#RIP- The Grand Old Lady of Indian Womens Movement, Vina Mazumdar – No More #Womenrights


vina

 

Noted academic and a leading figure of India’s women’s movement, Dr Vina Mazumdar, died early today after a brief illness.

86-year old Mazumdar was suffering from a tumour in her lungs, her family said. She is survived by three daughters and a son. A strong votary of increased women’s representation in Parliament and legislature, Mazumdar was the secretary of the Committee on the Status of Women in India that brought out the first report on the condition of women in the country, ‘Towards Equality’, in 1974. The report became a turning point both for women’s studies and the women’s movement in India.

She was the founding Director of the Centre for Women’s Development Studies (CWDS), an autonomous organisation under the Indian Council of Social Science Research (ICSSR), where she remained a National Research Professor till the end. Born in 1927 in a middle-class Bengali household in Kolkata, she did her schooling in the city and studied in Banaras Hindu University and Calcutta University, before going to Oxford in 1947, soon after independence. She went back to Oxford University later and received her D.Phil in 1962. She taught in Patna and Berhampur Universities, joined the University Grants Commission Secretariat and also remained a Fellow of the Indian Institute of Advanced Studies, Shimla.

Later she became Director, Programme of Women’s Studies, Indian Council of Social Science Research from 1975 to 1980.

Her memoir, Memories of a Rolling Stone, speaks of her liberal upbringing, Kolkata of 1940s, activism and policy making of 60s and 70s, her rebellious daughters and singer- husband Shankar.

Among her known students in Patna University are BJP leader Yashwant Sinha and former Foreign Secretary Muchkund Dubey, while CPI(M) leaders, Prakash Karat, Brinda Karat and Sitaram Yechury were very close to her.

 

CPI(M) demands abolition of #deathpenalty


Monday, May 13, 2013, 20:13 IST | Place: New Delhi | Agency: PTI

Decribing executions as “inhuman”, CPI(M) on Monday said it stands for abolition of death penalty in the country as it is “arbitrarily implemented” and advocated imprisonment till death in rarest of the rare cases.

Prakash Karat

Decribing executions as “inhuman”, CPI(M) on Monday said it stands for abolition of death penalty in the country as it is “arbitrarily implemented” and advocated imprisonment till death in rarest of the rare cases.

A decision on the party’s position was taken at a two-day Central Committee meeting of CPI(M) that ended here yesterday.

Addressing a press conference here, CPI(M) General Secretary Prakash Karat said the Central Committee discussed a note presented by the Polit Bureau on the abolition of the death penalty and decided that it will advocate the abolition of capital punishment.

“In India, death penalty, as it is in practice is arbitrarily implemented. It is inhuman…Instead of capital punishment, the party wants in rarest of the rare cases and most heinous crimes, life imprisonment should be extended for the entire life of the person convicted with no scope for remission,” Karat said.

He said the Politburo had been discussing the issue since last year.

Referring to the controversy surrounding the execution of Parliament attack case convict Afzal Guru, Karat said he was denied what was provided in the law about right to appeal after the mercy petition was rejected.

“Afzal was denied this opportunity and his family was not informed also,” he said.

The CPI(M) leader said 97 countries have abolished death penalty and it was time for India to change its statute.

Last month, CPI(M) Polit Bureau member Sitaram Yechury had said that the party were willing to discuss and consider death penalty for rapists.

 

INDIA-Left parties submit charter of demands to Prime Minister


 

NDTV.com | Updated: August 04, 2012 1

New Delhi: The four Left parties met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh with a charter of demands concerning food security. This memorandum was submitted today after a five day dharna at Jantar Mantar.

Here is the full text of memorandum presented to Dr Singh.

Dear Dr. Manmohan Singhji,

The Left parties have held a nationwide campaign on the issues concerning food security. This phase of the struggle ended with a five day sit-in protest at Jantar Mantar attended by thousands of people from all over the country. Representatives of different States presented their experiences and highlighted the adverse impact of relentless food inflation on the lives of common people. There was a unanimous rejection of the draft Food Security Bill presently before the Parliamentary Standing Committee. We write this memorandum to draw your attention to what we consider are the critical issues.

1. India produces enough foodgrains to ensure a food security system which covers all sections of the people. The targeted system introduced as part of the so-called economic reforms from the decade of the nineties has proved to be a failure. Large sections of people who require subsidized foodgrains are excluded. It has been shown that in a country like India, with a large majority of the workforce in the unorganized sector with no fixed income, the errors of exclusion far outweigh those of inclusion in a targeted system. With the largest numbers of hungry people in the world, India requires a comprehensive and inclusive food security system, which can only be provided by scrapping the targeted system and replacing it with a universal system.

2. With the relentless increase in prices of food items, a universal public distribution system can also help to keep market prices down. Dal, edible oil and other essential commodities should be  supplied through the public distribution system.  Many State Governments using their own funds, however limited, are providing foodgrains at one or two rupees a kilo. The central food security system therefore must keep the prices of foodgrains down to a maximum of two rupees a kilo. We therefore believe that it is only reasonable that a minimum of 35 kg of foodgrains at a maximum price of two rupees should be provided.

3. The experience of targeting is not just in poor implementation but more fundamentally linked to the estimates of poverty converted into daily poverty lines and State wise quotas by the Planning Commission. You well know of the national outrage against the poverty line figures given by the Planning Commission to the Supreme Court of  Rs. 26 for an adult in rural India and Rs. 32 for an adult in urban India at 2010-2011 prices. We have learnt that yet another committee has been set up to look at poverty estimates afresh. We strongly oppose the linkages between Planning Commission estimates with either food security or other welfare rights and schemes. The present questionnaire for the BPL census also raises many questions as it is designed to exclude rather than include the deprived. This further underlines the urgent necessity for universalizing the right to food.

4. India can have a successful food security programme only if the kisans of India are protected from the volatility of market manipulation by powerful lobbies. In this connection the recommendation of the National Farmers Commission is for an MSP based on the actual cost of production, which is constantly rising given the increase in the prices of fertilizer, diesel, pesticides, seeds, electricity and other inputs plus a 50 per cent profit margin. This is an important aspect of providing food security.

5. At present the Government is holding around 5 crore tonnes of surplus stocks of foodgrains. In the name of “liquidating the stocks” the Government has decided to export the grains. Already 25 lakh tonnes have been exported. The grains are given at subsidized prices to private traders. Substantial amount of this grain will be ultimately used as cattle feed in developed countries. We believe that the grains should be distributed universally. Particularly at a time when India is facing one of its worst droughts, export of foodgrains is shortsighted and will only benefit big agribusinesses. We are against exports at this time.

6. All these issues should be reflected in the Food Security Bill. Instead it is unfortunate that the Bill seeks to push the so-called reform process further by linking the APL subsidy to acceptance by the States of certain objectionable conditions such as introduction of cash transfers, AADHAR cards etc. Cash transfers at a time of high food inflation will erode even the present inadequate allocations apart from other factors such as possible diversion of the funds for other pressing needs. In any case such conditions are an attack on the federal character of the constitution and an encroachment on the rights of the States. The Bill gives overriding powers to the Central Government. The present Bill also legalizes targeting in a new form by introducing three categories of general (APL), priority (BPL) and automatically excluded sections. We find this highly objectionable. We believe that the Bill in its present form will legalise food insecurity and must be radically changed so as to include:

Minimum allocation of 35 kg of foodgrains of reasonable quality per family at the maximum price of two rupees a kilo.

This should be a legally enforceable universal right, scrapping APL/BPL divisions.

Conditions such as cash transfers should be eliminated.

The Food Security Bill should be suitably amended and presented in the forthcoming session of Parliament.

We hope that you will consider our views and take appropriate action.

With regards

(Prakash Karat)                        
General Secretary, CPI(M)

(S. Sudhakar Reddy)
General Secretary, CPI

(Debabrata Biswas)                       
General Secretary, AIFB

(Abani Roy)
Secretary, RSP

 

Indian Left and the Nuclear Googly


Flag of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)

Flag of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

by- – A.Muthukrishnan

The CPIM and CPI are a part of the Konkan Bachao Samiti in Jaitapur which has a resolve of protesting against the world’s biggest nuclear complex which is coming up at Jaitapur. This Jaitapurnuclear plant will not only have safety issue’s but it’s going to make extinct the Alphonso mangoes which this konkan region gifts to the whole world in every season. A committee has been formed which has Prakash Karat and Baradhan as its key leaders. The left parties are also part of the  protest committee against the  Kovvada plant in Srikakulam in Andrapradesh.  But the same parties in Tamilnadu have been welcoming the Nuclear Plant in Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant. This dual approach is snowballing into a big debate among Anti Nuke protestors across India. It’s as if the Russian reactors are Communist in nature and the French are Capitalist reactors.

The CPIM and CPI have on the record been pro Kudankulam since the protest began 210 days ago in Kudankulam. They have been ridiculing the protest and have been demanding commissioning of the Nuclear Plant at the earliest as they very strongly think that this is the only way out to overcome the power crisis in Tamilnadu.

Both the parties have been writing editorials and continuous columns in their respective party organs Theekathir and Jana Sakthi advocating nuclear power as the only viable option and that Russian reactors were the safest. They also were frequently quoting Abdul Kalam and M.R.Srinivasan to defend their stands. When this issue was raised with comrades of both the left parties, answer were naïve. Our comrades had an intimate bondage with the  Kudakulam Reactors as they originated from Russia our Comrades share a great nostalgia with the word “Russia” and this was the profound reason. They further went on to say that Russian reactors were tested ones and Areva was going to install a untested reactor in Jaitapur. Both the parties had spoon fed their cadres that this protest was just orchestrated by the American money against a Russian Reactor.

On March 1, 2012 CPI (M) general secretary G. Ramakrishnan stated that based on former President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam‘s recommendations, the Centre should ensure the safety of those in and around Kudankulam and allocate Rs.200 crore for development activities.

Similar to this view CPI TN Seceretary D.Pandian also said that power cuts were increasing, affecting all sections of society. The government should initiate all necessary steps to find a solution quickly and overcome the shortage. The CPI supported the commissioning of the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project. The just demands of the local people, such as providing employment opportunities, should be addressed.

On March 24th The State unit of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) on Friday called upon anti-Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project (KKNPP) protestors to give up their agitation, as panels of experts appointed by the Centre and the State governments had vouched for the safety of the plants.

In a statement State secretary of the party G. Ramakrishnan welcomed the State government decision to go ahead with the commissioning of the plants. He requested the local people to extend their support for the functioning of the plants. Mr. Ramakrishnan said that instead of resorting to repressive measures such as filing criminal cases against the protestors, the State government should take steps to allay the fears of people about the technology and safety aspects of the Kudankulam project.

On March 25 th CPI secretary D. Pandian also backed the CM’s decision to support commissioning of the Koodankulam plant and demanded that the entire power generated from it be given to TN. The State should initiate dialogue with protesters and demand that the entire 1,000 MW generated in the first reactor should be given to TN till the power crisis in the State was solved, and he also went further to state that “Their apprehensions are borne out of ignorance. It cannot be cleared,” CPI state secretary D. Pandian said, demanding immediate commissioning of the Nuclear plant. Accusing anti-nuke protesters of “holding the country for ransom” the CPI leader said, “It is a national asset and it must be utilised.”

Earlier D. Raja, CPI leader, too, reacted on similar lines saying, if America-based NGOs are playing a role in Kudankulam, then they should be isolated and action should be taken against them.

Just a few days ago when ten thousands of  police forces were moblised by the state against the protestors at the same time CPI state secretary D.Pandian went on the media and said, if u don’t want the Nuclear plant to operate  please come take your compensation and vacate  this place.

Even at the recent Tamilnadu state conference of the CPIM Prakash Karat went on in full length to say that this issue was a bit complicated to explain. “The CPIM stand was that they were pro nukevis-à-vis the first reactor in Kudankulam” as that was a contract between India and the erstwhile Soviet Union, and then went on to say that , “We would oppose the other 3 phases which are about to come up in Kudankulam as they were signed by agreements with the new government in Russia which has a Capitalist character and these were pure business deals. CPIM also is against all the reactors which are mushrooming in India as a result of the 123 pact which transformed India as a military partner with US, UK and France”. This dosage has added to the already confused understanding of the party comrades.

Both the state and central Governments are not ready to address the simple question raised by the anti-nuke protestors but are keen in tainting and intimidating the fisher folk with cases and crackdowns in various shades.  First they tried to paint a communal portrait, then the Congress brought in the hand of Jesus and now it has replaced the hand with a gun, the Naxal angle. The Government and the Nucleuocracy knows well the answers to the questions But the huge billion dollar contracts and the spill offs are more nearer to them.

VVER-1000 reactors pose many safety concerns. Their operating experience raises questions about the reliability of their control-rod mechanism, which is crucial to preventing a runaway fission chain reaction. In the last couple of years, at Temelin in the Czech Republic and at Kozloduy in Bulgaria, numerous control rods, which are supposed to arrest power excursion or reactor misbehaviour, did not move as designed.

On March 1, 2006, when Kozloduy’s Unit FIVE was operating at full capacity, one of the four main circulation pumps tripped due to electrical failure. As reactor power was reduced to 67 percent of nominal capacity, three control-rod assemblies remained in the wrong position. Of the remaining 61 assemblies, 22 did not move with driving mechanisms. The number of control-rod assemblies unable to scram remains unknown. Control-rod insertion failures are considered serious and lead to a severely degraded state of safety if an accident-initiating event occurs. Kozloduy, Temeling to the almost 10 lakh lives lost in the last 25 years in Chernobly the whole power guzzling world needs to learn lessons about risking lives. But even with so much tragedy lying around the VVER the leftists still tilt to the rhythm of nostalgia.

Adding to the VVER and Russian debate Nuclear Cheer leader Abdul Kalam had stated in this article that only 57 persons died in Chernobyl accident. But on the contrary John Vidal says ”Five years ago, I visited the still highly contaminated areas of Ukraine and the Belarus border where much of the radioactive plume from Chernobyl descended on 26 April 1986. I challenge chief scientist John Beddington and environmentalists like George Monbiot or any of the pundits now downplaying the risks of radiation to talk to the doctors, the scientists, the mothers, children and villagers who have been left with the consequences of a major nuclear accident. It was grim. We went from hospital to hospital and from one contaminated village to another. We found deformed and genetically mutated babies in the wards; pitifully sick children in the homes; adolescents with stunted growth and dwarf torsos; fetuses without thighs or fingers and villagers who told us every member of their family was sick. This was 20 years after the accident, but we heard of many unusual clusters of people with rare bone cancers…. Villages testified that ‘the Chernobyl necklace’ – thyroid cancer -was so common as to be unremarkable”, in “Nuclear’s Green Cheerleaders Forget Chernobyl at Our Peril,” The Guardian, April 1, 2011.

S.P.Udayakumar who leads the people’s non voilent struggle at Kudankulam said in an interview that “Both the CPI and CPM are confused. CPM is anti-nuclear in Jatapur, but pro-nuclear in Kudankulam; they are against nuclear weapons, but are pro-nuclear for energy”. The Leftists still think that electricity is directly proportional to the development of this country.

It’s high time that the Left understand the Jaitapur and Kudankulam are twin sisters of the Nuclear Tragedy.

 

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