Sidharta Guha Roy
The Kashmir valley just retorted again. The dispute began after the Kashmir government promised to give forest land to a trust that runs Amarnath, a cave shrine visited by Hindu pilgrims. At least 23 people have been killed and over 500 injured in clashes between Muslim protesters and police till now, hospital records show. The government then rescinded its decision, which in turn provoked BJP backed Hindus in Jammu who attacked lorries carrying supplies to Kashmir valley and blocked the region's highway, the only surface link with the rest of India. BJP and RSS making mess of situation, turning the communal riots and whipped up Hindu emotions. We are focusing on the historical expansionism of Indian State over Kashmir, to understand the inherent dissent of Kashmir people--The early days of the 1990s saw the beginning of a militant insurgency in Kashmir. The insurgency had immersed few years before it exploded fully. In November 1947, immediately after Kashmir's accession to India, Jawaharlal Nehru; the Indian Prime Minister, declared that, “the question of the state's accession should be settled by a reference to the people.” But the proposed plebiscite did never take place. The Indian state, for the next 40 years, not only denied the right to self determination of the Kashmiris, but also by constitutional manipulations transformed the status of Kashmir like that of any other Indian province. In 1987, five youths in jail, with a view to liberate Kashmir from Indian hegemony, formed an organization, Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF). They were Yasin Malik, Asfaq Wani, Abdul Hamid, Sheikh Ijaj, Ahmed Dar and Javed Mir. They declared that, in order to establish the right of the Kashmiris, popular discontent should be turned into an armed struggle for liberation. The demand for 'Azadi' echoed everywhere in the valley. The days of peaceful protest int
hevalley came to an end and the situation became rife for an armed insurrection. Brutal state repression had been unleashed by the Indian state to suppress the protagonists of the right to self determination. Ruthless violation of human rights has, in fact, questioned the civilized entity of India.
The Indian state had legalized its brutality by introducing a number of repressive laws in the valley. Public Safety Act, 1978, was extensively used throughout the 1990s to curb the activities of the supporters of 'azadi'. It is a kind of preventive detention act which allows two years detention without
trial. The years between 1990 and 1995 saw the indiscriminate use of the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities Act (TADA), 1985 in the valley. This draconian act had the provision of appointing designated courts, where victims were tried not in a public place, but in absolute concealment. The designated courts framed under TADA could even pronounce the death sentence. The valley also saw the rampant use of the Armed Forces Special Power Act. The Act empowered the armed forces to use force “to the point of causing death' to any person inspected for committing any “cognizable offence”. These undemocratic and repressive acts encouraged the Indian army as well as the paramilitary forces to commit thousands of extra judicial murders in the valley. An Amnesty International Report (January 1995) observed, “The brutality of torture in Jammu and Kashmir defies belief. It has left people disabled and mutilated for life.” An army officer proudly stated in April 1993 “We don't have custodial deaths here, we have alley deaths.” Even the women and the children were not spared. A Women's Fact Finding Commission observed in October 1997, “The atmosphere prevalent in the valley is that of fear and gloom. Women face constant humiliation and insecurity.” It has been roughly estimated that about 60,000 people had been killed in the 1990s by the Indian Security Forces in Kashmir. The state terrorism fell heavily on the human rights activists as well Hriday Nath Wangchoo, Dr. F.A. Ashai, Dr. Abdul Ahad Gun and Jalil Andrabi were among the prominent victims. Wangchoo, a trade unionist and a retired IAS officer tiled a writ petition against extra-judicial execution in Kashmir. On 5 December, 1992, he was killed. It was reliably believed that
BSF was behind his murder. Dr. Ashai and Dr. Guru were the physicians who had treated thousands of torture victims. Both of them supplied necessary information on terror and atrocities perpetrated by the Indian Security Forces. They were murdered in 1993. Jalil Andrabi, a prominent lawyer worked for the families of hundreds who mysteriously “disappeared” after being taken to the custody. He was killed in March 1996, when he was detained by Rashtriya Rifle soldiers. “He was so successful in his dangerous and difficult work that he had to be savagely silenced.” Read the obituary of Jalil Andrabi in the pages of Kashmir Times.
In reality, stern and human attitude of the Indian armed forces,encouraged by the rulers, has absolutely alienated the people of Kashmir. Pro- Pakistani militants have come forward to exploit the situation. Battle for 'Azadi' launched by the Kashmiris has three phases. In the early 1950s, Sheikh Abdullah and his National Conference tried to achieve right to self-determination way of a peaceful protest. The Government of India refused to ascribe any importance to this peaceful demand of the Kashmiris. Waiting for about 40 years, the Kashmiris took arms to fight the Indian armed forces and their atrocitites. They raised the banner of 'Kashmiriyat' in their fight for the right to self determination. But excess of the Indian armed forces committed against the fighters for Azadi as well as against the Kashmiris in general. The alienation of the Kashmiris became so crucial that pro Pakistani elements, backed by Islamic fundamentalists came to dominate the movement. The activities of the Islamic fundamentalists, in fact, provided the Indian state with an opportunity of calling the upsurge of Kashmir an antinational movement.
Use of force in the valley by the protectors of law and order is often sanctioned by a persistent campaign on behalf of the Indian state that Pak sponsored terrorism forms the crux of the problem in Kashmir. But this presents only a part of the entire picture. The valley is actually confronted with the problem related to unfulfilled hopes and aspirations of the Kashmiris. The Indian rulers should give up the policy of perceiving the people's protest in Kashmir as a mere law and order problem instigated by Pakistan and alight from the high pedestals of military might to recognize the popular will of the valley.
Sidharta Guha Roy
Amit Bhattacharyya Part 1
(Author's note: In March 2008, all leading Indian newspapers and TV channels published and telecast news of a rebellion in Tibet, which incidentally was the fiftieth year of the “free Tibet” rebellion in 1959. Almost immediately after that, most of the media, as if all of them were expecting such an event to happen, started publishing news about how bad the Chinese authorities are, how the Chinese Communist Party, since the days of Mao Tsetung, had suppressed the genuine aspirations of the Tibetan people in China for freedom, how the PRC encouraged Han chauvinism and above all, how China had occupied Tibet, which was, according to them, never part of the Chinese territory. Not only leading newspapers, but many periodicals in both English and Bengali, if not also in other vernacular languages, started a slander campaign against China and Communism. Many eminent personalities belonging to different professions, while criticizing the forcible suppression of the protest movements inside Tibet, also poured their venom on the Communist ideology. However, what is significant is that all of them kept total silence on the Tibetan serfdom associated with the Dalai Lama rule and the fundamental socialist transformation brought about by the CPC in association of the people of Tibet in the 1950s. Most of the writers, in their haste to denounce the recent bloodbath, only betrayed a profound ignorance of the historical relations between China and Tibet and the part played first by the British and then by the US imperialism as also by the then Indian prime minister, Pandit J.N.Nehru. While dealing with the question concerning Tibet, one should strictly adhere to facts; one should keep in mind the fact that China of today is totally different from what it had been during the time Mao Tse-tung was at the helm of affairs, that today's China has deviated so much from Mao's policy and the ideology of Communism associated with him that it had become a capitalist power long time back. So the policy pursued by the present-day government of China can never be the same as that pursued earlier. This essay seeks to analyze the events right from the ancient period and will continue until the late 1970s, after which, along with the change in the colour of China in the post-Mao phase, there might have been changes in the policy towards Tibetans and other small nationalities.
“Most of the kaloons* of the Tibetan local government and the reactionary clique of the upper social strata colluded with imperialism, gathered together rebellious bandits, rebelled, wrought havoc among the people, held Dalai Lama under duress, tore up the 17-article Agreement on Measures for the Peaceful Liberation of Tibet, and on the night of 19 March, directed the Tibetan local army and rebels in an all-out attack against the People's Liberation Army garrison at Lhasa. Such acts which betray the motherland and disrupt the unification of the country cannot be tolerated by the law…”(Premier Chou En lai's 'Order of the State Council of the People's Republic of China' dt. March 28,1959; *The local government of Tibet is called kasha and its six members are called kaloons in Tibetan). The rebellion was crushed within three days by 22 March. According to official reports, about five thousand armed rebels were killed; the number of casualties on the PLA side is not known. In March 2008, on the fiftieth anniversary of that rebellion, sections of the Tibetan population rebelled against the Chinese government and raised the “Free Tibet” slogan. The movement spread to some other areas and countries including India. Within a few days the movement was quelled in China.
This movement raised a hue and cry in some quarters both in India and abroad and brought into the focus some questions, some of which are historical in nature while some others are directly related to the present situation in China. The following questions are being raised: whether Tibet was historically part of China; what was the policy of the People's Republic of China and the stand of Mao Tse-tung towards small nationalities in general and Tibet in particular;the policy of the PRC towards Tibet after 1949; what happened in 1959; what was the role of US imperialism and the government of India led by Nehru towards the issue of Tibet etc. What is evident from the discussions that have come up since March 2008 and available in India is that some pertinent questions have virtually not been dealt with at all, or only in passing. One is the historical relationship between China and Tibet; the other is the nature of the dark, cruel serf system in Tibet that was uprooted by the Chinese Communists and how a new socialist society was created there. For the sake of convenience, I propose to divide the whole discussion into the following sections: 1) Was Tibet historically an integral part of China? 2)British imperialist designs on Tibet(Early 19th century--1949); 3) Tibet in the China-USA-India Relationship; 4) Mao Tse-tung and Chou En-lai on the question of small nationalities in China; 5) Background of the Rebellion of 1959; 6) Nehru and Tibet; 7) Why are foreign powers such as the USA interested in Tibet? 8) Tibetan serfdom 9)Transformation of Tibet from a feudal country into a socialist one; 9)Is China a threat by example? Section 1: Was Tibet historically an integral part of China? China, admittedly one of the largest countries of the world, is the home of fifty-six nationalities. Nearly 94% of her people belong to the Han nationality. Besides the Han, there are many minority nationalities such as the Mongol, Hui, Tibetan, Uighur, Chuang, Miao, Yi, Kirghiz, Tatar and others. The interesting point is that the population of the minority nationalities in China is small, but the area they inhabit is large. The Han people comprise 94% of the total population--an overwhelming majority, but they are settled in about 40 to 50 per cent of the total land area in China. On the other hand, the other 50 to 60 per cent of the land area is, as we can well understand, very sparsely populated by the other 55 small nationalities of China. All these nationalities contributed through long years of cooperation and interaction, to its formation as a united country.
Relations between China and Tibet were established on a firm basis during the rule of the Tang dynasty in China(618-907 AD), though contacts and exchanges between the Han and Tibetan nationalities and between their ancestors, antedate written history. During the Tang rule, there were no less than 100 missions exchanged between the two countries and eight treaties concluded by them. In 641, Emperor Tai Tsung of the Tang dynasty married Princess Wen Cheng to the Tibetan king, Sron-tsan Gampo. She took with her silk-worm eggs and a large number of Han craftsmen specializing in brewing, rice-milling, paper and ink-making. This helped in promoting the economic and cultural development of Tibet at that time. According to Buston, the historian of Tibet, the Chinese princess was largely responsible for the introduction of Buddhism in Tibet and the Tibetan looked upon her as an incarnation of the Divine Mother(Tara). When Emperor Tai Tsung died and Emperor Kao Tsung was enthroned, king Sron-tsan Gampo wrote to the Tang prime minister, saying: “On this occasion of the enthronement of the emperor, if there are subordinates who show disloyalty I am willing to dispatch troops to join in the expedition against them”. The new emperor bestowed on him many titles of honour. Such close relationships between the Tibetan and Han nationalities became further strengthened in 710 AD, when another Han princess, Chin Cheng, was married to the then Tibetan king Tridetsogtan during the reign of the Tang emperor Chung Tsung. Thousands of pieces of
silk and brocade, Han acrobats and musical instruments as also copies of classic works were sent to Tibet. All these helped in facilitating further access of the Tibetans to the handicrafts, techniques of production, music, scholarship and culture of the Hans. In 729 AD again, the Tibetan king Tridetsogtan wrote a memorial to the Tang emperor Hsuan Tsung in which he said: “I, a relative of the former emperor, also have the honour to be married to Princess Chin Cheng and we are thus members of one family, and the common people throughout the land live in happiness and prosperity”(italics ours). This is a document of historical importance as Tibet and the Tang empire were described as “members of one family”. Thus matrimonial bonds helped promote social, economic, technological and cultural contacts of a profound nature between the Tibetan and Han nationalities. Large numbers of Tibetan emissaries were frequently sent to the Tang court; they presented tributes and applied for trade. The Tibetans thus were not treated as “men from afar” as was the attitude towards the foreigners during the rule of the Manchu dynasty, but one of their own.
In the middle of the 9th century when the Tang rule was coming to a close, the Tibetan king Lang Darma of Tibet was killed by the upper strata of the lamas and chaos reigned supreme. During that long period of turmoil, a general, in response to a proposal from some quarters to install a new Tsanpu, declared: “How can a new Tsanpu be installed without the conferment of the title by the great Tang dynasty.?” The French scholar Grenard, in his book Le Tibet put forward the view that the Tibetan ruler Sron-Tsan Gampo had already recognized the Chinese emperor's sovereignty over Tibet.
During the period of Sung rule in China(960-1279 AD), Tibet became weak and divided and the Sungs, faced with internal problems, could hardly devote any attention to Tibet. Thus there was a weakening of the link between the two nationalities. Tibetan-Chinese relations took a definite turn with the rise of the Mongol dynasty(Yuan) from 1271 to 1368 AD, following the great conquests of Jenghis Khan and his grandson Kublai Khan, who ruled as emperor of China. Its consequence on Tibet-China relations was of the most far-reaching nature. Kublai Khan enforced the pacification of Tibet with even greater energy and ferocity than his predecessor Monga, who had already set up pacification bureau along the western border of Szechuan. Kublai set up a new pacification bureau in the frontier of Tibet in 1269 enabling him thus to dominate its two most important provinces of U and Tsang. Tibet was also divided into administrative districts as in China proper and a system of local government established.
The Tibetans who retained traces of their earlier martial spirit were not the easiest of people to rule and Kublai Khan felt that Buddhism was as good an instrument as any to induce docility among his spirited subjects. Since Buddhism had already taken root in Tibet, this move, from the point of view of the Chinese state, was a master stroke of policy. Thus the system of merging political and religious rule into one entity was introduced in 1275 during the reign of Kublai Khan. As a first step, Kublai invited Sakya Pandita, head of the great Sakya monastery to his court and thereby gained his support to carry forward his plans for the promotion of Buddhism in Tibet. Later, Sakya Pandita's nephew Phaspa was similarly invited and he made a great impression on Kublai Khan, who rewarded him for his adaptation of the Tibetan and Brahmic script to the existing Mongolian language. Moreover, as C.A.Bell writes in his Tibet Past and Present, Kublai Khan himself “became a convert to Lamaism and gave the sovereignty of Tibet to his visitor. Thus began in Tibet the rule of the priest-kings”. The Sakyapa Lamas were to rule Tibet since then as a theocracy.
It is pertinent to point out in this connection that events in India also played an important part in cementing the Tibetan-Chinese relationships. Towards the end of the 12th century, the last pro-Buddhist dynasty in India—the Palas of Bengal and the Senas after them—were swept away by the Muslim invasion. Fugitive monks fled to Tibet taking with them their precious Sanskrit manuscripts which were translated into Tibetan. Quite naturally, the Tibetans were alarmed at the growing expansion of Islam in India and its possible consequences for them should the power breach the Himalayan wall. Thus Tibet came to lean even more on the Mongolian court. The decline of Buddhism in India and the stopping of the Tibetan route to Bengal merely intensified this trend. The attempted invasions of Tibet by Ikhtiyar-ud-din of Bengal in the 13th century and Muhammad-bin-Tughlug in the 14th century proved that Tibetan fears were not baseless.(In the modern period, Rahul Sankrityayana was one of the very few who braved all hardships and natural obstacles of an apparently insurmountable nature to go to Tibet on foot and mules more than once).
Meanwhile, there were also some economic and administrative factors which helped in cementing the Sino-Tibetan relationships. First, Tibet sent tribute missions to China and likewise in appreciation of the tribute, got gifts which sent in value those which he received. Second, the bartering of Tibetan horses for Chinese tea was common and restrictions put on it often evoked tribal uprisings. Third, hereditary Chinese titles given to the Tibetans made a powerful impression on them. Fourth, single system of administrative divisions, military garrisons and currency(including paper currency) prevailed throughout China, including Tibet where Yuan banknotes were being found even in the 1980s.
Friendly contact between the Tibetan people and the other nationalities of China was developed further during the Ming dynasty(1368-1644). The Ming rulers favoured the Kargyu(White) Lamaist Sect, to whose high clerics it gave political appointments. It is in fact untrue to maintain, as some Western writers do, that ties with the rest of China were severed under the Ming or that Tibet was linked only with the minority nationalities but not with the majority Han nationality. In the Ming period, the appointments of Tibetan officials from China's capital continued. The statistics of the Board of Rites of the Ming dynasty show that in the 1450s, about three to four hundred Tibetans came to Peking to present tributes every year, and in the 1460s, the number reached four thousand. Economic exchanges also grew. The museums and archives of Peking and Lhasa abound in evidence of all this. In Tibet the Kargyu local rulers, who rose with the Ming, also fell with them. But the links did not break.
When the Ming dynasty was on the verge of collapse, the rule of the King of the Law of the Kagyud Sect in Tibet also tottered. Another lamaist group, the Gelug or Yellow Sectled by its pontiff, the Dalai Lama, became important. After the troops of the Manchu dynasty(1644-1911) pushed forward south of
the Great Wall, the Fifth Dalai Lama came to Peking from Tibet in 1652 to congratulate and asked emperor Shun Chih to confer titles of honour on him. In 1653, when the fifth Dalai returned to Tibet, the Emperor conferred upon him the title of Dalai Lama which was officially established from then on. The functions, powers and organization of the Tibetan local government(kasha) were defined by Emperor Chien Lung of the Manchu(Ching) dynasty—a system that continued till 1959. Relations between the Tibetan and other nationalities in China became closer during the Ching rule. In 1791, the Gurkhas from Nepal launched a largescale aggression against Tibet on the pretext of a minor incident on the Tibet- Nepal border. The troops of the local Tibetan government were defeated by the invaders and it was felt that all Tibet would fall victim to the Gurkha invasion. The Dalai and Panchen appealed to Peking for help.
With the support of the Tibetan people, the Ching troops succeeded in driving out the invaders from Tsang in May 1792. Thus were the southwestern frontiers of the China consolidated and the Tibetan people brought to understand from their personal experience the value of the great support given them by the central government. Thus the fraternal feelings between the Tibetan people and other nationalities, including the Han, were consolidated further. It thus goes without saying that the sending of troops had far-reaching significance in cementing the bond between the Tibetans and the Hans. When the first Chinese republic was founded in 1911 after the end of the Ching rule, its multinational colour was emphasized in the new flag of five strips, one of which stood for the Tibetan nationality. The period starting from the first Opium War(1840-42) and the signing of the Treaty of Nanking(1842)—the first of a series of unequal treaties the weak Chinese government was forced to sign—witnessed the penetration of foreign capitalist/imperialist powers in a very big way. The internal crisis of China intensified further in the years after 1911. Throughout China, imperialist-backed warlords, of whom Chiang Kai-shek was historically the last, ran riot. And it was then that the British imperialist rulers of India, seizing their advantage, became bolder in inciting separatism in Tibet. Thus from the historical point of view, Tibet was an integral part of China and there was nothing unnatural or unjustified in the entry of the PLA into Tibet after revolution was complete in China in 1949.
Section:2 British imperialist designs on Tibet
The British capitalists showed a keen interest in Tibet long before China was defeated in the First Opium War(1840-42) and was forced to sign in 1842 the Treaty of Nanking—the first of a series of humiliating treaties with the Western intruders. The British-Indian authorities sent two missions to Tibet in the last quarter of the 18th century, led respectively by George Bogle and Turner. The purpose was three-fold. First, they wanted Tibetan authorities to exercise their influence to curb the marauding activities of the Bhutanese hillmen in Coochbehar whose ruler was an ally of the East India Company. The British wanted to utilize the relationship woven round old cultural, religious, trading and political ties between Tibet and the Himalayan borderlands(Spiti, Lahul, ladakh, Sikkim, Bhutan and Assam Himalaya) for their own benefit. Second, as mercantilism was the order of the day, the East India Company was very much concerned at the outflow of the specie from Britain to China in order to pay for Chinese tea, silk, porcelain and brocade. They were keen to find a local source for the specie. Tibet was a likely source. They were interested in the gold of Tibet. According to S.Camman(Trade through the Himalayas), “The gold of Tibet has been proverbial since the days of
Herodotus, who spoke of the great ants in the desert north of India who threw up sandheaps full of gold. Gold is found in the sands of most of the rivers flowing out of Tibet, such as the Indus, the Yellow River and the Upper Yangtse. In fact, the latter, in its upper reaches, is even named 'the river of golden sands'(Chin-sha-kiang)”.
Third, Tibet occupied a very special place in the Chinese tributary system because of its unique position as the centre of Lamaistic Buddhism. The Ching rulers sought to strengthen their position in Mongolia—where Lamalism held sway—with the help of the Tibetan high authorities such as the Tashi or Panchen Lama. It was thus felt by the E.I.Company that a good word put in by him to the Chinese would make conditions of trade and commerce at Canton easier for the British. About the overall nature of the Chinese-Tibetan relationship, Bogle wrote: “The Emperor of China is acknowledged as the sovereign of the country; the appointment to the first offices in the State is made by his order, and in all measures of consequence, reference is first had to the Court of Peking, but the internal government of the country is committed to natives”. By the mid-19th century, however, circumstances changed substantially to the advantage of the aggressive designs of the British capitalists. India had, by then been brought under the firm control of British rulers. Moreover, Chinahad been defeated in the Opium Wars and that exposed her weakness to the foreigners. To add to these, the competition between Britain and Russia for supremacy in Asia became more acute than ever before. Then the end of the Napoleonic wars boosted the strength of Britain to a large extent. In the light of all these developments, the Himalayan regions fell prey to British aggression—the Kumaon, Garwal, Lahul, Spiti, Ladakh, Bhutan and Sikkim. In view of the continuing pattern, an assault on Tibet became inevitable. On 25 April, 1873, a deputation from the Royal Society of Arts put pressure on the Duke of Argyll, Secretary of State for India, to promote a more active policy towards Tibet both on commercial and strategic grounds. However, because of the intense Anglo-Russian rivalry that had been going on during that time, Britain looked upon China as a possible bulwark against Russian attack. Thus at the Anglo-Chinese “Convention relative to Burma and Tibet”(24 July, 1886), the British agreed to deal with Tibet through China only. The Sikkim Convention of 1890 was thus negotiated directly between British and Chinese representatives.
All this, however, underwent a transformation with China's defeat in the Sino-Japanese War of 1894-95 and the Treaty of Shimonoseki in 1895. Thus to the British policy-makers, the possibility of China being treated as a bulwark against Russian expansion became non-starter. The pressure against Tibet began in earnest to open a second trademart in Tibet. Deep commercial interests of the British were involved. The coming of Lord Curzon as Viceroy of India merely exacerbated the situation. China's relationship with Tibet was no longer treated as an internal affair of China, but described as a piece of “constitutional fiction”. Bazaar gossip about Russian intrigues in Lhasa, emotive words like 'prestige' were brought into play in a calculated manner, to heighten tension, and then to launch the aggressive assault. The 'crime' of the Tibetan authorities, it seemed, was their refusal to open relations with the British-Indian government.
Francis Younghusband embarked on his notorious expedition and crossed into Tibet. The Chinese and he Tibetans could offer no more than passive resistance, but their offers to negotiate were haughtily brushed aside, on one plea or the other, until finally their dash to Lhasa was made and a Convention imposed by the victors upon the vanquished. The slaughter of the helpless Tibetans—a needless act of cruelty and barbarism—made a mockery of its supposedly peaceful intentions. Taraknath Das in his book, British Expansion in Tibet, has related various acts of vandalism, foremost of which was the looting of monasteries. The Lhasa Convention(1904)- imposed upon the Tibetans, contained a heavy indemnity clause(article 6), while article 9, had it been carried out, would have reduced Tibet to the status of a British protectorate. The designs of British imperialism were clearly expressed in the words of Captain V.F.O'Connor, who served for a time with the British mission in Peking before returning to the Imperial Civil Service in India: “Tibet includes the sources of the Yangtse-kiang, the Mekong and the Jalween, and borders on the great Szechuan province—the most thickly populated and one of the richest in China. Our influence exerted from so commanding a position would certainly facilitate future negotiations regarding such questions as the trade of the Yangtse Valley and Yunnan, the construction of railways from Burmah and elsewhere through these and adjacent provinces, and the treatment of the Europeans generally over the whole of Southern China”.
However, as a result of the demands of international diplomacy, involving the need toplacate Russia in Asia in order to meet the growing threat of Germany in Europe, Britain modified for a time her expansionist policy towards Tibet. To get China's signature to the Lhasa Convention, the indemnity was drastically reduced and the offensive article 9 was made specifically inapplicable to China. The Anglo-Chinese Adhesion Convention was signed in Peking in 1906 and reaffirmed China's suzerain rights in Tibet. Later Article II of the Anglo-Russian Convention(31 August 1907) pointed out that: “Conforming with the admitted principle of the suzerainty of China over Tibet, Great Britain and Russia engage not to enter into negotiations with Tibet except through the intermediary of the Chinese government”. We are reproducing these statements only to show that the changes in the Western imperialist attitude towards the relationship between Tibet and China from time to time were determined by their own aggressive designs. We will see that they would change their own stand again and again in future. The Chinese government took measures to make this suzerainty effective as they realized it quite well that unless this were done, the foreign devils would again try to isolate Tibet from China. As a result of these measures the Dalai Lama, who had designs of his own, fled the country and sought refug in Darjeeling. Meanwhile, with the fall of the Manchus in China in 1911, an
expansionist policy was instituted once again. Previous treaties with China were jettisoned and the notorious Simla Conference of 1914 convened after much pressure on the Chinese government. The Chinese delegate merely initialled its provisions and his action was promptly repudiated by his government. Thus, in law the convention was null and void. It also recognized the traditional status of Tibet. Article II stipulated that “the Governments of Great Britain and China recognized that Tibet is under the suzeraintyChina…”.
Section: 3 Tibet in China-India-US Relations
With the end of British colonial rule over India, the Chinese expected an easing of tension in the Himalayas. However, the Chinese soon learnt to their dismay that the Government of India continued with the policies of its British imperialist predecessors, not only in Tibet, but also in Bhutan and Sikkim. Early in 1947, when India was still a Colony, an Asian Conference was convened in New Delhi to which both Chinese and Tibetan delegations were invited. A huge map of Asia displayed in the conference hall put Tibet outside the boundaries of China. Only after an immediate protest by George Yeh of the Chinese Foreign Office was a correction made somewhat reluctantly. What motivated the organizers to make such a cartographic aggression? The answer seems to lie in the expansionist designs of the would-be Indian ruling classes and their political representatives.
On 25 April1947, when India was still a British colony, the external affairs department of the government of India, of which Nehru was in charge as a member of the viceroy's 'interim government', informed the British secretary of state for India that “Government of India now wish to be represented in Tibet…and should be grateful to know whether His Majesty's Government desire to retain separate Mission there in future. If they donot, it would seem feasible to arrange transition from 'British Mission' to 'Indian Mission' without publicity and without drawing too much attention to change, to avoid i f p o s s i b l e a n y c o n s t i t u t i o n a l i s s u e b e i n g r a i s e d b y China”(N.Mansergh,editor-in-chief, Constitutional Relations between ritain and India: The Transfer of Power 1942-7(Documents released by the British Government), Vols.I-XII, London, 1971-1983, Vol.X,p.430). At that time, civil war had been raging in China, and Nehru and his associates, who claimed to be the champions of democracy, sought to resort to surreptitious methods to grab the land of other people to fulfil their expansionist designs. In fact, when World War II was drawing to a close, the Indian ruling classes cherished wild dreams to become a zonal power in Asia—from the east coast
of Africa to Pacific—under the umbrella of the Anglo-American powers. Nehru, the top political representative of the Indian ruling classes and the future prime minister of India nourished ambitions to become the fourth big power in the world, besides USA, USSR and China, her empire spreading from the Middle East to near Australia, including Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bhutan and Sikkim. After the end of direct British rule in India, the Indian rulers devoted their attention to India's northern neighbours: the Himalayan kingdoms of Kashmir, Nepal, Bhutan, Sikkim and Tibet. Even before the end of direct colonial rule, the Nehrus wanted to annex Kashmir at a time when Jammu and Kashmir(J&K) was a
native state under British paramountcy. Although a plebiscite or referendum was to be held before a final decision on the “ceding of Kashmir to the Indian Union” was to be taken, the Indian ruling classes did not allow the people of J and K to decide their own fate through a fair plebiscite. Thus J and K was torn into two parts—about one third under the occupation of Pakistan and the rest under the virtually military occupation of India—and ravaged by hostile forces.
It is pertinent to refer to the observation made by Neville Maxwell in his India's China War: “In the case of Sikkim, India in 1949 seized the opportunity of a local uprising against the ruler to send in troops and bring the state into closer dependence as a protectorate than it had formally been under the British(and in 1974 Nehru's worthy daughter and then India's prime minister Indira Gandhi marched Indian into Sikkim and annexed it into India); in the same year(1949) India signed a treaty with Bhutan, in whichshe took over Britain's right to guide Bhutan in foreign affairs. New Delhi's influence in Nepal continued to be paramount, and was increased in 1950 when the Indian Government helped the King of Nepal to break the century-old rule of Rana clan. The new Government thus took over and consolidated the 'chain of protectorates', as Curzon had described the
Needless to mention, India and the US were also interested in Tibet, which was an integral part of China. As we know, China in the last years of the 1940s had been passing through an intense civil war and the victorious PLA under the leadership of Mao Tse- tung had been giving telling blows to the Japaneseaggressors and Chiang Kai-shek's troops. The US imperialists had been supporting Chiang's rotten regime against the Communists. They trained and transported 4,80,000 of Chiang's troops from the south to Manchuria and north China. Still, the US could neither 'save' China nor its lackey Chiang who fled the Chinese mainland to Taiwan in 1949. The US was also engaged inespionage and sabotage in China's far-flung provinces of Sinkiang and Tibet and conspired against the Communist revolutionary movement. When the Sinkiang troops rose against the Kuomintang, the US vice-consul tried to escape to India through Tibet and was shot by the Tibetan guards. The US consul fled with his men to India and was received in Sikkim by an official of the US embassy in Delhi. L.Natarajan in his American Shadow over India noted: “These reports indicate that the unusual US activities in Sinkiang
could not have been possible without the acquiescence of the Indian Government”(p.181).
Meanwhile, taking advantage of the civil war, the Tibetan government of serf-owners established contacts with the US government as early as 1946(The readers will find a discussion on Tibetan serfdom in a separate section in this paper). The pretension of the government of the Tibetan serfowners to independence was encouraged by the US imperialists. An American, Lowell Thomas, visited Tibet in 1949 and handed over a letter from president Truman to Dalai Lama. Returning from Tibet, he declared in Calcutta on 10 October 1949 that “the Tibetan authorities wanted outside help to hold back the progress of Communism and that India would have a majo role to play in lending such help. He suggested that US might find some way to supply modern arms and give advice on guerrilla warfare, and also disclosed that he in fact carried scrolls and oral messages from the Tibetan rulers to president Truman and Dean Acheson, the secretary of state(Natarajan,pp.186-87).
What were the Nehrus doing by then? On 27 July 1949, the Reuters reported that Nehru was planning to visit Lhasa in near future. On 29 July, the London Times reported from Delhi: “Neutral observers are cautiously disposed to interpret recent signs of closer liaison between the Government of India and the Dalai Lama's Government in Tibet as a gratifying indication that an important new bulwark against spread of Communism westward is being created”(Quoted in Natarajan,pp.187-88). It was reported that H.S. Dayal, India's political officer in Sikkim, left on a special mission to Lhasa in August 1949. An American news agency reported on 10 January 1950 that “accord has been reached between India, the United Kingdom and the United States on measures aimed at preserving Tibetan autonomy”. That such an accord, according to Natarajan, had been reached was denied by a spokesman of the external affairs ministry in New Delhi days later but it was not denied that consultations took place. The Lhasa government also sent a “goodwill mission” to visit India, the USA and other countries, but not to the China. Natarajan holds that “the Lhasa aristocracy was actively canvassing for foreign help to fight China. The Anglo-American powers were anxious to keep Tibet separated from China, and Indian policy was aiding their effort”(p.188). Thus it is evident that it was the US imperialists who had been quite blatantly interfering in the internal affairs of China and hatched conspiracy to cut off Tibet from China. In that nefarious game, Nehru-led Indian government was a willing accomplice. In fact, the developments in Tibet had much to do with the India-China War of 1962. More on the USIndia role later.
Section 4: Mao Tse-tung and Chou En-lai on the question of
On 1 October 1949, Mao Tse-tung, on behalf of the people of China and the Communist Party, proclaimed the victory of the New Democratic Revolution and the establishment of the People's Republic of China. On that day, he declared: “The Chinese people have stood up…nobody will insult us again…” What was the attitude of the Chairman of the CPC and the Premier of the People's Republic of China towards the small nationalities of China? Did they favour the policy of subjugating small nationalities by the imposition of the control of the dominant Han nationality? Did they incite Han chauvinism against the rest, as some Western scholars and Indian writers both yesterday and tomorrow sought and are seeking to argue? We will see that both in theory and practice, they upheld the equal rights of nationalities and opposed Han chauvinism. Mao Tse-tung was quite conscious of the presence of Han chauvinism within the Chinese society and sought to combat it throughout his life. He knew that these were reactionary ideas of the landlord class and the bourgeoisie fed by the Kuomintang and that these generated a policy of discrimination towards the small nationalities. Similarly, Chou En-lai, the Chinese Premier, in many of his statements, criticized such an attitude and made the government stand clear and also implemented that policy to the best of his ability. Let us refer to some relevant statements which would make the stand of both the CPC and the PRC clear.
In a Party policy statement entitled On Coalition Government made to the Seventh National Congress of the CPC on 24 April 1945, Mao Tse-tung categorically explained Party policy regarding minority nationalities. He wrote: “The anti-popular clique of the Kuomintang denies that many nationalities exist in China, and labels all excepting the Han nationality as “tribes”. It has taken over the Governments of the Qing(i.e, Manchu) Dynasty and the Northern warlords in relation to the minority nationalities, oppressing and exploiting them in every possible way. Clear cases in point are the massacre of the Mongolians of the Ikhchao League in 1943, the armed suppression of the minority nationalities in Xinjiang since 1944 and the massacres of the Hui people in Kansu province in recent years. These are manifestations of a wrong Han-chauvinistic ideology and policy”. Mao went on to say: “In 1924, Dr. Sun Yat-sen wrote in the 'Manifesto of the First National Congress of the Kuomintang that 'the Kuomintang's Principles of Nationalism has a two-fold meaning, first, the liberation of the Chinese nation, and second, the equality of all nationalities in China', and that 'the Kuomintang solemnly declares that it recognizes the right to selfdetermination of all the nationalities in China and a free and United republic of China(a free union of all nationalities) will be established when the anti-imperialist and anti-warlord revolution is victorious”.
Then Mao wrote: “The Communist Party of China is in full agreement with Dr. Sun's policy on nationalities as stated here. Communists must actively help the people of all the minority nationalities to fight for it, and help them,…to fight for their political, economic and cultural emancipation and development… Their spoken and written languages, their manners and customs and their religious beliefs must be respected”. Then Mao referred to the correct attitude of the Shansi-Kansu-Ninghsia
border regions and the liberated areas in northern China towards the Mongolian and Hui nationalities (SW, Vol.III, 1965,pp.205-68). The policy towards Tibet was not different from this one.
After four years, in Article 50 of the Policy towards Nationalities Chapter VI in the Common Programme of the Chinese People's Political Representative Conference(1949) which, until 1954, served as the provisional constitution of the PRC, it is stated: “All nationalities within the boundaries of the People's Republic of China are equal. Unity and mutual help shall be effected among them to oppose imperialism and the public enemies within these nationalities, so that the People's Republic of China will become a big fraternal and cooperative family of all nationalities. Greater Han nationalism and chauvinism shall be opposed. Acts of discrimination, oppression and splitting the unity of the various nationalities shall be prohibited…”(SW, Vol.III,pp.205-68).
Then in an inner-Party directive entitled Criticize Han Chauvinism dt. 16 March 1953, Mao drew the attention of the party members to guard and fight against such mentality. He observed: “In some places the relations between nationalities are far from normal. For Communists, this is an intolerable
situation. We must go to the root and criticize Han chauvinistic ideas which exist to a serious degree among many Party members and cadres, namely, the reactionary ideas characteristic of the Kuomintang, which are manifested in the relations between nationalities. Mistakes in this respect must be corrected at once… “Judging from the mass of information on hand, the Central Committee holds
that wherever there are minority nationalities the general rule is that there are problems calling for solution, and in some cases very serious ones…What has come to light in various places in the last two or three years shows that Han chauvinism exists almost everywhere. It will be very dangerous if we fail now to give timely education and resolutely overcome Han chauvinism in the Party and among the people…In other words, bourgeois ideas dominate the minds of those comrades and people who have no Marxist education and have not grasped the nationality policy of the Central Committee. Therefore, education must be assiduously carried out so that this problem can be solved step by step. Moreover, the newspapers should publish more articles based on specific facts to criticize Han chauvinism openly and educate the Party members and the people”.
It is quite natural that after the revolution of 1949, the CPC and the PRC would devote their attention to the national and socialist unification of the motherland. The Preamble to the First Constitution of the People's Republic of China(1954) reads as follows: “…All nationalities of our country are united as one great family of free and equal nationalities. This unity of China's nationalities will continue to gain in strength, founded as it is on ever-growing friendship and mutual aid among themselves and on the struggle against imperialism, against public enemies of the people within these nationalities and against both dominant-nation chauvinism and local nationalism. In the course of economic and cultural development, the state will concern itself with the needs of the different nationalities, and, in the matter of socialist transformation, pay full attention to the special characteristics in the development of each…” Here attention has been drawn both to Han chauvinism and the chauvinism of small nationalities. In his essay entitled On the Ten Major Relationships(25 April 1956), Mao pointed out: “…We put the emphasis on opposing Han chauvinism. Local-nationality chauvinism must be opposed too, but generally that is not where our emphasis lies…”(SW, Vol.V,pp.284-306). In Article 3, General Principles, Chapter 1 of the First Constitution, it is written that “the People's Republic of China is a single multi-national state. All the nationalities are equal. Discrimination against, or oppression of any nationality and acts which undermine the unity of the nationalities are prohibited. All the nationalities have freedom to use and foster the growth of their spoken and written languages and to preserve or reform their own customs or ways. “Regional autonomy applies in areas where people of national minorities live in compact communities. National autonomous areas are inalienable parts of the People's Republic of China…”
The idea of combatting both Han chauvinism and local-nationality chauvinism was expressed by Mao also in his On the Correct Handling of Contradictions among the People(27 February 1957). Closely related to it is the question: why China, instead of adopting the policy of autonomous republics like the USSR, went for the creation of autonomous regions. Autonomous republics in the USSR, why autonomous regions, and not autonomous republics in China?: Chou En-lai answers Chou En-lai also talks about chauvinism of two types—Han chauvinism and minority(local) chauvinism. Han chauvinism can develop into a tendency towards discrimination and minority chauvinism can develop into a tendency towards separatism. This socialist China, in the words of Chou En-lai “is not to be monopolized by any one nationality. It belongs to all the more than 50 nationalities in our country, to the entire people of the People's Republic of China”(Questions relating to our Policies towards China's Nationalities, 4 August 1957, SW, Vol.II, Beijing 1989,pp.253-54). Chou En-lai in that essay dealt with the question of regional autonomy. Why did the PRC opted for the policy of autonomous regions, rather than that of autonomous republics? This question is relevant for the purpose of our present discussion. In China, self-government takes the form of autonomous regions, prefectures, counties or townships, whereas in the USSR, there were autonomous republics and small administrative units, such as oblasts and so on. The forms of autonomy in the two countries differ not only in name, but also in substance. The right to self-government was enjoyed by the nationalities in both the cases. In fact, the differences lie in the way administrative lines were drawn in the two countries and in the particular rights and powers delegated to the autonomous areas. Chou En-lai had attributed the difference partly to difference in historical backgrounds of the two countries and partly to differences between the situation in China in 1949 and that of Russia during the days of the October Revolution. During the 19th century, Russia had already developed, despite the presence of
strong feudal features, into a capitalist country. Moreover, it had also become an imperialist power which had a number of colonies. The rule of tsarist Russia was essentially colonialist with respect to nationalities. Added to these was the fact that nationalities in Russia were geographically separated, each living in its own area.
China, on the other hand, was historically placed differently. In China, there was mutual interdependence among the nationalities, especially in the interior. For long periods, the Han nationality dominated the heartland of China and extended its rule to areas inhabited by other nationalities. However, there were also times when minority nationalities moved into the interior and even established their control over the heartland. That naturally resulted in multi-national settlements, and that is why during the 1949 revolution, there were, unlike the Soviet Union, few, if any, areas in China inhabited by a single nationality. As for example, the population of Tibet is fairly homogenous; but the Tibetan people also live in other areas in mixed communities with other nationalities. As a matter of fact, the historical development in China created conditions favourable for many nationalities to intermingle and mix together. The Han nationality could have so large a population because it had assimilated other ethnic groups.
Another example of mutual assimilation is provided by the Manchu people, a nationality which emerged from the Changbai Mountains in northeast China. By degrees, and particularly during the peak period of the Manchu or Ching dynasty, their population rose to between four and five millions. After the fall of the Manchus in 1911, they continued to exist, but they adopted the Han culture including both the spoken and the written languages. Intermarriages became more frequent after 1911, whereby ethnic differences no longer appeared to be insuperable barrier. After 1949, the Manchus were formally recognized as a nationality. When census forms were filled in, many Manchus
who had married Hans registered themselves and their children as Hans rather than as Manchus, although they had been given the right to choose between the two nationalities. This, according to Chou En-lai, was an assimilation that was not the result of any violent suppression of one nationality by another, but the result of voluntary intermingling among two nationalities for the sake of achieving common prosperity. While the Manchus adopted the Han language, some of the Manchu vocabulary had also been assimilated into the Han language.
Another case is that of the Hui nationality. After the Hui people came to China from Arabia and Asia Minor about 1000 years ago, they spread so widely throughout the country that there is not a single province and probably not a single county, where Hui people cannot be found. Their number had grown because they had absorbed other ethnic groups. This was another case of voluntary assimilation. Chou also dealt with the cases of the Mongols, Zhuang, Yao and other nationalities. Thus Chou En-lai argues: “Owing to historical circumstances, many of our nationalities live in mixed communities, with mutual assimilation and mutual influence. Since China as so many nationalities that are widely distributed and mostly living in mixed communities, we cannot consider adopting the Soviet Union's system of autonomous republics. Such a system presupposes that the overwhelming majority of each of the country's nationalities is concentrated in a certain region and capable of functioning as a separate economic unit”(p.262)
The specific situation between the Soviet Union and China during the revolutionary period was also different. During the October Revolution, the Russian working class rose and seized political power, first in the cities, then in the countryside, including regions inhabited by minority nationalities. Since Russia was an imperialist country, all kinds of colonialist relations had to be smashed. So the task before Lenin and others was to integrate the struggle of the nationalities against tsarist oppression with the struggle of the working class and the peasantry against the capitalists and the landlords. That
is why Lenin stressed the rights of nationalities for self-determination and recognized their right to separation. They could either join the USSR or themselves set up their own independent republics. Chou writes: “…at that time, if the first socialist state was to get a firm foothold politically, it had to stress the right of nationalities to self-determination, leaving them the option of separation. That was the only way to break with all the old political relationships characteristic of imperialism and to make the new socialist state…secure. The specific circumstances demanded that the Russian proletariat take this approach”(.p265). In China, however, history moved in a different direction. China, unlike tsarist Russia, was not an imperialist country. It was a feudal country, which became semi-feudal and semi-colonial after the signing of the treaty of Nanking in 1842 and parts into a colony after the Japanese invaded China in 1931. In old China, although the northern warlords and later the Kuomintang, imposed a reactionary, oppressive rule on the toiling people and on all nationalities, the entire Chinese nation had been suffering under imperialist aggression and control. Under these circumstances, the Chinese people won their liberation. Unlike the Soviet Union, the Chinese Communist revolutionaries seized political power not by launching uprisings first in industrially developed major cities, but by establishing liberated areas so as to be able to wage a protracted struggle. During those years of intense struggle, various nationalities of China forged close ties with one another. In fact, some of the bases were set up in Inner Mongolia; in Xinjiang people launched revolutionary movements against the Kuomintang; in southwest China, many people of the minority nationalities carried on guerrilla warfare under the leadership of the CPC; in the interior, people belonging to many nationalities joined the People's Liberation Army; during the Long March, when the Red Army passed through the southwest regions inhabited by minority peoples, it left seeds of revolution; it is also known that a number of minority also joined the Red Army. Thus, externally, the Chinese nation was oppressed by different imperialist powers. Internally, through sharing hardships in the revolutionary and anti- Japanese national liberation wars and finally winning liberation, all the
nationalities developed intimate relationships of comrades-in-arms. According to Chou, these external and internal relations made it unnecessary for the Chinese people to adopt the policy of granting self-determination with the option of separation, as the USSR had done during the October Revolution. Thus the particular historical development in China determined the policy of regional autonomy through cooperation between all nationalities. The Chinese did not advocate right of self-determination as that might, according to Chou En-lai, lead to interference by imperialist powers. That there was basis in such statements is testified by the events during the revolutionary war, when the Chinese warlords were backed and instigated by one imperialist power or another.
The era of nefarious Narendra Modi had continued to reign even after the genocide in Gujarat. But after the Nandigram genocide, the picture is opposite in West Bengal, as we follow the people’s verdict in recent Panchayat election . The flight named 'Industrialization' crashed down in this State. The pseudo lefts are now found saying to give importance to the public opinion, instead of boasting for their electoral majority and intimidating the dissidents to make their 'life a hell'. Like the Nandigram incident, protests stormed down
throughout the country for the Gujarat genocide, too. Artistes, intellectuals, human rights activists came down to streets to raise voice against the new st violent face of fascism in this 21 century. But somehow these protests failed to build up resistance against the fascist repression in grassroots level, where as the people of Nandigram succeeded to defy the incessant steamroller of Investment Capital. Not only the SEZ projects were cancelled in the post Nandigram period, the intrepid struggle had also changed the old thoughts, inspired the toiling and struggling people to opt more radical resistance, all over India. The strategy of the Government depends upon the characteristics of the resistance of the mass and rulers want to build up its social legitimacy based on its ideology. So, it has to take the shelter of fake promises—sometimes in the name of religion, sometimes in the name of employment. Much before the building of concentration camps, State power used to seclude the Jewish from the society in Germany. And Hitler used the chemistry of 'Aryan' blood to socially legitimise this law. By seeing the successful implementation of this chemistry, Bertrand Russell said that when fascism knocks the door of th democracy, it can't be combated with only democratic means. After 14 March 2007, all mass movements, whether be the Rizwanur case or the ration scam, were influenced by the Nandigram movement. Movements against land acquisition gained remarkable pace everywhere. The voice of dissent heard loud. To cope up with the burgeoning resistance, Globalisation is changing her demonical face, negotiating for compensations, asking for consent.Globalisation only wants to secure industrialization and profit. And if necessary, they will unmask their human face, opt for fascism, the most dependable weapon of investment capital both politically and culturally. In this era of new colonialism, that is Globalisation we can clearly distinct ‘two’ India –one is of hunger, malnutrition and unemployment of millions, where per capita income of 77% people is less than Rs.20 and in a stark contrast, the ‘Shining India’, bragging on Shopping Malls, Flyovers, enticing on national and multinational companies for investment, whose whole economy is depending on the share market and profit centric investment capital. If the fate of the Government lies in the hand of fascism or direct imperialism, then the question of organising broad-based anti-imperialist struggle will be the most important task in near future. Our country is the land of hundreds of 'East India Companies' today. And to save the land, water, forest, minerals and all natural and human resources, the resistance like the Nandigram may be the only mission and vision to challenge this imperialism aggression in future.
“Freedom in capitalist society always remains about the same as it was
in ancient Greek republics: Freedom for slave owners.”
The election results in Nepal have proved once again the overwhelming anger of the masses against the outdated feudal monarchic rule in Nepal, against the Indian expansionist's bullying and domination of Nepal,against US domination and repression, and are a reflection of the growing aspirations of the Nepali masses for democracy, land, livelihood and genuine freedom from imperialist and feudal exploitation. It is these aspirations of the overwhelming majority of the masses that had completely rounded the parties that had either supported the King and/or the Indian ruling classes or hesitated to come out strongly against feudal, imperialist oppression and Indian intervention in Nepal. Hence, when an alternative like the CPN(M) came to the fore, with its open commitment to abolish the feudal monarchy once for all, abrogate all unequal treaties signed with India by the former ruling classes of Nepal, and ensure democracy and equality for the oppressed sections of society such as Dalits, adivasis, national minorities and women, the masses enthusiastically veered towards Maoists. We hail the Nepali masses for routing the feudal, pro-imperialist, pro-Indian comprador parties and voting for a genuine change in the rotten feudal system in Nepal. It sends the fraternal revolutionary greetings for their victory in the electoral struggle against the reactionary forces. The election results have not only sounded the death-knell for the 239-year-old absolutist monarchy but also to the continuous domination, interference, and bullying by the Indian reactionary expansionist ruling classes. Moreover, they have also sealed the fate of all the comprador feudal electoral Parties which had proved themselves to be the most corrupt, country-selling, anti-people, loyal stooges of imperialists, feudal forces and Indian expansionists. In the eyes of the broad masses, these parties are narrow self-seeking robber gangsters who are out to fatten themselves at the expense of the vast masses of poor and the destitute. The results are a telling indictment against forces which had proved themselves to be a party to the oppression, suppression and exploitation of women, dalits, national minorities and adivasis.
The real test, however, begins now after the CPN(M) taking over the reins of power. It is a fundamental tenet of Marxism that no radical restructuring of the system is possible without the militant mobilization of the vast masses. It is impossible to make genuine changes in the system through measures initiated “from above”, i.e through state decrees and laws. Whichever Party may be in power, not excluding the most radical Maoists, one cal only make laws at best, but to implement these it is imperative to mobilize the masses and advance class struggle against exploiters and oppressors and for radical changes for the liberation of the vast majority of poor. No ruling class will give up power without putting up a bitter struggle and carrying out sabotage and subterfuge against the oppressed class. Hence the real, bitter and
most cruel struggle for power will now unfold soon after the elections. In fact, drafting Nepal's Constitution in favor of the poor and oppressed masses is itself a very arduous and bitter struggle. The reactionaries will oppose every change tooth and nail. Lacking a majority in the Constituent Assembly, the Maoists will be powerless to affect radical changes in the Constitution. Either they have to compromise and adjust with a section of the reactionary forces thereby sacrificing the class interests of the oppressed in whose interests they ha come to power, or, they have to mobilize the people and intensify the struggle through all means, including armed insurrection, in order to implement genuine democracy and establish people's power. There is no other alternative.
We warn the CPN(M) to beware of the conspiracies of he imperialists led by the US imperialists, the Indian reactionary ruling classes, and the feudal comprador forces of Nepal to engineer coups, political assassinations, creation of artificial scarcity through economic blockades and sabotage, and subversion of democratic process, and calls upon it to be fully prepared to confront these reactionaries by armed means. The one and only guarantee for carrying through the radical revolutionary programme is to raise the political class consciousness of the vast masses, mobilize them into class struggle, arm and train them to fight the exploiters and all reactionary forces and defend the gains they had derives through long period of class and mass struggle. Nothing could be more dangerous at the present juncture than to become dizzy with success and underestimate the prospects of a reactionary backlash. One must keep in mind that the gains that can be achieved through a government that has come to power by means of elections are very much limited. Survival of such a regime depends on taking a conciliatory stand on several crucial matters. Hence to overestimate the prospects of radical restructuring of the society or economy by a Maoist government would be illusory and will dilute the possibility as well as the ability of the Party to continue the class struggle.
We see immense possibilities in present-day Nepal to carry forward the revolutionary programme by firmly relying on the masses and carrying out class struggle while utilizing the state to further this process. This is possible if the main leadership of the Maoist party does not become part of the government but concentrates on the principal task of continuing the class struggle by mobilizing the masses. Otherwise there is every danger of unprincipled compromises with the reactionary parties and imperialists, degeneration of the party leadership and cadres, and emergence of strong bureaucratic class. In such a scenario, all the gains made would go down the drain and the reactionary parties would once again come to power by crashing in on the frustration of the masses.
An acute food crisis, the severity of which has hitherto been unseen in these prosperously prevailing times of triumphant capitalism, has seized the world.Billions, mostly those wretched of the earth living in the poorest enclaves of the global economy, are having to bear the brunt. As food prices skyrocket putting bare survival at stake, hungry multitudes across the accursed continents of Asia, Africa and Latin America are riotously taking to the streets. The flare-ups, it is feared, are likely to turn into bigger blowups, if something drastic is not done at once to stem the tide. An unprecedented upheaval may sweep through the world prising open the very entrails of the existing exploitative and profit-raking world-system. Great hunger, if history is to be believed, always fuels great anger. It happened in France in the hungry autumn of 1789 and it happened in Russia in the hungry winter of 1917. Sure enough, the current worldwide food crisis is not, as we are usually made to believe, the upshot of any major shortage in supply or a dreadful decline in agricultural output. In fact, if official statistics is to be trusted, farmers the world over have been producing more food in their farmlands than ever before. According to a World Bank study in April 2008, global cereal production has gone up to an all-time record of 2,164mt (wheat 679mt, rice 423mt, both all-time records), an increase of more than three percent over the previous year, and is expected to rise by 2.6 percent in the current year. A report of the Agricultural Department of the USA says that global wheat production had increased from 564mt (21.54bn bushels) in 1997 to 627mt (22.29bn bushels) in 2007. And yet, grain supplies reached the lowest since 1985 and the world food inventory touched rock bottom (143mt) in 25 years, resulting in the eruption of food riots in as many as 33 countries in just the first quarter of this year.
Hunger amidst plenty
Such paradox may baffle but hunger amidst plenty had been the defining feature of all the famines in the past, particularly in the colonial times and the areas under colonial domination. People went hungry not because of inadequate yield or supply of food but the inability of the poorest of the poor to
gain access to or avail of it. Food there was aplenty but remained out of reach for those who didn't have the means to purchase it at the soaring, sky-kissing price at which it was sold. The causes of famines were structural, rooted as they were in the unequal and the unfair nature of the social arrangements. No other place illustrates better this fundamental fact than Kalahandi, the most vivid symbol of famine in India. Paddy production in this wildly beautiful land across the Indravati river basin in west Orissa has always been higher than the national average for districts and yet it has forever remained the heart of darkness. Because ruthless rice merchants-cum-mahajans have wrecked the self-sustaining agricultural practice of the indigenous Kondhs and replaced it with commercial farming (including all the Green Revolution ingredients such as tractors and power-tillers, HYV seeds and chemical fertilisers), thereby alienating the local communities from their land and driving them into desperate indebtedness from which there was never any escape.
Agriculture on the roulette wheel
In fact, it is this kind of commercial farming and the consequent demise of traditional agriculture that is overtly responsible for the chronic food insecurity most parts of the underdeveloped world perpetually suffer from. The advent of unbridled capitalism in agriculture dramatically transformed the rural scenarios in these areas, altering not only farming methods and techniques, but also changing forever the way land and production relations were constituted. Both land and the produce of the land became commodities, something that could be bought and sold in the marketplace; peasants who lost their lands to farming ventures, sold their labour to work the lands that once belonged to them and were subjected to the vagaries of a market mechanism about which they knew next to nothing; hundreds of thousands, displaced from their land, would migrate to other areas in search of alternative
livelihoods, filling up the already choking slums in the cities and strengthening the army of the unemployed; in the meanwhile, omnipresent markets controlled by mafia-like cartels came to dominate every aspect of life in the countryside. More often than not, in keeping with the logic of capitalism, markets would fluctuate, rising to great heights if the going was good and collapsing if things took a different turn. A glut here and a slump there would bring forth a crisis; prices of food products would then be raised or lowered, as the requirement might be, to cope with the situation. Speculative trading would, thus, gain ground, becoming the norm over time. Agriculture would be placed on the roulette wheel and food-stocks stashed away in cold storages till the wheel turned distinctly in favour. The demands of agribusiness would lend itself to all-out gambling and unscrupulous traders would rule the roost.
Prices of speculative trading
The severe food crisis that has at present hit the world can be traced to a similar casino culture that permeates agriculture in these globalising times. Agribusiness is big business and today's casino kings are the giant multinationals like Cargill, Monsanto, Mosaic, Archer Daniels Midlands and so on who exercise iron control in both supply and demand in agricultural trading and stocks through opaque pricing and other financial instruments. Many of these corporations – having dubious track records – have started investing in a big way in futures trading in agro-products and food commodities. They are not buying or selling but betting on price movements in the stock exchanges. The funds have grown exponentially in the aftermath of the collapse of the mortgage market – termed the 'sub-prime crisis' – in the USA since end- 2007. Desperate for swift returns, investors are withdrawing trillions of dollars from the equity and mortgage bonds to invest in futures trading on food products. According to a Citibank report, funds invested in commodity futures in wheat alone increased from $5 billion in 2000 to $175bn in 2007 and investment in
commodity indices increased by $40bn to $180bn in the first quarter of 2007. Global speculation on foodstuff can be seen best in the Chicago Stock Exchange (CHX) where a number of hedge funds, investment banks and pension funds are investing enormous amounts in agro-inputs. In the first quarter of 2008, the investment on agriculture at CHX increased by more than 25 percent while according to the Chicago firm, Coal Partners, the participation of hedge funds in raw materials increased threefold to $55bn in the past couple of years. The trading frenzy has sent food prices soaring across the world. True, prices of
primary commodities like cereals, edible oils and milk have been rising since the turn of the millennium but since the onset of the credit crisis in the USA prices of food in the global market have been climbing at an astounding pace. In a series of caveats in January this year, New York Times reported that prices of 60 agricultural commodities traded on the world market increased by 37 percent in 2007 and 14 percent the year before. Corn prices began their ascent in the early fall of 2006 and within months climbed by some 70 percent. According to a Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) report, global food prices have increased by 83 percent in the last two years of which the price of rice itself has gone up by 141 percent. And according to another study by the Agricultural Department of the USA, the global market price of rice has gone up by 217 percent since 2006, that of wheat by 136 percent and soybean by 107 percent. CHX predicts that future prices of wheat are likely to go up by 73 percent, soybean by 52 percent and soybean oil by 44 percent. It is difficult to estimate how many people across the world will be affected by this phenomenal rise in food prices. It, however, goes without saying that it would badly affect the poorer and marginalised sections of the underdeveloped world. More than 900 million poor in Asia earn less than $2 a day – they would certainly be the worst-hit. And among them, it is the women and children who will be distressed the most. The World Food Programme (WFP) announced on April 22 that it had begun cutting provisions for school meals to the world's poorest children, that the price of basic food was rising so rapidly that shortfall for its financing for food relief programmes had grown from $500m to $755m in less than two months. A programme providing 450,000 Cambodian children has been suspended and a similar programme in Kenya serving 1.2 million children is facing cuts of nearly 50 percent.
Prices of capitalist consumption
Spiralling prices, which is endemic to capitalism, is also intrinsically triggered by the prohibitive energy needs of a growth-driven, growth-obsessed, growth-isthe- be-all-and-end-all system and the unrestrained, never-flagging consumerism it breeds. Both of these, typically, have had a major role in the unfolding drama about the global food catastrophe. The capitalist world, it may be emphasised, has a gargantuan appetite for fossil fuels and today its main source of energy is petroleum. With oil stocks constantly depleting and crude oil prices going up by more than 500 percent in the last decade or so, the capitalist countries of Europe and the USA, with mighty automobile industries, opted for bio-fuels like corn oil, also known as ethanol. Attracted by ethanol's potential as an alternative to petroleum and to meet the ever-growing demands of an automobile-crazy society, the government of USA handed massive subsidies to corn-growers; and, in a span of less than five years, huge tracts of prime agricultural lands cultivating wheat or soybean were taken over to grow corn – that, too, is being used for conversion to ethanol and not for satisfying basic human needs; it may be worthwhile to note that 240kg corn, enough to feed a family for a year, produces a mere 100 litres of ethanol, just enough to fill an SUV car. A survey of the Agricultural Department of the USA points out that the use of food crops required for producing bio-fuels in that country have gone up from 11mt in 1995 to 50mt in 2007. Primary agriculture is evidently being sacrificed at the altar of the energy needs of the capitalist world. The price of ethanol, however, is tied to that of crude oil which, in turn, is tied to the US dollar: the higher the fall of the dollar's value in the international currency market, the more the price of crude oil, and that of ethanol. With dollar value steadily declining on account of the ongoing recession in the USA and crude oil prices rising inexorably in leaps and bounds, dragging ethanol in its wake, prices of foodstuff are automatically soaring. Similar impact on the nature of agricultural production has arisen from the burgeoning consumerism of the prospering middle classes in the fast-growing economies of the underdeveloped territories, particularly China and India, the two most populous countries of the world. With the cash-rich middle classes wanting more protein food, the demand for meat has risen dramatically in these areas and the use of maize and soy to feed cattle, pigs and poultry has gone up sharply to satisfy this demand. One of the caveats in the New York Times mentioned earlier, reports that the world's meat supply, which was 71mt in 1961, rose to 284mt in 2007. Per capita consumption, too, has doubled in this period. Consumerism born of capitalist development inevitably rings the death knell for agriculture.
A death warrant for agriculture
Experience of the past two decades show that the so-called neoliberal therapy – prescribed by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in the wake of the Washington Consensus in 1990 and zealously implemented by most of the crony aspiring-to-be-developed countries – and the so-called free trade regimen, advocated and imposed on the lesser economies by the World Trade Organisation (WTO), have together destroyed or debilitated the once-thriving agriculture in the vast hinterlands of Asia, Africa and Latin America. Neoliberalism has, in particular, ruined the small farmers and paved the way for agribusiness multinationals to come in and make hay. With subsidies taken off and almost all expenditure on agricultural infrastructures virtually stopped, the subsistence farmers have en masse been pushed to the margins even as the multinational marauders laid siege to the rural economies with their seeds, fertilizers, pesticides and genetic engineering know how. Egged on by these multinationals, farmers switched from self-consuming or rotational cropping to cultivating cash crops; and when invariably crops failed, repeatedly in many cases, the multinationals, now acting as their saviors, did brisker business. The horrible experience of the cotton growers in Andhra Pradesh, many of whom through the 90s and till recent years committed suicide, is a case in point. Free trade lured many of these small and now-capitalist farmers from the peripheries into the hub of the world market. They perish soon enough, unable, as they were to cope with the intricacies of the market operations and stand up to the might of the oligopolistic agro-cartels who have complete control over pricing. Till the 70s, the sub-Saharan economies were frugal on providing food to the people. They didn't have oranges but bread and milk to sustain themselves. When the World Bank prescribed these economies to orient towards the market, they started producing oranges for export in lieu of wheat imports. After a time, the price of wheat shot up and that of oranges went down, plunging these African countries into a quagmire. Profit out of crisis The food crisis is not just a tale of misery and despair. These may be the worst of times for the world's hungry billions, but these are the best of times for the giant agribusinesses whose earnings and profits have already begun to reach astronomical figures. Monsanto reported last month that its net income for three months up to the end of February this year has more than doubled to $1.12bn from $543m over the same period last year, and its profits went up from $1.44bn to $2.22bn. Cargill's net earnings soared by 86 percent from $553m to $1.03bn over the same three months' period. And, Archer Daniels Midland, one of world's largest processor of soya, corn and wheat, increased its earnings by 42 percent, from $363m to $517m, in the first quarter of 2008. The operating profits of its grains merchandising and handling jumped 16-fold from $21m to $341m. Similarly, Mosaic Company, one of the world's largest fertiliser companies, saw its income in three months up to the end of February this year rise more than 12- fold, from $42m to $520.8m, on the back of a major shortage in fertiliser. As billions go hungry, the agribusiness tycoons, cashboxes ringing loudly on their backs, are laughing their way to the bank.
The last laugh
Soon the tears of the hungry billions will dry up. The angry billions will then ....
Writer’s e-mail address: email@example.com
Dalits in 20 districts of the state were facing serious caste-related disparities, including non-entry into temples, inaccessibility to drinking water and other facilities, a recent survey [February 2008] by Tamil Nadu Untouchability Eradication Front has found.The survey initiated in the villages of these districts last month has been completed and the findings would be submitted to respective District Collectors soon, the front's State Convenor B Sampath told reporters here today.Dalits were denied entry into hair-cutting saloons in many villages. They could not use community halls for functions and not even decorate their homes during domestic ceremonies.They were prohibited from fetching drinking water from street taps and were not allowed to enter local temples, the survey said.In Uthapuram village of Madurai district, the dalit residential colony was segregated by a half-km-long wall. Similar disparities and untouchability existed in all the 47 villages in the district, the survey said.In a school at Kottampatti in Maduraidistrict, Plus-one and Plus-two students were not even admitted to Dalit hostels.Almost 80 lakh Dalit households in these districts lacked proper toilets and the human faeces was removed and carried as headload by manual scavengers, the survey said.
The picture that generally comes to mind when we talk about coastal lands is that of the numerous tourist destinations along the coast line. Every day or the other, a new coastal tourist destination is cropping up in India, for example, a lot of people from Bengal, enchanted by the picturesque photographs, visit Mandarmoni , regardless of the fact that the Court has ordered the demolition of these coast line constructions. It is also evident from the sight of hoards of fishermen at tourist destinations like Digha, Puri, Shankarpur, Bak Khali, that a lot of people actually depend on the sea for their livelihood. All of them are either fishermen or are engaged in some other peripheral activities related to fishing. These people not only catch fish for their living, but also preserve the natural resources of these coastal regions. Coastal Regulation Zone act or CRZ was established in 1986 to protect India's coastal regions. And the court has ordered the demolition of all coastline constructions at Mandanrmoni because these constructions do not conform to the CRZ. Till date, the CRZ has been amended 19 times, but still aims to preserve the natural resources at the coastal regions and to restrict the Capitalist commercialization of these areas. And that's the actual reason for the establishment of the Coastal Management Zone or CMZ in 2007. Although CMZ has not been implemented till date, but once we delve deep into its intricacies, the conspiracies to rob us of our natural resources like forest, land and water becomes apparent. There were 18 large fishing grounds in the world. At present, only 6 are left, amongst which, the Indian Ocean is an eminent figure. During 2nd World War, many mines were planted at the sea bed, aimed to destroy enemy Battleships and Submarines. Mine Sweepers were engaged to search and destroy the unused mines. The Mine Sweepers not only destroyed the mines, but also destroyed precious Coral, Sea Weed and species of Fish.The Fishing Trawler is loosely based on the idea of the Mine Sweeper. Before the tourist destinations cropped up, the coastal areas were solely belonged to the fishermen and other inhabitants of the coastal regions. But as is the way with the World nowadays, the sons of soil are being evicted from their homeland to make way for the Capitalists. The coastline studded with fishing trawlers and fishnets apparently look dirty and obnoxious to the 'civilized' citizen and so have to make way for construction of bridges and hotels. Mangrove forests, which are natural breeding grounds for fishes, are being destroyed to facilitate the construction of Chemical and Petro chemical factories , leaving thousands of fishermen jobless and homeless and also causing severe damage to the coastal ecosystem. In Mumbai alone, the count of evicted fishermen has crossed 50,000. The Indian coastline spreads for about 8200 km. By official records of 2005, India has about 3200 villages predominantly resided by fishermen. Every day, about 30 lakh fishermen go about their job and other 30 lakh people are engaged in related activities. The figure crosses 2 crores considering the coast as well as the rivers. By the record of Asian Development Bank, the total number of fishermen in India are 1 crore 46 lakh 60 thousand and the number of boats is 2 lakh 20 thousand. The total count of fish caught was about 65 lakh tonnes in 2006 and the total income from export was about 8000 crores , which was 3% of the total foreign exchange and the revenue generated was 2nd highest, after Information Technology. The fishermen are not just catching fish, they are providing us with the protein rich food and are also protecting the eco system of the coastal regions. The Indian coastline has no end to its varieties, the main features being the coast, sea shore, deltas, lagoons, estuaries, coral reefs, salt water lakes ,backwaters , coastal grasslands and mangrove forests. But unrestricted tourism, overuse, polluting factories, sand mining etc. are joining hands to destroy the eco system, for purely commercial purposes. The CRZ - 91 was
established in 1986 as a result of unmitigated protests by the fishermen unions and other organizations, to restrict the consistent erosion of coastal regions and resources, funded by the capitalists. According to CRZ-91, the coastal regions are marked as Ecologically Sensitive areas. Development in these areas should not adversely affect the ecosystem at any cost. According to CRZ, the entire coastal region is divided into 4 types, namely CRZ –I, CRZ-II, CRZ-III and CRZ-IV. A few points to be noted in this respect:-
The sea region, extending from the coast line and up to 12 nautical mi l e s i n t o t h e s e a i s c a l l e d t h e l o c a l wa t e r l e v e l High tide line is the level up to which the high tide reaches during the spring time. Low tide line is the level to which the w a t e r r e a c h e s d u r i n g t h e l o w t i d e .
The area in between is called the Inter Tidal Zone. Now, let's take a look at the CRZ notification. CRZ - I – These regions are classified as “High Risk” and are to be protected by all means. Classified as Ecologically Sensitive Area, all coral reefs, mangrove forests, natural habitats of crabs and turtles, reserve forests on coastal regions as well as estuaries and deltas and associated lakes come under its purview. These are strictly “no development zone” i.e. no commercial constructions like hotels, factories or beach mining are permitted here. All delta islands in southern Bengal are classified as CRZ-I. So how come a chemical hub is being set up at Nayachar, that comes under CRZ-I ? We will come to that later CRZ - II - These are regions that have seen some development and which have constructions within 5 meters of the High tide line. No constructions are permitted within the area between the road and the high tide line. These regions come under various Municipal Corporations , for example, Puri, Digha. CRZ – III - These regions have seen no development, but development is permitted here. 200 meters from the high tide line is declared as “no development zone”, however, constructions are permitted after 200 meters. CRZ – IV - Andaman, Nicobar, Lakshwadeep etc. come under this. The CRZ act has been amended quite a few times, on the basis of recommendation of certain committees, to facilitate commercialization of the coastline, funded by capitalists. Of all the 19 times CRZ has been amended, the decisive committee has cared to consult the local people for only 3 times, and in no cases, has that opinion been included in their recommendation. Construction of Amusement Parks, factories along the coastline and dumping of poisonous chemicals into the sea is causing adverse effects. As a result, the mangrove forests have been obliterated from Mumbai and fishes have moved 20 km inside the sea. Numerous lobster farms have cropped up ignoring the CRZ. Hindustan Lever, Larsen & Toubro, ITC, IFB, AKG are some large companies that have fully operational Lobster farms in restricted areas, defying the laws that were meant to protect the ecosystem. Chandan Basu, son of former chief minister of Bengal, Jyoti Basu owns a huge lobster farm in Shankarpur. Bijan Nag, another relative of Jyoti Basu, owns a similar farm in Bakkhali. Chandrababu Naidu and P. Chidambaram, two of the most loyal supporters of the american capitalists, own two illegal lobster farms of size 80000 acres and 18000 acres. In 1996, an appeal was made to Supreme Court to stop these illegal farms. Following are the extracts from the decision of Supreme Court : 1. All lobster farms within 500 meters from the high tide line are to be demolished. It is pretty evident that these illegal farms are in CRZ – I. 2. The damage to the ecosystem caused by the operation of such lobster farms are to be quantified. 3. All workers who work in those farms are to be paid a salary of 72 months, after the closure of the farm. None of the state governments has implemented these decisions except the Orissa State Govt. The central as well as the state governments are reluctant to implement the CRZ act. Each and every amendment to the CRZ has consistently decreased its effectiveness. Just like all other laws are being 'doctored' to satisfy the sadistic needs of World's Capitalist powers, the CRZ was also destined to the same fate. And the fishermen had to pay the price. In spite of the amendments, the CRZ didn't pose any threat to fishermen. So it made way for a new act, and to gain the credibility for the establishment of the new act, a committee was set up to discuss the effectiveness of the CRZ. In July, 2004, under scientist
M.S. Swaminathan ( the plann er of “Green Revolution” under Indira Gandhi ) a committee was set up to review the CRZ, and it was on the basis of their recommendation, that Coastal Zone Management or CMZ came into play. The notification was published in 2007, and the part of recommendation that dealt with protecting the ecosystem and the fishermen, was very carefully left out. Like CRZ, CMZ has also been divided into 4 parts, namely CMZ –I, CMZ-II, CMZ-III and CMZ –IV. Like CRZ -I, CMZ –I has been classified as Ecologically Sensitive Area in the 2007 notification. CMZ – I : The “no Development Zone” extending till 500 meters from the high tide line was henceforth abolished. But development is to be carried out according to the Integrated Coastal Zone Mangement Plan or ICZMP, which enables the commercialization of the restricted areas which previously belonged solely to the fishermen according to CRZ-I. As a result, the fishermen from these areas are bound to be evicted. This is because under ICZMP, these areas come under the direct control of the State/ Central government authorized Coastal Activity Regulatory body, to make way for the capitalist powers to
set up their hotels and factories. CMZ – II : Densely populated areas that include coastal municipalities, panchayats having population density of and above 400/sq. km, ports, notified tourist destinations, notified mines and industrial regions, SEZ or Special Economic Zone, Heritage Zones, notified archeological areas, military areas and coastal power plants, all come under this. In CRZ –II , no constructions were permitted within the area between the road and the coastline. CMZ –II saw the establishment of a new idea called the “set back line”. This set back line is to be decided keeping in mind the natural as well as artificial or manmade disasters. The development of the coastal regions, natural features gathered from satellite images, weather changes and consequent change of sea level, erosion of coastline etc. all go hand in hand to decide the set back line. But all this rubbish is nothing but a veil that hides the true intentions, because the CMZ –II is virtually free from all r e g u l a t i o n s o f w e a t h e r a n d p o l l u t i o n c o n t r o l . Fishermen are strictly prohibited from residing in the area between the set back line and the sea, but no restrictions are imposed on development of tourism infrastructure, mining or oil drilling, setting up of ports and fuelling platform for ships, construction of lighthouse and light towers, construction of public toilets, construction of private fisheries, shipyards and coastal defense infrastructure, setting up of railway lines, roads, electrical towers etc. Not only the coast line, but also underwater resources are being offered for extraction to national and foreign capitalists. The most astounding fact is that the permission for such constructions need to be issued only through the local authorities, namely, the gram panchatyats or the municipal corporations. This fact alone clearly shows the policy of the state/central governments. In a country, where the highest authorities are loyal servants of the capitalist powers, the futile resistance, if any, of the panchayats or municipal corporations, would s i n k w i t h o u t a t r a c e In fact, CMZ –II has no resemblance with CRZ-II, and the CRZ-III regions are now being reclassified as CMZ-II. The provision of “no development zone” within 200 meters from the high tide line in CRZ –II is being abolished and not only the coastline, but areas up to 12 nautical mile into the sea as well as the seabed are slated for the construction of Special Economic Zone, to satisfy foreign/ national capitalists, leaving thousands of fisherman not only homeless, but also without a job. CMZ – III : All coastal areas except CMZ - I, II and IV come under CMZ – III. Tourism Infrastructure development as well as mining, SEZ and other activities listed in CMZ – II is permitted on both sides of the set back
line. And above all the area up to 12 nautical miles into the sea as well as the sea bed is slated to be handed over to capitalist funds, depriving the fishermen who had been fishing here for ages. CMZ –IV : This consists of Andaman, Nicobar, Lakhswadeep and all islands of Bay of Bengal and Arabian Sea. The coastal backwaters that has not been classified as CMZ – I or II can come under CMZ – IV. Else it will come under CMZ – III. By comparing CRZ and CMZ, it is quite clear, that in spite of the amendments, the CRZ act was able to put a leash on the unrestricted development in coastal regions that destroys the ecosystem along with the lives of thousands of fishermen. This fact is again established in the report of the Swaminathan committee which states that the majority of fishermen organizations were satisfied with the CRZ act, because the CRZ was meant to protect the ecosystem by prohibiting major constructions or development along the coast. Inevitably, the CRZ went into the bad books of the capitalists and made way for CMZ. Under the CMZ, the fishermen are not only rendered homeless, but at the same time are prohibited to carry on fishing within 12 nautical miles from the coast. And since, most of them lack the advanced equipment and facilities to support fishing deep into the sea, they would be without a living. In fact, deep sea fishing would inevitably come under capitalist grasp in future. And since CMZ is virtually free of all restrictions, mindless rape of the natural resources would continue. There is a special type of seaweed that is required for manufacture of Nail polish, lipsticks and other cosmetic products. L'oreal, the Cosmetic giant, has already applied for a SEZ for setting up a cosmetic factory. Unrestricted sand mining would eventually obliterate natural breeding grounds for turtles and fishes , already evident from the decreasing number of mangrove forests . Till date, CRZ -91 is in place. But the moment the ICZMP and the set back line under CMZ would be established, CRZ would cease to exist. Not a single established political party has raised voice against CMZ – 2007. The CPI (M), self proclaimed “protector of the interests of the hard-working class” has, instead, asked for the implementation of CMZ. But, after Singur and Nandigram, this was expected of them. The states under CPI(M) control, Bengal and Kerala have
extensive coastal regions. Unrestricted tourism and commercialization has gravely affected the Kerala coast and adjacent mangrove forests. The 700 sq. km of mangrove forests present in Kerala about 40 years ago has now been reduced to 17 sq. km, slowly destroying the coastal ecosystems. Little imagination is needed to visualize the plight of fishermen once CMZ-2007 comes into play. In West Bengal, a total of 4571.49 sq. km comes under CRZ, 392.4 sq.km under CRZ – III and 14.25 sq. km under CRZ – II. However, hotels in Mandarmoni, illegal lobster farms in Bakkhali, Fraserganj and Shankarpur have cropped up, completely ignoring the CRZ regulation, and not without help from the state government. Now, let's talk about Nayachar. Nayachar is one of the most prominent islands in the delta of Ganga – Brahmaputra, the largest of its kind in the world. According to CRZ, this is an Ecologically Sensitive Area, and hence a “no development zone”. And, Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, the “hon'able” chief minister of Bengal, had once proposed a golf course and other eco-friendly industrial
zone in Nayachar. But this is only one instance, among a series of proposals, which aim to hand over the Sunderbans and the entire Bengal coastline to national/foreign capitalists, under the thin veil of “Eco - Tourism”. Sunderban was once almost handed over to the Sahara Group. The people from MarichJhapi was evicted by Jyoti Basu's goons, who somehow happen to be CPI(M) cadres, in order
to facilitate the establishment of factories by Hindustan Lever and ITC. Over the years, the CPI(M) has simply handed over huge plots of land to national/foreign capitalists and evicted thousands of
people, by falsely claiming that these factories, once set up will provide livelihood to them, and where these false promises have not worked, by sheer brute force. And in order to facilitate the Chemical Hub at Nayachar, they have recommended the State Coastal Regulation Zone Authority to reclassify Nayachar as CRZ- III from CRZ – I. Although, a few members present at the meeting opposed the idea of reclassification on the basis of several reasons , they were never taken seriously.
The CPI(M) is preaching that Nayachar is completely uninhabited. That is not actually true. It is home to 2500 fishermen, who quite naturally, do not have any legal documents supporting their claim of Nayachar as their home. And hence they are destined to be evicted. And after their eviction, Nayachar would boast a Chemical Hub, which, in the developed countries like U.S.A. and Europe, is widely known as “dirty industry” because of the severe damage to the ecosystem caused by toxic chemical wastes. This chemical Hub, by Salem would be under the supervision of notorious American MNC Dow Chemicals. All major American rivers are polluted due to the release of toxic chemicals into their waters , and now this dirty industry is being encouraged in Ecologically Sensitive Areas in India. The strict laws regulating pollution levels in developed countries considerably reduce the profit earned from this chemical business, and hence Dow Chemicals is forced to set foot in India, where the laws, although present, can always be overlooked in lieu of some cash. Dow Chemical also owns the Union Carbide. A chemical hub in Nayachar would destroy numerous species of fishes, crabs and turtles. It would also destroy the Sunderbans. No matter what the CPI(M) say, the rate of employment in chemical factory is very less, as can be seen from the Haldia Petrochemicals. The stunning bridge on sea in Mumbai is slowly poisoning the adjacent sea and rendering it unfit for fishing purposes, the effort to construct a bridge over Amazon is destroying the world's largest rain forest in Brazil. The setting up of the chemical hub will similarly affect the Sunderbans. Our duty, at this moment, is to stop this at any cost, by any means necessary.
Booklet by Forum against SEZ