(too old to reply)
2010-03-17 13:11:21 UTC
India will win in the end

I fully understand – and love Hussain’s paintings and art work --
knowing where he comes from (Bollywood poster art). I’ve called the
immensely popular Baba Ramdev “an idiot” on TV and got enough hate
mail. In Bombay, despite the Shiv Sena’s threats, I continue to edit
and publish a gay and lesbian magazine called ‘”Bombay Dost” and have
even sent copies to Bal Thackeray for reviewing in his stupid
newspaper ‘Saamna”. I even wrote a letter to his nephew to get out of
Bombay as it belonged to my Mother’s family (her family temple still
stands safe from Muslim marauders at Banganga at South Bombay’s tip at
Walkeshwar (Walu means sand and Keshwar is another name for Shiva with
his matted hair).

India is a huge jigsaw puzzle and you must love the whole picture to
understand how to navigate it. For example, I would support Taslima
Nasreen because she is a Muslim who challenges Islam from “within
Islamic tradition”. I will NOT support Hussain because he is a Muslim
suddenly seeing “purity”: in depicting Hindu goddesses in the nude. He
happens to be Muslim and let him interpret Islam from within Muslim
tradition and not give me lectures how much of Tulsidas’ Ramayana he
knows. When asked why he did not paint Mohamed’s wife Ayesha in the
nude, his answer was:” But Muslims won’t tolerate that” says it all.

You must know Hinduism takes to “shashtrarth” (shredding the
scriptures and analyzing them ruthlessly) seriously and I have stood
within orthodox gatherings of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad known as the
most intolerant of the right wing Hindus and talked about “Our
Homosexual Heritage” without a single person throwing stones at me. I
dare Hussain or any Muslim gay man to do that at a gathering of devout
Muslims. Or Christians for all I care. One of my Christian kids did
that at a Christian-Muslim gathering and they threw shoes at him. He’s
converted to Kali worshup in retaliation...

If you don’t know your India then don’t interpret it for these damn
Feringis and their followers. I don’t care to say more than that.

Hinduism will find her feet and she will find it though every kind of
discourse and discussion. But that will be W-I-T-H-I-N the four
corners of the Indic Dharma as even the Akali-Sikhs are realizing
after their followers got beheaded in the cesspool called Pakistan.

India will win in the end

Ashok Row Kavi


Husain and Hinduism

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No one has said Husain "hates Hinduism". He is accused of treating
without respect the objects of Hindu worship. It does not matter what
Hindu holy books he has read, or even what he thinks of them.

If he wants to be judged by the same standards as devout Hindu artists
who have depicted sexuality as an aspect of the divine he must enter
the same devotional path. To do anything else is to be a hypocrite..

Bhaskar Menon


None owns a religion

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No one owns a religion, God or the books, they are public universal
figures and respected by any one who chooses to, but every one has a
right to speak about it; good, bad or ugly. Freedom of speech
ultimately brings the justice and balance to the society.

The loud Muslims, Jews, Hindus or Christians do not represent the
overwhelming majority of the people and I hope the media catches that,
and shares it with the universe.

Prophets Cartoons became a mess, because a few Muslims chose to make a
mess of it, despite the appeal including my own, to follow the
prophet's example; to pray for goodwill to prevail. Muslims did not
care about the Fatwa on Rushdie, a few Bushes among them carried it
forward any way, despite the majority' non-consensus. The more these
radicals show irritation, the more the temptation to irritate.

We represent the views of a great majority of moderates, but some of
us in public are gutless, if we don't condemn the cartoons, or Hussain
himself, then we are bad guys; the right wingers are a few but have
the capacity to bark in concert... and ascribe as though majority of
Muslims or Hindus support them.

As a Journalist, what would you do to communicate to the world at
large, that the outrage does not represent the majority?

Mike Ghouse


India is a mess, says travel writer

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The overwhelming reasons for why India is NOT a good place to live in,
despite all of its current and expected continuing economic boom.

If you are Indian, or of Indian descent, I must preface this post with
a clear warning: you are not going to like what I have to say. My
criticisms may be very hard to stomach. But consider them as the hard
words and loving advice of a good friend. Someone who’s being honest
with you and wants nothing from you.

These criticisms apply to all of India except Kerala and the places I
didn’t visit, except that I have a feeling it applies to all of India,
except as I mentioned before, Kerala.

Lastly, before anyone accuses me of Western Cultural Imperialism, let
me say this: if this is what India and Indians want, then hey, who am
I to tell them differently. Take what you like and leave the rest. In
the end it doesn’t really matter, as I get the sense that Indians, at
least many upper class Indians, don’t seem to care and the lower
classes just don’t know any better, what with Indian culture being so
intense and pervasive on the sub-continent. But here goes,

India is a mess. It’s that simple, but it’s also quite complicated.
I’ll start with what I think are India’s four major problems–the four
most preventing India from becoming a developing nation–and then move
to some of the ancillary ones.

First, pollution. In my opinion the filth, squalor and all around
pollution indicates a marked lack of respect for India by Indians. I
don’t know how cultural the filth is, but it’s really beyond anything
I have ever encountered. At times the smells, trash, refuse and
excrement are like a garbage dump.

Right next door to the Taj Mahal was a pile of trash that smelled so
bad, was so foul as to almost ruin the entire Taj experience. Delhi,
Bangalore and Chennai to a lesser degree were so very polluted as to
make me physically ill. Sinus infections, ear infection, bowels
churning was an all to common experience in India. Dung, be it goat,
cow or human fecal matter was common on the streets. In major tourist
areas filth was everywhere, littering the sidewalks, the roadways, you
name it. Toilets in the middle of the road, men urinating and
defecating anywhere, in broad daylight.

Whole villages are plastic bag wastelands. Roadsides are choked by it.
Air quality that can hardly be called quality. Far too much coal and
far to few unleaded vehicles on the road. The measure should be how
dangerous the air is for one’s health, not how good it is. People
casually throw trash in the streets, on the roads.

The only two cities that could be considered sanitary in my journey
were Trivandrum–the capital of Kerala–and Calicut. I don’t know why
this is. But I can assure you that at some point this pollution will
cut into India’s productivity, if it already hasn’t. The pollution
will hobble India’s growth path, if that indeed is what the country
wants. (Which I personally doubt, as India is far too conservative a
country, in the small ‘c’ sense.)

More after the jump..

The second issue, infrastructure, can be divided into four
subcategories: roads, rails and ports and the electrical grid. The
electrical grid is a joke. Load shedding is all too common, everywhere
in India. Wide swaths of the country spend much of the day without the
electricity they actually pay for. Without regular electricity,
productivity, again, falls.

The ports are a joke. Antiquated, out of date, hardly even appropriate
for the mechanized world of container ports, more in line with the
days of longshoremen and the like. Roads are an equal disaster. I only
saw one elevated highway that would be considered decent in Thailand,
much less Western Europe or America. And I covered fully two thirds of
the country during my visit.

There are so few dual carriage way roads as to be laughable. There are
no traffic laws to speak of, and if there are, they are rarely obeyed,
much less enforced. A drive that should take an hour takes three. A
drive that should take three takes nine. The buses are at least thirty
years old, if not older.

Everyone in India, or who travels in India raves about the railway
system. Rubbish. It’s awful. Now, when I was there in 2003 and then
late 2004 it was decent. But in the last five years the traffic on the
rails has grown so quickly that once again, it is threatening
productivity. Waiting in line just to ask a question now takes thirty
minutes. Routes are routinely sold out three and four days in advance
now, leaving travelers stranded with little option except to take the
decrepit and dangerous buses.

At least fifty million people use the trains a day in India. 50
million people! Not surprising that waitlists of 500 or more people
are common now.

The rails are affordable and comprehensive but they are overcrowded
and what with budget airlines popping up in India like Sadhus in an
ashram the middle and lowers classes are left to deal with the over
utilized rails and quality suffers. No one seems to give a shit.

Seriously, I just never have the impression that the Indian government
really cares. Too interested in buying weapons from Russia, Israel and
the US I guess.

The last major problem in India is an old problem and can be divided
into two parts that’ve been two sides of the same coin since
government was invented: bureaucracy and corruption.

It take triplicates to register into a hotel. To get a SIM card for
one’s phone is like wading into a jungle of red-tape and photocopies
one is not likely to emerge from in a good mood, much less satisfied
with customer service.

Getting train tickets is a terrible ordeal, first you have to find the
train number, which takes 30 minutes, then you have to fill in the
form, which is far from easy, then you have to wait in line to try and
make a reservation, which takes 30 minutes at least and if you made a
single mistake on the form back you go to the end of the queue, or
what passes for a queue in India.

The government is notoriously uninterested in the problems of the
commoners, too busy fleecing the rich, or trying to get rich
themselves in some way shape or form. Take the trash for example,
civil rubbish collection authorities are too busy taking kickbacks
from the wealthy to keep their areas clean that they don’t have the
time, manpower, money or interest in doing their job.

Rural hospitals are perennially understaffed as doctors pocket the
fees the government pays them, never show up at the rural hospitals
and practice in the cities instead.

I could go on for quite some time about my perception of India and its
problems, but in all seriousness, I don’t think anyone in India really
cares. And that, to me, is the biggest problem. India is too
conservative a society to want to change in any way.

Mumbai, India’s financial capital is about as filthy, polluted and
poor as the worst city imaginable in Vietnam, or Indonesia–and being
more polluted than Medan, in Sumatra is no easy task. The biggest rats
I have ever seen were in Medan!

One would expect a certain amount of, yes, I am going to use this
word, backwardness, in a country that hasn’t produced so many Nobel
Laureates, nuclear physicists, eminent economists and entrepreneurs.
But India has all these things and what have they brought back to
India with them? Nothing.

The rich still have their servants, the lower castes are still there
to do the dirty work and so the country remains in status. It’s a
shame. Indians and India have many wonderful things to offer the
world, but I’m far from sanguine that India will amount to much in my

Now, have at it, call me a cultural imperialist, a spoiled child of
the West and all that. But remember, I’ve been there. I’ve done it.
And I’ve seen 50 other countries on this planet and none, not even
Ethiopia, have as long and gargantuan a laundry list of problems as
India does.

And the bottom line is, I don’t think India really cares. Too
complacent and too conservative.

Sean Paul Kelley

(Sean Paul Kelley is a travel writer. He founded The Agonist, in 2002,
which is still considered the top international affairs, culture and
news destination for progressives. He is also the Global Correspondent
for The Young Turks, on satellite radio and Air America.)


Taslima Nasreen’s statement

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Taslima's article sparks violence in Karnataka, 2 killed, the article
is followed by my commentary and Quotes from Quraan.

The Indian Muslim clergy and the leadership needs to jump in on this.
As an individual she has the right to express her opinions whether we
agree or not, as much as any one has a right to condemn her

The major mistake Muslims are making is not to have a debate with her
on the issues, that's the civil and democratic thing to do. She will
lose the debate "She told the Muslim women to burn the Burqa" as if
she will start wearing a skirt if a westerner says "Burn the Saree, it
is a sign of backwardness". Neither is a sign of backwardness, it is a
culture that has evolved and no one will drop what they are used to on
the sound of a word 'drop'. In a democracy, people should have the
freedom to speak; the best way to combat a bad idea is to offer good
ideas to compete.

The major mistake Muslims are making is not to have a debate with her
on the issues. They did not have enough faith in their culture or
religion to debate. Taslima would have easily lost in a debate from a
few intellectuals and most likely she would not have gone on the
attack binge.

Ms. Nasreen is a bellyacher and not a reformer. A reformer brings
solutions to the issues and presents his or her research and asks the
scholars to review and build consensus for a gradual acceptance of the
proposed ideas. Instead, she agitates and builds resentment and does
exactly opposite of what she claims to do; reform. Her approach is
wrong and her statements may please the Islam-bashers and earn some
circulation. However, her opinion does not affect the world or the
religion of Islam.

The take of Quraan on this at: Link:

Mike Ghouse



Dr. Abdul Kalam's Letter to Every Indian

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Why is the media in India so negative?

Why are we in India so embarrassed to recognize our own strengths, our

We are such a great nation. We have so many amazing success stories
but we refuse to acknowledge them. Why?

We are the first in milk production.

We are number one in Remote sensing satellites.

We are the second largest producer of wheat.

We are the second largest producer of rice.

Look at Dr. Sudarshan , he has transferred the tribal village into a
self-sustaining, self-driving unit. There are millions of such
achievements but our media is only obsessed in the bad news and
failures and disasters.

I was in Tel Aviv once and I was reading the Israeli newspaper. It was
the day after a lot of attacks and bombardments and deaths had taken
place. The Hamas had struck. But the front page of the newspaper had
the picture of a Jewish gentleman who in five years had transformed
his desert into an orchid and a granary. It was this inspiring picture
that everyone woke up to. The gory details of killings, bombardments,
deaths, were inside in the newspaper, buried among other news.


On line petition to Penguin re. Doniger’s book

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http://www.petitiononline.com/dharma10/petition.html This is an
earnest request to you to sign the online petition and forward it to
your friends for signature.

The petition to the Penguin Group asks for an apology for the
publication of the factually incorrect and offensive book “The Hindus-
An Alternative History” by Wendy Doniger. We expect Penguin Group to
withdraw the book immediately. “The Hindus: An Alternative History” is
rife with numerous errors in its historical facts and Sanskrit
translations. These errors and misrepresentations are bound and
perhaps intended to mislead students of Indian and Hindu history. .

Throughout the book, Doniger analyzes revered Hindu Gods and Goddess
using her widely discredited psychosexual Freudian theories that
modern, humanistic psychology has deemed limiting. These
interpretations are presented as hard facts and not as speculations.
Doniger makes various faulty assumptions about the tradition in order
to arrive at her particular spin. In the process, the beliefs,
traditions and interpretations of practicing Hindus are simply ignored
or bypassed without the unsuspecting reader knowing this to be the
case. This kind of Western scholarship has been criticized as
Orientalism and Eurocentrism. The non Judeo-Christian faith gets used
to dish out voyeurism and the tradition gets eroticized... .

We emphasize that this defamatory book misinforms readers about the
history of Hindu civilization, its cultures and traditions. The book
promotes prejudices and biases against Hindus. Can Penguin’s editors
really be incompetent enough to have allowed this to pass to
publication? If this is not deliberate malice, Penguin must act now in
good faith. As concerned readers, we ask PENGUIN GROUP to: 1. WITHDRAW
all the copies of this book immediately from the worldwide bookshops/
markets/ Universities/Libraries and refrain from printing any other
edition. .

2. APOLOGIZE for having published this book “The Hindus: An
Alternative History”. This book seriously and grossly misrepresents
the Hindu reality as known to the vast numbers of Hindus and to
scholars of Hindu tradition. PENGUIN must apologize for failure to
observe proper pre-publication scrutiny and scholarly review. Vishal


Indonesia restores Hindu temple

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I am pleased to see Indonesia Highlighting and restoring the Hindu
Temple, they are indeed following Islam, which forbids one to
desecrate a place of worship. I commend Suwarsono Muhammad for this
initiative, it is time we live the will of God; Co-existence and
harmony with life and matter.

Mike Ghouse


India and China

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I think Hoagland is baiting India. We gain nothing from being too
close to the USA which can never get out of its hobbyhorse of a Paki-

Rubbing China the wrong way will not help. Every reasonable effort:
diplomatic, strategic alliances with the ring of Sinophobia and last
but not the least, an effort to build a string of pearls around China
is the way out of any direct confrontation with China.

Even if we maintain our pace of growth at 7.5 per cent for the next 25
years, China will still far outpace us and become an economy 30 times
our GDP by 2025 by the estimates of the World Bank.. There’s no way, a
third rate government that is soft and kowtows to every Pakistani
threat can face China. Even in our soft power we are losing. Recently
China has even reclaimed Buddhism and Sanskrit as it’s intellectual
property whereas here we have secularists and shadow Islamists playing
footsie with our Hindu culture.

China has always been a ‘hard power” it knows that the power on earth
is its to grab and the heavens are everybody property. India knows
nothing because it has learnt nothing from the Arthashastra – the
people (Jana) must be kept happy and then alone the State becomes
strong as Chanakhya said so firmly.

China and India had over 40 per cent of the world’s industrial
production and trade in the early 15th and 16th century before the
white tribes swept out of Europe.and the barbaric Muslim lands and
ruined one of the greatest civilizations on earth, as Will Durant
noted so vividly..

Together we can make the planet anew. But maybe the human race is
fated to flounder on the rock of the monotheistic God born in the
deserts of West Asia. If we don’t know our own Karma, then it’s no use
trying to live out others’. That would be truly against Dharma.

Not that this political class in India has a clue of its own
historical importance. China never had a soft power ideological core.
Its hard shell hides a very soft underbelly. Just as the whole of East
Asia under its belly felt its fist, it imported everything “soft” and
“spiritual” from India. That’s why they are so rich and diverse and
stand up to China, which itself found its spine only with the wisdom
of the Buddha was grabbed by it by sending pilgrims into India. Unlike
the religions of West Asia, India didn’t export its religion or
spiritual wealth. Only peoplecwho understood its value came and drank
from this huge font of wisdom.

. Now India is adrift and China’s star on the ascendant. I salute it.

Truely and sadly

Ashok Row Kavi


India as viewed by a Pakistani intellectual

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Here are some mind-boggling facts about India, a country that was
known as a "third world" nation barely 20 years ago – written by a
Pakistani. By Dr Farrukh Saleem, former Pakistani journalist,
Executive Director Center For Research and Security Studies

• 12 percent of all American scientists are of Indian origin; 38
percent of doctors in America are Indian; 36 percent of NASA
scientists are Indians; 34 percent of Microsoft employees are Indians;
and 28 percent of IBM employees are Indians. Sabeer Bhatia created and
founded Hotmail. Sun Microsystems was founded by Vinod Khosla. The
Intel Pentium processor, that runs 90 percent of all computers, was
fathered by Vinod Dham.

• Rajiv Gupta co-invented Hewlett Packard's E-speak project. Four out
of ten Silicon Valley start-ups are run by Indians. Bollywood produces
800 movies per year and six Indian women have won Miss Universe / Miss
World titles in the last 10 years.

• • The four richest Indians can buy up all goods and services
produced in a year by 169 million Pakistanis and still be left with
$60 billion to spare. • The four richest Indians are richer than the
forty richest Chinese. • Regardless of what Forbes or any other
western press may report, on 29 October 2007, as a result of the stock
market rally and the appreciation of the Indian rupee, Mukesh Ambani
became the richest person in the world, with net worth climbing to US
$63.2 billion (Bill Gates, the richest American, stood at around $56
billion). Indians and Pakistanis have the same Y-chromosome
haplogroup. We Pakistanis have the same genetic sequence and the same
genetic marker (namely: M124). We have the same DNA molecule, the same
DNA sequence. Our culture, our traditions and our cuisine are all the
same. We watch the same movies and sing the same songs. What is it
that Indians have and we don't?

• INDIANS ELECT THEIR LEADERS!!!!! And India thinks of construction of
its own nation, unlike some other nations who are more concerned with
the destruction of other's. Sam Koshy, Winnipeg


India in Afghanistan
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By Jeremy Kahn

What’s more dangerous than being an American in Afghanistan? Being an
Indian in Afghanistan. On Oct. 8, 09 a car bomb exploded outside the
Indian Embassy in Kabul, killing 17 people and wounding 76. The attack
came 15 months after another bomb damaged the embassy and killed 58,
including the Indian defense attaché. On Feb 26 2010 a Kabul terror
strike killed seven Indians. Elsewhere in the country, Indian workers
have been victims of suicide attacks and kidnappings.

Although rarely discussed in the West, India is a key player in the
Afghan conflict. New Delhi has long sought to keep friendly
governments in Kabul as a bulwark against archrival Pakistan. India
pledged more than $1.2 billion in reconstruction aid to Afghanistan,
making it the country’s fifth-largest donor and the biggest within the
region. There are at least 4,000 Indian workers and security personnel
employed on reconstruction projects in the country. India also opened
an air base in Tajikistan, its first on foreign soil, to supply its
Afghan operations.

All of which makes Pakistan very nervous. Pakistan has accused India
and Hamid Karzai’s government of covertly supporting militants who are
challenging Islamabad’s authority over Baluchistan, an oil- and gas-
rich province in southwest Pakistan. Some believe Islamabad’s military
and intelligence services have allowed the Taliban safe haven in
Pakistan largely because they view the Afghan insurgents as a proxy
force against India. Indian and Western intelligence services found
strong evidence that Pakistan’s premier spy agency, the Inter-Services
Intelli-gence, helped plan the July 2008 Indian Embassy bombing in
Kabul. And, while India is still investigating the latest attack on
its embassy, Afghan ambassador to the U.S. Said Jawad wasted no time
in pointing the finger at Is-lamabad again.
The new Great Game being played out between India and Pakistan in
Afghanistan has complicated matters for the U.S. and its NATO allies.
“While Indian activities largely benefit the Afghan people,” Gen.
Stanley McChrystal, the commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, wrote
in his recent report to President Obama, “increasing Indian influence
in Afghanistan is likely to exacerbate regional tensions and encourage
Pakistani countermeasures in Afghanistan or India.” Evidently, the
road to peace in Afghanistan runs not just through Kabul and
Islamabad, but Delhi as well.

Corruption in India
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By Shashi Tharoor

One of the questions people keep asking me since my entry into
politics is what we can do about corruption. What would I do, one
citizen recently asked in an on-line chat, if I became the “concerned
authority”? No such prospect — the Vigilance Commissioner isn’t a
Member of Parliament! — but in fact corruption is a national malaise
and a social ill, not just one that a “concerned authority” can solve.
We are all complicit — those who demand bribes and those who give
But one of the things that intrigues me is the extent to which
corruption is a middle-class preoccupation, when in fact the biggest
victims of corruption in our country are in fact the poor. For the
affluent, corruption is at worst a nuisance; for the salaried middle-
class, it can be an indignity and a burden; but for the poor, it is
often a tragedy.

The saddest corruption stories I have heard are those where corruption
literally transforms lives for the worse. There are stories about the
pregnant woman turned away from a government hospital because she
couldn’t bribe her way to a bed; the labourer denied an allotment of
land that was his due because someone else bribed the patwari to
change the land records; the pensioner denied the rightful fruits of
decades of toil because he couldn’t or wouldn’t bribe the petty clerk
to process his paperwork; the wretchedly poor unable to procure the
BPL ["Below Poverty Line"] cards that certify their entitlement to
various government schemes and subsidies because they couldn’t afford
to bribe the issuing officer; the poor widow cheated of an insurance
settlement because she couldn’t grease the right palms … the examples
are endless. Each of these represents not just an injustice, but a
crime, and yet the officials responsible get away with their exactions
all the time. And all their victims are people living at or near a
poverty line that’s been drawn just this side of the funeral pyre.
One of the reasons that I was an early supporter of economic
liberalization in India was that I hoped it would reduce corruption by
denying officialdom the opportunity (afforded routinely by our license-
quota-permit raj) to profit from the power to permit. That has
happened to some degree, especially at the big-business level. But I
underestimated the creativity of petty corruption in India that
leeches blood from the veins of the poorest and most downtrodden in
our society. No one seems to be able to do anything about it, but I’d
like to try. I’d welcome any ideas readers might have to set me on my

A Catalyst for Development
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Dr. Thomas Abraham

People of Indian origin (PIO) constitute a global community of over 22
million people. It is bigger than many countries of Europe. It has
been estimated that, PIOs living outside India has a combined yearly
economic output of about $250 billion, about one third of the GDP of
India. Whether they come from Africa, Asia, the Americas, Australia,
the Caribbean or Europe, they are Indians in body and spirit. Almost
all of them maintain their Indian cultural traditions and values. They
seem to have meaningfully integrated in their countries without losing
their ethnic identity.

Looking at the numbers of the NRI/PIO communities, we see the

North America (Mostly USA & Canada) 3.2 Million
South America (Trinidad & Tobago, Guyana, Surinam, Jamaica, etc.) 1.6
Europe (U.K., Netherlands, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, etc.) 2.5
Africa (South Africa, Mauritius, East African countries, etc.) 2.5
Middle East (UAE, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, etc.) 3.5 million
Far East & South East Asia (Malaysia, Singapore, Mayanmar, etc.) 3.5
Pacific Island (Fiji, Australia, New Zealand) 0.7 million
Srilanka and Nepal 4.5 million
Total 22.0 million

Note: Since hard numbers have not been available, these are
approximate estimates and obtained from individual country statistics
and from the report of the High Level India Diaspora Committee
appointed by Govt. of India

With over 22 million people of Indian origin living outside India, a
new global community of Indian origin has been developed. Most people
of Indian origin have become highly successful in business and
professions. If their professional expertise and financial resources
are to be pooled together, it will benefit not only people of Indian
origin but also their countries and India. In addition, people of
Indian origin could assume a new role in providing help in case of
crisis to their communities around the world.

Of the 22 million, about 50% constitute the first generation
immigrants from India and their immediate families, generally termed
as non-resident Indians (NRIs). This is the group one should reach out
for investments and for business and technology collaborations in
India. This group also has taken great interest in India’s
developments. Where are these communities? They are spread across the
Middle East, USA, Canada, U.K. and other European countries, Australia
and Southeast and Far Eastern countries.

Need for Mobilizing the Community

As a first step toward bringing our communities together, the Indian
American community, under the leadership of the National Federation of
Indian American Associations, took the initiative to organize the
First Global Convention of People of Indian Origin in New York in
1989. The triggering point for the global Indian community to come
together was, when an elected Indian dominated government in Fiji was
thrown out by a military dictator in 1987. At the First Global
Convention, the major issue of concern to everyone was human rights
violations, be in Fiji, Guyana, Trinidad, South Africa, Sri Lanka,
U.K. and even in the U.S.A. with “Dot Buster” issue. The Global
Organization of People of Indian Origin (GOPIO) was formed at this
convention to help in networking our communities and take up issues
such as human rights violations of Indians around the world. GOPIO
filed petitions at the UN and a concerted effort was made to fight
these issues.

Changing Objectives

In the last one decade, the whole world has changed, so are the people
of Indian origin (PIO) communities. Since our first global convention
of people of Indian origin, Indian dominated parties were elected to
power in Fiji, Guyana and Trinidad. South Africa has several Indians
as ministers in the government. The late Dr. Chheddi Jagan, former
President of Guyana, Mr. Basdeo Panday of Trinidad and Mr. Mahendra
Chaudhry of Fiji were present at GOPIO’s first convention who went on
to become the President and Prime Ministers of their respective
countries. For a while, in the 1990s, we in the GOPIO felt that human
rights violations or being in political sideline are not major issues
for global Indian communities. After several brain-storming sessions
and conferences, GOPIO concluded that creating economic opportunities
by pooling our professional and financial resources is a platform to
bring our communities together. Economic progress of countries with
large PIO population and India should be one of the priorities of PIOs
as global citizens. Our ultimate goal should be to make our movement
working toward on issues of poverty, education and social justice of
our people. As we network globally, it should not only help our
communities to achieve economic progress, but also help the larger
communities we live in.

As global citizens, we PIOs have a stake in the new globalization
scenario where the closed net economic boundaries of countries are
already broken. In the new economic scenario, GOPIO Business Council
has been formed to cater the needs of small and medium businessmen
from our PIO community to network and promote collaborations. GOPIO
has also set up GOPIO.Connect to help and promote NGOs who are
involved in India developmental activities.

The last decade also saw PIOs becoming enormously rich, thanks to the
information technology revolution. Although many of them left India
with a meager amount of dollars or pounds in their pocket, with their
dedication and hard work they became successful in the West and in
particular the USA, Canada, U.K. and other European countries. Now our
community is growing in large number in Australia and New Zealand. The
PIO populations in all these countries are expected to increase in
this decade. Therefore, PIO communities will have important roles to
play in all these countries.

Development Initiatives by NRIs/PIOs

With large number of NRIs/PIOs taking active interest in developments
in India, several new non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have been
launched in the US, Canada, Europe and countries in the Middle and Far
East to promote education, health care and developments including
water management, rural development and self help programs. NRIs and
PIOs are also increasingly supporting several NGOs in India in a range
of developmental, educational and social programs. With the net worth
of the NRI/PIO baby boomer generation increasing, tremendous
opportunities are provided for the govt. agencies and NGOs in India to
reach out more NRIs/PIOs to interest them to help in India
developmental activities.

Role for Govt. of India

Till the middle of 1970s, the Government of India did not take any
interest in non-Resident Indians (NRIs), a definition which was given
by the Reserve Bank of India when they wanted the Indian banks to
attract NRI deposits. In the 1980s, former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi
invited a few NRIs to come back to India to help in development of
some core sectors including telecommunications. In the 1990s, with
economic liberalization by Narasimha Rao/Dr. Manmohan Singh team, an
impetus was provided for NRIs/PIOs to become more active in the Indian

Also, in the year 2000, a High Level Indian Diaspora Committee chaired
by Dr. L.M. Singhvi, was set up by the government of India to look
into the issues of NRIs and PIOs and to explore avenues of
opportunities for NRIs/PIOs to help India. The committee after
visiting several countries submitted a report with several
recommendations. The best news to NRIs/PIOs was provided by the
Vajpayee administration in January 2002, i.e. to accept the some of
the recommendations of the committee. Later, the Govt. of India
organized the first Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD) in New Delhi in
January 2003 followed by three more such meetings in the month of
January in New Delhi, Mumbai and Hyderabad in 2004, ’05 and ’06

India government also decided to provide dual nationality to NRIs/
PIOs. The Indian Parliament passed a legislation to grant dual
citizenship to NRIs/PIOs in December 2003 and again in 2005. The dual
citizenship card was issued officially at the PRB-2006 in Hyderabad.
This will help to bring 22 million people of Indian origin living
outside India closer to India. It will help to mobilize professional
and financial resources of NRIs/PIOs for India’s development. Also, it
is of great sentimental values to PIOs/NRIs living outside India to
feel that they are now part of Mother India

India Govt. is now going a step further to grant voting rights for
Indian citizens living outside India in the Assembly and Parliamentary
elections, provided they are in the constituency at the time of
elections. This will make NRIs feel full participants for India’s
developmental activities. GOPIO had passed resolution on this at its
convention in Zurich in 2000 and has been campaigning on this issue
since then.

Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs (MOIA)

GOPIO had campaigned for this new ministry similar to the Ministry for
Overseas Chinese in China. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh fulfilled
this demand in 2004. The new ministry has been organizing the annual
PBD. However, we see a bigger role for MOIA in reaching out all those
NRIs/PIOs who could contribute to India’s development. The ministry
also should work with groups such as GOPIO and other organizations to
motivate more NRIs/PIOs to take active interest in India in all areas
of investment, business, technology transfer, development and
charitable activities. There should be separate cells in MOIA to
promote each of these activities.


Initiated in 2002, GOPIO.Connect acts more as a catalyst to help NGOs
in India and outside to promote their activities as well as to provide
exposure to more NRIs and PIOs. The objectives are as follows:
• Capture and understand key developmental need areas in India where
NRI/PIO community can help
• Organize interactive sessions with NRI/PIO run civil service
organizations on India development issues to widen awareness
• Research on key development-related laws and highlight their
enforcement issues for NRI/PIOs
• Provide help to execute development projects in India
• Encourage NRI/PIOs to research key development-related trends in
India at academic institutions to facilitate new policy
recommendations in various government ministries

NRI/PIO’s Role for the Motherland/Adopted Countries

There are enormous opportunities for NRIs/PIOs to get actively
involved in India’s development as well as support various social
service activities. Many NRIs and organizations have taken major
initiatives in supporting their former schools and colleges, some have
set up schools and colleges in their villages and towns, while others
have been supporting social and environmental causes. The same level
of activities can be initiated by Indo-Caribbeans, Indo-Fijians and
other such communities who live in the developed countries. In the
next level of activities, different nationality segments of our PIO
communities such as Indo-Caribbeans or Indo-South Africans should form
partnerships with other PIO and NRI communities for the development of
their former adopted countries.

Looking to the Future

A former American Ambassador to India, Frank Wisner was quoted at a
speech in 2002 “Linkages between our two societies need to be
developed.” This is where, GOPIO and PIO communities around the world
can play a major role, i.e. to develop linkages between societies,
i.e. Indians with Dutch, Indians with Americans, Indians with
Australians, etc. Diplomats to countries come and go, business
delegations between countries come and go. However, the lasting bond
between countries will take place when we as global citizens develop
linkages. When an issue comes, we as global PIOs should focus upon
them and try to influence the opinion makers in whatever countries we
live in to take right decision and action. We need to build coalitions
with like-minded communities to make our voice heard. Whether it is
India related issues or human rights violations or violations of civil
and political rights in countries such as Fiji, Trinidad, Zimbabwe,
Africa or the Middle East, we have an important role to play.

NRI/PIOs as global citizens have done a great job in building good
image for their Motherland in their respective countries. NRI/PIOs
have worked behind the scene to create interest among companies to
take interest in India. If right opportunities are created, NRI/PIOs
could become solid and life long partners of India’s development as
well as those countries with large PIO population. And in turn, we are
making our contributions to the world’s development and peace, as it
is said, “Vasudeva Kudumbakam”, “World is one Family.”

Dr. Abraham has been serving the NRI/PIO community for the last 33
years. He served as the first president of the Federation of Indian
Associations of New York in 1976 and the National Federation of Indian
American Associations in 1980. Dr. Abraham currently serves as the
Chairman of the Global Organization of People of Indian Origin (GOPIO)
which he founded in 1989 and as a Founder Board of Director of Indian
American Kerala Center in New York. Dr. Abraham is Vice President of
Business Communications Co., a leading industry and market research
firm based in Norwalk, CT, USA.

Climate Change Discord
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By Chandru Arni

Without doubt, the conference on Climate change and Global warming was
a fiasco, failure and a retrograde step. It even went back on the
Kyoto Protocol, held in 1997 in Japan where 37 industrialized
countries committed themselves to a reduction of 6 greenhouse gases to
as much as 5% of the 1990 level.

The reasons:
1. It was a wrong place and a wrong time for the meet. Copenhagen, a
chilly city made even more icy in December. The delegates shivered and
probably wished the temperature to be a few degrees warmer and some
sunlight! How could these delegates (90 % of who did not know enough
of the subject believe that the Earth getting warmer by a few degrees
can destroy itself?)
2. The conference had too many countries in participation. It was a
merry mix-up with hundreds of politicians and delegates confusing the
issue. This is one of the reasons that United Nations General Assembly
cannot take any meaningful decisions. Most of them are skeptics, and
do not accept anything based on scientific predictions and demand
physical evidence.
3. Every politician had been warned to put the country before the
Earth. Patriotism towards the country was more important than saving
the Earth.
However he was told that he must show concern for the Earth.
4. Every politician was told NOT to commit to a figure or, if he is
pushed to commit to some small figure he should ensure it could not be
verified. If he is accused of not showing concern he should indulge in
a blame game. Without these “protections” he could not face the
Parliament (or a Senate) on his return.
5. Most of the Politicians and delegates not having a technical
background should have undergone a small scientific instruction course
before attending the conference lest they talk without the desired
6. Lastly, all the countries recognized in advance that nothing
substantial will be achieved and waited for a political agreement to
mess around in platitudes and show a consensus. The Heads of the big
countries could spare just a day or two to get a final agreement –
shows their seriousness and commitment.

The setting of goals for achieving stabilization of greenhouse gas
concentrations in the atmosphere and carbon emissions at a level that
would prevent dangerous interference with the climate system and
temperatures not to go higher than 3
degrees WILL NOT be achievable for the next 20 years unless the above
state of affairs stop and someone who knows takes charge

Why is our Earth warming up?
The concentration of carbon in living matter is almost 100 times
greater than its concentration in the earth. So living things extract
carbon from their nonliving environment. For life to continue, this
carbon must be recycled.
The carbon dioxide content of the atmosphere is gradually and steadily
increasing. The, CO2 in the atmosphere retards the radiation of heat
from the earth back into space which and is referred to as the
“greenhouse effect”. With this effect the Earth gets warmer; in other
words these gases regulate our climate by trapping heat and holding it
in a kind of warm-air blanket that surrounds the earth and warm the
earth. If we don’t have any such blanket the Earth will on the other
side become far too cold for our existence. We must have this balance
But we have gone the other side and this increase is surely caused by
human activities:
Examples of malpractices and disregard
1. Burning natural gas, coal and oil - including gasoline for
automobile engine
2. Deforestation
3. Some farming practices and land-use changes
These are caused by Greenhouse Gases than Carbon Dioxide like methane
( caused by burning forests, flatulence of cattle produces methane
that is expelled, etc).Growing rice has an adverse environmental
impact because of the large quantities of methane and this can be
reduced by better agricultural practices like draining paddy fields.
4. Luxury of man: Chlorofluorocarbons, a totally human luxury (used in
refrigerators and aerosol cans,)
5. Rise in Human and Cattle population.
6. Increase in Environmental pollution

What are the effects of global warming and the greenhouse effect?
1. Weather changes. Even a small increase in the global temperature
would lead to significant climate and weather changes, affecting cloud
cover, precipitation, wind patterns, the frequency and severity of
storms, and the duration of seasons.
2. Temperature. Rising temperatures would raise sea levels as well,
reducing supplies of fresh water as flooding occurs along coastlines
3. Sea levels rising: and global warming is at least part of the
If the sea level were to rise in excess of 4 meters almost every
coastal city in the world would be severely affected, Long-term
changes are mainly caused by temperature (because the volume of water
depends on temperature). The rise is also due to melting glaciers
(irreversible phenomena) caused by global warming.
4. Land. Millions of people also would be affected, especially poor
people who live in precarious locations or depend on the land for a
subsistence living.

1. Saving energy and Life style changes and “throw away” practices. Be
frugal. Use Carpools.
2. Using Government and Media to highlight the problems and offer
solutions. Pour more money into research activities for clean energy.
3. Plant trees and support Organic farming (In simplest terms, organic
farming is a form of agriculture that avoids any use of synthetic
chemicals or Genetically Modified Organisms.)
4. Use Alternative energy rather than coal and petroleum
a. Using Solar power: solar cells capture the heat from the sun and
store it.
b. Using wind power: Wind turbines capture the energy of moving air
and convert to electric y
c. Biofuels: Converting organic matter into fuel (ethanol, marine
d. Nuclear energy: It is a source of clean energy but is only a
temporary solution. It has the drawbacks of disastrous consequences of
accident and getting rid of nuclear waste.
e. Use of CFL (compact fluorescent light bulbs) for lighting. If a
building’s indoor incandescent lamps are replaced by CFLs, the heat
produced due to lighting will be reduced. Its environmental advantages
are big because of its lower energy requirement. For a given light
output, CFLs use 20 to 33 percent of the power of equivalent
incandescent lamps. If a building’s indoor incandescent lamps are
replaced by CFLs, the heat produced due to lighting will also be

f. Use of hydrogen
A hydrogen vehicle is a vehicle that uses hydrogen as its onboard fuel
for motive power. The power plants of such vehicles convert the
chemical energy of hydrogen to mechanical energy (torque). With
further research and development, this fuel could also serve as an
alternative source of energy for heating and lighting homes,
generating electricity, and fueling motor vehicles.

Challenge for Haiti
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By Todd Moss
As the international response to Haiti’s earthquake shifts from
emergency rescue to longer term reconstruction, things are inevitably
going to get harder. There are some very good ideas floating out
there, not least Michael Clemens’ golden door visa proposal and Jeff
Sachs’ urging for a recovery trust fund (It’s too bad he couldn’t
resist swathing the idea in jabs at the donors and the United States).
But as the donor community starts making that shift and planning
projects, Joshua Nadel, a professor of Caribbean history, has this
very good reminder:

A top-down, donor-driven reconstruction that excludes Haitians will be
seen as paternalistic and will likely join the litany of failed
development projects in the country; in order to get it right,
Haitians need to sit at the table.

This seems obvious: “participation” and “ownership” are standard
buzzwords of the development planning set. But making this dynamic
work in practice is challenging in the best of situations. In Haiti,
this is even trickier since many of the institutions of the Haitian
state have been destroyed and many officials, police, and other
leaders have died. Yet if the donors take the shortcut of just doing
their own thing, I suspect Nadel’s prediction will, sadly, turn out to
be right.

National shame or national scandal?
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By Jeffrey Simpson

Somewhere between a national shame and a national scandal lies
Canada’s export of asbestos.
The federal government promotes asbestos exports – they have risen
sharply in the past year – despite the fact that the use of asbestos
has all but disappeared in this country. Why? Because scientists,
governments, industries and unions have concluded that the product can
lead to a variety of health-related problems and, in some cases, to

Indeed, while the federal government promotes exports, a multiyear
construction project is refitting the Parliament Buildings, among
other reasons to remove asbestos. What our parliamentarians won’t have
in their buildings apparently will be in buildings in the developing

The reason the federal government will not stop defending asbestos is
politics – Quebec politics, in fact. The asbestos produced in Canada
comes from Quebec, from the Jeffrey and LAB Chrysotile mines that
employ about 700 people. A large town in Quebec is even called

No federal government has had the courage to say: Enough is enough!
We’re not exporting to developing countries any product we won’t use
at home for health reasons. Fear of offending Quebec has put a sock in
the mouth of federal governments, and fear of losing a few votes has
forced Quebec governments into acrobatic flights of hypocrisy to
defend the indefensible.

This week, Quebec Premier Jean Charest has been making headlines
outside Quebec, attacking Ottawa for questioning his government’s
intention to impose strict vehicle-emission standards. It’s all a lot
of blah-blah because Quebec’s rules are going to be superseded by new
national regulations in the U.S. and Canada.

Beating up on Ottawa is good politics, regrettably, in Quebec, but it
so happened that these attacks came from far away – from India, in
fact, where Mr. Charest was leading a Quebec trade delegation
promoting his province’s exports, including asbestos.

It was reported in the Quebec media that asbestos represents 11 per
cent of Quebec’s exports to India, a tidy sum of $427-million. Half of
India’s asbestos comes from Quebec, of the chrysotile variety with
fibres so fine they can penetrate some filtration masks and so enter
lungs, where they can create a variety of health problems, including
lethal ones.

On the eve of Mr. Charest’s visit, scientists from 28 countries urged
him to stop exporting all forms of asbestos. A hundred scientists said
the province won’t use asbestos at home because it can cause death,
while promoting it “where protections are few and awareness of the
hazards of asbestos almost non-existent.” Even some brave scientists
in Quebec, where criticism of asbestos exports has been often regarded
as “anti-Quebec,” urged the Premier to act.

But Mr. Charest said it was up to India to act if it felt asbestos led
to health problems. He was accompanied by a representative of an
asbestos lobby group that receives money from both the federal and
provincial governments; his group, he said, gives information to
asbestos users about its possible risks. In other words, caveat
emptor! Meantime, it’s business as usual for Quebec’s asbestos

Happily, some elements of the Quebec media have been all over this
story, slamming the Premier’s evident hypocrisy and noting how it
tarnishes Quebec’s precious international image. But, by extension,
the export also tarnishes Canada’s image because, Quebec pretensions
notwithstanding, most people abroad don’t even know where Quebec is,
whereas they do know about Canada.
Ottawa is intimately involved in this dirty game, too. It even sends
diplomats to international meetings to frustrate any worldwide action
against asbestos. And Canadian taxpayers are soiled by this export of
a dangerous product that is scarcely, if ever, used in this country.

Face up to it: Canadians, in their moral superiority, might think our
country has an unsullied international image, especially in
environmental matters. The reality is that those in the fisheries
business know how poorly we have managed some of our stocks. Europe
and the rest of the world are utterly repelled by the slaughter of
seals, and no amount of public-relations campaigning and political
posturing will alter that reality.

The tar sands are a growing PR nightmare, as is Canada’s weak
greenhouse-gas emissions record. To these are added the ongoing export
of asbestos from Quebec, exposing the province’s hypocrisy and
tarnishing Canada’s reputation abroad. (The Globe and Mail)
(See related article under Weekender)
Jeffrey Simpson is a columnist for the Globe and Mail.

Pakistan “Going To The Dogs”?
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By Virginia Moncrieff
Burnt and bombed schools, harsh religious edicts, strict rules of
dress, the total subjugation of women is now a way of life for most
citizens of the beautiful Swat Valley in northern Pakistan.
Swat is a stunning area of the world. It’s often called the
Switzerland of Asia, though for my money, it has a landscape that is
far more awe-inspiring than anything Europe can offer. Now it is
almost entirely over run by Taliban who are ruthless in their demands
on the citizens.
Cruelty is a feature of Taliban rule, under the guise of proper
Islamic practice, and Swat is receiving bucket loads of cruelty,
daily. “Un-Islamic” activities like dancing and singing, listening to
CDs and watching DVDs or being clean-shaven are now outlawed. Buses
playing music for their passengers are bombed for promoting “vulgarity
and obscenity” that “gravely offends pious people.” Girls are banned
from attending school under threat of violence and death.
The Taliban advance into Swat is only now being reported. While the
lawless badlands of the Afghan border areas have attracted much hand
wringing, the Talib have crept into sophisticated, cultural Swat -
nowhere near Afghanistan - and are now ruling the place with an iron
Pakistani political analyst Farrukh Khan Pitafi told the Huffington
Post from Islamabad that the free-for-all enjoyed by the Taliban stems
from bloody-minded opportunism dating back to the Pervez Musharraf
“It is evident that the Musharraf’s strategy of allowing the Taliban
to grow in order to exploit western fear(s) of them (taking) over to
garner support for his rule is either beyond the control of the
government now or then. Some segment(s) of the power elite has not
given up that ploy.
“It has never been possible for any radical group (to flourish)
without the tacit support of at least some elements in the
establishment. It is my belief that Musharraf consciously allowed
these elements to thrive,” says Mr. Khan Pitafi. “At that time it
seemed convenient but now this movement is spinning out of control.
There is a chance also that some pro-Musharraf elements within the
civil military bureaucracy are still in touch with the Taliban in
order to destabilize the democratic government.”
“Ruthless murderers” is how Asif Ali Zardari, the new Pakistan
president described the Taliban in Swat, as he started making the
right noises about taking them on. He has sent in 12,000 army troops
to do battle with the estimated 4,000 Taliban who are running the
Valley. Reports from Swat suggest that not terribly much “doing
battle” is taking place; troops stay within their barracks, and
failing to protect those that the Taliban publicly threaten to kill
(and usually do).
Farrukh Khan Pitafi is is convinced that solutions must be found from
within and not through the advice or intervention of the United
States, which will create further difficulties for the national
administration’s fight against the insurgents.
“The speed with which the Taliban movement is destroying peace and
progress of the country is heartrending and baffling,” he says. “The
government right now is so unstable that it can hardly confront the
demon of Talibanization. Is there any solution? Well it certainly is
not more US across the border attacks for they inflict pain and give
the Taliban an excuse to further expand. The only solution then is to
strengthen the democratic government, do away with the remnants of
Pervez Musharraf and the retrogressive religious politicians and help
the federal and provincial governments improve coordination. This
seems an arduous process but unless these things are done the country
essentially is going to the dogs.”

India Sees Terrorism Threats
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NEW DELHI—India put its security apparatus on high alert following
intelligence reports of two possible assaults in the air— one from a
plane hijacking, the other from paragliders, officials said.

Also Friday, the U.K. raised its terrorist-threat level to severe from
substantial, but declined to say why it was doing so.

Indian Officials said the Pakistan-based terrorist group Lashkar-e-
Taiba was behind both threats. The group was responsible for the
November 2008 terrorist siege in Mumbai.

On Friday, the home ministry, which is in charge of internal security,
issued a security alert to all airports and airlines following an
intelligence notification of a plot to hijack a plane.

“We have reliable information of a planned plane hijack by terrorists.
We have advised the civil aviation ministry to take necessary steps,”
said Omkar Kedia, a home ministry spokesman.

Airport security was tightened following the warning. Sky marshals
were deployed on certain flights and passengers were being subject to
more intense security screening, he said.

Later Friday, U.K. Bansal, an official at the home ministry, said: “We
have intelligence reports that LeT has purchased 50 paragliding kits
from Europe with an intention to launch attacks on India.” No other
details were available.

India celebrates one of its biggest holidays of the year, Republic
Day, on Tuesday.

Indian interior ministry recommends extra security measures for
India’s flagship airlines. Video courtesy of Reuters.

The alerts came two days after U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates,
traveling in the region, warned of efforts by al Qaeda and its
affiliates to destabilize South Asia and trigger a war between India
and Pakistan.

India and Pakistan have fought three wars since they became
independent nations in 1947. In December 1999, Islamic militants
hijacked an Air India flight from Nepal’s capital, Katmandu, to
Kandahar in southern Afghanistan. It ended when New Delhi released
three Islamic terrorists in exchange for 167 passengers and crew.

The U.K.’s move Friday reversed a lowering of the threat level in
July. The U.K. reduced the threat level from critical to severe in
July 2007. A spokesman for the home office referred questions to a
statement from the home secretary.

The United Kingdom’s security experts says they fear an attack from
female suicide bombers. Video courtesy of Fox News.

“The Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre has today raised the threat to
the U.K. from international terrorism from substanital to severe. This
means that a terrorist attack is highly likely, but I should stress
that there is no intelligence to suggest than an attack is imminent,”
said Home Secretary Alan Johnson.

Mr. Johnson said the terror-threat level is under constant review and
is based on a wide range of factors.

US leads global relief effort for Haiti
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By Paul Woodward

As the survivors of Haiti’s catastrophic earthquake struggle in
worsening conditions, three US presidents came together on Saturday to
launch a fundraising effort across America. With his two predecessors
at his side, the US president appealed for national unity in support
of the people of Haiti.

“Flanked by two of his immediate predecessors – George W Bush and Bill
Clinton – President Barack Obama announced yesterday the launch of a
new fund-raising effort for Haiti and vowed a sustained US commitment
to rebuilding the island nation in the aftermath of the devastating
earthquake,” The National reported.

” ‘By coming together in this way, these two leaders send an
unmistakable message to the people of Haiti and to the people of the
world,’ Mr Obama said, speaking in the White House Rose Garden. ‘In
these difficult hours, America stands united. We stand united with the
people of Haiti, who have shown such incredible resilience, and we
will help them to recover and to rebuild.’”

The BBC noted: “When US President Barack Obama announced that one of
the biggest relief efforts in US history would be heading for Haiti,
he highlighted the close ties between the two nations.

” ‘With just a few hundred miles of ocean between us and a long
history that binds us together, Haitians are our neighbours in the
Americas and here at home,’ he said.

“Hundreds of thousands of Haitians have indeed become neighbours of

“Some 420,000 live in the US legally, according to census figures.
Estimates of the number of Haitians in the country illegally vary
wildly, from some 30,000 to 125,000.

“It is a sizeable diaspora which wants to see quick and decisive
action from its adopted homeland.

“Desperate to see aid getting through to friends and relatives, many
expatriate Haitians have welcomed President Obama’s decision to send
up to 10,000 troops to help rescue efforts.”

On his blog at The New York Times, Nicholas D Kristof noted a concern
expressed by some Americans: that American generosity towards Haiti
has done little to alleviate the country’s troubles in the past. He
pointed out, however, that US aid to its impoverished neighbour falls
short of the contributions coming from many other more distant

“The United States contributed $2.32 per American to Haiti over the
last three years for which we have data (about 80 cents a year).
That’s much less than other countries do, even though Haiti is in our
hemisphere and has historic close ties to the US. For example, Canada
contributed $12.13 per person to Haiti over three years, and Norway
sent $8.44. … Other countries that contribute more, per capita, to
Haiti than the US are Luxembourg, Sweden, Ireland, France,
Switzerland, Spain and Belgium. True, there are more Americans, so
collectively our aid amounts to more than one-quarter of the pot in
Haiti, but that’s only because we’re such a big country. Given the per
capita sums, we have no right to be bragging about our generosity in

Meanwhile, The Guardian reported: “The Haiti earthquake death toll is
predicted to reach 200,000 as relief workers struggle against looting
and logistical nightmares that have delayed vital supplies of food,
water and medical help.

“International aid has begun to reach the capital, Port-au-Prince,
four days after the quake destroyed much of the Haiti’s
infrastructure, from hospitals and prisons to the presidential palace

“The Red Cross said a convoy of trucks carrying a ‘huge amount’ of aid
from the Dominican Republic was due to arrive in the capital this
afternoon, bringing a 50-bed field hospital, surgical teams and an
emergency telecommunications unit.

“The supplies and medical teams had to be sent in by land because
‘it’s not possible to fly anything into Port-au-Prince right now’,
said Paul Conneally, the charity’s spokesman in Dominica. ‘The airport
is completely congested.’

“Mark Pearson of the charity ShelterBox said: ‘It’s utter chaos at the
airport. Buildings have been completely destroyed, the hospital has
been destroyed. It’s a full scale emergency, there’s so much

” ‘The priority at the moment is search and rescue and then after that
emergency shelter provision, so obviously there’s frustration. There’s
no fuel and people are hunting for water. It’s difficult to put the
scale of destruction into words.’”

The New York Times said: “Countries around the world have responded to
Haiti’s call for help as never before. And they are flooding the
country with supplies and relief workers that its collapsed
infrastructure and nonfunctioning government are in no position to

“Haitian officials instead are relying on the United States and the
United Nations, but coordination is posing a critical challenge, aid
workers said. An airport hobbled by only one runway, a ruined port
whose main pier splintered into the ocean, roads blocked by rubble,
widespread fuel shortages and a lack of drivers to move the aid into
the city are compounding the problems.

“Across Port-au-Prince, hunger was on the rise. About 1,700 people
camped on the grass in front of the prime minister’s office compound
in the Pétionville neighborhood, pleading for biscuits and water-
purification tablets distributed by aid groups. Haitian officials said
tens of thousands of victims had already been buried.”

Time magazine said: “An armada of US warships is steaming toward
Haiti, to be joined by at least one Coast Guard cutter en route from
the Pacific via the Panama Canal - and manned and unmanned aircraft.
Within two hours of the quake, one of the globe’s biggest warships,
the carrier USS Carl Vinson, was ordered from off the Virginia coast
toward Haiti, swapping its jet fighters for heavy-lift helicopters as
it steamed south at top speed. Three ships, including the Vinson and
the hospital ship USNS Comfort, boast state-of-the-art medical
facilities that will care for injured Haitians. Thousands of troops
are on their way to Haiti or already there, running the airport and
clearing ports for many more to follow. Up to 10,000 troops will be in
Haiti or floating just offshore by Monday.

“It fell to State Department spokesman PJ Crowley to clarify a
delicate point: ‘We’re not,’ he insisted, ‘taking over Haiti.’
Strictly speaking, that’s true: Haiti remains a sovereign country, and
there are 9,000 UN peacekeepers already there, charged with
maintaining security. But as death stalks those smothered beneath the
rubble of pancaked buildings, and poor sanitation triggers outbreaks
of dysentery and other diseases, one nation in the world has the
muscle to quickly make a difference. That’s why the US is racing aid
to the poorest nation in the Western hemisphere. If things get worse,
the US - fairly or unfairly - will be blamed by many for not doing

India’s growth prospects raised to 9%
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by Sunil Kashyap

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, himself an economist of international
repute, hoped double digit GDP growth rate for the economy in next
couple of years given to potential and enormous opportunities present
in India.
Urging NRIs at the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas, Dr. Singh expressed
government’s commitment to provide investment friendly environment in
the country by reducing all hurdles for setting up project in India.
His assurance came a day after steel tycoon LN Mittal counted
challenges for executing mega projects in the country.
Addressing a gathering of the Indian diaspora, the PM said, “I
recognize the frustration well-wishers feel when they lament why
things don’t work faster or why well-formulated plans and policies
don’t get implemented as well as they should be.”
The PM’s projections can make economists and analyst to revise their
forecasts besides strengthening the common belief of India achieving
the past glories of economic growth leaving behinds the worst of
global slowdown.
Government has been expediting investment in road and infrastructure
projects through increased public spending besides taking a slew of
measures for cutting red tape, resolving legal issues and making land
acquisition simplified for setting up industries.

America’s long way to social development
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By Dr. John Samuel

United States of America, the most economically and militarily
advanced country, has a long way to go if it wants to be a socially-
developed country as well. It is hoped with his rhetorical elegance
and intelligence, Barack Obama would be able to help the country to
make significant progress in this direction.

With America’s economic leadership being challenged by China, the U.S.
needs to make the advance called for in social development to remain
ahead of other nations as a progressive and productive one on earth.
Its democracy is nothing unique considering that there are several
countries that can claim to be even more democratic since, unlike in
the U.S., it is not money alone that determines the successes or
failure of politicians in other democracies.

Among the social development factors, one of the most important is the
ability of a nation to provide essential services such as health care
for its people. It is a basic human need to get health care without
becoming bankrupt in the process. Several million American are
becoming increasingly unable to meet its horrendous costs in an
economy with more than one in ten unemployed. It is not certain even
the watered-down health care bill would have a smooth voyage in terms
of passage. It is unfortunate that many of the developing nations of
the world are blinded by the past economic success of the U.S. and
even in health care matters they follow the awful American example.

A second indictor of social underdevelopment in the U.S. is the
predominance and prevalence of the notion that the individual is
responsible for his/her safety and security. In most other countries,
the state takes over this function entirely and a police force is
responsible for the protection of individuals. It is unfortunate that
Americans live as if they are in a society that existed 200 or more
years ago when wild animals roamed and lack of law and order was the
norm and the individual needed protection from hostile forces using
one’s own devices such as guns. When the gun lobby bribes politicians
to support their cause of selling even more weapons of mass murder, as
seen in the numerous incidents of shootings by deranged individuals,
it would not be easy to change course despite the fact that there were
more gun death per 1000 population the U.S. than in any other country
in the world. Only an amendment of the Constitution of the country can
help. The Constitution is for the people, not the other way around.
This is not easy unless in the second term of his office, President
Obama turns his attention to this waxing issue.

A third indicator of social underdevelopment is the rising power of
fundamentalism among religious groups. Here the reference is not to
Islamic fundamentalism alone, but Christian fundamentalism as well.
Religious fundamentalism – Islamic, Christian or Hindu – is a danger
to smooth functioning of any society. “Live and let live” should be
the way of the future if unnecessary conflicts and deaths are to be
avoided. The state may not be able to play a direct role here.

Finally, it is the fundamentalism that leads to state executions as a
means of those who have supposedly committed a serious crime, at times
of innocent people. The state has to business to take away anyone’s
life though for the protection of society, it can take away the
freedom of dangerous individuals. European countries and Canada have
succeeded in abolishing capital punishment. In some U.S. states also
capital punishment is not allowed.

There could be other instances of lack of social development that
needs mention. We invite our readers to come up with suggestions.

Happy New Year to all.

Dr. John Samuel is the President and Managing Editor of South Asia

Is Climate Change for Real?
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By Amit Bhattacharya

The hard talk is on at Copenhagen. In the huddle are negotiators from
more than 192 nations, trying to forge a common plan to save the
planet. At last count, 110 world leaders were slated to gather in the
Danish capital for end-of-summit declarations that may well lay the
ground for a fundamental retooling of the global economy.

Beyond the hope, hype and bickering about who pays how much to whom,
lies a plain fact - there’s near-total consensus among governments of
the world that fossil fuel emissions have been leading to a critical
rise in atmospheric greenhouse gases, which in turn is causing global
temperatures to rise and changing the Earth’s climate patterns.

Ironically, this consensus totally breaks down when civil society
begins to talk about climate change. The Internet is replete with
assertions of climate change being the “biggest scam of the century”.
Okay, you may argue that internet is also full of accounts from
victims of alien abductions and creationists who denounce evolution.
Society’s loony fringe often has exaggerated presence on the Internet.

Except, with the climate debate, it’s not exactly the loony fringe.
Consider this: Of the top 12 bestselling books on climatology in
Amazon.com, only three - one by Al Gore and two by leading climate
scientist James Hansen - present the mainstream scientific view on the
subject. As many as five other books deny human induced climate change
in some way or the other.

Look at opinion polls. A survey conducted in the US by the respected
Pew Research Center in October showed a 14% drop in the number of
Americans who thought there was solid evidence that the Earth was
warming from 71% who had said yes to the question in April 2008, to
57% in October 2009. Only 36% of the respondents thought humans were
causing it, down from 47% last year.

Then there is the “climategate”episode, in which leaked emails of
British climatologists proved at least to some people that scientists
were cooking data to fit their models.

That the Earth is steadily warming has itself been denied by some
experts. They point out that the global temperatures haven’t really
gone up since 1998, and the graph has been more or less flat since
then (despite the 2000-2009 decade being the warmest on record). There
are others who say that the warming trend of the last century is part
of a natural cycle and not human-induced; that human activities
haven’t reached the critical scale to impact climate. Many of these
experts point to waxing and waning of solar activity to explain
temperature variations on Earth.

All this brings us to the point of this post: Governments of the world
are convinced about the warming effects of greenhouse emissions, but
are the people? Is the science of global warming settled?

During the course of a climate change fellowship I attended in the US
last month, leading climatologists spoke on the subject. The insights
we got were both revealing and troubling. To answer the second
question first - yes, the science behind what’s causing the Earth to
heat up seems pretty settled. A few notable dissenters aside, an
overwhelming majority of climatologists believe there’s strong
evidence to show that fossil fuels are causing the warming.

It’s not just about individual scientists. The study of climate change
is a multidisciplinary system science. Like any science of this
nature, there are things that are well established and areas which
aren’t as clear, that is, where competing explanations exist and some
parts that are yet speculative. Understanding is built and unbuilt
through accumulated evidences over decades.

As Stephen Schneider, professor for Interdisciplinary Environmental
Studies at Stanford University and a preeminent climate change expert
put it, understanding climate is like understanding the world economy:
it’s never solved by one new piece of information. And the answers are
never in plain yes or no, but in degrees of certainty.

For instance, to understand whether human activity was leading to a
rise in global temperatures, scientists had to build climate models
based on observed data and make predictions. These models predict an
overall warming trend. Temperature data of the last 100 years, and the
last 50 years, bear this out. Since there are two possible outcomes in
the data set “warming or cooling” there’s a 50% chance that this
prediction was random.

There’s more. The models also predict that middle of the continents
warm up more than middle of oceans. Again, observations show that’s
the case. Models predict stratosphere cools, lower atmosphere warms.
Right again. Models predict the stratosphere cools because of ozone
depleting substances and relative damping. They also predict that
there’s more warming at night than the day. Yet again, the models get
it right.

Put together, these models leave a statistical possibility of just 5%
that all these correct predictions were arrived at by pure chance. In
other words, the statement that humans through fossil fuel emissions
are warming up the planet has a scientific accuracy of around 95%.
That’s a very high degree of certainty. No other competing explanation
of the observed data’s natural cycle or solar activity comes anywhere
close to the robustness of this theory. (Of course, there’s still a 5%
chance that the warming is being caused by a factor that’s yet
unknown; but can we risk our planetary future on this basis?)

To return to the first question: Why are so many people not convinced?
There are two main reasons why this is so. The first one is obvious:
There are strong vested interests in letting people believe that
warming is a myth; or that the issue is far from settled. It’s no
surprise that a lot of climate change deniers get funds from
multinational oil conglomerates. There are websites that carry lists
of who gets funded by whom. (There would, of course, be some genuine
non-believers in the mix, but oil funding is the ugly, predominant

The second reason is the way the science works and the way scientists
communicate it. Climate science is all about probabilities, not
certainties. And scientists are careful about throwing in all the
caveats while making their points. On the other hand, people who are
cherry-picking facts to suit their slant are forceful and definitive.
No guessing which set of speakers would leave a more lasting
impression on primetime TV.

There’s no denying that climate is the most politicized and
contentious science of our times. But on one side is method and
rigour, and on the other, half-truths and slant. At stake is a planet
called Earth.

South Asia and climate change
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By Simon Tay

Climate change is a critical and pressing issue we are faced with
today. In South Asia we are increasingly exposed to the results of
climate change, such as the latest typhoons and floods in the region,
causing loss of lives and damage to property as well as displacing
families and increasing the spread of tropical diseases.

There is also the risk of rising sea level and increasing
temperatures. A recently released report from the Asian Development
Bank (ADB) shows that South Asia is likely to suffer more from climate
change than elsewhere in the world. There will be considerable
economic costs too, with a projected 7-8 per cent loss in GDP, unless
climate change is addressed.

It is an issue, on which developed and developing countries should
come together. Yet differences and suspicions remain.

Copenhagen meetings are going on to reach a consensus on a new climate
agreement. However, after Barcelona, it seems that the negotiations
have not progressed so far that a new legal framework will be ready
for Copenhagen. A realistic outcome will probably be a political
framework which can form the basis for future negotiations on the post-
Kyoto treaty.

South Asian countries need to think about their position on the
international stage. We all see the need to bring together the US,
India, China and south-east Asia, and mediators can help bring these
nations together. Singapore and other countries in the region could
very well play that role.

If we do not, we risk having larger and more powerful countries coming
to agreements alone and the decisions risk being made without our full
attention and participation.

The world is also looking at alternative sources of energy. It is
clear that some countries are more able and capable to deploy energy
saving mechanisms such as windmills and water/tidal turbines. Solar
energy, though a good solution, is still very expensive and presently
is not optimal.

Without the big nations on board, it may be understandable that other
nations approach Copenhagen cautiously. A solitary commitment by any
single nation cannot solve this global challenge.

Simon Tay is Chairman, Singapore Institute of International Affairs
(SIIA) and former chairman of Singapore National Energy Agency
Stephen Harper in world affairs

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By Bruce Anderson

Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s trip to China garnered huge coverage
at home, and likely helped his political fortunes somewhat.

First of all, it was a distraction from the politics of Afghan
detainees, and the week wasn’t kind to the Conservatives on that
issue. Almost anything is better than having lots of voters focus
exclusively on pictures of heavily redacted documents and watch some
increasingly effective opposition prosecution of the issue.

Beyond that though, the Prime Minister is working hard to position
himself as competitive with Michael Ignatieff when it comes to what’s
important on the world stage. His rising profile as the nation’s top
diplomat also continues the process of softening his personal image.
That he amiably absorbed the shots Chinese leaders inflicted about the
lack of a prior visit seemed in contrast with a more prickly reaction
we might have seen earlier in his career.

Conventional wisdom holds that Canadians feel conflicted about China,
anxious to enhance our trade opportunities on the one hand, but
reluctant to look indifferent about the human rights abuses in that
country. Over the years I’ve done public opinion research in this
area, that’s not exactly what I’ve seen.

For one of the world’s great selling nations, our citizenry is
actually a bit tentative about the importance of international
commerce. When it comes to trade agreements, we’ve often had a foot on
the brake and a foot on the accelerator at the same time. For many,
the apparent success of Nafta has softened opposition to the concept
of free trade, but not yet translated into a full-on embrace of the

Most Canadians are very hesitant about any notions of free trade with
China, and tepid at best about investment by Chinese state enterprises
in the Canadian resource sector. This comes from a reflexive worry
about our ability to compete with bigger players, and a longstanding
instinct not to bargain away our natural resources birthright.

We’re also less passionate than we used to be about involving
ourselves in the social rights agendas of other countries. We are
fatigued with the idea of nation building in Afghanistan. We don’t
always feel confident knowing when and where our voice is needed in
other trouble spots, how forceful our interventions should be in order
to be helpful, and whether we can really avoid being brushed off. Our
collective attentiveness to global issues has been slipping for years,
which contributes to this uncertainty.

A renewal of Canadian interest in international affairs would be a
good thing for Canada. Doing so requires this type of intense focus
from our political leaders, and benefits from vigorous competition
between parties to help inform and clarify our choices. Whatever
policy we make around trade and investment flows with China, whatever
role we choose to play in promoting human rights or fighting
collective environmental problems, it can’t help but be in our
interests to make these decisions on a more broadly informed basis.

That’s why many observers likely hope that the Prime Minister’s
extensive foreign policy work this year was about more than connecting
with targeted segments of Canadian voters, and winning a few more
seats, but instead signals a new era of active Canadian outreach. And
why most of the same observers also welcome the fact that the Liberals
have talented people like Michael Ignatieff, Bob Rae and trade critic
Scott Brison to provide a serious and thought provoking challenge to
the government.

Obama Reassures Singh On U.S.-India Ties
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By Don Gonyea

As a sign of India’s rising stature, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was
treated to the first state visit of Obama’s presidency. The two
leaders pledged to strengthen their economic ties, and Obama
reiterated the importance of the U.S. relationship with India.

Obama tried to assuage growing concerns by many in India that the
relationship between these two nations is being eclipsed by a greater
U.S. outreach to China, India’s neighbor.

That was the broad message of all of the White House events Tuesday.

“It will be another opportunity to convey to the prime minister and
the people of India, as India assumes its rightful place as a global
leader in this century, that you will have no better friend and
partner than the United States of America,” Obama said.

“I was deeply impressed by President Obama’s strong commitment to the
India-U.S. strategic partnership and by the breadth of his vision for
global peace and prosperity,” Singh said.

“After eight years — some of those years in which we did not have, I
think, either the resources or the strategy to get the job done — it
is my intention to finish the job,” Obama said.

But a weak Afghan government, the country’s mountainous terrain and
the tenacity of the insurgents all add up to a very difficult task, no
matter what the strategy.

A poll published Wednesday by USA Today shows support for Obama on
Afghanistan plummeting. Three months ago, 56 percent approved of his
handling of the issue. Now 55 percent disapprove.

Any big buildup is likely to displease much of the American public as
the war enters its ninth year, with casualties rising.

Obama predicts that the public will give him a fair hearing when he
presents his case: “I feel very confident that when the American
people hear a clear rationale for what we’re doing there, and how we
intend to achieve our goals, that they will be supportive.”

The president has the Thanksgiving weekend to finalize his strategy
for Afghanistan, and his plan for selling that strategy both at home
and abroad.

Send us a comment to : ***@southasiamail.com
By Rana Sarkar

There are few more important things Prime Minister Stephen Harper can
do for the future of the Canadian economy in our lifetimes than start
free-trade talks with India. Against the backdrop of aging
populations, thickening borders and the unlikely return of the U.S.
consumer as the global ATM – and in order to build the foundation for
competitiveness beyond the current downturn – we need to think
differently and act quickly to reduce our reliance on a single

We need to diversify into the big trading markets of the European
Union, Brazil, China and India. Given global multilateral trade talks
are mired in the sands of Doha for the foreseeable future, Canada’s
preference for bilateral pacts has proven a good instinct. With NAFTA,
and an EU free-trade deal in the works, we have secured two of the
largest markets, but Brazil remains tied up in its own regional
trading regime and China seems forever complicated. And so India
stands out as the next great opportunity for Canada.

Frankly, the timing could not be better. India is keen to expand its
global trade footprint and is selectively engaging in large deals of
its own, including ones with the EU and South Korea. But it is also
keen to get a foothold in the North American market. A quiet visit by
the Indian commerce minister to Ottawa in September has set the stage
for diplomatic dialogue on a comprehensive economic partnership – a
commitment to talk about talks. The Prime Minister should follow up
aggressively in India this week and stake his claim for full-blown
free-trade discussions.

“ Most countries got the memo circulated at Davos a few years ago”

An agreement will not happen overnight and will likely take years to
negotiate. But seizing on this initiative is rich with symbolism of
our intent to engage the New India and will help us jump the snaking
cue of the global great and good forming in Delhi. Most countries got
the memo circulated at Davos a few years ago: India, like China before
it, emerged from the global economic realignment as one of the great
players of the 21st century. It is now the fourth-largest economy in
the world in purchasing power parity, having grown at 6 to 9 per cent
over two decades, and will be, barring calamity, one of the big three
within 30 years.

Its self-sustaining growth is now past the tipping point – not fuelled
by exports alone but by a private sector composed of millions of
entrepreneurs, domestic consumption and new global ambition. India is
set to become one of the great global consumer markets in the decades
ahead as its North American-sized middle class flex their credit cards
and the country brings half a billion of its poorest into the global
economy for the first time.

Underwriting this growth has meant converting two enormous challenges
into strengths. India’s democracy, long viewed as a handicap to
growth, is now widely regarded as a source of multilayered strength,
able to see off complex challenges from security threats to brokering
the aspirations of the fast urbanizing poor. India’s billion-plus
population, once a Malthusian trap, now looks more like a demographic
dividend featuring a young population (half under 25) set to grow
rich(er) before they grow old – similar to postwar America and

A Canada-India free trade agreement would likely be focused primarily
on investment, labour mobility and services – fears of job losses and
a flood of cheap exports are overblown. The China-U.S. relationship,
often citied by critics of trade arrangements between developed and
big emerging markets, is instructive: Job losses and cheap imports
have occurred precisely because trade and investment liberalization is
lacking, creating a situation where China has depressed its currency
to dampen consumption and drive exports that are bought by U.S.
consumers increasingly through debt – debt that is, in turn, financed
by the Chinese. This, of course, will not be the case with Canada’s
trade with India.

With similar democratic institutions, Commonwealth heritage and strong
diasporic links, Canada and India have much in common institutionally,
making an agreement possible. What is required now is a greater level
of political and corporate-sector commitment – and a little
imagination – to make it a reality. (The Globe and Mail)

Rana Sarkar is president and executive director of the Canada-India
Business Council.

Mohammad Akbar: Canada should strengthen trade relationship with India
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By Mohammad Akbar

In light of news that China has overtaken Canada as the number one
exporter to the U.S., it makes more sense than ever that we stop
putting all our eggs into one basket.

Canada should seek to diversify its trade for the same reasons that an
investor diversifies his or her portfolio—to get better gains and
reduce risk.

Canadian businesses are concerned by the potential upheaval in North
American trade amid the emergence of a “Buy American” mentality and
the likelihood that NAFTA may be placed back on the negotiation

This is an opportune time for Canada to rethink its approach towards
international trade. We can and should open as many doors around the
world as possible for our businesses by moving toward free trade with
the world’s largest and fastest growing economies.

Preferential trade agreements or free trade agreements are becoming
very popular around the world as many countries become increasingly
disenchanted with the multilateral trade regime established under the
World Trade Organization.

I would suggest this is a very good time to be thinking of building a
stronger trade relationship with India.

The Indian economy has grown by more than nine percent for three years
running—growth that has been supported by economy-wide reforms, huge
inflows of direct foreign investment, rising foreign exchange
reserves, and a flourishing capital market.

Furthermore India is interested in building regional and bilateral
trade relationships and has entered into in number of them with the
zeal of a new convert. It is currently negotiating a free trade
agreement with the European Union and has signed an agreement to
cooperate in trade, investment, and energy issues with the U.S.

The Indian government is looking at alternative energy sources and has
also signed a wide-ranging nuclear treaty with the U.S.—an area that
can be exploited by Canada due to its comparative advantage in the
energy sector.

The Indian services sector, which accounts for more than 50 percent of
its GDP, is another tremendous opportunity for Canada .

Canada also has strong immigration ties with India that are currently
not reflected in trade relations. Over the last five years, trade
between the two countries has only amounted to about US$4 billion.

In this age of globalization, economic relations are a key to
strengthening political and foreign relations. A bilateral agreement
with India could yield meaningful strategic benefits.

India is an important country for Canada because of its geographical
location and its emerging role in global politics. Greater market
access to India and its one billion people will also help reduce
Canadian businesses’ vulnerability to the ups and downs of the U.S.
market. That will expand production here at home and create more jobs
while at the same time providing a cheap source of imports for both
goods and services.

In short, free trade with India would not only be a tremendous benefit
to Canadian business but would also establish Canada’s presence
politically and socially in one of the world’s great emerging

Mohammad Akbar is a professor of economics in the school of business
at Kwantlen Polytechnic University.

Singh’s US visit is rich with symbolism
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Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s upcoming state visit to the US
would be reinforcement of America’s friendship with India. The trip
will be a test of India’s willingness to follow through with
acquisitions of civilian nuclear technology and ‘to agree to a test

‘The first state visit under the Obama administration is rich with
symbolism,’ ‘It will solidify the US-Indian relationship under a
Democratic president.’

Obama administration has many officials who were skeptical of the
India-US civil nuclear deal. ‘The visit will be a test of India’s
willingness to follow through with concrete acquisitions of civilian
nuclear technology, and to agree to a test ban.

Manmohan Singh is scheduled to visit the US Nov 24.

The Obama administration early on learned to de-hyphenate India and
Pakistan, he said, adding ‘The challenges facing Pakistan’s survival
from within are driving relations there and are of a more urgent
nature than the slowly but steadily developing relationship with

For Americans and Europeans, the terrorist origins in Pakistan are as
alarming as they are to Indians. US officials understand well,
perhaps better than some in the Bush administration that India is
pursuing improvements in its external circumstances along every

‘The relationship is important, and increasingly so, but it is not
exclusive in either direction. Both nations are pursuing their
interests with a cool eye and a sense of balance. This is a healthy
basis for long-term cooperation where the interests coincide.

The US and India share concerns about the terrorist threats we face.
We have a common interest in globalisation occurring in an orderly
fashion and a host of other issues. In those efforts, our allied
efforts will be critical.

Douglas H. Paal, is vice president for studies at the Carnegie
Endowment for International Peace.

Religious Freedom in India
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Lalit K Jha

A US government report on Monday praised the religious freedom in
India despite mentioning instances of attacks on religious minorities,
and lauded the “independent” judiciary and a “vibrant” civil society
for acting against violations whenever they occur.

The annual report on International Religions Freedom, between July
2008 and June 2009, released in Washington by Secretary of State
Hillary Clinton, also mentioned the Mumbai terror attacks in which
extremists targeted luxury hotels, a crowded railway station, a Jewish
centre, a hospital and restaurants.

It, however, criticised the police and law enforcement agencies for
often not acting swiftly to effectively counter violence and attacks
by extremists.

“In general, India’s democratic system, open society, independent
legal institutions, vibrant civil society and press all provided
mechanisms to address violations of religious freedom when they did
occur,” the State Department said in its annual report.

In its section on India, it said, although vast majority of citizens
of every religious group lived in peaceful coexistence, “some
organised societal attacks against minority religious groups
occurred,” and accused enforcement agencies for not acting swiftly in
many cases.

It also mentioned the violence in Kandhamal in August 2008 after the
killing of Swami Lakshmanananda by individuals affiliated with the
Maoists. The violence claimed 40 lives and left 134 injured, it said.

“Although most victims were Christians, the underlying causes that led
to the violence have complex ethnic, economic, religious and political
roots related to land ownership and government-reserved employment and
educational benefits,” it said, adding that police arrested 1,200
persons, including a Maoist leader and registered over 1,000 criminal

According to several independent accounts, an estimated 3,200 refugees
remained in relief camps, down from 24,000 in the immediate aftermath
of the violence, the report noted.

It said numerous cases remained in courts, including those related to
the 2002 Gujarat violence, the 1984 anti-Sikh riots, and the more
recent attacks against Christians, and some extremists continued to
view the ineffective investigation and prosecution as a signal that
they could commit such violence with impunity.

The State Department report said government officials responded to a
number of new and previous violent events, helping to prevent communal
violence and providing relief and rehabilitation packages for victims
and their families.

It also praised leaders of religious groups for making public efforts
to show respect for other groups by celebrating their holidays and
attending social events, and for protesting cases of violence against
other communities.

“Muslim groups protested the mistreatment of Christians by Hindu
extremists… Christian clergy and spokespersons for Christian
organisations issued public statements condemning anti-Muslim violence
in places such as Gujarat,” it said.
After the Mumbai strikes, religious leaders of all communities
condemned the attacks and issued statements to maintain communal
harmony, the report said.

Lalit K Jha is a talented and results-oriented journalist with
extensive experience reporting upon international affairs and
government operations for leading national newspapers and wire

Taliban Terror in Pakistan
Send us a comment to : ***@southasiamail.com

By Walid Phares

Taliban Terror in Pakistan
The war between the Taliban and Pakistan continues to accelerate. Just
last weekend, Pakistan’s army responded to a long string of Taliban
attacks by launching a massive ground operation in Waziristan.

But through this already-long fight, the press and other observers
have only focused on the continuing bloodshed rather than the fact
that the Taliban continue to launch suicide bombers and other types of
attacks inside Pakistan’s cities against its police and military
forces. We warned that the Taliban’s war on Pakistan’s government and
civil society, would widen since the assassination of Prime Minister
elect Benazir Bhutto in December 2007. And so it is today.

It is unfortunate, but nevertheless true, that he most important
events – the worst events — in this war have yet to happen. And
analysts must focus on the lessons learned so far so that the worrying
projections can be accompanied with parallel policy suggestions.

The jihadi campaign in Pakistan was planned years ago, but the
electoral victory in 2007 of the secular Party of the People, headed
traditionally by the Bhutto clan, triggered an acceleration of the
Taliban general offensive. Initially the Mullahs of the most radical
Salafists on the face of Earth – in partnership with al Qaeda — wanted
to seize Pakistan gradually, with further infiltration. They were
building their “Emirate” sanctuary in Waziristan and beyond, while
penetrating the intelligence agencies and other segments of the

But since September 2008 when Benazir’s widower Asif Ali Zardari was
elected as new President and as he clearly pledged to fight
“terrorism,” the Taliban leaped to preempt his designs. In one short
year, they escalated their attacks reaching a point 60 miles from
Islamabad last April. That week, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham
Clinton said that Zardari’s government was “abdicating to the Taliban
and the extremists.”

In fact when the Jihadist forces entered the Swat valley and began
heading towards the capital’s suburbs, the country’s Government was
tested strategically. I told Fox News then that this was a “red line.”
Crossing it towards Islamabad meant a Taliban advance all over the
country. But if the Army would cross it in reverse, it would mean a
full fledge war against the Taliban. And in fact it did happen, as we
can see today. So what are the lessons so far?

Taliban Forces
First, the Taliban and their jihadi allies have clearly shown that
they have cells capable of conducting terror attacks way beyond their
enclaves. Hence one needs to expect protracted violence in urban
zones. The armed Islamists aren’t a new force appearing only this
year, but a network growing for decades. Now is their time to try to
take out the secular government.

Second, the attacks against the military headquarters and bases, never
performed before, can be copycatted against more dangerous locations,
including nuclear sites: storage locations, launching pads or delivery
systems. It is a question of time before such a scenario could

Third, assassinations are still possible. As with the late lady
Benazir, the Taliban knows that achieving such goals can trigger even
wider clashes inside the country.

Fourth, the present Pakistani government is strategically decided to
fight and dismantle the Taliban enclaves in the Northwest provinces.
If this government fails, such an opportunity will not happen again
soon. All of these factors indicate that this is the last card been
played, in this generation, against the jihadists of Pakistan.

Fifth, the Taliban war on the secular government in Pakistan shows a
determination to take over that country. It also shows that the notion
of a “moderate Taliban” has no connection to reality. Otherwise the
Pakistani Muslim Government would have found these alleged “moderate
Taliban” and mobilize them against the bad guys. It didn’t happen and
it won’t.
Hence, based on these findings, the following are strategic
recommendations for the US Administration to consider seriously:

a. As Pakistan’s armed forces and its government are waging a counter
campaign on the Taliban, Washington must refrain from regurgitating
the myth of “cutting deals with the good Taliban” as an exit strategy
for Afghanistan. Such a hallucination would crumble the determination
of anti-Taliban forces in Afghanistan and would weaken the resolve of
the Pakistanis engaged in their own national counter terrorism
campaign against the Taliban.

b. The Obama Administration must help Zardari’s government discretely
and at the demand of the latter. US and Pakistani leaders should
coordinate efforts without exposing this cooperation to jihadist

c. The Obama Administration must rapidly extend resources to General
McCrystal in Afghanistan so that the pincer movement against the
regional Taliban can happen at the same time. Now that the Pakistanis
are on the offensive in Waziristan, NATO and Afghan forces must take
the offensive on the other side of the border. The Taliban must not be
enabled to fight one adversary at a time, by massing all their
resources in two countries against one foe then move to the next.

I am sure US and NATO strategists and Pakistani decision makers have
this in mind. But we need to make sure US decision makers do not have
other plans in mind. Otherwise, if the pincer strategy is not
performed, we may lose not one but two countries in the region to the
jihadists, one of them being already nuclear.

Dr Walid Phares is the Co-Secretary General of the Transatlantic
Parliamentary Group on Counter Terrorism and a senior fellow at the
Foundation for Defense of Democracy.


The World is What it is: Authorized Biography of VS Naipaul
By Patrick French

Review by Cyril Dabydeen

A curmudgeon, there’s no question, as far as rumours go about V. S.
Naipaul, Nobel Laureate and Booker Prize winner, benighted by the
Queen for being litterateur par excellence. He’s both celebrated and
derided, all at the same time. But why? The recent Authorized
Biography by Patrick French is still hotly discussed in literary
circles; mention the name V.S. Naipaul, and you’re bound to get a
terse reaction, even with vitriol, often contrapuntal or just
contrarious. Many Caribbean intellectuals are fraught over him for his
damning comments about race and Africa; at conferences I’ve heard the
call for his books to be burned. His spat with the other Caribbean
Nobel Laureate, Derek Walcott, is well-known (a la “V.S. Nighfall”);
yet Walcott has acknowledged Naipaul’s superb craftsmanship as a
master stylist bent on changing the novel’s “bastardized form”--as
Naipaul sees it.

Naipaul has said, “I became a writer to be free.” And maybe too free
he is: his earliest books about India such as An Area of Darkness and
A Wounded Civilization caused quite a stir. But Naipaul’s novels from
the earliest, such as A House for Mr Biswas, to the later books like
The Enigma of Arrival and A Bend in the River are classics, or near
classics. Indeed the Nobel Prize Committee 's citation of Naipaul's
award was for his "incorruptible scrutiny in works that compel us to
see the presence of suppressed histories," and singling out The Enigma
of Arrival (1987) for its "unrelenting image of the placid collapse of
the old colonial ruling culture and the demise of European

Maybe therein lies the problem or dilemma, jaundiced as Naipaul’s view
may be. And the Muslim fundamentalist world has come in for much of
his criticism in books such as Among the Believers: An Islamic Journey
and Beyond Belief: Islamic Excursions Among the Converted Peoples.
Late distinguished post-colonial critic Edward Said would describe
what he calls Naipaul’s “funny moments... at the expense of Muslims,
who are ‘wogs’ after all as seen by Naipaul's British and American
readers, potential fanatics and terrorists, who cannot spell, be
coherent, sound right to a worldly-wise, somewhat jaded judge from the

Yet Said acknowledged in his Reith Lectures Naipaul’s "extraordinary
antennae as a novelist," of his "sifting through the debris of
colonialism and post-colonialism, remorselessly judging the illusions
and cruelties of independent states and the new true believers...."
This distilled view is juxtaposed with Naipaul’s earlier expression in
Middle Passage (1962): "History is built around achievement and
creation; and nothing was created in the West Indies,” which caused
furore among some West Indian intellectuals; and Naipaul has gone on
to speak of "the colonial smallness [of Trinidad] that didn't consort
with the grandeur of my ambition."

Naipaul has influenced a whole slew of writers, including this writer–
as well as many modern-day Indians like Amitav Ghosh. Indeed, “it was
Naipaul who first made it possible for me to think of myself as a
writer,” Ghosh has said as he grew more comfortable with the
indwelling life of the mind. The most well-known Chinese-American
writer, Ha Jin, told us (when I was a juror of the Neustadt
International Prize for Literature at the University of Oklahoma) how
he would read Naipaul all the time on his train journeys in the US,
with a similar response to Ghosh’s; Ha Jin was a fellow juror.

Recent book reviewers of the French Biography have commented on
Naipaul’s treatment of his wife, Pat (he met her at Oxford), and
perhaps she was his best editor and confidante; and French quotes
Naipaul as saying “I have killed her”; Pat died of breast cancer. His
unsentimental self is what we have and being unequivocal about art as
well as equally satirical about politics as Naipaul assesses old and
new societies, often unsparing about the latter.

About himself and India, Naipaul has said: “I cannot belong to India
for the simple reason that I don’t know the language.” Naipaul, of
course, is of Indian forbears: the grandson of an indentured sugar
cane worker–of Brahmin caste--brought from Uttar Pradesh by the
British to the Chaguanas plantations in Trinidad. And you would think
that Naipaul would hate the British for this. But he has said, in
l979, perhaps too forthrightly: "I do not write for Indians, who in
any case do not read. My work is only possible in a liberal, civilized
western country"; and the enigma echoes: "The thing about being an
Indian, and it remains true of Indian writing now, is that it seems to
work without history, in a vacuum."

Misanthropic, if not satirical, Naipaul continues to excite or
intrigue, perhaps for just being outrageous with trenchant utterances
like his egregiously famous: "The dot means my head is empty":
referring to the bindi Hindu women wear; or, on Pakistan: "The
Pakistani dream is one day there'll be a Muslim resurgence and they
will lead the prayers in the mosques in Delhi"; and of Britain, it’s
“a country of second-rate people--bum politicians, scruffy writers and
crooked aristocrats."

In French’s Biography, there are touching elements, such as Naipaul’s
obsession and praising of his writer-father Seepersad Naipaul, and
about the family squabbles pitting the Capildeo clan (on his mother’s
side) with the Naipauls (on his father’s), all which rivets the
attention, as one is also acutely aware of Naipaul seeing “mimic men”
in the colonial setting with all that’s banal or incongruous.

V.S. Naipaul keeps seeking out other meanings in a diasporic new world
order by setting his gaze on more than imaginary homelands (as Salman
Rushdie does), always with troubling enigmas and, on occasion,
mutinies, if a million or more in India–which still beckons. Indeed,
he is the sum of his books; the novels always tell more than the
biography; and Naipaul affirms Marcel Proust’s axiom: of "the
secretions of one's innermost self, written in solitude and for
oneself alone that one gives to the public,” seen in his own
imaginative outpouring. But maybe with Naipaul controversy never ends:
the latest is about his Pakistani-journalist wife Nadera Naipaul’s
spat with Winnie Mandela over an interview-article in the UK’s Evening
Standard touching on Nelson Mandela’s patriarchal image. Read on!

Cyril Dabydeen’s novel, Drums of My Flesh (TSAR Publications) won the
Guyana Prize for Best Book of Fiction and had been nominated for the
prestigious IMPAC/Dublin Prize for Literature.


Media, entertainment seen as $24 bn industry in India by 2014

Mumbai, The $13 billion Indian media and entertainment industry is
seen growing 13 percent annually over the next five years to net
revenues of $24.25 billion by 2014, says a report released Tuesday.

The study by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and
Industry (FICCI) made the projection based on the recovery staged by
the industry in the last quarter of 2009, which, it feels, will
continue in the future.

The growth will be driven by factors like favourable demographics,
high economic growth, strong fundamentals, expected rise in
advertising revenue and increasing penetration, adds the study,
conducted jointly by consultancy KPMG.

“The media and entertainment industry represents the face of consumers
in India,” said FICCI secretary general Amit Mitra, after the study
was released by Maharashtra Chief Minister Ashok Chavan at the Frames
2010 conference.

“It is a part of our daily life and touches maximum number of people.
So despite the challenging last year, I’m excited by the potential of
the industry to even grow beyond 13 percent per annum over the next
few years,” Mitra said.

Others who attended the inaugural event at India’s commercial and
entertainment hub included actors Shah Rukh Khan and Katrina Kaif and
filmmakers Yash Chopra and Karan Johar.

Speaking on the session, Shah Rukh Khan said the three basic needs of
every Indian — food, clothing and shelter (roti, kapda aur makaan) —
appeared to have been fulfilled for most.

“There is now a fourth desire and that is entertainment and movies are
a popular source of this fourth requirement. Another concept popularly
emerging and posing to have a great future is sport entertainment,” he

“We are at the threshold of a huge burst on the entertainment arena in
India and entertainment is the packaging of a growing economy.”

As per the FICCI-KPMG study several factors augur well for the
industry, notably the potential for growth in media reach, impact of
digitisation and convergence, better consumer understanding,
innovation and enhanced penetration of regional markets.

The study also gives the following estimates of the size of various
segments of media and entertainment industry in 2009 and the
projection for 2014:

Television: From $5.71 billion to $11.58 billion
Filmed Entertainment: From $1.98 billion to $3.09 billion
Print Media: From $3.88 billion to $5.97 billion
Radio: From $173 million to $364 million
Music: From $184 million to $382 million
Animation: From just $71 million to $1.03 billion

According to the study, gaming will be the fastest growing sector in
the media and entertainment industry. This sector grew 22 percent in
2009 and is expected to expand by 32 percent per annum to reach $711
million by 2014.


PakNationalists - Bal Thackeray 'Wanted' By Pakistan
© paknationalists |

4:33 PM Posted by com puter

© 2007-2009. All rights reserved. AhmedQuraishi.com & PakNationalists
Verbatim copying and distribution of this entire article is permitted
in any medium
without royalty provided this notice is preserved.

Indian Hindu Terrorist Bal Thackeray 'Wanted' By Pakistan

Thackeray issued a call to form Hindu suicide squads, "to take the
Muslims head on". Labeling them as "trouble makers", Balaji called for
them to be wiped out from the country to make India secure. Urging
Hindus to start referring to India Hindu rashtra" (Hindu nation), the
Shiv Sena militant leader maintains that only "our religion [Hinduism]
is to be honored here" and then "we will look after other religions".
At least two senior retired Indian military officers answered Bal
Thackeray's call to set up the suicide squads in India.

By S.M Hali

The Daily Mail of Pakistan
Wednesday, 17 March 2010.

According to reports, the eighth Indian dossier containing more
"details" on the Mumbai terror attacks has been handed over to the
Interior Minister, Mr. Rehman Malik by Foreign Secretary Salman

India had submitted the dossier last week at the one-point Foreign
Secretary level talks, seeking "strict action" against Jamaat-ud-Dawah
(JuD) chief Hafiz Saeed, who is alleged to be the mastermind of the
26/11 Mumbai terror attacks. India had submitted three dossiers, one
of them concerning the handing over of Saeed and 34 others wanted by

However, after the talks, Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir had
commented that evidence presented by New Delhi against Saeed was "mere
literature" and India did not have enough proof against him. Earlier,
New Delhi had expressed "severe concern" over Islamabad's "inaction"
against Saeed. India needs to accept the fact that Pakistan's free and
fair judiciary, whose independence was acclaimed by India too, had
examined the evidence against Hafiz Saeed, after he was arrested in
the aftermath of the Mumbai attacks. In light of the data presented by
India as "proof" incriminating Hafiz Saeed, the independent judiciary
in Pakistan had considered it inadequate to convict him thus he was
set free. India, which boasts of an independent, fair and free
judicial system in its own country, should realize that it has Ajmal
Kassab in its custody, who is alleged to be the sole survivor of the
attackers involved in the Mumbai carnage. Despite Ajmal Kassab's
signed "confession", video footage of the assailants and hundreds of
"witnesses" of the heinous crime, Indian judicial system is yet to
declare Mr. Kassab guilty of any crime. India will have to put faith
in Pakistan's judiciary or provide solid evidence of Hafiz Saeed's
involvement in the gory episode.

India had also expressed dissent over Islamabad allowing Saeed to make
'provocative and insidious' statements against India during a
television interview. Saeed had declared an open 'Jihad' against India
in the interview. "If India is not ready to talk on water and Kashmir
then Pakistan should wage a war against India. JuD will fight along
with the Pakistan army," the Jihadi leader had said.

Hafiz Saeed's comments may be termed provocative but surely it is not
a serious crime meriting his arrest and handing over to India. If it
were so, India's own firebrand demagogue Bal Keshav Thackeray,
popularly known as Balasaheb Thackeray, who is the founder and chief
of the Shiv Sena, a hardcore Hindu terrorist, Marathi ethnocentric and
extremist party, must be taken cognizance of. The hothead, highly
vocal radical leader, in his vitriolic comments seldom hides the venom
he harbors for Muslims and Pakistan. In 2002, Thackeray issued a call
to form Hindu suicide squads, "to take the Muslims head on". Labeling
them as "trouble makers", Balaji called for them to be wiped out from
the country to make India secure. Urging Hindus to start referring to
India Hindu rashtra" (Hindu nation), the Shiv Sena militant leader
maintains that only "our religion [Hinduism] is to be honored here"
and then "we will look after other religions".

At least two organizations founded and managed by the retired Indian
Army officers namely Lieutenant Colonel Jayant Rao Chitale and
Lieutenant General P.N. Hoon (former commander-in-chief of the Western
Command), answered Bal Thackeray's call to set up the suicide squads
in India. Lieutenant General Hoon claimed, Thackeray instructed him to
set up the training camps. Another Balaji follower is Indian Army's
serving Lieutenant Colonel Srikanth Prasad Prohit, wanted by Pakistan
for his complicity in torching the Samjhota Express which took a toll
of 59 Pakistani passengers. Bal Thackeray continues to publish
inflammatory editorials in his party's newsletter, Samna
(Confrontation). When explaining his views on Hindutva he has
conflated Islam with violence and has called for Hindus to "fight
Islam". In an interview in Suketu Mehta's book 'Maximum City', he
advocates the hanging of Indian Muslims and mass expulsion of Muslim
migrants from neighboring Bangladesh. One of his more acerbic
statements needs attention: "They [Muslims] are spreading like a
cancer and should be operated on like a cancer. The... country should
be saved from the Muslims and the police should support them [Hindu
Maha Sangh] in their struggle just like the police in Punjab were
sympathetic to the Khalistanis."

Balasaheb Thackeray criticized and challenged Indian Muslims through
his party newspaper, Samna, around the time the 16th century Babri
Masjid was demolished by members of the Shiv Sena and the Bharatiya
Janata Party (BJP) in the northern town of Ayodhya, on December 6,
1992. The razing of the mosque was followed by a mass genocide of
Muslims. The Justice Srikrishna Commission of Enquiry, which
investigated the ensuing communal riots in Mumbai, named Thackeray for
sparking anti-Muslim violence, which led to more than 1,000 deaths in
several ensuing riots, many by having kerosene poured on their bodies
while alive and then being burned to death. The Srikrishna Commission
found that Thackeray was personally responsible, not only for inciting
the mobs through his incendiary speeches, but also directly
coordinating the movement of the rioters. In a deposition before the
Srikrishna Commission a witness alleged Thackeray coordinated much of
the January 1993 Mumbai carnage. Yuvraj Mohite claimed, "Balasaheb
ordered that not one Muslim be left alive to stand in the witness box,
and asked his men to send the additional police commissioner, A A
Khan, to his Allah." Balaji later announced: "I am proud of what my
boys have done. We had to retaliate and we did. If it was not for us,
no one would have controlled the Muslims." He has since made more
inflammatory statements regarding Muslims, and reiterated his desire
for Hindus to unite across linguistic barriers and to see "a Hindustan
for Hindus" and to "bring Islam in this country down to its knees".

I rest my case for readers to decide themselves, whether Balaji
Thackeray should be handed over to Pakistan to face trial for his
crimes against humanity or not? Surely there is enough evidence to
convict him.

This op-ed was published by The Daily Times. It is reproduced here
through a special arrangement.

© 2007-2009. All rights reserved. AhmedQuraishi.com & PakNationalists
Verbatim copying and distribution of this entire article is permitted
in any medium
without royalty provided this notice is preserved.


...and I am Sid Harth
Sid Harth
2010-03-17 17:41:44 UTC
Category:Political scandals in India
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

This category has only the following subcategory.

[+] Bofors scandal (10 P)

Pages in category "Political scandals in India"
The following 14 pages are in this category, out of 14 total. This
list may not reflect recent changes (learn more).

Indian political scandals
1971 Nagarwala scandal

Barak Missile scandal
Bofors scandal

Cash-for-votes scandal

Fodder Scam

Hawala scandal

Harshad Mehta
Haridas Mundhra

Ottavio Quattrocchi

SNC Lavalin scandal
Sukh Ram

Taj corridor case
Tata Tapes


1971 Nagarwala scandal
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

On May 24, 1971 , INR 60 lakh (= £330,000) (was withdrawn from the
State Bank of India (Parliament Street branch) and given to a
Bangladesh ka babu or "man from Bangladesh" after the chief cashier,
Ved Prakash Malhotra, got a call purportedly from Indira Gandhi then
Prime Minister of India asking him to do so.

Later it was discovered that former army captain, Rustom Sohrab
Nagarwala, then attached to Indian intelligence or R&AW, collected the
money from Malhotra, by "mimicking the voice of Mrs. Indira Gandhi",
presumably for being diverted to the Mukti Bahini in its guerrilla-
liberation campaign from West Pakistan. Nagarwalla, it was later
alleged, was about to leave that same evening for Nepal. He was
arrested, however, after Malhotra went in person to collect a receipt
from P. N. Haksar, Indira Gandhi's personal secretary, informing him
that the requested payment was done. A stunned Haksar informed
Malhotra that Mrs Gandhi had instructed nothing of the sort and urged
him to inform the police immediately.


The opposition parties suspected that the money belonged to Indira
Gandhi. They also alleged that it was not an isolated case.

The investigating officer, D. K. Kashyap, investigating the case was
killed in a car attack. Nagarwala was sentenced for four years and
died in prison in February, 1973. This was due to deliberate neglect
of his increasing ill-health, a point in fact later confirmed in an
official enquiry.

A Commission of Inquiry was set up by Janata Party under Justice P.
Jagan Mohan Reddy on June 9, 1977, to probe into the Nagarwala case.


Justice Jaganmohan Reddy listed four "incontrovertible facts" - one of
them being the fact that Indira Gandhi did not have any account in
that branch - but concluded that they were not sufficient to hold that
the money belonged to her. "There were several lacunae," he said, and
listed them. "To supply an answer to these (lacunae) would force me to
leave the safe haven of facts which required to be established by
evidence and enter the realm of conjectures and speculation." (p.

External links


India's National Magazine
From the publishers of THE HINDU
Vol. 15 :: No. 17 :: August 15 - 28, 1998

A law unto itself

The Jain Commission has run amuck, flouting the Commissions of Inquiry
Act, its own terms of reference, the rules of natural justice and the
norms of the judicial function.


JUSTICE M.C. JAIN has driven a coach and four through the law in his
Final Report. Let us consider first the law and, next, Jain's conduct.
Section 3 of the Commissions of Inquiry Act puts a strong fetter on
the Government as well as the Lok Sabha's power to appoint a
Commission of Inquiry. A Commission can be appointed only "for the
purpose of making an inquiry into any definite matter of public
importance." In the case of a former Chief Minister of Bihar, K. B.
Sahay, the Supreme Court said: "If the charges were vague or
speculative suggesting a fishing expedition, we would have paused to
consider whether such an inquiry should be allowed to proceed." (AIR
1969 S.C. 258 to 262; emphasis added, throughout).

The Royal Commission on Tribunals of Inquiry headed by Lord Justice
Salmon noted realistically that "as the agitation for an inquiry is
very often the result of nothing more than general allegation and
rumour, it is necessary to keep the Tribunal within reasonable
bounds... The Act lays down ... that what is to be inquired into shall
be a 'definite matter'. Accordingly, no Tribunal should be set up to
investigate a nebulous mass of vague and unspecified rumours. The
reference should confine the inquiry to the investigation of the
definite matter which is causing a crisis of public confidence. (1966;
Cmnd. 3121, p. 30, para 78). The Commissions of Inquiry Act of 1952 is
based on the British statute, the Tribunals of Inquiry (Evidence) Act,

The Jain Commission did just that - launch a fishing expedition spread
over seven years. Similar violations of the law by the Thakkar
Commission that inquired into Indira Gandhi's assassination and the
Thakkar-Natarajan Commission that inquired into the Fairfax case have
gone unnoticed. Secondly, appointed to inquire into a "definite"
matter of public importance, the Commission's report must be based on
legal evidence and it must either give a finding of fact or decline to
do so if the evidence is inadequate. It is utterly impermissible for
it to voice "suspicion", whether directly or indirectly. To mention
mere "possibilities" as distinct from probabilities and refuse to
"rule out" some is calculatedly to raise a suspicion that they did
occur, the lack of evidence notwithstanding. No judicial exercise, be
it in a court of law or an inquiry, can indulge in such an exercise.

The third violation of the law is as gross and occurs despite an
important but overlooked ruling of the Supreme Court. No Commission of
Inquiry has any right to recommend prosecution or interrogation of any
individual. On December 11, 1956, the Government of India set up a
Commission of Inquiry to go into the affairs of companies controlled
by Ramkrishna Dalmia and his associates. Clause 10 of the terms of
reference of the Commission directed it to inquire into "any
irregularities" in those firms, except those in respect of which
criminal proceedings were pending in a court of law and to recommend
thus "and the action which in the opinion of the Commission should be
taken as and by way of securing redress or punishment or to act as a
preventive in future cases."

This part of Clause 10 was struck down by the Bombay High Court and
the Supreme Court. In the High Court, Chief Justice M. C. Chagla ruled
that it was not open to the Commission "to point out to the Union
Government what civil or criminal action can be taken with regard to
these breaches of law" under the new Companies Act. That was "beyond
the legislative competence of Parliament". The Commission was asked
"to inform the Government in order that Government should launch civil
or criminal proceedings. Now, such an investigation can only be
instituted by means of the judicial process and not through the device
of a Commission."

Justice Chagla amplified: "It is not open to the Government by this
notification to put any individual in the position of an accused, to
constitute a Commission to investigate into any offence that he might
have committed, and to place before it materials collected so that on
the strength of those materials a prosecution could be launched.... it
would be competent to Government to get information with regard to
breaches of law, so that legislation may be passed to prevent such
breaches in future, and there is no reason to suggest why breaches of
law referred to in the first part of Clause (10) were to be
investigated into only for the purpose of instituting civil or
criminal proceedings and not also for the purpose of legislation. In
our opinion, therefore, the last part of Clause (10) from the words
"and the action" to "in future cases" is ultra vires of the Act and
the Government is not competent to require the Commission to make any
report with regard to these matters (Ram Krishna Dalmia vs. Mr.
Justice S. P. Tendulkar 59, Bom.L.R. 769 at 775).

The ruling was upheld by a unanimous judgment of a Constitution Bench
of the Supreme Court delivered by Chief Justice S. R. Das. He held
that "there can be no objection even to the Commission of Inquiry
recommending the imposition of some form of punishment which will, in
its opinion, be sufficiently deterrent to delinquents in future. But
seeing that the Commission of Inquiry has no judicial powers and its
report will purely be recommendatory and not effective proprio vigor
and the statement made by any person before the Commission of Inquiry
is, under Section 6 of the Act, wholly inadmissible in evidence in any
future proceedings, civil or criminal, there can be no point in the
Commission of Inquiry making recommendations for taking any action 'as
and by way of securing redress or punishment' which, in agreement with
the High Court, we think, refers in the context to wrongs already done
or committed; for redress or punishment for such wrongs, if any, has
to be imposed by a Court of law properly constituted exercising its
own discretion on the facts and circumstances of the case and without
being in any way influenced by the view of any person or body,
howsoever august or high-powered it may be. Having regard to all these
considerations it appears to us that only that portion of the last
part of Clause(10) which calls upon the Commission of Inquiry to make
recommendations about the action to be taken 'as and by way of
securing redress or punishment' cannot be said to be at all necessary
for or ancillary to the purposes of the Commission." (AIR 1958 S.C.

If the Jain Report is invalid on this score, the Action Taken Report
(ATR) falls with it. Section 3(4) of the Act was amended in 1971 to
bind the Government to lay before the Lok Sabha (or the State
Assembly, as the case may be) the Commission's report "together with a
memorandum of the action taken thereon within a period of six months
from the submission of the report by the Commission..." The
Government's ATR must be based on the Commission's Report

Fourthly, while Commissions of Inquiry are not bound by the Indian
Evidence Act, 1872, they are not free to disregard the principles
underlying it. The Law Commission's 24th Report (1962) on the Act
quoted G.W. Keeton's remarks in his classic Trial by Tribunal (1960):
"When the question of the involvement of a particular person in a
particular transaction is under consideration, however, the Tribunal
restricts itself to the facts admissible under the normal rules of
evidence." The Law Commission said approvingly: "We recommend that the
same practice should be followed in our country also." It did not
recommend any statutory provision lest "a rigid provision may defeat
the very object of the Act; namely, to find out the truth." But in its
pursuit, speculation cannot be substituted for evidence.

In 1970, Justice Y. V. Chandrachud said in his report on the
circumstances relating to the death of Deen Dayal Upadhyaya: "I have
to grapple with quite a mass of irrelevant and hearsay evidence.... I
could not reject that evidence on the ground of its inadmissiblity
under the Evidence Act but that does not mean that I must accept it as
good evidence" (p. 7). For instance, the Evidence Act makes
inadmissible opinion evidence except in some specific cases such as
handwriting or expert evidence (Sections 45 to 51). It is not open to
a person to say, for instance, that in his opinion, X conspired to
murder Y. He can only depose to facts within his personal knowledge.
Jain declared open season on assassination "theories". The Radcliffe
Tribunal, set up to probe into allegations in the press on espionage
and breaches of security in the Admiralty, noted that "most of these
statements, it turned out, were either pure comment expressed in the
form of assertion of fact or else inferences put together from other
readily accessible sources... Our only function, as we have seen it,
is to try to report on the facts coming before us in our inquiry..."

Fifthly, if the Report must be based on facts, not opinions, what must
be the standard of proof of the facts? Section 3 of the Evidence Act
simply says that "a fact is said to be proved when, after considering
the matters before it, the court either believes it to exist, or
considers its existence so probable that a prudent person ought, under
the circumstances of the particular case, to act upon the supposition
that it exists." There is a similar formulation in regard to a
situation in which a fact is "disproved". In contrast is the
definition of "not proved" - "neither proved nor disproved". That is
the honest course when evidence is inadequate. To seek refuge in
suspicion when there is no proof is unjudicial. To arraign people on
suspicion is unjust.

IT is all right to decide civil disputes on a balance of
probabilities. But no "prudent man" will inflict punishment save on
the basis of proof beyond reasonable doubt, the rule in criminal
cases. The S.R. Das Commission on Partap Singh Kairon insisted on the
stricter standard of proof. For, "No individual shall be condemned on
suspicion, however strong. " The Evidence Act does not apply but its
fundamentals do.

The J. R. Vimadalal Commission's Report (1978) on J. Vengala Rao,
former Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh, opted for a lower standard
but held that "the graver the consequence of a finding in regard to a
particular allegation, the higher should be the preponderance of
probability which a Commission of Inquiry should require to be
established, before it holds a fact to be proved and arrives at a
finding to that effect."

D.R. Karthikeyan, chief of the Special Investigation Team and later
Director of the CBI.

These Commissions were concerned with charges of abuse of power by
Chief Ministers. How much more stringent must be the standard of proof
in a case in which the allegation is culpable neglect that leads to
murder or actual complicity in it? No prudent person would accept any
other test but proof beyond reasonable doubt.

There was a Commission of Inquiry which had to probe into a bizarre
case seven years later. It was honest enough to pronounce "not proved"
despite proven indications that could legitimately create suspicion in
a layperson's mind. The Judge refused to endorse suspicions despite
the fact that he detested the policies of the person under suspicion,
Indira Gandhi. Justice P. Jaganmohan Reddy, one of the finest judges
to have sat on, was appointed as Commission of Inquiry on June 9,
1977, to probe into the Nagarwala case. On May 24, 1971, R. S.
Nagarwala was able to take out Rs. 60 lakhs from the State Bank of
India's Parliament Street branch by "mimicking the voice of Mrs.
Indira Gandhi" to Chief Cashier Ved Prakash Malhotra. Nagarwala died
of heart attack in prison. Neglect by the authorities was patent. The
investigating officer, D. K. Kashyap, was killed in a car attack. If
Milap Chand Jain had been let loose on the case at the behest of the
Government, a mountain of suspicion would have been raised. Justice
Jaganmohan Reddy only listed four "incontrovertible facts" - one of
them being the fact that Indira Gandhi did not have any account in
that branch - but concluded that they were not sufficient to hold that
the money belonged to her. "There were several lacunae," he said, and
listed them. "To supply an answer to these (lacunae) would force me to
leave the safe haven of facts which required to be established by
evidence and enter the realm of conjectures and speculation." (p.
176). He did not talk of "needles of suspicion" nor direct a "finger
of suspicion".

Lastly, a Commission's report is very much open to judicial review. It
can be quashed by the High Court or the Supreme Court if, among other
things, it has failed to abide by the rules of evidence or if its
reasoning is illogical grossly. The Privy Council set aside the Report
of a New Zealand Royal Commission set up under the Commissions of
Inquiry Act, 1908. It applied the established rules of evidence, that
is, ".... the person making a finding... must base his decision upon
evidence that has some probative value.... What is required... is that
the finding must be based upon some material that tends logically to
show the existence of facts consistent with the finding and that the
reasoning supportive of the finding, if it be disclosed, is not
logically self-contradictory." Judicial review is allowed in relation
to "primary facts... not supported by any probative evidence" and to
"reasoning by which the decision-maker justify inferences of fact that
he had drawn (but) is self-contradictory or otherwise based upon an
evident logical fallacy."

Jain's Report would collapse if these six legal principles were
applied to it. Courts in India have for over a century decided
conspiracy cases. Jain could not apply the law because it would
demolish his suspicions or conspiracy theories. Nor could he
articulate them without contradicting himself. Sample this from Volume
VI (p.29): "The standard proof is very high in criminal trial and it
is difficult to collect such evidence in a case where people feel that
there is deeper conspiracy, national and international. The theory of
conducting the investigation from the scene of crime to the criminal
may sometimes unearth the whole conspiracy but it is also very likely
that the whole conspiracy may not be unravelled even after reaching to
the executors of the conspiracy from the scene of the crime. In a case
of the present nature, in which even the main culprits were not
available as they have consumed cyanide and died or are absconding, it
is all the more difficult to unearth the conspiracy if any behind the
LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam)." Mark the words "if any."

Justice Milap Chand Jain.

This special pleading is followed by these bold assertions: "In a
Commission of Inquiry, the inadmissible evidence in a Court of Law can
form the basis of factual findings and the standard of proof is not so
strict before the Commission of Inquiry. The factual findings can be
recorded on the basis of even probabilities."

THE entire Volume II on "persons/agencies responsible for the
assassination" rests on opinions aired and theories spun heedless of
implausibilities and contradictions. The Khalistan Guerilla Force
(KGF) issued a press note on May 22, 1991, the day after the
assassination, claiming responsibility for the crime jointly with the
LTTE. The blast, it said, was made with '''satellite wave control'
with the help of computer at a distance of 60 kms... about 90
persons... have been killed." Instant rejection would have been a
sound response even in 1991. In 1998 no sensible person would waste a
minute on this.

Jain dwells on it at length and ties himself up in knots: "The press
note may be fake but it does point to a link with the LTTE." A fake
provides guidance: "The Sikh militant group solely has not claimed
responsibility. Any group by the name of Khalistan Guerilla Force may
be non-existent. The group could have claimed the sole responsibility
but it has not done so. If a fake responsibility was to be claimed,
the group could have come out with claiming sole responsibility. But
the note clearly makes out that it is not only the job of LTTE but
there is some other force also behind the LTTE." So, whether the KGF's
press note was fake or not, it "proves" a "wider conspiracy" to Jain's
satisfaction. Such logic surfaces again on page 118: "Unless there is
some link, it is inconceivable that such a claim would have been made
in the press release that the assassination has been done in
collaboration with the LTTE. It is quite possible that this may be
with a view to mislead the investigation and instead of directing
investigation towards the LTTE, it may take up investigation against
the Khalistani extremists. But the question is how such a press
release appeared on 22-5-1991 claiming assassination by the terrorist
groups mentioned therein... The information contained therein
regarding the method of blast with a satellite control system, may
also be incorrect and this information may also be incorrect that
Chintamani Raman has been baptised Sikh by taking Amrit at a

"Without attaching any significance to these informations (sic.), the
very fact of the press release having been issued the same night
involving the two different terrorist organisations becomes relevant
and assumes importance from the point of view of establishing link
between the two, and therefore it is quite possible that they may have
acted in concert on the basis of which the press release was issued."
Such contradictions invalidate the Report.

The record shows that in December 1990, Prime Minister Chandra Shekhar
sent Mahant Sewa Dass Singh to London at government expense to bring
around Jagjit Singh Chohan and score a "victory" by "settling" the
Punjab problem. The Mahant claimed that Chohan told him of a plan to
assassinate Rajiv Gandhi. On May 28, 1991, he wrote to the President:
"The anti-India forces are diverting the attention from the killers by
blaming the Tamils or LTTE. The LTTE has repeatedly denied that they
have hand in the killing of Mr. Rajiv Gandhi. So I request to your
goodself to ask the Government to direct the energies towards the real
killers." Which Judge would waste his time on such a witness?

This letter was produced by D. R. Karthikeyan, then Joint Director of
the Central Bureau of Investigation and head of the Special
Investigation Team (SIT), when he appeared before Jain on September
19, 1997. It did not worry Jain one bit. The Mahant also said: "The
theory about the human bomb is all non-sense." Why? Because Chohan
"himself told me this when I spoke to him on telephone after the

A professional investigator, Karthikeyan saw through the Mahant as any
educated person would. Yet, Jain pressed him to accept other
"possibilities". He writes: "On being questioned as to whether he
rules out any possibility of any conspiracy beyond LTTE, or is there
any conspiracy behind LTTE or behind the persons who have been
prosecuted, the witness replied that Shri Rajiv Gandhi being a dynamic
leader taking bold decisions in many fields, there may have been many
groups inimical to him and many conspiracies also. Thus, there are any
number of possibilities of any one of those numerous inimical groups
targeting him. As an investigator, what he can speak about is about
the conspiracy that actually fructified in the killing of Shri Rajiv
Gandhi on 21-5-1991 at Sriperumbudur. He, however, stated that he
agrees that there are possibilities of other groups inimical to Shri
Rajiv Gandhi joining hands with an organisation like the LTTE to
eliminate him but his submission is that he is talking about
probabilities and not possibilities, and according to him involvement
of any other terrorist group was most improbable and stated that LTTE
is not just a mercenary who can be made to do a task by somebody else
looking to their thinking, the making and the philosophy of the LTTE,
and he expressed his firm opinion that in this operation, LTTE acted

The contrast between the two attitudes emerges starkly and to the
Judge's disadvantage in Volume V on the 21 suspects, in Chapter X on
the SIT's stand "on theories (sic) beyond LTTE." Karthikeyan told him
that "there is hardly anything either in its investigation or from
intelligence from any quarter to lend credibility to and sustain such
theories and hypothesis. In the absence of any evidence they have to
remain as such for ever in the realm of endless speculation." He said
emphatically: "I, as the leader of the Team, my officers and the
prosecutors are confident that there is very little scope of
involvement of any person or group beyond the LTTE and the 41 persons
charged by us" - notwithstanding the difficulties in investigating a
conspiracy several of whose participants were dead or beyond reach.
Jain's comment on this defies belief: "His statement does not
completely rule out the possibility of involvement beyond LTTE and
beyond the 41 charge-sheeted accused persons." This deliberate
misconstruction is followed by the admission that "the Commission has
done that exercise to the extent possible" - a pursuit of
"possibilities" followed by airing of suspicions.

It is in this context that Jain criticises the SIT for not
interrogating six public figures, including Chandra Shekhar and
Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam president M. Karunanidhi. Regardless of that
"failure" by the SIT, "the evidence and circumstances on some theories
examined by the Commission do point some accusing finger on some
agencies, organisations, outfits or individuals. The Government may
adopt such course of action as it may think fit in respect
thereto." (Volume V; Page 361). In law, a Commission of Inquiry can
only return a finding based on evidence or decline to do so because
the evidence is inadequate, as Justice Jaganmohan Reddy did. No
Commission has the right to point "an accusing finger" on the basis of
"theories" it has examined. No Government is entitled to act on such
suspicion and launch a witchhunt.

But the "accusing finger" is waved all over the Report and
recommendations for action by way of investigation or interrogation
abound (Volume II, pp. 202 and 231). This is not the remit the
Commission was given. It is unable to give a finding after years of
inquiry and expects others to do better. "No definite clinching
evidence establishing the link between Khalistani extremists and LTTE
has come before the Commission but the circumstances as considered
above do warrant further probe. "But, surely, there was to be some
finality to the Final Report. The Commission's order of July 2, 1993
said that "a thorough probe is needed leaving no areas including the
areas covered by the charge-sheet". That was five years ago. After
nearly seven years of labour, the Jain Commission can do no more than
urge "further scrutiny, examination and action in accordance with
law," in respect of the 21 suspects it names. But, as Jain himself
admitted, "This Commission is required to prove the criminal
conspiracy. It has to find out the persons and agencies responsible
for conceiving, preparing and planning the assassination of Shri Rajiv
Gandhi and whether there was any conspiracy behind it."

THE ATR is motivated. Tongue firmly in cheek, it quotes the Interim
and Final Reports together on some points to establish, without
comment, Jain's inconsistencies. On his quaint notions of evidence,
the ATR says: "While noting this observation of the Commission,
Government understand that any probe must eventually result in
judicially admissible evidence." Yet the "foreign hand" will be
"examined in depth" by the Ministries of External Affairs and Home,
and the I.B. and the RAW, all of which have nothing better to do,
apparently. The ATR accepts the stand of the CBI and the judgment of
the Designated Court generally and specifically, on the 21 suspects
except in regard to Kumaran Padmanathan and Subbulakshmi Jagadeesan,
oddly enough. The MDMA will also target Karunanidhi on the basis of
"serious observations" in the Interim Report although the Final Report
declares that "there is no indictment in the Interim Report of any
individual" (volume VI, p. 60). The MDMA will be an instrument of the

The Bharatiya Janata Party has good reason to be happy with Jain. He
brought down the United Front Government and has this to say of the
Godse case: "There was a conspiracy theory in the assassination of
Mahatma Gandhi. The RSS was banned and Savarkar was charged-sheeted
and finally the political leaders were exonerated. The conspiracy as
to who was responsible for the assassination of the Father of the
Nation - not the particular Nathu Ram Godse who pulled the trigger -
remains yet to be unveiled." He is wrong. The RSS was accused even by
Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel - who would have liked it to join the
Congress - of spreading "communal poison". On September 11, 1948,
Patel wrote to RSS chief M. S. Golwalkar: "As a final result of the
poison, the country had to suffer the sacrifice of the invaluable life
of Gandhiji. Even an iota of the sympathy of the Government or of the
people no more remained for the RSS. In fact, opposition grew.
Opposition turned more severe when the RSS men expressed joy and
distributed sweets after Gandhiji's death." Patel wrote to Hindu
Mahasabha leader Shyama Prasad Mookerjee on July 18, 1948: "Our
reports do confirm that, as a result of the activities of these two
bodies (RSS and Hindu Mahasabha), particularly the former, an
atmosphere was created in the country in which such a ghastly tragedy
became possible..." Mahasabha president V. D. Savarkar was acquitted,
despite the fact that the approver badge was found to be a reliable
witness only because there was no independent corroboration of the
approver's evidence as the law strictly required.



Hawala scandal
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Hawala scandal or hawala scam was an Indian political scandal
involving payments allegedly received by politicians through hawala
brokers, the Jain brothers. It was a US$18 million bribery scandal
that implicated some of the country's leading politicians. There were
also alleged connections with payments being channelled to Hizbul
Mujahideen militants in Kashmir.[1]

Those accused included L. K. Advani, Madhav Rao Scindia, Arjun Singh,
V. C. Shukla, P. Shiv Shankar, Moti Lal Vora, Ajit Panja, Sharad
Yadav, Balram Jakhar and Madan Lal Khurana. Many were acquitted in
1997 and 1998, partly because the hawala records (including diaries)
were judged in court to be inadequate as the main evidence.[2] The
failure of this prosecution by the Central Bureau of Investigation was
widely criticised.[3]

See also

Vineet Narain, the journalist who broke the story

Further reading

Kapoor, S. (1996), Bad Money, Bad Politics: The Untold Hawala Story,
Har–Anand Publications, Delhi - cited (p.22) by Ashok V. Desai in The
Economics and Politics of Transition to an Open Market Economy: India,
OECD Working Paper 155 accessed at [4] Nov 2, 2006
Hawala. An Informal Payment System and Its Use to Finance Terrorism by
Sebastian R. Müller (Dec. 2006), ISBN 3-8655-0656-9


^ Open letter to Prime Minister of India Narsimhanrao, Canadian
Journalists for Free Expression, July 16, 2001 accessed at [1] Nov 2,
^ Sudha Mahalingam, Jain Hawala Case: Diaries as evidence, Frontline
magazine, Vol.15: No.06: Mar 21 - Apr 3, 1998, accessed at [2] Nov 2,
^ A glaring CBI failure, editorial, The Tribune, Feb 2, 2000 accessed
at [3] Nov 2, 2006


A glaring CBI failure

EVEN by its own abysmal standard, the CBI hit a new low of
incompetence on Monday. The hawala case involving Jains and several
top leaders and a few bureaucrats just disappeared into history
without leaving any scar. The last chargesheet has been thrown out by
a court. In Delhi again, a sessions judge reprimanded the agency for
trying to distort records to secure the release of a person from whose
house it had recovered nearly a kilo of opium. In Calcutta, it found
its case against the only Indian link in the Purulia arms dropping
case was thrown out a the court, which lamented that there was nothing
on record to link the Ananda Marg with the frightening operation
although it is apparent that it was the intended recipient. For one
day it is a distressingly long list of fiascos and worse. For those
who are struggling to come out of the shock acquittal of the accused
in the Priyadarshini Mattoo case, the latest clutch of failures must
be a painful reminder.

The hawala case once appeared to be clear cut but the CBI succeeded in
converting it into a ridiculously porous one. It had the dairy of
Jains, several computer disks and it also had a detailed confessional
statement by one of the brothers. All it had to do was to collect
circumstantial evidence by painstaking leg work and, yes, its
homework. Instead it sent in for its hack writer and wove a story on
the basis of the diary, some loose sheets and the confession. The
court held the paper proof as inadmissible thereby nearly killing the
prosecution case. When Mr S.K. Jain retracted his statement the CBI
charge looked flat like a table without legs. Only the last rites
remained and they were performed on Monday. In the West, money-
laundering and tax fraud are considered serious economic offences and
there are independent investigating agencies to chase and punish the
guilty. Big names had been jailed within a very short time. The hawala
case would have most certainly ended in a string of conviction if the
CBI had pursued the leads with a degree of diligence and commitment.
For instance, it hurled very serious allegations against Mr Arif
Mohammed Khan but failed to find any evidence to prop them up. It
means that either the charges were flippand and false or the agency is
lazy and stupid.

The arms dropping case is as serious in terms of national security as
the hawala case is in terms of economic security. Yet only a bunch of
mercenaries face a jail term and the real criminals are free. It is
like shooting the messenger for bringing an unpleasant message. Who
organised the gun running, which the court says, could disturb the
entire region? In other words, what was the purpose or the motive?
Again, who or what stood to gain by receiving this deadly cargo? Those
who read the escapades of Sherlock Holmes in their school days will
know that the clue to solving a crime is to search for the motive and
the likely beneficiary. The CBI obviously has not learnt this basic
lesson. It has a weak alibi in the fact that seven other accused are
absconding and they are all, apart from Davy, avaduts and anands,
meaning members of the Anand Marg cult. As the judge has curtly
remarked, the CBI had conveniently concluded that the cult had ordered
the arms and since its three-storeyed white building in the area was
the focus of dropping, the charge stood established. But the court
cannot go only on circumstantial evidence even if it is as compelling
as in this case; there must be strong basis to accept it as
substantial evidence. So he acquitted a local cult member and for the
present cleared even the Ananda Marg of any link with the gun running.
India is wracked by armed insurgency and yet a bunch of amateurs are
able to sneak into the country to dump several crates of arms and
ammunition with precision and the CBI, thanks to their chance arrest
at Mumbai airport, can only proceed against five wretched crew members
and a flamboyant sub-leader. What is the message the CBI is sending to
potential economic pirates and arms smugglers? It is terrifying.


His Excellency Atal Behari Vajpayee
Prime Minister, Republic of India
Office of the Prime Minister
New Delhi, India
110 011
Fax: +91 11 301 6857
July 16, 2001

Your Excellency,

Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE), a non-profit, non-
governmental organization dedicated to fighting for freedom of
expression as stipulated in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of
Human Rights, wishes to protest the recent prosecution of Vineet
Narain, editor of the New Delhi-based investigative journal Kalchakra.

Contempt of court charges issued by the Jammu and Kashmir State were
brought against Narain as a result of the paper's investigation into
Jammu and Kashmir High Court justice T.S. Doabia's involvement in
resolving a land dispute. The article in question was published in the
December 16, 2000 issue of Kalchakra. In it, it was suggested that a
friendship with Indian Supreme Court chief justice A.S. Anand (former
chief justice of the Jammu/Kashmir High Court) had unjustifiably
influenced Doabia's decisions to help Anand secure legal victories for
close family members and associates in various property disputes.

Mr Narain made a request to the High Court for a venue change (to New
Delhi) for the court hearing, yet was instead granted relocation to
Jammu, a place he feels threatened for his life. Mr Narain says he
fears threats posed by militant groups in Kashmir who were angered by
his investigations into their underground funding networks. Mr Narain
is well known in India for exposing the so-called hawala scam, a US$18
million dollar bribery scandal that implicated some of the country's
leading politicians. He reported that some of those allegedly involved
in channelling payoffs to politicians were also responsible for
transferring money to militant groups in Kashmir, including the Hezb-
ul Mujahedeen. The Indian government acknowledged the potential threat
to Mr Narain's safety by providing him with special security
protection between 1996 and 1998, at the height of efforts to
prosecute those involved in the hawala scandal. Now, however, Mr
Narain feels that local officials have essentially ignored all
requests for his protection while in Kashmir.

CJFE believes that this case demonstrates an abuse of the contempt of
court law, which should never be used to shield members of the
judiciary from scrutiny by the press. CJFE asks for a prompt inquiry
into the possible political motivations behind Mr Narain's prosecution
as well as to provide him with protection if required to appear in
court in Jammu.


Sharmini Peries

Executive Director



Diaries as evidence

The Supreme Court has acquitted L.K. Advani and V.C. Shukla in the
Jain hawala case. However, in admitting that the Jain diaries are
admissible evidence, the court has paved the way for prosecution in
cases where the payoffs indicated are corroborated by other evidence.


THE acquittal of L.K. Advani and V.C. Shukla of the charges of
corruption and criminal conspiracy in the Jain hawala case
overshadowed certain other important aspects of the Supreme Court
verdict that was delivered on March 2. One of these is the reversal of
the position the Delhi High Court had taken on the admissibility of
the Jain diaries as evidence. A three-member Bench of the apex court,
comprising Justices M.K. Mukherjee, S.P. Kurdukar and K.T. Thomas,
ruled that one of the diaries presented by the prosecution was
admissible as evidence under Section 34 of the Indian Evidence Act,

Justice M. Shamim of the Delhi High Court, who too had acquitted
Advani and Shukla, had taken the view that the entries made in the
Jain diaries "can be used only by way of corroboration to other pieces
of evidence" that the prosecution had at its disposal. In other words,
the diaries could not be used as lead or sole evidence. The Central
Bureau of Investigation (CBI), which investigated the cases, had
appealed to the apex court against this order.

While reversing this position of the High Court, the apex court held
that the entries in one of the diaries, MR 71/91, would be admissible
under Section 34 of the Indian Evidence Act. In doing so, the court
interpreted the provisions of Section 34 to give them their "ordinary,
natural and grammatical meaning" and not a restrictive meaning since
the context or the principle of construction did not warrant it.

According to Section 34, "entries in books of account, regularly kept
in the course of business, are relevant" as evidence. Both prosecution
and defence counsel placed emphasis on the interpretation of the key
words in the section. Defence counsel Kapil Sibal argued that while
the diaries and spiral pads recovered from the residence of the Jains
were "books" within the meaning of Section 34, they were not
admissible as evidence since neither were they "books of account" nor
were they "regularly kept" in the course of "business". Sibal argued
that "account" meant a formal statement of money transactions between
parties arising out of a contractual or a fiduciary relationship. His
contention was that these "books of account" did not relate to a
"business" nor were they "regularly kept".

L.K. Advani

Additional Solicitor-General Altaf Ahmed, who appeared for the
prosecution, argued that the High Court's interpretation of the words
"books of account" and "business" in the above section was a truncated
view. It disabled law from "dealing with illicit business and
situations connected therewith, such as the case in hand where a
conspiracy was hatched to receive money through hawala channels and
other sources and to distribute it as bribes to politicians to
influence favourable decisions from them."

He argued that the word "business" under Section 34 should receive the
widest possible meaning and should be understood and construed to mean
and include all such efforts of people, which, by varied methods of
dealing with each other, were designed to improve their individual
economic conditions and satisfy their desires.

The apex court interpreted the words "account", "books of account",
"business" and "regularly kept" in a general sense. Since the entries
made in the document in question were totalled and balanced, the court
held that the document was a "book of account" recording monetary
transactions that were duly reckoned, rather than a memorandum book.
While interpreting the word "business", it upheld earlier judgments to
mean a real, substantial and systematic or organised course of
activity or conduct with a set purpose. Since the Jains carried on
their activities continuously in an organised manner with a set
purpose (be it illegal) to augment their own resources, the court
ruled that MR 71/91 was a book of account kept in the course of
business. In deciding that the "books of account" were indeed
"regularly kept", the court relied on the relevance of the nature of
occupation of the parties involved.

However, the Supreme Court dismissed the appeal of the CBI on the
ground that there was no independent evidence to indicate that the
amounts paid by the Jain brothers, were actually received by the
"recipients". Hence, the Bench observed that the recipients could not
be held liable under Section 34. The Judges observed: "Since, however,
an element of self-interest and partisanship of the entrant to make a
person - behind whose back and without whose knowledge the entry is
made - liable cannot be ruled out, the additional safeguard of
insistence upon their independent evidence to fasten him with such
liability has been provided for in Section 34 by incorporating the
words 'such statements shall not alone be sufficient to charge any
person with liability'."

Referring to the statements of the four witnesses who had admitted
receipts of payments as shown against them in MR 71/91, the Supreme
Court held that they could at best be proof of reliability of the
entries so far as they were concerned and not others. In other words,
it maintained that the statements of the witnesses could not be
independent evidence under Section 34 as against the two respondents
in this case.

One important implication of the apex court's ruling is that it has
changed the perception about the cohesiveness of the Jain diaries/
hawala case in which, it was believed, all the accused would stand or
fall together. In admitting that the diaries are admissible evidence,
the court has paved the way for the prosecution to proceed at least in
those cases where the payoffs indicated in the diaries have been
corroborated by other evidence. The CBI had filed 34 charge-sheets in
the court of the Special Judge against powerful individuals across the
political spectrum. While the investigative agency claims to have
obtained corroborative evidence against most of the accused either
through independent investigation of their bank accounts, passports,
official documents, circumstantial evidence or in the form of evidence
relating to favours rendered as quid pro quo for payments, it remains
to be seen which of these will stand fresh judicial scrutiny in the
light of the present judgment. The Special Courts dismissed most of
these cases, some of them at the stage of charge-sheeting itself, on
various grounds. The CBI has appealed to the higher courts in respect
of every case.

V.C. Shukla

The apex court also went into the conspiracy theory under Section 10
of the Indian Evidence Act, 1972. Counsel for the CBI had submitted
that material collected during the investigation and placed on record
clearly established the existence of a general conspiracy among the
accused Jains to promote their economic interest by corrupting public
servants. He had also contended that a number of separate conspiracies
with similar purpose had been hatched between the Jains and various
public servants. However, since the agency had failed to file a charge-
sheet against the Jains for having entered into a criminal conspiracy
among themselves, the court did not even consider the matter.
Statements made by certain witnesses, which were furnished by the CBI,
were found to be either irrelevant to the charges of conspiracy or
insufficient as reasonable ground to believe that all of them had
conspired together.

The CBI appears to have bungled in not having framed a charge of
conspiracy among the accused Jains to offer illegal gratification to
Advani and Shukla. It had framed charges of two separate conspiracies,
in both of which the Jains together figured as the common party and
Advani and Shukla as the other. Advani had been accused of receiving
Rs.25 lakhs from the Jains when he was a member of Parliament (besides
the Rs. 35 lakhs he allegedly received when he was not an MP). In the
charge-sheet filed against Shukla and the Jains, it was alleged that
during 1988-91, when Shukla was an MP and a Cabinet Minister, he
allegedly received Rs. 39 lakhs from the Jains. The Jains were charged
with abetment under Section 12 of the Prevention of Corruption Act

The court held that since it found no prima facie evidence of
corruption under Section 7 of the PCA against Advani and Shukla, the
question of abetment did not arise. Advani's name did not even figure
in M 71/91, the diary admitted as evidence and in the case of Shukla,
the evidence was insufficient, the court said. The Bench held that
where no offence had been committed, the question of aiding or
abetting it did not arise.

Since no prima facie case had been established against the two
respondents, the Bench did not deem it necessary to go into the
question of whether an MP came within the definition of a 'public
servant' under the PCA so as to make the respondents liable for
prosecution for alleged commission of offences that attracted the
provisions of the Act.

India's National Magazine
From the publishers of THE HINDU
Vol. 15 :: No. 06 :: Mar. 21 - Apr. 3, 1998


Vineet Narain
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Vineet Narain (born 1956) is a prominent Indian journalist and anti-
corruption activist. His exposure of the 1990s Hawala scandal led him
to use a public interest petition to apply pressure on the Central
Bureau of Investigation. The CBI was widely criticised when its
prosecutions collapsed, and the Supreme Court of India in deciding the
Vineet Narain Case made directions that included new supervision of
the CBI by the Central Vigilance Commission.[1]



Family and early life

Born in 1956, Vineet Narain had his primary education in Western Uttar
Pradesh and did his higher studies from Jawaharlal Nehru University in
New Delhi. His father was an academician and served as the Vice
Chancellor of two prominent universities in U.P. He fought against
interference of the political masters in the admission procedure of
some of the professional courses in the state.[citation needed] His
mother was active in students politics at the Lucknow University. Her
father was then the Secretary of the UP Legislative Council.

Narain married outside his caste. His wife is an assistant professor
of Russian language at the Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. She
was educated at Modern School in New Delhi. His eldest son Azeez
Narain is a manager in Tata Administrative Services (TAS). His younger
son, Eeshit Narain is an independent film maker based in Delhi
<ShreeJee Productions>.

Narain was drawn to social work from his early youth. He worked in a
village at the age of 18 years with an NGO.

Hawala Scam

Vineet Narain was responsible for bringing the Hawala scandal to light.
[citation needed] 115 top bureaucrats were identified as having
participated in the scam.[citation needed] Case No.340-43 of 1993,
Supreme Court of India

The case got a momentary boost up as a result of a PIL (Public
Interest Litigation) filed in the Supreme Court.[citation needed] In
1996 for the first time in Indian history, several cabinet ministers,
chief ministers and governors were charge-sheeted.Out of them the
person who is still on the run is EX-M.P -Chandravijay Singh from
Moradabad for land scams and legal paper forgery-booked under the high
court NEW-DELHI.[citation needed] Several landmark decisions were
passed by the Supreme Court of India in the Vineet Narain Vs Union of
India and Ors case.[unreliable source?][2]

In July 1997, Mr. Narain compelled the Chief Justice of India comment
on the Hawala case. He wrote a book on the case entitled Hawala ke
Deshdrohi or Dangerous Silence.

Indian Judiciary

Narain brought out a series of land scams involving of one of the
sitting chief justices of India.[citation needed] As a result,
contempt of court proceedings were initiated against him and he fled
the country.[3] Later on, due to the intervention of various
international organisations like Committee to Protect Journalists, all
the proceedings against him were withdrawn.[4]

TV Journalism in India

He launched Kalchakra, the first Hindi-language video magazine, in
1989. He faced hurdles due to financial crisis and by the government
controlled censor board. He writes a weekly syndicated column in
several regional daily newspapers.

Earlier he worked as a correspondent of national dailies and has
appeared in programmes on several international television networks.
[citation needed] He began investigative TV journalism in 1980. TV &
Video World reported, "It may sound surprising, but men of principles,
willing to take tough stand and unwilling to compromise on basic
ideals, still exist in our society. When, in April 1987, one of his
programmes in the Sach Ki Parchhain series was arbitrarily stopped by
Doordarshan authorities, its producer, TV and newspaper journalist
Vineet Narain vowed never to present anything on the government-
controlled network until it was made autonomous and functioned more
democratically."[citation needed]

Current Activities

Vineet Narain writes a syndicated column in over 22 national dailies
on a weekly basis. Vineet Narain gives a weekly news report from India
on telephone to SBS Radio, Australia and also contributes to weekly
columns in two dozen popular dailies of India.[citation needed]

Through Kalchakra Investigative News Bureau, he, along with his
associates, undertake investigative journalism in India. He is also
the founder Secretary of People’s Vigilance Commission, a group headed
by J F Ribeiro, Ex-DGP, Punjab. Narain has been involved in the wider
restoration works in Braj.[5]


^ Vineet Narain Case, Directions of the Court accessed at [1] Nov 2,
^ Vineet Narain's web-site
^ INDIA: Vineet Narain contempt trial postponed, August 10, 2001,
Committee to Protect Journalists, New York accessed at [2] Nov 2,

^ India annual report 2002, Reporters Without Borders accessed at [3]
Nov 2, 2006
^ www.brajfoundation.org

External links

Vineet Narain's Website
Kalchakra's Website
Current Activity
Supreme Court Judgement Vineet Narain & Ors Vs. Union Of India & Anr


Supreme Court Cases

1996 SCC (2) 199 JT 1996 (1) 708 1996 SCALE (1)SP31
Case Law SearchIndian Supreme Court Cases / Judgements / Legislation


January 1996)

SEN, S.C. (J)

CITATION: 1996 SCC (2) 199 JT 1996 (1) 708 1996 SCALE (1)SP31



O R D E R The true scope of this writ petition has been indicated
during the earlier hearings. At this stage, when some charge sheets
have been filed in the Special Court and there is considerable
publicity in the media regarding this matter, with some speculation
about its true scope, it is appropriate to make this order to form a
part of the record.

The gist of the allegations in the writ petition are that Government
agencies, like the CBI and the revenue authorities, have failed to
perform their duties and legal obligations inasmuch as they have
failed to properly investigate matters arising out of the seizure of
the so called "Jain Diaries" in certain raids conducted by the CBI.

It is alleged that the apprehending of certain terrories led to the
discovery of financial support to them by clandestine and illegal
means, by use of tainted funds obtained through 'hawala' transactions;
that this also disclosed a nexus between several important
politicians, bureaucrats and criminals, who are all recipients of
money from unlawful sources given for unlawful considerations; that
the the CBI and other Government agencies have failed to fully
investigate into the matter and take it to the logical and point of
the trail and to prosecute all persons who have committed any crime;
that this is being done with a view to protect the persons involved,
who are very influential and powerful in the present set up; that the
matter discloses a definite nexus between crime and corruption in
public life at high places in the country which poses a serious threat
to the integrity, security and economy of the nation; that probity in
public life, to prevent erosion of the rule of law and the
preservation of democracy in the country, requires that the Government
agencies be compelled to duly perform their legal obligations and to
proceed in accordance with law against each and every persons
involved, irrespective of the height at which he is placed in the
power set up.

The facts and circumstances of the present case do indicate that it is
of utmost public importance that this matter is examined thoroughly by
this Court to ensure that all Government agencies, entrusted with the
duty to discharge their functions and obligations in accordance with
law, do so, bearing in mind constantly the concept of equality
enshrined in the Constitution and the basic tenant of rule of law: "Be
you ever so high, the law is above you".

Investigation into every accusation made against each and every person
on a reasonable basis, irrespective of the position and status of that
person, must be conducted and completed expeditiously. This is
imperative to retain public confidence in the impartial working of the
Government agencies.

In this proceeding we are not concerned with the merits of the
accusations or the individuals alleged to be involved, but only with
the performance of the legal duty by the Government agencies to
fairly, properly and fully investigate into every such accusation
against every person, and to take the logical final action in
accordance with law.

In case of persons against whom a prima facie case is made out and a
charge sheet is filed in the competent court, it is that court which
will then deal with that case on merits, in accordance with law.

However. if in respect of any such person the final report after full
investigation is that no prima facie case is made out to proceed
further, so that the case must be closed against him, that report must
be promptly submitted to this Court for its satisfaction that the
concerned authorities have not failed to perform their legal
obligations and have reasonably come to such conclusion. No such
report having been submitted by the CBI or any other agency till now
in this Court, action on such a report by this Court would be
considered, if any when that occasion arises. We also direct that no
settlement should be arrived at nor any offence compounded by any
authority without prior leave of this Court.

We may add that on account of the great public interest involved in
this matter, the CBI and other Government agencies must expedite their
action to complete the task and prevent pendency of this matter beyond
the period necessary.

It is needless to observe that the results achieved so far do not
match the available time and opportunity for a full investigation ever
since the matter came to light. It is of utmost national significance
that no further time is lost in completion of the task.


Reproduced in accordance with s52(q) of the Copyright Act 1957 (India)
from judis.nic.in, indiacode.nic.in and other Indian High Court


Vineet Narain contempt trial postponed


New York, August 10, 2001—Yesterday's scheduled contempt of court case
against journalist Vineet Narain has been postponed due to violence in
Jammu and Kashmir State, the trial venue. It is not known when the
next hearing will be held.

Narain is the founding editor of the New Delhi­based investigative
journal Kalchakra. He faces contempt charges based on a December 16,
2000, Kalchakra article in which Narain alleged that Jammu and Kashmir
High Court justice T.S. Doabia had been unduly influenced by his
friendship with Indian Supreme Court chief justice A.S. Anand in
deciding a land dispute.


Jammu City was placed under curfew after three Muslim militants opened
fire at a local train station on August 7, killing 11 people,
according to international press reports. The curfew went into effect
on August 8 and prevented Narain from reaching the court, the
journalist told CPJ via e-mail.

Narain, who is currently in hiding, said that the Jammu and Kashmir
High Court could not convene as planned due to "hostile conditions in

The curfew was lifted yesterday, August 9, according to Indian and
international press reports.

Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee has not yet responded to a July 6
letter from CPJ and Human Rights Watch urging him to order an
immediate inquiry into possible political motivations behind Narain's
prosecution, and to provide him with adequate security protection
during the trial. CPJ reiterated these requests in a separate letter
that was faxed to the prime minister on August 8.


Committee to Protect Journalists
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) is an independent,
nonprofit organization based in New York, New York, United States,
that promotes press freedom and defends the rights of journalists.


A group of U.S. foreign correspondents founded CPJ in 1981 in response
to harassment from authoritarian governments.


CPJ organizes vigorous public protests and works through diplomatic
channels to effect change. CPJ publishes articles, news releases,
special reports, a biannual magazine called Dangerous Assignments[1],
and an annual worldwide survey of press freedom called Attacks on the

CPJ also administers the annual CPJ International Press Freedom
Awards, which honor journalists and press freedom advocates who have
endured beatings, threats, intimidation and prison for reporting the


Each year, CPJ compiles a list of all journalists killed in the line
of duty around the world. Since 1992, the first year that CPJ began to
statistically monitor deaths, 661 journalists have been killed[3]

CPJ is a founding member of the International Freedom of Expression
Exchange (IFEX), a global network of more than 70 non-governmental
organizations that monitors free expression violations around the
world and defends journalists, writers and others who are persecuted
for exercising their right to freedom of expression.



Active engagements

On December 26, 2007, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ)
appealed to President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo to forthwith bring to
justice the killers of Davao City broadcaster Ferdinand Lintuan, who
was murdered on December 24.[4]

Staff and directors

The current (2009) executive director of CPJ is journalist Joel Simon,
who assumed the position in July 2006 after having served as deputy
director since 2000.[5] His predecessor was veteran foreign
correspondent Ann Cooper, who served as executive director from 1998
to 2006.[6]

CPJ's board of directors includes prominent American journalists,
including Christiane Amanpour, Tom Brokaw, Anne Garrels, Charlayne
Hunter-Gault, Gwen Ifill, Jane Kramer, Anthony Lewis, Dave Marsh, Kati
Marton, Michael Massing, Victor Navasky, Andres Oppenheimer, Clarence
Page, Norman Pearlstine, Dan Rather, John Seigenthaler, and Mark

See also

CPJ International Press Freedom Awards
List of journalists killed in Russia

External links

Committee to Protect Journalists website
International Freedom of Expression Exchange


^ [1]
^ [2]
^ [3]
^ GMA NEWS.TV, Aggressively pursue Lintuan killers, NY media group
urges Arroyo
^ CPJ Staff bios
^ Poynter Online Forums


...and I am Sid Harth
2010-03-17 23:19:50 UTC
Caste-related violence in India
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Caste-related violence and hate crimes in India have occurred despite
the gradual reduction of casteism in the country.

According to a report by Human Rights Watch, "Dalits and indigenous
peoples (known as Scheduled Tribes or adivasis) continue to face
discrimination, exclusion, and acts of communal violence. Laws and
policies adopted by the Indian government provide a strong basis for
protection, but are not being faithfully implemented by local



Phoolan Devi

Main article: Phoolan Devi


Phoolan Devi (1963 – 2001) was an Indian dacoit (bandit), who later
turned politician. Born in a lower-caste Mallaah family, she was
mistreated and abandoned by her husband. She was later kidnapped by a
gang of dacoits. The upper-caste Thakur leader of the gang tried to
rape her, but she was protected by the deputy leader Vikram, who
belonged to her caste. Later, an upper-caste Thakur friend of Vikram
killed him, abducted Phoolan, and locked her up in the Behmai village.
Phoolan was raped in the village by Thakur men, until she managed to
escape after three weeks.

Phoolan Devi then formed a gang of Mallahs, which carried out a series
of violent robberies in north and central India, mainly targeting
upper-caste people. Some say that Phoolan Devi targeted only the upper-
caste people and shared the loot with the lower-caste people, but the
Indian authorities insist this is a myth[2]. Seventeen months after
her escape from Behmai, Phoolan returned to the village, to take her
revenge. On February 14, 1981, her gang massacred twenty-two Thakur
men in the village, only two of which were involved in her kidnapping
or rape. Phoolan Devi later surrendered and served eleven years in
prison, after which she became a politician. During her election
campaign, she was criticized by the women widowed in the Behmai
massacre. Kshatriya Swabhimaan Andolan Samanvay Committee (KSASC), a
Kshatriya organization, held a statewide campaign to protest against
her. She was elected a Member of Parliament twice.

On July 25, 2001, Phoolan Devi was shot dead by unknown assassins.
Later, a man called Sher Singh Rana confessed to the murder, saying he
was avenging the deaths of 22 Kshatriyas at Behmai. Although the
police were skeptical of his claims, he was arrested. Rana escaped
from Tihar Jail in 2004. In 2006, KSASC decided to honor Rana for
"upholding the dignity of the Thakur community" and "drying the tears
of the widows of Behmai."[3]

Andhra Pradesh

This state is considered to be one of the least caste-crime infested
places of India which has not had many Dalit Massacres.

Ranvir Sena

Main article: Ranvir Sena

Ranvir Sena is an caste-supremacist fringe paramilitary group based in
Bihar. The group is based amongst the forward-caste landlord, and
carries out actions against the outlawed naxals in rural areas. It has
committed violent acts against Dalits and other members of the
scheduled caste community in an effort to scuttle reform movements
aimed at their emancipation.


Tamil Nadu

The state of Tamil Nadu has witnessed several caste-based incidents
both against Dalits and Brahmins[citation needed]. In 2000, three
young men belonging to the Dalit undercaste were killed in the
Cuddalore district of Tamil Nadu. This fuelled some localized violence
in the caste-sensitive region, which has seen numerous caste-related
incidents in which the majority of the victims have been Dalits. Six
of the killings have been registered as murders under the Indian Penal
Code and others as "Deaths under suspicious circumstances". No arrests
have been made in these cases.

However, several Dalits have been arrested as goondas (hoodlums). The
Chief minister of Tamil-Nadu, M. Karunanidhi, has been accused of
having an "anti-Dalit" bias by the radical organization "Dalit
Panthers of India". Theories concerning these crimes against Dalits
range from "alcohol bootleggers opposing prohibition movements among
Dalits" to "inter-caste relations between an upper-caste Vanniya boy
and a Dalit girl"[citation needed]. Political parties sympathetic to
the Dalits have protested against these incidents[4] and have alleged
systemic biases against Dalits in several parts of the country.


Bant Singh case of Punjab

On the evening of January 5, 2006 Bant Singh, a poor Sikh Dalit, was
attacked by unknown assailants. His injuries necessitated medical
amputation. He alleges that this was in retaliation for actively
working to secure justice for his daughter, who was gang raped by
upper caste members of his village in Punjab five years earlier.[5][6]

A 55-year-old Dalit Sikh woman, Sawinder Kaur has been tortured,
stripped and tied to a tree in Ram Duali village of Punjab because her
nephew eloped with a girl from the same community. The police arrested
four persons for allegedly committing the crime on 9 September 2007.

In January, 1999 four members of the village panchayat of Bhungar
Khera village in Abohar paraded a handicapped Dalit woman naked
through the village. No action was taken by the police, despite local
Dalit protests. It was only on July 20 that the four pancha yat
members were arrested, after the State Home Department was compelled
to order an inquiry into the incident.[8]

A Dalit Sikh woman, Sukhwinder Kaur of Sumel Kheri village was
molested and beaten up by an octroi contractor of Malaudh when she
resisted his attempt to sexually exploit her.[9]


Kherlanji massacre

Main article: Kherlanji Massacre

On September 29, 2006, four members of the Bhotmange family belonging
to the Dalit underclass were slaughtered in Kherlanji, a small village
in Bhandara district of Maharashtra. The women of the family, Surekha
and Priyanka, were paraded naked in public, then allegedly gang-raped
before being murdered[1]. Although initially ascribed by the media and
by the Human Rights Watch to upper castes, the criminal act was
actually carried out by Kunbi[10] caste (classified as Other Backward
Classes[11] by Government of India) farmers for having opposed the
requisition of the Dalit land to have a road built over it.

On November 23, 2006, several members of the Dalit community in the
nearby district of Chandrapur staged a protest regarding this
incident.The protesters allegedly turned violent and pelted stones.
The police had to resort to baton charging to control the situation.
Dalit leaders, however, denied that they had sparked the violence and
that they were "protesting in peace".

2006 Dalit protests in Maharashtra

Main article: 2006 Dalit protests in Maharashtra

In November-December 2006, the desecration of a Ambedkar statue in
Kanpur (Uttar Pradesh) triggered off violent protests by Dalits in
Maharashtra. Several people remarked that the protests were fueled by
the Kherlanji Massacre[12]. During the violent protests, the Dalit
protestors set three trains on fire, damaged over 100 buses and
clashed with police[13]. At least four deaths and many more injuries
were reported.

Later, the Kanpur Police arrested a Dalit youth Arun Kumar Balmiki for
desecrating the Ambedkar statue. According to the police, the youth
had "admitted to having damaged the statue in a drunken state along
with two friends"[14]. Earlier in a similar case, a Dalit youth was
held for desecrating an Ambedkar statue in Gulbarga, Karnataka[15].

In response to these protests, Raj Thackeray drew attention to another
incident in Kherlanji, in which a Dalit allegedly raped a girl and
killed her. Thackeray demanded action on those responsible for the
rape and the subsequent death of the girl, and also remarked that
nobody helped the girl's family[16].




In the Indian province of Rajasthan, between the years 1999 and 2002,
crimes against Dalits average at about 5024 a year, with 46 killings
and 138 cases of rape.[17][18] In January 2007, a Jat girl was thrown
into a canal near the border with Haryana for marrying a Dalit boy,
although she swam to shore and was rescued by strangers.[19]

See also: 2008 caste violence in Rajasthan


On 25 May 2009, violence and rioting broke out when thousands of
protesters took to the streets in almost all major towns and cities in
the Indian state of Punjab after a dalit preacher, Sant Ramanand, was
attacked in a temple in Vienna, Austria. He was among 16 people
injured, including another preacher Sant Nirajnan Dass, and later died
in hospital. Both the preachers were from a low-caste Sikh sect which
has a large following in parts of Punjab and had travelled to Vienna
to conduct a special service. Several high-caste Sikh groups had
apparently opposed his presence and threatened violence. This happened
after the preacher had reportedly made remarks about the Sikh groups.



Other incidents

On September 1, 2007 some Yadavs poured steaming dal on a Dalit woman
and her infant daughter, and beat up several other Dalits, for
allowing their children to play in the premises of a temple at
Shivayalay Mushari, on the outskirts of Patna.



See also

Communalism (South Asia)

Religious violence in India


^ "India Events of 2007". Human Rights Watch.
^ "Phoolan Devi: Champion of the poor". BBC News. 2001-07-25.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/1456441.stm. Retrieved
^ "Kshatriya Samaj to honour Phoolan's killer". The Tribune,
Chandigarh. 2006-05-21. http://www.tribuneindia.com/2006/20060501/nation.htm#5.
Retrieved 2006-12-11.
^ Victims of bias,The Hindu
^ Paying a price for securing justice for his daughter, The Hindu
^ Bant Singh can still sing, Tehalka Magazine
^ Dalit woman tied naked to a tree
^ Down and out in Punjab By Praveen Swami
^ Dalit woman molested, beaten up Malaudh (Ahmedgarh), April 27
^ "Dalit blood on village square". Frontline.
Retrieved 2006-12-10.
^ "Age old rivalry behind Khairlanji violence". NDTV.
Retrieved 2006-12-10.
^ "Khairlanji to Kanpur". The Indian Express. 2006-12-02.
http://www.indianexpress.com/story/17707.html. Retrieved 2006-12-02.
^ "Maharashtra: Dalit anger leaves 4 dead, 60 injured". Rediff.com.
2006-11-30. http://www.rediff.com/news/2006/nov/30statue.htm.
Retrieved 2006-12-02.
^ "Dalits force police to let off suspect in Kanpur". Business
Standard. 2006-12-01. http://www.business-standard.com/common/storypage_c_online.php?leftnm=11&bKeyFlag=IN&autono=18172.
Retrieved 2006-12-02.
^ "Dalit youth held for desecrating Ambedkar statue". Deccan Herald.
2006-09-26. http://www.deccanherald.com/deccanherald/Sep222006/district1711462006921.asp.
Retrieved 2006-12-02.
^ "Situation in Mumbai, state back to normal". The Times of India.
Retrieved 2006-12-02.
^ http://www.indiatogether.org/dalit/articles/bidwai1002.htm
^ BBC NEWS | South Asia | Dalits in conversion ceremony
^ (Hindi)CNN/IBN Video

^ http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/south_asia/8066783.stm




Low-caste Hindus hold mass conversions


Indian Dalit leader passes away
09 Oct 06 | South Asia
Kanshi Ram: Champion of the poor
09 Oct 06 | South Asia
Anger over Gujarat religion law
20 Sep 06 | South Asia
Conversions harder in India state
26 Jul 06 | South Asia
Furore reflects India's caste complexities
20 May 06 | South Asia
India mourns Dalit ex-president
10 Nov 05 | South Asia
India dalits protest arson attack
05 Sep 05 | South Asia
Country profile: India
31 Aug 06 | Country profiles


Hindu caste system - BBC religion and ethics








National Conference of Dalit Organisations
National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights

See also:

25 Jul 01 | South Asia
'Bandit Queen' shot dead
29 Jun 01 | South Asia
Indian bandit offers to surrender
07 Mar 00 | South Asia
Court rules out caste differences
28 Sep 99 | South Asia
Dalits' political awakening
12 Oct 00 | South Asia
Analysis: India's criminal politicians

Internet links:

US article on the Bandit Queen

See also:

25 Jul 01 | South Asia
'Bandit Queen' shot dead
29 Jun 01 | South Asia
Indian bandit offers to surrender
07 Mar 00 | South Asia
Court rules out caste differences
28 Sep 99 | South Asia
Dalits' political awakening
12 Oct 00 | South Asia
Analysis: India's criminal politicians

See also:

26 Feb 00 | South Asia
Analysis: Bihar's pivotal politician
25 Feb 00 | South Asia
Jayalalitha will face corruption trial
21 Feb 00 | South Asia
Net shame for corrupt officials
11 Feb 00 | South Asia
Guide to Indian state elections

Internet links:

Central Bureau of Investigation
Election Commission of India
Indian Elections 99 - BBC News Online


India's "Untouchables" Face Violence, DiscriminationHillary Mayell
for National Geographic News
June 2, 2003

More than 160 million people in India are considered "Untouchable"—
people tainted by their birth into a caste system that deems them
impure, less than human.

Human rights abuses against these people, known as Dalits, are legion.
A random sampling of headlines in mainstream Indian newspapers tells
their story: "Dalit boy beaten to death for plucking flowers"; "Dalit
tortured by cops for three days"; "Dalit 'witch' paraded naked in
Bihar"; "Dalit killed in lock-up at Kurnool"; "7 Dalits burnt alive in
caste clash"; "5 Dalits lynched in Haryana"; "Dalit woman gang-raped,
paraded naked"; "Police egged on mob to lynch Dalits".

"Dalits are not allowed to drink from the same wells, attend the same
temples, wear shoes in the presence of an upper caste, or drink from
the same cups in tea stalls," said Smita Narula, a senior researcher
with Human Rights Watch, and author of Broken People: Caste Violence
Against India's "Untouchables." Human Rights Watch is a worldwide
activist organization based in New York.

India's Untouchables are relegated to the lowest jobs, and live in
constant fear of being publicly humiliated, paraded naked, beaten, and
raped with impunity by upper-caste Hindus seeking to keep them in
their place. Merely walking through an upper-caste neighborhood is a
life-threatening offense.

Nearly 90 percent of all the poor Indians and 95 percent of all the
illiterate Indians are Dalits, according to figures presented at the
International Dalit Conference that took place May 16 to 18 in
Vancouver, Canada.

Crime Against Dalits

Statistics compiled by India's National Crime Records Bureau indicate
that in the year 2000, the last year for which figures are available,
25,455 crimes were committed against Dalits. Every hour two Dalits are
assaulted; every day three Dalit women are raped, two Dalits are
murdered, and two Dalit homes are torched.

No one believes these numbers are anywhere close to the reality of
crimes committed against Dalits. Because the police, village councils,
and government officials often support the caste system, which is
based on the religious teachings of Hinduism, many crimes go
unreported due to fear of reprisal, intimidation by police, inability
to pay bribes demanded by police, or simply the knowledge that the
police will do nothing.

"There have been large-scale abuses by the police, acting in collusion
with upper castes, including raids, beatings in custody, failure to
charge offenders or investigate reported crimes," said Narula.

That same year, 68,160 complaints were filed against the police for
activities ranging from murder, torture, and collusion in acts of
atrocity, to refusal to file a complaint. Sixty two percent of the
cases were dismissed as unsubstantiated; 26 police officers were
convicted in court.

Despite the fact that untouchability was officially banned when India
adopted its constitution in 1950, discrimination against Dalits
remained so pervasive that in 1989 the government passed legislation
known as The Prevention of Atrocities Act. The act specifically made
it illegal to parade people naked through the streets, force them to
eat feces, take away their land, foul their water, interfere with
their right to vote, and burn down their homes.

Since then, the violence has escalated, largely as a result of the
emergence of a grassroots human rights movement among Dalits to demand
their rights and resist the dictates of untouchability, said Narula.

Lack of Enforcement, Not Laws

Enforcement of laws designed to protect Dalits is lax if not non-
existent in many regions of India. The practice of untouchability is
strongest in rural areas, where 80 percent of the country's population
resides. There, the underlying religious principles of Hinduism

Hindus believe a person is born into one of four castes based on karma
and "purity"—how he or she lived their past lives. Those born as
Brahmans are priests and teachers; Kshatriyas are rulers and soldiers;
Vaisyas are merchants and traders; and Sudras are laborers. Within the
four castes, there are thousands of sub-castes, defined by profession,
region, dialect, and other factors.

Untouchables are literally outcastes; a fifth group that is so
unworthy it doesn't fall within the caste system.

Although based on religious principles practiced for some 1,500 years,
the system persists today for economic as much as religious reasons.

Because they are considered impure from birth, Untouchables perform
jobs that are traditionally considered "unclean" or exceedingly
menial, and for very little pay. One million Dalits work as manual
scavengers, cleaning latrines and sewers by hand and clearing away
dead animals. Millions more are agricultural workers trapped in an
inescapable cycle of extreme poverty, illiteracy, and oppression.

Although illegal, 40 million people in India, most of them Dalits, are
bonded workers, many working to pay off debts that were incurred
generations ago, according to a report by Human Rights Watch published
in 1999. These people, 15 million of whom are children, work under
slave-like conditions hauling rocks, or working in fields or factories
for less than U.S. $1 day.

Crimes Against Women

Dalit women are particularly hard hit. They are frequently raped or
beaten as a means of reprisal against male relatives who are thought
to have committed some act worthy of upper-caste vengeance. They are
also subject to arrest if they have male relatives hiding from the

A case reported in 1999 illustrates the toxic mix of gender and

A 42-year-old Dalit woman was gang-raped and then burnt alive after
she, her husband, and two sons had been held in captivity and tortured
for eight days. Her crime? Another son had eloped with the daughter of
the higher-caste family doing the torturing. The local police knew the
Dalit family was being held, but did nothing because of the higher-
caste family's local influence.

There is very little recourse available to victims.

A report released by Amnesty International in 2001 found an "extremely
high" number of sexual assaults on Dalit women, frequently perpetrated
by landlords, upper-caste villagers, and police officers. The study
estimates that only about 5 percent of attacks are registered, and
that police officers dismissed at least 30 percent of rape complaints
as false.

The study also found that the police routinely demand bribes,
intimidate witnesses, cover up evidence, and beat up the women's
husbands. Little or nothing is done to prevent attacks on rape victims
by gangs of upper-caste villagers seeking to prevent a case from being
pursued. Sometimes the policemen even join in, the study suggests.
Rape victims have also been murdered. Such crimes often go

Thousands of pre-teen Dalit girls are forced into prostitution under
cover of a religious practice known as devadasis, which means "female
servant of god." The girls are dedicated or "married" to a deity or a
temple. Once dedicated, they are unable to marry, forced to have sex
with upper-caste community members, and eventually sold to an urban

Resistance and Progress

Within India, grassroots efforts to change are emerging, despite
retaliation and intimidation by local officials and upper-caste
villagers. In some states, caste conflict has escalated to caste
warfare, and militia-like vigilante groups have conducted raids on
villages, burning homes, raping, and massacring the people. These
raids are sometimes conducted with the tacit approval of the police.

In the province Bihar, local Dalits are retaliating, committing
atrocities also. Non-aligned Dalits are frequently caught in the
middle, victims of both groups.

"There is a growing grassroots movement of activists, trade unions,
and other NGOs that are organizing to democratically and peacefully
demand their rights, higher wages, and more equitable land
distribution," said Narula. "There has been progress in terms of
building a human rights movement within India, and in drawing
international attention to the issue."

In August 2002, the UN Committee for the Elimination of Racial
Discrimination (UN CERD) approved a resolution condemning caste or
descent-based discrimination.

"But at the national level, very little is being done to implement or
enforce the laws," said Narula.



National Campaign on Dalits Human Rights

Crimes Against Dalits

These are JUST SOME of the Crimes committed on Dalits from April 2000
to December 2002, reported in National Daily's. Hundreds of Such
crimes go unreported. If you find any such crimes happening in your
neighbourhood, please send the details of such crimes to us.
Please check this page for updates. Meanwhile THINK what YOU can do to
stop this madness.

• Exclusive Report:Five Dalits Lynched in Haryana (06 Nov)
• Dalit elopes with Jat girl, death stalks Haryana village (30 Oct)
• Untouchability, The Dead Cow And The Brahmin (23 Oct)
• A Dalit damned for defying her village (07 Aug)
• Dalit burnt alive, tension brews in Mansura village (29 May)
• Pakistani Dalits protest genocide of Dalits (29 May)
• Dalit hanged for having illicit ties (15 May)
• 6 Dalits shot dead in Bihar (09 May)
• Dalit houses attacked in Salem village (02 May)
• Attack on Dalit youth in Bellary (26 Apr)
• Dalits face wrath of upper castes in UP village (24 Apr)
• Dalit teenager raped in Rajasthan (24 Apr)
- 18-year-old girl raped, murdered (21 Mar)
- Crime in Chennai (21 Mar)
- Couple hounded by cops for inter-caste marriage (04 Feb)
- Students demonstrate against sexual harassment (04 Feb)
- Dalit woman raped (26 Jan)
- Caste Discrimination in Hyderabad Central University (15 Jan)
- Dalit women molested near Davangere (15 Jan)
- Another youth killed by lover's parents (15 Jan)
- Koli girl's gang-rape infuriates ministers, MLAs (15 Jan)
- 3 Dalits Shot Dead (08 Jan)
- Dumb girl accuses cop of rape (07 Dec)
- Woman Paraded Naked For Playing Cupid (07 Dec)
- Alleged rape of Dalit minor (27 Nov)
- Atrocity on SC girl in Karnataka (27 Nov)
- Dalit woman beaten to death by excise officials in Kerala (27
- Yet another life sacrificed at the altar of love (27 Nov)
- Custodial death sparks protest (1 Nov)
- Landless woman stripped, beaten up (29 Oct)
- 2 dalit girls raped (29 Oct)
- Dalit girl raped (11 Oct)
- SC hostel inmates left in lurch (6 Oct)
- JNU girl alleges molestation, casteist slur (22 Sept)
- Goan Dalit denied equality even in death (13 Sept)
- Dalit student in Delhi University beaten up by upper caste hostel
mates (10 Sept)
- Naked assault Crime: Dalit woman is stripped and paraded for two
hours in Karnataka (3 Sep)
- Discrimination against Dalits in Chhattisgarh (3 Sep)
- Stripping of Dalit by cop: Panel orders probe (2 Sep)
- Dalit gang-raped in Kankipadu mandal (31 Aug)
- Dalit woman gang-raped in Vijayawada (30 Aug)
- Dalit woman paraded naked in Bellary village (29 Aug)
- Raped Dalit woman ends life (27 Aug)
- Three tribals killed (9 August)
- Caste Hindus terrorise Dalits in MP's Mugalia (8 August)
- Caste's cruel: lovers hanged in UP (8 August)
- Dacoits rape 2 tribal women (29 July)

- Gang-rape of Dalit woman in Rohtak (24 July)
- TD men attack Dalits for voting for Congress (19 July)
- Liberty, Equality etc --- but not for Dalits (17 July)
- Castes and killings in Jehrana and Hasanpur (16 July)
- Bihar panchayats deny Constitutional reservations (13 July)
- Landlord urinated in my mouth, alleges Dalit (11 July)
- Dalit hacked, ban order in Bellary village (6 July)
- Harassed Dalit woman fights for justice (3 July)
- Dalit family spends year in hut looking for justice (3 July)
- Stripping of women: DM orders probe (1 July)
- Caste row in Indian school (30 Jun)
- Dalits banished for drawing water from village well (29 Jun)
- Six people massacred in Bihar (29 Jun)
- Dalit leader blames Jehrana carnage on casteism (28 Jun)
- Four Dalits lynched in Bhojpur (26 Jun)
- Discrimination in promotions alleged (26 Jun)
- Punish the guilty (22 Jun)
- Sexual assault on Dalit woman (15 Jun)
- 5 dalits shot dead in UP (14 Jun)
- Dalit woman gang raped (14 Jun)
- Dalits don’t redraw the village map here, those who do get killed
(12 Jun)
- Untouchability faces no threat here (11 Jun)
- Dalit killed for entering temple (10 Jun)
- Villagers still terrified (25 May)
- Police atrocities (23 May)
- Dalits barred from temple (21 May)
- No justice for tortured labourer (21 May)
- Well divides Dalits and upper castes (21 May)
- Rape victim dies due to doctors' negligence (17 May)
- ‘Atrocities on SC/STs on the rise’ (17 May)
- Officials accused of harassing Dalits (12 May)
- Tribal dies due to starvartion (4 May)
- Leaders allege harassment of tribals (4 May)
- Minor Dalit girl raped at Kallipalli village (1 May)
- Inter-caste marriage claims girl (26 Apr)
- Caste-based segregation at JNTU hostels: SFI (26 Apr)
- Atrocities against Dalits surface in village near Bhopal (26 Apr)
- Clashes as Dalits stopped at tap (23 Apr)
- Voting rights still elude most Dalits (23 Apr)
- Stripped nude for offering water (19 Apr)
- Untouchability in AP (18 Apr)
- Denial in death (16 Apr)
- 3 tribals killed in police firing (7 Apr)
- `Untouchable' fined, beaten for entering Orissa village temple (7
- Old Dalit couple attacked at home (2 Apr)
- Vigil for Kamballapalli (14 Mar)
- Custodial Torture of Dalit Youths (14 Mar)
- Dalits houses torched, 15 arrested (7 Mar)
- Lashes greet caste student (5 Mar)
- Starving the poor (27 Feb)
- Dalit Girl Victimised at Cochin University (19 Feb)
- Discriminating the distressed (19 Feb)
- Youth dies in custody,constable booked
- Quake can't shake caste system
- Ten Dalit Houses Set On Fire
- Three Dalits hurt in attack
- Dalit community alleges social boycott by villagers
- 14-year-old Dalit girl raped
- Booked for raping Dalit
- Dalit beaten up for seeking money back
- 'Dalits denied entry in many temples'
- 150 dalit families rendered landless
- Four Dalits gunned down in Bihar
- 3 Orissa tribals killed in police firing
- SC woman raped
- Alleged attacks on Dalits
- Court pulls up police for custodial torture
- IITs: Doing Manu Proud
- Discrimination against Koluru Dalits alleged - Dalit commits
suicide, Shinor tense
- Assertion, Co-option and Marginalization of Dalits
- An instance of untouchablility in Channagiri taluk
- Scavengers: Mumbai's Neglected Workers
- Gang rape of dalit housewife flayed
- Witches exorcised with Bajrang Dal help
- 15-year-old Dalit girl raped
- Caste system main barrier to India's IT superpower ambitions?
- Dalit samiti condemns Neelur incident
- Acid attack on Dalit
- One held for raping Dalit girl
- Tribal schoolgirls sexually assaulted
- 'Police atrocities' on tribals condemned
- Bihari girls sold to work in Punjab
- Boy stripped, assaulted in Orissa village
- Dalit 'killed' in lock-up at Kurnool
- Dalit beaten up for stoning dog
- Solidarity With Sardar Buta Singh
- Three dalits killed in Bihar
- Dalit students humiliated
- Orissa tribal group gheraos police station after attack
- Sexploitation of an alarming nature
- Dalit students forced out of classrooms
- Deep prejudice
- Four dalits burnt alive in Rajasthan
- Attack on Dalits: action sought against culprits
- Atrocity against magistrate opens can of worms
- RPI activist shot dead in Mulund
- Dalit village still deserted
- Dalit branded witches, one dies after `torture'
- The bells of Guruvayoor
- Vayalar Ravi to move court on temple issue
- Dalit tortured by cops for three days
- SC, STs face higher risk of poverty due to caste
- AIIMS chief biased against SC/STs
- Dalit MLA's outrage over veedu remark
- Minister accused of raping tribal girl
- Dalits decry bid to hush up death casem
- 'Discrimination' made IAS officer quit
- Death does not come as the end
- Bihar's landless landlords die watching others..
- 'Witch' paraded naked in Bihar
- Dalit's death after police torture alleged
- 'Govt apathy' towards women leads to suicide
- Atrocities against Dalits high in Punjab
- ABVP attack Dalit prof at varsity
Aurangabad, Aug 15: The 15-day-long lull of student activism at Dr
Babasaheb Ambedkar Marathwada University ended on Monday when students
belonging to the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad barged into the
cabin of professor of social sciences, Dr B H Kalyankar, a renowned
intellectual from the Maratha community and blackened his face, `to
teach him a lesson for attacking Hindusim.'

- Dalit judge moves SC over courtroom 'purification'
NEW DELHI: A Scheduled Caste judge in Allahabad has appealed in the
Supreme Court against his compulsory retirement in the aftermath of an
incident in which his courtroom was washed with `Ganga jal' by his
`upper' caste successor.
- Dalit boy beaten to death for plucking flowers
BAREILLY: A teenaged Dalit boy was allegedly beaten to death by the
nagar panchayat President of Fateh Ganj for plucking some flowers from
his garden
- Girl tortured, burnt to death in UP
Lucknow: History probably repeated itself when a strikingly similar
incident, as Phoolan Devi's physical torture and humiliation two
decades ago, was reported from Azamgarh district in Eastern Uttar
- Caste groups clash; cops use force
JALANDHAR, July 30 (UNI) -The demand for the release of a suspect in a
theft case from police custody snowballed into an inter-caste tension
at a city police station last night when two warring caste groups
exchanged brickbats and the police used force to quell the clash.
- Five Dalits hacked to death
HYDERABAD: In a gruesome incident, five Dalits were hacked to death at
Surampalli village under Tekmal police limits of Medak district, some
100 km from here, on Thursday night
- Communal clash sparks tension
AYAMKONDAN, JULY 20. Tension prevailed in Meensuriti village near
Jayamkondan in Perambalur district late last night following a
communal clash between Vanniyars and Dalits of the village.
- Tribal family stripped for shooing away hens
BHUBANESWAR: Four members of a tribal family were stripped, beaten up
and made to parade naked before their fellow villagers in Chhatam, in
Orissa's tribal-dominated Sundergarh district.
- Bihar Minister sacked
EMBARRASSED BY the charges of torture of two Dalits by Minister of
State for Cooperatives Lalit Yadav, Chief Minister Rabri Devi on
Monday promptly sacked him.
- 32 kids rescued from bonded labour
MUMBAI: Following a raid by police officials along with Samarthan, a
Mumbai-based NGO, 32 children were rescued from Walope village near
Chiplun in Ratnagiri district.
- Life in Chains
Bonded Labour: Tortured and terrorised, five men suffered in fetters
in a stone quarry for two years
- A cry for justice
At the National Public Hearing on Dalit Human Rights in Chennai, the
country's most oppressed section narrates its tales of woe.
- Four-year-old girl beheaded for sacrifice
A 40-YEAR-old man allegedly 'sacrificed' a four-year-old girl on
Monday in Miragpur village, 30 km from Roorke. Only the head of the
victim has been recovered so far
- Dalit girl hostel for sexual exploitation
PALAKKAD, JULY 2. The shocking revelations of sexual exploitation of
some inmates of the Government-run Agali Tribal Girls Hostel in the
tribal heartland of Attappady in Palakkad district resulting in a few
of them becoming pregnant has rocked Kerala, the most literate State.
- Action to be taken in killing of two Adivasis
he National Commission for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes has
directed the collector and the superintendent of police of Dhar
district in Madhya Pradesh to take action against the police officials
responsible for killing two Adivasi youths in June.
- Gujarat tribals fear losing grants
IN ITS eagerness to keep an eye on any possible conversions, the
Social Welfare Department of the Gujarat Government has made changes
in the application form for seeking grants.
- Dalit colony razed in Sonepat
SONEPAT: More than 100 kutcha and pucca houses were razed to the
ground by officials of the demolition squad with the help of the
police in RK Colony on the GT Road about eight km from here, on
Wednesday night.
- Becoming A ‘Servant Of God’
June 25 — You can tell the “servants of God” from the other Dalit
women outside the Hindu temple in Manvi, a village in northern
Karnataka, by their jewelry. They’re wearing red beaded necklaces with
silver and gold medallions.
- Caste Struggle
June 25 — On paper, the people in the slum on Delhi’s Lodi Road don’t
even exist. The Dalits, or literally “broken people,” as members of
India’s Untouchable castes are now called, don’t show up on electoral
rolls, ration cards or water bills.
- Brutal Murder of 3 Dalits
M.Puliangudi is a Village situated in Cuddalore District in Tamilnadu.
This village has a population of around 3000 in which about 300 people
are be Dalits and the remaining population belongs to Vanniyar
community. Vanniyars are the landed population.
- Return to an abhorrent past
The shankaracharya of Puri, Nischalanand Saraswati, has said that neo-
converts to Hinduism should pray in separate temples. These swastik
temples, as they will be called, are to be for the exclusive use of
all those who have joined or rejoined the Hindu fold. Those 'lucky'
enough to be born Hindus can, of course, continue to pray in the
existing temples across India and the globe.
- Low - cost for low caste
SHANKARACHARYA of Govardhan Peeth in Puri Jagatguru Nischalananda
Saraswati was in the news for "reconverting" 72 tribal Christians in
the same area where Australian missionary Graham Staines and his two
minor sons were roasted alive. Presumably, the conversions did not
contravene the special laws that exist in Orissa. Nobody should grudge
His Grace for his mission as long as he uses persuasion, and not
- Charges filed in Kambalapalli Dalit killings
BANGALORE: The Civil Rights Enforcement Cell (CRE) filed the
chargesheet last Thursday in the court of Civil Judge, Chintamani,
indicting 32 persons, including one Maddi Reddy, as the main accused
in the burning of seven dalits in Kambalapalli village in Chintamani
taluk of Kolar district in March this year. All the accused are now in
judicial custody.
- 15 killed in Bihar caste violence
Fifteen persons were killed in two separate incidents of caste
violence in Nawada district of central Bihar last night.
- Two cases of Rape
Woman panch stripped for being raped in MP
NCW to intervene in Biswas rape case, Lalita
- The drumbeats of oppression
In a village in Tamil Nadu's Pudukkottai district, Dalits are
subjected to a vicious attack for refusing to subject themselves to
rites of social oppression.
- Murder of three Dalits in Cuddalore
The recent murder of three Dalits in Cuddalore district shows that
caste oppresion is a living reality in rural Tamil Nadu.
- Dalits and land issues
ON December 25, 1927, Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar led a historic
mahasatyagraha to defy a ban imposed by caste Hindus on Dalits drawing
water from public sources. More than 10,000 Dalits participated in
- Dalit killed by 4 upper caste persons
Police officials interrogate people witness to the murder of a dalit
youth in Amraiwadi area of Ahmedabad.
- Landlords exploit the drought-hit Dalits
Drought is driving Dalit women into the arms of landlords and
contractors. As most of their men have migrated in search of a
livelihood or been forced into bonded labour, the Dalit women fall
back on Thakurs, Chaudhary-Patels and Rabari-Desais in these trying
- Dalit woman gang-raped, paraded naked
FARIDKOT: A married, Dalit woman was gang-raped and paraded naked in
the village Tharajwala of Muktsar district because of her brother's
alleged involvement with a girl of the village.
- DSS activist says he was kidnapped
Dalit Sanghrasha Samiti activist Manjunath Kundar, who was missing for
about 15 days and later found near Sakaleshpur, has alleged that his
political opponents in connivance with the police, masterminded his
- Dalit farm worker killed in caste conflict
MEERUT: A 40-year-old dalit agricultural labourer was tortured and
humiliated before being shot dead in front of his wife and others at
Kabaraut village, 35 km from Muzaffarnagar, allegedly by some
influential persons, on Tuesday evening.
- Nailing evidence-Police cap under a dead man
Uttar Pradesh: The scene at the wheat fields along the national
highway in Basai village was gory on May 2 morning. Villagers going
for work saw five bodies soaked in blood. Vijay Singh, Jaipal Singh,
Satbir Singh and SugreevÑall Dalits of the villageÑwere dead, but
another Dalit, Santhosh was still hanging on to life, though his neck
had a deep gash. He was rushed to hospital.
- 7 hurt in caste clash near Hoskote
Seven persons were injured and two huts destroyed following clashes
between Caste Hindus and Dalits in Hoskote Taluk, the hotbed of
political and caste-based conflicts in Bangalore Rural dis-trict, on
Tuesday night.
- Dalit killings cause concern in Uttar Pradesh
Two recent incidents involving killing of dalits by members of the
upper caste have brought under fire the Bharatiya Janata Party-led
coalition government in Uttar Pradesh.
- SI guns down four Dalits in Uttar Pradesh
Angry at his daughter eloping with a Dalit, a police sub-inspector
avenged the humiliation by killing four of the latter`s family.
- The carcass collectors of Rann
Ever since animals started dying in the drought, the only way to
collect the carcasses and get it surveyed has been through people from
this Dalit community.
- Caste off!!
One of the tragedies of our history books is that they do not look at
history holistically, but rather as specific events of battles won or
lost and so on. In the bargain, we fail to learn our lessons
completely, which is perhaps the primary purpose of reading history.
- Water shortage re-ignites caste clashes
AMRELI (Gujarat), APRIL 27. As the mercury soars and water resources
dry up, clashes over collecting water in the drought- hit areas of
rural Gujarat are becoming common. And with that has returned with a
bang the caste consciousness, which was slowly getting blurred.
- Double infliction on Dalits
Drought has failed as a great leveller of the financial status of
individuals here, as farmers who take to agricultural or manual labour
stand divided. Even in hunger, the Dalits are not equal to the upper
castes in the backward Rangareddy district in Telangana.
- Four Dalits gunned down in Bihar
At least 4 Dalits were gunned down, 3 others received serious injuries
and more than a dozen houses were burnt by upper castes in Khairahni
village under the jurisdiction of Nokha police station in Rohtas
district of central Bihar during the wee hours today.
- Deprived of their due
A study highlights the flouting of the norms of reservation for the
Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes in appointments to
institutions of higher learning.
- Dalit bridegroom dismounted from mare
Riding a mare in a wedding procession still proves to be a nightmare
for many a Dalit bridegrooms in Rajasthan. A Dalit bridegroom was
reportedly dismounted from the mare and stones were thrown at the
'baaratis` injuring four of them at Sardada village of Deoli tehsil in
Tonk district on Wednesday.
- Untouchables remain victims of persecution
MADRAS, Apr 21: India's dalits, or "untouchables," remain wide-spread
victims of persecution, of-ten with state collusion, a two-day public
hearing here concluded Thursday, reports AFP.
- Landlords attack dalits, burn houses
CUDDAPAH, APRIL 19. Upper caste landlords have attacked dalits and set
ablaze 30 houses belonging to the latter, near Rajupalem in B. Kodur
-7 Dalits burnt alive in Karnataka caste clash
KOLAR: Seven persons, including three women, were burnt alive and one
person was stabbed to death in a major flare-up of caste-related
violence at Kambalpally village in Karnataka's Kolar district on
Saturday night, police said on Sunday.
Woman Stripped, Killed
20 Dalits injured in mob attack
Priest slaps Dalit, ties him with rope
A temple entangled in clash between castes
Another batch of bonded labourers set free
Caste factor in delivery of justice highlighted
Cry of the oppressed goes unheard
Dalit mother raped for son’s ‘criminal’ affair
Tragic end to inter-caste marriage


Human Rights Watch
Amnesty International


...and I am Sid Harth
2010-03-18 16:08:22 UTC
2010-03-19 06:47:47 UTC
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Debt bondage (or bonded labor) is an arrangement whereby a person is
forced to pay off a loan with direct labor in place of currency, over
an agreed or obscure period of time. When a debtor is tricked or
trapped into working for very little or no pay, or when the value of
their work is significantly greater than the original sum of money
borrowed, some consider the arrangement to be a form of unfree labour
or debt slavery. It is similar to peonage, indenture or the truck

Legal Definition

Debt bondage is classically defined as a situation when a person
provides a loan to another and uses his or her labor or services to
repay the debt; when the value of the work, as reasonably assessed, is
not applied towards the liquidation of the debt, the situation becomes
one of debt bondage. See United Nations 1956 Supplementary Convention
on the Abolition of Slavery.

[edit] Historical background to bonded labor
Prior to the early modern age, feudal and serfdom systems were the
predominant political and economic systems in Europe. These systems
were based on the holding of all land in fief or fee, and the
resulting relation of lord to vassal, and was characterized by homage,
legal and military service of tenants, and forfeiture.[citation

A modernization of the feudal system was "peonage", where debtors were
bound in servitude to their creditors until their debts were paid.
Although peons are only obliged to a creditor monetarily.[citation

Historical peonage

Peonage is a system where laborers are bound in servitude until their
debts are paid in full. Those bound by such a system are known, in the
US, as peons.[citation needed] Employers may extend credit to laborers
to buy from employer-owned stores at inflated prices.[original
research?] This method is a variation of the truck system (or company
store system), in which workers are exploited by agreeing to work for
an insufficient[original research?] amount of goods and/or services.
In these circumstances, peonage is a form of unfree labor. Such
systems have existed in many places at many times throughout history.

Historical examples

The American South - Such a system was often used in the southern
United States after the American Civil War where African-American and
poor white farmers, known as sharecroppers, were often extended credit
to purchase seed and supplies from the owner of the land they farmed
and pay the owner in a share of the crop.
In Peru a peonage system existed from the 1500s until land reform in
the 1950s. One estate in Peru that existed from the late 1500s until
it ended had up to 1,700 peons employed and had a jail. Peons were
expected to work a minimum of three days a week for their landlord and
more if necessary to complete assigned work. Workers were paid a
symbolic 2 cents per year. Workers were unable to travel outside of
their assigned lands without permission and were not allowed to
organize any independent community activity.
Thousands of such laborers were sold into slavery during the West
African slave trade and ended their lives working as slaves on the
plantations in the New World. For this reason, section 2 of the Slave
Trade Act 1843 enacted by the British Parliament declared "persons
holden in servitude as pledges for debt" to "be slaves or persons
intended to be dealt with as slaves" for the purpose of the Slave
Trade Act 1824 and the Slavery Abolition Act 1833.

It continued to be very common in Africa and China, but was suppressed
by the authorities after the establishment of the People's Republic of
China.[citation needed]. It persists in rural areas of India, Pakistan
and Nepal.[citation needed]

In Niger, where the practice of slavery was outlawed in 2003, a study
found that almost 8% of the population are still slaves.[1] Descent-
based slavery, where generations of the same family are born into
bondage, is traditionally practised by at least four of Niger’s eight
ethnic groups. The slave masters are mostly from the nomadic tribes —
the Tuareg, Fulani, Toubou and Arabs.[2]

According to some claims, 40 million people in India, most of them
Dalits, are bonded workers, many working to pay off debts that were
incurred generations ago. Rise of Dalit politicians in India, and
their overwhelming support by non-Dalits, as well as Government
commitment to overall improve education, communication and living
standards in India has resulted in rapid decline of bonded labor in
India. Penalties for those indulging in employing bonded labor are
severe and Human Rights Groups are very active in curbing these
practices. Television media and increased penetration of cheap
satellite television has spread awareness to the most remote areas and
made people aware of the rights, hence the evidence of forced labor in
India is rapidly declining.

These claimed figures are comparable to ones in Bolivia, Brazil, Peru
and Philippines.

There are no universally accepted figures for the number of bonded
child labourers in India. Again, Government's commitment to universal
education and poverty eradication programmes have resulted in
significant decrease in number of bonded labors. In the traditional
industries of high quality hand-woven fabrics and handicrafts,
increased awareness by international buyers and stringent checks put
in place by multinational corporations on their suppliers has resulted
in suppliers and manufacturers to replace bonded child labor by
instead offering educational facilities to children of their employees
and workers. International Tourists to places like Rajasthan also play
their part and have at many times reported instances of child labor to
authorities who swiftly act to curb any child labor. In contrast, of
20 million bonded labourers in Pakistan 7.5 million are children.

Modern views

See also: Human trafficking http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_trafficking


According to Anti-Slavery International, "A person enters debt bondage
when their labor is demanded as a means of repayment of a loan, or of
money given in advance. Usually, people are tricked or trapped into
working for no pay or very little pay (in return for such a loan), in
conditions which violate their human rights. Invariably, the value of
the work done by a bonded laborer is greater that the original sum of
money borrowed or advanced."[citation needed]

Some see the term as also applying to inhabitants of countries who
must work to repay extensive national debt, but which incurrance of
debt they did not agree to, and (arguably) have not benefited from.[3]

According to the Anti-Slavery Society:

Pawnage or pawn slavery is a form of servitude akin to bonded labor
under which the debtor provides another human being as security or
collateral for the debt. Until the debt (including interest on it) is
paid off, the creditor has the use of the labor of the pawn.[4]

At international law

Debt bondage has been defined by the United Nations as a form of
"modern day slavery" [5] and is prohibited by international law. It is
specifically dealt with by article 1(a) of the United Nations 1956
Supplementary Convention on the Abolition of Slavery. It persists
nonetheless especially in developing nations, which have few
mechanisms for credit security or bankruptcy, and where fewer people
hold formal title to land or possessions. According to some
economists, for example Hernando de Soto, this is a major barrier to
development in those countries - entrepreneurs do not dare take risks
and cannot get credit because they hold no collateral and may burden
families for generations to come.[citation needed]

Where children are forced to work because of debt bondage of the
family, this is considered not only child labor, but one of the worst
forms of child labor in terms of the Worst Forms of Child Labour
Convention, 1999 of the International Labour Organization.[citation

Despite the UN prohibition, Anti-Slavery International estimates that
"between 10 and 20 million people are being subjected to debt bondage
today."[citation needed] Other estimates place the number as high as
40 million. Researcher Siddharth Kara has calculated the number of
slaves in the world by type, and determined the number of debt bondage
slaves to be 18.1 million at the end of 2006. [6] He has updated this
number for the end of 2009 to be 18.4 million, the increase primarily
as a result of the 2007 global commodity bubble, followed by the
global economic crisis of 2008 and 2009.






Modern examples

Prostitution - News media in western Europe regularly carry reports
about one particular kind of debt bondage: women from Eastern Europe
who are forced to work in prostitution as a way to pay off the "debt"
they acquired when they were illegally smuggled to destinations in
Western Europe. This form of debt bondage also takes place in other
parts of the world, such as women moving from Southeast Asia or Latin
America.[citation needed]



Marxist analysis

According to Marxist economists, debt bondage is characteristic of
feudal economies, where families are considered the responsible unit
for financial relationships, and where heirs continue to owe parents'
debts upon their deaths. Fully capitalist economies are characterized
by the individual taking all responsibility, and such mechanisms as
bankruptcy and inheritance taxes reducing creditors' rights (while
increasing the power of the state). Heirs are freed from the creditor,
but at the cost of a drastically increased power accruing to the state

Debt bondage is often a form of disguised slavery in which the subject
is not legally owned, but is instead bound by a contract to perform
labor to work off a debt, under terms that make it impossible to
completely retire the debt and thereby escape from the contract.
[citation needed]







See also

Bonded Labour Liberation Front, India
Bondage in Pakistan
Debtor's prison
Karl Marx
The State of Bonded Labor in Pakistan
Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention

This article includes a list of references, related reading or
external links, but its sources remain unclear because it lacks inline
citations. Please improve this article by introducing more precise
citations where appropriate. (September 2009)

^ [1] http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/programmes/from_our_own_correspondent/4250709.stm
^ [2] http://www.smithsonianmag.com/people-places/10013271.html?page=3
^ Debt Bondage Or Self-Reliance, GATT-Fly
^ [3] http://anti-slaverysociety.addr.com/pawnage.htm
^ The Bondage of Debt: A Photo Essay, by Shilpi Gupta
^ Kara, Siddharth (January 2009). Sex Trafficking - Inside the
Business of Modern Slavery. Columbia University Press. ISBN

External links

Photo-story on modern-day slavery (debt-bondage) in Brazil by
photographer Eduardo Martino
Human Rights Watch report on Thai women tricked into debt bondage in
1996 Human Rights Watch report on bonded child labor in India




Anti-Slavery International
Common Language Project article on bonded labor in Pakistan

Bonded child labor
The ILO Special Action Programme to combat Forced Labour (SAP-FL)


Bonded Child Labor In India
Human Rights Watch Children's Rights Project
Human Rights Watch/Asia
Human Rights Watch

Copyright © September 1996 by Human Rights Watch.
All rights reserved.
rinted in the United States of America.
ISBN 1-56432-172-X
Library of Congress Catalog Card Number 96-77536

This is the half report. (The last part)
The first part would follow in the next post...

Another writer, a human rights lawyer with extensive experience
working with bonded laborers, put it more bluntly. "A bonded labourer
who becomes free without the means to survive," he wrote, "becomes
free to die."30

As of 1996, a bonded laborer identified and released by the state is
entitled to a rehabilitation allowance of 6,250 rupees. The 1994-1995
annual report of the Indian government's Ministry of Labour reported
that in August 1994, state and central government labor officials
agreed to raise the rehabilitation allowance to 10,000 rupees.31
Nonetheless, as of July 1996, this raise had not been effectuated.

The failure of state governments to comply with their legal
obligations under the Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act-
particularly the formation and adequate functioning of the district-
level vigilance committees-is one of the primary reasons behind the
low enforcement rate of the law and the continuing high prevalence of
bonded labor. (Indeed, by some accounts, bonded labor is actually
increasing during the 1990s.32) Another contributing factor, mentioned
previously in the context of child labor policy, is the failure of the
government to gather and maintain accurate or even plausible

The statistics problem is as acute in the bonded labor context as it
is in the child labor context. According to credible estimates, the
number of bonded laborers in India is approximately sixty-five
million, representing slightly more than 7 percent of the country's
total population.33 Certain individual states alone are estimated to
have bonded labor populations of one to two million people; a report
from Tamil Nadu, based on extensive research conducted at the
direction ofthe Supreme Court, concluded that there were "well over 10
lakhs" (one million) bonded laborers working in that state.34 Other
states known to have high rates of bondage include Andhra Pradesh,
Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Uttar
Pradesh, Haryana, and Bihar.

In contrast to the figures used by social scientists, the Indian
government's figures regarding bonded labor are unconvincingly low.
The central Ministry of Labour relies on the state Ministries of
Labour-which are charged with enforcing the Bonded Labour System
(Abolition) Act-to report the number of bonded laborers identified,
released, and rehabilitated. Based on information submitted by the
states, the central Ministry of Labour's 1994-1995 Annual Report
stated that the nationwide target for 1994-1995 was the rehabilitation
of 2,784 bonded laborers-a figure representing less than .005 percent
of all estimated bonded laborers. The figure for the total number of
bonded laborers identified, when viewed in contrast to the same
figures provided in 1989, illustrate the lack of implementation of the
Bonded Labour (Abolition) Act. In 1989, the total number of bonded
laborers identified was 242,532.35 By 1995, this number had risen to
251,424.36 These figures indicate that from 1988 to 1995, only 8,892
bonded laborers had been identified throughout the country, at a time
when nongovernmental sources were reporting that there were as many as
sixty-five million bonded laborers in India by 1994.37 Ironically, in
the paragraph following the presentation of statistics in the 1994-95
Annual Report, the report states that "[t]he [state] Governments are
attaching the highest priority to the total eradication of the bonded
labour system in the country."38

The central government's reliance on and acceptance of state
government statistics regarding bonded labor is misplaced and
irresponsible. The majority ofstate governments vastly underreport the
incidence of bonded labor within their borders. For instance, the
government of Tamil Nadu, where an independent commission recently
concluded that there existed more than one million bonded laborers,
stated in a sworn affidavit to the Supreme Court that "in Tamil Nadu,
only stray cases of bonded labour are noticed..."39 Twelve other state
governments made the same assertion to the court, which expressed its
disbelief by ordering independent investigations into the matter.40

In interviews with Human Rights Watch, top labor officials from the
states of Gujarat and Rajasthan, both states with high levels of debt
bondage, asserted that there was no bonded labor in their states. "I
frankly don't think it [bonded labor] exists in Rajasthan," said Ashok
Shekhar, Labour Commissioner for Rajasthan; one of his subordinates
added that, "there is no case of bonded labour in Rajasthan."41 When
asked about the reports of widespread bondage from journalists and
activists, Commissioner Shekhar conceded, as noted, that there might
exist "technical bonded labour," whereby an advance is paid to secure
a worker's labor, but he insisted that this practice was "not really
bondage." He also said that activists who organize against bonded
labor practices in the stone quarries of Rajasthan are not acting on
behalf of the bonded laborers, but rather are hoping to be paid off by
the owners in order to stay quiet. Ashok Bhasin, the Deputy Labour
Commissioner for the neighboring state of Gujarat, concurred
withCommissioner Shekhar's statements. As for his own state, he
asserted that "bonded labour does not exist in Gujarat... neither
among women, men, or children."42

Dr. Manoj Dayal, a professor at the University of Allahabad described
how the government of Bihar "abolished" bonded labor:

As soon as the issue of abolishing bonded labour was raised in Bihar,
the State Government outrightly persisted that there was no system of
bonded labour prevailing in the State; that what exists in the State
is a system of attached labour and that the labourers are assured of
remuneration, cultivable and homestead land, clothing, interest-free
loans and so on. The Bihar Government thus abolished bonded labour by
redefining it and by terming it as "attached labour system."43

Given this willful denial of one of the country's most pressing social
ills, it is not surprising that government officials' efforts on
behalf of bonded laborers have remained meager at best. The failure to
address the issue is doubly egregious in the case of bonded child
laborers, who, without intervention, will be doomed to pass their
entire lives in a state of virtual slavery.


An analysis of data indicating the number of prosecutions launched
under [the Child Labour] Act and convictions obtained would clearly
indicate that this act ... has achieved very little.44

The government's failure to enforce the Child Labour (Prohibition and
Regulation) Act and the government's failure to enforce the Bonded
Labour System (Abolition) Act-not to mention the failure to enforce
the several other laws protecting child workers-are twin
manifestations of the same set ofphenomena. These phenomena include
apathy, caste and class bias, obstruction of enforcement efforts,
corruption, low prioritization of the problem, and disregard for the
deep and widespread suffering of bonded child laborers.

Enforcement Statistics

A glaring sign of neglect of their duties by officials charged with
enforcing child labor laws is the failure to collect, maintain, and
disseminate accurate statistics regarding enforcement efforts. Human
Rights Watch met with a top official of the Ministry of Labour, but he
was unable to provide any statistics regarding enforcement of the
Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act or other legislation
protecting the rights of child workers.45 We attempted to meet with S.
S. Sharma, the Director General of Labour Welfare and, as such, the
official entrusted with enforcement of the Bonded Labour System
(Abolition) Act. Director-General Sharma refused to grant an interview
to Human Rights Watch while we were in New Delhi, suggesting instead
that we fax him a set of questions, which we did. Unfortunately, we
received no response.46 The enforcement statistics that follow have
been gleaned from a variety of sources, including public government
documents, news reports, and interviews with government officials.

Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act

At the national level, from 1990 to 1993, 537 inspections were carried
out under the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act. These
inspections turnedup 1,203 violations. Inexplicably, only seven
prosecutions were launched.47 At the state level, the years 1990 to
1993 produced 60,717 inspections in which 5,060 violations of the act
were detected; 772 of these 5,060 violations resulted in convictions.

At the state level during the 1993 to 1994 year, the latest period for
which data are available, 1,596 cases were filed against employers.49
The number of convictions is unknown; many of these cases may still be

When convictions are obtained under the Child Labour (Prohibition and
Regulation) Act, the fines are light. The vast majority of adjudicated
offenders receive fines of five dollars or less-just a few hundred
rupees, as opposed to the 10,000 to 20,000 fine stipulated by the act
itself.50 To the knowledge of Human Rights Watch, not a single case
brought under the act has resulted in imprisonment, to date, although
the act allows for sentences of three months to a year for first-time
offenders and six months to two years for repeat offenders.51

Some information is available from various states of India regarding
enforcement of the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act. In
Tamil Nadu, the act was not enforced until 1994-eight years after its
passage-when a casewas filed in North Arcot district.52 In the two
years since then, according to a senior state official, there have
been fifteen or sixteen convictions under the Child Labour
(Prohibition and Regulation) Act, and another fifty cases or so are
pending.53 To date, no one has been imprisoned in Tamil Nadu for
violation of either the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act
or the Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act. According to activists in
the state, on the rare occasions when prosecutions of Child Labour
(Prohibition and Regulation) Act offenders are mounted by the state,
some judicial magistrates are quick to dismiss the charges, ostensibly
for lack of evidence, but in fact because of corruption or sympathy
with the defendant employers.54

In the Firozabad district of Uttar Pradesh, more than 50,000 children
are estimated to be working in glass factories in violation of the
Factories Act and the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act.55
Nonetheless, in 1995 there were only two convictions for child labor
law violations in Firozabad, and the assistant labour commissioner,
Mr. B. K. Singh, told a journalist that "[t]here is no child labour in
the district now."56 According to the Secretary General of the
National Human Rights Commission, the enforcement problem, in
Firozabad and elsewhere, is "just a matter of people not doing their

Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act

Official statistics reflecting enforcement of the Bonded Labour System
(Abolition) Act are equally difficult to obtain. Statistics regarding
application of the Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act to children
are nonexistent. Indeed, at least some government officials
interviewed by Human Rights Watch appeared to be laboring under the
conviction that the Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act does not
apply to children, an interpretation that has no basis in the law
itself nor in Supreme Court cases interpreting the law.

As of March 1993, the latest date for which official figures are
available, state governments had reported the identification and
release of a total of 251,424 bonded laborers. This number indicates
all bonded laborers identified and released since the Bonded Labour
System (Abolition) Act was passed in 1976.58 Of this number, 227,404
were reported to have been rehabilitated.59 If this number includes
any rehabilitated bonded child laborers, that fact has not been

State governments' statistics grossly under-report the current
incidence of bonded labor. As mentioned, the Supreme Court has been
examining the incidence of bonded labor in thirteen states.60 These
thirteen states, chosen by the court for investigation because of
their reputation for high rates of debt bondage, all claimed in
affidavits to the court that there was little or no bonded labor
within their jurisdictions.61 The court, skeptical of these claims,
appointed teams of investigators to study the issue in each state.62

When districts and states do report on statistics regarding the
identification and rehabilitation of bonded laborers, these numbers
are frequently unreliable. The team investigating bonded labor in
Tamil Nadu, for example, found that"[s]tatutory registers relating to
bonded labour were not maintained in many districts."63 Simple neglect
or lack of resources is not the only or even the primary reason for
lack of accurate statistics. According to the investigative team,
"Details provided by the state government and the district
administration do not tally in most districts and even appear

This can be seen in states' statistics on bonded labor which are
submitted to the central government. For example, there are at least
three examples from 1988 to 1995 where states have reported that the
number of bonded laborers that have been rehabilitated are greater
than the number of bonded laborers that have been identified. In 1988,
the state of Tamil Nadu reported that 34,640 bonded laborers had been
rehabilitated, but they also reported that 33,581 bonded laborers had
been identified, meaning that the state claimed it had rehabilitated
1,059 more people than it had ever identified as bonded laborers.65 In
the 1989-90 report to the Ministry of Labour, the state of Orissa
reported that 51,751 bonded laborers had been rehabilitated, but only
48,657 had been identified.66 The state of Tamil Nadu reported in the
1994-95 Ministry of Labour Annual Report that 39,054 bonded laborers
had been rehabilitated, but they had identified 38,886.67 In total,
these three examples indicate that 4,321 more people were
rehabilitated than were identified as bonded laborers.

These statistics are disturbing for two reasons. The first is that
these statistics are cumulative totals, meaning that every year, new
cases are added to the cases from previous years, dating back to 1976,
when the Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act became law, so that the
yearly statistics represent the total number of bonded laborers that
have ever been identified, released, and rehabilitated. The second
factor that makes the statistics suspect is that before bonded
laborers can be eligible for rehabilitation, they must be identified
as bonded laborers. Because ofthis methodology, the cumulative totals
for rehabilitation can never be more than the cumulative totals for
identification and when this occurs, such as the previous three cases,
it indicates a serious flaw in reporting. This may be due to several
factors: state governments may be arbitrarily determining bonded labor
statistics, or the inaccuracies may be due to simple error, or people
who were not bonded laborers are being rehabilitated as bonded
laborers. In one example of the latter, a survey of 180 bonded
laborers who had been officially rehabilitated by the Bihar government
found that 120 had never been bonded.68

Another indication that the law is not being enforced is the fact much
of the money allocated for the rehabilitation of bonded laborers is
unspent and reabsorbed by the government. Funding for rehabilitation
is allocated through a fifty-fifty matching grant in which the states
undertake rehabilitation and the central government matches their
expenditures.69 It is administered through several schemes under the
Integrated Rural Development Program (IRDP) and Jawahar Rozgar Yojana
(JRY). Records of expenditures for these programs show that in
1989-90, only 76.16 percent of the funds were utilized. In 1990-91,
78.41 percent of funds were utilized. And in 1991-92, only 47.83
percent of funds available were utilized for rehabilitating bonded
laborers.70 On March 14, 1996, the Parliamentary Committee on Labour
and Welfare reported that only 38.39 percent of the funds available
for the rehabilitation of bonded laborers had been utilized. The
reason given was that "the state governments failed to submit
certificates in regard to the expenditure incurred by them. Because of
this lapse, the Central government did not release funds to them."71
The failure to report expenditures indicates a failure to enforce the

A Supreme Court lawyer closely connected to bonded labor litigation
corroborated the unreliable nature of the district collectors'
reports, saying there is "no mechanism to ascertain [the collectors']
veracity."72 According to thisadvocate and others familiar with the
issue, corruption in application of the Bonded Labour System
(Abolition) Act and dispersal of act-related rehabilitation funds is
common. "A collector may receive 100,000 rupees for rehabilitation
efforts but disperse only 10,000 of it. Embezzlement is difficult to
track, but we all know it happens. For example, a bonded labourer
comes in, puts his thumb print on the document saying he will receive
6,250 rupees, but receives only 3,000 rupees."73

Corruption and neglect are not the only reasons for bad statistics
regarding bonded labor. Another is passivity on the part of enforcing
officials, who too often take no affirmative steps to discover and
root out debt bondage in their districts. Whether this is due to
simple apathy or to a misunderstanding on their part of their official
duties, the effect is disastrous for bonded laborers, who are left in
their state of enslavement indefinitely. In Tamil Nadu, for example,
the investigators found that "most District Collectors... had one
basis to assume that bonded labour does not exist-No one is coming
forward [to report that they are in bondage]."74

Human Rights Watch was unable to obtain any statistics on prosecution
under the Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act after 1988.75 Up to
1988, there were 7,000 prosecutions under the Bonded Labour
(Abolition) Act throughout India, of which 700 resulted in convictions.
76 It is certain that prosecution under the act is rare. In Tamil
Nadu, the first prosecutions under the twenty-year-old act occurred in
1995, when eight beedi employers were arrested by the North Arcot
District Collector.77 The case, which drew headlines in the regional
press, was depicted as a bold "get tough" measure. The agents spent
one night in jail andwere fined 500 rupees each.78 The Bonded Labour
System (Abolition) Act allows for punishment of three years in prison
and a 2,000 rupee fine.

Obstacles to Enforcement


The endemic apathy among government officials charged with enforcing
India's labor laws is apparent at all levels: national, state, and
district. While undoubtedly there are many committed men and women
among their ranks-including, for example, the district collector of
North Arcot in Tamil Nadu, whom Human Rights Watch interviewed-such
commitment is not the norm. From India's top labor officials all the
way down to the local level, where tehsildars (community leaders) use
their influence to support the status quo, Human Rights Watch and
other researchers have found a profound lack of concern for the plight
of bonded and child laborers.

There are many concrete examples of government neglect. The Child
Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, signed into law in 1986,
requires each state to formulate rules for its implementation. Until
this is done, the law cannot be applied in those states. As of July
1996, a full ten years after the act's birth, the majority of states
have failed to formulate and implement these necessary rules.79 It is
a sign of the government's disregard of this issue that we are unable
to report the exact number of India's twenty-five states that have
made rules for the act's application. When we asked a very senior
official of the central Ministry of Labour-who spoke only on condition
of anonymity-how many states had made rules under the Child Labour
(Prohibition and Regulation) Act, he said "I don't know." He then
said, "Laws don't matter. Economics do," and went on to assert that,
until rural prosperity increases, nothing can be done about child

Clearly, states are receiving no pressure from the national government
to implement the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act. Nor,
for the most part, are they themselves taking the initiative to push
for greater enforcement of child labor legislation. It is at the
district level that most enforcement efforts are coordinated and
carried out, and these efforts are managed and overseen by the
district magistrates. The district magistrates, or collectors as they
are also called, are civil servants appointed by the state ministers,
and are the top law enforcement and administrative authorities at the
district level. At a 1995 conference of district magistrates and
collectors in New Delhi, various district heads told a journalist that
child labor was "very low" on their list of priorities, ranking about
twenty-fifth (investment in high-tech industries was first).80

Regarding the Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act, the government's
egregious neglect of the law is most evident in the nearly universal
failure of districts to form the requisite vigilance committees, much
less ensure that the committees function meaningfully. The vigilance
committees form the core of act enforcement-if implemented as
intended, these committees could contribute dramatically to the
eradication of bonded labor. For overburdened district collectors,
they would provide resources; for corrupt district collectors, they
would provide oversight; and for all district collectors, they would
provide essential liaison possibilities to the bonded laborer
population, whose interests are usually at odds with the interest and
sympathies of their local leaders.81

Nonetheless, notwithstanding the act's unambiguous requirement that
vigilance committees be formed and active, as well as numerous supreme
court rulings emphasizing the importance of the committees for act
enforcement, Human Rights Watch has learned of no functioning
vigilance committee anywhere in India.

Apathy, or at least a low prioritization of child and bonded labor
issues, is also evident in the slow pace at which complaints are
adjudicated-enforcement in the courts is very slow. One attorney told
us of a case he filed with the Supreme Court under the Bonded Labour
System (Abolition) Act in 1984. A fact finding committee was not
appointed until 1991 and, although arguments and submissionsbefore the
court concluded in 1994, as of 1996 no decision had yet been issued.82
The time table is not much better for the bonded labor case before the
Supreme Court, People's Union for Civil Liberties v. State of Tamil
Nadu, et al., which was filed in 1985 and as of 1996 was under
consideration by the court.

Delays in prosecuting cases under the Child Labour (Prohibition and
Regulation) Act are also not uncommon. One such case, filed in 1986
shortly after the act took effect, was reported to be still pending at
the prosecution stage eight years later, in 1994, with the accused
continuing to engage in prohibited practices. The delay in processing
the complaint, filed against an owner of a glass and bangles factory
in Firozabad, is all the more startling in view of the fact that the
complaint was filed by then-Labour Minister P. A. Sangma.83

Caste and Class Bias

A key element of enforcement is the attitude and the tendency toward a
subjective interpretation of the Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act,
1976 by government officials, including district magistrates, police
officers, labor inspectors, and judges. Too often, because of their
own backgrounds and the climate in which they work, those officers
entrusted with enforcement are more sympathetic to the employers than
to the child or bonded laborers. This phenomenon has been noted
repeatedly in the context of enforcement of the Bonded Labour System
(Abolition) Act.

We had some time back a case before us where pursuant to a direction
given by the Collector as a result of an order made by this Court, the
Tehsildar went to the villages in question and sitting on a dais with
the landlords by his side, he started enquiring of the labourers
whether they were bonded or not and when the labourers, obviously
inhibited and terrified by the presence of the landlords, said that
they were not bonded but they were working freely and voluntarily, he
made a report to the Collector that there were no bonded labourers.84

In the rare instances where vigilance committees or similar bodies
have been formed, according to one researcher, they have been composed
of people who themselves, either directly or through their families,
employ bonded labor.85 District collectors and other civil servants
assigned to bonded labor enforcement are also more often than not
aligned with the property-holding-including the holding of bonded
laborers-class. One researcher told Human Rights Watch of working with
a team of three Indian Administrative Service officers, who had been
assigned by the Supreme Court to investigate a case of bonded labor
affecting between 2,500 and 3,000 people. The investigators were urban
middle-class men from land-owning families in the region; in private
conversations, they made it clear that they considered the use of
bonded labor to be an acceptable practice.86

Many bond masters are themselves government employees, including
teachers, railway workers, and civil administrators.87 Because of
their steady income, these people are more likely to own land-which
they need someone to cultivate-and are more likely to have money
available for lending purposes. They are also more likely to be local
leaders and to have ties to the local and district administration,
both factors which tend to inhibit prosecution.

Despite the obvious limitations of relying on high-caste and local
landowning officials to attack bonded labor, outreach by the
government to affected populations and collaboration with grass-roots
social actions groups have not yet been implemented to any significant


It is not uncommon for those accused of violating labor laws to engage
in overt obstruction of the legal process. This ranges from
intimidation of thecomplaining workers, to bribery of government
officials, to physical threats and violence against the bonded
laborers and their advocates.88

Those who file suit against employers of bonded labor are frequently
harassed, according to a New Delhi lawyer who has been engaged in
bonded labor cases for more than a decade.89

The danger is greatest to those who work in rural areas, where bondage
is often the norm and is employed by powerful and ruthless owners.
According to another attorney closely related to bonded labor
litigation, the advocates and especially the workers who complain
about their status are "risking their lives... they are putting their
lives on the line, and the state officials have turned a callous eye
to it."90

Government officials may do more than just turn a "callous eye" toward
violence against the bonded laborers and their advocates. Several
activists told Human Rights Watch of police collusion with local
employers, including returning escaped workers to the employers and
intimidating, through force or threat of force, workers who are
attempting to organize for improved conditions.91


As noted in previous chapters, corruption among government officials
charged with enforcement of labor laws is notorious and widespread.
Labor inspectors, medical officers, local tehsildars (representatives
of the district magistrates at the local level), and judges and
judicial magistrates are all known to be susceptible to bribery.

Lack of Accountability

Under the Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act, district magistrates
are supposed to report to the state government periodically regarding
the number of cases of bonded laborers identified, released, and
rehabilitated. Most districtmagistrates either do not make these
reports at all, or make them sporadically. Furthermore, no mechanism
is in place whereby the accuracy of the district-level reports can be
ascertained, including such important issues as how many of the
identified workers have actually been released, and whether any
released workers have relapsed into bondage. Often, the district
magistrates will simply report that identified bonded laborers, or
formerly released bonded laborers, are "unavailable for
rehabilitation." That is to say, that their whereabouts are unknown.
Hence the central government's figures for 1994-1995, which state
that, of 251,424 bonded labourers identified between 1976 and 1995,
17,127 are "not available for rehabilitation."92

The rate of return into bondage by previously released bonded laborers
is neither studied nor recorded by the government; the effectiveness
of the rehabilitation scheme is therefore unknown. Various
nongovernmental sources believe the relapse rate to be very high.93
Part of the reason for return may be the long delays between
identification of bonded laborers and dispersal of rehabilitation
monies to them.94 Another factor may be the reportedly widespread
corruption among enforcing officials, who are accused of siphoning off
funds earmarked for rehabilitation purposes.

Lack of Adequate Enforcement Staff

Yet another obstacle to enforcement is the failure to devote
sufficient resources to the issue of bonded child labor. This failure
includes inadequate training of labor inspectors, an insufficient
number of inspectors,95 and anoverburdening of the district
magistrates.96 At both the state and the district level, the number of
personnel devoted to enforcement of child and bonded labor laws is
blatantly inadequate. In Tamil Nadu, for example, "there is only one
Assistant Section Officer dealing with the bonded labour issue for the
whole State... [and he] also holds other responsibilities.97


The eradication of bonded child labor in India depends on the Indian
government's commitment to two imperatives: enforcement of the Bonded
Labour System (Abolition) Act, and the creation of meaningful
alternatives for already-bonded child laborers and those at risk of
joining their ranks.

In addition to genuine government action, it is essential that
nongovernmental organizations be encouraged by the government to
collaborate in this effort. The government has the resources and
authority to implement the law, while community-based organizations
have the grass-roots contacts and trust necessary to facilitate this
implementation. Furthermore, nongovernmental groups can act as a
watchdog on government programs, keeping vigil for corruption, waste,
and apathy. The elimination of current debt bondage and the prevention
of new or renewed bondage therefore requires a combination of
concerted government action and extensive community involvement.
Neither standing alone is sufficient. Bonded labor is a vast,
pernicious, and long-standing social ill, and the tenacity of the
bonded labor system must be attacked with similar tenacity; anything
less than total commitment is certain to fail.



The Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act was passed into law in 1976.
Twenty years later, Human Rights Watch has found that the goals of
this law-to punish employers of bonded labor and to identify, release,
and rehabilitate bonded laborers-have not been met, and efforts to do
so are sporadic and weak at best. The bonded labor system continues to

The district-level vigilance committees, mandated by the Bonded Labour
System (Abolition) Act and constituting the key tool of act
enforcement, have not been formed in most districts. Those that have
formed tend to lie dormant, or, worse yet, are comprised of members
unsympathetic to the plight of bonded laborers, in direct
contravention of Supreme Court orders interpreting the act.

Without effective vigilance committees to assist, guide, and oversee
their efforts, district collectors are left alone in their efforts to
enforce the law. Collectors interested in enforcement are limited in
these efforts by competing administrative and prosecutorial duties;
without vigilance committees to share the work, meaningful enforcement
of the Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act is difficult. Other
collectors are not interested in enforcing the act; for them, the lack
of a good vigilance committee means there is no pressure to do so.

Whether for lack of will or lack of support, India's district
collectors have failed utterly to enforce the provisions of the Bonded
Labour System (Abolition)Act. If collected statistics regarding
prosecutions under the act after 1988 exist, Human Rights Watch was
unable to obtain them. The only attempted prosecutions we learned of
occurred in Tamil Nadu in 1995, when eight employers of bonded child
labor were arrested, kept in jail over night, and fined a nominal
amount. The state of Tamil Nadu has an estimated one million bonded
laborers; according to the North Arcot District Collector, these were
the first charges ever brought under the act in Tamil Nadu.

In addition to prosecuting violators, district collectors are directed
by the act to identify, release, and rehabilitate bonded laborers.
India has an estimated fifteen million bonded child laborers alone.
The Indian government's Ministry of Labour, however, estimated in 1995
that there were just 2,784 bonded laborers of all ages identified and
awaiting rehabilitation. It made no mention of any bonded laborers yet
to be identified. Non-enforcement of the law is virtually guaranteed,
of course, so long as the government engages in a willful denial
regarding the existence and pervasiveness of bonded labor.

The mandated rehabilitation of released workers is essential. Without
adequate rehabilitation, those who are released will quickly fall
again into bondage. This has been established repeatedly, among both
adult and child bonded laborers. Nonetheless, the central and state
governments have jointly failed to implement required rehabilitation
procedures. Rehabilitation allowances are distributed late, or are not
distributed at all, or are paid out at half the proper rate, with
corrupt officials pocketing the difference. One government-appointed
commission found that court orders mandating the rehabilitation of
bonded laborers were routinely ignored.98

Finally, the Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act directs vigilance
committees and district collectors to institute savings and credit
programs at the community level, so that the impoverished might have
access to a small loan during financial emergencies. This resource is
crucial. Just as enforcement of the law against employers would work
to terminate the demand for bonded labor, so would available credit
work to end the supply. Nearly every child interviewed by Human Rights
Watch told the same story: they were sold to their employers because
their parents were desperate for money and had no other way to get it.
For some, it was the illness or death of a parent, for others, the
marriage of a sister, and for others still, the need to buy food or
put a roof over their heads. In most cases, the amount of the debt
incurred was very small.

A community-based savings and credit program has been introduced in
North Arcot district, and early indications are that it will strike a
significant blow against bonded child labor. The program was launched
by the district collector for North Arcot, who claimed that sufficient
funds and personnel were available from existing rural development
programs. Similar initiatives should be instituted in all areas where
bonded child labor is prevalent.


Bonded child labor must be attacked from many fronts. Enforcement of
the law is essential, but it is not enough. The bonded child laborer
must have someplace else to go. The child's parents must have other
options available. The community must support the end of debt bondage
for children. In sum, the attack must be holistic-it must work to
change the system of debt bondage. Elements already in use by
community activists and some government officials include: education,
including vocational training and popular education, and rural

The availability of free, compulsory, and quality education is widely
regarded as the single most important factor in the fight against
bonded and non-bonded child labor. The correlation between illiteracy
and bonded labor is strong, with researchers reporting that literacy
rates among bonded child laborers are as low as 5 percent.99 The
majority of children interviewed by Human Rights Watch had been
schooled for three years or less, and many said they could not read or

Article 45 of the Indian Constitution commits the state to
"endeavor[ing] to provide, within a period of ten years from the
commencement of this Constitution, for free and compulsory education
for all children until they complete the age of fourteen years." The
constitution came into force in 1950. Recognizing the central
importance of education, India's leading non-governmental
organizations have called for the implementation of universal, free,
and compulsory education. Among them are: the Child Labour Action
Network (CLAN), the Campaign Against Child Labour (CACL), the Centre
for Rural Education and Development Action (CREDA), and the Bonded
Labour Liberation Front (BLLF). UNICEF-India and Anti-Slavery
International have likewise called on the Indian government to
implement education for all.

At the same time, alternate efforts to at least minimally educate
bonded children are already underway in a few areas. CREDA in the
carpet-belt, the MV Foundation in Andhra Pradesh, and the Indian
Council on Child Welfare (ICCW)in North Arcot, are all involved in non-
formal education initiatives. Some of these programs utilize modest
financial support to attract children, including small cash stipends
and periodic grain allowances. In addition to classic schooling,
children on the verge of adulthood may benefit from concrete skills
training as well.

CREDA and the MV Foundation also emphasize popular education for all
members of the community, in which community teachers stress the
importance of education for children and the deleterious effects of
exploitative child labor. Such outreach to the community as a whole is
necessary in order to chip away at the thick web of myths and
justifications that support the exploitation of child workers. These
myths contend that children must be trained at the "right" age or they
will never learn a skill; children must be trained in a profession
"appropriate" to their caste and background; children are well-suited
for certain kinds of work because of their "nimble fingers;" and child
labor is a natural and inevitable function of the family unit. These
views are widely shared by parents, educators, government officials,
and the public at large, with the result that talk of children's
rights in regard to labor is dismissed summarily. It is necessary to
change these views in order to change the system.

In sum, the fight against bonded child labor must be carried out on
two fronts: enforcement and prevention. Those employers who continue
to bind children to them with debt, paying just pennies for a
hazardous and grueling work day, must be prosecuted under the Bonded
Labour System (Abolition) Act. Employers or agents that physically
abuse, kidnap, unlawfully confine, threaten with violence, or expose
to dangerous conditions, within the context of the bonded labor
system, should be prosecuted for these crimes under the Indian Penal
Code and the Juvenile Justice Act, 1986. Children must be removed from
bondage and rehabilitated to avoid a subsequent return to bondage.
Finally, the educational and survival needs of all children at risk
must be addressed in order to stop the cycle of bondage.


APPENDIX A: Selected Articles of the Indian Constitution

Article 21. Protection of life and personal liberty-No person shall be
deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to procedure
established by law.

Article 23. Prohibition of traffic in human beings and forced labour-
(1) Traffic in human beings and begar and other similar forms of
forced labour are prohibited and any contravention of this prohibition
shall be an offence punishable in accordance with law.

(2) Nothing in this article shall prevent the State from imposing
compulsory service for public purposes, and in imposing such service
the State shall not make any discrimination on grounds only of
religion, race, caste or class or any of them.

Article 24. Prohibition of employment of children in factories, etc.-
No child below the age of fourteen years shall be employed to work in
any factory or mine or engaged in any other hazardous employment.

Article 39. Certain principles of policy to be followed by the State-
The State shall, in particular, direct its policy towards securing-

(a) that the citizens, men and women equally, have the right to an
adequate means of livelihood;

(b) that the ownership and control of the material resources of the
community are so distributed as best to subserve the common good;

(c) that the operation of the economic system does not result in the
concentration of wealth and means of production to the common

(d) that there is equal pay for equal work for both men and women;

(e) that the health and strength of workers, men and women, and the
tender age of children are not abused and that citizens are not forced
by economic necessity to enter avocations unsuited to their age or

(f) that children are given opportunities and facilities to develop in
a healthy manner and in conditions of freedom and dignity and that
childhood and youth are protected against exploitation and against
moral and material abandonment.

Article 39A. Equal Justice and free legal aid-The State shall secure
that the operation of the legal system promotes justice, on a basis of
equal opportunity, and shall, in particular, provide free legal aid,
by suitable legislation or schemes or in any other way, to ensure that
opportunities for securing justice are not denied to any citizen by
reason of economic or other disabilities.

Article 41. Right to work, to education and to public assistance in
certain cases-The State shall, within the limits of its economic
capacity and development, make effective provision for securing the
right to work, to education and to public assistance in cases of
unemployment, old age, sickness and disablement, and in other cases of
undeserved want.

Article 42. Provision for just and humane conditions of work and
maternity relief-The State shall make provision for securing just and
humane conditions of work and for maternity relief.

Article 43. Living wage, etc., for workers-The State shall endeavour
to secure, by suitable legislation or economic organisation or in any
other way, to all workers, agricultural, industrial or otherwise,
work, a living wage, conditions of work ensuring a decent standard of
life and full enjoyment of leisure and social and cultural
opportunities and, in particular, the State shall endeavour to promote
cottage industries on an individual or cooperative basis in rural

Article 43A. Participation of workers in management of industries-The
State shall take steps, by suitable legislation or in any other way,
to secure the participation of workers in the management of
undertakings, establishments or other organizations engaged in any

Article 45. Provision for free and compulsory education for children-
The State shall endeavour to provide within a period of ten years from
the commencement of this Constitution, for free and compulsory
education for all children until they complete the age of fourteen

Article 46. Promotion of educational and economic interests of
Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and other weaker sections-The State
shall promote with special care the educational and economic interests
of the weaker sections of the people, and, in particular, of the
Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes, and shall protect them from
social injustice and all forms of exploitation.

APPENDIX B: The Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act, 1976

(No. 19 of 1976)

[9th February, 1976]

An act to provide for the abolition of bonded labour system with a
view to preventing the economic and physical exploitation of the
weaker sections of the people and for matters connected therewith or
incidental thereto

Be it enacted by Parliament in the Twenty-seventh Year of the Republic
of India as follows:



1. Short title, extent and commencement.-(1) This act may be called
the Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act, 1976.

(2) It extends to the whole of India.

(3) it shall be deemed to have come into force on the 25th day of
October, 1975.

2. Definitions.-(1) In This act, unless the context otherwise

(a) "advance" means an advance, whether in cash or in kind, or partly
in cash or partly in kind, made by one person (hereinafter referred to
as the creditor) to another person (hereinafter referred to as the

(b) "agreement" means an agreement (whether written or oral, or partly
written and partly oral) between a debtor and creditor, and includes
an agreement providing for forced labour, the existence of which is
presumed under any social custom prevailing in the concerned

Explanation.-The existence of an agreement between the debtor and
creditor is ordinarily presumed, under the social custom, in relation
to the following forms of forced labour, namely:

Adiyamar, Baramasi, Bethu, Bhagela, Cherumar, Garrugalu, Hali, Hari,
Harwai, Holya, Jolya, Jeeta, Kamiya, Khundit-Mundit, Kuthia, Lakhari,
Munjhi, Mat, Musish system, Nit-Majoor, Paleru, Padiyal, Pannaayilal,
Sagri, Sanji, Sanjawal, Sewak,, Sewakis, Seri, Vetti;

(c) "ascendant" or "descendant" in relation to a person belonging to
matriarchal society, means the person who corresponds to such
expression in accordance with the law of succession in such society;

(d) "bonded debt" means an advance obtained, or presumed to have been
obtained, by a bonded labourer, or in pursuance of, the bonded labour

(e) "bonded labour" means any labour or service rendered under the
bonded labour system;

(f) "bonded labourer" means a labourer who incurs, or has, or is
presumed to have, incurred, a bonded debt;

(g) "bonded labour system" means the system of forced, or partly
forced labour under which a debtor enters, or has, or is presumed to
have, entered, into an agreement with the creditor to the effect

(i) In consideration of an advance obtained by him or by any of his
lineal ascendants or descendants (whether or not such advance is
evidenced by any document) and in consideration of the interest, if
any, due on such advance, or

(ii) in pursuance of any customary or social obligation, or

(iii) in pursuance of an obligation devolving on him by succession,

(iv) for any economic consideration of the interest, if any, due on
such advance, or

(v) by reason of his birth in any particular caste or community, he

(1) render, by himself or through any member of his family, or any
person dependent on him, labour or service to the creditor, or for the
benefit of the creditor, for a specified period or for an unspecified
period, either without wages or for nominal wages, or

(2) forfeit the freedom of employment or other means of livelihood for
a specified period or for an unspecified period, or

(3) forfeit the right to move freely throughout the territory of
India, or

(4) forfeit the right to appropriate or sell at market value any of
his property or product of his labour or the labour of a member of his
family or any person dependent on him

and includes the system of forced, or partly forced, labour under
which a surety for a debtor or has, or has, or is presumed to have,
entered, into an agreement with the creditor to the effect that in the
event of the failure of the debtor to repay the debt, he would render
the bonded labour on behalf of the debtor;

Explanation.- For the removal of doubts, it is hereby declared that
any system of forced, or partly forced labour under which any workman
being contract labour as defined in Cl. (b) of subsection (1) or Sec.
2 of the Contract Labour (Regulation and Abolition) Act, 1970 (37 of
1970), or an inter-State migrant workman as defined in Cl. (e) of sub-
section (1) of Sec. 2 of the Inter-State Migrant Workmen (Regulation
and of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act, 1979 (30 of 1979),
is required to render labour or service in circumstances of the nature
mentioned in sub-clause (1) of this clause or is subjected to all or
any of the disabilities referred to in sub-clauses (2) to (4), is
"bonded labour system" within the meaning of this clause.

(h) "family", in relation to a person, includes the ascendant and
descendant of such person;

(i) "nominal wages", in relation to any labour, means a wage which is
less than,-

(a) the minimum wages fixed by the Government, in relation to the same
or similar labour, under any law for the time being in force; and

(b) where no such minimum wage has been fixed in relation to any form
of labour, the wages that are normally paid, for the same or similar
labour to the labourers working in the same locality;

(j) "prescribed" means prescribed by rules made under this act.

3. Act to have overriding effect.-The provisions of this act shall
have effect notwithstanding anything inconsistent therewith contained
in any enactment other than this act, or in any instrument having
effect by virtue of any enactment other than this act.


Abolition of Bonded Labour System

4. Abolition of bonded labour system.-(1) On the commencement of this
act, the bonded labour system shall stand abolished and every bonded
labourer shall, on such commencement, stand freed and discharged from
any obligation to render any bonded labour.

(2) After the commencement of this act, no person shall-

(a) make any advance under, or in pursuance of the bonded labour
system, forced labour, or

(b) Compel any person to render any bonded labour or other form of
forced labour.

5. Agreement, custom, etc. to be void.-On the commencement of this
act, any custom or tradition or any contract, agreement or other
instrument (whether entered into or executed before or after the
commencement of this act), by virtue of which any person, or any
member of the family or dependent of such person, is required to do
any work or render any service as a bonded labourer, shall be void and


Extinguishment of liability to repay bonded debt

6. Liability to repay bonded debt to stand extinguished-(1) On the
commencement of this act, every obligation of a bonded labourer to
repay any bonded debt, or such part of any bonded debt as remains
unsatisfied immediately before such commencement, shall be deemed to
have been extinguished.

(2) After the commencement of this act, no suit or other proceeding
shall lie in any civil Court or before any other authority for the
recovery of any bonded debt or any part thereof.

(3) Every decree or order for the recovery of bonded debt, passed
before the commencement of this act and not fully satisfied before
such commencement, shall be deemed, on such commencement, to have been
fully satisfied.

(4) Every attachment made before the commencement of this act, for the
recovery of any bonded debt, shall, on such commencement, stand
vacated; and where, in pursuance of such attachment, any moveable
property of the bonded labourer was seized and removed from his
custody and kept in the custody of any Court or other authority
pending sale thereof such moveable property shall be restored, as soon
as may be practicable after such commencement, to the possession of
the bonded labourer.

(5) Where, before the commencement of this act, possession of any
property belonging to a bonded labourer or a member of his family or
other dependent was forcibly taken over by any creditor for the
recovery of any bonded debt, such property shall be restored, as soon
as may be practicable after such commencement, to the possession of
the person from whom it was seized.

(6) If restoration of the possession of any property referred to in
sub-section (4) or sub-section (5) is not made within thirty days from
the commencement of this act, the aggrieved person may, within such
time as may be prescribed, apply to the prescribed authority for the
restoration of the possession of such property and the prescribed
authority may, after giving the creditor a reasonable opportunity of
being heard, direct the creditor to restore to the applicant the
possession of the concerned property within such time as may be
specified in the order.

(7) An order made by any prescribed authority, under sub-section (6),
shall be deemed to be an order made by a civil Court of the lowest
pecuniary jurisdiction within the local limits of whose jurisdiction
the creditor voluntarily resides or carries on business or personally
works for gain.

(8) For the avoidance of doubts, it is hereby declared, that, where
any attached property was sold before the commencement of this act, in
execution of a decree or order for the recovery of a bonded debt, such
sale shall not be affected by any provision of this act:

Provided that the bonded labourer, or an agent authorized by him in
this behalf, may, at any time within five years rom such commencement,
apply to have the sale set aside on his depositing in Court, for
payment to the decree-holder, the amount specified in the proclamation
of sale, for the recovery of which sale was ordered, less any amount
as well as mesne profits, which may, since the date of such
proclamation of sale, have been received by the decree-holder.

(9) Where any suit or proceeding, for the enforcement of any
obligation under the bonded labour system, including a suit or
proceeding for the recovery of any advance made to a bonded labourer,
is pending at the commencement of this act, such suit or other
proceeding shall, on such commencement, stand dismissed.

(10) On the commencement of this act, every bonded labourer who has
been detained in civil prison, whether before or after judgement,
shall be released from detention forthwith.

7. Property of bonded labourer to be freed from mortgage, etc.-(1) All
property vested in a bonded labourer which was, immediately before the
commencement of this act under any mortgage, lien, charge, or other
incumbrances in connection with any bonded debt shall, in so far as it
is relatable to the bonded debt, stand freed and discharged from such
mortgage, charge, lien or otherincumbrances in connection with any
bonded debt, and where any such property was, immediately before the
commencement of this act, in the possession of the mortgagee or the
holder of the charge, lien or incumbrance, such property shall (except
where it was subject to any other charge), on such commencement, be
restored to the possession of the bonded labourer.

(2) If any delay is made in restoring any property, referred to in sub-
section (1), to the possession of the bonded labourer, such labourer
shall be entitled, on and from the date of such commencement, to
recover from the mortgagee or holder of the lien, charge or
incumbrance, such mesne profits as may be determined by the Civil
Court of the lowest pecuniary jurisdiction within the local limits of
whose jurisdiction such property is situated.

8. Freed bonded labourer not to be evicted from homestead, etc.- (1)
No person who has been freed and discharged under this act from any
obligation to render any bonded labour, shall be evicted from any
homestead or other residential premises which he was occupying
immediately before the commencement of this act as part of the
consideration for the bonded labour.

(2) If, after the commencement of this act, any such person is evicted
by the creditor from any homestead or other residential premises,
referred to in sub-section (1), the Executive Magistrate in charge of
the sub-division within which such homestead or residential premises,
is situated shall, as early as practicable, restore the bonded
labourer to the possession of such homestead or other residential

9. Creditor not to accept payment against extinguished debt.-(1) No
creditor shall accept any payment against any bonded debt which has
been extinguished or deemed to have been extinguished or fully
satisfied by virtue of the provisions of this act.

(2) whoever contravenes the provisions of sub-section (1), shall be
punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three
years and also with fine.

(3) The Court, convicting any person under sub-section (2) may, in
addition to the penalties which may be imposed under that sub-section,
direct the person to deposit, in Court, the amount accepted in
contravention of the provisions of sub-section (1), within such period
as may be specified in the order for being refunded to the bonded


Implementing Authorities

10. Authorities who may be specified for implementing the provisions
of this act.- The State Governments may confer such powers and impose
such duties on a District Magistrate as may be necessary to ensure
that the provisions of this act are properly carried out and the
District Magistrate may specify the officer, subordinate to him, who
shall exercise all or any of the powers, and perform al or any of the
duties, so conferred or imposed and the local limits within which such
powers or duties shall be carried out by the officers so specified.

11. Duty of District Magistrates and other officers to ensure credit.-
The District Magistrate authorized by the State Government under Sec.
10 and the officer specified by the District Magistrate under that
section shall, as far as practicable, try to promote the welfare of
the freed bonded labourer by securing and protecting the economic
interests of such bonded labourer so that he may not have any occasion
or reason to contract any further debt.

12. Duty of the District Magistrate and officers authorized by him.-It
shall be the duty of every District Magistrate and every officer
specified by him under Sec. 10 to inquire whether after the
commencement of this act, any bonded labour system or any other form
of forced labour is being enforced by, or on behalf of, any person
resident within the local limits of his jurisdiction and if, as a
result of such inquiry, any person is found to be enforcing the bonded
labour system or any other system of forced labour, he shall forthwith
take such action as may be necessary to eradicate the enforcement of
such forced labour.


Vigilance Committees

13. Vigilance Committees.-(1) Every State Government shall, by
notification in the Official Gazette, constitute such number of
Vigilance Committees in each district and each sub-division as it may
think fit.

(2) Each Vigilance Committee, constituted for a district, shall
consist of the following members, namely:

(a) The District Magistrate, or a person nominated by him, who shall
be the Chairman;

(b) three persons belonging to the Scheduled Castes or Scheduled
Tribes and residing in the district, to be nominated by the District

(c) two social workers, resident in the district, to be nominated by
the District Magistrate;

(d) not more than three persons to represent the official or non-
official agencies in the district connected with rural development, to
be nominated by the State Government;

(e) one person to represent the financial and credit institutions in
the district, to be nominated by the District Magistrate.

(3) Each Vigilance Committee, constituted for a sub-division, shall
consist of the following members, namely:

(a) The Sub-Divisional Magistrate, or a person nominated by him, who
shall be the Chairman;

(b) three persons belonging to the Scheduled Castes or Scheduled
Tribes and residing in the sub-division, to be nominated by the Sub-
divisional Magistrate;

(c) two social workers, resident in the sub-division, to be nominated
by the Sub-divisional Magistrate;

(d) not more than three persons to represent the official or non-
official agencies in the sub-division connected with rural
development, to be nominated by the State Government;

(e) one person to represent the financial and credit institutions in
the sub-division, to be nominated by the Sub-divisional Magistrate.

(f) one officer specified under Sec. 10 and functioning in the sub-

(4) Each Vigilance Committee shall regulate its own procedure and
secretarial assistance as may be necessary, shall be provided by-

(a) the District Magistrate, in the case of Vigilance Committee
constituted for the district;

(b) the Sub-divisional Magistrate, in the case of a Vigilance
Committee constituted for the sub-division.

(5) No proceeding of a Vigilance Committee shall be invalid merely by
reason of any defect in the constitution, or in the proceedings, of
the Vigilance Committee.

14. Functions of Vigilance Committees.-(1) The functions of each
Vigilance Committee shall be-

(a) to advise the District Magistrate or any officer authorized by him
as to the efforts made, and action taken, to ensure that the
provisions of this act or any rule made thereunder are properly

(b) to provide for the economic and social rehabilitation of the freed-
bonded labourers;

(c) to co-ordinate the functions of rural banks and co-operative
societies with a view to canalizing adequate credit to the freed-
bonded labourers;

(d) to keep an eye on the number of offences of which cognizance has
been taken under this act;

(e) to make a survey as to whether there is any offence of which
cognizance ought to be taken under this act;

(f) to defend any suit instituted against a freed-bonded labourer or a
member of his family or any other person dependent on him for the
recovery of the whole or part of any bonded debt or any other debt
which is claimed by such person to be bonded debt.

(2) A Vigilance Committee may authorize one of its members to defend a
suit against a freed-bonded labourer and the member so authorized
shall be deemed, for the purpose of such suit, to be the authorized
agent of the freed-bonded labourer.

15. Burden of proof.- Whenever any debt is claimed by a bonded
labourer, or a Vigilance Committee, to be a bonded debt, the burden of
proof that such debt, is not a bonded debt shall lie on the creditor.


Offences and Procedure for Trial

16. Punishment for enforcement of bonded labour.-Whoever, after the
commencement of this act, compels any person to render any bonded
labour shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may
extend to three years and also with fine which may extend to two
thousand rupees.

17. Punishment for advancement of bonded debt.-Whoever advances, after
the commencement of this act, any bonded debt shall be punishable with
imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years and also with
fine which may extend to two thousand rupees.

18. Punishment for extracting bonded labour under the bonded labour
system.-Whoever enforces, after the commencement of this act, any
custom, tradition, contract, agreement or other instrument, by virtue
of which any person or any member of the family of such person or any
dependent of such person is required to render any service under the
bonded labour system shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term
which may extend to three years and also with fine which may extend to
two thousand rupees; and out of the fine, ifrecovered, payment shall
be made to the bonded labourer at the rate of rupees five for each day
for which the bonded labour was extracted from him.

19. Punishment for omission or failure to restore possession of
property to bonded labourers.-Whoever, being required by this act to
restore any property to the possession of any bonded labourer, omits
or fails to do so, within a period of thirty days from the
commencement of this act, shall be punishable with imprisonment for a
term which may extend to one year, or with fine which may extend to
one thousand rupees, or with both; and, out of the fine, if recovered
payment shall be made to the bonded labourer at the rate of rupees
five for each day during which possession of property was not restored
to him.

20. Abetment to be an offence.-Whoever abets any offence punishable
under this act shall, whether or not the offence abetted is committed,
be punishable with the same punishment as is provided for the offence
which has been abetted.

Explanation.-For the purpose of this act, "abetment" has the meaning
assigned to it in the Indian Penal Code.

21. Offences to be tried by Executive Magistrates.-(1) The State
Government may confer, on an Executive Magistrate the powers of a
Judicial Magistrate of the first class or of the second class for the
trial of offences under this act; and on such conferment of powers,
the Executive Magistrate, on whom the powers are so conferred, shall
be deemed, for the purposes of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (2
of 1974), to be a Judicial Magistrate of the first class, or of the
second class, as the case may be.

22. Cognizance of offences.-Every offence under this act shall be
cognizable and bailable.

23. Offences by companies.-(1) Where an offence under this act has
been committed by a company, every person who, at the time the offence
was committed, was in charge of, and was responsible to, the company
for the conduct of the business of the company, as well as the
company, shall be deemed to be guilty of the offence and shall be
liable to be proceeded against and punished accordingly.

(2) Notwithstanding anything contained in sub-section (1), where any
offence under this act has been committed by a company and it has been
proved that the offence has been committed with the consent or
connivance of, or is attributable to, any neglect on the part of, any
director, manager, secretary or other officer of the company, such
director, manager, secretary or other officer shall be deemed to be
guilty of that offence and shall be liable to be proceeded against and
punished accordingly.

Explanation.-For the purposes of this section,-

(a) "company" means any body corporate and includes a firm or other
association of individuals; and

(b) "director", in relation to a firm, means a partner in the firm.



24. Protection of action taken in good faith.-No suit, prosecution or
other legal proceeding shall lie against any State Government or any
officer of the State Government or any member of the Vigilance
Committee for anything which is in good faith done or intended to be
done under this act.

25. Jurisdiction of Civil Courts barred.-No Civil Court shall have
jurisdiction in respect of any matter to which any provision of this
act applies and no injunction shall be granted by any Civil Court in
respect of anything which is done or intended to be done by or under
this act.

26. Power to make rules.-(1) The Central Government may, by
notification in the official Gazette, make rules for carrying out the
provisions of this act.

(2) In particular, and without prejudice to the foregoing power, such
rules may provide for all or any of the following matters, namely:

(a) the authority to which application for the restoration of
possession of property referred to in sub-section (4), or sub-section
(5) of Sec. 6 is to be submitted in pursuance of sub-section (6) of
that section;

(b) the time within which application for restoration of possession of
property is to be made under sub-section (6) of Sec. 6, to the
prescribed authority;

(c) steps to be taken by Vigilance Committees under Cl. (a) of sub-
section (1) of Sec. 14, to ensure the implementation of the provisions
of this act or of any rule made thereunder;

(d) any other matter which is required to be, or may be prescribed.

(3) Every rule made by the Central Government under this act shall be
laid, as soon as may be after it is made, before each House of
Parliament while it is in session, for a total period of thirty days
which may be comprised in one session or in two or more successive
sessions, and if, before the expiry of the session immediately
following the session or successive sessions aforesaid, both Houses
agree in making any modification in the rule or both Houses agree that
therule should not be made, the rule shall thereafter have effect only
in such modified form or be of no effect, as the case may be; so
however, that any such modification or annulment shall be without
prejudice to the validity of anything previously done under that

(1) The Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Ordinance, 1975 (17 of 1975),
is hereby repealed.

(2) Notwithstanding such repeal, anything or any action taken under
the Ordinance (including any notification published, direction of a
nomination made, power conferred, duty imposed or officer specified)
shall be deemed to have been done or taken under the corresponding
provisions of this act.

APPENDIX C: The Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Rules, 1976

(Published in the Gazette of India, Extraordinary, Part II, Section

February 28, 1976)

In exercise of powers conferred by sub-section (1), read with sub-
section (2) of Sec. 26 of the Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act,
1976 (19 of 1976), the Central Government hereby makes the following
rules, namely:

1. Short title and commencement.-(1) These rules may be called the
Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Rules, 1976.

(2) They shall come into force on the date of their publication in the
official Gazette.

2. Definitions.-In these rules, unless the context otherwise

(a) "Act" means the Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act, 1976 (19 of

(b) "District Vigilance Committee: means a Vigilance Committee
constituted for a district under sub-section (1) of Sec. 13;

(c) "section" means a section of the act;

(d) "Sub-divisional Vigilance Committee" means a Vigilance Committee
constituted for a sub-division under sub-section (1) of Sec. 13.

3. Term of office, and vacation of seat members of District Vigilance
Committees.-(1) Every member of a District Vigilance Committee,
nominated under Cls. (b), (c), (d) and (e) of sub-section (2) of Sec.
13 shall hold office for a period of two years from the date on which
his nomination is notified in the official Gazette and shall, on the
expiry of the said period, continue to hold office until his successor
is nominated and shall also be eligible for re-nomination.

(2) Every member referred to in sub-rule (1), -

(a) may, by giving notice in writing of not less than thirty days to
authority which nominated him, resign his office and, on such
resignation being accepted or on the expiry of the notice period of 30
days, whichever is earlier, shall be deemed to have vacated his

(b) shall be deemed to have vacated his office,-

(I) if he fails to attend three consecutive meetings of the District
Vigilance Committee without obtaining leave of the Chairman of such

Provided that the authority, which nominated him, may, if he is
satisfied that such member was prevented by sufficient cause from
attending the three consecutive meetings of the Committee restore him
to membership;

(ii) if he becomes subject to any of the following disqualifications,

(1) is adjudged insolvent;

(2) is declared to be of unsound mind by a competent court;

(3) is convicted of an offence which, in the opinion of the authority
which nominated him, involves moral turpitude;

(c) may be removed from office, if the authority, which nominated such
member is of the opinion that such member has ceased to represent the
interest to represent which he was nominated:

Provided that a member shall not be removed from office under this
clause unless a reasonable opportunity is given to him for showing
cause against such removal.

(3) A member, nominated to fill a casual vacancy shall gold office for
the unexpired portion of the term of his predecessor.

4. Term of office, and vacation of seat of members of Sub-divisional
Vigilance Committees.-(1) Every member of a Sub-divisional Vigilance
Committee, nominated under Cls. (b), (c), (d) and (e) of sub-section
(2) of Sec. 13 shall hold office for a period of two years from the
date on which his nomination is notified in the official Gazette and
shall, on the expiry of the said period, continue to hold office until
his successor is nominated and shall also be eligible for re-

(2) Every member referred to in sub-rule (1), -

(a) may, by giving notice in writing of not less than thirty days to
authority which nominated him, resign his office and, on such
resignation being accepted or on the expiry of the notice period of 30
days, whichever is earlier, shall be deemed to have vacated his

(b) shall be deemed to have vacated his office,-

(i) if he fails to attend three consecutive meetings of the Sub-
divisional Vigilance Committee without obtaining leave of the Chairman
of such absence:

Provided that the authority, which nominated him, may, if he is
satisfied that such member was prevented by sufficient cause from
attending the three consecutive meetings of the Committee restore him
to membership;

(ii) if he becomes subject to any of the following disqualifications,

(1) is adjudged insolvent;

(2) is declared to be of unsound mind by a competent court;

(3) is convicted of an offence which, in the opinion of the authority
which nominated him, involves moral turpitude;

(c) may be removed from office, if the authority, which nominated such
member is of the opinion that such member has ceased to represent the
interest to represent which he was nominated:

Provided that a member shall not be removed from office under this
clause unless a reasonable opportunity is given to him for showing
cause against such removal.

(3) A member, nominated to fill a casual vacancy shall gold office for
the unexpired portion of the term of his predecessor.

5. Prescribed authority under sub-section (6) of Sec.6.-An application
under sub-section (6) of Sec. 6 for restoration of possession of any
property referred to in sub-section (4) or sub-section (5) of that
section shall be made to the Executive Magistrate, on whom the powers
of a Judicial Magistrate of the first class or of the second class
have been conferred under sub-section (1) of Sec. 21, and within the
local limits of whose jurisdiction the said property is, or the
applicant has reason to believe is, situated at the time of making the

Provided that where there are two Executive Magistrates, on one of
whom the powers of a Judicial Magistrate of the first class and on the
other the powers of a Judicial Magistrate of thesecond class have been
conferred under sub-section (1) of Sec. 21 having jurisdiction to
entertain the application for restoration of possession of property
referred to in sub-rule (1), the application shall be made to the
Executive Magistrate on whom the powers of a Judicial Magistrate of
the second class have been conferred.

6. Time within which an application under sub-section (6) is to be

An application under sub-section (6) of Sec. 6 for restoration of
possession of any property referred to in sub-section (4) or sub-
section (5) of that section shall be made within a period of ninety
days from the date on which these rules come into force.

7. Records to be maintained by District Vigilance Committees to ensure
the implementation of the provisions of the act and rules.-In order to
ensure the implementation of the act and rules, every District
Vigilance Committee shall maintain the following registers in respect
of freed-bonded labourer with the local limits of its jurisdiction,

(a) a register containing the name and address of freed bonded

(b) a register containing the statistics relating to the vacation,
occupation, and income of every freed-bonded labourer;

(c) a register containing the details of the benefits which the freed-
bonded labourers are receiving, including benefits in the form of
land, inputs for agriculture, training in handicrafts and allied
occupations, loans at differential rates, interest of employment in
urban or non-urban areas;

(d) a register containing details of cases under sub-section (6) of
Sec. 6, sub-section (2) of Sec. 8, sub-section (2) of Secs. 9, 16, 17,
18, 19, and 20.

APPENDIX D: The Children (Pedging of Labour) Act, 1933

(Act No. 2 of 1933)

[24th February, 1933]

An act to prohibit the pledging of labour of children

Whereas it is expedient to prohibit the making of agreements to pledge
the labour of children and the employment of children whose labour has
been pledged;

It is hereby enacted as follows:

1. Short title, extent and commencement.-(1) This act may be called
the Children (Pledging of Labour) Act, 1933.

(2) It extends to the whole of India

(3) This section and Secs. 2 and 3 shall come into force at once, and
the remaining sections of this act shall come into force on the first
day of July, 1933.

2. Definitions.- In this act, unless there is anything repugnant in
the subject or context,-

"an agreement to pledge the labour of a child" means in agreement,
written or oral, express or implied, whereby the parent or guardian of
a child, in return for any payment or benefit received by him,
undertakes to cause or allow the services of the child to be utilized
by him, undertakes to cause or allow the services of the child to be
utilized in any employment:

Provided that an agreement made without detriment to a child , and not
made in consideration of any benefit other than reasonable wages to be
paid for the child's services, and terminable at not more than a
week's notice, is not an agreement within the meaning of this

"child" means a person who is under the age of fifteen years; and
"guardian" includes any person having legal custody of or control over
a child.

3. Agreement contrary to the act to be void.-An agreement to pledge
the labour of a child shall be void.

4. Penalty for parent or guardian making agreement to pledge the
labour of a child.-Whoever, being the parent or guardian of a child,
makes an agreement to pledge the labour of that child, shall be
punished with fine which may extend to fifty rupees.

5. Penalty for making with a parent or guardian agreement to pledge
the labour of a child.-Whoever makes with the parent or guardian of a
child shall be punished with fine which may extend to two hundred

6. Penalty for employing a child whose labour has been pledged.-
Whoever, knowing or having reason to believe that an agreement has
been made to pledge the labour of a child, in furtherance of such
agreement employs such child, or permits such child to be employed in
any premises or place under his control, shall be punishable with fine
which may extend to two hundred rupees.

APPENDIX E: The Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986

Number 61 of 1986

[23rd December 1986]

Statement of Objects and Reasons

There are a number of acts which prohibit the employment of children
below 14 years and 15 years in certain specified employments. However,
there is no procedure laid down in any law for deciding in which
employments, occupations or processes the employment of children
should be banned. There is also no law to regulate the working
conditions of children in most of the employments where they are not
prohibited from working and are working under exploitative

2. This Bill intends to-

(i) ban the employment of children, i.e., those who have not completed
their fourteenth year, in specified occupations and processes;

(ii) lay down a procedure to decide modifications to the Schedule of
banned occupations or processes;

(iii) regulate the conditions of work of children in employments where
they are not prohibited from working;

(iv) lay down enhanced penalties for employment of children in
violation of the provisions of this act, and other acts which forbid
the employment of children;

(v) to obtain uniformity in the definition of "child" in the related

3. The Bill seeks to achieve the above objects.

An act to prohibit the engagement of children in certain employments
and to regulate the conditions of work of children in certain other

Be it enacted by Parliament in the Thirty-seventh year of the Republic
of India as follows:



1. Short title, extent and commencement.-(1) The act may be called the
Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986.

(2) It extends to the whole of India.

(3) The provisions of this act, other than part III, shall come into
force at once, and part III shall come into force on such date as the
Central Governmentmay, by notification in the Official Gazette,
appoint, and different dates may be appointed for different states and
for different classes of establishments.

2. Definitions.- In this act, unless the context otherwise requires.

(i) "appropriate Government" means, in relation to an establishment
under the control of the Central Government or a railway
administration or a major port or a mine or oil field, the Central
Government, and in all other cases, the State Government;

(ii) "child" means a person who has not completed his fourteenth year
of age;

(iii) "day" means a period of twenty-four hours beginning at mid-

(iv) "establishment" includes a shop, commercial establishment,
workshop, farm, residential hotel, restaurant, eating house, theatre
or other place of amusement or public entertainment;

(v) "family" in relation to an occupier, means the individual, the
wife or husband, as the case may be, of such individual, and their
children, brother or sister of such individual;

(vi) "occupier", in relation to an establishment or a workshop, means
the person who has the ultimate control over the affairs of the
establishment or workshop;

(vii) "port authority" means any authority administering a port;

(viii) "prescribed" means prescribed by rules made under Section 18;

(ix) "week" means a period of seven days beginning at mid-night on
Saturday night or such other night as may be approved in writing for a
particular area by the inspector;

(x) "workshop" means any premises (including the precincts thereof)
wherein any industrial process is carried on, but does not include any
premises to which the provisions of section 67 of the Factories Act,
1946, for the time being, apply.



3. Prohibition of employment of children in certain occupations and
processes.-No child shall be employed or permitted to work in any of
the occupations set forth in Part A of the Schedule or in any workshop
wherein any of the processes set forth in Part B of the Schedule is
carried on:

Provided that nothing in this section shall apply to any workshop
wherein any process is carried on by the occupier with the aid ofhis
family or to any school established by, or receiving assistance or
recognition from, Government.

4. Power to amend the Schedule.-The Central Government after giving,
by notification in the Official Gazette, not less than three months
notice of its intention so to do, may, be like notification, add any
occupation or process to the Schedule and thereupon the Schedule shall
be deemed to have been amended accordingly.

5. Child Labour Technical Advisory Committee.-(1) The Central
Government may, by notification in the Official Gazette, constitute an
advisory committee to be called the "Child Labour Technical Advisory
Committee" (hereafter in this section referred to as the Committee) to
advise the Central Government for the purpose of addition of
occupations and processes to the Schedule.

(2) The Committee shall consist of a Chairman and such other members
not exceeding ten, as may be appointed by the Central Government.

(3) The Committee shall meet as often as it may consider necessary and
shall have power to regulate its own procedure.

(4) The Committee may, if it deems necessary so to do, constitute one
or more sub-committees, and may appoint any such sub-committee,
whether generally or for the consideration of any particular matter,
any person who is not a member of the Committee.

(5) The term of office of, the manner of filing casual vacancies in
the office of, and the allowances, if any, payable to, the Chairman
and other members of the Committee, and the conditions and
restrictions subject to which the Committee may appoint any person who
is not a member of the Committee as a member of any of its sub-
committees shall be such as may be prescribed.



6. Application of Part.-The provisions of this Part shall apply to an
establishment or a class of establishments in which none of the
occupations or processes referred to in section 3 is carried on.

7. Hours and period of work.-(1) No child shall be required or
permitted to work in any establishment in excess of such number of
hours as may be prescribed for such establishment or class of

(2) The period of work on each day shall be so fixed that no period
shall exceed three hours and that no child shall work for more than
three hours before he has had an interval for rest for at least one

(3) The period of work of a child shall be so arranged that inclusive
of his interval for rest, under sub-section (2), it shall not be
spread over more than six hours, including the time spent in waiting
for work on any day.

(4) No child shall be permitted or required to work between 7 p.m. and
8 a.m.

(5) No child shall be required or permitted to work overtime.

8. Weekly holidays.-Every child employed in an establishment shall be
allowed in each week, a holiday of one whole day, which day shall be
specified by the occupier in a notice permanently exhibited in a
conspicuous place in the establishment and the day so specified shall
not be altered by the occupier more than once in three months.

9. Notice to Inspector.-(1) Every occupier in relation to an
establishment in which a child was employed or permitted to work
immediately before the date of commencement of this act in relation to
such establishment shall, within a period of thirty days from such
commencement, send to the Inspector within whose local limits the
establishment is situated, a written notice containing the following
particulars, namely:-

(a) the name and situation of the establishment;

(b) the name of the person in actual management of the establishment;

(c) the address to which communications relating to the establishment
should be sent; and

(d) the nature of the occupation or process carried on in the

(2) Every occupier, in relation to an establishment, who employs, or
permits to work, any child after the date of commencement of this act
in relation t such establishment, shall, within a period of thirty
days from the date of such employment, send to the Inspector within
whose local limits the establishment is situated, a written notice
containing the particulars as are mentioned in sub-section (1).

Explanation.-For the purposes of sub-sections (1) and (2), "date of
commencement of this act, in relation to an establishment" means the
date of bringing into force of this act in relation to such

(3) Nothing in sections 7, 8 and 9 shall apply to any establishment
wherein any process is carried on by the occupier with the aid of his
family or to any school established by, or receiving assistance or
recognition from, Government.

10. Disputes as to age.-If any question arises between an Inspector
and an occupier as to the age of any child who is employed or is
permitted to work byhim in an establishment, the question shall, in
the absence of a certificate as to the age of such child granted by
the prescribed medical authority, be referred by the Inspector for
decision to the prescribed medical authority.

11. Maintenance of register.-There shall be maintained by every
occupier in respect of children employed or permitted to work in any
establishment, a register to be available for inspection by an
Inspector at all times during working hours or when work is being
carried on in any such establishment, showing-

(a) the name and date of birth of every child so employed or permitted
to work;

(b) hours and periods of work of any such child and the intervals of
rest to which he is entitled;

(c) the nature of work of any such child; and

(d) such other particulars as may be prescribed.

12. Display of notice containing abstracts of sections 3 and 14.-Every
railway administration, every port authority and every occupier shall
cause to be displayed in a conspicuous and accessible place at every
station on its railway or within the limits of a port or at the place
of work, as the case may be, a notice in the local language and in the
English language containing an abstract of sections 3 and 14.

13. Health and safety.-(1) The appropriate Government may, by
notification in the Official Gazette, make rules for the health and
safety of the children employed or permitted to work in any
establishment or class of establishments.

(2) Without prejudice to the generality of the foregoing provisions,
the said rules may provide for all or any of the following matters,

(a) cleanliness in the place of work and its freedom from nuisance;

(b) disposal of wastes and effluents;

(c) ventilation and temperature;

(e) artificial humidification;

(f) lighting;

(g) drinking water;

(h) latrine and urinals;

(i) spittoons;

(j) fencing of machinery;

(k) work at or near machinery in motion;

(l) employment of children on dangerous machines;

(m) instructions, training and supervision in relation to employment
of children on dangerous machines;

(n) device for cutting off power;

(o) self-acting machines;

(p) easing of new machinery;

(q) floor, stairs and means of access;

(r) pits, sumps, openings in floors, etc.;

(s) excessive weights;

(t) protection of eyes;

(u) explosive or inflammable dust, gas, etc.;

(v) precautions in case of fire;

(w) maintenance of buildings; and

(x) safety of buildings; and machinery.



14. Penalties.-(1) Whoever employs any child or permits any child to
work in contravention of the provisions of section 3 shall be
punishable with imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than
three months but which may extend to one year or with fine which shall
not be less than ten thousand rupees but which may extend to twenty
thousand rupees or with both.

(2) Whoever, having been convicted of an offence under section 3,
commits a like offence, afterwards, he shall be punishable with
imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than six months but
which may extend to two years.

(3) Whoever-

(a) fails to give notice as required by section 9; or

(b) fails to maintain a register as required by section 11 or makes
any false entry in any such register; or

(c) fails to display a notice containing an abstract of section 3 and
this section as required by section 12; or

(d) fails to comply with or contravenes any other provisions of this
act or the rules made thereunder, shall be punishable with simple
imprisonment which may extend to one month or with fine which may
extend to ten thousand rupees or with both.

15. Modified application of certain laws in relation to penalties.-(1)
Where any person is found guilty and convicted of contravention of any
of the provisions mentioned in sub-section (2), he shall be liable to
penalties as providedin sub-sections (1) and (2) of section 14 of this
act and not under the acts in which these provisions are contained.

(2) The provisions referred to in sub-section (1) are the provisions
mentioned below:-

(a) section 67 of the Factories Act, 1948 (63 of 1948);

(b) section 40 of the Mines Act, 1952 (35 of 1952);

(c) section 109 of the Merchant Shipping Act, 1958 (44 of 1958); and

(d) section 21 of the Motor Transport Workers Act, 1961 (27 of 1961).

16. Procedure relating to offences.-(1) Any person, police officer or
Inspector may file a complaint of the commission of an offence under
this act in any court of competent jurisdiction.

(2) Every certificate of as to the age of a child which has been
granted by a prescribed medical authority shall, for the purposes of
this act, be conclusive evidence as to the age of the child to whom it

(3) No court inferior to that of a Metropolitan Magistrate or a
Magistrate of the first class shall try any offence under this act.

17. Appointment of Inspectors.-The appropriate Government may appoint
Inspectors for the purposes of securing compliance with the provisions
of this act and any Inspector so appointed shall be deemed to be a
public servant within the meaning of the Indian Penal Code (45 of

18. Power to make rules-(1) The appropriate Government may, by
notification in the Official Gazette and subject to the condition of
previous publication, make rules for carrying into effect the
provisions of The act.

(2) In particular and without prejudice to the generality of the
foregoing power, such rules may provide for all or any of the
following matters, namely:-

(a) the term of office of, the manner of filing casual vacancies of,
and the allowances payable to, the Chairman and member of the Child
Labour Technical Advisory Committee and the conditions and
restrictions subject to which a non-member may be appointed to a sub-
committee under sub-section (5) of section 5;

(b) number of hours for which a child may be required or permitted to
work under sub-section (1) of section 7;

(c) Grant of certificates of age in respect of young persons in
employment or seeking employment, the medical authorities which may
issue such certificate, the form of such certificate, thecharges which
may be thereunder and the manner in which such certificate may be

Provided that no charge shall be made for the issue of any such
certificate if the application is accompanied by evidence of age
deemed satisfactory by the authority concerned;

(d) the other particulars which a register maintained under section 11
should contain.

19. Rules and notifications to be laid before Parliament or State
legislature.-(1) Every rule made under this act by the Central
Government and every notification issued under section 4, shall be
laid, as soon as may be after it is made or issued, before each House
of Parliament, while it is in session for a total period of thirty
days which may be comprised in one session or in two or more
successive sessions, and if, before the expiry of the session
immediately following the session or the successive sessions
aforesaid, both Houses agree that the rule or notification should not
be made or issued, the rule or notification shall thereafter have
effect only in such modified form or be of no effect, as the case may
be; so, however, that any such modification or annulment shall be
without prejudice to the validity of anything previously done under
that rule or notification.

(2) Every rule made by a State Government under this act shall be laid
as soon as may be after it is made, before the legislature of that

20. Certain other provisions of law not barred.-Subject to the
provisions contained in section 15, the provisions of this act and the
rules made thereunder shall be in addition to, and not in derogation
of, the provisions of the Factories Act, 1948 (63 of 1948), the
Plantations Labour Act, 1951 (69 of 1951), and the Mines Act, 1952 (35
of 1952).

21. Power to remove difficulties.-(1) If any difficulty arises in
giving effect to the provisions of this act, the Central Government
may, by order published in the Official Gazette, make such provisions
not inconsistent with the provisions of this act as appear to it to be
necessary or expedient for removal of the difficulty:

Provided that no such order shall be made after the expiry of a period
of three years from the date on which this act receives the assent of
the President.

(2) Every order made under this section shall, as soon as may be after
it is made, be laid before the Houses of Parliament.

22. Repeal and savings.-The Employment of Children, Act, 1938 (26 of
1938) is hereby repealed.

(2) Notwithstanding such repeal, anything done or any action taken or
purported to have been done or taken under the act so repealed shall,
in so far as it is not inconsistent with the provisions of this act,
be deemed to have been done or taken under the corresponding
provisions of this act.

23. Amendment of Act 11 of 1948.-In section 2 of the Minimum Wages
Act, 1948,-

(i) for clause (a), the following clauses shall be substituted,

(a) "adolescent" means a person who has completed his fourteenth year
of age but has not completed his eighteenth year;

(aa) "adult" means a person who has completed his eighteenth year of

(ii) after clause (b), the following clause shall be inserted,

(bb) "child" means a person who has not completed his fourteenth year
of age;

24. Amendment of Act 69 of 1951.-In the Plantations Labour Act,

(a) In section 2, in clauses (a) and (c), for the word "fifteenth",
the word "fourteenth" shall be substituted;

(b) section 24 shall be omitted;

(c) in section 26, in the opening portion, the words "who has
completed his twelfth year" shall be omitted.

25. Amendment of Act 44 of 1958.-In the Merchant Shipping Act, 1958,
in section 109, for the word "fifteen", the word "fourteen" shall be

26. Amendment of Act 27 of 1961.-In the Motor Transport Workers Act,
1961, in section 2, in clauses (a) and (c), for the word "fifteenth",
the word "fourteenth" shall be substituted.


(See section 3)


Occupations.-Any occupation connected with -

(1) Transport of passengers, goods or mails by railway;

(2) Cinder picking, clearing of an ash pit or building operation in
the railway premises;

(3) Work in a catering establishment at a railway station, involving
the movement of a vendor or any other employee of the establishment
from one platform to another or into or out of a moving train;

(4) Work relating to the construction of a railway station or with any
other work where such work is done in close proximity or between the
railway lines;

(5) A port authority within the limits of any port.

(6) Work relating to selling of crackers and fireworks.*

(7) Abattoirs/Slaughter houses.**


(1) Beedi-making.

(2) Carpet-weaving.

(3) Cement manufacture, including bagging of cement.

(4) Cloth printing, dyeing and weaving.

(5) Manufacture of matches, explosives and fireworks.

(6) Mica-cutting and splitting.

(7) Shellac manufacture.

(8) Soap manufacture.

(9) Tanning.

(10) Wool-cleaning.

(11) Building and construction industry.

(12) Manufacture of slate pencils (including packing)*

(13) Manufacture of products from agate.*

(14) Manufacturing processes using toxic metals and substances such as
lead, mercury, manganese, chromium, cadmium, benzene, pesticides and

(15) "Hazardous processes" as defined in section 2(cb) and `dangerous
operations' as notified in rules made under section 87 of the
Factories Act, 1948 (63 of 1948).**

(16) Printing as defined in section 2(k) (iv) of the Factories Act,
1948 (63 of 1948).**

(17) Cashew and cashewnut desaling and processing.**

(18) Soldering processes in electronic industries.**

*Inserted by notification No. SO. 404 (E) dated 5th June, 1989
published in the Gazette of India, Extraordinary.

**Inserted by notification No. SO.263 (E) dated 29th March, 1994
published in Gazette of India, Extraordinary.

1 All names have been changed.

2 All dollar amounts refer to U.S. dollars.

3 The estimate of fifteen million bonded child laborers is
conservative. Anti-Slavery International reported in 1991 that India
had fifteen million bonded child laborers working in agriculture
alone. Anti-Slavery International, Children in Bondage: Slaves of the
Subcontinent (London: 1991), p. 30. Given that agriculture accounts
for approximately 52 to 87 percent of all bonded child laborers (see
chapter on agriculture), there could be millions more working in non-
agricultural occupations. "Indians form panel to stop child labor,"
United Press International, November 18, 1994. Other activists and
academics estimate that one quarter of all working children, that is,
between fifteen and twenty-nine million, are bonded laborers. Based on
these and other coinciding estimates, Human Rights Watch considers
fifteen million to be a reliable minimum indicator of the prevalence
of bonded child labor in India.

4 The United Nations Supplementary Convention on the Abolition of
Slavery, the Slave Trade, and Institutions and Practices Similar to
Slavery, 1956, defines debt bondage as "the status or condition
arising from a pledge by a debtor of his personal services or those of
a person under his control as security for a debt, if the value of
those services as reasonably assessed is not applied towards the
liquidation of the debt or the length and nature of those services are
not respectively limited and defined." It should be noted that many
Indian activists consider all child labor to be a form of bondage,
given the child's powerlessness and inability to freely choose to
work. This report, however, considers bonded child labor to be that
which conforms to the definition of the U.N. Supplementary

5 Between $15 and $220, at the late 1995 exchange rate of thirty-four
rupees to the U.S. dollar.

6 Iqbal Masih was shot and killed on April 16, 1995. Initially blamed
on the carpet industrialists of Pakistan, the murder was later
attributed to a villager whom Masih reportedly discovered involved in
an illicit act.

7 See chapter on handwoven carpets.

8 Neera Burra, Born to Work: Child Labour in India (New Delhi: Oxford
University Press, 1995), p. xxii.

9 Ministry of Labour, Annual Report 1994-95 (New Delhi: Government of
India, 1995), p. 95. The actual quote is: "Out of India's total
workforce of 314 million, about 80% (249 million) are in rural areas.
About 64% of the workers (200 million) are engaged in agriculture.
About 85% of the workers (267 million) are self-employed or on casual
wages. Only about 15% (47 million) have regular salaried employment."

10 Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986, Part I,
Section 2(ii).

11 There is no universal definition of a child under Indian law. The
Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986, the Minimum Wages
Act, 1948, the Plantation Labour Act, 1951, the Apprentices Act, 1961,
and Article 24 of the Indian Constitution define "child" as any person
under the age of fourteen. The Shops and Establishments Act, 1961
allows the definition to be set by the states and in thirteen states,
the minimum age is twelve, and in eleven states, the minimum age is
fourteen. The Children (Pledging of Labour) Act, 1993 defines a child
as anyone below the age of fifteen. The Juvenile Justice Act, 1986
defines "juveniles" as any male under sixteen or any female under

12 Bonded child labor is convenient, cheap, compliant, and dependable.
It depresses wages. It is easily replenishable. Bonded labor among
both adults and children is not a new phenomenon in India. It is an
old arrangement, and a convenient one for the lucky top layers of
privilege. Those who have the power to change this arrangement are, by
all measures, uninterested in doing so.

13 United Front Coalition's Economic Program, presented June 6, 1996,
pp. 3-4. From MakroIndia Business Page sponsored by Amrok Securities
Private Limited at www.macroindia.com/hlight1.htm.

14 See Human Rights Watch/Asia, Contemporary Forms of Slavery in
Pakistan (New York: Human Rights Watch, July 1995); Anti-Slavery
International, Children in Bondage: Slaves of the Subcontinent
(London: Anti-Slavery International, 1991); INSEC, Bonded Labour in
Nepal under Kamaiya System (Kathmandu: INSEC, 1992); and Report of the
Working Group on Contemporary Forms of Slavery (18th Session, June
1993), UN DOC E/CN.4/1993/67.

15 Asia Watch and Human Rights Watch Women's Rights Project, A Modern
Form of Slavery: Trafficking of Women and Girls into Brothels in
Thailand (New York: Human Rights Watch, 1993); Americas Watch, "Forced
Labor in Brazil Revisited," vol. 5, no. 12, November, 1993; Middle
East Watch and Human Rights Watch Women's Rights Project, "Rape and
Mistreatment of Asian Maids in Kuwait," vol. 4, no. 8, July 1992;
Americas Watch, The Struggle for Land in Brazil: Rural Violence
Continues (New York: Human Rights Watch, 1992); Americas Watch,
"Forced Labor in Brazil," vol. 2, no. 8, December 1990; and National
Coalition for Haitian Refugees, Americas Watch, and Caribbean Rights,
Harvesting Oppression: Forced Haitian Labor in the Dominican Sugar
Industry (New York: Human Rights Watch, 1990).

16 Human Rights Watch/Asia, Rape for Profit: Trafficking of Nepali
Girls and Women to India's Brothels (New York: Human Rights Watch,
June 1995).

17 All dollar amounts in this report are in U.S. dollars.

18 Pradeep Mehta, "Cashing in on Child Labor," Multinational Monitor,
April 1994.

19 Ministry of Labour, Annual Report 1994-95, p. 95.

20 K. Mahajan and J. Gathia, Child Labour: An Analytical Study (New
Delhi: Centre of Concern for Child Labour, 1992), p. 25. Citing the
Indian Council for Child Welfare, Mahajan and Gathia report that
"slavery is on the increase among children below the age of 15 years."
Gathia also notes, in another study, that the number of children in
India who will not be in school by 2000 may be as high as 144 million,
indicating there may be tens of millions more child laborers in India
by 2000. (See: Child Labour Action Network (CLAN), Political Campaign
for Compulsory Primary Education (New Delhi: Child Labour Action
Network, 1996), p. 2.

21 Commission on Labour Standards and International Trade, Child
Labour in India: A Perspective, June 10, 1995, p. 32.

22 In 1984, the Operations Research Group-Baroda, an independent
research organization based in Baroda and Madras, estimated there were
forty-four million child laborers in India. Taking into account
population growth and employment trends, that figure would be
approximately sixty million in 1995. Another frequently cited figure
is one hundred million child laborers, a number that corresponds to
the government's estimate of all non-school-going children, who are
assumed to be working more than eight hours a day. Peace Trust and
Bhagwati Environment Development Institute, From the South, vol. 2,
no. 1, January-March 1995, p. 1. Anti-Slavery International confirmed
this estimate of 115 million in a telephone interview on August 14,
1996. Official government figures on the working child population, on
the other hand, are based on the 1981 census and are absurdly
inaccurate, with the government claiming there are only about
seventeen million child laborers. (See chapter on the role of the
Indian government.) A 1994 report by the Indian government's
Department of Women and Child Development, the Indian Council for
Child Welfare, and UNICEF-India concluded that "the number of working
children is closer to 90 million than the figure of 20 million assumed
by the government." Department of Women and Child Development, Indian
Council for Child Welfare, and UNICEF, India Country Office, "Rights
of the Child: Report of a National Consultation," November 21-23,

23 There are no accurate statistics that give the number of street
children in India. In 1983, the Operations Research Group stated that
there were forty-four million working children in India of which
eleven million were street children. This number must be considered
significantly low, given the fact that the study is now thirteen years
old. The government of India's 1991 Census estimated that eighteen
million children live and work in India's urban slums (huts,
tenements, pavement dwellings), which by the nature of their residence
and the fact that they were considered working, qualified them as
street children. The estimated population of India's street children
is between eleven to eighteen million, based on the Operations
Research Group's 1983 estimate and the 1991 Census estimate.

24 Peace Trust and Bhagwati Environment Development Institute, From
the South, Vo. 2, No. 1, January-March 1995, p. 1.

25 At a non-formal education center run during the evenings (as are
most, to accommodate the work schedules of the children), Human Rights
Watch asked one group of working children what they did for fun. The
boys perked up and rattled off a variety of activities: playing with
friends, going to the movies, riding a bicycle. The girls, however,
were puzzled by the question. Finally a teacher stepped in to explain:
the girls do not have the opportunity to do anything for fun; when
they are not working for wages or against a loan, they are working for
the family.

26 Mahajan and Gathia, Child Labour..., September, 1992, p. 24.

27 Human Rights Watch interview with social activist, November 21,
1995, Madras, Tamil Nadu. Advances in the beedi industry of Tamil Nadu
range from 500 to 5,000 rupees. These figures were confirmed by Human
Rights Watch interviews with dozens of bonded child beedi rollers.

28 There are an estimated 327,000 child workers in the beedi industry
(Burra, Born to Work p. xxiv); 300,000 child carpet weavers (Mehta.,
"Cashing in on Child Labor..."); and more than 200,000 children
working in silk weaving (see chapter on silk for details and

29 According to a 1991 study of child labor in India, these training
centers include "many [children] well below age fourteen." The manager
of one government program claimed that a ban on child labor in the
carpet industry would be "suicidal" for exports. See Myron Weiner, The
Child and the State in India (New Delhi: Oxford University Press,
1991), p. 86

30 Tanika Sarkar, "Bondage in the Colonial Context," Patnaik and
Manjari Dingwaney, eds., Chains of Servitude: Bondage and Slavery in
India (New Delhi: Sangam Books, 1985), p. 97.

31 See generally Uma Chakravarti, "Of Dasas and Karmakaras: Servile
Labour in Ancient India," Chains of Servitude . . .

32 Manjari Dingwaney, "Unredeemed Promises: The Law and Servitude,"
Chains of Servitude . . ., pp. 312-313.

33 For example: "The children were frequently beaten with iron
rods . . . and wounded with scissors . . ., if they were slow in work,
or if they asked for adequate food, or if they so much as went to the
toilet without the owner's permission." Appendix XV, "Reports on Child
Labour of Mirzapur," Law Relating to the Employment of Children
(1985), p. 160. Another report detailed a woman's attempt to rescue
her youngest son after his brother died on the job in a carpet-weaving
factory; the employer of her son threatened to kill the boy if she
attempted to meet him. "Bonded labourers' mothers want to see PM,"
Times of India, August 14, 1995.

34 Y. R. Haragopal Reddy, Bonded Labour System in India (New Delhi:
Deep and Deep Publications, 1995), p. 82. Similar incidents took place
across India in the mid-1980s. See, e.g., Ajoy Kumar, "From Slavery to
Freedom: The Tale of Chattisgarh Bonded Labourers," Indian Social
Institute, 1986, p. 8, reporting that bonded agricultural laborers who
attended meetings with labor activists were publicly beaten and driven
from their homes.

35 Human Rights Watch interview with rural activist, Dec. 13, 1995,

36 R. K Misra., Preliminary Report on the Child Labour in the Saree
Industry of Varanasi, Human Rights Cell, Banaras Hindu University,
Varanasi, 1995, p. 13.

37 Convention on the Suppression of Slave Trade and Slavery, signed at
Geneva, September 25, 1926; Protocol Amended the Slavery Convention,
signed at Geneva, September 25, 1926, with annex, done at, New York,
December 7, 1953, entered into force, December 7, 1953. A slave is
someone "over whom any or all of the powers attaching to the right of
ownership are exercised." Supplementary Convention on the Abolition of
Slavery, the Slave Trade, and Institutions and Practices Similar to
Slavery, done at Geneva, September 7, 1956; entered into force, April
30, 1957 (Supplementary Convention).

38 Supplementary Convention on the Abolition of Slavery.

39 Ibid.

40 Forced Labour Convention (No. 29), 1930, adopted at Geneva, June
28, 1930, as modified by the Final Articles Revision Convention,
adopted at Montreal, October 9, 1946.

41 International Labour Organisation, Conventions and Recommendations
1919-1966 (Geneva: ILO, 1966), p. 891. The ILO also passed the
Abolition of Forced Labour Convention (No. 105) in 1957; India,
however, chose not to sign this convention.

42 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, G.A. Res.
2200 (XXI), 21 U.N. GAOR Supp. (No. 16), U.N. Doc. A/6316 (1966)
(entered into force March 23, 1976).

43 International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights,
G.A. Res. 2200 (XXI), 21 U.N. GAOR Supp. (No. 16), U.N. Doc. A/6316
(entered into force January 3, 1976).

44 Convention on the Rights of the Child, G.A. Res. 44/125, U.N. GAOR,
44th Session, Supp. No. 49, U.N. Doc. A/44/736 (1989) (entered into
force September 2, 1990).

45 Ibid. India ratified the Convention subject to a reservation that
these economic and social rights will be "progressively implemented,"
"subject to the extent of available resources."

46 Ibid.

47 See chapter on carpets; see also Human Rights Watch/Asia, Rape for
Profit: Trafficking of Nepali Girls and Women to India's Brothels
(Human Rights Watch: New York, 1995).

48 Convention on the Rights of the Child, G.A. Res. 44/125, U.N. GAOR,
44th Session, Supp. No. 49, U.N. Doc. A/44/736 (1989) (entered into
force September 2, 1990).

49 See S. K. Singh, Bonded Labour and the Law (New Delhi: Deep and
Deep Publications, 1994), pp. 48-51.

50 People's Union for Democratic Rights v. Union of India [Asiad
Workers' Case], AIR 1982 S.C. 1473, paragraph 1486.

51 Ibid., paragraph 1490. For a discussion of Supreme Court decisions
affecting bonded labourers, see Y. R. Haragopal Reddy, Bonded Labour
System in India (New Delhi: Deep and Deep Publications, 1995), ch. 4.

52 People's Union for Democratic Rights v. Union of India, (1982) 3
SCC 235, paragraphs 259-260.

53 Neeraja Chaudhary v. State of Madhya Pradesh, 3 SCC 243, paragraph
255 (1984).

54 "No child below the age of fourteen years shall be employed to work
in any factory or mine or engaged in any other hazardous employment."
Constitution of India, Article 24.

55 Consequently, post-act social action litigation on behalf of bonded
laborers is brought under both the Bonded Labour System (Abolition)
Act and the Constitution of India. For a discussion of cases see
Reddy, Bonded Labour System in India, ch. 4.

56 The Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act, 1976, Sec. 4, 5, 6, and
14. See Appendix for full text.

57 Ibid., Sec. 16. The maximum penalties for a first-time offender
under the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act are weaker
than the Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act in terms of potential
length of incarceration (one year), but significantly stronger in
terms of monetary punishment (ten to twenty thousand rupees). See the
Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, Sec. 14 (1).

58 Ibid., Sec. 2(1)(I)(a) and (b). Because no minimum wages have been
set by the government for children's work, the second prong of this
definition applies. See also People's Union for Democratic Rights v.
Union of India, (1982) 3 SCC 235, paragraphs 259-260, in which the
Supreme Court ruled that "where a person provides labour or service to
another for remuneration which is less than minimum wage, the labour
or service provided by him clearly falls within the scope and ambit of
the word `forced labour'..." All forms of forced labor are forbidden
under the Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act.

59 "It shall be the duty of every District Magistrate and every
officer specified by him under Sec. 10 to inquire whether after the
commencement of this act, any bonded labour system or any other form
of forced labour is being enforced by, or on behalf of, any person
resident within the local limits of his jurisdiction and if, as a
result of such inquiry, any person is found to be enforcing the bonded
labour system or any other system of forced labour, he shall forthwith
take such action as may be necessary to eradicate the enforcement of
such forced labour." Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act, 1976, Sec.

60 Human Rights Watch interview with Mirzapur District Collector Mr.
Bachittar Singh, December 19, 1995, Mirzapur. A 1994 study describing
the multifarious duties of district magistrates notes that "[n]o
district magistrate can properly perform all the assignments given to
him." See also S. K. Singh, Bonded Labour and the Law, p. 124-125,
142, 147.

61 Ibid., Sec. 11 requires the district magistrate to "as far as
practicable, try to promote the welfare of the freed bonded labourer
by securing and protecting the economic interest of such bonded
labourer so that he may not have any occasion or reason to contract
any further bonded debt."

62 Ibid., Sec. 14.

63 Reddy, Bonded Labour System in India, p. 163.

64 Ibid., citing, inter alia, Lr. No. Y-11011/4/84-BL, dated February
14, 1986, Director General (Labour Welfare), Ministry of Labour,
Government of India.

65 Ibid., p.166.

66 Ministry of Labour, Annual Report 1994-1995, p.97.

67 The Children (Pledging of Labour) Act, 1933, Sec. 2. "Child" is a
person less than fifteen years old.

68 Ibid., Sec. 4 - 6.

69 Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986, Part I,
Section 2(ii).

70 The twenty-five occupations and industries where child labor is
prohibited are: beedi-making; carpet-weaving; cement manufacture;
cloth printing, dyeing and weaving; manufacture of matches, explosives
and fireworks; mica-cutting and splitting; shellac manufacture; soap
manufacture; tanning; wool-cleaning; the building and construction
industry; manufacture of slate pencils; manufacture of agate products;
manufacturing processes using toxic metals and substances; "hazardous
processes" as defined by the Factories Act, Sec. 87; printing as
defined by the Factories Act, Sec. 2; cashew and cashewnut processing;
soldering processes in electronic industries, railway transportation;
cinder picking, ashpit clearing or building operations in railway
premises; vending operations at railway stations; work on ports; sale
of firecracker and fireworks; and work in slaughter houses. Child
Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986, Part II (Prohibition of
employment of children in certain occupations and processes), Sec. 3,
Schedules A and B; as amended by Government Notification Nos. No.SO
404(E) (June 5, 1989) and No. SO. 263(E) (March 29, 1994).

71 Myron Weiner, The Child and the State in India (New Delhi: Oxford
University Press, 1991), pp. 80-81.

72 Commission on Labour Standards and International Trade, Child
Labour in India..., p. 40.

73 Ibid.

74 The prevalence of corruption among factory and labor inspectors and
other charged with enforcing child labor laws was confirmed to Human
Rights Watch by multiple sources, including an official of the
national government. See also Commission on Labour Standards, Child
Labour in India... , p. 40.

75 The Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986, Sec. 3.

76 See chapter on handwoven carpets.

77 Ibid., Sec. 10.

78 According to R. V. Pillai, the Secretary General of the National
Human Rights Commission (NHRC), there is frequent collusion between
medical officers of the government and employers of child labor, who
bribe the medical officers in order to obtain certificates stating the
children working for them are above the age of fourteen. Secretary
General Pillai stated that some medical officers are "notorious" for
engaging in these acts, to the extent that the NHRC has recommended to
some district magistrates that they file criminal charges against
corrupt medical officers. Human Rights Watch interview with Secretary
General Pillai, December 28, 1995, New Delhi.

79 "No child who has not completed his fourteenth year shall be
required or allowed to work in any factory." The Factories Act, 1948,
Sec. 67.

80 Ibid., Sec. 2(m)(I) and (ii).

81 To get around this restriction, factory owners have been known to
"partition their premises and isolate the areas where work is being
done with power." See Burra, Born to Work, p. 75.

82 According to Burra: "In order to evade the Factories Act, ninety
per cent of the units show that they have less than nine workers. In
some factories I visited, I noticed around fifty workers. But when I
asked the employer, he said there were only eight people working
there!" Ibid., p. 136.

83 The Scheduled Castes and The Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of
Atrocities) Act, 1989, Section 3(1).

84 The Inter-State Migrant Workmen (Regulation of Employment and
Conditions of Service) Act, 1979, ch. II - ch. VI.

85 The Contract Labour (Regulation and Abolition) Act, 1970, Sec. 6,
10, and 64.

86 Campaign Against Child Labour (CACL), "Reference Kit on Child
Labour for Media Persons," January 1995.

87 All testimonies in this report are from children interviewed by
Human Rights Watch researchers in November and December, 1995, except
where otherwise noted. All names have been changed.

88 "50,000 cr beedies consumed annually," Indian Express, February 1,
1995. One crore, abbreviated as "cr," is equal to ten million.

89 Ibid.

90 Burra, Born to Work, p. xxiv. Another account estimates 248,000
child beedi workers in Tamil Nadu. See R. Vidyasagar,"A Status Report
on Child Labour in Tamil Nadu," Madras, 1995, p. 8.

91 "Children shall be free," The Hindu, September 24, 1995; "50,000 cr
beedies consumed annually," Indian Express, February 1, 1995.

92 "Ragi" is a type of grain, commonly given to South Indian
agricultural laborers instead of cash wages. See R. Vidyasagar, "Debt
Bondage in South Arcot District: A Case Study of Agricultural
Labourers and Handloom Weavers," Chains of Servitude, p. 146.

93 L. R. Jagadheesan, "Whole families are pledged for paltry sums,"
Indian Express, April 25, 1995.

94 The minimum wage for beedi rolling varies from state to state. The
wage is slightly lower in Karnataka than in Tamil Nadu, while in the
neighboring state of Kerala it is significantly higher, at forty-two
rupees per thousand beedi rolled. "50,000 cr beedies consumed
annually," Indian Express, February 1, 1995. The minimum wage does not
apply to children, but is a good indicator of the market value of
labor, and non-bonded children in the beedi industry appeared to be
receiving wages comparable to the government-set minimum wage. Many
activists and some government officials are pressing for legal reform
to apply the same minimum wage to adults and children, on the grounds
that such a move would decrease child labor and increase adult

95 This wage is actually 3.65 rupees more than the government set
minimum wage for beedi rolling (30.90 rupees per 1,000 beedies).
Regardless of whether adults or children roll beedies, they are paid
the same on a piece-rate basis. The only wage differentials
occurbetween bonded and non-bonded beedi rollers. This indicates that
there would be no significant difference between adult and child wages
when bondage is not a factor or when payment is solely based on
production (piece-rate) which is a very common way of paying people in
informal occupations where the majority of Indians, children and
adults, work. There are other examples of this. For example, in
stainless steel factories in Madras, adults and children receive the
same piece-rate wages. In Pakistan, where bonded labor is also
endemic, adults and children have been paid on the same piece-rate
basis in the country's soccer ball industry. These findings call into
question a commonly held tenet about child labor: that children's
wages depress adult wages in the same industry and that removing
children from work would automatically lead to an increase in adult
wages. In addition, Neera Burra notes that the piece-rate wage
structure in home-based, informal work actually provides an incentive
to use children, as their help increases the production, which in-turn
provides a higher family income, and says "Unless the issue of home-
based, piece-rate workers is resolved and minimum wages and social
security provided to this sector, children will continue to be
exploited." See Burra, Born to Work, p. 255. Removing children from
employment would not necessarily result in raising adult wages unless
the problems of piece-rate wages and other forms of payment based
solely on productivity are addressed as well.

96 Human Rights Watch interview with longtime social welfare activist,
November 21, 1995, Madras.

97 Jacob Varghese, "Freedom at Mid-Day," Worldvision: A Worldvision of
India Magazine, Monsoon 1993, p. 6-7.

98 National Children's Day in India is celebrated on November 14, the
birthday of Jawaharlal Nehru, one of the founding fathers and the
first prime minister of India.

99 Human Rights Watch interview with social welfare activist, November
21, 1995, Madras.

100 Ibid.

101 Vidyasagar,"A Status Report...," p. 9.

102 Ibid. Vidyasagar cites a study of one beedi manufacturing village
that found 25 percent of all beedi rollers to have tuberculosis.

103 Human Rights Watch interviews, North Arcot district, Tamil Nadu,
November 25, 1995.

104 Beedi and Cigar Workers (Conditions of Employment) Act, 1966, Sec.

105 Asha Krishnakumar, "Reprehensible by any name: Children in beedi
industry," Frontline (Madras), November 17, 1995, p. 87.

106 Vidyasagar, "Status Report...," p. 8.

107 Local government authorities estimate there are 45,000 bonded
child laborers in the North Arcot district alone, most working in the
beedi industry. "Child Labour Abolition Support Scheme (A proposal
submitted to the International Labour Organisation)," North Arcot
Ambedkar District, 1995, p. 1. An estimated 30,000 bonded children
work in the beedi industry in North Arcot. See Vidyasagar, "A Status
Report...," p. 8. Unlike most beedi-producing areas, where 90 percent
of the workers are women and children, North Arcot district has a
significant percentage of adult male beedi workers. Vidyasagar
attributes the high rate of bondage in North Arcot to the presence of
men workers in the same industry, hypothesizing that "men use
children's labour to augment their income by keeping them under
bondage by paying low wages." Ibid.

108 "Child labour census in Tamil Nadu district," The Hindu, April 28,

109 "Child Labour Abolition Support Scheme (A proposal submitted to
the International Labour Organisation)," North Arcot Ambedkar
District, 1995, p. 8.

110 Ibid. pp. 1, 8-12, and 25.

111 Human Rights Watch interview with North Arcot District Collector
M. P. Vijaykumar, November 27, 1995, Vellore, Tamil Nadu.

112 Depending on the circumstances of the case, a bondmaster could be
charged under the Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act, the Child
Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, or the Factories Act. As of
1995, the collector had initiated a limited number of prosecutions
under all three laws, including a handful of cases against parents who
had bonded their children. Human Rights Watch interview with North
Arcot District Collector M. P. Vijaykumar, November 27, 1995, Vellore,
Tamil Nadu; "Project Proposal for Community-Based Convergent
Services," North Arcot Ambedkar District, June, 1995, p. 15 Most
activists agree that prosecution of parents is misguided. Among
prosecuted employers, as of December 1995 the collector had not aimed
for prison sentences, but instead sought only modest fines.

113 North Arcot Ambedkar District, "Child Labour Abolition Support
Scheme (CLASS)," Proposal submitted to International Labour
Organisation, 1995, p. 10.

114 Reddy, Bonded Labour System in India, p. 56.

115 Human Rights Watch interview with North Arcot District Collector
M. P. Vijaykumar, November 27, 1995, Vellore, Tamil Nadu.

116 Vidyasagar, "A Status Report ...," p.9.

117 The "silver" referred to throughout this discussion is not pure
silver, but a blend of silver and lesser metals.

118 The figure of 100,000 working children in Salem is based on a
social scientist's finding that Salem district accounts for 10.93
percent of all child workers in the state of Tamil Nadu, and the 1981
census figures of 975,055 working children, below the age of fourteen,
in Tamil Nadu. See Vidyasagar, "A Status Report...," pp. 2 -3. Based
on more reliable statistics and analyses, however, Vidyasagar himself
estimates that there are four million working children in Tamil Nadu,
which would indicate about 400,000 child laborers in Salem district
alone. Ibid., p. 5.

119 Ibid., p. 14.

120 Human Rights Watch interview with the chief of a village near
Salem, Tamil Nadu, November 30, 1995.

121 Background information on the silver industry of Salem was
provided during a Human Rights Watch interview with staff members of a
local nongovernmental organization, November 30, 1995. It requested
anonymity in order to avoid possible repercussions against its
programs or staff.

122 Human Rights Watch interview with a social worker who works with
the children in this industry, Salem, November 28, 1995.

123 Human Rights Watch interview with a small-scale silver smithy
owner who, at the time of the interview, had three bonded children
working, Salem, November 30, 1995.

124 See chapter on applicable law.

125 Human Rights Watch telephone interview with Project Officer J. L.
Poland, December 1, 1995, Salem, Tamil Nadu. The district government's
goal was to establish twenty such schools, with one hundred working
children in each.

126 Ibid. Instead of prosecuting, the office is employing a
"cooperative approach" and "working with the companies [that employ
child laborers]," according to the project officer. A local activist
put this another way. "He [the district collector] is collaborating
with the big mill and factory owners.... They [government officials]
will never worry about the welfare of the child labourers." Human
Rights Watch interview, November 30, 1995.

127 Ibid.

128 Report of the Commission on Bonded Labour in Tamilnadu, submitted
to the Supreme Court for Supreme Court Civ. Writ Petition No. 3922 of
1985. October 31, 1995, Madras, Tamil Nadu, p. 75.

129 Vidyasagar, "A Status Report...," p. 12.

130 Report of the Commission on Bonded Labour in Tamilnadu, p. 76.
Those few gem workers who are not scheduled caste members are members
of lower castes.

131 "A training centre on synthetic diamonds production," The Free
Press Journal, January 16, 1996.

132 Ibid.

133 Ibid.

134 Ibid.

135 There have been several other problems with this initiative.
According to the director of a local social welfare organization, the
new machines, which the government encouraged people to buy, were very
expensive (valued at 8,000 rupees each) and were sold to participants
by government agents at an inflated price (up to 16,000 rupees each).
These purchases were financed by bank loans set up with government
assistance, and buyers were then saddled with long-term bank debts. A
second problem was over saturation of the market as a direct result of
the gem park scheme. More than 6,000 people bought these machines and
were trained to use them. Many of these buyers were entering into the
industry for the first time, enticed by government promises of steady
earnings. With more and more American diamonds being produced, a glut
in the market soon developed. Within a year, many of the machines
stood idle, their owners having defaulted on the loans and begun
looking for other means of income generation. Another accusation
against the program is that the training process has been inadequate,
with the result that some participants never even learned how to use
their machines. Some machines, then, were idle from the start. That
the production glut happened anyway underscores an even greater
potential for market flooding.

136 Report of the Commission on Bonded Labour in Tamilnadu, p. 76.

137 There are five distinct stages of gem production: slicing,
shaping, preforming, faceting, and polishing. Each of these stages
requires minute and sustained attention to detail. Report of the
Commission on Bonded Labour in Tamilnadu, p. 75.

138 Vidyasagar, "A Status Report...," p.13, citing eye specialist Dr.
Jaiswal. According to Dr. Jaiswal, eyeglasses are not usually required
by the general population until after the age of thirty-five.

139 "Silk Exports May Fall 20 Percent," Business Line, March 7, 1996.

140 Ibid.

141 "Indo-German Trade Surges By 20% to DM 8.17 Billion," Business
Standard, June 12, 1996.

142 See Sanjay Sinha, The Development of Indian Silk: A Wealth of
Opportunities (New Delhi: Oxford and IBH Publishing Co. Pvt. Ltd.,
1990), p. 46-47, 56-59; government subsidies as of 1990 totaled $20
million annually; The Hindu, "Sericulture project for 7 more
districts," November 21, 1995, p. 5. The article reported that World
Bank funding of sericulture projects would continue and the annual
production of silk was expected to more than double by end of eight-
year project. "Sericulture" refers to the culture of the silkworm.

143 "Silk Exports May Fall 20 Percent," Business Line, March 7, 1996.

144 Public Interest Research Group, The World Bank and India (New
Delhi: Public Interest Research Group, 1994), p. 81.

145 Ibid., p. 82.

146 "Karnataka to Have 7 Integrated Silk Growth Centres," Business
Line, January 31, 1996; "Silk-Mixed Fare on the Cards for the Future,"
Economic Times, February 3, 1996.

147 The World Bank, India-UP Diversified Agriculture Support Project
(DASP), Project Identification Number INPA35824, Proposal Date: March,

148 The World Bank, Working With NGOs (Washington D.C.: The World
Bank, 1994), p.5.

149 There is also a significant amount of bonded child labor in the
silk powerloom industry, with at least 35,000 bonded children working
the powerlooms of Tamil Nadu alone. This area demands further
investigation and action on the part of government authorities, but is
beyond the scope of the present report.

150 Human Rights Watch interview with researcher R. Vidyasagar,
November 17, 1995, Madras; Report of the Commission on Bonded Labour
in Tamilnadu, October 31, 1995, Madras, submitted in connection with
Supreme Court Civ. Writ Petition No. 3922 of 1985, p. 73; R.K. Misra,
Preliminary Report on the Child Labour in the Saree Industry of
Varanasi, Human Rights Cell, Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi, 1995,
p. 10.

151 Misra, Child Labour in the Saree Industry of Varanasi, p. 3.

152 Human Rights Watch interview with director of government cocoon
market, December 7, 1995, Magadi, Karnataka.

153 No systematic study has been undertaken on child labor in the silk
industry of Karnataka. Nonetheless, a detailed study of one Taluk
(subdivision of a district) near Bangalore found 10,000 bonded child
silk workers in that Taluk alone. Based on this figure,an overall
estimate of 100,000 is conservative.

154 Sinha, The Development of Indian Silk: A Wealth of Opportunities
(New Delhi: Oxford and IBH Publishing Co. Pvt. Ltd., 1990), p. 11.

155 Ibid., p. 31.

156 Ibid. at 31.

157 Memorandum to Human Rights Watch from author Rudi Rotthier and
photographer Marleen Daniels, November 1, 1995 (Rotthier/Daniels

158 Human Rights Watch interviews, December 6, 1995, Ramanagaram,

159 Results of a 1995 survey conducted by social service organization
in Magadi Taluk, rural Bangalore District, Karnataka.

160 Rotthier/Daniels memorandum.

161 Human Rights Watch interview with social activist, December 7,
1995, rural Bangalore district.

162 Human Rights Watch witnessed many children working in the twining
factories and spoke with several of them briefly, usually in view of
their employers. We were unable to gain access to the children in a
setting more secure and conducive for interviews. Instead, we relied
largely on information provided by a local social welfare
organization. Although the particulars of these three testimonies were
confirmed repeatedly by our own conversations and observations, the
testimonies themselves were recorded by this organization and not by
Human Rights Watch.

163 Rotthier/Daniels memorandum.

164 Sinha, The Development of Indian Silk, p. 63.

165 A researcher who undertook a detailed study of the industry
reported that girls who work in the silk factories tend to have
irregular and very painful menstrual periods, and may suffer other
reproductive problems. Human Rights Watch interview with social
activist in a village in Rural Bangalore district, Karnataka, December
7, 1995. A female leather worker interviewed in Ambur, Tamil Nadu,
reported the same phenomenon in the shoe factories of that town. To
Human Rights Watch's knowledge, there has been no effort by the
government to investigate these or other health problems experienced
by working children.

166 Ibid.

167 Human Rights Watch interview with researcher R. Vidyasagar, Nov.
17, 1995, Madras; Report of the Commission on Bonded Labour in
Tamilnadu, Oct. 31, 1995, Madras, submitted in connection with Supreme
Court Civ. Writ Petition No. 3922 of 1985, p. 76.

168 Misra, Preliminary Report on the Child Labour, p. 8.

169 Sinha, Development of Indian Silk, p. 34.

170 On November 24-25, 1995, Human Rights Watch interviewed forty
people in four of the Kanchipuram area regarding the use of bonded
child labor in the silk handloom industry. Most of those interviewed
were bonded child laborers; others were parents of working children,
non-bonded child workers, owners, employers, and agents. Except where
otherwise noted, all information regarding the practices of the
Kanchipuram silk industry was obtained during these interviews. All
information regarding the practices of the Varanasi silk industry is
from Misra, Preliminary Report on the Child Labour, except where
otherwise noted.

171 Human Rights Watch interview with researcher R. Vidyasagar, Nov.
17, 1995, Madras, Tamil Nadu.

172 Misra, Preliminary Report on the Child Labour, p. 8.

173 Misra, Preliminary Report on the Child Labour, p. 11.

174 Ibid., p. 30.

175 Ibid., pp. 10-11.

176 One wealthy employer told Human Rights Watch researchers, in an
interview in Kanchipuram on November 23, 1995, that he has suffered
losses totaling 200,000 rupees because of children running away. While
he declined to specify how many children ran away or over what period
of time this loss occurred, this figure is a clear indicator of the
desperate conditions and deep suffering of the bonded child laborer's

177 B.N. Juyal, Child Labour: The Twice Exploited (Varanasi: Gandhian
Institute of Studies, 1985).

178 Jagaran, Dec. 14, 1994 (cited by Misra, Preliminary Report on the
Child Labour, p. 5).

179 Ibid.

180 Misra, Preliminary Report on the Child Labour, p. 47.

181 "Thousands of persons are committing offenses under this act every
year. However not one person is known to have been convicted in
Varanasi." Ibid., p. 44. Nor have there been any convictions in the
Kanchipuram area.

182 See chapter on applicable law.

183 Human Rights Watch interview with North Arcot District Collector
M. P. Vijaykumar, Nov. 27, 1995, Vellore, Tamil Nadu; Misra,
Preliminary Report on the Child Labour, p. 42.

184 Human Rights Watch interview with director of government cocoon
market, Dec. 7, 1995, Magadi, Bangalore Rural District, Karnataka.

185 Sinha, Development of Indian Silk, pp. 47, 57.

186 "By the Skin of Its Teeth - Indian Leather Industry," Financial
Express Investment Week, August 9, 1995; "Indian Shoe Manufacturers
Increased Exports Rs. 9.14 Bil in 1994-95, Compared With Rs. 5.23 Bil
in 1992-93," Reuters, March 27, 1996.

187 Prakash Mahtani, Chairman of the Council for Leather Exports,
predicted exports valuing seven billion dollars by the year 2000.
Sharika Muthu, Times of India, Shoe Fair Supplement, "Global Giants
Stepping into Indian Shoes," Oct. 17, 1994.

188 The Factories Act, 1948, Sec. 2(m)(i) and (ii); The Child Labour
(Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986, Sec. 3. (The act does not
apply to workshops where occupier is assisted by family).

189 See chapter on the role of the government.

190 Based on our observations of the Bombay leather shoe industry,
girl workers comprise approximately 5 percent of the child workers

191 Human Rights Watch interview with local resident and shoemaker,
January 16, 1996, Bombay.

192 A small percentage of the boys are brought in from Uttar Pradesh
and other parts of Maharashtra. These children make wooden heels for
shoes, while the children from Rajasthan make the leather sandals
known as chappals. Times of India, "Children toil for 12 hours in
chappal units," February 12, 1996.

193 The information on Rajasthani shoemaking communities was gathered
during several Human Rights Watch interviews in villages near
Viratnagar, Rajasthan, Dec. 13-14, 1995.

194 At the same time, their daughters are being forced into carpet-
weaving. See chapter on carpets.

195 Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act, Sec. 2(1)(g)(I)(1).

196 Ibid., Sec. 2(1)(I)(a) and (b). Because no minimum wages have been
set by the government for children's work, the second prong of this
definition applies.

197 People's Union for Democratic Rights v. Union of India, (1982) 3
SCC 235, paragraphs 259-260.

198 Times of India, "Children toil for 12 hours in chappal units,"
February 12, 1996.

199 According to the Ministry of Labour, 84.98 percent of child labor
is in agriculture. Ministry of Labour, Government of India, "Children
and Work," produced for Workshop of District Collectors/District Heads
on "Elimination of Child Labour in Hazardous Occupation," New Delhi,
September 13-14, 1995, p. 3. For statistics on bonded child laborers,
see Burra, Born to Work..., pp. 32-33, the range is so great because
no definitive study has been undertaken to determine the number of
bonded child laborers in agriculture. The 85 percent of all bonded
laborers was confirmed by Anti-Slavery International in a telephone
interview with Human Rights Watch on August 14, 1996; but like other
statistics on bonded and child labor, no comprehensive survey has been
taken to document this.

200 Dalit groups have largely rejected the terms "untouchable" and
"harijan" (children of God) to describe their communities. They are
also referred to as "scheduled castes," a term which like "scheduled
tribes" refers to groups designated on a schedule attached to the
Indian Constitution as entitled to special consideration, including
some quotas for educational and career opportunities, in recognition
of their historically disadvantaged status. Many, if not the majority
of India's bonded laborers are members of the Dalit communities, or
are "scheduled tribes"-indigenous tribal people, also known as
adivasi. However, in some industries, Dalits occupy positions other
than bonded laborers. In the silk industry, for example, some loom-
owners and weavers are also Dalits.

201 See for example, A.R. Desai, ed. Repression and Resistance in
India, (Bombay: Popular Prakashan Private Ltd., 1990).

202 All interviews by Human Rights Watch, December 9, 1995, Anekal
Taluk, Bangalore Rural District.

203 Kiran Kamal Prasad, "Bonded Labour in Anekal Taluk, Bangalore
Urban District, Karnataka" (Guddhati village: Self published, March
12, 1991), p.4.

204 Ibid.

205 Government of India, 8th Five Year Plan: 1992-1997 (New Delhi:
Cosmos Bookhive (P) Ltd., 1992), pp. 64-65.

206 Kiran Kamal Prasad, "Bonded Labour in Karnataka," (Bangalore: Self
published, 1995), p. 4.

207 Ibid.

208 Ibid.

209 Ministry of Labour statistics on bonded labour are cumulative
totals. For a further discussion of these statistics and their
methodology, see below.

210 Kiran Kamal Prasad, "Bonded Labour...", p. 3.

211 Ibid, p. 2.

212 "23 Children Rescued from Bondage," The Statesman, January 26,

213 Pradeep Mehta, "Cashing in on Child Labor."

214 Ela Dutt, "Rug Firms With No Child Labor Need Help," India Abroad,
February 3, 1995.

215 See Hamish McDonald "Boys of bondage: Child labour, though banned,
is rampant," Far Eastern Economic Review, July 9, 1992, p. 19 (with
arrival of Nepali children, including girls, reports of sexual abuse
and rape increasing).

216 "Mirzapur Carpets - Taking Exports to a New High," Economic Times,
June 10, 1996.

217 Since 1994, the carpet industry has been experiencing a decline in
terms of global market share. It declined to a 17 percent share of the
global market in 1995, from 21 percent in 1994. Most reports attribute
this to increased competition from China and Iran. "Hand-Knotted
Carpet Units Losing Out to China, Iran," Financial Express, March 12,
1996; "Mirzapur Carpets - Taking Exports to a New High," Economic
Times, June 10, 1996.

218 "Steps taken to Curb Child Labour in Carpet Industry," Times of
India, December 11, 1995.

219 India's total exports in 1995 were $26.2 billion; carpet exports
were valued at $650 million, or about 2.5 percent of the total

220 "Steps taken to Curb Child Labour in Carpet Industry."

221 Edward A. Gargan, "Bound to Looms by Poverty and Fear, Boys in
India Make a Few Men Rich," New York Times, July 9, 1992.

222 "Mirzapur Carpets - Taking Exports to a New High."

223 Molly Moore, "Factories of Children; Youth Labor Force Growing in
Asia to Meet Export Demand, Help Families," Washington Post, May 21,
1995. Although the highest concentration of carpet villages is in
Mirzapur district, carpet manufacturing is also a dominant industry in
the neighboring districts of Allahabad, Varanasi, and Jaunpur.

224 Neera Burra, Born to Work, p. xxii.

225 According to one 1995 report, carpet manufacturers have found a
new way to exploit the poverty of the Bihar inhabitants: in addition
to bringing Bihar children into bondage in the carpet belt,
manufacturers are beginning to bring bondage to the children, setting
up hundreds of looms in the poorest districts of Bihar. See "Ex-child
labourers make a fresh start," Times of India, July 31, 1995.

226 Anti-Slavery International (ASI), "Slavery Today in India,"
Factsheet B, July 1994. According to ASI, 10,000 boys have been
kidnapped from the boys' district (Chichoria, Bihar) alone.

227 Prem Bhai, "The Working Conditions of the Child Weaver in the
Carpet Units of Mirzapur and Summary of Findings," Law Relating to
Employment of Children, 1985, p. 146.

228 Shamshad Khan, "Migrant Child Labour in the Carpet Industry of
Mirzapur-Bhadohi," (undated).

229 A detailed 1984 study found that approximately 50 percent of
migrant child weavers were paid only in food; another 40 percent of
them received only one or two rupees per day. Prem Bhai, "Working
Conditions of the Child Weaver..." p. 151.

230 Except where otherwise noted, all child testimonials from the
carpet belt are drawn from Human Rights Watch interviews, December 19,
1995, in several rural villages of Mirzapur district, Uttar Pradesh.

231 See especially Prem Bhai, "The Working Conditions of the Child
Weaver in the Carpet Units of Mirzapur and Summary of Findings," Law
Relating to Employment of Children, 1985.

232 See, e.g., "Ex-Child Labourers make a Fresh Start," Times of
India, July 31, 1995.

233 Information on health risks from Human Rights Watch interviews in
Mirzapur district, Uttar Pradesh, and Jaipur district, Rajasthan; also
McDonald, "Boys of bondage...," July 9, 1992, p. 18; Shamshad Khan,
"Improvement in Health, Hygiene and Nutritional Status of Child Labour
in Carpet Industry: Experience of CREDA," February 26, 1990.

234 Molly Moore, "Factories of Children; Youth Labor Force Growing in
Asia to Meet Export Demand, Help Families," Washington Post Foreign
Service, May 21, 1995.

235 "19 Children Rescued from Bonded Labour," Indian Express, Nov. 9,

236 Bhai, "The Working Conditions of the Child Weaver...", p. 151.

237 Ibid., p. 152.

238 Pradeep Mehta, "Cashing in on Child Labor."

239 See McDonald, "Boys of Bondage...," p. 19.

240 See chapter on leather for a more detailed discussion of the
Rajasthani shoemaking communities.

241 Approximately 80 percent of the child carpet-makers in Rajasthan
are female (Human Rights Watch interview with social activist,
December 14, 1995, Viratnagar). This is quite different from the
pattern in the Uttar Pradesh carpet belt, where 95 percent of the
carpet-makers are male.

242 Human Rights Watch interview, December 13, 1995, village near
Viratnagar, Jaipur district, Rajasthan.

243 Ibid.

244 Anti-Slavery International, "Slavery Today in India," Factsheet B,
July 1994.

245 Ibid. As of 1991, the number of government-run carpet-training
centers was reported as approximately two hundred. Weiner, The Child
and the State in India, p. 86.

246 Human Rights Watch interview with local children's rights
activist, December 13, 1995, Viratnagar, Rajasthan.

247 B. N. Juyal, "Official Schemes Exacerbate Situation in Northern
States," Vigil India, No. 69, August 1995, p. 6.

248 Ibid.

249 Ibid. Under the Emergency of 1975-1977, then Prime Minister Indira
Gandhi suspended civil liberties, arrested hundreds of opposition
leaders and activists, and attempted to push through a number of
economic reforms, including new development programs.

250 Indian Constitution, Article 24.

251 Gargan, "Bound to Looms..."

252 McDonald, "Boys of bondage ..." p. 19 .

253 Ibid.

254 Human Rights Watch interview with Mirzapur District Collector
Bachittar Singh, December 19, 1995, Mirzapur, Uttar Pradesh.

255 Human Rights Watch interview with Rajasthan Labour Commissioner
Ashok Shekhar, December 15, 1995, Jaipur, Rajasthan.

0 S. B. Civil Writ Petition No. 263/1995, Ugam Raj Mohnot v. State of
Rajasthan and Others, filed January 18, 1995, before the High Court of
Judicature for Rajasthan, Jaipur Bench, Jaipur. The writ requests,
inter alia, that the Court "direct the State Government to make Rules
under the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986, and to
implement the provisions of this act forthwith strictly..." The
petitioner is coordinator of the Rajasthan branch of the Centre of
Concern for Child Labour (CFCCL) and he filed the petition on behalf
of the organization.

1 Civ. Writ Petition No. 3922 of 1985 with Civ. Writ Petition No. 153
of 1982, Record of Proceedings, August 7, 1995.

2 Human Rights Watch interview with Ms. Srilata Swaminathan, Rajasthan
Kisan Sangathan, December 13, 1995, Jaipur, Rajasthan.

3 Commission on Labour Standards and International Trade, Child Labour
in India..., p. 41.

4 This section discusses the government's child labor programs. These
are not programs designed specifically to address the needs of bonded
child laborers; as of July 1996, the Indian government has no such

5 UNICEF, "Child Labour: UNICEF India Position," 1995, p. 4. There are
467 districts in all of India.

6 See Commission on Labour Standards and International Trade, Child
Labour in India..., p. 42-45 (describing eighteen policies, laws,
committees, etc. established by central government since 1921).

7 Ibid., p. 45.

8 Ibid.

9 "Non-formal education" is typically part-time instruction that
emphasizes basic literacy and life skills. It is geared toward working

10 The majority of the funds for this program were provided by the
International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour (IPEC), a
program of the International Labour Organisation. IPEC focuses on "the
worst abuses of child labour: hazardous work, forced labour, the
employment of working children who are less than 12 or 13 years old,
girls and street children." The NGO Group for the Convention on the
Rights of the Child, 1993, "Eliminating the Exploitation of Child
Labour: International, national and local action," May 1993, p. 8.

11 Commission on Labour Standards, "Child Labour in India," p. 49
(source: Ministry of Labour). Additional IPEC programs serve nearly
55,000 children. Ministry of Labour, Government of India, "Children
and Work," Workshop of District Collectors/District Heads on
"Elimination of Child Labour in Hazardous Occupations," New Delhi,
September 13-14, 1995, p. 11.

12 Ministry of Labour, "Children and Work," p. 5.

13 "Data on Child Labour yet to be Compiled," The Hindu, April 10,
1995, p. 13. The article uses the figure of 850 crore rupees; one
crore is equal to ten million.

14 Ministry of Labour, "Children and Work," p. 5.

15 "India has told the International Labour Organisation it requires
no external financial assistance for the various remedial measures it
is taking [to eliminate children from the workforce in hazardous
industries]." "Collectors Meeting on Child Labour," The Statesman
(Calcutta edition), September 10, 1995; "Government today informed the
Rajya Sabha that it had rejected the offer by some countries to help
India check the problem of child labour, saying it preferred to depend
on its own resources." "India rejects aid to tackle child labour," The
Statesman, March 12, 1996; "India spurns aid to abolish child labour,"
Times of India, February 11, 1996.

16 The issue of foreign aid also underscores the government's
sensitivity to external critiques of child labor in India. According
to one diplomat in New Delhi, "the Indian government is known to have
discouraged suggestions, including one from the European Union, for
financial assistance." The diplomat attributed this stance to a desire
by the government "to avoid any meddling in its programme for
abolition of child labour," pointing out that international funding
brings with it accountability for the use of funds, something the
Indian government may wish to avoid. "India spurns aid," Times of
India, Feb. 11, 1996. Others believe that the government is
positioning the issue of external aid as a bargaining chip in the
ongoing debate over a linkage between trade and labor. Under this
view, "[i]f the developed countries demand that the pace of compliance
with international labour standards should be faster... India could
then ask for a substantial part of the cost of the programmes to be
shared by the developed countries." Ibid.

17 The twenty million figure was used by then-Prime Minister Rao on
August 15, 1994, when he announced the government's goal of releasing
two million child workers from hazardous industries by the year 2000.
Campaign Against Child Labour, "Reference Kit for Media Persons,"
January 1995, p. 8.

18 Department of Women and Child Development, Indian Council for Child
Welfare, and UNICEF, India Country Office, "Rights of the Child:
Report of a National Consultation, November 21-23, 1994, p. 102.

19 N.K. Doval, "Double-speak on child labour," The Hindu, December 28,
1994; Ministry of Labour, Children and Work, September 13-14, 1995.
Based on 1981 figures, the Planning Commission for the Census of India
estimated that there were seventeen and a half million child laborers
under the age of fourteen in 1985, eighteen million in 1990, and 20
million in 1995 See Commission on Labour Standards, Child Labour in
India, p. 3

20 Gerry Pinto, UNICEF, "Child Labour in India: The Issue and
Directions for Action," 1995, p. 2; UNICEF et al., "Rights of the
Child," p. 101.

21 Ministry of Labour, Children and Work, September 13-14, 1995, p. 2.
Preliminary numbers released from the 1991 census include a total
population of 844 million people, 298 million of whom are children
under the age of fifteen. Of these children, 221million live in rural
areas and seventy-one million in urban areas. These numbers are
already considered out of date, with most sources reporting an overall
population of more than 900 million. India's population is expected to
cross the one billion mark by the turn of the century.

22 Human Rights Watch interview with National Human Rights Commission,
Secretary General R. V. Pillai, New Delhi, December 28, 1995.

23 This chapter discusses only certain aspects of the Bonded Labour
System (Abolition) Act. For a more comprehensive overview, see the
chapters on the legal context of bonded child labor and on the beedi
industry. The full text of the act may be found in the appendix.

24 Bonded Labour (System Abolition) Act, Ch. IV, Art. 10, Art. 12 and
Ch. V, Art. 14. There are twenty-five states in India and 467
districts. Stanley Wolpert, India (Berkeley: University of California
Press, 1991), p. 199; UNICEF, "Child Labour: UNICEF India Position,"
1995, p. 4.

25 See chapter on applicable law for details of the committees'

26 Judgement in Writ Petition No. 1187, 1982 (cited in Vivek Pandit,
"Prevention of Atrocities (Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes): Bonded
Labour, Their Rights and Implementation", 1995), p. 7.

27 Neeraja Chaudhary v. State of Madhya Pradesh, 3 SCC, paragraphs
243, 255 (1984).

28 For details, see chapter on applicable law.

29 Neeraja Chaudhary v. State of Madhya Pradesh, 3 SCC 243, paragraphs
245-246 (1984).

30 Pandit, "Bonded Labour," p. 18.

31 Ministry of Labour, Annual Report 1994-1995, p. 97.

32 See, e.g., Mahajan and Gathia, Child Labour: An Analytical Study,
p. 25. Not only is the incidence of bonded child labor increasing, but
the wages paid to bonded laborers are steadily decreasing in real
terms. S.P. Tiwary, "Bondage in Santhal Parganas," Chains of
Servitude..., p. 206.

33 "Citizen's [sic] Body on Bonded Labour," Times of India, November
18, 1994.

34 Report of the Commission on Bonded Labour in Tamilnadu, October 31,
1995, Madras, p. 208, Part VIII, para. A. This report was submitted by
order of the Supreme Court in connection with Supreme Court Civ. Writ
Petition No. 3922 of 1985 (Public Union for Civil Liberties v. State
of Tamil Nadu and Others).

35 Sarma, Welfare of Special Categories of Labour, p. 55, citing
1989-90 Ministry of Labour statistics.

36 Ministry of Labour, Annual Report 1994-95, p. 97.

37 "Citizen's [sic] Body on Bonded Labour," Times of India, November
18, 1994.

38 Ibid.

39 Affidavit on behalf of the State Government of Tamil Nadu, October
7, 1994. This affidavit was submitted by order of the Supreme Court in
connection with Supreme Court Civ. Writ Petition No. 3922 of 1985
(Public Union for Civil Liberties v. State of Tamil Nadu and Others).

40 The case that sparked this inquiry, Public Union for Civil
Liberties v. State of Tamil Nadu and Others, was filed in 1985. Much
of the delay in its resolution is due to the state governments'
failure to respond to court directives in a timely manner. In its
order requiring the states to report on bonded labor practices, the
court noted that "It does appear to us that no significant progress
has been made by the concerned authorities and it is not unlikely that
the attitude of the concerned authorities is not enthusiastic as one
would expect in a matter of such significance." Record of Proceedings,
May 13, 1994. As of August 1996, Human Rights Watch has been unable to
find out whether the case has been resolved.

41 Human Rights Watch interview with Ashok Shekhar, Labour
Commissioner for Rajasthan, December 15, 1995, Jaipur, Rajasthan.

42 Human Rights Watch interview with Ashok Bhasin, Deputy Labour
Commissioner for Gujarat, December 15, 1995, Jaipur, Rajasthan.

43 Manoj Dayal, "Abolition of Bonded Labour an Eye-wash in Bihar,"
Patrika, December 26, 1995.

44 Department of Women and Child Development, Indian Council for Child
Welfare, UNICEF-India, "Rights of the Child: Report of a National
Consultation, November 21-23, 1994, p. 102.

45 The inability to come up with basic statistics regarding
enforcement was not an aberration, but rather just one example of a
chronic failure to keep-and make public-this information. See, e.g.,
"Scheme to divert kids from hazardous units," Indian Express, February
27, 1995.

46 The questions we asked of the Director General of Labour Welfare
included questions regarding: agency estimates of the number of bonded
child laborers in India; the number of district vigilance committees
currently in operation, and their activities to date; the number of
cases prosecuted under the Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act and
the results of these prosecutions; the number of people rehabilitated
under the Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act; whether any bonded
child laborers have ever been rehabilitated under the act; and the
agency opinion regarding the case of bonded labor currently before the
Supreme Court, in which thirteen states are accused of allowing
widespread bonded labor to flourish.

47 Commission on Labour Standards and International Trade, Child
Labour in India: A Perspective, June 10, 1995, p. 33. Inspections by
the national government presumable took place in New Delhi and other
centrally-administered territories.

48 Ibid.

49 N.K. Doval,"Double-Speak on Child Labour," The Hindu, December 28,

50 Molly Moore, "Poverty Weaves Harshness Into Lives," Guardian
Weekly, June 4, 1995, p. 19 (reprint from Washington Post) (of 4,000
convictions reported under the Act since 1986, 3,500 offenders got off
with a fine equivalent to five dollars or less; figures from report by
an Indian Chamber of Commerce and the International Labour
Organisation). The assertion that there have been 4,000 convictions
under the act does not coincide with the data released by the
government regarding 1990 to 1993 convictions, reported above. The
government's figures of 772 convictions for one three year period
indicate that, since the act was passed in 1986, total convictions
probably number 2,500 or less.

51 Hema Shukla, "India Insincere in Ending Child Labor," United Press
International, September 12, 1994.

52 Human Rights Watch interview with North Arcot District Collector M.
P. Vijaykumar, November 27, 1995, Vellore, Tamil Nadu.

53 Human Rights Watch interview with senior state official, a former
district collector of Tamil Nadu, November 22, 1995, Madras, Tamil

54 Human Rights Watch interviews, November 17 - December 1, 1995,
Tamil Nadu.

55 Human Rights Watch interview with social activists, December 22,
1995, Firozabad, Uttar Pradesh. See also Burra, Born to Work, p. xxiii
(of 200,000 glass workers in Firozabad, 50,000 are children).

56 Srawan Shukla, "Childhood goes up in Smoke in the `Land of Glass,'"
Times of India, November 19, 1994.

57 Human Rights Watch interview with R. V. Pillai, Secretary General,
National Human Rights Commission, December 28, 1995, New Delhi.

58 Ministry of Labour, Annual Report 1994-1995, pp. 96-97.

59 Ibid., p. 97.

60 The case, Public Union for Civil Liberties v. State of Tamil Nadu
and Others (Civ. Writ Petition No. 3922 of 1985), is investigating the
practice of bonded labor, and the states' failure to eradicate that
practice, in the states of Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Kerala, Andhra
Pradesh, Rajasthan, Haryana, West Bengal, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh,
Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, and Meghalaya.

61 Public Union for Civil Liberties v. State of Tamil Nadu and Others,
Civ. Writ Petition No. 3922 of 1985 with Civ. Writ Petition No. 153 of
1982, Record of Proceedings, August 7, 1995, p. 2.

62 Ibid., p. 3.

63 G. V. Krishnan,"TN has 10 Lakh [one million] Bonded Workers, says
Panel," Times of India, March 1, 1996.

64 Ibid.

65 Reddy, Bonded Labour System in India, p. 153. Citing 1988-89
Ministry of Labour statistics.

66 Sarma, Welfare of Special Categories of Labour, p. 55, citing
1989-90 Ministry of Labour statistics.

67 Ministry of Labour, Annual Report 1994-95, p.97.

68 Manoj Dayal, "Abolition of Bonded Labour an Eye-wash in Bihar,"
Patrika, December 26, 1995.

69 Ministry of Labour, Annual Report 1994-95, p. 97.

70 Hoshiar Singh, Administration of Rural Development in India (New
Delhi: Sterling Publishers Pvt. Ltd., 1995), pp.165-188.

71 "Allocations for Labour Schemes Unutilised," Times of India, March
15, 1996.

72 Human Rights Watch interview, December 29, 1995, New Delhi.

73 Ibid. See also Reddy, Bonded Labour System in India, p. 171.

74 Report of the Commission on Bonded Labour in Tamil Nadu, October
31, 1995, Madras, submitted for Supreme Court Civ. Writ Petition No.
3922 of 1985, Part V, p. 1.

75 We asked the Director General of Labour Welfare for India for these
statistics, but he declined to respond.

76 Reddy, Bonded Labour System in India, p.161.

77 Human Rights Watch interview with District Collector M. P.
Vijaykumar, November 27, 1995, Vellore, Tamil Nadu.

78 Ibid. See also "8 Beedi Agents held under Bonded Labour System
(Abolition) Act," Indian Express, September 10, 1995.

79 Commission on Labour Standards and International Trade, Child
Labour in India..., p. 9 ("There is also apathy amongst State
Governments. Most states do not have yet in place the framing of rules
for the enforcement of the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation)
Act of 1986, nearly a decade later!"). The Commission on Labour
Standards and International Trade was appointed by the Indian
government in August 1994 for the purpose of studying "Issues
Concerning the Protection of Labour Rights and Related Matters."
Ibid., appendix 1.

80 Human Rights Watch telephone interview with Belgian journalist Rudi
Rotthier, October 19, 1995.

81 The Supreme Court noted this in directing states to include social
action groups in their efforts against bonded labor, stating that
"patwaris and tehsildars [local leaders] [are] either in sympathy with
the exploiting class or lacking in social commitment or indifferent to
the misery and suffering of the poor . ." Crim. Writ Petition No. 1263
of 1982, Neeraja Chaudhary v. State of Madhya Pradesh, 3 SCC
paragraphs 243, 251 (1984).

82 Human Rights Watch interview with attorney Jose Varghese, November
15, 1996, New Delhi.

83 Child Workers News, Vol. 2, No. 2, April-June 1994.

84 Crim. Writ Petition No. 1263 of 1982, Neeraja Chaudhary v. State of
Madhya Pradesh, 3 SCC 243, paragraph 252 (1984).

85 Tiwary, "Bondage in Santhal Parganas," Chains of Servitude, p.

86 "Bonded labour is employed by powerful landlords from whom the many
political parties draw political support and this poses a major
obstacle to implementation of the legislation. The power of those
opposed to the eradication of bondage ensures the continuation of the
economic conditions which nurture the system." See Mahajan and Gathia,
Child Labour: An Analytical Study, p. 25.

87 Human Rights Watch interviews with local social activists, December
1, 1995, Trichy, Tamil Nadu, and December 18, 1995, Varanasi, Uttar

88 These phenomena are discussed in previous chapters.

89 Human Rights Watch interview with Jose Varghese, November 15, 1995,
New Delhi.

90 Human Rights Watch interview with Supreme Court attorney, December
29, 1996.

91 For example, see Ajoy Kumar, "From Slavery to Freedom: The Tale of
Chattisgarh Bonded Labourers," Indian Social Institute, 1986, pp.

92 Ministry of Labour, Annual Report 1994-1995, p. 97.

93 See G. Satyamurty, "Trouble Dogs Freed Bonded Labourers," The
Hindu, October 27, 1994; also, in a memorandum to Human Rights Watch,
journalists Marleen Daniels and Rudi Rotthier reported their discovery
in a rural village that, of twenty-one children liberated from bondage
in 1993, nineteen had been returned to bondage one year later.
(Rotthier/Daniels memorandum to Human Rights Watch, November 1,

94 For example, in Tamil Nadu, the rehabilitation allowance for a
bonded laborer released in December 1992 was not approved for
distribution until March 1994. Report of the Commission on Bonded
Labour in Tamil Nadu, October 31, 1995, Madras, submitted in
connection with Supreme Court Civ. Writ Petition No. 3922 of 1985, p.

95 See Commission on Labour Standards and International Trade, Child
Labour in India..., p. 40.

96 See Neeraja Chaudhary v. State of Madhya Pradesh, paragraph 251.

97 Report of the Commission on Bonded Labour in Tamil Nadu, October
31, 1995, Madras, submitted in connection with Supreme Court Civ. Writ
Petition No. 3922 of 1985, p. 137.

98 Sreedhar Pillai, "Of Inhuman Bondage: The Supreme Court Indicts the
Tamil Nadu Government for Failing to Abolish Bonded Labour," Sunday
Magazine (Calcutta), April 7-13, 1996.

99 Tiwary, "Bondage in Santhal Parganas," Chains of Servitude..., p.


...and I am Sid Harth
2010-03-19 12:53:47 UTC
Give Varun Gandhi a chance: Gadkari
NDTV Correspondent, Friday March 19, 2010, New Delhi

Having to contend with both silent sulks and open attack from within
his party, BJP's new president Nitin Gadkari has stoutly defended his
choice of people for his new team of office-bearers.

On the controversial inclusion as Secretary of Varun Gandhi, a man the
party had in the past sought to distance itself from after his hate
speeches, Gadkari said exclusively to NDTV: "Varun Gandhi should be
given a chance, why hold the past against him?"

Gadkari also made clear that, "Those who have complaints about the new
team should speak to me, not the media," a barb at partymen like actor
Shatrughan Sinha, who had criticised the new president for leaving out
"the most deserving people". (Read: Shatrughan slams Gadkari)

The actor had particularly talked about the exclusion from the team of
veteran Yashwant Sinha, saying the team was constituted without
consulting "people who matter like my friend and leader of opposition
Sushma Swaraj and some other top leaders".

Gadkari countered the charges by saying: "It's wrong to say that
Yashwant Sinha and Arun Shourie were excluded because they are Advani
detractors... It's not possible to include everyone on the team."

The BJP chief, who was reported scrambling for approval from the RSS
for his list of office-bearers hours before he announced the names,
however, maintained that there was no pressure from the RSS on team

He also sought to clear the air on the inclusion of a number of
celebrities as senior office-bearers by saying, "The celebrities we
included are also committed party workers, they are not just
celebrities." Getting in people like Hema Malini as Vice President and
Navjyot Singh Sindhu and Smriti Irani as Secretaries is seen by many
as a move by Gadkari to use known faces strategically in his bid to
revive and re-popularise the BJP. The Sangh's choice of workers is not

In the broad-based interview, Gadkari talked about the summons to
Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi from the Supreme Court-appointed
Special Investigation Team (SIT) looking into 2002 Gujarat riots
cases. "Modi is a big leader of our party, the SIT summons make no
difference", Gadkari said.

Talking exclusively to NDTV in Mumbai, Gadkari also commented on the
issue of partners Shiv Sena targeting non-Maharashtrians in the city.
"We believe Mumbai is for all Indians, but just because we have some
differences with the Shiv Sena, doesn't mean it will impact our
alliance," he said.

Nitin Gadkari's new team for BJP

Gadkari sheds kilos for a lean makeover

Gadkari, RSS differ over his new team

Gadkari's new team: Comeback for Varun, Raje?


Shatrughan slams Gadkari's team, says 'new wine in old bottle'
18 Mar 2010, 2122 hrs IST, PTI

MUMBAI: Upset over being ignored by BJP president Nitin Gadkari, actor-
turned-MP Shatrughan Sinha on Thursday became the first party leader
publicly criticise the composition of the new team of office bearers,
saying it was "new wine in old bottle".

While there have been reports of unease among some leaders, Sinha was
forthcoming in an interview claiming some of the "most deserving"
people have been left out in the much-awaited team announced on

The 'Bihari Babu' dubbed Gadkari's team, touted by the party as an
effective blend of youth, experience and women, as "new wine in old
bottle and, if we include bodies like the party's parliamentary board,
old wine in old bottle".

Without naming anyone, he said some of those inducted could have been

For the record, Sinha refuted suggestions that he was a contender for
any post. He felt that senior leader and former union minister
Yashwant Sinha should have been included with an eye on Bihar assembly
elections due in October this year.

Yashwant Sinha, a former leader of opposition in the Bihar assembly,
has held key portfolios at the centre including those of Finance and
External Affairs.

"Bihar assembly polls are most crucial for the party in the near
future, yet a leader of the calibre of Yashwant Sinha has been kept
out of the team. Some of the people who could have been avoided have
been taken at the cost of some of the most deserving people," he

"I have always treated Gadkari like a younger brother and friend.
Nevertheless, the composition of the new team, personally speaking, is
unfortunate and I am quite unhappy."

Sinha claimed that the team was constituted without consulting "people
who matter like my friend and Leader of the Opposition in Lok Sabha
Sushma Swaraj and some other top leaders".

"Being a senior and matured leader, I do not want to break party
discipline by making any undesirable comments but I am certainly
worried and to a certain extent unhappy with the composition of the
team," he said and went on to add that "most partymen are unhappy but
there is time and we will wait and watch."

Party insiders said Sinha was unhappy over the appointment as general
secretary of Ravishankar Prasad, a fellow Bihari and Kayastha

Sinha, one of the star campaigners for the party in the past several
assembly and parliamentary elections, wanted a greater role for
himself in the Bihar polls, sources said.


Deserving people not in Gadkari team: Shatrughan
19 Mar 2010, 0352 hrs IST, ET Bureau

NEW DELHI: BJP’s perennial dissenter Shatrughan Sinha is at it again.
This time, he has attacked party president Nitin Gadkari for not
“deserving” leaders in his team.

Mr Sinha, who has been eyeing a party post, couched his criticism in
his “angst” over the denial of a place in the new team of office-
bearers for former Union minister Yashwant Sinha. “Bihar assembly
polls are most crucial for the party in the near future, yet a leader
of the calibre of Yashwant Sinha has been kept out of the team. Some
of the people who could have been avoided have been taken at the cost
of some of the most deserving people,” he said. Incidentally, Mr
Yashwant Sinha represents Jharkhand’s Hazaribagh in the Lok Sabha.

Mr Shatrughan Sinha also insinuated that the list was prepared without
any consultation. “The team was constituted without consulting people
who matter like my friend and leader of Opposition Sushma Swaraj.
Being a senior and mature leader, I do not want to break party
discipline by making any undesirable comments, but I am certainly
worried and to certain extent unhappy with the composition of the
team,” he said.

His attack seemed directed against the BJP president as he dismissed
his team as “new wine in old bottle”. To Mr Sinha, the parliamentary
board was “old wine in old bottle”.

Mr Sinha has been at loggerheads with the BJP leadership for a long
time. He had refused to campaign for the NDA in the 2004 Bihar
assembly polls after Mr Nitish Kumar was named as the alliance’s chief
ministerial candidate.

But he made peace with the JD(U) leader after he was declared as the
BJP’s candidate from the Patna Saheb Lok Sabha constituency in 2009.
But for Mr Kumar’s backing, he would not have made it to the Lok
Sabha. Within his own Kayastha community, he did not have much support
as his candidature came at the cost of another legitimate claimant Mr
Ravi Shankar Prasad.


Sinha stirs up hornet’s nest on Gadkari team, BJP quiet
Express news service

Posted: Friday , Mar 19, 2010 at 2340 hrs
New Delhi:

An embarassed BJP on Thursday refused to react to party leader
Shatrughan Sinha’s criticisim of the newly-constituted team of party

Earlier in the day, the actor-turned-MP said “some of the most
deserving people” have been left out of Nitin Gadkari’s team.
Specifically referring to the exclusion of former Union Finance
Minister Yashwant Sinha, the Patna Sahib MP stressed that Sinha had
held key portfolios at the Centre and in states, and that he was also
a former leader of opposition in the Bihar Assembly.

“Bihar Assembly polls are most crucial for the party in the near
future, yet a leader of the calibre of Yashwant Sinha has been kept
out of the team. Some of the people who could have been avoided have
been taken at the cost of some of the most deserving people,” Sinha
was quoted as saying.

Shatrughan Sinha is considered close to Yashwant Sinha, but he is not
on the best of terms with Ravi Shankar Prasad, who has been elevated
as a general secretary and chief spokesperson.

Sinha further said the team was constituted “without consulting people
who matter like my friend and leader of opposition Sushma Swaraj and
some other top leaders”.

“Being a senior and matured leader, I do not want to break party
discipline by making any undesirable comments but I am certainly
worried and to a certain extent unhappy with the composition of the
team,” he was quoted as saying. Prasad, however, refused to comment.


Old faces dominate new BJP prez’s team
Shekhar Iyer, Hindustan Times
New Delhi, March 17, 2010

First Published: 00:52 IST(17/3/2010)
Last Updated: 01:01 IST(17/3/2010)

The big changes that BJP president Nitin Gadkari promised to bring
when he took over three months ago are still far away, judging by the
new team of office bearers he announced on Tuesday.

Gadkari picked many old hands and a few new faces, leaving many
aspirants disappointed even as he sought to perform a balancing act by
giving ample representation to various factions and social groups.

Rajnath Singh, who had to make way for Gadkari, appeared to have
succeeded in ensuring most of the office bearers close to him when he
was president, remained undisturbed in Gadkari’s reshuffle.

Among the other nine general secretaries, at least four are Rajnath
Singh’s core followers, led by former Jharkhand chief minister Arjun

Former Rajasthan chief minister Vasundhara Raje was also made general
secretary, honouring the commitment made to her in return for her
stepping down as leader of the Rajasthan opposition.

Gadkari’s personal stamp was reflected in the choice of Himachal
Pradesh minister Jagat Prakash Nadda, as a general secretary, whom he
was associated closely with during their days in the Akhil Bharatiya
Vidyarthi Parishad.

The RSS, which pitched strongly for Gadkari being made president, has
reasons to be pleased, with many of its men allotted key positions.
They include Bhagat Singh Koshiyari, Murlidhar Rao and Tarun Vijay,
former editor of RSS mouthpiece Panchajanyaya.

In a bid to show 33 per cent went to women, Gadkari filled the
national executive with leaders like Maharashtra BJP youth wing leader
Shaina N. C., film star Kiron Kher, Poonam Azad (wife of former
cricketer Kirti Azad), and Shobhatai Phadanvis.

Yashwant Sinha and Arun Shourie, who were critical of the party after
the poll debacle, retained their membership of the national executive.


List of new BJP team
Hindustan Times
New Delhi, March 16, 2010

First Published: 17:10 IST(16/3/2010)
Last Updated: 17:24 IST(16/3/2010)

Bharatiya Janata Party president Nitin Gadkari has announced party's
National Executive. It consists of 121 members, including 13 vice-
presidents, 10 general secretaries, 15 secretaries and one treasurer.

As provided for in the BJP constitution, the office bearers include as
many as 13 women, 33% of the total number. In all, there are 40 women
members. Besides, the president has also constituted BJP's
Parliamentary Board. The names of the members of the Central Election
Committee, Morcha Presidents and Conveners of different cells besides
some other functionaries will be announced later.

Office Bearers

President: Shri. Nitin Gadkari


1. Shri Shanta Kumar
2 Shri Kalraj Mishra
3 Shri Vinay Katiyar
4 Shri Bhagatsingh Koshiyari
5 Shri Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi
6 Smt. Karuna Shukla
7 Smt. Najma Heptullah
8 Smt.Hema Malini
9 Smt.Bijoya Chakravarti
10 Shri Purushottam Rupala
11 Smt. Kiran Ghai

General Secretaries

1 Shri Ananth Kumar
2 Shri Thavarchand Gehlot
3 Smt.Vasundhara Raje
4 Shri Vijay Goyal
5 Shri Arjun Munda
6 Shri Ravishankar Prasad (Chief Spokesperson)
7 Shri Dharmendra Pradhan
8 Shri Narendrasingh Tomar
9 Shri Jagat Prakash Nadda
10 Shri Ram Lal (Organisation)
11 Shri V. Satish (Jt.Gen.Sec.Org)
12 Shri Saudan Singh (Jt.Gen.Sec.Org)


1 Shri Santosh Gangwar
2 Smt.Smriti Irani
3 Smt.Saroj Pande
4 Smt.Kiran Maheshwari
5 Shri Tapir Gao
6 Shri Navjot Singh Siddhu
7 Shri Ashok Pradhan
8 Shri Varun Gandhi
9 Shri Muralidhar Rao
10 Dr. Kirit Somaiyya
11 Dr. Laxman
12 Captain Abhimanyu
13 Smt.Arati Mehra
14 Shri Bhupendra Yadav
15 Kum.Vani Tripathi

Shri Piyush Goyal

Official Spokespersons

Shri Prakash Javdekar
Shri Rajiv Pratap Rudy
Shri Shahnawaz Hussain
Shri Ramnath Kovind
Shri Tarun Vijay
Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman


Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee
Shri Lal Krishna Advani
Dr. Murali Manohar Joshi
Shri Bangaru Laxman
Shri Venkaiya Naidu
Shri Rajnath Singh
Smt. Sushma Swaraj
Shri Arun Jaitley
Shri Bal Apte
Shri Yashwant Sinha
Shri Gopinath Munde
Shri S.S.Ahaluwalia
Shri Arun Shouri
Shri Balveer Punj
Shri Chandan Mitra
Smt. Mridula Sinha
Shri Shatrughan Sinha
Shri Kaptansigh Solanki
Smt. Sumitra Mahajan
Smt. Jayavantiben Mehta
Dr. Vinay Sahasrabuddhe
Shri Sheshadri Chari
Smt. Anita Arya
Dr. C. P. Thakur
Shri Dilip Singh Judeo
Smt. Sudha Yadav
Shri Ramtahal Chaudhari
Smt. Maneka Gandhi
Shri Yogi Adityanath
Shri Lalji Tandon
Shri Hukumdev Narayan Yadav
Dr. J. K Jain
Dr. Anil Jain
Shri Arun Singh
Shri Nalin Kohli
Shri Jayprakash Agrawal (Surya)
Smt.Punam Azad
Smt. Rekha Gupta
Smt. Pinki Anand
Shri Hari Babu
Smt. Shanta Reddy
Smt.Sukhada Pande
Shri Bhupendrasingh Chudasama
Shri Balubhai Shukla
Shri Omprakash Dhankad
Shri Vinod Khanna
Smt. Kiran Kher
Shri Arjun Meghwal
Shri Subhash Mehriya
Smt.Suman Shringi
Shri Manavendra Singh
Shri Omkarsingh Lakhawat
Shri H. Raja
Smt. Lalitha Kumar Mangalam
Shri M. T. Ramesh
Shri C. H. Vijayshankar
Smt.Gouri Chaoudhari
Shri Bijoy Mahapatra
Smt. Surama Padhi
Smt. Shobhatai Phadanvis
Shri Mahesh Jethamalani
Smt. Shaina N C
Smt. Manisha Chaudhari
Shri Nana Shamkule
Smt. Kanta Nalavade
Smt. Louis Marandi
Shri Sunil Singh
Shri Faggansingh Kulaste
Shri Virendra Kumar Khatik
Smt. Nirmala Bhuriya
Shri Satpal Malik
Dr. Vijay Sonkar Shastri
Shri Manoj Sinha
Smt.Sarla Singh
Shri Rambux Verma
Shri Hukum Singh
Shri Sudhanshu Trivedi
Shri Sadhvi Niranjana Jyoti
Shri Ajay Tamta
Smt. Shanti Mehra
Smt. Ranjana Sahi

BJP National Executive

Permanent Invitees

Chief Ministers

Shri Narendra Modi
Shri Shivraj Singh Chauhan
Dr. Raman Singh
Shri Premkumar Dhumal
Shri B. S. Yediurappa
Shri Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank

Deputy Chief Ministers

Shri Sushil Modi
Shri Raghuvar Das


Shri Kedarnath Sahni
Shri Kailashpati Mishra
Shri V. Rama Rao

Ex-Chief Ministers

Shri Sundarlal Patwa
Shri Keshubhai Patel
Shri Madanlal Khurana
Shri B. C. Khanduri
Shri Nityanand Swami
Shri Kailash Joshi
Shri Babulal Gaur
Shri Manohar Parrikar

Legislature Leaders

Shri Ganga Prasad
Dr. V. S. Acharya
Prof. Vijay Kumar Malhotra
Shri Eknath Khadse
Shri Bhausaheb Phundkar
Shri Ghanashyam Tiwari (Officiating)
Shri Om Prakash Singh
Shri Nepal Singh
Shri Mission Ranjan Das
Shri Chaman Lal Gupta
Shri K. V. Singhdev
Shri Manoranjan Kalia
Shri Tamigo Taga, (Arunachal Pradesh)
Shri Anil Viz

Chief Whips in Parliament

Shri Ramesh Bains
Smt. Maya Singh

Parliamentary Party Secretary and Jt.Sec.

Shri Ramkripal Sinha
Shri Shanmuganathan


Shri O.Rajgopal
Dr. Satyanarayan Jatiya
Shri Kesarinath Tripathi
Shri Devdas Apte (Bapu Apte)
Shri Sadanand Gowda
Shri Tanveer Hyder Osmani
Dr. Harsh Vardhan
Shri. Vidyasagar Rao
Shri Bandaru Dattatreya
Shri Vinod Pande
Shri M. Bharot Singh
Shri Rajen Gohain
Shri Ramen Deka
Shri Nilmani Dev
Shri Vishnudeo Sai
Shri Naresh Bansal
Shri Harendra Pratap
Shri Rambilas Sharma
Shri Maheshwar Singh
Dr. Nirmal Singh
Shri Rajendra Bhandari
Shri Stayapal Jain
Shri Gulabchand Katariya
Shri Ramdas Agarwal
Shri L. Ganeshan
Shri C. K. Padmanabhan
Shri Tathagat Roy
Shri Shripad Yesso Naik
Shri Rampyare Pande
Shri Anant Nayak
Shri Prakash Mehta
Shri Vinod Tawde
Shri Amit Thakar
Shri Suresh Pujari
Shri R. Ramkrishna
Shri Om Prakash Kohli
Dr. Ramapati Ram Tripathi
Shri Ashok Khajuriya
Shri Mange Ram Garg
Shri Jagdish Mukhi

BJP National Executive

Special Invitees

Shri Padmanabh Acharya
Shri Sukumar Nambiyar
Shri Baldev Prakash Tandon
Shri Vijay Kapoor
Shri Arun Sathe
Shri Nand Kishor Garg
Dr. Vaman Acharya
Shri Jagdish Shettigar
Shri Alok Kumar
Shri Arun Adsad
Shri S. Sureshkumar
Shri C. S. Parcha
Shri Gajendra Chauhan
Smt. Anandiben Patel
Shri Amit Shah
Shri Kishansingh Sangwan
Shri Govind Karjal
Ramji Rishidev
Shri Banvarilal Purohit
Shri Haribhau Bagde
Shri Chaitanya Kashyap
Shri Hriday Narayan Dixit
Shri Tanveer Ahmed
Shri Rajesh Shah
Shri Rajendra Agrawal
Shri Bhupendra Thakur
Shri Harjit Singh Grewal
Shri Ravikant Garg
Shri Suvarn Saleriya
Col. Bainsala
Shri Siddharthanath Singh
Shri Uday Bhaskar Nayar
Smt. Kavita Khanna
Shri Amitabh Sinha
Shri Ashutosh Varshneya
Shri Ajay Sancheti

BJP Parliamentary Board

Shri Nitin Gadkari, Chairman
Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee
Shri Lal Krishna Advani
Dr. Murali Manohar Joshi
Shri Venkaiya Naidu
Shri Rajnath Singh
Smt. Sushma Swaraj
Shri Arun Jaitley
Shri Bal Apte
Shri Ananth Kumar (Secretary)
Shri Thavarchand Gehlot
Shri Ram Lal


Labouring to keep alive
March 18, 2010

First Published: 23:08 IST(18/3/2010)
Last Updated: 23:10 IST(18/3/2010)

When it comes to infusing our laws with the finest principles
possible, India has no parallel. It’s when we come to implementing
these laws that we find many a slip between the proverbial cup and
the lip. Perhaps most deceptive of them all is India’s labour and
industrial practices. Blessed — or, if one looks at it with a
different perspective, cursed — with large deposits of iron ore,
mining is big business in the district of West Singhbhum in Jharkhand.
With the demand for iron ore increasing to fuel national industrial
development, a negative correlation to the length of people’s lives
and health index has become increasingly noticeable. Thousands of
mineworkers, including young boys and girls, suffer from siderosis, a
lung disorder that is caused by prolonged exposure to red (mining)
dust. The lifespan of these workers, who have no or minimal protective
gear, in this region is a shocking 40-45 years. In the meantime, in
21st century India’s national capital New Delhi, a committee appointed
by the Delhi High Court has found workers at Commonwealth Games-
related construction sites not being paid minimum wages and, in many
cases, being made to work overtime for no extra remuneration. Their
living conditions are appalling and in many cases they are bereft of
any sanitation facilities.

In both semi-urban and urban cases, we are dealing with serf-like
conditions while on paper we are chugging along a First World
trajectory. Laws are being openly flouted with the State turning a
blind eye and seemingly only concerned that ‘the work’ is done. Some,
like Jharkhand deputy chief minister, prefer to put such ‘chalta hai’
issues on the backburner (he has asked for a report). That the working
conditions of miners is appalling in this country, more so if the
mines are illegal and that many of the workers don’t work with
protective gear is an old story. What should be a new story if India
is to protect itself from charges of being uncaring towards its own
people is the implementation of laws.

Whenever Indian workers are mistreated abroad, especially in the Gulf
States, we spare no effort in criticising — and rightly so — foreign
governments. But the conditions here are, in many cases, no better. As
job opportunities shrink in rural India and a construction boom takes
place all across, more labourers will enter the cities. This is a
labour class that needs basic protection and policies relating to
special target groups such as women and child labour. There was a time
when labour unions held the nation’s development to ransom. We can’t
now have a callous State holding the lives and livelihood of our
workers hostage in the name of progress.


Face The Nation: Varun no match for Rahul

Published on Wed, Mar 17, 2010 at 23:21, Updated on Thu, Mar 18, 2010
at 00:50 in Politics section

ANALYSIS: Experts discuss the Gandhi vs Gandhi politics on Face The

The (Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has unveiled its new list of office
bearers and the list includes Varun Gandhi. Varun Gandhi, first time
MP from Pilibhit, is best known for his inflammatory pro-Hindutva
speeches during the general elections last year, speeches for which he
was jailed under the National Security Act. Now the BJP has ended his
isolation within the BJP and made Varun an office bearer with the rank
of secretary. CNN-IBN on Face The Nation asked: Can Varun Gandhi
compete with Rahul Gandhi?

Congress, BSP trying to trap Varun: Rajnath

Published on Wed, Apr 01, 2009 at 13:14, Updated on Wed, Apr 01, 2009
at 13:43 in Politics section

RALLYING FOR VARUN: Rajnath Singh said that the BJP was firmly
standing behind Varun Gandhi.

Raipur: Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) President Rajnath Singh on
Wednesday asserted that Varun Gandhi was being "politically and
legally" supported by the party. He accused the Congress and Bahujan
Samaj Party (BSP) of "exploiting" the National Security Act (NSA) to
"trap" the BJP nominee in Pilibhit in the Lok Sabha polls.

"What is happening with Varun Gandhi is unfortunate. He is being
harassed and the BJP condemns it," Rajnath Singh said at a press
conference in Raipur.

The 'other' Gandhi, the BJP nominee from the Utar Pradesh Lok Sabha
seat, is now in jail on charges of vilifying Muslims in his campaign

"The information I have been getting from Varun Gandhi's secretary is
very disturbing. The episode is a shame for the nation. The BSP and
Congress are trying to trap him," Rajnath Singh said.

"I wanted to personally meet Varun Gandhi but he is jailed in Uttar
Pradesh and I am campaigning in other states. So I have asked Venkaiah
Naidu to meet him and express the party's support. The BJP is
politically and legally rallying behind Varun Gandhi," the BJP
President said.

Varun on D-gang hitlist, moved to Etah jail

Trailing Varun Gandhi: From Pilibhit to Etah

"His detention under the NSA is shameful. It is the joint act of the
Congress and BSP. Where do they want to lead the country?" asked
Rajnath Singh.

The Uttar Pradesh government had on Sunday invoked the NSA against
Varun Gandhi, the BJP's Lok Sabha candidate from the seat held earlier
by his mother Maneka Gandhi, for his reported hate speeches and mob
violence during his arrest on Saturday.

"The Congress and BSP have created an Emergency-like situation by
exploiting the NSA. Varun Gandhi has no criminal record," said the BJP

For reasons of security, Varun Gandhi was shifted from the prison in
Pilibhit to a jail in Uttar Pradesh's Etah town at around 1:30 hrs IST
on Wednesday.

"There is a threat to Varun Gandhi's life. The centre, Uttar Pradesh
government and Election Commission should take note of this and ensure
foolproof security for him," said Rajnath Singh.

"The Congress and BSP have crossed all limits to gain political
mileage. They are playing with fire. The BJP will not remain quiet,"
he added.


BJP, Cong may stun SP, BSP; due to Gandhis
Pallavi Ghosh / CNN-IBN

Published on Sat, May 02, 2009 at 01:06, Updated on Sat, May 02, 2009
at 09:20 in Politics section

New Delhi: After three phases of polling, it appears the Congress and
the BJP may well be doing better than expected in the key state of
Uttar Pradesh with the potential losers being the SP and the BSP.

So has Rahul Gandhi's “go it alone” policy and BJP’s Hindutva slant
clicked? Ground reports suggest so. Muslims, having turned their back
on the Congress after the Babri demolition, are doing a rethink after
Mulayam embraced Kalyan Singh.

The good news for BJP is that Brahmins are tiring of Mayawati's social
engineering which has now begun targeting the Muslims.

It was Rahul's idea to walk it alone in the crucial state despite
having taken the Samajwadi support during the trust vote. But a bitter
SP thinks Rahul's romance with this idea will be shortlived.

There are smiles on BJP faces, having once boasted of big names from
the state, the party was groping for a foothold. Now, after three
phases of polling, the Hindutva strategy, which was not overplayed
except in Pilibhit, may have clicked.

And as the Congress and the BJP prepare for the last two phases, it
will be Gandhi versus Gandhi as Rahul and Varun take each other on.
The national parties are relying on the same family tree to reap a
harvest in Uttar Pradesh.


Six from state get pride of place in Team Gadkari
Express News Service

Posted: Wednesday, Mar 17, 2010 at 0233 hrs

With six of its leaders being given prominent place in the 121-member
national committee of the BJP, the party’s Uttar Pradesh unit has
certainly managed to find a good place in national president Nitin
Gadkari’s team.

Out of the 13 vice-presidents, three are from the state — Kalraj
Mishra, former national general secretaries Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi and
Vinay Katiyar. Among the 15 secretaries in Team Gadkari, three are
again from UP — former Bulandshaher MP Ashok Pradhan, former Bareilly
MP Santosh Gangwar and Pilibhit MP Varun Gandhi. Out of the six
official spokespersons, one is from the state — Ramnath Kovind, who
represents the party’s Dalit face.

While Naqvi is one of the prominent Muslim faces from the state,
Katiyar is a firebrand leader and Mishra a veteran. Among the
secretaries too, Santosh Gangwar is a six-time MP and a former Union
minister. After his defeat in the 2009 Lok Sabha elections, the party
was said to be looking to suitably place him at the national level.

Ashok Pradhan was one of the primary reasons for former chief minister
Kalyan Singh to leave the BJP and is said to have a good base in
Bulandshahr and surrounding districts. And at a time when Singh is
building the base of his new party in this area, Pradhan being lifted
to secretary’s post is certainly strategic.

Varun Gandhi, a first-time MP from Pilibhit and son of Maneka Gandhi,
is the party’s youth face not just in UP but also, on the national
chart. And together, the trio will represent western UP, where the
party is trying to regain grounds with its ally Rashtriya Lok Dal
drifting away.

Gadkari has also given 33 per cent of the posts to women, thus
becoming the first party in the country to give reservation to women
in their organisation. Here too, Uttar Pradesh has been given a “fair
share” with Aonla MP Maneka Gandhi, Mahila Morcha president Sarla
Singh and Saadhvi Niranjana Jyoti being made members of the national
executive. “It is good that even women leaders from UP have been
inducted in the committee. The state has potential and these women
will prove it,” said Vinay Katiyar.

Apart from these “cream” posts, many other leaders from the state have
also found a place in the team. These include Atal Bihari Vajpayee,
Murli Manohar Joshi, Rajnath Singh, Maneka Gandhi, Hukum Singh, Satpal
Malik, Rajnath Singh, Yogi Adityanath, Keshari Nath Tripathi and Lalji
Tandon as members, Hriday Narain Dixit as special invitee and Om
Prakash Singh and Nepal Singh as legislature leaders.

The party’s state unit has thanked Gadkari for giving representation
to UP. State BJP vice-president H N Dixit, who has also been inducted
as a special invitee, said that by including 34 leaders from UP,
Gadkari has shown his trust in the state unit.

“These leaders will certainly strengthen not just state campaigns, but
also national campaigns,” he added.

It is also expected that more faces from Uttar Pradesh will find a
place in the national scene, as the convenors of different cells and
Morcha presidents will be announced in the days to come.

Comments (1) |

Im-mature Varun
By: Ganesh Singh | 17-Mar-2010

Gadkari ji wants to please every one. But if you want to strengthen
your party, you will have to take some tough decisions. you were gr8
in saying that party and his policies makes people and not vice versa
but at present situation you are again doing the same thing. Including
immature persons like Varun Gandhi in your team shows to which level
you are going to please others. Varun has won because of the gr8 work
done by his mother Manekaji not because of his controversial speeches.
I dont know why RSS is intersted in projecting Varun as youth face.
Did they want to pick someone only from elite people of BJP. Can't
they pick some leaders from ABVP as youth face. If they really lack so
they must work with their ground workers to find out someone instead
of proposing Varun.

Gadkari's inclusive act may open old fissures in BJP
Nistula Hebbar / DNA
Wednesday, March 17, 2010 0:45 IST

New Delhi: Nitin Gadkari was the answer of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak
Sangh (RSS) to the leadership crisis in the Bharatiya Janata Party
(BJP), driven listless by debilitating factionalism and ego clashes
not long ago. After three months as BJP president, Gadkari had a task
on hand: To give the party a sense of direction. As he came out with
his list of office-bearers on Tuesday, the jury was still out.

The BJP president’s list of 121 office-bearers is a blend of youth and
experience, Hindutva hardliners and doves, and several other
conflicting strains in the party. However, if a team is supposed to be
a statement of intent, Gadkari’s is not one. At best, it reflects his
inclusive approach and his seriousness to promote third and fourth
generations of leaders.

The new BJP team has 13 vice-presidents, 10 general secretaries, 15
secretaries and one treasurer. The party also announced its 81-member
national executive. While several faces have made their debut — actor
Hema Malini as vice-president, and Varun Gandhi, Vani Tripathi, Smriti
Irani and Arti Mehra as secretaries — there is a feeling that many
older faces have been unduly rewarded.

Gadkari’s new team was being closely watched in the context of
factionalism in the party and the RSS’s demands.

Despite a disastrous record as party president, senior leader Rajnath
Singh has managed to get key posts for his people. Three general
secretaries — Thawarchand Gehlot, Narendra Singh Tomar and Vijay Goel
— owe loyalty to him. This means Singh would continue to have a say
under the new dispensation.
In the parliamentary board, the most important body of the party, LK
Advani holds sway.

Except for Rajnath Singh, Murli Manohar Joshi and Thawarchand Gehlot,
all other members — Sushma Swaraj, Arun Jaitley and parliamentary
board secretary Ananth Kumar — are Advani loyalists. The arrangement
might also open a can of worms for Gadkari.

While RSS nominees like Varun Gandhi, Muralidhar Rao and Tarun Vijay
have been accommodated, it was expected that Rao would get a better
position. Gadkari, who is trying to project a soft image of himself,
had to accommodate hardliners like Vinay Katiyar to please the mother

The biggest disappointment to those expecting Gadkari’s list to be a
departure from the past was the absence of a Muslim face in any
effective party position. While Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi and Najma
Heptullah have been made vice-presidents, a largely decorative post,
Bhagalpur MP Shahnawaz Hussain, who was tipped to be general secretary
in this team, was adjusted as one of the spokespersons. No Muslim
finds a place in the party’s parliamentary board either.

The list appeared a little skewed in favour of one state and against
some others. For example, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh appeared very
well represented, with the former getting one vice-president in Hema
Malini, three secretaries and the party treasurer Piyush Goel. Out of
the 10 general secretaries, two — Thawarchand Gehlot and Narendra
Singh Tomar — are from Madhya Pradesh.

“We cannot help but compare this to Karnataka’s case, which is the
party’s first government in the south, and apart from Ananth Kumar,
who has always found space at the centre, only Vijayshankar from the
state has been made a member of the national executive,” said a senior

Women have found ample space in the new team. With 40 out of 121
members being women, the party has kept its promise of 33% quota for
them in organisational posts.

The party’s chief spokesperson and newly appointed Ravi Shankar
described the team as a blend of the young and the old. What it might,
however, do is end the ceasefire in the party and give fresh impetus
to the party’s many discontented elements.


Orissa deploys force to prevent Togadia's Kandhamal visit
Friday, March 19, 2010 17:18 IST

Phulbani (Orissa): In the face of VHP's international secretary
general, Pravin Togadia's proposed visit to Kandhamal in Orissa this
evening defying ban, the district administration has deployed police
and a magistrate at the entry point to the riot-hit town to prevent
him, official sources said.

The district administration has also imposed prohibitory orders under
section 144 of the CrPC to stop Togadia and other members of the VHP
from visiting the town, additional district magistrate
(ADM),Kandhamal, Arnanchal Das said.

The VHP leader had yesterday challeged the state government to arrest
him as he was all set to defy the ban order. "I will enter to
Kandhamal along with 100 sadhus," Togadia said.

The district administration is also contemplating steps to seal road
at Madhapur, the entry point to Kandhamal district.

Kandhamal witnessed widespread riot from August 2008 till October 2009
following the killing of VHP leader Lakhsmananda Saraswati.


Togadia to defy Orissa govt's ban on his visit to Kandhamal
Thursday, March 18, 2010 23:10 IST

Bhubaneswar: Defying the Orissa government's ban on his proposed visit
to Kandhamal, VHP leader Pravin Togadia today announced his plan to
forcibly enter into the communally sensitive district tomorrow.

"I will go to Kandhamal along with 100 sadhus as per prior programme,"
Togadia told reporters after addressing a public meeting in Nuapada

The VHP's firebrand leader also challenged the Naveen Patnaik
government to arrest him.

"I am ready to be arrested than succumbing to the state government's
undemocratic decision", he said adding that it was not possible for
him and the VHP to cancel the programme.

"While the state government spread red carpet to welcome the European
diplomats to Kandhamal, it is not proper to clamp ban on the entry of
a Hindu leader," he said.

The administration of Kandhamal imposed prohibitory order under
section 144 of the CrPC at many sensitive places.

"If Togadia or any other person try to defy the ban, action would be
taken in accordance with the law of the land," additional
superintendent of police (ASP), Kandhamal, CR Das said.

Das said the district administration would not tolerate if any one
tried to disturb peace in the area.


BJP cautions Orissa govt over ban on Pravin Togadia's Kandhamal visit
Wednesday, March 17, 2010 22:39 IST

Bhubaneshwar: Terming the decision to ban the visit of the VHP leader
Pravin Togadia to Kandhamal district as 'whimisical', the BJP today
warned that the Orissa government would be reponsible if communal
harmony was disturbed at any place over the issue.

MF Husain accepting Qatar nationality victory for Hindus: Pravin
Nitin Gadkari offers to rebuild Babri Masjid
"Chief minister Naveen Patnaik will be held reponsible if communal
tension Arises in Kandhamal and other parts of the state over the
government's whimisical decision," a statement issued by the state BJP

The saffron party's reaction came a day after the Kandhamal district
administration denied permission to Togadia to enter Kandhamal
district, which had witnessed riots last year and the year before.

"While the government offered a red carpet welcome to diplomats from
nine European countries, there is no point in putting a ban on
Togadia's visit," party's vice-president Ashok Sahu said.

The firebrand VHP leader was scheduled to visit Kandhamal on March 19
and spend a night in Phulbani town.

Togadia's three-day Orissa visit would start from tomorrow, state VHP
general secretary Gouri Prasad Rath said.


...and I am Sid Harth
Sid Harth
2010-03-19 17:28:32 UTC
Volume 26 - Issue 26 :: Dec. 19, 2009-Jan. 01, 2010
from the publishers of THE HINDU

Circular reasoning

The author loses sight of the possibility that the decline of religion
is indeed the long-term trend in modern industrial societies.

Meera Nanda’s writing occupies a distinctive intellectual niche in the
academic and media discourse on the nature and practice of secularism
in India. In a major book, Prophets Facing Backward, and in a number
of academic papers, essays and media articles (and two short
collections of essays), she has brought to bear a perspective on this
question that distinguishes her work from a wide variety of other
writers and scholars engaged with this theme.

Her work so far has been marked by the special attention she has paid
to the relationship between science and secularism in the Indian
context. Going beyond the limitations of the arguments over the
Nehruvian vision of the link between secularism and scientific temper,
she has drawn attention to the much larger role of science in the
debate between secularists on the one hand and Hindu communalism on
the other. In Meera Nanda’s account, the ideological machinery of
Hindu communalism in the 20th century has drawn sustenance from a more
pervasive and widespread neo-Hinduism, central to whose world view is
the idea that Hinduism provides a uniquely “scientific” perspective in
the spiritual quest. While all fundamentalisms have some form of
exceptionalism as part of their ideological foundations, Hindutva’s
particular brand arises from this allegedly unique “scientific” nature
of Hinduism as compared with all other religions.

Meera Nanda has argued convincingly that it is the widespread
acceptance, overtly or otherwise, of this brand of Hindu
exceptionalism, even by those who were in many other respects in the
secular camp, that rendered Indian secularism vulnerable to attack
even before a full-scale attack was mounted on it by a resurgent
Hindutva in the late 1980s. Meera Nanda has argued, again
convincingly, that all modern trends in Hinduism, given their tendency
for an uncritical acceptance of this notion of Hindu exceptionalism,
render themselves vulnerable to being co-opted into the ranks of
Hindutva. She has provided an engaging account in Prophets Facing
Backward of the different stratagems that neo-Hinduism adopts in the
pursuit of the “scientificity” of Hinduism, often on the basis of
loose pseudo-scientific analogies between the language of science and
the vocabulary of Hinduism. The contemporary brand of Indian pseudo-
science that is actively championed by Hindutva, an Indian parallel as
it were to the well-known link between evangelical Christianity and
the American brand of pseudo-science, is in Meera Nanda’s view rooted
in this aspect of neo-Hinduism. In her short book titled The
Ecological Wrongs of the Religious Right, she has explored the
particular case of the neo-Hindu and Hindutva version of religion-
inspired pseudo-science in the realms of biology and ecology.

In her latest work, The God Market, Meera Nanda turns to explore a
somewhat different aspect of this link between contemporary Hinduism,
the professed secular nature of the Indian state, and Hindutva. The
focus here, in her own words, is on the “changing trends in popular
Hinduism”, and the overall aim is to describe how “modern Hindus are
taking their gods with them into the brave new world and how Hindu
institutions are making use of the new opportunities opened up by
neoliberalism and globalisation”.

The crux of the argument in the book is that there is a causal
connection between economic reforms and the rise of popular Hindu
religiosity. Meera Nanda argues that economic reform, while
encouraging a “neoliberal market economy [sic]”, is also “boosting the
demand and supply for religious services in India’s God market”, and
the progressively greater embedding of a new Hindu religiosity in
everyday life, in both public and private spheres, is aided by the new
political economy. With the withdrawal of the Nehruvian state from the
social sector, a new state-temple-corporate complex is emerging to
fill the space as a consequence of the state actively seeking
partnership with the private sector and the Hindu establishment. The
rising tide of popular religiosity among the Hindu middle classes in
the era of liberalisation is a consequence of this religiosity being
deliberately cultivated by an “emerging state-temple-corporate complex
that is replacing the more secular public institutions of the
Nehruvian era”. This rising tide of popular Hindu religiosity
continues to feed the forces of Hindutva, assisting among other things
in the routine conflation of the domain of the national with the
domain of Hinduism.

The idea that globalisation is in some way intimately connected with,
or is even perhaps one of the drivers of, the many fundamentalisms
that we see in the world today is an idea that has respectable
patronage, including, among others, the eminent historian Romila
Thapar. In the Indian context, it has been widely noted that the
challenge to the Nehruvian vision of secularism and scientific temper
has risen in the same era as the era of economic reform and the right-
ward shift in Indian foreign policy, away from the vision of India as
the leader of the non-aligned world towards a vision of India as a
global player aligned strategically with the United States and the
developed world. In opposition to the view that the Sangh Parivar is
somehow anti-globalisation and that self-reliance is somehow equally a
Parivar slogan (a view aided by the activities and attitudes of the
Swadeshi Jagran Manch, a Parivar outfit), commentators on the Left
have argued that Hindutva is no less pro-economic reform and that it
is equally at home with liberalisation and globalisation.
Nevertheless, few have argued for a causal nexus between globalisation
and the rise of popular Hindu religiosity as closely as Meera Nanda,
or shown the two to be as directly knit as she portrays in this new


Much of the book appears to be actually devoted to arguing the much
weaker proposition that contemporary Hindu institutions are actively
utilising the opportunities provided by the modern world to further
their cause. One may argue that this is a somewhat obvious proposition
with a wealth of examples, which can be picked even from casual
observation, to back it up. Religious preaching or fundamentalist
propaganda can reach out much further in the era of instant
communication. Cable or satellite television broadcasts provide many
opportunities that are utilised by all manner of religious or
fundamentalist organisations. A wide variety of Hindu institutions and
neo-Hindu cults, ranging from the religious trust and administration
associated with the temples at Tirupati and Tirumala to the
organisations associated with religious personalities such as Sai Baba
or Mata Amritanandamayi, run educational institutions and even modern,
officially recognised universities. Hindu organisations and cults
administer a range of charities and organisations dealing with health
and medicine. Hindu organisations have proliferated around the world
and have struck especially strong roots where there is a numerically
significant and well-heeled Indian diaspora. The diaspora followers of
Hindu organisations are also an important source of funds, as well as
prestige and visibility, for Hindu and Hindutva organisations. After
all, what credibility or oomph would a guru or swamiji possess without
at least a small retinue of non-resident Indians and preferably

Meera Nanda covers much of this kind of ground with many apt
illustrations in the second, third and fourth chapters of her book.
One may certainly agree with her in the characterisation that she
offers of the three significant dimensions of contemporary popular
Hindu religiosity, namely the invention of new rituals, the
gentrification of the gods and the booming guru culture. Indeed, much
of the characterisation is based on scholarly work available on the
subject. The existence of a booming guru culture and its links to
Hindutva is of course somewhat obvious.

However, it is arguable whether these examples really lay a basis for
her claims of the emergence of a state-temple-corporate complex. It is
certainly true that the Indian state has increasingly weakened secular
credentials after the rise of Hindutva and the success of Hindutva-
related political forces in being elected to govern both at the Centre
and in the States. Much has been written, including by Meera Nanda
herself, regarding the attempted de-secularisation of government
consequent to the electoral victories of the Bharatiya Janata Party
(BJP), especially at the Centre. The Sangh Parivar penetration of the
government was a major issue in the period of BJP rule, but a timid
United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government refused resolutely to
“detoxify” (to use the late Harkishen Singh Surjeet’s fine phrase)
government institutions, especially in the educational sector, which
was a prime Parivar target.

It is also true that corporate India, despite some initial misgivings,
has learnt to live peaceably with Hindutva. BJP-ruled States have been
no less eager to roll out the red carpet for the captains of industry
both from home and abroad. Several major corporate houses also have a
long record of involvement in charitable work relating to religious
institutions. Corporate houses have demonstrated their willingness to
put secularism on the back burner and prioritise their short-term
economic and financial interests (as with the house of Tatas and the
Modi government).

What is unconvincing is the overarching claim that these examples
point to the emergence of something that merits the rather grand
appellation of a “state-temple-corporate” complex. Indeed, corporate
houses are uncomfortable with a militant Hindutva that disturbs law
and order and stable governance and were certainly more than satisfied
with the return of the UPA to power. Many institutions of the Indian
state are willing to act and do act to protect secular values at
critical moments. The critical issue here is to recognise the
ambivalence of the state and the corporate sector in relation to
secularism and not to one-sidedly use as evidence only their non-
secular or anti-secular actions. Regrettably, in the author’s “take no
prisoners” style of argument, there is little room to understand or
explore this ambivalence. Either the state is secular in full measure
in the classical sense of the term or it must necessarily be
considered entirely anti-secular.

In the event, the author herself can identify only two areas where
this complex [sic] is significant, the first being education and the
second, tourism. Even in these two sectors, the claim that the state
and the private sector are working together to promote Hinduism seems
less than credible. It is certainly true that the increasing
privatisation of education is also utilised by Hindutva-related
organisations to set up their own institutions, like numerous others.
However, Meera Nanda’s claim that what the BJP government could not
establish by way of Hindu-centrism of education is being accomplished
by privatisation requires more evidence than is presented in the

Many would agree with Meera Nanda’s view that secular education is a
public good that the state ought to provide to all its citizens
without throwing them at the mercy of faith-based or cult-based
institutions. But to proceed from the relative absence of state-run
educational institutions and the ideological space that this affords
Hindutva to the claim that “economic globalisation and neoliberal
reforms have created the material and ideological conditions in which
a popular and ritualistic Hindu religiosity is growing” is a leap that
seems unwarranted.


Birla Mandir in New Delhi, illuminated on the occasion of Janmashtami
on August 14.

The argument is even thinner in the case of tourism, where the
author’s argument is based on the state’s, and occasionally corporate
houses’, support for religious tourism. Even this reviewer, who is no
votary of religious pilgrimages, is constrained to point out that
tourism in India, untouched by the religious inclination, is a modern
construct. For the newly rich as well as those of the poor and middle
classes who have small disposable surpluses, religious pilgrimage is
likely to be the first form of tourism. In another direction,
occasions for the mass display of popular religiosity such as the
Kumbh Mela certainly call for the intervention of the government in
the interest of common safety and security. To take all instances of
government regulation of religious tourism uncritically together and
to read into it the emergence of a state-temple-corporate complex does
not seem to aid a critical understanding of the link between popular
religiosity and secularism. It is of course true that religious
pilgrimage sites are happy hunting grounds for Hindutva groups to
further their ideological campaign, and specific issues relating to
some popular pilgrimage sites such as the Amarnath caves can certainly
provide grist to the Hindutva mill.

Popular religiosity is a complex phenomenon, especially in the
presence of many ideological forces and undercurrents in a society in
a state of transition, even if not rapid transformation. It is a
phenomenon that has many layers to it, as activists and scholars on
the issue of communalism have come to recognise across the country.
The book unfortunately displays little inclination to engage carefully
with this literature. Perhaps in the author’s perception such theories
do not belong to the class of “the most cutting-edge social theories
about globalisation and the resurgence of religion” that she promises
the reader in the introductory chapter.

Given the thinness of the author’s evidence relative to the weight of
the theoretical conclusions that she wishes to draw, it is
unsurprising that the theoretical considerations in the book are among
its weakest and most unconvincing sections. The first chapter on
globalisation covers ground that would be quite familiar to most of
the author’s likely audience in India. It is a chapter that leaves one
with the impression that the book is really meant for a non-Indian
audience. But it is in the last chapter that the insufficiency of the
theoretical perspective that Meera Nanda brings to bear on the problem
is most evident as the author showers a series of “cutting-edge social
theories” on an unwary reader.

In substance, the author is in sympathy with the perspective, most
notably espoused by the sociologist Peter L. Berger in his later work,
that the secular project has essentially failed. Berger famously
recanted in 1999 his earlier vision of the inevitable decline of
religion, arguing that the supernatural has not lost its plausibility
in the modern world. While Meera Nanda believes that this is
applicable to India, she disagrees with Berger’s argument that this
persistence of religion lies in the economic fact of the undermining
of life’s certainties for the majority of the population and the
appropriation of secular values by the rich. She, quite correctly,
points to the fact that contrary to what Berger suggests, popular
religiosity in India has also significantly risen among those who have
benefited enormously from economic reform and that popular religiosity
grips both the well-to-do and the poor.

Of course, in transposing Berger’s argument to India, Meera Nanda
(along with Berger) loses sight of the possibility that this
resurgence of religion could well be a short-lived phenomenon and that
the decline of religion is indeed the long-term trend in modern
industrial societies.


For the subsequent part of her argument the author moves on,
approvingly, to what she calls the “neoliberal” perspective on
religion, the next in her shopping list of theories. This is indeed
curious because while she has always been dismissive of the Marxist
view of religion, labelling it as reductionist, she turns now to a
view that fully merits the label. In this demand-supply view of
religion, espoused by Rodney Stark and his academic collaborators,
there is indeed no room for the notion of secularisation. Religion
always exists, so the argument runs, because there is a need, or a
“demand”, for it. Whether it will be satisfied or not is a question of
the “supply” of appropriate religions that are efficacious in
responding to it. In this view, secularisation is an illusion created
by the lack of appropriate supply to meet the demand for religion over
brief historical periods. Social facts such as the fall of church
attendance and overt religious observance do not mean the progress of
secularisation as the persistence of personal belief points to a
“potential demand” that is not being met by existing religious


It is from this perspective that the author formulates the proposition
mentioned at the outset of this article, namely, that it is the
neoliberal market economy following globalisation that is boosting the
demand and supply for religious services in India’s God market. The
rationale for this proposition is completely unclear as she appears to
conflate the application of a demand-supply or market perspective on
religion with the nature of religiosity in an era where economic
policy is dominated by the market perspective.

But what is even stranger about the turn that her argument takes is
that, in this demand-supply perspective, the weakly secular character
of the Indian state is indeed a virtue that has led to greater
religious plurality, as evidenced by the wide variety of cults and
sects and religions in India. How then does the author square the
circle, reconciling her use of the neoliberal perspective on religion
after having railed against Hindutva and upbraided the Indian state
for having forsaken secularism? There is indeed no direct answer that
the author provides. All she can offer the curious reader is the
somewhat feeble response that indeed a pure market for religion would
not be problematic, but it is the unfortunate extension of sacrality
to the realm of non-sacral entitites like the nation that is the
source of the problem. The circularity of her reasoning and argument
appears entirely to escape the notice of the author.

The book ends with an appeal for the creation in India of meaningful
secular spaces, where people may interact with each other without
reference to religious identities. Praiseworthy as this statement
undoubtedly is, it is small consolation for the interested reader who,
having followed the author into the blind alley of the demise of
secularisation and its abolition in the neoliberal perspective, is
left wondering where Indian society would find the resources for such
a transformation.

Meera Nanda’s work, as we have remarked earlier, is marked by a strong
tendency to ignore the multi-sided and often contradictory character
of social phenomena. While her perspective has helped shed light on
the social, intellectual and cultural resources that Hindutva can
mobilise, she has rarely been able to throw similar light on the
impulses for secularism in Indian society. One reason for this,
undoubtedly, lies in her resolute unwillingness to consider atheism as
an ally of secularism. She has always been insistent that movements
that are atheist miss the point about the need of the masses for
“meaning” in their lives, which can be met only by religion. That this
“meaning” could also be provided by the advance of a secular
imagination and the retreat of religion is not a prospect that she is
willing to consider.

Another reason lies in her view of ideological transformation purely
as an act of the mind without reference to any social and economic
preconditions for such a transformation. More fundamentally, Meera
Nanda has never reckoned with the possibility that any understanding
of religion in contemporary India needs to grasp the reality of the
incomplete modernisation of Indian society, rooted in the development
of capitalism in an era when it has essentially lost its critical
ideological impulse.

Meera Nanda’s passion for secularism will undoubtedly be shared by
many readers in India and elsewhere, and the many observations that
she has provided on various aspects of the Hindutva communal project
in Indian society are useful and important. Yet, regrettably, she has
little to offer in terms of a way forward from the current scenario
towards a more secular social order except rhetorical calls for a
meaningful, limited secularisation of society.


Volume 18 - Issue 01, Jan. 06 - 19, 2001
India's National Magazine
from the publishers of THE HINDU

Outsider as enemy
The politics of rewriting history in India.

This is the text of a presentation made at a round table on the topic
of 'The Rewriting of History: Intellectual Freedom and Contemporary
Politics in South Asia', organised as a part of the International
Conference of North African and Asian Scholars (ICANAS) in Montreal
held from August 27 to September 1.

REWRITING of history is a continuous process into which the historian
brings to bear new methodological or ideological insights or employs a
new analytical frame drawn upon hitherto unknown facts. The
historians' craft, the French historian, Marc Bloch, whose work on
feudal society is considered a classic, has reminded us, is rooted in
a method specific to history as a discipline, most of which has
evolved through philosophical engagements and empirical investigations
during the last several centuries. No methodology which the historian
invokes in pursuit of the knowledge of the past is really valid unless
it respects the method of the discipline. Even when methodologies
fundamentally differ, they share certain common grounds, which
constitute the fiel d of the historian's craft. Notwithstanding the
present scepticism about the possible engagement with history, a
strict adherence to the method of the discipline is observed in all
generally accepted forms of reconstruction of the past. A departure
from such norms of the discipline tends to erase the distinction
between myth and history, which the forces of the Hindu rightwing,
actively supported by the present government, are seeking to achieve.

The makeshift temple that was erected at Ayodhya after the demolition
of the Babri Masjid on December 6, 1992. The organising principle of
the politics of the Ram Janmabhoomi temple was not only the
privileging of faith over reason, but also the ident ification of an
enemy who acted against the religious interests of Hindus.

The distinction is important, despite the undeniable connection
between history and myth. Although elements which constitute myth are
not verifiable like historical facts, myths do represent reality even
if symbolically and metaphorically. Myths are esse ntially illusory
representations of phenomena and as such do not help discover the
historicity of events and by the very nature of representation they
tend to mask the reality. Yet, there are no myths in which reality is
not embedded in some form, be the y origin, explanatory or
legitimatory myths.1 This integral connection between myth and history
facilitates the transmutation of the latter into the former and
through that change, the existing historical consciousness in society.
The rewritin g of history the Sangh Parivar has undertaken with the
connivance and collaboration of the government is essentially an
attempt at communal mythification, which lends ideological support and
legitimacy to the politics of cultural nationalism.

History as communal ideology

The communal interpretation of history has a fairly long tradition, at
least going back to the colonial times. The history of the subjected
that the colonial administrators and ideologues wrote, either as a
part of their intellectual curiosity or as a po litical mission,
essentially took a religious view of the past. Although James Mill's
periodisation of Indian history into Hindu and Muslim periods is
generally pointed out as an example of this colonial view, almost
every aspect of the social, cultural and political life was
incorporated into this religious schema. This view has had an abiding
influence on Indian historiography, with a large number of Indian
historians of vastly different ideological persuasions rather
uncritically internalising this i nterpretation. Thus the history of
India is seen through a series of stereotypes rooted in religious
identity. No aspect of society or polity has escaped this religious
view, be it social tensions, political battles or cultural
differences. Such an inter pretation of history has been a part of the
textbooks, both of school and college, for a long time, moulding the
historical consciousness of society and in turn the social
perspectives and behaviour of several generations. This divisive
notion of history was one of the several ideological weapons that
colonialism invoked to construct its legitimacy.

In the Hindu communal worldview and politics, the religious
interpretation of history has an entirely different import, even if it
shares much of the colonial assumptions. Unlike the colonial history
which mainly emphasises social divisions, despite invo king the
tyranny of the Yavanas and the Muslims, its focus is more on social
antagonism and political hostility, which differentiates the Hindu
communal from the colonial communal. The antagonism and hostility
encoded in the interpretative structure of t he former, which
identifies the 'outsider' as enemy, turn history into an ideology of
communalism. The politics of Ramjanmabhoomi temple is a good example
of the mediation of such history in the making of popular historical
consciousness. The organising principle of this politics was not only
the privileging of faith over reason, but also the identification of
an enemy who acted against the religious interests of the Hindus.

Among the variety of factors that define the relationship between
communalism and revivalism in India, history plays a central role. The
revivalist ideas were inherent in the social and religious reform
movements of the 19th century, circumscribed as the y were within the
boundaries of caste and religious communities. Yet, revivalism as an
influential tendency emerged only during the second half of the 19th
century. Bankim Chandra Chatterji, Dayananda Saraswathi and Swami
Vivekananda are generally consid ered the early protagonists of this
tendency. Inward looking in their intellectual orientation and engaged
in revitalising Hinduism and Hindu community, they tried to privilege
many ideas and institutions from the ancient past. However, their
perspective was communitarian rather than communal. Antagonism against
other religions and communities was not a part of their perspective.
Even when they were critical of other religions as in the case of
Dayanand, their attempt was to explore religious truth thro ugh a
comparative understanding of different religions. Dayanand after all
was as trenchant a critique of the practices of Sanatani Hinduism as
of other religions. So were Bankim and Vivekananda. These early
articulations of revivalist tendencies were no t rooted in relation to
the 'other' in terms of a community within society.2 It was more in
the nature of internal revitalisation and consolidation in the context
of colonial domination. Communalism, on the other hand, though it
subsumed several elements of revivalism, is firmly anchored on a
hatred of the 'outsider' who, it is held, is mainly responsible for
the distortions and eventual loss of the indigenous civilisational
achievements. Notwithstanding this distinction, revivalism transformed
itself into communalism which, among other things, was made possible
by the m ediation of communal history, which cast the 'outsider' in
the role of the enemy. The inward looking communitarian perspective,
which mainly characterised revivalism, merged with a suspicion
andhostility of 'the other'. This process is facilitated by a r
eligious interpretation of history which by locating the 'outsider' as
the cause of the decline in the fortunes of the community forms the
ideology of communalism.

The concept of the 'outsider', variously described as the Mleccha,
Yavana and Turuska, has been part of the social consciousness for a
long time. They were communities from both within and outside India
and their defining elements were primarily social a nd cultural. The
language, food habits, dress and a variety of other practices
underlined the otherness. The Aryans considered the indigenous
population as Mleccha and at a later stage those who came from
outside, like the Huns and the Muslims, were inco rporated into this
category. Although the otherness was often a source of conflict, both
inter and intra-community, the relationship with the other was not
characterised by continuous hostility and conflict.3 That the
relationship with the out sider in the past was based on
irreconcilable political interests is a construction of communalism
influenced more by political interests rather than by social reality.

Outsider as enemy

The demographic composition of India which reflects the coming
together of a variety of groups - racial, linguistic and ethnic -
during the course of the last two millennia raises the question who
the 'outsider' is in Indian society. According to the Ant hropological
Survey of India there are 4,635 identifiable communities, diverse in
biological traits, dress, language, forms of worship, occupation, food
habits and kinship patterns. Most of these communities have a mixed
ancestry and it is now almost imp ossible to identify their roots.
They could be traced to Proto-Austroloid, Palio-Mediterranean,
Caucasian, Negroid and Mongoloid. The racial component is also quite
varied, drawing from almost every stock in the world. This plurality
is also reflected in the number of languages in use. Apart from
thousands of dialects there are as many as 325 languages and 25
scripts derived from various linguistic families - Indo-Aryan, Tibeto-
Burman, Dravidian, Austro-Asiatic, Andamese, Semitic, Indo-Iranian,
Sino-Tib etan, Indo-European and so on. The Indian society, as a
consequence, is a social and cultural amalgam with many of its
constitutive elements loosing their specific identity, at any rate
none existing in its initial pure form.4

The Hindu communal view of history strives to negate this historical
process by making a distinction between the original inhabitants of
the land and those who settled later. According to this view, all
those who migrated to India and their descendants a re foreigners and
therefore not part of the nation. Thus the Muslims, Christians and
Parsis, who are not indigenous to India and hence outsiders should
either 'Indianise' themselves or live like 'second class citizens
without any rights or privileges'.5 This naturally raises the question
who the original inhabitants were. Were the Aryans, to whom the upper
caste Hindus trace their lineage, indigenous to India? The opinion of
scholars of ancient history, based on archaeological and linguistic
evid ence, has been that Aryans had migrated to India, in all
probability in small groups, over a period of time.6 If this view is
correct, the assumption that the non-Hindu is the only 'outsider'
becomes untenable and the historical rationale for the Hindu nation
basedon Vedic lineage also becomes suspect. The present attempt to
invent the indigenous origins of Aryans, which is supported more by
speculation rather than tangible evidence, is rooted in an anxiety to
overcome this paradox. That the Hindutva historians are not hesitant
to fabricate evidence to prove their contention has been ably
demonstrated by Professor Michael Witzel and Professor Steve Farmer in
their recent article on the Harappan seal.7

The distinction between the indigenous and the 'outsider' is also
sought on the basis of the pure and the impure. The claim to purity,
traced to the idyllic past uncontaminated by the intrusion of the
'outsider', is an essential ideology of religious fun damentalism. One
among the various indicators of this distinction is food habit: those
who ate flesh and those who did not. It is now claimed by the
ideologues of the Sangh Parivar that the Aryans did not partake of
beef, although copious evidence exists , both literary and
archaeological, to the contrary. After a survey of the evidence from
various excavations since 1921, the doyen of Indian archaeologists,
H.D. Sankalia, has opined that "the attitude towards cow slaughter
shows that until the beginning of the Christian era the cow/ox were
regularly slaughtered for food and for the sacrifice etc., in spite of
the preaching of Ahimsa by Mahavira and the Buddha. Beef eating,
however, did decrease owing to these preachings, but never died out
completely". 8 The literary evidence from the Vedic and later periods
are also plenty. Panini, for instance, calls a guest a Goghna, which
means one for whom a cow is killed.9 Even Vivekananda refers to
instances of Rama and Krishna drinking wine and eating meat and Sita
offering meat, rice and wine to the river goddess Ganga in Ramayana
and Mahabharata. In fact, he considered the meat-eating habits of the
Aryans a virtue and attributed the decline of the Hindus in modern
times to the departure from it!10 Yet, the slaughter of cow and eating
beef are now invoked as signs of otherness in a bid to distinguish the
indigenous from the 'outsider'.

Apart from defiling the sacredness and purity of indigenous life, the
communal history also attributes to the 'outsider' a politically
disruptive role. The political history of India, in the account given
by Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, the progenitor of th e concept of
Hindutva, is a story of foreign invasions and Hindu resistance.
According to him, there were six major invasions of India, which were
successfully met by the Hindus. He characterises them as six 'glorious
epochs' in which the valour and brav ery of the Hindus overcame the
external threat. These 'glorious epochs' are the periods of
Chandragupta and Pushyamitra when the Greek invasions were repelled,
followed by those of Vikramaditya and Yashodharma who defeated the
Shakas and the Huns respect ively. In imagining the Hindu nation as a
historically constituted political entity, this religious view of the
conflict with the 'outsider' is a major factor.11

The consolidation and mobilisation of the Hindus are the main
objectives of the communal construction of history of which Savarkar
set a worthy example. Towards this political end, a systematic
attempt, embracing both the academic and popular histories, has been
on the anvil for quite some time, particularly during the last two
decades. The main thrust of this effort has been to further the
communal consciousness of history. Whenever the Bharatiya Janata Party
(BJP) or its earlier incarnation, the Jan S angh, was able to gain
access to power they have not spared any effort to promote Hinduised
history at the expense of secular history. In 1977, at the instance of
the Rashtriya Swyamsevak Sangh (RSS) the government of the Janata
Party, of which the Jan S angh was a partner, tried to withdraw the
history books published by the National Council for Educational
Research and Training (NCERT) on the ground that they were not
sufficiently Hindu in their orientation. In more recent times, the BJP
governments in Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Delhi have
revised their textbooks to introduce a communal view of the past,
highlighting the achievements and contribution of the Hindus and
undermining or misrepresenting the role of others. The present gov
ernment at the Centre, led by the BJP, has tried to lend support to
this effort by saffronising research institutions such as the Indian
Council for Historical Research (ICHR), Indian Council for Social
Science Research (ICSSR), Centre for Advanced Studi es (CAS) and so
on. Given the tradition of secular historical writing, these state
interventions to further the influence of communal history have
elicited strong resistance from the fraternity of professional
historians, as they have realised the danger the communal
mythification poses to the discipline of history.

Simultaneously, several initiatives have been taken to transform the
popular historical consciousness in favour of the communal. Among them
the setting up of Bharatiya Itihas Sankalan Samiti, with four hundred
branches all over the country, is particular ly significant. Its brief
is to prepare the history of all districts keeping as the ideal the
history written by P.N. Oak, whose main contribution is the
identification of every medieval monument as a Hindu structure.
Incidentally, Oak recently approache d the Supreme Court of India with
a request to declare the Taj Mahal a Hindu building. The Supreme Court
has indeed dismissed the plea stating that Oak seems to have 'a bee in
his bonnet'. But it has not deterred the Archaeological Survey of
India (ASI), under the influence of the Sangh Parivar, to look for a
Hindu temple under every medieval monument! The latest excavation is
at Fatehpur Sikri, a monument constructed by the Mughal Emperor Akbar,
from the vicinity of which Jain idols have been unearthed and promptly
identified as disfigured by Akbar. The present chairman of the ICHR,
B.R. Grover, who has distinguished himself by the statement that the
Babri Masjid had collapsed and not destroyed, saw even the hand of
Auragazeb in this disfigurement! Th e archaeologists of the Sangh
Parivar who are eager to excavate the site of every medieval monument
are totally indifferent to the danger the excavations might spell to
these heritage sites.

The Sangh Parivar, with the support of the government if possible and
without it if necessary, has been engaged in the construction and
dissemination of mythified histories which would help further its
religious politics. Among the innumerable examples o f such
mythification, the 'histories' of Ayodhya circulated during the
Ramjanmabhoomi campaign through political and religious networks,
using audio, video and print materials, are the most instructive. In
fact, mythified histories of Ayodhya considerabl y helped to propel
the campaign. The mythification mainly served two objectives. Firstly,
to prove the deliberate and hostile acts of the 'outsider' and
secondly, to invoke the tradition of resistance and struggle the
Hindus had waged since the 16th cent ury in defence of their faith.
These histories foregrounded many a myth as established 'facts' of
history which later found their way into the textbooks in schools in
BJP-ruled States and those run by the RSS.

In these 'histories' the desecration and demolition of temples by the
medieval Muslim rulers form a central theme, substantiating thereby
the iconoclastic beliefs as well as the religious fanaticism of the
followers of Islam. Such an interpretation, howe ver, overlooks two
significant facts of medieval history. First, as Richard Eaton has
shown in a recent essay, well before the coming of the Muslims to
India temples had been the sites for the contestation of kingly
authority. The early medieval history abounds in instances of
desecration and destruction of temples of their political adversaries
by Hindu rulers. The Cholas, the Pallavas, the Chalukyas, the Palas
and many others had indulged in this 'irreligious' act.12 Secondly,
most of the desecration and destruction took place when "Indo-Muslim
States expanded into the domains of non-Muslim rulers". Once the
territory was conquered and integrated into the kingdom, such
expression of 'fanaticism' rarely occurred. Tipu Sultan, for instance,
desecrated temples during his invasion of Malabar, but after the
conquest he gave generous land grants to several of them. Also he is
not known to have desecrated temples in his own kingdom. On the
contrary, when a Hindu religious institution like the Sringeri Mat was
plundered and destroyed by a Maratha chieftain, Tipu Sultan had met
the expenses for its reconstruction. Similarly the Mughal rulers
generally 'treated the temples lying within their sovereign domain as
state propert y' and 'undertook to protect both the physical
structures and their Brahmin functionaries'.13 Such an attitude
informs even the policy of Aurangazeb, as evident from his orders to
his officials to protect the Brahmins of Benares. The departure from
this general policy, however, occurred either at the time of war or
rebellion as in the case of th e desecration of temples in Orcha by
Shajahan and in Mathura and Benares by Aurangazeb. Thus political
exigencies rather than a 'theology of iconoclasm' were the driving
force behind the destruction and desecration of temples. Yet, the
communal interpret ation of history adopts a purely religious view to
stigmatise the present-day Muslims - described as Baber ke Santan
(children of Baber) - as enemy.

The stigmatisation of the 'outsider' as enemy is not an end in itself.
Its purpose is mainly political: to recall to memory a heroic
tradition of resistance against the 'outsider' and thus to stir the
Hindus out of their lethargy and, in the provocative words of Sadhvi
Ritambara, from their impotence, so that they consolidate and realise
their power. The communal 'histories' of Ayodhya have, therefore,
invented the myth of the heroic resistance to the demolition of the
temple in the birth place of Shri Ramachandra and the later efforts to
reclaim it. A pamphlet entitled, "Shri Ram Janmabhoomi Ka Rakt Ranjit
Itihas" (The Blood Stained History of Shri Ram Janmabhoomi), published
by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) claimed that at the time of the de
molition of the temple, 1,74,000 Hindus sacrificed their lives
fighting against the Muslims. The pamphlet then goes on to record the
77 battles fought thereafter to reclaim the temple in which 3,50,000
Hindus had laid down their lives. The reference to t he exact numbers
involved gives certain historical veracity, which though imaginary
facilitates the social acceptance of myth as history.14

This is not to argue that myths, though lacking historicity, are
'hollow tales' without any element of historical truth.15 The origin
of the myth of 77 battles, for instance, can be traced to an actual
historical incident, even if it was not l inked with the
Ramjanmabhoomi temple: a fight between the Muslims and the Hindus in
1855 over a temple located near the Babri Masjid and dedicated to
Hanuman.16 Interestingly, this battle was waged by a Muslim faqir who
claimed the existence o f a mosque below this temple. During the
course of the inquiry into this incident, conducted by an official of
the Nawab of Awad and the British Resident, the local inhabitants did
not refer either to the existence of the Ramjanmabhoomi temple or
conflic ts in the past between the Hindus and the Muslims over the
possession of the mosque.17 The myths about the Mandir was therefore a
later construction, in all probability an outcome of property disputes
and political interests.

Larger Context

The rewriting of history in which the Sangh Parivar is currently
engaged is not internal to the movements within the discipline of
history. It is integral to a larger and long-term project aimed at
reordering the secular character that informed the educa tional and
cultural policies of independent India. Towards this end, the Sangh
Parivar has already undertaken several initiatives. Prominent among
them are the changes in the content of education, the organisation of
a parallel school system and the cont rol over cultural institutions.

In the field of education the University Grants Commission (UGC) and
the NCERT appear to be pursuing a communal agenda. The UGC is
reportedly working on a uniform syllabus for the country and as a part
of it is preparing to introduce courses on Vedic stu dies, astrology,
palmistry and Hindu rituals. A band of Hindu pandits armed with
university certificates will soon be available, particularly to non-
resident Indians, to conduct the rituals at the time of birth,
marriage and death! The only consolation i s that the Chairman of the
UGC promises to provide such academic service to non-Hindus also. It
appears that the concept of university is undergoing revolutionary
changes inspired by the swadeshi ideas advocated by the Minister for
Human Resource Development. The UGC also insists that all universities
and institutions under them be subjected to the recognition of the
National Accreditation Council. It is feared that such a
standardisation will undermine the autonomy of universities and thus
facil itate the introduction of a 'national' curriculum.

The preparation of a 'national' curriculum framework for school
education is also the urgent task undertaken by the NCERT. The
discussion document released by the NCERT clearly underlines a change
from secular to religious education. Most of the suggesti ons in this
report have a revivalist and chauvinistic ring about them. It
advocates an indigenous curriculum which would 'celebrate the ideas of
native thinkers' among whom non-Hindus are conspicuous by absence. One
of the aims of the new curriculum is ' to inculcate and maintain a
sense of pride in being an Indian through a conscious understanding of
the growth of Indian civilisation and also contributions of India to
the world civilisations in its thoughts, actions and deeds'. The
external influences o n the shaping of the Indian civilisation are
completely overlooked. The concept of secularism itself is sought to
be given a religious meaning by suggesting that sarvadharma samabhava
would facilitate 'the view that religion in its basic form (dev oid of
dogma, myth and ritual) would draw younger generations to basic moral
and spiritual values'.18

Both the UGC and the NCERT appear to draw inspiration from the scheme
prepared by an RSS education outfit, Vidhya Bharati, and presented by
the Human Resource Development Minister to the conference of State
Ministers of Education in 1998. In the name of 'Indianising,
nationalising and spiritualising' education, the attempt then was to
replace secular education with an indigenous system rooted in Hindu
knowledge. To achieve that end, Sanskrit was proposed as a compulsory
subject in schools and the induct ion of the valuable heritage of the
Vedas and Upanishads in the curriculum from the primary to the higher
level, including the vocational stream. Besides these, Indian culture,
conceived in Hindu religious terms, was to form an integral part of
all cours es.19 The incorporation of Sanskrit and Indian culture into
the curriculum is in itself not an undesirable step, but that it
privileged the Hindu system of knowledge to the exclusion of others
amounts to an infringement of the tenets of a secular state. Althou gh
this scheme had to be abandoned due to secular opposition, it gave a
foretaste of the future, if and when the Sangh Parivar gained
sufficient political clout.

The attempt to Hinduise the system of education had, however, begun
much before the BJP gained access to government power. As early as
1942 the RSS had initiated steps to organise its own educational
network. Since then the number of schools run by the P arivar has
steadily increased. It is estimated that now there are about 70,000
schools under its management. And the VHP has recently announced its
intention to further expand its educational activities, particularly
in tribal areas. With the financial a nd administrative assistance
proffered by the present government, a parallel system of Hindu
education is being brought into existence, under the guidance of an
all-India organisation called the Vidya Bharati Shiksha Sanstan, set
up in 1978. It was to he lp this system that the Minister for Human
Resource Development recently mooted the idea of extending the
educational privileges so far enjoyed by the minorities under the
Articles 29 and 30 of the Constitution to all others.20 The rather
well-organised attacks on Christians, who own a fairly large number of
educational institutions, are also rooted, at least partially, in this
interest, as it is not possible to capture the educational sector
without eliminating the Christians.

The curriculum of these schools is unambiguously Hindu and militantly
communal, be it related to history, politics or literature. The
textbooks, particularly of history, prescribed in these schools are so
oriented to lend legitimacy to communal politics by stigmatising the
'outsider' and valorising the Hindu. In the process, history is turned
into myth which tends to inculcate in the young minds a false sense of
religious pride and hostility to the members of other denominations.
Not only the entire cul tural tradition is appropriated as Hindu, the
past is represented as a saga of Hindu valour and bravery. In fact,
the defeat of almost every Hindu ruler at the hands of an 'outsider'
is reinterpreted as a victory. A good example of such mythification is
an account of the war between Muhammad Ghori and Prithviraj Chauhan.
In the second battle of Tarain, which Prithviraj lost, he was captured
and executed by Ghori. This historical event is described in one of
the textbooks as follows: "Muhammad Ghori kill ed lakhs of people and
converted Vishwnath temple and Bhagawan Krishna's birthplace into
mosques. He took Prithviraj to Gazni, but Prithviraj killed him there
with one arrow and Muhammad Ghori's corpse lay on the feet of
Prithviraj as if narrating the ta le of his sins."21

The main objective of the rewriting of history is to impart certain
historical legitimacy to communal politics. The way the Indian
national movement is represented in the textbooks used in RSS-
administered schools and the desperate attempt of the ICHR to suppress
the volumes of Towards Freedom are among the several ongoing efforts
in this direction. It is common knowledge that the RSS hardly had any
role in the national movement, except as active collaborators of
colonialism. Yet, the Sangh Pariv ar is keen on appropriating its
legacy, as it would give a much-needed national legitimacy. The
history of the national movement is therefore being rewritten to
establish that the RSS had indeed played a positive role in the anti-
colonial struggle. This requires the projection of its leaders as
freedom fighters on the one hand and the suppression of their actual
role, on the other. In such rewritten history incorporated in all
textbooks of Vidhya Bharati, the founder of the RSS, Keshav Baliram
Hedgewar, figures as a great leader of the anti-colonial struggle,
much ahead of Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru.22 In a textbook
prescribed by the Uttar Pradesh government, out of about 20 pages
devoted to the Freedom movement, three pages take up the contribution
of Hedgewar, who is credited with the leadership of the agitation
against the partition of Bengal.23

The successful projection of such a positive image of the RSS and its
leaders would depend upon the suppression or elimination of counter
factual evidence. That appears to be the brief of the ICHR, as evident
from the attempt to withdraw the volumes of < I>Towards Freedom. The
published volumes of Towards Freedom do not credit the RSS with any
role in the anti-colonial struggle. Instead there is evidence in them,
in the form of letters and speeches of its leaders, about its active
collaboratio n with the British colonial rule. The ICHR, now firmly
under the control of the RSS, is understandably eager to prevent the
publication of further volumes and withdraw the existing ones, as
they, being documentary histories, would expose the claims of th e
RSS. The knowledge about the role of the RSS, to which the public will
have access through these volumes, is likely to undermine the
nationalist credentials of the Sangh Parivar. It is this fear of
history, which has prompted the ICHR to make the rathe r desperate
move to withdraw the volumes from the Press. In the process all
institutional procedures have been violated and the academic freedom
of the authors has been infringed.

What the ICHR has tried to do rather clumsily and secretly - the
authors who were commissioned to edit the volumes were not even
informed, let alone consulted - is not an isolated incident, but part
of an anti-secular, anti-democratic rightwing agenda wh ich the
present government with the active participation of various arms of
the Sangh Parivar has been pursuing. Towards this end, secular opinion
has been systematically eliminated from all research institutions and
cultural organisations funded by the government and replaced by the
activists or loyalists of the RSS. There is also well-planned and
systematic vilification of secular intelligentsia, as evident from the
false and malicious accusations recently levelled against historians
by Arun Shourie, an RSS ideologue and a Minister in the present

The freedom of expression is particularly under surveillance in the
cultural field. No effort is spared to suppress the long cherished and
historically evolved plural and secular traditions. The artists and
cultural activists who follow such traditions h ave been under severe
strain, often faced with threats and even physical attacks. Some time
back a panel on Ramayana, based on Jataka tales, displayed in an
exhibition on Ayodhya mounted by a cultural organisation, SAHMAT, was
destroyed by the members of the Sangh Parivar. M.F. Husain's paintings
and Deepa Mehta's films have also aroused the ire of the Sangh Parivar
for alleged disrespect to Indian tradition. On the whole, there is a
tendency to control the intellectual and cultural life in conformity w
ith a fundamentalist view. In the way such a view is implemented,
irrationally and aggressively, there are unmistakable signs of fascist

The instrumentalist role of the rewriting of history currently being
promoted by the government and the Sangh Parivar for defining and
demarcating the nation as Hindu, imparts to it an essentially
political character. The stigmatisation of the 'outsider' as enemy
validated by historical experience lends the rationale for the
communal programme of marginalising, if not externalising, the members
of other denominations. Derivatively, it also legitimises the claim of
the 'indigenous' to the nation. The oth erness of 'outsider' therefore
serves as a signifier for internal consolidation and homogenisation.
To the early ideologues of communalism, such as V.D. Savarkar and M.S.
Golwalkar, the religious interpretation of history was the necessary
ideological gr oundwork for recovering the Hindu nation. The present
engagement of the communal forces with history is with no other intent
which, if succeeds, would unsettle the secular character of the
nation. Therefore the current debate about history in India is as much
about the integrity of the discipline as about the future well-being
of the country.

K.N. Panikkar is Professor of Modern History at the Centre for
Historical Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi.

1. Maurice Godellier, Perspectives in Marxist Anthropology, Cambridge,
1977, pp.207-09.

2. Tapan Roy Choudhry, Perceptions, Emotions, Sensibilities, New
Delhi, 1999 and John Zavos, The Emergence of Hindu Nationalism in
India, New Delhi, 2000.

3. Romila Thapar, 'The Image of the Barbarian in Early India' in
Ancient Indian Social History, New Delhi, 1998, pp.152-192; Aloka
Parasher, Mlecchas in Early India, New Delhi,1991 and Brajadulal
Chattopadhyaya, Representing the Other? Sanskrit Sources and the
Muslims, New Delhi, 1998.

4. K.S.Singh, People of India: An Introduction, New Delhi, 1995.

5. M.S.Golwalkar, We or our Nationhood Defined, Nagpur, 1947.

6. Romila Thapar, 'The Rgveda: Encapsulating Social Change' in
K.N.Panikkar et.al. (ed) The Making of History, New Delhi, 2000, pp.
11-40; R.S. Sharma, Advent of the Aryans in India, New Delhi, 1999
Shereen Ratnagar, End of the Great Har appan Tradition, New Delhi,

7. An advocate of this theory is a computer scientist based in North
America, N.S. Rajaram, who has authored two books, Aryan Invasion of
India (1993) and The Politics of History (1995). The arguments and
interpretations in these two books are found to be fictional and
historically unfounded. See Shereen Ratnagar, Revisionist at work: A
chauvinistic Inversion of the Aryan Invasion Theory, Frontline,
February 9,1996. More grievously Rajaram has been found faking
evidence by Michael Witzel, Wales Professor of Sanskrit at Harvard
University. For his findings and criticism see website,
http://www.Safarmer.com/horseseal/update.html (The authoritative
version of Witzel and Farmer's collaborative work on Rajaram's
supposed findings has b een published as a cover story in Frontline,
October 13, 2000.)

8. H.D. Sankalia, 'In History', Seminar, No. 93, May 1967, pp.12-16.
Also see Alan Heston, 'An Approach to the Sacred Cow of India',
Current Anthropology, Vol.12, No.2, April 1971 and Marvin Harris, 'The
Cultural Ecology of India's Sacred Cattle', Cultural Anthropology, Vol.
7, No. 1, February 1966.

9. P.V.Kane, History of the Dharma Shastras, Pune, 1975, Vol.ii, pp.

10. Complete Works of Vivekananda, Vol.V, Calcutta, 1966, pp.477-498.

11. Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, Six Glorious Epochs of Indian History,
Bombay, 1966.

12. Richard M. Eaton, 'Temple Desecration and Indo-Muslim States' in
Essays on Islam and Indian History, New Delhi, 2000.

13. Ibid.

14. K.N. Panikkar (ed.), The Concerned Indian's Guide to Communalism,
'Introduction', New Delhi, 1999, p.xiii.

15. Paul Veyne, Did the Greeks Believe in the Myth?, Chicago,1983.

16. K.N. Panikkar, 'An Overview' in S. Gopal (ed.) Anatomy of a
Confrontation: Babri Masjid-Ramjanmabhumi Issue, New Delhi, 1991.

17. The details of this incident and the report of the enquiry are
available in Foreign Political Consultation, No.34, 28 December 1855,
National Archives of India, New Delhi.

18. National Curriculum Framework for School Education - A Discussion
Document, NCERT, New Delhi, 2000, p.24.

19. 'Conference of State Education Ministers and Education
Secretaries, October 22-24, Agenda Papers, Annexure.

20. Ibid.

21. National Steering Committee on Textbook Evaluation:
Recommendations and Report, NCERT, p. 6, New Delhi, 1998.

22. See Sanskar Saurab Series published by the Bharatiya Shiksha
Samiti, Rajasthan.

23. National Steering Committee on Textbook Evaluation:
Recommendations and Report, NCERT, p.14


Volume 23 - Issue 01, Jan. 14 - 27, 2006
India's National Magazine
from the publishers of THE HINDU

A saffron assault abroad

The Hindu Right's attempts to rewrite school textbooks on India and
Hinduism in California meet with stiff resistance from renowned
historians and scholars in the U.S. and abroad.

THE connections between communalist political strategies and textbook
revisions were explored in detail in the media when the Bharatiya
Janata Party (BJP) went about changing the syllabus of the National
Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) and getting
school history textbooks rewritten while in government. But few would
imagine that the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS)-linked
organisations were in a position to put their stamp on school
textbooks in California in the United States. The partial success of
the "education" wings of the Hindu Swayamsewak Sangh in getting many
of their revisions approved by the Curriculum Commission (CC) of the
California State Board of Education has caused a virtual
"international scandal".

The State Board of Education, California, is currently engaged in
approving the history/social science textbooks for grades six to eight
in schools, an exercise undertaken periodically. The Hindu Education
Foundation and the Vedic Foundation (based in the U.S.) have used the
occasion to push through "corrections" in the textbooks approved.
Shiva Bajpai, who constituted the one-member ad hoc committee set up
by the Board, succeeded in getting virtually all the changes requested
by these organisations incorporated into the textbooks. Professor
Emeritus at California State University, Northridge, and a Hindutva-
leaning adviser to the Board, Bajpai was proposed as expert by the
Vedic Foundation. That the Hindutva groups have not had a walkover is
thanks to the vigilance and commitment of the many academics involved
in Indian studies all over the world. Intervention by Professors
Michael Witzel and Steve Farmer in the form of a letter, signed by 50
other scholars, presented at a public hearing on November 9, resulted
in the Board reversing its initial approval of the pro-Hindutva
changes. Prof. Witzel is a well-known Indologist and has often taken
up the cudgels against Hindutva ideologues such as David Frawley, N.S.
Rajaram and Konrad Elst in the West.

Witzel's letter, endorsed among others by renowned Indian historians
Romila Thapar, D.N. Jha and Shereen Ratnagar, to Ruth Green,
President, State Board of Education, California, on behalf of "world
specialists on ancient India", voicing "mainstream academic opinion in
India, Pakistan, the United States, Europe, Australia, Taiwan and
Japan" on the issue, is now part of a concerted campaign encompassing
well-known scholars and hundreds of teachers and parents in

These scholars make the important point that the "corrections"
proposed by the Hindu Right in the U.S. reflect political agendas
discriminatory to millions of people in India, especially the
minorities, `lower' castes, and women; and that such revisions have
already been debated thoroughly and rejected by academics and
progressive political opinion in India. Besides, they "do not reflect
the views of majority of the specialists on ancient Indian history,
nor of majority of the Hindus".

Asserting that "the proposed revisions are not of a scholarly, but of
a religious-political nature and are primarily promoted by Hindutva
supporters and non-specialist academics writing about issues far
outside their areas of expertise", the scholars have called on the
Board to "reject the demands by nationalist Hindu (Hindutva) groups".
From India, 12 historians have written to the CC to reject the changes
proposed by the RSS-linked organisations in the U.S.

Signatures opposing the sectarian changes have been pouring in by the
day and the Board, now alert to the issue, has constituted a new
Content Review Committee (among its members are Professors Witzel,
James Heitzman and Stanley Wolpert), which has put together a list of
recommendations that "allow for only such changes as meet the
standards of objective scholarship".

On the other side, the Hindu Education Foundation and the Vedic
Foundation protested the constitution of the Content Review Committee
and the inclusion of Witzel on it. They launched a campaign that the
"corrections" were incorporated through a proper procedure and claimed
that Witzel knew little about Hinduism and ancient Indian history.
They also asserted their right to represent Hindus in the U.S. and
their authority to decide what is the `authentic' depiction of
Hinduism and ancient Indian history.

Frantic mobilisation by Pranawa C. Deshmukh, a professor of physics at
the Indian Institute of Technology, Chennai, in support of the changes
suggested by the Vedic Foundation and the Hindu Education Foundation,
and the pressure of a host of organisations that constitute the
`parivar' in the U.S. resulted in many of the proposed changes in
textbooks getting the approval despite scholarly opinion being heavily
weighted against it.

The details of how this was achieved remind one of the way in which
RSS-sponsored revisions of textbooks were pushed through during the
BJP's tenure in power at the Centre. During the meeting for the
adoption of the recommendations of the Board by the CC in the course
of a public hearing on December 1 and 2, 2005, the members of the
Commission actually flouted the mandate of the Education Board. Of the
total 156 edits requested, the CC accepted 97 that conformed to what
the Hindutva organisations had proposed.

According to Witzel, "the proceedings of the CC meetings were highly
skewed, irregular and contravened the mandate given by the Board". The
Board had directed that the Commission approve only edits that
"improve the factual accuracy of materials". Instead, matters were so
arranged that several Commissioners had already left in the afternoon
of December 2, by the time this was voted on. Others abstained as they
did not know about the matter at hand (but with stacks of related
papers in front of them which they apparently had not read, including
the letter by more than 100 U.S. professors of Indian background and
others by groups of concerned Indian Americans). All were tired, and
one Commissioner, Stan Metzenberg, Professor of Biology at California
State University, Northridge, took the chance to push through
aggressively the Vedic Foundation's agenda. "The CC redefined their
mandate repeatedly, contravening the mandate of the Board that the
Commission should approve only edits that `improve the factual
accuracy of materials'; they allowed additional changes made from the
floor by Hindutvavadins to be inserted; they pushed through a
sectarian agenda that redefines Indian history and Hinduism," Witzel

The Hindu Education Foundation appreciatively quotes Metzenburg as
saying: "I've read the DNA research and there was no Aryan migration.
I believe the hard evidence of DNA more than I believe historians."
However, finally it had to be agreed as: "Some historians believe in
the theory of an Aryan migration." He insisted that "Hindus should at
least be able to recognise their own religion when they read these
textbooks". In short, the textbooks must reflect popular common sense
rather than strive to mould/challenge popular common sense on the
basis of objective historical facts or the gains of scientific

Witzel puts it thus: "California has been hijacked by a saffron
agenda, worse by a sectarian saffron agenda. In this case, a strident
Vaishnava one that excludes Shaiva, Devi, Tantric, Lingayat and other
forms of Hindu worship and Darshana... The new CA [California] history
textbooks will reflect that."

Going by the "corrections" approved, the word "murti" means "God" (the
CC agreed to the Hindu request to change "statue" to "deity"), the
translation of "brahman" is "God", and all Hindus believe in God whose
name is Bhagwan.

The "corrections" demanded by the Hindutva organisations are integral
to the Sangh Parivar's political agenda in India, and similar to what
the BJP government was trying to do with the NCERT syllabus and
textbooks in social sciences, particularly history.

For example, among the "corrections" suggested is a clear attempt to
deny the integrality of the caste system in ancient India; it was
proposed to delete the reference altogether in one textbook. In
another, it was proposed that the picture of an untouchable be
removed. In yet another book, a reference to caste system as part of
Aryan society was replaced by: "During Vedic times, people were
divided into different social groups (varnas) based on their capacity
to undertake a particular profession." Another reference to caste is
to read as: "A late hymn of the Rg Veda describes the
interrelationship and interdependence of the four social classes."

On women, it was suggested that the references to gender bias in
ancient India were incorrect and insulting to Hindu society. Therefore
the line, "Men had many more rights than women" was to be replaced by,
"Men had different duties (dharma) and rights than women. Many women
were among the sages to whom the Vedas were revealed."

In another textbook, the changes included a specific addition that
"the recent archaeological proofs are negating the Aryan invasion
theory. The new theory suggests that Aryans were not the outsiders".
Elsewhere: "They [Aryans] were part of a larger group of people
historians refer to as the Indo-Europeans" is replaced with the
statement: "Some historians believe the Aryans were part of a larger
group of people known as the Indo-Europeans." "The Vedas came to form
the major beliefs of the religion called Brahmanism" is replaced with:
"The Vedas constitute the source of Hinduism." Early Aryan religion is
to be replaced with references to early Hindu religion.

Still other corrections follow the familiar pattern of ante-dating the
Rg Veda, confusing dates of Indus and Harappa city-based civilisations
with the Vedic civilisation, conflating Brahmanical practices with
Hinduism, describing the Vedas as the source and basic texts of
Hinduism, denying the plurality of gods worshipped through history in
favour of one God in different forms, depicting sudras as "serving all
classes" and doing "labour-intensive work" rather than serving `upper'
castes and so on. The current Hindutva preoccupations such as
asserting the sacredness of cows, vegetarianism and the Saraswati
civilisation myth have also found their way into the textbooks.

Tolerance is shown as "usual" for the time of Asoka in ancient India;
the references to technology, science and mathematics in ancient India
have been modified to enable suitable glorification; and negative
aspects of society are either deleted or presented as cultural
specificities rather than as oppressive ones.

THE moves by the Hindu Right in the U.S. are no flash in the pan. The
web sites of two of the organisations spearheading the Hindutva
campaign - the Hindu Education Foundation and the Vedic Foundation -
expressly state the revision of school textbooks in the U.S. as part
of their political agenda. They regularly "interact" with State
Education Committees that define school curriculum, conduct seminars
and training programmes for teachers and "create resources" for
parents who "wish to provide such opportunities for educators in their
own areas". There are fora of all kinds offering entertainment,
educational services and social support to youth. Alternative social
networks through bhajan mandalis, yoga centres, discussion groups,
special programmes and publications devoted to children, answer the
yearnings for roots and culture among immigrants. The RSS-linked
organisations have penetrated all these and are creating new ones all
the time. The entire effort is part of the RSS' larger goal to
"educate" Hindu children brought up in the U.S. to be "good Hindus"
and to "learn the truth about Indian history and culture", and
ultimately to finance their "social work" in India.

Not long ago, citizens' groups in India and North America exposed the
nexus between funding of charities in the West and the hate campaigns
and the expansion of communal networks of the Sangh Parivar in India.
Infusing hatred directly or through the educational set-up is not as
easy in the U.S. as it is through the Vidya Bharati schools and the
Ekal Vidyalayas in India. The strategy of the Hindu Right is different
in the U.S. It does the next best thing: it creates innumerable social
networks where prejudices are nurtured and fascist solutions to
problems legitimised, and glories of ancient India and Hinduism rule
the roost.


Volume 16 - Issue 9, Apr. 24 - May. 07, 1999
India's National Magazine
from the publishers of THE HINDU

The DMK's turnabout

The circumstances surrounding the fall of the Vajpayee Government may
lead to a realignment of political forces in Tamil Nadu, where the
ruling DMK finds itself politically isolated.

in Chennai

EVEN as All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam general secretary
Jayalalitha helped push Vajpayee Government out of power, her
principal political rival in Tamil Nadu, Chief Minister and Dravida
Munnetra Kazhagam president M. Karunanidhi, stood politically isolated
from his erstwhile allies. Karunanidhi's gamble in deciding to support
the BJP-led Government in the vote of confidence, breaking ranks with
four allies - the Tamil Maanila Congress (TMC), the Communist Party of
India (Marxist), the Communist Party of India (CPI) and the Janata Dal
- failed.

Indeed, no party in Tamil Nadu has emerged with a creditable image
from the latest political battle. Clearly, it was not "national
security", as Jayalalitha claimed, but her personal agenda to get the
DMK Government dismissed and extricate herself from the corruption
cases she faces that in the end drove her to desert the BJP-led
Government. On the other hand, the DMK's volte-face and its voting
alongside the BJP made a mockery of its claims to upholding the
Dravidian legacy of combating communalism; Karunanidhi sought to
justify his decision by saying that "Jayalalitha's corruption is more
dangerous than communalism."

The TMC seems to have emerged relatively unscathed; the party made
known its stand opposing in equal measure the BJP's communalism and
the AIADMK's corruption. TMC president G.K. Moopanar did not yield to
pressure from the DMK, some other parties and film actor Rajnikant to
bail out the Vajpayee Government by voting in support of the
confidence motion or abstaining during the vote. Moopanar also
reportedly told Congress(I) president Sonia Gandhi and other
Congress(I) leaders that his party would not support a Congress(I)-led
Government in which the AIADMK was a partner.

Soon after the Vajpayee Government was voted out, Moopanar, in a clear
reference to the AIADMK, said: "Corrupt elements cannot be allowed to
go out of one door and re-enter the government through another door...
The TMC hopes that the Congress(I) will adhere to the principles
contained in the (Pachmarhi) declaration and that the new formation
will fight the twin evils of communalism and corruption."

Sources in the Left parties said that the DMK had placed "personal
interests above national interests" and had lost out eventually.
Informed sources in the TMC and the Left parties said that the DMK had
stood on prestige and that its actions were motivated by a desire to
see that Jayalalitha did not get the "credit" for toppling the
Vajpayee Government. A Left leader said: "If the DMK had joined us,
the credit would not have gone to Jayalalitha. She has accomplished
what she set out to do."

Karunanidhi shrugged off the defeat of the BJP-led Government, saying:
"In a democracy, victories and defeats are common... I do not want to
pretend that I do not feel sad about the defeat." He said the reason
for the defeat was the "magnanimity" of Lok Sabha Speaker G.M.C.
Balayogi in allowing Orissa Chief Minister Giridhar Gamang to vote on
the motion.

THE fall of the Vajpayee Government and the circumstances that led up
to it may lead to a realignment of political parties in Tamil Nadu.
The TMC, the CPI(M) and the CPI may part company with the DMK and
forge a new front, and the Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam
(MDMK) led by Vaiko, which was a constituent of the BJP-led coalition,
may join it. The Congress(I) and the AIADMK may formalise an alliance
and may be joined by the PMK led by Dr. S. Ramadoss.

When it became clear that the AIADMK was preparing to withdraw support
to the Vajpayee Government, the BJP set in motion efforts to win the
DMK's support. Union Home Minister L.K. Advani and Vajpayee spoke to
Karunanidhi on the phone on April 9 and 10 respectively and sought his
party's support. Informed sources in the BJP and the DMK said that
Karunanidhi told them that the DMK's ideology was opposed to that of
the BJP's Hindutva, and that in any case only the party executive
could take a decision.

The first indication that the DMK might strike out on its own came on
April 11, when newspersons asked Karunanidhi what strategy the DMK
would adopt in the light of the political developments in New Delhi.
Karunanidhi asked: "How can we be in a front in which Jayalalitha is a
part?" The DMK also came under pressure from the BJP, which pointed
out that over the past year the Prime Minister had not yielded to the
AIADMK's repeated demands for the dismissal of the Karunanidhi
Government. Vazhapadi K. Ramamurthi of the Tamizhaga Rajiv Congress
too spoke to Karunanidhi and told him that even if the DMK did not
support the BJP, it should do nothing that would assist Jayalalitha in
her efforts to topple the Government.

Even after the DMK indicated that it would go with the BJP, Moopanar
stuck to his stand. "We will always work against corruption and
communalism," he said. When Moopanar met Congress(I) leaders in the
first week of April, he put forward only one condition: a Congress(I)
government should not include the AIADMK.

DMK leaders Murasoli Maran, MP, and Health Minister Arcot N. Veerasamy
met Moopanar on April 12 in order to explain their party's stand. But
Moopanar made it clear that the TMC would have nothing to do with
either the AIADMK or the BJP and that it expected the DMK to take a
similar stand. No such assurance came from Maran and Veerasamy.

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister and DMK president M. Karunanidhi. His
gamble in deciding to spport the BJP-led Government in the vote of
confidence, breaking ranks with his party's allies in the State,

Jayalalitha left for New Delhi on April 12, ruling out the possibility
of a rapprochement with the BJP because Vajpayee and Advani had spoken
to Karunanidhi.

On April 13 the DMK executive met and passed a resolution which said
that since Jayalalitha posed "the biggest threat to the State and the
nation, the DMK will not support any formation in which Jayalalitha
found a place directly or indirectly." Karunanidhi summed up his
party's intention when he said: "Jayalalitha's corruption is a bigger
threat than communalism." The resolution added that Jayalalitha was
bent on toppling the Government not because she opposed communalism
but because she wanted to extricate herself from the corruption cases
she was facing. Besides, the "one and only item on her agenda" was to
get the DMK Government dismissed, it said.

The DMK's stand shocked the Left parties. State CPI secretary R.
Nallakannu and State CPI(M) secretary N. Sankariah issued a joint
statement asking the DMK to reconsider its stand and take "a political
position which will be firmly against the BJP Government."

When Frontline met Nallakannu and Sankariah separately, they assailed
the DMK line that "Jayalalitha's corruption is more dangerous than
communalism." They agreed that Jayalalitha was monumentally corrupt
and that she had tried to extricate herself from the corruption cases
against her and that the BJP had aided her in this. But, they noted,
the five parties in the DMK-led front in Tamil Nadu had fought this.
However, when the AIADMK had withdrawn its support to the Vajpayee
Government because of "internal contradictions" and the Government was
about to fall, the five parties should back that move, they said.
Jayalalitha's corruption could be tackled later, after the Government
fell, they reasoned.

TMC president G.K. Moopanar. The TMC seemed to have emerged
relatively unscathed from the latest round; the party made known its
stand opposing in equal measure the BJP's communalism and the AIADMK's

Sankariah said: "We will not protect anybody who is corrupt. The law
will take its own course."

Both Nallakannu and Sankariah squelched the DMK's fears that if the
Congress(I) formed a coalition government with the AIADMK as a
partner, the DMK Government would again be dismissed. Nallakannu said
that in the absence of a majority, the Congress(I) would not be able
to dismiss the DMK Government, and that in any case the Communist
parties would firmly oppose any such move. Nallakannu said that the
DMK's decision to support the BJP at this juncture "does not behove
Tamil Nadu's political background because the legacy of the Dravidian
parties is to oppose sectarian politics."

Informed sources said that Karunanidhi felt "insulted" that CPI(M)
general secretary Harkishan Singh Surjeet met Jayalalitha in Delhi on
April 14. CPI general secretary A.B. Bardhan too met her the next

Karunanidhi accused the CPI(M) and the CPI of initiating steps that
"certainly fragmented" the Third Front. He said: "I do not know what
prompted Mr. Surjeet to ignore the DMK and talk to Jayalalitha." He
wondered what had become of the assurances from West Bengal Chief
Minister Jyoti Basu and Surjeet that the DMK and the TMC were very
much a part of the Third Front and that a collective decision would be
taken. He accused the CPI(M) and the CPI of not consulting the DMK on
the fast-moving developments in New Delhi. He said he was sure that
the political parties which had lined up behind Jayalalitha now would
see her in her true colours at the appropriate time.

Jayalalitha with CPI general secretary A.B. Bardhan at Ajoy Bhavan,
the CPI headquarters, in New Delhi on April 15. The circumstances that
led up to the fall of the Vajpayee Government may lead to a
realignment of political parties in Tamil Nadu.

CPI(M) Polit Bureau member Sitaram Yechury refuted Karunanidhi's
allegation that he had not been consulted by the Left parties. He said
the Central and State leadership of the CPI(M) had been in constant
touch with the DMK. If the DMK wanted to change its position, the Left
should "not be used as an excuse," he said.

With the defeat of the Vajpayee Government, the DMK, which is without
friends, may face tough days ahead in the political arena. Karunanidhi
admitted as much when he said that the DMK had been isolated from the
Left parties. "But we will not be isolated from the people," he


Volume 27 - Issue 06 :: Mar. 13-26, 2010
from the publishers of THE HINDU

Artist’s alienation

Harassment by Hindutva fanatics and law enforcers made M.F. Husain
accept Qatari nationality.


THAT India’s pre-eminent artist, Maqbool Fida Husain, 94, had to
accept the citizenship of another country may well be the tragedy of
Indian secularism. On February 25, the Government of Qatar conferred
on him Qatari nationality, without his applying for the same.

Husain’s acquisition of Qatar’s citizenship will, in all probability,
raise questions about whether he can retain his Indian citizenship.
Under Section 9 of the Citizenship Act, 1955, any citizen of India who
voluntarily acquires the citizenship of another country shall, upon
such acquisition, cease to be a citizen of India. The key word here is
“voluntarily”. Therefore, when the Central government seeks to
determine whether he “voluntarily” acquired the citizenship of Qatar,
it may well consider the circumstances that left him with no choice,
apart from the obvious facts.

The story of Husain’s struggle for justice has to be traced to 1996,
when Hindutva forces were on the ascendant following their success in
electoral politics. In September 1996, an article by one Om Nagpal,
titled “Is he [Husain] an artist or a butcher?” appeared in Vichar
Mimansa, a monthly magazine in Hindi published from Bhopal. In the
article Husain’s depiction of the goddess Saraswati in the nude was
reproduced. The magazine’s editor, V.S. Vajpayee, had come across it
in the book Husain - Riding the Lightning by Dnyaneshwar Nadkarni.
Husain had drawn this in 1970.

Maharashtra’s then Minister for Culture and Shiv Sena leader Pramod
Navalkar, who came across newspaper reports of the article, and then
read the article, wrote to the Mumbai Police Commissioner informing
him of the material referred to in the article. The Mumbai Police
treated the letter as a complaint and registered a case on October 8,
1996, against Husain under Sections 153A (promoting enmity between
different groups on account of religion, etc.) and 295A (deliberate
and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings of any
class) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

These are provisions that cannot be invoked without the sanction of
the State government. The non-application of mind by the State
government, before granting sanction, thus sowed the seeds of bigotry.
Soon after, Bajrang Dal activists barged into the Herwitz gallery in
Ahmedabad’s famous Husain-Doshi Gufa art complex to destroy Husain’s
paintings. They ransacked the place and the damage was estimated at Rs.
1.5 crore. Damage was inflicted on all of Husain’s paintings,
including his depictions of the Buddha, Hanuman and Ganesha. The State
government’s reluctance to apprehend those responsible for the attack
encouraged a culture of impunity.

Artists in Mumbai, Delhi and Ahmedabad came out in a public expression
of solidarity with Husain. Husain, then in London, issued a statement
in which he said it was not his intention to hurt people’s feelings
with his art, but if he had, he regretted it.

Metaphoric art

Husain was born in a working class family of some means in Pandharpur,
Maharashtra. He intermittently attended the local college of arts in
Indore. At 17, he was apprenticed to a tailor; he also trained to
become a prayer leader. He moved to Mumbai in 1937 and lived for many
years in a slum. There he worked as an assistant to a billboard
painter, and then became a painter of signs himself. He also worked as
a furniture designer and as a toy maker. He painted determinedly
through all these phases.

His references to Indian culture are metaphoric. In fact, the
Saraswati sketch was really skeletal, an outline showing a woman as a
muse. It revealed Husain’s deft strokes. There was nothing in it that
could be called grotesque. As Rajeev Dhavan records in his book
Publish and be Damned: Censorship and Intolerance in India (Tulika
Books, 2008), it was the Vichar Mimansa headline calling Husain a
butcher that built up hatred against the painter and his works. In
fact, the publication should have been indicted for hate speech.

Since Vichar Mimansa was published from Madhya Pradesh, the
prosecutions should have been launched in that State. But there is no
legal bar to prosecute from any State where the publication was
distributed. This legal labyrinth prompted Hindutva forces to choose
Maharashtra, where the Shiv Sena-Bharatiya Janata Party was in power,
rather than Madhya Pradesh, which was then ruled by a Congress
government led by Digvijay Singh.

Artists and historians had then sought to expose the vacuousness of
the protests by the Hindutva fringe groups. They pointed out that the
walls of the Hoysala temples depict a variety of Saraswati images, all
nude. Nudity was never questioned in Indian art. Experiments of early
Indian artists were much more daring than Husain’s.


On May 1, 1998, Bajrang Dal activists forced their way into Husain’s
South Mumbai home and created mayhem. They were ostensibly provoked by
one of his works exhibited in New Delhi. They interpreted that the
painting depicted Sita perched on the tail of a flying Hanuman, both
in the nude. Husain had never given a caption to this painting, and
the Hindutvavadis gave a free rein to their imagination.

This time, as in 1996, Husain suggested setting up a three-member
committee – an art critic, a lawyer and a representative of the Vishwa
Hindu Parishad (VHP) – that could go through his entire collection. He
said he was prepared to destroy immediately any work that the
committee found objectionable.

But the VHP-Bajrang Dal combine could not be pacified by these
concessions which, to many of Husain’s admirers, seemed unwarranted.

In 2006, Husain was accused of painting a ‘Naked Bharat Mata’ (nude
Mother India). The painting was put up for auction by Apparao
Galleries of Chennai. The title Bharat Mata was given by the
auctioneer without reference to Husain. Husain again apologised and
withdrew the painting from the charity auction.


M.F. Husain at the inauguration of his exhibition "...and not only 88
of Husain" at the National Art Gallery in Mumbai in Janary 2004.

Although Husain apologised to stop the hate campaign, he was innocent
and had no intention of painting something profane.

The hate-mongers remained dissatisfied. It was then that Home Minister
Shivraj Patil instructed the police chiefs of Delhi and Mumbai to take
“appropriate action” against Husain on the basis of an intelligence
input that Husain’s Bharat Mata and other controversial paintings of
Hindu goddesses could spark communal trouble. Newspaper reports about
the May 2006 advisory shocked the artistic community.

The advisory was based on the Law Ministry’s review of about six
paintings by Husain. The Law Ministry had concluded that a sound case
had been made for the prosecution of Husain. The United Progressive
Alliance government, which now swears by its resolve to give
protection to Husain if he returns to India, has no explanation why it
responded the way it did in 2006.

Artists such as Vivan Sundaram, Ram Rahman, Shubha Mudgal, Arjun Dev,
K. Bikram Singh, S. Kalidas, Krishen Khanna and Rajen Prasad wrote to
Shivraj Patil on May 8, 2006, to withdraw immediately the advisory, if
it had been issued, as such an action had never been taken earlier
against a visual artist. “The implications of such a step are very
serious and strike at the very foundations of our democratic polity,”
they wrote. They pointed out to Patil that Husain’s work is a
celebration of the multi-cultural and multi-religious life of
independent India. Though a Muslim, Husain has done a series of
paintings celebrating the Ramayana, the Mahabharata and the
mythological traditions of other religions that have taken root in
India – such as Christianity, Judaism, Zoroastrianism as well as
Islam. He was nominated to the Rajya Sabha on this acclaim.

Meanwhile, death threats were issued, putting a price on Husain’s
head. Ashok Pandey, who claimed to be the president of the Hindu Law
Board, offered a Minister from Uttar Pradesh Rs.101 crore to kill
Husain in response to the Minister’s offer of Rs.51 crore to any
person who assassinated the Danish cartoonist who had insulted the

In Gujarat, Jashubhai Patel, who was earlier president of the BJP unit
in Mehsana district, announced that he would pay one kilogram of gold
to anyone who gouged out the eyes of Husain and cut off his right
thumb so that he would never be able to make paintings of Hindu gods
and goddesses. The Congress Minority Cell in Madhya Pradesh offered Rs.
11 lakh to any patriot who would chop off Husain’s hands because he
had hurt Hindu sentiments. The call was issued by Akhtar Baig, who was
vice-president of Madhya Pradesh Congress Committee in Indore.

If these threats dissuaded Husain from returning to India, he could
not be blamed for it. The police in these States did not take any
action against those who issued the threats despite their identity
having been revealed in the media. Such threats are covered under
Section 503 of the IPC (criminal intimidation), and punishment for
this offence under Section 506 is imprisonment up to seven years.

The same month, there was an exhibition of Husain’s paintings at Asia
House in London. A protest was organised by Arjun Malik of the Hindu
Human Rights Campaign against the exhibition and against the Japanese
firm Hitachi that had supplied plasma screens to the gallery for
better viewing. Asia House gallery succumbed to the pressure by
concluding the exhibition much before the scheduled date.

The controversy over the Bharat Mata painting was an invitation to
bigots to use legal means to harass Husain. In a sense, the legal
process itself was a punishment. A social worker filed a complaint
before the Judicial Magistrate, First Class, in Indore, who summoned
Husain. Husain feared that his life would be in danger in Indore if he
appeared before the magistrate. A bailable warrant was then issued
against Husain. Soon other complaints followed.

Typical of these complaints was that neither the complaint nor the
summoning order referred to any sanction granted by the Central or
State governments – a mandatory requirement under Section 196 of the
Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC). In a complaint registered in
Pandharpur, a non-existent provision, Section 501B IPC, was invoked on
the basis of which a non-bailable warrant of arrest was issued against
him by a lower court. The court directed the Kerala government to
present him in the Pandharpur court as and when he arrived in Kerala
to receive the Raja Ravi Varma Award for 2007. The basis of the
complaint was that Husain had hurt the sentiments of Hindus through
his painting of Bharat Mata. These multiple proceedings had the
chilling effect of distracting him from his obsession and love for
art. It also dissuaded him from returning to India from his self-
imposed exile in Dubai.

Landmark judgment

In December 2006, the Supreme Court directed transfer of all the
pending cases against him in Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Bihar to
Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate, Delhi. When the ACMM issued
a summons to Husain in three such cases, he filed a revision petition
in the Delhi High Court to quash the same.

Despite the ruling of the Delhi High Court on May 8, 2008, quashing
the summons, three cases are pending against him in the Sessions Court
at Patiala House in Delhi on virtually identical charges.

Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul delivered the landmark High Court judgment
in 2008. The essence of the judgment was that Husain’s Bharat Mata
painting is not obscene, as it is not lascivious and nor does it
appeal to prurient interests. The painting depicts India in a human
form, and the naked portrayal of a concept which has no particular
face does not qualify the as obscene, Justice Kaul reasoned. By way of
an abstract expression, Husain tried to elucidate the concept of a
nation in the form of a distressed woman; the aesthetic touch to the
painting dwarfs the so-called obscenity in the form of nudity, he
explained. He also disagreed with the view that the painting could
offend religious feelings.

The Supreme Court dismissed an appeal against this judgment. But three
more cases are yet to be disposed of at the Patiala House District
Court, New Delhi. In one case, a first information report (FIR) was
registered against Husain, and the court ordered a police
investigation, which has not yet been concluded. The remaining two
cases have been transferred from other States to Delhi. It is clear
that after Justice Kaul’s judgment, these cases too needed to be
quashed by the District Court. The Delhi High Court quashed one such
case in 2009. The pendency of these cases made the prospect of his
arrest and harassment real if he returned to India.

Even though Home Minister P. Chidambaram promises full security to
Husain if he returns to India, the threat of vandalism against his
paintings still looms large. Organisers of any exhibition of modern
art, let alone art summits, now tend to exclude Husain’s paintings
from it.

Akhil Sibal, Husain’s advocate in Delhi, said: “The Government of
India has been a silent spectator to his harassment for 15 years. It
has taken neither any clear position nor any unequivocal step to
secure him, and those who support him, a harassment-free environment.
Let the government not be held hostage and paralysed by the shrill
voices of extremists.”

In the case decided by Justice Kaul, the Additional Solicitor General
while assisting the Court promised that he would advise the Central
government to take steps by way of appropriate legislative amendments
to prevent harassment of artists, sculptors, authors, film-makers and
so on in different creative fields. Justice Kaul hoped that this
aspect would get the attention it deserves and the legislature in its
wisdom would examine the feasibility of possible changes in law.

Justice Kaul had made it clear that the criminal justice system should
not be invoked as a convenient recourse to ventilate any and all
objections to an artistic work. The system, he warned, can cause
serious violations of the rights of people in the creative fields, and
this represents a growing intolerance and divisiveness within society
and poses a threat to the democratic fabric of the nation. Therefore,
he said, the magistrates must scrutinise each case in order to prevent
vexatious and frivolous cases from being filed and ensure that it is
not used as a tool to harass the accused. Rather than make empty
promises to Husain to guarantee his security if he returns to India,
the government may well initiate concrete action on the reforms
suggested by Justice Kaul.


Volume 27 - Issue 06 :: Mar. 13-26, 2010
from the publishers of THE HINDU

Shock and shame

Artist Vivan Sundaram.

IN a recent interview to NDTV, Maqbool Fida Husain, the first global
modernist painter from India, made his decision to accept Qatari
citizenship sound like a practical imperative. He said since he had
found sponsors in London (United Kingdom) and Qatar to complete his
three projects on ancient civilisations, he would have to become a non-
resident Indian (NRI) because of the excessive tax structure
prevailing in India. He justified the decision by saying that even
film directors such as Roman Polanski and Ingmar Bergman had to leave
their countries.

He said: “Had I been 40, I would have fought them [attackers of his
art] tooth and nail but here I want to focus only on my work. I don’t
want any disturbance. I need all comforts and facilities to the
maximum.” He added: “These boundaries are only political boundaries.
The visual arts especially is a universal language; you can be
anywhere in the world but the work that you do has a strong link to
5,000 years of our great Indian culture.”

However, most artists in India expressed shame, sadness and shock at
Husain being pushed to the edge. They recalled Husain’s life and the
implications of his enforced exile.

The renowned Hindustani classical singer Shubha Mudgal says: “It is
tragic that we allowed this to happen. Having gone through what M.F.
Husain has, we are no one to tell him where to go or not. The
government is talking of disaster management now but where was it all
these years? Unfortunately, art does not transcend all boundaries of
prejudices and that prevents the artistic community from taking a
stand together. To top it all, there is no space for artists to get
together to discuss Husain and other issues such as censorship. If
this can happen to Husain, what can happen to many lesser-known

The photographer Ram Rahman hesitates to use the word “controversial”
to describe Husain’s paintings. “We have to ask who made these
paintings controversial? Why use a discourse that has been defined by
right-wing militants? And how can we talk of Qatar’s freedom of
expression if Husain and other artists are being attacked in India?”
He is sceptical about the Indian government’s promise of security to
Husain. he said: “He is not a corporate honcho or a political leader.
He is a free bird. Would he be able to work in an environment he knows
is not conducive to work? All because you are letting the RSS
[Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh] and national politics, and not the
Constitution, define citizenry.”

In her recent essay “Modernist Myths and the Exile of Maqbool Fida
Husain”, the art historian Geeta Kapur profiles his exile in its
tragic, political and discursive meanings. She says that Husain faces
multiple exiles. According to her, “if an exiled artist is seen to
radiate a sense of self, an emanation of solitude, crucial to the
creative soul”, it was also crucial for Husain, facing so much apathy,
to impose on himself an exile in order to exercise uncompromised
understanding of ethical issues.

She goes on to write: “Husain is stereotypically a postcolonial artist
and his exile carries the entire burden of the citizenship/community
discourse in India… In post-Independence India, Husain’s visible
identity as a Muslim figured emblematically but was not overplayed,
since the secular was simply a taken-for-granted for all modern
artists. Now, 60 years hence, even as he (so admirably) refuses to
play the opposite role of an embittered Muslim or a national martyr,
he must rely on the modern artist’s sense of singularity to salvage

The Husain issue has many political implications. Branding is a
contemporary political reality: someone who is a human rights activist
can be branded as a Maoist or someone speaking for minority rights can
be seen as a terrorist in a security-driven system. All these trends
recoil into suppression of free speech, the most important pillar of a
democratic society.


Film director Shyam Benegal.

In a liberal space, none of the artists discount the right of the
groups protesting against Husain but are critical of violent methods
to assert their point. The film-maker Shyam Benegal, known for his
socially sensitive cinema, says: “There is a convergence of the
politics of intimidation and the politics of identity in these times,
which creates the ‘other’ very easily. How can we just blame the right-
wing groups? It is an organised attitude. The Bhandarkar Oriental
Research Institute in Pune was ransacked in 2004 by the Sambhaji
Brigade, a cultural group of the Nationalist Congress Party.
Similarly, what happened with Shah Rukh Khan is absurd. There are ways
to protest because in a country that guarantees free speech,
sentiments can get hurt. We all have our ways to protest, but to say
you have no right to exist is a matter of concern.”

An important reading of Husain’s ostracism was done by Vivan Sundaram,
painter, sculptor and installation artist: “Visual images can have
many readings, and inbuilt into them are greater ambiguities. But
interpretation in a way that could make way for an attack is being
done by organised right-wing groups and not individuals.” When asked
whether Husain is trying to make a statement by accepting Qatar’s
citizenship, he said, “In a way, he is making some kind of a statement
that if you are insisting I should live in exile, then I will get rid
of this. Vigilance in the public domain is keeping India away from
many progressive thoughts. The government cannot just provide security
but it has to act consistently against fundamentalists. It is a
process, but the political leadership must stand up to it.”

In this polemic, what remains conspicuous is the government’s
emergence as a protector only when the issue of foreign nationality
surfaced. Geeta Kapur gives an explanation. She traces the transition
of an artist from a citizen to an interlocutor in the changed public
discourse. While, she says, the space for artists as citizens began to
be suppressed during the naxalite era of the 1960s and 1970s and then
during the Emergency, it became starker in the 1990s.

“The right-wing swing in Indian politics during the 1990s made the
‘othering’ process at work in the polity fully visible to the more
radical intelligentsia, as it also made visible the alienation of the
minorities and Dalits whose political struggles echoed through and
beyond the public sphere. The artist-interlocutor now undertook to
investigate the fault lines within civil society structures, as well
as to address the conditions of life that fall outside the protocols
of governances,” she writes.

By accepting Qatar’s citizenship, Husain precisely does this. For the
first time, perhaps, with Husain’s issue, citizenry engages with
minority rights and victimisation. These are issues of social
exclusion in terms of caste, gender and religion, which get lost in an
overarching identity of a ‘citizen’. It is in this context that Geeta
Kapur writes: “Husain’s exile is a personal tragedy and a national
shame. It is the exile of a modern artist, of a secular artist and,
more explicitly, a Muslim citizen-artist from secular India. Relayed
into each other, these aspects condense into a logic whereby it is
precisely as a secularist that Husain is accused.”

She goes on to say: “How ironic that antagonists as well as
protagonists should make it mandatory for Husain to publicly embrace
Islam and its metaphysics, endorse a sectarian identity, valorise the
Islamicate legacy, and interpret his present engagement with Arab
civilisation as an endorsement of his ‘originary/ethnic’ identity!
More ironical, that he must thereby shun not only the secular but also
the sovereign status he sought in the embrace of modernity.”

Faced with the empathy within the artistic community for Husain, the
Indian government has woken up to the need to bring Husain back to
India to salvage whatever little goodwill it may have among the
artists and liberal ideologues. But it needs to do more to convince
them about its sincerity.

By Ajoy Ashirwad Mahaprashasta


Volume 27 - Issue 06 :: Mar. 13-26, 2010
from the publishers of THE HINDU

Khap terror
in Rohtak

Haryana’s caste panchayats continue to punish couples, practically
unchecked, for breaking “brotherhood norms”.


Azad Singh and Lakshmi, parents of Satish Berwal. The family has been
given police protection.

ON February 12, Meham town in Rohtak district, Haryana, saw a
citizens’ convention that was unusual in more than one sense. First,
it was being held from the ramparts of the Meham Chaubisi Chabootara,
a platform reserved for members of the Meham panchayat (a
conglomeration of 24 villages, better known as the Meham Chaubisi).
Second, the meeting was not dominated by any one caste. Third, it was
a congregation of secular and democratic groups, and a good number of
women participated in it. (Women had never attended meetings at that
venue since all caste and khap panchayats are male-dominated.) Fourth,
it was a meeting where caste and khap panchayats and their
undemocratic ways were roundly criticised. People from neighbouring
villages also attended the meeting and expressed their opposition to
the illegal acts of the panchayats.

The meeting reflected a growing anger against the actions of self-
styled khap panchayats. In early February itself, there were at least
three reported cases of panchayats ordering the expulsion of married
couples for having allegedly violated one community norm or the other.
Meham shot into notoriety 20 years ago following complaints of poll-
rigging and booth-capturing in an Assembly byelection. The election
had to be countermanded twice because of large-scale violence and the
murder of an independent candidate. The Meham Chaubisi has
historically played a crucial role in elections.

Bhaichaara victims

On January 31, Kavita and Satish, a young couple from Kheri Meham with
a nine-month-old child, were told by the khap panchayat that their
marriage three years ago was in violation of the gotra norm of
bhaichaara, or brotherhood. Kavita belongs to the Beniwal gotra and
Satish to the Berwal gotra, and their marriage had seemingly not
violated any caste or gotra norm. However, according to the bhaichaara
norm, girls belonging to a village’s dominant gotra could be accepted
in that village only as sisters, and not as wives. Of late, this has
been used to harass couples who either married out of their own choice
or whose marriages were arranged by their families.

Twenty-one members of the Beniwal gotra convened a meeting and decided
to expel Kavita and Satish from the village. Kavita could not stay in
the village as the wife of Satish, but the child could live with
Satish’s father, Azad Singh, the meeting decreed.

As a punishment for allowing the marriage to take place, the 65-year-
old Azad Singh was paraded around the village with a shoe shoved into
his mouth. Azad Singh’s family is among the poorer ones in the village
and belongs to a minority gotra. “We were told that we could stay on
in the village if we donated whatever land we possessed to the village
dera (a village shelter used by mendicants). As per the ruling, Satish
would become his own child’s uncle while I have to pay Rs.3 lakh for
the upkeep of my grandchild. How will I procure all the money for this
after giving away my land?” said Azad Singh.

Anil Rao, Senior Superintendent of Police, Rohtak, told Frontline that
the couple was now staying in Bhiwani district and that he had sent
word to the police authorities there to provide them security.

Kavita had, with support from her parents, who live in Bhiwani
district, approached the SSP with a detailed complaint, naming the
people who had convened the panchayat and humiliated her father-in-
law. She demanded action against the 21 gotra members involved in the
act. But the police registered a first information report (FIR)
without mentioning any names – reportedly owing to pressure from
influential people. Frontline learnt that at least two revenue
department employees and one panchayat samiti member were involved in
the humiliation of Azad Singh and in the decision to expel the

The SSP said that the police were doing everything possible to help
the couple and claimed that police intervention had forced the Meham
Chaubisi to reverse its judgment. A joint meeting of the Berwal and
Beniwal khaps resolved that the couple could live as man and wife but
outside their village. The Chaubisi also condemned the humiliation of
Azad Singh.

At Azad Singh’s house, emotions run high. “They have done their worst.
What more can they do?” said Azad Singh, referring to his humiliation.
While he and his wife Lakshmi are relieved to have police protection
against further assaults by members of the dominant gotra, they are
scared to say openly that they will bring their daughter-in-law home.
“What would you do if you are surrounded by the village toughs? But
how can a man and his wife reconvert as brother and sister?” wondered
an elderly relative of Azad Singh. However, she said that the
panchayat was right in its decision but others had influenced it
wrongly. Lakshmi wondered what would be the nature of her relationship
with her grandson, Raunaq, if her son and daughter-in-law were to see
each other as brother and sister.

It was shocking that none of the influential Berwal gotra members was
ready to stand by the family. Dharamraj, a former sarpanch of Kheri
village, said that the khaps’ decision, taken at a joint meeting of
the two khaps, was final. The role of an elected sarpanch, as has been
seen in most cases relating to such issues, is marginal. An older
citizen of the village told Frontline that an elected sarpanch was of
use only if he was influential and “strong”.

The police maintained a studious silence regarding the couple’s desire
to live together in their own village of Kheri. “Mindsets have to
change, and then there is the issue of bhaichaara that cannot be
disturbed,” said a police officer.

It is significant that the Punjab and Haryana High Court took suo motu
notice of the issue and asked the Haryana government to file a reply.
The Director-General of Police told the court that the Unlawful
Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967, does not cover the activities of
khap panchayats. Equally significant is the fact that apart from the
Left parties and the All India Democratic Women’s Association (AIDWA),
which took up the cudgels on Kavita’s behalf, several individuals,
including veteran Congress leader Shamsher Singh Surjewala, and
organisations such as the All India Lawyers’ Union, the All India
Kisan Sabha and a few youth organisations, denounced the undemocratic
diktats of the caste panchayat.

Apart from the Kheri incident, three other cases of caste panchayat
atrocities were reported in the recent past. A couple in Jind district
came under immense pressure to call off their engagement after a
section of residents of the boy’s village, Budalkhera, claimed that
the gotras of the groom and the bride had brotherly relations. The
Budalkhera panchayat declared that the marriage could not take place
in the village. The families of the couple resisted and finally, on
February 6, the panchayat reversed its order. But it ensured that the
wedding took place outside the village.

Similarly, on November 1 last year, a joint panchayat of the Garhi
Ballam and Sundana villages ordered a couple to leave the village for
violating gotra norms. The couple quietly left. No complaint was

Curiously, on February 3, in a village in Hisar district, members of
the Scheduled Caste Dhanak community objected to a wedding and
banished the boy from the village, alleging gotra violations. That was
perhaps the first time that the Dhanak community had targeted one of
its own. Until then, only a section of the Jat community was found
raising vocal and violent objections on the grounds of gotra
violations. It was because of the intervention of some Left and
democratic organisations and the determination of the boy’s mother, a
widow who threatened to commit suicide, that the panchayat finally

The Bhupinder Singh Hooda government’s record in taking on illegal
actions of caste groups is less than satisfactory. Such incidents are
as common as they were before, but many of them go unreported.

“There are so many more important issues – such as dowry, domestic
violence and livelihood issues. But we spend most of our energy and
time fighting the unconstitutional fiats of these self-styled
panchayats,” said Jagmati Sangwan, president of the State unit of

She pointed out that though the government had promised to set up
shelters for couples who were being targeted by khap panchayats, to
date not a single one had come up.

The Rohtak SSP told Frontline that harassed couples could stay in the
police lines, sharing accommodation with other families until the
government shelters came up. “We can’t provide independent
accommodation for 2,000 couples overnight,” he said.


Volume 27 - Issue 06 :: Mar. 13-26, 2010
from the publishers of THE HINDU

Facing flak
in Chennai

The National Commission for Scheduled Castes criticises Tamil Nadu for
poor implementation of Dalit welfare measures.


A Dalit woman staging a dharna outside the Office of the Special
Tahsildar (Adi Dravidar Welfare) in Salem on June 16, 2008, demanding
a patta for the site of her house.

THE sharp criticism of the State administration by the National
Commission for Scheduled Castes for perceived inadequacies in
enforcing the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of
Atrocities) Act, 1989, and in implementing various welfare measures
aimed at empowering Dalits has put the Tamil Nadu government in a
tight spot. Despite denials by Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi, who is
also a top leader of the United Progressive Alliance which is in power
at the Centre, NCSC Vice-Chairman N.M. Kamble’s remarks after a review
meeting in Chennai on February 18 have triggered a fresh debate on a
wide range of Dalit-related issues. These include different forms of
discrimination against Dalits, the lacunae in enforcing the S.Cs and
S.Ts (POA) Act, non-distribution of adequate cultivable land and house
sites to the oppressed sections, non-clearance of the backlog of
promotions, introduction of 3 per cent internal reservation for the
Arunthathiar community, and the lack of political will to end manual

The Tamil Nadu Untouchability Eradication Front (TNUEF), led by
functionaries of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), and several
Dalit organisations, which participated in the review meeting, made
their submissions to the commission. The NCSC dropped a bombshell by
pointing to the large number of pending cases and the low rate of
conviction in the State under the S.Cs and S.Ts (POA) Act. It did not
take lightly the failure on the part of the police to complete the
investigations in time in many cases. The commission also pointed out
that the details pertaining to the grounds for acquittal in many cases
were not made available to it. It substantiated its claims with a year-
wise break-up of pending cases, disposals and convictions.

The commission pulled up the government for not furnishing district-
wise and ward-wise information regarding the implementation of welfare
schemes for Dalits. The non-appointment of a liaison officer to take
care of the interests of Scheduled Caste government employees
particularly earned the NCSC’s ire. The commission also expressed
anguish over the lack of initiative on the part of the authorities to
retrieve lands that were assigned to the Scheduled Castes but were
still in the possession of non-Dalits. There are as many as 8,000 such

Top officials of the State government who attended the meeting assured
the NCSC of submitting the information required by it in a month. But
Karunanidhi took issue with the criticism the next day by announcing
that he would apprise the Centre, particularly Prime Minister Manmohan
Singh, of his government’s performance in promoting the welfare of

Refuting the NCSC’s “barbed comments”, Karunanidhi came out with a
detailed statement highlighting the various welfare measures
implemented by the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) government after he
assumed office as Chief Minister for the first time in 1969. These
include decisions to raise the quantum of reservation for the S.Cs and
the S.Ts from 16 per cent to 18 per cent in 1971 and to earmark a
quota of 1 per cent exclusively for the S.Ts in 1990.

He said the State government had allocated more funds under the
Scheduled Castes Sub Plan (SCSP) than the earmarked 19 per cent. He
further said the allocations for divisible expenditure out of the
State Plan funds had grown from Rs.567 crore in 2005-2006 to Rs.2,615
crore in 2009-2010. It was his government that named the Law
University in the State after B.R. Ambedkar, he recalled. On the
commission’s contention with regard to the low conviction rate in
cases registered under the S.Cs and S.Ts (POA) Act, Karunanidhi said
just blaming the government counsel and the courts appeared to be the
motive behind the criticism.

Several Dalit organisations in the State, however, do not seem to be
convinced by the Chief Minister’s claims. Addressing a joint press
conference, Dalit leaders including Puthiya Tamizhagam president K.
Krishnasamy and Republican Party of India’s State general secretary
S.K. Tamilarasan accused the DMK government of attempting to find
fault with the NCSC.

They urged the government to come out with a White Paper in three
months giving district-wise and block-wise details on reservation in
jobs and education, distribution of land, and retrieval of ‘panchami’
land to promote the socio-economic conditions of Dalits in the State.
They also wanted the data on the allocation of funds under the SCSP
and development projects executed for Dalits in villages to be
released without delay.

P. Sampath, State convener of the TNUEF, said there was nothing wrong
in the NCSC Vice-Chairman’s observations regarding the manner in which
S.Cs and S.Ts (POA) Act cases were handled in the State. He said
compromises were reached in many cases at the intervention of the
police, who register counter-complaints from the dominant communities
against the Dalit victims. The bail applications of offenders are
seldom objected to by the police, he alleged.

He said State and district panels set up by the government to monitor
the implementation of the Act had become dysfunctional. In many cases,
investigations were not done by deputy superintendents of police as
laid down by the rules, he alleged.

Official data show that the rate of conviction in cases of atrocities
against Dalits is very low. According to information provided by the
Inspector-General of Police (Social Justice and Human Rights), there
were 18,752 cases – 4,445 fresh cases and 14,307 “brought forward”
cases – involving S.Cs before special courts between 2003 and 2009. Of
these, only 412 ended in conviction, whereas there were 3,354
acquittals. In 2009 alone, there were 420 acquittals against 29
convictions; 2,656 cases were pending at the close of the year.

Official sources acknowledged the prevalence of injustices such as
denial of rights to Dalits to worship in temples, bury or burn their
dead in common burial or cremation grounds; denial of passage to
graveyards; and denial of land, water and promotions.


N.M. Kamble, Vice-Chairman, National Commission for Scheduled Castes,
addressing the media after a review meeting in Chennai.

An issue that has come to the fore now is the 3 per cent special
reservation in the State for Arunthathiars in education and
employment. Replying to a query at the press conference held after the
review meeting, Kamble held that the sub-quota announced without
consulting the commission was “unconstitutional” and could be
challenged in a court.

However, Karunanidhi strongly defended the internal reservation for
Arunthathiars, who “are still at the lowest rung in terms of socio-
economic and educational status”. Recalling the Chief Secretary’s
letter to NCSC Chairman Buta Singh in this regard on November 25,
2008, he said that though, according to rules, any such proposal
should be brought to the notice of the commission, it was not
mandatory to get its consent. The Tamil Nadu Arunthathiars (Special
Reservation of Seats in Educational Institutions including Private
Educational Institutions and of Appointments or Posts in Services
under the State within the Reservation for the Scheduled Castes) Act,
2009, was enacted after consulting a one-man panel, he pointed out.

The TNUEF has welcomed the Tamil Nadu government’s stand on this issue
though some Dalit organisations have threatened to challenge the Act
in court. Referring to the High Court’s direction that the Act must be
implemented with effect from April 29, 2009, when it came into force,
the TNUEF has urged the NCSC to ensure that it is carried out in tune
with Clause (5) of Article 338 of the Constitution. It also wants a
State Commission for S.Cs to be formed. The front has stressed the
need for raising the quota for Dalits by 1 per cent as the Scheduled
Castes constitute 19 per cent of the State’s total population of
624.06 lakhs as per the 2001 Census.

Sampath said the most contentious issue was the redistribution of
surplus land and wastelands to Dalits as land had become a status
symbol and was an important factor in solving livelihood issues.
Official sources say the government is keen to provide house site
pattas to roofless Dalit families.

According to them, 1,74,952 Dalit families were given house site
pattas from April 1, 2006, to May 31, 2009, under the one-time special
scheme to regularise encroachments on government poramboke lands. And
44,522 acres (one acre is 0.4 hectare) was distributed to 41,064 Dalit
families in five phases, from September 17, 2006, as part of
implementing the Chief Minister’s pet scheme of distribution of two
acres of wasteland to families of the landless poor. The government
has also announced that 11,660 house site pattas will be issued during
2009-2010. But Sampath said all these were only on paper and in many
places Dalits found it difficult to take possession of the lands which
were in the hands of dominant communities.

The NCSC’s review in the State has also paved the way for the revival
of the demand for retrieval of several thousands of ‘panchami’ lands
gifted to Dalits during British rule in the 1890s. According to
informed sources, only 1.26 lakh acres of the 12 lakh acres of
panchami lands were available now and most of these were occupied by
non-Dalits and industrial houses.

Significantly, the TNUEF and leaders of some Dalit organisations have
demanded that the Tamil Nadu government give serious consideration to
the Scheduled Castes Sub Plan and other special assistance provided by
the Centre. They say that only by doing so will the government be able
to reduce the gap between Dalits and the rest of society and speed up
the process of integrating them with the mainstream.

The government has been claiming that the allocations are made under
the SCSP as per guidelines. Official data show there has been a steady
rise in the allocations from the earmarked 19 per cent in the last
four financial years. For instance, it was 20.87 per cent in
2008-2009, up from 19.09 per cent in 2005-2006, it says.

However, the TNUEF and the Dalit organisations have been accusing the
government of not allocating funds adequately under the scheme besides
diverting them to other schemes. The Chief Minister time and again has
attempted to allay the apprehensions of the Dalit organisations by
promising them that he would take the responsibility to see that not
even a small portion of the funds allotted for improving the status of
the S.Cs was diverted to other schemes.

But the TNUEF feels that Dalit organisations and political parties
should be vigilant as funds earmarked for Adi Dravidar welfare have
been diverted in the past. They allege that, for example, the
construction of quarters 10 years ago for 44 legislators representing
reserved constituencies was done with funds so earmarked.


Volume 27 - Issue 06 :: Mar. 13-26, 2010
from the publishers of THE HINDU

Less for the poor

The UPA government seems to have grown complacent about its budgetary
allocations for the social sectors.

WITH clear indications of the economy reviving fast, the Union
government should have taken an expansionary fiscal stance not only to
accelerate growth but also to finance adequately the interventions
that promote social sector development. However, it has chosen to
revert to the path of fiscal conservatism, albeit gradually, with
Budget 2010-11.

A “calibrated exit strategy from the expansionary fiscal stance of
2008-09 and 2009-10”, which the 13th Finance Commission has
recommended strongly, seems to have been given shape to as the
government’s total expenditure is projected to fall from 16.6 per cent
of GDP (gross domestic product) in 2009-10 (Revised Estimates) to 16
per cent of GDP in 2010-11 (Budget Estimates). In tandem with the
compression of public expenditure, the fiscal deficit is projected to
fall from 6.7 per cent of GDP in 2009-10 (R.E.) to 5.5 per cent of GDP
in 2010-11 (B.E.), and the revenue deficit is estimated at 4.0 per
cent of GDP in 2010-11 (B.E.), significantly lower than the 5.3 per
cent figure for 2009-10 (R.E.).

As regards the policy direction suggested by the 13th Finance
Commission, both the Report of the Commission (tabled in Parliament on
February 25) and Budget 2010-11 indicate clearly that the next five
years will witness growing efforts by the government towards
elimination/reduction of deficits through compression of public
expenditure. Consequently, any significant boost to public expenditure
in the social sectors in the last two years of the 11th Five-Year Plan
(2010-11 and 2011-12) seems unlikely.

The Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government seems to
have grown complacent about its budgetary policies for the social
sectors. While Budget 2010-11 does pay some attention to a few of the
important sectors/issues such as women and child development,
development of minorities, rural housing and technical education, its
overall allocations and proposals for the social sectors (which
include education, health and family welfare and water and sanitation)
seem to fall far short of expectations.

As shown in Table 1, the allocation for social services (which in the
jargon of budgets in our country refers to social sectors such as
education, health and family welfare, water and sanitation, nutrition,
welfare of Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and Other Backward
Classes, and social security and welfare, among others) in the total
expenditure in the Union Budget has been stepped up from 8.9 per cent
in 2007-08 to 10.4 per cent in 2008-09. However, it remains at 10.4
per cent in the B.E. for 2010-11. As a proportion of GDP, the
government’s total expenditure on social services showed a somewhat
noticeable increase from 1.3 per cent in 2007-08 to 1.6 per cent in
2008-09; but it has been stagnant in the last two Budgets.

State governments continue to bear a significant share of the
country’s total public expenditure on social sectors – as per the
Reserve Bank of India’s document ‘State Finances: A Study of Budgets
2009-10’, the total expenditure from Budgets of all States on social
services and rural development stood at 5.4 per cent of GDP in
2007-08, which increased to 5.8 per cent in 2008-09 (R.E.) and 6 per
cent in 2009-10 (B.E.). If we deduct the expenditure on rural
development from these figures and also exclude the double counting of
the Centre’s grants-in-aid to States in social services (which appear
both in the Union Budget and in the Budgets of States), the total
public expenditure in our country on social services could well be
around 6 per cent of GDP even in 2009-10.

Thus, despite the somewhat noticeable increases in the Union
government’s expenditure on social services, mainly during the UPA-1
regime, the country’s overall public expenditure on social services
continues to be very low. Before one jumps to the conclusion that
State governments are primarily responsible for this, one has to keep
in mind that over the past two decades the federal fiscal architecture
has been altered consistently in favour of the Union government.

The analysis of Budget 2010-11 by the Centre for Budget and Governance
Accountability (CBGA), New Delhi, shows that despite the increase in
the States’ share in Central taxes and duties to 32 per cent (from
30.5 per cent) and a number of specific-purpose grants recommended by
the 13th Finance Commission, the Gross Devolutions and Transfers (GDT)
from the Centre to the States would be 5.4 per cent of GDP in 2010-11,
which is almost the same as that in 2007-08 and 2008-09. This is
unlikely to reverse the disturbing trend of a decline in the share of
GDT in aggregate expenditure in State budgets. Hence, the primary
responsibility for the persistence of low public spending on social
sectors lies with the Union government.

The Union Finance Minister has claimed that his government has adopted
a number of budgetary policies to create entitlements for the poor
(over the past six years). However, it may be argued that the National
Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS) is the only Plan scheme of
the Union government rooted in an entitlements-based approach. In
contrast, most of the social sector Plan schemes of the Union
government continue to follow a welfarist approach and provide low-
cost, ad hoc interventions. An entitlements-based approach towards
public provisioning in the social sectors would require a significant
strengthening of the regular and sustained government interventions in
these sectors, which does not yet seem to be on the government’s
policy agenda.

Spending on education

In 1966 the D.S. Kothari Commission had recommended that the total
public spending on education should be raised to the level of 6 per
cent of GNP (gross national product) by 1986. Subsequently, many
political parties reiterated this as a commitment in their election
manifestos; the UPA, too, promised it in the National Common Minimum
Programme (NCMP) in 2004. However, the overall public spending on
education continues to be way below 6 per cent of GDP; even in 2007-08
(B.E.), it was only 3.67 per cent of GDP (including the spending by
Central and State education departments as well as other departments.

The Union government’s total allocation for education in 2010-11
(B.E.) stands at 0.71 per cent of GDP, which is slightly better than
the 0.64 per cent recorded for 2009-10 (R.E.). However, such gradual
and small increases in the Budget outlays for education cannot result
in any visible increase in overall public spending on education in the

In addition to the 0.71 per cent of GDP allocated in Budget 2010-11
for the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD), States will be
given access to Rs.3,675 crore for elementary education under the 13th
Finance Commission grants for 2010-11. There has been a significant
stepping up in the outlay for the Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan
from Rs.550 crore in 2009-10 (R.E.) to Rs.1,700 crore in 2010-11.
Other areas showing increased outlays in Budget 2010-11 include the
adult education and skill development scheme, educational loan
interest subsidy in university and higher education, scholarship for
college and university students and the upgradation of existing
polytechnics and setting up of new ones.

In the current discourse on planning and government budgeting in the
country, there are very few benchmarks to assess the adequacy of
public spending on development schemes. In this context, the outlays
recommended by the Planning Commission for the 11th Five-Year Plan
period (2007-08 to 2011-12) could be treated as benchmarks, even
though the quality parameters underlying these benchmarks would hardly
be satisfactory. With just one more Union Budget left in the 11th Plan
period, at least 80 per cent of the outlays recommended by the
Planning Commission should have been made for Plan schemes during
2007-08 to 2010-11. However, the analysis by the CBGA (“Union Budget
2010-11: Which Way Now?”, available at www.cbgaindia.org) shows that
the total provisioning in the four Budgets during 2007-08 to 2010-11
has been only 12 per cent of the recommended outlay for the Rashtriya
Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan, 36 per cent for teacher training and 46 per
cent for the UGC; the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) and the midday meal
scheme have fared better with 76 per cent and 65 per cent

However, in the context of education, what is most disconcerting about
Budget 2010-11 is its complete silence on the financing of the Right
to Education Act, which the Union government is reportedly planning to
notify from April 1. There have been reports in the media about the
Union government’s initiative to modify the norms and unit costs under
the SSA so as to make the provisioning under this flagship programme
in line with the Right to Education Act. However, the allocation for
the SSA has been increased only by 14.5 per cent from Rs.13,100 crore
in 2009-10 (R.E.) to Rs.15,000 crore in 2010-11 (B.E.).

Meagre amount for health

The UPA made a commitment in the National Common Minimum Programme
(NCMP) in 2004 that the total public spending on health would be
raised to the level of 2 to 3 per cent of GDP, which was also
reiterated in the 11th Five-Year Plan. However, the combined budgetary
allocation (that is, the total outlays from both Union Budget and
State budgets) for health stands at a meagre 1.06 per cent of GDP in
2009-10 (B.E.). The Union government’s allocation for health (that is,
the budget for the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare) shows a
negligible increase from 0.35 per cent of GDP in 2009-10 (R.E.) to
0.36 per cent of GDP in 2010-11 (B.E.). Thus, even after Budget
2010-11, the government is far short of the NCMP target of raising the
total public spending on health to 2 to 3 per cent of GDP.

In his Budget speech, Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee proposed
to include in the Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana all those NREGS
beneficiaries who have worked (in the scheme) for at least 15 days in
the last fiscal year. While this is a welcome development, there are
several concerns pertaining to the implementation of the RSBY
(relating mainly to the role of private health insurance companies and
the private health care institutions), which need to be addressed. The
Budget allocation for the National Rural Heath Mission (NRHM) has been
increased only by 10.8 per cent, from Rs.14,002 crore in 2009-10
(R.E.) to Rs.15,514 crore in 2010-11 (B.E.). Given the huge
infrastructural gaps and the human resource crunch in the health
sector across the country, the budget for the NRHM should have been
increased significantly.

The allocation for the national disease control programmes has gone
down from Rs.1,063 crore in 2009-10 (B.E.) to Rs.1,050 crore in
2010-11 (B.E.), which is disturbing given that a number of diseases
covered under the scheme have witnessed increased prevalence in the
recent past.

The overall allocation for medical education and training has gone
down from Rs.3,256 crore in 2009-10 (B.E.) to Rs.2,679 crore in
2010-11 (B.E.). Within this, the most evident is the fall in
allocation for the establishment of AIIMS-type super specialty
hospitals, where the allocation has declined to the tune of Rs.700
crore. This is happening at a time when the budget allocation for
postgraduate medical education needs to be stepped up significantly to
fulfil the requirement of specialist doctors in the country. The
Finance Minister’s proposal for an annual health survey to prepare a
district health profile for all districts is a welcome step; but the
government would need to allocate adequate funds for this purpose. It
may be noted here that no allocation towards this has been made in
Budget 2010-11.

The persistence of low public spending in the country on social
sectors is also rooted in the small public resource base of the
country. In this context, it is disconcerting to note that with the
latest Budget the tax-GDP ratio for the Centre shows a small increase
from 10.3 per cent in 2009-10 (R.E.) to 10.8 per cent in 2010-11
(B.E.). Moreover, a liberal estimate of the amount of additional tax
revenue the government could have collected in 2009-10 if all
exemptions/incentives/deductions (both in direct and indirect taxes)
had been eliminated stands at a staggering 8.1 per cent of GDP. It is
ironical that exemptions of this magnitude, in fact, do not fit even
with the neoliberal rhetoric of fiscal consolidation, not to speak of
it being out of sync with the oft-repeated mantra of an “inclusive
growth by a caring and enabling government”.

Praveen Jha is on the faculty of the Centre for Economic Studies and
Planning, JNU. He is also the Honorary Economic Adviser to the Centre
for Budget and Governance Accountability, New Delhi. The article draws
substantially on the CBGA’s analysis of Union Budget 2010-11.


Volume 27 - Issue 06 :: Mar. 13-26, 2010
from the publishers of THE HINDU

Not for ‘aam aadmi’

IN the course of his presentation of the Union Budget for 2010-11 to
Parliament, the Finance Minister made a passing reference to his
having presented the Union Budget way back in 1984. One is indeed
inclined to admire the longevity of Pranab Mukherjee’s occupation of
some Cabinet berth or the other through the last 25-plus years (with
some years in the Opposition and a brief period in political
wilderness). However, the ordinary people of our country are unlikely
to admire the Budget he has presented for 2010-11.

Consider the context in which the Budget has been presented. The
Economic Survey 2009-10, while providing a generally self-
congratulatory assessment of the government’s management of the
economy during 2009-10, reminds us that the agricultural economy has
done very poorly. Agricultural output is estimated to decline by 0.2
per cent over the current financial year in comparison with 2008-09.
This is even as industry in general and manufacturing in particular
are estimated to have done exceptionally well in recovering from the
impact of the global economic slowdown. The other disturbing feature
of the current economic context is, of course, the nearly 20 per cent
rise in food prices over the recent period. In fact, the Finance
Minister, in his Budget speech, said: “Since December 2009, there have
been indications of these high food prices, together with the gradual
hardening of the fuel product prices, getting transmitted to other non-
food items as well. The inflation data for January seems to have
confirmed this trend.”

The response of the Budget to these two key concerns, both of which
receive mention in it, has not merely been extremely inadequate. It is
likely to accelerate inflation and do little for agriculture. This is
evident from a look at the Budget proposals on indirect taxes. The
Budget proposes a partial rollback of the rate reduction in Central
Excise duties from 8 per cent to 10 per cent ad valorem on all non-
petroleum products. It restores the basic duty of 5 per cent on crude
petroleum. It also slaps a 7.5 per cent duty on diesel and petrol and
10 per cent on other refined products. In addition, the Budget
proposes enhancement of the Central Excise duty on petrol and diesel
by one rupee a litre each. This is a massive dose of indirect taxation
that will certainly be both highly inflationary and extremely
regressive in its impact, especially considering that incomes of most
working people in India are completely unprotected against inflation.
Besides stoking inflationary fires further, these moves will impact
negatively on agricultural output. Keeping in mind the likelihood that
the move to a “nutrient-based” regime of fertilizer subsidy that has
been announced by the government will result in significant increases
in the prices of fertilizers, one is appalled by the nonchalance with
which these measures have been proposed and defended vigorously
afterwards in and outside Parliament.

There is a certain asymmetry when it comes to the impact that a change
in indirect taxes has on prices in the Indian economy. When they are
raised, the additional burdens are almost invariably passed on to the
consumer. When they are reduced, there is no guarantee that the
benefits are passed on. Thus, while the reduction in excise and
customs duties last year represented a huge tax giveaway in the name
of a fiscal stimulus to the corporate sector, it is far from obvious
that ordinary people benefited by way of moderation in prices. This,
too, needs to be borne in mind in assessing the justifiability of the
reductions made last year and the increases being proposed now.

The regressive character of the Budget is also evident in the doling
out of tax concessions to the well-to-do. The proposals in respect of
direct taxes include the lowering of rates of personal income tax over
certain income slabs, a reduction in surcharge on corporate income tax
from 10 per cent to 7 per cent, and concessions for corporate business
entities in various forms. All these taken together are estimated by
the Finance Minister to result in a revenue loss of Rs.26,000 crore,
while his indirect tax proposals are estimated to bring in additional
revenues of Rs.46,000 crore in the net, taking into account some
concessions in indirect taxes as well.

What can one say about the expenditure proposals in the Budget? First
of all, the overall expenditure of the Union government proposed for
2010-11 constitutes an increase of 8.6 per cent over the corresponding
figure for 2009-10. Given the rate of inflation, this signifies little
increase in real terms, and may even imply a reduction. The proposed
increase in Plan expenditure is 15 per cent, which again would be a
rather modest increase in real terms. The non-Plan expenditure is
slated to decline in real terms, its increase over Budget Estimates
(B.E.) 2009-10 being only 6 per cent.

In terms of sectoral allocations, the rhetoric about agriculture and
rural development, as also the social sector, in the Budget speech is
not reflected in the allocations. The Central Plan outlay for rural
development in 2010-11 is Rs.55,190 crore as against the B.E. of Rs.
51,769 crore in 2009-10. The outlay for agriculture, irrigation and
flood control taken together has been enhanced from Rs.11,068 crore in
B.E. 2009-10 to Rs.12,834 crore in 2010-11, a modest increase in real
terms. Considering the persistence of an agrarian crisis across the
country for over a decade now (though the intensity varies across
States and regions and different social classes in the agrarian
population), this is a very inadequate response.

As for the much-hyped focus on the social sector, the Plan outlay for
all social services does increase by more than 22 per cent, but this
has to be seen against the present abysmal state of health and
education and the low base from which increases in recent years have
occurred. Moreover, if one takes into account the squeeze on the
finances of State governments, which account for the bulk of social
sector expenditures, the picture that emerges is hardly reassuring. In
fact, in education, the combined expenditures of the Central and State
governments still fall far short of the figure of 6 per cent of GDP
promised in the National Common Minimum Programme (NCMP) of the UPA
government of 2004-09. The same is the case for the health sector. The
current Budget does not even begin to address these concerns.

After having budgeted for a mere Rs.1,120 crore from “other capital
receipts” (read “disinvestment”) in B.E. 2009-10, the government has
gone ahead and disinvested public sector equity to an amount of Rs.
25,958 crore as per the Revised Estimates (R.E.), exceeding even the
proposal in the Economic Survey of 2008-09 that annually Rs.25,000
crore should be the disinvestment target. The B.E. for receipts from
disinvestment for 2010-11 is Rs.40,000 crore. Considering that market
capitalisation of listed Central public sector undertakings (PSUs) has
taken a beating in the stock market, the Finance Minister’s argument
that disinvestment is all about unlocking the values of PSUs hardly
holds water. The other misleading phraseology about “inviting people
to own shares in PSUs”, is, to say the least, disingenuous. Moreover,
the sale of shares of profitable PSUs contradicts the promise made in
the NCMP of the earlier UPA government.

Overall, Budget 2010-11 reflects two important aspects of the current
political context: Parliamentary elections are four years away and the
present UPA government does not need the support of the Left parties
to stay in power.


Volume 27 - Issue 06 :: Mar. 13-26, 2010
from the publishers of THE HINDU

The march of neoliberalism

Union Budget 2010-11 has given a forward thrust to the neoliberal
agenda in all the crucial sectors where "reforms" had been stalled.


Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee addressing the media after the
Economic Survey 2009-10 was tabled in Parliament on February 25.

THE strategy underlying Budget 2010-11 is eerily reminiscent of that
of Margaret Thatcher. In pushing her “market-fundamentalist” agenda
against the working class and the trade unions, Thatcher had enlisted
the support of the affluent middle class. She had wooed the yuppies
and the city slickers of London’s financial district, and to this end
given direct tax concessions to the middle class, even while jacking
up indirect taxes on the poor and the working people in the midst of a
raging inflation.

Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee has done almost exactly the same.
For pushing the neoliberal agenda, he has enlisted the support of the
affluent middle class by giving it direct tax concessions even as he
has jacked up regressive indirect taxes. Until now, neoliberalism in
India had been covered by a patina of concern for the aam aadmi. With
this Budget it has come of age; the patina is off.

The government claims that this Budget, too, is for the aam aadmi; but
that is unsustainable. The suggestion that persons earning in excess
of three lakhs of rupees a year, who are the beneficiaries of direct
tax concessions, constitute the aam aadmi, while the fisherman who
risks his life daily by venturing out to the sea for an annual income
of less than Rs.20,000, and who will be hit hard by the diesel price
hike, does not, can only be ironical.

There was a time when even as the government increased petrol prices,
it would spare diesel prices, since diesel and kerosene prices were
linked for technical reasons, and raising the former would necessarily
raise the latter, to the detriment of the poor. But such restraint no
longer prevails. Diesel prices have been raised and kerosene prices
will follow. Indeed, a whole lot of petro-product prices are going to
be raised as a consequence of the increase in import duty, that is, a
new round of price increases on top of what Pranab Mukherjee has
announced is in the offing. And if the Kirit Parikh Committee’s
recommendations for linking domestic petro-product prices to world
prices are accepted, which is likely, then these prices will be jacked
up even further in the coming months.

Any such linking of domestic petro-prices to world prices makes little
sense, since it would mean importing speculation-induced world oil
price fluctuations, which can be quite massive, into the domestic
economy, and hence making the domestic price-level as a whole a
plaything in the hands of international speculators. But the
government’s commitment to neoliberalism appears to outweigh any
concern over this.

Specious argument

This lack of concern is manifest even in Mukherjee’s argument for
raising the import duty on petroleum and the Central excise duty on
petrol and diesel, which is quite specious. Since domestic petrol
prices had not been raised adequately even when world crude prices had
crossed $130 a barrel, the government, he argues, has earned the right
to raise prices now, that is, the current price hike is a reward for
the government’s earlier abstinence. This is untenable since it is not
as if petrol prices had been lowered earlier and are now being
restored to pre-lowering levels. Besides, the biggest component of
petrol and diesel prices in the country consists of government taxes;
there is no logical compulsion therefore about raising taxes on this
commodity any further.

The “cascading effect” of the higher taxes on petrol and diesel, which
would raise the prices of these commodities by close to Rs.3 a litre,
has been much discussed. The government’s lack of concern, however, is
not just about the inflationary implications of this move but about
inflation in general. Since the food price rise, by the government’s
own admission, is because of supply shortages (even if these shortages
are artificially compounded by hoarding and speculation), the strategy
must be to throw government-owned surplus foodgrain stocks (that is,
actual stocks minus the minimum buffer stocks), which exceed 27
million tonnes as on January 2010, on the market. These stocks cannot
obviously be thrown on the open market, since speculators would then
buy them up gleefully, as had happened in 1972-73, and blunt their
anti-inflationary impact; they have to be released through the public
distribution system. But, going by the Budget figures, the government
has no intention of doing so.

The fact that the food subsidy is lower than that for 2009-10 by over
Rs.400 crore, suggests that the government does not intend to sell
these stocks through the PDS or merely hold on to them (for either of
these options would have raised the food subsidy, the latter because
of higher interest payments). It intends to do precisely what it
should not do, namely, sell them in the open market, which means that
it is not too concerned about inflation.

In fact, Mukherjee said as much in his post-Budget television
interview. He claimed that his way of combating inflation was by
augmenting supplies in the long run, for which he had taken steps in
the Budget, such as earmarking Rs.300 crore for 60,000 “pulses and
oilseeds villages”, Rs.400 crore for extending the “Green Revolution”
to the eastern region of the country, and Rs.200 crore for sustaining
the gains made in Green Revolution areas through “conservative
farming”. As for short-run measures, these, according to him, were
unnecessary since the inflation rate was coming down anyway.

Self-limiting phenomenon

The fallacy behind the argument about inflation coming down is often
not appreciated. Inflation, precisely when it hurts the people, is a
self-limiting phenomenon. It can be categorised into two kinds: one
caused by excess demand and the other by “cost-push”. Cost-push
inflation arises when some input cost (or excise duty as in the
present case) rises, which is “passed on” in the form of higher
prices; in response to this initial price rise, money wages rise,
which, in turn, is passed on in the form of still higher prices, and
so on. As long as each component of price keeps rising with the rise
in the price, to ensure that its share in total value does not
decline, the price rise continues ad infinitum. But if some cost
element, typically the wage cost, does not rise in tandem with the
price, then inflation eventually comes to a halt. But this also means
that the real wage rate comes down because of a cost-push inflation,
and this coming down is the reason for the end of cost-push inflation.

Much the same can be said of excess-demand-caused inflation. Such
inflation gets eliminated when someone’s demand is curtailed, and
typically the demand curtailed is of that group whose money income
does not go up as prices rise, that is, whose money income is not
indexed to prices. This is typically true of the working people,
especially of the vast mass of unorganised workers. Precisely because
their incomes are not indexed to prices, inflation hurts them, and
eventually comes to an end by squeezing them.


The suggestion that persons earning in excess of Rs.3 lakh a year
constitute the `aam aadmi', while fishermen who risk their lives daily
by venturing out to sea (in the picture, a group of them in Chennai)
for an average annual income of less than Rs.20,000 and who will be
hit hard by the diesel price hike do not, can only be ironical.

In Latin American countries where inflation rates in the past have
quite often been quite phenomenal, the reason lies in the fact that
wages in such cases have been indexed to prices. In India, by
contrast, where wages are not indexed, inflation will necessarily
always come down, but it will do so precisely by hurting the poor. The
whole purpose of government action should be to prevent the
elimination of inflation through this odious mechanism, by attempting
its elimination in some other way, for example, by de-hoarding (which
adds to supply), imports (which do the same), and using the PDS (which
insulates the poor against a squeeze on their demand). But if none of
these things is done, inflation will still come down, but by squeezing
the consumption of the poor.

An example will make this last point clear. Let us start from a
situation where the supply of foodgrains is, say, 100 units and equals
the demand at a price of Re.1 a unit. The wage bill in the economy is
Rs.80, all of which is spent on foodgrains. Now, suppose supply falls
to 95, so that there is an excess demand of 5 units at the old price.
The price will rise, that is, inflation will set in. If all incomes
are indexed to the price-level, then this excess demand will never get
eliminated and hence inflation will continue ad infinitum. But if
wages are not indexed but other incomes are, then inflation will come
to an end when the price has climbed up to Rs.16/15 (or Rs.1.07), for,
at that price, the workers can buy only 75 units of foodgrains from
their total wage bill of Rs.80, which means five units fewer than
before; and this eliminates excess demand. So, inflation is self-
limiting precisely because the poor get squeezed by it.

Hence, when Mukherjee derives satisfaction from the fact that
inflation is coming down, even without the government’s doing anything
about it, that satisfaction is totally misplaced; the inflation coming
down in this way shows precisely that the people are being squeezed by
it. Likewise, when Mukherjee claims that the effect of petrol and
diesel price increases “will get absorbed” over time, he omits to
mention that this absorption can occur only by squeezing the poor (as
in the above example of cost-push inflation). Inflation’s coming down
does not mean that the world returns to its pristine state of
happiness. This coming down itself, far from being a source of
satisfaction, should rather be a cause for concern, because it is
necessarily at the expense of the poor.

Coming to Mukherjee’s “long term measures” for raising food supplies,
what exactly these are becomes an intriguing question. The proposed
expenditures on the “pulses and oilseeds villages” and the extension
of the Green Revolution are too trivial to matter. The reduction in
fertilizer subsidy, which will raise fertilizer prices, will, if
anything, have a negative effect on output. The thing he must be
pinning his hopes on, therefore, is the opening up of retail trade,
which allegedly will help in “bringing down the considerable
difference between farm-gate, wholesale and retail prices”. This view
is attributed to the Prime Minister, who believes that opening up
retail trade will increase competition.

“Opening up” retail trade necessarily means the induction of corporate
capital, including multinational corporations (MNCs), into this
sector, for which they have been clamouring for some time. We are,
therefore, being asked to swallow the argument that bringing in
monopolists to drive out myriad petty traders will increase
competition! Anyone who believes that bringing in monopolies reduces
the gap between farm-gate and retail prices should ask the coffee
producers of Kerala: they get a pittance for their crop even when
retail coffee prices are soaring. If the government genuinely wants
the gap between retail and farm-gate prices to close, it should get
the public sector to take on a larger role in the marketing of crops,
as the various commodity boards used to do before neoliberalism
prevented them from doing so.

Corporate hegemony


Since the food price rise is because of supply shortages, the strategy
must be to throw government-owned surplus foodgrain stocks, which now
exceed 27 million tonnes, on the market through the PDS. But the
Budget figures indicate that the government has no intention of doing
so. Here, at the mandi at Najafgarh, New Delhi, a file picture.

Besides opening up retail business, Budget 2010-11 announced a number
of other steps, such as private participation in storage, setting up
of private cold storage and cold room facility for agricultural and
marine products and meat, and the accessing of external commercial
borrowing for this latter purpose, all of which entail corporate
hegemony over peasant and petty production. And since finance for
setting up godowns and cold storage will be counted as agricultural
credit, and hence come under priority sector lending, much of the
ambitious target for credit support to “farmers” will actually go to
large corporate houses, and even to MNCs.

This Budget gives a thrust to the neoliberal agenda in other ways as
well. Disinvestment is to proceed apace, and is a major contributor to
the so-called “Miscellaneous Capital receipts” of Rs.40,000 crore,
even though there is no valid argument for it. Disinvestment is
theoretically no different from a fiscal deficit: the latter puts
government bonds into non-government hands, while the former puts
government equity into non-government hands; they are only different
forms of raising finance but with identical macroeconomic effects.

A Financial Sector Legislative Reforms Commission is to be set up to
“rewrite and clean up the financial sector laws to bring them in line
with the requirements of the sector”, a euphemism for “financial
sector liberalisation”. And there is an additional instrument for this
particular purpose: a Financial Stability and Development Council,
which is to be set up “to strengthen and institutionalise the
mechanism for maintaining financial stability”. Add to all this the
allocation of coal blocks for captive mining, and you find that in all
the crucial sectors where the “reforms” had been stalled, that is,
public sector, financial liberalisation and retail trade, this Budget
has given a forward thrust to the neoliberal agenda. But then what
about the increase in social sector and rural development outlays that
the Budget promises? This is a chimera. Central plan outlay on rural
development (all comparisons are Budget Estimate to Budget Estimate)
is slated to increase by a mere 6.6 per cent over 2009-10, which means
a real absolute decline; and the National Rural Employment Guarantee
Scheme (NREGS) outlay is to rise by only 2.5 per cent.

As for Central Plan outlay on social services, the increase provided
under the Plan is significantly counterbalanced by a decline in non-
Plan expenditure in this sector. If we take the sum of Central Plan
outlay and non-Plan expenditure on social services, then the nominal
increase in 2010-11 over 2009-10 is only 12.5 per cent, which in real
terms means very little.

This is hardly surprising. After all, the total expenditure of the
Central government is expected to rise in nominal terms by a mere 8.6
per cent, which means stagnation in real terms. Within this overall
stagnation, large apparent increases on specific items are more likely
to be results of statistical jugglery or reallocation, rather than
matters of any substance.

The pushing of the neoliberal agenda requires inter alia a
neutralisation of opposition from State governments, and this can be
ensured only if their mendicant status is perpetuated. The 13th
Finance Commission, by keeping States’ share of taxes under Article
270 at 32 per cent (up marginally from the 30.5 per cent under the
previous Commission), compared with the 50 per cent demanded by most
State governments, has not helped matters. And the Central government
can be relied upon to compress its loans and grants to States, to
offset even such increases in revenue transfers that it is statutorily
required to make. In Budget 2010-11, for instance, while its statutory
transfers increase by 26 per cent over the current year, its loans and
advances rise by a mere 8.9 per cent. With such compression, one can
be sure that the States will continue to retain their mendicant

Neoliberalism is clearly resuming its stalled march, adopting a
Thatcherite strategy for doing so. But the United Progressive Alliance
(UPA) government miscalculates by ignoring the fact that, unlike in
Thatcher’s Britain, the affluent middle class it is wooing is a
minuscule segment of our society, while those squeezed by
neoliberalism, the workers, peasants, agricultural labourers, and
petty producers, constitute its overwhelming majority.


Volume 27 - Issue 06 :: Mar. 13-26, 2010
from the publishers of THE HINDU

Enabling whom?

In keeping with the overall approach of an “enabling” state, the
Economic Survey has proposed to do away with food procurement and


At a fair price shop in Chennai. States with successful public
distribution systems are those that have such large numbers of BPL
households that their lists are close to being universal. But the
Economic Survey seeks to replace this system with food coupons for
targeted households.

THIS year’s Economic Survey contains a new and unusual chapter
entitled “Microfoundations of inclusive growth”. It is unusual because
it is largely theoretical, thereby providing an addition to the
generally descriptive review of the Indian economy over the past year
according to the government’s own perception. It also contains,
possibly for the first time in an Economic Survey, an explicit
statement of what might be described as the present government’s
economic philosophy and its approach to certain crucial questions of
economic policy. The fact that some statements in it found an echo in
the Finance Minister’s Budget speech confirmed that this was indeed
the case.

It is certainly welcome that the basic goal of economic policy is
identified as inclusive growth, recognising that “growth must not be
treated as an end in itself but as an instrument for spreading
prosperity to all” (page 22). Inclusive growth in turn is given a more
precise definition than is usual, as growth that improves the incomes
and other measures of conditions of life of the bottom 20 per cent of
the population.

This inclusive growth is to be delivered by a change in focus to
enabling government, which is seen as “a government that does not try
to directly deliver to its citizens everything that they need. Instead
it (1) creates an enabling ethos for the market so that individual
enterprise can flourish and citizens can, for the most part, provide
for the needs of one another, and (2) steps in to help those who do
not manage to do well for themselves”, for example by “directly
helping the poor by ensuring that they get basic education and health
services and receive adequate nutrition and food” (page 23).

It is immediately clear that this is a vision of the economy in which
it is taken for granted that the market mechanism generally delivers
the economically desired outcomes for most citizens, and the role of
the government is therefore mainly to ensure that such markets
function smoothly and to take care of the stragglers, “for there will
always be individuals, no matter what the system, who need support and
help”. This vision excludes the possibility of the process of market-
driven economic growth itself generating greater material insecurity
and impoverishment for a significant section. Trickle-down is seen to
operate for most of the population; for the bottom fifth, the
government has to step in.

Obviously, in such a framework, public delivery of essential goods and
services will necessarily be targeted to those that are defined as
poor. The chapter contains an eloquent argument in favour of
redefining the nature of public delivery to minimise direct
involvement of the state in favour of market-based mechanisms such as
coupons and vouchers targeted to the poor. This is what allows for the
claim that more can be achieved with less fiscal resources, by
eliminating the administrative costs of running large public schemes.

This would be a major departure from the current practice, with
potentially far-reaching implications in a very wide range of goods
and services that are seen to constitute essential socio-economic
rights. It is impossible to discuss all the different implications
here, so I shall briefly consider only the interventions proposed for
the food economy. The arguments have wide applicability with reference
to other sectors as well.

Managing the food economy

There is an extended discussion on how to manage the food economy,
which is only to be expected given that food price inflation is
clearly the most significant economic problem in the country at
present. Yet the discussion presents several different arguments which
turn out to be mutually inconsistent. In keeping with the overall
approach of an “enabling” state rather than an actively
interventionist one, it is proposed to do away with the existing
system of government food procurement and distribution. It is argued
that this is prone to corruption, adulteration and similar flaws, and
that it is necessary to craft policy that takes into account that
people are the way they are (not always ethically sound) and craft
incentive-compatible policies accordingly. So this is to be replaced
with a system of food coupons (of a certain value of money) given
directly to targeted households and which can be exchanged for wheat
or rice at market prices, giving the freedom of choice to households
about the shop from which to purchase.

This proposal betrays some ignorance about the background of the
current food subsidy and the purposes of the public system of food
procurement and distribution in India. These were (and fundamentally
remain) to provide farmers with a minimum price that covers their
costs, to ensure that basic foodgrain is transported from surplus to
deficit areas of the country, and to build up a system of buffer
stocks that protects the country from international price volatility
and external dependence. It is because the market mechanism was found
wanting in achieving any of these goals that such measures were deemed
necessary – and the persistence of such measures not only in India but
in many countries across the world (including most developed ones)
suggests that this is still the case. Food security within a nation as
large as India is not possible without ensuring the viability of food
production by domestic farmers and the existence of a national
distribution system that tries to reach deficit areas quickly. There
is no way that replacing this with a system of food coupons to
selected households can achieve these basic aims.

There is of course the further question of how to ensure that the
public at large – and the poor in particular - get access to
affordable food. This too is a current function of the public
distribution system (PDS), but it has been less than successful in
meeting it for a variety of reasons. The Economic Survey correctly
recognises the many problems in the existing system but tends to treat
the entire system as homogenous across the country.

There are States in the country (such as Kerala and Tamil Nadu, and to
a lesser extent Andhra Pradesh) where the PDS is a strong, functioning
and largely non-corrupt system, and there are other States where the
opposite is true. Surely, policymakers need to study and understand
these differences if they actually want to make the system work.

What is clear is that targeting tends to add to the problems, not only
because of the significant administrative costs associated with
identifying the poor and monitoring them but because of well-known
errors such as unfair exclusion from and unjustified inclusion in the
list of poor households. That is why the States with more successful
public distribution systems are those that have such large numbers of
declared below-poverty-line (BPL) households that their lists are
close to being universal. The Survey argues that the Unique
Identification System (UID) will solve that problem, but that is
believing that there can be a technological fix to what is essentially
a socio-economic problem. The UID card only identifies a person; the
description of that person as belonging to a poor or non-poor
household remains as cumbersome, problematic, politically charged and
administratively challenging as ever.

The Survey does provide some useful and interesting proposals with
respect to managing the foodgrain stocks and correctly argues for a
more flexible approach in releasing stocks that not only is responsive
to market pressures but also anticipates them. Indeed, the need to
prevent foodgrain allocation from becoming a political tool in the
hands of the Centre vis-a-vis the State governments is all the more
pressing in the light of recent experience. However, it should be
obvious that such a proactive role of the state in preventing food
price increases will not be possible at all if the entire system is
replaced with a system of food coupons!

There is another comment with direct relevance to the food economy
that deserves to be noted. In keeping with the overall perspective
that markets generally know best, the Survey argues for erring on the
side of less control whenever there is some doubt on the matter. This
is then used to suggest that a ban on futures trading in essential
commodities is unwarranted. “An enabling government takes the view
that if we cannot establish a connection between the existence of
futures trading and inflation in spot prices, we should allow futures
trade” (page 24). Yet there are at least two flaws in this argument.

First, as any econometrician would know, it is generally possible to
question any link between two economic phenomena, and so the argument
about whether future trading has been associated with significant spot
price changes will definitely continue well after all the cows have
come home. Yet globally, the existence of contango in commodity
markets (when prices in the futures markets are higher than the spot
prices, instead of lower as they would be if the market was only for
hedging against risk) has been seen as a sign that speculation has
driven changes even in spot prices. It is next to impossible to
provide a clear and explicit link that will satisfy those determined
not to see it.

Second, and perhaps more significantly, there are important conceptual
reasons to be wary of allowing futures trading in any commodity in
which there is significant public intervention in the form of minimum
support prices and so on because these provide an easy floor for
speculators. So this is not a case of allowing something because we do
not have enough information on either side of the argument, but
preventing speculative activity that can cause great harm even as its
possible benefits are minimal.

Enabling markets and empowering the citizenry

There are several other issues that are discussed for which similar
arguments could be made. But it is the broader perspective underlying
this chapter which deserves more careful consideration. The goal is
clearly benevolent: improving the economic conditions of the bottom
quintile of the population. Yet the means that have been proposed
suggest a lack of awareness of the political economy of both markets
and government in India and the social and economic context within
which policies are implemented. This is somewhat surprising because
within the chapter there is a discussion of the need to recognise
extant social realities even though it is more concerned with culture
and social norms.

The point is essentially this: both markets and government policies do
not function in a socio-political vacuum but within complex social
realities in which power relations are deeply entrenched. So it is not
that there are individuals all operating on level-playing fields, with
some having a few disadvantages such as lower income and assets and
less education. Rather, the processes of striving for power, and
keeping it, unfold through the medium of markets. The impact of
government policies depends upon the extent to which they enable
different sets of actors with different power positions to fight for
their rights or advance their own positions.

That is why “free” market functioning tends to accentuate existing
inequalities, both social and economic. To the extent that government
policies are aware of this and are designed to reduce this effect,
they are more successful. All economic policies therefore have
distributive implications, whether or not these are officially
recognised. A government that is genuinely enabling for the citizenry
as a whole and for the poorest citizens has to act decisively in their
favour, and also has to provide good quality public services that the
poor are not excluded from.

In such a context, it is worth stepping back and examining how much of
the declared goal of inclusive growth in the Economic Survey actually
informs the most recent policy statement of the government, the Union
Budget. Surprisingly, the most important initiatives constitute direct
attacks on the incomes of the bottom quintile of the population: the
hike in fuel prices and indirect taxes, which will definitely increase
the price of necessities; the reduction in food subsidy; the
embarrassingly small increases in funds for agricultural schemes,
especially in the most devastated regions; the paltry amounts
allocated to education and health, which cannot possibly ensure good
quality public provision that reaches the poorest. Conversely, the
enabling aspect of government is very clearly evident with respect to
big business, in the form of tax breaks, subsidies for agribusiness
and the like.

The problem is that enabling markets does not always translate into
empowering people: often the reverse is the case. Clearly, whatever be
the more sensitive statements made in the Economic Survey, the basic
philosophy of the government has not changed from an obsessive focus
on growth at any cost.


...and I am Sid Harth
2010-03-21 22:15:07 UTC
Volume 23 - Issue 01, Jan. 14 - 27, 2006
India's National Magazine
from the publishers of THE HINDU

Keezhavenmani revisited

The Keezhavenmani massacre of December 25, 1968, by landlords and
their henchmen, which was all but ignored by the mainstream press, is
poignantly brought to life in a documentary film.

TIME, they say, is the best healer. But certain wounds, especially
those that remain in the collective memory of a society, defy the
saying. This was quite in evidence at a function held in Chennai on
December 18 to mark the release of a documentary film, perhaps the
first ever, on the massacre of 44 people, mostly women and children
belonging to families of Dalit agricultural workers, nearly 40 years
ago at Keezhavenmani village, 25 km from Nagappatttinam in Tamil

The film, Ramiahvin Kudisai (The Hut of Ramiah), narrates how they
were burnt alive in a hut where they had taken refuge. The story is
told by some of the survivors, who break down, unable to contain their
grief and anger, even after such a long time. It is a detailed account
of the violence perpetrated by landlords intolerant of the growing
strength of the agricultural workers' movement in the region. Most of
the invitees, who watched in silence the one-hour film produced by The
Roots and directed by Bharathi Krishnakumar, were seen wiping their
tears at the end of the screening.

Keezhavenmani has gone into the history of the country's agrarian
movement not only as an example of the supreme sacrifice of the
toiling masses in their struggle for liberation from economic
exploitation and social oppression, but also as a frightening reminder
of the ruthless ways in which their oppressors try to protect vested
interests. Thousands of people, including activists of the Left and
Dalit parties, gather at the village on December 25 every year, the
day on which the tragedy took place in 1968, to pay their respects at
the martyrs' memorial.

Strangely, however, the coverage of the incident in the mainstream
newspapers was inadequate. The reports were even misleading in certain
respects. For instance, many newspapers described the incident as a
clash between two sections of kisans, or between two groups of
agricultural workers, all for a wage hike of just half a measure of
rice. The incident was apparently seen in isolation of the
developments during the preceding months. The larger socio-economic
aspects of it were by and large ignored. The documentary fills the gap
to a great extent. It answers many questions, such as why and how the
massacre happened and what roles the police, the State government and
political parties played.

The documentary brings to light many a hidden fact through the
personal accounts of some of the accused in the case relating to the
arson, their close relatives, and a retired police official. The
documentary, with the help of a lot of meticulously collected
background material, presents the incident as part of the decades-long
struggle by under-paid and under-fed agricultural workers for a better
living. In this perspective, any study of the Keezhavenmani massacre
has to be made in the light of the agrarian movement in the rice-rich
undivided Thanjavur district during the preceding three decades.

THANJAVUR district, prior to its division, accounted for nearly 30 per
cent of the State's paddy production, thanks to its rich irrigation
facilities. Thousands of acres of land were in the possession of
temples, Hindu religious mutts and zamindars, a class of people
created by the British to collect land revenues for the government.
Thirty per cent of the cultivable land was in the possession of 5 per
cent of the landholders. Fifty-five per cent of the temple and mutt
lands were under the control of the cultivating tenants. There were
also small and marginal farmers. The district had a large presence of
agricultural workers, most of them Dalits who were treated as slaves
(pannai adimaigal). Dalits were therefore oppressed both socially and
economically. They suffered the worst forms of untouchability, being
denied access to public wells, rivers, streets and temples.

It was under these circumstances that the communist movement struck
root in the district. With agricultural workers being mostly Dalits
and a significant number of marginal and small landholders being from
the socially backward castes, the communists had to integrate the
fight against economic oppression and social oppression with the
cooperation of both these sections. Under the guidance of leaders such
as A.K. Gopalan, B. Srinivasa Rao and Manali C. Kandasami, the
communists first organised the cultivating tenants, who were at the
mercy of zamindars, temples and mutts, and then agricultural workers.
Long struggles by them for protection from eviction led to the
abolition of the zamindari system with the adoption of the Tamil Nadu
Estates (Abolition and Conversion into Ryotwari) Act, 1948; the
Tanjore Pannaiyal Protection Act, 1952 (later repealed) and the Tamil
Nadu Tenants Protection Act, 1955.

The Tamil Nadu Cultivating Tenants (Payment of Fair Rent) Act, 1956,
was meant to ensure that the tenants paid a fair rent. With the
abolition of the zamindari system, a new class of marginal farmers
emerged, besides the small farmers. Similarly, the mechanisation of
agriculture that came with large allotment of funds for agriculture in
the First Five-Year Plan brought in the daily-wage earners. In the
1950s a Minimum Wages Act fixing wages for farm workers came into
being. The communist agricultural workers' unions demanded agreements
on payment of wages for both cultivation and harvest periods. In the
1960s, thanks to developments such as border wars, steep fall in food
production and certain actions of the Union government, such as,
devaluation of the Indian rupee in 1966, there was a spurt in prices
of agricultural commodities giving fillip to demands for higher wages
in several places. A separate organisation for championing the cause
of agricultural workers were later formed.

The peasant movement in the State also agitated for reducing the
concentration of land in the hands of a few by fixing a ceiling on
holdings and for redistributing the surplus land among the landless
agricultural workers. The Tamil Nadu Land Reforms (Fixation of
Ceiling) Act, 1961, came into being. It is another matter that the
Act, riddled with loopholes, ensured that not much land was declared
as surplus.

Before achieving these, however, the tenants, small and marginal
landholders and agricultural workers had to confront the money power
and political influence of the landowners at several levels. The
confrontation often led to violence and loss of lives. The police were
invariably on the side of the landowners. Many people, including some
frontline leaders, were killed in police firings. Interestingly, in
the early years of the agitations for increased wages, agricultural
workers and agriculturists signed wage accords in the presence of the
police. The workers intensified their struggles when landholders
refused to pay the wages agreed upon and threatened to replace them
with workers from other places.

The Paddy Producers Association, a militant organisation of
landholders, emerged. The association not only refused to pay higher
wages but also threatened landholders intent on implementing the wage
accord with dire consequences. In 1966, the union organised rallies
and a strike in the district demanding appointment of a tripartite
committee. But the Congress government in the State refused to yield.
Next year, the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) came to power in
alliance with the Communist Party of India (Marxist). The union
renewed the plea for a tripartite committee to settle the wage issue,
but the DMK government also was in no mood to accept it. However,
following the death in police firing of a union worker who was trying
to protect the union flag from attack allegedly by the men of
landlords at Poonthazhangudi village on October 6, 1967, the State
government convened a tripartite conference at Mannargudi, which fixed
the wages for the short-term crop. It was valid only for a year.
Meanwhile, the Nagappattinam taluk unit of the Paddy Producers
Association came under the control of Irinjur Gopalakrishna Naidu, a
landlord, who formed a brigade of volunteers allegedly to oppress the
workers through intimidation, undertake harvest operations, and let
loose terror.

THIS was the situation when the Keezhavenmani carnage happened. The
major issue was the refusal of landlords to yield to the agricultural
workers' demand for higher wages since the earlier agreement had
lapsed. The workers demanded six litres of paddy for every 48 litres
harvested, but the Paddy Producers Association did not agree. Wherever
workers insisted on the higher wage, the association arranged for
carrying out harvest operations with "outside" labour in violation of
the understanding between the disputants under earlier wage accords.


A glass urn containing the remains of the victims, collected a few
days after the incident by freedom fighter I. Maayandi Bharathi. The
urn is now kept at the memorial for the victims at Keezhavenmani.

Wherever the landlord offered to pay higher wages, the Producers
Association protested and warned of counter action. The association
allegedly threatened the agricultural workers in Keezhavenmani around
December 10 that their huts would be torched. Leaders of agricultural
workers said that the taluk secretary of the CPI(M) and party
legislator K.R. Gnanasambandan had written to the State Chief
Secretary about the threat and asked for protection to them. (But a
communication from the Chief Secretary, however, reportedly stated
that the legislator's letter had reached him only in January.) Both
the letters were of no avail.

The apprehensions of the labour leaders were proved right on December
25. The Hindu's lead story on December 27, 1968, reported that 42
persons, mostly Harijans (as Dalits were called then), were burnt
alive on the night of December 25, and that the gruesome incident
followed a clash between two groups of kisans. It said: "Twenty-five
huts in all were burnt to ashes. The victims are said to have taken
refuge in a hut, which was among those destroyed." The report gives
the information that the landowners refused to concede the demand of
"Marxist kisans" that they be paid a harvest wage of six litres of
paddy and went ahead with harvesting that day engaging labour from a
neighbouring village. When these "outside" workers were returning
after work in the evening, the report said, "a group of about 200
persons attacked them, armed with deadly weapons". In the clash that
followed, Pakkirisami Pillai, a farm worker, sustained stab injuries,
which proved fatal. The "outside" workers ran away and the attacking
mob chased them. According to the report, around 10 p.m., another
group of about 200 persons were said to have marched to Keezhavenmani,
where a clash followed. Gunshots were also heard during this clash.
Twenty-five houses were set on fire. The inmates of huts ran out and
were said to have taken refuge in a single hut, which was among those
burnt down, the report said. Nineteen persons injured in both the
clashes were hospitalised. The report said that Gopalakrishna Naidu
was among those taken into custody. The report refers briefly to the
kisan trouble in East Thanjavur district for two months.

Although a police station was within 5 km from the village, the police
came to the spot hours after the incidents. Senior police officials
reportedly came only the next morning. Despite prohibitory orders,
hundreds of people visited the village.

Chief Minister C.N. Annadurai observed: "The incident is so savage and
gruesome that words fail me to express my agony and anguish" and
deputed two Ministers, M. Karunanidhi and S. Madhavan, to visit the
village and report to him. The eighth congress of the CPI(M), then
being held in Kochi, expressed its shock over "the inhuman act of
vandalism of the landlords' goondas" and directed P. Ramamurti, member
of the party's Polit Bureau and Member of Parliament, K.R.
Gnanasambandam, member of the Tamil Nadu Assembly, to rush to the
village. Ramamurti visited the village and later held discussions with
the Chief Minister.

Two days later, Annadurai announced that a one-man commission, headed
by Justice Ganapathia Pillai, would inquire "into the problems of
agricultural labour, the relationship between the labourer and the
landlord, and connected issues in East Thanjavur". Another immediate
action taken by the government was to bifurcate the Thanjavur police
district and appoint Walter Devaram Superintendent of Police for East
Thanjavur with Nagapattinam as headquarters.

Protest meetings and demonstrations by workers of the Left parties
were held all over the State. Leaders condemned the massacre and the
police administration's failure to protect the lives of the poor Dalit
agricultural workers.

B.T. Ranadive, CPI(M) Polit Bureau member, wrote in a long article on
the tragedy in the party's official organ People's Democracy, in its
January 12, 1969 issue: "It must be stated that had the DMK Ministry
been alert, the wage question could have been settled long ago. But
blackmailed by Congress propaganda about the breakdown of law and
order, and pressurised by the landlords within its own party, the
Ministry allowed things to drag on thereby encouraging the latter's
offensive against the workers." He stated that the DMK Ministry could
not escape the guilt of connivance at the growing crimes of the
landlords. "In the last few months at least three murders of leaders
of agricultural workers had taken place and neither the Ministry nor
the local police had taken any action to counter this campaign of
murder and terror and bring the criminals to justice," wrote Ranadive.
The veteran Marxist also gave a graphic account of what he saw at
Keezhavenmani when he visited the village a few days after the

A long article by D. Pandian in the official organ of the Communist
Party of India (CPI) also threw more light on the tragic incident. He
wrote: "The latest mass murder of women and children is the
continuation of this reign of terror of mirasdars [landlords]. All
these murders took place in a taluk where special police reinforcement
is sent to `protect the crops' according to the Ministry. And, yet on
December 25, at about 7 p.m. this savagery was enacted with impunity."
He said that the police went there only around 10 a.m. the next day
only to collect the charred remains of the victims. "The mirasdars set
fire to the hut and butchered the innocent victims; the police
completed the `cremation'," the article said.

"From all evidence," Pandian wrote, "it is clear that it was a pre-
planned, calculated murder." He also faulted the State government for
its "callousness and failure to protect the kisans, poor Harijans,
even after a series of murders in the area."

THE documentary, succeeds to a fairly large extent in revoking the
memories of the mass murder as one of the most heinous crimes against
women and children, by recreating the mood of that fateful night and
restating the tales of woe of those less fortunate and deprived
sections of the people by their survivors and those who stood by them
in those hours of crisis in their own words. It goes further and makes
some bold statements by going deeper into the issues involved.

For instance, it attempts to establish that the massacre of the
innocents was an `avoidable' crime. It adduces evidence to show that
had the government acted on the alerts from the kisan and labour
leaders about the threats from the landlords and their henchmen, the
carnage could have been averted.

A letter to the Chief Secretary from Gnanasambandam, written 15 days
before the incident reportedly reached its destination late - around
January 5,1969. Another appeal to the government from legislators such
as N. Sankariah to convene a meeting of the Assembly to discuss the
worsening situation in respect of relations between agricultural
workers and a section of landlords failed to provoke any response. A
warning from Ramamurti to the State government that if the activities
of the Paddy Producers Association president were not checked by the
police and the administration, the agricultural workers' organisation
also might have to think of an army of volunteers to protect
themselves as had been done by Gopalakrishna Naidu was also of no
avail. In the process of revealing this, the documentary raises
questions about the policy of the then DMK government in using the
police while dealing with issues relating to labour and also about a
possible nexus between the police and the landlords. What results is
an expose of the government's inefficiency in managing crises.

Another aspect that is highlighted by Krishnakumar's short film is the
unbelievable attachment of the people of that little village not only
to their soil but also to the movement that grew with them in that
region. Ignoring threats to their lives and casting aside offers of
allurement, an affected person states in the documentary that they
refused to pull down the flags and switch sides. Nor did they accept
the offer to be resettled in a nearby village. The documentary also
exposes the weakness of the judicial system. One of the accused in the
main mass murder case confesses how he could escape punishment by
claiming alibi with the help of an obliging doctor. (Although 10 of
the accused, all landlords, were convicted and sentenced to 10 years'
imprisonment, the High Court quashed the sentence on appeal and the
Supreme Court confirmed it.)

A striking contribution of the documentary is perhaps that it
highlights the point that the fight for liberation from economic
exploitation and social oppression has necessarily to be an integrated
one and Dalit liberation is inseparably linked to the fight against
exploitation of all sorts, which many of the interviewees vouchsafed
for from their own experience in East Thanjavur.


Volume 22 - Issue 04, Feb. 12 - 25, 2005
India's National Magazine
from the publishers of THE HINDU


Crushed by the crowd

The stampede and fire at the Mandhardevi temple in Maharashtra, in
which some 300 people died, provides an occasion to look at the safety
measures at India's many pilgrim centres.


At the Mandhardevi temple at Wai, victims of the stampede on January

"I couldn't see anything except the head of the person in front of me
but all of a sudden there was shouting and the crowd started pushing.
I resisted but it was like a powerful wave. The ground was slippery
and people started falling. I fell and people fell on me... the air
went out of me in one shot. I thought my chest would be crushed. I
could not breathe and thought I would die. AlI I wanted to do was
place my offering before the Devi. That's what all of us wanted and
this is what we got."

- Nababai, a Wai stampede survivor.

THE most tragic fact about the stampede at the Mandhardevi temple at
Wai in Maharashtra's Satara district on January 25 was that it was at
once avoidable and inevitable. For the three-lakh devotees nothing
mattered - not the steepness of the climb to the temple, the narrow
entrance, or the small size of the temple compound. They were many
more than the usual number for the doubly auspicious full moon day
because it was a Tuesday, a rare combination. By the time the police
officer in charge realised, close to noon and the auspicious hour,
that the sea of humanity was swelling fast and asked for more
policemen it was too late. Thirty men arrived but the situation had
gone out of control.

In the space of a couple of hours an estimated 300 people died and
property worth lakhs was burnt. Instead of a line of enthusiastic
devotees winding their way up the hill, all that was visible was a
giant head of fire. Rescue teams that arrived from Pune, 200 km away,
could see the fire from miles afar but it took them four hours to
negotiate the 12-km ghat road to reach the site atop a 1,200-metre-
high hill. There they were faced with treacherously slippery steps,
burning stalls, mangled bodies and the prospect of an occasional gas
cylinder bursting.

Doctors at the rural and mission hospitals in Wai said that judging by
the expression on the faces of most of the dead persons, death seemed
to have been instantaneous. It was an important indicator for the
investigators as it showed the rapidity with which things happened.

The State government's response was to announce cash aid to the
survivors and to set up a judicial inquiry into the causes of the
tragedy. In the blame game that followed, everything, from the death
toll to the possible cause, came under dispute. The authorities say
251 people died - 157 women, 88 men, five boys and a girl - while the
local people say the toll is much higher and that the bereaved took
away bodies to avoid paperwork with the authorities.

Eyewitness accounts of the tragedy vary. The most plausible sequence
of events suggests that some devotees slipped on a mix of water from
broken coconuts and blood from sacrificed goats, and that triggered
panic and a stampede. Packed beyond capacity in a compound, people
struggled to find a way out and surged towards the two openings of the
compound, one of which had been earmarked for entry and the other for
exit. The 30 or so policemen on duty inside were powerless to do


A fire rages in the stalls near the temple.

What happened next is not clear. The fire that started has been
attributed to an electric pole that fell and sent shock waves through
the coconut water, adding to the panic. Another version is that as
word spread of possible deaths, angry people burnt some shops on the
road. As the fire spread, gas cylinders started exploding - 25 were
counted in the space of two hours. Doctors confirmed that there were
no deaths from the fire or the explosions. All the deaths were caused
by suffocation.

Reconstructing the sequence of events will certainly assist the
investigation, but even a cursory survey exposes many inadequacies.
The Mandhardevi temple is atop a hill and is reached after a steep
climb that culminates in narrow steps. A narrow gateway opens out into
a compound large enough to accommodate about 250 people. On this
occasion there were reportedly close to a thousand devotees inside.
There are two access points to the temple and for the occasion it was
decided to use one as an entry and the other as an exit. This attempt
at crowd control came to nought when the crowd stampeded.

The Shakambhari Paush Purnima is an annual event and attracts
thousands of devotees, many of them from the farming community eager
to pay obeisance to the goddess for the good harvest. Devotees first
break coconuts at the Mangirbaba temple near the entrance to the main
temple, sacrifice goats, offer oil at the deepmal and dance holding
aloft Goddess Kalubai's idol.

Despite this being the time-honoured tradition, no attempt has been
made to cordon off space for the breaking of coconuts. Blood from the
sacrificial goats flows freely. The sacrificed animal has to be cooked
and eaten immediately but no special spot has been marked for this and
people camp anywhere, setting up stoves and fires. The place also
lacks accommodation or conveniences for those who have come for the 15-
day festival.

Basic precautions were not followed and this magnified the extent of
the tragedy. If fewer people had been permitted at a time into the
compound, the likelihood of a stampede would have been reduced. The
availability of a public address system could have restored order
faster and the panic could have been quelled. If there had been a
watchtower, the authorities would have been able to anticipate and
control the problem.

Furthermore, despite knowing that the day was an extra special one,
there were only 300 policemen for a gathering of three lakh. There was
not even one fire tender or ambulance. At least 300 makeshift stalls
had come up on the hillside, selling pooja materials and serving
snacks. How were these unlicensed shops allowed to use gas cylinders?

Said an official of the local administration: "Our hands are tied when
it comes to religious matters. It is so difficult to make suggestions,
leave alone enforce precautions, even of basic safety, when it comes
to religious fairs. If the S.P. [Superintendent of Police] insists on
limiting the numbers who enter a small area then people complain that
we are interfering with their worship. If we try to clear the stalls
on the road, the stall owners say their livelihood is being taken
away. What are the alternatives? We are forced to stand back and wish
for the best."

THE Kumbh Melas at Allahabad in Uttar Pradesh and Haridwar in
Uttaranchal may offer him quite a few lessons in crowd management.
Allahabad is currently hosting the month-long Magh Mela (January 14-
February 14). Over 25 lakh people gathered at the confluence of the
Ganga and the Yamuna on January 14; around 80 lakh are expected to
take a dip in the sangam on Febuary 8, Mauni Amavasya.


At the Kumbh Mela at Trimbakeshwar near Nashik in Maharashtra on
August 27, 2003, pilgrims fall as they try to break through barricades
during the "Shahi Snan" (grand bath).

Crowd management is not a worry for B.S. Ojha, Kumbh Mela officer in
Allahabad. Huge crowds gather now and then on the banks of the Ganga
for a holy dip but Ojha claims that the city has never witnessed a
stampede. "This has been made possible by the scientific crowd
management adopted by the administration. We constantly keep an eye on
the movement of the crowd. If we see crowd pressure increasing on a
particular route, we divert people to another route," said Ojha.
"Besides, there are clear incoming and outgoing routes, which are far
away from one another, to avoid stampedes." A well-managed public
address system advises people on the route they should take to go in
or come out and there are enough police personnel to guide the crowd.

Over three crore people gathered in Allahabad for over a month during
the Purna Kumbh in 2001, to take a holy dip in the Ganga. It passed
without incident even on the important bathing days when around 80
lakh people gathered on a single day for a holy dip. In Haridwar, too,
barring 1986, when more than 50 people died in a stampede, there has
been no untoward incident during the Purna or Ardh Kumbh Melas.
Incidently, the last time there was a stampede at a Kumbh Mela was in
2003 in Nashik in Maharashtra. More than 40 people died in it.

The secret to successful crowd management lies in proper assessment of
the crowd pressure, chalking out of entry and exit routes, round-the-
clock vigil on crowd movement on important bathing days using cameras
mounted on watchtowers, deployment of adequate numbers of the police
forces, and an alert management capable of reacting quickly at the
first sign of trouble.

Said Ojha: "Police and paramilitary forces are deployed at every nook
and corner to control the crowd. Divers are on standby and so are
water police personnel who keep an eye on people in the river."

A strict vigil on crowd behaviour ensures that nothing untoward
happens. Said Allahabad District Magistrate Mahabir Yadav, who is in
charge of the overall administration of the sprawling mela ground:
"There are 10 police stations and 24 police chowkis only for the mela
ground, besides the Rapid Action Force (RAF) and the Provincial Armed
Constabulary (PAC) to manage the crowd. Administrative officials camp
there round-the-clock on important bathing days." Cameras mounted on
three watchtowers constantly scan the ground for any unusual crowd

The supervision is much the same in Haridwar too. There is a proper
traffic plan, both for vehicles and for pedestrians, on important
bathing days and it is adhered to strictly even if the crowd is not as
big as expected, according to Navin Chandra Sharma, mela officer in
Haridwar. "At times this exposes us to ridicule that there are more
policemen than pilgrims, as happened during the ardh Kumbh in February-
May last year, but we allow nothing to disturb our traffic plan," said
Sharma. Besides, only a specific number of pilgrims are allowed into
the river at any given time. "The rest are made to walk around
barricades in order to slow down their approach to the river," said

ONE of the most sophisticated systems of queue regulation and crowd
management in temples is the one at the hill temple of Venkateswara at
Tirumala in Andhra Pradesh. But that has not allayed fears about the
safety of pilgrims in the event of a situation arising out of, say, a
fire from a short-circuit. At any given time there are around 3,000
people in queues, besides around 50,000 waiting in the massive
complexes constructed outside the temple.


The semi-circular queue complex for pilgrims at the Venkateswara
temple in Tirumala.

The queue-complexes are divided into spacious and airy compartments
with seating arrangements and closed-circuit television, which
telecast the rituals going on inside the temple. The Tirumala Tirupati
Devasthanams (TTD) has also introduced the computer bar-coded
wristband called `Sudarshanam token', which indicates the time of
darshan for each pilgrim. This, besides easing the congestion at the
temple, gives the pilgrims the opportunity to visit other nearby
temples and places of tourist interest instead of waiting endlessly in
the queue.

To handle the crowds on special days such as New Year's Day and annual
festivals, when more than a lakh people congregate, the TTD initiated
land acquisition proceedings and evicted all the residents,
shopkeepers and hawkers around the temple after a protracted legal
battle. The TTD, with a Rs.600-crore annual budget, rehabilitated all
the displaced persons at the foothills at an enormous expenditure.

The safety of pilgrims, particularly inside the temple, remains a
concern considering the fact that entry and exit are through one
passage, the `Mahadwaram', the main door. But on the question of
making modifications to the main structure the TTD's hands are tied.
The Agama Sastras, which deal with temple architecture and the rituals
to be performed in a temple, do not permit any tinkering with the
temple structure under any pretext. A few years ago the TTD thought in
terms of a second entry/exit point to the main temple complex but
dropped the plan after the Mathadhipathis and Peethadhipathis cried
sacrilege and pointed out that it would be a violation of the Agamic

In fact, the religious heads are against even the modification of any
structure situated outside the main temple. A case in point is the
controversy over the recent demolition of the 1,000-pillar mandapam
outside the temple to meet the increasing pilgrim influx. While the
TTD argued that the demolished mandapam had no religious significance,
Tridandi Ramanuja Jeeyar, who spearheaded a movement against the
demolition, insisted that it was nonetheless a heritage structure that
had to be protected. A few court cases on the demolition and a probe
initiated by the government have put a damper on the TTD's

THE resistance at Vaishno Devi, the seven-century-old shrine in
Udampur district of Jammu and Kashmir, is from environmentalists, who
are against the blasting of rocks in the picturesque Trikuta hills to
carve out new routes to the shrine. In the last 20 years there has
been a manifold increase in the number of pilgrims - it was 6.1
million in 2004 - trekking the approximately 14 km to the shrine, and
the authorities have responded by carving out new routes for them. For
instance, a new route has halved the time taken to trek between
Adhkawari (midway between Katra and Bhavan) and Bhavan but it is prone
to landslides. A constant reminder of this fact is the barren
mountains along the route. The authorities have built temporary tin
sheds along the tract for pilgrims and also put up warning signs.

Officials of the Vaishno Devi Shrine Board say they are carrying out
massive afforestation to arrest the instability of the hills, but
Sohan Singh, former Chief Conservator of Forest of Jammu and Kashmir
and eminent environmentalist, says the damage is irreparable.

The nine-member Vaishno Devi Shrine Board was set up in 1986 with the
Governor as the head to ensure that the more than 20,000 pilgrims who
visit the shrine every day met with no accident. Among its other
members are the State Chief Secretary and the Principal Secretary to
the Governor. So far the Board has invested over Rs.125 crores to
provide infrastructure and other facilities.

The Board, through a set of guidelines, regulates the pilgrimage. It
issues yatra slips at Katra town, which is the base camp, and these
have to be produced at Bhavan in order to enter the shrine. The Board
has limited the number of slips to 25,000 a day. "This is the best
guarantee to avoid a rush, which can become unmanageable near the
shrine complex," says Rohit Kansal, additional chief executive officer
of the Board.

Two hundred pilgrims are sent into the shrine at a time and they are
not allowed to carry coconuts for reasons of security - explosives
could be hidden in them. Coconuts are also not allowed to be broken
near the holy cave. Pilgrims deposit the coconuts at a counter in the
main waiting hall and are given a token. They can reclaim their
coconut from a separate counter once they come out of the cave after


At Vaishno Devi, security personnel check offerings brought by

To meet any eventuality, there is a medical dispensary every 4 km on
the route and at Sanjichat, 4 km from the shrine and the highest point
of the pilgrimage, there is an intensive care unit. For any trekker
who requires immediate specialised treatment, the Board has a free
helicopter service to Katra town.

At Vaishno Devi and Tirumala, the threat of militant attacks adds a
new dimension to the task of crowd management. At Vaishno Devi, which
is located close to the militant-infested areas of Udhampur district,
besides the Jammu and Kashmir Police, six companies of the Central
Reserve Police Force provide security for pilgrims. The deployment of
such a large number of personnel followed the July 21, 2003, killing
of six persons, including an infant, in a grenade attack by Lashkar-e-
Taiba militants. Now, at various points on the trekking route,
pilgrims have to pass through X-ray machines that detect explosives.

The authorities at Tirumala have been on high alert following the
terrorist attacks on Parliament House (December 13, 2001), the
Askharadam temple in Gandhinagar, Gujarat (September 24, 2002), and
Vaishno Devi. The assassination attempt on Chief Minister N.
Chandrababu Naidu at Alipiri, on the Tirupati-Tirumala ghat road, on
October 1, 2003, led to a further tightening of security at the temple
to the extent of making it virtually impregnable. Heavy metal
barricades have been installed in front of the `Mahadwaram' and armed
guards have been posted at the entrance. At the foothills at Alipiri
sophisticated security gadgets have been installed.

At the end of the day, however, one false step, as perhaps happened at
the Mandhardevi Temple, could bring to nought the best-laid safety and
security plans. That is the eternal challenge before the authorities
dealing with crowd control.

Reports from
in Wai
in New Delhi
in Tirupati
in Jammu


Volume 19 - Issue 22, October 26 - November 08, 2002
India's National Magazine
from the publishers of THE HINDU


The wrong lessons
in New Delhi

The new social science textbooks of the NCERT for Classes Six and Nine
are flawed in terms of factual details, content and historical

NEVER before in recent history has any national educational body been
embroiled in successive controversies of the kind that the National
Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) has. Most of the
credit for this goes to the current dispensation in the Ministry of
Human Resource Development and those in positions of authority in the
Council. Now, once again, the Council is the centre of attention in
educational circles, for all the wrong reasons. This time, the new
social science textbooks prescribed for Classes Six and Nine have been
found flawed in terms of factual details, interpretation, content and
historical understanding. The books were brought out after a Supreme
Court stay on the implementation of the National Curriculum Framework
for Secondary Education (NCFSE) in the areas of "Social Sciences,
History and Hindi" was lifted on September 12.

What is surprising is that despite apprehensions of alleged distortion
of history and misrepresentation of facts in these textbooks, the
NCERT has not done much to mollify its critics. If anything, the books
contain any number of bloomers and apparent instances of political
bias. Another embarrassing dimension is that with only a few months
left for the end of the academic session, the books have come rather
late and therefore constitute a fait acccompli.

Ever since the Bharatiya Janata Party-led government took charge at
the Centre three years ago, the HRD Ministry under Murli Manohar Joshi
and allied departments have made intense efforts to alter the
trajectory and interpretation of historical knowledge at any cost.
Obsessed with the notion that the existing history textbooks for
schools contained the Leftist interpretation of history, the BJP-led
government — the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) constituents on
the whole have had little to do with this ideologically motivated
exercise — set about purging individuals from institutions and
material from textbooks. The material removed, according to it, did
not portray historical facts correctly and sometimes even hurt the
sentiments of certain communities. The NCFSE 2000 became the blueprint
for preparing new syllabi and textbooks with a view to reducing the
burden on children. Textbooks authored by prominent historians such as
Romila Thapar, Satish Chandra, Bipan Chandra and NCERT historians
Arjun Dev and Indira Dev became the casualties.

The content and language of the new books sadly lack the basic
intellectual appeal that earlier books had. Topics have been dealt
with cursorily. It appears that the new authors have taken extra pains
to highlight certain ideas of the present government at the Centre, as
for instance, those in the arena of foreign policy, the relations with
the United States in particular. But what is more serious is the
preoccupation with projecting a civilisational (and cultural)
antiquity and drawing seemingly endless parallels between the Harappan
and Vedic civilisations.

To begin with, in the textbook "India and the World", prescribed for
Class Six, Chapter Ten entitled `Indian Civilisation-Harappan
Civilisation', betrays a deliberate effort to imply that contemporary
religious beliefs and practices of Hindus, such as worshipping the
Siva linga or the pipal tree prevailed in that period as well. Some
terracotta figurines and seals of the Harappan period have been
depicted as the kamandala, Siva linga and the swastika, icons of
present-day Hindu worship. A terracotta figurine is shown with
vermilion in the parting of the hair to further emphasise the religion
of the Harappans, but at no point is it categorically stated. The
inference throughout this section is that the Vedic and Harappan
civilisations were one and the same, a theory being propounded by a
select group of historians and archaeologists.

Therefore, right from the beginning, the civilisation is referred to
as the Harappan, Indus or Indus-Saraswati civilisation. Even while
elaborating the geographical spread of the civilisation, nowhere is it
mentioned that its two most important sites, Mohenjo-daro and Harappa,
are located in Pakistan. On the possible reasons for the decline of
this civilization, nowhere is it mentioned that the advent of the
Aryans could have been a factor. Some ideas mooted in this chapter are
laughable. The presence of an elaborate drainage system was one of the
most impressive features of the Harappan period, but the NCERT would
like one to believe that this was because the Harappans gave
importance to sanitation and not because some sort of a municipal
structure existed. The possibility of a municipal structure having
existed was pointed out by historian D.N. Jha in his book Ancient
India - An Introductory Outline (People's Publishing House, New Delhi,

Chapter 11, titled `The Vedic Civilisation', introduces a new concept
of Vedic geography, perhaps to drive home the fact during the Rig
Vedic times people were settled in the same area that was the centre
of the Harappan civilisation. Readers are also informed that "the
largest number of Harappan settlements are found on the Saraswati

There are some obvious omissions in this chapter, especially in the
sections on economic and social life and food habits of the Harappan-
Vedic times. Though cattle rearing was the chief occupation, as was
pointed out by Jha, the cow was not held sacred then. Beef was a
delicacy offered to the guest. The cow was an important economic
resource, a fact that has been conceded by all groups of historians.
But the NCERT historians make the cow a sacred animal in the Vedic
period itself, probably to drive home the fact that contemporary Hindu
beliefs and practices were an offshoot of Vedic systems. The
subsequent deterioration in the status of women, the strong
patriarchal order, the rigidity of the Varna order and the dominance
of certain castes over others do not find mention anywhere in the

In Chapter 16 of the same book, which deals with India's cultural
contacts with the outside world, there is a picture of the Buddha
statue at Bamiyan, with the caption: "The Buddha statue at Bamiyan was
destroyed in 2001 by religious fanatics headed by the Taliban. They
destroyed all the relics kept in Kabul Museum." If the handiwork of
religious fanatics was to be described at all, the authors need not
have gone as far as Afghanistan but looked for equally recent examples
in India. It would have been easier for students to relate to the
demolition of the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya to understand what religious
fanaticism is all about.

Chapter 17, on `Major Religions', reminds the reader that some
scholars believe that the Harappan and Vedic civilisations are the
same. One is also informed that Hinduism, apart from being a Sanatana
Dharma (that which is eternal), "does not believe that there is only
one way of achieving salvation like other monotheistic religions." But
there have been sects, the Arya Samaj for instance, that are opposed
to the idea of Sanatana Dharma, writes a historian.

To highlight the distinct identity of Hinduism vis-a-vis other
"monotheistic religions" smacks of nothing but pure bias. It is also
not a coincidence that while disagreements in Christianity and the
formation of sects in it find mention, Hinduism is portrayed as a
relatively conflict-free religion. That several sects emerged on
account of the conflict with various Vedic religious practices does
not find any reference in the textbook.

No distinction is being made between theology and philosophy in the
new books, says Arjun Dev. No basic historical perspective of Hinduism
is given especially to explain the process of change over a period of
time. Also flawed is the explanation about the emergence of Jainism
and Buddhism. According to the new textbook, these two religions
simply emerged out of a quest for salvation through knowledge which
had already been initiated by the philosophical tradition and six
philosophies of the Upanishads. That these two religions denied the
authority of the Vedas and opposed animal sacrifice, thus bringing
them into conflict with the brahmanical orthodoxy, does not find

THE social science textbook prescribed for Class Nine is equally
deficient in terms of facts and understanding. Entitled "Contemporary
India", the book has three units. In Unit I, which is the history
component of the textbook and which deals with India in the 20th
century, the reader is informed that one of the most noteworthy
developments of the century was the "coup" in Russia. To write off the
October 1917 Revolution as a coup is only to undermine its historical
importance and its significance for the working class struggle.
Fascism and Nazism are described as dictatorial tendencies. Communism
is also described in the same vein, to have "represented a similar
trend in the sense that it stood for the dictatorship of a particular
class". Regarding the former two, there is no mention of the
Holocaust, the responsibility for the World War and the systematic
persecution of certain people in Nazi Germany, including social
democrats, trade unionists and socialist and Communist leaders.

AS for bloomers, on Page 4 of the textbook, Madagascar, which is an
island in the Indian Ocean off the east coast of South Africa, is
mentioned as being in the Arabian Sea. The editor of the book is a
retired Professor of Geography. There are more serious errors, such as
the one suggesting that Stalin was the first European leader to enter
into a peace agreement with Hitler, to buy temporary peace. It is
amazing that the authors should conveniently forget the Munich Pact
where one of the most shameful acts of appeasement and betrayal was
enacted, says Arjun Dev.

From Chapter Two to Six, beginning with British policies and ending
with the Independence struggle in India, there are innumerable
references to the Muslim League and to Muslim communalism, such as:
"In short, the Muslim League communalised the country's political
situation which, in turn, produced disastrous results." There is no
mention of Hindu communalism with particular reference to the Hindu
Mahasabha or the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh. But statements like the
"only political elements who did not support the Quit India Movement
were the Indian communists and the followers of Jinnah" abound. The
RSS is not perceived as a "political element" here. Interestingly,
there is no reference at all to the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi by
a Hindu fanatic.

If certain exclusions appear odd, then certain inclusions are even
stranger. In Chapter Seven, entitled `Democratic Republic, Integration
and International Relations', there is a reference to Osama bin Laden
and "similar other persons" who are said to have changed the world.
The current hegemony of the U.S. and its support of repressive regimes
in a unipolar world do not seem to merit mention. In fact, Indo-U.S.
relations finds a prominent place in the chapter; the relations are
described rather nostalgically as a "tale of some kind of mistrust as
against the story of a natural friendship that should have existed
between the world's two most celebrated democracies".

In a statement, the NCERT has challenged historians to a debate on the
historical veracity of the facts given in the textbooks. It has
justified the antiquity of zero, the sindoor on terracotta figurines
and the sacredness of the cow as "findings of contemporary historical
research". While the meat of the buffalo, the bull and the calf were
eaten, the cow was held sacred throughout, stated Makhan Lal, a
retired Professor of History and one of the authors of the Class Six
textbook. The NCERT director, J.S. Rajput, has defended the use of the
word "coup" in the context of the Russian Revolution. "It is a
surprise that students were taught otherwise because this fact is
recorded in contemporary reports and almost every history textbook
published in the free world," Rajput stated. He said that the Council
would respond positively when genuine mistakes are brought to its

The debate took a new turn on October 16, when in a show of unanimity,
leaders from eight Opposition parties rejected the NCFSE and the new
textbooks on Social Science published by the NCERT. The initiative for
the meeting was taken by the Communist Party of India (CPI), and the
parties who were present included the Congress (I), the Communist
Party of India (Marxist), the Samajwadi Party, the Rashtriya Janata
Dal, the Lok Jan Shakti, the All India Forward Bloc and the
Revolutionary Socialist Party. They demanded that the Central
government immediately constitute the Central Advisory Board on
Education and hold a conference of State Education Ministers as
education was a subject under the Concurrent list. A.B. Bardhan,
general secretary of the CPI said that the new textbooks needed to be
reviewed and withdrawn as a good part of the current academic session
had elapsed and schools continued to use the old books. The meeting
exhorted political parties, including the allies of the NDA, not to
implement the NCFSE and to reject the use of the textbooks.


Should we ban animal sacrifice in temples?

DO WE need to ban the practice offering animals and birds as sacrifice
during prayer in Hindu temples?

Does the State have the authority to police and ban animal sacrifices
of one religious group while allowing another to perform offering of
animals at prayer time.

Lord Krishna while listing the types of devotees based on the kind of
offering/kind of rituals one performs categorises them into (1) satvic
(peaceful, compassionate and calm), (2) rajasic (aggressive and
restive) and (3) tamasic devotees (very selfish and not concerned
about hurting others for one's own joy) based on the sankalpa
(intention), devatha invoked (name and form of the god invoked),
offering to the Lord and the method of prayer.

Not all devotion is satvic; therefore not all offerings are satvic.
From time immemorial the practice of offering animals during worship
as sacrifice is prevalent.

If one is allowed to kill a bird or an animal for his personal
consumption, there can be no extra harm to the animal or bird if it is
killed for the sake of offering.

The only thing that must be debated is the sensibilities of the satvic
person, who may be offering his prayers at that time, being offended
by the offering of animals or birds by those who choose a non-satvic
method based on his sankalpa and nature.

This is certainly very important. Just as smoking in public places is
banned, offering animal sacrifice in temples where predominant style
of praying is satvic is perfectly in order and needs to be done.

Just as certain places are reserved exclusively for smokers, certain
temples where traditionally animal sacrifices are done should be
allowed to continue the practice.

We should accept the fact that it takes all kinds of people to make
the world and we should frame rules and regulations taking this fact
into consideration.

If persons from other faiths can offer animals, if we can display
skinned animals sometimes with its tail intact in meat shops in public
shopping area in villages and small towns, how can we prevent animal
sacrifice in village temples where it is a time immemorial tradition?
What is necessary is proper regulation so that the majority of the
temples where the persons offering prayers choosing the satvic method
are free from animal sacrifices and allow the practice to continue
where traditionally it is much prevalent.

Hinduism is an all-inclusive way of life and therefore cannot exclude
non-satvic methods of offering prayers.



Animal sacrifice: a corrective

WITH REFERENCE to Manikam Ramaswami's article "Should we ban animal
sacrifice in temples?" (Open Page, September 9), the matter has to be
put in a broader, more humane perspective transcending ritualistic
religion or sacred scriptures.

Hinduism is supposed to be a way of life. It is possible to link
virtually every practice and belief to religion. Where do we draw the
line between religion and social practice? Is it to be left
exclusively to those few who can read and interpret ancient Sanskrit
texts or to be decided by collective social thinking informed by
modern humanistic values?

I am sure that millions of Hindus once believed (hopefully not now!)
that sati was a religiously ordained act and would take the victim
straight to heaven. Even now we read now and then about cases of
children being sacrificed before undertaking construction work, and
there was this case of children being temporarily buried alive in
Madurai district purely as a religious belief. Is it true religion or
civilised social norm to brush all these aside, even justify them, as
normal examples of `non-satvic' worship sanctified by Lord Krishna, or
to say that as long as these are done in a predominantly non-satvic
social context it is all right? Are we supposed to take a vote and
decide every time to see whether the non-satvics or the satvics have a
current majority? Is active propagation of such non-satvic practices
desirable (as propagation of one's religion is a fundamental right
under our Constitution)?

Not essential for survival

It is possible, especially in our country, that other religions have
equally reprehensible practices and the government conveniently
ignores them. What needs to be done is to mobilise opinion in favour
of action to check reprehensible practices irrespective of which
religion it is and not to defend such practices merely because others
are doing it. Why not lead all other religions in eliminating such
practices and strengthen our moral right to demand such action
elsewhere? Could Raja Rammohan Roy have fought against sati and child
marriage if he had taken the stand that it should be done after the
Christian and Muslim rituals and laws were reformed?

A comparison is often made between animal sacrifice and non-
vegetarianism. This is not the place to discuss the pros and cons of
non-vegetarianism. Whether it is right or not, fortunate or
unfortunate, human beings are embedded, along with all other living
beings, in a food chain which is part of evolution. (Even eating
plants can be regarded as killing living beings). But sacrifices are
not essential or inevitable for survival. When a cannibal was told
that 20 million people were killed in World War II, he said, "what a
waste of food!" Even cannibals or animals kill only to eat and do not
indulge in sacrifice.

A human rights group has recently issued a statement that banning
animal sacrifice is a violation of the human right of poor people. How
sad that human rights groups, which are otherwise so essential to
society, have evolved such a narrow, irrelevant and barbarous
conception human rights to the callous exclusion of animal rights!
According to them, Buddha, as we usually read in stories, who saved a
lamb from slaughter, may qualify as the first of human rights violator
in history!

A practical view

As an extreme libertarian view or as a practical administrative view,
it is quite possible for one to argue that such matters should be left
to public education and not coercive legislation as, in practice,
trying to prevent such incidents often leads to law and order problems
as I have myself faced once as a Sub-Collector. But these views at
least admit in principle that such practices are bad and need to be
eliminated. But unfortunately, Mr. Ramaswami has not taken this view
but projects it as the essence of the so-called all-inclusiveness of

Mr. Ramaswami starts by quoting the Supreme Court of Hinduism — the
Bhagavad Gita, the implication being that there is no further appeal!
According to the Gita, yajna or sacrifice does not refer to the
ceremonious Vedic ritual of physical killing but dedication of one's
all to the service of the `One Life' that is in all. People with such
a sacrificial spirit will accept even death gladly, though unjustly
meted out to them, so that the world may grow through their sacrifice
(Dr. Radhakrishnan's Bhagavad Gita, Allen & Unwin, 1970). In this
view, when birds and animals are slaughtered, it is they that perform
the real sacrifice a la Gita and not the slaughterers!


Online edition of India's National Newspaper
Tuesday, Sep 16, 2003


Volume 19 - Issue 24, November 23 - December 06 2002
India's National Magazine
from the publishers of THE HINDU


Savaged by tradition

The Jhajjar tragedy is a pointer to the unending plight of Dalits who
are kept ensnared in the most socially degrading traditional


The mother and daughter of Tota Ram, one of the Dalits who were
slaughtered for allegedly skinning a cow in Duliana village in Jhajjar
district of Haryana. Significant numbers of Dalit families are
routinely subjected to violence and brutal humiliation.

THE nation was shamed and stunned once again, this time by the
merciless slaughter of five Dalit men within the boundary of a police
station in Duliana village in Jhajjar district of Haryana. There is
justified, widely shared outrage at the brutality spurred by vicious
pseudo-religious communal mobilisation and unashamed state

However, the ensuing debate needs also to focus on the reality of the
on-going hidden violence and brutal humiliation to which significant
numbers of Dalit families are routinely subjected in villages and
towns across the country, because of their engagement owing only to
their birth in the traditional occupations that are culturally
considered degrading and polluting. These occupations continue to be
in most parts of India the monopoly of a few Dalit castes, a grotesque
perverse legacy for people shunned as the lowest of the low. They are
born into the dishonour of these occupations, and die in it,
frequently, with no path of escape.

On the evening of October 15, 2002, Devendra and Dayachand,
traditional leather-workers, were skinning a dead cow close to the
Duliana police station. With them were animal skin trader Kailash, and
the driver and conductor of the hired vehicle in which the carcass was
transported, Tota Ram and Raju. All of them were Dalits.

A crowd of villagers gathered near the Duliana police station,
infuriated by a rumour that a cow was being skinned alive. They
attacked and gravely injured the Dalit men, who were later dragged to
the police station. The policemen failed to evacuate the critically
wounded men to safety and render medical attention even after the
passage of four hours.

Meanwhile, a tractor-load of young men, who were returning from Dasara
celebrations, converged on the police post, and lynched the men, in
the presence of three magistrates and at least 60 to 70 police
personnel who had been summoned by then. The assembled police force
did little to save the lives of the five. The Vishwa Hindu Parishad
took out a procession in Jhajjar the following day in defence of the
killings, and demanded that no arrests be made. The police have since
dragged its feet in making arrests, claiming that it was too dark at
the time of the incident to identify the murderers.

Dalit women working as municipal sweepers in Delhi. Manual removal of
human waste survives as a deeply humiliating vocation in India despite
it having been outlawed.

The defence of the attackers was that the cow was alive while being
skinned by the Dalits, and that it was this outrage of their religious
sentiments that fuelled the mob fury. The State administration
remained callous and indifferent. Not a single Minister visited the
site or condoled with the bereaved families. Dayachand's brother
Jogendra broke down while testifying before a joint delegation of Left
parties investigating the massacre. "They treated us as though we were
families of the criminals, not the victims," he said. "They gave us
the brutalised body of our brother - naked. We are poor Dalits,
therefore they did not think it necessary to even cover the body of my

AT the heart of their collective tragedy and angst is the trap in
which the most oppressed communities among the Dalits continue to find
themselves even as the country surges into the 21st century.
Tradition, feudal coercion and economic compulsions continue to entrap
Dalit families across the length and breadth of the country into the
most humiliating and despised occupations.

An ambitious national survey of the status of the practice of
untouchability in 12 major Indian States was recently conducted by
ActionAid India, with the collaboration of leading social scientists
Ghanshyam Shah, Sukhdeo Thorat, Satish Despande and Amita Baviskar and
Dalit activists from across the country. One of the findings of the
survey was that Dalits in every State continue to be ensnared into
categories of work that are culturally regarded as most intensely
polluting, unclean and socially degrading. Most of the so-called
unclean occupations are associated in one way or the other with death,
human waste or menstruation, all of which are engulfed by the dense
cultural beliefs of pollution.

The unclean occupations forced upon Dalits that are related to human
death include the digging of graves, collection of firewood for the
cremation of dead bodies and setting up the funeral pyres. Death is
considered so impure and unclean that, in many regions it is Dalits
alone who are required even to communicate the news of any death to
the relatives of the deceased person, whatever maybe the distance.

There are a large number of unclean occupations that derive from the
death of animals. In every State that was surveyed, villagers expect
Dalits to dispose of carcasses of animals that die in their homes or
in the village, whether cattle or dogs or cats. They skin the bodies
of dead animals, flay and tan these and develop them into fine
leather, and sometimes even turn them into footwear and drums. The
pollution associated with leather is so pervasive that in States such
as Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan, Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh and
Maharashtra, even the beating of drums at weddings, funerals and
religious festivals is considered polluting and imposed only on
Dalits. The logic is carried further in States where public
announcements are made in villages by the beat of drum - even this
occupation is considered polluting and is the monopoly of Dalits.

In Andhra Pradesh, animal sacrifice is a polluting task entrusted to
Dalits. The most humiliating custom, observed in 12 per cent of the
villages surveyed, is Gavu Pattadam. This is a ghoulish forced ritual,
by which Dalits are required to bite the neck of the animal to kill
it. The blood of the animal is then mixed with rice and sprinkled all
over the village to keep evil spirits at bay.

A third category of unclean occupations derives from the culturally
polluting character of human waste. In every State surveyed, the
manual removal of human excreta, often with bare hands, survives as a
deeply humiliating vocation despite it having been outlawed. This
pollution extends in many cases to cleaning of sewage tanks, drainage
canals and the sweeping of streets. The beliefs related to the
pollution by menstrual blood results in midwifery and the washing of
clothes deemed as unclean occupations in States such as Uttar Pradesh,
Karnataka, Bihar and Maharashtra.

The survey revealed that continued bondage to unclean occupations
creates not only deep psychological scars but also physical health
problems. In Upale Dumala village in Solapur, Maharashtra, an elderly
Mang man engaged in carcass cleaning developed huge boils and rashes
on his shoulders as a result of carrying carcass. A range of health
problems were reported from elsewhere as well, as a result of the
intensely unsanitary character of their vocations, unmitigated by
modern technology.

The sturdy beliefs in the polluting nature of certain occupations
adapt regressively to a range of potentially liberating contemporary

For instance, the establishment of leather factories and tanneries has
freed Dalits significantly from traditional hereditary occupations,
but Dalits still lift and skin carcasses to sell at a price to these

It is also interesting that leather and tanning factories have a very
high proportion of Dalit workers. In cases where the modern economy or
municipal management requires the transport of solid waste or
cascasses, even the drivers of these vehicles are drawn from the Dalit
community. Municipal authorities routinely employ only Dalits for

Veterinary and medical doctors, unwilling to pollute themselves by
touching corpses, use Dalits to perform post-mortems, whereas they
only sign the reports.

Some unclean occupations are non-voluntary and unpaid, or paid a

The bearing of death messages and temple cleaning in Tamil Nadu,
cleaning up after marriage feasts in Kerala and Karnataka, making
leather chappals for people of higher castes as a sign of respect in
Andhra Pradesh, and drum-beating and the removal of carcasses in many
States are unpaid tasks. Orissa reports payments of leftover food, old
clothes, fistfuls of food grains or petty cash.

The survey in most States reported that Dalits, who still engage in
hereditary polluting occupations, unless they are also bonded, today
usually negotiate some level of wage payment in cash or kind, although
these tend to be low and at times humiliating. The Karnataka survey
reports the payment of arrack, a meal and some cash for drum-beating,
and fixed cash payments for other tasks like mid-wifery and the
lifting of carcasses. Scavengers may be employed on monthly salary by
local bodies, otherwise families pay them cash or stale food.
Similarly, in Orissa the survey showed that the Ghasis, Panos and Doms
involved in leather work and scavenging are landless and most non-
Dalits and even some of the Dalit farmers refuse to employ them for
agricultural wage work. The researchers from Rajasthan reported that
in most villages, cash is rarely paid for traditional unclean work
expected from the Dalits, instead they are usually given food (usually
two rotis).

In several cases, Dalits who persist in unclean occupations do so as
they feel powerless to resist, or even because they accept their caste
roles. In Babufasad village in North Orissa, the elected ward member,
Chamayu Pathar Khamia, who belongs to the Ghasi caste, sweeps the
roads, removes the carcasses and skins dead cattle. In return, he is
given a handful of rice, and occasionally money, by the villagers. "If
I do not do this kind of work, the non-Dalits will threaten me and
force me to leave the village. And because of my work, even Dalits of
the Ganda caste despise me even though we are all Scheduled Castes."

Economic compulsions prevent most Dalits from escaping humiliating
hereditary occupations. They may earn Rs.200 from skinning a dead
buffalo. Scavenging may secure them regular employment in the local

These secure earnings contain the seeds of the cruel dilemma of the
most socially disadvantaged and oppressed Dalits who are trapped in
hereditary `unclean occupations'. Adherence to occupations such as
scavenging or disposal of carcasses and human bodies, which are
indispensable for any society, but which no other group is willing to
perform, bestows them with a monopoly status that gives them greater
economic security than many other disadvantaged groups. But this is at
the price of the most savage and extreme social degradation. Yet, if
they seek to escape this social degradation to achieve dignity, they
have to abandon the economic security of their despised occupations to
join the vast ranks of the proletariat. This, then, is the core of
their dilemma: if they seek economic security, they must accept the
lowest depths of social degradation; but if they wish for social
dignity, they must accept the price of economic insecurity and

Despite the threats of pauperisation, sporadic individual and
collective resistance have led to a steady decline in the numbers of
Dalit families engaged in unclean occupations in most parts of the
country. In Tamil Nadu, in 80 per cent of the villages surveyed, only
Dalits perform the uncleanest of occupations such as carcass removal,
grave digging and the cleaning of garbage after festivals. However,
the major change reported is that in many cases, these activities are
now performed by few, rather than all. The older generation is more
obliging whereas younger Dalits resist.

An interesting example was reported from Beguru village in Karnataka.
Dalits have negotiated with non-Dalits to release them from unclean

The panchayat itself now employs just three Dalits on a monthly wage
of Rs.700 each, to perform the polluting occupations of drum beating,
scavenging, sweeping and removing of dead animals. The remaining
Dalits in the village have been freed, and have shifted to
agricultural wage work, industrial work or have migrated to the cities
for work that may liberate them from the indignities of the caste

However, escape to the anonymity of cities does not always guarantee
liberation from the stigma of unclean occupations. Research in Orissa
observed that Dalits in rural unclean occupations sometimes migrate to
towns, but even there find work mainly as road sweepers and drain
cleaners. There seems no escape for them from social ostracism. The
same trends are reported from other states like Tamil Nadu.

Where hereditary unclean occupations for Dalits remain entrenched in
the rural social system, cracks are developing. There are many reports
of successful resistance from many parts of the country. Some
inspiring case studies have come to light even from the feudal
outposts of Rajasthan.

In Palri village of Sirohi, the Dalits collectively resolved to refuse
to remove the carcasses. The caste Hindus retaliated with a social and
economic boycott and violence, but the Dalits held their ground. Today
they have freed themselves from this legacy of shame. Likewise, in
2001, the Regar community in Sujanpura village of Sikar refused to
lift carcasses. Non-Dalits negotiated and a breakthrough was achieved
when in a major rupture from tradition, it was agreed that two persons
from each caste would take turns to carry the carcass outside the
village. However, it is still left to the Regars to skin the animals.

Likewise, the survey from Tamil Nadu reported that until recently,
refusal to perform unclean activities was met with fines, violence or
excommunication. However, collective resistance has grown over the
past decade, forcing non-Dalits to accept the mobility of these Dalits
into the more respected caste-neutral category of agricultural

Young Dalit men in a meeting with the Left parties in Jhajjar to mourn
the massacre of the five leather workers at the hands of the bigoted
mob, gave words to the depths of their mortification and anger. "These
Hindus, they make us do their dirty work and then deprive us of even a
minimum of dignity." Another added: "If they love their animals so
much, let them pick up the carcasses and bury them with full rites."
The extent to which his words unknowingly echoed those of Dr.
Babasaheb Ambedkar decades earlier reflects how sub-born is the
survival of the most oppressive elements of our troubled tradition. He
had said: "You take the milk from the cows and buffaloes, and when
they are dead, you expect us to remove the dead animals. Why? When you
can carry the dead bodies of your mothers, why can you not carry the
dead bodies of your `mother cows' yourselves?" To our sisters and
brothers, who are entrapped and enslaved to the most disgraceful
elements of our shared legacy, do we have an answer?


Volume 20 - Issue 20, September 27 - October 10, 2003
India's National Magazine
from the publishers of THE HINDU


A decree on animal sacrifice

in Chennai

The Tamil Nadu government's ban on animal sacrifice in temples,
imposed in an effort apparently to please Hindutva forces, attracts
widespread protests.


A scene of animal sacrifice at the Pandi Muneeswarar temple in
THE All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam government in Tamil Nadu
seems to have converted the State into a testing ground by
experimenting with legislative and administrative measures that would
please the champions of neo-liberal reforms and the hard-core Hindutva
elements in the ruling dispensation at the Centre. Chief Minister
Jayalalithaa won the approbation of reforms pundits for getting tough
with government employees and teachers who struck work seeking
restoration of certain rights they were deprived of in the name of
pruning expenditure.

At the social level, a couple of initiatives taken by the government
brought much joy to Hindu fundamentalists. The first was the passing
of the Tamil Nadu Prohibition of Forcible Conversion of Religion Act,
2002 (Frontline, November 8, 2002). The latest is the order to
District Collectors and police officials to put an end to animal
sacrifice in temples by enforcing strictly a 1950 State law against
such sacrifice. Hindutva forces would like to believe that the AIADMK
government had succeeded in areas where even the Bharatiya Janata
Party-led governments at the Centre and in some States could not make
much headway. While the first measure is seen as yet another step
towards realising their long-term objective of Hinduising the multi-
religious Indian society, the second, they believe, will go a long way
in achieving another of their cherished goals - homogenising the
pluralistic Hindu fold.

If the threat by a section of Dalits to leave Hinduism in protest
against casteist oppression apparently provoked the State government
to bring in the anti-conversion law, the order on ending animal
sacrifice in temples came in the wake of the reported `sacrifice' of
500 buffaloes at a village temple in Tiruchi district. Jayalalithaa,
in her communication to officials in the last week of August, advised
stringent action against violators of the Tamil Nadu Animals and Birds
Sacrifices Prevention Act, 1950. She asked them to advise people
against following the practice and prevent them from performing "such
cruel acts". Only two days earlier the Chief Minister had ordered a
compulsory `one-month rest' for all temple elephants every year.
Expectedly, animal lover and former Union Environment Minister Maneka
Gandhi congratulated Jayalalithaa on her initiatives. Among the others
who supported the move were K. Veeramani, general secretary of the
Dravidar Kazhagam, founded by rationalist leader E.V. Ramasami and
leaders of the BJP and most other constituents of the Sangh Parivar.

The reactions of political parties such as the Dravida Munnetra
Kazhagam (DMK), the Communist Party of India and the Communist Party
of India (Marxist) were mixed. Although animal sacrifice was not
acceptable to them, they questioned the wisdom of seeking to end an
age-old practice by the mere enforcement of a law. The Pattali Makkal
Katchi (PMK), felt that the move was unwarranted. Puthiya Tamizhagam,
a Dalit party, demanded a ban also on yagnas conducted by caste Hindus
at the mainstream temples constructed and run under agama rules.
During yagnas, gold coins, diamonds, expensive silk sarees, ghee and
foodgrain are offered to Agni (fire) as `sacrifice', the party said.
The Dalit Panthers of India (Viduthalai Siruthaigal in Tamil) saw the
ban as an interference in the religious rights of the oppressed people
and called for an agitation to protest against it.

Dalits and people belonging to backward and most backward communities,
for whom animal sacrifice is an integral part of worship, expressed
their resentment in no uncertain terms. Within days of the order,
devotees in several parts of the southern districts went ahead with
the customary practice at the local temples in defiance of the ban.
August-September is the time of the annual or biennial `Kodai'
festivals at these temples, and the mood among these people was one of
anger, despair and defiance. In Madurai, devotees of the Pandi
Muneeswarar temple performed animal sacrifice "in fulfilment of their
vow" and shared the meat with relatives in com<147,1,7>munity feasts.
Scores of goats and fowls were reportedly sacrificed. In Tirunelveli
and Tuticorin districts, which have a large number of temples of
village deities, goats and cocks were offered in sacrifice, though a
few metres away from the temples. Thousands of people throng these
temples, particularly on Tuesday, Friday and Saturday.

A devotee of the Sudalai Madasami temple at Sirumalanji in Tirunelveli
district challenged the ban in the Madras High Court on the grounds
that the Act was violative of Articles 19 and 25 of the Constitution.
The government's action was arbitrary and an unwarranted interference
with the religious faith of various Hindu sects, the petitioner, S.
Senthivel Nadar, said in his public interest litigation (PIL) petition
filed on September 5. He stated that the ban sought to end a widely
prevalent practice among a particular community in many parts of the
State. The petitioner feared that the "sudden enforcement" of the Act
would hurt the sentiments of lakhs of people, particularly devotees
who had reared goats and hens for sacrifice at the biennial festival
in fulfilment of their vows. He pleaded for an interim injunction
restraining the police and other authorities from taking action
against devotees participating in the temple festival, pending
disposal of the petition. A Division Bench comprising Chief Justice B.
Subhashan Reddy and Justice A. Kulasekaran ordered notice to the
government and an `understanding' was reached that no arrests would be

The next day, the police frustrated efforts to conduct a mass
sacrifice at the Sirumalanji temple, but devotees did offer sacrifice
at some distance from the temple. The `Samiaadi' (trance-dancer) of
the temple, M. Muthuraj, was kept in his house "under the control" of
the police and prevented from visiting the cremation ground at
midnight for the ritual that precedes the sacrifice as practised for
centuries. A number of devotees were reportedly arrested for offering
animal sacrifice.

When these developments were brought to the notice of the Chief
Justice at the High Court on September 8, he reminded Advocate-General
N.R. Chandran of the earlier `understanding'. Chandran clarified,
relying on information from the Superintendent of Police, that no
arrest had been made.

Meanwhile, another PIL petition challenging the Act was also admitted.
During the hearing, the Chief Justice sought to know the motive behind
the "urgency" in enforcing the Act now. He asked the Advocate-General
whether it was correct to ban, all on a sudden, an activity practised
for generations. The Advocate-General said animal sacrifice was a
social menace like sati and untouchability and had to be brought to an
end at some stage. Both the petitions are pending disposal.


A lone goat at the Oththapanai Sudalai Andavar temple at Sirumalanji
in Tirunelveli district, where animal sacrifice takes place.

THE motive behind the sudden move to refurbish an Act kept in cold
storage for five decades is a mystery. If the desire to ban animal
sacrifice is based on the love for animals, the question arises why
the killing of animals at homes, abattoirs and restaurants for food
should be left untouched. In fact, given the extent of rural poverty
and the skyrocketing meat prices, for lakhs of deprived people the
community feast, which follows the ritual sacrifices at temples, is
the only occasion to eat meat. If the idea is to liberate people from
superstitions, how could one explain the fact that the yagnas held in
mainstream temples, where "upper caste" Hindus offer jewels and other
valuables to be consumed by a fire and numerous other forms of
irrational beliefs have been spared?

Whatever the answers to these questions, according to researchers and
social activists, the beneficiaries of the move are the Hindutva
forces, which are only too willing to "cleanse" temples of village
deities which are "polluted" by "undesirable" practices that are not
acceptable to the temples based on the agamas. Some researchers have
pointed out for years that organisations such as the Hindu Munnani and
the Vishwa Hindu Parishad have been working among the rural
communities with a view to "homogenising" Hindu society (Frontline,
April 9, 1999).

Professor A. Sivasubramanian, who has done intensive studies on folk
deities, the forms of worship and the practices followed in the
temples of the "people's gods" in the southern districts, told
Frontline that these deities have some special characteristics. For
instance, most of them are "slain heroes" among the devotees'
ancestors. These deities, he said, were kept in the open, unlike in
the mainstream temples, only to provide easy access to the poor and
the socially deprived sections, which were generally denied entry into
caste Hindus' temples in many areas. The poojaris (priests) of the
village deities normally belong to the caste group that controls the
temples. The rules were kept flexible in order to suit the local
people's needs. For instance, unlike in the mainstream temples, there
is no rigidity about the timing of worship, keeping in mind the
village poor, who are mostly wage-earning agricultural workers.

Sivasubramanian said that in many villages the `kodai' festivals
played a unifying role among caste-ridden rural communities of varied
backgrounds and conflicting interests. Animal sacrifice was practised
not only in Hindu folk temples, but also in darghas and
church<147,2,7>es, although without the approval of the clergy. He
cited the Anthoniyar "temple" at Puliyampatti, 35 km from Tuticorin,
where Hindus join Christians in offering worship and animal sacrifice
"in fulfilment of vows". Referring to the prevalence of animal
sacrifice among Muslims, the professor said the practice among them
was to donate the hide to the dargha and partake the meat with others
in community feasts.

Any attempt to homogenise the temples of folk deities would only lead
to the end of the plurality of Hindu society, Sivasubramanian said.
The Sangh Parivar had already brought under its control several
temples. In these temples they have fixed the worship timings,
appointed Brahmin poojaris, made the rules rigid and installed idols
of mainstream gods such as Siva (in the form of Linga), Vinayagar and
Murugan. A few years ago, when a Brahmin poojari objected to animal
sacrifice in one such temple for a village deity in Coimbatore on the
grounds that it could not be done in a temple that had a Linga, the
people removed the Linga and went ahead with the sacrifice. At the
temple of a folk deity in Tuticorin, when the newly appointed Brahmin
poojari objected to animal sacrifice because the temple now also had
an idol of Murugan, devotees performed the sacrifice after hiding the
idol behind a curtain. Such developments would only create further
divisions in village communities in the southern districts, which are
known for caste-related violence.

A study by the Tirunelveli-based Human Rights Organisation on the
practices in 564 temples in Tirunelveli and Tuticorin districts
revealed that the "kodai" festivals had some positive elements.
Although Dalits were normally denied entry into 240 of these temples,
they were allowed to participate in the festivals. Dalits shared the
meat of the sacrificed animals with the people of the Thevar
community, with which they are at loggerheads most of the time. Any
attempt to disturb the balance may aggravate the caste-related
problems in these sensitive areas, the study felt.

The Tamil Nadu Progressive Writers Association has said that the State
government's action against animal sacrifice would affect the right to
worship of Dalits and other backward sections of the people and would
only unwittingly help the Sangh Parivar bring thousands of village
temples under its control.

After sensing the all-round protest against the move, the Federation
of Village Temple Priests, believed to be a Parivar organisation, has
urged the State government not to enforce the ban on animal sacrifice
in temples, since the move is "impractical". "Animal sacrifice can be
banned only if the majority of people stopped eating non-vegetarian
food," said federation president S. Vedantam. CPI(M) State secretary
N. Varadarajan said in a statement that there could be no two opinions
about the irrational nature of the belief in animal sacrifice. "All
the same, it is an age-old belief with cultural overtones, involving
the right to worship of Dalits and people from other backward
communities and also the religious sentiments of these people," he
said. "Attempts at educating these people and improving their social
and economic status should necessarily precede efforts to put an end
to such superstitious beliefs," observed Varadarajan.


Animal sacrifice

The article on the Tamil Nadu government's ban on animal sacrifice was
timely ("A decree on animal sacrifice", October 10). Animal sacrifice
by Hindus is not limited to Tamil Nadu. The practice prevails in
Nepal. All those raising a hue and cry over animal sacrifice should
first try to eliminate such antiquated Hindu practices like "widow-
sacrifice" called sati. There still exists a temple for Rani Sati and
a school in which students sing praises of her.

Historic and literary records show that cattle sacrifice was practised
by priests in the Vedic period. It was competition from Jainism that
inspired a section of Hindus to take to vegetarianism. There is
nothing in Hinduism that prohibits animal sacrifice.

The ban cannot be enforced because it is difficult to send policemen
to each and every temple in the State. The Tamil Nadu Village Temples
Priests Association has already expressed its displeasure over the

G. Raja Bharathi


Gadhimai Festival: Nepal Mass Animal Sacrifice Festival To Go Ahead
Despite Protests
BINAJ GURUBACHARYA | 11/20/09 12:45 AM |

KATMANDU, Nepal — A Hindu festival in which hundreds of thousands of
animals are expected to be sacrificed will go ahead as scheduled in
southern Nepal despite protests, organizers said Friday.

The Gadhimai festival, celebrated every five years, is attended by
many Hindus from India as well as Nepal. More than 200,000 buffaloes,
pigs, goats, chickens and pigeons are expected to be slaughtered this
year on Nov. 24 and 25.

Organizers said they will not bow to "interference" from animal rights
and religious groups that have held protests in Katmandu and in the
festival area in Bara district, about 100 miles (160 kilometers) south
of the capital.

"We will not stop this centuries-old tradition now. This is our
religion, belief and tradition and we will continue with it no matter
what," said Motilal Kushwa of the organizing committee.

Kushwa said thousands of people have already arrived at the site with
animals meant for sacrifice next week.

Participants believe that animal sacrifices for the Hindu goddess
Gadhimai will end evil and bring prosperity. Many join the festival
from the state of Bihar in India, where animal sacrifices have been
banned in some areas.

Critics say the killings are barbaric and conducted in a cruel manner.

Government administrator Taranath Gauram said hundreds of extra
policemen have been sent to the area to maintain security and
officials do not expect trouble during the festival.

Ram Bahadur Bamjan, a Nepalese teenager revered by many as a
reincarnation of Buddha, has joined the campaign against the animal
slaughter and plans to visit the festival area to appeal directly to
participants to stop the sacrifices.

Bamjan's followers believe he has been meditating without food and
water in the jungles of southern Nepal since 2005. Believers say he
spends months without moving, sitting with his eyes closed beneath a


Gadhimai Festival (PHOTOS): Mass Animal Sacrifice Begins In Nepal
First Posted: 11-24-09 02:37 PM | Updated: 11-24-09 07:28 PM

(AP) BARIYAPUR, Nepal -- The ceremony began with prayers in a temple
by tens of thousands of Hindus before dawn Tuesday. Then it shifted to
a nearby corral, where in the cold morning mist, scores of butchers
wielding curved swords began slaughtering buffalo calves by hacking
off their heads.

Over two days, 200,000 buffaloes, goats, chickens and pigeons will be
killed as part of a blood-soaked festival held every five years to
honor Gadhimai, a Hindu goddess of power.

While cows are sacred and protected by law in Nepal, animal sacrifice
has a long history in this overwhelmingly Hindu country and parts of
neighboring India. The Bariyapur festival has become so big, in part,
because such ceremonies have been banned in many areas in the
neighboring Indian state of Bihar.

And while it is criticized by animal-rights protesters, the festival
is defended as a centuries-old tradition.


Butchers with butcher knives participate in religious rituals before
slaughtering buffalos during a mass sacrifice ceremony at Gadhimai
temple in Bariyapur, about 70 kilometers (43 miles) south of Katmandu,

Many Nepalis believe that sacrifices in Gadhimai's honor will bring
them prosperity. They also believe that by eating the meat, which is
taken back to their villages and consumed during feasts, they will be
protected from evil.

Taranath Gautam, the top government official in the area, estimated
that more than 200,000 people had come for the ceremony in Bariyapur,
some 100 kilometers (60 miles) from Katmandu. Some brought their own
animals to sacrifice.

"I am here with my mother who had promised the goddess she would
sacrifice a goat. It was her wish and promise and I am glad we were
able to fulfill it," said Pramod Das, a farmer from the nearby village
of Sarlahi. "I believe now my mother's wishes will come true."

Animal rights groups don't have much power in Nepal, but they have
staged repeated protests in recent weeks. Local news reports say some
activists set up stands in towns on the way to the Bariyapur temple,
offering Hindu pilgrims coconuts and other fruits to sacrifice instead
of animals.

There was no sign of them Tuesday.

"We were unable to stop the animal sacrifices this year but we will
continue our campaign to stop killings during this festival," said
Pramada Shah of the group Animals Nepal.

The ceremony, which goes back for generations, has enormous resonance
in a country where per capital income is about $25 a month, illiteracy
is widespread and vast social divides have left millions working as
tenant farmers for feudal landlords.

Even many educated Nepalis see value in the tradition.

Om Prasad, a banker from the nearby city of Birgunj, brought offerings
of fruit and flowers to the festival, but said he believed people
should be able to sacrifice animals if they want.

"It is their tradition and it is fine if they continue to follow it.
No one should try to tell them they can't follow what their ancestors
did," he said.

Experts say it will take many more years before there are changes in
these deeply rooted traditions.

"They continue these animal sacrifice rituals because they believe it
is a tradition that can't be broken," said Ram Bahadur Chetri, an
anthropology professor at Katmandu's Tribhuwan University. "The people
who follow these traditions believe that if they discontinue, then the
gods will get angry and there could be catastrophe in the country."

Buffaloes, goats, chicken and ducks are sacrificed at most Hindu homes
in Nepal during the Dasain festivals, which fell in September this


Buddhists and Animal Rights Activists Against Hindu Sacrifice to
From all-creatures.org

Buddhists and Animal Rights Activists Against Hindu Sacrifice
By Kalpit Parajuli, AsiaNews.it

More than a million Hindus are preparing to sacrifice half a million
animals during the festival of Gadhimai Mela.

In Bara district, where the ‘living Buddha’ meditates, more than a
million Hindus are preparing to sacrifice half a million animals
during the festival of Gadhimai Mela. Actress Brigitte Bardot wants
the inhumane practice stopped. More than 12,000 police agents are
mobilized for the occasion.

Hundreds of Buddhists and animal rights activists are protesting
against the Hindu festival of Gadhimai Mela in Bayapur, Bara district
(southeastern Nepal). During the event, half a million animals will be
slaughtered. More than a million Hindu pilgrims are expected to gather
for the occasion on 25 November. Nepali authorities have deployed more
than 12,000 police officers.

Gadhimai Mela is one of the most important festivities on the Hindu
calendar and the largest sacrificial happening in the world. It
usually lasts a week, ending on the third Friday of November.

During the celebrations, the faithful sacrifice animals like
buffaloes, sheep and chickens in honour of the god Gadhimai. According
to Hindu belief, such offerings reduce the god’s anger, and bring
people luck and prosperity.

However, Bara district is also a major Buddhist pilgrimage site. This
is where Ram Bahadur Bomjan, known as the living reincarnation of the
Buddha, meditates year round.

At present, hundreds of Buddhists and activists are praying with him
to stop the animal sacrifice.

“The killing of animals in the name of sacrifice is the most serious
crime. So it must be stopped immediately,” said Rinpoche Sange
Rangjung, a Buddhist monk and protest leader. “In no religion are
animal sacrifices prescribed”.

Demonstrators, who are backed by French actress and animal rights
activist Brigitte Bardot, are calling on the Nepali government to
legislate in the matter to ban the practice in the future.


The Gadhimai sacrifice is grotesque

The ritual slaughter of hundreds of thousands of animals runs counter
to Hindu principles of reverence for life

Anil Bhanot guardian.co.uk, Wednesday 25 November 2009 12.00 GMT

Yesterday, Mangal Chaudhary and Dukha Kachadiya, descendants of a
feudal landlord and a village healer adept in the Hindu occult, who in
the 18th century started a mass animal sacrifice to the goddess
Gadhimai, presided over a ceremony to begin this year's festival by
beheading 10,000 buffalo. Their deaths are being followed by the
slaughter of a further quarter of a million animals and birds today.
It is all happening in Bariyarpur, a village in the south of Nepal,
bordering the state of Bihar in India. The region is well known as the
homeland of the Bhojpuri people, a close-knit ethnic community devoted
to the worship of Gadhimai.

The history of this bloodthirsty event began when Bhagwan Chaudhary,
the feudal landlord, a imprisoned in Makwanpur fort prison about 260
years ago. He dreamed that all his problems would be solved if he made
a blood sacrifice to Gadhimai. Immediately upon his release from
prison he took counsel from the local village healer whose descendant,
Dukha Kachadiya, started the ritual yesterday with drops of his own
blood from five parts of his body. Apparently then a light "appeared"
in an earthenware jar, and the gory sacrifice began.

To me it all seems utterly abhorrent. Yet the Nepalese government made
a ridiculous decision to give 4.5 million rupees to the organisers to
build an abattoir so as to avoid pollution and disease but undoubtedly
also to hold on to Bhojpuri votes. The whole incident has quite
rightly sparked an international outcry from animal welfare
campaigners, Indian politicians like Menaka Gandhi and religious icons
like the "Buddha Boy" Ram Bahadur Bomjan, among others.

Personally, I see this practice as one utterly opposed to the non-
violent principles of my Hindu religion. Five to six thousand years
ago our Vedic seers recognised that we can only survive by taking life
from a lower level of consciousness to ours as is the case with plants
and animals, but never did they condone senseless and purposeless
killing. In Hinduism all life is sacred and the whole idea of animal
sacrifice in those ancient days was based on the principle that we
must pray to God before killing an animal for food – by reciting Vedic
mantras to God – and simply put that we think twice before taking a
life for our own consumption.

Many Hindus may not like it, because we like to think we are tolerant,
but I see several superstitious practices in what otherwise is a wise
and profound religion, and issues such as this which should be
robustly challenged are instead allowed to pass.

The Gadhimai sacrifice is grotesque | Anil BhanotThis article was
published on guardian.co.uk at 12.00 GMT on Wednesday 25 November

Comments in chronological order (Total 37 comments)

25 Nov 2009, 12:20PM
Anil is right in saying that Hinduism does not condone the sacrifice
of animals or any blood sacrifice in honour of our Gods, instead we
offer flowers and fruits.

Recommend? (9)

25 Nov 2009, 12:54PM
This comment has been removed by a moderator. Replies may also be
deleted. blackadder2001
25 Nov 2009, 1:10PM
While I respect the author's views on the horror of the sacrifice, you
must understand that Hinduism is not a uniform religion, it is a
compendium of practices followed by thousands of disparate
ethnicities. While there is a commonality of some over arching
beliefs, the rituals and practices of every day life and worship vary
significantly. The differences cut across caste or linguistic
boundaries, for example, Kashmiri and Bengali Brahmins are often non-
vegetarian, a practice that would be taboo among other Brahmin
communities. Plus, animal sacrifice, especially the Ashvamedha Yagna
was a well documented practice even in the highest echelons of Hindu
society in the past. Neither is this practice unique to any religion,
even today Muslims sacrifice goats and other cattle on the occasion of
Eid-ul-Azha. With greater education and development, one can hope that
some of these practices we find abhorrent die out. Till then, I don't
think we can dictate to anyone how to lead their lies

Recommend? (8)

25 Nov 2009, 3:02PM
I have said many times on this forum that there is no such thing as
"Hinduism." The term Hindu is a geographic term, much like the term
American or Chinese is. There are myriad of religions, cults,
philosophies, practices, rituals, scriptures and so on. The diversity
amongst people and their practices in this land are mind boggling to
perceive and understand. On one side is this high level of tradition
that deals directly with the inner spirit, renunciation, meditation
and love for all. On the other end are practices such as those
practiced by tribals and others where animals get slaughtered and
there are gory rituals including human sacrifice in some cases.

After independence, India is slowly making progress on many fronts
that include education, better awareness and interaction between
different people. It will probably take a hundred years or more of
steady progress for practices of this kind to lose their momentum.

India is one place where primitiveness and advancement exist side by
side. But spiritual traditions of India have always kept the lamp of
enlightenment burning. Hopefully, India will rediscover its glory and
practices of this kind will disappear with sustained progress.

Recommend? (4)

25 Nov 2009, 4:21PM
This comment has been removed by a moderator. Replies may also be
deleted. CaspianSmith
25 Nov 2009, 4:55PM

What about the blood sacrifice of Jesus to purchase redemption from
sin, through his blood? How is that different, in theory?

And Abraham and his only son? How is that different?

Recommend? (4)

25 Nov 2009, 4:58PM
This comment has been removed by a moderator. Replies may also be
deleted. Kahabaali
25 Nov 2009, 5:06PM
This comment has been removed by a moderator. Replies may also be
deleted. Kahabaali
25 Nov 2009, 5:24PM
This comment has been removed by a moderator. Replies may also be
deleted. LucyQ
25 Nov 2009, 8:41PM
This comment has been removed by a moderator. Replies may also be
deleted. blackadder2001
26 Nov 2009, 7:09AM
As a libertarian when it comes to freedom of speech, I must protest
the practice of deleting comments, these deletions are arbitrary and
go against the spirit of a board titled "Comment is Free". Is this a
British newspaper or one of those squalid rags from Pakistani
madrassas? Plus, they deprive us of the entertainment we derive from
reading Kahabaali's post. Kahabaali's ramblings remind me of perverts
who go flashing their privates at old ladies, I guess he doesn't get
to do much of that in Pakistan so he's taking out his frustrations on
this board. Let him have his catharsis and allow us to enjoy the
disjointed ramblings of this depraved lunatic.

Recommend? (7)

26 Nov 2009, 9:53AM
I take the point that Hinduism is not a uniform belief, but the
original article gave the impression that animal sacrifice was part of
mainstream Hinduism. It is not. About 70 to 80% of Hindus are
Vishnavites, who condemn animal sacrifice, and of the rest about 10 to
15% are Saivites who also condemn them. Of the rest there are Shaktis,
Vedantists, and neo-Hindus. The animal sacrifices are in fact only
supported by a minority of the Shaktis.

Anil's article is much more representative of Hindu mainstream views,
and far from being a "substitute" cracking of coconuts is a
traditional form of sacrifice that is much more common than animal

Chris (a Western follower of Hinduism)

Recommend? (5)

26 Nov 2009, 10:01AM
Why has LucyQ been moderated? I've never seen her post anything

Recommend? (2)

26 Nov 2009, 10:10AM
This is a barbaric act of selfishness, those buffalo must be
terrified; just waiting for their turn to be butchered.

It seems to me the temples are doing this to generate funding to
sustain them by perpetrating the lie that people watching will have
their wishes granted 'within 5 years'.

That's very specific, how can it be tested, how can it be proved or

It's a bloodbath to titilate, a spectacle and a money-spinner.

The words "the Goddess needs blood" sounds like something from the
dark ages, not the 21st century!

Recommend? (4)

26 Nov 2009, 10:19AM
I am also very dissappointed on hearing this news. We are Punjabi
Muslims and our ancestors were Hindu and Sikh. To this day we do not
eat beef or pork and rarely is lamb cooked in our house, our cuisine
is still mainly vegetarian or chicken as is the custom of Punjabi
country folks.

I used to dread the Hajj Eid were so many goats would be sacrificed,
but at least the meat went to poor people who could not afford it
(small consolation) - and i would never eat it.

The Vedic culture is the core culture of all of South Asia regardless
of religion, and killing animals like this is definaltely not the
Vedic way. It sounds awful and as m1dlander said it sounds like its
from the dark ages.

I hope the people in Nepal see sense.

Recommend? (7)

26 Nov 2009, 2:08PM
Could someone remind me how many turkeys have been slaughtered this
last week for US thanksgiving? And for UK Christmas. 40 million?
That's the figure I've read. Puts this Nepali issue in some
perspective. We have massive animal slaughter industries in the West
that are equally brutal, but just kept behind closed doors to spare
our guilt.
Anyone else detect more than a hint of hypocrisy in this outrage?

Recommend? (4)

26 Nov 2009, 4:31PM
One of the founding beliefs of Hinduism is that
"All Life Is Important" this act is an abomination to Hinduism as is
the caste system the Indian government should act against the Indian?s
who attended the festival in Nepal.
I?ll pray for those animals.

Recommend? (1)

26 Nov 2009, 4:44PM
I'm really sorry for those animals and for those people either. There
is no way they get better by murdering and cruelty. It's disgusting
and there is no reason to defend it whatsoever. This is not religion.

Recommend? (1)

27 Nov 2009, 2:51AM
It is refreshing and dare I say it, restorative of my faith in human
nature to read not only this article above but also the comments
written herein, by persons not only of the Hindu faith but of the
Muslim faith and others, which are filled with compassion and without
the conceitedness and ignorance displayed by other commentators that
is unfortunately so often the case on other threads.

One of my relatives was a soldier out in India before the last war,
and he was deeply moved by the sight of Indian villagers there, some
of whom had very little in material terms, but who would nonetheless
feed the ants and other insects every morning. He found their attitude
to be a highly civilised one indeed, which it is of course, as well as
their respect for all life. As a Brahmin friend of mine once told me
'A man who is cruel to animals in our faith is not a real man'. I only
wish that more people from a Western background felt the same way. In
this respect the comment by VSBI was correct, a sad fact indeed.

Recommend? (4)

27 Nov 2009, 8:09AM
If anybody is interested in seeing the lie of the land there, please


It is a grotesque site. It is the day after the ritual slaughter. Here
you have the 3m high wall (abattoir). Within the walls of the compound
you can see local Dalits (untouchables) skinning the slain beasts,
removing the offal and carting away the carcasses and the best meat in
sacks to villages within meat carrying distance.

Far from all of the buffalo carcasses were 'used' in this way and the
sun and nature beat the locals to the rest. The stench at the end of
this day could be described as 'large', but only to leave room for the
necessary adjectives for day three or four.

It seems not a million miles from the image below.


add some poverty, superstition, religion and local party politics to a
world wide love of meat and you have jumped the divide.

27 Nov 2009, 8:10AM


27 Nov 2009, 11:10AM
blackadder2001 said
"With greater education and development, one can hope that some of
these practices we find abhorrent die out. Till then, I don't think we
can dictate to anyone how to lead their lies' (I presume he meant

But we do dictate to other people how to live their lives. We do it
all the time, in our own country and at European level and on the
international stage. It's called the law. We make it a criminal
offence to sexually abuse children, to rape or beat other people, to
steal, to murder, to engage in was crimes etc etc. And in this country
we regulate abbatoirs (not very well, in my opinion, but at least the
intention to minimise suffering is there). Of course, it all starts to
break down as soon as you introduce moral relativism. So you make
religious exceptions to animal welfare laws so Halal and Shechita
slaughter methods are tolerated in the UK. Why not go further and say
it's ok to take a child bride. It's fine to abuse women. Why not? It's
a cultural thing, so it must be ok for some people to have much lower
standards of behaviour, yes? Obviously that's bollocks. I'm happy to
condemn what has happened to these defenceless animals in Nepal, and
condemn the people who did it to them, because its just plain damn
wrong. I only wish we could protest more effectively, but then we're
up against apologists for brutality like blackadder2001.

27 Nov 2009, 11:10AM
blackadder2001 said
"With greater education and development, one can hope that some of
these practices we find abhorrent die out. Till then, I don't think we
can dictate to anyone how to lead their lies' (I presume he meant

But we do dictate to other people how to live their lives. We do it
all the time, in our own country and at European level and on the
international stage. It's called the law. We make it a criminal
offence to sexually abuse children, to rape or beat other people, to
steal, to murder, to engage in was crimes etc etc. And in this country
we regulate abbatoirs (not very well, in my opinion, but at least the
intention to minimise suffering is there). Of course, it all starts to
break down as soon as you introduce moral relativism. So you make
religious exceptions to animal welfare laws so Halal and Shechita
slaughter methods are tolerated in the UK. Why not go further and say
it's ok to take a child bride. It's fine to abuse women. Why not? It's
a cultural thing, so it must be ok for some people to have much lower
standards of behaviour, yes? Obviously that's bollocks. I'm happy to
condemn what has happened to these defenceless animals in Nepal, and
condemn the people who did it to them, because its just plain damn
wrong. I only wish we could protest more effectively, but then we're
up against apologists for brutality like blackadder2001.

Recommend? (1)

27 Nov 2009, 12:27PM
26 Nov 2009, 2:08PM
Could someone remind me how many turkeys have been slaughtered this
last week for US thanksgiving? And for UK Christmas. 40 million?
That's the figure I've read. Puts this Nepali issue in some
perspective. We have massive animal slaughter industries in the West
that are equally brutal, but just kept behind closed doors to spare
our guilt.
Anyone else detect more than a hint of hypocrisy in this outrage?


27 Nov 2009, 12:28PM

26 Nov 2009, 2:08PM
Could someone remind me how many turkeys have been slaughtered this
last week for US thanksgiving? And for UK Christmas. 40 million?
That's the figure I've read. Puts this Nepali issue in some
perspective. We have massive animal slaughter industries in the West
that are equally brutal, but just kept behind closed doors to spare
our guilt.
Anyone else detect more than a hint of hypocrisy in this outrage?


Recommend? (1)

27 Nov 2009, 1:31PM

We have massive animal slaughter industries in the West that are
equally brutal

We also have laws that stipulate all animals should be killed in a
humane manner, meaning they are stunned first and don't feel any pain,
(and minimal fear).

(Excluding Halal slaughterhouses who have special dispensation to
cause suffering - but that's another issue)

Now how many strikes with one of those machetes do you think it takes
to kill a bull let alone sever its head? This while all the others
watch, waiting their turn in terror.

All turkeys who are killed will end up as food, as wetanddry states
above, a huge amount of the meat from these baffalo will be wasted.

Turkeys are killed to order in an efficient manner (you may be a
vegitarian and disagree morally with this, but it is the case); the
huge numbers of buffalo killed can't possibly be processed, so it's
wasteful in the very least!

The main problem I have with this, however, is that it is done as a
spectacle to entertain people and on the patently untrue premise that
spectator's wishes will come true!

If simple peasants are told this by their priests, who they respect,
then of course they're going to believe it. Once it becomes a
tradition it's difficult to stop - but that doesn't mean it shouldn't
be stopped!

Superstition should be rooted out as the harmful, regressive,
blinkered, morally-retarded evolutionary baggage that it is

27 Nov 2009, 2:50PM
@julianabanana, you're going down a very slippery slope here, your own
example of abbatoirs belies what you're saying. Abbatoirs are no less
brutal than crude animal sacrifice and the end result for the poor
animal is no different. The more a society tries to regulate people's
behaviour, the more opposition it occurs because quite frankly dearie,
what may be just plain damn wrong to you might not be to others. Plus,
unless you're a saint, am sure there are aspects of your lifestyle
that are just plain wrong when viewed from different paradigms. What
would you say about laws against homosexuality? Many people believe
that that's just plain damn wrong, would you support laws banning that
as well? Do you know how Parsees and Tibetans dispose of their dead?
Is that plain damn wrong too? Try not to be wooly headed when debating
about absolute right and wrong, far brighter people have given up
trying to define or even confirm the existence of these concepts

Recommend? (3)

27 Nov 2009, 3:18PM
"Human kills human just to prove that Killing is BAD" [~Anonymous)

We humans are very unreasonable kind, yet we believe we are very

We called those atrocity as INHUMAN, but don't you think thats so
can you show me any ANIMAL (other than HOMO SAPIENS) who kills like
and yet we call those act INHUMAN!!


The fact is, that atrocity happened in the open public, hence the
cry!! otherwise ANIMALS get SLAUGHTERED everywhere in the WORLD, yeah
in very HUMANLY WAY!! So what are we JUST HYPOCRITE ?? United States,
will consume 45 million turkeys for Thanksgiving alone

Only Difference is those animals were killed in PUBLIC, otherwise THE

There is nothing called RIGHT or WRONG....cause we believe ourselves
to be
very REASONABLE, yet act HYPOCRITE.. ..on the OTHER side we are
but a RISEN APE!!

beings are animals....We may prefer to think of ourselves as fallen
angels, but in reality we are risen apes." ~Desmond Morris

27 Nov 2009, 4:41PM
Rather than pander to the ?sensitive? middleclass Guardian readers who
abhor fox hunting and other blood sports, Mr Bhanot should question
whether the method by which these animals are slaughtered makes an
iota of difference. Well whether a melon is dropped onto a sharpened
knife or if the knife is intentionally thrust into it; it is the melon
that suffers injury. The karma of killing an animal whichever way it
is done is the same. Perhaps the horror of seeing an animal hacked to
death is what is needed to stop others like Mr Bhanot here in the ?
civilized? west from eating their flesh to satisfy our palate.

It is sheer intellectual pomposity to condemn these Nepalese (for what
we consider) their atypical traditions and on the other hand pick up a
pre-packed chicken from the supermarket thereby supporting the annual ?
sacrifice? of 750 million animals in this country alone. Was it 40
million turkeys slaughtered this year for thanksgiving? How many more
are meeting a similar fate this Christmas? The author must be feeling
quite smug and should have known better than to condemn Nepali Hindus
so unashamedly, as a purported ?Hindu leader?; given what sacrifices
the Gurkhas have made for this country. Tut-tut.

Recommend? (1)

27 Nov 2009, 6:14PM
blackadder2001, I don't see what homosexuality has to do with this
argument at all. But for the record, no I wouldn't support laws
banning it. Last time I looked homosexuality was legal in the UK. As
for people disposing of their dead, as long as they don't leave the
bodies outside my house, I'm fine with sky burials or whatever.

Now, back to the point. Have you actually seen the graphic images of
this mass slaughter? There were lots on the BBC. Many have now been
pulled, presumably because of the disturbing content To describe the
scenes as horrific really doesn't do them justice. Animals being
butchered in plain view of each other, running round a huge enclosure
desperately trying to escape from men wielding huge knives. Pools of
blood with stricken animals lying there not yet dead. How is that
remotely connected with an attempt (granted, an imperfect one) to
minimise animal suffering by keeping the killing rooms and the holding
pens separate and the animals in ignorance of their fate for as long
as possible? By stunning before bleeding and beheading? I'm no
apologist for abbatoirs. I haven't eaten meat for over 20 years. But
what happened in Nepal was sickening beyond my comprehension. If you
really think the end result is no different for the animals, let's try
an experiment. 1) A week or so ago a judge gave the parents of a very
sick baby the right to switch of his life support machine to end his
suffering. The baby died soon afterwards. Baby P was beaten repeatedly
and neglected to the point where he died from his injuries. According
to your logic there is no difference in the treatment of these two
babies by their parents because they both died, so it didn't really
matter how and in what circumstances they died. We should condemn
both, or neither. Or try this. Your granny is very old and frail.
She'd like to die in her own bed, surrounded by her loved ones but
instead you put her in a busy hospital ward where she is left lying in
her own piss and shit and dies hungry, thirsty, alone and afraid. But
hey, what does it matter, because she was going to die anyway? Do you
begin to see a tiny problem with your own position? Maybe you're the
one who's not so bright, dearie?

27 Nov 2009, 7:24PM
Well it is certainly an emotive subject.... for a few days at least.
See you all in Gadhimai in 5 years time minus a couple of months for
the next repeat of this debate.

27 Nov 2009, 8:00PM
Juliana: The animals were not running around trying to escape. They
went like the proverbial lambs to the slaughter. Shooting fish could
possibly be a more useful metaphor. It was a pathetic scene, from the
utterly docile animals' point of view and from the point of view of
the faintly macho men given the task of wielding the knives. There was
distress though certainly and quite a lot of it was mine.

The heavy knife on the back of the neck seemed to be stunningly
effective though. Within a split second it was over for all but the
very biggest of animals.

However. They could radically change this ritual slaughter. It would
be possible to properly feed and water the animals while waiting. They
could segregate the living, the presently condemned and the dead with
some kind of barriers. They could hire people to shepard animals from
one zone to another. In the final zone they could manage the skinning
and cleaning and shipping to the local community, meat dealers and
skin traders.

They could even set up a temporary meat drying facility for making
jerky (sekuwa) which is the favour manner of preservation.

In this way you have all the superstitious sacrifice nonsense which
keeps the masses happy as their wishes will come true, the business
people are happy as the locals don't throw rocks at the trucks coming
to take their meat away so they make some money and the animal rights
people should be happier as it approximates the work-flow of the
massive, anonymous flesh industries of back home.

Or not?

27 Nov 2009, 9:24PM


You obviously did not see the same pictures or read the same reports
as me. Unless you were actually there I will not defer to your account
of events. Amongst other atrocities, I saw a picture of a bullock
sitting up, wounded, in a pool of blood amongst the dead bodies of
other bullocks, waiting to have its head hacked off. So much for it
being over in a split second.

As for the people's wishes coming true, five years ago they must have
all wished to remain in squalid poverty and ignorance, because five
years down the line that's all their bloodthirty goddess seems to have
granted them. We compel children to go to school in the UK, to protect
them from ignorance.Why is it wrong for mainstream Hindus to want to
educate these people not to indulge in this barbaric practice in the
name of their religion?

27 Nov 2009, 9:25PM

@julianabanana, you're missing the wood for the trees, the point is
that moral relativism is the basis of all societies and laws. The
point of bringing up the homosexuality example was to show that the
same behaviour can be viewed as 'right' by one group of people and
'barbaric' by another. Sure homosexuality is legal in Britain now but
Britain was at the forefront of some of the most repressive anti
buggery laws in the world, which claimed the lives and careers of men
like Oscar Wilde and Alan Turing. But societies evolve and as they do,
so do their laws. The suffering of the animals in the Gadimai massacre
is horrific no doubt, but industrial slaughterhouses are no different.
I also request you to visit some authentic Chinese restaurants where
prawns are boiled alive and snakes are sliced while still breathing.
You may find that disgusting but the Chinese don't. Good to know that
you don't eat meat but am reasonably sure there are other indirect
ways in which your lifestyle harm the environment. What makes your
ways of living less damn right than those of others? Do you drink
milk? Do you know how calves are starved so that the mil of their
mothers reaches your table? Don't give me stupid tangential arguments
and try and understand the points being made here. And you still
haven't answered (and I suspect even understood) the core point that I
have been making all through my posts viz. that in a world devoid of
absolute truths, right and wrong are determined only by societies
believing they are so. I suggest enrolling yourself in a few
philosophy courses asap.

Recommend? (1)

28 Nov 2009, 12:15AM

So, what you are saying is you are right and I am wrong. Yes?

28 Nov 2009, 8:43AM
@julianabanana - no

28 Nov 2009, 3:56PM
@julianabanana. Yes I was there.

I don't know how young buffaloes think, but their treatment could have
been vastly improved. You did not answer my suggestion of upgrading
this slaughter venue to something equating to the minimum standards of
the meat industry. Would this be better or still unacceptable?

Superstition is rife in this country. You get sick, their must be
spirits in the house. A young box is fat, he must be having sex. Watch
people drinking the sewage from the Ganges river, because its holy.
After giving birth, a woman should not eat vegetables for fruit for
about a month. The list goes on.

Many attending this festival still shit outdoors. They don't know why
toilets are important. Animal welfare is known here, but for the
poorest of the poor, its a long way down the list of priorities.

I think comments are closed so I'll stop here.


Festival of Mass Animal Sacrifice Under Way in Nepal


...and I am Sid Harth
Dušan Vukotić
2010-03-22 06:33:52 UTC

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