‘Liberation of a Monster’

WHY INTERNATIONAL TERRORIST POSADA CARRILES WALKS FREE IN US. Does blowing of civilian airliners, bombing of hotels or other civilian facilities constitute an act of terrorism? Anyone with a feeble sense of justice would definitely answer in the affirmative. But for the US such a categorization is dependent upon the way state department looks at such acts. If it is meant to damage the US then definitely ‘yes’ but if it is meant to damage its adversaries then such actions can not only be condoned but duly supported as well. The much debated case of the Cuban-American terrorist Possada Carilles who was instrumental in blowing up a civilian airliner killing 73 people is a case in point.

It was only last week that Louis Posada Carriles walked out of a New Mexico jail, free on bail. Posada was being held and tried for immigration charges in US but not in connection with the 1976 bombing of a Cuban airliner that killed 73 people. The Bush administration has consistently refused to extradite Posada to Venezuela or Cuba to stand trial for the airline bombing. In a statement, Castro said the Bush administration is allowing: “the liberation of [a] monster.” On Sunday, the Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez accused the US of protecting international terrorism and said that Posada Carriles, that his case should be taken to the United Nations. Cuba has also renewed calls for Posada’s extradition.

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Learning from China

Here is an article by Aseem Shrivastava, who suggests that there is a grimmer lesson to be learnt from China than the corporate flunkies would have us believe. Turning Mumbai into Shanghai? More like turning Nandigram into Shenzen…

The Indian Predicament
SEZS: Behind the Curtain

“Few cities anywhere have created wealth faster than Shenzhen, but the costs of its phenomenal success stare out from every corner: environmental destruction, soaring crime rates and the disillusionment and degradation of its vast force of migrant workers”

–“Chinese Success Story Chokes on Its Own Growth”

The New York Times, December 19, 2006.

Within the short span of a few decades China has become the envy of the world. Corporate managers across the globe lose sleep worrying about “the China price”. Real wages and working conditions rivaling those of industrializing, pauperizing Britain two centuries ago have enabled the country to leave far behind any global competitor who has to worry about such inconvenient matters as labor laws and environmental regulations. Thus has accelerated the inter-national race to the bottom that has generated fear since the early days of this phase of corporate globalization. The labor force in the global economy doubled overnight in the early 1990s (from 1400 to 2900 million) when China, India and the Eastern Bloc nations joined it after the fall of the Berlin Wall, under Bush I’s “New World Order.” If real wages and the share of wages in national income have fallen sharply in recent times, and if inequalities have risen dramatically at the same time, the answer to the riddle lies in this quiet accretion, cashed in on by China-based corporations who have set the pace. The logic of capital has inveigled the entire world into a race of totalitarianisms–which inevitably enrich the few and pauperize the many in

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Women, Muslims & Other Backward Castes

The staple that one grew up on, was the idea, that WE, the people of India, had through a consensus, decided to constitute ourselves into a nation – a secular, democratic, Socialist (as an after thought perhaps, once Gharibi had been hataoed) republic. One was told that the Executive, the legislature and the Judiciary were the pillars that kept a check on each other, thus ensuring that every one was kept in their place, and the pulls and pressures exerted by each on the other two were built into the state structure in order that every one stayed on the straight and narrow.

All this was however soon forgotten to be replaced by the lived experience of the machinations of an uncaring and callous executive and a by and large insensitive legislature. The only hope now was the Judiciary, the third pillar of parliamentary democracy, and one waited with baited breath for the honourable courts to deliver this nation of a billion and more from the collective mess in which the other two had placed the people of the largest democracy in the world.

Judicial activism became the proverbial straw that one clutched at and hoped for more such straws to keep a destitute nation afloat.

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From Informal to Illegal

The fight for city space, today, has gone far beyond the Master Plan. On the traffic signals of South Delhi, the Master Plan 2021 now rivals Paulo Coehlo in sales. Planning and the fight for urban space has, it seems, becomes everyone’s debate. On the surface, this is a fight about planning and order, about drawing the lines between formal/informal, legal/illegal, and public/private to prevent the “anarchy” that may result without planning.

Yet how do we understand “informality” and “illegality” in a city like Delhi? According to the Tejender Khanna Committee, appointed by the government and led by Delhi’s ex- Lt Governor, nearly 70% of the city lives in a state of semi-legality, mostly due to the DDA’s consistent failure to meet its own land acquisition and housing development targets over the last twenty years. Sainik Farms and the slums of Yamuna Pushta are, therefore, just as “informal” as each other, albeit in different ways. Yet the consequences of their informality are vastly different. Within the courts, the Master Plans and in public opinion, it is only the slum dwellers and the urban poor that have become “encroachers,” and the homes that they have lived in for decades “temporary” and “illegal.” In the context of poverty, it seems, informality very easily slides into illegality. Continue reading From Informal to Illegal

Celebrating difference in Southasia

Choles Ritchil, an activist and a leader of the Garo people living in the Modhupur Upozila under Tangail District in Bangladesh was found dead last month. Over the last three years, he had been leading a protest against the establishment of an Eco park in the forests around his village by the department of Forest. He was allegedly tortured brutally by the officers of the local army camp before dying.

Garos are a part of a large tribal minority, along with other hill people, known as pahadis, who are part of present-day Bangladesh, along side the large minority of Hindus. Bangladesh, as we know, was formerly East Pakistan and seceded from it after India fought a war against Pakistan in 1971. Its founder leader Sheikh Mujibur Rahman had said in his founding speech, “From today, you are all Bengalis.” Not all Bengalis are equal. Continue reading Celebrating difference in Southasia

Narendra Modi and Mallika Sarabhai

The Modi administration in Gujarat wants some more censorship, this time the programme is not even about the Gujarat riots:

Modi spent some precious time explaining to Ahluwalia that the TV project on development issues — including women’s empowerment, health, youth and human rights — was done without consulting the state even though these are state subjects.

And, so deep-rooted is Modi’s dislike for Sarabhai — because she has been at odds on various issues including the communal riots — that he is not leaving matters at that.

The BJP on Tuesday announced that it will stage a protest at the Doordarshan office here over Mallika’s project which gets two hours of airtime every day. Local producers are already up in arms against the project. [Times of India]

Here is a previous example of the price that Sarabhai has to pay fro speaking up against Modi.

Amnesty report on the fifth anniversary of the Gujarat carnage

Here. (.pdf)

1. The direct victims of that violence and their relatives continue to face serious challenges and obstacles in securing justice;

2. An overwhelming number of the criminal cases relating to the Gujarat violence remain un-investigated and unresolved, or closed with the result that the majority of he perpetrators of the violence have gone unpunished and remain at large in the state – this is despite the reopening of 1,594 cases for reinvestigation after the Supreme Court of India (Supreme Court) order in August 2004;

3. The plight of those internally displaced from their homes as a result of the violence is continuing one. As many as 5,000 families are living in “relief colonies” without basic amenities or official recognition from the Government of Gujarat. The Government of Gujarat however continues to assert that all those displaced as a result of the violence have been rehabilitated;

4. Human rights defenders, tenaciously engaged in pursuing justice for the victims of the violence, face frequent harassment;

5. There is an ongoing practice of social and economic boycotting of Muslim communities in the state.