May 20, 2006

How a Pseudo -Secular Mind Works

-- Anonymous

A little about me:
I am a well-educated, English speaking Hindu and I consider myself secular.

Here are a few situations and my typical responses just to show how my mind works:

If a pro-Hindu patriot asks me my stand on Islamic Terrorism
I would say, "I think BJP, VHP and RSS killed more Muslims in Gujarat than all the terror attacks by a few people who happen to be Muslims. I think those who kill innocent people are not Muslims at all. After all isn't Islam a Religion of Peace? The Sangh is the biggest curse to India. They have ruined India's image abroad. They only want to kill innocent people. They are hate-mongers and communal fundamentalists. They should all be banned."

If a pro-Hindu patriot reminds me of Christian Conversions and Perversions
I would say, "Atleast they help the poor and needy. What do the VHP and RSS do? Only incite them to act against Christians and Muslims!"

If a pro-Hindu patriot reminds me of ethnic cleansing in Kashmir and Nagaland
I would say, "A Hindu dying in Kashmir makes no difference to me. See, Kashmir is disputed territory. The terrorists want only Kashmir. Why not just give it to them? Then there will be peace in the region and also we would have to spend much less money to maintain the security there. And I don't know what you are talking about Nagaland."

If a pro-Hindu patriot asks me to re-evaluate my stand on Gandhiji and Mother Teresa
I would say, "So you are against the greatest souls to have graced our country also? Come on, give me a break. Gandhiji brought us independence through his non-violent methods, he single handedly took on the Britishers. And the fundamentalists you support like Savarkar and Godse killed him. What a shame! And whats wrong with Mother Teresa? Didn't she serve the very people whom you want me to serve? She was a selfless soul. What you want is just to disrepute her good work. You will not be successful here."

If a pro-Hindu patriot asks me my stand on arrest of Shankaracharya, repeated arrests of Praveen Togadia and non-arrest of Imam Bukhari:
I would say, "No one is above the law. That Shankaracharya is an underserving criminal. He got a temple official killed. He deserves what he's got. Absolutely! Hinduism is about tolerance, and peace. Your Praveen Togadia doesn't know it. He is a fascist. Even if a dog dies on the street, he blames Muslims for it. He has a single-point agenda of maligning the Muslims and Christians. And he incites people against them. He should be permanently kept in jail, so that he can't spew any venom. And what is the case against Imam Bukhari? Why should he be arrested? Just because he's a Muslim?"

If a pro-Hindu patriot asks me to serve the poor, help the needy and save our country:
I would say, "How does it matter to me if people are dying of hunger? I just want to finish my education and go abroad. India is a rotten mess in any case, whats the point wasting my life here?"

If a pro-Hindu patriot gives me a lecture on why we need to be religious and pious
I would say, "What has religion done to this country? The present degradation is because of undue importance to religion and blind beliefs. Your theories of rebirth, spirituality and karma hold no water. They aren't proven scientifically. Why should I ruin my time on all that nonsense? I would rather hangout with my friends, watch movies and go pubbing."

If a pro-Hindu patriot gives me lots of reading material, loaded with hard facts on a particular issue:
I would dismiss everything as mere propaganda and would believe our neutral secular media and secular NGOs run by like Teesta Setalvad, Arundhati Roy and Angana Chatterjee.

Pope parivar problems , Ratzinger shut up says Hindu Nationalists

Ratzinger parivar problems

Catholic church has two problems: Dan Brown and Ratzinger. The recent outburst of Ratzinger conveyed through diplomatic channels is the first report. That the Catholic church is bent out of shape by the Da Vinci Code of Dan Brown is the second report.

Dan Brown has the freedom to propagate his research work based on evidence. This research seems to have caused some problems to the church.

Ratzinger does NOT have to right to make false claims that there is some fundamental right to convert. There is NO fundamental right to convert. As the Supreme Court of India held as early as in 1977 and reiterated again and again, in many subsequent judgements, what is freedom for one is freedom for the other in equal measure, that is the freedom NOT to convert.

Can someone explain why proselytizers feel compelled to proselytize?

Ratzinger will do well to read the law of the land as explained by the highest court of India before interfering in the internal affairs of India by telling an Indian Ambassador to Vatican what the State Governments or the Union Government should or should not do.

BJP, RSS rubbish Pope's remarks on religious intolerance

Taking strong exception to certain reported comments by Pope Benedict XVI on alleged religious intolerance in India, BJP and RSS today said his remarks were irrelevant and exposed "ignorance" about Indian traditions and laws.

"The Pope's remarks on religious freedom is not relevant to India. There is much more freedom here than in many countries. Freedom of religion does not mean conversions by coercion and allurements," BJP Spokesman Prakash Javadekar told reporters here.

Asserting that state Assemblies had the power to enact such legislations, he said, "such laws are not against conversion by conviction but if people convert en masse, motives have to be there".

In a hard-hitting response to the Pope's remarks, RSS National Executive Member Ram Madhav told PTI over phone from Leh, "the Pope is ignorant of Indian traditions and laws. Religious freedom does not include freedom to convert people of other religions using force, fraud or allurements.

Missionaries in India have converted their religion into a commodity and are indulging in its shameless marketing." Slamming the Pope's reported remarks as "crass interference in the domestic affairs of India", he said, "before preaching to the Indian Government, let the Pope allow religious freedom in Vatican city. People living in glass houses better not attempt to throw stones at others".

Reacting to the Pope's comments, the Government had yesterday said it was "acknowledged universally" that India is secular and all religious faiths enjoy equal rights.

Dan Brown has resurrected a heresy that rattles the Church
By Boris Johnson
(Filed: 18/05/2006)

In pictures: The Da Vinci Code premiere

Jesus had a baby, yes Lord. Jesus had a baby, yes my Lord. It sounds pretty blasphemous, put like that, doesn't it? The only reason I dare to begin with those words is that they represent the beliefs of growing millions of otherwise sane British adults. Yup, folks, we all seem to be swallowing the new gospel. You on the Tube, madam, turning the pages with such narcosis that you miss your stop: you believe it, don't you?

You, sir, sneaking your dog-eared copy off to the loo for a quick fix - you think there's probably something in it, too, hmmm? According to astonishing statistics from the Roman Catholic Church, 22 per cent of British adults have now read The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown, and of those an amazing 60 per cent believe that, yeah, it is probably the case that Jesus indeed got married to Mary Magdalene and sired a line of descendants.

By my maths, that means that there are at least six or seven million people in this country who now believe that it's true: that for two millennia the Roman Catholic Church has been engaged in a desperate struggle to conceal the existence of the Christ family, and that they are probably all over the place: behind the fish counter at Sainsbury's; creating loaves for Hovis; causing people to rise from their beds in hospital.

They could be anywhere. They could be reading this paper. They could (gulp) be you. There is something in the logic of Dan Brown's book that has convinced millions that they have really uncovered the biggest, the spookiest, the most chilling conspiracy in history.

Never mind the autoflagellant cowled assassins and the idiotic anagrams. This story has clearly touched something in the popular psyche, and if you need any evidence, look at the global panic that book and film seem to have induced in the Roman Catholic Church.

In the Vatican, the papal portavoce has described this pot-boiler as "shameful and unfounded lies". In India, no fewer than 200 Christian organisations have succeeded in having the film blocked from release, and even here in placid little Britain the officials of Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, the Archbishop of Westminster, have called for it to carry a "health warning".

You may think that the Church is barmy to get so hot under the dog-collar, and you may think that Austen Ivereigh, the Archbishop's public affairs man, has forgotten the golden rule of his trade.

Why, you may ask yourself, are they rising to the bait? And yet the more one thinks about the doctrinal message of The Da Vinci Code, the clearer it is that the Catholics are right to think this a seditious text.

It is not just the sex. Among Dan Brown's assertions is that Jesus had a long, loving and matrimonial relationship with Mary Magdalene, a former prostitute. This is, of course, a vaguely embarrassing allegation to make about a man who has always been taken to be a model of chastity, but it does not seem in itself a fatal blow to Christianity.

They were married, says Dan Brown; there is no suggestion of fornication; and plenty of other early Christians were married and had children. No, it is not the News of the World aspect of the book that worries the Church, or which is now filling the shelves of WH Smith with Da Vinci-ana. It is the simple possibility of Christ's reproduction that is so mesmerising; and, in discussing this idea with such awful readability, Dan Brown has reopened a controversy that the Church thought had been settled in ad325.

The reason this piffle is such a howling hit is that it resurrects the great unspoken doubt in the minds of all Christians, that has existed ever since the doctrine of the Incarnation. It is about whether Christ can really be man and God at once.

If you walk round the Louvre at a less frenzied pace than Tom Hanks and co, you will notice a fascinating gradual change in the depiction of the ancient gods. As the human race gains in intellectual self-confidence, the image of the divine becomes more and more anthropomorphic.

Egyptian jackals, Babylonian curly-bearded cow-hoofed centaurs: they all give way to the human-shaped gods of the Greeks and the Romans until finally, at the very moment when the Romans have first declared that their emperor is a god, a Jewish heresy also announces that God has been made man in the form of Christ, and from then on there were those who couldn't get their heads round it.

If he was a god, how come he died? And if he was a man, how did he rise from the dead? From the very beginning of Christianity, there were Gnostics, who contested the full divinity of Christ, and by the third century AD the chief exponent of this type of view was a Libyan Christian bishop called Arius.

The Catholic Church said Christ was of the same substance as the father, coeternal. No, no, said Arius, he couldn't be of the same substance; he was just similar; he was just a chap really; not homoousios, but homoiousios.

Arius spoke for everyone who has ever said that "Jesus was a really great guy and a great teacher, but I don't think he was really the biological son of God". He had many supporters, and the wrangle engulfed the Christian world until Constantine settled it rather incompetently at the Council of Nicaea in 325, and the doctrine of the Trinity was pronounced.

But the controversy rumbled on for hundreds of years, until it produced its most potent successor, Islam, which regards the idea of the son of God as blasphemous.

By depicting Jesus as a man who fathered, Dan Brown is making the same objection as Arius, and putting his finger on the logical problem in the doctrine of the Incarnation. Are the descendants of Christ meant to be divine? Patently not. But why not, if Jesus was God?

The answer must be that Jesus was not of one substance with the father, and that is why the Catholic Church is so rattled. This book may be bilge, but it awakens an ancient and distinguished heresy. Dan Brown is the new heresiarch, and I vote that he, the Pope, Austen Ivereigh and the rest of us convene a new Council of Nicaea to settle the matter.

Boris Johnson is MP for Henley

Supreme Court of India HELD in 1977: "Article 25 guarantees to all persons right to freedom and conscience and the right freely to profess, practice and propogate religion subject to public order,
morality and health. The word 'propogate' has been used in
the Article as meaning to transmit or spread from person to
person or from place to place. The Article does not grant
right to convert other person to one's own religion but to
transmit or spread one's religion by an exposition of its
tenets. The freedom of religion enshrined in Art. 25 is not
guaranteed in respect of one religion only but covers all
religions alike which can be properly enjoyed by a person
if he exercises his right in a manner commensurate with the
like freedom of persons following other religion. What is
freedom for one is freedom for the other in equal measure
and there can, therefore, be no such thing as a fundamental
right to convert any person to one's own religion. "

Full judgement follows. k.





RAY, A.N. (CJ)
RAY, A.N. (CJ)

1977 AIR 908 1977 SCR (2) 611
1977 SCC (1) 677

Constitution of India--Article 25(1)--Freedom of reli-
gion--Right to profess--Practice and propogate
religion--Whether forcible and fraudulent conversion in-
cluded--Public order--Meaning of--Seventh Schedule List II
Entry 1--Madhya Pradesh Dharma Swatantraya Adhinivam
1968--Orissa Freedom of Religion Act 1967--Constitutional
validity of.

The constitutional validity of the Madhya Pradesh
Dharma Swatantraya Adhiniyam, 1968, was challenged in the
High Court of Madhya Pradesh and the constitutional validity
of the Orissa Freedom of Religion Act, 1967 was challenged
in the High Court of Orissa. The two Acts prohibit forcible
conversion and make the offence punishable. The Madhya
Pradesh High Court upheld the validity of the Act. The
Orissa High Court held that Art. 25(2) of the Constitution
guarantees propogation of religion and conversion is a part
Christian religion; that the State Legislature has no power
to enact the impugned legislation which in pith and sub-
stance is a law relating to religion; and that entry 97 of
List I would apply.
Upholding the validity of both the Acts,
HELD: (1) Article 25 guarantees to all persons right to
freedom and conscience and the right freely to profess,
practice and propogate religion subject to public order,
morality and health. The word 'propogate' has been used in
the Article as meaning to transmit or spread from person to
person or from place to place. The Article does not grant
right to convert other person to one's own religion but to
transmit or spread one's religion by an exposition of its
tenets. The freedom of religion enshrined in Art. 25 is not
guaranteed in respect of one religion only but covers all
religions alike which can be properly enjoyed by a person
if he exercises his right in a manner commensurate with the
like freedom of persons following other religion. What is
freedom for one is freedom for the other in equal measure
and there can, therefore, be no such thing as a fundamental
right to convert any person to one's own religion. [616
B-F, 617 A-B]
(2) The Madhya Pradesh Act prohibits conversion from one
religion to another by use of force, allurement or fraudu-
lent means and matters incidental thereto. Similarly, the
Orissa Act prohibits conversion by the use of force or by
inducement or by any fraudulent means. Both the statutes,
therefore, clearly provide for the maintenance of public
order because if forcible conversion had not been prohibited
that would have created public disorder in the States.
The _expression "public order" has a wide connotation.
[617 C-E]
Ratilal Panachand Gandhi v. The State of Bombay & Ors.
[1954] S.C.R. 2055; Ramesh Thappar v. The State of Madras
[1950] S.C.R. 594; Ramjilal Modi v. State of U.P. [1957]
S.C.R. 860 and Arun Ghosh v. State of West Bengal [1966] 1
S.C.R. 709, followed.
(3) If an attempt is made to raise communal passions,
e.g. on the ground that someone has been forcibly converted
to another religion it would in all probability give rise
to an apprehension of a breach of the public order affecting
the community at large The impugned Acts therefore fall
within the purview of Entry 1 of List II of the Seventh
Schedule as they are meant to avoid
disturbance to the public order by prohibiting conversion
from one religion to another in a manner reprehensible to
the conscience of the community. The two Acts do not
provide for the regulation of religion and do not fall under
Entry 97 of List I. [618 A-C]

1511 of 1974.
(Appeals by certificate./Special Leave from the Judg-
ment and Order dated 23-4-1974 of the Madhya Pradesh High
Court in Misc. Petition No. 136/73).
Criminal Appeal No. 255 of 1974.
(From the Judgment and Order dated 23-4-1974 of the
Madhya Pradesh High Court in Criminal Revision No. 159/71)
Civil Appeal NOs. 344-346 of 1976.
(Appeals by Special Leave from the Judgment and. Order
dated 24-10-1972 of the Orissa High Court in C.J.C. 185, 186
and 217 of 1969).
Frank Anthony, in CA 1489, CrI. A. 255/74 and CA 346/76
for the appellant in CAs 1489 and 1511/74 and Crl. A.. No.
255/74 and RR. 1 and 2 in CAs 346/76.
Soli J. Sorabiee in CA 1511, Crl. A. 255/74 1. B. Dadac-
hanji, K. J. John O.C. Mathur and Ravinder Narain for the
appellant in CAs 1489 and 1511/74 and Crl. A. No. 255/74 and
RR. 1 and 2 in CAs 346/76.
Gobind Das (In CAs 344-346/76) B. Parthasarthi, for the
appellants in CAs 344-346/76.
Soli J. Sorabjee, B.P. Maheshwari and Suresh Sethi, for
R. 3 in CA 346/76.
Brijbans Kishore, B.R. Sabharwal, for RR. in CA 345/76.
Gobind Das,Raj Kumar Mehta,for the Intervener (State
of Orissa) in C.A. 1489/74.
The Judgment of the Court was delivered by
RAY, C.J. These appeals were heard together because
they raise common questions of law relating to the interpre-
tation of the Constitution.
Civil Appeals No. 1489 and 1511 of 1974 and Criminal
Appeal No. 255 of 1974 are directed against a judgment of
the Madhya Pradesh High Court dated 23 April, 1974. We
shall refer to these as the Madhya Pradesh cases. Civil
Appeals No. 344-346 of 1976 relate to a judgment. of the
orissa High Court dated 24 October, 1972. We shall refer
to these appeals as the Orissa cases.
The controversy in the Madhya Pradesh cases relates to
the Madhya Pradesh Dharma Swatantraya Adhiniyam, 1968,
hereinafter referred to as the Madhya Pradesh Act. The
controversy in the Orissa cases arises out of the Orissa
Freedom of Religion Act, 1967 hereinafter referred to as the
Orissa Act.
The provisions of the 'two Acts in so far as they relate
to. prohibition of forcible conversion and punishment there-
for, are similar and the questions which have been raised
before us are common to both of them. It will, therefore,
be enough, for the purpose of appreciating the controversy,
to make a somewhat detailed mention of the facts of the
Madhya Pradesh case.
The Sub-Divisional Magistrate of Baloda-Bazar sanctioned
the prosecution of Rev. Stainislaus for the commission of
offences under sections 3, 4 and 5(2) of the Madhya Pradesh
Act. When the case came up before Magistrate, First-
Class, Baloda-Bazar, the appellant Rev. Stainislaus raised
a preliminary objection that the State Legislature did not
have the necessary legislative competence and the Madhya
Pradesh Act was ultra vires the Constitution as it did not
fall within the purview of Entry I of List II and Entry I of
List III of the Seventh Schedule. The appellant's conten-
tion was that it was covered by Entry 97 of List I so that
Parliament alone had the power to make the law and not the
State Legislature. An objection was also raised that the
provisions of sections 3, 4 and 5(2) of the Act contra-
vened Article 25 of the Constitution and were void. The
Magistrate took the view that there was no force in the.
objection and did not refer the case to the High Court
under section 432 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1898.
The appellant applied to the Additional Sessions Judge
for a revision of the Magistrate's order refusing to make a
reference to the High Court. The Additional Sessions Judge
also took the view that no question of constitutional impor-
tance arose in the case and he did not think it necessary
to make a reference to the High Court.
The appellant thereupon applied to the High Court for
revision under section 439 of the Code of Criminal Procedure
and he also filed a petition under Articles 226 and 227 of
the Constitution.
The High Court heard both the revision and the writ
petition together. The appellant raised the following three
questions in the High Court :--
(i) that sections 3, 4, 5(2) and 6 of the M.P.
Dharma Swatantraya Adhiniyam, 1968 are viola-
tive of the petitioner's fundamental rights
guaranteed by Article 25 ( 1 ) of the Consti-
tution of India;
(ii) that in exercise of powers conferred by
Entry No.. 1 of List II, read with Entry No. 1
of List III of the Seventh Schedule the Madhya
Pradesh Legislature in the name of public
order could not have enacted
the said legislation. But the matter would
fail within the scope of Entry No. 97 of List
I of the Seventh Schedule, which confers
residuary powers on Parliament to legislate in
respect of any matters not covered by List
I, List I1 or List III. Therefore, it is
contended that Parliament alone had the power
to legislate on this subject and the legisla-
tion enacted by the State Legislature is ultra
vires the powers of the State legislature;
(iii) that section 5(1) and section 5(2) of
the M.P. Dharma Swatantraya Adhiniyam, 1968
amount to testimonial compulsion and,
therefore, the said provisions are violative
of Article 20(3) of the Constitution of
The High Court examined the controversy with reference
to the relevant provisions of the Madhya Pradesh Act and
the Madhya Pradesh Dharma Swatantraya Rules, 1969 and held
as follows :--
"What is penalised is conversion by force,
fraud or by allurement. The other element is
that. every person has a right to profess his
own religion and to act according to it. Any
interference with that right of the other
person by resorting to conversion by force,
fraud or allurement cannot, in our opinion, be
said to contravene Article 25(1) of the Con-
stitution of India, as the Article g
uarantees religious freedom subject to public
health. As such, we do not find that the
provisions of sections 3, 4 and 5 of the
M.P. Dharma Swatantraya Adhiniyam, 1968 are
violative of Article 25(1) of the Constitution
of India. On the other hand, it guarantees
that religious freedom to one and all includ-
ing those who might be amenable to conversion
by force, fraud or allurement. As such, the
Act, in our opinion, guarantees equality of
religious freedom to all, much less can it be
said to encroach upon the religious freedom
of any particular individual."
The High Court therefore held that there was no justi-
fication for the argument that sections 3, 4 and 5 of the
Madhya Pradesh Act were violative of Article 25(1) of the
Constitution. The High Court in fact went on to hold that
those sections "establish the equality of religious
freedom for all citizens by prohibiting conversion by objec-
tionable activities such, as conversion by force, fraud and
by allurement".
As regards the question of legislative competence, the
High Court took note of some judgments of this Court and
held that as "the phrase 'public order' conveys a wider
connotation as laid down by their Lordships! of the Supreme
Court in the different cases. We are of the opinion that
the subject matter of the Madhya Pradesh Dharma Swatantraya
Adhiniyam, 1968 fails within the scope of Entry No. I of
List II of the Seventh Schedule relating to the State List
regarding public order".
On the remaining point relating to testimonial compul-
sion with reference to Article 20(3)of the Constitution,
the High Court held that section 5 of the Madhya Pradesh
Act read with Form A, prescribed by the Rules, merely made
provision for the giving of intimation to the District
Magistrate about conversion and did not require its maker to
make a confession of any offence as to whether the conver-
sion had been made on account of fraud, force or allurement,
'which had been penalised by the Act. The High Court thus
held that mere giving of such information was not violative
of Article 30(1) of 'the Constitution. But the question of
testimonial compulsion within the meaning of Article 20(3)
of the Constitution has not been raised for our considera-
The Orissa cases arose out of petitions under Article
226 of the Constitution challenging the vires of the Orissa
Act. The High ,Court stated its conclusions in those cases
as follows:--
(1) Article 25(1) guarantees propagation of
religion and conversion is a part of the
Christian religion.
(2) Prohibition of conversion by 'force' or by
'fraud' as defined by the Act would be covered
by the limitation subject to which the right
is guaranteed under Article 25 (1).
(3) The definition of the term 'inducement' is
vague and many proselytizing activities may be
covered by the definition and the restriction
in Article 25 (1) cannot be said to cover the
wide definition.'
(4) The State LegisLature has no power to
enact the impugned legislation which in pith
and substance is a law relating to religion.
Entry No. 1 of either List II or List III does
not authorise the impugned legislation.
(5) Entry 97 of List I applies.
The High Court has therefore declared the Orissa Act to be
ultra vires the Constitution and directed the issue of
mandamus to the State Government not to give effect to it.
The criminal cases which were pending have been quashed.
The common questions which, have been raised for our
consideration are (1) whether the two Acts were violative of
the fundamental right guaranteed under Article 25(1) of the
Constitution, and (2) whether the State Legislatures were
competent to enact them ?
Article 25(1) of the Constitution reads as
"25(1) Subject to public order,' morality and
health and to the other provisions of this
Part, all persons are equally entitled to
freedom of conscience and the right freely to
profess, practise and propagate religion."
Counsel for the appellant has argued that
the right to 'propagate' one's religion means
the right to convert a person to one's own
religion. On that basis, counsel has argued
further that the right to convert a person
to one's own religion is a fundamental right
guaranteed by Article 25 (1) of the Constitu-
The _expression 'propagate' has a number of
meanings, including "to multiply specimens of
(a plant, animal, disease etc.) by any
process of natural reproduction from the
parent stock", but that cannot, for obvious
reasons, be the meaning for purposes of Arti-
cle 25 (1) of the Constitution. The Article
guarantees a right to freedom of religion,
and the _expression 'propagate' cannot there-
fore be said to have been used in a biologi-
cal sense.
The _expression 'propagate' has been de-
fined in the Shorter Oxford Dictionary to mean
"to spread from person to person, or from
place to place, to disseminate, diffuse (a
statement, belief, practice, etc.)"
According to the Century Dictionary (which
is an Encylopaedic Lexicon of the English
Language) Vol. VI, 'propagate' means as
follows :--
"To transmit or spread from person to
person or from place to place; carry forward
or onward; diffuse; extend; as
propagate a report; to propagate the Christian
We have no doubt that it is in this sense. that the word
'propagate' has been used in Article 25 (1), for what the
Article grants is not the right to convert another person
to one's own religion, but to transmit or spread one's
religion by an exposition of its tenets. It has to be
remembered that Article 25 (1) guarantees "freedom of
conscience" to every citizen, and not merely to the follow-
ers of one particular religion, and that, in turn, postu-
lates that there is no fundamental right to convert another
person to one's own religion because if a person purposely
undertakes the conversion of another person to his religion,
as distinguished from his effort to transmit or spread the
tenets of his religion, that would impinge on the "freedom
of conscience" guaranteed to all the citizens of the coun-
try alike.
The meaning of guarantee under Article 25 of the Con-
stitution came up for consideration in this Court in Ratilal
Panachand Gandhi v. The State of Bombay & Ors. (1) and it
was held as follows :--
"Thus, subject to the restrictions which
this Article imposes, every person has a
fundamental right under our Constitution not
merely to entertain such, religious belief as
may be approved of by his judgment or con-
science but to exhibit his belief and ideas in
such overt acts as are enjoined or sanctioned
by his religion and further to propagate his
religious views for the edification of
(1) [1954]S.C.R. 1055.
This Court has given the correct meaning of the Article, and
we find no justification for the view that it grants. a
fundamental right to convert persons to one's own reli-
gion. It has to be appreciated that the freedom of religion
enshrined in the Article is not guaranteed in respect of one
religion only, but covers all religions alike, and it can be
properly enjoyed by a person if he exercises his right in a
manner commensurate with the like freedom of persons follow-
ing the other religions. What is freedom for one, is free-
dom for the other, in equal measure, and there can there-
fore be no such thing as a fundamental right to convert any
person to one's own religion.
It was next been argued by counsel that the Legislatures
of Madhya Pradesh, and Orissa States did not have legisla-
tive competence to pass the Madhya Pradesh Act and the
Orissa Act respectively, because their laws regulate 'rel-
igion' and fall under the Residuary Entry 97 in List 1 of
the Seventh Schedule to the Constitution.
It is not in controversy that the Madhya Pradesh Act
provides for the prohibition of conversion from one religion
to. another by use of force or allurement, or by fraudulent
means, and matters incidental thereto. The expressions
"allurement" and 'fraud' have been defined by the. Act.
Section 3 of the Act prohibits conversion by use of force
or by allurement or by fraudulent means and section 4 pena-
lises such forcible conversion. Similarly, section 3 of the
Orissa Act prohibits forcible conversion by the use of
force or by inducement or by any. fraudulent means, and
section 4 penalises such forcible conversion. The Acts
therefore dearly provide for the maintenance of public
order for, if forcible conversion had not been prohibited,
that would have created public disorder in the States.
The _expression "Public order" is of wide conno-
tation. It must have the connotation which it is meant to
provide as the very first Entry in List II. It has been
held by this Court in Ramesh Thapper v. The State of
Madras(1) that "public order" is an _expression of wide
connotation and signifies state of tranquility which pre-
vails among the members of a political society as a result
of internal regulations enforced by the Government which
they have established".
Reference may also be made to the decision in Ramjilal Modi
v. State of U.P. (2) where this Court has held that the
right of freedom religion guaranteed by Articles 25 and 26
of the Constitution is expressly made subject to public
order, morality and health, and that "it cannot be predicat-
ed that freedom of religion can have no bearing whatever on
the maintenance of public order or that a law creating an
offence relating to religion cannot under any circumstances
be said to have been enacted in the interests of public
order". It has been held that these two Articles in terms
contemplate that restrictions may be imposed on the rights
guaranteed by them in the interests of public order. Refer-
ence may as well be made to the decision in Arun Ghosh v.
State of WeSt Bengal(a) where it has been held that if a
thing disturbs the current of the life of the community,
(1) (1950) S.C.R. 594.
(2) (1957) S.C.R. 860
(3) (1966) 1 S.C.R. 709
and does not merely affect an individual, it would
amount to disturbance of the public order. Thus if an
attempt is made to raise communal passions, e.g. on the
ground that some one has been "forcibly" converted to anoth-
er religion, it would, in all probability, give rise to an
apprehension of a breach of the public order, affecting
the community at large. The impugned Acts therefore fall
within: the purview of Entry I of List II of the Seventh
Schedule as they are meant to avoid disturbances to the
public order by prohibiting conversion from one religion to
another in a manner reprehensible to the conscience of the
community. The two Acts do not provide for the regulation of
religion and! we do not find any justification for the
argument that they fall under Entry 97 of List I of the
Seventh Schedule.
In the result Civil Appeals No. 1489 and 1511 of 1974
and Criminal Appeal No. 255 of 1974 fall and are dismissed
while Civil Appeals No. 344-346 of 1976 are allowed and the
impugned judgment of the Orissa High Court dated 24 October,
1972 is set aside. The parties shall pay and bear their own
costs, in Madhya Pradesh appeals. The State shall pay the
respondent costs in the Orissa appeal according to previous
C.As. Nos. 1489 & 1511 of 1974 and
Cr. A. No. 255 of 1974 dismissed.
C.As. Nos. 344--346 of 1976 allowed.

Vatican slams anti-conversion law in India

NEW DELHI: The Christian missionaries engaged in proselytisation received a major boost on Friday when Pope Benedict came out in the open to oppose the law banning conversion.

Agency reports from Paris said Pope Benedict, in an unusually strong language, told India's new ambassador in the Vatican that efforts in some states to outlaw conversions were unconstitutional and should be rejected.

The papal assertions comes in the backdrop of Rajasthan government's efforts to enact an anti-conversion law. The Bill, passed by the state assembly, was forwarded to the governor last month.

Reports from Jaipur said state governor Pratibha Patil has not given her assent. She has referred the Bill to the President for his advice. It will be interesting to watch the Presidential response in the context of the strong statement from the Pope.

The Pope on Friday also appeared to be endorsing a section's claim that religious intolerance was rampant in India. "

The disturbing signs of religious intolerance which have troubled some regions of the nation, including the reprehensible attempt to legislate clearly discriminatory restrictions on the fundamental right of religious freedom must be firmly rejected," the Pope told India's ambassador Amitava Tripathi.

New Delhi swiftly rejected the Papal assertions. "It is acknowledged that India is a secular and democratic country in which adherents of all religious faiths enjoy equal rights. The Constitution of India states that all persons are equally entitled to freedom of conscience and the right freely to profess, practice and propagate religion," a statement issued by the external affairs ministry said.

The BJP also reacted sharply to the papal assertions. "The constitutionality of anti-conversion laws in India may be best left to India's legislative and constitutional processes.

Indian laws which prohibit conversion — caused by duress, undue influence or bribery — are not merely legitimate or constitutional, they are also morally and ethically correct," BJP general secretary Arun Jaitley said. Pope Benedict's assertions are not surprising as he is known to hold ultraconservative views.

Before becoming the Pontiff, for 25 long years, he was the head of the Vatican office that oversees doctrine.

The Pope has been controversial for his hard-line views and had never shown any flexibility on the Church's views on priestly celibacy and contraception.

, he had invited controversy when he described rock music as the "vehicle of anti-religion"; dismissed feminist interpretation of the Bible; and asked bishops to deny Communion to those who support abortion. This hard-line positions earned him nicknames such as Panzercardinal, God's Rottweiler and the Grand Inquisitor.


By B.Raman

Quoting Afghan Government sources, the BBC reported on May 19,2006, that the Western forces in Afghanistan have captured Mulla Dadullah of the Taliban in the Kandahar area. There has been no official announcement so far confirming his capture. It is not known when and under what circumstances he was captured. The Taliban has denied the report of his capture.If true, his capture is an important gain for the Afghan army and the Western forces operating from Afghanistan in their attempts to quell the activities of a resurgent Taliban, which is referred to by some analysts as the Neo Taliban.

2.The 38-year-old Mulla Dadullah is a Pakistani national belonging to the Kakar tribe of Balochistan. It is the same tribe to which Gen.Abdul Waheed Kakar, who was Pakistan's Chief of the Army Staff during the second tenure of Mrs.Benazir Bhutto as the Prime Minister (1993-96) belonged. A product of one of the madrasas of Balochistan, he joined one of the Afghan Mujahideen groups as a teenager in the 1980s and distinguished himself in the jihad against the Soviet troops sponsored by the USA's Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) with the assistance of Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). He distinguished himself in the fight against the Soviet troops, despite losing a leg.

3. When Mulla Mohammad Omar formed the Taliban in 1994 at the instance of Maj-Gen.Naserullah Babar, the Interior Minister of Benazir, to escort the cotton convoys of Mr.Asif Zirdari, her husband, from Turkmenistan to Pakistan through the Herat area of Afghanistan, Mulla Dadullah joined it and rose to be the Chief Military Commander of the Taliban's army. He held this post at the time of the launching of the US military strike against the Taliban and Al Qaeda on October 7,2001. He and Mulla Omar crossed over into Balochistan and took shelter with the Kakar tribe.

4. In 2003, at the instance of the ISI, Mulla Omar, the Amir of the Taliban, reconstituted the Taliban army to launch a new jihad in Afghanistan---this time against the Western forces. He asked Mulla Dadullah, who continued to enjoy the confidence of the ISI, to act as the chief military commander of the new Taliban army, which consisted of experienced jihadi fighters of the pre-October 7,2001, vintage as well as new recruits from the madrasas and Afghan refugee camps of Pakistan. The new Taliban army was trained by the ISI and started operating in the Pashtun majority areas of Southern and Eastern Afghanistan from sanctuaries in Balochistan and in the Waziristan area of the Federally-Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). Within a short period of time, Dadullah raised not only a well-motivated army, but also constituted a suicide squad of Afghan and Pakistani nationals for undertaking suicide missions against the Afghan army and the Western forces.

5. The total strength of the Neo Taliban army raised by him with the help of the ISI is estimated by reliable sources as about 5,000, but Dadullah himself has been claiming that it has a strength of about 20,000.

6. Dadullah himself has repeatedly denied any Pakistani role in the activities of the Neo Taliban. In an interview over the Al Jazeera TV channel on July 20,2005, Mulla Dadullah stated as follows:

"Mullah Omar and other Taliban leaders have already stated that attacks against the infidels and the apostate government of Afghanistan would escalate as soon as the harsh winter weather gives way to warmer one. There have also been significant changes in tactics, types of weapons, financial support, and support of the Afghan people."
"All Afghan people are Muslims; they all have weapons and know how to use their weapons. The majority of them are supporters of Taliban and their Jihad against the enemies of Islam. Few have been drawn to the dollars. There are also Arab Mujahideen in Afghanistan. Faithful Muslims will always join the fight to eradicate the enemies of Allah."
'The current government (of Mr.Hamid Karzai) was forced on the Afghan people by the Americans. Afghan people now see the crimes committed by this government and their American protectors. People do not hold us responsible for destruction of infrastructure and homes. People know that the enemies of Allah always resort to carpet bombing of everything whenever they are not able to fight and defeat the Mujahideen. Furthermore, preserving the religion is far more important than preserving hospitals, homes, mosques, etc. All world powers became united and came to Afghanistan to dismantle Islam. Therefore, it is the duty of Muslims to defend their religion first and foremost.We do not target innocent civilians, hospitals, market places, etc. The offices or buildings we have targeted and burnt are those used by mercenaries to convert young Afghans to Christianity under the guise “social services”.

"We currently have advanced weapon systems and we are getting even more advanced weapons, logistic and high tech support systems in the next few months."
"One must remember that the goal of the Kafir is not limited to Afghanistan. They want to uproot Islam altogether and they will go to any length to accomplish that. We do not operate out of Pakistan, Iran, or any other neighboring country. The Americans are lying and they always do to cover up their failure to eradicate Jihad and defeat the Mujahideen. Every now and then they let their media machine spread lies about our presence in Pakistan and the need for Pakistan government to do more to track down, kill or capture mujahideen. They do that to avoid questions at home about lack of progress in their war against us."
" Taking cities is not part of our present tactics. Our tactics now are hit and run; we attack certain locations, kill the enemies of Allah there, and retreat to safe bases in the mountains to preserve our Mujahideen. This tactic disrupts and weakens the enemies of Allah and at the same time, allows us to be on the offensive. We decide the time and place for our attacks, in this way the enemy is always guessing. We have attacked and occupied certain locations for a short period of time. This was done only to achieve the objectives of the operation. But we will always retreat to our safe bases."
"We do not see or meet with Mullah Omar. His orders reach us and they are implemented as ordered. That is the Grace of Allah, He bestows on whom ever He wishes. But you must understand that our fight is for the purpose of preserving and protecting this great religion, Islam, and we do not base our fight on a particular person."
"Pakistan has turned its back on us and has helped the Americans in their fight against us. Pakistan allowed its territories to be used as launch pads from which Americans attack Mujahideen in many places. Iran is a sworn enemy of us, so are other neighboring countries. If Mullah Omar was within the territory of a country that is an enemy of us, he would have been detained by now. I do not know where he is, it is possible that he is a in a mountain area that is not under the control of any country. It is reasonable to assume that he is in a safe place with only 5-10 of his top trusted lieutenants while the rest of Mujahideen do not know his location."
"Cooperation between us and Al Qaeda is very strong. Many of our Arab mujahideen brothers are fighting alongside of us to establish the religion of Allah. We will accompany Al Qaeda anywhere to fight the enemies of Allah."
"Great numbers of Muslims support us in spite of Bush’s wish. Bush claims to have cut off all financial support channels to Mujahideen, but we have continued to receive support from our Muslim brothers across the globe. Jihad requires large sums of money and Alhamdulillah (praise be to Allah), we are getting what we need."
"We have been approached by the Americans more than once to negotiate a settlement to the situation in Afghanistan. We have always refused. Our message to them was to unconditionally withdraw their forces from the country as a first step. Negotiation can then follow, but the only item that would be up for negotiation is their crimes against Afghanistan and its people and how they are expected to compensate for that."
7.In an interview on December 27,2005, Dadullah ruled out any reconciliation with Karzai's government. He said that the Karzai Government "owed its existence" to non-Muslims, and to hold talks with it would amount to "joining Christianity and working for Christians."

8.On February 10,2006, the Afghan Islamic Press quoted him as claiming that the anger in Afghanistan over the Danish cartoons has made a large number of Afghans volunteer for suicide missions against Western troops. As a result, he claimed, the number of suicide volunteers available with the Taliban has increased from 200 to 1200. He added: "We have links with the Mujahideen in Iraq and we have also been planning to send our fighters from Afghanistan to Iraq and Iraqi fighters will come here." He asserted that both Osama bin Laden and Mullah Mohammad Omar were alive, but denied knowledge of their whereabouts. He announced a reward of five kilos of gold for anyone killing a soldier from Denmark, Norway and Germany deployed in Afghanistan and 100 kilos of gold to anyone killing the Danish cartoonist and the publishers of the newspaper which carried the cartoons.

9.In December 2005 a court in Pakistan sentenced Dadullah to life in prison for trying to kill conservative Islamic politician Maulana Mohammad Khan Sherani in 2004. Mr Sherani escaped unhurt.

10. In its issue of October,2003, the "Newsline", the reliable and well-informed monthly of Karachi, gave the following account of the re-constitution of the Neo Taliban army and the role of Dadullah in it:

"Hundreds, possibly thousands, of youths from religious schools across Pakistan have joined the ranks of Taliban cadres that have regrouped in Afghanistan in the last few months. According to one estimate, at least 5,000 youths including former Taliban soldiers who went underground after the fall of their regime in December 2001, and students from religious seminaries from Balochistan, have joined their compatriots in Afghanistan. Many of these young men are known in the ranks as 'sarbaz' (those who have given their lives to the cause and readily sacrifice them in suicide missions). Regrouped, reorganised and rearmed, these warriors are now all set to launch a new guerrilla war for as long as it takes to expel what they call the 'infidel forces' from Afghanistan.

" According to sources, there have been sporadic attacks against coalition forces since the war began in Afghanistan, but earlier these were on a limited scale. However, after the Taliban supremo Mullah Omar gave a call a few months ago to some of his trusted commanders who have so far escaped the coalition dragnet to reorganise the movement and to launch fresh attacks against Afghan and US forces, the limited strikes have acquired the dimensions of an uprising that is creating serious problems for the new Afghan government and the international troops.

"Credible reports reveal that some months ago Mullah Omar despatched the one-legged Afghan war veteran, Mullah Dadullah Kakar and Maulvi Sadiq Hameed to Balochistan to launch a recruitment campaign for jihad in the seminaries in the province, while Hafiz Majeed was asked to garner the support of the tribal chieftains and elders in southern Afghanistan. "Hafiz Majeed was chosen to approach the tribal leaders because of his contacts in southern Afghanistan, while Mullah Dadullah was sent to Pakistan because he is not only widely respected by members of the Kakar tribe to which he belongs, but also by many Pashtun youths because of his bravery and fighting spirit," says a Taliban insider. According to him, Mullah Dadullah, the most trusted of Mullah Omar's lieutenants and one of the Taliban's chief training and recruiting officers, is a living legend, because despite losing a leg during the war with the Russians and being grievously wounded on several occasions, with the scars to show for it, he retains the same zeal and vigour that he did as a young man.

" In the recent conflict, Dadullah continued to fight the international forces in the country's southern Kunduz province even after the Taliban government had fallen in December 2001. Thereafter however, he escaped to Pakistan, where the Kakar tribesmen living in southern Balochistan province gave him shelter. "During this period he moved from one place to another, including the Kuchlak refugee camp, and Pasheeen and Kila Saifullah districts in Balochistan. The tribesmen not only provided him shelter, but also collected donations which amounted to a sizeable sum, which they handed over to him and, in addition, bought him a Land Cruiser," says a source. Subsequently, when there was intimitation that he might be arrested from one of his safe houses in Balochistan, they reportedly shifted him to a house in Karachi's PIB colony - an area largely populated by affluent Pathan businessmen.

" In the last few months, accompanied by a few comrades from Afghanistan, Dadullah has reportedly visited dozens of religious schools in Pakistan's tribal areas and in some districts of Balochistan with a mission to ignite religious fervour among the students and induct them in the cause of jihad. Those who are convinced by his argument and volunteer to join are provided information about how to proceed to Afghanistan, whom to contact and the modus operandi of the resistance. A Taliban insider disclosed, "In the past two years Mullah Dadullah has made repeated trips to and from Afghanistan. However, he has not been here since June because after the Taliban stepped up their activities, Dadullah has personally been engaged in fierce battles with Afghan forces in the Zabul province."

" The Taliban militia emerged on the national scene in the mid '90s from southern Afghanistan. Their main strength was young students called 'talibs,' most of whom were the products of religious seminaries run by fundamentalist clergymen. After two years of keeping a relatively low profile, Mullah Omar has apparently decided to tap this source once again to constitute a new Taliban force. Judging by the numbers, it seems he has struck pay dirt. Hundreds of youths have already crossed the border from Pakistan into Afghanistan, and many others are raring to follow.

" According to reports, Mullah Omar has asked his 'recruiting agents' to apply a new strategy for enlistment this time. His lieutenants have been directed to personally meet students and directly exhort them to join the mission. They have been emphatically told not to enlist the services of either the principals of the madrassas or the leaders of Pakistani religious parties for this purpose. "Mullah Omar believes that most of these leaders are cowards, or have been bought by US dollars and so cannot be trusted," says one of his associates, who carries Mullah Omar's inspirational messages to the students.

" According to Mullah Omar's uncle Akhwand, Omar, an extremely pious and fiercely honest man, engenders respect in every Afghan mujahid. "Over the past two decades jihad has become a multi-billion dollar enterprise, and during the Russsian invasion many religious leaders and so-called mujahideen cashed in and became billionaires. Omar on the other hand made not a single penny either during his fight with the Russians, or later when he was made Amir-ul-Momineen (Leader of the faithful)," says Akhwand. Mohammed Riaz, a former Taliban warrior, corroborates Akhwand's contention, and further contends, "Everyone talks about Osama bin Laden, but I can tell you that Mullah Omar was the only person who could give him orders, and argue with bin Laden."

"Hundreds of elder tribesmen have volunteered their youths to us," says 30-year-old Mohammed Amin, who is currently heading a group of Taliban in the Pashmol district of Kandahar province. "They include small children, some even under 12. Who will suspect them of being informers? Many of them work as our lookouts, and supply us important information. The transporters who ply the highways are main source of information. They tell us about the movement of government and foreign troops. Once we obtain these details, we devise our strategy accordingly," he says.

" Amin also discloses that many former Taliban soldiers and their supporters have infiltrated the ranks of the present Afghan army. "For us, they are like our 'moving bugging devices.' They not merely provide information about troop movement, but also attack and kill the troops whenever they get a chance," he maintains. Amin refers to an incident three months ago at Mail Pull checkpost near Spin Boldak, in which six soldiers loyal to former Kandahar governor, Gul Agha, were gunned down by a Taliban soldier who had managed to enlist in the Afghan army.

"According to Amin, at the moment the Taliban have a fighting strength of over 30,000, and many more are joining the ranks each day. However, for security purposes, Amin discloses, the fighters do not move in packs, or assemble in large concentrations at a time, being dispersed in diferent provinces from Paktika to Paktia, Nangarhar to Kandahar and from Helmand to Zabul to Uruzgan. "Usually about 20 of them, each led by a commander, stay at one place," he says, adding that the commander of each group is always in touch with the chief commander of the area and constantly receives instructions from him.

" The fighters' modus operandi is simple. They emerge from their hideouts after sunset and either wait along highways for the jeep patrols of Afghan soldiers or ambush their outposts once the soldiers are asleep. "We are always well-prepared before we attack because our informants in the Afghan army have given us all the necessary data, such as the number of soldiers at the outpost, the amount of weaponry they possess, even their sleeping habits," says Amin. Most attacks are conducted at night. "Only suicide missions are conducted by daylight," he discloses.

" Interestingly, even this still relatively rag-tag assortment of soldiers is impressively equipped with satellite phones and wireless sets. Amin shows me his equipment and a hand-written letter bearing Mullah Omar's signature addressed to the Taliban, referring to them as 'brothers' and 'true soldiers of Islam.' The letter exhorts the men to fight and release their people from the 'slavery of the infidel US.' Amin says Mullah Omar writes two kinds of letters. "Some of them are confidential, only for the eyes of the Taliban commanders; the others are for the general cadres, which are read out to every one," he says.

" Twenty-eight-year-old Habibullah, who spent many years in refugee camps in Pakistan and has now joined the militia, adds that the Taliban have now devised a secret code to communicate. "The code has helped immeasurably in securing us and our operations," he says. However, he is realistic about the Taliban's position. "We have passion and guts, but know that we don't have the technology available to withstand air strikes like the B-52 bombings. We could probably even take Kabul, but we recognise our limitations, and the fact that we probably wouldn't be able to hold it," he acknowledges.

" He adds, "What we are trying to do is to inflict maximum damage on US troops and their allies so that they get fed up and leave our country like the Russians, who only quit because of the long and unyielding resistance by the Afghans. Once the Americans leave, we will easily be able to take over." (20-5-06)

( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat. Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai. E-mail:

MAHARASTRA : Regional disparity in project investment

Source: Projects Today

Madhu Chittora

Maharashtra, the most industrialised state, ranks first in terms of total envisaged projects investment. As of March 2006, the state had 2,240 projects entailing a total investment of Rs 2,04,351 crore. These investments accounted for around 9.5 per cent of the total investment planned in the country.
More than half of the total investment planned in the state is concentrated in the services and infrastructure sector. Power and irrigation projects account for 15 per cent and 17 per cent respectively. Manufacturing sector, where outstanding investment increased by a mere 1.4 per cent, accounted for around 10 per cent of the total investment planned in the state.
Although Maharashtra is the largest recipient of projects investment in the country, the investment is not evenly spread across the state. The regional disparity in the project investment since 1990 has not lessened. Around 45 per cent of total investment planned in the state is concentrated in the five coastal districts of Thane, Mumbai, Raigarh, Ratnagiri and Sindhudurg; another 10 per cent is concentrated in three western districts of Pune, Satara and Kolhapur.
Among 35 districts, five districts - Raigarh, Ratnagiri, Sindhudurg, Greater Mumbai and Pune - accounted for half of the projects planned.
Raigarh district topped the list with 120 projects worth Rs 30,264 crore. The Rs 4,800 crore SEZ project of Sea King Infrastructure, the Rs 4,000 crore Ville power project of Tata Power and the Rs 3,500 crore container terminal expansion project of JNPT are some of the large projects lined up in the district.
Pune, ranked second in total investment, has 310 projects worth Rs 26,300 crore. Unlike Raigarh, in Pune, most of the investment is in infrastructure sectors. The Rs 8,000 crore Amby Valley project of Sahara India and the Rs 1,700 crore township project of Magarpatta Township Development Company are the two large projects coming up in this district.
The Rs 13,000 crore Jaitapur nuclear power project of Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd and the Rs 10,000 crore Krishna irrigation project of Maharashtra Krishna Valley Development Corporation are the two largest projects currently being implemented. The Rs 16,000 crore, 4,000-mw ultra mega power project proposed by Coastal Maharashtra Mega Power Ltd is the largest project in the state.
Maharashtra is broadly divided into five regions: Konkan, Southern and Northern Maharashtra, Marathwada and Vidharbha and Northern. An analysis of projects investment across these regions reveals interesting aspects:

Konkan region, comprising Greater Mumbai, Thane, Ratnagiri, Sindhudurg, and Raigarh, attracted 1,104 new projects worth Rs 85,072 crore. The five coastal districts accounted for 42 per cent of the total investment planned in the state. Refinery, ports, power, steel and real estate projects dominate the investment map in this region.

Southern Maharashtra
With around 440 projects with a total investment of Rs 31,349 crore, the southern Maharashtra region cornered around 15 per cent of total investment. The region comprises Pune, Kolhapur, Satara, Sangli and Solhapur districts. Among these districts, Pune not only accounted for 83 per cent of total investment but also registered a healthy growth of 8.8 per cent over last year's investment statistics. The Rs 1,600 crore international airport and the Rs 1,450 crore light rail transport projects are the two mega projects proposed in Pune.

Marathwada region, comprising Ahmednagar, Aurangabad, Beed, Jalna, Hingoli, Nanded, Latur, Osmanabad and Parbhani, could manage to attract only Rs 5,128 crore worth of investment. To make matters worse, total investment registered a fall of 8.5 per cent compared with figures a year ago. The Rs 3,900 crore Godavari irrigation project is the largest project currently under implementation in the region.

Vidharbha region with a total investment of Rs 21,790 crore accounted for nearly 10 per cent of total investment. Within the region, Nagpur, Amaravati and Chandrapur districts have cornered around 70 per cent of the capex. The Rs 5,000 crore international cargo hub project and the Rs 900 crore PSF project of Indo Rama are the two large projects coming up in Nagpur. Two large cement projects of Murali Agro and Ultra Cement are coming up in the natural resource rich Chandrapur district.

Northern Maharashtra
In Northern Maharashtra, comprising Dhule, Nashik, Nadurbar and Jalagaon, total outstanding investment stood at Rs 4,172 crore with 129 projects. Dhule attracted around Rs 532 crore of investment with 401.5 per cent growth compared to last year. The cotton yarn project of Vertex Spinning Ltd worth Rs 409.36 crore is in planning stage.

[01 May 2006]

May 19, 2006

Venezuela intends to import the bulk of weapons from Russia

Venezuela intends to import the bulk of weapons from Russia – ambassador

19 May. Venezuelan Ambassador to Russia Alexis Navarro Rojas in an interview with Interfax expressed the intentions of his country to negotiate Russian arms deliveries to Venezuela.

"Venezuela needs to renew its arms systems. Several years ago we decided that we won't buy weapons from the United States and that the bulk of new orders will be placed with Russia. Our military experts have studied the parameters of the arms that Russia is offering and concluded that they are the best in the world," the ambassador said.

Rojas said there are several reasons why Venezuela is switching from importing U.S.-made weapons to Russian-made products, including the "aggressive foreign policy of Washington" and "irresponsibility in the fulfillment of contracts."

"The weapons we are getting from Russia come with guarantees of further maintenance services and personnel training," he said.

The Venezuelan government is preparing for talks on the delivery of Su-35 fighters from Russia, Rojas said.

"Our pilots have flown on Su-27 and Su-30 fighters already. They have simply fallen in love with the aircraft. They have also tried piloting Su-35. Now we are waiting for talks to begin," he said.

Russia has already delivered Mi-17 helicopters, which Venezuela is using for transportation and also for border patrols to prevent drug trafficking. The delivery of Mi-26 and Mi-35 helicopters is also expected, Rojas said.

In the near future Venezuela will also receive 100,000 Kalashnikov assault rifles. "Some people are trying to underestimate the importance of the weapons, but they are very important for us as we will use them to replace outdated guns that had been used for over 55 years," the ambassador said.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is planning to visit Russia at the end of August - beginning of September, Rojas said.

"President Chavez has approached the Russian leadership asking to visit Moscow at the end of August - the beginning of September. We are awaiting a reply from the Russian side. President Chavez likes visiting Russia," he said.

The foreign minister will accompany Chavez. Rojas said that the Venezuelan defense minister may also visit Russia in June to discuss Russian arms deliveries, as well as space cooperation.

Speaking of relations between Venezuela and the United States the ambassador said: "We don't want a war, but even less do we want to give in to the imperialist policy of the United States."

"In the past few years Washington has been pursuing an aggressive policy and is in a state of war with other countries, as part of its search for cheap sources of energy," he said.

"In these conditions it would be irresponsible of the Venezuelan government to sit doing nothing in the face of aggression. Presently the threat is quite real," he said.
Venezuela will resort to an asymmetric response should it be subject to foreign aggression, the ambassador said.

Speaking of international affairs he mentioned the Iranian nuclear program. "Iran should be given the right to a nuclear program as has been the case with other countries, namely Pakistan, India and Israel," he said.

He said the Venezuelan authorities have no plans to stop oil deliveries to the United States.

"We have never spoken about stopping shipments of oil to the United States under previously signed commercial contracts," he said.

Rojas said oil cooperation can be severed only at Washington's initiative.
The Venezuelan authorities could blow up all of the country's oil wells in the event of a U.S. military operation in Venezuela, he said.

"We will have to defend our energy reserves in the event of aggression. No country has the right to aim to control our natural resources. We will defend them," he said.

Venezuela wants to buy Russian jets

Venezuelan ambassador to Russia Alexis Navarro said Caracas expects to negotiate the purchase from Russia of new warplanes, a Russian news agency reported Friday, as quoted by AP.

The information came a few days after the United States a ban on US weapons sales to Venezuela.

Navarro said President Hugo Chávez wanted to visit Russia in August-September this year, Interfax informed.

"We are waiting for a Russian reply," Navarro said.

Some Venezuelan pilots have already tested military aircraft Su-27 and Su-30, Navarro claimed.

"They liked the jets a lot... Now we are waiting for negotiations to begin," he added.

If the deal were achieved, it would become the latest step in a series of Venezuelan purchases of Russian weapons. Caracas has bought 100,000 Kalashnikov rifles -despite Washington objections-, and on April a commander of the Venezuelan Army said they planned to buy around three dozens of military helicopters.On Monday, Washington prohibited the sales of US military goods and services to Venezuela, which further deteriorated their tense relations.

Quote of the Day : Intelligence agencies Vs. Political Masters

"Political masters accept intelligence estimates in keeping with their political considerations. . ...Intelligence is the best scapegoat because these agencies work in secrecy and don’t have PR outfits to set the record straight. "

--Air Marshall Ashok Goel ( India)

May 18, 2006

Interview with the Commander of Jondollah and his Hostage

Interview with the Commander of Jondollah and his Hostage:
Pass Our Message!
Maryam Kashani
14 May 2006

In a telephone conversation with Rooz Online, Abdol-Malek Rigi, the commander of the notorious armed group Jondollah which has killed Iranian nationals, military personnel and even officials or taken them hostage, allowed us to speak with one of its current hostages Amir Harati. The interview was held in two sessions on the same day. Here are the excerpts

Rooz ®: Could you please introduce yourself?
Abdol-Malek Rigi (AMR): I am Abdol-Malek Rigi, 23 years old and I am in charge of the Jondollah movement.
R: You started rather soon.
AMR: [laughing] I had to. When I saw that they are not letting me grow up, I was forced to take up arms.
R: When did you take up arms?
AMR: It is four years now.
R: How did you come to the conclusion that you needed to take up arms? What were you trying to do that you couldn’t achieve, leading you to resort to arms?
AMR: In the past we resorted to many means to protect the national and religious rights of the Baluchis and Sunnis in Baluchistan province. As you know, everybody in Baluchistan is a Sunni and a Baluch. But since this revolution, some 27 years ago, till today the Sunnis have remained the most impoverished group in the country with lots of serious issues. They have suffered and been tortured. The Sunnis in general, and the ethnic minorities such as the Kurds and Baluchis in particular have always had major problems. But since the Kurds have been more active, and have been closer to other countries, have had more political activities, they have made their demands known to the world. It has been different for the Baluchis who have never made their voices heard. Whenever they engaged in religious activities, they were branded as foreign agents and hanged. Hundreds of Sunni clerics, activists and combatants have lost their lives. We now notice in Tehran that someone like Akbar Ganji has launched programs for democracy, which the world supports. Everybody talks about him, even the whole world, and journalists. Everybody heard his calls and spread them to the world. But in Baluchistan we have not had that. If anybody made a sensible criticism about something or some official, he would be immediately arrested or completely eliminated, or silenced. Many have been subjected to all kinds of torture. What I am saying is that before us, there were many who wanted to engage in political activities but the government denied this to them. That is when we started our activities with the aim of defending our rights. And then we realized that there is no other way than to take up arms and begin an armed struggle. This is our last means.
R: Where did you study? How did you learn about these things?
AMR: Right here. Through life. We realized that no one was defending our rights. Whenever a journalist is arrested, the whole world is mobilized against it. Whereas our problems are never pursued. There was a case when a man was arrested because he had a CD, and then his hand was cut off. Today I heard a man had been arrested because he had a Tasuki CD [Tasuk is a region in the south of Iran), and then his nails were pulled out of his fingers. How could we remain indifferent when things like this happen to our people. You tell me, do we have an option other than armed struggle? They have committed genocide in our province. They kill people simply because they are Baluchis or Sunnis. What other posture can we adopt against them? The have not left any democratic solution for us. They have crushed our national and religious identity, and then they call us secessionists! We are not secessionists. Had we been, we would not have accepted talks with them. Even though these people are not trustworthy. We want to hold talks with them in the presence of formal international organizations. Talks in the desert or in a house are useless. We do not trust them because they have revoked on their earlier promises they made to us.
R: How many hostages do you hold right now?
AMR: 6 are from the town of Tasuki, and we have Ahmad Sheiki who is a senior commander in the Baseej para-military force.
R: Who was the young man you recently killed?
AMR: His name was Hamid Reza Kaveh. He was a colonel in the police, a commander of Special Forces. You have no idea what he had done.
R: So you had planned these hostage events?
AMR: Yes, some of them. Our targets were the governor and governor general of the province, who escaped. Since then, they have been saying that we are simply smugglers and vagabonds. I do not refute that among our tribes smugglers exist as well. But we must look and understand why they have become smugglers. Why do they instill hatred against the Baluchis when the Baluchis are like any other Iranian. Nobody hears their calls.
R: Is it possible to talk to the hostages?
AMR: [silence] Yes, call back in 6 hours.
6 hours later
AMR: Come talk to him.
R: Hello. Who are you?
Amir Harati (AH): I am Amir, Amir Harati.
R: When did they capture you?
AH: About two months ago. I was in Tasuki on my way from Zabol to Zahedan when they captured me.
R: What do you do?
AH: I am a police officer.
R: An officer?
AH: Yes. I am serving in Zahedan. I was driving in my personal car. They thought that I am part of the military and so captured me [his voice begins to crack].
R: What is your condition now?
AH: I am in good spirits. They treat us well and we have no problems in this regard.
R: What are you concerned about?
AH: We want to return to our families [he says with a cracked voice]. If they meet the requests of these brothers, then I will be returned to my wife and children.
R: If officials could hear you now, what would you tell them?
AH: [he begins to plea] I urgently request that they solve the Jondollah issues. They too have prisoners. Their prisoners have been in limbo for years now. Free them so they too can return to their families. Then we too shall be able to return to ours. I have personally talked to Mr. Shahriari who is a Majlis (Iran's Parliament) MP. I asked him what he had done for us. He said we pray for you. What kind of an answer is this. We can do that ourselves here, day in, day out.
R: Are you Shiite?
AH: Yes.
R: What is your request and message?
AH: I request in the name of the same God that you and we believe in, to do what these brethren want so I can return to my life. I am innocent. Why do they call and say “kill them, make them martyrs”? Is this the God’s way?
R: Do you mean some officials tell Jondollah to kill you?
AH: Yes. They tell them to kill us. They way we have plenty of martyrs. Is this a human thing to say?
R: Where are you being kept? In which country?
AH: It is not clear to me. I think we are in the mountains of Baluchistan. Our eyes were blindfolded when we were brought here.
R: Do you believe that if the wishes of these people are not fulfilled, they will kill you?
AH: Yes. Absolutely.
R: How do they kill?
AH: [silence] I do not know. I know that if their requests are not met, they will definitely kill us. Please convey our message to the authorities. We have not committed any crime. Please do something so that our request and those of the Jondollah are met.
The phone goes dead, as if Mr. Amir Harati was taken away.
R: Are you there, Mr. Rigi?
AMR: [heavy voice] Yes
R: Difficult situation, isn’t it?
AMR: Yes
R: Both sides are in a difficult situation.
AMR: Yes. We too are suffering because these people are here. Just as we suffer about the conditions of our people who are under torture and pain over there. I was told today that they had attacked people and their houses. They took away innocent people. We even told the government to leave innocent people aside and deal with us. We are soldiers, as are you. We can tolerate each other. But these Shiites and Farsis on one side and Sunnis and Baluchis on the other are innocent people and unarmed. But since they cannot fight us, they attack the innocent and the unarmed. They view us not only as not Islamic, but also sub-human. Honestly I think the problems that we have in our region are non existent any where else in the world. The government itself wants this. It wants to crush the Sunnis and eliminate them.
R: These problems are very fundamental. You wish to resolve them with 4 hostages?
AMR: No. We have done it so the government comes forward to fundamentally solve the problems. They however respond with force. They have sent 22,000 forces to the region to fight us, crush us. And no one in the world hears us. Where are these human rights organizations? Why is it that they can’t hear our voices and calls?
R: Are you sure they can’t reach you?
AMR: Yes
R: How?
AMR: We have experienced their fights. They make big claims. The reality is different. In one battle with us, they brought in some 200 vehicles and 1,700 soldiers. They attacked us from the air and the ground. They attacked at 7am and then they requested a cease fire at 4:30pm to pick up their dead. We know them and their strength very well. They can’t reach us, so they attack the innocent.
R: So you are in Iran now?
AMR: I am on Iranian soil.
R: What is your relationship with Iran? Are you after separation?
AMR: If they do not listen to our requests and continue their evil plans in the region, things between us shall be the same. The Shiite can freely practice their views here now, but if a Sunni says something different, he will end up in prison. You have seen our livelihood. We cannot continue living like this. We have come to the conclusion that death is better than this life.
R: I asked about your relationship with Iran. Do you see yourself as an Iranian?
AMR: Yes. We are Iranians. Iran is my motherland. This land and its waters belong to all Iranians. We do not want to destroy the national unity and the territorial integrity of the country. I openly and without fear talk to all government officials and tell them our views. I have told them that I do not wish to destroy the regional situation, especially under the current conditions that Iran is under. But if they continue, we will have to opt for a policy that brings us closer to victory. If you respond to us with force, then there is no difference between you and a foreigner. I have made this very clear to officials, who unfortunately think that just we are talking with them, we are in a weak position.
R: Do you think they will release your prisoners? Doesn’t look like it.
AMR: Our deadline has passed. We shall wait a few more days. If nothing happens, then we shall act and capture even more important people. We will then capture their most senior people. Then they will come forward to make a deal with us.

The conflicts in Balochistan

By: Dr Jumma Khan Marri.

"Diplomacy is the art of telling someone to go to Hell in such a way that he looks forward to the journey!"

The Pakistani diplomacy failed with Baloch again and again because it was lacking the fundamental issue that is “sincerity” from Islamabad.

More then two years we were told that the parliamentary committee formed to resolve Balochistan issues will approach all politico-nationalist parties of Balochistan to ascertain the problems faced by the province. They assured that all the problems would be resolved amicably. Hence Pakistan’s Punjabi military lead diplomacy told us go to hell.

But finally the results were gunship helicopters and F 16s who brought the mail from Islamabad with powerful massage (Oh you Balochis give up or face our mighty army) according to Balochi tradition Baloch decided to the last offer, since then things are not so quite in Balochistan.

Balochistan being the largest Pakistani province, once an independent country known was commanding huge territory stretching from Helmond to Gomel Rivers in north, Kerman in west, Multan in east, down to the seas is clearly mentioned in history books, due to lack of commanding leadership and Baloch unity we got our country divided among our three neighbors likes a birthday cake. Balochistan’s uniqueness is an undisputed and self-evident which is duly supported geographically. Today if counting all Baloch territories inside Pakistan which is more then 48% of the total Pakistani land mass but a mere 6 % of its population, with the richest natural resources yet with the lowest per capita income is now in the focus of world political attention.

The daily rocket attacks by Baloch freedom fighters under different covert organisations such as Baloch liberation army (BLA), Balochistan liberation movement (BLM), Baloch resistance army (BRA) Baloch liberation front (BLF) Baloch National Army (BNA) all these different organisations are the remnants of the once more powerful organization in 1970s called Balochistan peoples liberation front (BPLF) must remind the central Govt in Islamabad that Baloch are really very much tired of their repression and betrayals and once again rose up to face the tyranny of the state. The recent constant attacks on the natural gas pipe lines and other installations at Sui and all around the Balochistan are just the first signs in that direction the bitter battles are yet to come.

The recent attacks on the gas have deprived millions of people across the country of their major source of cooking and heating particularly at a time when the country was in the grip of a severe winter. The constant disruptions of the gas supply to power plants, fertilizer and industrial plants has been causing, according to officials, a loss of millions of dollars daily in revenue since the attacks in early January. The fast repair of the gas installations and electric pylons some times takes weeks and coast billions of rupees to the already shaky economy of the country.

The strongman of Pakistan, Gen. Pervez Musharraf had, in a knee-jerk reaction of a soldier, threatened the Baloch people with all out war especially to Marri and Bugti tribes and their potentate Sardars of a severe military crackdown: "You won’t even know what hit you".

The general kept his promise by sending large chunk of his fighting army in already aggravated situation beyond imaginations we found large numbers of Baloch people displaced from their homes hundreds mostly helpless women, children killed and thousands political workers picked from different areas in Balochistan sent to unknown torture cells. The situation in Balochistan is going out of their control on every coming day. Having their failures and experiences in Balochistan and Bangladesh in the past the generals in Islamabad are scratching their heads what to do next?

The growing awareness among the Baloch masses and specially the Baloch youth has brought the Pakistani Govt into hysteric situation and the Govt responded by posting well-equipped security contingents at all the gas installations at Sui, Pirkoh and Loti. Instead of giving some relief to Baloch peoples Govt tightened their already powerful grip in Balochistan even went further by deploying thousands of Para military forces in all key positions through out Balochistan by hampering the free movement of Baloch people inside their own home lands.

To prolong their rule and to continue the plunder of Baloch natural resources the Govt came out with a new idea last year they formed a committee to asses the grievances of the people but the committee came out with a resolutions and conclusions that all the Baloch problems are based due to the lack of finances and the generous Islamabad based committee recommended the centre to give 5 billion rupees of aid to Balochistan hence all the problems were solved the committee concluded that few Baloch might be recruited in FC the committee was very generous to Baloch people, but neither money or job came after all these were recommendations not promises.

We were told that few mega projects will help solve Balochistan’s problems once and for ever, we understand our volatility on such projects that these projects were meant to help eliminating Baloch from their lands by mass migration of non Baloch population in Balochistan and turn Baloch into minority in their lands perhaps in this way Islamabad understands the solutions to the problems of Baloch people.

The commercial and strategic significance of the Gwadar port, the network of planned and under construction roads, the vast mineral resources of the province, new dams and canals being built, and its location straddling the projected gas pipelines from Iran, have generated further apprehensions among the Balochistan people as to their share in all these activities.

Baloch fear and are sure that Punjab would certainly usurp all benefits accruing from the mega developmental projects. A perennial grievance of the Baloch intellectuals and politicians have been that the wealth of their province is being transferred to the already better off majority province of Punjab and that the armed might of the country is being utilized to protect this exploitation. In the words of Baloch people, "The central Govt thinks that natural resources inside Balochistan are national assets, where as Baloch think that they are Baloch national assets, and whoever wants to use them must do so through the consent of Baloch people, keeping the Baloch interests in view and giving top priority to Baloch people as this is their right and they are owner of their wealth, Pakistan wants direct possession of Baloch land and their wealth."

That is where the conflict of interest lies. The Baloch people want a larger slice of revenue. Whether it is in public or private interest, is open to question. Open to question also is the meager percentage of the natural gas revenues allotted to the province. From the perspective of the literacy rate in Balochistan (over 75%), poverty-stricken (85% below poverty line) Baloch, they would keep rotting in the present sub-human conditions unless the grueling economical and political hold over them is broken and their children are enabled to go to schools and technical institutes to acquire skills to earn living wages and Balochistan Govt gets all command on Baloch Natural resources and control of immigration inside Balochistan.

There are practically no job opportunities for Baloch youth what ever little jobs available are beyond their reach unless they are provided with requisite education and skills. One has yet to be informed of a single Sardar or Govt in Balochistan who has dedicated his or their efforts to bring educational facilities to their followers or Baloch lands. Education promotes independent thinking and weakens the hold of Sardars, Waderas and corrupt bureaucratic hold. Government and their puppets authorities in Balochistan too have purposely for half a century remained indifferent to this urgent need. The Sardars have instead been busy controlling their tribes under their boots.

Eighty per cent of Balochistan was demarcated by the British as tribal territory to be administered by tribal leaders locally and only the remaining 20 per cent comes under civilian administration now feeling the heat the Islamabad wants to reverse this sat up and make all Balochistan as police administrated territory, as before tribal areas were virtually no go areas for Govt officials without the consents of the tribal leaderships.

Although the various Baloch tribal Sardars have adroitly dealt with Baloch tribes regime after regime at the center to maintain their Sardari system. This system seemed to have worked for the benefits of both parties the Sardars and Govt who helped each other when the situation were unfavorable to them but now the things seemingly are changing at least on behalf of Sardars.

The wind of change blowing now through Balochistan portends a reduction in their clout, and Baloch youth are coming forth is worrying sign for both Sardars and Govt that is why we have seen recent brutal crackdown by Govt against the BSO united as matter of fact more then 70 Baloch youth either member of Baloch youth movement or their sympathizers are in different Pakistan jails with different cases incremented against them

If an army continues their brutal atrocities in Balochistan all these militants and youth organizations’ such as Baloch unity (BU), Baloch Student organistion (BSO), Baloch libration army (BLA), Baloch libration movement (BLM), Baloch libration front (BLF), Balochistan libration organistion (BLO), Baloch resistance army (BRA), Baloch national army (BNA), Balochistan national movement (BNM), Baloch united front (BUF), along with Baloch four party alliances JWP, NP, BNP, and Huq Tawar have been resisting this; hence the conflict of interest and the instigation of crises will give serious blow to the Govt and will give headaches to the military commanders in Islamabad. For want of local support, the commanders wouldn't have fared any better than the American commanders in Iraq.

With Gwadar slated to be the gateway to central Asia and the outlet for the goods produced in Xinxiang (Sinkiang) and adjoining Chinese territories, the future of Pakistan is linked to the future and progress of Balochistan. Pakistan's policy makers would be well advised to let logic and saner councils prevail over instincts and, above all, the temptations of paranoiac arrogance.

To ensure security to the high-cost ongoing projects of Gwadar, highways, mineral extraction, building of dams and canals, Pakistani authorities want to set up cantonments at Gwadar, Dera Bugti, and Kohlu apart from enhancing the facilities at the existing garrisons at Quetta and Khuzdar. The fearless Baloch people of can create an administrative nightmare for Punjabis to control Balochistan if Baloch stand as united force and give up their tribal conflicts and their leadership show little wisdom and give up their selfishness for grand Baloch unity.

Intelligence Brief: Brazil's Nuclear Ambitions

Brazil's Science and Technology Minister Sergio Rezende told the press on May 6 that Brasilia has launched a uranium enrichment center for fueling its power plants. Brazil's first nuclear enrichment facility, located in Resende (about 140 kilometers (87 miles) outside Rio de Janeiro), will "save Brazil millions of dollars it now spends to enrich fuel at Urenco, the European enrichment consortium," the minister said. Brazil's move has great industrial, geopolitical, and financial significance.

With regard to industrial aspects, it is important to recall that the South American giant is already one of the world's leaders in alternative energy. For three decades, it has consistently promoted the use of ethanol in place of gasoline for use in automotives; therefore, ethanol now accounts for as much as 20 percent of the Brazilian transport fuel market.

Although the use of carbohydrates instead of fossil fuels is not a recent discovery, Brazil's determinacy to industrially implement ethanol as a commercially-viable alternative may pave the way to decisive changes in the automobile market because the South American state is one of the most promising emerging markets globally.

Brasilia is wagering on a combination between alternative fuels like ethanol and nuclear power. Such a mix is similar to recent French plans to launch a new generation of nuclear plants while boosting renewable energies and bio-fuels.

The geopolitical consequences of Brasilia's moves, however, are even more important. Early this year, Brazilian authorities claimed their country is already well ahead on the path to energy independence. Therefore, Brazil's entry into the nuclear club is a crucial step in its struggle to end dependence on fossil energies. At a time of increasing regional and global conflict over energy security, Brasilia's decision will greatly enhance its political independence from both fossil energy producers and the great powers that deeply influence energy geopolitics.

Brazil is South America's potential hegemon because of its size, resources, demography, and geographic location. Its future independence from Venezuelan and Bolivian oil and gas will make the country less vulnerable from potential blackmail by such medium regional powers, thus reinforcing its position as a continental leader. [See: "Bolivia's Energy Nationalization Causes Concern in Brazil and Argentina"]

Moreover, should Venezuela succeed in improving its economic fundamentals decisively as a result of its present oil-based energy policy, it can be expected that Caracas will use fresh financial strength to rapidly follow Brazil's path and try to access the nuclear club in its turn. This development would have serious implications for the region.

Since the energy crisis -- due to growing oil and gas demand, fears of peak oil capabilities, and geopolitical instability in oil-rich regions-- is nowadays structural, Brazil's nuclear projects consolidate a global trend: atomic power is once again gaining momentum. Although costs to finance nuclear plants and their security are often considered exorbitant, atomic energy enjoys growing popularity 20 years after the Chernobyl disaster, as it appears more viable than hydrogen-based solutions. [See: "Intelligence Brief: French Energy Policy"]

The Brazilian civilian nuclear program will also constitute a thorny political-diplomatic issue for the U.N. and the global political community. Brazil's purposes are in fact formally identical to those of Iran's. The U.S. and their main allies, however, do not believe that Iran would stop its nuclear enrichment capabilities to serve solely civilian projects because of Iranian political culture and structures, and its sour relations with Israel.

As Brazil goes nuclear, Tehran will not miss the opportunity to highlight the incomprehensible difference of U.S. and Western diplomatic attitudes toward the two countries. As a result, military action against Iran's nuclear infrastructure will be even more difficult to justify in front of worldwide Muslim public opinion.

From a financial point of view, Brazil's move needs to be carefully examined by global operators. As nuclear projects gain impetus worldwide, energy commodity hedge funds will get involved in the economic game that will follow. The induced industrial sector and investments will also be under scrutiny by financial decision makers and investors.

The Power and Interest News Report (PINR) is an independent organization that utilizes open source intelligence to provide conflict analysis services in the context of international relations. PINR approaches a subject based upon the powers and interests involved, leaving the moral judgments to the reader. This report may not be reproduced, reprinted or broadcast without the written permission of All comments should be directed to