Movement of thought

January 29, 2010

Howard Zinn: Good-bye Old Friend

Filed under: History — movementofthought @ 7:34 am

Howard Zinn, a renowned Peoples’  Historian, an activist, a sound marxist passed away at the age of 87. Here is a article on Him and His contribution to the humanity. It was first published on Kasamaproject.org…..Editor

 Who told the unknown stories of the people? Who dared enter Mississippi in the days of the lynching tree? Who spoke out against war after war after war? Who skewered the lies of the rich and imperial? Who taught rooms filled with eager young faces, year after year? Who signed every petition, spoke out against every injustice? Who helped invent the teach-in and the people’s history? Who studied, and wrote, and spoke tirelessly for those who could not read, or write, or be heard? Howard Zinn did. And now he is gone. Who among his countless students, comrades and friends will now step to the podium? Who will now fill his place? How many of us will it take? Good-bye old friend. We miss you already. * * * * * * * This was originally posted on boston.com. Howard Zinn, historian who challenged status quo, dies at 87 By Mark Feeney, Globe Staff Howard Zinn, the Boston University historian and political activist who was an early opponent of US involvement in Vietnam and a leading faculty critic of BU president John Silber, died of a heart attack today in Santa Monica, Calif, where he was traveling, his family said. He was 87. “His writings have changed the consciousness of a generation, and helped open new paths to understanding and its crucial meaning for our lives,” Noam Chomsky, the left-wing activist and MIT professor, once wrote of Dr. Zinn. “When action has been called for, one could always be confident that he would be on the front lines, an example and trustworthy guide.” For Dr. Zinn, activism was a natural extension of the revisionist brand of history he taught. Dr. Zinn’s best-known book, “A People’s History of the United States” (1980), had for its heroes not the Founding Fathers — many of them slaveholders and deeply attached to the status quo, as Dr. Zinn was quick to point out — but rather the farmers of Shays’ Rebellion and the union organizers of the 1930s. As he wrote in his autobiography, “You Can’t Be Neutral on a Moving Train” (1994), “From the start, my teaching was infused with my own history. I would try to be fair to other points of view, but I wanted more than ‘objectivity’; I wanted students to leave my classes not just better informed, but more prepared to relinquish the safety of silence, more prepared to speak up, to act against injustice wherever they saw it. This, of course, was a recipe for trouble.” Certainly, it was a recipe for rancor between Dr. Zinn and Silber. Dr. Zinn twice helped lead faculty votes to oust the BU president, who in turn once accused Dr. Zinn of arson (a charge he quickly retracted) and cited him as a prime example of teachers “who poison the well of academe.” Dr. Zinn was a cochairman of the strike committee when BU professors walked out in 1979. After the strike was settled, he and four colleagues were charged with violating their contract when they refused to cross a picket line of striking secretaries. The charges against “the BU Five” were soon dropped, however. Dr. Zinn was born in New York City on Aug. 24, 1922, the son of Jewish immigrants, Edward Zinn, a waiter, and Jennie (Rabinowitz) Zinn, a housewife. He attended New York public schools and worked in the Brooklyn Navy Yard before joining the Army Air Force during World War II. Serving as a bombardier in the Eighth Air Force, he won the Air Medal and attained the rank of second lieutenant. After the war, Dr. Zinn worked at a series of menial jobs until entering New York University as a 27-year-old freshman on the GI Bill. Professor Zinn, who had married Roslyn Shechter in 1944, worked nights in a warehouse loading trucks to support his studies. He received his bachelor’s degree from NYU, followed by master’s and doctoral degrees in history from Columbia University. Dr. Zinn was an instructor at Upsala College and lecturer at Brooklyn College before joining the faculty of Spelman College in Atlanta, in 1956. He served at the historically black women’s institution as chairman of the history department. Among his students were the novelist Alice Walker, who called him “the best teacher I ever had,” and Marian Wright Edelman, future head of the Children’s Defense Fund. During this time, Dr. Zinn became active in the civil rights movement. He served on the executive committee of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, the most aggressive civil rights organization of the time, and participated in numerous demonstrations. Dr. Zinn became an associate professor of political science at BU in 1964 and was named full professor in 1966. The focus of his activism now became the Vietnam War. Dr. Zinn spoke at countless rallies and teach-ins and drew national attention when he and another leading antiwar activist, Rev. Daniel Berrigan, went to Hanoi in 1968 to receive three prisoners released by the North Vietnamese. Dr. Zinn’s involvement in the antiwar movement led to his publishing two books: “Vietnam: The Logic of Withdrawal” (1967) and “Disobedience and Democracy” (1968). He had previously published “LaGuardia in Congress” (1959), which had won the American Historical Association’s Albert J. Beveridge Prize; “SNCC: The New Abolitionists” (1964); “The Southern Mystique” (1964); and “New Deal Thought” (1966). Dr. Zinn was also the author of “The Politics of History” (1970); “Postwar America” (1973); “Justice in Everyday Life” (1974); and “Declarations of Independence” (1990). In 1988, Dr. Zinn took early retirement so as to concentrate on speaking and writing. The latter activity included writing for the stage. Dr. Zinn had two plays produced: “Emma,” about the anarchist leader Emma Goldman, and “Daughter of Venus.” Dr. Zinn, or his writing, made a cameo appearance in the 1997 film ‘‘Good Will Hunting.’’ The title characters, played by Matt Damon, lauds ‘‘A People’s History’’ and urges Robin Williams’s character to read it. Damon, who co-wrote the script, was a neighbor of the Zinns growing up. Damon was later involved in a television version of the book, ‘‘The People Speak,’’ which ran on the History Channel in 2009. Damon was the narrator of a 2004 biographical documentary, ‘‘Howard Zinn: You Can’t Be Neutral on a Moving Train.’’ On his last day at BU, Dr. Zinn ended class 30 minutes early so he could join a picket line and urged the 500 students attending his lecture to come along. A hundred did so. Dr. Zinn’s wife died in 2008. He leaves a daughter, Myla Kabat-Zinn of Lexington; a son, Jeff of Wellfleet; three granddaugthers; and two grandsons. Funeral plans were not available

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January 22, 2010

यह रेखा ग़रीबों की गरदन से गुज़रती है

Filed under: Economics — movementofthought @ 7:14 am

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It was first published on aakhar.org….Editor

garibi rekhaउन्नीसवीं सदी के प्रसिद्ध समाजशास्त्री हरबर्ट स्पेंसर ने शायद सबसे पहली बार आधिकारिक तौर पर सामाजिक परिक्षेत्र में योग्यतम की उत्तरजीविता के मुहावरे का प्रयोग किया था। उनका मानना था कि ग़रीब लोग आलसी होते हैं, काम नहीं करना चाहते और जो काम नहीं करना चाहते उन्हें खाने का भी कोई अधिकार नहीं है। इसी आधार पर उनका तर्क था कि गरीबी उन्मूलन जैसी योजनाओं के ज़रिये सरकार का हस्तक्षेप न्यूनतम होना चाहिये। दरअसल, स्पेन्सर पूंजीवादी दुनिया के वैचारिक प्रतिनिधि के रूप में सामने आते हैं। जिस व्यवस्था के लिये ग़रीब सिर्फ़ बोझ हैं और देश-दुनिया के सारे संसाधनों पर सिर्फ़ पूंजीपति वर्ग का अधिकार है और जिसके मूल में ही असमानता का विमर्श अंतर्निहित है। यह व्यवस्था सीधे-सीधे समाज को दो हिस्सों में बांटती है, पहला जिसके पास संसाधनों का स्वामित्व है और दूसरा जो उसके हित में उसके लाभ की वृद्धि के लिये काम करने के बदले अपनी आजीविका कमाता है। ऐसे में लाभ को अधिकतम करने का मोह अपने कामगारों की विशाल आबादी को बस उतना ही देने के लिये प्रेरित करता है जितने से वह ज़िन्दा रह सके और उसके लिये काम कर सके। यह विचार सरणी ग़रीबी के लिये ग़रीबों को ही ज़िम्मेदार ठहराती है और इस तथ्य को छिपाती है कि पूंजीवादी विकास प्रक्रिया के मूल में ही आबादी के बड़े हिस्से का निरंतर विपन्न होते जाना अंतर्निहित है। सिमोन द बोऊवा ने पितृसत्तात्मक समाज में औरत के बारे में जो कहा था वही पूंजीवादी समाज में ग़रीब के लिये कहा जा सकता है – ग़रीब पैदा नहीं होते बनाये जाते हैं! जिस तरह लाभ और पूंजी का लगातार सीमित हाथों में संकेन्द्रीकरण होता है उसमे स्वाभाविक ही है कि आबादी के बड़े हिस्से से उसकी मिल्कियत छीनकर उसे सर्वहारा में तब्दील कर दिया जाये। अपने देश में सेज़ और ऐसी ही तमाम परियोजनाओं के नाम पर ज़मीनों पर बेतहाशा कब्ज़ा , कृषि के कारपोरेटीकरण द्वारा छोटे और मध्यम किसानों के विनाश और श्रम क़ानूनों में ढील के नाम पर श्रमिक की असुरक्षा में भयावह वृद्धि जैसी समकालीन प्रक्रियाओं में इस लाक्षणिकता को आसानी से लक्षित किया जा सकता है।

बीसवीं सदी के आरंभिक वर्षों में रूस सहित कई देशों में समाजवादी शासन व्यवस्थाओं की स्थापना और पूरी दुनिया में समाजवाद की एक विचार के रूप में प्रतिष्ठा तथा तद्जन्य सामाजिक- राजनैतिक आलोड़नों के बरअक्स पूंजीवाद के लिये मानवीय चेहरा अपनाना आवश्यक हो गया था। फिर भी तीस के दशक की महामंदी के दौर में क्लासिकल अर्थव्यवस्था के लैसेज़ फ़ेयरे ( सरकार के हस्तक्षेप से पूर्णतः मुक्त बाज़ार आधारित अर्थव्यवस्था) सिद्धांत को तिलांजलि देकर कीन्स की राज्य हस्तक्षेप पर आधारित नीतियों का लागू किया जाना पूरी दुनिया की पूँजीवादी व्यवस्थाओं की मज़बूरियों को प्रदर्शित करता था न कि उनकी प्रतिबद्धताओं और पक्षधरताओं में किसी परिवर्तन को। मंदी से उबरने के साथ ही जब कालांतर में पूंजीवाद ने ख़ुद को फिर मज़बूत किया तो इस सैद्धांतिक अवस्थिति में भी परिवर्तन हुआ और पाल ए सैमुएल्सन जैसे सिद्धांतकारों ने कीन्सीय तथा क्लासिकीय सिद्धांतो के घालमेल से नवक्लासिकीय सिंथेसिस की जिस अवधारणा को जन्म दिया था उसकी तार्किक परिणिति नव उदारवादी सिद्धांतों की पुनर्स्थापना के रूप में होनी तय थी। भारत सहित दुनिया के अधिकांश हिस्से में मिश्रित अर्थव्यवस्था की नीति के तहत कल्याणकारी राज्य की जो अवधारणा प्रस्तुत की गई थी वह नब्बे के दशक में सोवियत संघ के विघटन के बाद लागू संरचनात्मक संयोजन वाली नई आर्थिक नीतियों से प्रतिस्थापित कर दी गयी। वैसे यह कल्याणकारी राज्य भी मूलतः पूंजीपति वर्ग के कल्याण के लिये ही था। असल में, कीन्स ने मांग की कमी को मंदी का मुख्य कारण माना था। उसका मानना था कि जे बी से का नियम (जो कुछ उत्पादित हुआ है उसके लिये मांग भी है) अर्थव्यवस्था में लागू नहीं होता। लोगों के पास बाज़ार में उपलब्ध सामान ख़रीदने के लिये पैसे नहीं होते तो प्रभावी मांग घटने लगती है जिससे कालांतर में क़ीमतें गिरने लगती हैं और अंततः मंदी की स्थितियां उतपन्न होती हैं। इसीलिये उनका सुझाव था कि सरकारों को अपनी कल्याणकारी योजनाओं के माध्यम से लोगों की क्रय शक्ति को एक न्यूनतम स्तर पर बनाये रखना चाहिये। स्पष्ट तौर पर इस कल्याण में आर्थिक असमानता को दूर करने या फिर एक समतामूलक समाज की स्थापना का प्रस्ताव नहीं था। पूरा ज़ोर पूंजीवादी व्यवस्था को जीवित रखकर उत्पादकों के लिये स्थायी बाज़ार उपलब्ध कराना ही था। समाजवाद के तत्कालीन प्रभाव के चलते इन्हीं नीतियों को भारत सहित कई देशों में समाजवादी कहा गया जो निश्चित तौर पर सरकारों की आम जनता के पक्ष में नहीं अपितु पूंजीवादी व्यवस्था के प्रति प्रतिबद्धता का ही परिचायक था।

लेकिन नब्बे के दशक में यह आवरण अब और ज़रूरी नहीं रहा और नयी आर्थिक नीतियों के नाम पर जो नीतियां लागू कीं गईं उनके तहत ग़रीबों तथा वंचितों को दी जाने वाली तमाम सुविधायें धीरे-धीरे छीनी जाने लगीं। पश्चिमी देशों में यह प्रक्रिया पहले ही शुरु हो चुकी थी। उदाहरण के लिये मार्ग्रेट थैचर ले शासनकाल में 1980 में पेंशन निर्धारण के लिये औसत आय का आधार समाप्त कर दिया गया और 1987-88 में बच्चों पर मिलने वाली सुविधायें। इसके परिणाम भी उसी दौर में आने लगे थे – 1979 से 1997 के बीच ब्रिटेन में अमीरों और ग़रीबों के बीच की खाई अभूतपूर्व रूप से बढ गयी। यह दौर एक ध्रुवीय होते जा रहे विश्व में पूंजीवादी समाज की सोच, प्रतिबद्धता और आक्रामकता के नग्नतम रूप में सामने आने का दौर था।

भारत में भी इन नीतियों का प्रसार निश्चित तौर पर सरकारों की बदली प्रतिबद्धताओं का स्पष्ट प्रतिबिंबन था। इनके विस्तार में जाना तो इस लेख की विषयवस्तु के मद्देनज़र विषयांतर होगा लेकिन यह तो स्पष्ट है ही अपने आरंभिक दौर में कुछ तो मुक्ति आंदोलन और नई-नई मिली आज़ादी का हैंगओवर और कुछ देश-दुनिया में ज़ारी आँदोलन का दबाव में पूँजीवादी नीतियों को भी समाजवाद के मुलम्मे में पेश किये जाने का दौर नब्बे के दशक के आरंभ में ही इतिहास बन गया और साठ के दशक में अमेरिका में विकसित रिसाव के सिद्धांत को आधिकारिक तौर पर स्वीकार कर पूरा ज़ोर निजी पूंजी के विकास पर लगाया गया। आय तथा वितरण की असमानता में विस्तार अब कोई चिंता का विषय नहीं रह गया बल्कि इसे संवृद्धि के लिये आवश्यक मान कर स्वीकार किया गया और गरीबों तथा ज़रूरतमंदों की सहायता के लिये दी जाने वाली राशि को संसाधनों की बर्बादी के रूप में निरूपित किया गया। ग़रीबी हटाने जैसे कास्मेटिक नारे भी अब अतीत की बात बन गये। ऐसे में यह अनपेक्षित नहीं था कि पिछले दिनों जब भारत में ग़रीबी रेखा पर बहस के दौरान तमाम अर्थशास्त्रियों ने वास्तविक रूप से गरीबों की संख्या आधिकारिक आकड़ों से कई गुना बताई तो तर्क दिये गये कि अगर ग़रीबी रेखा से नीचे रहने वाले लोगों की संख्या इतनी बढ़ जायेगी तो उनके कल्याण के लिये लागू योजनाओं में धन का अतिरिक्त आवण्टन करना होगा जिसके लिये सरकार के पास पैसा नहीं है (सक्सेना समिति को लिखे गये योजना आयोग के पत्र से)! इसी सरकार के पास पिछले वर्ष पूँजीपतियों को विभिन्न सहायता और छूट के रूप में करोड़ रुपये देने के लिये पर्याप्त धन था!

ग़रीबी रेखा के रूप में ग़रीबी को निर्धारित करने का प्रस्ताव सबसे पहले 1957 में इण्डियन लेबर कांफ्रेंस के दौरान दिया गया था। उसी के बाद योजना आयोग ने एक वर्किंग ग्रुप बनाया था जिसने भारत के लिये आवश्यक कैलोरी उपभोग की अवधारणा पर आधारित ग़रीबी रेखा का प्रस्ताव किया। इसके तहत उस समय बीस रुपये प्रतिमाह को विभाजक रेखा के रूप में स्वीकृत किया गया। 1979 में योजना आयोग ने ही ग़रीबी को पुनर्परिभाषित करने करने के लिये एक टास्क फोर्स का गठन किया गया। लेकिन इसने भी मामूली फेरबदल के साथ मूलतः आवश्यक कैलोरी उपभोग की अवधारणा को ही आधार बनाया। 1973 की क़ीमतों को आधार बनाते हुए इसने ग्रामीण क्षेत्रों के लिये 49 रुपये प्रतिव्यक्ति प्रतिमाह तथा शहरी क्षेत्रों के लिये 57 रुपये की विभाजक रेखा तय की। मुद्रास्फीति के अनुसार इसमें समय-समय पर समायोजन किया गया और वर्तमान में यह शहरी क्षेत्रों के लिये 559 रुपये और गाँवों के लिये 368 रुपये है। योजना आयोग गरीबी रेखा के निर्धारण के लिये राष्ट्रीय तथा राज्य स्तर पर एन एस एस ओ के उपभोक्ता व्यय सर्वेक्षणों के आधार पर विभाजक रेखा तय करता है। 2004-2005 के लिये प्रोफेसर लकड़वाला की अध्यक्षता में 1997 में बने एक्स्पर्ट ग्रुप द्वारा की गयी अनुशंसा के आधार पर जो आंकड़े निकाले गये थे उनके अनुसार देश में उस समय ग़रीबों की कुल संख्या 28।3 प्रतिशत थी।

सेन्टर फार पालिसी आल्टरनेटिव की एक रिपोर्ट में मोहन गुरुस्वामी और रोनाल्ड जोसेफ़ एब्राहम इस ग़रीबी रेखा को भूखमरी रेखा कहते हैं। कारण साफ़ है। इसके निर्धारण का इकलौता आधार आवश्यक कैलोरी उपभोग है। यानि इसके अनुसार वह आदमी गरीब नहीं है जो येन के प्रकारेण दो जून अपना पेट भर ले और अगले दिन काम करने के लिये ज़िन्दा रहे। युनिसेफ़ स्वस्थ शरीर के लिये प्रोटीन, वसा, लवण, लौह और विटामिन जैसे तमाम अन्य तत्वों को ज़रूरी बताता है जिसके अभाव में मनुष्य कुपोषित रह जाता है तथा उसकी बौद्धिक व शारीरिक क्षमतायें प्रभावित होती हैं। लेकिन ग़रीबी रेखा तो केवल ज़िन्दा रहने के लिये ज़रूरी भोजन से आगे नहीं बढ़ती। इसके अलावा शायद व्यवस्था यह मानकर चलती है कि आबादी के इस हिस्से का स्वास्थ्य, शिक्षा, मनोरंजन, घर, साफ़ पानी, सैनिटेशन जैसी तमाम मूलभूत सुविधाओं पर तो कोई हक़ नहीं है। वैसे तो जिस आवश्यक कैलोरी उपभोग की बात की जाती है ( शहरों में 2100 तथा गांवों में 2400 कैलोरी प्रतिव्यक्ति प्रतिदिन) वह भी दिन भर शारीरिक श्रम करने वालों के लिहाज़ से अपर्याप्त है। इण्डियन काउंसिल आफ़ मेडिकल रिसर्च के अनुसार भारी काम में लगे हुए पुरुषों को 3800 कैलोरी तथा महिलाओं को प्रतिदिन 2925 कैलोरी की आवश्यकता है। यही नहीं, अनाज़ों की क़ीमतों में तुलनात्मक वृद्धि व उपलब्धता में कमी, स्वास्थ्य तथा शिक्षा जैसे क्षेत्रों में सरकार की घटती भागीदारी, विस्थापन तथा तमाम ऐसी ही दूसरी परिघटनाओं की रोशनी में यह रेखा आर्थिक स्थिति के आधार पर समाज को जिन दो हिस्सों में बांटती है उसमें ऊपरी हिस्से के निचले आधारों में एक बहुत बड़ी आबादी भयावह ग़रीबी और वंचना का जीवन जीने के लिये मज़बूर है और तमाम सरकारी योजनायें उसको लाभार्थियों की श्रेणी से उसके आधिकारिक तौर पर ग़रीब न होने के कारण बाहर कर देती है।

इसी वज़ह से भारत सरकार के ग़रीबी के आधिकारिक आंकड़े हमेशा से विवाद में रहे हैं। विभिन्न अंतर्राष्ट्रीय तथा दूसरी स्वतंत्र संस्थाओं के अध्ययनों में देश में वास्तविक ग़रीबों की संख्या के आंकड़े सरकारी आंकड़ों से कहीं ज़्यादा रहे हैं। अभी हाल ही में विश्व बैंक की ग्लोबल इकोनामिक प्रास्पेक्ट्स फार 2009 नाम से ज़ारी रिपोर्ट में अनुमान लगाया गया है कि 2015 में भारत की एक तिहाई आबादी बेहद ग़रीबी ( 1।25 डालर यानि लगभग 60 रुपये प्रतिदिन प्रतिव्यक्ति से भी कम आय) में गुज़ारा कर रहे हैं। इस रिपोर्ट के अनुसार यह स्थिति सब सहारा देशों को छोड़कर पूरी दुनिया में सबसे बद्तर होगी। यही नहीं, यह रिपोर्ट भारत की तुलनात्मक स्थिति के लगातार बद्तर होते जाने की ओर भी इशारा करती है। इसके अनुसार जहां 1990 में भारत की स्थिति चीन से बेहतर थी वहीं 2005 में जहां चीन में ग़रीबों का प्रतिशत 15।9 रह गया, भारत में यह बढ़कर 41।6 हो गया।

इन्हीं विसंगतियों के मद्देनज़र पिछले दिनों सरकार ने ग़रीबी रेखा के पुनर्निर्धारण के लिये जो नयी क़वायदें शुरु कीं उन्होंने इस ज़िन्न को बोतल से बाहर निकाल दिया है। सबसे पहले आई असंगठित क्षेत्र के उद्यमों के लिये गठित राष्ट्रीय आयोग (अर्जुन सेनगुप्ता समिति) की रिपोर्ट ने देश में तहलका ही मचा दिया था। इसके अनुसार देश की 77 फीसदी आबादी 20 रुपये रोज़ से कम में गुज़ारा करती है। दो अंको वाली संवृद्धि दर और शाईनिंग इण्डिया के दौर में यह आंकड़ा सच्चाई के घिनौने चेहरे से नक़ाब खींचकर उतार देने वाला था। समिति ने असंगठित क्षेत्र के लिये दी जाने वाली सुविधायें इस आबादी तक पहुंचाने की सिफ़ारिश की थी। लेकिन बात यहीं पर ख़त्म नहीं हुई। भारत सरकार द्वारा ग़रीबी रेखा के निर्धारण के लिये मानक तैयार करने के लिये ग्रामीण विकास मंत्रालय के पूर्व सचिव श्री एन के सक्सेना की अध्यक्षता में जो समिति बनाई थी उसके आंकड़े और भी चौंकाने वाले थे। इस समिति ने अगस्त-2009 में पेश अपनी रिपोर्ट में ग़रीबी रेखा से ऊपर रहने वालों के विभाजन के लिये पांच मानक सुझाये। जिसमें शहरी क्षेत्रों में न्यूनतम 1000 रुपये तथा ग्रामीण क्षेत्रों में न्यूनतम 700 रुपयों का उपभोग या पक्के घर या दो पहिया वाहन या मशीनीकृत कृषि उपकरणों जैसे ट्रैक्टर या ज़िले की औसत प्रतिव्यक्ति भू संपति का स्वामित्व। इस आधार पर समिति पर गरीबी रेखा के निर्धारण पर समिति ने पाया कि भारत की ग्रामीण जनसंख्या का कम से कम पचास फ़ीसदी इसके नीचे जीवनयापन कर रहा है। सक्सेना समिति ने खाद्य मंत्रालय के आंकड़ों का भी ज़िक्र किया है जिसके अनुसार गांवों में 10।5 करोड़ बीपीएल राशन कार्ड हैं। अगर इसी को आधार बनाया जाय तो भी गांवों में ग़रीबी रेखा से नीचे रह रहे लोगों की संख्या लगभग 53 करोड़ ठहरती है जो कुल आबादी का लगभग पचास फ़ीसदी है।

समिति का यह भी मानना कि जहां आधिकारिक तौर पर 1973-74 से 2004-05 के बीच ग़रीबी 56 प्रतिशत से घटकर 28 प्रतिशत हो गयी वहीं ग़रीबों की वास्तविक संख्या में कोई कमी नहीं आयी। अपने निष्कर्ष में वह कहते हैं कि ग़रीब परिवारों की एक बहुत बड़ी संख्या ग़रीबी उन्मूलन के कार्यक्रमों से बहिष्कृत रही है और ये निश्चित रूप से सुदूर क्षेत्रों में रहने वाले बेज़ुबान लोग ही होंगे।

लेकिन सरकार ने इस समिति की अनुशंसाओं को लागू करने से साफ़ इंकार कर दिया। योजना आयोग द्वारा समिति को लिखे गये पत्र का ज़िक्र पहले ही किया जा चुका है। ग्रामीण विकास मंत्री श्री सी पी जोशी ने इस पर प्रतिक्रिया व्यक्त करते हुए कहा था कि सक्सेना समिति को ग़रीबों की गणना करने के लिये नहीं सिर्फ़ ग़रीबों की पहचान करने के लिये नयी प्रणाली विकसित करने के लिये कहा गया था।

इस दौरान योजना आयोग के एक सदस्य अभिजीत सेन ने तर्क दिया था कि ग़रीबों की गणना आवश्यक कैलोरी उपभोग की जगह आय के आधार की जानी जानी चाहिये। उनका यह भी मानना था कि मौज़ूदा मानकों के आधार पर गणना से शहरी क्षेत्रों में ग़रीबों की वास्तविक संख्या 64 फ़ीसदी तथा गांवों में अस्सी फ़ीसदी है।

इस संदर्भ में केन्द्र सरकार द्वारा प्रधानमंत्री की आर्थिक सलाहकार समिति के तत्कालीन अध्यक्ष सुरेश तेंदुलकर समिति को ग़रीबों की संख्या की गणना की ज़िम्मेदारी दी गयी थी। इस आयोग की पिछले महीनें प्रस्तुत समिति की रिपोर्ट एक तरफ़ तो आवश्यक कैलोरी उपभोग वाली परिभाषा से आगे बढ़ने की कोशिश करती है तो दूसरी तरफ़ आंकड़ों में ग़रीबी कम रखने का दबाव भी इस पर साफ़ दिखाई देता है।

तेंदुलकर समिति के अनुसार 2004-05 में भारत की कुल आबादी का 37 2 फीसदी हिस्सा ग़रीबी रेखा के नीचे है। यह आंकड़ा योजना आयोग के 27 5 फीसदी से तो अधिक है लेकिन अभिजित सेन कमेटी या ऐसे अन्य अध्ययनों के निष्कर्षों से कम। हालांकि योजना आयोग से इसकी सीधी तुलना मानकों के परिवर्तन के कारण संभव नहीं है। आयोग के अनुसार बिहार तथा उड़ीसा में ग्रामीण ग़रीबी का प्रतिशत क्रमशः 55 7 तथा 60 8 है, उल्लेखनीय है कि सेन कमेटी के अनुसार इन दोनों प्रदेशों में ग्रामीण ग़रीबी का प्रतिशत 80 से अधिक था। आयोग ने ग्रामीण क्षेत्रों में ग़रीबी निर्धारण के लिये सीमारेखा 356 30 से बढ़ाकर 444 68 रुपये और शहरी क्षेत्रों में 538 60 रुपये से बढ़ाकर 578 80 की है। इस आधार पर दैनिक उपभोग की राशि शहरों में लगभग 19 रुपये और गांवों में लगभग 15 रुपये ठहरती है जो विश्वबैंक द्वारा तय की गयी अंतर्राष्ट्रीय ग़रीबी रेखा (20 रुपये) से कम है।

समिति ने आवश्यक कैलोरी वाले मानक को पूरी तरह समाप्त कर दिया है। इसकी जगह पर समिति का ज़ोर शिक्षा, स्वास्थ्य तथा अन्य क्षेत्रों में होने वाले ख़र्चों को भोजन के साथ समायोजित कर ग्रामीण तथा शहरी विभाजन को समाप्त कर क्रय शक्ति समानता पर आधारित एक अखिल भारतीय ग़रीबी रेखा के निर्धारण पर है। यह अवधारणा के रूप में 1973-74 वाले मानकों से निश्चित रूप से बेहतर हैं जिसमें शिक्षा और स्वास्थ्य जैसी तमाम ज़रूरतों को सरकार द्वारा मुफ़्त उपलब्ध कराये जाने की मान्यता पर आधारित थे। लेकिन आवश्यक कैलोरी उपभोग वाली अवधारणा को पूरी तरह से ख़त्म किया जाना, ख़ासतौर से तब जबकि पिछले दिनों अंतर्राष्ट्रीय खाद्य नीति अनुसंधान के अंतर्राष्ट्रीय भूख सूचकांक में भारत को 66 वें पायदान पर रखा गया है, और खाद्यान्न संकट, खाद्यान्नों की क़ीमतों में अभूतपूर्व तेज़ी तथा कुपोषण की समस्या लगातार गहराती गयी है, इसकी नीयत पर सवाल उठाता ही है। इस दौर में पेश की गयी इस अवधारणा का अर्थ होगा कि ग़रीबी रेखा से वास्तविक ग़रीबों का बहुलांश बाहर रह जायेगा। यहां पर यह भी बता देना आवश्यक है कि कई हालिया अध्ययन बताते हैं कि सबसे ग़रीब दस फ़ीसदी लोगों का कैलोरी उपभोग सबसे अमीर दस फ़ीसदी लोगों के कैलोरी उपभोग से कम है जबकि यह तो सर्वज्ञात तथ्य है कि जहां अमीर आदमी तमाम दूसरी पोषक चीज़ों का उपभोग करता है वहीं ग़रीबों का वह तबका अपनी लगभग पूरी आय भोजन पर ही ख़र्च करता है।

दरअसल मानकों के न्यायपूर्ण निर्धारण के लिये जहां एक तरफ़ आवश्यक कैलोरी उपभोग की अवधारणा को इण्डियन काउंसिल आफ़ मेडिकल रिसर्च की पूर्व में उद्धृत अनुशंसा के आधार पर और ऊंचे स्तर पर ले जाते हुए इसमें पोषण के लिये आवश्यक अन्य तत्वों के साथ समायोजित किया जाना चाहिये था और इसके साथ एक सम्मानजनक जीवनस्तर के लिये आवश्यक शिक्षा, स्वास्थ्य, मनोरंजन, घर, पीने का साफ़ पानी, सैनिटेशन जैसी तमाम चीज़ों से जोड़कर देखा जाना चाहिये था। इस संदर्भ में सेंटर फार आल्टरनेटिव पालिसी रिसर्च द्वारा मूलभूत आवश्यकताओं की क़ीमत पर आधारित ग़रीबी की विभाजक रेखा ज़्यादा न्यायपूर्ण लगती है जिसमें 2004-2005 के लिये अखिल भारतीय स्तर पर 840 रुपये प्रतिव्यक्ति प्रतिमाह का निर्धारण किया गया है ( विस्तार के लिये देखें (http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,953457,00 html#ix220×0pDZXVJ ) । इसके साथ ही एन के सक्सेना द्वारा सुझाये गये मानक भी सच के ज़्यादा करीब हैं।

साथ ही तेंदुलकर समिति ग़रीबी निर्धारण के आधारों में विस्तार के दावे के बावज़ूद ग़रीबी की बहुआयामी प्रकृति के बारे में कोई पहल नहीं करती। पहले की तमाम रिपोर्टों की तरह यह भी ग़रीबी को महज़ आर्थिक समस्या की तरह निरूपित करती है। इसके सामाजिक-सांस्कृतिक आयामों को समझे बिना इसे जड़मूल से समाप्त किया ही नहीं जा सकता। जाति, लिंग, शारीरिक अक्षमता, क्षेत्रीय असंतुलन जैसे तमाम कारक भारत में ग़रीबी को निर्धारित करते हैं।

दरअसल वस्तुस्थिति यह है कि ग़रीबी के इन तकनीकी निर्धारणों के मूल में उस बड़ी हक़ीक़त पर परदा डालना है कि इन सब क़वायदों के मूल में भयावह तरीके से विस्तारित होती आर्थिक असमानता की खाई के सवाल को दबाये रखना है। नई आर्थिक नीतियों से लाभान्वित होने वाले छोटे से तबके के प्रति अपनी स्पष्ट प्रतिबद्धता और सामाजार्थिक समानता के उद्देश्य को पूर्ण तिलांजलि दे चुकीं शासन व्यवस्थाओं के लिये ग़रीबी उन्मूलन की योजनायें एक तरफ़ तो जनाक्रोशों को दबाये रखने वाले सेफ़्टी वाल्व हैं तो दूसरी तरफ़ हर पांच साल पर होने वाले चुनावों के मद्देनज़र एक आवश्यक फ़िज़ूलखर्ची। शायद लोकतंत्र के तहत हर पांच साल पर जनता के बीच जाने की मज़बूरी ही वह वज़ह है कि धनकुबेरों के प्रति अपने स्पष्ट झुकाव के बावज़ूद सरकारें ग़रीबों के नाम पर थोड़ा-बहुत ख़र्च करती हैं – लेकिन जहां अमीरों को सुविधायें हक़ की तरह दी जाती हैं वहीं वंचितों को ख़ैरात की तरह। ऐसे में यह स्वाभाविक ही है कि ग़रीबी को एक असमाधेय समस्या के रूप में निरूपित कर नरेगा जैसी कुछेक योजनाओं द्वारा थोड़ा-बहुत लाभ एक सीमित आबादी तक पहुंचाया जाता है लेकिन भूमि सुधार, आय तथा व्यय पर करों द्वारा नियंत्रण तथा पुनर्वितरण जैसे बड़े और समस्या के जड़ पर प्रहार करने वाले उपाय सरकारों की कार्यसूची में शामिल ही नहीं होते। इस नई क़वायद के पीछे भी येन केन प्रकारेण आधिकारिक रूप से ग़रीबों की संख्या को न्यूनतम स्तर पर रखना है जिससे कि प्रस्तावित राष्ट्रीय खाद्य सुरक्षा क़ानून में सब्सीडियों पर नियंत्रण रखा जा सके। खाद्य एवं लोक वितरण मंत्रालय द्वारा राज्य सरकारों को प्रेषित इस क़ानून के अवधारणा पत्र में साफ़ किया गया है कि ग़रीबी रेखा के नीचे रहने वालों की संख्या के निर्धारण का अधिकार अनन्य रूप से केन्द्र सरकारों के पास ही रहेगा। राज्य सरकारों को टारगेटेड बीपीएल के अंतर्गत लाभान्वित होने वाले परिवारों की संख्या पर नियंत्रण रखने की ताक़ीद की गयी है। यह क़ानून इस सूची की सालाना समीक्षा को आवश्यक बना देगा। अपनी ड्राफ़्ट गाइडलाइन में यह पहले ही चेता चुका था कि अगर राज्य सरकारों पर बीपीएल सूची बनाने का काम छोड़ दिया गया तो भारत में ग़रीबी रेखा से नीचे रहने वालों की संख्या कुल ग्रामीण आबादी की 80-85 फ़ीसदी तक हो जाने की आशंका है। साफ़ है कि ऐसी नीयत के साथ बनने वाले खाद्य सुरक्षा क़ानून का हश्र भी कुछ दिनों पहले बने शिक्षा के अधिकार क़ानून जैसा ही होना है।

ग़रीबी रेखा के रूप में आय या आवश्यक कैलोरी उपभोग के किसी एक ख़ास आंकड़े को विभाजक बना देना रोज़ बदलती क़ीमतों और रोज़गार की अनिश्चितता की रोशनी में दरअसल एक भद्दा मज़ाक है। जब दाल 90 रुपये, चावल 20 रुपये, आटा 17 रुपये किलो बिक रहा है, डाक्टरों की फीस आसमान छू रही है, दवायें इतनी मंहगी हैं और बसों तथा रेलों से कार्यस्थल तक पहुंचने में ही 10-15 रुपये ख़र्च हो जाते हैं तो दिल्ली में बैठकर यह तय करना कि 15 या 20 रुपये रोज़ में एक आदमी अपना ख़र्च चला सकता है और उससे अधिक पाने वालों को सहायता देने की कोई ज़रूरत नहीं है उस सरकार की प्रतिबद्धता को स्पष्ट कर देता है जो पिछले साल पिछले बज़ट में पूंजीपतियों को सहायता और करों में छूट के रूप में 4,18,095 करोड़ रुपयों की सौगात दे चुकी है। सरकार की पक्षधरता तो तभी स्पष्ट हो गयी थी जब मंदी से निपटने के नाम पर तो बेल आऊट पैकेज़ों के नाम पर अकूत राशि बांटी गयी लेकिन जिन लोगों ने अपने रोज़गार गंवाये या जिनकी तनख़्वाहों में कटौतियां की गयीं उन लोगों की सुरक्षा या इस संकट से उनके बेल आऊट के लिये कोई कदम उठाने की ज़रूरत महसूस नहीं की गयी। जनता के पक्ष में खड़ी एक सच्ची समाजवादी सरकार ऐसी स्थितियों में ग़रीबी के आंकड़ों पर नियंत्रण की जगह उन मूलभूत कारणों की जड़ों पर प्रहार करने की कोशिश करती जिनकी वज़ह से अर्थव्यवस्था में विषमता की ऐसी भयावह फांक पैदा होती है। वह प्रयास करती कि विलासिता की वस्तुओं के उत्पादन में हो रहे संसाधनों के अपव्यय पर रोक लगा उन्हें अनाज़, शिक्षा, दवाओं और आम जन के उपभोग की ऐसी ही तमाम दूसरी चीज़ों के उत्पादन की तरफ़ मोड़कर जनता को इन्हें सस्ती क़ीमतों पर उपलब्ध कराया जाय। वह शिक्षा को बाज़ार के हाथों सौंपकर आम जन से दूर कर देने की जगह क्यूबा की तरह डाक्टरों की ऐसी फ़ौज़ पैदा करती जो न सिर्फ़ अपने देश बल्कि दुनिया भर के ग़रीब देशों में सस्ती और स्तरीय चिकित्सा उपलब्ध कराते। लेकिन भयावह ठंढ में कपड़ों में आग लगाकर पूर्ति को नियंत्रित करने वाली ( देखें पार्टी फॉर सोशलिज्म एण्ड लिबरेशन की वेबसाइट) वालमार्ट जैसी कंपनियों के स्वागत को बाहें पसारे लोग ऐसा सोच भी कैसे सकते हैं?

Why So Many People Died In The Earthquake… And Why The U.S. Can Do No Good In Haiti

Filed under: Politics — movementofthought @ 5:04 am

By Li Onesto

Li Onesto is a committed communist.She is a member of RCP[revolutionary communist party of America]. She is expert on Nepal and has written several articles and books on Nepal. Here she exposes real motive and ill desiegn of American aid in earthquake devasted Haity. It was first published on countercurrents.org   -Editor

A whole city that once had a population of two million people. Now there is mile after mile of buildings collapsed after a huge earthquake. Many, many bodies are sandwiched between layers of heavy concrete slabs lying in huge heaps. But there are also many people, perhaps thousands, still alive, trapped inside, crying out. For days help from the outside still hasn’t arrived and desperate relatives continue to dig at the rubble with their bare hands. Amazingly, even after three days, human voices are still emanating from the ruins. But then, there are fewer and they are softer. Eventually a deafening quiet surrounds the crumbled buildings as the city of Port-au-Prince becomes a vast tomb. One woman continues to hit at the concrete with a broom. She believes her four missing relatives are buried inside and hopes they will respond. But hope eventually turns to grief. “There’s no more life here,” she says. Another woman stands outside a collapsed trade school where her brother is buried. She has been listening for any signs of life—even a soft moan. Her eyes fill with tears as she dials her brother’s cell phone again and again. “He’s gone,” she says. Even without serious injuries, those trapped beneath the rubble will most likely die after 72 hours. But no heavy moving equipment has arrived and there are still hardly any medical supplies for the injured. Some foreign rescue teams are now on the ground. But this is only a drop in the bucket of what is needed. In New York City, in the Haitian community of East Flatbush, many hearts are aching with intense sorrow and worry. So many don’t know if their loved ones in Haiti are dead or alive. A young woman eating in a neighborhood restaurant says, “I’ve been crying for three days. This is the first time I’ve been out of the house.” In the nearby laundromat two older women sit waiting for their clothes to dry, staring up at TV scenes of the carnage in the city that was once their home. They look to be in a state of shock and softly say they have been trying to call home but no phones are working so they have no idea what has happened to their family. Intense grief is just waiting to pour out—but no one can get any information, so a sliver of hope remains. There are estimates that at least 100,000 have died. And when the rubble is finally cleared, this number could skyrocket even more. No human being could have stopped the earthquake that hit with such killing force on January 12. But so many of the people who have perished in Port-au-Prince DID NOT HAVE TO DIE. The earthquake was a natural disaster. But the situation which led to so many casualties was not natural. Thousands who in fact could have been saved died needlessly because rich and powerful countries which do have the resources to rescue people—most especially the United States—failed to provide such aid in the immediate aftermath of the earthquake. In fact, the survivors who against all odds were rescued from the rubble—only underscores how many more people could have in fact been saved—but instead died—because the U.S. did not do everything possible to get rescue teams and equipment to Haiti right away. This amounts to nothing less than mass murder. The Economist wrote: “[T]he majority of victims did not perish during the 35-second tremor. Ted Constan of Partners in Health, an American NGO, says that some 200,000 people were probably injured or trapped but not killed by the quake. He estimates that an additional 25,000 of them have died on each day that has passed since the tremor, as a result of treatable ailments such as bleeding, dehydration, suffocation and infection.” (economist.com, January 18, 2010) U.S. Delivers Not Aid But a Killing Delay The U.S. is the most powerful country on earth. It is only a few hundred miles from Haiti. But in the crucial days after the earthquake the U.S. failed to deliver the food, water, medical supplies, and rescue teams and medical personnel so badly needed. And the $100 million of aid Obama has promised is an insult given the wealth of the U.S. and the enormity of this tragedy. This is less than one-tenth of one percent of U.S. yearly military expenses in Iraq and Afghanistan. The first U.S. airdrop of food and water did not even happen until Monday, January 18—a week after the earthquake. And CNN reported there were no deliveries the next day because the U.S. was still assessing target areas that would be secure. Other countries with less resources and much farther away managed to get rescue teams on the scene right away. Within 48 hours, the International Search and Rescue Team from Iceland, fully equipped and self-sufficient for up to seven days in the field, deployed immediately with tons of tools and equipment, water, tents, advanced communications equipment and water purifying capability. On Friday night, more than three days after the earthquake, it was reported that tons of supplies stacked up at airports, not moving. And while mainstream news continued to warn of looting and chaos, reporters in Port-au-Prince said there was little violence, that people were desperately trying to find and rescue loved ones, help the injured and survive. Marguerite Laurent, an award-winning playwright and performance poet living in the U.S., was able to reach a woman in Haiti who told her: “With my bare hands, I pulled my two daughters out from the rubble myself but I can’t get them to a working hospital. I searched all night Tuesday to find them in the dark and under the concrete. My other two are dead. I don’t have a way to fly to the Dominican Republic for care. The doctors say one crushed leg must be amputated but they don’t have the equipment to do so. There’s too many dead people at the hospital. I am carrying her somewhere else. I don’t know where. There’s no water or food to give them. I can’t get inside the house to recover anything. We are in the streets.” Ansel Herz, an independent journalist living in Haiti, reported, “People are in the streets. People are in the public squares, looking, waiting for some kind of help. But there’s really not much of it forthcoming at all that I’ve seen. I was in the streets all day yesterday and the day before since the earthquake. I didn’t see a single aid worker or a single official aid convoy from the Haitian government or from an aid agency or from the peacekeeping force that’s here, the United Nations.” (Democracy Now!, January 14, 2010) Meanwhile, as bodies piled up in the streets, U.S. efforts were NOT being focused on organizing and helping to facilitate the thousands of medical people, rescue workers, and others from the U.S. and around the world who want to help. Instead the U.S. military was being mobilized as the main force to go into Haiti in the wake of this horrendous disaster. While over 10,000 naval, air and ground forces were getting ready to be dispatched by the Pentagon, the U.S. government sent only 300 medical personnel. U.S. search-and-rescue teams only dug out 15 people from the rubble. The Christian Science Monitor reported that from the very beginning the U.S. Defense Department response focused on “making initial assessments,” instead of getting relief supplies to the people. The U.S. is sending some 10,000 Army, Navy and Marine forces, a Navy aircraft carrier, and Special Forces under the United States Southern Command (SOUTHCOM). General Douglas Fraser, commander of SOUTHCOM defined the Haiti emergency operation as a Command, Control, Communications operation (C3). At a press conference Fraser was asked to explain why other countries were able to quickly get rescue teams and aid into Haiti while the U.S. did not do this. Fraser replied, “From practice, we’ve found that the assessments are critical to making sure we get the right equipment in there and make the recovery efforts and the life-supporting efforts as efficient as possible. So the worst thing that we can do is put a lot of equipment forward that we don’t know whether or not we’ll need.” This merits repeating: Fraser said the worst thing in such a crisis is sending too much help. In actual fact, the worst thing—which is what the U.S. made sure happened—is that thousands needlessly died because efforts and resources were not focused on immediately getting medical and rescue teams and supplies into Haiti. U.S. Sabotage of Relief Efforts The total lack of a functioning government in Haiti has been used to legitimize the U.S. basically coming in and taking over. Very quickly the U.S. took control of the airport—which means it is deciding what goes in and out of Haiti. And this has been a key way that the U.S. has in fact prevented food and medicine from being delivered. Aid organizations are criticizing the U.S. for misplaced priorities—saying U.S. officials have focused efforts not on getting aid into the country but on getting their people and troops installed and rescuing U.S. citizens. UNICEF tried to send a plane full of medical kits, blankets and tents, but was denied permission to land and was forced to return to Panama. On Saturday, January 16, the World Food Program was finally able to land airplanes with food, medicine and water—after being diverted on Thursday and Friday so that the U.S. could land troops and equipment, and lift Americans and other foreigners to safety. Jarry Emmanuel, the air logistics officer for the agency’s Haiti effort said, “There are 200 flights going in and out every day, which is an incredible amount for a country like Haiti. But most of those flights are for the United States military.” Emmanuel went on to say, “Their priorities are to secure the country, ours are to feed. We have got to get those priorities in sync.” The U.S. claims it is doing all it can to help the Haitian people. But the real truth that has emerged is that in the crucial days right after the earthquake the U.S. was not only not delivering aid—but actually sabotaging the efforts of others who were urgently trying to get medicine, food, water and teams of doctors and rescue workers into Haiti. Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) issued a statement demanding that its cargo planes carrying essential medical and surgical material be allowed to land in Port-au-Prince. They argue that priority must be given immediately to planes carrying lifesaving equipment and medical personnel. This was in response to the fact that despite guarantees given by the United Nations and the U.S. Defense Department, an MSF cargo plane carrying an inflatable surgical hospital was blocked from landing in Port-au-Prince on Saturday. It was re-routed to Samana in the Dominican Republic and the material then had to be sent by truck from Samana. It needs to be asked—how many people died because of this 48-hour delay in the arrival of the mobile hospital? On Friday night, a Belgian medical team evacuated the area, saying it was concerned about security. CNN initially reported, based on conversations with some of the doctors, that the UN ordered the Belgian First Aid and Support Team to evacuate. Later Geert Gijs, the doctor who is the Chief Coordinator of the Belgian team of 60 medical personnel, said it was his decision to pull the team out for the night. He said he asked UN security personnel to staff the hospital overnight, but was told that peacekeepers would only be able to evacuate the team. The decision left CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Sanjay Gupta as the only doctor at the hospital to get the patients through the night. He was assisted by other CNN staffers and at least one Haitian nurse who refused to leave—but the team took their medical supplies with them, limiting what he could do. The Belgian team returned in the morning. Even retired Army Lt. Gen. Russel Honoré, who served as the task force commander for relief efforts following Hurricane Katrina in 2005—who in fact presided over the National Guard pointing guns in people’s faces—has been critical of the U.S. response in Haiti. On Thursday he said, “I thought we had learned that from Katrina, take food and water and start evacuating people…. I thought we could have had a faster start.” Honoré said that even in the chaos of Katrina he had never seen medical staff walk away. “I find this astonishing these doctors left,” he said. “People are scared of the poor.” So while the U.S. sabotaged relief efforts it has also been creating a whole atmosphere where even those trying to help are being given a false sense of impending danger and violence—which, in the case of the Belgian medical team, led them to sacrifice lives because of “security concerns.” Humanitarian flights from France, Brazil, and Italy were refused permission to land, and the Red Cross reported one of its planes was diverted to Santo Domingo, the capital of the neighboring Dominican Republic. France’s ambassador to Haiti, Didier le Bret, said France’s foreign minister Bernard Kouchner lodged a protest with the U.S. State Department after the U.S. blocked a French flight carrying an emergency field hospital. He said Port-au-Prince airport was “not an airport for the international community. It’s an annex of Washington…. We were told it was an extreme emergency, there was need for a field hospital. We might be able to make a difference and save lives.” French officials later backed down from these statements (one has to wonder if the U.S. put pressure on them to do this). French Presidential counselor Claude Guéant said, “The U.S., who have a very sizeable Haitian community, have decided to make a considerable effort…. Now is really not the time to express rivalries between countries.” With the U.S. in command of outgoing flights, one of the first priorities was to evacuate Americans, even as the U.S. blocked the efforts of French and Canadian officials to get their citizens out. Eventually U.S. soldiers lifted their cordon and allowed others through, but not until after U.S. military planes had flown more than 250 Americans from Haiti to New Jersey’s McGuire Air Force Base. In fact, this seems to be right in line with what Obama said at his press conference on Haiti, that: “We have no higher priority than the safety of American citizens…. And you should know that we will not rest until we account for our fellow Americans in harm’s way.” At Port-au-Prince’s Municipal Nursing Home, barely one mile from the U.S.-controlled airport, 85 elderly Haitians are starving and being attacked by rats. One man, Joseph Julien, has already died. Officials cited fights over food at a nearby soccer stadium to justify not sending them supplies. Nursing home administrator Jean Emmanuel told the Associated Press: “I’m pleading for everyone to understand that there’s a truce right now, the streets are free, so you can come through to help us.” Laying the Basis for Even More Crimes Against the Haitian People The media and government narrative—that the real problem is the danger of looting and chaos—is being used, in effect, to blame the Haitian people themselves for the U.S. delay. Here, it needs to be asked: What is the definition of “looting” in an extreme crisis like this? Is it a crime for people who are desperately in need of food and water to go inside a store and get what they need? Should people be shot if, in the midst of a total breakdown of commerce and services, they take what they need to prevent themselves and their children from dying? And the actual truth is that the whole time the U.S. has been saying this, there has been very little violence among the people. Instead, and despite getting no help, the masses of people have been working together to try and rescue people, digging at the rubble with their bare hands, trying to tend to the injured and help each other survive amidst the rubble. There were reports of many Haitians walking from other areas of Haiti for hours to get to Port-au-Prince to help people. It was the Haitian people themselves—many who were injured themselves—who did everything they could in the first life-and-death 72 hours to save those who were trapped under the rubble—while the U.S. was not even on the scene. When U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visited Port-au-Prince on Saturday, she argued for an emergency decree in Haiti that would allow the imposition of curfews and martial-law conditions by U.S. forces. Clinton explained: “The decree would give the government an enormous amount of authority, which in practice they would delegate to us.” And we should remember: This is the same army that has invaded, occupied and brutalized the Haitian people for decades. This is the same U.S. military that was sent into New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, pointed guns in people’s faces as they tried to escape the floodwaters, and prevented people from coming to New Orleans to help. This is the same U.S. military that rains down bombs in Afghanistan and Iraq, murders, imprisons and tortures innocent people all over the world. On Friday two military officials were quoted in the press explaining that U.S. forces in Haiti will be operating under an adaptation of standard military rules of engagement—which means they can shoot people in self defense. U.S. soldiers in Port-au-Prince have reportedly been told to be discreet about how they carry their M4 assault rifles. But we have to ask: Why has the U.S. put more effort into getting men with assault rifles into Haiti than doctors and emergency workers with medicine and rescue equipment? The U.S. has also announced that Haitians trying to get to the U.S. in this crisis will not qualify for TPS (Temporary Protected Status)—which means they will be deported immediately. Homeland Security announced it would move 400 detainees from the Krome detention facility to an undisclosed location, to free up space in case any Haitians manage to reach U.S. shores. This is part of “Operation Vigilant Sentry” which calls for clearing space at Miami’s Krome detention center by moving existing detainees to other facilities. And U.S. officials have said some people could be housed temporarily at the U.S. Navy base at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. The U.S. is the richest country in the world. It has tremendous resources to take in people who are trying to leave such a horrible and unlivable situation. But instead it has vowed to lock up and deport any Haitians who seek safety in the U.S. Meanwhile President Abdoulaye Wade of the poor country of Senegal proposed that African nations offer Haitian survivors the chance to resettle in Africa, “the land of their ancestors.” “Africa should offer Haitians the chance to return home. It is their right,” Wade said on his website. Senegalese officials have reportedly offered Haitian refugees parcels of fertile land. The U.S. is giving—or at least has promised—just enough aid so it cannot be criticized as it was after the Sri Lanka tsunami of 2004 and Hurricane Katrina. But even this was not delivered in the most crucial days right after the earthquake. As Toby O’Ryan asks in his article, “Seven Questions on Haiti”: “Are you giving this aid in such small amounts and so slowly because you are more concerned to maintain the repressive government authority in Haiti than you are about meeting the urgent and immediate needs of the Haitian people by getting the aid directly to the people and allowing them to collectively organize to distribute it in a time of crisis, when the ordinary authorities are not totally in control?” To get at this important point a bit further, the question could be examined from another angle: The hearts of people around the world ached as they watched the horror unfold in Haiti. Contributions of money, medicine and supplies have been pouring in. And thousands have been trying to come to the aid of the Haitian people. Doctors, rescue teams, relief workers and ordinary people are all coming at this situation from the starting point of the urgent need to save human lives. So while it is completely outrageous and maddening to see what the U.S. is and isn’t doing, it may seem incomprehensible. For some it looks like the U.S. is just a lumbering, inept bureaucratic machine. That the problem is corruption or incompetence. People might ask, what could be more simple than recognizing that people are dying, they need help, and especially rich countries with so many resources should do all they can to save lives? But all the evidence shows that saving lives is NOT the concern and calculus governing the actions of the U.S. in its response to this horrible human tragedy. Its response to the earthquake in Haiti shows that first and foremost what the U.S. is concerned with is maintaining the status quo of existing oppressive economic control over Haiti and the repressive political relations required to enforce that. It is concerned with keeping control and stabilizing the situation so things don’t develop in a way that threatens U.S. domination. It is concerned with preventing uncontrolled immigration to the United States. It is acting to safeguard and further its economic and geo-political interests in the Caribbean region. Every move the U.S. is making in Haiti right now is governed by these cold imperialist calculations—not regard for human life. When the U.S. Marines take control of the airport in Port-au-Prince, the message is: The U.S. is in charge and we’re going to be setting the terms for everything that goes on here. Why is Haiti So Poor? Why Did So Many Have to Die? With the eyes of the world on Haiti, many people are seeing how intense poverty severely multiplied the earthquake’s toll. But people need to ask, WHY is Haiti so poor? And WHY did you have a city like Port-au-Prince where so many people were so vulnerable to the devastating effects of such an earthquake? First of all, Haiti is poor and impoverished because of a long history of U.S. domination and oppression. U.S. Marines invaded and occupied Haiti from 1915 until 1934. The U.S. seized land and distributed it to American corporations. And the heroic resistance that arose against the U.S. was brutally crushed. Starting in 1957 the U.S. propped up the pro-U.S. dictatorial Duvalier governments—first Papa and then Baby Doc—and the murderous Haitian military, along with the Tontons Macoute gangs that terrorized the people. After popular uprisings ousted these dictators the U.S. maneuvered and intervened—opposing any forces that threatened U.S. interests and working to keep a puppet government in power. In 2004, the U.S. was directly involved in overthrowing the popularly elected president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide. (See “The U.S. in Haiti: A Century of Domination and Misery.”) Through all this, the economic and social structures of Haiti have been distorted and geared toward serving the needs of foreign, especially U.S., investments. All this is why Haiti is so poor and dependent. Over 80 percent of people in Haiti live in abject poverty. Over half the population lives on less than a dollar a day. Over 80 percent of the people do not get the minimum daily ration of food as defined by the World Health Organization. Less than 45 percent have access to potable water. Life expectancy in Haiti is 53 years. Only one in every 100,000 Haitians have access to a physician. Speaking of the U.S. role in Haiti, Bill Quigley, legal director at the Center for Constitutional Rights, said: “We have kept the country dependent. We have kept the country militarized. And we kept the country impoverished. We have dumped our excess rice, our excess farm produce and that stuff on the country, thereby undercutting the small farmers who would make up the backbone of the place… We didn’t create the earthquake, but we created some of the circumstances that made the earthquake so devastating….” (Democracy Now!, January 14, 2010) The extremely impoverished conditions of Haiti, including the lack of infrastructure—that created a situation in which the earthquake was so devastating—is due to the long history of U.S. domination. Mechanism of Imperialist Domination Thirty years ago the Haitians subsisted on corn, sweet potatoes, cassava and domestic rice—along with domestic pigs and other livestock production. Then in 1986 the International Monetary Fund (IMF) loaned Haiti $24.6 million—but only on the condition that Haiti reduce tariff protections on Haitian rice, other agricultural products and some industries. This was aimed at opening up the country’s markets to competition from outside countries. Haitian farmers could not compete with rice growers in the U.S., who were being subsidized by the U.S. government. Some of the cheap rice that flooded into Haiti was in the form of “food aid.” The local rice market in Haiti collapsed and thousands of farmers were forced to move to the cities to look for work. Around this same time the U.S. insisted that the Haitian peasantry do away with its huge and valuable pig population—due to a supposed threat to the U.S. pig population. These are key factors in why there is so much hunger in Haiti today. This was powerfully expressed in the food riots in 2008. Imported rice, which had now become the staple of the Haitian diet, doubled in price—and people could not afford to eat. Many were forced to eat and sell cakes made of mud and vegetable oil to stave off hunger pangs. In 1994 the U.S. made it possible for Jean-Bertrand Aristide, who had been forced out of the country, to resume his presidency—but only on the condition that he implement IMF and World Bank (WB) policies aimed at opening Haiti’s markets even more to international trade. This is how Haiti’s agriculture was destroyed and how it became dependent on imported food, especially rice from the U.S. And in only a few decades hundreds of thousands of people were driven from the rural areas into Port-au-Prince—and forced to live in the most impoverished living conditions, where unemployment in some areas is as high as 90%. Port-au-Prince used to have only 50,000 people in the 1950s. But when the earthquake hit, over 2 million people lived in this capital city. And tens of thousands died because they were in shantytowns, substandard housing, schools and other buildings that collapsed because they were so badly and cheaply built. Brian Concannon, director of the Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti, talked about why so many people lived on the hillsides where they were vulnerable to the effects of an earthquake: “They got there because they or their parents or grandparents were pushed out of Haiti’s countryside, where most Haitians used to live. And they were pushed out of there by policies thirty years ago, when it was decided by the international experts that Haiti’s economic salvation lay in assembly manufacture plants. And in order to advance that, it was decided that Haiti needed to have a captive labor force in the cities. So a whole bunch of aid policies, trade policies and political policies were implemented, designed to move people from the countryside to places like Martissant and the hills—hillsides that we’ve seen in those photos [of the devastation].” (Democracy Now!, January 14, 2010) Dangerous Conditions of Impoverishment As part of enforcing imperialist relations of domination, the World Bank and IMF have imposed structural adjustment policies on Haiti—requiring the government to reduce or eliminate many social service programs in order to repay foreign debt. Growing poverty in the countryside has severely affected the very landscape—including exacerbating conditions that make things more dangerous when things like hurricanes or earthquakes occur. For example less than two percent of Haiti’s forests remain—most have been cut down for export or for the charcoal industry. Some have been destroyed because poor people have cut down trees to make charcoal to survive. When hurricanes struck Haiti in 2008 more than 1,000 people died around the town of Gonaïves. This was in large part due to flooding and landslides from erosion caused by deforestation. Dr. Paul Farmer, who runs an organization called Partners in Health, saw how the absence of trees created flash-floods that sweep people away. Farmer said, “It’s the ecological disaster that underpins the entire process. And again, the chaos and the ecological disasters are caused by humans and not the wrath of God.” Many of the farmers and peasants forced into Port-au-Prince in the last few decades have ended up unemployed and living in shantytowns of cheaply constructed housing—shacks of cinderblocks, tin and sometimes even straw. When the earthquake hit, these and other structures, like schools made of concrete without any reinforced steel, were some of the most vulnerable buildings that quickly became deathtraps. For more than a decade geologists have warned of the likelihood of a major quake in southern Haiti, where the faultline between the North American and Caribbean tectonic plates runs. And as recently as 2008, the mayor of Port-au-Prince estimated that 60 percent of the capital’s buildings would be unsafe in the event of a major quake. But in a poor country like Haiti there is no money for quake-proofing structures which have been shoddily built. Last year a school in Pétionville, a wealthy suburb of Port-au-Prince, collapsed just by itself. U.S. Interests and Plans for Haiti In the wake of this huge tragedy in Haiti, the U.S. continues to press forward its plans to further dominate and exploit the Haitian people. Obama put George W. Bush and Bill Clinton in charge of U.S. aid to Haiti. Bush’s resume for this job is that he is the one who presided over the crimes against the people in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. Bill Clinton’s credentials are that he is the point man for a much-praised plan for Haiti that involves setting up tourist areas and sweatshops where Haitians will be paid 38 cents an hour. If you really want to talk about looting—and on a grand scale—this is what Bill Clinton had to say after the earthquake: “Once we deal with the immediate crisis, the development plans the world was already pursuing have to be implemented more quickly and on a broader scale. I’m interested in just pressing ahead with it. Haiti isn’t doomed. Let’s not forget, the damage from the earthquake is largely concentrated in the Port-au-Prince area. That has meant a tragic loss of life, but it also means there are opportunities to rebuild in other parts of the island. So all the development projects, the agriculture, the reforestation, the tourism, the airport that needs to be built in the northern part of Haiti—everything else should stay on schedule. Then we should simply redouble our efforts once the emergency passes to do the right sort of construction in Port-au-Prince and use it to continue to build back better.” In other words, Clinton now sees the massive destruction in Haiti as an opportunity to press forward with his plans for setting up profitable sweatshops and tourist areas. Clinton has already enlisted Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines into investing $55 million to build a pier along the coastline of Labadee, which it has leased until 2050. According to the Miami Herald: The $40 million plan involves transforming various small towns into tourist villages, eco-tourism, archaeological exploration and visits to Vodou rituals. Clinton’s plan also includes a major expansion of the sweatshop industry in Haiti and the U.S. has already put in place provisions for duty-free treatment of Haitian apparel exports. U.S. Guilty of Mass Murder The U.S. government and the bourgeois media continue to paint the U.S. as the most generous and caring country that will “not forget the Haitian people.” In his speech pledging aid to the Haitian people Obama said, “Our nation has a unique capacity to reach out quickly and broadly and to deliver assistance that can save lives.” But everything the U.S. has been doing is aimed NOT at rescue and relief, is NOT helping the Haitian people—but has in fact meant many more deaths and much more suffering. As the January 13 statement from Revolution newspaper said: “There must be struggle against this system to demand that the needs of the masses actually be met and that there NOT be suppression of the masses.”

January 21, 2010

U.S.-China Military Tensions Grow

Filed under: Politics — movementofthought @ 8:43 am

by Rick Rozoff

US will spend $708 billion on defence [read offence] next year. Who is the enemy? Russia, china or people of third world? What is the real motive behind this extraordinary huge defence budget? Rick Rozoff tells all about. It was first published on globalresearch.ca …..Editor

Even though the U.S. military budget is almost ten times that of China’s (with a population more than four times as large) and Washington plans a record $708 billion defense budget for next year compared to Russia spending less than $40 billion last year for the same, China and Russia are portrayed as threats to the U.S. and its allies.

China has no troops outside its borders; Russia has a small handful in its former territories in Abkhazia, Armenia, South Ossetia and Transdniester. The U.S. has hundreds of thousands of troops stationed in six continents.

While Gates was in charge of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and responsible for almost half of international military spending he was offended that the world’s most populous nation might desire to “deny others countries the ability to threaten it.”

On December 23 of last year Raytheon Company announced that it had received a $1.1 billion contract with Taiwan for the purchase of 200 Patriot anti-ballistic missiles. In early January the U.S. Defense Department cleared the transaction “despite opposition from rival China, where a military official proposed sanctioning U.S. firms that sell arms to the island.” [1]

The sale completes a $6.5 billion weapons package approved by the previous George W. Bush administration at the end of 2008. In the words of the Asia bureau chief of Defense News, “This is the last piece that Taiwan has been waiting on.” [2]

Defense News first reported on the agreement and reminded its readers that “Raytheon already won smaller contracts for Taiwan in January 2009 and in 2008 for upgrades to the Patriot systems the country already had. Those contracts were to upgrade the systems to Configuration 3, the same upgrade the company is completing for the U.S. Army.”

The source also described what the enhanced Patriot capacity consisted of: “Configuration 3 is Raytheon’s most advanced Patriot system and allows the use of Lockheed Martin’s Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) missiles [and] Raytheon’s Guidance Enhanced Missile-Tactical [Patriot-2 upgrade] missiles….” [3]

The PAC-3 is the latest, most advanced Patriot missile design and the first capable of shooting down tactical ballistic missiles. It is the initial tier of a layered missile shield system which also includes Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD), Ground Based Interceptor (GBI), Ground-Based Midcourse Defense (GMD), Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD), ship-based Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense equipped with Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) interceptors, Forward Based X-Band Radar (FBXB) and Exoatmospheric Kill Vehicle (EKV) components. An integrated network that ranges from the battlefield to the heavens. 

The system is modular and highly mobile and its batteries are thus more easily able to evade detection and attack. It also extends the range of previous Patriot versions several fold. 

“[T]he PAC-3 interceptors, enhanced by [an] advanced radar and command center, are capable of protecting an area approximately seven times greater than the original Patriot system.” [4]

If like the rest of the world Chinese authorities anticipated a reduction if not halt in the pace of American global military expansion with the advent of a new administration in Washington a year ago, like everyone they else have been rudely disabused of the notion.

Vice Foreign Minister He Yafei urged the United States to reconsider the Taiwan arms package in the sixth official Chinese warning in a week earlier this month, telling his nation’s Xinhua News Agency that “China had strongly protested the U.S. government’s recent decision to allow Raytheon Company and Lockheed Martin Corp. to sell weapons to Taiwan” and “The U.S. arms sales to Taiwan undermine China’s national security.” [5]

Later information added to the inventory and to China’s ire when it was revealed that “the Obama Administration would soon announce the sale to Taiwan of a package worth billions of U.S. dollars including Black Hawk helicopters, anti-missile systems and plans for diesel-powered submarines in a move likely to anger China.” [6]

In addition, the China Times reported that Taiwan was to obtain eight second-hand Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigates from the U.S. in addition to the 200 Patriot missiles. The warships were designed in the 1970s as comparatively inexpensive alternatives to World War II-era destroyers. The new deal will double the amount of U.S. Perry-class frigates that Taiwan already possesses to 16.

They will also factor into missile defense and at a higher level, as “The island hopes to arm them with a version of the advanced Aegis Combat System (see above), which uses computers and radar to take out multiple targets, as well as sophisticated missile launch technology….” [7]

While both Washington and Taipei will present the weapons transactions as strictly defensive in nature, it is worth recalling that last autumn Taiwan conducted its “largest-ever missile test…launched from a secretive and tightly guarded base in southern Taiwan” with missiles “capable of reaching major Chinese cities.” [8]

President Ma Ying-jeou observed the missile launches which “included the test-firing of a top secret, newly developed medium-range surface-to-surface missile with a range of 3,000 kilometres, capable of striking major cities in central, northern and southern China.” [9]

The Patriot Advanced Capability and SM-3 interceptor missiles the U.S. is providing Taiwan could well be employed to counter a mainland Chinese counterattack or at the least protect the launch sites of Taiwanese medium range missiles which, as noted above, are capable of hitting most of China’s major cities.

Beijing responded on January 11 by conducting a ground-based midcourse interceptor missile test over its territory.

Professor Tan Kaijia of the People’s Liberation Army’s (PLA) National Defense University told Xinhua “If the ballistic missile is regarded as a spear, now we have succeeded in building a shield for self-defense.” [10]

Time Magazine characterized the significance of the test in writing: “There’s no chance China’s gambit will deter the U.S. from backing Taiwan….But the test does signal a ratcheting up of tensions between Beijing and Washington….” [11]

Both China and the U.S., the first in 2007 and the second the following year, with a Standard Missile-3 fired from an Aegis-class frigate in the Pacific Ocean in the American case, destroyed satellites in orbit. The dawn of space war had begun.

A January 15 feature on a Russian website titled “Possible space wars in the near future” provided background information. “It is hard to overestimate the role played by military satellite systems. Since the 1970s, an increasingly greater number of troop-control, telecommunications, target-acquisition, navigation and other processes depend on spacecraft which are therefore becoming more important…The space echelon’s role is directly proportional to the development level of any given nation and its armed forces.” [12]

China and Russia for years have been advocating a ban on the use of space for military purposes, annually raising the issue in the United Nations. The U.S. has just as persistently opposed the initiatives.

To comprehend the context in which recent developments have occurred, Washington has for three years increasingly and tenaciously included China and Russia with Iran and North Korea as belligerents in prospective future conflicts.

The campaign began in earnest in February of 2007 when then and still Pentagon chief Robert Gates testified before the U.S. House Armed Services Committee on the Defense Department Fiscal Year 2008 Budget Request and said among other matters:

“In addition to fighting the global war on terror, we also face the danger posed by Iran and North Korea’s nuclear ambitions and the threat they pose not only to their neighbors, but globally because of their record of proliferation; the uncertain paths of China and Russia, which are both pursuing sophisticated military modernization programs; and a range of other flashpoints and challenges….We need both the ability for regular force-on-force conflicts because we don’t know what’s going to develop in places like Russia and China, in North Korea, in Iran and elsewhere.” [13]
  
If it be objected that Gates was only alluding to general contingency plans, ones that could apply to any major nation, neither his comments nor any by U.S. defense officials since have mentioned fellow nuclear powers Britain, France, India and Israel in a similar vein, but have reiterated concerns about Russia and China with an alarming consistency. In fact China and Russia have been substituted for Iraq in the former axis of evil category.

Even though the U.S. military budget is almost ten times that of China’s (with a population more than four times as large) and Washington plans a record $708 billion defense budget for next year compared to Russia spending less than $40 billion last year for the same, China and Russia are portrayed as threats to the U.S. and its allies. China has no troops outside its borders; Russia has a small handful in its former territories in Abkhazia, Armenia, South Ossetia and Transdniester. The U.S. has hundreds of thousands of troops stationed in six continents.

Russia and China both reacted harshly to Gates’ statements in February of 2007 and only three days afterward, with Gates in the audience, Russian President Vladimir Putin delivered a speech at the annual Munich Security Conference in which he warned:

“[W]hat is a unipolar world? However one might embellish this term, at the end of the day it refers to one type of situation, namely one centre of authority, one centre of force, one centre of decision-making. 

“It is world in which there is one master, one sovereign. And at the end of the day this is pernicious not only for all those within this system, but also for the sovereign itself because it destroys itself from within.” 

“Unilateral and frequently illegitimate actions have not resolved any problems. Moreover, they have caused new human tragedies and created new centres of tension. Judge for yourselves: wars as well as local and regional conflicts have not diminished….And no less people perish in these conflicts – even more are dying than before. Significantly more, significantly more!

“Today we are witnessing an almost uncontained hyper use of force – military force – in international relations, force that is plunging the world into an abyss of permanent conflicts.”

“One state and, of course, first and foremost the United States, has overstepped its national borders in every way. This is visible in the economic, political, cultural and educational policies it imposes on other nations….” [14] 

The warning was not heeded in Washington.

Three months later the Pentagon chief resumed his earlier accusations. In May of 2007 the Defense Department issued its annual report on China’s military capability, citing “continuing efforts to project Chinese power beyond its immediate region and to develop high-technology systems that can challenge the best in the world.”

“U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates says some of China’s efforts cause him concern.”

The report said “China is pursuing long-term, comprehensive transformation of its military forces” to “enable it to project power and deny other countries the ability to threaten it.” [15]  While Gates was in charge of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and responsible for almost half of international military spending he was offended that the world’s most populous nation might desire to “deny others countries the ability to threaten it.” 

A year after Gates linked China and Russia with surviving “axis of evil” suspects Iran and North Korea, National Director of Intelligence Michael McConnell singled out China, Russia and the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) as the main threats to the United States, even more than al-Qaeda.

The Voice of Russia responded to McDonnell’s accusations in a commentary that included these excerpts:

“Russia has demanded an explanation from America over a report by the Director of American national intelligence in which Russia, China, Iraq, Iran, North Korea and al-Qaida are described as sources of strategic threats to the U.S….Quite possibly, the report by the U.S intelligence community amounts to accounting for the staggering sums of money that is allocated yearly for its upkeep. There could be other reasons to explain why Russia has been included among states posing a threat to America.” [16]

Gates has remained as defense secretary for the new American administration and so has the anti-Chinese and anti-Russian rhetoric.

On May 1 of last year Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that “The Obama administration is working to improve deteriorating U.S. relations with a number of Latin American nations to counter growing Iranian, Chinese and Russian influence in the Western Hemisphere….” [17] The month after she spoke those words a military coup was staged in Honduras and two weeks after that the U.S. secured the use of seven military bases in Colombia.

In September Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair issued the U.S.’s quadrennial National Intelligence Strategy report which said “Russia, China, Iran, and North Korea pose the greatest challenges to the United States’ national interests. [18]

Agence France-Presse said that “The United States on [September 15] put emerging superpower China and former Cold War foe Russia alongside Iran and North Korea on a list of the four main nations challenging American interests” and quoted from Blair’s report:

China was fingered for its “increasing natural resource-focused diplomacy and military modernization.”

“Russia is a US partner in important initiatives such as securing fissile material and combating nuclear terrorism, but it may continue to seek avenues for reasserting power and influence in ways that complicate US interests.” [19]

China is not allowed to deny other nations the ability to threaten it and Russia is not permitted to complicate U.S. interests.

The trend, ominous in its relentlessness, continues into this year.

The vice president of Lockheed Martin’s Missile Defense Systems, John Holly, touted his company’s role in the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense System – components of which are being delivered to Taiwan – as “the shining star” of Lockheed’s interceptor missile portfolio, and according to a newspaper in the city which hosts the Pentagon’s Missile Defense Agency “Pointing to missile programs in North Korea, Iran, Russia and China, Holly said, ‘the world is not a very safe world … and it is incumbent upon us in industry to provide [the Pentagon] with the best capabilities.'” [20]

Three days afterward the Pentagon’s Assistant Secretary of Defense for Asian and Pacific Security Affairs Wallace Gregson “voiced doubts about China’s insistence that its use of space is for peaceful means” and stated “The Chinese have stated that they oppose the militarization of space. Their actions seem to indicate the contrary intention.” [21]

The next day Admiral Robert Willard, head of the U.S. Pacific Command, stated in testimony before the House Armed Services Committee that China’s “powerful economic engine is also funding a military modernization program that has raised concerns in the region — a concern also shared by the U.S. Pacific Command.” [22]

The U.S. Navy has six fleets and eleven aircraft carrier strike groups in or available for deployment to all parts of the world, but China with only a “brown water” navy off its own coast is a cause for concern to the U.S.

As Alan Mackinnon, the chairman of the Scottish Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, wrote last September:

“The world of war is today dominated by a single superpower. In military terms the United States sits astride the world like a giant Colossus. As a country with only five per cent of the world’s population it accounts for almost 50 per cent of global arms spending.

“Its 11 naval carrier fleets patrol every ocean and its 909 military bases are scattered strategically across every continent. No other country has reciprocal bases on US territory – it would be unthinkable and unconstitutional. It is 20 years since the end of the Cold War and the United States and its allies face no significant military threat today. Why then have we not had the hoped-for peace dividend?

Why does the world’s most powerful nation continue to increase its military budget, now over $1.2 trillion a year in real terms?

What threat is all this supposed to counter?

“The US response has been largely military – the expansion of NATO and the encirclement of Russia and China in a ring of hostile bases and alliances. And continuing pressure to isolate and weaken Iran.” [23]

Observations to be kept in the forefront of people’s minds as China is increasingly presented as a security challenge – and a strategic threat – to the world’s sole military superpower.

Buried Evidence

Filed under: Politics — movementofthought @ 7:23 am

For the ‘main land Indians’, Kashmir is a heaven. But for the common Kashmiries it has become hell. Who is responsible for that? Common kahsmiries , militants or Mighty Indian state with 14 lakhs army along with lacs of paramilitary forces and police? What are these all powerfull men doing in kashmir? Here is a priliminary fact finding report about Kashmir conducted by Gautam navlakha, parvej emron, angana p chaterji, zahir-ud-din, mihir desai, khurram parvej on behalf of International people’s tribunal on human rights and justice in Indian-administered kashmir.

Click on this link to read the full report – Editior.

January 17, 2010

The Militarization of Emergency Aid to Haiti: Is it a Humanitarian Operation or an Invasion? by Michel Chossudovsky

Filed under: Politics — movementofthought @ 8:17 am

 

This article was first published on global research…..Editor

 Haiti has a longstanding history of US military intervention and occupation going back to the beginning of the 20th Century. US interventionism has contributed to the destruction of Haiti‘s national economy and the impoverishment of its population.

The devastating earthquake is presented to World public opinion as the sole cause of the country’s predicament.

A country has been destroyed, its infrastructure demolished. Its people precipitated into abysmal poverty and despair.

Haiti’s history, its colonial past have been erased.

The US military has come to the rescue of an impoverished Nation. What is its Mandate?

Is it a Humanitarian Operation or an Invasion?

The main actors in America’s “humanitarian operation” are the Department of Defense, the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). (See USAID Speeches: On-The-Record Briefing on the Situation in Haiti, 01/13/10). USAID has also been entrusted in channelling food aid to Haiti, which is distributed by the World Food Program. (See USAID Press Release: USAID to Provide Emergency Food Aid for Haiti Earthquake Victims, January 13, 2010)

The military component of the US mission, however, tends to overshadow the civilian functions of rescuing a desperate and impoverished population. The overall humanitarian operation is not being led by civilian governmental agencies such as FEMA or USAID, but by the Pentagon.

The dominant decision making role has been entrusted to US Southern Command (SOUTHCOM).

A massive deployment of military hardware personnel is contemplated. The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen has confirmed that the US will be sending nine to ten thousand troops to Haiti, including 2000 marines. (American Forces Press Service, January 14, 2010)

Aircraft carrier, USS Carl Vinson and its complement of supporting ships has already arrived in Port au Prince. (January 15, 2010).  The  2,000-member Marine Amphibious Unit as well as and soldiers from the U.S. Army’s 82nd Airborne division “are trained in a wide variety of missions including security and riot-control in addition to humanitarian tasks.”  

In contrast to rescue and relief teams dispatched by various civilian teams and organizations, the humanitarian mandate of the US military is not clearly defined: 

“Marines are definitely warriors first, and that is what the world knows the Marines for,… [but] we’re equally as compassionate when we need to be, and this is a role that we’d like to show — that compassionate warrior, reaching out with a helping hand for those who need it. We are very excited about this.” (Marines’ Spokesman, Marines Embark on Haiti Response Mission, Army Forces Press Services, January 14, 2010)

While presidents Obama and Préval spoke on the phone, there were no reports of negotiations between the two governments regarding the entry and deployment of US troops on Haitian soil. The decision was taken and imposed unilaterally by Washington. The total lack of a functioning government in Haiti was used to legitimize, on humanitarian grounds, the sending in of a powerful military force, which has de facto taken over several governmental functions.  


TABLE 1

US Military Assets  to be Sent to Haiti. (according to official announcements)

The amphibious assault ship USS Bataan (LHD 5) and amphibious dock landing ships USS Fort McHenry (LSD 43) and USS Carter Hall (LSD 50).

A 2,000-member Marine Amphibious Unit from the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit and soldiers from the U.S. Army’s 82nd Airborne division.  900 soldiers are slated to arrive in Haiti by January 15th.

Aircraft carrier, USS Carl Vinson and its complement of supporting ships. (arrived in Port au Prince on January 15, 2010):  USS Carl Vinson CVN 70

The hospital ship USNS Comfort

Several U.S. Coast Guard vessels and helicopters

 

USS Carl Vinson

The three amphibious ships will join aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson, guided-missile cruiser USS Normandy and guided-missile frigate USS Underwood.


USS Normandy


Leading Role of US Southern Command

US Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) with headquarters in Miami is the “lead agency” in Haiti. Its mandate as a regional military command is to carry out modern warfare. Its stated mission in Latin America and the Caribbean is  “to conduct military operations and promote security cooperation to achieve U.S. strategic objectives.” (Our Mission – U.S. Southern Command (USSOUTHCOM) The commanding officers  are trained to oversee theater operations, military policing as well “counterinsurgency” in Latin America and the Caribbean, including the recent establishment of new US military bases in Colombia, within proximity of the Venezuelan border. 

General Douglas Fraser, commander of U.S. Southern Command has defined the Haiti emergency operation as a Command, Control, Communications operation (C3). US Southern Command is to oversee a massive deployment of military hardware, including several warships, an aircraft carrier, airborne combat divisions, etc:

“So we’re focused on getting command and control and communications there so that we can really get a better understanding of what’s going on. MINUSTAH [United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti], as their headquarters partially collapsed, lost a lot of their communication, and so we’re looking to robust that communication, also.

We’re also sending in assessment teams in conjunction with USAID, supporting their efforts, as well as putting in some of our own to support their efforts.

We’re moving various ships that we had in the region — they’re small ships, Coast Guard cutters, destroyers — in that direction, to provide whatever immediate assistance that we can on the ground.

We also have a U.S. Navy aircraft carrier, the USS Carl Vinson, moving in that direction. It was at sea off of Norfolk, and so it’s going to take a couple of days for it to get there. We need to also just resupply it and give it the provisions it needs to support the effort as we look at Haiti. And then we’re looking across the international agencies to figure out how we support their efforts as well as our efforts.

We also are looking at a large-deck amphibious ship with an embarked Marine Expeditionary Unit on it that will be a couple of days behind the USS Vinson.

And that gives us a broader range of capability to move supplies around, to have lift capability to help support the effort there also.

So bottom line to it is, we don’t have a clear assessment right now of what the situation on the ground is, what the needs within Port-au-Prince are, how extensive the situation is.

We also, finally, have a team that’s headed in to the airport. From my understanding — because my deputy commander just happened to be in Haiti when this situation happened, on a previously scheduled visit. He has been to the airport. He says the runway is functional but the tower doesn’t have communications capability. The passenger terminal — has structural damage to it, so we don’t know what the status of it is.

So we have a group going in to make sure we can gain and secure the airfield and operate from it, because that’s one of those locations we think we’re going to have a lot of the immediate effort from an international basis going into.

And then we’re out conducting all the other assessments that you would consider appropriate as we go in and work this effort.

We’re also coordinating on the ground with MINUSTAH, with the folks who are there. The commander for MINUSTAH happened to be in Miami when this situation happened, so he’s right now traveling back through and should be arriving in Port-au-Prince any time now. So that will help us coordinate our efforts there also, because again, obviously the United Nations suffered a significant loss there with the collapse — at least partial collapse of their headquarters.

So that’s — those are the initial efforts that we have ongoing And as we get the assessments of what’s coming next, then we’ll adjust as required.

The secretary of Defense, the president, have all stipulated that this is a significant effort, and we’re corralling all the resources within the Department of Defense to support this effort.” (Defense.gov News Transcript: DOD News Briefing with Gen. Fraser from the Pentagon, January 13, 2010)

A Heritage Foundation report summarizes the substance of America’s mission in Haiti: “The earthquake has both humanitarian and U.S. national security implications [requiring] a rapid response that is not only bold but decisive, mobilizing U.S. military, governmental, and civilian capabilities for both a short-term rescue and relief effort and a longer-term recovery and reform program in Haiti.” (James M. Roberts and Ray Walser, American Leadership Necessary to Assist Haiti After Devastating Earthquake, Heritage Foundation, January 14, 2010).

At the outset, the military mission will be involved in first aid and emergency as well as public security and police activities.  

US Air Force Controls the Airport

The US Air Force has taken over air traffic control functions as well as the management of Port au Prince airport. In other words, the US military regulates the flow of emergency aid and relief supplies which are being brought into the country in civilian planes. The US Air Force is not working under the instructions of Haitian Airport officials. These officials have been displaced. The airport is run by the US Military (Interview with Haitian Ambassador to the US R. Joseph, PBS News, January 15, 2010)

“The FAA’s team is working with DOD combat controllers to improve the flow of air traffic moving in and out of the airport. The US Air Force reopened the airport on 14 January, and on 15 January its contingency response group was granted senior airfield authority … Senior airfield authority enables the Air Force to prioritise, schedule and control the airspace at the airport, …” (flightglobal.com, January 16, 2010, emphasis added) 

The 1,000-bed U.S. Navy hospital ship, USNS Comfort, which includes more than 1,000 medical and support personnel has been sent to Haiti under the jurisdiction of Southern Command. (See  Navy hospital ship with 1,000 beds readies for Haiti quake relief, Digital Journal, January 14, 2010). There were, at the time of the Earthquake, some 7100 military personnel and over 2000 police, namely a foreign force of over 9000. In contrast, the international civilian personnel of MINUSTAH is less than 500. MINUSTAH Facts and Figures – United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti


TABLE 2

United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH)

Current strength (30 November 2009)

9,065 total uniformed personnel

7,031 troops
2,034 police 488 international civilian personnel
1,212 local civilian staff
214 United Nations Volunteers

MINUSTAH Facts and Figures – United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti

Estimated combined SOUTHCOM and MINUSTAH forces; 19,095*

*Excluding commitments by France (unconfirmed) and Canada (confirmed 800 troops). The US, France and Canada were “partners” in the February 29, 2004 Coup d’État. 


Haiti has been under foreign military occupation since the US instigated February 2004 Coup d’Etat. The contingent of US forces under SOUTHCOM combined with those of MINUSTAH brings foreign military presence in Haiti to close to 20,000 in a country of 9 million people. In  comparison in Afghanistan, prior to Obama’s military surge, combined US and NATO forces were of the order of 70,000 for a population of 28 million. In other words, on a per capita basis there will be more troops in Haiti than in Afghanistan.

Recent US Military Interventions in Haiti

There have been several US sponsored military interventions in recent history. In 1994, following three years of military rule, a force of  20,000 occupation troops and “peace-keepers” was sent to Haiti. The 1994 US military intervention “was not intended to restore democracy. Quite the contrary: it was carried out to prevent a popular insurrection against the military Junta and its neoliberal cohorts.” (Michel Chossudovsky, The Destabilization of Haiti, Global Research, February 28, 2004)

US and allied troops remained in the country until 1999. The Haitian armed forces were disbanded and the US State Department hired a mercenary company DynCorp to provide “technical advice” in restructuring the Haitian National Police (HNP). (Ibid).

The February 2004 Coup d’État

In the months leading up to the 2004 Coup d’Etat, US special forces and the CIA were training death squadrons composed of the former tonton macoute of the Duvalier era. The Rebel paramilitary army crossed the border from the Dominican Republic in early February 2004. “It was a well armed, trained and equipped paramilitary unit integrated by former members of Le Front pour l’avancement et le progrès d’Haiti (FRAPH), the “plain clothes” death squadrons, involved in mass killings of civilians and political assassinations during the CIA sponsored 1991 military coup, which led to the overthrow of the democratically elected government of President Jean Bertrand Aristide.” (see Michel Chossudovsky,  The Destabilization of Haiti: Global Research. February 28, 2004)

Foreign troops were sent into Haiti. MINUSTAH was set up in the wake of the US sponsored coup d’Etat in February 2004 and the kidnapping and deportation of the democratically elected president Jean Bertrand Aristide. The coup was instigated by the US with the support of  France and Canada.

The FRAPH units subsequently integrated the country’s police force, which was under the supervision of MINUSTAH. In the political and social disarray triggered by the earthquake, the former armed militia and Ton Ton macoute will be playing a new role.

Hidden Agenda

The unspoken mission of US Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) with headquarters in Miami and US military installations throughout Latin America is to ensure the maintenance of subservient national regimes, namely US proxy governments, committed to the Washington Consensus and the neoliberal policy agenda. While US military personnel will at the outset be actively involved in emergency and disaster relief, this renewed US military presence in Haiti will be used  to establish a foothold in the country as well pursue America’s strategic and geopolitical objectives in the Caribbean basin, which are largely directed against Cuba and Venezuela.

The objective is not to work towards the rehabilitation of the national government, the presidency, the parliament, all of which has been decimated by the earthquake. Since the fall of the Duvalier dictatorship, America’s design has been to gradually dismantle the Haitian State, restore colonial patterns and obstruct the functioning of a democratic government. In the present context, the objective is not only to do away with the government but also to revamp the mandate of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH), of which the headquarters have been destroyed.

“The role of heading the relief effort and managing the crisis quickly fell to the United States, for lack — in the short term, at least — of any other capable entity.” ( US Takes Charge in Haiti _ With Troops, Rescue Aid – NYTimes.com, January 14, 2009)

Prior to the earthquake, there were, according to US military sources, some 60 US military personnel in Haiti. From one day to the next, an outright military surge has occurred: 10,000 troops, marines, special forces, intelligence operatives, etc., not to mention private mercenary forces on contract to the Pentagon. 

In all likelihood the humanitarian operation will be used as a pretext and justification to establish a more permanent US military presence in Haiti. 

We are dealing with a massive deployment, a “surge” of military personnel assigned to emergency relief.

The first mission of SOUTHCOM will be to take control of what remains of the country’s communications, transport and energy infrastructure. Already, the airport is under de facto US control. In all likelihood, the activities of MINUSTAH which from the outset in 2004 have served US foreign policy interests, will be coordinated with those of SOUTHCOM, namely the UN mission will be put under de facto control of the US military.

The Militarization of Civil Society Relief Organizations

The US military in Haiti seeks to oversee the activities of approved humanitarian organizations. It also purports to encroach upon the humanitarian activities of Venezuela and Cuba:

“The government under President René Préval is weak and literally now in shambles. Cuba and Venezuela, already intent on minimizing U.S. influence in the region, are likely to seize this opportunity to raise their profile and influence…” (James M. Roberts and Ray Walser, American Leadership Necessary to Assist Haiti After Devastating Earthquake, Heritage Foundation, January 14, 2010).

In the US, the militarization of emergency relief operations was instigated during the Katrina crisis, when the US military was called in to play a lead role. 

The model of emergency intervention for SOUTHCOM is patterned on the role of NORTHCOM, which was granted a mandate as “the lead agency” in US domestic emergency procedures.

During Hurricane Rita in 2005, the detailed groundwork for the “militarization of emergency relief” involving a leading role for NORTHCOM was established. In this regard, Bush had hinted to the central role of the military in emergency relief: “Is there a natural disaster–of a certain size–that would then enable the Defense Department to become the lead agency in coordinating and leading the response effort? That’s going to be a very important consideration for Congress to think about.” (Statement of President Bush at a press conference, Bush Urges Shift in Relief Responsibilities – washingtonpost.com, September 26, 2005).

“The response to the national disaster is not being coordinated by the civilian government out of Texas, but from a remote location and in accordance with military criteria. US Northern Command Headquarters will directly control the movement of military personnel and hardware in the Gulf of Mexico. As in the case of Katrina, it will override the actions of civilian bodies. Yet in this case, the entire operation is under the jurisdiction of the military rather than under that of FEMA.” (Michel Chossudovsky, US Northern Command and Hurricane Rita, Global Research, September 24, 2005)

Concluding Remarks

Haiti is a country under military occupation since the US instigated Coup d’Etat of February 2004.

The entry of ten thousand heavily armed US troops, coupled with the activities of local militia could potentially precipitate the country into social chaos.

These foreign forces have entered the country to reinforce MINUSTAH “peacekeepers” and Haitian police forces (integrated by former Tonton Macoute), which since 2004, have been responsible for war crimes directed against the Haitian people, including the indiscriminate killing of civilians.

These troups reinforce the existing occupation forces under UN mandate.

Twenty thousand foreign troops under SOUTHCOM and MINUSTAH commands will be present in the country. In all likelihood, there will be an integration or coordination of the command structures of SOUTHCOM and MINUSTAH. 

The Haitian people have exhibited a high degree of solidarity, courage and social commitment.

Helping one another and acting with consciousness: under very difficult conditions, in the immediate wake of the disaster, citizens rescue teams were set up spontaneously.

The militarization of relief operations will weaken the organizational capabilities of Haitians to rebuild and reinstate the institutions of civilian government which have been destroyed. It will also encroach upon the efforts of the international medical teams and civilian relief organisations.

It is absolutely essential that the Haitian people continue to forcefully oppose the presence of foreign troops in their country, particularly in public security operations.

It is essential that Americans across the land forcefully oppose the decision of the Obama adminstration to send US combat troops to Haiti.

There can be no real reconstruction or development under foreign military occupation.

January 16, 2010

फांसी के तख्तों में वो दम कहाँ : आनंद स्वरूप वर्मा

Filed under: Uncategorized — movementofthought @ 5:10 pm

आनन्द स्वरूप वर्मा तीसरी दुनिया की जनता के विभिन्न संघर्षों पर लगातार लिखते रहे हैं। हाल ही में नेपाल पर लिखी उनकी किताबेें व लेख काफी चर्चित रहे हैं। यहां इस लेख में वह भारत में लड़ रहे आदिवासी दलित व गरीब जनता के संघर्षो पर विस्तार से लिखा है। इसे हम हिन्दी पत्रिका पाखी से साभार ले रहे हैं। -सम्पादक 

तकरीबन ३६ साल पुरानी बात है। १९७४ में आंध्र प्रदेश के दो आदिवासी युवकों किस्टा गौड और भूमैया को पफांसी की सजा दी गयी थी। इन पर आरोप था कि इन्होंने कम्युनिस्ट पार्टी के नेतृत्व में किसी जमींदार की हत्या की साजिश में हिस्सा लिया था। उन दिनों नक्सलवादी आंदोलन, जो १९६७ में नक्सलबाड़ी से शुरू होकर देश के विभिन्न हिस्सों में पफैल चुका था, पश्चिम बंगाल में सि(ार्थ शंकर राय की सरकार के दमन के आगे

कापफी हद तक पस्ती के दौर से गुजर रहा था। दोनों आदिवासी युवकों को मृत्युदंड दिए जाने के विरोध् में अनेक कविताएँ लिखी गयीं और लेख प्रकाशित हुए। हिन्दी में भी सर्वेश्वर दयाल सक्सेना ने ‘लोकतंत्रा का गाना’ शीर्षक से एक कविता लिखी थी। सर्वेश्वर जी की कविता की पहली पंक्ति थी-‘किस्टा औ भूमैया क्या पफांसी चढ़ाएँ जाएँगे? हिन्द के दो लाल क्या यूँ ही गंवाएँ जाएँगे?’ इस कविता की अंतिम पंक्तियाँ थीं-‘अनसुनी आवाज उनकी कैसे कर देगा वतन जिनके सुर से कल भी लाखों सुर मिलाए जाएँगें?’ मलयालम में कवि उदयभानु ने अपनी कविता में ‘जेलखाने के भीतर भी पवित्रा इंसान की खुश्बू’ के बिखरने का जिक्र करते हुए लिखा कि ‘बहुत दूर कृष्णा नदी के तट पर/पफांसी के तख्ते से टंगे हुए इंसान/मौत के बाद भी जो जिंदा रहेंगे/मेरे भीतर भी थिरकन जगा रहे हैं।’
बांग्ला भाषा में सव्यसाची देव ने अपनी कविता में दोनों युवकों की गिरफ्रतारी का वर्णन करते हुए आगे लिखा था-‘याददाश्त को पफाड़कर हड़हड़ाकर खुल गया सेल का दरवाजा/सामने आ खड़ा हुआ पहरेदार/साथ कोई नहीं है/काले कपड़े से चेहरा ढंक देने से पहले/लाल हो आए पूर्व आकाश को पुकार कर उन्होंने कहा/याद रखना, हमलोगों ने प्यार किया था।’ तेलुगू कवि चेरबंड राजू ने ‘कम्युनिस्ट किस्टा गौड़, कामरेड भूमैया गरीबों, मजूरों का स्वीकारो लाल सलाम’ शीर्षक कविता में कहा कि-‘तुम जिंदा हो हरदम/हम सबके बीच हो/पफांसी के तख्तों में क्या दम होगा/ कहो तेलंगाना, नक्सलबाड़ी, श्रीकाकुलम/इनके संद्घर्षों का/स्वीकारो लाल सलाम/लो लाल झंडे का लाल सलाम।’
इससे पहले ८ जून १९७५ को सारे देश में किस्टा गौड़-भूमैया दिवस मनाया गया था। दिल्ली में भी हिन्दी, अंग्रेजी और पंजाबी के अनेक लेखकों-बु(जिीवियों ने जॉर्ज पफर्नांडीज की अध्यक्षता में एक अभियान समिति का गठन किया था। इस समिति के सदस्यों ने पफांसी की सजा रद किए जाने की मांग करते हुए बोट क्लब पर रात भर ध्रना भी दिया था। समिति का एक प्रतिनिध्मिंडल अपनी मांग को लेकर तत्कालीन राष्ट्रपति पफखरुद्दीन अली अहमद से मिलने गया। प्रतिनिधिमंडल के सदस्यों ने राष्ट्रपति से बातचीत के दौरान कुछ ही दिनों पूर्व लखनउफ की एक युवती शमीम रहमानी की मौत की सजा समाप्त करने का जिक्र किया। एक प्रेम त्रिाकोण की वजह से शमीम रहमानी ने लखनउफ के एक युवा डाक्टर गौतम की गोली मार कर हत्या कर दी थी। राष्ट्रपति से जब इसका जिक्र किया गया तो वह बौखला गए। उनका जवाब था कि ‘शमीम रहमानी एक खानदानी लड़की थी, वह नवाब खानदान की थी और उससे एक चूक हो गयी। किस्टा गौड़ और भूमैया उस तबके से आते हैं जो जरायमपेशा है, जिसका काम ही अपराध् करना है। ऐसे लोगों की तुलना आप शमीम रहमानी से कैसे कर सकते हैं। इनकी सजा किसी भी हालत में मापफ नहीं की जा सकती।’

इन दोनों युवकों को १ दिसंबर १९७५ को, जिस समय पूरे देश में श्रीमती इंदिरा गांध्ी की सरकार ने इमरजेंसी लगा रखी थी, पफांसी पर लटका दिया गया। आजाद भारत के इतिहास में राजनीतिक बंदियों को पफांसी पर लटकाने की यह पहली द्घटना थी।
इस द्घटना का जिक्र मैंने इसलिए किया क्योंकि यह भारतीय गणराज्य के राष्ट्रपति की सोच को व्यक्त करती है। शशि थरूर एक मूर्ख राजनीतिज्ञ है इसलिए उसने हवाई जहाज में इकोनॉमी क्लास में यात्राा करने वालों के लिए मवेशी ;कैटिल क्लासद्ध शब्द का खुलेआम इस्तेमाल कर दिया। आप जानते हैं कि इकोनॉमी क्लास में भी यात्राा करने वालों की संख्या कितनी है। आप कल्पना करिए कि जो लोग ट्रेन के अनारक्षित डिब्बों में यात्राा करते हैं अथवा झुग्गी-झोपड़ियों में रहते हैं उन्हें तो यह सत्ताधरी वर्ग, जिसका प्रतिनिध्त्वि पफखरुद्दीन अली अहमद अथवा शशि थरूर करते हैं, कीड़े-मकोड़े से भी बदतर मानता होगा।

अभी पिछले दिनों अध्रिाज बोस की एक रिपोर्ट देखने को मिली जिससे पता चला कि मौजूदा १५वीं लोकसभा में ३०० से भी ज्यादा सांसद ऐसे हैं जिनकी द्घोषित परिसंपत्ति एक करोड़ रुपए से ज्यादा है। इससे पहले १४वीं लोकसभा में ऐसे सांसदों की संख्या १५४ थी। इन सांसदों में राष्ट्रवादी कांग्रेस पार्टी के प्रपफुल्ल पटेल ;रु. ८९. ९ करोड़द्ध, कांग्रेस के जी. विवेकानंद ;रु. ७२.९ करोड़द्ध, कांग्रेस के वाई.एस.जगमोहन रेड्डी ;रु. ७२.८ करोड़द्ध, कांग्रेस के राजकुमार रत्न सिंह ;रु. ६७.८ करोड़द्ध, अकाली दली की हरसिमरत कौर ;रु. ६०.३ करोड़द्ध और नेशनलिस्ट कांग्रेस पार्टी की सुप्रिया सुले ;रु. ५०.४ करोड़द्ध शामिल हैं। इसके अलावा तेलुगू देशम पार्टी के खम्माम से निर्वाचित सांसद नम्मा नागेश्वर राव की कुल परिसंपत्ति एक अरब ७४ करोड़ रुपये की है। हरियाणा में कुरुक्षेत्रा से निर्वाचित उद्योगपति नवीन जिंदल ;कांग्रेसद्ध की कुल परिसंपत्ति एक अरब ३१ करोड़ रुपए है। इन करोड़पति सांसदों की मौजूदगी अलग-अलग पार्टियों में है लेकिन सबसे ज्यादा करोड़पति सांसद कांग्रेस में हैं जहाँ इनकी संख्या १३८ है। भाजपा में ५८, समाजवादी पार्टी में १४ और बसपा में १३ ऐसे सांसद हैं। इसके अलावा द्रमुक में ११, शिवसेना में ९, जनता दल ;यूनाइटेडद्ध में ८, राष्ट्रवादी कांग्रेस पार्टी में ७ और बीजू जनता दल तथा तृणमूल कांग्रेस में इस कोटि के ६-६ सांसद हैं।
इस रिपोर्ट में टिप्पणी की गयी है कि संसद में इतनी बड़ी संख्या में ध्न कुबेरों की मौजूदगी से जाहिर हो जाता है कि बुर्जुआ लोकतंत्रा की इस प्रमुख संस्था पर पूंजी का कितना दबदबा है और किस तरह इसने देश को एक पूंजीवादी गणराज्य का रूप दे दिया है। गौर करने वाली बात है कि हर चुनाव के बाद ‘जनतंत्रा’ के गले में पूंजी का पफंदा कसता चला गया। इनके पास जो अपार संपत्ति है उसका उपयोग इन्होंने मीडिया के जरिए अपने पक्ष में जनमत तैयार करने के लिए किया है। जिस संसद में ५४३ सदस्यों में से तकरीबन ३५० करोड़पति होंगे उससे यह कैसे उम्मीद की जा सकती है कि वह गरीबों के हित में कोई कानून बनाएगी।

आंध््र प्रदेश, उड़ीसा, छत्तीसगढ़ या झारखंड में जो माओवादी आंदोलन निरंतर तेज होता जा रहा है उसके पीछे इस पूंजी की बहुत बड़ी भूमिका है। गृहमंत्राी चिदंबरम उसी वेदांत समूह के निदेशक मंडल के सदस्य रहे हैं जिसने उड़ीसा में नियामगिरी की पहाड़ियों को बॉक्साइट की तलाश में खोद-खोद कर बर्बाद कर दिया और जो आज करोड़ों डॉलर की परियोजना लेकर रायपुर में बैठा इंतजार कर रहा है कि कब चिदंबरम अपने सैनिकों से छत्तीसगढ़ के ‘अराजक माओवादियों’ का सपफाया कराएँ और वेदांता का प्रोजेक्ट चालू हो। अब यह बात ध्ीरे-ध्ीरे सामने आने लगी है कि छत्तीसगढ़ की समस्या के मूल में टाटा और एस्सार ग्रुप की क्या भूमिका है। टाटा उद्योग समूह के साथ जिस दिन छत्तीसगढ़ की सरकार ने एक करारनामे पर हस्ताक्षर किया था ;एमओयूद्ध उसके दूसरे दिन से ही सलवा जुडुम कार्यक्रम शुरू हो गया था। इस द्घटना से संदेह की सुई लगातार टाटा की ओर द्घूम रही थी। लेकिन सरकारी रिपोर्ट ने उन लोगों को भी चौंका दिया जो समझ रहे थे कि यह कुछ सिरपिफरे बु(जिीवियों का दुष्प्रचार है।

भारत सरकार के ग्रामीण विकास मंत्राालय ने २००८ में यह महत्वपूर्ण रिपोर्ट तैयार की थी जिसका शीर्षक है ‘कमेटी ऑन स्टेट ऐग्रेरियन रिलेशन्स ऐंड अनपिफनिश्ड टॉस्क ऑपफ लैंड रिपफॉर्म्स’। इसकी अध्यक्षता केंद्रीय ग्राम विकास मंत्राी ने की। १५ सदस्यीय समिति में अनेक राज्यों के सचिव और विभिन्न क्षेत्राों के विद्वान तथा कुछ अवकाश प्राप्त प्रशासनिक अध्किारी शामिल थे।

इस रिपोर्ट में बताया गया है कि विकास परियोजनाओं के नाम पर कितने बड़े पैमाने पर उपजाउफ जमीन और वन क्षेत्रा को उद्योगपतियों को दिया गया। इसकी वजह से बहुत बड़े पैमाने पर विस्थापन हुआ और इसने एक व्यापक अशांति को जन्म दिया। रिपोर्ट के अनुसार पिछले दो दशकों में खनन उद्योग के लिए ७ लाख ५० हजार एकड़ और औद्योगिक कार्यों के लिए २ लाख ५० हजार एकड़ पर कब्जा किया गया। स्पेशल इकोनॉमिक जोन के अंतर्गत ज्यादातर वही जमीनें ली गयीं जहाँ अच्छी खेती होती थी जिसकी वजह से गरीब किसानों की जिंदगी बर्बाद हो गयी। रिपोर्ट में कहा गया है कि गैर कृषीय उद्देश्यों के लिए खेतिहर जमीन को हड़पने का सिलसिला बड़े पैमाने पर पूरे देश में जारी है।
‘आदिवासियों की जमीन हड़पने की कोलंबस के बाद की सबसे बड़ी कार्रवाई’ उपशीर्षक के अंतर्गत भारत सरकार की इस रिपोर्ट में बताया गया है कि- ”छत्तीसगढ़ के तीन दक्षिणी जिलों बस्तर, दांतेवाड़ा और बीजापुर में गृहयु( जैसी स्थिति बनी हुई है। यहाँ एक तरपफ तो आदिवासी पुरुषों और महिलाओं के हथियारबंद दस्ते हैं जो पहले पीपुल्स वॉर ग्रुप में थे और अब भारत की कम्युनिस्ट पार्टी ;माओवादीद्ध के साथ जुड़े हैं तथा दूसरी तरपफ सरकार द्वारा प्रोत्साहित सलवा जुड़ुम के हथियारबंद आदिवासी लड़ाकू हैं जिनको आध्ुनिक हथियारों और केंद्रीय पुलिस बल के तमाम संगठनों का समर्थन प्राप्त है। यहाँ जमीन हड़पने की अब तक की सबसे बड़ी कार्रवाई चल रही है और जो पटकथा तैयार की गयी है वह अगर इसी तरह आगे बढ़ती रही तो यह यु( लंबे समय तक जारी रहेगा। इस पटकथा को तैयार किया है टाटा स्टील और एस्सार स्टील ने जो सात गाँवों पर और आसपास के इलाकों पर कब्जा करना चाहते थे ताकि भारत के समृ(तम लौह भंडार का खनन कर सकें।

शुरू में जमीन अध्ग्रिहण और विस्थापन का आदिवासियों ने प्रतिरोध् किया। प्रतिरोध् इतना तीव्र था कि राज्य को अपनी योजना से हाथ खींचना पड़ा। सलवा जुडुम के साथ नये सिरे से काम शुरू हुआ। अजीब विडंबना है कि कांग्रेसी विधयक और सदन में विपक्ष के नेता महेंद्र कर्मा ने इसकी शुरुआत की लेकिन भाजपा शासित सरकार से इसे भरपूर समर्थन मिला। इस अभियान के पीछे व्यापारी, ठेकेदार और खानों की खुदाई के कारोबार में लगे लोग हैं जो अपनी इस रणनीति के सपफल नतीजे की प्रतीक्षा कर रहे हैं। सलवा जुडुम शुरू करने के लिए पैसे मुहैया करने का काम टाटा और एस्सार गु्रप ने किया क्योंकि वे ‘शांति’ की तलाश में थे। सलवा जुडुम का पहला प्रहार मुड़िया लोगों पर हुआ जो अभी भी भाकपा ;माओवादीद्ध के प्रति निष्ठावान हैं। यह भाई भाई के बीच खुला यु( बन गया।
सरकारी आंकड़ों के मुताबिक ६४० गाँव खाली करा दिये गये, इन गाँवों के मकानों को ढाह दिया गया और बंदूक की नोक पर तथा राज्य के आशीर्वाद से लोगों को इलाके से बेदखल कर दिया गया। साढ़े तीन लाख आदिवासी, जो दांतेवाड़ा जिले की आध्ी आबादी के बराबर हैं, विस्थापित हुए, उनकी औरतें बलात्कार की शिकार हुईं, उनकी बेटियां मारी गयीं और उनके युवकों को विकलांग बना दिया गया। जो भागकर जंगल तक नहीं जा पाये उन्हें झुंड के झुंड में विस्थापितों के लिए बने शिविरों में डाल दिया गया जिसका संचालन सलवा जुडुम द्वारा किया जाता है। जो बच रहे वे छुपते छुपाते जंगलों में भाग गये या उन्होंने पड़ोस के महाराष्ट्र, आंध्र प्रदेश और उड़ीसा में जाकर शरण ली।
”६४० गाँव खाली हो चुके हैं। हजारों लाखों टन लोहे के उफपर बैठे इन गाँवों से लोगों को भगा दिया गया है और अब ये गाँव सबसे उफंची बोली बोलने वाले के लिए तैयार बैठे हैं। ताजा जानकारी के अुनसार टाटा स्टील और एस्सार स्टील दोनों इस इलाके पर कब्जा करना चाहते हैं ताकि वहां की खानें इनके पास आ जायँ।”

आमतौर पर नक्सलवाद/माओवाद की समस्या को विकास के सवाल से जोड़कर देखा जाता है और यह दलील दी जाती है कि अगर इन क्षेत्राों का समुचित विकास होता या भूमि सुधार कानून को सही ढंग से लागू किया गया होता तो यह समस्या नहीं पैदा होती। अब ये बातें बड़ी द्घिसी पिटी बातें हो गयी हैं। पूरा तंत्रा इतना भ्रष्ट हो चुका है कि वह कितनी भी कसम क्यों न खाये विकास के नाम पर भ्रष्टाचार से मुक्त हो ही नहीं सकता। २००७ तक की रिपोर्ट देखने से पता चलता है कि नक्सल प्रभावित जिलों के लिए बनी विभिन्न योजनाओं के तहत झारखंड को जो पैसे मिले हैं उसमें से २४० करोड़ का उस समय तक इस्तेमाल नहीं हुआ था। तब तक उसे ६५० करोड़ मिल चुके थे। पुलिस के आधुनिकीकरण के मामले में भी झारखंड का रिकॉर्ड बहुत खराब है। २००४-५ में इस काम के लिए इसे २२.२३ करोड़ रुपए दिए गए जिसमें से इसने केवल ७.३३ प्रतिशत का इस्तेमाल किया। २००६ में इसे ४० करोड़ रुपए दिए गए लेकिन उसका भी सही ढंग से इस्तेमाल नहीं हुआ। तत्कालीन मुख्यमंत्राी मध्ु कोड़ा का कहना था कि राज्य के १८ में से १२ जिले माओवाद से बुरी तरह प्रभावित हैं और राज्य को अर्(सैनिक बलों की १२ अतिरिक्त बटालियनें पफौरन चाहिए।

समस्या केवल झारखंड की नहीं है। जहाँ-जहाँ नक्सलवाद/माओवाद का असर दिखायी दे रहा है वहां सरकार की पहली प्राथमिकता दमन के जरिए इसका समाधन है। वैसे तो पूर्व मुख्यमंत्राी अर्जुन मुंडा ने अप्रैल २००४ में ही यह बताते हुए कि नक्सलवाद की समस्या एक सामाजिक आर्थिक समस्या है, आश्वासन दिया था कि लगभग २० हजार करोड़ की परियोजना पर जल्द ही काम शुरू होने जा रहा है। उनका मानना था कि इससे माओवादी गतिविधियों में कमी आएगी। उन्होंने तमाम निजी कंपनियों को अपने राज्य में विकास योजनाएँ शुरू करने के लिए आमंत्रिात भी किया। उनकी सोच थी कि ऐसा करने से यहाँ की आदिवासी जनता माओवादी प्रभाव से बाहर आ जाएगी। लेकिन जैसा कि प्रायः होता है, विकास की सारी योजनाएँ ध्री की ध्री रह जाती हैं और सारा जोर पुलिस के आध्ुनिकीकरण पर लगा दिया जाता है। केंद्र सरकार ने अपनी जिस नयी नीति को अंतिम रूप दिया है उसे ‘सेक्योरिटी रिलेटेड एक्सपेंडिचर’ ;एसआरईद्ध कहते हैं। पिफलहाल ९ राज्यों के ७६ जिलों में एसआरई योजना लागू रहेगी। इसके तहत ५० करोड़ के सालाना बजट में से इस वर्ष अगस्त तक १४ करोड़ रुपया दिया जा चुका है। इस योजना को २००५ में व्यापक तौर पर संशोध्ति किया गया और अब तक इस योजना के अंतर्गत नक्सलवाद प्रभावित राज्यों को १७५.५५ करोड़ रुपए दिए जा चुके हैं। नक्सलवाद प्रभावित राज्यों का मानना है कि इस योजना से कापफी लाभ हुआ है। इस बात को ध्यान में रखते हुए २०११ तक के लिए इस योजना को बढ़ा दिया गया है।

इंडियन एक्सप्रेस, १० जुलाई २००९ में प्रकाशित एक समाचार के अनुसार झारखंड में नक्सल विरोध्ी अभियान के अंतर्गत पैसों की गड़बड़ी को लेकर महालेखा कार्यालय ने सवाल उठाये हैं। इसके अनुसार पुलिस महानिदेशक बी. डी. राम तथा अन्य अध्किारियों से सवाल किया गया है कि इस अभियान के लिए सेक्रेट सर्विस पफंड से उन्होंने १४ करोड़ रुपये से भी अध्कि की राशि जो ली थी उसे कैसे खर्च किया। लेखा महानिरीक्षक ने इसकी जाँच की माँग करते हुए आशंका व्यक्त की है कि पैसे के खर्च में ‘धेखाध्ड़ी और गबन’ की आशंका से इनकार नहीं किया जा सकता।
एक मामले में डी.जी.पी. राम ने १६ मार्च २००६ को स्टेट बैंक आपफ इंडिया रांची की सचिवालय शाखा से ५ करोड़ ६० लाख रुपये निकाले और पुलिस के अतिरिक्त महानिरीक्षक को इसके वितरण का अध्किार दिया।
महालेखा कार्यालय द्वारा आपत्ति किये जाने पर मुख्य सचिव ए.के. बसु ने डी.जी.पी. राम को लिखा- ‘महालेखा
निदेशालय ने सेक्रेट सर्विस के पैसे खर्च किये जाने के बारे में स्पेशल ब्रांच मैनुअल और बिहार पफाइनेंशियल रूल्स के प्रावधनों के उल्लंद्घन की बात की है। ये आपत्तियाँ बहुत गंभीर हैं और इनकी जांच की जानी चाहिए। कृपया इस दिशा में आपने जो कदम उठाये हैं उनकी विस्तृत जानकारी दें ताकि आगे कार्रवाई की जा सके।’

स्पेशल ब्रांच मैनुअल के नियम ४ के अनुसार सेक्रेट सर्विस पफंड का पैसा ‘उन मुखबिरों को दिया जाना चाहिए जिनसे गुप्त किस्म की उपयोगी जानकारी मिलती है अथवा मिलने की संभावना है और जिनकी पहचान को गुप्त रखा जा सके।’
हालांकि स्पेशल ब्रांच मैनुअल में कहा गया है कि सेक्रेट सर्विस एक्सपेंडीचर की जांच किसी लेखा अधिकारी द्वारा नहीं की जा सकती लेकिन बिहार पफाइनेंशियल रूल्स, जो अभी भी झारखंड में लागू है, में स्पष्ट किया गया है कि इसके लिए एक अध्किारी से ऑडिट कराकर महालेखा कार्यालय को रिपोर्ट जानी चाहिए।
इंडियन एक्सप्रेस की जानकारी के अनुसार कुल १४ करोड़ १८ लाख ५० हजार रुपये निकाले गये जिनका खर्च किस तरह किया गया यह स्पष्ट नहीं है।

झारखंड का ही एक और मामला काबिलेगौर है। २००७ में हिंदुस्तान एरोनॉटिक्स लिमिटेड ;एच.ए.एल.द्ध से झारखंड सरकार ने ३५ करोड़ रुपये देकर ध््रुव हेलीकॉप्टर खरीदा। यह हेलीकॉप्टर पुलिस के आध्ुनिकीकरण के लिए प्राप्त ध्नराशि से खरीदा गया था और इसका मकसद माओवाद विरोध्ी अभियान के लिए इस्तेमाल किया जाना था। खरीदे जाने के बाद यह हेलीकॉप्टर ४ महीने से भी अध्कि समय तक खड़ा रहा क्योंकि राज्य सरकार ने एच.ए.एल को पूरे पैसे का भुगतान नहीं किया था। इसके अलावा उसे कोई प्रशिक्षित चालक नहीं मिल रहा था क्योंकि सरकार ज्यादा पेैसे नहीं खर्च करना चाहती थी। इसके बाद जब हेलीकॉप्टर ने उड़ना शुरू किया तो इसे मुख्यमंत्राी, मंत्रिायों और राज्य के बड़े अपफसरों को ढोने से ही पुफर्सत नहीं मिली। यहाँ तक कि ११ मई को हजारीबाग जिले में नक्सलविरोध्ी अभियान में दो सुरक्षा अध्किारी द्घायल हुए लेकिन उन्हें लाने के लिए हेलीकॉप्टर उपलब्ध् नहीं हुआ और दोनों की मृत्यु हो गयी। इसी प्रकार रांची के बुंदू ब्लॉक में एक बारूदी सुरंग के पफटने से पुलिस उपअध्ीक्षक प्रमोद कुमार सहित ५ लोग द्घायल हुए जिनमें से अस्पताल ले जाते समय २ की मौत हो गयी। उस समय भी यह हेलीकॉप्टर उपलब्ध् नहीं हुआ।

माओवाद को समाप्त करने के नाम पर करोड़ों-अरबों रुपये सरकार राज्यों को दे रही है लेकिन इन पैसों का अध्किांश हिस्सा भ्रष्टाचार की भेंट चढ़ जा रहा है। राज्यों में सत्ता के शीर्ष पर जो लोग बैठे हैं उनके अंदर एक निहित स्वार्थ पैदा हो गया है जिसके मूल में लालच है। आपको याद होगा कि उत्तराखण्ड में जब भुवनचंद खंडूरी मुख्यमंत्राी थे। २१ दिसंबर २००७ को दैनिक जागरण के नैनीताल संस्करण में प्रकाशित खबर के अनुसार खंडूरी ने नेपाल का हौआ दिखाते हुए अपने राज्य में माओवाद का खतरा बताया और राज्य की आंतरिक सुरक्षा व्यवस्था को उन्नत करने के लिए २०८ करोड़ की मांग की। पिफर २४ दिसंबर को इन्हीं अखबारों ने प्रकाशित किया कि ‘प्रशांत राही नामक जोनल कमांडर को हंसपुर खत्ता के जंगलों से उस समय गिरफ्रतार किया गया जब वह एक नदी के किनारे अपने ५ साथियों के साथ बैठकर कोई योजना बना रहा था। उसके अन्य साथी भाग गये।’ बाद में पता चला कि १७ दिसंबर २००७ को पत्राकार और कम्युनिस्ट विचारों के लिए ज्ञात प्रशांत राही को उस समय गिरफ्रतार किया गया जब वे शाम को अपने द्घर के बाहर टहल रहे थे। उत्तराखण्ड में माओवाद का हौव्वा खड़ा किया गया और हर उस युवा को प्रताड़ित किया गया जो सामाजिक मुद्दों पर थोड़ा भी सक्रिय था। आश्चर्य नहीं कि यह दमन-नीति आने वाले दिनों में सचमुच वहाँ माओवादी आंदोलन पैदा कर दे।

सरकार ने स्कूलों को सैनिक शिविर बना दिया है। झारखंड की २००७ की एक रिपोर्ट के अनुसार सरकार ने राज्य के २५ स्कूलों में पढ़ाई बंद कराने के बाद इन्हें पुलिस शिविरों में बदल दिया है। पिछले पाँच वर्षों के दौरान अनेक स्कूलों के साथ यही सलूक किया गया। इससे अनुमानतः १२ हजार छात्रा प्रभावित हुए हैं। राज्य में कई स्कूल तो ऐसे हैं जिनके कमरों में पुलिसकर्मी रहते हैं और बच्चों को छत पर या मैदान में पढ़ाई करनी पड़ती है। इसके अलावा पुलिस की मौजूदगी से जो माहौल पैदा होता है वह भी बच्चों के लिए कापफी खौपफनाक है। स्कूल की इमारतों में पुलिस छावनी बनाने से माओवादी हमले उन इमारतों पर होते हैं जो आने वाले दिनों के लिए कोई सुखद स्थिति नहीं है। अगर दिन में कभी हमला हुआ तो सुरक्षाकर्मी इन स्कूली बच्चों को ढाल की तरह इस्तेमाल करते हैं। स्कूलों की इमारतें जब माओवादियों के बमों से ध्वस्त होती हैं तो सरकारी विज्ञप्तियाँ अखबारों की सुर्खियाँ बनती हैं और बताया जाता है कि माओवादी शिक्षा के खिलापफ हैं।
जोशी जी, कहाँ तक इन बातों का जिक्र करूँ। मुझे नाइजीरिया के प्रमुख बु(जिीवी, कवि और पर्यावरणविद् केनसारो वीवा का एक बयान याद आता है। उन्हें १० नवंबर १९९५ को इसलिए पफांसी पर लटका दिया गया क्योंकि उन्होंने अपने इलाके की जनता को बहुराष्ट्रीय तेल कंपनी ‘शेल’ के शोषण के खिलापफ संगठित किया था। अदालत में दिए गए उनके बयान का यह अंश गौर करने लायक है- ‘मी लॉर्ड, मैं उन लोगों में से नहीं हूँ जो यह दलील देते हुए कि सैनिक सरकारें तो दमनकारी होती ही हैं, अन्याय और उत्पीड़न का विरोध् करने से अपने को बचाता रहूँ। कहीं भी सैनिक हुकूमत अकेले काम नहीं करती। उसे राजनीतिज्ञों, वकीलों, न्यायाध्ीशों, विद्वानों और व्यापारियों के एक गिरोह का समर्थन प्राप्त रहता है और यह गिरोह दावा करता है कि वह अपना कर्तव्य निभा रहा है। ये लोग पेशाब में तर-बतर पतलूनें पहने रहते हैं और धेने में डरते हैं। माई लॉर्ड, आज हम सभी कटद्घरे में खड़े हैं। हमने अपनी हरकतों से इस देश को दुर्दशा के कगार पर पहुँचा दिया है और इस देश के बच्चों का भविष्य तबाह कर दिया है।’

केन सारो वीवा ने यह बात सैनिक सरकारों के संदर्भ में कही थीं क्योंकि उनके देश में उस समय सानी अबाचा के नेतृत्व में एक सैनिक सरकार काम कर रही थी। सारो वीवा की यह बात किसी भी दमनकारी तंत्रा के लिए सही बैठती है। आप खुद देखिए कि आज अनेक अखबारों के संपादक ;जो वस्तुतः पत्राकार नहीं बल्कि सत्ता के दलाल हैंद्ध चिदंबरम के साथ इस मुद्दे पर खड़े हैं कि छत्तीसगढ़ में माओवादी ठिकानों पर बम गिराए जायं-यह जानते हुए भी कि ऐसा इसलिए किया जाएगा ताकि टाटा, जिंदल, मित्तल, एस्सार, बेदांता आदि आराम से वहाँ की खनिज संपदा लूट सकें। २००१ में जिस समय नेपाल में माओवादी आंदोलन अपने चरम पर था, नेपाली कांग्रेस और एमाले के नेताओं ने बार-बार महाराजा बीरेन्द्र से मांग की कि माओवादियों के खिलापफ सेना का इस्तेमाल किया जाए। राजा बीरेन्द्र ने यह कहते हुए कि सेना का इस्तेमाल विदेशी आक्रमण की स्थिति में ही किया जा सकता है, सेना परिचालन से इंकार किया। एक राजतंत्रा को इतनी शर्म थी कि वह अपने देश की जनता के खिलापफ सेना का इस्तेमाल करने में हिचकिचा रहा था लेकिन दुनिया के सबसे बड़े लोकतंत्रा का गृहमंत्राी बेहिचक सेना के इस्तेमाल की बात कर रहा है और उसकी प्रशस्ति लिखने में अनेक संपादक अपनी कलमें तोड़ रहे हैं।
उफपर मैंने जो बातें कहीं हैं उन्हें कहना या प्रकाशित करना पी. चिदंबरम का गृह मंत्राालय राष्ट्रविरोधी कार्रवाई मानता है। कोई भी दमनकारी सत्ता अगर किसी बात से सबसे ज्यादा द्घबराती है तो वह है सच।
जार्ज ऑरवेल ने एक जगह कहा था कि ‘जिस समय चारों तरपफ धेखाध्ड़ी का साम्राज्य हो, सच को बयान करना ही क्रांतिकारी कर्म है।’ जरूरत है आज ज्यादा से ज्यादा लोगों को सच्चाई से रू-ब-रू कराने की।

;लेखक वरिष्ठ पत्राकार एवं माओवाद के जानकार।द्ध
क्यू-६३ सेक्टर-१२ नोएडा
मो. ०९८१०७२०७१४

January 11, 2010

Irom Sharmila’s 10-year-fast is ignored — kalpana sharma

Filed under: Politics — movementofthought @ 7:38 am

Irom sharmila has become an embodiment of resolute struggle against Indian government in general and afspa in particular. She has completed her 10 year epic hunger strike. Kalpana sharma tells detail about this epic struggle and more. This article is first published in dnaindia.com–Editor

Isn’t it ironic and smacks of the Centre’s double standards? One person in Andhra Pradesh fasts for ten days and Centre relents. Another person fasts in Manipur for nine years and more, supported by the relay fast of thousands of other women for one year now, and what does the Centre do? NOTHING. Wah, wah, Indian democracy!! Not proud to be an Indian”.

 
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This is a message sent to some of us by a woman journalist friend in Manipur. Indeed, if you are looking at what they call “mainland” India from the distant Northeast, it must seem strange that a 10-day-fast can result in talks for a separate state for Telangana but a 10-year-fast to demand the withdrawal of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) from Manipur results in nothing.

Irom Sharmila, that iconic 36-year-old Manipuri woman, has spent the best part of almost 10 years being force fed against her will. She has undertaken a fast-unto-death demanding the withdrawal of the AFSPA.

Each year, the ritual is played out. Her period of detention for attempting suicide is one year. The authorities have to release her, usuallyin early March. She leaves the Jawaharlal Nehru Hospital in Imphal where she is incarcerated and being force fed through a tube shoved down her nose.

Earlier this year, many of us were witness to the moving moment when this pale young woman emerged from the hospital and was virtually carried by hundreds of older Manipuri woman who have been on a relay hunger strike in support, to the shamiana where they sit all day and all night in solidarity. Sharmila began speaking as she gained a little strength. But she would not give up her fast. So two days later she was rearrested and once again moved to the hospital.

And while this annual arrest and rearrest ritual continues, Manipur — and particularly Imphal — is caught in a permanent spiral of violence. For many months now, since the July 23 “encounter” killing of a young man, Chongkham Sanjit in broad daylight in Imphal’s busy market area (exposed by Tehelka through a series of photographs), the capital of Manipur has not been “normal”. People are demanding that the killers of this young man be prosecuted. But AFSPA gives the security forces impunity. Their powers to act cannot be questioned.

As a result, there has been a civil strike that has immobilised the city. For months children have not attended school or college. There is violence, curfew and an aggravation of the perennial shortages that this land-locked city not far from the border of Myanmar faces even in so-called normal times. The 25 lakh citizens of the state of Manipur have seen little or no development for years while the rest of India, apparently, marches ahead. So my Manipuri friends have a right to ask why some fasts in the “mainland” yield results while their protests are never heard. Or if they are, then the result is promises that are never kept. Prime minister Manmohan Singh raised some hopes in 2004 when he went to Imphal and promised that the withdrawal of AFSPA would be considered.

He set up a committee headed by Supreme Court judge BP Jeevan Reddy to look into the issue. The committee strongly recommended that the Act be withdrawn pointing out that the Act, “for whatever reason, has become a symbol of oppression, an object of hate and an instrument of discrimination and high-handedness”. But nothing happened. The promise was forgotten, the recommendation ignored. The Telangana issue has triggered a series of demands for separate states. The people of Gorkhaland have begun fasts, others are threatening to do so. But in the midst of all this fasting, we would do well to pause and think why only the demands of our “mainland” matter while the “periphery” — places like Manipur — are ignored, forgotten and rendered virtually invisible. 

 

January 10, 2010

Burj Khalifa: Hidden Stories of Capitalism’s Tower-By LANDON THOMAS Jr.

Filed under: Politics — movementofthought @ 11:06 am

see another article on “burj khalifa”… originally  published on kasama project.Editor

…The glittering celebration may have been an attempt by Dubai’s ruler, Sheik Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, to shift the focus from Dubai’s current economic troubles to a future filled with more promise.

All the same, the tower’s success by no means signals a recovery in Dubai’s beaten-down real estate market, where prices have collapsed by as much as 50 percent and many developers are having trouble finding occupants for their buildings.

With its mix of nightclubs, mosques, luxury suites and boardrooms, the Burj is an almost perfect representation of Dubai’s own complexities and contradictions. It will have the world’s first Armani hotel; the world’s highest swimming pool, on the 76th floor; the highest observation deck, on the 124th floor; and the highest mosque, on the 158th floor.

But in deciding to change the tower’s name from Burj Dubai to Burj Khalifa, in honor of the president of Abu Dhabi, Sheik Khalifa bin Zayed al-Nahyan, Dubai revealed a rare streak of humility consistent with its diminished economic condition. Once the most proudly autonomous of Arab Emirates, Dubai has found that its financial troubles have made it more dependent on Abu Dhabi and more likely to be drawn closer into the federation.

“Dubai not only has the world’s tallest building, but has also made what looks like the most expensive naming rights deal in history,” said Jim Krane, the author of “City of Gold: Dubai and the Dream of Capitalism.” “Renaming the Burj Dubai after Sheik Khalifa of Abu Dhabi — if not an explicit quid pro quo — is a down payment on Dubai’s gratitude for its neighbor’s $10 billion bailout last month.”

The opening festivities had the feel of a national holiday, with fireworks, parachute jumps and shooting streams of water from the world’s tallest fountain. (…)

* * * * * * * *

Building Towers, Cheating Workers

excerpt from Human Rights Watch report, November 11, 2006

Low Wages

Low wages are another of the main grievances of construction workers. The government has been unwilling to put in place a minimum wage, despite a mandate in law dating from 1980 (this is discussed further in the section “UAE Labor Law,” below).

On March 21, 2006, nearly 2,500 workers at the OldTown commercial section of the Burj Dubai complex, where the world’s tallest tower is under construction, protested their working conditions and low wages.[65] The protest turned violent after the workers rioted at the end of their daily shift. The workers had been waiting for hours to be transported back to their labor camp.[66] S. Kumar, an Indian worker who was present at the protest but did not participate in the rioting, told Human Rights Watch,

“I work at the Burj Dubai site. I earn 38 AED [$10.50] for eight hours of work daily. My pay is higher than workers who arrived recently because I have been with the company for 11 years. New workers are paid 28 AED [$7.60] daily and they are unhappy about it.”

On March 21, it was mostly the new workers who rioted. They were stressed because after we finish our shift, it takes over an hour to punch out. On that day, the buses were delayed for hours. The workers started to complain. The company’s security forces started to harass them and abuse them verbally. This provoked the rioting. The new workers were demanding pay raises.[67]

In another recent protest, thousands of workers for the Besix Company, a Brussels based construction conglomerate, staged a strike demanding better wages. On May 16, 2006, more than 8,000 Besix workers laid down their tools and refused to work until their employers met their demands.[68] A striking worker told reporters,

“We will not go back to work until our demands are met. We are being paid $106 per month and all we demand is that we are paid at least $163 per month. The company has offered a raise to those who have been employed [by Besix] for more than 10 years, but that is the minority of people here. We do not accept that.”[69]

The government deported 50 Besix workers who refused to end their strike. Philippe Dessoy, deputy general manager of Besix’s subsidiary, Six Construct, told Construction Week that “[a]round 50 were taken by police; they were not forced, they went willingly. They did not want to go back to work.”[70]

Confiscation of Passports

While employers in the UAE are prohibited from confiscating the passports of their employees, employers routinely do this, retaining the passports for the duration of their workers’ employment, typically to ensure that the employees do not abscond. All of the 107 migrant workers interviewed by Human Rights Watch (construction workers and others-see “Methodology,” above), said that their employers had confiscated their passports upon their arrival in the UAE.[71]

Lt. Col. Rashid Bakhit Al Jumairi, assistant director of follow up and investigation at the Dubai Naturalization and Residency Administration, told Human Rights Watch that according to the law, “they [the employers] should not hold passports.” But he justified the practice by saying, “sometimes workers lose their passports so the safest place to keep it is at the company offices.”[72] Maj. Aref Mohammad Baqer, deputy director of the Human Rights Department at Dubai Police, told Human Rights Watch that companies justify this as customary and also to protect their own interests:

“The companies say that holding of passports is part of the business culture. They justify it by saying it would prevent the workers from stealing money or trade secrets and information from the company. Also employers say that by holding on to their workers’ passports, they can guarantee they will get a return on the money they invest on each worker in visa fees and other expenses.”[73]

UAE courts have specifically held this practice to be unlawful. In 2001, the Dubai Court of Cassation issued the following ruling:

“[I]t is not permitted for an employer to confiscate the passport of an employee and prevent him from his natural right to travel and move whatever the nature of the relationship that ties them together. Confiscating a passport from his owner is nothing but a method of the many methods that prohibit an employee from travel and this is ruled by the text of Article 329 of the civil procedure law that raises the cases in which preventing travel is permitted, and the condition that the order must be issued by a judge in accordance with the formal and practical procedures as defined by law.”[74]

By withholding workers’ passports, employers exercise an unreasonable degree of control over their workers. Despite the fact that both government officials and UAE courts have reiterated the unlawfulness of this practice, the government has not taken any steps to put an end to it.

Safety and Health Hazards

Death and injury in site accidents

The extent of death and injury of migrant workers is one of the most troubling, if poorly documented, aspects of the construction sector in the UAE. As described below, there appear to be no official countrywide government figures on cases of death and injury of construction workers. The few figures available from government sources cover only Dubai, and even these figures appear to be well below the figures compiled by private sources. This discrepancy in numbers can be attributed in part to the extremely low incidence of companies reporting deaths and injuries to the government.

DubaiMunicipality recorded 34 deaths of construction workers at their workplaces in 2004 and 39 deaths in 2005.[75] Independent research by a construction trade publication, Construction Week, found that a total of 880 migrant construction workers died in the UAE in 2004: 460 from India, 375 from Pakistan and approximately forty-five from Bangladesh.[76] While the Construction Week report did not provide information regarding the cause of death so it is unclear how many were work-related accidents, an official with the Indian Community Welfare Committee, K. Kumar, told Construction Week that he believed up to 30 percent of the deaths of the Indians in the report were related to site accidents.[77] The Construction Week investigation provided some breakdown of the information by emirate, citing Indian embassy and consular records of 292 Indian construction worker deaths in Dubai and the northern emirates and 168 in Abu Dhabi, so extrapolating from Kumar’s 30 percent estimate would mean that of 138 Indians who died in site accidents in 2004, 88 were in Dubai and the northern emirates. Given that Dubai’s construction boom far outpaces the rest of the northern emirates, it is difficult to reconcile the likelihood that a high proportion of these estimated 88 Indian deaths were in Dubai with the 34 worksite deaths officially reported there, for all nationalities.

An official at the Indian consulate in Dubai told Human Rights Watch that it has registered 971 death cases in 2005, of which 61 are registered assite accidents. Again, this contrasts sharply with the 39 deaths recorded that year by the Dubai government for all nationalities.

Heat-related illnesses

A serious health hazard faced by construction workers is the extreme climatic conditions. The mean maximum temperatures in the UAE during the months of April to September are well above 90oF (32oC), with humidity in excess of 80 percent.[78] For the construction workers who spend the vast majority of their time working under such conditions, heat-related illnesses are a manifestation of dangerous working conditions. The heat and humidity are considered a health hazard especially during the months of July and August, when temperatures regularly peak above 100oF (38oC).

According to the Dubai chapter of the World Safety Organization, heat-related illness is the most important health issue facing construction workers.[79] This includes heat-stroke as well as dehydration. As many as 5,000 construction workers per month were brought into the accident and emergency department of RashidHospital in Dubai during July and August 2004: Dr. G.Y. Naroo, acting head of the accident and emergency department, told Construction Week, “[O]ur initial assessment of how many heat related [cases] that came into the hospital was 2,500 per month. But once the secondary assessment was done inside the hospital, we realized it came out to be double.”[80]

Media reports claim that the UAE underreports construction worker heat-related deaths in hospitals.[81]

In June 2005, several health professionals called for a law banning construction work during the afternoons in July and August. Dr. Rajeev Gupta told Khaleej Times,

“During the months of July and August, when the mercury soars to unbearable limits, UAE records a spate of cases where laborers are hospitalized due to heat strokes and cramps. Heat exhaustion or heat stroke is preventable if one takes precautionary measures. The most important of which is not to expose oneself to the sun from eleven in the morning to five in the evening.”[82]

In response, the Ministry of Labor issued a decree in June 2005 banning outdoor work between the hours of 12:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. during July and August.[83] It resulted in reducing heat-related admissions to hospitals, with Dr. Naroo of the Rashid Hospital, Dubai, telling reporters on July 29 that “only 1,200 to 1,500 [cases] are anticipated this month.”[84] That the decree did not go even further in reducing heat-related admissions is probably because many companies openly ignored it-government inspectors reported that during July and August 2005, more than 60 percent of the companies inspected did not follow the afternoon break law.[85] The authorities did not fine a single company for breaking the law.[86]

Moreover, the afternoon break rules have not been adopted on a permanent basis. In May 2006, the UAE Contractors’ Association (UAECA) lobbied the government to repeal the 2005 decree because “the re-introduction of the ban this year would create major problems for the sector.”[87] In July 2006, the Ministry of Labor announced that it had curtailed the midday break to between 12:30 p.m. and 3 p.m.[88] At a press conference to announce the change, when asked about the reduction in hours, Minister of Labor Ali bin Abdullah Al Kaabi said, “The contractors should be asked about the reduction in the hours, as they are the ones who have decided the timings.”[89] The minister’s reply is a clear indication of the construction industry’s ability to influence labor laws and regulations without regard for the health and safety of workers.

Health and safety reporting and oversight deficiencies

The federal government’s failure to monitor the conduct of construction companies is highlighted by the significant discrepancies between government and private sources regarding the annual numbers of dead and injured construction workers. The government has no comprehensive data about numbers, causes of death or injury, or about the identity of those dead or injured, as Dr. Khalid Khazraji, labor undersecretary at the Ministry of Labor, admitted to the media in November 2005.[90] The government is clearly not enforcing the mechanism that would assist it to do so: although under UAE law companies must immediately notify the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs and the police of cases of death and injury of employees at work sites,[91] according to government officials quoted in the local media, companies are ignoring their legal obligation in this regard, so true fatality and injury figures remain unknown.[92] For example, in 2005, only six construction companies in Dubai (out of nearly six thousand ) filed reports with the Ministry of Labor of death or injury among their workers.[93] With nearly six thousand construction companies operating in Dubai, however, injuries at only six companies is hard to fathom. Based on the diverging figures of government and private sources, a number of media reports allege that the construction sector has sought to cover up the extent of death and injury among workers.[94]

On July 14, 2006, in a letter to the minister of labor, Human Rights Watch asked for information regarding the death and injury rates of construction workers throughout the country and the discrepancy between government figures for death and injury in Dubai (the only official figures publicly available) and the ones reported by Construction Week. The reply received from the UAE government at the end of September did not address this.

UAE law provides that Ministry of Labor inspectors ensure that employers properly comply with safety and health regulations.[95] However, since the Ministry employs only 140 inspectors to oversee the practices of over 240,000 businesses, it is doubtful that provisions of the labor law with regard to safety and health of workers are being properly implemented. On September 8, 2006, the government announced plans to increase the number of inspectors to 1,000 within the next 18 months.[96]

Illegal workers particularly vulnerable

Some migrant construction workers are in the UAE illegally, and are particularly vulnerable because their employers do not want to take responsibility for them when they are injured at the workplace. According to a local Indian social activist who tracks injured workers:

Private foremen, working on behalf of manpower supply companies, hire a van and drive around hiring illegal construction workers. Because there is a high demand for labor in the construction sector, contractors turn to manpower supply companies to address labor shortages. Local government officials are very helpful in fining companies who hire illegal workers but it is a problem. Manpower supply companies are mostly run by expats [expatriates] who employ illegal workers. They are a big part of the problem. Accidents should be reported to the police, but these employers avoid doing so because they don’t want to pay for proper compensation.[97]

In a visit to the government-run Kuwaiti Hospital in Sharjah on February 21, 2006, Human Rights Watch found two men, one an illegal worker and the status of the other worker unknown, hospitalized due to accidents at construction sites. Both had been “dumped” at the hospital by their employers who did not identify themselves to the hospital authorities.

One, an Indian construction worker named Chekelli, was hospitalized for back injuries. According to an Indian businessman who was helping Chekelli to return to India:

“Chekelli was working for a manpower supply company who employed him illegally. Chekelli is from Nizamuddin in Andhra Pradesh in India. He arrived in the UAE on a tourist visa and was subsequently employed by a manpower supply company. He worked at a construction site in Dubai. A large cement bucket fell on his back from a crane, pinning him to the ground. He was admitted to the KuwaitiHospital on January 22, 2006. His employer disappeared after dumping the injured man at the hospital. The employer claimed that he had fallen from a staircase.”[98]

The seriousness of Chekalli’s injuries meant that he was paralyzed. He would be returning to India without receiving any compensation for his work-related injuries.

The other patient we met had been transferred from Al Kasima Hospital that same day. He was identifiably also Indian, but no one knew his name or what had happened to him. According to his doctor, he appeared to have suffered a serious head injury. When our researcher tried to interview the patient, the man was confused and incoherent. He could not recall what had happened to him and when asked about his employer or any associates, he kept turning to his pillow, looking for a piece of paper that was not there. His doctor said that he is probably suffering from memory loss. It was not clear who would take care of his return to India, since no information about him was known.

Suicides on the rise

In the past few years, the media has reported several cases of suicide of construction workers distressed about their working conditions. Accurate and reliable data on the number of suicides is, of course, hard to come by. According to Syed Mubarak, labor attach at the Indian consulate in Dubai, 84 Indian nationals committed suicide in 2005 alone, although it is not clear how many of these cases involved construction workers.[99]

Human Rights Watch documented one case involving a construction worker who committed suicide at his labor camp after his employer allegedly failed to pay him his wages.[100] A labor camp manager in Sonapar, Dubai, told us how on January 9, 2006, Julfikar Korani, a worker from India, committed suicide by hanging himself from the ceiling of a bathroom inside the camp. According to the camp manager, Julfikar had arrived from Calcutta in June 2005 to work as a carpenter. The camp manager said Julfakir’s monthly wage was 700 AED ($190), and if he worked overtime he could earn up to 1,100 AED ($300), but the manager presented Zulfikar’s wage records showing that the employer had paid him only for one month in the more than six months since he had started working.[101]

Julfakir’s cousin, Jakir, who lives at the same camp, said Julfakir took a loan of 90,000 Indian rupees ($2,000) to obtain a visa to work in the UAE. Jakir said Julfakir had to repay 6,300 rupees ($140) monthly, and that Julfikar was under financial stress because he was falling behind on his loan repayments.[102] The camp manager said that after Julfikar’s suicide, no one cared to investigate; even the police did not ask any questions.[103]

Construction Week reported on another case of a worker who committed suicide after allegedly suffering wage exploitation at the hands of his employer. Arumugam Venketesan, a 24-year-old Indian national, worked for a manpower supply company. Construction Week reported that “the company that brought him [Venketesan] to Dubai was being paid between 15 AED [$4.10] and 20 AED [$5.50] per hour for the labor they supplied to contractors. But this company passed on a mere 3 AED [$0.80] per hour to its workers.”[104] Venketesan’s suicide note is a heart-wrenching and eye-opening account of his daily struggles in the face of exploitation:

“I have been made to work without any money for months. Now, for a month I’ve been suffering from a constant headache and wanted to visit a doctor to examine my condition. I asked my camp boss for 50 [$14] but he refused and told me to get back to work After my death I want the company to pay all my salary dues to my family and repay the financial debt my family has incurred because of them.”[105]

Commenting on the general phenomenon and the circumstances leading to such suicides, Dr. Shiv Prakash, a psychiatrist at the NewMedicalCenter and Hospital in Dubai, was quoted in Construction Week as saying,

:When these workers reach here and they realize what they have gotten themselves into and see that they’ve lost everything, they react to it. They feel trapped as they now know that they can’t go back either. There’s no escape. They know that they are in a bonded labor type of situation and are reacting to what they think is the biggest mistake in their life, an irreparable loss. It is the reaction to this loss which can lead to suicidal contemplation.”[106]

January 8, 2010

From Dubai’s Tower of Debt- By LAURA FLANDERS

Filed under: Politics — movementofthought @ 6:31 am

मशहूर इतिहासकार डी. डी. कौशाम्बी ने ताजमहल बनने की कहानी बयां करते हुए लिखा है कि ताजमहल बनने में कुल बीस साल लगे जिसे दो लाख मजदूरों व कारीगरों ने दिन रात मेहनत करके खड़ा किया। लेकिन इस प्रक्रिया में हजारों मजदूर दफ्न हो गए। यह कहानी इस लिए याद आई क्योंकि अभी 2010 में दुबई में 850 मीटर ऊंचा ‘खलीफा बुर्ज़’ खड़ा किया गया है और सदियों पुरानी वह कहानी फिर दुहराई गयी है। इसे बनाने मंे मुख्यतः भारत और पाकिस्तान के ग़रीब अप्रवासी मजदूरों का योगदान है। और यह खुला रहस्य है कि इस भव्य इमारत की नींव में हज़ारों मजदूर दबे पड़े हैं। पूंजीवादी विकास और शानो-शौकत का यही कड़वा सच है। देखिये पूरा लेख जिसे हमने काउण्टर पंच से साभार लिया है। -सम्पादक

New year, new symbol? Dubai’s new tower fits. The $1.5 billion building unveiled in downtown Dubai Monday is the world’s new tallest tower. More than half a mile high, more than two Empire State buildings tall, the Dubai tower boasts 169 stories, the world’s highest swimming pool, the world’s highest place of worship, and the world’s tallest mountain of denial.

History repeats. Like the Empire State building before it, the Dubai tower was built in a global depression when cheap labor was plentiful, as were the dreams of the ambitious and affluent.

The engineering marvel was constructed in the desert heat by low paid immigrant workers, mostly Indians and Pakistanis, paid 5-20 dollar a day. (It’s a state secret how many lost their lives in the process.) While the state-owned construction operation suppressed worker demands and banned unions from the site, it catered to consumer fantasy with equal extravagance. The tower features 144 apartments and a hotel designed by Giorgio Armani, the Italian designer. In the super scraper, the super-affluent can live and vacation without leaving the brand, or the building.

On Monday, Dubai’s Sheikh Mohammed and his Chicago-based architects hailed their building as a symbol of future good all things great. There’s just one glitch. According to the Sunday Times, that future involves melting the equivalent of 28 million pounds of ice a day for air conditioning, and the consumption of billions of gallons of desalinated water in a city-state that already has the world’s highest per-capita carbon footprint.

The climate actually changes as you ride the elevator. It’s way, way hotter at the bottom. The engineers are doing everything in their power to counter physics and so far so good. But rising heat of a far less metaphorical sense already struck in the form of economics.

In last minute switch at its inauguration Monday night, the Burj Dubai (“Dubai Tower”) was renamed the Burj Khalifa. It was a rather ignominious concession to reality. Sheikh Khalifa, the head of Abu Dhabi, Dubai’s oil rich neighbor, has repeatedly saved Dubai from financial collapse during the construction of the tower most recently, just three weeks back when devastating defaults beckoned.

It’s hardly a win for the hot people at the bottom, but it’s a big hit for Dubai’s would-be cool and competitive leaders. Theirs is a tower of debt. How perfect. Welcome to the decade.

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