Sudan using protests ‘to silence dissenters’, same as India


Rights group report urges Sudan to end the violent crackdown on anti-government protesters and journalists.

Last Modified: 27 Jun 2012 10:09

 

Omar al-Bashir, Sudan’s president, has said the protests against high prices is the work of “a few agitators” [AFP]

Security forces have arrested scores of protesters, opposition members, and journalists, beat people in detention, and used rubber bullets and live ammunition to break up protests that began on June 16, Human Rights Watch said in a report released on Tuesday.

Sudan should end the crackdown on peaceful protesters, release people who have been detained, and allow journalists to report freely on the events, the report added.

“Sudan is using these protests as an excuse to use violence and intimidation to silence dissenters,” said Daniel Bekele, Africa director at Human Rights Watch.

“Authorities should call off their security forces and vigilantes, end the violence immediately, and respect the right of the people to protest peacefully.”

“Arresting all suspected opponents to stifle dissent is abusive and illegal,” Bekele said.

“Authorities need to charge or release these detainees immediately, allow people to voice their opinions peacefully, and let the media work freely.”

The protests began on June 16 at Khartoum University in response to government austerity measures and price increases, and they had spread to dozens of other locations in Khartoum, and other towns across Sudan, with protesters calling for the end of the current government.

US condemnations

Meanwhile, the US have condemned the crackdown on Sudan protests,”Sudan’s economic crisis cannot be solved by arresting and mistreating protesters,” said State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland.

“There have been reports of protestors being beaten, imprisoned and severely mistreated while in government custody.

We call for the immediate release of those detained for peaceful protest,” she added in a statement.

The National Security and Intelligence Services (NISS) on Tuesday deported Salma El Wardany, an Egyptian female correspondent of Bloomberg News in Khartoum, and briefly detained prominent Sudanese blogger Maha El Sanousi.

“They ordered me to leave,”  Salma El Wardany, an Egyptian, told AFP by telephone as she awaited a flight from the Khartoum airport.

Sudan has lost billions of dollars in oil receipts since South Sudan gained independence last July, taking with it about 75 per cent of Sudanese crude production. The north has been left struggling for revenue, plagued by inflation, and with a severe shortage of dollars to pay for imports.

The landlocked South depended on the north’s pipeline and port to export its crude, but Khartoum and Juba could not agree on how much South Sudan should pay to use the infrastructure.

Sudan’s already depleted oil revenues shrank by a further 20 per cent after its main Heglig oil field was damaged and shut down in fighting with invading South Sudanese troops in April, international economists have estimated.

Even before the easing of fuel subsidies, the cost of basic consumer goods had doubled over the past year.

Bashir, an army officer who seized power in 1989, called the protests small and not comparable to the “Arab Spring” uprisings against regional strongmen over the past year.

He blamed anti-government protests on the work of “a few agitators” in a speech late Sunday.

But a demonstrator told AFP the current unrest is unprecedented. “Right now, this is first time since 1989 we have these protests in most cities,” he said, asking not to be identified by name.

There have been calls on social networks for a mass nationwide protest on June 29.

 

India- Experiments with Aadhaar #UID #Nandan Nilekani


    Bharat Bhatti

Jean Drèze

    Reetika Khera

The Hindu

Technical glitches in the unique identification method make it unreliable in disbursing wages under the employment guarantee scheme

Within a few weeks of “Aadhaar-enabled” payments of Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme wages being initiated in Jharkhand, earlier this year, glowing accounts of this experiment started appearing in the national media. Some of them also gave the impression, intentionally or otherwise, that this successful experiment covered most of Jharkhand. A fairly typical excerpt, which condenses five grand claims in a few lines, is as follows: “As the new system ensures payment of wages within a week, the demand for work under MGNREGS has gone up. Consequently, migration has been checked, families have been reunited and, no less important, some workers have a saving in the bank.”

Enthused by these upbeat reports, we tried to trace the evidence behind them, but quickly reached a dead end. The authorities in Ranchi referred us to the website of the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), but we did not find any evaluation of the experiment there or, for that matter, any details of it. There was no alternative, it seemed, than to check the facts for ourselves.

Ratu Block

We headed for the Ratu Block in Ranchi District, the source of most of the reports. It was, at that time (early March), one of the five Blocks where the experiment had been launched. On arrival, we found that only three gram panchayats (GPs) were involved, out of 14 in Ratu Block. The showpiece appeared to be Tigra GP, but it turned out that even there, only one worksite had enjoyed the blessings of Aadhaar-enabled wage payments. In the three GPs together, the system had been implemented at five worksites, employing a total of about 50 workers. We managed to interview 42 of them with the help of a small team of student volunteers.

The main role of Aadhaar in the Jharkhand experiment is to facilitate the implementation of the “business correspondent” (BC) model. Under this model, accredited agents provide doorstep banking services to MGNREGS workers using a micro-ATM. They act as extension counters of the local bank (in this case, Bank of India), disbursing wages close to people’s homes. Biometric authentication is meant to prevent identity fraud, e.g. someone’s wages being withdrawn by someone else. Aadhaar is one possible foundation of biometric identification, though not the only one. In this approach, wages are paid through Aadhaar-enabled accounts that are supposed to be opened at the time of UID enrolment. Authentication requires internet connectivity, so that workers’ fingerprints and Aadhaar numbers can be matched with the UIDAI’s Central Identities Data Repository.

The BC model widens the reach of the banking system in rural areas. This, in turn, helps to bring more MGNREGS workers under the umbrella of the banking system, as opposed to post offices, where corruption (including identify fraud) is a serious problem. Doorstep banking facilities are also a significant convenience for workers in areas where bank offices are distant, overcrowded, or unfriendly.

A little farcical

Coming back to Ratu, some aspects of the experiment were a little farcical. For instance, on one occasion, workers from Tigra were asked to collect their wages 10 kilometres away, so that Aadhaar-enabled payments could be done in front of a visiting Minister. On a more positive note, the system seemed to work, at least under close supervision. Further, most of the workers had a positive view of it. They appreciated being able to collect their wages closer to their homes, without the hassles of queuing in overcrowded banks or of depending on corrupt middlemen to extract their wages from the post office. They did not fully understand the new technology, but nor were they afraid or suspicious of it.

Having said this, there were problems too. Dependence on fingerprint recognition, internet connectivity, and the goodwill of the BC created new vulnerabilities. Fingerprint recognition problems alone affected 12 out of 42 respondents. Some workers did not have a UID number, and some had a UID number but no Aadhaar-enabled account. None of them had received bank passbooks, making it difficult for them to withdraw their wages from the bank when the Aadhaar system failed.

Four respondents were yet to find a way of getting hold of their wages. Otherwise, the payment of wages was reasonably timely, but this had more to do with intensive supervision than with Aadhaar. It is important to understand that Aadhaar, on its own, is of limited help in reducing delays in MGNREGS wage payments. This is because the bulk of the delays occur before the banking system is involved — at the stage of submission of muster rolls, work measurement, preparation of payment advice, and so on. At every step, there is a lot of foot-dragging, and Aadhaar is not the answer.

(According to the MGNREGA Commissioner in Jharkhand, quoted in one of the articles mentioned earlier, “Against one month now, payments will reach workers’ accounts in one week.” This statement is typical of the delusional mindset of the Jharkhand administration. Not only are current delays much longer than one month, the claim that Aadhaar will reduce them to one week has no basis.)

Nightmare

What next? It is easy to envisage a certain way of extending this experiment that would turn it into a nightmare for MGNREGS workers. Three steps would be a potent recipe for chaos: depriving MGNREGS workers of bank passbooks, imposing the system even where there is no internet connectivity, and insisting on a single bank operating in each Block (the odd “one Block, one bank” rule). All this may seem far-fetched, but there are precedents of this sort of irresponsibility. Short of this, if the Aadhaar-based BC model is hastily extended without the system being ready (as happened earlier with the transition from cash to bank and post-office payments of MGNREGS wages), it could easily compound rather than alleviate other sources of delays in wage payments.

It is also possible to see a more constructive roll-out of the BC model across the country. In this constructive approach, the BC model would act as an additional facility for MGNREGS workers, supplementing ordinary bank procedures instead of becoming a compulsory alternative. This would enable labourers to bypass the BC in cases of fingerprint recognition problems, or when the BC is corrupt or unreliable. For this purpose, the first step is to issue bank passbooks to MGNREGS workers — this had not been done in Ratu.

The question remains whether Aadhaar adds value to other versions of the BC model. In the adjacent Block of Itki, the BC model is being implemented without Aadhaar, in partnership with FINO, a private company. Workers’ fingerprints are stored on a smart card, used for authentication and tamper-proof record-keeping. This obviates the need for internet connectivity, an important advantage of the Itki system in areas like rural Jharkhand.

Aadhaar, for its part, has two potential advantages. First, it facilitates multiple biometric applications based on single UID enrolment. Second, Aadhaar facilitates “inter-operability”, that is, linking of different UID-enabled databases. But the same features also have costs. For instance, dependence on a centralised enrolment system (as opposed to local biometrics) makes it much harder to correct or update the database, or to include workers who missed the initial enrolment drive. Similarly, inter-operability raises a host of privacy and civil liberties issues. A brief exploratory visit to Itki did not uncover any obvious reason to prefer the Aadhaar system to local biometrics.

Poor cousin

It is also worth noting that the Jharkhand experiment is a very poor cousin of much earlier and larger efforts to implement the BC model in Andhra Pradesh. Unlike UIDAI, the government of Andhra Pradesh has conducted serious experiments with the BC model and learnt from them. Biometric micro-ATMs are now being installed at local post offices, an important idea for the whole country: micro-ATMs could give post offices a new lease of life as effective payment agencies.

In short, Aadhaar-enabled payments for MGNREGS workers raise many issues that are yet to be properly examined and debated. The Ratu project, for one, looked more like a public relations exercise than a serious experiment. Incidentally, we learnt in June 2012 that Aadhaar-enabled wage payments had been discontinued in Tigra, due to resilient fingerprint recognition problems. That, of course, was not reported in the national media.

Last but not the least, it is not clear why MGNREGS should be used as a testing ground for UID applications when other, more useful options are available. For instance, UID could be used quite easily to monitor office attendance of government employees.

The social benefits are likely to be large, and this is a more natural setting for early UID applications than the jungles of Jharkhand. Any takers?

Proposal to ban SEZ on tribal land, farms


English: U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodha...

English: U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton at the ITC Green Centre in Gurgaon, outside of New Delhi. The ITC Green Centre is the world’s largest “Platinum Rated” green office building. Department photo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

BASANT KUMAR MOHANTY, Telegraph

New Delhi, June 26: A ban has been proposed on the setting up of special economic zones (SEZ) on land in tribal areas and agricultural land.

A meeting today between rural development minister Jairam Ramesh and unofficial members of the National Council of Land Reforms (NCLR) also suggested that homeless rural people should be given homestead land.

These issues will be on the agenda at a full meeting of the NCLR headed by the Prime Minister. The council members include five cabinet ministers, chief ministers of 10 states, including Bengal, and a few unofficial members who are experts on land reforms.

The council, set up in January 2008, has never met in four years. It is supposed to lay down guidelines on land reforms based on the recommendations of the committee on state agrarian relations and unfinished task of land reforms, headed by Ramesh

The committee has studied inequality in availability of land and its impact on the economic condition of people. It submitted its report in September 2009.

The NCLR and the committee were set up after the Ekata Parishad, an organisation working for land reforms, organised a march by landless people in January 2008.

P.V. Rajagopal, the parishad president and an NCLR member, claimed the Centre was not giving desired importance to land reforms.

“The unofficial members of the NCLR had a meeting with the rural development minister today. But it is unclear when the full NCLR meeting will be held. The government is dragging its feet on the issue of land reforms because corporate houses are demanding land,” he claimed.

The meeting finalised a few issues for discussion at the full council meeting, including a proposal to ban SEZs in scheduled areas and areas predominantly inhabited by tribal people, and restriction on transfer of common property and agricultural land in other areas for such zones.

Massive transfers of agricultural and forest land for industrial, mining or infrastructure projects have led to rural unrest and distress migration.

According to the report of the committee on state agrarian relations, about 7,50,000 acres have been transferred for mining and 2,50,000 acres for industrial purposes in the last two decades.

SEZs have mostly focused on prime agricultural land, causing misery to poor peasants, the report said. Large chunks of land have been degraded because of industrial waste and effluents. Unplanned urbanisation has frequently resulted in illegal grabbing of significant chunks of agricultural and common land.

“We have discussed the major issues on land reforms. I have asked the unofficial members to give their feedback by Sunday. Once I get their comments, they would be submitted to the Prime Minister for further discussion in the NCLR meeting,” Ramesh said.

How Monsanto Is Sabotaging Efforts to Label Genetically Modified Food


Inter Press Service / By Charlotte Silver

Lobbyists from the biotech industry are ardently opposing GMO labeling.
June 26, 2012  |

Photo Credit: illuminating9_11

As the 2012 Farm Bill continues to take shape in the halls of the United States Congress, the immense influence of corporate interests is on display.

On June 21 the United States Senate voted overwhelmingly against the Sanders Amendment that would have allowed states to pass legislation that required food and beverage products to label whether or not they contain genetically engineered ingredients.

The amendment, proposed by Independent Senator from Vermont, Bernie Sanders, is particularly relevant as many states prepare to vote on a ballot initiatives that would require such labelling of genetically modified (GM) foods.

Lobbyists from the biotech industry have ardently opposed GMO labelling. These opponents argue that because food labelling has historically been handled by the Food and Drug Association (FDA), it is a federal issue and, therefore, individual states do not have the right to implement such legislation. Indeed, in the case of Vermont, Sanders’ home state, Monsanto successfully intimidated the state legislature from voting on a bill that would have required GMO labelling.

Patty Lovera, the assistant director of Food and Water Watch, explained that states planning to vote on GM labelling in November could face a legal fight to defend their right to enact such laws.

“However, this amendment would have taken this threat away,” Lovera told IPS.

In a move heralded by food advocates, Sanders introduced amendment 2310 on June 14 this year, after his own state legislature backed out of voting on the popular bill, H.722, also known as the Vermont Right to Know Genetically Engineered Food Act.

Vermont lawmakers allowed the bill to stall – and ultimately die – in the Vermont House Agriculture Committee in April, after a representative from biotech giant, Monsanto, threatened to sue the state if the bill passed.
Significantly, the Senate vote, 73-26, did not fall along partisan lines, with 28 Democrats voting against the Sanders Amendment.

Lovera emphasised that the powerful biotech lobby informs how politicians vote. “This doesn’t happen overnight, this is a result of years and years of lobbying and pressure from the biotech industry,” she said.

In a report published in November 2010, Food and Water Watch revealed that the largest food and agricultural biotechnology firms and trade associations spent a total of 572 million dollars on campaign contributions and lobbying over the course of ten years.

Importance of Labelling

The Senate vote comes amidst near global agreement that there is a need for GMO labelling.

Codex Alimentarius, the food safety arm of the United Nations, concluded last year after nearly 18 years of debate, that countries were free to label goods as containing genetically engineered ingredients and that labelling of genetically-modified organisms would indeed help inform consumers’ choices.

“GMO labels are a risk management measure to deal with any scientific uncertainty,” said Dr. Michael Hansen, a senior scientist with the Consumers Union, who has been a long-time advocate for mandatory testing and labelling of genetically engineered (GE) foods.

“Labelling is the only way to track unintended effects,” Hansen said. “How can you know what you are allergic to if you do not know you are eating GMO’s?”

In fact, the U.S. Food and Drug Association’s hands-off approach to regulating genetically engineered foodstuffs runs contrary to international standards. Currently the U.S. is the only developed country that does not require safety testing for GE plants. However, the Codex Alimentarius instructs countries to conduct safety assessments of all GE plants.
According to testimony written by Dr. Hansen, “This means the U.S. cannot meet the global standards for safety assessment of GE foods. Consequently, countries that require food safety assessments for GE foods could block shipment of such GE foods from the U.S.”

Recent polls conducted by MSNBC and Thompson Reuters found that between 93 and 96 percent of the American public believe genetically engineered foods should be labeled as such.

California’s GMO labelling initiative collected close to one million signatures, doubling over the requisite 500,000 signatures to secure a place on the November ballot, and the FDA received over 850,000 letters in support of labelling GE food.

Voting as they did, the U.S. Senate did not in any way reflect the desires of their constituents or reflect the guidance of food experts.

Visit IPS news for fresh perspectives on development and globalization

SC student body wants toppers to be put on merit list


TNN

GUWAHATI: The All Assam Scheduled Caste Students’ Union (AASCSU) on Sunday said some of the toppers from the schedule caste (SC) community were put in the reserved category instead of the merit category by college authorities.

The students’ body said the college authorities during the admission process placed the SC merit students on the quota list instead of the merit list, which according to the body deprives other students from the community.

At a meeting held in Cotton College, the students’ body put forward issues affecting the community as a whole. According to them, the state government hasn’t been able to address their problems in a pragmatic manner. The body discussed various problems faced by SC students at their respective schools and colleges such as discrepancies in cut-off marks, pre and posts matric scholarships, admission in medical and engineering colleges. The also spoke about formation of a strong city committee.

“College authorities are putting the toppers from our community in the quota category deliberately instead of the merit list. This proves detrimental for other students from the community as there are limited seats within the quota. The government says it will be beneficial for us, but we think it isn’t the case,” said Praveen Baishya, AASCSU president.

He added that at a meeting with authorities concerned regarding the placement of SC toppers in the quota list, a circular was issued to the colleges and technical institutions to follow the decorum.

“We are focusing on a strong city committee to meet the interests of SC students. The Constitution has rights preserved for us. The state government is not serious about the Atrocities Act and one minister even said there have been no instances of atrocities on the SC communities. Funds meant for SC areas don’t reach the people and are even diverted,” said Baishya.

Govt proposes to amend two laws on land purchase and transfer


June 26, agencies

With the aim of tackling illegal transactions and evasion of taxes, the government today said it proposes to amend two laws related to land purchase and transfer.

The proposal to bring amendments to the Benami Transactions (Prohibitions of the Right to Recover Property) Act, 1989 and SEZ Act, 2005 was made at a preparatory meeting of National Council for Land Reforms (NLRC).

Chairing the meeting, Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh told the non-official members of NLRC that suggestions on the steps taken by the government to bring reforms and related land management issues should be provided in a week’s time.

He said that the government proposes to bring amendments to the Benami Transactions (Prohibitions of the Right to Recover Property) Act to monitor evasion of ceiling laws through fraudulent land transaction.

Ramesh, who also holds the Department of Land Resources portfolio, said the Centre also proposes to amend the SEZ Act to put a ban on exemptions on diversion of land in Scheduled Areas and also on transfers of common property and and agricultural land for SEZ purposes.

The Rural Development Ministry had decided to hold the meeting of the non-official members of NLRC after they attacked the government of failing to convene a single meeting of the Council over the last four-and-a-half years. NLRC was constituted in February 2008 and is led by the Prime Minister.

The Minister also informed the non-official members of the Council that the Centre is planning to conduct surveys for a better understanding of the status of ‘bhoodan’ land, common property resources in villages and settlement operations in tribal sub-plan areas.

The Prime Minister asked me to meet the non-official members. I met them. Now the PM will fix a time,” the Minister said when asked about the timing of the full Council’s meeting.

P V Rajagopal of Ekta Parishad, who is a member of NLRC, said suggestions on the government’s proposals would be submitted on Saturday.

India is under undeclared Emergency


 

The Silent and Telling Emergency in India



S. P. Udayakumar, Idinthakarai, June 26, 2012

Today is the 37th anniversary of the infamous emergency that Prime Minister Indira Gandhi imposed on the people of India. While some people were quite happy that the bureaucrats came to offices on time, shopkeepers kept price lists outside their shops, trains were punctual and so forth, many people were worried and concerned about the curtailment of our freedoms and entitlements. As a 15-year-old boy, I was worried about my father’s safety (as he was active in the DMK party), the complete absence of freedom of speech, freedom of press, freedom of assembly, and most importantly, freedom from fear. People were afraid to speak their minds out, the newspapers were full of blank spaces because of censorship, and the society was enveloped by a thin layer of fear and suspicion. That was not the India I had grown up to love and cherish. Never did I imagine even in my wildest nightmares that I would find myself in a similar but silent emergency after some 37 years of liberty and freedom.

Today is the 100th day of my and Pushparayan’s self-exile here at Idinthakarai. On March 18, 2012 at 4:45 PM the Personal Assistant (General) of the Tirunelveli Collector called me and asked me and Fr. F. Jayakumar, the Parish Priest of Idinthakarai, to go and meet the Collector in his office the next morning at 10 am. The Collector, Dr. R. Selvaraj, himself called me later that night and the next day morning asking us to go and meet him. A warning bell rang in my mind and I told my friends that we were all going to be arrested. My intuition proved to be right; some 200 of our friends from Koodankulam, Koottapuli, Chettikulam and Erode were arrested. Rayan and I and 13 others embarked on an indefinite hunger strike demanding our friends’ immediate and unconditional release.

The Superintendent of Police, Mr. Vijayendra Bidari, called me on my mobile on March 19th evening and asked me to surrender. With him still on the phone, I asked the thousands of people who had gathered there for their permission to surrender and they all shouted down the idea. I asked the SP to send enough vehicles and two officers with the arrest warrants so that we all would get arrested en masse. He did not like that idea and hung up by saying, This is the last time I speak to you. We used to speak to each other quite often as I got his oral permission for all our rallies, campaigns and public meetings.

Ever since March 18th, Rayan and I never left this small coastal village (except two short visits to the nearby Kuthenkuzhi village by sea). Thousands of people including women and children from all the neighboring villages were keeping a constant round-the-clock vigil to protect us from police action. The Tamil Nadu government imposed 144 prohibitory orders in our area and blocked our access to food, water, electricity and other essentials such as baby food, vegetables and fruits. Young mothers were forced to feed their babies sugar water; pregnant women could not go to hospital; and men could not leave or enter the village. We were surrounded by a massive deployment of police personnel from all over Tamil Nadu and paramilitary forces. We rightly called the situation another Mullivaikal. Indeed, it was!

Pushparayan, Jesuraj and I are not afraid of police arrest or incarceration; we just do not want the struggle to be folded up by the Tamil Nadu police, the Government of India and its intelligence agencies. This is the reason why we have decided not to venture out of Idinthakarai. This self-exile has not been easy or smooth-going. But the singular achievement of our self-exile is keeping the struggle alive and active with several hunger strikes, public meetings, campaigns, planning meetings and other assorted activities.

So far, more than 300 false cases have been filed against us, the leaders of the People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy (PMANE), and the struggling people of southern Tamil Nadu. Up until December 31, 2011 some 170 FIRs were filed against us. A friend tabulated these cases and had this to say: Just between September and December 2011, FIRs (First Investigation Report) have been filed against 55,795 people and an undisclosed number of “others.” At least 21 sections of the IPC (Indian Penal Code) have been used, include Section 121 (Waging War against the Government of India) against 3600 people, and Section 124A (Sedition) against 3200 people. The Koodankulam police station has the dubious distinction, perhaps, of being the station where the largest number of “sedition” and “waging war” cases has been filed in the shortest time in the history of colonial and independent India. Here is a partial list of cases that were filed against us just in October and November of 2011:

Cr. No. 299/11 D.O. 13.10.11

Sec. 121, 143, 188, 153(A), 341, 506(1), 505(1)(b) & 7(1)(a) CLA Act R/W 120(b)

S P. Udayakumar and 19 others (including 4 women)

Cr. No. 301/11 D.O. 14.10.1

Sec. 143, 147, 188 R/W 34

S. P. Udayakumar and 13 others (including one woman) as well as 2,000 people

Cr. No. 303/11 D.O. 14.10.11

Sec. 147, 148, 341, 294(b), 353, 506(ii) IPC R/W 34.

S. P. Udayakumar and 13 others (including one woman) as well as 1,000 people

Cr. No. 304/11 D.O. 14.10.11

Sec. 147, 148, 452, 121, 506(I) IPC R/W 34 IPC

S. P. Udayakaumr and 2 others as well as 15 supporters

Cr. No. 305/11 D.O. 14.10.11

Sec. 147, 148, 452, 121, 506(I) IPC R/W 34 IPC

S. P. Udayakumar and two others as well as many people

Cr. No. 306/11 D.O. 14.10.11

Sec. 147, 148, 452, 121, 506(I) IPC R/W 34 IPC

Allwyn and four others as well as many people
Cr. No. 307/11 D.O. 14.10.11

Sec. 147, 148, 452, 121, 506(II) IPC R/W 34 IPC

S. P. Udayakumar and three others as well as many
Cr. No. 315/11 D.O. 15.10.11

Sec. 109, 121, 124 (A), 125, 143, 153(A), 341, 353, 505(1)(b), 506(i) IPC & Sec 3 of

PDDL Act & 7(1)(a) CLA Act. R/W 120 IPC

S. P. Udayakumar and 16 others (including 6 priests, 2 doctors, 2 women)

Cr. No. 316/11 D.O. 16.10.11

Sec. 147, 188, 353, 341 R/W 34 IPC.

S. P. Udayakumar and 13 others
Cr. No. 372/11 D.O. 21.11.11

Sec. 121, 124A, 143, 153(A), 447, 505(1)(b) & 7(1)(a) CLA Act, 120(B).

S. P. Udayakumar and 14 others as well as 3,000 people
Cr. No. 373/11 D.O. 21.11.11

Sec. 143, 188, 147, 124(A), 153(A)

S. P. Udayakumar and 19 others as well as 450 people
As you can see, some of the above cases carry the charges of sedition and waging war against the Indian State. But what is interesting is the fact that the Prime Minister of India, the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, the Tirunelveli District Collector, the Tirunelveli Superintendent of Police (SP) and many other officials have been meeting with us on a regular basis as the diary below establishes. The question here is if we are guilty of sedition and of waging war against the Indian State and so forth, don’t these officials become co-conspirators in our crimes and stand accused of abetting us, the dangerous criminals? Shouldn’t the same charges be brought against them also?

September 15, 2011

Tamil Nadu Ministers Mr. Chellapandian, Mr. Chenthur Pandian, Mr. Shanmuganathan, Mr. Nainar Nagendran, MLA, and Mr. Rajendran, MLA came along with the District Collector, Deputy Inspector General (DIG), Superintendent of Police (SP), Revenue Divisional Officer (RDO) and a few other officials to Radhapuram to meet with the Struggle Committee members.

September 21, 2011

The Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu met with us in her office and passed a cabinet resolution the next day asking the central government to halt all the work until the fears and concerns of the local people were allayed. The Catholic Bishops of Kottar and Thoothukudi and the CSI Bishops of Tirunelvei and Thoothukudi and several other prominent citizens were with us. The CM talked to us for some 45 minutes.

October 7, 2011

A large delegation of the Struggle Committee members, the Catholic Bishops of Kottar and Thoothukudi and the CSI Bishops of Tirunelvei and Thoothukudi, Tamil Nadu politicians, MPs and Tamil Nadu ministers met with the Prime Minister of India under the leadership of Tamil Nadu Finance Minister, Mr. O. Panneerselvam. Minister of State Mr. V. Narayanaswamy, Dr. Sreekumar Banerjee, the head of the Department of Atomic Energy, Dr. S. K. Jain, the head of the NPCIL, Mr. Shivsankar Menon, National Security Advisor, were also with us during the meeting.

October 10, 2011

Some of the Struggle Committee members had talks with the RDO and Additional Deputy SP (ADSP) from 12:30 to 3:00 PM; we insisted on their honoring the Tamil Nadu Cabinet resolution and stopping work at the Koodankulam Nuclear Power Project (KKNPP).

October 20, 2011

Some of the Struggle Committee members met with Kerala Minister Mr. P. J. Joseph, Chief Minister Mr. Oomen Chandi, and the opposition leader Mr. V.S. Achuthanandan in their homes and/or offices.

November 1, 2011

Some of the Struggle Committee members were at the Collector office talking to the Collector from 11:00 am to 2:30 pm.

November 7, 2011

Some members of the Struggle Committee spent several hours talking to the Collector in his office.

November 8, 2011

M. Pushparayan and Mi. Pa. Jesuraj met with the Central Government’s Expert Group and held talks at the Collector’s office; the Collector and the SP also participated in the meeting.
November 16, 2011

Some of the Struggle Committee members met the SP in his office at 3:00 pm; then we met with the District Revenue Officer (DRO) and the Collector’s Personal Assistance (General) at the Collector Office.

November 18, 2011

In the second meeting of the team, M. Pushparayan and Mi. Pa. Jesuraj met with the Central Government’s Expert Group and held talks at the Collector’s office; the Collector and the SP also participated in the meeting.

November 30, 2011

Some of the Struggle Committee members went to the Collector’s office and met with the PA(G) at 5:00 pm; waited for the Collector who came only at 6:30 pm. Complained to him about more people entering the KKNPP, Dinamalar’s criminal activities, and the Tamil Nadu government’s slapping severe cases on us. He promised to look into all these issues and to send the RDO and the Deputy SP (DSP) to the KKNPP premises.

December 13, 2011

S. Sivasubramanian, Mi. Pa. Jesuraj, Muhilan and S. P. Udayakumar went to see the Collector at 5 PM. We had a long discussion with the Collector, the Planning Officer, RDO, ASP, one other official, and the PA(G) about the inflow of workers and vehicles into the KKNPP.

December 15, 2011

In the third meeting of the team, M. Pushparayan and Mi. Pa. Jesuraj met with the Central Government’s Expert Group and held talks at the Collector’s office; the Collector and the SP also participated in the meeting.

January 3, 2012

Some Struggle Committee members met the PA(G) at 5:30 pm as the Collector wasn’t there in his office. We gave him a memo for the Chief Minister.
January 6, 2012

Met with the ASP, ADSP and Inspectors of Koodankulam and Radhapuram police stations and discussed the people’s siege issue at length. The officials agreed to go and check the presence of workers at the KKNPP tomorrow.
January 12, 2012

Mi. Pa. Jesuraj, Muhilan and S. P. Udayakumar gave a memorandum to the BSNL officer at Radhapuram and the Tahsildar of Radhapuram. Then some of the Struggle Committee members went to Cheranmahadevi to meet the Sub-Collector, Ms. Rohini Ramdas Bidari at her office.
January 20, 2012

S. Sivasubramanian, Mi. Pa. Jesuraj, Muhilan and S. P. Udayakumar went to Tirunelveli to meet the SP and handed over a complaint about the Dinamalar newspaper. Then met with the PA(G) of Collector about the same issue. Later met with the Collector in his office and discussed about the Jan 31st meeting.

 

January 31, 2012

The fourth meeting with the Central government’s Expert Group did not take place. As our car entered the compound and approached the main office, a small group of some 15 men (both Congress and Hindu Munnani thugs) came rushing towards our car and pelted stones and attacked the vehicle. We drove out of the Collector office compound and refused to participate in the talks. Talked to the press and left the scene. Police escort came and took us to the Muntradaippu police station; The SP also came and met us there. In the meantime, some 10,000 people had gathered in front of the KKNPP front gate. We rushed to Koodankulam and talked to the people for almost an hour and asked them to disperse peacefully. The DIG, SP, RDO and several hundred policemen were there at Koodankulam. Took some people to meet the DIG at the Koodankulam police station and had a dialogue with him. Took the injured women to Radhapuram govt. hospital for treatment and they were all admitted as in-patients.

February 18, 2012

People laid a siege in front of the KKNPP from 12 pm till 9 pm. The Tamil Nadu government’s expert panel visited the KKNPP site at around 5:30 pm. They were there for hardly an hour. We held talks with the DIG and the Collector at the Koodankulam police station with two demands: reducing the work force at KKNPP to 20 and the Tamil Nadu panel should come to our villages to meet with the people.

February 19, 2012

Some of the Struggle Committee members went to the Collectorate in the afternoon. We had a long meeting with the team, Dr. Iniyan, Dr. M.R. Sreenivasan, Mr. Vijayaraghavan and Dr. Arivu Oli. The Collector, SP, DRO, RDO and PA(G) were also there.

February 29, 2012

We met the AIADMK MP Mr. Manoj Pandian as we were waiting to meet with the Chief Minister and talked to him about the struggle. M. Pushparayan, S. Sivasubramanian, Dr. R. Ramesh and S. P. Udayakumar met with the CM. She stood up, smiled and received us. I gave her some of my books. I spoke for some 15 minutes which she listened to very carefully and attentively. When I paused, she said, Have you finished? Then Dr. Ramesh spoke for 5 minutes and gave some of his reports. She said, I’ll go through them carefully. We thanked her and left.
More than 300 cases including sedition and waging war against the State’ charges and life in self exile in a remote coastal village without any mobility, family, access to health care, and other essentials of life make me remember the Emergency and MISA (Maintenance of Internal Security Act) days. Yes, there is a silent emergency prevailing in India today.

The State that accuses us of waging war against it is indeed waging a war against its own people. Also we have to ask what is seditious today in India. The Manmohan Singh government has scores of ministers who are accused of serious corruption and fraudulence charges but it is the common people like us who struggle for the safety and betterment of our people stand accused of sedition.

The Manmohan Singh government, the most controversial government independent India has ever had, has tried all kinds of dirty tricks to put down our struggle and the movement. They have been accusing us of receiving foreign money, acting at the behest of foreign powers, conspiring with the Catholic Church, conniving with opposition parties and so on. They have damaged my school, destroyed the poor little children’s library books, vandalized the children’s water taps, intimidated the family members, and indulged in all kinds of inhuman, devious and criminal behavior. The Indian government and the Department of Atomic Energy have refused to give any information to the public and are speaking half-truths, non-truths and complete nonsense just to mislead the country and enhance their own self interests.

Having exhausted all options to end opposition to the Koodankulam Nuclear Power Plant, the Government of India now plans to take a peek into all our minds and remove any fears with the help of psychiatrists from the National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences (NIMHANS) in Bangalore. The government is getting sicker and sillier.

Besides the prevailing silent emergency,’ there is also a telling emergency in the country, viz. we are stuck with a government that works for foreign governments, foreign corporations, foreign interests, and cannot for a second accept the simple fact that ordinary Indians’ can think through policy issues, take a stand on them, and stand up for their rights. We have got an emergency situation indeed.

Note: S. P. Udayakumar is the Coordinator of People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy (PMANE) and the opinions expressed here are his own. For contact: spudayakumar@gmail.com  .

Phasing-out of Inefficient Lighting, Can Culminate in Major Economic And Climate Benefits


 

By Marianne de Nazareth

22 June, 2012
Countercurrents.org

Rio is not all negative, with positive national decisions being taken by countries, keeping the environment firmly in focus. Phasing out of inefficient lighting has been found to provide both major climatic benefits but also salient economic savings as well. In Rio ,countries have agreed to 2016 as the target date for transition to energy efficient bulbs. Plus looking at the various countries new policy status map and huge savings potentials have been assesed with these measures.

As high as a total of five percent of global electricity consumption could be saved every year ,through a transition to efficient lighting, resulting in annual worldwide savings of over US$ 110 billion, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and partners have said in a statement in Rio de Janeiro .

In some cases, the assessments show that the financial savings and climate change mitigation benefits achieved by phasing out incandescent lighting in developing and middle-income countries are much more significant than previous studies suggested.

The staggering yearly savings in electricity of the phase-out, has been found to be equivalent to closing over 250 large coal-fired power plants, resulting in avoided investment costs of approximately US$ 210 billion. Additionally, the 490 megatonnes (Mt) of CO2 savings per year is equivalent to the emissions of more than 122 million mid-size cars. A group of 14 pilot countries will seek to benefit from such opportunities as part of a Global Efficient Lighting Partnerships Programme, co-ordinated by UNEP and partners, that will get underway next month.

Interested countries can receive support to develop national phase-out plans for inefficient lamps from experts provided by the en.lighten initiative: a public-private partnership led by UNEP and the Global Environment Facility (GEF) in collaboration with Philips Lighting, Osram AG, and the National Lighting Test Centre of China.

Plus a new global policy map was launched, also produced by the en.lighten initiative, shows in detail the status of efficient lighting policies in countries around the world. The first resource of its kind in the lighting industry, the online map provides an overview of efficient lighting policies and successes, specifically in the residential sector. The information for each country covers standards, labels, supporting policies, product quality control activities and end-of-life policies, as well as a national ranking in terms of policy development. Ratings say en.lighten will be regularly updated according to a country’s progress in achieving a sustainable transition to efficient lighting.

“One of the most cost-effective ways to contribute to the reduction of global carbon emissions is the phase-out of inefficient lighting technologies,” said Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary-General and UNEP Executive Director.

“Increasing numbers of countries are now achieving major financial savings, generating green jobs, and seeing reductions in mercury, sulphur dioxide, and other pollutants from power stations, through a switch to efficient lighting. As the Rio+20 negotiations continue, these new findings from the en.lighten initiative demonstrate that ambitious policies and partnerships must be seized if the social, economic, and environmental benefits of a transition to a low-carbon, resource efficient green economy are to be realized.”

“The en.lighten initiative is a showcase for the benefits of public private partnership,” said Monique Barbut, CEO and Chairperson of the Global Environment Facility.

“Working together, we are accelerating the understanding of technology options, establishing quality and certification protocols, and promoting sound policies for countries to achieve their climate mitigation goals. We need more private sector leaders to follow the example of Philips and Osram and join the GEF in advancing technologies to protect the environment and foster sustainable development.”

Country lighting assessments, were released in Rio +20 which analyzed the benefits of shifting from inefficient light bulbs for consumers, the industrial, commercial and street lighting sectors. Products cover a wide range of technologies including innovative LEDs.The assessments were produced in conjunction with the International Energy Agency (IEA) and over 150 countries including Russia , India , China , and Brazil .

“The cleanest, most secure type of energy is the one that is not needed, which is why the IEA attaches so much importance to energy efficiency in our 28 member countries and beyond,” said Maria Van der Hoeven, Executive Director of the International Energy Agency (IEA)

“Lighting has a key role to play in improving energy efficiency, and continuing efforts to phase-out inefficient lighting products at a global level will enhance energy security and reduce global energy demand.”

The new assessments show that India could cut its lighting electricity consumption by over 35 percent, which is equivalent to avoiding the construction of 11 large coal-fired power plants and taking over 10 million cars off the road. The annual saving would be over US$2 billion. Due to the technological shift towards innovative LED technology, there is a great opportunity for countries to leapfrog to this advanced lighting solution in national markets.

Although LED lamps are currently expensive to buy for individual consumers, bulk procurement by governments, tax incentives and subsidies are making them a viable alternative. LEDs do not contain any mercury and last up to ten times longer than their CFL counterparts.

“Lighting accounts for around 20 percent of global electricity consumption. Therefore, energy efficient products are key to a sustainable and green future. Green is lean,” said Constantin Birnstiel, Chief Sustainability Officer, Osram AG. “As a long-term partner of the UN’s en.lighten initiative, OSRAM strongly supports the combat against climate change with energy-efficient lighting around the globe. Private partners can accelerate the success of global initiatives with their experiences and resources in individual countries.”

“Already many emerging and developing countries have committed to phase out inefficient lighting, thereby helping to create the first global industry sector transition to low-carbon innovative and sustainable solutions,” said Harry Verhaar, Head of Global Public & Government Affairs, Philips Lighting.

To date, almost 50 developing and emerging countries supported by en.lighten have committed to phasing out incandescent lamps by 2016. Work also begins next month in 14 new pilot countries to develop national plans towards phasing out incandescent lighting, as part of the UNEP en.lighten Global Efficient Lighting Partnerships Programme. The first national workshops will be held in July in Uruguay and Chile , followed by Belize , Costa Rica , Dominican Republic , El Salvador , Guatemala , Honduras , Nicaragua , Panama , Morocco , Jordan , Philippines and Tunisia .

2012 marks the United Nations International Year of Sustainable Energy for All, which aims to double the global rate of improvement in energy efficiency by 2030. For the lighting sector, this goal can be reached in just four years, if the target to phase out inefficient incandescent lamps worldwide by 2016 is met.

Key facts at a glace:

· Electricity for lighting accounts for almost 20 percent of electricity consumption and 6 percent of CO2 emissions worldwide. According to the IEA, approximately 3 percent of global oil demand can be attributed to lighting.

· The global demand for artificial light will be 60 percent higher by 2030 if no switch to efficient lighting occurs.

· Incandescent lamps have already been phased-out, or are scheduled to be phased-out in most OECD countries, Argentina , Brazil , China , Colombia , Mexico , Vietnam and other developing countries.

· If Brazil extends current legislation to include commercial, industrial and street lighting applications, the country could save close to US $ 4 billion and reduce carbon dioxide emissions equivalent to 400,000 cars being removed from the road.

· The complete transition to efficient lighting in all sectors throughout Africa could reduce electrical demand enough to electrify over 14 million presently un-serviced households.

· Up to 95 percent of the energy emitted by incandescent lamps is heat, and their efficiency is low. In comparison, incandescent bulbs last around 1,000 hours which is significantly shorter than compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) which can last up to 12,000 hours.

· Like all fluorescent lamps, CFLs contain small amounts of mercury, which complicates their disposal.

· Some countries, such as Nigeria and China , are leapfrogging directly to light emitting diodes (LEDs) from incandescent lamps. LEDs do not contain mercury and have other advantages such as long life and low heat generation.

(The writer is a UNEP and UNFCCC fellow)

 

Sinking Into Murky Water With Russia


Nuclear power plant symbol


By Raminder Kaur

26 June, 2012
Countercurrents.org

In January 2008 I was surfing on the internet when I came across a Wikipedia entry on the Koodankulam Nuclear Power Plant under construction with the Russian Atomsroyexport since 2002. It stated that the nuclear plant when complete will provide a base as well as one-off fuel to a nuclear-powered submarine, news that I circulated at the time. It was also noted that dredging for the Sethusamudram Shipping Canal Project between India and Sri Lanka would make the sea navigable for such large vessels:

There are negotiations to see if a naval base is to be added here for both safeguarding the project and as a presence in the southern tip of the country. [5] A mini port became operational in Koodankulam on January 14, 2004 . [6] The port has been established to receive barges carrying overdimensional equipments for light water reactors from ships anchored at a distance of 1½ km. This removes the necessity of land transportation that increases the possibility of damage. The Sethusamudram project will enhance the military and provide Nuclear Submarine base in the canal, with the nuclear fuel supplied by the Koodankulam Nuclear Project.

The entry is no longer there, presumably edited out in view of the intensified anti-nuclear struggle which has reached a zenith around the Koodankulam Nuclear Power Plant. (1) Moreover, the admission is a major howler on the part of the person who sent it to the worldwide encyclopaedia. In the aftermath of the Indo-US nuclear civilian agreement ratified in 2008, Koodankulam has been classified as a civilian operation subject to inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency. The fuel for India ‘s nuclear-powered submarine can no longer be legally taken from Koodankulam. But the Indira Gandhi Centre for Atomic Research at Kalpakkam on the other side of Tamil Nadu retains its military capacity and will now provide the life-long fuel required for the new Arihant submarine in the form of miniaturised pressurised water reactors. (2)

The Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) are playing a dangerous game of nuclear poker. Examples of state vacillation between civilian and military uses of the Koodankulam region are common. On the one hand, it wants to stress that the Koodankulam Nuclear Power Plant (KKNPP) is a civilian project tying it up with international agreements in the post-2008 scenario so that India appears as a respectable power that can responsibly deal with enhanced nuclear trade.

On the other, internally it wants to stress the defence angle, emphasising how essential power plants such as the KKNPP are to Indian security. Such rhetoric adds leverage to ill-conceived charges of ‘sedition’ and ‘war against the state’ filed against anyone who protests against their plans as has been done in outlandish numbers over the nuclear plant. (3) In fact, the DAE have misled court hearings on Public Interest Writ Petitions by stating that nuclear power stations are vital for national defence and they continue this logic in their campaigns to deter citizens in further querying or critiquing the nuclear plant project on any grounds to do with democratic rights and environmental impact. The former Indian Navy Captain, Dr Buddi Kota Subbarao, now an advocate of the Supreme Court of India describes these cases as fraud on the part of the DAE. (4) The use of DAE defence rhetoric for civilian nuclear power plants is not about defending the nation, but about defending themselves.

It has also come to light that the 1988 Inter-Governmental Agreement with Russia encloses an annexure which states that Russia will provide knowledge and services that relate to India ‘s development of a nuclear-powered submarine. This admission was noted in a website magazine on defence and security affairs, Tempur , in 2009.

The Inter-Governmental Agreement (IGA) that India and Russia Atomstroyexport signed on November 20, 1988 for the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project (KKNPP) officially involved the construction of two 1,000 MWe  Russian VVER-1000-type light water reactors (at a cost of US$3.5 billion) at Kudankulam in Tirunelveli district in Tamil Nadu State. However, a secret annexure of this contract also called for Moscow to offer its ‘consultancy’ and ‘vendor-development’ services, along with the supply of two KLT-40C reactor mock-ups (built by Afrikantov OKBM and designed to deliver 23.5 propeller mW from the 82.5mW reactor and using 20-45% enriched uranium-aluminium alloy, clad in zircaloy), their related heat exchangers and steam generators, plus their detailed engineering drawings off-the-shelf. (5)

The Indo-Russian deal was not just about the construction of a nuclear power plant but accompanied by dividends that bolstered Indian defence ‘know-how’ and ‘know-why’. Whilst this arrangement has only received public attention in recent years, it was in fact initiated before the Indo-US deal when Russia as a Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty signatory violated rules to stop the spread of nuclear weapons and technology . (6) Even though a part of the same deal, the nuclear submarine vessel has been removed from Koodankulam as a military asset for there is no legitimate reason for KKNPP to be developed as a naval base.

In January 2012, the Indian Navy leased a one billion dollar Russian-built vessel for ten years, renaming it INS Chakra II. By the end of this year, India is expected to have developed its own nuclear powered submarine, Arihant, boosted by the deal over the Koodankulam Nuclear Power plant and where Russia will help train the Indian crew. (7)

Russia supplies 70% of India ‘s military hardware – an impressive feat until one thinks about the number of Indian pilots that have died on Russian-supplied MIG aeroplanes. Dubbed ‘flying coffins’ and widow-makers’, the Indian Air force have lost over half of their nearly thousand combat planes in deadly crashes in the last four decades due mainly to technical issues, even though as the film, Rang de Basanti shows so colourfully, officials prefer to put the blame on the pilots. (8)

Similarly, the submarine supplied to the Indian army has also had its share of mishaps. In 2008 a fire extinguishing system was activated by mistake and Freon gas that removed oxygen from the air suffocated around 20 people and injured another 21. (9) Questions about the age of the vessel and the competence of the crew have been raised. Former submarine captain in the Russian Navy, Alexander Nikitin, said that the accident was a result of ‘corruption and disintegration of the military-industrial sector’ in Russia . (10) This was the worst submarine accident since the sinking of the Kursk submarine which left 118 dead in 2000 – a disaster that could in fact have been averted if the Russian government had acted quicker and agreed to international collaboration. A similar disregard surrounded the Chernobyl nuclear disaster of 1986 where, after days of denial, the then USSR authorities conceded that they had a national and global disaster on their hands.

The Indian and Russian nuclear authorities persistently say that technologies and safety checks have been updated with the latest in engineering with regards to the Koodankulam nuclear power plant. The DAE has even petitioned the Madras High Court with the statement that nuclear disasters at Koodankulam are ‘impossible’. (11) But this is a proclamation born out of sheer arrogance. Moreover, the brain drain of Russian scientists in the former USSR has turned into a flood as the country struggles to retain its scientific talents since the collapse of communism. (12) The scientific ingenuity that is left in contemporary Russia does not compare with earlier years when they launched Sputnik into space. A leaked report proves that Russian officials themselves admit that their nuclear reactors are not fit for purpose when it comes to disasters or human negligence. 31 serious flaws in Russian reactor designs have been catalogued. (13)

India has had a love affair with Russia ever since the colonial era. Inspired by the revolution in 1917, communists in India showed a strong allegiance to the superpower, preferring it to alliances with the imperialist west. Political parties from the heady days of the Tashkent meeting in 1920 and organisations such as ‘Friends of the Soviet Union’ chaired by a Congress leader took root to ensure Russian politicians, artists and cultural ambassadors enjoyed a warm welcome in the subcontinent.

Despite Jawaharlal Nehru’s pledge for non-alignment, relations continued as one Cold War superpower jockeyed against the other. India ‘s Intelligence Bureau has had its training from the KGB since the 1950s. KGB activities were countered by CIA and other interventions in which one foreign spy was played off the other by those in India . Under Indira Gandhi’s rule, Cold War opacity became clearer as India leant more and more towards the USSR .

In the contemporary neo-liberal, post 9/11 era, India plays a game of chess with all major powers. Its allegiance with the former USSR continues under deluded circumstances.

The USSR is no more, but the political left idealises it as if it were still a communist country. The left continue to live under an ideological hangover and are tongue-tied when it comes to developing a consistent critique of Russian policy and practice in India . Their reasons stem from the fact that they favour the multipolarity that an alliance with Russia promises, rather than the unipolarity of the USA which, after all, in the global recession is living with a flagging dream of supremacy. They fail to see the reality of Russia today.

A much reduced but no less powerful Russia is in the throes of cut-throat capitalism and a mission to conquer the world through trade deals and natural resource dependency. The oligarchs of old who worked for the Kremlin continue to have parliamentary control and palatial residences but this time tied in with gangster capitalism. It is evident that they have little remorse and take no prisoners when it comes to muscling in on trade, whether it be legal, illegal or the grey area in between. The Kremlin has mutated into a racketeering Gremlin.

On the supposedly legal front, there are examples such as the nuclear corporate, Atomsroyexport with its large share held by the state corporate Rosatom. Together they are responsible for much of the nuclear expansion in the former Communist bloc, Asia and other countries in the south such as Iran . (14) As the controversy of Iran shows, how long these projects remain simply civilian is anyone’s guess. These are also countries where civil society, citizen’s rights and legislature are comparatively weak. Russia takes minimal heed of international or national law as their belated feting of mammon obscures concerns over human rights abuses. Witness Russia ‘s supply of ammunition and military hardware to the governments in Syria with regards to the atrocities committed against its people and, along with China and Israel , in Sri Lanka ‘s civil war that ended brutally in 2009. (15)

On the obviously illegal front, Russia has grown to dominate the trade in real estate, drugs and the sex trade with one of its favoured havens being Goa . (16) But as a report for the United Nations Office for Drug Control and Crime Prevention stated in 2001, their involvement in the so-called legal economy is much more lucrative:

The large criminal organisations that are presented as the dreadful ‘Russian Mafia’ by the domestic and foreign press, are at the moment apparently not interested in the drug business, though some of their younger affiliates may be dealing drugs. The extraordinary enrichment chances offered by the transition to a market economy explain, according to some interviewees, their lack of interest in drug trafficking. As a law enforcement officer put it, ‘they have such huge opportunities to make money in the so-called legal economy, that it makes no sense for them to deal drugs’.

Whether it is above or below board, ruthlessness defines their conduct led by free-wheeling despots with a passion for big bucks, football, fast cars and even faster women.

India continues to be one of Russia ‘s prime customers. Indian officials may declare themselves as patriots who love India , but as Ashis Nandy has argued for the west in more sophisticated language than is used here, they still fantasise about sleeping with the white adversary. (17) White men serve another function – of endorsing decisions made by the Indian state as demonstrated in the number of times politicians and nuclear officials call upon Russians and Croatians to say that their nuclear technology in KKNPP is safe. (18)

A bitter irony is that whilst Russians court Indians in trade and exchange, Russia itself has become a dangerous place in view of widespread racist attacks against anyone who is not white. Racism occurs not just in football grounds but even in the most liberal of their bastions such as universities: ‘ Those with black skin or an Asian appearance rarely venture out alone at night.’ (19) In a report published in May 2012, five people have been killed and about 70 injured in racist attacks so far this year. (20) But the racism is not just limited to ultra-right street thugs. It is evident in their institutions and corporates, and it is also apparent in the lack of regard they have for the lives and livelihoods of Indians living around the Koodankulam power plant in their transnational profiteering.

So why does the Indian government continue to trade with Russia in substandard and potentially dangerous technologies in military and nuclear hardware? Profits for the companies and kickbacks for the handshaking politicians have overruled the safety of Indian citizens. The 1986 Bofors scandal and the revelations of the 2001 Tehelka Operation West End sting operation in 2001 are only the tip of this melting iceberg in an international arms imbroglio. Official arguments about national security and national development are in fact a threat to national wellbeing and prosperity.

Now that nuclear relationships have broadened to encompass US and French corporates in the aftermath of the Indo-US deal, Indian authorities are not just having an affair, but pimping Mother India in the pursuit of profits. Koodankulam has become a region of civil war fought on non-violent grounds led by the People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy against a venal state that threatens with violence. It is the state that has initiated this sorry state of militarised affairs in what was formerly a beautiful and tranquil region of India , a policy that also terrorises people living in other zones earmarked for nuclear developments.

Raminder Kaur is the author of Atomic Bombay: Living with the Radiance of a Thousand Suns, Performative Politics and the Cultures of Hinduism and co-author with Virinder Kalra and John Hutnyk of Diaspora and Hybridity.

1. The entry now appears on wikimapia and a couple of blogs. See http://wikimapia.org/8148328/Kudankulam-Nuclear-Power-Plant-%E0%AE%95%E0%AF%82%E0%AE%9F%E0%AE%99%E0%AF%8D%E0%AE%95%E0%AF%81%E0
%AE%B3%E0%AE%AE%E0%AF%8D-%E0%AE%85%E0%AE%A3%E0%AF%81%E0%AE%AE%E0%AE%BF%E0%AE%A9%E0%AF%8D-%E0%AE%A8%E0%AE%BF%E0%AE%B2%E0%AF%88%E0%AE%AF%E0%AE%AE%E0%AF%8D

2. http://www.naval-technology.com/projects/arihant-class/ It is interesting that the Sethusamudram project was emphasised as only a shipping canal. Proposals for the canal stress the reduction in time for heavy ships that would no longer need to sail south of Sri Lanka . But the actual saving in time is only a few hours for it cuts sailing by a mere 350 nautical miles, not the thousands of miles saved by other canal projects such as those in Panama and the Suez . In 2009, the Indian Ministry of Shipping declared that cost estimates had increased to around Rs 30,000 crores, an outrageous sum that makes no sense if the project is just to save on a bit of time and fuel. Even though proposals have been made to dredge the canal since colonial times, the reason for its inauguration in 2005 under the United Progressive Alliance party in power in the pre-Indo-US deal era has to be militarily strategic. The project is now on hold after much campaigning on environmental, economic and religious grounds as the peninsular pilgrim centre, Rameswaram, is the legendary place where Ram despatched his army of monkeys across the bridge Ram Setu to Sri Lanka . As any rate, the Sethusamudram Corporation Limited was unable to raise the funds needed to complete the project. See http://www.dnaindia.com/money/report_sethusamudram-project-cost-rises-by-rs-4500-cr_1292583

3. http://twocircles.net/2012apr18/koodankulam_fir_filed_
against_over_55000_people_6800_charged_sedition.html

4. http://www.countercurrents.org/subbarao080312.htm

5. http://officialsite.my/tempur/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=883&Itemid=2
http://www.dianuke.org/koodankulam-a-secret-annexure-in-the-indo-russian-agreement-for-a-nuclear-submarine/

6. http://www.fas.org/nuke/control/npt/text/npt3.htm The eventual public release of the now outdated Site Evaluation Report in May 2012 also reveals the Russian role in Koodankulam land clearance from the outset. http://www.deccanherald.com/content/252670/soviet-role-kkulam-land-clearance.html ; http://www.countercurrents.org/kaur290512.htm

7. http://www.naval-technology.com/projects/arihant-class/

8. http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/iaf-lost-half-of-mig-fighter-jets-in-deadly-crashes/1/187061.html

9. http://www.bellona.org/articles/articles_2011/nerpa_lease http://www.bellona.org/articles/articles_2008/Nikitin_comments_on_pac_fleet_sub

10 http://www.bellona.org/articles/articles_2011/nerpa_lease

11. http://www.deccanchronicle.com/channels/cities/chennai/no-disaster-can-hit-koodankulam-plant-centre-202

12 http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,2099861,00.html http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704816604576333030245934982.html

13 http://www.bellona.org/articles/articles_2011/rosatom_report

14 http://www.unitedagainstnucleariran.com/company/atomstroyexport

15. According to an Amnesty International report, the USA and Russia rank first and second respectively in the ‘Big Six’ ring of arms traders. http://www.amnesty.org/en/news/big-six-arms-exporters-2012-06-11 See also http://www.thenational.ae/news/world/south-asia/chinas-aid-revealed-in-sri-lankas-victory-parade ; http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/feedarticle/10288835

16 http://www.mpicc.de/ww/en/pub/forschung/
forschungsarbeit/kriminologie/archiv/drug_trafficking.htm

17. Ashis Nandy (1989) The Intimate Enemy: Loss and Recovery of Self under Colonialism, Delhi : Oxford University Press.

18 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YNx_x3unS9Q http://www.thehindu.com/news/states/tamil-nadu/article3429704.ece

19 http://www.dw.de/dw/article/0,,14870888,00.html

20 http://www.sova-center.ru/en/xenophobia/news-releases/2012/06/d24550/

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