SACW | Jan.31- Feb 2, 2007

Harsh Kapoor aiindex at
Thu Feb 1 19:46:28 CST 2007

South Asia Citizens Wire  | January 31- February 
2, 2007 | Dispatch No. 2356 - Year 8

[1]  Sri Lanka: Towards a bilingual administration (Ayesha Zuhair)
[2]  India: Remembering P.C. Joshi and The 
Culture of Communal Harmony (Daya Varma)
[3]  India: When bigotry blocks the truth (Editorial, The Hindu)
[4]  India: A letter to To the Peace loving 
People of Faizabad (Manjulrani Tripathi, 
[5]   India: An Affront to Secularism - Why 
bhoomi puja in Singur is such a great let-down 
(Ashok Mitra)
[6]  India: Gujarat's 2002 riot victims still 
living as refugees (Syed Khalique Ahmed)
[7]  Making hindutva and eating samosas in America (Gautam Bhatia)
[8]  Upcoming Events: 
    (i) National Strategy Meeting On SEZ and 
Displacement Due To Large Projects (Wardha,  9 
   (ii) Exploring Masculinities: A South Asian 
Travelling Seminar (New Delhi, 13-14 February 
   (iii) Conference  "Religion in Security 
Politics", (?, Denmark, 29 - 30th March, 2007)



Daily Mirror
1 February 2007


The state bureaucracy is essential for the proper 
enforcement of the Official Language Act

By Ayesha Zuhair

Language is a fundamental element of identity for 
communities the world over. It is a tool that is 
central to the expression of culture.The loss of 
language is equated with the loss of culture and 
thereby, the loss of identity. That is why it has 
been argued that the preservation of the 
languages of the various ethnic groups in a 
multi-cultural society is critical for the 
preservation of cultural heritage and identity. 
Repudiating cultural expression, on the other 
hand, limits the expression of inimitable 
perspectives on life and stifles diversity, the 
essential component of creative, dynamic and 
progressive societies.
The Official Language Act of 1952
When the Sinhala Only Act was passed in the Sri 
Lankan Parliament in 1956, making Sinhala the 
sole official language of the country, it served 
as a catalyst for simmering tensions between the 
Sinhalese majority and the Tamils who make up the 
single largest minority. The populist move was 
seen as a deliberate attempt to suppress the 
expression of Tamil culture, leading to riots 
later that year.
In many discussions, historians and conflict 
analysts have cited the Sinhala Only Act as one 
of the factors which contributed to the build-up 
of ethnic hostilities and have described it as a 
myopic move produced by wave of nationalistic 
sentiments and capitalised upon by political 
leaders of that era.
As Bertram Bastiampillai, Emeritus Senior 
Professor of the University of Colombo noted, 
language has been a thorny issue and the Sinhala 
Only Act was viewed as a direct attempt to 
disenfranchise Tamils in the fields of education 
and employment while inhibiting the expression of 
Tamil culture.
The Act was not followed by subsidiary 
legislation in the form of regulations, but its 
implementation was based on policy statements and 
cabinet directives. When Sinhala became the 
official state language, Tamil-speaking employees 
in the public sector who were not conversant in 
Sinhala were rendered unemployed.
The Official Languages Act of 1987
The 1978 Constitution declared Sinhala and Tamil 
as official languages but Sinhala was retained 
the sole official language. This indicated a 
slight shift from the 1956 Act that declared 
explicitly that the Sinhala language shall be the 
one official language of the state. "The Act was 
ambiguous and did not grant parity of status to 
the Tamil language. Even though Tamil was 
declared a national language, it reiterated that 
the official language of Sri Lanka shall be 
Sinhala," Professor Bastiampillai observed.
Later, through the 13th Amendment to the 
Constitution in 1987, the Official Language Act 
declared both Sinhala and Tamil as official 
languages of Sri Lanka. This followed the 
Indo-Lanka Accord of July 1987.  In terms of 
Article 18.1 "The official language of Sri Lanka 
shall be Sinhala" and Article 18.2 avers that, 
"Tamil shall also be an official language."

But despite its enactment, the Act was which 
recognised the parity of status between Sinhala 
and Tamil has been long ignored; its centrality 
to resolving the country's protracted armed 
conflict all but forgotten.  Undoubtedly, the 
proper implementation of the Act can play a 
pivotal role in creating a conducive atmosphere 
for promoting co-existence and building peace.

Telling figures and facts

Sri Lankan Tamils (13%), Tamils of recent Indian 
origin (6%) and Muslims (7%) form the 
Tamil-speaking population of the country. 
Chairman of the Official Languages Commission, 
Raja Collure quoting statistics released by the 
Department of Census and Statitics in 2000, said 
that even though Tamil-speaking people comprise 
26% of the island's population, they make up just 
8.31% of the public service.

Expressing his disgruntlement on the state of 
affairs, Dr. Hilary Cooray, President of the 
Organisation of Professional Associations (OPA) 
stated that even though Tamil was recognised as 
an official language, it was unfortunate that 
Tamil-speaking people continue to face 
discrimination and harassment in public 

"If you take the Wellawatte Police Station as a 
simple example, Tamil citizens are not able to 
make a complaint in their language. This is 
despite Wellawatte being a predominantly Tamil 
To give another example, most of the signposts in 
the city which signal the uniflow traffic 
directions are in Sinhalese," Dr. Cooray said.The 
OPA which recently met the Minister of 
Constitutional Affairs and National Integration 
D.E.W. Gunesekera, urged him to take steps to 
fully implement the country's language policy. 
They also requested him to consider making Tamil 
a compulsory subject for Sinhala medium students, 
and Sinhala a compulsory subject for Tamil medium 

"Even though the Act is adequate, its 
implementation is far from satisfactory. We 
strongly feel that the will and cooperation of 
the state bureaucracy is essential for the proper 
enforcement of legislation," Dr.  Cooray said. 
Moreover, just as Tamils faced linguistic 
problems in South, the same is true of Sinhalese 
living in the North and East who are minorities 
in those regions. Since all official business is 
conducted in the Tamil language, the Sinhala 
community is encountering numerous difficulties.

Stifling a vital institution
Mr. Raja Collure blamed treasury officials for 
slashing funds allotted to the Commission for 
2007 despite the increasing costs incurred by 
them. The Commission had requested Rs. 13 mn for 
the current year out of a serious necessity for 
funding, but will receive only Rs. 10.4 mn 
instead, which is a reduction of Rs. 400,000 from 
the Rs. 10.8 mn received last year, Mr.  Collure 
said. While acknowledging that the Treasury too 
had to cope with mounting expenses, Mr. Collure 
insisted that it was inapt to slash funding for 
the Commission, as it is an important instrument 
for national integration. "This is not an item 
that should have been cut by those handling 
budget preparations. It goes to show that the 
officials concerned do not appreciate the 
importance of implementing and monitoring the 
Official Languages Act," he said.

The Commission chairman said that the government 
bureaucracy has not treated the implementation of 
the Act as a serious matter, even though 
political authorities have issued several 
circulars calling for its enforcement.

Incentives for bilinguals
On a more positive note, Mr. Collure disclosed 
that a circular will be issued by early February 
to increase the incentives given to all members 
of the public service who meet the stipulated 
bilingual (Sinhala and Tamil) competence 
requirements in accordance with three identified 
This follows a Cabinet Memo tabled and approved 
in August 2006 on the recommendations of the 

The grades have been divided thus: managerial or 
executive level service, management assistance 
service and comparable grades, and clerical 
service.  Rs. 25,000, Rs. 20,000 and Rs. 15,000 
will be offered for the three grades respectively 
in addition to an allowance, where applicable.
Mr. Collure explained that the general 
requirement was to meet the G.C.E.  standard in 
addition to sitting for an exam conducted by the 
Official Languages Department. State sector 
employees will have to sit for this exam every 
five years in order to refresh their language 
In 1956, an incentive of Rs. 500 was offered for 
those competent in Sinhalese and the sum was 
sufficient to purchase to block of land in 
Colombo then. However, since the same amount is 
insignificant today, the Commission had proposed 
a substantive incremnt.

"We are happy that this recommendation is going 
to be implemented very soon," the Commission 
chairman stated. He added that even though there 
is a slight advancement in the implementation of 
the Official Languages Act, much more remains to 
be done.

Addressing a root cause
Statesmen (if there are any remaining, that is) 
ought to study the linguistic problem of Sri 
Lanka in an objective manner so that minorities 
will not have to seek extreme methods to realise 
their legitimate aspirations. As Dr. Hillary 
Cooray noted, "Since the seeds of the ethnic 
conflict were sown by the language policy of 
1956, language will have to act as a launching 
pad for all attempts to bridge the divisions."

Understanding and valuing cultural diversity – 
which includes the critical component of language 
– are the keys to countering racism and promoting 
tolerant societies. Based on this understanding, 
Sri Lanka should work towards establishing a 
bilingual administration that is not just 
restricted to the statute books, but is 
applicable for the lives of her citizens.



INSAF Bulletin 58
February 2007


by Daya Varma

In the 1940's the Communist Party of India (CPI) 
was not very big but its influence was far beyond 
its size (see note 1). Until 1942, CPI was with 
the Congress and Puran Chand  Joshi, the General 
Secretary of CPI directly interacted with 
Congress leaders including Gandhi and Nehru. CPI 
membership comprised of both progressive Muslims 
and Hindus without even a hint of who was what. 
Women were attracted to the party, not just 
symbolically but in large numbers, so much so 
that the enemies of the party ran the propaganda 
that this was why men joined the party. The 
intellectual caliber of a large number of its 
members was second to none.

Such was the cultural life of India that even the 
ugly communal carnage of the partition was unable 
to affect the vibrant and composite culture of 
India, so much so that the Sangh Parivar, not yet 
fully developed, targeted all its attacks on 
communists. Could that atmosphere again become 
the norm of India? I think and hope so. But who 
will pioneer that movement?  Communists are still 
the most
non-compromising secular force, and while the 
various communist formations are not friends of 
each other on most other issues, their position 
regarding the scourge of religious fundamentalism 
is similar.  Whether they do something about it 
is quite another matter.

Reading the journals and pamphlets and listening 
to speeches of the leaders, and paying attention 
to their priorities, the Communist Party of India 
(CPI) still is much more conscious of this legacy 
than any other formation.  Their official organ 
New Age still has at least one column against 
Hindutva fascism in practically each issue. So 
when I saw the article "P.C. Joshi and cultural 
renaissance in India" by Anil Rajimwale in the 
CPI publication New Age, Dec 31, 2006, I was very 
moved. This was also because even the CPI does 
not accord due importance to PC Joshi's 
contributions. May be some day, CPI will take 
honest stock of its history and give due 
importance to PC Joshi's contribution. Whenever I 
pass by Comrade Indrajit Gupta Marg in Delhi, I 
see all kinds of names on the signboards but not 
his name, not even in CPI Office.

Some comrades of Joshi have established a 
Joshi-Adhikari Foundation, but it receives little 
encouragement. Puran Chand Joshi, M.A., LL.B. was 
born in 1907 in Almora, then in UP but now in 
Uttaranchal, and died on Nov 9, 1980 in Delhi. 
His wife and comrade   Kalpana Dutt, whose 
revolutionary career predated the founding of the 
Party, died on Feb.8, 1995 in Calcutta. PC Joshi, 
popularly known as just PC, was drawn to the 
ideals of communism while a student at Allahabad 
University, just like so many giants of 
yesteryears were drawn to the British Communist 
Party while at Cambridge.

PC organized the UP branch of CPI in 1928, within 
three years of the founding of the Party. He was 
convicted in the Meerut Conspiracy case and 
remained in jail till 1933 (he passed his LLB 
exam from jail). He was elected General Secretary 
of CPI in 1935 and disgracefully removed in 1948 
during the ascendancy of BT Ranadive (BTR). Soon 
after, he was expelled from the Party. 
Fortunately he was in India and not in the Soviet 
Union of Stalin and did not meet the fate of 
Bukharin and other dedicated communists.  He was 
readmitted in the Party again in 1951 (Bukharin 
was, posthumously, after the 20th Congress of 
CPSU) and again elected to the Central Committee 
in 1956. PC Joshi was a dynamic leader of the 
Communist Party of India (CPI) and a great 
organizer. I do not   intend to describe various 
contributions of PC Joshi - only the area covered 
in the New Age article, which records his 
contribution to the cultural renaissance.

It was during PC Joshi's leadership and at his 
initiative, that two important institutions came 
into being - PWA (Progressive Writer's 
Association) and IPTA (Indian People's Theatre 
Association). Every sensitive and talented artist 
or writer in undivided India (later India and 
Pakistan) was either a member or a friend of PWA 
and IPTA. I would rather say that any artist who 
was not part of or a friend of PWA or IPTA was 
not an artist of any stature.

Some of the luminaries of PWA and IPTA were 
Munshi Prem Chand, Sajjad Zaheer, Faiz Ahmad 
Faiz, Josh Malihabadi, Kaifi Azami, Sahir 
Ludhianvi, Israr-ul-Haq  Majaz Lucknawi, Balraj 
Sahni, Ghulam Ahmad Mahjoor and Dina Nath Nadim 
(from Kashmir),  Mukhdoom Mohiuddin, Majrooh 
Sultanpuri, Ali Sardar Jafri, Rajendra Singh 
Bedi, Krishna Chand, Onkar Nath Thakur, Saadat 
Hasan Manto,  Krishan Chander,  Khwaja Ahmad 
Abbas, Hasrat Jaipuri, Shailendra,, Ram Lal 
(storywriter), Ismat Chughtai, Ehtesham Husain, 
Mudra Rakshas,  Akhtar Husain Raipuri, Ahmad 
Nadeem Qasmi, Salil Chaudhury, Mukri, Jan Nisar 
Akhtar, Viqar Ambalavi, Firaq Gorakhpuri, Sarosh 
Kashmiri, Jameel Manzari, Masood Akhtar Jamal, 
Ahmad Faraz (now in Pakistan,  N.A. Qasimi and 
many more. As well, there were many Hindi writers 
like Munshi Premchand, Rahul  Sankrityayana, 
Nirala (Suryakant Tripathi), Ram Vilas Sharma, 
Shivdan Singh Chauhan, Vijay Chauhan, Shiv Mangal 
Singh Suman, Rangeya Raghav,  Prabhakar, Machwe, 
Sheel, Brajendra Gaur,Yashpal, Amrit Rai, Bhairav 
Prasad Gupt, Bhawani Prasad Mishra, Muktibodh, 
Nagarjun (Vaidyanath Mishra) Ram Asrey, etc.

A 13-episode documentary (Mamoo Jaan ki diary) 
narrated by Syed Mohammed Mehdi of Aligarh, the 
only surviving member of the trio of Kaifi, 
Makhdoom, and himself, and produced by his son 
Feroz Mehdi of Montreal is to be aired on Door 
Darshan (it can be made available here). The 
documentary  gives a nostalgic  portrayal of 
those days and those lives; not every one is 
mentioned but the spirit is collective. As I.K. 
Shukla (LA, California) wrote to me, art and 
literature in India never saw anything like it 
before or after, unless it be the medieval Mughal 
period of the sufi-bhakti poets.

One of the key features of PWA and IPTA was that 
their contribution to the cause of Indian 
revolution  and composite culture was through 
their talents as writers or performers and not 
just as agitators for the Communist Party. 
Perhaps the major exception was when Sajjad 
Zaheer was sent to Pakistan to organize the 
Communist Party there, which did not prove very 
helpful (incidentally Nehru appealed to the Party 
to persuade Sajjad Zaheer and Josh to stay in 
India).  As well, Mukhdoom was a brilliant trade 
union organizer and a leader of the Telangana 

The current CPI does not have such vibrant 
organizations. CPM in many ways tries to abide by 
this principle through its support to the role of 
organizations like Sahmat of which a talented 
member, Safdar Hashmi, was murdered by 
reactionaries several years ago. Other Communist 
formations also have cultural or women's wings 
but they are more of direct propaganda wing of 
their respective parties and unfortunately not as 
messengers of revolution through their 
professional talents and many believe that not 
much can change until socialism prevails.

I had the privilege of working under PC Joshi for 
just a few weeks as a courier during the Textile 
Worker's Strike in Kanpur in 1954. PC Joshi was 
underground at that time. The last I saw him was 
addressing a cultural gathering in Ghalib 
Academy, Delhi, on the occasion of Kaifi Azami's 
birth anniversary in which the great Begum Akhtar 
recited some of Kaifi's poems. This was a 
gathering of admirers of Joshi and Kaifi, a 
gathering of  condemned revisionists.

(I wish to express my heartfelt thanks to I.K. 
Shukla, Zafar Iqbal, Vinod Mubayi and feroz Mehdi 
who supplied many of the names of members and 
sympathizers of PWA and IPTA with encouraging and 
helpful comments. I will not be misrepresenting 
them if I say that all of them see the importance 
of rejuvenating progressive culture. Zafar also 
sent the link given below. Daya Varma)'_Movement



The Hindu
February 02, 2007



There is something deeply wrong in Gujarat, an 
advanced State in terms of conventional 
development indicators. For the second time in a 
year, a film duly cleared by the Central Board of 
Film Certification for public exhibition is not 
being shown there because movie hall owners are 
scared of incurring the wrath of lumpen foot 
soldiers of the Hindu Right. If the first film, 
Fanaa, was blacked out to punish Aamir Khan for 
the support the actor provided to those being 
displaced by the Narmada dam, the second case is 
even worse. Parzania is the true story of a young 
Parsi boy, Azhar Mody. On February 28, 2002, he 
sought refuge along with his family in the house 
of Ehsan Jafri, the former Congress Member of 
Parliament, at the Gulbarg housing society in 
Ahmedabad. Jafri was murdered along with about 60 
other Muslims that evening, despite making 
repeated calls to the police for help. Not so 
well known is the fate that befell the Mody 
family. As the communal killers attacked the 
Jafri residence, Azhar got separated from his 
mother and sister and has not been seen since. He 
was 13 at the time. Parzania is the gut-wrenching 
story of one boy, but it is also the story of 
close to 2,000 people who were killed or went 
missing in the terror that consumed Gujarat under 
the stewardship of Chief Minister Narendra Modi. 
Five years later, his regime shows neither 
remorse nor respect for the rule of law - which 
is a good part of the reason why cinema owners in 
Gujarat are terrified of showing Parzania.

There are those who will argue that Parzania is 
`biased' and does not present `both sides' of the 
story; they may even contend it is 
`inflammatory.' Ever since the Supreme Court's 
1989 decision in the Ore Oru Gramathile case, it 
is settled law that the yardstick for determining 
whether a film is inflammatory or not is the 
perception of an ordinary person "with common 
sense and prudence and not that of an out of the 
ordinary or hypersensitive" person. 
Hypersensitive individuals are free not to see 
the film - or to criticise it using democratic 
means. But to allow threats by bigoted goons to 
block the exhibition of a film that has won the 
necessary certification is to defy the 
Constitution and the law, as interpreted by the 
highest court in the land. There is another 
fundamental principle at stake here. Gujarat 
underwent a terrible trauma in which the communal 
killers not only targeted and victimised an 
entire section of the State's population but also 
turned hundreds of thousands of ordinary people 
into silent bystanders or even accessories. It is 
these mute witnesses of genocidal evil who need 
to see Parzania. Only if the truth is brought out 
into the open can reconciliation take place in a 
polarised society.



Date: Tue, 30 Jan 2007 09:29:22 +0530 (IST)

Dr. Ramashankar Tiwari Tribhuwan Trust
Gandhmadan, Laxmanpuri, Faizabad, UP, India.



Recent shocking and unfortunate communal riots in 
Gorakhpur and neighboring area has disrupted 
peace and communal harmony in the general walk. 
The killings, lootings and arson at various 
places has caused terror and created restlessness 
in the life of general public. The communal riots 
are a slur on the face of any civil society. They 
bring about loss of life and property and create 
rifts in the society. The wounds caused by these 
incidents are not healed easily.

We, the writers and cultural activists associated 
with Dr. Ramashankar Tiwari Tribhuwan Trust, 
strongly condemn the communal forces trying to 
disrupt the communal harmony and peace in the 
life of our civil society. We are of the view 
that such problems are created keeping in mind 
the gain in the coming election, and they are 
therefore more condemnable. We appeal the peace 
loving people to abstain from provoking 
activities of the communal forces and maintain 
communal harmony and peace in the area.


Managing Director 
Secretary for Literature



The Telegraph
February 02, 2007

- Why the bhoomi puja in Singur is such a great let-down
by Ashok Mitra

This piece is being written not from anger. It is 
occasioned by sorrow, despondency and, one must 
add, a sense of humiliation.

Like a bad coin, the Tata small car project in 
Singur, in the district of Hooghly in West 
Bengal, keeps turning up in the news. 
Controversies continue to rage over the procedure 
of acquiring land for the purpose of setting up 
the plant, the justness or otherwise of the 
amount of compensation paid for the individual 
holdings taken over, the terms negotiated by the 
state government with the Tatas concerning the 
fate of those displaced from the land and, 
finally, whether the re-industrialization of West 
Bengal would have to be entirely dependent on the 
magnanimity of those who had de-industrialized it 
in the first place, the state filling the role of 
only a complaisant spectator.

These controversies need not detain us at this 
moment. What however does is a curious event that 
took place in Singur on January 21 last. On that 
day, a bhoomi puja was arranged there to signal 
the start of the small car project. It is not 
altogether clear who sponsored the ceremony. The 
corporate group of the Tatas is dominated by 
members of the Parsi community; it would be 
somewhat extraordinary on their part to organize 
a Hindu ritual as an integral part of any of 
their enterprises. Research concerning the matter 
has not progressed very far; what would be 
interesting to know is whether, in the course of 
the past one century of their being around, the 
Tatas ever commenced the operations of a project 
with the observation of the quintessentially 
Hindu religious observance, bhoomi puja.

There is something of more serious import. 
According to statements made by spokesmen of the 
state government, the 997 acres of land on which 
the project is supposed to come up have been 
acquired by the state on behalf of the West 
Bengal Industrial Development Corporation. The 
entire land is supposed to continue to be in the 
possession of the corporation; the Tatas are 
merely being offered the privilege of 
establishing the factory on its expanse. Were the 
Tatas keen to have a bhoomi puja, it should 
therefore have been obligatory on their part to 
seek the formal approval of the WBIDC. Was such 
permission sought and granted? Assuming the 
response to the query to be in the affirmative, 
did the state industrial corporation seek the 
views of the Left Front government in the matter? 
The corporation, after all, is wholly owned by 
the state government.

The question of permission apart, a number of 
other facts too deserve to be taken note of in 
this connection. The puja ceremony on January 21 
was reportedly attended by top-ranking 
representatives of the state administration, 
including the district magistrate and the 
district superintendent of police; the managing 
director of the WBIDC was also present. The 
entire ceremony was evidently conducted under 
their patronage, and the state administration, 
one cannot abandon the feeling, took a leading 
part in organizing the puja, including taking 
care of such details as renting the services of a 
pujari or fetching from the market the coconut 
shell which was split into two as part of the 
religiosity. The Tata officials in attendance 
were from outside the state and would not have 
been in a position to take charge of these things.

Whatever manner the issues involved are analysed, 
one particular conclusion is inescapable. It was 
bhoomi puja performed on what is claimed to be 
still government property; it was organized by 
government officials qua government officials. 
And this is precisely where anguish begins to 
seize the mind. The multitude of its supporters 
and admirers look up to the Left Front government 
in West Bengal as the repository of secular 
ideals; they pin their faith on it to act as 
vanguard in the relentless fight against the 
fundamentalists and religious obscurantists. They 
consider the left as the only effective 
countervailing force to crush the conspiracy 
launched in the Bharatiya Janata Party-ruled 
states, like Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh, to 
Hinduize secular India. As they view it, India is 
a secular republic; the country's Constitution 
says so. The commitment of the Constitution must 
be honoured and, where necessary, defended till 
the last drop of blood is shed; only the left, 
millions across the country have been accustomed 
to think, could be trusted with this assignment. 
Now they will be in a state of shell shock.

Secularism does not imply, as leaders of the 
Indian National Congress have trained themselves 
to assume, embracing all religions with the same 
fervour. It should, on the other hand, mean that 
the state maintains equal distance from, and 
shows equal indifference to, the different 
religions. The secular-minded in the nation 
cannot but be devastated by the tidings of the 
bhoomi puja at Singur sponsored by the Left Front 
government. It would be of little use for 
higher-ups in the state government to pretend 
that they are not supposed to know of happenings 
at the base of the system. Singur has been a 
sensitive political issue for months; the 
suggestion that important officers belonging to 
the state government could have participated in 
the ritual without the knowledge of their 
political superiors is beyond belief. Nor is 
there any report that any disciplinary 
proceedings have been started against these 
officers for the outrageous breach of secular 
principles they have committed.

Put on the defensive, the West Bengal ministers 
may admit, sheepishly, that what took place was 
because of an oversight. That would hardly wash. 
For the BJP government in Gujarat, presided over 
by Narendra Modi, could similarly claim that it 
was not possible for them to keep track of the 
genocide in Baroda, Ahmedabad and elsewhere in 
their state during those grisly days in 2002.

No point in beating about the bush, it is a great 
let-down. India is currently a battlefield where 
religious fundamentalists are making every 
attempt to capture positions of vantage so that 
they could drag the country back to the Dark 
Ages. Those confronting them in different parts 
of the country and in different spheres used to 
refer to the Left Front regime in West Bengal as 
the guardian angel, protecting the ramparts of 
secularism founded on the bedrock of rationality. 
The Left Front will henceforth be diminished in 
their eyes. In the process, it itself will feel 
diminished. More than a quarter of the population 
of West Bengal belongs to denominations other 
than Hindu. Some of the land taken over in Singur 
belonged to members of such denominations. What 
frame of mind would these people be in once they 
are told of the Hindu ritual observed on the land 
they once owned and has since been taken over by 
a government which avows to follow secular 

Finally, there is the issue of right to 
information. Is it a part of the formal or 
informal arrangements the state government has 
entered into with the Tata group that the latter 
should be allowed to do a bhoomi puja on the land 
temporarily transferred to them? Or is it the 
state government's point of view that, unless the 
Tatas were permitted to do the puja, they would 
have refused to invest in West Bengal and moved 
to some other state? If the latter be the case, 
would that not be a bit like, say, the government 
of India arguing that if Goa was not converted 
into the snakepit of a sex resort, no foreign 
direct investment would come to the country and 
travel elsewhere?



Ahmedabad Newsline
February 02, 2007


Are we not among 5 crore Gujaratis, ask riot victims

by Syed Khalique Ahmed

Ahmedabad, February 1: Mohammedshah Maqboolshah 
Diwan loved communal harmony to the hilt. To such 
an extent that he even took part in every Hindu 
festivity, raised money for construction of 
temples, for one of which he even worked as chief 
trustee and had the responsibility of paying the 
monthly Rs 1,200 as salary to the priest. But he 
never thought that he would be asked, one day, to 
change his religion to continue living in his own 

The 68-year-old retired government school 
teacher, who was forced to leave his ancestral 
Khadana village in Petlad taluka of Anand 
district during the 2002 post-Godhra riots, is 
now being asked by his villagers to "embrace 
Hinduism" if he wants to return to his village. 
The villlagers, according to him, say he has to 
pay a "price" if wants to return to the village.

An anguished Diwan gave this emotional narration 
before a panel at a public hearing held at 
Gujarat Vidyapith here on Thursday. The public 
hearing was organised by Aantarik Visthapit Hak 
Rakshak Samiti (Committee for Protection of 
Rights of Displaced Persons) to highlight its 
demand that those living in colonies be declared 
as "internally displaced people" and a 
compensation of Rs 4 lakh be paid to each family.

Like Diwan, several others gave their accounts of 
they had been forcibly displaced in the aftermath 
of the riots and were now facing tremendous 
difficulty in returning, especially in the face 
of "hostile" situations still prevailing in their 
native villages.

Diwan, who had taken shelter in a relief camp, 
was subsequently rehabilitated in a small house 
with his family in Detral village of Bharuch 
district, about 100 km away from his village. All 
this while, his native village temple's fixed 
deposit of Rs 10,000 continues to be in his 
account at Petlad Nagarik Cooperative Bank.

Like Diwan, there were Mohiuddin Khokhar and 25 
other Muslim families of Asa Dungiri village in 
Kwant taluka of Vadodara district. They had been 
driven out of their village to take shelter in 
Munsif Nagar colony in nearby Chhotaudepur town. 
Their shops, houses and land have been grabbed by 
local adivasis, they say.

"We made an attempt to return to our village but 
were threatened by the locals,'' Khokhar told the 
panelists and alleged that the police were not 
taking any action. "In our village, we used to 
employ people. And now we work at others' 
places...Are we not among five crore Gujaratis?'' 
he asked.

There was also an emotional Niyazben Sheikh from 
Ogdaj village, now accommodated in Yash Complex 
in Juhapura in the city. She said she was asked 
to change her religion or withdraw the 
riot-related cases if she wanted to return to the 
village. "Is it a crime to be a Muslim?'' shouted 
the women at the hearing.

On Thursady, 50 of 3,500 displaced persons, who 
had come to the hearing, narrated their stories. 
There are about 5,000 such people living in 66 
colonies in seven districts across the State.

The accounts covered several aspects _ their 
failed attempts to return to their native place, 
the experience of women, the situation of 
livelihood, the absence of civic amenities in the 
colonies, the continued intimidation by the 
police, and their experience of exclusion and 
discrimination. And to top it all, the effect of 
all this on the young generation!

The panelists who heard the grievances included 
Planning Commission member Syeda Hamid, National 
Commission for Minorities member Dileep 
Padgaonkar, former acting chief justice of 
Gujarat High Court R A Mehta, NHRC member PGJ 
Namboodiri, and Gujarat Vidyapith Vice Chancellor 
Sudarshan Iyengar. Activists Gagan Sethi and 
Farah Naqvi, besides Shabnam Hashmi, who played 
an important role in organising the displaced 
persons were also present.

Later, in a statement the panelists said: "What 
we witnessed today must be just a glimpse of the 
condition of internal displacement in the Gujarat 
due to shameful 2002 violence. We, as a panel, 
collectively say that there can be no denying 
that these people have been internally displaced 
as a direct result of the communal riots of 2002. 
The position taken by the State government that 
all affected people were rehabilitated is clearly 
not borne out. And this public hearing is proof 
that the State government has not fulfilled its 
responsibility. For five years, the rights of 
these internally displaced people have been 
denied to them. We endorse the Charter of 
Demands, issued by the Aantarik Visthapit Hak 
Rakshak Samiti, from both the State and the 
Central governments for recognition, 
rehabilitation and reparations for all the harm 
done to them. As citizens of India they are 
entitled to no less.''

However, the State government has maintained that 
there are no displaced people and those staying 
in the colonies are doing that on their own.


[7] | 27 January 2007


by Gautam Bhatia


Some of my best friends are Muslim. At the height 
of the American struggle for racial equality it 
became a badge of honour for whites to proclaim 
that some of their best friends were black. An 
unequivocal denial of racism, however 
stereotypical, rang a public message that 
eventually crept into American  consciousness. No 
such badge of honour resounds in the Hindu's 
contentious relationship with his 'second class' 
Muslim friend. If anything, the reverse seems to 
be true. I am Hindu, and some of my best friends 
are Hindus, is the new social yardstick, an 
indefensible position of honour.

According to the RSS, the grand shakhas - the 
madrassas of Hinduism - will restore 'first 
class' status, and make Hindus proud of their 
ancient heritage. New curriculums can be set to 
'correct' history under the guise of Indian 
culture. When the legacy of Hindu Rashtra has no 
direct lineage, a host of tertiary probables can 
be drawn into the picture: India had metallurgy 
and astrophysics long before the Nobel Committee 
in Stockholm decided on its awards; it was an 
advanced and settled society while the Europeans 
were barbarians. India was shining while the 
world was in darknessŠIn undoing historical fact, 
the idea is not to give you details of the 
metallurgical science of the time, or to state 
specifics of prevailing astrophysics, but only to 
record that they existed. Pride is in the mere 
statement of their existence.

Ironically, the reasoning of racial and religious 
purity is decidedly misplaced in a world 
increasingly without borders. The idea of 
asserting a Hindu identity in Hindu India is all 
the more ironic, or moronic, given that a 
majority population of 82 per cent should feel 
'threatened' and 'second class'. It matters 
little that the other 18 per cent are dispersed 
unevenly across a country of continental size and 
that none among them is united enough to form a 
cohesive political force. But nevertheless, for 
the sake of Hindu pride, they pose a threat.

It is easy to sense the hokey nationalism that 
fans this unease and paranoia in India. Yet, 
amongst the staunchest supporters of the Hindu 
Rashtra are Indian Americans - a strange breed of 
Indian whose allegiance to the motherland seems 
to get strengthened by distance. The greater the 
time spent abroad and the more the money earned, 
fills the departed with a sense of acute longing. 
In suburban Ohio, and downtown Milwaukee, 
self-styled saviours gather every week in local 
community centers and high school auditoria to 
express their love for Hindu India.

To look beyond their adopted home for a grander 
agenda: Save India. Nehru's definition of 
secularism as an equality of religions in which 
the state plays no part is anathema to them. They 
are more at ease with the RSS idea that Hinduism 
incorporates all faiths, and so, all Indians are 
Hindus. Whether the Muslims, Sikhs and Christians 
like it or not, they are just another kind of 

To be part of the wealthy Diaspora in the US 
means that you can assert your Hindu identity 
without fear of repraisal. After all, your 
neighbour Fred is a white Anglo Saxon Protestant, 
whose bigotry can hardly be directed towards 
someone he can't understand, nor cares to.

The nearest Muslim is in Cheltenham, 12 miles 
away and he is probably busy organising his own 
hate group. So, Hindus can meet regularly over a 
vegetarian Sunday barbeque and discuss Hindu 
rights and way of life, (polish their trishuls) 
over mushroom pakoras, even watch a new Bachchan 
flick on the DVD.

I chanced upon a meeting of the Boston branch of 
the HSS, the Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh, at the 
Framingham Community Center, while on a recent 
visit. It was a Saturday morning and I saw the 
devout arriving in their Chevys and Hondas. Brown 
Americans in a relaxed weekend mood.

But once they had walked into the hall, something 
changed. Like middle- aged boy scouts, they 
became possessed; their tan Bermudas began to 
resemble RSS' khaki shorts. They were now Hindus 
addressing the crisis of religion far away. The 
main function of the American shakhas I was told, 
was to unite the Hindus of America and create a 
brotherhood of saffron.

"Length of residence is the only measure of 
belonging," the leader explained. "Hindus are the 
natural sons of Hindustan". Home was a birthright 
by ancestory. By that reasoning, the man claiming 
to be the rightful owner of India, would never 
have rights in his adopted country, not even in 
the county elections. The wooden floor of the 
basketball court had begun to resound with 
recrimination and fear: factors that united these 
and other HSS members spread in 24 states across 

I sat behind my host, Bimal Dasgupta, a 
researcher at the Harvard Medical School, and 
wondered what drew self-respecting people like 
him - teachers, bankers, businessmen -  into such 
mindless baby talk. Was it merely a weekend 
distraction, or something more sinister? Was 
there really a grand design, like Hitler's, or 
was this just another way of grasping at a 
homeland that they had themselves spurned.

My own friend, before he left for the US, was 
only mildly religious, and a liberal who had 
spoken out, if only in private, against the Babri 
Masjid demolition and the Sikh riots. But 12 
years in America had changed him. A life confined 
to suburban comfort needed an intellectual 
outlet. The Iraq war, the US support of Israel, 
were of little consequence to someone who still 
sent part of his pay to his mother in Kolkata.

Hindu activism was a better bet. Getting together 
every week in a gym or community centre, with a 
group of similarly inclined men in baggy shorts, 
was a form of communion, a reason to exist. By 
making it all happen in a suburban setting, ten 
thousand miles away, the issues could be 
discussed in their fullness, and happily resolved 
to perfection, away from the messy overlapping 
reality of India. An ideal country was being 
created every weekend in suburban America.

The meeting lasted two hours. Its moderator Anand 
Paranjpe, a youth member of the RSS in Mumbai 
before he got his green card and moved his family 
to Boston: "The shakhas also help second 
generation Indian Americans connect with their 
traditions". I was hard pressed to find anyone 
younger than 50 among the 22 paunchy men. The 
second generation was probably on the baseball 
field or doing drugs.

The meeting proceeded. Rajesh Desai of Cambridge 
brought up the issue of slander. Baltimore Sun 
had raised doubts on the Indian claim on Kashmir. 
The group felt that questioning the ownership of 
Kashmir wasn't only un-American, but also 
un-Hindu. Karan Rastogi of Wellesley  suggested 
they sue the paper.  A member said that the 
Milwaukee shakha had just  elected a Punjabi 
motel chain owner to head it: His son, apparently 
was a cause of family distress having married a 
white American. They talked of the Muslim riots 
in MeerutŠ

In all the talk, the continual barbs against the 
minorities, and the perpetual references to Hindu 
tradition, all I could sense was the abject 
loneliness of the naturally gregarious Indian 
living the American suburban life. Hatred of the 
Muslims was a unifying condition; outside the 
trimmed lawns and manicured hedges, it gave 
meaning to life. As much meaning as Neo-Nazism, 
and the Ku Klux Klan.

Midway through the discussions, the wives 
appeared with samosas, chutney and paper plates 
and set up the table along the sidelines of the 
basketball court. One of them, set a saffron flag 
on the table along the samosa plates, something 
her husband forgot to take for the military-like 
initiation of the meeting. As the circle broke 
and everyone rushed to the food, the picture 
focused and the HSS revealed its true self: just 
a bunch of kranky old farts in baggy shorts with 
nothing better to do than change the world every 

(The writer is a renowned architect and a published author)






At Gandhi Ashram, Sewagram, Wardha, Maharashtra.

Dear friends,


Hope you have also informed other relevant 
networks and organisations to participate in the 
above two meetings towards Action 2007.

Please confirm your participation in the meeting 
and your arrival plan at Sewagram, Wardha.

We would welcome your comments and any 
suggestions on issues as well as programme 
planning in Action 2007.

Looking forward to your participation and proactive contribution...

Sincerely yours, 

Medha Patkar      Ulka Mahajan       Ajit Jha    Prafulla Samantara  
Sandeep Pandey  Geeta Ramakrishnan    Shaktiman Ghosh    Rakesh Rafiq

  o o o



Date: 13-14 February 2007
Time: 9:30 to 6:00
Venue: Department Of Sociology, University of Delhi
(North Campus)

The concept of 'masculinities', informed by recent
feminist thought and the women's movement, has emerged
as a means of renewing feminist discourse by
encouraging a more relational approach to
masculinities and femininities. This also allows for
the investigation, problematisation and interrogation
of masculinity equally with femininity. Not
withstanding these enabling possibilities, however,
"gender" is still essentially deployed in contemporary
social science discourse as a synonym for women, its
relational aspect obscured and the invitation to
interrogate masculinities largely ignored. This is
unfortunate because a textured understanding of the
diversity of South Asian men's experiences, attitudes,
beliefs, practices, situations, sexualities and
institutions is essential to not only challenging the
social dominance of men over women but for building a
more humane world.

The travelling seminar on masculinities has been
conceived from the position that the study of
masculinities is important in that it is
'simultaneously a place in gender relations, the
practices through which men and women engage that
place in gender, and the affects of these practices in
bodily experiences, personality and culture.' (Connell
R.W, 1994:71). The seminar is both an academic
exercise in generating interest for further research
on masculinities as well as a campaign to form a
network of university communities that are willing to
take up issues of gender equality.

Organised by Aakar (,
the seminar, as the title suggests, will travel to ten
universities across south Asia. Conceived as a cross
disciplinary event, the seminar comprises of academic
papers; personal and activist narratives and;
films/theatre/art on the theme of masculinities. The
seminar at each location is held in collaboration with
a university department. In Delhi, the Department of
Sociology, University of Delhi is the co-organiser of
the seminar. Dr. Deepak Mehta from the Department is
co-ordinating the seminar.

The speakers and discussants at the seminar to be held
on 13/14 Feb 2007 in Delhi include:
Dr. Jani De Silva, International Centre For Ethnic
Studies, Colombo: Naradha's narrative: constructing
subjectivity and masculinity through student politics.

Dr. Rubina Saigol, Lahore Pakistan: Nation and
Masculinity Superman Imagery in Muslim Nationalist
Imtiaz Saikh, Department of Women and Gender Studies,
University of Dhaka: Learning By Doing: Masculinities,
Healthy Behaviour and Young Men’s sexual
practices in Dhaka
Rubina Khilji, Department of Gender Studies,
University of Peshawar, Peshawar: Discussant
Dr. Patricia Uberoi, Institute of Economic Growth,
Delhi: Discussant
Dr. Mary E John, Centre For Women’s Development
Studies, New Delhi: Discussant
Dr. Shail Mayaram, CSDS, Delhi: Discussant
Dr. Sanjay Srivastava, Deakin University, Melbourne:
Pedestrian Desires: ‘Footpath
Pornography’, Masculinities cultures, and the
Aesthetic of fluid species
Dr. Nivedita Menon, Department of Political Science,
University of Delhi: Discussant
Dr. Radhika Chopra, Department of Sociology,
University of Delhi: Title Awaited
Dr. Deepak Mehta, Department of Sociology, University
of Delhi: Words that wound: Affects publics and the
production of Hate in Bombay.
Shudhabrata Sengupta, Sarai, Delhi: Discussant
Shankar Ramaswamy, University of Chicago: Togethering
Contra Othering: Male Hindu-Muslim Inter-Relations In
Proletarian Delhi

For more information contact:
Dr. Deepak Mehta
Email: Deepak.em at
Rahul Roy: khel at

o o o


This is to announce a forthcoming conference on "Religion in Security
Politics: New Themes and Challenges", 29-30th March, 2007 organised by
Institute for Society and Globalisation, RUC and Danish Institute for
International Studies. See attachment for details.
The conference envisages a limited number of workshop presentations besides
the key lectures by the invited speakers. It invites original papers based
on ongoing research - both fieldwork based and/or theoretically oriented -
across disciplines of history, sociology, political science, anthropology
and area studies. The written papers must not be longer than 6000 words and
the oral presentations must be limited to 20 min followed by comments and
discussions. The proposals may be sent in by Feb 1, 2007 while the written
papers must be submitted by March 1, 2007 to either Ravinder Kaur
(rkaur at or Dietrich Jung (dju at

Ravinder Kaur, PhD
Assistant Professor,
Institute for Society and Globalisation,
Building 9.2, Roskilde University,
4000 Denmark.
Phone 0045-46743161 (direct)
Email: rkaur at


Buzz for secularism, on the dangers of fundamentalism(s), on
matters of peace and democratisation in South
Asia. SACW is an independent & non-profit
citizens wire service run since 1998 by South
Asia Citizens Web:
SACW archive is available at:

DISCLAIMER: Opinions expressed in materials carried in the posts do not
necessarily reflect the views of SACW compilers.

More information about the SACW mailing list