों, कम्‍युनिस्‍ट हों या नक्‍सल, सारे लोग एक राय से साम्राज्‍यवाद के खिलाफ हैं। और ये एक व्‍यापक सहमति का आलेख हो सकता है, जो हमारे मंच में है। कम से कम मैं तो यही समझ कर इसमें अपने को शामिल मानता हूं। एक और बात पर्चे में लिखी है कि लेखक की पहचान उसके लेखन से होना चाहिए, राजनीतिक सक्रियता से नहीं। मैं ये ज़रूर मानता हूं कि लेखक की पहचान उसकी रचना से होती है, पर लेखक सिर्फ लेखक ही है, ऐसी बात मुझे नहीं लगती। एक तो ये कि वो किसी समाज, राष्‍ट्र का अंग होता है। पहले वो एक नागरिक होता है, बाद में लेखक या कुछ और। अगर कोई ये कहे कि मज़दूरों को सिर्फ मज़दूरी से मतलब रखना चाहिए, और किसी चीज़ से नहीं, क्‍योंकि उसका काम मज़दूरी करना है और उसकी पहचान उसके अच्‍छे काम से ही है, जैसा कि आप कह रहे हैं कि लेखक का उसकी रचना से- तो ये ठीक नहीं है। हां, अगर कोई मीन-मेख निकालता है तो ग़लत है, चाहे जो भी हो। किसी भी रचना का क्रिएटिव क्रिटिक होना चाहिए न कि उसका मज़ाक उड़ाना। चाहे कोई अपनी रचना का करे या किसी और की- मेरी नज़र में ये ग़लत है।

आप लिख रहे हैं कि पत्रकारीय चीज़ों का महत्‍व नहीं होगा। फिर तो मैं वैसे ही बाहर हो जाऊंगा। क्‍योंकि मैं कविता-कहानी वगैरह नहीं लिखता। दरअसल लिखना ही नहीं आता। आप भी वही ग़लती दोहरा रहे हैं, जिसकी अपेक्षा आप दूसरों से नहीं करते। आप नहीं चाहते किसी व्‍यक्ति या रचना का मज़ाक उड़ाया जाए और खुद व्‍यक्ति का मज़ाक उड़ा रहे हैं। जिस छोटी बात पर वहां बहस शुरू हुई थी, वो इतनी बड़ी नहीं कि उसे इतना तूल दिया जाए क्‍योंकि मैं वहां खुद था।

उम्‍मीद करता हूं, सब मिल कर कुछ अच्‍छा करने की कोशिश करेंगे क्‍योंकि वक्‍त की यही मांग है। अगर कोई ग्रुप असफल होता है, या जनता के हित में चल रहे किसी आंदोलन या काम में रुकावट आती है, असफलता मिलती है, तो ये हम सबकी विफलता मानी जाएगी। कल कोई ये नहीं पूछेगा कि वजह क्‍या थी। लोग बस इतना ही पूछेंगे कि आप चुप क्‍यों थे। आपको ब्रेख्‍त की कविता याद होगी। जहां तक लेखकों की साहित्‍य से इतर सक्रियता का सवाल है- हमारे सामने वाल्‍टर बेंजामिन, क्रिस्‍टोफर कॉडवेल, लोर्का, नेरुदा से लेकर तमाम तरह के उदाहरण हैं। मैं खुद को इसी परंपरा में रखना चाहूंगा।

उम्‍मीद करते हैं आप मेरे तर्कों को तरजीह देंगे। इसे किसी चश्‍मे से नहीं देखेंगे।

आपका,
मृत्‍युंजय

you can also look it at mohalla.blogspot.com

Against State Brutality

The detention of noted human rights activist Binayak Sen under the Chhattisgarh Special Public Security Act, 2005 (PSA) and the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act has attracted nationwide condemnation. Sen, general secretary of the Chhattisgarh People's Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), and the union's national vice-president, was arrested for his alleged links with banned Maoist groups.

The critical allegation is that Sen met senior Maoist leader Narayan Sanyal more than 30 times in recent months in the Raipur central jail. On the very face of it, the charge is preposterous. Sen met Sanyal with the authorities' knowledge and consent and always in the presence of a jailer. As a civil liberties activist, it is his legitimate function to meet detainees and ensure that their fundamental rights are respected. Whether he met Sanyal 35 times or 100 times is totally irrelevant.

It speaks poorly of the Chhattisgarh government that it cavalierly levelled defamatory and scandalous charges against an activist-intellectual of Sen's standing, who has an illustrious record as a public-spirited paediatrician connected with the people's health movement. Sen was involved with the setting up of the Shaheed Hospital, an initiative of the great trade unionist Shankar Guha Niyogi who was murdered at the behest of rapacious industrialists.

The hospital, owned and operated by a workers' organisation, remains unmatched anywhere in India for helping the population of a backward tribal area callously neglected by the state. Sen was on the official advisory committee that drew up one of India's most successful community-based primary healthcare programmes.

It's nobody's case that Sen is a Naxalite, or a Maoist sympathiser. Everyone who knows him, as this writer has done for many years, will testify to his commitment to a peaceful struggle for a compassionate, humane society. Yet, the Chhattisgarh government arrested him under the draconian PSA. This extraordinarily repressive law allows for detention of a person on the vaguest of charges. The charges include committing acts with a "tendency to pose an obstacle to the administration of law” and actions which "encourage(s) the disobedience of the established law". This law criminalises even non-violent protests, including Gandhian civil disobedience. It's a disgrace that the PSA remains on India's statute books.

Sen was detained even before the police had obtained a shred of evidence against him. Since then, they have searched his house and claim to have collected "hundreds of incriminating documents", which include compact disks, pamphlets and other papers. Now, most of the documents are in the public domain. The list includes newspaper clippings, CDs on "fake encounters", and letters from victims of state repression, since published in newspapers. Much of the impounded material pertains to Sen's work as a health and civil liberties activist.

Clearly, these malicious police allegations are of the same variety as the charges filed in 2002 against The Kashmir Times Delhi bureau chief, Syed Iftikhar Geelani. He too was accused of possessing "classified" documents, suggesting links with terrorists. The police were forced to retract all such charges when it was established that Geelani's "secret" documents were obtained from public-domain sources, none of them remotely connected with terrorism.

Geelani was detained for eight months -- and released without apology or explanation -- because he is a Kashmiri and related to separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani. Sen is being harassed because he's a civil liberties activist who has courageously exposed a number of police atrocities. These, remarkably, include 155 "fake encounters" in Chhattisgarh in two years. The latest was the cold-blooded murder of 12 Adivasis on March 31 -- which made the headlines even as the public was absorbing the shock from revelations about the "encounter" killing of Sohrabuddin Shaikh and Kausar-Bi by DIG Vanzara in Gujarat.

It would be an even greater injustice if Sen has to languish for months in jail before the charges against him are disproved. Surely, Indian courts have a duty to prevent such miscarriage of justice. Surely, top politicians and bureaucrats have learned some lessons from the sordid stories of abduction and outright killings committed by trigger-happy policemen. Surely, it has not escaped the attention even of India's creaking justice delivery system that draconian laws, which allow preventive detention and forced confessions, are liable to be -- and usually are -- misused. They create a climate of impunity, in which no official is held accountable for his/her gross misconduct.

It bears recalling that the rate of conviction under the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act was less than two per cent. This speaks of gross abuse of the law. The police didn't bother to collect evidence, which would help their case stand up. They used TADA (and later POTA) to bung people into jail and extract confessions from them under duress, including threats of "encounters". Such laws became excuses not to conduct diligent investigation, while raising alarmist fears about extremism, terrorism and threats to "national security".

The PSA was used in Chhattisgarh four times earlier -- for instance, to arrest a petty shopkeeper for selling groceries to Maoist sympathisers (of whose identity he probably wasn't aware), and to harass a Class XII student who was in love with a suspected Naxalite.

The Chhattisgarh police are now planting stories about a "close relative" of Dr Sen's, who is subversive by virtue of having studied at Jawaharlal Nehru University! Only a warped khaki brain can think in such philistine, irrational ways. Yet, it's precisely this way of thinking that led the Chhattisgarh government to set up Salwa Judum, a viciously right-wing band of thugs who target and kill Maoists. They have razed villages, raped women and looted what little the poor possess -- with police collusion. Salwa Judum has ignited a civil war and done incalculable harm to ordinary Advasis. No fewer than 47,000 people have become homeless owing to its depredations.

However, the Chhattisgarh government's anti-Naxalite juggernaut continues to roll on, setting Advasi against Adivasi, village against village, and bankrupting the state of all its legitimacy. The government now plans to use helicopter gunships to intimidate villagers, cut down prime forests, and repeat the "Strategic Hamlets" strategy of the United States during the Vietnam War by creating "Naxalite-free" villages. And yes, they plan to use grenades, not just bullets, in skirmishes with Maoists.

There's a larger purpose behind the anti-Naxal operations apart from trying to liquidate Maoists. It is to make Chhattisgarh safe for huge mining and industrial projects, which dispossess people. Chhattisgarh is selling its precious mineral wealth cheap to promote neoliberal capitalism. It has signed more than 30 memoranda of understanding with business houses, including multinationals with a terrible human rights record. The human consequences of such a strategy have become obvious -- especially in Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, and Orissa. In Orissa, there's growing popular resistance to the South Korean company POSCO's steel plant and the Tatas' steel mill. 2006 began with the gunning down of 13 Adivasis at Kalinganagar. And last fortnight saw attacks upon peaceful protestors by goons hired by POSCO.

This insanity must stop. The monstrous mining and steel projects, in which the people have no stake, must not be granted clearance by bypassing environmental and rehabilitation scrutiny. Or else, the state will lose all its popular legitimacy. Then, the Maoists will have achieved their purpose.


By Praful Bidwai

Monday 28 May 2007

कौन मार रहा है किसानों को

हम एक ऐसे देश के नागरिक हैं, जहां चारों ओर त्राहिमाम है और देश का शासक वर्ग रोम के तानाशाह नीरो की तरह जीडीपी विकास दर की मधुर धुन बजा रहा है। शासक वर्ग की खाल इतनी मोटी हो चुकी है कि इन पर किसी भी चीज का असर नहीं होता। एक तरफ देश का हर छोटा-बड़ा राजनेता करोड़ों के हेर-फेर का आरोपी या दोषी है, हमारे देश के उद्यमी अरबपतियों की सूची में जापान के उद्यमियों को पीछे छोड़ चुके हैं, वहीं दूसरी तरफ देश का बहुसंख्यक हिस्सा भुखमरी के कगार पर है। अकारण नहीं है कि इस साल यू-एन-डी-पी द्वारा जारी किये गये मानव विकास सूचकांक में भारत का स्थान 126 वां है। किसानों द्वारा आत्महत्या की खबरें अब अखबारों में जगह नहीं पातीं, क्योंकि यह रोज़ की बात हो चुकी है और ब्रेकिंग न्यूज के इस ज़माने में किसी को भी चौंकाने वाली खबर नहीं रह गयी है। देश का प्रधानमंत्री ऐसे ही एक क्षेत्र में जाकर कुछ राहत पैकेज की घोषणा कर आता है और अपने कर्तव्य की इतिश्री मान कर बैठ जाता है। जबकि राहत पैकेज के उसके एलान के बाद उसी इलाक़े में किसानों की आत्महत्या की दर और भी बढ़ जाती है। देश के बाकी हिस्सों में जो हो रहा है, अगर उसे भी शामिल कर लें, तो इस देश को आत्महंता देश घोषित करने की नौबत आ जाएगी। याद करें यह वही देश है, जहां एक समय किसान इतने आत्मनिर्भर थे कि कहावत प्रचलित थी, कोऊ नृप हो हमें का हानी।

आश्‍चर्य यह है कि आंकड़ों में हर साल गरीबी घटने की बात बतायी जाती है। अभी हाल में आयी एक रिपोर्ट में बड़े फख्र के साथ यह दिखलाया गया कि गरीबी रेखा के नीचे रहने वालों की संख्या घट कर मात्र तीस करोड़ रह गयी है। पर गरीबी रेखा से पार पाने वाले और इसके नीचे रह जाने वाले लोगों की आय का आंकड़ा देखें, तो आप अपने रहनुमाओं की बाजीगरी देख कर हैरान रह जाएंगे। राजधानी दिल्ली में जो परिवार रोज 14 रूपये से अधिक खर्च करता है, उसे गरीबी रेखा से ऊपर माना गया है। जितने रुपयों में दिल्ली जैसे शहर में एक व्यक्ति का नाश्‍ता भी नहीं आता, उतना खर्च एक पूरे परिवार के लिए कैसे पूरा हो सकता है, यह तो बस आंकड़ों के बाजीगर ही समझ सकते हैं। यही हाल अन्य राज्यों का भी है। कुछ महीने पहले के एक सर्वे में यह तथ्य सामने आया था कि देश के 25 करोड़ परिवारों की रोज की आमदनी 12 रूपये से भी कम है। उस पर मुश्किल यह है कि ये सारे आंकड़े बाजीगरों के ही हैं।

सवाल उठता है यह सब क्यों कर घटित हो रहा है। सवाल यह भी है कि अगर भूमंडलीकरण इतना ही सर्वनाशी है, तो फिर शासक वर्ग इसके पीछे क्यों पड़ा है। इसका सीधा सा अर्थ है कि देश का शासक वर्ग और इसकी जमात इन परिवर्तनों से खुश है। और इसका सीधा असर साफ-साफ दिखता भी है। जो शहरी मध्य वर्ग कल तक 15-20 हजार की नौकरी को बड़ी उपलब्धि मानता था, आज वह लाखों में खेल रहा है। भले ही आबादी के हिसाब से यह तबका छोटा हो, पर इसने शहरी अर्थतंत्र को एक नयी गति दी है। घर-घर तक पसरता बाजार और मॉल इसकी पहचान बन चुके हैं। जबकि दूसरी तरफ किसान आत्महत्या को विवश और लाचार हैं। पर क्या विकास की इस गुलाबी तस्वीर और देश के बहुसंख्यक लोगों की दुश्‍वारी के बीच कोई रिश्‍ता हो सकता है? ऐसा होना तो नहीं चाहिए, पर दुर्भाग्य से ऐसा ही है। पूंजीवादी अर्थव्यवस्था ऐसे ही विराधाभासों पर टिकी होती है।

भारत में इस खास तरह के पूंजीवादी संक्रमण पर बात करना चाहें, तो हमें इसकी पृष्‍ठभूमि में झांकने की जरूरत महसूस होगी। भूमंडलीकरण का दौर हमारे देश में 1990 के समय परवान चढ़ी। यह वही दौर था जब देश में मंडल और कमंडल की राजनीति भी उफान पर थी। भारतीय इतिहास को पूरी तरह बदल देनेवाली इन तीन परिघटनाओं पर अलग-अलग काफी बात हो चुकी है। कुछ लोगों ने मंडल और कमंडल आंदोलन को आपस में जोड़ कर देखने की कोशिश भी की है। पर 'मंडल', 'कमंडल' और 'भूमंडलीकरण' को जोड़कर देखने की कोशिश शायद ही की गयी है। क्लाउद लेवी-स्ट्रास के संरचनावाद के मूल सिद्धान्त को आधार बनाकर बात करें तो पहली समानता तो इन तीनों शब्दों में एक खास तरह की एकरूपता है, जिसके मूल में निश्‍िचत तौर पर 'मंडल' शब्द है। पर इन तीनों के बीच एक अलग ही किस्म का संबंध है। जिस पर से पर्दा उठाने के लिए थोड़े विस्तार में जाने की जरूरत है।

1857 के सिपाही विद्रोह के कारण मिले झटके के बाद अंग्रेजों ने भारतीय सामंतवाद से एक खास तरह का समझौता कायम किया, जो आजादी के बाद भी भारतीय शासक वर्ग निभाता रहा। लेकिन आजादी के पहले कांग्रेस के मूल प्रस्तावों में शामिल रहे जमींदारी उन्मूलन के सिद्धान्त ने निश्चित तौर पर भारतीय सामंतवाद को डरा दिया था। जमींदारों के इसी भय ने द्विराष्‍ट्र के विखंडनवादी सिद्धान्त को मजबूती दी, जिसकी परिणति भारत विभाजन में हुई। उच्च जातियों ने विभाजन का फायदा जम कर उठाया। मुस्लिम जमींदारों द्वारा छोड़ी गयी ज़मीन, चल और अचल संपत्ति को हस्तगत करने में इन्होंने कोई देरी नहीं की। कुछ ज़मीनें पिछड़ी जातियों के भी हाथ लगी। आज़ादी के बाद भी शासक वर्ग में सामंतवाद के हावी रहने के कारण ज़मींदारी उन्मूलन की बात धरी की धरी रह गयी। सामंती वर्ग तब तक पूरी तरह संभल चुका था। विदेशों में पली-बढ़ी इनकी पीढ़ी तो पहले ही सचेत हो चुकी थी। इसने नये ज़माने के रंग-ढंग, देख-सुन-समझ लिया था। नेहरु की उद्योगपरस्त नीतियों ने भी सामंतवाद को सचेत करने में भूमिका निभायी। खेती से ज्यादा ध्यान सामंतवाद मुनाफा संस्कृति का हिस्सा बनने में देने लगा। पर तब तक बड़े सामंत और राजा-रजबाड़े ही इस दौड़ में शामिल थे। मंझोले और छोटे ज़मींदार अभी भी पुराने अंदाज़ में ही चल रहे थे। हालांकि इस बदलाव में छोटी-बड़ी काश्‍तकारी की उतनी भूमिका नहीं थी, जितनी उनकी शिक्षा और समझदारी की। पर आज़ादी के बाद कम्‍युनिस्ट पार्टियों के ज़मींदारी विरोधी और भूमि अधिग्रहण आंदोलनों और नक्सलबाड़ी ने इन पर जो गहरी चोट की, उसने रही-सही कसर भी पूरी कर दी। सामंत वर्गों ने अपना सीधा नाता शहरों से जोड़ लिया। जहां पहले से या तो इनकी संतानें अच्छी नौकरियों में थीं या व्यवसाय को अपना चुकी थीं। यही वह समय था जब छोटी जोत वाली किसान जातियां जो ज्यादातर पिछड़े वर्गों से आती थीं, ने ताकत हासिल की। पहले तो उन्होंने बटाई पर इनकी ज़मीनें लीं और फिर हाड़-पसीने की कमाई से बचाये रुपयों से ज़मीनें खरीदनी शुरू कर दी। जब इन्हें आर्थिक आज़ादी हासिल हुई, तो असहनीय सामाजिक व्यवस्था के प्रति वर्षों से इनके मन में दबा गुस्सा बाहर आया और अपने को ताकतवर बनाने के लिए इन्होंने सारा ज़ोर सत्ता हासिल करने में लगा दिया। और यहीं से पिछड़ी और उच्च जातियों के आपसी टकराव का रास्ता साफ हो गया। क्योंकि सत्ता की चाभी से नये अवसरों की जो गंगा निकलती थी, वह उच्च जातियां किसी और को थमाने को तैयार नहीं थीं। पिछड़ों के लिए नौकरी में आरक्षण की मांग ने इस लड़ाई को हवा दी, जिससे मंडल और कमंडल के बीच संघर्ष उभर कर सतह पर आ गया। 1989 के चुनाव में जनता दल की जीत में पिछड़ों के उभार ने बड़ी भूमिका निभायी। 1990 तक कई राज्यों में पिछड़ी जाति के लोग सत्तासीन हो गये। इसके साथ ही पिछड़ी जातियों ने आरक्षण की जंग भी जीत ली। यहीं से उच्च जातियों को लगना शुरू हुआ कि उनका तिलिस्म अब टूट रहा है। सत्ता के साथ ही वे सारे संसाधन जिन पर अब तक सिर्फ इनका कब्‍ज़ा था, इनके हाथों से निकलने का खतरा पैदा हो गया।

यहीं से उन्होंने यह समझ लिया कि लोकतंत्र अब उनके काम का नहीं रह गया है। लोकतांत्रिक प्रणाली को कमजोर बनाये बिना अब इनका काम चलने वाला नहीं है। ऐसा सरकार की शक्तियों को कमज़ोर करके ही किया जा सकता है। जिसमें सार्वजनिक उपक्रमों को ख़त्म कर निजी उपक्रमों को बढ़ावा देना शामिल था। उनके विदेशी आका सोवियत संघ के विघटन के बाद से ही बहुराष्‍ट्रीय कंपनियों के माध्यम से पूंजी की विश्‍व विजयी अभियान पर निकल चुके थे। अंतत: 1991 में भारतीय शासक वर्ग ने भूमंडलीकरण को अपना लिया। इससे इन्होंने एक तीर से कई निशाने साधे। एक तो आरक्षण से पिछड़ों को मिल सकने वाली सरकारी नौकरियों पर लगाम कस दी। क्योंकि सार्वजनिक उपक्रमों को एक-एक कर या तो बंद या बेच देने की योजना बनायी गयी। दूसरे यह कि कृषि के कारण पिछड़े वर्गों को मिल रहे लाभों से वंचित करने का मौका मिल गया। यह इस प्रकार संभव हुआ कि शासक वर्ग ने कृषि को अपनी प्राथमिकता सूची से ग़ायब कर दिया और कृषि पर मिलने वाली सब्सिडी को न्यूनतम कर दिया। (जबकि प्राइवेट सेक्टर को वो सारी सुविधाएं दी गयीं, सेज़ इसका सबसे बड़ा नमूना है)। इस प्रकार देश की रीढ़ कृषि अर्थव्यवस्था को चौपट कर दिया गया। देश भर में कृषि संकट की जो हाहाकार सुनाई पड़ रही है, इसकी नींव भारतीय शासक वर्ग ने 90 के दशक में ही तैयार कर दी थी।

भारतीय मध्य वर्ग, पूंजीपति वर्ग और अन्तराष्‍ट्रीय साम्राज्यवाद ने भारतीय समाज के भीतर के इस तनाव का जबर्दस्त फायदा उठाया। वे अपनी सारी नीतियां भारतीय शासक वर्ग से मनवाने में कामयाब रही। यह विडंबना ही कहा जाएगा कि इसमें पिछड़े वर्ग से आये नेताओं ने भी महत्वपूर्ण भूमिका निभायी। बहुत हद तक तो निजी लाभ के लिए और कुछ इनको समझ पाने के अभाव के कारण। मुश्किल यह है कि हम लड़ाई लड़ने की बात तो करते हैं, पर हमेशा निशाना ग़लत लगाते हैं। कुछ तो मार्क्‍सवादी चेतना से वशीभूत अन्तरराष्‍ट्रवाद के कारण और कुछ सब कुछ समझते हुए भी। इसीलिए भारत में वर्ग और जाति के उत्स को जोड़ कर देखने की जरूरत है।

भारतीय कृषि संकट को दूर करने के लिए बाहरी ही नहीं, आन्तरिक दुश्‍मनों की पहचान भी उतनी ही जरूरी है।

मृत्युंजय प्रभाकर
(मृत्‍युंजय पटना के हमारे साथी रहे हैं। जेएनयू में कला-सौंदर्य की अपनी पटनिया समझदारी को एक बड़ा फलक दिया। इन दिनों चरखा फीचर एजेंसी से जुड़े हैं। वे बता रहे हैं कि खेती कैसे एक अच्छी-ख़ासी किसान आबादी को तबाह कर रही है, वे मर रहे हैं और प्रधानमंत्री विकास की लोरियां गाकर मुल्क के नागरिकों को सुला रहे हैं। इस बात की ख़ास तौर पर पड़ताल की गयी है कि कृषि संकट की असली जड़ें क्या हैं और किसानों को कमज़ोर करने की साज़ि‍श की शुरुआत दरअसल कब से होनी शुरू हुई।)

see it on mohalla.blogspot.com also

Israel Targets Hamas’s Political Leadership

Israel is continuing to mount air strikes in Gaza as part of its drive to destroy Hamas as a military and political force and torpedo the Palestinian national unity government, as well as any possibility of a negotiated deal with Palestinian leaders.
Israel argues that its air strikes are aimed at halting Hamas’s ability to launch Qassem rocket attacks on its towns bordering Gaza. On Sunday, an Israeli man died as a result of a Qassem rocket in Sederot—the twelfth person to have been killed by rockets fired from Gaza at Israel in the past three years.
But the scale of deaths, injuries and damage sustained by Palestinians defies such claims. Nearly 50 people have been killed in Israeli attacks over the past fortnight. Dozens more have been injured, including women and children, and many buildings have been destroyed.
Moreover, while previously Israel’s military forces have focussed on Hamas’s armed wing, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert warned on Sunday: “There will be no limit in acting against the terror groups and against those who are responsible for the terror. No one is immune.”
Helicopters and fighter planes, using precision weapons, have conducted air strikes against money-changing offices and businesses in the Gaza Strip that Israel claimed had been transferring money to Hamas and other militant organisations, as well as Hamas’s arms caches, training bases and command posts for its militia, the Executive Force.
Having eschewed a major ground offensive against Gaza at this stage, Israel is extending its policy of targetted assassinations to political as well as militant leaders, including Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, the leader of Hamas’s political wing.
On Saturday, Israel’s military forces fired two missiles that landed near Haniyeh’s home in the Shati refugee camp on the outskirts of Gaza City. They hit trailers used by his bodyguards and cut electricity to the crowded camp.
Though the army claimed Haniyeh was not a target, the missile strike was part of a larger offensive against Hamas targets that killed five people only hours after Gaza militants had indicated they would stop their rocket attacks if Israel halted its air strikes. Following this assault, Hamas rejected any talk of a ceasefire.
Earlier in the week, Israeli missiles destroyed the home of Khalil al-Haya, a Hamas member of the Palestinian Legislative Council, killing eight of his relatives and neighbours.
In the West Bank, Israeli forces arrested leading members of the Palestinian government, including cabinet minister Wasfi Kabaha. Last Thursday alone, 33 Hamas politicians, legislators, the mayors of four West Bank cities, including Nablus and Qalqilya, and local council members, were detained in overnight raids. The army also seized computers and files from politicians’ offices, charities and a school in Hebron.
Palestinian information minister, Mustafa Barghouti, described the arrests as “a massacre” of Palestinian democracy and civil society. Last year, Israel arrested more than 40 Hamas politicians, including several ministers and the speaker of the parliament, Aziz Dweik, following the capture of Israeli Army corporal, Gilad Shalit. They had been elected in January 2006 on Hamas’s Change and Reform list, which won the parliamentary elections. Nearly all are still being detained without trial in Israeli jails. The charges against them include membership of Hamas, which Israel and the US have designated as a terrorist organisation.
The most senior Palestinian official arrested in the recent raids, Education Minister Nasser Eddin al-Shaer, is not even a member of Hamas. He was also detained in last year’s swoop but was released later by a military court, because no incriminating evidence was found.
Israel’s foreign ministry issued a statement saying, “a terrorist organisation remains a terrorist organisation, even if its members stand for democratic elections. Membership in such an organisation is a violation of Israeli and international law.”
Defence Minister Amir Peretz said in a radio interview that Israel would not make a distinction between the political and military wings of Hamas. “The arrest of these Hamas leaders,” he said, “sends a message to the military organisations that we demand that this firing [of Qassem rockets] stop. If the rockets do not stop, we will not stop.” He added that Israel was “biting its lip” and refraining, for now, from launching a wide-scale ground offensive in Gaza.
Peretz’s deputy, Ephraim Sneh, went even further. Having described Hamas leaders as “terrorists in suits,” he was asked if this meant the Palestinian prime minister could be targetted for assassination.
Sneh replied, “I’ll put it like this. We don’t care if he’s a ringleader, a perpetrator of rocket launching or if he is one of the political leaders. No one has immunity. There is no one who is in the circle of commanders and leaders in Hamas who is immune from a strike. For what does political Hamas do? It gives the operational approval to those who are doing the fighting.”
In other words, Israel has arrogated to itself the power to kill another country’s elected leadership so as to eliminate it as a political force. It is to this end also that Israel has intervened in support of Fatah in the factional fighting with Hamas that has killed at least 50 Palestinians this past month.
Confirmation of Israel’s success in this regard has come from Javier Solana, the European Union foreign minister. Speaking after talks with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli leaders on Thursday, Solana said he did not know whether the current Fatah-Hamas unity government had reached its “death,” but it was a “non-functioning government”.
The recent offensive in Gaza and the West Bank underscores Israel’s hostility to any form of Palestinian state. The logic of the demographic situation is that for Israel to survive as an explicitly Jewish state, the Palestinians in the Occupied Territories must be driven out and the Palestinians as a whole reduced to an atomised mass that is easily policed.
No Palestinian leadership, whatever its political hue, is therefore acceptable to Israel. It had previously rejected Fatah, which had recognised Israel, as a “partner for peace” under Yasser Arafat’s leadership. In so far as Israel continues to have any dealings with Fatah under Mahmoud Abbas, this is solely for the purpose of fomenting civil strife and chronic instability so that the Palestinians either leave “voluntarily” or submit to Israel’s diktats.
The right-wing Likud leader and former Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu articulated this policy most openly. Last week he proposed “a wide range of actions... to apply pressure”. This was to “begin with a general closure of Gaza,” he said, “through a controlled stoppage of services such as electricity and water, up to targetted killings and actions from the area on infrastructure targets, or limited ground incursion to the radius of the Qassam range or a larger ground incursion.”
Asked if he favoured a large-scale infantry incursion, Netanyahu said, “I think the problem here is to return to the balance of deterrence that was so very eroded in the last year. As a result of the last war, Gaza has turned into Lebanon Two with bunkers.”
In an interview published on Thursday in the Financial Times, Netanyahu reiterated Likud’s long-standing position that the Palestinians already had their own state—Jordan—and called for “some kind of federation or confederation between Jordan and the Palestinians”.
Netanyahu, who is closely aligned with Washington’s neo-conservative clique, also indicated that the offensive against the Palestinians was part of a broader objective to reorder the Middle East.
Israel was fighting a war on several fronts, he stressed. “We now have three live fronts: one Hizbullah, which has rearmed itself with more weapons than it had before the war and better kinds of weapons... Second, Gaza, which is turning itself into a second Lebanon; and, third, Syria, which is arming itself feverishly, which is something it has not done in 30 years.”
He added: “The largest issue confronting Israel is the tide of militant Islam sweeping our region and threatening the entire world. But it is centred on the Middle East and the two streams—the Shia stream in Iran and the Sunni stream in al-Qaeda—they sometimes collide with each but more often than not, as in Iraq, they collude against the common enemy.”
The greatest danger was Iran, he continued, which Israel claims is funding and training all the terrorist groups. Here, he said, there were three courses of action: “First, nothing, in which case they will get [nuclear] weapons, possibly in three or four years ... Second, you can reserve the military option, preferably by the US, which has the means to do so. But that should be a last resort.”
Finally, “you can use the economic weakness of the regime to put economic pressure upon it by a combination of actions to limit its credit lines and divestment, divesting by companies, primarily European companies that do business there”.


By Jean Shaoul
28 May, 2007
World Socialist Web

Bush Administration Seeks Big $$$ For New Nuclear Weapons Complex

In the nearly two decades since the end of the Cold War, the U.S. has not produced new H-bombs or felt the need to significantly modernize its nuclear arsenal. Now, the Bush administration is seeking funding for a major, costly ?upgrade? that would allow the U.S. to produce new nuclear weapons.
The administration argues the ?upgrade? is needed to make the U.S. more secure. But members of Congress from both major political parties have expressed skepticism about the need to enhance the U.S. nuclear arsenal and have questioned the $150 billion price tag. Stopping this proposal, called ?Complex 2030? for the date the upgrade would be completed, is a priority for FCNL?s legislative program in the 110th Congress.

The U.S. nuclear weapons complex is a network of facilities across the country that develop and maintain the United States? arsenal of nuclear weapons. The complex is administered by a semi-autonomous agency inside the Energy Department called the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA). Just maintaining the existing nuclear weapons complex currently costs taxpayers more than $6 billion a year.

The plan released by the NNSA this past fall calls for a complete overhaul of existing U.S. nuclear weapons facilities. Included in the proposal is the construction of a new nuclear bomb-making plant, which would give the U.S. a weapons production capability it has not had since the Rocky Flats plant in Colorado closed in 1989. If completed, the new bomb plant would annually produce 125 to 200 plutonium pits, the primary component of thermonuclear weapons.

For years since the fall of the Soviet Union, the U.S. arsenal of nearly 10,000 nuclear warheads has been viewed by the executive branch as ?reliable,? and large enough to protect the United States. (Indeed this arsenal is sufficient to kill everyone on the plant many times over.) Yet, Complex 2030 and the proposed bomb plant, for the first time in more than a decade, would result in a sharp increase in U.S. nuclear weapon production capacity. As NNSA administrator Thomas D?Agostino told a congressional committee in April 2006, Complex 2030 would return the U.S. to a ?level of capability comparable to what we had during the Cold War.?

A Program Without a Mission

Since the end of the Cold War, the U.S. nuclear weapons program has struggled to justify its existence. As former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger recently noted, ?the doctrine of mutual Soviet-American deterrence [has become] obsolete [and] reliance on nuclear weapons for this purpose is becoming increasingly hazardous and decreasingly effective.? In an op-ed published January 4 in the Wall Street Journal, Kissinger joined former Secretary of State George Schultz, former Defense Secretary William Perry, and former Senator Sam Nunn in calling for universal nuclear disarmament.

But if nuclear weapons are not needed, funding for the nuclear weapons complex would be in jeopardy. This funding represents the paychecks of weapons scientists and bomb plant production employees working at eight primary facilities located in congressional districts across the country. Members of Congress from districts where these facilities are located recognize the economic impact to local communities, and they frequently advocate for increased funding for new nuclear weapons projects.

In some cases, support for the weapons complex becomes more a matter of turning on the Treasury spigot in members? districts rather than a serious congressional evaluation of the ?merits? of nuclear weapons. As Robert Civak, a former White House budget official in the first Bush and Clinton administrations, stated, ?The weapons labs are more interested in job security than national security.?

Stop Funding Before It Gains Momentum

Frequently, when a large new federal program such as Complex 2030 is proposed, the president?s initial request is only a small portion of the program?s overall cost. Subsequent budgets call for ever larger allocations. In the case of Complex 2030, the projected cost is expected to balloon from the president?s fiscal year 2008 request of $25 million for the design phase of the new bomb plant, to an eventual final cost of $150 billion when the program is complete.

Each subsequent annual funding allocation would take the United States one step further along on the path to completion and each step makes it harder to reject the whole project. We at FCNL believe this dangerous and ill-founded program should be stopped at the starting gate. Congress has the "power of the purse? and can defund this ambitious plan before it gains momentum.

During congressional hearings on the Complex 2030 plan this past March, members expressed doubt about the viability of and need for the new complex. Many members noted the lack of a coherent national nuclear weapons policy that would be a prerequisite for such a large expansion.

As Rep. Pete Visclosky (IN), the chair of the House Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee stated, ?We are not going to begin building more nuclear bombs without a serious and open national debate on that policy question.?

other members question NNSA?s track record of project management and frequent budget overruns. Rep. David Hobson(OH), the ranking Republican on the same subcommittee noted, ?I discussed [with the Energy Department] the department?s bad habit of making very expensive commitments and then expecting Congress to fork over billions of dollars to pay the costs of these commitments, especially when they weren?t budgeted.?

Rep. Visclosky questioned how the U.S. could ask North Korea and India to stop developing nuclear weapons programs while the U.S. rebuilds its own arsenal. ?Given the United States? nuclear nonproliferation commitments around the world, our desire to stop proliferation of nuclear weapons in other countries, and the pressing need to reduce the size of the U.S. nuclear weapons complex within a believable period of time, I am disappointed that the Department of Energy and this administration has chosen to make [new nuclear weapons] its top priority,? Rep. Visclosky said.

For FCNL, these expressions of congressional caution are good news. But members of Congress still need to hear from their constituents and to be reminded by them of the unacceptable financial and moral costs of nuclear weapons.

FCNL Washington Newsletter

Sunday 27 May 2007

हम सब एक टाइम बम पर बैठे हुए हैं : अरुंधति राय

13 दिसंबर, 2001 को भारतीय संसद पर पांच शस्त्रधारी लोगों ने हमला किया. कुछ लोगों का कहना है कि ये छह थे. पांच साल बीत गये. हम अभी तक यह नहीं जानते कि आखिर ये हमलावर कौन थे. नागरिक समाज का कहना है कि पुलिस ने कानून की धज्जियां उड़ा दीं. झूठे प्रमाण इकट्ठे किये और गलत बयानबाजी की. अफजल गुरु के बयान को गैर जिम्मेवार टीवी चैनलों ने खूब प्रचारित किया. फिर भी सर्वोच्च न्यायालय ने अफजल गुरु के गुनाह स्वीकार करने की घटना को खारिज कर दिया, जिसे सभी गैर जिम्मेवार टीवी चैनलों ने खूब प्रचारित-प्रसारित किया था, जो पुलिस की विशेष शाखा ने उन्हें मुहैया करायी थी. इससे पहले दिल्ली विश्वविद्यालय के एक प्रोफेसर एसएआर गिलानी को भी झूठी साजिश में फंसाया गया था, जिसकी वजह से वे फांसी के फंदे से बाल-बाल बचे. अरुंधति राय, समाजशास्त्री रजनी कोठारी सहित प्रसिद्ध नागरिकों द्वारा मृत्युदंड का विरोध भी किया गया था. गिलानी बरी हुए. अरुंधति रॉय कहती हैं कि आज तक उन पांच या छह हमलावरों के बारे में कोई नहीं जानता है. क्या यह सब अंदर की बात है? इस साक्षात्कार में अरुंधति राय से इसी सवाल का जवाब खोजने की कोशिश की गयी है. न तो कोई जानता है और न ही स्पष्ट रूप से सिद्ध कर सकता है, क्योंकि पुलिस, जांच एजेंसियां और मीडिया सब मिल कर इस पर प्रचार और झूठ का मुलम्मा चढ़ा रहे हैं. अब कसूरवार होने के सही सबूत न मिलने पर भी साजिश के तहत अफजल गुरु को फांसी की सजा सुना दी गयी है. न्यायालय में मुकदमे की जांच के समय उसकी ओर से कोई कानूनी प्रतिनिधि नहीं था. इसलिए मुकदमे की दोबारा न्यायिक जांच की मांग की जा रही है. तो दूसरी ओर भाजपा उसे फांसी दिलाने पर तुली हुई है. मुकदमे की कानूनी जांच किये बिना आप किसी को फांसी कैसे दे सकते हैं?अरुंधति राय ने 12 दिसंबर को दिल्ली में खचाखच भरे एक आडिटोरियम में पेंगुइन द्वारा प्रकाशित एक नयी किताब 13 दिसंबर : ए रीडर. द स्ट्रेंज केस आफ़ द अटैक आन द इंडिया पार्लियामेंट का विमोचन किया. इस पुस्तक में विभिन्न विद्वानों पत्रकारों और वकीलों द्वारा लिखे गये 15 निबंध हैं, जिन्होंने उपलब्ध तथ्यों के आधार पर संसद हमले के मुद्दे पर संदेहास्पद जांच और पक्षपातपूर्ण न्यायिक प्रक्रिया के खिलाफ गंभीर प्रश्न उठाये हैं. रीडर में अरुंधति राय द्वारा लिखा गया एक इंट्रोडक्शन है. लेखकों ने यह सिद्ध कर दिया है कि संसद पर किये गये इस हमले से एक ओर पाकिस्तान से सैनिक मोरचाबंदी हुई वहीं उपमहाद्वीप में परमाणु युद्ध का खतरा हो गया. हजारों मासूमों की जानें गयीं और करोड़ों रुपये की बरबादी के बावजूद इस मामले की जांच की कोई आवश्यकता महसूस नहीं की गयी. राय ने 13 सवाल उठाये हैं जो अभी तक अनुत्तरित हैं. लेकिन सबसे बड़ा सवाल अब भी बाकी है कि क्या बिना किसी ठोस सबूत और कानूनी प्रतिनिधित्व के अफजल को फांसी दे दी जायेगी?क्या कट्टरवादी इसलामी आतंकवाद एक सच्चाई है या धोखा या फिर यह भारतीय व्यवस्था की प्रचार मशीनरी और जांच सूत्रों द्वारा बनायी गयी साजिश है?यह न तो पूरी तरह झूठ है और न ही पूरा सच. राबर्ट पेप ने अपनी पुस्तक डाइंग टू विन में बताया है कि कैसे आत्मघाती दस्ते नवउपनिवेशवाद से लड़ने में कारगर रहे हैं. जिसे हम इसलामी आतंकवाद या इसलामी कट्टरवाद जैसे खतरे के रूप में चिह्रित करते हैं, उसका मुक्ति संघर्षों में काफी बड़ा योगदान है. मुक्ति संघर्ष में लोगों को एक सूत्र में पिरोने के लिए धर्म का सहारा लेना कोई नयी बात नहीं है. कट्टरवाद का दूसरा पहलू यह है कि जब लोग खुद को एक विशेष वर्ग या धर्म से जुड़ा मानते हैं तो वे अपने में ही सिमट जाते हैं. इसका तीसरा जटिल रूप यह है कि इसलामी कट्टरवाद अब इस रूप में बदनाम हो गया है कि वे कब्जे के लिए लड़ रहे हैं. और इसलिए वे हमलावर हैं. शुरू में फ़लस्तीन में हमास के साथ हो चुका है, जिससे फ़लस्तीन मुक्ति मोरचा (पीएलओ) जैसा धर्म निरपेक्ष संगठन भी बदनाम हो गया. कश्मीर में भी यही सब हो रहा है. क्योंकि अगर वे प्रतिरोध को कुछ पागल, सनकी लोगों के रूप में जो दुनिया को ध्वस्त करने पर उतारू हैं, चित्रित कर दें तो वे युद्ध का अधिकतर हिस्सा वे जीत चुके होंगे. जो कोई भी कश्मीर में इसलामी कट्टरता की बात करता है उसे देखना चाहिए कि वहां से ज्यादा बुरका मुंबई या पुरानी दिल्ली में महिलाएं पहनती हैं. आप ग्रामीण बिहार की महिलाओं को कश्मीर की महिलाओं से ज्यादा शोषित पायेंगे. लेकिन जहां पुलिस ओर सैन्य बल जितने ही क्रूर होंगे जनता भी वैसी होगी.लश्कर-ए-तोइबा और जैश-ए-मोहम्मद जैसे इसलामी आतंकी संगठनों पर आपकी क्या राय है? मैं उनके बारे में ज्यादा नहीं जानती लेकिन इतना कह सकती हूं कि कश्मीर में इन्हें कोई आतंकी संगठन के रूप में नहीं मानता. ज्यादातर लोग इसे आजादी के संघर्ष के लिए जरूरी मानते हैं. उनके बारे में दिल्ली के लोगों की सोच और कश्मीर के लोगों की सोच में काफी अंतर है.अगर श्रीनगर में एक बम फटने से स्कूल जाते हुए बच्चे मर जाते हैं तो आपकी क्या प्रतिक्रिया होगी? बहुत भयानक. लेकिन मुझे मीडिया/प्रेस रिपोर्टों को पढ़/देख कर यह नहीं मालूम होगा कि यह सब कौन करता है. वे मिलिटेंट हो सकते हैं मगर समान रूप से वे सुरक्षा बल, पुलिस, कोई धोखेबाज या सरेंडर किया हुआ मिलिटेंट जो पुलिस के लिए काम कर रहा हो, भी हो सकता है. यह परिस्थितियों पर निर्भर करता है. सच बताना लोगों के लिए बहुत कठिन है. शायद उनसे सच उगलवाया भी नहीं जा सकता. कश्मीर ऐसी घाटी है जहां सैनिक हैं, मिलिटेंट हैं, हथियार है, गोला-बारूद है, जासूस, दोतरफा, एजेंट खुफिया एजेंसी, एनजीओ और बेहिसाब पैसा है. कुछ-से-कुछ होता रहता है वहां. सेना वहां अनाथालय और सिलाई केंद्र चला रही है. टीवी चैनल केंद्र सरकार के गृह मंत्रालय का है. ऐसे में यह बताना कठिन है कि कौन किसके लिए काम कर रहा है, कौन किसका इस्तेमाल कर रहा है. कभी-कभी लोग खुद भी यह नहीं जान पाते हैं कि वे किसके लिए काम कर रहे हैं या उन्हें किसने लगा रखा है.क्या आपको लगता है कि भारत में मुसलमानों को व्यवस्थित रूप से निशाना बनाया गया है?हां. सच्चर कमेटी की रिपोर्ट में भी तो अप्रत्यक्ष रूप से यही कहा गया है. (यह रिपोर्ट प्रधानमंत्री द्वारा नियुक्त समिति द्वारा तैयार की गयी है, जिसमें कहा गया है कि भारतीय मुसलमान देश का सबसे गरीब पिछड़ा, अशिक्षित और बदहाल समुदाय है, जिसे उच्च या मध्यमवर्गीय नौकरियों में प्रतिनिधित्व ही नहीं मिल पाया है.) गुजरात में जो हो रहा है, मानवता के खिलाफ अपराध है. भाजपा के नेतृत्व में 2002 में दक्षिणपंथी हिंदुओं द्वारा मुसलिम विरोधी नरसंहार में 2000 मुसलमानों को मौत के घाट उतार दिया गया. 1,50,000 को बेघर कर दिया गया. पुनर्वास के बजाय उन्हें पूरी तरह से उजाड़ दिया गया है और अब राज्य से भी बाहर भगाया जा रहा है. हमारी धर्मनिरपेक्ष सरकार भी चुप्पी लगाये हुए है, जिसमें वामपंथी भी शामिल हैं. 2002 की हिंसा तो सबने देखी, लेकिन यह अदृश्य फासीवादी हिंसा भी उतनी ही भयावह है. ऐसा लगता है कि मुसलमान के बारे में हम केवल यही बात करते हैं कि वह या तो पीडि़त है या आतंकवादी. मुझे लगता है कि हम सब एक टाइमबम के ऊपर बैठे हैं.क्या आपको लगता है कि 13 दिसंबर का हमला कोई साजिश का हिस्सा तो नहीं? यह इस पर निर्भर करता है कि अंदर क्या है और बाहर क्या है. मैं नहीं समझती कि हम यह कर सकते हैं. वास्तव में एक के ऊपर एक रखी परतों को खोल कर देखा जाये तो शुरू में ही सच्चाई साफ हो जाती है, जिसमें संसद, न्यायपालिका, मास मीडिया और जब निचली सतह पर कश्मीर में सुरक्षा तंत्र तक पहुंचते हैं तो एसटीएफ़, एसओजी आदि जासूसों, मुखबिरों, सरेंडर मिलिटेंटों आदि के साथ आपस में घुलमिल जाते हैं. ससंद पर हमले के मामले में भी यही खुलासा होना बाकी है. हम यह नहीं जानते हैं कि इसके पीछे कौन लोग थे. बस इतना जानते हैं कि अरेस्ट मेमो से छड़्छाड़ की गयी, जो भी कार्रवाई हुई, उसमें सबूतों और गवाहों को झूठ और दबाव का जामा पहनाया गया था और स्वीकारोक्तियां यातना के भीतर से निकलीं. क्यों? आप कोई रॉकेट वैज्ञानिक तो नहीं है कि अनुमान लगा लेंगे कि जब कोई झूठ बोलता है तो इसका मतलब है कि वह कुछ छिपा रहा है. वह क्या है है, यह हमें जानना है और इसे जानने का मुझे पूरा हक है.


अरूंधति रॉय से अमित सेनगुप्त की बातचीत

अनुवाद : जितेंद्र कुमार

http://hashiya.blogspot.com/

Congress Gives Iraq War Profiteers Another Hundred Billion

Congress has demonstrated its unconditional love for the Bush administration by handing the war profiteers another $100 billion worth of good reasons to keep the war in Iraq rolling along at full-throttle.
And today there was the President, whose only military experience consists of draft-dodging, going AWOL from a cushy stint in the National Guard set up by daddy, and finishing his term of duty as grounded fighter pilot, calling a press conference to inform Americans for the umpteenth time that the only way to the keep the terrorist at bay is by allowing the slaughtering in Iraq to continue; forever apparently.
Over the past month, the majority of political discussions on cable news talk shows related to Iraq funding bill were focused on how members of Congress and especially those who are presidential candidates are consumed with worry over how their votes on funding will affect the results of the next elections.
Once elected, it would be interesting to find out exactly how long it takes for politicians to lose the ability to feel and vote with their hearts when they know that a policy such as the Iraq war is terribly wrong, without thinking about how the decision will effect the vote tally in the next election.
As citizens, we have no control over our own government. Never in my 57 years on this earth have I been so ashamed to be an American knowing that every day that the war continues we are knowingly allowing our soldiers and innocent Iraqis to be killed or injured with absolutely no justification, other than because politicians believe it will be beneficial to their careers to allow Bush's failed war policies to continue.
While political commentators discuss voter odds, myself and probably most Americans are sitting at home unable to watch the news without breaking down crying as the latest pictures flash on the screen showing the happy faces of the young soldiers who are now dead, knowing full well that the next night there will be more pictures of dead soldiers because the politicians have made it clear that the citizens paying their salaries have no right to demand that their elected officials put an end to the killing in Iraq.
It would be interesting to take a poll to see how often each politician even looks at the smiling faces of the dead soldiers and the second question in the poll should be, for those who claim that they do look at these faces every day and still vote to give Bush more funding, how many had to use drugs or alcohol to get to sleep during the 7 days following the vote. For this poll, a high number of drugs and alcohol users would be viewed as positive because the reason for the question is to determine how many politicians still have the capacity to feel guilt.
Congress needs to get one thing straight, the war funding is not about politics, it is about more deaths and injuries every single day that ticks off the calendar all because Bush took this country into a senseless war based on lies. Every single day matters to the soldiers and their families, and to those of us who feel extremely guilty about not being able to find a away to get them out of Bush's war.
Why is there no in-depth discussion by any members of Congress on political talk shows about where these tax dollars are actually ending up, aside from an occasional flare-up of indignation about Halliburton?
There is nothing positive in Iraq to hold up to show Americans how Iraqis have benefited from all the tax dollars already poured into a bottomless pit.
The issue of war profiteering is like the elephant in the middle of the living room, every member of Congress knows where the funding is going but Americans don't hear them on talk shows letting people know that these kids are being killed in the name of war profits.
And the statements in speeches made by members of Congress while debating the bills don't mean anything because 95% of Americans never hear those speeches. Honest politicians should be out screaming to any reporter who will listen to educate Americans about where the hundreds of billions of tax dollars have ended up.
This war is 100 times worse than Viet Nam. A least with Viet Nam, the war profits were not being funneled over the backs of our dead soldiers in plain sight directly into the bank accounts of current and former members of the administrations in power at the time.
Nor were they being funneled to the family bank accounts of the Presidents who were in office during the Viet Nam war.Former Nixon administration official, John Dean, has said that the Bush administration is worse than the Nixon's. He’s right; the Bush gang makes the Nixon administration look saintly and gives a whole new meaning to Nixon's famous line of "I am not a crook." In comparison to the actions of the current regime, it could indeed be said that Mr Nixon was not a crook.
Its easy to understand why most Republicans are not about to tell the world that the leader of their party is a war profiteering crook but the question remains, when are Democrats going to start addressing the issue of who is benefiting from all this war funding and start publicly naming names along with the companies they are connected with.
They have the ability to draw press coverage and give the specific names of current and former administration officials and Bush family members who have set up companies to profit off the war or steered contracts to companies they now work.
Last year, most clearly in the fall elections, Americans told Bush and Congress to get our troops out of Iraq. Democrats took control of Congress at the new year, and there was Bush in a televised address on January 10, 2007, announcing that he had ordered the deployment of five more combat brigades to serve as sitting ducks in Iraq, in addition to the 15 brigades that were already there. Since then, he has extended combat tours from 12 months to 15 months and announced the deployment of still more troops.
According to an analysis by Hearst Newspapers, when support troops are added in, the total number of soldiers in Iraq is about 162,000, and could be 200,000 by Christmas.
In the years to come, the history books will describe the Bush Presidency and the details of a grand war profiteering scheme nicknamed the "war on terror," and with that in mind, members of Congress would be wise to start speaking out against the war profiteers to make damn sure that the historians will be able to report that that they were out there calling a spade a spade and trying to put an end to the death for profit disaster in Iraq.
One commentator on a recent cable talk show made the statement that when voting on the Iraq funding; politicians are not in lock step with how strongly Americans feel about ending this war. That comment was an understatement, because Americans are as fed up with politicians debating over the money as much as they are with the war itself.
Members of Congress and the Presidential candidates should quit trying to second guess how American will vote in the next election and think about how much longer they are going to be willing to sit at home in front of their television sets depressed and driven to tears by looking at flashes of the happy faces of soldiers who were killed that day.
As for presidential candidates, the name John Murtha should be added to the ballot, as he seems to be about the only member of Congress willing to go public and speak from the heart when trying to get the rest of Congress to recognize the need for an immediate plan to rescue our young men and women stranded in Iraq.
The candidates that are working hard to try to end the war get little credit or media coverage. Dennis Kucinich is rarely mentioned and he is working tirelessly to come up with ways to get our soldiers out of Iraq.
By the time the 2008 election rolls around, who knows, after weighing the few options available maybe Americans will decide that no candidate who is a current member of Congress and refused to listen to the people on such an important issue as the Iraq war can be trusted to serve as President.


By Evelyn Pringle

mailto:evelyn-pringle@sbcglobal.net(Evelyn Pringle is a columnist for OpEd News and an investigative journalist focused on corruption in government and corporate America)

Friday 25 May 2007

Is Contract Farming Really the Solution for Indian Agriculture?

Contract farming is increasingly being presented as a solution for the problems of Indian agriculture, by major international donor agencies, multinational companies and even the government. It is argued that private sector participation will be promoted through contract farming and land leasing arrangements will allow accelerated technology transfer, capital inflow and assured markets for crop production, especially of oilseeds, cotton and horticultural crops.

The UPA government’s Approach Paper to the Eleventh Plan gave priority to the development of contract farming. Now, a Working Group set up by the National Development Council, under the leadership of then Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, has also made a set of proposals to promote contract farming. In addition to suggesting greater liberalisation of laws and rules for crop contracts, it has proposed tax rebates for food processing, duty-free imports of machinery and equipment, exemption of market fees, etc., and liberalised imports of seed varieties for contract farming programmes.

Contract farming is defined as a system for the production and supply of agricultural or horticultural products under forward contracts between producers/suppliers and buyers. The essence of such an arrangement is the commitment of the cultivator to provide an agricultural commodity of a certain type, at a time and a price, and in the quantity required by a known and committed buyer, typically a large company.

According to the contract, the farmer is required to plant the contractor’s crop on his land, and to harvest and deliver to the contractor a certain amount of produce, based upon anticipated yield and contracted acreage. This could be at a pre-agreed price, but need not always be so. The typical contract is one in which the contractor supplies all the material inputs and technical advice required for cultivation, while the farmer supplies land and labour.

This system has old historical resonances, such as the infamous contracts enforced by indigo planters in eastern India during the early colonial period. But the more recent pattern of contract farming has been developed especially in the United States, where corporate penetration of agriculture is probably the most advanced. Agricultural trade globally is dominated by transnational corporations, like Cargill, Archer Daniels Midland and Monsanto, which are increasingly involved at each stage of the agriculture system. These corporations achieve domination over the market through a combination of horizontal and vertical integration.

This has increased the margins for the procuring and processing firms while at the same time reducing farm incomes and increasing the prices for the consumers. This explains the rising spread between retail prices and the prices received by farmers and livestock breeders, which has been so marked in the US over the past two decades. It is not generally known that US farmers have not really gained from the continuing government subsidies to agriculture - instead large agribusinesses have made huge and increased profits.

US farmers are financially and politically much stronger than Indian cultivators, many of whom are already operating at the margin of subsistence. So it is important to be fully aware of the implications and the need for adequate regulation of contracts.

The recent spate of contract farming in India effectively began with the entry of Pepsi Foods Ltd (PepsiCo) in 1989 by installing a tomato processing plant in Hoshiarpur, Punjab. PepsiCo followed a method whereby the cultivator plants the company’s crops on his land, and the company provides selected inputs like seeds/saplings, agricultural practices, and regular inspection of the crop and advisory services on crop management.

Subsequently PepsiCo and other companies have used similar methods for the cultivation of food grains (Basmati rice), spices (chillies) and oilseeds (groundnut) as well, apart from other vegetable crops such as potato. Until recently, this model of contract farming was considered a success in terms of diversifying cultivation in Punjab and improving the incomes of farmers.

The Punjab government has argued that contract farming is the best means of crop diversification, in a region where there is a real question of ecological survival and sustaining natural resources like water and soil in a reasonably healthy state. However, since contract farming is based on private corporate interests that are inherently profit-driven, there is no reason why these should coincide with the ecological requirements of the region.

Indeed, much of the recent corporate interest in Punjab agriculture has been in basmati farming, which is one of the great water-guzzlers. Crop diversification can be more effectively encouraged through a system of changing the relative prices of crops accompanied by a supportive system of public agricultural extension services.

Farmers in Punjab have become increasingly resentful of a system that has put them under the total control of corporations, which will decide not only the crops grown but also the procurement price. The growing incidents of the pre-determined prices being reduced on the pretext of inferior quality of the grain or crop, have added to such resentment. The issue has became so critical, that several times in recent years, the state government agency that had designed the contract farming programme in the first place (Punjab Agro Foodgrains Corporation) has been forced to step in and buy basmati rice that was being rejected by the contracting companies.

Contract farming in Punjab has certainly led to more employment opportunities for some labour, since the labour intensity of most vegetable crops, except potato, is much higher than for traditional crops like wheat or paddy. However, wage levels have been pushed to subsistence levels by increased competition for work through migration. Also, male labour is being displaced by mechanisation while lower-paid women and children are increasingly employed for the more labour-intensive activities. The problem of finding alternative employment for displaced cultivators has become a serious concern.

The Punjab experience is generally considered to be among the more successful in India thus far, but even this shows that contract farming holds numerous problems for agriculture in developing countries like India. It tends to displace labour quite substantially; marginalises the direct cultivators who lose control over the production process and often even over their land; encourages more capital-intensive and often less sustainable patterns of cultivation; can result in greater insecurity and lower incomes for farmers because of use of quality measures to lower the effective output price being paid by contractors; can even deny farmers the benefits of higher prices which could be instead absorbed by corporate contractors with local monopsonistic power; propagates monoculture which reduces food security and the possibility of livelihood diversification through livestock; relies excessively on the use of lower paid women workers and child labour; and increases and accelerates the process of casualisation of labour.

Given these evident problems, why is contract farming still being promoted so assiduously? This is really because public institutions have failed to provide farmers with the essential protection and support required for viability on a sustained basis. What cultivators in rural India need most of all today is the following combination: a basic price support mechanism that ensures that costs are covered; efficient extension services that provide information about possible crops, new inputs and their implications and new agricultural practices relevant for the particular area; and the availability of reliable and assured credit at reasonable rates of interest.

By Jayati Ghosh

Thursday 24 May 2007

Scuttling the law, officials evict tribals

On 19 April, in the remote Ghateha village in the Rewa district of Madhya Pradesh, located on the M.P.-Uttar Pradesh Border, a large contingent of M.P. police and forest departments descended on some 1,500 landless tribal families who had settled on a stretch of some 1,000 acres of land near the village and evicted them using firing and tear gas. Four police personnel were injured, while six tribal settlers are reported by local people's groups to have been hit by bullets. Most of the tribal families evicted from the land are reported to be absconding for fear of police persecution, and the injured are out of reach of medical assistance for the same reason.

Dubasia Devi, with the injury above her left knee, taken ten days after the eviction. She was rammed with the end of a stick, and has received no medical attention. Pic: Aparna Pallavi.

Different and contradictory 'versions' of the incident are in the air. In the initial days after the incident, local media reports quoted the police as saying that the evicted people were naxals, and this version has now been withdrawn. While the state police and forest departments now maintain that it is a case of fresh encroachment on forest land, people's groups and also some elected representatives have questioned the very status of this land, and by extension, the locus standi of the forest department on clearing encroachments. This, on land which is still in a state of dispute between the state forest and revenue departments.

The local group Birsa Munda Bhumi Adhikar Manch and activists of the National Forum of Forest People and Forest Workers have claimed that the settlers have been on this land since 2003, which makes them eligible for encroachment regularisation under the new Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act 2006. The local forest officials have denied this latter point, stating that the settlers had moved on the land only a month back. The Principal Chief Conservator of Forests V R Khare, meanwhile, has taken a 'middle of the road' position. He has been quoted in The Hindu as saying that the tribals had made attempts to settle on this land repeatedly in the last four years, and had been removed several times.

Whose land is it?

To be called forest land, a piece of land has to be notified under sections 20 and 29 of the Indian Forest Act, which pertains to reserved and protected forests respectively.
Revenue land is land located within the boundaries of a village, and is governed by reveue laws.


The first question to be raised in this case is on the status of the land itself. I talked with Anil Garg, a well known expert on forest affairs in M.P. The position of village Ghateha is somewhat unique. On 12 July 1974, 2512 forest villages all over Madhya Pradesh were denotified and given revenue status. The denotification work has not yet been completed, as 294 villages in the state are still awaiting denotification, of which Ghateha is one. All the land around the Ghateha village has been denotified. What is more, demarcation of land and updating of records in the forest and revenue departments has still not been done, and disputes between the two are common.

Going further back, at the time of Independence, the area of which Ghateha village is a part was registered as revenue land. But in 1961, the Forest Department notified this land under the Indian Forest Act 1927, and even this notification process has not been completed! According to Garg, "The notification itself has been done in an arbitrary manner, in violation of the people's traditional and customary rights." Garg's reasoning is that much of the land thus notified did not, and still does not, have any forest cover. It was mostly village commons which were notified. The land in and around Ghateha falls under this category.

Now the question is, given this mess surrounding the status of the land, does the forest department have the right to evict people?

The land demarcation situation in the state had first been raised in the state Assembly by MLA Jamuna Devi (Pukshi, Dhar district) in March 2004. Following this, in July 2004, the government issued an order to the forest and revenue departments to update their records and complete demarcation in accordance with the denotifications. That was not done, and has not been, till date.

On 7 November 2006, M.P. forest minister Himmat Kothari had declared in the state Assembly that no evictions will be carried out till the records have been updated according to denotifications. On 24 February 2007 the state chief minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan himself had said in the Assembly that tribals will not be evicted from those lands. The eviction drive at Ghateha clearly violates all these injunctions.

Nature of encroachment

There is a marked difference in the way forest officials at different levels have defined the encroachment. While local police officials have maintained that the encroachment happened on 16 March 2007 before which the tribal settlers had never been in the area, the state PCCF V R Khare has said that the said land "cleared of encroachments over the last three-four years, was encroached upon again."

Interestingly, the statements of the tribal settlers and local activists establish a link between both versions. Says Dubasia Devi Advasi, who was injured during the 19 April incident, "We had gone to live on the land four years back. Every year we tried to cultivate the land but could not due to drought. Left with no livelihood option, we were forced to migrate for work. Every year when we left, the forest officials and the 'Thakur-Bamans' (powerful local upper-caste people) would come and demolish our dwellings."

The remains of a dwelling after the 19 April eviction. Since the dwellings were reconstructed recently, they were already pretty fragile and insubstantial. Pic: Aparna Pallavi.

Matadayal, 45, of the National Forum of Forest People and Forest Workers (NFFPFW), who had been working closely with the local organisation Birsa Munda Bhumi Adhikar Manch, (BMBAM) says that the tribals had been repeatedly demanding land allotments from the government since 1965. He notes that a few years back some people had been issued pattas of land in the Charnoi Bhoom area of the tehsil, and had even paid hefty sums for the papers, but they were not given possession. "Lacking any other source of livelihood, these people decided to settle on this piece of land. But since they were being repeatedly uprooted by an upper-caste-forest-department nexus, this year at a meeting of the BMBAM it was decided to occupy the land formally. Accordingly we staged a rally and occupied the land on March 15-16," says Matadayal. Matadayal comes from the kol community which has tribal status in the state, but socially kols are treated as dalits.

Manner and timing of attack

Whatever the nature of the encroachment, one thing is clear. According to the tribal settlers and local activists, no eviction notice had been issued to the settlers before the action of 19 April. No offences had been registered against them under Sections 26 and 32 ? pertaining to reserved and protected forests respectively ? of the Indian Forest Act, nor was any show-cause notice issued under Section 80 A ? which deals exclusively with M.P.

"All we received from the officials was threats," says Dadulal Adivasi (kol), a local leader among the settlers. According to Dadulal, the forest officials visited the settlement many times between 16 March and 19 April, but all they did was to threaten and coax the people to leave. On 18 March they even staged an abortive eviction attempt, and on 5 April, eight people were arrested. At the time of writing, they are still in custody. Eight more people were arrested on 19 April.

No eviction notice had been issued to the settlers before the action of 19 April.

No offences had been registered against them under Sections 26 and 32 ? pertaining to reserved and protected forests respectively ? of the Indian Forest Act.

Nor was any show-cause notice issued under Section 80 A ? which deals exclusively with M.P.


• Rights denuded in wordy forest
• Nandigram, atrocity on dalits


"The attack of 19 April was sudden and illegal," says Munnilal, convener, NFFPFW. When contacted, the Rewa Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) Ashish Verma refused to comment on the plea that he was "not authorised" to make comments. Rewa Superintendent of Police Ravi K Gupta, from whom the DFO had requisitioned police force for the 19 April eviction, said, "We received a written requisition and supplied the force. It is not our job to check on other departments unless specially instructed to do so."

Even the Rewa collector D P Ahuja was evasive on the question of whether proper legal procedures were followed in the eviction drive. "The FD had issued a POR (primary offence report)," he said. "People had been arrested and challans were issued." Specific questions on procedural issues drew a blank.

Scuttling official procedures

The way the attack was timed is also significant. Just one day before the attack, a group of activists and tribal settlers, led by Samajwadi Party MLA K K Singh (Sidhi, M.P.) had met collector Ahuja. "We pointed out to him the disputed status of the land and other legal facts. We acquainted him with the Forest Rights Act, under which no evictions have till date been ordered," said Singh. According to Singh, the collector had assured that no action will be taken, and asked the group to file an application to this effect.

"Actually we were preparing to file a formal application on the 19th, when the attack happened," he says, "The first point I want cleared is why the attack happened on 19th, when we had already had a talk with the collector and were preparing to carry out official procedures," asks Singh.

Interestingly, when I asked collector Ahuja to respond, he first that the 18 April meeting was not about Ghateha village. But after I cross-checked with Singh and informed Ahuja that the MLA was planning to bring an insubordination notice against him in the Assembly, the latter became defensive and refused to talk.

Another fact that emerges from talks with the tribal settlers is that the meeting of the gramsabha of Ghateha village was scheduled for 21 April. Says Dadulal, "We had prepared to move a gram sabha resolution to allow the settlers to stay (the Forest Rights Act gives the gram sabha the power to initiate the process of nominating beneficiaries in the process of determining rights), but the attack happened before we could take these measures."

"It is very clear that the forest department was going out of its way to ensure that the tribal people did not get a single chance to consolidate their position legally," says Singh, "Not only did they violate procedures themselves, they also attacked without giving the tribals a fair chance to defend themselves."

Why the haste?

Finally, the most important question in the entire case ? why did the forest Department have to go to such lengths to carry out an eviction that is illegal on so many counts? Different sources point to a single, very disturbing answer.

"The dominant caste people in the village did not want these settlers," says a low-caste man who lives on the outskirts of the village, on condition of anonymity, "The Thakurs and Bamans had an interest in the grass that grows naturally on this land. Dada Pathak and Shankar Pathak from the village had a contract to supply the grass to the military farm in Bargadh (nearby village)." The grass is used as fodder for horses of the military.

Ramesh Shukla of the NFFPFW confirms this. "These contracts for grass are worth lakhs of rupees and are dominated by the upper caste people in the village. Tribal settlers who faced the attack allege that the Thakurs and Brahmins of Ghateha and neigbouring villages were behind the ranks of the police when the attack happened. "They were firing charras (gun pellets) at us," says Chandramani Devi Advasi, "In a village where I was hiding, I saw a boy hit by a pellet on his head. Tell me, do the police fire charras? It was those Thakurs and Bamans."

While vehemently denying these reports, collector Ahuja unwittingly dropped a hint that the eviction did have something to do with the local dominant people. "You see," he said, "the new Act does not give any rights to the forest department, only to the gram panchayat. These people (the tribal settlers) had antagonised the local panchayat." (The Ghateha panchayat is dominated by the upper caste people.) Asked if that was the reason for the eviction, he evaded an answer.

So is the forest department acting merely as another tool to perpetuate the feudal system of upper-caste control of resources that has been a feature of these areas for centuries? Officials appear to have instinctive sympathy for the dominant class. This was borne out when I asked SP Ravi K Gupta about an incident of a bomb found in the settlement on 9 April. "Oh, it was an innocent brahmin man," he said, "The tribals had caught him and forced bombs into his hands." It was only after being pressed for clarifications that he admitted that this was the allegation of the upper caste residents of Ghateha and that he had himself not verified the allegation.

Today..

As of now, the situation in Ghateha continues to be tense. For several days after the attack, the police and forest forces maintained siege of the disputed land, making it impossible for people to return to their homes. Injured and starving tribals, who had run into forests for cover at the time of attack, are hiding in terror. The entire tehsil of Tyonthar appears to be wrapped in an eerie silence. People are especially terrorised because riot charges have been slapped against 600 people, and under this, just about anyone can be picked up.

It was with great difficulty, after searching village after village for two whole days that I managed to speak to a few tribal settlers who have survived the attack. "For three days after the attack we hid in the forests with no food or water," says Dubasia Devi, "There were children with us too. After that we realised that we would starve. So we moved out in search of quarry work, as it is impossible for us to go home." Says Ramesh Shukla, "We have managed to locate some injured people, and they are in dire need of medical help. But they are unwilling to be hospitalised for fear of the police."

"Villagers told me that they (the police) have been making inquiries in my home in Saroi village every day. They are terrorising our families," says Ramgarib Kol, who has joined some stone quarry workers in another village."

Ironically, the police, while terrorising people into hiding on the one hand, is also using this fact against the people and their organisations. "The police are challenging us to produce the injured in full knowledge that their own activities are preventing people from coming out," says Shukla.

"We do not know where our people are, whether they are alive or dead," says Munni Devi, whose family is among the missing, "The forest department and the zamindars are out to destroy us. We do not know for how much longer we can stand this." ⊕


By Aparna Pallavi

(Aparna Pallavi is a journalist based in Nagpur, and writes on development issues.)

Pakistan on a perilous path

The recent developments in Pakistan force a person of ordinary prudence to conclude that Islamabad's role in the war against terror has been a farce that has strengthened the religious bigots while it has weakened civil society. 'Talibanisation' used to be Pakistan's 'export quality' product before 9/11. Now it is a domestic product.

In the heart of Islamabad, a Kandahar has come up in the form of Lal Masjid; a Mullah Omar in the form of Lal Masjid's prayer leader Maulana Abdul Aziz; a Mullah Dadullah in the form of Lal Masjid's deputy prayer leader Maulana Abdur Rashid; and a Ministry for Vice and Virtue in the form of the baton-wielding force of the Jamia Hafsa and the Jamia Faridya, consisting of thousands of its male and female fidayeen.

Maulana Abdul Aziz rose to prominence when women members of the Lal Masjid raided the house of Mrs Shahim and abducted her along with her daughter-in-law and the latter's child. The Lal Masjid accused Mrs Shahim of running a brothel and obtained a confession through coercion after which she was made to repent in front of the media. Shahim has now left Islamabad fearing for her life. So by scaring women Abdul Aziz came to prominence.

The Lal Masjid is 'Islamacising' Islamabad by attacking music shops and burning CDs. They have threatened to throw acid on the faces of women who don't wear a full burqa. Aziz has labelled the Quaid-e-Azam University as a "hub of prostitutes" declaring co-education an evil. He has issued an edict of hadd against Nilofar Bakhtiar, a staunch supporter of Pervez Musharraf who quit as Tourism Minister this week, for hugging a paraglider instructor. Abdur Rashid loves to talk to the media, crank out statements and write columns in jehadi publications to justify the Talibanisation drive.

The Talibanisation drive is not confined to Islamabad. A girls' school at Mardan received threats that it would be destroyed if the students did not wear burqas. The Taliban of Peshawar have threatened to bomb the Khyber Medical College if the administration did not impose the burqa on its female students. Female parliamentarians of the Jamat Islami have introduced a bill in the NWFP assembly that seeks a ban on using women as models in TV commercials and print ads. The Taliban of Bajaur (one of the agencies in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas [Fata]) has closed down music shops and instructed barbers not to shave the beards of their customers. The list of places under 'reconstruction' goes on.

Making Pakistan a 'true democracy' is a claim that Musharraf makes passionately, addressing public rallies and urging people to vote for his party, the Pakistan Muslim League (Q). The truth is he is hell-bent on being elected as President for another five years and remain army chief. The Constitution that he has amended states that the President of Pakistan cannot keep any other office of profit or such an office that entitles him to remuneration. And then he blames suspended Chief Justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Chaudhry for proclaiming that such practices are undemocratic. It doesn't make sense. Instead State power is brutally unleashed against the public to stop it from expressing its sympathy for Chaudhry.

The protests against Musharraf are becoming violent. He has failed to curb terrorism and extremism and to improve the general law and order situation in Pakistan. He will have to proceed swiftly on at least two issues: the Talibanisation spree of the Lal Masjid and the growing public support for the Chief Justice. Musharraf has been expressing his inability to move against the Lal Masjid saying that doing so will disturb the law and order in Pakistan and the country will be in the grip of suicide attacks. If Musharraf does not tackle the Lal Masjid, the Americans might do it sooner or later.

On the Chief Justice issue, Musharraf could help himself by distancing himself from the 'wrong kind of sycophants' and by dropping the idea of imposing Emergency. Some of his 'right kind of sycophants' are advising him to withdraw the reference against Chaudhry. Moreover, he should also drop the idea of seeking re-election from Parliament. He should step down both as the army chief as well as President. The US should also know that as long as it continues to support dictators, it will be strengthening terrorists and extremists, because the agenda of both is the same — jehad.


By Mohammad Shehzad
Mohammad Shehzad is a journalist based in Islamabad

Understanding 1857

THE Revolt of 1857 had as its opponent what was the largest colonial power of the world. It has, therefore, a notable place in the history of Imperialism, and no study of the Revolt can be separated from that of the emergence and internal mechanics of Imperialism. In a letter (27 October 1890) to Conrad Schmidt, Engels noted that while colonial powers before 1800 aspired to capture sources of imports at the lowest cost, thereafter following the Industrial Revolution, they essentially sought markets for their own industrial manufacturers. In respect to India, Marx (New York Daily Tribune, 11 July 1853) dated the change to 1813, when the Charter Act threw Indian markets open to British manufactures by abolishing the East India Company's commercial monopoly. The results of this invasion of 'Free Trade' for India's own artisanal manufactures were disastrous. In Capital, I, (ed. Dona Torr, p.461), Marx noted that after 1833, there came about "the wholesale extinction of Indian handloom weavers", amounting to a "destruction of the human race." It must be remembered that this new source of misery was in addition to the increasing burden of 'Tribute', extracted by Britain through excessive over-taxation of the country. Marx had seen in such Tribute a special source of primitive accumulation for British capital; and this too was, therefore, an inseparable element of the new regime of Free Trade, how much individual Free Traders like Bright may have criticised it.



Not only was 'Free Trade' a vehicle for the conquest of external markets by British capitalism, a new impetus was now given to world-wide expansion of British power, so as to impose 'Free Trade' on the whole world. 'Imperialism of Free Trade' is how this new aggressive stage in British colonialism has been described by British historians, J. Gallagher and R. Robinson in an essay of this title (1953). Marx himself had never believed in the sincerity of the 'peace cant' of the British Free Traders (Tribune, 11 July 1853) and spoke specifically of the military means that were adopted for "securing the monopoly of the Indian market to the Manchester Free Traders". (Tribune, 30 April 1859).



The expansion of British power, both world-wide and within the Indian subcontinent imposed a still further burden on India: Annexations of princely states came one after another: Sind, Punjab, Nagpur, Satara, Jhansi, Awadh, all went into Britain's grasp between 1844 and 1856. In each state large sections from courtiers to common people lost their means of livelihood. Payment had to be made in blood as well. The Bengal Army became a major instrument that was put to use for fulfilling the sub-continental and global ambitions of British imperialism. The bones of thousands of its Sepoys lay scattered in the fields of Afghanistan, Sind, Punjab, Burma, Crimea and China, and no end to the blood-letting was in sight when the storm burst over the greased cartridges in 1857.



We can thus see in 1857 a critical juncture in the history of emerging Imperialism: the pressures it relentlessly exerted on the largest colony in the world, provoked, finally, an anti-colonial outbreak, unique for its scale in the whole of the nineteenth century. The rebellion pitted against the colonial regime over 120,000 trained professional soldiers from the Bengal Army, the most modern army east of Suez, with tens of thousands of other armed rebels, reinforcing and aiding them. In terms of the area affected, nearly a fourth of the population of British India (some five crores of people) passed under rebel control.



That the Revolt of 1857 had its roots in the pressures exerted on India by the Imperialism of Free Trade can hardly be denied; but the depth and breadth of the upheaval also raises the question of the classes and groups that became involved in it, and of their grievances and aspirations.
In his Discovery of India (1946) Jawaharlal Nehru wrote most feelingly about the slaughter and suffering imposed on the people of India by the British during and after the Revolt; and he compared the 'racialism' exhibited by the British to that of Hitler. Yet he simultaneously believed that the uprising was essentially "a feudal outburst, headed by the feudal chiefs and their followers, and aided by the widespread anti-foreign sentiment" (p.324). Nehru repeats this characterisation at the end of his account of the rebellion as well (p.328: "essentially a feudal uprising, though there were some nationalistic elements in it").



Such characterisation, though perhaps natural with the limited amount of evidence available on 1857 at the time Nehru was writing, needs now to be reconsidered.



In the first place, the perception inexplicably overlooks the role of the Bengal Army sepoys. Coming largely from peasant and small land-owing families, they had been drilled and trained in modern warfare and, often themselves literate, were attuned to the mode of British administration with its committees and councils. They had thus no "feudal" attachments that we can think of. Yet, they remained from the beginning to the end, the firmest single component among the ranks of the Rebels. During the rebellion, they asserted their 'democratic' attitude by electing their officers (with, often enough, largely Hindu regiments electing Muslims, and vice versa). They formed 'councils' to govern their affairs, and in Delhi established the famous 'Court of Administration.' If their officers gave themselves designations, they were those of a modern army; such as "Captains", "Colonels" and "Generals"!



Another class, which we tend to overlook, is that of the educated in the towns, who were increasingly affected by modern ideas. While it is true that there was nothing comparable to the Bengal Renaissance in the Hindustani-speaking zone, at both Delhi and Agra colleges had been established, imparting modern education. In People's Democracy (April 23-29), Shireen Moosvi has given an account of weekly newspapers coming out in Delhi during the time it was held by the rebels (May-September 1857). Her account shows clearly that the rebel newspapers addressed themselves to people at large, and were not mere Mughal court bulletins.



Let us take a cursory view of the Delhi Urdu Akhbar (June 21,1857), where under the heading "Seize this Opportunity", it tells its readers that the English had been depriving India of its wealth, by taking it away to England, and remarks upon how the new rebel administration, as it extended its control over "districts" would open opportunities for men of "education and capacity." It calls upon the scions of the old aristocracy to leave their ways of idleness and take to various trades and crafts. It especially commends the ironsmiths who were manufacturing "rifles, English guns and Turkish pistols." Its appeal to Hindus and Muslims to fight the English does, indeed, make use of the slogan of saving both religions from the onslaught of the alien English, but it increasingly shifts to patriotic sentiments, addressing "fellow countrymen" and glorying in the exploits of "the Indian Army" (Fauj-i-Hindustani). Modern methods of propaganda were also employed: a pamphlet containing an appeal to Hindus and Muslims was separately printed to be sold at a quarter Rupee per copy (issues of 5 and 12 July). Interestingly, the paper's hero consistently is not any of the Mughal princes, but the brusque "republican" sepoy leader, the Commander-in-Chief, "General" Bakht Khan. Clearly, the weekly's readership consists not just of the dependants of the Mughal court, but also a much larger educated population, which was being invited to support the rebel cause by enticing vistas of what they would gain from an Indian (not necessarily, a mere Royal) regime. The general slaughter by way of retribution carried out by the English in Delhi after its fall in September proved that in English eyes the rebel appeals to the Delhi citizenry for support had not fallen on deaf ears.



Beyond the educated class, there were the artisans whose callings the Delhi Urdu Akhbar in its issue of 21 June had so much commended. These included many who had lost their employment owing to the competition of British manufactures, especially textiles. Firuz Shah, the famous rebel leader, in his Proclamation of August 25, 1857 - which reads surprisingly like a modern political party's programme - makes a special promise of giving employment to the weavers and other kinds of artisans rendered unemployed by English importations. Such artisans formed another class that turned out to be strongly sympathetic to the rebellion. Syed Ahmad Khan then a British agent, in his contemporary memoir of the Revolt in district Bijnor (Sarkashi-i-zila' Bijnor) speaks sneeringly of how the sepoys and professional soldiers of the local rebel leader, Mahmud Khan were reinforced by "cotton-carders and weavers, who had hitherto handled only yarn, and never a sword."



While we are discussing the outlook of the rebel press at Delhi, it may be mentioned that none of the extant issues of the three weekly newspapers display the slightest sign of Wahabi influence. Iqtidar Alam Khan's critique of the theory of a large Wahabi role in 1857 is going to be published in a subsequent issue, so more need not be said here about it. The practical absence of theocratic influence on rebel leaders, despite the constant cry of religion in danger is, indeed, remarkable.



As for peasant support for the rebellion this became so immediately apparent that already in his article in the Tribune (16 September 1857), Marx was drawing a comparison between the Indian Revolt and the French Revolution of 1789, on this, very basis. The peasants were hard-pressed by the Mahalwari system of land-tax (a consequence of the British pressure for Tribute), and the Revolt gave them an opportunity to throw off the tax-collector. The late Eric Stokes deserves much gratitude for his detailed studies of peasant participation in the Revolt. To him is owed the telling quotation from the report of Mark Thornhill (15 November 1858), where that official held "the agricultural labouring class", i.e. peasants, rather than "the large proprietors", as having been "the most hostile" to the continuance of British rule during the Revolt.



That large numbers of zamindars, the bulk of Oudh taluqdars and some princely courts threw their lot with the Rebels is, on the other hand, quite undeniable; and Talmiz Khaldun's suggestion that the 1857 Revolt was developing into "a peasant [and, therefore, anti-feudal] war against indigenous landlordism and foreign-imperialism" was rightly contested by P.C. Joshi in whose centenary volume on 1857 the essay had appeared. Much of the visible rebel leadership came from these elements: the reluctant Bahadur Shah Zafar, Nana Sahib and Tantia Topi, Hazarat Mahal and her entourage, Khan Bahadur Khan of Bareilly, Lakshmi Bai of Jhansi, and Kunwar Singh and Amar Singh of Jagdishpur, all came from what one can conveniently characterise as feudal classes. Most of them had their own grievances, over lost rights or rebuffed claims. But it needs to be borne in mind that resistance and struggle, in which support had more and more widely to be sought from among the common people, could not but force fundamental changes of outlook. One may look, for instance at two proclamations of Birjis Qadr, whom the rebels declared to be the ruler of Awadh. The first was the proclamation of Rebel Rule at Lucknow, printed in Urdu and Hindi side by side, and issued in June 1857. Addressed to the "Zamindars and the Common People of this Country" it blames the English for their attack on the religion of both Hindus and Muslims, on their seizures of land, and on their disregard of the dignity of the higher classes by treating them at par with the meanest! There is no explicit reference to India, in the main text and, quite clearly, the interests of the landed aristocracy are given primacy. Contrast this with the last appeal to the Indian people in reply to Queen Victoria's Proclamation of November 1858. In this Appeal issued on behalf of Birjis Qadr, India (Hindustan) is in the forefront. The story is briefly narrated of how the British by force and fraud have acquired territory after territory in India from Tipu's Mysore to Dulip Singh's Panjab. The rebels are not to believe in Victoria's honeyed words, but to continue the struggle. Victoria's Proclamation shows, it asserts, that if British rule continues, Indians would remain mere hewers of wood and drawers of water. The petty matters, such as the loss of hierarchical dignity, are here quietly forgotten.



One must recognize that the overall historical orientation of the 1857 Revolt cannot be established in definitive terms for the simple reason that, because of its ruthless suppression, there is no way of knowing how it would have developed should success have come its way. But some preliminary suggestions can still be made.



Given the crucial role of the Bengal Army sepoys in initiating and carrying the Revolt forward, the Revolt at least drew on one element of the 'regenerative' process, that Marx had spoken of, in his seminal articles of 1853 on British rule. The Sepoys did not at all belong to the old world of princes and landlords. Significant also are the early traces of modern ideas and perceptions that we see in rebel journalism of Delhi and certain proclamations of the rebels. The fact that these modern or quasi-modern elements could make common cause with princely courts, zamindars, unemployed artisans and overtaxed peasants was due to a particular combination of circumstances created partly by that transformation of colonialism itself, with a discussion of which this essay had opened. To characterise the revolt as either "feudal" or "bourgeois" would be unhistorical. The time for one was past, the time for the other had not come. Such discussions have their place in attempting any understanding of how 1857 came about. But what cannot be disputed is either the sheer patriotism of so many, whatever class they came from, or their undying defiance in the face of so brutal and ferocious a retribution as the English visited upon them. The memory of the Rebels' sacrifices in what they believed so ardently to be the cause of their country will remain ever green in our people's memory -- so long, as the royal poet of 1857 said, as "the country of India endures.


By Irfan Habib