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EDITORIAL

PM's Package

President and Patron NC Minority Cell and MLC recently spoke to a group of his admirers. He pontificated that the PM's employment package announced in early 2008 on the occasion of inauguration of Akhnoor Bridge was a "trend setter" for the return of the Pandits to their homes and hearths in the Valley. He ridiculed those whom he thought were not happy with the package. He is of opinion that "employment of 800 "migrants" will open the gate for permanent return of displaced Pandits to their homes and hearths in Valley by bringing the members of majority and minority community together."
This is an interesting as well as amusing piece of news since it is a rare occasion for the official president and patron of NC Minority Cell to come out with his cryptic comment focused more on pleasing his party patriarchs than on the Cell he presides over. He is the President of NC Minority Cell. Does the constitution of the State, drafted, debated and passed by party majority to which he belongs, recognize any "minority"
........more

Promoting sports

The nation proudly remembers the great hockey wizard Major Dhyan Chand by celebrating the National Sports Day dedicated to him. Jammu, with a glorious tradition of sports, has not lagged behind. It is satisfying that the Minister for Youth Services and Sports is deeply interested in promoting sports culture and potential of games in the state by providing upgraded sports infrastructure, environment and incentives. Some awards have been installed but much more needs to be done to encourage State sports lovers. Sports potential . ........more

What has Anna Hazare gained ?

By Srinivasan K. Rangachary

The victory has not been of Anna Hazare or his "team" but of the people of India. The support they extended to the fasting Gandhian, the resolve with which they staged demonstrations and shared the long days and nights with him, their anger, their disgust, their frustration all together had an impact by making the government of India accountable, and Parliament humble. ... .. . ...more

Pakistan still
helping terrorists

By B K Chum

Call it its habitual double-speak or helplessness, Pakistan's role in encouraging militancy in Jammu and Kashmir is again back in media headlines. Ironically, this is happening amidst stepped-up efforts by India and Pakistan to normalize their relations. Pakistan's youthful Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar during her last week's China visit said that "India and Pakistan should learn to live with each other" . . . ... ...more

The modern slave trade

By Harjeet Singh

Two centuries after the abolition of slavery we are seeing the reintroduction of an abominable practice: human trafficking. The International Labour Organisation (ILO) estimates that 12.3 million people each year are taken captive by networks tied to international crime and used as forced labour in inhuman conditions.
In the case of women, the victims are subjected mostly to sexual exploitation while others are exploited as domestic servants. . .
...more

EDITORIAL

PM's Package

President and Patron NC Minority Cell and MLC recently spoke to a group of his admirers. He pontificated that the PM's employment package announced in early 2008 on the occasion of inauguration of Akhnoor Bridge was a "trend setter" for the return of the Pandits to their homes and hearths in the Valley. He ridiculed those whom he thought were not happy with the package. He is of opinion that "employment of 800 "migrants" will open the gate for permanent return of displaced Pandits to their homes and hearths in Valley by bringing the members of majority and minority community together."
This is an interesting as well as amusing piece of news since it is a rare occasion for the official president and patron of NC Minority Cell to come out with his cryptic comment focused more on pleasing his party patriarchs than on the Cell he presides over. He is the President of NC Minority Cell. Does the constitution of the State, drafted, debated and passed by party majority to which he belongs, recognize any "minority" in the state? None, and much less a religious minority. There is not a single clause, a single sentence and a single phrase in the entire State Constitution in which anything is said about a minority, its definition, its criterion and its rights. Same is true about the historical speech of NC stalwart Sheikh Mohd Abdullah made in the LA when the constitution was passed. What the constitution repeatedly speaks about is "deprived people" and not "deprived groups". The UN Human Rights Charter has struggled to lay down clear definition of a minority but without much success. That is the reason why it constituted the Working Group on Minorities which has been regularly updating the definition of a minority community. It is in one of its formal exercises that the Working Group included a new clause of definition as "reverse minority" and added "like Kashmiri Pandits" by way of elucidation. This stands formally documented with the UN Human Rights Commission. Therefore, before bolstering somebody as the "President and Patron of a Minority Cell", it is logical that first the construct of the "minority" has to be recognized in fall its dimensions. This leads us to the exchange of views and correspondence between the activists of minority-concept for the State including the Pandits, and the National Minority Commission on the issue of the Union Government granting recognition to the Pandits as a "minority" community. Despite strong recommendation, verbal as well as written by the National Minority Commission to the Union Home Ministry and the then Chief Minster of the State, Dr. Farooq Abdullah, no action has been taken. The President of NC Minority Cell is something like a monarch without an inch of territory. It was strongly emphasized that in the light of Article 370 of the Constitution giving special status to J&K, recognition of religious, ethnic, linguistic and other minorities in the State was a logical conclusion and should not have been delayed. This never happened, and yet a gratuitous appellation has been charitied to an ex-bureaucrat to compensate him for denying him a berth on the bandwagon of power. A ruling party loath to allow a seat in the Cabinet to the "President and Patron of its Minority Cell" can hardly claim to be dealing the religious minority with even-handed justice.
The second amusing part of "Patron's" pontification is that according to him giving employment to under 800 persons in Class III-IV category and posting them through a forced agreement aginst their free will in remote rural areas of a state that is rife with active terrorism and rabid fanaticism will "open the gate for permanent return of displaced Pandits to their homes and hearths in Valley by bringing the members of majority and minority community together." Did PM's employment package stipulate a forced undertaking and never to ask for transfer? Did the package envisage easing their suffering or making them a prisoner? In a State where the Chief Minister rides a five kilometer distance from his residence to the SKICC (Centaur) in a helicopter avoiding road transport for security reasons, explains more than what one may say on the security scenario in the summer capital. The Patron of the Cell being a bureaucrat and not a politician by profession is unable to look at situations in historical perspective. An astute politician in his place would never link the return of the displaced persons to the lower jobs offered to the destitute in exile; he would link it to the goodwill of the majority community. And the majority community at the moment is already showing its annoyance at the government employing 800 displaced persons, forgetting that during past two decades no fewer than 8 lakh jobs of all ranks have been filled in the Valley according to public statements of the ruling party Ministers. The question is not return and rehabilitation of the displaced persons; the real question is the yawning gap between the percept and practice in a secular state. The President of the NC Minority Cell should have opened this important subject for most serious public debate through the aegis of his office, the relevant platform for such a debate. We want him to ride the horse and not keep cleaning the stable.

Promoting sports

The nation proudly remembers the great hockey wizard Major Dhyan Chand by celebrating the National Sports Day dedicated to him. Jammu, with a glorious tradition of sports, has not lagged behind. It is satisfying that the Minister for Youth Services and Sports is deeply interested in promoting sports culture and potential of games in the state by providing upgraded sports infrastructure, environment and incentives. Some awards have been installed but much more needs to be done to encourage State sports lovers. Sports potential among our youth has to be explored and exploited so that Jammu and Kashmir also comes up on the sports map of the country. Sports infrastructure is a comprehensive management and this has to be undertaken in phased manner. Stadiums, playing grounds, formation of sports teams on tehsil and district level, regular competitions and sports jamborees are the pre-requisites. Sports culture has to be inculcated among the youth. Special hostels for the sportspersons need to be built at district lever and maintained properly. Funding for district level sports organizations is also of much importance to giving a boot to our sports arrangements.

What has Anna Hazare gained ?

By Srinivasan K. Rangachary

The victory has not been of Anna Hazare or his "team" but of the people of India. The support they extended to the fasting Gandhian, the resolve with which they staged demonstrations and shared the long days and nights with him, their anger, their disgust, their frustration all together had an impact by making the government of India accountable, and Parliament humble.
These columns have recorded, at some length, the politics and the situation in the country over these trying days. Team Anna has managed affairs cleverly and with a sense of responsibility for Anna Hazare who clearly motivated the young, the old, the poor and the middle class into coming out in full support. The crowds at Ramlila were poor, illiterate, rickshawwallas, auto drivers and of course the youth who have embraced the ageing Hazare as their icon. Gandhi saw a revival on the streets of India, as the honesty and courage associated with him was transferred in part to Anna Hazare who was given the peoples mandate to lead their struggle against corruption.
The days saw the government obfuscating vacillating, and eventually crawling.
Of course there was in the midst of all this the strange sight of scion Rahul Gandhi making a speech during zero hour that is reserved usually for mention of important issues by agitating members, where he read out from a written text, and completely contradicted an earlier statement by his own Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. Rahul Gandhi's was a hard speech, ruling out the space for dissent, and asserting the supremacy of those in power in all matters of policy.
The rest was just meaningless rhetoric, part of the general cacophony.
One point stands out during this entire debate. And that is the interpretation of the Indian Constitution where the Congress and its allies insisted in and outside Parliament about the supremacy of Parliament, while many other political parties as well as the people were adamant about the supremacy of the people. The truth is in between, as both sides- the elected representatives in Parliament and the people at large- have to follow a bordering line to ensure that the one does not become authoritarian and non- democratic and the other anarchic by crossing this boundary. The Anna Hazare movement did keep well within these limits, controlling the support and yet keeping sufficient pressure on the government to ensure that it listened to the voice of the people. Unfortunately, the same could not be said of the Congress in the stages between the two protest phases, and just after. A certain authoritarianism and intolerance was evident in the smear campaign launched against Anna Hazare and his team members, and in the virtual rejection of their demands. Various charges were hurled with them even during the last few days some of these being: 1) The Anna team fascist and they control him. Hardly are they all people who have worked well with others for years now, and are well known. Arvind Kejriwal for instance, was part of Aruna Roy's team until he left and is certainly not bigger or for that matter smaller, than those heading other NGOs. These are people with a passionate belief in their fight against corruption and have been taking up the issue for years in some form or the other. Besides, anyone who knows Anna Hazare knows also that he is stubborn, and certainly not pliable. Of course there are weak links, and glitches that showed up in these pressure packed days, such as the strange undignified act by the former Police Commissioner Kiran Bedi on the stage. 2) They are bypassing Parliament.
Not at all. They are asking Parliament to do its duty, and pass an effective and not a useless piece of legislation. Hazare and his men are not passing the Bill, they want a strong and effective Bill and want definitive assurances from the government that this is what will be done. This assurance has still not been forthcoming as the government is looking for a way to salvage the situation without conceding an inch.
3) His is just a middle class movement.
This would have been relevant years ago when the middle class was not particularly large in this country. Now it is huge and certainly not irrelevant and has to be recognised as such. Besides the poor too are attaching themselves to the movement in a big way. A visit to Ramlila grounds showed the crowd to be rickshawallas, auto drivers, workers, farmers and of course the youth.
4) Anna Hazare and his team cannot get themselves elected. That is not their purpose. They do not want to become politicians; they want to pressure politicians and the system into cleansing itself.
The movement is focusing on corruption, the face of the movement is Anna Hazare but the other issues that have been raised as a consequence are also centre stage and extremely important- peoples empowerment, rights, justice, democratic space and accountability.
The right to protest is guaranteed to the people and the words emerging from Congress lips really seek to make a mockery of people's participation in determining their present and future.
So at the end of it all what has Anna Hazare achieved? Accountability and democratic space. The Jan Lokpal Bill might not be the panacea as many in the Movement against Corruption are hoping, but it will certainly create heart burn and if headed by a good individual and team could make a difference to the rampant corruption that has taken over this nation. But in being able to get their way, the people have been empowered. This will go a long way in sustaining other crucial movements like those against land acquisition, and will give the strength to the people to ask for their rights. The democratic space that had been vastly reduced by the UPA government has expanded again, and this in itself is a major contribution for people's rights.
The people are supreme in this country, under the Indian Constitution so one fails to understand why this "Parliament is supreme" cry by the Congress and parties like the RJD is all about.
Parliament is supreme in legislating and Anna Hazare certainly was not trying to take away this power. He only wanted the government to acknowledge that its Lokpal Bill was a weak and ineffective piece of legislation, and to ensure that a stronger, more effective Bill was accepted and introduced in Parliament. And of course, passed.
What are people supposed to do when Parliament and the government stop listening to them? And when everything they say falls on deaf ears? The support that Hazare got clearly demonstrates the anger of the people over this indifference and neglect, and perhaps the Congress will think several times before it turns away from the janata at large. Interestingly, the Congress apologists in the media and civil society have been working hard to puncture the Anna Hazare movement, but eventually have been isolated by the very government they sought to protect, as eventually it walked over to the other side. (INAV)

Pakistan still helping terrorists

By B K Chum

Call it its habitual double-speak or helplessness, Pakistan's role in encouraging militancy in Jammu and Kashmir is again back in media headlines. Ironically, this is happening amidst stepped-up efforts by India and Pakistan to normalize their relations. Pakistan's youthful Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar during her last week's China visit said that "India and Pakistan should learn to live with each other". She also repeated in her August 24 Beijing statement her country's resolve not to allow its territory to be used for terror activities.
But the latest reports from Jammu and Kashmir show that Pakistan continues to allow the militants to use its territory to infiltrate into Jammu and Kashmir for escalating the almost "under-control" terror violence. During her last week's China visit Khar also had to face the Chinese charge that the militants of the separatist East Turkistan Islamic Movement who carried out attacks in Kashghar in the country's Xinjiang province, were trained at Pakistani-based terror camps.
What has been happening in Jammu and Kashmir for the past fortnight exposes Pakistan's double-speak about training and helping the militants for infiltration in the state.
Indian Intelligence and the Army have been reporting large number of militants trained at the PoK-based training camps concentrating across the Line of Control for infiltrating into the state. This has been borne out by the rising number of encounters between the Army and groups of armed militants attempting to cross into Jammu and Kashmir. These attempts were preceded by over half a dozen ceasefire violations by the Pakistan Army. Past experience shows that Pakistan Army resorts to ceasefire violations during summer to provide cover to militants to cross the LoC. In one of the last week's major encounters, twelve of the heavily armed large militants group were killed by the Army.
The truth about Pakistan's earlier assurances -the first given to India by the country's former military dictator Pervez Musharraf in 1996- that it would not allow its territory to be used for terror activities in other countries was exposed by the self-exiled dictator's own admission two years ago in an interview with German magazine Der Spiegel that "Pakistan had trained underground militant groups to fight in Kashmir".
The Pakistani authorities repeated declarations of not permitting its soil to be used by the militants against other countries have proved to be hypocritical by the continued terror strikes -the 26/11 Mumbai attack being the last big strike- against India by the ISI-trained militants. Pakistan first denied that the perpetrators of the Mumbai attack were its citizens. But later it had to admit that they were. Under global pressure Pakistan was forced to initiate action against them.
Leave aside the long history of India and Pakistan's ruptured relationship, Pakistan has lately been under attack from its closest allies USA and China. It is the continuous sponsoring of terror violence in the foreign lands by Pakistan's still all-powerful Army and its ISI which are mainly responsible for Pakistan's growing global isolation. Even a US top General recently held Pakistan responsible for the deteriorating ties between the two countries mainly because of the ISI's encouragement of the terrorists, as revealed by the ISI agent Ghulam Nabi Fai's arrest by the FBI.
Pakistan agencies have been sponsoring terror attacks not only in Jammu and Kashmir and other parts of India, they are also now ordering killing of some Kashmiri separatists and religious leaders. The latest instance is the assassination of Moulvi Showkat Shah, former head of the pro-separatist socio-religious group Jamiat-e-Ahle Hadees. He was killed in a bomb attack while he was entering the mosque for Friday prayers on April 8 last. First blaming the Army for his assassination, the Lashkar-e-Toiba carried out an internal investigation into the cleric's killing. The Lashkar's report released on August 25 by an All-party Probe Committee comprising all the separatist bodies said that one of its own members murdered Shah following instructions from "Pakistani handlers".
Pakistan's role in promoting terrorism in other countries has already boomeranged as the country itself has now become a victim of escalating terror violence of which its commercial capital Karachi has become a major target after the north-western tribal region.
Pakistan is reaping what its successive governments had sown. In the 1980s, the ISI and CIA trained and armed Talibans to fight the Soviet Army in Afghanistan. After Soviets ouster, Pakistan, in collaboration with the US, propped up the Talibans to form government in the country. But after the US Army ousted the Taliban regime in the wake of 9/11 US attacks, the Jihadis, indoctrinated by Pakistan's religious fanatics, made Pakistan their target. While Taliban militants from Afghanistan are launching cross border raids to kill Pakistan's security men, the country's own home grown Taliban whose terror attacks have been on the rise now threaten Pakistan's survival as an independent entity. By sponsoring terror attacks first in India and then in Afghanistan, Pakistani rulers forgot they were riding a tiger, not knowing how to get off without being eaten.
Pakistan seems to have now realized its folly of nursing and sponsoring terror in other countries. It is this realisation that is apparently behind its seemingly keen desire to seek peace with India as reflected in the country's Foreign Minister Khar's conciliatory utterances during her recent visit to India. (IPA)

The modern slave trade

By Harjeet Singh

Two centuries after the abolition of slavery we are seeing the reintroduction of an abominable practice: human trafficking. The International Labour Organisation (ILO) estimates that 12.3 million people each year are taken captive by networks tied to international crime and used as forced labour in inhuman conditions.
In the case of women, the victims are subjected mostly to sexual exploitation while others are exploited as domestic servants. There is also the case of youths who are taken captive through various scams so their body parts can be sold in the international human organ trade.
These practices are expanding more and more to satisfy the demand for cheap labour in sectors like the hotel and restaurant industries, agriculture, and construction. The OSCE dedicated two days of its last international conference in Vienna in late June to this subject.
Though the phenomenon is international, various specialists asserted that the plague of slave labour is growing rapidly in the EU. Unions and labour groups estimate that in Europe there are hundreds of thousands of workers subjected to the blight of slavery.
In Spain, France, Italy, the Netherlands, the UK, and other countries of the EU, foreign migrant workers attracted by the mirage of Europe find themselves trapped in the networks of various mafias and working in conditions like slaves of past ages.
An ILO report reveals that south of Naples, for example, 1200 homeless farm labourers work twelve hours per day in greenhouses without contracts and for miserable pay, guarded by private militias and living in what resemble concentration camps.
This "work camp" is not the only one in Europe; thousands and thousands of undocumented immigrants have met similar fates, victims of a modern slave trade flourishing in any number of European countries.
Responsibility for this expansion of human trafficking lies largely with the current dominant economic model. In effect, the form of neo-liberal globalisation than has been imposed over the last three decades through economic shock therapy has devastated the most fragile levels of society and imposed extremely high social costs. It has created a fierce competition between labour and capital.
In the name of free trade, the major multinationals manufacture and sell their goods around the world, producing where labour is cheapest and selling where the cost of living is highest. The new capitalism has made competitiveness its primary engine and brought about a commodification of labour and labourers.
Globalisation, which offers remarkable opportunities to a lucky few, imposes on the rest, in Europe, a ruthless and unmediated competition between EU salary workers, small businesses, small farmers and their badly-paid, exploited counterparts on the other side. The result we now see clearly before us: social dumping on a planetary scale.
For employment the result is disastrous. For example, in France in the last twenty years this phenomenon has caused the elimination of more than two million jobs in the industrial sector alone.
In Europe where there is a chronic shortage of labour tend to use undocumented workers, which in turn fuels the trafficking of more workers by clandestine networks that in many cases force them into slave labour.
Despite the many tools of international law available to combat these crimes, and despite the proliferation of public statements by government officials condemning them, the public will to put an end to the practice is weak. In reality, the management of industry and construction and major agricultural exporters exert constant pressure on governments to turn a blind eye to the trafficking of undocumented workers.
Today's human traffickers are not the only ones exploiting slave labour: now a form of 'legal servitude' is being developed. Last February in Italy Fiat served its workers with the following extortionate ultimatum: either agree to work more, for less money or the company will shift operations to Eastern Europe. Faced with the prospect of being fired and terrorised by the conditions 63 per cent of the Fiat workers voted for their own exploitation.
In Europe many employers, taking advantage of the crisis and brutal fiscal adjustment policies being imposed, are trying to establish similar forms of 'legal servitude.' Thanks to the tools made available by neo-liberal globalisation, they threaten their workers with savage competition from cheap labour in distant countries. If we are to avoid this form of corrosive social regression, we will have to begin to question the current workings of globalisation - and begin the process of deglobalisation. (INAV)



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