Mahasweta Devi's political and intellectual integrity was exemplary. I had read only two of her important novels. That was enough for me to hold her in high esteem throughout the three decades I am living abroad.
That is why, after reading an obituary, I am shocked to learn about the end of her political commitment. She ended up becoming the most celebrated supporter of TMC and its leader.
It shows what happens if you only have justifiable rage in your belly and fulminating words in your pen, as Mahasweta Devi admirably had, but no political-theoretical clarity in head.
She, like all the other intellectuals who raged against the land-grabbing policy of the previous Left Front government, did not understand that there is an ineluctable fundamental contradiction between industrial development and the pre-modern rural-agricultural way of living. You cannot build factories in the air, as one CP1M leader once said in the context of Singur and Nandigram.
And you cannot create jobs for a rapidly growing number of unemployed young people without industrialization.
It may well be that Mahasweta Devi was too old to develop, in her writings, an alternative vision that would help overcome the contradictions indicated above. But it may not be too late for those intellectuals who also castigated the Left Front government and then ended up becoming supporters of TMC and Mamata Banerjee.
Saral Sarkar, Germany
Civil Liberties Monitoring Committee (CLMC) sponsored fact finding team visited localities of old city, Hyderabad namely Talabkatta, Chandrayangutta, Hashimabad and Chattabazar and met the families of recently arrested youth in the allegations of connections to ISIS.
All these localities are in and around the historic Charminar of Hyderabad and popularly known as old city; these are densely populated areas dominated by Muslim community. These areas are underdeveloped and backward, the residents belong to the lower and middle classes. Politically these localities are dominated by Majlis e Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM) party; Majlis MLAs represent them in state Assembly and Mr Asaduddin Owaisi is the Member of Parliament who represents them in the Indian Parliament.
All these youth are in the age group of 20-40 years with different professional backgrounds. Their educational qualifications differ from SSC to Engineering graduates. Al these youth belong to the breakaway faction of Markaz Jamaitul Ahle-e-Hadees called Subai Jamait Ahle-e-Hadees which was separated due to ongoing dispute on the construction of a Masjid in the Yakutpura area of old city Hyderabad. The 11 young men who were arrested and detained are the residents of these densely populated localities.
Not surprisingly English and Telugu print and electronic media are publishing and telecasting the terror stories by giving NIA source. As per the routine practice media is conducting its own trial and it has already declared these youth as terrorists. The gravity of unfair media reporting can be imagined by this news that these youth were planning to plant beef in religious places. Telugu and English media is in competition, in making, creating and publishing false and sensational stories. It shows that in the eyes of these media, Muslims are terrorists; the anti-Muslim mindset is dominated upon them and through their mediums they are trying maximum to defame and target Muslim community.
NIA has registered a case vide no. RC-0l/2016/NIA/HYD, based on credible information that some youths hailing from Hyderabad and their accomplices have entered into criminal conspiracy to wage war against the Government of India by collecting weapons and explosive materials to commit terrorist acts by targeting public places including religious sites, sensitive government buildings etc. in various parts of the country.
During the course of fact finding visits and meetings this committee found out from different reliable sources that local police informers played a crucial role for the development and shaping of the case.
Lateef Mohammed Khan,
Gen. Secretary, CLMC, Hyderabad
Bread and Cancer
The Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), an NGO, disclosed that in India, 84 percent of 38 commonly available brands of pre-packaged bread, including pav and bunds, contained cancer causing additives, potassium bromate or potassium iodate, which when mixed in the flour, act as an oxidixing agent and allow higher rising of the dough. But, if the bread is not baked at a high temperature, a residual amount remains in the bread, which may be harmful.
Though the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India, FFSAI has banned potassium bromate in breads now but why it persisted with its use for so long, even if in a very limited quantity, knowing, perhaps, well its consequences? The UK did away with it as early as in 1990. China, Canada, Brazil, Australia, Sri Lanka and New Zealand also banned its use in breads. Why it took to the CSE only to conduct this study on a variety of brands of this food of mass consumption and not either the FSSAI or the State Food Authorities, who are responsible for ensuring the safety of foods and thus, the health and life of the people?
Be that as it may, it is high time that food safety norms, at least for the most common processed foods of mass consumption are standardized, made transparent and regularly monitored in the country to stop the use of harmful chemicals in them. Sure enough, the country would do better without cancer causing substances than to see additions to the list of 1.45 million new cases of cancer already suspected during the current year as per the National Cancer Registry Data.
Vol. 49, No.6, Aug 14 - 20, 2016