IAMC Weekly News Roundup – October 6th, 2014

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup

Communal Harmony

News Headlines

Opinions & Editorials

Book Review

Communal Harmony

Christian leaders urge Odisha govt to ensure communal harmony in Kandhamal (Oct 1, 2014, Odisha Sun Times)

The All India Christian Council (AICC) members today urged Odisha’s Governor SC Jamir and chief minister Naveen Patnaik to ensure protection to the Christian community and help build peace and communal harmony in the Kandhamal district as well as the state. …

Dr D’Souza appealed to chief minister Patnaik to take steps against possible communalisation efforts by certain groups during the polls. It was communalisation and religious hate campaigns that had led to the gruesome killing of Graham Staines and his two children as well as the 2008 Kandhamal violence, he said.

Dr D’Souza said religious extremism, hate speech and the violence that ensues is one of the biggest threats to global peace. Those who terrorize in the name of religion do not do any service to the religion they adopt. India has a great constitutional democracy and the citizens’ right to religious freedom needs to be preserved at all costs, he added.…

http://odishasuntimes.com/90164/christian-leaders-urge-odisha-govt-ensure-communal-harmony-kandhamal/

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Budhist, Muslim and Sikh communities took-out peace march in Nagpur (Oct 6, 2014, Sikh Siyasat)

In a major show of communal harmony, the members of Budhist, Sikh and Muslim communities, on Oct. 05, held an impressive peace march in Nagpur. For last two days the Nagpur was tense after a minor altercation between two groups of youth belonging to Budhist and Sikligar Sikh communities had turned serious. Leaders and representatives of these minority communities held a series of meetings to pacify the tensions. They jointly held a peace march in Nagpur covering almost all areas that had witnessed incidents of violence.

Reliable local sources told Sikh Siyasat News (SSN) that a late night altercation between two groups of youth on Dashehra day had triggered stone pleting and tensions in various parts of Nagpur. S. Malkit Singh Bal of Adarsh Gurmat Parchar Sanstha told Sikh Siyasat News (SSN) over phone that he along with other Sikh representatives reached the spot and pacified the situation in consultation with the police. But next day the tensions resurfaced and there were incidents of violence in some areas.

He said that there was no harm to any of the Gurdwaras in Nagpur, including Panchsheel Gurdwara Sahib. “Some people are trying to make an issue out of a minor incident” he said while adding that harmony was in favor of all communities inhabiting the Nagpur. It is notable that Maharashtra is poll-bound for October 15 and communal tensions could lead to major disturbances.

Representatives of Budhist, Sikh and Muslim communities who participated in yesterday’s peace march included – Parkash Ram Teke, Jatinder Desai, Dr. Deepagan Bhagat, Pramod Bansod, Adil Bhai, Astam Mullan, Ishfaq Bhai, Malkit Singh Bal, Khushkamal Singh, Rajinder Singh Dhillon and Parmnder Singh Vij. The peace march was a show of harmony and unity among the minority communities.

http://sikhsiyasat.net/2014/10/06/dalit-muslim-and-sikh-communities-took-out-peace-march-in-nagpur/

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Protests in US over Modi’s bloodthirsty past (Sep 28, 2014, Crescent International)

…Modi’s maiden visit to the US, however, has not gone unnoticed by human rights activists that are demanding justice for the victims of his pogroms in Gujarat in 2002. Human rights activists had successfully lobbied the US State Department to deny Modi a visa to enter the US in 2005 using the 1998 law barring entry to foreigners who have “committed severe violations of religious freedom.” Modi was complicit in the massacre of thousands of innocent Muslims in Gujarat.

As prime minister, he has been granted a visa to attend the UN General Assembly session where he was given the podium on Saturday September 27. Modi’s rightwing fascist supporters planned a welcoming ceremony for him at Madison Square Gardens in New York City. It was an obscene display of Hindu jingoism with idols and skyscrapers mixing in a display of colored lights.

Lawyers and human rights activists protested his New York speech outside the venue. The protesters included not only Muslims but also Sikhs and Hindus. For instance, 72-year-old Satinath Choudhary, member of the Alliance for Social Justice, a New York resident, said he wanted to register his protest against Modi’s presence. …

The most moving account was given by Nishrin Jafri, daughter of Ahsan Jafri, the Congress Party Member of Parliament from Gujarat who was not only dragged from his house but he was tortured before being cut into pieces. Nishrin narrated to Al Jazeera, “[the Hindu mobs] were killing children and women with swords and knives, throwing fire bombs and burning them alive. My father was cut into pieces, tortured for hours before and then his head was paraded around.” …

The silver lining in this entire sordid episode is that not everyone in India has lost his/her humanity. Those protesting against Modi include Muslims, Hindus and Sikhs of Indian origin residing in the US. Modi should not only have been denied entry into the US, he should be arrested for crimes against humanity and put on trial to answer for his criminal deeds.

http://www.crescent-online.net/2014/09/protesters-in-us-greet-modi-over-his-bloodthirsty-past-crescent-onlinenet-4648-articles.html

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Indian civil society groups call for “zero tolerance” towards radical Hindu groups (Sep 29, 2014, Asia News)

Indian human rights activists, members of civil society groups (including many Hindus) and representatives of India’s religious minorities gathered on Saturday at Delhi’s Jantar Mantar to urge India’s Union government to adopt a zero tolerance stance towards radical Hindu groups and thus stop their violence, coercion and hate campaigns against religious minorities.

In addressing the gathering, speakers stressed how the number of cases of persecution of Muslims and Christians rose after this year’s general election, which ended in a landslide victory for the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), a coalition led by the ultra-nationalist Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) under Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi who became prime minister.

In fact, since 16 May, when election results were released, Indian media have reported more than 600 cases of violence against members of India’s Muslim and Christian minorities, in particular in Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. The obvious support of the local authorities has favoured the outburst of violence.…

http://www.asianews.it/news-en/Indian-civil-society-groups-call-for-zero-tolerance-towards-radical-Hindu-groups-32282.html

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Brutal Police Behaviour against Vadodara s Minorities on the night of Saturday 27th September was reminiscent of 2002 (Sep 29, 2014, Sabrang)

…A team of social activists visited some of the affected areas on 27th September 2014 on the request of affected people. A detailed report of our visit is under process but after visiting the area we have personally discussed with you and informed you about the role of Police, (particularly plain cloth police, also known as D staff). The police should prevent violence and arrest those who undertake violence. Instead many people particularly women complaint about the verbal abuse and physical assault on them by police. The marks of injury were visible on their body. You had promised to look in to the matter and assured that this will not be repeated.

We are shocked to know that brutal police attacks are continued on the night of 27th September 2014. As per the complaint by Ms. Ashiyana Abdul Latif Shaikh (aged about45 years) on the night of 27 around 2.00 a.m., police rounded up moholla in the area of Wadi Taiwada and entered the houses of people. About 8-10 plain clothed police who also covered their face with clothes having pipes and iron roads broke their door, window and entered her house. Broke fridge, lights and picked up her son Abdul Raheman (aged 19). When women from the house asked why they are picking him up they assaulted Ms. Ashiyana on head and hands, her younger daughter Mubina on back and legs and brutally assaulted Amrin Abdul Latif Shaikh (aged about 22).

They torn Ms. Amrin Abdul Latif Shaikh cloths and beat her with iron road on head, shoulder and back. Her situation was versioning and became unconscious so she was admitted in the Sayaji General Hospital in the morning of 28-9-2014. In the hospital she mentioned about assault by police as reason for her injuries and also registered her complaint in the Police Station of the General Hospital. But the doctor mentions assault by “opposing party” in her case paper and she is not sure what police has mentioned in the FIR. They are not given either copy of FIR. She was discharged at about 2.00 p.m. on the same day.…

http://www.sabrang.com/news/2014/29sep14.htm

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RSS chief’s speech aired live on Doordarshan, Opposition calls it abuse of state power (Oct 3, 2014, Hindustan Times)

Controversy broke out over Doordarshan’s live telecast of RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat’s address at Nagpur on Friday with Congress and Left parties accusing the Modi government of misusing the state broadcaster. Congress spokesman Sandeep Dikshit termed the hour-long telecast as a “dangerous tradition”, saying RSS is a controversial religious and political organisation.

“It is a dangerous tradition. This is not an organisation which is completely neutral. It is a controversial organisation,” he said, adding it is a political decision of the government.

Congress leader Rashid Alvi said, “This naked state majoritarianism must be resisted.” Former Union minister Salman Khurshid said, “We do not accept the record of RSS as being above board in terms of our national aspirations”.…

http://www.hindustantimes.com/StoryPage/Print/1271308.aspx

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Religious leaders come on a platform to fight against communalism (Oct 5, 2014, Twocircles.net)

Several eminent religious leaders from different communities gave a united call here on Saturday to fight against the rise in communal violence in the country. At the joint press conference called by Jamaat-e-Islami Hind at Press Club of India, they asked both central and state governments to check communalism and hate campaign.

In the backdrop of rise in communal violence across the country, top religious leaders from major communities – Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Sikhs and Jains Saturday asked the government to take steps to check the phenomenon, even as Shankaracharya Swami Onkaranand came down heavily on BJP MP Sakshi Maharaj for terming the madrasas as “hub of terror”.

Shankaracharya said that “Sakshi Maharaj is ignorant about the role played by madrasas. Sakshi Maharaj is not a religious leader and he is spreading rumors.” … Besides the Shankaracharya, the press conference was addressed by Mukhya Granthi Gurduwara Rakab Ganj Rajinder Singh, Jain cleric Lokesh Muni, Christian religious leader Father Dominic Emmanuel, Shia leader Maulana Jalal Haider and Amir Jamaat-e-Islami Hind Maulana Syed Jalaluddin Umari. The meet was oraganized by Jamaat. …

http://twocircles.net/2014oct05/1412499297.html

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Punjab Police Murders Two Dalit Brothers In Encounter Killing (Oct 4, 2014, The Link)

The controversy over the killing of two brothers Harinder and Jatinder Singh in the Jamalpur “police raid” refuses to die down. In a fresh twist in the case, the autopsy report shows that the two youth were shot in the head from close range. The report belies the police claims that the duo was killed in self-defence as one of them had snatched an AK- 47 from a home guard.

ADCP- III Satvir Singh Atwal said five shots were fired from the .32 pistol of SAD leader Gurjeet Singh and no other weapon was used. The police party was carrying one AK- 47 and a service revolver, said Atwal. The accused, including SAD leader Gurjeet Singh, Constable Yadwinder Singh, home guard jawans Baldev Singh and Ajit Singh were produced in the court on Wednesday.

The post-mortem report prepared by a board of three doctors – Jasbir Kaur, Suresh Kaushal and Seema Chopra – shows that the duo was shot from a distance of less than six feet. Questions are also being raised why home guard Baldev Singh, who was part of the raiding party, was carrying an automatic weapon (AK-47) when he was not authorised to do so.…

http://thelinkpaper.ca/?p=41304

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Caste violence hits Muzaffarnagar again (Oct 4, 2014, India Today)

Caste conflict has once again surfaced to disturb peace in Muzaffarnagar, where bitterness still exists between two communities in the aftermath of the September 2013 riots which had claimed over 60 lives and rendered over 50,000 families homeless.

At least two people sustained bullet injuries on Friday when members of two communities clashed in village Mujhera under Kotwali police station on the outskirts of the city. The injured have been identified as Ravish and Pradip, both belonging to a backward caste, and have been sent to Meerut Medical College for treatment.

The police said the problem started when members of the two castes gathered in the village on Friday to reach a compromise over disputes between youths of both the castes on Thursday over organising a Ramlila function. …

http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/caste-violence-hits-muzaffarnagar-again/1/394088.html

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BJP gives Kairana charge to riot accused MP, MLA (Oct 1, 2014, Indian Express)

The Uttar Pradesh BJP has appointed Kairana MP Hukum Singh and Thana Bhawan MLA Suresh Rana in-charge and co-incharge, respectively, for Kairana Assembly seat in Shamli district that is going for bypolls on October 15. Both Hukum and Rana belong to Shamli and are named for inciting violence during last year’s Muzaffarnagar riots in which over 60 people were killed and more than 50,000 people displaced.

Two other BJP MLAs Kunwar Bhartendra Singh of Bijnor and Sangeet Singh Som of Sardhana, too, were booked in the same case. The government had booked Rana and Som under the National Security Act (NSA) but UP’s state advisory board lifted the stringent Act against them and both were released from jail.

While Rana has been provided Y-category security from the state government, Som has been given Z-plus security by the Centre recently. Hukum was elected MLA from Kairana in 2012 and had resigned from the Assembly membership after his election to Lok Sabha in May this year.…

http://indianexpress.com/article/cities/lucknow/bjp-gives-kairana-charge-to-riot-accused-mp-mla/

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Muslim localities have little amenities, face heavy surveillance: TISS study (Sep 30, 2014, Indian Express)

Stating that spaces in the city like Mumbra, Shivaji Nagar and Bhendi Bazaar bear testimony to the “othering” processes in Mumbai, where there is heavy surveillance but scarce provision of basic services, a study by the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) says that “demonisation of Muslims in the city is related to a global Islamophobic climate”, where Muslims are seen as terrorists, violent and bad citizens.

“These spaces have become known as areas where many Muslims resettled in the wake of the riots of 1992-1993, an event which changed the socio-spatial fabric of the city through a process of segregation and ghettoisation,” says the paper by TISS’s Centre for Urban Policy and Governance, School of Habitat Studies, which is part of a three-year research project titled “people, places and infrastructure: countering urban violence and promoting social justice in Mumbai, Durban and Rio de Janeiro”.

It says that while after the riots, the pervasive feeling among Muslims was that they were not safe anywhere in Mumbai, a decade later, towns like Mumbra showed that Muslims have increasingly come to believe that it is better to live together. “The riots did not merely create physical boundaries, but also resulted in a conceptualisation of the other, which in this case were the Muslims,” it says.…

http://indianexpress.com/article/cities/mumbai/muslim-localities-have-little-amenities-face-heavy-surveillance-tiss-study/

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Poor Handling by Cops led to Honour Killing: NGO (Oct 7, 2014, New Indian Express)

Dalit organisations have alleged that the death of a girl in Usilampatti on Thursday, suspected to be an honour killing, could have been avoided had police handled the case effectively when it first came to them in July.

A Kadir, executive director of the NGO, Evidence, said Usilampatti police, in the name of preserving law and order, did not give importance to the wishes of the couple, both majors, who wanted to live together. V Vimaladevi (20), daughter of caste Hindu P Veerannan of Poothipuram near Usilampatti, had eloped with B Dilip Kumar (22), a Dalit from Polipatti village in the third week of July. The girl’s family had filed a complaint with the Usilampatti town police and Veerannan had consumed poison after he learned that she had gone away with a Dalit youth.

Police traced the two, who were married by then, in Kerala and brought them back to Usilampatti on July 25. Kathir alleged that police, after bringing the couple back to the village, had allowed leaders from her caste to threaten the girl into giving up the relationship. He further charged that police had succumbed to pressure mounted by caste Hindu leaders fearing eruption of caste clashes.…

http://www.newindianexpress.com/states/tamil_nadu/Poor-Handling-by-Cops-led-to-Honour-Killing-NGO/2014/10/07/article2465538.ece

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Opinions and Editorials

Changing the Character of Political Discourse – By Arun Srivastava (Sep 27, 2014, Mainstream)

Narendra Modi, an RSS pracharak, could not be expected to possess a broader view of the national and global perspective as Atal Behari Vajpayee had. Modi suffered from a sense of personality complex but strove hard to project himself as the independent, new face of the Indian as well as Hindutva politics. He followed the political line: if you have to occupy the centre-stage in the political arena oppose and deride all, challenge any person who crosses you. He has been precisely following this dictum. Ever since he became the Chief Minister of Gujarat he was striving to create a space for himself. The Gujarat pogrom of 2002 is testimony to this. He wanted to build his own support-base instead of relying on the traditional RSS and BJP followers.

The process of his elevation to the office of the Prime Minister underlines this trait. He was conscious of the fact that if he had to make his own mark on the political system of the country, he had to pursue the aforementioned course. He even did not subscribe to the values and politics of Vajpayee and Advani. At the macro level he might have got his sustenance from the Hindutva of the RSS, but a number of incidents point to the fact that it was his personal self-interest that guided and shaped his politics.

He was clear that if at all he has to emerge as the tallest Hindutva leader he would have to oppose socialism and secularism, the basic components of the Indian polity and its cultural ethos. For this it was necessary to oppose the Nehruvian model of socio-economic discourse and also politics. He had learnt the lesson from the decline of Vajpayee and Advani, how both the leaders were marginalised by the RSS for nurturing a soft feeling towards secularism and the Nehruvian discourse.…

http://www.countercurrents.org/puniyani071014.htm

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PM’s Visit to New York & Washington Lack of Substance: A Dangerous Portend – Editorial (Oct 5, 2014, Peoples Democracy)

Prime Minister Modi’s visit to New York and Washington on the occasion of addressing the annual United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) turned out to be, as the PTI reported, of the nature of a “rock star celebrity”. His speeches at the Madison Square Garden and the annual rock star ritual that takes place every year on the occasion of the UNGA at New York’s Central Park confirmed once again that the mindset of a continuing Indian election campaign has not yet been discarded by Prime Minister Modi. Commenting on his first address to the nation from the ramparts of the Red Fort, we had noted that the election hangover appears to continue. We had suggested that the PM should be politely told that the elections are over and people expect him to start “walking the talk”. But the talk continues and after Tokyo has now reached New York. ‘Walking’ has yet to begin as far as we, Indians, are concerned.

It has by now become a habit to regularly comment on the prime minister’s global interactions in this column. After his visit to Tokyo and his interactions with the Chinese president in India, it is now the turn of his visit to the US. The PM’s global itinerary has been so crowded that we could not squeeze in comments on his visits to Nepal, Bhutan and interactions with the Australian prime minister in New Delhi. The irony of all this lies in the fact that he is scrupulously following the global interactions whose pace was set by former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. Yet we are being told ad nasuem that PM Modi has set himself the task to “liberate” India from the “paralysis” of the government under former PM Manmohan Singh!

…this visit of PM Modi to the US may well result in deepening the status of India as a subordinate ally of US imperialism and its global strategic concerns. This does not auger well for India’s independent foreign policy which marked its special place in international relations and amongst the comity of nations in the world. It is not in India’s interests to sacrifice good neighbourly relations to advance US strategic interests. Of course, the concerns of India’s sovereignty and security will always remain non-negotiable. While maintaining this, India’s independent relations with all countries in the world are an important element in the creation of a world of multi-polarity following the end of the bipolar Cold War era. By this visit and its outcome, the danger is of India cementing itself as a subordinate strategic ally of US designs for a uni-polar world under its hegemony. In India’s interests, this drift to disaster must not be allowed.

http://peoplesdemocracy.in/2014/1005_pd/pm%E2%80%99s-visit-new-york-washington-lack-substance-dangerous-portend

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Propping up RSS is a dangerous idea – Editorial (Oct 4, 2014, Asian Age)

In his Krishna Janmashtami speech in August, within barely three months of Narendra Modi becoming Prime Minister with his party BJP having a comfortable parliamentary majority of its own, RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat had declared “Hindustan” to be a “Hindu nation”.

This is against our Constitution. India or “Bharat”, as it is officially referred to in the Constitution, is a republic not identified with a religious faith. The dangers of doing so are obvious and our Constitution-makers, among whom there were no RSS votaries, were wise people. However, in spite of the retrograde views he holds, the leader of the Hindu supremacist organisation, the progenitor of the ruling BJP, has now been permitted a live broadcast on Doordarshan on Friday, which coincided this year with Vijayadashmi, the RSS’ foundation day. …

Propping up the RSS – and Mr Bhagwat once again harped on “Hindutva” – with the help of DD is a dangerous idea. We fear Mr Bhagwat may soon be making All India Radio his next pulpit. It is not wholly clear why the Modi regime is opening the floodgates of communal propaganda when he was elected to take the economy forward. We need to look sharp.

http://www.asianage.com/editorial/propping-rss-dangerous-idea-086

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How Power Holders Failed Gandhi – By Dr. Vivek Kumar Srivastava (Oct 2, 2014, Countercurrents)

Today WE THE PEOPLE of India remember Mahatma Gandhi. The great mass mobiliser in the modern world. He was the first person in the Indian soil to have recognized the importance of collective resistance against the evils of any sort. Political independence was important but elimination of social evils were equally important feature of his life long struggle against the power holders.

His message was to practice the truth and non violence. How much his political inheritors learnt this message, is quite debatable: look the hate speeches, low quality speeches in the last general elections, look the upper caste cleansing of the temples even after a Chief Minister visit or killing of young ones as decreed by many Kangaroo courts, all these speak volumes about the fact that India at a wider spectrum has not respected his message. There are multiple examples which show that power holders of different domains have disowned Gandhi in many ways. …

Gandhi is no more but his message lives. It is up to us to link with each other, else the political power holders and crony capitalism and retrogressive thoughts at the societal level will defeat him. How can it be prevented?, that should be our main thought on this great day.

http://www.countercurrents.org/srivastava021014.htm

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Lives of Others, and Deaths – Editorial (Oct 4, 2014, EPW)

The ruling of the Supreme Court on the petition regarding 99 police encounters in Mumbai which claimed the lives of 135 persons between 1995 and 1997 has again put the spotlight on a controversial aspect of the criminal justice system. No region in the country has been free from extrajudicial killings of alleged terrorists, insurgents and criminals by the police. “The killings in police encounters affect the credibility of the rule of law and the administration of the criminal justice system” the Court noted in its order on the petition filed by the People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) and added that it was unfortunate that India did not have structured guidelines and procedures to investigate such deaths. It then proceeded to put in place such guidelines and procedures. These have been hailed but also criticised for not doing enough to tackle the phenomenon of “encounter killings” – a practice that has been shown, time and again, to be in open contravention of the law.

The Supreme Court has now ordered that the police need to record in written or electronic form any tip-off or “intelligence” they receive about criminal activities. If, while pursuing such a tip-off, an encounter with the alleged criminal takes place and he/she is killed, a first information report (FIR) will have to be registered and forwarded to the court under Section 157 of the Criminal Procedure Code immediately. Incidentally, Sections 156 to 158 lay down the procedure to be followed by the police on receipt of information relating to the commission of a cognisable offence and provide for the submission of reports of such information to a magistrate. …

Whether the latest of the Court’s endeavours will lead to a substantive change in police operations, only time will tell. We have a prime minister, whose administration, when he was the chief minister of Gujarat, revelled in blatant “encounter killings”. We have police forces, large parts of which have been unaccustomed to the checks and balances of the rule of law, ignoring such judicial orders. Finally, we have a public, the fabled aam aadmi, and a media who legitimise such cowboy actions. Together these do not generate much hope that things will change in a hurry. After all, it is almost always the poor and the marginalised – the expendables – who form a majority of those who are killed extrajudicially by the police. Will court-ordained rules to protect them succeed in our present political context?

http://www.epw.in/editorials/lives-others-and-deaths.html

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Legal jolt – By T.S. Subramanian (Oct 17, 2014, Frontline)

“BE you ever so high, the law is above you,” a Supreme Court Bench comprising Justices S.N. Variava and H.K. Sema pronounced on November 18, 2003, criticising the exemption from personal appearance granted to Jayalalithaa by a Special Court in Chennai in “the disproportionate wealth” case and “London Hotels” case in which she was an accused.

These words proved to be prescient on September 27, 2014, when Special Judge John Michael D’Cunha of Bangalore found the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister guilty of corruption in the “disproportionate wealth” case. The prosecution case against her was that she had amassed wealth worth Rs.66 crore, including immovable property, business enterprises and cash, in her name and in the names of three other accused, Sasikala Natarajan, V.N. Sudhakaran and J. Ilavarasi, when she was Chief Minister from 1991 to 1996. She, of her own accord, drew a salary of only Re.1 for 27 months as Chief Minister and did not draw any salary for the remaining 33 months of her office, the prosecution said.

Judge D’Cunha, who ruled that the prosecution had proved its case, convicted and sentenced Jayalalithaa to four years’ simple imprisonment under Section 13(1)(e) read with Section 13(2) of the Prevention of Corruption Act (PCA), 1988, and imposed a fine of Rs.100 crore on her. Her assets, already attached by the court, will be adjusted against this fine amount. …

http://www.frontline.in/cover-story/legal-jolt/article6460626.ece

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Book Review

Growth or Development; Which Way Is Gujarat Going?

Author: Indira Hirway, Amita Shah and Ghanshyam Shah, Eds.
Reviewed by: Jan Breman
Available at: Oxford University Press, 1st Floor, YMCA Library Building, 1, Jai Singh Road, Post Box 43, New Delhi – 110001, India, 2014; pp 608, Rs 1,395..http://www.oup.co.in/
Review:
The Gujarat Model of Growth, Development and Governance (Sep 27, 2014, EPW)

Gujarat is hailed as a great success story of neo-liberalism resulting in a much higher rate of economic growth during the last decade than in the years before, or elsewhere in the country. Moreover, the rapid increase of the state domestic product was accompanied by a sharp fall in poverty and major improvement in social sectors such as health and education. A development performance made more laudable because good governance saw to it that the outcome was inclusive and fair. All this, of course, according to those who believe a priori in the healing power of state-led market fundamentalism. As, for instance, Jagdish Bhagwati, who rejects other schools of thought as economic apostasy. But this declared wisdom on the “Gujarat Miracle” does not go uncontested. Social scientists based in the state and astute students of its track record came together in a seminar at the end of 2012 to discuss their dissenting views on the transformative trajectory of Gujarat. The book under review is the outcome of their critical deliberations.

The growth part of the story is least challenged. In an introductory chapter, the editors confirm that there was indeed a major spurt in economic growth from 2002-03 to 2011-12. They dispute, however, that this process can be written up as having resulted in development, understood as expanding the choices for all people in society. Tim Sebastian denies in an econometric exercise that Gujarat stands out as a different model, and subsequent authors clarify that its growth rate is equal to Maharashtra, Karnataka, and Haryana. Indira Hirway argues that Gujarat became one of the fastest growing states in the country precisely by ignoring or even sacrificing major development goals. The policy frame has been one of exclusion rather than social inclusion. To realise his ambition to make Gujarat “the most attractive destination for investments in the world”, its high-profile driver went out of his way to placate corporate business with favours, and easy access to land, credit, and infrastructure. …

While several of the chapters are repetitive and some of them too lengthy, it is unfortunate that the editors did not commission an essay on the Hindutva mindset and its majoritarian politics, which are part and parcel of the Gujarat model. It would have opened space to discuss how the religious minority came to be qualified as “the Other”, the enemy in our midst that has to be driven out. A contribution along these lines would also have commented on the condemnation of secularism, tolerance, and pluriformity; on the pogrom carried out in 2002 with state complicity; and on the vicious policy of ghettoisation as an apartheid system that has torn up the social fabric. Equally disconcerting is the way in which the rule of law has been turned around, with not the judiciary but power mongers deciding what is legal and who is subversive and needs to be “excluded”. And this script is meant to become the national growth development-cum-governance manual.

http://www.epw.in/book-reviews/gujarat-model-growth-development-and-governance.html

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