Sunday, February 28, 2016

Open letter to Smriti Irani

An Open Letter to Ms. Smriti Irani

Dear Ms. Irani,

Thanks to your stunning performance, we, many faculty members from the University of Hyderabad, are compelled to do what we should have done in the last one month or so, but could not bring ourselves to – write, write about Rohith, write about our other students, write about the state of academics, write about ourselves and write about society at large. Our first acknowledgement to this therefore goes to you for revealing yourself and for bringing us back from grief, from reflection, from teaching and from various other mundane things we do as part of our job.
As we watched you in disbelief on our TV screens on 24th February 2016, you in a voice choked with emotion, again and again referred to the "child" whose death has been used as a political weapon. We were left bewildered.
At what precise point, Madam Minister, did this sinister, anti-national, casteist, Dalit student of the University of Hyderabad transform into a child for you? Definitely, not in those five rejoinders from MHRD between 03-09-2015 and 19-11- 2015 with the subject line "anti-national activities in Hyderabad Central University Campus"? Definitely, not when you chose to overlook and endorse what can only be read as extraordinarily aggressive and unfounded allegations by a minister in your own government, Mr. Bandaru Dattatreya? Ms. Irani, your constant reference to him as a child is nothing but a patronizing attempt to dehumanize his reality. It is also deeply disrespectful to Rohit's mother whose child he actually is - because she knows how ironic your appropriation of him is, considering your culpability in his death.
Only after more than a month of his death Rohith becomes a 'child' for you “whose death was used as a political weapon.” A political weapon by whom, honourable Minister? By the other four students who were expelled with him and who spent those cold nights out in the makeshift velivada, with nothing but each other for company and succour? By the other students and friends who stood by him? Because you definitely seem to imply that when you say this child could possibly have been revived and yet his body was hidden and no doctor or police was allowed near him.
By now incontrovertible facts have emerged that belie this.
However, we would like to go beyond those facts and appeal to your heart. You were not there that night Respected Minister. You did not see the grief or the shock, nor were you there to feel the despair. How could you even begin to fathom how desperate students were when they called faculty members and medical doctor of the University's Health Centre as soon as Rohith's body was found hanging by students and security officials? As Dr. Rajyasree, Medical officer has stated, she rushed to the hostel at 7.30 pm and declared Rohith dead at 7.40 pm, all recorded in his case sheet on that fateful night of 17-01-2016. The police arrived at the scene immediately after this. Iraniji, it is beyond our simple comprehension to understand how you with your meticulous preparation evident in the Loksabha speech ignored these crucial medical documents / preliminary evidences. This also includes the post mortem report that declares Rohith was dead at least 18-24 hours before the body was examined the subsequent day. From all the medical and post mortem reports, statements by friends, faculty, and university officials – it is clear that Rohith's body was found hours after he hung himself.
Not only are your claims factually incorrect but they point to an utter lack of respect and sensitivity for the grieving family, friends, and students. You are clearly disconnected from the heart breaking grief of his friends palpable to anyone present that night or the accompanying anger knowing the injustice that led to this tragedy. Does it befit our honourable minister to implicate these very grieving people in the death of their beloved friend?

Respected Minister, you have also repeatedly claimed that the committee which suspended Rohith Vemula and four other Dalit students was not constituted by your government, but by the UPA regime. You have also emphasised that there indeed was a Dalit faculty member in that committee.
We are astounded that you can so smoothly pass on the responsibility for this tragedy to someone else. Being at the helm of MHRD, we are sure you must know that the Executive Council's Sub-Committee that took the fatal decision to suspend the Dalit students from hostels and other common spaces, was expressly constituted by the Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Appa Rao, following five rejoinders from your ministry goading the University to take action against the Dalit students.

We may also point out that the two member committee constituted by the MHRD itself points out a curious anomaly -- the EC and its sub-committee is the very same body that recommends and ratifies – this simply cannot be.

Just in case your busy schedule has not allowed your attention to the following, permit us to point out further contradictions:

That this subcommittee was composed of all upper caste members except for one. We fail to understand how this one member is expected to overrule the will of five.

Most importantly, Prof. Prakash Babu, the sole Dalit member, was co-opted as the Dean, Students' Welfare and NOT as an SC/ST representative. Kindly refer to the constitution of the EC sub-committee in its minutes of meeting dated 24-11-2015.

That the EC sub-committee did not hear out the key stake holders or consider the counter-affidavit filed by the Commissioner of Police on 3rd October 2015 and simply concurred with the much contested Proctorial Board’s decision is matter for another enquiry.

Now let us come to the punishment itself. Let us think of the lives and struggles of the five boys who were suspended—four of them being sons of agricultural labourers and one without both parents. For them, suspension from hostel meant denial of food and shelter. Add to that, denial of right to access common spaces effectively amounted to social boycott in caste terms. Students who had surmounted unimaginable obstacles to reach the University were pushed back right into the velivada, the “untouchable” fringes of the village. Do you not believe that the administration should have reached out at least when Rohith wrote that 18th December 2015 letter asking the VC to provide Dalit students “sodium azide and a nice rope” at the time of admission itself? Ms. Irani, for all practical purposes, it was a cry for help. This was an opportunity for us to help this ‘child’ and we lost that opportunity. And, we have never heard you quote from this letter that was acknowledged as received by the VC’s office.

For a despondent, beleaguered Rohith, hounded and ignored by the powers that be, death was probably the only way to freedom and the limitless wonder and beauty of the universe that so moved him! Perhaps it was the only way out for someone as conscientious, brilliant, and reflective as Rohith was. This was Rohith’s assertion of dignity, a dignity that was not allowed to him or his friends in their lives. Their lives, in the words of Gopal Guru, mirrored social death, smeared with indignities of caste. To say that his ‘suicide note’ of 17-01-2016 does not name or implicate anyone amounts to gross opportunism and abandonment of moral responsibility.

Permit us to remind you dear minister that the VC did not think / feel it worthwhile enough to meet the grieving students on that fateful night. We are reminded ad nauseam of the threat that students posed to him and continue to pose to him. Students, who already had lost a dear friend, were accused by ABVP of violence, and this is important – students who throughout their struggle since those intense first days following Rohith’s death until now – have maintained their poise, their maturity through all their struggles and protests, have never resorted to violence. Could the Vice Chancellor of the University not meet and console them in that most vulnerable, heart breaking moment? Even when nearly 300 teachers requested the VC to come and assured him of a space to meet students along with them, the VC’s sense of authority prevailed over his sense of duty and responsibility. This was a defining moment Ms. Irani, when the VC could have regained his moral stature and humanity in the eyes of the students. He clearly let history slip through of his fingers.

Rohith is not there with us anymore. His four friends suspended along with him are, his larger group of friends in this University and growing group of friends across the country are. What we expect from you is very minimal. Do not turn this into a fight against students who have nothing to rely upon, no power – political or social, no connections, no money, not even a home. Please understand this -- the minority status you love to claim for yourself cannot in any way be equated with the state of disprivilege and dispossession that many of these students battle on a daily basis. All our students have is the hope of a future which education can possibly bring -- to quote Rohith “from shadows to the stars” Do not blight their hopes, their dreams. Help us ensure each one of us is sensitive to cater to their needs inside classrooms, in labs, in hostels, outside, everywhere. As teachers, as ministers we have much more to offer – truth, equality, justice, hope, and inspiration. Not melodrama.

The Prime Minister has extoled your speech tweeting “Satyameva Jayathe”. Whose Truth? We ask.

SC/ST Teachers’ Forum &
Concerned Faculty, University of Hyderabad, Hyderabad.

"Only when the last tree has died, and the last river poisoned, will we realize that we cannot eat money."

Monday, February 22, 2016

तब और अब

Now last but not the least, it is my bounden duty to refer to what agitated our minds during these two or three days. All of us have had many anxious moments while the Viceroy was going through the streets of Banaras. There were detectives stationed in many places. We were horrified. We asked ourselves, “Why this distrust?” Is it not better that even Lord Hardinge should die than live a living death? But a representative of a mighty sovereign may not. He might find it necessary to impose these detectives on us? We may foam, we may fret, we may resent, but let us not forget that India of today in her impatience has produced an army of anarchists. I myself am an anarchist, but of another type. But there is a class of anarchists amongst us, and if I was able to reach this class, I would say to them that their anarchism has no room in India, if India is to conqueror. It is a sign of fear. If we trust and fear God, we shall have to fear no one, not the Maharajas, not the Viceroys, not the detectives, not even King George.

I honour the anarchist for his love of the country. I honour him for his bravery in being willing to die for his country; but I ask him-is killing honourable? Is the dagger of an assassin a fit precursor of an honourable death? I deny it. There is no warrant for such methods in any scriptures. If I found it necessary for the salvation of India that the English should retire, that they should be driven out, I would not hesitate to declare that they would have to go, and I hope I would be prepared to die in defence of that belief. That would, in my opinion, be an honourable death. The bomb-thrower creates secret plots, is afraid to come out into the open, and when caught pays the penalty of misdirected zeal.

I have been told, “Had we not done this, had some people not thrown bombs, we should never have gained what we have got with reference to the partition movement.” (Mrs. Besant : ‘Please stop it.’) This was what I said in Bengal when Mr. Lyon presided at the meeting. I think what I am saying is necessary. If I am told to stop I shall obey. (Turning to the Chairman) I await your orders. If you consider that by my speaking as I am, I am not serving the country and the empire I shall certainly stop. (Cries of ‘Go on.’) (The Chairman : ‘Please, explain your object.’) I am simply. . . (another interruption). My friends, please do not resent this interruption. If Mrs. Besant this evening suggests that I should stop, she does so because she loves India so well, and she considers that I am erring in thinking audibly before you young men. But even so, I simply say this, that I want to purge India of this atmosphere of suspicion on either side, if we are to reach our goal; we should have an empire which is to be based upon mutual love and mutual trust. Is it not better that we talk under the shadow of this college than that we should be talking irresponsibly in our homes? I consider that it is much better that we talk these things openly. I have done so with excellent results before now. I know that there is nothing that the students do not know. I am, therefore, turning the searchlight towards ourselves. I hold the name of my country so dear to me that I exchange these thoughts with you, and submit to you that there is no room for anarchism in India. Let us frankly and openly say whatever we want to say our rulers, and face the consequences if what we have to say does not please them. But let us not abuse.

I was talking the other day to a member of the much-abused Civil Service. I have not very much in common with the members of that Service, but I could not help admiring the manner in which he was speaking to mw. He said : “Mr. Gandhi, do you for one moment suppose that all we, Civil Servants, are a bad lot, that we want to oppress the people whom we have come to govern?” “No,,” I said. “Then if you get an opportunity put in a word for the much-abused Civil Service.” And I am here to put in that word. Yes, many members of the Indian Civil Service are most decidedly overbearing; they are tyrannical, at times thoughtless. Many other adjectives may be used. I grant all these things and I grant also that after having lived in India for a certain number of years some of them become somewhat degraded. But what does that signify? They were gentlemen before they came here, and if they have lost some of the moral fibre, it is a reflection upon ourselves.

Just think out for yourselves, if a man who was good yesterday has become bad after having come in contact with me, is he responsible that he has deteriorated or am I? The atmosphere of sycophancy and falsity that surrounds them on their coming to India demoralizes them, as it would many of us. It is well to take the blame sometimes. If we are to receive self-government, we shall have to take it. We shall never be granted self-government. Look at the history of the British Empire and the British nation; freedom loving as it is, it will not be a party to give freedom to a people who will not take it themselves. Learn your lesson if you wish to from the Boer War. Those who were enemies of that empire only a few years ago have now become friends. . . .

(At this point there was an interruption and a movement on the platform to leave. The speech, therefore, ended here abruptly.)

Mahatma, pp. 179-84, Edn. 1960.

This speech is from selected works of Mahatma Gandhi Volume-Six

The Voice of Truth Part-I some Famous Speech page 3 to 13


Monday, January 18, 2016

Last Words of Rohith Vemula

Good morning,

I would not be around when you read this letter. Don’t get angry on me. I know some of you truly cared for me, loved me and treated me very well. I have no complaints on anyone. It was always with myself I had problems. I feel a growing gap between my soul and my body. And I have become a monster. I always wanted to be a writer. A writer of science, like Carl Sagan. At last, this is the only letter I am getting to write.
I always wanted to be a writer. A writer of science, like Carl Sagan.
I loved Science, Stars, Nature, but then I loved people without knowing that people have long since divorced from nature. Our feelings are second handed. Our love is constructed. Our beliefs colored. Our originality valid through artificial art. It has become truly difficult to love without getting hurt. The value of a man was reduced to his immediate identity and nearest possibility. To a vote. To a number. To a thing. Never was a man treated as a mind. As a glorious thing made up of star dust. In very field, in studies, in streets, in politics, and in dying and living.
I am writing this kind of letter for the first time. My first time of a final letter. Forgive me if I fail to make sense.
My birth is my fatal accident. I can never recover from my childhood loneliness. The unappreciated child from my past.
May be I was wrong, all the while, in understanding world. In understanding love, pain, life, death. There was no urgency. But I always was rushing. Desperate to start a life. All the while, some people, for them, life itself is curse. My birth is my fatal accident. I can never recover from my childhood loneliness. The unappreciated child from my past.
I am not hurt at this moment. I am not sad. I am just empty. Unconcerned about myself. That’s pathetic. And that’s why I am doing this.

objects in mirror are (never) closer than they appear. (From Rohit's Facebook Wall)
People may dub me as a coward. And selfish, or stupid once I am gone. I am not bothered about what I am called. I don’t believe in after-death stories, ghosts, or spirits. If there is anything at all I believe, I believe that I can travel to the stars. And know about the other worlds.
If you, who is reading this letter can do anything for me, I have to get 7 months of my fellowship, one lakh and seventy five thousand rupees. Please see to it that my family is paid that. I have to give some 40 thousand to Ramji. He never asked them back. But please pay that to him from that.

Let my funeral be silent and smooth. Behave like I just appeared and gone. Do not shed tears for me. Know that I am happy dead than being alive.
“From shadows to the stars.”
Uma anna, sorry for using your room for this thing.
To ASA family, sorry for disappointing all of you. You loved me very much. I wish all the very best for the future.
For one last time,
Jai Bheem
I forgot to write the formalities. No one is responsible for my this act of killing myself.
No one has instigated me, whether by their acts or by their words to this act.
This is my decision and I am the only one responsible for this.
Do not trouble my friends and enemies on this after I am gone.
Chittibabu Padavala writes: Scientist, activist and Ambedkar Students Association leader Rohith Vemula was found dead in a hostel room on the University of Hyderabad campus.Suicide! He was one of the activists on hunger strike from yesterday on the campus against the illegal and demonstrably false case framed against them by the administration. Rohith went out of the tent to a hostel and hanged himself, leaving a suicide note. It was at the behest of BJP leader Bandaru Datttreya, the puppet VC started persecuting these students/scholars. This scandal was exposed in the media recently too.
Rohith was one of the five student leaders who were served suspension notice recently by the University of Hyderabad’s administration. A fellow activist says it is nothing but a murder. Indeed, it is.

University students gathered at the moment at Rohith’s hostel. They are refusing to let Rohith’s dead body be removed unit Vice-Chancellor is present.
Among us, younger generation of Dalit Marxists, Rohith alone is the man of action while most of the rest of us are either taking a break or retired. None ever doubted for a moment that it would be Rohith who would formulate and put to practice the right and effective political paradigm on central universities in Hindutva times. He embodied the rare combination of energy, intellect, principled conception of politics and open-mind among the campus Dalit leaders.
One of the reasons for which Rohith and others were persecuted by the administration is that he was seriously organising campaigns and programs to highlight persecution of, and discrimination against Muslims and worked to bring Dalits and Muslims together to combat it, on campus level. If these activists are not Dalits and their fight was not against Hindutva fascism, this false case and persecution of Dalit scholars would have attracted national and international attention and outcry.
I am unable to completely believe this actually happened and Rohith is dead. I still hope against hope that there will be another call cancelling this unmanageable blow to the student movement and also one that strikes some of us very personally. Legendary student leader Dr. Vulli Dhanaraju is devastead. He knows Rohith well and Dhanaraju says this shocking action uncharacteristic of and unexpected from somebody like Rohith must be to highlight the unprecedented and unacceptable things happening on the campuses and call national and international attention to them and to shake the conscience of the public, including the Dalit faculty on campuses. He also points that though suicides of Dalits students and scholars are not unknown, it is never Dalit activists and leaders who kill themselves. It is a first, at least in a Central Institute, he says. For the veteran student leader, what Rohith has done is a supreme sacrifice and not any act of desperation. There should be a case against the criminal VC and he must be made to resign.
I am unable to absorb the fact that Rohith is no more. Cannot say anything at the moment. The struggle is on. University of Hyderabad students are fighting. Support and solidarity to them.
I have been arguing for a long-time that the real solution to the suicides for Dalit students on the campuses – before the ultimate solution of the end to discrimination – Dalits should own up their untouchable identity openly and proudly and take to activism as Dalits. Now, here is my own friend and dear comrade, a student leader of national standing and achievement, a bright and promising Dalit Marxist, kills himself!! It is difficult to take. We will ensure that your death is not in vain, comrade Rohith Vemula!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014


I have come to attend the 4th WSF as an observer and in the capacity of a member of the NAPM (National Alliance) of People's Movement, India) My political organisation SJP (Samajwadi Jan Parishad), whose ideology can be called socialism as modified by Gandhism, is not very enthusiastic about the world conference. Neither does it reject the WSF as wholly irrelevant or reactionary. A practical reason for SJP not carrying out a strategy to take part in WSF is that participating effectively in this conference is financially in this conference is financially unaffordable for the SJP. I have decided to come and attend because I can afford to travel to the venue and spend a week here. the next the future world conference will be held in far away countries. Going there will be beyond my means. I did want to miss this one. My curiosity is positive.
A few groups in India with whom I have good relations are mobilizing a resistance (Mumbai Resistance, MR 2004) to the WSF. They have some serious allegations against the character and compositions of the WSF. I cannot subscribe to these allegations even though a few of them are not unfounded. A brochure published on behalf of Resistance goes to the extent of alleging that the protagonists of globalization have actually initiated the WSF process with a view to taming the anti-globalization wave. This statement is either absurd or irrelevant. What is important is not who started and with what intent, but how the process in being carried forward, and with what outcome. Recent events in the world have shown that inspite of the universal discontent against Globalization there is hardly any organized, continuous resistance to the imposition of anti-people economic policies that almost all the nations are experiencing. Outside Latin America. people's anger against economic imperialism is nowhere reflected in the nations' politics. In such a situation of inaction any organisation or institution which brings together, periodically, critics of globalization from all corners of the world is doing us good simply by providing opportunities of solidarity. Critics my be just critics, they may not even be antagonists. The motto "another world is possible" does not deter them so long as the contents of change are not deeply debated.
The question at this stage is not whether opportunistic elements have infiltrated into the WSF. We have to search out whether some healthy, genuinely radical trends are gradually making headway and an international force against globalization is taking concrete shape as a result of the solidarity and interactions over the past four years. Is there a real sense of arriving at a world-wide consensus on radical policies which will inspire people of various countries not only to resist globalization but also to articulate the outlines of new economic society based on the principles of equality ?
The NGO Factor
The overwhelming presence of the NGOs, liberally founded by donors of rich countries, is a major source of worry, I don't know if NGOs of other perceived by radical groups as the agents of western capitalism. This is an embarrassing subject because so many of our deal and esteemed friends are part of the NGOs. This is an embarrassing subject because so many of our dear and esteemed friends are part of the NGOs. Perhaps they have to be kept there to impart a progressive image to the organisations concerned. Sometimes it may so happen that one or two personalities associated with a NGO are incorruptible and beyond reproach, but the bulk of the activities and managers belong to the average run to NGO cadre. The NGOs, by the large, have to function within the development objective set by the World Bank. When Radical movements are going on in the society, the NGOs may associate with anti-establishment agitation in order to save their progressive credentials. This is remarkably illustrated in radical situation when movements are totally absent. If the USA is supporting a military rule and there is no political force there to resist it, the NGOs also tend to forget about democracy. Globalization with a human face, capitalist development accompanied by programmes of eradicating poverty -this is the ideology if NGOs in the developing countries. Needless to say, some of them can easily be covered into agents of the establishment against revolutionary and patriot movements at crucial times. Therefore it can be said with apologies to those elements in the NGOs who are genuinely radical, that the resentment against the disproportionate presence of NGOs in the WSF is not without valid reasons.
It is natural for groups starved of funds to be suspicious of NGO delegates who spend money on their travel, accommodation and activities in a manner similar to what government and corporate delegates do. It may be asked if it is bad to have more money ? This is a serious question. Some organisations, like mine, may be inefficient and incapable of collecting funds for meeting the minimum needs of functioning effectively. But even the best of the organisations in a poor country will find it hard to make both ends meet if it has to remain independent, radical and uncompromising. The deplorable aspect of the fund of eminent NGOs, is that all the funds come from outside. The local society does not contributes at all. When the personal lifestyles and organisational expenses do not reflect any of the constraints of poverty that pervades all around, that itself becomes a source of suspicion, a potential for future compromises.
It is another thing that NGOs cannot be wished away. But their limitations must be kept in mind while coexisting with them. The NGOs may constitute the majority of the delegates to the WSF. But is there also an assertive minority consisting of the genuinely radical elements ? No doubt they are there, but are they visible, as distinct from the NGO crowd ? Discussion on environmental damage, gender inequality and racial prejudice are commendable exercises, and must find a place in the radical ideology. But the WSF will be credited with a special role only if it devises a strategy for fighting against the economic globalization of poor countries, which means fighting against the WTO, World Bank and IMF-against world capitalism in short. Is this question central to the deliberation and activities of the WSF ? Most of the critics of globalization who attend similar conferences are hesitant to clarify if they really oppose the WTO, and if they have a programme to end capitalism and its global integration. The euphoria around Cancun exposed that the concessions are granted to the weaker nations. In this context. the slogan, "Another world is possible" doe not hold much uttered first, If you go on repeating the slogan without concretizing the change that is visualized, it loses the original ethos. It may not mean anything after some time.
Failure of the Non-NGO groups
The failure of the WSF is the failure to initiate a credible process of formulating a strategy for opposing the world economic system. By not some economic goals should have been laid down and popularized. It has not even been established whether economic equality is a valid idea as part of the goal of drastically reducing the disparities between nations, regions and classes. If disparities are to be done away with, what happens to prosperity ? For prosperity without any limit means basically the centralizing wealth and production. Modern technology specializes in centralizing wealth and its production. So ending inequality will necessitate a radical change in the use of technologies. The leftists of the twentieth century, the socialists and communists could not resolve this dilemma. So they met a dead end.
The WSF will have to being where twentieth century socialism stopped. It not only stopped, it collapsed under the weight of unanswered questions and unresolved contradictions. It could not reconcile the pursuit of modern prosperity will the goal the economic equality. The lure of prosperity and modern technology is so great that successful socialists everywhere have bowed to the market and postponed the ideas of equality.
Organizing struggles is one part of resisting globalization, but the other part is ideological. If a party or coalition of parties is able to gain popular support and comes to power in a developing country on the promise of fighting globalization, how does it put this into practice ? What should a patriotic, anti-imperialist government do in respect of foreign capital and foreign loans ? If the goal is to achieve modern prosperity, the country may need more loans and more foreign capital. Then its dependence on foreign powers and centres of world capitalism will increase. Will the WSF advices such a government not to go in for modern prosperity.
Take the example of my own state, Orissa. It is a very poor and backward state, but it has rich bauxite deposits. Aluminum multinationals are ready to come and make Orissa a source of great wealth. Globalization has promoted the government of Orrisa to invite the multinationals. But the tribal inhabitants have resisted, and managed to prevent this mining in a number of cases. If they yield they will be wiped out. They will never get back a satisfying community if they agree to be displaced. Will the deliberations in the and government on this issue, but may not be more about displacement and less about mining itself. What has mining done to the people everywhere ? What has mining done to poor and backward regions like Orissa ? And what has it done for the powerful nations? A fundamental questioning of the basic assumptions about mining will raise new ideological questions. One of these is whether mining should be stopped altogether in regions like Orissa, at least for the present period. Critics of globalization may not like to debate on this. Every leftist inheriting the 20th Century mind-set will say, "Mining is inevitable". This statement breaks the barrier between rightists and leftists. It is the modern mind, addicted to the idea of great prosperity and centralized wealth, which unites them. Even MR 2004 which is opposing the WSF may be different on this question.
Why should mining be inevitable ? How much of the annual production of Aluminum goes to boost the war industry and the luxurious living of the rich ? If war and luxurious are not inevitable, why should mining be inevitable ? Can we not reduce mining to its one hundredth part? It mining is reduced to a bare minimum it will be qualitatively a very different thing. It may lose the cruelty and glamour associated with modern mining.
The 20th century radicals did not bother about this aspect because they tended to believe that you can use modern technology anywhere you like and produce great wealth and then distributed that wealth by using state power. This illusion has been belied, but no proper debate has yet taken place. We know now that we cannot acquire the technology unless the multinationals are willing to give it. They do not give it cheaply, so when we start using the technology, the mining process itself gives rise to so many inequalities.
In non-technical language, globalization means integrating the developing economies with the world's most powerful economies. This process benefits the powerful economies in a total manner, and it is they who take all the initiatives. Others either okay the proposal or seek concessions and moderation. Whenever the superpowers concede in a small way, it is considered a big achievement for the poor country. Is the WSF, or some significant part of it, going to take a stand NOT to integrate poor countries' economies with the most powerful economies ? If it does, it will have to give a call to the developing countries to quit the WTO. A debate on this is not yet on the agenda of the WSF.
An ideology for the WSF will be evolved if statements of policy are laid down in response to the following propositions :
1. We should advocate a policy of quitting the W.T.O.
2. Patriotic governments of developing nations should adopt a policy to stop asking for loans from the World Bank / IMF.
3. The whole world needs a civilization change, marked by the reduction of economic disparities between nations and classes. Towards this, the WSF should strengthen and sharpen the concepts of (1) small and appropriate technology and (2) self-reliant communities which will produce all basic necessities of life in their own respective regions.
4. There should be no global trade in articles of daily necessity that can be produced in every region. Even trade within the nation should adopt the economic philosophy of self-reliance of the communities.
5. Trades and markets desist from multiplying human wants and commercializing the basic elements of nature like air and water.
6. Mining must be drastically reduced so as to bring about a qualitative change in its impact on people and business.
And so on. The WSF should provides an atmosphere for the launching of a strategy of ideas and actions that will define a break with the old order the concepts that shaped it, " Another World" must mean another civilization. The same appeal is extended to Mumbai Resistance 2004 (Mr-4). We are not convinced that Mr-4 is armed with a vision that will replace the present global economy. Centralization of wealth production and the desire for limitless prosperity was the economic aim that inspired both America and the Soviet Union in the20th century. America has now risen to the status of a global empire, and the Soviet Union has collapsed. The peoples of the world, especially those of the third world, need a new philosophy of sustainable living and sustainable production. Without this basic component, socialism cannot be revived in the 21st century. So both MR 2004 and the radicals inside WSF are facing the same challenge.
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Friday, June 06, 2014

Concerned IT professionals' statement on hate crime in Pune

We, the undersigned express our deep shock at the gruesome incident of hate crime reported in the city of Pune earlier this week. A 28 year old IT professional Shaikh Mohsin Sadiq was thrashed to death by a group of people suspected to be connected with a radical Hindu outfit called Hindu Rashtra Sena.
Mohsin was reportedly returning home after offering namaz at a mosque on Monday night when he found himself caught by the mob. As is the case in every hate crime, a skull cap on head and beard were enough for the killers to pounce on him with deadly intentions. The city was witnessing bandh and violent street protests by Shiv Sena, BJP and other radical Hindu organizations in the wake of Facebook post(s) with allegedly derogatory references to Shivaji and former Shiva Sena Chief Bal Thackeray. The assailants were apparently involved in similar protests when they spotted Mohsin on Monday night in Bankar colony in Hadapsar area of Pune.
One cannot help seeing this incident vis-à-vis forthcoming assembly elections in Maharashtra. As a run-up to the elections which are due in a few months, an attempt to polarize the masses on communal lines with the sheer intention of electoral gains, as we have seen elsewhere, seems to be on the cards. We appeal to the state government to thwart any such attempts with alacrity while ensuring safety to every citizen; we also appeal to the people of Maharashtra to not fall prey to such hideous designs and uphold the progressive tradition of the state that has seen peaceful co-existence of various sects, religions and cultural groups with no place for hatred.
While offering our deepest condolences to the bereaved family members and friends of Mohsin, we extend our heartfelt solidarity to each and every member of minorities/disadvantaged communities in struggle to preserve the values of democracy, secularism and justice.
Neeraj Kholiya
Dhanesh Birajdar
Bharatbhooshan Tiwari
Nitin Agarwal
Vinod Pillai
Gokul Panigrahi
Rajat Johari
Ujjwal Barapatre
Kshitij Patil
Sanind Shaikh
Akbar Ali
Prince Shelley
Mohamed Shazad
Shaikh Asfaque Hossain
( For widest possible circulation )

Wednesday, June 04, 2014

Women Against Sexual Violence and State Repression's complaint to Delhi Police Commissioner

4 June 2014

The Commissioner of Police
Delhi Police

Subject: Sexual assault on women protestors by personnel of Parliament Street police station

We are writing to demand your immediate action against police personnel of the Parliament Street Police Station who were involved in assaulting and brutalising a peaceful group of protestors today.

The facts are as follows.
  • A group of people belonging to the Dalit community from Bhagana village, Haryana, have been sitting in a peaceful dharna at Jantar Mantar for the last one month, in pursuit of their demand for justice in the case of abduction and gang rape of four minor girls. Early this morning, a large force of policemen appeared at Jantar Mantar and tried to evict the protestors who were sleeping there. pulled down their tent and scattered their belongings.
  • The Bhagana protestors (including the families of the rape survivors and the girls themselves) went to the Parliament Street Police Station this afternoon at about 1400 hours, in order to present a memorandum to the officer in charge asking to be allowed to stay in Jantar Mantar since they had nowhere else to go.
  • The Bhagana group was accompanied by representatives of women's organisations, Dalit organisations and students' organisations. The mothers of two of the rape survivors were leading the group.
  • The group was stopped by some policemen at the barricade outside the thana. Their request to be allowed to go inside and meet the office in charge was denied. Some policemen on duty at the barricade spoke to the Bhagana group in Haryanvi and asked them to go back and not to make trouble. The women argued with these policemen, insisting on being allowed to go and meet the officer in charge.
  • While the argument was going on, some policemen started pushing the group back from the barricade, using undue force and targeting the women by grabbing their private parts and pushing their hands into the anal region. The mothers of the survivors and several women activists (including Adv Pyoli Swatija of Samajwadi Jan Parishad, , Ms Sumedha Baudh of Rashtiya Dalit Mahila Andolan and Ms Rakhi – of NTUI) were attacked in this manner.
  • At this point a senior police officer (in uniform but without a name badge) came out and shouted out - “Are ye aise nahi manenge - lathi ghusao.
  • At this, some 4-5 women police charged forward and attacked the women by thrusting at their private parts with batons. The women who were in the front resisted this attack and struggled with the police women. Several policemen were also in the melee and were physically attacking women protestors.
  • Several activists were taken into custody and held for more than an hour, after which they
    were released without any charge being made against them.
  • None of the police had name badges except one police woman (Suman D) who removed it after a few minutes. However, we are confident that we can identify most if not all the attackers by face including the officer who gave the order for the sexual attack.

You are surely aware that the acts committed by the policemen and women are criminal offences under the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013.

We demand that the concerned police personnel (including the officer who gave the order for sexual assault) be immediately suspended from service and charged under the relevant sections. An FIR should be filed and an enquiry instituted without delay.

We are shocked to see that the police personnel under your command seem to have forgotten the bitter lessons of December 2012, and are blatantly ignoring and violating citizens' rights of peaceful assembly and democratic protest.

We are told that much time and resources have been invested in training the rank and file of Delhi police in “gender-sensitive policing”. Our suggestion to you is: please do not waste any more of the taxpayers' money on these futile public relations exercises. Instead, please take strong, immediate and exemplary action against personnel accused of such crimes.

We look forward to a response from you. We will be happy to come and present you with evidence in support of our complaint.

On behalf of Women Against Sexual Violence and State Repression
Complainants:KALYANI MENON-SEN  (J-1229 Palam Vihar Gurgaon 122017) Adv Pyoli Swatija (Flat 808 Gaur Ganga I, Vaishali Sector 4, Ghaziabad)

Friday, April 25, 2014

Activist pay homage to Com Sunil

Samajwadi Janparishad
New delhi 22 April
Shri Sunil , General Secy of Samajwadi Janparoishad and Editor of Samayik Varta breathed his last on 21st April 2014 of a massive brain hamemmorhage. He was a top-notch scholar of Economics, toping his MA. & M.Phil in JNU. Rather than perusing a brilliant academic career he opted to work amongst the Adivasis in Kesla, distt. Hoshangabad of M.P.
Along with Sathi Rajnarayan he organized a march from Kesla to Bhopal in which actoivists of Samta Sangthan (of which he was a founder member) the right to clean drinking water in 1983.
The success of this venture led to the founding of Kisan Adivasi Samgathan from the right to cultivate the banks of Tawa reservoir by displaced persons to a co-oparative- Tawa Matsya Sahkari Samgh (TMSS) which became a model for other like minded people in the country.
He had an indefatigable desire for work and faculties that allowed him to walk 20 Kilometers in the forest around Kesala to organize people and then write an article at night much after all his group had retired for the day.
Along with Kisan Adivasi Sangthan and Samajwadi Janparishad he was active in Jan Sangharsh Morcha, M.P. and National Alliance of Peoples’ Movements (NAPM).
For the last 5 years he was actively involved in the Shiksha Adhikar Manch (AIFTRE) ALONG WITH Anil Sadgopal and Ramesh Patnaik as one of the National Convenors.
Nari Jagiriti Manch of Kesla and  Itarsi had succefully organized an anti-liquor movement to stop liquor being sold in their neighbourhood. Sunil was one of the motivational forces supporting this movement.
He had deeply believed in the  involvement and leadership of the marginalised people as he considered it to be be the backbone of alternative politics. Shining examples are the TMSS and Samajwadi Janparishad.
Samajwadi Janparishad, formed from amalgamation of other like minded movements had a program of publishing booklets on economic policy and the prevalent development model. In 1991 a movement for opposing WTO was launched. Sunil was at the forefront of this movement for building an alternative model and lived with his wife Smita , daughter  Shiuli and Son Iqbal in Bhoomkapura, an Adivasi village 20 KMs away from  Itarsi, M.P.
After the demise of Shri Kishan Patnaik, socialist thinker and his mentor, he donned the former’s mantel of touring the entire country and holding political dialogue with different peoples’ movements.
In his death we have lost a person who lived his life according to his ideals. Like Gandhi, he was a person whose entire life was his message.
Activists of Samajwadi Janparishad and other like-minded movements paid their homage at Lodhi Road Crematorium, chief amongst whom were Justice Rajinder Sachchar, Anupam Mishr, Prof. Satish Jain, Prof. Arun Kumar, Prof. Kamal Nayan Kabra, Ms. Manju Mohan, Prof. Rajkumar Jain, Prof Prem Singh, Kalpana Mehta, Ranjana Padhi and Chanchal Mukherjee.

(Atul Kumar)                                                               (Pyoli)
President, Samajwadi Janparishad, Delhi         Gen. Secy,  Samajwadi Janparishad, Delhi

Bharat Dogra's Open letter to Medha Patkar

Respected Medha ji,
Greetings. I’ve learnt from newspaper reports that you’re contesting the Lok Sabha election as a candidate of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP).
While certainly there are some positive aspects of AAP and I’ve myself noticed the dedication of some of its activists, at the same time there are several questionable aspects of AAP’s quick rise to fame and success. Leaving these aside for the time being, I’ll like to draw your attention only to what Sh. Arvind Kejriwal said while addressing the National Council Meet of the Confederation of Indian Industry in Delhi on February 17.
As reported in the Indian Express next day, Sh. Kejriwal said, “Government has no business doing business, it only has to govern. Business should all be held by the private sector.”
Am I right in interpreting this to mean very little role for public sector, if any, and huge room for privatisation of essential goods and services?
Also, as the Indian Express reported, “Kejriwal clarified his party is against crony capitalism not capitalism.” Kejriwal “praised industrialists as the real engines of growth and appealed to them to become party to the revolution.”
Am I right in understanding that this vision is very different from what you’ve articulated all your life?
As someone who has played a very modest but at the same time very consistent role in supporting (as a writer) the various movements with which you were associated, I hope that I understand correctly that you are firmly opposed to capitalism and your life is devoted to finding genuine alternatives to capitalism.
Many who believe in alternative paths of development eagerly look forward to your views on basic issues. We look forward to receiving your views about standing in election as a candidate of a political party whose top most leaders has openly embraced capitalism.
With good wishes
Bharat Dogra
C-27 Raksha Kunj, Paschim Vihar, New Delhi- 110063
Tel: 25255303

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Twenty Questions for Modi-Rahul-Kejriwal

1.       Pressing Issues before the people :
All three of you are in the Prime Ministerial race. But why are you not talking about the real issues facing the people? Do you have no concern with pressing problems like poverty, unemployment, backwardness, hunger, malnutrition, exploitation of workers-farmers, poor state of education and health, atrocities on Dalits and women and communalism? Why are you avoiding these real issues and indulging in trivialities and cheap dramatics?
2.       Unemployment :
There is massive unemployment in the country. Youth have to leave their home and migrate hundreds and thousands of kilometers in search of jobs. How are you going to deal with this?  Lakhs of small and cottage industries have closed down in the current phase of globalisation and liberalization. Jobs have also been lost due to mechanization. Are you ready to reverse this development which destroys employment?
3.       Wages :
Real wages are going down, while prices are going up. In the MNREGA, government is not prepared to give even minimum wage. Jobs are not being regularized and pension is not being provided in public as well as private sector. Why are you silent on this issue? Why did the Aam Admi Party not fulfill its promise to end contract labour system?
4.       Seventh Pay Commission :
If the government does not have enough resources for welfare of people and development, why did it hugely increase salaries of officers-professors through fifth and sixth pay commission? Why has it announced again the seventh pay commission? Why are you not concerned about low income of common working masses whose hard work is actually running the country?
5.       Crisis of Farming :
Farmers are the food-providers (annadata) of the nation. But they are continuously in crisis. More than three lakh farmers have committed suicide in last 19 years. Farmers’ suicides have taken place in large numbers in Gujarat also. Are you not guilty for this? How will you change this present system based on the destruction and exploitation of agriculture and farmers?
6.        Same Economic Policy and Development Model :
The sham of the Gujarat development model has been exposed. But that is the model being implemented in the whole country and the present sorry state of the country is precisely result of the same. Mr. Kejriwal has not revealed what is his model and how it differs from the Modi-Manmohan model?
7.       Corporate Rule :  
Each and every government of the country is bending backwards to please corporates by displacing farmers and Adivasis, destroying forests, rivers and environment and creating scams and super-scams for the benefit of them. Are these corporates bigger or the people of this country above them? Mr. Kejriwal has targeted only one corporate house. Why can’t he see that all corporate houses are the same and guilty?
8.       Foreign Capital :
Our elders made many sacrifices for independence, but our governments are again forfeiting it by inviting multinationals and allowing them to loot our natural resources, exploit our labour and capture our markets.  Is this not a betrayal, a treason? Mr. Kejriwal, what do you have to say on it? Please clarify.
9.       The Biggest Scam :
The government of India has given tax exemptions of the order of Rs. 31,88,752 crores in 4 central taxes to the companies and the rich in last eight years. Subsidies, cheap land-water-power-minerals-loans and tax exemptions by state governments are in addition to it. This is a loot of this poor country. You are either involved in this biggest scam of the nation or just silent about it. Why?    
10.   Environment :
You have talked about saving Ganges and other rivers. But can’t you see that the roots of their destruction lie in modern development, urbanization and modern industrialization? Why don’t you speak on them? Why is protection of forests, land, air and biodiversity not on your agenda? Why are you not ready or advocating to ban dangerous technologies like genetically modified seeds or nuclear technology?   
11.   Business of Education :
Today only 11 out of a hundred Indian children are able to enter colleges. Sixty two children out of a hundred drop out before their tenth standard. Various governments have run away from their constitutionally mandated responsibility and put education in the hands of private profiteers. This has ensured that only people with money would get education and that too market-oriented education. Trade of education is essentially an evil. When will the day come when each and every child of this country will get free and meaningful education without any discrimination, as envisioned in our constitution? Only a common school system based on neighborhood schools can achieve the target of the universal education. That is the experience worldwide. Do you agree with this?
12.   Non-existing Health Services :
In the same manner, while deliberately ruining the public health services, private doctors, private hospitals and the pharmaceutical companies have been given full freedom to loot the people. Many people die a slow painful death, get indebted or forced to go to quakes or Tantriks and get cheated. Is this ‘Sushasan’ or ‘Swaraj’?
13.   Dominance of English :
English rulers have left but their language continues to rule us. Crores of children and youth are frustrated and get inferiority complex, a handful of people at the top continue to maintain their monopoly and the whole nation remains a nation of imitators without original ideas due to this. Why have you done nothing about it? Why are you silent about it?
14.   Justice for Women and Dalits :
You have done nothing and said nothing against the ‘Manuwadi’ system that has given low status to the women and Shudras. Destruction of the caste system and patriarchy does not appear to be your goal. Then are your statements about liberating women, Dalits and backward communities a hoax? Should we conclude that you do not want to change the system, you just want to change the government to gain power?

15.   Alcoholism :
One major factor behind atrocities against women, crimes and ruining of families is growing addiction to alchohol, drugs etc. Then why do all governments encourage use and sale of alchohol, Gutka, Cigerates and why enough steps are not taken to free society from these evils?
16.   Communalism :
What have you done to counter communalism which has led to fight among neighbours and spread the poison of hatred among the people?  Modi is of cource a product of the same, but Rahul-Kejriwal are also answerable. In spite of terrible riots in Muzaffarpur in the neighbourhood immediately before the Delhi election, AAP maintainbed a silence over it in that election. Kejriwal went to Gujarat, challenged Modi, but did not comment on the communal genocide of 2002. Can opportunism and compromise of this type counter the monster of communalism and fascism?
17.   Parachute Candidates :
All parties in this election have suddenly imposed from the top high profile candidates such as film stars, retired officers, company executives, cricketers, NRIs. They are suddenly dropped from the sky. Tickets have also been in plenty to those who have switched parties and who are wealthy. Do you have any principles or not? What happened to the big talk of politics from below, participatory politics, transparency, clean politics etc.?  
18.   Divergence between speech and action :
Sometimes you travel by Metro or local train; at other times you use a chartered plane. Have you given a thought as how much money is spent for one person to travel by a chartered plane, how much petrol is consumed and how much carbon footprint is left? You talk of the Aam Admi but organize lunches of Rs. 20,000 per head. What is this?
19.   Personality Cult :
A big weakness in the Indian political system is that the leaders grow bigger than the party and the principles. The leader is presented as a miracle-maker or superman as if once he comes to power, all the problems of the country will be solved. This is exactly what happens in our society where godmen or Babas or Gurus claim to work miracles and solve all problems. Aren’t all three of you guilty of promoting this evil of superstition, miracalism, superstardom, personality worship and lack of ideology in Indian politics?
20.   Lastly,
Mr. Narendra Modi,
There appears to be a combination of pro-corporate policies, communalism and dictatorial tendencies in you. This is an ideal situation for fascism. You want to make the entire country like Gujarat. Does that mean that the genocide of 2002 will be repeated throughout the country, there will be a flood of false encounters everywhere and land will be taken away from the farmers and given to companies?

Mr. Rahul Gandhi,
For the last 23 years, the anti-people policies of privatization, liberalisation and globalization have been mainly imposed and promoted by the Congress rule. Where were you when these policies brought miseries like price rise, unemployment and corruption? Shouldn’t the people of India punish the Congress for the same?

Mr. Arvind Kejriwal,
The country had great hope in you. But you did not run the government for even 50 days and fled from the battle scene. Can the country’s problems be solved just by the Lokpal bill? How are your policies different from that of the Congress and the BJP? By supporting capitalism which has continuously brought newer and newer crises all over the world and which is itself undergoing a crisis, what kind of new politics you are practicing?

If you do not answer these burning questions of the people, it will be concluded that your intentions are not honest.

Samajwadi Jan Parishad
A Political Party committed for a radical and total change
Phone : 09425040452(Sunil), 09495994773(Joshy Jacob), 08004085923(Aflatoon)
Email :,

Vill+post : Kesla, Via Itarsi,  Distt : Hoshangabad, (M.P.) 461 111
Mo. : 09425040452

Thursday, April 10, 2014


  • Groundbreaking report Copper Colonialism: Vedanta KCM and the copper loot of Zambia, which has shaken Zambia, is formally launched in London.

  • Protests outside the Zambian High Commission and Vedanta Headquarters in London demand that KCM annual reports are made public, and compensation paid to communities poisoned by polluted water.

  • Vedanta have told Zambian government they are making a loss and may need state rescue, while report reveals they made $362 million in 2013.

  • Vedanta may be going private as boss Agarwal becomes 70% owner and share prices fall.

Today more than 40 protesters from Foil Vedanta(1), the Afrikan diaspora(2) and other organisations in London will chanted, played drums and held banners and placards outside the Zambia High Commission in London. They demanded that some of the revelations in Foil Vedanta's groundbreaking report Copper Colonialism: Vedanta KCM and the copper loot of Zambia(3), launched in London on Wednesday 2nd April, are addressed by Vedanta and the UK government - asking them to formally investigate the company, and criticising the involvement of the Department for International Development (DfID) in promoting their Zambian operations. Meanwhile Vedanta may be about to de-list from the London Stock Exchange as Chair Anil Agarwal becomes the 70% owner by buying up shares in the suffering company.

Protesters at the Zambian High Commission today held a banner reading 'Vedanta plunders, Zambia bleeds' and placards asking the UK government to bring Anil Agarwal to trail. Loud and rhythmic drums and megaphone chants echoed in the streets during the vibrant demonstration. A delegation met the Deputy High Commissioner and handed over a copy of the report in the presence of Zambian TV and diplomats. The delegation pledged to assist the Zambian government in monitoring Vedanta and making links with its operations in other parts of the world to understand its pattern of operation.

The protesters demanded that the UK government formally investigate, and bring to trial, contentious FTSE 250 mining company Vedanta for tax evasion, transfer mis-pricing, major poisoning of water supplies leading to birth deformities, and poor workers conditions. They highlighted the role of UK taxpayers bodies - the Commonwealth Development Committee (CDC) and the DfID, in promoting Vedanta's subsidiary Konkola Copper Mines (KCM) in Zambia.(4) They also called for Vedanta and the Zambian government to release Vedanta subsidiary Konkola Copper Mines (KCM)'s annual reports, containing figures on profits and tax payment, which are currently kept secret.

The authors of the groundbreaking report visited Zambia in December, and challenged a number of major misconceptions about Vedanta in Zambia, where they had created the perception that they are an Indian company, and are making such a loss at KCM that they may need to be rescued by the state. In fact KCM are one of the highest profit making subsidiaries of the parent company making $362 million in 2013, or 12.19% of the total company revenue, according to the company's own documents and analyst reports.(5) Vedanta's tax contributions in Zambia are close to zero, and they even brag that 50% of tax paid is via employees Pay As You Earn (PAYE).

Since the report was published online in late January, Vedanta executives have visited Zambia more than four times to counteract the evidence presented in it1. However, as of yet no evidence has been presented by Vedanta to dispute the figures and other claims presented in the report.

The report details how Vedanta, a FTSE 250 London based company which is 69.71% owned by Chairman Anil Agarwal, bought KCM for a fraction of its true value, possibly losing the Zambian exchequer up to $1.4bn in total.(6) It goes on to record some of the environmental and social abuses of the company in Zambia – including major pollution of the river Kafue in 2006 and 2010 which have led to ongoing health problems as extreme as deformed births and miscarriages, as well as poor workers conditions and low pay. Demonstrators also demand that Vedanta is forced to pay the fine of $2 million served by Zambian courts in 2011 as compensation to 2000 claimants poisoned in 2006, and stop ongoing spills affecting Chingola residents.(7)

Finally, they join the calls of KCM employees and former employees in Zambia, demanding that retrenched workers are properly compensated for taking redundancy, and existing contract labourers are unionised. Following the visit of new Vedanta CEO Tom Albanese in February, newspapers reported that Vedanta has come to an agreement with the labour minister that retrenchments would be stopped and casual labourers unionised2. Protesters in London will demand that this promise is fulfilled.

Foil Vedanta's Samarendra Das says:

There is a clear pattern in the way this company operates across India and in Africa - building projects without permissions, evading tax, de-unionising and illegal mining. They have also been found guilty of gross negligence leading to mass fatalities and major pollution incidents. The UK government and the FCA must formally investigate and bring to trial this company which is bringing shame on the London Stock Exchange, and take serious action against it.”

Vedanta's share price dropped by a third during 2013, prompting Chairman and majority owner Anil Agarwal to raise his stake in the company to 69.71% to keep the company afloat, and raising questions about whether Vedanta will soon de-list and become a private company. The loss of earnings was largely due to illegalities and local protests at Vedanta's operations in India. In Goa, Vedanta's iron ore mines have been stopped for the past year following revelations that they had exported 150 million tonnes of iron ore in 2010/11 while only declaring 7.6 million, their agreed export allowance. In Odisha, their Niyamgiri mine has been banned by the Ministry of Environment and Forests due to local opposition, costing them $10 billion in lost investments, and in Australia their Mount Lyell copper mine has been suspended following a series of fatal accidents3.

Francis Wambuzi, Chair of the Former KCM Miners Association(8) and resident of Wusakile township, located beside KCM's Kitwe smelter says:

KCM workers are being over taxed and under paid, and Vedanta has shifted the majority of workers onto contractual labour who's union they do not recognise. Those who were retrenched from KCM this year as part of cutbacks have received peanuts in redundancy pay, just like the rest of the 752 retrenched workers in our group. Their factory chokes us with sulphur and we can't even grow crops. Is this development?

We demand that Anil Agarwal answers our question: who is with-holding our severance benefits?”

100 workers staged a lock in on 17th March, refusing to come out of Shaft no 1 at KCM's Chililabombwe mine because meals for overtime workers had been stopped by KCM management.

(1) Foil Vedanta are a London based international solidarity group focusing on the activities of British mining company Vedanta. We link up global communities affected by Vedanta, and hold them to account in London. We are currently aiming to make the case for Vedanta to be de-listed from the London Stock Exchange for their human rights and corporate governance abuses.

(2)Members of the Pan-Afrikan Society Community Forum, the Pan-Afrikan Reparations Coalition in Europe and the Global Justice Forum will attend the demonstration alongside other groups.

  1. The full report Copper Colonialism: British miner Vedanta KCM and the copper loot of Zambia can be found at The report, released in January 2014 has caused shock waves in Zambia and raised the debate on the way copper mining companies operate in Zambia.

  1. (see p.27 of report). In June 2012 Zambian President Michael Sata was keynote speaker at the Commonwealth Economic Forum jubilee dinner in London, hosted by CDC (which is wholly owned by DfID). The conference was part sponsored by Konkola Copper Mines and contained a session on 'Investing in Zambia' with a speech from then CEO of KCM, Jeyakumar Janakaraj alongside Zambian parliamentarians. During the meeting Sata held a closed door meeting with Anil Agarwal in the St James Crowne Plaza in London. Another speaker at the conference was Tom Albanese, the then Rio Tinto CEO, who became Vedants CEO in March, and has flown out to Zambia four times since February according to news reports.

The UK's Commonwealth Development Corporation (previously the Colonial Development Corporation and now known as CDC group) owned 7.5% of KCM when it was controlled by Anglo American, and had previously set up the Kafue Consortium to try to buy key mines during the privatisation of Zambian state mining company ZCCM. DfID also helped maximise Anglo American's profit from KCM while they themselves owned shares in it, by using $81 million of UK taxpayers money to fund the upgrading of KCM's Nkana smelter, which was subsequently abandoned by Vedanta, begging questions about this use of taxpayers money.

  1. Excerpt from report (p.12):
KCM and other mining companies in Zambia don't publish their profits, even though the Zambian taxpayer has a share in most of them via ZCCM-IH. However Vedanta's 2013 annual report claims KCM produced 216,000 tonnes of copper in 2013. In the same year costs of production were valued at 255.1 US cents/lb, putting the total cost of production that year at $1.2 billion, which would constitute a profit of $362 million (at a current copper price of $7,300).
Analysts reports from Global Data reveal that KCM made 12.19% of revenue for the entire Vedanta group in 2012 so they are certainly not doing too badly.

(6) Excerpt from report (p.6):
A 51% share in KCM was sold to Vedanta Resources for just $25 million, paid in cash, and $23 million in deferred payments, in 200412. The deal was facilitated by Clifford Chance and Standard Chartered Bank13 (one of the main bookrunners and lenders to Vedanta Resources). Within three months Vedanta had already recouperated its initial investment, making $26 million. The banks also helped Vedanta secretly negotiate a call option allowing them the right to purchase Zambia Copper Investments' 28.4% share14, which they exercised in November 2005 (a year after their initial purchase), giving them the 79.4% monopoly they currently hold on KCM, while the Zambian government - via ZCCM-IH (their mining investment wing), own the remaining 20.6%. The Competition Commission was even rendered irrelevant by the Zambian government to allow Vedanta such a large majority share15

The price negotiated for the buyout of ZCI's remaining shares is not reported, but analysts at the time valued it between $250 million and $550 million, putting Vedanta's original 51% share at between $455 and $910 million, nine to eighteen times what Vedanta paid! This means the Zambian exchequer lost between $155 and $340 million in from the sale of 21.4% of ZCCMIH's shares alone. In response, ZCI's 33% French shareholders (grouped into a company called Sicovam SA) called the deal 'the most outrageous and scandalous ever seen in Africa for decades'.

This puts the value of the entire 79.4% share held by Vedanta at between $705 and $1460 million, losing the Zambian exchequer between $600 and $1400 million in undervalued assets.

  1. In 2006 KCM spilled effluent into the Mushishima stream, and the Kafue river, raising chemical concentrations in the river Kafue to 10 x acceptable levels of copper, 770 x manganese and 100 x cobalt. Thousands were poisoned, and a litigation on behalf of 2000 Chingola residents by private lawyers resulted in a landmark $2 million fine being delivered by judges in 2011 to be paid to the claimants4. However, Vedanta challenged the ruling and the case is yet to be re-heard while the fine remains unpaid. Affected residents are now experiencing birth deformities and severe health problems, while the Mushishima stream remains regularly contaminated by the KCM mine, leaving communities without clean water and suffering ongoing health problems. (See p.21 of report)

  1. The Former KCM Miners Association is a union of workers retrenched from KCM since 2000. They are 752 in total, and 235 of them were retrenched during Anglo American's ownership of KCM (2000 – 2004). None have received the full severance pay they were entitled to, while those fired under Anglo have received nothing at all. The group have been campaigning on this issue for many years.

1Financial Times, March 10 2014, ‘Albanese back at the helm to face Vedanta challenge’. (paper version only)