India: Women’s social and economic conditions, struggles for land and women’s resistance

Armed with traditional weapons, adivasi (tribal) women march in Lalgarh, West Bengal


From International Campaign against the War on People in India

Contemporary Anti-Displacement Struggles and Women’s Resistance

By Shoma Sen, Associate Professor, RTM Nagpur University

Women’s exclusion in the present model of development needs to be understood as inherent to a system that benefits from patriarchy. Seen as a reserve force of labour, women, excluded from economic activity are valued for their unrecognized role in social reproduction. The capitalist, patriarchal system that keeps the majority of women confined to domestic work and child rearing uses this as a way of keeping the wage rates low.

The limited participation of women in economic activity is also an extension of their traditional gender roles (nursing, teaching,or labour intensive jobs requiring patience and delicate skills) with wages based on gender discrimination. Largely part of the unorganized sector, deprived of the benefits of labour legislation, insecurity leads to sexual exploitation at the workplace. In the paradigm of globalization, these forms of exploitation, in export oriented industries, SEZs and service sector have greatly increased.

In spite of 63 years of so-called independence, women’s presence is negligible in political bodies and reservations for the same have been strongly resisted in a patriarchal political system. Though at the lower levels, reservations have made a limited entry possible, the success stories are more exceptions than the rule. Social institutions, thriving on feudal patriarchal notions are disapproving of women’s participation in production and laud her reproductive roles; violence against women at the familial and societal level is given social sanction and women are confined to a dependent life within the domestic space.

Therefore, women’s access to economic and political activity itself is a first step to their participation in decision making processes rather than the symbolic steps towards their “empowerment” that are seen in this system. Women’s resistance to this imperialist backed model of development, therefore, must be seen as their attempt to find space and voice in a system which has not only neglected their communities but even their gender within it. Continue reading

India: Libraries discovered to be instruments of revolution

[A persistent investigation appears to have revealed a suspicious library and suspicious readers.–Frontline ed.]

Hindustan Times,  November 24, 2010

‘Naxals used library to spread their ideology’

The banned Communist Party of India (Maoist), dubbed as the single largest threat to India’s internal security by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, had set up a base in the city to propagate their ideology and to connect with the youth. The Naxalite allegedly used a reading library situated in the  slums along the Jogeshwari-Vikhroli Link Road (JVLR) in the western suburbs for this purpose, a witness has told the police. The witness in his statement to the Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) has named Surya Devra Prabhakar, an alleged naxalite leader who was arrested by the ATS on January 19.

Prabhakar, a member of the politburo and one of the top most leaders of CPI (Maoists), was arrested from Kanjurmarg and he had been working in the city since 1991, trying to lure people towards the naxalite ideology, the witness has said.

Prabhakar had been a member of the organisation since 1978 and was a member of the Maharashtra State Committee of the CPI (Maoists). He allegedly controlled operations for Dahanu, Wada, Palghar and other rural areas and had, therefore, set up base in Mumbai.

“He used to preach his ideology before a group of people at the library. Prerna Wachnalay, situated on JVLR helped him get an audience,” said the witness in his statement.

According to the witness, whose testimony is part of the charge sheet filed by the ATS against Prabhakar in August, Prabhakar used to regularly visit the slums at JVLR and had developed friendship with locals by offering them help by paying their bills and performing their small chores. Prabhakar spoke of the naxalite struggle and activities of the erstwhile People’s War Group (PWG), the witness has stated in his statement.

When the Hindustan Times visited the library on Monday, it was found locked and locals there refused to say anything about it. “It opens at 7pm and people come here to read books,” a man in mid-20s, who was sitting nearby said. He refused to talk further. Continue reading

Maharastra, India: 3000 villagers protest against nuclear power project

Times of India, October 29, 2010

AREVA Nuclear Power Project in India: 3000 Villagers Court Arrest

MADBAN VILLAGE (RATNAGIRI): This tiny village took on the might of the state on Friday and by the evening, victory clearly belonged to it. Despite preventive arrests, prohibitory orders and road blocks more than 3000 villagers’ courted arrests, as part of their ‘Jail Bharo’ agitation. By 6 pm, the police requested the leaders of the agitation to stop the flow of people.

The agitation was primarily in response to the government claim that the villagers were quiet and only a handful of outsiders were leading the agitation against the proposed 10000 MW nuclear power project in the village.

The villagers were angry because the government was refusing to tell them the truth and releasing information in bits and pieces. “After all, we are the ones to be directly affected,” said Sanjay Gavankar, a villager, who runs a cashew nut factory.

The villagers had steadfastly refused compensation and even lit bon fires of the revised compensation package announced by the state revenue minister Narayan Rane, whose son Nilesh, is the MP from Sindhudurg-Ratnagiri.

Continue reading

India: Ensuring the right to education in the ‘Adivasi Corridor’


Adivasi students in West Bengal protest army occupation of schools

Gladson Dungdung (Guest Contributor, Sanhati)


The Indian Government and the Indian Media are repeatedly telling us that a ninety-two thousand square kilometres geographical area covering 170 districts in 9 states of India is out of control of the Indian State. The vicinity is full of the natural resources including a variety of minerals, forests and water sources. The territory is ruled by the Maoists therefore the Government has branded it as the ‘Red Corridor’.

Actually, the area is highly Adivasi dominated and therefore should be called the ‘Adivasi Corridor’. And of course, it is their homeland. The Indian State has been carrying on a major offensive in the Red Corridor since October 2009 to clear the land. In the latest development, the British Company “Execution Nobel limited” has estimated a business of $80 billion if the area is liberated from the Maoists. Consequently, the government is determined to cleanse the Maoists by 2013 by taking all required steps.

Meanwhile, on 1 April, 2010 (the day is observed as a “Fools Day” and many attempt to fool others), the Prime Minister of India, Dr. Manmohan Singh appeared on the television channels addressing the Nation on the occasion of enforcing the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act 2009 and declared the day as a historic day for Indians. Perhaps, hardly anyone from the Red Corridor saw him in the television channels, as survival and protection are the biggest questions for them rather than hearing about their rights to education coming out of the auspicious mouth of the Prime Minister. Continue reading

CPI(Maoist) calls bandh in six states to protest Indian repression in Kashmir

[Wikipedia:  “Bandh (Hindi:  बंद), originally a Hindi word meaning ‘closed’, is a form of protest used by political activists in some countries like India and Nepal. During a Bandh, a political party or a community declares a general strike.  Often Bandh means that the community or political party declaring a Bandh expect the general public to stay in their homes and strike work. The main affected are shopkeepers who are expected to keep their shops closed and the public transport operators of buses and cabs are supposed to stay off the road and not carry any passengers. There have been instances of large metro cities coming to a standstill. Bandhs are powerful means for civil disobedience. Because of the huge impact that a Bandh has on the local community, it is much feared as a tool of protest.“]

Maoists support Kashmiris, call strike

Times of India,  September 27, 2010

NEW DELHI: In an attempt to show solidarity with protesting Kashmiris who have been demanding “azadi” and attacking security forces, Maoists have called for a 24-hour bandh in six states on September 30.

In a statement dated September 23, the CPI (Maoist) said September 30 will be observed as a bandh in six states — Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Chhattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh and Orissa — and also in Gadchiroli, Gondia and Chandrapur districts of Maharashtra and Balaghat in Madhya Pradesh in protest “against the killing of Kashmiri youth by security forces since June 11”.

The statement was issued by Abhay, spokesperson of the central committee, and Anand, central regional bureau spokesperson. The party said there would be a “closedown of all rail and road traffic, banks, government and private offices, industries, educational institutions and business establishments”. “We are excluding essential services like hospitals and other services from this bandh call,” the statement said.

The statement justified the stone-pelting in Kashmir and called it democratic. It has been a Maoist strategy to join forces with all manner of protests, particularly if they are directed against the state.

In their attempt to gain support from Kashmiris, the party demanded “immediate end to massacres by Indian armed forces in Kashmir, withdrawal of military and paramilitary forces, repeal of AFSPA, plebiscite for Kashmiris and release of all political prisoners”. Continue reading

Fact-Finding Report on the Anti-Displacement Movement in India

Villagers man checkpoint to keep out government and company officials at site of planned POSCO plant in Jagatsinghpur, Orissa.

Over the past three years, there have been a number of particularly significant victories by the anti-displacement movement in India:  In West Bengal at Nandigram (Dow Chemical), Singur (Tata Motors), Salboni (Jindal Steel); in a number of places in Jharkhand; and now the historic victory at Vedanta’s proposed bauxite mine at Niyamgiri, Orissa.

In the summer of 2008, US activist David Pugh travelled to five states in India to report on the anti-displacement movement, including the intense ongoing battles against US and South Korean owned POSCO, and against Tata Steel in Kalinga Nagar, both in Orissa. Below is the complete report on his fact finding trip.

by David Pugh

I recently spent three weeks gathering information about the anti-displacement movement in India. I traveled to India on this fact finding mission in my capacity as a member of the Initiative Committee of the International Campaign Against Forced Displacement that was launched in June 2008 by the International League of Peoples’ Struggle.

As a guest of Visthapan Virodhi Jan Vikas Andolan, I traveled across five states in central and eastern India visiting the sites of proposed industrial and mining projects, Special Economic Zones (SEZs) and real estate developments.  I spoke with hundreds of villagers who are threatened with displacement and with many dedicated activists who are helping to organize the people’s resistance.

The villagers I spoke to, tribals, dalits and members of “other backward castes,” told me that the lives of their families are at stake.  Rapacious industrial and mining enterprises, supported by the state and central governments, are trying to grab fertile agricultural land. When bribery doesn’t work, the industrialists and government officials have sent in the police and hired outside goons to terrorize the villagers into submission. Continue reading

Gautam Navlakha and Arundhati Roy: India’s War on People at Home

From MRzine

This forum, held in Mumbai on 2 June 2010, was sponsored by the Committee for Protection of Democratic Rights. Video by Satyen K. Bordoloi.  The text below is a brief partial transcript of the forum.

For the the first of 18 segments of the video see:

Gautam Navlakha: How many of us have dared raise fundamental issues about what the state has been doing since 1947, since the transfer of power?  There’s not a single year in the last 63 that we have had since the transfer of power when the state has not been engaged in a war in one or another part of this country.  Today . . . [we have] 235 districts — 122 districts in Jammu and Kashmir, 79 districts in the northeast, and 34 districts according to the government of India — where some form of armed conflict is going on.  In 235 districts out of 636, there is an armed conflict going on.  Does it matter to us?  No.  I think we are the biggest hypocrites. . . .

We talk about peace, we talk about non-violence, we talk about peaceful transformation, we’re against political violence and everything, but we don’t mean it.  I’m sorry we don’t mean it, because if that had been so, we would be out on the streets, we would be out on the streets protesting against . . . the wars that the state has launched against our people.  In every year that a war has been launched, we have been quiet, because we accept war. . . . Continue reading

Anuradha Ghandy: The Inspiring Life of a Maoist Leader

Remembering Anu on her Second Death Anniversary

On April 12, 2008 a beautiful life got suddenly extinguished. Anuradha Ghandy passed away at the young age of 54 due to the late detection of the killer disease, falciperum malaria. On that day, the Indian people, particularly its oppressed women, lost a blooming flower that spread its fragrance in many parts of the country. Two years is a long time, yet the fragrance lingers on. The sweet scent like from an eternal blossom, intoxicates the mind with memories of her vivacious and loving spirit.

Even here, in the High Risk Ward of Tihar jail, the five sets of bars that incarcerates us, cannot extinguish the aroma that Anu radiates in one’s memories. The pain one suffers here seems so insignificant, compared to what she must have faced on that fateful day.

I still remember the first day I met her, way back in mid 1972. The sparkle and brightness that radiated from her childlike face, never dimmed through all the torturous years of struggles and enormous sacrifice. The same bubbly spirit, the same dynamism, and the same active and sharp mind of youth, remained till the very end.

The purity of her soul, her deep commitment to the oppressed, never allowed her to be weighed down by any kind of hardship—physical or mental. That is why the wear and tear of life could not extinguish her youth and exuberance. It was only the deadly and incurable systemic sclerosis which struck her in 2002 that suddenly resulted in her ageing overnight. Continue reading

Maharashtra: Maoist Dalams Prepare for Govt Offensive

Gahchiroli is in eastern Maharastra, near the border with Maoist strongholds in Chhattisgarh

Times of India, December 15, 2009

Naxals prepare to strike back with area dalams

NAGPUR: After lying low for some time in the state, Naxals have upped their ante even as the Maharastra government has turned its attention belatedly on this Maoist-affected and backward district of Gadchiroli. They seem all set to launch an offensive.

The Naxals are concentrating at the grassroots level as well as strengthening their military wing for giving an added edge to their already potent striking powers. TOI has learnt through reliable sources that at least ten area dalams have been formed by the Naxals in Gadchiroli itself. This is to ensure that their mass base remains strong in the face of incisive onslaughts by the security forces.

The area dalams have received training in deep forest camps with the active support of the villagers on the either side of the Maharashtra-Chhatisgarh border. Uncorroborated sources claimed that district cops, which were being informed about the ongoing camps, opted not to react to the input for reasons TOI could not confirm.

Apart from the other routine work of recruitment and intelligence gathering, these area dalam members have been specially trained in planting explosives and triggering blasts. A recent blast at Chichoda near Fulbodi Gatta village, in Dhanora tehsil of Gadchiroli district that left three cops injured was the successful outcome of the experiment. The patrolling police party was also fired at but there was no casualty.

Sources also claimed that Naxals, who have already proved better tacticians than the cops, have planned to counter the newly-designed counter offensive against them by turning the district into a virtual minefield rather than trying to clash with the 18 central paramilitary forces with their extra firepowers.  Sources revealed that the Naxals were already making their plans even before the paramilitary companies landed in Gadchiroli after the state elections in October.

Naxals, which too has a potent intelligence wing, is learnt to have devoted their energies in building a stronger organizations at village levels. With a view to keep their mass bases intact, the Naxals focused on building as many area dalams as possible in different parts of the district. Their plan was to make Gadchiroli a liberated zone through establishing Janatana Sarkars or their forms of peoples’ government, like what they claimed to have done at Abujamarh.

According to a local source, the Naxals have been fast forming smaller groups, comprising 10-15 members, for area dalams to conduct meetings in villages. These groups fan anti-government sentiments, appeal villages to join the movement and cultivate hatred against security forces. “These area dalams are effective in giving shape to bigger sabotage attacks by combing their strengths, laying traps for cops or working as support with their military wings during encounter like removing the bodies of their cadres, distract the cops while fighting and also delaying the reinforcements,” said an experienced cop.