The Virus Behind Ebola

Ration for Assam Tea Garden Workers to Stop

The Kiss on the Brink

Swachhta Abhiyan-For whom and by whom?

Proposed Labour Law Reforms: Should we sacrifice democracy and well being of people for FDI and high growth rate?

by Surendra Pratap The new NDA government is moving fast towards amendment of labour laws. Notifications are issued and comments are invited on the amendments proposed by the government on Minimum Wages Act 1948, Factories Act 1948, Apprentices Act, 1961, Labour Laws (Exemption from Furnishing Returns and Maintaining Registers by Certain Establishments) Act, 1988 and […]

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Election results 2014: Winners and losers

by S. Mohammed Irshad Democracy is consider as the most powerful form of government, precisely because of it’s nature of accommodating independent views. 2014 general election in India questioned some of these theoretical propositions on democracy. Is it a success of democracy? Theoretically it is. The majority voted for Mr Narendra Modi. He has got […]

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Truth is stranger than fiction: a note on the Akshardham acquittal

by Ra Ravishankar The Akshardham attack of 2002 has recently been in the news after the Supreme Court acquitted all the main accused persons. As the first case where the accused were convicted under POTA, the acquittal is an apt illustration of all that’s wrong with repressive laws and how they are used to criminalize […]

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A moment of clarity

by Saroj Giri In what sense is Modi’s victory the opposite of Obama’s victory? The latter was one where the political system produced someone who it was hoped might challenge the dominant socio-economic order and its injustices. The political domain was supposed to produce a dissonance. With Modi, the political system produces someone who will […]

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Modi, the secular right-wing and communalism

by Saroj Giri Whatever the election results, the secular right-wing and a growth-friendly communalism will do the bidding for Hindutva. Moderate and extreme Modi are not either/or – they can coexist. Let us, firstly, get over this debate about whether Modi will be moderate or extreme. Obviously, a moderate Modi is a possibility, a banal, […]

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Will Ambani have the last laugh? Or why the Aam Aadmi Party needs a small lesson in Marxism.

by Saroj Giri Let us accept Arun Jaitley’s characterisation that the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government had no agenda, ideology or mandate. Is this not precisely what gives AAP the freedom and lucidity with which they act, fresh, unpredictable and unjaded, if not entirely anti-establishment? While AAP too is definitely gaming for the next elections, […]

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Labour in West Bengal: Scenario under the Trinamool Congress rule

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 […]

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What Ails the Indian Economy?

By Deepankar Basu and Debarshi Das Summary: The slowdown of growth rate in India is an outcome of the nature of high growth experienced in the recent past. The high growth had a narrow base, the vast majority of the poor did not share its benefits. The growth was helped by foreign capital inflow. Because […]

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Starvation Wages in Karnataka

By. S. Balan Government of Karnataka fixed starvation wages for a period between 1.4.2013 to 31.03.2014 in the guise of minimum wages as per Minimum Wages Act, 1948 Government of Karnataka has fixed minimum wages payable in 77 Scheduled employments for the year 1.04.2013 to 31.03.2013 covering the life of 3 crore workers working in […]

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Poverty in India : Line, Level and Trend

by Deepankar Basu The Planning Commission’s latest estimates of the incidence of poverty in India – measured by the head count ratio – have been met with incredulity in most quarters where reason still holds sway and evidence still matters. Using a poverty line of Rs. 816 per capita per month for rural areas and […]

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Tayyip Istifa

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. […]

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West Bengal : The chit fund crisis: looting the poor with political connivance

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 […]

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Cheerleader of a Lynch Mob

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 […]

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Ashis Nandy, radically conservative

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 […]

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People under surveillance, Privacy law for whom ?

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 […]

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Commentaries on Politics and Economics

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: […]

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The Second Singur ‘Rebellion’ by Ma, Mati and Manush

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.

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The martyrdom of Com. T P Chandrasekharan and the future of transformative politics in Keralam

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.

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NCTC – Mamata’s scepticism and pseudo-concern

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?

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Arab Spring and Imperialism

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.

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European labour markets : a picture of class warfare

If this be peace : piss in peace

The Kolkata Book Fair – Emerging vigilanteism over and throttling of independent Little Magazines

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.

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The Aftermath of the AMRI Tragedy: Some Related Thoughts on Democratic Work in Urban Areas of India

Let the sons of the revolution not die being peace-trapped

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.

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Reporting from India?

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.

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Is the US Labour Market Doing Well?

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 [1]. 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.

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Post-mortem

Didi’s Bengal

Of Nussbaum, I don’t Singh

Plain Thoughts in the Time of a War (and on the Recent Shenanigans of the Netri)

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.

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Notes on the Oakland Commune

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.

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Besimari on NH 52

by Debarshi Das National Highway 52 runs parallel to the Brahmaputra from east to west. I know this road. As the bus leaves the town, the nature of passengers gradually shifts. Dapper Assamese servicemen, busy on the phone Marwari tradesmen, bag clutching bespectacled Bengali medical representatives, dwindle. Tea tribe women labourers become numerous. Sometimes Bodo […]

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Of Poverty, Planning Commission and the Media

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.

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Goon-running, Rabindranath and the Netri

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.

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Brutalities cannot be forgotten

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.

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Understanding Exploitation in Rural Bihar: A Note

By Anirban Kar

Even in this era of finance and globalization rural land ownership still occupies a central position in political economy of India. Peoples’ resistance, be it in Sompeta or in Narayanpatna, has revolved around similar aspirations; that of secured ownership of land. On the other hand, opposition to tenancy reform in Bihar and disbanding of Amir Das commission investigating Laxmanpur Bathe massacre show how desperate big landowners are to hold on to their privileges.

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Neoliberalism and the New Gilded Age: The Wealth Pyramid in the US

by Ramaa Vasudevan An observer of US politics would be struck by the absurdity of the US Congress scuttling a proposal to let the Bush tax breaks expire for households with incomes over $250,000, as part of the deal for letting unemployment insurance be extended, at a time when most American people are still struggling […]

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Buddhababu’s Shilpayon (Industrialization)

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.

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The State on the Couch

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.

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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.”

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The Locusts in the Libyan Skies

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.

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Sanhati Joins Left Forum to Discuss Movements in Contemporary India

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.

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Attack on political prisoners in Medinipur central jail, West Bengal

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.

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Japan’s Nuclear Crisis and The Indian Bureaucrat-Scientist – A Very Modest Note

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.

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Dishonesty of Arundhati or Media?

Agrarian Change in North India: Evidence from Haryana and Uttar Pradesh

By Amit Basole, Sanhati

Earlier on Sanhati (paper here), we have published a study that attempts to understand the evolution of relations of production under which the majority of the working people in India labour. Using aggregate level data for agriculture and informal industry, and drawing on several case studies of the unorganized sector, we have highlighted key aspects of Indian capitalism. One of the major lacuna of that study was the absence of reference to micro/village level studies of agrarian change. This article is part of series of short pieces (the first one was on Bihar) that summarize crucial aspects of the dynamics of agrarian change observed at the village level. Here we take a brief look at Haryana and Uttar Pradesh. Subsequent essays in the series will examine state and village-level evidence from Western and Southern India.

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SPO’s and Civilians: Or the Great Indian “Police” Trick

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.

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The Rs. 1500 crore “Maoist empire” or How the Police Plants Stories in the Press

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.

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