Saturday, July 30, 2011

Gen. V K Singh's age debate: Indian Army's honour at stake?

India has been hit hard by an unprecedented psychological shock following a controversy over the two dates of birth of Army Chief General V K Singh.

The question now agitating the public mind and the rank and file is as to when he was born actually. Since it creates confusion over his retirement and succession, the Indian Defence Ministry last week ruled that the Army Chief's year of birth would be taken as 1950, and not 51.

Indian media reports suggest that the government's decision on the date of birth (DoB) of the man who heads the Indian Army, may not provide the closure many have been hoping for. Experts say a complicated and lengthy legal battle could follow in the next few months.

The controversy first surfaced in 2006 when two different dates of birth were detected by the Army brass in two different sections. General Singh's year of birth in the military secretary's branch was May 1950 whereas the adjutant general's branch recorded his year of birth as 1951. Singh was elevated to the rank of Army Chief in 2010 and at that time 1950 was taken as his year of birth.
Right year of birth 
General Singh who has not only consistently claimed that his right year of birth was 1951 (10-05-1951 to be precise) as recorded on his matriculation certificate but has also secured legal opinion in his favour from as many as three former chief justices of India. The three Chief Justice of India in their legal opinion in writing have supported General Singh's stand that he was born in May 1951.

Within the last two years, the Army was hit by two land scams - Sukhna and Adarsh - involving many senior officers and the previous chief Gen Deepak Kapur. Now the new chief who came with the clean-up agenda is mired in controversy.

His well-wishers feel that general Singh is possibly being targetted for his hard stand in court-martialing two Lt Gen level officers in Sukhna land scam and against Adarsh Housing Society in Mumbai that he wants demolished.
Personal integrity 
If the Army chief does challenge the government's ruling it would be a first for its kind case - at that level of seniority - in the Indian defence services and opinion is divided on whether or not that would be a wise course of action for someone like General Singh who is widely regarded as a soldier and leader of great virtue and impeccable credentials when it comes to personal integrity.

Opinion is also divided on the issue of how a possible challenge by General Singh would reflect on the professional culture and training of the Indian Army at the highest level.

Earlier, a section officer in the Union law ministry-responding to a right to information query - supported in writing General Singh's claim of 1951 as his correct year of birth. However, on the advice of the attorney general, the then law minister Veerappa Moily once again held 1950 to be the correct year of birth of Gen. Singh.

The opinions of Chief Justices of India in favour of General Singh followed the law minister's ruling that army service rules did not allow any change in the date of birth after two years of joining service. The law ministry had further stated that since General Singh had himself accepted 1950 as his birth year in a written undertaking the matter should be treated as closed.

Former Chief Justice of India V N Khare had in his written opinion challenged that line of argument on the grounds that General Singh - as a sitting Army officer bound by service rules and the strict protocol which marks defence services - had little choice but to accept the diktat of his superiors on the date-of-birth issue.

It is apprehended that General Singh had earned some displeasure from the ruling quarters on certain issues in recent time.
Ration supplies 
In an unprecedented case, the Chiefs of Army and Air Force had to appear before the Parliament's Public Accounts Committee in January in connection with alleged irregularities in ration supplies.

General V K Singh also faced political criticism by opposing the use of the armed forces in anti-Maoist operations. He argued that the Left-wing extremism or the Maoist problem is more of a law and order and socio-economic problem to be handled by the local police forces and the central police forces.

What message Sonia Gandhi left behind for Sheikh Hasina

A closer tie between Bangladesh and its big neighbour India is always a top priority from both sides but the most critical issue is how to build the foundation of the pyramid on which the framework of relations would be based.

The issue came to the fore once again following the just concluded visit of Indian National Congress president and the chief of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) Sonia Gandhi to Dhaka last week.

It was basically a show of unity of the two ruling parties of India and Bangladesh on critical issues, but the major opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) here has welcomed the visit though Sonia Gandhi did not find time or the opportunity to meet BNP chairperson Begum Zia during her brief stay here.

Strategic analysts here say it is understandable why Sonia failed to avail of the opportunity given the nature of Bangladesh politics, but such a gesture could have made the building of future ties more smooth and workable.
Family ties 
Prof Mahbubullah of Dhaka University speaking on the issue has in fact divulged the dominating factors behind the guarded visit. He said the foreign relations between Bangladesh and India is essentially working at the moment based on party to party, not on state to state basis. So other political parties are not involved here or even not welcomed while the fate of Bangladesh is being negotiated.

Mahbubullah said even one may say that the present Bangladesh India relations has been largely dominated by a close family ties between the Gandhi and the Sheikh families of the two countries in which Indians are seemingly benefited immensely and Bangladesh stands to lose on critical issues.

He said it is feared that Sheikh Hasina is compromising vital national interests on personal ground as part of a deeper and far reaching political objectives, part of which may come to light after Indian Prime Minister Dr Manmohan's Dhaka visit in September next. To understand its overall ramifications one has to wait a bit longer.

Referring to a whole lot of outstanding issues with India like transit, water sharing, Tipaimukh dam, maritime and land boundaries, border killing, terrorism etc, Prof Mahbubullah said their solutions need extensive homework exercise and consensus building.

A single meeting of two powerful ladies or closed door negotiations dominated by a powerful party will not deliver any lasting results. One cannot expect any dramatic development in state to state relations without taking the nation on board, he emphasized.

BNP standing Committee member and former Army Chief Gen. Mahbubur Rahman believed high profile meetings like the one held between Sheikh Hasina and Sonia Gandhi is always welcomed because their understanding on basic issues can only find the path to resolving problems.
'Hidden agenda' 
But the way this meeting has been organised it has created more suspicions than hopes. This is because of total secrecy on the core issues of discussions is being maintained while the opposition has deliberately been kept in the dark.

Speculations suggest that both the ladies had 'hidden agenda for discussion' has is breeding even more suspicion. It is being speculated that Sheikh Hasina had signed a 'hidden defence agreement' during her visit to Delhi in January last year. Rahman said BNP hoped these are mere speculations but lack of transparency and the absence of government's initiative to remove suspicions to restore confidence are feeding more suspicions.

Gen. Rahman said responsibility to make things transparent lies not only on Prime Minister Hasina, it lies equally on the other party to make it known to the people and assure them that nothing is amiss.

He said Sonia's visit is a prelude to Indian Prime Minister Dr Manmohan's visit here and her exchange of views with Sheikh Hasina on critical issues may make Manmohan Singh's visit smooth. He is scheduled to sign a number of important agreements including the transit one while in Dhaka.

Indian home minister P Chitambaram and water resource minister and communication minister are also is expected to come to Dhaka before the Singh visit. Earlier Indian foreign minister SM Krishna visited Dhaka to prepare the ground work of his prime minister's visit. He had however met BNP chairperson Begum Zia on that visit.
Gen. Mahbub said Bangladesh wants a 'win-win' solution to all problems but the way it is moving appears to be 'win for one and loss for the other.' This may prove counterproductive at the end. This is especially true in case of transit, he said suggesting that Bangladesh should not make hurry; it should carry out extensive home work on financial and strategic maters and agree on anything on the basis of a national consensus. It should not compromise on basic issues.
Prof Mahbubullah and CPD fellow Dr Debapriya made similar comments demanding more cautious moves on transit issue.

They ask why Sheilh Hasina is in such a hurry?

Only last month Indian Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh voiced concerns on Bangladesh's 'changing political landscape' meaning the looming danger of a regime change. Sheikh Hasina was even warned of 'unknown consequences if she ever closed her eyes' indicating the danger lying ahead.

This may partly explains why both sides are in hurry. But Bangladesh politics has already become volatile throwing challenges to the Sheikh Hasina government in all fronts. Kolkata's Anandbazar Patrika commented that Sonia Gandhi's visit may just bring some oxygen to the embattled Hasina regime.

This is why analysts wonder what message Sonia Ghandi may have left for Hasina when she faces troubled days ahead. It is not unusual for friends and well-wishers in global politics Mahbubullah said, especially in view of the family ties both have developed in the meantime.

It may be recalled that during the February 2009 BDR mutiny Hasina made the first phone call to the then Indian foreign minister and present finance minister Pranab Mukherji for help. India had also acted quickly at internal level, however keeping watch on development. This is how Sheikh Hasina may have built her response mechanism against any terrorist attack on her or her government from home and abroad, they say.

India And Its Near-Abroad : New Humility For The Hegemon

NO ONE loves a huge neighbour. For all that, India’s relations with the countries that ring it are abysmal. Of the eight with which it shares a land or maritime boundary, only two can be said to be happy with India: tiny Maldives, where India has the only foreign embassy and dispenses much largesse, and Bhutan, which has a policy of being happy about everything. Among its other South Asian neighbours, the world’s biggest democracy is incredible mainly because of its amazing ability to generate wariness and resentment.

Until recently it operated a shoot-to-kill policy towards migrant workers and cattle rustlers along its long border with Bangladesh. Over the years it has meddled madly in Nepal’s internal affairs. In Myanmar India snuggles up to the country’s thuggish dictators, leaving the beleaguered opposition to wonder what happened to India’s championing of democracy. Relations with Sri Lanka are conflicted. It treats China with more respect, but feuds with it about its border.

As for Pakistan, relations are defined by their animosity. One former Indian diplomat likened reconciling the two nuclear-tipped powers to treating two patients whose only disease is an allergy to each other. The observation underscores the fact that it takes two to have bad relations, and to be fair to India plenty of problems press in on it—many of them with their roots in India’s bloody partition in 1947. Pakistan has used a long-running territorial dispute over Kashmir as a reason to launch wars. It also exports terrorism to India, sometimes with the connivance of parts of the Pakistani state. India thinks Bangladesh also harbours India-hating terrorists.

With the notable exception of India’s prime minister, Manmohan Singh, who has heroically persisted in dialogue with Pakistan in the face of provocations and domestic resistance, India’s dealings with its neighbours are mostly driven by arrogance and neglect. It has shared shockingly little of its economic dynamism and new-found prosperity with those around it. Just 5% of South Asia’s trade is within the region.

Too little and too late, the neglect is starting to be replaced by engagement. This week Sonia Gandhi, dynastic leader of India’s ruling Congress Party, visited Bangladesh—a first. And on July 27th India’s foreign minister hosted his Pakistani counterpart, the first such meeting in a year. He promised a “comprehensive, serious and sustained” dialogue.
A new regional engagement is prodded by two things. China’s rapid and increasingly assertive rise challenges India’s own regional dominance. As a foundation for its rise, China pursued a vigorous “smile diplomacy” towards its neighbours that stands in contrast to slothful Indian energies. The smile has sometimes turned to snarl of late. Even so, China’s engagement with its neighbours has allowed it both to prosper and to spread influence.

Second, dynamic India can hardly soar globally while mired in its own backyard. Promoting regional prosperity is surely the best way to persuade neighbours that its own rise is more of an opportunity than a threat. Yet India lacks any kind of vision. A region-wide energy market using northern neighbours’ hydropower would transform South Asian economies. Vision, too, could go a long way to restoring ties that history has cut asunder, such as those between Karachi and Mumbai, once sister commercial cities but now as good as on different planets; and Kolkata and its huge former hinterland in Bangladesh. Without development and deeper integration, other resentments will be hard to soothe. It falls on the huge unloved neighbour to make the running.

Geopolitical drive behind Manmohan's Dhaka visit

Pakistan's first female foreign minister Hina Rabbani Khar, on a visit to Delhi for Indo-Pak dialogues declared jointly with her counterpart Indian external affairs minister SM Krishna that "a new era of bilateral cooperation between the two countries" have begun "indeed", and the "desire of both governments (is) to make it (dialogue) an uninterrupted and uninterruptable process." Recent multiple bomb blasts and casualties in Mumbai by yet-undetected perpetrators did not derail the talks as in the past, although far-right demonstrators dangling "no talks" and "go back" festoons and shouting anti-Pakistani slogans were very much there on the streets of New Delhi. Confidence building measures for traffic across the Line of Control in Kashmir and containing terrorism were at the top of the agenda. Hina Khar went so far as to say in an interview with New Delhi Television that there has been a marked "change of mindset" (in Delhi as well as in Islamabad).

Last week, Sonia Gandhi, Chairman of Indian National Congress, the ruling party of India was on a short visit to Dhaka to attend a conference and to receive the highest national award of Bangladesh posthumously for Indira Gandhi, her late mother-in-law who took the political decision as the-then Prime Minister of India to join the on-going liberation war of Bangladesh in 1971. The main opposition party in Bangladesh, the BNP joined the chorus of the ruling alliance in welcoming the visit of Sonia Gandhi as a positive step towards "strengthening" India-Bangladesh relations, albeit on the footing of sovereign equality and with the promise of "fair" resolution of bilateral disputes. At the height of a snow-balling public agitation over tyranny and misrule in Bangladesh, the regular opposition parties of Bangladesh altogether appear to have given signal that no political disturbance will be there until the conclusion of Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's Dhaka visit immediately after Eid, which "is expected to infuse fresh dynamism into the multi-faceted and multi-dimensional relationship between the two countries". A contrary signal from a section of Indian power structure, by killing not by bullet this time but by barbaric beating and chopping of a Bangladeshi youth at the hands of India's Border Security Force, was sent the very day when Sonia Gandhi arrived in Dhaka.

Nevertheless, a new ambience of regional cooperation and hints of change of mindset in South Asian capitals under strong American persuasion is unmistakable, as particularly evident from comments in Indian media suggesting that India needs the cooperation of its smaller neighbours more than the neighbours may themselves need. Some analysts suggest that a lot diplomatic spadework on the part of US State Department and pentagon officials has been done to obtain this wind of change.

Asif Ezdi, a Pakistani analyst goes to the genesis of this geopolitical turn as follows: "The decision to sponsor the rise of India as a major player on the geopolitical landscape was taken by the US early in the second term of George W Bush. It was communicated to Manmohan Singh in March 2005 by Condoleezza Rice, then secretary of state, who told the Indian prime minister that Washington wanted to make India a global power.

This effort was launched against the background of the growing political, economic and military power of China, seen by Washington as a challenge to its position as the sole superpower. India's assigned role in the US strategy was to serve as a counterweight to China and to stem its assertiveness."

 But global situation and Asian developments did not go the way the sole superpower divined. Analyst Ezdi observed after US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's Delhi and Chennai visits in India enroute to ASEAN Regional Forum in Bali, Indonesia:

"On her visit to India for the second round of strategic dialogue with India, Hillary Clinton promised some more help for India's great power ambitions. In a major speech in Chennai on a vision for the 21st century, she called upon India to become a more assertive leader in Asia and pledged Washington's support in assisting India to expand its influence beyond its immediate neighbourhood and in particular in China's backyard in South-East Asia and the Pacific rim, as well as China's western flank in Central Asia.

"Since India does not lie on the Pacific and has no capacity for power projection in the region, Clinton had to resort to some verbal acrobatics to declare India qualified for a role as a Pacific power. India, she declared, straddled the waters from the Indian to the Pacific Ocean. That is dubious geography because it is not India but Malaysia and Indonesia that sit astride those waters. But Clinton was obviously not prepared to let that come in the way of her argument. The US and India, she said, had invested deeply in shaping the future of the region that they connect, and with the US, India was a steward of these waterways.

In urging New Delhi to take a stronger role across Asia, Clinton told India, It is time to lead. She pushed Delhi to translate its Look East policy into a stronger action: 'We encourage you not just to look east, but continue to engage and act east as well,' she said. Clinton urged India to start in its immediate neighbourhood by using its influence to promote democratic reforms in Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Nepal and increasing its engagement with Bangladesh and Maldives.

"Clinton's other project - building up India as a counterweight to China in Asia-Pacific - is much too grandiose. The fact is that India is having a hard time holding its own in its immediate neighbourhood, as China's growing links with Sri Lanka, Myanmar and Nepal show. To expect India to match China in Southeast Asia and the Pacific rim, where China enjoys numerous longstanding built-in advantages, is not realistic, even when these plans are backed by Washington."

Earlier in April this year, Robert O. Blake, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State, Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs had testified before relevant subcommittee of House Foreign Affairs Committee highlighting the following. "With the fulcrum of geopolitics shifting quickly to Asia, India plays an increasingly critical role in our strategic thinking.

The rise of India is in our best interest, and its growth redounds with benefits to our own economy. For instance, during the President's historic visit to India in November, he announced commercial deals that exceeded $14.9 billion in total value with $9.5 billion in U.S. export content, supporting an estimated 53,670 jobs.

One core facet of the U.S-India global strategic partnership - and one that will reap extraordinary dividends both in economic and security terms - is our increasing defence ties.
   Two American aircraft, the F/A 18 Super Hornet and F-16IN Viper, are among the contenders for the Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) competition, an $11 billion tender which we hope will further enhance strategic, military, and economic ties between the U.S. and India."

The MMRCA orders, however, were lost by USA to French competition, and as BRICS member, India also withheld its support to NATO actions in Libya. The Clinton visit appears to have swung back this Indian drift away from the superpower fold. In the joint press conference with SM Krishna in New Delhi, Hillary Clinton was fully backed by her Indian counterpart in her essential comments as follows: "We discussed the challenges in Afghanistan and Pakistan and our efforts to assist them.

We discussed our shared interest in peaceful and stable Asia, Pacific and the Indian Ocean region, and the evolution of an open, balanced, inclusive architecture in the nation. We will continue to work together and with other countries towards this goal through various mechanisms such as our bilateral dialogue, the regional forums, and our trilateral dialogue with Japan. Secretary Clinton and I will continue this engagement in the ARF meeting later this week.

Reference trade and investment, we think as much progress as we've made, both the United States and India can take further steps to reduce barriers, open our markets, and encourage new business partnerships to create jobs and opportunity for millions of our people while strengthening both of our nations' economic competitiveness.

On security cooperation, we are deepening and expanding our efforts and making great strides together on behalf of counterterrorism, but also with respect to maritime security, we believe strengthening our military-to-military ties, including through the sale of defence technologies, will assist the Indian and American militaries to work together in a constructive way on everything from patrolling the seas, combating piracy, providing relief to the victims of natural disasters.

And finally with regard to our civil nuclear agreement, this represents a major investment by both of our countries in this critical bilateral relationship. We need to resolve those issues that still remain so we can reap the rewards of the extraordinary work that both of our governments have done."

Questioned about June NSG meeting, which raised apprehension that India might again be subjected to restrictions when it comes to transfer of sensitive technology like the ENR, Clinton said "Nothing about the new enrichment and reprocessing transfer restrictions agreed to by the Nuclear Suppliers Group members should be construed as detracting from the unique impact and importance of the U.S.-India civil nuclear agreement or our commitment to full civil nuclear cooperation. But I have to add that we are looking forward to India ratifying the Convention on Supplementary Compensation for Nuclear Damage during this year, before the end of this year. And we would encourage engagement with the International Atomic Energy Agency to ensure that the liability regime that India adopts by law fully conforms with the international requirements under the convention." And she added: "As President Obama has said, we believe this relationship will be a defining partnership of the 21st century, and we wholeheartedly support the rise of India as a regional and global leader. I will be in Chennai tomorrow and I will speak at greater length on our view of India's role in the region and the world."

In Chennai, her essential message was "Foreign Minister Krishna and I will attend the ASEAN Regional Forum, and we will there be working in conjunction with ASEAN partners and others, and we will soon inaugurate a trilateral U.S.-India-Japan dialogue. America's treaty alliances with Japan has long been a cornerstone of security in East Asia, and as a fellow democracy with us and India, we believe enhanced cooperation will be beneficial. We are also committed to a strong, constructive relationship among India, the United States, and China. Now, we know this will not always be easy. There are important matters on which we all disagree, one with the other. But we do have significant areas of common interest. We could begin by focusing on violent extremism, which threatens people on all - in all of our countries. Ultimately, if we want to address, manage, or solve some of the most pressing issues of the 21st century, India, China, and the United States will have to coordinate our efforts."

Analyst Asif Ezdi observed "While leaving little doubt that Washington would like a rising India to be a partner in countering China's assertiveness, Clinton took care not to name China as a rival or competitor in her public statements, and she emphasised - to the delight of the Indians and the dismay of the Japanese, America s principal Asian allies for six decades - that India, China and the United States (but not Japan) would have to coordinate their efforts as they all seek to build Asia's future."

In this geopolitical context, one may reasonably expect that if Bangladesh is ready with necessary exercise for fruitful bargains, the Manmohan visit may indeed open the door for "multi-faceted and multi-dimensional" Indo-Bangladesh relationship. But in toeing the Krishna-Clinton roadmap, Bangladesh ought to be wary of the pitfalls already surfacing in Indo-US strategic partnership, and we must not send the wrong signal to China, who has been techno-strategically assisting our national defence.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Activists Condemn India’s Arm Deal with Burma

The Burmese exiles living in India and their sympathizers recently came to the street of India’s national capital to lodge a stronger protest against the government for supplying arms and ammunition to the semi-military Burmese government at Naypyidaw.

Expressing resentment at New Delhi’s continued military relationship with Naypyidaw, hundreds of pro-democracy activists and various Indian civil-society groups demonstrated in New Delhi on July 22, 2011 arguing that ‘supplying arms to the most brutal military dictatorship may have grave consequences to millions of innocent lives’.

The Indian government had recently supplied 52 military trucksloads of arms and ammunition to the Burmese government. India maintained its strategic and military relationship with the Burmese regime even after receiving brickbats from the international community.

“It is hurting and awful that the Government of India has breached its democratic principles by supplying arms and ammunitions to the Burmese military rulers, which are identified as the world’s most notorious military regime. The consequence will be the victimization of innocent Burmese citizens who have been yearning for justice, peace and democracy for many decades,” said M Kim, a young Burmese exile living in India.

“Systematic human rights abuses and criminal hostilities against the ethnic groups, political activists, journalists and civilians have been committed without a halt by Burma’s Army even after the installation of a so-called civilian type government. It is a fact that over 2,200 political prisoners in Burma are still detained in jails,” he added.

The demonstrators also sent a memorandum to Indian Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh urging him to renew New Delhi’s support the Burmese people’s movement for restoration of peace and democracy in Burma.

Till the early nineties, Indian government supported the democratic movement led by Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. But later it changed the course and started engaging the then military regime named State Peace and Development Council for various bi-lateral relationships.

“We believe that India is a nation founded on sound democratic principles and time and again India has proven to uphold the principles of constitutionally elected governments. Further as a nation committed to playing an important, if not pivotal role in maintaining peace in the region, it is unbecoming of a responsible nation to supply arms to countries known for abusing military power,” states the memorandum, which was signed by nearly hundred Indian civil society groups and individuals with many Burmese organizations.

“While other big neighbours (of Burma) are silently urging for negotiation between the authorities and ethnic groups, New Delhi has continued its arm supply to the infamous regime,” said Dr Tint Swe, the chairman of Burma Centre Delhi, a pro-democracy forum.

 Speaking to the author from New Delhi, Dr Swe asserted that “democracy and human rights activists in Burma have been imprisoned, intimidated, tortured and many of them are put to death and it is observed by none other than the United Nations and the international community that the advocators for democracy, justice, peace and human rights in Burma have been regularly castigated”.

 So we are apprehensive that those arms will only be used against the pro-democracy activities and ethnic minorities like Kachin, Shan and Karen in eastern Burma, added Dr Swe.

In a separate memorandum to the Indian Premier, the Burmese pro-democracy groups urged New Delhi ‘to immediately halt the supply of military aids to Burma’s dictatorship’ and ‘to review India’s foreign policy on Burma by focusing on long-term interests, development and stability, prosperity and peace in the region’.

‘Systematic human rights abuses and criminal hostilities against ethnic groups, political activists, journalists and civilians have been committed by Burmese Army even after the installation of a so-called civilian government at Naypyidaw,’ the memorandum pointed out.

‘India’s national interest will be served only if a real democratic regime is established in its eastern neighbour,’ argued the memorandum which was endorsed by the Women League of Burma, All Burma Students Democratic Front, Arakan Liberation Party, All Burma Democratic Lusei Women Organization, Chin Human Rights Organization, Chin Student Union, Kuki Women Human Rights Organization, Kachin National Organization, Matu Youth Organization, Zomi Women Union and others, adding that ‘supporting the democratic movement in Burma will thus be beneficial for the largest democracy in the globe as well.’

India: New Killings, Torture At Bangladeshi Border

Revised Instructions from Delhi Not Stamping Out Abuses.

he government oof India should undertake a speedy, fair, and transparent criminal investigation into fresh allegations of killings, torture, and other abuses by the Border Security Force (BSF) at the border with Bangladesh, Human Rights Watch said today. Those against whom there is credible evidence of culpability should be prosecuted as part of an effort to end longstanding impunity for abuses along the border.

In December 2010, Human Rights Watch released a report, Trigger Happy, documenting extrajudicial killings, arbitrary detention, torture, and ill-treatment by the BSF. In the past decade, the BSF has killed Indian and Bangladeshi nationals. After the release of the report, Indian authorities assured Bangladeshi officials that these killings would be stopped. The government announced that it would order restraint and encourage the use of rubber bullets instead of more lethal ammunition, steps welcomed by Human Rights Watch.

While the number of deaths due to shooting has substantially decreased in 2011, the Bangladeshi non-governmental organization Odhikar has documented at least 17 alleged killings of Bangladeshis by the border force and other instances of severe abuse since January. Local groups have documented several cases of deaths as a result of severe beatings by the BSF.

Despite orders from New Delhi to end killings and abuse and to exercise restraint in dealing with people crossing the border, new deaths and other serious abuses are being reported, said Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia director for Human Rights Watch. The government has issued some positive new directives, but it needs to prosecute those who commit abuses so the soldiers will understand they can't act with impunity.

MASUM, a Kolkatta-based non-governmental organization that conducts fact-finding in the border areas, reports that while the number of shootings at the border has significantly reduced, BSF soldiers have been brutally beating and torturing suspects. Indian residents in the border area, while expressing relief that the indiscriminate shootings have stopped, have complained about aggressive intimidation and beatings.

In one recent example, MASUM reported to the National Human Rights Commission of India that on July 13, a group of soldiers from the 91st battalion of the border force threatened a local human rights worker, Kanai Mondal, in the village of Char Rajanagar, holding a gun to his head to demand that he take down posters calling for an end to torture. The soldiers also threatened other activists and confiscated posters, MASUM said.

On June 30, BSF forces killed Mizanur Rahman, 25. According to Odhikar, he had slipped into India along with four other cattle rustlers, when border guards intercepted them. The others escaped, but the soldiers allegedly beat Rahman to death and dumped his body into the Saniyazan River.

On June 2, Odhikar documented two cases where BSF soldiers intercepted groups of cattle smugglers. According to Odhikar, Rafiqul Islam, 35, from Satkhira, was badly beaten and then dumped inside Bangladeshi territory, where Bangladesh Border Guards found him and took him to a hospital. In a separate incident, Indian soldiers caught Fazlur Rahman and his accomplices near the Panitor-Gazipur border. While the others escaped, Fazlur was badly beaten and left unconscious inside Bangladesh.

On April 18, 2011, border force soldiers killed Rekatul Islam, 17, as he and his accomplice, Mohammad Shahdat Hossain Odhikar, tried to smuggle cattle across the border. Shahdat said they were stopped by BSF soldiers as they tried to cross the border with 10 cows. Shahdat was injured, but escaped.

On April 9, MASUM reported that Biswanath Soren, an elderly Indian man, was beaten by border force troopers he believes were intoxicated. They brandished their firearms to intimidate him and finally released him, he said. Soren sent a written complaint to the police, but no action has been taken.

The excessive use of force and the arbitrary beating of people along the border are unjustifiable, Ganguly said. These abuses call into question india's stated commitments to the rule of law.

Many people routinely move back and forth across India's frontier with Bangladesh to visit relatives, buy supplies, and look for jobs. Others engage in petty and serious cross-border crime. The border force is mandated to address illegal activities, especially narcotics smuggling, human trafficking for sex work, and transporting fake currency and explosives. It also works to stop militants planning violent attacks in India's restive northeast.

In many of the cases investigated by Human Rights Watch, however, the victims were cattle rustlers, farmers, or laborers who said they were hoping to supplement their meager livelihoods by working as couriers in the lucrative but illegal cattle trade that is rampant at the West Bengal border.

Local police forces rarely register complaints against border security and sometimes encourage the victims to drop their cases, telling them that nothing will come of it. One victim told Human Rights Watch that the police informed him that the border forces had committed no crime since they were there “to beat the people.

The Indian government needs to do more to ensure accountability for violations committed by the border force soldiers and to ensure compliance with the United Nations Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials, Human Rights Watch said.

While the Indian authorities vigorously protest attacks on fishermen who enter Sri Lankan waters, they seem unwilling to act against their own border forces when they commit crimes against Bangladeshis, Ganguly said. As a regional power, India should lead by example in South Asia to end the culture of impunity for security forces.

Lethal Weapon Or Not, BSF Continue Killing

The Indian border guards continue to kill unarmed Bangladeshi civilians in the border regions of the country. According to a report published on the front page of New Age on Monday, a 32-year old Bangladeshi cattle trader, Rafiqul Islam, was killed at the hands of the BSF on Sunday at the Burimari border. What is noteworthy in the incident is that, following an agreement on the use of ‘non-lethal weapons’ along the border of the two countries, signed by respective chiefs of BSF and Bangladesh Border Guards (BGB) in March this year, the BSF has now resorted to medieval tactic of killing Bangladeshis, by stoning them, stabbing them, hitting them with rifle butts or running speeding boats over them. Furthermore, there seems to have appeared a pattern of sending out a message of defiance, in the conduct of BSF authorities, in that every time a politically important event between the two countries takes place, the BSF resorts to slaying unarmed Bangladeshis. On January 13, 2010, the day the prime minister, Sheikh Hasina and Indian premier Dr Manmohan Singh issued a joint communiqué during Hasina’s visit to New Delhi, which also included mention of border killings and the need to ‘exercise restraint’, Shafiqul Islam (27), a Bangladeshi cattle-trader, was stabbed to death by members of the BSF, near the Satkhira border, his body dumped into the Kalindi River. Rafiqul, meanwhile, was killed on the same day Congress Party chief Sonia Gandhi arrived in Dhaka. While the political authorities in India have time and again tried to appear sympathetic and expressed concern over border killings, it appears, a section of its establishment, is bent on conveying a different message.
According to the report published in New Age, Rafiq was caught by BSF troops when he was returning to Bangladesh with six other cattle traders, and beaten to death, and dumped into River Saniyazan, near Burimari border in Lalmonirhat. Two days earlier, only on July 22, BSF members dragged Selim Hossain (25), a young Bangladeshi farmer, from his paddy field near a border pillar, to the Indian side, and beat him with a rifle butt as he resisted. His body was found an hour later hanging from a barbed-wire fence. On June 30, Mizanur Rahman (25), was beaten to death by the BSF in exactly similar circumstances to that of Rafiq, at the Burimari border.

According to rights organisation Odhikar, 35 Bangladeshis have been killed by the BSF, since January to June of this year. It suffices to say that the Indian authorities have completely missed the point of an agreement on the use of non-lethal weapons. It seems the Indian authorities are little interested in either stopping the killing of unarmed Bangladeshis or to keep the Indo-Bangladesh border peaceful. Instead, the agreement is so far being honoured on technical grounds, completely ignoring the spirit of its content. Only the Indian authorities know best what purpose it serves to continue to exert undue lethal force on Bangladeshi civilians, when the government of the countries regularly stress on building ‘long-lasting ties’.

Killing of unarmed Bangladeshis by the BSF has been an issue plaguing relations between the two countries for long, antagonising a large section of the Bangladeshi population towards the entire Indian political establishment. By alternating the use of lethal weapons with the use of non-lethal ones to nonetheless cause lethal injury, the Indian authorities are not just making a mockery of Bangladesh’s genuine grievances, but setting up the platform for more antagonism. It is time the Indian establishment realised how detrimental such actions and behaviours are to ‘friendly ties’ and take steps to reign in elements within its establishment who are prompt at sending out defiant messages.

Monday, July 25, 2011

End killings, abuses, HRW asks BSF watchdog Human Rights Watch (HRW) has asked the Indian government to carry out investigations into fresh allegations of killings, torture and other abuses by its Border Security Force (BSF) on Bangladesh border.
Saying that killings and severe abuses continue to take place despite India’s stated commitment to abide by international principles and exercise restraint at the border, the New York-based organisation asked the Indian government to ensure prosecution of those found guilty of such crimes.
In December last year, a HRW report titled ‘Trigger Happy’ prompted the Indian authorities to announce steps to stop killings at the border, including the use of rubber bullets instead of more lethal ammunition, a HRW news release said Monday.
The report outlined extrajudicial killings, arbitrary detentions, torture and mistreatment of both Bangladeshi and Indian nationals by the BSF over the past decade. Although there has been a significant decline in the number of deaths caused by shootings at the border this year, at least 17 Bangladeshis have allegedly been killed by BSF soldiers since January, according to Odhikar, a Bangladeshi non-governmental organisation.
Local groups documented several cases of deaths as a result of severe beatings by BSF men, as well as cases of aggressive intimidation. Earlier this year, Odhikar reported two separate incidents where cattle farmers died as a result of excessive violence.
Mizanur Rahman, 25, was allegedly beaten to death by BSF men after he crossed the border into India. His body was later dumped into the Saniyazan River. The BSF also killed Rekatul Islam, 17, as he and his accomplice tried to smuggle cattle into the neighbouring country. Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia director of the HRW, demanded an end to the longstanding impunity for abuses along the border.

“The [Indian] government has issued some positive new directives, but it needs to prosecute those who commit abuses so the soldiers will understand they can’t act with impunity,” she said.
The BSF is responsible for addressing illegal activities at the border, such as narcotics smuggling and human but in most cases victims were cattle rustlers, farmers, or labourers hoping to supplement their meagre livelihoods by working as couriers in the illegal cattle trade at the West Bengal border. The HRW press release concluded that Indian authorities need to do more to ensure accountability for violations committed by their border force men and to ensure compliance with international laws.

India’s human rights record makes a farce of its democracy

INDIA is a nation engrossed in confronting terrorism and suppressing intermittent local rebellions. It is also witnessing a surge in human rights violations, which the government seems to be happily lackadaisical in preventing.

The Asian Centre for Human Rights has documented a jump in cases of custodial deaths by 41.66 per cent over the last decade, including 70.72 per cent in prison and 12.60 per cent in police custody. It is indeed a paradox that the largest democracy is defiled by frequent cases of illegal detention, torture, extrajudicial execution and forced disappearances.

Moreover, nothing could be more disgraceful than the incarceration of thousands of people for political reasons in this multiparty democracy. Unfortunately, the state seems to be competing with the outlaws in trampling the basic rights of its citizens guaranteed by the Indian constitution. The common people, particularly minorities and the underprivileged, are enduring all forms of inhuman and degrading treatment at the hands of security personnel.

Mumbai-based grocer Faiz Usmani’s sudden demise during his grilling by investigating officers probing the July 13 serial bombing points to a greater malaise. Though Usmani’s brother is a suspected terrorist, ad hoc mass detention without specific charges following every major crime has become an unofficial practice.
Prakash Singh, a former director general of police and distinguished internal security expert struggling to usher in police reforms, candidly admitted to me that the ‘state has turned rapacious’, while simultaneously advocating appropriate legislative immunity in its tackling of the scourge of extremism.

Despite his admiration for the restraint displayed by Indian forces, the subaltern class—especially in underdeveloped areas—continues to face the combined wrath of militants, security agencies and state-sponsored militias. While rebels against the Indian constitution randomly exploit the poor, having no hesitation in extracting levy for a perjurious cause, the foot soldiers of the Indian state wilfully use this hapless population as human shields during counterinsurgency operations.d arm of the police show no qualms in resorting to criminal acts in insurgency-infested provinces. More inclined to treating homebred militancy as a mere law and order subject, the Indian government is adopting a carrot and stick strategy. 

Notwithstanding the rapid strides in enacting social legislation guaranteeing rural employment, the right to education, ownership of forest land for tribal people and strengthening social security of the unorganised workforce—there seems to be a reluctance to fetter the security agencies which use extralegal measures to enforce the law.

Intriguingly, the cabinet has drawn a veil over the prevention of torture bill, 2010 and is dithering over ratifying the UN convention on torture while ignoring calls from Amnesty International to ensure fair trials at international standards. Bodies such as the United Nations and the European Union have consistently voiced concern at India’s disregard for humanitarian laws. As far back as 1997, the UN human rights committee expressed its anxiety about the widespread use of torture by law enforcement agencies: ‘The EU has regularly taken up in the framework of its dialogue with India, the implementation of public order-related legislation and allegations of human rights violations,’ says Jean-Christian Rémond of the European External Action Service.

Alarmingly, India’s official human rights body—the National Human Rights Commission—has failed miserably to lead a national discourse on human rights and dignity, thus taking flak from the UN Human Rights Council. With limited resources and an enormous charter, the agency has been rendered ineffective. In a democratic framework, any extralegal activity by police undermines not only the established procedural set-up, but also the fundamentals of governance.

Sadly, such practice has infected India’s paramilitary and military units too. India’s Supreme Court has termed such authoritarian acts cowardly and unconscionable. The government must introduce appropriate reforms instead of maintaining a deafening silence. After all, the imposition of restrictive and predatory laws to contain public outcry stands as a glaring testimony to India’s abject failure to offer a proper outlet for popular grievances.

By - Seema Sengupta.

Seema Sengupta is a Kolkata-based independent journalist and recipient of National Award
for Excellence rendered in appreciation of excellent services in the field of
freelance journalism.

Will India Become A Superpower?

The leading historian offers seven reasons why it will not. And then, to this objective judgement, he adds the subjective desires of a citizen that it should not even attempt to become one.

Sixty years ago, in the summer of 1948, our nation, then newly born, was struggling for its very survival. In January, Mahatma Gandhi had been murdered by a Hindu fanatic. The act had shocked many Indians, but apparently it had the approval of some. According to one news report, the jailed assassin, Nathuram Godse, received an average of 50 letters a day expressing admiration for his action. This was part of a much wider right-wing, religious, reaction against Partition. Hindu and Sikh refugees from Pakistan were calling for retribution against the Muslims who had stayed behind in India. The relations between the two communities were poisoned further by the tribal invasion of the state of Jammu and Kashmir. With the raiders aided and equipped by the Pakistani army, the religious conflict had, inevitably, become a national one. A bloody battle was on in the high mountains of the Himalaya, as the Indian Army sought to rid Kashmir of the intruders.

Six weeks after Godse fired those three shots from a Beretta pistol in New Delhi, the then undivided Communist Party of India (CPI met in a secret conclave in Calcutta. At this meeting, the leadership of the CPI was taken away from a gentle and very cultured Kumaoni named P.C. Joshi. Joshi wanted the Communists to collaborate with Jawaharlal Nehrus government in building the new nation. His replacement, an austere Maharashtrian named B.T. Ranadive, believed on the other hand that the transfer of power from British to Indian hands was a sham, and that Nehru and his men were puppets of the Western imperialist powers. He took the Communists towards a new peoples war line, which mandated the overthrow of the Indian State through armed struggle, and its replacement by a single-party dictatorship.

In June 1948, the infant Indian State looked very fragile indeed. It was pierced from the left by the Communists, and pinched from the right by the Hindu extremists. And there were other problems aplenty. Eight million refugees had to be resettled; provided with land, homes, employment, and a sense of citizenship. Five hundred princely states had to be integrated, one by one, a process that involved much massaging of egos (for the Maharajas tended to think very highly of themselves), and just a little coercion.

The task of princely integration was in the hands of Vallabhbhai Patel and his outstanding secretary, V.P. Menon. Some rulers were willing to immediately join up with the new Dominion. Others waited in the hope of better terms. And some princes were actively hostile. In this very hot summer of 1948, the ruler giving the most trouble was the Nizam of Hyderabad, who was probably the wealthiest man in the world, and without question the most miserly. He insisted that the independence of his (very large and very badly administered realm) had been guaranteed by the British monarch; and that he would now negotiate a separate treaty with His Majestys Government, which would assure the State of Hyderabad its political sovereignty.

British politicians, Winston Churchill among them, were egging on the Nizam to declare independence. That was a truly dangerous possibility. For, as Sardar Patel observed, an independent Hyderabad would be “a cancer in the belly of India”, cutting off communications between the north and the south of the country. 

Despite the rulers ambitions, it was clear that the majority of the people of Hyderabad State wished to be citizens of a free India. After waiting a year for the Nizam to come to terms, Patel sent in the Army and compelled him to join the Union.

Few Indians now alive know how uncertain our future looked in the summer of 1948.The question then being asked everywhere was Will India Survive? Now, 60 years down the road, that fearful query has been replaced by a far more hopeful one, namely, Will India Become a Superpower?

This new, anticipatory, expectant question has been prompted by the extraordinary resilience, in the long term, of Indias democratic institutions. When the first general elections were held, in 1952, they were dubbed the Biggest Gamble in History. Never before had universal adult franchise been tried in a poor, divided, and largely illiterate society. Evidently, it is a gamble that has worked. The country has successfully held 14 general elections to the national Parliament, as well as countless polls to different state assemblies. 

Rates of voter participation are higher than in Western democracies. And after what happened in Florida in 2000, we can add that the conduct of polls is at least as fair.

Back in 1948, doubts were also being cast about the Indian experiment with nationhood. Never before had a new nation not based its unity on a single language, religion, or common enemy (or, preferably, all of the above). However, all Indians did not have to speak Hindi or be Hindus. They did not even have to hate the people who colonised them (in fact, Mahatma Gandhi, the Father of the Nation, counted an Englishman, the Christian priest Charles Freer Andrews, as his closest friend). As an inclusive, plural and non-adversarial model of nationalism, the idea of India had no precedent or imitator. It set itself apart from European nationalisms, which were based on a common language and, often, a shared faith and common enemy as well. Thus the citizens of England were united by the fact that they all spoke English, that they were mostly Protestant, and that many of them disliked France and the French. Likewise, the citizens of Poland spoke Polish, were almost all Catholic, and often detested Russia and the Russians. (In this respect, the idea of Pakistan is wholly European, based as it is on the privileging of a single religion, Islam; of a single language, Urdu; and, not least, on a collective hatred of the larger nation to its east.)

In the words of the political theorist Sunil Khilnani, India has been “a substantial bridgehead of effervescent liberty on the Asian continent”. As such, it inspires hope that the largely poor, still divided, and formerly colonised countries of Africa can likewise move towards a more democratic political system. Meanwhile, through its collective coexistence of different faiths, languages, cultures and cuisines, India is a better model for world governance than more homogeneous countries such as China, Japan or the United States. Once, the heterogeneity of India was seen as its greatest flaw; now, it may justly be celebrated as its greatest strength.

India was not expected to survive as a democracy; but it has. India was not expected to hold together as a single nation; but it has. These manifest successes, achieved against the odds and against the logic of human history, have compelled a worldwide admiration. If calls are now being heard that India must be made a permanent member of the Security Council of the United Nations, then these demands are not just legitimate, but also overdue. It is Indias long-term record as a stable, multicultural democracy that lies behind its claims for a place on the High Table of Global Affairs. But if politics were all, then we would not be asking whether India will become a superpower. That question is prompted also by the spectacular success, in the short term, of the Indian economy, the impressive growth rates of the past decade, the entrepreneurial drive manifest in such crucial, cutting-edge sectors such as information technology and the creation of an ever larger and ever more confident middle class.

Superficially, the summer of 2008 looks all too different from the summer of 1948.Then, we Indians did not know how long we would hold together as a single nation; whether we would come under a Communist dictatorship of the left or a theocratic regime on the right, or simply balkanise into a dozen or more different parts. Now despite the dissensions in the borderlands, in Kashmir and the Northeast we know that we are and will be a single country, whose leaders shall be chosen by (and also replaced by) ourselves. We no longer fear for our existence as a sovereign nation or as a functioning democracy. What we hope for instead is a gradual enhancement of our material and political powers, and the acknowledgement of our nation as one of the most powerful and respected on earth.

Look more closely, however, and perhaps the more things appear to change, the more they are actually the same. For, in the summer of 2008, the Indian State once more faces a challenge from left-wing extremism. The Prime Minister of India, no less, has identified the Communist Party of India (Maoist), known more familiarly as the Naxalites, as the “greatest internal security threat” facing the nation. The Union home ministry lists more than 150 districts as being Naxalite-affected. This is an exaggeration for, with even one single, stray, incident, a state government is moved to get a district listed under that category, so as to garner more funds from the Central treasury. Still, the Naxalites do have a considerable presence in some 40 or 50 districts; these spread out over the central and eastern parts of the country. Their greatest gains have been among tribal communities treated with contempt and condescension by the Indian State and by the formal processes of Indian democracy.

The conventional wisdom is that the erstwhile Untouchables or Dalits, are the social group who are most victimised in India. In fact, the tribals fare even worse. In a recent book, the demographer Arun Maharatna compared the life chances of an average Dalit with that of an average tribal. On all counts the tribals were found to be more disadvantaged. Some 30.1 per cent of Dalits are literate, but only 23.8 per cent of tribals. As many as 41.5 per cent of Dalits live below the official poverty line; however, the proportion of poor tribal households is even higher, at 49.5 per cent. One in six Dalits has no access to doctors or health clinics; as many as one in four tribals suffers from the same disability. 63.6 per cent of Dalits can avail of safe drinking water, but only 43.2 per cent of tribals.

Two summers ago, I visited the districts of Dantewara and Bastar in the state of Chhattisgarh. Here, a civil war is under way, which pits the Naxalites on one side against a vigilante group promoted by the state government on the other. The revolutionaries identify with the tribals in the short term, fighting for better wages for forest work and against their harassment by petty officials. Their long-term goal, however, is the capture of political power by armed struggle. In their bid to plant the Red Flag on the Red Fort in New Delhi, the revolutionaries view tribals merely as a stepping stone, or, one might say, as cannon fodder. The Maoists use violence regularly and recklessly. Policemen are slaughtered in their police stations, civilians killed by land mines set off on main roads. Their treatment of dissenters is especially savage; they are tried in  peoples courts  and then sentenced to amputation or death.

When I was in Bastar, the Nepali Maoists had just declared a ceasefire.Their leader, Prachanda, had gone so far as to say that multi-party democracy was the political system most suited to the 21st century. I put it to a Naxalite ideologue we met that perhaps they could think of emulating their Nepali comrades. He was contemptuous of the suggestion. He insisted that in India bourgeois democracy was a sham; here, the state had to be overthrown through the use of force. Shortly afterwards, I came across a statement on the Internet, issued by Ganapathi, general secretary of the Communist Party of India (Maoist). This reported the  successful completion  of a party congress “held deep in the forests of one of the several guerrilla zones in the country…”. The party congress “reaffirmed the general line of the new democratic revolution with agrarian revolution as its axis and protracted peoples war as the path of the Indian revolution…”. The meeting “was completed amongst great euphoria with a call to the world people: Rise up as a tide to smash Imperialism and its running dogs! Advance the Revolutionary war throughout the world!”

Tragically, the vicious and violent methods of the Maoists have been reproduced by the state government of Chhattisgarh. They have set up a vigilante army called Salwa Judum, composed of tribal youths equipped with rifles. Bands of vigilantes now roam the Bastar countryside accompanied by the police and paramilitary, in search of Naxalite sympathisers, alleged or real. They have attacked dozens of villages and burnt hundreds of homes. They have killed many innocent people and terrorised many others. With the Supreme Court, as I write, are some first-hand testimonies of villagers who have suffered at the hand of these state-supported vigilantes. The residents of Pakela village, for example, recorded that 20 of their homes had been burnt by Salwa Judum cadres. “Everything in the homes,” reads the English translation of their evidence, “rice, clothes, utensils and money got reduced to ashes.” Other villagers offered more precise accounts of the damage, listing the number of paddy sacks or hens or pigs seized or burnt from individual households. The collective sentiments of those targeted by the Salwa Judum were expressed most poignantly by the residents of Korcholi village. They said:

“The frightened villagers of Gangaloor, Cherpal and Bijapur, seeing the Salwa Judum, have fled into [the] forests. The Salwa Judum burns the food stock, houses and clothes. They also break the cooking utensils.

Raping women, slitting peoples throat to kill, killing people by drowning them in water, robbing them etc are the main activities of the Salwa Judum leaders. Why is this happening in our country, why is this happening in Chhattisgarh? Why has the Chhattisgarh administration been running this? Has our chief minister been elected only for this?”

The creation and consolidation of Salwa Judum has greatly increased the level of violence in Dantewara. Villagers are being forced to choose one side or the other. Those who hesitate to join the vigilantes are savagely set upon. In the past two years, close to a thousand people have died as a consequence of the conflict. Meanwhile, the Salwa Judum and the state government between them have forcibly uprooted some 50,000 villagers and put them in camps along the main roads.

An atmosphere of fear and terror pervades the district. Families, clans, tribes and villages are divided by the civil war. As ever, it is the innocent who suffer most. For, the majority of villagers are not interested in this fight at all. They have been dragged into it, willy-nilly, by the Maoists on the one side and the Salwa Judum on the other.As one tribal in the village of Nelasnar told me: “Hamein donon taraf se dabaav hai aur hum beech mein pis gaye.” It sounds far tamer in English pressured from both sides, here we are, squeezed in the middle.

Salwa Judum is a model of how not to fight left-wing extremism. The menace of Naxalism and let us be clear about this, it is a menace can be tamed and tackled in two ways: by prompt and efficient policing, and by providing the tribals a greater share in political power and in the fruits of economic development. 

Unhappily, even tragically, the tribals have become the main victims of economic globalisation. In the days when the state occupied the commanding heights of the Indian economy, the adivasis lost their lands and livelihoods to hydel power plants and commercial forestry schemes. Now, they lose their lands and livelihoods to mining projects which excavate the vast amounts of iron ore and bauxite found on or under land the tribals live on, but whose ownership (or rights of disposal) are claimed by the state. Non-tribal politicians hand over these resources to large firms, foreign and Indian, in exchange for a share of the proceeds. All that the tribals get, in exchange, is dispossession.

In naming themselves after Mao Zedong, the Naxalites hope to do in this country what that Chinese revolutionary accomplished in his that is to say, to build a single-party dictatorship that calls itself, in Orwellian fashion, a  People s Democracy . This dream is a fantasy, but, since the Maoists are determined to play it out, a bloody war of attrition lies ahead of us. The Indian State will not be able to easily recapture the hearts and minds of the adivasis, nor able either to authoritatively reassert its control, by day and especially by night, in the territories where the extremists are now active. At the same time, if the Maoists try to move into the open country, they will be mowed down by the Indian Army. But in the hills and forests of Central India, the conflict will persist, without any side claiming a decisive victory. In the next decade, thousands of lives will be lost, some of policemen, others of Naxalites, the majority perhaps of adivasis caught in the crossfire.


Saturday, July 23, 2011

Indo-Bangladesh Relations: The other face of a friend Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is scheduled to visit Bangladesh in Septem-ber 2011. Foreign Minister S M Krishna visited Bangladesh on July 6, 2011 which was overshadowed by PM Singh’s remarks made at the meeting with Indian editors in the first week of July in New Delhi in which he said that 25% of Bangladeshi popula-tion was anti-India and in the clutches of the ISI. These prickly remarks irked many in Bangladesh. During Mr Krishna’s visit the environment was further vitiated. Besides this when Bangladesh media raised the question about “killing of unarmed Bangla-deshi nationals by India’s trigger-happy Border Security Force (BSF).” According to Odhikar, a human rights organisation in Bangladesh, between January 1 and May10, 2011, 12 young unarmed Bangladeshi nationals were killed by the BSF.

Indo-Bangladesh relations have never been cordial. In Bangladesh, India is viewed as a bully, throwing its weight around and threatening the sovereignty of its smaller neighbors. There are several issues between the two countries, which are the cause of grave concern for Bangladesh. These include water issue, land issue, fencing of border, Indian support to Chakma community, smuggling from India etc. India is continuously interfering into the internal affairs of Bangladesh. She is supporting the Chakma refugees of Bangladesh in order to create unrest in that country. Her expansionist designs envision a subservient Bangladesh towing the Indian line without question. For this purpose India is supporting many separatist groups for covert and overt operations.

Human Rights Congress of Bangladeshi Minorities (HRCBM), a Hindu organiza-tion is creating communal violence in Bangladesh. It is facilitating the settlement of Hindus in border districts of the country in order to facilitate Indian annexation of border territory of Bangladesh. This organization is portraying Bangladesh as a Talibanized society, propagating that Islam is the root cause of all ills, damaging relations between UN and Bangladesh, creating social unrest in Bangladesh and encouraging the boycott of Bangladeshi products.

Most important issue that mars bilateral relations between India and Bangladesh is water. Bangladesh, which shares 54 rivers with India as lower riparian, has serious differences with New Delhi regarding water sharing. Indian also prepared a master plan to deprive Bangladesh of its rightful share of water to build a big river-linking-project that includes diversion of water from Ganges and Brahmaputra rivers, this has become yet another source of antagonism between the two countries who have not been able to sort out their differences over a whole range of issues that continue to fuel political tension which, in turn, does not allow the resolution of differences over water.

Indian intelligence agencies have flooded Bangladesh with fake paper money to ruin its economy. These smugglers cum agents freely bring fake paper currency to Bangladesh because it is not only profitable but also easy and less risky. The smugglers get 40% to 50% commission from Indians for spreading fake currency in Bangladesh. Presence of fake currency has created a serious problem in normal transaction of money in the region, as people are suspicious of the authenticity of money that they receive even from the banks. The law enforcing agencies of Bangladesh have arrested more than a hundred agents of Indian intelligence agencies and recovered fake currency.

The unique geographic location of Bangladesh which limits approach to the troubled North East region of India from the mainland constitutes a significant security weak point for India for the fact that the region shares border with China and that various insurgent groups are active within the region who are fighting against the Indian government for self determination. In light of their experience in Indo-China war in 1962, the Indian defense planners consider the strategic chicken neck to be inadequate and see Bangladesh to be the safest and the shortest route to transport military logistics to North East region in case of a military conflict between India and China in the future. A strategic corridor through Bangladesh is also seen as important to conduct sustained military campaign against the insurgent groups in North East.

To make Bangladesh totally dependent on and subservient to India, Indian expansionists ruined Bangladesh’s education, culture, social value, economy, agriculture, industries. India designs to imbalance Bangladesh to such degree that it becomes dys-functional and failed State totally dependent on India for survival. India has sunk its claws deep into Bangladeshi policy. Many Bangladeshi policymakers, politicians, intellectuals, bureaucrats, business magnets, etc., who directly and indirectly control the state crafts of Bangladesh have either become India’s pawns to grab their self-interest, who give priority to their immediate gains instead of national interest and sovereignty. It should be the foremost responsibility of India to adopt a policy of non-interference in the internal affairs of neighbouring peace-loving countries. If only India realizes the importance of peace in the region, problems of neighbouring countries bordering In-dia would solve automatically. Perhaps, the Indian government realizes this responsibility and let peace prevail in the region by adopting a policy of non-interference.

The reality behind the rhetoric
India obviously wants to use the transit facilities to integrate its insurgent north-eastern states with India proper.

The government apparently has great expectations from its current overtures to India, but dispassionate observers of Bangladesh-India relations, both in good times and bad, have reasons to be wary even in these best of times. The diplomatic chemistry, so to say, is excellent and much is being made of the imminent deal for 'transit, transhipment and regional connectivity.' This is to be effected through our territory, predominantly to help India transport its goods [arms not included, we are assured, though cynics swear it is likely to be a no-holds-barred situation, unofficially ] to and from its own states to the west, east and north of Bangladesh ----in other words a 'corridor', with all its latent political ramifications.(The Financial Express BD)

It is perhaps to remove such apprehensions that the Bangladesh Finance Minister thought it wise to tell the press, after a meeting with the visiting External Affairs Minister of India early this month (6th July), that the two countries have agreed to include Nepal and Bhutan in the 'transit and transhipment loop to ensure wider regional connectivity.' He appeared rather upbeat, adding, that by allowing transit to East Asian and other South Asian countries, Bangladesh was hoping to become a 'regional economic hub'.

But Bangladesh has miles to go before that. It would be too simplistic to presume that the transit issue has everything to do with economics and connectivity and nothing at all with the political reality on the ground. It is indeed full of potential but nonetheless fraught with too many complexities that need to be dealt with judiciously. The political parties in Bangladesh are sharply divided over it. [ But the Indian PM was wide off the mark when he said, in a tete-a-tete this month with newspaper editors in Delhi, that 25 per cent of Bangladeshis are Jamaat-i-Islami and anti-Indian with close ISI (Pakistani military intelligence) links! For the good man's information, this Islamic bogey never managed more than six per cent of the vote in any election in Bangladesh, despite its cosying up to the two main parties as and when found expedient.

One wonders whether the Indian PM is privy to some 'secret agenda' regarding Bangladesh which prompted him to add that 'the political landscape can change at any time.' What the plot and who the hatchers? Or does he simply mean Sheikh Hasina might not be re-elected next term, so better to take advantage of the Awami League's unquestioned majority? Let us hope it is just that and not some wild CIA-ISI-RAW-MOSSAD and what-not conspiracy to prey on us and our resources!

India obviously wants to use the transit facilities to integrate its insurgent north-eastern states with India proper. These states are power-starved and have little access to the outside world. With affordable transit rights through Bangladesh to the sea, these 'backward' states could be completely transformed in no time, while India at large would gain prodigiously from sure integration with Southeast Asian markets. Besides, better attention from New Delhi would be possible for the northeastern states with the proximity gained through this transit-concession from Bangladesh.

But would transit to India really be the big deal that it is being made out to be for this small country? In the short term bilateral phase, all trade would essentially involve Indian states alone ----- that is, India trading with India ---- with Bangladesh 'benefiting' from some service charges. If we are to really reap benefits worth the name, it is imperative that the details are worked out fairly and made available to the public. It would also make more sense to go multilateral rather than settle for a bilateral deal with India alone. [Shouldn't Bangladesh's sights be higher than that of a mere client/satellite/service agent vis-a-vis India? This loaded question comes not only from anti-Awami League elements but from some very proud Muktijoddhas also who resent New Delhi's neo-colonial mindset towards Dhaka.

So far India has 'approved' only eight of the 20 projects Bangladesh had submitted for implementation under the $1.0 billion Indian credit line. These include investment in energy and power, transport and industrial sectors. The Indian Prime Minister is scheduled to visit Bangladesh early September to sign several proposed deals. Other high level visits are also expected prior to Manmohan Singh's programme, which include the Home Minister P Chidambaram and the President of the Indian National Congress, Sonia Gandhi. Although the latter, who is also chairperson of the ruling national alliance, is coming to attend a conference on autism, her visit is bound to leave a good feeling about Indo-Bangla ties.

But experts watching developments in Bangladesh-India relations deplore the fact that there is virtually no evidence of quality research and cost-benefit analyses on how best to bargain for optimum benefits from Bangladesh's concession to India. Access to necessary information and data, pertaining to the structure and volume of trade between India's north-eastern states, and theirs with the main land, has also not been sought by, or made available to, Bangladesh for proper assessment of the potential. Be that as it may, the expert opinion is that Bangladesh must tread carefully and take pragmatic steps to sustain a win-win situation ---- if that is at all possible ----with the rising regional power.

Notwithstanding the likely positive impact on revenue ---- provided pricing is competently and fairly handled --- some observers think it would be wise not to concede full-scale transit right away. Given the fact that Bangladesh does not yet have the infrastructure to support heavy traffic, and that long-standing, often festering issues remain to be resolved, Bangladesh would be well advised to keep its wits around it.

Mark you, even a section of the Indian intelligentsia, such as Mihir Sharma of the Indian Express, admits that New Delhi's mindset with regard to Bangladesh, has been 'petty and shortsighted'. High time that changed. Says Sharma, 'India needs to go the extra mile, ensuring market access for Bangladesh, visibly demonstrating detente, and not just on our terms. India's Bangladesh policy must be liberated from those who imagine the country as attitudinally frozen in time, when ................... it's economy is booming; its human development indicators are better than India's ........'

Friday, July 22, 2011

Bengali Holocaust: "Churchill's Secret War" important book "Churchill's Secret War: The British Empire and the ravaging of India during World War II" by Madhusree Mukerjee (Basic Books, New York, 2010) is an account of the forgotten World War II Bengali Holocaust, the man-made, 1942-1945 Bengal Famine in which 6-7 million Indians were deliberately starved to death by the British under Churchill for strategic reasons in what was one of the greatest atrocities in human history but which has been largely whitewashed from British history.
Other books have been written about the Bengal Famine. Thus N.G. Jog's "Churchill's Blind Spot: India " (New Book Company, Bombay, 1944) in referring to this Bengali Holocaust was the first to refer to a WW2 atrocity as a "holocaust". Paul Greenough's "Prosperity and Misery in Modern Bengal: the Famine of 1943-1944" (Oxford University Press, 1982) is a detailed and definitive account of the WW2 Bengal Famine.
Brilliant Bengali film maker Satyajit Ray's film "Distant Thunder" is a profoundly moving account of part of this disaster and concludes with an estimate that 5 million Bengalis perished.
My book "Jane Austen and the Black Hole of British History: Colonial rapacity, holocaust denial and the crisis in biological sustainability" (G.M. Polya, Melbourne, 1998, 2008: put the WW2 Bengali Holocaust into a wider context of British racism, imperialism, holocaust commission, holocaust denial and cultural self-deception. My thesis was that history ignored yields history repeated and that ignoring of immense man-made famine disasters in Bengal, notably the 1769-1779 Bengal Famine (10 million dead) and the 1942-1945 Bengal Famine (4 million dead in Bengal, 6-7 million Indians dead in Bengal and contiguous provinces) increases the risk of repetition and, specifically, in the 21st century from man-made global warming, sea level rise, increased tropical cyclone intensity and land inundation and salinization through consequent storm surges.
However an even deadlier threat, not just to Bengal (West Bengal and Bangladesh), but to all developing countries comes from post-colonial, US-led, First Word hegemony and callous disregard of the entitlement of all people on Spaceship Earth to a minimally decent life. In the first edition of my book "Jane Austen and the Black Hole of British History" I referred to the diaries of General Wavell and observed (p141): "On October 15 1943 in Cairo on his way out to India , Wavell inspected Indian troops and spoke to Casey about food. Casey said Australia had had a bad wheat harvest, Canada could just supply U.S. and British deficiencies and that the Argentinians had burnt their surplus of 2 million tons as fuel on the railways in the absence of coal, of which there was a world shortage." Now in 2008 Americans and Europeans are burning biofuel in their cars while 4 billion fellow human beings on Spaceship Earth are malnourished and facing starvation." At the end of 2008 oil and food prices peaked, there were food riots around the world and only the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) and an attendant decline of food prices averted a Bengal-style catastrophe. However food prices have been rising again since the GFC and the threat of man-made, price-driven famine is again looming in a World in which billions of people go hungry and 1 billion are malnourished. Unaddressed man-made global warming is imposing an already worsening Climate Genocide in which 10 billion people, including over 2 billion South Asians, are predicted to die this century (see "Biofuel Genocide":
 and "Climate Genocide":

Madhusree Mukerjee's book commences with a key quotation from Churchill that addresses "from the horse's mouth" the fundamental holocaust commission, holocaust ignoring and holocaust denial behaviour of this mass murdering, racist imperialist. Thus Churchill makes no reference in the text of his 6-volume "The Second World War" (for which he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature) to the Bengal Famine (holocaust ignoring, holocaust denial) in which he deliberately murdered 6-7 million Indians (holocaust commission). Instead Churchill offers in his fraudulent history the following appalling holocaust lie: "No great portion of the world population was so effectively protected from the horrors and perils of the World War as were the peoples of Hindustan. They were carried through the struggle on the shoulders of our small Island" ("The Second World War", volume 4, p181, Cassell, London, 1954; "Churchill's Secret War", Prologue: our title to India, pix; "Jane Austen and the Black Hole of British History", Chapter 14, The Bengal Famine of 1943-1944, p133).
Madhusree Mukerjee systematically successively analyzes the background to the Bengali Holocaust in a prologue that deals with British India and the massive recurrent man-made famines, commencing with the 1769-1770 Bengal Famine in which 10 million people died due to British greed. Not quoted is Amaresh Misra's book "War of Civilizations: India AD 1857" that estimates that 10 million people died in British reprisals for the 1857 Indian rebellion. While the appalling famine history of British India is outlined the genocidal aspect is downplayed. Thus it can be estimated from British census and comparative mortality data that 1.8 billion Indians died prematurely under 2 centuries of British rule. While Mukerjee makes clear the British economic exploitation of India, she downplays the reality that endemic poverty and hunger in India made it possible for a distant island of scores of millions to rule hundreds of millions of disempowered Indian subjects with the help of well-fed sepoys and other collaborators.
A major contribution of Mukerjjee's book is the account of the beginning of the Bengal Famine in 1942 with the brutal British suppression of rebellion in West Bengal accompanied by mass killing, mass imprisonment, burning of houses and villages, seizure of food and other measures that were exacerbated in their impact by a major storm surge event. While the key years of the Bengal Famine were 1943 and 1944, surviving inhabitants of South West Bengal date the beginning of the famine to late 1942 due to British excesses. Mukerjee provides a logical account of the factors contributing to the huge increase in the price of rice (up to 6-fold) that was the real killer in the Bengal Famine e.g. cessation of rice imports from Japanese-occupied Burma; hundreds of thousands removed from areas close to Japanese-occupied Burma (instant impoverishment and demand on rice stocks); seizure of rice stocks (Rice Denial to impair Japanese invasion as well as punishment of rebellious Bengalis); local deficiencies (due to the 1942 hurricane, fungal infestation and British suppression of Bengali nationalists); the Boat Denial Policy (that ostensibly was meant to delay a Japanese invasion but which condemned millions to death through lack of fishing and food distribution); provincial autonomy of food stocks (a deadly divide and rule policy covered with a veneer of "partial democracy"); mass imprisonment of hundreds of thousands of Free India supporters (thereby minimizing democratic Indian political responses to the Bengal Famine); various British encouragements of capitalist hoarding and profiteering; export of grain from India associated with hugely decreased imports of grain; British unresponsiveness in India and in London; lack of shipping in the Indian Ocean due to Churchillian fiat at Casablanca (especially in 1943); government protection of the food security of soldiers, civil servants and defence industry workers in Calcutta (a major industrial city undergoing a wartime boom and which sucked food out of a starving but rice-producing countryside); inflation (due to the British running up a huge financial debt to India during WW2 and Government rice purchases). A novel contribution is exposure of the key role in the disaster of incompetent and racist key Churchill adviser Professor Lindemann (Lord Cherwell) who consistently opposed food relief for starving India while Britain was stocking up with excess food. Physicist Mukerjee's book refers to C.P Snow's classic book "Science and Government" that excoriates physicist Lindemann for his successful promotion of bombing German cities at the expense of protecting Allied shipping, a policy that led to massive losses in the Battle of the Atlantic. This in turn led to Churchill halving shipping in the Indian Ocean in 1943. Mukerjee, while properly condemning Lindemann for his opposition to food aid for India, overlooks this key consequence of Lindemann's bombing obsession, specifically .the causal pathway of diversion of Allied bombers from ship protection to bombing German civilians - loss of Allied shipping - Mediterranean strategy-dictated halving of Allied shipping in the Indian Ocean - food price rise in the Indian Ocean region - famine in India. Indeed C.B.A.
Behrens in her book "Merchant shipping and the demands of war" (referred to by Mukerjee) does make this connection and states "the North Africa campaign doomed almost irrevocably to starvation any deficit area in India", a view with which British historian A.J.P.. Taylor concurs. *
Mukerjee makes clear that Churchill's deadly unresponsiveness to the Bengal Famine came from a passionately Anglocentric and imperialist view of the world and his entrenched racism from "I hate Indians. They are a beastly people with a beastly religion" to his view of Bengalis that "they breed like rabbits". In interview Mukerjee incorrectly stated "He [Churchill] is often criticised for bombing German cities but has never before been held directly responsible for the deaths of so many people as in the Bengal famine" (see Ben Sheppard, "Book blames Churchill for Indian famine that killed millions", The Age, 8 September 2010:

In reality, many people have been blaming Churchill from the time of the Bengal Famine. Indian and a small body of humane European writers have been blaming Churchill from the time of the atrocity onwards. I have written and broadcast extensively over 2 decades about Churchill's responsibility for Bengal Famine this eliciting a trenchant response from the Churchill Centre to an article I wrote for MWC News entitled "Media lying over Churchill's crimes"(MWC News, 18 November, 2008:
"Polya begins by dismissing all historians who disagree with him as Anglo-American and Zionist propagandists, including official biographer Sir Martin Gilbert-who, since it's always a good idea to question the accused, we asked for comment. "Churchill was not responsible for the Bengal Famine," Sir Martin replied. "I have been searching for evidence for years: none has turned up. The 1944 Document volume of the official biography [Hillsdale College Press] will resolve this issue finally" (see the editors, Finest Hour, "Bengali Famine":
The most shattering part of the book deals with personal accounts of the victims. One cannot comprehend what the starvation to death of 4 million Bengalis or 6-7 million Indians as a whole actually means. The sexual abuse of famine victims, either by exploiters in Calcutta (some 30,000 victims) or in the British Military Labour Corps (that effected the equivalent of the large-scale Japanese comfort women abuses) are particularly horrifying. ...These parts alone of Madhusree Mukerjee's book should make it compulsory reading for all people. We are obliged to tell others about gross abuses of humanity ­ we cannot walk by on the other side.
From a dispassionate scientific perspective, rational risk management successively involves (a) getting the facts, (b) scientific analysis and © informed systemic change to minimize risk. Mukerjee's book is very important because it sets out a detailed and documented account of the Bengali Holocaust in which Churchill deliberately starved 6-7 million Indians to death over an extended period (1942-1945) despite the pleas of Bengalis, Indians and decent Britishers (notably General Wavell, Viceroy of India). Yet thousands of books about India, WW2, and British history fail to even mention the Bengali Holocaust, one of the worst atrocities in human history. We have seen above eminent pro-Zionist historian Sir Martin Gilbert's denial of Churchill's crimes. There is s no mention of the Bengali Holocaust in pro-Zionist Simon Schama's "A History of Britain" (BBC, 2002) or Michael Woods' "The Story of India" (BBC 2007), although in 2008 the BBC broadcast a program entitled "Bengal Famine" involving myself, Economics Nobel Laureate Professor Amartya Sen and other scholars as part of a series entitled "The things we forgot to remember" (see: Colin Mason in his book "A Short History of Asia. Stone Age to 2000 AD" (Macmillan, 2000) slams generations of English-speaking historians and writers for whitewashing the Bengal Famine from history, Mason arguing that the evidence suggests that it was the result of a deliberate "scorched earth policy" by Churchill in the war with Japan.
Article 2 of the UN Genocide Convention defines genocide as "acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group". Missing from Mukerjee's book are any direct admission quotes from Churchill in which he actually mentions the Bengali Holocaust. I have found one such Churchill statement in an April 1944 letter to Roosevelt (alluded to in Mukerjee's book) in which Churchill states "I am seriously concerned about the food situation in India and its possible reactions on our joint operations. Last year we had a grievous famine in Bengal through which at least 700,000 people died... By cutting down military shipments and other means, I have been able to arrange for 350,000 tons of wheat to be shipped to India from Australia during the first nine months of 1944. This is the shortest haul. I cannot see how to do more. I have had much hesitation in asking you to add to the great assistance you are giving us with shipping but a satisfactory situation in India is of such vital importance to the success of our joint plans against the Japanese that I am impelled to ask you to consider a special allocation of ships to carry wheat from Australia without reducing the assistance you are now providing for us, who are at a positive minimum if war efficiency is to be maintained. We have the wheat in Australia but we lack the ships. I have resisted for some time the Viceroy's request that I should ask you for your help, but I believe that, with this recent misfortune with the wheat harvest and in the light of Mountbatten's representations, I am no longer justified in not asking for your help"(see "Jane Austen and the Black Hole of British History", Chapter 15, pp157-158).
In the interests of truth and rational risk management there should be a posthumous war crimes trial of Churchill held by the International Criminal Court or , better still (because the ICC is a notoriously a US-beholden holocaust ignoring and genocide ignoring organization), by an authoritative panel of outstanding 
jurists and scholars with impeccable scholarly and human credentials.
In the last analysis, what killed 6-7 million Indians in 1942-1945 was lying by omission and commission ­ and the same anti-science perversion is set to kill several billion more South Asians this century due to climate change inaction. The first Lord Monckton worked in British propaganda and information in WW2 and was given his peerage in 1957 in part for loyalty to mass murderer Churchill and for removing the Bengal Famine from public perception. 60 years later his non-scientist grandson the Third Lord Monckton tours the world telling gullible audiences that man-made climate change is not happening, denying the overwhelming scientific consensus to the contrary. Yet search the entire site of the Australian ABC (the Australian equivalent of the UK BBC) for "Lord Monckton" and you will get 169 results as compared to ONE (1) for "Madhusree Mukerjee", and that only being due to a comment made by me about an ABC program about Churchill: "Winston Churchill is on record as telling Leo Amery, the UK Secretary of State for India, in 1942: "I hate Indians. They are a beastly people with a beastly religion". Churchill is responsible for the Bengali Holocaust, the man-made 1942-1945 Bengal Famine in which 6-7 million Indians were deliberately starved to death by the British for strategic reasons in Bengal, Bihar, Assam and Orissa. For the shocking details of the Bengali Holocaust and its whitewashing from British history by holocaust-ignoring and holocaust-denying media, academics, editors, journalists, teachers and politicians see Gideon Polya, "Bengali Famine", Ockham's Razor, ABC Radio National (1999); Gideon Polya, "Jane Austen and the Black Hole of British History. Colonial rapacity, holocaust denial and the crisis in biological sustainability" (1998, 2008); Colin Mason, "A Short History of Asia. Stone Age to 2000 AD", (2000); Dr Gideon Polya, Economics Nobel Laureate Professor Amartya Sen et al, "Bengal Famine", BBC (2008); Madhusree Mukerjee, "Churchill's Secret War. The British Empire and the ravaging of India during World War 11" (2010). "
In 2011 Britain is still making war on Third World Muslim countries, namely Iraq (war-related deaths 4.6 million, 1990-2011), Afghanistan (war-related deaths 5.0 million, 2001-2011) and now Libya, which is being bombed back to the Stone Age. Greed, racism and imperialism aside, a key reason for Britain's mass murder of Bengalis (substantially Muslims) in WW2 and for its continued atrocities lies in personal self-deception and propaganda-assisted public deception. Madhusree Mukerjee discovered this profound confession by mass murderer and holocaust denier Churchill: "I therefore adopted quite early in life a system of believing whatever I wanted to believe." I strongly recommend Madhusree Mukerjee's very readable and vitally important book "Churchill's Secret War". History ignored yields history repeated.

 Churchill's Secret War By Madhusree Mukarjee