#India – The Dangerous word : Maoists or Terrorists ?


: Dangerous word

Thursday, Jun 13, 2013 Agency: DNA,

Semantics matters in politics; language, used judiciously, is both a prime tool and a potent weapon in the shaping of public discourse. That is why there has been an ongoing debate both within the Congress and between parties in the wake of the Naxal attack on Congress leaders and party workers in Chattisgarh on whether to call Maoists terrorists or not.

Rural development minister Jairam Ramesh was the first to ascribe the term to them; tribal affairs minister KC Deo disagreed, as, when the issue came up this week, did the left parties. Now, home minister Sushilkumar Shinde has followed the Ramesh line of thought and publicly dubbed the Maoists terrorists. It is a mistake —  a dangerous reduction of a multi-faceted problem in a manner that can trammel public opinion and the scope of engagement with the Naxals.

Was the Maoist attack a heinous act? Undoubtedly. And it was far from the first time they have attacked innocent civilians; anyone who harbours romantic notions about them needs to take a closer look at their interaction with the disenfranchised sections of the population they purport to fight for. But the fact remains that the Naxal movement was born in and has taken root in a particular economic and socio-political context. It is the context that is crucial — to the extent that internationally there are over a hundred different definitions of terror with none being legally binding.

There are very real grievances against the Indian state in vast swathes of the country. The term terrorist carries with it — particularly today — an emotional heft that means its use can push the context into the background entirely and de-legitimise those grievances.

Equally, it legitimises any and all state action to bring down those it has termed terrorists. That is a slippery slope when the Indian state’s human rights record is already less than exemplary, as attested to repeatedly by Human Rights Watch.

By all means, the Indian state has the right — and the responsibility — to protect itself and its citizens from security threats. But to do it effectively, it must show itself capable of nuance. There is a vast gulf between focusing on security measures to combat acts of terror by the Maoists — paired with dialogue and development efforts to tackle root causes — and terming them terrorists and thus not worthy of engaging with at all, as Ramesh has done.

And it must also focus on its own methods, given the tendency of its police forces — and in parts of the country, its military and paramilitary forces as well — to indulge in extra-judicial behaviour  up to, and including torture and killings. Such acts do far more to exacerbate the problem than to suppress it.

Shinde and Ramesh would do well to reflect on the fact that by several definitions — including one advocated by the UN secretary general’s office — the Indian state can be said to be indulging in state terrorism against segments of its own population.

 

Jairam Ramesh: Don’t turn Aadhar card into an instrument of exclusion #Aadhaar #UID


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

Press Trust of India Posted online: Fri May 31 2013, 16:05 hrs
New Delhi : Amid concerns that sticking to Aadhaar card criteria could deprive many people especially in remote areas of benefits of UPA’s ambitious cash transfer scheme, Union Minster Jairam Ramesh today cautioned against a situation when Aadhaar becomes “an instrument of exclusion”.
“Unfortunately many of the beneficiaries of government programmes are outside the network of Aadhaar numbers’ network. So you find that in a very large number of the districts… the Aadhaar coverage is much much below the critical threshold of 75 to 80 per cent,” Ramesh said addressing a conference here.
He said that there is a need to be “very, very careful” to ensure that “lack of an Aadhaar number does not become an alibi of exclusion of the beneficiary. We do not want to to be in a situation, when Aadhaar becomes an instrument of exclusion. That if you do not have the Aadhaar number, you will not get the benefits. We do not want this situation and this situation is very, very probable. One should never discount the probability of a local level functionary saying that since you do not have a Aadhaar number, you are not eligible,” he said.
There have been reports that Centre may bypass Aadhaar to accomplish the Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) before the scheme is launched on July 1.
The Union Minster also rued that the public sector banks are not responding adequately to the Banking Correspondents (BCs) model, which is absolutely critical for delivering benefits directly into the hands of beneficiaries.
“Private banks have been far more innovative than public banks regarding the use of BCs. To get public sector banks in the framework of BCs has been a challenge. Banks are simply not on board as far as this crucial thing of BCs is concerned,” Ramesh said.
The minister also favoured relying more on post offices to reach out to people in the remote tribal areas than banks, widening and strengthening the network of BCs to include self help groups, Asha workers and other such agencies and moving away from BPL/APL issue while deciding on beneficiaries.

#India-After 100 years , Odisha villagers get rights to harvest bamboo rights #agriculture


JAMGUDA, March 4, 2013

Prafulla Das, The Hindu

Union Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh is handing over the patta at Jamguda in Kalahandi district on Sunday. Photo: Lingaraj
Union Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh is handing over the patta at Jamguda in Kalahandi district on Sunday. Photo: Lingaraj

Tribal development must for curbing Naxal growth: Jairam

For the residents of this tiny non-descript village in Odisha’s Kalahandi-Bolangir-Koraput region, it was a rare celebratory occasion on Sunday when they got back the rights that had been snatched away by the British rulers nearly a century ago.

The official transit passbook for cultivation and harvest of bamboo was handed over to the Jamguda Gram Sabha by Orissa forest officials. Union Rural Development and Tribal Affairs Ministers Jairam Ramesh and Kishore Chandra Deo and Odisha Revenue minister Surjya Narayan Patra attended a Tribal Rights festival organised by the Gram Sabha to mark the event.

Jamguda became the first village in Odisha to be provided community rights to harvest and sell bamboo under the Forest Rights Act, 2006. Mendha Lekha in Gadchiroli district of Maharashtra was the first village in the country to have been given bamboo transit passbooks in April 2011. A few more villages near Mendha Lekha obtained the rights subsequently.

Mr. Ramesh had earlier written to Orissa’s Naveen Patnaik and the Chief Ministers of five other Maoist-affected States to hand over full control of transit passbooks to the Gram Sabhas where community forest rights were recognised.

Addressing Jamguda villagers, Mr. Ramesh and Mr. Deo said the Centre would extend full cooperation in providing tribals and other traditional forest dwellers the right over minor forest produce such as bamboo, kendu leaf and mahula flower.

Mr. Ramesh underlined the need for ensuring development of the tribal people in order to check the growth of Maoists in the tribal regions. “We have to understand why the tribal people were feeling alienated and were unhappy that benefits of development had not reached them so far and their land was being taken away by non-tribal people for different projects.”

Hostile treatment

Tribal people had been treated as enemies by Forest Department officials since the British enforced the Forest Act in 1927 and all land in tribal areas was declared forest land, said Mr. Deo. Under the present laws, granting tribals land rights should be the main priority, he said.

 

Jairam is wrong: It isn’t mining that causes poverty


Firstpost

by  Jan 14, 2013

Crude generalisations may make for great polemics, particularly when they are backed by ideological rigidity, but they don’t always make for informed political or economic discourse.

Rural development minister Jairam Ramesh is guilty of both crude generalisations and ideological rigidity when he says, with breezy disregard for nuance and even a callous disdain for facts, that “mining only leads to poverty.” Addressing tribal populations in Lanjigarh in Odisha, Ramesh claimed that mining would not do away with the widespread poverty that the tribal-inhabited areas in the State were susceptible to. “The Central government believes that poverty can be reduced only through agriculture and rural development,” Ramesh added. (More here)

Ramesh’s choice of turf to articulate his ruminations on mining, poverty and rural development isn’t entirely without significance. This was after all the ‘hallowed’ ground where Rahul Gandhi had in 2010 given rare voice to his perspective (such as it is on) on developmental economics – with yet more of the same crude and ill-informed generalisations.

Friend of the tribals or just misguided? PTI

Rahul Gandhi had said then that he would serve as a “soldier in Delhi” waging battle on behalf of the tribal people of Kalahandi and against the interests of mining corporates that were looking to harness minerals from this resource-rich region. Ramesh had, as Environment Minister, refused clearance for mining activity in the region, as part of an elaborate mapping of go/no-go areas that clearly went overboard in its reach.

As columnist Dhiraj Nayyar noted last year, that decision by Ramesh cost the country substantially more than the Rs 1.86 lakh crore that was cited by the Comptroller and Auditor-General as the notional loss to the exchequer from the coal scandal.

The Indian economy paid a high price in terms of the 10-15 per cent shortage in power supply year after year, added Nayyar. And that shortage came about not because power generating capacity had not been added, but because of a crippling shortage of coal to fire the power plants. And over the next five years, that shortage will likely more than double.

In other words, what keeps the tribal people of Odisha’s mineral-rich area in poverty is not mining activity but the singular lack of imagination of successive governments, right down to the UPA 2 government of Manmohan Singh, to bring even the rudiments of development to these region. It bears mention that Odisha’s Kalahandi district was in the news during Rajiv Gandhi’s prime ministership in 1986 for the starvation deaths there that prompted a tribal mother to sell her daughter for food. Until then, the Congress had been in power at the Centre for all but three years – and yet, the tribal communities had not benefited from even the faintest whiff of development and continued to wallow in poverty.

Even today, the UPA government’s anti-poverty measures only find expression in throwing good money after bad on welfare programmes that leak like a sieve, rather than in permitting responsible mining activity that would have propelled the economy and uplifted local populations from poverty while simultaneously limiting environmental degradation.

Successful models overseas offer an illustration of the economic multiplier effect, including in lifting indigenous populations from poverty, from responsible mining overseen by proactive governments. In Australia, for instance, the mining boom during the past decade effectively meant that the contribution of mining and mining services industries to Australia’s economy more than doubled from less than 10 per cent of GDP in 2002-03 to 20 per cent of GDP in 2011-12. (More here)

The Australian government also oversaw a partnership between the minerals industry and the indigenous communities, including Aboriginal communities, under which the industry expanded accesss to employment and business development opportunities to indigenous people and communities in mining regions.

In other words, the federal government worked alongside the minerals industry, yet held it accountable for responsible mining practices, and simultaneously leveraged the industry to catalyse the economy in rural and remote parts of Australia both directly through employment and enterprise development, and indirectly by supporting broader economic opportunities.

Similar successful models of responsible mining that uplifted economies exist in other resource-rich countries, including Mongolia. Entire communities benefited from the mining boom, with no significant damage to the environment.

In India, on the other hand, polemicists like Jairam Ramesh and Rahul Gandhi have made a virtue of economic stagnation for decades, in the name of protecting tribal communities from mining corporates. And having contributed thus to a crippling loss of coal for power generation, inflicting a heavy economic burden on the economy, the Manmohan Singhgovernment gave away mining licences recklessly precipitating what is arguably the biggest resources scam in India’s independent history. Today, the selfsame Jairam Ramesh suggests with no trace of irony that it is mining that keeps tribal communities in poverty.

No, Mr Ramesh, what keeps tribal communities in poverty is your ecological evangelism (which acknowledges no middle ground) – and your government’s laissez faire grant of licence that feeds monumental corruption – rather than promote responsible mining that can lift up economies and benefit everyone, including tribal populations, without environmental degradation. It is the singular lack of imagination on the part of the government of which you are a part that has inhibited the Indian economy from realizing its potential and allowed the plunder of national resources, while keeping tribal communities in poverty.

 

Glitches in cash transfer pilot project worry govt


By , TNN | Dec 3, 2012, 03.28 AM IST

Glitches in cash transfer pilot project worry govt
Jairam Ramesh, who is is a key person for the implementation of this programme which is being viewed by the political class as UPA-2’s “game changer”, has conceded that there would be operational issues in implementing the direct cash transfer scheme.

NEW DELHI: The government is alarmed by the fact that the year-long cash transfer pilot project in Alwar district‘s Kotkasim block has virtually been a non-starter as money has rarely, if ever, come into the bank accounts of intended beneficiaries.

Reacting to a report that TOI front-paged on December 2, rural development minister Jairam Ramesh said, “The Kotkasim thing is a very serious issue. There will be operational issues. That’s why this is being rolled out in the 51 districts. We will learn all these issues and then we’ll take a call.”

Ramesh is a key person for the implementation of this programme which is being viewed by the political class as UPA-2’s “game changer”. If it gets stymied by lazy implementation, the political dividends for UPA may be minimal. Possibly mindful of that, Ramesh said, “That’s why I have proposed that we must admit a system of concurrent evaluation. It should not be only officials giving you feedback that everything is very rosy and working on the ground.”

Asked whether cash transfers were being made into an electoral issue, the minister said, “What we’re saying is what’s yours should be yours. Today pensions are paid once in five months and you have to pay a bribe to get what is yours. This is also a huge anti-corruption step. I’ve seen with my own eyes how people have to pay bribes to get their measly Rs 200 pension.”

‘Cash scheme can tackle graft better than Lokpal

Ramesh felt direct cash transfers to intended beneficiaries was “far more efficient in dealing with corruption than the Lokpal model”. “The Lokpal model is needed but to think that the Lokpal is a panacea as some fellows seem to think is ridiculous,” he said.

Asked if ‘cash transfers’ is the right term, given that schemes proposed by the government entail some element of cash, but don’t replace subsidies like food, Ramesh said: ” It is not cash transfers. I have never used the word. It’s the media that’s going gung-ho and unfortunately even the Prime Minister‘s committee is called PM‘s Committee on Direct Cash Transfers.”

What would he call it then? “I would say it is direct benefits transfer. Direct entitlements transfer would be another. It is not direct cash transfer. If we were replacing the food or fertilizer subsidy with cash, that would be direct cash transfer. I react very negatively to the words ‘direct cash transfer’.”

# India–No Toilet, No Bride – Jairam Ramesh and story of tribal woman


 

 

Press Trust of India : Kota, Mon Oct 22 2012,

Days after he kicked up a row by stating that there are more temples than toilets in India, Union Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh Sunday urged women not to marry into families that do not have toilets in their homes.

 

“Don’t get married in a house where there is no toilet,” he told a gathering, mostly of women, at Khajuri village near Kota. “You consult astrologers about rahu-ketu or planetary positions before getting married. You should also look whether there is a toilet at your groom’s home before you decide to get married.”

 

Ramesh, who launched the third edition of Nirmal Bharat Yatra at Sangod here, cited a slogan coined by the Haryana government, “No toilet, no bride”.

 

Ramesh also narrated the story of Anita Narre, who left her husband’s home in Madhya Pradesh two days after her wedding when she found the house didn’t have a toilet. Noting that sanitation is an

 

issue related to women’s dignity and safety, Ramesh said Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan is a people’s movement aimed at eradicating the menace of open defecation in 10 years.

 

The Rural Development

 

Minister also criticised Rajasthan for not doing enough to provide proper sanitation facilities to the people.

 

He pointed out that of the 9,177 gram panchayats in Rajasthan, only 321 have become free from open defecation.

 

Meanwhile, members of saffron outfits showed black flags to Ramesh at various places protesting against his temple and toilet remarks.

The Minister had recently said that the country has more temples than toilets, leading to protests by right wing Hindu outfits.

 Last year, a tribal woman rejected her in-law’s house because there was no toilet in it. Soon after her marriage, she snubbed her newly wedded-husband and told him that she would live as his wife only if he got a latrine constructed. Otherwise, she would continue to live in her father’s house.

Anita was pursuing a BA degree when her father decided to marry her away to Shivram Narre of Bhimpur tehsil. Like every obedient daughter, she agreed to marry Shivram even though he was an agricultural labourer belonging to a BPL family and was less educated than her. But all hell broke loose when she was asked to go to the fields the morning after her marriage on May 14, 2011. The newly wedded bride did not utter a word when she saw the latrine of Jheetudhhana under the open skies. She survived the ordeal in her in-laws’for two days after which, according to tradition, she had to go back to her parents’ house for further rituals.

Once inside her parents’home in Chicholi town, she refused to go back to Jheetudhhana. When the husband came to take her home, she flatly refused. He asked why? In reply, Anita said: Because there is no proper toilet facility in that house.” She asked her husband to come and fetch her only after that toilet had been constructed. Anita’s refusal to go back to the in-laws initiated a revolution in Jheetudhhana. First Shivram went to the janpadh panchayat asking for government schemes that helped in toilet construction. The panchayat helped him with organising funds and a latrine was built at the back of his house.

But as Anita’s story spread through the village, Jheetudhhana’s residents started planning the construction of toilet in every hutment for fear that more girls will refuse to live there. Villagers flocked to the janpadh panchayat with applications for funds to build toilets. Meanwhile, the district administration of Betul has sent a recommendation to the state government to make Anita Narre the brand ambassador for Madhya Pradesh’s sanitary programmes.

 

India- A stinking mess


The Hindu, Editorial. Oct 9,2012

Census  2011 threw up a malodorous statistic: people in 49.8 per cent of households have  no toilet facilities and defecate in the open. In contrast, 63.2 per cent of  households have a telephone connection, of which 52.3 per cent have cell phones;  as for televisions, almost half of the country’s households possess one. Nobody  would even whisper in protest if someone, struck by this perverse anomaly, were  to say that Indians needs toilets more than they do television sets and  telephones. So why is there such blather over some perfectly reasonable remarks  by Union Minister of Rural Development Jairam Ramesh which were intended to  stress that India requires more toilets than it does more temples? His  suggestion that India has more temples than toilets was not part of an  anti-religious tirade but a piece of hyperbole to stress the importance of  sanitation in a speech to panchayat-level workers at the launch of a campaign to  end open defecation. To suggest, as some have, that it was an insidious attempt  to hyphenate toilets and temples in an ugly alliterative juxtaposition is rank  nonsense.

In a  country where politics hungrily attempts to feed off prickly religious  sensitivities, Mr. Ramesh’s comments have been twisted out of context and blown  out of all proportion. BJP spokesperson Rajiv Pratap Rudy has alleged that such  comments would destroy the “fine fabric of religion and faith” and the fierce  chorus of protests have led the Congress to forsake principle for expedience and  distance itself from Mr. Ramesh’s remarks. Predictably, in this republic of hurt  sentiments, at least one complaint has already been lodged with the police  asking that a case be booked against him for outraging religious feelings — which, given the circumstances, reads like poor toilet humour. The only voice in  favour of Mr. Ramesh emerged from Sulabh International, an NGO committed to the  building of toilets. Organisations like these understand how vital toilets are  to the well-being of India. A World Bank study conducted a couple of years ago  estimated the economic impact of the lack of toilets and sanitation facilities,  which it pegged at a staggering Rs. 24,000 crore annually — or 6.4 per cent of  India’s GDP. This loss is created by deaths, especially of children, the cost of  treating hygiene-related illnesses, losses from reduced productivity and educed  tourism revenues. Open defecation is an ugly reminder of the country’s poverty  and the failure of the government to provide adequate water and sanitation  facilities. But it is more than a matter of shame and embarrassment — it has  social and economic implications that this country can hardly afford.

Jairam Ramesh launches SADP project in Malkangiri , Orissa


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)

 May 29, ibnlive.com

BHUBANESWAR/MALKANGIRI: As a part of the Centre’s initiative to contain the spread of Maoism by taking up developmental projects in the affected areas, Union Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh on Monday visited Malkangiri district ahead of launching the Special Area Development Plan (SADP) project by the ministry in the region.

Ramesh, who reviewed implementation of different developmental projects in Malkangiri district, will also visit Sukma in Chhattisgarh. The SADP will be launched in Malkangiri-Sukma region with at an estimated cost of `300 crore.

Security had been tightened in the entire district as Ramesh stayed overnight in  Malkangiri. He will leave for Sukma on Tuesday morning. His proposed visit to Janbai in the cut off area was cancelled due to security reasons following an exchange of fire between the security forces and Maoists in Kalimela area. The Maoists triggered a landmine blast injuring three Special Operations Group (SOG) personnel.

Malkangiri was in the news last year when Maoists kidnapped the then collector R Vineel Krishna. Krishna, who is now the Private Secretary of the Minister, is accompanying Ramesh. Sukma Collector Alex Paul Menon was also abducted by the Maoists this year.

Ramesh met elected panchayat representatives, SHGs and beneficiaries of different welfare programmes during his visit to the district and harped on the dignity of tribals. Many tribals are languishing in different jails in Odisha for no fault of theirs and they should be released immediately, he said. The Minister expressed dissatisfaction over the implementation of Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY) as only 35 per cent of the funds for the district has been spent.

He was critical of the delay in completion of Gurupriya bridge over the  Janbai river. Left wing extremism (LWE) can be tackled effectively if all the political parties work unitedly, he said. He exhorted the youths to join politics. Nine out of every 100 girls are joining the outlawed CPI(Maoist) due to the failure of the political system, Ramesh reasoned.

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