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Memories of Another day

Memories of Another day
While my Parents Pulin babu and Basanti devi were living

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Singur Siege: Brand India, Internal corporate Imperialism and the Ways of Leftist Fascism!

Singur Siege: Brand India, Internal corporate Imperialism and the Ways of Leftist Fascism!

Troubled Galaxy Destroyed Dreams: Chapter 55

Palash Biswas

Imperialism - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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Mamata suggests solution to Singur deadlock
31 Aug, 2008 [05:49 PM]

Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee said members of agitating group will meet the Governor on Sunday to press shifting of Tata Motors' ancillary units close to the Nano project site to end the deadlock in Singur.
Read More

Calcutta Telegraph CII condemns Singur violence
Hindustan Times, India - 10 hours ago
Press Trust Of India Apex industry chamber CII on Friday condemned violence at Singur, where Tata Motors is setting up plant for its Rs one lakh car Nano, ...
‘Singur will resonate in India’s global image’ Hindu
CII speaks tough on Singur, says it is disconcerting
Industry chorus to save plant Calcutta Telegraph
all 11 news articles »

Times Singur impasse continues, WB Governor steps in
Hindu, India - 2 hours ago
Singur-Kolkata (PTI): As the impasse over Singur issue persisted, West Bengal Governor Gopal Krishna Gandhi on Sunday stepped into the scene by suggesting a ...
Singur impasse continues, WB Governor steps in Press Trust of India
Singur crisis: WB Gov writes to Mamata Zee News
Will Mamata respond to WB Governor's call? Times
Press Trust of India
all 11 news articles »

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Voice of America
West Bengal wants Tata to stay: NDTV poll - 1 hour ago
West Bengal supports the Tata Nano factory in Singur. This is the finding of an NDTV-GfK MODE opinion poll. Seventy five per cent of all those surveyed in urban, rural Bengal and around Singur have said that the coming of the Tatas is good for the ...
Nano will be beneficial for West Bengal: Pranab Economic Times
'Mamata's demand impossible;land can't be returned legally' Hindu
Hindustan Times - Press Trust of India - - Sify
all 552 news articles » हिन्दी में »

Voice of America Singur will unleash fear, uncertainty in investors: Murthy
Press Trust of India, India - 3 hours ago
Bangalore, Aug 31 (PTI) Software icon NR Narayana Murthy warned today the deadlock in Singur over Tata's Nano plant following agitations will "unleash fear ...
Youth fear loss of job scope if Tatas leave Singur Economic Times
Work at Tata Motors Singur plant comes to halt Hindustan Times
No end in sight for Singur stalemate (Roundup) SINDH TODAY - Hindustan Times
all 552 news articles »

Voice of America
Who killed VHP leader? Hindus, Christians divided - 10 hours ago
VIOLENCE FLASHPOINT: The Naxals have been active in these forests of Kandhamal for past many decades. What lies at the core of the tension - religious conversions, poverty or growing intolerance?
Christians may form militia for self-defence: Church leader Economic Times
Kandhamal crisis: Hatred through the cracks in Harmony Zee News
Hindustan Times - The Observer - Howrah News Service - BBC News
all 856 news articles »

Accord on Amarnath issue signed, Samiti suspends stir
Hindu - 53 minutes ago
Jammu (PTI): The more than two-month-long agitation in Jammu over the Amarnath land transfer row ended on Sunday as the state government and the group spearheading the movement signed an agreement allowing the shrine board to make use of 40 hectares of ...
Amarnath Samiti to celebrate Aug 31 annually as 'Vijay Diwas' Times of India
Samiti ends stir over land row, curfew lifted in Jammu
Sify - Kashmir Observer - - News Agency of Kashmir
all 559 news articles »

Fresh News
Revised draft exemption likely to be rejected: ACA
Hindu - 2 hours ago
Washington (PTI): The revised draft exemption for India to be presented before the Nuclear Suppliers Group has not been modulated as per the group's demands and is likely to be rejected, a top arms control specialist said on Sunday.
India jittery about this week's NSG meet
India circulates revised draft among NSG members Economic Times
Daily News & Analysis - Chandigarh Tribune - The Statesman - Times of India
all 411 news articles »

Separatists reject accord, sporadic incidents in Valley
Sporadic violence occurred in Kashmir with mobs, protesting among
other things the accord on the Amarnath land issue.
Bihar flood situation worsens as new areas go under water
With the water of river Kosi engulfing fresh areas in Bihar's North
Eastern 16 districts, flood situation in the state worsened.
Relocation of ancillary units will solve problem: Mamata
Mamata Banerjee said members of agitating group will meet the Governor
to press shifting of Tata Motors' ancillary units.
Deadline for Marathi signboards not extended: ThackerayOrissa: Additional security personnel deployed in Koraput‘India may open Srinagar-Muzaffarabad trade route’Two women get jail term for 'indecent acts' in Dubai More

Brand India Ruling Hegemony led by CII and Global Market forces have come out to defend NANO launching an unprecedented Misinformation campaign.

Intelligentsia India stands rock solid with Singur Insurrection!

Meanwhile, the brand Indian Army led by C.K. Birla, Jamshyd Godrej, Sunil Bharti Mittal and S.K. Munjal were some among the army of industrialists who urged all involved to ensure that the Tatas weren’t forced to pull the plug on the project..Venu Srinivasan and K.V. Kamath, representing CII, also threw their voices behind the Nano factory through separate statements. Mukesh Ambani had articulated his support on Wednesday.

On Saturday, Kolkata intelligentsia assembled in Dhramatolla to express their support to Ms Mamata Bannerjee in her agitation in Singur! Tapasi Malik, the gang raped murdered teenager girl was once again posted on the centre of a Banner of SANHATI SAMABESH.

"There is a one line solution. Everything will be settled if the ancillary units are relocated to the land on the opposite side of the small car unit," Banerjee said from her dharna platform, a day after Governor Gopalkrishna Gandhi sent a her letter asking her to call the eight-day long stir.

Sticking to her demand that 400 acres of the land acquired for the small car project be returned to the "unwilling farmers", she said the plant could come up on 600 acres site.

"In that case both industry and agriculture will smile," she said.

SANHATI SAMABESH condemned the continuous Misinformation campaign launched by West Bengal Government, Tata and Media against Singur agitation. it exposed the Lame Excuse of Traffic Jam, deliberately created to confuse general public and subvert the Land Agitation creating artificial crisis of basic commodities in retail market. It was explained that Durgapur Express Way does not carry any Caravan of perishable Fishes, Vegetables or lifesaving drugs as focused on the media led by Anandbazar group, Star Ananda and 24 Ghanta. It was explained with graphic details that GT Road, BT Road and a ten more ways lead to Kolkata via which commodities may reach Kolkata. A resolution was passed to condemn this intriguing misinformation campaign!

Intelligentsia India demands to disclose the Agreement between the government of West Bengal and Tatas. It is never made public quoting third party involvement and violating much hyped RTI Act.

Professor Sunand Sanyal spoke,` The metro is going to witness a Grand Tamasha played by the hypocrite Left. They are organising a Grand Procession against Imperialism!’

He said,`The Anti Imperialism Demonstration led by CPIM is quite hypocritical as the Marxists in India have proved themselves the best agents of Imperialism in this geopolitics. They continued the Congress Government in the Centre to finalise the Strategic Re alliance led by United States of America as well as the Nuke Deal. They withdrew support just to dodge the Vote bank loyal!’

He further said,` Only Indigenous people like those based in Nandigram, Singur and Kalingnagar lead the genuine Anti Imperialism Anti fascism movements! The Ruling Gestapo of the Left, rather, undermines the indigenous people uprooting them from their life and livelihood and killing them mercilessly.He said,` The Left is responsible for the Internal Imperialism to enforce Marxist capitalist development for MNCs, creating Rightist Fascism!’

Dr Sanyal warned,` It will be a Himalayan blunder on the part of the Masses as well as Intelligentsia India if they chose to detach from Singur agitation due to this mischievous subversion created by the Ruling Hegemony!’

Dr Sanyal spoke so well on Internal imperialism!

It reminded me the words of Dr Manager Pandey, the eminent critic from JNU when he spoke on my novel `America Se Savdhan ‘(Be Aware of America) way back in 1996. In fact, the Novel was being published serially in Dainik Awaz published from Dhanbad and Jamshedpur simultaneously. Shramajeevi Patrakr Sangh organised a seminar on the Novel as fifty episodes were already published. Our friends Kripa Sahnkar Chaube and Arvind Chaturved was behind the event. The venue was JANSANSRA where selected audience was present and were hosted very well by Geetesh Sharma known for his book,`On the Name of religion.’ He exposed Religion long before Taslima Nasreen.

The JNU Dean warned, ` Anti Imperialism provokes Blind nationalism which blindly supports repression and annihilation of nationalities and identities until you also protest Internal Imperialism!’

The episodes of the novel were being published countrywide in little mags also and I had to answer and interact with readers on large scale. They wrote me. They encountered me face to face. They called me. Internal Imperialism was the topic on centre stage when I experimented with Interactive Novel Writing as a Creative Anti Imperialist Movement much before the Hindu Zionist White Strategic Re Alliance materialised! Much before the Nuke Deal written! Much before the war against Terrorism struck Asia and Middle east! Much Before the War zone was shifted right into our Heart in this divided bleeding Geopolitics of south Asia!

We were debating on internal Imperialism during the days of Thundering Spring which annihilated the Naxalite Uprising. The ruling Marxists were then aligned with Congress Gestapo of Siddhatrth Shankar Ray. Internal Imperialist Trend of the Marxists was exposed naked in Marichjhanpi Ethnic cleansing in January 1979.

Coincidentally, the Eye Witness of the Massacre, Sanjay Mitra, was there in the Sanhati Samabesh with CDs of ` Marichjhanpi: Tortured Humanity,’directed by Tushar Bhattachary and tele casted five times on Kolkata TV. The CD was on sale and professor Sanyal quoted the Event of First sunrise declared by then the minister of Police, culture and information in Jyoti Basu ministry, Buddhdev Bhattacharya, the Gestapo Head of the Brand India and marxists as well. Buddha declared Marichjhanpi liberated after burning the children of the indigenous refugees from Marichjhanpi, invited to settle in Marichjhanpi by no one else but Jyoti Basu. buddha declared sunrise in Marichjhanpi after dozens of the refugee women were raped and killed, their houses were burnt and their Men were shot and made the fodder for the Royal Bengal Tigers!

The Phenomenon of Marxist Internal Imperialism creating rightist Fascism was introduced by Basu and Bhattacharya long before Neo Liberalism introduced! Long before SEZ drive launched. long before the shopping malls, retail chains, chemical hubs, nuclear parks, flyovers, lock outs, retrenchment, LPG, Privatisation, disinvestment, FDI, Open Market, IT, Mobile and computer Blue revolution came fore front.

Marichjhanpi created the launching pad of internal Imperialism and Rightist Fascism in the Leftist Ruled India. It was the beginning of Nadigram and Singur.

Friends, you might remember, I have posted an On Line Petition with the Vedio of the `Marichjanpi: tortured Humanity’ in You Tube and nadigramunietd, my blog besides so many more sites long before the film was released!

Marichjhanpi genocide was committed during the time while eminent economist Dr Ashok Mitra was the finance minister in Jyoti Basu Ministry. Jatin Chakrabarti was not a rebel then. The left was combined minus CPI. Subhash Chakrabarti had offered the refugees CPIM umbrella to disassociate them the regional force, a constituent of the Left, RSP! Refugees did not oblige. Ram Chatterjee and Kiranmoy Nanda , the ministers of first Jyoti Ministry mobilised the refugees of Dandakarany to create a Vote Bank for the Left, never stood with the refugees. We the Refugees settled in UP, Uttarakhand , Assam, Bihar, Jharkhand, Hariyana, Rajsthan and anywhere in North India did not enter into the trap. Because my father, late Pulin Kumar Biswas did not believe the Bengali Brahmin Marxists and were quite aware of the Marxist Legacy of betrayal and Hypocrisy. he learnt it in Dhimri Block Peasant uprising in 1958. he felt it In Assam in 1960, where he landed to rescue his brothers, the Refugees.

The other parties habitual to enjoy the benefits being in Government with minimum mass base, Forward Block, RSP, SP and so on, supported the Genocide culture and the Gestapo.

Yes, it was the time just after the Tebhaga. Just after the Food Movement. just after the Bangladesh Liberation. Just after the complete surrender, disintegration and repression of Naxalbari!

Yes, it was the time while the Left front Government was engaged in much hyped Land Reforms and Rural Development. The Marxists were heading the mass movements of students, women, indigenous communities, trade unions, peasants and workers. But the Marxists never hesitated to kill the Class Enemies, the refugees, the Indigenous People. The other left and secular parties were silent.

Civil Society was silent.

Intelligentsia India was silent.

The sage of Internal imperialism continues with fullest Volume!

We have witnessed Operation Blue Star!

We have seen ram Janma Bhoomi Movement.

We bear the Military Rule in Kashmir and Entire North East under AFPSA umbrella! We never resisted. We never did address the Nationalities as a nation! We always supported the merciless Military repression of Identities and Nationalities. It is Blind nationalism provoked by Internal imperialism as well as Rightist fascism. So, entire India is fielded against Tamilnadu sometimes. Sometimes it is any state of the North east Isolated, alienated! Some times it is Punjab. Sometimes the communities belonging to minorities are targeted. The Sikhs felt the Heat. The Kashmir People could never liberate themselves from the bondage of second class doubtful citizenship. Tamils and Dravids nevre became the part of the Nation as they happen to be most Vocal nationalities empowered, organised and enlightened. We never cared to know south India! WE press that the People from south should speak Hindi. They, of course learnt Hindi. Kearla has always been a strong base for Hindi. Even Manipur happens to be a strong base of Hindi. it follows the legacy of the philosophy of love introduced by Krishna consciousness as a mass movement against castism by Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.

But would we ask ourselves how many of us in North India cared to learn a single south Indian language!

How many of us know Manipur and its culture!

How many of us know any Nationality in North East!

How many of us sympathise with the Kashmiri people!

How many of us know Jharkhand, Chhattisgargh, Bidarbha, Telengana, Uttarakhand and Gorkhaland, the regions of discrimination inherent!

We have been witnessing the Hindutva Resurrection since 1984 Which is strengthened further by Neo Liberalism and strategic re alliance with Zionism and US Corporate War economy Imperialism and War against Terrorism!

We have witnessed the demolition of Babri Mosque and following Nationwide riots!

We have also witnessed Gujarat Genocide.

Irony is this that the Marxists were most vocal against internal Imperialism, Fascism and United states of America. Though it supported the Soviet aggression on Afghanistan! Though it never opposed the sacred cow, soviet socialist imperialism!

Marichjhanpi, Keshpur or Nanur could not expose the Marxist Masks.

But Nandigram and Singur have succeeded to expose the Ugly faces of the ruling Marxists and proved that the Marxists are also responsible for internal Imperialism and rightist Fascism as the run blindly on the super Highway of Marxist Capitalism projecting Brand India, devastating Indigenous production system and killing our people, the indigenous communities uprooting them from life and livelihood!

Mahashweta Devi has declared to give up writing Novels for Puja Festival as he is engaged in mass mobilisation supporting the Indigenous insurrections in Nandigram, Singur and Kalingnagra!

Bibhas Chakrabarti has rightly written that the Marxists are quite unworthy Rulers as they tend to work as agents of MNCs, Corporates, Builders, Promoters and Mafia!

The director of `Animal Farm’ , Shaoli Mitra exposes the phenomenon of internal Imperialism so well.

Sahity Academy Awarded Writer known Nationwide for his poetry, ` Ei Mritu Uptyaka Amar Desh Noi’( This Valley of Death is never my Country’) exposed Brand India and MNC raj. He questioned the justification of the logic of Nano! If TATAs go, West Bengal is going to face a Doom`s day. He blasted the theory and the Illusion of Nano!

Former Land commissioner of Jyoti Basu Government, responsible for Land Reforms, Debbrata Bandopaddhyaya asserted,`CPIM`s Red Flag does not belong to Hay Market who won the classic battle with their blood to ensure working hour for Eight years!’

He alleged,` It is a red flag colored with the blood of Indigenous communities fighting for their land, livelihood and life in Nandigarm and Singur!’

He said,` The interests of Brand India, CII or Tats are not public interest. The Land Acquisition Act was misused to benefit Tatas. The land acquisition is illegal!’

He suggested the solution for Singur Stand Off,` Just Cancel the acquisition Notification an d return the Land!’

He described the episode involving Tapasi Malik!

Meeratun Nahar, the eminent educationist, Dilip Chakrabarti, Human Right activist Sujat Bhadra, and Dr Anoop Mandal addressed the SANHATI SAMABESH. he exposed the whole process of Industrialisation!

Dr Mandal presented graphic details of the dismal condition in West Bengal Industries. He said that Fifty Six thousand factories have been closed in Left rule . What happened to the land owned by those closed factories. This Massive Land Property might be used for Industrialisation. He discussed Food security, Starvation, privatisation, disinvestment, Unemployment, Health Care, Price rise and economy under Left rule.

He also shared his experience as a member of the Medical team treating the wounded, gang raped Women of Nandigram.

On behalf of Doctors, health workers, Nurses and Junior Doctors as well as medical students he pledged support to Indigenous Insurrections against Internal Imperialism and rightist Fascism of the Marxist Gestapo!

Meher sent this mail:

This appeal is about Sinngur. It was released to the press
at a rally for singur in Kolkata.

Mahasveta Devi, Samar Bagchi , Sumit Sarkar, Tanika Sarkar, Sumit Chowdhury, Aditi Chowdhury, and myself as the drafter signed it last nite

Saoli Mitra, Dr Aseem Rai Chaudhuri, Dipanjan Rai Chaudhuri, Sunanda sanyal,Debabrata Badyopadhyay, Ladli Mukherjee, Saoli Mitra, Gautam Sen, Sabyasachi Deb, Nilanja Datta, Joya Mitra and others whose names have also done so.

Very many more are likely to when friends like you approach them.

please circulate the Appeal as widely as you can. get it published if
possible. do what you like, but get the message out. acknowledge my name as
the appeal's drafter, or don't if that is more likely to work.

the message is the important thing. .



*Appeal To Fellow Citizens*

* *

*The May 2008 Panchayat Elections have been historic. The people of West
Bengal have spoken out, as never before. All political parties, those that
lost and those that gained, now know what the people demand. *

* *

*They demand an immediate full stop to the devious and shabby ways that have
dominated politics in the State for much too long. *

* *

*They are not against change but demand an end to change done above their
heads and in secret by a nexus of political parties and vested interests. *

* *

*Change seeking shall henceforth be a process that intimately involves the
people. Those who want change must be prepared to begin by seeking the open
approval of the people concerned and, having got their approval, must then
be equally prepared to accept a central role for the people, as
ever-vigilant monitors of the implementation process. *

* *

*That being so, we must: *

* *

*i)   **Support the ongoing and just struggles of the people
of Singur against the forcible occupation of their lands; *

* *

*ii) **Reject the secret deal between the CPI (M) dominated
West Bengal Government and the Tata Motor Company - both of who claim to be
benign and people loving - that led to that occupation. *

* *

*iii) **Demand that any resolution of the dispute surrounding
the Nano Car factory at Singur shall: *

* *

*a) **Start with an open admission, by the State Government, of the
series of mistakes that it made when it acquired 997.11 acres of land, both
when it used an unjust law that should have no place in the independent
Republic of India, and when it used criminal means - deceit, coercion and
the beating up of unarmed and innocent protestors, mostly common folk, the
greater part of who were women – to enforce that law.  *

* *

*b) **Continue with a genuine attempt, by all involved political
parties and civil society organizations to openly negotiate a settlement to
the impasse that meets the just demands of the people of Singur. *

* *

*c) **Accept both the people of Singur and the migrant workers who have
been part of the economy that Singur's multicrop agriculture has generated
for years, as integral partners in those negotiations because it is their
land and their livelihoods that are at stake, whether as land owners or
bargadars or bhag chaashis or farm laborers. *

* *

*iv) Appeal to the alert and intelligent people of West Bengal and
India to come together once more. The gains that they have made in
consequence of the many demonstrations of discontent that they were witness
to, and participants in, for almost two years, not only on the streets and
fields of Nandigram and Singur, and on the streets of Kolkata and other
urban centers all over the state, but also in similar places elsewhere in
the country should not be lost when negotiations happen. *

* *

*The people of West Bengal want radical change. They must have it. *

* *

*Signed, *

* *

* *

* *

Read this mail circulated by friends in the civil society, kolkata:

Agitation for urge to return of the excess lands acquisitioned for Nano car factory at Singur
Readers r aware that the Bengal govt. has, in its anxiousness to help a private industrialist to set up a factory n make profit at taxpayers' expense thro' practically free supply of prime agricultural land at Singur, of infrastructure, of use of a river being used by the villagers, huge security personnel at site at Govt. expense and long-term loan with a negligble rate of interest and additional lands at other parts of Kolkata to faciltate Tatas' additional profit through promoting, making an agreement with the Tatas contents of which r being kept secret not only from the public but even from members of the Govt.'s own cabinet of Ministers, have stooped so low an inhuman, as to take recourse to even using police, cadres and hired mercenaries to murder, rape and throw away the farmers from their lands they have refused to part with and to accept compensation. Naturally these immoral and cruel acts by the Govt and the Ruling Party (claiming to be Communists, i.e. 'pro-poor') has evoked huge upswell of mass condemnation. The Chief Minister shamelessly admits that 'he did not know that the land was so fertile".But at the same time he says that what has been done cannot be undone. That those who r opposing the deal to help the Tatas, r against indusrialisation n stand in the way of 'progress' of the state. (So there is no punishment for the 'mistake' which has resulted in loss of prime agricultural land from being available to produce multiple crops to feed the state in the prevailing situation of scarcity and of high cost of foodgrains n vegetables, and for the loss of lives, raping of woman, unrest in civil society. For the sake of compromising with the situation, the civil society demands that the factory can be set up in 600 acres, but the 400 acres of land procured beyond the requirement of the factory proper, must be returned to the farmers who have not agreed to part with their lands and refused to accept the compensation cheques. But the Govt is adamant that the 400 acres of land cannot be so returned. To press for this just demand (of return of 400 acres), for the last 6 days, stages at different locations around the site have been built and Sit-in demonstrations are being arranged, by the opposition political parties, aggrieved farmers and large section of members of the civil society including social activists, intelligentsia, students and others. Now the Govt and the CPI-M manipulated the situation so as to create a traffic snarl at the highways near the site and at the same time unleashing a huge false propaganda to create public opinion against the agitation, claiming that urgent supplies,medicines, perishables are being spoiled being inside the trucks caught in the traffic snarl. A person also was found by the party to file a Public Interest Litigation in Kolkata High Court to intervene in the hold up in traffic. The High Court has today directed the NHAI(National Highways Authority of India) to take action to clear the roads for movement of traffic and to take help of the state govt . The Court has however said that this should be done without use of force. The Court also agreed to the opposition lawyer's suggestion that the identity of the person filing the PIL should be discovered (whether he was a genuine person).Pl find in ther attachment the report by investigating journalist of the most respectable and non-partisan newspaper The Statesman, which goes to prove clearly that the state govt., the pliant police and the ruling CPI-M party have manipulated and created an unnecessary traffic snarl to disrepute the agitation movement.

‘India, US need to increase trade scope’
Our Bureau

Chennai, Aug. 26 India and the US should pay special attention to infrastructure, financial services, bilateral investments and renewable energy to increase trade opportunities, according to US Commercial Consul, Ms Aileen Crowe Nandi.

Though the bilateral trade between India and the US is growing by leaps and bounds and crossed $50 billion last year, there are more opportunities that need to be tapped, she said.

Speaking at a seminar on ‘Doing business with USA’, organised by Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), Ms Nandi said there are a few challenges that need to be addressed to realise the potential. A delegation on renewable energy would be visiting India next month, which would help both countries identify possibilities for cooperation.

On their experiences in doing business in India, representatives from Ford India and Caterpillar India had similar points of view. While appreciating the conducive business atmosphere, especially in Tamil Nadu, where their companies have manufacturing facilities, Mr Nigel Wark, Executive Director (marketing, sales and service) Ford India, and Mr Larry Stacker, General Manager (supply chain), Caterpillar India, expressed concern about infrastructure, rail connectivity, storage facilities in port and employable manpower. The Vice-Consul of the US Consular Office in Chennai, Mr Paul Hinshaw, said the number of visa applications has been growing at the rate of 20 per cent every year. Chennai processed the largest number of H1B (temporary worker) visas last year.

IIPM to come up at Rajarhat
Statesman News Service KOLKATA, Aug. 30: The Indian Institute of Planning and Management (IIPM) a management institute is contemplating to open up their, business school at Rajarhat. Speaking about th

‘Poor coal quality causing power cuts’
Snehamoy Chakraborty BAKRESWAR, Aug. 30: Power production at various units of the Bakreswar Thermal Power Project (BTPP) may be affected soon as the Eastern Coalfield Limited (ECL) has been providin

Industry push eases out literacy drive
Biswabrata Goswami TAMLUK, Aug. 30: The drive for increasing literacy is losing ground in Midnapore East as Continuing Education Centres (CEC) have remained non-operational due to the political turmoi

Slain caretaker’s kin threaten to gherao SP’s office
Statesman News Service MIDNAPORE, Aug. 30: The parents of Prasun Adhikari (27), the slain caretaker of Ritz Bengal Lodge have threatened to stage a sit-in demonstration at Midnapore West SP's office

Priya raps ‘blockade’
KOLKATA, Aug.30: While deploring the blockade on Durgapur expressway Union minister and the state Congress president Mr Priya Ranjan Dasmunshi today urged the state government to call for an all party

Centre seeks to distance itself from Singur
NEW DELHI, Aug. 29: The Centre today sought to distance itself from the ongoing stand-off between the West Bengal government and the Trinamul Congress over the Tata’s small car project in Singur sayin

Suchpur trial date SURI, Aug. 30: The trial for the Suchpur massacre in which 11 landless farmers were hacked to death, allegedly by CPI-M cadres on 27 July 2000, is scheduled to start on 5, 6 and 10

Drunk security guards molest woman at CMCH
KOLKATA Aug 30: Tension ran high at Calcutta Medical College and Hospital (CMCH) tonight after some drunken security guards at the emergency ward allegedly tried to molest a woman visiting a relative

Sick of politics, engineers quit KMC in hordes
Statesman News Service KOLKATA, Aug. 30: Higher salaries in private sector and in state government service are luring Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) engineers away. Thirteen engineers have alr

Govt hints at crackdown on agitators

Statesman News Service
KOLKATA, Aug. 30: The state government is contemplating action to rein in the agitators at Singur, indicated the commerce and industries minister, Mr Nirupam Sen even as work at the Nano plant remained stalled for the second consecutive day with Tata Motors saying the situation is still not conducive to resume work at their plant.
Speaking on the sidelines of a programme organised by the Union Bank Employees Association today, Mr Sen said: “Ms Mamata Banerjee's has not even heeded the court order that asked her to clear obstruction of the NH-2. If this is the way existing laws are violated the state government would have to contemplate action to uphold the law . . . If the court asks us tomorrow to take action to restore normalcy in the area, we will have to take necessary action.”
He however, did not clarify whether the action would be to smoothen the traffic flow on Durgapur Expressway or to remove the agitators altogether. He reminded that the Calcutta High Court had upheld land acquisition in Singur and the matter was pending in Supreme Court but “till then they abide by the High Court verdict.”
“We have repeatedly urged her to sit and discuss the matter. She had promised us that her agitation would be peaceful but she has deviated from her promise too,” Mr Sen added. Several Tata Motors employees and contractual labourers were detained inside the project area when supporters of the Singur Krishi Jomi Raksha Committee blocked gate number 4 of the project site on Thursday evening.
So far, other than issuing appeals to the Trinamul chief, Miss Mamata Banerjee to end her agitation and sit at the discussion table, the state government had refused to take any action to prevent traffic snarls on the NH-2. However, it is evident the government received a shot in the arm after the Calcutta High Court ordered the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) to take necessary action to ensure free movement of traffic on the Durgapur Expressway.
Claiming that people of West Bengal were not supporting Ms Banerjee's movement, the commerce and industry minister said: “It is the state's image that has suffered because of this agitation. We have already told Ms Banerjee that we are ready to speak with the displaced people and see to it that their interests are upheld.”
Miss Banerjee meanwhile said she had received a letter from the Governor, whose contents and her reaction she would disclose tomorrow.
She added the CPI-M has been caught in their own game plan. She (Continued from page 1)
said that CPI-M has tried to discredit the agitation by instigating the people on the plea that it had held up trucks carrying food items but their plans have been thoroughly exposed.
Actually police at the behest of CPI-M district leadership put up a blockade at Palsit, 65 km from the spot and another at Dankuni, 20 km from here. “It was CPI-M's plan to obstruct our supporters which failed thoroughly,” she said.
She said: "Why should we block the road? Are we fools? If we had blocked the road our supporters would have been obstructed from coming to the site.'' During the day, Mr Avadesh Kumar, project director NHAI, met three Trinamul Congress leaders and the district administration after the High Court directed NHAI to ensure movement of vehicles along NH2.
Miss Banerjee said that NHAI authorities have expressed their satisfaction that TMC did not obstruct the road. But NHAI authorities and the district administration are learnt to be in a dilemma about allowing heavy vehicles to run at night for fear of an accident. Asked about his observation, Mr Kumar said, "I've sent the report to my headquarters at Delhi. I'm waiting for their orders.''
Home secretary Mr A M Chakrabarti said that Mr Kumar had sought help from the district administration but did not specify his demand. He, however, said that both the state and the Centre would have to implement the High Court order.

Police crackdown
The police resorted to lathi charge on the Trinamul Congress activists at Chandra crossing near Asansol on NH-2 this afternoon when the party men blocked the road. Three of the party men sustained injuries and were hospitalised. The agitators blocked NH-2 for 15 minutes protesting the arrest of party activist Joydeb Karmakar, a resident of Kantagoria village in Jamuria PS area.
Karunanidhi: Putting an end to speculations that Tata might opt for Tamil Nadu if it relocates the Nano manufacturing unit from Singur, Chief Minister M Karunanidhi today said there was no move from either side in this regard, reports PTI.

Industry chorus to save plant

Ratan Tata with CK Birla. File picture
Aug. 29: A blizzard of appeals rose from Indian industry today to save the Nano project in Singur, prompting some to hear a note of foreboding in the unusual crescendo.

C.K. Birla, Jamshyd Godrej, Sunil Bharti Mittal and S.K. Munjal were some among the army of industrialists who urged all involved to ensure that the Tatas weren’t forced to pull the plug on the project..Venu Srinivasan and K.V. Kamath, representing CII, also threw their voices behind the Nano factory through separate statements. Mukesh Ambani had articulated his support on Wednesday.

Rarely has Indian industry issued such a raft of statements on a single investment project, fuelling some to speculate that the fate of the Singur plant is hanging by a thin thread and only a contingency could have prompted the chorus.

A factor common to several of the statements was an apprehension that a Tata pullout would have its repercussions not just in Bengal but across the country.

The most striking statement of the day was that of C.K. Birla, the Hindustan Motors chairman, whose vocal endorsement brings together “Tata and Birla” — once a catch-all phrase to describe the entire Indian private sector.

“Tata’s Nano project is a prestigious project for India and for the state of West Bengal.… It would be unfortunate if issues other than economic and social come into play and force the Tata management to consider pulling out from Singur,” said Birla.

Mittal of Bharti, a Tata rival in telecom, said: “The Tatas pulling out of West Bengal will be unfortunate for India.… Immediate political dialogue to find a solution towards keeping the project in West Bengal is imperative.”

“If the House of Tatas, known for its values and care for society, can face such resistance, the much-needed fresh wave of industrialisation in the country would suffer,” he added.

Jamshyd Godrej, the chairman and managing director of Godrej and Boyce, said: “Nano’s moving out would be a setback for not just West Bengal but the entire country. It is very unfortunate that the entire project is facing a political situation which it does not warrant…. The political parties involved must do their best to ensure that the concerns and issues of all the stakeholders are kept in mind, including the companies in question and the original owners of the land.”

Hero Corporate Service chairman S.K. Munjal, too, stressed the national cost. “It is in the interest of both West Bengal and India that the Tata Nano project is not moved at this stage. Withdrawal of the project will severely affect West Bengal’s image, and it certainly won’t do India’s image any good. Political parties must rise above partisan lines….”

He said the “investing en-tity has a responsibility to take care of the interests of all stakeholders, including people who are displaced or re-employed”.

Like Birla, Munjal spoke of the Tatas’ credentials. “Indeed, given their level of social commitment, I have no doubt that the Tatas are fully aware of their responsibilities in Singur as they have demonstrated in many of their companies.”

The Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers said it would like to see an early resolution of the tangle. It warned that “global attention” was on the developments as the Nano was seeking to challenge all conventional theories about car making.

Englishmen and zamindars

Oil paintings in the collection of the British Indian Association have been restored. Picture by Pabitra Das
Few if any had noticed the demolition of the old building that housed the British Indian Association in the street named after it a few years ago. The street has already been renamed after Abdul Hamid and a brand new office building has come up in place of the old one.

The association occupies several rooms on the third floor of this building at the head of Barretto Lane. The association still possesses a rich collection of books and paintings and other artefacts, among which are the portraits of local Indian dignitaries who were association members, and two busts of Radhakanta Deb and Kristo Das Paul, besides a priceless collection of books that needs to be looked after.

The association was originally a political organisation that had a role in the creation of the Indian National Congress, whose early meetings were held in this building.

From a political organisation it became a landholders’ organisation, although it also took up causes that affected Indians in general. After the abolition of the zamindari system in the early 1950s, its functions may have been curtailed but over the years it has become a repository of valuable research material.

About 20 years before the establishment of the British Indian Association, Dwarkanath Tagore, Prasanna Kumar Tagore, Radhakanta Deb, Ramkamal Sen, Bhabani Charan Mitra and the then editor of The Englishman had formed the Zamindari Association in 1831. It was later renamed Landholders’ Society and was considered “the first organisation of Bengal with a distinct political object.” Englishmen and Indian landholders met here “on an equal footing”. But after Dwarkanath passed away the society too was as good as dead.

A few years later, William Adam, who became friends with Raja Rammohun Roy during his visit to India, decided to take up India’s cause on returning to England. He was the moving spirit behind the formation of the British Indian Society in 1839. George Thompson, who was also involved in its formation, went on to help create the Bengal British India Society. It was meant to further the interests of all classes of Indians through its recommendations and measures which had to be “consistent with pure loyalty to the person and government of the reigning sovereign of the British dominions”.

Indians felt alienated when Europeans vehemently opposed John Elliot Drinkwater’s efforts in 1849 to bring all British-born subjects of the crown under the jurisdiction of the local law courts. The government was forced to withdraw the “Black bill,” as the Europeans called it. Thereafter, the Landholders’ Society and the Bengal British India at a meeting held on October 29, 1851, at Kasaitola (subsequently Bentinck Street) decided to form the British Indian Association by merging the two bodies to highlight the grievances of Indians.

The first committee of the association was composed of Radhakanta Deb, Kalikrishna Deb, Debendranath Tagore, Digambar Mitra, Prasanna Kumar Tagore, Peary Chand Mitra and Sambhunath Pandit. Besides rajas and maharajas and zamindars, Derozians and the intellectual aristocracy of the Bengal Presidency also held important positions on the committee. Traders and businessmen were also members. But membership was strictly confined to Indians.

The objects of the association “were related partly to improvements in the local administration of the country and partly to the system of Indian government laid by Parliament”. Joteendra Mohan Tagore and Joykrishna Mukherji enabled the association to have a home at 18 Raneemoody Gully, whose name was later changed to British Indian Street.

The association had “an all-India outlook” and in a petition to the Parliament in UK, it criticised the British government for not allowing the Indians “the smallest share in the administration of the affairs of this country.” Among its demands was “the separation of the Legislature from the Executive, and the inclusion of some Indian members in the Legislature.” It supported the move to bring all British-born subjects under the jurisdiction of the ordinary courts. It welcomed the formation of the Mohammedan Association of Calcutta in 1856 as the association wanted to give new shape to the Indian polity.

During the Indigo Rebellion of 1859-60, the association sympathised with the ryots and pleaded with the government to appoint a commission of inquiry to solve the problems of indigo cultivation. The association tried to impinge on social and living conditions by suggesting measures on epidemics, floods, famines, taxation, the practice of Sati, burning ghats and property and inheritance.

It championed the causes of the Indian people at a time when there was no strong political body in the country. The association in 1874 “suggested that public opinion in India should be taken into consideration before enactment of any legislation concerning India”. The association gave the people the first lesson in the art of fighting constitutionally for their rights and giving expression to their opinions. All bills were sent to the association for comment, some of which were quite incisive.

The second meeting of the Indian National Congress was held in the association building on December 28, 1886. M.K. Gandhi, Bar-at-Law from Durban, visited the association in 1891 to draw the viceroy’s attention to the plight of Indians in South Africa.

Now that there aren’t any landholders the association will support research work with its meagre funds, said I.P. Singh Roy, the honorary president of the organisation. The library which contains important books, some dating back to 1783 like Ayeen Akbery in translation and others belonging to the 19th century and early 20th century, will be preserved. Many of its collection of large oil paintings have been competently restored by Narayan Srivastava. In our times, British Indian Association can survive as an institution promoting excellence.

Govt allays industry’s fears on slowdown

No slowdown signs: The Finance Minister, Mr P. Chidambaram, and the President, Confederation of Indian Industry, Mr K.V. Kamath, at an interactive session with CEOs of select CII member-companies in the Capital on Tuesday. - Kamal Narang

Our Bureau

New Delhi, Aug. 26 India Inc has demanded proactive solutions from the Government on its concerns of increase in interest rates and signs of slowdown in consumer demand, with exorbitant interest cost impinging on its future investments.

The Finance Minister, Mr P. Chidambaram, however, brought little cheer on the interest rate front during his meeting with select group of chief executives of CII member companies here on Tuesday even as he made it clear that industry’s fears on signs of slowdown in demand were misplaced, sources privy to the meeting said.

Strong on schemes

Mr Chidambaram is understood to have asserted that the Government was pumping money into the economy through its spending on various schemes and that this would take care of the demand issue. The Finance Minister maintained that demand was quite strong and that credit growth was stronger than what the Government and the RBI want it to be, industry sources said.

RBI to decide on rates

On interest rates, Mr Chidambaram conveyed that there was no scope for the Government to look at interest rates and that RBI would do what it wants on this front.

The Finance Minister also ruled out cut in taxes, noting that this would result in higher borrowings for the Government and thereby impacting interest rates. Mr Chidambaram expressed confidence that the economy would be on track in the first half of 2009-10 and that inflation would soften by mid-November when the base effect is likely to wear-off.

At the meeting, the CII President, Mr K.V. Kamath, said that even though the current pipeline of investments remained intact, fresh investment proposals were being affected by the rising costs of inputs, rising interest costs and signs of slowdown in demand.

On the positive side, Mr Kamath said that there was no problem with liquidity and that banks currently have sufficient funds, although the availability of long-term funds remain an issue.

The Finance Minister agreed that there could be some holding back on new projects due to high interest rates, but pointed out that credit off-take across sectors continued to be strong. He said that as long as inflation continued to be high, it would be difficult to moderate interest rates.

Oil decontrol on the boil
Mumbai, Aug. 29: The Reserve Bank of India today urged the government to allow greater decontrol of petroleum tariffs, rationalise taxes and ensure a gradual pass-through of prices to avoid a sharp spike in headline inflation.

“In view of the large dependence on crude oil imports, limiting the adverse impact of higher international oil prices would require adopting strategies of greater decontrol of petroleum product pricing with targeted subsidies, rationalisation of applicable taxes and duties to appropriate levels, and gradual but regular pass-through of prices to consumers so as to avoid the risk of large one-off adjustments in headline inflation,” the central bank said in its annual report for 2007-08.

Against the almost 134-per-cent increase in the prices of international crude oil (Indian basket) from $56.6 per barrel in February last year to $132.3 per barrel in July, the RBI said the prices of petrol and diesel had increased only about 14 per cent since February 2007 and, therefore, there remained a large overhang of pass-through from past increases in international crude oil prices.

The RBI also said issuing oil bonds to state-owned refiners would impact public debt. It said the interest expenditure on these bonds would widen revenue and fiscal deficits and hurt financial markets.

Tata Steel shifts gear at Kalinganagar

Muthuraman in Calcutta on Friday. A Telegraph picture
Calcutta, Aug. 29: Tata Steel has finally started work at its Kalinganagar project in Orissa.

B. Muthuraman, managing director of the company, said preliminary work had begun a few weeks back. The company hopes to start production in three years.

“We started construction in a small way. Boundary wall is being erected, structural fabrication is being done,” Muthuraman said on the sidelines of the Tinplate annual general meeting in Calcutta.

Tata Steel is running way behind schedule at Kalinganagar as about 700 families refused to vacate the site.

However, some of the families have moved out and work has started on the land where they used to reside. The affected families had even taken part in construction work. “They are the people who are doing the work,” Muthuraman said.

The company has placed orders worth Rs 6,500 crore for the first phase of the six-million-tonne plant.

On allocation of iron ore mines for the project, Muthuraman said the state government would give its recommendation to the Centre in the next two to three months.

Tinplate recast

Muthuraman said Tinplate planned to restructure its balance sheet, though he declined to give any details.

Tinplate director Koushik Chatterjee said the aim of restructuring was to ensure that the company could take up bigger projects on its own.

The process could be completed by next fiscal, he said.

On Tinplate merging with parent Tata Steel, Muthuraman said he could not comment.

He said last fiscal was an unusual year for the company because of an increase in the prices of raw materials.

“Globally, most other tinplate firms suffered losses. Corus (a Tata Steel entity) closed its tinplate facility. Given the scenario, Tinplate has done well,” he said.

Commodity prices in unwind mode


The role of speculative funds lay in amplifying supply-demand mismatches, where they existed, and buying up large chunks of the commodity on paper without ever taking delivery and thereby disproportionately jacking up prices.


— G. Krishnaswamy

India has managed to relatively insulate itself from the speculative froth built up in global commodity markets.

Harish Damodaran

From all available indications, it looks as though the extended global bull-run in commodities is over. Since March-April, there has been a falling trend in prices of base metals such as copper, lead, nickel and zinc, alongside an easing of wheat, rice and palm oil from their peaks. The past few weeks have seen a similar unwinding in oil, gold, corn and soybean. The speculative frenzy that had over the last couple of years launched commodities into stratosphere appears t o be finally cooling off.

Table 1 shows the extent of rise in world prices of 15 commodities from December 2005 to July 2006. These range from 36 per cent in aluminium and cotton to over 370 per cent for coal. The only exception has been sugar, which actually recorded a drop, for reasons to be explained later.

The dollar slide

The huge price increases in most commodities have partly had to do with the dollar’s decline as a global reserve currency — a reflection of the growing loss of US manufacturing competitiveness and also the undermining of its geopolitical hegemony following the costly war (both in monetary as well as foreign policy terms) waged in Iraq. While in December 2005, a dollar fetched 0.84 euros, in July 2008 it averaged a mere 0.63 euros.

What this means is that the 124 per cent dollar-denominated jump in crude petroleum prices between December 2005 and July 2008 was only worth 68 per cent in euro terms. Likewise, the 99.6 per cent and 160 per cent rise in dollar prices of wheat and corn translated into less than 50 and 95 per cent, respectively when measured in euros. But even after discounting for the dollar’s precipitous free-fall, the fact remains that never before in history have commodity prices surged on as widespread a scale as they have done in the recent period.

This is evident from the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) indices of primary commodity prices in SDRs or special drawing rights. The latter, representing a basket of currencies (dollar, euro, yen and pound sterling), corrects for any distortions arising from the dollar’s vicissitudes and enables one to gauge better the ‘real’ increase in global commodity prices.

The IMF’s ‘all primary commodities’ price index in SDRs, which averaged 100 in 2005, amounted to 197.7 in July 2008. The ‘food’, ‘metals’ and ‘energy’ indices went up correspondingly to 160.3, 170.2 and 224.1. Commodity prices have, on the whole then, doubled within a space of two-and-a-half years and are now apparently entering the next ‘Great Unwind’ stage.

Distinct ‘asset class’

This extreme price volatility is mainly an outcome of commodities emerging as a distinct ‘asset class’ on a par with equities, bonds, currencies and related financial derivatives — making them attractive to not just the direct stakeholders (farmers, processors, wholesalers, shippers, etc) but to a range of institutional investors from hedge funds, pension plans and exchange-traded index funds.

For these investors — the big funds based on the S&P Goldman Sachs Commodity Index and the Deutsche Bank Liquid Commodity Index were, in fact, floated only in 2006 — commodity contracts are not simply hedging tools against adverse future price movements, but like any other financial instrument. The big difference though is that while the impact of rising (or falling) stock prices is largely limited to the shareholders concerned, the rise or fall in corn prices also affects farmers and households who are not investors in these contracts.

On the other hand, price volatility is a sine qua non for investors having no direct stakes in the underlying commodity either as producer or consumer. The so-called fundamental factors — supply disruptions due to unfavourable weather conditions, diversion of arable land for bio-fuels or the assumed demand pressures from China and India — merely serve as pretexts for pouring in or pulling-out monies and sending prices way beyond their intrinsic values.

Speculative forces

In late March, the Economics Editor of Barron’s, Gene Epstein, estimated that index funds accounted for 40 per cent of bullish bets on commodities. “The speculative juices are even more plentiful — nearly 60 per cent of bullish positions — if you count the bets placed by traditional commodity ‘pools’”, he wrote, while predicting a 30-50 per cent drop in commodity prices in the months ahead (that seems to be happening now).

It is this speculative element alone that can explain how international palm oil prices touched $1,350-1,400 a tonne levels in March 2008 — a more than 100 per cent year-on-year jump — and subsequently slid below $750 a tonne. This is not to say there were no fundamental triggers, such as edible palm oil being converted into bio-diesel and its prices getting linked to crude petroleum.

The role of speculative funds, however, lay in amplifying supply-demand mismatches, where they existed, and buying up large chunks of the commodity on paper without ever taking delivery and thereby disproportionately jacking up prices.

In sugar, it was the opposite. The huge production glut, especially in India, meant there was little fund buying interest in the commodity. Instead, they sold heavily, so much so that raw sugar fell from over 18 cents a pound in February 2006 to nine cents by May 2007.

Relatively insulated

India, on its part, has managed to relatively insulate itself from the speculative froth built up in global commodity markets. The domestic wholesale price indices (WPI) for most commodities have risen by a much lower extent than world levels (Table 2). Again, a weak dollar has helped, with the greenback falling from Rs 45.65 in December 2005 to Rs 42.84 in July 2008.

But the greater contribution has come from government policies. These have extended from administrative vetoes on price hikes (as in petro-products) to tinkering with import duties (edible oils) and ban on exports and futures trading (wheat and rice), which have prevented international price pressures from transmitting into the domestic market.

In other words, a forced de-globalisation of sorts. Only in rubber and cotton have domestic prices gone up more than world prices. And this has been courtesy exports, benefiting Indian farmers at the expense of tyre manufacturers and textile millers.

What’s in store?

What now? Well, if present trends are any guide and the sell-off by funds in commodities continues, the shoe could well be on the other foot. The Government may, for instance, have to re-impose Customs duties on edible oils to protect domestic oilseeds growers against any downturn during the ensuing kharif harvest season.

In sugar, the global supply position is tightening (this time, due to India’s considerably lower cane crop); but in the absence of fund buying interest, prices may not spurt the way they would have done a year ago.

As far as oil goes, in the event of crude falling below $100 a barrel and the Government unlikely to rollback diesel and petrol prices to their earlier levels, the public sector oil marketing companies could even see their fortunes turnaround.

The Doha Round impasse


Though no country wants the multilateral trade negotiation and dispute settlement mechanism of the WTO to break down, much of the world economy is in serious trouble and in no mood for trade liberalisation. Thus, the chances of any real breakthrough in the Doha Round talks do not look bright at this moment, says ALOK RAY.


The Commerce Minister, Mr Kamal Nath… Let down by failure of best efforts.

Despite nearly three dozen trade and commerce ministers meeting at Geneva last month to save the Doha Round, the trade talks broke down. The principal players turned out to be the EU, the US and the developing world, led by India and China. The US Trade Representative, Ms Susan Schwab, openly expressed her opinion that “a handful of big emerging countries (read India and China) really threaten this round for the rest of us.” On the other side, the Commerce Mini ster, Mr Kamal Nath, put the blame squarely on the US with his rhetoric that he cannot negotiate the livelihood concerns of millions of poor Indian farmers against the commercial interests of the US.

One may ask: Why try again to flog a dead horse, especially now? The US President, Mr George Bush, is on his way out. Moreover, he has lost the so-called fast-track authority under which the President can take a simple ‘yes or no’ vote in the US Congress on a trade Bill, without detailed clause-by-clause ratification.

The US economy and much of the world economy (except the major oil-producing States such as Russia and Saudi Arabia, which are either not members of WTO or are marginal players) is in serious trouble and is in no mood for trade liberalisation.

In India, the Government has narrowly survived the Indo-US nuclear deal. Then, who is interested in restarting the trade talks which could not succeed even under more favourable economic and political conditions? Several answers are possible.

Restarting trade talks

First, it would be even more difficult to strike any complex multilateral WTO trade deal for the new US President in the initial years of his presidency. But if the outgoing President Bush can come close to striking a WTO trade deal, it may be easier for the next President to give some finishing touches and get it through the Congress.

Second, without the constraints imposed by the Left partners of the coalition, the Indian Government may now want to strike a more reformist posture. However, with general elections round the corner, this does not seem very likely — specially if it is a question of reducing tariff barriers on agricultural imports, which affects millions of small farmers.

Third, the long-term costs of failed WTO talks could be substantial. Hence, all efforts should be made to bring about even a minimalist agreement to save WTO as an institution of multilateral trade talks. The other option is bilateral or regional trade agreements which have substantially weakened the multilateral negotiations machinery.

Fourth, there could be a stronger case for negotiated multilateral trade liberalisation agreements when the world economic system is in trouble. In times of recession and job loss, there will be more pressures to revert to protectionism and beggar-thy-neighbour policies.

Chances of progress

So, one should not grudge the efforts or the timing. But, what are the chances of any progress in the future?

It should be noted here that a substantial agreement was reached at Geneva on 18 out of 20 issues put on the table for negotiations. The two contentious issues on which no agreement could be reached were the agricultural subsidies by the developed countries and the Special Products (SP) and the Special Safeguard Mechanism (SSM) for agricultural imports by the developing countries.

The US was willing to cap its trade-distorting agricultural subsidies at $15 billion which is way above its actual level of subsidies in 2006 ($11 billion) and 2007 ($7 billion). Since these were years of unusually high global farm prices and, hence, low levels of subsidy payouts, the US wanted to keep the door open to raise subsidies if agricultural prices plummet in future.

Gaps in negotiating positions

India wanted to put the cap on US subsidies at its current level. On the other hand, it wanted to have the right to hike its (already high) import duties on sensitive agricultural products (SPs) if imports reach 10 per cent of domestic market for such commodities. The US wanted to set the SSM trigger at 40 per cent of imports. Given these wide gaps in the negotiating positions of the two camps on these two issues, the talks had to collapse.

The WTO decision-making relies on consensus and not majority voting of any kind. Hence, if an exception is demanded by a member, no agreement is reached unless the exception is either accommodated or dropped by consensus. This has made WTO negotiations increasingly complex and time-consuming.

It should also be noted that there is a difference in the position taken by US and EU in this connection. The EU is willing to cut back some of its agricultural subsidies provided countries such as India reduce restrictions on imports of industrial products and services. That is easier for India to accept. But the US farm lobby is willing to allow reduction in farm subsidies only if the US agriculture gets additional market access in countries such as India.

Given the livelihood concerns of millions of small farmers and the potential political fallout, it is nearly impossible for the Indian government to liberalise imports in sensitive agricultural products. Thus, the chances of any real breakthrough in Doha talks do not look bright at this moment.

There could still be a breakthrough if the developed countries eventually accept — though grudgingly — the stand of developing countries that though they gave a lot of concessions in the Uruguay Round, the agricultural subsidies in the developed countries have not materially changed (except that some subsidies have been de-linked from production).

So, this time, the developed countries should unilaterally cut farm subsidies without expecting any significant reciprocal reduction in agricultural protection on the part of developing nations.

Areas of (dis)agreement

India has already expressed its willingness to open up more in some service areas such as telecom and financial services provided the developed countries allow additional concessions in the movement of temporary work-related personnel.

The areas of disagreement in the manufacturing sector are mainly over whether the reciprocal tariff reductions would take the form of small cuts on a wide front or larger cuts in some specific sectors, leaving other sensitive areas (like the “infant” automobiles sector for India) unaffected. Such disagreements can be narrowed down with more negotiations.

WTO negotiations do not take place over high moral principles. Ultimately, multilateral trade agreements are the products of hard bargaining. Most countries start with apparently rigid positions which gradually soften after a lot of behind-the-door deal making.

It is clear that no country — especially the poorer and weaker nations — wants the multilateral trade negotiation and dispute settlement mechanism of WTO to break down. In fact, with the signing of more FTAs, the difficulties of enforcement of rules are increasingly coming out in the open.

Even in the US, politicians, including the Democrat Presidential candidate, Mr Barack Obama, are voicing concern over the implications of NAFTA and other FTAs with the neighbouring nations. They want to bring in other issues, such as labour and environmental standards, into the agreements.

In a recent international conference in New Delhi attended by the WTO chief, Mr Pascal Lamy, Mr Kamal Nath and other bigwigs, strong sentiments were expressed against the proliferation of regional trade arrangements. A proposal was mooted that there should be a ‘sunset clause’, setting a time limit on preferential tariffs allowed to members.

At the end of the term, the same preferential tariffs will have to be extended to all WTO members. Regionalism, even if permitted temporarily, will eventually have to give way to multilateralism. Hence, all is not lost yet.

(The author is a former Professor of Economics at IIM Calcutta. Responses to

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Saturday, August 30, 2008

From matters of the flesh to the stars, India finds a way


From matters of the flesh to the stars, India finds a way
Published: August 28, 2008By Anand Giridharadas articles/ 2008/08/28/ asia/letter. php?page= 1 For 200 million or so people, it is an ancient means of purifying the body and pacifying the mind. Meat-eaters are widely believed to be aggressive and unclean. When Gandhi sailed to England to study, his caste excommunicated him for fear that he would succumb to the pleasures of the (animal) flesh.

Today, thanks to globalization, you need not visit Europe to be tempted by flesh. KFC and McDonald's and Pizza Hut outlets beckon to a swelling middle class. (Guess why they're swelling.) Fancy restaurants tantalize diners with sea bass, lamb shanks and duck confit. Children find meat-eating cool. Young executives want to fit in on business trips overseas.

How is a family to preserve its vegetarianism in a flesh-eaters' world?

Well, by doing what Indians have always done when faced with the wrenching choice between tradition and modernity: hair-splitting compromise.

Some families forbid meat in the house but let anything go beyond it.

Others allow the young to eat meat all days except Vegetarian Tuesday.

Still others have turned to kitchenettes: Children can bring in meat from takeout joints, but must microwave it in a separate, specially made carnivores alcove.

I once visited the home of pious Brahmins in Punjab. They lived on vegetables and colas by day. But every night an elder would circulate whispering "whiskey-chicken- mutton" to the other men, an alert that these occasions of sin were now available in his bedroom. By sunrise, everyone was vegetarian again.

It has become commonplace, in this globalizing age, to bemoan the world's creeping sameness. Vanishing day by day are rarely spoken languages, corner grocers who know your name, movies that don't end happily, ancient ways of making hams and cheeses, the siesta, the neighborhood pub.

In a sea of homogenization, India surfaces as an island of hybridization. Puristic neither about the past's indelibility nor the future's inevitability, Indians may offer a lesson in how to compromise with the past in order to save it - and how to be modern without being just like everybody else.

"Countries change around their DNA. And the Indian DNA is about continuity with change; it is about 'This as well as that,"' Rama Bijapurkar, an Indian management guru, writes in her recent book, "Winning in the Indian Market."

She adds: "Our faith in astrology does not decrease as a result of the rising levels of our scientific education; rather, as a consequence, we effortlessly move to computerized horoscope casting!"

The Western mind, steeped in Enlightenment rationalism, likes to draw lines: scientific and superstitious, sacred and profane. Indians, compelled over centuries to adjust to different conquerors' whims, tend to be less stark. They are not the with-us-or-against- us kind.

A tolerance for contradictions can be a flaw, when it allows a great democracy to treat its serving class like another species, when it allows companies that pride themselves on lean, world-class factories to tolerate a Mafia culture of nepotism, corruption and hierarchy.

But India may have found a solution to globalization to which the rest of us will eventually come: to enjoy history's many ages at the same time rather than in sequence.

In Hindu religious tradition, one visits a temple to do a "darshan," to have an audience with an idol of the divine. Busy city dwellers today have ever less time for such rituals. So Tata Sky, an Indian satellite-televisio n provider, has started "Actve Darshan," an interactive service that allows you to encounter a real-time image of your favorite temple on television: a virtual darshan with your preferred deity.

If you're in a rush, piety can, alternatively, be texted. Airtel, a cellphone service, charges 10 cents to make a donation to your temple and add it to your monthly bill: divine ingratiation at 64655.

Even young urbanites, with scant memory of the India before globalization, treat tradition and modernity like a buffet rather than an all-or-nothing choice. It is hard to think of another place where so many young elites enjoy such freedom, dating now and drinking, and then quietly acquiesce when their parents notify them that the fun days are over and that there is an arranged bride waiting in the next room.

India is awash now in self-sufficient, independent women. They dress scantily on the weekends; they whiz through airports with their Blackberries all week. They take nothing from nobody - except when their mothers call eight times a day.

Indian mothers seem to fear eternally a daughter's going astray, even a 32-year-old one. Their questions are like those of a jealous lover: Where are you? Who are you with? Why did you go to this place, not that? Who dropped you? How will you get back?

The young woman will, the next morning, wake up and make a presentation to the board or direct a film or arrange a magazine shoot. But, for all their new-age power, many do not mind the nagging.They don't feel their modernity compromised by the satisfaction of their mothers' protective urges; and mothers don't feel their tradition compromised by a child who perhaps smokes and sleeps around but always takes her mother's phone call.

There are other ways to protect a culture. One is to take it very, very seriously. The French, unrivaled at this, have set up commissions and academies to protect language, film, music. Their Culture Ministry once prohibited civil servants from calling e-mail "e-mail."

But a clinginess about the past can doom it. A willingness to bastardize the past and negotiate with the future is what might save it. The French, for all their talk, spend just one-third of their cinema money on their own movies. Indians spend 95 percent on theirs, because their movies have let the world infuse them. Indian actors traded dancing around trees for rolling on beds. The on-screen kiss, long taboo, was finally planted.

Walk the Bund in Shanghai or Ipanema in Rio de Janeiro or the Old Arbat in Moscow. Count the number of Chinese, Brazilian, Russian costumes you see.

Come, then, to Marine Drive in Mumbai. Men stroll in their kurtas and women, in their saris. Kurtas persist, perhaps, because a new generation wears the tunics over jeans and Western loafers. Saris, too, have adapted, their six yards of fabric draped now over bold, backless, midriff-baring blouses plunging low in the front, divulging more acreage of skin than the littlest little black dress.

The sari negotiated. And it's thriving.

Emerging Balochistan threat

Emerging Balochistan threat
—Shaukat Qadir
http://www.dailytim default.asp? page=2008\08\30\story_ 30-8-

While the attention of the world is focused on the deteriorating
situation in FATA, there are developments taking place in
Balochistan that could, in the long run, pose a far greater threat
to the federation of Pakistan, particularly in view of the strategic
significance of this province that I have highlighted earlier.
("Strategic significance of Balochistan" , August 16)

The disillusionment of the ethnic Baloch in this province with the
federation of Pakistan and the feeling of being exploited by Punjab
have been steadily on the increase for decades. In fact, Baloch
nationalism and an increasing desire for independence from the
Pakistani federation have never before been as vocal or visible as
today. It has reached its boiling point and, unless the grievances
of the Baloch are addressed with great urgency, there is more than a
likelihood that Pakistan may find itself hemmed by two insurgencies;
one at each extremity.

Since the peace initiative with India began to make progress after
2002, there was a growing view among Indian analysts and an
acknowledgement among Pakistani analysts that India has realised
that a stable Pakistan is in its interest. However, there now
appears incontrovertible evidence that India is promoting unrest in
Balochistan. Perhaps, while India is still keen to see a stable
Pakistan, it is not prepared to see one making the kind of economic
progress with which it could outpace India, or one that is
capitalising on the `strategic geographic location' possible if
Balochistan were at peace.

What India perhaps fails to appreciate is that not only are there
other, more powerful actors in this game, even if it were to succeed
in liberating Balochistan from Pakistan, Balochistan is not in
itself a politically and economically viable entity. If severed from
Pakistan, without the support from a more powerful and reliable ally
than India, it is most likely to seek a union with Iran with which
it has historical and ethnic linkages; and Iran is definitely an
interested party in the ongoing geo-strategic game.

What is more, Balochistan falling into Iranian hands would create a
far more competitive regional power that could threaten Indian
interests in the long run, more than Pakistan ever could. It would
raise eyebrows not only in China but would be unacceptable to the US
as well.

Let us also not forget that the US is also not an uninterested party
in this game that threatens Pakistan. The last thing that the US
would like to see is Balochistan forming a union with Iran. However,
it will not be averse to an independent Balochistan, dependent on
the US. In which eventuality, it will also effectively scuttle
China's hopes of entering the Indian Ocean and having a naval
presence at the mouth of the Persian Gulf. It will also deprive
China of the economic growth that could result from the flow of
commerce and energy from Central Asia through China and Pakistan.

As a matter of fact, a large number of Baloch nationalists are
openly saying, `America is coming' and `we are waiting for it'.
Unfortunately, if the Americans do come, the Baloch will suffer far
more at their hands than they have within the Pakistani union. But
they don't know this to be fact, and who can blame them for wanting
a change?

Over the last few months there has also been a steady flow of
Afghan `refugees' into Balochistan, who have been welcomed by the
Baloch Pashtuns, resulting in a shift in the demographic balance in
favour of the Pashtuns in the province. These `refugees' are also
Taliban who have already formed a Shoora, the council of elders
along the lines of the Islamic Caliphate in the times of the Prophet
Muhammad PBUH.

However, they are not preaching the Islam of yore or that of peace,
one of the meanings of the word `Islam'; they are breeding hate, and
are lying low, biding their time. I have no doubt that the Pakistani
authorities are aware of this looming threat, but no one is prepared
to voice it at a time when the newly elected government is looking
increasingly incompetent.

Ironically, the only ray of hope for saving the Pakistani federation
lies in the diverse aims of the two sources of threat to the
federation posed by the Balochistan situation.

If they are not appeased in time, the Baloch will be looking for an
independent homeland, in a loose union with the US or Iran; while
the Taliban will be looking for a safe haven in the inaccessible
regions of Balochistan, but within the union of Pakistan. The latter
are fully conscious of how helpless they will be against American
might if they no longer enjoy the protection of Pakistan; even if
that protection is steadily eroding its ability to defend its
citizens against American incursions.

The tragedy is that whichever way the wind blows in Balochistan,
even if the diversity of the aims of the two parties results in
keeping the union intact, once unrest starts, it can only result in
hampering Pakistan's hopes for a bright economic future. Perhaps
that is the limited aim India has set for itself.

If so, I will repeat my submission of a couple of years ago that
whatever economic growth India achieves through its `Silicon
Valley', it will remain a third world country without access to
substantial sources of cheap energy. So far, wherever possible, the
cheapest means of access to oil or gas is through overland
pipelines, for which India is dependant on a peaceful Pakistan,
particularly Balochistan. Perhaps India feels complacent with its
nuclear deal with the US, which might result in fulfilling India's
energy needs through nuclear energy. However, Pakistan can redress
this problem if, in this case, it acts quickly and decisively.

This article is a modified version of the original written for the
daily National

Today in Palestine! ~ Headlines Saturday, August 30, 2008 ~

Palestinian minister of tourism visits 5,500-year-old olive tree near Bethlehem
(30 Aug) The tree, dated to 3,500 BC by Japanese experts, is 20 meters in diameter, and is believed by locals to have been the tree of it Ahmad Al-Badawi, who legend holds was an ancient holy man. If the dating for the tree is accurate, it was planted in the Neolithic period, when Homo sapiens began to farm land and settle into towns and villages. The tree may have been among the first cultivated by modern human beings. The villagers call it The Al-Badawi Tree. The tree is located in the southern mounts of Jerusalem, which have been threatened to be confiscated by the Israeli military for the construction of settlements. During the construction of the Israeli separation wall, dozens of ancient trees which date back to the time of Christ have been bulldozed and died.
http://www.maannews .net/en/index. php?opr=ShowDeta ils&ID=31620

Joe Gulledge, CPT: Israel must rein in settler movement
(Aug 29) I left my home in the United States to spend the summer in the West Bank, where I was attacked by Israeli settlers late last month. As a member of the Christian Peacemaker Team, I went to the South Hebron Hills to help keep young Palestinian children safe from Israeli settlers intent on hurting Palestinians. . . The occupied West Bank today is like walking through a page from a different era - part Wild West, part Jim Crow - with one set of laws for Palestinians and another set for Israeli settlers. . . Something has gone profoundly wrong when Palestinian children must risk their lives just to get to school. It is past time for our government to pressure Israel to rein in the settler movement.
http://imeu. net/news/ article0014053. shtml

Palestinian citizen injured in the head at the hands of IOF troops in Na'lin
(30 Aug) RAMALLAH, (PIC)-- Israeli occupation forces on Friday fired bullets and teargas at Palestinian citizens and foreign sympathizers who were marching in a peaceful demonstration against the construction of the separation wall on the lands of Na'lin village west of Ramallah. Local sources said that large numbers of army troops were deployed in the area and blocked media from reaching it. The citizens cut the barbed wire installed by those soldiers to prevent them from reaching their lands, but they were met with the IOF firing of bullets and tear gas that injured Mohammed Siyaj, 23, in his head while many others were treated for suffocation as a result of inhaling the tear gas.
http://www.palestin uk/En/default. aspx?xyz= U6Qq7k%2bcOd87MD I46m9rUxJEpMO% 2bi1s7rk6NQ% 2bv1tCDE3JOBD% 2fV%2bwID% 2bwIDqbqDXyx4vbL hnKIgxbhq09TJyhR Kcl2egl53YRmJhWW unUJVjQNz0FoA9ok b9OOGMZyV0wlJ89V WpLck%3d

30 Aug Reports from the ground: Weekly non-violent struggles in Bil'in, Ni'lin, and A-Masara
http://www.palestin emonitor. org/spip/ spip.php? article616

Family of Israeli landmine victim questioned for hours; home raided by Israeli soldiers
(30 Aug) Israeli forces questioned the family of Nizar Sawarkah, who was killed yesterday in Arrabah near Jenin after he stumbled on an unreported landmine in an abandoned Israeli military facility. Palestinian security sources stated that several Israel military vehicles raided the Sawarkah's home town overnight and ransacked the deceased's home. The Sawarkah family was forced into the street while the house was searched, then questioned for three hours in their home. No arrests were reported.
http://www.maannews .net/en/index. php?opr=ShowDeta ils&ID=31612

Israeli forces storm playground and arrest youth preparing for soccer game
(29 Aug) The Israeli army forced their way into the playing field of a Palestinian secondary school in the village of Tell in south west Nablus district on Friday afternoon. Local witnesses told Ma'an that dozens of Israeli soldiers stormed the area where a soccer game was about to be held and arrested 19-year-old Isma'iel Ibrahim Afanah and took him to an unknown destination.
http://www.maannews .net/en/index. php?opr=ShowDeta ils&ID=31598

Palestinians forced to strip at military checkpoint in Jenin
(30 Aug) Jenin / Ali Samoudi – Israeli soldiers forced Palestinians to remove their clothing for invasive searches before passing a military checkpoint in southern Jenin's Qabatiya yesterday. This is not an isolated incident. Eyewitnesses report that Israeli forces have done the same thing around Jenin in the past. "Soldiers used several methods to provoke, insult and humiliate citizens," a witness said. . . During the past few days Israeli forces have intensified their practices at the barriers around Jenin which is undergoing a campaign of daily raids and searches.
http://english. php?option= com_content&task=view&id=3443&Itemid=1

PCHR report on Israeli violations of Palestinian human rights, 21-27 August 2008
http://english. php?option= com_content&task=view&id=3445&Itemid=1

Palestinian and Israeli leaders to meet for talks on Sunday
(30 Aug) The Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will meet with the Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on Sunday for continued 'peace talks', according to officials.The talks come just days after a visit by US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, in which little progress was made toward lifting the roadblocks to peace that Israeli leaders have imposed.The timing also coincides with the release of a report by Reuters News Agency that the US government is providing tax breaks to organizations that fund illegal Israeli settlements on occupied Palestinian land, in direct violation of the statements made by Rice and George W. Bush.
http://www.imemc. org/article/ 56775

Bush's Mideast timeline looking unattainable
(30 Aug, AP) Peace negotiators representing Israel and the West Bank's moderate Palestinian leadership privately report progress in their efforts to outline future borders. But the talks are taking place in a vacuum, and haven't been accompanied by serious goodwill gestures that could help them succeed.
http://news. s/ap/20080830/ ap_on_re_ mi_ea/mideast_ peace_doldrums

Fayyad: Transitional government must be formed to oversee elections
(30 Aug) Palestinian Prime Minster of the caretaker government Salam Fayyad affirmed the need for a transitional government to replace the caretaker government in order to restore national unity. This body, he continued, would be charged with managing the country in preparation for general legislative and presidential elections. Fayyad called the transitional government a necessity if Palestinians wanted to end the separation between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
http://www.maannews .net/en/index. php?opr=ShowDeta ils&ID=31622

Former advisor to Arafat: "Time for a [peaceful] third intifadah"
(30 Aug) Basam Abu Sharif, an advisor to the late Palestinian President Yaser Arafat, has urged Palestinian youth to begin a third intifadah and popular strike to force the international community to re-evaluate their position on Israel and strengthen the Palestinian negotiating position. Abu Sharif urged the youth of all of the Palestinian factions to carry out peaceful demonstrations and sit-ins until the end of Ramadan with the aim of igniting a popular intifada (uprising) and a comprehensive strike demanding "freedom and independence in peaceful ways." If Palestinians resist peacefully en masse, he said "the entire world will become convinced of the necessity to bring justice to the Palestinians."
http://www.maannews .net/en/index. php?opr=ShowDeta ils&ID=31618

Hamas: 'PA security arrests 11 members in West Bank'
(30 Aug) Sources close to the Hamas movement reported on Friday that Palestinian security forces, loyal to president Mahmoud Abbas and his Fateh movement, arrested 11 members and supporters of Hamas in the West Bank Thursday. . . Moreover, Hamas sources said that the security forces are still holding captive Abdul-Rahman Ashour, Mohammad Abu Al Izz, and Nasr Al Beitawi, the son of legislator Hamid Al Beitawi. The three were arrested more than a month ago.
http://www.imemc. org/article/ 56774

Hamas: PA security seized 9 loyalists
(30 Aug) Palestinian Authority (PA) security services arrested 9 Hamas affiliates in the West Bank on Friday, Hamas said in a statement issued Saturday. According to the statement, Firas Zubaidy and Muhammad Shunnar were seized in Nablus district in the northern West Bank; Zakariyya Nassar, Walid Alqam and Salim Shahatit were seized in Dura in Hebron district in the south. . . .
http://www.maannews .net/en/index. php?opr=ShowDeta ils&ID=31615

PA raids near Hebron uncover more weapons, forged document
(30 Aug) Several weapons stashes, forged documents and incriminating photographs were seized in Hebron Saturday afternoon as local police and security conducted a widespread campaign. Earlier in the day fifty fugitives were seized in Surif north of Hebron, and several imprisonment orders were issued by Palestinian Authority (PA) security and police. The Palestinian police information office said in a statement that the security campaign in Surif and Dura included raids against drug and weapon dealers. . . Saturday evening the police intelligence unit held a press conference in Hebron, where they displayed the confiscated materials. Items not shown were financial documents that "belong to Hamas."
http://www.maannews .net/en/index. php?opr=ShowDeta ils&ID=31623

Egypt opens border crossing with Gaza Strip
(30 Aug, AP) GAZA CITY - Egypt opened its border crossing with the Gaza Strip on Saturday, allowing hundreds of people to enter and leave in a goodwill gesture before the holy Muslim month of Ramadan begins, officials said. People eligible to enter Egypt were told to gather in the southern town of Khan Younis at dawn, where their applications were processed. At least four buses crossed through to the Egyptian side where hundreds of police crowded to ensure security. Egypt will allow Palestinian students enrolled in universities abroad to leave Gaza, along with those with foreign residencies and work visas.
http://www.washingt wp-dyn/content/ article/2008/ 08/30/AR20080830 00357.html

Egyptians stranded in Gaza for six months bid farewell as Rafah crossing opens
(30 Aug) Since 8:00am Saturday morning, 6 buses carrying about 300 Egyptian citizens and residency permissions waited to cross the border at Rafah. The crossing will be open until 8pm and will open again on Sunday from 8am to 8pm. According to the de facto government ministry of health in the Gaza Strip, 400 patients from the Gaza Strip who have transfer permissions will leave through Rafah crossing for treatment abroad on Sunday.
http://www.maannews .net/en/index. php?opr=ShowDeta ils&ID=31613

Hundreds leave as Egypt opens border with Gaza
(30 Aug) Gaza: Egypt opened its border crossing with the Gaza Strip on Saturday, allowing hundreds of people to leave the Hamas-controlled territory, Palestinian officials said. Egyptian security and border sources said the Rafah border crossing will remain open for two days to allow Gazans with foreign residence permits and humanitarian cases to cross into Egypt.
http://archive. gulfnews. com/region/ Egypt/10241272. html

Gaza blockade protesters arrive in Cyprus with Palestinians
(29 Aug) LARNACA, Cyprus (AFP) - Activists who sailed to the Gaza Strip in two fishing boats in symbolic defiance of an Israeli blockade arrived back in Cyprus Friday with seven residents of the besieged territory on board, among them a teenager who needs an artificial leg. "I am very happy to be in Cyprus. I feel overwhelmed and overjoyed," said Saed Mosleh, 16, who lost his leg to an Israeli tank shell, as he was lifted from one of the boats in a wheelchair.
http://news. s/afp/20080829/ wl_mideast_ afp/mideastconfl ictgazacyprus

Gaza blockade boats planning second voyage
(30 Aug) Two boatloads of international protesters who defied Israel's blockade of Gaza sailed into Cyprus' Larnaca port late Friday, carrying seven Gaza Palestinians who had been confined to the territory. Some 32 protesters escorted the Palestinians on the 30-hour voyage that they hailed as effectively ending Israel's blockade of the Palestinian territory. "It's opened the door to everything," said U.S.-based Free Gaza Group organizer, American Paul Larudee. He said the way is now clear to deliver humanitarian assistance and ferry people in and out. Free Gaza plans a second trip to Gaza within the next month.
http://www.haaretz. com/hasen/ spages/1016517. html

Group on Gaza protest ship vows to start regular ferry service
(30 Aug) Larnaca: International protesters who defied Israel's blockade of Gaza to aid Palestinians have arrived in Cyprus, pledging to make a return voyage. Dozens of well-wishers greeted the 32 protesters and Palestinians at dockside of Larnaca port late on Friday.
http://archive. gulfnews. com/region/ Middle_East/ 10241264. html

Israeli forces arrest four fishermen at Beit Lahiya shore
(29 Aug) Four Gazan fishermen were detained and taken to an unknown location after being attacked on their boats while in Gaza waters near the northern Strip city of Beit Lahiya. Eyewitnesses reported seeing several Israeli vessels closing in on two Palestinian fishing boats, which were then attacked and arrested as the sun rose.Those detained were 55-year-old Mohammed Issa Sa'ad Allah, 18-year-old Ahmed Farid Sa'ad Allah, 60-year-old Mohamed Mohamed Sa'ad Allah and 39-year-old Jihad As-Sultan.
http://www.maannews .net/en/index. php?opr=ShowDeta ils&ID=31591

Stolen gas canisters were Gaza bound
(29 Aug) The largest illegal fuel depot in Israel's history was discovered yesterday when National Infrastructure Ministry inspectors raided a warehouse in Ashkelon's southern industrial zone.The warehouse, owned by a former defense establishment employee, housed more than 1,700 containers of cooking gas, or about 100 tons of fuel. Inspectors stressed that the warehouse had none of the standard fuel safety features, and the location of such an unprotected depot within rocket range of the Gaza Strip constituted a major hazard. The ministry suspects the containers were bought from an Arab resident of northern Israel, and then resold to a Palestinian resident of Gaza.
http://www.haaretz. com/hasen/ spages/1016316

CNN video on Palestinians' right of return, Lebanon refugee camp
(28 Aug)
http://cosmos. com/up/player/ popup/index. php?cl=9487020

Medical supplies destroyed as union actions against Hamas gov't continue in Gaza
(29 Aug) The de facto health ministry of the Gaza Strip said Friday morning that it apprehended groups of doctors and nurses attempting to destroy valuable and irreplaceable x-ray and surgical equipment. The actions are part of a surprise call for a strike from the Union of Medical Professionals after it was discovered that 40 union members were fired from their jobs in Gaza. This is one of a series of union actions protesting what they call the "violent means" of the Hamas government.
http://www.maannews .net/en/index. php?opr=ShowDeta ils&ID=31603

Penalties for striking medical workers threatened by de facto Ministry of Health
(29 Aug) No private medical company may employ a public sector worker on strike, said de facto minister of health Dr Basem Na'em on Friday. Na'em gave an emergency press conference late Friday in Gaza city, where he addressed the recent issues of striking medical workers. The medical workers union is the third union to declare a strike in the Gaza strip in response to what it calls the dangerous policies of the de facto Gaza Strip government. Na'em added that no one, whether organization or individuals, is to be permitted to destroy the health services essential to Palestinian citizens. Severe penalties, he said, will be taken against anyone who contravenes government orders beginning on Sunday.
http://www.maannews .net/en/index. php?opr=ShowDeta ils&ID=31605

False statement: PA Ministry of Health denies ordering striking workers to jobs
(30 Aug) Ramallah – The Ministry of Health for the Palestinian Authority (PA) stated Saturday that earlier statements urging striking Gazan medical workers back to their jobs was a forged statement. The ministry has avoided condemning or condoning the call to strike, but has said that it condemns the actions of the Hamas led government in Gaza with regards to medical workers.
http://www.maannews .net/en/index. php?opr=ShowDeta ils&ID=31610

Doctors' union: Gaza strike still on
(30 Aug) The Doctors' Union issued a statement Saturday afternoon assuring Palestinians that the medical workers' strike in the Gaza Strip is still on. The false call to end the strike issued Saturday morning by forged Ministry of Health documents, said the Union statement, was simply "one person's opinion on the subject," and not an official directive. The union added that whoever does not commit to the strike will be punished. The statement added that the strike will bring back people's rights in all governmental institutions in the Gaza Strip.
http://www.maannews .net/en/index. php?opr=ShowDeta ils&ID=31621

Gaza doctors strike against Hamas sackings
(30 Aug) GAZA CITY (AFP) - Doctors in the Gaza Strip went on strike Saturday to protest the sacking of some 50 doctors and other health workers by the Hamas-run health ministry, saying the decision was politically motivated."Today we have begun a total strike in the government-run health sector in the Gaza Strip and there is good participation, with 70 percent taking part," an official in the health workers' union told AFP on condition of anonymity.The official said emergency services providers and health workers loyal to the Islamist Hamas movement which has ruled Gaza since June 2007 were not taking part in the strike.
http://news. s/afp/20080830/ wl_mideast_ afp/mideastpolit icsgazahealthstr ike_080830115714

Khalid Amayreh: Journalist recounts nightmarish detention in PA prison
(30 Aug) Awadh Rajoub, who works for the Arabic service of, was charged with writing inflammatory reports and undermining vital national interests. "They confronted me with a huge pile of news reports I had written. They thought that these reports would indict me. They simply had no idea about how the press functions in a free society." Rajoub lamented the state of press freedom in the Occupied Territories
http://www.thepeopl cgi-bin/blogs/ voices.php/ 2008/08/30/ journalist_ recounts_ nightmarish_ detentio

Detainees in Al Jalama Israeli prison on hunger strike
(29 Aug) Lawyer Bothaina Doqmaq, head of the Mandela Institute in Palestine, reported on Friday that the detainees in several sections and in solitary confinement in Al Jalama Israeli prison and interrogation center started a hunger strike on Thursday in protest to the harsh living conditions and the administration's rejection to move them to ordinary sections although they ended their interrogation period.
http://www.imemc. org/article/ 56772

Neve Gordon: Refusing to oppress
(30 Aug) Eighteen-year- old Sahar Vardi is currently in an Israeli military prison. She is being punished for the crime of refusing to be conscripted into the Israeli military. While Vardi is the first woman to be imprisoned this year, she is part of a broader movement of Shministim, high-school seniors who refuse to be conscripted due to the military's oppression of the Palestinians. Two other conscientious objectors, Udi Nir and Avichai Vaknin, were imprisoned earlier this month and a few others are likely to follow suit.
http://www.antiwar. com/orig/ ngordon.php? articleid= 13380

Israel may release 450 Palestinian prisoners in exchange for Shalit
(29 Aug) An Israeli ministerial committee is set to discuss captive soldier Gilad Shalit deal on Sunday, and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has asked it to draft a list of 450 prisoners that Israel may release in exchange for the soldier, local daily Ha'aretz reported on its website Friday. A senior government source was quoted as saying that Hamas recently increased the number of Palestinian prisoners it wants Israel to release in exchange for Shalit, from 1,000 to 1,500.
http://english. cn/90001/ 90777/90854/ 6489759.html

Hamas: List of 1,000 names not negotiable if Israel wants Shalit
(30 Aug) Bethlehem – Hamas told a Dutch newspaper that they would not give up on the list of prisoners they want free in exchange with captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. The statement came from Abu Ubaydah, spokesperson for the Al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas' military wing. He said that the list of prisoners delivered to Israel includes all of the imprisoned Palestinian leaders and women prisoners.A Qatar-based newspaper reported Saturday that Hamas raised its demands to 1,500 prisoners after the latest prisoners swap between Israel and Hizbullah.
http://www.maannews .net/en/index. php?opr=ShowDeta ils&ID=31617

Modern soaps, smells, and detergents, 'Made in Palestine'
(29 Aug) Jenin – Ma'an – A detergent company based in Ramallah/Al- Bireh has launched a new promotion campaign, called "Made in Palestine," to market its goods nationally, in competition with Israeli and international brands.
http://www.maannews .net/en/index. php?opr=ShowDeta ils&ID=31595

Handicapped Palestinian siblings locked in cellar 'for years'
(28 Aug) BEIT AWWA, West Bank (AFP) - For years Nawal, 42, and her brother Bassam, 39, were kept captive by their father in a dark and filthy cellar sealed with an iron door because they are mentally handicapped, Palestinian police said on Thursday.Police discovered the pair by chance in a pre-dawn raid on Tuesday as they were hunting for suspects in Beit Awwa, a tiny West Bank village near Israel, and handed them over to an institute for the handicapped.
http://news. s/afp/20080828/ wl_mideast_ afp/mideastpales tiniansocialdisa bled_08082817283 5

Sex, love, violence - first Palestinian soap ready to air
(29 Aug) Ramallah - Womanhood, domestic violence, sexuality and love are some of the themes dominating a new Palestinian soap opera, set to air next week at the start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. "Our main focus was entertainment," said Fareed Majari, the producer of "Matabb" - Speed bump in Arabic - the name of what is being billed as the first homemade Palestinian soap opera, using local actors, dialect and themes to discuss pressing issues in the society.
http://www.earthtim show/228652, sex-love- violence- -first-palestini an-soap-ready- to-air.html

Stuart Littlewood: Israeli PR fails the 'decent, honest and truthful' test
(30 Aug) Stuart Littlewood shows how Israeli public relations fodder pumped out in London and Tel Aviv fails a crucial PR test. He argues that, if the Palestinians and other Arab were to get their media act together, they could "make mincemeat" of Israeli propaganda.
http://www.thepeopl cgi-bin/blogs/ voices.php/ 2008/08/30/ p28204

In Israel, a clash over who is a Jew
(30 Aug) Yael did not need a divorce, they ruled, because she had never been married. She had never been married because she had never been Jewish. And because she had never been Jewish, her children were not, either. "I was in shock. I couldn't believe it," said Yael, 43, who would allow only her Hebrew name to be published out of privacy concerns. Blond, blue-eyed and athletic-looking, Yael is baffled by the ordeal. "My kids grew up Jewish," she said. "They don't know anything else."
http://www.washingt wp-dyn/content/ article/2008/ 08/29/AR20080829 03594.html

Jerusalem council member: Seculars only have child and dog
(30 Aug) Seculars fear Haredi takeover - Mayoral race heating up as council meeting on haredi kindergarten generates catcalls, comparison to Nazis
http://www.ynetnews .com/articles/ 0,7340,L- 3589411,00. html

Peace Train: 'Apartheid barrier'
(29 Aug) Israeli authorities recently announced that they will soon move a portion of the "separation barrier" that snakes through the West Bank dividing land available to Israelis from land to which Palestinians are confined. Word that Israel would relocate the barrier stirred hopes in Jayyous that it might be moved to the Green Line. Such hopes, however, have been dashed by recent news. After the relocation, three-fourths of the land tended by Jayyous residents as well as all their water supplies will still remain on the Israeli side of the barrier, accessible only through a single checkpoint.
http://www.colorado news/2008/ aug/29/apartheid -barrier/

Khaled Diab: The Middle East on Biden
(30 Aug) Not one to rest on his laurels, Barack Obama is already delivering on his promise of change – albeit in the wrong direction. He has changed his image from that of the sophisticated, sensible and sensitive "outsider" to become another establishment figure. Since his nomination, the formerly progressive senator has taken a sharp turn to the right, and morphed, in terms of rhetoric at least, into a "Republican-lite" candidate. With his selection of Joe Biden, who can best be described as a dovish hawk, the transformation seems complete, as the man resembles John McCain on foreign policy. free/2008/ aug/30/usa. barackobama? gusrc=rss&feed=worldnews

Palestinian doctor describes torture in Libyan jail
(29 Aug) PARIS (AFP) - A Palestinian- born doctor imprisoned in Libya on charges of infecting children with AIDS has offered new and harrowing details of his incarceration, according to judicial testimony seen by AFP Friday. In his account to French judges, Doctor Ashraf al-Hajuj describes being raped by a German shepherd, having his nails ripped off and being given electric shocks.
http://news. s/afp/20080829/ wl_mideast_ afp/bulgarialiby ahealthaidspales tiniandoctor_ 080829190245

Iraq's Palestinians still live in fear
(29 Aug, AP) BAGHDAD - Omar Ahmed rarely emerges from his rundown Baghdad housing project. When he does, he leaves behind the Iraqi-issued ID card that marks him as a Palestinian and switches to the Iraqi dialect of Arabic at police checkpoints. The 23-year-old keeps a low profile because of repeated attacks and harassment of Palestinians, still resented by many Iraqis for what was perceived as their privileged status under Saddam Hussein
http://news. s/ap/20080829/ ap_on_re_ mi_ea/iraq_ palestinians_ in_limbo

Iraq: Kidnappings now become 'unofficial'
BAQUBA, Aug 29 (IPS) - Residents of Baquba deny police claims that kidnappings are now a matter of the past. "There are fewer people disappearing, but it continues," a trader who asked to be referred to as Abu Ali told IPS. "All of us know that several people are still being kidnapped every week."
http://dahrjamailir news/archives/ iraq/000833. php

Iraq to clear out Baghdad squatters
(30 Aug) BAGHDAD (AFP) - Iraqi forces will begin evacuating from next week squatters illegally occupying the Baghdad homes of people who fled at the height of the sectarian conflict, officials said on Saturday. The move is designed to encourage people who are the legal owners of their homes to return, said Daniel Endres, representative of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.
http://news. s/afp/20080830/ wl_mideast_ afp/iraqunrestre fugees

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