Saturday, February 28, 2009

Sita Sings the Blues

This wonderful animated film by Nina Paley is now available free on line. Nina describes her making of this documentary:

"I have more demons, of course. In June 2002 I moved to Trivandrum, India, following my (American) husband who had taken a job there. Upon my arrival I was confronted with his mid-life crisis, a complete emotional withdrawal. This left me without support in a city in which women were 2nd-class citizens, unable to walk alone at night, and not expected to have an identity separate from their husbands. It was in Trivandrum I encountered the Indian epic, The Ramayana, for the first time. Like many westerners, I initially considered the Ramayana little more than misogynist propaganda. Meanwhile I was in the midst of developing a new comic strip for King Features Syndicate, The Hots. After 3 months in Trivandrum, King Features flew me to their New York headquarters for a launch meeting. Then my husband dumped me by email.

Unable to return to my former apartment in San Francisco, or my new apartment in Trivandrum, I moved to Brooklyn. My professional life benefitted, as I began teaching animation at Parsons School of Design and acquiring New York freelance clients. Emotionally, however, my relocation commenced a terrible year of grief. The Ramayana took on new depth and meaning for me. It no longer resembled a sexist parable; rather, it seemed to capture the essence of painful relationships, and describe a blueprint of human suffering. My grief and longing for the man who rejected me increasingly resembled Sita's; my husband's withdrawal reminded me of Rama. In Manhattan I heard the music of Annette Hanshaw for the first time. A radio star of the late 1920's, Hanshaw specialized in heartfelt blues and torch songs. In my grief-addled state, her songs, my story, and the Ramayana merged into one: Sita Sings the Blues."


Friday, February 27, 2009

Rourkela Steel Plant construction in the 60s

"True to his style, Winkler chose the poor, deprived, marginalized Adivasi (tribal) women as his subject. Why? Because, they were, as a matter of routine, sexually abused by German fitters. In fact, his stark description blackens the glory associated so long with the Rourkela enterprise. He writes, “Countless girls aged fifteen to twenty, most of them Christian from the surrounding Adivasi villages, were enticed to the (German) fitters’ hostels as servants and seduced and sexually abused by German fitters… They soon began trading them as prostitutes… A number of pale-skinned Christian children have already been born, by the time the works are finished, Rourkela will have a flourishing community of illegitimate Indo-German children.”(The Steel Works in Rourkela and the Indigenous Adivasis—Chapter 3 in Winkler’s forthcoming book on India.) Indeed, pictures of these girls, obviously naked, were sent to Germany to allure even more German fitters to Rourkela."

From Josef Winkler Visits Kolkatta

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Video : Pakistan on the Brink

ABN Link

Slumdog - British dirty tricks?

Is Slumdog Millionaire another dirty trick by the British?

If you know a bit about the history of India, you will know the British instigated hostilities between Hindus and Muslims as a way to break up the independence movement using their time tested divide and rule strategy. This cynical ploy later led to the deaths of about 1.5 million people and the forced migration of about 20 million.

This movie was made by an Englishman who twisted the characters from original book to make the secular hero a Muslim and added in a large dose of persecution at the hands of Hindus.

Understandably the western audience is largely unaware of the realities of religious identity and secularism in India and will take this at face value. But reading the comments at various blogs and news sites you can see a clear polarization of opinions on this movie based on religion.

For example:

Here is an comment to an uninformed article by Barbara Crossette:

I am a 67-year-old ex-Indian. In 1946, when I was 4 years old, my paternal uncles, aunts and their families were massacred in cold blood, forty-eight in number in three small towns in Bihar: Telhara, Karai Perserai and Salarpur! The total death toll ran into thousands. In 1964 I personally escaped being thrown alive into an industrial furnace in the industrial city of Jamshedpur, the HQ of Tata Steel and other other heavy industries. On the same day the massacres started, similar massacres were conducted by Hindu "terrorists" in two other major industrial cities; Rourkela and Bhilai both in North East India like Jamshedpur! In 1964 the Kashmir "intifada" was two decades ahead. Osama bin Laden was in a primary school. It was 1965 when India "invaded" West Pakistan (now the only Pakistan remaining after India helped East Pakistan secede after another invasion by India). In 1964 the Kashmir cease-fire line was "quiet" in every sense of the word. Why then forced boiler crematoriums for the living? Because it was only in industrial cities like Jamshedpur an educated Indian Muslim like me could land a job on merit, like I had done.

In 1964, right after being saved by a Sikh colleague, I crossed the border into East Pakistan where I was welcomed as an unwanted refugee, but that's another story.
In 1965 I flew to Saudi Arabia after accepting the first overseas job I could land, and it here that I have lived, worked, married locally and raised kids who are now lecturers in Jeddah University.

Had the Hindu "terrorists" who are now being courted by the US allowed me to continue living and enjoying my "human, civil and citizen rights" in India, I wouldn't be sharing any "past hell" with you all!

Hindu "terrorism" is very much alive and getting healthier and stronger with every passing day.

syed salamah ali mahdi
Jeddah, Saudi Arabia


Is Ms. Crossette aware that the central character in the novel Q and A (on which Slumdog is based) is named Raj Mohammed Thomas? Despite the West's obsession with identity politics and revulsion at the caste system, religion/caste and identity have had a fluid nature in India--a point Vikas Kashyap, the author of Q and A, emphasized in naming the protagonist.

The primary reason for the backwardness of Muslims in India and indeed the world is their desire to shield and protect their women, thereby depriving them of opportunity. To read absurd subtexts can only be accomplished by an elite journalist who during her tenure in India predicted the coming disintegration of India with a confidence matched only by her colleague Judith Miller's on the presence of WMDs in Iraq.

Sumant Rawat
Pueblo , CO
02/24/2009 @ 7:18pm

Finally someone has notice and written about the pro-Muslim subtext of the film! The subtext is that Muslims in India are the victims of Hindus. This fits very well into the standard pro-Muslim line that Muslims are always victims--of Hindus, of Christians, of "colonialists," of Jews, you name it. Muslims are always victims.

Unfortunately, neither the author, Barbara Crosette, nor anyone else will tell you that Muslims slaughtered literally millions of Hindus when they invaded and conquered India centuries ago. The Hindus have a lot of pent up grievances against the Muslims in India--which, of course, does not justify the anti-Muslim pogrom portrayed in Slumdog Millionaire.

Abdul Ameer
Chicago, IL

Jackie Chan Condems 'shameful' sale of Qing dynasty sculptures

China continues to protest the sale of its stolen history. Four blogs report here.

Jackie Chan Condems 'shameful' sale of Qing dynasty sculptures

Tania Branigan
guardian uk
Thursday 26 February 2009 14.43 GMT

Jackie Chan has criticised the sale of bronze rat and rabbit sculptures. Photograph: Mast Irham/EPA

China's campaign for the return of two Qing dynasty bronzes plundered during the Opium wars received star backing today when actor Jackie Chan leapt into the fray.

The Chinese government condemned Christie's for auctioning the sculptures of rat and rabbit heads, which were sold for more than €31m yesterday to an unidentified telephone bidder in an auction of the art collection of the late fashion legend Yves Saint Laurent.

The State Administration of Cultural Heritage told state media the auction had "harmed the cultural rights and national feeling of the Chinese people", adding: "This will have a serious impact on [Christie's] development in China." It ordered officials to scrutinise the auction house's imports and exports from China.

Both Pierre Bergé, the partner of the late designer, and Christie's have stressed that the sale did not break any laws or international agreements, and a legal attempt to halt the sale failed. But Beijing argued the relics should be returned as part of the country's cultural heritage.

Official wrath was nothing compared with the anger of Chan, who told reporters in Hong Kong: "They remain looted items, no matter whom they were sold to. It was looting yesterday. It is still looting today."

Chan, who collects and has in several cases donated antiquities, said he was to start filming a movie next year about the search for, and return of, treasures from the palace. "But now we have lost two more pieces. This has made me really angry," he said, adding that the sale was "shameful".

The destruction of the magnificent imperial summer residence Yuanmingyuan remains a highly sensitive incident almost 150 years on, and the fate of its treasures a contentious issue.

But Bergé rubbed salt into the wound last week by telling the Chinese he would return the works immediately – on conditions. "All they have to do is to declare they are going to apply human rights, give the Tibetans back their freedom and agree to accept the Dalai Lama on their territory," he said.

"If they do that, I would be very happy to go myself and bring these two Chinese heads to put them in the Summer Palace in Beijing. It's obviously blackmail but I accept that."

Christie's said it regretted the administration's move to impose reprisal measures and stood by the sale. "We continue to believe that sale by public auction offers the best opportunity for items to be repatriated as a result of worldwide exposure," the firm said.

The animals, along with the 10 others in the Chinese zodiac, once made up a vast fountain in Yuanmingyuan. Water would spout from their mouths to mark the hours.

Five of the heads have been repatriated, thanks to wealthy business people, but experts fear the other five may have been destroyed.

A private group, China's Lost Cultural Relics Recovery Programme, estimates there are more than 1m relics outside the country, scattered across museums in 47 countries. It believes 10 times as many could be in private collections.

Bergé decided to auction the couple's entire collection to fund a foundation for scientific research and the fight against Aids.
Auction of looted Chinese relics hurts China's cultural rights


by Xinhua Writer Zhuang Hua

BEIJING, Feb. 26 (Xinhua) -- As two pieces of looted Chinese relics were on the stage for auction in the Grand Palace of Paris on Wednesday, a group of Chinese students gathered in front of the palace and handed out leaflets about the history of Yuanmingyuan (Old Summer Palace) and the Second Opium War.

The two bronzes are something new to the French, but history to the Chinese, Li Huan, a Chinese student studying in France told Xinhua.

Amid strong protest of the Chinese government and people, French auction house Christie's sold the Chinese relics out for 14million euros (17.92 million U.S. dollars) each to anonymous telephone bidders.

The Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) relics, bronze heads of a rabbit and a rat are among an original set of 12 sculptures that once adorned the imperial summer resort Yuanmingyuan. They were looted when the palace was burnt down by Anglo-French allied forces during the Second Opium War in 1860.

The Chinese authorities have strongly protested the auction of the relics. The Chinese Foreign Ministry said in a statement that the auction broke international conventions and seriously hurt the cultural rights and interests and the national sentiment of the Chinese people.

Giving out pamphlets about the looting of Yuangmingyuan by Western powers, Li Huan said that French people should learn more about that part of history. He noted that many French readily accepted the pamphlets. One of them said "I appreciate what you are doing, and I think all the looted relics, including these two, should be returned to China."

A group of Chinese lawyers filed a lawsuit earlier this month with the Tribunal de Grande Instance in Paris, asking for an injunction. However, the court ruled against their demand and ordered compensation to the defendant.

"Although we failed in the lawsuit, justice will not fail," Li said.

Li and two dozens Chinese students printed 5,000 pamphlets and started to distribute over the weekend to every participant at the auction.

"We want French people to understand that we are rational and our requests are legitimate," said Zhou Chao, another Chinese student at a French polytechnic institute.

Yang Yongju, president of the European Times, the flagship Chinese-language newspaper in France said it is "unacceptable to put stolen works for auction."

"These relics bear China's cultural sovereignty and its national sentiment. What at issue is not their prices. It is totally unacceptable to loot them and then put them up for auction," she said.

The views of the Chinese people were shared by many of their foreign friends.

"My heart sank when the court refused our appeal," said Bernard Gomez, president of the Association for the Protection of Chinese Art in Europe (APACE), the organization that serves as plaintiff in the lawsuit. "I hope the two relics could go home eventually," Gomez added.

The controversial auction of the two bronze heads at Christie's raised the Chinese people's concerns for the fate of their overseas cultural heritage and brought world's attention to the shameful trading of the looted relics.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry has reiterated that China has undoubted ownership to its national treasures and that the relics should be returned to China for free.

The retrieval of lost relics is one of the world's most thorny issues, which involves political, economic, cultural and international relations factors and usually takes years of strenuous and extensive efforts.

It is estimated that a total of 1.67 million pieces of Chinese relics, mostly robbed in wars, are in possession of more than 2,000 museums in 47 countries. China's State Administration of Cultural Heritage (SACH) said China will try to take back all Chinese relics stolen in wars or exported illegally in accordance with related international conventions and by all necessary means.

The Chinese government said the return of looted relics should be unconditional. However, Pierre Berge, owner of the bronzes, offered to swap the two sculptures for the application of "human rights in China and the freedom of Tibet."

"Using the pretext of human rights to infringe on Chinese people's fundamental cultural rights is just ridiculous," said Ma Chaoxu, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman at a press conference.

Bernard Brizay, a French historian and journalist, said "combining the two relics with human rights and Tibet issues has no difference with blackmailing for ransom."

The Anglo-French allied forces' plunder was a crime against China as well as the world, said Brizay, author of "1860: the Looting of the Old Summer Palace."

The Chinese people's feelings are understandable, he told Xinhua, "the two bronzes should be returned to China, no matter who got the bids," he said.

Three accused of raping 17 year old nursing student in Kerala

Thursday 26 Feb 2009:

The Kottayam Special Court will pronounce the sentence of SME ragging case today. Ranjith Vargees (24), Sherin Shamsudeen (25) and Shafeek Yousuf (24) were found guilty of various charges and were listed as accused one to three.

Kottayam Special Court Judge K Shasidharan Nair Yesterday convicted three students in connection with the ragging and sexual assault on a 17-year-old nursing student of the School of Medical Education (SME) other four to nine accused were let off. Earlier, the pronouncement of verdict was deferred by the Court Tuesday.

Earlier, as per the prosecution, six of the accused had sexually assaulted a first year nursing student in the name of ragging and three accused tried to destroy evidence and engaged in criminal conspiracy to cover up the incident.

According to Superintendent of Police S. Sreejith, the nine accused are Renjith Varghese, Sherin, Shefique Yusuf, Ashly Varghese, Robin Paul, Divin Philip (all third year nursing students at SME) SME principal K.M. Mariam, director Muraleedharan and head of the Department of Psychiatry at Kottayam Medical College Dr. Zybunneesa Beevi.

The first six of the accused have been charge sheeted under sections 376 (2g), 342, 354, 366(a), 328 and 506(2) of Indian Penal Code. The SME principal, director and head of the Department of Psychiatry have been charge sheeted under sections 120(b), 201, 202 and 218.

In addition, the accused have been charge sheeted under provisions of the anti-ragging act also.
The case was registered on November 12, 2005 and the investigation was completed within 65 days.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Pakistani Lawmaker: Burying women alive OK

By Robin McDowell

Associated Press

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Islamabad, Pakistan —- A Pakistani lawmaker defended a decision by southwestern tribesmen to bury five women alive because they wanted to choose their own husbands, telling stunned members of Parliament last week to spare him their outrage.

“These are centuries-old traditions, and I will continue to defend them,” Israr Ullah Zehri, who represents Baluchistan province, said Saturday. “Only those who indulge in immoral acts should be afraid.”

The women, three of whom were teenagers, were first shot and then thrown into a ditch.

They were still breathing as their bodies were covered with rocks and mud, according media reports and human rights activists, who said their only “crime” was that they wished to marry men of their own choosing

Zehri told a packed and flabbergasted Parliament on Friday that Baluch tribal traditions helped stop obscenity and then asked fellow lawmakers not to make a big fuss about it.

Many stood up in protest, saying the executions were “barbaric” and demanding that discussions continue Monday. But a handful said it was an internal matter of the deeply conservative province.

The incident allegedly occurred one month ago in Baba Kot, a remote village in Jafferabad district, after the women decided to defy tribal elders and arrange marriages in a civil court, according to the Asian Human Rights Commission.

Pakistan, Can You Hear Me?

Where is the conscience of a nation? Where are the protests and the million-man marches? Where are the voices that rally dormant citizens to action -- on television, in the newspapers, on Facebook even?

Outlook India
February 24, 2009

The recent suicide attack in Dera Ismail Khan that targeted the funeral of a Shia Muslim cleric, Sher Zaman, who was gunned down, was shocking enough. But what is even more shocking is the sheer passivity in the reaction of people in Pakistan to recent events in Dera Ismail Khan and Swat.

It is appalling to think that Pakistanis are ever-ready to take to the streets, shouting slogans and burning effigies, when Salman Rushdie writes something controversial or when offensive cartoons are published in Danish newspapers but are curiously silent when the funeral of a religious leader is bombed in sectarian violence. Or when Taliban forces capture Swat and start beheading people for religious insubordination.

Where is the conscience of a nation? Where are the protests and the million-man marches? Where are the voices that rally dormant citizens to action -- on television, in the newspapers, on Facebook even?

If no one protests, it just sends a signal that this is OK. It is OK to bomb a Shia funeral, but it is not OK to write an irreverent story or draw cartoons that poke fun at religion. Where are people�s priorities? How much deeper into the abyss is Pakistan going to sink?

Islamic fundamentalism�s biggest draw is that it is a utopian alternative to the miserable realities of people�s lives. But everywhere that fundamentalists have come to power, their sheen has worn off. Think of Bangladesh, Turkey and Iran. People realize that mullahs can preach all day, but they can�t run a country. So if sectarianism, and militancy in the north-west areas is Pakistan�s big problem, then perhaps it is also Pakistan�s big solution.

Maybe the harsh Zia era was not enough. Maybe what Pakistan needs, finally, is for the Islamists to actually come to power, impose draconian edicts and provide the country with a final inoculation against excessive religiosity.

Maybe then, after suffering through medieval laws against adultery and blasphemy, ordinary Pakistanis will shed their passivity, agitate to separate the state from the tentacles of the mosque and loudly cry no to religious education in high schools, to religion lines on their passports and to rhetoric that urges them to subordinate their citizenship to their religious beliefs. Perhaps Pakistan needs a bitter pill that will forever taint this notion of the religious right being the ultimate defenders of flag and faith.

At the heart of Pakistan�s crisis is a national tendency to over-emphasize religion, whether in politics, or at home. Sure, religion can be a good thing. But this seems to be a case of too much of a good thing. It will only help if Pakistan begins a massive religious re-discovery movement, its own vernacular version of Protestantism.

But must we go down that dangerous path? Is it really not possible for people to realize what is happening to what is left of their country? Atrocities like the bombing of funerals and the usurping of freedoms from the people of Swat provide opportunities for everyone to clearly see the many evils of excessive religious zeal and of outfits like the Taliban.

Pakistan is the global epicenter of Islamic fundamentalism because of a dysfunctional political system and its fundamental challenge of being an Islamic state since its inception. Even today, there are too many in Pakistan�s upper echelons � bureaucrats, politicians, power players, journalists and intellectuals � who are uncomfortable with the prospect of secularism, modernism, growth and an open society.

Pakistan�s elites are a paradox. They are largely secular and confident in their professional and social roles. In New York and London, they announce themselves as a part of the modern world.Pakistani men and women throng Wall Street banks and the hottest Manhattan nightclubs. But in Karachi they are more guarded and cautious, and readily cow down to orthodoxy. How they change and fit their modern lifestyles into parochial Pakistan is one of the greatest exercises in hypocrisy.

But as they continue to avert their eyes, Pakistan is being overrun with cruel, medieval attitudes toward women, education, economic liberalization and modernity in general. Bringing change to Pakistan � reforming a political system and revolutionizing an entire culture � sounds like an impossible challenge. But all the mullahs in the world can�t stand up to the combined will of an agitating and determined citizenry.

There are positive signs coming from Pakistan, however. Yeh Hum Naheen � an NGO headed by producer and media consultant Waseem Mahmood � has put together a musical movement that stands up against terrorism and tells the world that the Pakistani people sing the songs of peace. They claim that more than 62 million people have put their name to the organization�s petition against terrorism, more than the number who voted in the last election in Pakistan. And as Barkha Dutt eloquently pointed out in a recent column, "Pakistan�s media understands that if it doesn�t speak up, their country�s existential crisis could spiral out of control." In light of the tremendous dangers at hand, we must concede that the media in Pakistan has done an extraordinary job, she writes.

But clearly more Pakistanis must come out on the streets to protest against the Taliban, against violence and against the murder of their own people. And for peace and dignity and friendship with their neighbours. Let them pressure their state to take action and soon enough the world will unite around their courage and share in their battle.

But if they decide to stay at home and say nothing, they will be sanctioning evil itself.

Rakesh Mani is a New York-based writer.
Shia trader, three sons killed in Quetta attack
Rescuing Pakistan from the Taliban
Enemy of my enemy
Intrigue lurks below surface
Army and Taliban reconsider
U.S. training Pakistan's military

Organ trafficking in Kosovo

Serbs seek info from Albania on organ trafficking
Mon Feb 23, 2009

BELGRADE, Feb 23 (Reuters) - Serbia will seek more information from Albanian authorities about alleged trafficking of human organs taken from Kosovo Serbs during the 1999 conflict, an official said on Monday.

Last October, a top Albanian prosecutor rejected Serbia's request for an investigation into the claims made by former U.N. war crimes prosecutor Carla Del Ponte, who said in a book that her team had investigated reports that around 300 Serbs held in Albania had had organs removed, apparently for trafficking.

Albanian prosecutors said both local authorities and an investigator of the United Nations war crimes tribunal had already investigated the issue but found no evidence.

"New evidence shows that alleged crimes took place in northern Albania and we will send an official inquiry to prosecutors in Tirana seeking additional information about our findings," Bruno Vekaric, a spokesman for Serbia's War Crimes Prosecutor's office, told Reuters.

Vekaric said Serbian war crimes prosecutors will present new evidence to the Council of Europe, Europe's main human rights watchdog, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and the United Nations Security Council.

A set of photos apparently obtained from an international official serving in Kosovo, showed members of the now-defunct Kosovo Liberation Army which fought Serbian troops during the 1998-1999 conflict, in locations in Albania's north, he said.

Vekaric said the Serbian authorities believe the photos corroborate their view that organs were taken from Serbs in northern Albania.

"This only added to what we already know that the KLA troops had training camps, logistics bases and makeshift clinics on the Albanian soil," Vekaric said.

In 2004, U.N. investigators searched a house belonging to a family in Albania's north, probing involvement of KLA fighters in trafficking of organs taken from Kosovo Serbs seized during NATO's 1999 bombing launched to end ethnic killings.

They uncovered blood stains, gauze and syringes, but villagers, aided by an Albanian prosecutor, stopped them from searching further, Del Ponte's book said. (Reporting by Aleksandar Vasovic; Editing by Gordana Filipovic and Phakamisa Ndzamela)

See also Earlier report

Chandar to Chand - Ishq ka bhoot

Holy Matrimony: Indian Politician Converts, Takes Second Wife, Vanishes
Mr. Mohan, a Hindu, Became a Muslim to Marry His Mistress; Then Things Got Messy

Wall Street Journal
February 24, 2009

CHANDIGARH, India -- As India was reeling from the Mumbai terrorist attacks in December, Chander Mohan, deputy chief minister of the northern state of Haryana, made a shocking announcement.

Mr. Mohan, whose overwhelmingly Hindu state of 23 million people is among India's most prosperous, declared that he had converted to Islam. The 43-year-old father of two added that he had also just wed a second wife, another Muslim convert.

What's happened since has all the trappings of a Bollywood plot, replete with an alleged kidnapping and mysterious disappearances. The drama's serious subtext shows how crucial religious identity remains in a country that bills itself as the world's largest secular democracy.

Serving his fourth term in Haryana's legislature, Mr. Mohan was widely touted by supporters as a future chief minister, the equivalent of a U.S. governor. But immediately after the conversion announcement, he was fired from his job and relieved of his security detail. The Haryana government also dismissed his new wife, 37-year-old lawyer Anuradha Bali, from her position as the state's assistant advocate-general.

The official reason for both sackings was that Mr. Mohan, now known as Chand Mohammad, and Ms. Bali, who now goes by the Muslim name of Fiza, failed to perform their government duties. Both dispute this assessment.

"This was all just because we became Muslim. There is no other good reason," said Ms. Bali in a recent interview, chewing gum while fiddling with her two cellular phones.
Twists on TV

Mr. Mohan's sympathizers, who have followed the twists of the case on Indian TV networks, largely agree. Their logic: It was politically untenable to have a Muslim deputy chief minister, a post equivalent to a U.S. lieutenant-governor, in a state like Haryana. Some of the worst violence between Hindus and Muslims occurred in this part of the subcontinent during its partition along religious lines in 1948.

Mr. Mohan "has lost his Hindu vote bank, and he would lose the next election here if he stays a Muslim," says 52-year-old engineer Jeevan Singh, who resides in the politician's Panchkula constituency and voted for Mr. Mohan in previous elections.

The Haryana government's information secretary, K.K. Khandelwal, denied that religion was a factor. He said that Mr. Mohan and Ms. Bali had been fired simply for not doing their jobs. Yet, he added: "In public life you have to maintain certain standards and cannot behave like Romeo and Juliet. This became a matter of jokes. The government -- and the chief minister -- had to save their image."
Met at Juice Stall

A divorcee, Ms. Bali says that her affair with the politician began after the two met by chance at a juice stall in 2004. She says she yielded to Mr. Mohan's insistent messages and love letters -- some of which, she claims, were written in blood. Mr. Mohan's Hindu wife, Seema Bishnoi, was aware of the budding love story for several months and in mid-2008 confronted Ms. Bali, demanding an end to the affair, according to Ms. Bali and Mr. Mohan's spokesman. Ms. Bishnoi couldn't be reached for comment and didn't respond to a note left at her home.

Ms. Bali, a brunette who wears jeans and keeps her hair uncovered, says that Mr. Mohan finally left his home last October, saying that he wanted to start a new life with her.

Indian law, however, prohibits bigamy and makes divorce a complicated procedure. It might have been especially complicated in Mr. Mohan's case because his house and numerous other assets are registered in the name of Ms. Bishnoi and their children.

Yet, there was a loophole: India's 150 million Muslims, unlike other Indian citizens, are exempted from the secular legislation in family matters. Instead, they are governed by Islamic personal law, or sharia, which permits Muslim men to have up to four wives. While Indians are free to change their religion, conversion to Islam solely for the purpose of marriage is deemed illegal.
Secret Vows

Ms. Bali insists she and Mr. Mohan -- whose whereabouts are currently unknown -- converted weeks before the marriage because they both embraced the Muslim faith. "I intend to remain a Muslim until my death," she says.

The two exchanged vows on Dec. 2 in a secret ceremony in the town of Meerut, across the state line in neighboring Uttar Pradesh. The wedding, apart from upending Haryana politics, quickly set off a battle of rival fatwas among India's top Muslim clerics.

Maulana Habib ur-Rehman, Indian Punjab's senior cleric and the imam of the Ludhiana Grand Mosque, described Mr. Mohan's conversion as a fraud that "insulted Islam and hurt the religious feelings of Muslims." He was later contradicted by scholars at the Darul Uloom Waqf seminary in Deoband, one of India's most respected Islamic authorities. They ruled that the marriage was perfectly valid and condemned Mr. Mohan's dismissal as a "grave injustice."

Mr. Mohan's father, a former chief minister and one of Haryana's most influential politicians, has said publicly that he disowns his son.

Despite condemnations, the new couple enjoyed a brief moment of glory in the weeks after the wedding. At a packed news conference, Ms. Bali argued that Mr. Mohan had chosen the honorable route -- unlike some other Indian politicians who have been known to keep mistresses.

On Jan. 25, the two organized in Chandigarh a massive religious ceremony attended by Muslim, Hindu and Christian clerics. Speaking to thousands of attendees, they proclaimed that all religions were equally valid and worthy of respect, and that religious hatred had no place in Indian society.

Then, three days later, Mr. Mohan disappeared.
Kidnapping Report

A distraught Ms. Bali filed a police report, alleging that her husband had been kidnapped by his relatives. Days later, Mr. Mohan surfaced -- at the house of his brother in a Haryana suburb bordering Delhi. He told an Indian TV crew that he now sought to reconcile with his first wife and children, and referred to himself by his Hindu name. Shortly after the broadcast, Ms. Bali ended up in a hospital, overdosing on sleeping pills. "My life is totally ruined," she said.

After the hospitalization, Mr. Mohan gave another TV interview -- his last public appearance. In those comments earlier this month, he said that he's still a Muslim and that he remains married to Ms. Bali. Amid the media hoopla, India's federal railways minister, Lalu Prasad, who heads a major party in the ruling coalition, pitched in. He said that the affair highlighted the perils of love marriages -- and urged young Indians to let parents alone match them to their future spouses.
Fugitive Husband

Meanwhile, Ms. Bali, unemployed and living with her mother, has filed with police a criminal complaint against her fugitive husband. She accused him of fraud and invoked an Indian law that considers sex obtained under false pretenses, such as a marriage promise, as rape. "Chand has only seen a woman in love -- he has not yet seen my other side, a woman in anger."

This week, Indian police received in response to Ms. Bali's complaint a fax which they believe to be from Mr. Mohan. In the two-page letter, signed with both his Hindu and Muslim names, Mr. Mohan claimed to be somewhere in Britain for "medical treatment" and that he never deserted, defrauded or raped Ms. Bali. "However," he added, "I must admit I am deeply hurt by her conduct."
—Vibhuti Agarwal in New Delhi contributed to this article.

Deoband slams Chand Mohammad, calls him lowly
2 Feb 2009
Times of India
by Manjari Mishra

LUCKNOW: If Chand Mohammad becomes Chandra Mohan once again, where does it leave Fiza? Though the former Haryana deputy CM — who's serenading his first wife after the high-voltage conversion and nikah drama last December — would like to keep both women happy, the ulema are certainly not amused.

Aghast by Chand Miyan's flip-flop, a panel of ulema from Darul-Ifta (the fatwa department of the Islamic seminary Darul-Uloom Deoband) slammed the politician for his attempt to "hoodwink both man and maker". The edict was severe. "Chand Mohammad, it's clear, embraced Islam to avoid legal complications that would have followed his second marriage. Yeh nihayat hi giri hui harkat hai (this was a very lowly act)," they said and added that his action needs to be condemned.

"If he renounces Islam and goes back to his faith, Fiza is free to wed again," they said. The nikah, under the circumstances, will be deemed `khariz' (annulled) without resorting to observance of any other formality, they maintained. But before Fiza opts for remarriage, the ulema also made it incumbent upon her to "observe the mandatory three months and 10 days of ‘iddat' (the interval to rule out pregnancy of a divorced woman), which could mean observing purdah and staying at home for the stipulated time. Fiza, they said, was welcome to contact the sarai court `Dar-ul-Qaza' for further action in this regard.

The fatwa was pronounced by sadar mufti of Dar-ul-Ifta Maulana Ehsan Kasmi along with Mufti Maulana Nadeem Akhtar, Mufti Maulana Shah Kaisar, Mufti Umeli Naib and Islamic scholar Najeebul Bazvi, in response to a query sent to the seminary over the fate of the controversial nikah amid speculations that there could be trouble in the paradise.

The ulema's stance is in stark contrast to the one taken two months ago. On December 10, 2008, an expert panel, including Mufti Maulana Ehsan Kasmi, had ruled that "conversion to Islam before marriage by the former deputy CM did not raise doubts about his bona fide. Although it's not possible to fathom the secrets of one's heart, there is enough evidence to suggest that Chand Miyan did not resort to conversion for perpetrating a fraud."

More from Babarindian womenagainstsharia

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Auction of Gandhi's Items

Indians Decry Auction of Gandhi's Items

By Rama Lakshmi
Washington Post

Tuesday, February 24, 2009; A08

NEW DELHI -- Indians are expressing outrage over a New York auction that is set to sell some of the most personal belongings of India's great independence leader Mohandas K. Gandhi -- the gaunt, bare-chested man whose ascetic life defied materialism.

The auction is a travesty for many Indians, for whom Gandhi is a godlike figure, and some in India's Parliament have called for the government to either stop the auction or put in the highest bid to get back the nation's iconic mementos.

The bidding for Gandhi's distinctive metal-rimmed round spectacles, his leather sandals, a 1910 sterling Zenith pocket watch, and a brass bowl and plate is scheduled for March 5 and 6 in New York.

Gandhi's philosophy of nonviolence moved millions of Indians to rise against more than 200 years of oppressive British rule.

"By auctioning his things, we are going totally against what Gandhiji stood for. It is as if we are trying to buy a piece of Gandhiji," said Varsha Das, director of the National Gandhi Museum in New Delhi, using a suffix with Gandhi's name as a mark of respect. "He never believed in possessing things, except for a few things he wore. He was absolutely against materialism and commercialism. It is more important to disseminate his message, to learn something from his life, rather than just possess his objects," added Das, a member of a government committee that is examining the issue.

The items will be auctioned together by Antiquorum Auctioneers, with a starting price of $20,000 to $30,000. "The watch, the bowl and the plate were given by Gandhi to his grandniece Abha Gandhi while he was still alive. She, in turn, willed it to her daughter Gita Mehta," Michelle Halpern, the public relations and marketing manager for Antiquorum, said in a telephone interview. But she declined to reveal any of the sellers' names. Gandhi was assassinated in 1948 by a Hindu radical and died in Abha Gandhi's arms.

Halpern said the eyeglasses were given as a gift to Col. Muhammad Mahabat Khanji III, who ruled a princely Indian state called Junagadh, when he asked Gandhi for inspiration at an ashram in 1930. "Gandhi said to him, these were the eyes that had given him vision to free India," Halpern said.

She said the auction house has letters of authenticity for all the items.

Indian lawmakers expressed bewilderment at how such precious objects of Indian heritage had landed in foreign auction houses.

In 2007, a similar controversy erupted when the London auction house Christie's sold Gandhi's last letters, written about two weeks before his death. The Indian government, under pressure from lawmakers, acquired the letters for an undisclosed sum.

This time, the auction has triggered a debate over whether the Indian government should bid each time the nation's cultural artifacts come up for auction abroad. Some have argued that if the government bids, it will encourage commerce in Gandhi's possessions. Others have urged wealthy Indians to help bring back the objects.

See also: Junagadh nawab's great grandson wants Gandhi glasses auctioned

At the Oscars four years ago, now a prostitute

25 Feb 2009,
Jhimli Mukherjee Pandey & Caesar Mandal,
Times of India

KOLKATA: When A R Rahman walked up to receive the golden Oscar statuette, her eyes misted over. Preeti Mukherjee knows exactly how it feels. Four years ago, she was on the same stage at Los Angeles’ Kodak Theatre, where she, too, had hugged the statuette and cried tears of joy. She hasn’t missed a single awards ceremony since. On Monday, she woke up in the wee hours to catch the live telecast — before starting the day’s grind at Sonagachhi.

Preeti, who goes by the name Puja in Asia’s largest red light district, had got sucked into the sex trade just a year after her brush with the Oscars.

In 2005, Preeti was part of the Oscar-winning documentary Born Into Brothels, directed by Zana Briski. The child cast of nine had cheered so loud that it still rings in her ears. And she still remembers the warmth of the hug Zana gave her as the award was announced.

“It seems like a fairy tale now. I still see it in my dreams. I get goosebumps when I remember the heart-stopping moment when the award was announced. All of us kept screaming with joy. Zana aunty made sure we, too, went along to collect the statuette. My head was swimming, there were so many eyes on us, the deafening applause, so many cameras flashing...” Preeti recalls.

In 2002, when not yet into her teens, Briski and Ross Kauffman chose her in the cast of nine to teach them photography and get a close-up view of their world and that of their mothers. The film was completed in 2004 and went on to win about 20 international awards, capped by the Oscar.

When the film was nominated, the directors flew the kids to Los Angeles. Life was happy for some time and the directors tried their best to rehabilitate the kids. Preeti, who was in high school, and the rest got an offer to stay back in the US and study. Some did. She backed out.

“Aunty (Zana) gave a lot of money by cheque to my mother and asked her to release me, but she was unwilling. I am a girl and an only child and my mother wouldn’t let go. Call it family pressure if you will. It’s quite simple, really,” Preeti said, with a dismissive shrug and a short laugh. “So, you see me here.”

Abhijit, one of the kids in the film, now studies in New York University. Another girl goes to school there. Preeti is in touch with both of them. Two others are studying at Future Hope, run by a charitable trust. One has got married while another girl, who was with an internationally funded NGO, has disappeared.

Dressed in jeans and a trendy shirt, Preeti could pass for any other collegegoer, until the whiff of smoke and alcohol in her breath hits you. And you look at her eyes — beautiful, aggressive and defiant.

“At this age, I have a flat in Salt Lake, a laptop, costly phones and plenty of money. What do I lack?” she looks you square in the eye. “Zana aunty and I are in touch by email. She was upset that I, too, had joined the trade like my mother, something she wanted to save me from. But this trade has really paid off for me.” A sign of her ‘prosperity’ — she has hired rooms in Prem Kamal, one of the most expensive Sonagachhi buildings.

Mother Rakhi lives in the opposite building. Preeti pays for her living expenses. Rakhi says she wanted a “normal” life for Preeti. She still has a fading photo of Preeti with the Oscar statuette stuck on a wall. “That is all I have left of her..,” she says, tears in her eyes.

There is no clear answer as to how and why Preeti became a sex worker. Police records say she was rescued from a racket while a minor, sent to a juvenile home from where she was handed to her mother by the state child welfare committee.

Police say she’s now part of a major sex racket that involves extremely powerful people, who will never let her escape into a sunnier world. Behind the I-care-a-damn stare, you can see a fleeting longing in her eyes — a longing for freedom.

Phoren Trips by Politicians (not only desis)

Straits Times
Feb 23, 2009
Caught on video

BEIJING - CHINA has sacked a senior official for misconduct after Internet users uploaded a video of a government delegation enjoying a tour of the Pyramids in Egypt on a public-funded 'study' trip, local media said on Monday.

Overseas 'study' trips have long been a perk enjoyed by Chinese bureaucrats, with travel itineraries often skewed more towards pleasure than business.

Internet-led witch-hunts by Chinese surfers, known as 'human flesh search engines', have gleefully exposed a string of officials enjoying excessive leisure time on the public purse, leading to media storms and sackings.

A post titled 'Overseas study or overseas travel?' spread across Chinese portals in recent days shows a video of 13 public servants from Zhaoqing, a city in southern Guangdong province, living it up on a 14-day tour to Africa and the Middle East in 2007.

Apart from taking in the Pyramids and the Sphinx in Egypt, the 17-minute video posted on one blog on major Chinese webportal (http: shows them touring Table Mountain in Capetown, riding jeeps in the desert, and visiting an ostrich farm.

One scene shows officials laughing and dancing with models on a cat-walk in Istanbul. Another shows them touring Dubai's iconic Burj Al Arab hotel.

Narrated by unseen male and female narrators and sometimes accompanied by hip-hop music, the video appears to be specially edited to package the officials' holiday memories.

The delegation, led by a Communist Party official in Duanzhou district, also includes officials of the local government's finance and legal affairs bureaux and 'discipline and inspection' office, the department responsible for checks and balances.

Each of the officials' titles appears in the video, but the names are obscured by red. It was unclear how the video came to circulate on the Internet. The city's disciplinary office had confirmed the trip had been funded by public money and sacked Duanzhou's deputy Communist Party secretary, a report by the Guangzhou Daily posted on ( said.

Other officials were under investigation and had been ordered to pay back the money for trip, which amounted to some 450,000 yuan (S$100,000), the report said. -- REUTERS

Stolen Artifacts - how to do it right.

Take note India:

China's fight over looted relics may become major controversy
24 Feb 2009

Saibal Dasgupta,

BEIJING: The Chinese foreign ministry on Tuesday joined forces with a group of Chinese lawyers, who have been trying to stop Christie's from auctioning two bronze statues looted from Beijing 150 years back. The lawyers have been overruled by a Paris court, but the Chinese government is now trying to make it a political issue.

The emerging drama is set to encompass the entire world of art relics that might one day question the holding of Indian relics like the Kohinoor in foreign museums and drawing rooms. Sotheby’s, another auction house, is expected to auction the 144-year old Pearl Carpet of Baroda in mid-March while items used by Mahatma Gandhi's is also due for auction.

With the Paris court giving the go-ahead, Christie's is due to auction two Qing dynasty bronze animal heads tomorrow. The bronze heads depicting a rabbit and a rat were looted from Beijing's Summer Place by British and French forces in 1860.

"The western powers have plundered a great amount of Chinese cultural relics in wars, including many precious items robbed from the Old Summer Palace. All these should be returned to China," Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu said on Tuesday.

The statement suggested that China was ready to go beyond the auction of these two bronze heads and demand the return of thousands of art and cultural relics looted from the country. If Beijing earns success with the two bronze heads, it might open up a Pandora's Box with several countries like India demanding the return of their relics.

"It is the international community's consensus as well as the basic cultural rights and interest of the people of the original owning country of cultural assets to protect cultural relics and return them to the original owning countries," Ma said.

Christie’s has said that the sale is legal and it would go ahead with the auction on Wednesday. They are expected to fetch between $10 million to $13 million apiece.

Cultural relics have figured in political controversies in India as well. A R Antulay, as Maharashtra chief minister, had made an issue of the Bhavani sword of Shivaji and vowed to bring it back from the United Kingdom.

The Chinese government and some local businessmen have been very pro-active on this score. They have purchased a sizable amount of old relics taken from the country in auctions across the world. An entire state-run museum in Beijing is full of old relics that have been brought back from other parts of the world. But the government is finding it increasingly difficult to pay high prices to get them back. Hence, the battle over cultural rights.

Slumdog is Oscar winner.

Is the celebration in India justified, is Slumdog really an Indian film? Mutiny puts it well.

But you wouldn't know it from reading the gushing Indian media!

Here is a take from the British media.

And one from Salman Rushdie

Rushdie: 'Slumdog' laden with impossible scenes

February 23, 2009
ATLANTA (AP) — Famed novelist Salman Rushdie apparently wasn't too impressed with the Oscar-winning film "Slumdog Millionaire," telling an Atlanta audience it "piles impossibility on impossibility."

Rushdie, who spent years in hiding after Iran's Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini called for the author's death in 1989, made the remarks Sunday during a speech to more than 1,000 people at Atlanta's Emory University. The author criticized other Oscar winners adapted from books, including "The Reader" and "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button."

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports the 61-year-old author of "The Satanic Verses" complained about several scenes, including one in which characters wind up at the Taj Mahal — 1,000 miles from the previous scene.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Beheadings and Islam

Couples Beheaded in Pakistan and Thailand ..... and policemen in Saudi Arabia.

Muslim Domestic Violence in America

From NPR (USA) (Audio)

Many were shocked by the beheading of Aasiyah Hassan, wife of a Muslim television executive in New York this week. Hassan's husband has been charged with second-degree murder.

Host Scott Simon talks with Robina Niaz, the founder and executive director of Turning Point, the first non-profit agency to address domestic abuse in New York City's Muslim population.

Apolgists for Islam claim this is not an Islamic act

700 Year old Shiv Temple occuped in Pakistan

Daily Times (Pakistan)
February 18, 2009

KARACHI: The caretaker of the seven centuries old Shiva Temple in Gujarat Colony, near Islamia College on Jail Chorangi Road, Jamshed town, has alleged that influential builders have occupied the temple’s land.

Ashok Kumar, the young caretaker of the Shiva Temple, said that, in the past, the temple was spread over two acres of land, which was now occupied by influential builders, leaving just a small piece of land for the temple.

Elderly Baalchand Kangrani, a pundit of the temple said that he shifted to the temple with his family in 1999. “The temple was in a deplorable condition as an angry mob had attacked it in reaction to the demolishing of the Babri Masjid in India by Hindu extremists in 1992,” said Kangrani, adding that the local Hindus donated for the reconstruction and rehabilitation of the temple.

The temple’s records reveals that it was built in the late 1930s and the foundation stone on the main gate states that in 1943, a famous jeweler of the city, Seth Shivjibhai Thakursibhai and his son Soni Hirjibhai Shivjibhai JP sponsored a compound wall and the tiles of the temple.

The temple has a vast courtyard which the Hindus use for worship and religious programmes. According to Kumar, the temple committee has approached different ministers for help in reclaiming the temple’s land but even the Hindu ministers refused to help. The caretaker claimed that the builders have occupied the temple’s land with the support of Provincial Minister for Excise and Taxation Mukesh Kumar Chawla’s father and former politician Bhagwandas Chawla.

“In the past, we requested Bhagwandas to help the temple committee so that the temple’s land could be saved. We even gave him the necessary details and documents, however, since then we have not seen him and later heard that an influential builder paid him a heavy sum of money for permission to use the land,” said Kumar.

When this scribe contacted the excise minister to get his version of the story, he rejected the allegation. “It is a false and baseless allegation and if the caretaker can prove the allegations I will personally help obtain the land,” said Chawla.

See also here

Friday, February 20, 2009

Uniqe News Site

If you have not tried out SiloBreaker for news connections - click on the link for a whole new experience.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Hindu Nationalists:Indigenous Resilience

By Brannon Parker

I am currently in Mumbai, India and have been here in India for the past three months. I am here doing research on the tribal cultures of India. I actually arrived in Mumbai about 4 hrs before the terror attacks took place. The mood is quite somber and the people are frustrated. Despite all that, the Indian people continue with their lives. I would compare it to the mood most Americans have when they hear about or see a horrific car accident. The fact is terror has been feasting on India for quite some time now. Approximately 70,000 Indians have died due to this onslaught of terror.

It is disheartening to see alternative news portals broadcasting the Main Stream Media’s vilification of the Hindu Nationalists. In sync with the Globalists agenda, they have latched onto the Hindus as the new whipping boys. It is also strange that despite India being hit by terror for decades, only now the suddenly concerned Westerners are paying attention. What is unfortunate is that these same people are bandying about theories of Indian involvement.

Maybe if this were the first and only attack, people such speculation would have merit. Out of ignorance of the reality in India they pass arround anti-Indian propaganda that suits their mistrust of media and understandable interest in knowing the truth. Recently on Dec 2nd, another terror attack occurred in Assam, India. Now why didnt that get any play in the world media. Where are all the theorists on that attack?

Anti-Indian Propaganda is making the rounds claiming that Hindu Nationalists were involved in the Mumbai attacks.Please consider. If such people were an all powerful group capable of International terrorism or even domestic terrorism why do the very same corporate media outlets attack them? The same corporate media that gave us Obama and Osama, the lies about 9/11, Iraq, Iran, Georgia etc spend a disproprotionate effort in demonizing the Hindu Nationalist groups. A majority of Indian media is owned by the very same corporates that control the Western media. Rupert Murdoch owns about 6 TV stations here. The Indian media is blatantly hostile to the RSS, BJP, VHP and all other Hindu Nationalist groups.

It is because these Hindu Nationalists are dedicated to an India that is based on Indigenous traditions and the Indian way of life. Contrary to the media and Communists-Islamic-pseudo-secular propaganda machine’s claims these Hindus do not see themselves as a religious based group. They thus consider any Indian, regardless of their way of worship as Hindus. The fact is nearly all Indian Muslims and Christians have always been Indians. They merely changed their methods of worship and are thus considered as Muslim Hindus and Christian Hindus.

This is evident from the fact that Naqvi, the Chairman of the BJP, the Hindu Nationalist Party is a Muslim. During the Gujarat riots, that are used as proof that the BJP pursues a genocidal anti-Muslim idealogy, the BJP Prime Minister of India, Vajpayee appointed a Muslim, Dr. Kalam as the President of India. Time magazine responded by declaring Vajpayee as a drunkard, unfit to rule such an important nation like India. The testimony of prime witnesses used to blame Narendra Modi, the Chief Minister of Gujarat, for the riots, revealed that they were pressured and coerced by Teesta Setalvaad to lie in court. The case collapsed. Yet still the anti-traditionalists continue to point to these very claims that have been repudiated by the Muslim witnesses. When people depend on lies to make their case, one is wise to question their credibility.

The Nanavati Commision, after years of investigation, has given a clean chit to the BJP administration.The only ‘proof’ used to discredit the BJP comes from its political enemies and the Pakistanis. If you want to accept that as proof go ahead. Yet if one believes it is unbiased they are only fooling themselves and throwing fairness and justice out the window. Another lie that is constantly bandied about is that the Sangh Parivar killed Gandhi. This is based on the fact that the assasin had been a member of the RSS 20 years earlier. He had also been a member of the Congress party yet none attempt to link the Congress party to the killing. In fact the RSS has repeatedly taken media outlets to court over these attempts at defamation and won every time. For those who discount this, being biased against the Indian judicial system, the UK courts also agreed that the RSS had nothing to do with the assasination of Gandhi. In fact the whole effort to tie the RSS to the crime is reminicent of the Cointelpro operations done against the American Indian Movement. AIM.

As far as Indian Muslims and Christains are concerned, they are considered just as much Indian as any Hindu. The Sangh Parivar’s Rashtriya Muslim Manch is proof of this. This group is a dedicated group of Muslim Indian Nationalists. They recognize they are Indians first, above and beyond any other identity. According to the Sangh leadership, the only authentic minority groups in India are the Parsis and Jews who migrated here from Iran and areas in West Asia .

Indian Nationalism

Efforts to defame the Hindu Nationalists as anti-Muslim and anti-Christian have been proven to be part of Pakistan’s ISI operations. In 2000, Christian churches were bombed throughout South India. The media went into a frenzy blaming the BJP and other Hindu Nationalist groups. The blasts were, in reality, masterminded by a Pakistan-based Deendar Anjuman group. The group had planned a series of attacks on churches in Bangalore , Hubli and Gulbarga . Some people, led by key person Ibrahim, were caught by the city police when the bomb, which they were carrying to plant in a church, exploded. As a result two people died and Ibrahim seriously injured. Anti-christian and anti-hindu pamphlets used to enrage public sentiment were also found in the van. The accused believed that blasts at churches in India would trigger a civil war between Hindus and Christians. A religious leader from Afghanistan would invade and conquer India , which would be converted into an Islamic country. On November 30, 2008, 11 of these terrorists were given the death sentence.

The Hindu Nationalists are authentic Indian Patriots. They are demonized as racists and fascists merely based upon their Love of country and culture. Attempts are being made to blame Hindus for the Mumbai terror attacks. The ludicrous ‘proof’ of the attackers being Hindu is based on a photo of one terrorist. He is displaying a red string on his wrists. The Chinese Government media was the first to float this theory and Pakistan is spreading it. How difficult is it for the terrorists to intentionally wear and display such an identifying marker? In my opinion this is part of the campaign to demonize the Hindu Nationalists. The intention is quite clear. India ’s enemies have Think tanks dedicated to this kind of psychological warfare.

Muslims Love the Koran and their Whiskey too

As for the claims that the Mumbai Attackers drank beer at Leopold’s cafe, just before they began their massacre, the employess and owner who were there, stated the rumor to be a total fabrication. There are also claims that they rented rooms at the Nariman House and ordered liquor. These claims appear to be false as well. Yet the fact is when a Jihadist is on a mission, they are allowed to use any means, including acts considered haram (forbidden) to Muslims, such as drinking, lying and killing in the cause of Islam.

As for Muslims and drinking, a friend of mine, who happens to be from a well to do Indian Muslim family frequently drank alchohol and partied hard. I actually first met him at a night club/hooka lounge. I asked him about his drinking and smoking. He said as long as his parents dont know about it, its no problem. He also said that he knows many people who worked in Saudi Arabia and in the Palaces of the Saudi princes. They all have bars installed in the cellars and they love hard liquors like Whiskey.

American Indians and Indians

The Hindu Nationalists are very similar to American Indian traditionalists such as Tecumseh, Pontiac, and Sitting Bull etc. It is disappointing to see, that in the zeal to expose Israeli agencies like Mossad, people are gullibly accepting the propaganda of those dedicated to the destruction of India. As the Western and Corporate powers conquered the world they destroyed any and all Indigenous based power structures that they encountered.

India survived this onslaught due its vast population and vibrant culture. China was conquered and basically sterilized by the British agent Mao. India is currently reeling under the onslaught of these same Maoist forces in a silent war that has killed thousands. The Hindu Nationalists are the only people resisting the Maoist take over of the rural areas. Their success in this regard is a primary reason that they are being targeted.

Red Corridor of Terror

At this moment a vast red corridor stretches across India . If the Hindu Nationalists win the upcoming 2009 elections, these forces will begin a massive campaign to destabilize the Nation. With the Western backed Maoist conquest of Nepal, the Maoist now have a dedicated supply line for support and tactical backup. During the Maoist insurrection, three members of the North Korean mission to Nepal were caught attempting to smuggle 100Kg of gold ingots into Nepal . This was the second such instance that the North Koreans were caught smuggling gold into Neal. (North Koreans are the agents of the London based Globalist Powers used in the same capacity of Pakistan in order to keep South Korea and Japan in check.)

The Indian Maoists have frequently been discovered with top of the line satellite communication gear and weaponry. For an alleged group of disgruntled farmers allegedly driven to violence by their economic desperation, it is quite strange that they have somehow amassed such expensive equipment.

Another smoking gun is the implicit silence of the alleged human rights groups and pseudo-secularists regarding the Maoist carnage and atrocities. These same people that repeatedly scream and holler about the great danger of Hindu extremists have never called attention to the Maoists. Why would they? They are Maoists and Marxists themselves. They represent the Overground voice for the Terrorist underground.

America Threatens India with China

Pakistan invaded India 5 times, China invaded twice. Not once has India invaded a neighbor. The West’s refusal to support India as Pakistan and China attacked and terrorized India pushed India into the Soviet Russian sphere. In fact India ’s entire nuclear program was developed as a result of former US President Nixon’s attempt to attack India during the 1971 Bangladesh war. US Documents exposed that the US President had secretly entreated China to menace India by moving Chinese troops to the Indian border. During the 1971 crisis Russia supported India forcing Nixon to back down. The quote below reveals this forgotten chapter of US-Indian relations.

“General Tewari was present at a briefing the three defense services held for Indira Gandhi. She was seated at a large table. On one side was General S H F J Manekshaw, the army chief, and on the other Admiral S M Nanda, the navy chief. During the course of the presentation, the admiral intervened and said: ‘Madam, the US 8th Fleet is sailing into the Bay of Bengal .’ Nothing happened; the briefing continued.

After sometime, the admiral repeated, ‘Madam, I have to inform you that the 8th Fleet is sailing into the Bay of Bengal .’ She cut him off immediately: ‘Admiral, I heard you the first time, let us go on with the briefing.’ All the officers present were stunned. Ultimately, their morale was tremendously boosted by the prime minister’s attitude. She had demonstrated her utter contempt for the American bluff.

On November 10, Nixon instructed Kissinger to ask the Chinese to move some troops toward the Indian frontier. ‘Threaten to move forces or move them, Henry, that’s what they must do now.’ This was conveyed to Huang Hua , China ’s envoy to the United Nations. Kissinger told Huang the US would be prepared for a military confrontation with the Soviet Union if the Soviet Union attacked China .” 1971 War: How the US tried to corner India by Claude Arpi

Pakistan Prepares its Nukes

In 1999, Pakistan prepared its Nukes for an attack on India . It was Clinton who forced the Pakistanis to back down. This can be verified on the documentary “Countdown to Armageddon”. ‘Pakistan was actually preparing to use its nuclear missiles.’ Avoiding a Nuclear Catastrophe: Arms Control after the 2002 India–Pakistan Crisis by Carranza M.E Some have theorized that Kennedy countermanded British demands to let India fall to China during its 1962 invasion. However Kennedy sent weapons and assistance to India further angering the powers in London.

The tragedy is that those committed to truth have been infiltrated by those committed to conquest. Pakistan has been repeatedly defeated by India, despite having the benefit of surprise on its side. Its use of the tactic of ‘a thousand cuts’ is meant to bleed India. The grafting of its agenda and propaganda to forums and groups dedicated towards freedom in the West, has allowed it to gain sympathy from those who would normally despise such agents of oppression.

Israel-Pakistan:Saudi-British Creations

The British created Pakistan for the sole purpose of suppressing India and its eventual growth as a major world power. It is also important to note that Saudi Arabia agreed to the creation of Israel in exchange for the creation of Pakistan. At the time the main source of Saudi income was Muslim Haj pilgrims. India was its largest source of such pilgrims. Fearing its loss of revenue upon the freedom of India, the Saudis negotiated the creation of Israel with the British. A vast chunk of India (Pakistan) for a minute albiet crucial portion of West Asia (Israel).The American House of Saud: The Secret Petrodollar Connection: Steven Emerson

British Erase Indian History

The Empire erased the history of the Hindu Maratha Confederacy founded by Chatrapati Shivaji. These Marathas liberated India from Islamic rule and planted the Maratha Flag from Afghanistan in the NW to Orissa in the East and Kanya Kumari in the South. For nearly a century, the Marathas ruled most of India. They successfully defeated the Portuguese, the French, the Dutch and the British in repeated engagements. The Marathas, both Hindu and Muslim, accomplished one of the most successful indigenous military campaigns in history. Their targets were the foreign Moghuls and the European powers.

Modern Islamic scholars, British historians and Indian Leftists joined together to erase these facts from the history of India. Time magazine recently quoted a Muslim scholar;s claim that the British cheated Islam when they failed to give all of India to Islam upon their departure. He alleged India was taken from the Muslims by the British so it should have been returned to the Muslims in 1947. Either through ignorance or an intentional effort at disinformation, some Indian Muslims ignore history. A majority of Indian Territory was ceded to the British by the Marathas after they had succumbed to the political intrigues of the British ‘Divide and Rule Policies’ and had suffered massive defeats in the three major wars known as the Anglo-Maratha wars. The very simple and basic reality is that Britain signed treaties with the Marathas in order to gain control of most of India. This proves that, rather than the Muslims, it was the Marathas that were in control of much of 18th century India. The British would not waste time signing treaties with a power of no consequence.

The First Anglo-Maratha War (1775-1782) was the beginning of the end of the Maratha Empire. It ended with the Treaty of Salbai.

The Second Anglo-Maratha War (1803 - 1805) was the second conflict between the British East India Company and the Maratha Empire in India . On 12/17/1803, Raghuji Bhonsale (II) of Nagpur signed the Treaty of Deogaon with the British after the Battle of Laswari and gave up the province of Cuttack including Balasore.

The Third Anglo-Maratha War (1817-1818) was a final and decisive conflict between the British East India Company and the Maratha Empire in India , which left the Company in control of most of India . Defeat was swift, followed by the pensioning of the peshwa and the annexation of his territories, thus completing the supremacy of the British in India . The Muslim ruler Nizam’Ali Khan was a British ally in the second and third Maratha Wars (1803-05, 1817-19) The British were quick to succor a built-in and vengeful minority group in their conquest of India. This pattern continues with its use of Pakistan .

Sikh Liberation of Kashmir

The Sikhs, another Indigenous group, were also successful in freeing many parts of India from Foreign rule. These foreign administrations were led by Afghan, Turkish and the Moghuls (Indian for the Mongol descendants of Genghis Khan). Both the Marathas and the Sikhs represented Indic based communities and cultures. For them their holy land was India itself rather than far-off Mecca or Jerusalem . These Native groups had been successful in pushing back 600 years of foreign rule. We see the evidence of this by the fact that Kashmir was taken by the British from the Sikhs and then allegedly sold by them to the Dogras. The Afghans established their rule over the territory of Kashmir in 1752. In 1819 the Sikhs from the Punjab replaced the Afghans as the rulers of Kashmir . The British defeated the Sikhs in 1846 and forced them to relinquish control. However, instead of extending British colonial rule over Kashmir , it is claimed that the British sold the territory to a Kashmiri Dogra prince who they maintained as a vassal. Yet Dipak Basu has revealed that the ’sale of Kashmir’ story is a fabrication.

”After the defeat of the Sikh Empire by the East India Company, The Treaty of Lahore and later the Treaty of Amritsar between the defeated Sikh Empire and the East India Company was signed by Gulab Singh, a commander of the Sikh Empire Ranjit Singh and the grandfather of Hari Singh, and great grandfather of Karan Singh. As a part of the Treaty of Surrender in Lahore, Jammu & Kashmir was given to the father of Hari Singh, who would be treated as independent ruler allied to the East India Company. Then the Maharaja gave a huge sum of money to the British to take revenge on the Muslim rulers of Afghanistan, who previously declared independence from the Sikh Empire. If you go backward, the ancestors of the same Maharaja was appointed as the Mughal Governor of Jammu by Emperor Akhbar himself. Thus, it is just a Pakistani and British propaganda that Hari Singh was just a Dogra businessman with a lot of money purchsed Jammu & Kashmir.”

Verifiable History Denied

These are verifiable historical facts. Unfortunately the establishment academia, specifically Leftists, Marxists, Muslims and others deny the history of India ’s successful Indigenous Pre-British era freedom struggle. They are continuing the British policy of denigrating India ’s sense of Nationhood. When Pakistan first invaded Kashmir in the Indo-Pakistani War of 1947, the Pakistanis were led by British Generals. British officers helped the Pakistanis plan the attack. British officers on the scene led the revolts of the Islamist factions of Kashmir forces, arresting and murdering Pro-Indian Kashmiri Dogra officers especially in the Gilgit region. They acted as a backbone for the mass of Pakistani tribal militias and coordinated their attacks. The British have maintained these connections to this very day.

India’s Hindus:The Last Indigenous Power Base

Today’s Hindu groups represent the very same Indic based Indigenous groups of the 1700s. They had reclaimed India for the Indians. The British defeated them and usurped India and its wealth for the bankers of London . They soaked up the treasures of India from the banks of the Ganges and squeezed them out on the banks of the Thames . They have never given up their control of India and have merely adapted their methods of control. India ’s Hindu Nationalists represent the greatest threat to their continued hegemony. Pakistan is fulfilling its role as the local Agent Provocateur on behalf of the Empire. Buying into Anti-Indian Pakistani propaganda supports these schemes.

It is a fact that there have been some contacts between Israel and some Hindu Nationalists. Just as in History some American Native groups allied with the French against the British and vice versa. However to lump them all into one great conspiracy is not credible. It would be the same as blaming Chief Pontiac for every act of the French.

Westerners have now become more cognizant of India and its place in the world. However it is important not to buy into the agit-prop of the forces dedicated to the destabilization of India . They are attempting to graft themselves unto the legitimate efforts of those dedicated to the exposure of the Globalists. The anti-Hindu agenda is an important aspect of the New World Order’s campaign. India represents one 6th of humanity. The Globalists are pushing for the final conquest of India . To succeed they must first destroy the world’s last remaining Indigenous power structure, the Indian Hindus.

IMF and the Globalists’ Attack on India and Pakistan

The most likely culprits behind the Mumbai massacre appear to be connected to the ongoing Globalist scheme to create a one world economy. The IMF is pushing for the creation of a common global regulator. India has been actively fighting against the IMF. It is also notable that on November 30th India ’s Prime Minister took control of the Finance Ministry. India ’s former Finance Minister Chidambaran was appointed to become Home Minister after the resignation of Shivraj Patil. By taking control of the Finance Ministry Prime Minister Manmohan Singh appears to have taken the IMF head on.

IMF Set to Ruin Pakistan

As for Pakistan and the IMF, The IMF loan of $7.6 billion might result in 3 million job cuts, rendering more people jobless and increasing the poverty level of the country in the next 2 years. This was predicted by the RBS bank analyst in a discussion held on the recent IMF loan to Pakistan. The discussion was titled ‘IMF: pain or panacea.” - Pakistan News

Think Global and Follow the Money

This allows for the development of accurate conclusions. Terrorists are the chaos troops for powerful vested interests. The basic foundation of terrorism began with the British development of the Pirates that attacked the superior Spanish fleets back in the 1600s. It allowed the British plausible deniability while they ruthlessly savaged the Spanish Armadas and robbed them of their gold. Secretly the British controlled the pirates and gained control of vast hordes of Spanish wealth. Of course the Spanish gold was looted from the Native Americans and mined by slaves. The British continued their proxy war by the use of pirates. Today’s Terrorists are the direct descendants of these same forces. The British powers that waged the Opium wars against China have never relinquished their power or control of the black market trade. Believe it or not most terror is still controlled by forces based in London .

Norway: The Terrorist Nation

Norway is also involved in its support of the LTTE in Sri Lanka as revealed by Norwegians against Terrorism (Frequently taken offline)

The Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad) is deeply involved in East Timor. In fact East Timor is the location of the longest lasting Norad-financed project coordinated by the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate. After East Timor’s Independance from Indonesia, which was granted after much ethnic strife, Norway successfully took control of a majority of East Timor’s oil production.

Slamming Wahhabi Islam upon the Islamic World

OPEC nations, particularly Saudi Arabia and its promotion of radical Wahhabi Islam are complicit partners as well. Thus after NATO ‘liberated’ Kosovo the Saudis poured millions of petro dollars into the region, destroyed the ancient Turkish mosques and rebuilt them into modern Wahhabi Mosques. So what do I have to say about terrorists? I say they are controlled at the highest levels. The recent efforts of Pakistani President Zardari to make peace with India are a serious threat to continued British machinations against Peace in South Asia . The Mumbai attacks are a direct attempt to instigate a massive war between India and Pakistan . India ’s obstinate refusals to give up control of its financial institutions to a common global regulator and become indebted to the IMF are also a factor. Indian PM’s men resist IMF influence. India ’s sound economy allows it to resist the IMF. The powers behind the IMF are the powers behind terror.

HatTip: Indian Realist

Barbarians at the gate, are we ready?

Colonel Anil Athale (retd) | February 19, 2009 |

The recent surrender by the Pakistani State to the Taliban in the Swat valley may well turn out to be a watershed in the history of the Indian subcontinent. In terms of long-term impact, this may even overshadow the recent Mumbai massacres. All signs point to the 'Talibanisation' of Pakistan. Here are several pointers:

* I A Rehman writing in the Dawn newspaper on February 12 says 'the Pakistani armed forces were indoctrinated in General Zia-ul Haq's rule to reserve senior posts for genuine Islamists. The Pakistan army may have the capacity to kill hordes of people, but it will not -- and cannot -- do that.' The army and the State may well disintegrate if it does.
* General Ashfaq Kayani, son of a former soldier, is the first non-elite chief of the Pakistani army. Given his socio-economic background, he is more likely to be part of the 'natural' constituency of the Taliban.
* We have the example of Iran -- on February 11, 1979, when the mass upsurge to impose 'Islamic rule' reached its zenith, the Iranian army declared its 'neutrality' in the ongoing conflict. This sealed the fate of the Shah of Iran. A similar happening in Pakistan is very likely.
* Slumdog Jihadis: The Dawn on December 18, 2008, quoted the Pakistan Planning Commission's Deputy Chairman Sardar Asef Ahmad Ali that poverty had skyrocketed to above 40 per cent in the country, leaving millions helpless. It is these poor/unemployed/uneducated people that are cannon fodder for the jihadis. The interrogation of the lone surviving Mumbai terrorist Ajmal Kasab's story fits the bill. There are such 48 million Ajmals waiting in Pakistan to be primed against India.

As a student of military history, I found it extraordinary that Indians were always blissfully unaware of developments in their neighbourhood. No ruler of Delhi ever woke up when the enemy crossed the Khyber Pass. The first stirrings of action were usually when the enemy was at the gates, at Panipat, just a day's march from Delhi.

Indians have been made to totally forget the holocaust that they faced in past; the name Hindukush itself means 'Hindu killer', a reminder of the days when thousands of Indians died on the mountain slopes while being taken to Central Asia as slaves.(the Encyclopaedia Britannica quoting a 12th century traveller Ibn Batua).

Nearer our times, the 1981 UN declaration of Universal Human Rights writes; 'Among the genocides of human history, the highest number of people killed in the small span of time is in Bangladesh in 1971. An average of 6,000 to 12 000 people were killed every single day. This is the highest daily average in history.' The lower estimate shows that 15 lakh were killed, a majority of them Hindus. A commission of inquiry appointed by the Pakistan government, the Hamidoor Rehman Commission, has recorded testimonies of Pakistani army officers who have quoted General Amir Abdullah Khan Niazi asking the question 'How many Hindus have you killed today?' as a matter of routine. We have forgotten this recent episode as well.

Demography is destiny

Pakistan has a very high rate of population growth. Although it has declined from three percent at the time of the census in 1981 to the present 1.9 per cent it is still the highest among populous countries of more than 50 million, except Nigeria. The more reliable indicator of population growth is the total fertility rate -- the number of children born to a woman in her reproductive span. Pakistan's TFR is four. A TFR of 2.1 is considered replacement level which leads to a stable population.

In Pakistan, the under-15 population is 37 per cent of the total. Given the poor education, health and skills of this youth, they are fodder for jihad and little else. With the mullahs constantly drumming that all of Pakistan's ills are due to the evil Hindu India/Zionist Israel/Christian America troika, Pakistan's biggest export for a long time is likely to be terror.

If by some miracle, Pakistan is to implement population control tomorrow, it will take two to three decades for it to take effect. Even if the re-brainwashing was to begin now, again it is bound to take time. The sad fact is that neither of these things is happening either tomorrow or any time soon.

Impact of the economic meltdown

For decades over 25 percent of the Pakistani labour force was employed in the oil-rich Middle East. With the economic downturn and lower oil prices, the boom is over. The Dubai shopping festival was a flop this year. The returning labour force will only add to the unemployment in the country.

In any case, Pakistan has very little industry and its agriculture is confined to Punjab and parts of Sindh. Most of the country's landmass is arid and unfit for agriculture. Rural poverty will gallop in the near future.

Ripe for implosion

The politics of extremism as represented by the Taliban, the economic meltdown and demographic pressure all point to a major implosion in Pakistan. Are we ready for the fallout?

Despite this threat staring in our face there is a palpable lack of national unity -- another Indian trait. In the last four years, we have let our defence apparatus go to seed, so much so that we have lost the conventional edge over Pakistan.

Given this situation the only option for India is to 'isolate and contain' Pakistan. That still leaves the million dollar question about Pakistan's nuclear weapons. Here one hopes that all those joint exercise with special forces of the US, UK, Israel, China and Russia were in preparation for this very contingency.

If not, then God save the world!

Colonel Dr Anil Athale (retd) is a former joint director, war studies, ministry of defence, and co-ordinator of the Pune-based Initiative for Peace and Disarmament.

A critiqe of Arundhati Roy from almost 10 years ago

The Arun Shourie of the left
The Hindu
November 26, 2000

Celebrity endorsement of social movements is fraught with hazards. In the beginning, apart from inviting media attention, it may also draw to the cause previously silent bystanders ... Much depends on the kind of celebrity, says noted historian RAMACHANDRA GUHA.

THE Narmada Bachao Andolan is only the last in a series of social movements against large dams. True, the spectacular schemes of the 1950s and 1960s - Bhakra, Hirakud, Tungabhadra and the like - came up with scarcely a sigh of protest. Villages in the way of the reservoir were made to depart in the name of "national interest". It took fully two decades for this national interest to be revealed as the specific interests of the urban-industrial elite. Thus the 1970s witnessed a series of popular struggles on behalf of the to-be dispossessed. There were movements against the Koel-Karo project in Bihar, the Subarnarekha project in Orissa and the Vishnuprayag and Tehri projects in Garhwal. These varied movements and the questions they raised inspired the editors of the Second Citizens' Report on the Indian Environment, published in 1985, to dedicate their labours to the "dam- displaced people of India".

These movements were accompanied by intellectual critiques of the big dam idea. In 1981, the Gandhi Peace Foundation published a seminal document called Major Dams: A Second Look, based on a seminar held in Sirsi, in the Western Ghats of Karnataka. Then, in 1984, two college students, Ashish Kothari and Rajiv Bhartari, published a wide ranging critique of the Narmada Valley projects in the Economic and Political Weekly. After reading this essay, Medha Patkar was encouraged to move from social work in Mumbai to mobilising adivasis in Madhya Pradesh. The following year, the Annual Number of the Economic and Political Weekly printed an essay by Nirmal Sengupta entitled "Irrigation: Traditional versus Modern", an empirically rich and thoughtful analysis that made a strong case for the continuing relevance of indigenous methods of water harvesting. Sengupta's work in English was complemented by the superb field studies of water conservation published in Hindi by Anupam Mishra. Meanwhile, Pune economist Vijay Paranjype was conducting case studies of individual dams, which showed that the actual costs incurred in their construction generally exceeded their putative benefits.

These precocious works raised the basic issues so spiritedly taken up by the Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA): social justice, environmental sustainability, economic efficiency and cultural survival. The movement brought to these old, and always relevant, issues, the vigour of a mass popular movement and the appeal of a charismatic leader. Through the 1980s and 1990s, the Andolan organised a series of strikes, fasts, processions, padayatras and rasta rokos, these held in Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Gujarat and that continuing centre of imperial power, New Delhi. Inspired by an exemplary leader and a devoted cadre of workers, it drew into its fold adivasis and peasants as well as students and professionals from the cities.

This widening of the support base was necessary because of the growing pro-dam movement that confronted it. The Andolan's principal target, the Sardar Sarovar project, is a curious scheme whose benefits will flow almost wholly to one State, Gujarat, whereas its costs will be borne by upstream villages in Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh. The Gujaratis, regardless of ideology or political affiliation, stand as one behind the dam. The unanimity is complete, and sinister. When the respected Ahmedabad dancer, Mrinalini Sarabhai, asked about the rights of the displaced, she was told to shut up or leave the State.

Then, in the summer of 1999, the NBA secured the support of the novelist, Arundhati Roy. Ms. Roy's involvement came at a time when the movement was at a particularly low ebb. Its offices in Gujarat had been attacked. Years of selfless activism were being answered with a barrage of criticism from the pro-liberalisation press. Medha Patkar, in particular, had become a hate figure for free-market columnists. The Andolan and its leader were accused for holding up the dams that would power the factories that would make India Singapore writ large.

Arundhati Roy's essay on the Sardar Sarovar dam was published by Outlook and Frontline magazines in May 1999. At the time, I had decidedly mixed feelings about it. As a work of analysis, it was unoriginal: Kothari and company had been there before her. As a piece of literary craftsmanship it was self-indulgent and hyperbolic. Still, to criticise the essay would be to let down the side. Might not her name and her fame attract to the "cause" the undecided upper class, men and women who would read Ms. Roy in Outlook but who had never heard of Nirmal Sengupta or the Economic and Political Weekly?

To suppress my reservations was not easy, for I had been intensely irritated by Ms. Roy's previous venture into public interest journalism: her polemic against the nuclear tests in 1998. There too, I was on her side, "objectively" speaking. Yet her vanity was unreal. Ms. Roy quoted, without irony, the judgment of her friend that after having written one successful novel she had seen it all, that a barren stretch of life lay before her until the final meeting with her Maker. She spoke of how she had disregarded the advice of those who insisted that the tax man would come chasing her were she to write against the bomb. A month before Ms. Roy sat down to write her piece, 4,00,000 adults had marched through the streets of Calcutta in protest against the Pokharan blasts. Were their homes all raided by the Income Tax Department?

The anti-dam essay had its signs of self-absorption too. Its opening scene, of Ms. Roy laughing on the top of a hill, seemed a straight lift from the first lines of that monument to egotism, Ayn Rand's The Fountainhead. The essay was marked throughout by a conspicuous lack of proportion. To compare dams to nuclear weapons was absurd. To demonise technology was irresponsible. The scientists, K. J. Roy and Suhas Parajpye, had worked out an innovative compromise, a reduction in the projected height of the Sardar Sarovar dam which would reduce submergence while allowing the construction of "overflow" canals to the water-scarce areas of Kutch and Saurashtra. This scheme would minimise human suffering while creatively redeeming the thousands of crores already spent on the project. Ms. Roy wanted, however, for the dam to be made a museum for failed technologies. Altogether, this was an essay written with passion but without care. In her stream-of-consciousness style, the arguments were served up in a jumble of images and exclamations with the odd number thrown in. The most serious objections to the dam, on grounds of social justice, ecological prudence and economic efficiency, were lost in the presentation. What struck one most forcibly was her atavistic hatred of science and a romantic celebration of adivasi lifestyles.

It is tempting to see Arundhati Roy as the Arun Shourie of the left. The super-patriot and the anti-patriot use much the same methods. Both think exclusively in black and white. Both choose to use a 100 words when 10 will do. Both arrogate to themselves the right to hand out moral certificates. Those who criticise Shourie are characterised as anti-national, those who dare take on Roy are made out to be agents of the State. In either case, an excess of emotion and indignation drowns out the facts.

One must grant that Arundhati Roy is a courageous woman. Other novelists like to shut themselves away from the world, but she has sought engagement with it. She followed her printed blasts with long, tiring journeys in inhospitable terrain, to show her solidarity with the anti-nuclear and anti-dam protesters. Most writers have been individualists and careerists. An all-too-small minority has shown an awareness of public issues. Where do we place Ms. Roy in this line of honourable dissenters?

Perhaps the greatest of activist-novelists was George Orwell. Out of Eton and the Indian Police Service, he chose to work as a dishwasher in Paris and to live with miners in the north of England. Later, he fought with the Republican forces in the Spanish Civil War. His engagements with poverty and fascism inspired his novels Animal Farm and 1984 and a series of imperishable essays on political subjects. In the great battles of the modern world, he took the brave, but intellectually unfashionable, stand of being for democracy but for socialism as well.

Orwell I know only through his books, but I had the honour of knowing, in flesh-and-blood, the finest novelist-activist of modern India, Kota Shivram Karanth. In a long life, Karanth helped revive Yakshagana, promote widow remarriage, transform the Kannada novel and pioneer the environmental movement in Karnataka. He translated and published the first Citizens' Reports on the Indian Environment. He led movements against the pollution of the Tungabhadra and against the Kaiga nuclear plant. These were all in the 1980s, when he was himself in his nineties. A decade previously he had inspired the successful campaign against the Bedthi power project in the district of Uttara Kannada.

Arundhati Roy might very well equal Orwell and Karanth in her bravery. But she lacks their intellectual probity and judgment. Those men wrote with a proper sense of gravitas, in a prose that was lucid but understated, each word weighed before it was uttered. Perhaps they were lucky to work in a pre-television and pre-colour supplement era, when the principle would take precedence over the personality.

Perhaps we should blame the time we live in for Arundhati Roy's carelessness. That she is careless is beyond dispute. She made disparaging remarks about the judges of the Supreme Court while that Court was hearing a case filed by the organisation she sought to support. Late in 1999, the National Law School in Bangalore convened a meeting on the Narmada issue. One of the NBA's leaders was present, as was its lawyer. At this meeting, the eminent legal scholar Upendra Baxi, a man who has written books on the functioning of the Supreme Court, gently suggested that it would be wise for the Andolan to disassociate itself from Arundhati Roy.

Now, in the light of the recent judgment sanctioning the elevation of the dam, five metres at a time, Ms. Roy has erupted again. The judges and judgment, she says, show that we are living in a "banana republic". She has suggested that the judges are ignorant and insensitive. Speaking to a foreign journalist, she has compared the judgment to the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation's (NATO) bombing of Yugoslavia. These opinions were offered as the Andolan prepares to file a review petition in the Supreme Court.

Celebrity endorsement of social movements is always fraught with hazard. In the beginning, it may attract media attention, and draw to the cause previously silent bystanders. However, the media will soon abandon the cause for the star, and the converts will soon return to their humdrum lives. Much depends on the kind of celebrity. A film star will wave and flash a smile: do little good but no harm either. But celebrity writers will write and speak. And the natural bent of this particular celebrity is towards hyperbole and hysteria. "When NATO bombed Yugoslavia," says Ms. Roy, "a tiger in the Belgrade zoo got so terrified that it started eating its own limbs. The people of the Narmada valley will soon start eating their own limbs." (quoted in the Asian Age, October 30).

I am told that Arundhati Roy has written a very good novel. Perhaps she should begin another. Her retreat from activism would - to use a term from economics - be a "Paretto optimum": good for literature, and good for the Indian environmental movement.

Postscript: As this article was going to press, the latest Outlook arrived, with Ms. Roy's latest venture into social science. It is like the others: self-regarding and self- indulgent. The essay is also self-contradictory, a jeremiad against the market and globalisation by one who is placed in the heart of the global market for celebrity-hood.

Among the targets singled out for attack this time is the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). This is a curious choice, for so far as one can make sense of her arguement, Ms. Roy seems to share the RSS's understanding of politics.

After reading Ms. Roy's most recent essay, I see no reason to revise my judgment: that we would all be better off were she to revert to fiction.

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