Tuesday, 16 January 2018

The ghosts of Adichanallur: Artefacts that suggest an ancient Tamil civilisation of great sophistication

The ghosts of Adichanallur: Artefacts that suggest an ancient Tamil civilisation of great sophistication : The Hindu

January 13, 2018 



Her features weren’t well defined but her body conveyed a symbolism. Her large hips were emphasised by what appeared to be a skirt or perhaps an oddiyanam — a belt-like jewellery. Her breasts were prominent and the long, dangling earrings she wore seemed typical of the Tirunelveli region of Tamil Nadu.
The palm-sized bronze figurine came from the archaeological site at Adichanallur, located along the Tamirabarani river in Thoothukudi district, says C. Maheswaran, the retired curator for anthropology at the Department of Museums. “It likely represents a mother goddess who stood for fertility,” he adds. “The artefact is primitive but is circa 1,500 BC,” surmises T. Satyamurthy. As superintending archaeologist at the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), he had led the fourth excavation — fifth, as per some records — in Adichanallur in 2004-05.
For nearly a hundred years, the Mother Goddess has been lying safely inside a vault at the Egmore Museum. Now the figurine, as well as other artefacts, including gold diadems (gold jewellery tied with a string on the forehead) will join hundreds of other Adichanallur artefacts for display at a revamped gallery in the museum, says Kavitha Ramu, Director, Department of Museums.

An Urn burial site at Adichanallur near Tirunelveli, Tamil Nadu.   | Photo Credit: A. Shaikmohideen

Digging to the Sangam era

At the site in Adichanallur, abutting the sleepy hamlet called Karungulam, there is little, if any, sign of past grandeur. On a recent Sunday evening, as the sun set over the Tamirabarani river, the grassy knoll on the river bank became a grazing ground for cattle. Bisected by the Tirunelveli-Tiruchendur road, two rusty signboards of the ASI give little information on the significance of the site but warn vandals of punishment.
A group of women waiting for the bus motioned to this correspondent. One of them said in Tamil, “If you climb up the mound, you will see what you are searching for.” To the untrained eye, there is nothing extraordinary on top of the hummock, except for a view of two temples of recent origin. But right here, the four excavations in Adichanallur — by a German, a Frenchman, the British, and finally by Indians — have unearthed hundreds of burial urns, most likely several thousands of years old, along with skeletal remains and thousands of iron and bronze artefacts, including weapons and gold jewellery. These remains were shipped to Chennai, Kolkata, Berlin and Paris. A recently constructed building for an on-site museum in Adichanallur waits for the remains to return.
Among Tamil enthusiasts, heritage lovers, and advocates of Dravidian ideology, there has been a resurgence of interest in Adichanallur, following the recent discovery of an urban settlement in Keezhadi, in Sivaganga district, dating back to the Sangam era (300 BC to 300 AD). Many of them have charged the Centre with wilfully stalling the excavations at Keezhadi, contending that the ASI was baulking at the prospect of digging out an extensive, ancient Tamil civilisation that was independent of Vedic Hinduism.
Sangam literature, especially the earlier works, has been a touchstone for the Dravidian movement. The poetry of the Sangam canon evokes the inner world of feelings and the outer world of activity, but is largely silent on religious practices or even God. Many scholars aver that there is no trace of Vedic Hinduism in the verses, and almost nothing of the caste system or Brahmins. To many proponents of the Dravidian movement, the early Sangam era represents an ideal non-Brahmin, non-caste past, and gives them their separate identity. “If just the burial site can throw up so many things, imagine what a full-fledged excavation in Adichanallur might unearth,” says R. Mathivanan, who served as the Director the State government’s Tamil Etymological Dictionary project.

A figurine of Mother Goddess unearthed at Adhichanallur, placed at Government Museum in Egmore, Chennai.   | Photo Credit: B. Jothi Ramalingam

 The skeletal remains excavated at Adichanallur also did not quite match the biological structure of the contemporary Tamil people. For instance, the jaws of many of the skulls were protruding, and appeared to match those of Australian aborigines or Black Africans rather than a typical Tamil or south Indian. The shape and size of the eye sockets resembled those of the Caucasoid, Far Eastern or even African races. A receding forehead was yet another indicator of foreign origins.
For many decades, experts assumed that the site was 3,000 to 4,000 years old, and had concluded that the skulls belonged to primitive races that were the ancestors of today’s Tamils. Some sought to link them to the people of the Indus Valley, which has been recognised by some scholars as proto-Dravidian (‘proto’ would mean ‘original, primitive or the earliest’). Adichanallur was the missing link in time between the Tamils and the Indus Valley people, they felt.
But in the most recent research, P. Raghavan, a physical anthropologist, has surmised that the remains belong to the 500 BC to 200 BC period, by which time the contemporary Tamil population had formed. He has concluded that the foreign-looking skeletal remains were indeed those of foreigners. But what were these foreigners doing in Adichanallur thousands of years ago?

Date with the past

The most recent Adichanallur excavations in 2004-05, led by Mr. Satyamurthy, showed that Adichanallur, besides being an Iron Age burial site, was also a ‘habitation site’ where ancient people lived. In several reports in The Hindu and Frontline published at that time, journalist T.S. Subramanian explained what was excavated during that dig.
A research paper published in 2010 in the Indian Journal of History of Science said that Adichanallur was also an ancient centre for mining and metalwork. A mineral sample from a burial urn containing copper artefacts was dated to 1,500 BC, plus or minus 700 years, by Raj Kishore Gartia of Manipur University.
“At Adichanallur, arsenic was deliberately added to copper so that the alloy could be work-hardened over a wide range of temperatures without fear of embrittlement. Among the ancients in India, this technique has been found only in the Indus Valley, besides Adichanallur,” says B. Sasisekaran, who was serving as a scientist at the National Institute of Ocean Technology when he did the research as part of the team. He adds that at the nearby Krishnapuram too, an ancient mining site was found, indicating that this was not an isolated activity. The experts concluded that metal artefacts were made here until the 8th century AD.
The dating method used has, however, drawn criticism. In the Thermo-luminescence (TL) and Optically Stimulated Luminescence dating (OSL) methods adopted, the last time the mineral was heated (probably for its manufacture) is detected. Critics say that carbon dating is more appropriate for Adichanallur.

Gold ornament tied on the forehead during wedding unearthed at Adhichanallur, placed at Government Museum in Egmore, Chennai.   | Photo Credit: B. Jothi Ramalingam

 Mr. Sasisekaran counters that OSL is indeed the standard for dating minerals, as carbon dating is used more for organic material. He adds that OSL had successfully dated findings by marine archaeologists at the Gulf of Khambat. But some archaeologists insist that radio carbon dating at three reputed institutes would settle the issue and also reduce the error margin in the OSL dating.

Diversity of the remains

For quite some time now, Adichanallur has been the playground of contentious theories voiced across the world. These theories have dealt with some of the biggest questions concerning the history of not just India but the entire human race.
Starting in Chennai, or Madras, as it was known then, the Adichanallur findings have exercised bright minds in Kolkata, Berlin, Paris, London, Australia and Ithaca in New York State, home to Cornell University.
“Adittanallur (Adichanallur) skeletal data have come to be regarded as the keystone for many theories of race formation, which were based upon the tenets of an earlier anthropological preoccupation called racial paleontology,” said Kenneth Kennedy, former professor of physical anthropology at Cornell, in his essay, “Hauntings at Adichanallur: An anthropological ghost story”, published in 1986.
Adichanallur’s international links began with the arrival of German antiquarian and Berlin resident of Russian descent Friedrich (Fedor) Jagor in the 19th century. Germany during Jagor’s time was a late entrant to the imperialist game that still fancied its chances. The Germans believed that they could use ethnography to understand the native populations they were encountering in Asia and Africa. This resulted in a race among German cities to boost their cosmopolitan status and catch up with other cities on the continent by enhancing the ethnological collections of their museums. Jagor, a resident of Berlin, was a prominent player in this race.

 Between 1857 and 1893, Jagor made three trips to Asia. During his second expedition in 1876, he excavated “upwards of fifty kinds, of baked earthenware, utensils of all sizes and shapes, a considerable number of iron weapons and implements… and a great quantity of bones and skulls”, wrote the District Gazetteer. Jagor shipped his finds to the Ethnological Museum of Berlin.
Jagor has left detailed chronicles of his travels, but not of Adichanallur. “Jagor brought back some 10,000 artefacts in all. The Indian artefacts were first stored at the Ethnological Museum and in 1963 were brought to the newly established Department of Indian Art, now a part of the Museum of Asian Art next to the Ethnological Museum,” says Roland Platz, curator for South/Southeast Asia at the Berlin Ethnological Museum.
Jagor may not have written about Adichanallur but his treasures were becoming well known in Europe, noted Kennedy. Louis Lapicque, a French neuroscientist who believed in race theories, landed in Adichanallur in 1903. Kennedy added that Lapicque dug out one skull that, according to Lapicque, constituted evidence of a primitive Negroid race. This skull was “proudly displayed” at the Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle in Paris, according to Kennedy, who noted that many other experts of that time were also weighing in on the skeletal remains.
Meanwhile, Alexander Rea, the superintending archaeologist of the ASI in Madras, had started his own excavation at the turn of the 20th century. In all he excavated 14 skeletal remains, and many of the artefacts he dug out were put on display at the Egmore Museum in Chennai.
In 1930, Solly Zuckerman, a research anatomist, did a measurement-based study of two Adichanallur skulls. He found the first to be somewhat Australoid but didn’t think it was too different from being Dravidian. The second, he said, was likely female, and remarkably similar to the Old Woman of Grimaldi, one of two Stone Age skeletal remains found in Italy.
The Grimaldi finds were thought to support the ‘Out of Europe’ theory which was later discredited. The Grimaldis were supposed to be examples of darker-skinned Europeans who gave rise to Black Africans and, probably for Zuckermann, Dravidians too.
In 1963, Indian anthropologists B.K. Gupta and P. Chatterjee published a study based on more advanced skeletal evaluation techniques in which they said the skeletons showed a medley of “primitive” features that belonged to Veddoid-Australoid and Mediterranean races. These races had “contributed to the formation of Dravidian speakers”, they said.
‘Vedda’ is a tribe that is still found in today’s Sri Lanka. In Tamil, ‘Vedda’ stands for the hunter tribe. As per the folklore, the most popular deity in the State, Murugan, comes from that tribe.
The two Indian anthropologists noted that the Australoid and the Mediterranean skeletal remains had also been found in Indus Valley Civilisation, thus establishing a link with Adichanallur.
Reviewing these studies, Kennedy concluded in his essay that the Adichanallur remains found until then were quite diverse. On that basis, he called for more conclusive excavations and analysis so that the ghosts of Adichanallur could be put to rest.

The Aussie connection

By 2014, the ‘Out of Africa’ theory had become the scientific consensus on the origin of man, and Australia had embarked on a project that would show that the aborigines in that country were descendants of ‘Out of Africa’ migrants living in South and Southeast Asia during the Ice Age. The Australoids had reportedly pushed towards Australia through sea and land routes — apparently, Australia was attached to the mainland then.
Among the scientists working in that project was P. Raghavan, who was born to Indian Tamil parents in Jaffna but left the island nation in the late 1970s due to the ethnic strife there. He and his sister Gayatri Pathmanathan moved to Chandigarh as researchers. Raghavan later moved to Australia.
In December 2004, he was on a visit to Chennai for his research on the link between aborigines and South India. A hotel receptionist, after asking about his profession, informed him that some ancient skeletons had been unearthed at Adichanallur. “Adichanallur became my passion...” says Mr. Raghavan.
While physical anthropologists before him saw Adichanallur in isolation, Mr. Raghavan, assisted by his sister, saw it in the context of Korkai, some 15 km from Adichanallur, and the Sangam references to it as a port involved in sea trade and pearl fishing. Radio carbon dating had found that a sample from Korkai was circa 800 BC. At that time (2,500 years ago) the sea might have been at least 6-7 km inland, he says.
After research using advanced software and databases, and scrutiny of the fossil and semi-fossil records in the area, he testifies to the foreign origin of the people whose skeletal remains were found. He says they date to 2,500-2,200 BC. “Many of the Adichanallur skulls were that of people from the Middle East, the Mediterranean region, Southeast Asia and the Far East, including what is today Vietnam, Cambodia, China and Japan. The skulls had abnormalities and nutritional deficiencies of the kind typically suffered by seafarers and deep-sea divers. They probably came in through the silk trade route, and the burial ground excavated was probably an exclusive cemetery for foreigners,” Mr. Raghavan says. The skull remains pointed to sexually transmitted diseases, which was again was a prevalent aspect of seafarers, he adds.
Some of the skulls had mysterious, well margined cavities just above the eyebrows. Mr. Raghavan says that they were probably caused by non-cancerous (benign) tumors (also known as Pott’s Puff Tumors) and related to excessive sinuses. They were likely caused by certain bacteria that often attack sailors and deep sea divers, he adds.
The Egmore Museum gallery seeks to highlight the sea trade aspect. “The revamped Adichanallur gallery in Egmore Museum will give visitors a feel of ancient Tamil life and their maritime activities through the use of virtual and augmented reality,” says K. Pandiarajan, Tamil Nadu Minister for Tamil Official Language and Tamil Culture.“We hope to draw in Central as well as Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) funds for the overall museum revamp project,” he adds.
“The State government has sanctioned ₹30 lakh for refurbishing the Adichanallur gallery, which will be completed by March-April,” says Kavitha Ramu of the Department of Museums.

Awaiting closure

Mr. Raghavan says that of the nearly 170 skeletal remains studied, Caucasoid constituted 35%, Mongoloid 30%, Negroid 14%, Australoid 5%, Dravidian 8%, and mixed traits 8%. He says that the Australoid were likely contemporary Australian aborigines who were known to have had seafaring qualities.
Modern anthropologists frown upon any significance being attached to race, save for the purposes of reconstructing history. The present belief is that there are four races: Australoid, Negroid, Caucasoid and Mongoloid. But these are statistical constructs that do not determine or describe culture, behaviour or ability. No one is purely of any race and the races are not closed genetic systems.
“In any case, India is an admixture of all the four races. The extent of the mix may vary from region to region,” says Mr. Raghavan, adding that Dravidian and Aryan are linguistic and not racial entities.
Dravidianists argue that as long as there are caste-based inequalities and concentration of power in the upper castes, empowerment politics based on race and identity are both relevant and necessary.
When marriage across caste boundaries becomes commonplace, such politics won’t be required, they say. They hope that an extensive excavation will conclusively establish a glorious Tamil civilisation along the Tamirabarani. “Less than 10% of the site has been excavated. There is scope for much more work there,” says Mr. Satyamurthy.
Mr. Raghavan’s finding offers closure to at least one aspect, however. Fedor Jagor came looking for the remains of a primitive people to exhibit in a Berlin museum so that the city could present itself as more cosmopolitan. Little would he have known that he was digging up an ancient cosmopolitan cemetery, if not the burial place of an entire cosmopolitan community.



Sunday, 14 January 2018

देश की न्यायिक अंतरात्मा को झकझोरने वाली घटना

देश की न्यायिक अंतरात्मा को झकझोरने वाली घटना


सुप्रीम कोर्ट के चार वरिष्ठ न्यायमूर्तियों ने भारत के मुख्य न्यायाधीश के विरुद्ध प्रेस कॉन्फ्रेंस करते हुए न्यायपालिका और लोकतंत्र को बचाने की अपील कर सभी को सकते में डाल दिया है। उनके आरोप सामान्य नहीं हैं और न ही यह घटना सामान्य है। भारत के न्यायिक इतिहास में आज तक ऐसा नहीं हुआ और इस असंतोष का इस तरह से समाधान किया जाना चाहिए कि भविष्य में भी ऐसा न हो। ऊपरी तौर पर वरिष्ठ न्यायाधीशों की आपत्ति उस रोस्टर को लेकर है, जिसके तहत भारत के मुख्य न्यायाधीश यह तय करते हैं कि कौन-सा मुकदमा किस पीठ के पास जाएगा। निश्चित तौर पर लोकतंत्र या कोई भी व्यवस्था कार्य विभाजन पर ही चलती है और उसके लिए एक प्रशासन होता है। यह काम अगर निष्पक्षता से चलता रहे तो कोई दिक्कत नहीं है। जैसे ही मनमानापन और पक्षपात किया जाता है वैसे ही न्याय और निष्पक्षता को आघात पहुंचता है। जजों का आरोप है कि मुख्य न्यायाधीश दीपक मिश्र सारे महत्वपूर्ण मामले स्वयं सुनते हैं और दूसरे जजों को उस काम का मौका नहीं देते। देश की व्यवस्था के लिए अहम मामले भी कुछ खास जजों के पास जाते हैं और यह कार्यवितरण तर्क और विवेक के आधार पर नहीं होता। फिर सोहराबुद्दीन मामले की सुनवाई कर रहे न्यायमूर्ति बीएम लोया की मौत पर दायर जनहित याचिका भी सीजेआई ने मनमाने तरीके से कोर्ट नंबर 10 को भेज दी। चारों जज मेडिकल कॉलेज घोटाले के उस मामले से भी खफा हैं, जिसकी सुनवाई सीजेआई ने एक बेंच विशेष से छीन कर दूसरे को दे दी थी। उनकी चौथी आपत्ति न्यायाधीशों की नियुक्ति संबंधी सरकार के साथ निर्धारित सहमति-पत्र के बारे में है जिस पर एक बार पांच जजों की पीठ से सुनवाई हो चुकी है लेकिन मुख्य न्यायाधीश ने उसे छोटी बेंच को भेज दिया है। यह सारे मामले पहले एक एक करके उठते रहे हैं लेकिन, गुरुवार को चार वरिष्ठ जजों ने जिस तरह से बाकायदा प्रेस कॉन्फ्रेंस करके भारत के मुख्य न्यायाधीश की न्यायिक दृष्टि और प्रशासन पर संदेह व्यक्त किया है वह पूरी न्यायिक अंतरात्मा को झकझोर देने वाली घटना है। इस मामले में न्यायपालिका के साथ कार्यपालिका कहीं न कहीं संबंध है और उसे भी सफाई देने और अपने को दुरुस्त करने की जरूरत है। अगर देश में न्यायपालिका की साख को बट्‌टा लगेगा और कानून के राज का क्षय होगा तो भला जनता किस पर भरोसा करेगी?

न्यायपालिका की गरिमा के प्रतिकूल

एनके सिंह, (लेखक राजनीतिक विश्लेषक एवं वरिष्ठ स्तंभकार हैं)
यह भारत की ही नहीं, दुनिया की न्याय बिरादरी में एक भूकंप की मानिंद था। भारत में न्यायपालिका और खासकर सर्वोच्च न्यायालय एक ऐसी संस्था है, जिस पर समाज का बहुत अधिक भरोसा है। जब कोई हर संस्था से न्याय की उम्मीद छोड़ चुका होता है, तो वह सर्वोच्च न्यायालय की ओर निहारता है, लेकिन शुक्रवार को इस न्यायालय के चार वरिष्ठ न्यायाधीशों द्वारा आनन-फानन एक संवाददाता सम्मेलन बुलाया जाता है और एक संयुक्त पत्र जारी कर देश की सबसे बड़ी अदालत के प्रधान न्यायाधीश पर न्यायसम्मत तरीके से कार्य न करने का आरोप लगाया जाता है। उनकी ओर से यह भी कहा जाता है कि अगर हम आज सुप्रीम कोर्ट की मौजूदा स्थिति के खिलाफ न खड़े होते तो अब से 20 साल बाद समाज के कुछ बुद्धिमान व्यक्ति यह कहते कि हमने ‘अपनी आत्मा बेच दी थी। इन चारों न्यायाधीशों ने यह भी बयान किया कि वे इस मामले में प्रधान न्यायाधीश के पास गए थे, लेकिन उन्हें वहां से खाली हाथ लौटना पड़ा।इस प्रेस कांफ्रेंस को संपन्न् हुए पांच मिनट भी नहीं हुए थे कि कई वरिष्ठ वकीलों ने पक्ष-विपक्ष में अपने-अपने तर्क देने शुरू कर दिए। अगर वकील प्रशांत भूषण ने मीडिया में आकर प्रधान न्यायाधीश के कथित चहेते जजों का नाम और वे मामले जो उन्हें सौंपे गए, बताना शुरू कर दिया तो पूर्व न्यायाधीश जस्टिस आरएस सोढ़ी ने इन चार वकीलों के कदम को सर्वोच्च न्यायालय की गरिमा गिराने वाला, हास्यास्पद और बचकाना करार दिया। वकील केटीएस तुलसी और इंदिरा जयसिंह नेे चार जजों का पक्ष लिया तो पूर्व एटॉर्नी जनरल एवं वरिष्ठ वकील सोली सोराबजी ने चार जजों की ओर से प्रेस कांफ्रेंस करने पर घोर निराशा जताई। इंदिरा जयसिंह तो चार जजों की प्रेस कांफ्रेंस में भी नजर आई थीं।
चार जजों की प्रेस कांफ्रेंस के औचित्य-अनौचित्य को लेकर तरह-तरह के तर्कों के बाद आम जनता के लिए यह समझना कठिन है कि यह सब क्यों हुआ और इसके क्या परिणाम होंगे? उसके मन में यह सवाल भी कहीं जोर से कौंधेगा कि सुप्रीम कोर्ट में सब कुछ ठीक है या नहीं? इन सवालों का चाहे जो जवाब हो, पहली नजर में यही अधिक लगता है कि एक विश्वसनीय संस्था व्यक्तिगत अहंकार या वर्चस्व की जंग का शिकार हो गई। जब प्रेस कांफ्रेंस में चार न्यायाधीशों से पूछा गया कि क्या वे प्रधान न्यायाधीश के खिलाफ महाभियोग लाने के पक्षधर हैं तो उनका जवाब था कि यह देश को तय करना है। क्या इसका यह मतलब निकाला जाए कि सुप्रीम कोर्ट के ये चार जज प्रधान न्यायाधीश के खिलाफ महाभियोग के पक्ष में हैैं? ध्यान रहे कि सर्वोच्च न्यायालय ही नहीं, हाईकोर्ट के जज भी भारत के संविधान द्वारा अभिरक्षित हैं और उन्हें मात्र महाभियोग के जरिए ही हटाया जा सकता है। यह एक जटिल प्रक्रिया है।
भारत में सुप्रीम कोर्ट के पांच न्यायाधीशों की पीठ संविधान पीठ का दर्जा पा जाती है और उसके फैसलों में कानून की ताकत होती है। हमने अभी तक कभी-कभार कमजोर आवाज में केंद्रीय बार कौंसिल और राज्य बार एसोसिएशनों द्वारा जजों के खिलाफ व्यक्तिगत मामलों में आरोप लगते हुए देखा-सुना था,लेकिन पिछले 70 साल में एक बार भी ऐसा देखने में नहीं आया कि सर्वोच्च न्यायालय के चार वरिष्ठ जज प्रधान न्यायाधीश के खिलाफ प्रेस कांफ्रेंस करें और वह भी केसों के आवंटन में कथित पक्षपात को लेकर। इन चार जजों का कहना है कि कौन-सा केस किस बेंच के पास जाएगा, यह तो प्रधान न्यायाधीश के अधिकार क्षेत्र में होता है, लेकिन यह प्रक्रिया भी कुछ स्थापित परंपराओं के अनुरूप चलाई जाती है। जैसे सामान प्रकृति के मामले सामान बेंच को जाते हैं और यह निर्धारण मामलों की प्रकृति के आधार पर होता है, न कि केस के आधार पर। अगर इन चार जजों को प्रधान न्यायाधीश की कार्यप्रणाली से एतराज था तो वे सभी जजों की सुबह होने वाली बैठक में इस मुद्दे को उठाते और एक आम सहमति बनाने का प्रयास करते। अगर यह तरीका कारगर नहीं हुआ, जैसा कि संकेत किया गया तो फिर ये जज प्रधान न्यायाधीश की केस आवंटन प्रक्रिया के खिलाफ स्वयं संज्ञान लेते हुए फैसला दे सकते थे। ऐसा कोई फैसला स्वत: सार्वजनिक होता और कम से कम उससे यह ध्वनि तो नहीं निकलती कि सार्वजानिक तौर पर कुछ वरिष्ठ जज प्रधान न्यायाधीश के खिलाफ सड़क पर आ गए हैं।
चार जजों की प्रेस कांफ्रेंस के बाद तो उच्च न्यायालयों के स्तर पर भी ऐसा ही हो सकता है और वहां भी कुछ जज मुख्य न्यायाधीश की कथित गड़बड़ीपूर्ण कार्यप्रणाली के खिलाफ प्रेस कांफ्रेंस कर सकते हैं। क्या अब उन्हें इस तरह से प्रेस कांफ्रेंस करने से रोका जा सकता है? अगर यह मान भी लिया जाए कि केसों के आवंटन का काम सही तरह से नहीं हो रहा था तो क्या उसके खिलाफ इस तरह खुलेआम आवाज उठाना न्यायापालिका की गरिमा के अनुकूल है? आधुनिक न्यायशास्त्र का मूल सिद्धांत कहता है कि आप चाहे जितने भी बड़े क्यों न हों, लेकिन कानून आपसे बड़ा होता है। कानून के अनुसार ऐसा कोई बयान जो अदलत की गरिमा को गिराता है, अदालत की अवमानना है। अगर कोई अदालत की अवमानना संबंधी कानून को गौर से पढ़े तो वह यही पाएगा कि इन चार जजों के बयान अवमानना की श्रेणी में आते हैैं। यही बात उन वकीलों के बारे में कही जा सकती है, जो चार जजों की इस प्रेस कांफ्रेंस के तुरंत बाद उनके समर्थन में सक्रिय हो गए। जिस तरह चंद वकील इस मामले में जरूरत से ज्यादा दिलचस्पी दिखा रहे हैं, उससे भी कई सवाल खड़े होते हैैं। अगर किसी रिपोर्टर ने अपनी खबर में ऐसा कुछ लिखा होता कि सर्वोच्च न्यायालय में जजों को केसों का आवंटन भेदभाव के तहत किया जा रहा है, तो इसे अवमानना मानकर उसे तलब कर लिया जाता, लेकिन इस मामले में बार ही नहीं, बेंच में भी विभाजन दिख रहा है और उनके बीच के मतभेद एक-दूसरे पर आरोप के जरिए सामने आ रहे हैं। यह आदर्श स्थिति तो नहीं और इसीलिए यह कहा जा सकता है कि जो कुछ हुआ उससे सर्वोच्च न्यायालय की गरिमा प्रभावित हुई है।
सर्वोच्च न्यायालय ही नहीं, उच्च न्यायालय के पास भी दो तरह के कार्य होते हैं। पहला, न्याय का निष्पादन करना और दूसरा, न्याय प्रशासन देखना। यह दूसरा काम आम तौर पर मुख्य न्यायाधीश के हाथ में होता है। जजों के पास केवल फैसले देने का काम होता है। कॉलेजियम की व्यवस्था के तहत पांच सबसे वरिष्ठ जज नए जजों की नियुक्ति प्रक्रिया में भी भाग लेते हैं। यह हैरान करता है कि एक दिन पहले कॉलेजियम दो जजों के नाम तय करता है और अगले दिन चार वरिष्ठ जज प्रधान न्यायाधीश के खिलाफ मोर्चा खोल देते हैैं। अगर यह सही है कि प्रधान न्यायाधीश सभी समान लोगों में से केवल पहले नंबर पर होते हैैं, इससे अधिक और कुछ नहीं तो फिर यही बात सुप्रीम कोर्ट की सभी बेंचों पर भी तो लागू होती है।


भीमा कोरेगांव: ऐतिहासिक नायकों की तलाश में दलित

भीमा कोरेगांव: ऐतिहासिक नायकों की तलाश में दलित

-राम पुनियानी
महाराष्ट्र के कोरेगांव में एक जनवरी 2018 को उन दलित सिपाहियों, जो सन् 1818 में पेशवा के खिलाफ युद्ध में अंग्रेजों की ओर से लड़ते हुए मारे गए थे, को श्रद्धांजलि देने के लिए इकट्ठा हुए दलितों के खिलाफ अभूतपूर्व हिंसा हुई।  सन् 1927 में अंबेडकर ने कोरेगांव जाकर इन शहीदों को अपनी श्रद्धांजलि दी थी। दलितों द्वारा हर साल भीमा कोरेगांव में इकट्ठा होकर मृत सैनिकों को श्रद्धांजलि देना, दलित पहचान को बुलंद करने के प्रतीक के रूप में देखा जाने लगा है। इस साल यह समारोह बड़े पैमाने पर आयोजित किया गया क्योंकि इस युद्ध के 200 साल पूरे हो रहे थे। विवाद एक दलित - गोविंद गायकवाड़ - जिसके बारे में यह कहा जाता है कि उसने संभाजी का अंतिम संस्कार किया था - की समाधि को अपवित्र किए जाने से शुरू हुआ। भगवा झंडाधारियों ने उन दलितों पर पत्थर फेंके जो भीमा कोरेगांव मे इकट्ठा हुए थे। शिवाजी प्रतिष्ठान और समस्त हिन्दू अगादी नामक हिन्दुत्व संगठन इस हिंसा के अगुआ थे।
पुणे के शनिवारवाड़ा, जो पेशवाओं के राज का केन्द्र था, में एक सभा को संबोधित करते हुए दलित नेता जिग्नेश मेवानी ने आधुनिक पेशवाईके खिलाफ संघर्ष शुरू करने का आव्हान किया। आधुनिक पेशवाईसे उनका आशय भाजपा-आरएसएस की राजनीति से था। जिस सभा में उन्होंने भाषण दिया, वहां दलितों के साथ-साथ अन्य समुदायों के नेता भी उपस्थित थे। इस घटना पर विभिन्न प्रतिक्रियाएं हुईं। कुछ लोग इसे मराठा विरूद्ध दलित संघर्ष बता रहे हैं तो कुछ का कहना है कि यह दलितों पर हिन्दुत्ववादी ताकतों का हमला है। एक ट्वीट में राहुल गांधी ने इस घटना के लिए भाजपा की फासीवादी व दलित-विरोधी मानसिकता को दोषी ठहराया।
भीमा कोरेगांव युद्ध का इतिहास, समाज में व्याप्त कई मिथकों को तोड़ता है । इस युद्ध में एक ओर थे अंग्रेज, जो अपने साम्राज्य का विस्तार करना चाहते थे, तो दूसरी ओर थे पेशवा, जो अपने राज को बचाना चाहते थे। अंग्रेजों ने अपनी सेना में बड़ी संख्या में दलितों को भर्ती किया था। इनमें महाराष्ट्र के महार, तमिलनाडू के पार्या और बंगाल के नामशूद्र शामिल थे। अंग्रेजों ने उन्हें अपनी सेना में इसलिए शामिल किया था क्योंकि वे अपने नियोक्ताओं के प्रति वफादार रहते थे और आसानी से उपलब्ध थे। पेशवा की सेना में अरब के भाड़े के सैनिक शामिल थे। इससे यह साफ है कि मध्यकालीन इतिहास को हिन्दू बनाम मुस्लिम संघर्ष के रूप में प्रस्तुत किया जाना कितना गलत है। जहां इब्राहिम खान गर्दी, शिवाजी की सेना में शामिल थे वहीं बाजीराव पेशवा की सेना में अरब सैनिक थे। दुर्भाग्यवश, आज हम अतीत को साम्प्रदायिकता के चश्मे से देख रहे हैं और इस बात को स्वीकार करने के लिए तैयार नहीं हैं कि युद्धों का उद्देश्य केवल और केवल संपत्ति और सत्ता हासिल करना था।
बाद में अंग्रेजों ने दलितों और महारों को अपनी सेना में भर्ती करना बंद कर दिया क्योंकि उन्होंने पाया कि ऊँची जातियों के सिपाही अपने दलित अफसरों को सेल्युट करने और उनसे आदेश लेने के लिए तैयार नहीं थे। अंबेडकर का प्रयास यह था कि दलितों की ब्रिटिश सेना में भर्ती जारी रहे और इसी सिलसिले में उन्होंने यह सुझाव दिया कि सेना में अलग से महार रेजिमेंट बनाई जानी चाहिए। महार सिपाहियों के पक्ष में अंबेडकर इसलिए खड़े हुए क्योंकि वे चाहते थे कि समाज के विभिन्न क्षेत्रों में दलितों की मौजूदगी हो।
क्या भीमा कोरेगांव युद्ध दलितों द्वारा पेशवाई को समाप्त करने का प्रयास था? यह सही है कि पेशवाओं का शासन घोर ब्राम्हणवादी था। शूद्रों को अपने गले में एक मटकी लटकाकर चलना पड़ता था और उनकी कमर में एक झाड़ू बंधी रहती थी ताकि वे जिस रास्ते पर चलें, उसे साफ करते जाएं। यह जातिगत भेदभाव और अत्याचार का चरम था। क्या अंग्रेज, बाजीराव के खिलाफ इसलिए लड़ रहे थे क्योंकि वे पेशवाओं के ब्राम्हणवाद का अंत करना चाहते थे? कतई नहीं। वे तो केवल अपने साम्राज्य की सीमाओं का विस्तार करने के इच्छुक थे ताकि उनका व्यापार और फले-फूले और उन्हें भारत को लूटने के और अवसर उपलब्ध हो सकें। इसी तरह, महार सिपाही, पेशवा के खिलाफ इसलिए लड़े क्योंकि वे अपने नियोक्ता अर्थात अंग्रेजों के प्रति वफादार थे। यह सही है कि इसके कुछ समय बाद देश में समाज सुधार की प्रक्रिया शुरू हुई और उसका कारण थी आधुनिक शिक्षा। अंग्रेजों ने देश में आधुनिक शिक्षा व्यवस्था इसलिए लागू की ताकि प्रशासन के निचले पायदानों पर काम करने के लिए लोग उन्हें उपलब्ध हो सकें। समाज सुधार इस प्रक्रिया का अनायास प्रतिफल था। अंग्रेज़ भारत की सामाजिक व्यवस्था में परिवर्तन लाने के लिए अपनी नीतियां नहीं बनाते थे। वैसे भी, उस दौर में जातिगत शोषण के प्रति उस तरह की सामाजिक जागृति नहीं थी जैसी कि बाद में जोतिबा फुले के प्रयासों से आई।
यह कहना कि पेशवा राष्ट्रवादी थे और दलित, ब्रिटिश सेना में भर्ती होकर साम्राज्यवादी शक्तियों का समर्थन कर रहे थे, बेबुनियाद है। राष्ट्रवाद की अवधारणा ही औपनिवेशिक शासनकाल में उभरी। ब्रिटिश शासन के कारण देश में जो सामाजिक-आर्थिक परिवर्तन आए, उनके चलते दो तरह के राष्ट्रवाद उभरे। पहला था भारतीय राष्ट्रवाद, जो उद्योगपतियों, व्यापारियों, शिक्षित व्यक्तियोंश्रमिकों और पददलित तबके के नए उभरते वर्गों की महत्वाकांक्षाओं की अभिव्यक्ति था। दूसरे प्रकार का राष्ट्रवाद धर्म पर आधारित था - हिन्दू राष्ट्रवाद और मुस्लिम राष्ट्रवाद। इसके प्रणेता थे जमींदार और राजा-नवाब, जो समाज में प्रजातांत्रिक मूल्यों के प्रति बढ़ते आकर्षण से भयातुर थे और धर्म के नाम पर अपना वर्चस्व बनाए रखना चाहते थे।
पिछले कुछ वर्षों में देश में दलितों के बीच असंतोष बढ़ा है। इसको पीछे कई कारण हैं। रोहित वेम्युला की संस्थागत हत्या और ऊना में दलितों की निर्मम पिटाई इसके लिए कम जिम्मेदार नहीं हैं। वर्तमान सरकार की नीतियां, दलितों को समाज के हाशिए पर धकेल रहीं हैं - फिर चाहे वह आर्थिक क्षेत्र हो या शिक्षा का क्षेत्र। कोरेगांव में भारी संख्या में दलितों का इकट्ठा होना इस बात का प्रतीक है कि वर्तमान स्थितियों से वे गहरे तक असंतुष्ट हैं। नए उभरे दलित संगठन समाज के अन्य दमित वर्गों के साथ गठजोड़ कर रहे हैं। भीमा कोरेगांव में हुई घटनाओं के बाद धार्मिक अल्पसंख्यकों, श्रमिकों और कई अन्य सामाजिक संगठनों ने दलितों के साथ अपनी एकजुटता प्रदर्शित की। दलित, अतीत के नायकों से प्रेरणा ग्रहण करने का प्रयास कर रहे हैं। हालिया घटनाक्रम से यह साफ है कि वे भारतीय प्रजातंत्र में अपना यथोचित स्थान पाने के लिए दृढ़ संकल्पित हैं। उन पर हिन्दू दक्षिणपंथी समूहों का आक्रमण, दलितों की महत्वाकांक्षाओं को दबाने और कुचलने का प्रयास है।  (अंग्रेजी से हिन्दी रूपांतरण अमरीश हरदेनिया) 

January 13, 2018.

Responses to Globalisation: The Indian Experience

Responses to Globalisation: The Indian Experience 

                                                   by Rohini Hensman (URG, Bombay)

link: http://www.sacw.net/aii/RHglobal.html
source:  South Asia Citizens Web

I should begin by clarifying that what I mean by 'globalisation' is the increasing degree of integration of national economies into a global world economy. This process has entered a qualitatively new phase over the past fifteen years with the collapse of the Soviet bloc and the opening up of the countries within it, as well as of China, to the penetration of Western capitalism. India too has participated in this process, although in a less spectacular way, by the economic liberalisation of 1991.

'Less spectacular' because prior to this, India was by no means cut off from world economy. However, there were stringent controls on the import of a large number of commodities, and likewise controls over foreign investments through a complicated licensing system which in most cases did not allow more than 40 per cent of the equity in any company to be held by foreign capital. In this sense it could be said that there was considerable state intervention in the economy. The system - popularly known as 'licence-permit raj' - allowed for widespread corruption, but it also provided a protected environment in which domestic industry could develop and grow.

Basic infrastructure in the form of services such as water and electricity supply, the postal service, transport and banking was on the whole provided by the state. State provision of social security and welfare was less in evidence: public health and education were woefully inadequate, social security for the elderly and unemployed virtually non-existent. Perhaps the most significant input was in the form of a plethora of subsidies. Some, like the subsidies which went into the Public Distribution System of food and kerosene rations, would have benefited
mainly the poor, though not necessarily only the poor, and certainly not all the poor. Others were even less well targeted; for example, the fertiliser subsidy was probably most beneficial to rich farmers.

In July 1991 there was a foreign exchange crisis, and the government turned to the IMF and World Bank for financial assistance. The price was adoption of a programme of economic stabilisation and structural adjustment, with the usual implications of a drastic reduction of state intervention in the economy, resulting, among other things, in a higher degree of globalisation. However, it is important to note that the effects of this economic liberalisation were not nearly as drastic as they were in Sri Lanka. The value of the rupee dropped sharply against foreign
currencies, but prices of essential commodities rose much less, so living standards of the poor did not fall so steeply. The implementation of some of the other measures has been slowed down or stalled, partly due to public protest; the process, on the whole, has been much more within the control of the Indian government than in many other countries. There has been nothing like the de-industrialisation and sharp increase in unemployment which took place in countries like Argentina. What has occurred, however, is a de-unionisation of industry by the transfer of production from unionised to non-unionised workforces. This was already taking place, but increased competition resulting from economic liberalisation accelerated the process. The lack of state
investment in basic infrastructure has led to an alarming decline in the rate of growth of power supply and other services. We can say that the situation of widespread poverty and unemployment which existed prior to 1991 has become somewhat worse, the gap between rich and poor has become larger.

What have been the responses to globalisation in particular? I think they can be divided into four categories:
(1) the internationalist response of Indian business;
(2) the nationalist response of Indian business;
(3) the nationalist response of the Indian Left; and
(4) the internationalist response of the Indian Left.

(1) One section of Indian business had advanced sufficiently by the early 1990s to feel confident of their ability to withstand global competition in both domestic and international markets. These companies and groups did not feel threatened by the opening up of the economy to the more rapid movement of trade and investments between global markets, and the sharp increase in levels of competititon.

The scrapping of controls on expansion meant that Indian firms could aspire to global economies of scale, while the lifting of controls on the outward movement of capital meant that it was easier for Indian businesses to think of internationalising their own operations. A company which wants to break into a new market abroad has to be able to withstand a period of initial losses before it can establish itself; to cover those losses it needs substantial reserves of foreign exchange, without which it cannot even think of expanding in this way. Even more obvious is the need of foreign exchange for companies which are planning to invest abroad. For those companies which were all set to become Indian multinationals, liberalisation was imperative to their future expansion.

Interestingly, among those who accepted the challenge of globalisation were some of the largest and most successful of the public sector enterprises, such as Indian Oil, Hindustan Petroleum, BPCL, Steel Authority of India and the power engineering giant BHEL. Some of these enterprises have gone in for production sharing agreements with international companies in third countries. The private sector, by contrast, is littered with outdated capacities and unviable technologies, and financial institutions have therefore advocated concerted concentration as a means of creating globally competitive industries. For example, ICICI recently advised petrochemical firms to sell out or enter into strategic alliances with foreign companies if they found themselves unable to face competition due to small capacities or out-dated technology. Indian businesses have often been strongest in niche markets. Telco was able to take on and defeat big names like Toyota, Nissan, Mazda and Mitsubishi in the production of Light Commercial Vehicles. Integrationists like Ratan Tata argue that globalisation is good for consumers because it creates greater competition, provides better goods and reduces prices, and, moreover, promotes the growth which is essential to generate employment. Others like the Lalbhai group, owners of Arvind Mills (one of the leading denim manufacturers in the world), and Escorts chairman and Managing Director Rajan Nanda, have publicly expressed similar confidence in their ability to compete in a globalised market.

Many urban, middle-class consumers would have endorsed Ratan Tata's statement to the effect that globalisation was good for consumers, feeling that many Indian companies had used their protected position to rake in profits at the expense of consumers; indeed, liberalisation has led to a palpable increase in consumerism among these sections of the population. Other business groups, like the Ambanis (Reliance) and Birlas, were more ambiguous in their response, both making use of globalisation to expand their businesses and fearing the possibilities of increased competition, dumping and takeovers.

(2) Another section of Indian business is anything but confident of being able to compete on equal terms with world players; they face the threat that their products will be displaced from the market by better quality and/or cheaper imports, and their companies taken over by bigger, better-managed ones. They use the slogan of 'swadeshi', economic nationalism, to advocate the protection of their business interests against erosion by foreign capital. Spokespersons of this lobby, such as Rahul Bajaj, Hari Shankar Singhania, and L.M.Thapar formed what came to be called the 'India Club' to protect the interests of Indian business groups from foreign competition and take-over.

Of the Indian chambers of commerce, FICCI (the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry), generally associated with smaller Indian businesses, was wholly against globalisation, while the CII (Confederation of Indian Industry) and Assocham (Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry) were internally divided on the issue. This division was sharpest in Assocham, where demands for a cap on foreign equity met with strong resistance from multinational members. In the Confederation, Tarun Das launched a fierce attack on US companies, and in March 1996 a delegation led by its outgoing president Rajive Kaul met Murli Manohar Joshi, the leading proponent of 'swadeshi' in the BJP, to invite him as the chief guest at their Annual General Meeting. However, other members of the CII have protested against the anti-MNC sentiments which had been expressed in public and dissociated themselves from them.

It is important to note that this kind of business nationalism does not stand for the protection of workers' or consumers' rights; on the contrary, it is this lobby which is most vehemently opposed to regulation of any sort which would limit their right to exploit workers to the maximum, or would impose quality standards to protect consumers. And it has been linked with a cultural nationalism which reduces Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism to mere outgrowths of Hinduism, thus vitiating the critique of Brahminism inherent in these religions, while it regards Islam, Christianity, communism and feminism as alien, because they do not originate on the 'sacred' soil of India. (Interestingly, Nazism does not seem fall into this category of alien ideologies, perhaps because of its Aryan claims.) Upholding fundamental human and democratic rights too is seen by this current as an unwanted intrusion of 'foreign' influence. Thus the RSS, whose members and affiliates, along with the Shiv Sena, have been responsible for the demolition of the Babri Masjid, acts of vandalism directed against the artist M.F.Husain, innumerable anti-Muslim pogroms, and brutal attacks against Christians, also spawned the Swadeshi Jagran Manch, an organisation devoted to defending 'Indian' business interests from 'foreign' erosion. Murli Manohar Joshi treats multinationals as 'agents of imperialism' and 'symbols of subjugation', while the Swadeshi Jagran Manch, in a demonstration to drive foreign consumer goods out of the country, adopted the slogan: 'Foreigners go home'.

(3) The nationalist response of the Indian Left at times uses language which is disturbingly similar to that of the swadeshi brigade, standing up for national sovereignty against 'imperialist' domination, opposing penetration of the Indian economy by foreign capital and so forth. The CPI and CPI(M), while participating in and supporting, respectively, the United Front government in a context where its fall would almost inevitably have meant BJP rule, at the same time felt compelled to make denunciations of UF economic policy as a whole, including its acceptance of globalisation.

Most radical Left groups, whether Maoist or Trotskyist, as well as most NGOs and leaderships of other movements, such as those of displaced people, fisherpeople, etc. which have come together in the National Alliance of People's Movements, make ritualistic condemnations of multinationals, the WTO, IMF and World Bank in almost every statement, holding them responsible for virtually every evil to be found in Indian society. Their rhetoric is virtually indistinguishable from the xenophobia of the Indian right.

While this is a confused response, it does not, of course, flow from the same ideological position which is the basis of the right-wing stand. One of the basic confusions appears to be that despite their claims to a Marxist analysis, they seem unaware of Marx's conception of capital as being inherently global; they may chant "Workers of the World Unite" on demonstrations, but do not realise that the rationale for this slogan is the belief that only an international workers' movement can defeat capital. The origin of this confusion is probably the fact that late industrialisers, such as the Soviet Union, China and India itself, could only attain a degree of autonomous industrial development by protecting themselves for a certain period from domination by the existing capitalist powers. In a sense, this can be regarded as a period of primitive accumulation, where the state goes against the laws of the market in the interests of domestic industrialisation.

But this can only be a phase, it cannot last forever, nor can it be the path to industrialisation for all countries. Given the current degree of integration of the world economy, delinking from it in order to pursue a path of national capitalist development would only be achievable, if at all, by a terrifyingly authoritarian state subscribing to all the jingoistic jargon of the far right. Who else would be able to cut off the access of ordinary people to cheaper and better goods produced abroad, capital inputs which might make their lives easier by giving them jobs and commodities they want, international media, and the Internet?

Another confusion seems to be the assumption that nationalism goes together with a certain degree of state concern for social justice and popular welfare. It is certainly true that in the early post-Independence years there was such a link, but it doesn't follow that that there is any necessary connection between nationalism and social justice; on the contrary, the forces who are now most vehemently campaigning for national capitalism would also be most vehemently opposed to safeguards for the rights of workers, dalits, women, tribals and minorities, and
Indian employers have proved themselves capable of anything, up to and including murder, to prevent their workforces from unionising. For example, the Agricultural Workers' Bill, which has been before parliament for some time, and would give minimum rights to this viciously oppressed and exploited section of the working class,has so far failed to gain acceptance due to opposition from rich farmers,a purely Indian group of employers. Conversely, the current surge of globalisation is spear-headed by institutions such as the World Bank, IMF and multinationals, i.e. capitalist institutions; it should therefore cause us no surprise that that they have scant regard for workers' rights - unless, that is, they are forced to. But there is no necessary connection between deregulation of labour and welfare standards on one side and globalisation on the other; one could, conceivably, have higher standards enforced by global regulation.

So although the nationalist Left may not share all the ideological positions of the nationalist right, there is a disturbing convergence taking place under the guise of anti-imperialism. Right up to the late 1960s, "anti-imperialism" connoted global resistance against the domination of imperial powers; whether the struggle was taking place in Vietnam, Cuba, South Africa or Palestine, it was our struggle, and we identified with it. Today this global vision has been replaced by a narrow
nationalism which is a sad indication of the rightward drift of most of the Left.

(4) The internationalist response of the Indian Left is unfortunately as yet confined to a very small section which is not allied with any particular political party nor organised into a nationally recognised grouping; however, many ordinary workers, who would not identify themselves with any political current, would be sympathetic to such a standpoint. It is not an easy position to take in the ideological climate in India today, because it involves open opposition to both economic and cultural nationalism, which are now almost taken for granted as'respectable' by the entire spectrum from right to left.

Economic nationalism has to be opposed because today it means supporting national against international capital. This is both unrealistic and retrograde since national capital is a less powerful and more backward form of capital than international capital. Supporting the former against the latter involves attempting to 'roll back the wheel of history,' as the Communist Manifesto puts it, and is therefore in the strict sense reactionary; this is why so much of the Left in India has found itself shouting the same slogans as the far right, and standing shoulder to shoulder with communalists and fascists whom they should not be touching with a ten-foot pole.

The only viable way of opposing international capital is by working towards a more advanced world economy based on cooperation rather than competition, and production for human need rather than for profit. While this goal may be a long way off today, even now it is possible to begin linking together groups of people working towards it on an international basis, and start discussing strategies and intermediate objectives we can work for together, such as the definition and implementation of minimum labour and welfare standards worldwide.

Cultural nationalism is equally to be opposed. The idea that any particular national or ethnic culture is superior to all others is dangerous in the extreme and inherently fascistic. All cultures have their strengths and weaknesses, and Indian culture (if, indeed, it is legitimate to make such a broad generalisation) is no exception. There are traditions - of warmth and hospitality, readiness for friendship and artistic
creativity - which should certainly be preserved and built upon, and would be a valuable contribution to world culture. And there are other traditions - of authoritarianism and deference, superstition and multiple forms of oppression - which are certainly not worth preserving; in fact, the sooner they are eliminated the better!

On the other side, we can rightly reject alien values such as ruthless competitiveness and selfish individualism while yet acknowledging that there is much that we can admire, enjoy and learn from in other cultures. It is surely perverse to impoverish ourselves by shutting out all cultural influences outside a narrow definition of 'national culture' when we could instead enrich ourselves with all the wisdom and beauty in the world!

So we need to work towards our own, alternative definition of economic and cultural globalisation, in opposition to the definition which is being forced upon us by international capitalist institutions, and to work out strategies for reaching our goal. This can only be done through discussion and debate among those who share this vision throughout the world. The sooner this process begins, the sooner we will be able to find a third alternative to the domination of global capitalism on one side, and reactionary fascistic national capitals on the other.

Wednesday, 10 January 2018

Solar power story from India Water Portal

Solar power solves water supply issue
Makhala village in Amravati district in Maharashtra faced persistent water problems and was highly dependent on tankers to meet its water needs. Know how a water supply scheme based on solar power solved its water woes and helped women in the process.


Saving Chorao through its people: Watch this story of a how a project in Panaji, Goa is trying to save this ecologically diverse island by involving its residents in conservation efforts.         


Policy matters this week
Government approves Rs 5,369 crores to develop Haldia-Varanasi navigation waterway across Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal; NGT orders states to identify areas for collection and storage of crop residue; NABARD sanctions loans to Odisha for implementation of irrigation projects... READ ON HERE.

वैकल्पिक समाज की तलाश

वैकल्पिक समाज की तलाश

बाबा मायाराम द्वारा लिखा राष्ट्रीय विकल्प सन्गम पर लेख 

(विकल्प सन्गम  से लिया गया लेख )

संगम की सोच है कि भविष्य कैसा होगा। 
समाज, संस्कृति, राजनीति पर क्या सोच होगी।
 क्या सामूहिक दृष्टिकोण व मूल्य होंगे। 
इनकी तलाश ही विकल्प संगम की कोशिश है।

विकल्प संगम 

शंकर सिंह ने जब गीत गाया तो सब लोग झूम उठे। गीत का सार यह था कि मैंने सोना-चांदी, बंगला-गाड़ी नहीं मांगा, सिर्फ स्कूल में पढ़ाई, अस्पताल में दवाई मांगी। सूचना का अधिकार मांगा। शंकर सिंह, किसान मजदूर शक्ति संगठन के कार्यकर्ता हैं और इस संगठन ने स्थानीय स्तर से सूचना के अधिकार की मांग को राष्ट्रीय स्तर पर मान्यता दिलाई, जो बाद में कानून बना।

अरावली पहाड़ की तलहटी में राजस्थान के उदयपुर के पास विद्या भवन के प्रकृति साधना केन्द्र में विकल्प संगम आयोजित हुआ। 27 से 29 नवंबर, 2017 तक संपन्न इस संगम  को शिक्षांतर और कल्पवृक्ष ने संयुक्त रूप से आयोजित किया था जिसमें देश भर के करीब सौ प्रतिभागी शामिल हुए। प्रतिभागियों में विविध रूचियों, अलग अलग विचारधाराओं से जुड़े लोग एक साथ आए। इसमें युवा, चिंतक, शोधकर्ता व वरिष्ठ सामाजिक कार्यकर्ता शामिल थे।

विकल्प संगम के बारे में बताने से पहले यह जानना जरूरी होगा कि इसकी जरूरत क्यों है। कल्पवृक्ष के संस्थापक सदस्य आशीष कोठारी कहते हैं कि वर्तमान विकास के नकारात्मक नतीजे आ रहे हैं। पर्यावरण, समुदाय और आजीविका पर इसका प्रतिकूल प्रभाव देखा जा रहा है, इसलिए इसका विकल्प चाहिए। इस दिशा में देश भर में कई कोशिशें हो रही हैं, जो बिखरी हुई हैं। यह हमारी विविधता और समृद्धि को दर्शाती है। ऐसे विकल्प संगम का उद्देश्य हैं, हम उन्हें समझें, उन्हें अनुभव सुनें, और उन्हें एक समग्रता में सामने लाएं।
उन्होंने कहा संघर्ष करने वाले मिल जाते हैं, पर विकल्प पर काम करने वाले नहीं।  संगम की सोच है कि आगे का भविष्य कैसा होगा। समाज, संस्कृति, राजनीति पर क्या सोच होगी। क्या सामूहिक दृष्टिकोण व मूल्य होंगे। इनकी तलाश ही विकल्प संगम की कोशिश है।

विकल्प संगम में चिपको आंदोलन और बीज बचाओ आंदोलन के कार्यकर्ता विजय जड़धारी थे, जिन्होंने चिपको के अनुभव साझा किए। उन्होंने कहा कि चिपको आंदोलन 70 के दशक में हुआ। इसके बाद हरे पेड़ों के व्यावसायिक कटान पर कानूनन रोक लगी। पर्यावरण मंत्रालय बना। पर्यावरण के बारे में व्यापक चेतना जगी।  बीज बचाओ आंदोलन 80 शुरू हुआ। इसके बाद जैविक खेती की सोच बनी। परंपरागत बीजों को बचाने बीज बैंक बने। अब जैविक खेती की बात हर जगह होने लगी। विजय जड़धारी का गांव जड़धार है, वहां उनके प्रयास से सूखे व उजाड़ जंगल को फिर से हरा-भरा बनाने का अनूठा काम हुआ है।

उत्तराखंड की माटी संगठन की मल्लिका विरदी ने संगठन के अनुभव साझा किए। उनका संगठन घरेलू हिंसा के खिलाफ शुरू हुआ था, अब राजनीति में सहभागिता, वन व जल संसाधनों का प्रबंधन और बीज विविधता पर काम करता है। वे एक शहरी परिवेश से निकलकर उत्तराखंड के सरमौली गांव में रह कर महिलाओं के साथ इन्हीं सब अलग-अलग मुद्दों पर काम करती हैं।

महाराष्ट्र, गढ़चिरौली से आए मोहन हीराबाई हीरालाल ने समता, अहिंसा और प्राकृतिक संसाधनों पर राज्य की माल्कियत से मुक्ति की जरूरत जताई। उन्होंने कहा वैकल्पिक समाज में यह मूल्य समता और अहिंसा के मूल्य जरूरी हैं। टिम्बकटू कलेक्टिव के बबलू ने रंगभेद पर एक गीत गाकर इसके खिलाफ संदेश दिया।

दयपुर शिक्षांतर के मनीष जैन ने कहा कि वर्तमान शिक्षा युवाओं में निराशा का भाव पैदा करती है। वे स्वयं स्वराज यूनिवर्सिटी के माध्यम से वैकल्पिक शिक्षा का प्रयोग कर रहे हैं जिसमें स्कूल छोड़ चुके छात्र-छात्राओं को अपनी रूचि के मुताबिक पढ़ाई करने का मौका मिलता है। वे कहते हैं सभी बच्चों के अंदर एक बीज है, अगर मौका मिले तो वह बीज फल फूल सकता है। यानी बच्चों में कई तरह की प्रतिभाएं हैं, उन्हें बढ़ने का मौका मिलना चाहिए।

इस तरह देश भर में विकल्प गढ़ने में कई समूह, संस्थाएं, व्यक्ति व आंदोलन काम कर रहे हैं। नदियों,जमीनों, नदियों, जंगलों, पहाड़ों, खेती और उनको सींचने- संवारने की कोशिशें चल रही हैं। इस तरह की कई कहानियां कल्पवृक्ष की विकल्प संगम नाम की वेबसाइट पर उपलब्ध हैं और कई जगह अलिखित व बिखरी हुई हैं।
तीन दिनों तक कई वरिष्ठ कार्यकर्ताओं ने अनुभव साझा किए। वैकल्पिक राजनीति, वैकल्पिक मीडिया, पर्यावरण के कई पहलुओं, पर्यटन, लिंगभेद और वैकल्पिक चिकित्सा पर बातचीत हुई। पारम्परिक ज्ञान पर आधारित जागरण जन विकास समिति, उदयपुर के काम की चर्चा हुई।

कुल मिलाकर, यहां हुई बातचीत और समूह चर्चा से कुछ बातें मोटे तौर वैकल्पिक समाज व उसकी दृष्टि के बारे में कही जा सकती है। इसके लिए पर्यावरण, सामाजिक न्याय, लोकतंत्र, आर्थिक लोकतंत्र, ज्ञान और संस्कृति की विविधता जरूरी है।

सरल ढंग से कहें तो विकल्प विराटता में नहीं, लघुता में हैं। केन्द्रीकृत समाज की जगह विकेन्द्रीकरण पर जोर देना होगा। पर्यावरण यानी जल, जंगल, जमीन के आधिपत्य पर नहीं, साहचर्य में है। यानी उसके साथ जीने में है। धरती के साथ जुड़ाव में है, न कि उसके अतिदोहन में है। हमें ऐसा रास्ता अपनाना होगा, जिसमें पर्यावरण का कम से कम नुकसान हो। समता व बराबरी का समाज हो, शोषणमुक्त हो,  क्योंकि गैर बराबरी के समाज में तामझाम व दिखावा की संस्कृति होती है, जो ज्यादा प्रकृति का दोहन करती है। स्पर्धा नहीं परस्पर सहयोग पर आधारित समाज बनाना होगा। असीमित व अतिदोहन का नहीं बल्कि इसकी सीमा बनानी होगी।   

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National Vikalp Sangam, Udaipur: Confluence of alternatives 27-29 November, 2017


Tuesday, 9 January 2018

Cold wave in North India

Cold wave continues to grip North India, temperature drops to season’s lowest in Jammu city

Weather monitoring agency Skymet Weather said that the intense cold will prevail over Delhi and adjoining areas the next few days as winds are blowing across the northwestern plains. The cold winds are because of the active Western Disturbance, a storm originating in the Mediterranean region that brings sudden winter rain to the northwestern parts of the subcontinent.



Cold wave grips most of north India, Lucknow at 0.1° Celsius

"A severe cold wave is likely at a few places in Punjab, Haryana, Chandigarh, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan, and a cold wave at a few places in Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Vidarbha and interior Odisha during the next 2-3 days," an IMD official said, adding that north India could experience normal rainfall during the next two weeks.

"The rains would drop the speed of west-northwesterly winds from J&K due to western disturbances. This could have a combined effect on Delhi's weather and help temperatures rise," a weather expert said. Winter in the valley has been extremely harsh this season with Leh town recording the coldest night of the season at minus 17.7° Celsius.


Siberian winds give India the shivers

PUNE: The biting cold in central and north India over the past few days is the fallout of a cold blast from the Arctic.

The entire north India, parts of central India, including Maharashtra, are feeling the chill in a supposedly warm winter because of a phenomenon that weather forecasters term 'negative Arctic oscillation', which brings a blast of cold Siberian winds to the Indian region.

Higher-level winds travel from Europe and Russia via Afghanistan and Pakistan to enter northern India. Weather forecasters claimed that occasional cold spells could be frequent now till the end of winter, especially in north India.

D Sivananda Pai, the head of the National Climate Centre, India Meteorological Department (IMD), told TOI that during the positive phase of the Arctic oscillation, bitterly cold weather remains confined to the Arctic region. "When this pattern becomes negative, which is the situation at present, a reversal of winds takes place and the cold travels southwards. These cold winds have now begun to enter the regions south of the Arctic, including India, resulting in a drop in temperature," said Pai.

The amplitude of the easterly wave activity, which had earlier warmed the peninsula, including central India, has now reduced because of the strong westerly winds.

"The negative Arctic oscillation began around a week back and may continue for some time now. This means, we could expect occasional cold spells from now on in various parts of the country, especially in the north India," said Pai.

B Mukhopadhyay, additional director-general of meteorology (research), IMD, said this winter had been unusual, marked by warmer temperatures with few cold spells. "In a usual winter, cold spells keep recurring after every 10-15 days, right from December. This time, cold spells began late due to predominance of easterly wave activity," said Mukhopadhyay.

The amplitude of the easterly wave activity usually increases in El Nino years. "The strong westerly winds have now overpowered the easterly wave effect, leading to a significant temperature drop in various parts of the country," he said.


Cold takes south India by surprise

Southern parts of the country have been hit by an unexpected and unprecedented drop in temperatures.
While the government has not confirmed this, media reports claim that several people have died of the cold in Andhra Pradesh. Hyderabad saw a decline of four degrees in its maximum temperature, while its minimum temperature dropped by 2°C.
On January 18, Bengaluru recorded a maximum temperature of 30°C, which was three degree below normal. The minimum temperature in the city was 13°C, a three degree dip. Similarly, Chennai registered a three-degree reduction in its minimum temperature–17.7°C–on January 17. India Meteorological Department (IMD) Chennai, however, says though they have not looked at past drops, this certainly is one of the lowest temperature recorded in several years. The cold is, however, within bearable limits, they add and no deaths have been reported. “There has been no significant change in maximum temperature in the city,” says S R Ramanan, director of IMD Chennai. He adds that parts of Tamil Nadu in the northern part had registered a drop of 5°C, but weather was quite predictable elsewhere in the state. At around 8°C, Mysore recorded its coldest day on January 19.

Nothing new about it
Ajit Tyagi, director general of IMD, maintains that there is nothing special about this phenomenon. “Usually, the warm oceanic waves from the Bay of Bengal keep the peninsular region warm. But their absence because of lack of cyclonic activity over the water body has caused cold winds from the northern part of the country to fill in the vacuum over peninsular India,” he adds.
M Rajeevan, senior scientist at the National Atmospheric Research Laboratory in Tirupati, concurs. He adds that the current atmospheric conditions in the peninsular region are conducive for this sort of weather variation. “The sky is clear and the air is dry. In these conditions, lower surface air can cool to a great extent,” he says. Rajeevan accepts that this sort of temperature dip is unusual for the peninsular region. “However, this is a natural variation, and doesn’t qualify as an extreme weather event.” Rajeevan adds that a weather circulation pattern called Arctic Oscillation, an atmospheric circulation pattern in which the atmospheric pressure over the Polar Regions varies in opposition with that over middle latitudes, has caused severe cold conditions throughout the world, and it is possible its impact is just spilling over to southern India too. Met officials are unsure how long the cold-wave like conditions will persist across the region.
Gopal Dabade, public health activist who runs a non-profit called Jagruti in Karnataka, says, “The cold has taken everyone by surprise. It is unlike anything seen in the recent years. People are unprepared for it. The homeless on the streets are most affected.” Unlike Delhi, there are also no provisions to distribute blankets to the homeless, he adds.

Will it affect health?
Anumita Roychowdhury, head of the air pollution and clean transportation programme at the Delhi based non-profit Centre for Science and Environment, says, “This climatic variation could impact the pollution problem in south India, where cities are becoming increasingly polluted. Normally during cold weather, calm wind prevails and air doesn’t disperse as rapidly. Air is stationery and dense. As a result pollutants build up close to the ground level.”
A K Sharma, professor of community medicine at University College of Medical Sciences, Delhi, says it’s unclear what specific health problems the weather change might create for people. “Generally, winter triggers two types of health problems in adults–respiratory and gastrointestinal. Chronic lung diseases may be exaggerated and asthma attacks may become more frequent. The weather could also trigger acute respiratory infection in children. If anything other than this is noticed, epidemiological studies should be conducted to analyse the effects.” He adds that people living in households where smoke is produced by burning of fuel are at risk of eye infections and allergic conjunctivitis in this season.
La Nina effect

Meanwhile, cold weather conditions continued to hit northern India with hilly states like Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh experiencing heavy snowfall. J R Kulkarni, senior scientist at the Indian Institute of Tropical Metereology at Pune, maintains this is usual for this time of the month. D S Pai, director of the long-range forecasting division, IMD Pune, says that people are feeling colder because of dip in maximum or day temperature. He adds that La Nina, a weather phenomenon generally associated with favourable monsoons and WHICH occurs when surface temperatures are cooler than normal in the western Pacific and warmer than normal in the eastern Pacific, might have been one of the factors behind this severe cold. “Weather is complicated, and La Nina is not the most important factor to influence temperature, but our analyses have shown that it can impact mean temperature.”


Cold wave kills nearly 100 in north India

Cold wave kills nearly 100 in north India
The Disaster Management Cell has predicted snowfall beginning 12 January for over four days.
While the Himalayan region witnessed early snowfall in October, there was a two-month dry spell which ended with another snowfall on New Year’s eve

The Kashmir valley is in the grip of an intense cold wave as it witnesses forty days of harsh winter, locally called ‘Chillai Kalaan’.