Friday, 31 May 2013


(Note: This article is a chapter of the book ‘Five Years of Saffron Rule in Karnataka’ Edited by Ambrose Pinto S.J., Manak Publications, Delhi, P. 338, 2013)
..Here it is enough to point out that Hindutva is not identical with what is vaguely indicated by the term Hinduism.By an "ism" it is generally meant a theory or a code more or less based on spiritual or religious system.But when we attempt to investigate into the essential significance of Hindutva, we do not primarily and certainly not mainly concern ourselves with any particular theocratic or religious dogma or creed.. 
(V.D. Savarkar, Hindutva, Delhi : Bharti Sahitya Sadan, sixth edition, 1989, pp3f)
I. Violence and terror are an integral part of any exclucivist organisation professing allegiance to a particular faith. In fact, violence or fact of violence and its domineering presence pervading all spheres of social-political life is a guarantee to consolidate the ’faithful’, discipline the dissenter and further marginalise the ’other.’ This part of South Asia where the unfolding project of democratisation - undertaken after the exit of the colonialists - has faced many hiccups, seems to be a fertile ground for proliferation of such formations.

One is witness to the emergence/further consolidation of Sinhala-Buddhist chauvinist groups - trying to further bulldoze Tamil aspirations - in Sri Lanka, or the likes of Lashkar-e-Toiba, Jaish-e-Mohammad exerting influence cutting across boundary lines or the likes of HuJi, Jama’atul Mujahideen Bangladesh, Jagrata Muslim Janata Bangladesh - who were once synonyms of terror few years back - trying to regroup their forces in neighbouring Bangladesh.India, which never forgets to pat its back for ’successful democratic transition’ has had its own share of violent groups engaged in furthering their own exclucivist agenda. While not much is heard of the Khalistani (Sikh nationalist) groups these days, who had created furore in eighties and nineties; activities and actions of Islamist groups get regular coverage. Hindutva supremacist groups are also found engaged in similar terror acts which are no less deadly or barbaric.

It has been more than a decade that this phenomenon of Hindutva terror - much bigger phenomenon than previously envisaged with- has raised its head again which saw many avoidable deaths. Here we witness activists, workers, Pracharaks of the ’cause’ collecting arms, storing explosives, engaging themselves in arms training and making elaborate plans to put it at crowded places to have maximum impact. As noted in a statement by human rights activists, another disturbing aspect of this phenomenon, is that "[f]or long prejudice has ruled investigations, obscuring the role of organizations and their multiple affiliates in planning and executing of attacks and bombings in the country...The agencies, showing their abject bias, instead chose to pursue the beaten track of investigating Islamic terrorist organizations such—despite clear evidence pointing in the opposite direction."

The aim of the present write-up is neither to take a broad overview of this spectrum of fanaticisms - who are a threat to humanity itself - nor to provide a detailed summary of the phenomenon of Hindutva terror. The aim is also not to go into its genesis or its long history - their role in the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi - or stockpiling of bombs in the Karachi head office of RSS (Ref. RSS in Sindh, Economic and Political Weekly, 8 July 2006) or the way they had made elaborate plans to attack minority dominated areas by turning RSS offices into storehouses of weapons in the immediate aftermath of partition (Ref. Rajeshwar Dayal, A Life of Our Times, Orient Longman, Delhi, 1990, pp 93f) - but one would like to focus oneself on its recent resurgence. After making few general comments on the various aspects of this terror turn in Hindutva politics one would like to focus one’s attention on their activities in Karnataka.

As a caveat it would be opportune here to make two clarifications in the beginning itself.: All sorts of terrorisms may it be by state actors or non-state actors need to be questioned, challenged and ultimately eliminated. One should see to it that law of the land is applied equally in all cases — whether s/he belongs to a ‘majority’ religion or to a ‘minority’ religion

II. The investigating agencies suspect involvement of Hindutva activists in as many as 16 explosions across the country.For laypersons, it may appear that such terror attacks organised in different parts of the country is the handiwork of some disgruntled, rogue elements belonging to RSS, Sanatan Sanstha, Sri Ram Sene, little known Arya Sena or similar organisation who yearn to make India a Hindu Rashtra. Nothing can be farther from the truth.

A careful look at the unfolding dynamic makes it clear that this ’terror turn’ is a very carefully drafted strategy by the Hindutva formations which had decided to slowly to move from their prime strategy of ‘terror of riot’ to ‘terror of bomb’. They discovered that the older strategy was no longer paying rich dividends at the pan-India level, and the new strategy was more appropriate for the following reasons:

1. It was in tune with the times as ‘terrorism’ had been made a global phenomenon, and was inculcated in the psyche of the people world-over by the reactionary forces.
2. In the name of security of the country, it was possible to rope in sympathisers in the intelligence, the Executive and the Judiciary for the ultimate project of building Hindu Rashtra, and blackmail even the vulnerable political opponents.
3. It created fear in the hearts of all citizens,
4. It required fewer people’s participation, and also carried less risk for the perpetrators.
5. It also helped victimise the victims further through arrests and torture.
6. It helped create wider divide in the name of religion,
7. The tag of terror could be pinned on Muslim community, thereby consolidating the image of ‘evil other’ – a must for moving the society towards authoritarianism and ultimately thrusting fascism
8. It had wider reach, and helped in faster consolidation of people behind them. 
One can see it as a result of two processes – one national and the other international. The universal condemnation of the Hindutva brigade for aiding and abetting Gujarat carnage 2002 definitely forced the Parivar to revisit the politics of riots... read more:

See also: 

- Bangladesh: Hefazat mad at UN Special Rapporteur for commenting on its 13 point charter of demands
- Are Buddhist Monks Involved In Myanmar's Violence? (NPR)
- Fresh religious bloodshed rocks Myanmar
- UK: That dreadful word called community
- India: Nationalist movement in a time of separate electorates (Mukul Kesavan)
- India: Debate on History Undergrad Course Delhi University: Academic council member wants to delete of topic on communalism
- India: Ishrat case: CBI zeroes in on Narendra Modi, Amit Shah
- India: RSS saffron offensive on in ‘red’ Bastar
- India: For survivors of the 1984 violence, hope of legal justice is dying
- India: Will police officers be brought to book for misconduct in Malegaon probe?
- India: Panel of experts has watered down a proposal by the UPA government to set up five minority universities
- India: Court tells Delhi to draw time bound plan to remove unauthorised places of worship

Poornima Joshi: Sangh Singh Song

Germany fears revolution if Europe scraps welfare model

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble warned on Tuesday that failure to win the battle against youth unemployment could tear Europe apart, and dropping the continent's welfare model in favor of tougher U.S. standards would spark a revolution. Germany, along with France, Spain and Italy, backed urgent action to rescue a generation of young Europeans who fear they will not find jobs, with youth unemployment in the EU standing at nearly one in four, more than twice the adult rate.
"We need to be more successful in our fight against youth unemployment, otherwise we will lose the battle for Europe's unity," Germany's Schaeuble said. While Germany insists on the importance of budget consolidation, Schaeuble spoke of the need to preserve Europe's welfare model. If U.S. welfare standards were introduced in Europe, "we would have revolution, not tomorrow, but on the very same day," Schaeuble told a conference in Paris.
Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy of Spain, where youth unemployment is among the highest in Europe, called for the euro zone to triple aid to small businesses and allow governments to subsidize the hiring of younger workers without sanctions for overspending. In recent weeks Germany, wary of a backlash as many in crisis-hit European countries blame it for austerity, has taken steps to tackle unemployment in the bloc, striking bilateral deals with Spain and Portugal"We have to rescue an entire generation of young people who are scared. We have the best-educated generation and we are putting them on hold. This is not acceptable," Italian Labour Minister Enrico Giovannini said.
Rajoy said both the European Investment Bank and European Central Bank should do more to help credit flow to small firms. Small and medium-sized companies in Spain and much of southern Europe pay much higher rates for loans than their counterparts in the north. Youth unemployment in Spain is above 57 percent as layoffs continue in a deep recession. "With all respect for its independence, I believe the ECB can and should do more," Rajoy said in a speech at the end of the conference, also saying funds channeled to small firms via the EIB should be boosted to 30 billion euros ($38 billion) a year.
He called for "some kind of common European debt" and said Europe should temporarily exclude social security subsidies for youth hiring from its calculation of member states' budget deficits, a proposal that will likely meet resistance. German ECB board member Joerg Asmussen said on Monday it would be a mistake to "tinker with the growth pact" to ignore certain investments for budget deficit calculations, as favored by some in the EU who want public investment excluded to help them meet fiscal targets.
Aside from Rajoy's proposals, ministers offered few concrete plans, insisting Europe must be pragmatic and work on various strands. Schaeuble said this was why Germany had also decided to strike deals with countries such as Spain and Greece"Let's be honest. There is no quick fix. There is no grand plan," said Werner Hoyer, head the European Investment Bank.
German ministers said Europe must continue on the path of structural reforms to boost its competitiveness as well as make good use of available EU funds, including 6 billion euros that leaders have set aside for youth employment for 2014-20. The youth employment crisis will be a central theme of a June EU leaders' summit, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel has invited EU labour ministers to a conference in Berlin on July 3. In March 2013, nearly 40 percent of under-25-year-olds in Portugal were jobless, and in Greeceyouth unemployment shot to a record 64 percent in February, while it was below 8 percent for Germany and Austria. Following up on an idea aired earlier this month, French President Francois Hollande urged theeuro zone to work towards a joint economic government with its own budget that could take on specific projects including tackling youth unemployment.

Turkish police fire tear gas in worst protests in years

Istanbul: Turkish police fired tear gas and water cannon on Friday at demonstrators in central Istanbul, wounding scores of people and prompting rallies in other cities in the fiercest anti-government protests in years. Thousands of demonstrators massed on streets surrounding Istanbul's central Taksim Square, a venue for political unrest, while protests erupted in the capital, Ankara, and the Aegean coastal city of Izmir.

Broken glass and rocks were strewn across a main shopping street near Taksim. Primary school children ran crying from the clouds of tear gas, while tourists caught by surprise scurried to get back to luxury hotels lining the square. 
The unrest reflects growing disquiet at the authoritarianism of Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan and his Islamist-rooted Justice and Development Party (AKP). Riot police clashed with tens of thousands of May Day protesters in Istanbul this month. There have also been protests against the government's stance on the conflict in neighbouring Syria, a tightening of restrictions on alcohol sales and warnings against public displays of affection.

"We do not have a government, we have Tayyip Erdogan. ... Even AK Party supporters are saying they have lost their mind, they are not listening to us," said Koray Caliskan, a political scientist at Bosphorus University, who attended the protest. "This is the beginning of a summer of discontent." The protest at Taksim's Gezi Park started late on Monday after trees were torn up under a government redevelopment plan, but has widened into a broader demonstration against Erdogan's administration. Friday's violence erupted after a dawn police raid on demonstrators who had been camped out for days.

"This isn't just about trees anymore, it's about all of the pressure we're under from this government. We're fed up, we don't like the direction the country is headed in," said 18-year-old student Mert Burge, who came to support the protesters after reading on Twitter about the police use of tear gas. "We will stay here tonight and sleep on the street if we have to," he said. Thousands chanting for the government to resign gathered at a park in the centre of Ankara, where police earlier fired tear gas to disperse several dozen opposition supporters trying to reach the AKP headquarters. Protesters also rallied at two locations in Izmir, according to pictures on social media.


A Turkish woman of Palestinian origin was in a critical condition after being hit by a police gas canister, hospital sources said. The 34-year-old, who doctors had earlier identified as Egyptian, was undergoing an operation after suffering a brain haemorrhage. A total of 12 people, including a pro-Kurdish MP and a Reuters photographer, suffered trauma injuries and hundreds suffered respiratory problems due to tear gas, doctors said. 
Some people were injured when a wall they were climbing collapsed as they tried to flee clouds of tear gas.

Amnesty International said it was concerned by "the use of excessive force" by the police against what had started out as a peaceful protest. Ria Oomen-Ruijten, the European parliament rapporteur on Turkey, also voiced concern. In Washington, the State Department said it was concerned with the number of injuries and was gathering its own information on the incident. "We believe that Turkey's long-term stability, security and prosperity is best guaranteed by upholding the fundamental freedoms of expression, assembly and association, which is what it seems these individuals were doing," State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters.

Interior Minister Muammer Guler promised that allegations that police had used disproportionate force would be investigated. Erdogan has overseen a transformation in Turkey during his decade in power, turning its economy from crisis-prone into Europe's fastest-growing. Per-capita income has tripled in nominal terms since his party rose to power. He remains by far Turkey's most popular politician, and is widely viewed as its most powerful leader since Mustafa Kemal Ataturk founded the modern secular republic on the ashes of the Ottoman Empire 90 years ago.


But Erdogan brooks little dissent. Hundreds of military officers have been jailed for plotting a coup against him in recent years. Academics, journalists, politicians and others face trial on similar charges. He has made no secret of his ambition to run for the presidency in elections next year when his term as prime minister ends, increasing opposition dismay. "These people will not bow down to you" read one banner at the Gezi Park protest, alongside a cartoon of Erdogan wearing an Ottoman emperor's turban.

Postings on social media including Twitter, where "Occupy Gezi" - a reference to protests in New York and London last year - was a top-trending hashtag, and Facebook said similar demonstrations were planned for the next few days in other Turkish cities including Ankara, Izmir, Adana and Bursa. "Kiss protests," in which demonstrators are urged to lock lips, had already been planned for Istanbul and Ankara this weekend after subway officials were reported to have admonished a couple for kissing in public a week ago.

Erdogan is pushing ahead with a slew of multibillion-dollar projects he sees as embodying Turkey's emergence as a major power. They include a shipping canal, a giant mosque and a third Istanbul airport billed to be one of the world's biggest. Speaking a few miles (km) from Gezi Park at the launch on Wednesday of construction of a third bridge linking Istanbul's European and Asian shores, Erdogan vowed to pursue plans to redevelop Taksim Square.

Architects, leftist parties, academics, city planners and others have long opposed the plans, saying they lacked consultation with civic groups and would remove one of central Istanbul's few green spaces.

Turkey: Ruling party member calls for the ‘annihilation of atheists’

An official from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) sparked controversy after he called for the “annihilation of atheists" on his Twitter account. 

Mahmut Macit, a senior member of AKP’s Ankara provincial board and keen user of social media, flared up on May 21 about insults against believers via Twitter. “My blood boils when spineless psychopaths pretending to be atheists swear at my religion. These people, who have been raped, should be annihilated,” Macit wrote in one tweet. He also argued that “insulting Islam could not be considered freedom of expression.” 

His remarks came as renowned Turkish-Armenian linguist and former columnist Sevan Nişanyan was condemned to 13 months in prison for alleged blasphemy in a blog comment. 

They also added more fuel to Turkey’s culture wars, reignited by a bill currently debated in the Turkish Parliament that foresees new restrictions on the sale and consumption of alcohol.   

While reactions from twitter users were pouring in, Macit retaliated by writing that those who criticized the AKP government were “either seen as nude or holding a bottle of an alcoholic drink in their bio picture.”

This is not the first time that members of the AKP have stirred debate with comments about atheists. AKP Zonguldak deputy Özcan Ulupınar had said last year that “no benefits could come to society from an atheist youth.”

Recently a Turkish sociologist had likened atheism with autism, saying that autistic children can't go to heaven as they were “atheists due to a lack of a section for faith in their brains.”  


by Pervez Hoodbhoy - May 30, 2013 <>

On the evening of May 13, an assassin stepped out of a car that had just driven to the doorstep of Sardar Arif Shahid’s residence in Rawalpindi. He waited for the 62-year-old Kashmiri leader to arrive. After pumping four bullets into him, the killer calmly got back into the car and was whisked away. A major Kashmiri nationalist leader, chairman of the All Parties National Alliance (APNA) and president of the Jammu Kashmir National Liberation Conference (JKNLC), had just been silenced. Mysteriously, a press that thrives on crime reporting was mum the next day. The murder still remains unreported.

My first meeting with Arif Shahid was just a few days after the October 8, 2005 earthquake. It had nothing to do with the politics of Kashmir. A team of teachers and students from  Quaid-e-Azam University, using money raised by the Eqbal Ahmad Foundation, were engaged in a relief operation that was to last many months. There were already 90,000 dead, and thousands of houses had been reduced to rubble. Winter was around the corner and countless more people would die unless they could be protected from the snow and bitter cold nights to come.

For our team, Arif Shahid was a gift from heaven because of his close familiarity with the villages around the earthquake devastated towns of Rawalakot, Bagh and Muzzafarabad. The number of shelterless families in dire need was staggering. But how could strangers like us separate the needy from the scores of hucksters swarming around? We had enough wherewithal to construct 2,000 corrugated tin-roof shelters — a drop in the bucket, perhaps, but still significant if apportioned properly. With perspicacity and determination, Arif Shahid set about the task of separating the needy from the greedy and patiently walked us around the worst-hit areas. Gruff only in appearance, he was warm, caring and friendly. We noted with some amusement that, although Islamabad was just a few tens of miles away, he would invariably introduce us to groups of survivors as honourable guests from Pakistan!

Who killed him? As in the case of Saleem Shahzad, fingers will inevitably be pointed but there will be no closure. At the same time, the mystery is not impossible to fathom. Family members, and others close to Arif Shahid, say that he had long been under observation and books that he had authored were seized. As one who had successfully brought together fractious groups from both sides of Kashmir, he was considered especially effective as a mediator. In 2009, he had therefore been placed on the Exit Control List (ECL) and his passport had been confiscated. It was later returned after he won a court battle.

Speakers at a small protest meeting that I attended in Rawalpindi a few days after the murder said that he had received threats that, for now, he had decided to ignore.
Significantly, this appears to be the first instance where a major Kashmiri nationalist leader was actually eliminated. Arousing suspicion is that there has been no condemnation of the murder by Pakistani political and military leaders, nor a demand that an investigation be launched. Instead, Amer Shahid, Arif Shahid’s son, has been threatened with dire consequences if he attempts to place the blame on any agency. He has been instructed to attribute the murder to a family feud.

Hounded by both the Indian and Pakistani establishments, the position of Kashmiri nationalists is a difficult one on both sides of the divide because they espouse the belief that Kashmir must seek equal distance from both Pakistani and Indian control. While outsiders sometimes dismiss their dream as quixotic, they have gained growing traction in the last decade. While India’s record on human rights in Kashmir is abysmal and rightly worthy of criticism, Pakistan has squandered the moral advantage it once had in international fora. By supporting jihadists and targeting nationalists, it has alienated world public opinion — and the Kashmiris. As far as the rest of the world is concerned, Kashmir has turned into a dead cause. For this, Pakistan’s military and civil establishment can have no one but themselves to blame.

Pervez Hoodbhoy retired as professor of physics from Quaid-e-Azam University, Islamabad

Book review: Time Regained!

Time Reborn: From the Crisis in Physics to the Future of the Universe
by Lee Smolin 

reviewed by James Gleick

A pregnant moment in intellectual history occurs when H.G. Wells’s Time Traveller (“for so it will be convenient to speak of him”) gathers his friends around the drawing room fire to explain that everything they know about time is wrong. This after-dinner conversation marked something of a watershed, more telling than young Wells, who had never even published a book before The Time Machine, imagined just before the turn of the twentieth century.
What is time? Nothing but a fourth dimension, after length, breadth, and thickness. “Through a natural infirmity of the flesh,” the cheerful host explains, “we incline to overlook this fact.” The geometry taught in school needs revision. “Now, it is very remarkable that this is so extensively overlooked….There is no difference between Time and any of the three dimensions of Space except that our consciousness moves along it.
Wells didn’t make this up. It was in the air, the kind of thing bruited by students in the debating society of the Royal College of Science. But no one had made the case as persuasively as he did in 1895, by way of trying to gin up a plausible plot device in a piece of fantastic storytelling. Albert Einstein was then just a boy at gymnasium. Not till 1908 did the German mathematician Hermann Minkowski announce his “radical” idea that space and time were a single entity: “Henceforth space by itself, and time by itself, are doomed to fade away into mere shadows, and only a kind of union of the two will preserve an independent reality.”
So spacetime was born. In spacetime all events are baked together, a four-dimensional continuum. Past and future are no more privileged than left and right or up and down. The time dimension only looks special for the reason Wells mentioned: our consciousness is involved. We have a limited perspective. At any instant we see only a slice of the loaf, a puny three-dimensional cross-section of the whole. For the modern physicist, reality is the whole thing, past and future joined in a single history. The sensation of now is just that, a sensation, and different for everyone. Instead of one master clock, we have clocks in multitudes. And other paraphernalia, too: light cones and world lines and time-like curves and other methods for charting the paths of light and objects through this four-dimensional space. To say that the spacetime view of reality has empowered the physicists of the past century would be an understatement.
Philosophers like it, too. “I conclude that the problem of the reality and the determinateness of future events is now solved,” wrote Hilary Putnam in 1967.
Moreover, it is solved by physics and not by philosophy. We have learned that we live in a four-dimensional and not a three-dimensional world, and that space and time—or, better, space-like separations and time-like separations—are just two aspects of a single four-dimensional continuum….
“Indeed,” he added, “I do not believe that there are any longer any philosophicalproblems about Time.” Case closed.
Now comes a book from the theoretical physicist Lee Smolin aiming to convince us that time is real after all. He is frankly recanting the accepted doctrine—an apostate:
I used to believe in the essential unreality of time. Indeed, I went into physics because as an adolescent I yearned to exchange the time-bound, human world, which I saw as ugly and inhospitable, for a world of pure, timeless truth….
I no longer believe that time is unreal. In fact I have swung to the opposite view: Not only is time real, but nothing we know or experience gets closer to the heart of nature than the reality of time.
Smolin is a founder and faculty member of the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics in Toronto, an authority on quantum gravity who has also written on elementary particle theory, cosmology, and the philosophy of science. He proposes to validate what we already know—those of us who wear wristwatches, cross the days off our calendars, mourn the past, pray for the future, feel in our bones the march of time or the flow of time. We unphilosophical naïfs, that is—known for short as the “man on the street.” Hilary Putnam again: “I think that if we attempted to set out the ‘man on the street’s’ view of the nature of time, we would find that the main principle…might be stated somewhat as follows: (1) All (and only) things that exist now are real.” Past things were real once but have ceased to exist. Future things don’t yet exist; they will become real only when the time comes.
This is the view that most physicists deny and the view that Smolin proposes to demonstrate in his book. For him the past is gone; the future is open: “The fact that it is always some moment in our perception, and that we experience that moment as one of a flow of moments, is not an illusion.” Timelessness, eternity, the four-dimensional space-time loaf—these are the illusions.
His argument from science and history is as provocative, original, and unsettling as any I’ve read in years. It turns upside-down the now standard view of Wells, Minkowski, and Einstein. It contravenes our intellectual inheritance from Newton and, for that matter, Plato, and it will ring false to many of Smolin’s contemporaries in theoretical physics.
We say that time passes, time goes by, and time flows. Those are metaphors. We also think of time as a medium in which we exist. If time is like a river, are we standing on the bank watching, or are we bobbing along? It might be better merely to say that things happen, things change, and time is our name for the reference frame in which we organize our sense that one thing comes before another.
That most authoritative of machines, the clock, has no purpose but to measure something, and that thing is time. In fact you can define time that way: time is what clocks measure. Unfortunately that’s a circular definition, if clocks are what measure time. (Smolin suggests, “For our purposes, a clock is any device that reads out a sequence of increasing numbers,” which is interesting, even if it isn’t in the dictionary.) Scientists devote considerable resources to quantifying time, going beyond our usual seconds and minutes. Humanity has a collective official time scale, established by a chorus of atomic clocks cooled to near absolute zero in vaults at the United States Naval Observatory in Washington, the Bureau International des Poids et Mesures near Paris, and elsewhere. Isaac Newton would be pleased. International Atomic Time appears to codify the notion of absolute time that he worked so effectively to establish. Newton’s view, handed down to us as if engraved on tablets of stone, was this:
Absolute, true, and mathematical time, in and of itself and of its own nature, without reference to anything external, flows uniformly….
The cosmic clock ticks invisibly and inexorably, everywhere the same. Absolute time is God’s time. This was Newton’s credo. He had no evidence for it, and his clocks were primitive compared to ours. He wrote:
It may be that there is no such thing as an equable motion, whereby time may be accurately measured. All motions may be accelerated and retarded, but the flowing of absolute time is not liable to any change.
He needed absolute time, as he needed absolute space, in order to define his terms and express his laws. Motion is nothing but the change in place over time; acceleration is the change in velocity over time. With a backdrop of absolute, true, and mathematical time, Newton could build an entire cosmology, a “System of the World.”
So Newton made time more real—reified it, as no one had done before. But he also made time into a useful abstraction, and in this way it began to fade away. When a scientist records a series of observations—the position of the moon, let’s say—the result is a table of numbers representing both space and time. A generation before Newton, René Descartes showed how to turn such tables into graphs, using different axes for different variables. Representing the orbit of the moon in Cartesian coordinates makes it a curve in space and time—the whole orbit becomes static, a mathematical object in a timeless configuration space. On such a graph time is frozen, and the history of a dynamical system is revealed for study at leisure.
The technique has had psychological side effects, Smolin suggests. It gives those who use it the idea that the experience of time passing is an illusion:
The method of freezing time has worked so well that most physicists are unaware that a trick has been played on their understanding of nature. This trick was a big step in the expulsion of time from the description of nature, because it invites us to wonder about the correlation between the real and the mathematical, the time-bound and the timeless.
This is his crucial dichotomy: the time-bound versus the timeless... read more

Khmer Rouge leaders say sorry for atrocities

Former Cambodian head of state Khieu Samphan apologises directly to individuals who lost relatives in 1975-79 genocide

Former leaders of Cambodia's Khmer Rouge being tried by a UN-backed genocide tribunal have apologised to families of victims of the regime's atrocities. Khieu Samphan, the head of state of the 1970s communist regime, and Nuon Chea, the group's main ideologist, were responding directly on Thursday to people who had testified about how they lost family members to Khmer Rouge brutality.
"I feel extremely sorry for the disappearance and extremely brutal killing of your father," Khieu Samphan told Yim Roum Doul. But he said he did not know at the time about "the atrocities committed by the military commanders and leaders". "I did not know the great suffering of our people," he said. The perpetrators "must be brought to justice". He said he joined the Khmer Rouge with the "determination to protect our country and to develop our country". "But unfortunately it turned out to be a complete disaster," he said, describing those responsible as "the most stupid persons on earth".
About 1.7 million people are believed to have died from forced labour, starvation and executions under the Khmer Rouge between 1975 and 1979.
Both men have issued expressions of regret before for the killings, but have denied legal responsibility and insisted they served with the best interests of their country and its people in mind. The two men are charged with crimes against humanity, genocide, religious persecution, homicide and torture, though their current trial focuses on the forced evacuation of Phnom Penh, the capital, when the Khmer Rouge took power in 1975.
In testimony earlier this week, Khieu Samphan pointed the finger at other parties who he believed contributed to the Cambodian genocide. He referred to American bombing during Cambodia's 1970-75 civil war, which some have suggested helped to radicalise Cambodian society. He also reminded people that Cambodia's prime minister, Hun Sen, served with the Khmer Rouge before defecting in 1977. He said Hun Sen should be considered more responsible than he was, because as a junior commander he would have been more aware of what was going on.
Nuon Chea told the court on Thursday he took "responsibility morally" for what occurred under the Khmer Rouge. "I feel remorseful for the crimes that were committed intentionally or unintentionally and whether or not I had known about it or not known about it," he said. Like Khieu Samphan, he offered condolences. Nuon Chea, who testified from his cell by video because of poor health, has spoken of his regrets previously, in the 2010 documentary film Enemies of the people"I have always said I made mistakes," he said then. "I am regretful and I have remorse. I am sorry for our regime. I am sorry."
But he was also clear the Khmer Rouge leaders had seen their primary duty as safeguarding the revolution and said suspected traitors were killed because they "were enemies of the people".

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Collateral damage? Maoists say sorry for killing Bastar journalist (March 31, 2013)

Maoists say sorry for killing Bastar journalist
Forty-five days after their cadres murdered journalist Nemichand Jain in Sukma on February 12, Maoists have apologised for the act and said their topmost leaders are handling the case. They have also requested Bastar journalists to end their boycott. In an unprecedented step, the entire media fraternity in Bastar had passed a resolution announcing the boycott of Maoists and their press releases until they apologised for the murder and punished the guilty. The rebels called a few journalists to interior forests of Bijapur and apologised for Jain's death. West Bastar divisional committee, CPI (Maoists), members Kamlu Kunjam and Jyoti met the journalists and said: "We have received information about the murder of Jain by some Sangham members of Kanger Ghati area. Since we are yet to identify the accused, senior leaders are facing problems in taking a decision. But very soon, the central committee will probe the matter and inform media about it. Some of our cadres have committed this wrong. We apologise and request you not to boycott us." Kunjam added: "Lower-level cadres committed the act without informing the senior ones. The committee will announce punishment for them." Jagdalpur-based journalist Harjit Singh Pappu was among those who met the rebels. "We had gone for our cause. We are happy that they have apologised. I hope they punish the culprits soon and inform us." 
NB: "Some of our cadres have committed this wrong. (?!) We apologise and request you not to boycott us. Lower-level cadres committed the act without informing the senior ones." If the entire Indian polity and democratic institutions are a fraud, then why are you afraid of a mere press boycott? Why do you want publicity in the 'bourgeois' media? Why claim the protections and privileges of a system you despise and wish to overthrow by armed force? Why? Yet more whimsical murder and yet another apology and statement of regret, as if this were a case of impolite behaviour at a dinner table. This was also the case with the beating to death of NREGA activist Niyamat Ansari in March 2011. The Maoists apologise & we are expected to forget it. In the Jnaneswari train derailment of May 2010, 148 passengers were killed in minutes, hundreds injured. They denied having caused it, yet issued assurances that train travel would be safe in future! 

In the latest massacres in Bastar, the Maoist spokesman says: "The aim behind this attack was to kill Mahendra Karma and other Congress leaders. During the two-hour long gunbattle between commanders of CPI(Maoist) and security forces, some innocent people and low-level Congress workers were killed. They were not our enemies but they lost their lives. We express regret over their death and offer our condolence to the bereaved families."  (The same statement says that the action succeeded in "wiping out of at least 27 Congress leaders, activists and policemen" If all 27 people killed were legitimate targets, then who were the 'innocent people and low level Congress workers'? Or are we to understand that 5 or 6 people were their targets and they killed 27 people and injured 32 including bystanders to achieve that?

Is human life just biomass for the comrades? If the state is brutal and oppressive must the comrades imitate the state? Will such actions bring justice to the people of the area or more repression? If the comrades claim to have knowledge of how society and political systems work, don't they also know that murder and killing generates a deadly cycle of violence in which politics recedes into the background and revenge becomes a force of its own? Have four decades of peoples war achieved any betterment of the political environment? Any change for the good in terms of democracy and human rights? Did they launch a struggle to protect the Babri Masjid? Did they ever even warn the communalists who have murdered innocents in thousands? Will they launch armed struggle to protect women all over the country who are under constant threat of violence and molestation? All they have succeeded in doing is to give the state a handle to attack all popular movements under the cover of combating maoism.

Successive governments cannot escape responsibility for this crisis. Naxalism has been in existence for over 4 decades, even prior to the latest turn in economic policy - had there been a more sensitive, less corrupt administration all this time, the conflict need not have taken such a bloody turn. In Chhattisgarh, over two thousand adivasis are currently in jail, charged with 'Naxalite/ Maoist' offences. Many have been imprisoned for over two years without trial.  Here the official policy was to recruit sections of the tribal population to engage the Maoists in the from of a vigilante force called Salwa Judum - ultimately the Supreme Court had to step in, and after that the state government merely designated them differently. In Jharkhand, an even larger number of adivasis, possibly in excess of five thousand, remain imprisoned as under-trials. The situation is similar in many other states of central and eastern India currently affected by armed conflict between the government and adivasi-linked militant movements, namely Andhra PradeshBiharMadhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha and West Bengal. The adivasi undertrial population may run into thousands in each of the statesIf state functionaries were serious about the Indian Constitution, implemented criminal law with strict neutrality and upheld the Fifth Schedule instead of allowing sectors of the administration to function as instruments of corporates, there would have been no 'security threat'.

As for the revolutionaries, had they pitted (politically, not militarily) the constitution against the state and its policies (whether economic or with regard to criminal justice) - they would have been able to mount a massive resistance, that would have had legitimacy and effect. Here the traditional marxist-leninist-stalinist contempt for 'bourgeois' democracy has buttressed their elitist disdain for the lives of the people they claim to represent. They have only chosen the tribal areas for military strategic reasons - there's no chance of peoples war in Gurgaon. The so-called people's warriors are playing agents provocateur for the state, which will use the latest killings (as in the past) to launch another wave of repression.  Meanwhile despite Maoist activity, the work of the corporate industrialists goes on unabated. Some even pay them regular protection money. Industrialisation thrives on violence, Halliburton made millions in the midst of the Iraq war. The comrades must be dreaming if they think this kind of action will lead to acceptance of their demands, such as the release of innocents and a cessation of forced industrialisation. Do they want to provoke state cruelties? 

Stop the killing -This is an endless spiral comrades, there's no bright future over the horizon. There wasn't one when Charu launched the first CPI (ML) and promised a red flag over Red Fort within the 70's, and there will be no bright future in your new revolutionary calendar.  Ordinary people are for resistance, but not all of them are dreaming of martyrdom and glory. They want to live, even as they resist. It is utter tyranny for communists to decide when members of the public must die. Stop the killing and try and convince people by democratic means. What you are doing is a travesty of socialism. Respect for human life must be the starting point for socialists. Instead of a violent movement to overthrow the constitution, what we need is the broadest possible campaign to uphold and implement it. The fascist sections of the ruling class are already hell-bent on overthrowing the constitutional order - you are merely making it easier for them. The more people you kill, whether guilty or innocent, the more will democratic rights recede into the background. Without non-violent mass resistance, capitalism exploitation and social oppression will thrive

Speak the truth. Stop the killing 

PS - Here's an article containing a pointer to the chilling cynicism of revolutionaries: Extract: 'It was believed that the Maoist leadership was not happy with the outcome of Saraswati’s assassination. Panda had hoped that the ensuing riots (against Christians) would swell the Maoist ranks. But excellent coordination between the then district collector and district police chief ensured that about 3,000 men who had signed up for recruitment ditched them at the last moment...'

Aruna Roy resigns from National Advisory Council

Social activist Aruna Roy has decided not to continue in the National Advisory Council, led by UPA chairman Sonia Gandhi, after her term expires on Friday.

Ms Roy has written a letter to Mrs Gandhi requesting that she should not be considered for another term of NAC that sets the social agenda for the government and the UPA Chairperson has accepted the request.

On her way out, Ms Roy criticised the government for not taking up recommendations of the council on minimum wages to workers under Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA).

"I do believe that it is extremely unfortunate that the Prime Minister rejected the NAC recommendations on payment of minimum wages to MGNREGA workers and chose instead to appeal the Karnataka High Court judgement ordering payment of minimum wages to MGNREGA workers," she said.

"Even more distressing is the Government's refusal to pay minimum wages even after the Supreme Court refused to stay the Karnataka High Court judgement. It is difficult to understand how a country like India can deny the payment of minimum wages and still makes claims of inclusive growth. However, I realise that this effort to persuade the Government to respect the minimum wages law must now continue outside the NAC," she said.

Highlighting the role of NAC, she said the working group on implementation of flagship programmes took up several issues related to implementation of the MGNREGA.

"The recommendations of the working group were sent to the Ministry, which has set up a programme advisory group to oversee implementation of these recommendations and the new guidelines that have been issued by the Rural Development Ministry. Despite its contribution to changing the lives of the rural poor, implementation of this crucial flagship programme remains a challenge," she said.

Ms Roy had recently criticised the government for its poor performance in the social sector.