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‘Attempt To Weaken Case Against Jalandhar Bishop”: Kerala Nuns On Transfer Orders

The nuns in Kerala had received transfer orders in March 2018, but they refused to report at the assigned location

Kerala | Written by Sneha Mary Koshy | 

After her complaint triggered protests, Franco Mulakkal was arrested in September.

Four Kerala nuns, who campaigned against former Jalandhar Bishop Franco Mulakkal accused of sexually assaulting a nun in Kerala, have got reminder notices to “obey” their transfer orders issued by the Missionaries of Jesus Congregation.

The nuns in Kerala had received their transfer orders in March 2018, months after they had complained at several forums within the church against the bishop, but they refused to report at the assigned convents.

“Once again, let me make a decisive appeal to you to join the Chemiyari community without any further delay and take up your responsibility,” said the notice to one of the nuns.

The letters accessed by NDTV has been signed by Jalandhar-based Missionaries of Jesus Congregation Superior General.

“We feel this is an attempt to weaken the case against the bishop and pressurise the survivor nun. We will not go anywhere. If we all move away to different convents, it will be very difficult for her. We will stay here to support her,” one of the nuns told NDTV.

Besides the reminder of transfer, the letter also disapproves of the nuns going against the congregation.

“This communique is intended to remind you once again to recall my earlier appeals inviting your attention towards mending the current way of life and activities pursued by you… Even as you and a few other MJ members continue to feel no qualms in issuing malafied public statements and circulate baseless stories tarnishing the image of the MJ congregation and portraying the Mother General and other members as ‘enemies of those who are fighting for their justice’, I have been ensuring that the congregation continue supporting you,” it added.

In September last year, the nuns had protested near Kerala High Court demanding justice for the nun, who had alleged that the Jalandhar Bishop sexually abused her 13 times between 2014 and 2016 during his visits to a convent in Kottayam district.

After her complaint triggered protests, the bishop was arrested in September. Franco Mulakkal is currently on bail.

A few days ago, another nun who published poems, bought a car and took part in a protest against Franco Mulakkal, was issued a notice by her superiors for indulging in anti-church activities and leading a life “against the principles of religious life”.

The notice asked the nun to offer an explanation at the Generalate of the Congregation on January 9, but she did not turn up, saying that she was busy.

“Through Facebook, channel discussions and articles, you belittled the Catholic leadership by making false accusations against it and tried to bring down the sacraments… you defamed the congregation and your performance through social media was culpable in causing grave scandal,” the notice read.

It also termed getting a driving licence, buying a car on loan, and publishing a book without the permission of her superiors as “grave violations”.

courtesy NDTV

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Supreme Court Okays Maharashtra Dance Bars


The Supreme Court set aside certain provisions of a 2016 law imposing restrictions on their licensing and functioning.



Maharashtra dance bars: The court said no to the showering of money during dance performances.

Maharashtra’s tough rules for dance bars have been relaxed by the Supreme Court, which said today “liquor and dance can co-exist”. Noting that no dance bar license has been handed out since 2005, the top court said Maharashtra “can’t just ban dance bars by trying to regulate them”. The court struck down rules like such establishments can’t come up near temples or schools and the owners should be of a “good character”. In August last year, the court reserved its verdict on the pleas of hotel and restaurant owners challenging the 2016 Maharashtra law.

  1. The court said a rule that dance bars should be 1 km from religious places and educational institutes are “no reasonable ” in Mumbai.
  2. Performers at dance bars can be paid tips but they cannot be showered with cash, the top court said.
  3. The Supreme Court also backed fixing the time and asking dance bars in the state to operate from 6 pm to 11.30 pm.
  4. The rule requiring a partition between bar rooms and the dance floor was also cancelled by the court.
  5. Compulsory installation of CCTV cameras was also struck down by the court that said the rule  violates privacy. 
  6. The Supreme Court struck down a provision that the owner of the dance bar should have a “good character” and no “criminal antecedents”. “There is no precise definition of what amounts to good character and criminal antecedents,” the court.
  7. “From 2005 till date, not a single person has been given licence (for dance bars). It cannot be done. There can be regulations but it cannot amount to total prohibition,” said a bench of Justice AK Sikri and Justice Ashok Bhushan. “It seems like total moral policing is going on in the state,” the court had said last year.
  8. Dance bar owners had objected to the restriction of maintaining a 1-km distance from any religious or educational structure claiming it was not possible in big cities. They had told the court that the state government adopted an attitude that it will not permit dance bars irrespective of court orders. 
  9. “We are happy with the government. Our main intention was to protect the bar girls and that has been upheld by the court. Whoever comes to us fulfilling the conditions, we will give licenses,” said Nishant Katneshwarkar, the Maharashtra government’s lawyer.
  10. The Dance Bar Regulation Bill unanimously passed by the state assembly in 2016, banned serving liquor in performance areas and mandated that the premises must shut by 11:30 pm. It also imposed heavy penalties on dance bar owners and customers for not following these rules.

(With inputs from PTI and IANS)

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BJP attempt to polarize North East on communal lines “fails” to cut ice with people

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Counterview Desk 
New Socialist Initiative (NSI), a collective claiming to be committed to creating a society free of economic deprivation, gender, caste, national and racial oppressions, and ecological degradation, has said that failure to introduce the “communally motivated” Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB) in the Rajya Sabha after it was hurriedly push through in the Lok Sabha suggests the ruling BJP’s “game” to communally polarize the North East has failed. 
In a statement, NSI has said, through the Bill, the Government of India (GoI) had decided to engage in a politics of religious polarization, arguing that it is the Muslim immigrants who are the real enemy. The BJP rulers “told the public that the excluded Hindus (irrespective of whether they are Indian citizens or Bangladeshi refugees) need not worry because the government will be bringing an enabling constitutional amendment for them soon.” 
“Amazingly, within one hour of the submission of the Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) report, the Cabinet approved it and in the very next day, the Citizenship Amendment Bill was pushed through the Lok Sabha”, NSI says, adding, “Unfortunately for the BJP, this brazen attempt to divide the people on the basis of religion didn’t cut ice in Assam and the rest of the North East.” 
It underlines, “Contrary to expectations of the central government, even more militant protests have broken out in Assam and other North Eastern states this time, against the bill. As one former BJP worker from the region has put it, ‘They wanted to turn Hindus against Muslims, they’ve turned Hindus against Hindus’.” 

NSI note on citizenship Bill:

New Socialist Initiative stands in solidarity with the people of Assam, Tripura and the other North Eastern states in their heroic struggle against the communally motivated Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB). It was only because of the resistance of the people that the government couldn’t table the Bill for voting in the Rajya Sabha after surreptitiously passing it in the Lok Sabha. 

This is in fact a victory for all the progressive and democratic forces of the country, who have been fighting to save and expand the secular character of the nation. While the danger still looms large and there is a strong possibility that the government may try to bring back the bill in the upcoming budget session, the mass resistance of the people has demonstrated very clearly that the evil designs of the fascists in power will not go unanswered and that the people will fight back with all their might. 
Perhaps it is a testimony to the success of the peoples’ resistance and the frustration of the fascist rulers that the Assam police slapped sedition charges against three prominent personalities of the state, who have been leading the mass resistance against the CAB in the state. Marxist literary critic Dr. Hiren Gohain, KMSS leader Akhil Gogoi and senior journalist Manjit Mahanta have been booked under Sections 120(B), 121, 123 and 124(A) of the IPC. 

In Tripura, numerous protectors have been beaten up by the police and the state government has prevented civil society delegations from neighbouring states from visiting and meeting the injured. We appeal to all the left, democratic and secular forces of the country to condemn such fascist attempts to muzzle democratic dissent and raise their voice in solidarity with protesters. 
Although granting unconditional citizenship to all the Hindus of the world has always been a fantasy of the RSS, there is a local context to the urgent manner in which the CAB has been pushed through in the parliament. In Assam, an exercise to update the National Register of Citizens (NRC) has been going on for the past few years. The exercise seeks to identify the genuine citizens of the country and thereby exclude illegal foreigners living in the state. 

In July 2018, the draft NRC was published and around 40 lakh people found their names excluded from the draft list. Out of these 30 lakh have now reapplied and they await final processing of their applications by the NRC authority. While initially it was thought that most of the excluded belong to the Bengali Muslim community, and Amit Shah even went to the extent of declaring these 40 lakh people as termites, gradually it was discovered that a substantial number of Hindu Bengalis have also been excluded. 

For understandable reasons, the issue created much furore in the country. But instead of tackling the issue sensitively, the government decided to engage in a politics of religious polarisation. The BJP government argued that it is the Muslim immigrants, who are the real enemy. They also told the public that the excluded Hindus (irrespective of whether they are Indian citizens or Bangladeshi refugees) need not worry because the government will be bringing an enabling constitutional amendment for them soon. In fact, such an amendment was already in the pipeline for some time. 
In July 2016, the central government had tabled a Citizenship Amendment Bill, according to which non-Muslim refugees coming from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan without valid travel documents would not be treated as illegal migrants. But due to stiff opposition in the parliament as well as streets of Assam, it was referred back to a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) for wider public consultation. But now, as the NRC debate came to the forefront, BJP expressed its determination to pass the bill at any cost. Even before the consultation period was over, the government forced the JPC to file a final report, despite vigorous protests of the JPC members. 
Amazingly, within one hour of the submission of the JPC report, the Cabinet approved it and in the very next day, the Citizenship Amendment Bill was pushed through the Lok Sabha! Unfortunately for the BJP, this brazen attempt to divide the people on the basis of religion didn’t cut ice in Assam and the rest of the North East. Contrary to expectations of the central government, even more militant protests have broken out in Assam and other North Eastern states this time, against the bill. As one former BJP worker from the region has put it, “they wanted to turn Hindus against Muslims, they’ve turned Hindus against Hindus.” 

It should also be noted that while the North Eastern states are witnessing strong opposition to the Citizenship Amendment Bill, the prevalence of confusion around the objectives and provisions of the bill has proved to be a stumbling block in the process of building a strong movement against the bill in the rest of the country. 

More than ever, it is necessary to say it loudly that the bill has nothing to do with humanitarian concerns for the minorities in the neighbouring countries, and is all about the plan to build a Hindu Rashtra out of India. The bill very cleverly divides the citizenship seekers into two categories based on religion and excludes from its purview all non-Muslim majority countries in the neighbourhood. Rather than breaking barriers and helping the oppressed and the persecuted, the bill in effect will further solidify artificial barriers and increase religion based distrust and hostility in the entire South Asian region. 
In fact, it will lend a helping hand to the religious fundamentalist forces in neighbouring states to project their Hindu minorities as untrustworthy and agents of India, just like the Hindu fundamentalists have been projecting the Muslim and the Christian minorities of India as foreign and untrustworthy. 

As a socialist platform NSI believes in the ideal of free movement of people, ideas and solidarities across national borders. We strongly believe that the problems of communalism, religious fundamentalism, economic deprivation and ecological disaster in our region can be successfully addressed only at the level of the entire South Asia, with voluntary coming together of different nations of the region. 

It is a matter of much regret that in recent times there has been a consistent rise in conflict and distrust between different states of South Asia and we have allowed our politicians to indulge in fantasies of hard borders. Consistent bullying of smaller countries of the region by successive Indian governments is also a fact. But despite this, it is undeniable that a regime of people to people free exchange between different countries will be best for everyone. 
In fact, what we need is a bold vision, which would ensure progressive relaxation in the movement of people, commodities and resources across national borders in the entire region. This vision should also entail radical curtailment of defence expenditure by all the neighbouring nations, substantial state investment in basic public amenities and decommodificaion of all major arenas of the economy necessary for a decent human life. NSI believes in building a society where migration is voluntary and which creates no refugees. 
NSI also believes that we need to commit seriously towards sustaining the diversity of cultures in our country and the entire South Asian region. This requires that adequate constitutional safeguards and protections must be provided, consolidated and extended to all communities which find themselves politically, economically, and socially vulnerable in their respective regions. 
It is an undeniable fact that in many parts of the North East and especially in Assam, migration of people from Bengal induced by the British rulers drastically altered the demography of the region, so much so that the Assamese and other indigenous communities found themselves outnumbered in their land. This led to a long drawn out conflict and mutual distrust between the migrant and the indigenous communities and helped create a regime of what political scientist Sanjib Baruah has termed as ‘durable disorder’. 
NSI believes that such problems can be addressed by providing adequate and well thought out constitutional safeguards to the Assamese community and strengthening the already existing safeguards for other indigenous communities. To be sure, special care should be taken while designing such constitutional safeguards so that they do not strengthen archaic notions of ‘pure ethnic homelands’. Proper constitutional safeguards will assure the small and vulnerable communities about their future and pave the ground for easy passage of radical policies on immigration and intra-regional cooperation. 
Our commitment towards migrants, refugees and citizenship-seekers do not have to come in conflict with our commitment towards protecting the culture, identity and politico-economic life of the already existing small and vulnerable communities. In fact, they can complement each other. A compact association of South Asian nations, with free movement of people, ideas and commodities can be founded only on the basis of respecting and protecting the diversity of the region. 
It is noteworthy that while on the one hand the present Indian government seeks to divide refugees on the basis of religion, on the other hand, it has turned the clause 6 of Assam Accord (originally designed to protect the Assamese and other indigenous communities) into a complete joke. This is a sure shot recipe to disaster. 
NSI reiterates its solidarity with the people of North East in their struggle against the Constitutional Amendment Bill and appeals all the left, democratic and secular forces of the country to initiate a strong movement against divisive designs of fascist rulers. There is nothing irresistible about fascism; it can be fought and defeated.

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Bulandshahr Violence Main Accused Yogesh Raj Sends “Wishes” In Bajrang Dal Posters

Hindutva organisations Bajrang Dal and Vishwa Hindu Parishad have put up posters in Uttar Pradesh’s Bulandshahr district that carry a photograph of local Bajrang Dal leader Yogesh Raj wishing the public on Makar Sankranti and Republic Day.


Bulandshahr: Yogesh Raj, the main accused in the December mob violence in Uttar Pradesh’s Bulandshahr in which a police officer was killed, was featured in Bajrang Dal posters across the region.

On these posters by Bajrang Dal and Vishwa Hindu Parishad, Yogesh Raj “wishes” people on behalf of the two organisations on the occasion of Makar Sankranti and the upcoming Republic Day celebrations.

The wishes came on the behalf of Praveen Bhati and Yogesh Raj whose title is mentioned as District coordinator. Defending the move, Bajrang Dal’s Assistant Regional Convenor Praveen Bhati told, “There is nothing wrong in putting up such posters as Yogesh Raj is the local convenor, and just an accused. He is yet not guilty.” Bhati also features in the poster.

“From the day of the riots itself, we have openly admitted that Yogesh Raj is an able worker of the Bajrang Dal and we stand by him. There is a huge difference between someone who is accused and someone who is convicted. The posters display Yogesh’s patriotism which even an accused has a right to express. We completely endorse this”, said Balraj Dungar, State Convenor of Bajrang Dal.

The display also has names of Satish Lodi, Ashish Chauhan, Satendra Rajput and Vishal Tyagi- who have been accused of playing a role in the Bulandshahr violence that claimed the life of Inspector Subodh Kumar Singh.

“The poster has been put up by Praveen, who is also a worker of the party. We see no wrong in this”, continued Balraj Dungar. The posters were allegedly taken down by the authorities within a day from areas including Nayabans village, of which Yogesh Raj is a resident of.

Yogesh Raj was arrested on January 3, exactly a month after Singh was killed in mob frenzy over cow slaughter allegations. The police say he raised the cow slaughter complaint after the discovery of carcasses at a forest and incited a mob that targeted policemen.

The Bajrang Dal has said its leader is innocent and will be cleared of the allegations.

While absconding, Yogesh and co-accused Shikhar Agarwal had released videos on social media alleging their innocence and changing their statements given to the police and on social media.

Yogesh Raj was able to avoid arrest and even put out videos from hiding, which led to allegations that the UP police was soft on him. The perception gained more traction when Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, at a security review meeting after the mob killing, was seen to be more concerned about taking action against cow slaughter, NDTV reported.

According to the police, Yogesh Raj’s cow slaughter complaint also had false names. The violence erupted when an argument between him and the police escalated. Officer Subodh Kumar Singh was chased, cornered in a field and shot dead by the mob of 400 which allegedly included activists of the Bajrang Dal, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad and a youth wing member of the ruling BJP.

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“Virgin Girl Like Sealed Bottle”: Professor Deletes Post After Outrage

Jadavpur University promised to take action after the professor’s social media posts drew criticism online and in the academic community.A

Jadavpur University professor Kanak Sarkar’s Facebook posts drew sharp criticism online.


  1. Kanak Sarkar in his post wrote “to most boys virgin wife is like angel”
  2. He defended saying it was his personal post, cited freedom of expression
  3. Told a student she has “model-like figure”, she’s “what men would enjoy”

A professor at West Bengal’s Jadavpur University has sparked outrage with his Facebook post in which he compared a woman’s virginity to a “sealed bottle” or “packet”. The post, “Virgin Bride – Why Not?”, was taken down by him later but he continues to defend his statement citing the Supreme Court giving “freedom of expression in social media”.

Kanak Sarkar, a professor at the university’s international relations, had written in the post that, “Virgin girl is like sealed bottle or sealed packet. Are you willing to buy broken seal while purchasing a bottle of cold drinks or a packet of biscuits… To most boys virgin wife is like angel.”

He came up with an explanation on Facebook, arguing that it was his personal post and cited freedom of expression. “I have not written anything against any person, individual or anybody without any evidence or proof or any reference. I am doing social research and writing for the good and well-being of society.” He also justified saying these comments were intended for “fun” among social media friends and “not for public consumption”, reported news agency PTI.


Kanak Sarkar deleted his controversial Facebook post.

As the professor’s social media posts drew criticism online and in the academic community, Jadavpur University promised to take action. “We will take all steps as per law,” Jadavpur University vice chancellor Suranjan Das told news agency IANS.

Meanwhile, other allegations also surfaced on Monday where a journalist said that Kanak Sarkar had asked a female student if she wants to become a model as her “figure” is “very model-like” and if she has many male friends to comment that she is “what men would enjoy”.

According to Jadavpur University’s website, Kanak Sarkar’s specialisation includes political sociology, political thought, the Constitution and government, human rights and law, development administration, and ethnicity and terrorism

On campus, students marched to the vice chancellors office and submitted a letter demanding the immediate termination of Mr Sarkar’s employment. The National Commission for Women has asked the West Bengal police chief to probe the incident and take appropriate action

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Uttarakhand, a Govt-funded Centre to Keep Women in Hiding During Their Menstrual Cycle #WTFnews

The matter came to light when villagers complained to the district magistrate about irregularities in the construction of the ‘menstruating centre’.

Anupam Trivedi |

Term Insurance Of 50 Lakh Cover For As Low As Rs 386 Per MonthEnter Phone Number & Age To Check Eligibility For Rs.1 Crore TermDehradun: In a move that puts a big question mark on the treatment of women in Uttarakhand, a government-funded building has been constructed in a village in Champawat district with the sole intention of keeping women away from their homes during their menstrual cycle. 

The matter came to light when a couple of villagers complained to the district magistrate about irregularities in the construction of the ‘menstruating centre’.

“I was shocked to know about ‘menstruating centre’ in the remote Ghurchum village. The complainants failed to justify why women were to be kept in the centre and whether they will be given sanitary pads,” district magistrate Ranbir Chauhan told News18 over phone on Tuesday.

An official said the government funds were meant for the development of the village and a probe has been ordered to find out how they got ‘misused’ for the building construction.

“The centre was constructed from the funds meant for development of Panchayat. It is bizarre that the centre is being used to keep menstruating women, it is against the basic concept of fundamental rights,” Chauhan said.

He added that a team of the officials will find out whether more such centres exist in the district. Sources say the officials will also crosscheck if the funds allocated by the 14th finance commission were misused in the construction of the centre in question. 

The concept of ‘menstruating centre’ is similar to that of ‘period huts’ in the neighbouring Nepal. Recently, a village in Nepal hit headlines after a menstruating woman and her two children died after getting suffocated in a menstrual hut.

Champawat district is nestled along the Indo-Nepal border.

In December last year, News18 had reported how teenagers in Sail village of Pithoragath district were not allowed to attend school during their period as a temple falls en route. Pithoragarh is another remote district of Uttarakhand along the Indo-Nepal-China border.

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UN Lambasted on High-Level Appointments

By Thalif DeenReprint |        | 

António Guterres takes the oath of office for his five-year term as UN Secretary-General. Credit: UN Photo/Mark Garten

UNITED NATIONS, Jan 14 2019 (IPS) – The world’s developing countries, comprising over two-thirds of the 193 UN member states, are complaining they are not being adequately represented in the higher echelons of the world body –- despite competent candidates with strong professional and academic qualifications vying for these jobs.

The 134-member Group of 77, the largest single coalition of developing countries, says “persistent imbalances in equitable geographic representation in the UN Secretariat are a major concern.”

While the UN is being commended for ensuring equitable representation of women in recent years, it still stands accused of neglecting qualified nationals of developing countries, including from Asia, the Middle East, Africa and Latin America and the Caribbean.

The high-level jobs go mostly to nationals of either Western nations, big donors or the five permanent members of the UN Security Council (P-5), namely, the US, UK, France, Russia and China.

“Every Secretary-General, with no exception, caves into the demands of big powers,” one Asian diplomat told IPS, “These countries think high-ranking UN jobs are their political birthright”.

Addressing the UN’s Administrative and Budgetary Committee (Fifth Committee), and speaking on behalf of the G77 and China, Karim Ismail of Egypt, told delegates last November that equitable geographic representation is key to ensuring the Organization’s international character and its Member States.

Urging the Secretariat to expedite efforts in this direction, including the representation of troop- and police-contributing countries (TCCs/PCCs), he called for more transparency in how geographical representation is measured and the basis for such assessment.

“The Assembly needs more complete and easily understandable information on how gender parity and geographical representation are reflected in the 38,000 posts across the Secretariat,” he added.

The high-level posts include Under Secretaries-Generals (USGs), Assistant Secretaries-Generals (ASGs), Directors (categorized as D-1s and D-2s), heads of UN peacekeeping missions overseas, mostly based in Africa, and Special Envoys of UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

According to a system of geographical balance, when the secretary-general is from a Western nation, the deputy secretary-general is from the developing world, and vice versa. Currently, Amina Mohammed from Nigeria, holds the second highest ranking job in the world body, next in command to Guterres, a former Prime Minister of Portugal.

Ian Richards, president of the 60,000-strong Coordinating Committee of the UN’s International Staff Unions and Associations (CCISUA), told IPS: “The current situation in which staff from developing countries are less likely to make it to the top is unacceptable and unfortunately mirrors political and financial influence in the system.”

An organization cannot talk about putting performance at the heart of human resources management and selection, if nationality continues to be a key consideration at senior levels, he pointed out.

Linked to this, he said, is the ongoing revolving door between the General Assembly and senior staff positions, for which there is no cooling-off period, and which undermines the independence of the UN.

“Guterres needs to have a frank discussion on this,” declared Richards. Otherwise, he warned, the UN’s much-touted reforms will be an exercise in futility—
and will not mean much.

The biggest contributors to the UN’s regular budget, who stake their claims for top jobs, include: the US, China, Japan, Germany, France, UK, Italy and Russia. Amongst Asian countries, China (a member of the G77) and Japan (although Asian, but not a G77 member, still wielding economic clout as a major donor) are both favoured in senior UN appointments.

But Asia is not merely China, Japan or India, one of the world’s most populous nations.

Jayantha Dhanapala, a former Under-Secretary-General for Disarmament Affairs, told IPS it is widely known that the UN adopts a pro-active policy towards recruiting Japanese by sending head-hunting teams to Japan acknowledging the major financial contribution Japan makes.

“This needs to be done with others too so that talent can be spotted. There are major gaps in Human Resource recruitment within the UN, with the West getting the plum jobs, although progress has been made with regard to the recruitment of women redressing the imbalances of the past”, he added.

Asked who should be blamed for the continued under-representation—whether it should be Guterres or member states, former UN Assistant Secretary-General Dr Ramesh Thakur, emeritus professor in the Crawford School of Public Policy, Australian National University, told IPS: “Both– but mainly member states”.

He said Asian countries need to do two things. (1) lobby for their own nationals, and, (2) lobby for the Asian group as a whole.

For example, he said, they could demand that, as the UN University is the only part of the UN system that has its global headquarters in Asia, the Rector (USG rank) must always be an Asian.

In point of fact, only one Rector has been Asian, one Latin American, zero African, and four from West European and Other States (as categorized by the UN).

Dr Thakur said there should be a demand by member states for a report, every two years, by the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ) on regional representation in the ranks of USG, ASG and D2.

“The very fact of having to provide this documentation will make the Secretary-General and the UN system much more sensitive to the inequitable representation,” he declared.

Samir Sanbar, a former Assistant Secretary-General and one-time head of the Department of Public Information, told IPS that “equitable geographical representation by developing members –as required by the U.N. Charter– has been eroding consistently over the last two decades, despite the availability of qualified candidates.”

In the current unusual situation, he pointed out, two UK citizens now head two Secretariat Departments (Humanitarian Affairs and Global Communications) while a citizen of New Zealand heads Management, Portugal heads the office of legal affairs, France keeps heading the Peacekeeping Department (since 1996) and China holds Economic/Social Affairs. The US traditionally heads the Department of Political Affairs, and Russia heads the UN office in Vienna, after earlier heading the office in Geneva.

Initially, appointments from key countries were made selectively by the Secretary-General based on the merit of presented candidates.

Sanbar also pointed out there were some illustrious USGs—irrespective of their nationalities—- because of their superlative credentials.

For example, he said, Brian Urquhart was the most distinguished head of the Peacekeeping Department regardless of his solid U.K. citizenship. So was Bernard Miyet of France.

Similarly, were other heads of departments from developing countries like Sergio Vieira de Mello (Brazil), Jayantha Dhanapala (Sri Lanka) and Nitin Desai (India), said Sanbar, who served under five different secretaries-general during his career at the UN.

So is Guterres’ highly regarded Chef de Cabinet

“Our inspiring Dag Hammarskjold reportedly quipped: The U. N. needs the big powers to survive and small powers to succeed,” declared Sanbar.

Meanwhile, the 53-member Asia Pacific Group accounts for about 27 percent of UN member states and over half the world’s population– but still constitutes only around 17 per cent of the Secretariat’s international staff.

Pointing out these discrepancies, Mahesh Kumar of India told the Administrative and Budgetary that while the UN Charter puts equitable geographical representation at the heart of human resources management, challenges continue to persist.

He said out of a total UN Secretariat staff of 38,000, less than 10 per cent are covered by the system of desirable ranges. Even for these 3,600 posts, 64 countries are listed as un-represented or under-represented and 50 of these 64 are developing countries.

Further, the number of member states in the category of un-represented or under-represented continues to increase since 2014.

In addition, nearly 60 more developing countries are close to the lower level of their desirable range of representation and remain at risk of slipping into the under-represented category, he said.

“These numbers paint a very stark picture of the current inequitable representation,” he said.

He complained that regional disparity remains especially stark at senior level positions, adding that in peacekeeping positions too, the regional disparity is glaring.

Nearly half of the Force commanders — six out of 14 – are from Western European and Others Group, comprising only 14% of total member states.

Currently, the five biggest troop-contributors to the 90,000-strong UN peacekeeping force overseas include: Ethiopia (7,597 troops), Bangladesh (6,624), Rwanda (6,528), India (6,445) and Nepal (6,098).

In contrast, among the P-5 countries, China is the 10th largest troop contributor with 2,515 troops, France ranks 31 with 729, UK ranks 36 with 618, Russia ranks 68 with 85 and the US ranks 77 with 51 troops.

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Anand Teltumbde- ‘My Hopes Lie Shattered, I Need Your Support’

I am, an IIM-A alumnus, IIT Professor, Executive Director of BPCL, Ex-MD & CEO of Petronet India, Senior Professor and Chair, Big Data Analytics in GIM, author of 26 books, columnist in EPW, writer of innumerable articles, a noted scholar of caste-class and public policy issues, Leading Public Intellectual and Democratic and Educational Rights Activist face imminent threat of arrest as an ‘Urban Maoist’ in the vilest post-independence plot by the state.  

Please sign petition here

I need your Support

Anand Teltumbde

You may have learnt from the media that my appeal for quashing the false FIR against me filed by the Pune Police was rejected yesterday (14 January) by the Supreme Court. Fortunately, it gave me to four weeks to seek pre-arrest bail from the competent court.

Up till now I felt confident that whatever charges the Police levied could be proved as criminal fabrication once they landed before the court and hence I did not feel the need to bother you.

But my hopes stand completely shattered and I am left with just seeking the bail right from the sessions court Pune, to the Supreme Court. The time has come to build a visible campaign in support of me from various sections of people so as to save me from imminent arrest.

Many of us did not know that the arrest under the UAPA can mean years of incarceration. Even a hardened criminal can get away with his crime with a metered punishment of a year or two but an innocent person merely for the police, invariably acting at the behest of political bosses, claim that they have evidence against him could keep him/her for years in jail.

The arrest for me is not simply the hardship of prison life, it is keeping meaway from my laptop which has been integral with my body, from my library which has been part of my life, half-written manuscripts of books committed to various publishers, my research papers which are in various stages of completion, my students who staked their future on my professional reputation, my institute that invested so much resources in my name and recently took me on its Board of Governors, and my numerous friends and of course my family—my wife, who, as the granddaughter of Babasaheb Ambedkar hardly bargained for this fate and daughters who are already disturbed not knowing whatever that has been happening to me since August last year.

Coming from the poorest of the poor family, I passed through the best institutes in the country with scholastic achievements. Just being an alumnus of hallowed IIM Ahmedabad, I could easily live a luxurious life only if I had chosen to ignore social oddities around.

However, with a sense of contributing to better the lives of people, I decided to just make enough to sustain my family at a reasonable living standard and devote time to make intellectual contribution, the only thing possible in my state, towards making the world a little more just. Informed by this instinct, the residue of activism during the school and college days naturally landed me in organizations like Committee for Protection of Democratic Rights (CPDR) of which I am today the General Secretary and All India Forum for Right to education (AIFRTE) of which I am a presidium member. There is not an iota of unlawful in either my voluminous writings or selfless activism.

Rather, my entire academic career and corporate career of nearly four decades has been without a single blemish and exemplar of integrity of highest degree. Therefore, even in my worst nightmares I could not imagine that the state apparatus of this country to which I contributed so much through my professional life could turn against me with such an abuse as a criminal.

It is not that the vindictive state apparatus in India has been criminalizing innocent people to protect thieves and looters of this country that made this country most unequal in the world, but the manner in which it created the current criminal farce out of an innocuous event called Elgar Parishad in Pune last year to incarcerate select human rights defenders, intellectuals and activists in peoples’ movements to curb dissent in the country is unprecedented in its nakedness and blatant abuse of power.

This may be the vilest plot in post-independence India the state hatched against its detractors in vengeance disbanding every democratic decency.

[You may read further if you wish to know details of the caseor else skip it to the last three paras]

The Plot Sinister and I

Justice P B Sawant, the retired judge of the Supreme Court and justice B G Kolshe Patil, the ex-judge of the Bombay High Court conceived the idea of using the 200th anniversary of the Last Anglo-Maratha battle that took place at Bhima-Koregaon in 1818 to mobilize people against the communal and casteistpolicies of the BJP. They invited activists and progressive intellectuals to a planning meeting.

I too was invited initially by someone on behalf of Justice Sawant and later by Justice KolshePatil. I regretted due to my academic engagements but acceded to his request to be the co-convener of the conference along with many others. I did not hear what transpired until I saw a leaflet on WhatsApp regarding the Elgar Parishad.

I was supportive of the idea of commemorating the end of oppressive Peshawadomand also the martyrdom of the Mahar soldiers whose names are inscribed on the obelisk at Bhima-Koregaon. However, I was uncomfortable with the projection of the Elgar Parishad that the Bhima-Koregaon battle was won by Mahar soldiers to avenge their oppression during the Brahmanic rule of the Peshwas.

I thought that such a distorted reading of history may further reinforce identitarian obsession of the Dalits making it difficult to strike broader unity of people. I wrote an article in The Wire on this that evoked angry responses from Dalits. I rethought the entire matter and stood my stead, in spirit of true intellectual.

Incidentally, this article, responses to it, my reconfirmation of my views should dispel the charge that I was working at the behest of someone to instigate the Dalits. But where irrationality reigns supreme, such rationale will not break any ice with the regime or its police!

More than 250 organizations had joined the organization, some of them belonging to the Marathas, who had never aligned politically with the Dalits in the past.

Right since the BJP-Shiv Sena formed the government in the state under a Brahmin chief minister, the displeasure of the Marathas manifested in various forms, the biggest of course was the Maratha Morchas, that erupted using the pretext of an unfortunate incident at Kopardiwhere a minor Maratha girl was raped and killed by some miscreants, one of whom happened to be a Dalit. The administration had promptly acted and therefore the legitimate demand for justice to the victim was tilted to an unconnected demand for the annulment of the Atrocity Act.

The mass mobilization was used later to demand reservations for Marathas. Marathas began sensing the need to align with the Dalits to defeat the Brahmanic dispensation in the state. It reflected in some of their youth organizations joining the organizers of the Elgar Parishad that echoed their sentiment in the slogan, “Bury the Peshawai”.

It was just symbolic but could be seen as portending a risk to the BJP’s applecart. Both the main organizers of the conference also happened to be the Marathas. It sent a scare to the power obsessed BJP, which responded with commissioning its agent provocateurs in Milind Ekbote of Samastha Hindutva Aghadiand Sambhaji Bhide of Shiv Chhatrapati Pratishan to create a rift between Dalits and Marathas. A Samadhi of Sambhaji Maharaj, son of Shivaji, situated at Vadu Budruk, just four km from Bhima-Koregaon was used to cook up a controversy.

For the last 300 years, the popular history of the Samadhi held that when Aurangzeb killed and threw away dismembered body of Sambhaji, one Govind Mahar collected the pieces and gave Sambhaji a respectable funeral. He built a memorial on his field. When he died his family built his memorial by the side of Sambhaji’s.

The conspirator duo fabricated a story that it was not Govind Mahar but a Maratha family ‘Shivale’ who did it and provoked the Marathas against Dalits. Using this rift at VaduBadruk, they could incite Marathas against the Dalits congregating at Bhima Goregaon on January 1. The preparations in surrounding villages were visible to the public but the administration feigned ignorance.

On December 29, the Dalits found the canopy and the information board put up at the Samadhi of Govind Mahar damaged. It created tension between communities as designed but to the misfortune of the conspirators, the villagers patched it up the next day.

On December 31 Elgar Parishad took place as planned at Shaniwarwada. At the end of the conference, the people present were administered the oath that they would never vote for the BJP and would try to protect the constitution of India. The entire conference was video-recorded by the police as well as by the organizers.

Nothing untoward took place at the conference and all the delegates dispersed peacefully. As for me, I had come to Pune for the marriage of my closest friend’s son on 31st at 10.55 am.

We stayed at Shreyas Hotel, attended the marriage the next day and left the hotel at 12.40 to reach back Goa. Having come to Pune my wife wanted to see her nephew (Sujat Ambedkar) and sister-in-law (Anjali Ambedkar) at Shaniwarwada and hence we took a detour for 5-10 minutes and left in search of tyreshops to replace one of the tyres of my car that had developed crack.

Fortunately, I have evidence of exact times enroute to establish that we did not attend the Elgar Parishad. Having come to Pune, I would have easily stayed on through the conference but for my discomfort with the premise of the conference and the need to reach early for my work in the institute, I avoided it.

On 1 January, when Dalits congregated at Bhima-Koregaon, the Hindutva goons mounted attack as planned with stone pelting from the terrace of houses lining the road, beating people and burning the stalls. The police just looked on as they were not in enough number. It clearly established the administration’s complicity in the plan. That some mischief was cooking up in the area was known almost to common people.

The 29th incident at the Sambhaji’s Samadhi had given a clear confirmation for these rumours. But the administration feigned ignorance to let the riots happen. The stray videos that made rounds of the WhatsApp messages clearly show the saffron flag bearers shouting slogans in the name of Ekbote and Bhidechasing and beating the Dalits who were caught unaware. Many Dalits were injured, their vehicles were damaged, many stalls were burnt down and a youth.

I was completely unaware of what happened in the Elgar Parishad and even about the attack that happened on 1 January until that afternoon as could be clearly established by the email correspondence between SiddharthVaradrajan, the editor of The Wire and I about the article he carried on 2nd January.

Freehand to the Police

On 2 January, a social worker and member of the BahujanRepublican Socialist Party, Anita Ravindra Salve lodged a complaint with the Shikrapur police station naming Ekbote and Bhide as the culprits for the attack on the Dalits the previous day. Nothing happened on this complaint. On 3 January, a call of Maharashtra Bandh was given by Prakash Ambedkar on 4 January, which went largely without any untoward incident. However, the Police actuated themselves thereafter and started arresting Dalit youths with the pretext of committing violence.

On January 8 one Tushar Damgade, an RSS functionary and a disciple of Sambhaji Bhide, filed an FIR naming some KabirKala Manch activists for organizing the Elgar Parishad, claiming that inflammatory speeches were given in the Parishad that caused violence on 1 January. It was prima facie a preposterous claim.

Firstly, the police themselves had witnessed the proceeding of the Elgar Parishad and had a complete video recording to verify the claim. If indeed there were any inflammatory speeches, they could have filed FIR themselves and acted against the speakers. There was no need to wait for nine days for someone to file an FIR.

Next, the provocation in the Elgar Parishad could only be addressed to Dalits. If so, they would not get beaten if they were incited. In the melee, a youth lost his life, which was initially taken as Dalit. Nonetheless, the police picked it up for executing scripted plan.

They raided houses of the named people. As though they got some clues they began insinuating that the Elgar Parishad was funded by the Maoists, ignoring the public statements by Justice Kolshe-Patil, the chief organizer of the Elgar Parishad along with Justice P B Sawant that they did not need any money.

Till today, having developed this event into a big conspiracy of the Maoists and misleading courts to believe in its lie, the Police haven’t enquired with these two justices to verify their premise. In the chargesheet, they have attached a statement attributed to Justice Sawant, which he has publicly denied. Even such a grave crime is ignored by the courts.

With the pretext of the Maoist funding theory, the Pune police, in a “joint operation” closely coordinated with the police of Nagpur, Mumbai and Delhi, raided the houses of and arrested five activists on 6 June 2018. They were no way connected with the Elgar Parishad.

Since the arrest, the police went on weaving stories–from claiming that the five persons were behind the violence that disrupted this years’ annual celebrations at BhimaKoregoan memorial, to saying they were supporting Naxalactivities to finally the most recent story – that they were plotting a “Rajiv Gandhi style” assassination of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. These stories came handy for the police to apply the dreaded UAPA, which does not leave one with any defence and can incarcerate him/her for years in jails.

Basically, these raids were used to get hold of the electronic devices of the victims that can then be used to yield whatever Police wanted to claim. The method of raids was strange. The raiding police would carry two witnesses from Pune to the distant places like Delhi, Nagpur, and Mumbai, making a mockery of laid down procedure. They would confine the inmates of the house in a room and carry the confiscated materials in another room for sealing.

Susan Abraham who is herself a lawyer and witnessed this process when her house was raided for her husband Vernon Gonsalvis, has described that the police had brought their own computers and other devices with them. The only claim the police make for their process of confiscation being foolproof and the judges faithfully accept it is that they videoed the complete process.

The judges would not care to understand that electronic devices could be tampered even remotely and any number of files could be transmitted within a matter of seconds. Video cannot be a method of establishing the integrity of electronic devices. I myself being the expert in Information Technology can prove this as fraudulent.

The integrity of the computer devices could only be guaranteed by a hash value generated by specific algorithm and unless that (both) are acknowledged by the victim, it can never be relied upon. The courts would take a blind view saying that it is a matter of trial, knowing fully well that it could take several years and until then an innocent person and his family could be completely ruined.

Police began claiming that they recovered letters (not mails—because mails are non-repudiable) from the computer of one of the arrestees purportedly written by the Maoists. The letters produced by the police were bizarre, speaking of real names of people providing their real phone numbers, etc.

That these letters were pure fabrication by the police can be seen by the manner they are worded. As though, the Maoists are running a government organization that elaborately communicates their plans and expects their recipients to preserve records for audit. They are known for their secrecy, using networks of human couriers, and insisting upon destruction of messages after they were read. Such an organization could not be communicating with its functionaries through essay like letters.

Many people analysed these letters in public domain and proved their fakeness. The experts such as Ajay Sahany, executive director of the Institute of Conflict Management, which deals with the studies of such organizations trashed them as fake.

Even Justice Chandrachud of the Supreme Court, the only judge who has gone into the merit of the police case, in his minority judgement faulted these letters and recommended the entire case be investigated by the SIT as prayed for Romila Thapar and other public intellectuals. But the strange process of law would not budge by these contra evidence and would be ready to sacrifice the lives of innocent people at the altar of the so called process of law, which itself in reality is worse than punishment.

These letters had names of Rahul Gandhi, Prakash Ambedkar, Digvijay Singh, etc. indicating that they were also accomplices of the Maoists’ plans. It squarely exposes the political intent of defaming these leaders. It is strange that the police would not even try to get the facts from these political people and the courts would not ask them why.

Strange Charges against Me

Along with others six activists, five of whom were arrested on 28 August, the Pune police raided my house too. They got the security person get the duplicate key and open the house in our absence without any warrant.

As written in the panchanama, they just videographed the interiors and locked back the house.

We were in Mumbai. As the TV channels flashed the news of our house being opened and searched, my wife rushed back by the next flight and lodged the complaint with the BicholimPolice Station providing our telephone numbers if the police wanted to ask us anything.

On August 31 the Additional Director General Police Shri Parminder Singh took a press conference in Pune and among others, flashed one letter in support of my involvement. The letter was written by someone supposed to be a Maoist to some Com Anand referring to a Paris Conference in April 2018, which appeared to be true. I did attend an academic conference along with many scholars from all over the world, which was organized by the American University of Paris.

It was hilarious in its narrative that indicated that the Maoists gave money to this university and asked them to invite me for it. It also suggested that they arranged with “Com. Étienne Balibar” (Professor Balibar is highly respected French Marxist scholar) that he would interview me (sic) and “Com. Anupama Rao and Shailaja Paik” (Professors teaching in Bernard College and Cincinnati University, respectively) that they would invite me to their universities as guest lectures.

I obtained the letter from NDTV and mailed it to Balibar and the organizer of the conference, Prof Lissa Lincoln. They were stunned by this canard and wrote back to me. Balibar angrily sent letter of protest and even written to the French Embassy. Prof Lincoln explained how the University invited me and bore the entire expense for my attendance.

On the basis of solid evidence, I decided to prosecute Paramjit Singh for defamationand wrote a letter to Maharashtra Government on 5 September seeking its permission as per the procedure. There is no response to it till today.

Meanwhile, since there was apparently no case against me and thinking that my letter to the government might have brought them a sense of guilt, I decided to file a petition for quashing FIR against me to the High Court. The Bench rightly asked the police to submit an affidavit listing all the things that they had against me. The Police submitted the affidavit listing five charges vide five letters, including one discussed above. In my reply, we refuted all their contention and proved that even if the letters were held as genuine, they do not make any triable case. The other four letters were:

Thee first letter written by someone to someone saying that some Anand has taken responsibility of organizing Ambedkar Periyar Study Circle (APSC), which came to limelight in 2015 when the IIT Madras administration derecognized them. I was then Professor in the Business school of IIT, Kharagpur, more than 2000 km away from Madras. If I had an inkling of organizing students, I could do it in my own IIT; not the most distant IIT. In any case, when the APSC learnt it in newspapers, a founding member sent me a letter saying that I did not have any role in their formation or activities.

The second letter, again written by someone to someone referred to some Anand making a “good suggestion” in the meeting of Anuradha Ghandy Memorial Committee (AGMC). Well, if that Anand also is identified with me, I am a member of the Trustalong with many other respectable members, which is a decade old registered body with its PAN, Bank Account, and respectable people as its members. It held public lectures by eminent scholars like Samir Amin and Angela Davis which were widely covered by the press. As for my role in the Trust or committee, I could not even attend their meetings and lectures barring a couple of them over the last ten years because I was physically away (at IIT Kharagpur from 2010 to 2016 and thereafter at Goa).

The third letter again written by someone to someone in which there is a reference to some Anand taking responsibility of organizing a fact finding into Gadchiroli encounter. Presuming the Anand in the letter is me, I am a General Secretary of Committee for Protection of Democratic Rights (CPDR), whose raison d’etre is to do fact finding into the cases of suspected human rights violations. However, the fact remains that neither I organized this committee nor participated in it. As a matter of fact, I have been a General Secretary initially in deference to the wishes of the last General Secretary, P A Sebastian and thereafter, at the insistence of its members although I was away from Maharashtra all this while.

The fourth one was a note allegedly recovered from someone’s computer that had a scribble: “Anand T .. 90T Surendra (through Milind)“. It is interpreted as I was paid Rs 90,000 by Surendrathrough Milind (sic). It was ridiculous and product of poor imagination to imagine that I would take such a money as I have been paying that kind of money every month in income tax for years. In any case, such scribbling is said to be no evidence in law.

My rejoinder to the Police Affidavit thus refuted all these charges. But at the end the Police gave some ‘sealed’ envelop to the judges and the court rejected my petition, without referring to any of my above refutations or my personal credentials whether the police claims could be plausibly connected with my profile.

Thinking that I had a strong case, I approached the Supreme Court but the court took a view that they would not interfere with the police investigation at this stage and asked me to seek a pre-arrest bail from the competent court.

[Resume here if you skipped the above paras]

The case has reached a crucial point where all my innocent beliefs stand shattered and I am devastated by the prospect of imminent arrest. There are nine of my co-accused already in jail facing harassment of the legal process. Unlike me, they did not have an opportunity to seek your help. Your standing in solidarity with me will not only lend me and my family strength to endure this torture but also may give a message to the fascist rulers that there are people in India who say NO to them.

Please therefore use this note to create signature campaign, issue statements, write articles, and whatever method you deem fit so as to create a visible public outrage against this vilest farce and to support me.

(Published as received by the well known scholar Dr. ANAND TELTUMBDE)

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250 Parliamentarians and Eminent Citizens write to Prime Minister to release funds for MGNREGA and to respond effectively to rural distress

Nearly 90 Members of Parliament and 160 eminent citizens including former bureaucrats, leading development economists, prominent activists and leaders of farmers’ movements have written an open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi calling for an urgent response to the crisis that the
Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee is facing. On January 1 st 2019, over 99% of MGNREGA funds had been exhausted and the acute funds crunch had brought the program close to a halt.

This is when a situation of distress prevails across rural India with massive unemployment, declining farm incomes and rising inequality. A functional right to an employment guarantee at such a time would be a critical means of support for protecting lives and livelihoods of the rural population. Instead, the implementation of MGNREGA has been subject to
persistent attacks by vested interests and power elites at all levels.

On 3 rd January 2019 a meeting between a Members of Parliament and civil society was held in Delhi to discuss the potential and challenges of MGNREGA in responding to rural distress. One of the outcomes of this meeting was a unanimous endorsement of a letter to the Prime Minister highlighting the ways in which MGNREGA is being undermined through the squeezing of funds and unaddressed payment delays that have lefts lakhs of workers unpaid for months. The meeting and excerpts from
the letter were widely covered by the media..

After the meeting the letter was circulated more widely and has now garnered the support of a total of 250 parliamentarians and eminent citizens.

The letter states- “we are alarmed to note that the country’s only employment guarantee is being systematically undermined. Illegal restrictions on its budget allocation, severe payment delays and low wages are crippling the program and depriving people in distress of one of their most important legally supported structures”.

The 250 signatories urge the PM to “make the strengthening of MGNREGA an urgent priority” and “formally include it as part of the set of measures being considered to deal with the current rural and agrarian crisis”. It
offers a set of concrete recommendations such as making adequate funds available to meet actual demand for employment and opening at least one labor intensive work in every gram panchayat

While the letter was being circulated for endorsement, we learnt that Rs 7000 crores have been released to the Ministry of Rural Development. This is a welcome move however the amount is still grossly inadequate and does not even cover pending liabilities totals Rs 9000 crores according to
MoRD’s website. Even with these additional funds, 91% of the money has already been utilized and after the payment of liabilities, state governments will not be able to provide any new employment reinstating status quo. Given that the lean agricultural season has begun, demand for work will be at its peak but the government will once again fail the rural poor by denying employment to those who need it the most, when they need it most.

This letter to the PM reflects a strong consensus across party lines to ensure MGNREGA is protected and strengthened as a political commitment to improving the lives of millions of rural workers across
the country.

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Red Rosa’ Luxemburg and the making of a revolutionary icon

Revolutionary socialists Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht were executed 100 years ago in Berlin. In the ensuing century, Luxemburg has become a cult figure for the left — and for feminists, artists and pacifists.

Buchcover Red Rosa von Kate Evans (Verso Books)

On Sunday morning, some 10,000 people braved the rain and cold to march through eastern Berlin and place red carnations at the graves of Rosa Luxemburg and her comrade, Karl Liebknecht.

The march was commemorating 100 years since the brutal execution of the two revolutionary socialists on January 15, 1919.

In the ensuing century, this diminutive Polish-born Jewish intellectual with a limp has become a cult icon for the revolutionary left. Yet she has also had a broader appeal, admired by feminists, socialists and pacifists.

She has become part of Germany’s cultural memory, immortalized in art, poetry, an award-winning biopic, a musical and a graphic novel. And in her own words too: as well as being a brilliant Marxist theorist, Luxemburg was a prolific writer of letters, and her emotive, lyrical writing has seen her emerge as a literary figure in her own right.

Read more: Rosa Luxemburg: A voice from behind bars

Rosa Luxemburg Film mit Margarethe von Trotta (picture-alliance/United Archives/Impress)

Film drama Rosa Luxemburg, directed by Margarethe von Trotta, won several awards in 1986

‘Those who do not move, do not notice their chains’

Luxemburg, who as a teenager fled Russian-occupied Poland due to her socialist activities, first attained her doctorate in Zurich before arriving in Berlin in 1898. She quickly rose through the ranks of the Social Democratic Party, the biggest labor movement in Europe at the time. Yet she broke with the SPD due to its support for World War I in 1914, helped form the breakaway Spartacist League in 1916 and spent most of the war in prison.

In November 1918, a revolt by sailors and soldiers led to the overthrow of the Hohenzollern monarchy and the end of the war. In December, the Spartacist League renamed itself the German Communist Party (KPD) and Luxemburg asserted that they would not try to seize power without the support of the majority of Germans. Yet when a second revolt broke out on January 5, 1919, she and Liebknecht gave the movement their full support. The uprising quickly faltered and the SPD leadership ordered the army and right-wing paramilitaries, the Freikorps, to crush it.

On the night of January 15, Luxemburg and Liebknecht were abducted, tortured in the luxury Hotel Eden, and then driven separately to the nearby Tiergarten Park and murdered. Liebknecht was delivered to the city morgue while Luxemburg was dumped into a canal.

Her body was only recovered five months later after the winter ice had thawed. She was buried next to Liebknecht in the Friedrichsfelde Cemetery.

Linke mit Stillem Gedenken an Rosa Luxemburg und Karl Liebknecht 12.1.2014 (picture-alliance/dpa)

Luxemburg and Liebknecht are commemorated every year on the second Sunday of January

Creation of a myth

Much of Luxemburg’s subsequent fame derives from this brutal murder, argues Mark Jones, a historian and writer of Founding Weimar. Violence and the German Revolution of 1918-1919.

“The destruction of the female body, the intense violence against it and the absence of any traditional kind of mourning leaves this trauma which impregnates German cultural thought about Rosa Luxemburg for the next 100 years,” he said.

The murder deeply divided the political left, something that undoubtedly contributed to the end of the Weimar Republic and the rise of the Nazis. As a result, after World War II, there was speculation about whether the Third Reich and the Holocaust could have been avoided had Luxemburg survived. She became a hugely popular figure for the radical student movement of 1968 and her opposition to World War I also resonated with the peace movement of the 1980s.

Read more: Why Germany’s 1968 movement has not failedWatch video03:13

Thousands honor Luxemburg, Liebknecht in Berlin

Meanwhile, the murder of “Rosa and Karl” was one of the key foundation myths of the East German state, said Jones.

However, though East Germany celebrated her as a martyr, it did not embrace Luxemburg’s political thought, particularly her criticism of Lenin and the Russian Bolsheviks’ putschist strategy and terror. 

And as dissent in the later years of the GDR grew, some marchers in January 1988 carried her words “Freedom is always the freedom of those who think differently” aloft, a deliberate rebuke of the totalitarian regime. 

Yet Jones argues that some of the hagiography surrounding Luxemburg often omits the fact that she did end up supporting political violence in January 1919. “People forget that before she was killed, when the violence of the second uprising was ongoing, she was publishing articles and a newspaper which called on workers to join in the armed struggle and to overthrow the state,” he said, adding that she rejected the option of a negotiated surrender even though the uprising was clearly failing and many civilians were being killed.

March commemorating Luxemburg and Liebknecht in East Berlin, 1988 (picture-alliance/dpa)

After the January 1988 march, several critics of the GDR regime were arrested for showing a banner with Luxemburg’s famous quote

Artistic representations of a ‘badass revolutionary’

Nonetheless, Luxemburg’s brutal killing ended up having a great cultural impact. Soon after her murder in 1919, artist Max Beckmann produced a series of lithographs, Die Hölle (Hell), which graphically depicted her murder, while a drawing by left-wing artist George Grosz showed justice as a ghost trailing a bloodstained robe across the open coffins of the two victims. In 1929, Bertolt Brecht wrote a commemorative poem, “Epitaph,” to mark the 10th anniversary of her death.

Read more: How artists captured the splendor and misery of the Weimar Republic

Architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe designed a monument to Liebknecht and Luxemburg, which was built in the Friedrichsfelde Cemetery in 1926. But the Nazis reviled Luxemburg, and the monument was razed to the ground in 1935.

Mies van der Rohe's Memorial to Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht (1926) (picture-alliance/akg-images)

Mies van der Rohe’s memorial to Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht in Berlin was destroyed by the Nazis

Following World War II, Luxemburg’s death continued to resonate. A 1960 painting by American artist R.B. Kitaj, The Murder of Rosa Luxemburg, the 1978 play Germania: Tod in Berlin by Heiner Müller, and works by artists and writers connected with the women’s movement, such as Americans May Stevens, Jane Cooper and Donna Blue Lachman, all grappled with her life and murder.

Rainer Werner Fassbinder was planning a film about her when he died in 1982. A few years later, Rosa Luxemburg, directed by Margarethe von Trotta, won Barbara Sukowa the best actress prize at Cannes in 1986. The film was regarded as a feminist retelling of her story as a liberated woman, though Luxemburg herself had little interest in organized feminism.

Red Rosa: A Graphic Biography of Rosa Luxemburg von Kate Evans (Verso)

Kate Evans revisits Luxemburg’s life in her graphic novel

More recently, the musical Rosa premiered at Berlin’s Grips Theater in late 2008, and in 2015 the British graphic novelist and activist Kate Evans depicted her story and political thought in her biography Red Rosa.

For Evans, it was important to go back to the political writings to counteract the “sentimentalization” of Luxemburg as a “sensitive, poetic flower.” In fact, said Evans, “she is a badass revolutionary, who is quite bristly and extremely forthright and dedicated in her views, an incredibly towering intellect.”

“Concentrating on her poetry or concentrating on her death, you are not giving true credence to her life,” she said. For Evans, it’s natural that so many people read different things into Luxemburg. “It’s the mark of someone who has left an interesting and complete body of work.”

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