South Asia Citizens Wire - 18 Sept 2016 - No. 2909 
[via South Asia Citizens Web - since 1996]

1. Statement from Human Rights Watch regarding Pakistani Repatriation of Afghan 
2. Pakistan - Bangladesh: The hanging of Mir Quasem Ali | Pervez Hoodbhoy
3. India: Stalin’s Ghost Won’t Save Us from the Spectre of Fascism - A Response 
to Prakash Karat | Jairus Banaji
4. The Feasibility of the a return to the pre-1953 position in Jammu and 
Kashmir| Nyla Ali Khan
5. India: Only the constitution - Muslim women must count on its guarantees, 
not readings of religion | Razia Patel
6. India: The working class loses a friend - A tribute to Sharit Bhowmik
7. India: Statement by ASEAK on the Delhi University copyright judgement by 
Delhi High Court (16 Sept 2016)
8. Border to Border in Tangra: a documentary film on the Chinese community in 
9. Recent On Communalism Watch:
  - 'The Mobilizing Effect of Right-Wing Ideological Climates', Political 
Psychology - August 2016
  - India: A Hindu Mahapanchayat on Eid after violence in Mewat
  - India: Prakash Karat Unable To Locate Fascism In Hindutva (Shamsul Islam)
  - India: Growth of Hindutva in coastal Karnataka has been accompanied by 
intense communal polarisation (Vikhar Ahmed Sayeed)
  - India: Cow politics and a mob attack: A window to the Sangh Parivar's rise 
in West Bengal (Subrata Nagchoudhury)
  - India: Secular moorings Rahul, Cong’s only hope (C.P. Bhambhri)

::: URLs & FULL TEXT :::
10. Letting Nepal be | Kanak Mani Dixit
11. Modi's Pakistan policy and newfound interest in Balochistan (Commentary by 
Bharat Bhushan and Tapan Bose)
12. The Return of Sanskrit - How an Old Language Got Caught up in India’s New 
Culture Wars | Ananya Vajpeyi
13. Healing The Valley: Article 370 is a constitutional provision, let’s honour 
it | Kanti Bajpai
14. India: A foreign woman's response to Mahesh Sharma - It's got nothing to do 
with dressing modestly | Carissa Hickling
15. India: Raman Singh Is Circumventing A Supreme Court Order That Shamed Him | 
Mani Shankar Aiyar
16. Time Stops at Jamalpur | by Pratik Kanjilal
17. Women Empowerment in Bangladesh of the Forest, Tree & Grassroots
18. Russia: Administration orders mass reindeer killing, fast-tracks gas 
19. Luconi on Guarnieri, 'Italian Psychology and Jewish Emigration under 
Fascism: From Florence to Jerusalem and New York'

Since July 2016, Pakistani police and provincial authorities have stepped up 
pressure against Afghans living in Pakistan in what the United Nations High 
Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has called “a concerted push” to repatriate a 
large number of Afghan refugees before the end of 2016.

by Pervez Hoodbhoy
PAKISTAN’S Foreign Office says Pakistan is “deeply saddened” by the execution 
in Bangladesh last week of Mir Quasem Ali. Mir Quasem was found guilty in 2014 
by a Bangladeshi court of torture, multiple murders and arson. He was sentenced 
to death after what Pakistan describes as “a flawed judicial process”. But why 
is Pakistan so worried about the integrity of Bangladesh’s judicial process?

by Jairus Banaji
While all authoritarianisms are not fascist, all fascisms are a form of 
authoritarianism. What is distinctive about fascist authoritarianism is its 
appeal to forms of mass mobilisation and attempt to create sources of 
legitimacy among ‘the masses’ – through cultural (e.g. pseudo-religious) and 
ideological domination

by Nyla Ali Khan
Unlike a lot of political actors in J & K, my work is not based on hear –say, 
so here is my response to all those, including jingoistic media persons, who 
assume that the pre-1953 position is impractical and completely nullifies the 
jurisdiction of the Supreme Court of India over J & K. Achievable solutions get 
relegated to the background when federal countries emphasize centralization as 
opposed to decentralization.

The path of women’s liberation is through the values enshrined in the Indian 
Constitution. It is unfortunate that rather than leading the community towards 
absolute human rights, intellectuals are making the situation for the community 
worse by resorting to the logic of a religious framework.

Around 18 years ago, taking time off from a seminar on street vendors at the 
Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), Sharit Bhowmik took a student to a 
fishery co-operative near Mumbai. He had recently declined the position of 
director, TISS and the student asked him why. He said had he accepted the 
offer, he would not be able to do the kind of work that was important to him. 
The response typified Bhowmik, scholar, teacher, activist, advocate for the 
rights of working class, mentor, friend and amongst India’s most respected 
sociologists, whom I have the honour of calling my teacher.

In a rare and incredible order today, the Delhi High Court has dismissed the 
copyright infringement case filed by Oxford University Press, Cambridge 
University Press and Taylor and Francis (Routledge) against Rameshwari 
Photocopy Shop in Delhi School of Economics and Delhi University. Justice R.S 
Endlaw in a 94 pages long judgment interpreted educational exception under 
section 52(1)(i) of the copyright act in broad enough manner to cover the acts 
of photocopying.



  - 'The Mobilizing Effect of Right-Wing Ideological Climates', Political 
Psychology - August 2016
  - India: A Hindu Mahapanchayat on Eid after violence in Mewat
  - India: Prakash Karat Unable To Locate Fascism In Hindutva (Shamsul Islam)
  - India: The steady growth of Hindutva in coastal Karnataka has been 
accompanied by intense communal polarisation (Vikhar Ahmed Sayeed)
  - India: Cow politics and a mob attack: A window to the Sangh Parivar's rise 
in West Bengal (Subrata Nagchoudhury)
  - India: Secular moorings Rahul, Cong’s only hope (C.P. Bhambhri)
  - India: Douse the flames - Both Karnataka and Tamil Nadu must quell violence 
and manage available water better   -   - India: Fears Over Land, Identity Fuel 
Manipur’s Bonfire of Anxieties (Sangeeta Barooah Pisharoty)
  - India - Cauvery river water sharing dispute: Is the Bengaluru violence 
really about Kannada identity?
  - India's War On Biryani Mixes Caste, Religion, Cow-Avenging Vigilantes 
(Sandip Roy | 12 sept 2016 on NPR)
  - India: Film on 1946 riots refused censor nod (Shiv Sahay Singh)
  - India - Cauvery row: Fear and panic spread across Bengaluru
  - India: Why Flavia Agnes ends up on the same side as the anti-women Muslim 
Personal Law Board: Javed Anand
  - India: Nathuram Godse pulled the trigger, but who really killed Mahatma 
Gandhi? (Tushar A Gandhi)

 -> available via:
::: URLs & FULL TEXT :::

by Kanak Mani Dixit
(The Hindu - 15 September 2016)

It should be in India’s interest to leave Nepal free to sort out its own 
challenges. New Delhi should consider the need for economic growth in U.P. and 
Bihar when it sits down to strategise on Nepal

It is time for New Delhi to decide to what extent it is in the interest of 
India to deepen its intervention in the political affairs of Nepal. There is 
much to do bilaterally on the environmental, cultural, economic fronts, and the 
dangers of keeping Nepal constantly insecure and on the boil open up the 
possibility of societal instability leaching to adjacent Indian States.

One doubts whether New Delhi think tanks have considered the economic impact 
political stability in Nepal would have on the dispossessed northern regions of 
Bihar and Uttar Pradesh. The open border creates such an interconnected 
sociocultural web that a stable and prosperous Nepal will be a catalyst for 
this region. The weakness of Nepal Studies in Indian academia is astounding, 
and can only be the result of overwhelming preoccupation with geopolitics, with 
little interest in the welfare of India’s own peripheral populations.

The attention of South Block seems focused entirely on ‘correcting’ Nepal’s new 
Constitution through amendments, mainly relating to the configuration of 
federal units. Given the lack of active interest amongst Indian politicians, 
academia and civil society, the field has been left open for diplomats and 
intelligence operatives to determine the course of action, the latter having 
enjoyed increasing leeway in Kathmandu over the past decade.

The level of interference claimed by the writer is confirmed by authors and 
analysts celebrated in New Delhi circles, but there has been no pullback 
perhaps because of an unspoken acknowledgement of India’s ‘right’ to intervene 
in the neighbourhood.


Few independent observers in Kathmandu (or New Delhi, for that matter) would 
doubt that Indian interlocutors had a hand in the cobbling together of the 
present coalition government of the Maoists and Nepali Congress, headed by the 
Maoist Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’. The government of K.P. Oli had aroused 
displeasure in New Delhi corridors for standing up to the economic blockade and 
signing trade and transit agreements with Beijing (themselves made possible by 
the economic blockade).

Despite all this, the visit of Prime Minister Dahal to India is important to 
get the relationship back on track after the train wreck of the past year. His 
Cabinet is also well-placed to hold out an olive branch to the irate 
‘Madhesbaadi’ politicians, whose participation is needed for a stable polity.

New Delhi must now internalise the lessons from its unfettered show of 
displeasure regarding Nepal’s adoption of the Constitution of 2015, by a 
Constituent Assembly elected through democratic, representative elections. 
Meanwhile, the larger Indian polity must pay heed to the fallout of 
micro-meddling on Nepal.

There was a time when Nepal’s polity was supported at the highest level in 
India because of the respect and clout of top-rung political leaders who had 
fought for Indian independence alongside Jawaharlal Nehru, Rajendra Prasad et 
al. The last of these statesmen was G.P. Koirala, after whose passing in 2010 
Nepal’s governance came under the influence of little men willing to kowtow 
even to junior personnel at the Indian Embassy in Kathmandu, or any passer-by 
who claimed to speak for ‘India’.

Kathmandu’s politicos are the primary culprits for this erosion of the 
bilateral relationship, and their inability to stand up to pressure has been 
well-exposed. There is also not a little confusion in Kathmandu as to who 
speaks for ‘India’ besides South Block — the intelligence operatives, the 
Bharatiya Janata Party/Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, assorted godmen, and so on.

India’s Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) will hopefully deepen its own study 
of Nepal. An understanding of the geography, demography, economy, the 
democratic urge of the citizenry, as well as the history of the oldest and 
non-colonised nation-state of South Asia makes Nepal (comparatively) a 
different kind of country within South Asia.

For now, MEA-India’s focus seems exclusively geo-strategic, to do with 
‘controlling’ Nepal and its natural resources and countenancing China across 
the Himalayan range. This exclusive preoccupation must be reviewed because of 
the transformed ground realities where much has changed in terms of aspirations 
and access to information on all sides.

Geophysical sensitivity

The transforming economy, terrain and geopolitics of the central Himalaya 
demand an evolved doctrine of engagement with Nepal, even for India’s own 
self-interest. A new world is beckoning, far different from when India’s 
doctrine on the Himalayan rimland was encoded in the early 1960s.

Environmental stresses have increased right along the Himalayan chain over the 
past half century, and human intervention is drastic, as seen in the violence 
done to the Teesta’s flow in Sikkim or the madness in the construction of hill 
roads in Nepal. The entire Himalaya and the plains of the Ganga make up one 
ecosystem, requiring geophysical even more than geopolitical sensitivity.

Certainly, it will not do for South Block to act like an imperial directorate 
on Nepal, foisting a uniform and unchanging vision of Himalayan security. It is 
past time for New Delhi’s commentariat to get over the perfunctory tags of who 
is ‘pro-Indian’ and ‘pro-Chinese’, a simplistic formulation which hurts only 
oneself vis-à-vis the need for nuance in international relations.

At a time when the railway has arrived on the Tibetan plateau, there is no need 
to deny Nepal’s need to ease its landlocked-ness by extending highway 
connectivity northwards — especially when the Indian economy itself stands to 

Terai-Madhes fixation

But as Mr. Dahal arrives, the main focus of the Indian authorities is 
disappointingly narrowed down to amendments to the new Constitution, mainly 
having to do with altering the demarcation of the announced seven provinces to 
make them more plains-oriented and stretching east-west from end-to-end. 
Whereas this is purportedly at the behest of ‘Madhesbaadi’ politicians, it is 
not at all clear that this will benefit Nepal’s Madhesi people of plains origin 
and whether the demographic make-up of the Terai-Madhes plains will allow the 
proposed reconfiguration.

Since the Indian interlocutors are so openly pushing the amendment agenda, 
almost as if to teach Kathmandu a lesson, let them consider that the final 
formula must perforce benefit the Terai-Madhes plains, where there is both 
density of population and concentration of poverty. The Madhesi people, 
citizens suffering historical discrimination at the hands of the Kathmandu 
state, should not be penalised by geopolitics and the all-too-evident 
weaknesses of the Nepali national leadership.


There are myriad other pressing issues beyond constitutional amendment where 
the Nepal-India relationship is presently wedged. Vitally, there is the need to 
plan cross-border linkages and projects related to natural resources — whether 
and what kind of dams and reservoirs are to be built; evaluating embankments 
along the main rivers for the silt they trap; the environmental dangers to both 
sides from excavation of the Chure (Shivalik) hills to feed India’s need for 
rocks and boulders; or the meaning of receding glaciers (mainly the result of 
the South Asian ‘brown cloud’) for the entire downstream region.

Nepal and India need to discuss regulating the open bilateral border without 
compromising its status as the most ‘naturally evolved’ frontier of the region. 
Kathmandu needs to consider social security of the uncounted but more than 
three million Nepali citizens working in India, while New Delhi must address 
the vulnerabilities of Indian citizens of Nepali origin, as well as Indians 
working north of the border. How will the introduction of biometric ID cards in 
India impact the status of Nepali citizens working legally under the umbrella 
of the 1950 Treaty of Peace and Friendship, and can Nepal’s own upcoming 
national ID card help in the managing the movement of citizenry?

From public health to shared economic growth, promoting tourism-without-borders 
to developing mutual academic depth, Nepal and India must work as one. But the 
future cannot be built by ‘controlling’ Nepal through planned build-up of a 
pliant political class in Kathmandu.

There has to be a rebuilding of empathy and trust between the two governments, 
which must start by rolling back the hyper-activism of the bureaucracy and 
rebuilding of relationships between the politicians of two sides. Despite his 
problematic past, Prime Minister Dahal must be perceived as a representative of 
Nepal’s polity rather than a leader in trouble with vulnerabilities to be 

Nepal is hardly a paragon nation-state, and historical prejudices and 
inequities have percolated down to the present. But one daresay that Nepal 
should be allowed to make and learn from its own errors rather than evolve as a 
client state that will forever be a canker on the side of India. Nepal must 
move on, starting with local government elections in the spring (they have not 
happened for 18 years), which will also indicate the start of the 
Constitution’s actual implementation.

It should be in India’s interest to leave Nepal free to sort out its own 
challenges. It would also help if New Delhi would consider the need for 
economic growth in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar when it sits down to strategise on 

Kanak Mani Dixit, a writer and journalist based in Kathmandu, is founding 
editor of the magazine Himal Southasian. 

Bharat Bhushan and Tapan Bose)
(Catchnews - 12 September 2016)

by Bharat Bhushan 

Raising the issue of Pakistan's terrorism at all available global fora plays 
well with the domestic audience. But whether Prime Minister Narendra Modi's 
efforts will lead to the isolation or marginalisation of Pakistan 
internationally remains to be seen.

There is no certainty that even the US, with whom India is trying to forge 
closer strategic ties, will give up on Pakistan.That the US will continue to 
assuage both sides was evident from US Secretary of State John Kerry's 
statements during his recent visit to India.

At one point, sitting next to External Affairs Minister, Sushma Swaraj, Kerry 
seemed to suggest that peace talks between India and Pakistan could not be 
sustained in the face of terrorism. He said, "It is vital that Pakistan join 
other nations in tackling these issues (terrorism and sanctuary for militants)."

A day later, however, while still in New Delhi, Kerry suggested that Pakistan 
had also suffered greatly due to terrorism and talked of the "blowback" 
Pakistan had suffered by acting against terrorism. "More than 50,000 people 
have been killed...people define a great religion Islam in a way that doesn't 
reflect that religion. They steal it, hijack it. When Pakistan does take 
action, there's usually pretty intense pushback and blowback which makes it 
(tackling terror) harder," he said.
"The US, with whom India is trying to forge closer ties, is unlikely to give up 
on Pakistan anytime soon"

This is not merely a recognition that homegrown terrorism exists in Pakistan. 
It also underlines the US desire to keep Pakistan on its right side. It 
requires Pakistan's help in its efforts to bring peace to Afghanistan. After 
all, the entire Taliban leadership and the leaders of its various factions 
continue to be hosted by Pakistan. US compulsions in Afghanistan were evident 
when it agreed to a role for Pakistan's 'all weather friend' China in a 
quadrilateral dialogue (Afghanistan, US, Pakistan and China) - to start a 
reconciliation process with the Taliban.

Not one to be ignored

The relationship between Pakistan and Afghanistan is not sufficiently 
appreciated in India. It is as close and as complicated as the relationship 
between India and Nepal. There is an open border between the two countries, the 
ethnic composition of the population on both sides of the border is the same 
and the links of the hinterland with the larger and more powerful neighbour are 
strong. What's more, the bigger neighbour gives Afghanistan its only access to 
warm water ports. Geography and cultural links make the relationship almost 
impossible to break in the short to medium run. Afghanistan will always be 
compelled to seek good relations with Pakistan just as Nepal does with India.

The relationship between Afghanistan and Pakistan is also complicated by the 
fact that all Afghan armed insurgents find safe haven, training and an 
unlimited supply of weapons in Pakistan. It gives Pakistan a huge leverage in 
stabilising or destabilising Kabul's politics and deciding who controls it. 
India's strategic role in Afghanistan, even with US encouragement, is unlikely 
to go beyond giving a bit of military hardware and training to Afghan security 

Thus, irrespective of how strong the strategic relationship between the US and 
India or India and Afghanistan, Washington cannot afford to ignore Islamabad. 
This is why the Indian strategy of trying to isolate Pakistan amidst big 
international players like the US, is unlikely to be effective.

The diplomatic potential of the Prime Minister's new aggressive line on 
Balochistan is also uncertain.

There are those who think that raising the Balochistan issue is a fitting 
riposte to Pakistan for their role in Kashmir. By speaking on Balochistan one 
also draws attention to the fact that there is a major component of internal 
misgovernance to the Kashmir problem. Not everyone believes that every protest 
in Kashmir is orchestrated by puppet masters sitting in Pakistan. One hopes 
therefore that this is a calibrated strategy that allows for dynamic 
modification, including a graceful retreat from the current aggressive posture 
if relations with Pakistan improve.

Running from reality

Unfortunately, the government in power today has suddenly decided not to 
recognize Kashmir as an unresolved issue with Pakistan. It refuses to talk with 
either Pakistan or to the pro-Azadi factions of the separatists (as opposed to 
people like Syed Ali Shah Geelani who act as agents of Pakistan). It supports 
and is a part of an unpopular alliance of unlikely political partners in 
Srinagar who do not see eye to eye with each other and whose constituencies are 
as different from each other as chalk and cheese.
"Only brainwashed neo-nationalists believe that everything happening in Kashmir 
is orchestrated by Pakistan"

Delhi takes a long time to take corrective action when Kashmiris either suffer 
natural calamities, such as the floods of 2014, or at the hands of the 
paramilitary forces (such as using pellet guns to control protestors leading to 
eye injuries).

Aggressive statements about human rights in Balochistan will not improve the 
condition of the people of Kashmir, the impunity of the Indian security forces 
or do away with the history of suffering of the Kashmiris.

Meanwhile, in one fell swoop, the PM's Balochistan gambit has taken away the 
deniability of the Indian intelligence agencies for any past or present role 
they may have had in intelligence gathering operations in Balochistan. 
Henceforth, every incident that takes place in Balochistan is likely to be 
blamed on India. The alleged Indian spy Kulbhushan Jadhav will continue to be 
paraded by Pakistan as proof of India's involvement in that restive province.

If for a moment India were to seriously consider taking the Balochistan issue 
beyond the level of rhetoric, replicating Pakistan's strategy in Kashmir, a 
plan of action pushed on TV channels by Indian hawks, we would have to factor 
in the response of countries other than Pakistan.

The homeland of the Baloch is divided between Pakistan, Iran and Afghanistan. 
There is no evidence of any awareness in the policy-making establishment of how 
Iran and Afghanistan might react to India upping the ante on Balochistan.

Iran which is a Shia state has managed to exploit the energy and natural 
resources of Sistan Baluchistan but the Baloch population living there is a 
religious minority practicing Sunni Islam. Some estimates suggest that 80 per 
cent of the Baloch in Iran live below the poverty line, their life expectancy 
is eight years less than the national average and their infant mortality rates 
are the highest in the country.

Disgruntled Baloch elements in Iran have formed the Jundullah, which leads an 
insurgency against the Shiite-regime in Tehra. Under attack, Jundullah 
militants find safe-havens on the Pakistan side of Balochistan. Therefore, any 
ratcheting of violence on the Pakistani side of Balochistan by India, could 
have direct consequences for Iran. Forces inimical to Iran, such as the Saudis, 
could also launch a false flag operation there, where the blame could fall on 

The point is unless the consequences of raking up the Balochistan issue are 
fully thought through, and carefully calibrated strategies for graceful 
retraction planned for, precious little is likely to be achieved in the long 

And most importantly, the Indian PM must identify what India wants to achieve 
with Pakistan. Do we want peaceful co-existence, if not friendship, with 
Pakistan or do we want to be in a state of constant war mongering, threatening 
each other with worse things to come? Impetuous declarations will not help find 
lasting answers to these questions.
Bharat Bhushan is Editor of Catch News, Bharat has been a hack for 25 years. He 
has been the founding Editor of Mail Today, Executive Editor of the Hindustan 
Times, Editor of The Telegraph in Delhi, Editor of the Express News Service, 

o o o
(catchnews - 15 September 2016)

by Tapan Bose

Human rights violations in Balochistan

When Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's declared that his government would 
highlight the violation of Baloch people's human rights by Pakistan, it was 
welcomed by Baloch nationalists.
The Baloch have been desperately seeking international support for their cause. 
Unfortunately, no foreign government has taken it up till date.
However, non-government human rights groups like Amnesty International, Human 
Rights Watch, FIDH and Médecins Sans Frontières have been raising the issue for 
a long time. So have regional and national groups like the Human Rights 
Commission of Pakistan, the Asian Human Rights Commission and the South Asia 
Forum for Human Rights.

As a human rights defender, I am happy that India will join the group of human 
rights defenders at the United Nations and other international fora.

"Prime Minister Narendra Modi mentioned Balochistan in his Independence Day 
address last month"

Since the Indian government is a newcomer in this field, I would like to share 
my experience in the hope that it will help Modi and his officials in their new 
role as human rights defenders/campaigners.
The most difficult task is proving human rights abuses. Governments routinely 
dismiss these complaints as unsubstantiated, and human rights defenders are 
discredited as anti-national, and motivated by foreign agencies.

Proving the identity of the perpetrators is not an easy task. A complaint needs 
to be substantiated with credible facts and figures, doctors' certificates, 
forensic reports, testimonies of witnesses and court proceedings. Getting all 
these in countries where the government and its forces are the violators is a 
risky job.
How Justice Chaudhry highlighted the abuse

For long, the issue of large-scale disappearances in Balochistan did not 
attract the attention of the Pakistani media. Perhaps the plight of the 
ordinary Baloch people was not attractive.
However, this changed when a Lahore-based Baloch businessman, Masood Janjua, 
disappeared in 2005.

The newspaper Dawn took up the case, but it made little difference. The real 
change occurred when Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, the then-Chief Justice 
of Pakistan, took a keen interest in these complaints.
Encouraged by Justice Chaudhry and aided by human rights groups, the families 
of the missing persons filed well-documented petitions in the Supreme Court. By 
October 2006, nearly 458 cases were before the court.
Thanks to the efforts of the Supreme Court, 186 persons were traced, some were 
released while others were relocated to designated detention centers.

"By October 2006, nearly 458 missing persons cases had been filed before the 
Pak Supreme Court"

Pakistan's army, intelligence and other security agencies refused to cooperate, 
and attempted to block the hearings on the grounds of national security.
Then, in October 2007, an angry Justice Chaudhry declared he would summon the 
heads of the intelligence agencies to testify and take legal action against 
them, if warranted.
By challenging the government on the issue of the disappearances, Justice 
Chaudhry had intruded into the domain of national security. His last hearing on 
the disappearances was on 1 November 2007. Three days later, he was dismissed, 
precipitating a chain of events that brought down General Musharraf's 
Thanks to Justice Chaudhry, and the work of the human rights groups, a large 
body of evidence of gross abuse of human rights of the Baloch people is 
available in the public domain. With the assistance of some members of the 
Baloch diaspora, I am sure Indian officials will be able to prepare a 
well-documented case.

The history of the struggle

However, Modi needs to be aware that the Baloch people are struggling for 
'independence'. The grandson of Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti, who thanked Modi, 
represents the Baloch national movement for self-determination.

The Baloch did not support the Pakistan movement. The Khan of Kalat, the 
largest of the princely states of Balochistan, wanted to remain independent. 
The Muslim League had tried to win him over through the Lahore Resolution of 23 
March 1940, which had pledged that the Pakistani state would be a 
confederation, and the powers of the Central government limited to defence, 
foreign affairs, foreign trade, communications and currency.

The resolution promised that the constituent units would be "autonomous and 
exercise sovereign" power in all other areas. (It is reminiscent of the terms 
of the 1952 New Delhi Agreement signed by Jawaharlal Nehru and Sheikh Abdullah. 
In 1953, New Delhi removed Sheikh Abdullah and set up a government with pliable 

In 1948, when Pakistan asked the Khan of Kalat to join it on the basis of 
religion, the democratically-elected parliament of Balochistan unanimously 
voted against the merger.
"In 1948, the parliament of Balochistan unanimously voted against its merger 
with Pakistan"

Pakistan invaded Balochistan on 27 March 1948. The Baloch resisted. But their 
insurgency was subdued in 1955, and Balochistan was incorporated as the 
westernmost province of Pakistan.

In 1958, the Pakistan Army occupied Balochistan once again, as the locals had 
taken up arms against the "One Unit Policy" of General Ayub Khan. (India 
enacted the Armed Forces Special Powers Act to quell the Naga insurgency in the 
same year.)
Since 1948, the Baloch have been waging an armed struggle against the Pakistani 
State to win the autonomy promised in the Lahore resolution, or, failing that, 
The current phase of the insurgency began in 2004 and was led by Nawab Akbar 
Khan Bugti and Mir Balach Marri. Nawab Bugti was killed in 2006.

A sticky wicket

Non-governmental human rights groups generally support the Universal 
Declaration on Human Rights' provision that "all people have the right to 
India does not accept the right to self-determination of peoples. It will be on 
a sticky wicket if it goes to the UN Human Rights Council with the case of the 
Baloch people.
As human rights have become a tool of diplomacy, the credibility of State 
parties raising the issue of human rights violations is no longer an issue. The 
United States, the biggest violator of human rights globally, is the most 
aggressive advocate of human rights.
However, the US is a superpower. Its neighbours do not raise the issue of the 
US government's violation of human rights of US citizens.
India, on the other hand, is not a superpower. Its neighbours are certainly 
capable of hitting back with records of abuse of human rights by India. The 
"brave new policy" should not boomerang on us.

Tapan Bose is Secretary General, South As‎ia Forum for Human Rights.

by Ananya Vajpeyi
(World Policy Journal 2016 Volume 33, Number 3: 45-50)

Indian scholar Ananya Vajpeyi examines the way the ruling Bharatiya Janata 
Party is using Sanskrit to advance a Hindu supremacist agenda. She argues that 
academics need to step out of the ivory tower and resist the government’s 
manipulation of this ancient language.

NEW DELHI—If you look out your plane window during landing or take off at New 
Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport, the view of the nearby Jawaharlal 
Nehru University campus can be startling. From above, you can see that the 
Special Centre for Sanskrit Studies building has the shape of a swastika.

Based on the Sanskrit word svastika, meaning “bringing good luck,” the swastika 
is an ancient symbol that looks like a cross with its four arms bent at right 
angles. For at least the past two and half millennia, Hindus, Jains, and 
Buddhists have considered the sign auspicious. But in the 1920s, the National 
Socialist Party in Germany adopted it, rotating it to give it a diagonal 
orientation. Ever since, outside of Asian ritual settings, the association with 
Nazis has stigmatized the symbol. The two meanings of the swastika—one ancient, 
one modern; one good, the other evil; one Eastern, the other 
Western—encapsulate the contradictions within Sanskrit itself.

Sanskrit is an old language rich with liturgy, scripture, philosophy, and 
literature, but its use has, for the most part, been restricted to men and 
religious and political elites. Traditional scholarship has continued to study 
and debate the narratives, ideas, and ritual practices set out in the estimated 
30 million texts of this language, but contemporary understandings have also 
critiqued the restrictive social contexts in which Sanskrit has all along been 

Beginning in the middle of the 19th century, when British rule was established 
in India, Sanskrit became a weapon of anti-colonial resistance and a source of 
pride for Indians embattled by the hegemony of Western values and foreign 
knowledge systems. But by the end of the 20th century, secular and left-wing 
scholars began to criticize the elitism—indeed the outright social 
inequality—associated with Sanskrit learning. Undeniably oppressive for some 
communities within India, especially non-Brahmin castes and women, but arguably 
empowering for Indians when seen against the backdrop of colonialism, Sanskrit 
continues to oscillate between negative and positive meanings, like the 
swastika-shaped building of the Sanskrit department at JNU.

Since independence in 1947, the postcolonial state had largely ignored 
Sanskrit. In 1956, a specially appointed governmental commission under the 
leadership of the eminent linguist Suniti Kumar Chatterji released a massive 
report on the state of Sanskrit education. This document was presented to the 
Indian Parliament in 1957, and its recommendations languished for almost six 
decades. And so, until recently, Sanskrit had settled into a kind of quiescence 
(seemingly even an obsolescence).

Only in the past two to three years, with the rise of the Hindu nationalist 
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has Sanskrit 
re-entered the public imagination as part of the “culture wars” between the 
Hindu right and secular left.

After a decisive victory in the 2014 national elections, the BJP consolidated 
power and formed a majority government. The ruling party is now fighting to 
legitimate the two cornerstones of its interpretation of Hindu culture: caste 
and Sanskrit. These ideas constitute an assault on the more egalitarian, 
pluralist, participatory, and progressive visions of political modernity that 
have prevailed since India’s founding.

It is not that caste or exclusivist high culture based on Sanskrit erudition 
had ever died away, but India’s postcolonial leaders had managed to build a 
consensus that valued equal citizenship and democracy over the relics of the 
past. The ghosts of the caste system and of Sanskrit have now returned to haunt 
the Indian polity.

In this environment, it is important to understand what sort of object Sanskrit 
is, why we should care so much about it today, and why it’s so crucial to 
resist the BJP’s manipulation of this ancient language.


All travelers, immigrants, imperialists, invaders, and seekers of salvation or 
wealth who have ever come to India, from Alexander the Great in the 3rd century 
B.C. to American hippies of the 1960s, have encountered the enigma of Sanskrit. 
The language has something in common with Latin and Greek, Hebrew and Arabic, 
Persian and Chinese, Hittite and Aramaic, Turkish and Japanese, Tamil and 
Tibetan, and a few other great languages of the pre-modern world, in that we 
associate it with revelation, scripture, and ritual; with culture and 
civilization; indeed, with the very origins of linguistic communication among 

Yet Sanskrit is also different from its peers, because unlike some of the other 
classical languages, it has neither disappeared nor been reborn as a modern 
language used by any nation, region, or people (unlike Chinese, Persian, 
Arabic, Greek, or Hebrew). It is the only classical language that has 
extraordinary political valence today, despite only being used in limited and 
specialized contexts.

The Hindu nationalists that rule India rest much of their agenda of religious 
revivalism and cultural pride on the age and prestige of Sanskrit, which 
emerged “out of the myth smoke” (in the evocative words of the historian of 
India, John Keay) some 3,500 years ago. The Hindu Right, however, thinks 
nothing of dialing back its origins many thousands of years before this. The 
point is to prove that Hinduism pre-dates not only all of the Semitic religions 
(Judaism, Christianity, and Islam) but also all other Indic religions 
(Buddhism, Jainism, and Sikhism).

Moreover, in the Hindu Right’s view, Sanskrit is not only India’s essential 
language of belief but also its once and future language of science. In this 
nativist project, Sanskrit takes precedence over Hindi, English, Tamil, 
Persian, Pali, or any other contenders whether ancient, medieval, or modern as 
the one language that represents and embodies Indian civilization.

Pushing back against this insistence on the centrality of Sanskrit are Indian 
secularists (for whom the language’s overwhelmingly Hindu baggage weighs it 
down), liberals (who are uncomfortable with its non-modern provenance), 
leftists (who object to the ideologies of social inequality embedded in 
Sanskrit texts), feminists (who deem it a repository of patriarchal values), 
and Dalits (formerly known as Untouchables, who see Sanskrit as inseparable 
from the caste system, the language of Brahmin domination over the rest of 
Hindu society).

Even many of those who know and appreciate the Sanskrit corpus for the wealth 
of its knowledge systems, the aesthetics of its literary genres, the beauty of 
its poetry, the brilliance of its thought, the regularity of its grammar, and 
the profundity of its insights have a hard time defending it against the 
charges leveled by its many detractors.


The first modern critic of Sanskrit as the font of ideologies of social 
inequality and Brahmin domination was Bhimrao Ambedkar (1891–1956), the leader 
of India’s Dalits. When Ambedkar was a young student, he was denied the 
opportunity to study Sanskrit at school or university, thanks to his outcaste 
status. He later responded by aggressively teaching himself not just Sanskrit 
but also Pali, the language of ancient Buddhism.

When Ambedkar oversaw the drafting of the Indian Constitution, which was 
promulgated in 1950, he argued that eliminating caste hierarchy, abolishing 
untouchability, and establishing equal citizenship were the prerequisites of 
democracy. In the last year of his life, 1956, he inaugurated a sect of 
neo-Buddhism and declared himself no longer a Hindu. Ambedkar converted his 
Brahmin wife and close to half a million Dalits, recalling the first revolt 
against Vedic religion and Hindu caste society by Siddhartha Gautama, the 
Buddha, two and a half millennia ago.

In our own times, Sheldon Pollock, 69, professor of Sanskrit at Columbia 
University, has consistently pointed out that regardless of the intellectual, 
philosophical, artistic, or religious value that may be retrieved from the 
texts and practices of Sanskrit, its complicity with conservative, patriarchal, 
and unequal ideas of social order cannot simply be set aside.

Pollock has developed a thesis of “critical philology” that departs from both 
the age-old knowledge practices of Sanskrit pundits in India and the 
Orientalist biases of Western Indology. Philology—in Pollock’s redefinition of 
this discipline—requires the study of texts in their social contexts. By this 
he means both the contexts of their production, which lie in pre-modern times, 
and the contexts of their reception, which include the modern day.

Pollock believes that a text must be studied along three axes of 
interpretation: authorial intention, traditions of reading, and the assumptions 
and expectations of the present moment in which the text is once again 
received. Without these complex interpretive parameters, he argues, a text can 
be neither read responsibly nor understood fully.

Naturally, critical philology challenges the claims of Sanskrit’s ahistorical 
perfection. For Hindu nationalists, even the etymology of the word 
Sanskrit—which comes from samskrta, meaning “perfectly constructed”—suggests 
its timeless authority. Pollock, on the contrary, argues that both texts and 
textual meanings are the work of human minds and therefore inescapably situated 
in human society.

In recent years, Pollock has supported a number of campaigns to preserve and 
augment the freedom of expression and civil liberties in India, including a 
massive protest against the banning of two books on Hindus and Hinduism by his 
erstwhile colleague, the University of Chicago religion professor Wendy 
Doniger. In the spring of 2016, he publicly advocated for graduate students at 
JNU when they asserted their right to dissent against government policies and 
found themselves evicted from their hostels, prohibited from continuing their 
doctoral research programs, and, in some cases, thrown in jail without trial 
for their allegedly “anti-national” activities.

Back in the U.S., Pollock used a personal grant and award monies to institute a 
scholarship named after Ambedkar to sponsor a Dalit student from India and fund 
his or her graduate coursework in South Asian studies at Columbia—where, from 
1913 to 1916, Ambedkar himself had studied for an M.A. and Ph.D., the first 
Dalit to do so.

Pollock’s efforts to democratize the world of classical Indic scholarship, 
desacralize Sanskrit, and bring expertise on premodern India to bear on our 
understanding of modern India have generated a storm of controversy. After he 
spoke out in support of JNU’s beleaguered students, right-wing “culture 
warriors” of the BJP and their troll armies launched an aggressive campaign 
this spring to remove Pollock from the general editorship of the Murty 
Classical Library of India, published by Harvard University Press. To their 
consternation, however, the publisher of HUP and sponsor of the MCLI, Rohan 
Narayana Murty ruled out any plans to unseat him.


Apart from its powerful connotations of caste-based inequality, Sanskrit texts 
are also deeply, perhaps irremediably, patriarchal in their social ideology. 
Add to this the BJP’s insistence that Sanskrit symbolizes the greatness of 
Hindu civilization exclusively—thereby marginalizing the equally significant 
Islamic aspects of Indian history and culture. At the same time the government 
is promoting Sanskrit, it has been sidelining the study of Urdu and Persian, 
the modern and classical languages, respectively, of “Muslim” India.

New scholarship, much of it undertaken by colleagues, students, and research 
collaborators of Pollock, shows that there were rich linkages between Sanskrit 
and Persian literati, and that intellectual exchange and translation across 
these languages and their respective knowledge systems flourished at the Mughal 
Court as well as other Muslim kingdoms in medieval India.

Despite the serious criticisms leveled against it, from Ambedkar to Pollock, no 
one has suggested that Sanskrit should or could be abandoned entirely. We 
cannot write the history of any of the major world religions that arose on the 
Indian subcontinent—including Buddhism, Jainism, and Sikhism—without it. 
Sankrit’s texts, vocabularies, concepts, and theories permeate these systems 
and pervade the many other languages in which Buddhist, Jain, and Sikh thought 
come down to us: Pali, Prakrit, Tibetan, Braj Bhasha, and Punjabi, to name just 
a few. Not even Islam and Christianity in India are untouched by Sanskrit, 
through translation, dialogue, and syncretistic flows across cultures.

Many Sanskrit words—Om and Namaste, karma and avatar, guru and dharma, Brahmin 
and pundit—have been naturalized into English and are recognized around the 
world. Yoga and Ayurveda originated in hoary Sanskrit texts, but are now 
integrated into globalized understandings of “alternative” medicine and 
Previous Section

Since Modi came to power, the BJP government has made Sanskrit a key component 
of its goal to recast the secular Republic of India as the “Hindu Rashtra”—a 
nation for, of, and by Hindus alone, to the exclusion of Indians with other 
religious identities.

The BJP instituted June 21 (summer solstice) as “International Yoga Day,” and 
renamed Teachers’ Day “Guru Utsav”—literally “Festival of the Guru,” a name 
with strong Hindu connotations. Teachers and students are expected to celebrate 
this festival with a religious fervor unknown to previous generations of 

There are newly revised national policies on education, languages, and 
textbooks either being drafted or recently put on the table. At this point, it 
appears a major rightward shift in all these areas is unavoidable. Hindu 
nationalist agendas are being translated into concrete policy frameworks. 
Secular identities and social inclusion are bound to be reined in.

Most significantly, the government wants Sanskrit to be showcased as a language 
of teaching, learning, and research at the Indian Institutes of Technology 
(IITs), India’s apex institutions for engineering and technical disciplines. By 
encouraging Sanskrit studies at the IITs, Modi’s party wants to drive home the 
“modern,” “rational,” and “scientific” capacities of Sanskrit, thereby 
dislodging it from its received status as an artifact of the ancient world, and 
instead project it as the most appropriate and empowering idiom for 21st 
century India.

Modi’s minister of external affairs, Sushma Swaraj, who also likes to display 
her ability to “speak” in Sanskrit, portrayed the language as a wellspring that 
could solve almost any woe: “Knowledge in Sanskrit will go a long way in 
finding solutions to the contemporary problems like global warming, 
unsustainable consumption, civilizational clash, poverty, and terrorism.”

The current government, through its Department of Higher Education and Ministry 
of Human Resource Development, which houses the crucial Departments of School 
Education and Literacy, has sought to re-introduce and emphasize the study of 
Sanskrit at all levels of education, from primary school through college and 

Talking about science, technology, and mathematics in the context of 
traditional Sanskrit knowledge is an important part of what the government 
wants to convey about the “advanced” and “developed” character of Hindu 
civilization. A lot of money and effort is going into this particular kind of 
propaganda. But historical facts don’t bear out the assertions. 
Government-appointed scholars have claimed, preposterously, that stem cell 
research, organ transplants, and plastic surgery existed in Vedic times, and 
were discovered by Hindus long before Western science. The 102nd Indian Science 
Congress held in Mumbai in January 2015, which featured papers by Fields Medal 
winners and Nobel laureates, had a presentation claiming that Indians had built 
airplanes some 7,000 years before the Wright brothers.

Introducing “Yoga Day” and “Guru Day” to the offical national calendar, funding 
three new Sanskrit universities, and implementing Sanskrit language teaching at 
the IITs should all be seen as parts of BJP’s strategy to normalize 
majoritarian religious culture in civil and secular institutions.

Scholars—particularly Sanskrit philologists, linguists, and historians of 
pre-modern India—need to remain vigilant about changes at the level of 
textbooks, institutional policy, public discourse, and symbols of the state. 
The promotion and preservation of Sanskrit and its knowledge systems and texts 
is important, but its political meanings cannot be dissociated from the 
ideological agenda of a Hindu nationalist government.

Today Sanskrit has come out of the ivory tower and descended onto the cultural 
battlefield. It’s time that scholars and academics did the same.

ANANYA VAJPEYI is an associate fellow with the Centre for the Study of 
Developing Societies in New Delhi and a global ethics fellow with the Carnegie 
Council for Ethics in International Affairs in New York. She is the author of 
“Righteous Republic: The Political Foundations of Modern India” (Harvard 
University Press, 2012).

    Copyright © 2016 World Policy Institute

by Kanti Bajpai
(The Times of India, September 10, 2016)

In dealing with Kashmir, a good dose of empathy is vital. According to the 
Merriam-Webster Dictionary, empathy is “the feeling that you understand and 
share another person’s experiences and emotions”. A lot of Indians puzzled by 
the recent upsurge in the Kashmir Valley are asking themselves why Kashmiris 
are so agitated. Here is my empathy thought-experiment on the reasons.

The most fundamental reason Kashmiris are angry is that New Delhi and 
non-Kashmiris have not kept their word. Kashmir acceded to India and then 
negotiated a deal whereby the state would have considerable autonomy. This is 
enshrined in the Constitution in Article 370. The original spirit of accession 
and Article 370 was that Kashmir would have considerable autonomy, with the 
central government looking after only three areas – defence, foreign affairs 
and communications. The steady dilution of the article over time has caused 
Kashmiris to conclude that the central government is dishonest and no one 
outside Kashmir cares very much. When a party comes to power in New Delhi that 
talks of abolishing Article 370 altogether, is it any wonder that Kashmiris 
feel even more resentful?

A second reason for Kashmiri aloofness from the rest of India is historical. 
Kashmiris in the Valley have never been keen on the Indian plains and way of 
life there. Whether they are Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs or Buddhists, Valley 
Kashmiris have kept resolutely to themselves. Given the physical beauty of the 
Valley and the bracing climate, who can blame them? Who can blame them also for 
not identifying with the squalor that is the rest of India? We may love our 
existence in the plains, but surely we can understand that Kashmiris are not 
attracted to it. It is not just Kashmiris who are not attracted to it. Many in 
the northeastern states are not attracted to it either.

My thought-experiment suggests a third reason for Kashmiri anger. Most Valley 
Kashmiris are Muslim. Is it so hard for us to understand that they may not be 
ecstatic about being part of a Hindu-majority India, even if India has formally 
declared itself to be secular? Today, India is as far from being secular as it 
has ever been. Since May 2014, we have had a succession of violent outrages on 
India’s secular fabric. Kashmiris read the papers and tune into television 
every day like millions of other Indians. They can see the increasing 
intolerance in the country. There were outrages and attacks before this 
government came to power, but Kashmiris can see that these are far more 
widespread than before. Why should they want to be part of an increasingly 
intolerant, illiberal India?

Finally, Kashmiris are boiling over in anger because they are frustrated about 
their political future. What are their choices? They have experienced what it 
is to be part of India. To be part of Pakistan, one of the most violent and 
ill-governed states in the world, would certainly be worse. An independent 
Kashmir is what many Kashmiris crave. But what are the prospects of true 
independence, as a landlocked country between China, India and Pakistan? Almost 
zero. Which power will tolerate a truly independent Kashmir even if it is a 
member of the United Nations? Deep in their hearts, Kashmiris know that no 
power will accept the state’s independence, and this is why they are so 

Can anything be done in Kashmir beyond riot control? New Delhi must reassure 
the state that Article 370 will be honoured. Kashmiris of the Valley must in 
turn reassure the other parts of the state that their hopes and fears will be 
addressed. This will not guarantee that Kashmiris will love India or that Jammu 
and Ladakh will love Srinagar. However, with the change on Article 370, 
violence should abate. In time, Kashmiris will identify better with the rest of 
India and shun the militants. And in this situation Pakistan may be persuaded 
to worry more about its own failings rather than the failings of India. The 
government’s statement that there has to be a solution within the framework of 
the Constitution is correct. Article 370 is a constitutional provision. Let’s 
honour it and begin the healing.

======================================== 6 Sept 2016

A story of surviving India as a woman, and how things are changing, slowly but 

Thank you Mahesh Sharma for reminding me that it is up to us foreign girls to 
dress modestly rather than for desi boys to behave appropriately or for the 
police to be actively part of ensuring everyone’s safety in India.

There is nothing new, however, in the tourism minister suggesting handing out 
welcome kits telling women not to wear skirts or go out at night. It eerily 
reminded me of the guidelines given to me over 25 years ago before I first came 
to India.
My first taste of India

Rewind to 1990 in Montreal. I sat through a pre-orientation for a Summer Study 
Abroad in India programme. We were provided tips on appropriate behaviour, 
dress, health and safety. Some of these suggestions were remarkably similar to 
the tourism minister’s controversial comments.

Traveling all over India, we were struck by the contrast in what was acceptable 
in different contexts and parts of the country. We witnessed clear gender 
segregation and strict hierarchies, norms of behavior in rural Gujarat that 
contrasted completely with young couples merrily sauntering hand-in-hand on the 
streets of downtown Bangalore.

And those guidelines? Dressing modestly was no magic shield from being 
harassed. Instead, traveling in a group, sprinkled with our limited male 
members, did the trick.

It was a remarkable experience and an early lesson on how multiple realities 
and rules coexist – particularly in matters of gender relations.
Introduction to eveteasing

Fast forward to 1995, I returned, as a student in Delhi. This time, I was on my 
own. No orientation, no guides, no group. I lived as a paying guest with a 
family for a year.

From the first week, I navigated Delhi Transport Corporation buses and was 
immediately acquainted with the real meaning of the innocuous sounding phrase 
eveteasing. On the buses, it meant various body parts rubbed and hands grabbed 
private places they had no right to.

Did what I wore make a difference? Only slightly. A simple salwar kurta did not 
prevent unwanted attention. I was young, blue-eyed, fair and, therefore, fair 

And then the family I was living with shared a story.

A story of how the matriarch mashi was driving past a bus stop near IIT Gate 
and saw a young woman being taunted by a young man on a bicycle. The girl kept 
her eyes downcast, shrinking into herself. The boy grew more emboldened. Until, 
mashi intervened.

She leapt out of her car, yanked the boy off his bike, grabbed her chappal and 
started hitting him on the head. “How dare you abuse this girl? Have you no 
shame? No mother? No sister?” Scared witless, the boy ran off.

But the story did not end here.

Mashi then turned to the girl. “Why did you let him get away with misbehaving? 
If he does this to you today, what more will he try in future?”

The girl in question was not a foreigner. It had nothing to do with her eye, 
skin or hair colour. Only her gender.

The story empowered me to shed my polite Canadian demeanour and fight back. 
Practising my rudimentary Hindi, I embarrassed the perpetrators by shaming them 
loudly, shoving away their groping fingers.

Simplistic notions of not wearing a skirt or going out alone at night were not 
enough to survive Delhi. What I had to learn was to behave boldly if required. 
To expect harassment and be prepared for battle.

It worked. And as I accepted this new reality, I began to see a social 
revolution around me.

Urban India was changing. Night clubs pulsed till the wee hours. Ad campaigns 
pushed the boundaries of censorship. Couples lived together before marriage.

And the hypocrisy that sometimes lay beneath conservative veneers was revealed.

That elderly tauji who demands you behave modestly, giving due respect to his 
stature? He had a long-term mistress with two daughters.

The India I knew on the inside was not the India people perceived on the 
Adopting India

For more than a decade, I’ve been fortunate to call India my adopted home.

And I found it ironic when I was asked to give advice for a Study Abroad in 
India programme.

How do I translate my years here to guide young women coming to India for the 
first time?

How do I encourage them to find a delicate balance between being true to 
themselves and open to new experiences and, yet, being sensitive to the 
different environments they will encounter? Knowing that any step they take to 
reduce unwanted attention simply may not make a difference.

How do I alert them to the shifting sands of acceptability based on context, 
time of day, location, company and more?

How do I make them acknowledge that India is not alone in its male chauvinistic 
notions and its inability to keep the vulnerable safe, that sexual harassment 
is unfortunately universal?

Today, I have age on my side. I have grown from being a young didi to a mature 
aunty, my hair spiked with silver. In Mumbai, I can wear a dress, go out at 
night and, chances are, I will be fine.

Yet, I look back on those guidelines I was given in 1990 and wonder how much 
has really changed.

And isn’t there another story in that?

by Mani Shankar Aiyar
( - 7 September 2016

Rarely has a state government been castigated more severely than Raman Singh's 
in Chhattisgarh in the 2011 Supreme Court judgement in Nandini Sunder & Otrs. 
v/s State of Chhattisgarh (WP-205/2007). 

Utterly shocked at Salwa Judum, an "armed civilian vigilante group" given 
"impunity" by the state government, having "burned and emptied" 650 tribal 
villages, displaced 35,000 fellow-tribals, and resorted to "mass killings" and 
"rape", the Supreme Court rejected the Chhattisgarh government's claim that "it 
has constitutional sanction to perpetrate, indefinitely, a regime of gross 
violation of human rights in a manner, and by adopting the same modes, as done 
by Maoist/Naxalite extremists." It also deplored the state's claim of "the 
right to perpetuate the state's violence against anyone, much less its own 
citizens, unchecked by law".

The judges declared themselves "aghast at the blindness to constitutional 
limitations of the State of Chhattisgarh", adding "the primordial value is that 
it is the responsibility of every organ of the State to function within the 
four corners of constitutional responsibility. That is the ultimate rule of 
law." Chhattisgarh's arguments before the court's two-judge bench, they said, 
would "seriously undermine constitutional values" and "may cause grievous harm 
to national interests."  

Describing the Chhattisgarh government's "muscular and violent statecraft" as 
"bleak and miasmic", the court deplored Raman Singh's resort to "the iron 
fist". It amounted, they said, to establishing a social order "in which any 
person is treated as suspect" and "anyone speaking for human rights is deemed 
as suspect". It warned that when "order comes with the price of dehumanization, 
of manifest injustices of all forms perpetrated against the weak, the poor and 
the deprived, people revolt."  All this, pronounced the court, points to the 
"yawning gap between the promise of principled exercise of power in a 
constitutional democracy and the reality of the situation in Chhattisgarh."     

One would have thought such strictures from the highest judicial authority 
would have shamed any self-respecting Chief Minister into circumspection, but 
Raman Singh clearly has the hide of a rhinoceros. He, in cohorts with Rajnath 
Singh, has determined on circumventing the substance of the court's finding by 
replacing Salwa Judum with a "Bastariya Battalion". Home Ministry officials 
briefing journalists on background (see Rahul Tripathi, Economic Times, and 
Deeptiman Tiwary, Indian Express) have confirmed that the battalion will be 
raised from precisely the same tribal communities that were sourced by the 
state government for Salwa Judum. Thus has the Supreme Court's observation been 
given the go-by: "The young," the court had said, "have literally become cannon 
fodder in the killing fields of Dantewada and other districts of Chhattisgarh". 
The Bastariya Battalion is to be deployed in the Naxal-infested districts of 
Narayanpur, Bijapur, Sukhna and Dantewada. As with Salwa Jadum, tribal 
casualties are likely to be much higher proportionately than other CRPF 
casualties because they are likely to be deployed, as the Salwa Judum was, on 
the frontlines since the Home Ministry briefing said tribals "are better suited 
to fight in the region".

This is an absurd argument. For whereas there are strict physical parameters 
relating to height, chest and weight for regular CRPF recruits, all these 
parameters have been relaxed for Bastariya Battalion tribal recruits. These 
tribals are bound to be much less physically capable for the tasks that will be 
imposed on them than the battle-hardened veterans of the CRPF. What the 
relaxation of norms amounts to is what the Supreme Court described in the Salwa 
Judum case as "a cynical, and indeed inhuman attitude, that places little or no 
value on the lives of such youngsters". Moreover, the families of these 
Bastariya recruits are as liable to be targeted by the Naxals as was the case 
with Salwa Judum - yet another concern expressed by the Supreme Court.

Technically, the Raman Singh government might argue that this is not a 
"volunteer" force as was Salwa Judum but regular recruitment to the CRPF. Yet, 
by adding a Bastariya battalion to the over one hundred battalions already 
deployed in the area - and that too for decades - is the core of the problem 
being addressed?

The Supreme Court had underlined that 23 per cent of India's iron ore was 
located in Dandakaranya besides abundant coal resources. The exploitation of 
these natural resources constitutes the "development paradigm" for the region. 
The Supreme Court had quoted extensively from the Expert Committee report of 
2008, commissioned by the Planning Commission, which concluded that this 
development paradigm depends "largely on the plunder and loot of natural 
resources", involving "gross and inhuman suffering of the displaced and 
dispossessed", which had led to "countless millions having been condemned to 
lives of great misery and helplessness."

The Supreme Court backed up these charges with quotes from two well-known 
economists, Ajay K. Mehra and Amit Bhaduri. Mehra was cited as ruing that "the 
resultant miseries of the development dichotomy" that the judges described as 
the "deliberate infliction of misery on large sections of the population" have 
made them "vulnerable to calls for revolutionary politics". Bhaduri is harsher: 
what Mehra calls "the sense of disempowerment wrought by a false development 
paradigm without a human face", Bhaduri calls "developmental terrorism". He 
writes, "guns for the youngsters among the poor, so that they keep fighting 
among themselves, seems to be the new mantra from the mandarins of security."

Unable to find their own words to fully express their feelings at these 
terrible revelations, the judges of the Supreme Court resorted to Joseph 
Conrad's famous novel, The Heart of Darkness, where at the end, the principal 
sinner in the gory ivory trade in the Congo dies exclaiming, "the horror, the 
horror." So is it in all of Dandakaranaya: "The Horror, The Horror"!  

The 2008 Expert Committee had talked of the "corrupt practices of a 
rent-seeking bureaucracy and rapacious exploitation by the contractors, 
middlemen, traders and the greedy sectors of the larger society." Mohan 
Guruswamy of the Centre for Policy Alternatives, in his monograph, The Heart of 
Our Darkness, which also drew from Joseph Conrad, puts it vividly: "In the vast 
Central Indian Highlands, the occasional visit of an official invariably means 
extraction by coercion of what little poor people have. It doesn't just end 
with a chicken or a goat or a bottle of mahua, it often includes all these and 
the modesties of the womenfolk." He cites a Citigroup report that says 40 
percent of all land acquired for "development" is of the tribals who constitute 
just over 8 per cent of our population, in consequence of which, says 
Citigroup, "the Naxalite movement had local support". However, he does not cite 
the Twelfth Plan papers that confess to 55 percent of the 65 million displaced 
and dispossessed belonging to the tribal communities. Guruswamy points to 
bauxite mining that is expected to "displace over one lakh tribals while 
creating jobs for a mere 400". He calls attention to the Mahanadi Coalfields 
case where Aftab Alam and Mohanty, JJ, of the Supreme Court held "blinkered" 
development policies responsible for "fuelling extreme discontent and giving 
rise to Naxalism and militancy". No wonder the Supreme Court in Salwa Judum 
squarely pointed to the "amoral political economy that the State endorses, and 
the resultant revolutionary politics that it necessarily spawns".

Is there then an answer? Yes, there is - and it was provided nearly 70 years 
ago by the great tribal leader Jaipal Singh Munda, Oxford Blue and President of 
his College Junior Combination Room, and captain of the Indian hockey team that 
won the gold at the 1928 Amsterdam Olympics, and who got into the ICS but 
resigned to devote himself to his people. He said in the Constituent Assembly: 
"You cannot teach democracy to the tribal people; you have to learn democratic 
ways from them."

The Provisions of The Panchayats (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act, 1996 
[PESA] ensures the protection and promotion of tribal rights through the 
devolution of true democracy to tribal habitats. Although this revolutionary 
legislation was passed unanimously by parliament all of two decades ago, state 
governments like Chhattisgarh's have been observing the Act mostly in the 
breach. The record of implementing the Act in letter and spirit has been 
dismal. If instead of raising "Bastariya battalions" to pit tribal against 
tribal in the colonial mode of "divide and rule", the governments at the centre 
and state capitals concerned were to concentrate on effectively devolving 
functions, finances and functionaries to elected tribal panchayats, Naxalism 
can be extinguished by providing to tribal panchayats the attractive 
alternative of well-funded autonomy to the depredations of Naxal tyranny.  

Obviously, this is not possible in the very heart of darkness where the state 
governments have forfeited any pretense of governance to the Maoists. But there 
are at least a hundred districts on the periphery of the Naxal heartland where 
making available directly to the tribal panchayats the thousands upon thousands 
of crore of development funds to which they are entitled will open to the 
tribal people a real alternative to Naxalism for elementary social and economic 
justice. Vice President Hamid Ansari has underlined that "governance is the 
weak link in our quest for prosperity and equity". PESA offers the substitute 
of local "self-government", as promised in the 73rd amendment to the 
Constitution, for the weak and corrupt governance by state bureaucracies now on 
offer. Guruswamy stresses that we must "distinguish Adivasi aspirations from 
Maoist intentions" but adds "the problem is that this is beyond the capability 
of the public administration apparatus." Of course it is, which is why 
full-scope Panchayati Raj empowerment for our tribals is the surest and 
swiftest way out of Naxal insurgency. 

(Mani Shankar Aiyar is former Congress MP, Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha.)

Written by Pratik Kanjilal
(The Indian Express - 11 Sepember 2016)

No matter what happens to the rail budget, the romance of the Indian Railways 
lives on in Kipling’s work.

Rudyard Kipling, indian railways, Rudyard Kipling trains, Kipling railways, 
Rudyard Kipling train stories, Rudyard Kipling indian railways, Rudyard Kipling 
books, Rudyard Kipling works, Rudyard Kipling india, jamalpur, Rudyard Kipling 
jamalpur, books, books news, lifestyle news, latest news, sunday eye, indian 
express The train has arrived: An archival image of the Viceregal party at the 
East Indian Railway Workshops in Jamalpur in December 1897.

The rail budget is in some danger of extinction this year, privatisation of the 
world’s biggest railroad system is being seriously considered in certain 
quarters and India appears to be preparing to leave behind over 150 years of 
the romance of the rails to embrace the hard-nosed futurism that the bullet 
train symbolises. Maybe it’s a done thing already, in the mind. If train 
passengers are ordering chicken salami pizza over the internet instead of the 
fabled railway chicken from the liveried bearer in the pantry car, something 
critical has changed.

The popular literature of the age of steam is being forgotten, too. Rudyard 
Kipling is enjoying a popular resurgence because of the success of the 3D 
Jungle Book movie, but for decades now, he has been useful only to academics, 
who dissect Mowgli and Kim in search of arrant colonialist ideas which their 
predecessors may have missed. His verse was written to memorialise the middle 
and lower orders of British society which powered the colonial project, which 
is extinct. And his journalistic work, like Among the Railway Folk, is 

In 1887, Kipling quit the Civil and Military Gazette of Lahore to join the 
Pioneer, its sister publication in Allahabad (a century later, it helped to 
popularise the paper when it was revived by Vinod Mehta). His duties included a 
daunting responsibility. The author of Plain Tales From the Hills was to be to 
Anglo India what Boz had been to London, contributing sketches of the life of 
the community. Kipling took to the rails, starting his journey in the vast loco 
sheds of Jamalpur, the town near Munger where the sinews of the East India 
Railway were built. It is on the Sahibganj Loop, which prestigious trains no 
longer use. But it was then on the route, which is still called the ‘Main Line’ 
of the Indian Railways, running from Old Delhi to Howrah.

“They (railwaymen) have towns of their own at Toondla and Assensole; a 
sun-dried sanitarium at Bandikui; and Howrah, Ajmir, Allahabad, Lahore, and 
Pindi know their colonies. But Jamalpur is unadulteratedly ‘Railway,’ and he 
who has nothing to do with the EI (East Indian) Railway in some shape or 
another feels a stranger and an interloper,” wrote Kipling. He started his 
journey on Jamalpur’s Steam Street (this naming convention continues in 
industry: data storage leader Seagate used to be located on a California street 
named Disk Drive). It led to 40-50 acres of “shops” — workshops which could 
hold 25 locomotives at a time, where 3,500 men, English, Anglo Indian and 
“native”, worked under supervisors from Manchester and Clydeside. Jamalpur was 
“a sort of Crewe of Eastern India, where men make locomotives and control many 
hundreds of miles of lines.” Kipling’s journey continued down to Kolkata, which 
he explored by night in the company of a European police party from 22 Lalbazar 
Street (No 18 is now headquarters of the Kolkata Police), and his ethnological 
findings enliven a very adventurous two-part essay titled ‘City of Dreadful 
Night’. These sketches appeared in the Pioneer through 1888 and later featured 
in several collections of Kipling’s work. The two most popular books were City 
of Dreadful Night and Among the Railway Folk, a very slim volume with three 
sketches of Jamalpur, exploring the personal and professional lives of 
railwaymen. Neither seems to be in print in India, but both are available from 
various collections online. The versions in Project Gutenberg and at the 
University of Adelaide are well proofed, and extensive background notes are 
available online from the Kipling Society in the UK. They’re worth looking at, 
since both India and its railways were quite different at the time.

Jamalpur was a neat little town where everyone lunched between 11 and 12 
o’clock, had neat little gardens and a tendency to call clubs “institutes” 
(Kolkata still has its Dalhousie Institute, an excellent watering hole). They 
lived on the assurance that after retiring from a job paying Rs 370 (for a 
train driver) to Rs 400 (station master) per month, one could expect one’s son 
to be apprenticed for the princely sum of Rs 20. The only hardship faced by the 
200 Europeans at the station was a paucity of beef, since the local raja was a 
gau rakshak.

That era, when Anglo Indian train drivers were elite and surpassed only by 
river pilots, is long past. Now, the railways are about to lose the last sign 
of a service held in esteem, a separate budget. But a few threads of continuity 
remain. The gau rakshak is still a high-profile citizen, though he has acquired 
an appetite for cinematic and puritanical violence in the meantime. And as in 
Jamalpur in 1887, the Babu still keeps the trains running by doing battle with 
a sea of ledgers, “silent as the Sphinx and busy as a bee”.

(The Daily Star - September 12, 2016)
Women Empowerment in Bangladesh of the Forest, Tree & Grassroots
[Women Empowerment in Bangladesh of the Forest, Tree & Grassroots ]
Reviewed by Dr. Imtiaz A. Hussain

State University of New York Press, 2015, pp.379

The issue of emancipating women raises obvious questions: Is there a final 
point; indeed, is the starting point similar across countries; can diverse 
groups within any country reap benefit simultaneously? Hillary Clinton claimed 
her 2008 presidential campaign had “cracked the [gender] glass-ceiling,” then, 
in 2016, how “the sky [had become] the limit” for women. Is the sky also the 
gender limit in Bangladesh, where a woman has been prime minister, leader of 
the opposition party, current speaker, and recent foreign minister, while also 
scaling Everest and making ready-made garments (RMGs) upon which the country 
has thrived for a quarter century?          

Manzurul Mannan's incisive and enriching book posits a critical picture. His 
“ethnographic” analysis of the Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee (BRAC), 
inquires if the purpose  of “the largest transnational NGO [non-governmental 
organization] in the world,” was “benign” (to “empower poor women in social 
transformation”), or “manipulative” (to create a “poverty enterprise” out of 
“developmental pursuits,” p. 35). Since his measurement yardstick, “global 
policy language” (GPL), is the BRAC/NGO instrument for “managing and exploiting 
the 'third world',” Mannan's conclusion finds the “manipulative” prevails: “the 
disempowerment of the poor sustains the development process,” and that “poverty 
in Bangladesh has not decreased,” though “the nature of poverty itself” has 
changed (295).

Behind a theoretically sound, empirically rich, and methodologically compact 
research lies a Bangladesh just entering a middle-income bracket, doubtlessly 
with women paving the way. Is this a paradox or interpretive problem?

Mannan's GPL triptych identifies the “West”/“North” (281), where “the culture 
and dynamic of the development organizations originates” (43), the 
“South”/“rural”/“traditional Bengali culture” (129), where development means 
“interventions.” His first three chapters elaborate the corresponding tensions: 
(a) “western” equality confronting Bangalee “hierarchy,” (b) “development 
anthropology” against “anthropology of development,” and (c) past values 
battling present materialism.

Chapter 4 challenges BRAC's organization claim, Chapter 5, coaxes a “hybrid 
culture” from that triptych, and Chapter 6 pits researchers (such as Mannan is 
in the book) against NGO managers (what he was, no less at BRAC, beforehand). 
They highlight two of Mannan's literary contributions: evaluating NGO 
engagements “through the lens of anthropology of organization”; and coining 
“development-scape” to rival the extant “ethno-scape,” “techno-scape,” 
“finance-scape,” “media-scape,” and “ideo-scape” approaches (10-1).     

The next three chapters elaborate how women village organizations challenge 
male-dominated “samaj” (Chapter 7), moral versus immoral microcredit 
interpretations (8), and the NGO-religion incompatibility (9). Logically 
concluding a “hybrid culture” is unstable (ch. 10), Mannan's women-based 
construction of poverty in a society described as male-dominated is 
eye-opening. His book finds local religious and political leaders reacting to a 
new village dynamic called women empowerment, caused single-mindedly by 
foreigners, as if to take rural womenfolk away.

Far more interesting to students, scholars, and conscious citizens is Mannan 
juxtaposing BRAC's shifting “organizational” imperatives (p. 151), from 
developmental (between 1972 and 1990), to institutional (1990 to 2000), to 
market (2000-the present), against the segmented Bangladeshi NGO experience (p. 
69), from gestation (1971-5), through consolidation (1975-90), towards 
globalization (1990-present). Bouncing off two other sequences might have 
helped: (a) Bangladesh's shift from war, socialism, and famine until 1975, to 
military rule, Islamization and privatization by 1990, then democracy and 
neo-liberalism thereafter; and (b) globally, the shift from war and economic 
stresses during the Cold War years of the 1970s and 1980s, followed by the 
1990s neoliberal emergence and regionalization, before a conjunction of Islamic 
restlessness and terror-infusion from 9/11 took over.

When our poverty was at rock-bottom in the 1970s, the “west” and not any 
socialist country, save India, came to our rescue. Our women were far freer 
than he found them in his research, so free that they engaged in the liberation 
war alongside males without any “moqtab” intervention; and the absence of 
today's Islamic constraint means Mannan's “traditional Bengali culture” carried 
far softer tones than his triptych admits.

Softer interpretive hues riddle anthropological studies of social 
transformation. For example, John Steinbeck's “Grapes of Wrath” also targets 
organization-based exploitation, like Mannan's BRAC analysis. Though fictional, 
it expounds the realities of Oklahoma's Dust Bowl family-farms being converted 
into California's seasonal factory-farm workers in the 1930s. Even when not 
analyzing modernizing organizations, other “genuine anthropologists” (author's 
term, p. 164), also reduce tensions to merely the tradition-modernity 
transformation. Laurence Wylie's “Village in the Vaucluse,” as well as “Behind 
Mud Walls” in Karimpur, North India, by Charlotte and William Wiser, show how 
20th Century social transformation is inescapable but “benign” when seen over 
the long-haul (30-odd years).

If he was not so alarmed at the BRAC/NGO-induced poverty, Mannan might have 
noticed how RMG wages and migrant remittances were also changing the village 
landscape softly, as in Vaucluse and Karimpur.

Women emigrants have not faced similarly hardened “moqtab” and “samaj” 
reactions upon returning. In evaluating a concurrent International Labour 
Organisation report, Arafat Ara acknowledges how these women need “moral 
rehabilitation” and “socio-economic support” (Financial Express, August 28, 
2016, p. 8), they face no qualms “to best utilize their remittance through 
savings and investment,” that is, to deepen the cash nexus of a modern society 
in barter-based traditional society. “They come back with skills and 
experience,” the report continues, “which they can then utilize in the domestic 
employment market.” Writing on the same issue Hasnat Abdul Hye noted how the 
more positive aspect of BRAC-type engagements helped the country to take “the 
baby steps of the first generation of women entrepreneurs” (p. 4). Since these 
are “now a reality,” he adds, “both in the rural and urban areas,” women still 
stand on their two feet, vindicated, not vanquished, from crossing many 
fundamental transformational thresholds. Their “acquired valuable experience,” 
he says, and “confidence,” overcame the “many obstacles and disincentives that 
impede their progress”.

Development is not just about adding up the “parts” that make the “whole,” 
meaning taking anthropological, economic, political, social, and all other 
inputs and interpretations together, but also ensuring the “whole,” that is the 
big-picture, portrays more than the sum of its “parts.” Mannan's novel 
anthropological approach fulfilled the former with panache, but to conquer the 
latter requires defusing his filters. True to his profession, Mannan digs deep; 
but the deeper he goes, the more the shape, size, and future of the “forest” of 
Bangladesh development gets obscured by “grassroots” intricacies: we learn of 
the “scape”-based nitty-gritty details, that is, the “trees” in this parlance, 
but cannot, and should not, subordinate the big-picture to them.

The reviewer is Professor & Head, Global Studies & Governance, Independent 
University of Bangladesh.

======================================== - September 17 2016

On Yamal Peninsula, the administration is planning to urgently slaughter 
250,000 of the currently 700,000 reindeer living on the peninsula. At the same 
time, the Russian Ministry of Natural Resources proposes to fast-track the 
development of new gas fields in the Arctic. Between June and September, a 
subsidiary of Russia’s second gas producer "NOVATEK" has received 4 licenses 
for areas located on the Yamal and Gydan Peninsulas in the region. Many herders 
may lose their means of existence.

After the anthrax outbreak on the Yamal Peninsula this summer, which claimed 
the life of one boy and 1,200 deer and caused persecution of the group 
Greenpeace, which was visiting the Yamal Peninsula at the time, the spiral 
events surrounding the fate of the Yamal reindeer herding has taken an 
unexpected turn for the worse.
On August 23, an article quoted Federal agencies blaming the abnormal heat 
which melted the old animal graveyard, the lack of veterinary services and the 
excessive number of reindeer for the epidemic.
On September 12 another article appeared, entitled "After the anthrax Yamal 
natives are ready to slaughter deer for the sake of apartments". It says, that 
“in Yamal-Nenets Autonomous Area, complex negotiations about the slaughter of 
250,000 deer are underway and overgrazing may be an indirect cause of the 
spread of the infection. All sides proposed options how to make reindeer-owners 
give up a large portion of their livestock for slaughter. Early last week, 
Governor Dmitry Kobylkin announced the intention of developing a programme to 
reduce the number of deer by 250,000 within one month.”, the news agency URA.RU 
writes. The Vice President of the Association of Indigenous Peoples 
‘Yamal-potomkam’ (‘Yamal for our descendants’), Sergei Khudi proposes to 
increase the purchase price of the reindeer meat, but the money should not be 
given to the herders, instead they should be "transferred to a bank for 
mortgage pay-off." "My family are reindeer herders and those with whom I 
communicated, are not opposed to such an initiative. If the price is increased, 
I would go for the proposed reduction of livestock", Sergei Khudi said to 

Meanwhile, private reindeer herders and owners know nothing about these plans. 
"According to the order of the Governor, the measure has to be executed before 
the end of September, and if you start to gather the herders now, it will be 
impossible to complete in time, because it is quite difficult to gather the 
private herders", says private herder, Eiko Serotetto. To ease interaction 
between officials and nomadic herders, he suggested to appoint a ‘universal 
herder’, who will, on behalf of the herders, communicate with representatives 
of the city administration and the regional government. Eiko Serotetto sent his 
proposal to the administration of the Yamal district. In the reply dated 2 
September, he is asked to come to the district centre Yar-Sale for discussions. 
The reindeer owner intends to visit the Yamal district within one month," 
URA.RU says.

The idea of paying off mortgages from subsidies for the mass slaughter is not 
supported by the President of the Association of Indigenous Minority Peoples of 
the North and the far East (RAIPON), Grigory Ledkov. The State Duma Deputy is 
convinced that "the nomads need appropriate conditions where they live and all 
the herders have to be integrated into the region’s economy", quotes.

"In connection with these plans I am very worried about the fate of the private 
herders, who still perpetuate the tradition of family and clan based reindeer 
herding. It is not clear how many of the reindeer herders may have mortgages. 
Most of them have small herds of about a hundred deer. They have no property, 
that would qualify them for a mortgage. The deer of the private herders are 
neither counted nor insured. Only the deer of the big collective farms 
(Sovkhoz) and those owned by wealthy urban Nenets close to the administration.“ 
anthropologist Olga Murashko says . Many of them had lost much of their 
reindeer during the icing-over of 2013-14, which was caused by the abnormally 
warm winter. About 70,000 deer perished in the famine, of which about 45,000 
belonged to private traditional herders. This year, according to official data, 
the traditional herders, lost 1200 deer; an unknown number is still 
‘quarantined’, she continues.
"In the whole of the Yamal Nenets Area, there are 3000 private reindeer herding 
households, keeping 63.1% of the total deer population. Only 36,9% of the deer 
are in the property of agricultural enterprises. Yamal and Tazovski districts 
in the Arctic have the highest proportion of deer in private ownership: 53.3% 
and 81.1%, respectively".

Also troubling is another news that appeared these days, entitled "The Ministry 
of Natural Resources proposes to encourage the extraction and processing of gas 
in the Arctic".  The Minister of Natural Resources and Ecology of Russia, 
Sergey Donskoy said at a meeting of Russian the President with the government: 
"The Resource potential of the Arctic regarding natural gas (up to 20 billion 
cubic meters of proven reserves) with a unique degree of concentration requires 
special measures to encourage their fast development. Otherwise, Russia may not 
be able to use this potential according to its own interests." The Ministry is 
actively pursuing the licensing of areas on the Yamal Peninsula. Accordingly, 
between June and September, NOVATEK-Yurharovneftegaz", a subsidiary of Russia’s 
second gas producer "NOVATEK", has received licenses over hydrocarbon deposits 
in the region, including the Syadorsky area in the Yamal-Nenets Autonomous 
Area, the Zapadno-Solpatinski, Severo-Tanamski and Nyavuyakhski areas on Gydan 
peninsula, RIA Novosti reports.

"The coincidence of those news on the plans to urgently reduce the reindeer 
population in Yamal by over one third with the rapid issuing of licenses for 
gas extraction in the same region causes the greatest concern over the fate of 
the reindeer herders, with continue their traditional family-based nomadic way 
of life and which have managed to defend this way of life throughout the Soviet 
era and who continue to defend it", Olga Murashko says . “This it means that a 
huge number of nomads on Yamal and Gydan peninsulas will lose their means of 
existence and opportunities to maintain their traditional way of life. 
Additionally, it is clear that within the short time frame given, the 
indigenous reindeer herders cannot be properly consulted on the 
administration’s plans to annihilate a large number of reindeer”.

Patrizia Guarnieri. Italian Psychology and Jewish Emigration under Fascism: 
From Florence to Jerusalem and New York. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2016. xv 
+ 275 pp. $100.00 (cloth), ISBN 978-1-137-30655-5.

Reviewed by Stefano Luconi (University of Florence)
Published on H-Italy (September, 2016)
Commissioned by Matteo Pretelli

This fascinating and carefully researched volume is a revised and much enlarged 
version of a previous Italian-language monograph by Patrizia Guarnieri about 
the rise and the troubled survival of the Institute of Psychology at Florence’s 
Istituto di Studi Superiori Pratici e di Perfezionamento (the predecessor of 
the University of Florence) between 1903 and 1938.[1] In particular, the 
current book is a case study of the impact of fascism on Italian culture in the 
interwar years. Specifically, drawing upon an impressive amount of primary 
sources--which include coeval psychology journals and publications as well as 
manuscripts from private papers and archival repositories in Italy, the United 
States, England, and Israel--Guarnieri investigates how Benito Mussolini’s 
regime affected the field of psychology in Italy. To this purpose, she focuses 
on scholars who were active at the Institute of Psychology in Florence and 
analyzes how fascism antagonized and silenced most of them even before 
discharging and forcing into exile a few of these intellectuals, who were Jews, 
in the wake of the enforcement of its own 1938 anti-Semitic legislation.

These issues are aptly placed within the broader perspective of Italian 
psychologists’ struggle to establish their branch of knowledge into an academic 
discipline after the turn of the twentieth century. In this respect, Guarnieri 
masterly delves into the details of academic politics and the complex dynamics 
of the recruitment for university chairs as these two elements eventually made 
a leading contribution to shaping the theoretical foundations of psychology in 
Italy. She shows the pioneering role that Florence’s Institute of Psychology, 
created in 1903, and its first director, Francesco De Sarlo, played in the 
legitimization of psychology in Italy, thanks in part to the commitment of 
Pasquale Villari, a senator and former minister of education who was the dean 
of the Istituto di Studi Superiori Pratici e di Perfezionamento. She also 
examines the uncertain status of the discipline, which initially experienced 
some blurring of lines between psychology and experimental psychology and held 
a sort of middle ground between the schools of medicine and those of philosophy 
before its practitioners ended up with being affiliated with the latter when 
the first three positions of full professor were awarded in 1906.

Against this backdrop, the author highlights that the antiscientific bias of 
neo-idealistic philosophers added to fascist ideology and political reasons in 
order to marginalize psychology within Italy’s university system in the early 
1920s. De Sarlo was an opponent of dictator Mussolini. As fascist activists and 
fellow travelers gained influence within the University of Florence, he had to 
confine himself to teaching theoretical philosophy and to step down as director 
of the Institute of Psychology in 1923. He was replaced by his assistant, Enzo 
Bonaventura, who lacked clout to promote the discipline because he did not have 
tenure. De Sarlo’s nemesis in the Italian university system was Giovanni 
Gentile, Mussolini’s minister of education, who was instrumental in preventing 
the professor from teaching psychology. Nonetheless, Benedetto Croce, Gentile’s 
fellow neo-idealistic philosopher and a former minister of education himself 
but also a prominent antifascist, had come out against De Sarlo as early as 
1907, when he wrote in a private letter that he had “decided to give him no 
quarter and to write three, four, ten articles until he keeps quiet. I know I 
am right; and that De Sarlo, for the post he holds in Florence, has an 
influence and aspires to assume an authority, that may prove very damaging” (p. 
53). As a result, contrary to conventional scholarly wisdom, Guarnieri helps 
demonstrate that, although neo-idealism may have restrained its criticism of 
hard sciences, it turned out to be highly prejudicial toward human sciences and 
psychology was among its academic casualties.

Since Guarnieri’s preceding book has already disclosed, at least in part, this 
conclusion, the most original and engaging chapters of Italian Psychology and 
Jewish Emigration are those that reconstruct the plight of two Jewish 
psychologists who left Italy after the enactment of Mussolini’s anti-Semitic 
measures in 1938, their strategies for expatriation, and their career after the 
fall of the fascist regime. The anti-Jewish provisions caused the discharge of 
Bonaventura and the expulsion of promising young scholars such as Renata 
Calabresi, another pupil of De Sarlo’s who held an untenured teaching position 
at the University of Rome, from the Italian Academia. Their experiences are 
representative of two different trajectories for Italian Jewish intellectuals 
who sought sanctuary from fascist anti-Semitism in foreign countries. Both 
Bonaventura and Calabresi exploited their international connections in their 
professional field and resorted to organizations that assisted displaced 
scholars from their headquarters in London and New York City in order to move 
abroad. Bonaventura also relied on the Zionist network to emigrate to Palestine 
in 1939 with an appointment as professor of psychology at the Hebrew University 
in Jerusalem. In the same year, Calabresi arrived in the United States, where 
her brother had already resettled, thanks in part to the help of the 
antifascist circles in which her family was involved. A woman, she faced 
greater hardships than Bonaventura. She found a few temporary and low-paid jobs 
as instructor and researcher, but she managed to supplement her initially 
meager wages with a grant from the Emergency Committee in Aid to of Displaced 
Foreign Scholars before moving from educational to clinical psychology.

The collapse of the fascist regime resulted in the repeal of its anti-Semitic 
legislation and the reintegration of the Jewish academicians who had been 
“exonerated from service” (p. 116), according to the fascist bureaucratic 
jargon, namely fired on racial grounds. However, neither Bonaventura nor 
Calabresi seized this opportunity to return to Italy. Their reinstatement would 
have been rather troublesome because they had been untenured instructors before 
expatriation. Furthermore, Guarnieri suggests that, in the specific case of 
Bonaventura, lingering postwar anti-Semitism might have persuaded him to remain 
in Palestine and not to participate in a 1947 concorso (public competition) 
that awarded a chair in psychology at the University of Milan. In particular, 
the author points the finger at Father Agostino Gemelli, a pre-1943 outspoken 
fascist and anti-Semite who was a full professor of psychology and the 
president of the Milan-based Catholic University of the Sacred Heart. Guarnieri 
offers at least circumstantial evidence that, far from helping Bonaventura find 
a job abroad in 1939, as the prevailing interpretation goes,[2] Gemelli failed 
to facilitate Bonaventura’s expatriation and even maneuvered against him on the 
occasion of the 1947 concorso.

Overall, Bonaventura’s and Calabresi’s vicissitudes cast further light on the 
lot of both the exiles fleeing dictatorships and the Jews who had been the 
victims of fascist anti-Semitism. On the one hand, as the two scholars 
struggled to make a living in Italy in the wake of the racial laws, their 
experiences provide additional proofs that political and economic reasons for 
migration are usually intertwined and can be hardly separated.[3] On the other, 
they revealed the difficulties of the Italian university system to make amends 
for the prewar torts that its Jewish personnel had suffered.[4]

Specialists of Italian history might find some pages outlining the context of 
the main events--for instance, the passages about Gaetano Salvemini’s 
antifascist activities or the remarks about Zionism in Italy--a bit too 
didactic. Italian Psychology and Jewish Emigration under Fascism also lacks a 
proper conclusion and is not always reader-friendly because the narrative does 
not follow a chronological order. In addition, a study of such relevance and 
importance deserved better editing to eliminate several typos and to rephrase 
clumsy expressions that sometimes mar the text. Furthermore, a less 
astronomical cover price would have given this volume a larger readership than 
patrons of lavishly funded libraries. One can only hope to see this valuable 
and illuminating book in a cheaper paperback edition soon.


[1]. Patrizia Guarnieri, Senza cattedra: L’Istituto di Psicologia 
dell’Università di Firenze tra idealismo e fascismo (Florence: Firenze 
University Press, 2012).

[2]. See, e.g., Maria Bocci, Agostino Gemelli rettore e francescano: Chiesa, 
regime, democrazia (Brescia: Morcelliana, 2003), 517-18.

[3]. See, e.g., Mathias Czaika, The Political Economy of Refugee Migration and 
Foreign Aid (New York: Routledge, 2009), 14.

[4]. See, e.g., Roberto Finzi, “Da perseguitati a ‘usurpatori’: Per una storia 
della reintegrazione dei docenti ebrei nelle università italiane,” in Il 
ritorno alla vita: Vicende e diritti degli ebrei in Italia dopo la seconda 
guerra mondiale, ed. Michele Sarfatti (Florence: Giuntina 1998), 95–114. For 
the more general problems and delays in the restoration of Italian Jews’ 
violated rights, see Giovanna D’Amico, Quando l’eccezione diventa norma: La 
reintegrazione degli ebrei nell’Italia postfascista (Turin: Bollati 
Boringhieri, 2006).


South Asia Citizens Wire
Buzz for secularism, on the dangers of fundamentalism(s), on
matters of peace and democratisation in South
Asia. Newsletter of South Asia Citizens Web:

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