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June 15, 2013


In the coming years, Naxalism will become the most important internal security threat to India. Poverty and lack of education were the traditional causes of this extremism but the recent attacks in Chatisgarh with the butchering of at least 27 people. Tragic killings raise many a question. In a dastardly attack, the Naxals massacred leading congress leaders from the tribal state, one of the most Naxal-affected states in India. Those killed in the attack include state congress chief Nand Kumar Patel, and Mahendra Karma, former MP and a popular tribal leader. Nand Kumar’s son, Dinesh Patel too lost his life in the tragic attack. The barbaric strike by around 250 Naxals in the forests of Jagdalpur also claimed life of Uday Kumar Mudaliar, a former MLA. This is perhaps the  biggest attack in the sprawling central Indian state since April 6, 2010, when about 75 Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and a state police personnel were killed in Mukrana forests of Dantewada district by suspected rebels.

  It   highlights ideological commitment as an equally important cause. In Naxalism, there is also a sense of deprivation and injustice. There is also a sense that the lowest sections of society are not empowered and need to agitate for their rights. There is a great need to improve the standards of governance in Naxal-affected tribal areas. Terrorism associated with Islamic fundamentalism is growing; hence the government has to become more vigilant. At the same time, the right to freedom of speech and expression should not be misused.

The recent year’s Naxal incidents have shown a different face of Naxlism, which is far away from its initial targets. They are not only limited to attacks and explosions but also actively involved in economic exploitation, paving way for the rich businessman and industrialist to exploit the land, people and their resources as much as they want.

In the seventies, when Bengal was going through a period of insurgency - the movement that came to be known as Naxalism, the intellectual fuel for this came from the unemployed students of Bengal’s many universities. Why one may ask, did this group of educated young men and women choose this route of violence and  in the process create a movement that has now become part of Bengal modern folk lore after the Bengal famine and the partition stories.

It is obvious that the economic development of India is inextricably connected with the upliftment of the tribals and intensive exploitation of the forest resources. Apart from the fact that forests provide the main source for food, shelter and to some extent clothing, the tribal communities have had a symbolic relationship with the forest. The customs of the tribal life, including religions and social functions and folklore have been shaped and formed by forests. During times of distress and scarcity, tribals mainly rely on the forest produce for their sustenance, and in normal times their food comprises tuber, roots, fruits and leaves collected from the forest. Thus, tribal life is intimately connected, in one way or another with the forests, from their birth till death. Apart from land, forests have been the other major resource base for the tribals. They have lived in perfect harmony with forests for generations and their culture has revolved around this life style. As of now, they cultivate forest land and collect minor forest produce to eke out their livelihood, because they are the original inhabitants of the forest areas. The privileges enjoyed by the tribals are regulated by the forest policies of the state. But unfortunately, this policy was not operated in a manner, which can convince the tribals that reservation of forests was in the interest of tribals themselves. The over jealous attitude of some of the forest staff made them look upon the tribals as ‘unwarranted intruders’, opposed to forest protections and conservations. On the other hand, the tribals, who consider themselves to be the owners of all the forests, have come to feel that they have been deprived of their own habitat.

Ultimately, deforestation has brought about radical change in the social, economic and cultural life of the people in general and particularly, forced the tribals to lead a life of poverty and misery. Large scale compensatory afforestation plantation, soil conservation, efficient joint forest management by the locals and the department officials and other appropriate measures are required to be taken priority basis, besides awakening environment consciousness in public minds to solve the situation from worsening further.

An integrated and holistic approach to the development of Scheduled Tribes must be evolved, if we are to come to grips, comprehensively with the problem. Shortcomings and confusions in the forest policies and acts need to be thoroughly analysed and proper alterations and amendments brought about, taking into account the suggestions and consultations of the Scheduled Tribes. Motivated and dedicated officials and functionaries are in great need to carry forward measures, required for the development of Scheduled Tribe. Committed voluntary organisations, who earnestly carry forward the government’s message of rapid development of the Scheduled Tribes, should also be given due acknowledgement.

Naxal’s ideology of fighting oppression and exploitation to create classless society may be right in their perspective. They are claming to represent most oppressed people who have been untouched by India’s development and bypassed by electoral process. Most of them are Dalit, Adivasi, poorest of the poor who work as landless labourers often below the India’s minimum mandated wages. They believe that Indians are still to acquire freedom from hunger and deprivation.

Killing of landlords, upper class people, police officials, security forces and politicians will never help them to achieve their aim. Although to make a balanced society, government can’t make everyone Bill Gates, but surely they must be provided the basic facility of Roti, Kapda and Makan. Although Government is executing many plans for socially deprived people but somehow there are still not getting any benefit and they are showing their frustration by boycotting the election and forcing the people to boycott.

The recent plan by central government to counter operation in all these states will only moisten the filthy dustbin. The demand of time is that they must be listened to. They must be given the equal status. They must be rehabilitated rather than killed. We may kill current 20,000 insurgents but again after 15-20 years another 20,000 will be ready with more enthusiasm to take revenge. We must understand they are not educated people, they are just finding their way of survival. If this problem will not be taken seriously there are more chances of taking advantage of this situation by foreign hand and that time it will be more dangerous for our nation than external aggression.

I ponder that the balance will never tilt one way or the other. Is economic prosperity more important or preserving your language or culture or tribal identity is? Chambers of commerce and upwardly mobile professionals make take out their calculators and compute business and economic losses but for others, ethnic, tribal or religious pride takes precedence over every thing else, even if it looks foolish. Meanwhile, while governments struggle over the issue of whether to preserve national boundaries or respect ethnic or linguistic or caste ones, thousands of lives and years will be wasted.

Everyone knows unless masses are educated they won’t be able to avail fruits of any reservation . More over given the dwindling number of govt jobs this reservation can't make any difference.

Best thing in this scenario to do would have been to start targeted all expenses paid schools like Navodaya just for BPL people. But Paaswan's and Laloo's of the world don't want rich and poor phraseology enter dalit or PBC politics. While we al know there are privileged few even in dalit community who corner all the benefits of reservation or any such token effort and the penury continues.

The government has enough on its hand, these political parties only add to its woos by highlighting problems. The government has to tackle terrorism, Naxalism, inflation, financial crisis. The end sufferer in all agitations and riots is the common man. Have you ever seen a political party leader being killed in an agitation? It is clear that these parties have only been cheating people and continue to do so still.

All political leaders show the common man a dream - that of living in a world of peace and bliss. But it is this common man who is being denied this happiness. It is day to day struggle for him for survival. The dreams of happiness remain just that – dreams. The government polices and plans are for common good but they fail to reach the common man because the leaders who control these policies fail to deliver. This is because we have chosen wrong leaders. The educated are not casting their valuable vote. To overcome these problems politics should reach the hands of ’Young guns of India” where the fate of India should be changed. It would give a solution.

These Naxal groups can help instill confidence and optimism and actually do some constructive work instead they are busy with bloodshed.

Gone were the days  when naxalism or “ultras” phenomenon emerged as a major internal security threat making its presence felt in the public arena. The naxalites not only extended their area of influence beyond the Red Corridor but also shook the centres of power with their changing tactics. Things have gone to such an extent that our Prime minister openly acknowledged naxalism as a major threat the country is facing in the present times.

According to Govt. estimates rebels have made their presence felt in more than 223 districts of India’s 600 odd districts across 20 states. Following the open conflicts in West Bengal district of Lalgarh, the Central Govt. banned the naxal front organization CPI(Maoist) on June 23, 2009. State specific resistance has already been in force in the form of Salwa Judum(Chattisgarh),Grey Hounds(Andhra Pradesh) and COBRA(Orissa).

Many leaders like Kobad Gandhi, Chattradhar Mahato, Chandrabhushan Yadav etc. were arrested. The government has also initiated publicity campaigns in order to garner support from the general public in their efforts to crack down on the naxals. The pictures of Francis Induwar, the special branch Inspector beheaded by naxals had been widely used by the government to show the ultras in poor light, who otherwise enjoy the moral support of Indian intelligentsia and human rights groups. Allegations of naxal connection with terror out fits like Al-Queda were also made. Occasional voices were also heard about the Chinese support to the naxal movement in India.

On the other side the naxals continued to expand their influence by making use of the backwardness and exploitation in tribal regions. The number of attacks with police and paramilitary forces increased and more stories soaked in blood came out. It is estimated that about 2600 people were killed in naxal attacks during the past three years, the majority of which were policemen.

Chattisgarh, Bihar, Jharkhand and Orissa were the worst affected. Election processes was disturbed at many places across the country. Efforts were made to hijack trains, demanding the release of the captured naxal leader. When the point of conflict shifted from Singur to Lalgarh in West Bengal, the ultras’ influence receded in Andhra under Y.S Rajashekhara Reddy. With the death of YSR and renewed demands for Telengana state it is feared that naxals are going to regain their influence in this part of India.

In many places, rebels came out as self styled protectors of peasants. In West Midnapore district of West Bengal, the incident of Maoist leader Kishenji announcing the farmers who suffered loses in agriculture not to pay back their loans is a pointer to this. The rebel leader also said that the co-operative banks and money lenders will not be allowed to charge more than 2% interest on loans. The message is clear that the ultras are ultimately in the war for a self styled system of governance in their influential areas. The old tactics of rebels staying away from public attention also seems to be changing. The naxals are increasingly turning towards the media in their efforts to get more public sympathy. The capture and release of police officer Atindranath Dutta in West Bengal reminds of Al-Queda form of media attention grabbing by the rebels. 
There are number of questions that strike one's mind and need to be analyzed to deal with the Maoist attacks. Why did our political system fail to reach out to the local people of the affected areas? Why did we fail to develop democratic leadership from these areas? Why did political and civil administrations fail to serve socio- economic causes of the people? Why did intelligence agencies fail to sense the activities of Maoists? How were the Maoists able to establish “international links” to fight the Indian state? Why have the Centre and state governments, till today, failed to evolve joint “comprehensive strategy” to fight the Maoists? The list of questions only gets longer.

The ideology of Naxals is anti-democratic and against our constitution. The problem till date has not found favour for serious discussion, primarily because it has never been treated as an issue which deserved national attention and was treated as a socio-economic problem or at best a law and order problem of the concerned state  government.
Even though the Naxalite movement is an internal security concern, it can have serious consequences for the defense of the country and needs to be dealt with urgently.
However, the best course to tackle the situation is to invite the Maoists for a dialogue across the table. There is a need to adopt a give and take policy. The Naxalites should also come forward and discuss their demands across the table to sort out the issue once for all to save the innocent people. “Give and Take” strategy will only do the miracles to control the Naxalite movement. The central and state governments must evolve joint, comprehensive strategy to fight the Maoists by showing a sense of utmost urgency.

One positive outcome of the naxal threat is the more media coverage on the dispossessed and deprived tribal population of our country. When a decade ends and another year passes by with much blood shed, nothing much positive can be expected from the Indian Government in matters of reconciliation and peace.

A year that marks the end of one of the world’s deadliest rebel forces, LTTE might have encouraged our government for a military solution for the menace. But the solution for this internal disease, as we all know, lies in development and not in an elimination process brokered by the power centres.

Siddhartha Shankar Mishra,

Sambalpur, Odisha

A nation in uncertainty ( JUST IN PRINT ) June, 16-30 - 2013

A nation in uncertainty

During my visit to Delhi ( in april 2011 )the best place to look for ‘affordable’ continental food are the small restaurants in Paharganj. I happen to visit Paharganj  and went out to have lunch with a friend at one such restaurant. The place was not very crowded but what struck me was the fact that in the 20 odd people sitting there we were the only Desis and rest ‘white’ Videshi. In minutes I saw a few more blonde heads trickle in and a dreadlocked head move out of the door. While I was talking with my friend arguing about what to order the waiter kept on hanging around our table to get our order, the food on other tables was conspicuous by its absence.

The fact that the waiter (a 15-16 yr old lad) never bothered to ask the man with white skin about his order, while he kept on hounding us for full 20 minutes that we took for ordering the pre-ordained Lasagne opened my eyes to a bitter reality. I saw a society that still believes that they are the “White Man’s Burden”. If one starts introspecting after 60 years of independence the failure to exorcise the colonial ghost and an inherent inferiority complex when compared to ‘them’ has been the biggest failure of India as a society. The silver lining in this otherwise gloomy cloud of hopelessness have been individuals who have shone through their abilities and intellect and have shown them what we are all about.

Not counting the Nehru’s, Patel’s and the man called Gandhi, there was one man called V K Krishna Menon. After being appointed India’s first high commissioner to the UK in 1947 he had a huge responsibility on his shoulders to represent our nation in the country which had ruled us for almost two centuries. He performed his duty with utmost dignity and established himself as a distinguished ambassador. He never cared about the overtly patronising nature of the British society in general towards India and on occasion he let them know that they are dealing with one of the finest brains in the Indian politics.

One such incident is of a lady from British aristocracy who asked the London School of Economics educated Menon, how he can speak such articulately in English. Menon retorted, “Ma’am I happen to have studied this language, which you merely have picked!” Also on 23rd January 1957 Krishna Menon, then the head of Indian delegation to the UN, delivered an unprecedented 8-hour speech defending India’s stand on Kashmir and vociferously criticizing the United States. To date, Krishna Menon’s speech is the longest ever delivered in the United Nations Security Council.

Cricket despite being a relic of the British era had become a religion of sorts in post-independent India. In 1951 when India defeated their past masters at their own game in Madras (now Chennai) by an innings and 8 runs, the skipper Vijay Hazare was put on a heavenly pedestal. But still it was a team comprising of gentlemen who just played the game and when confronted by barrage of expletives (and bouncers) from their English counter-parts they preferred to sway away from the line. In 1971 Pakistan wasn’t the only nation cowering from the onslaught launched by India. We beat them in their own backyard for the first time and the reason we were able to do that was the team’s self belief and its ability to stand up to their erstwhile colonial masters as equals. The white cricketer was shown his place by players like Dilip Sardesai, Sunil Gavaskar, Kapil Dev and later Sachin Tendulkar amongst others. But nobody did it as emphatically as Saurav Ganguly. After rubbing (snooty??) stalwart of the game Steve Waugh the wrong way during the home series in 2001 (which by the way India won!), Ganguly went to England and did a ‘semi-nude victory jig’ in the hallowed Lord’s balcony.

It made Ganguly an icon for this star-starved nation for next few years and ensured that this incident will be firmly etched on the memory of anyone who saw ‘Dada’ swirling his t-shirt and telling the Englishmen what exactly to do next! It also became the face of the new aggressive India that was dynamic and wasn’t ready to be cowed down by the colour of the skin of his opposing number. From that day onwards we have finally learnt to play our game differently and have ceased to be the docile ‘good boys’ of the game. But have the people, who deify these very players, being able to make that attitude shift that apparently the Indian cricketer has made? The simple answer of this difficult question is no.

We still feel blessed if a European tourist enquires about the way to the lavatory from us while the African students are called names while they travel using the public transport. It’s as if that we have accepted the supremacy of the white skinned and the English speaking over us. By imposing a cultural hegemony of sorts on us through language and various other Medias, the ‘West’ has been successful in its endeavour to turn us into a nation of ‘Brown Sahebs’. As the father of Western Education in India Thomas Babington Macaulay visualised we are turning into a nation of “…Indian in blood and colour, but English (read Western) in taste, in opinions, in morals, and in intellect.”

Language is the most important vehicle to assert identity and by loosing it or corrupting it we are loosing ourselves. Studying English language isn’t bad but learning it at the cost of your own mother tongue leaves a kind of void in one’s personality and similarly appreciating western culture is fine till the time you are at least aware of your own roots. When the later condition is not fulfilled then we get a generation of disjointed individuals floating in nothingness in a dazed condition searching for their own space, their own identity.

Our trepidation for the white skin manifests from this colonised mind which forces us to automatically cow down in front of an otherwise a normal white person. We are looking for fair skinned people even amongst our own community, so you see those horribly absurd and rather bemusing matrimonial adverts looking for a ‘fair groom’. It throws the conventional ‘tall, DARK, handsome’ norm for a man’s attractiveness out of the window. The only party not complaining here are the ‘fairness cream’ manufacturers who have sold more millions of tonnes of cream, both to men & women.

We need to realise that it is crippling us intellectually, morally, emotionally and spiritually. Embracing the so-called modern world at the cost of loosing one’s identity, culture and sense of individuality may not be such a sensible thing to do. The process of decolonising the Indian mind might take some time but we can make a start by putting a stop on giving out those absurd matrimonial adverts and trying to judge an individual on parameters other than his skin colour.

MOB - 09937965779,08280062457

June 02, 2013

Difficult Phase for Parvez Musharraf , JUSTINPRINT, JUNE 1-15-2013 ( INTERNATIONAL )

Difficult Phase for Parvez Musharraf

A lot is happening in the life of Pervez Musharraf – the former Pakistan army chief boldly sauntered into Pakistan sometime back purportedly to save the troubled nation from chaos. The general, however, is facing a tough time saving himself from chaos, when, denied bail by a Pakistan High court, he fled from the court premises, only to be arrested later at his residence.

Musharraf declared "emergency rule" in 2007 when he was quickly losing popularity in Pakistan fashioning himself as an authoritative ruler over Pakistan. He resigned from office in 2008 to avoid the risk of being impeached. Since then he was in a self-imposed exile outside of Pakistan until this year when he returned to the country.
By 2008, Musharraf had been defeated in the elections he was forced to hold. He hastily left the country for a posh London exile . But last month, he finally made good on his promise to return home. It was a characteristically bold move for the ex-commando. Musharraf had already been warned that he could face a trial for alleged misdeeds in office. He may not have been warned that ordinary citizens were liable to greet his return with a disdainful shrug. On landing in Karachi, the former president was welcomed by a noticeably small crowd—a significant embarassment in a country where pols dispense money to assemble friendly throngs. 

Musharraf’s humiliating month is heartening for democracy advocates, who are glad to see a former strongman face justice (even when the charges are partially motivated by personal vendettas). But there is a larger irony, one befitting the latest chapter in the biography of a military man better known for tactical successes than strategic triumphs: The two sectors of Pakistani society most energetically tormenting Musharraf—the media and the judiciary—are ones that he strengthened during his near-decade in power. And the pillar of society that created him—the military—is standing idly by.
In the early months of 1999, Pakistani soldiers, along with indigenous Kashmiri fighters, crossed the Line of Control that separates the Indian and Pakistani areas of Kashmir, focusing on a district called Kargil. It was a daring maneuver. Musharraf, the lead instigator, initially looked clever, garnering accolades and support from the nationalist media. But strategic thinking was never Musharraf’s forte: India responded, and quickly recaptured the ground it had lost; Pakistan was forced into the humiliating retreat that would likely have appeared predictable to anyone who bothered to think through the long-term consequences of the assault. The discord that the disaster brought about in Pakistani politics did, however, allow Musharraf to orchestrate a coup several months later against the civilian government. 

This is very wrong to label some executives’ decisions as unconstitutional by any future government in any country. This is particularly true of Pakistan where even today the democracy is in a nascent stage. The judiciary is no holy cow in Pakistan and it still has to learn its ways. What Mr. Musharraf did was not his personal decisions. They were the collective decisions of the then government of Pakistan and many were outside the domain of military establishment there. It is outlandish to blame Mr. Musharraf for all the ills of his time and thereafter. Mr. Musharraf’s rule was not that bad, neither the present coalition government’s rule is that good. This is bad to have strange memories and inconsistent behavior.

The fact is that national politics in Pakistan may move towards the less-than-majority bipartisanism. Such a transition may be temporary and fragile but such would affect Pakistan positively. This is not to suggest that there would not be proliferation of political identities in Pakistan or that extremism would not rise, but politics in Pakistan is more likely to be more centralized and more bipolar after the return, disqualification and arrest of Mr. Musharraf. This is how Pakistan works and probably the whole of the South Asia too. But once his job is finished, Mr. Musharraf should be either pardoned honorably or he should be allowed to go on to exile again. Just like Hosni Mubarak it is foolish to take revenge from former President of Pakistan for reasons those that were not necessarily personality-based. One only hopes that the US has some stakes in the whole episode and that the good sense would prevail in the end.

Today, neither the military nor its sometime American sponsor are inclined to do much for Musharraf. Washington may have once seen him as a bendable strongman, but there is no interest in backing an unpopular former general. The military itself, although antsy about the possible symbolism of a former military leader in prison, has little love for its former chief. Anti-Americanism is much stronger in the country today than it was in Musharraf's era, and thus his closeness to the United States is something the military would rather forget. 

Musharraf will likely be tried for various allege crimes including the murder of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, Balochi nationalist leader Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti. Additionally, he is primarily being convicted for his dismissal of most of the Supreme Court after his second election in 2007 in order to instate judges that would verify his victory in the contested election.

His case represents an interesting aspect of Pakistani politics and the maturation of the political system. The fact that he felt comfortable about coming back to Pakistan with a pre-arrest bail and there was no overt military support for his return, speaks volumes. The fear was that the military might think that a case against him would draw the current leadership of the army into the courtroom drama. But the army did not provide special security or issue any major supporting statement on his return. And the Islamabad High Court held its hand on using the case to bring the army into discussion, for now.
Could Pakistan survive another high-profile assassination or assassination attempt in a season when many candidates, especially in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, have been killed by the TTP? Conspiracy theorists contend that a high-profile killing might provide an excuse for the postponement of elections and an extension of the caretaker regime, allowing it to effect changes in the economic and perhaps political system for the better. But the less than agile handling of so many issues, may not contribute to raising confidence in the caretakers.

The former army chief returned in March after nearly four years of self-imposed exile to contest a May 11 general election, but election officers disqualified him because of court cases pending against him.

In what newspapers described as a veiled reference to Musharraf’s legal troubles, Army Chief General Ashfaq Kayani said: “In my opinion, it is not merely retribution, but awareness and participation of the masses that can truly end this game of hide and seek between democracy and dictatorship.”
Kayani, arguably the most powerful figure in Pakistan, was delivering a Martyrs’ Day speech at army headquarters. Newspapers carried his comments on front pages.
The military has ruled Pakistan for than half of its 66-year-history, through coups or from behind the scenes. It sets security and foreign policy, even when civilian governments are in power.
Current commanders have meddled less in politics, letting civilian governments take the heat for policy failures.
But Kayani has had an uneasy relationship with civilian leaders, as well as an increasingly interventionist Supreme Court, which has questioned the military’s human rights record.

The chief justice, Iftikhar Chaudhry, was embroiled in a confrontation with Musharraf, who removed him from office in 2007 after he opposed plans to extend the general’s stay in power. Chaudhry was later reinstated.
Musharraf’s has been embroiled in legal issues since his return.
He became the first former army chief to be arrested in Pakistan when police took him into custody at their headquarters last Friday, breaking an unwritten rule that the top ranks of the military are untouchable, even after they have retired.
Thousands of people in Gahkuch took the streets to protest against the arrest of former President and Pakistan’s flamboyant Military General Pervez Musharraf. Protesters chanted slogans in favor of Musharraf and lamented what they call Judicial Activism in Pakistan.
Protesters formed a large rally that marched through Gahkuch Bazar. Hundreds of retired military men and a large number of civilians demanded government to drop the charges against the former president and to immediately release the man of ‘Pakistan First’

The protest rally later converted into an assemblage addressed by many local notables and APML supporters. Speakers numerated Musharraf’s developmental projects in the region. They said that the Karakuram University, mobile service, increased developmental funds, several administrative measures, and loan write-offs are services for which Musharraf will be remembered in the region for a long time.
They said that the lone man without democratic roots has done far more than what the so-called democratic parties claim that they can do.
The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, has criticised nearly the entire range of policies pursued by the previous government led by Gen (retd) Musharraf. The United States is already in the process of adjusting to the big change in Islamabad, praising Gen (retd) Pervez Musharraf for his efforts in the war on terror but welcoming the new army chief and democracy. India is less sure whether the process of normalisation started by Gen Musharraf will continue.

The fact is that decisions under a democratic dispensation are always difficult to take and democracies tend to be unwieldy even on issues of great importance. The manner in which the internal political struggle unfolded in India on the US-India civilian nuclear deal is a case in point. Equally, however, democratic governments, after trying long and hard to win adherents, can also go out on a limb and take risks — that is exactly what the UPA government in India did and carried the day. Foreign policy contours do not change overnight; they are guided by a country’s core interests based on a number of determinants. What is different about democratic debate in theory is that it provides various forums for a debate on actual decisions. It is time consuming but allows crucial input at multiple levels. The debate also brings with it the vital element of buy-in for a policy. In other words, the policy is rooted in the public as far as this can be achieved and is desirable.

There is also consolation that the PPP and the PMLN have pledged to “normalise” with India and Afghanistan. But the Zardari government has gone further than General (retd) Musharraf was prepared to go with India in opening up trade. This is a good development and constitutes a needed break with the old Pakistani approach that was based on Kashmir first and then everything else. General Musharraf’s out-of-the-box thinking effectively put paid to the UN Resolutions much like Nawaz Sharif did in the Lahore Summit in 1999 and Mr Zardari must move in the same direction in conformity with the aspirations of the people of Jammu and Kashmir. This is in keeping with the spirit of the dialogue framework with India, especially the back channel that General (retd) Musharraf opened with Dr Manmohan Singh. Both Mr Zardari and Mr Sharif have also announced that they would like to see an easing of visa restrictions with India. Good. It seems that the pressures of governance have induced a generous dose of pragmatism in their thinking to keep the foreign policy directed in favour of the national economy.

Musharraf may be prosecuted for high treason under the command responsibility doctrine. In international criminal law, the command responsibility doctrine has been employed to hold civilian leaders and military commanders responsible for crimes committed by their subordinates. This concept can be transferred to domestic jurisprudence to hold the top leader responsible for high treason committed with the connivance of subordinates. Under command responsibility, the top leader cannot lawfully demand that all subordinates who agreed to obey him in the commission of high treason be also prosecuted. The top commander is responsible for high treason even if the generals under his command endorse the decision to suspend the constitution and proclaim unlawful emergency.

Musharraf's argument that he cannot be singled out for the crime of high treason is without legal merit. Even in ordinary violations of law, such as speeding on a highway, a violator cannot successfully argue that a patrol officer must either issue traffic tickets to all who are speeding or to none. This legal logic will increase violations of speed limit because rarely does the highway patrol have the resources to stop every person engaged in speeding. Of course, the selective enforcement of law, including traffic regulations, on the sole basis of race, religion, or any other arbitrary classification will be offensive to the notions of fairness, equal protection, and justice. The selective justice argument, however, loses in almost every other context.

Most important, the argument of selective justice is particularly unavailable in high crimes, including genocide, torture, enforced disappearances, and high treason. Every person who commits high crime is personally liable and cannot invoke the notion of selective justice. Throughout the world, high treason is such a serious crime that states that have otherwise abolished death penalty retain capital punishment for high treason. When the top military general, donning his military uniform, undermines a democratic constitutional order and detains judges of the nation's highest court, he cannot invoke selective justice to avoid punishment for high treason. A military usurper deserves no mercy or forgiveness for non-enforcement of the law of high treason invites future subversions of the democratic constitution.

Given the legal challenges, lack of support and Taliban threats, many experts have been left scratching their heads as to why Musharraf returned to Pakistan. Some have speculated he misjudged the level of public backing he would get, while others suggested he was simply homesick.

Siddhartha Shankar Mishra,


Cricket – No More a Gentleman's Game , JUSTINPRINT, JUNE , 1-15-2013

Cricket – No More a Gentleman's Game

Why not life ban for corrupt politicians & officers too ; if it is for Sreesanth ? He just spot fixed a sport. They spot the NATION. Why different yardsticks? 

Dear Leaders, it is a trickle down theory. You cite good examples at the top & everyone else shall automatically improve. Yeh Hai India Meri Jaan...
Do not think Sreesanth is worse than Pawan kumar Bansal ? Then why is Mr Bansal still roaming large ?

Indian Premier League players representing Rajasthan Royals namely Sreesanth, Ajit Chandila and Ankeet Chavan have been arrested by Delhi Police in Mumbai on spot fixing charges in IPL 2013. These players are going to be brought to Delhi and produced in Court.

Rajasthan Royals came up with a statement, which read, “We have been informed that three of our players have been called in for investigation on spot fixing in matches. We are completely taken by surprise. We do not have the full facts at this point and are unable to confirm anything. We are in touch with the BCCI on this matter. We will fully cooperate with the authorities to ensure a thorough investigation. The management at Rajasthan Royals has a zero-tolerance approach to anything that is against the spirit of the game,” reported The Hindu.

Sreesanth has been involved in many disciplinary issues while representing India. He has always been surrounded by controversies even in IPL. But, this spot fixing charges has to be the biggest of them all, which even puts his career in threat. If found guilty, it may even spell the end of his cricket career along with the other two arrester cricketers, as there is no place for corruption in any form of cricket.

India’s most popular sport, the old British game of cricket, is under suspicion for corruption in the form of “spot fixing” of scores. “Spot fixing” does not mean throwing an entire match. It’s all about collaborating among players on giving away runs.
The game of cricket is much too complicated for me to comprehend, but there’s no misunderstanding the scope of an investigation in which players and bookies have been interrogated and arrested for “spot fixing” involving at least one team in the Indian Premier League. The story, moreover, promises to get a lot bigger.

It is so disturbing from an international viewpoint is obvious. “Spot fixing” is a racket that anyone on any team anywhere can play. The scandal in India, though, shows how the curse of gambling and fixing can spread before emerging for public display. Some of the lines in media reports might do well for scripts that the producers and directors of Bollywood, the prolific Indian motion motion picture industry, are sure to want to consider.

Every man and his dog has reacted to the spot-fixing saga which rocked the IPL. Everybody has promised stricter security and ruthlessness when dealing with the perpetrators. Cricket will always be a tender spot for those who really live it.The game is at crossroads. Whether it’s a corrupt board sticking their fingers various pies or whether it’s a few individuals taking dirty money, cricket is riddled with threats. And while it’s unlikely that those threats will ever be eliminated in their entirety, it’s important that they are restricted.

Betting on anything other than horse racing is illegal in India, and the saga has prompted India's law minister Kapil Sibal and sports Minister Jitendra Singh to ponder a new bill to be introduced to combat the problem. The pair have been studying the way betting is dealt with in the United Kingdom and Australia, and this information will be shared with the Law Ministry in the next session of Indian Parliament.

The three arrested players were not unknown cricketers, especially Sreesanth, who has represented India at the highest level in all the formats. The other two players have also been a good players at the domestic level. India loves its cricket and such kind of corruption in the sport will only decrease the popularity of the game. In the process, it is the game of cricket, which suffers vehemently.

It's not as if the BCCI has not taken action in the past. It banned players such as Mohammad Azharuddin, Ajay Sharma, Manoj Prabhakar and Ajay Jadeja with the first two being handed a life ban and the latter two given a ban for five years each. It was only last year that Azhar's ban was overturned and Jadeja's in 2003.

Lots of money is involved in the IPL with big corporate investing in this product. Cricket is a unique game where in addition to the laws, the players have to abide by the "spirit of the game", but gone are the days when the players used to play in the spirit of the game.  The standard of sportsmanship has historically been considered so high that the phrase "it's just not cricket" was coined in the 19th century to describe unfair or underhanded behaviour in any walk of life.

Fixing matches, or at least placing bets on them as a series of festival tournaments take place across the country, is not new but the act being carried out on the streets has become a favourite pastime for many. While betting – placing money on their predicted winner – is common, cash for underperformance has now hit the streets.

There is also the abiding myth that if India legalises sports betting, then the problem will vanish and fixing and player bribery will be sorted out forever. Corporate bookmakers, it is argued, will have no incentive to rig matches and tempt players. Should they do so, they will lose customers and market credibility. This sounds right in theory but, again, ignores how contemporary fixing works. Essentially, the template has changed enormously since the Cronje-Azharuddin era.

In the 1990s, fixing was straightforward: you paid a cricket team to lose a match. The captain - maybe both captains - was essential to pre-deciding the result of a game. To ensure success, you had to coordinate buying off a number of influential cricketers playing a particular match. Sometimes a bribed cricketer may not have known that his team mate too had been paid money by the same syndicate.

Whether it is match-fixing or spot-fixing, it brings disgrace to the game of cricket  As cricket has a huge fan following in the sub-continent and the latest scandal involves players of the sub-continent, the cricket authorities here need to worry a lot. The popularity of the game may not diminish because it has essentially become celebrity-centred. But the credibility of the game is eroded and this is serious.

Cricket is popular across the world and youngsters consider international players their role-models. When they are accused of foul play, it is not just their career that is affected. It also sends a wrong message to aspiring cricketers. The spot-fixing scandal has cast doubts on the integrity of cricket players, given that huge amounts of illegal money is floating in the betting market. A few individuals have demeaned the game due to their greed.

It's not difficult to extend that into a reasonable assumption that matters like integrity and always giving your best on the sporting field were part of their upbringing. Corruption in most countries is simply part of life. Western society works differently, that is plain to see. Ridding cricket of match- and spot-fixing is a much deeper issue than simply bringing in laws and harsh penalties against it. The good ol' sledgehammer to crack a nut approach will not work.

Siddhartha Shankar Mishra,

Sambalpur, Odisha

Lower Suktel dam project creating a havoc in Odisha

Lower Suktel  dam project creating a havoc in Odisha

Suktel is a tributary river of Mahanadi in Odisha, flowing in the districts of Bolangir & Sonepur. The state Govt. has been trying to build a dam named “Lower Suktel Irrigation Project (LSIP)” at G.S. Dunguripali. CWC (Central Water Commission) allotted a sum of Rs. 217.13 Crores at 1994 estimate for the same later revised to Rs. 1042 Crores in 2009. State Govt is said to have spent Rs. 300 Crores for land acquisition, of which more than 60 crores has been mis-appropriated as pointed out in the CAG Report and is under recovery process. The project is said to irrigate about 31000 hectares of land, whereas the FRL will submerge more than 4000 hectares of already existing multi-crop agricultural land, forest, best kendu (tendu) leaf production area, vegetable and paddy production area and self-reliant 30 villages of the drought prone dist.

The supporters of the project – mostly the demand coming from the Bolangir town. It is being told by the affected villages of submergence area that many of the powerful people of the town and outsiders to the region, rich man with money and muscle have purchased huge patches of land and have converted that to make profit from the compensation money. A few powerful and influential political leaders of the region have purchased hundreds of acres of land as “Benaami” (anonymous) downstream keeping in view of the future mineral processing of Iron Ore, Thermal Power Plant, Bauxite, Lead and many other valuable minerals, including gem stones.
The question arises here: an irrigation project, why is it being opposed?

Resisting villagers have given the alternate proposals – that instead of the said 30 meters tall dam, small height multiple barrages be done at multiple stages across the river. That will not submerge the fertile agricultural land, productive forest, won’t uproot people and villages, are less expensive and low maintenance in the long run. That will be more effective for irrigation, keeping drought in control of a much larger region than the big dam, and maintain the bio-diversity. Large dams not only cause big displacement, but they also create water deserts. The biggest example is Hirakud Dam in the state, where the loss incurred to the people and environment is enormous. The huge reservoir is a big water desert of the region.

In a fact finding journey to five villages, it was found that, the figures presented by the officials are misleading and full with lies. Some of the villages which the survey report states as partial submergence, checking on ground at those villages with GPS device, it was found to be under 8 meters of water during FRL, at the highest point at middle of the village. Also as with experience we have seen in Hirakud that the villages where there was never before submergence, flood of 2011 August, they were washed off, on the upper region of Hirakud Dam due to Back-water. So partial submergence is a myth during the monsoon.

People in some villages have been paid up compensation for their land, house, trees etc. The maximum amount that has been paid for per acre of agricultural land is Rs. 55,000/- + Rs. 10,000. With this price, it is almost impossible to purchase equivalent land at elsewhere. The burning example is displaced people of Tikhali Dam near Nuapada/ Khariar. Only a handful of the displaced about 10% have been able to settle at a new place. Remaining 90% people have lost their culture, society, rights to common land, cattle grazing land, forest and other common resources of human civilization. The displaced people are looked upon in an inferior manner at the new place where they go. Some pro-displacement people argue that they should move to nearby towns and live happily; but while saying so, they forget that it is impossible to live up without a neighboring society. As said by the uprooted at gunpoint people of the Tikhali (Lower Indra) dam project – “where ever we go, people kick us out. They say that we are detached flying leaves.” In a recent bizarre incident, the villagers did not even let the dead body of a displaced person being burnt at their mortuary. The dead body had to be brought back to a distance of 13 kilometers for the last rites. Many villagers still have not received any compensation whereas the dam construction is over by 70%. Those who were displaced are preferring to even come back, and rebuild their houses at the old place. Since past 5 years over a hundred school going children have been deprived of their basic right to education
Displacement by large scale water logging causes extinction – of culture, people, species, societies, forests, insects, birds, animals, reptiles, civilizations and brings in destruction, oppression, desertification, diseases, and deaths. Smaller is better, bigger is worse.

The Lower Suktel Irrigation project has always remained in controversies.  While the villagers who are going to be displaced have been agitating against the project since the day it was conceived, people – including Balangir city dwellers – who are supposed to be benefitted by the project have started their agitation in support of it.  Recently, the agitation of the pro-project groups reached one of its peaks which forced the government to take immature steps.  To pacify the pro-project agitators it sent out a construction team to the project area even as host of controversial matters, including the rehabilitation and resettlement issues, had not been addressed.  Quite naturally the villagers who fear displacement protested against it and the team had to return from the site.  This not only added fuel to the conflict but also cost to the exchequer.  
Large scale and centralized irrigation projects such as the Lower Suktel Irrigation Project are not only socio-economically unviable but also ecologically devastating.  They create large scale displacement and cause huge damage to the local environment.  They also cause climate change by sinking trees and organic matters.  In fact, while the villagers to be displaced have always raised these issues, government’s own officials have also admitted it.  Further the cost involved in such projects make them economically unviable from the state’s economy point of view.  The project, that got government approval in 1998 is to submerge 5216 ha of land in 26 villages (26 completely and 10 partially).  However, local people apprehend the submergence will cover as many as 56 villages.  A district whose forest resources have vastly depleted and where distressed migration is a common feature, this is supposed to be the only area from where people don’t migrate much because of the good quality Kendu Leaf and other forest produces they get.  We therefore urge upon the government to think of this big ecological and economic loss to the local people and stop going ahead with the project. 

In a shocking incidence the Government of Odisha has forcibly started work on the Lower Suktel Irrigation project in Balangir district.  As reports come in, about 15 platoons of police are helping the Lower Suktel Dam Division and Odisha Construction Corporation in layout of the spillways.  The local people under leadership of Lower Suktel Budi Anchal Sangram Parishad have been opposing the construction of such a large dam based irrigation project and the Chief Secretary of the state, in a recent meeting with their representatives, had assured that no work will be started without discussing with them.  “However,  i.e. on 8th April 2013, the work has been started at gun point without any such promised discussion with people taking place.  Today, as we have been informed by the struggling people, the police has arrested about 80 odd leaders of the Parishad and the forceful construction work has started.  This is undemocratic and Water Initiatives Odisha condemns this in strongest of words”, said Ranjan Panda, in a press statement.
There are alternatives to both the key objectives of this project.  Balangir has a rich history of traditional tank irrigation through surface water harvesting management systems.  Instead of such a devastating centralized large scale irrigation project it should think of creating several small check dams supported by lift irrigation technology in decentralized manner.  Bandh, Katas, Mudas and other traditional irrigation systems should be revived and renovated and linked to such systems.  Decentralized irrigation systems will not only cover more area but also help loss of huge amount of water that happens in large scale canal irrigation systems.  Further, the people themselves can own and hence maintain these systems without having to depend on the government always.  And that would involve much less cost than the estimate cost of about 1041 crores (that too 2009 rates, an increase of almost four times from the original estimate).
There are also alternatives to drinking water provision in the city of Balangir.  All tanks and ponds of the city must be freed from encroachment and pollution.  Balangir citizens have themselves said that these tanks can be used to provide drinking water to the city, as the case was in recent past.  In scarcity times and years, when surface water bodies may fail, there could be alternative arrangements in place by digging intake wells in the river.  The present system of drinking water provisioning for the city, which brings water from 50 kilometres away, is testimony to difficulties that the city dwellers face.  Without looking for local specific solutions sole dependence on the proposed Suktel Irrigation Project will always be problematic.  So, we once again urge upon the government to look for locally suitable and adaptable solutions which are economically viable and environmentally sustainable.  The other danger with creation of large reservoirs is that the industries and thermal power plants will start encroaching upon the water as it comes handy for them.  This will surely generate further conflicts in future as we have seen in Hirakud Dam.  As a result, both irrigation and drinking water provisioning will suffer.  By abandoning the Lower Suktel Irrigation project, such future conflicts can also be avoided, suggested Panda.

Work on the Lower Suktel irrigation project in Odisha was started April 11, 2013 amid public protests and heavy security. Police arrested 70 members of the people's front fighting the project as they forcibly entered the project site to try and stop the work at Pardhiapali, about 25 km from Balangir town, on Tuesday. The dam authorities had began work on the project on the Suktel river, a tributary of the Tel, on Monday. Apprehending more trouble, extra police force was deployed at the project site next day. The Odisha Construction Company officials continued with the lay out work of the spillway of the project.
At least 1,200 people of the Lower Suktel Budi Anchal Sangram Parishad (LSBASP), including women and school children, thronged the project site and protested construction of the dam spillway which they say is illegal. Those arrested included president and vice president of LSBASP, Ghunu Sahu and Udaya Singh Thakur. Superintendent of police (SP) of Balangir, R Prakash, said the arrests were made to ensure that the work of the project continues. “We neither applied any force nor did we arrest any women or children. We will see that work of the project goes on smoothly,” Prakash said.

The Rs 1,041 crore project had been hanging fire for the past 12 years due to the ongoing conflict between the pro-dam and anti-dam activists. The project, when completed, will irrigate 29,146 ha of land in Balangir and 2,684 ha in Sonepur district, covering 189 villages. Despite the arrests, people of the area said that they will continue their fight. “Let police arrest us. Still, we will come here everyday and will oppose the project work. Under no circumstances will we allow the project,” said Pabitra Gadtia, an anti-dam activist. General secretary of LSBASP, Satya Banchhor, said the government had not kept its promise. “It is unfortunate that despite assurance by the state chief secretary during the bilateral talk that LSBASP would be informed about the project status, the government had resorted to secrecy about date of commencement of the project. Moreover, the government decided to start the project at gun point,” he alleged.

LSBASP says there is no necessity of a dam. “Instead smaller traditional water harvesting structures can be made to address the irrigation problem of the farmers. The government never delivers when it comes to rehabilitation and compensation to the displaced villagers. The Rengali project and Hirakud dam projects in Sambalpur district are glaring  examples. We don’t need the dam”, said Thakur, vice president of LSBASP.

THE Orissa government has finally begun disbursing compensation to likely oustees in the lower Suktel dam project. Nineteen families of Magurbeda village in Balangir district have been handed over a rehabilitation package of more than Rs 12.5 lakh. Ironically, the first lot of beneficiaries chosen by the state authorities will be the least affected by the project.

Magurbeda is not one of the villages that will be submerged. The people of this village will, in fact, lose only 23 hectares (ha) of land. This tract is proposed to be used for constructing the offices of the dam project's officials.

When asked to explain the rationale behind this move, special officer Binaya Kumar Gadnaik said: "We are unable to give compensation to the other people because they aren't accepting land acquisition notices. Only those living in Magurbeda fell in line, and hence they received the money." Gadnaik added that even the people of Magurbeda were extending their cooperation only because they were not being displaced.
The dam issue came to the fore recently following activist Medha Patkar's visit to Dungripali village in Balangir district, where local people had launched an agitation against the project five years ago. Patkar's visit was a part the National Alliance of People's Movement programme.

The lower Suktel dam project was conceived to bring prosperity to the parched Balangir district. According to plans drawn in 1996, the dam will be built to connect the Budalagen and Jharepahad hills that straddle Suktel river. The estimated cost of the project is Rs 217 crore. It is expected to provide irrigation facilities to the district along with 179 cubic metres of drinking water to Balangir town. The reservoir of the dam will cover at least 5216 ha and it will officially lead to the submergence of 26 villages (though unofficial sources put this number at 56).
"Should we be uprooted from our land or should the government reward us for having protected the forest?" asks Ghunu Sahu, president, Lower Suktel Budi Anchal Sangram Parishad, a forum of 30 villages protesting against the project. Not only will the displacement have a bearing on the livelihoods of the people, it would also affect the biodiversity of the region. The area is known for its tendu leaf cultivation and is also rich in non-timber forest produce such as medicinal herbs, chaar, broom grass and mahua.

Environmentalist Arttabandhu Mishra of Sambalpur University is of the opinion that "unless deforestation is checked, Balangir will become a desert in two or three decades". A report of the Regional Centre for Development Cooperation (RCDC), a Bhubaneswar-based non-governmental organisation, observes that Balangir has lost its forest wealth rapidly. It notes that while officials are claiming to restore the ecological balance in this region through the dam, they are actually going to destroy one of the forested areas of the district.

On April 29 , 2013 behaviour of the police at the Lower Suktel Project site targeting the journalists and right activists is yet another indication that government wants go ahead with the project at gun point. Police had targeted every journalists who were there. It was journalist Amitabh Patra who was brutally attacked by the cops. Unfortunately Balangir SP R Prakash justifies the police action. He said Lenin Kumar was a Maoist and Amitabh Patra was an outsider who had no business here, rather he was instigating people against the administration.Since  section 144 has been declared, no one is allowed to go to the project area without taking prior permission from the authorities.
The SP said that the journalists must display their I-card while at the project site or any untoward incident may happen. In a way it is a clear message to the journalists not into the venture into the project site, or face the music. It is strange that the so called civil society of Balangir has not uttered a word on the barbaric act of Balangir police on the women, activists and the journalists. Shame on them.

According to Saket Sahu an activist The agitation against Lower Suktel Dam project was brutally attacked by striking forces on 29th , April 2013 who were in a drunken state when they faced more than 2000 villagers who had come to halt the construction work. An eminent journalist Amitabh Patra was brutally attacked and arrested. His camera has been smashed by the police. Amitabh is now in a Bolangir hospital. Editor of Nissan, Lenin Ray who was visiting the area also has been arrested. The police seem to have declared that excepting OTV no other media is allowed there.”

 Tarun Mishra of Madhyantara video news magazine said ” This barbaric state repression started when the displaced villagers gathered together on the road near Dunguripali and tried to block the path of the construction brigade and their vehicles from entering in to proposed construction site early this morning. The police forces were fully drunk and were not bothered to listen to any sane argument. The created chaos and started resorting to brutal lathi charge. When Amitabh's cameras was first smashed, he protested and wanted draw their attention to the fact that he was a reporter. But that made them furious and he was hit on the head. 30 women and 10 men have been seriously injured. Some were lying unconscious on the sand. 10 platoons of force were in action. All injured persons have been arrested. Minaketan Chand - a leading villager who once guided out Madhayantara team has also been seriously attacked by the police. His whereabouts are not known. “The area seems to have been handed over to drunken police and insane Mafia.
Around 16 people including women were arrested by the police while they were agitating against the Lower Suktel irrigation dam project. As per sources, when police and official of Odisha Construction Company, which is carrying out the construction works, were on their way to the project site, they were intercepted by the villagers at Pardhiapali.
They complained to the officials that the district administration had cheated them by not paying the compensation for their land acquired for the project. They asked the Construction officials to stop the work until the compensation is paid.
As the officials and police tried to march ahead, the anti-dam agitators opposed them leading to a scuffle. Police had to lathi charge and in the process, many women and the journalist who was covering the agitation, were injured.
The irrigation project’s design was approved almost a decade and half ago.  In all these years, even though the government could not proceed with the project, it did not do anything either to solve the drinking water and irrigation problems of the area. The current anger and agitations are therefore creation of government’s apathy.  The government should not delay further on this and talk to all the people, both the villagers who fear submergence and the people who are proposed beneficiaries.  Further, now that the project’s time line is over as on 31st March 2013, all its approvals and clearances, including environmental clearances, are invalid.  The government therefore has got no right to continue with this project without looking at the designs and impacts afresh.

There may not be any debate that the dams on a river are useful for production of electricity, but often the larger project may impose enormous ill-affect on the people living in the downstream.
Dam building has a very long history. Nearly eight thousand year old irrigation canals found near the foothills of Zagros mountains in the eastern side of Mesopotamia suggest that the farmers there may have been the first dam builders. These primitive dams might perhaps have been small weirs of brushwood and earth to divert water into canals. Evidence of dams, nearly 3000 years old, however is found in modern day Jordan, as part of an elaborate water supply system. Here, the largest dam was perhaps 4 metres high and 80 metres long. By about 1000 BC, evidence of stone and earth dams are to be found in the Mediterranean, in the Middle East, China and Central America. Romans excelled in the area, and their best works are to be seen in Spain. A 46 metre high stone dam near Alicante began in 1580 and completed 14 years later was the highest in the world for the better part of three centuries.

River work and dam building also has a long history in South Asia. The canal system from the Cauvery river in South India, the anicuts, continue to be an engineering marvel even today. Long embankments have existed in Sri Lanka since fourth century BC. One of these embankments was raised to a height of 34 metres and was the world’s highest dam for a millenium. Another embankment was raised to a height of 15 metres and had a length of 14 kilometres!
Where as dams have a very long history, large scale and concerted opposition to them is evident only since the seventies, world over. May be that is because the impacts of the post war dam building mania took about two decades to sink in. The early movements, notes McCully, were mostly inspired and led by conservationists in order to preserve wilderness areas, and many did not succeed. The notable of these struggles include the hard fought but unsuccessful campaign against the 191 metre New Melones Dam during the 1970’s, the struggle of Cree Indians against Quebec’s mammoth James Bay Project (the last two phases being abandoned due to the struggle in 1994); that against Norway’s Alta Dam between 1970 and 1981, the ongoing campaign against dams planned for Chile’s spectacular Biobio River; the Katun Dam campaign in Russia (the dam has been suspended); the violent protests by the Igorot ethnic minority in the Philippines which stopped the Chico river dams and the struggles of the local people and their supporters against dams in Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Nepal.

These are examples of opposition and struggle from democratically constituted countries. Anti dam struggles in countries with closed political systems also became a symbol for the fight against the system itself.
The struggle against the Narmada dams in India since the mid eighties has, in the words of Washington Post become a global ‘symbol of environmental, political and cultural calamity’. But Narmada is only one of a long list of examples of resistance to large dams in India.  In 1946, thirty thousand people marched against the Hirakuud dam, the first huge multipurpose dam project completed in independent India. In 1970, some 4,000 people occupied the Pong Dam construction site to demand resettlement land. The dam was completed, but fifty years later; a majority of the oustees are still to be resettled. The campaign against the Tehri dam in the Himalayas began in mid 1970s and still continues. In nearly all the cases, the opposition to the dam could not stop it, even though the people resisting were not far away conservationists, but those directly affected by displacement.  It is therefore curious that the first successful anti-dam campaign in India, against the 120-metre Silent Valley dam in Kerela, was not due to displacement, but conservation. Unlike most Indian dams, few people would have been displaced by the project, but it would have destroyed a major rainforest of the country. In the end, the concern for rainforest and its endangered inhabitant, the lion tailed macaque, persuaded the then Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi to intervene and stop the project. The campaign against the dam is significant in political terms too. The political left in India has generally kept itself away from the anti dam movement. But one of the groups in the forefront of the Silent Valley campaign was the left oriented people’s science organisation, the Kerela Sastra Sahitya Parishad (KSSP; the Kerela Science and Literature Society). The success of the Silent Valley campaign spilled over to proposed dams on the Godavari and Indravati rivers, at Bhopalpatnam, Inchampalli and Bodhgat that together would have displaced over 100,000 adivasis and flooded thousands of hectares of forests, including a tiger sanctuary. Local people, adivasis and supporting environment and human rights activists combined to have the projects suspended.     

Except for the urban slum dwellers, the rest of the poor population of India subsists mainly from the availability of some or the other form of natural resource – land for subsistence farming, bamboo, grass, leather, minerals for artisinal occupations, various biomass sources for fuel and housing needs. The best example is that of the adivasis. Living mostly in or close to the forests, their economy, culture and society is organically linked to these forests. The material that goes into making their dwellings or huts, most of the food, fuelwood for cooking and water is obtained as a free common resource from their immediate physical surroundings. Their encounter with the market is mostly at the weekly travelling haats which provide essential items like salt, kerosene for domestic lighting, and a few times a year, bare minimum clothing. Items like cooking oil, cereals, and pulses, sugar, spices and soap are luxuries, to be indulged in once in a while.
A fresh socio-economic and ecological impact assessment of this project should be done and tabled in front of the people.  The government should also work on alternative proposals and place it before the people.  It is after that only any further decision on the Lower Suktel Irrigation project be taken, taking the people of the area on board in a transparent and coherent manner.  We therefore urge upon the Govt. to immediately stop the construction work, withdraw police force from the area, release all the people who have been arrested and take suitable measures to look at the alternatives rather than going for this devastating project.

This is a serious problem and it needs expeditious check from the Government site otherwise the poor masses will have to face the music.