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THE HIMALAYAN DISASTER: TRANSNATIONAL DISASTER MANAGEMENT MECHANISM A MUST

We talked with Palash Biswas, an editor for Indian Express in Kolkata today also. He urged that there must a transnational disaster management mechanism to avert such scale disaster in the Himalayas. http://youtu.be/7IzWUpRECJM

THE HIMALAYAN TALK: PALASH BISWAS TALKS AGAINST CASTEIST HEGEMONY IN SOUTH ASIA

THE HIMALAYAN TALK: PALASH BISWAS TALKS AGAINST CASTEIST HEGEMONY IN SOUTH ASIA

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Thursday, July 7, 2011

SKELETONs Tumble Down from UPA Cabinet Cupbaiord amidst the CIVIL SOCIETY Pro US Democracy Hype and LOKPAL Bill!Having submitted the status report of its ongoing probe into 2G spectrum allocation scam, the Central Bureau of Investigation will questio

SKELETONs Tumble Down from UPA Cabinet Cupboard amidst the CIVIL SOCIETY Pro US Democracy Hype and LOKPAL Bill!Having submitted the status report of its ongoing probe into 2G spectrum allocation scam, the Central Bureau of Investigation will question in due course Dayanidhi Maran who resigned as Union Textiles Minister on Thursday.On the other hand,an NGO on Thursday moved the Supreme Court seeking CBI probe against Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal and Attorney General GE Vahanvati in connection with 2G spectrum issue.Meanwhile in Bengal, the FICCI Governement led by Super woman Mamata Banerjee includes Extra constitutional Elements of Neoliberalism and Corporate World Narayanmurthy, Sam Pitroda, Ishwar Judge Ahluwalia and so on under MONTEK Singh Ahluwalia Amit Mitra Supervision to continue the Marxist Brahaminical Policy of Market Economy and Foreign Cptital Inflow associated by Private Investing!Production System DEVASTED and Service Grwth corporate philanthrop dependent Profit oriented Economics of Exclusion and ethnic Cleansing is Full Bloom in Bengal nowadays under Super Active Brahamin Kanya CM with a Fully Inactive Subordinate Ministry Irrlevant in Governance and Policy Making. Not Enough, Mamat continues to LOOK after Indian Railway as well!Rahul Gandhi attacks Maywati, says state being run by dalals!What about Rest of India inflicted with LPG Mafia Rule merciless?Be Aware of Impending Disaster as Independent nuclear authority bill to be introduced in Parliament soon!Government has finalised the much-awaited rules of implementation of the nuclear liability law , a move that could pave way for expansion of the atomic power sector by procuring equipment from foreign suppliers.


Indian Holocaust My Father`s Life and Time - SIX HUNDRED SEVENTY SEVEN

Palash Biswas

http://indianholocaustmyfatherslifeandtime.blogspot.com/



http://basantipurtimes.blogspot.com/
07/07/2011

38 killed as train rams into bus in Uttar Pradesh

Lucknow: At least 38 people were killed and about 30 injured when an express train collided with a bus at an unmanned crossing in Uttar Pradesh's Kanshiram Nagar district early Thursday, officials said.
The accident took place around 2 a.m. at an unmanned railway crossing in Thanagaon, about 250 km from here, when the Chhapra Mathura express train rammed into the bus carrying members of a wedding party on their way back home to Etah, Government Railway Police inspector Dalveer Singh told IANS.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has directed Railway Board Chairman Vinay Mittal to proceed to the accident site and asked "the commissioner of railway safety to hold an enquiry".
The Prime Minister's Office (PMO) announced ex-gratia relief of Rs.2 lakh each for the next of kin of the deceased and Rs.50,000 each for seriously injured and Rs.10,000 each for simple injuries.
"While the death toll is now 38, around 30 people are still being treated in hospitals and community health centres," Kanshiram Nagar District Magistrate Selva Kumari J. told IANS.
"Most of the passengers in the bus were natives of Etah district. In order to gather more information about the victims, we are in contact with officials in Etah. A team of railway doctors is also assisting the local medical staff in treating the injured," she added.
Some railway officials from Bareilly division blamed the bus driver for the incident.
"I have ordered a separate probe at my level into the accident. As of now we cannot tell what exactly led to the incident or who was at fault. It is yet to be ascertained whether the bus driver too got killed or fled after the accident," Selva Kumar responded.
According to Kanshiram Nagar Chief Medical Officer (CMO) R.C. Pandey, four of the critically injured had been shifted to Agra for further treatment.
The state government has announced compensation of Rs.1 lakh to the family of those killed and Rs.50,000 to those grievously injured. Those with minor injuries would be given Rs.25,000, officials said.
The rail tracks that were affected following the accident have been repaired. "The route has now been cleared. We have been told that the engine of the train hit the rear portion of the bus," said an official.
There were around 80 passengers in the bus at the time of the accident.
Source: IANS

SKELETONs Tumble Down from UPA Cabinet Cupbaiord amidst the CIVIL SOCIETY Pro US Democracy Hype and LOKPAL Bill!Having submitted the status report of its ongoing probe into 2G spectrum allocation scam, the Central Bureau of Investigation will question in due course Dayanidhi Maran who resigned as Union Textiles Minister on Thursday.On the other hand,an NGO on Thursday moved the Supreme Court seeking CBI probe against Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal and Attorney General GE Vahanvati in connection with 2G spectrum issue.Meanwhile in Bengal, the FICCI Governement led by Super woman Mamata Banerjee includes Extra constitutional Elements of Neoliberalism and Corporate World Narayanmurthy, Sam Pitroda, Ishwar Judge Ahluwalia and so on under MONTEK Singh Ahluwalia Amit Mitra Supervision to continue the Marxist Brahaminical Policy of Market Economy and Foreign Cptital Inflow associated by Private Investing!Production System DEVASTED and Service Grwth corporate philanthrop dependent Profit oriented Economics of Exclusion and ethnic Cleansing is Full Bloom in Bengal nowadays under Super Active Brahamin Kanya CM with a Fully Inactive Subordinate Ministry Irrlevant in Governance and Policy Making. Not Enough, Mamat continues to LOOK after Indian Railway as well!Rahul Gandhi attacks Maywati, says state being run by dalals!What about Rest of India inflicted with LPG Mafia Rule merciless?Be Aware of Impending Disaster as Independent nuclear authority bill to be introduced in Parliament soon!Government has finalised the much-awaited rules of implementation of the nuclear liability law , a move that could pave way for expansion of the atomic power sector by procuring equipment from foreign suppliers.

The West Bengal government has approached Infosys founder N R Narayana Murthy to become the chief mentor of its expert committee on IT.

Telecommunications expert and advisor to the Prime Minister on public information infrastructure and innovations, Sam Pitroda is set to head the committee on hardware development to be set up by the West Bengal state government to aid the industry's growth.

"While he has not confirmed officially, an unofficial confirmation has been received from Mr Pitroda that he be chairman of the committee on hardware industry growth in the state," said state IT secretary, Basudeb Banerjee.

Besides Pitroda, Infosys co-founder and chairman, Narayan Murthy has also been approached by the state government to be the chief mentor of the information technology (IT) sector. Murthy, however, is yet to respond to the invitation.
On July 18, when West Bengal chief minister met with investors she made it clear that information technology (IT) will be the focus of her government for the state's growth.
State IT minister, Partha Chatterjee told Business Standard, that he had been in touch with Infosys CEO, Kris Gopalakrishnan and would visit the Bangalore campus to personally extend an invitation to Murthy within the month.
"We invited a team from Infosys to visit Kolkata for investments, but since they are busy, I will travel to Bangalore and meet with Infosys and other smaller IT companies to discuss potential investments," said Chatterjee.


While four years back, the IT industry in West Bengal was spread over only 181 acres in the city, the area currently totals to 482 acres, covering localities like Rajarhat, Bantala and Nonadanga. Apart from that, it is developing new areas in places like Durgapur and Siliguri.

The IT sector in West Bengal created more than 20,000 new jobs in the state in 2010 and 15,000 in 2009. More than a lakh professionals currently work in the IT and ITeS sector in West Bengal.



Murthy, who had come to Kolkata at least twice last year, had expressed his willingness to work closely with the state government.

Days after being sworn in, the Mamata Banerjee-led government announced setting up of two advisory committees for hardware and software development in the state.


While Murthy is yet to respond to the state government request, IT and telecom expert Sam Pitroda has been nominated as the chairman of the two committees. Pitroda had also attended Mamata's swearing-in ceremony.

Murthy's Infosys had received 50 acres from the Left government last year to set up a campus in Kolkata. But it is yet to start construction there.

According to state IT department sources, software exports of almost 220 companies in West Bengal stood at Rs 7,000 crore in 2010-11. Last year, the state's IT sector maintained a growth of around 8%

07/07/2011

Uttar Pradesh is run by 'dalals': Rahul Gandhi

Kirpalpur: Firing a fresh salvo at the Mayawati Government, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi today said "dalals" were running Uttar Pradesh as people of the state are "divided".
"You are not together. Uttar Pradesh is divided and that is why dalals (touts) are running the state," Gandhi said, addressing people in this village on the third day of his padayatra to Aligarh.
"You may not like it. But this is true. Since you are not together that is why this is happening here. Unless you unite, you will continue to suffer. Unless you don't understand what is happening, the train will not come on its track," the young Congress leader told the villagers.
Rahul began his foot march on Thursday from Sarole village in the district at 6.30 a.m. and walked about 7 km to reach here on his way to Aligarh, where he is slated to address a 'kisan mahapanchayat' on July 9.
He said he came all the way from Delhi to convey his concern to farmers and people of Uttar Pradesh. "I started my padayatra from Bhatta-Parsaul which saw the operation by the Mayawati Government on farmers in which many people were killed," he said.
"I wanted to meet you personally and hear to your problems," he told the farmers.
Gandhi told the farmers and villagers that they are being "fired upon" by police while protesting against taking their land forcibly.
Rahul said: "I have met a number of farmers so far and have not met a single one who does not want development. All farmers wish to get involved in the development process and in the progress of the state.
"Your land is pure. It is being taken away from you forcibly and they don't give adequate price," he said. "I am with you irrespective of caste. For me, everyone are human beings. I wish to help everyone and all the people of Uttar Pradesh."
Citing the example of neighbouring state of Congress-ruled Haryana, Gandhi lauded its land acquisition policy and said "farmers were happy in Haryana and there are no problems there."
"Unlike here, in Haryana there were no dharnas either as the farmers were paid market rates for their land acquired. That is not done here," he said. He also lamented that no other state has acquired as much land as done by the Uttar Pradesh government.
"No farmer is saying that we are against the building of roads of development, but we want to get involved in this development process. It is the government's duty to include all of them in this development process. Wherever I go the farmers are ready to give land but are asking for their rights," Gandhi said.
He also compared the policy of the two states while acquiring the agriculture land.
"While in Uttar Pradesh the farmer land is taken away forcibly, in Haryana farmers are paid adequate compensation, help and employment."
Source: PTI


Meanwhile,The petroleum ministry and private firms, faced with serious charges linked to favouritism and unfair gains in oil and gas exploration by the government auditor, are due to present their case next week in an exit conference linked to the audit that slammed them. Three private companies, Reliance Industries Ltd, Cairn Energy and British Gas will formally respond to the audit findings of the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) in its draft report over irregularities in developing some of India's biggest oil and gas fields.
The CAG is holding an exit conference on July 12 with the petroleum ministry, which in turn has asked the three private companies to come prepared with their replies.
The ministry wrote to the three firms on June 28.
"You have already received the relevant portions of the draft audit report …and are requested to keep the replies ready and come for the meeting on 12th July, 2011," the ministry's letter said.
The CAG, in its draft report submitted to the petroleum ministry on June 7, had highlighted the apparent irregularities by the petroleum ministry and the oil regulator (Director-General of Hydrocarbons) in auditing capital costs, besides allowing concessions to leading private companies including Reliance, Cairn Energy and BG.
A former CAG official told HT that for all performance audits conducted by the CAG, an entry and exit conference is usually conducted with the audited entities.
Refuting charges that CAG did not give enough opportunities to the private operators to present their view before the auditor, the CAG on June 27 had said that "interactive meetings were held with two operators, including Reliance Industries Limited, prior to the finalisation  of the draft performance audit report."
"At no stage did this office refuse any operator an opportunity to respond to observations made by us," the CAG had said.
07/07/2011

DMK chief Karunanidhi defends Maran, attacks media

Chennai: Unfazed by the charges against Dayanidhi Maran that led to his exit from the union cabinet, DMK chief M Karunanidhi today said the party would stand by him and attacked the media for the developments.
"Yes", was the emphatic reply given by Karunanidhi when asked by reporters whether his party would back Maran, hours after his grandnephew resigned making him the second DMK casualty after A Raja in the 2G scam.
Karunanidhi had earlier said Maran would take care of himself after his name cropped up in the 2G scam issue for allegedly forcing telecom promoter C Sivasankaran to sell his company Aircel to a Malaysian firm when he was the telecom minister in 2006.
Strongly criticising the media, Karunanidhi said, "In the whole world, especially in a country like India, the media is ruling and (it) can defame anyone. Dayanidhi Maran is no exception."
He replied in the negative when asked whether any one from the UPA Government got in touch with him ahead of Maran's resignation.
"I did not speak with (UPA Chairperson) Sonia Gandhi or any one last night," the DMK patriarch said.
"It is your imagination," he shot back when asked whether he wrote to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Maran's resignation.
Source: PTI


Textiles Minister Dayanidhi Maran has submitted his resignation to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, informed sources said Thursday, a day after the CBI alleged that he forced telecom promoter C. Sivasankaran to sell his Aircel stake to the Maxis group considered close to his family.

Maran, the second DMK leader to lose a cabinet post over the 2G telecom scam, is learnt to have submitted his resignation to the prime minister after attending what turned out to be his last cabinet meeting as a union minister, the sources said.

Maran, who resigned as Textile Minister today, will be quizzed on the allegations levelled by Sivasankaran and spectrum policy changes made during his tenure during UPA-I, the sources said.

A Preliminary Enquiry on the issue of spectrum allocation during the period 2001-07 which spans across three telecom ministers -- Pramod Mahajan, Arun Shourie and Dayanidhi Maran-- is already underway, they said.

The agency is examining financial transactions of Sun TV, owned by Maran family, and Malaysia-based Maxis. It is also looking into various aspects of takeover of Aircel by Maxis group, they said.

According to the laid down procedure, CBI registers a PE upon receiving a complaint and when anything substantial is discovered this enquiry is converted into a regular case.

Former telecom minister Arun Shourie, who held the charge between 2003-04, has already been questioned by the CBI on February 25 about the allocation of telecom airwaves during his tenure but the agency so far has not found anything against him, they said.

The agency has registered a PE against "unknown persons" on Supreme Court's directive to probe whether there was any anomaly in 'first-come-first-served' policy for spectrum allocation.


Maran left the prime minister's 7 Race Course Road residence after attending the meeting and drove back after putting in his papers, the sources said. He is believed to have had a short meeting with the prime minister.

Reading out from CBI's status report before a bench of Justices GS Singhvi and AK Ganguly, CBI counsel KK Venugopal said Maran as telecom minister blocked grant of spectrum licences to Aircel from 2004-06.

"Inquiry has revealed that in spite of unanimous recommendation for approval of letter of intent, the then Minister for Communications and Information Technology raised objections and sought clarification on August 26, 2004, primarily to block issuance of licences," he said. During Maran's tenure as telecom minister, letters of intent were issued on April 6, 2004, to Aircel, in which C Sivasankaran had 74% stake.

Sivasankaran had alleged that the minister had pressured him to sell off his stake in Aircel to Ananda Krishnan, a close friend of the Marans. CBI said documentary evidence collected so far gave credence to the allegations raised by Sivasankaran. "The enquiries (raised by the minister) appeared to be frivolous and based on out of context grounds meant obviously to block transfer of licenses. After the file (relating to Sivasankaran) was sent to the minister, it was received with objections after 44 days with the file marked to Secretary, Telecom.

Maxis Communication, through its subsidiary Astro, allegedly invested around Rs 600 crore in Sun DTH belonging to the Sun TV Network owned by Maran's family.

Economic Times reports:

A bill towards formation of an independent nuclear regulatory authority will be introduced in ensuing monsoon session of the Parliament, minister of state at the prime minister's office V Narayanasamy said on Thursday.

The government has decided to make the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board more autonomous and independent in its decision-making, he told a conference organised by an industry body.

The new authority will be backed with a strong legal framework and address concerns in many quarters following the March 11 Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear accident in Japan, he said.

He said nuclear power generation is likely to total 30,000 million units in 2011-12. Five more reactors are under construction to generate 10,000-mw of power, Narayanasamy said. "The country is also poised for starting work on first set of reactors along coastal sites in cooperation with the United States, Russia and France," he said

"UPA II is committed to implement the ambitious nuclear energy capacity programme inspite of the criticism," Narayanasamy said.

Nearly 40% of households in India do not have electricity. Of the total 1,70,000 mw installed capacity, 65% is thermal and only 3% is generated by nuclear plants.
http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/politics/nation/independent-nuclear-authority-bill-to-be-introduced-in-parliament-soon-govt/articleshow/9138865.cms


With Textiles Minister Dayanidhi Maran resigning on Thursday, opposition parties demanded that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh explain how he remained in the cabinet for so long despite allegations of involvement in the 2G scam.

"This is no great news, we are only concerned why did the prime minister had to wait so long (to take action against him)?" Bharatiya Janata Party ( BJP )) leader Rajiv Pratap Rudy said.

"Why does the prime minister always condone the actions and allow tainted people to continue in the cabinet? This indicates there is a lethargic attitude on the part of the prime minister. It is as if he is saying, 'Look 7 Race Course Road falls in way to Tihar Jail , so if you are going there, or there is a chargesheet, come and have a cup of coffee with me and then submit your resignation and go to Tihar Jail'," he said.

"If this is the attitude of the prime minister, as was in case of A. Raja, it is a huge disgrace for the country," Rudy said.

Communist Party of India (CPI) leader D. Raja said the resignation had come in too late.

"He should have resigned long back as the allegations were so tenable. It is for the prime minister to answer why a person with such serious allegations against him should be in the council of ministers," he said.

The CPI member said the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government had lost its credibility.

"The UPA-2 has lost its credibility with repeatedly ministers being involved in corruption cases. The prime minister owes an explanation to the nation," Raja added.

Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) leader Brinda Karat said the series of graft charges against ministers was shameful.

"There are so many cases in which UPA government, Congress members and its partners are involved. I think it is a shame for the whole country," she said.

Maran submitted his resignation to the prime minister Thursday, a day after the Central Bureau of Investigation ( CBI )), in its report to the Supreme Court , alleged that as the communication minister from 2004-07, he sat on the licence applications of Aircel till promoter C. Sivasankaran agreed to sell it to Malaysia-based Maxis group.

Maxis allegedly bought 74 percent stake in Aircel and the company was later allotted more telecom circles to operate in.

Maxis Communication, through its subsidiary Astro, then allegedly invested around Rs.600 crore in Sun DTH belonging to the Sun TV Network , owned by Maran's family.

A well known amateur radio operator , Dayanidhi Maran joins a growing list of top politicians and corporate honchos to be felled by the 2G spectrum scam in which DMK was further dealt a body blow with its two leaders already behind bars.

Maran is the second union minister to resign after his party colleague A Raja quit as Telecom minister in November last in connection with the scam. Raja is lodged in Tihar jail which also had DMK supremo Karunanidh's daughter Kanimozhi, a Rajya Sabha MP, among the prison inmates for their alleged involvement.

The resignation of 44-year-old Maran, a savvy politician and grand-nephew of Karunanidhi, as Union Textiles minister marked another episode that has charged both politics in Delhi and Tamil Nadu from the time a string of alleged irregularities in the telecom scam that has caused loss to the state exchequer surfaced.

At the heart of the second generation spectrum scam is the issue of 2G spectrum licenses being allocated to private telecom players at throwaway prices in 2008.

The CAG said the spectrum scam, in which Rules and procedures were flouted, has cost the government Rs. 1.76 lakh crore. Raja's successor Kapil Sibal however contends that the "notional" losses quoted are a result of erroneous calculations and insists that the actual losses are nil.

Kanimozhi has been named by the CBI as a co- conspirator with A Raja.

Former Telecom Secretary Siddharth Behura and Raja's former personal secretary R K Choda are also among the accused in the 2G scam.

The corporate honchos who have been allegedly involved in the scam are Shahid Usman Balwa, former Director of Swan Telecom (now Etisalat DB); Sanjay Chandra, Managing Director of Unitech Ltd and Unitech Wireless; Gautam Doshi , Group MD, Reliance Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group(ADAG); Hari Nair, Senior Vice-President, ADAG; Surendra Pipara, Senior Vice-President, ADAG and Reliance Telecom Ltd and Vinod Goenka, Director, Swan Telecom.

This is the second time that Maran is quitting the Union Cabinet. The first time he quit was in 2007 when the DMK decided to withdraw him from the Cabinet when he was the Telecom minister after differences cropped up within the DMK's first family.

Maran, a Lok Sabha MP from Chennai Central, made a re-entry into the Cabinet in May, 2009 after general elections but did not get his old portfolio and got the Textiles ministry.

Articulate, well-heeled, well-educated, young politician armed with impressive degrees and impressive lineage, Maran, entered national politics in 2004.

An economics graduate, he is politician, journalist and scriptwriter late Murasoli Maran's son and media baron and founder of Sun Network Kalanidhi Maran's younger brother. Murasoli Maran had been an MP for 36 years and a minister in three different governments at the Centre.

In May 2007, the DMK withdrew Maran from the Cabinet, after passing a resolution against him for "violating party discipline and tarnishing the party's image."

The action came against the backdrop of an opinion poll published in the Dinakaran, a newspaper owned by Maran's brother Kalanidhi, which said that Karunanidhi's younger son MK Stalin was more suited to succeed the father than older son MK Azhagiri or daughter Kanimozhi.

Protestors, alleged to be Azhagiri supporters, burnt down the Dinakaran office.

Maran was also the man who made talk cheap. And persuaded big companies to invest in Indian Telecom and IT. When he quit in 2007, Industry said it was disappointed.

Born on December 5, 1966 in Kumbakonam, Dayanidhi Maran had the best of education in Chennai. He schooled at Don Bosco and got a BA degree in Economics from Loyola College .

He is a well-known HAM(an Amateur Radio Operator). His HAM Radio Callsign is VU2DMK. He had his Schooling with Don Bosco, Egmore, Chennai.

CBI's decision not to charge sheet Anil Ambani, Chairman of ADAG Group, in the 2G spectrum scam was today questioned in the Supreme Court by an NGO which alleged that he was making attempts to cover up his involvement by influencing his arrested employees.


"The three persons charge sheeted are just the professional employees of the ADAG and are not the beneficiaries of this scam. The real beneficiary is Anil Ambani, who hold majority stake and is Chairman of the group companies.


"There is no possibility of an employee of the company having taken such an important decision of massive investments running into hundreds of crores of rupees," said an affidavit filed by the Centre for Public Interest Litigation (CPIL).


CBI, which has filed two charge sheets in the 2G scam, has stated that the entire company of Swan Telecom, alleged to be the front company of Reliane Telecom, was held by ADAG companies through the funds raised by Anil Ambani controlled Reliance.


The affidavit said Gautam Doshi , Surendra Pipara and Hari Nair, who are all employees of Anil Ambani controlled Reliance in furtherance of their intention to cheat, created Swan Telecom out of funds arranged from Reliance Telecom for applying for licenses in 13 circles where Reliance Telecom did not have GSM spectrum.


They have been charge sheeted and are in judicial custody in Tihar Jail.


"But Ambani has not been charge-sheeted. ADAG has reportedly claimed that these actions were done without the knowledge of Ambani. If this was true then he should have sacked the three charge sheeted employees," the NGO said adding that instead he visited them and reportedly assured legal assistance.


The CPIL said, "he (Ambani) would have claimed to be a victim of their actions, who used Rs 1000 crore of the company money to create Swan, because of which his company has been charge-sheeted, its reputation tarnished and its stock has drastically fell."

"Instead, Ambani visits Tihar Jail to meet his three employees and assures them of all legal assistance. This was clearly an attempt to influence them so that they don't allege his involvement," it claimed.


The NGO in its application also accused DMK MP Dayanidhi Maran , who today resigned as Textile Minister and Pradeep Baijal , the then Chairperson of TRAI of abusing their official position.


"Apart from abusing his position as Telecom Minister to benefit Maxis which later invested in his family owned Sun TV, Maran also abused his position as telecom minister to divert hundreds of telephone lines of BSNL to Sun TV which were ostensibly provided to Maran for his official use.


" CBI has been investigating this case from Sept 2007 itself, but no action has been taken and apparently the investigation is still continuing," the application said while annexing a CBI report of September 11, 2007.


The NGO claimed that as minister he prevailed upon the Prime Minister to take spectrum pricing out of purview of the cabinet which later triggered the 2G scam.


"This was adversely commented upon by the CAG and Justice Shivraj Patil in their reports," it said


Referring to Baijal, the CPIL said under the TRAI Act, Chairperson TRAI has no authority whatsoever to clarify statutory recommendations through a personal letter, that too based on a telephonic conversation, written after GoM approval, Cabinet decision and issuance of UASL guidelines 2003.


"Yet Baijal as TRAI Chairperson did precisely that through his letter dated November 14, 2003. The said letter was illegal and on its basis 26 licenses were issued, 12 of which went to Tatas.


"CAG & Justice Patil have adversely commented on this action. A detailed complaint on this made by Rajeev Chandrasekhar, MP, to the CBI," the CPIL said adding that after his retirement, he joined corporate lobbyist Niira Radia's PR firm which had Tatas as one of its major client.


The CPIL in its application made reference of the CBI charge sheets which details the complex web of structuring that was done by the Reliance employees to hide the fact that Swan was fully a Reliance company.



Rs 43,523 cr loss due to migration policy: DoT tells JPC
The Department of Telecom on Thursday pegged at over Rs 43,500 crore losses incurred by the national exchequer due to the implementation of the migration policy during the NDA regime.

The DoT, which was asked to quantify the losses on account of the migration policy by the Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC), told the panel that the financial implication due to the change in policy was to the tune of Rs 43,523.92 crore.

The sharp differences between the Ministry of Finance and the Telecom Ministry on the pricing of spectrum also came to the fore at the meeting of the JPC chaired by Congress leader P C Chacko.

The Ministry of Finance, in 2006, wanted the Committee of Secretaries to discuss allocation of additional spectrum and then refer the matter to a Group of Ministers, Chacko told reporters here.

He said the Ministry of Finance had strongly favoured that pricing of spectrum should be part of the terms of reference of the GoM on the issue but the then Telecom Minister did not agree to it.

Chacko said the Union Cabinet had approved the Terms of Reference for the Group of Ministers (GoM) on allocation of additional spectrum and pricing was not in the terms of reference.

P Chidambaram was at the helm of affairs in the Ministry of Finance then, while Dayanidhi Maran was the Telecom Minister.

Maran felt that the pricing of spectrum was the prerogative of the adminstrative ministry and hence did not favour the matter among the terms of reference of the GoM, Chacko said.

Essar group involved in 2G scam: CBI tells SC
CBI today indicated involvement of Essar group in the 2G spectrum scam when it said in the Supreme Court that Loop, which got licence during the tenure of A Raja, was its front company.

The agency also questioned the role of Ministry of Corporate Affairs in giving clean chit to Essar group.

Without naming the corporate house, the agency said that it had promoted the telecom company in order to get licence and 2G spectrum during the tenure of former Telecom Minister Raja.

Giving details of financial transactions which was routed through Mauritius , Senior Advocate K K Venugopal , appearing for the CBI, submitted that the money trail clearly established the involvement of the corporate house.

"Attempts were made to project that they are not connected but slowly we are finding that they are closely involved," he said, adding "Corporate guarantee was granted by the group company".

"The lady mentioned in the list is the sister of Director of the group company and is holding the telecom company along with her husband and brother. They are partners and the telecom company is owned by the three," he said without taking their names.

The investigating agency also questioned the propriety of ministry of corporate affairs as well as others to comment on the status of relationship between Loop Telecom and Essar.

"This is unwarranted when the Supreme Court is monitoring the investigations," it said.

The ministry had communicated to the Telecom Ministry that the Ruias-led group held only 2.15 per cent stake in Loop Telecom at the time of obtaining 2G licence.

Venugopal said the legal opinion rendered by former judges to the company was forwarded to the CBI. According to this, Essar Group and Loop Telecom has no link.

He, however, clarified that the agency was in no way going to be influenced in its probe.

The bench, after going through the status report filed in the sealed cover, said that the investigating agencies probing the case should not be influenced by the comments made by others and they must bring the investigation to a logical conclusion.

"Attempts will certainly be made to sidetrack the investigation," the court said, adding "Investigation has to be taken to a logical conclusion at the earliest otherwise cover ups would cover everything."

"One ministry has taken a somersault," Venugopal said in an apparent reference to the role of Ministry of Corporate Affairs after it gave a clean chit to the group company.

Venugopal said the investigation into the scam and money trail involved in it had taken the CBI to seven foreign destinations and even the ED has secured letters rogatory seeking cooperation from Isle of Man in its probe.

Venugopal, who read out the status report, said investigation into the money trail has led the CBI to Switzerland where Swan telecom, which allegedly acted as front company for Reliance telecom, parked the money connected with the 2G scam.

It was reported that the money was related to the investment in Delphi which was helping Swan telecom.
Government finalises rules of nuclear liability law

Government has finalised the much-awaited rules of implementation of the nuclear liability law , a move that could pave way for expansion of the atomic power sector by procuring equipment from foreign suppliers.

"A PMO committee has approved the rules of implementation of the civil nuclear liability law. We will notify the rules within month," V Narayanasamy, Minister of State in the PMO told reporters here.

The Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage law, passed by Parliament last year, allows the operator of a nuclear plant to seek damages from the supplier in case the nuclear incident occurs due to supply of equipment with latent and patent defects or sub-standard services.

The suppliers' liability aspect is built into the Indian law through the operator's 'right of recourse' incorporated in Article 17 (a, b and c), which has not been favourably accepted by a section of equipment suppliers and analysts.

"Sooner the better," said Arthur de Montalembert , Chairman and Managing Director of Areva India in reply to a question about when he expected the notification of the rules.

Areva, together with Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL), is building two 1650 MW nuclear power reactors at Jaitapur in Maharashtra.

Areva had signed the early works contract with NPCIL last year for the Jaitapur project and was awaiting the notification of rules of implementation of the liability law.

Once the rules are notified, foreign suppliers like Areva can go ahead and sign the commercial contract with NPCIL for the Jaitapur project.
Govt panel okays bill calling for mining profit share
A panel of Indian ministers on Thursday approved a new bill calling for coal miners to share a maximum 26 percent of their profits with local communities, a government source said.

The source at the mining ministry added the draft law, which now goes to cabinet for approval, also calls for other miners to give to local communities an amount equivalent to royalties.

The bill requires parliamentary approval after passing by cabinet to become a law.

The bill proposes the profit sharing formula in a bid to smooth land acquisition, a touchy issue in the countryside, where many oppose natural resources being carted away by outsiders.

While industry bodies are reconciled to sharing some profits, they have baulked at 26 percent, saying that will raise business costs too much and deter investors, a fear the government appears to be recognising.

29 JUN, 2011, 11.02PM IST,REUTERS

India plans mining licence to attract foreign investors

NEW DELHI: India's draft mining bill will offer a prospecting licence guaranteeing the holder the right to produce 100 percent of any find, as the country seeks to attract foreign money and technology to its underperforming mining sector.

The bill will also create an independent regulator for the sector, Mines Secretary S. Vijay Kumar told Reuters, and should be approved by end-2012.

"There is a dire need to attract capital and attract technology," he said, adding India's mineral potential matched resource rich western Australia and southern Africa but exploration had only scratched the surface so far.

The Large Area Prospecting Licence (LAPL) proposes areas up to 5,000 square kilometres (sq km) for hunting for resources, allocated for a six-year period. Around 570,000 sq km of the 3 million sq km country has high potential for finds, he said.

"If you find the deposit, you have the mining licence and you go for mining. If you don't find the deposit, you leave empty-handed," he said, adding companies would have to hand data from the area to the government.

"It is certainly a first that you go from reconaissance straight to mining," Vijay Kumar added.

India's mining sector has only opened up fully to private investors in recent years and state-run companies have lacked the funds and expertise to probe deeper than the top 50 metres or so where its iron ore and coal reserves are found.

Global mining giants BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto have only small ventures so far in the country. In Orissa state, for example, Rio Tinto has been negotiating since 1995 with the state government to develop iron ore deposits in a joint venture.

The mining bill should go to the government for approval after possibly a final meeting of a group of ministers on July 7 and could be presented in parliament in August. The bill could take a year or so to make its way through parliament.

The draft mining law also proposes foreign firms share some of their mining profits with local communities as the coalition government tries to reassure its large rural vote natural resources are not being carted away by outsiders, a resentment which Maoist rebels are tapping into in some areas.

Years of protests, sometimes violent, have delayed many projects, including South Korean steel maker POSCO's plant in Orissa state, the biggest foreign direct investment in India at $12 billion.

In addition to the new LAPL concession, the government is studying ways to bring venture capital into the sector, Vijay Kumar said, including offering tax breaks to investors and ways for Indian companies to access capital abroad.
Cabinet to decide on Wageboard recommendations next week
A decision on the recommendations of Justice Majithia Wageboards for newspapers and news agency employees is likely next week with the Union Cabinet today deciding to take it up at its next meeting.

"The issue of the wage boards for journalists and non -journalists will be taken up at the next meeting of the Cabinet next week," Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni told reporters here.

Briefing reporters on the deliberations at the Cabinet's meeting today, she said there was some discussion on the matter and it was decided that it should be taken up next week.

The panel had submitted its report to the government on December 31 last year recommending increases in the wages of the newspaper industry employees.

Earlier this month, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had met the representatives of the employees and assured them that "I will do my duty". The employees have been agitating over the "delay" in government's approval to the recommendations for past few months.
1 JUN, 2011, 03.43AM IST,ET BUREAU
PM reiterates India's commitment to nuclear power

NEW DELHI: Caught offguard by Germany's announcement that it would phase out all its nuclear power plants by 2022, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Tuesday reiterated India's commitment to nuclear power when he said that India must make use of nuclear energy to meet not just its energy needs but also its emission targets.

He made his latest assertion on the issue in the presence of German Chancellor Angela Merkel here on Tuesday, and insisted there would be absolutely no cause of concern with the safety norms for India's reactors which, he reassured, would be world class.

Germany was constrained to take a decision on phasing out nuclear power following a thorough review of all its reactors in the wake of Fukushima disaster earlier this year. "One thing which is quite clear is that if India is to meet its emission targets, then nuclear energy along with renewable sources of energy, is a combination which we need,'' said Singh while addressing a joint press conference with Merkel.

"We will make every effort to ensure that safety norms in generation and utilisation of nuclear power are world class, but we must have the option to make use of the nuclear energy, together with the heavy reliance on coal which is inevitable for quite sometime to come in our country,'' Singh added.

While India wants to raise its nuclear power generation capacity to 20,000 MW by 2020, Singh said no firm decision had been taken yet on capacity enhancement beyond that. "Nuclear energy today accounts for only about 3% of total energy generated in our system. As of now, our capacity is less than 5,000 MW. We want to raise it to about 20,000 MW by the year 2020. Thereafter there are some projections but no firm decisions have been taken,'' he said.

The two leaders also discussed terrorism and the situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan during what was the first inter-governmental meeting between their countries. "We discussed the developments in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Terrorism is a serious challenge which will have to be fought on all fronts and not selectively," said Singh.

Merkel also highlighted the importance of Afghanistan. She said it was important that Afghanistan develop an independent security architecture. Germany will be hosting the next conference on Afghanistan by the end of the year in which the issue of reconciliation process will be discussed in detail. "The Afghan President and my Government agreed on part and parcel of reconciliation in the countrya¦reconciliation of all the forces if they fulfill the conditions,'' she said. India and Germany also inked four pacts to expand their cooperation in areas relating to education, research and high-tech areas like nuclear physics.
http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/politics/nation/PM-reiterates-Indias-commitment-to-nuclear-power/articleshow/8672443.cms


7 JUL, 2011, 07.48PM IST, MAN MOHAN RAI,ET BUREAU
Rahul Gandhi attacks Maywati, says state being run by dalals

LUCKNOW: In one of his most stinging attacks on the Mayawati government, Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi on the third day of his foot march said that 'dalals' (touts) were running Uttar Pradesh. Stepping up his attack on Mayawati whom he had avoided commenting upon when he started his foot march on Tuesday, Rahul Gandhi said that because people were not united Uttar Pradesh was being ruled by dalals.

Addressing farmers at Kirpalpur village in Aligarh on Thursday Rahul Gandhi said that farmers land was being taken forcibly and they were given meager compensation. He told villagers that unless they united things would not change for the better for them as the state government was working not for their welfare but for the benefit of builders.

The Congress MP started the third day of his padyatra from Sarole village in Aligarh and met villagers along his route urging them to attend the kisan mahapanchayat rally in Aligarh on July 9. He had started the foot march on Tuesday from Bhatta Parsaul near Greater Noida to Agra along the Yamuna Expressway highway.

He said that farmers were willing to give land for development but wanted compensation at market rates. He said that in Haryana there was no farmers unrest on land acquisition as the policy there provided market rates for their land as well as jobs.

He told villagers that the central government would present a new Land Acquisition Bill in the coming session of the parliament which would be in the farmers interest.

He said that though Mayawati government announced a new compensation policy in UP after farmers agitations it would not benefit most farmers as it would apply with prospective effect.

Rahul Gandhi said that during his interaction with villagers many expressed the need for development and also giving up their land for acquisition but they did not want to surrender their land for the builders to make money.

He urged farmers to gather for the Maha Panchayat Rally in Aligarh on July 9, and show the state government their collective might and opinion on the states land acquisition policy.
http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/politics/nation/rahul-gandhi-attacks-maywati-says-state-being-run-by-dalals/articleshow/9139229.cms


7 JUL, 2011, 07.25PM IST,TNN
Fresh case of cheating against Sun Picture's COO Hansraj Saxena

CHENNAI: Four days after the arrest of Hansraj Saxena , chief operating officer of Sun Pictures, the Chennai city police on Thursday registered a fresh case of cheating against him. Saxena was arrested on Sunday on charges of cheating a film distributor TS Selvaraj to the tune of Rs 82.53 lakh.

Acting on the complaint of one film distributor from Salem , police made a fresh case of cheating against Saxena. As per the request of the city police, Saidapet magistrate on July 5 allowed the cops to interrogate Saxena in police custody for three days. He was again produced before the magistrate court on Thursday and was remanded in Puzhal prison.

Meanwhile, the police sought the magistrate to extend Saxena's custody to another couple of days. But the magistrate denied permission.

Sun Pictures chief financial officer Unnikrishnan on Thursday appeared before the investigation officers and submitted the money transactions for the last five years period of Sun Pictures.

Chennai police on Wednesday summoned Unnikrishnan, chief financial officer of Sun Pictures to appear before the investigation officers and asked to submit the financial documents of Sun Pictures. On Wednesday, police picked up Saxena's close aides Ayyappan and Thambidurai for questioning.

http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/politics/nation/fresh-case-of-cheating-against-sun-pictures-coo-hansraj-saxena/articleshow/9139008.cms
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The politics of neoliberalism in India

Ganesh Lal interviews Achin Vanaik
January 2004

Ganesh Lal is co-author, with David Whitehouse and Dina Roy, of "India, Pakistan and the question of Kashmir" in ISR 24 (July-August 2002).

GL: India has now seen about 15 years of neoliberalism, with the reforms that began in 1988. Could you give us a balance sheet of neoliberalism in India? How has it been able to survive for 15 years, while countries like Indonesia and Argentina have experienced catastrophic meltdowns?

AV: The absence of capital account convertibility (1) in India prevented the Indian economy from suffering the kind of damage that East Asia suffered, and Argentina of course is very much tied to the dollar economy. But if you want to assess the Indian economy, then you can do it in two ways: You can use the criteria that the pro-liberalizers themselves have set, or you can use other criteria.

The pro-liberalizers predicted two things: first, a dramatic breakthrough in growth rates, and second, a steady decline in the fiscal deficit. According to their own criteria, there has not been that dramatic a breakthrough at all. The average growth rate of the Indian economy since 1991 is approximately the same as that of the 1980s, averaging around 5.7—5.8 percent. This puts India among the top 10 fast-growing countries, but as an indicator of some dramatic new change, this is misleading, because we saw similar growth in the 1980s.

As far as the fiscal deficit is concerned, we've seen a huge failure. There's been no steady decline, and the fiscal deficit has hovered around 4.7—7 percent. The problem, however, is never really the fiscal deficit, but the revenue deficit. With neoliberal economics, you don't tax the rich and the wealthy-in fact you have to go in the other direction-hence a growing revenue deficit. Another reason for the revenue deficit is that in the last six years we've had the fastest rate of growth in military expenditure in the history of India since independence in 1947, much faster than any five-year period even before and after the wars in 1965 and 1971.

The neoliberals always insist on cutting the fiscal deficit because they want to reduce capital expenditure by the state. This has been a big mistake in the Indian context because it is based on a premise that is deeply flawed, particularly with respect to developing economies. The premise is to let the private sector take the burden of investment, while public-sector investment is seen as a drain on the role of the private sector. But in countries like India and other developing economies, and I suspect also in the advanced economies, public-sector investment on infrastructure crowds in, i.e. brings in private-sector investment.

So the fact that you had an attempt to reduce public-sector investment, combined with the attempt to increase the revenues on the capital account by reckless privatization sales means that the real problem-that of the revenue deficit-has not been tackled.

But there are other criteria that we can use to assess the state of the Indian economy: the question of poverty, inequality and jobs. The capitalists are not concerned about poverty and inequality; they are just concerned about the conditions under which they can reproduce capital.

We don't have accurate statistics as far as poverty levels are concerned. Because of changes in statistical methods, the statistics have been messed up, and we don't have reliable estimates. I won't go into the details of the changes in methodology, but what is clear is that there has been relatively jobless growth. Job expansion is much lower than what it was in the eighties. We have increased inequality between urban and rural populations, between the rich and poor, and between the advanced and the more backward states. Poverty has gone down overall, but not at the same pace as in the eighties, and it is still quite high-about a third of the population. This poverty level of course is the bare nutritional minimum, and doesn't account for a whole series of other dimensions which should be taken into account when referring to poverty, such as education, healthcare, housing and sanitation.

Around the world, the reality is that neoliberalism does not bring an expansion of high productivity-and therefore high-wage-jobs. There is a larger problem here. It is now clear that information technology, or what is called the fourth technological revolution, cannot do what the first three technological revolutions could do. With earlier technological revolutions, you had adeepening of capital, but you ultimately had a wideningof capital as well, so that the jobs lost as a result of capital deepening were compensated for by the expansion of capital and the expansion of higher productivity jobs overall.

Today, you don't have that. Even as services become more important, apart from a small layer of services at the top, most service jobs are low-productivity, low-wage jobs. In India you still have 65 percent of the population living in the countryside. Agriculture, as it opens up to the world market, is going to have to face competition from subsidized agriculture in the advanced countries, and this will create huge problems. When you combine the fact that there hasn't been an expansion of jobs, that there is increasing inequality, that agricultural prices for those who have to buy food has risen, then there is no justification for the claim that there is a significant decline of poverty, let alone any of the other factors.

So the 5.7—5.8 percent growth rate has not brought the kinds of benefits that it was expected to, and now you have the liberalizers talking about an 8 percent growth rate, which is almost unattainable and certainly unsustainable over a period of 10 or 20 years. The ecological consequences of this growth pattern will be a disaster. And the neoliberals still cling to this model despite its deeper ecological implications, utterly disregarding the fact that even at its best this is a model that dramatically increases inequality.

This means that neoliberal economics has to be accompanied by neoliberal politics-a politics that justifies these inequalities, which undermines any meaningful notion of deepening democracy. In the 1960s and 1970s it was taken for granted that you had to go beyond just civic liberties. You had to deepen democracy by reducing inequalities of wealth and income. Now the ideology is that of a rising tide lifting all boats. But some boats sink, some may rise a few inches, while others rise by meters.

GL: The boats that rise a few meters: What about them? We hear stories about the expanding middle class in India, which is supposed to be providing a consumer base, which in turn will be the engine of growth.

AV: You are refering to the 150 or 200 million who are misleadingly referred to as an Indian middle class. I say "misleadingly" in the sense that in the US and elsewhere, the middle class is more or less a median category, which serves as a crucial social buffer for those who are rich and powerful against those below. So someone like Clinton can talk about a "middle-class bill of rights," or a "middle-class tax cut."

But in India, you're not talking about a median category, but about the top 10—15 percent. Statistically, there is a problem here, because in many advanced countries you can assess the quantitative size of the middle class through tax records, but in India, where only a small percent of the population pays taxes, you have to make very crude and rough estimates based on expenditure, which can never be very accurate.

Now it is true that this 15 percent have seen a considerable expansion of their wealth and income. This category has been the principal beneficiary of all forms of development. Even in the Nehruvian period,(2) whatever the complaints of the middle classes, they benefited more than any other class in Indian society. But there is a very large layer at the bottom of this middle class, which is not prosperous. There is a deeper insecurity within this middle class because there is no big buffer between it and the pressure from the huge and more impoverished sections below, [an insecurity] that helps sustain the popularity of reactionary, right-wing parties like the BJP [Bharatiya Janata Party].

Recognizing this doesn't mean that we should exaggerate the extent to which the middle class has benefited. There is a good way of judging this. Take for instance, the market for consumer durables. While there is a huge market for consumer durables that reaches beyond the middle class, like watches and bicycles, this is not the case for refrigerators or washing machines or cars. In India today, an optimistic estimate for car production in India is around one million a year. Japan, on the other hand, in recession, produces more than a million cars a month. So we must maintain a sense of proportion: We're talking about a 150-million-strong middle class, but a million cars a year in production. This has indeed grown from the 1980s, when it was about 100,000 cars a year, but the growth hasn't been that dramatic in proportion to the size of this class.

The character of Indian exports-marine products, gems, leather goods, textiles, agricultural products-has remained unchanged, except for one area of course: software production. But even here, India is on the lower end of software production, and with growing competition from the Chinese, the rate of growth even in this sector cannot be sustained for long. The same holds for telemarketing call centers. India has become an important place for call centers, but this will shift if other countries begin to offer lower wage-rates.

The health of any economy, especially of continent-size economies like India's, has to be judged by internal resources -high savings rates, high domestic investment, infrastructure, etc.-supplemented by foreign direct investment (FDI). You cannot see FDI as a magic wand. In fact, India receives less FDI than Thailand and Malaysia, leave alone China.

GL: You said that neoliberal economics has to be sustained by neoliberal politics. Tell us something about the rise of Hindu fundamentalism, both in its domestic setting and in the international context.

AV: The BJP came to national prominence in 1992, with the demolition of the Babri Masjid.3 But it only came to power in 1996, and then only for 13 days. There has been something like an "insurgency of élites," as some have called it, an insecurity that has created a milieu that is very receptive to the BJP's message of belligerent aggressive nationalism. This nationalism is also connected to a certain sense of internationalism-the idea that India must "stand tall and take its place as a world power," and so on. The BJP has been saying this for decades, but it is only recently that it has been able to find an audience for it. The reason for this new receptivity is the decline of the Congress [Party].(4)

The BJP came in with a message of building national strength, and the bourgeoisie, which obviously wants to expand, generally felt more mature and confident enough to open up the markets. But they would have wanted to be more cautious about it. The integration of the Indian economy into the world market is not turning out quite the way the bourgeoisie would have hoped. But they are now willing to settle for it. So for instance, in 1991, a section of the Indian bourgeoisie, the "Bombay club," suggested that we should try to emulate the Korean model of having large national chaebols[state-protected, private conglomerates] and so on, because the bourgeoisie still needs to be supported and protected.

But that has been abandoned now. A large part of the Indian bourgeoisie is now prepared to settle for rentierstatus, and to collaborate with foreign capital. Politically, there is a growing sense among the Indian bourgeoisie that American political and strategic dominance can't be challenged, and although they would like to see it tamed, it is out of their hands. So they are willing to settle for the best they can get, by trying to become more important regionally and internationally through greater collaboration with the US

So politically, the BJP's line of seeking to forge a strong alliance with the US is looked upon favorably by the Indian bourgeoisie. The catch is that the US also needs Pakistan as an ally, which creates a set of particular tensions with India. The general thinking of this particular BJP government is that in the long run, the relationship of the US with Pakistan is an aberration and that we should put a great deal of our strategic eggs into the US basket. They also want to present India as a future counter-weight against the Chinese.

The importance of India to the US is three-fold. First, it is one of 10 countries that are marked for takeover by foreign capital; not necessarily just American capital, but foreign capital. The Indian bourgeoisie thinks that it can find its own place within this, by finding a niche within a rather large world market. Second, the US wants client regimes that will support its policies abroad, especially in the general region of client states, and in this the BJP has gone along with it. Third, the US needs regimes that have domestic stability. This is possibly the one area about which the US might have some misgivings, in terms of the potential for instability under a Hindutva (5) regime. But apart from this, the US looks upon the BJP government quite favorably, as a government that is most committed to a strong alliance with the US and determined to carry on with neoliberal globalization.

GL: You mentioned the Congress Party and its decline as one of the factors that led to the rise of the BJP. The Congress had historically been identified with what is known as the "Nehruvian legacy" of centrist and social-democratic policies. Why did it begin to bury that legacy?

AV: The Congress began to shift to the right in the 1980s, both economically and politically. Historically it had always come to power on a centrist program, reflecting its varied social base, including the lower sections of Indian society. For decades, the leaders of Muslims, tribals and dalits (6) -often known as the "core minorities"-had been content to act as brokers for the Congress Party, delivering votes to the party while extending their own networks of patronage.

Contrary to what many commentators think, the rise of the New Right is not what causes the decline of the old social-democratic left or center, rather it is the other way around, both here and worldwide. This is similar to the rise of Reaganism and Thatcherism in the eighties.

The 1960s and 1970s saw alternatives to the Congress emerging at the state level, thanks to the growing volatility among the poorer sections of society. This instability forced the Congress to look to other sources for its support, but to this day it hasn't figured out either its program or what are its most reliable bases. As it shifted to the right, it sought to consolidate its new mass base among the Indian middle class.

The rise of the BJP is preceded by the decline of the Congress. Since the 1970s, three non-Congress centrist-type parties have come to power, but they were unable to hold onto power for a full term. Interspersed within this period, the Congress did come to power again, but for the first time in its history as a minority government. It is only after this experience of various centrist failures that the BJP is able to come to power in 1996, although it is unable to hold onto power for more than 13 days. Then the BJP finally takes power in 1998 in a coalition government.

As a result of the Congress's decline, two forces benefited. First, there were forces in the north connected to caste politics. Second, the emergence of the right-wing and reactionary elements like the RSS [Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh].(7) The BJP actually moved forward by building the most significant mass movement since independence; a reactionary mass movement (which demolished the Babri Masjid) that is extremely successful. As a result, it has succeeded in shifting the center of gravity of politics to the right.

The Congress is a party today that is bereft of any clear ideas, and is pursuing a softer version of Hindutva. On key questions-foreign policy, the bomb, neoliberalism-it has no clear idea of a different program than that of the BJP. While the BJP's fortunes might go up and down, politics as a whole are being pulled to the right. For the bourgeoisie, it doesn't really matter who's in power, except that the BJP might be somewhat unstable because of its aggressive Hindutva, but overall, it doesn't really matter since their material interests will anyway be served.

GL: Arundhati Roy writes that for the governments of India and Pakistan, Kashmir is not a problem; it is a perennially spectacular solution.(8) What role does Kashmir play in the geopolitics of the subcontinent?

AV: I can understand what Arundhati says, because when you have two religious-extremist forces, Kashmir is a very convenient running sore which perpetuates communal sentiments (9) and nationalist sentiments in both countries.

But the problem for Pakistan is more serious. First, Pakistan's dismemberment in 1971 trashed the two-nation theory.(10) So what should its national identity be based on? Second, Pakistan hasn't had a sustained functioning democracy. The army has played and continues to play a key role in Pakistani society. For the army to justify its crucial role in Pakistani politics, it has to maintain anti-Indian sentiments, and Kashmir is a convenient "solution" in this sense.

This is not necessarily the case in India. In India we cannot see the perpetuation of the Kashmir problem as simply a "convenient solution." Most people in India, except for a small section among the RSS and Hindutvaforces, would be happy if the Kashmir issue were resolved along the existing Line of Control [LOC]. (11)

The continuing dispute with Pakistan is seen by the Indian bourgeoisie as something that does not allow India to be recognized as the regional hegemon in India. They see the relationship between India and Pakistan as deeply irritating, and they too would like to see a solution along the existing LOC. Second, after Pokhran [the site of India's nuclear tests in 1998], this is undoubtedly seen as a tension-filled area. Third, with the rise of religious extremism and fundamentalism, there is the rise of forces that believe that the only solution to the problem is the collapse of Pakistan itself. Their long-term perspective is that Pakistan is a "failed state" that cannot last, and that its collapse will benefit India because, among other things, the US will come to recognize India as the most reliable ally in this part of the world.

Two things make the resolution of the Kashmir issue more complicated. First, it seems that Jammu and Ladakh (12) no longer want to be part of an independent Kashmir. Second, you now have a third player in the game, which is unfortunately not the people of Kashmir, but the United States. The US has begun to think of the kind of outcome it wants in Kashmir that would benefit its wider and longer-term strategic objectives in Central Asia. Since 1998, the issue of Kashmir has become "Americanized," as the US has become the more important player, particularly with the danger of nuclear war between India and Pakistan. And after 2001, the US, for the first time in its history, has a military-political emplacement in Central Asia. So they might push for some kind of Bosnia-type solution. This is not a certainty, but it is clear that the future of Kashmir will be tied up with and not easily separated from the future objectives of the United States.

GL: It seems that in many ways the Indian Left has stumbled on the question of Kashmir, and has been unable to put forward a coherent alternative.

AV: Yes, the weak point of the Indian Left is that the one thing they can be outflanked on is the question of nationalism. Despite their criticism of the mobilization of troops along the India-Pakistan border last year, they have always been scared of being labeled "anti-national." Their desire to speak in terms of "national unity and integrity" has prevented them from respecting Leninist principles of self-determination with regard to Kashmir, the northeast and Sri Lanka as well.(13) So they haven't been able to propose innovative or more democratic solutions.

On the other hand, I would not agree either with those who dismiss nationalism, even progressive nationalism, out of hand. In the long run we want a world free of capitalism. But we have no way of being internationalist today without at the same time being some kind of nationalist. An increasingly globalized capitalism has clearly learned how to use the nation-state; in fact, you wouldn't have neoliberal globalization if it weren't for the manipulation and use of nation-states. Even as we remain socialists and internationalists, we cannot have a one-sided and unbalanced rejection of nationalism. Iraq and Palestine are the two most important political weak points of the US empire, and here the struggle for progressive nationalism is very relevant.

GL: Can you describe the nature of the broader left in India? What is the significance of the World Social Forum (WSF) being held in India for the Indian Left and, more broadly, for the global justice movement?

AV: It seems to me that the decision by the WSF organizers to shift it from Brazil to India has to do with the idea that the WSF, which has had too much of a Latin-American and European face, must shift to another part of the developing world in order to generate a stronger and more global movement. There was some thought about holding it in Africa or some other part of the world, but for various reasons India was chosen. Hopefully, there will be an African Social Forum as well at some point.

At the last WSF, something very important happened: The anti-globalization movement and the movement against US imperialism came together for the first time. This will be reinforced in Mumbai. The United States is now correctly seen as the most important driver of the neoliberal globalization program. The US is also seen as the driving force of the new imperialism. So the coming together of these two strands at the last WSF, and their consolidation this time around is a very important thing.

During the last great movement against imperialism, during the Vietnam War, we didn't see the kind of international coordination that we are seeing now. Back then, we had some degree of continental coordination in Europe, but these were by and large nationally based movements. February 15, 2003 was an international day of action, something we've never seen before, and the next big international day of action will likely be March 20, 2004.

For groups like Jubilee 2000 and others in the global justice movement, this is an excellent opportunity to come together with the antiwar movements and begin serious coordination.

The Left in India has historically been prisoner to the "big development" program. Given their history of alignment with the Soviet model of development, they might have been critical of capitalism, but adopted an ecologically insensitive program of development.

But recently, the parties of the Indian Left have moved away from a degree of hostility toward the different social movements in India and toward a degree of accommodation to them. Some of the biggest social movements in India, for instance the Narmada Bachao Andolan, (14) have not only raised questions about neoliberal globalization but about the whole pattern of economic development. The Left has recognized that younger people today around the world are not drawn toward party formations, but find their energies in a range of activities. So if the Left is to make its voice heard, it has to intervene in these spaces. I was delighted to see at the last WSF that so many of the participants were under 30 years of age. We have to develop new forms of networking and organizing accordingly. The WSF is one very important dimension of this development.

GL: Sections of the Indian Left have attacked the WSF for its ties to NGOs (Non-Governmental Organizations) and for their sources of funding. What do you think about these criticisms?

AV: My opinion is that many of their criticisms about the WSF, about some of the participants, the sources of funding and so on, are quite legitimate and well-taken. Unfortunately, they are being, in my view, sectarian. There is no reason why they cannot participate within the WSF while at the same time maintaining their criticisms of it. They don't recognize that the WSF is a space in which there will necessarily be various tendencies.

The WSF should not simply become a global pep-rally, which is certainly part of its purpose, nor should it be a huge jamboree, where people sell their respective political wares, although this is useful, too. The WSF has to be a space where various activists forge practical links, and learn how to practicallybegin to work together: that is the most important thing that can come out of it. This is, I think, the main reason for holding the WSF in the first place.

GL: What role do parties play in the current formations of the broad left worldwide?

AV: At the WSF, you don't participate as the representative of a party. The WSF is, as I said before, a space that is open to various tendencies. But of course parties remain crucially important today.

Progressive politics can only succeed if we are able to unite the politics of the universal with the politics of the particular. We all have our own particular grievances and particular struggles, but succeeding in those particular struggles is only possible in the long run if they are connected with a politics of the universal. We have to recognize that our particular struggles are connected to a collective struggle against neoliberalism and against imperialism.

Another way of thinking about this is that nation-states still remain the most important political units on the world stage, and therefore national political parties remain crucially important, even though they have to find ways of being internationalist in their outlook.

We have to connect these struggles, and the organizational form that has embodied the connection between the politics of the universal and the particular has always been the party. The party has been therefore the most historically important embodiment of the combination of the universal and the particular.

Notes

1. Capital account convertibility is the ability to convert one currency into another, for example, rupees into dollars. Until now the Indian government has retained controls over its financial markets, contrary to the IMF-inspired trend toward greater capital account liberalization.
2. Jawaharlal Nehru was India's first prime minister following independence from British rule, serving from 1948 to his death in 1964.
3. The BJP, currently the leader of India's ruling coalition, is an electoral party that belongs to a family of Hindu nationalist organizations called the Sangh Parivar. Other groups in the Sangh range from militant defenders of religious orthodoxy to fascist street gangs. Sangh members, including India's current foreign minister, L.K. Advani, led the destruction of the Babri mosque (masjid) in 1992-and sparked riots that killed nearly 3,000 Muslims. The 16th-century mosque supposedly stood on the birthplace of the Hindu god Ram, and the Sangh Parivar has since sought to construct a Hindu temple on the mosque's ruins.
4. The Indian National Congress or Congress Party, founded in 1885, was the leading force in the independence movement. It assumed control of the national government when India achieved independence in 1947, and ruled almost without interruption until 1996.
5. According to the doctrine of Hindutva ("Hindu-ness"), Hinduism is the only authentic expression of Indian nationality.
6. "Dalit" is a collective term for India's oppressed lower castes, including the untouchables.
7. Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) is the National Voluntary Service, one of the main Hindu communalist organizations. See endnote 9 for more on communalism. Several leading BJP members have active ties to the RSS, which has a record of physical attacks on Muslims.
8. Arundhati Roy, War Talk (Boston: South End Press, 2003), p. 35.
9. Communalism is a political trend dating from the late 19th century that takes India's religious groups (or "communities") as the natural components of political life. Communalists thus seek political mobilization along religious lines, with high-caste Hindus and wealthy Muslims as the "natural" leaders-and members of other religious groups as the "natural" antagonists.
10. In 1971, West Pakistan seceded to form the independent nation of Bangladesh. The "two-nations theory" was one of the founding ideologies of the pro-Pakistan segment of the Indian Muslim League under British rule. According to this theory, the only solution to Hindu-Muslim tensions was to create an independent, Muslim nation in the form of Pakistan. Bangladesh's formation in 1971 gave the lie to this theory by showing that Muslims did not form a homogenous community looking for a single Muslim nation-state.
11. The Line of Control was established after the 1965 India-Pakistan war and represents the de facto demarcation of Indian-held and Pakistani-held territory in the region of Jammu and Kashmir. See Dina Roy, Ganesh Lal and David Whitehouse, "India, Pakistan and the question of Kashmir," ISR 24, July/August 2002.
12. The Indian-controlled state of Jammu and Kashmir has three administrative regions. The vale of Kashmir is that it has the largest population and is predominantly Muslim. In Jammu, the majority is Hindu. In Ladakh, most people are Buddhists.
13. Several secessionist insurgencies have raged in the northeast states of Assam, Meghalaya, Nagaland and Mizoram for decades, with entire regions and provinces held under tight military control by the Indian government. In Sri Lanka, the Tamil minority, which has been disenfranchised and discriminated against by the Sinhala-dominated government, has been demanding some form of autonomy, if not independence, since at least the early 1970s.
14. The Save Narmada Movement is a grassroots movement involving peasants, tribals and dalits displaced or soon to be displaced by the construction of a series of dams along the Narmada River. See Arundhati Roy,Power Politics(Boston: South End Press, 2001).

Professor of International Relations and Global Politics, Delhi University

Vanaik is one of the leading analysts on globalisation, democracy and security issues in South Asia, a renowned specialist on nuclear arms, and and a co-founder of the Movement in India for Nuclear Disarmament (MIND), and South Asians Against Nukes. As well as a recognised academic, Vanaik also writes regularly for various national newspapers and was formerly the assistant editor of the Times in India. He is a co-recipient, with Praful Bidwai, of the International Peace Bureau's Sean McBride International Peace Prize for 2000.


--
Palash Biswas
Pl Read:




Weekend Edition
November 26 / 27, 2005

Net Worth of India's Billionaires Soars

See, Neoliberalism Really Works!

By P. SAINATH

FIRST THE good news. Well, good news for someone, anyway. The collective net worth of 311 Indian billionaires is now Rs.3.64 trillion. This is up 71 per cent from last year, when it was a paltry Rs.2.13 trillion. The tribe has also grown. It now includes 133 new entrants who just months ago were merely millionaires. The daily newspaper that tracks this elite club (Business Standard, November 9, 2005) puts it simply: "India's billionaires have never had it so good."

Some hundreds of millions might never have had it so bad either. So just before we pop the corks on those bottles, have a look at the news from the nation's farm households. There are millions of those, not 311. The average monthly per capita expenditure (MPCE) of farm households across India was Rs.503 in 2003. [At the current rate of just under 44 rupees to the US dollar, that's about $11.50. Editors.] That is just about Rs.75 above the rural poverty line. And it is an average across regions and classes and income groups. So even this dismal figure hides huge inequities.

A big chunk of those households are below the poverty line. Millions of them deeply below it. The Rs.503 figure--awful in itself--is derived from an average that clubs States such as Kerala (MPCE Rs.901) and Punjab (Rs.828). And those like Orissa (Rs.342), Jharkhand (Rs.353), Chhattisgarh (Rs.379), and Bihar (Rs.404). Note that in those four regions, even the State-wide average is well below the poverty line. More than a fifth of households in these States and Madhya Pradesh had an MPCE equal to or less than Rs.225.

The numbers are from the National Sample Survey Organization's "Situation Assessment Survey of Farmers." This survey was done in 2003 as part of the NSSO's 59th round. The official press note tells us that "such a survey has been conducted for the first time in the history of the NSSO."

Even if we take the national figure of Rs.503, the picture is quite bad. For one thing, this clubs huge zamindars and tiny landholders together. So the average, again, misleads. For another, over 55 per cent of this is spending on food. Clothing, footwear, fuel, and light take close to 18 per cent.

Health spending is double that on education. The average household spends less than Rs.17 a month per capita on education. It spends over Rs.34 a month on health. Also remember, the Rs.503 figure is for people owning some land, large or small. How bad would the picture be for the millions of landless?

Even for the landed, if such a great share is grabbed by food, clothing, and health, it leaves little for anything else. That is why (also NSSO data) just six per cent of rural homes have telephones. And that is mainly amongst those with an MPCE of over Rs.950, a lot of which are non-farm households. It is also why we need to postpone the joy over the spread of the Net for a bit. PCs with Net connections almost do not exist in rural India. Just about 0.6 per cent of rural households have a computer.

But back to the farm. The MPCE of farm households is less than that of the non-farm homes by close to 10 per cent. The average for all rural households is Rs.554. Which means the non-farm groups are able to spend more. And this is the case with both food and non-food items.

Another vital fact. These numbers are about consumer expenditure. They do not and cannot tell us how much of this spending was based on incurring debt. Yet we do know from even the flawed data that exists that farm debt is on the rise. And quite steeply. The NSSO seems to underestimate private moneylender debt. Yet it shows that nearly half of all farm households are in debt. In 1991, that figure was 26 per cent. (See BusinessLine, August 30, 2005.)

Take Maharashtra. The State ranks third in wealth in the country. But income from agriculture has declined. Bank credit to the farm sector is dismal. Most farmers are forced to turn to private moneylenders. Over 55 per cent of the State's farm households are in debt. That figure would be a lot worse if we looked at, say, Vidharbha. This season has seen a debt-related suicide by a farmer in the region every so many hours. It should also not surprise us that in Andhra Pradesh where farm suicides were at their worst, "four fifths of surveyed farmers were in debt."

The data from the NSSO survey on farm spending once again points to the link between poverty and family size. The average household size for farmers was 5.5 at the all-India level. But in those with an MPCE equal to or less than Rs.225, the number goes up to 6.9. On the other hand, households with an MPCE of more than Rs.950 were much smaller. Their average size was 4.1. Broadly, the better off the household, the fewer its members. In the NSSO survey, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh logged the highest average household size of 6.1. The poor tend to have larger families. That is their insurance against higher mortality. Particularly against infant mortality. The logic of "more hands to work" cannot be wished away.

Limited as the NSSO data are, they still throw up a different picture from the glory days' vision of the private surveys coming out of Delhi. Mostly crawling out of the bottomless data-on-demand pit of the capital's "think tanks." These surveys in turn get the rah rah treatment from a media dying to show how good the "reform years" have been. In one case, a daily crowed that "Bharat-matches-India-in-bang-for-buck." This was so over the top that even the gung-ho authors of the survey the daily was quoting felt compelled to write a piece saying "Don't romanticize the village."

Well, also do not romanticize the growing gap between rich and poor. And do not celebrate gross inequality either.

When many households have an MPCE of less than Rs.225, you really need to think of how people live. On what it is that they live. What can you spend on if the most you can spend is, on average, Rs.8 a day? And if close to 80 per cent of what you spend is on food, clothing and footwear, what else could you possibly buy?

Contrast that with a year in which 133 people joined the billionaires' club. Taking its membership from 178 to 311. (The collective net worth of this Club was computed byBusiness Standard on "the basis of average market prices for promoters' stocks in August 2005.") On their joint net worth of Rs.3.64 trillion you could run the current rural employment program for many years. Or, if we take the yearly returns on that net worth to be around eight per cent, then their joint annual income from it would be over Rs.290 billion. Or nearly Rs.800 million each day. On just that, you could every year run a bigger employment programme than anything the Government is bound to now. It could also make a massive difference to the health, housing, and education budgets.

The point though, is that at the other end of the spectrum, the sector that still employs the largest number of Indians is in deep trouble. Obscene levels of inequality stare this society in the face. And there seems to be little concern over this at the top, though some over there know things are bad. Even Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar says in interviews and press briefings that "the Indian farmer is facing a serious crisis."

It is very hard for those who have been plugging the glorious impact of the reforms to accept this. It undermines their religion. For years now, rural Indians have been viewed as just so many buyers of consumer goods. So we have one interviewer trying repeatedly to get Mr. Pawar to say that things are much better than they are. But the Minister, who took a long time to accept it himself, did not oblige. Mr. Pawar told him the idea that the farmers' living standards have gone down is "100 per cent correct." He also says--surprise, surprise--"the farming community has been ignored in this country. And especially so over the last eight to ten years."

Mr. Pawar also tells his interviewer: "You will be surprised. In the budgetary provision, not more than two per cent money has been allocated for agriculture. [Though that is] where more than 65 per cent of the population works."

That the Government he belongs to tries to apply as a solution that which is the problem is another story. The effects of its approach will make things worse on many fronts in this sector. But maybe we can at least hope for a little less fantasy and a little more focus on the farmer in the media.

P. Sainath is the rural affairs editor of The Hindu (where this piece initially ran) and the author of Everybody Loves a Good Drought. He can be reached at:psainath@vsnl.com.

Today's Stories

November 26 / 27, 2005

Alexander Cockburn
How the Democrats Undercut John Murtha

November 25, 2005

David Price
How US Anthropologists Planned "Race-Specific" Weapons Against the Japanese

Brian McKenna
Will Bush Miss the Next Bhopal?

Jeff Halper
Peretz or Bust?

Ray McGovern
Will the US Seize the Opportunity for Troop Withdrawal?

Leigh Saavedra
Thanksgiving at Camp Casey

Ingmar Lee
How Have the Mighty Fallen?

Website of the Day
Saving Cathedral Grove

 

November 24, 2005

James Petras
How to Think About War and Peace

Bob Shirley
Thanksgiving Torture: What the Puritans Fled

Mike Fox
Torture Survivors Speak for Themselves

Niranjan Ramakrishnan
Adrift? Perhaps. A Draft? Never!

Greg Moses
Thanksgiving Delayed: TX High Court Blesses Inequality

Alexander Cockburn
Turkeys in the Larger Scheme of Things

 

November 23, 2005

Ramzy Baroud
The Great Gaza Border Deal: What Does It Mean?

Mike Whitney
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Stan Cox
Red, White and Blue Dawn: What a Bad Hollywood Film Can Teach Americans About Life Under Occupation

Linda S. Heard
Targeting Al Jazeera

November 22, 2005

Kevin Gray / Mike Hersh
Maxine Waters, the Real Leader of the Anti-War Caucus

Ralph Nader
What Do Dems Stand For?

Michael Donnelly
The "Vetting" of Bernard Kerik

Mike Ferner
The CIA's "Torture Taxi" in the Spotlight

Pierre Tristam
The Justice Deficit

Marshall Auerback
Bush's "Compassionate Conservativism": Neither Compassionate Nor Conservative

Website of the Day
I Don't Like Geldof

 

November 21, 2005

Mike Marqusee
Clinton's Hypocrisies on Iraq

Josh Frank
Democratic Hawks: the Avian Flu of the Antiwar Movement

Mike Whitney
Hugo Chavez vs. the King of Vacations

Norman Solomon
Getting Out of Iraq

Russ Baker
Woodward's Weakness

Robert Jensen
A National Day of Atonement

Paul Craig Roberts
Lies and Official Secrets

 

November 19 / 20, 2005

Fred Gardner
The Raid on MendoHealing

Rep. Cynthia McKinney
The House GOP Has Done a Heinous Thing: Stop Playing Politics; Get the Troops Out Now

Ron Jacobs
A Pathetic Congress: If It Walks and Talks Like a Withdrawal Resolution, Why Won't You Vote For It?

David Vest
The Politics of Surrender: It's as American as Robert E. Lee

J.L. Chestnut, Jr.
Condi Rice's Disdain for the Civil Rights Movement

John R. Bomar
Staying the Course on "Freedom's Frontier": a Vietnam Vet on Iraq

John Ross
The Dragon Flies High, But Not Over Mexico

Phillip Cryan
Colombia: "Political Kidnapping" and Murder in Cauca

Dave Lindorff
RIP In These Times

Dick J. Reavis
The Future of the Daily Press

Jeremy Scahill
Vegetarian Between Meals: This War Can't Be Stopped by a Loyal Opposition

Dan Wright
Cleaning Up Alaska's Scan Bay

John Stanton
Scowcroft Talks Turkey; Edmounds Fights Fascism

St. Clair / Vest / Walker
Playlist: What We're Listening to This Week

Phyllis Pollack
The Stones: Rarities

Dr. Susan Block
Our Night of Weimar Love

Poets Basement
Albert, Engel, Ford, Harley and Louise

 

November 18, 2005

Michael Neumann
The Palestinians and the Party Line

Dave Lindorff
Murtha and the L Word

Michael Donnelly
Black November 15

Mark Chmiel / Andrew Wimmer
Uncrucify Them

Don Monkerud
A Decent Workplace

Tom Kerr
Grant Clemency to Tookie Williams

Trish Schuh
Faking the Case Against Syria

 

November 17, 2005

John Walsh
A Fractured Anti-War Movement

Rep. John Murtha
Iraq Must Be Freed from the US Occupation

Brian J. Foley
We Are All In GITMO Now

CounterPunch News Service
Guardian Apologizes to Chomsky; Publishes Total Retraction of Brockes' Slurs

Dave Lindorff
In Post-Saddam Iraq, There are No Civilians

Mark T. Harris
Coming Out in an Up-and-Coming Sport

Cockburn / St. Clair
From Reporter to Courtier: the Decline of Bob Woodward

 

November 16, 2005

John F. Sugg
Al-Arian Speaks: In His First Interview Since the Trial Began, Al-Arian Talks About What the Jury Didn't Hear

Noam Chomsky
Putting Out the Englightenment

Dave Lindorff
Shake and Bake: Pentagon Admits Using Phosphorous Bombs on Fallujah

Evelyn Pringle
Laurie Mylroie's War

Sam Husseini
Trying to Look a Female Suicide Bomber in the Eye

Pierre Tristam
Toturers' Theater

Greg Bates
Waffling Alito Charms DiFi

Farrah Hassen
Moustapha AkkadDavid Lean of the Middle East Killed in Amman Blast

Bill Christison
Evidence Mounts That Bush Wants New Wars

Website of the Day
Violent Oscillations

 

November 15, 2005

Todd Chretien
My Evening in the No Spin Zone; Or Why Bill O'Reilly Hates San Francisco

Leah Caldwell
Death of the Jailhouse Press

Frederick Hudson
Rosa's Wreath: Miss Parks and Robert Williams

Harry Browne
Bush-Linked Judge Bows Out: Another Mistrial in Irish Ploughshares Case

Jason Leopold
Secret CIA Testimony: Iraq Posed No Threat

Ingmar Lee
Logging Lackies vs. Canada's Most Endangered Species

Diana Barahona
Showdown on the Silver Coast

Tom Andre
New Orleans, Two Months Later

Website of the Weekend
Ernest Crichlow: 1914-2005

 

November 14, 2005

Diana Johnstone
The Origins of the Guardian's Attack on Chomsky

Paul Craig Roberts
Power Over All: Unlimited Detentions and the End of Habeas Corpus

Conn Hallinan
Provoking Syria: Cambodia All Over Again?

Joshua Frank
Off She Goes: Hillary in Israel

Christopher Reed
The Persistence of Racism in Koizumi's Japan

 

November 11 / 13, 2005

Alexander Cockburn
First the Lying, Then the Pardons

Gwyneth Leech
Cross Connections: a Painter Reimagines the Passion of Christ in the Wake of Abu Ghraib

Elmas Mallo
Chillin' in the Blazin' Texas Sun: Inside the Texas Prison System

Michael Neumann
The Rebel King of Bluegrass: Jimmy Martin, an Appreciation

Saul Landau
Leakgate: the Screenplay

Sam Husseini
Bush and Zarqawi Bomb Because We Let Them

Brian Cloughley
Sleaze, Deceit and Torture

Ron Jacobs
Rep. McGovern's Withdrawal Resolution: a Step in the Right Direction?

Lila Rajiva
Dover Bitch: the Curses of Pat Robertson

Michael Donnelly
Hypocrisy Watch

Joe Allen
Murder in El Salvador: Who Killed Gilberto Soto?

Roland Sheppard
Lessons from the Montgomery Bus Boycott

Justin E.H. Smith
Another Monkey Trial?

Ben Tripp
The Cost of War

St. Clair / Vest
Playlists: What We're Listening to This Week

Poets' Basement
Jones, Louise, Ford, Smith, Albert and Engel

Website of the Weekend
Iraq Vets and Against the War Need Your Help!

 

 

November 10, 2005

Peterside, Ogon, Watts and Zalik
Delta Blues Again: Ken Saro-Wiwa, 10 Years Gone

Pat Williams
Will Alito Cost the Republicans the Senate?

Steve Higgs
Bush Crony Targets Indiana's Forests: 400% Hike in Logging

Jimmy Massey
Is Ron Harris Telling the Truth?

Lucson Pierre-Charles
Haiti: Insanity Takes Over

Anthony Newkirk
Syria in the Crosshairs

Lawrence R. Velvel
Why Did Libby Lie?

Website of the Day
Imperial Margarine

November 9, 2005

Gary Leupp
The Niger Deception / Plame Affair: an Incomplete Chronology

Tariq Ali
Blair Defeated on Terror Laws

Chris Floyd
The Philosopher's Stone

Elaine Cassel
The Shocking Trial of an American Citizen: the Case of Ahmed Abu Ali

Joshua Frank
Sen. Max Baucus's NASCAR Pay Day

Alison Weir
Memo to Jon Stewart: Glad You're Against Torture, So Why'd You Give Israel a Pass?

Diana Johnstone
Rage in the Banlieue


November 8, 2005

Paul Craig Roberts
Still No Jobs

Roger Burbach
Bush v. Chavez: the Imperial President Meets the Bolivarian Democrat

Ron Jacobs
An Interview with Behzad Yaghmaian on the Paris Uprising

Ralph Nader
"The Worst Marketed Disease on the Planet"

Jim McGrath
Voter Beware: a Cautionary Tale for Election Day

David Bloom
McCain, Israel and Torture: Setting the Record Straight

Stan Goff
Jimmy Massey, Ron Harris, and Ambush Journalism

 

November 7, 2005

Dick Reavis
The Origins of Mr. Danger

Jason Leopold
Cheney and the Cover Up: the Vice President Lied

Dave Lindorff
What Country was Bush Talking About?

Eli Stephens
A Tale of Two Generals: the Lies of Colin Powell

David Swanson
The Bush-Cheney Ethics Refresher Course: a Syllabus

M. Junaid Alam
An Interview Stan Goff

Matt Reichel
Paris Uprising: a Rebellion in Real Time

Naima Bouteldja
Paris is Burning

Jeff Halper
Israel as an Extension of American Empire

Website of the Day
Dispatches from Paris

 

November 5 / 6, 2005

Alexander Cockburn
Storm Over Brockes' Fakery: Guardian Fabricates Chomsky Quotes

Lawrence R. Velvel
Lying, Law Schools and Executive Power: What Senators Should Ask Alito

Diana Johnstone
Srebrenica: a Response to Certain Criticisms of My Essay

Roosa / Nevins
The Mass Killlings in Indonesia, 40 Years Later

Niranjan Ramakrishnan
Missing the Bus: When Conscience Bows to Calculation

John Ross
The Zapatistas' Otra Campaign for Mexico's Presidential Elections

Mike Whitney
Globalizing Sadism: the United States of Torture

Mark Engler
Will Big Business Turn On Bush?: the Economic Nightmare Unfolds

Juliano Mer-Khamis
They Shoot at Children, Too

Ron Jacobs
When Gen. Westmoreland Visited

Jill S. Farrell
Bird Flu and the Posse Comitatus Act

Missy Comley Beattie
Trent Lott's Untroubled Sleep

Mitchel Cohen
People of the Dome, Revisited

Evelyn J. Pringle
Bush-Cheney and Big Oil's Big Summer

Reza Fiyouzat
Signs of Life or Last Gasp? Structural Problems in the Democratic Party

Charles Sullivan
When Courage Fails: a White Southerner on Rosa Parks

Zachary Richard
Return to Louisiana

Ben Tripp
Beginning of the End? Don't Start Cheering Just Yet

St. Clair / Vest
Playlists: What We're Listening to This Week

 

November 4, 2005

Jeffrey St. Clair
Blood on the Tundra, Betrayal in the Rotunda: Losing ANWR

Dave Lindorff
A Majority Now Favors Impeachment: If He Lied, He Must Be Tried

Phillip Cryan
Crackdown in Colombia

Christopher Brauchli
Katrina and Tax Breaks for the Very Rich

William S. Lind
Exit Strategy: You Can't Stay the Course in a Lost War

Daryl G. Kimball
Of Madmen and Nukes

George Beres
Laurels for Negroponte?

Peter Montague
Why We Can't Prevent Cancer

 

November 3, 2005

James Petras
The Libby Affair and the Internal War

Saul Landau
Torn Families and Shot Down Planes: a Cuba Story

Rep. Cynthia McKinney
An Occurrence at Gretna Bridge

Michael Dickinson
Bang! Bang! You're Deaf! Sonic Weapons Over Palestine

Joshua Frank
Sham Behind Closed Doors

Remi Kanazi
Dancing with Perseverance

Reza Fiyouzat
Taxation or Racketeering?

Website of the Day
CIA Leak Investigation: Bigger Fish, Deeper Water?

 

November 2, 2005

Cockburn / St. Clair
Holy Alito!: Not as Crazy as Scalia, But Just as Bad

Robert Oscar Lopez
Saving Rosa Parks from American Hypocrisy

John Walsh
The Philosophy of Mendacity: From Leo Strauss to Scooter Libby

Brian J. Foley
Why Most Americans Don't Care About Gitmo (and Why They Should)

Ramzy Baroud
Rolling Back Syria

M. Junaid Alam
What Moral Values?

Todd Chretien
Judgment Day for the Governator

Bruce K. Gagnon
The Democrats' Slap Happy Day

Website of the Day
Hands Off Dave!

 

November 1, 2005

Ron Jacobs
An Interview with Kent State's Dave Airhart

Gary Leupp
The Plame Affair Leads to Rome

John Ross
Days of the Dead on the Border

Bill Quigley
Why Are They Making New Orleans a Ghost Town?

Joseph Nevins
From a Boundary of Death to One of Life

Dave Lindorff
Thinking About Impeachment

Linda S. Heard
Bashing Syria: Another Trojan Horse from the UN?

Heather Gray
Thank You, Mrs. Parks

Michael Dickinson
To Di For: Charlie and Camilla Cross the Pond

Jeffrey St. Clair
Kent State: Wise Up and Back Off

 

October 31, 2005

Elaine Cassel
Libby's Lies

Mark Weisbrot
Pop Goes the Bubble: Bernancke and the Fed

Mike Whitney
Carry On, Patrick Fitzgerald

Norman Solomon
After the Libby Indictment, the Press Acquits Itself

Farooq Sulehria
Trading Weapons While Kashmir Burns

Nicole Colson
Scapegoating Immigrants

Madis Senner
Dhafir Sentenced to 22 Years: Another Erosion of Civil Rights

Paul Craig Roberts
Scooter and the Neocons


October 29 / 30, 2005

Cockburn / St. Clair
The Libby Indictment: Gotterdammerung for the Bushies?

Peter Linebaugh
The Wedges of Hephaestus

Tim Wise
Framing the Poor: Katrina, Conservative Myth-Making and the Media

John Chuckman
Bushspeak: Dark and Garbled Words

Steven Higgs
Green Hoosiers: Forging a New Democracy in the Heartland

Brian Cloughley
The Fifth Afghan War

M. Shahid Alam
Israel and the Consequences of Uniqueness

Nikki Robinson
Crack Down at Kent State

Ralph Nader
Let the PIRGs Begin!: Student Activism Thrives

Joe DeRaymond
Requiem for Bethlehem Steel?

Joshua Frank
Karl's Great Escape: Did Rove Rat on Scooter?

Laura Santina
Tongue-Tied on Iraq: Why Aren't the Dems Screaming Bloody Murder?

Fred Gardner
Death of an Organizer

Michael Dickinson
Insult Your Country

Ron Jacobs
Autumn in America

Dr. Susan Block
Fear and Sex: a Halloween Greeting

Vanessa S. Jones
Self-Portrait, 1994. Bronte Beach

Jeffrey St. Clair
Playlist: What I'm Listening to This Week

Poets' Basement
Marbet, Gardner, Ford, Albert, Engel, Krieger & St. Clair

Website of the Weekend
Red State Update

 

October 28, 2005

Jared Bernstein
Inflation Up; Wages Down: Fastest Decline in Wages on Record

Virginia Tilley
Embracing the Anti-Aparthied Movement in Israel/Palestine

Phil Gasper
The Race to Execute Tookie Williams

Jennifer Matsui
It's Mardi Graft Time!

Manual Garcia, Jr.
Is the US Really Against Torture?

Monica Benderman
In the Name of Justice

Jason Leopold
Fitzgerald Focuses on the Forgeries

Dave Lindorff
Suddenly, Bush Endorses Right of Fair Trials


Otober 27, 2005

Saul Landau
The Scandal Isn't the Leak, But the Illegal War

Stuart Hodkinson
Bono and Geldoff: "We Saved Africa" Oh No, They Didn't!

Ingmar Lee
Stop the Troops!: No Glory or Honor in Iraq

Lila Rajiva
License to Bill: Gates Does India

Ilan Pappe
The Last Moment of Hope

Niranjan Ramakrishnan
Waiting for Fitzgerald

Michael Donnelly
Look Who's Talking Now: the GOP on Perjury

Ron Jacobs
Escape the Weight of Your Corporate Logo

Cockburn / St. Clair
White House in Meltdown

 

October 26, 2005

Kathy Kelly
For Whom They Toll

Gary Leupp
Dialectics of the Plame Affair

Mike Marqusee
Empire of Denial

Eric Ruder
War Crimes in Afghanistan

Patrick Cockburn
Iraq: a Constitutionally Divided Nation

Joshua Frank
Fitzgerald v. the Bushies: Hold Your Elation in Check

J.L. Chestnut, Jr.
The Legacy of Rosa Parks

Website of the Day
Decent Work in America: the 2005 Work Environment Index

 

 

October 25, 2005

Paul Craig Roberts
Condi and Syrian Regime Change: Could Somebody Recommend a President?

Ken Sengupta / Patrick Cockburn
Attack on the Palestine Hotel

Conn Hallinan
Sleight of Hand: Iran, India and the US

Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed
Pulling the Court Strings

Jackie Corr
Barbara Bush: Poster Gorgon of the Houston Astros

Robert Day
Talk to Strangers

John Sugg
Judith Miller and Me

 

October 24, 2005

Dave Lindorff
Revoke Judy Miller's Pulitzer

Michael Donnelly
Shades of Iran/contra

Patrick Cockburn
A Nation Stands on Trial

Mike Whitney
Apres Rove

Norman Solomon
Iraq is Not Vietnam, But...

Bill and Kathleen Christison
US Foreign Policy and Palestine

 

October 22 / 23, 2005

Alexander Cockburn
When Divas Collide: Maureen Dowd v. Judy Miller

Billy Sothern
Letter from the Circle Bar, New Orleans

Saul Landau
Bush, an Assessment

Ralph Nader
An Open Letter to Bush on Harriet Miers

Behrooz Ghamari
Whose Justice Does Saddam's Trial Serve?

Brian Cloughley
Bush the Strategist: Pyrrhus Without a Victory?

Diana Barahona
Venezuela's National Workers' Union

Fred Gardner
Dershowitzed!

Lee Sustar
What the War on Terror is Really About

Patrick Cockburn
Murder of Saddam Trial Defense Lawyer

Laura Carlsen
Mexico City Seamstresses Recall 1985 Quake

James Petras
China Bashing and the Loss of US Competitiveness

Joshua Frank
Invading Iran: Who is to Stop Them?

Manuel Garcia, Jr.
Disasters are Us

Michelle Bollinger
When Abortion Was Illegal

Missy Comley Beattie
CSI: Iraq

Kona Lowell
Intelligent Design: Making High School Fun

Ben Tripp
Tanks for the Memories

Jeffrey St. Clair
Playlist: What I'm Listening To This Week

Poets' Basement
Albert and Engel

Website of the Day
Indictment Watch

 

October 21, 2005

Dave Lindorff
The Democrats' Abortion Hypocrisy

Winslow T. Wheeler
Paying for Their Mistakes: Incompetence, Deception and the Defense Budget

Col. Dan Smith
The Destruction of the National Guard

Norman Solomon
Media at Crossroads: 25 Years After Reagan's Triumph

Madis Senner
Abusing Katrina

Michael Donnelly
Richard Pombo: DeLay in Cowboy Boots


October 20, 2005

Dave Lindorff
Impeachment Comes to NYC

Ray McGovern
16 Fatal Words: Cheney's Chickens Come Home to Roost

Jeremy Brecher / 
Brendan Smith

Attack Syria? Invade Iran?: By What Constitutional Right?

Patrick Cockburn
Saddam Refuses to Recognize Court

Kevin Zeese
Was the Iraqi Constitution Vote Fixed?

Ross Eisenbrey
Millions Would Lose Pay and Protections Under Enzi Amendment

Randy Shields
James McMurtry Makes It in Dayton

Justine Davidson
Prosecuting Bush in Canada for Torture: a Small Victory

After Lucas Cranach
Judy and Holofernes

Joe Allen
The Scandalous History of the Red Cross

http://www.counterpunch.org/sainath11262005.html

Economic and Political Weekly August 4, 2007 3213
Perspectives
SARAH  JOSEPH
I
ndians often express pride in the fact
that over half a century after independence, India has remained a stable and
effective democracy, one of the largest in
the world. It has thus confounded the
gloomy predictions which were made by
many western scholars at the time of
independence. Regular, and relatively free
elections, a free press, an independent
judiciary and apolitical army, and respect
for constitutional procedures and laws, are
some of the features of Indian democracy
which are often cited with pride. Moreover, even though analysts have detected
less commitment from the middles classes
than from the poor with respect to voting,
in this respect there has probably been less
popular withdrawal from participation in
democratic processes like elections in India
than in many of the older democracies in
the western world [Yadav 1999, Mair
2006]. Democracy in India has not only
survived but appears to have put down
deep roots.
However, it is paradoxical that along
with pride in Indian democracy a growing
cynicism about politics and politicians is
also evident. Politicians are widely perceived as a self-seeking tribe motivated
by a ruthless drive for power and personal
gain while politics is associated with
dubious deals and corruption. There seems
to be an implicit belief among many people
that a healthy democracy requires politicians who are not professional wheelerdealers but people of good moral character
ready to devote themselves to public
s e r v i c e .   P a r t   o f   t h e   r e s p e c t  wh i c h
Manmohan Singh seems to elicit across
classes and parties stems from his image
as a rational and qualified and honest
leader who has not emerged out of the
rough and tumble of professional politics.
Although there are undoubtedly serious
issues which can be raised regarding
representative democracy in India and the
kind of professional politics which it has
generated, questions could also be raised
regarding some of the political reforms
which are being initiated today in line with
the neoliberal agenda. The impact of
neoliberal
1
 policies on the economy, and
on the model of development being pursued, has been the subject of considerable
discussion in the country in recent years.
However, the significance of the changes
which are being introduced in the state and
governance have not always been fully
appreciated since they are often viewed
merely as representing the necessary response of the state to the challenges of
globalisation. It will be argued below that
the political reforms being undertaken
today have a more radical aspect in that
they represent an attempt to incorporate
market rationality into the structures and
practices of the state. As such, they are
as important a part of the neoliberal agenda
as are the economic changes being initiated.
2
 Moreover, the implications of these
changes for the understanding and practice of liberal democracy in India are also
likely to be profound. Principles which
were central to liberal democracy such as
the distinction between the public and
private spheres, and between the state and
its citizens, are being reinterpreted today
in terms of the political values which
neoliberalism embodies. The significance
of the popular suspicion of politics which
we see around us needs to be understood
in the context of these wider changes.
The first section will briefly discuss
aspects of the reforms of state and
governance which have been initiated
in India in recent years. The second
section will discuss the impact of such
reforms on democratic institutions and
practices.
Neoliberal Political Reforms
The wide influence and legitimacy of
neoliberal theories and its political agenda
today is generally attributed to the growing problems which beset the welfare state
and capitalist economy in the west after
the 1960s. The slowing down of the high
rate of economic growth which had
characterised western economies in the
post-war decades generated rising inflation and unemployment. Coupled with the
expansion of the public sector and increasing public expenditure on social services,
the welfare state seemed to be in crisis by
the 1970s and 1980s. Similar problems
faced the developmental state in India
after the 1960s [Joseph 2001]. As a result,
criticisms of the developmental state and
of modernisation theories also gained
ground at the time. Moreover, social
democratic parties like the British Labour
Party, and the Congress Party in India,
seemed to have little to offer which could
help resolve the crisis. This provided the
ideological space in which neoliberal
theories gained wide legitimacy.
Although dismantling the welfare and
developmental states and minimising state
interference in the market constitutes only
Neoliberal Reforms and
Democracy in India
The debate regarding neoliberal reforms has, in the main, focused
on the changes in economic policy initiated of late. The reforms of
the state, and of governance, which have also been undertaken,
have been viewed as providing the necessary back up for economic
reforms. But, the restructuring of the state has an independent
significance. It represents an attempt to incorporate market
rationality in the organisation and functioning of the state. Further,
the implications of political reforms for democracy in India need to
be explored. Since not only democratic institutions but also the
humanist ideals which had inspired the social democratic state are
now being reinterpreted in line with the neoliberal political
agenda, a critical examination of the process becomes important.3214 Economic and Political Weekly August 4, 2007
one component of the current neoliberal
political agenda, the significance of this
agenda has been wide in that it has also
influenced the nature of the reforms of
state and governance which have been
inaugurated in countries like India. Particular reforms have often been defended
as necessary to avoid certain vulnerabilities to which the social democratic and
developmental states were considered to
be prone. One criticism made of the welfare
state was that it attracted lobbies and special
interests that competed to acquire power
over the state to benefit themselves and
their constituencies, even at the cost of the
public interest. As a result states overextended themselves and were unable to
deliver on their promises. For instance, in
the "overload debate" of the 1970s special
interests were blamed for "overloading" of
the state, leading to excessive and wasteful
expenditure. Democratic states, it was
argued, found it particularly difficult to
resist such pressures. [Held 1989-90, Self
2000]. To guard against the recurrence of
such problems by introducing measures to
reduce the possibility of political pressures
influencing policy-making processes, has
become one objective of the reform agenda.
In their suspicion of lobbies and special
interests, neoliberal theories have gone
against what had become the accepted
view in liberal democratic theory. In the
theories of pluralist democracy associated
with social scientists like Harold Lasswell,
and Robert Dahl, lobbies and organised
interests had been accepted as an inevitable feature of large, modern democracies
and one which could have some positive
effects for democracy. The role of governments, it was held, was to mediate between
multiple demands [Held 1989-90:27, Self
2000:101]. Neoliberal theories however,
have reversed this view since they maintain that lobbies and special interests can
pose a threat to democracy and good
governance. Since lobbies and special
interests are associated with politics, such
theories have generated support for measures which would help distance decisionmaking and governance from politics
[Zakaria 2003:196].
Criticisms similar to those made of the
welfare state were also made by many
economists and political scientists regarding the developmental state in India. They
attributed the inability of the developmental state in India to implement its plans and
commitments, to the influence acquired by
powerful interests and lobbies over the
political parties and the state [Kohli1991,
Jalan 2005]. This led to a distortion of
decisions and made it difficult for the state
to achieve its developmental targets. It also
made it difficult to implement re-distributive policies.
3
 Therefore, it was argued, the
state was unable to achieve its goals of
economic development and social justice.
Among the strategies suggested in the
neoliberal political agenda to avoid the
recurrence of such problems have been
proposals to restructure the administration
to distance decision-making and implementation in a number of areas from
political influences and pressures. By
distancing some functions of government
from the direct control of political leaders
and ensuring political accountability to
elected bodies, it is hoped that there will
be less scope for political pressures to
dilute the rationality and efficiency of
policies and their implementation.
Another vulnerability associated with
the developmental state is corruption. Large
budgets, bloated bureaucracies, elaborate
and time consuming rules of procedure,
were seen as providing opportunities for
individuals to indulge in "rent-seeking"
behaviour [Bagchi 1993]. Anti-corruption
measures were difficult to implement
because an inflated and corrupt bureaucracy had acquired a vested interest in
perpetuating the system. Neoliberal theories have argued that reducing the scale of
government would provide less scope for
corruption and the diversion of public
funds towards private benefit. To replace
bureaucratic decision-making they have
upheld the superior efficiency of competitive markets to generate solutions which
would be more cost effective and efficient,
and would also be better able to harmonise
competing interests.
However, the contemporary neoliberal
political agenda is about more than dismantling big government and freeing the
market from state restrictions. Although
the virtues of the free market have indeed
been extolled by neoliberal thinkers, there
is also recognition that careful monitoring
and regulation of the economy by the state
is needed to facilitate the healthy functioning of markets, prevent market failure and
promote economic growth. Moreover, in
a global economy, states are expected to
play an active role in attracting capital
investment by providing a suitable economic and political environment for capital.
This would require states to undertake new
responsibilities for the provision of infrastructure and to offer concessions and subsidies to create a hospitable environment
for capital investment. Further, it is accepted that markets also need regulation.
Measures to promote competition where
appropriate, as well as to regulate the
functioning of public sector organisations
and private enterprises now form part of
the new responsibilities of the state and
a number of regulatory bodies have been
set up for the purpose. Hence, far from
minimising the state, reforms in different
countries have often had the paradoxical
effect of strengthening states and investing
them with new responsibilities even as
they are divested of some of the welfare
functions they had earlier assumed.
Partners in Governance
In liberal democratic theory the distinctions between state and society, public and
private, are of central importance. In neoliberal theories however, the non-state
sector, civil society, and global and
national corporate interests are considered
to be the natural partners of the state. The
liberal concepts of sovereignty and autonomy are therefore being replaced by
terms like "embedded autonomy". With
reference to the state the focus now is on
networking across the public-private
divide, and on state-society synergy and
complementarity, which are considered
more appropriate terms to describe the
new relationship envisaged between state
and non-state sectors. It is maintained that
in a global economy states need to develop
horizontal linkages with different interests
and with civil society [Petitville 1998].
The impact of such theories can be
discerned even in India. A number of new
practices have been initiated in India which
illustrate the belief in partnership and shared
interests. For instance, it has become a
common practice in recent years for
representatives of corporate organisations,
a n d   s o m e t i m e s   e v e n   i n t e r n a t i o n a l
organisations, to be included in government commissions and task forces from
time to time. The National Knowledge
Commission is a case in point.
4
 In addition, frequent consultations and negotiations take place between government and
organisations representing particular interests such as FICCI, or the CII, chambers
of commerce, and, to a lesser extent, civil
society organisations. Representatives of
business are often included in government
delegations to other countries and political
leaders may help to promote their interests.
A n d   t h e r e   i s   o f   c o u r s e   t h e   W o r l d
Economic Forum at Davos which bringsEconomic and Political Weekly August 4, 2007 3215
t o g e t h e r   g o v e r nme n t s   a n d   b u s i n e s s
leaders [Arora 2001].
Partnership does not only mean the state
promoting the interests of business. Business interests are also expected to shoulder
some responsibility for promoting economic growth and social welfare although
the extent and nature of their contribution
is left to be determined by them. Even as
governments divest themselves of some
social responsibilities, corporate philanthropy is considered to be an important
long term objective for the private sector
today and business organisations often set
up philanthropic trusts to promote a
variety of public causes such as improving
the quality of education, or trying to
expand employment opportunities for the
poor, or supporting the arts. In some cases,
firms may prefer to support causes by
entering into public-private partnerships
with government departments for promoting particular projects.
Whatever may be the economic benefits
of such arrangements, a noteworthy consequence is that the state is no longer considered to be the final articulator and protector of the public interest. That role is now
shared with the non-state sector, with the
views of corporate interests being given particular importance. The views of the marginalised are rarely given equal consideration.
Public-private partnerships, contracting,
and outsourcing, are some of the many
strategies being adopted today to associate
the non-state sector with governance at all
levels. Among the benefits claimed for
such practices is making it possible to
harness the funds and expertise available
in the private sector for governance and
making cost-effective and efficient service
available to consumers. Some outsourcing
had of course always existed but the scale
has now greatly increased and this has
contributed to the "hollowing out" of the
state, a development which has also been
noted in many other countries in recent years.
The kind of functions outsourced could
range from the relatively less important,
such as garbage removal, or recruitment
of lower level staff, to the more specialised.
Whatever may be the benefit to consumers from practices such as outsourcing, or
contracting out, they raise important issues
regarding the financial and political
accountability of service agencies and
departments to the citizens for the terms
of the contracts negotiated, and for the
efficient functioning of contractors. In
theory the agency or department concerned
would be responsible for protecting the
public interest in all such deals, and for
ensuring that contractors perform satisfactorily, but this responsibility may be difficult to enforce in the case of functions
out sour c ed  to pr iva t e  organi s a t ions .
Supervision of contractors and enforcement of penalty clauses place new responsibilities on government departments,
also, possibly new opportunities for
corruption. Further, in the case of outsourcing also, important issues regarding
the financial and political accountability
of the executive to the legislature are raised.
Public-private partnerships also are being
actively promoted today. Such partnerships have been established for a number
of different purposes such as joint forest
management, or watershed development,
or education, or road building. They are
being promoted particularly for infrastructure projects where large investments
are required but where private capital may
hesitate to invest because they have along
gestation period and the returns may be
limited. In addition to tapping private funds
and expertise an additional advantage
claimed for such partnerships is that they
help to distance some governmental functions from bureaucratic regulations and
possible political pressures.
Reorganising on Business Lines
It needs to be noted that although the
concept of state autonomy may have been
modified in neoliberal theories, autonomy
is still considered a desired characteristic
for public institutions by analysts influenced by the new institutional economics,
and the historic institutionalism of political scientists such as Theda Skopcol [Kapur
and Mehta 2005]. Their concern however
is with the internal autonomy of public
institutions. The design of institutions and
their rules, and procedures, and incentive
systems, can be important for determining
the efficiency of institutions they argue.
By instituting a system of positive and
negative incentives members can be encouraged to work efficiently. Further, they
maintain that institutional autonomy will
strengthen the capacity of institutions to
survive and grow by accessing global funds
and forging national and international
partnerships. Public sector institutions
such as economic enterprises, universities,
or research institutes, therefore should be
granted autonomy to enable them to achieve
their full potential in a changed world.
In addition to networking across the
public-private divide attempts have also
been made of late to reorganise government departments on business lines. This
would involve introducing changes to make
it possible to use business norms such as
transparency, profitability, and economy,
to assess bureaucratic performance. The
assumption is that the administrative function is concerned with implementing
policies and objectives determined by the
political leadership. Reorganisation on
business lines will hopefully increase the
efficiency and productivity of the administration without challenging political
control. In a number of cases private
consultants have been hired to advise on
the kind of changes which would be needed
to streamline the government and chart out
the most productive paths for future
development.
In theory, management consultants
should advise on management practices
rather than political decisions but the
dividing line may be very thin between
them in many cases such as when expert
advice is sought on the best direction for
the future development of a government
or a public institution. The McKinsey
Vision 2020 report commissioned by the
A n d h r a   P r a d e s h   g o v e r n m e n t   u n d e r
Chandrababu Naidu became the subject of
considerable political controversy at the
time but hiring consultants has become an
accepted practice now. It is also one of the
conditionalities generally included by
donors and lending agencies before funding a project. Paying consultants may
constitute a not inconsiderable item of
expenditure in projects which these bodies
support [Bopaiah et al 2003].
In addition to management consultants,
consultants are also being hired for advice
on a wide range of decisions which government departments have to make from time
to time. One of the advantages claimed for
hiring consultants is that they can provide
expert and impartial advice on specialised
matters and thus reduce the possibility of
decisions being influenced by political
considerations. But is this assumption
always justified? Experts are notoriously
prone to disagree, it would be virtually
impossible to exclude the possibility of
disagreement on all but the most trivial
matters. In such cases the final decision
would presumably rest with politicians.
Moreover, even if expert advice is based
on impeccable and scientific considerations
it may still become the subject of political
controversy, for instance, if it lends the
weight of expert opinion to support one
among a number of possible options3216 Economic and Political Weekly August 4, 2007
facing a government, such as supporting
one alignment for a road project over
another, or one public transport system
over others. However, politicians often
welcome the practice because it may help
them reach decisions in cases in which
competing interests are involved, and it
may also make it easier to sell controversial decisions to the public. Moreover, it
appears that this procedure can also sometimes be used to accommodate private
interests without attracting public criticism. Since the consultants' reports may
not always be accessible to the public and
only rarely, if ever, does the government
undertake a cost benefit analysis of the
reports submitted, it is difficult to assess
the real value of their input into governance but it is certainly possible to question the claim that using consultants helps
reduce the scope for politics to influence
decision-making. What the practice may
indeed reduce would be democratic inputs
into decision-making.
It would be difficult to make an overall
assessment of the economic benefits and
costs of the restructuring of the state which
is being undertaken in many countries
today, including our own. Here I would
discuss only some implications for democratic government. The fragmentation of
the state which is taking place as a result
of reforms has affected not only the accountability of executive to the legislature
but it has also affected the democratic right
of citizens to express their views and hold
governments accountable. No doubt, in
some of the new institutions being set up,
such as public-private bodies, provisions
to incorporate alternate avenues for participation may be included. In such bodies
the democratic principle of accountability
of the executive to the elected bodies, and
ultimately to the voters, has been reinterpreted to mean accountability to stakeholders and consumers. Providing opportunities for affected people to express their
views is often mandated by the laws which
establish such bodies. But it is, in general,
only a limited and carefully monitored
notion of participation which is recognised
for these groups. Thus there may be provision for hearing their views before major
decisions are taken but no guarantees
regarding the importance which must be
accorded to their views. Apart from consulting stakeholders and the public before
important decisions are taken, provision
for affected people to express their
responses to the functioning of projects as
well as providing a role for local bodies
may also be mandatory now for many
schemes though, here again, the scope and
impact of such participation is likely to
vary from state to state, and from scheme
to scheme. In general, powerful stakeholders may well be able to exert some
influence on decisions but responsiveness
to the protests and opinions of ordinary
members of the affected public may be
limited. Hence the frequent recourse to
violence by protesting groups.
The changes discussed above constitute
only a few of the many far-reaching changes
that have been initiated at different levels
of governance in India in recent years as
part of the neoliberal reform agenda. Since
such changes are more than formal and
may lead to new power alignments, the
process has been a contested one and the
success of the reform process in different
parts of the country is not necessarily
assured. Returning to the past is not an
option today but creative solutions within
the existing possibilities can be explored
and for this a critical examination of the
reform process is important. Perhaps one
of the key areas of political contestation
at this time are the legal and economic
reforms being introduced to open up the
land market to national and global players.
Neoliberalism and Liberal
Democracy
Although the primary objective of
political reforms has been to improve the
efficiency and productivity of governance,
inevitably they have also had an impact on
the liberal democratic state. As was
discussed above, principles such as the
distinction between state and society, public
and private, which were central to liberal
democratic theory, are being reinterpreted
and the need for states to network across
the divide between state and non-state
sectors is emphasised. States are now
expected to share with corporate interests
and civil society the responsibility of
promoting the public interest. Moreover,
the notion of public interest itself may be
reinterpreted in market terms.
Neoliberal theories reject the social
democratic notion of public good and social
justice and the responsibility it placed on
the state to promote interests which
markets might ignore. They also reject the
social democratic view that citizens are
entitled to all the political, social and
economic rights needed to enable them to
live with dignity and respect. As against
this view, neoliberal theories define
citizens as consumers of services which
the state provides, and as active participants in the market, capable of promoting
their own interest. The role of the state
would be to provide the basic services
which could empower them to do this. As
a consequence, in many countries social
rights are being whittled down and market
based solutions to problems such as
healthcare, or education, are replacing
them. Of course, neoliberal theories do
also emphasise the importance of granting
equal rights to all citizens but priority is
given to individual freedoms and civil rights
such as the right to property.
While social democratic theories put the
responsibility for promoting collective
welfare and social justice on the state,
neoliberalism has been accused of seeking
individual based solutions to collective
problems and leaving it to the market to
devise solutions. [Brown 2006:704]. This
approach is reflected in the kind of policies
currently being put forward in countries
like India to deal with problems such as
rural poverty, or environmental degradation. Although the causes of such problems may be political, requiring collective
efforts to solve, the solutions being put
forward tend to focus on the individual.
For instance, promotion of self-help groups
is one policy which is being given considerable importance today as a way of
solving rural poverty. It is believed that if
the poor can be provided access to the
small amounts of capital which could
empower them to become independent and
productive players in the market, this could
help to lift individuals above the poverty
line and thus make a dent on rural poverty.
Another example would be the policies
devised to rehabilitate victims of large
development projects. Although such
projects may destroy the livelihood and
way of life of marginalised communities,
rehabilitation policies tend to emphasise
individual compensation as the solution to
their problems. While the expected benefits of development may be increased
prosperity for the state as a whole, a stake
in that prosperity is rarely guaranteed to
displaced communities.
In neoliberal terms long term and collective problems such as global warming,
or depletion of water resources, would be
treated as externalities and meeting the
costs of such externalities could again be
left to the market. Thus carbon trading
has been put forward as one answer to
the problem of environmental pollution,
individual rain water harvesting as oneEconomic and Political Weekly August 4, 2007 3217
answer to the problem of ground water
depletion.
Within the framework of neoliberal
theories inclusive growth, not redistribution, is the objective and, in his speech
on the occasion of the third anniversary of
the UPA government, the prime minister
argued that this could be achieved by
promoting the empowerment of weaker
sections, ensuring entitlements to employment, and the like, and stepping up public
investment to spread growth. He also
appealed to business to be more socially
responsible and even to accept voluntary
limits on their perquisites. Even the Left
seems unable to put forward alternatives
to this notion of inclusive growth and may
try to achieve social justice and equality by
working with business to promote industrialisation and growth. So widespread has
been the penetration of the neoliberal
theories and agenda into political discourse
and popular beliefs that it is difficult to
conceive of alternatives.
5
 Going back to
the past is clearly not an option today for
any country but it is important to critically
examine current developments to be able
to envisage possible alternatives. There is
need to rethink existing development models
and work towards more creative solutions
which would make not only business but
also the poor partners in the project.
In a vibrant democracy political parties
and elected bodies would be expected to
play a central role in safeguarding the
rights and interests of all members of the
population. But liberal democracy is under
stress today. The concept of competitive
elections as a means of making governments accountable to the electorate is being
challenged by the kind of changes which
are taking place in the party systems of
many countries, and by the changed role
which elections now play in representative
democracies. Elections are now often less
a choice between alternative political
programmes and a means of enforcing
political accountability on the government.
They are increasingly taking on the
character of referenda on personalities and
slogans with professional fund-raisers and
public relations consultants sometimes
playing a greater role than citizens in
selecting the issues used for mobilising
voters. In India, where the attempt may be
to build a strategic alliance of groups which
can help a party to win votes, political
platforms would be chosen with the aim
of winning maximum votes rather than
for ideological considerations. A basic
consensus on development policies is
often masked by mobilisation around
emotive issues.
Procedural Democracy
A procedural model of democracy would
seem to be the appropriate counterpart to
the political reforms which have been
ini t i a t ed unde r   the   inf luenc e  of   the
neoliberal political agenda. According to
political scientists like Robert Dahl, good
procedures rather than direct popular
participation in government, are the most
effective way of promoting democratic
values such as freedom of speech, and
equality, in modern, industrialised, states
[Dahl 1989]. It is maintained that liberal
democracy is committed to providing equal
rights to all citizens and equal opportunities for participation in democratic procedures, not necessarily to ensuring equality
of outcomes. In fact, in terms of market
rationality, outcomes should reflect the
skills and resources which individual actors
are able to deploy and thus inequality is
inevitable, natural. Governments may be
assessed as democratic or otherwise, according to their adherence to democratic procedures such as regular and free elections.
The importance of maintaining democratic procedures cannot be underestimated
but the claim that liberal values can be
effectively promoted through procedures
rather than also in more substantive ways,
is debatable. Relying on procedures to
promote liberal values may not only be
problematic, it could also lead to a reinterpretation of those values. David Harvey
has commented on how freedom has come
to be understood as freedom to participate
in market exchanges in neoliberal theories
[Harvey 2005]. The emancipatory notion
of freedom which was also present in the
liberal tradition has been marginalised in
the process. In fact, defence of humanist
values and democratic norms is to a great
extent now left to social movements and
the more radical civil society groups.
Some of the limits and possibilities of
a procedural approach to democracy can be
illustrated by examining one procedure which
is given central importance in the model,
namely, the holding of regular and free
elections. Its record of holding regular and
free elections is one of the factors often
cited with pride with regard to Indian
democracy. True, conducting elections with
reasonable efficiency and impartiality in
Indian conditions poses a truly stupendous
managerial challenge and the Election Commission has been widely commended for
the way it has done this. Its efforts have
helped to promote the equality and freedom of voters at the time of voting and have
brought legitimacy to the process. But it is
less often noted that this has been achieved
at the cost of rigidly demarcating the period
during which elections rules are enforced,
by elaborating rules designed to exclude
malpractices during that period, and by
using the necessary force to maintain "the
rules of the game". This makes the problem manageable but is no guarantee of the
quality of the democratic process which
may precede, and succeed, elections. Nor
can it ensure accountability of elected governments to the electors. This casts some
doubt on the claims made by supporters
of procedural democracy that procedures
by themselves can embody and promote
democratic values. Ultimately it would have
to be the responsibility of citizens and
elected bodies to promote democratic values.
Emphasis on democratic procedures as
the defining characteristic of the democratic state may turn political attention
away from the more long-term and substantive problems facing a polity. It may
lead to beliefs such as that the seamy
political deals and corruption which we
see around us today are not, in part at least,
a symptom of wider problems afflicting
the polity, but that they constitute the
problem. Such a perspective is reflected
in the frequently expressed view that the
remedy for reducing political corruption
could be stricter enforcement of laws and
more stringent punishments for offences,
greater public vigilance, and the like. But
it is debatable whether such measures alone,
assuming that they could be enforced,
would suffice to reduce corruption given
its complex roots. The neoliberal emphasis
on the importance of procedures and "the
rule of law" may only bring about a change
in the modus operandi of corruption rather
than help to eliminate it.
Perhaps then the remedy for the ills of
professional politics may lie not in trying
to eliminate politics from democratic
government but in strengthening democratic inputs into the political process while
restoring a sense of a collective good and
a shared future. It is unfortunate that politics
is often associated only with dubious
practices because, as a process of discussion, negotiation, accommodation, and
compromise, it forms an indispensable component of democratic decision-making. It
may be a slow and sometimes clumsy
process but it offers the only way in which
different interests and opinions can be3218 Economic and Political Weekly August 4, 2007
peacefully negotiated. It is difficult to
conceive of a democratically constituted
public sphere which excluded political
interventions.
Notes
1 It is not assumed here that neoliberalism
represents a coherent and integrated political
ideology but rather, a loosely connected set of
theories in which certain common themes can
be discerned. Among the well known theorists
who have contributed to the development of
neoliberalism are F A Hayek and Milton
Friedman (See Hayek,  The Constitution of
Liberty, Routledge, 1960, and  The Road to
Serfdom,  Rougledge, London,1976).  One of
the defining characteristics of the neoliberal
political agendas which political theorists have
emphasised, is the view that market rationality
is also the political rationality which should
guide the state and its policies [Brown 2006].
2 This point has also been emphasised by theorists
like Wendy Brown and others [Brown 2006].
3 As Bimal Jalan has written "The peoples interests
tend to be overtaken by the power of special
interests".
5 "Neoliberalism has, in short, become hegemonic
as a mode of discourse. It has pervasive effects
on ways of thought to the point where it has
become incorporated into the common sense
way many of us interpret, live in, and understand
the world" [Harvey 2005:3].
References
Arbour, L (2006): 'Poverty and Human Rights
Violation',  Deccan Herald, December 11.
Arora, Dolly (2001): 'The Privatisation of
Governance' in  Mainstream, March 10,
pp 15-23.
Bagchi, A (1993): 'Rent-Seeking, New Political
Economy,   and Nega t ion of  Pol i t i c s '   in
Economic and Political Weekly, August 23,
pp 1729-36.
Bardhan, Pranab (2001): 'Sharing the Spoils:
Group Equity, Development and Democracy'
in Atul Kohli (ed),  The Success of Indian
Democracy, Cambridge University Press,
Cambridge, pp 226-41.
Bopaiah, C, Harinarayan, C Upadhyaya and
S Joseph (2003): 'Borrowing for Development'
in  Economic and Political Weekly, Vol 38,
No 5, pp 426-29.
B r own ,  W  ( 2 0 0 6 ) :   'Ame r i c a n  Ni g h tma r e ,
Neoliberalism, Neoconservatism, and DeDemocratisation',  Political Theory, Vol 34,
No 6, pp 690-734.
Dahl, R (1989): Democracy and Its Critics, Yale
University Press.
Evans, P (1997): 'Government Action, Social
Capital and Development: Review of the
Evidence on synergy' in Peter Evans (ed),
State-Society Synergy: Government and Social
Capital in Development, Research Series 94,
University of California, Berkeley.
Frankel, F (1978):  India's Political Economy of
Development, Oxford University Press, Delhi.
Hart-Landsberg, Martin (2006): 'Neoliberalism'
in Analytical Monthly Review, Vol 4, No 1,
pp 1-16.
Ha rvey,  David  (2005) :   A Br i e f  Hi s tor y  of
Neoliberalism, OUP, England.
Held, David (1989, 90): Central Perspectives on
the Modern State, Polity in association with
Basil Blackwell.
Jalan, Bimal (2005): The Future of India, Viking,
Penguin, New Delhi.
Joseph, S (2001): 'Democratic Good Governance,
New Agenda for Change' in  Economic and
Political Weekly, Vol 36, No 12, pp 1011-14.
Kapur, D and P Mehta (2005): Public Institutions
in India, OUP, New Delhi.
Kohli, A (1991): Democracy and Discontent, CUP,
Cambridge, UK.
Larner, W (2000): 'Neo-Liberalism: Policy,
Ideology and Governmentality' in Studies in
Political Economy, No 63, pp 5-25.
Mair, Peter (2006): 'Ruling the Void? The
Hollowing of Western Democracy' in  New
Left Review, No 42, pp 25-51.
Petiteville, Franck (1998): 'Three Mythical
Representations of the State in Development
Theory', International Social Science Journal,
Vol 50, Issue 155, pp 115-24.
Self, P (2000): Rolling Back the State, Macmillan,
London.
Yadav, Yogendra (1999): 'Electoral Politics in the Time
of Change: India's Third Electoral System' in
Economic and Political Weekly, August 21-28.
Zakaria, F (2003): The Future of Freedom, Penguin,
Viking.
INDIRA  GANDHI  INSTITUTE OF  DEVELOPMENT  RESEARCH
Film City Road, Goregaon (E), Mumbai-400065
Young Scholars' Programme
Young scholars in the field of Social Sciences, Humanities, Mathematics and Statistics who are interested in Human
Development are invited to participate in a Young Scholars' Programme for capacity development. This programme
is the second batch of the successful and well-received YSP first held in June 2007 and is planned for the end of
September-first week of October period. The Programme is supported by UNDP/ Planning Commission and hopes
to build research capacity on various aspects of Human Development. Those who have finished their master's degree
this year or the preceding three years may apply. Recently appointed college lecturers are also encouraged to apply.
The total intake will be 35-40 students from all over India.
The Programme will consist of lectures, discussion groups and individual research, for which library and other facilities
will be provided by IGIDR. All selected participants will be expected to give a short presentation or write a 2000 word
note on a human development topic of their interest.
Those selected will be given full boarding and lodging on a twin-sharing basis at IGIDR, and a modest stipend for
out-of-pocket expenses. Travel expenses will be reimbursed for an amount up to Three-tier AC travel (including Tatkal
charges where necessary). Accommodation may also be available for those wishing to stay on preceding or succeeding
days in case of travel exigencies.
Selection will be on the basis of CV and a half page note on motivation. These should be sent by email to: ysp@igidr.ac.in
on or before  19th August 2007. Only those selected will be informed along with the firm dates.
EPW

Liberalism in India

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

This article gives an overview of liberalism in India.

Contents

 [hide]

[edit]A history of Liberalism in India

[edit]1757 – 1947: The effect of British liberal ideas

The strengthening of British influence in Bengal with the battle of Plassey in 1757 coincided with significant developments of thought in England (John Locke in the 1680s, Adam Smith with his monumental book in 1776, and Edmund Burke) and in the USA (Thomas Jefferson,John Adams and Alexander Hamilton, among others). The English language came to India in 1603 in Akbar's time but there was then no pressing economic reason for Indian people to learn English. It was only after the consolidation of Bengal by Robert Clive and the extension of the East India Company into the Indian political landscape, that the demand for learning English began to grow. By 1835, Indians were paying serious money to be taught English, as it gave them job openings in the Company. As Thomas Babington Macaulay noted in his famous Minute: "the natives" had become "desirous to be taught English" and were no longer "desirous to be taught Sanscrit or Arabic". Further, those who wished to, seemed to picked up English very well: "it is unusual to find, even in the literary circles of the Continent, any foreigner who can express himself in English with so much facility and correctness as we find in many Hindoos." (see the Minute at [1]).

Those who learnt English quickly became aware of its literature, including the rapid evolution of Western political thought. This greater awareness of the advances in freedom laid the seeds for the demand for self-rule.

While people like Raja Ram Mohan Roy (1772-1833) were beginning to articulate elements of these political arguments, no one was in a position to explore and articulate new insights. However they did catch up with key liberal ideas and began implementing some of these advances thought through their new demands for greater freedom in India. While the West was firmly embedding its new political institutions, or contesting the growing forces of socialism (which had overpowered parts of the feudal and aristocratic West), the Indian intelligentsia was grappling with the challenge of the first major task ahead of it, namely independence.

As well as Raja Ram Mohan Roy, other contributors to political thought on freedom in 19th century India included Dadabhai Naoroji (1825-1917), Mahadeo Govind Ranade (1842-1901), Gopal Krishna Gokhale (1866-1915) and Pherozeshah Mehta (1845-1915). Theory led to an independence movement in India. Gandhi demonstrated through a humane, non-violent, and dignified protest, that all humans were equal and should be treated equally, including their being given the opportunity to govern themselves. This was a major advance in the theory and practice of freedom and can be argued to have had a major effect in ending the age of imperialism and the age of racial discrimination.

Nehru, who was very well-educated and fully aware of the history of liberalism, seems to have had surprisingly little faith in an individual's ability to think and take responsibility for himself or herself. Nehru did not emphasise the importance of each individual undertaking self reflection and choosing among ethical alternatives. Possibly, in his view, making these ethical choices was too difficult for the common man. He definitely believed that these choices were best directed through state level dictates laid down by governing elites. Through planning. In any event, he veered toward collectivist and socialist thinking where decision making power is concentrated in the state. Decentralisation, where power and freedom vests with people at the lowest levels, was anathema to Nehru. He stated in his Autobiography : "socialism is ... for me not merely an economic doctrine which I favour; it is a vital creed which I hold with all my head and heart." Indian industrialists (with their Bombay Plan) also sided with Nehru on a socialist pattern based on the Russian 5-year plan model.

Despite the environment in which socialist thought was flourishing, India was fortunate to enjoy at least a few liberties even before independence. The advances made in political institutions in England as a result of liberalism were imported and embedded into India over the decades by British rulers. Things like the right of assembly and protest under reasonable circumstances, the right to property, and freedom of expression ─ with a relatively free press, became a part and parcel of Indian political landscape before independence.

[edit]Post independence liberalism

The 1949 Indian Constitution gave to Indians some of the liberal rights that the British and Americans had come to expect by then. In addition, India extended franchise to everyone: all adults had the right to vote in the Indian Republic. That was earlier than even mostdeveloped countries had provided to their citizens at that time.

But on most political issues, India adopted Nehru's socialist model, that included a significant dilution in property rights, among others. The government entered businesses as its primary activity, to help it achieve the 'commanding heights of the economy.' Government factories sprung up quickly and began churning out shirts, watches, fridges, scooters, bicycles, milk, bread, and cheese.

While Rajaji and Masani, and economists like B.R. Shenoy advocate the greater freedom, they were unable to over-ride the Indian fascination with socialism.

Chakravarthi Rajagopalachari, the second Governor-General of India, and a Bharat Ratna, was a close colleague of Nehru during the independence movement. But soon after independence he quickly began to see the risks to India of letting Nehru's fervour with socialism go unchallenged. Despite having fought for independence by Nehru's side, and without regard for his own advanced age (Rajaji was 80 by then), Rajaji decided to act to block Nehru's onslaught on freedom. He formed the Freedom (Swatantra) Party, to oppose Nehru's policies.

For the next 14 years till his death in 1972 he waged a battle with Nehru's Congress to advance freedom. But as Nehru was extremely popular at that time, and also had the resources of the government at his command, Rajaji's was inevitably a losing battle. He wrote about his Party in 1960:

"The Swatantra Party stands for the protection of the individual citizen against the increasing trespasses of the State. It is an answer to the challenge of the so-called Socialism of the Indian Congress party. It is founded on the conviction that social justice and welfare can be attained through the fostering of individual interest and individual enterprise in all fields better than through State ownership and Government control. It is based on the truth that bureaucratic management leads to loss of incentive and waste of resources. When the State trespasses beyond what is legitimately within its province, it just hands over the management from those who are interested in frugal and efficient management to bureaucracy which is untrained and uninterested except in its own survival.

"The Swatantra Party is founded on the claim that individual citizens should be free to hold their property and carry on their professions freely and through binding mutual agreements among themselves and that the State should assist and encourage in every possible way the individual in this freedom, but not seek to replace him."

Rajaji's opposition arguably helped India minimize the excesses of socialism. His party held 44 seats in Parliament in the Fourth Lok Sabha(1967-71). Swatantra was also part of the opposition to the Nath Pai Bill that advocated primacy for the Directive Principles of State Policy over Fundamental Rights. There were many other occasions when Swatantra acted as the voice of reason in a very unreasonable time. Making use of the free press and democracy, Swatantra pressed on for freedom, regardless of the difficulties it faced, but ran out of steam in 1973.

Since then, many new thinkers such as S.RajuSharad JoshiBarun MitraParth ShahGurcharan DasSauvik Chakraverti, and many others have emerged on the Indian liberal scene, contributing to the debate on freedom in India, and advancing classical liberalism.

[edit]Liberalism in Indian Politics

The Indian National Congress, the flag-ship of Indian Independence Movement, was founded by liberal nationalist, like Gopal Krishna Gokhale. Almost the entire leadership of the Congress till mid-1920s was liberal in its stance. Sometime in the 1920s, the Congress leadership was taken over by socialists like Jawaharlal Nehru and Subhash Chandra Bose, forcing liberals to move into a separate platform. Gandhi however retained liberal leanings and never supported socialism. He was opposed to government taking over ownership of property. He wanted to bring responsible business (trusteeship) and local self-government.

After Independence, Swatantra Party was founded as India's Liberal Party in 1959. It was founded by Rajaji, but merged with B.K.D. led by Charan Singh. It has been India's only genuinely liberal political group so far, with a large number of seats in Parliament. This effort ended in 1973.

In January 2004 Indian liberals attempted to revive the spirit of the Swatantra Party by forming the Swantantra Bharat Party (SBP). SBP now has one seat in Parliament, namely of its President, Sharad Joshi.

A minor but distinctly liberal effort, the Liberal Party of India (LPI), based on economic and political liberalism, was floated in 12 April 2005 independent to the Swatantra Bharat Party. The need for a separate party arose over a significant difference of opinion regarding the level of transparency needed in a liberal party. However, LPI wound up within a few months given only a few active members.

The Lok Satta Party launched in 2006 claims to be rooted in liberalism, but its strategy and policies are awaited.

The Jago Party launched in 2008 is a serious political party based on principles of liberalism and it openly supports free market economy for India. It contested on 17 seats in Lok Sabha elections in 2009 and got around 0.5% votes.

In the meanwhile, Indians are able to take advantage of economic liberalism now on offer from a number of 'mainstream' parties, which, however, are not grounded in philosophical liberalism.

[edit]Liberalism in Indian Economy

After Independence, India adopted the Socialist model of development. This led to creation of Licence Raj, the elaborate licences, regulations and the accompanying red tape that were required to set up business in India.

The economic liberalisation of 1991, initiated by then Indian prime minister P. V. Narasimha Rao and his finance minister Manmohan Singh in response to a balance-of-payments crisis, did away with the Licence Raj and ended many public monopolies, allowing automatic approval offoreign direct investment in many sectors.

Since 1990, India has emerged as one of the fastest growing economies in the developing world; during this period, the economy has grown constantly with only a few major setbacks. This has been accompanied by increases in life expectancy, literacy rates and food security. However, India had also shown fast growth in 1980's while its rating in the Economic Freedom of Nations (EFN) had actually fallen. Agriculture which still employs 60% people had shown faster growth in the 1980s than the 1990s. In fact, post-liberalization, the productivity growth in agriculture has fallen behind the growth in population.

[edit]List of liberal organisations in India

[edit]Political Parties

This is a list of both past and present political parties with liberal views.

[edit]Other liberal organisations

[edit]Prominent Indian Liberals

Pre-Independence

Swatantra Party

Swatantra Bharat Party

  • Sharad Joshi

Liberal Party of India

Lok Satta Party

Contemporary Indian Liberals

[edit]Documents and Articles

  • 21 Principles of the Swatantra Party. The 21 Principles Word document. From The Swatantra Party – Victory in Defeat. Rajaji Foundation, 2002.
  • Ray T. Smith, The Role of India's "Liberals" In The Nationalist Movement, 1915-1947 Word document 103 KB (from Asian Survey, Vol 8 (7) June 1968, pp.607-24)
  • H.R. Pasricha, The Swatantra Party – Victory in Defeat. Rajaji Foundation, 2002.
  • Minoo Masani, On the Swatantra Party Word document (from 'Freedom and Dissent' published by Democratic Research Service– permission obtained)
  • Rajmohan Gandhi, War Against the status quo (Essay on C. Rajagopalachari and the Swatantra Party).
  • C.R. Narasimhan, Chapter 14: The last years Word document – from "Rajagopalachari. A Biography" by (son of Rajaji). Radiant Publishers, 1993.
  • S.V. Raju (1974) (on the death of the Swatantra Party), The Notional Alternative, Freedom First, Sept. 1974
  • Howard L. Erdman, India's Swatantra Party (from Public Affairs Vol 36, Issue 4, Winter 1963-1964, pp. 394-410)
  • Gurcharan Das
  • Parth Shah
  • Sanjeev Sabhlok, Victory of India Party and the IndiaPolicy effort since April 1998
  • Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan (Lok Satta), Political Parties and Indian Democracy. Delivered as the Narla Memorial Endowment Lecture on December 1, 1998

[edit]See also

[edit]External links


 


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