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Saturday 22 October 2011

Which adivasi? What India?

Posted on 20 October 2011
Gladson Dungdung
Which adivasi? What India?
Mainstream India thinks of Adivasis as a monolithic commmunity. As Gladsong Dungdung argues, the controversy around the Gandhi Peace Prize shows a need for rethinking these definitions
By Gladson Dungdung
Binayak Sen
Binayak Sen

Adivasis (Indian tribes) have always been neglected and faced decades of government apathy whether it concerns their upliftment or recognition for any extra-ordinary work by the community’s leaders. The London-based Gandhi Foundation recently faced heat of Adivasi organisations after the politics behind the Gandhi Foundation International Peace Award 2011, which is awarded by the foundation, surfaced. The top story on the home page of the organisation’s website reads, “Gandhi Foundation International Peace Award 2011 will be presented to Dr. Binayak Sen and Bulu Imam”. Interestingly, it was mentioned earlier that the award would be presented to Adivasis of India, on behalf of whom Sen and Imam would receive the honour. But the photograph showing two Adivasi women painting on the wall of a community dwelling has not been removed stressing the strong connection between the indigenous community and the Award. Perhaps, the award this year would lose its meaning if the Adivasi connection is completely severed.
Needless to say that the Gandhi Foundation recognises the extraordinary, non-violent work of any individual or group through the international peace award every year, but unfortunately, the organisation didn’t find any extraordinary person in the peace-loving Adivasi community. For the first time, the foundation is facing controversy with Adivasi organisations--Jharkhand Indigenous People’s Forum and Jharkhand Human Rights Movement—protesting the absence of names of any recipient from their community, for whom the award was initially declared in July 2011.
The Adivasi organisations wrote a letter of protest to the foundation’s president Lord Richard Attenborough welcoming the announcement of the award for Adivasis. But they also protested strongly the absence of names of any Adivasi recipient in the award list. “It is extremely painful to know that the foundation has decided to award a renowned doctor and civil rights activist Binayak Sen and Bulu Imam on behalf of Adivasis of India. We have high respect for both the recipients. However, we would not like them to receive the award on behalf of Adivasis of India,” they wrote. They appealed to him to uphold the dignity of Adivasis by changing either the wording or selecting bestowing the award on someone else.
The organisations also wrote a letter to Sen and Imam appealing them either to not receive the award or write to the foundation to change the wording associated with the award before they receive it. In response to the letter, Sen wrote, “We understand your sentiments and feelings. You have raised important issues and questions, and this discussion is extremely important at this juncture. The extended public profiling has never been at our initiative and we would happily step back to a less fractured existence, one that has played havoc with our personal lives.”
He further wrote, “However, we have used this profiling to raise issues related to the dysfunctional developmental policies and their effects on the lives and concerns of the people of India, which has meant that we have often spoken of people we know most closely, the toiling people and Adivasis of central India. At no point, have we claimed to represent Adivasis.”
Similarly, Imam also responded, “In my opinion, the award should be given to him individually and not on behalf of the tribal people of India. I do not represent the tribal people of India, and never claimed to do so.”
The Adivasi organisations used the virtual media to gather massive support for their protest. Noted film maker Anand Patwardhan wrote, “What you wrote is true, but I think it is equally important to point out that someone like Binayak Sen, whom I know personally to be one of the most modest and self-effacing people I have met, would never knowingly usurp an honour meant for Adivasis.” Similarly, social activist Swami Agnivesh wrote, “I fully endorse the sentiments of my eminent Adivasi colleagues.”
Some responses addressed concerns beyond the award like how Adivasis are always neglected, underestimated and denied everything though they well-deserving. Renowned academician and social activist professor Nandini Sundar of Delhi University wrote, “I fully support you on the award question--in fact, I had privately pointed this out earlier to someone. I would also like to point out that the person who has done the maximum for the Salwa Judum issue is Manish Kunjam, leader of the Adivasi Mahasabha, but sadly this fact has never been recognised.”
Similarly, Phil Carter, teacher at Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University (Kyushu, Japan) writes, “I agree too. I recommended his (Bulu Imam) nomination based on my knowledge of his individual work which is exemplary and following the highest ideals of non-violence. I stand by this nomination of this outstanding work and also request the Gandhi Foundation to change the wording of the award.”
A British photographer Robert Wallis wrote, “Considering the nature of work both Bulu and Dr. Sen have been doing, and the growing violence against Adivasi across the mining states, the Gandhi Foundation decided that they would award them on behalf of Adivasis. Although their intentions were honourable, the foundation has now realised it was a mistake.”
London-based international organisation Voice of Dalit International (VODI) supported the caused and wrote to the foundation and the recipients. The organisation is preparing to protest in front of Amnesty International on November 9. Eugene Culas of VODI wrote to Sen and Imam requesting them to accept the award based on their own merits and asked the foundation to delete the term ‘Adivasis’ from the list of recipients. Finally, the Foundation made some changes to avoid further protests.
The most interesting thing is though both Sen and Imam denied representing Adivasis, none of them have declined to receive the award. Instead, Sen suggested a carefully crafted line for the award: “Award will be given to Dr. Sen for his work among tribal people”. Besides, both Sen and Imam never suggested any changes to the foundation until the Adivasi organisations protested. If they really care about the sentiments of Adivasis, why didn’t they decline to receive the award on their behalf, or suggest the name of any Adivasi leader for the honour?
According to the British campaigner Max Galstaun, if the award is meant for Adivasis, they should receive it. When he asked the foundation about the anomaly, they shot back, “Does any Adivasi speak English?” It clearly shows the perception of international visitors and Indians who represent Adivasis in foreign countries about the community.
How can an international organisation decide to hand over the award to non-Adivasis when there are number of leaders from the community like Munni Hansada, Soma Guria, Dayamani Barla, Kumar Chand Mardi, CK Janu and many others who have won fights against corporate sharks trying to uproot these tribal communities, and devoted their lives for the promotion and protection of their identity, tradition, culture, autonomy, dignity and livelihood resources? How can few people receive award on behalf of another community? Why Adivasi leaders who have done commendable work for the community go unrecognised?
Meanwhile, I got a news saying, “The Gandhi Foundation has changed the wording of the award and Dr. Binayak Sen and Bulu Imam will be given the International Gandhi Peace Award 2011 for their extraordinary work for the Adivasis of India.” We clapped because we had won the battle, but did we really win? Sadanand Patwardhan sent me an e-mail supporting the campaign, but also reminded me of a painful poem by Adivasi poet Vahru Sonawane that explains the apathy the community faces.
We never went on the stage that was made in our name
They did not invite us
They pointed with their finger
And showed us our place
We sat there
They appreciated us
They were narrating to us
Our own vows and sorrows
Which were ours and never theirs
We had some doubts
We murmured
They heard us attentively and sighed
They twisted our ears and sai –
Apologise… or you will be…
Gladson Dungdung is an Adivasi activist from Jharkhand.

Muslims, SC/ STs gained most: HDI report

India's Human Development Index (HDI) showed an impressive gain of 21% between 1999-2000 and 2007-08 with the Muslims and the backwards catching up with others on socio-economic indicators even though the gap was still very big.��

A Planning Commission report released a day before Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is meeting of chief ministers to decide on plan approach for next five years (12th plan) says the Muslims and Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Scheduled Tribes (ST) were converging on health and education outcomes at a faster rate with the national average, especially during last six years.

The report also said that Gujarat, described as epitome for development by BJP, had highest incidence of malnutrition among Muslim, SC and ST women and was ranked 13 out of 17 states on hunger index, below much poorer Orissa, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal and Assam.�

"Inspite of high economic growth Gujarat fares the worst in terms of overall hunger index among high per capita income states," said Santosh Mehrotra, Director-General of the plan panel's Institute of Applied Manpower Research.�

The report findings had panel's deputy chairperson Montek Singh Ahluwalia beaming who said it presents a "nice picture" and said inclusiveness was multi-dimensional and the report clearly shows how "growth has helped to reduce poverty".

Mehrotra agreed but his alarm was that the number of poor has come down by just 19 million since 1973-74 --- when poverty was measured for the first time in India --- to be around 302 million in 2004-05.�

The report said poverty among SC and ST remain much higher than the national average, an area of concern for policy makers. On the brighter note, the report said these backward sections, considered lowest on ten socio-economic indicators such as monthly spending, infant and maternal mortality rate and fertility rate, were converging with the national average on six of these indicators.�

"Fertility rate among Muslim women had witnessed maximum dip among different social groups and higher share of Muslim infants compared to national average lived beyond their first birth day," the report having special focus on Muslims among different religious groups said.��

Over 55 % of Muslims, SC and STs live in poorest HDI score states --- Bihar, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and West Bengal --- who have gained the most from "social inclusion through economic growth".

"The average growth of most of these states has been above the national GDP growth rate suggesting convergence over time in terms of economic growth," the report said. Maximum progress these states have made is enrollment of children in schools and increase in per capita income.��

Child malnutrition, termed as a "puzzle" by Rural Development minister Jairam Ramesh, was an exception to this social inclusion phenomenon with children in 17 of 35 Indian states having higher malnourishment rate than in Sub-Saharan Africa. 

CBI probe demanded into Rs 20K cr education scam

CBI probe demanded into Rs 20K cr education scam

TNN | Oct 21, 2011, 04.34AM IST

YAVATMAL: The Maharashtra Navnirman Sena ( MNS) and other social organizations have demanded a CBI probe into bogus enrolment figures in state aided schools, which has allegedly cost the state Rs 20,000 crore.
The statewide survey of students in Standard I to XII conducted between October 3 to 5 this year under the direct supervision of district collectors has reportedly exposed a scam worth Rs 20,000 crore. All this money was pocketed by school managements by showing inflated figures of enrolment.
Sources in the education department said Yavatmal alone has bogus enrolment of over 90,000 students. However, district collector Shravan Hardikar only said the data has already been submitted to the state. He refused to give the exact number of bogus students found in the district. "I cannot spell out the nature of action to be taken against the managements guilty of maintaining exaggerated rolls," Hardikar said, adding that he is waiting for the state's directives.
Meanwhile, district president of students wing of Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) Anil Hamdapure has sent a memorandum to chief minister Prithviraj Chavan, demanding criminal cases against school managements, headmasters and district education officers for cheating the government.
Hamdapure also said the managements exaggerated student figures and then got permission to appoint more teachers by auctioning these posts. He said these teachers should also be sacked and salary paid to them recovered from the school management.
President of Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti Kishor Tiwari has also moved a plea before Prime MinisterManmohan Singh demanding a CBI probe into the Rs 20,000 crore education scam, or threatened to approach the high court with a public interest litigation.
Kishor Tiwari said most schools and colleges are under the management of political leaders, who are making hectic efforts to hush up the issue. "Yavatmal is the home district of former education minister Vasant Purke and current education minister Rajendra Darda, and the government should book all politicians for cheating the government and pinching public money," he said.

Treat Soni Sori in Kolkata, court tells Chhattisgarh

NEW DELHI, October 21, 2011

Treat Soni Sori in Kolkata, court tells Chhattisgarh


Prima facie injuries do not seem as simple as has been made out to be: Bench
The Supreme Court on Thursday directed the Chhattisgarh government to get tribal teacher Soni Sori treated in the NRS Medical College and Hospital in Kolkata for the injuries she sustained in police custody.
A Bench of Justices Altamas Kabir, H.L. Dattu and C.K. Prasad passed this interim order on her writ petition, alleging she was tortured after she was arrested from Delhi. Prima facie the injuries “do not seem as simple as it was made out,” the Bench said and asked the director of the hospital to submit a report by November 15.
On Wednesday, government counsel Atul Jha said there was no objection to Chhattisgarh getting Ms. Sori medically examined in any other State. On Thursday, the Bench, while accepting the State's submission, also issued notice seeking its response to her other allegations.
While the Chhattisgarh police claimed Ms. Sori fell down in a bathroom, the petitioner alleged she was on the verge of death due to torture in custody. Ms. Sori sought quashing of the cases foisted on her and another person, Lingaram, as they refused to give evidence against fellow villagers and make false statements that they were Maoists. She prayed for transferring her case to Delhi and setting up a Special Investigation Team to probe the cases against her.

Kashmir, Ultra Nationalists and Path to Peaceful Solution

Kashmir, Ultra Nationalists and Path to Peaceful Solution

Ram Puniyani

The condemnable attack on Supreme Court Lawyer and ‘team Anna’ member Prashant Bhushan on 12th October 2011, threw up many a questions. To begin with the attackers were congratulated by ‘ultra Nationalists’ like Bal Thackeray of Shiv Sena, showing the gross intolerance around certain issues in our society, more particularly those related to Kashmir and other issues being raised by those who have been practicing the sectarian politics. It does reflect the growing intolerance in the society without doubt.

This attack took place in the aftermath of the statement of Prashant Bhushan regarding his opinion that the option of referendum as suggested by UN way back can be the way to solve the Kashmir problem. In the aftermath of this dastardly attack on him the cracks also surfaced in team Anna and most of the members of the team disowned his opinion to the extent that the move to expel Bhushan from team Anna has came up.  Anna Hazare, displaying his ‘mastery’ on Nationalism and History asserted that Kashmir is the inseparable pat of India from times immemorial. Some of those asserting ‘Kashmir as the inseparable part of India’ also resorted to saying that Bhushan should be treated as anti National as his opinion violated the position of Indian Constitution.

Historically and constitutionally the things are not as straightforward about Kashmir. One knows that Kashmir was acceded to India after Pakistan’s army dressed as tribal invaded Kashmir. Kashimiri people did not want to merge with Pakistan. This attitude of Kashmiri people was reflected in the opinion of National Conference led by Sheikh Abdullah. It was at this juncture that Maharaja Harisingh, the King of Kashmir, signed the treaty of accession with India. This treaty was subject to ratification by the people of Kashmir, for which as suggested later by UN; a referendum was to be held. So, the first point should be straight and clear that ‘Kashmir has been part of India form all the times’, is not true. It acceded with India in 1948. The treaty of accession gave a total autonomy to Kashmir, barring the issues related to defense, communication, external affairs and currency.

The problem began with the demand by communal forces in India, as articulated prominently by Shyama Prasad Mukherjee of Hindu Mahasabha, to forcibly merge Kashmir into India and make it like any other state. The impact of communal forces around this time was also witnessed in the form of murder of Father of the Nation, Mahatma Gandhi. This continuous pressure from communal forces affected the attitude of Indian Government. The Government gradually went on withdrawing the autonomy clauses, and kept on tampering with the process of elections in the state. This resulted in the process of alienation of people of Kashmir. Sheikh Abdullah who was uncomfortable with the moves of Government of India, tried to rethink his decision about accession to India, but he was soon imprisoned and languished in jail for 17 long years.

The alienated youth of Kashmir were assisted by the Pakistani establishment, which had its own vested interests. Pakistan was totally backed up by the United States, which pursued the policies to encourage the turmoil in the area, leading to the violence. US has so far been using Pakistan as its proxy in the region to dominate the oil rich area. This process got worsened with the entry of Al Qaeda and its clones in Kashmir in the decades of 1980s. Entry of Al Qaeda communalized the situation and undermined the spirit of Kashmiriyat, the major culture of Kashmir. Kashmiriyat is a synthesis of teachings of Buddha, Vedanta and Sufi tradition of Islam. When militancy in Kashmir reached its peak, one of the tragic outcomes of this was mass exodus of Kashmiri Pundits. A large number of Muslim families as well also had to leave the valley.

Mostly the ruling party or coalitions at the Center tried to influence and rig the elections in Kashmir, undermining the democratic process till quite long. Indian Government faced the situation by sending more and more armed forces in the valley and today there is huge presence of military in the area. The presence of military has affected the civilian life to a great extent, due to which Kashmiris have been living in an intensely intimidating atmosphere. Military has committed large number of excesses in the area. Today the people of Kashmir are the victims of the local militancy; Al Qaeda-Pakistan promoted terrorism and the high handed actions of Indian army. The perception of Kashmiris has also been shaped by this phenomenon. A discomforting mix! It is due to all this that the dissatisfaction of the people gets manifested by the ‘stone throwers’ and actions like that.

In this context various ‘solutions’ have been presented to ease out the situation. While the separatists want Azadi, People’s Democratic Party of Mahbooba Mufti wants ‘self-rule’ and National Conference (Farooq Abdulla) wants the autonomy to be restored in the valley. The solution of referendum has been one of the major demands all through. Today six decades down the line it is doubtful if this can a realistic solution at all as Pakistan has also been playing its own games in Pakistan occupied Kashmir, euphemistically called Azad Kashmir, where there is hardly any Azadi in true sense of the word. The demand for referendum was surely a need in the decade of 1950s, as it was committed while signing the accession treaty. The commitment was that the accession will have to be ratified by the opinion of Kashmiri people. Today decades later the social and political situations have so much changed that we will have to reconcile only to strengthening of democratic process in Kashmir with its existing LOC to begin with. Referendum is neither realistic nor possible today.

It is in this context that the effort of Government of India to appoint three interlocutors in the area has to be seen. In the repot of interlocutor’s emphases is on the socio economic problems of the region, skirting the political issues involved. It correctly focuses on the need for employment generation schemes, education and other measures, which are the need of the state. While Bhushan’s stand about plebiscite may be a bit of an over kill, still it has been the aspiration of many a Kashmiri groups. The situation is to be viewed today in the context of changing global equation between US-Pakistan, the evolution of democratic process in Kashmir and the perpetuation of the causes of genesis of the militancy in Kashmir. The major cause of militancy-alienation has been the attempt to forcibly merge the state with India, by demanding the abolition of Article 370 of the Indian Constitution. This incidentally has been a major demand of the communal forces in the country.   

The likes of Hazare and Thackeray’s have forgotten the recent history of the nation, if at all they knew it, and are blinded by their version of nationalism. The need is to ensure that the issue is seen in the proper historical and Constitutional context with the aim to ease the sufferings of Kashmiri people.

Issues in Secular Politics
II October 2011

Friday 21 October 2011

Disinvestment: Fiscally challenged, govt chalks new selloff plan

20 OCT, 2011, 12.26AM IST, ET BUREAU

Disinvestment: Fiscally challenged, govt chalks new selloff plan

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NEW DELHI: The government will be hard pressed to meet its fiscal deficit goal, Pranab Mukherjee said on Wednesday, as the finance ministry tries a new tack to achieve another key target that could prove elusive - disinvestment.

Mukherjee's statement at a conference of economic editors on Wednesday is the first official admission that the fiscal deficit goal of 4.6% of the GDP for the year ending March 2012 may be too ambitious.

"With crude (oil) prices remaining where they are, it will be a great challenge to maintain the fiscal deficit numbers at 4.6% this year. However, we will make strenuous attempts to keep fiscal deficit at around these numbers," he said.

Projections by the government in recent months have gone consistently awry as India feels the impact of a global economic slowdown and volatile commodity prices. Inflation, a bugbear for any ruling party, has defied government expectations and remained uncomfortably high over many months. While economic expansion stalls, the government has been beset by a series of corruption scandals, leading to accusations that it has lost its nerve, leaving policymaking in a limbo.

With stock markets in a sour mood, the government is huffing and puffing to meet the disinvestment target of Rs 40,000 crore. With only Rs 1,145 crore in its kitty so far from disinvestment, the government is considering open auctions of small portions of the stock it owns in state-run companies instead of share sales through public offers, a finance ministry official said.

But the disinvestment policy does not allow such a method and so the ministry could soon ask the cabinet to approve the new approach, the official said. If the fiscal deficit goal is not met, it may imply that the government will even exceed the revised target for borrowing in the second half of the fiscal year. Earlier this month, the government said it would borrow Rs 52,800 crore more than budgeted in the latter half, but maintained this was only to meet the shortfall in small savings and fiscal deficit would not be affected.

But the financial markets have not been buying the government's fiscal deficit promises. "The bond market is already factoring in a fiscal deficit of up to 5.3%. If the government overshoots the borrowing programme further than what it has already announced, the bond market may take it negatively," said Arvind Konar, headfixed income, Almondz Global Securities.

Deutsche Bank said on October 7 that a likely shortfall in the disinvestment target, lower tax collection and higher fuel subsidies could leave fiscal deficit at around 5.4%.

Disappointing Growth

Abheek Barua, chief economist at HDFC Bank, said the government will struggle to borrow the extra money because the "market doesn't have any appetite". The first two government bond auctions have already devolved on primary dealers because of fears that shortfall in revenues may force even more borrowings at higher yields.

The yield on the 10-year benchmark paper has already firmed up to 8.8% from about 7.9% at the beginning of the year. In February, when Mukherjee presented the budget and forecast that India would grow by 9% in the fiscal to March 2012, that projection was greeted with much scepticism. Most economists have now downgraded the growth outlook to around 7%.
Black money: Pranab Mukherjee says 9,900 Indian overseas accounts under probe!The global financial turbulence has taken its toll on Indian bourses with FIIs selling more than $2.2 billion worth of Indian shares between August and September.As a result, the government may put off share sales, including that of SAIL and Hindustan Copper, said officials. This may make the target of raising Rs 40,000 crore from divestment “tougher.”

Finance minister Pranab Mukherjee on Wednesday said the government had received information from France about Rs 400 crore unaccounted money in as many as 69 overseas accounts of Indians and had recovered Rs 30 crore in taxes from them.

FM Pranab Mukherjeesaid inflation had remained “sticky at around 9 per cent” during the first half of this fiscal mainly because of rising commodity prices, including high crude prices, as also global liquidity created by central banks in the US and elsewhere in the West, where they printed money to finance huge public debt.

India received some $23.5 billion of net capital inflows in the first five months of this fiscal against $16.8 billion during the same time last year. Much of the RBI’s money sapping moves have been undertaken to sap up this floating liquidity.

The RBI’s tough stance has been at variance with many other central banks which have put a brake on rate hikes to help industry. However, Mukherjee made it clear India might not go by other central banks’ prescriptions.

Briefing economic editors, the FM said with the help of Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement(DTAA) with France, India was able to extract some information regarding Indians having bank accounts.

He said the government's efforts on black money were paying results. So far, specific requests in 333 cases were made by authorities for obtaining information from foreign jurisdictions. Both the Income Tax department and Financial Intelligence Unit are pursuing these cases.

"Over 9,900 pieces of information regarding suspicious transactions by Indian citizens from several countries have been obtained which are now under different stages of processing and investigation," he added. Besides, more than 30,700 suspicious domestic transactions are under investigation by different agencies.

The Income Tax department has detected mispricing of Rs 34,000 crore in the last two years, preventing the outflow of this amount to foreign jurisdictions. In addition, I-T investigation wings detected concealed income of Rs 18,750 crore during this period. In the first five months of the current financial year, concealed income of Rs 3,014 crore was detected as a result of searches.

Mukherjee said India was engaged with Mauritius to update the existing Double Taxation Avoidance Convention (DTAC) in line with international practices that would help in curbing treaty shopping by corporates here. The government's recent initiative with Switzerland to obtain information on tax evaders was likely to improve the inflow of banking information substantially, the FM said.

AMETHI: The Aadhaar scheme, which aims to provide each citizen with a 12-digit unique number, has been launched to ensure that the funds allocated by the Centre for various schemes directly reach the beneficiaries, Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi said today.

"Rajiv Gandhiji had once said that of Re 1 released by the government, only 15 paise reaches the people. Situation is same today," Rahul said at a function here.

The local MP rued that crores of rupees were being released under various schemes including NREGA and Sarv Shiksha Abhiyan, but it's not reaching the people. "It is not about UP alone, situation is same across the country."

He said an effort has been made to change the situation by launching Aadhaar scheme.

"Under the scheme, thumb impression of people are being taken and a number is being allotted to each of them. This number will be their identity. An unique identity is being created for each Indian," he explained while inaugurating a branch of Corporation Bank here.

The banking services have been linked with the aadhaar card and there would be one identity number and bank account, he said.

"After this, whatever money we will send from Delhi will directly reach your bank accounts. It is an attempt to fix this 15 paise problem," he said, adding the aadhaar card will also address the discrepancies in BPL list.

"In next two to three years, we will distribute aadhaar cards to all Indians so that whatever money is allocated it reaches directly to the pocket of the people," he said.

He said that country cannot progress unless banking services reach poor, farmers and labourers.

Earlier, Rahul visited the house of Ajay Gupta, who was killed with his wife and two others on October 13, and met his mother.

Gupta's mother handed him over a memorandum demanding a CBI inquiry into the matter, party sources said.
Oct 22, 2011
How the West won Libya
By Pepe Escobar

They are fighting over the carcass as vultures. The French Ministry of Defense said they got him with a Rafale fighter jet firing over his convoy. The Pentagon said they got him with a Predator firing a Hellfire missile. After a wounded Colonel Muammar Gaddafi sought refuge in a filthy drain underneath a highway - an eerie echo of Saddam Hussein's "hole" - he was found by Transitional National Council (TNC) "rebels". And then duly executed.

Abdel-Jalil Abdel-Aziz, a Libyan doctor who accompanied Gaddafi's body in an ambulance and examined it, said he died from two bullets, one to the chest, one to the head.

The TNC - which has peddled lies, lies and more lies for months - swears he died in "crossfire". It may have been a mob. It may
have been Mohammad al-Bibi, a 20-year-old sporting a New York Yankees baseball cap who posed to the whole world brandishing Gaddafi's golden pistol; his ticket perhaps to collect the hefty $20 million dangled as the bounty for Gaddafi "dead or alive".

It gets curioser and curioser when one remembers that this is exactly what US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, in her lightning visit to Tripoli, had announced less than 48 hours before; Gaddafi should be "captured or killed". The Fairy Queenie satisfied Clinton's wishes, who learned about it by watching the screen of a BlackBerry - and reacting with the semantic earthquake "Wow!"

To the winners, the spoils. They all did it; the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), the Pentagon and the TNC. From the minute a United Nations resolution imposing a no-fly zone over Libya became a green card to regime change, plan A was always to capture and kill him. Targeted assassination; that's Barack Obama administration official policy. There was no plan B.

Let me bomb you to protection
As for how R2P ("responsibility to protect" civilians), any doubters should cling to the explanation by NATO's secretary general Anders Fogh Rasmussen; "NATO and our partners have successfully implemented the historic mandate of the United Nations to protect the people of Libya." Anyone who wants to check NATO's protection of civilians just needs to jump on a pick-up truck and go to Sirte - the new Fallujah.

Reactions have been quite instructive. TNC bureaucrat Abdel Ghoga went Colosseum in the Roman Empire, saying, "The revolutionaries have got the head of the tyrant."

United States President Barack Obama said the death of Gaddafi means "we are seeing the strength of American leadership across the world". That's as "we got him" as one can possibly expect, also considering that Washington paid no less than 80% of the operating costs of those dimwits at NATO (over $1 billion - which Occupy Wall Street could well denounce would be more helpful creating jobs in the US). Strange, now, to say "we did it", because the White House always said this was not a war; it was a "kinetic" something. And they were not in charge.

It was up to that majestic foreign policy strategist, US Vice President Joe Biden, to be starkly more enlightening than Obama; "In this case, America spent $2 billion and didn't lose a single life. This is more the prescription for how to deal with the world as we go forward than it has in the past."

World, you have been warned; this is how the empire will deal with you from now on.

Feel my humanitarian love

So congratulations to the "international community" - which as everyone knows is composed of Washington, a few washed-up NATO members, and the democratic Persian Gulf powerhouses of Qatar and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). This community, at least, loved the outcome. The European Union (EU) hailed "the end of an era of despotism" - when up to virtually Thursday they were caressing the helm of Gaddafi's gowns; now they are falling over themselves in editorials about the 42-year reign of a "buffoon".

Gaddafi would have been a most inconvenient guest of the International Criminal Court in The Hague, as he would have relished recalling all the hand-kissing, the warm embraces and the juicy deals the West was begging to clinch after he was promoted from "Mad Dog" (Ronald Reagan) to "our bastard". He would also relish detailing all the shady backgrounds of those opportunists now posing as "revolutionaries" and "democrats".

As for the concept of international law, it lies in a drain as filthy as the one Gaddafi was holed up in. Iraqi dictator Saddam at least got a fake trial in a kangaroo court before meeting the executioner. Osama bin Laden was simply snuffed out, assassination-style, after a territorial invasion of Pakistan. Gaddafi went one up, snuffed out with a mix of air war and assassination.

Power vultures are congesting the skies. London-based Mohammed El Senussi, the heir to the Libyan throne (King Idris was overthrown in 1969) is ready for his close-up, having already established that he "is a servant to Libyan people, and they decide what they want". Translation; I want the throne. He's obviously the favorite candidate of the counter-revolutionary House of Saud.

And what about those Washington think-tank donkeys mumbling that this was the Arab Spring's "Ceausescu moment"? If only the Romanian dictator had improved his country's standard of living - in terms of free healthcare, free education, incentives for the newlywed, etc - by a fraction of what Gaddafi did in Libya. Plus the fact that Nicolae Ceausescu was not deposed by NATO "humanitarian" bombing. v Only the brain dead may have swallowed the propaganda of NATO's "humanitarian" 40,000-plus bombing - which devastated Libya's infrastructure back to the Stone Age (Shock and Awe in slow motion, anyone?). This never had anything to do with R2P - the relentless bombing of civilians in Sirte proves it.

As the top four BRIC members knew it even before the voting of UN Resolution 1973, it was about NATO ruling the Mediterranean as a NATO lake, it was about Africom's war against China and setting up a key strategic base, it was about the French and the Brits getting juicy contracts to exploit Libya's natural resources to their benefit, it was about the West setting the narrative of the Arab Spring after they had been caught napping in Tunisia and Egypt.

Listen to the barbaric whimpers
Welcome to the new Libya. Intolerant Islamist militias will turn the lives of Libyan women into a living hell. Hundreds of thousands of Sub-Saharan Africans - those who could not escape - will be ruthlessly persecuted. Libya's natural wealth will be plundered. That collection of anti-aircraft missiles appropriated by Islamists will be a supremely convincing reason for the "war on terror" in northern Africa to become eternal. There will be blood - civil war blood, because Tripolitania will refuse to be ruled by backward Cyrenaica.

As for remaining dictators everywhere, get a life insurance policy from NATO Inc; Egypt's Hosni Mubarak, Tunisia's Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali and Yemen's Ali Abdullah Saleh were clever enough to do it. We all know there will never be R2P to liberate the Tibetans and Uyghurs, or the people in that monster gulag Myanmar, or the people in Uzbekistan, or the Kurds in Turkey, or the Pashtuns on both sides of the imperially drawn Durand Line.

We also know that change the world can believe in will be the day NATO enforces a no-fly one over Saudi Arabia to protect the Shi'ites in the eastern province, with the Pentagon launching a Hellfire carpet over those thousands of medieval, corrupt House of Saud princes.

It won't happen. Meanwhile, this is the way the West ends; with a NATO bang, and a thousand barbaric, lawless whimpers. Disgusted? Get a Guy Fawkes mask and raise hell.

Pepe Escobar is the author of Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2007) and Red Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the surge. His new book, just out, is Obama does Globalistan (Nimble Books, 2009).

In Egypt, corruption cases had an American root

In Egypt, corruption cases had an American root
By James V. Grimaldi and Robert O'Harrow Jr., Published: October 20

CAIRO � Beginning two decades ago, the United States government bankrolled an Egyptian think tank dedicated to economic reform. A different outcome is only now becoming visible in the fallout from Egypt's Arab Spring.

Formed with a $10 million endowment from the U.S. Agency for International Development, the Egyptian Center for Economic Studies gathered captains of industry in a small circle � with the president's son Gamal Mubarak at the center. Over time, members of the group would assume top roles in Egypt's ruling party and government.

Today, Gamal Mubarak and four of those think tank members are in jail, charged with squandering public funds in the sale of public resources, lands and government-run companies as part of a dramatic restructuring. Some have fled the country, pilloried amid the public outrage over insider deals and corruption that toppled President Hosni Mubarak.

"It became a crony capitalism," Magda Kandil, the think tank's new executive director, said of the privatization program advocated by its founders. Because of the corruption, the center now estimates, the assets that Egypt has sold off since 1991 have netted only about $10 billion, $90 billion less than their estimated worth.

The privatization saga is a cautionary tale about the power and perils of U.S. foreign aid � most notably the nearly $8 billion that the United States has provided to Egypt since the 1990s to push the country toward economic reforms.

Gamal Mubarak, 47, and the others deny any wrongdoing and are fighting corruption charges filed by the new Egyptian government, saying they have been trumped up to placate street protesters calling for retribution. The defendants also assert that the deals were legal under existing laws.

But the arc of the American-backed privatization effort in Egypt recalls years of questions from critics about the transparency and effectiveness of the more than $70 billion in military and economic assistance to that country over the past six decades, the most aid given to any country other than Israel.

Although U.S. officials have not publicly raised questions about the funding to ECES, as the economic think tank is known, they expressed concerns in confidential cables that privatization efforts could lead to high-level corruption, according to a review of hundreds of WikiLeaks documents by The Washington Post.

"The privatization and economic opening of recent years have created new opportunities for `vertical corruption' at upper levels of government affecting state resources," said one confidential State Department cable written by an unidentified diplomat in 2006, quoting Hitler Tantawi, a former chief of an internal government financial watchdog called the Administrative Control Authority.

Officials at USAID declined to discuss their support of the Egyptian think tank, privatization efforts in the country or the sentiments shared in the confidential cables.

In a statement, the agency said it took measures to ensure that the grants to ECES were properly used. "ECES is a reputable think tank and research center that has produced many valuable economic research papers over the last 20 years," the agency said.

The path to privatization

Since the 1970s, USAID has provided billions of dollars in economic help to Egypt in exchange for promises of liberalization of the socialist economy created in the 1950s by President Gamal Abdel Nasser.

Despite those promises, Egypt's privatization initially moved at a glacial pace, in part because Hosni Mubarak's tenuous hold on power made him reluctant to risk pushing against popular opposition.

By the end of the 1980s, the public sector still constituted more than half of Egypt's industrial production and 90 percent of its banking and insurance industries. At least 20 percent of the workforce was in the public sector.

But the picture began to change in the early 1990s, after a financial crisis in Egypt, when international lenders said they were no longer willing to float an economy so dependent on state-run enterprises.

In exchange for bailouts, Egypt agreed to make the types of structural reforms that were sweeping the planet after the collapse of Soviet communism. Policymakers envisioned the market pulling the masses out of poverty, as well as spurring a middle class and ultimately democratic reforms.

The worldwide effort came to be called "the Washington Consensus."

In Egypt, privatization had a powerful champion in Gamal Mubarak.

He was a graduate of the American University of Cairo and began his career as an investment banker at Bank of America in London. Gamal and his older brother, Alaa, founded Medinvest, becoming capitalist converts and earning a fortune by buying and selling Egyptian debt, according to allegations by Egyptian prosecutors.

As Gamal Mubarak became more deeply involved in public life, he moved toward the Washington Consensus with a single-minded commitment.

He had an ally in an ambitious lawyer named M. Taher Helmy, who helped draft legislation in 1991 that authorized Egypt's privatization program, with a plan to privatize more than 350 companies worth $104 billion.

A year later, Mubarak teamed up with Helmy to create the Egyptian Center for Economic Studies to promote market reforms through books, policy papers and conferences. The center's primary source of revenue came from the $10 million endowment from USAID.

Some privatization deals occurred in the 1990s. But meaningful change, involving major government assets, came only after Gamal Mubarak and fellow reformers gained control of the National Democratic Party, the ruling party of Egypt. Then the reforms came in a cascade of new policies and laws, many of them based directly on the papers produced by the U.S.-funded ECES.

In 2002, Mubarak formed the party's powerful policies committee. Following his lead, the party's general assembly quickly appointed other ECES members to the committee, including Helmy, who was the think tank's chairman at the time.

In a speech promoting "new thinking," Mubarak said that economic growth must come "through the perfect application of free-market principles." The rhetoric came straight out of ECES policy papers.

Privatization deals came quickly. In 2003, Egypt privatized nine companies worth about $18 million. In 2005 and 2006, the number of deals soared to 59, worth $2.6 billion.

The changes appeared to benefit the overall economy in Egypt, as the gross domestic product doubled and growth hit 7 percent. But behind the scenes, American diplomats warned of potential trouble.

U.S. Ambassador Frank Ricciardone wrote in a classified embassy cable in early 2006 that the interests of "high-level members" of the political party and Hosni Mubarak's regime could pose a risk to reform. "Corruption also remains a significant impediment to growth, and may become more difficult to control as economic reform progresses," he wrote.

But finally, privatization was in full throttle � with ECES in the center of the action.

Insiders benefit

Some of the privatization deals included the titans of business involved in ECES. And some of them were handled by Helmy's firm. They included Egypt's $1.6 billion sale of the National Bank of Alexandria and the $892 million sell-off of Telecom Egypt.

"ECES was simply in the right place at the right time," Mahmoud Mohieldin, then chairman of the National Democratic Party's economic committee and a key figure at ECES, told Bruce Rutherford, a political scientist at Colgate University, for a book,"Egypt After Mubarak." "It had a set of proposals already on hand that harmonized with where the government wanted to go."

Under Helmy's leadership, the Cairo office of the giant Chicago-based international law firm Baker & McKenzie handled more than $3 billion of the privatization deals, including the government's sale of assets, companies and land, according to information on the firm's Web site, news releases and news accounts.

The firm has represented the government in deals and helped private-sector companies acquire government-run enterprises.

Helmy has long maintained that he was working to benefit the nation.

"We help because it's our duty as Egyptians," he told the publication Business Today Egypt in 2004. "We want to help the country advance by drafting legislation to match the fast development of economic policies."

Among those who allegedly benefited from ties to ECES, Gamal Mubarak and the privatization effort was Ahmed Ezz, a founding member of ECES and a leading member of parliament and the former ruling party. Once known as the "steel king," Ezz built the state-owned Alexandria National Iron and Steel into the largest steel producer in the Middle East, with more than 7,000 employees. Helmy's firm handled the transactions for Ezz Steel.

In 1998, with the company facing bankruptcy, Ezz began buying shares, with help from then-Minister of Industry Ibrahim Salem Mohamadein. Prosecutors allege that he made more than $1 billion in inappropriate profits over the next decade as he acquired more than half of the state-run company's shares.

Ezz also benefited from laws written and pushed for by ECES colleagues and privatization advocates, who also served with him on the National Democratic Party's policies committee or in the government, according to a recent study by the German Marshall Fund of the United States.

In 2004, for instance, a law first drafted by Helmy slashed the corporate tax rate to 20 percent, leading to a windfall for Ezz's steel empire.

The next year, Helmy had a hand in writing a competition law that appeared to buffer Ezz's business from allegations of operating as a monopoly.

In September, appearing in a courtroom in New Cairo, Ezz told a three-judge panel, "I am not guilty, and all of the allegations are not supported by law and are against common sense."

Another ECES member who partook in the privatization boom was Ahmed al-Maghrabi, a property developer who became Egypt's housing minister. Palm Hills Developments, a joint venture owned by Maghrabi and his cousin, built a development of "luxurious villas" in 6th of October City, off highways leading to the port city of Alexandria, according to the development's Web site.

`Bizarre' deal

The offices of ECES are on the eighth floor of the granite-clad Nile City Towers complex, a premier business address in Cairo that includes global brand names such as Procter & Gamble, Motorola and American International Group. The corner office at ECES, now occupied by Kandil, the new executive director, has a commanding view of the Nile River.

One recent day, Kandil pulled out the galleys for a new book � one that was so controversial among the board that its publication was not approved until after the revolution. She flipped to a page that cites statistics showing that the sale of Egypt's public assets had recouped just one-tenth of their true value over the 20 years since the program began.

The sales prices were $9.6 billion, or about 1 percent of Egypt's gross domestic product. The assets' true value was $104 billion, according to Kandil.

"Some of the privatization deals were bizarre," said Kandil, an American-trained Egyptian economist who has a PhD from Washington State University and was hired by a search committee headed by Helmy.

"The results benefited those who oversaw the process," she said.

Five people closely affiliated with ECES � members, directors or founders � have been charged in the corruption investigations launched since the revolution. In addition to Gamal Mubarak, they include Ezz, Maghrabi and officials who had served as the ministers of housing and trade. (Ezz was sentenced last month to 10 years in prison after being convicted in a scheme involving the illegal sale of steel licenses.)

ECES has suspended Mubarak's and Maghrabi's memberships until their cases are resolved, and Ezz was removed from the membership because he had not paid his dues, Kandil said. (Egyptian prosecutors this week said they have evidence suggesting that Mubarak and his brother deposited hundreds of millions in foreign bank accounts, including $340 million in Switzerland.)

Kandil said Helmy, who chaired ECES last year, was asked to step down. She said she last saw him before the January revolution, when he said he was going on a business trip. But Kandil said he has told her since that he has no immediate plans to return from the United Kingdom, where he lives now with his wife and his three school-age children.

"I'm sensing," Kandil said, "he is not very hopeful about coming back.''

Helmy, who has not been charged in the corruption cases, is still listed as head of Baker & McKenzie's Cairo office in the Nile City Towers. He declined a request for an interview. A spokesman for the firm said: "Mr. Helmy continues to be actively practicing and managing our firm's Cairo office. He has not permanently relocated to our London office."

Kandil emphasized that ECES's board troubles should not cloud the center's solid work.

She said Egypt's leaders did not follow the center's policy positions calling for robust regulation and laws.

"There is a role for government in the business of regulation," Kandil said, "and making sure there is a level playing field to restrain the greed."

O'Harrow reported from Washington. Research editor Alice Crites and special correspondent Ingy Hassieb, in Cairo, contributed to this report.

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