Tuesday, 15 March 2016

TRIBUTE TO A MAN OF THE CENTURY!

Marx Remembered Everyday! 
The philosophers have only interpreted the world in various ways; the point, however, is to change it.
Marxian and traditional orthodox economics could be distinguished mainly on three points, namely; (i) the orthodox economists accept capitalism as eternal order of nature while Marx regards it as passing phase in transition from the feudal economy of the past to the socialist economy of the future, (ii) the orthodox economists argue in terms of a harmony of interests between the various sections of the community while Marx conceives of economic life in terms of conflict of interests between owners of means of production who do not work and workers (proletariat) who owns no means or property. In reality above two points of differences are not unconnected. For example, if the system is taken for granted and the shares of the various classes in the social product are determined by inexorable natural law, all interests unite in requiring an increase in the total to be divided. what is known as size of the pie is increased so each could get more share in the pie. However, if the possibility of changing the system is once admitted, those hope to gain and those who fear to lose by the change are immediately ranged in opposite camps resulting in the class conflict.

The orthodox economists unconsciously, on the whole identified themselves with the system and assume the role of its apologists, while Marx consciously sets himself to understand the working of capitalism in order to accelerate its doom by overthrowing it. The system contains inbuilt contradictions within itself which must lead to its disruption. Marx saw the periodic crisis of trade cycles as symptoms of a deep-rooted and progressive malady in the vitals of the system. 
Since Marx's days development in economic analysis have taken place which enables economists to detect three distinct streams thoughts in Marx's treatment of of crises: (a) the theory of reserve army of unemployed labors due to fluctuate relationship between the stock of capital offering employment and and supply of labor leading go unemployed army. That could be seen in developed countries since 2008 crises resulting in over 10% unemployment, (b) the theory of the falling rate of profit which shows how the capitalists' greed for accumulation stultifies itself by reducing the average rate of return on capital, and (c) there is theory of the relationship of capital-goods and to consumption-good industries which shows the ever-growing productive of society knocking against the limitation upon the power to consume which is set by poverty of the workers. This could be seen in India's jobless growth mainly contributed by expansion of speculative financial sector, service section and capital intensive luxury goods beyond the reach of workers and common man leading to creation of two Indias: Rich and Poor!
Since the WWII the academics economists, without paying much attention to Marx's analysis of capitalism,have been forced by the concrete reality of the modern world to question much of the orthodox apologetic, and recent developments in academic theory have led them to position which in some respects resemble the position of Marx far closely than the position of their own intellectuals forbears.
The modern theory of imperfect competition, though formally different form Marx's theory of exploitation, has close affinity with it. Similarly, modern theory of crises has many points of contact with the third line of argument, distinguished above, in Marx's treatment of subject,and allows room for something resembling the first. However, the second line of argument appears to be confusing and redundant.
In fact, since 2008 worldwide economic crises Noble Laureates like Joseph Stieglitz, Paul Kugman accepted failure of Neo-classical economics. Till to date, the crises is not yet over in spite of partial nationalization of failing banks and corporations by way of bailouts from public money there does not seem to be any sign of recovery. In fact, free market economy has been thriving on it appears there has been socialization of losses and privatization of profits and localization of wages.
Since the advancement of a new theory of industrial economics with separation of ownership and control now the corporations held by millions both the owners and employees/workers. Further the classes are not as crystallized as they were during the 19 century industrial revolution that Marx witnessed. The ownership of means of production has changed from a sole ownership to partnership and then to a loosely held corporations causing confusion who are the owners and employees. And to complicate matters further the emergence of a huge middle class that Marx had not witnessed. Given the overlap of classes and a huge middle class and petty bourgeoisie class it is worth inquiry into the traditional labor theory value? There has been more rhetoric than substance as to development in Marxian economic theories since the WWII. However, no doubts Marx left a lasting impact on capitalism and influence on man kind and its welfare which brought so many reforms for labor which was highlighted in the US President Franklin Roosevelt's speech on Flint Street sit down . No doubt, the nightmare quality of Marx's thoughts gives, in bedeviled age,an air of greater reality than the gentle complacency of the orthodox academics.
On the operational side strategy for revolution is hardly talked about in party school and entire focus of the communist parties is on the tactics to show allegiance to bourgeois democracy once they pledge to destroy. If they are so much committed to democracy one wonders how far Leninist notion of democratic centralism is relevant? The failure of USSR model of socialism also raises the question whether the Socialism in one country could sustain for along time in a globalized world. And most importantly, if central committee of a communist party is derailed as ideas become material force then what is the mechanism to correct the obsolete party? In fact, Party bureaucracy in India has taken over in India ever since the non-working class non-peasant leadership has got on the top even without capturing the power, people are intrigued whether any lessons have been learnt from the USSR model? Finally, the debate of permanent revolution as Trotsky's advanced v/s transition of the revolution via cultural revolution with the involvement of masses is still relevant to complete the dialectics as nothing is absolute. These are some questions remains unanswered! 

Prof. S Deman

Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Politic of Great Divide: Rich and Poor

MODI A ONE MAN INDUSTRY: AKE SAAL AND MODI SARKAR OR ONE YEAR OF MODI GOVT.
A quick review of Indian economy under the UPA I & II reveals that neo-liberal economic policies were unable to sustain a rapid growth as it was halved in just three years from 2011-2014. GDP growth rose marginally to 4.8% during the quarter through March 2013, from about 4.7% in the previous quarter. In fact, UPA government had forecast a growth rate of 6.1%–6.7% for the year 2013–14, whilst the RBI expects the same to be at 5.7%. No doubt, besides rapid growth in GDP neo-liberal policies also gave rise to what is known as ‘Crony Capitalism’ or in communist jargon ‘Lumpen Capitalism’. Further, during the period of liberalisation, particularly from 2000-2010 a number of scams came to light in which top government officials were implicated. Corruption was so rampant that it did not spare even the defence sector. Although Manmohan Singh had two terms as a Prime Minister in spite his best endure to remain Mr Clean, he was also implicated in coal scam.  In his interview, he admitted that Congress’s loss in 2014 was failure to addressing the problem of corruption, unemployment and inflation, particularly food inflation.
Modi Govt. & Budget on Account: 
According to Jaitley the Economic Growth Rate of India would be 5.5% in 2014-15, which less ambitious than UPA’s Finance Minister, Mr. Chidambaram. Besides this, India suffered a very high fiscal deficit of US$ 88 billion (4.8% of GDP) in the year 2012–13. The UPA Government aimed to cut the fiscal deficit to US$ 70 billion or 3.7% of GDP by 2013–14, but again Modi government’s FM is less ambitious than UPA as he sets the deficit at 4.1% of GDP for 2014-15. Combine with poor response of the market leaves one wonders how anyone could claims budget has spurn the economy to meet the desired promises of ‘Good time Ahead’ let alone realizing the objectives of employment generation, eradicating corruption, and controlling inflation.  In fact, it appeared as if BJP Finance Minster Arun Jaitley was presenting UPA Finance Minister, Chidambaram’s budget! 
Modi’s 68th Independence Day Speech:
On India’s 68th Independence Day Modi commissioned a team of his advisor for a feedback for his speech and like his all predecessors he gave a firebrand speech asking deficit to combat the inflation.   In fact, in spite of tall claims made during the election campaign, there was nothing in Modi’s speech about the Roji-Roti, Bijali-pani, Kapada and Makan for common man and there was nothing for women ether as to Sikasha, Suraksha and Sochalaya. Like Mrs Indira Gandhi, he is also merely selling slogans like HIT (Hydropower, Information and Transport) in Nepal, PPP (Paryavaran, Paryatan, Power) in Ladakh and announced BSP (Bijali, Sadak and Pani) on 15th August. Modi also announced that from October 2014 he would ensure Sochalayas (Toilets) in every household, but failed to tell in the absence of water how his dreams will be realised? He has also pronounced that the Planning Commission of India, a constitutional body would be replaced by a more effective body like China has ‘Reform and Development Commission’, without the necessity to have a debate over it in parliament. Hence, this would eliminate the prospective allocation of resources and multiplier effect on various sectors and its review mechanism, thereby no accountability. 
Modi in International Irena        
It appears Modi has merely been engaged in a public relations exercise rather than chalking out a concrete plan to eradicate corruption, unemployment, and fight inflation & poverty. Thus far steps that his government has taken via budgetary instrument as oppose to a long term economic program appears to be counterproductive.  For example, his announcement for 100% FDI in defence sector and 49% in insurance and divestment to limit public sector may help realizing efficiency with increase in output in short-run but at the cost of meeting the increase in employment as why any foreign investor would be increase in employment in India? Those who have a bit of knowledge of economics would realise that growth and efficiency is not the end of the world.  If one examines a relationship between output and efficiency it would show that in the long run more output would mean increase in inflation with almost negligible impact on the efficiency.
Home Performance:
It is an interesting act, but falls short of reflecting the aspiration of Indian people due to superfluous analysis. Before elected as PM Modi promise Good days ahead to for people namely; creating jobs, bringing black money home which will put 1.5 million rupees in each citizen's account, bringing inflation down, and poverty alleviation. Although election manifestos have always been as a document of promise and not delivery unfortunately people being betrayed by past government have taken Modi's words on their face value.

The author of the article is looking at Modi's performance from a neo-classical economics angle that is failure to carry out the reforms necessary for growth and therefore by implication benefiting everyone what Modi describe as 'Sab Ka Vikas San Ke Saath' (Development of every one with everyone).  There is nothing new in this concept, in fact Gandhiji was first to take about 'Greatest good of all'.  This idea, though appears novel, it lacks sound theoretical understanding of economics. Neo-classical theory of growth does not have any theory of distribution. It completely relies upon the percolation effect or trickle down mechanism. History of economics institutions has witnessed and rejected such theory. In fact, even most of the Western and North American economists do not subscribe such an outdated theory. However, some of these very economists and their satellite economists like Bhagwati and Panagariya continue to advocate such theories to India and developing economies so that the West & N American continues to use o stabilize their own economies.   
Since Modi for his failure to deliver on the above promises has come under a lot of pressure both from the Right and most from the Left and now has become defensive on his own promises and said in his first rally in Mathura at the eve of one year, "Entrepreneurs and corporate (capitalists) can’t create jobs"!  This is very alarming statement which out off many pro Modi entrepreneurs into pessimism. Rather than 'ACHHE DIN AGAYE' (Good days have come) he talks about 'Bure Din have Gone' (bad days have gone). This leaves the impression of 'half glass is empty rather than filled'.   
Now look at the performance in terms of some indicators for April 2014 to May 2015: (i) Inflation WPI to some extent even CPI being low from 9.3% to 4.9%, but main credit goes to low fuel prices but prices of common man daily food, pulses or lentils have gone up by 40%. (ii) It is claimed that current account deficit has gown down from     3.9 to 1.6% but again that is also due to lower fuel bill, (iii) Employment growth 0.28 to 0.3% has been the same as it was a year ago, (iv) GDP growth 7.5% claimed to have surpassed China is false claim as base year has changed so after adjustment it is 5% as it was  year ago, (v) Trade deficit down to 137 crores also due to exchange rate low fuel prices, (vi) in spite of Modi' tour of 18 countries financial inflow dropped from 4.29% to 1.76%, (vii) claims has been made that 30000 crores profit from coal auction but that is over 30 years when full potential is realized  realised, (viii) creation of Smart cities for whom as unless people have income thy would turn out to be ghost house as some of did in China 1990s, (ix) bullet trains rather than more trains for common man is a misleading priority,  (x) as to 'Make in India' exports have fallen down from 24% to -21.1% due to low demand, etc.   As to various flagship programs they have only been renamed and allocation to them have been slashed to a great deal.  Of course,  RSS and VHP agenda of communalization overshadowed the key economic issues facing common man in everyday's walk of life.        
Hence, Modi has raised the aspiration of the people but he has done very little to manage them by delivery on the ground.  He has provided the poor farmers 'Soil Health Card', but there is no Health Card for the very people who work on that soil.
Unless we adapt to concrete reality by choosing alternative strategies as China did future of poor looks extremely bleak.   There is no substitute to distributive growth as China has advanced since the 2008, US $950 billion investment to deal with crises in three stages: (i) Infrastructure spending, (ii) focus on rural areas to stimulate demand, and (iii) speeding up of economic growth in new regions, generating housing demand leading up to consumption led growth. This strategy made China a darling of both foreign direct investment and portfolio investment suggesting while the global equity markets were in turmoil, China has emerged as safe parking lot for the global funds.
Last year at the UN submit on environment famous TITANIC Movie star, Leonard DiCaprio said, “I pretend for living I hope you do not”.  Let Modi be his own judge or people should judge him next time!! 


Prof S. Deman

Monday, 18 May 2015

To be Marxist or to be communist, that is the question - Revisted

Recently, Times of India Columnist and retired professor of JNU Dipankar Gupta wrote an article following the alleviation of Sitaram Yechuri as the General Secretary of CPI(M), see: http://blogs.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/toi-edit-page/sitaram-yechury-reloaded/


Letter to the Editor – Times of India 2015-04-26, “To be Marxist or to be communist, that is the question”.
Dear Editor:

I enjoyed reading Dipanker Gupta’s article in which he very eloquently puts top CPM leadership in the dock. However, his analysis appears as abstract and disconnected as the CPM’s tactic with common man since it supported Congress led UPA I government in 2004.  As a keen student of Marxism and having taught for 35 years across 4 continents even I had some difficulty in fully grasping the point the author has advanced in his article. Perhaps he could have made it a bit more understandable to a wider readership.  Keeping in view above limitation, I wish to address the main thrust of his article. 

While making a distinction between Marxist and Communist he attacks CPM’s top leadership who had adopted an orthodox rather than dynamic scientific approach in interpreting and applying Marxism to socio-economic reality in India.

Marxism is an economic and political philosophy driven by materialist view of history and social reality. A Marxist is he who not only shares that view but also advances it.  As Marx wrote in the Poverty of Philosophy- in response to Proudhon’s Philosophy of Poverty as follows:

"The philosophers have only interpreted the world in various ways—the point however is to change it" (Karl Marx).  

Marx famously puts Hegel "on his head" by arguing that man has the capacity to determine history by his actions. In this way, Marx thinks that it is possible for philosophy to change the world if it is oriented towards the possibility of action, rather than simply interpretation or theory.  Hence, simply understanding the world is not enough because you shouldn't perceive the world and everything in it as a static and transcending time, but as a constantly changing set of relationships and the nexus between them that are governed by proclivities but also are capable to stray through "random" events or conscious interventions of the masses. The History drives itself in a deterministic way, but also conscious intervention is possible and sometimes required. The whole point of the above phrase is that we need to understand which way history CAN go and consciously chose the most positive scenario as your political strategy.
On the other hand, a Communist is an actor of the Communist Party which represents the tangible consciousness of a class (mainly the working class) to realise desired objectives: (i) at first stage establishment of a socialist states which eventually wither away to reach the (ii) ultimate goal of communism. A casual reading of the Communist Manifesto makes it unequivocally clear that class struggle is the backbone of that path, but other tactics are not completely ruled out. However, since Marx was a product of industrial revolution, at the relevant time, classes like Bourgeois and Proletariat were by and large clearly crystallised and the antagonistic contradiction was the main focus of organising the working class against the bourgeois, but non-antagonistic contradictions issues such as education and health which were of concern for a vast majority of people as the author pointed out in the Communist Manifesto part 2) were not completely ruled out. In fact, a well known Marxist (some called her a feminist) Kollantai said that the women question cannot be resolved even under  socialism, a transitional stage to communism. Following the passing of equality bill in the Parliament in 2010 the ideological enemies Sushma Swaraj of BJB and Brinda Karat of CPM embraced the victory publicly with a huge HUG. No one knew except this writer who wrote, “I wonder what are they celebrating, an introduction to love or death”.  Even after 150 years the orthodox communists continued to beat the same drums, “Punjiwad to Aag Laga Do”, i.e., Death to Capitalism.  However, capitalism has changed its face (form) much faster than its worst enemies the communists, but no doubt it has not changed its nature (essence).     

The above rhetoric is incompatible with the new theory of industrial organisation propounded under the umbrella of Neo-classical economics. The structure of ownership has drastically changed since 1960s from sole ownership & partnerships to loosely held corporations owned by millions regardless of size of their stakes. The new theory separates the owners (shareholders) from the control (managers). In all, but small organizations social choice takes place by way of delegation of power from many to a few called the agents (managers) who may or may not have stake in the corporations.  20th Congress of the CPM revealed that even many leaders of the Party held shares in the corporations and also spend more time play in speculative activities rather than in party work. Hence, actors of the communist party labour more to preserve the status-quo than engaging in the party activities to overthrow the bourgeois as pledged in their Manifestos.  So one wonders how traditional slogan of “Death to Capitalism” helps here as many of the common owners would turn against the working class! This is a real dilemma CPM faces today. 

The author correctly identifies lack of revolutionary fervour in SitaramYechuri’s speech which had no reference to either the “Class Struggle” or even “Operation Barga”, a very important achievement of Joyti Basu’s LDF government although it was too much to expect given his petty bourgeois socio-economic background. Guy has no mass base and has risen to the highest office in supposedly a proletarian party without shading a drop of sweat, a scratch in scuffle with police and spending a night in a prison cell in any fight for Peoples’ Democratic Revolution.  How could anyone expect from him otherwise?      
As to Sitaram’s reference to US President Roosevelt’s New Deal Policy there is no harm in highlighting the issue raised by him in his 1936 speech in support of General Motors’ workers. One could get a flavour from an American movie Capitalism A Love Story by Moore made in 2010 following the worldwide crises of capitalism in 2008,

The film then shows the events leading up to the 2008 U.S. election, where branding of capitalism as socialism occurs as part of the scare campaign. Moore expressing hope that the election of Barack Obama might turn things into the right track. The film then contrasts the present economic reality in America with the policy of US president Franklin D. Roosevelt, who supported the Flint Sit-Down Strike in 1936. Moore also includes a long-lost archival footage of FDR calling for a Second Bill of Rights that would guarantee all Americans "a useful job, a decent home, adequate health care, and a good education."[

Although the idea is novel to deal with the non-antagonistic issues which sound better than many social programs CPM has taken in Kerala, West Bengal and Tripura, how far it would be possible to provide all the above to all citizens in a capitalist society?

I agree with the author that a real Marxist is he who is willing to adopt new tactics in changing environment. However, to say that the Class Struggle is dysfunctional in a democracy is contrary to example of Latin American experience and the spirit of the Communist Manifesto on which the author relies.  In fact,  abandonment of the class struggle and CPM’s failure to capitalize on its achievements on land reforms, delivery on social indicators, and support to Congress led hotchpotch government in 2004 gave an  impression to common man that the CPM was no longer a party that once stood on the principle  of class struggle and socialism. After the split of CPI in 1964 I wonder how the author could characterize Ajay Bhawan as a symbol of class struggle or revolution!!   

Author appears to be correct about Yechuri who opposed not only withdrawal of support to UPA I, but he also opposed expulsion of Somnath Chatterjee. In fact, his love is not yet lost for Congress when he appeared trigger happy to march behind Sonia Gandhi to hand in a petition on Land Acquisition Bill. Needles to mention it also became evident when he told Burkha Dutt of NDTV in a Town Hall meeting with the students of Stephen College  just a couple of weeks before the Parliament elections, “I wanted Mrs Sonia Gandhi to be Prime Minister in 2004”.    

“To be Marxist or to be communist, that is the question”?  I believe these terms are complimentary rather than mutually exclusive and intrinsic to Marxism, but Yechuri does not seem to fit in with either!!   Given the conduct of JNUine Marxists young generation realise, “Thanks God we are not Marxists”!!

Prof Suresh Deman
London



Tuesday, 28 April 2015

EARTHQUAKE & FREE MARKET ECONOMY

Himalayan Earth Quake of the Century: Free Market Flourishes!

Last Saturday Nepal was struck by one of the most powerful Himalayan earthquake since 1934 casing worst disaster. More than 5000 deaths have been confirmed, and the death toll is expected to rise. The intensity of quake estimated at 7.8 Richter scale impacted North-East India resulting in 75 deaths so far and injured many. The quake struck about 50 miles northwest of Katmandu in an area that the U.S. Geological Survey calls one of the most seismically hazardous regions on Earth. It was felt as far away as Lahore, Pakistan; Lhasa, Tibet; and Dhaka, Bangladesh. Multiple aftershocks, including one registered at magnitude-6.7, followed.

Although government is non-existent in Nepal its Prime Minister said deaths toll may over 10,000.  Earthquake rocked mountainous Nepal and major aftershocks continued to rock the buildings and historical sites. At least 18 mountaineers were killed and dozens more were injured on Mount Everest, where the quake triggered an avalanche. Dozens if not hundreds remain trapped under mounds of rubble. The nation's capital of Kathmandu was particularly hard hit affecting over 8 million people across the country left with no supply of even drinking water and essential food. Rescue efforts launched from China, India, Oxfam and other countries have arrived in Kathmandu, but the rescue workers found no government support even for supplying water.   In fact, rather than the government coming to help it sitting like a lame duck let the hoarders and marketers to escalate the prices of common goods to double in market. Plight of victims of quake combined with economic hardship shows Capitalism has no heart, it knows only profits. Had the government come forward to coordinate distribution of overseas supply of food, medicine and cloths prices would not have rise to all time high.  All the international help is pouring, but there are concerns if it would be enough where over 1 million children are worst affected.  

Although on a major plate boundary with a history of large- to great-sized earthquakes, large earthquakes in this area are rare in the documented historical era. Over the past century, just four events of magnitude-6.0 or larger have occurred within about 150 miles of Saturday's earthquake, but Geologists say Eurasian plate push under the Indian plate causing severe impact.
A number of buildings collapsed instantaneously in the epicentre of the capital, the ancient Old Kathmandu, including centuries-old temples and towers. Among them was the Dharahara Tower, one of Katmandu's landmarks built by Nepal's rulers in the 1800s, a UNESCO-recognized historical monument. It was reduced to rubble and there were reports of people trapped underneath and rescue mission halted due to fear of collapse of cracked buildings with domino effect.
The quake will definitely likely put a huge strain on the resources of Nepal, a poor country best known for Everest. The nation is highly dependent on tourism. More avalanches are likely on Everest and it's unclear how those stranded on the mountain will be evacuated to safely although choppers so far have recued many although weather condition makes it very difficult.     


Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Children of Ghaza!!

Plight of Children's of Ghaza
Omsyatte, 12, in pink, and her family at the grave of her brother, Ibrahim, who was one of the 1,400 Palestinian victims of the 2008 Israeli military offensive against Gaza. 

Omsyatte adjusts her green school uniform and climbs gingerly on to a desk at the front of the classroom. The shy 12-year-old holds up a brightly coloured picture and begins to explain to her classmates what she has drawn. It is a scene played out in schools all over the world, but for one striking difference: Omsyatte's picture does not illustrate a recent family holiday, or jolly school outing, but the day an Israeli military offensive killed her nine-year-old brother and destroyed her home.

"Here is where they shot my brother Ibrahim, God bless his soul. And here is the F16 plane that threw rockets into the house and trees, and here is the tank that started to shoot," she says, to a round of applause from the other children. The exercise is designed to help the pupils at the school come to terms with the warfare that has dominated their short lives; particularly the horrors of the 2008 Israeli military offensive Operation Cast Lead, which killed 1,400 Palestinians, and destroyed one in eight homes.

Like hundreds of displaced Gazans, Omsyatte's family have spent more than a year living in a tent on a site near their home. Little rebuilding work has been done during this time – with supplies unable to pass into Gaza because of the ongoing blockade imposed by Israel in 2007 – and groups of children now pick their way through piles of rubble, kicking footballs around the bombsites which used to be local landmarks.

Homelessness is just one of the issues facing the 780,000 Gazan children in the aftermath of the conflict, problems that are explored in a revealing new documentary Dispatches: Children of Gaza, to be screened tomorrow at 8pm on Channel 4. Perhaps the most disturbing of these is the emotional scars borne by children who have survived the conflict; the Gaza Community Mental Health Programme reports that the majority of children show signs of anxiety, depression and behavioural problems.

Small boys build toy rockets out of drinks bottles, and talk about the fake guns they are going to buy with their pocket money. While boys the world over are preoccupied with fighting and weapons, this takes on a more sinister significance when the game isn't Cowboys vs Indians, but Jews vs Arabs, and the children's make-believe warfare is chillingly realistic.

These games may reflect the children's desire for revenge against their neighbours, of which many speak openly. "I think we are seeing a growing desire for violence, and it saddens me," said Jezza Neumann, the Bafta-winning director of the programme. "If they could get revenge legally, or saw someone saying sorry, then perhaps they could come to terms with it, but there has been no recourse. What you're seeing now may only be the tip of the iceberg."

Mahmoud, 12, describes the day Israeli soldiers knocked on the door and shot his father dead, lying down in the dirt where his father fell in a heartbreaking reconstruction, and describes the enormous changes it wrought upon him. "Before the war, I was thinking about education, but after I started thinking about becoming a fighter," he says, his thickly lashed brown eyes staring straight into the camera. "God willing, if I can kill one Israeli it will be better than nothing."

Desperate to avenge his father's death, Mahmoud is encouraged by his uncle Ahmed, a member of the terrorist group Islamic Jihad. Sitting Mahmoud down in front of a martyrdom film, Ahmed says, "Look how he doesn't feel a thing when he is detonated" as a suicide bomber dies. Just a few hundred yards from the family's home is a training camp for Gaza's fighters – both Hamas and Islamic Jihad – where young men carrying rocket launchers are clearly visible.

While Mahmoud is desperate for revenge, his mother weeps when she considers the possibility that he may become a martyr. "It is an honour to die in the name of Allah, but I don't want to lose my son," she said.

Some believe that with Israel's tight restrictions on movement blocking conventional career options for the 1.1 million people who live there, children may feel they have no choice but to join resistance movements. Last week Palestinians in the Gaza Strip lit 1,000 candles and held a peaceful protest to mark 1,000 days of the Israeli blockade. During this time, unemployment has risen to 45 per cent, with 76 per cent of households now living in poverty.

"The children are struggling with the idea of the future," Mr Neumann said. "Many graduates in Gaza are unemployed, and they can't see a way forward because they can't get out."

Families have been fractured by the conflict, with many parents racked by guilt because they couldn't protect their children from the violence, and now cannot provide for them in the aftermath. Sitting in the tent which is now their home, Omsyatte's father weeps as he talks of his regret over the death of his son Ibrahim.

"The Israelis killed my son while he was in my arms, and I could do nothing to protect him," he says, tears streaming down his face. "I couldn't even look at him when he was taking his last breaths of life, because the soldiers were right above my head. I was too much of a coward to even hug my son. I was afraid that they would kill me. These things torment me."

Dr Ahmed Abu Tawanheena, the director of the Gaza Community Mental Health Programme, says this issue is also affecting children in Gaza. "They have lost their parents twice: first, during the conflict, when they saw their parents terrified and unable to protect them from the violence. Now, under the blockade, they see their parents are still unable to provide for their basic needs, such

as shelter or food," he said. "It's a crisis which is threatening families and communities across the Gaza Strip."

For some, this crisis has had a devastating impact on family relationships, with mental health professionals and NGOs linking a rise in domestic violence with these feelings of guilt and impotence. A study by the Palestinian Women's Information and Media Centre (PWIC) in March 2009 found that 77 per cent of women in the Gaza Strip are exposed to domestic violence, while a survey by the UN Development Fund for Women (Unifem) also indicated that violence against women increased during periods of heavy conflict.

Many children are suffering the physical effects of the conflict. One of these is Mahmoud's nine-year-old sister Amal. Trapped under the rubble of her home – which was destroyed by Israeli shells – for four days before she was rescued, Amal was left with shrapnel lodged in her brain. Plagued by headaches and nosebleeds, and unable to get the medical care she needs in Gaza, Amal is lucky enough to be granted papers which allow her to travel to nearby Tel Aviv to be examined by a specialist. However, her experiences have left her so scared of Israelis that she doesn't want to go.

Crouching over a colouring book, her curly brown hair held back with pretty hair bands, she explained: "I'm scared to go to Israel. From the Jews. I'm frightened they might kill me."

Many of the children in Gaza's Shefa hospital do not have the option of leaving the strip, and the prognosis for children in the oncology ward is bleak. Chemotherapy is not available in Gaza, and many of the children on the ward have not been granted the papers they need to seek the treatment readily available to Palestinians just across the Israeli and Egyptian borders. One of these children is 10-year-old Ribhye, crippled by advanced leukaemia and unable to leave Gaza. His distraught father, sitting in a hospital room devoid of the equipment and medicine his son so desperately needs, is devastated not to have been granted leave to take Ribhye out of Gaza. "How do I get out? This border is closed, that border is closed. What do I do?" he asked.

"The mortality rate for cancer in Gaza is much higher than elsewhere," said Steve Sosebee, president of the Palestinian Children's Relief Fund. "You have to get a permit if you want to cross into Gaza and most of them are not granted. A lot of kids are dying as a result of the decisions being made by the people in charge, whether Hamas, the Egyptian government, the Israeli government."

Even the parents who have papers allowing their children to leave don't fare much better. Eight-year-old leukaemia sufferer Wissam was granted permission to cross into Egypt for treatment, but has been waiting for weeks for the border crossing to be opened. After being told that he would finally be allowed through after sitting at the border for hours, the coach full of hospital patients was turned away, and had to make the long drive back to the Nasser hospital. Wissam's father desperately tried to find out from hospital officials why the coach was turned back. "Every day the child stays here is a danger to his life," he said, his words echoing the thoughts of so many Palestinian parents.

Thursday, 7 August 2014

At least child appears above BPL!
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 IS GITA COMPATIBLE WITH MODERN TIMES?


Positive Jurisprudence assumes that Judges must be above board and refrain themselves expressing their personal views at public places. As a well-known saying goes, "Justice is not only done but must be seen to be done", However, Justice Dave's above statement clearly mirrors his mind set and leaves an independent observer wondering how he has decided cases in his court? Clearly Justice Dave appears to be predisposed and must quit.
Everyone suffers his/her own prejudices so do so do I being an atheist.  For the last few months on and off I have been watching latest version of Mahabharata on Star Plus TV. Although I do not keep a track of all the versions but to the best of my knowledge this is the third version of Mahabharata on Indian TV. I have an additional advantage of watching a French version of the Mahabharata in three parts (each 90 minutes on old Cassettes) subtitled in English which Peterbrooke, a well known French Director directed bit in 1988. Initially, it was staged live in Paris and London and then it came on the TV.  I was in at Australian National University at that time and I still go the three cassettes but now I do not have a TV to insert those old cassettes as everything in CDs.  In any event, to date I consider that is the marvelous piece.    
At the very outset let me clarify that unlike the Krishna Conscience people (better known as Hare Krishna) I do not take Mahabharata as real event, rather I take it more as a pedagogical.  Before I am ambushed by both the Hindu fundamentalists and Marxists I am commenting with a caveat that I am not trying to discover dialectics in Gita like late CPI Leader AP Dange or his son-in-Law Deshpande nor do I claim an expertise on Hindu epics.
I note that the script writer and the Director have done slightly better job than the previous Hindi/Sanskritize versions. Although there is always a long story to tell I am going comment on the issues which I could identify as relevant and found of great interest in the serial. However, before I comment on the relevant issues in Mahabharata let me look into the historical perspective. Tale is like this, “Yada yada hi dhramshya glani hi bhavti bharat...” And a Dude called Krishna appeared from somewhere and for me being an atheist from nowhere to put the society in order and establiGita sh Dharma, a just society in which ‘Rule of Law’ would prevail.  Krishna’s role was more of a match referee, of course as usual some bias to oversee the war so that the justice could prevail.  He would not rule out, if it becomes necessary, to use the force to establish a new order. Now step back for a moment and look at the plight of common man, in particular working class, during the industrial revolution in Europe. Longer working hours up to18 hours’ day, children and women working to derive their subsistence and children at the age of 14 drafted as there was no law on minimum wages let alone having any labour laws to protect them. Perhaps, it was worst than what it was prevailing then and Pandavas were subjected to by their cousins and their people in post Vedic era. There was another Dude called Karl Marx who was born, not from somewhere or nowhere, but he was a product of material condition of that time and called for working class around the world, not locally but globally, to unit and fight and even use force, if it becomes necessary, to establish a just society what is now known as Socialism to Communism.   My comments are as follows:
1.       Definition of Religion:
First of let us be clear unlike the publicly held view that Gita is a religious book, it is guide to way of life as to how to conduct yourself in a civil society. Krishna defines religion with five ingredients, namely; knowledge, justice, love, generosity and tolerance. This is quite different from the biblical definition of religion. However, such an order cannot be maintained without a constant struggle, so I added one more ingredient i.e., struggle which is an integral part of other human development.  
2.    Male-Female Friendship or Comradeship:
In modern India, in spite of rhetoric, particularly ‘the middle class’ does not accept male-female friendship or looks at it very suspiciously. Krishna, though Lord, breaks this backward Parampara, i.e., tradition and addressed Draupdi (collective property of Pandavas) as a Sakhi, basically that’s mean a friend. This becomes clear from Krishna's dialogue with his friend Draupdi (Punchali) which in my view even today RSS/BJP/VHP/SMGPS guys would not accept.  Though Draupdi suffered great deal and had anguish agst Kauravas she was petrified with war and its dire consequences, a lot of destruction on either side Kauravas and Pandavas and wanted to avoid the calamity so she explored with Krishna, if peace was a possibility? Krishna rejected her proposition right away and said war is inevitable to establish Dharma, therefore, though the choice is binary, but not between the war and peace, but it is between the more struggles or less struggle. Hence, struggle is an integral part of life for social development which sounds like dialectics.
3. ARJUN’S NERVOUSNESS AND APATHY TO WAR:
When Arjun saw Kauravas and Pandavas’s armies standing in front of each other ready to kill, he got nervous and became reluctant to wage a war against his own cousins, Guru Drauna, Grand Father Bhishma and others. Krishna said to his Dude Arjun, "All traditions are based on religion, but every tradition is not religion". Hence, there is nothing wrong fighting against the bed traditions and against the traditions that are incompatible with the Dharma (religion) as defined above.
4.  IS PURITY OF MEANS NECESSARY?
Perhaps everyone is aware of Mahatma Gandhi’s emphasis on the purity of means therefore he advocated the principles of non-violence. He did not hesitate to condemn even freedom fighters like Bhagat Singh Azad, Subhash Chand Bose, Communists, etc., who employed violent methods not to kill but to scare British Raj.  However, Krishna rejected the theory of nonviolence to realise the just order. He tells his Dude Arjun that to establish Dharma, a just society with all the ingredients outlined above, there is nothing wrong in employing unjust means like violence, deceits, lies, tricks, and even retreat (i.e., one step backward to go two step forward) because in order to create a new order (Nave Nirman) the old traditions must be completely destroyed, In fact, the catastrophe is the cause of new creation. Sounds like Krishna’s Biblical Communist Manifesto. In this regard, he justified the collateral damages saying not to worry about the falling leaves or growing new leaves, but to worry about the roots and the stem of the tree as ultimately the outcome of war for Dharma (justice) will determine the means (that is end justifies the means, a typical Marxist argument). Krishna calls for Arjun to take up his bow and battle against injustice.
5. Laissez Faire v Altruism
Krishna also asked Arjun to stop thinking in self-interest i.e., about cousins, Grandfather, Guru and his own family and guided him to direct his entire energy and mind in the interest of the greater good in the whole world, thereby he suggested that he must prefer altruism over laissez faire principles. He said to Dude, "Old teaching of Vedas based on deeds (work) and capabilities has been reduced to only words. In fact, just principles of Vedic society have been replaced by outdated and unjust traditions of birth, inheritance and power.  Hence, there was nothing wrong to destroy the old ideas, customs, habits and religion (injustices) with violence to serve the greatest good of the greatest number.  Sounds like Mao’s Cultural Revolution!
6.  VIOLENCE V NONVIOLENCE
Last but not the least, after killing everyone except Duryodhana, Krishna calls for nonviolence (Ahimsha) as the right path to follow which shocked everyone in Pandavas camp. Naturally, this prompted his best Dude Arjun to ask Krishna, then why so much violence was necessary? Krishna’s telling response was amazing when he said, "Nonviolence is not a mean, but it is an end, as if one follows nonviolent means under  the Adharma Rule (in an unjust society), then it may be construed as a cowardly act and could be suppressed by use of unjust power.  Krishna also told him that without pay back in blood no one would realize the value of true “Dharma”. 
Mahabharata serial which is now over, to complete the lessons to be drawn, I would like to add a few points: At the conclusion, after killing all Kaurvas and finally Aswasthama killing all sons of Pandavas except Krishna's miracle against the divine weapon to kill Abhmanyu's wife Uttra and her child in her womb....Draupdi asked Krishana why it was necessary to kill so many people and shade so much blood?  Why he couldn't do all this with his miracle? His telling response was, "No miracle is substitute for sacrifice that is needed for realization of value of justice and without paying the price in blood it would not be possible to establish the Rule of Law - if it is done on mercy means giving up on pursharth...The he goes on freedom in a just society, he says, "Freedom does not allow you to use your wisdom rather it makes people self-centered and follow the King, evil and his sycophant who commits injustices!!
There is some force in this line of thinking as hardly anyone realizes the value of independence and freedom that way Gandhi got for India. Hence, a violent death to unjust rule is not only necessary but it is inevitable as nonviolent path could not be maintained in the absence of just and equitable society. By the way who could disagree with such preaching as it appears close to what was being suggested in French Revolution and latter in a more organized way in the Communist Manifest and Mao De Tung use many teachings of Confucius and translated them into his own for greater good.....hahahah.. However, no BJP/RSS/VHP person or Justice Dave would agree with this proposition!!!!
Prof. Suresh Deman, London

Friday, 21 October 2011

Key Conferences in India

APPLICATION OF GAME THEORY
International Conference to Honour Prof CR Rao:                                                       Meeting of Great Minds

Application of Game theory to Policies  and Decisions 12-14 December 2011, Convention Centre Merriot Hotel, Hyderabad. Also a Seminar at CU Raj on 15 December 2011.
Game theory Workshop/Conference at ISI Chennai, Conference: 5-7 January 2012, and also to attend the Workshop, 3-4 January 2012).




INTERNATIONAL EVEN OF SEMINAR AT IIC, New Delhi


Priyadarshani-Secretary                                                                                                                                           Guru-Alpana

Participation in SAMBHAV 2011, an International Event of Seminar, Exhibition and Performing Art for Physically and Mentally Challenged Persons  11-14 November  2011 (http://www.alpana.in). Also see:




22nd Annual Conference of The International Environmetrics Society
Jointly Organized by:
CRRAO AIMSCS,
UOH Campus
Gachibowli Hyderabad India 
University of Hyderabad
Gachibowli, Hyderabad
India

In Association with
   INTERNATIONAL STATISTICAL INSTITUTE

Workshop 1-2nd Jan 2012, Conference 3-6th  Jan 2012
Theme:
Environmental Challenges facing developed and developing countries in a Globalized World: Quantitative approaches to Comprehensive Solutions


Indian Econometrics Society Meeting to host its Annual Conference on 9-11 Jan 2012 Punducherry: Prof Biswajit Chatterjee takes over as its New President. Special Guest Lecture to Honour Late Suresh Tendulker Mrs Suresh Tendulker Invited 
http://tiesindia.net/call_for_papers2.htm