Monthly Archives: June 2010

The India Shuffle #5

INDIAN EXPRESS – Around 15 Maoists are thought dead in Chhattisgarh in retaliation for yesterday’s attack that killed 26. No bodies have been found. The problem with this is it’s impossible to know the truth of what happened. Is it true? Are the police trying to raise morale by pretending they have successfully retaliated? Were they really Maoists? It’s so messy.

SURVIVAL INTERNATIONAL – are rightly pissed off that the Indian government is pushing ahead with the controversial mine in Orissa that will destroy the Dongria Kondh’s deity. It’s not only the Avatar overtones that make this story important – it’s also a perfect encapsulation of the lack of political representation afforded tribes like this.

BBCNepal’s prime minister has resigned in a bid to get the peace process moving. What happens next should be interesting.

KASHMIRTehelka has an interview with Hurriyat head Mirwaiz Umar Farooq in which he says the government has to stop the killings before a dialogue can begin. WSJ discusses the impact on tourism.

BBC – A BJP leader has been sentenced to 7 years for his part in anti-Christian riots in Orissa in 2008.

THE HINDU – India has joined the FATF, which maintains standards on anti-money laundering and countering the financing of terrorism.

INDIAN EXPRESS – Loads of dirty money in education, particularly through bribes to get on medical and professional courses.

FINANCIAL TIMES – India is becoming a major area for charity-giving, with Oxfam India raising $2 million in the past year.


The India Shuffle #4

BBC – Another Maoist attack in Chhattisgarh – this time killing 26 police in an ambush as they returned from a road-opening ceremony. This is the 3rd large-scale attack on police in the area as many months.

OUTLOOK – Nandini Sundar on the use of rape by India’s paramilitaries. Plus, another string of arrests, this time in Gujarat, of people fighting for tribal rights and then accused of being Maoists.

TIMES OF INDIA – Congress actually stops one of its own MPs, Naveen Jindal, from building an illegal power plant in Chattisgarh. A positive sign.

THE GUARDIAN – Is India trying to pressure a Nepalese newspaper it doesn’t like by withholding supplies?

JANE’S –India is attempting to reform its Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) in a bid to reduce its defence imports, which currently account for 70% of the total, and increase the domestic share of acquisitions (worth $50 billion for 2007-12). The failure to involve the services and radically reform the bureaucratic systems mean the reforms will probably fail. [Paywall]

IDSA – Slightly muddled take on India’s failure to compete with the US, China and Russia in the new Great Game for Central Asian energy and trade, that argues for an emphasis on peace, cultural linkages and the construction of a new university. Since India has its own higher education problems, this might be a bit ambitious.

INDIAN EXPRESS – An overview of the Lokayukta, India’s anti-corruption body and its shortcomings.

THE GUARDIAN – Hamid Karzai is increasingly moving towards the ISI and the idea that Pakistan can deliver a deal with the Taliban and the Haqqani network – not good for India.

JASON BURKE on the Kashmir killings that might be all about earning bonuses, rather than the conspiracy I suggested yesterday.

Note: I changed the name to something slightly more original. I like it for its connotations of both Apple and doing a little dance with Indian news. In a fit of Stalinist revisionism, I’ve also gone back and changed previous post titles.

The India Shuffle #3

BBC – Were “fake killings” of three men on the Pakistan border part of a conspiracy by elements of the Indian army to stir up trouble? That seems to be the suggestion in this BBC story.

WSJ – Fuel prices were finally deregulated after several months of deliberation. The left-wing parties are not happy about and the extreme left have added it to their list of grievances for the two-day bandh due on 30 June. The BJP in Uttar Pradesh have waded in with their own 3-day protest for July.

AL JAZEERA – More Kashmir protests as two young men are killed by paramilitaries, who fired on stone-throwers.

PTI – Pakistan interior minister claims India and Bangladesh would be next if the Taliban take over Pakistan.

INDIAN EXPRESS – The government is looking at the possibility of combining its rural work guarantee scheme with its health insurance for those below the poverty line.

INDIAN EXPRESS – ULFA negotiations on right track, according to state government.

Free Speech Under Attack Again in India

Indian authorities are really embracing the censorship thing. This week the Central Board of Film Certification blocked the release of a documentary about Nepalese politics on the grounds that it glorified Maoism, saying:

In the opinion of the examining committee, any justification or romanticisation of the ideology of extremism or of violence, coercion, intimidation in achieving its objectives would not be in the public interest, particularly keeping in view the recent Maoist violence in some parts of the country.

This is part of a wider trend of attempting to control the public discourse on Maoism in India. Earlier this year, the police charge-sheet against Kobad Ghandy, an arrested Maoist leader, included a list of civil rights groups  accused of providing support to the movement. On 6 May, Home Minister P Chidambaram released a statement saying: “It has come to the notice of the government that some Maoist leaders have been directly contacting certain NGOs and intellectuals to propagate their ideology and persuade them to take steps which would provide support to the CPI (Maoist) ideology.” Officials have warned these groups they face up to 10 years in prison just for  speaking to Maoists. Human Rights Watch was unimpressed.

Click to read more…

The India Shuffle #2

PIONEER – Subhash Kashyap argues that India could yet see a repeat of the 1975 Emergency, particularly in light of the Maoist threat, and that the country has never fully protected itself against another seizure of power by the executive.

BIBEK DEBROY – argues that India is experiencing a ‘grain drain’ in which companies are being encouraged to buy up land in Africa to increase agricultural output, even though there is plenty of land available in India, if only the government could unravel the red tape and improve irrigation, storage and distribution.

HINDUSTAN EXPRESS – A group of activists from the People’s Committee Against Police Atrocities in West Bengal have been arrested for allegedly providing medical treatment to Maoists.

REDIFF – India to set up a committee to look at increasing economic ties with the US ahead of Obama’s visit in November. India is hoping the US will invest $250 – 300 billion in investment in its infrastructure.

THE HINDU – World Bank aid to India is set to reach $9.3 billion.

INDIAN EXPRESS – Colonel killed in gun battle with J&K militants – the highest ranking casualty this year.

OUTLOOK – UN reckons India will have halved the 1990 poverty rate by 2015, in line with its Millennium Goal

INDIAN EXPRESS – New Communal Violence Bill gives right to information and a role in subsequent investigations.

DNA – Jaswant Singh, the former external affairs minister that was sacked from the BJP for writing a book that dared to suggest Jinnah was not the devil, is brought back into the fold.

The India Shuffle #1

I’m going to try to do a regular breakdown of news and articles on India that I’m reading. No doubt this will be near impossible to keep up, but we’ll see. Feel free to chip in with suggestions:

INDIAN EXPRESS – Maoists in damage control mode: No more attacks on trains and other infrastructure that might cause civilian fatalities during the two-day strike called for 30 June. This is a reaction to the train derailment that killed 148 people and was blamed on Maoist affiliates.

WSJ – The Chhattisgarh government is using special reinforced concrete to build roads that are more resistant to Maoist roadside bombs. However, 12 police were killed providing security for the construction of one such road.

THE GUARDIAN – Why paying Indian MPs more might actually be a good thing.

TEHELKA – The ongoing horror of life caught between Maoists and security forces in Chhattisgarh. Meanwhile, the Forest Rights Act is doing little to stop villagers being forcibly displaced in Jharkhand.

IDSAHow the US-led sanctions on Iran will effect India. The article argues that Iran has developed fairly comprehensive policies to mitigate the impact of sanctions on its energy sector, and that India’s need for increased natural gas supplies will continue to encourage efforts to trade with Iran around the edges of the sanctions regime, with a number of pipeline projects on the drawing board.

TEHELKA – One American turns Jharkhand tribal village girls into a football team.

WSJ – There are fears that the boom in micro-financing may be riskier than commonly thought, thanks to over-lending and poor organisation. There are also calls to diversify the system away from just simple loans.

THE HINDU – Muslims are being held back by poor socio-economic conditions, lack of development and education opportunities, says a new report.

TEHELKA – The ongoing horror of life caught between Maoists and security forces in Chhattisgarh. Meanwhile, the Forest Rights Act is doing little to stop villagers being forcibly displaced in Jharkhand.

Derailing India’s Maoist Insurgency

The train derailment that left 148 dead in one of the hotbeds of India’s internal war could well be a classic example of how peaceful resistance can spin easily out of control if handled badly.

The sabotage took place on 28 May in the West Midnapore district of West Bengal, an area the press likes to call “infested” with Maoist rebels. The saboteurs removed about 50 feet of padrol clips, which keep the railway track in place, causing the Gyaneshwari Express passenger train to derail and leaving it in the path of an oncoming goods train which rammed into its side about five minutes later.

The Maoists, who tend to be quite up-front about the attacks they perpetrate, denied any involvement – perhaps unsurprising considering the horrendous loss of civilian life. It is worth considering, however, that the death toll is only marginally less than the 173 killed in the Mumbai attacks of November 2008. Derailing trains is a typical tactic for the Maoists, who were responsible for 58 attacks on infrastructure targets in 2009, according to the Ministry for Railways. In November, two people died when Maoists derailed a train in the state of Jharkhand. The difference with the May 2010 attack was timing: another train coming from a different direction crossed the train’s path and compounded the destruction – a catastrophe facilitated by the absence of any emergency warning system.

Read the rest here…