March 05, 2005

Islamification of Secular Bihar : Derailment of Democracy

There is social and religious tension in Muslim dominated districts of
Bihar, the barat procession cannot use a band without the local Imam's
permission. If one has to cremate the dead body, he has practically no
other option but to carry the body 40-50 km away or they have to bury
it. Forcible marriages of Hindu girls are occurring increasingly

Source : Sentinelassam




Secular Derailment of Democracy
Dina Nath Mishra

It does not require an Einstein like brain to conclude that the
gubernatorial positions were given to infamous persons like SC Jamir, Buta
Singh and Syed Sibte Razi with pre- planned design. The Congress under
Sonia Gandhi shows inadequacy of democratic content in her personality.
The way the Goa Government has been toppled and the manner in which Shibu
Soren has been installed in Jharkhand, despite lacking in numbers and
the way in which the Congress has extended support to Lalu Prasad Yadav
shifting from immediate poll ally Ram Bilas Paswan, carries an ominous
import for the developing political scenario, derailing democracy and
its processes. All in the name of serving the cause of secularism. How
can the BJP be allowed to rule even if they have got the numbers.

Pro-UPA commentators and anchors were saddened by the so-called
division of the secular votes in Bihar and Jharkhand. This endeavour
practically camouflaged the real spirit of anti-Lalu Prasad vote generated by
triple anti-incumbency factors. Superficial debate on secularism and
communalism directly leads one to the conclusion that being pro-Muslim is a
hallmark for certified secularist. Contrary to it, those who have the
Hindu world view and take inspiration from eternal India and its
civilization are branded communal.

During elections in Bihar, Ram Bilas Paswan donned the Aligarh cap and
paraded a bin Laden-looking Muslim leader throughout the campaign. He
outsmarted his bete noire Lalu Prasad Yadav by announcing that he would
very much like a Muslim to be the Chief Minister of Bihar. By any
secular credentials he is a recognized secular leader. Why? Only because in
the competitive politics of vote-bank, his Muslim appeasement level is
higher than others. Had Atal Bihari Vajpayee not taken away the
lucrative Communication Ministry from Ram Bilas Paswan during the NDA
Government days, "Godhra and After" would have been bypassed by him too. Pandit
Jawaharlal Nehru might have developed a political weapon called
secularism but today the brand-business of secularism has been taken over by
the Marxists. Partition of the country has the stamp of the Communists,
for they never regarded India as a nation but a conglomerate of over
two dozen nationalities like that of erstwhile Soviet Union.

They provided the thesis for partition to the Muslim League. It was
under the Chief Ministership of late Com. EMS Namboodripad that a separate
Muslim majority district called Mallapuram was carved out in Kerala.
From then onward they never lagged in Muslim-appeasement, be it in the
form of facilitating and encouraging Bangladeshi infiltration or
providing citizenship and ration cards to millions of them. If this be the
criteria, they are original secularists.

Applying this criteria to Congress right from the Khilafat movement and
conceding the creation of Pakistan to this day when they offered
wholesale reservations to Muslims in the recent Andhra Pradesh election
manifesto, it too excels in secularism. Of course, the Muslim League is the
symbol of secularism. Forgetting the history of partition, the Congress
and CPM aligned with the Muslim League in Kerala alternatively. The
Muslim League never disowned its past, instead it was late Ms Indira
Gandhi who certified that the Muslim League of Kerala is different from the
party which partitioned the country.

The one and the only criteria of secularism is siding with Muslim
communalism at the cost of national interests. That is why all the secular
political formations never talk about Islamic terrorism and
fundamentalism. That is why subjects like removal of Article 370 and enactment of
common civil code became communal in spite of the fact that the removal
of Article 370 was part of the enactment itself, and a common civil
code is duly included in the Directive Principles of the Constitution
itself. Not only this, the Supreme Court of India reminded the Legislature
to enact it time and again. But the secular parties for their Muslim
vote bank ganged up against it and the wishes of the founding fathers of
the Constitution became communal. You must have never heard any protest
or even criticism of massive Bangladeshi infiltration which in fact
tantamounts to demographic aggression. Illegal immigration is a problem in
dozens of countries but there it is like the trickling of drops.!
Whereas in India, it is like torrents, which have created numerous
problems including that of law and order. Secular character of these
political formations do not allow them to see and speak the truth. Nobel
Laureate VS Naipaul while delivering the key-note address on "India -
Between Identity and Ideals" at New Delhi at the "India Today conclave"
just last week, said, "India vitally needs to arrive at an understanding
of its history," but was of the view that this "soul-searching" should
be free of "far-off ideas such as secularism and antiquated foreign
ideas like fascism" which "sound modern but explain nothing."

Secularism is a Christian construct to resolve the problem of
intra-Christian conflicts. It cannot deal with the problems arising out of
Sematic religion and that of traditional India with five millennium long
history of civilization breathing respect for all religions. Sematic
religions have exploited this limitless tolerance of traditional India. That
is why Sir Vidiya points out that secularism sounds modern but explains
nothing in the Indian context. It may not explain anything but it has
served the political purpose of various parties. Semi-literate
commentators and anchors talk of "division of secular votes". There are
self-proclaimed secular parties. There are leaders with the secular image
howsoever hollow the word may be.

But to talk of the secular voter is utmost absurdity. We all know that
in Bihar there are casteist voters, there are backward and forward
voters. But secular voters, where are they? Mainstream voters of
traditional India mostly have respect for all religions. In spite of grave
provocations they remain tolerant towards believers of Sematic religions. But
this can't be said about Muslims. There is social and religious tension
in Muslim dominated districts of Bihar, the barat procession cannot use
a band without the local Imam's permission. If one has to cremate the
dead body, he has practically no other option but to carry the body
40-50 km away or they have to bury it. Forcible marriages of Hindu girls
are occurring increasingly. Certainly those who indulge in such
activities or give silent consent thereto cannot be called secular voters. This
is Muslim communalism in extreme. Pretenders of secularism are actually
supporters of this type of fanatic communalism.

March 04, 2005

Old civilization in Mahanadi valley: imperative of janajaati itihaasa

Chattisgarh is crucial to an understanding of the interactions among
the people of Ganga basin and Godavari basin. The routes through
Chattisgarh help bypass Vindhya ranges. Mahanadi flows east from
Chattisgarh; Narmada flows west. Both the river systems could have
helped interactions among the maritime people of the west and east
coasts. That Vindhya were a barrier which separated aryan north and
dravidian south is a fraud perpetrated by indologists out to denigrate
hindu cultural unity which linke Rames'waram and Manasarovar.

The archaeology of Chattisgarh is a remarkable gateway which explains
the Bali yatra and the presence of the largest vis.n.u mandiram of the
world in Angkor Wat (Nagara Vatika) in Cambodia. Mahanadi valley also
explains why Jagannatha and Balarama are venerated in Orissa -- yes,
Balarama and Krishna from Dwaraka of Gujarat.

A great staging point for a riverine, maritime civilization
exemplified by Nahali on the banks of River Tapati, not far from
Bhimbhetka.

We certainly need an Itihaasa Bharati to study the contributions made
by janajaati to hindu thought and culture.

Dhanyavaadah.

K.

Historians stumble upon old civilisation

Priya Ranjan Sahu

Sambalpur, March 1, 2005|21:30 IST

The Mahanadi Valley, stretching from Hirakud dam in Sambalpur to the
Tikarpada gorge in Angul, was home to a complete and continuous
sequence of ancient cultures, ranging from the Neolithic phase (2000
BC) to the Early Historic Period (200 BC).

The PG department of history at Sambalpur University unearthed this.
"The result of the investigations, which began in 1993, has nullified
the longstanding hypothesis that this part of hinterland Orissa
remained secluded for a long period from the mainstream cultural
development, and that human culture and civilisation penetrated here
only recently," said P.K. Behera, Reader in the department, who
carried out most of the excavations and explorations.

From February 6 to February 25, a research team led by Behera camped
near Dhalapur Ghat under Atthmallik sub-division of Angul. They dug up
rare Iron Age house foundations, earthern utensils and remains of
humans and animals.

On the last day Prof Sadhu Charan Panda, vice-chancellor of Utkal
Culture University, Prof D. Chopdar, head of Sambalpur University's
history department, and his colleague Prof P.K. Naik, joined them.
After surveying the excavations, they said they had stumbled upon a
new chapter for researchers.

Research conducted during 2003 in Sonepur's Badmal Asurgarh area, near
the Harihar stream, a tributary of the Mahanadi, revealed that the
site was first inhabited by iron-using people dating back to about
1000 BC and the settlement continued to exist during the Early
Historic Period (200 BC), when the site turned into a very large
gemstone bead manufacturing centre in Orissa.

During the period the site was provided with massive earth
fortification walls on all four sides. The stone bead-makers mostly
exploited locally available raw materials like beryls, aquamarine,
ruby and other semi precious stones. "Whether the gem beads of Badmal
were exported to the outside world requires further archio-scientific
investigation, which is under way," Behera said. According to him,
charcoal samples from the site were sent to the Kiev University of
Germany for radiocarbon dating. The results demonstrated that the site
was occupied between 1000 BC and 200 BC.

During Iron Age and the Early Historic Period, the ancient settlers
had close socio-cultural interaction with other contemporary cultures
of the middle Mahanadi Valley and beyond. Cultural remains from other
sites in the region confirm this.

Unfortunately, most of the sites were badly damaged during the
post-Hirakud dam construction period. This is particularly revealed
from Dhalapur Ghat site, where only 10 per cent of the settlement was
available for archaeological investigation. "Almost 90 per cent has
been completely washed away by the river in the last 50 years," Behera
said.

In the belly of the Mahanadi Valley

Excavations in Angul have thrown up evidence that negates previously
held belief that human culture and civilisation entered Orissa only
recently The excavating team has dug up rare Iron Age house
foundations, earthern utensils and remains of humans and animals
Research conducted in Sonepur in 2003 had revealed that the site was
first inhabited by iron-using people dating back to about 1000 BC. The
settlement continued to exist during the Early Historic Period (200
BC) Unfortunately, most sites were damaged in the post-Hirakud dam
construction period

http://www.hindustantimes.com/news/181_1263454,0006.ht

Tyaag: Sonia style - Prez Rule in Goa

I really am amazed at the audacity of Sonia Gandhi. She is rapidly appearing to me Indira-II. Some of her decisions have been extremely unethical, but nevertheless daring. The president's rule in Goa is reflective of her audacity and daring. Consider the following facts.

(a) "I have 272".
(b) Her attempts to overturn the last poll results in Chattisgarh by encouraging defection. Her plan was caught on tape.
(c) Her ability to have her guy as CM in Karnataka and Maharashtra, even though in both these states, Congress has less MLAs than their alliance partners, JD-S and NCP, respectively.
(e) Winning Goa from BJP.
(d) Recent attempts in Jharkhand, and Bihar.

She is no goongi-gudia. Rather, she appears to have been raised in a true Machiavellian tradition. The unfortunate thing is that I do not see her Chanakya equivalent from the Indian end. The President rule in Goa is a reflects her extreme adroitness on matters related to politics. Consider this:

a) There is pandemonium over Jharkhand. Congress is labelled as corrupt and immoral. Fingers are being raised at Sonia.

b) In Goa vidhan sabha, Congress wins vote of confidence, only because a BJP supporter was not allowed to vote. So a month for now, in a re-vote session, Congress could very well lose Goa. Also, fingers are raised at Congress because a BJP guy was disenfranchised.

c) Enter Sonia. She imposes president's rule in Goa. So Congress still retains Goa. In next 6 months, they can work on some MLAs and win them. Once that is done, you have a "stable" Congress sarkar in Goa. And SOnia gets praised for upholding finest constitutional traditions, because she did not agree with the disenfranchisement of BJP MLA in Goa.

d) For Jharkhand, there may be another scenario. Kalam has advised Rizvi to advance the vote-of-confidence. But there is not a word on the issue of Soren nominating the Anglo-Indian before the vote-of-confidence. It could very well happen that the vote of confidence takes place in 3-4 days, but an Anglo-Indian guy gets nominated even before that. Soren still wins. BJP stands out like a sore loser. And RSS's work gets demolished in Jharkhand by a secular sarkar.

Nachiketa

Stop this nonsense about our great democracy

T V R Shenoy
Rediff

March 03, 2005


At the recent meeting of the finance ministers of G-7 countries, to
which India and China were invited, the finance minister of China
looked in my direction and told the gathering that China had received
US $500 billion worth of foreign investment since China opened its
economy in 1980. Of this, nearly US $60 billion came in calendar
2004.' As you may recall, this was P Chidambaram in his Budget speech.

The Union finance minister did not tell the House about his response
to this challenge. 'Democracy,' he told the delegates of the world's
wealthiest nations, 'is a powerful tool for inducing transparency and
accountability in economic policy.' Neither the finance minister nor
any other representative of India shall be able to make such a
preposterous claim again. If they do, the smiling Chinese can shut
them up with two words, namely 'Jharkhand' and 'Goa'. And if that
does not suffice they can simply mention 'Syed Sibtey Razi' and 'S C
Jamir.'

The marauders of democracy

I hope Sonia Gandhi is proud of her men. Both Prime Minister Manmohan
Singh and Home Minister Shivraj Patil were left blushing at the
idiocy and blatant partisanship demonstrated by the two governors.
Rumour has it that Syed Sibtey Razi acted in a hurry precisely
because he wanted to forestall any action by the prime minister. (Dr
Manmohan Singh had been fairly 'receptive' hours earlier when a BJP
delegation met him to complain about the Jharkhand governor's
behaviour.)

How did Syed Sibtey Razi arrive at the conclusion that Jharkhand
Mukti Morcha supremo Shibu Soren should be chief minister? The BJP-
Janata Dal-United alliance had won 36 seats in the assembly. Five
independent MLAs -- Sudesh Mahato, Chandra Prakash Chowdhary, Hari
Narain Rai, Enos Ekka, and Madhu Koramet -- had told the governor in
person that they would support the BJP-Janata Dal-United coalition.
That adds up to 41 MLAs. There was no way that Shibu Soren could have
claimed a majority given that there are only 81 seats in the assembly.

Confronted with the arithmetic, Syed Sibtey Razi told the BJP and
Janata Dal-United leaders that he wanted to meet all the 12
Independent MLAs who had just been elected. This was a lie. What he
actually did was to hold an hour-long conference behind closed doors
with Shibu Soren and Harikesh Bahadur, the Congress leader in
Jharkhand. This was immediately followed by a communique saying that
Shibu Soren would be sworn in as chief minister in a few hours.

Why the BJP is smiling

So, what proof did Soren, aided and abetted by Harikesh Bahadur,
present that sounded so convincing to Syed Sibtey Razi's ears? We do
not know. In fact, we shall not know until March 21 since that is the
date set by the governor for Soren to prove his majority. In other
words, Syed Sibtey Razi knows it will take three weeks at the very
least for Soren to manufacture the majority that the voters of
Jharkhand denied him. The electorate was so anti-Soren in its mood
that Shibu Soren's sons lost the two assembly seats allotted to them.

Of course, there is no guarantee that Shibu Soren shall actually be
required to demonstrate his support even on March 21. Syed Sibtey
Razi has, if he so requires, a precedent in the form of the
shenanigans in Goa. Pro-tem Speaker Francisco Sardinha's office said
that a communique has been received from the governor saying the
confidence vote would be held on Friday, March 4.

At the time of writing I have no idea if this shall actually happen.
Rane himself is so unsure about his following that he has offered to
do so not by March 4 but at some unspecified time before March 28.
This, the Congress leader says piously, shall give the Election
Commission enough time to hold by-elections to six assembly seats.

'The Congress has no role in this'

I have no idea if the Election Commission shall agree to this crazy
schedule. But one thing stands out thanks to Pratap Sinh Rane's
latest brainwave. He has implicitly admitted what we knew all along,
namely that the Congress and its allies simply do not possess a
majority in the Goa assembly. That in turn means that Governor S C
Jamir was willingly party to a fraud when he made Rane the chief
minister of Goa on February 2.

Many people were happy to shed crocodile tears over the 'murder of
democracy' in neighbouring Nepal after King Gyanendra dismissed his
prime minister. Let us now stop talking nonsense about India's great
love for democracy and the sanctity of elections. S C Jamir and Syed
Sibtey Razi have thrown a pail of manure on the Constitution, and
until their sin is redeemed we have no right to preach to Nepal.

May I end by noting that Mulayam Singh Yadav would do well to take
care? Sonia Gandhi's men are already saying it is only a matter of
time before there is a change in Uttar Pradesh. After Goa and
Jharkhand we all know what that means.

The Congress leopard and its ugly spots

Editorial

Publication: Free Press Journal

Date: March 4, 2005


A leopard cannot change its spots. Nor can the Congress Party give up
its old wicked ways. It remains so obsessed with power that it can do
anything to grab it. The party which had subverted the Constitution to
obliterate all traces of democracy for 19 months back in 1975-77
remains at its core an authoritarian organization, compulsively paying fealty
to One family. One Leader. Congress men, high and low, can have
little or no faith in a democratic process which is predicated on the
periodic expression of the free will of ordinary people as determined through
the ballot box. The Fuhrer like Supreme Leader of the Congress Party
is either intrinsically impervious to the demands of the democratic
process or gets easily misled by the cringing sycophancy of her
opportunistic brood into riding roughshod over all that is decent and proper in
the country's public life. Either way, the result is an affront to good
democratic, nay constitutional behaviour.



Just for starters notice how the right of the newly-elected legislators
in Haryana has been misappropriated by the Congress Fuhrer to foist her
own nominee as the leader of the State. Sonia Gandhi was not a
candidate in the Haryana election. Bhajan Lal, Bhoopinder Singh Hooda and a
couple of others aspiring to the CM's gaddi were . Why wouldn't she
allow the newly-constituted Congress Legislature Party to elect its leader
and thus help breathe a modicum of internal democracy in the dormant
party is a question her sycophants, who rule the roost in her name,
wouldn't let any of the new MLAs to bring to their lips. Sonia Gandhi and
not then people of Haryana through their elected representatives, would
name the new CM.



The greater crime against the people and the Constitution is committed
by the Congress leadership when it enlists the State Governors as its
agents in various Raj Bhawan. There seems to be a competition between
the Governor in Panjim and in Ranchi as to who will inflict more scorn
more damage on the statute and thus earn a pat from the imperial mansion
at 10 Janpath. The Jharkhand Governor, one Syed Sibte Razi, will go
down in the history of free India as one of the most undeserving persons
ever to have occupied that high constitutional office. In installing
Shibu Soren as the Chief Minister of the State, he committed a grave
atrocity against the Constitution. Soren did not have the numbers. Nor
had he emerged as the leader of the largest group after the recent
election. Even after taking into account the post election support of the
seven RJD legislators, he had fewer MLAs on his side than the rival
BJP-led alliance. The outgoing CM Arjun Munda had staked his claim and !
furnished foolproof evidence of a majority in the 81 member House.
Five independent MLAs who had committed to support the Munda Government
duly presented themselves before the Governor.



As a minor Congress politician, Razi made his anger at their support to
the BJP-led government very plain but the Governor Razi was duty-bound
by his oath to the high office to take note of their assurance to
support Munda and thus invite the latter to form the government. But Razi
was under orders from the agents of the Fuhrer to invite Soren and Soren
alone for government formation, regardless whether he had the requisite
support in the House. And this is what the doormat of a Governor did.
The Constitution was raped first in Goa. And now in Jharkhand. The
paid butchers of the Congress Party can draw sustenance from the fact that
the imperious, nose-in-the-sky denizen of 10 Janpath would reward them
for the loyalty to the Firm by throwing bigger crumbs from her table.



Where was the gentleman-PM when the Constitution was brutally shredded
by the keepers of the Congress Party interests installed by that
clueless Home Minister, Shivraj Patil, after cutting short the terms of the
previous incumbents? Newspaper reports had it that our head Babu-as-PM
was pushing some files when his bosses at 10 Janpath played Holi with
the sacred statute,. He neither had the intellectual honesty to try and
stall the constitutional coup in Jharkhand nor the courage to counsel
restraint to his bosses in the Congress Party. H would have merrily go
about playing the puppet-OM while unscrupulous and corrupt elements in
his party pulled all the strings. A gentleman-PM without a sense of
self-respect and dignity can do precious little to protect the country
against the ravages of the rampaging Congressmen. And thus undermine the
sanctity of the high office he holds.



What next? Well, the congress Party, true to its authoritarian
instincts, has played right into the hands of the opposition NDA. The Lok
Sabha Speaker, Somnath Chatterjee can be blind to the mood in the House,
but it will be a surprise if the present session can be extricated from
the mess in which the extension-counters of the Congress Party in
various Raj Bhawan have landed it by their atrocious actions. As the
leader of the CPI(M) in the Lok Sabha, Chatterjee invariably mistook his
loud voice for sound reason and wisdom; we hope he does not carry on in
that vein in the Speaker's Office. Meanwhile, it is amusing to see Rahul
Gandhi break his parliamentary silence in halting, rehearsed words by
lamenting the apparent loss of money due to the disruption of normalcy
in the two Houses. Well, he might profit from learning the simple theory
of cause of effect.

Meet the Joker ,Rahul Gandhi , as Satyagrahi

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com




Rahul is yet to make a speech in the Lok Sabha, but he didn't disappoint TV crews. He came up with measured but pointed soundbytes. "We have come to learn here, but that is not being allowed," the 34-year-old first-termer said.

He appealed to the opposition stalwarts not to "disrupt and destroy the parliamentary process".

"If you want to protest, do that, but allow the House to continue," he said. He pointed out that the adjournments over the past few days had already cost the exchequer Rs 52 crore.

With disapproval of governor Sibtey Razi's action mounting, Rahul's political activism did divert attention as photographers clicked merrily. But soon enough, Jharkhand was centre-stage again as NDA leaders with 41 MLAs marched to Rashtrapati Bhavan.





Public reaction

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/opinions/1040126.cms#top0

Meet Rahul Gandhi, the satyagrahi
NEW DELHI: Rahul sat below the statue of Mahatma, holding posters decrying the "desecration of the temple of democracy".

Indiatimes Id:pkheruka
Quite absurd, trying to protect "democracy" in Parliament, while stabbing it in Jharkhand! Does he have no respect at all for the Indian voters' sensibilities?
Friday, March 04, 2005 11:23:10 am


Indiatimes Id:aremar
The protest against democracy is laudable But will it be done for Jarkand attempt by Gocernor as well
Friday, March 04, 2005 07:20:37 am


Indiatimes Id:srajesha
This is height of hypocracy what he is doing. why dont he protest about Governor action that is the cause of this that is working like a congress employee
Friday, March 04, 2005 05:36:53 am


Indiatimes Id:venkat_pillai
instead of putting heading as statyagrahi. it should have been "Meet another idiot from the Nehru/Gandhi family" shameless and unrepentent on muredering democracy
Friday, March 04, 2005 05:25:35 am


Indiatimes Id:dandeepak
If he truly means what he says, he needs to hold his satyagraha infront of the PM office, in front of the congress president's ofic, and in front of his italian mother. jai hind
Friday, March 04, 2005 04:29:47 am


Indiatimes Id:johnwon
I don't understand why Rahul Gandhi is giving so much importance. What has he really done. He and his mother use the 'Ghandhi' name wrongly. They are not Mahathma Gandhi's relatives they are Feroz Gandhi and Indhira, both crooks.
Friday, March 04, 2005 03:23:25 am


Indiatimes Id:siril9
what an ass licker this article is. obssesstion with the DYNASTY is unpardonable.please stop licking asses
Friday, March 04, 2005 02:47:12 am


Indiatimes Id:oocares
In the din of Parliament disruptions, I hope Mr Rahul Gandhi heard the cries of Indian Constitution being raped in Jharkhand even while it was in the process of bing disrobed in Bihar! I hope he takes tomorrow off again with the 20 usual junior artistes he hired today and advocates the cause of Democracy again.
Friday, March 04, 2005 02:24:22 am


Indiatimes Id:premendra_in
Why not Rahul & Co. protest against Razi & Jamir In his first political action outside Amethi, Rahul and a band of 20-odd young Congress MPs sat below the statue of Mahatma Gandhi, holding posters decrying the "desecration of the temple of democracy". Because of them Glady Staines got padmashree and Kanchi Mutt Seer got jail. BJP MP Ravi Shankar Prasad sneered: "These people have killed democracy first, now they want to save it! Rahul Gandhi does not know what his grandmother (then prime minister Indira Gandhi) did in 1975 imposing emergency rule. Now his mother Sownia Gandhi is also doing it." Rahul is yet to make a speech in the Lok Sabha, but he didn't disappoint TV crews. He came up with measured but pointed soundbytes. "We have come to learn here, but that is not being allowed," the 34-year-old first-termer said. People want to know participation record of these Congress dynastic children in parliament. Rahul Gandhi & Co. staged a sit-in outside Parliament. They are sorry not to go training classes in parliament! Are these dynasic youths not wasting time & money of peple? How Rahul could get M.Phil without being B.A.? How her mother passed in cambrige without attending classes there? Sonia & Rahul did not kidnap Kislay but they kidnapped bogus degrees Sonia did not take admission in Cambridge, but publicized through affidvit that she was studying in Cambridge. Subramanyam Swamy filed an case in Supreme Court in this regard. Rahul is M. Phil without being B.A. Is it possible? Running Bogus Engineering Company An obscure engineering company with a near-invisible office on Arthur Bunder Road in Colaba has bagged some of the biggest and most prestigious building projects in Mumbai, when Shinde was CM. The office of Backups is in Puran Nivas on Arthur Bunder Road, Colaba. But it is so nondescript, even the watchman of the building doesn't know it exists. What the watchman does know, however, is that the office of 'Rajani Associate' is on the fourth floor and that one could check there. The glass door of Rajani Associate reveals a huge name stamped on the walls inside: Backops Engineering. Rahul Gandhi's Mumbai millions of Brief of news report dated May 27, 2004, under heading Rahul Gandhi's Mumbai millions Rahul is back on the shaadi scene Waiting list Katrina: 19-year old model and wanna shine actress Celina: Miss India Kareena: daughter of the Kapoor khandan Juvenitta: Suits him fine! For all the luscious babes who swoon over Rahul, our man is already hooked, lineed and sinkered by a mystery lady from Columbia. comindia2004@epatra.com
Friday, March 04, 2005 01:57:50 am


Indiatimes Id:sewlani

where was rahul gandhi, when his own congress party was disturbing the proceedings of parliments on the issue of tehelka tapes. why his party was not concerned about waste of public money and precious time. this is called DOUBLE STANDARDS of CONGRESS PARTY
Friday, March 04, 2005 01:56:23 am

Denying entry to Ambedkar was a big mistake, admits temple

Denying entry to Ambedkar was a big mistake, admits temple
The Indian Express
Rakshit Sonawane
2nd March, 2004

Grandson of priest who prevented Dalit icon's entry into shrine says
incident made leader quit the Hindu fold

Seventy-five years ago (on March, 2, 1930 at 3.00 p.m.) about 15,000
Dalits marched towards the 212 years-old historic Kala Ram temple (known
for its black idols of Lord Ram. Laxman and Sita) at Panchavati . Their
mission was to enter the temple for darshan of their God.

The first batch of 125 men and 25 women broke up into four groups and
gathered at the fours doors of the temple's courtyard, while thousand
watched helplessly from a distance. However, the then priest of the
temple Ramdasbuwa Pujari refused then entry on grounds that they were
untouchables.

The doors of the temples were shut and the agitators decided to perform
a satyagraha at the doors.

The stir led by Dr. B R Ambedkar and his close associate from Nashik
Bhaurao alias Dadasaheb Gaikwad continued for five years during which
Ambedkar decided to convert to some other religion.

After 75 years, Ramdasbuwa Pujari's grandson Mahant Sudhir Pujari says
"it was a big mistake" which ultimately made Ambedkar to convert. Sudhir
Pujari is the priest and trustee of the temple as well as Mahant of the
Janasthan Peeth of the Nirvani Akhadad.

"I think it was a big social mistake" he told The Indian Express, "If I
would have been in my grandfather's place I would have thought
judiciously and permitted entry to all irrespective of caste."

Sudhir, who was made the Mahant by the Nirvani Akhada during the last
Kumbh mela, is the much sought after priest for major functions not only
in Nashik but from different parts of the country.

"If my grandfather would have permitted entry to Dalits," he says,
"Ambedkar would have stayed in the Hindu fold and there would not have
been a division of Hindus."

He said that subsequently, his grandfather and Gaikwad became friends
and the former even donated Rs. 11,000 for the latter's election fund.
"But the damage had been done."

Sudhir belongs to the 27th generation of priests conducting rituals at
the temple and wants to undo what has been done, in his own way.

"You may consider this as a malam-patti (dressing of a wound) by a
grandson on wounds inflicted by his grandfather," he says, "I have
decided to adopt 25 Dalit students and 25 tribal students on behalf of
Janasthan Peeth to somehow undo the mistake committed."

He says that as Peethadhishwas of the Janasthan Peeth he would take the
responsibility of bringing up 50 children and educating them properly.
Sudhir had taken special efforts on the occasion of the birth centenary
of Gaikwad in 2002 to push a proposal to erect a plaque in front of the
temple to acknowledge the historic Satyagraha.

The temple trust had even passed a resolution to install the plaque.
However, the go-ahead for the installation of the plague had mired in
red tape with the social welfare department of the state government
that's wears by the name of Ambedkar and social justice.

To commemorate the 75th anniversary of the historic event, the
Republican Party of India has organized a procession from B D Bhalkar
High School to the temple, while BJP has organized a rally from Rajwada
area (Dalit settlement) to the temple.

It may be recalled that the Kalaram temple-entry satyagraha proved to
be turning in Ambedhar's life and Dalit politics.

During the styagraha, some agitators suggested that Dalits should
convert to Islam and teach a lesson to Hindus. However, Ambedkar
rejected the demand.

In 1935, Ambedkar announced at a meeting in Yeola (82 km from Nashik)
that though he was born a Hindu, he would not be a Hindu.

Though the temple was thrown open to Dalits by law later, he had made up
his mind and converted to Buddhism in 1956.

March 03, 2005

Amartya Sen exposed by Chinese victim of Mao

Comment by Ashok Chowgle

This whole thing about the rate of growth of life expectancy slowing
down shows how statistics can be used - the way a drunkard uses an
electric pole, for support and not illumination. If the rate of growth
is to remain the same, then sometime in the future, man will live for
eternity!

But then only intellectuals can make such a stupid statement as Sen has
done.

Re the remark by Weijian Shan, namely: "We used to admire India", should
be considered a huge public slap in the face of Sen. We have such
shameless intellectuals in India!




An 'Annie Hall' Moment
A Nobel Prize-winning economist spouts off, and a Chinese survivor sets

him straight.

Monday, February 21, 2005 12:01 a.m. EST

In the Woody Allen movie "Annie Hall," a character is sounding off about the Canadian media theorist Marshall MacLuhan when the subject himself appears and says: "Excuse me, I'm Marshall MacLuhan. You know nothing of my work." Woody Allen then turns to the audience and asks, "don't you wish life were like that?"

In Hong Kong last week it was Nobel Prize economist Amartya Sen doing the sounding off, praising the state medical system in China under the Cultural Revolution. Mr. Sen asserted that Maoist China had actually made great strides in medicine, bringing down child mortality rates and prolonging life expectancy. Moving to a privatized system was making the system less fair and efficient, said the Nobel laureate, who's behind many U.N. economic works, such as the much-heralded "Human Development Index."

To back up his remarkable claim, Mr. Sen said that the rate of growth in life expectancy in China was slowing down. Or at least it was doing so compared to India, which is catching up with China in life expectancy. " The gap between India and China has gone from 14 years to seven [since 1979] because of moving from a Canada like system to a U.S. like system," said Mr. Sen, adding that he thought this change by China was a mistake.

But, alas, there was someone in the audience who actually had lived through the Cultural Revolution in China, and had been one of Mao's "barefoot doctors." He didn't see things quite the same way as Mr. Sen. In fact, he said the comments had quite surprised him.

"I observed with my own eyes the total absence of medicine in some parts of China. The system was totally unsustainable. We used to admire India ," said Weijian Shan, now a banker in Hong Kong. Mr. Shan then added an anecdote that tickled the audience, telling how when he first visited Taiwan in the 1980s and saw young medical school graduates serving in the countryside, he thought to himself, "China ought to copy Taiwan." Mr. Shan added, about Mao's medicine, "If they had made the system optional, nobody would have opted for it."



Mr. Sen might have thought he was going to have an easy audience. He was , after all, introduced by a local American resident--a member of Democrats Abroad--who praised his work as something President Bush should read , so he would learn that supporting freedom required more than just sending in the Marines. And indeed, after Mr. Sen's observations--NATO is partly responsible for Third World debt and for turning back Africa's democratic evolution; more people died of AIDS on Sept. 11, 2001, than in the terrorist attack; Social Security, the U.S. pension system, is not at a crisis point--it seemed that it was going to be a onesi ded afternoon. Except for the man in the audience who actually had lived through that glorious Maoist era, and who provided the Annie Hall moment.

Proselytisers run amok in Orissa

Source :
Mystery death of Orissa schoolgirl; parents charge missionaries with harassment
From Sanjay Jena in Dhenkanal & Deepak Kumar Rath in Delhi

This is the ugly face of proselytising missionaries. They wanted an innocent family in Rameswarpur of Dhenkanal district in Orissa to convert to Christianity. As the family refused to shun their religion, their 14-year-old daughter, Jyotirmayee, was allegedly raped and killed and her mutilated body thrown to a nearby railway crossing in Dhenkanal.

This is the story of Alekh Bej family’s tryst with missionaries. “One day, three Christian leaders, Prashant Ghose, D. V. John Sarangi and Rabi Naik alias D'Souza came to my home and asked me to convert to their religion, Christianity,” Shri Bej said and added that they promised him help in the form of money and material in his only daughter Jyotirmayee’s marriage. However, Shri Bej turned down their proposal.

Then the local Church mandarins made a second attempt trying to allure Shri Bej’s wife Yasoda. “‘If you change over to Christianity, your daughter could get a good bridegroom as there are many well-to-do persons in our religion,’ Rabi Naik told me,” said a weeping Yasoda to Organiser and added that on that day, Shri Naik had threatened her with dire consequences if her family did not adopt Christianity.

Following this threat, Bej’s daughter Jyotirmayee, a student of Class VIII in Saudamini Smruti Vidyapeeth, was reported missing from her school. Jyotirmayee’s friends intimated her family about this. A concerned father went to the police station and reported the matter. But the local police did not take it seriously. The next morning, Jyotirmayee’s naked mutilated body was found on the railway tracks. With ample circumstantial evidence of Jyotirmayee being raped and murdered, the local people staged a road blockade demanding the arrest of the culprits.

In the FIR filed in the police station, Shri Alekh Bej has categorically mentioned names of Raju Naik, Rabi Naik and Ranjan Naik. “As I refused to convert, I had to face this consequence,” Shri Bej told Organiser.

Shri Jual Oram, Orissa BJP president, while talking to Organiser, said that the state BJP had sent a special delegation to Dhenkanal to enquire into the matter. BJP state organising secretary, Panchanana Rout, BJP vice president Nayan Mohanty, general secretary Suresh Pujari, Rajya Sabha MP Rudra Narayana Pani, former MP Anadi Sahoo, Mahila Morcha president Sanchita Mohanty and Mahila Morcha national secretary Simantini Jena were in the team and they discussed the issue with the Dhenkanal SP, local police and the public. Shri Oram said that due to carelessness on part of the local police the issue had gone to the extent that the state BJP would raise it in Parliament in the coming session. He added that this was an exposure of the missionary activities in the state as they were involved in conversio the state as they were involve the state as they were involved in conversioposure of the missionary activities in the state as the state as they were involved in conversioposure of the missionary activities in the state as they were involved in conversio the state as they were involv the state as they were involved in conversioposure of the missionary activities in the state as t the state as they were involved in conversioposure of the missi the state as they were involved in conversioposure of the missiP Legislative Party leader and senior minister, Bishwabhushan Harichandan, Revenue Minister Manmohan Samal, Prant Pracharak of RSS Ajit Mahapatra and other senior leaders of both the BJP and Hindu Jagaran Samukhya were present. Shri Harichandan, while talking to Organiser, said: “Every effort should be made to nab the culprit.” He said it was very suspicious that no lady doctor was present while the post mortem of the girl was being done.

Reacting to the incident, Shri Ashok Sahoo, president, Hindu Jagaran Samukhya, told Organiser that the Christian missionaries in Orissa were on a conversion spree to achieve their target by hook or by crook. Such inhuman tactics to get innocent Oriyas converted to Christianity by exploiting their poverty indicates that these missionaries can go to any extent. They appear to be emboldened after the UPA government came to power in the Centre. Shri Sahoo along with Girish Mahanta, state organising secretary, Hindu Jagaran Samukhya and Girish Mahanta met Sanjay Joshi, general secretary, BJP. Shri Joshi assured them that a Central team would be visiting Orissa to make an on-the-spot enquiry into the incidents of violence and conversion by the missionaries in Orissa.

“Christian organisations are on a warpath-accept their religion or face the music,” said what Subash Chouhan, state convenor of Bajrang Dal. Shri Chouhan identified the NGOs like Seventh Day Adventist (SDA), Merry Welfare Organisation and Baptist Church, who are working with foreign funds in Dhenkanal district and alluring people to switch over to Christianity. If they fail to allure, force is their alternative weapon, Shri Chouhan pointed out.

Though the body of Jyotirmayee was found on February 17, till February 21 no one was arrested. The Bej family is unable to understand the inaction on the part of police to arrest the culprits. The Bej family has accused the police station incharge, Jyoti Ranjan Mohapatra, and DSP Mandardhar Sahoo of conniving with the culprits and allowing them to go scot-free. With district SP on leave, the law perhaps is yet to take its course.

Decision was changed after the directive of Sonia Gandhi

Title: Decision was changed after the directive of Sonia Gandhi
Author: Ravindra Dani
Publication: Mumbai Tarun Bharat

Date: March 3, 2005



New Delhi: 2nd.

The Jharkhand Governor neglected the claim of NDA and swore in Shibu
Soren after getting a directive from Sonia Gandhi that a harsh action
should be taken against Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, BJP and the leaders
of these parties.



A clear indication had been given from the government quarters that the
BJP will get the opportunity of forming the government. BJP President,
Advani had discussions yesterday and today morning with Home Minister
Shivraj Patil. These discussions had taken place in a hot atmosphere.
Advani had warned Shivraj Patil that Central Government should not play
any stratagems there, otherwise it will have serious consequences. Patil
told Advani that BJP's claim will not be disregarded. He told Advani
that he will contact him before the parliament is convened at 11 a. m.
tomorrow.



Sonia's directive



After discussions with Advani, Shivraj Patil discussed regarding
Jharkhand with Sonia Gandhi. At that time she told to take a firm stand
against RSS, BJP and Advani
. After her directive, on the instance of Central
Government, Governor Syed, Sibte Razi invited Shibu Soren to form the
government.



Two-three months back, Shibu Soren had absconded. Today the turn of
getting absconded was that of the PM. PM was not traceable for some hours
in the afternoon. Opposition leader Advani had tried to contact PM
after Shibu Soren was invited to form the Government in Jharkhand. When his
office phoned PM's office in the Parliament Bhavan, it was told that
the PM was at 7 Race Course Road i.e. his residence. When contact was
made there, it was told that it will be found out where the PM is and then
informed to Advani's office. After contacting again, it was told that
we are still searching for him. At least for some hours PM was not
traceable.

Sonia Gandhi introducing Italian Math to India

So the Sonia and her pet Shibu Soren don't have the numbers after all. He simply thought he could bluff his way through for three weeks and then buy are intimidate the MLAs necessary-- or murder, which is not unknown to him

This is not the first time that First Lady has tried this trick. Who can forget her telling President Narayanan that she had the numbers to form the government in 1999. Her numbers were phoney and the bluff failed.

This fact should be brought to public attention: she is a gambler who plays the game of bluff (like 'sacrifice' when she was legally ineligible for PM's office) in the hope her bluff will carry through.

People should be reminded of her 1999 coup attempt. This is a leader?

She is very weak in maths --studied only langauge in that cooks school in the town of Cambridge. So she thinks 41 is less than half of 81. Earlier she claimed thoo seventhee thoo [ 272] to produce only thoo party [ 240] and for which Narayanan came all the way up to the last steps of Rashtrapathi Bhavan to see her off.

She also wants governers to act as per constitution --is it her constitution? That will be funny --for Governors to enquire daily on that and act!!

Her son needs a tutor in politics and she in maths.Tough tasks.

Sack Governor Syed Sibtey Razi .OR PM and Antonia Maino should quit: Fernandes

Sack Gov. or PM and Antonia Maino should quit: Fernandes


The stand taken by NDA convenor, George Fernandes should be applauded. Antonia Maino is clearly behind this move of the Governor to call Shibu Soren to head the Jharkhand Govt. She has no democratic scruples. After meeting with LJP leader Paswan, she asks Congress to extend support to RJD to form a government in Bihar. What types of deals has she struck with Paswan? Throwing to the winds all the niceties of governor's role as a constitutional authority, the Governor of Jharkhand has acted in a blatantly partisan manner, as a jalra of the vides'i rani. While appearing to support DMK, she is in league with AIADMK to promote the christist agenda.

So long as she and her dynasty continues to control the destinies of the Congress party, there is no hope of any semblance of ethics or morality in the polity of Hindustan. There will always be sycophants currying favours of the rani.

Every step of the way, ever since the UPA took power, the constitution has been subverted, almost on a daily basis. The PM is a joke, calling himself a substitute Prime Minister. It is a disgrace that the nation of Hindustan should have a PM who calls himself a substitute while the rani goes about merrily taking economic advise from a Belgian and harbouring ISI agents in 10 Janpath.

She is a security risk; she has no understanding of the ethos and
culture of Hindustan; her family are enemy number 1 of the nation; and her family should be forced to quit politics and get out of 10 Janpath. This should be the minimum and irrevocable demand.

Calling the Governor of Jharkhand for consultations by HE President of Bharat is a welcome step but is likely to be seen only as a charade.

Sacking Governor of Jharkhand is not enough to protect the nation's
integrity and security, given the intolerable situation of virtual
emergency without declaring an emergency. The atrocities of fascism
have reached such depths that there is no need for niceties of formal proclamations of emergency.

NDA should refuse to allow the Parliament to function until the
Antonia dynastic family quits politics.

Dhanyavaadah.
Kalyanaraman

PRESS TRUST OF INDIA Indian Express, March 3, 2005

New Delhi, March 3: NDA Convenor George Fernandes on Thursday demanded
"forthwith" sacking of Jharkhand Governor Syed Sibtey Razi for
inviting Shibu Soren to form the government and threatened to launch a
campaign against Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and UPA chairperson
Sonia Gandhi.

"I am told that both the Prime Minister and the extra-constitutional authority (Sonia Gandhi) are very unhappy at what the Jharkhand Governor has done. If they were not aware what the Governor has done, it means the Governor acted on his own. Then, he should be sacked forthwith.

"And if they were aware and were now trying to cover up,they should resign," he said.

The JD(U) president said that the UPA government started with Goa.
"From Goa, it moved to Jharkhand and now the next destination is
Bihar, where all preparations seem to have been made," he said.

Describing as "bad" what happened in Goa, he said"Jharkhand was worse and it seemed the "worst" was yet to come in Bihar.

"We (NDA) are going to launch a country-wide movement and expose the motives of the unconstitutional authority in all that is being done by her over the last few years," he said adding that the campaign would be launched by middle of the month.

http://www.expressindia.com

March 02, 2005

Bihar & Jharkhand Polls -- Analysis

Between 2000 and 2005, the number of votes polled by BJP combine has also gone down, from 25.5% to 28.5%.

Pawan had not contested the elections in 2000 on his own. In recent polls, he got 12.4% votes.
---------------------

Based on these numbers, I do not see any BJP strategy in place. Rather, I make following three conclusions.

a) Sonia Gandhi's gamble of strengthening the Congress did not pay off. As long as COngress plays second fiddle (actually 4th or lower) in UP and Bihar, it can never aspire to rule center on its own.

b) NDA won this time because they were not divided between BJP and JD-U, but also because of their foes' political mistakes. Even then, in last 5 years, their support base has actually eroded in BIhar. THe same is true of Jharkhand.

c) BJP-JDU's victory is attributable to two factors - (i) Split of the "secular" vote (ii) Consolidation fo the "communal" vote. Hence, credits to BJP are due only for the latter factor, and not for the former one.

----------------------

Other noteworthy things.

a) The NDA coalition is sustainable only thru the glue of power. Remove power for a long time, and you will see it unravel by itself. Politicians are in the business so politics, because they want to be on the ruling side, rather than sit in opposition. The logic of power helped NDA withstand the pressures of "secular politics" for more than 7 years. That logic does not exist anymore. Hence, sooner or later, don't be surprised if guys like Nitish Kumar part ways with the BJP.

b) From all the available electoral data, NDA's vote share is in the range of 25-35 percent. BJP has won in past, whenever the index of its opposition's units has been low. In last Lok Sabha elections, Congress had crafted alliances which consolidated the anti-BJP votes into one laser-like cohesive force. The imperative of this logic is two fold.

(i) Hindus will not rule the destiny of India, as long as Hindu forces enhance their vote share by another 10-20 percent. That means strengthening and enhancing grass-root presence.

(ii) For the interim, folks like Laloo, Mulayam are actually good for BJP, because they split the "secular" vote bank. Ensuring that their vote banks do not coalesce with those of the Congress should be a key component of Hindu politician's interim electoral strategy.

c) BJP's prime competitor is not the Left. Neither it is Laloo, or Mulayam. It is Congress and only Congress. BJP committed a Himalyan blunder in past when it did not finish off Congress by pressing on and implementing the no-foreign-born-can-be-Indian-PM clause in the constitution. Sans Congress, there is no focal point, around which the secular vote bank can get consolidated. There is this 3rd front idea, but in politics, there is paksh, and vi-paksh. The very term "3rd front" is for losers.

Sadly enuff, they, like the Congress guys of Kamraj era, they took Sonia to be a "goongi gudia". Au contraire, Congress is very clear. It sees BJP as its enemy number one, and has taken a series of steps to ensure that BJP gets killed politically as well as ideologically. Recent turn of events in Jharkhand and Goa demonstrate the absoluteness of Congress's resolve in winning the war by finishing of BJP. With the addition of Jharkhand, Congress rules in 16 states. BJP's presence is in a mere four. Can a 4-state party ever aspire to rule the center?

Nachiketa

CIS ECONOMIES: GROWTH WITHOUT PROSPERITY?

The economies of the Commonwealth of Independent States have seen five years of steady growth and low inflation, a welcome contrast to the economic slump and financial instability of the early 1990s. They have also managed to shift their trade patterns away from their former partners in the Soviet Union, to varying degrees, and have found a niche in the global economy.

In 2004, GDP grew by an average of 8%, with little variation across the region. Russia recorded 7.1% growth, while Ukraine led the pack at 12%. Inflation averaged 11%, ranging from 4.1% in Kyrgyzstan to 18.1% in Belarus. The currencies of the region are holding their value, and budget deficits are under control. This is a remarkable turnaround from the situation a dozen years ago, and is testimony to the fact that the "Washington Consensus" -- the package of policies promoting liberalization and stabilization of finance and trade -- has sunk in across most of the former Soviet Union. Turkmenistan is the only CIS country that has not introduced current account convertibility, while Belarus maintains a broad array of state controls over the economy. However, progress in structural reform -- privatization, transparency, rule of law -- has been much slower.

Despite this rosy macroeconomic picture, there are worrying signs that there may be less to the recovery than meets the eye. The economic revival is largely driven by exports of a small group of commodities. Oil accounts for 90% of Azerbaijan's export earnings and 58% for Kazakhstan (with ferrous metals another 24%). Natural gas is 57% of Turkmenistan's exports and oil makes up another 26%. Uzbekistan's exports are 42% cotton and 10% gold.

Such commodity dependency is troublesome for several reasons. First, it leaves these countries vulnerable to world price fluctuations: the recent high prices for copper and cotton will not continue indefinitely. Second, even if oil and gas prices stay high, future growth will depend on their capacity to extract more resources and get them to world markets, neither of which can be taken for granted. Third, the revenue from commodity exports is not trickling down to citizens living in rural areas or run-down industrial cities physically isolated from the new growth nodes. In countries without resources to export, such as Moldova and Georgia, the situation is grimmer still. About one-third of the labor force has emigrated, and remittances make up a substantial proportion of national income.

These economies all have very low levels of per capita GDP and a very high proportion of the population (from one-third to two-thirds) lives in poverty. These numbers have only slightly improved during the last five years of growth. Meanwhile, during those years the infrastructure of public services inherited from the Soviet period (health and education) has steadily eroded, leading to deteriorating health standards. Infant mortality per 1,000 births, for example, is 116 in Tajikistan, 99 in Kazakhstan, 61 in Kyrgyzstan, 31 in Moldova, and 21 in Russia.

According to the World Bank, at current exchange rates Gross National Income per capita in 2003 was a meager $330 per year in Kyrgyzstan, $310 in Uzbekistan, and $190 in Tajikistan. This puts them below Bangladesh, where GNI was $380. Moldova is the poorest country in Europe, with GNI of $590, followed by Ukraine at $970, and Belarus $1,590. Albania is the next poorest country in Europe, at $1,740.

The income figures look a little better when one allows for the highly undervalued exchange rates. In terms of purchasing power parity, the annual GNI per capita ranking is: Russia $8,080, Kazakhstan $5,630, Belarus $5,500, Ukraine $4,800, Turkmenistan $4,780, Azerbaijan $3,010, Armenia $3,230, Georgia $2,270, Uzbekistan $1,640, Moldova $1,600, Kyrgyzstan $1,560, and Tajikistan $930. (Bangladesh PPP GNI per head is $1,770 and Albania $4,960.)

Trade now accounts for 50-100% of the value of GDP in these countries, though this proportion is artificially high due to the under-valued exchange rates. Many of them remain heavily dependent on trade with other CIS states, principally Russia. The CIS share of imports in Belarus is 70%, Tajikistan 68%, Kyrgyzstan 57%, Ukraine 50%, Kazakhstan 47%, Azerbaijan and Georgia both 32%, and Armenia 22%. Exports are more likely to go beyond the CIS. Belarus sends 55% of its exports to the CIS, the corresponding figure for Georgia is 50%, Ukraine 26%, Kazakhstan 23%, and Azerbaijan 13%. Despite Russia's political commitment to CIS cooperation, its economy is the least dependent on CIS trade because of it huge oil and gas sales to Europe. Only 15% of Russian exports go to the CIS, which supplies 26% of its imports.

The trade integration beyond the former Soviet Union has not been accompanied by an inflow of foreign direct investment (FDI), except for oil-rich Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan. The stock of FDI is equal to 47% of GDP in Azerbaijan, a very high figure by international standards (only thee countries have more than 30%), and 12% in Kazakhstan. It is around 5% in Georgia, Moldova, and Armenia and less than 2% elsewhere.

During the 1990s several countries borrowed heavily, with debt service taking up 34% of export earnings in Kazakhstan and 25% in Kyrgyzstan. Moldova's debt service hit 60% of exports 2002, rescheduling has brought it down to 20%. The stock of official debt was around $1 billion for each of the smaller countries, rising to $4.3 billion in Uzbekistan, $4.6 billion in Turkmenistan, $12.6 billion in Ukraine, and $16.5 billion in Kazakhstan.

The post-Soviet economic transition falls into three phases. The first phase, from 1991 to 1995, was one of chaotic disruption and catastrophic decline (the "transition recession"). The second phase, beginning in 1996 but not really taking root until after the Russian crash of 1998, has seen financial stability and steady growth. But the third and most difficult phase will be transforming the institutions and infrastructure of these countries to overcome the barriers of geographic isolation and corrupt, rent-seeking elites.

(World Bank, IMF Direction of Trade Statistics, CIA World Factbook, cisstat.com)

Towards a soft state

If you believe the Union cabinet, China and Pakistan are our friends.

2 March 2005: Yesterday, we published intelligence that the defence ministry and armed forces were unhappy with the budget allocation (“MinDef unhappy with budget allocations,” 1 March 2005). Although the defence budget has risen by Rs 6,000 crore in absolute terms over last year’s allocation, GDP spending on defence has come down from 2.47 per cent last year to 2.35 per cent this year.

We also reported that defence minister Pranab Mukherjee communicated to services headquarters and to his own ministry officials to make a very conservative projection of requirements. Aware of the huge social sector spending commitments, he wished to avoid the embarrassment of facing a gap between defence requirements and the allocated funds, so he advised the services to scale down their demands.

The services were told that while contractual payment obligations would be met and signed contracts executed, new purchases would have to be deferred, and since then, the picture has got murky. The defence budget meets only sixty per cent of service requirements, and amongst themselves, the services have lost six deals under advanced negotiations with Russia, France and Israel. The defence ministry is hoping against hope that six months down the line, the PMO or finance ministry will approve a special package to make up for the forty per cent funding cut.

The armed forces well understand the constraints under which defence spending is approved, and money goes the very last mile in the military. If anyone has spent any time with deployed military units, it would be instantly clear how poorly equipped the forces are, and how antiquated some of the weapons of war and communication systems. In Siachen, there is absolute rationing of extreme cold climate clothes, and in Kargil and other sectors, troops still survive with inadequate top wear. While the Pakistanis may fire indiscriminately in Siachen, there is huge accounting to be done for retaliatory Indian attack. So to work under budgetary constraints is not new for the forces.

But what galls them, and what has angered the officer corps, is the purveyed fiction to justify the fund squeeze this time. The fiction was purveyed by a PMO non-paper circulated in a pre-budget cabinet meeting by the national security advisor (NSA), M.K.Narayanan. The non-paper claimed that since relations with China and Pakistan were on an even keel, and that threats to India’s security from these quarters had appreciably reduced, a high defence spending would be provocative.

The non-paper stressed that political, cultural and trade ties with China were strengthening, and these would insure against any threat or hostility from the Chinese side. On Pakistan, the paper praised General Pervez Musharraf’s sincere attempts to curb terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir, and there were also suggestions of a summit meeting with prime minister Manmohan Singh in the summer.

Insiders say that Pranab Mukherjee kept a studied silence on the non-paper. Neither did home minister Shivraj Patil offer his comment. Since the paper was from the PMO, it is natural to assume that the PM was aware of its contents beforehand, and one would therefore assume that he was in agreement with it. Only foreign minister Natwar Singh responded, and in fulsome praise of the non-paper. “This is exactly my understanding of the situation,” he said, or words to that effect.

The understanding that has percolated down in the defence ministry and services headquarters is that there was considerable play-acting in the cabinet meeting. Somewhere on high, a decision had been taken to cut defence spending, and the cabinet thereafter went through the motions of a consensual stand. Almost certainly, the ministers had seen the non-paper previously, but while Pranab and Patil chose to be silent, Natwar indicated enthusiastic acquiescence. Natwar Singh’s actions in the past few months have reflected a belief that India has oh-so-friendly South-Asian neighbours.

But what is the reality? The intelligence and security agencies and the military do not subscribe to the leading contention of the non-paper, that India is safe from China or Pakistan or the other neighbours. Officials said that the NSA took narrow inputs from them, and then made his own fancy construct. While terrorism is down in J and K, high military vigil is responsible for this, not any Pakistani change of heart, and when they grow weary of the slow pace of the Kashmir dialogue, the terror tap will fully turn again. And it is a joke, the agencies say, to believe in Chinese goodwill when two of their spy ships caught off the Andamans remain under Indian custody.

But there are dangerous new Pakistani-Chinese threats that the government has chosen to ignore. When A.B.Vajpayee visited China in June 2003, the Chinese made an unwritten commitment not to assist Pakistan militarily. But in the last seven months, thirty-five military projects have been signed between Pakistan and China. Further, the CIA on oath to the US Senate Intelligence Committee has reported that Chinese missile technology transfers to Pakistan continue apace, and that Chinese companies have or will get contracts to redesign Pakistani missile warheads.

This is not all. On a much larger GDP base than India’s, Chinese GDP spending on defence touched 4.8 per cent in 2004-2005, exceeding budget estimates by 0.4 per cent. The relevant Pakistani figures were 4.7 per cent and 4.23 per cent. No one believes the Chinese figure, because they have a habit of cooking books, and true Chinese defence spending could have topped six per cent. The Pakistanis under pressure from the US and multilateral lending agencies have also desperate reasons to fudge figures.

The military’s argument was not to cut defence spending but to convince Pakistan and China through other means, if at all, that India’s aims and intents were defensive. But the government has chosen to put trust on precisely those adversaries that have established a pattern of treachery since Independence. God knows why, but sections of the government are determined to make India a soft state.

Dumping Laloo for development, this is the message from Bihar


It is now or never for the Congress party.

28 February 2005: What is to be made of the Bihar election results, and do they hold lessons for the rest of India? Yes, to this question, and the results reflect a strong desire for change. Change, that is, for the political thuggery of Laloo Prasad Yadav, his family, friends and associates. In their haste to form the government in Bihar, the Congress and Ram Vilas Paswan’s LJP would ignore this at their own peril.

Across the state, a strong sentiment blew for change, especially among Laloo’s milked and exploited communities of Yadavs and Muslims, the so-called MY alliance. Where they had alternatives, in some cases Nitish Kumar’s JD-U, but more often the LJP, and rarely but significantly, the Congress, the Muslims voted for them and against the RJD. When they had no choice, the BJP outside their radar for these polls, they had to vote for Laloo, but this was on sufferance.

On the outside chance that there is another election in Bihar, if this hung assembly and political deadlock cannot be overcome with one or two spells of Central rule, expect the RJD to do worse than this time, dipping to below fifty seats, with the LJP and Congress scoring at Laloo’s cost if they have the courage to stake out their independent identities in Bihar. Laloo is over, the Congress party but especially Sonia Gandhi, the principal mediator, must realise this, and any government in Bihar has to be formed without Laloo or his proxies. Anything else would constitute betrayal of Bihar’s voters.

Besides the striking anti-Laloo sentiment, voters voted across caste and in rare cases community lines. In this election, caste came to mean a lot less than ever before. This was spectacularly evident with Yadav voting, which no longer agglutinated behind Laloo, and the upper caste voted tactically for whoever could keep out Laloo. This represents hope, because two months ago, Bihar was given up hopelessly to Laloo, in the belief that he would win by default. This was L.K.Advani’s internal assessment.

Would the results have been different, more favourable to Laloo than now, if the Congress and LJP had come into his alliance? Possibly, but on second thoughts, it is hard to say. The anti-Laloo anger was palpable, including among Muslims, which was what led the Congress to enter the field with not him but Paswan. If Paswan and the Congress had not given an outlet for Muslim anger to express itself – basically, the votebank exploitation of Muslims without removing their social/ economic backwardness – that could have led to apathetic voting, a dramatic reduction in turnout, which would itself have spelled doom for Laloo.

To deflect from his own rejection by voters, Laloo is blaming the Congress and Paswan, but the truth is otherwise. If his constituencies had been seriously supporting Laloo, they would not have deserted him for either Paswan or the Congress, and, if anything, more solidly united behind him. The reverse happened, because they were through with him, through with his rhetoric of secularism that only meant perpetuating backwardness, and jumped at the chance to quit him.

Dumping Laloo for development, this is the message from Bihar. Anyone who can provide security of life and property and usher in charge is welcome. Bijli, pani and sadak issues can no longer be ignored in Bihar, even benighted Bihar, and voter rejection of Laloo is on account of the fact that he destroyed the state in fifteen years of misrule.

What is the message for the rest of India? Lack of development, neglect of bijli, pani, sadak issues will no longer be tolerated. There is nothing like a votebank going to be left anymore. Mulayam Singh Yadav should soon feel a challenge to his authority in Uttar Pradesh, the Left is almost certain to find itself shaken up in West Bengal, and maybe hit. There is less play for ideology, ideologies of the Left or Right, communal politics riding on majority or minority communities, or an abused principle like secularism. Voters want their lives to change, and are past slogans, rhetoric, and opportunistic ideologies.

How does this settle with coalition politics? In the short term, it will only make it worse, unless all constituents in a coalition are broadly agreed on development issues. This seems to be the case with the NDA, where all the signed up parties sync well with the alliance leader, A.B.Vajpayee’s moderate political vision and thrust on development, but the UPA is in trouble.

In the UPA, only the Congress, and to an extent, the DMK and NCP, are votaries of development and an economic reforms-led development process. In Tamil Nadu where the DMK has held power in the past and in Maharashtra where the NCP has shared it with the Congress, both have established development credentials. One can attribute this to the DMK’s longevity and the fact that you cannot be backward in a forward-driving state like Tamil Nadu. Having come out of the Congress, on the other hand, the NCP matches the Congress’s character in many ways, including development orientation.

But pulling down the UPA is its outside Left supporters and backward-looking parties like the RJD. If Laloo had not been jolted in this election, he would have continued with his policy in Bihar, a policy of doing nothing. The Congress can hardly remain for long in this backwardness, and it has had two options since it formed a UPA government at the Centre nine months ago. One option is pull the rest of the UPA constituents to its development vision, and it has tried and failed repeatedly with the Left. As for Laloo and development, he has presented two railway budgets without vision.

This leaves the Congress with no choice but to follow the second option, which is expand its base at the cost of its allies, and this is the only way it can survive and grow as a national party. Even as the country rises up to seek change and development, it would be suicidal for the Congress to turn a blind eye to this in the interest of so-called coalition dharma. The Left, in particular the CPI-M, does not want to grow beyond Kerala, West Bengal and maybe Tripura, and Laloo is happy destroying Bihar. The Congress surely cannot descend to their level, become regional and provincial from having a doughty national past.

Therefore, a certain contradiction is built in the UPA, which won’t easily resolve, and will play up worse in the coming months. But the way for the Congress is not to be defensive, but to flex its national muscles, and continue with the cowbelt political expansion experiment started hesitantly with Bihar. Instead of slamming Arjun Singh and M.L.Fotedar for trying, the Congress must more strenuously exert itself vis-à-vis its allies, because non-exertion in the changing situation of demanded change means death.

Bihar has become a test case for the Congress’s future. If it gives in to Laloo now, it can never recover its stature in the state or elsewhere. The choices cannot get starker for the party.

March 01, 2005

U.S.-Japan Security Declaration Causes China to Reconsider Stance on North Korea

By Willy Lam

The likelihood of Beijing putting more pressure on Pyongyang regarding the nuclear issue has decreased given Hu Jintao’s perception that a plethora of “anti-China” actions have been emanating from the Bush administration. This has increased the possibility of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) flaunting the North Korean card against America’s so-called containment policy against China – as well as Washington’s harder line on Iran.

It is noteworthy that Beijing has put the blame of Pyongyang’s nuclear brinkmanship on U.S. “intransigence” toward the DPRK as much as – if not even more than – the iniquity and irrationality of strongman Kim Jong-Il. Officially, the Chinese government has deplored North Korea’s February 10 admission of the ownership of nuclear weapons and its withdrawal from the Beijing-based six-party talks. Thus Foreign Ministry spokesman Kong Quan reiterated China’s firm opposition to the nuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. “The results of the six-party talks have been achieved not without difficulty,” he said. “And they should be treasured by all parties.” Kong called upon both North Korea and the U.S. to display “more sincerity, good intentions and flexibility.”

State media and commentators have gone further, criticizing Washington’s unremittingly antagonistic attitude toward the Kim regime. The official International Herald Leader said the “direct cause” of Pyongyang’s pulling out of the talks was “America’s long-standing insistence on a policy of hostility toward North Korea.” Zhang Liangui, an international affairs professor at the CCP Central Party School, hinted that it would be futile for the U.S. and its allies such as Japan to expect Beijing to solve the North Korean problem for them. “The U.S. hopes to push China to the front of the stage so that Beijing can take the chestnuts out of the fire for America,” said Professor Zhang, using a Chinese proverb that refers to one country using another one as a pawn.

This is not to say, of course, that Beijing will not come up with some gestures to safeguard its hard-earned reputation as a responsible member of the international community. Given that China has garnered widespread credit for playing the role of mediator regarding the North Korean imbroglio, the CCP leadership has at least gone through the motions of sending an envoy to Pyongyang to persuade Kim to return to the negotiation table. Wang Jiarui, Head of the CCP International Liaison Department, was in Pyongyang for talks with North Korean officials including Kim. However, the strongman’s response to Wang – that Pyongyang had never withdrawn from the six-party talks and that it was ready to re-join the discussions “if conditions are met” – amounted to little more than stonewalling. And Washington made it clear immediately that it would not offer Kim further inducements to return to the negotiation table.

Diplomatic sources in the Chinese capital said Beijing saw no reason to cooperate with the U.S. on North Korea given what it saw as the relentless exacerbation of Washington’s “anti-China containment policy.” On February 19, the U.S. and Japan issued a joint statement that for the first time cited the peaceful resolution of the Taiwan crisis as one of their “common strategic objectives.” And the revised U.S.-Japan security guidelines would indicate that developments in the Taiwan Strait were a legitimate concern for the two allies. The Chinese Foreign Ministry immediately blasted Washington and Tokyo for “meddling in the internal affairs of China, and hurting China’s sovereignty.” The Chinese leadership also took exception to a CIA report saying that China’s defense buildup might “tilt the balance of the Taiwan Strait” and threaten U.S. troops in the Asian region.

Reflecting the opinion of the policy-setting CCP Leading Group on Foreign Affairs (LGFA), which is led by President Hu, the Chinese media have raised alarms over enhanced efforts by Washington to weidu, or to “encircle and block up” China. In a special issue late February, the authoritative Outlook Weekly noted that the U.S. was trying to encircle China from the east, west and south. It said Washington had used the excuse of fighting terrorism to boost its troop strength in regions ranging from Afghanistan to Guam, and that “China is exposed to enemy troops on the east, west and south fronts.”

Beijing is particularly disturbed by the growing role of Japan in this Washington-led “containment policy.” Chinese scholars and media commentators have pointed out that Japan has become the “Asia headquarters” of U.S. forces. And given that Tokyo’s just-released National Defense Program Guideline has named China as a major security concern for the country, Japan seems to be working seamlessly with the U.S. in blunting the emergence of the PRC as a regional superpower. Moreover, Washington and Tokyo have from Beijing’s perspective been rubbing salt on newly reopened wounds by using Taiwan as an excuse in containing China’s rise. According to Peking University scholar Wang Yong, Japan has become “America’s agent in Asia” - and Tokyo, in addition to the U.S., is using Taiwan to “pin down and tie up” the mainland.

Beijing’s response to the containment policy has been to speed up the modernization of the People’s Liberation Army, in particular the navy and the air force. Diplomatic analysts said new commander-in-chief Hu had vowed to boost the PLA budget, as well as the speed and scale of the procurement of hardware from Russia – and from the European Union after the latter’s expected lifting of its 16-year-old arms embargo on China later this year.

Diplomatically, however, the LGFA has limited ways and means to thwart Washington’s containment policy. And North Korea – whose survival is dependent to a large extent on China’s food, fuel and technological aid – has emerged as a useful card with which Beijing could use to put pressure on the U.S. and Japan to climb down from their alleged encirclement plot against the PRC. For example, Chinese leaders and diplomats last year put forward a quid pro quo known as “North Korea in exchange for Taiwan,” meaning that Beijing would help rein in Kim if Washington agrees to stop the pro-independence gambit of Taiwan President Chen Shui-bian.

Since President Kim’s trip to Beijing last April, when he was met by all nine members of the CCP Politburo Standing Committee, relations between the two erstwhile “lips-and-teeth” neighbors have improved. For example, different Chinese ministries and departments have sent more advisers to the DPRK mainly to help revive the destitute country’s agriculture and economy. A senior Western diplomat in Beijing said Pyongyang had alerted Beijing ahead of its bombshell announcement earlier this month about the possession of nuclear weapons. The diplomat indicated while the Hu leadership was opposed to Kim starting a program of weapons of mass destruction, it also saw the opportunity of using Pyongyang to pin down the U.S. and Japan.

At the same time, Beijing hopes that a crisis on the Korean Peninsula would divert the attention of the Bush administration from the Middle East – and help persuade Washington to think twice before targeting Iran. A Beijing source close to the security establishment said the Hu leadership feared the White House would take some form of military action against Iran as early as 2007, assuming that conditions in Iraq would stabilize in the coming two years. “Beijing largely acquiesced in America’s invasion of Iraq in 2003,” the source said. “But given China’s multi-billion dollar investment in Iranian oilfields and other resources, the Hu leadership would pull out the stops to prevent Iran from going the way of Iraq.” Apart from pouring huge funds into Iranian oil facilities and pipelines, Beijing is expected to send more technological experts and advisers to its quasi-ally in the Middle East.

The CCP leadership is, of course, aware of the fact that like many diplomatic tools, the North Korean card could be a double-edged sword. For example, Kim’s bullying tactics have been used by Tokyo as justification for augmenting Japan’s military budget as well as revising the country’s “peace constitution.” Moreover, Hu and his advisers know fully well that Kim is a perfidious gambler who could one day trip up even its mentor, China.

For the time being, however, the party chief and Central Military Commission Chairman seems to have followed the advice of PLA generals as well as hawkish elements in China’s security establishment. These hardliners have advocated providing more support to the Kim regime right after the current nuclear crisis started in October 2002. And while the CCP and CMC leadership had refused Kim’s request for anti-missile batteries to counter America’s possible pre-emptive strikes, the PLA command has boosted the level of troops and hardware along the border with North Korea. And the Hu-led LGFA has spurned the advice of liberal scholars that Beijing follow Moscow’s lead in ending China and North Korea’s decades-old mutual defense treaty. Instead, the CCP leadership has held a series of internal briefing sessions to explain to cadres in various fields the reasons behind Beijing’s continued support for the rogue regime.

Willy Lam is a Hong Kong-based scholar and journalist specializing in Communist Party politics and Chinese foreign policy.

* * *


Bangladesh’s Ambivalent Relations with the PRC

By Arnold Zeitlin

Robina Ahktar, in her 20s, says she earns the equivalent of 13 cents an hour, about one dollar a day, sewing flaps at the rate of one per 30 seconds on the rear pockets of Wal-Mart Faded Glory jeans in a Dhaka-area garment factory in Bangladesh. She says she doesn’t like the pay or the job but what she would dislike more is losing both.

Although Robina Ahktar, with a few years in grade school, has no idea of China’s impact on the Bangladeshi economy, she is one of perhaps hundreds of thousands of young women garment workers who may discover unhappily just how China affects them. Bangladesh itself is a model for smaller Asian states grappling with the dangers, challenges, competition and opportunities stemming from China’s rise as a regional power. Bangladeshis’ view of China is further complicated by the fact that this densely populated Ganges delta state (some 130 million people packed into an area the size of Arkansas) buys most of its military supplies at cheap prices from China. For example, M. Khairuzzaman, the Bangladeshi additional foreign secretary responsible for China, complains that his government doesn’t pay enough attention to its powerful neighbor. But a former Bangladeshi ambassador to China, who prefers anonymity, differs, noting that the military holds its major weapons supplier in high regard.

In turn, Bangladeshi Prime Minister Khaleda Zia, widow of the country’s murdered military ruler, Zia Rehman, regards her military, in the words of the former ambassador, as “priority number one, priority number two and priority number three.” This came to the fore in 2004, when the commerce ministry permitted the opening of a Taiwanese office in Dhaka that the ministry claimed was a private sector agency devoted only to encouraging trade; in Taiwan, the office was loudly proclaimed as an official representative office able to issue visas and carry out other consular functions. China angrily protested that the move compromised Bangladesh’s one-China policy and the countries’ diplomatic relations in general, briefly recalling its ambassador for consultations.

Though it is common knowledge among diplomatic circles in Dhaka that the Army is not happy with the quality of Chinese arms, it is equally well known that it cannot find other goods as cheap. According to the former Chinese ambassador, following a visit to the Prime Minister by the Army high command to point out the error of Khaleda Zia’s commerce ministry’s ways, the Taiwanese office was promptly downgraded. Bangladesh reiterated its belief in one China, and the commerce ministry was given a new minister.

But tensions between Bangladesh and China remain. The most recent difficulties started on January 1, with the expiration of the decades-old Multifiber Arrangement, which gives Bangladesh and other developing states guaranteed export quotas by dividing the world’s $360 billion garment export market among approximately 150 countries. The fact that Bangladesh had no significant garment industry, but nevertheless received a quota in the 1980s, attracted Korean and Hong Kong investors, who set up factories with Bangladeshis as fronts so they could trade on the country’s otherwise-unfilled quota. Starting with virtually no exports in the 1980s, Bangladesh has developed a garment exporting business that IMF says accounted for 77% of the country’s total merchandise exports in 2002, nearly $4.6 billion. And since the 1980s, the number of garment factories has grown from 180 to 3,600.

Without garments, Bangladesh would depend on earnings principally from the export of shrimp and jute, once its principal export but now a fiber growing steadily obsolete. Producers from Bangladesh to North Carolina believe the Chinese, with cheap labor and an increasingly efficient domestic industry, will dominate the garment business without quotas. China has already tripled its share of the $90 billion American garment market alone to more than 50% from the current 16%. Thus, the removal of quotas now threatens to increase competition in the global garment industry and limit Bangladesh’s growth, says Wahiduddin Mahmud, a Dhaka University economics professor and former minister of finance.

It seems then that Chinese competition threatens the garment-making jobs of an estimated 1.8 million Bangladeshis, 90% of whom are young women from poor, rural areas whose remittances to their families have promoted unexpected growth that would be hard to duplicate if the industry collapsed. Remarkably, however, many Bangladeshi entrepreneurs, such as Manzur Murshed, do not agree. Murshed, a retired civil servant and former ambassador to Yugoslavia, closed two garment factories exporting to Italy and Britain during a recession in 1999. Despite the quota expiration, he has opened a new 350-machine garment factory that he believes will not only get him back into the European market but will offer him a crack at the U.S. market. Low wages of the sort that Robina Akthar earns, and the efficiency of his new plant will allow him to maintain an advantage in price and quality, he believes. His optimism is supported by Wal-Mart, the U.S. retailing giant that is Bangladesh’s best customer for garments and that promises to buy more from the country this year than it did last year. As Andrew Tsuei, Wal-Mart’s vice president for global purchasing, told The New York Times: “Bangladesh is very competitive because the labor cost in Bangladesh is only half of what China is, and maybe less than that.”

The wage level is such that Chinese producers may consider moving operations to Bangladesh. Salahuddin Quader Chowdhury, a member of parliament and a political advisor to Prime Minister Zia, claims that the Chinese are seeking a 400-acre site in the country to set up an industrial park including garment factories. Chinese investors already have announced the establishment on 14 acres in the Dhaka suburbs of a “China Town” wholesale market with nearly 500 shops of electronics, handicrafts and cosmetics that they say will aim for annual sales of $100 million and be the largest in South Asia. At the announcement in November 2004, the new commerce minister, Altaf Hussain Chowdhury, termed China a trusted friend of Bangladesh.

But still, tensions exist. Bangladesh exports to China in the first six months of the fiscal year 2003-04 were worth $18.43 million against China’s exports to Bangladesh worth $574.33 million, an imbalance second only to Bangladesh’s even greater imbalance from India. However, China is almost never criticized, as is India, for the trade imbalance. “We have nothing to sell to the Chinese,” explains Additional Foreign Secretary M. Khairuzzaman. “We could sell a great deal more to the Indians if they allowed us.”

The Bangladeshi press, quick to criticize its own government, rarely attacks China (although the United States, India and Pakistan are fair game). Bangladeshi intellectuals, including those who were politically active as Maoists in the early days of the country’s independence, regard China in a nostalgic haze – despite the fact that China, supporting Pakistan in its civil war with East Pakistan, did not recognize Bangladesh until 1975. Meanwhile, it was India’s armed intervention in 1971 which brought independence to Bangladesh. The two countries since have developed a love-hate relationship, complicated by disputes over borders, smuggling and illegal Bangladeshi immigration into India, as well as Indian fears that Bangladesh is a conduit for weapons smuggled into its secessionist northeast territories. (The United States shares the latter concern because of its fear that al-Qaeda takes advantage of increasingly-visible fundamentalist Muslim organizations to train militants and smuggle weapons through Bangladesh.)

While Bangladesh is bitterly opposed to supplying India with natural gas, it has encouraged the energy-hungry Chinese to explore what the Financial Express in Dhaka called “one of the world’s largest reserves of best quality bituminous coal,” which laboratory tests have shown to be ash-free and with negligible sulphur content. China and Bangladesh are also discussing air and highway links (through Burma) between Kunming and the Bangladeshi principal port of Chittagong. Apparently, Bangladesh has quietly entered the security ring that Beijing has drawn around India, from its monitoring station in Burma, across its still-unmapped border with northern India to its close alliance on India’s western flank with Pakistan. Such suspicions seemed to be confirmed after Prime Minister Zia visited Beijing in December 2002 and announced with fanfare the signing of a Bangladesh-China Defense Co-operation Agreement. After protestations that the agreement was aimed at no third party, the agreement turned out to be simply an extension of the deal under which China supplied military equipment. This is just one more example of the way in which Bangladesh has maintained a close, but still ambivalent, relationship with its massive Chinese partner.

Arnold Zeitlin is the Managing Director at Editorial Research & Reporting Associates (ERRA) and Visiting Professor for the Department of Journalism at Guangdong University of Foreign Studies.

CHINA : Socio-Economic Unrest and China’s Hui Minority



By Ahmad Lutfi

The last quarter of 2004 witnessed major riots in Anhui, Guangdong, Henan, Inner Mongolia, Shanxi, Sichuan and Zhejiang provinces. In dealing with these incidents of social and economic unrest, the Chinese declared martial law and deployed thousands of regular and paramilitary People’s Liberation Army (PLA) troops to aid failing police. As before, these riots were quickly propagandized as “ethnic” by the Chinese government, which resulted in a stringent media blackout. While the official view has always elected to blame ethnic frictions to justify such forms of social unrest, there is more to this instability than has been revealed.

Pains of Economic Transition

Possibly the worst in recent years, these riots were only the tip of the iceberg of mountainous tensions between different communities suffering from the massive erosion of social cohesion that has come along with the current transformation of China. As the country undergoes a painful transition from socialism to quasi-market economy under the rigid system of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), not everyone is able to adjust to new socio-economic realities as easily. Former President Jiang Zemin made it possible for the first time for entrepreneurs to join the CCP only in 2001, thus effectively legitimizing “socially upward mobile classes” who have since been able to enjoy the new freedom to grow rich.

His successor, Hu Jintao, himself a native of Anhui which witnessed some of the recent riots, appeared as a gentler fourth-generation leader when visiting poor areas of the countryside (especially during the SARS crisis) with his Prime Minister Wen Jiabao. This may have insinuated that help for those left out by economic reforms would follow. Subsequent calls for sustainable development further nurtured speculations that Hu’s agenda essentially aimed at repairing some of the problems he inherited as a consequence of his predecessor’s policies. Those included favoring Shanghai and other coastal cities at the expense of the less-fortunate inland provinces, and increasing the GDP without spending too much time on sustaining social cohesion – a problematic approach especially when coupled with what was clearly an obsession with patron-client relationships.

New Order of Priorities

To the disappointment of many, little progress appears to have been made since – and as the latest riots have demonstrated – arrests of protesters against China’s growing corruption and social inequality indicated that little would inspire Hu’s government to address the root causes of social injustices. Instead, preserving the image of the all-powerful CCP must prevail and any objection, no matter how justified, must be silenced. However, the reasons are not to do with Beijing’s customary oppressive style of governance.

Hu’s current priorities may be centered upon “saving” the CCP and enhancing his country’s power and influence on the international stage, which are dreams shared by many Chinese. Nevertheless, this is not the right order of priorities for many of the 800 million who make up China’s rural population and whose experiences of reform do not match those of their urban(ized) countrymen and women. The problem is usually portrayed by the state controlled media to be one of economics and ill-distribution of wealth. This misrepresentation has dangerous ramifications as it diverts attention away from what looks set to tear away at one of the very foundations of this socialist country: its multi-ethnic harmony. Consider, for instance, the case of the Hui.

Ethnic Harmony vs. Tension

Until Beijing’s harsh treatment of Buddhists in Tibet and Muslims in Xinjiang made international headlines, China has been able to showcase the peaceful coexistence of its 55 ethnic minorities with the Han majority as a sign of social cohesion. A model example of assimilation has been that of the Hui minority which makes up some 10 million of China’s 1.3 billion inhabitants, and whose members live in several provinces in central and western China, some of which have witnessed riots recently. Practically indistinguishable from the Han majority except for distinct religious customs, their ancestors were Silk Road traders, largely of Arab and Persian descent, who first came to China in the 7th century and through intermarriages with the Hans had become China’s largest Muslim community. However, the days of harmonious coexistence with their fellow Chinese are but old memories.

Ethnicity was not the sole cause of tensions-turned-riots in the reported incidents of 2004. While tensions experienced in rural and semi-urban China may be economic in nature, old rivalries are still alive despite more than 80 years of CCP rule. Indeed, minor incidents are often sufficient to spark cross-community violence that brings such rivalries back to life. As unemployment continues to rise, tension grows among the Chinese Han who feel that Beijing’s policy of favoring minorities, such as the Hui Muslims, with job opportunities – a long-standing practice designed to pacify otherwise oppressed members of different religious groups – reduces their chances of keeping their own jobs. With economic hardship biting, it takes little friction for protests to turn riotous, especially when coupled with the mass frustration at the corruption of party officials and sluggishness of a system that is meant to redress ever-growing socio-economic grievances but rarely does. Time and again, minor incidents boil over into violence, demonstrating that quelling the discontent of the have-nots may prove more than Beijing’s cosmetic policies can handle.

A Recipe for Socio-Economic Disaster

Since the media is tightly controlled, it often takes little time for the rumor mill to spread the bad news of mass riots thus enhancing the chances for a spread of violence that usually follows. Not only does this make the job of restoring order that much harder for government troops, it also makes keeping the lid on such incidents nearly impossible. In today’s China, the quasi-market economy has produced various forms of discontent over disputed layoffs, uncompensated land seizures, (mis)use of natural resources, misspent state funds, forced immigration, police brutality, unpaid wages and corruption.

On the one hand, as the system often fails to redress such grievances, minor provocations are often sufficient for major violence to erupt, much more rapidly so when parties to the dispute happen to belong to different religio-ethnic backgrounds as the latest riots have shown. On the other hand, as the gap between the poor and the rich in China rapidly increases, old prejudices and stereotypes, of which many have their roots in public misperceptions of religious identity, gain lives of their own. Once frustration with the harsh economic reality is thrown into the mix, it takes little time for rumors to create massive riots that quickly boil over into violence.

In the face of such rapidly developing socio-economic realities, Beijing appears convinced that its old iron-fist methods remain the most effective. This is a miscalculation that must not be underestimated nor seen as a domestic problem for the CCP to solve. The post-9/11 syndrome of discrimination against Muslims all over the world has reached China where even moderate Huis have suffered marginalization, notwithstanding the former, generally tolerant, official and public attitudes towards them.

Marginalization of communities such as the Hui would only lead them down the path of radicalization – well trodden by many frustrated politicians who eventually made their careers as high ranking members of religiously motivated terror organizations. In today’s world, it could only be a matter of time before the effects of “ethnic” clashes of China’s communities are resonated elsewhere. Lessons could be learned from the way in which ruthless oppression of dissent at the hands of certain governments had created the Abu Sayyaf Group, al-Gamaa al-Islamiyya, al-Jihad, the Armed Islamic Group, al-Qaeda, Hamas and Hizbullah to name but a few of better known groups today.

Considerations for Policy Reform

Fearing possible snowballing effects of social unrest may barely justify imposing media blackouts and tough security measures in attempting to handle such incidents. Nevertheless, Beijing must consider addressing the social and economic root causes of grievances that had created this tension before intra-minority clashes become unquenchable. To achieve this, Beijing needs not look further than its own problems in Xinjiang where dissent among previously apolitical Uyghur Muslims continues to rise in the face of ruthlessly oppressive policies, which, had they been effective, would have worked by now.

It is but a myth that the wheel of reform is grinding unobstructed in China. A year ago, according to Chinese police statistics, some 60,000 public protests have taken place – roughly 160 per day. This indicates that Beijing’s policies have failed yet another set of tests, perhaps more soundly than they did in 1989 at the height of the Tiananmen Square challenge to its authority. Army tanks and absolute brutality may have silenced the democracy campaigners then, but it will take a wholly different approach to calm those frustrated with the ever growing divide of fortune for which, perhaps deservedly, the CCP with its cosmetic policies and corrupt officials is to blame.

It is high time for Beijing to examine the root causes of Chinese discontent. This is, by far, much more important than tending to its obsession with enforcing social stability as a sign of unopposed CCP authority and power. Reform must include Beijing’s policies and practices should it ever hope for a less painful transition, and that will not be an easy task. However, until socio-economic wrongs are righted, no haphazard policy to window dress every riot as ethnic would silence those who have little, or nothing, left to lose.

Ahmad Lutfi is a New York based political and terrorism analyst, and a Middle East specialist.