Friday, April 19, 2019

Popular Protests in Sudan: End of the Military Rule?

Abdul Rahman

“Tasgut bas” (Must go, full stop!) is the slogan of ongoing people’s movement in Sudan against the long serving regime led by Omar al-Bashir. Though Bashir has already resigned and has been arrested, the military’s control over the power in Sudan is still intact. The new interim head of the Transitory Military Council General Abdul Fatah al-Burhan may have to move aside and let a civilian government take over for a transition period. This remains the major demand of the demonstrators.    

Saturday, April 13, 2019

The Centenary of Jallianwala Bagh

Suchetana Chattopadhyay

13 April 1919 was a Sunday. It was also the first day of the new year in the Punjabi calendar. An unarmed crowd, mostly villagers from the outskirts, had come to the city of Amritsar. Their aim was to celebrate Baisakhi (Punjabi New Year). They had not been told that gatherings had been banned by the British colonial authorities. They assembled at Jallianwala Bagh, an open space surrounded by walls and buildings. An anti-colonial meeting was also being held there. Suddenly the crowd was fired upon by British colonial troops. The soldiers had initially fired in the air to disperse people but were ordered to shoot at point blank range by General Dyer, the commanding officer in charge of enforcing martial law. Dyer ordered the soldiers to shoot where the concentration of the crowd was most thick. The shooting continued for 10-15 minutes. By then all ammunition was exhausted. Upgraded versions of Enfield guns, which had sparked the Rising of 1857 among Indian soldiers and the wider population against colonial rule, were used. Bodies of Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs lay piled on top of each other. According to official estimates 379 people were killed. Unofficial accounts claimed at least 1000 people were mowed down. In his later statements, Dyer declared the purpose was to teach the Indian population a lesson in fear. He had successfully achieved this aim by pumping bullets into their rebellious hearts.

Thursday, April 4, 2019

Women in West Bengal: A comment on the current situation

Nilanjana Paul

'It is the time of fear.

Women’s fear of violent men and men’s fear of fearless women'. 

-‘Global Fear’ by Edurado Galeano

An article published in June 2015 in Vikalp: People’s Perspective for Change entitled “The Tip of the Iceberg” by Abir Neogy highlighted crimes against women in West Bengal since regime change in 2011. Neogy shows that violence against women are propelled by a strong “misogynist political current, informed by patriarchal and propertied social and economic interests.”[1] Her article further showed how the first female Chief and Home Minister of West Bengal denied justice to the Park Street rape victim. Moreover, rape and murder of victims at Kamduni, Madhyamgram and Birbhum have broken fresh grounds on the culture of gang rape in the state. Building on Neogy’s article, this study shows that since 2015 little has been done to address women’s issues. Even the recent declaration by the ruling Trinomool Congress (TMC) that forty percent of its candidates are women in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections, only helps suppress the scale of the current crisis.

Sunday, March 31, 2019

2019: ‘Kesari’ or Jallianwala Bagh?

Rajinder Singh Majhail

In 2012 we had started a campaign in Punjab to commemorate the centenary of the Gadar Movement the following year. We visited many educational institutions; one of them was Saragarhi War Memorial School in Amritsar. The Principal of the school was known to one of our friends. When we met him he smiled and said the school was unable to support our initiative;  moreover, he pointed out there was a difference between the ‘war’ represented by Gadar and Saragarhi. This has remained with me. In 2019 we are again campaigning to commemorate the centenary of Jallianwala Bagh massacre. Meanwhile the mainstream focus is on ‘Kesari’, a commercial film based on the war of Saragarhi. In 2017, Rs 44 Crores were spent on the construction of Saragarhi sarai in Amritsar.A number of videos were made available on YouTube and even UNESCO made a big budget documentary on this war completely ignoring the Gadar Movement or people’s struggles associated with Punjab. On the heels of these institutionalised endeavors by the late imperialist and local majoritarian-nationalist official establishments comes the film- just before the general elections in India. The question we need to ask: why has the battle of Saragarhi (1897) been dug up?

Monday, March 25, 2019

Government health expenditure in India

Surajit Das

Indian government spends only 1% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) on health (in 2015, excluding expenditure on water supply and sanitation), which is one of the lowest in the world (Source: World Development Indicators of the World Bank). According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), the world average public spending on health was 3.5% of GDP in 2015. According to the World Bank data, in the Euro area and in North America, the public expenditure on health is more than 8% of GDP on an average. Even the poor Latin American countries & Caribbean and Sub-Saharan African countries spend much more than India (3.8% and 1.8% of GDP,respectively)on health. China has recently increased government health expenditure from less than 1% of GDP in 2000 to 3.2% of GDP in 2015. Many people have raised this issue of abysmally low government expenditure and extremely high out of pocket expenditure on health in India time and again but, there has been no marked change in the government health expenditure to GDP ratio in our country. There has been some improvement in private sector led health services in India in the recent past; however, most of the Indian population cannot afford to avail these services because of exorbitantly high cost, given their low level of income.