Tag Archives: Vedanta

Thoothukudi Massacre – When State becomes Predator: Bobby Kunhu

Guest post by BOBBY KUNHU

Thoothukudi protests – Image courtesy LiveMint

On 22nd May 2018, in what cannot be imagined even in a dictatorial regime, the police in Thoothukudi, Tamil Nadu – a South Indian state opened fire to kill, on a group of peaceful protesters marching towards the district administration office demanding denial of permission for expansion and closure of the existing copper smelting plant of Sterlite. Sterlite is a subsidiary of the London based corporation Vedanta, which has been dumping toxic waste all over this town since 1998 resulting in widespread health hazards including increase in reports of cancer. This massacre is unimaginable even in the worst dictatorial regimes, because not only were known national and international legal norms and protocols in crowd/riot control violated, but also because the video clippings that have surfaced after the massacre seem to indicate sufficient premeditation – with a plainclothes sniper on the top of a van being ordered to kill at least one person. Continue reading Thoothukudi Massacre – When State becomes Predator: Bobby Kunhu

Why Should Adivasis Bear the Burden of ‘National Development’? Deba Ranjan

Guest post by DEBA RANJAN

On 25th August 2014 large number of armed police including CRPF with magisterial power reached at the top of the Baphlihill, where Utkal Alumina of Aditya Birla – Hindalco is continuously transporting bauxite through trucks to its Doraguda Alumina Plant. They started beating the villagers of Paikakupakhal. “They were in 25 four wheelers and one bus” Padman Nayak of the same village said. Many got the injured and three dalit villagers namely Mangaldan Nayak (30 years), Kalendra Nayak (30) and Ms Kiyabati Nayak got seriously injured. Kalendra got treatment outside but again was lifted from the Medical by the police so that he may not speak about such action of police to the outside world. Both print media and TV channels (except one newspaper) did not cover the incident. The local journalist of that newspaper later on was harassed by the goons not to write more on it.

I had been to Siju Mali few days before and went to the top of the Hill. It falls in Kashipur area of Odisha just behind the Niyamgiri hill. For last few months this Siju Mali and its adjacent Kutru Mali, two bauxite hill ranges, have been in news because the Vedanta International Limited (VIL) has kept its eyes on it.

After the Lok Sabha election, between April and November 2014, Anil Agrawal, director of VIL has met Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik thrice and every time he comes out with fully glowing remarks that the latter assured him of transferring the bauxite hills to the Company. It is quite possible too. Election experts have highlighted corporate funding behind Biju Janata Dal’s election campaign and the State Election Commission is unmoved on such complaints. Continue reading Why Should Adivasis Bear the Burden of ‘National Development’? Deba Ranjan

Vedanta-Sterlite – Dangerous by Design: Nityanand Jayaraman


Tuticorin Oct 2010 298

A toxic hotspot in the backyard of a house in Therkuveerapandiapuram, a village adjoining the Sterlite factory.  Dangerous levels of iron and arsenic were found in the soil here. (Picture by Nityanand Jayaraman)

On 23 March, 2013, a toxic gas leak from Vedanta-subsidary Sterlite’s copper smelter in Thoothukudi spread panic and discomfort for several kilometres around the plant. The leak once again highlighted the increased potential for major catastrophes due to an atmosphere of collusion between regulators and polluters. The company, which was shut down for maintenance, resumed operations in the early hours of 23 March. Within hours, people in the nearby areas complained of suffocation and eye and nose irritation. A 35-year old Bihari contract labourer, who was working at Sterlite’s thermal power plant nearly a kilometre away, reportedly succumbed to the effects of the toxic gas. Irate residents rallied to the District Collector’s office demanding permanent closure of the offending factory. Continue reading Vedanta-Sterlite – Dangerous by Design: Nityanand Jayaraman

An open letter to the jury of The Economic Times Awards for Global Excellence: G. Ananthapadmanabhan

This open letter has been put out by G. ANANTHAPADMANABHAN of Amnesty International (India)

Dear Mr Deepak Parekh, Mr Kumara Mangalam Birla, Mr K V Kamath, Mr Kris Gopalakrishnan, Mr A M Naik, Ms Chanda Kocchar and Mr Cyril Shroff,

We at Amnesty International India are deeply disappointed by your decision to give the Economic Times Business Leader of the Year 2012 award to Mr Anil Agarwal, Chairman of Vedanta plc.

The Business Leader award is given to individuals who have demonstrated “a strategic direction for success, and pursued a vision”. But Vedanta, in its efforts to have a bauxite mine opened at the Niyamgiri hills in Orissa and expand an aluminium refinery near Lanjigarh, has demonstrated an utter lack of both leadership and vision. What it has shown instead is a brazen disregard for Indian law and an utter lack of respect for the rights of local communities. Continue reading An open letter to the jury of The Economic Times Awards for Global Excellence: G. Ananthapadmanabhan

Creating Happiness – Rijul Kochhar

Guest post by RIJUL KOCHHAR


It is a minute and a half long, and from the moment you see it, you will know that there is something sinister about it—a scenario of forced forgetfulness. It is displacement incarnate, and what is it doing, this aesthetic of obscenity? Is this retribution or charity, or retribution through charity, the developmental discourse of murderous sustainability through erasure? You will be puzzled and worried, harried and then it will make you sleep again in pious numbness, for isn’t the world—its deep blue sky and crystal fluid and cleansing sunlight, and bright flowery faces, its innocent time—just so beautiful! You will find that you cannot respond to it, physically, humanly, for it is not receptive to the organic. It cannot be mediated. It is a ghoul, perched to haunt and hypnotize us out of the memory of its past terrors. You remember, lenore, and wasn’t it to be nevermore? It is an electrical transmission and nothing more, or is it? It is a triumph of pre-postmodern, oily chic, so cloaked in ancient blood, that the blood has caked and turned black and fallen off, revealing the identical colour of the master’s heart, now you see it, now you don’t. The laceration has been hidden by the three-day apoptosis—the extra-cellular matrix, the forgetful memory’s collagen. But you will need to dig outward and inward from here, and very deep. It is there on my screen, this light of blood-lust, “Vedanta: Creating Happiness”, and every time a new or repeated tale from half way across the world is beamed, news every quarter of an hour, this monstrosity accompanies those facts like some leech feeding on reality. You remember Sontag, and isn’t she who had her way with those words: “Now there is a master scenario available to everyone. The color is black, the material is leather, the seduction is beauty, the justification is honesty, the aim is ecstasy, the fantasy is death.”

Continue reading Creating Happiness – Rijul Kochhar

The New Face of Capitalist War and Duty of the Left:Progressive Students Union

This guest post is an appeal circulated by Progressive Students Union (PSU) – Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) – about the state’s war on “Maoist violence” , adding to the growing criticism of the CPI(Maoist) that cannot be conveniently dismissed as pro-state or anti-Left.

As has already been declared all across the national media, the state has declared war on “Maoist violence” across the country and is about to unleash its might on some of the most neglected regions and people of this country. While the Maoists are the declared target of the State, it is needless to say that they have hardly any qualms about “breaking a few eggs to make an omlette”! The thousands of adivasis and civilians going to be caught in the crossfire would be portrayed by the media as an inevitable but necessary price to pay for the eradication of the Naxal ‘menace’. That may well be only less than half the story, because another reason for state operations in this area is the immense mineral wealth there which can not be passed on to Indian capital unless adivasis living there are displaced, and their survival systems completely destroyed. According to reports from Chhatisgarh, the state sponsored Salwa Judum has displaced more than three hundred and fifty thousand adivasis in the old Bastar area. Fifty thousand have moved to neighbouring states, another fifty thousand are living under the surveillance of para-military forces in state controlled camps, the remaining two hundred and fifty thousand have moved deeper into the jungle to escape the violence and pillage of Salwa Judum. While the adivasis of Central India have faced, and resisted state violence for long, the Central Home Ministry – under the leadership of the suave and genteel Home Minister and Prime Minister –  has made plans for a larger offensive named ‘Operation Green Hunt’ (with the open possibility of aerial bombardment) to be launched in November this year. Progressive Students Union (PSU) condemns in the strongest terms these actions of the state which amounts to nothing but declaring war on its own citizens.

Continue reading The New Face of Capitalist War and Duty of the Left:Progressive Students Union

Ecstatic Archaisms of Aurobindo Ghose – Prasanta Chakravarty


In Reflections on Revolutionary Violence Aditya Nigam makes some nuanced points about the nature of Maoist violence and by contrast, comments on the bedrock character of democracy itself. Can we trace the sublime cult of blood and gore further down, to the founding principles of Forward Bloc, for instance? Or espy it in the millennial longings of a few Gita wielding swadeshis, for that matter? One may begin to see a pattern.

Continue reading Ecstatic Archaisms of Aurobindo Ghose – Prasanta Chakravarty