Showing posts from June, 2014

Land taken over by foreign investors could feed 550m people, study finds

The  land grabbed  in some of the world’s hungriest countries by foreign goverments and corporations could feed up to 550m people, according to new research. The crops grown on grabbed land are frequently exported, or used to produce biofuel, but the new work shows it could end malnourishment in those countries if used to feed local people. Since 2000, at least 31m hectares (77m acres) of land has been acquired by overseas investors seeking to secure food supplies or increase production, a process dubbed land grabbing. Almost half has been in Africa, particularly Sudan. But  Indonesia  and Papua New Guinea have been targets too. Proponents argue the foreign investment can increase yields and provide development and employment, but critics say the grabs often occur without the consent of those on the land and lead to food being exported. “Crucial to this debate is the knowledge of the magnitude of the phenomenon: how many people could be fed,” said Prof Maria Cristina Rulli from Po

Murdered journalist Hrant Dink remembered in Istanbul march (January 2014)

Murdered Armenian  journalist  Hrant Dink has been remembered with a march through Istanbul on the seventh anniversary of his death.  The renowned former editor-in-chief of Agos newspaper was shot dead in broad daylight outside his work premises.  Extreme nationalist teenager, Ogün Samast was convicted of pre-meditated murder and sentenced to 22 years and 10 months in prison for carrying out the assassination.  But many people – including those on the march – believe higher powers masterminded the plan against a man who openly rejected Turkey’s denial of the 1915 Armenian Genocide. “Government agencies, both covert and public, are involved in Hrant Dink’s murder,” said one man on the march. “They’re now in a power struggle. But the case is not really moving forward. They’re trying to cover the truth up. They shot him together, they killed him together, they protected others together and now they’re covering it up together. Therefore, they’re all guilty.”  The acquittal of top susp

B G Kolsepatil - Why this deafening silence of the court? // MK Venu - BJP's treatment of Gopal Subramanium is a dark sign of things to come

NB - A fine article, sir. I fear the political forces now in office intend to do to the Indian Constitution what they are  doing  to our historical archives. The deafening silence you refer to is also apparent in the stance of those who assured us that our democratic institutions could resist such tyrannical assaults. But your article is a sign that citizens of probity can and will speak out - DS ‘(the counter revolution)… tried many forms and devices, but soon learned that it could come to power only with the help of the state machine and never against it... in the centre of the counter revolution stood the judiciary.’  Franz Neumann ; ‘ Behemoth: The Structure and Practice of National Socialism ’; (1944) 1963, p 27 For the full citation scroll down There is plausibly, even hopefully, an inter-institutional confrontation in the offing, between the executive, the most powerful branch of government in the world’s largest constitu

Cinemas remove Sri Lankan film after threat

NB - It is a crying shame that a beautiful film made with great empathy for the sufferings of Sri Lankan Tamils, should be the latest target for moral policing and the censorship brigade which now holds all of India to ransom. I know the film-maker and also know he has often been targeted by Sinhala chauvinists because of his anti-war beliefs. It is a damning irony that he is now the target of our home-grown lunatics - Dilip The film deals with the consequences of the civil war through a poignant love story between a Tamil girl and a Sinhala ex-Army man A Sri Lankan movie, portraying the post-war travails in the island-nation, was on Saturday taken off screens after cinemas running the film allegedly received threat calls from pro-Tamil nationalist groups.  The producers of the movie,   ‘With You, Without You’   (Oba Nathuwa Oba Ekka), an Indo-Sri Lankan collaboration directed by noted Sri Lankan filmmaker Prasanna Vithanage, have now written to Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalal


'June 25/26 marks not only the declaration of  Emergency in 1975. June 25 is also the Day in 1934 when a lethal bomb was hurled  at Gandhi and his cavalcade by Hindu orthodoxy in Pune when he was on his anti-Untouchability tour'  -  Anil Nauriya ANTI- EMERGENCY DAY : 26TH JUNE NEW DANGERS   Dear friends, Every year we observe 25th /26th June as Anti-Emergency Day to remember those dark days when internal emergency was imposed in the country on the mid-night of 25th/26th June 1975 which continued for 19 months.  Fundamental right s were suspended, press was gagged, voice of dissent throttled and more than one lakh opposition leaders and critics were detained without trial. Dictatorship was in full swing. Supreme Court, the highest seat of justice, ruled that even if a policeman shot dead a citizen without any cause - or even with malafide intention, the victim had no avenue of redress. On this day we also take stock of the prevailing situation to see as to what ex

Brij Tankha - Shinzo Abe's arbitrary ways

India and Japan always seemed as different as chalk from cheese but looking beyond the cultural face of the two countries there are many similarities in social and political processes. The Modi government here, and the Abe Shinzo government in Japan have come out of a very similar political environment and share a political vision. It’s not by accident that Modi and Abe follow each other on Twitter. Abe was quick to congratulate Modi who, in turn, promised to take the India-Japan relationship to a new level. Prime Minister Abe, unlike Modi, comes from a political dynasty, and is the member of the Liberal Democratic Party, which much like Congress here, has been in power for much of the post-war period but now has had to ally with coalition partners to form governments.  The Abe government, a coalition much like the BJP led coalition, came to power with a landslide victory. Abe’s personal approval ratings were over 70 per cent. The people, disenchanted with indecisive leaders, want

Sudan death row woman Meriam Ibrahim rearrested

Meriam Ibrahim, the Christian woman released from death row in  Sudan on Monday, was arrested with her husband and two children at Khartoum airport on Tuesday as the family attempted to leave the country. Agents from the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) detained the family just 24 hours after Ibrahim was released on the orders of the appeal court. Her lawyer, Elshareef Mohammed, who was with Ibrahim at Khartoum airport at the time of the arrest, said more than 40 NISS officers apprehended the family as they attempted to board a plane to the US. Ibrahim's husband, Daniel Wani, is a US citizen. "It's very disappointing," Elshareef told the Guardian. "They were very angry. They took us [the family's lawyers] outside, and took the family to a NISS detention centre. They have not been given access to lawyers." He said the appeal court had quashed Ibrahim's convictions and there were no restrictions on her travelling. He ad

Sunalini Kumar - Autonomy for what, from whom, and for whom?

It seems the unthinkable has happened – the Vice Chancellor of Delhi University has resigned over the UGC’s pressure to withdraw the Four-Year Undergraduate Programme (FYUP). I won’t go into the debate on the FYUP, which has been  covered   extensively   on Kafila   and elsewhere. I am only interested in two issues that arise from the news coverage of the event as it has unfolded through the day. One, the question of autonomy. Prima facie, as  Apoorvanand and Satish Deshpande have argued  comprehensively on Kafila, the resignation of a VC over pressure from the UGC seems to be evidence of bureaucratic or ministerial over-reach. Questions have been raised (rightly) over the timing of this pressure, coming as it does on the heels of a political shift of colossal proportions at the national level. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist (I find myself in agreement with Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari’s language on this) to figure out that the change in Delhi University has political b

Dhiraj Nayyar - DU Vice-Chancellor Dinesh Singh deserves no sympathy

Reports that Dinesh Singh has allegedly resigned brings to an ignominious early end the tenure of Delhi University’s Vice-Chancellor. Under most circumstances, the ouster of the head of autonomous institution under enormous pressure from the government of the day would be an ominous sign. But in Singh’s case, there is little room even for sympathy. For his supporters that at one point included Union HRD Minister Kapil Sibal and Union Minister of State for HRD Shahsi Tharoor and other UPA Government luminaries including Sam Pitroda, Dinesh Singh was the radical Vice-Chancellor who was willing to shake up the almost 100-year-old university with an ambitious attempt to introduce a four-year undergraduate programme (the infamous FYUP). It seems, however, that Singh’s vanity and the political support he enjoyed got the better of his judgment. It is important to note that there is a difference between a four-year undergraduate programme and a four-year undergraduate programme a la Dines

Piyasree Dasgupta - Decoding Modi govt's defence of rape accused minister Nihalchand

"Narendra Modi is a good person. He shouldn't have ministers like Nihalchand Meghwal with him." The statement comes across as neither an accusation nor a fervent plea. It's made by the woman at the centre of a new BJP versus Congress tug-of-war.  A maroon  dupatta  loosely  wrapped around her head, the woman who has accused chemicals and fertilizers minister Nihalchand Meghwal of rape, speaks with quiet defiance - her low, unwavering voice a strange mix of wariness and resilience.  "He [Meghwal] is coming to my village and telling the village elders that he will give me money and a government job," she tells the TV journalist. "Ask her to take my name off the case, he is saying.  Agar innocent hote, yeh sab nahin karte ." [If he was innocent, he wouldn't do all this.] Nihalchand Meghwal, a Rajasthan MP, had been named in an FIR way back in 2011, along with 17 others. In it, he was accused of drugging her and letting 16 other men rape hi