Thursday, May 27, 2010


THE cock and bull story manufactured by anti-communist circles in regard to the SNC Lavlin case has now come to its inevitable end. The CBI, which had charged CPI(M) state secretary Pinarayi Vijayan under sections 120 B (criminal conspiracy) and 420 (cheating) of the Indian Penal Code, has now filed an affidavit in the court, saying there is no evidence to prove that he had made any financial gains. The CBI affidavit, in response to a petition filed by notorious Crime magazine editor, clarifies that there was no evidence to prove any monetary transactions in the agreement between the SNC Lavlin company and the Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB).
One notes that the notorious magazine editor had, in his petition, sought a follow-up probe on certain evidences (!) about the deal. The court naturally asked the CBI whether any evidences were left out to prove a monetary gain. The CBI filed the affidavit in reply, affirming that there was no evidence to prove that Pinarayi Vijayan or any middlemen had made any monetary benefits. The CBI also maintained that it could not investigate cases on the basis of hearsay. The rightwing media that fraudulently fashioned numerous fairytales on Lavlin case, however, made deliberate attempts to hide the news of the CBI affidavit; some of them even tried to twist the truth saying that the affidavit only said the CBI could not find any evidence to prove a monetary gain. To them, it did not mean that the CPI(M) state secretary had made no financial gains.

Further, in its charge sheet itself, the CBI had not accused Vijayan of having made any personal pecuniary benefits. The CBI had focussed on the setting up of the Malabar Cancer Centre at Thalassery in Kannur district, which is Pinarayi Vijayan’s home district. Even then, the vested interests, the UDF and reactionary media blatantly propagated that Vijayan had made a huge amount as kickback in the Rs 374.50 crore Lavlin deal. Despite the fact that the total worth of the Lavlin-KSEB contract was Rs 149 crore only, the vested interests did not hesitate to make this motivated hullabaloo. But the CBI’s latest affidavit has destroyed the foundation of the case and exploded the malicious campaign unleashed against the CPI(M) and its state secretary.

The Congress party has, time and again, used the intelligence agencies for partisan political gains, and the CBI has been no exception to it. The party’s real face was once again exposed when the opposition parties moved their cut motion in parliament. The Congress did not hesitate to withdraw the corruption cases lodged by the CBI against the BSP leader Mayawati; the same agency was used to neutralise some leaders of other parties also. Even the Supreme Court once vehemently criticised the centre for misusing the investigating agency.
It was the Congress led UDF government that had decided to renew the Pallivasal, Sengulam and Panniyar power projects on the basis of a technical report. The Narasimha Rao government at the centre was then encouraging the MoU (Memorandum of Understanding) route. The UDF government too chose the MoU route for an agreement and no global tender was issued for the work. Accordingly, the SNC Lavlin and the KSEB signed an MoU in August 1995; subsequently an implementation/consultancy agreement was signed in February 1996. All these developments occurred under the UDF government when Congress leader G Karthikeyan was the electricity minister. In spite of these glaring facts, the UDF and rightwing media deliberately accused Pinarayi Vijayan of not calling for a global tender. But how could Vijayan, who became the state electricity minister in May 1996, call for a global tender for a project on which there had already been an agreement with the SNC Lavlin? How could the LDF government cancel an agreement when clause 17 of the contract stipulated arbitration for any breach of contract, under the rules and procedures of International Chamber of Commerce in Paris? How could the LDF government opt for years of litigation in regard to three major power projects which account for 20 per cent of total electricity production in the state when the whole state was facing an acute power crisis?

Earlier the LDF government had already faced a piquant situation. It had terminated the previous UDF government’s MoU with the ABB for renovation of the Neryamangalam hydel power station where no implementation/consultancy agreement was signed, as was later done in case of Pallivasal, Sengulam and Panniyar power stations. After five years of litigation, the court had ordered the government to cancel its decision and allot the renovation work to the ABB. The malicious campaigners were blind even to the significant policy change --- that the LDF government had put an end to the MoU route and issued global tenders for such contracts. The rightwing media and anti-CPI(M) circles conveniently hid all such glaring facts.

It is amply clear that Vijayan did not sign any basic agreement with the SNC Lavlin; rather he had signed only an addendum to the basic agreement which was signed by the UDF government. After several rounds of discussion, the SNC Lavlin had to make in the basic agreement certain significant changes which were vital for protecting the state’s interests, and an addendum had to be signed to effect such alterations. It was on the basis of this addendum that substantial reductions were made in the price of the equipments to be purchased from Canada and in the consultancy fees, bank interest and other charges. The media and the anti-CPI(M) camp deliberately projected the addendum as a basic agreement.


During the period of the Nayanar government, a section of the Congress leadership and their supportive media had come up with certain allegations on the SNC Lavlin agreement. But the subsequent UDF government, which came to power in 2001, did not order any enquiry during its first two years. After two years, it ordered a vigilance enquiry on March 6, 2003 when the whole state was reverberating with massive struggles and the opposition MLAs were to go on an indefinite hunger strike following the brutal oppression of the tribal people’s struggle and the killing of an adivasi activist in police firing. The investigation was ordered to divert attention from the inhuman police repression and mounting resistance.

The vigilance department investigated the case for three years and submitted a report to the UDF government on March 10, 2006, just before the assembly election. But the government did not initiate any action on the report. Reactionary media propagated that Pinarayi Vijayan was going to be an accused in the case. The UDF government’s design was to sit tight over the report and feed the media speculations in order to influence the election results in its favour. But the department filed an FIR in the vigilance court, categorically stating that Vijayan was not responsible for any lapses. It added that his Canada visit and further discussions had helped to protect the state’s interest. When the department’s findings became public knowledge, a humiliated UDF government found that they did not suit its interest. So it immediately removed the vigilance director and referred the case to the CBI, a day before the assembly election was announced. It is to be noted that, only a week before the vigilance department submitted its report, the same government had filed an affidavit in the court, opposing a CBI investigation when a petition filed by the Crime editor sought to refer the Lavlin case to the CBI. Then the government’s stand was that the vigilance probe covered all aspects and hence a CBI investigation was not required. What else is required to prove that the UDF had hatched a heinous plot with a political motive!

The CBI too was so ‘vigilant’ that it chose to submit its report just before the parliament elections. The investigating agency depicted G Karthikeyan (former UDF minister) as the author of the conspiracy but conveniently dropped his name from its list of the accused. The CBI devised a surprising story that Vijayan was involved in the conspiracy after he became the electricity minister in May 1996, in order to set up a cancer centre at Thalassery. The CBI’s argument also gave an impression that the cancer centre is a private institution and that Vijayan made personal gains from it. In fact, the Malabar Cancer Centre, set up later, is a government institution under the health ministry.

Lavlin case is thus a forged case built upon follies and fraudulences for narrow political gains. Even the governor’s office was misused and constitutional norms were violated. No state government can grant sanction to prosecute a former minister when the advocate general, in his legal opinion, categorically states that Vijayan had only performed his duties as a minister. Was it such an extraordinary case for the governor to grant sanction for prosecution so arbitrarily, by rejecting the state government’s recommendation? The governor, in his order, could not give any logical argument to reject the protection guaranteed by the law of the land to a public servant who was discharging his duties in good faith.


In their eagerness to create controversies and insinuate the CPI(M) and its state secretary in Lavlin case, the plotters suitably shielded the real perpetrators. Rightwing media consciously skirted the question whether the UDF government had not indulged in a criminal conspiracy while signing the MoU with Lavlin without any global tender. Why did the UDF government later allowed the Lavlin to get the MoU for setting up the Malabar Cancer Centre lapsed by neither renewing the MoU nor signing an agreement with SNC Lavalin despite its willingness to sign it? Why did the CBI left out the author of the conspiracy from the list of the accused? Even though the case was referred to the CBI in March 2006, the agency did not find any case against the CPI (M) state secretary till the Left withdrew its support to the UPA government on nuclear issue. The CBI’s intention in making Vijayan an accused in the case was clear. Lavlin case is nothing but a sinister plot of the anti-Left forces with the help of an investigating agency and the bourgeois media.

Reactionary media and the anti-Marxists have always attacked the CPI(M) by worst methods. And today they are using the Lavlin case to attack the CPI (M) and its leadership. But can they always keep the people in dark? Time will tell.

Source: People’s Democracy dated 23-05-2010

Wednesday, May 12, 2010


Below we reproduce excerpts from an article which Comrade Mao Ze-Dong wrote on September 28, 1939 on the Second World War that broke out on September 3 that year.

ON the basis of my own observations, I should like to elucidate a few problems concerning the Soviet Union and China.

Some people say the Soviet Union does not want the world to remain at peace because the outbreak of a world war is to its advantage, and that the present war was precipitated by the Soviet Union's conclusion of a non-aggression treaty with Germany instead of a treaty of mutual assistance with Britain and France. I consider this view incorrect. The foreign policy of the Soviet Union over a very long period of time has consistently been one of peace, a policy based on close links between its own interests and those of the overwhelming majority of mankind. For its own socialist construction the Soviet Union has always needed peace, has always needed to strengthen its peaceful relations with other countries and prevent an anti-Soviet war; for the sake of peace on a world scale, it has also needed to check the aggression of the fascist countries, curb the warmongering of the so-called democratic countries and delay the outbreak of an imperialist world war for as long as possible....

After Germany and Italy jointly invaded Spain and when Britain, the United States and France adopted a policy of so-called "non-intervention" but of actual connivance at their aggression, the Soviet Union opposed the "non-intervention" policy and gave the Spanish republican forces active help in their resistance to Germany and Italy. After Japan invaded China and when the same three powers adopted the same kind of "non-intervention" policy, the Soviet Union not only concluded a non-aggression treaty with China but gave China active help in her resistance. When Britain and France connived at Hitler's aggression and sacrificed Austria and Czechoslovakia, the Soviet Union spared no effort in exposing the sinister aims behind the Munich policy and made proposals to Britain and France for checking further aggression. When Poland became the burning question in the spring and summer of this year and it was touch-and-go whether world war would break out, the Soviet Union negotiated with Britain and France for over four months, despite Chamberlain's and Daladier's complete lack of sincerity, in an endeavour to conclude a treaty of mutual assistance to prevent the outbreak of war. But all these efforts were blocked by the imperialist policy of British and French governments, a policy of conniving at, instigating and spreading war, so that eventually the cause of world peace was thwarted and the imperialist world war broke out. The governments of Britain, the United States and France had no genuine desire to prevent this war; on the contrary, they helped to bring it about….

It was in these circumstances, and when Germany agreed to stop her anti-Soviet activities, abandon the Agreement against the Communist International and recognise the inviolability of the Soviet frontiers, that the Soviet-German non-aggression treaty was concluded. The plan of Britain, the United States and France was to egg Germany on to attack the Soviet Union, so that they themselves, "sitting on top of the mountain to watch the tigers fight," could come down and take over after the Soviet Union and Germany had worn each other out. The Soviet-German non-aggression treaty smashed this plot.

In overlooking this plot and the schemes of the Anglo-French imperialists who connived at and instigated war and precipitated a world war, some of our fellow countrymen have actually been taken in by the sugary propaganda of these schemers…. It is time for these people to wake up. The fact that the Soviet Union worked hard to preserve world peace to the very last minute proves that the interests of the Soviet Union are identical with those of the overwhelming majority of mankind. This is the first question I wanted to talk about.

Some people say that now that the second imperialist world war has broken out, the Soviet Union will probably take sides --- in other words, the Soviet Red Army seems to be on the point of joining the German imperialist front. I consider this view incorrect. On whichever side, the Anglo-French or the German, the war that has just broken out is an unjust, predatory and imperialist war…. The Soviet Union is a socialist country…. and it necessarily maintains a clear-cut twofold attitude towards wars: (1) It firmly refuses to take part in any unjust, predatory and imperialist war and maintains strict neutrality towards the belligerents. Hence the Soviet Red Army will never disregard principles and join either of the imperialist war fronts. (2) It actively supports just and non-predatory wars of liberation. For instance, it helped the Chinese people in their war of the Northern Expedition thirteen years ago and the Spanish people in their war against Germany and Italy up to this last year; it has been helping the Chinese people in their War of Resistance against Japan for the last two years and the Mongolian people in resisting Japan for the last few months; and it will certainly give help to any war for the liberation of the masses or of a nation which may break out in other countries in the future, and will certainly give help to any wars that contribute to the defence of peace…. This is the second question I wanted to talk about.

Many people in China are bewildered by the fact that Soviet troops have entered Poland. The Polish question should be viewed from various angles.… Germany started the war in order to plunder the Polish people and smash one flank of the Anglo-French imperialist front. By its nature, Germany's war is imperialist and should be opposed, not approved. As for Britain and France, they have regarded Poland as an object of plunder for their finance capital, exploited her to thwart the German imperialist attempt at a world re-division of the spoils, and made her a flank of their own imperialist front. Thus their war is an imperialist war, their so-called aid to Poland being merely for the purpose of contending with Germany for the domination of Poland, and this war, too, should be opposed, not approved…. In the war, this reactionary Polish government willingly drove the Polish people to serve as cannon-fodder for British and French finance capital, and it willingly served as a sector of the reactionary front of international finance capital…. As for the Polish people, they are victims; they should rise up against the oppression of the German fascists and against their own reactionary landlord and bourgeois classes, and establish an independent, free and democratic Polish state. Without the slightest doubt, our sympathy must go out to the Polish people.

As for the Soviet Union, its actions have been perfectly just. It was confronted by two problems. The first problem was whether to let the whole of Poland fall under the rule of German imperialism or to help the minority nationalities of eastern Poland win their liberation. It chose the second course. A vast stretch of territory inhabited by Byelorussians and Ukrainians had been snatched from the new-born Soviet state by the German imperialists as far back as 1918 when the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk was signed, and it was later arbitrarily put under the rule of the reactionary Polish government by the Treaty of Versailles. What the Soviet Union has now done is merely to recover its lost territory, liberate the oppressed Byelorussians and Ukrainians and save them from German oppression. The news dispatches of the last few days show how warmly these minority nationalities are welcoming the Red Army with food and drink as their liberator, while not a single report of this kind has come in from western Poland which has been occupied by German troops or from the places in western Germany which have been occupied by French troops…. Chamberlain resorted to all kinds of intimidation and bribery to get Germany to renounce the Soviet-German non-aggression treaty and turn her guns on the Soviet Union. This intrigue has been going on for some time and will continue. The powerful Soviet army's entry into eastern Poland…. was at the same time a practical move to prevent the forces of German aggression from expanding eastward and to frustrate Chamberlain's intrigue…. This is the third question I wanted to talk about.

The whole situation since the conclusion of the Soviet-German non-aggression treaty constitutes a great blow to Japan and a great help to China; it strengthens the position of those resisting Japan and weakens the capitulators. The Chinese people have rightly welcomed this treaty…. As for the talk about a Japanese-Soviet non-aggression treaty, the Soviet Union has been proposing it for many years but Japan has invariably rejected it…. Even if such a treaty were to be concluded, the Soviet Union would certainly not agree to anything that would restrict its freedom of action in helping China. The interests of the Soviet Union will always conform and never conflict with the interests of China's national liberation. I hold this as absolutely beyond doubt….

Now that the imperialist world war has broken out, foreign help is coming chiefly from three sources: (1) the socialist Soviet Union, (2) the people of the capitalist countries, and (3) the oppressed nations in the colonies and semi-colonies. These are our only reliable sources of help…. China should maintain strict neutrality towards the belligerents in the imperialist war and not join either side. To maintain that China should join the Anglo-French imperialist war front is a capitulator's view, which is harmful to the War of Resistance as well as to the independence and liberation of the Chinese nation, and it should be flatly rejected. This is the fourth question I wanted to talk about.

These four questions are being widely discussed by our fellow countrymen…. Here I have given some of my basic views on these questions, and I hope that readers will not spare their comments.

Courtesy: People’s Democracy dated 09-05-2010 (www.pd.cpim.org)





Friday, May 7, 2010


AFTER a month long break since March 16, the second phase of the budget session began on April 15 to pass the demands for grants for railways, external affairs, rural development, tribal affairs, water resources and road transport and highways. Lok Sabha will take up the discussion on finance bill on April 28 and pass it on April 29. Rajya Sabha will discuss the working of ministry of power; home affairs; youth affairs and sports; consumer affairs, food and public distribution; and housing and urban poverty alleviation. Apart from passing the railway appropriation bill, it may also take up the anti-farmers seeds bill for consideration.
Source: People’s Democracy dated 02-05-2010 (www.pd.cpim.org)


During the Lok Sabha discussion on the demands for grants for the ministry of external affairs, A Sampath, CPI (M), said there is a need to ascertain the exact number of Indians living and working abroad, and it is the government’s duty to protect their interests. We need post in Indian embassies such officers as are well versed in regional languages, improve the functioning of and provide better infrastructure facilities to passport offices, arrange more aircraft and more services for the passengers going abroad or coming back, and give the Indians living and working abroad the voting right. Funds must be provided for the welfare schemes for non-resident Indians. There must be coordination between the ministries of external affairs, overseas Indian affairs, home, finance, commerce etc. We must open more passport offices and provide sufficient staff in our passport offices and Indian missions.

In the course of his intervention, the member also warned against playing second fiddle to the US interests, adding that will not be tolerated by the people of India. We have to strengthen our relations with the third world countries.
Source: People’s Democracy dated 02-05-2010 (www.pd.cpim.org)


The government was put on the mat on the IPL issue. Describing the IPL as scandalous and abuse of the people’s affection for cricket, Sitaram Yechury said while a vast majority of people were suffering economic hardships because of so-called resource crunch, the income tax department had not investigated the IPL’s failure to file tax return for two years and why it was exempted from any tax in the name of sports. The base price of one IPL team was Rs 15,000 crore. The money is coming through the Mauritius route. We have been asking for a review of the double taxation avoidance treaty with that country for long time. How dubious money is being legalised through this route, needs to be investigated. He demanded a joint parliamentary committee to probe into the matter. In Lok Sabha, Basudeb Acharia demanded constitution of a JPC to examine the irregularities and malpractices in IPL.

In Rajya Sabha, the CPI (M)’s Shyamal Chakraborty initiated the discussion on the working of the ministry of power. He expressed his agony to the acute power crisis for a long time, saying the Planning Commission never fixed its target as per the need of the people, industries and agricultural sector, and its target was never fulfilled. For example, its target for the current five year plan is 79,000 MW but achievement is only 27,000 MW in three years. Is it possible to achieve 73 per cent of the target fixed in these remaining two years, he asked.

Now thermal power stations are fully dependent on coal supply. The short supply of railway wagon and non-availability of quality coal are hurdles in power generation. As for the plant load factor and transmission loss, these are highest in India in the world. In public sector power plants, workers are deprived of their legitimate rights. In NHPC, they are being treated as anti-nationals or militants because of their agitation for legitimate and constitutional rights. On the Hyde Act, he said we opposed the very agreement which endangers our sovereignty and our capacity independent nuclear power generation. We have huge reserves of thorium which can help us generate power for 400 years.

The member also complained that Damodar Valley Corporation (DVC) is denying the West Bengal of its rights, not supplying it the required power. The sudden release of water by the DVC causes flood in a vast area in West Bengal. If the Balpahari reservoir is constructed, the people of West Bengal will certainly get rid of this recurrent suffering. He appealed to the minister to visit the state to see the suffering of affected people there.

During the discussion on the ministry of youth affairs and sports, Saman Pathak, CPI(M), said the youth policy formulated in 2003 has various schemes for encouraging the youth. A number of announcements were made and a number of organisations were set up. But this policy has not benefited the rural and tribal youth. They are unemployed but there is no policy to financially empower them. We still lack a comprehensive national policy for sports and are unable to bring the talent of tribal youth in the arena of sports; the benefits of various schemes are not reaching them. Cricket is the only game getting everyone’s attention and the government is not caring for other sports. Today, cricket has itself become an arena of gambling and the talent of a player is auctioned. The IPL has become the conduit for using black money. Where is the fund coming from? This is a serious issue and needs a JPC probe. Big stars, politicians and businessmen are involved in IPL, and so many concessions have been given to IPL.

Expressing anguish over our standing in the sports world, Pathak said we need to provide proper infrastructure in all areas, including tribal and rural areas, in order to promote the sports spirit among the youth. He also expressed concern over the reported delays in creation of the necessary infrastructures for the Commonwealth games.
Source: People’s Democracy dated 02-05-2010 (www.pd.cpim.org)


Lok Sabha has passed the National Green Tribunal Bill, 2009. Participating in the debate, CPI (M)’s M B Rajesh objected to the content of the bill. He said India was going to be the first country to set up a separate tribunal for the adjudication of environmental matters but the government cannot do justice to the issue because of its obsession with neo-liberalism. In the era of liberalisation, there is a contradiction between development and the environmental and social concerns throughout the world including our country. The growing greed for grabbing natural resources for profit has led to exploitation of nature and environment, but this legislation cannot be an effective instrument to protect our people’s interest in environmental battles. On the contrary, it may become a sharp-edged weapon in corporate hands. The bill would also restrict access to justice with centralisation of powers with the union government. Clause 3 of the bill gives too much power to the executive. In keeping with the Law Commission’s recommendations, Rajesh suggested the each state must have a bench. Clause 22(2) has a provision to declare a claim “untenable” and another provision to impose penalty on a claimant. This is a deliberate attempt to prevent people from bringing issues before the tribunal. There is a five-year stipulation for filing application for compensation though damage may occur over a long period. Therefore, this fixed period of five years should be removed. Civil courts are barred from adjudicating matters that lie within the tribunal’s jurisdiction. This is completely contradictory to the Law Commission’s recommendations. So the jurisdiction of other courts must not be barred and there is no provision for appeal in this bill.

As most projects are located in tribal and rural India, the local community’s livelihood and rights are always in jeopardy. So we must have the criteria that enable the appointment of social scientists and non-bureaucrats. But there is no space for social scientists and there is no mention of the socio-economic impact of environmental issues. The bill narrows the culpability and responsibility for environmental accidents. The definition of polluting activities should be more comprehensive and inclusive.

The most unacceptable aspect of the bill is its pro-corporate orientation, with many provisions favouring the private sector. There is a reference to workmen but it is not comprehensive enough to include contract labourers, casual or daily wage workers. Earlier, private companies could not appeal in a court against the government’s refusal to grant environmental clearance but now the bill provides its possibility. Expressing his serious concern, Rajesh said the bill would encourage exploitation of Palakkad type in Kerala which is experiencing large-scale loot and exploitation of groundwater by Coca Cola. He demanded increase in the provision of imprisonment from 3 to 14 years. The bill, in its sum and substance, is undemocratic and does not protect the interest of the people, he concluded.

Source: People’s Democracy dated 02-05-2010 (www.pd.cpim.org)


The first day, April 15, witnessed an all out attack on the government on the question of its lackadaisical dealing with the Maoist menace in the country. The issue of Maoist attack on CRPF personnel in Dantewada district of Chhattisgarh came up for discussion in both the houses. The CPI(M) leaders, Sitaram Yechury in Rajya Sabha and Basudeb Acharia in Lok Sabha, charged the ruling parties for compromising with the anti-national forces for mere survival of the government. Earlier they had displayed similar opportunism in 14th Lok Sabha on the issue of a nuclear deal with the US. (For Yechury’s Speech, see our April 25 issue.)In Lok Sabha, Basudeb Acharia said the massacre of 76 CRPF personnel had shocked the entire nation. What has happened at Dantewada is not the result of a long preparation for several days. The problem of Maoism has spread over about 82 districts in several states including three districts of West Bengal --- Purulia, Bankura and West Midnapore. Why has this problem proliferated? Because the government cannot dare antagonise a UPA partner. The latter is also pressing the government to withdraw the central paramilitary forces employed in West Midnapore. The Maoists were invited and given shelter by the same UPA partner. How can, then, this government be able to tackle the situation? A Trinamul Congress MP openly extended support to Maoists and wrote a song praising the Maoists. But the government has not issued any statement against these activities of UPA partner, Trinamul Congress. As a result there is proliferation of Maoist activities in West Bengal. Their motive is to spread anarchy in parts of West Bengal. In order to tackle this menace, there should be a coordinated approach. There is displacement and dispossession among the tribals. We have been demanding a policy for land acquisition, rehabilitation and resettlement. But the government is sitting idle. There is in fact the need for a coordinated approach and united effort, with the government speaking in one voice.
Source: People’s Democracy dated 02-05-2010 (www.pd.cpim.org)


THE near fatal radiation exposure in the Mayapuri scrap has led to hospitalisation of 11 people. The cause has now been identified as radioactive cobalt 60 sources that were mixed up in the scrap. What neither the Atomic Energy Commission nor the government has disclosed is that it is not the first time that we have found radioactive cobalt 60 in metal scrap. Almost two years back, Germany reported finding radioactive steel coming from India. The French followed with reports of radioactive buttons in elevators originating from radioactive steel, again from India. It is amazing that even after this and known dangers to the people who would be inadvertently exposed to high radiation, the government of India and its agencies took no steps regarding the prevention of such incidents. Neither do we have any clarity on how such incidents have occurred or from where the offending radioactive material originated.

The Atomic Energy Commission, the keeper of the nation's nuclear safety has virtually washed its hands off the affair, claiming that the radiation material appears to have originated from imported scrap and AEC had no responsibility regarding this. This is what Prithviraj Chavan has also echoed in the parliament. What this shows is the utter callousness with which the government authorities conduct their nuclear affairs. To add gratuitous insult to radiation injury, Prithviraj Chavan tried to relate it to the Nuclear Liability Bill pending in the parliament – apparently this bill has provisions relating to radiation damage from scrap. The truth is that the Nuclear Liability Bill covers only nuclear reactors, and the last we know, there are none in Mayapuri!

Now it transpires that the radioactive material originated from the Delhi University Chemistry Department, which had disposed of as scrap a gamma radiation equipment with an active source of cobalt 60. Therefore, this falls squarely within Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) /AEC's jurisdiction, as they are supposed to track all radioactive sources in the country.

The story of radioactive scrap is not new. In August 2008, a container from India containing bars of steel to be sent forward to Russia, was detected by port authorities in Hamburg to have very high radioactivity levels. In one day, the radioactivity level was equal to what is a safe dosage for a year. Neither was this an isolated incident. According the Spiegel Online International (Finds of Radioactive Steel on the Rise in Germany, Christian Schwägerl, 02/16/2009), “For months, similar cases have been found across Germany, all involving bits of metal contaminated with radioactive cobalt. And most of them come from the same source: three steelworks in India, in particular a company called Vipras Casting, based in Mumbai”. Later reports indicated that apart from Vipras Casting, there were another five companies involved. They were Bunts, Laxmi Steels, SMK Steels, Pradeep Metals, Goradia Special Steels Ltd.

The Atomic Energy Commission and the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) has total responsibility in the country for all such matters. Satya Pal Agarwal, head of the radiological safety division of India’s Atomic Energy Regulatory Board stated at that time that AERB was tracking the whole supply chain. We have yet to hear what happened after the supply chain was “tracked”. Instead, we hear exactly similar sounding statements emanating from AERB. The only grudging additional information given is that scanners are supposed to be installed in all the ports, which are lagging behind. No details of what are the steps that AEC or AERB took after the last round of radioactive contamination was reported.

The issue is clear. Radioactive material is mixed up in scrap – either imported or local -- and finding its way into steel making. Obviously, iron and steel scrap is used extensively in India and elsewhere for making steel. This steel is not only exported but also finds its way into domestically manufactured engineering goods. This is the danger – such “hot” steel is circulating in India already and the government is taking no steps regarding such danger to its people. If more than 150 tonnes of steel have been reported to have such radioactive contamination, how much is circulating here? It would be foolish to think that only exported steel has been contaminated and not domestic manufacture.


In today's day and age, peoples lives are assumed to have less importance than the value of our exports. Obviously, if the steel used in engineering industry gets contaminated, this poses a huge risk for our 23 billion dollar exports in this sector. If not for the health of its people, at least for protecting its industry and its exports, we would have expected the Indian government to carry out an aggressive program with respect to import of suspect iron and steel scrap. Yet, after almost two years, we find that the scanners and radiation measuring instruments to monitor imported scrap is yet to be functional in our ports. The government has passed the buck to the steel makers telling them that they must check for radioactive contamination of all their inputs.

In a statement to the press, Dr S Banerjee, chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission said , "Whatever happened in Delhi had nothing to do with the activities of my department. The scrap materials come from other countries and it was not possible for the Department of Atomic Energy to check at the entry points if there were any radioactive materials in them. Checking all the containers laden with scrap was not possible. Instead, scanning could be done. While a decision to install scanners had been taken, implementation was taking time." This statement makes clear – according to AEC – they are not responsible for radioactive material if it is mixed up in imported scrap. According to Dr A Goplakrishnan, former chairman, AERB, AEC chairman's position is not in conformity with the constitutional responsibilities that AEC and its subordinate institutions have. Under the country's law – the Atomic Energy Act of 1962, it is their responsibility and this is an attempt by AEC and AERB to evade their legal responsibilities. If we take into account that AEC and AERB have been fully aware of the risk of imported radioactive scrap, their evasion of responsibilities becomes even more glaring.

As Dr Gopalkrishnan points out(
http://news.rediff.com/column/2010/apr/22/delhi-radiation-case-aec-aerb-also-culpable.htm), the Act's sections 16 and 17 makes clear that monitoring all such possible radioactive substances is a part of AEC's duties. Subsequently, Atomic Energy Regulatory Board was set up in 1983 and this part of the mandate was transferred to AERB. Dr Gopalkrishnan points out, “One of the responsibilities legally assigned to the AERB through its founding notification is to review operational experience in the light of the radiological safety criteria recommended by the International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP), International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and other similar international bodies, adapt them to suit Indian conditions, and thereby evolve major safety policies.

This aspect is especially relevant in dealing with issues of missing and misplaced powerful radioactive sources, a subject in which IAEA has enormous experience and data bases. IAEA has also, over the years, developed procedures for preventive and corrective action, in consultation with various countries. After evolving appropriate national policies based on this world experience, the AERB is to implement them and maintain a high degree of nuclear safety and security in the country”.

The AEC Chairman cannot wish away the statutory obligations that the Act imposed on AEC. In fact, the radioactive steel cases in Europe were all dealt with their respective nuclear agencies who also put in place the measures to prevent such occurrences as well as the safe disposal of the radioactive steel. Contrast this with India, where the steel company was told to bury the 21 tonnes of radioactive steel in its premises. The company also complained that AERB was not very cooperative on this question. (http://www.timesnow.tv/India-dumping-ground-for-radioactive-waste/articleshow/4333103.cms).

One of the advantage of radioactive contamination for post mortem purposes is that it does leave a physical trace. The people are entitled to ask what happened last time when AEC/AERB traced the path of radioactive scrap going into steel plants? Is it the same source that caused the problem last time that is responsible now also for the Mayapuri incident or is it a new source? Where did the scrap originate last time and what are the steps that AEC/AERB took then? None of these questions have been answered and given AEC/AERB's record of opaque functioning and stonewalling all questions of safety, none may materialise.


India is already offering itself as a hazardous dumping centre to the world. Ship-breaking in Alang has come under the repeated scanner of environmental groups. It now seems with its lackadaisical attitude to radioactive waste and failure to install scanners even after two years of such known cases of dumping, we are signalling a window of opportunity for unscrupulous nuclear waste disposal companies abroad. Come and dump your radioactive cobalt here, we will take some more time before we can even monitor such shipments.

The Delhi University case also shows that AERB needs to strengthen its monitoring and tracking of all radioactive sources. Sadly, the response from AERB and AEC does not show and increased awareness of this. This is what we need to rectify to avoid more such incidents.

Source: People’s Democracy dated 02-05-2010 (www.pd.cpim.org)



THE all-India hartal, that took place on April 28 as scheduled, scored massive response from the people all over the country. The action was a follow-up of the Left parties’ national level rally organised in New Delhi on March 12 and the Jail Bharo (Fill up Jails) campaign all over the country on April 8. We have already carried the reports of these actions in these pages.

All these actions, including the hartal on April 28, were meant to register the people’s anger and protest against the skyrocketing and unending rise in the prices of all the essential commodities across the board, and against the administered hikes in the prices of diesel, petrol and fertilisers.

Though it was the Left parties which had initially called for the all-India hartal, the people’s mood against the price rise was such that nine more non-Congress, secular parties extended support to the hartal call and joined the actions on April 28.

Below we publish a cross section of the reports that we have so far received from various parts of the country on the success of the hartal call, accompanied by rail roko (halt the trains), rasta roko (block the roads), demonstrations, processions, dharnas (squat-in), court arrest and other protest actions.
THE nationwide hartal on demands affecting the cause of the people was a glorious success in West Bengal. There was spontaneous participation by the people everywhere. We saw innumerable red flags fluttering in the capital city, Kolkata, and the surrounding districts, as marches were taken out in support of the people’s demands. Wall writings were done in view of the upcoming civic polls.
Shops downed shutters. The chimneys no longer belched smoke. The furnaces were cold. The rice paddies were deserted. Trains, Duranto or otherwise, halted, stopped in their tracks. Passengers were provided with food packets and cold water plus hot tea at numerous stations, and mothers were supplied with milk pouches for them to feed the babies. CPI(M) and the Left Front workers attended to the affected people.

In Kolkata, the entire city, as one bourgeois news channel mournfully put it, turned into a vast football ground, interspersed by with numerous cricket ‘pitches.’ Children as well as youth had a great ‘field day.’ Government offices, banks, post offices, ports and docks, airports remained devoid of activities. The Kolkata metro had a kind of ‘trial run’ in the morning and then the staff joined the rank of the strikers.
There were occasional notes of discordance. Particularly unfortunate was the incident at the Pandua railway station in Hooghly where Trinamul miscreants snatched food packets from CPI(M) volunteers and threw the precious food and milk onto the tracks. Altercations ensued and the goons soon made themselves scarce in front of the popular wrath. Three CPI(M) workers received injuries.

In the terai region and dooars areas, an unholy alliance of the GJM and the so-called Adivasi Vikas Parishad (AVP) saw some work being forcibly done in a few tea gardens. The percentage was small enough to be insignificant.

As Biman Basu, state secretary of the CPI(M), put it during a crowded press conference in the Muzaffar Ahmad Bhavan, the hartal was total, successful and peaceful as well. Elsewhere, Pradesh Congress goons beat up Trinamul counterparts and vice versa over ‘tickets’ for the civic body polls. The people chose to ignore the antics.


THE hartal was complete in Kerala as well. People fully cooperated with the call for hartal. All the shops and commercial establishments remained closed. Road and rail traffic were paralysed. LDF workers halted the trains at several places and then the rail traffic was completely paralysed from Kasargode to Thiruvananthapuam. Ministers did not go to the office. Ministers who are the members of the CPI(M)’s Kerala state secretariat walk down all the way from their respective residences to the AKG Centre to attend the secretariat meeting. Attendance in government offices in Kerala was very nominal. The hartal was a total success in the state and resembled a bandh to a big extent. In major cities and towns, LDF workers held demonstrations in support of the hartal.


THE 12 hour hartal called by 13 political parties scored total success in Tripura. All over the state, people participated in it spontaneously and brought normal life came to a standstill in all the subdivisions of the state. All the shops and markets were closed excepting the ones that were exempted as parts of emergency services. Roads and highways wore a totally deserted look as buses, autos and rickshaws did not ply. All the bus stands including the inter-state bus terminus were totally empty. Trains were off the track; the otherwise busy Agartala railway station too was completely deserted.

Schools and colleges throughout the state were closed. Attendance in government and private offices was nil. Picketing was organised at the gates of numerous offices. The hartal was a complete success in the tea gardens of Sadar North area and in North Tripura district. A complete shutdown was observed in the Bodhjungnagar industrial growth centre near Agartala. Courts, banks, insurance companies and other financial establishments also remained closed. Transport workers’ organisation and other mass organisations took out processions at different places. All over the state the hartal remained totally peaceful, with no untoward incident reported from any corner of the state.

The Tripura Left Front Committee heartily congratulated the people of the state for making the hartal a complete success. In a statement, it termed the hartal as spontaneous and unprecedented in the recent times. The huge response of the people was, maintained the Left Front Committee, an outburst of their anger over the spiralling rise in the prices of essential commodities and the centre’s negative attitude towards keeping a check on it. At the same time the committee appealed to the masses to thoroughly rebuff the anti-people forces in the ensuing general election to the TTAADC on May 3 by ensuring the victory of the Left Front candidates in all the seats with a greater margin.

NEARLY 10,000 activists including state leaders belonging to Left parties were taken into custody when they tried to block trains and buses at different places in Tamil Nadu as part of nation-wide hartal protest against price rise.

THE hartal was a total success in the western, eastern and southern parts of the state. In Tirupur, the western Tamilnadu city of garments and hosiery items, the general strike scored total success with almost all shops and commercial establishments downing their shutters. More than 1,000 garment and hosiery manufacturing units remained closed, as majority of the workers belonged to the unions affiliated to the Left parties.

In Coimbatore, nearly 50 per cent of the shops and commercial establishments, particularly in busy market areas, remained closed while traffic was thin on the road. A majority of private buses and auto-rickshaws stayed off the roads.

The Shoranur-Coimbatore Passenger, Kannur-Coimbatore Passenger and Coimbatore-Kannur Passenger were cancelled altogether due to the hartal, railway sources said. The Coimbatore- Thrissur Passenger was also cancelled between Coimbatore and Shoranur stations.
In Karur and Erode districts also, which are in the western part, textile manufacturing units remaining closed. Tens of thousands of workers participated in the strike.

In the eastern Tamilnadu, Thiruvarur and Nagapattinam districts witnessed total strike. In Kumbakonam, most of the shops remained closed and vehicular traffic was thin. In Cuddalore, private buses did not ply in the district while shops and business establishments downed their shutters.
In the southern part of the state, there was total hartal in Kovilpatti, Rajapalayam, Sankarankoil, Srivaikundam, Thoothukudi and many parts of Kanniyakumari, Thirunelveli, Virudhunagar and Sivagangai districts. Textile industries, match box and crackers manufacturing industries remained closed due to workers going on a strike. In Dindugul district, all 40 leather factories were closed and nearly 2500 workers struck work.

In the capital city of Chennai, more than 500 activists were taken into custody at the Central Railway station when they tried to block the Navajeevan Express. More than 500 cadre were arrested when they tried to disrupt the suburban rail services at Guindy station. Another 500 workers were held when they tried to stage a demonstration at the Tiruvottiur post office.

In many other parts of the state, activists of the CPI(M), CPI, AIADMK, MDMK and AIFB staged road roko actions and hundreds of them were arrested by the police. Auto-rickshaws in many parts did not come out on the road. Transport workers belonging to the CITU, AITUC and other unions participated in the strike. Nearly 10,000 medical representatives also struck down their work.

In many parts including Dindigul, Vatthalagundu and Palani, DMK goons unleashed attacks on CPI(M) cadre. These attacks took place in the presence of the police. In Trichy and some places, DMK men attacked the traders also and forced them to open their shops.

CPI(M) state secretary G Ramakrishnan and CPI state secretary D Pandian condemned this anti-democratic attitude of the ruling DMK and appreciated the grand response of the strike call coming from the people from all walks of life.

Meanwhile, opposition members, including those of the AIADMK, were evicted en masse from the Tamilnadu Assembly after they stalled proceedings for about 15 minutes as they sought to raise the price rise issue over which the Left and other parties had called for a nationwide bandh. The problem started when the AIADMK, CPI(M), CPI and MDMK members wanted to raise the issue during the question hour but were declined permission by the speaker R Avudaiyappan. However, the members did not relent and shouted slogans. Despite repeated appeals by the speaker to resume their seats, they continued slogan shouting. After about 15 minutes, the speaker ordered the marshals to evict them en masse. The evicted members continued to shout slogans against price rise outside the house also. CPI(M) floor leader K Balabharathi told reporters that the speaker had denied permission to raise the price rise issue.


LEADERS and activists of the Left parties and Telugu Desam Party held demonstrations in towns and villages across Andhra Pradesh in support of the all India hartal on April 27. They also staged sit-in in front of depots of the Andhra Pradesh State Road Transport Corporation (APSRTC), leading to curtailment of services in many places, including Hyderabad, Vijayawada, Vishakapatnam and other districts.

Government offices, both central and state, were closed in most districts along with banks and other offices. Owners of shops and other business establishments voluntarily shut down in support of the hartal throughout the state. The hartal was near total in Khammam district. Even the cinema halls remained closed till evening.

The industrial centre in Vishakapatnam, which houses the Vishakapatnam Steel Plant, the Bharat Heavy Plates and Vessels (BHPV) etc, was deserted with workers and employees striking work. Express trains passing through were obstructed. Similarly, there was total bandh in the Singareni collieries in Ramagundam.

CPI(M) and CPI state secretaries, B V Raghavulu and K Narayana respectively, and the leaders of the Forward Bloc, RSP and TDP led the protest at the busy RTC Cross Roads Junction in Hyderabad, bringing traffic to a grinding halt. Amidst resistance, the leaders and scores of Left activists were arrested by the police and taken to the police station in Gosha Mahal locality. Telugu Desam chief N Chandrababu Naidu met the Left leaders there. Speaking to newspersons, he said the failure of the Congress governments at the centre and in Andhra Pradesh to keep the prices of essential commodities under control has made life difficult for common people.


BRAVING the scorching heat of the summer season, thousands of activists of the CPI(M) and other Left and secular parties conducted militant actions like rail roko and rasta roko in several districts of Maharashtra on April 27 to denounce the UPA central government’s hike in the prices of diesel, petrol and fertilisers and to protest against the central and state government’s neo-liberal policies that have led to astronomical rises in the prices of essential commodities across the board.

In Solapur, a huge rally of nearly 20,000 people, led by the CPI(M) and CPI, marched to the district collector’s office and blocked all the roads on the way. There had already been a Solapur bandh on April 8, coinciding with the Left parties’ nationwide Jail Bharo stir. This was the largest protest rally in Solapur since the state assembly elections last October and the lion’s share of participants had been mobilised by the CPI(M). They included a large number of unorganised women workers from the beedi and domestic work sectors, powerloom workers, big sections of the Muslim minority and also the peasantry.

In Thane district, thousands of CPI(M) activists conducted militant rasta roko stirs at 10 centres in the Talasari, Dahanu, Vikramgad, Jawhar, Mokhada and Wada tehsils and thus brought all traffic in the tribal belt of Thane district to a complete halt for several hours. Over 5000 activists were arrested and then released. The prestigious Mumbai-Delhi National Highway No 8 was blocked for nearly two hours at two places --- at Dhundalwadi in Dahanu tehsil and Talasari in Talasari tehsil --- leading to serpentine queues of traffic that stretched for over 25 km on both sides due to the blockade. In the other eight centres, it was the state highways that were blocked for over six to eight hours. They included the Dahanu-Nashik and Thane-Manor highways. Here also there were huge traffic snarls due to the blockade.

Rail Roko actions were held at three places in Maharashtra --- Igatpuri in Nashik district where over 800 of the CPI(M) took part, Nandurbar in Nandurbar district where 286 of the CPI(M) took part and Hatkanagale in Kolhapur district where over 200 of the Republican, Left and Democratic Front (RLDF) took part.

In Nashik district, a 2500-strong rasta roko stir was held in Dindori tehsil and a 1000-strong rasta roko in Chandwad tehsil. Rasta roko stirs were held in several other districts also.

In Parbhani district, a total bandh was observed in the tehsil centres of Selu and Manvat and rallies were organised there. In Parbhani city there was a big joint rasta roko stir that was eminently successful. In Nagpur, Hingoli, Latur, Kolhapur and other centres, rallies and demonstrations were held.

In Mumbai, big demonstrations were held at Andheri, Bhandup and Wadala. Reports from some other districts are awaited. Most of these actions received excellent publicity in the local print and electronic media.

At Nandurbar, a gathering of more than 500 people, wielding placards and shouting slogans, walked through the streets with red flags. The militant demonstration stared from Hutatma Shirish Chowk, moved through various routes and went up to the Nandurbar railway station. In spite of the presence of a large police force, the peaceful action programme by 286 CPI(M) cadre staged a rail roko agitation and stopped the Ahmedabad-Puri Express while shouting slogans on the tracks. Shahada also saw 239 people conducting a rasta roko agitation, thus paralysing the traffic. At Prakasha, shops remained closed. There was a demonstration and rasta roko agitation, causing traffic jam. Here the CPI(M) members were joined by the slogan shouting local people of Prakasha, shouting slogans. The successful protest action covered the whole of Prakasha, including the busy market place. In Taloda, a rasta roko agitation was conducted, affecting the traffic on the Aamlad Junction Road.

In Dhule city, the CPI(M), CPI, CITU and Satyashodhak Communist Party conducted took out a procession through the main market which includes the area of Old Agra Road. All the shops pulled down their shutters.


THERE was a successful bandh in Orissa on the day, paralysing all the central government offices, central public sector undertakings, post offices, BSNL offices, the Reserve Bank of India branch office, headquarters of the East Coast Railway, banks and insurance offices. In most of the districts, the states government offices including block and tehsil offices also remained closed. The judiciary, including the High Court, did not function. Road transport and railway traffic were paralysed. Shops and commercial establishments kept their shutters down. About 2,000 activists of the CPI(M) alone were arrested. In Orissa, seven parties, viz the Biju Janata Dal, CPI(M), CPI, Forward Bloc, Samajwadi Party, RJD and JMM, organised the hartal in response to the call given by 13 Left and secular parties at the national level.


THE nationwide hartal called for by 13 parties including the Indian Nation Lok Dal (INLD) elicited encouraging response from all sections of the people, making the action an overwhelming success. In fact, people expressed their anger through a general strike in all the districts of Haryana state.

The strike was complete in all the main bazaars and other markets in Rohtak city. In other cities and towns as well, slogan shouting workers and activists of the sponsoring parties took out processions against the rise in the prices of essential commodities and demanding the roll-back of the enhanced prices of petrol, diesel and fertilisers.

Leaders of the INLD, CPI(M) and other parties have warned the UPA government that it must learn a lesson from the widespread bandh and reverse its anti-people policies.


THE call for an all-India hartal by four Left parties and nine other non-Congress secular parties against the relentless rise in prices evoked a very good response all over Punjab. Rail roko, chakka jam, demonstrations and dharnas took place at more than 30 places all over the state, and more than 20,000 people participated in these actions. The protesters shouted slogans against the anti-people and pro-rich policies of the UPA-2 government.

The actions took place at Ludhiana, Dhuri, Amritsar, Hoshiarpur, SBS Nagar, Garhshankar, Mukerian, Rajpura, Jalandhar, Gurdaspur, Batala, Pathankot, Anandpur Sahib, Tarn Taran, Bathinda, Mansa, Budhlada, Muktasar, Moga, Patran, Shahkot, Nakoder, Sultanpur, Sardulgarh and Mohali, among other places.

Source: People’s Democracy dated 02-05-2010 (www.pd.cpim.org)


THE RSS-BJP combine in Kerala, currently facing a severe political crisis, is trying to divert public attention from it through planned moves. Some recent incidents in Kannur district of Kerala show that, as in the past, the RSS-BJP combine has once again chosen Kannur for its abominable game plan.

It was the election of a new state president of the BJP that triggered the crisis in the party. But a panicked leadership is spitting scandalous lies against the CPI (M) so as to cover up its own crisis.

At the same time, the RSS-BJP combine was once again exposed after steel bombs were recovered from inside the tomb of a BJP worker in a panchayat owned public crematorium at Muzhappilangad beach, near Kannur town. The BJP leadership then cooked up a crooked plot to broadcast their rhetoric of “CPI (M) violence” in Kannur. They began to circulate fictitious, and ridiculous, episodes for the purpose so as to prevent the true face of the party from being unmasked once again. To recover the bombs, the police had had to demolish the said tomb. Immediately after that, the RSS got the tomb reconstructed but a few hours later, in order to divert attention from the dreadful episode, they got the same reconstructed tomb damaged and began to blame the CPI(M) for it. This they must have thought to be necessary, as all sections of the society were horrified and angered over the discovery that the RSS could hide bombs even inside a tomb, and the people were widely condemning it. While the common practice is that people respect their dead, in Kannur the RSS is using even graves for its politics of hatred. There is, however, nothing surprising in it. In the past, the RSS had been unhesitatingly hiding bombs in houses and temple areas.

The RSS-BJP leadership is also shamefully propagating the lie that CPI (M) workers had hurled bombs against their state president and subsequently instigated violence in the district.

The recovery of these bombs also indicated that the RSS had been planning for a massacre of the people. While the RSS always inculcates among its cadre a sense of animosity and hatred against certain groups, since the Malegaon and other exposures it is now becoming increasingly clear that this vicious, bloodthirsty organisation is also a terrorist outfit killing innocent people.

In Kannur itself, several instances have come to light in which sacks of bombs were discovered in RSS centres, houses and temples. It was not very long ago when two RSS men were killed in an accidental blast while making bombs in a temple in Patyam panchayat. But in order to divert pubic attention, the RSS leadership shamelessly depicted even this incident as a CPI (M) handiwork.

However, the people have always rejected all such attempts of the RSS-BJP leadership, made with the help of the rightwing media. The same leadership that shouted hoarse that it was the CPI (M) violence which had damaged the reconstructed tomb, did not even think it necessary to lodge a complaint in this regard. The whole episode has further alienated the RSS-BJP combine and their leadership is now cooking up false stories to get away from humiliation.

The story of a bomb attack against the BJP state president was fashioned with this very aim. The rightwing visual media, without much ado, indulged in “breaking (the) news” that Marxists had attacked the BJP leader with bombs. The gentleman had lodged a complaint in this regard, saying that bombs were hurled on his car near the toll-gate at Muzhapilangad when he was on his way to Thalassery. The media organisations were also informed. But the police did not find any sign of a bomb blast after it rushed to the spot and conducted a thorough investigation. After a detailed enquiry, however, the police did find evidence of crackers in a nearby bus shelter. The final conclusion was that the BJP leader had in fact misreported the sound of crackers as a bomb blast! It is a fact that these days people are widely using crackers because it is a festival season (Vishu). In the face of all these vivid facts, the BJP leadership had had no guts to deny the truth. Though the party called for protest demonstrations in the state, no one came forward anywhere in their “militant” protest. All the channels that indulged in “breaking (the) news” of the bomb attack, had to swallow their lie. In such an embarrassing situation, the RSS-BJP leadership finally disappeared from the scene. Yet, the people still anticipate more such designs from the RSS-BJP combine as a diversionary tactic.
( P Sasi is secretary of the CPI (M)’s Kannur district committee in Kerala )

Source: People’s Democracy dated 02-05-2010 (www.pd.cpim.org)


On April 15, a number of Muslim women’s organisations and the All India Democratic Women’s Association issued the following joint statement on the women’s reservation bill. On the same day, women’s organisations staged a dharna at Jantar Mantar in new Delhi to press the issue.

WE, the women from various organisations working for the rights of Muslim women in India, demand that the 33 per cent women’s reservation bill be passed in the Lok Sabha in the current session of parliament. The passage of the bill in the Rajya Sabha has been a significant step, but it cannot become law unless it is passed in the Lok Sabha and is endorsed by at least 15 state assemblies.

Mandatory reservations for women in panchayats and local bodies have facilitated the entry of lakhs of women in villages, small towns and cities, into the political arena. As a result, a large number of Muslim women also had the opportunity for the first time to enter the public sphere from which they had been absent. Today, Muslim women are actively carrying out their responsibilities as sarpanchas, panchayat members, BDC members, ZP chairpersons and members, town area chairpersons, mayors and councillors in the states of India. They have faced tremendous odds to enter the electoral fray and many of them are role models for their community and for all women. This has brought many important women’s issues on the agenda of panchayats and local bodies. This positive experience needs to be strengthened and extended further.

Those opposed to the women’s reservation bill in its present form are demanding sub-quotas for women from different socially deprived categories, including Muslim women. Since quotas cannot be restricted only to women and since reservation on the basis of religion remains a question yet to be settled within the constitutional framework, such demands will continue to delay passage of the bill as they have already done for 14 years. Some of those opposed to the bill in the name of sub-quotas also say that if reservation for women is reduced from 33 per cent, they will support the bill. This exposes the hollowness of their demand for sub-quotas, which is only being used to block women’s reservation. The anti-women remarks being made from these quarters further confirm the patriarchal nature of this opposition.

While, the gross under-representation of Muslims in legislatures, of both men and women, needs to be redressed, this can hardly be resolved or settled within the ambit of the women’s reservation bill. The Ranganath Mishra commission recommendations have opened the issue of minority reservations in education and jobs. We demand the immediate provision of 10 per cent reservation in education and jobs for Muslims belonging to the backward classes. The central government must also implement the special development plans for minorities as recommended by the Sachar committee and ensure that the needs of Muslim women and girls are addressed when this is done. As women we stand in solidarity with our Muslim brethren and secular forces in the fight for the advancement of the Muslim community and we also stand shoulder to shoulder with all our sisters in the country for the advancement of the rights of women.

We call upon all political parties in parliament to come together and ensure the smooth passage of the 33 per cent women’s reservation bill in the Lok Sabha without delay. We appeal to all forces opposing the bill to shed their fears and support the cause of women’s rights and equality in our country.

The signatories to the statement were Zakia Soman (Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan), Azra Aabdi (Muslim Women’s Forum), Qudsia Anjum (Parcham), Rehana (Astitva), Naish Hasan (Tehreek), Khatoon Shiekh (Hukook-e-Niswan), Nishat Hussain (National Muslim Women Welfare Society), Razina Khatoon (Muslim Women Welfare Society), Sabiha Hussain (Vishwas Mahila Samiti), Naaz Raza (Bahin), Sarvar Raza (Nigehban), Sajida (Initiative for Social Upliftment), Anjum Zaheer (Janhit Vikas Samiti), Asma (Asaman Mahila Utthaan evum Jan Kalyan Samiti) and Subhashini Ali (All India Democratic Women’s Association).

Source: People’s Democracy dated 02-05-2010 (www.pd.cpim.org)


THE UPA-II government is clearly committed to populating the Indian higher educational landscape with a large number of foreign players, including ostensibly the best educational brands from abroad, which other than for a couple like Oxford and Cambridge are mostly from the US. There are two arguments, among many, that are being advanced to justify this desire for the foreign. The first is that it would substantially enhance quality in both the new institutions that would be set up by these foreign entities and, by example and the pressure of competition, in old and new institutions created by public and private Indian promoters. The second is that it would close the supply-demand gap. The supply of higher educational facilities relative to requirements in this country is seen as so large that the government or Indian private players would not have the resources to fill the gap.

To clarify, the resources that the foreign entities would bring could not be real resources like faculty, administrators and material inputs like classrooms, libraries and labs. Foreign providers would have to find these resources largely from within the country, just as Indian promoters would have to, since importing all of it would make things so expensive that the investment would not make sense unless the intention is merely to throw away the money. “Resources” here means the requisite money.

Neither of the arguments—enhancing quality and augmenting supply—is particularly convincing even for those who are enamoured by these foreign brands and what they could contribute to the making of the modern Indian mind. It is not that foreigners were barred from coming into the country in the past. They could through many routes subject to certain rules. But either because of the rules or because of mere disinterest not many big names even gave a thought to have an independent presence here (as opposed to collaborating in different ways with domestic institutions). On the other hand, it is not true that no foreign institutions came into this country. Some did. But they were not the well known and what they offered here did not compare at all with the best or even less than best that Indian educational providers were offering. Both in terms of presence and quality history does not give cause for optimism.


The question then is, are the rules being changed to accommodate the foreign? The government states that it is only clarifying the rules and regulatory framework that would apply to foreign educational providers, and that in itself would serve to attract them to the country. It is true that if foreign institutions are to be allowed at all, to provide education of any kind in the country, it is better that they operate within an appropriate framework of regulation. If not, unscrupulous operators can use the “foreign” tag to exploit poorly informed students who do not have the scores to enter a good national educational institution or the finances to travel abroad to acquire a good education. In an environment where good higher educational facilities are in short supply, such operators could get away with charging high fees for courses backed by inadequately qualified faculty, inferior infrastructure and substandard equipment.

This has in recent years been a reality in India because of a mismatch between the law on foreign investment in educational provision and the law with regard to the functioning of “recognised” educational institutions. The foreign investment law in this country does allow foreign educational providers to enter India under the automatic route in the educational services area. It therefore allows for commercial provision of educational services by foreigners and the repatriation of surpluses or “profits” earned through such activity.

However, the nature of such services must be “informal”. If an educational service provider (foreign or domestic) chooses to establish an institution that is termed a university and is recognised as such by the University Grants Commission (UGC) or if it awards a degree or diploma that is recognised by a range of institutions such as the All India Council on Technical Education (AICTE) or the Medical Council of India, then it would be subject to regulation just as any other Indian institution engaging in similar practices. That is, there is no separate set of rules to recognise and regulate foreign institutions. This implies that recognised foreign educational institutions cannot (like private Indian ones) operate on a “for-profit” basis. Surpluses can be generated based on fees charged, but those surpluses have to be ploughed back into the institution.

This distinction in the regulatory framework, applying to institutions seeking recognition of their degrees and those that do not, did result in the proliferation of courses that are not recognised by government, in institutions that were, therefore, not subject to regulation under laws governing the higher education system. Most of these institutions were in the private sector, with a majority being domestic private institutions and a few foreign. Some were good, many extremely bad. These institutions were not all avowedly “for-profit” entities, but there were many that made large surpluses legally and otherwise and distributed them in various ways to their promoters.

In some ways, what the Foreign Educational Institutions Bill does is that it seeks to bring certain of those foreign institutions within a separate, clearly defined regulatory framework, requiring institutions providing diplomas and degrees to register under a designated authority, making them subject to regulation and seeking under such regulation to ensure that the promoting institution has a proper pedigree, brings in adequate resources, employs quality faculty, offers adequate facilities, and reinvests all surpluses in the institution, which cannot function for profit. However, even though these are not considered for-profit institutions, the government is not seeking to regulate the fees they charge the students they take in, set parameters for compensation for faculty, or impose demands such as reservation of seats for disadvantaged sections as it does in its own institutions.

There are three questions which arise in this context. One is whether the implementation of the Bill amounts to skewing further the inequality in access to higher education and tilting the playing field against public institutions. Clearly, the Bill does not allow for the application of laws with regard to affirmative action in the form of reservation of admissions to private institutions, domestic or foreign. But if the infrastructure for higher education is inadequate, this is true not just for those who fall in what is termed the “general category”, but for those in the reserved categories as well, who need adequate numbers of seats to be reserved for them. So if private, including foreign institutions, are seen as entities that would help close the demand-supply gap in higher education, they would need to service students in the categories eligible for affirmative action as well.

Since the aim of promoting private education, including that offered by foreign providers, is to make up for the shortfall in public education, the demand that reserved category students be admitted to these institutions with support from the state is bound to rise. State money would provide access to the socially and economically disadvantaged to private institutions. That is, while the state is not going to regulate fees, it may be forced to demand some reservation by covering the fees charged by these institutions for those it wants to assure the access they are deprived of because of the social discrimination they face. The obvious question that would then arise is whether it may not be better to use these funds to expand quality public education at lower cost per student. Hence, clarity on the government’s use of these institutions for closing the demand-supply gap would be useful. If the direction of policy in other areas is indicative, the public-private partnership mantra would be used to justify supporting private provision by funding access to the disadvantaged with no regulation of costs or prices. In fact, the likelihood is that the implicit control would be on the “subsidy” offered to needy students, who then may have to make do with entry into poorer quality institutions.

A second question that arises is whether the better among foreign educational providers are likely to choose not to come into the country if stringent regulations are imposed on them. With budgetary cuts for education in developed countries and with demographic changes affecting the size of the domestic college-going population in these countries, universities there may like to go abroad if they can earn surpluses to support domestic operations. But if regulation includes the “not-for-profit” condition, which prevents them from extracting surpluses and transferring them abroad, they may see no reason to be in India. Perhaps for this reason, the Act provides for the possibility that its provisions can be diluted. For example, as of now the Act provides for the constitution of an Advisory Board that can exempt any foreign provider of all requirements imposed by the Act except the requirement of being a not-for-profit body. It also exempts institutions conducting any “certificate course” and awarding any qualification other than a degree or diploma to be exempt from most of the provisions of the Act, making them subject only to certain reporting requirements. This amounts to saying that if a foreign provider enters the country, reports its presence, and advertises and runs only such “certificate courses” (as opposed to courses offering degrees and recognised diplomas), it would have all the rights that many of the so-called “fly-by-night” operators exploit today. Once that possibility is recognised the only conclusion that can be drawn, based on the experience hitherto, is that this Act in itself is unlikely to either bring high quality education into the country, or keep poor quality education out. What motivates it, is therefore, unclear.

This raises the third question as to whether this bill is just the thin end of the wedge. If foreign providers do not come in requisite measure, would the government use that “failure” to dilute the law even further and provide for profit and its repatriation by foreign operators in this sector? Some time back, the commerce ministry had put out a consultation paper clearly aimed at building support for an Indian offer on education in the negotiations under the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS). The paper, while inviting opinions on a host of issues, was clearly inclined to offering foreign educational providers significant concessions that would facilitate their participation in Indian education. In its view: “Given that India’s public spending, GER (gross enrolment ratio) levels and private sector participation are low, even when compared to developing countries, there appears to be a case for improving the effectiveness of public spending and increasing the participation of private players, both domestic and foreign.” GATS is a trading agreement and therefore applies to those engaged in trade in services for profit. Providing such concession would force a fundamental transformation of the face of higher education in the country.

Put all of this together and both the motivation and the likely outcome of this bill remain unclear. If the intent is to attract new, more and better foreign investment in higher education to close the demand-supply gap, then the specific framework being chosen is likely to subvert its intent. If the idea is to regulate only those who have been coming and would come, then a separate law just for foreign operators as opposed to all non-state players is inexplicable. This suggests that the process underway is one of creating a window for foreign players and then changing the rules of the game in ways that persuade them to exploit the opportunity. This may explain the fear that the field would be skewed against domestic private players.

Thus, the case for this Act is weak and controversial. If the supply of educational facilities is low and of poor quality because public spending is low, the emphasis must clearly be on increasing allocations for education. This is likely to be extremely effective since India has the requisite institutional framework. But there is no reason to believe, especially given past experience, that just allowing private entry, whether domestic or foreign, and the resources associated with it would indeed improve access and ensure quality. Unless the state pays the bill, which it claims in the first place it cannot.

Source: People’s Democracy dated 02-05-2010 (www.pd.cpim.org)


A Festival of Grassroots Democracy

IT was a festival of democracy at the grassroots. Thousands of tribals, many sporting Red caps, and most of them young and women, trooped through the black topped ghat roads into the valley that is Killa in Udaipur sub division of Tripura. Long streams of people, happily talking and cheering, were seen marching into the venue of the election rally organised by the CPI(M) for its candidate Jaikishore Jamatiya on April 25. Red flags were planted on either side of the road in all hamlets we crossed to reach the venue. Revolutionary songs were being sung from the dais in the native Kokborok language by singers using a modern orchestra. CPI(M) Polit Bureau member and Tripura chief minister Manik Sarkar was the main speaker at the rally.
The meeting was taking place in the vast ground of a high school building, a distinctive feature throughout the state where even primary schools have proper, usually double-storied buildings and vast grounds. The cheer among the gathering can well be understood when one spotted an hanging bridge just across the venue that connected the hamlets on the other side. It was built from the MPLAD fund of CPI(M) MP Khagen Das in 2008. This bridge has not only helped the people in their movement but also in transporting agricultural produce. The notice on the bridge shows that it was built in 8 months flat. Such visible development is glaring across most regions of the state, save a few really inaccessible hilly areas.

The festiveness among the tribals here may also be because of the overcoming of fear of gun by the tribals. This area was a den of the extremists during their hey day. But no longer now, tribal school girls, dressed in traditional attire, lined up to welcome their chief minister. An observer described the strength of the gathering as the biggest in the history of Killa.

Manik Sarkar in his speech appealed to the people in ADC areas to ensure a complete sweep for the Left Front in the May 3 elections to the ADC in order to ensure comprehensive development of the state. The chief minister spoke for nearly two hours in which he dealt with the history of the struggle for formation of ADC and the reactionary role played by Congress and its prop TUJS. He stressed that for the young generation and those who joined the Party in the recent times, it is necessary to know this in order to better understand the present challenges.

Sarkar stressed that the ADC was meant not just for ensuring development in tribal areas but also to politically empower them through their participation in the decision making process. The holding of elections to the 527 Village Committees in the ADC in 2006 was a step in this direction. Also there is a need to develop both the hilly and plain areas together. Noting the development carried on in the last 5 years of ADC in terms of roads, schools, agriculture, drinking water etc, the chief minister said that much more needed to be done. And in order to do so it is imperative that the Left Front is swept back to power in the ADC in these elections also.

Sarkar lambasted the UPA government for its anti-aam admi policies that were resulting in the unprecedented price rise. On top of not doing anything to bring down the prices, it was fueling them further by increasing the prices of petro products. He recounted how the Left parties were engaged in building a nationwide protest movement against these policies – the huge Delhi rally, the jail bharo agitation, the cut motions planned in parliament along with other political parties etc. He called upon the people of Tripura to lend momentum to this protest movement by voting overwhelmingly in favour of the Left Front in these polls. He also appealed for support to the April 27 nationwide bandh call.

Source: People’s Democracy dated 02-05-2010 (www.pd.cpim.org)


IN the last few years India has at its own initiative signed free trade agreements (FTAs) with nearly 17 countries. But the ministry of commerce’s move for an FTA with European Union (EU) is a clandestine one. S Ganesan, chairman of the International Treaties Expert Committee, said, “India does not lead from the front and the EU is known for hegemony.” This process is done in a secretive manner, without any transparency, let alone involving the parliamentary system. Anand Sharma, the minister of commerce and industry, wants to complete the discussion soon, so that this FTA is signed by the year end.


Consequences of the FTAs, particularly for health and medicine, are already observable from our FTAs with several countries. Free trade is today being manipulated to inflict stringent terms on weaker countries. The stronger countries take full advantage of an FTA to kill certain flexibilities the WTO agreement provides, distorting in particular the clauses on intellectual property rights, data exclusivity and compulsory licenses through a binding agreement. Thus, FTAs are further endangering the access to medicines. The experiences of NAFTA and similar FTAs in Asia Pacific region show that national health systems are facing newer attacks through the FTAs.

The method adopted in FTA formulation is to extend the period of a patent beyond the WTO stipulated 20 years. This allows continuation of monopoly and a rise in medicine prices as a country is not able to produce or procure once-patented medicines even after international patent period expires. To bind it further, data exclusivity is also enforced, even though it is not an obligation under the WTO agreement. While asking for patent on a medicine, its inventor has to submit all test data to establish its novelty, superiority and safety. A company conducts such a test over a long period of 5 to 10 years, and such data are enormous as clinical trials are carried out on several thousands of people. Generic drug manufacturers wait for expiry of the patent period to start production of the earlier patented medicine; this ends monopoly and brings down prices. These generic drug producers do not need to perform any clinical trials or submit any test data; such trials are not only repetitive but involve huge cost too. But the simple precondition of submission of test data would block the production of generic drugs. One of the numerous post-TRIPS mischiefs of the drug MNCs is therefore to push the countries into FTAs.

Such is the objective of the rich countries, and multinational medicine companies spend large sums of money to lobby that their governments to impose FTAs on the weaker countries. Despite the economic slump, the US pharmaceutical and health products industry spent a whopping 267 million dollars in 2009 on lobbying --- more in one year than any other single industry ever spent. Steven Findlay, health policy analyst for Consumers Union in Washington DC, says most of this extra expenditure --- 12 per cent more than the previous year --- stemmed from the health care reform bill. “All of these companies stood to gain or lose billions of dollars,” he says. “That lobbying started early, and it was intense.” All the organisations, and their subsidiaries dished out more than five million dollars in 2009, according to data from the Senate Office of Public Records, to gain access to Washington's power centres (from Nature Medicine).


The eight rounds of discussion between the EU and Indian ministry of commerce and industry has produced the penultimate stage of an FTA, the officials engaged in the discussion are tight lipped. Recent exposure of the discussion’s outcome in an internet site (
http://www.bilaterals.org/article.php3?id_article=14864) shows how India is inching towards incorporating harmful clauses regarding patents.
The Indian Patents (Amendment) Act 2005 does not allow a patent for more than 20 years; credit goes to the Left MPs who fought and pushed 13 amendments to the act. Thus, section 3d of the act does not allow extension or repatenting of any medicines on frivolous ground. Repatenting application by multinational Novartis for anti-cancer Imitinib Mesilate was rejected and Indian companies are now producing the same medicine, bringing the treatment cost down to Rs 8,000 a month from Rs 1,00,000 involving the Novartis medicine. Repatenting of many HIV-AIDS medicines were also refused, and MNCs are now filing court cases for removal of this section from our patent law.

In such a situation, the text of the proposed EU-India FTA says:

“1. The parties recognise that medicinal and plant protection products protected by a patent in their respective territory may be subject to an administrative authorisation procedure before being put on their market. They recognise that the period that elapses between the filing of the application for a patent and the first authorisation to place the product in their respective markets… may shorten the period of effective protection under the patent.

“2. The parties shall provide for a further period of protection for a product, which is protected by a patent and which has been subject to an administrative authorisation procedure…

“3. Notwithstanding paragraph 2 and the extension for a paediatric use for pharmaceutical products, the duration of further period of protection may not exceed five years.”

It is now clear that through an administrative authorisation, medicines patented by any company in any of the 27 EU countries would be extended by at least five years beyond the 20 years limit provided by Indian law. Global export of medicines by UK and German MNCs is next highest to the US’s. Thus the proposal upholds the interests of these companies.


So far, our laws do not ask for submission of test data for licensing of any medicine whose patent period is expired. A generic medicine can be registered if the manufacturer shows that it is therapeutically equivalent to an existing medicine. There is no requirement for a generic company to perform lengthy clinical trials to establish that it is safe and effective; reliance on the original product’s data is sufficient for the drug authority to approve its marketing. Generic medicine producers thus produce medicines immediately after expiry of its patent and sell them cheaper all over the world. India is the fourth largest producer of medicines in the world. Many poor countries having no medicine production capacity immensely benefit from cheaper Indian medicines.

But the EU wants data exclusivity introduced in India. If companies are required to generate their own test data to register a generic medicine, this will impose huge costs on them. Given that generic manufacturing relies on low profit margins, this may even have the effect of killing competition altogether. Article 10 of the proposed agreement says:

“The parties will enact and implement legislation ensuring that any information submitted to obtain marketing approval, i.e. registration of pharmaceutical products will remain undisclosed to third parties and….. that during this period of protection, no person or entity (public or private), other than the person or entity who submitted such undisclosed data, rely directly or indirectly on such data in support of an application for medical product approved/registration.”

It further says during this period, “any subsequent application for marketing approval or registration would not be granted, unless the subsequent applicant submitted his/her own data (or data used with authorisation of the right holder) meeting the same requirements as the first applicant. Product registered without submission of such data would be removed from the market until the requirements were met.”

It is obvious that the purpose is not only to block the production opportunity for Indian companies but also force many countries to buy medicines from the MNCs at much higher prices.

Further, data exclusivity could effectively block compulsory licenses, which are a legal means to overcome a monopoly. Even if a company is given authority to produce the generic version of a drug under compulsory license, it still needs to register the drug with the DCGI in order to market it in or export it from India. Data exclusivity would prevent such registration for the period of exclusivity, thereby preventing the use of a compulsory license in that period. This is another method to allow the pharma multinationals’ monopoly to continue.


But our government is not bothered about adverse impacts on Indian pharmaceutical exports. New barriers are being created through peripheral measures to curb export of Indian generic medicines. All of a sudden, EU customs officials are seizing Indian medicines exported to Latin American countries for suspected infringement of intellectual property rights under the European Commission’s Customs Regulation No. 1383/2003. Though the destination were the Latin American countries, EU countries are halting our exports’ movement en route though their regulations go beyond the TRIPS obligations. While India has challenged this intrusion, the proposed FTA has a clause of a similar nature. Article 27 says:

“The parties shall, unless otherwise provided for in this section, adopt procedures to enable a right holder, who has valid grounds for suspecting that the importation of goods infringing an intellectual property right may take place, to lodge an application in writing with competent authorities, administrative and judicial, for the suspension by the customs authorities of the release into free circulation or the retain of such goods.”

Here the term “importation” would mean, for the EC, exportation or re-exportation.

Agreeing to such a clause would be detrimental to the export of Indian medicines.


In its haste to finalise an FTA with EU, our government has forgotten its commitments to international agreements. Mention-worthy here is the Doha declaration of WTO, clearly stating that all care should be taken to safeguard public health before entering an agreement:

“We agree that the TRIPS agreement does not and should not prevent members from taking measures to protect public health. Accordingly, while reiterating our commitment to the TRIPS agreement, we affirm that the agreement can and should be interpreted and implemented in a manner supportive of WTO members' right to protect public health and, in particular, to promote access to medicines for all (ministerial conference, fourth session, Doha, November 9-14, 2001).

The WHO assembly on Global Strategy and Plan of Action (GSPA) on intellectual property, held in May 2008, made a similar statement: to “…take into account, where appropriate, the impact on public health when considering adopting or implementing more extensive intellectual property protection that is required by the agreement on trade related aspects of intellectual property rights.”

The United Nation Special Rapporteur on the Right to Health has cautioned the nations about the problems emerging out of such FTAs:

“These agreements are usually negotiated with little transparency or participation from the public, and often establish TRIPS-plus provisions.

“These provisions undermine the safeguards and flexibilities that developing countries sought to preserve under TRIPS.

“Studies indicate that TRIPS-plus standards increase medicine prices as they delay or restrict the introduction of generic competition.

“As FTAs can directly affect access to medicines, there is a need for countries to assess multilateral and bilateral trade agreements for potential health violations and that all stages of negotiation remain open and transparent.”

Our presentation shows that our FTA will keep everything open for EU multinationals and impose a stronger patent regime than what the WTO agreement requires. Without considering the Indian people’s interest and ignoring the international commitments on the people’s health, the government is hurrying to finalise it. The ministry said, “India and EU agree to give mandate to their negotiators to intensify talks and sort out the contentious issues in the next few months.” It appears that, excepting for some hiccups relating to child labour and climate change, the government is all set to sign on the dotted line before the year end.

Source: People’s Democracy dated 02-05-2010 (www.pd.cpim.org