Wednesday, July 29, 2009

HyperMilitarism vs. Social Justice

1. July 30, 2009 2:24 am Link


Hypermilitarism vs. Social Justice

More than anything else, this news analysis (See link below) tells us how profoundly affected contemporary South Asian nation-states are, by the centuries-long divide and rule legacy of British colonialism and imperialism.

The cooked-up borders devised and imposed by the Brits still haunt us today. Millions of innocents died during “partition”. The sores fester, the scars remain. This dehumanizing colonial legacy still affects every action by our indigenous neo-colonial elites, most of whom have inherited the mindset of those who colluded with, and profited from, the British Divide and Rule strategy.

The challenge for our leaders today is to give up the colonial dependency mindset of hypermilitarism as illustrated by your report on the new female recruits to India's BSF. Our colonial dependency mindset has been compounded by the neo-imperial projects of the US and US-led NATO in our region.

However, our leaders have no incentive to reverse direction and change course. There are limitless profits and political capital to be made, from hypermilitarism. Our leaders can only be held accountable by We the People. Our democracies are fragile and flawed but our civil society is still our best hope against the colonial ideology that continues to favor militaristic solutions to social justice problems.

Chithra KarunaKaran
Ethical Democracy As Lived Practice
NYTimes Copyright

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The Burqa in Democracy: Facing, Gazing & Civil Discourse for Social Justice

The Burqa in Democracy: Facing, Gazing & Speaking To Secure Social Justice

Q. Is wearing the face covering of burqa/niqab, or any other garment covering the face, a socially responsible act by a woman in a public democratic space? I say NO.

Secular Democracy can and must trump patriarchy, religion, culture, tradition, custom, belief in order to deliver Secular Democracy's prime commitment to SOCIAL JUSTICE.

French President Sarkozy recently gave fundamentalist feudal religionists as well as fundamentalist contemporary civil libertarians, a distracting opportunity to argue respectively 1) that face covering is a religious act or 2) face covering is a private individual choice, like free speech, free assembly, etc.

Sarkozy is gravely mistaken and has done serious damage to democratic processes, by his ignorant, dismissive and demeaning mis-characterization of the Burqa/niqab

However, Sarkozy has the right intent but the wrong argument. His comments are logically flawed and fail to defend civil society, in France and elsewhere.


Because Sarkozy, in his speech to France's Parliament in June, completely failed to address the core problem for secular democracy, arising from covering the face in public spaces.

Look, it's not that complicated -- Democracy cannot express with faces covered. Any face covered in public discourse, is an impediment to democracy.

Q. Let's focus on patriarchy and its prescription of face covering for women. Can we see the blatant unequal and oppressive hand of patriarchy in imposing face covering exclusively on women?

Q.Is there even one culture of the 4000+ known distinct cultures in the entire world, that prescribes face-covering for men? NO. Therefore the driving force orchestrating face covering for women, but not for men, is patriarchy, not Culture or religion or ethnicity, or language.

Even Sarkozy's neoliberal argument against the burqa is patriarchal, exposing his unearned privileged membership in male dominant French society.

Patriarchy is a universal impediment to social progress and needs to be challenged everywhere, most especially in the multiple contexts of secular democracy.

Sarkozy is not so much concerned with women's equal empowerment.

Instead, Sarkozy is more concerned with overturning prescriptive cultural beliefs which are private ones, in which the nation-state has no role.

Sarkozy has the right intent but the wrong argument.

Sarkozy is arguing AGAINST religion and culture.

Instead Sarkozy should argue FOR Democracy.

Let me raise some commonsense practical objections to face covering:

How can women equally participate in public discourse in civil society when some of their faces are hidden?

Q. How can others, including other women, who participate in the public sphere with face-covered women, know who they are talking to, read their faces, understand their words, if those same faces are hidden?

Q. Why is it Ok for face-covered women to see the faces of others, including men, but deny others the opportunity to look at their faces while they are participating in the public sphere of secular democracy?

Such women have an unearned advantage, retained for them by their male patriarchal handlers and exploiters, whether these handlers are their fathers, husbands or clerics or the nation-state. The face coverers can see us but we can't see them!
Therefore face-covering women are not the victims, they are the patriarchy--enabled perpetrators of social and political inequality in the secular democratic public sphere.

Face-coverers, Wear your burqa in your kitchen, in bed, in the bath, on the toilet, but once you leave your home and step out on a public road paid for by public funds in a democracy, a road paid for by the productive labor of We the People, show your face!

Face-coverers, You cannot be a beneficiary of secular democracy by hiding your face from others. Your face does not belong to your husband or the Prophet except in the private realm of your private domestic space. In the Public Sphere of Secular Democracy show your face! My taxes require you to show your face! If you live in atheocrayic, feudal nation-state, follow the prescriptions of our patriarchal male handlers. But in secular democracy you owe your face to the public gaze.

Facial identity and social recognition are essential for the workplace,the market place, the ballot box, the driver's licence, the marriage license, the divorce certificate, school attendance, walking in the street, using an ATM, participation in the street protest, taking a plane trip, paying for groceries at the checkout counter, receiving treatment in a hospital -- in short all PUBLIC ACTS in public democratic spaces.

As a public leader of a democracy, the use of face covering in the PUBLIC SPHERE is precisely the arena Sarkozy needed to focus on, NOT private arguably prescriptive religious and cultural aspects. Sarkozy criticized women NOT Patriarchy. Because he is a patriarch and enjoys the privileges of patriarchy.

Quoting Sarkozy (my emphasis added to text):

In our country (France), we cannot accept that women be prisoners behind a screen, cut off from all social life, deprived of all identity," Sarkozy said to extended applause of lawmakers. {Sarkozy is wrong, the burqa does confer identity} but in the private. domestic realm.

"The burqa is not a religious sign, it's a sign of subservience, a sign of debasement _ I want to say it solemnly," he said. "It will not be welcome on the territory of the French Republic...." {Sarkozy is wrong, covering your face cannot be simplisticaly interpreted to be a sign or debasement the burqa is not any of the things he alludes to here. He is right, the burqa should not be welcome in France (On France's streets and other public discursive spaces but fine in France's kitchens and domestic spaces). Sarkozy cites the wrong reasons for making the burqa "unwelcome."]

In a few months French lawmakers, presumably after due deliberation, will pronounce some form of legislation on the burqa.

I am not holding my breath on what the Sarkozy-led postcolonial, post=imperial French patriarchy in Parliament is about to say or do.

Currently, France has an unenviable record on immigrant opportunity. Therefore, It is not women covering their faces in burqa that are impeding immigrant opportunity, but French racism stemming from France's ugly colonial/imperial history of oppression and grabbing resources of peoples of the Global South, represented by contemporary inequality in France, of access to civil rights, economic parity -- in short, social justice.

I am more interested in the implications of any woman covering her face in the public sphere of democratic societies.

Q. Is wearing the burqa a socially responsible act by a woman in a democratic space. I say NO.

Democratic spaces -- public squares, the marketplace, the school, the parliament, the ballot box, by their very definition depend for their continuation and enrichment on public discourse.

Public discourse, based on a public visible presence, necessarily involves women and men facing [yes facing, language is a powerful vehicle for public expression] one another in persuasive, reasoned argument, to convey and implement the deliberative collective will of civil society.

Such discursive exchanges are the bedrock from which public policy ought to shape and influence the course of a nation-state. Not party mobocracy, not dynastic leadership, but civil society.

It's that simple -- I have to see your face at the same time as you have to see mine -- facing cannot be unequal, asymmetrical, a one way cul de sac, where you can see me but I cant see you, face to face. Facing is gazing, nuanced verbal expression, an indispensable part of public argument on the way to delivering social justice for the Greater Collective Good (GCG).

It's that simple but it's also deeply complex. From an evolutionary perspective, humans come evolutionarily equipped to recognize and seek meaning from faces. That is why human babies gaze at their caregivers. That is also why we can better remmeber a face than a name. Our brains have evolved to optimize facial recognition as a cue to survival of our species. Face covering impedes facial recognition in social transactions. Facial recognition aids democracy!

Democracy demands a higher eligibility threshold for participation, than the clan, the tribe, the guild, the caste, the feudal landlord or warlord, or the theocracy.

Face it -- The Burqa makes facing, gazing, straightforward full frontal DISCUSSION to secure social justice, impossible for women. The burqa or ANY other form of face covering, does not meet the minimum eligibility requirement for participation in the PUBLIC SPHERE of Secular Democracy.

Chithra KarunaKaran
Ethical Democracy As Lived Practice

NYTimes copyright
Burqa Furor Scrambles the Political Debate in France
Published: August 31, 2009
Burqa Furor Scrambles the Political Debate in France
Joel Robine/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

A woman wearing a niqab passed a bookstore at the annual meeting of the Islamic Organizations Union in Le Bourget, in the northeastern suburbs of Paris in 2005.

Published: August 31, 2009

PARIS — It is a measure of France’s confusion about Islam and its own Muslim citizens that in the political furor here over “banning the burqa,” as the argument goes, the garment at issue is not really the burqa at all, but the niqab.
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Times Topics: France
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Mehdi Fedouach/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Women at the annual meeting of French Muslims organized by the Union of Islamic Organizations of France in Le Bourget, outside Paris, in April.
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Two veiled Muslim women carrying the French flag during a march against Islamophobia and in favour of the veil in schools, in Paris in 2004.

A burqa is the all-enveloping cloak, often blue, with a woven grill over the eyes, that many Afghan women wear, and it is almost never seen in France. The niqab, often black, leaves the eyes uncovered.

Still, a movement against it that started with a Communist mayor near Lyon has gotten traction within France’s ruling center-right party, which claims to be defending French values, and among many on the left, who say they are defending women’s rights. A parliamentary commission will soon meet to investigate whether to ban the burqa — in other words, any cloak that covers most of the face.

The debate is indicative of the deep ambivalence about social customs among even a small minority of France’s Muslim citizens, and of the signal fear that France’s principles of citizens’ rights, equality and secularism are being undermined.

French discomfort with organized religion, dating from the 1789 revolution and the disestablishment of the Roman Catholic Church, is aggravated by these foreign customs, which are associated in the Western mind with repression of women.

André Gerin, a Communist Party legislator and mayor of Vénissieux, a Lyon suburb with many Muslims from North Africa, began the affair in late June by initiating a motion, signed by 57 other legislators, calling for the parliamentary commission.

“The burqa is the tip of the iceberg,” Mr. Gerin said. “Islamism really threatens us.” In a letter to the government, he wrote: “It is time to take a stand on this issue that concerns thousands of citizens who are worried to see imprisoned, totally veiled women.”

A few days later, President Nicolas Sarkozy said that “the burqa is not welcome on the territory of the French Republic.” He did not say how it would be made unwelcome, however, or whether he intended to extend existing laws that already ban head scarves or any other religious symbol from public schools.

For Mr. Sarkozy, who defends participation in the Afghan war as a matter of women’s rights, “the problem of the burqa is not a religious problem,” he said. “It is a problem of liberty and the dignity of women. It is a sign of servitude and degradation.”

There is a strong suspicion that Mr. Sarkozy, who has supported religious freedom, is playing politics in a time of economic unhappiness and social anxiety. But he also seems to want to restrict more radical and puritanical forms of Islam from gaining further hold here.

The French press has been full of heated opinion pieces, charts about different Islamic veils, stories about public swimming pools and the burqini, an Islamic swimsuit that covers the body and the hair (but not the face). Women wearing the niqab, many of them French converts to Islam, have said that they have freely chosen to cover themselves after marriage. Others say solemnly that to stigmatize or ban the veil would only cause more women to wear it, out of protest.

Last year, Faiza Silmi, now 33, was denied French citizenship in part for wearing the niqab, bringing a legal judgment about personal dress into the home. In an interview with Le Monde, Ms. Silmi said that she chose to wear the niqab after her marriage, even if her own mother thought it was “a little too much.”

“Don’t believe for a moment that I am submissive to my husband!” she said. “I’m the one who takes care of the documents and the money.”

Passions have been so high that when domestic intelligence issued a report saying that only 367 women in France wore a full veil, it seemed to make no difference.

For many French Muslims, the entire discussion is an embarrassment and an incitement to racial and religious hatred.

M’hammed Henniche is the secretary for the private Union of Muslim Associations of Seine-Saint-Denis. He is French first of all, he said, and he is appalled.

“There’s nothing but confusion,” he said. “What they’re talking about is the niqab, but I think choosing to use burqa instead is not an accident. They chose a word that is associated with Afghanistan, and that spreads a negative, scary image.

“There are laws in France that force women to show their face, in certain situations, at the town hall, at the bank,” Mr. Henniche added. “Women who wear niqab take it off when they must. But in the streets, everyone is free. They’re spinning this story in order to stigmatize a community.”

Even existing laws are misunderstood, he said, with a woman refused entry to a bank because employees thought a head scarf was illegal. “It’s a dangerous slip, going from a ban in school to a ban in the streets,” he said.

John R. Bowen, who wrote “Why the French Don’t Like Headscarves: Islam, the State and Public Space,” has been asked to testify by the parliamentary commission.

“French political discourse is internally conflicted,” said Mr. Bowen, a professor at Washington University in St. Louis. There is confusion about different kinds of public space, he said — the street, and places that belong to the state but are not freely open to the public, like schools.

France took from Rousseau the principle that no intermediate group or affiliation should stand between the citizen and the state, which represents the general interest, Mr. Bowen said. But Rousseau also championed the right to form private associations, or clubs. It was not until 1901, however, that the state allowed some unions or associations, Mr. Bowen said, and not until 1981 that foreigners could form them.

Muslim groups then started religious tutoring, seen as promoting Islam, and clubs based on ethnicity or religion are viewed with great suspicion, Mr. Bowen said. “There is a sense that people who are publicly displaying their religious or ethnic characteristics are a slap in the face of French applied political theory.”

Mr. Bowen does not think there will be a law banning the niqab. Nor does Yazid Sabeg, Mr. Sarkozy’s commissioner for diversity and equal opportunity, who said it would be unenforceable.

“Even if they ban the burqa, it will not stop there,” Mr. Henniche, of the Muslim group, said. “There is a permanent demand for legislating against Muslims. This could go really bad, and I’m scared of it. I feel like they’re turning the screws on us.”

Nadim Audi contributed reporting from Paris.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Caste-driven Inequality Mindset -- Systemic Casteness

In India, public policy continues to be shaped by the caste-driven inequality mindset.

IF we become aware of the power and influence of this core supremacist ideology of caste inequality that has shaped our social structure for roughly two thousand years, we can dismantle major parts of this ideology for the benefit of the Greater Collective Good (GCG). The GCG can be quantified as a measurable indicator of social justice within a given society.

The caste-driven inequality mindset can be seen in every aspect of public policy.

Subsidies for education of the middle class (occupied by the dominant castes) but lack of universal primary education (which would benefit the oppressed castes) after 60+ plus years of independence from colonialism.

Instead of assertively investing in public mass transit which would equalize access, India has favored the automobile (an elite strategy that intersects with dominant caste preferences.

It is interesting that Indian policy makers speak of forward castes and backward castes when the fact is they are dominant castes and oppressed castes respectively. I need not elaborate on the ever expanding identification of OBCs and MBCs which form the news caste system of post-independent India. These become more groups to be oppressed by the dominant castes.

Instead of a national shelter policy India has favored a policy approach that results in increasing numbers of homeless and of so-called slum clearance as local policy.

The examples given above can be expanded to include every policy of the Indian elite -- the Caste-driven Inequality Mindset. Systemic Casteness is the Indian rule.

Every social group has its own ideology of promoting inequality or advancing equality. In India the caste ideology of inequality drives our public policy. It would be beneficial to critically examine this overarching supremacist core ideology that shapes the mindset of the leaders and the led.

Chithra KarunaKaran
Ethical Democracy As Lived Practice

see "Theory of Systemic Whiteness" in a gOogle search

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Busy in Baloch? Let India Say NO, we are NOT

We cannot, as a nation with Gandhian ideals and practices, be on the path of ethical democracy, IF our Govt. is busy meddling in Baloch.

We the People have not given our elected govt. a mandate to be in Baloch. To
interfere in Baloch. Are we there?

The Joint Declaration from Sharm el Sheikh (see below), contains the following text:

[Prime Minister Gilani mentioned that Pakistan has some information on threats in Balochistan and other areas.]

What "threats"? By whom? Terrorists nurtured by Pakistan? Well that would be Pakistan's problem not ours, take care of your own crap, Pak.

What threats? By whom? India? Is India busy in Baloch? Is that what Gilani is asserting? Why does the joint text statement contain absolutely no response on this point from Manmohan? Singh should have made some rejoinder.

Unfortunately Manmohan Singh failed to ask Gilani to clarify what he meant by his unprecedented assertion. Does Singh's silence imply India's involvement in Baloch?

The government of Pakistan appears to be alleging that India is conducting political activities on the ground in Baloch. Manmohan is stated in media accounts to have asked for evidence. But he has not categorically denied any involvement by India in Baloch. So is India busy in Baloch, where it has no business to be, from an ethical standpoint? The ordinary people of Baloch are perfectly capable of asserting their political claims, whatever these might be, without any interference from India. India should have full faith in the ordinary people of Baloch, ful faith that they can claim their aspirations whatever these might be. What is seen as "strategic" is not necessarily ETHICAL. India needs to be ethical, not merely strategic for mistakenly perceived short-term geopolitical advantage. That would make us no better then Pakistan. No better than the Brits who divided us. Our secure refuge is Ethics -- It is the cornerstone of our revolutionary freedom, our liberatory politics, our social justice demands, satyameva jayate. That ancient ideal was freshly written in the courageous sacrifices made by our masses during independence.

So we need the truth from our elected representatives. We Indians have no business to be in Baloch. Unless we wish to be unethical and in pursuit of unethical means towards unethical ends, to compromise our fragile, flawed democracy that is long on promises but short on social Justice for our people right here at home. We have enough work right here in India, without trying to get busy in Baloch.

India has no ethical justification whatsoever to be busy in Baloch.

chithra karunakaran
Ethical Democracy As Lived Practice

The Hindu Copyright

Baloch leaders back Manmohan on Sharm el-Sheikh Declaration

Praveen Swami

Imperative for India to speak up against Pakistan Army’s terrorism in Balochistan: Baloch society

“New Delhi ought to offer Baloch insurgents military support”

NEW DELHI: Ever since India and Pakistan signed a joint statement at Sharm el-Sheikh last week, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has come under sustained attack for consenting to the inclusion of a reference to Balochistan.

Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani, the Joint Declaration records, “mentioned that Pakistan has some information on threats in Balochistan and other areas.”

Even the passing mention of the conflict, Dr. Singh’s critics contend, endorses Pakistan’s allegations that India is supporting the long-running insurgency in its largest province.

But Baloch nationalist leaders see things differently. Many have welcomed the Declaration, and called on India to use the opportunity to raise the issue in talks with Pakistan.

Suleiman Khan, the United Kingdom-based heir to the throne of the Khanate of Kalat, is among those who hope that the Declaration will lead to international intervention in the conflict in his province.

“We earnestly hope,” he told The Hindu, “that India will now act on its moral responsibility to raise the Balochistan issue with Pakistan and the world.”

“In this century,” Mr. Khan said, “India has acquired great influence and power. With power come obligations. We are surprised that India, despite claiming that it is a democracy and a supporter of human rights, has so far chosen not to take a proactive role in Balochistan.”

Wahid Baloch, president of the Baloch Society of North America, agreed. “It is imperative,” he says, “for India to now speak up against the terrorism perpetrated by the Pakistan Army in Balochistan.”

“For a variety of reasons,” he argued, “India has been very hesitant to support the Baloch cause, even though among all nations it is the only one to have voiced some concern for our plight. But if Pakistan can provide support for groups in Jammu and Kashmir, and raise the issue on every available international forum, why is India hesitant to do the same for our people?”

Both leaders were insistent that India had no role in supporting Baloch insurgents — but both said New Delhi ought to offer Baloch insurgents military support.

“As far as I know,” Mr. Khan said, “there is no Indian support for Baloch freedom fighters. If there were, I would welcome it.”

Mr. Baloch went further. “India rightly supported the just war of the people of Bangladesh against tyranny, and helped them win freedom. It is morally obliged, as a democracy, to provide Baloch groups with training and material support to stop the slaughter of our people.”

Like Jammu and Kashmir, the origins of the conflict in Balochistan date back to the independence of India.

The Khan of Kalat, the monarch who ruled Balochistan under the umbrella of the British Empire, sought independence for his state in 1947. Pakistani troops moved into the region in March 1948, but Mir Ahmad Yar Khan — Mr. Khan’s grandfather—refused to sign the legally necessary Document of Accession. Pakistan settled the issue by despatching combat jets to strafe the Khan’s palace.

In mid-1950s, the Prince of Kalat launched the People’s Party, representing a new Baloch nationalism that cut across tribal and linguistic lines. In 1972, a People’s Party-led alliance won the elections. It demanded greater representation of the ethnic-Baloch in government and control over regional development.

Pakistan’s establishment rejected these calls. Matters came to a head in March 1973, after Pakistan interdicted weapons alleged to have been despatched by Iraq’s covert service to the head of the Balochistan provincial government, Sardar Ataullah Mengal. Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto promptly dismissed Mr. Mengal’s government, and a bitter insurgency broke out.

Led by the Marxist Balochi People’s Liberation Front and the Balochi Students Organisation, some 10,000 guerrillas took on six divisions of the Pakistan Army, backed by close air support. In all 5,300 insurgents, 3,300 Pakistani troops and perhaps tens of thousands of civilians were killed in the fighting.

Since 2005, there has been renewed fighting in the region, fuelled by what Baloch leaders say is discrimination by the ethnic Punjabi-dominated federal government and Army. Insurgents have targeted troops and gas pipelines. Pakistan’s armed forces have, in turn, carried out massive bombardment and air strikes to quell the insurgency in which thousands have been killed.

Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti, the principal voice of the Baloch nationalist movement, was eliminated by Pakistan’s armed forces in August 2006.

United Nations estimates, published in December 2006, stated 84,000 people including 33,000 children had been displaced by the fighting in Balochistan. More than 2,000 people are alleged to have disappeared after they were held by Pakistan’s police and armed forces.
The Hindu copyright
Joint Statement of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and the Prime Minister of Pakistan Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani
News Update

Sharm-el-SheikhJuly 16, 2009

The Prime Minister of India Dr. Manmohan Singh and the Prime Minister of Pakistan Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani met in Sharm El Sheikh on July 16, 2009.

The two Prime Ministers had a cordial and constructive meeting. They considered the entire gamut of bilateral relations with a view to charting the way forward in India - Pakistan relations.

Both leaders agreed that terrorism is the main threat to both countries. Both leaders affirmed their resolve to fight terrorism and to cooperate with each other to this end.

Prime Minister Singh reiterated the need to bring the perpetrators of the Mumbai attacks to justice. Prime Minister Gilani assured that Pakistan will do everything in its power in this regard. He said that Pakistan has provided an updated status dossier on the investigations of the Mumbai attacks and had sought additional information/evidence. Prime Minister Singh said that the dossier is being reviewed.

Both leaders agreed that the two countries will share real-time, credible and actionable information on any future terrorist threats.

Prime Minister Gilani mentioned that Pakistan has some information on threats in Balochistan and other areas.

Both Prime Ministers recognized that dialogue is the only way forward. Action on terrorism should not be linked to the Composite Dialogue process and these should not be bracketed. Prime Minister Singh said that India was ready to discuss all issues with Pakistan, including all outstanding issues.

Prime Minister Singh reiterated India's interest in a stable, democratic, Islamic Republic of Pakistan.

Both leaders agreed that the real challenge is development and the elimination of poverty. Both leaders are resolved to eliminate those factors which prevent our countries from realizing their full potential. Both agreedto work to create an atmosphere of mutual trust and confidence.

Both leaders reaffirmed their intention to promote regional cooperation.

Both Foreign Secretaries should meet as often as necessary and report to the two Foreign Ministers who will be meeting on the sidelines of the forthcoming UN General Assembly.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Ajmal a Victim of Pak's Terror Industry, Pak's Contempt for Social Justice

Today's stunning courtroom confession by the young Pakistani, Mohammad Ajmal Amir, the killer of many innocents in Mumbai on 26/11, sheds light on some inconvenient truths. Let us reflect on these truths -- or run the risk of being murderers seeking an empty revenge.

First, Ajmal is a victim of the Govt. of Pakistan. Ajmal is specifically a victim of Pak's decades-long Terror industry. Ajmal Amir's entire life is constructed through poverty, chronic lack of educational and employment opportunity and instead he had full opportunity to gain access to the apparatus of terror of the nation-state of Pakistan. Ajmal's confession should be read side by side with President Zardari's equally stunning and courageous (even if politically motivated) public admission last week that earlier governments of Pakistan had adopted and implemented terror as state policy for short term gains. Instead of giving Pakistanis social justice, their government gave them terror. Terror instead of rotis, terror instead of textbooks, terror instead of a job interview, terror instead of polio vaccine.

Q. Can We, the People of India , separate this young man's ghastly deeds from the context of Terror,that created him?

Let s/he who can answer YES, cast the first stone against Ajmal Amir. Let s/he who can answer YES, say Ajmal Amir would have been murderous, if all his life he had been a beneficiary of, and contributor to, SOCIAL JUSTICE, instead of being reduced in Pakistan to a lifelong human rights Havenot.

Finally, can the Govt. of India claim that it has dispensed Social Justice to its own long suffering millions upon millions of citizens? A nation-state that spends less than 2% of its GDP on social justice endeavors cannot make that claim. Our country has many thousands who are labeled Naxals, Maoists, separatists, etc. whose alleged crimes against the state are rooted in deprivation, hunger, poverty and permanent lack of opportunity.

Can long term injustice make a citizen a killer? Yes it can. We have many Ajmals in our midst, to a lesser or greater degree. Our elected representatives ignore them at our peril. Our democracy is utterly dependent on planning and implementing Social Justice for the most vulnerable, Social Justice for the greater Collective Good (GCG) Only then in India would We the People have traveled that arduous yet rewarding road to becoming an Ethical democracy. We can learn from the sobering example of Ajmal Amir, a young man without hope, a victim of the state.

Chithra KarunaKaran
Ethical Democracy As Lived Practice

Sunday, July 19, 2009

A Sustainably Green India Means Social Justice, an Ethical Choice for Our Democracy

My published New York Times
Comment #155.
July 20th, 2009
9:10 am
Chennai, Tamil Nadu India
July 20th, 2009
10:57 am

So India's Govt. just stated that it will not sign any agreement that will set limits on its greenhouse gas and carbon emissions (see link below).

"We are simply not in a position to take over legally binding emission reduction targets,” Jairam Ramesh, Minister of State for Environment and Forests, declared at Hillary Clinton's news conference. “That does not mean that we are oblivious of our responsibilities.” Mr. Ramesh, WE the People will see, if our elected government is indeed not oblivious to its responsibilities to protect and preserve Our Living Mutual Earth.

So India just said a qualified NO. Well, OK. But will INDIA say YES to charting an independent and ETHICAL course on creating a green and sustainable India? This is for us, WE the People of India.

That is what India needs urgently to DO, not just talk, DO.

A Sustainably Green India Can Contribute to Social Justice For All Indians and for all People.

If you live in India as I do five months every year, you would quickly realize that the quality of life of every Indian, particularly the very poor, would be greatly improved by reducing environmental pollution of every sort.

India cannot afford to increase its greenhouse gases or its carbon footprint. The health and economic well-being of every Indian is on the line as the Himalayan glaciers recede, our monsoons more irregular, our rivers heavily polluted and poor Indians throughout our nation-state suffer water scarcity/ lack of food security for their absolute minimum daily needs.
A polluting environment directly causes health problems, especially for our poorest and most vulnerable people..

Propoor social justice
demands reduction of both greenhouse gases and carbon emissions. The heavily subsidized middle class and private industry in India both need to do much, much more without whining that it is being bullied by the big emitters of the G3 or the G5 or whatever. India does not need to sign anything at the behest of the self-serving, now suddenly righteous BIG EMITTERS, The US and Europe, but India does need to be proactive, initiate acyion responsibly to significantly lessen environmental pollution generated in and from India, across India. Let us clean up our own house by taking responsibility.

Let India prioritize development over growth, social justice over consumerism.

India's elites need to lose their colonized, dependent, caste-driven inequality mindset and work hard to engage in longterm planning to show IMMEDIATE measurable results that make India sustainably green and a responsible resident of our MUTUAL earth. This is NOT about bullying by the industrial powers, but about India making ethical environmental choices that are good for the most vulnerable in India, the Global South of which it is a part, and the whole world.

Chithra KarunaKaran

Ethical Democracy As Lived Practice
NYTimes copyright
Meeting Shows U.S.-India Split on Emissions
Published: July 19, 2009

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Naxals or HAVENOTS?

"Naxal menace"? Is TOI editorializing or is it reporting the facts? Is TOI an unwitting mouthpiece of the Indian government? Watch your words, TOI or you will find yourself becoming an arm of the government. Your professional responsibility is to engage in critical thinking to collect and disseminate information on behalf of the diverse Indian Polity.

Of course I am not supporting acts of terror against civilian populations by other civilian groups and individuals. Violence against civilians and destruction of public property, and even violence against the nation-state is never an efficient and productive answer.

The hard evidence is that so-called Naxals, Maoists, etc. are drawn from India's desperately disadvantaged HAVENOTS. Their handlers may have political party affiliation and are exploiting the havenots for their own narrow political gain, by promising and not delivering on basic needs which are HUMAN RIGHTS. However, the rank and file in Lalgarh, Chattisgarh and other areas, are HAVENOTS. So let us call them what they are -- HAVENOTS.

Let Manmohan, Pranab, Chidambaram and crew provide SOCIAL JUSTICE FIRST and We The People of India will have less DOMESTIC TERROR.

Cross-border terror in the form of jihadist and separationist activities causing public terror, (again exploited by handlers in the form of clerics and politicians), is also caused mainly by havenots of Pakistan, Bangladesh Afghanistan, respectively. Similar conditions exists in Nepal and Sri Lanka.

SOCIAL JUSTICE through food security, healthcare, education, land equity, employment etc. is key to dismantling terror in South Asia.

India's burgeoning MIDDLE CLASS is largely apathetic towards the Havenots. Middle Class APATHY is Indian Democracys' greatest impediment. Our middle class, instead of being apathetic and contributing to official corruption and injustice, should butt-kick the Govt. into implementing social justice projects ASAP, immediately, pronto. It is the middle class, heavily subsidized by the Govt, that is the only social stratum that has the resources to deliver the butt-kick to the collusional Government ass.
India's middle class is part of the PROBLEM, NOT part of the SOLUTION. That must change now, in order to circumvent, outmaneuver and dismantle domestic terror. Ethical Democracy through Social Justice.
16 Jul, 2009 l 0354hrs IS
Chithra KarunaKaran
Ethical Democracy As Lived Practice
City University of New York
TOI copyright
We underestimated Naxals: Chidambaram
TNN 16 July 2009, 09:11am IST

NEW DELHI: Home minister P Chidambaram on Wednesday forthrightly admitted that the naxal menace had been underestimated for several years by allowing Left wing extremists to spread their wings even as he promised that the battle against Maoist ultras would be joined in full earnest.

Replying to questions in Rajya Sabha, with the massacre of 30 cops in Chhattisgarh's Rajnandgaon district providing the latest reminder of the firepower amassed by the Maoists, Chidambaram told the House, "Regrettably, for many years, we did not assess the LWE challenge correctly. I think we underestimated the challenge."

Indicating that it will now require sustained efforts to contain the Maoists, the minister said, "Left wing extremists have extended their areas of influence. They have entrenched themselves. Today they pose a grave challenge to the state." The message was clear enough: a massive overhaul of planning and coordination, alongwith arming and training of specialised forces would be required to take on the Red ultras.

Even though his junior colleague Ajay Maken in a Parliament reply dismissed "liberated zones" carved out by Naxals as baseless propaganda, Chidambaram did not mince words. His grim assessment is borne out by latest statistics that Naxal incidents this year are more than those of terrorist violence in J&K and northeast put together. While Naxal affected states reported 915 incidents, J&K and N-E witnessed 810 incidents till May. Of these, 624 took place in the N-E and 186 in J&K.

The minister, acknowledging the ability of Maoists' to launch military-style attacks and overwhelm police detachments, revealed that the government had appointed a military advisor to help out in operational matters. "Plans are being drawn up in close consultation with state governments... we have also appointed a military advisor (Brigadier D S Dadwal)." The Maoist expertise in executing ambushes and mine blasts has only added to the problems.

Making it clear that cooperation of the states was essential in tackling Naxals, the home minister said he was in close touch with chief ministers of LWE-affected states and was looking forward to a meeting with them in August. State-level plans were being drawn so that they could be integrated with the Centre's, he added.

Brigadier Dadwal, a senior Army officer who was serving as deputy GOC with the 11 infantry division, will be responsible for coordination of police forces. He was appointed in February mainly for advising security agencies on specialised training but is also expected to help out in operational procedures. The manner in which police parties are being repeatedly targetted in ambushes makes it necessary to constantly assess and improve tactics.

The movement of visible forces along roads makes them a target and while there are operating codes, they are not dynamic enough while a militant outrage needs speedy, and possibly unconventional, responses. V K Choubey, the SP-level officer who died in the Mandawa attack, was a veteran and had survived two previous assaults. A closer examination of events was needed before it could be concluded that an experienced officer had ignored safety procedures.

The poor maintenance of police stations, lax training and low motivation have led to police in several states simply not challenging the ultras. In Orissa and Jharkhand, the state is seen to have retreated while Chhattisgarh has expressed the resolve, it has not implemented it in a focused manner.

When asked by CPI leader D Raja about the status of Salwa Judum (anti-Naxal people's movement) in Chhattisgarh, Chidambaram said, "We are not in favour of non-state players taking on extremists. That could be a political party... that could be Salwa Judum or any other organisation. We are for states dealing with Left-wing extremists."

On BJP leader M Venkaiah Naidu's remarks that Salwa Judum movement was headed by the leader of Opposition in the Chhattisgarh assembly who is from the Congress, Chidambaram said he was in close contact with chief minister Raman Singh. The CM has "more or less accepted my line", Chidambaram told Naidu.

During his reply, the home minister also took on the Left Front government in West Bengal on a different ground - of poor handling of development demands that helped provide recruits to the LWE and resulted in incidents like Lalgarh. Claiming that alienation of sections of people was a factor in the rise of left wing extremism, he said, "A recent example of this is Lalgarh incident. Frustration and alienation builds up when state governments neglect development needs."

Thursday, July 2, 2009

India -- A Democracy Without a SOCIAL JUSTICE Safety Net?

India cannot call itself an authentic and practising Democracy unless it immediately implements a full fledged program of social welfare services on behalf of its diverse billion plus people -- food security, healthcare, shelter, jobs, income guarantees, unemployment protection. Social Justice is every Indian's right in our unprecedented democracy.

Lack of food security results in maternal and infant malnutrition. 'Slum clearance' is dispossession and internal displacement of the poorest and most vulnerable. A social services safety must mitigate these intolerable conditions for our people.

Enough has been written on the subject. A safety net is long overdue and we can certainly afford to. In fact, we can't afford not to. The India govt. is criminally negligent in failing to deliver on these urgent civil society priorities.

We are a democracy, but we can't eat our vote. We can't find shelter by cowering under the ballot box.

Shame on India's alleged leaders so long as they renege on a comprehensive social welfare safety net and turn their backs on providing basic needs.

Civil Society groups in India and hundreds of other countries should bring charges against their governments in the International Criminal Court for oppressing and exploiting their long suffering citizens.

The ILO states that India can spend about 4% of its GDP to cover ALL Indians with social services. From Kanyakumari to Kashmir We the People need that protection. It is a fundamental human right of our civil society.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Gay Mullahs We Need YOU

Can a gay MULLAH please step forward? We all know you exist. But instead of burying your head in the sand or hiding in the closet We need you to speak out against Sec 377 of the Indian Penal Code, a law that dates back to 1860, during the British Colonial oppression of India.

Today, because India is a secular democracy all individuals and groups have a right to express a personal opinion. However, my personal opinion or anyone else's cannot have the status and authority of LAW.
The law stands above personal opinion. The law of the land has the solemn obligation to protect and preserve the rights of ALL individuals. The diverse LGBT constituency has long been denied equal civil rights in marriage and divorce under Indian Law. Their private sexual lives have long been criminalized under Sec 377 of the IPC. This is inhumane, uncivilized,unethical, unconstitutional and wrong. The Indian state has committed a CRIME against homosexuals by denying them their civil rights.

The Indian state or any secular democratic state IS NOT A PARTNER NOR CAN IT ADJUDICATE PRIVATE ACTIVITIES OF CONSENTING ADULTS, whether heterosexual, homosexual, transgender or any other sexual orientation.

Repeal 377. It's got to go.

Chithra KarunaKaran
Ethical Democracy As Lived Practice
Times of India copyright
After Deoband, other Muslim leaders condemn homosexuality
1 Jul 2009, 1238 hrs IST, PTI
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NEW DELHI: Amid government moves for a re-look at criminalising homosexuality, several Muslim leaders have said any attempt to legally permit
unnatural sex is an attack on religious and moral values.

"Legalisation of homosexuality is an attack on Indian religious and moral values," over a dozen prominent Muslim religious leaders said in a statement.

The statement has been endorsed by Maulana Jalaluddin Omari, President of the Jamaat-e Islami Hind, Maulana Muhammad Salim Qasimi, Rector of Darul Uloom Waqf, Deoband, Maulana Mufti Mukarram Ahmad, Shahi Imam of Jama Masjid Fatehpuri, among others.

"We are shocked to see reports in the media that the Union government is considering the repeal of Section 377 of the IPC, which means making homosexuality legal," the statement said on Tuesday.

It said that homosexuality is a sin and a social evil which will only lead to societal disintegration and break-up of the family.

Appealing to the government not to be influenced by the "decadent trends of the Western culture" and not to give in to the demands of a minuscule minority, the statement said the government should not test the patience of the silent vast majority of the country which abhors such behaviour.

A prominent body of Muslim community Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind had earlier hit out at the government's proposed move, saying the repeal of the section would create "sexual anarchy" in the society.

"The section should stay as its repealing would result in sexual anarchy in the society. Those opposing the section are influenced by Western culture. Those who argue for independence do not realise that independence should have its limits," Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind spokesperson Abdul Hameed Noamani said.

Leading Islamic seminary Darul Uloom Deoband had earlier also opposed the Centre's move to repeal a controversial section, saying unnatural sex is against the tenets of Islam.

"Homosexuality is offence under Shariat Law and haram (prohibited) in Islam," Deputy Vice Chancellor of the Darul Uloom Deoband Maulana Abdul Khalik Madrasi has said.

The reaction came after reports that Centre was likely to convene a meeting soon to evolve a consensus on repealing a controversial section of the Indian Penal Code which criminalises homosexuality.
Today is judgment day for gays
2 Jul 2009, 0730 hrs IST, Smriti Singh, TNN
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NEW DELHI: The Delhi high court is due to deliver on Thursday its much-awaited verdict on a petition seeking decriminalization of

Seven months after concluding the hearings on the petition filed by Naz Foundation, a bench consisting of Chief Justice A P Shah and Justice S Muralidhar will announce whether section 377 IPC could be “read down” to decriminalize private consensual sex between adults of the same sex.

As an NGO working among AIDS/HIV-affected people, all that the petitioner sought was a reading down of the wide-ranging provision, which imposes life sentence on those found to have “carnal intercourse against the order of nature”. Much as the provision sounds archaic, there is little likelihood of it being repealed as the relief sought by the petitioner, by its own admission, has been framed “to ensure the continuance of applicability of section 377 to cases involving children or cases involving non-consensual sex.”

Thus, if the high court saves the provision by reading it down, section 377 will continue to be in the statute book to deal with paedophilia and non-consensual sex between members of the same sex. This is a likely scenario going by the observations made by judges during the hearings last year and the contradictions that remained unresolved in the government’s stand.

While the home ministry wanted the petition to be dismissed, the health ministry supported its contention that section 377 criminalized homosexuality per se, it was obstructing the AIDS/HIV prevention efforts among high-risk groups. Whatever the outcome, this is the second time the Delhi high court will be pronouncing on Naz Foundation’s petition against section 377. In 2004, it dismissed the petition at the preliminary stage stating that “an academic challenge to the constitutionality of a legislative provision could not be entertained.” It further said that when no personal injury was caused to the petitioner by this provision, the petition could not be examined.

The foundation then approached the Supreme Court, which disapproved the manner in which the high court had disposed of the matter. SC observed that when there was a debate on this issue the world over, “where is the question of the petition being academic? We are not able to accept the approach of the high court that it is an academic exercise and there is no personal injury.” Accordingly, in 2006, SC directed HC to reconsider the matter in detail. The judgment is coming close on the heels of statements from ministers on the possibility of a legislative intervention because of growing demands from the community of lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgenders (LGBT). If the judgment serves the purpose of decriminalizing homosexuality, the government will be spared the burden of amending a provision laden with religious and cultural sensitivities.

Interestingly, in the new team of law officers appointed by the government, at least two of them — attorney general Goolam Vahanvati and additional solicitor general Indira Jaising —- have publicly supported the demand for decriminalizing homosexuality.

wikipedia copyright
Chapter XVI, Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code a piece of legislation in India introduced during British rule of India used to criminalise homosexual activity.It is also commonly referred to as the ‘Anti-sodomy Law’. The Section 377 was drafted in 1860 by Lord Macaulay as a part of the colonial project of regulating and controlling the British- and Indian-origin subjects, which reads:

* Unnatural offenses: Whoever voluntarily has carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal, shall be punished with imprisonment for life, or with imprisonment of either description for term which may extend to ten years, and shall also be liable to fine.
* Explanation: Penetration is sufficient to constitute the carnal intercourse necessary to the offense described in this section[1].

The ambit of Section 377, which was devised to criminalize and prevent homosexual associations - sodomy in particular, extends to any sexual union involving penile insertion. Thus even consensual heterosexual acts - but coitus - such as fellatio and fingering may be declared a punishable offense under this law.

The Indian Penal Code was later reproduced in most other British colonies – and to date many of these laws are still in places as far apart as Singapore and Sri Lanka.

In 2006 it came under criticism from 100 Indian literary figures,[2] most prominently Vikram Seth. The movement to repeal Section 377 has been led by the Naz Foundation India Trust, an activist group. It is currently under a constitutional challenge at the Delhi High Court.

It must however be noted that convictions under this law are extremely rare, and in the last twenty years there have been no convictions for homosexual relations in India.