News Wrap


21 September 2015 was the 11th foundation day of the Communist Party of India (Maoist). There were a few anniversary posters in certain parts of Jharkhand, Chattisgarh, Odisha, Andhra Pradesh and Telengana. The 2013 call to Bolshevize the party given by Muppala Ganapathi, is being carried out in the party, the PLGA (People’s Liberation Guerilla Army) and mass organisations. The party acknowledges the need to expand the movement to newer areas, and open new battlefields beyond forested, tribal-inhabited, and mineral-endowed central and eastern parts of the country. The government is stuffing the areas of conflict with para-military forces, largely Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), Border Security Force and Indo-Tibetan Border Police. Maoist forces are being intimidated and immobilised in the rebellion’s heartland areas, with renewed state brutality from Chattisgarh to Telengana. Since September 2015, local police are killing rebels, including mutilating women. After 2010, neither rebels nor government authorities have talked of peace. The rebellion’s call is for ‘Jal, Jungle, Zameen, Izzat and Adhikar’. The ‘water-forest-land-respect-rights’ call has enjoyed widespread resonance. The rights-unfriendly land ordinance, promoted by the BJP has been opposed by public opinion conveyed by the media, public protests and the BJP’s political allies as well.

Inequitable development
$428 billion (36.8%) of the total Indian National Wealth was concentrated in the hands of the only 57.11 lac Indians, merely 1% of individuals, in 2000. Rich Indians enjoyed $74,935 per capita of wealth, while the remaining 99% of Indians were left with only $1300 per capita of wealth. Adult Indians, representing the richest 10%, have seized control of over 66% of wealth. They are enjoying per capita wealth amounting to $13,419. The remaining 90% of the population had per capita wealth of $772. Economic development has led to the richest top 1% of people enjoying 58 times the wealth of the rest of the population. This gap between the rich and the poor in 2014, has widened to 95 times. During the last decade while India’s national wealth increased by $2441 billion. 90% of Indians have been pushed further to the brink of poverty. While 71% of rural India owns mobile phones, 75% live on Rs 33 per day. 50% of the population of India are still dependent on agriculture, but India’s agricultural sector is growing at 1.1% every year. Broadband access is 1.2% of India’s population. India ranks 55 out of 76 countries in the Global Hunger Index, behind Nepal. Between 2001 to 2011, even though poverty was reduced in India, the Indian middle class expanded from 1% to 3%.

Foreigners Act
On 07 September 2015, the Union Government of India issued a gazette notification to exempt, on humanitarian considerations, those who have entered India on or before 31 December 2014, from the relevant provisions of rules and orders made under the Passport (Entry to India) Act, 1920 and the Foreigners Act, 1946, in respect of their entry and stay in India, without such documents or after the expiry of those documents as the case my be. This comes as a relief to a large number of minority communities in Bangladesh and Pakistan, such as Hindus, Sikhs, Christians, Jains, Paris and Buddhists, who were compelled to seek shelter in India, because religious persecution forcefully displaced, lacs of religious minorities from former East Pakistan, Pakistan and present Bangladesh. They entered India without passport and valid documents. Again certain persecuted minorities within muslims, such as Ahamadiyas of Pakistan, Shias in Bangladesh, certain heterodox smaller sects and Rohingyas of Myanmar, equally persecuted, have been excluded. Bengali muslims in Assam are also persecuted, especially in Bodoland. The notification places a burden of post-1971 refugees on Assam alone. As part of an effort to achieve communal and social harmony, the Arunachal Pradesh state government, initiated the signing of an accord between the Nyishiand Apatani communities on 20 September 2015. The Supreme Court has directed to confer citizenships on around one lac Chakma and Hajong refugees in Arunachal Pradesh.

Micro Lenders
Out of 70 applicants based on their ability to raise money for their initial capital requirements, the Reserve Bank of India in the second fortnight of September 2015, granted approval to eight Indian commercial microlenders to upgrade themselves into small finance banks. The government hopes that the new type of bank will broaden access to financial services at the lower end of the market. The coveted licenses were won by some of India’s biggest micro-finance companies, including Bangalore based Janalakshmi Financial Services and Ujjivan Financial Services and Equital Private Holdings based in Chennai. The chosen list also included several smaller microlenders, working in more remote regions, such as RGVN Microfinance, based in the tea growing state of Assam, and Utkarsh Micro-   finance, based in Uttar Pradesh east, where access to formal financial services is even more limited. The RBI considered proposed reach into unbanked areas and under reserved sections of the population. Each company will have 18 months to raise the necessary capital and comply with the RBI requirements. SKS, the Hyderabad based and Bombay Stock Exchange listed microlender whose $350 million initial public offering in 2010, triggered a massive crisis for an industry ostensibly promised on serving the poor, has not been included in the initial batch. The small finance banks are aimed to bring formal financial services to individuals and businesses, that have not been served by the sluggish, public sector dominated formal banking system.

War Crimes in Sri Lanka
The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Investigations on Sri Lanka, in a 220-page two volume report has found evidence ‘strongly indicating’ that war crimes were committed in Sri Lanka in the closing phases of its civil war. A special ‘hybrid international’ has been called by the UN, to investigate individuals, responsible for the worst atrocities. The report described horrific abuses including torture, executions, forced disappearances, and sexual abuse by security forces. War crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Sri Lanka  between 2002 and 2011 by both sides in the conflict, have been identified. The report points to suicide attacks, assassinations and recruitment of child soldiers by separatist extremists from the Nation’s Tamil ethnic minority. While names have not been cited, the report, highlights the broader patterns of organisation and planning, which breach the threshold of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

The report provides a good foundation, for criminal investigations to proceed. Rights groups and some governments want an international investigation, but Sri Lanka has resisted such a move. Previously, senior officials in the Sri Lankan army and government have been accused of responsibility for very serious rights abuses, as have leaders of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eeelam, an extremist group with a record of violence against civilians, including Tamils.

Vol. 48, No. 25, Dec 27, 2015 - Jan 2, 2016