by Partho Sarathi Ray An interesting fact has come to light in the recently published “Labour in West Bengal” report brought out by the labour ministry of the government of West Bengal. Designed to tout the achievements of the Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress government in the field of labour and industrial relations and to portray […]
by Amit Basole, Sanhati In Anakara and Istanbul, tear gas hangs over very large parts of the city. Istanbul, Turkey – It has been one week since the anti-demolition protests started in Gezi Park, near Istanbul’s famous Taksim Square. Taksim Square, located in the “European” part of Istanbul, has traditionally been a space for protests. […]
by Partho Sarathi Ray The collapse of the chit fund company, Saradha group, is having major repercussions all over Bengal. Over the last two days, thousands of their depositors and agents have been staging protests in front of their offices all over the state, and many of the offices and real estate properties have been […]
by Sanjeev Mahajan A common technique practised by many a writer to snow one’s readers is to begin one’s essay with a banal quote by a famous historical personality, in the hope that the reader would be so impressed by such faux erudition that they would readily suspend their critical faculties towards what the author […]
by Saroj Giri The approach of a few bad rotten apples – what does it do? It says that the problem lies outside, outside of the society in its routine, normal functioning. Left to itself our society is fine – society is not internally generating such elements, such bad apples. The existence of such elements […]
by Ranjit Sur India is probably heading for enactment of an Individual Privacy Law. On 16 October, the fourteen member committee headed by Justice(Rtd) A P Shah submitted its report to the Planning Commission, which had initiated the process by forming this committee. In its 90 page report, the committee tried to address the complexities […]
By Shiv Sethi This page features commentaries on a host of political and economic issues across the world. Chronology : Oct 29 : On the ongoing military intervention in Mali Aug 16 : A note on the current situation in Syria Jul 26 : Egypt’s presidential election May 27: Fukushima and nuclear energy May 9: […]
It is rather cruel that Kshamata Banerjee and her cronies have offered some more stuff for fun at the cost of the dispossessed and hungry farmers of Singur.
In this piece, we argue that the brutal murder of Comrade T P Chandrasekharan is, apparently, a reflection of the degeneration of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) (CPI-M) in Keralam from its once-held position of the vanguard of the struggling people. Operating on principles of cadre-loyalty and patronage, the party today, has turned against its own initial social base.
This article is a short critical view of NCTC and asks the following question: why are non-Congress Chief Ministers like Mamata Banerjee or Navin Pattanayak dissenting to it, given their own track records? The article makes the point that, responding to peoples’ movements, the Constitution historically gave maximum possible legislative and executive powers to the central government and goes on to ask “is she fearful of a central ruler tightening its leashes to make the regional satraps like her more accountable and compliant?
The unprecedented wave of mass movements that started in Tunisia in December 2010 and quickly spread to Egypt, Libya, Bahrain, Syria, and Yemen, with smaller scale demonstrations in Lebanon, Mauritania, and Saudi Arabia has the potential to completely change (a) the socio-economic dynamics within the Arab world, and (b) the relationship of the Arab world to imperialism. To understand the dynamics and implications of the unfolding movements, it seems useful to abstract from the details of the movements in particular countries and take a broad brush view of matters. Moreover, to construct a broad brush view it seems important to disentangle two aspects of (or basic contradictions driving) the situation, not only in Syria that is the current focus of world attention but the Arab world in general.
By Suvarup Saha
Protest meeting: 21 Jan (Sat) at 3 pm at East Calcutta Library Hall (beside Prachi Cinema Hall at Sealdah)
In line with the constant efforts made by the TMC government in West Bengal to encroach on the existing democratic space and curtail dissent, the Publishers and Booksellers Guild (a consortium of Kolkata based publishers which organizes the celebrated Kolkata Book Fair) has come up with a crude yet alarming diktat pertaining to the upcoming Kolkata Book Fair, 2012. This concerns “Little Magazines”, the independently published periodicals with a long and rich history of progressive contribution to society.
By Sandipan Mitra
Let the sons of the revolution die fighting, as they always do. Let them not die being peace-trapped.
One can say that the Maoist nature is characterized not only by its unwavering devotion to the cause of a humanely better future, but also by its credulity of a suicidal kind. A little more than a year back the Maoists had put their faith in Mr. Palaniappan Chidambaram; the outcome was the gruesome murder of Cherukuri Rajkumar Azad by the security forces. Now they put faith in Ms. Mamata Banerjee, the outcome is the grisly murder of Mallojula Koteswar Rao, better known as Kishenji, India’s second most wanted Maoist, by the same notorious security forces.
By Merlin Flower
Right, so you want to report from India? And, you want to do some great stories. A short stay, Sir? Then you have some very easy pickings to arrive at. Yes, coming to that.
First, don’t go to any village in the country. It’s not worth it, the travel, dust and lack of comfort. Instead, land in any of the cities. Come on, with your better currency, you can stay in any of the five star hotels.
By Deepankar Basu
Not if one looks at the world from the perspective of the U.S. working class.
Employment data released by the Bureau of Labour Statistics (BLS) of the U.S. Department of Commerce on December 2, 2011 showed that the official unemployment rate had declined by 0.4 percentage points to 8.6 percent; going by the trend of the past few years this is certainly a big drop . To put matters in perspective, the unemployment rate for the US economy is depicted in Figure 1 for the last 5 years. Figure 1 clearly shows the massive increase in the unemployment rate during what has come to be called the Great Recession and its stubborn refusal to come down even after the recession has officially ended in the second quarter of 2009. Given this data, the decline in the unemployment rate in reported by the BLS on December 2, 2011 seems quite important.
Perhaps the most gruesome attack in their history is afoot on the people of Jangalmahal in Bengal. Fuehrer, that is the Netri, is leading this concerted attack. Benedictions and help are being showered on her from across the whole spectrum of ruling class political parties: from BJP to CPM.
These people in Jangalmahal have little to live on. At times they starve and die. More fortunate people steal even a part of the quota of rice thrown at them at times. Statistics and news are made of them. And when they attempt to assert their right to livelihood and dignity, when they attempt to create an egalitarian democratic order for themselves, Fuehrers plan to put them in place with sophisticated satellite-assisted guns.
There have been questions raised about the precise politics or lack of politics of the Occupy Oakland movement. It is still in many ways an open territory and encourages great respect for diversity of tactics. But some common threads also become visible that reveal its fundamentally progressive and increasingly anti-Capitalist nature. This is a new and young movement; its strength is precisely its organic character; in the way, through some highly self-conscious social practices, it is formulating and debating itself as it advances. There is a true dialectic of practice and thought taking place, with collective practice being collectively reflected upon in general assemblies, as well as `mike checks’ which can erupt anywhere at any time, even in the midst of action or violent attacks from the police.
The recent uproar over poverty line brings into focus few stark points. For those joining late here is the summary of the latest crisis engulfing the UPA government. Planning Commission (PC) files an affidavit in the Supreme Court that it considers 32 and 26 rupees per day consumption expenditure per head as bench mark for poverty lines in urban and rural India respectively. News papers pick up the story. TV news channels, late to start off the block given their allergy for non-entertaining sad stuff, nonetheless puts it in breaking news. NAC members dare Montek Singh Ahluwalia to survive on 32 rupees a day (They were assuming Ahluwalia is non-poor. One wonders if there is any PC affidavit supporting the assumption.) In the end managers enter the picture. Jairam Ramesh, union minister for rural development and a man known for radical views, presents a photo-op with Ahluwalia, holds a joint press conference. Planning Commission figures would not be the bench mark for distributing government benefits they say. Peace is restored.
This is meant to be a political piece. So, ideally this should be a sequence of logical steps–like the proof of a mathematical result. However, the absurdity of living in contemporary Kolkata under the Fraulein makes one cry out utterances as in absurd drama.
Should we forget the inhuman behaviour of a government? Will we forget, as we tend to do time and again, a history of torture and brutality? The State and its allies want us to forget. Our forgetfulness is their sole desire.
The year was 2006. Apprehending take over of 1000 acres of farm land, Singur had started to simmer. The chief minister famously wondered: we are 235, they are 30, who will stop us? For those not tuned in, these numbers refer to seats that Left Front and the Trinamool Congress won in the 2006 assembly elections. As a matter of fact LF had won 233. But courtesy Mr. Bhattacharjee 235 became the more quoted figure, a figure of hubris. Mr. Bhattacharjee’s question deserves close attention, but a small piece of information first. The Left Front won 233 seats in an assembly of 294, that’s 79% of seats. But percentage of votes it secured was less than 50%. In the distorted mirror of the first-past-the-post system CPM had more clothes on than it actually had. It is in the fitness of things perhaps that the party which had invested so much in nirbachoni sangram (electoral struggle) should get undone by smoke and mirrors of parliamentary politics.
By Sunil Gupta
A remarkable thing about the secret US cables disclosed by the WikiLeaks was their predictability. From India’s vote against Iran in the IAEA, ouster of Manishankar Iyer from oil ministry, vote on the nuclear bill in the Parliament where strange bedfellows made deals murkier than the one between India and the US, to the domestic ones: BJP leader’s admission that Hindutva was a facade or Buddadeb’s playing the over-eager usher to Dow – the routineness of revelations starts to disappoint.
Reflections on Jagan Reddy’s Wealth: What Elites Own is an Indicator of Society’s Dominant Production Relations
By Deepankar Basu
It is interesting what a recent report in the Times of India has to say about the wealth of Jagan Reddy, one of the richest politicians in India today. Quite apart from the obscene amounts of wealth that he (going back to several generations of his forefathers) has managed to accumulate, it is interesting to note that “[m]ajority of Jagan’s assets are in the form of bonds and shares in various private firms, including Bharati Cements and Sandur Power Project company.”
By Shiv Sethi
Libya is under attack by the US-led NATO forces. The pretext of the attack is humanitarian intervention to save ‘freedom seeking people of Libya’ from a massacre being committed by pro-Gaddafi force.
If history is a suitable guide, we can be sure that when countries like the US, England, and France intervene militarily, the violence escalates by orders of magnitude or a conflict almost certainly makes a transition from occasional skirmish to mass murder bordering on genocide.
By Panayiotis T. Manolakos
NEW YORK CITY – During March 18-20, the Left Forum met at Pace University under the banner “Towards Politics of Solidarity”, which the organizers claimed was the moral act underpinning working class victories. Each March, the Forum gathers academicians and political workers to address a particular theme. According to the organizers, “[t]he potential for transformative struggles [today] depends on new chains of solidarity” and hence the Forum aims to “contribute to the intellectual underpinnings of new and tighter forms of world-wide solidarity upon which all successful emancipatory struggles of the future will depend”. There were a number of panels pertaining to South Asia, including Sanhati’s panels on Left Movements in Contemporary India. Sanhati panelists at the Forum included Gautam Navlakha, Deepankar Basu, Siddhartha Mitra, Anindya Dey, and Nandini Dhar.
By Partho Sarathi Ray
Medinipur central jail was the site of a brutal attack on undertrial political prisoners by prison guards and convicted criminals on 22nd and 23rd March, which has left around 28 political prisoners injured, some critically, and has raised fears of further attacks on political prisoners inside the jail. Around 300 undertrial political prisoners are currently incarcerated in Medinipur jail, most of them poor adivasis from Lalgarh, who have been arrested for being participants in the Lalgarh uprising and charged under various sections of the CrPC and UAPA. The prisoners include Chatradhar Mahato, the spokesperson of the PCAPA, and other leaders of the PCAPA, and Raja Sarkhel and Prasun Chattopadhyay, who are Kolkata based activists who have been charged with being Maoist sympathizers. The presence of so many political prisoners in one jail had reportedly acted as a check on the behaviour of prison wardens and authorities and had reduced human rights violations of all sections of prisoners.
By Kuver Sinha
As Japan’s nuclear crisis continues, the reaction of top officials of India’s nuclear establishment makes for interesting reading.
“There is no nuclear accident or incident in Japan’s Fukushima plants…It was purely a chemical reaction and not a nuclear emergency as described by some section of media” – Dr. Srikumar Banerjee, Chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission.
By Siddhartha Mitra, Sanhati
35 human beings perished in the IED blast near Dantewada on May 14th, 2010. Who exactly died? This article explores the main targets of the attack, the Special Police Officers or SPO’s – the identity conferred on the SPO’s by mainstream reporting, and the politics behind that identity.
The Media and the Victims: Civilians or Not?
News sources across India reported on the Maoist attack at great length, and condemnations by various civil liberty groups poured in. This attack was somewhat different in nature from earlier Maoist attacks, not only because of the number of casualties involved: this was a rare occasion when the attackers had full knowledge that civilians would be among the victims, and because the intended targets themselves were not from the military or the armed forces. The attack that claimed the lives of 76 paramilitary personnel a month earlier did not kill any civilians, and earlier incidents involving Maoist violence on civilian personnel had been claimed to have been carried out in error, with the true targets being personnel in the armed forces.
By Partho Sarathi Ray, Sanhati. April 16 2010.
“Think of the press as a great keyboard on which the government can play.” – Joseph Goebbels
Propaganda is one of the main weapons of the government of India’s Operation Green Hunt. The propaganda war is being waged in order to mould public opinion and turn liberal voices against the enemy, the Maoists. As part of this propaganda campaign, the government has brought out large, full colour advertisements (paid for by taxpayers’ money) in major newspapers which have portrayed the Maoists as “ruthless killers” and as destroyers of public property.
However a more insidious, and clandestine, part of the propaganda war, is to plant stories in the mainstream media in the form of “news”, which the average reader, having faith in the objectivity of the media as the main source of information, will take at face value as the truth.