Vikram Roy's Blog

Illustration: Through the ages forcefully people domesticated power. Today peace-loving ordinary people diversified into “wimpy” type!

What is Capitalism? 

“An economic and political system in which a country’s trade and industry are controlled by private owners for profit, rather than by the state.”

How political system and corporates work together? 

Media is the number one powerful weapon in modern capitalistic economy where stock marketcorporate and government are sitting side by side to control public voice they will. The combination of mass media and corporate power had transformed the “language of ideals” into the “language of images”. News had become dominated by public relations by “pseudo-events”.

Indeed media philosophy stands on three basic human psychological studies, “Conspiracy”, “Scandal” and “Emotion”. Three topics people love to read and easily misguided.

Who are used as weapon? The real conflict makers!

Soldiers, judges, cops, investigators are used to control laws and orders. Some of the villains are used as secret agents who are channelling intelligent people…

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Its easier to censor Theatre


Vidya Rao, Thumri Artist

HYDERABAD: A guided tour of Unnava Laxmi Narayana’s ‘Malapalli’ and a taste of cynicism through Rachakonda Viswanatha Sastry’s ‘Aaru Saara Kathalu’ (Six stories on arrack) marked the second day of the national seminar on law and literature in the city. Socialism and class struggle as captured in literary works and machinations to censor art depicting real-life situations formed the essence of the discourse.
The issue of censorship on literature and play-acting brought different perspectives. Noted Gujarati playwright and activist Saroop Dhruv observed that it is easier to censor theatre than movies. “Staging a play requires the script to be submitted in advance. This is something films don’t go through. The experience is similar to having a foetus aborted before it takes shape,” said Saroop whose plays were targeted for critiquing contemporary issues, from communalism to displacement of slum-dwellers in the name of urban beautification in ‘Suno Nadi Kya Kehti Hai’.
Wielding censorship on women musicians by centres of power — a largely male dominated area — was brought out by publisher and Thumri artist, Vidya Rao.
The struggle of workers, marginalised classes and agricultural laborers in Andhra pradesh were covered in separate sessions by writer and filmmaker Kutumba Rao and Sudhakar’s paper on Ra Vi Sastry’s portrayal of the rot in judicial system. The censorship on ‘Malapali’ in pre-independent India was discussed in detail by Kutumba Rao whose recitation of Sri Sri’s rebel cry in ‘Maro Prapancham’ brought alive the struggle of the worker.
In the contemporary context, the legalese employed courts was portrayed in an anecdotal evidence by Suneetha Rani, professor at University of Hyderabad. The Tollywood movie ‘Leader’ which borrows from the dynasty politics in the state was presented through a paper by Sam Gundimeda which drew parallels between the case fought by K.G Kannabiran and Balagopal against the killings in Karamchedu and the cinematic portrayal of a warped sense of extra-judicial justice.

Indian Express

Setback for OPG Power plant, Kutch,Gujarat


Buisness Standard  New Delhi Feb 15, 2012

In a major setback to OPG Power Gujarat, the National Green Tribunal has directed it to stop work at its 300 Mw thermal power plant at Bhadreshwar, Gujarat.

The ongoing construction work was challenged before the Tribunal by fisherfolk, saltpan workers and local villagers. The Tribunal said till all approvals were obtained by the project proponent, no construction activity should take place, said Ritwik Dutta, legal counsel for the appellants.

The Tribunal is a specialised body having the expertise to handle environmental disputes involving multi-disciplinary issues. It was established in 2010 under the National Green Tribunal Act for effective and expeditious disposal of cases relating to environmental protection.

OPG Power started construction work without the required approvals, including those under the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980 and CRZ clearance. This projectis located in Mundra Taluk, Kutch district.

On its website, the company had said “work had begun on the site. The generating plants are scheduled to be commissioned in 2013.”

The ministry of environment and forests (MoEF) earlier this month had issued a showcause notice to OPG Power, seeking explanation on the violation of the coastal regulation zone (CRZ) notification, 2011, in the construction of the plant in the ecologically sensitive Bhadreshwar coast.

In the showcause notice, it has asked the company why the clearance issued to it in September 2011 under the CRZ notification should not be kept in abeyance after cases of violations by the company surfaced.

The NGT in its judgment cited the environmental clearance letter, which clearly stipulates that the project proponent shall not start any construction or project enabling activities unless and until environmental clearance as well as all requisite prior permission and clearances are obtained.

Background

Following mass protests in Kutch along the sea shore, the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF), Government of India, has issued a strongly-worded notice to OPG Power Gujarat Ltd, currently involved in building a 300 MW power plant in Mundra taluka ofKutchdistrict, saying it has violated provisions of the coastal regulatory zone (CRZ) notification of 2011. The plant is being built near village Bhadreshwar, about 25 kilometres from theMundraPortand about 48 kilometres from the Kandla port, and its ultimate goal is to expand its capacity to 2,600 MW.

The notice, dated February 6, 2012, and sent to the OPG’s head office in Chennai, says, the Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC) appraised the project twice, on February 14-15, 2011, and April 5-6, 2011. However, the OPG failed to bring to the notice of the EAC the “involvement of forest land.” Scheduled to be commissioned in 2013, equipment has been ordered from the vendors, including Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd, to complete the work on the plant. OPG hired Tata Consulting Engineers for providing engineering expertise and Gannon Dunkerley for civil construction.

The notice said, OPG in its justification of the violation argued that after obtaining CRZ clearance in November 2011 it “became aware that that the most viable route for the sea water pipelines would pass through a very small tract of land, which is forest land, and it applied to the deputy conservator of forests for diversion of 3.68 hectares (ha) forest land for laying down the proposed sea water pipelines.” Rejecting the argument, the notice underlined, “Disclosure of information after appraisal of the project amounts to suppression of information by the project proponent before the Ministry and EAC at the time of appraisal.”

Citing rules, the notice said, “If a project involves forest as well as non-forest land, work should be started till approval of the Central government for release of forest land under the Act has been given.” Given this situation, the OPG has been asked to give an explanation within a fortnight, as “CRZ clearance issued to the project cannot be kept in abeyance.” If no response is received, the notice warns, the MoEF will be obliged to take “appropriate orders” without any further notice.

Among those opposing the OPG’s power project include fisherworkers, salt pan workers and grazing communities living on the Bhadreshwar coast, who believe that the plant as serious impacts as it would bring about adverse impact on their livelihoods. They have held several protests since 2009 under the banner of Machimar Adhikar Sangharsh Sangathan (MASS), a fishworker’s trade union.

The OPG Group’s initial public hearing in 2009 to set up the 300 MW thermal plant was met with stiff opposition from local communities whose livelihoods were under threat due to the project. While theGujaratgovernment’s State Environment Impact Assessment Authority (SEIAA) was still deliberating on the issue, OPG applied to MoEF for expansion to 2600 MW. “The pending approval from the SEIAA was not at all mentioned in the application to the MoEF”, a MASS statement said, adding, “This piece of information was only revealed when an RTI application was filed by MASS.”

MASS statement statement further said, “On September 16, 2011 the company got its approval under the CRZ notification, but with a long list of conditions attached. However, the forest permission (needed to convert lands for non-forest use) was granted. Yet, the company started its construction and went ahead without obtaining necessary clearances.” MASS wrote a letter dated November 1, 2011 to the Union environment minister, forest department, police department officials highlighting this violation and urging immediate action. Yet, it fell on deaf ears, till the latest notice to OPG on February 6, 2012.

No to War on Iran ! Don’t make Delhi Blasts an Excuse !


 

NO TO WAR ON IRAN !
DON’T MAKE DELHI BLASTS AN EXCUSE !!

The USIsrael machinations in the Middle-East are taking a dangerous turn. The hypocrisy of calling American and Israeli nuclear weapons “responsible” and arm-twisting on Iran’s unproven nuclear capabilities is self-evident. SInce that has not become a convincing case for attacking Iran, now efforts are afoot to brand Iran as a terrorist country and resort to same pre-emptive destruction that we have seen in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya. After the recent unfortunate blast in New Delhi, the Israeli establishment has immediately started incriminating Iran and beating war-drums without any investigation.

India has historically maintained good relations with Iran and can not afford to jeopardise our ties, which are also crucial for our oil supplies, for the imperialist agenda. The Indo-Iran strategic cooperation is also crucial to maintain regional peace & stability. The fact that India has refused to abide by the US-EU-Israeli sanctions on Iran & in fac,t India & Iran have recently agreed to trade in Rupee terms & under a barter system has undoubtedly worried & enraged the Western powers.

We demand:

1. An impartial and transparent investigation into the recent New Delhi blast.
2. Israel, the US and international media must refrain from incriminating Iran without such an investigation.
3. Israel has send its own investigation team to New Delhi immediately after blasts, which we entirely oppose. This investigation must be carried out strictly as per international norms, without violating India’s sovereignty and affecting India’s own investigation in any manner.
4. War-drums against Iran must stop. The current impasse should be resolved only through dialogue and peaceful negotiations.

Please sign the petition here

The need for global action


By Vinay Bhat

Time Magazine termed “The Protestor” as the person of the year in 2011. Protests in the middle-east overthrew tyrants; the Occupy Movement held the world’s attention spreading like wildfire and Europe was ablaze against austerity measures imposed. Clawing their way through, facing bullets, batons and pepper spray, the protestor influenced global change and made the world stand up to take notice. It wasn’t that the establishment wasn’t prepared for this level of an uproar, but had more to do with the fact that no amount of preparation can subdue the voices when they reach this decibel and in unison. As the Occupy movement has beautifully phrased this – “You can’t evict an idea whose time has come”. Yet there are millions of other voices which have not attained the chorus to cause the fundamental changes they would like to see.

While back home in IndiaAdivasis, Dalits, Kashmiris, farmers, fishermen and slum dwellers continue to fall under the State sponsored bullet, the level of public attention continues to be marginal and the middle class gladly turns a blind eye. While Team Anna managed to become the 24×7 reality show that was soon cut off due to other TRP priorities, protests for survival continue to be ignored.

Children lying on the hot grounds of Jagatsinghpur in the middle of summer were ignored, and the State continues to push the undemocratic POSCO integrated steel plant to completion. Dalits protesting against the heinous casteist act of Made Snana in Karnataka were ignored and caste violence continues to escalate with complete apathy from our liberal champions. Muslims protesting in Forbesganj,Bihar against a road that blocked their access were shot down. Hundreds of people march across states from Kashmir to Delhi against the archaic AFSPSA, and the State doesn’t so much as engage a few words with those who marched such large distances. Perhaps the most glaring case of State benevolence in India is where Soni Sori a tribal teacher is sexually violated, while the perpetrator SP Ankit Garg is honored with a Gallantry award.

Red full article here

Now, ‘Flashread’ to rescue freedom of speech


//
Mail Today, New Delhi
From Ramanujan‘s essay to Hussain’s paintings, Rushdie’s writings to Facebook musings, the issue of cultural censorship seems to be spreading like a disease in this country. But before it goes viral, activists have decided to step up efforts to retain India‘s democratic fabric.

Salman Rushdie
Salman Rushdie‘s ‘The Satanic Verses‘ is banned for alleged blasphemy against Islam.

In one such attempt that bears a resemblance to the “flashmob”, where a group of people shake their legs in a choreographed move, free speech advocates have now joined hands to raise their voice against increasing intolerance in the country.

Termed “flashread”, groups in cities across the country met in public places and read out from works by controversial authors on Valentine’s Day, which has itself become a flashpoint of cultural censorship.

“What we have to do is keep embarrassing the state so that we can ask them; do we want India to turn into some of those countries where authors are jailed?” Salil Tripathi, an author, asked. “The state needs to be reminded that it has to protect the vulnerable. And who is the vulnerable here – the painter who paints what he wants to… the author who has something to say!”

A.K. Ramanujan
A.K. Ramanujan‘s essay on Ramayan was banned by the Delhi University.

At Delhi’s Lodi Gardens, a group of about 15 people gathered and began reading out extracts from the works of A.K. Ramanujan , Rohinton Mistry, Jeet Thayil as well as Salman Rushdie , whose intended appearance at the Jaipur Literature Festival created quite a storm.

“What we’re doing is showing them that there’s a civil way to make ourselves heard,” Mohit, a financial services consultant who read at the gathering, said. “We can easily form a mob and try to go after the ones who want to silence us. But the point is we have to behave in way you can appreciate. We have got to show that there’s a better way than just being loud.”

The movement was organised by Nilanjana Roy, a literary critic, editor and writer who is also heading an effort to lift the ban on Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses.

Roy put the idea down on her blog on February 10 and it quickly spread on social networking sites, inspiring similar events in Mumbai, Bangalore and other cities – with groups using Twitter to keep each other informed about the timing and location.

The movement also allowed for impromptu changes – with one group in the Capital deciding to carry out a “flashread” at Janpath after office-goers were unable to make it to Lodi Gardens.

After the group at Lodi Gardens failed to attract much attention, they decided to move into Khan Market where a spontaneous reading in front of a bookshop invited interests and questions from passersby.

“More and more people seem to be afraid to say what they want; afraid to express themselves, and that is obviously a problem,” Mohit said. “If you can’t speak, you can’t think. For us the role model is right here (in India)… As a state and a country we are in danger of forgetting that.”

Facebook vs govt: Why we should let judges take on free speech


 

Firstpost

Fear of censorship is probably the gut reaction of most right thinking people to the ongoing judicial case against 21 websites including Facebook, Google and Yahoo.

The Delhi High Court demanded progress in advance of a hearing, scheduled for today, 16 February, in the case brought by Vinay Rai alleging the sites promoted “enmity between classes and causing prejudice to national integration”.

We should be nervous about potential censorship in advance, however unfeasible technologically, of all content going on these sites. But we should also let the process play out in full.

Too often, particularly in the US, you hear talk of “judicial activism”, i.e. judges making decisions in particular cases that one party really doesn’t like. When California courts have upheld that banning gay marriage is unconstitutional, the right-wing and religious communities allege “activism”. What they’re really saying is a polite version of, “You’ve overstepped the law”. And those in the US fighting the influence of money in politics, alleged activism in the Citizens United case that opened the flood gates.

The attacks on websites for the content created by “the masses” is a precedent that makes India look more like China. The only difference is the Indian approach might be completely reinforced by the courts. AP

It goes both ways.

Some countries have a penchant for arresting judges as a pretty effective way of preventing them investigating politicians. That should only be necessary if they are themselves corrupt, and should only be removable by other judges.

If you have an effective judicial system — both, attached yet independent, within an effective constitution — then more times than not, they are quite good at ruling on cases within the context of laws as they exist. And if they make mistakes, that’s what appeals are for.

The attacks on websites for the content created by “the masses” is a precedent that makes India look more like China. The only difference is the Indian approach might be completely reinforced by the courts.

Requests for Delhi Police and the Centre to join the case seems to be broadening out the case beyond its initial scope, and that could be drifting into “activist” territory. The counsel for both may argue the issue concerned millions in a “great country” like India.

But as the counsel for Facebook pointed out: “We have not seen a case where Centre has come rushing to the court to raise submissions in a private complaint case like this. We object to this.”

The Supreme Court will have to eventually decide the balance of protecting the abstract “national integration” and “enmity between the classes” and the potential limitations on freedoms of expression, the right to equality and others.

Individual freedoms are embodied and represented in most online media now.

Expression comes out through Facebook or Youtube or blog postings. Protests online allow individuals to assert their religious views and fight against exploitation. All rights are inter-related. You can’t assert your freedom of religion without the freedom to speak. Restricting the content of websites could, in fact, prevent national integration because everyone would be prevented from freely expressing opposing views, whereby you achieve dialogue and build up peaceful civil society. Everything has to be balanced.

Judges must test the laws for their capacity to balance, and their interpretations must be tested in turn. We have to let judges challenge free speech’s protections, to ensure they are effective.

It is obvious from the High Court so far that there is a certain presumption of guilt being applied to the websites. They are being blamed, as hosts and facilitators, of all the views and opinions considered contrary to either Vinay Rai, or the courts, or politicians, or “integration”. We must let this play out and hope that a higher court – a more wise court – will show the judicial activism necessary to balance the rights of the constitution that apply to all Indian citizens.

If, however, unrestricted censorship of the digital world is re-enforced by the Supreme Court, then it will fall to those very citizens to demand their government redress the balance in favour of those original free rights. Courts can, generally, only judge based on the laws on the books. We may yet need to change the books.

 

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