Showing posts from July, 2012

65 miners still trapped in coal shafts in Jharkhand

Two hundred miners trapped in West Bengal coal mines have been evacuated, while efforts are going on to rescue 65 others stuck in Jharkhand mines.  265 miners were trapped in various coal mines of state-owned Eastern Coalfields and Bharat Coking Coal in the two states following massive power failure across the country due to collapse of grids.  "All the 200 stuck inside Sodepur and Satgram mines in Burdwan (West Bengal) have come out. We arranged emergency power to rescue our trapped miners," Eastern Coalfields General Manager, Technical, Niladri Roy told PTI. Bharat Coking Coal chief Tapas Kumar Lahiry said six of 65 trapped in mines in Dhanbad district of Jharkhand are being evacuated. "We are hopeful of evacuating all others soon," he added.  Rescue operations are going on and power supply has been restored in some of the mines. "Our 40 miners are trapped inside Bargarh underground mines. Besides there are some 25 miners still stuck in Moonidih, Putki Balgo

Russia - Pussy Riot trio defiant as 'hooliganism' trial begins

One of the most talked-about trials in Russia for years began in a Moscow courtroom yesterday, with three girls from the punk group Pussy Riot facing charges of hooliganism inspired by religious hatred that could see them jailed for up to seven years.  Their crime was to burst into Moscow's biggest cathedral in February and perform a shrieky key punk tune calling on the Virgin Mary to kick Vladimir Putin out of office. Three of the five women involved were arrested two weeks later, and after being refused bail, have been held in prison. The powerful Orthodox Church has refused to call for clemency for the women, and while many Russians found their stunt distasteful, the harsh response has brought public opinion round to their side. After lengthy preliminary hearings, the trial proper started yesterday. "I thought the church loved all its children," said Maria Alekhina, 24, in her opening statement. "But it seems the church loves only those children who love Putin.&

The rise and rise of a Hindutva hitman

Subhash Padil, the Hindu Jagaran Vedike activist who led Saturday’s attack on women at Morning Mist Homestay in Mangalore, was a street-level activist of Sri Rama Sene when he was arrested in 2009 for his role in targeting women at a pub in the same Karnataka city. The ferocity he displayed during that attack — well-documented by television crew — gave him both stature and position in the Sene, which he had joined in 2006. He soon gained a reputation in Mangalore as a ruthless goon for hire, sought after by builders and land sharks.  On May 25 this year, a First Information Report was slapped on him along with contractors and officials of the Mangalore Special Economic Zone for assaulting a family of farmers which opposed land acquisition for the project. Four of them, including two children, had to be hospitalised. Two days before the attack at Homestay, around 1.30 p.m. on July 26, Padil’s followers kidnapped and assaulted a Muslim boy and a Hindu girl who were travelling in a bus fr

Raze illegal construction near Akbarabadi mosque: Delhi High Court

NB: Following the recent purported discovery of the remains of the Mughal era  Akbarabadi Mosque  during digging by Delhi Metro, local people led had begun building a mosque there earlier this month .  They were led by   MLA  Shoaib Iqbal . This is an instance of blatant communal mobilisation by this MLA. As usual, 'religious sentiment' is being used to violate the law. The idea is to create a furore if the authorities try and demolish the half-completed new mosque. It is irresponsible provocation for selfish ends, and should be resisted. - Dilip The Delhi high court on Monday allowed the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) to remove illegal construction at the purported excavated mosque site near the historic Jama Masjid.   A special bench of acting chief justice AK Sikri, justice SK Kaul and justice Rajiv Shakdher asked the ASI  to implement its order dated July 19 in which it directed North Delhi Municipal Corporation to remove the unauthorised construction within 15 day

Research article: The UN and War Crimes/ Genocide Trials for Pakistani Soldiers in Bangladesh 1971–1974

By A Dirk Moses "The happenings in East Pakistan constitute one of the most tragic episodes in human history. Of course, it is for future historians to gather facts and make their own evaluations, but it has been a very terrible blot on a page of human history" - U Thant, Secretary-General of the United Nations June 3, 1971 A significant part of the human rights regime established by the United Nations after the Second World War was the protection of group rights and the further regulation of warfare by prosecuting the violators of these new international laws. Unlike the interwar period when the League of Nations  stood by haplessly as Italy invaded Abyssinia , the protection of human rights and international law was supposed to have teeth. Thus the United Nations General Assembly passed the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide on 9 December 1948 (it came into force in 1951), one day before it adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. On the

Public Meeting cum Peace Vigil against Ongoing Ethnic Violence in Assam

Arts Faculty Gate, North Campus, Delhi University Friday July 27, 2:00pm  until  4:00pm We the people from various parts of northeast residing in Delhi, along with concerned individuals, university members, civil and human rights organisations from Delhi, have taken serious note of the on-going ethnic conflict that has erupted in four districts (Kokrajhar, Dhubri, Chirang and Bongaigaon) of Lower Assam.  In last one week we have witnessed the tragedy of nearly 200,000 people belonging to the Bodo and the Muslim communities, being forced to flee from their homes and villages, internally displa ced, scarred and traumatized. Official figures tell that around 40 people have lost their lives, while unofficial estimates from the grounds are much higher. More than 400 villages have been torched down. This has been one of the most widespread and alarming conflicts in the recent history of Assam. Also this is not the first time that such kind of ethnic conflict has occurred in this area. Var

Muslims And Sikhs Need Not Apply

From 1969 till today, the 10,000-strong RAW has avoided recruiting any Muslim officers. So has has NTRO, a critical arm of external intelligence..Humayun Kabir was known, among other things, for being a prominent Bengali politician who did not subscribe to the Muslim League's vision of Pakistan. Instead, he chose secular India, rose to be the education secretary. Little did Kabir know that nearly fifty years later, one of his grandsons would not be inducted into RAW, India's external intelligence agency. Reason: he was a Muslim. The year was 2000. The NDA government was restructuring the Indian security apparatus following the Kargil war. Kabir's grandson had been cleared for induction into the RAW's air wing, the aviation research centre (ARC). He was found to be competent for the job and met all the required parameters. His interviewers were very impressed with him. They had no doubt that they had found their man.  But hours later the decision was reversed. The mem

Saving Pakistan, one tweet at a time: By Feisal Naqvi

Pakistan does not have permanent public spaces for reasoned conversation. You cannot go somewhere in Lahore or Karachi for the conversation; at best, you can go somewhere for the food.  The sad part is that it wasn’t always this way. There was a time when people interested in ideas had places to go to..   Social media needs to be protected because it is the only safe space for intellectual discussion in Pakistan... Imagine that you are a person of independent thought in Pakistan. Now imagine further that you would like to discuss your thoughts with other people. Where can you go?  In the real world, the short answer is ‘nowhere’. Pakistan does not have  permanent public spaces for reasoned conversation . You cannot go somewhere in Lahore or Karachi for the conversation; at best, you can go somewhere for the food.  The sad part is that it wasn’t always this way. There was a time when people interested in ideas had places to go to, the most famous being the  Pak Tea House of yore . Lesse

Turning the tables on Russia’s power elite — the story behind the Magnitsky Act

By Bill Browder:  I have my family history to blame for the fact that I ended up working in Moscow. My grandmother was from Russia and my grandfather was the head of the American Communist Party between 1932 and 1945 (he was subsequently persecuted in the 1950’s). So when I was growing up as a teenager and going through my teenage rebellion, I thought the best way of rebelling against a family of communists was to become a capitalist. I ended up studying economics at the University of Chicago, probably the most right-wing institution in America, and then I enrolled at the Stanford Business School. I graduated business school the year the Berlin Wall came down and as I started contemplating the next stage of my life, I had a personal epiphany: ‘if my grandfather was the biggest communist in America, I should become the biggest capitalist in Eastern Europe’. So I set off to do just that. After a spell working on the Russian privatisation programme at Salomon Brothers in London, I moved t

Death and the Factory:The Casualties of Maruti Suzuki, Manesar

Since the day of the confirmation of the unfortunate and condemnable death of Awanish Kumar Dev, a sad casualty of the ongoing class conflict in north Indian Industrial heartland of Haryana, we have witnessed tsunami of rage from those who view the killing of a manager in a factory as a calamity. Regrettably, sometimes the most terrible of tragedies (and the death of Mr. Dev is no doubt a profound human tragedy for his family and friends) becomes an instrument for larger and more impersonal agendas. On the first of May, (International Labour Day) 2009, several workers at the Lakhani Shoe Factory in Faridabad, Haryana, were struck by a ball of fire, which engulfed them before they could run to save their lives. The fire, caused by willful neglect of elementary safety procedures, did not result in criminal charges being framed against the management or proprietors of the Lakhani Vardaan Group, which owns the Lakhani Shoes Factory. A report in the  Gurgaon Workers News (No.9/18)  has t

Assam riots: Violence was in the air, but govt missed the signs

The fear of ethnic riots hung heavy in the air but the authorities never saw it coming.  The riot situation was building up gradually in the ethnically sensitive Bodoland Territorial Administered Districts (BTAD) - Kokrajhar, Baska, and Chirang barring Udalguri in Assam - since the beginning of July. The police were slow to anticipate trouble and still slower initiating action to quelling the flare-up. Nineteen people have lost their lives so far and people are still fleeing their homes for safety. “On 6 July two persons from the minority community were killed. Again on 19 July, another two persons people from the minority community were found dead. These two incidents were indicators of what would follow. Yet in both the cases, police failed either to identify or nab the culprits,” Pramod Boro, president of All Bodo Students’ Union, told  Firstpost  in a telephonic conversation.  Given the history of ethnic acrimony in the region, a retaliation was expected. “On 20 July, four ex-Bodo


“Every country has, along with its core civilities and traditions, some kind of inner madness, a belief so irrational that even death and destruction cannot alter it.” Cartoon by Mike Twohy That was my colleague Adam Gopnik   commenting   the other day on America’s attitude toward gun laws. Having read some of the comments on my own post about President Obama’s failure to pursue more restrictions on the sale of firearms, I can only agree with Adam. When   Bill Moyers ,   Keith Olbermann ,   Mayor Bloomberg , and   Rupert Murdoch   are all in favor of something—in this case, tougher gun laws—and there’s still no chance of it being enacted, you can rest assured that forces other than reason and partisan politics are involved. My only quibble with Adam is his use of the singular form: “a belief.” Are firearms the only subject on which Americans are, let us say, a little batty? I’m not so sure. Having lived here for almost thirty years, and having been a U.S. citizen for the past five,

The Philosophy of the Technology of the Gun

Does the old rallying cry "Guns don't kill people. People kill people" hold up to philosophical scrutiny?  By Evan Selinger  French philosopher  Bruno Latour  goes far as to depict the experience of possessing a gun as one that produces a different subject: "You are different with a gun in your hand; the gun is different with you holding it. You are another subject because you hold the gun; the gun is another object because it has entered into a relationship with you." The tragic Colorado  Batman shooting  has prompted a wave of soul-searching. How do things like this happen? Over at  Wired ,David Dobbs gave a provocative answer in " Batman Movies Don't Kill. But They're Friendly to the Concept ." I suspect Dobbs's nuanced analysis about causality and responsibility won't sit well with everyone.  Dobbs questions the role of gun culture in steering "certain unhinged or deeply a-moral people toward the sort of violence that ha

Greenland ice sheet melted at unprecedented rate during July

The  Greenland  ice sheet melted at a faster rate this month than at any other time in recorded history, with virtually the entire ice sheet showing signs of thaw.  The rapid melting over just four days was captured by three satellites. It has stunned and alarmed scientists, and deepened fears about the pace and future consequences of   climate change .  In a statement posted on   Nasa 's website on Tuesday,   scientists admitted the satellite data was so striking   they thought at first there had to be a mistake.  "This was so extraordinary that at first I questioned the result: was this real or was it due to a data error?" Son Nghiem of Nasa's jet propulsion laboratory in Pasadena said in the release.  He consulted with several colleagues, who confirmed his findings. Dorothy Hall, who studies the surface temperature of Greenland at Nasa's space flight centre in Greenbelt, Maryland, confirmed that the area experienced unusually high temperatures in mid-July, and

The Artist's Lens: What It Means to See the World With an Eye Toward a Facebook Update

Our online experience (and this is particularly true for specific ones, such as gaming or digital photography) seems to proceed in four stages. The first is  tentative exploration , testing the waters; the second is  wholehearted immersion ; the third is a  determination to maintain boundaries ; the fourth is  recalibration  of the relationship between what happens online and what happens IRL -- as we still like to put it. This has been happening to millions of people for around twenty years now, and what's most remarkable is how little progress we have made in understanding ourselves.  Nathan Jurgenson's   recent essay in  The New Inquiry   shows how this recalibration happens -- and, perhaps more important, how we hide its real nature from ourselves: But this idea that we are trading the offline for the online, though it dominates how we think of the digital and the physical, is myopic. It fails to capture the plain fact that our lived reality is the result of the constant in