India Shuffle: Poverty, Cremation, Mutiny & Deregulation


From today, I’m moving the blog on to Current Intelligence and the name is changing to Subcontinental. You can find it here…

RSS feeds and so forth to follow soon. For the next few days, I’ll keep posting here as well, but I hope you’ll migrate with me.


MAOIST OR KIDNAP VICTIM? – Looks like the story of a media studies Maoist is as unsubstantiated as it sounded yesterday. Chhattisgarh police had accused Lingaram Kodopi of being the mastermind of the attack on a state politician earlier this month. In a tearful press conference at a Delhi University, he described being kidnapped by police last year and held for 40 days without charge as they tried to force him  to become a Special Police Officer (SPO) and fight the Maoists. When he finally got out, he escaped to Delhi. Chhattisgarh is famous for arming a people’s militia, called the Salwa Judum, to fight the Maoists. It has generally been seen as the least effective and most brutal tactic yet adopted in Indian counterinsurgency, encouraging a mounting cycle of violence in which villagers are turned on their neighbours, often against their will. Despite repeated rulings by the Supreme Court and National Human Rights Commission, and promises from the state government, little decisive action has been taken to reverse this policy.

INDIA POORER THAN AFRICA – A new measure of poverty, the Multidimensional Poverty Index, which is being adopted by the UN Development Programme, has found that india’s eight poorest states contain 421 million poor people, more than the total for the 26 poorest African nations.

GREEN CREMATION – India uses 50 million trees a year for funeral pyres, emitting 8 million tonnes of carbon dioxide. It’s also a very expensive business for families. Are new eco-friendly crematoriums that use less wood the answer? [IPS]

BANGLADESH MASS MUTINY CHARGES – An astonishing 824 people, most of them members of the paramilitary forces, have been charged en masse for their role in the brutal mutiny of the Bangladesh Rifles in February 2009. There are already 3,500 soldiers facing separate prosecutions in military courts for joining the mutiny, which led to the death of 74 people, mostly officers, in a row over pay and conditions. There have also been rumblings that the mutiny was encouraged by anti-government forces, unnerved by the accession of the secular AL government the month before.over pay and conditions. There have also been rumblings that the mutiny was encouraged by anti-government forces, unnerved by the accession of the secular AL government the month before.

MAOISTS ATTACK MINING CO. – The Maoists have apparently attacked a complex run by the National Mineral Development Corporation (NMDC) in the Bacheli region of Chhattisgarh with around 50 men, leading to a battle with Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) troops. This is not the first time there’s been an attack like this – an NMDC bauxite mine in Orissa was attacked in April 2009 and Hindalco’s bauxite mine was attacked in May 2005. This has nothing to do with the fact they are mining in tribal areas, and more to do with wanting all the dynamite they keep there.

FUEL DEREGULATION IS A SCAM – Here’s a proper, hardcore critique of India’s decision to deregulate fuel prices from left-wing journal, Radical Notes. I wish I was enough of an economist to discuss it, but I’m not. Nonetheless, it seems to raise some excellent points, particularly: The government’s main argument is that under-recoveries in state-owned oil companies is bad for fiscal stability and pushes up inflation, but has this point really been proven? Under-recoveries have been effectively absorbed in the past. So is deregulation just about the private sector looking for windfall profits and won’t that have its own inflationary impact, this time more specifically targeted against the poor?

PRODUCTION DOWN – Industrial production grew by 11.5% year-on-year in May, down from 16.5% in April. Is another slowdown on the way? [FT]

IRON ORE BAN – India is considering a complete ban on iron ore exports to help it meet its domestic demand (and to stick two fingers up to China). [FT]


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