In response to an article by Mr Shekhar Gupta ‘The Bleeding Heartless’ in the Indian Express, June 1 2013, I sent the letter reproduced below on 3 June 2013, which has not yet been carried by Indian Express. I try not to respond polemically to articles which disagree with my views on public policy or other issues, as these differences are perfectly legitimate in a democracy. And who is to be sure that I am right, and my critics are wrong? But this was different, because it utterly falsely described my ideological position on Maoism as sympathetic, whereas I have always been passionately and publicly opposed to all forms of violence, including Maoist violence. Moreover it linked this to my membership in the NAC, and through that by implication to the many pro-poor agendas I sought to bring into and support within the NAC in the two years that I was a member. Finally Indian Express did not check with me the full facts reported in the opinion piece. I therefore felt I should respond formally to the report. But since this response has not been carried, and on the other hand it is being publicly referred to by others as well, I felt it would be best to place this reply in the public domain. – Harsh Mander Continue reading Disinformation and Journalistic Ethics: A Letter from Harsh Mander
The International Alliance for Defence of Human Rights in India (IADHRI) is based in the US and has participated in the campaigns for the release of Dr. Binayak Sen, Kopa Kunjam and now more recently Soni Sori and Lingaram Kodopi.
On August 5th, The Indian Express published a disturbing, supposedly investigative story on Soni Sori, implying both that she was guilty of the charge of being a Maoist as well as casting doubt on the activists in India and outside who support her, and who are mainly responsible for bringing into the open the fact that she was and continues to be tortured in prison.
The IADHRI has written this response to the story, rebutting it point by point.
[The following is a statement issued by concerned individuals regarding the sponsorship of the ‘Excellence in Journalism’ awards organized by the Indian Express.]
On January 10 and 11, 2012, half page advertisements in the Indian Express (IE) newspaper (at least in the Delhi edition) announced that on Jan 16, 2012 the IE Excellence in Journalism Awards will be given. The advertisement also said that the main sponsor is Jaypee Group and among other sponsors include the Mahyco Monsanto.
One may recall that Indian Express has been on a campaign mode advocating big dams in general. It has been specifically campaigning against the movements like the Narmada Bachao Andolan. In March April 2006 the paper specifically ran a campaign against NBA and also against the then Union Minister Prof Saifuddin Soz. In Oct 2010 the paper ran a campaign for large hydro projects in the North East India when the then Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh held an open public hearing on these projects in Guwahati and then wrote to the Prime Minister, raising concerns about so many hydro projects being taken up in NE India and the impacts thereof.
Guest post by SHALINI SHARMA
It hardly needs any corroboration that the Bhopal Movement led by survivors of the world’s worst industrial disaster adheres to the principles of non- violence as dearly as they adhere to their demands of justice and accountability. However, on the 3rd of December 2011, as thousands of Bhopal gas victims walked towards the city’s railway lines they had little idea that their act of civil disobedience, marking the 27th Anniversary of the disaster, would be sabotaged by the government and that they would be treated like a violent mob.
Anniversary actions are usually treated as rituals by the media. This occasion was different because even though chakka jaam (block the road) has been organised on several previous occasions, the call for blocking the trains or rail roko was an unusual decision. These survivor-led groups were asking the State government to provide the Supreme Court with the right data related to the number of deaths and actual extent of injuries due to the gas exposure.
This post is dedicated to a Facebook friend who, when I asked her her caste, replied: “Now, now, now! In any case, with the brouhaha surrounding the census, what’s the proper form these days? Mention of caste in or out?”
I woke up to this headline in The Indian Express today. My reaction was to wonder what many others’ reaction would have been? Those who argue that reservation and ‘caste census’ and such measures serve to solidify caste identities rather than weaken them – I wonder what they would make of this headline? Continue reading Jats rock, caste shocks
Even as the rejection of Vedanta’s application to mine in Niyamgiri is being widely hailed as a victory for tribal rights, there is of course one set of very predictable voices, which has leapt in to start damage control for their corporate heroes. Thus one such cheerleader of Capital tells us that the ‘real twist’ in the script is that the ‘denial of bauxite mining in Niyamgiri’ can mean disaster for the future of a poor region and a poor state!
On the other hand, a statement by the Campaign for Survival and Dignity – a platform of tribal and forest dwellers’ organizations from all over the country has hailed the decision, arguing that: “The project’s main problem was that it violated the Forest Rights Act’s provisions requiring ‘recognition of habitat and community forest rights’ and the consent of the gram sabha prior to taking forest land. This sounds like technical legalisms. But the basic point is that, under the law, the Dongria Kondhs have the power to protect and manage their forests and lands. Simple, but unprecedented; it has never happened before.”
For our scribe however, the “really nuanced” stories of Niyamgiri are not those of the tribals and forest dwellers. They come from “the likes of Raju Sahu who came from Bihar to Kalahandi 10 years ago and runs four tea/food stalls on the state highway that links Lanjigarh – where Niyamgiri and the Vedanta factory are situated – to Bhawanipatna, the district HQ”. Sahu apparently told our journalist-investigator that his business has more than trebled in the last four years since Vedanta started operations there. This is true for any big economic enterprise that gets set up – a large number of small businesses sprout up around it. There would be as many stories about poor people who benefited from the life that grew up around say, giant public sector units – the end of which is celebrated by these cheerleaders of Capital. Will the perishing of those small businesses as a fall-out of the closure of PSU’s be accepted by our nuanced story-teller as a justification for the continuation of PSU’s? Never. For we know that there are always different standards for judging the merits of corporate marauders. You can tell even before you start reading a column by a Shekhar Gupta or a Tavleen Singh or a Saubhik Chakrabarti, what is coming – be it Niyamgiri, Bhopal and Union Carbide, the loot of the Commonwealth Games or the studied silence on matters relating to DIAL and GMR. And sometimes, just sometimes, we happen to know why…
The CPI (Maoist) has issued a statement after the killing of the CRPF men in Dantewada. You would imagine that the statement should be all over the media. If you Google you will find it here and there, and if you’ve been reading the papers I won’t blame you for missing it. It’s buried in the inside pages today, and only the Hindustan Times yesterday had put it on its front page. This is not surprising considering that after the CRPF killings the media has gone into war mode. It’s war out there, they’re saying again and again. Anchors are shouting, news-magazines are declaring war and calling the Indian state impotent and the top editors are saying it’s a turning point, ab bas bahut ho gaya, now let’s just shoot ’em dead. What, no air strikes? get real guys.