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Mumbai Terror Spurred by Drugs? December 2, 2008

Posted by Joseph in India, Terror.
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The question of how such a small number of militants battled India’s finest commandos for such a long time was answered recently by the Daily Mail.

That’s right, apparently the terrorists were spurred on by narcotics, namely cocaine, mildly believable although probably not recommended or efficient for the task of over fifty hours continual fighting and the real icing on the journalistic cake LSD.

Yes the perpetrators of one of India’s most audacious terrorist attacks were injecting themselves with one of the most potent hallucinogens known to humankind.

This begs a number of questions. Firstly why anybody would think it was a good idea, given the obvious aim of ruthless killing to inject themselves with a mind altering substance. Secondly, if they were tripping how the hell did they manage to reap so much havoc?

Now please take the time to examine this evidence testing precisey the effect of TRYING to fight on the narcotic, especially if one is tempted to trust the Daily Mail:

It does not take a brain surgeon to work out that LSD is illegal, not because of the ruthless, aggressive efficiency it bestowes upon the user but because of the debilitating intoxication it results in.

The Daily Mail quotes an unnamed ‘official’, presumably unnamed because he is an official of nothing more than spouting crap. The article carries on with the ‘official’ explaining that they had ‘dietary training’. How this was gleaned from the wreckage is not stated but shows a fondness of fiction.

If ever there was a need for accurate well researched journalism it is in a time of crisis, a time when tensions soar and fears are heightened. Sadly at this time of grief and shock the rags of a perishing industry serve to humiliate and ridicule the intelligence of the public.

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Orissa in flames… October 8, 2008

Posted by Joseph in Caste, India.
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The violence that has engulfed Orissa, India and spread through neighbouring states is now a month old and with fresh impetus for action appearing from above action is slowly stirring.

Albeit stirring from a sickening slumber. On the fourth of October it was reported that 4 men had been arrested for the vicious gang rape and ‘parading’ of a Catholic nun. This occurred in full view of the police. This tell tale behaviour; the sexual humiliation of a Dalit woman with full impunity from the local police is typical of many atrocities committed in caste related conflicts to stamp authority on an upstart Dalit community. Whether they are ‘copy cat’ crimes or reveal more about ritual humiliation and fear is unclear, what is however, is that prosecutions and police action are always hard to attain, only the shock and shame of a nation at large can usually bring about punishment.

The violence in Orissa erupted when a Hindu holy man, Laxmananda Saraswati, was murdered. Tensions no doubt had been simmering for some time. On many accounts because of the activities of men such as Saraswati and caste and religious tension between a Hindu tribal group the Khanda and the Dalit sub caste the Pana, many of whom have converted to Chritianity.

Conversions rank upon the Hindu hall of sins as one of the worst. A major feature of Abrahamic religion is conversion and redemption, a popular notion by all accounts. This is something that the rigid caste based Hindu system is deeply powerless against. The caste system being as it is heavily oppressive to those at the bottom of the social and economic hierarchy, makes other, redemptive religions offering a way of bypassing this hierarchy, highly attractive. The hierarchy however is one that higher castes benefit a huge amount from, in their dominance of society.

Just as in the Southern Sates of the U.S. slaves were a beneficial facet of the economy to the forces that were, it therefore resulted in a multitude of bitter lies and racism when those slaves decided that enough was enough. Bitterness that comes when one realises that one’s existence is not superior to the other and that one’s oppression has no justification on inferiority or inherent destiny. That one’s dominance is being challenged by those you despise, because your dominance is based on violence and has no merit whatsoever.

Just as in the ‘deep south’ blacks were characterised as dangerous sub humans and labelled and associated with all sorts of misdemeanour’s and subversive activities, the act of rebellion (converting to Christianity) has apparently made the Pana Dalit’s ‘aggressive’. This is the excuse for why nearly 15,000 of them now reside in camps, as refugees, having been forced out of their homes by force.

Naturally the murder of the fire brand holy man, Saraswati has resulted in arrests. Confusingly the assailants have been labelled as both Christians and Maoists. Whilst the CPI (ML) (Communist Party of India Marxist Leninist) has spoken out against the wanton murder and violence against Christians it is unclear if the Maoists (Naxalites) had any part to play in the murder of the 80 year old priest.

Dr. Binayak Sen: One Year Inside April 30, 2008

Posted by Joseph in India.
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Dr Binayak Sen was first jailed a year ago this May. A passive victim of draconian policing in the ongoing war between Maoist insurgents (Naxalites) and government forces in Eastern India, he has however received the prestigious Jonathan Mann award this week.

Dr. Sen was initially jailed on charges of smuggling notes out of jail after visiting incarcerated insurgents, an accusation he strongly denies and that the government has so far failed to bring to court or provide evidence for. The law that they used to arrest him was called the Chhatisgarh Special Public Security Act 2006, and on all accounts is like alot of modern ‘anti-terror’ legislation, watery, ill defined and with the appearance of a political tool, to avenge enemies(critics) of the state. Human Rights Watch has even called the law ‘in violation of the Indian Constitution and international Human rights law’.

His jailing has aroused controversy and condemnation from thinkers and activists globally. But it draws light on conflicts that stretch deep into the unseen folds of modern India; both political and economic.

Chhatisgarh is a state privy to this huge turmoil; with rural lifestyles all over India are being uprooted and devastated, as evidenced by the farmer suicides in Maharashtra, documented by Partha Sainath and the passionate protests in Nandigram, West Bengal. Chhatisgarh is also home to huge mineral reserves, and it was the miners of these mines that, amongst others, he assisted.

As a consequence Dr. Sen is characterised and famous for his commitment to the poor and to their human rights, that have not only bought him notoriety but recently trouble. As well as running a clinic for the poor he was also the director of People’s Union of Civil Liberties (PUCL) in the state.

The military and political conflict in that part of the world is not new, but divides communities and castes today as it has done for decades. The government of late have taken too arming local people into ‘militias’ called Salwa Judum to fight the Maoists, who are popular with the disenfranchised.

The practice of salwa judum was recently the subject of serious criticism from a government appointed panel. Furthermore they have cleared an estimated 600 villages in southern Chhatisgarh moving the afflicted villagers into ‘camps’ more often than not against their wishes.

Human Rights Watch suspect that his criticism of the Chhatsigrah Special Security Act and the human rights abuses of the para military salwa julum are what may have prompted his arrest. It is a climate that the writer and campaigner Arundhati Roy has described as ‘you are either with us or against us’. Peaceful critics are therefore in the line of fire.

Dr Sen has felt the force of what he has fought so passionately against. He lives in the perpetual fear that because of his moral convictions he may never know freedom again.

Narendra Modi Dictionary of Double Speak December 17, 2007

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The effervescent Gujarat Chief Minister is not a man to mince his words. Indeed the use of one of his favourite words is very selective. Terror or terrorism in the Modi dictionary is any act of violence imagined or otherwise perpetrated by Muslims. What is NOT terrorism however are state sponsored pogroms of religious or ethnic minorities in which thousands are butchered and hundreads of thousands made homeless.

Gotta love these crazy cats and what they do to language………

State Terror:Gujarat Style October 26, 2007

Posted by Joseph in India, Terror.
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The excellent Tehelka weekly newspaper has recently released some incredibly revealing investigative material exposing one of India’s largest political parties the BJP as complicit in the Gujurat pogrom of 2002.

The case is a long running feud that begun when a train carrying hindu pilgrims caught fire. No one knows whether this was an act of arson or an accident, various theories and explanations have circulated and been bitterly contested.

As this was India, the loss of hindu pilgrims was swiftly felt amongst the nearby muslim communities; revenge mob-attacks that left the streets of Ahmedabad stained with blood and death.

Convictions or justice were non existant in the BJP run state, depsite the fact that as many as 2,000 mainly muslims perished and numerous women were raped.

Most shockingly the Gujurat chief minister remains the same to this day, Narendra Modi; proud tolerator, if not convenor of genocide and orchetsrator of Gujurat, Ghandi’s state becoming known synonymously with extremism.

Modi once said on the Mumbai blasts that ‘terrorism is worse than war’; one wonders what he had in mind when he allowed his saffron cadres free reign for three days of carnge….?

Indian Coppers… June 1, 2007

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On the eve of a mass rally here in the sweat box of Calcutta, I await the reaction of the west Bengal police…..

My last encounter with these venerable professionals came back in March outside the planning commission in New Delhi. It was world water day and I had got washed along with knot of activists from the nearby jantar Mantar, an ancient astronomical device and currently a Hyde Park corner incarnation in the leafy center of Delhi.

A gang of activists mainly from the Narmada Bachao Andolen were attempting to give a petition to a minister, they had entered the gates and were conducting a sit in by the front door whilst I stood with a gaggle of other peering through the front gates.

The gaggle had started to chant slogans and generally agitate in an attempt to try and get in…..

They had formed a sort of picket and the faces of the police men inside the gates started to show the tell tale signs of panic as they slowly started clutching their long attack sticks….notoriously known as ‘lathis’.

All of a sudden storm troopers, beefier blue/grey cammo clad paramilitary types appeared by the front door, how they had breached the sari clad gaggle was a mystery, perhaps the ministers secret getaway tunnel…..

The troopers began to try and forcibly remove the sit in, dragging the protesters towards us at the gate. The police then performed a difficult percolation operation. Attempting to get sit in members out without letting us in. This turned into what can only be likened to a rugby scrum, a strange one at that, for team members nor opposition had shorts on or wooly socks, one side was probably less than 5 feet tall on average and clad in saris while the other were the biggest, nastiest Indians outside the RSS death squads (or probably army).

We heaved and chanted trying to keep the gate shut, when behind us more of the swine appeared, some plain clothed. Before I knew it a large guy with an impressive tash had lunged at me and applied what I now know as the hindu death pinch to my bicep….shuddering I turned and screamed at my assailant, the confrontation only induced more of the attackers to join in and they deftly hurled me into the back of an old tata lorry……

This soon filled up to levels surpassing even the Indian bus service. 30-40 sweating protesters jammed in chanting their heads off, in 40 degree heat sealed like a nazi sweat lodge.

The parliament street police station is an old colonial building, elegantly set around a courtyard and run like some sadistic show room and was our destination.

It was full of different police men laughing and joking vindictively at their latest inmates, their jeers however did not deter my comrades who maintained good voice and continued their sit in….luckily the police force is a maliable, chaotic institution and I sat alone and started to put an up standing whitey look on my face; the talk was of prison!

Gradually the protesters were ushered towards a seated officer taking registration at my turn I demanded to know what I had been arrested for and blathered about representation and the nation…..this amused the officer and I think ultimately persuaded him that I didn’t have the faintest idea what was going on…..and at this he told me to chalo….get the hell out: back of the net!

relief, no gruel or buggery for me!

FAIR & HANDSOME…. May 30, 2007

Posted by Joseph in Caste, India.
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Fair and Handsome
4000 years of racism distilled into a bottle and spread over the airwaves every ten minutes to millions of souls.

Driving through the streets of Delhi there is only one thing on the airwaves that everyone must listen to; Cricket. And after every over we are transported away from the maidan (cricket pitch) and the baying joyful crowds and taken on a journey through the psyche and history of this immense subcontinent.
‘Hey, handsome hey’ calls the voice from the radio – in English – and then a plug for Unilever’s ‘Fair and Handsome’ whitening cream. ‘Handsome’ because it is said to whiten the skin of boys and men, this fairness (here in between the cricket (naturally it is on t.v. as well), will ‘of course’ enable one to be more successful with the opposite sex and generally be more ‘successful’ in life.
I have discussed this with many puzzled white folk who compare it to the tanning fad that has engrossed image conscious people in the west and has now even compelled ageing men to further wrinkle their skin and turn it a strange shade of orange. This new trend has sprung up in western post-materialist societies where most of us are not ‘fortunate’ enough to spend our days toiling under the sun, where we hark for the healthy glow of living in a Mediterranean rural idyll, or it could also indicate that one is rich enough to have been on holiday to some where hot and sunny; always a hand when engaged in the most important of tasks; engaging with the opposite sex.
However, it appears whitening, while possessing much of the same allure as western tanning in much of Asia, also has a deeper historical element in India that could only be described as one of the most deep routed and complex systems of racial, discrimination in existence.
The evidence suggests and it is widely believed that in the 2nd millennia BCE, a nomadic peoples known as Aryans entered North West India and settled. The method of migration; conquest or assimilation, as you can imagine is a hotly debated political issue within India. Who were these people and how did they relate to the existing inhabitants of what is today India and is probably best described as the ‘gangetic’ plain?
They were probably lighter skinned and it is probable they had very different lifestyles. For many this is the start of the caste system. The new comers would have asserted a new hegemony on the local population, not unlike a colonial occupation but with a longevity incomparable to modern examples. Initial assertions of class, or hierarchy one imagines, would have been of a violent nature but slowly as the Aryan families begun to dominate certain professions through nepotism and as this new system evolved it became asserted in religious documents such as Manu Smriti, written, naturally by the highest castes, namely Brahmins.
The castes were described as Varnas, which translates variously as arrangement, hierarchy or most notably colour. Thus we see that the evolution of caste and the growth of a hierarchy has a direct link to colour. Undoubtedly this is linked to an intentionally developed aspirational system that will denote ones occupation.
Ok, so buy fair and handsome, or fair and lovely, if you are a lady and it will help denote that one is from better ‘stock’ one doesn’t work in the fields or do nasty manual labour.
These lighter skinned families also managed too, partly through the occupations that the darker skinned folk carried out and partly through sheer propaganda, associate darker skin with ‘impurity’ and even dirtiness over the years. Caste and darkness are not strictly linked; it is an assumption that pervades society.
This culture and attitude affects the whole fabric and make up of Indian culture and life. Large campaigns and multitudes of parties and individuals have fought for the overthrow of this system and its shackles yet the oppression of class is still very real today, some 4000 years after the arrival of these tribes*. The combined force, however of subtle discrimination and now of marketing manages to hold in place the traditional hierarchies.
Fairness cream accounts for 60% of the Indian facial cream market. The market is a hot bed of vicious global competition. With ‘veritable’ institutions from Europe and the U.S. and cheap ‘unofficial’ (‘care and lovely’) varieties all fighting to smear their vile bleach paste on to the faces of the image conscious citizens of India; there seems an up hill struggle in removing this craze. Women’s groups have been vocal in campaigning against these products and the insidious adverts but for much more well publicised reasons. It is difficult to see a light at the end of this ‘fair’ tunnel; the subconscious is the marketing man’s greatest friend and common senses great enemy within. The beauty industry will no doubt continue exploiting and enhancing people’s prejudices in their brain dead hunt for a larger market share using time honoured propaganda Goebels would have been proud of.
So if you’re feeling a bit dark or under appreciated and you fancy getting an education or maybe you want to get a good job, or get a lover, just remember you’re cream; you really will need it! Hey handsome, Hey……..
*Most notably Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar (1891-1956), alternately credited with being ‘father of the Dalits’, architect of the Indian constitution and India’s greatest human rights campaigner. He inspired and pioneered the rigorous uncompromising demand for equality and human rights amongst the most oppressed in India.