August 31, 2012
August 25, 2012
Having grown up at a time and in a place where I did, this word Extradition evokes strong memories for me. That was a time and a place when demands were made for extradition of certain persons. They were made again and again, month after month, year after year, for more than a decade. And they were routinely denied. No one was ever extradited. Not once, not ever. It didn’t even come near it.
The place of origin of these demands was India. The crime involved was terrorism. There is more to say about this word, but let’s use it just to proceed further. This terrorism went on for a little less than two decades. And the terrorist attacks in this case claimed more lives in indiscriminate attacks on random people (and some targeted ones, including a few very important ones). The number, if added up for this period, would probably be more than all the terrorist attacks directed by ‘Islamic terrorists’ against Western countries, Israel *and* India, summed up for the whole period of ‘Islamic terrorist’ attacks. I am, of course, excluding the cases where the victims of Islamic attacks were, or are, Muslims, such as the routine terrorist attacks in Iraq or Pakistan or Afghanistan. Those lives, right now, have perhaps the least value, that is, as victims of terrorist attacks. Otherwise, of course, there are plenty who die daily in the Global South without anyone ever noticing.
The important ones I mentioned included the assassination of the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, which was followed by a free-for-all carnage, a pogrom, against the Sikhs all over India, especially in Delhi. The toll in this pogrom was of the same order as a later one against Muslims, that is, around (or more than) 2000 dead, murdered by mobs. Happy, healthy and normal people they all were, or at least most of them were.
In both these cases the pogrom was sponsored and supported by the ruling party and was not hindered in any way by the police. And both are usually called ‘riots’, which in Indian English means a riot between two groups or communities, as if both parties in it were equally guilty. Needless to add that most of the Sikhs killed had nothing to do with terrorism.
And in both the cases, there were prominent politicians of the respective ruling parties (one centrist and one right-wing Fascist) who had led the mobs in their killings in several incidents. None of them was ever punished for their crimes, even though their involvement was well known. They, instead, went on with their participation in government, being Ministers and the like. All attempts to bring them to justice failed. Again and again.
The locality in New Delhi where I lived during most of the latter part of this period was very next to a place where many of the survivors of the pogrom had been relocated in slum-like dwellings (ours was slightly better). The most notable thing about them was that they happened to be mostly Dalit (Majabi) Sikhs, the lower castes in a religion that is supposed to have no place for inequality of human beings. The fact is, that the majority of victims of the pogrom were the most vulnerable Dalit Sikhs. Not by any co-incidence, though. One stroll through that place made you understand the utter desolation, despair, hopelessness and helplessness, even as they tried bravely to go on living.
They were much better off than their counterparts in the Gujarat pogrom that was perpetrated in 2002.
It was only later, when the bloodthirst had been satisfied, that the army was called in (as is the custom in India) to ‘restore calm’.
The pogrom naturally lead to a further spurt in terrorist activities. This terrorism with a huge toll of Indian lives (that most have forgotten about, even in India, or at least pretend to) was the ‘Punjab terrorism’. It could easily be called the ‘Sikh terrorism’, but that would be as wrong as any talk of ‘Islamic terrorism’. ‘Punjab terrorism’ is a more objective term, because, like in most (perhaps all) other cases of terrorism, there was a grievance involved. Whether the grievance was justified or not is a debate that I don’t want to get into here. It was a part of a secessionist movement: secession of the state of Punjab from the Indian nation. It would be fair and accurate to say that for many years this movement had considerable support among the Sikhs in Punjab and elsewhere. Elsewhere in India as well as abroad.
The movement, and the terrorism associated with it, was suppressed with increasing brutality by the Indian state, reaching to levels in the 1990s that can be only hinted at by terms like mass cremations and summary executions.
Most of the people involved, on the ground, in this brutal suppression , it must be mentioned, were themselves Sikhs. The Good Sikhs. Like the one who is the current Indian Prime Minister. I mean he is a Good Sikh, not that he was involved in the brutal suppression then (he has been in other brutal suppressions that came later). Just as a former President of India was a Good Muslim and another was also a Good Sikh. And still another a Good Muslim. Two more, in fact. And just as the current President of the US is a Good Negro.
In this matter we progressed much earlier than the US.
Various men were put in charge to put down this movement and the terrorism associated with it. They included a strict police chief (Julio Ribeiro, a Christian) who had made his name in Mumbai and elsewhere. Another was a Bengali Hindu, who was made Governor of Punjab. He was a prominent politician in the history of Independent India. He was the one credited with putting down (most brutally) the (Maoist) Naxalite uprising in West Bengal as the Governor of that state in the 70s. He was also a great friend of one of the most respected Communist leaders in Indian history, Jyoti Basu, long time Chief Minister of West Bengal. Jyoti Basu was a leader of the pro-China Communist Party of India (Marxist), which came from the *left-wing* of the original Communist Party of India. This party, which ruled West Bengal for a record period of time (there is an interesting story there too), was trying to implement, with enthusiasm, the Capitalistic Neo-Liberal policies, when it ran against a popular movement that opposed those policies and was ousted from power a few years ago.
These two men, Ribeiro and Ray, achieved some ‘successes’, but the movement/terrorism continued.
Then another man, this time a Sikh named Kanwar Pal Singh Gill was made the police chief of Punjab. He was removed once, but was soon brought back. He had gained (long) experience in his job in the North-East of India, ‘a hotbed of secessionist movements’. He was the one who ultimately crushed the movement and virtually stopped terrorism (though sporadic incidents happened even later on). He did this, by leading what can be described with some justification, as a reign of terror: the mass cremations referred to earlier, just to mention one major kind of event.
He had a kind of explanation of what was done under his rule (he was given a free hand by the then Chief Minister, who was also assassinated). He famously said that this was a Jat Sikh versus Jat Sikh affair, thereby telling those who raised objections that this is between us and you outsiders have nothing to do with this. And there was some truth in this. For the majority of those who were involved in the secessionist movement and terrorism were indeed Jat Sikhs, that is, upper caste Sikhs (not the Majabi Sikhs). And Jat Sikhs also formed an overwhelming majority in the (Punjab) state repression machinery, the police, most importantly. So, in a way, it was Jat Sikh versus Jat Sikh. But you can accept this argument only if you ignore the presence of the Indian state and the rest of the Indians, who, of course were very clear about which side of the Jat Sikhs they were supporting. They basically took the stance that, well, settle it among yourselves and let us know. If it is the wrong side that wins, we will see what we need to do.
K. P. S. Gill is a very respectable and admired figure in India. He writes regular columns for a best-selling, secular, one could say progressive magazine.
I must confess here that, though I strongly disapproved of his (and his predecessors’) methods, I was looking forward to the end of this movement/terrorism in which lots of people were being killed, in my opinion (as a nationlist), unnecessarily.
Does all this make very clear sense? Very strange things happen in the world and, if you want to understand them, you have to be sure that you know enough about them, not to mention having (and keeping) an open mind.
Anyway, like ‘Islamic terrorism’, the Punjab terrorism too was a creation of the same people who would later work hard to suppress it. It is common knowledge (as in the other case) that the ruling party in New Delhi under Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and with the active involvement of a man who would later become India’s President, had propped up the early figurehead of this movement, a religious fanatic (sounds familiar?), who would later be killed in the infamous attack by the Indian security forces on the Golden Temple (familiar again?).
But this man, the figurehead, Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, was only one of the important men in this movement. As I said earlier, the movement had considerable support. And some of this support came from *some* Sikhs living abroad.
So as these terrorist attacks took place in various cities in India, but especially in the Punjab and in New Delhi, the government of India started taking various measures. And that included (familiar! familiar!) efforts at preventing people from giving support to the terrorists. It was widely known then that some people living abroad were actively providing help, or even organizing, the attacks. These were, on quite objective grounds, terrorists living abroad who were involved in one terrorist attack after another on the Indian soil.
The Indian government, therefore, wanted these men. The government demanded that they be, yes, extradited to India.
The places they were living in were (mainly) the US, Canada, but most importantly, the UK.
Yes, Pakistan too, but that’s the default location where anti-India people live. I don’t even need to mention it, do I?
The Indian government was asking the UK (or the British, whichever you prefer) government, among others, to extradite these men to India. The demands were made again and again. And they were rejected again and again. There were courts who took up these matters and they, again and again, concluded that these men could not be extradited to India because they could not expect a fair trial there, even if there was substantial evidence that they were involved in all those horrible attacks.
During the latter part of this period, I had moved to Delhi, from a place that is not far from there. That was the only period when I actually sometimes felt the threat of a terrorist attack, because public transport buses were among the main targets and I was travelling in them all the time. And I was still a nationalist in those days, even if of a kind that is unusual. Therefore, I noted, with a great deal of resentment, how these extradition requests were routinely denied by the big powers of the world. Oh yes, the same powers who are now prepared to do the unthinkable for a matter that would be dismissed with derisive laughter in most Indian police stations. And courts. Unless, of course, it involved the uncovering of the crimes against humanity on the part of the Indian government or the big corporations (there is hardly a difference between the two now).
I had strong feelings about this and I also noted, with equal resentment, how the Western media (such as the BBC) used terms like ‘secessionists’ for those who carried out these massive terrorist attacks in India, whereas they always called the Palestinians involved in the most minor attacks against their countries (or Israel), without any qualification or explanation, ‘terrorists’. At one point I had even written a letter of protest to the BBC. I don’t remember whether I actually sent it or not.
This whole long episode is a wound for India, and for me, that has not completely healed. Things, though, have been swept under the carpet.
And other things, of course, changed with ’9/11′, as India began its love affair with the US. And with great effort, we are now able to get the world attention to terrorist attacks in India. There are advantages in being close to the global powers. Or should I say The Global Power?
Close is a relative word. For, even now, victims of terrorist attacks in India, with all the Great Game realignment, deserve much less attention that those in the West.
Never mind. There has been some progress.
By the way, the ‘Punjab terrorism’ also marked the beginning of the security culture in India. This culture was still within sane limits, but it just went off the hook after ’9/11′ and the attack on the Indian Parliament. Ever since then it has been going further and further off into the realms of insanity, just like in most other places in the world. A lot of people have a great deal to benefit from this kind of insanity.
There are a whole lot of details about this matter (the Punjab terrorism and the extradition, or the Western response to it in general) that could be given. On a case by case basis. Each case has a long story. But I am not the right person to tell those stories.
The long and short is that there were horrible terrorist attacks and some of the terrorist ‘master-minds’ were provided safe havens in the US, Canada and the UK. And none was ever extradited, in spite of the repeated attempts by the Indian government, including long court proceedings in those countries. Including, even, attempts at lobbying in the rulings circles of those countries.
Given all this, you can guess what I, or other people with similar memories, must feel when that Cameron guy or that Hague guy stands up solemnly and declares how the UK is going to carry out its obligation to extradite someone, who, in any fair world, would be considered, if not a hero, at least a symbol of great positive change.
And the non-stop, mean, vicious, most hateful chorus of yapping lapdogs, he-dogs and she-dogs (with laptops) goes on, at their masters’ feet. They get the good bones thrown to them regularly. And pats on their backs. May be hugs and kisses sometimes.
(See how it has provoked me too into hateful yapping).
To put it in the most charitable way, they are the spoilt brats, not the students striking in Quebec.
But positive change is a scarce commodity in a world of Free (but definitely not free) and Fair (but certainly not fair) Markets.
I wonder how an Iraqi observing daily terrorist attacks, and living in fear of them, should feel about the great international criminals who set up this situation in his country. In the name of democracy.
How easy it is to forget that Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan have been the biggest victims of terrorist attacks in the world for the last many years. And here I just use the word in the conventional sense, not the state (Empire) and corporate terrorism, of which also they are very major victims.
The Indian government (with that same supposedly centrist party in power now as then), by the way, would like to forget about this affair. And understandably so, given its own crimes of a massive magnitude. Before, during, and after this affair.
I have not been a nationalist for a long time now. If the same thing were to happen again, I am not sure I would be enthusiastic about the (Indian) government’s attempts to get people extradited. And that is, to put it simply, because (on these matters) I simply don’t trust the Indian government, or any government, at all. In fact, I don’t trust anything that even smells a little of ‘counter-terrorism’. As far as I am concerned, the greatest threat that I feel is from this ‘counter-terrorism’ (or anything of the kind), as it encapsulates within it all the horrors of the worst kind of terrorism. And more. And I can give you plenty of reasons why.
Some I just gave, didn’t I?
Did I mention the (half) white American man involved in the Mumbai terrorist attacks?
How Two Administrations and Both Parties Made Illegality the American Way of Life
August 22, 2012
And What Happens to Those who Pay for the Development and the Progress
Coming Soon: What Happens to Those who Pay for Saving the Ecology
August 18, 2012
August 13, 2012
Bravo! You just confirmed your status as a Homo sacer.
I had to do this. I couldn’t breath. All that incense from Obama worship of the last four-five (or is it six?) years has been choking me. Even at this distance. And there promises to be more of it.
So would you prefer Romney worship?
You must be joking. There may come to be Romney rule (though very unlikely), but there is no Romney worship. There couldn’t be. And that’s a huge difference.
What about the other one?
You mean Romney’s other one? The meritorious one, who was helped by Social Security? The Junior Senior? Yes, that one is a different story, though he is just the other one for now. I may have to worry about that one soon, it seems. Still, worship in that one’s case is unlikely to be on the same scale (all dimensions: depth, breadth, intensity, variety etc.) as that of the one we now have.
The ruling class has the best man in the White House to advance its agenda. The fundamental contradiction in U.S. politics today is that Obama is probably the best “Republican president” in the modern era.
August 8, 2012
In the early years of the first decade of this new century, I was watching television, the (socialist democratic) state sponsored channel in India, and there came on the screen an impressive advertisement. It started with a view of a prosperous modern city through the window of a room in a presumably prosperous house. Through the window, overlooking the sea, you could see on the opposite coast (what is for Indians) an iconic view of the dream city of Mumbai. Shining tall buildings in a shining city on the sea coast.
It was a serene view, or may be my adjective is not strong enough. But then the camera slowly started moving closer to the window, in the fashion that it does in horror movies. It was so effective that I still remember the feeling. And as the camera got closer to the window, two more things started happening. The first was a buzzing sound that grew louder in sync with the camera movement. The second was that something like a dust cloud became visible and you noticed that it was also moving closer to the window from the opposite side, again in sync with the camera movement, horror movie fashion. Within a few seconds you realized that this was an invasion of a paradise-like world by hordes (wrong word?) of mosquitoes. A tsunami of mosquitoes, if you like.
In the <=60 seconds advertisement, the prosperous city was saved by the heroic mosquito repellent, but many will agree that there are cities all over the world threatened by similar catastrophes. And these many (in fact, many many) understand that there is a need for strong, effective and heroic mosquito repellents to prevent such catastrophes.
This realization is not a new one. Bertrand Russell, in his History of Western Philosophy, wrote a chapter about Nietzsche. In his summary of the philosopher’s political outlook, Russell took Nietzsche to the task for advocating (in effect) that all the powerful people should unite against the weak. Moreover, they should not allow the weak to get together to challenge the powerful. The world should be dominated by the powerful and it should, so to say, belong to the powerful.
No meek-shall-inherit-the-world business.
Of course, this is my paraphrase of what he wrote, but it is a fairly faithful one. I read this book sometime after I had seen that ad, and this kind of political outlook (against which Russell worked extensively throughout his life) reminded me of that ad. So I called this political philosophy ‘the Mosquito Repellent Philosophy’ and labelled it thus on the margins of the book.
The 21st century is becoming, faster and faster, the century of the Mosquito Repellent Philosophy. The powerful people all over the world are uniting against the weak. They see themselves as something of Nietzsche’s Supermen, the meritorious people, to shift to another terminology. That their claims of being so meritorious may be questionable and that their ‘merit’ or their evidence of merit may be just a sham is a long and different story, worthy of venturing into some other time.
They include the Global Elite and, more importantly, they also include the Aspiring (to be) Global Elite as well as the members of the Global Elite Admiration Society. They employ and are served by huge numbers of somewhat-less-meritorious people who believe that their children (or grand children) may turn out to be meritorious and may some day join the Global Elite.
They work hard to keep the world safe from, you know, mosquitoes and the like.
From people like me, and perhaps those like you. Or are you one of the Knights Repellent?
August 6, 2012
That’s me. Or one of them. And here is how and why.
“With so many Africans in Greece, at least the mosquitoes of West Nile will eat homemade food.”
It just so happened that she retweeted it 100 times before the angry reactions forced her to stop. Evidently she was very pleased with her creativity. And you can’t deny that it is quite creative for racist jokes.
Poor girl. Although she was unlikely to win any medals anyway, but still, she did prepare for it for a long time. She is reported to be a popular figure in Greece. She is also an admirer of the far-right (male) politician who publicly and repeatedly slapped another (female) politician of the left, a video of which was widely watched on the Web.
Poor girl, because she is clearly a scapegoat. It’s not as if she is alone in doing such things in our times. She, in fact, has a lot of defenders:
But a Facebook group grew to more than 6,000 members in just two hours to support Papachristou: “In Greece, it’s better to for athletes to dope than to have a sense of humor,” the post read. “We feel sorry for this tragic decision of the Greek Olympic Committee.”
And also this ingenuous defense, which, even if quite common, would make any organizational/institutional spokesman (or PR-man) proud, albeit with some editing and sprucing up:
First, the racist part: Here is the tweet translated: ”With so many Africans in Greece, the West Nile mosquitoes will be getting home food!!!”. How is this racist? Is “African” now considered a race? If anything, it is national origin, but doesn’t that include Arab people from Egypt and Whites from other parts? Isn’t automatically saying everyone from Africa is a “Race”(of course, they mean black) a huge stereotype? How the hell is every news organization reporting this getting that basic part wrong?
Consider also what she had to say after she was thrown out of the Olympics:
“I don’t know if they want to make an example out of me because of my profile, this is for others to judge, but what I believe is that they used their maximum disciplinary power on me for this,” Papachristou said. “They went straight to the final stage in excluding me from the team, which was highly excessive.”
And especially this:
“We have zero support from the state,” she said. “There are a lot of things that people do not know about, such as the unacceptable conditions in which we have to train.
“For example, there is no heating and no hot water even to take a shower in winter, no air conditioning in the summer and squalid training facilities and equipment in a state of disrepair.
“These are just the tip of the iceberg without mentioning the financial side and how we have been affected by massive cuts in state-funding for sport.”
So my point is that she has indeed been unfairly treated. Why should she be singled out for such a harsh punishment? Initially I had meant this ironically, but after a bit of thought, I now don’t. This is my honest opinion.
You see, the keyword in this whole episode is ‘mosquito’. What is it? Well, setting aside what spokesmen, PR guys and morons may have to say on this, the problem is that the word was not used by her in a literal sense, that is, to refer to real mosquitoes, a species of the phylum Arthropoda.
By the way, even the word Arthropoda is not always used literally.
It can be variously described as a metaphor, a euphemism or a code word. Selecting the last description on the grounds of highest specificity, we can say that it’s a code word for certain kinds of people, that is, for other human beings or Homo Sapiens.
What kind? As with most word usages, this depends on the context. For example, in the part of the world where I come from (western side of the north of India), it can mean someone from the eastern side of that region, viz. someone from the states of Bihar or Eastern U.P. Or it can mean a person with an emaciated body, i.e., one who looks likes a dirt poor man. A Bhaiya type, if you like.
Since I do look like that, here is what often (far too often) happens. I am going along my way (yes, really just minding my own business) and two (or more) people on the way look at me and one of them says to the other(s): मच्छर बहुत हो गए हैं यहाँ (there are too many mosquitoes here these days). Needless to say, the same thing happens to so many others, making me wonder: Don’t they ever get bored of this stale-as-fossil-fuel joke? But they don’t. It is one of the most popular ones. But I suspect that it has stopped being a joke now and has turned into a social comment.
It can also include gays, but we don’t mention gays or gaiety in polite conversation. Even in the 21st century.
Well, it was always a social comment, but what I mean is that the joke part has worn off. Could that be the reason many people didn’t find it amusing?
And in the part of the world where I am living in right now (western side of the North of the world: what a coincidence!), it usually means someone from the Global South. Or the Global East (oh boy!).
And all over the world, it can mean one more thing, or variations of one more thing: a person of a minority community, a person of minority opinion, a migrant or an immigrant, a dissident, a social outcast, a political radical and so on. Yes, that includes communists.
But the exact usage depends on the context and the context isn’t just the surrounding words or the topic under discussion. It also includes the social/cultural/national/racial/political identities of the people talking with each other (if that is the situation under which the utterance was produced).
So, for example, if a group of white Europeans and/or (US) Americans are talking to each other, the word under consideration can refer to Asian, or to Arabs, or to Muslims, or to Blacks, or even to Jews (don’t be so surprised). On the other hand, if the group consists of white Europeans-Americans and one or more, say, Asians, then the same word can refer to Arabs/Muslims/Blacks etc. It then does not (usually) include Asians. But it can again include Asians once the Asian(s) in the group leaves. The power of social relations, you know. And so on.
If the group is truly multi-cultural, the word can still be used to refer to other human beings. The last category that we mentioned above: poor or dissident or outcast or radical.
So (for example) I am in a cold country of the Global North and Global West. And I am there with two other persons. One is a more than middle aged person of high qualifications and high education and (I think) very liberal outlook. The other is young but with similar characteristics. But he is from the eastern side of the Global North.
We are all walking on the road and it starts to drizzle. The whether seems to be a getting little colder, though it is summer, and I mention the fact to the others. To my shock, the comment is seemingly taken as offensive and all liberal gloves come off for just a moment. The older person says curtly, “At least it keeps the malaria mosquitoes to the South”. And the younger one immediately follows that up (no gap between the two comments that I can perceive) with, “Yes, to the very South”. And I am put in my proper place.
I am from the very South and I am known to be an outcast and a dissident (this is polite word that I am using to keep my dignity: the actual words in this knowing might be different, understandably). Which is often synonymous with communists, notwithstanding the fact that most communists around the world are now enthusiastically practicing neoliberal capitalism, beloved of those who would make such comments.
Governments around the world talk about areas ‘infested’ with this or that kind of insurgents (who could just be dissidents or resisters or protesters, that is, non-violent). They are also talking about (other) human beings. We can debate whether they are using a metaphor or a euphemism or a code word, but they are not talking of literal infestation by members of the phylum Arthropoda.
To sum it up, I am a (malaria) mosquito several times over and she is just an ordinary girl who made a youthful mistake. So I can identify with her (sort of) and I feel sorry for her, also on account of the fact that my being a malaria mosquito has (very indirectly and very fractionally) caused her all this trouble.
Would my apologies be of any help?
And would she be able to identify with me, given that she too seems to be a kind of a dissident, as is evident from her comments above. And not very well off (if her comments are true, and there seem to no reasons why they shouldn’t be true given the current situation in Greece).
But that seems to make her too a malaria mosquito.
I hope (for her sake) that she doesn’t find that out.
And isn’t Greece to the very South of Europe?
August 4, 2012
And may be a little bit about India.
‘This one’ of the title means Global Warming in the 21st Century.
Nothing to do with us.
And don’t forget Venezuela.