Distortions of History
The Indian History Congress from its very foundation nearly nine decades ago has remained committed to pursuing the cause of providing an accurate and comprehensive portrayal of the history of this country. It has, therefore, been greatly alarmed by the changes in the History syllabi and textbooks that have recently been affected by central official agencies, leading to a plainly prejudiced and irrational perception of the past.

The University Grants Commission in the draft syllabus it has framed for the Bachelor’s course for History, claims for India the “honour” of being the Aryan homeland, deems the Epics as possible historical chronicles and excludes all reference to caste system in its ancient India portion. In fact, it expressly treats the caste system as an institution arising after the coming of Islam. The Mughal emperor Akbar along with his policy of religious tolerance between various religions is totally excluded from the syllabus. The students in the Bachelor’s course would not thus learn of any cultural or intellectual developments of the Mughal era (neither Kabir, nor Tulsidas nor Abul Fazl)!

Now the same process of misrepresentation has been introduced in the prescribed History textbooks by omitting whole sections, along with individual passages and sentences (or parts thereof) in the prescribed textbooks. These include wholesale omission of the narrative of the Mughal dynasty which gave India political unity for such a long period, and sundry other deletions of statements that are held to be inconsistent with the narrow communalist formulations favoured by the present regime. Even the narrative of Mahatma Gandhi’s assassination has been trifled with.

The Indian History Congress recalls its own effort twenty years ago when it published a volume assessing critically the History textbooks then published by NCERT, pointing out their various errors and misjudgments. They were subsequently withdrawn.

It is now necessary for all historians, loyal to the rational and scientific nature and purpose of their profession, to stand up and make it clear that such distortions of History as the NCERT has now sought to spread through its deletions and revisions are simply unacceptable.
Professor Kesavan Veluthat
President, Indian History
Congress [Former Professor, DU]
Prof. Syed Ali Nadeem Rezavi
Secretary, Indian History
Congress [Prof. of History, AMU]

Blue Lady Story
By every rule in the book, this ship (Blue Lady), carrying asbestos waste and radioactive elements, should not be in Indian waters, let alone be beached. And yet, despite well-premised objections, the central government persuaded the Supreme Court to rule that Blue Lady be dismantled at Alang, Gujarat.

Two related judgments in the matter of ship-breaking and hazardous waste were issued by the Supreme Court. The Division Bench of Justice Dr Arijit Pasayat and Justice S H Kapadia delivered both the orders. This was the same Bench that was seized with the Le Clemenceau case. The first order is a general order on the issue of ship-breaking. The second order was with specific reference to status of the Blue Lady (formerly SS Norway)—a ship with known dangers: asbestos and radioactive material, and without clear papers—currently beached at the Alang shipyard in Gujarat. This order gave a go ahead to dismantling of the Blue Lady.

Dismantling the Blue Lady exposes the mostly Bhojpuri and Oriya speaking causal and migrant workers and the villagers of Bhavnagar panchayats near Alang to toxic exposures. It also threatens their source of livelihood—fishing due—to marine pollution. By the government's own admission—a report of technical experts on ship-breaking—the underground water in Alang is heavily polluted. The ship-breaking industry is already known to have a higher accident rate (2 workers per 1000) than the mining industry (0.34 per 1000). This is considered the worst in the world, and 16 percent of workers here are suffering asbestos related diseases.

In its order on, the Honourable Supreme Court advanced "The concept of "balance" under the principle of proportionality applicable in the case of sustainable development?" and ruled that: "It cannot be disputed that no development is possible without some adverse effect on the ecology and environment, and the projects of public utility cannot be abandoned and it is necessary to adjust the interest of the people as well as the necessity to maintain the environment. A balance has to be struck between the two interests. Where the commercial venture or enterprise would bring in results which are far more useful for the people, difficulty of a small number of people has to be bypassed. The comparative hardships have to be balanced and the convenience and benefit to a larger section of the people has to get primacy over comparatively lesser hardship."

The bench granted permission for the dismantling based on the submission by Gopal Subramaniam, the Additional Solicitor General, to the effect that the ship does not have any more radioactive material and beaching is irreversible. But contrary to the recommendations of the Technical Experts Committee on Hazardous Wastes relating to Ship-breaking, Gujarat Pollution Control Board, Gujarat Enviro Protection and Infrastructure Ltd, (GEPIL) and the ship's current owner Priya Blue Shipping Pvt Ltd., the ship does contain radioactive substances at thousands of places.
Gopal Krishna

Less than Minimum Wages
The hike in the wages for the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) has failed to enthuse the workers in Kerala.

The wage has been hiked from Rs 311 to Rs 333 for Kerala, while the wage for Haryana has been increased to Rs 357. The minimum daily wage in Kerala is Rs 727 as compared to Rs 395 in Haryana and Rs 220 in Gujarat.

The Kerala Samsthana Karshaka Thozhilali Union (KSKTU) affiliated to the All India Agricultural Workers Union (AIAWU) has condemned the meagre hike and demanded the union government fix the wages in proportion to the minimum daily wage prevailing in each state.

Though the wage has been increased by Rs 22, the KSKTU termed the hike as insufficient and very low. "This hike of daily wage to Rs 333 is very low considering the daily wages ensured in the state”. The daily wages in Kerala are the highest in the country and the KSKTU has been demanding a proportionate wage hike for MGNREGA workers.

“This small revision for Kerala is another discriminatory approach of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government at the centre.”
Neelambaran A, NewsClick

Turkey’s Kurds
Turkey’s third-biggest political party is undergoing a rebrand and the fallout could influence the outcome of the forthcoming election. The Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), a left-wing bloc co-chaired by Pervin Buldan that represents most of the country’s 20 million Kurds, is facing legal closure weeks ahead of national elections on 14 May. All of its current deputies could be banned from running for office. So the HDP is entering the ballots with a new list of candidates, under a new party name: Green Left. Stickers and leaflets printed with the new logo are piled in the party offices in Diyarbakir, the largest city in Turkey’s Kurdish region.

This is a game of cat and mouse that Turkey’s Kurds have grown used to. Successive Kurdish parties have been repeatedly banned and reopened in new forms since the military coup of 1980. The HDP is the most successful: in June 2015 it became the first Kurdish-rooted party to win 10 per cent of the national vote, therefore allowing its MPs to enter parliament (the threshold was reduced to 7 per cent last year). That deprived Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party of its outright parliamentary majority for the first time. Erdogan now accuses the HDP of supporting terrorism. But by banning the party from the parliament, where it currently holds 56 of 600 seats, he would boost his own control over the chamber. If the HDP were to be dissolved after its deputies were elected to parliament, the seats left vacant would be distributed among other parties, according to the ratios they already hold.

The HDP doesn’t want to risk it. By running under a different banner, it is hoping to sidestep a court case. The Green Left is projected to take about 10 per cent of the vote and, as it isn’t putting forward its own candidate in the presidential race, the party can support the main opposition hopeful, Kemal Kilicdaroglu. By trying to force the Kurds out of politics, Erdogan might be anointing them the kingmakers.
Hanna Lucinda Smith, Monocle

"I read with interest the angry outburst against me by Farooque Chowdhury in FRONTIER of April 16-22, where he accuses me of 'skipping a few facts, and creating a bit of confusion', and also suspects that it may not be possible for me to have an anti-imperialist stand..., with so much confusion. May I request Farooque Chowdhury to read two earlier articles of mine: (i) 'Leftist response to the War in Ukraine' (November 1, 2022) and (ii) 'Shades of the Past and Portents of Things to Come,' (November 18, 2022), both of which were carried by the news portal Countercurrents ? In these articles I detailed the 'facts'–US and NATO complicity in the war in Ukraine, the emergence of the neo-Nazi armed group Azov Battalion which is being used by the Ukraine government to fight Russia, as well as the other 'facts' about Russian atrocities on the common people of Ukraine. If he reads these articles, with a little bit of patience, he may find answers to the allegations that he has raised against me. I request the readers of FRONTIER to re-read my article 'Emerging reconfiguration of geopolitical forces', which provoked Farooque Chowdhury to come up with his strongly worded rejoinder. Let them compare the two articles, and arrive at their own judgment as to whether I deserve his criticism."
 Sumanta Banerjee, Hyderabad

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Vol 55, No. 46, May 14 - 20, 2023