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Saturday, 7 January 2012

Islam and Modern age


RELIGION AS FAITH AND RELIGION AS AN IDENTITY


Asghar Ali Engineer

(Islam and Modern Age, January 2012.)

What is religion? It is much misunderstood and complex. So many different factors are associated with it. Some people follow religions blindly, some reject it totally and some as a tool for their own interests and religion in history has often been used as most effective tool for grabbing power. Thus religion arouses very complex and contradictory sentiments. Theologians and religious leaders think it is most essential part of human life and condemn those who reject it.

Also, theologians and religious leaders maintain what they think and say is true religion and divine commands and all others must obey them unquestioningly and anyone who raises question or criticizes them must be ex-communicated in this life and will be condemned to hell in coming life wherein they will burn eternally. Thus wrath of theologians becomes divine wrath.

Religion as such creates complex forces and problems and if it becomes powerful establishment, it assumes even graver forms and then begins the politics to control the religious establishment. The priests, theologians and religious leaders behave as if they are politicians and legitimize their power by invoking God and persecute those who challenge their authority or understanding of religion.

It was struggle between Church and independent thinkers which caused much conflict and ultimately many independent thinkers rejected religious doctrines and also the concept of God. There were two types of revolts against religion and against religious establishment. Some independent thinkers who were studying universe, its origin and development found the church doctrines unscientific and unacceptable and hence rejected them. Many of them became atheists though not all.

Then persons like Martin Luther revolted against the established church and maintained that we don’t need an agent between God and human being. Every human being can establish direct relationship with God. Every human being can understand Bible if it is in his/her language. Thus he translated the Bible into German so that all Germans can understand the Bible. The Church was not allowing the Bible to be translated from Latin into other languages.

Similarly at one time The Muslim theologians were not allowing Qur’an to be translated from Arabic into other languages and when Shah Waliyullah in 18th century translated it into Persian, his hand was dislocated so that he could not write. Similarly Brahmins did not allow Hindu scriptures like Vedas and Gita etc. to be translated from Sanskrit into people’s languages. If religious scriptures were allowed to be translated they will lose their mystique and priests would lose their importance and prestige. Their importance could be maintained only if they were the interpreters of these scriptures.

However, today things are changing fast with spread of knowledge through latest means of communications. People are no more ignorant like in medieval ages. Today knowledge is within reach of all human beings and no more available only to the elite. The printing technology also has undergone revolution and books can be made available easily, even in electronic form.

The other groups i.e. one who was studying origin of universe had much more serious problems with religious leadership or theologians. These theologians hardly knew anything about the universe and its origin and interpreted what was stated in Bible or Qur’an on the basis of their ignorance rather than knowledge of external universe. The scientists, on the other hand, were observing the universe and constantly improved their instruments of observations and drew drastically different conclusions.

The priesthood, on the other hand, had based their opinions on Greek scientists and others and thought their opinions were divine in nature. It was because of such approach that they punished Galileo when he said that it is earth which goes round the Sun and not sun around the earth. Thus an artificial conflict developed between scientists and theologians and it is theologians who had to accept defeat.

Because of such conflict many great thinkers, writers and scientists like Einstein, Bertrand Russell, Stephen Hawking and so on, became skeptical about validity of theological conclusion. It is not business of theologians to talk about science unless they have thorough knowledge about it. Still there is great controversy about what is called creationism and evolution and theologians reject the concept of evolution as Bible or Qur’an refer to God’s injunction “Be and it Became” and maintain one cannot challenge this Divine injunction.

But the real question is how to understand these divine words and whether as Sir Syed put it there cannot be contradiction between word of God and work of God; while Bible, Qur’an etc. are words of God, universe and its laws are work of God. One has to reconcile the two and while we study work of God through observations, we should understand word of God through appropriate interpretation.

Until yesterday theologians maintained that the Universe was few thousand years old but today scientists have concluded that our universe is 20 billion years old. Now science has so well developed that no theologian in his senses will challenge these conclusions of expert physicists etc. If they do it would be sheer theological and human arrogance and nothing else. Only way is to suitably interpret word of God.

II

RELIGION AND FAITH

In view of all these complex questions the key question is what is faith? Is faith, as rationalists and atheists maintain, always blind? Can it be rational and whether wherever there faith, there is religion or religion is necessarily based on blind faith? These are important question and must be dispassionately answered rising above ideological considerations. Both believers in religion as well as believers in rationalism often take extreme position with the result that objectivity suffers on both sides.

What is needed is a balanced point of view.  Both religion and science or religion and reason are essential part of human life. Faith in human life is as essential as reason. But due to human weakness while faith tends to become blind reason begins to be worshipped by rationalists. Both do not understand the limitation of faith and reason. Neither faith nor reason can ever be absolute.

Blind faith is blind first and faith later and something which is blind cannot see, much less understand anything. Qur’an calls knowledge as light and ignorance as darkness and urges upon us to acquire knowledge and liberate ourselves from darkness. Thus blind faith is always based on ignorance and amounts to grope in darkness. It is curse for humanity and since whole of medieval ages we based our beliefs on blind faith we remained ignorant about what is there out there. We could not understand the creation of one whom we worshipped and pretended to admire. We can admire the Creator only when we understand the wonderful creation that our universe is.

Thus blind faith leads us nowhere except in the blind fold of blind theologians and religious leaders who exploit us. However that does not mean faith is always blind as our rationalist friends maintain. Faith plays profound role in human life. Faith and love are two important pillars of our life and both provide us with positive creative passions and these passions provide us with energy that drives us forward. If I do not have faith life will be full of doubts and negative passions which will be destructive.

Doubt or scepticism is important in intellectual world as by doubting earlier propositions we go further and evolve new propositions. But doubt is spiritual world can be very negative and destructive. And would rob us of inner peace. While it is scepticism which is creative in the intellectual world, it is faith which is highly necessary for inner peace and stability in the spiritual world. Thus it is creative collaboration between faith and reason which makes us highly productive and dynamic.

Human life consists of both external and internal world and one without the other is incomplete. Reason is very necessary to know what is out there and faith is very necessary to know what is in here. In west today whole emphasis is on what is out there, on science, reason and material world. It makes human beings, as Herbert Marcuse calls it ‘one dimensional human being. We all the time engage ourselves with the world out there leaving our inner world totally barren. It leads to many psychological crises.

Some people, on the other hand, lay all the emphasis on the inner world leaving us totally ignorant about the world out there. Without knowledge of external world out there we cannot improve our material life which is also essential part of our life. We have to deal with life as a whole, not with one part alone. We need both external dynamism and inner stability, we need external improvement and inner richness, thus we need both faith as well as reason, doubt as well as belief.

A productive personality in psychological terms, is product of inner profundity and stability. Only doubting intellect will make human being more destructive than productive. That is why in Qur’an there is so much emphasis on what is called iman which is roughly translated as faith. Faith gives inner satisfaction but blind faith on one hand, and faith without freedom to inquire is a barren faith, a serious obstacle for change and progress. Faith with right to freedom of inquiry is real and productive faith.

Once we acquire faith after critical inquiry, it becomes a dynamo for action. One cannot act without faith. Even Marxists act out of faith in Marxism. No action is possible without faith and any ideology without action is mere theory on paper. Marx also insisted that what is important is to change the world and world can be changed only if you act. Thus those who reject faith is throwing baby along with bath water. Doubting minds can never change the world.

What we have to reject is not faith per se but various accretions which keep on occurring from superstitious belies, cultural practices and external traditions and restore genuine faith after critical inquiry and only such a faith will become impetus for action. In fact one should be firmly rooted in ones faith. Iman, Qur’an says, is a great source of inner conviction and certitude. While doubt is alright for critical inquiry but certitude is must for action.

            
                                                                    III
FAITH AS AN IDENTITY

Faith becomes a problem when it is reduced to an identity rather than inner certitude. Faith becomes religion and religion creates a community with which believers identify. Religious community is invariably led by some leaders through an establishment and establishment has its own identity and power politics for control. The leaders are more interested in controlling establishment rather than keeping the faith alive and agent of change. Faith thus becomes mere formality.

The believer also find his/her own benefits in religion as an instrument of identification. ‘I am a Muslim’ or ‘I am a Hindu’ no more remains a statement of faith and action or a powerful factor for change in keeping with its principles and values but as an instrument of material benefits or control over establishment. I as a Muslim must get so much share in power or I as a Sunni or Shi’ah must control this or that establishment.

Faith is thus no more dynamo for action according to inner certitude but an instrument of controlling establishments. Thus a truly religious person or a faithful has to be subversive, subversive of establishment. All the Prophets challenged establishments of their time. Hazrat Ibrahim challenged Nimrud and Hazrat Musa Pharoah. Except two Prophets i.e. Dawood and Suleiman, of all the Prophets mentioned in the Qur’an, were from weaker sections of society and fought for the rights of weaker sections.

A person of faith creates new world which is just and compassionate and does not accept the world he/she inherits which is unjust and cruel and exploits weaker sections of society. Faith and hope become powerful instruments or one who seeks to change this world. And one who seeks to change the world also needs knowledge which helps in bringing about change.

Thus one has to decide whether one acquires faith as a powerful instrument for change or equally powerful instrument for controlling a establishment. Religious leaders generally oppose change as stagnant faith is helpful in retaining their leadership. The Qur’anic prayer “Lord increase me in knowledge” is very meaningful. It is ever increasing knowledge which keeps our faith alive and dynamic and enables believers to understand new mechanisms of exploitation by those who control establishment.

Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was a great subverter of his time and successfully challenged the powerful establishment of powerful Meccan traders who were busy accumulating wealth neglecting truth, justice, compassion for the suffering of others and voiceless of Mecca had become more voiceless. The Prophet (PBUH) gave them a powerful voice with knowledge and made them aware of their rights and dignity.

Equipped with this knowledge and awareness of human dignity and equality and values of new faith Muslims brought a great revolution and the two most powerful but feudal empires i.e. the Roman and Sassanid Empires were swept away. But unfortunately soon Islam itself became a powerful empire first controlled by Umayyads and then by Abbasids and subsequently other smaller and regional empires and totally lost its vigour and dynamism.

The Islamic Shari’ah also became stagnant over period of time and lost its thrust for justice and powerful instrument of change. Instead, whatever earlier jurists had formulated became ‘divine law’ and began to be defended as ‘divine’ and ‘immutable and cannot be changed until the Day of Judgment. With such stagnant attitude Islam became mere identity and its sects and sub-sects powerful establishments to be controlled by its respective leaders.

No wonder than Muslims who had once led the world in knowledge and advancement of several branches of science from medicine to astronomy to physics to mathematics were left far behind and its religious leaders began to denounce new inventions of science like the Catholic Church had done earlier. For them faith became now a mere identity and each sect of Islam began to defend its own identity in order to benefit from these sectarian establishments.

The Qur’an was also reduced to sectarian polemics and proving the other sect wrong instead of guidance for change and inspiration for creating a new world on the basis of values enshrined in the Qur’an. Otherwise Islam would be nothing more than conglomeration of various sects, each sect being a powerful establishment and leaders of these sects proving others wrong and deserve only hell.

I do not think with such attitude Muslims are ever going to contribute anything to the contemporary world and its progress. Earlier we change our view of Islam and its universal values, our faith will remain only an identity.
------------------------------------------------                       
 Institute of Islamic Studies,
Mumbai.

In Delhi, nearly all rapes (98%) are by relatives, neighbours

In Delhi, nearly all rapes (98%) are by relatives, neighbours
 
Press Trust of India, Updated: January 06, 2012 19:47 IST
New Delhi: Despite several new initiatives by Delhi Police to make the capital safer for women, the year 2011 saw a significant increase in the number of rape and molestation cases over the previous year. Shockingly, almost 98 per cent of the offenders were either related or known to the victims.

A total of 568 rape cases were reported in 2011 as against 507 in 2010. However, the incidence of rape per lakh population has shown a steady decline in Delhi, coming down from 4.42 per lakh in 2005 to 3.39 per lakh in 2011.

Addressing the Delhi Police Annual Press Conference here, Commissioner B K Gupta said, in over 550 of the 568 rape cases reported in 2011, the offenders were found to be known to the victims.

"Thus it is seen that these are opportunistic crimes committed in private spaces," Commissioner Gupta said.

He said only 2 per cent of rapes in 2011 were committed by strangers as compared to almost  4 per cent  in 2010.

There has also been an increase in cases of molestation of women in 2011 with 653 cases being reported as against 601 in 2010, he said.

To reduce the crime against women and make the city Delhi safer, Gupta said, the Delhi Police would deploy more women personnel on duty and every police station will have a woman personnel to interact with complainants.

He said, women-centric police stations have been established in north and south campuses of the Delhi University while the five districts in the capital have women Deputy Commissioners of Police and Additional Deputy Commissioners of Police. He also said, 460 women constables have been imparted commando training in 2011 with 25 being imparted advanced training by the CRPF.

Gupta said orders have been issued to BPOs and other offices to take steps for safety and security of women while PCR vans have been directed to help stranded women, and surprise checks are being conducted in bus stops, buses, markets and cinema halls.

According to the Commissioner, 63 programmes of self-defence training for women were launched in 2011 in various schools and colleges covering 6,730 students.

He said the Delhi Police has also taken a number of initiatives to protect senior citizens in the capital. A senior citizen cell has been functioning in the Police Headquarters under Crime Branch where such people can register their names.

"The beat staff regularly visits them," he said.


http://www.ndtv.com/article/cities/in-delhi-nearly-all-rapes-are-by-relatives-neighbours-164413?pfrom=home-otherstories&cp

Pakistan's President Zardari fights back at moves to oust him

MCCLATCHY NEWSPAPERS

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — The Pakistani government has mounted a counterattack against moves by the country's military and Supreme Court that could result in what critics call a constitutional coup against President Asif Ali Zardari.
The Supreme Court had set a Jan. 10 deadline for the government to request that a Swiss court reopen a corruption case against Zardari, but his ruling Pakistan People's Party said Thursday that the government would ignore it. At a meeting held at the presidential offices — in defiance of a court order against such use of the premises — the party said it would uphold the president's constitutional immunity from prosecution.
The party also said that Zardari wouldn't respond to a summons from a judicial inquiry ordered by the Supreme Court to investigate allegations that a top Zardari aide had sought White House help to dissuade the Pakistani military from staging a fifth coup in 64 years.
The moves figured to prolong a standoff that has brought Pakistani politics to a standstill and threatens to imperil U.S. efforts to enlist Islamabad's help in achieving peace in neighboring Afghanistan. With military officials seemingly bent on removing Zardari — whom they view as a threat to their considerable power — and the president digging in his heels, the turmoil also has distracted attention from the country's worsening economic difficulties and a decisive phase of its war against Pakistani Taliban insurgents.
Four major Pakistani Taliban factions had on Sunday pledged to end attacks on Pakistani security forces and join the war against U.S.-led NATO forces in Afghanistan. However, the pledge rang hollow on Thursday after one faction, led by Hakimullah Mahsud, announced it had executed 15 paramilitary soldiers kidnapped from a fort in December.
The Supreme Court panel's inquiry focuses on a memo that Pakistan's former ambassador to Washington, Hussain Haqqani, is alleged to have drafted for Gen. James Jones, who was then President Barack Obama's national security advisor. The claim was made in October by an American businessman of Pakistan origin, Mansoor Ijaz, who said he delivered the memo.
Jones has acknowledged receiving the memo and forwarding it to the then-chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Mike Mullen. Both have said they doubted Ijaz's claims and hadn't considered the memo to be authentic.
The Pakistani government has rejected Ijaz's claims. It was furious when the army chief and the head of the military spy agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence directorate, told the Supreme Court in December that they believed Ijaz's claims warranted a judicial investigation.
The ensuing rhetorical back-and-forth in court and in the Pakistani media have sparked rumors of a coup against Zardari.
His government appeared to win a boost Wednesday when opposition leader Nawaz Sharif — who had filed the petition asking the Supreme Court to look into Ijaz's claims — said that he'd welcome negotiations with the government on efforts to rein in the military. Sharif has feuded with the military since it overthrew him as prime minister in 1999, forcing him into a 10-year exile in Saudi Arabia.
"I don't think the government is really serious about restricting the political role of the army and intelligence services, but if it is, I'm ready for talks," he told Geo, the leading Pakistani cable news channel.
As clips of Sharif's interview were broadcast, the federal cabinet ordered all military officers, civil servants and judges to declare their financial assets — a first in Pakistan's history.
It also wasn't clear whether Research in Motion, the Canadian maker of the BlackBerry, would comply with a request by the judicial inquiry for transcripts of text-message conversations between Ijaz and Haqqani. Ijaz said that those conversations contained evidence that supported his claims, but the firm said in a statement Wednesday that it would "balance any such requests against our priority of maintaining the privacy rights of our users."
The Supreme Court's decision to form a judicial commission to investigate the so-called Memogate charges against Haqqani and Zardari has drawn fire from human-rights groups. They have zeroed in on the court ruling that national-security interests trumped the constitutional rights of Haqqani, who hasn't been charged with any criminal offense but was ordered by the court not to leave Pakistan.
Pakistan's chief justice, Iftikhar Chaudhry, has frequently clashed with Zardari since the government reinstated Chaudhry in 2009. Chaudhry has since frequently initiated corruption and other proceedings against the government and overruled it on administrative matters, drawing criticism from international jurists.
The Supreme Court has been notably less vigorous in its pursuit of allegations of human-rights violations by the military.
Meanwhile, Haqqani is holed up at the prime minister's official residence in Islamabad. In an interview with the Daily Telegraph, published Wednesday, he said he rarely left the compound out of fear of being kidnapped and tortured, or even killed. Although he didn't identify the source of the threat, he alluded to the military.
(Hussain is a McClatchy special correspondent.)

Why is "terror expert" attacking US solidarity groups?

Why is "terror expert" attacking US solidarity groups?
Kristin Szremski
The Electronic Intifada
5 January 2012

A concerted effort is underway in the US to silence critics of the Israeli occupation and US aid to Israel.
(
Steve Rhodes
/
Flickr )
Discredited journalist Steven Emerson, who traded in a career with
national news outlets for the his Investigative Project on Terrorism (IPT), is trying to entangle an American non-profit organization in a shroud
of secretive conspiracy theories intent on branding it a “supporter
of terrorism.”
Emerson has crowned himself the “expert” on terrorism through his
production of scurrilous blog posts and videos that he tries to pass off as credible reports. Now he’s targeting the American Muslims for Palestine (AMP), the organization for which this writer works, and by extension, Students for Justice in Palestine.
After students convened their a national SJP conference in October 2011, Emerson posted an article on his blog, calling SJP a “radical student organization” (“SJP’s ‘Dialogue’ Goes Nowhere”) The accompanying graphic shows a large iceberg labelled with SJP at the top connected to AMP, which is shown lurking under the surface with the bulk of the iceberg.
“AMP’s support for Students for Justice in Palestine is troubling, given AMP’s radical rhetoric and its ties to extremist groups,” Emerson writes. And after AMP concluded its national convention in November, Emerson posted yet
another attack, whose headline borrowed from the convention theme — with a dangerous twist. Emerson changed “A New Era of Activism” to a “New
Era of Terror Support” (“American Muslims for Palestine’s Web of Hamas Support”).
Emerson attacks SJP and AMP because of their success in raising awareness about Israel’s continual
violations of international law and abuses of Palestinians’ human
rights. AMP was co-founded by Dr. Hatem Bazian, a professor of Near Eastern and Ethnic Studies at the University of California, Berkeley. Bazian also co-founded the first SJP chapter at Berkeley in 1993.
AMP is now on the radar of Zionist groups such as the Anti-Defamation League and the Investigative Project on Terrorism (IPT). Bazian, an outspoken advocate of Palestinian human rights, has been under attack for much longer.
Emerson, whose articles are quickly picked up and parroted around the Internet by sycophantic bloggers, cannot argue the facts with AMP and that’s why he resorts to inflammatory, deceptive and dangerous rhetoric to smear the organization and its founder.
Meanwhile, Emerson makes millions of dollars falsely branding Muslims and pro-Palestine advocates with the deadly label of “terrorism
supporters.” Though he calls himself an expert on Arabs and terrorism,
Emerson’s background is in sociology and he does not know Arabic. He was all but run out of the field of journalism after his “expert analysis”
on the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995 turned out to be dead wrong, after
he told CBS News it had a “Middle Eastern trait” because it “was done with the intent to inflict as many casualties as possible” (“Steven Emerson’s Crusade,” Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting, January/February 1999).
“Pervasive bias”
Peer review of Emerson’s works would ring the death knell for any
self-respecting journalist, whose career is almost solely dependent upon the reliability of his or her reporting.
Adrienne Edgar, reviewing Emerson’s book Terrorist: The Inside Story of the Highest Ranking Iraqi Terrorist Ever to Defect to the West in May 1991 for The New York Times, was one who questioned Emerson’s objectivity. The book offers “a
pervasive anti-Arab and anti-Palestinian bias,” she writes, adding that
“Palestinian violence is invariably portrayed as terrorist, while
Israeli violence is always characterized as self-defense.”
Journalist Jane Hunter complains of the same pro-Israel bias in
Emerson’s work in an article published by the media watchdog group
Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting in 1992.
Emerson’s work “is sometimes nimble in its treatment of facts, often
credulous of intelligence sources, and almost invariably supportive of
the Israeli government,” according to Hunter (“Steven Emerson: A journalist who knows how to take a leak,” October/November 1992).
Even Ethan Bronner, who can hardly be described as partial toward the Palestinians, criticized Emerson’s book, American Jihad: The Terrorists Living Among Us. In 2002, when Bronner was assistant editorial page editor, he wrote,
“In truth, it is hard even now to know exactly what to make of
Emerson’s contentions.”
Though he viewed some parts of the book favorably, Bronner wrote,
“Emerson may not be a scholar, and he may sometimes connect unrelated
dots. He may also occasionally be quite wrong” (“Suspect thy neighbor,” 17 March 2002).
It was in American Jihad where Emerson first planted a lie
about Bazian that, despite the Berkeley professor’s repeated refutation, has survived in several forms and mutations to this day.
Manufacturing anti-Semitism
In Appendix C of American Jihad, Emerson contends that in May 1999, Bazian told a gathering, “In the hadith [saying], the Day of Judgment will never happen until you fight the
Jews. They are on the west side of the river, which is the Jordan River, and you’re on the east side until the trees and stones will say, oh
Muslim, there is a Jew hiding behind me. Come and kill him! And that’s
in the hadith about this, this is a future battle before the Day of Judgment.”
Throughout American Jihad, Emersion makes copious use of
citations to back up his assertions. Appendix C alone has 79 footnotes.
However, Emerson does not include one citation for the 1999 event or for the hadith Bazian allegedly quoted. There is no indication
that Emerson attended the event and heard the quote himself or that
someone else reported it. Bazian has repeatedly refuted Emerson’s
allegation, most prominently on The O’Reilly Factor with Bill O’Reilly in 2004.
“It’s a
fabrication,” Bazian told O’Reilly. “I would never use that statement.
It’s a statement that comes from Islamic historiography. It’s a part of hadith collections, references to the end of time. And I in general don’t use that in any type of speech or discussion.”
The Detroit News’ Nolan Finley, in October 2002, repeated
Emerson’s lie. From there, the fabrication has taken on a life of its
own and is often trotted out in attempts to vilify Bazian and discredit
his work.
But the hadith doesn’t just plague the Berkeley professor.
It’s also a statement that Islamophobes like to attribute to Muslim
leaders in general, as a sure-fire way to discredit them. The money trail Emerson never lets the facts get in the way of a good story. The same
is true when it comes to the image he’s crafted of himself as a selfless crusader, who declined marriage to pursue his “vocation.” He’s a man so intent on his mission that “the unused portion of his bed at home is
strewn with court documents, telephone records and bio-terror updates,” The Washington Post reported in 2001 (“The man who gives terrorism a name,” 14 November 2001).
At least two profiles by The Jerusalem Post and The Washington Post paint Emerson as a selfless individual who is bent on exposing “Middle
East terrorism” out of a sense of duty to the American public. Emerson
has claimed that he chose to “remain independently poor,” instead of
accepting a lucrative three-year contract with CNN.
Roughly two months after the 11 September 2001 attacks, The Washington Post ran a profile on Emerson that perpetuated the selfless persona by
calling “The copper-haired Emerson, 47 … an unpaid consultant-in-chief.” Emerson may be many things. Unpaid is not one of them.
According to IRS 990 forms, which are required by the US federal tax agency to show an organization’s eligibility for tax-exempt status, Emerson’s Investigative Project on Terrorism (IPT) paid him nearly $5 million through his SAE Productions in 2008 and 2009. Emerson is SAE Production’s sole employee.
The tax forms also state IPT receives
private donations as the bulk of its funding. A recent report by the
Center for American Progress showed seven foundations gave almost $43
million over ten years to five major disseminators of Islamophobia.
Three of those five — including Emerson and IPT — are staunch supporters of the pro-Israel Zionist agenda. In fact, IPT received about $560,000 from a small number of Islamophobic and
right-wing sources, such as the Donors Capital Fund ($400,000), the
Russell Berrie Foundation ($100,000), and from Daniel Pipes’ Middle East Forum, which donated $250,000 in 2007 and 2008, states the 2011 Center
for American Progress report “Fear, Inc: The Roots of the Islamophobia Network in America.”
In addition, IPT received large sums of money through the Counterterrorism & Security Education and Research Foundation.
“An examination of CTSERF’s 990 forms showed that, much like the Investigative Project, all grant
revenue was transferred to a private, for-profit entity, the
International Association of Counterterrorism and Security
Professionals,” according to the Center for American Progress.
Links to Zionist outfit
The scope of Emerson’s work over the years, as well as the funding
trail that emanates from Zionist sources, expose Emerson and the IPT as vociferous advocates for Israel and its racist occupation policies.
Nothing shows this more than a trail of emails between the Israeli
consulate in Boston and the pro-Israel David Project, which collaborated in attempts to stop the construction of a mosque in Boston in 2004. The emails were part of the discovery of a lawsuit stemming from
the incident.
In May 2004, Anna Kolodner, the executive director of the David
Project, wrote she would ask Emerson for information relating to a
lawsuit being planned against the Islamic Society of Boston.
On 4 August 2004, Kolodner wrote, “As a result of collaboration with
Steve Emerson’s office, we have a comprehensive document regarding the
individuals/organizations/history etc., of the mosque, which will be the backbone of the media campaign. … Filing the lawsuit would be the
initial lead/newsworthy component of the media angles.”
Then in September 2004, Kate Frazer of the Israeli consulate’s
political affairs office, sent an email verifying that she had been
working on a number of documents, one that was to be a magazine article, and another, the “‘local proof’ document with bullet points and the
sections we discussed, (i.e., people and associations, ideology, funding and actions).” This is the list purportedly Emerson supplied.
These emails have not been independently verified, but they were discussed in an article by Andrew Cochran, published by the IPT in 2008 (“Caught in the act: smear attempt on Steven Emerson boomerangs,” 13 March 2008).
The emails came to light because of a press release issued by Paul
Kendall from the organization Justice and Liberty for All, also in 2008. Kendall contended the emails show Emerson worked directly with the
Israeli consulate to stop the Boston mosque (“Paul Kendall: Did an ‘expert’ on terrorism conspire with a foreign
government to violate the constitutional rights of American Muslims?”, PR Newswire, 4 March 2008).
The emails do not show direct communication between Emerson and the
Israeli consulate. They do, however, show that the David Project was at
the center of the efforts to stop the mosque. The David Project
communicated with the Israeli consulate and with Emerson, but not
necessarily at the same time.
Nonetheless, Kolodner’s praise of Emerson for his help seriously
calls into question his motivations and suggests he is on a personal
crusade. Over the years, Emerson’s mission has been to thwart Muslims in general and to defame and discredit anyone working to promote
Palestinian human rights, specifically.
As long as there are advocates for Palestinian human rights, there
will be Zionist-funded ideologues like Emerson trying to shut them down. The best protection against these scurrilous attacks is to educate
ourselves about their motivations and funding trail and then expose them to the American public. The more we know about them, the less power and influence they wield.
Kristin Szremski is an independent journalist and currently the
director of media and communications for the American Muslims
for Palestine.

http://electronicintifada.net/content/why-terror-expert-attacking-us-solidarity-groups/10779

Plachimada: the struggle for water and … life!


Plachimada: the struggle for water and … life!

P M Ravindran, 7 January 2012

Plachimada is today synonymous with the struggle for right to life through water! There can be no dispute about the need for drinking water to sustain life. Nor can it be disputed that the right of human beings to this most essential need is inalienable. But what happens when a multinational company with tons of money (accumulated mostly through exploitative means world over!) and some people in government greedy for a handful of crumbs (from that loot) join hands? Plachimadas!

In the 1970s, Coca Cola was booted from India, albeit for political posturing by a prominent politician. Prior to that, also for political posturing, the term socialist was introduced in the Preamble of the Constitution. Though the Emergency evokes sharp responses in the northern states, Kerala actually took a liking to the discipline it enforced on the work force, especially public servants. Employees actually reached offices on time; red tape and corruption practically disappeared.

Much later, when Mr. P.V. Narasimha Rao took over the reins of the government in 1991, he was forced to mortgage the nation’s gold reserves to turn the economy around. That later became an excuse for uncontrolled foreign investments in India. I recall reading an analysis that had it not been for Narasimha Rao’s political maturity and wisdom, Manmohan Singh’s economic policies would have turned India into another Soviet Union where, following perestroika, people had been forced to queue up for a loaf of bread! Seems prophetic in retrospect!

Unfortunately for Kerala, it was the LDF government led by the CPI (M) that actually invited Coca Cola and Pepsi to invest in the state in 1999, with the promise of practically free water and electricity! Worse, the places these multinationals chose to set up their bottling plants were in the remote areas of Palakkad – Plachimada, an Adivasi belt and Pudussery, an industrial area, both separated by about 10 kms as the crow flies.

Both places fall in rain shadow regions in a state blessed with two monsoons spread over almost 6 months a year and 44 rivers that drain into the Arabian Sea! By a quirk of nature, though the availability of surface water is limited in both places, they are touted to share the second biggest aquifer in the state, and the MNCs had a priori knowledge of this from the satellite images collected by their governments! Activists associated with the struggle at Plachimada clearly remember the full page advertisement taken out by the then LDF government welcoming Coca Cola on setting up its plant at Plachimada! The plant became operational in March 2000.

Within a year of the plant going on steam, the locals started experiencing the adverse effects, with water availability declining and available water becoming polluted. The closer the dwellings were to the plant, the more severe the problems, leaving no doubt as to the source of the problems.

Complaints to the authorities not unexpectedly fell on deaf ears. The first protest was launched in front of the company office in February 2002. Finding no positive response from the company or the authorities, an indefinite protest was launched on 22 April 2002, led by Adivasi women Mayilamma and C.K. Janu.

As the protest gained momentum, the protestors – now organized as Plachimada Coca Cola Virudha Samara Samithi or The Plachimada Anti-Coca Cola Agitation Committee – and those supporting them, namely the Plachimada Coca Cola Virudha Samara Aikyadhardya Samithi or The Plachimada Anti-Coca Cola Agitation Solidarity Committee, fine-tuned their demands.

These boiled down to four non negotiables:
[1] The company should compensate the local people for the damages, [2] the company should be prosecuted for its crimes, [3] the local self governing bodies should be given the legal right to protect the natural resources within their jurisdiction and [4] necessary changes must be introduced in the Panchayati Raj and Pollution Control laws to ensure that situations like Plachimada never get repeated.

In an act that can only be understood as treason, all political parties joined hands and condemned this agitation. The only reason they could cite to incite the people was the possibility of loss of jobs for the handful of employees of the company!

All governmental authorities responsible for ensuring that the company functioned within internationally accepted parameters for safety and quality toed the politician’s line and gave false reports intended to help the company. However, well known activists like Medha Patkar visited the place and support for the local agitators kept growing and soon got international attention. Coca Cola was banned in many universities of the United States itself for human rights violations in third world countries!

A BBC team came and took samples of the effluents to the UK and announced that these contained heavy metals like lead and cadmium, far beyond permissible limits. Shockingly, the company was selling these very effluents to innocent farmers as fertilizers!

Around the same time, the Centre for Science and Environment came out with a report that the Cola drinks were themselves contaminated with pesticides. The sale of the colas was banned in the Parliament canteen! With elections round the corner, the local panchayat got into the act. In April 2003, the Panchayat refused to renew the company’s license, which unleashed a series of battles in the courts. 

The first petition was allowed by the courts with a direction to the Panchayat to give notice to the company, give it a hearing and then take a decision within 2 weeks. The Panchayat confirmed its decision not to renew the license. The company downed its shutters for the first time on 16 May 2003. It appealed to the Department of Local Self Government which stayed the order of the Panchayat and the company resumed production.

Meanwhile, a Joint Parliamentary Committee was set up to investigate the allegations of pesticides in the cola drinks. It confirmed the allegations of the CSE and BBC and the State Government ordered the company to stop production till the monsoon set in. The company refused and challenged the order in the courts, but was denied the stay it sought. Around this time, the World Water Day was organized at Plachimada. The company then started bringing water in tankers, which was resisted by the people.

It is important to quote two orders of the Kerala High Court here. The first one, by a single judge, held that water is a natural resource and cannot be over-exploited by any single entity. The second, by a division bench, overturned this order stating that ‘the right of a company to draw water from its property even for commercial purposes is the same as the right of an individual to draw water from his property for personal consumption’! The latter went to the extent of directing the Perumatty Panchayat to renew the license within two weeks and told the company that if the license was not renewed within this period, the company could take it as renewed and proceed accordingly!

The Panchayat, under threat of contempt of court, renewed the license conditionally. The three conditions imposed were: [1] no water should be drawn from within the panchayat, [2] the effluents should not be discharged and [3] the company should prove to the panchayat authorities that its products did not have any contamination. The company downed it shutters once again. The matter is now before the apex court.

With neither politicians nor judiciary inspiring confidence, the people of Plachimada had no choice but to persist with their struggle to assert their right over their natural resources. The struggles for justice of the project-affected people of Sardar Sarovar Dam and of the Bhopal Gas leak disaster victims, both on for over 25 years now, teach their own lessons.

Fortunately, Kerala’s political environment is different from the rest of the country and the swinging of fortunes between LDF and UDF helped bring politicians of all hues to Plachimada at some time or other and made them promise support. Both Oommen Chandy and V.S. Achuthanandan did so.

While the UDF wasted its tenure from 2001 to 2006 on blaming the LDF for bringing MNCs into the state, the LDF came back to power in 2006 with the promise of resolving the imbroglio within a month. But its first ban on production and sale of cola drinks was held invalid by the court.

But even while the Coca Cola factory at Plachimada remained closed due to the inability of the company to abide by the conditions set by the Panchayat, the Pepsi company, located in an industrial belt, continued production of soft drinks and over-exploitation of water without any hindrance!  

Finally, when the next elections loomed on the horizon, the Achuthanandan government set up a high powered committee to go into the issues at Plachimada. The committee was headed by an additional secretary to the Government of Kerala, K. Jayakumar, and assisted by experts from all relevant fields, the Pollution Control Board, Ground Water Authority etc. The committee submitted its report after nearly a year of intensive efforts. It said the company should be made to pay Rs 216 crore as compensation to the local people and to restore the ecology it had grossly polluted. A tribunal was to be set up to go through the claims and award compensation.

Smack on the eve of elections 2011, the Kerala Legislative Assembly unanimously passed a bill to constitute the tribunal. The Plachimada Coca Cola Victims Relief and Compensation Claims Special Tribunal Bill, 2011, was sent to the Central Government for the President’s assent. Opinion is divided on whether this was required or not. But suffice to say that after holding the Bill for over six months, the Union Home Ministry sent it back to the Government of Kerala seeking certain clarifications. With elections over, fears rose about the actual intentions of the Congress-led UPA at the Centre and the UDF in the State. Coca Cola had already been co-opted to provide drinking water in certain government hospitals in the State.

This has been seen as an effort to project the multinational company as a philanthropic entity amongst the population. Rumour mills have it that a Union Minister from the State had a major role in this effort, though the company itself is known to use all means available, ethical or otherwise, to discredit and even annihilate all opposition to its programs. As part of this effort it has challenged even the competence of the State Government to legislate such a Bill. The two advocates – K.K. Venugopal and Fali S. Nariman – employed to protect the company’s interests have spared no efforts. Fortunately, and thanks partly to the Right to Information Act, knowledgeable people have accessed the contentions of these advocates and repudiated each and every argument, partly blaming the false information on which their arguments were based.

The net effect of these omissions and commissions was that those agitating at Plachimada grew wary of the fate of the Bill and so decided to take the agitation to the next level, almost like Gandhi making salt in defiance of a colonial law. Thus, asserting the ultimate rights of citizens to justice, a march was organized to the company on 17 December 2011, and outwitting the police present in sufficient strength to protect the company and its assets, some of the protestors entered the premises and declared it ‘taken over’ by the people themselves!

Of course, all 22 including 4 women, were arrested. The magistrate granted them bail, but the protestors refused to accept bail and courted arrest. They were remanded for 7 days.

With this, satyagraha was launched in almost every district headquarters besides Plachimada, condemning the arrest and demanding that the state government intervene effectively to get the President’s assent to the Bill. It all seemed to fall on deaf ears. After 4 days in jail, the remanded activists declared they would fast until the government assured them that follow up action on the Bill would be taken up in earnest. They commenced their fast the next day.

Then came another shock - the Minister for Water Resources declared that the State Government had sent the Bill back to the Centre almost a month back, with appropriate explanations! That brought an end to the fast and the satyagraha at district headquarters. When produced before the magistrate on completion of the remand period, the arrested accepted bail and were given people’s receptions at Plachimada, Thrissur and Palakkad. But the battle lines remain.

The next phase could well be a Chengara like situation. In Chengara, landless Adivasis, fed up with false promises from their elected representatives, finally occupied a plantation and even held the police at bay by threatening to commit mass suicide after climbing on to tree tops with nooses around their necks.

Our current rulers can either neglect us as they have done to Irom Sharmila or cheat us as they have done in the cases of the Bhopal Gas victims or Kasargode Endosulphan victims! Chengara has shown one way to deal with such treason. Another way that seems to work is the way of the Naxalites or Maoists whose writ is supposed to run in one-third of the country!

Do we really want to push people into that arena of extremism? What should the ordinary citizen choose between the extremisms of corruption-cum-state terror on one side and opportunist outfits on the other?  Whichever choice he makes is hurtful for, as the saying goes, whether the leaf falls on the thorn or the thorn falls on the leaf it is the leaf that will be hurt! But ‘no pain, no gain’ is also a truism!


Major P M Ravindran (retd) is a social activist; he lives in Palakkad, Kerala

New Year Diary Vidya Balan turned up towards the end to claim credit, of course, but the truth is Indians watched the making of The Dirty Picture all year, this year...

New Year Diary
Vidya Balan turned up towards the end to claim credit, of course, but the truth is Indians watched the making of The Dirty Picture all year, this year...

The flop song
Vidya Balan turned up towards the end to claim credit, of course, but the truth is Indians watched the making of The Dirty Picture all year, this year. And strange as it may seem, it didn’t always feature a bombaat “Madrasan” heaving her heavies at the front-benchers but hamhanded actors from Harvard and Oxford inflicting their sadomasochistic moves on the public—and the Republic. Whether this is what the director wanted we do not know because no one has ever heard him shout ‘cut’. So, when the producer will pull out of such a foolhardy project and introduce a teenybopper is just a matter of time. But what if, like SRK’s film, Ra.One turns out to be a box-office dud?
You could extend the analogy and play on the puns endlessly to understand the “Kolaveri of the Kattle Klass” and emerge none the wiser. But suffice it to say, in the very year West Asia took a giant leap towards democracy via Tahrir, South Asia’s biggest was taking baby steps out of it via Tihar—mocking the rage of the middle classes, smearing dissidents, blocking protests, thrashing protesters, attacking constitutional bodies, choking the media, even fiddling with Facebook.
As The Great Reformer bookended by the euphoria of 1991 and the FDI crash of 2011 sits back to watch Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara at the end of an annus horribilis of missed opportunities, surely there is no harm asking if he would be buying shares of UPA-II were it a listed company?

United tastes of India
Over 35 pages in this issue, Outlook’s “Tongue Parivar” licks their way through the nation’s alimentary canal, but the one place we didn’t stop by is that microcosm of secular India in the year gone by: the cold walls of Asia’s biggest slammer. Netas and chamchas; fixers and factotums; entrepreneurs and executives; Brahmins, Muslims, Marwaris, Kayasthas, Nairs, Thakurs, Dalits; from north, west and south—all adorned its air with their effluent, and checked out before the real winter set in.
It might all seem small (and yucky) in hindsight, but a potluck of such varying cuisines—Udupi, Mughlai, Jain, coastal—in a place whose staple is roti-sabzi is not to be sniffed at. Indeed, for a populace that had been persuaded to believe that those with red lights over their crania were beyond law’s long limb, this was a signpost moment: it showed at once the cause—and the effect—of the establishment response to the anti-corruption movement unfolding nightly on television.
Not surprisingly, a regime that couldn’t tie its pyjama strings without tripping over itself sent the very symbol of the “Occupy Tihar” movement to reside with the crooked and the corrupt. If there is anything that might please Anna Hazare’s supporters as a new dawn looms for the Lokpal, it is the delectable prospect that the 170-plus IQ genius who sent him there could soon arrive to taste some home-cooked Chettinad fare.

Crime and punishment
Like George Orwell, the Bihar-born oracle he considered master, Christopher Hitchens had an India link: his father’s father had been a foot-soldier in the Indian army during the first world war, something he revealed in perhaps the only one major article he ever wrote for an Indian publication. Getting Hitchens to write was easy; receiving his piece wasn’t. Uncharacteristically, he realised on deadline day that he had forgotten all about it.

For Christopher’s sake: A piece on tap
“How much time do we have?” he asked on the phone. Three hours, I said. “Okay. I am getting into a plane. Talk to you soon,” he said in that trademark staccato. Two hours later, the 2,156-word piece was in the inbox as promised with the trademark sign-off, “Herewith. Hope it serves. As always, Christopher.”
He hadn’t set any terms for payment, but when a small confusion arose thanks to Outlook’s notorious accountants, Hitchens went ballistic, threatening to out us among “all your friends”. No amount of persuasion was enough to convince him that the cheque was really “in the mail”. When it did finally reach him, he was soft as a teddy, apologising profusely for losing his cool.
Two years later, when we met in Washington, he coined a new nickname for yours truly: Crime. Because crime doesn’t pay. And promptly proceeded to pick up the tab for an all-liquid lunch.

What’s in a mane?
As Rahul Dravid’s 6,403-word masterly oration inspires oohs and aahs, time to remember his idol, Gundappa Vishwanath’s understated humour. On his first tour Down Under many moons ago, Venkataraghavan introduced Richie Benaud to the young batsman already making waves. “Surely, you know him,” said Venkat. “Yesh, of courshe,” said the voice of Australian cricket, “Vishnawath, right?”
Then, turning to Vishy, Venkat said, “And surely you know him?” Yes, said Vishy: “Richie Bednau.”

Mumbai - BMC Elections on 16th February 2012 Stand up and Fight foryour City - Come forward and Campaign for Lok Satta Candidates

The dates for the BMC elections have been announced. Now it is up to you
whether you want things to continue as they are or you want to step forward
and take charge. Some brave hearts have stepped forward to fight for Lok
Satta's agenda of reforms and Vision of Mumbai. Support them in all ways.
Remember it is not just their or Lok Satta's fight. This once beautiful
vibrant city is a national treasure and all of us must step forward to stop
its downward spiral. Remember your next chance will come only after five
years.

Lokpal Legislation Debate Require Calmer Consideration

With compliments from People's Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL)

Lokpal Legislation Debate Require Calmer Consideration
Rajindar Sachar
The debate in Parliament on the proposed Lokpal legislation has unfortunately touched a low nadir; instead of discussing the legislation in a sober atmosphere and with conscious effort to arrive at as much consensus as possible, the parties instead indulged in mutual attacks.
Governments furtive slip in of various quotas including the minorities was a deliberate ploy with on eye on U.P. Elections, notwithstanding the doubt on legality of it expressed by former Supreme Court Judges and jurists. Could even any one imagine that the selection committee of Prime Minister, leader of opposition, irrespective of their party affiliation and non political Chief Justice of India that they would not include as members from the amongst Muslims, and women, when any number of them are available on their own merit. Why this non issue was loud mouthed unless it is a device to stall the Lokpal legislation. Let us not forget that these Mulayam / Lallu groups were the ones who sabotaged women Reservation bill by wantonly insisting a sub quota in Women Reservation Bill thus embarrassing Sonia Gandhi and Sushma Swaraj who had earlier without any embarrassment embraced and congratulated each other at their victory in Lok Sabha, but had to beat a retreat in Rajya Sabha
The suggestion that if there are any allegations against the Prime Minister they would be decoratively pigeon holded and brought out after he had remitted office (which may be even 5 years later) does not make any sense, Are we living in a democracy or under a kingship who was supposed to be a representative of Divine. Recently a sitting Prime Minister of Italy who was forced to resign on corruption charge proved against him by a court magistrate.
Similarly Chirac, Prime minister of France has been sentenced to 7 years and the President of Israel being sent to jail on the grounds of moral impropriety.
The most contentions matter of C.B.I. remains unresolved. His appointment should be by a joint committee consisting of Lokpal and the standing committee of Parliament. Give C.B.I. director a fixed tenure for say five or 10 years. He should have full administrative control over the staff of C.B.I. and earmarked funds from the consolidated fund. There would be no interference with his day to day from the Central Government or Lokpal. However Lokpal would be entitled to ask or and receive reports from him at regular intervals and also authorized to convey its decisions on such matters. He shall not be removed from service except in the manner and on like grounds as a judge of the Supreme Court – the same manner of removal applies to the removal of Chief Election Commissioner.
I for one would not limit the choice necessarily to a police official and it could even be from outside the service. If it is decided to have a Chief Vigilance Commissioner, the same conditions and procedure will apply as applicable to Director of C.B.I.
Surprisingly not withstanding bitter wrangling on other aspects all members of the Parliament are unanimously agreeing to keep themselves immune from the ambit of Lokpal or even Directors C.B.I. for their corrupt actions and bribery if it is done inside the Parliament. To me this is scandalous and unacceptable.
In their defence Members of parliament invoke Article 105 of the Constitution, and the widely criticized majority judgment of (3 against 2) on in Narsimma Rao case (1999) (I believe the matter is referred to a larger bench).
The minority Judgment however warned that this interpretation could lead to charter for corruption so as to elevate Members of Parliament as “super-citizens, immune from criminal responsibility”. It would indeed be ironic if a claim for immunity from prosecution founded on the need to ensure the independence of Members of parliament in exercising their right to speak or cast their vote in Parliament, could be put forward by a Member who has bartered away his independence by agreeing to speak or vote in a particular manner in lieu of illegal gratification that has been paid or promised. By claiming the immunity such a Member would only be seeking a licence to indulge in such corrupt conduct. In other countries such a conduct of MPs is treated as criminal, since 1875 in Australia.
To invoke Article 253 of the constitution for enacting Lok Ayukat is of doubtful legality and imperishable in our federal set up. Surely no state can resist the public sentiment built for Lok Ayukat.
The matter of Lokpal is too important and needs to be discussed more seriously and not under pressure of forth coming elections in Punjab and especially of U.P. Also the panicky reaction of Central government to Anna Hazare threat of fast compounded by the opposition wanting to cash on it when they went to Anna Hazare sit in to cooze upto him. Their puerile excuse that they wanted to explain their point of view is unacceptable Political Parties hold their own meetings to explain their position to the public. We go to Jantar Mantar to show our solidarity with the victims of forced displacement, and the illegal actions of the government on the deprived poor. The parties do not go to the sit in of a person they are now wanting to deride and ridicule. Of course I agree that Anna Hazare has full rights to muster support and arouse masses and exercise his democratic rights – and to put pressure on the government and even the parliament, to pass a particular law because the ultimate sovereign are the people. But there is a caveat that this discussion requires a calmer atmosphere. Could the parties unanimously agree to adjourn the discussions to be after the pressure of U.P. Elections is over with a pledge to pass the legislation as first item when it begins the next session.
As a measure of his genuine concern for strong Lokpal Anna Hazare, on his part, one hopes would reciprocate by not going on fast. He can rest assured that peoples determination to have a strong Lokpal is not so weak, as to let government avoid its solemn pledge to pass the bill in the next session of the parliament – if the government further prevaricates it most know that consequences could be monumental and no government can remain in permanent confrontation with its real masters, the people of India.
DATED: 28/12/2011
New Delhi.
ECONOMY
Development Dominoes
How a handful moved for (or against) their pet projects

Economy Predictions
Inflation forecasts for 2012
“Inflation will be around 7-7.3% by March 31. Beyond that we tentatively expect inflation to ease to 6-6.5% by December-end.” —Abheek Barua, HDFC Bank
“Definitely inflation will head down for the first time in two years to below 7% by March-end. During 2012-13, inflation should average 7%.” —D.K. Joshi, CRISIL

“Generalised inflation could dip below 7% but March seems too early for it to happen due to factors like impact of crude oil and high interest rates.” —Sanjay Kaul, NCMS
“Inflation for the year-end is expected to be 7.2%, while the average for 2012-13 could be 6.7%, although the Rupee might pose some further risk.” —N.R. Bhanumurthy, D-School

RIL Corrupting - Hindi, English, Telgu, Tamil & Marathi Media

RIL Corrupting - Hindi, English, Telgu, 

Tamil & Marathi Media 

RIL Corrupting - Hindi, English, Telgu, Tamil & Marathi Media 
 
To, Honorable Members of Parliament, 
 
Media investments should be regulated by Press Council and Broadcaster Regulation but when Rs.1500 crores as equity is invested by a Corporate in India it Over Powers the Broadcasting in India. 
 
Karlo Media Muthi Mein kind. 
 
‘Network18 Media & Investments Limited is a media conglomerate, with interests in television, print, Internet, filmed entertainment, mobile content and allied businesses. The Company is engaged in events/sports management and investment/management advisory services. The company, as of March 31, 2011, jointly with Network 18 India Holdings Private Limited held a 48.98% interest in Television Eighteen India Ltd (TV18), and jointly with RVT Investments Private Ltd, Network 18 India Holdings Private Limited and RRB Investments Pvt.Ltd. held a 50.64% interest in ibn18 Broadcast Limited (ibn18). Through its holding in TV18, it operates business news television channels, CNBC-TV18 and CNBC Awaaz. It also runs the Internet player, Web18, as well as a real time financial information and news terminal, Newswire18. Through its holding in ibn18, it operates in the general news and entertainment space with news channels, CNN-IBN, IBN7 and has IBN Lokmat, a Marathi
news channel.’ 
 
Already for Decades RIL is notorious for Corrupting Media and earlier when it fell out with GOI it introduced ‘Observer Newspaper’. 
 
When it is again under Pressure from GOI for Inflating Capitalization and Poor performance of Oil & Gas, subsidy cuts in case of Refineries etc RIL has preferred to Dominate Broadcast Media. 
 
Already through regulating ‘Advertising for Friendly Broadcasters’ RIL enjoys considerable control but with Rs.1500 crores investment in Hindi, English, Telgu and Tamil Broadcasters it shall have Considerable Media Control across India. 
   
Reliance Industries to invest over Rs 1,500 crore in TV18 Group
3 JAN, 2012, 
 
MUMBAI: Reliance Industries is embarking on a major diversification into the media and entertainment sector with the Mukesh Ambani firm agreeing to fund a transaction that will result in a sizeable stake for itself in a company controlling two of the industry's largest businesses, the Network18 Group and the Eenadu Group of channels run by the Hyderabad-based Ramoji Rao. 

People close to the transaction, which has a number of stages, told ET that an RIL subsidiary will help the promoter group of Network18 fund the rights issues of its two listed entities, Network18 Media and Investments, which runs the portal moneycontrol.com, and TV18 Broadcast Ltd, which operates a number of business and general news channels, notably CNBC TV18 and CNN-IBN. 

ET was not able to independently verify the amount to be invested by RIL, but people with direct knowledge of the transaction estimated it to be more than Rs 1,500 crore. The money from RIL will help Raghav Bahl, the promoter of the TV18 Group, subscribe to the rights issues of both the listed companies, Network18 and TV18. The full amount expected to be raised through the rights issues is estimated at over Rs 3,500 crore. 

The boards of TV18 Broadcast and Network18 Media will meet on Tuesday to discuss plans for a rights issue. Raghav Bahl did not respond to an email questionnaire; a Reliance group spokesperson also remained silent, while B Sai Kumar, the CEO of Network18, declined comment. 

Times NOW and ET NOW, owned by Bennett, Coleman & Co. Ltd, the publisher of this paper, compete with some of the television channels owned by Bahl. The strategic investment by RIL will be used by the Network18 Group to retire debt and eventually buy out RIL's stake in Eenadu, the pan-India vernacular language channels owned by Ramoji Rao. 

RIL sources said they had invested Rs 2,600 crore in the Eenadu Group through a subsidiary giving it ownership of all businesses apart from its Telugu channel, in which it owns 49%. The transaction, once complete, will result in RIL recovering most of its investments in Eenadu. Messages and an email sent after business hours to the office of Ch Kiron, the managing director of Ushodaya Enterprises, the holding company of the Eenadu Group, did not elicit any response. 

By its own admission before the Andhra Pradesh High Court, Reliance Industries has said it has invested Rs 2,600 crore in entities of Nimesh Kampani-led JM Financial Group, which in turn had invested in Ushodaya Enterprises. The AP High Court is hearing a petition alleging the investment was a payoff to N Chandrababu Naidu, the former chief minister of Andhra Pradesh, an allegation RIL has denied in its affidavit. RIL's deal with Bahl, likely to be announced on Tuesday, is expected to create a powerful national news and entertainment company spanning several regional languages as well as English and Hindi. 

RIL to get Exclusive Rights to Content 

RIL, people close to the transaction said, is expected to hold an economic interest equivalent to a 30% stake in the promoter group of companies, with the original promoter Bahl owning 51% and all voting rights. 

Further, RIL will have exclusive rights to content from 30 channels and web properties of the two media houses, which will lend a competitive edge to its broadband services to be rolled out later this year. 

RIL is laying the groundwork for national 4G broadband services expected to be launched sometime this year. Content for broadband services is generally outsourced, but RIL will have an advantage over others with this transaction which will give its subscribers a wide variety of channels ranging from general entertainment to news and movies. 

Earlier on Monday, Sai Kumar, in a letter to all employees of TV18, hinted at a solution to the group's debt problems. "Let me also take this opportunity to tell you that we are very close to addressing our debt levels and related issues which have been reported by various media in the last few weeks. We will learn the details from Raghav pretty soon," said Sai Kumar, who took over as CEO after the sudden resignation recently of long-time CEO Haresh Chawla. 

The money is likely to be invested directly in companies controlled by Raghav Bahl, such as RB Holding Pvt Ltd and RB Investments Pvt Ltd. These companies own 30.34% stake in Network18 Media while Bahl holds 9.03% in his name. Network18, in turn, is the main shareholder in TV18 Broadcast with a 49.98% stake. The two companies have suffered heavily in the downturn triggered by the financial crisis of 2008-09. While revenue growth has been strong, profits have plummeted and borrowings have soared. 

At the end of March 2011, Network18 had debt of Rs 1,777.89 crore. Its profit for that year fell 87.27%. TV18's debt stood at Rs 550.54 crore while profit fell 17.40%. The markets have punished the two companies. Network18' s market cap is down 171.57% since January 5, 2009 while TV18's has fallen 560.23% in the same period. Bahl's companies also have a distribution joint venture with the Chennai-based Sun Group, called Sun18. It is not known if Sun's channels, among the strongest in the south, are a part of this arrangement. American giant Viacom too has a joint venture with Bahl for producing movies.