ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

Articles By A Correspondent

On the Limits of Violence

Morality tells us that the Palestinians are in the right. But the path that leaders of the Palestinians have chosen, of violent resistance to the coloniser and occupier, has not yielded freedom from Israeli control. "Revolutionary" violence, first from Al Fatah and then Hamas, ultimately devolved into rent-seeking by a narrow Palestinian elite with a fi nal settlement indefi nitely deferred as per the design of a brutal, vicious and utterly immoral Israel. When faced with a test of violence it knows it cannot win, a people could simply choose not to play that particular game. If the Palestinians were to foreground non-violent political tactics, it will democratise the question of national strategy by showing everyday people that they too are soldiers of freedom. The Palestinian people now have to reclaim their half-state and refashion it into a real weapon of resistance.

Honours and Numbers

C N R Rao's repeated complaint that the problem with Indian science is the success of computing and information technology has no justifi cation. Computer science in India receives little funding from the government and the IT industry is the country's only example of technological success. What is needed is the reform of India's ossified scientific establishment, transfer of funds from underperforming departments like atomic energy to other scientifi c departments, creation of more opportunities for academic circulation across India and ensuring that heads of institutions and departments rotate at regular intervals.

Crisis Time for India (Again) at the WTO

The upcoming Bali ministerial conference of the World Trade Organisation threatens to constrain the National Food Security Act even before it is fully implemented. Outdated WTO provisions will severely limit the extent of food subsidy India can provide and the best the United States is willing to agree to is a two-year reprieve. More generally, Bali is also expected to see a very lopsided outcome with a US-led initiative succeeding in ramming an expensive trade facilitation agreement down developing countries' throats and refusing to address long-standing issues in agriculture and rules of origin.

Cementing Hegemony

Urban renewal in post-war Colombo is not only transforming the city's physical but also its political landscape. A visual landscape marked by aesthetic enhancement, "world-class" spaces and cleanliness is normalising militarisation, social exclusion, ethno-nationalism and erosion of democracy. The sight of the military rather than the municipality at work is now part of the city's (and the country's) new visual, spatial and political order. Market-friendly militarisation is driving Colombo's development and beautifi cation leading to segregation, rapid financialisation of land, and forced displacement.

Projects and Forests: Flawed Clearances and Complicit Foresters

In the last three decades, 12 lakh ha of forests have been diverted for other purposes, including for regularising encroachments, irrigation, power and mining projects. Most diversion proposals get approved because the forest bureaucracy is complicit in promoting them and uses every underhand means to do so. A system designed to protect forests has thus become a major mechanism for their destruction. And the Ministry of Environment and Forests is reluctant to deal with these systemic flaws.

High Stakes in the WTO's Mini-ministerial

The World Trade Organisation will meet next week to hammer out an agreement on the modalities in agricultural and industrial goods issues of the Doha round. Strangely, in what was supposed to be a balanced development round, the focus will be solely on these two areas even as the rest of the agenda has been kept out. The draft agreements are also skewed (once more) in favour of the advanced economies. India, in particular, will gain very little and lose considerably if it agrees to the proposals on the table. Why then has India gone along so far with the US and WTO demands? Is this too a result of Manmohan Singh's government wanting to accommodate the interests of the country's new "good friend", George Bush?

Mumbai Bomb Blasts- II: When 'Terror' Talk Crushes Human Rights

Picking on an entire community for crimes committed by a few is not unusual in India. One would have expected the police to exercise some caution in the matter of the investigation of the Mumbai train blasts. Instead, the names and faces of the "suspects" are public knowledge, there is no one to defend them and virtually no questioning of the tactics used by the police on issues related to "terror".