Friday, July 27, 2007


*BY **M. Burhanuddin Qasmi*,* *

August 2007, the 60th anniversary of India's freedom, we undivided Indians will celebrate it with proud and all possible glitters. That's alright! But remember, what our history is telling about freedom struggle is not all-- there are pages deliberately forgotten, dusted with prejudiced and narrowness or completely removed from our history books. A part of this argument was carried by Eastern Crescent (May issue), '150 years: The first war of India's independence' which discussed some pages of untold history from 1757 to 1857. And concluded with establishment of Darul Uloom Deoband in 1866 after defeat, heavy lose of lives of freedom fighters in the 1857's united war of independence to continue with the freedom struggle. The discussion below is continuation of the same argument in chronology.

In 1877, *Shaikhul Hind *Maulana Mahmoodul Hasan, the first student of Darul Uloom Deoband, set up an Organisation called *'Samratut Tarbiyat' *(result of the training). *(Tahreek-e Shaikul Hind 61)* The aim of the organization was to prepare for armed insurrection against the British. The movement continued for at least 30 years. With Maulana Mohammad Qasmi Nanotwi's demise in 1880 and the lacunas in organizational set up, appeared to be an obstacle for the desired goal, the movement was abandoned. *(Aseeran-e Malta 23)* In 1909, *Shaikhul Hind* Maulana Mahmoodul Hasan re-organized his * Fidayeen* (devotees) under a new banner* 'Jamiatul Ansaar'*. Maulana Obaidullah Sindhi had been called to Deoband to take charge of secretariat of this new organization *(personal Dairy of Obaidullah Sindhi 20).*

The first introduction of the Jamiatul Ansar was made at the annual function of Darul Uloom Deoband in 1911. Before 30 thousand distinguished Ulama from around undivided India and out side, the Jamiat declared its aims and objectives and the reason as to why it was necessary to struggle for the freedom of the country. Buoyed by the successful launching and the support that it elicited from the masses, Jamiatul Ansaar organized its first rally at Moradabad town in April 1911. Participants from Aligarh, Nadwatul Ulama Lucknow and Deoband gathered in large numbers. In 1912 and 1913 the Jamiat * *organized mass gathering and successful public agitation in which thousands of people from Meerut and Shimla took active part. The huge mass support exhibited by Jamiat unnerved the government and they began planning to root out the main source-- * *Darul Uloom Deoband*,* from where such a powerful organization had sprung. The leading members were asked by *Shaikhul Hind*to give up their membership of Jamiat in order to save the educational institution from irreparable losses that it might have suffered at the hands of colonial rulers. *(Ulama-e Haque 1/131, Yad-e Baiza 107, Moqam-e Mahmood 203-204 and Naqash-e Hayat 2/144)*

*A New Establishment Springs Up in Delhi*

Soon after the ban of Jamiatul Ansar in 1913, the freedom seekers appeared in Delhi with a new name *'Nazzaaratul Ma'arif'*. Maulana Obaidullah Sindhi and Shaikhul Hind were the leading figures behind this new setup. The zeal, spirit and purpose of the new set up was none the less freedom.

*Mujahideen* (freedom fighters) used the organization as a corridor to reach Delhi. It was also used as a public relation and financial resource base. Maulana Muhammad Ali Jauhar, Maulana Abul Kalaam Azaad, Maulana Sindhi * *and Shaikhul Hind used to meet here secretly*. (Aseeran-e Malta 27 and Ulama-e Haque 1/136)* When the First World War (1914) began between Germany and Britain, the freedom fighters once again changed their action plan. They decreased domestic activities and fully concentrated on supporting Germany. *(Naqash-e ayaayaHayaat 2/210)*

*Shaikhul Hind Visits Hijaz*

*Fidayeen-e *Freedom saw the war as a golden opportunity to strike at the roots of the British interest. Armed insurrections were planned against the British forces. Haji Saheb Tarang Zaie and Maulana Saifur Rahman Kabulie from Shaikhul Hind's * *Volunteer Group were selected as field commodores with operational base at Zaigi in 'Bajore, the capital of tribal autonomous Yaghistan. *(Al-Jamiat, Sunday edition January 6, 1985)*. Shaikhul Hind Maulana Mahmoodul Hasan dispatched his deputy, Maulana Obaidullah Sindhi, to Kabul and he himself left for Saudi Arabia. The purpose of the visit was to solicit support from the Muslim countries because without weaponry and their active support it was quite impossible to achieve the goal.

Shaikhul Hind reached Makkah on October 9, 1915 and met the Turk Governor, Ghalib Pasha.* *On his request the powerful Governor of the Usmani Caliphate (Turk) agreed to extend support against the British government. In order to publicize his support among Muslims of the sub-continent, he wrote a long letter exhorting the general public to continue with their struggle, assuring them of his government's open support in the future.

It was before the United States took side to any of the warring parties in word war l. Later when the US government sided with the allied forces-- Russia, France and Britain-- the whole war scenario changed. Turk and German-- Central alliance was defeated. As a consequence of the defeat at the hands of allied forces with full connivance of the United States of America, the Usmani Caliphate * *was destroyed. The dream of Shaikhul Hind and his lieutenants to drive away the colonialists, by waging war against the British forces on Indian soil, never materialized. *(Aseeran-e Malta 34, Naqash-e Hayaat 2/212, 186-87 and Tahreek-e Shaikhul Hind 72) *

*The First Government of India in Exile*

As mentioned earlier, Maulana Obaidullah Sindhi was sent to Kabul for a special mission. He established a Government in exile there, with Maulana Barkatullah Bhopali and himself as Ministers and Maharaja Pratap Singh as the President. * *Formation of *'Lashkar-e- Najat Dehinda'* (Liberation Army) with headquarter in Madinah and *Shaikhul Hind* Maulana Mahmoodul Hasan as Chief was declared.* *

Meanwhile, an international set up by the name of *'Junoodur Rabbaniyah'*(Army of God) was formed. The purpose of this group was to represent the movement around the world in order to garner international support against the colonial rule. *Shaikhul Hind* was named *Al-Qayed* (the Leader) of this group too. *(Tahreek-e Shaikhul Hind 281, 282 & 271). *

Maulana Obaidullah Sindhi wrote a letter to Maulana Mahmoodul Hasan, in Saudi Arabia, with details of his activities in Kabul and the future plan. The letter was written on a silk piece of cloth. Maulana Mohammad Mian Mansoor Ansari also enclosed a long letter detailing office bearer's name of the Government in Exile and a blueprint for Junoodur Rabbaniyah. These letters were dispatched to Madinah through Shaikh Abdur Raheem Sindhi. However, on the way these letters reached in the hands of a neo-Muslim named 'Rab Nawaz'. The same was passed to the British Commissioner in Multan. The date inscribed on the Silk letter was 8/9 Ramdhanul Mubarak 1334 A.H*.,*corresponding to 9/10 July 1916, which reached at the hand of Commissioner in the first week of August 1916. How such a grievous blunder occurred, no one could explain it later! *(Naqash-e Hayaat 2/213, Thareek-e Shaikhul Hind 268-269) * **

*Tahreek-e Reshmi Rumaal*

As a consequence of the disclosure of *'Silk Letter Conspiracy'*, as in the British record, or '*Tahreek-e Reshmi Rumaal*' of 1916 against the British Empire, 222 pioneering Ulama from all over the country were arrested on this charge. *(Muqaam-e Mahmood 297-298)*

Shaikhul Hind and his comrades Maulana Waheed Ahamad Faizabadi, Maulana Azeez Gul, Hakim Syed Nusrat Hussain and Maulana Hussain Ahmad Madni were arrested in * Hijaz* (Makkah) on 23 Safar, 1335 A.H*.* They were sent to Malta via Cairo by a ship on 29 Rabius Sani 1335 A.H. corresponding to 21 February 1917 and clamped in the prison for 3 years and 4 months. They were released and reached Bombay on June 8, 1920. However, Maulana Obaidullah Sindhi and Maulana Mohd. Mian Mansoor Ansari had to remain in exile for several years. *(Abstract: Safar Nama-e Malta 118-127, Aseeran-e Malta 51 and Naqash-e Hayaat 2/135)*

*Jamiat Ulama-e Hind*

The Indian National Congress was formed in 1885, with a view to unite Hindu and Muslims to participate in the struggle for freedom. More than 300 Ulama issued a decree ( *Fatwa*) favouring Hindu-Muslim union for freedom struggle which was repeatedly published in the newspaper called *'Nusratul-Abrar'.*Maulana Abul Kalam Azad launched the weekly *'Al-Hilal'**,* a heraldry of freedom struggle and campaigned the same mission. The same Ulama, in March 1919, set up *'Jamiat Ulama-e Hind'*. Mufti Kifayatullah was elected the first President. By the end of the First World War most of the freedom fighters in India eschewed the path of armed struggle. They preferred non-violence as a means to achieve freedom. * *

The *Khilafat Conference,* presided by Maulana Fazle Haq in Delhi resolved to boycott the 'Victory Celebration' of the British Government in Nov. 13, 1919. The resolution had the support of Seth Chutani * *and Mahatma Gandhi. Subsequently Mufti Kifayatullah issued a *Fatwa*, signed and endorsed by 20 Ulama, declaring participation in the victory celebration of the British government as impermissible for Muslims-- as long as the settlement with the rulers of defeated Ottoman Empire was not in accordance with the Islamic law and the popular sentiments of the Muslims. *(A historical View on Jamiat Ulama 59)*

*Non-Cooperation Movement*

The first conference, December 28, 1919, of the new Jamiat was held at Amritsar under the presidentship of Maulana Abdul Bari of Firangi Mahal. The Conference expressed anxiety and protested over the non-release of Shaikhul Hind and Maulana Azad. *(Jamiat Ulama Keya Hain 2/5-16)*

At the Khilafat* *Conference in Allahabad, June 9, 1920 the decision to launch *'Non-cooperation Movement' *was taken *(Tahreek-e Khilafat 155-156) *. On July 19, 1920*, *Shaikhul Hind issued a statement supporting the non-cooperation movement. The movement was formally launched on August 31, 1920. *(Aseeran-e Malta 53).* Later, on October 29, 1920, a detailed edict was issued again and the *Al-Jamiat*, with signatures of 500 Ulama, published it *(Jamiat Ulama Keya Hain 2/30)*. Armed with *Fatwa, *the leaders and volunteers of the *'Khilafat Committee*' and the *'Indian National Congress' * went into open agitation and started their struggle against imperialism.* *A special Conference of Jamiat Ulama-e Hind was held in Calcutta on September 6, 1920, presided by Maulana Taj Mahammad Sindhi. Maulana Azad moved the non-cooperation resolution in the conference and the same was passed. The resolution had * *declared that any kind of cooperation or association with the British Government was *Haraam* (Prohibited by the Shariah) *(Jamait Ulama par Tarikhi Tabsara 58)*

*Movement to Boycott Foreign Goods*

The British government on 8 August, 1921 declared the non-cooperation *Fatwa * of the Khilafat Committee as illegal. On 18 September, Maulana Hussain Ahmad Madni, Maulana Muhammad Ali Jawhar, Maulana Shawkat Ali, Maulana Nisar Ahmad Kanpuri, Peer Ghulam Mujaddid and Dr. Saifuddin Lachko were arrested on the charges of illegal publication and the distribution of the *Fatwa*. *(Shaikhul Islam, A Political Analyses 99) *In the third Jamiat conference in Lahore, 18-20 Nov. 1921 a resolution to *'Boycott Foreign Goods'* was passed. On charges of inciting boycott, 30 thousand people were put into the prison--most of them Ulama and Muslim freedom fighters. On February 5, 1922 Mahatma Gandhi announced the end of boycott due to the *'*Chauri Chaura' incident, where three freedom fighters were killed by the British troops and in retaliation the local public killed 23 British police personnel. Since the killing of the British police personnel was in violation of the non-violence policy of the freedom struggle, Mahatama Gandhi called off the non-cooperation and civil disobedience movement. *(Tahreeke Khilafat 243-244)*

*Shudhi Karan Movement-- Seed of divide and rule*

The call to non-cooperation and civil disobedience was given jointly by Hindu as well as Muslim leaders. The unity of the two communities and the successful response the call of civil disobedience received from the common masses once again proved an unexpected challenge to the British Government after the war of 1857. In order to break this unity, the British government started propagating ' *Shudhi Karan*', by their Hindu agents. The *'Shudhi Karan'* tactics by the British through aided Hindu extremist group resulted a severe set back for Jamiat Ulama, Indian National Congress and the freedom movement. Since thousands of poor Muslims were lured to Hinduism in the name of Shudhi Karan, Jamiat Ulama couldn't cope with its real mission of freedom struggle. Jamiat took the challenge seriously and succeeded in calling back these poor Muslims to their original religion - Islam *(What Jamiat Ulama Is?)*. But this already sew a seed of differences, mistrust among some common Hindus and Muslims-- the Britishers had their goal achieved which ultimately resulted in to partition of our great country and the bitterness is still prevalent.

*The Demand for Total Freedom*

The fourth conference of Jamiat, held in December 1922 under the presidentship of Maulana Habeebur Rahman Usmani, adopted a resolution to *'Boycott the Assemblies'.
* The fifth conference was held at Cocanada in January 1924. In his presidential address, Maulana Syed Hussain Ahmad Madni raised the demand for complete independence.* **(Muslim Ulama Ka Kirdaar 33). *At the seventh conference of Jamiat in Calcutta, held on March 11-14, 1926, presided by of Maulana Syed Sulaiman Nadwi, a resolution for complete freedom of India was passed for the first time.* **(For resolution detail see, What Jamiat Ulama is? 2/119-121) *In* *the eighth general meeting of Jamiat, held in Peshawar, December 2-5, 1926 under the presidency of *Allamah Anwar Shah Kashmiri*, a resolution to oppose *'Simon Commission'* was passed by full strength. This very sentence of the resolution: " *freedom is not given on platter, you got to snatch it*", sums up the mood of those freedom fighters (*What Jamiat Ulama is 2/145). *

After Jamiat had passed the resolution against Simon Commission, the Indian National Congress realized its importance. In its 'Madras' convention, held December 26, 1927, the Congress adopted a resolution demanding the British government to recall Simon Commission. Simon returned back to Britain unsuccessful in his mission on March 31, 1928 *(Maulana Azad, A Political Dairy 213-214)* **

*Difference between Congress and Jamiat *

Jamiat* *was a key member in the 'All Party Conference', held at Lucknow in 1928. The conference criticized the *'Nehru Report'* that sought autonomy under the British rule. The Congress policy of autonomy under the British rule was against Jamiat's policy of complete freedom. Consequently, Jamiat had to suspend its support to the Congress as long as it did not abandon the Motilala Nehru Report. In its Lahore Meeting, held on December 31, 1929, the Indian National Congress voted in favour of Jamiat demand for complete freedom of India after 5 years.

In relation to *Gandhiji's Dandi March*, in 1929, several leaders of the Jamiat including Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, Maulana Hifzur Rahman Seoharvi, Maulana Fakhruddin, Maulana Syed Mohammad Mian and Maulana Bashir Ahmad Bhatia were arrested. At the ninth conference at Amroha, held on May 3-5, 1930 under the presidency of Maulana Moinuddin Ajmeri *,* a fresh resolution was adopted for an alliance and full cooperation with the Congress. *(Tahreek Azadi-e Hind Mey Muslim Ulama aour Awam Ka Kirdaar 99)*

*Civil Disobedience Movement *

During the 'Civil Disobedience Movement' of 1930, the President of Jamiat Mufti Kifayatullah, and the General Secretary Maulana Ahmad Saeed Dehlavi were arrested. At the time of the *'Second Civil Disobedience Movement'* in 1932, the Jamiat like the Congress appointed an organizational arbitrator*.
'Idara Harabia'** *(center for struggle) was set up for which the responsibility was entrusted to Maulana Abul Mahasin Sajjad. Mufti Kifayatullah Dehlavi was appointed the first arbitrator of Jamiat. He led the procession of more than 100,000 strong men on March 11, 1932 and courted arrest at Azad Park of Delhi. He remained in jail for 18 months. *(Al-Jamiat: Special Issue Mufti-e Azam 44-45)* The second arbitrator, Maulana Husain Ahmad Madni was arrested while on his way to Delhi from Deoband. Thereafter, one after the other arbitrators i.e. Maulana Ahmad Saeed Dehlavi, Maulana Hifzur Rahman Seohari, Maulana Syed Mohammad Mian Deobandi, Maulana Habeebur Rahman Ludhianvi and so on were arrested. Most of them were put in jail for 1 to 2 years. Approximately 90 thousand people were arrested, 44.5 thousands among them were Ulama and Muslims. *(Karwan-e Ahrar 1/106)*

*The Root of Communalism *

The freedom movement was gaining ground every day. A weakened British Empire, even though they had won the War against powerful Ottoman Empire and Germany, was not able to cope with the situation. In the face of resolute and nationwide agitation and civil disobedience of the freedom fighters, the imperialist ruler had no way out but to sow the seed of communalism that would have divided the two communities (Hindu & Muslim) whose activists together were standing like rock against the British interest. To implement the nefarious and infamous *'divide & rule' *policy in 1935, the British government announced assembly election on the basis of proportional representation on religious basis. A Hindu was allowed to vote for a Hindu candidate and Muslim to a Muslim only. *(Tahreek Azadi-e Hind Mey Muslim Ulama aour Awam Ka Kirdaar 100) *It was, perhaps, this poisonous seed that later grew into strong tree-trunk and began producing bitter fruits in abundance. Hindu and Muslim freedom fighters who fought together for the liberation of this great country began suspicious of each other's motive. This not only resulted in the bloodshed, communal politics but also became the main cause for the partition of India.

*Muslim League Avails Opportunity*

*Muslim League* as a political entity came into existence in the year 1906. It, however, couldn't attract public attention before the India Act 1935 was announced - least to say of garnering public support and respectability in the Muslim eyes. Since the election was to be conducted on religion--communal basis, Jamiat leadership was not sure what role it should play in such an idiosyncratic political situation. And for sure it didn't want to directly participate in this undesired election directly.

Jamiat decided to put the Muslim League as a front organization with its full backing. This was, to me, a historic blunder committed by the Jamiat because an organization of such a strong mass base seldom brings other organization in the front that could steal the show. Due to lack of proper future visionary in part of Jamait and the extremist posture adopted by some Muslim League and Congress members, the gulf between the two major political parties went on increasing. The situation turned from bad to worse because both were either ruling or in opposition in the provinces-- under a two party (Hindu - Muslim) theory. The communal harmony and amity that existed between the two communities were shattered. Both the parties left no stone unturned to defame each other and ferociously used religion to attack political rivals. As a consequence the British agents provocateur had the field day. Certain religious discords or sentimental issues were intelligently coloured by the British to turn their schism into hatred which made an irreparable damage to the national unity and integrity of great India.

Gradually the two communities took sides of the political parties they had voted for. In such a charged political atmosphere Jamiat Ulam's call for communal amity, political unity and struggle for a total freedom fell on deaf years-- it was already too late for Mualana Madni, Maulana Azad and Mahathma Gandhi. Having no way out, the Jamiat had to break the alliance with the Muslim League. Thereafter, the Jamiat decided against having any truck with the Muslim League. But the League had already achieved as much mass support as required to impress upon the British government that it was the true representative of the Muslim community. *(History of Jamiat Ulama-e Hind 94)* The British, on the other hand, were regaling over the fruits of their harvest, *'Divide and Rule Policy', *that had stupendous success in dividing the two communities. The Congress and the League were like the proverbial saying:

"*The fighting crows do not sense that its prey is being eaten by the smart fox." *

*World War II & Ulama's Opposition to the Conscription*

Jamiat Ulma-e Hind strongly opposed conscription during the World War II (1939-45). They declared complete non-cooperation in the British war-efforts. The book ' *Ulama-e Hind ka Shandar Maazi'*, written by Maulana Mohammad Mian, was banned and the author arrested. The Jamiat* *Working Committee, on July 13-14, 1940, termed the ban and arrest as a tyrannous step. The leaders of Jamiat including Maulana Hifzur Rahman Seoharvi, Maulana Ahmad Ali Lahori, Maulana Mohd. Qasim Shahjahanpuri, Maulana Abul Wafa Shajahanpuri, Maulana Shahid Mian Fakhri Allahabadi, Maulana Mohammad Ismail Sambhali, Maulana Syed Akhtarul Islam with others were arrested for their opposition to conscription and the British war-efforts. *(History of Jamiat Ulama 103)*

*Quit India Movement*

In a Jamiat conclave, held at Bachhraon, April 23-25, 1940*, *Maulana Hussain Ahmad Madni raised the question of India's total independence once again. As a consequence he was arrested on June 24 on his way to Punjab to participate in the *'unity conference'*. He was sentenced to six months imprisonment. The imprisonment term was about to finish that he was served another notice on January 4, 1943 under the Defense of India Rules and kept in *Naini *jail until August 22, 1944. Thereafter, he was released unconditionally. The Jamiat Working Committee on 5th August 1942, adopted a resolution calling upon the British to *'Quit India'*. The signatory of the resolution were Mufti Kifayatullah, Maulana Ahmad Saeed, Maulana Hifzur Rahman and Maulana Abdul Haleem Siddiqui. It was after Jamiat that the Bombay Session of the Congress on August 9 passed the famous 'Quit India' resolution that led to the arrest and incarceration of the Congress and the Jamiat leaders.

*Freedom or Partition of great India*

The *Partition of India* was a partition that led to the creation on 14 August 1947 and 15 August 1947, respectively, of the sovereign states of Dominion of Pakistan (later Islamic Republic of Pakistan) and Union of India (later Republic of India) upon the granting of independence to British India from the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. In particular, it refers to the partition of the Bengal province of British India into the Pakistani state of East Bengal (later East Pakistan, now Bangladesh) and the Indian state of West Bengal, as well as the similar partition of the Punjab region of British India into the Punjab province of West Pakistan and the Indian state of Punjab. (Wikipedia web site)

Mr. A.G. Noorani rightly observes: The Partition of India ranks, beyond a doubt, as one of the 10 greatest tragedies in human history. It was not inevitable. India's independence was inevitable; but preservation of its unity was a prize that, in our plural society, required high statesmanship. That was in short supply. A mix of other reasons deprived us of that prize -personal hubris, miscalculation, and narrowness of outlook.

While Mohammed Ali Jinnah and the Muslim League bear heavy responsibility -since they demanded and pressed for Pakistan - the Congress (Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel and Jawaharlal Nehru) cannot escape blame. Least of all the hypocritical Sangh Parivar. Its chief mentor V.D. Savarkar formulated the two-nation theory in his essay Hindutva, published in 1923, 16 years before Jinnah came up with it. The Hindu Mahasabha leader Lala Lajpat Rai wrote in The Tribune of December 14, 1924: "Under my scheme the Muslims will have four Muslim States: (1) The Pathan Province or the North-West Frontier; (2) Western Punjab (3) Sindh and (4) Eastern Bengal. If there are compact Muslim communities in any other part of India, sufficiently large to form a province, they should be similarly constituted. But it should be distinctly understood that this is not a united India. It means a clear partition of India into a Muslim India and a non-Muslim India." This was 16 years before the League adopted the Pakistan Resolution in Lahore, on March 23, 1940 (Frontline: Dec. 22, 2001 - Jan. 04, 2002

Though Jamiat Ulama-e Hind resolutely opposed the idea of Pakistan, its leaders, especially Maulana Hussain Ahmad Madni and Maulana Azad were victims of Muslim League violence but by the year 1945 the League gained tremendous political ground in the Muslim mass against Congress. *(Ulama-e-Haque vol.2)*. After the Jamait had publicly alienated itself from the Muslim League and sided with Congress, Jamait itself got divided and the section with Congress was severely harassed as Congress agents through out India.

The Britain, thus, legitimately found a ground to deal with All India Muslim League as Muslims representative body in support of Pakistan and on June 3, 1947 Lord Mountbatten announced the plan for partition of India. We were first partitioned on religion to India and Pakistan in the night between 14 and 15 August then freed and later on language in 1971 East Pakistan became Bangladesh.

Will some of us ponder over those facts while celebrating our freedom!

A Darul Uloom Deoband graduate and Editor '* Eastern Crescent'
*, M. Burhanuddin Qasmi is also a poet and Director of Mumbai based institute *'Markazul Ma'arif Education and Research Centre'

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

The Statesman - Foeticides, fake medics jolt govt

The Statesman
Foeticides, fake medics jolt govt

Statesman News Service
BHUBANESWAR, July 24: The twin issues of foeticides and spurious medicines continued to rock the state with the crime branch recovering human bones again today from the pit used by a private nursing home in Nayagarh. Reports of raids, sealing of unauthorised ultra sound clinics and unearthing of abandoned medicines poured in from the far-flung districts.
Police and medical officers ,who were rudely jolted by the illegality taking place right under their noses since long, claimed that they were on the alert and monitoring activities at all ultra sound clinics/private nursing homes as well as medicine shops. Raids were being carried out; some of them sealed, they said. Sample of medicines are sent for tests from medicine shops and godowns in different parts of the state.
Reports of such raids came in from Berhampur, Padmapur, Bargarh, Balasore, Rayagada and a few other districts. At Cuttack, a squad has been formed by the police to inspect and monitor such places.
Meanwhile, in the state capital, the Left parties took to the streets demanding a CBI probe into the feticide and fake medicine racket. They also demanded the resignation of the health minister. He has lost the moral right to hold the post, they charged.
Led by the All India Democratic Women Association leaders Tapasi Praharaj and Puspa Das, the Left students wings staged a dharna and later submitted a memorandum to the Governor. They urged upon the government to immediately form participatory and representative committees to ensure strict implementation of the Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (Regulation and prevention of misuse) Act and institute a proper medical vigilance system.
Alleging that the Nayagarh incident was one of female feticide, they said it reflected the abysmal failure of the health and social welfare administration in the state.
The demographic profile of the state has already become a matter of concern as sex ratio per 1000 male is 938 in rural areas and 917 in urban areas, they noted. They pointed out that the PNDT Act mandated the district collectors to form committees for its implementation but nowhere in the state had this been effectively implemented.
Similarly, the fake medicine racket is thriving in the state largely due to failure of the health department to keep a tab and put in place a system of constant vigil, they alleged.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Kalam, a man for all reasons - Rajdeep Sardesai

It was meant to be a celebration of excellence in journalism. The Ramnath Goenka award ceremony was a gathering of the country's power elite: top politicians, captains of industry, cerebral editors, page three shakers and the humble pen and mike pushers. The editors and proprietors were debating the eternal dilemmas of journalism: the relationship between journalistic excellence and business success. That's when President APJ Abdul Kalam intervened and spoke of the urgent need for the media to nation-build. Nothing profound, but said with a simplicity of intent. Then, even before the editors could respond, the President came up and sat cross-legged on the edge of the stage as a stunned audience watched. The president of India was literally sitting at the feet of the country's media denizens.
The next morning as the photo was splashed in the newspapers, my ten year old daughter looked at me quizzically, "Why is the president kneeling in front of you" Isn't he the president of the country"" In her question was a mix of awe and wonderment. It was also a reminder of just how Kalam had changed the presidency, and just why he will be missed when his term ends next week.
In the course of the presidential election campaign, a senior left leader had dismissed President Kalam's popularity as an "SMS" phenomenon. Kalam, it was suggested, was an idol only for a section of the Indian middle class whose voting preferences were not expressed in the ballot box but in much-hyped television contests designed to pump up ratings and revenues. A presidential election, we were reminded, was fought in the electoral college of MPs and MLAs, not in air-conditioned television studios.
And yet, it is precisely because Kalam's stature has stretched beyond the constituency of the neta that he is an important milestone in Indian public life. I have little doubt that if Kalam had to fight a general election in the heat and dust of non-metropolitan "real' India, he would struggle. He would not fit in with the caste matrix, he would certainly not have the financial resources, and even his religion might actually work against him. But Kalam's very unelectability in some parts of the country make him eminently appealing to the rest of the country.
To be dismissive of Kalam's popularity as a limited urban middle class phenomenon is to lose out on the tectonic socio-political changes that are taking place in the country. This is no longer an India where the dusty tracts of Jhabua or the distant roads of Jhoomritalaiya are entirely disconnected from the world beyond . Today, the bright lights of a south Mumbai or a south Delhi have a glimmer that stretches beyond geographical confines. In this age of technology, millions of citizens share a unified dream, shaped by a desire for rapid upward mobility and the benefits of material growth. In this aspirational age, President Kalam is more than just another middle class hero: he symbolizes the hopes and ambitions of an emerging India, a new age guru for a new India.
In that sense, Kalam is very different to any previous middle class hero. Middle class icons in the past can be broadly fitted into two categories. The first are politicians who often as a result of either personal idealism (e.g Jawaharlal) or peculiar confluence of circumstances (e.g. VP Singh and Manmohan Singh) acquire a larger than life image. The other are those who strike out against the political class, and are seen to acquire an anti-establishment cult following among those who are convinced that the political class is venal ( e.g. TN Seshan).
Kalam, on the other hand, is more than just a representative of middle class India. He represents a more universal value system, one that many of us recognize is unattainable, but which nevertheless is enormously attractive. His remarkable personal integrity for example makes him a shining representative of a Gandhian-like lifestyle, which is seen to have been lost in the maddening hustle and bustle of an acquisitive society. We hate the white ambassador with the lal batti as a symbol of unaccountable power. Kalam, by virtually rejecting the trappings of power even within the opulence of Rashtrapati Bhavan, restores a sense of belief in a certain old world value system.
Nor is Kalam a khadi-clad hermit in an ashram, but rather uniquely someone who has the hairstyle of a rock star and the mind of a scientist, making him as attractive to new India as he is to the old. That he isn't simply some professional seminarist preaching rural development in a vacuum, but is a tech-savvy individual who has his own website makes him someone who can bridge the generational divide that is seen to burden a country still coming to terms with modernity.
Indeed, it's the very eccentricities of Kalam that have been his strength, imbuing the office of the presidency with a human touch that has been missing in the past. Dr Rajendra Prasad carried the legacy of a freedom fighter; Dr S Radhakrishnan and Zakir Hussain the weight of academia. Their successors were politicians who were extensions of the prevailing ruling arrangement. Right through this period, the presidency seemed like a colonial relic, replete with the pomp and splendour of the erstwhile Viceroys and governor generals. Then, the presidency was about the grandeur of a Mughal Garden. In Kalam's India, it became about the novelty and excitement of a herbal garden, of flying a Sukhoi, of being in submarine or sharing a meal with jawans in Siachen.
Kalam may have been an NDA appointee, but it is to his eternal credit that he is not seen as an NDA president today (ironically, the one false move he made was to allow the UPA government to enact the midnight murder of the constitution in Moscow while imposing presidents rule in Bihar). Equally importantly, while his being a member of a minority community might have helped elevate him to presidency, there is not a single occasion in the last six years when there has been even a whiff of religiosity associated with the Kalam persona. In that sense, he is a "living" example of Indian secularism, free of the cynical politics that has reduced minority achievement to effete tokenism.
Indeed, it is the manner in which Kalam has dramatically changed our perceptions of the presidency that make it incumbent on the political class not to lose out on the opportunity to build on his legacy. Unfortunately, the Pratibha Patil versus Bhairon Singh Shekhawat contest has done precisely the opposite. Two provincial politicians slugging it out for the post of the country's first citizen, the character of the contest has reminded us just how and why politics has become a backward sector of the economy.
In the end, Kalam's real charm perhaps lay in the fact that he seemed impatient with the conventions of high office. Undoubtedly, in his own race to Raisina, he may have played the power game. Some have even accused him of being a great pretender. But the fact is that once he was president, Kalam seemed to not give a hang about power and pelf. No adoring family hung about him, he wore the same shabby bandgala to every function, the superbly eccentric hairstyle remained constant , as did the bright-eyed urgent and detailed expositions about this or that highly important welfare scheme that had caught his attention.Which is why, as Pratibha Patil gets ready to take over as President, she has a hard act to follow. Will she sit cross legged on the ground, like her predecessor, and dive into a lively debate on journalistic ethics"
(This article first appeared in Hindustan Times)

We'll miss you, Dr Kalam by Fali Nariman

We'll miss you, Dr Kalam
Fali S. Nariman
Posted online: Monday, July 23, 2007 at 0000 hrs IST

We will miss him -- that unconventional figure who became India's First Citizen in July 2002. Never pompous, not even 'presidential' (in either deportment or demeanour), he walked into the Palace at Raisina Hill with few worldly goods -- he now leaves with even fewer: "I will go with only two small suitcases," he wistfully said last Thursday. We could have asked him to stay: but we didn't.
There were excuses (there always are). It was said that apart from Rajendra Prasad there had been no 'precedent' for a second term. But as any lawyer will tell you, if you have a good case in court there is no need for a 'precedent'; it is the good case that makes the precedent! But all this is in the realm of wishful thinking: as the poet says: "We look before and after and pine for what is not..."
The stark reality is that this lovable figure -- popular, sometimes even populist, but never ostentations -- now exits from Rashtrapati Bhavan in the same frame of mind as he entered it: with an overriding concern for the 'underdog'. Hear this: one year into office, on the morning of July 14, 2003, at 8.40 am, the RAX in the office of the secretary to the president rang. President Kalam was at the other end. "Mr Nair," he said in a voice that was (as always) cool and composed, "last night I could not sleep because my bedroom was leaking..." P.M. Nair froze and muttered something. "Any other president," he now recalls, "and my head would have rolled, although for no fault of mine."
At the other end of the line, the president (sensing Nair's embarrassment), continued reassuringly, "Don't worry Mr Nair, I know you will immediately set things right in my bedroom. What I am worried about are those houses on the President's Estate where they may not have a second bedroom to shift to when the only one that is available leaks." So Nair got moving, and with the help of the CPWD, the old staff quarters -- until then dilapidated and neglected -- were transformed into bright new leak-proof houses: in almost record time. Nair tells me that he was greatly impressed at the concern and compassion shown by the president -- not for himself but for other inmates on the Presidential Estate. It has been said that no man, however great, is a hero to his own secretary or his own valet. But as with all such sayings there are exceptions -- from that point on, Nair had found his hero!
Now another revelation -- so far kept under wraps at Rashtrapati Bhavan (under presidential orders): In May 2006, President Kalam's relatives from the south decided to descend on him (as relatives tend to often do). On instructions of the president they were welcomed by his staff at the railway station, and were looked after right up to the time they departed. But the Controller of Household was under strict instructions to keep a meticulous account of all the expenses incurred on behalf of the relatives -- all 53 of them. Not once was an office vehicle used for any of them.
It was made clear by the president that he would pay -- not only for the transport of all his relatives to and from Delhi, and also within Delhi, he would also pay for the various rooms occupied by them at Rashtrapati Bhavan and the food that was consumed by them -- the rooms at the prescribed rate, the food on the basis of expenses actually incurred.
When his relatives left after a week's stay, the president was of course sad to see them all go, but he was also lighter in his pocket: the total expenses debited to his personal account was Rs 3,54,924! As we practising lawyers often say in court "the facts speak for themselves": President Kalam has set a high benchmark of rectitude in public office -- worthy of emulation. And as a living embodiment
of 'Transparency-National', his parting words of advice were: "Don't accept gifts." Delicately put: what he meant to say of course was: "Don't accept gifts for favours in return."
Yes, we will all miss him. Me, too. Although I had publicly criticised him for putting his signature on the Bihar Dissolution Proclamation, and for not insisting on a personal meeting with Aung San Suu Kyi during his presidential trip to Myanmar, in retrospect, these were but aberrations -- small lapses -- in a hugely successful presidency.
Of him it can be said, as Winston Churchill once said about his departed king: "He nothing common did, or mean, upon that memorable scene." Memorable scenes are rarely re-enacted, but they are always remembered.
The writer is an eminent jurist

Monday, July 23, 2007

The Pioneer > Columnists - Don't prejudge Haneef - K P S Gill

The Pioneer > Columnists

Don't prejudge Haneef

The utter sensationalism, bias and hysteria that has attended most reportage and commentary on the arrest and detention of Haneef Ahmed in Australia is now being progressively exposed for its irrationality and error, as a few sane voices begin to put things in a perspective that has some connection to reality. Regrettably, the media frenzy has substantially been fed by - and, in turn, has fed - the responses of the Indian Government at the highest level, creating a cycle of disinformation that can only bring all parties to contempt.

I recall the deep frustration we felt when Western Governments stonewalled India on all cases relating to Khalistani terrorist activities, safe havens, mobilisation, funding and propaganda in foreign countries, during the period of terrorism in Punjab. Before they were jerked awake by 9/11 and subsequent Islamist attacks on Western targets, no amount of evidence was ever enough to convince these countries that a fugitive being demanded by India on extradition was actually a terrorist. Progressive disclosures relating to the Kanishka bombing conspiracy in Canada - which resulted in 329 deaths - have demonstrated the degree to which Western agencies were willing to ignore terrorist activities directed against India from their soil.

The boot is now on the other foot, and, in the Haneef case, we are behaving as unreasonably towards Australia as various Western powers did toward India. It needs to be clearly emphasised that there are no allegations that Haneef has been mistreated, tortured or otherwise discriminated against. He has been held in custody in connection with an extraordinarily serious crime - the failed terrorist attacks in London and Glasgow - on incontrovertible evidence, his SIM card, that ties him directly to the terrorists. No investigative agency will treat such a link lightly, and Australian authorities have indicated that there is other evidence that has not yet been disclosed (rightly, in view of the systematic leaks by defence lawyers and the process of trial by the Press that is currently ongoing).

In any event, the investigations into this case span three countries - the UK, India and Australia - and no enforcement authority will allow a suspect to go free until all the evidence has been assessed. This is inevitable where such close linkages to terrorists - if not to terrorist activity - are demonstrated, and even if Haneef is innocent, it remains the regrettable case that his troubles will not end until the investigations are concluded.

The Indian media has repeatedly paraded Haneef's family members, including his mother and his wife, and treated their testimonies as incontrovertible proof of his 'innocence'. While this crude theatre of the 'pornography of other people's suffering' may be good for TRP ratings, and may even inspire India's Prime Minister to comment, it has absolutely no evidentiary value.

In a long career in policing, including extended tenures dealing with insurgencies and terrorism, I have only rarely come across a family of a criminal or terrorist who is willing to admit the culpability of their son, brother, husband or other close relative, even in the face of overwhelming evidence. Haneef's parents and wife in India cannot have any conclusive knowledge of his activities in the UK or in Australia - and his innocence or guilt would need to be demonstrated on altogether different grounds.

Concerns have also been expressed over the decision to hold Haneef in solitary confinement. Apart from the basis of this decision in Australian law, this is perhaps the most humane decision that could have been taken. Australian authorities have discreetly spoken of 'privacy', but the truth is, such a measure is best for Haneef's protection.

Few people in India are, perhaps, acquainted with the curious case Dhiren Barot aka Issa al Britani aka Abu Issa al Hindi, the Kenyan-born Britisher of Indian ethnicity, who converted to Islam and joined Al Qaeda in plotting to detonate a radioactive 'dirty bomb' and to commit other acts of mass terrorism in the UK. Barot was convicted on these charges in October 2006 and sentenced to 30 years in prison. On July 16, 2007, Barot was attacked by other prisoners at the maximum security Frankland Prison in Durham, and was permanently disfigured after boiling water and, later, boiling oil, was thrown over him.

There is a well-established policy in Western detention centres that holds certain categories of detenues, including paedophiles and terrorists, both suspected and convicted, in isolated facilities or solitary confinement for their own safety.

None of these considerations have found much space in the frenetic reportage on the issue, which has been entirely prejudged. This has become a staple of successive media trials that have taken place on high profile cases in the recent past. In almost every case, a terrorist is never a terrorist - often even after he has been convicted, and his conviction upheld by a succession of courts, right up to the Supreme Court. On the other hand, we find that the police are always - with or without evidence - guilty of 'human rights violations' irrespective of the actual evidence, or of the procedural integrity of their actions.

All generalisations are subject to exception, but it is increasingly the case that most media organisations in India have become propagandists, resorting to outright falsehoods, 'sloganising' every issue, routinely abusing and demonising particular parties, while others are shielded or exempted from even the most cursory examination or censure.

Thomas Jefferson once remarked that the man who reads nothing at all is better educated than the man who reads nothing but newspapers. The deep ignorance of history, fact, process and law that characterises news organisations today - and most prominently the electronic media - has trivialised and distorted the gravest and most momentous concerns of our age, and there appears to be an inverse relationship between the power and reach of the media in India and its adherence to any acceptable standards of reportage and conduct.

A deep arrogance is compounding profound ignorance to produce some of the most unfortunate commentaries on the Haneef case. We must not prejudge Haneef. This means, essentially, that, till investigation is complete and all the evidence is in, we must not conclude either that he is guilty or innocent.

The Australian investigative authorities are best positioned to assess the evidence currently at hand, and unless there is clear indication of abuse, torture, racism or procedural irregularities, we must invest our faith in their system, even as we hope that, when our turn comes, others will find it possible to trust our far more imperfect systems.

Sunday, July 22, 2007 : Orissa CM orders crime branch probe into female foeticide : Orissa CM orders crime branch probe into female foeticide

HindustanTimes-Print - Haneef: India’s hypocrisy by Barkha Dutt


Barkha Dutt
Email Author
New Delhi, July 21, 2007
First Published: 00:09 IST(21/7/2007)
Last Updated: 00:23 IST(21/7/2007)

Haneef: India’s hypocrisy
Our schizophrenia as a people is astounding. Right now we are consumed with self-righteous indignation over how Mohammed Haneef, an Indian citizen and an initial suspect in the Glasgow bomb blast, is being treated by the Australians. In his humiliation, we see a sinister attack on our national pride. In the decision to scrap his visa, we see the premature death of our own emigration dreams. We want our government to be less effete in its intervention. We think this is about racism, not terrorism.

In itself, this is a worthy (if slightly selfish) and laudable emotion. By all accounts, the 27-year-old doctor from Bangalore is being victimised, hounded and tortured. A magistrate has already ruled that there is no evidence to link Haneef with the bombing conspiracies in either Glasgow or London. And yet, an innocent man continues to be held in solitary confinement with the ludicrous explanation that the solitude is actually designed to give him more ‘privacy’. Haneef has eloquently argued his own innocence, describing himself as a “Muslim with moderate views” who believes that “every drop of blood is human”. When Australian Prime Minister John Howard still goes on to declare grandly that he is “not uncomfortable” with the young doctor’s continued detention our outrage is spontaneous and entirely legitimate.

But, what if Haneef had been arrested in Bangalore instead of Brisbane? What if a suicide bomber had rammed his explosives-laden car into the airport at Srinagar, instead of Scotland? And what if our investigating agencies had then told us that Haneef was a dreaded terrorist because he had loaned his mobile sim card to one of the men involved in the attack? Would we have been as concerned then about whether an innocent man had been locked away? Would we have demanded transparency from our judicial process on the grounds that the evidence was sketchy? Or would we have simply ranted about how India is a soft State and Islam a factory for fundamentalists? We have branded the Australians as racist, but would we have called ourselves communal?

The overwhelming anger at Haneef’s arrest would be a lot more reassuring, were it not underlined by a distinct double standard.

Turn your mind back to the Parliament attack of 2001. It was indisputably an attack on the nerve centre of India, and the desire for visible justice was entirely understandable. But, in a case eerily similar to Haneef’s, didn’t our investigating agencies almost put an innocent man on death row? The special Pota court trying the case in its early stages convicted a Delhi-based college teacher along with the other accused and sentenced him to death. The entire case against Professor S.A.R. Geelani was based on the fact that he had some telephonic contact with the prime accused in the days before the attack. It was left to the Supreme Court to conclusively throw out the case against the professor and acquit him of all charges. But even today, intelligence officials and investigating officers insist that their case against him was foolproof and they had been let down by the courts. I don’t remember any public outrage defining the national response to the Professor Geelani case. If anything most people seemed willing to believe the police and were impatient and dismissive of the do-gooder human rights activists campaigning for his release.

More recently, Tariq Dar, a Kashmiri model who made it big in Bangladesh was locked away on charges of terrorism. Accused of playing a role in the Delhi blasts of 2005, he spent three months in custody. Finally, the police were forced to concede in court that they did not have enough evidence to build any case against him, and he was able to walk free. The judge who acquitted him was passionate in her ruling. “It’s astonishing,” she wrote that “without an iota of evidence against him, Dar was kept in custody for 90 days which could be a lifetime for any common citizen.” But do you remember anyone you know sharing her anger? Today will be the 19th day Haneef has spent in custody, and we find that appalling. Yet, we were distinctly unmoved, when someone closer home, spent much longer in prison. How can we possibly explain this hypocrisy?

According to the Herald Sun, an Australian citizen, Roy Somerville, who has never met Haneef emerged as an unlikely benefactor and offered to post the ten thousand dollars in bail because he believes in a ‘fair go’. The newspaper quotes the Brisbane resident as saying that if the police only charged Haneef for giving his cousins an old sim card, then it was “bullshit”. Can you imagine anyone in India bailing out a stranger implicated in a case of terrorism?

Of course, it is true that Australia has never known what it feels like to live in the shadow of militant violence and so its civil society may find it much easier to be benevolent compared to us. It is also true that the involvement of Kafeel Ahmed, an engineer from Bangalore in the Glasgow attack, has busted several myths we have about ourselves.

Readers of this column may remember that just a fortnight ago, I argued that political correctness on the left and religious bigotry on the right had strangulated honest conversation about the linkages between modern-day Islam and terrorism. There is an undeniable need to stop candy-flossing the impact of fundamentalism. India cannot pretend anymore that none of its citizens fancy membership to the Global Jehad club. We need to examine where our secularism has failed.

But equally, we still need to keep our democracy healthy. This means that as citizens of a progressive modern country we should be able to demand transparency from our investigating agencies. It also means that when people are locked away on flimsy charges, we owe it them and to ourselves to speak up, even if their politics and antecedents make us uncomfortable.

Seventy per cent of the men and women in India’s prisons are still awaiting trial — that’s a staggering 300,000 people. Some have already spent more time in jail just waiting for a court date than they would have had they been found guilty.

So, as we galvanise public opinion against the arrest of an innocent Indian in Australia, how about sparing some of that anger for the innocent Indians in India?

Barkha Dutt is Managing Editor, NDTV 24x7
© Copyright 2007 Hindustan Times

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

The Daily Star Web Edition Vol. 5 Num 1113 - Where the mind is without fear . . .Syed Badrul Ahsan

The Daily Star Web Edition Vol. 5 Num 1113


Ground Realities
Where the mind is without fear . . .
Syed Badrul Ahsan

Fear is a most depressing part of life. It lays people low. It turns them cautious, to the point of making them look and sound absurd. Sometimes, as in the case of the Awami League's general secretary Abdul Jalil, it causes in them much worry about death. Speaking of Jalil, a couple of days ago, when asked if he had grown fearful, he answered with a question of his own: "Who is not afraid?" He then added, "of death." He conveniently ignored the fact that the question about his being captive to fear had little to do with death and everything to do with his present hold, or the lack of it, on politics. That surely did not enhance his popular standing, for if any confirmation was needed about Jalil's sudden transformation from a brave, if somewhat naïve, political crusader to a supplicant for mercy, it was there in his brief response to that query on fear.

And yet fear has hardly ever been part of a politician's life. There are plenty of instances of courage that political leaders and workers have demonstrated in this country for future politicians to build on. Back in the 1960s, there was another general secretary of the Awami League whose moral authority and political principles, buttressed again by acute intelligence, made him impervious to fear. Tajuddin Ahmed belonged to a generation of politicians for whom fear was as unknown as was life in outer space. It was a generation that went to jail, and repeatedly too, in the furtherance of a national political goal, and had no regrets about taking a position on the issues of the day.

Consider, once again, the tremendous degree of courage that defined the political character of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. He spent no fewer than thirteen years in prison, without so much as a whisper of regret about his participation in politics.

On the day the Agartala conspiracy case proceedings went under way, he proclaimed loudly in court, "Anyone who wants to live in Bangladesh will have to talk to Sheikh Mujibur Rahman." It was the moral fibre in the man that mattered, enough to sustain him in a Pakistani prison during the entirety of the Bangladesh liberation war. It was similar moral fibre that enabled Tajuddin Ahmed, Syed Nazrul Islam, M. Mansur Ali and A.H.M. Quamruzzaman to hold their heads high even as the bullets were sprayed into them in Dhaka central jail.

A frightened politician is a dead politician, or one in deep coma. Which is when you recall the immense bravery, for all his failings of character, in Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. Perhaps he would have lived if he had so much as petitioned General Ziaul Haq for mercy. In those final days of his tempestuous life, Bhutto conveyed to the world outside his prison cell the thought that politicians would lose their bearings, as indeed their hold on the future, if they caved in to fear. He went to the gallows; and the manner of it was enough to convince even his detractors that in the twilight of his life, Bhutto had turned his back on charlatanism, on drama and intrigue, and had actually lifted himself to a higher plane of being through embracing death rather than living but by the leave of the soldier who had once served under him.

And then there is the story of Saddam Hussein. No one will argue over the fact that he was a ruthless dictator, that a mere snap of his fingers sent hundreds to their doom. There was this other side to his character, though. While he could dispatch people to their graves with impunity, he could also hold out before the world an image of a secular, modern Iraq. With him gone, Iraq is now a carcass over which carrion fight and claw at one another. Saddam went to his death with courage undiminished. He showed no fear, expressed no regrets. He knew, as do the rest of us, that it was foreign occupation that was squeezing the life out of him. When, therefore, Iraq's leader fell to his death through a pulling of the lever on the gallows, it was the politician in him that triumphed. No politician plunges to his end in abject supplication. And politicians committed to a cause survive decades in jail, eventually to send their tormentors scattering all around. Read here the story of Nelson Mandela. No Verwoerd, no Botha and no De Klerk was ever able to intimidate him.

Fear was never part of the vocabulary that G.M. Syed employed in politics. Regarded as a traitor to the state by successive governments in Pakistan, Syed remained undaunted, and not once told his captors that he wished to say farewell to politics. Much the same was true of Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, whose undying devotion to the cause of Pashtunistan certainly did not endear him to the military regimes that governed Pakistan. Follower of and friend to Gandhi, Badshah Khan, as he was known, lived to a grand old age without having known fear. It was a trait he had already passed on to his son Khan Abdul Wali Khan, the tormented politician who did not let obstacles come in his way. If his National Awami Party had to be outlawed by the Bhutto government, he quickly found a way out of the jam. He simply reinvented the party as the Awami National Party.

In Pakistan, where the state has traditionally been symbolic of fear, brave men have often lighted the path to hope for ordinary mortals. Ghaus Bux Bijenzo and Abdus Samad Achakzai are names that continue to evoke reverence in their country, and outside it. In his ageing years, in India, Jayaprakash Narayan saw little reason not to rise in protest against Indira Gandhi and the political depredations of her son Sanjay. He went to jail in the way a Gandhian ought to have, with no fear and without complaint.

Fear in a politician may not affect the overall course of a nation's history. But it surely damages the politician to a rather irreparable degree. As part of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party hierarchy, Moudud Ahmed was a pivotal force in the Zia-Sattar regimes before being carted off to prison in the early days of General Hussein Muhammad Ershad. He re-emerged into sunlight and made his way straight to the new military ruler's door. Did he have to do that? Or were there other compulsions preying on his thoughts of the future?

In Pakistan, Mushahid Hussain, the influential journalist and confidante of Nawaz Sharif, was taken into custody soon after Pervez Musharraf stormed his way to power in October 1999. He returned to the limelight to tell Pakistanis, in so many words, that he had ditched Sharif and was now firmly in the camp of the country's newest dictator. If Mushahid had been led to his new position through fear, there was the memory of the man without fear, he who had never seen reason to genuflect before the men who wielded power. Faiz Ahmed Faiz, convicted in the Rawalpindi conspiracy case of 1951, did not bow before temporal political authority. His politics and his poetry came shorn of fear.

There are all the tales of fearlessness, some of them of epic proportions, you will come across in politics. The long suffering of Aung San Suu Kyi promises to lengthen even more, and yet she breaks not at all. In Bangladesh, Sheikh Hasina demonstrates, through days and nights of admirably endless struggle, the reality that for men and women of commitment to a cause and belief in a goal, the mind is always without fear and the head is necessarily held high.

And that is all you need to know. That is the principle you ought to live for, and die defending.

Syed Badrul Ahsan is Editor, Current Affairs, The Daily Star.

Social unrest and 10% growth - By Ashish Kothari

Social unrest and 10% growth By: Ashish Kothari
In 2005. there were 84,000 public protests in China. Indian economists and planners who are keen to emulate the Chinese economic model would do well to heed this, says Ashish Kothari, since the unrest in China, as in India in recent years, is fuelled by the inequities resulting from the race to double-digit growth.
Singur, Nandigram and China have some interesting links. One is obvious: they are all under communist regimes. More important, however, is a not so obvious connection: they are all symbolic of the growing violence that governments are inflicting on their own people, and the growing public unrest in response.

Indian economists and planners, who admire China’s ‘economic miracle’ and want India to emulate it, would do well to heed some startling statistics. In 2005 (figures are not yet available for 2006), there were 84,000 incidents of public protest in China; 230 a day, one every six minutes. This was a 10-fold rise over incidents in 1993 (about 8,700). Also noticeable is the trend towards larger and larger protests, with more recent ones involving thousands and sometimes tens of thousands of people. Many observers of Chinese affairs believe that, astonishing as it is, even the figure of 84,000 is probably a gross underestimate, given that media censorship would have blocked reportage of many others.

Why should India’s development planners worry about social unrest in China? Because the forces causing the unrest are much the same as those being unleashed in India in the race to achieve a double-digit figure of economic growth. Albert Keidel, formerly senior economist at the World Bank’s Beijing office, has linked the protests to displacement and dislocation caused by China’s economic model. In the 1990s, worker lay-offs caused by economic reforms affected 50 million workers. In the last few years, the biggest cause of unrest has become the takeover of farmlands and forcible evictions for urban growth, industries, shopping malls and infrastructure projects.

In December 2005, villagers of Dongzhou village, Guangdong province, protested the setting up of a power plant. In January 2006, thousands of protesters clashed with police over inadequate compensation for farmland acquired for industrial use in Panlong village, Sanjiao township, Guangdong province. In April 2005, 20,000 peasants from several villages in Zhejiang province, who had been complaining for four years of industrial pollution that had ruined their agricultural livelihood, clashed with police. The factories were eventually shut down and protest leaders were arrested. Still earlier in 2004, about 90,000 villagers protested impending displacement by a hydro-electric dam in western China, and the authorities had to impose martial law to quell the agitations. Most protests have been peaceful, but some have resorted to violence. In August 2005, unemployed residents of Daye, Hubei province, attacked government offices and destroyed cars after police used dogs to break up a demonstration over an official plan to annex Daye to a larger city, Huangshi.

In Guangzhou, according to the police, forcible evictions constituted nearly one-fourth of protest activities in the city in 2003-04.

Sounds familiar? It should. Everyday in newspapers, one reads of such protests in India. The unrest in West Bengal, at Singur (against a proposed automobile plant of the Tatas) and Nandigram (against a proposed Special Economic Zone for a chemical complex), are the latest to hit the headlines. But they have been preceded by dozens more in only the last two years. Since January 2006, adivasis facing eviction by a proposed Tata steel plant in Kalinganagar, Orissa, have blocked the road under the banner of the Visthapan Virodhi Janmanch. Their farmer counterparts in Keonjhar have protested the proposed Arcelor Mittal steel plant. Thirty thousand farmers protested against a Reliance Special Economic Zone (SEZ) outside the Commissioner's office in Navi Mumbai in September 2006. Villagers slated to be displaced by three SEZs around Pune rallied on October 6, 2006. In Sonepat district, Haryana, the Bharatiya Kisan Union has led protests by 12 villages against the government's plan to set up the Rajiv Gandhi Education City on prime agricultural land. Adivasi and peasant movements in Jharkhand led to a mass protest in November 2005 against the industrialization policy of the state. Thousands of fisherfolk on Orissa’s coasts have protested the proposed handing over of vast areas for the Dhamra and Posco ports, expansion of the Gopalpur port, and offshore oil drilling by Reliance and ONGC. Their counterparts in Tamil Nadu have physically tried to stop work on the controversial Sethu Samudran project in the Gulf of Mannar. On December 18, 2006, 15,000 adivasis and dalits rallied in Harda, Madhya Pradesh, against the state government’s proposals to hand over huge tracts of lands to private companies. In Manipur, indigenous peoples’ organisations have held several protest demonstrations against plans to build big hydro-electric dams that will take away forests and cultivated lands. These are but a handful of examples amongst hundreds in the last few years.

There are no consolidated figures of public protests in India, so it is difficult to say whether we are winning this race against China or not. But if not already, we will soon. The Indian State’s blind pursuit of the figure 10 has given birth to programmes like the SEZ, and to the opening up of even sensitive tribal areas for mining, industries, and tourism complexes. SEZs are particularly brazen, with the government virtually treating them like ‘foreign territory’, granting them a range of exemptions from Indian laws. With about 400 on the anvil, SEZs are
taking up enormous chunks of rural land (farms, pastures, other common lands), with the worst affected being marginal farmers. In many places, farmers are not taking this lying down; they are protesting, vehemently and sometimes violently. Interestingly, many of the protests reported from China are from their SEZs or similar areas given preferential treatment…and it is from them that we have taken the cue for this new form of internal colonialism.

Several analysts have linked China’s unrest to the growing inequities generated by the current economic growth model. By 2005, the country’s Gini coefficient, a measure of income inequality, had reached between 0.45 and 0.53 (from about 0.34 in 1999), one of the highest in Asia (a measure of 1 is total inequity, in which one person owns all the wealth). Such inequities are reported to be on the rise in India since the process of globalisation began, with a visibly growing gap between a tiny minority who are shooting into the lists of the global rich, and the vast majority who remain impoverished. In 2005, the Gini coefficient for India was calculated at between 0.37 and 0.42, depending on which source one took. These inequities are manifested in the increasingly conspicuous luxurious lifestyles of the elite, and are obvious sources of resentment and anger. It is a matter of shame that 15 years after the ‘economic reforms’ catapulted us into the globalised economy, India as a superpower ranks only 126th (out of 177 countries) on the UNDP’s Human Development Index. Even amongst 102 developing countries, it ranks only 55th. Most indicators of human welfare are abysmal, with countries having much slower economic growth rates doing much better. Public health expenditure at 1.2% of GDP and public expenditure on education at 3.3% are amongst the world’s lowest. Sanitation and water access have shown marked improvement, but nearly 70% of the population still does not have improved sanitation. 47% of children below 5 are underweight, 30% of the population is below the officially defined poverty line. Even as we celebrate the entry of some Indians into the world’s billionaires list, 80% of the population earns less than Rs 90 a day. India’s shining growth rate is concentrating benefits in a tiny section of its population…why would the massive numbers of people left out in the cold not protest?

An interesting aspect of China’s economic growth is the heavy concentration of industries and infrastructure along its coast. Not surprising, given its export orientation. Again, the parallel with India is striking. Very many of the approximately 250 SEZs so far approved are close to the coast. The Indian government is actively considering diluting the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) notification, which had to some extent kept destructive development away from many sensitive coastal stretches. The proposed changes, based on the recommendations of a committee headed by M S Swaminathan, would considerably weaken environmental regulations. Large-scale commercial development would inevitably threaten fragile ecosystems and millions of fisherfolk and coastal farmers, as already witnessed for instance in the SEZ being set up on the Kutch coast in Gujarat. Fisher people across India have already led a series of mass protests against the takeover of their waters and lands, a movement that will only intensify with the proposed changes in the CRZ notification and with more SEZs being approved. Large-scale social destabilisation of India’s coasts can surely not be a recipe for a secure future.

Public unrest is bound to grow elsewhere too. Across much of India, there has in the past been a spirit of tolerance, indifference, or sheer helplessness to a range of injustices. This has subdued the potential for protest. But as people get pushed further against the wall, as civil society actors facilitate greater social mobilisation, and as communities increasingly find their voice, this will change. As has happened in China, where dissent has long been suppressed. Open expressions of anger and resentment will only increase, and undoubtedly some will be violent.

What is most worrying is the response of the Indian State. Will it react in the same way as the Chinese government? President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao have noted the significance of the protests, and even acknowledged that they have to do with some failures of the State. But their dominant response till recently has been to clamp down on what they call “mass incidents”. Several provincial governments have dealt with protesters harshly. The Dongzhou agitation was subdued by police opening fire and killing between 3 and 20 farmers (depending on which source one believes). Three hundred hired thugs were sent in to beat up farmers camping in protest on land taken over for a power plant in Dingzhou (Hebei province). A video shot by a brave farmer shows men armed with pipes, knives and guns brutally attacking the villagers. In October 2004, armed police opened fire on 10,000 farmers facing relocation because of a new dam in Ya’an, Sichuan, killing at least one protester; in retaliation, the crowd killed two policemen. Dozens of protestors and supporters of movements have simply disappeared in various parts of the country.

Democracy in India makes it much harder for the government to clamp down on dissent. Nevertheless, if trends continue, we too will head the same way. On March 14, 2007, at least 14 people were killed by police firing indiscriminately at a public protest against the proposed SEZ at Nandigram in West Bengal. In January 2006, 13 adivasis (and two policemen) were killed in Kalinganagar in clashes over the construction of a boundary wall for Tata’s proposed steel plant. Farmers protesting the seizure of their land for a SEZ in Mann, Maharashtra, faced police bullets on March 9, 2006. On March 27, 2006, fisherfolk at Dibbapalem village of Visakhapatnam district, Andhra Pradesh, were fired upon because they had raised their voice against evictions for the proposed Gangavaram Port and five-lane road. At least one fishworker was killed, several injured. In Kinnaur, Himachal Pradesh, over a dozen tribal people were injured in police firing at the construction site of the Karcham-Wantoo hydro-electric dam which threatens to displace them. Section 144 or other prohibitory orders have been commonly used by district administrations to quell agitations, even when peaceful; well-known are the ones in adivasi districts of Orissa and Singur in West Bengal. There are increasing signs of the government losing patience, and using strong-arm tactics. Is this what Chidambaram implied, knowingly or unknowingly, when he said “dissent will be brushed aside”?

In China, the government has also imposed press censorship. Editors of all newspapers have been told not to report protests, and journalists covering such events have been imprisoned, harassed, or stripped of their jobs. This too may not happen immediately in India, for our press is still fiercely independent. But strangely, there is already some self-censorship creeping in, with several prominent dailies blanking out incidents of public protest unless the presence of celebrities makes them difficult to ignore.

One final worry is the reaction of the elite and upper middle classes. Being direct beneficiaries of the 10% economic growth model, and being in any case brought up to look at the poor with disdain, the increasing social unrest will only add to their bias. Protestors will be labeled irresponsible and anti-national, and as always, the victims will be blamed for the crime. Many of us will also blame vested political interests for the unrest, and undoubtedly a number of the agitations are fueled (or exploited) by such forces. But it would be a mistake to dismiss the increasing social unrest in this manner. Across the country, people are indeed being marginalised, evicted, dispossessed of the little they have, and very many of the movements have arisen spontaneously against this injustice, or at most been facilitated by civil society organisations which have a community base. To ignore them, or treat them as “politically motivated”, will not make the unrest go away.

If economic development is not drastically re-oriented to cater first to the needs of those who still live off the land, forests and water, or toil in our factories and construction sites (indeed those
who feed all of us and keep the country running through toil and labour) we face a future of increasing injustice and unrest. And undoubtedly, more violence. The State can choose to deal with this with strong-arm measures, or it can choose to bring in the economic, institutional and environmental changes in policy that would provide security to such people. Belatedly in China, the government is contemplating measures such as better management of land use, strengthening the legal system, protecting farmers’ land, raising rural incomes, increasing social spending on healthcare and education, and abolishing the national tax on farmers. These are necessary steps towards a comprehensive reassessment of the 10% economic growth model, which India would do well to heed. Piecemeal measures announced by the central government in response to growing protest, such as reducing the amount of land to be given to SEZs, or improving rehabilitation measures, are not going to make the crisis go away.

The choice is clear, and it has to be made soon if we are not to slip into a state of affairs so riddled with unrest that the government is tempted to repeat what Indira Gandhi once did: impose a state of internal emergency.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

The case for mistrusting Muslims - Los Angeles Times

The case for mistrusting Muslims - Los Angeles Times
The case for mistrusting Muslims
The latest terror plots are confronting tolerant Britons with uncomfortable choices.
By Theodore Dalrymple, THEODORE DALRYMPLE is the author of "Our Culture, What's Left of It: The Mandarins and the Masses."
July 8, 2007

ARRIVING IN BRITAIN by air the day after two men crashed a gasoline-laden Jeep Cherokee into the main terminal at Glasgow's international airport, and a couple of days after two car bombs were discovered in the heart of London, I was surprised by how calm everybody was.

Apart from the prohibition of passenger drop-off and pickup next to the terminal building at Birmingham Airport, everything was as usual. Men and women in Muslim garb mingled in the crowd with perfect tranquillity, expecting neither violence nor even verbal reproach.

Was this a sign of the admirable tolerance of British society, or of its bovine complacency born of an inability, or unwillingness, to make the effort to defend itself? Was it decency, cowardice or stupidity?

I really don't know anymore, which is an indication of the problem: Only time will tell, and by then it might be too late.

A friend who met me at the airport said something that must by now be true of many ordinary British people. Just as we used to wonder, on meeting Germans of a certain age, what they had done during World War II, so she wondered, when she found herself next to a young Muslim on a bus or a train, what he thought of the various bombings perpetrated by his co-religionists and whether he might be a bomber. She found herself looking for the nearest exit, as we are all enjoined to do by flight attendants before the plane takes off, in case of the need for swift exit.

There are reasonable grounds for suspicion, of course. Surveys — for whatever they are worth — show a surprising, and horrifying, degree of sympathy, if not outright support, for the bombers on the part of the young Muslim population of Britain. They show that a large number of Muslims in Britain want the implementation of Sharia law and think that murdering British Jews is justified simply because they are Jews. And when an atrocity is perpetrated by a Muslim, they evince no passion remotely comparable to that aroused by, say, the work of Salman Rushdie.

On the other hand, day-to-day relations with Muslims are often polite and friendly, and large numbers of Muslim small businessmen depend upon such relations with their non-Muslim customers for a living. This could change.

One of the most sinister effects of the efforts of the bombers and would-be bombers is that they have undermined trust completely. This is because those under investigation turn out not to be cranks or marginals but people who are either well-integrated into society, superficially at least, or who have good career prospects. They are not the ignorant and uneducated; quite the reverse. Seven people detained in the latest plot worked in the medical profession.

The perpetrators do not bomb because of personal grievance but because they have allowed themselves to be gripped by a stupid, though apparently quite popular, ideology: radical Islam. Nor are they of one ethnic or national group only: We have had Somali, Pakistani, Arab, Jamaican, Algerian and British Muslim terrorists. This means, unfortunately, that no one can ever be quite sure whether a Muslim who appears polite and accommodating is not simultaneously contemplating mass murder. Deceit, after all, is one of the terrorists' deadliest weapons.

Mistrust of Muslims in Britain has developed quite quickly and could develop much further. In my youth, I traveled extensively in the Muslim world and lived for a time in Africa with a Muslim family without being aware of any hostility or antagonism on my part toward the religion or culture (had I been a woman, it might have been different, of course). Contrary to what the late Edward Said, author of the anti-Western "Orientalism," might have thought, I had inherited no anti-Muslim prejudice.

Now, despite friendly and long-lasting relations with many Muslims, my first reaction on seeing Muslims in the street is mistrust; my prejudice, far from having been inherited or inculcated early in life, developed late in response to events.

The fundamental problem is this: There is an asymmetry between the good that many moderate Muslims can do for Britain and the harm that a few fanatics can do to it. The 1-in-1,000 chance that a man is a murderous fanatic is more important to me than the 999-in-1,000 chance that he is not a murderous fanatic: If, that is, he is not especially valuable or indispensable to me in some way.

And the plain fact of the matter is that British society could get by perfectly well without the contribution even of moderate Muslims. The only thing we really want from Muslims is their oil money for bank deposits, to prop up London property prices and to sustain the luxury market; their cheap labor that we imported in the 1960s in a vain effort to bolster the dying textile industry, which could not find local labor, is now redundant.

In other words, one of the achievements of the bombers and would-be bombers is to make discrimination against most Muslims who wish to enter Britain a perfectly rational policy. This is not to say that the government would espouse it, other than surreptitiously by giving secret directions to visa offices around the world. But why should a country take an unnecessary risk without a compensatory benefit?

The problem causes deep philosophical discomfort to everyone who believes in a tolerant society. On the one hand we believe that every individual should be judged on his merits, while, on the other, we know it would be absurd and dangerous to pretend that the threat of terrorism comes from sections of the population equally.

History is full of the most terrible examples of what happens when governments and peoples ascribe undesirable traits to minorities, and no decent person would wish to participate in the crimes to which this ascription can give rise; yet it would also be folly to ignore sociological reality.

All that is needed, then, to deal with the present situation is the wisdom of Solomon.

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Arise Awake Stop not till the goal is reached. - Swami Vivekananda Swami ji is my inspiration, not as a monk but as a social reformer and for his universal-ism.