Sunday, November 28, 2010


THE march of several thousands of the rural poor and farmers into and across Sijua at the centre of Kantapahari, once a left deviationist stronghold had several layers of political significance.

First, this is the zone where Dalilpur Chak is situated, and it was at that place that the terrorists hatched a pan to blow up chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee's convoy over a year back. That the attempt fizzled out does not detract from the fact that the criminals had managed to drive a wedge of fear amongst the villagers there.

Second, Kantapahari witnessed gruesome murders committed -- of CPI (M) workers, of poor kisans, of smallholders, of sharecroppers -- not at random but in a targeted, planned manner. The area also houses the residence of one of the principal mafia leader of the so-called 'committee' against 'police atrocities', Chhatradhar Mahato, who has since been behind bars for some time now.

Third, the area of Sijua is in the locale, which abuts the Kangsabati River, and across that river lays another former 'Maoist' 'terrain,' close to Belatikari. The killers would move freely at one point in time across the river back and forth -- and carry out their misdeeds. The overwhelming presence of the Red Flag now would make life that much more complex and isolated for the remnants of the vandals who have now been scattered over a large tract in the area.

Fourth, in the wake of a dry period laced with horror and fear, with the winter season of cropping about to swing in place, the return of normalcy in Sijua at Kantapahari means that the process of agriculture can now get full steam ahead, even as life picks up its lazy rural rhythm once more -- and a sigh of relief could be heard all around as the marchers strode in, Red Flags held fluttering aloft. The area, we recall, is well-known for its fertile potato patches and rice paddies - all that had been laid bare by the atrocious assaults of the marauding gangs of the 'Maoists.'

An important and politically significant fact marked the flying of the Red Flag over Sijua, Kantapahari. The impromptu rally that was held at a central spot in Sijua had a speaker whose name is Gunadhar Dubey. Gunadhar is a senior denizen of Sijua. What else is Gunadhar Dubey? What is the import of his addressing a CPI (M) rally?

Gunadhar is the father of the notorious Swapan Dubey who had headed the now-defunct 'front' of the Maoists in Sijua for two painfully long years. When the father spoke out, the village spoke out against the criminals who had by then made a quiet inglorious exit from the entire sweep of the rolling grounds.

Source: People’s Democracy


IT is no wonder that Julian Assange, the moving force behind the whistle- blower group Wikileaks, is now on top of the hit list of the Obama administration. The right wing government that is now in power in Sweden has put out an arrest warrant for Assange. The legal basis for issuing the warrant is extremely dubious. The timing, coming as it does, just after the release of the second tranche of US military documents, has raised further doubts. The latest documents put out by Wikileaks provides further confirmation of American war crimes in Iraq. The 400, 000 military documents that Wikileaks has put in the public domain provides clinching evidence that the US administration was aware of the widespread killings of innocent civilians in Iraq, despite official claims to the contrary. The documents also reveal that thousands of Iraqis were routinely tortured under the full glare of the US occupation forces.

Julian Assange said at a press conference that the released documents “revealed the truth” about the war in Iraq. “The attack on the truth by war starts long before the war starts and continues long after the war ends”, Assange said. He gave instances of earlier wars like the Vietnam War. That war was precipitated on the basis of a huge lie---the so called “Gulf of Tonkin” incident. Assange said that by releasing the American military’s Iraq war logs, his group is hopeful of correcting some of the attacks on the truth “that occurred before the war, during the war and which has continued since the Iraqi war officially ended”.

Senior Obama administration officials have kept on repeating that Assange has “blood on his hands” for allegedly imperilling the lives of American soldiers serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. The US defence secretary Robert Gates however had to admit that Wikileaks has so far not let out classified information of the kind that has endangered lives of American servicemen. All the same, Assange has been turned into a public enemy by the Obama administration and put on the US government’s official “watch list”. His personal computer and papers went missing recently after he checked in for a flight. Countries like Sweden, from which he operated freely until recently, are now cold shouldering him, under pressure from Washington. He has been under constant surveillance and many of his associates have started leaving the group, unable to take the pressure. Wikileaks funding has been adversely affected as donors have been threatened by the US administration. But the international community has generally applauded the courageous endeavour undertaken by Wikileaks.


The release of the Iraq War documents has been described as the “greatest leak in the history of the American military”. The documents, which are basically eye witness accounts of American soldiers from the field of action, puts into the public domain a snapshot to the bloody war in Iraq from 2004 to 2008. They are written from the perspective of the American soldiers. The logs mention civilian deaths occurring in American and insurgent attacks on 34,000 different occasions.

The latest Wikileaks documents have revealed that 15,000 more Iraqi civilians were killed between 2004 and 2008, than previously accounted for. This has raised the official toll of Iraqi deaths during the occupation to 122,000. Many of those killed were Iraqi civilians trying to navigate military roadblocks set up by the occupying American military forces on busy roads. The documents reveal that a particular US helicopter gunship was involved in more than one instance of targeting civilians who were trying to surrender. Wikileaks had earlier in the year shown footage of an Apache gunship targeting two journalists from Reuters and civilians who had rushed in to help them. Private military contractors, like the notorious Blackwater Group, hired by the Americans were responsible for many of the horrific incidents involving civilians. The Wikileaks documents gives several instances of these contractors, hailing from different parts of the world, running amok and targeting civilians. Many of the cases were hushed up or not even reported.

The US central command website still continues to insist only 65,185 civilians and 13, 754 members of the Iraqi security services have been killed from 2004-2008. Estimates of those killed, compiled by independent sources put the casualties at between 100,000 and a million. The World Health Organisation (WHO) had stated that upto151, 000 people had been killed in Iraq till 2008, as a result of the violence triggered by the American occupation. The reputed British science journal, Lancet, quotes a figure of 650,000 people killed in the conflict. The numbers of Iraqis killed as a result of the American occupation, according to experts is much more than what the Wikileaks logs reveal.

The documents also conclusively show that the American occupation forces turned a blind eye to hundreds of cases of reported torture, rape and abuse of civilians by the Iraqi troops they had trained and armed. The leaked logs reveal that there were more than a thousand instances of torture that the American military was aware of. As recently as December, 2009, the Americans were given a video showing Iraqi troops executing a blindfolded prisoner. The report had named one of the Iraqi officers involved in the extra-judicial killing but the US authorities took no action. The recently released documents record American military officials as saying that no “investigation is necessary” and passing the file back to the concerned Iraqi ministry.

The Pentagon said in a statement in the last week of October that when reports of Iraqi abuses are received it routinely notifies the Iraqi authorities concerned. A high level Pentagon directive had barred the US forces from investigating. The instruction not to investigate was handed down in May, 2006. The order tersely stated---“Provided that the US military forces were not involved in the detainee abuse, no further investigation will be conducted unless directed by HHQ”. Daniel Ellsberg, the man responsible for leaking the Pentagon Papers during the Vietnam War told the American media that the Wikileaks logs is “official evidence that there was a cover-up of crimes, either by turning suspects over or torturing them directly”.

The US administration conveniently hid under the façade of international law as Iraq theoretically became a “sovereign” country in 2004 after a puppet government was installed in Baghdad. The US has argued that it had no control over Iraq’s armed forces and therefore no legal power to order them to investigate cases involving torture. Washington conveniently chose to forget that it had trained, armed and financed the new Iraqi army. The US, according to many observers, knowingly violated the UN Convention against Torture. The Convention, which the US ratified in 1994, forbids the transfer of detainees to other countries “where there are substantial grounds for believing that they would be in danger of being subjected to torture”. The US has transferred thousands of prisoners to Iraqi jails despite being aware of the fact that they could be subjected to torture. The UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, Manfred Nowak, has said that the US has an obligation to investigate the handing over of prisoners to Iraqi prison authorities so that they could be tortured and killed. He said that this was necessary to ensure “that the perpetrators were brought to justice but also to provide the victims with adequate remedy and reparation”.


The documents also throw further light on the US role in fomenting the sectarian divide. During the early years of the occupation, Washington had thrown its weight behind the Shia parties and had stood aside as they waged a virtual pogrom against the Sunnis in cities like Baghdad. But mid way the US army changed tactics to undercut the Al Qaeda, which had succeeded in taking the battle to the occupation forces in central Iraq. The Americans lured Sunni tribal chiefs and fighters aligned to Abu Musah al Zarqawi, the leader of the Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia (AQM) to form the Awakening Council. The Americans re-employed elements from Saddam Hussein’s Republican Guards and created the “Wolf Brigade”. The documents mention the role of the Wolf Brigade in brutally extracting confessions from prisoners handed over by the Americans. The Brigade was trained by an American army officer, who previously worked in El Salvador to teach brutal counter-insurgency tactics to army there during the bloody civil war that had gripped the country.

The American occupation forces succeeded in their short term goal of diminishing the AQM as a serious military threat by allowing the Awakening Council fighters to go on a rampage and indulge in sectarian killings of their own. The leaked war records also serve to remind people that it was the American occupation of Iraq that gave the al Qaeda an opportunity to set up base in Iraq. It was non-existent during Saddam Hussein’s time. Before invading Iraq, the Bush administration had alleged that the secular government of Saddam Hussein had helped the Al Qaeda plan the September 11 attacks.

The Iraq war logs provide new details about the bloody battle of Samarra in April 2004 as the occupation forces tried to dislodge the resistance. They detail the use of massive air power to subdue the resistance. The city was pummelled into submission. Reporters who had covered the fighting recall that among hundreds of casualties, many were women and children. The US has not admitted to any civilian casualties. Other Iraqi towns like Falluja were also reduced to rubble. The Americans have not given any details about civilian casualties in Falluja either. The international group, “Iraq Body Count” has said that more than 1200 Iraqi civilians perished as the US regained control of Falluja. The war logs detail how on a single day, 146 deaths were reported in a single day (17 October, 2006) from different parts of Iraq. The deaths were a result of clashes between the insurgents and the occupation forces, suicide bombings, targeted killings and beheadings. The incidents from a single day highlighted the mess the Americans had got the country into.

The war logs also contain chatter about alleged Iranian involvement in internal Iraqi affairs. US officials have been crying hoarse for years now that the Iranians have been training and supplying arms to various Iraqi groups. The Americans had said way back in 2007, that the Iranians are helping Shiite militants in Southern Iraq without providing any evidence. The Wikileaks logs only refer to doubts and surmises about Iranian activities in Iraq. As the veteran war correspondent, Robert Fisk has noted, Iranian military materiel dating back from the Iran-Iraq war can be found all over Iraq. He points out that most of the attacks against the occupation forces were carried out by Sunni militants who have no love lost for the government in Teheran.

International human rights groups have called on the Obama administration to investigate the reports that the US forces systematically tortured and abused Iraqi detainees. They have also demanded that the Iraqi government prosecute officials responsible for gross human rights violations. A special army unit acting under the direct supervision of the Iraqi prime minister, Nuri al Maliki’s office is said to be involved in targeting political rivals. Maliki alleged that Wikileaks expose was timed to derail his chances of retaining the top job. Maliki is continuing as prime minister after the parliamentary elections returned a hung verdict. He is in fact assured of a second term, after intervention by the Obama administration ensured that Iyad Allawi, his main rival backed out.

Source: People’s Democracy


ON November 9, 2010, minutes after US president Barack Obama’s departure from India, the Congress high command finally cracked down on Ashok Chavan and Suresh Kalmadi. Ashok Chavan had to quit as the Maharashtra chief minister in the wake of his involvement in the Adarsh Society scam in Mumbai. And Suresh Kalmadi had to quit as secretary of the Congress parliamentary party in the wake of accusations of large scale corruption in the Commonwealth Games in Delhi. These hasty steps were taken in view of the impending furore over these issues by the opposition in the parliament.

As it so happened, both these major corruption scams, and also the land and mining scams of the BJP government in Karnataka, were partly overshadowed by the mother of all corruption scams, the 2-G spectrum scam that drained the country of no less than 1.76 lakh crore rupees, as per the CAG report. Anil Ambani, other corporates and bureaucrats are also allegedly involved. As a result of an uproar both in parliament and across the country, union telecom minister A Raja of the DMK was finally forced to quit on November 14.

But mere resignations are by no means enough. There has to be a thorough inquiry, followed by prosecution and the most stringent punishment against all the corrupt culprits. The massive amount drained from the country’s treasury and looted from the people by the politician-bureaucrat-corporate nexus must be recovered. And, as directed by the Supreme Court, the prime minister must also explain his inexcusable inaction for over two years.

Now, union minister Prithviraj Chavan has been installed as the new chief minister of Maharashtra. The NCP has jettisoned its deputy chief minister Chhagan Bhujbal, a leader from the OBC castes, and has replaced him with Ajit Pawar, a Maratha like Prithviraj Chavan, and the nephew of Sharad Pawar. The state cabinet has been formed at last after a ten day delay, on November 19. There have been tensions between the Congress and the NCP over the number of ministers to be inducted from both parties. There has also been intense infighting within both parties for wresting ministerships and plum portfolios.

The Adarsh Society (adarsh means ideal!) scam has wide ramifications and is a shocking exposure of the venality of the ruling classes. After the Kargil war, the Adarsh Housing Society was set up in 1999. It stated in official letters to the state government that it was meant for housing the widows of the martyrs in the Kargil war and for the families of war veterans. In the eleven years since then, flouting all laws, rules and regulations, a 31-storey building was built on a piece of prime land in the posh area of Colaba in South Mumbai.

It has now transpired that among the 103 apartments that were sold to members of the Adarsh Society, not a single flat was given to either the widows of the Kargil martyrs or to the war veterans. All these flats were cornered by bourgeois politicians, top bureaucrats and even by high ranking officers of the armed forces. What is more, while the market price of each flat was around eight to ten crore rupees, they were sold to these worthies at just 60 to 80 lakh rupees each!


Those responsible for giving numerous permissions to this society in complete violation of all laws, rules and regulations were no less than five former Congress chief ministers! They also held charge of the coveted urban development portfolio and some of them were revenue ministers at the time. They include Ashok Chavan, Vilasrao Deshmukh, Sushil Kumar Shinde, Narayan Rane and Shivajirao Nilangekar – all top leaders of the Congress in Maharashtra! Needless to say, they also cornered flats for their near and dear ones in exchange for the substantial and speedy services that they had rendered, apart from other possible perks.

From available reports, Ashok Chavan recommended three flats for his in-laws. Vilasrao Deshmukh recommended three, Narayan Rane two, Shivajirao Nilangekar two and Sushil Kumar Shinde one. But it was probably Sushil Kumar Shinde who took the cake. Former police officer Y P Singh, who had served for a time in the CBI, last week held a press conference where he made grave charges against Shinde on the basis of documents procured under the RTI.

Y P Singh charged that Sushil Kumar Shinde as chief minister sanctioned as many as 51 of the 103 flats in the Adarsh Society, after moving the concerned files with unprecedented speed through eleven departments before attesting his own signature. This entire process was completed in one single day! Normally, it would have taken several months or even a couple of years.

That day – August 23, 2004 – was also very significant. It was the day before the election code of conduct for the state assembly elections came into force! Singh went further and charged that all this was actually done on August 24, when the code of conduct was already in force, but the date of sanction was brazenly changed to August 23! Further, on September 16, when the code of conduct was very much in place, Sushil Kumar Shinde took the decision to allot all these flats at just 20 per cent of the prevailing market rate!

The moving force behind this whole scam was Kanhaiyalal Gidwani, a Congress MLC, who was earlier in the Shiv Sena. He, along with a defence department estates officer called R C Thakur, who is the chief promoter of the Adarsh Society, was responsible for both the planning and execution of the entire operation. Gidwani himself cornered three flats for him and his two sons. Another leading Congress minister, education baron Patangrao Kadam, recommended one more flat.

If the Congress was in the lead in the Adarsh scam, the NCP was not far behind. The new deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar, former deputy chief minister R R Patil and minister Jayant Patil all recommended one flat each. Besides, former speaker of the state assembly Babasaheb Kupekar, MP Srinivas Patil and MLA Jitendra Avhad – all of the NCP – cornered one flat each.

Not to be left behind, some leaders of the Shiv Sena and BJP also laid their hands on a few flats. Among them were the Shiv Sena’s former union environment minister Suresh Prabhu and a member of the BJP national executive, Ajay Sancheti, who is known to be close to BJP national president Nitin Gadkari. In fact, it has been alleged that Gadkari is himself the owner of a benami flat bought in the name of one of Sancheti’s car drivers!

Actually, there are benami flats galore in Adarsh Society. It has been revealed that 40 members of the Society who have flats in their names have declared their income to be less than Rs 12,500 per month. And yet they could afford to pay Rs 60 to 80 lakh per flat! This strengthens the suspicion that these are benami flats that are actually owned by powerful politicians and bureaucrats.


Leading bureaucrats or their relatives also find pride of place in the Adarsh Society. Many of them had also been allegedly roped in to give various kinds of illegal permissions. They naturally got plum flats in return.

They include former state chief secretary D K Shankaran, former principal secretary to the CM Subhash Lalla, former Mumbai municipal commissioner Jayaraj Phatak, former Mumbai district collectors Pradeep Vyas and Idzes Kundan, former BEST general manager Uttam Khobragade, former urban development secretaries Ramanand Tiwari and P V Deshmukh, former transport secretary Chintamani Sangeetrao, former agriculture secretary Shivajirao Deshmukh, former education director J M Abhyankar and former income tax commissioner Arun Pawar. It appears that Jayaraj Phatak has cornered no less than four subsidised flats in various such elite societies in Mumbai! There may be many other such examples of both politicians and bureaucrats.

Top officers of the defence services have also been given flats in Adarsh Society. They include two former chiefs of army staff, generals Deepak Kapur and Nirmal Chandra Vij, former chief of naval staff admiral Madhavendra Singh and other top officers. The current chief of army staff general V K Singh has expressed anguish over these developments and has said that this pursuit of personal gain by top officers has sullied the image of the armed forces.

The Adarsh scam is replete with a litany of violations of laws, rules and regulations. To begin with, although the site of the building lies in the coastal regulation zone (CRZ) for which clearance from the union environment ministry is mandatory, no such clearance was ever taken. On the contrary, it was falsely stated that such a clearance had been obtained! The state environment department looked the other way. As per CRZ rules, the height of the building could not be raised beyond 30 metres. This limit was exceeded three times over to 103 metres! Instead of the six-storey building that was originally planned, it became a 31-storey skyscraper!

Colaba area in South Mumbai is an important defence base. Around the building there are a number of army and navy fuel depots and also centres where battle tanks and armoured vehicles are based. If terrorists ever take control of this building (as they actually did take control of the nearby Taj Mahal and Trident hotels for four horrifying days from November 26, 2008) they can cause havoc to the defence base and to national security itself. But this security aspect was also completely ignored by the powers that be in their lust and greed.

The width of the captain Prakash Pethe Marg that adjoins the Adarsh building was originally slated to be 60 metres. It was reduced to 18 metres. The actual width of the road is now only 10 metres. All this was done just to accommodate and expand the area for the Adarsh building. The floor space index (FSI) of a nearby BEST bus depot was transferred to Adarsh so that it could increase its height and the number of floors. Apart from residential flats, permission was given to set up commercial establishments in the building.

For years the land in question was in the possession of the army and records had earlier been produced to show that it was also owned by the army. However, some army officers themselves wrote letters to the state government and the district collector stating that the land belonged to the revenue department of the state government! Now, the CBI which is conducting an inquiry, is reported to have come to the conclusion that the land did indeed belong to the army! This is another grave aspect that will put many in the dock.

Finally, the state government gave official permission to induct even non-military persons into the Adarsh Society to enable them to get apartments. And that is how scores of flats were cornered by bourgeois politicians and bureaucrats. The original stated objective of giving these flats to the Kargil war widows and to the Kargil war veterans was naturally thrown to the winds!

All this is nothing but venality with a vengeance. After the public uproar over the issue, the union environment ministry has served a notice on the Adarsh Society asking it to show cause why the building should not be demolished altogether. The union defence ministry has instituted a CBI inquiry. But given the history of rampant misuse of the CBI to suit the political ends of the ruling party, it can hardly be relied upon to unearth the whole truth. Some of the political figures involved are still ministers in the union and the state government. Some of the bureaucrats involved are still serving in high positions. What moral right do they have to continue in their posts? And what of the bureaucrats and defence officials who have retired? It is clear that this scam must be thoroughly probed, the culprits prosecuted and stringent action taken.


The Adarsh scam has also brought into sharp focus the larger issue of the overall direction of urban development in Maharashtra. As a result of the neoliberal policies of the last two decades, the development of a huge metropolis like Mumbai has got skewed beyond imagination. The same is happening to other large cities in the state like Pune, Nashik, Thane, Nagpur, Amravati, Aurangabad, Nanded, Latur, Solapur, Kolhapur and others.

New cities like Amby Valley and Lavasa are being set up in Pune district with the proactive involvement of ruling class politicians like Sharad Pawar and others. These cities are being built purely for the rich by ruthlessly using bulldozers to uproot the local peasantry, much of it tribal, from its land.

Take the example of Mumbai. In the 1990s, the Sharad Pawar regime changed the development control (DC) rules to enable industrialists to sell off the huge lands of their textile mills and other factories at massive profits. The builder-developer lobby made astronomical profits by building shopping malls, multiplexes, and residential and commercial towers on this land. A decade later, the Vilasrao Deshmukh regime relaxed the FSI in Mumbai and this led to a skyrocketing of land prices in the city. Recently, the urban land ceiling act was repealed and this freed thousands of acres of land for the builder lobby.

All these steps led to three main results. First, a powerful nexus of bourgeois politicians, bureaucrats, police officials, builders, contractors and criminals was formed and all decisions of urban development began to be taken by this nexus in its own interest. A classic case in point is the new 27-storey house built by Mukesh Ambani at a staggering cost of over Rs 9000 crore in the posh Malabar Hill area, wiping out an orphanage on land that was owned by the Waqf Board. Second, crores of rupees of black money were created by this nexus and this increased its use by bourgeois political parties in elections to a massive extent.

Third, due to massive escalation in the price of houses, the working people – be they Marathi or non-Marathi, Hindu or Muslim, dalit, OBC or upper caste – began to be driven out of Mumbai under every successive government over the last few decades, be it of the Congress-NCP or the Shiv Sena-BJP. And that is precisely why, the same rulers who went out of their way to help the elite Adarsh Society on the one hand, lost no time in demolishing hutments, driving away hawkers and removing encroachments by the poor on the other. This was the real meaning of the ruling class slogan of turning Mumbai into Singapore!

Source: People’s Democracy


Another issue that came to the fore in Maharashtra in recent months was the controversy raked up over the novel “Such a Long Journey” by Rohinton Mistry. This novel had been in the Mumbai University syllabus for long. It has its setting in the period of the Emergency. No one had ever objected to it.

Suddenly, one fine day, Aditya Thackeray, the grandson of Shiv Sena (SS) supremo Bal Thackeray and the son of SS executive president Uddhav Thackeray led a demonstration outside Mumbai University, burnt copies of the book and demanded that it be withdrawn from the syllabus, ostensibly because it was obscene. The real reason was that it had critical references to the SS.

But what happened next was nothing short of startling. The recently appointed Mumbai University vice chancellor Dr Rajan Welukar immediately announced the very next day that the novel had been removed from the syllabus! The then chief minister Ashok Chavan supported this decision, saying that the novel also had critical references to former prime minister Indira Gandhi!

Actually, elections to the leading academic bodies of the university, including the board of studies and the management council, were then on. Dr Rajan Welukar did not think it fit to wait for the elections and then refer the matter to the new board of studies. Instead, he said that he called the old board of studies which took the decision to remove the novel from the syllabus! Such speed of decision in such a controversial matter has been unheard of, not only in Mumbai University but in any other reputed academic institution in the country.

Doubts had been raised even earlier about the merit of the new vice chancellor. His appointment has been challenged in a court of law. This spineless decision, which is a challenge to the freedom of expression, only confirms those doubts. The supportive stand of the Congress chief minister was also in line with the old compromising stands of the Congress (and the NCP) vis a vis the communal and chauvinistic forces. The intellectual community and the press in Mumbai condemned the decision of the vice chancellor.

Within a month of this episode, in the Dussehra rally of the SS, Bal Thackeray with much fanfare inducted Aditya as the chief of the SS student wing by presenting him with a sword! With the above act of intolerance, he had earned his colours and had proved himself to be a ‘worthy’ successor to his grandfather!

Source: People’s Democracy


Brinda Karat, MP and Polit Bureau member of CPI (M) has written a letter to Ghulam Nabi Azad, minister for health and family welfare on November 18 regarding the reported decision of the health ministry to introduce injectable contraceptives as part of the public health programme in the name of increasing the basket of contraceptive choices. The following is the text of the letter:

I am writing to you in connection with the reported decision of the health ministry to introduce injectable contraceptives as part of the public health programme in the name of increasing the basket of contraceptive choices. I believe that this will be a harmful step damaging to the health interests of women.

I was surprised to read that one of the “new” factors quoted by health officials for the introduction was the National Rural Health Mission. It will be entirely unfortunate if the NRHM gets converted into a Mission to introduce damaging invasive hormonal contraceptives into the health system. Surely that is not its mandate.

You are aware that a similar proposal in the nineties had to be ultimately withdrawn because of the legitimate objections of women’s organisations and public health experts and activists. Those reasons are equally valid today.

These include:

1. Injectibles have side effects which are well documented. These include disruption in the menstrual cycle which include both Menorrhagia and Metrorhagia. Other side effects are headaches, dizziness, weight gain, abdominal bloating and discomfort. Government officials pushing injectables consider these side effects to be “minor.” However for women, particularly women doing hard manual labour, these side effects are major as they seriously impact on their work besides causing great inconvenience effecting the quality of their lives. These are precisely the women who will be targets of the programme.

It should be noted that in a trial conducted by ICMR of the injectible contraceptive Net-en, the cumulative discontinuation rate due to menstrual disturbance was 21.2 per cent in the first year and 43.5 per cent in the second year. In another study done by WHO on Depo Provera, discontinuation rates were ever higher between 33.3 per cent to 75 per cent and 49.5 per cent to 91.3 per cent.

2. Long term effects include heart and liver problems, adverse impact on bone density etc.

3. Long acting contraceptives contain hormones and require close monitoring since it is provider controlled. If for example a woman gets a reaction after having a daily pill, she can immediately stop having it. But once an injection is given the reaction is beyond her control. We do not have a strong monitoring system. Vast areas are uncovered by minimum health infrastructure. In such a situation it would be against the minimum health and human rights of women to introduce such methods of contraception in the public health system.

4. It would also be extremely shortsighted to introduce such a wide use of injections which would increase the danger of the spread of HIV-AIDS.

There is a huge unmet need for safe contraception in India. It is necessary for the government to take urgent steps to fill this gap. However it would be highly objectionable if the government’s stated concern for population stabilisation should be translated into a programme which would be against the interests of poor women. Choice can and should never include harmful drugs.

If such a decision has indeed been taken, I would request its urgent reconsideration. I would also request you to convene a meeting of concerned health and women’s activists who are concerned about this issue.

Source: People’s Demoracy











Monday, November 22, 2010






The Central Committee of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) met in New Delhi from November 19-21, 2010. It has issued the following statement:


The country has been rocked by the startling exposures of high level corruption in the recent period – the 2G spectrum scam, the Commonwealth Games scandal, the Adarsh housing fraud and the rampant corruption of the Yeddyurappa government in Karnataka.

The 2G spectrum scam is a prime example of the big business-politician-bureaucrat nexus which has now become the hallmark of the neo-liberal regime. As early as February 2008, the CPI(M) had brought to the attention of the country the blatantly illegal manner in which allocation of 2G spectrum and licences were made causing a huge loss to the exchequer. The role of the Union Minister A. Raja was also clear.

Yet, the Congress-led government refused to act. The Prime Minister preferred to overlook such massive corruption, so that his government could manage to survive. After the Lok Sabha election, in the second tenure of the UPA government, the same approach continued.

Now that the CAG has confirmed all the charges leveled at the time when the allocations were made, the Minister has been forced to resign, but the government refuses to acknowledge responsibility for the gigantic fraud. That is why the government refuses to constitute a Joint Parliamentary Committee to investigate the whole affair.

The key issue is to bring to book all those who are involved in wrongdoing. The former minister, the guilty officials and the corporates who have suborned them. The first step in fact should be to cancel the licences of all those companies who have acquired it by illegal means. Further, as the TRAI has pointed out, the licences of those companies who did not fulfill the rollout obligations should also be annulled. Fresh auction should be held to raise the revenue to recoup the losses.

The Prime Minister and his government will be judged on how they accomplish this.

The government’s approach to tackling the Commonwealth Games scandal is also deplorable. It has appointed a Committee which has no powers. What is required are investigations by a joint team of the CBI, the ED and other agencies and prosecution of all those guilty in the scams. The investigation should involve not just the Organising Committee, but should bring within its purview all contracts and dealings by the Delhi government and the Central government agencies.


The BJP government headed by Chief Minister Yeddyurappa in Karnataka has set a new record in cronyism and loot of public resources. This government, which has the mining mafia as part of it, has become the hotbed for all forms of corruption. The Chief Minister himself has been favouring his sons and relatives. His defence is that previous Chief Ministers have done so too. There is no other way but for Yeddyurappa to resign as Chief Minister. The BJP is no different from the Congress when it comes to embracing the nexus of big business and indulging in cronyism.


There is an intertwining of the interests of big corporates and contractors, on the one side, and the ruling politicians and bureaucrats, on the other, which are engaged in promoting crony capitalism, siphoning off of public funds and dispensing favours. This is the new liberalized regime ushered in which is now polluting and corrupting every sphere of public life.

Such massive corruption, defrauding of the exchequer and siphoning off of public funds is an assault on the people and the poor. The Rs. 1.76 lakh crore loss of revenue in the 2G and other similar scams could have financed a universal Public Distribution System, expanded the Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme and enabled a big expansion of public health and education systems. The people have to be mobilized for a war on corruption.

The Central Committee of the CPI(M) decided to conduct a campaign against corruption and the big business-politician-bureaucrat nexus. The week-long campaign will be held from December 5-11, 2010 during which all Party units will hold meetings, dharnas and rallies to focus on the issue of corruption in high places and the need to bring the guilty to book.


The outcome of the visit of the US President Obama has been to promote the business and commercial interests of the United States and to draw India into a closer military and security relationship. The joint statement issued after the visit has talked about opening up Indian agriculture and retail trade for American MNCs. This will be detrimental to the interests of the crores of small and marginal farmers and small retail shop owners and traders. The joint statement spells out a close defence and security relationship which involves buying US weapons on a large scale.

The Manmohan Singh government seems to be falling in step with the geopolitical strategy of the United States in order to earn the US endorsement for India’s permanent membership of the Security Council. There are no prospects in the immediate future for such a membership to materialize. When it does so, it has to be on the basis of India’s independent role and influence and when the United Nations structure is democratised.


The Central Committee discussed and adopted a report on the Jammu & Kashmir problem. This report deals with the historical background of the issue and spells out the Party’s approach for a political solution for the Kashmir issue.

The Central Committee noted that no steps have been taken to remove the security structures which are oppressing the people in the Kashmir valley. Though the eight point initiative of the Centre talked about a review of the Disturbed Areas Act in force, nothing has been done in that direction.

The Central Committee expressed its disappointment at the appointment of a group of interlocutors for Jammu & Kashmir who are non-political persons. If the political process is to be taken seriously there has to be a political group which can initiate the dialogue process.


The recent arrest of the absconding Aseemanand who is the main accused in the Hyderabad Mecca Masjid blast is further confirmation of the fact that some extremist Hindutva elements are responsible for terrorist activities. The protests of the RSS that Hindu religious figures and its activities are being framed for political reasons is disproved by the hard facts and evidence that has emerged.


The Central Committee noted that inflation remains at a high rate of 8.5 per cent and the prices of food items continue to rise. The deregulation of petrol prices has led to a creeping increase in the prices of petrol. From September, through successive hikes, the price has increased by Rs. 1.48 per litre adding to the inflationary pressure.

The Central Committee reiterated its demand that the deregulation of petrol prices be scrapped. It further demanded that the speculation in foodgrains and essential commodities in futures trading be prohibited.


The Central Committee expressed serious concern at the exploitation by micro finance companies who are charging exorbitant interest rates on loans given to members of self-help groups. The Central Government should through legislation, introduce a cap on interest rates and strictly regulate this sector.


The Central Committee warned the UPA government not to open up multi-brand retail trade to foreign companies. The ministry of Commerce and Industry is pushing for such an opening. The Central Committee decided to mobilize small traders and shopkeepers and public opinion against the entry of foreign retail chains.


The Central Committee appreciated the efforts of the Party in the Maoist affected districts of West Midnapore, Bankura and Purulia where people have been mobilised to oppose Maoist violence. In the past four months, people have been coming out in large numbers and holding protest demonstrations and rallies against the depredations of the Maoists and have isolated them from most parts of Jangal Mahal. The Trinamul Congress which is openly colluding with the Maoists continues to extend support to them. The Central Committee condemned the violent attacks by the TMC combine and the Maoists who are killing CPI(M) cadres and supporters in various parts of the state.

The Central Committee paid tribute to the 319 comrades who have been killed in the state since the last Lok Sabha elections.


The Central Committee called upon its units to launch a campaign on the following issues:

1. For a political solution of the Jammu & Kashmir problem

2. Against the communal forces and the terrorist activities of the Muslims and Hindu extremists. Uncover the Hindu extremist network involved in terrorist activities

3. For firm action against those involved in the 2G spectrum scam, the Commonwealth Games corruption, the Adarsh Society scam and the corruption scandals associated with the BJP government in Karnataka

4. Oppose the entry of FDI in retail trade.

5. Implement the Ranganath Mishra Commission Report recommendation on reservation for Muslim minority;

6. Stop disinvestment of the profitable public sector units

7. Bring the Women’s Reservation Bill in the Lok Sabha for adoption

8. Oppose the Seed Bill which is against the interests of the farmers and in favour of the MNCs and corporates.

The Party will launch struggles for

1. Strengthening the PDS and ensuring Food security. Ensure 35 kg of wheat or rice at Rs. 2 per kg in the Universal Public Distribution System

2. A cap on interest on loans given by the micro finance companies

3. Rights of contract workers; Regularize their service in perennial jobs; Defend right to form trade unions

4. Statutory minimum wages for workers in MNREGA and introduction of Urban Employment Guarantee Act