Saturday, April 22, 2017

Natalie Nougayrède - France’s identity crisis: ‘People just don’t know what to think any more’

The quiet, lovely medieval towns and soft, rolling hills covered with orchards and vineyards of south-west France are an unlikely setting for a citizens’ uprising. Yet just days before the presidential election, conversations with the inhabitants of this once leftwing region, stretching from the city of Toulouse to the rural settings of the Tarn-et-Garonne, offer a glimpse into France’s mood of rage and confusion. Popular resentment, fears and frustrations set the stage for a major political upheaval, almost 60 years after De Gaulle founded the country’s Fifth Republic.

France is a republican quasi-monarchy. Its institutions are centred on the president. But what is at stake in this vote isn’t just the choice of a personality, nor only an economic or political programme. The very essence of France’s democracy hangs in the balance, as well as the survival of the 60-year-old European project. Much of what is at work resembles the trends that produced Brexit in Britain and Trump in the US – not least the disgruntlement of those who feel they have lost out to globalisation. But there are also specific, distinct elements of a collective French identity crisis.

In the town of Moissac, a doctor in her 50s describes the mood this way: “We are experiencing a huge evolution, and it might well become a revolution. It would only take a spark.” “People are fed up and disorientated,” says a shopkeeper in Montauban, a town 30 miles north of Toulouse. “Many don’t yet know how they’ll vote, but be sure they will want to kick some bums. Things can’t go on like this”.


The French are notorious for complaining, and for their divisiveness. “How is it possible to govern a country that produces 246 varieties of cheese?” De Gaulle once asked. Brooding is a national sport. Surveys have shown the French are more pessimistic than Iraqis or Afghans . It’s hard to square this with the living standards of the world’s fifth largest economy, a country of high social protection and well-developed infrastructure, which has known 70 years of peace. But these are difficult, mind-boggling times. If comments from people in France’s south-west are anything to go by, then populist, extremist and even conspiratorial views are likely to define much of what will happen on Sunday and beyond… read more
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/apr/22/france-elections-2017-le-pen-fillon-macron


Michael Safi - The ice stupas of Ladakh: solving water crisis in the high desert of Himalaya

It is the latest solution to an old problem in the Himalayan foothills. Despite its breathtaking scenery, life in Ladakh has always been hard. It is a desert at 10,000 feet, receiving on average just 50mm of rainfall each year. “The only reason people can live there is the glaciers,” Wangchuk says.
Each winter, titanic shelves of ice form at high altitudes and melt throughout the spring, flowing downwards into the streams that are the veins of civilisation on the mountain. Lately, that cycle has faltered.

Unnaturally high global temperatures threaten ice shelves everywhere – but researchers believe Himalayan glaciers are shrinking more quickly than any on earth. Less water is reaching Ladakh’s farms and villages, and when it does, the volume of water from the faster-melting glaciers can break the banks of streams, causing floods.

Wangchuk is not the first to try to wring a more sustainable water supply from the mountains. For centuries, inhabitants of the Hindu Kush and Karakoram ranges have practiced “glacier grafting”, chipping away at existing ice and pooling the pieces at higher altitudes, hoping to create new glaciers that can supply streams throughout the growing season. Apocryphally, villagers in the 13th century “grew” such glaciers across mountain passes to stop the advance of Genghis Khan.

More than a decade ago, another Indian engineer devised an update. Chewang Norphel earned the nickname the “iceman of Ladakh” by using a network of pipes to divert meltwater into artificial lakes on shaded sides of the mountain. The water would freeze at night, creating glaciers that grew each day as new water flowed into the basin. Norphel created 11 reservoirs that supplied water to 10,000 people... read more:
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/apr/22/the-ice-stupas-of-ladakh-solving-water-crisis-in-the-high-desert-of-himalaya


Friday, April 21, 2017

Mohd Asim - When Modi Asked BJP Leaders To Stay Silent, He Left This Out // Aatish Taseer - Anatomy of a Lynching

A lynching is a majority’s way of telling a minority population that the law cannot protect it. That is why in the American South so many African-American men were dragged from jails or hanged outside courthouses

Mr Modi is a master of messaging. So much that his silences, much like his speeches, convey a lot. And there is a pattern to his spells of silence. Mr Modi goes mum when he knows that his words might provide a healing touch to a section of population that is being terrorised and marginalised by elements in the larger Sangh Parivaar. Yes, I mean Muslims. So you will not have a word of condemnation over killings of an Akhlaq or a Pehlu Khan or other Muslims in Jharkhand or Jammu. He prefers silence while his party motormouths send across a clear and unmistakable message that Muslim lives don't matter in the India of today. Events after the public lynching on April 1 of Pehlu Khan in Alwar are chilling to say the least. It was Dadri deja vuGau goons attack and kill on the assumption of cow slaughter. The BJP brigade sides with the killers. The usual "killing is wrong, but..." responses follow. The law is secondary. Assumed sentimentalities that are hurt over an assumed act (read cow killing) are paramount. A murder becomes fair game.

After the killing of Pehlu Khan in broad daylight on a highway in Rajasthan, the BJP has sent a clear message that it firmly stands with killers. The state's Home Minister, Gulab Chand Kataria, who is directly responsible for law and order, first underplayed and then sought to justify the medievalism and barbarism of the attack in the name of the holy cow. Union Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi even went on to say on the floor of the House that "the incident didn't happen on the ground as narrated by the opposition members" who quoted newspaper reports detailing the mob violence. This, to my mind, was a new low in state denialism. Through all this, Vasundhara Raje, the Chief Minister of Rajasthan, kept quiet. Not a word of consolation for the family of Pehlu Khan, no assurance of justice. Ditto with the government of Haryana, whose citizen Pehlu Khan was. No word from anyone in power that they cared. .. 
read more: 

Aatish Taseer - Anatomy of a Lynching
A lynching is much more than just a murder. A murder may occur in private. A lynching is a public spectacle; it demands an audience.

The lynching of Pehlu Khan, a 55-year-old dairy farmer, in the western Indian state of Rajasthan at the beginning of this month attracted a live audience of dozens and a virtual one in the millions. Mr. Khan, a Muslim, stood accused of smuggling cows, which are sacred to Hindus. A whole nation watched the scene on its smartphones and televisions: Mr. Khan, a lone hunted figure in white, lurches and stumbles along the edge of a dusty highway. He is pursued by “cow vigilantes,” young men in striped T-shirts and jeans, armed with belts and sticks. Eventually they gain on Mr. Khan, who falls to the ground, clutching his stomach. A crowd with cameras and smartphones circles. In screen within screen, we see Mr. Khan brutally beaten by the vigilantes in broad view of everybody. He died three days later, the sixth fatality since 2015 of a Muslim man subjected to vigilante justice of this kind.

M.N.Roy Memorial Lecture: Free Speech, Nationalism and Sedition by Justice AP Shah

M.N. Roy Lecture by Justice A. P. Shah (retired) 
April 19, 2017, Speaker Hall, Constitution Club, New Delhi. 
Organised under the aegis of The Indian Renaissance Institute
Short excerpt of the lecture / Full text is available in PDF below

A. Introduction: “A parochial, selfish, narrow minded nationalism has caused so much misfortune and misery to the world. A mad and exaggerated form of this cult of nationalism is today running rampant....” This statement made by M.N. Roy, as far back as 1942, may resonate with many even today, particularly in these times we live in. Good evening, Justice Chalmeswar, Mr. Pancholi and distinguished members of audience. It is a privilege and an honour to be here to deliver the M.N. Roy Memorial lecture today.

M.N. Roy was a leading intellectual and thinker, and an activist philosopher, who was deeply involved in the Humanist Movement. He was critical of the fundamentals of Indian nationalism and the ideology of nationalism in general, particularly in light of the rise of Fascism and Nazism and the outbreak of the Second World War. Roy left India during the earlier part of the First World War as a full-blooded nationalist, but changed his views after much reflection and new political experiences. 

He founded the Communist Party of Mexico in 1919, the first Communist Party outside Russia. During the second World Congress of Communist International, Roy helped formulate the famous Thesis on the National and Colonial Question by Lenin, although he disagreed with Lenin on the class composition of the leadership of the nationalist movement in colonies. Subsequently, on account of disagreements with Stalin, Roy returned to India in December 1930.

His return, however, was short lived. In July 1931, he was arrested on charges of sedition for the Bolshevik Conspiracy Case and tried in Kanpur Jail, without any open trial. He was sentenced to jail for 12 years, and was eventually released within six years at the age of 36. Thereafter, Roy joined the Congress, although he ultimately fell out with them on account of their reluctance to support the British to oppose fascism (which he considered to be a greater evil) in the Second World War.

After India became independent, Roy became a chief proponent of the idea of “radical humanism”, which he described as “a new humanism”. He continued writing on nationalism and on its economic and political aspects. In 1944, he drafted a “Constitution of Free India”, where he included a chapter on “Declaration of Fundamental Rights” which clearly stated that a “right to revolt against tyranny and oppression is sacred”.

B. The Situation Today: Roy’s ideas thus covered a broad range of topics, including speech and dissent. In fact, that is exactly why I have chosen to speak on Nationalism, Free Speech and Sedition for this memorial lecture. Today, we are living in a world where we are forced to stand for the national anthem at a movie theatre, we are told what we can and cannot eat, what we can and cannot see, and what we can and cannot speak about. Dissent, especially in the university space, is being curbed, and sloganeering and flag raising have become tests for nationalism. We have a 21-year old University student who is subject to severe online hate, abuse, and threats, only because she dared express her views... read more: 

see also




Supreme Court blasts Centre over making Aadhaar mandatory, says it was supposed to be optional

The Supreme Court of India lambasted the Narendra Modi-led BJP government at the Centre for making Aadhaar card a mandatory prerequisite to avail government services. The government was told that the Aadhaar can only be an optional requirement, as per the court's earlier ruling on the issue. The court was making the observations while hearing a PIL filed against the government's decision of making Aadhaar compulsary.

To this, the Centre responded saying Pan cards were found to be misused, and the only option to combat this problem was to make Aadhaar mandatory. "We found a number of PAN cards were being used to divert funds to shell companies. To prevent it (from happening), the only option was to make Aadhar card mandatory," said Attorney General of India, Mukul Rohatgi, appearing in the Supreme Court on the government's behalf.

Last month, the government had said it is mandatory to use one's Aadhaar card while filing Income Tax returns. The move was purportedly part of the Centre's efforts to battle the menace of black money. Aadhaar is also a must while applying for a Pan card. This apart, an Aadhaar number has also become mandatory to seek free gas connections under the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana. Those below poverty line (BPL) women looking to avail free LPG connections but do not have the Aadhaar number, have been asked to apply for it by 31 May.


The Supreme Court had said in August 2015 that Aadhaar cards will not be mandatory for availing benefits of government's welfare schemes, and had also barred authorities from sharing personal biometric data collected for enrollment under the scheme.
http://www.firstpost.com/india/supreme-court-blasts-centre-over-making-aadhaar-mandatory-says-it-was-supposed-to-be-optional-3396326.html

More posts on Aadhaar


Police arrest Gujarat, Maharashtra farmers proceeding to Modi's birthplace Vadnagar to protest

The Gujarat police have prevented Aasood Yatra, a non-political farmers’ protest rally, led by maverick independent Maharashtra MLA Bacchu Kadu of Amravati, at the inter-state border immediately after it reached Navapur village, to proceed further into Gujarat. 

The rally, which began in Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis’ hometown Nagpur on April 11, proposed to reach Vadnagar, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s birthplace in Gujarat, on April 21. In Vadnagar, around 1,000 farmers were to donate blood in order to send a message to Modi that they were willing to give their blood if he spared their lives. The Nagpur to Vadnagar rally consisted of hundreds of whip wielding farmers of Vidarbha. According to Khedut Samaj – Gujarat (KSG) general secretary Sagar Rabari, “About 1,000 Maharashtra farmers, along with 400 Gujarat’s farmers who were about to join the rally, were detained on the border.”

Along with farmers and independent MLA Kadu, KSG president Jayesh Patel, who was in South Gujarat town of Bardoli with his supporters to welcome the yatra, was also detained at Songardh”, said Rabari, adding, “Patel had organized lunch for the Maharashtra farmers as also a joint meeting. They have all been taken to the Ucchal police station.”The rally was allowed to pass through Sukhpur, the last village in Maharashtra along the border with Gujarat. In all some 50 groups, including Shetkari Sanghatana, took part of the rally, whose claimed objective was to draw the present government's “attention towards plight of farmers forced to live in abject poverty because of wrong agriculture policies.”

The rally was called Aasood, which in Marathi means whip. It idea taken from top Maharashtra social reformer Jyotiba Phule’s novel 'Shetkaricha Aasood', which is based on the theme that the farmer should use the whip not only on the bullocks he mends but also on the oppressors.  "Motivated by that thought, I mobilized farmers to rise for their rights of a respectable life," Kadu has been quoted as saying.  Even as starting off for the rally, Kadu said, "We will crack the whip against the government to remind Modi that he has failed to fulfill electoral promise of implementing MS Swaminathan Commission's recommendation on fixing crop prices to input costs and 50% of profit.”
He wondered, “We want curbs on exports of cotton, tur to go so that farmers can benefit. When there are no such restrictions on Baba Ramdev's products, why impose them on poor farmers?”


Passing through Wardha, the rally traversed through Yavatmal and Nanded. It covered Latur, Osmanabad, Solapur and later via Sangli, Satara, Kolhapur, Pune, Ahmednagar, Aurangabad, Nashik, Dhule and Nandurbar, before it reached the border with Gujarat in order to proceed towards Vadnagar, via Ahmedabad. Ahead of the rally, Kadu rejected any support from the Congress or the Nationalist Congress Party, saying, their Kisan Sangharsh Yatra was “nothing but a stunt”. 

"These parties were in power when Swaminathan submitted his report in 2006. But they did not implement it. Now out of power they are shedding crocodile tears for farmers," Kadu reportedly said.
"The government without batting an eyelid gives 7th pay commission to its staff. But even after 3.5 lakh farmers committed suicide, they do not want to find permanent solution to agriculture crisis or invest adequately for the cause," he added.
http://www.counterview.net/2017/04/police-arrest-gujarat-maharashtra.html


Thursday, April 20, 2017

A Violent End: The collapse of a murder trial - By LEENA GITA REGHUNATH

On 29 December 2007, Sunil Joshi, a one-time member of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, was shot and killed near his home in the district of Dewas, in Madhya Pradesh. Nearly a decade later, in February 2017, eight people who were charged with his killing were acquitted of the crime. Joshi’s murder, it appeared, was destined to remain unsolved.

The significance of the acquittals extended far beyond the case of Joshi’s killing. One of the theories that investigating agencies proposed for the murder was that it was linked to Joshi’s involvement in some of the most heinous acts of mass murder in India’s history: the Malegaon blasts of 2006, and the Samjhauta Express blast, the Ajmer Sharif blast and the Mecca Masjid blast of 2007, which, in all, killed 111 people. One of Joshi’s alleged co-conspirators in these attacks, a Hindutva activist named Pragya Singh Thakur, was among those accused, and then acquitted, of his murder. If Joshi’s killing erased key information about the blasts, the failure of the murder investigation further weakens the possibility that the larger network of conspiracies will be uncovered, and their perpetrators punished.


Among the early theories that investigating agencies explored in the blast cases was that they had been planned by Pakistani conspirators or members of the banned Students Islamic Movement of India. But according to Vikash Narain Rai, a police officer who headed the special investigation team of the Haryana police that was assigned to the Samjhauta case, an unexploded suitcase from the train led his team to a shop in Indore, whose staff revealed that it had been bought by Hindu, and not Muslim, men. Pursuing the lead further, Rai said, they came upon the name of Joshi, who headed a group of three people that had planned the bombing. “But by the time we started looking into this aspect,” Rai told the news website The Wire in June 2016, “this guy was murdered.” Joshi thus became a shadow of a shadow: a suspect who had been eliminated before investigators could find him.

The names of the alleged Hindu conspirators only emerged into the public domain in 2008, when the Maharashtra anti-terrorism squad, or ATS, headed by Hemant Karkare, which was investigating a 2008 blast in Malegaon, traced a motorcycle recovered from the site to Thakur. Apart from Joshi and Thakur, the investigations also pointed to the involvement of another Hindutva activist, Swami Aseemanand, as well as an army officer named Shrikant Purohit.

Joshi, who at one point held the post of RSS’s zila pracharak of Madhya Pradesh’s Mhow cantonment, had gained a sinister reputation after he was linked to the 2003 murder of the Congress leader Pyar Singh Ninama and his son Dinesh. The police had since declared him absconding. This unseemly history, according to a 2010 report on the website Rediff, only increased his popularity, as “Joshi began to operate quite openly, mobilising support” for his violent activities. An unnamed Bajrang Dal activist in Mhow told Rediff, “Joshiji was someone who would say one death from our side should be avenged with five from the other side.”

Though several reports suggested that the RSS distanced itself from him for his growing aggression, Deepak Joshi, a BJP MLA from Dewas, told Rediff that he had met Sunil Joshi at an event even while police asserted that he was in hiding. Further, according to several news reports, the diary that was recovered from Joshi’s dead body listed the phone numbers of several RSS functionaries, including the senior leader Indresh Kumar and the spokesperson Ram Madhav - the former as an “emergency number.” (The charge sheet, however, mentions only the names of Aseemanand and other accomplices as appearing in the diary.).. read more:



Govt uses ‘adverse’ IB reports to reject names of 6 former judges for tribunals, commissions

NB: The Modi government continues to undermine the independence of the judiciary. It is significant that the RSS-led government is now sitting in judgement on the integrity of SC judges. Perhaps we have all forgotten the Sunil Joshi murder case, the Aseemanand tapes, public prosecutor Rohini Salian's protest at manipulation of criminal justice, and the petition in the SC regarding the soft-pedalling of prosecution in criminal cases involving the Hindutva activists. Not to mention cases wherein witnesses in such cases have suddenly turned hostile. Everyone - including IAS IPS, and judicial officials - who thinks these are 'normal' times will find themselves rudely awakened: DS

“On what basis did the IB find a former judge of the Supreme Court of doubtful integrity? We aren’t talking about just anyone. It is about judges who have sat in the highest court of the land. I have seen many such IB reports when I was a member of the collegium and they are mostly based on hearsay. If the government is doing what you are telling me, then it is worrisome signal,” said a retired Chief Justice of India 

ARGUING over the Memorandum of Procedure, the Supreme Court has refused to agree to a Government veto on a judge’s appointment on grounds of national security. But as the faceoff continues, the Centre has used “secret” inputs provided by the Intelligence Bureau (IB) to block post-retirement assignments to former judges. The Indian Express has learnt that over the last few months, citing “adverse IB reports,” the Centre has rejected the candidature of six former judges for posting as chairpersons or members of tribunals and commissions.


The six include: two judges who recently retired from the Supreme Court; two who retired as Chief Justices of High Courts; and two former HC judges. These judges, it is learnt, were recommended by the judiciary for appointments to panels that include Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal, Competition Appellate Tribunal, National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, National Company Law Tribunal and Armed Forces Tribunal.

The judges’ names were sent for approval to the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet (ACC) after due diligence by the administrative ministry concerned. While four former judges were not cleared for the job by the ACC on grounds of “adverse IB reports,” two other names were sent back by the ACC without ascribing any reason. In the case of two of the nominees — both retired High Court judges — the fact that there was an “adverse” IB report about them has been recorded on file by the Cabinet Secretariat, thereby ensuring that they aren’t likely to be considered for any post-retirement jobs in the government again.

In post-retirement appointments, the government is not rule-bound to accept the judiciary’s recommendation but has to provide sufficient grounds for turning it down. Interestingly, in the case of one former Supreme Court judge, the government disregarded an “adverse IB input” and appointed him as member of a tribunal. Sources said this rejection on the basis of IB reports, which contain little or virtually no corroborative evidence, is bound to make it harder for the Chief Justice of India to persuade retired judges to accept such posts.


“On what basis did the IB find a former judge of the Supreme Court of doubtful integrity? We aren’t talking about just anyone. It is about judges who have sat in the highest court of the land. I have seen many such IB reports when I was a member of the collegium and they are mostly based on hearsay. If the government is doing what you are telling me, then it is worrisome signal,” said a retired Chief Justice of India who didn’t wish to be named.

See also


Steven Harper on Donald Trump - 100 Days of Deconstruction: Part One

At its best, government saves the environment from polluters, prevents companies from exploiting consumers, safeguards individuals against invidious discrimination and other forms of injustice, and lends a helping hand to those in need. None of those principles guides the Trump/Bannon government.

Two months into Trump’s presidency, historian Douglas Brinkley said it would be “the most failed 100 days of any president.” David Gergen, a seasoned adviser to Presidents Nixon, Ford, Reagan and Clinton, agreed. But they’re using a traditional scorecard. With the help of Trump Party senators and loyalists, Steve Bannon and his boss are remaking America. Future generations won’t judge kindly those who let it happen. Then again, if Trump’s trajectory continues, maybe there won’t be many more future generations anyway.

After losing his seat on the National Security Council, Bannon’s influence over US foreign policy may have waned. But regardless of his future, he has already had an indelible impact on the country. At CPAC, he declared that key members of Trump’s Cabinet were “selected for a reason.” In the first 100 days of Trump’s presidency, that reason has become clear. They have demonstrated a collective determination to deconstruct not only the administrative state, but also the essence of America itself. They hold views that are anathema to the missions of the federal agencies they now lead. They blend kleptocracy — government by leaders who seek chiefly status and personal gain at the expense of the governed — and kakistocracy — government by the worst people.

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt
Anyone who lived through the 1960s - or observes China and India today - knows what happens when polluters get a pass. Bill Moyers’ Jan. 31, 2017 video essay previewed how Scott Pruitt was poised to return the nation to the darkest chapter in its environmental history: contaminated water unfit for drinking or swimming; smog-filled air unfit for breathing; a deteriorating planet careening toward a time when it will be unfit for human habitation. In 1970, President Richard Nixon created the EPA for a reason. Now it’s the victim of a hostile takeover.


After the election, Trump asked one of his billionaire friends, Carl Icahn, to screen candidates for the job of EPA administrator. As an unpaid adviser, Icahn wasn’t subject to the stringent ethics and conflict of interest reviews facing Cabinet appointees. During his interview of Pruitt, Icahn asked specifically about an ethanol rule that was costing one of Icahn’s oil refineries more than $200 million a year. Pruitt said he opposed the rule; Icahn then supported Pruitt for the EPA job… 
read more: 
http://billmoyers.com/story/trump-100-days-of-deconstruction/


More on peak oil


Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Donald Trump’s mental lapses rapidly worsen

Beginning on Monday morning, Donald Trump was involved in a bizarre incident in which he took a hat from a kid, autographed it, and flung it into the crowd instead of handing it back to him (video link here). The kids yelled out to try to correct his strange behavior, but instead he responded by doing the same thing to another kid’s hat. This was in the same timeframe in which he couldn’t remember to put his hand over his heart during the National Anthem and had to be visibly nudged by his wife. But these minor incidents were merely warning shots.

By Monday evening, Trump had unwittingly revealed during a Fox News interview that he didn’t know the name of North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un, the one he’s been threatening to blow up for the past week. He also revealed that he believes thirty-two year old Kim Jong-Un is the same guy who’s been in power since the nineties. Trump doesn’t know that Kim and his late father Kim-Jong Il are two different people (Talking Points Memo). Worse, as recently as a few months ago, Trump’s words during the campaign made clear that he did know that these were two different leaders. In other words, he’s completely forgotten the key things that he previously knew about North Korea. And even if his advisers have tried to remind him, it appears he’s now incapable of hanging on to that information.

 But perhaps Monday was just a singularly bad day for Donald Trump? As it turns out, he traveled to a political rally today in Wisconsin, the home state of Speaker Paul Ryan. The two Republicans don’t always get along, but they know each other quite well. And yet Trump kept referring to Paul Ryan as “Ron” during his speech today (Bipartisan Report). On their own, any one of these incidents could be seen as a mere gaffe, an absent moment. But strung together, they paint a picture of a man who’s become mentally vacant.


Throw in the incident last week Trump he claimed that he had launched Tomahawk missiles into Iraq instead of Syria, and didn’t seem to understand his mistake after the interviewer pointed it out (link), and it establishes a clear pattern. Donald Trump’s mental lapses are rapidly worsening by the day. Only a doctor could tell us if this is something like dementia or Alzheimers or the mere effects of worsening situational stress. But no matter the diagnosis, it’s clear Trump is objectively incapable of doing the job or holding the office – and he must resign. 


Tom Phillips - China chases billionaire who threatens 'explosive' allegations against elite

A flamboyant Chinese billionaire known for his love of supercars and social media has claimed he is the victim of a political witch hunt after he threatened to lift the lid on “explosive information” about corruption at the top of Chinese politics. On Wednesday China’s foreign ministry confirmed that, at Beijing’s request, Interpol had issued a red notice for the arrest of Guo Wengui, a 50-year-old tycoon who had in recent months taken the highly unusual step of speaking out about alleged cases of corruption involving the relatives of senior leaders.

Lu Kang, a foreign ministry spokesperson, described Guo as a “suspect” but offered no further details.  But citing anonymous sources, the South China Morning Post, a Hong Kong-based newspaper to which Beijing often hands politically sensitive scoops, claimed the billionaire was wanted for allegedly paying a 60m yuan (£6.8m) bribe to former spy chief Ma Jian, one of the most powerful victims of President Xi Jinping’s high-profile war on corruption. 

Guo rejected those claims on Wednesday, in an interview with the Chinese language service of Voice of America, claiming he was being targeted as part of a cover-up attempt. The billionaire, who has aired his as yet unproven allegations on his Twitter account and in a succession of recent interviews, accused Beijing of trying to silence him with “terror” tactics.

“I’m greatly encouraged by the arrest notice. At least it will make people understand the true nature of my case,” he said. “If there was no such thing as corruption in China, the government wouldn’t become scared and frightened of me speaking the truth.” In a brief message to the Associated Press, Guo added: “It’s all lies, all threats. It shows they are scared of me leaking explosive information.”.. read more:


MHA report links Niyamgiri Suraksha Samiti of Dongria Kondh adivasis with ‘Maoists’

NB: This is the latest example of the surreptitious defiance of law by the Modi government. People should take note of it and resist by all peaceful means possible. Behind the language of 'development' this government is undermining the constitutional protections available to Indian citizens: DS

Dear friends 
In a very disturbing development, the following reference is made in the 2016-17 Annual Report of the Indian Union Ministry of Home Affairs to Niyamgiri Suraksha Samiti, an organisation of the the Dongria Kondh community who have valiantly resisted mining by Vedanta in the thickly forested and sacred Niyamgiri hills of Orissa: 

"2.8 The Maoists tried to strengthen coordination between its mass organizations and other like-minded organizations to undertake programmes against alleged state violence and for protection of democratic rights. In 2016, the issue of displacement of local communities remained the main plank of mobilization by the mass organisations. In Niyamgiri Hills area (Districts Rayagada and Kalahandi, Odisha), the outfit continued to guide the activities of the Niyamgiri Suraksha Samiti."

In protest, please find enclosed a letter addressed to the President of India, endorsed by a wide range of peoples movements, social and environmental justice groups and individuals, urging him to "direct the MHA to retract the statements made about the NSS in its report, to stop the intimidation of the adivasis and attempts to restart the mining, and to allow the Dongria Kondh and other communities of the Niyamgiri hills to live a dignified life of self-determination for their present and future."

In solidarity with the struggle of Niyamgiri Suraksha Samiti, we appeal to you to send this or a similar letter to the President of India. We reiterate our support for the struggle of the Dongria Kondh, and of the Niyamgiri Suraksha Samiti, in safeguarding their habitat, livelihoods, identity, and dignity.

*****************

To: 

Shri Pranab Mukherjee
The President of India
Rashtrapati Bhavan
New Delhi
19 April 2017

Sub: Concern regarding MHA report linking Niyamgiri Suraksha Samiti of Dongria Kondh adivasis with ‘Maoists’

Dear Shri Pranab Mukherjee,

We are writing to express our concern and anguish at the recently released Annual Report 2016-17 of the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), which has linked the Niyamgiri Suraksha Samiti (NSS) with ‘Maoist’ organizations. The report states that Maoists ‘guide’ the activities of the NSS.

The Niyamgiri Suraksha Samiti is a collective of the Dongria Kondh adivasi people and other local communities who have been organizing themselves for more than a decade against bauxite mining in Niyamgiri hills (Odisha), which is their only home. The continued targeting of the Dongria Kondh community (with a population of less than ten thousand people) in reports like these, and in continued state actions on the ground, raises serious doubts: is this being purposely done to break their continued resolve to oppose the mining of the Niyamgiri hills?

The resistance of the Dongria Kondh to the mining proposal is based on several grounds: Niyamgiri is their traditional and ancestral home, it is a sacred landscape, it is the source of their livelihood and culture, they have special rights guaranteed in the Constitution, and they have full rights to it under the Panchayat (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act and the Forest Rights Act, both laws passed by the Indian Parliament. In fact under the Forest Rights Act, the community has the right and is empowered to protect their habitat, and natural ecosystems in it, which is precisely what they are doing in resisting the mining. All this was recognized by the NC Saxena Committee set up by the Government of India in 2010, which strongly recommended against mining in the hills.1 Subsequently the Supreme Court too recognized these aspects.

However, since the Supreme Court ordered that the Dongria Kondh need to be consulted about mining in the region in April 2013, and the subsequent unanimous rejection by the Dongria Kondh gram sabhas of the mining proposal, we have observed with great perturbation the repeated attempts by the state government to reintroduce the proposal and to start mining in the region. Recently, the Odisha Mining Corporation filed a petition in the Supreme Court to reopen the mining. The Supreme Court refused to admit the petition.

Apart from these attempts, there has been constant intimidation and violence on the community by security forces. In the last 2-3 years, several Dongria Kondh youth and elders have been arrested, harassed, and killed, and one has committed suicide after repeated harassment and alleged torture by security forces. In none of these cases, have the forces been able to produce evidence linking them to so-called Maoists.

The Ministry of Home Affairs appears to have ignored the overwhelming response of the Dongria Kondh, when Maoist organisations told them to oppose or boycott the gram sabha meetings organised by the state at the behest of the Supreme Court order of April 2013. Hundreds of Dongria Kondh had flocked from village to village to take part in the meetings, openly defying this call.2

The Government should also pay heed to the wisdom of the Supreme Court expressed in the case of Nandini Sundar and Ors vs The State of Chhattisgarh (WRIT PETITION (CIVIL) NO. 250 OF 2007), also referred to as the Salwa Judum Judgement. In this it reiterated that the current social order which treats any person speaking for human rights and questioning the current paradigm of the State, as a ‘Maoist’ or a ‘Maoist’ sympathizer, has become a serious problem affecting our nation. It noted that any peaceful dissent or dissatisfaction which is a positive feature of democracy, is often not recognized by the authorities and is met with severe repression.

The MHA appears to be questioning the credibility of the Supreme Court’s orders and observations in the above matters; and additionally of the Indian Parliament by ignoring the Dongria Kondh’s rights under PESA and FRA.

Actions such as what the state is doing in the Niyamgiri hills, and language such as that used in the MHA report, only serve to undermine democracy. Apart from the suffering and injustice that the state’s repressive actions cause, they also push people who are peacefully exercising their freedom of speech to turn to violence, which helps no one.

We therefore urge you to use your responsibility of upholding the Constitution, and in particular the safeguards for adivasis contained in it, noting also that the Dongria Kondh are a Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Group with special safeguards. We urge you to direct the MHA to retract the statements made about the NSS in its report, to stop the intimidation of the adivasis and attempts to restart the mining, and to allow the Dongria Kondh and other communities of the Niyamgiri hills to live a dignified life of self-determination for their present and future.

We reiterate our support for the struggle of the Dongria Kondh, and of the Niyamgiri Suraksha Samiti, in safeguarding their habitat, livelihoods, identity, and dignity.

(Meenal Tatpati / Ashish Kothari, Kalpavriksh)

on behalf of the undersigned organisations and individuals

Copy to:
Prime Minister's Office
Ministry of Tribal Affairs
Ministry of Home Affairs
Governor of Odisha
CM of Odisha
Commissioner of STs

Endorsing organisations
 Samir Mehta, River Basin Friends, and International Rivers South Asia, Mumbai
Tultul Biswas, Madhya Pradesh Mahila Manch, Bhopal
Sudha Bharadwaj, General Secretary, Chhattisgarh People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL)
Binayak Sen and Kavita Srivastava, PUCL
Nitin Rai, Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment (ATREE), Bangalore
Ananya Mehta, Karnataka Alliance for Safe Food, and Buffalo Back Collective
Shripad Dharmadhikary, Manthan Adhyayan Kendra, Pune
Viren Lobo, Convenor, Community Control of Natural Resources and Indian Community
Activists Network
Sangram Mallik, Ambedkar Lohia Bichar Manch, Bhubaneswar
Seema Kulkarni, Mahila Kisan Adhikar Manch (MAKAAM) and Society for Promoting
Participatory Ecosystem Management (SOPPECOM), Pune
Joy K J, SOPPECOM, Pune
Soma KP and Rukmini Rao, MAKAAM
Teesta Setalvad, Citizens for Justice and Peace, Mumbai
Bittu Karthik, Women against Sexual Violence and State Repression
Prashant Paikray, Spokesperson, Posco Pratirodh Sangram Samiti (PPSS), Odisha
Aakar Patel, Amnesty International, India
Ananthoo, Safe Food Alliance, Tamil Nadu
Gopi Deva, Organic Farmers Market, Chennai
Balaji Sankar, Tharcharbu Iyakkam, Sirkali
Radhika Rammohan, reStore, Chennai
Pamayan, Thalanmai Uzhavar Iyakkam
Medha Patkar, Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) and National Alliance of People’s Movement (NAPM)
Suhas Kolhekar, Suniti SR, and Prasad Bagwe, NAPM Maharashtra
Meera Sanghamitra, NAPM Telangana and Andhra Pradesh
Sudhir Vombatkere, Senior Activist, NAPM, Karnataka
Gabriele Dietrich, Penn Urimay Iyakkam, Madurai, Tamil Nadu
Aruna Roy, Nikhil Dey, and Shankar Singh, Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan (MKSS) and
National Campaign for People’s Right to Information (NCPRI)
Anjali Bharadwaj, NCPRI
Prafulla Samantara, Lok Shakti Abhiyan, Odisha
Sandeep Pandey, Socialist Party, Uttar Pradesh
Geetha Ramakrishnan, Unorganised Sector Workers Federation, Tamil Nadu
Arul Doss, NAPM Tamil Nadu
Arundhati Dhuru, Nandlal Master, and Manesh Gupta, NAPM Uttar Pradesh
Richa Singh, Sangathit Kisan Mazdoor Sangathan, Uttar Pradesh
Vilayodi Venugopal, CR Neelakandan, and Prof. Kusumam, NAPM Kerala
Vimal Bhai, Matu Jan Sangathan, Uttarakhand
Jabar Singh, NAPM Uttarakhand
Sister Celia, Domestic Workers Union, Karnataka
Rukmini V.P., Garment Labour Union, Karnataka
Anand Mazgaonkar and Krishnakant, Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti, Gujarat
Kamayani Swami and Ashish Ranjan, Jan Jagran Shakti Sangathan, Bihar
Mahendra Yadav, Kosi Navnirman Manch, Bihar
Sister Dorothy, NAPM Bihar
Dayamani Barla, Aadivasi-Moolnivasi Astivtva Raksha Samiti, Jharkhand
Dr. Sunilam and Adv. Aradhna Bhargava, Kisan Sangharsh Samiti, Madhya Pradesh
Bhupender Singh Rawat, Jan Sangharsh Vahini, Delhi
Rajendra Ravi, Nanu Prasad, Madhuresh Kumar, Amit Kumar, Himnshi Singh, Uma Kapari, Zaved Mazumder, NAPM Delhi
Faisal Khan, Khudai Khidmatgar and J S Walia, NAPM Haryana
Kailash Meena, NAPM Rajasthan;
Samar Bagchi, Amitava Mitra, and Avik Saha, NAPM West Bengal
P. Chennaiah, Andhra Pradesh Vyavasaya Vruttidarulua Union (APVVU), Andhra Pradesh
Ramakrishnam Raju, United Forum for RTI, Andhra Pradesh
Gautam Bandopadhyay, NAPM, Chhattisgarh
Kaladas Dahariya, Relaa Collective, Chhattisgarh
Bilal Khan, Ghar Bachao Ghar Banao Andolan, Mumbai
K. Sajaja, Freelance journalist and documentary film maker, Caring Citizens Collective,
Hyderabad
Prabhat Kumar Sinha, Convenor, All India Mazdoor Kisan Sangharsh Samiti
Prahlad Singh Shekhawat, Director, Alternative Development and Research Centre, Jaipur
Rajesh Yedida, Jeevan Kumar, and Jayasree Kakumani, Human Rights Forum, Telangana and
Andhra Pradesh
Vissa Kiran Kumar and Ajay Kumar, Rythu Swarajya Vedika, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh
V. Rukmini Rao, Executive Director, Gramya Resource Centre for Women
Shivani Chaudhry, Housing and Land Rights Network, Delhi
Babloo Loitongbam, Human Rights Alert, Manipur
Leo Saldanha, Environment Support Group, Bangalore
P. Shankar, Dalit Bahujana Front, Telangana
Chakri, Samalochana
Adv. MA Shakeel, Centre for Study of Constitution and Society, Hyderabad, Telangana.
S.Q. Masood, Centre for Peace Studies, Hyderabad, Telangana.
V.A. Ramesh Nathan, General Secretary, National Dalit Movement For Justice-
NDMJ (NCDHR), New Delhi
Henri Tiphagne, People’s Watch, All India Network of Individuals and NGOs working with
National and State Human Rights Institutions (AiNNI), and Human Rights
Defenders’ Alert – India (HRDA)
Indira Jaisingh, Lawyers Collective
Meenal Tatpati and Ashish Kothari, Kalpavriksh
K. Ramnarayan, Himal Prakriti, Munsiari
Malika Virdi, Maati Sangathan, Munsiari
Priya Pillai, Mahan Sangarsh Samiti , Singrauli , Madhya Pradesh

Endorsing individuals

N P Chekkutty, Chief Editor, Thejas Daily, Calicut
Rajinder Chaudhary, Former Professor, Department of Economics, M.D. University, Rohtak, Haryana
Dr. G. Vijay, Assistant Professor School of Economics, Adjunct Faculty Centre for Human Rights and Secretary, Centre for Social Concerns, University of Hyderabad
S. Durga Bhavani, Associate Professor, School of Computer and Information Sciences University of Hyderabad
Sujit Sinha, Faculty, Azim Premji University, Bangalore
Manasi Karthik, SOAS, University of London
Sanjana Kumari, MPhil Research Scholar, Ambedkar University Delhi (AUD)
Chitra Ravi, Azim Premji University, Bangalore
Rakesh Ranjan, University of Delhi
Felix Padel, Anthropologist, Activist
Miloon Kothari, former United Nations Special Rapporteur for Housing Rights, Delhi
Rahul Maganti, Independent Journalist, Vijayawada
Gutta Rohit, Human Rights Activist
Vimala Morthala, Independent Writer, Activist, Hyderabad
Usha Seethalaksmi, Independent Researcher
Adv. Ravi, High Court of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh
Shobha, Theatre Artist and Human Rights Activist, Bangalore
Aruna Chandrasekhar, Researcher and Independent journalist
Kamayani Bali Mahabal, Feminist and Human Rights Activist, Mumbai
Divya Narain, Independent Researcher
Admiral L. Ramdas (Retd.), Former Chief of Naval Staff, Alibag , Maharashtra
Lalita Ramdas, Social Activist, Hyderabad, India
Tara Murali, Architect
Deba Ranjan, Filmmaker
Surya Dash, Filmmaker, Bhubaneshwar
Asad R. Rahmani, Conservationist, Mumbai
Mona Mishra, Social activist, Delhi
Ashim Choudhury, Communications Consultant
Usha Rai, Senior journalist, New Delhi
Achin Vanaik, Delhi
Aravinda Potluri, Hyderabad
Nikita Gandhi, Tiruvannamalai, Tamil Nadu
Anupama Potluri, Hyderabad
Harini Nagendra, Bangalore
K.S. Manjunath, Bangalore
Ravishankar B.T., Bangalore
Prasenjit Dasgupta, Ghaziabad (Delhi NCR)
Abhilash C.A, Chikkabalapur
Adnan Khan, Bangalore
Sunita Rao, Sirsi
Ratheesh Pisharody, Bangalore
Sharada Ganesh, Bangalore
Priti Rao, Bangalore
Ranu Garg, Bangalore
Arvind Kumar, Kanpur
Ajaya Kumar Singh, Bhubaneswar
Sandeep Kumar Pattnaik, Bhubaneshwar
E. Theophilus, Munsiari
Chhaya Datar
Samhita Barooah
Arundathi Vishwanath
Uma Shankari Narendranath
Swagato Sarkar



~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Environment Support Group
[Environmental, Social Justice and Governance Initiatives]
1572, Ring Road, Banashankari II Stage
Bangalore 560070. INDIA
Tel: +91-80-26713559-61 Fax: +91-80-26713316
Email: esg@esgindia.org Web: www.esgindia.org
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/esgindia/ 
Please check out your new online Donation payment gateway: 


The Second World War in Colour – in pictures

An extraordinary collection of rare colour images by official photographers, news agencies, freelancers and air crews, feature in a new book, The Second World War in Colour, by the Imperial War Museum . Many are being published for the first time and shed fresh light behind the scenes of the conflict

Women producing bullets and cannon shells
Women producing bullets and cannon shells in an underground munitions 
A 5.5-inch gun crew from 75th (Shropshire Yeomanry) Medium Regiment
A 5.5-inch gun crew from 75th (Shropshire Yeomanry) Royal Artillery, 
https://www.theguardian.com/world/gallery/2017/apr/19/the-second-world-war-in-colour-in-pictures


Monday, April 17, 2017

Modi Government Approaches S.C.for Permission to Kill Innocent Citizens with Impunity

It may appear incredible but is true. In 2016, the S.C. had decided to probe the killing of 1528 persons killed in alleged fake encounter in Manipur by the armed forces and the Manipur police .A bench headed by Madan B. Lokur had observed that 'democracy would be in a grave danger ' if armed forces were permitted to kill citizens on mere allegation or suspicion that they were enemies of the state.

Underlining that 'no absolute immunity 'would be given to the armed forces personnel if any death was found to be 'unjustified ', the court had held that 'use of excessive force or retaliatory force by the Manipur police or the armed forces of the union was not permissible and all such instances must be investigated .The court had rejected the contention of the government that a war-like situation existed in Manipur and an inquiry may 'demoralise the armed forces and may help the insurgents 

Now, the Union Government has approached the Supreme Court to recall the order on the ground that the judgement has 'hampered the Indian Army's ability to respond to the insurgents and terrorists situations.' The Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi has filed a curative petition and wants it to be heard urgently in the name of national security.

It is shocking that in a democracy with the claim of its being under the rule of law , the government is asking the apex court to recall its order with the aim of giving a free hand to the police and security forces to kill innocent citizens in the name of national security.There may be a situation in the areas under insurgency in which a few innocent citizens may get INADVERTENTLY killed, but for a government to approach the Supreme Court to abdicate its duty of protecting the life and personal liberty of citizens (under Art.32 ) is the ultimate in shamelessness  and  dispensing with the rule of law .

When Indira goverment claimed the right to kill, detain or torture a citizen  during the emergency, she, at least, had the excuse (though very lame) of arguing that the right to life and personal liberty under Art. 21 was suspended during the emergency, and consequently, courts could not come to protect rights which did not exist. 

The Modi government is asking the apex court to become an accomplice in killing innocent citizens in fake encounters by sanctioning it. The audacity of the Modi  government is far more dangerous than Indira Gandhi's call for a committed judiciary, as she fought the judiciary through constitutional amendments but did not invite it for an unholy co-habitation. The fascist fang of Modi is out, and it can be overlooked only if we are seized with a collective death wish .

Prabhakar Sinha ,
Member, PUCL 

Is the media ready for an open debate? (1992)

Is the media ready for an open debate?
by Dilip Simeon
The Pioneer;  April 6, 1992

NB: I wrote this article during the communal crisis of 1990-92. The media played as significant a role then as it does now. The passage of time, however, has seen technology become more sophisticated & the political will to silence criticism and manipulate public awareness more brutal - DS

Can we imagine a situation where cassette recorders, cameras and video-cameras turn up in factories, educational institutions, bureaucratic offices, police stations, editorial conferences, and other such places where social conflict is expressed on a daily basis? Why has it taken so many years for our legislators to open a small (and duly theatricised) segment of their deliberation to their voters? After all, they are not normally known for their shyness.

Could we ever hope for a really open debate in the newspapers, involving their owners, staffs and readership, about how ‘news’ is created? How about a televised debate with the owners and editors of the Hindi press is UP and MP on their coverage of the so-called ‘kar-sewa’? Would cameras be permitted in torture cells, to show us some of the means by which the “unity and integrity of the nation” is maintained? Or in the offices of ministers, when contracts are discussed? Why is it an inconceivable proposition that a newspaper be edited and distributed by its readership through a democratic co-operative? Or video-systems be put at the disposal of political groups?

We know the answers to these questions. The functional and technical structure of the media are in toto, reflexes of their social form. In this form, as organs of the monologue of mediatised, theatrified and sanitised images and information, it cannot ever permit the use and alteration of their technologies for real communication, for speech with response, and for a genuine discourse of social reality.  One consequence of the emergence of societies based upon mass production has been the birth of the ‘consciousness Industry’. Such societies carry two outstanding features: One demographic, the other political.

The first is the development of mass urban conglomerates, with their educational structure ‘disciplining’ the proletarian underclass to suit the needs of modern manufacture. The second includes the disestablishment of God as the legitimator of power (the end of Divine Right), and the arrival of the ideal of popular rule, ‘self-determination,’ and so on. The conflict over the definition of conflict over the definition of ‘people’ created the need for propaganda. At the same time, the very notion of popular rule has carried subversion potential, with the underprivileged often dreaming of the socialisation of democracy, the substantive realisation of liberty.

It is the tension between the promise and the reality of democracy, the potential liberation from drudgery that technology promises, and the actual life experience of drudgery, conflict and technologically produced disaster, that provides the space for the intervention of what we call the media. The media are no more a basically neutral form for the dissemination of ideas and culture than was MIC gas a basically neutral form of insecticide. They perform a specific function in the kind of mass society we have talked of, the function of monologuous communication, of speech without reply, of mass production of sentiments, symbols, and the manipulation of the human mind in a manner suitable to the needs of capitalism.

The media is the collective advertisement of this contradictory social reality, in a word, simultaneously, the instrument and the form of the industrialisation of the mind. The media carries with the aura of ‘truth’ – (how much truth did Pravda really purvey?). The myth about the printed word being the last word, and the assumption that seeing is believing, etc., are the axioms upon TV functioning. Depending upon how the subjects - producers of the images, words, messages and symbols - assess the level of intelligence of the objects – the sheep-like audiences who ‘consume’ these products and whose responses are either negligible or preordained—the media can even extend what film criticism calls the “suspension of disbelief” into ‘real life’. Thus as political beings, voters were expected to actually exercise a choice for say, NTR or Dipika, suspending their knowledge that these were not deities, but mere humans. So the media can create a situation of complicity among subject and audience where political decisions are sought to be based upon pure fabrication.

Just as the theatre of the electro-magnetic waves has stepped out of the idiot box to mingle with the idiots, so also has the ‘reality’ of politics receded into the realm of theatre. ‘Spectacle’ is the word Henri Lefebvre proposed, to fit the present form of mass consumption, where news, images, packaging, architecture, ambiences and glitter, star lives and ‘beautiful living’, all  come together in a festival, a permanent theatre, celebrating consumption.

It is the spectacle which makes it possible for a system based upon artificial scarcity to promise the pseudo-utopia of ‘plenty’, and for the daily life of drudgery to hope for the promise of ‘open spaces’ and ‘free time’.

What we get therefore, is not what we might want to know, but what is deemed fit for our knowledge and sentiment. Indeed, sentiment is interspersed with ‘fact’ at every step, even in the mode of the ‘headline’: thus, a survey of the opinions of less than 300 persons in some parts of Delhi becomes converted to a general truth about the ‘opinion of Delhi-ites’. It is not truth, thus, that the media manufactures, but the new ideological product known as ‘credibility’. This is the lasting contribution of the advertising industry. Not for nothing do power seekers hire advertisers who specialise in the art of seduction and repulsion.

One of the essential preconditions of the mind industry is the intellectual impact of the Enlightenment, that is, the advent of the notion of the ‘independent mind’. (Ironically, this is the precondition for the new hegemony). Democracy created the need for persuasion. And the emergence of a basic industrial infrastructure and electronics made it both possible and necessary to reach millions of minds. It is an interesting reflection that for those to whom it is directed, political and commercial propaganda are virtually free.

The mind industry’s main business is not to sell its product, it is to sell the existing order, to train consciousness, to domesticate and benumb, to co-opt opposition and imagination, to tame the ghost of real speech and of social (as opposed to formal) democracy. “Material exploitation must camouflage itself in order to survive, immaterial exploitation has become its necessary corollary” (Enzenzberger). The modern industrial system has now begun the expropriation of the brain, and, contrary to its claims, what is being abolished is not exploitation, but our awareness of exploitation.

But the mind industry has its own pitfalls for the system. The intellect must be developed before it can be exploited. Consciousness can be reproduced and manipulated by industrial means, but never produced except by creative minds whose very nature lies in innovation, the invention of alternatives. No administration can trust the media workers all the way, since they are potential troublemakers, and require handling, by means of blacklists, blackmail, over-exposure, stardom etc. As it proliferates consciousness, the media spawns its own contradictions.

But for the media workers who try to incorporate moments of genuine reciprocity in what is otherwise the monologue of the mighty and the dialogue of the deaf, there is more at stake in their effort than their own future.

see also
Jacques Camatte: The Wan­dering of Humanity
some other material
US-Russian surveillance wars