September 30, 2008

Bailout blow triggers stampede to safety

HONG KONG (Reuters) - Recession fears grew and investors raced for safe havens after U.S. lawmakers' shock rejection of a $700 billion rescue plan for the financial industry, with Asian stocks skidding after Wall Street's biggest fall since the crash of 1987.

Violent market reaction increased pressure on Washington to approve compromise bailout legislation and fueled expectations that the Fed would cut interest rates on or before its next meeting, which is scheduled for October 29.

"The markets are sending a clear message of the need for a U.S. government scheme of administration of its banking system soon -- anything short of this is not an option," said Peter Pontikis, a strategist at Suncorp Medway in Sydney.

"Unwarranted delays will merely prolong the timeframe of an eventual U.S. recovery," he said.

A week that started badly with the rescue of three banks in Europe and the distressed sale of big U.S. lender Wachovia to Citigroup grew worse after the U.S. Congress was unable to agree on a rescue package.

Shares in Asia were down 3.4 percent in the afternoon, with Tokyo falling more than 4 percent. European stock markets were set to open between 2.5 and 4.4 percent lower after dropping 5.2 percent on Monday to a three-and-a-half year closing low.

Russia's stock exchanges suspended trading on Tuesday after the benchmark index lost more than 7 percent on Monday.

Uncertainty about what comes next, and whether the U.S. Congress can agree on legislation to relieve the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression sent investors into gold and U.S. Treasuries. Oil fell on fears of further economic slowdown, and the Japanese yen hit a 4-month high.

Investors worried that a collapse in financial markets would tip the United States economy into a painful recession that drags the rest of the world down with it.

"We do not rule out a U.S. recession being deep and long and having a severe global impact," said Gerard Lyons, chief economist at Standard Chartered in London.

However, Kansas City Federal Reserve Bank President Thomas Hoenig said that despite a sense that "the sky is falling," the U.S. economy is resilient and will emerge stronger from the current credit crisis.

"We need to take a deep breath and think about what is happening," he told a Kansas City Fed economic forum in Gering, Nebraska.

Fed funds futures showed the market saw a 76 percent chance of a 50 basis point rate cut by October 29.

"With the financial storm as strong as ever and investors now looking to scramble and seek shelter, many see the Fed coming in and cutting rates to stimulate some confidence," Martin Batur, deputy head of dealing at IG Markets wrote in a note.

U.S. President George W. Bush was scheduled to make a statement on the rescue package at 1245 GMT on Tuesday after meeting on Monday with economic advisers including Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke to consider the administration's next move.

"I was disappointed in the vote that the United States Congress (had) on the economic rescue plan," Bush told reporters in Washington. "Our strategy is to continue to address this economic situation head-on and we'll be working to develop a strategy that will enable us to continue to move forward."

Both supporters and opponents complained about the way the administration presented the proposal as an urgent demand, accompanied by warnings of potential economic collapse, after years of sky-rocketing Wall Street bonuses, abusive mortgage lending, and regulatory neglect by the administration.

Zardari gets Fatwa for flirting with Palin

THE PRAYER leader of the Lal Masjid in the heart of Islamabad, has issued a fatwa against Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari. The decision has been taken by Maulana Abdul Ghafar for his compliments to US Vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin. The compliments like "You’re gorgeous" and “...I might hug you”, have attracted wide spread criticism from the Islamist clergy.

Maulana Abdul Ghafar declared the act was un-Islamic and unbecoming of a head of state of a Muslim country. According to Maulana, Zardari shamed the entire Pakistani nation by publicly making indecent gestures towards Sarah Palin in Washington last Thursday. In this meeting with Palin, when Zardari was asked to keep shaking hands with Palin for the cameras, he said, "If he’s (the aide) insisting, I might hug you".

After those flirting comments, Zardari attracted the attention of media worldwide. Zardari’s behavior and compliments given to Palin, broke all the protocols that should have been adhered to in such an official meeting. Since then several jokes are doing the rounds on the meeting with in Pakistan and abroad as well. Zardari has been known for his ’Playboy’ image in past as well but this incident has drawn criticism from all directions as this was an official meeting, where he was representing his nation.

Maulana has described Zardari’s conduct as a shame for entire nation. Maulana also said that President Zardari’s indecent gestures, filthy remarks and repeated praise of a non-Muslim lady wearing a short skirt is not only un-Islamic but also unbecoming of a head of state o f a Muslim country. He said that the manner in which Zardari shook hands with Sarah Palin and expressed his deep desire to hug her is intolerable and shameful.

September 27, 2008

Let sanity prevail over Sangh Pariwar!

AT THE outset, every Hindu should condemn the attacks on churches in various parts of India, particularly in Karnataka and Orissa.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) may be the only political party in India, which is sincerely concerned about Hindus, Hindu dharma and injustice meted out to Hindus and their beliefs in the name of secularism. It has every right to do so and for this reason alone, Hindus are indebted to this party. No doubt, at times of crisis only BJP has come to the rescue of Hindus in the highly biased political atmosphere.

However, this will not suffice to win the hearts of millions of Hindus. When the highly biased United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government is losing no opportunity for exposing them , the BJP has never utilised this opportunity to expose them, but chose physical attack on churches. It should realise that Hindus would never appreciate this barbaric dance of violence, but on the other hand it may even boomerang and lose the sympathy of its fold.

Even a devout and highly religious Hindu or a political Hindu ideologue would never appreciate or even justify the attacks on churches and on the other hand they even criticise the BJP, with which they rode to power in Karnataka!

It is true that under UPA’s rule, in the past four and half years, evangelism has increased multifolds, and money and manpower is spent in millions to convert the gullible.

Undoubtedly, the conversions are the forcible ones, as in India baring very few incidents where the individual approaches the church to convert to Christianity; every conversion is otherwise is obviously a forcible one as 90 per cent of the gullible are illiterates.

In Andhra Pradesh, the situation is that the chief minister himself is a Christian and his Brahmin Hindu son-in-law (reported to be forcibly converted to Christianity to be accepted to take hand of his daughter, his lover) is now actively propagating Christianity alongwith his family members. Few more ministers in his cabinet are Christians.

With the moral and political support of the AP government, the missionaries made an attempt to grab one of the seven holy hills of Tirupathi Balaji, for constructing a huge church to attract and divert millions of visiting pilgrims to the newly built church.

Mominul Haq sent to 14 days police custody

MOMINUL HAQ, 32 years old law student in Shillong, has been remanded to 14 days police custody, for sending threatening email to BJP leader L K Advani. Haq has reportedly confessed to sending the threatening email. He was produced before Chief Judicial Magistrate (CJM) in Shillong on Friday.

According to sources, an anti-terror police team is coming to Shillong to interrogate Haq.
Team will try to establish that whether Haq has links to IM or SIMI or not. However, Mother of the accused has told media that her son is innocent and police is harassing him.

The e-mail was sent from a cyber café in the Laban area of Shillong. Email claimed that the sender of the mail, has vowed to kill Advani on his visit to Shillong on
September 29. The email id from which the mail was sent, allegedly belongs to Ali Hussain Badr, field commander of the Indian Mujahideen in the North-East.


Nowadays, grand immersion procession marks our festivals. While seeing one such procession, I felt how helpless our gods are! This was the preparation for the idol immersion in one of the backyard clubs. The God was mounted on a truck amidst floral and light decorations. There was a thick screen of cigarette smoke obscuring the deity’s face. The truck was so thickly crowded that the God shoved with men to stand erect. Sometimes somebody gave a nudge and sometimes someone bumped into him.

The pious custom to lead the God with dhunuchi, which evoked sacred ambience is passé. An indecent cacophonic desi number was screaming aloud. The club owners, heavily drunk, were trying to arrange everything on their wobbling feet. Apart from them, street children, vagabonds and onlookers made for a motley crowd. People from all age groups mostly dressed in tattered clothes made for a good sight. In this kind of street fest, street children put on the garb of self-appointed kings. Scurrying around, their talks acted as fillers in the weighty conversation of the elders. It was really amusing to see a man struggling hard to perform the drink-dance with the group. Old by his grey and white hair, but young by spirit. They were all immersed in a different kind of enjoyment; the excitement of being half conscious and spitting slang at each other.

One can notice that the sprouting of unidentifiable non-existing clubs is a common trend. The club maker’s main purpose is to celebrate each and every festival in the Indian calendar. The reason being very simple and straight - the collection of money. We Indians are rightfully very religious and we fear to deny when the question of God comes. Comments or scoffs are ready for those who don’t give in.

The priest offers his prayers as if hurling mantras at the idol. Except the club leader, who takes the pain of sitting in the puja, others continue their banter or card game. An altogether different fusion is created when the baritone of the priest and the cheap Bollywood song jostle to find space. The urchins, idle walkers and some over-enthusiastic group of women are the audience of this road-side mockery of worship. Some beggars also drop in to make that extra money other than their usual quota.

God remains in this make-shift heaven for a long time even after the worshiping. This is the post-puja gestation period for the God. This is a very viable plea for the club members to refrain from their usual job. During this time, he takes a stock of the surrounding. Most of the evenings the club members are so occupied with their boorish celebrations that the helpless God bears the imposed solitude.

Seeing all these I wonder, is the idol a mere symbol of wonderful craftsmanship? Or the God in the idol is smiling at the demonstration of culture deprivation? Is it that God, for whom homicide or sabotage is nothing, but a proof of being heartily religious? Many such questions storm the mind.

Nobody has seen God, but we hold it as the mightiest force above us. Idols are symbolic, in which we invoke Him in the festivals. And that is the main conviction behind religion. Religion is faith in that ultimate force. It is either hypocrisy or the death of humanity to use God for such indulgence. Gods have become alibi for barbarism. They are easy planks to meet seedy wants.

Government says its a crime to be gay

THE LAW against homosexuals in India states, "Whoever voluntarily has carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal, shall be punished with imprisonment for life, or with imprisonment of either description for a term, which may extend to ten years and shall also be liable to fine."

Homosexuals have always been discriminated against, in our country and have found no political backing whatsoever. No political party has ever come in support of them and it has only been the Indian film industry and some non-government organisations that have been fighting for their rights.

Meanwhile, the government has put an end to the debate of whether or not the century old laws relating to homosexuals should be changed, by categorically denying that such a change is needed. The law as it stands has not served any purpose for and barely have any homosexuals been convicted in the last few years, but they have always been discriminating against the homosexuals and even blackmailed them for their sexual orientation.

What is ironical is that the law against homosexuals in India has been present from the time of the colonial rule when India was under the British rule. The British for that matter themselves realised their folly and changed the law way back in 1967 and even went on to allow gay marriages in Britain from 2005 onwards. The move created a rage of gay marriages in the country with more than five thousand gay couples getting married on the day, when the new law came into effect.

The law in Britain made in the year 1967 goes on to say,

(a) A homosexual act in private shall not be an offence provided that the parties consent thereto and have attained the age of 16 years;

(b) A homosexual act by any person shall not be an offence if he is under the age of 16 years and the other party has attained that age.

But the Indian government has yet restrained from changing the laws though the British woke up to their mistake more than 40 years back. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was once asked by a journalist as to what he thought of the new law in Canada to allow gay marriages, to which the Indian prime minister said, "There would not be much appreciation for a law like that in India."

The Ministry of Health under Ambumani Ramadoss has also come out in support of the gay groups by stating that with the present laws there are more chances of people catching the AIDS virus.

The National AIDS control in a report filed to the government stated that in the case of homosexuals, the chances of AIDS are higher because they are reluctant to accept this is front of society and hence such discussions are always pushed below the carpet. The report also stated that almost 70 per cent of homosexuals know about the dangers of AIDS but yet only 36 per cent use condoms.

On one side, the Indian government is hell bent on reducing the chances of people contracting AIDS by their condom campaign, but on the other side they do not want to change the present laws. When in June this year, there were gay parade in the Indian capital, several anti-gay groups had tried to get that scrapped as well, but the parade went on as planned. The gay community has been begging and protesting against the present laws for they are not only discriminatory but are against the rules of any civilised society. For the timebeing, the gay community will have to keep pushing until their demands are met.

Sex workers plan to build mosque after Fatwa

THE ONGOING tension between the sex workers and the Islamist leaders in Purnia, is taking a serious turn now. A long confrontation has been going on between sex workers and Muslim clergy since last few weeks.

During this stalemate, the Muslim clergy issued a Fatwa against sex workers. The fatwa issued last week banned sex workers’ entry into local mosques. The Fatwa also prohibited them from offering Namaaz on the grounds that they are involved in the flesh trade.

Now the angry sex workers have decided to construct their own mosque as a response to the fatwa issued by Muslim clergy. The sex workers have been facing strong criticism from local Islamist leaders for last many weeks.

The battle of ideologies, has been going on between both the parties over questions like whether sex workers are untouchables or not and whether their profession is anti-Islamic or not? This confrontation has now taken a serious turn and may create law and order problems.

Whole problem started when men from sex worker families went to a local mosque last Friday to offer Namaaz during Ramzan. However, the clerics at the local Madina mosque located at Khuskibagh in Purnia district, strongly objected to their entrance. According to the reports clerics ordered them to leave the place immediately. Clerics pointed that since they were part of the flesh trade so they could not enter the holy place.

The group of men also pleaded clerics to allow them to enter the mosque and offer Namaz. But the clerics remained firm on their decision and did not allow them to offer Namaz.

After few arguments between both the parties, the Clerics went a step further and issued a Fatwa against the sex workers and their families.

Now as a result of this tension, the sex workers have decided to construct their own mosque near the Madina mosque. One of the sex workers has already donated land for the construction. Funds raising exercise has also been started.

Ashique Rehmani, the leader of sex workers while speaking to media said, "It’s a matter of prestige and we will do it come what may”. He also added that Islam does not discriminate between various classes of people. He also told that around 50 of the sex workers have left the job and have joined the mainstream of the society but even then they are facing harsh comments and discriminations in the society.

On the other hand a local Muslim cleric justified the Fatwa on the grounds that the Muslim clergy can not allow sex workers to interfere with Islam and to maintain the sanctity of religion and mosque, banning their entry was really needed.

September 26, 2008

Anti Life---OBAMA

Barack Obama's "Freedom of Choice Act" Would Mean 125K More

This article concerns the so-called Freedom of Choice Act that
presidential candidate Barack Obama said he would make signing
his first action as president:

With so much attention on the economy, one area of federal
legislation that can be overlooked is abortion. An old and
dangerous bill that will increase abortions by an enormous amount
is being resurrected by abortion advocates: the Freedom of Choice
Act (FOCA). H.R. 1964 and S.1173.

FOCA is usually reported as codifying Roe v. Wade, but it is much
more. Since the Webster and Casey decisions in 1989 and 1992, the
Supreme Court has allowed states to limit abortion somewhat by
such things as requiring parental involvement and informed
consent, prohibiting government funding of most abortion, and
more recently outlawing most partial birth abortions.

But FOCA tolerates none of this. Advocates and opponents of FOCA
all agree that the bill would nullify every legal limit on
abortion, state, federal or otherwise.

September 23, 2008


In November 2007, Ratan Naval Tata, Chairman of the Tata group, India’s largest conglomerate, was listed among the 25 most powerful people in business by Fortune magazine. In January 2008, he was awarded the Padma Vibhushan, India’s second highest civilian decoration. In May 2008, Ratan Tata made it to the Time magazine’s 2008 list of the world’s 100 most influential people. Tata was hailed for unveiling his tiny Rs 1 lakh car Nano, which led to him being described as “one of the most powerful personalities ever who stood by his promise”. But now, production of that very Nano has led to the creation of a whole host of issues and stoked the agriculture versus industry debate. No matter how and which way the Singur crisis is resolved, will the handling of issues attached to it have a negative or positive impact on Ratan Tata’s enviable rating? Will it delay the launch of his dream car which has now also become the dream car for the common man? Ratan Tata and the Tata group of companies will actually gain much more than they’ll lose from the Singur stand-off, especially in the long term. And the Nano will be delayed so marginally as a result of the Singur happenings that it won’t really cause anguish to all those many people eagerly awaiting its arrival in the market. But the Nano is only one part of the much bigger canvas spread out by Ratan Tata — a canvas that will continue getting bigger as he keeps up the momentum to take his conglomerate into newer and sometimes unexpected directions and businesses. For example, he surprised many by going into bio-tech and more surprises are in store even for experts watching the markets. And as he enters new areas, his contribution to the growth of high-tech sectors will continue to increase, both in India and abroad.

In India, however, in the wake of Singur will this growth be slower than it could have been on account of land acquisition — a problem that has already cropped up in a couple of States other than West Bengal? To an extent, yes, with political and procedural factors playing a greater though less visible role than local displacement. But here again, Ratan Tata will adopt a tough stance, willing to cut his losses, with pull-outs being a very real option for him, as he has demonstrated already in some projects [and companies] that could not fit into the corporate vision or failed to yield requisite results. In fact, in times to come, rapid growth and those two words — “requisite results” — will be the key areas in Ratan Tata’s strategies both at conceptualisation and at ground level.

Apart from going global faster and bagging more orders from overseas, Ratan Tata will be focusing more on acquiring foreign companies. And yet, despite all the new additions in his achievement portfolio, plus his numerous philanthropic activities, Rata Tata is likely to face increasing criticism in the months ahead on two counts. One, on not being aggressive enough, with people citing the almost meteoric rise of Lakshmi Mittal and his acquisitions as a comparison point. Two, on not devoting enough effort to building a future cadre of leadership. On both these counts, while not all of Ratan Tata’s strategies will click, he will overall certainly strengthen his position as a promoter of new ventures in high-technology businesses and his image of nurturing processes imbued with many qualitative characteristics. He will step up his global thrusts and eye and acquire businesses on a more ambitious scale than before. Nano will be a dream fulfilled, and replaced by more dreams

Law, History & Order

Law, History & Order | Arif Mohammed Khan

Islam offers no scope for mischief: Sir syed

There is a striking similarity between the uprising of 1857 in India and the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in the United States. Both events sparked off a heated public debate on the question of jihad in Islamic law, and the obligation of Muslims to calls to jihad by clerics or private individuals.

After quelling the uprising, the British came down heavily on Muslims, whom they suspected of being the main fomenters of the revolt to fulfil their obligation to jihad. In fact, Lord Mayo mooted the question, “Are Indian Muslims bound by their religion to rebel against the Queen?”

In 1871, Sir William Hunter, who was asked to investigate the causes of widespread disaffection among Muslims, produced a book titled The Indian Musalmans, in which he asserted, “The Musalmans of India are and have been for many years, a chronic danger to the British power in India.”

Sir Syed Ahmad Khan wrote a review of the book and strongly refuted the allusions of Hunter with particular reference to his poor understanding of jihad in Islam. He emphatically asserted that, “As long as the Muslims can affirm their faith in One God and preach it in peace, the religion does not permit them to rise against the rulers irrespective of their faith or race.”

In addition to this review, Sir Syed wrote extensively to elucidate the concept of jihad in Islam. In a commentary to the Quran, Sir Syed wrote that Islam has permitted only two eventualities in which Muslims may resort to armed action. First, if the enemy, motivated by the desire to annihilate the religion, attacks Muslims, then they can take to arms to repulse such attacks. But this measure of self-defence shall be qualified as jihad only if it is certain that the aggression has been committed purely on account of enmity towards Islam and not for any territorial or worldly gains. Any other conflict, be it between two contending Muslim parties or between Muslims and non-Muslims, is strictly a temporal affair and has nothing to do with religion.

The other justification for armed action is when Muslims, on account of their religion, are denied safety and security and freedom of faith. In this context, Sir Syed points out that armed action can be taken only by a free people to help the oppressed, not by the oppressed themselves if they are living as a subject. Their option is either to endure the oppression or migrate to some other land.

Sir Syed describes this as the beautiful way out shown by Islam and asserts that this is the armed action that Islam permits and has named it as jihad. He then asks, can any fair-minded person describe this action to be against the principles of morality or justice?

Further he asserts that Islam admits no scope for mischief, treachery, mutiny or rebellion. In fact, whosoever guarantees peace and security, be he a believer or disbeliever, is entitled to Muslim gratitude and obedience.

Sir Syed describes the laws of war in Islam as just and noble, but criticises Muslim rulers for their barbarism and accuses them of profaning these pure laws. He also accuses the ulema [clergy] of violating the noble spirit of Islam by defending these rulers. Sir Syed held that rulers like Mahmoud Ghaznavi and Aurangzeb who oppressed people, did so in breach of Islam; their accountability is personal and individual and their evil deed must not be attributed to Islam.

Arif Mohammed Khan is a former Union Minister

September 19, 2008

Are terrorists true followers of Islam?

IT STARTED out as a normal evening except that it wasn’t to end like the way it did. The five serial blasts across the capital rocked the hearts of Delhites. The two blasts in Greater Kailash-M block market might not have taken lives, but what those did was to bring terrorism to our doorstep.

Watching the news reports on television, I could feel a sense of impotent anger overtaking me; which I am sure is shared by all the Delhites. What is the government doing? Of what use are meaningless platitudes to the people who lose their loved ones in these acts of terrorism? I saw that the blasts were being described as ’low intensity’. How does one decide that? If the number of people dead are less than 20 or 50 or 100? How does it help a mother who lost her only child if the blasts were of low intensity? Will it make her grief any lesser?

It is extremely unfortunate that in a country of over a billion people we have yet to produce strong leaders who can put a stop to this outrage of public lives in India. Our country is repeatedly bruised while all of us stand by helplessly and watch. I have grown up hearing that India is a very tolerant country. India is very secular. India believes in talking things out. TILL WHEN? The day is not far when each family would have lost at least one member to terrorism.

Is that what we are waiting for? How long is this "soft" approach to continue? Is there anyone with any answers to these questions? Or are we supposed to quietly accept that our children will be bred on a diet of violence, bloodshed and terror?

The television channels were kind enough to show us the email that the culprits behind blasts had sent minutes prior to the bombs went off. The first line read: "In the name of Allah...." I couldn’t bring myself to read anymore. Where in the Holy Quran does Allah sanction murder? No supreme power (be it Allah, be it Ram or be it Sai Baba) has ever sanctioned killing. In a country where so many religions co-exist, we are being forced to accept that some religions are pro-killing, which is a gross insult to the very concept of religion. Terrorism is getting emboldened with each passing day. Fear is a constant companion, no matter where one stays. Families are destroyed, lives brutally extinguished.

Conceptualizing Law and Culture: Rajnikant and the Sign of our Times

What place does a legal article have in a Seminar special issue on film cultures? Implicit in this question is a set of assumptions of what constitutes fields of theory and practice. The aim of this short piece will be to question the classical boundaries drawn by disciplines like law which aim to portray themselves as autonomous bodies of knowledge untouched by developments in areas like cultural studies. It also seeks to question the premise that cultural studies makes when it seeks to study either cultural artifacts or cultural phenomena, and argue for the need for a stronger critical interrogation of legal practices as sites of cultural practice.

While it may have arrived a little late, interdisciplinary methodology has certainly arrived for good as far as legal studies is concerned. Beginning with the sociological school of jurisprudence there has been a concerted interest in the idea of the role that law plays in society, and its relationship to the various contested processes which we call culture. One of the limitations that the law and society school had in conceptualizing this relationship between law and culture was the fact that it saw law and culture as being two autonomous disciplines which were nonetheless linked to each other. Thus we had the popular theory of law being a reflection of the prevailing cultural and moral norms in society, and scholarship in the area attempted to unravel the mysterious processes through which the two were inter connected.
Such an understanding of law and culture however assumed the relative stability of both law and culture. Thus when law and culture were thought of together, they were conceptualized as distinct realms of action which were only marginally related to one another. For example, we would tend to think of watching a film as a cultural act with little or no significant legal implication. We would also assume that assume that a lawsuit challenging certain scenes in a film is largely a legal problem with few cultural implications.
In India for instance, the works of Upendra Baxi and Rajeev Dhawan have emerged from bedrock of the law and society movement. The limitations of their work lies in their reliance upon the high culture of the law, in the form of appellate judgments, the rule of law, alternate legalities etc where they recognize the instrumental relationship that law has with society and social change itself.
Cultural analysis has since then moved beyond its stable accounts and has come to include a wide array of activities and strategies which people deploy in the process of meaning making. Developments in legal studies have also come to recognize that law and the idea of legality may be just one of the various processes through which people make sense of themselves and their role in society. If there is one common concern that clearly articulates the desire for studying law and culture, it is a recognition that the traditional boundaries drawn by disciplines do not necessarily offer the most intelligible accounts of society. What then is the role of an inter disciplinary enquiry? A mere recognition of the importance of inter-disciplinarity by itself does not really say anything interesting. We have to be clear about the role that such an enquiry has.
What does it mean for legal studies to adopt cultural analysis and/or cultural studies? In what way will a cultural study of law enlarge and alter our conception of the way law operates in our identities, interpretations, and imaginings? Is it useful to use the intellectual strategies and methodology of cultural analysis for the analysis of legal phenomena?

Rosemary Coombe says that “an exploration of the nexus of law and culture will not be fruitful unless it can transcend and transform its initial categories. A continuous mutual disruption--the undoing of one term by the other--may be a more productive figuration than the image of relationship or joinder”. It is therefore important to see the goal of this interdisciplinary project as one which attempts to understand law not in relationship to culture, as if they were two discrete realms of action and discourse, but to make sense of law as culture and culture as law, and to begin to think about how to talk about and interpret law in cultural terms. Thus to go back to our previous example, our understandings of the film and the lawsuit are impoverished when we fail to account for the ways in which the film is a product of law and the lawsuit a product of culture, and how the meaning of each is bound up in the other, and in the complex entanglement of law and culture.
What then are some of the ways in which we see the relationship between legality and the idea of culture?

• Constitutive theories of law, for instance have been important in revealing the close relation that law has to power, within the linguistic field in which law functions. That is, law does not merely describe or reflect a set of circumstances in society but through such description actually creates or constitutes that sphere which we call the cultural. A clear instance of this is Sec. 377 of the Indian Penal Code which criminalizes “unnatural sexual offences”. The figure of the homosexual as a deviant of the law therefore gets constituted by the operation of Sec. 377 • If culture can be broadly defined as various practices of signification, then a cultural analysis of law is crucial in helping us understand "the signifying power of law and law's power over signification." It forces us to recognize that legal meaning may be found and invented in the variety of locations and practices that constitute culture. Furthermore these locations and practices may themselves be encapsulated, though always incompletely, in legal forms, regulations, and symbols. (Rosemary Coombe). There may therefore be a rich project in uncovering the cultural and narrative life of the law as it were, in the various day to day situations in which people encounter and deal with notions of law and legality. • Law continues to play a large role in regulating the terms and conditions of cultural production and cultural practices. Cultural artifacts on the other hand have reveled in representing issues of law and legality. While there have been attempts at studying these instances of the relationship between law and legality, they have largely concentrated on the cultural representations as metaphors of legality. It is important however to move beyond the metaphor of legality analysis into understanding how the conditions for the circulation of such cultural practices are themselves instances of legality. A prominent example in this instance is the idea of authorship and originality itself as legally mediated categories.
In the rest of the paper I shall try to provide an account of a recent instance of the interaction between law and film cultures. The incident in question revolves around a claim or an attempt made by Rajnikant to protect a sign that he sues in his film Baba. I use the incident to pose larger questions of what it means to understand the language of legality as it is mediated through processes of cultural consumption. While there is uncertainty about the manner and mode of protection that he sought there was generally some fair amount of fanfare and media publicity that stated that Rajnikant was attempting to copyright an trademark the sign that he uses in the film. This attempt to formally protect the gesture threw a number of debates around what it was that we was attempting to do, questions of authorship claims being made by him around his persona and raises in a significant manner the very question of what it means to be a star, and what it means to protect one’s stardom. (See for instance the debates in the commons-law list at

The right of publicity

Clint Eastwood doesn't want the tabloid s to write about him. Rudolf Valentino's heirs want to control his film biography. The Girl Scouts don't want their image soiled by association with certain activities. George Lucas wants to keep Strategic Defense Initiative fans from calling it "Star Wars." Pepsico doesn't want singers to use the word "Pepsi" in their songs. Guy Lombardo wants an exclusive property right to ads that show big bands playing on New Year's Eve. Uri Geller thinks he should be paid for ads showing psychics bending metal through telekinesis. Paul Prudhomme, that household name, thinks the same about ads featuring corpulent bearded chefs. And scads of copyright holders see purple when their creations are made fun of. Something very dangerous is going on here. --Judge Alex Kozinski, Dissenting judgment in White v. Samsung Elecs. Am., Inc., 989 F.2d 1512, 1512-13 (9th Cir. 1993).

It is important to distinguish and clarify some of the issues with respect to the right to publicity and the manner in which it has been used in popular culture debates. The right to publicity is a common law right which accrues to the individual persona of the celebrity. It does not preclude any claim of protection over the work etc. from copyright or allied laws. It must be stated that the right to publicity has a long history in Hollywood and all kinds of claims have been made by actors/ actresses about their rights. In India Rajnikant’s claim was perhaps the first public claim towards such a right to publicity. In common law, the right to publicity then is a right to certain distinguishing and identifying characteristics, features or behavior of a celebrity. These rights are assignable and tradable. Some notable illustrations include:

Johnny Carson invoked his right of publicity to stop a small-time manufacturer from marketing a line of "Here's Johnny" portable toilets. Carson v. Here's Johnny Portable Toilets, Inc., 698 F.2d 831 (6th Cir. 1983). 2. Martin Luther King’s family may have no legal remedy against the revelation that the slain civil rights leader "engaged in extramarital sexual encounters on the last night of his life." But King's family, having inherited his right of publicity, can stop the marketing of an inexpensive plastic bust. Martin Luther King, Jr., Ctr. for Social Change, Inc. v. American Heritage Prods., Inc., 296 S.E.2d 697 (Ga. 1982)
So on the one hand you have a range of these familiar cultural artifacts, the relics of popular culture and on the other hand these are also the subject of intense dispute about property and ownership claims. Jaines ganes, having a look at one of the classical legal works, Nimmers companion to entertainment law says “ Nimmer cases and materials on copyright law and entertainment law is an alternative history of the film industry. For instance Gaslight is important not only as a canonical film melodrama but as the object of a radio parody. The Maltese falcon is the center of dispute over serial rights; and Warner brothers dark passage which later became the television serial, figures in the definitive case on the ‘indivisibility of copyright’. Reading Nimmer’s cases and materials is an uncanny experience for the historian of American film”.
The greatest achievement of cultural studies has been about the articulation of popular culture as a contested terrain in which different subjects (racial, caste, gender, class, sexuality etc.) struggle, albeit on unequal terms, to make and establish their own meanings and identities. The consumption of cultural commodities (movies, songs, fashions, television programs, etc.) is therefore seen neither as uniformly received nor uncritically accepted and while there may have been "preferred meanings" generated and circulated by the culture industry, these meaning s were often recoded and often subverted in contextual circumstances. What then happens when these various contestations over meaning get encoded as acts of deviance through the operation of some form of legality? How for instance does intellectual property laws and more particularly in this case, the right to publicity function to limit such circulation of meaning? Does it facilitate a process through which the manufacturers of culture retain a stronghold over the possibilities of circulation or does it allow for usages etc which may be more democratically conceptualized?
It is clear that intellectual property laws have the ability to privatize a number of our culture's basic semiotic and symbolic resources and take them out of the public domain. See for instance, San Francisco Arts & Athletics, Inc. v. United States Olympic Comm., 483 U.S. 522 (1987), a US supreme court case which held that the United States Olympic Committee had the right to prohibit a nonprofit gay rights organization from using the word "Olympic" in conjunction with the word gay.
It is important however to note that it is not as if the manufacturers of these artifacts don’t want their products to enter into the realm of popular culture. On the contrary it is crucial that it becomes a part of the daily vocabulary of the pope or the audience. Thus it is not as if Rajnikant does not want his sign to be used by his “fans” or audience but by obtaining or claiming rights against the sign, he has the absolute right to determine the ways in which this sign may be used or control the ways in which it may be misused. In the present context, the immediate motivation for Rajni may be varied. From an attempt to control a particular image as a move before his entry into politics or even the emergence of his self awareness as being a global product, his claim however gets mediated through the use of the language of intellectual property. Inherent then in the right to publicity protection, is this rather quaint notion of the pristine image that is sought to be protected.
The point is not to deny that Rajnikant has a signature style or as Ashish Rajadhyaksha says “This style, as you know, involves an entire distinct ensemble, including a particular style of camerawork, editing, sound, and even special effects, that is clearly inscribed intothe very textual fabric of the film, appears in film after film” The style also emerges when a number of people emulate this style, either in reverence or in jest. The style also emerges when it is used by Rajni clones, mimics or incorporated into the very textual fabric of other films.
What then is the precondition to the stars claiming an exclusive right to their image, a right which is articulated through a language of exceptions. Richard Dyer has written in some length about the use and appropriation of the image of Judy garland by urban gay men as a powerful means of speaking to each other about themselves. Or in the same vein the use of James Dean by contemporary lesbians. So what happens when these stars or their estates do not agree with particular appropriations or uses? In an interesting case, a small group brought out a card bearing a picture of John Wayne, wearing cowboy hat and bright red lipstick, with a caption, "It's such a bitch being butch." Wayne's children, among others, objected to the card not only on the ground that its sellers were making money from The Duke's image
money that should go to them but also that the card was "tasteless" and demeaned their father's (hard-earned) conservative macho image.
As Michael Madow notes “Publicity rights are about meaning as well as money. The question "Who owns Madonna?" is not just a question about who gets to capture the immense economic values that attach to her persona. The question is also, even chiefly, about who gets to decide what "Madonna" will mean in our culture: what meaning(s) her image will be used to generate and circulate, and what meaning(s) she will have for us. By centralizing this meaning-making power in the celebrity herself or her assignees, the right of publicity facilitates top-down management of popular culture and constricts the space available for alternative and oppositional cultural practice. This is perhaps not reason enough to reject the right of publicity tout court. But it does place a heavy burden of justification on the proponents of the right”.
The emergence of the right to publicity as a distinct right within the larger genus of intellectual property rights has a relatively recent history. But this should be distinguished from the fact that the right of publicity is a new right for a new “wrong”. Large-scale commercial exploitation of famous persons goes back at least to the eighteenth century. It continued throughout the nineteenth century as well, without it having to be a problem to be regulated by law. If at all the practice seems to have been supported by a widely shared conception of famous persons as a kind of communal property, freely available for commercial as well as cultural exploitation.
For instance after Benjamin Franklin's arrival as ambassador to France, Franklin's likeness began to appear "on medallions, snuffboxes, rings, clocks, vases, handkerchiefs, and pocket knives." During Sarah Bernhardt's 1880 American tour, manufacturers and merchants "cashed in with Sarah Bernhardt perfume, candy, cigars, and eyeglasses." Two years later, when Oscar Wilde visited the United States on a much-publicized and controversial lecture tour, advertisers put his image on trade cards for such products as Marie Fontaine's Moth and Freckle Cure. So when does the change start occurring:
The first change occurs between the end of the Civil War and 1900, total expenditures on advertising soared, multiplying tenfold and transforming the American landscape in the process. In urban centers, "every available building and public conveyance was plastered with some sort of commercial message," while "enterprising advertisers easily convinced rural inhabitants to have the same thing done to their roadside farm buildings." 2. Secondly a shift in advertising content. Previously, advertising had mostly been word-based, usually presenting consumers with a "reason why" they should select the particular product. n140 In the late nineteenth century, however, the perfection of chromolithography n141 made possible a new kind of visual (i.e., image-based) advertising. 3. The increase in daily newspaper circulation from 2.6 million in 1870 to 8.4 million in 1890. 4. And the emergence of the film industry and the star system ( well documented) which begins to cast the right as a natural right for a celebrity, know defined as a person known for his well known ness .

The question of what a star is has been answered in some length in film theory but what happens when the star as also emerges as an encoded figure produced by the operation of certain legal mechanisms? How does film theory account for this new domain that allows for certain characteristics of stardom or celebrity hood emerge? How for instance do you deal with a star who uses the legal value that his celebrity status has to prohibit certain forms of appropriation? For instance in Woody Allen v. National Video, Inc., 610 F. Supp. 612 (S.D.N.Y. 1985)., Allen claimed that a video store had used his likeness without his permission. In deciding for Allen, the court essentially deemed that another individual had violated a celebrity's rights simply because he physically resembled the celebrity and appeared in an advertisement.

Madona states that “A celebrity, does not make her public image, her meaning for others, in anything like the way a carpenter makes a chair from a block of wood. She is not the sole and sovereign "author" of what she means for others. Contingency cannot be entirely erased. The creative (and autonomous) role of the media and the audience in the meaning-making process cannot be excised. To be sure, the precise distribution of semiotic power will vary from case to case, as will the part played by luck and politics. Sometimes, the celebrity herself or persons in her pay seem to perform the lion's share of the meaning-making work; at other times, the work is left to experts in the celebrity industry, for whom the celebrity is little more than "raw material" to be "mined and worked up into" a saleable commodity. Sometimes, the meaning the celebrity (or her sponsors) initially selects and circulates largely resists displacement; at other times, this "preferred meaning" is inflected, subverted, or inverted, either in the culture at large or in a particular subculture, as the celebrity's fans weave their own narratives and create their own fantasies about her. But despite these variations, a celebrity's public image is always the product of a complex social, if not fully democratic, process in which the "labor" (time, money, effort) of the celebrity herself (and of the celebrity industry, too) is but one ingredient, and not always the main one”
If all celebrities have a natural right to their persona, then what happens to Madonna. John Fiske states that Madonna, whose entire persona, is an ironic reworking of the Hollywood myth of "the blonde." How much does she owe to Marlene Dietrich, Marilyn Monroe? To the directors (Hawks, Huston, Mankiewicz, Wilder, etc.) who made the films in which Monroe appeared? To Andy Warhol and the Kennedy brothers, who helped elevate her to icon status? Or for that matter every one of Subhash gahi’s leading actors have in some ways been clones of Dev Anand.
These are just the tentative beginnings towards a critical move that seeks to interrogate culture legally. As a domain of cultural politics, intellectual property serves as a fertile ground to explore the prospects for an interdisciplinary practice that draws from ethnography, cultural studies, as well as law and society scholarship. The obvious failure of the traditional positivist, formalist and even the classical critical legal studies mode opens up opportunities to explore law as a more diffused force shaping social consciousness and behavior.


What are the key features of Hindutva in the US?

Hindutva outifts are masters in creating different institutional forms that settle into the crevices of systems. In the last three years, the Hindutva lobby has decided to take on the US education system. Under multicultural policies, American children are exposed to world history by the 6th grade. There was a huge battle in California last year when institutions like Hindu Education Fund, Hindu American Foundation and Vedic Studies Foundation got into the curriculum review process to present mythology as history. It took action from a range of academics to bring that to a stop. The next set of textbook reviews come up next year in conservative states like Texas. Unlike in India, three or four big US states decide the curriculum for the entire country as other states adopt their textbooks. We’ll have a big battle on our hands.

Over the last two years, Hindutva organisations have modelled themselves on the Zionist lobby. The alliance between the Hindutva and the Zionist lobbies is building up at several levels. Hindutva has people working in Washington on the Beltway to try and influence policies. That infrastructure mirrors the Zionist infrastructure. They are desperately trying to penetrate universities like the Zionists’ did. They are trying to set up chaired professorships for which they are paying the money so they have a say in who gets it. They were also trying to go through [Sri Sri] Ravi Shankar. There was an attempt to use Swraj Paul’s company, Caparo, to set up chaired professorships.

How did they use Sri Sri Ravi Shankar?

Just walking down the beach in Nagapattinam will tell you the story. Ravi Shankar, Mata Amritanandamai and the VHP are deeply implicated with each other in rehabilitation efforts there. Ravi Shankar came to the Pioneer Valley where there are five colleges of repute: the University of Massachusetts, Smith College, Holyoke College, Hampshire College and Amherst College. Four of them are really top-rank liberal arts institutions. One is a toprank public institution. He [Ravi Shankar] was setting up a meeting with the presidents of those universities to start a centre. But a group of people from University of Massachusetts started a campaign and put and end to that. One of the campaigners was harassed by calls at her home from obviously VHP folks.

One of the big VHP projects is to bring all temples together. In India that’s an impossible project because there are all sorts of temples and if someone comes and tells them to join a particular temple they will just slap him and send him home. In the US that effort has been on for two years. The third US National Temple Conference has just been held. I’ve been following one of their activists for the last 12 years who is specially deputed for this task. I wouldn’t be surprised if there will be such consolidation.

Who makes up the Hindutva lobby? What motivates them?

If we stand on the corner of Jackson’s Heights in New York, probably the largest Indian market in the US, and ask the first 10 Indians who pass by, maybe six or seven would be pretty sympathetic towards and support Hindutva. The post-1960s wave of migration from India to the US was in large part upper and middle-class, urban professionals. They are the base of the Hindutva movement. Doctors, engineers, professors are so positioned by the American economy that their work disperses them. From the 1960s to the 1980s you tend to see the consolidation of Hindus in the US. In the 1980s the trading classes started migrating. At this time, Hindutva also began to grow. That group started to set up institutions and the older professionals started plugging into them. A significant number are ideologues with institutional connections in India.

But I must say it gets a very interesting set of inflections in the US. Even a suburban Hindu family that is not seriously into Hindutva finds the bal vihars the only way out. There’s a Hindu Students’ Council (HSC) which runs cabs. I know reasonable middle-of-theroad Hindu families that send their children to an HSC camp. Not because they are dramatically Hindutva but because they are in a moment of crisis, they have no way to control their culture, and they feel their own identity is getting frail at the edges, especially the second generation. At that moment they go to the packaged form. As Romila Thapar says, this is syndicated Hinduism.

September 13, 2008

Delhi Devasted

On Sept 13 India witnessed one of the another audacious terrorist attack. They want paralyse,cripple and freze India politicaly,economically and socially and leave it totally devastated.

In the current context, India should follow a carrot and stick policy.We have every right to go into the hot pursuit of these terrorists- if the US can go into Afganisthan, What stops us going across the POK ? But a final decision has to be taken by the government.

It is really a serious offence not for the first time , many such attemts have been taken place.It has dashed the rosy optimism ushering in the millenium. It has wittnessed unprecedented conflict and violence. What is required is a hot pursuit of potential terrorist in our midst. In the present context,external vigilence is indeed a price of liberty.

Military,itself has become a political intrusion. It a battle between barbaric and civilised society. The govt has to decide a long-term policy as it is a long term problem.Let us stop fighting on ideological issues.

"If any nation sponsors and harbours terrorists and killers of innocent people , they have become outlaws and terrorists themselves.

SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 13 was not much different for the people, who were out to spend another evening with their families or were carrying on their daily business. Suddenly, deafening blasts, at various places, in New Delhi, changed it all. Panic, pain, blood, gore and death were evident all around.

Fundamentalists are the people who arouse passions in the name of religion for personal an political gains.Like politicians, the fundamentalists also possess insatiable hunger to be in the limelight . A close nexus co-exists between politicians and fundamentalists. Terrorism is a product of sick minds. It is a pity that the politicians are fighting on small issues leaving bigger and urgent tasks such as providing basic necessities of life to one and all.

Lastly, India must win a decisive victory against terrorism.

Delhi under attack

THE HUNT for those miscreants whose planned attacks that rocked Bangalore, Ahmedabad and Jaipur is till on. But showing a thumb to the Indian security system, the Indian Mujaheedin members boldly claimed their responsibility after successfully conducting five blasts in different places of Delhi on Saturday (September 13) evening.

The first explosion took place in Karol Bagh area’s Gaffar Market’s MCD market at 6:10 p.m.; the second blast was reported in the Central Park of Connaught Place near Pallika Bazaar. The third one occurred at Barakhamba Road and then twin blasts hit Greater Kailash’s M-Block market. Later, four live bombs found near the India Gate, Central Park, Regal Cinema and Parliament Street were defused by experts. Today’s terrorist attack claimed the lives of 30 people and at least 90 people received fatal injuries. All the injured were rushed to Ram Manohar Lohia hospital, Lady Hardinge and Gangaram hospitals.

A red alert has been sounded throughout Delhi and the NCR region. Punjab and Haryana were also put under red alert. Just five minutes before the blasts took place, the Indian Mujaheddin had sent a warning e-mail to all Indian TV channels informing the same. The e-mail id is – ’’. The IP address is - and the address of the sender is - 201-202, Eric Towers, Kamran India Pvt. Ltd., 16th Road, Chembur, Maharashtra. The first blast in Karol Bagh took place in a CNG autorickshaw and was followed by a blast in the cylinder kept on a scooter right behind it. Eyewitnesses reported that the impact of the blast was so heavy that the autorickshaw was tossed up at least 12 feet in the air. Only in Karol Bagh area, nearly 30 people received fatal injuries. All of them were rushed to the nearby nursing homes and Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital. Terrorists chose this spot as the MCD market area remained congested throughout the week. Their aim have been fulfilled as it is Saturday, a weekend.

The second blast went off in Cannaught Place, located at the heart of Delhi. The explosion took place at the parking stand near the Gopaldas Bhawan. Here the bomb was hidden in a dust-bin. Twenty people received severe injuries, who were also rushed to the hospital. The next blast occurred near the Metro station of the Barakhamba road. After that, twin blasts took place within 5 minutes at the M-Block market of the Greater Kailash-1. All the shopkeepers throughout the Capital downed their shutters after this incident. One bomb is believed to have been hidden in dustbin and the other in a scooter.

The concerned officials of the Bomb Disposal Squads and forensic teams have already rushed to all the affected sites. The Delhi Police has cordoned off the entire affected site.

The traffic has received a jolt throughout the city. Manmohan Singh, the prime minister of India condemned this heinous terrorist act and promised the nation that no offenders would be spared at any cost. Sonia Gandhi, the UPA chairperson also expressed deep grief over such incident. The prime minister also urged the Delhities to remain tranquil and not to be panic. Sheila Dixit, the chief minister of Delhi also expressed grief and ordered the administration to take stern action against the offenders as well as their supporters. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the main opposition of the ruling government accused the ruling government of inefficiency.The govt. has announced that Rs. 5 lakhs will be given to the next kin of the deceased.

September 12, 2008

UNICEF expresses concern over Bihar floods

THE UNITED Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has expressed grave concern over the worsening humanitarian situation in Bihar, where more than three million people have been uprooted and at least 60 got killed in the worst flooding to hit north-east India in 50 years.

UNICEF is continuing its relief operation amid what it describes as a “grim humanitarian situation” with tens of thousands of people, including many children, still stranded in remote areas.

Many of them are living in the open, staying on highlands along river tributaries or on the side of the road, and many have moved more than once to escape rising flood waters.

“The displacement of people has been massive as people continue to flee or are evacuated from marooned areas. Many have settled in relief camps, but some of these have also been flooded”.
The relief and rehabilitation operation in Bihar could be needed for several months, according to UNICEF aid workers on the ground in the flood-afflicted area.

The agency is concentrating their efforts on delivering life-saving supplies such as clean water, medicines and shelter equipment, much of which was already stored in the region before the floods struck Bihar.

“Last year, flooding had affected other areas in Bihar and since then UNICEF had stockpiled emergency material there,” the agency’s spokesperson Veronique Taveau told reporters in Geneva.

“Therefore, it was able to immediately help affected people with plastic sheets, hygiene kits and other aid,” she added.

Should India support gay rights?

INDIA IS the pride of the world for being able to sustain a democracy in the part of the world that has seen military coups and dictatorships. On the other hand, India can teach to the western world what the meaning of democracy and freedom is. India and the rest of the world except for Europe and North America (including America) are beacons of freedom and democracy since there is a belief in the world (except for Europe and North America) that democracy and freedom is not voting every four years, or tolerating every immorality that exists. India can teach the people of Europe and North America that freedom and democracy implies responsibility.
India should not follow the example of the western immoral society and allow this foolishness called "gay rights". I say this from my experience of living in America, (and being a US citizen) I am tired of the excess tolerance for "gay rights" in the name of freedom and democracy. The city of Miami Florida has billboards proclaiming the "need to go against homophobia" while the US mainstream press has accused Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Buddhists and even Communists (of the Asian variety) of being "intolerant, racist, biased and homophobic (the insult used by the so called gay and lesbian community against those who disagree with them).

The western world has destroyed what is called- the family. The laws that govern nature have always stated that a family should be a man, a woman, and a child. There is no space for man and man as well as woman and woman, which are aberrations. The so called "gay" and "lesbian" movement have forced their agenda on all spheres of western life, including the fact that professionals in the realms of law, healthcare and even culture have to pay lip service to these sexual deviations or face being sanctioned or marginalised by the powers that be. Vermont and Hawaii have legalised these aberrations such as "gay" and "lesbian" marriage. The American establishment gave publicity to a "marriage" (in my opinion an immoral aberration) between the comedian Ellen De Generes and her so called friend Portia La Rosa. The establishment also gave publicity to the immorality of Madonna, Britney Spears, and Christina Aguilera. The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) prohibits any suggestions that are constituted as "homophobic", which could mean defending the natural law of the family.

It is this aberration, when the border between freedom and responsibility crosses over to immorality of all kinds. It was these deviations including crimes and lack of respect that contributed to the fall of the Roman Republic around 30 BC, the fall of the Roman Empire in 476 AD and the fall of the various Greek Republic around the same era of 28 BC. I applaud the efforts of the African Anglicans who tell the new western imperialists in their church about the sins of their way.

I may not agree with Robert Mugabe (President of Zimbabwe) in many issues, but he is right when he stated that- "Freedom and democracy is incompatible with sexual deviations". (I often wonder if the western powers are trying to remove him because of these words). I also admire the People’s Republic of China, Iran and India for being beacons of morality, freedom, and responsibility when it comes to adherence to the laws governing nature (a man, a woman and a child).

India and the majority of the world has earned the right to become beacons of freedom. India should not copy the sexual deviations of western imperialism. India should be India so that it could develop while the western world (if it abandons the tenets of the laws of nature) can continue their gradual decline and fall.

Ansals surrender, sent to 14-day judicial custody

REAL ESTATE tycoons Gopal and Sushil Ansal, on Wednesday, surrendered before the Patiala House Court after Supreme Court cancelled their bail, stating that their role in destroying court records in the Uphaar Cinema fire case was criminal. Their bail plea was rejected yesterday (September 10).

The two brother were sent to 14-day judicial custody.

Ansals were given two years in jail in the Uphaar Cinema case but if they are found guilty of destroying evidence, they could face up to seven years in prison.

Apex Court in its order maintained that tampering with court record was a serious offence and bail should not have been granted to the accused.

Ansals were held guilty in 2007 and charged with criminal negligence, 10 years after 59 people were choked to death in South Delhi’s Uphaar Cinema owned by them.

There was a fire in the cinema hall after a short circuit, but the people could not escape as the exits were blocked. In 2007, the court convicted the brothers and sentenced them to two years in prison.

The latest Supreme Court directive comes in wake of the fact that evidence that they attempted to destroy documents that prove their day-to-day involvement with the running of Uphaar Cinema.

September 08, 2008

Strike or Bandh the right word - A Confusion

The issue is likely to open up a much wider debate than that concerning India's industrial future or the Late Swami Laxamananda Saraswati. The right to go on strike be treated as a basic - if not fundamental right in any democratic society., whether it professes socialism, capitalism or any other ism between the two.

The problem largely stems from semnatics, a confusion of terms between a voluntary strike or an enforced strike, popularly called as bandh. A voluntary strike - a refusal to protest against low wages anything else- is the obverse of the basic right to seek or to work. Much used bt M.K.Gandhi in his struggle for independence,the voluntary strike is the cornerstone of our democracy. As a legitimate form of dissent by deed -or rather , non-deed - the right to strike ought to be a basic right in a free society.

The Non Voluntary strike, or bandh,where force , or threat of force, is used to paralyse normal life is a clear violation of the rights of non-participating citizens to pursue their everyday business and must be deemed illegal - even when it styles itself as that ultimate paradox common to Bengal or any other parts of the country: the state sponsored bandh,which implies that the state is protesting against its own inequities.

So, should strike be banned? No. Should Bandhs be banned? Yes. Or else The Big Industrialists, will exercise their democratic right to go on strike - by striking out for whichever place offers the most business friendly environment.

September 05, 2008

Singur Confusion

LAND DISPUTES are becoming commonplace in India where businesses are being dumped amid blind protests and negligence of foresightedness. First it was Nandigram. Now it’s Singur. The land row in West Bengal has sent a wrong message across the business fraternity. The Singur siege led by controversial Trinamool Congress leader, Mamata Banerjee against Tata’s Nano project has left its administration and West Bengal government in dilemma.
Mamta has said that she is hoping for a positive solution to the Singur agitation, but will not back from the agitation unless the 400 acres of land is given back to the farmers. Amidst all such agitation and protests, Tata Motors has suspended operations at Singur plant and is in the process of exploring alternative locations after work had been disrupted since August 29. As of now, Tata’s dream project of Nano cars (the cheapest in India), has countered setback in Singur and if conclusive formula is not met with, it is destined to relocate to another venue outside Bengal.
Now the question arises, if Tata pulls out of Singur, what impact it would have on the industrialisation in West Bengal? The business community in the state is particularly concerned that if Tata leaves, others will definitely follow and this is going to hamper the industrial growth of the region. If the company goes, it is not only going to deprive the state of big money, but also blemish the image of the brand ’Bengal’.
The other big companies, which had decided to invest big money and time in this state largely because of the Nano plant at Singur, are now in dilemma and pondering over their options. Bharat Forge, Vedanta Group, Adhunik, Shyam Steel, Bhushan Steel, Abhijit Group and certain automobile majors who were mulling over investment in West Bengal, some of them had almost finalised, may not be all that keen to invest after the Singur standoff.
This standoff has certainly given cold shivers to Left-ruled government in West Bengal and deemed as a setback in its campaign to change its image from union-dominated, strike-bound state hostile to investors, to business-friendly government striving for uplift of living standards of people. The state government has been desperately trying to attract investors from within the country and abroad who for long had been adamant not to invest in the state because of the communist policies.

After Tata’s decision of suspending operation at Singur plant, the government has appointed West Bengal governor, Gopal Krishna Gandhi, as the mediator in the talk between Trinamool Congress chief and Tata Motors to reach a conclusion. There is evidence that the movement taken up by Mamta against the Tata project is witnessing a slow but steady divide, which may be a good sign for the government and the people of the region who are destined to benefit by the industrialisation of the region.
The most tormenting aspect of all such agitations is that the so-called flag bearers of such protests are in a habit of gaining short-term political gain keeping their eyes shut towards the mass benefit that may ensue in the long term. What goals can Mamta achieve for the land owners when the project is closed? Aren’t the land owners going to be benefitted more with Tata project in their place than they would otherwise be with mere agricultural land at their disposal? She is just trying to manoeuvre short-term political gains on the name of protest.
Supporters of the Nano plant at Singur argue that the project will lead to prosperity – and this is the reality. Look at the scenario – in the past one year, a number of banks have set up branches there, new constructions are coming up, jobs in a variety of forms in and around the plant are being created and new income is being generated. The region is getting a facelift and this may go on to benefit generations to come.
Even for the farmers whose lands were acquired for the plant, Tata’s withdrawal from Singur could be the worst case scenario. They may get back their land, but still be a loser, as it would have definitely provided new jobs and business opportunities, which would have boosted the local economy and the living standard of people.
Now, as the situation unfolds, voices are being raised against the Mamta-led agitation from even the farmers whose lands have been acquired. They do not want the Tatas to leave as they have started to believe that industrialisation would improve their lives. This view gains strength after the suicide of a farmer in protest against Tata’s ouster.
In a tragic incident, a 65-year-old farmer, Sushen Santra, from Joymalla village, living close to the Tata Motors plant, committed suicide after consuming pesticide at his residence. His family members said that it was due to the sheer shock of the Tata’s decision, announced a day earlier, to suspend work at its plant. He was upset after he heard that the Nano project might be relocated and committed suicide under depression.
His three sons work in the ancillary units located within the project area as daily wage earners and according to them, he was afraid they would lose their jobs. He was paid a sum of Rs 3,50,000 as compensation for his land from which he constructed a two-storey house and his living standard had improved due to job created for his sons. Now, with dark clouds looming over the project, he couldn’t stand the threat of losing all.

Meanwhile, in recent developments, it is learned that some landowners, who gave land for the project, demonstrated at the village demanding immediate resumption of work in the factory. But on the other hand, it seems that Mamta is keen on going ahead with her protest. Why can’t our politicians grow up? Just because of dogmatic approach of our politicians, the general people of the country have to suffer.
The business community in West Bengal is seeing the Singur siege as an unwanted obstacle in the road leading towards foreign investments and industrialisation of the state. The industrial climate is getting difficult and filthier in the state where the government needs to address the Singur issue if it wants to make West Bengal an investment destination at all.

September 03, 2008

orissa Kandamal Violence

WHEN ORISSA was gripped under violence targeted against Christians by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) extremists, there came a report of the World Bank’s latest estimates on global poverty. As per the report, 42 per cent of Indian population (456 million people) is living below newly adjusted international poverty line of $1.25 per day. The population of the poor has reached to 33 per cent (one-third) of the global poor. Moreover, it is quite shocking, but not surprising that those who are engaged in promoting education, moral and social upliftment to the weaker sections of the society, and providing financial support to the poor and downtrodden of our society are being targeted by the enemies of the humanity (ie, saffron brigade).

Whether it is Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Bajrang Dal, Shiv Sena or the VHP, they have one thing in common, they are all made to harm the minorities for their own motives and setting their politics of hatred and immorality to further their unholy, ill-designed tasks. First, it was Muslims and now they are targeting Christians. More shocking is the fact that political parties known for spreading communal hatred and engaged in inciting violence against the minorities are once again queuing up unashamedly denying the VHP’s role in the attack on churches, orphanages, and burning alive the workers there. According to a report published in the Times of India few days ago, it is clear that the state government is handicapped and responding at a very slow pace and it seems they are turning their eyes from all the mess in Orissa. The present violence in Orissa has been planned under the same modus operandi that was observed in Gujarat. The local administration and communal forces are hand-in-glove in planning and executing attack against minority Christians in Orissa. An official was quoted in the TOI saying, “Though two additional Rapid Action Force (RAF) companies were rushed in, cops in the southern district found it difficult to move into interiors because of road blockades.”
The story of the systematic attacks on Christians have solid ground, if a pastor from Bhubaneshwar is believed who was quoted in the TOI saying, “A mob of about 70–80 people came with tyres, kerosene, petrol, and axes. Many of them were drunk.” Certainly, this is pointing towards the systematically planned attempt of communalists, which the intelligence agencies and the police must be aware of.

I was surprised when I read the news that a delegation of Christians met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Thursday (August 28) and demanded severe action against the culprits and compensation for the victims, it was when the PM told the delegation that he will talk to the chief minister of Orissa to take actions against the culprits.
Hatred against any religion, caste, or sect and burning alive people as well as attacking innocents and engaging in arson of religious buildings and orphanages should be condemned and cannot be justified, whatsoever is the defence line. To be human is not as difficult.
We should first work for the betterment of downtrodden, depressed and miserable people, like what the Christian missionaries are doing, only then we can change the hearts of the people. Not surprisingly, it was Swami Laxmananad who himself once said, “The sooner Christians return to the Hindu fold, the better it would be for the country.” One should keep in mind that it is only love, care and support, which can win hearts of humans and nothing else.
Moreover, it is us, who should decide whether we want to be a nation with prosperity for all or be a “proud” nation having soaring graph of poverty and misery. Think and decided now before the time goes out of reach!