Tuesday, 25 March 2008

Want American citizenship ? Fight American coalition Wars

Who are the people dying for the adventurous wars fought by old American men on Foreign Soils - while safely growing old, sittiing in Washington. Do they send their own children for dying for American glory, american brass trinkets, medals, and America's Fear and Awe Strategy ? The truth is far more sordid as the Cheneys and Bush's and the old white gentlemen fighting and scheming for American wars and defence sales equipments across the globe - would rather not tell us.
The Wars of White Old Men of Washington : from AP
A young, ambitious immigrant from Guatemala who dreamed of becoming an architect. A Nigerian medic. A soldier from China who boasted he would one day become an American general. An Indian native whose headstone displays the first Khanda, emblem of the Sikh faith, to appear in Arlington National Cemetery.

These were among more than 100 foreign-born members of the U.S. military who earned American citizenship by dying in Iraq.

Jose Gutierrez was one of the first to fall, killed by friendly fire in the dust of Umm Qasr in the opening hours of the invasion.

In death, the young Marine was showered with honors his family could only have dreamed of in life. His sister was flown in from Guatemala for his memorial service, where a Roman Catholic cardinal presided and top military officials saluted his flag-draped coffin.

And yet, his foster mother agonized as she accompanied his body back for burial in Guatemala City: Why did Jose have to die for America in order to truly belong?

Cardinal Roger Mahony of Los Angeles, who oversaw Gutierrez's service, put it differently.

"There is something terribly wrong with our immigration policies if it takes death on the battlefield in order to earn citizenship," Mahony wrote to President Bush in April 2003. He urged the president to grant immediate citizenship to all immigrants who sign up for military service in wartime.

"They should not have to wait until they are brought home in a casket," Mahony said.

But as the war continues, more and more immigrants are becoming citizens in death — and more and more families are grappling with deeply conflicting feelings about exactly what the honor means.

Gutierrez's citizenship certificate — dated to his death on March 21, 2003, — was presented during a memorial service in Lomita, Calif., to Nora Mosquera, who took in the orphaned teen after he had trekked through Central America, hopping freight trains through Mexico before illegally sneaking into the U.S.

"On the one hand I felt that citizenship was too late for him," Mosquera said. "But I also felt grateful and very proud of him. I knew it would open doors for us as a family."

"What use is a piece of paper?" cried Fredelinda Pena after another emotional naturalization ceremony, this one in New York City where her brother's framed citizenship certificate was handed to his distraught mother. Next to her, the infant daughter he had never met dozed in his fiancee's arms.

Cpl. Juan Alcantara, 22, a native of the Dominican Republic, was killed Aug. 6, 2007, by an explosive in Baqouba. He was buried by a cardinal and eulogized by a congressman but to his sister, those tributes seemed as hollow as citizenship.

"He can't take the oath from a coffin," she sobbed.

There are tens of thousands of foreign-born members in the U.S. armed forces. Many have been naturalized, but more than 20,000 are not U.S. citizens.

"Green card soldiers," they are often called, and early in the war, Bush signed an executive order making them eligible to apply for citizenship as soon as they enlist. Previously, legal residents in the military had to wait three years.

Since Bush's order, nearly 37,000 soldiers have been naturalized. And 109 who lost their lives have been granted posthumous citizenship.

They are buried with purple hearts and other decorations, and their names are engraved on tombstones in Arlington as well as in Mexico and India and Guatemala.

Among them:

• Marine Cpl. Armando Ariel Gonzalez, 25, who fled Cuba on a raft with his father and brother in 1995 and dreamed of becoming an American firefighter. He was crushed by a refueling tank in southern Iraq on April 14, 2003.

• Army Spc. Justin Onwordi, a 28-year-old Nigerian medic whose heart seemed as big as his smiling 6-foot-4 frame and who left behind a wife and baby boy. He died when his vehicle was blown up in Baghdad on Aug. 2, 2004.

• Army Pfc. Ming Sun, 20, of China who loved the U.S. military so much he planned to make a career out of it, boasting that he would rise to the rank of general. He was killed in a firefight in Ramadi on Jan. 9, 2007.

• Army Spc. Uday Singh, 21, of India, killed when his patrol was attacked in Habbaniyah on Dec. 1, 2003. Singh was the first Sikh to die in battle as a U.S. soldier, and it is his headstone at Arlington that displays the Khanda.

• Marine Lance Cpl. Patrick O'Day from Scotland, buried in the California rain as bagpipes played and his 19-year-old pregnant wife told mourners how honored her 20-year-old husband had felt to fight for the country he loved.

"He left us in the most honorable way a man could," Shauna O'Day said at the March 2003 Santa Rosa service. "I'm proud to say my husband is a Marine. I'm proud to say my husband fought for our country. I'm proud to say he is a hero, my hero."

Not all surviving family members feel so sure. Some parents blame themselves for bringing their child to the U.S. in the first place. Others face confusion and resentment when they try to bury their child back home.

At Lance Cpl. Juan Lopez's July 4, 2004, funeral in the central Mexican town of San Luis de la Paz, Mexican soldiers demanded that the U.S. Marine honor guard surrender their arms, even though the rifles were ceremonial. Earlier, the Mexican Defense Department had denied the Marines' request to conduct the traditional 21-gun salute, saying foreign troops were not permitted to bear arms on Mexican soil.

And so mourners, many deeply opposed to the war, witnessed an extraordinary 45-minute standoff that disrupted the funeral even as Lopez's weeping widow was handed his posthumous citizenship by a U.S. embassy official.

The same swirl of conflicting emotions and messages often overshadows the military funerals of posthumous citizens in the U.S.

Smuggled across the Mexican border in his mother's arms when he was 2 months old, Jose Garibay was just 21 when he died in Nasiriyah. The Costa Mesa police department made him an honorary police officer, something he had hoped one day to become. America made him a citizen.

But his mother, Simona Garibay, couldn't conceal her bewilderment and pain. It seemed, she said in interviews after the funeral, that more value was being placed on her son's death than on his life.

Immigrant advocates have similar mixed feelings about military service. Non-citizens cannot become officers or serve in high-security jobs, they note, and yet the benefits of citizenship are regularly pitched by recruiters, and some recruitment programs specifically target colleges and high schools with predominantly Latino students.

"Immigrants are lured into service and then used as political pawns or cannon fodder," said Dan Kesselbrenner, executive director of the National Immigration Project, a program of the National Lawyers Guild. "It is sad thing to see people so desperate to get status in this country that they are prepared to die for it."

Others question whether non-citizens should even be permitted to serve. Mark Krikorian of the conservative Center for Immigration Studies, argues that defending America should be the job of Americans, not non-citizens whose loyalty might be suspect. In granting special benefits, including fast-track citizenship, Krikorian says, there is a danger that soldiering will eventually become yet another job that Americans won't do.

And yet, immigrants have always fought — and died — in America's wars.

During the Cvil War, the Union army recruited Irish and German immigrants off the boat. Alfred Rascon, an illegal immigrant from Mexico, received the Medal of Honor for acts of bravery during the Vietnam war. In the 1990s, Gen. John Shalikashvili, born in Poland after his family fled the occupied Republic of Georgia, became chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

After the Iraq invasion, the U.S. Embassy in Mexico fielded hundreds of requests from Mexicans offering to fight in exchange for citizenship. They mistakenly believed that Bush's order also applied to nonresidents.

The right to become an American is not automatic for those who die in combat. Families must formally apply for citizenship within two years of the soldier's death, and not all choose to do so.

"He's Italian, better to leave it like that," Saveria Romeo says of her 23-year-old son, Army Staff Sgt. Vincenzo Romeo, who was born in Calabria, died in Iraq and is buried in New Jersey. A miniature Italian flag marks his grave, next to an American one.

"What good would it do?" she says. "It won't bring back my son."

But it would allow her to apply for citizenship for herself, a benefit only recently offered to surviving parents and spouses. Until 2003 posthumous citizenship was granted only through an act of Congress and was purely symbolic. There were no benefits for next of kin.

Romeo says she has no desire to apply. She says she couldn't bear to benefit in any way from her son's death. And besides, she feels Italian, not American.

Fernando Suarez del Solar just feels angry — angry at what he considers the futility of a war that claimed his only son, angry at the military recruiters he says courted young Jesus relentlessly even when the family still lived in Tijuana.

His son was just 13, Suarez del Solar said, when he was first dazzled by Marine recruiters in a California mall. For the next two years Jesus begged the family to emigrate and eventually they did, settling in Escondido, Calif., where the teen signed up for the Marines before he left high school.

Lance Cpl. Jesus Suarez Del Solar was 20 when he was killed by a bomb in the first week of the war. He left behind a wife and baby and parents so bitter about his death that they eventually divorced.

Today, his 52-year-old father has become an outspoken peace activist who travels the country organizing anti-war marches, giving speeches and working with counter-recruitment groups to dissuade young Latinos from joining the U.S. military.

"There is nothing in my life now but saving these young people," he says. "It is just something I feel have to do."

But first he had to journey to Iraq. He had to see for himself the dusty stretch of wasteland where his son became an American. In tears, he planted a small wooden cross. And he prayed for his son — and for all the other immigrants who became citizens in death.

Wednesday, 30 January 2008

What, where, how ?

- अगर हमारी अग्यानता की जड़ें गहरी व मज़बूत हैं ? -
- तो क्या आगे का पथ सरल व आसान हो सकता है ?
- शुरुआत कहाँ से की जाय ?

१ - किसके लिए ? -
२ - मसीहा या पथ ? -
३ - लक्षण क्या अौर कैसे ? -
४ - आधुनिक, सरल व साधनों के अनुरूप ? -
५ - ग्यान की कमी, साधनों की कमी, या विश्वास की कमी ? -

Monday, 28 January 2008

Learn One Teach One - Hindi MoinMoin Python Wiki

मोइन मोइन हिन्दी विकी - पाइथन साफ्टवेयर में हिन्दी भाषी तबके के लिए एक आधुनिक सरल व मुफ्त सेवा -

मोइन मोइन हिन्दी विकी - पाइथन साफ्टवेयर में हिन्दी भाषी तबके के लिए एक आधुनिक सरल व मुफ्त सेवा - क्या आप ग्रामीण तबके के हिन्दी भाषी हैं ?

क्या यही एक कारण है जिसकी वजह से पतलून पहनने वाले, व फर्राटे की अँग्रेज़ी बोलने वाले, आपको पछाड़ रहे हैं, अथवा आपको अपने हक से वंचित रखे हैं ?

- यह न समझें कि हिन्दी भाषी होने का अर्थ पिछडे होना है

- हिन्दी पाइथन सीखें व सिखाएँ -

- अौर अपने कार्य पर तत्परता से लग जाएँ

Wednesday, 16 January 2008

Social Production of Hierarchy

Dear All,
I find this post very interesting because it critiques the question "what is the agenda of edu-factory".
Hierarchies have always been an integral part of non Western societies but the Western world in the last 400 years has had very specific agendas in categorizing non Western societies, for political and business purposes.
This extends to non Western education, non Western values, non Western cultural mores, non Western elites and non Western society at large.
Western universities, education models and education institutions of the Oxbridge variety have played along with that agenda and portrayed themselves as physical / virtual sites and locations for a "disinterested search for knowledge and rational critique", riding on the back of what are self defined as "Western cultural values" of freedom, discussion, open debate, sound models of higher education, vis a vis, non Western hierarchies in knowledge and education.
Globalization is now seeing the business models of many such educational institutions clutching for ways and means to retain their global influence. So often, the Western educational fringe raises the questions of corporatism, wage rates, exclusion etc.
This whole model of discussing cleavages in education is suspect, because it presumes the continued domination of Western cultural values and educational institutions.
I sometimes feel, 400 years of domination over the world is enough, is it not. Let others also talk.
So when one raises the issue in terms that Xiang Biao has raised, it immediately strikes some forgotten chords in people like me - brown from the outside, white from the inside.
Xiang Bao - "Institutionalized education in most part of the human society seems intrinsically hierarchical"
That it need not be so, is a purely Western idea of the last 400 years.
So I feel it would be good to see the numbers of people who have traditionally been in higher education in previous times and the numbers who are now seeking entry into so called "democratic / liberal institutes of Westernized higher education".
-- However, we should not deny that educational hierarchy is also widely recognized, respected and sometimes even celebrated by the larger society. --
As Xiang Bao goes on to discuss the numbers entering education in Asia, maybe we need some comparative analysis with the numbers in Europe and America and how these scale up in comparison with overall population. He has suggested the numbers from Far East.
I would be very interested in similar data regarding other Asian countries.
But somehow the colonial agendas would never make this a fashionable topic for study, and Indian TV shows are well known for advertising one or two scholarships to Oxbridge.
Imagine, Indian media gets British professors to conduct third rate quiz shows and millions of students go through rounds and rounds of elimination to emerge as victors.
What for ? For a one or two seats in Oxbridge !! From a pool of millions of aspirants.
Needless to say, among the millions other who are left out, a few thousands force their skeptical middle class parents to shelve out money and foreign currency for "paid education and degrees", convincing their sceptical parents that after their education they will be given residence / work permits in EU and America and will not be thrown back to native countries.
So, the competition for marketing and corporate funds for attracting this few thousands of Chinese and Indian students becomes an industry by itself.
Native students in Western countries, who see themselves as disinterested pristine academics, feel, suddenly shortchanged by the struggle for Chinese and Indian students, by the managers and corporate staff, marketeers and racketeers, of Western universities, which they think are "their own" by definition and by birth.

The social production of hierarchy, and what we can do about it : Notes from Asia

Here is Xiang Biao scheduled contribution.

The social production of hierarchy, and what we can do about
it: Notes from Asia


Institutionalized education in most part of the human society seems intrinsically hierarchical. One is supposed to progress from a “lower” level of learning to the “higher”; “average” kids study in mediocre schools, and the “outstanding” go to top colleges; and finally, “degree” is by definition hierarchical. Recent discussions on higher education have focused on the
governmentalization /corporatization (roughly meaning tightened administrative management in order to make university managerially accountable) and the marketization of universities. This essay explores the logic of hierarchy making in a larger, societal context. It is beyond dispute
that established institutions have deeply vested interest in maintaining exclusive and hierarchical systems, and it is also true that hierarchy, particularly in the form of the
ranking tally, is imposed top down by the establishment.
However, we should not deny that educational hierarchy is also widely recognized, respected and sometimes even celebrated by the larger society. Nor should we reduce the public acceptance to merely an example of false consciousness. Most people know much better than us (university nerds) how to deal with the world. There are ethnical and moral dimensions to the socially produced
hierarchy. Instead of aiming to eradicate hierarchy altogether (which cannot be a feasible agenda despite the ideological appeal), this post wishes to explore room in the social process of hierarchy making which may enable realistic action agendas.

Precarious Hierarchy and the Ethnics of Hierarchy :

In the modern time in general, higher education become less exclusive, and educational hierarchy become much less absolute. In colonial Asia, for example, formal English education had such a magic power that it directly contributed to the creation of the institution of modern
dowry in India. It is also safe to say that, in Asia at least, higher education become less hierarchical in the so-called neoliberal era. (I use neoliberal era with some reluctance. By this term I am referring to the period starting at the end of 1970s for China, the beginning of
1990s for India, the early 1990s for Japan, and the late 1990s for South Korea).
China launched a new, unprecedented round of university expansion in 1998. The number of newly admitted students jumped from 1.08 million in 1998 to 2.5 million in 2001. By 2007, the planed intake reached 5.67 million!
Similar to Japan and South Korea, entering universities is no longer a crucial life event—it is not difficult to get in, and furthermore getting in does not guarantee good job prospects. Students have more freedom in choosing universities according to location, subject or campus “culture” instead of a single system of hierarchical evaluation.
But hierarchy certainly does not go away. Universities become ever more concerned about hierarchical ranking.
Shanghai Jiaotong University produces one of the best known tallies in the world. This reflects the fact that previously fixed hierarchy is replaced by more dynamic and unstable
differentiation. Hierarchy is in struggle. This also suggests that the process of hierarchy making becomes more public, or social, than before when it was declared by the state or established by tradition.
Underlying the new project of hierarchy making in the higher education is a unmistakable capitalist logic. The higher rank a university secures, the higher tuition fees it
charges. But the opposite is untrue. In general, students cannot enter a high-rank university simply by paying more fees. There is a limit to capitalism.
A curious example is the mushrooming MBA courses in China. On the one hand, no other institutions are more conscious than the MBA programs about hierarchical ranking which directly determine the fees they charge. On the other hand, most of the MBA students, particularly those enrolled in the elite institutes in China, had work experiences and many are self employed, and thus the ranking does not mean much for them in the material sense (say, compared to other students who may need a strong university brand for looking for jobs).
When I asked an entrepreneur (incidentally, a Taiwanese) why he applied for an expensive MBA course in Shanghai, he gave me three reasons: good teachers, the reputation of the course (“it sounds good”), and the opportunity to prove that, after
working for many years, he is still able to pass tough examinations. The Chinese capitalist class in the making need symbolic capital, but they need “solid” symbolic capital, i.e., not cheap parody ready for sale.
The hierarchical ranking of universities undoubtedly facilitates exchange between financial and cultural capital.
But at the very same time as different types of capital are exchangeable, each capital must maintain minimum autonomy. Thus, in order to be acceptable to the general public,
hierarchy must be based on “merit” to some extent.
Universities also have to maintain a balance. For example elite universities in the US charge high fees but also provide generous scholarships. Scholarships attract good students to keep its ranking high which in turn justifies high fees.
In China at least until the very recent time, socially produced hierarchy in higher education has significant moral connotations. For example, lecturers and students from top universities are expected to be more vocal in criticizing the status quo, and the state have to be more careful in
dealing with professors from these institutions. In a largely authoritarian and politically conservative system, this status provide the institutions with special clout to be more independent, critical, daring in thinking alternatives, and sometimes more eccentric in behavior.
People rank the universities high to counteract the state power and private economic interest, no matter how symbolically.

New Battles :

Hierarchy itself may not be a problem. The issue is what kind of hierarchy prevails. Our goals should be, apart from continuing the historical progress of destabilizing and “softening” hierarchy in general, making the hegemonic hierarchy more ethical.
In Asia as well as elsewhere, states have been active in domesticating and incorporating the institutions that are high in hierarchy. The corporate world may have similar desires, although their efforts are less orchestrated and their relations to universities less clear. But, both the
state and the economic establishment need seemingly independent universities for the purpose of legitimation.
(Say, the state occasionally needs some “independent scholars” to back their views, and financial institutes also like donating money to “independent” learning institutes.) The contradictions internal to the project of legitimation provide important space for actions.
Furthermore, the interests of the state and of the capital do not always fit well, and playing one against the other can be another strategy.
I cannot quite imagine autonomous universities in practical sense. As Mao Zedong repeatedly reminded us, intellectuals are a piece of feather who cannot exist without someone else’s skin. We need others for our material survival. But perhaps we can fight for a more “autonomous” evaluation system with strong moral and ethical concerns.
Another important battle field is pre-university education. I am not too worried about the corporatization or privatization of universities as I believe that that will not go too far. Even state bureaucrats and diehard capitalists would frown upon universities that have no
intellectual or ideological teeth at all.
What is much more dangerous, for China, is the on-going process of privatization and hierarchization in secondary education.
As it is less easy for money to infiltrate into higher education, well-off families start the race early. Parents spend thousands of US dollars to send children to good primary and high schools and even kindergartens. (In Beijing, top kindergartens literally charge thousands of US
dollars for a seat.)
In Japan, elite private universities such as Keio and Waseda set up their own so-called “escalator” system including kindergartens, primary and secondary schools. Children from wealthy families buy the expensive ticket to enter the escalator on the ground floor,
which take them to the top universities in the future with certain “merits.” Thus social inequality is produced and reproduced without upsetting the “merit”-based hierarchy
of universities. In China, except those who are desperate to consolidate their newly acquired financial assets into firm class status, most people want to escape from the frenzied
competition in which children became the main victims. Thus there is social base for mobilization to fight against this trend. Among other things, top universities may be able to do something, even symbolically, to counteract the education industry.

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Saturday, 19 May 2007

Cricket Mantri, Wheat Imports, Buffer Stocks, Inflation

Subsides for sugar exporters and love for wheat importers - Googly bowling by Indian Cricket Minister :
For the second year in the running, India is importing wheat. Last year the government justified imports on account of lower production. This year it is being justified in the name of higher prices for farmers.

In order to meet the buffer stock requirements, the government has decided to import up to 50 lakh tonnes of wheat this year. Thanks to the government’s policies, from a wheat surplus nation, India today has been reduced to the world’s largest importer of wheat. An article on the various reasons used by Indian Cricket Minister, to justify his love for imports of wheat into India from all over the world.

Here is article analyzing the Cricket Minister's love for wheat imports from all corners of the earth.
Maybe eating lots of imported wheat from all corners of the earth, courtesy the Indian Cricket Minister, all the Punjab da puttars will win the next Cricket World Cup for India..

Wheat Imports : Subverting Procurement, Cheating Farmers - Bhaskar Goswami

For the second year in the running, India is importing wheat. Last year the government justified imports on account of lower production. This year it is being justified in the name of higher prices for farmers.

In order to meet the buffer stock requirements, the government has decided to import up to 50 lakh tonnes of wheat this year. Thanks to the government’s policies, from a wheat surplus nation, India today has been reduced to the world’s largest importer of wheat.

Alarm bells began ringing in early March when, despite predictions of a bumper wheat harvest in India, the US Wheat Associates - a trade body funded by the federal government and US wheat producers - said India will import up to 30 lakh tonnes of wheat this year. Well, not only has the government followed this diktat, but has revised this estimate by 20 lakh tonnes more as a small favour to multinational grain corporations.

The rush to go for imports right now is questionable. With an additional 18 lakh hectares under wheat, the production has increased by forty lakh tonnes. Since the peak wheat procurement season is during the second half of May, there is ample time left for the government to meet its procurement target of 151 lakh tonnes. On 1st May, the Food Secretary said that stocks are adequate to last till January 2008. On 5th May, the Food and Agriculture Minister, Sharad Pawar announced, “Last year, the buffer stock position was only two million tonne, this time it is 4.5 million tonne. That is why I am quite comfortable about the buffer stock.”

The Minister justified the move to import wheat by adding, “However, I want to build up stock for the next year”. This, when the wheat produced is adequate to meet the country’s requirements and there is no shortage in the buffer stock. Wheat for the next season is yet to be planted but the government is apprehensive of a bad crop next year!

"If the farmer is getting a better price, as Agriculture Minister I am the happiest person. However, as a Food Minister, if I face any problem, I will import," said Pawar. He was referring to farmers getting a better price by selling to private companies thereby leaving little for the government to pick up.
This is a replay of the 2006 argument, when the Food Corporation of India (FCI) failed miserably to meet its procurement target. By offering a lower price to farmers, the government made out a case for imports, which translated to a windfall of Rs. 5,100 crores to grain corporations like the Australian Wheat Board, Glencore, Toepfer, Cargill, etc.

This year, the procurement is worse than what it was last year. By end of April, even half of the procurement target was not met, and a shortfall of 25 lakh tonnes by the end of the procurement season is possible. This is because the Minimum Support Price (MSP) of Rs. 850 per quintal offered by the government is much lower than the prevailing market rate of over Rs. 1,000. Naturally, bulk of the wheat is being cornered by the private sector. As expected, the gains to grain corporations this year will also be much higher than 2006. Lack of rainfall in Europe, Australia and South Africa has affected wheat production and depressed world wheat stocks to their lowest in the last 25 years. Wheat from Ukraine and Russia will hit markets only by August, while Pakistan is still a small exporter. Major wheat exporter, Argentina, has banned wheat export to control domestic prices.

The only players left are the US and Canada, where the price of wheat is already up by $40 per tonne over last year. Given the global supply crunch, announcement of imports by India will push the price through the roof, as it happened last year. While last year India paid around $207 per tonne of wheat (approximately Rs. 930 per quintal), the cost this year is likely to be upwards of $300 per tonne (or Rs. 1,200 per quintal at the current exchange rate), a rich bonus for corporations.

Instead of doling out Rs. 6,000 crores to corporations for importing 50 lakh tonnes of wheat, a hike in the MSP would have fetched an even higher price to farmers than what they are receiving from private companies and also helped FCI meet the procurement target. But then that never was the intent.
By paying a premium to grain corporations and denying a fair price to our farmers, the government has sent a clear message to farmers: they should no longer expect a guaranteed price for what they produce.

Notwithstanding the government’s claims, in reality it is building a case to dismantle the price support and procurement mechanism which are designed to protect farmers from price volatility and the poor from starvation. The Economic Survey 2005-06 states “Market for farm output continues to depend heavily on expensive government procurement and distribution systems. A shift from the current MSP and public procurement system and developing alternative product markets are essential for crop diversification and broad-based agricultural development”.

The government is following this dictum. By deliberately offering a lower MSP and importing at higher costs, the system is being covertly scrapped. The Agriculture Produce Marketing Committee Act has been amended to allow private agencies to directly procure food grains from farmers. The amended Essential Commodities Act allows storage and movement of food grains. Agriculture commodities can be traded in futures markets involving speculation. No wonder multinational grain firms are cornering bulk of the food grains produced across the country.

There is more. As part of the larger game plan to shut down the FCI, the government is also toying with the idea of issuing food stamps to the Below Poverty Line families, which will reduce the food subsidy bill. There is another proposal to replace the Public Distribution System (PDS) with direct cash payments to poor families.

To reduce storage costs, the government is considering playing in the futures market in the months when it needs food grains for running the PDS - there would be no need for an MSP in such a case. The warehousing system is also being privatized. Recommendations of the consultancy firm McKinsey hired by the Food Ministry are already being implemented and FCI’s capital costs have been reduced, workforce slashed, minimum buffer stock for rice lowered, and private companies engaged in procurement.

From all this, it is clear that instead of fixing the problems at FCI, the government has decided to fix the blame on FCI and close it down. That there are major problems with the functioning of the FCI is undeniable. However, dismantling it will amount to another safety net for farmers as well as the poor, who depend on the PDS, going down. This, of course, suits the government. After all, food subsidy for the poor costs the exchequer Rs 23,986 crores during 2006-07.

The Indian State has a history of subverting procurement and price support mechanisms. Back in 2002, dairy cooperatives were on the brink of being wiped out courtesy dumping by the developed countries, which was facilitated by the State. In case of cotton, the Maharashtra government subverted the monopoly cotton procurement scheme and today the price being paid to cotton farmers is a fraction of what they received earlier. Similarly, Marketfed in Kerala, which procures pepper from farmers, is facing subversion. The cases of cardamom, coconut, cashew – in fact, almost all agri-commodities – have a common thread running through them: deliberate subversion of procurement and manipulation of support price.

The intentions of the government are quite clear – deny farmers a higher price for their produce and dismantle the price support and procurement machinery. While farmers may presently be getting a higher price by selling wheat to private players, the euphoria is unlikely to last long.
In the absence of MSP and procurement by government, there are very high chances of concentration of agri-business corporations. Once this cartel takes over, they will dictate the price to Indian farmers. With imports being made a norm, the future of wheat farmers is indeed bleak.
It is time to play a requiem for India’s wheat revolution.

Bhaskar Goswami Blog - http://bhaskargoswami.blogspot.com/

Saturday, 12 May 2007

UP 2007 Polls

UP 2007 Polls :
Bahujan Samaj Party BSP has emerged as the single largest party in the just concluded, 7 phase UP state legislature elections of 2007.
It is likely that the BSP supremo Mayawati will be elected the leader of the BSP legislature party and will become the next UP Chief Minister.
It is after a period of 16 years that a single party has emerged with a clear majority in the legislature of Uttar Pradesh.
In the first press conference after the electoral win she promised a society in which law and order is maintained and in which ordinary people can live without fear.

Mayawati claimed this victory as an indicator of the relevance of the ideology of Periyar, Jyotiba Phule, Dr BR Ambedkar and Manyavar Kanshi Ram.
She also spoke of the last 3 years of planning an electoral combination, an alliance that included a broad social section of upper caste Brahmins, Muslims. Kayastha with the Dalits and the foundation, of cadre based politics and methodical planning, which has delivered this remarkable win in the UP elections.
Till just a few days back, most of Indian media, was wrongly and erroneously predicting political dominance by the other three major contenders, Samajwadi Party, BJP and Congress based on artificial exit polls, and had been highlighting the leaders of these three parties.
BSP having won 205 seats, 4 more than the 201 required, does not need any other parties support to form the next government.
The Gandhi family held fort in the Amethi and Rae Bareilly, its traditional bastions where Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi campaigned extensively.
The seven phase election process in UP was unprecedented in the lack of polls violence and booth capturing, and a big plus for the fairness of the just concluded electoral process in the politically sensitive state, conducted by, the Electoral Commission.
Delhi based urban political analysts are claiming that Mayawati may have succeeded in delivering a stable Indian political alliance that combines Brahmins and Muslims with a Dalit leadership and thus may be an indicator for massive changes in national politics as well, along the line conceived by the master strategist Manyavar Kanshi Ram.
Earlier BSP had also won 16 seats in Delhi municipal elections.
The support of BSP is going to be crucial in the election of the next Indian president and could also trigger a new phase of politics by popular consent in Indian politics.
The electoral symbol of BSP is the elephant and the Indian elephant is now, slowly but surely, on the move.

Nagarjuna IFP, Editor
Indian Food Policy - www.foodpolicy.in
World food Policy - www.worldfoodpolicy.org

Rupantar - http://roopantar.blogspot.com/
Bharat Buniyad - http://www.groups.google.com/group/buniyad
Sri Lanka India Study Group - Sthuthi SLISG - http://www.groups.google.com/group/sthuthi

Monday, 16 April 2007

Bharat Buniyad - Pillars of Indian Society

Buniyad is the Hindi term for foundation, or the base. We are using this term in the sense of the pillars of Indian society, in the post colonial, and post Marxian context, in which, globalization, as the relevant neo liberal reality after the demise of global Communism, is forging new and radically different relations of production, means of knowledge production and modes of production.
In many senses the Marxian concepts of relations, means and modes of production, of surplus value creation, accumulation, control of capital, are still very valid as emblems. However, it is also true that the so called leftist Commissars and passionate Marxians / Comintern of yester years, with their radical theoretical prescriptions on dictatorship of the proletariat, are all now part of the global transnational and regional elite, ( South America may be an exception), with significant stakes in a particular form of globalization.
India is not a country but a sub continent and thus diversity of views, political forms and objectives is at the very core of its sense of identity and inseparable from any relevant view of the future which is even partially emancipatory and based on principles of mutual respect, shared values and common faith.