The media is all praise for the central government’s rescue efforts in Kashmir, despite the evident hollowness of the government’s claims to heroism. But the press has little to say about the brutal destruction authored by the government in its capital city. Thursday, September 11, saw another demolition drive in a city that has seen far too many of them, from the Emergency to the Commonwealth Games. The demolition took place in the South Delhi neighborhood of Aya Nagar, where residents say about 250 houses were destroyed.
“We won’t beat you at your house, we will beat you in the bazaar, in front of everyone!” A common caveat, often hurled at a dalit by an upper caste. But in this case, they were dalit men who spat this warning at a tribal family. A group of dalits in Alampur village, Sagar district, Madhya Pradesh are forcefully asserting their rights (since 2003) over a belt of forest land belonging to Balram, a tribal resident and his family. The family have farmed the five acres of land for 40 years and were finally awarded forest rights over it by the state government of Madhya Pradesh in 2009. Continue reading A Case of Dalit Assertion Over Adivasi Land: Agrima Bhasin→
This release comes via theNATIONAL ALLIANCE FOR PEOPLE’S MOVEMENTS
Nellore, September 18 : “Government of Andhra Pradesh has given licenses to 28 companies to establish thermal power plants with a total capacity of 32,000 MW. How can a fragile coastal zone can take up so much of ecological pressure ? Is this the way to plan the needs of electricity for development ?” asked the delegates who had come from different parts of the State and joined by eminent social activists Medha Patkar, Sandeep Pandey, Banwari Lal Sharma, Gabriele Dietrich, Sister Celia, Manoj Tyagi, Viveknanad Mathane, P Chennaiah, Ramakrishnam Raju and others. Jan Sansad was hosted by NAPM and Jana Vigyan Vedika at the premises of Nehru Yuva Kendra, Nellore. Continue reading ‘Jan Sansad demands a Development Planning Act not an Act to Facilitate Land Acquisition’→
This is a guest post byARATI CHOKSIwith photographs byAYUSH RANKA
POSCO catapulted out of nowhere into the periphery of my imagination last year. On May 15, 2010, in a brutal show of aggression and violence, armed police battalions attacked unarmed protesters at Balitutha opposing a forceful takeover of their lands by the state for a POSCO steel plant. Members of police force set fire to shops, eateries and thatched homes, including the dharna site of people’s peaceful protest. Police fired upon unarmed protesters with rubber bullets. One person died, and hundreds were severely injured in this firing, many of these were women and the elderly. Continue reading POSCO and the People: Ayush Ranka and Arati Choksi→
A number of activists from the South Asia Solidarity Initiative (SASI) in New York have initiated a reading group on South Asia. The notes below are the first in a series of commentaries following reading discussions that some members of the reading group hope to post on Kafila. This is an attempt to broaden the discussions and in the process make it a productive dialogue to understand developments in the region and deepen our solidarity.
Reading Land and Reform in Pakistan
— Svati Shah, Prachi Patankar and Ahilan Kadirgamar
Given the escalation of a multifaceted war in Pakistan, and given our own commitment to a peace with justice in South Asia, we have started reading and discussing issues of importance in Pakistan and South Asia more broadly. This inquiry is informed by the alarming and rapidly changing situation in Pakistan, and by an interest in interrogating the category ‘South Asia’ itself. While all are agreed that the term ‘South Asia’ is indispensable, we wonder how ‘South Asia’ could be used to describe more than a region or a set of places outlined by shared borders. We wonder how we can move beyond the limitations of finding historical unity in South Asia primarily through the lens of British colonialism? We wonder how we could describe the political unities and potential solidarities of ‘South Asia’ in this moment? We find it particularly helpful to approach these questions by seeing common issues in the region relating to labour, land and the role of the state in societies in South Asia. At the same time, we want to move away from the received notions of South Asia, whether they be the statist conceptions of SAARC, South Asia as seen by the US State Department or, for that matter, as a region defined by area studies.
[The transformation of the agenda of the mainstream left in Kerala is beginning to produce resistance, and nowhere is this more visible than at Chengara in the south eastern Pathanamthitta district. The ongoing struggle for land there brings into relief not just the denial of productive resources to the real tillers of the soil – the Dalits – in Kerala’s land reforms, but also the shift of the left from the fight against inequality to the distribution of ‘minimum entitlements’. It also draws attention to the manner in which a ‘state-centric’ civil society, mainly the large network of poor women’s self-help groups sponsored by the State’s poverty eradication “Mission’, has been authorized as ‘authentic civil society’. All claims made outside these formal institutions are thereby rendered illegitimate and indeed, ‘against the law’. At Chengara, the protestors have been resisting the combined force of the state and the major political parties, laying claims to productive resources – and rejecting ‘minimum entitlements’. Indeed, the darker side of ‘democratic decentralization’ in Kerala, the ‘new Kerala Model’, as it has been called by its admirers, is the implicit legitimacy it grants to blatant violence unleashed upon people who struggle for economic equality, who do not find ‘minimum entitlements’ the solution to rampant and growing economic inequalities in contemporary Kerala. No wonder, then, that the Chief Minister of Kerala felt no qualms in warning the leader of the Chengara land struggle, Laha Gopalan, that if the protestors did not peacefully return to their villages (where they could put in applications for 3 or 5 cents of land for housing), they would have to encounter “police with horns and thorns” – in other words, not just armed police, but a bestial force. Nandigram, in short.
The struggle, however, remains vibrant and growing. Below is a translated version of a speech made by leading Dalit activist and intellectual, Sunny M Kapicadu, at a night-vigil organized in support of the ongoing land struggle in Thiruvananthapuram on 7 March 2008, in which he defends the struggle against powerful efforts to malign and undermine it.– JD ]Continue reading Beyond just a ‘Home and a Name’→
In mid-November, a pro-tribal outfit, the Adivasi Rehabilitation Council, demanded that the Kerala Government hand over to them, land leased to Hindustan Newsprint Ltd. The Adivasis had been given title deeds to this land in 2003, when A K Antony was chief minister, but it was never handed over. They dispersed after local revenue officials assured that this would be done.
But when nothing was done about it, the tribals regrouped and went into the land again, building little huts and vowing to start farming. Around November 26th, the 200-odd families were physically removed by truck-loads of CPM cadre.
J Devikaon the need for a new perspective on Left politics:
When the CPM-led LDF coalition swept into power in the elections to the Kerala State Legislative Assembly in 2006, the victory was widely interpreted to be the individual triumph of V S Achuthanandan, who seemed to be nothing less than the personification of Principled-Opposition-to-the-State-and-Global-Capital. During the campaign, VS received the mantle of A K Gopalan, whose brilliant strategies of mass mobilization and militancy had made him the most admired and best-loved of all communists in Kerala. Throughout Kerala, life-size posters of a smiling VS proclaimed him Paavangalude Padatthalavan (NM – something like garibon ka masiha)