Thursday, 8 September 2016

Science versus Miracles: Planchette / Ouija Board

B. Premanand

Effect: Working of the planchette board.

Four persons, one among them is the spirit medium, touch the planchette (ouija board) lightly on four sides and concentrate on the spirit to come and give an answer to the question. Suddenly the planchette starts moving and it gives an answer.

Planchette / Ouja Board

Props: Planchette

Method: While concentrating, the medium assists the volunteers to concentrate and the more intensely the thought-process is directed towards a specific idea or physical part, the involuntary muscular movements make the planchette move and give you the answer to your problem.

Explanation: Whatever action we perform is controlled by the brain. If we have any thought or idea in the subconscious mind, when we concentrate on the same, it manifests as a physical activity without any conscious attempt by the person. This is called idiomotor response. The minute electrical charges in the brain transmit to the muscles through the nerves.

The persons who create motivating force through idiomotor response do not have any idea that they are the cause. It is these involuntary muscle movements, which cause the water divining stick to revolve and the planchette to work.

Annihilation of Caste - Revolution and Counter Revolution

Ram Puniyani

Dalit activist and the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) member of parliament in the Lok Sabha, Udit Raj, in his recent article in the Indian Express titled"‘Where is The Indian Lincoln" highlights some pertinent questions and brings forth the issue of the caste related atrocities. But he goes on to hide things which are more crucial to the process of caste annihilation.

He is on the dot when he says that atrocities against Dalits are due to a mindset which regards them inferior. While this explains how such acts have been taking place earlier as well as now, he undermines the fact that this mindset is due to a political ideology which upholds the caste system in a subtle way.

What he hides is the fact that such atrocities have gone up during past two years. What he does not state is that the Jhajjar violence in Haryana was legitimised by late Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) leader Acharya Giriraj Kishore, who belonged to Udit Raj’s political family called Sangh Parivar. 

It is true that many countries in Europe could do away with birth based hierarchy of class and gender due to industrial revolution ushering in a journey towards substantive democracy. 

India could not achieve such a desirable goal due to the objective restraints imposed by the colonial rule. The industrial revolutions of the West did away with the feudal classes along with their feudal mindset which was justifying the birth-based hierarchies.

In India due to the colonial rule, we have seen the birth of modern institutions along with the foundation of modern society. The foundation and the growth of Indian nationalism did aspire for the formal equality of all irrespective of caste, religion and gender.

Colonial masters in India were least interested in doing away with feudal powers. ‘Feudal-Clergy’ nexus persisted and gave rise to nationalism in the name of religion. Both Muslim nationalism and Hindu nationalism thrived.

The pace of change in colonies is not comparable to the other places where the industrial class along with workers and women combine overthrows the social and political alliance of the feudal-clergy combine.

So in colonies the process of secularization remains arrested and in post colonial societies the feudal mindset persists with the patronage of the certain sections of society.

In these societies the meaning of the word revolution has to be restricted to social transformation. The day to day efforts for social transformation are the revolutionary steps in that sense. India had its own trajectory.

Starting with Jotirao Phule, the Dalits started a slow and long journey towards equality. The journey for women’s equality begins with Savitribai Phule. These streams are totally opposed by the conservative religious elements. These conservatives later crystallize themselves as Muslim League on one side and Hindu Mahasabha-RSS on the other.

The march of Indian nationalism accommodates Ambedkar in some form. While he struggles for social democracy through means of temple entry (Kalaram Mandir), access to public spaces (Chavdar Talao), he goes on to support the burning of Manusmriti and states his resolve for the social equality. We can’t be mechanistic in understanding revolution in diverse societies.

These steps like those of Jotirao, Saviritibai and Ambedkar, Periyar are revolutionary. These are hesitantly supported by Indian nationalism and totally opposed by Hindu nationalism.

Gandhi, a symbol of Indian nationalism, did his best to oppose untouchability, while his stand on reserved constituency can be questioned. Nehru, the architect of modern India, later oversees Ambedkar formulate a Constitution which not only gives formal equality to all but also affirmative reservations to the Dalits.

Nehru’s attempt to bring in reforms like the Hindu Code bill are sabotaged by conservatives within his party and conservatives and Hindu nationalists outside his party.

The persistence of subordination of Dalits is mainly due to the persistence of mindset of Hindu nationalism, which even had opposed the Indian Constitution when it was being formed. 

The Hindu nationalists have been strong opponents of reservations all through; this is what led to anti Dalit riots in Ahmedabad in 1981 and the anti OBC violence again in Ahmedabad in 1986.

The Hindu nationalist BJP intensified its Ram Temple movement in the wake of Mandal Commission implementation.

Udit Raj is right that those perpetrating crimes have not been punished, but that again is due to the prevalent mindset, which has its roots in Hindutva ideology, which spills beyond the parties and organisations working for a Hindu Rashtra (nation) directly.

While longing for revolution is good, ignoring the revolutionary changes at slow speed is disastrous and the likes of Udit Raj sitting in the lap of the BJP, which has been the vehicle of counter revolution as far as social changes are concerned, is a big setback to the process of social change. 

Since BJP is the political arm of RSS, which aspires for a Hindu nation, Hindutva via Hindu nationalism, Udit Raj is contributing precisely to the processes which are hampering the transition of caste equations towards those of equality.

If he wakes up to realise as to how mindsets are formed, he will realise that among other things his party has been transforming national institutions towards the values which will promote an anti-Dalit mindset.

Just one example from many such incidents is the one where the BJP has appointed one Sudarshan Rao as head of Indian Council of Historical Research (ICHR). Rao argues that the caste system had no problems and nobody had complaints against that. 

RSS, BJP’s ideological patron, goes on to say that all castes were equal and problems came in due to the invasion of Muslim kings!

All this is putting the wool in the eyes of society to perpetuate the ideology which is inherently castiest and leads to the strengthening of mindset which looks down upon Dalits. 

So a Rohith Vemula or a Una violence happens.

If Indian Nationalist movement was a mini revolution, the present politics being unfolded by Hindu nationalism is a counter revolution, duly supported by the likes of Udit Raj. 

And lastly, if one concedes that there has been no Lincoln in India, one can also look forward to the post Rohith Vemula-Una upsurge of youth, Dalits and non-Dalits, which is going in the direction of caste annihilation!

Fascism and the BJP

Subhendu Sarkar

It becomes obligatory, at times, to cite an old cliché. The present socio-political scenario in India compels one to remember that history repeats itself and in doing so serves the role of a teacher― it throws a welcome light on the contemporary events and helps negotiate and overcome an otherwise baffling crisis. Indeed, quite a few recent events in India do appear in an altogether new perspective when seen in the context of one of the darkest episodes of modern world history― Hitler’s rule in Germany. It is true, of course, that the BJP-led central government has to work within the framework of a democratic set-up and, therefore, the conditions in India and Nazi Germany cannot be identical. But there are certainly signs that are strikingly similar.

Nazism (or for that matter, fascism) resorted to a dual mechanism to consolidate itself. The repressive regime propagated lies and exerted brute force by an invidious exploitation of the state machinery, besides letting loose its rank-and-file cadres (under various organizations like SA, SS, etc.) on its political opponents. To make things clear and simple, I shall limit myself to refer to only one event that bears obvious resemblance to the present picture― the Reichstagfire (27 February 1933) and its direful consequences. The attack on the parliament building in Berlin was regarded by the Nazis as an act of incendiarism and communists were held responsible for plotting to revolt against the German government. This event was used as a pretext to strengthen Hitler’s power before the elections in March. He passed an emergency decree to suspend civil liberties (which were never reinstated during Nazi reign) and ordered mass arrests of communists, social democrats and other progressives. Nazi newspapers helped his cause by propagating the ‘news’ of insurrection and moulded public opinion which eventually isolated the communists from the masses. Five communists (including Georgi Dimitrov, a member of the Bulgarian Communist Party and head of all Comintern operations in western Europe) were arrested in connection with the Reichstag fire and were tried in the Supreme Court at Leipzig. At the end of the trial, however, only one (Marinus van der Lubbe, a half-wit and formerly a Dutch communist) was found guilty and beheaded by guillotine. The 2 rest were acquitted and sent to the then USSR (after a sustained effort of the anti-fascist forces of the world) where they were greeted as Soviet citizens with immense enthusiasm.

The communists had always believed that van der Lubbe was a part of the Nazi conspiracy ― a poor Faustus who stood before the court but the Mephistophilis behind him had disappeared. The proceedings of the trial can be regarded as a battleground of ideologies where Dimitrov had to defend himself (the Court rejected all the eight defence counsels of his choice) at all odds in a trial which was far from being fair. Dimitrov, in spite of being kept manacled in a prison known for torture, took the opportunity to expose the witnesses (including Goering and Goebbels) and the prosecutor and gave an impassioned call for a united front of all progressive forces against fascism.

However, since 1967 onwards the 1933 verdict has been overturned by several courts in Germany and van der Lubbe has been posthumously acquitted by the reason of insanity and under the general law passed in 1998 which states that whoever convicted under the Nazis is officially not guilty because the laws of Nazi Germany flouted the basic concept of justice. But all said and done the Nazis were successful at least for the moment― they had staged a drama and managed to justify their action to come down heavily on the political opponents by effective propaganda. It was an orchestrated effort to silence the voice of dissent in which agencies, both public and private took equal and active part.

Keeping in mind the Leipzig trial let us now turn, one after another, to three recent incidents that attracted much attention here in India.

Dadri Lynching

Mohammad Akhlaq
On 28 September 2015 two young men, using the local temple's public announcement system in Dadri, a small town in Uttar Pradesh, announced that the family of Mohammad Akhlaq had killed a cow and consumed beef on the occasion of Eid. This was the immediate cause why a violent Hindu mob broke into Akhlaq’s house in the middle of that night, dragged all the members of that family (including women, young and old) out into the open and assaulted 3 them. The police arrived an hour after Akhlaq had died on the spot and Danish, his son, critically injured. The family had been living in Dadri for almost seventy years but the neighbours did not even think twice before launching a brutal attack. The amicable feeling towards a neighbor was relegated to the background as the ugly head of communal hatred raised its head. The event aroused national attention and caused enormous debate. Soon it gained political overtones too when a man, the son of a local BJP leader, was arrested in connection to the case. Not only that, it was also confirmed later by the forensic experts that the meat found in the refrigerator in Akhlaq’s house was not beef but mutton. Dadri incident came to be seen as one of the many recent examples of the BJP-backed heinous design to use rumour to gain political advantage by dividing the nation along communal lines. It is part of their agenda that the Muslims (and other religious minority communities) will have to accept the diktat of the Hindutva brigade to stay in India. This goes against one of the cardinal points of the Indian ConsCtuCon ― secularism.

Rohith Vemula’s Suicide

Rohith Vemula, a Ph.D student at the central University of Hyderabad and a member of the Ambedkar Students Association (ASA), had to bear the brunt for participating in a demonstration against the death penalty for Yakub Memon (a convict in 1993 Bombay bombings) on 3 August 2015 at the campus. Following the complaint made by the students’ wing of the RSS, ABVP, to the Vice Chancellor, P. Appa Rao, that the students of the ASA were involved in “casteist” and “anti-national” activities, Rohith and four others were suspended and barred from their hostel. As a consequence of severe financial crisis Rohith (as his scholarship was also cancelled) committed suicide on 17 January 2016. The ABVP leader, Nandanam Susheel Kumar, who had taken an active role against ASA and who claimed that he was admitted to a hospital after he was roughed up by around 40 ASA members was later found to have been operated for an acute appendicitis. Besides, the role of the BJP MP from Secunderabad and the Union Minister Bandaru Dattatreya and the Union HRD Minister Smriti Irani behind the suspension of the students also came to light.

Rohit Vemula
26-year-old Rohith’s suicide sparked protests and outrage across India and gained widespread media attention as yet another case of discrimination against Dalits and low castes in India in the BJP regime. It was apprehended that the BJP was not only against the Muslims (and Christians) but also against the Dalits who fall under the general category of the Hindu community. But why is it so? One must understand that the right-wing political philosophy of the RSS-BJP strongly resembles Brahminism which gained and held supremacy only by oppressing the so-called lower castes of the Hindu population in a feudal set-up. In fact, intercaste tensions within the Hindu society were often the results of an unconscious class conflict that went on for ages. Therefore, the attempt to present a homogenized Hindu society is to ignore the dynamics of a society ruled by a powerful few. It was against such an unjust system that Bhimrao Ambedkar (and other activists both before and after him) had waged a life-long struggle. Ambedkar thought that the Hindu society was a conglomeration of castes without any binding ideological force. No wonder then that the RSS and the BJP would run an orchestrated campaign based on lies against the Ambedkarites like Rohith.

Kanhaiya and the JNU Raucous

Kanhaiya Kumar, the 29-year old President of the Jawaharlal Nehru University Students' Union and a leader of the All India Students Federation (AISF), the student wing of the Communist Party of India (CPI), was arrested on the charge of sedition by the Delhi police on 12 February for raising anti-India slogans in a rally to protest the hanging of Mohammed Afzal Guru convicted for the Indian Parliament attack in 2001. The arrest was made following the complaints lodged by the National Secretary of the BJP and an MP, Maheish Girri and members of the ABVP. A nationwide hysteria was created when the BJP started branding a section of the JNU (that included both teachers and students) apologists for the independence of Kashmir (hence anti-Indians). Audio-visual clippings of the event were also played on television channels as clinching evidence for Kanhaiya and others’ anti-national ideologies. Emotions ran high as the nation was caught in a debate between the ‘nationalists’ and their opponents (who were singled out either as Muslims or communists). Demands for closing down the JNU were also raised citing it as a hotbed of sedition run on the taxpayers’ money. Kanhaiya was even beaten 5 up by some lawyers (read the BJP cadres) inside the courtroom where he was brought for trial. On 2 March 2016, however, he was granted interim bail for 6 months by the Delhi High Court on a 10,000 rupee bail bond and an undertaking that he would not "participate in any antinational activity” (though the judge had said that there were no recordings of Kumar raising anti-national slogans). Interestingly, out of the seven videos of the event sent to forensic laboratory, three crucial ones were found to be doctored including a clipping of a news channel.

This incident, in fact, has brought into focus many issues at the same time: chauvinism, suppression of dissenting voices, organized propaganda (where a section of the media joined hands with the ruling party) based on false and/or doctored reports, etc. Best efforts to commence an academic debate surrounding the topics of either nationalism in its totality or Kashmir issue and the hodgepodge trial of Afzal Guru got drowned in a momentary frenzy of blind nationalism. Of course, the BJP was behind all this. It wanted only to broaden its political base by staging this drama. And many apparently innocent Indians could not keep their cool and judge things properly.

Govind Pansare, Narendra Dabholkar, MM Kalburgi

These three incidents manifest an important characteristic of the RSS-BJP: their attitude towards the religious minorities, the Dalits and the Leftists. Add to this their treatment of the rationalists like Govind Pansare, Malleshappa Kalburgi and Narendra Dhabholkar or doctors like Saibal Jana. Depending on the state machinery and a fanatical band of cadres the Sangh brigade has launched a war on those who resist their right-wing campaign. What is equally important is their simultaneous attempt to use rumour and propaganda to mould public opinion in their favour. But it does not become a matter of discomfiture for them when a particular venture receives a jolt on account of its falsity. In fact, they will continue to make the most of the situation in order to broaden their political base among the middle-class population. And it will not be much difficult particularly when the mood of desperation is acute among the so-called educated Indians and the opposition (both ideological and political) is somewhat disarrayed.

What needs to be reiterated at the end is that this undemocratic contingent has a conscious plan to turn India into a monolithic structure decimating the diverse elements that make it so unique in the whole world. There are plenty of signs that suggest Nazi Germany or Fascist Italy or Spain may not always remain matters of distant past. And it will indeed be a living reality soon unless we stand guard and fight a relentless baOle raising the determined slogan ― “Fascism shall not pass”.

This article that was first published in Frontier [14 May, 2016, Vol 48, No. 44]

Kandhamal: Long Wait for Justice

Ram Puniyani

Today, nearly a decade later when we are remember with pain the horrific violence of Kandhmal in 2008, many issues related to the state of affairs of communal violence, state of minorities, the state of justice delivery system come to one’s mind. 

The incident 

Just to recall, Orissa witnessed unprecedented violence against the Christian minority in August 2008. On August 23, 2008, Swami Laxmananand along with his four followers was killed, probably by a group of Maoists. Immediately, anti-Christian violence began on a big scale. The way it began it seemed as if preparations for it were well afoot. It was systematic and widespread. It sounded as if preparation was already there just the pretext was being awaited.[i]

Christians in India 

Christians are a tiny minority in India. Contrary to the perception that British brought Christianity to India, it is one of the oldest religions of India. Its spread has been slow. Not much was heard against this minority till the decade of 1990s, when suddenly it started being asserted that Christian missionaries are converting. Anti-Christian violence has been occurring more in the remote-interior places and is accompanied by another phenomenon, that of Ghar Vapasi (return home), which is the conversions of Adivasis into the fold of Hinduism, by Vishwa Hindu Parishad-Vanavasi Kalyan Ashram.[ii] 

It is from 1996, that this phenomenon of conversion-anti Christian violence has captured the attention of all of us. Suddenly, as if from nowhere has descended the ‘threat of conversion to Christianity’ by force or fraud. Simultaneously, attacks on priests and nuns increased in distant interior places. It has been a peculiar phenomenon that while these attacks in remote places were being undertaken, the Christian institutions in cities – schools, colleges and hospitals – were hard pressed to cope with the demands on their services related to education and health. The selective targeting of Christian missionaries in distant places was a matter of serious attention, concern and introspection. 

Social Common Sense 

As the ‘social common sense’ started accepting, ‘yes, they are converting’, ‘they have been converting’, a sort of silent approval of layers of society and state officials did accompany these attacks on the missionaries. One was used to hearing about attacks on Muslim minorities so far. How come a new minority came to be perceived as the ‘source of trouble’ and hence started being targeted?[iii]

Anti Christian violence did begin with isolated incidents like the attack on the Catholic Health Centre of India near Latur (1996), burning of Bibles and attacks on the Christian congregations. But most shocking was the burning alive of Pastor Graham Steward Stains (1999, January) along with his two sons, Philip and Timothy, aged 9 and 7 years, who were sleeping in a jeep after a village festival. Gradually the pattern of these attacks started emerging. In the remote places where Vanvasi Kalyan Ashrams (Society for Welfare of Forest Dwellers), an outfit of RSS, have been active and doing the propaganda work along with starting of Ekal schools and have been Hinduising Adivasis, the incidents were more pronounced and intense. 

Anti Christian Violence: Characteristics 

The violence against Christian missionaries has by now become a matter of routine. Unlike the anti Muslim pogroms-violence, it has been scattered and generally low key, occurring at sporadic intervals. Barring few dastardly acts like Pastor Stains’ burning and Rani Maria’s being hacked to death the incidents were medium in intensity and did not take the shape of carnage or pogrom against the community till the one in Orissa (December 2007 and later August 2008). The occurrence of these incidents was mostly in places that are having rampant poverty and illiteracy. The apathy in highlighting these core issues, deprivations, by a section of media was appalling. At the same time, by word of mouth the propaganda against Christian Missionaries was intensified. 

The message has been spread that Christian missionaries working in remote places are soft targets and one can get away without much reprisals. Also the anti-Christian mobilization of Adivasi youth through cultural manipulation was the groundwork on which the anti-Christian violence could sustain. In the atmosphere created by the activities of RSS progeny, local communal groups have felt emboldened to pick up any small issue and to make a violent incident out of it. Its’ frightening effect on the victims is tremendous. It also begins to polarize the local communities into Christian and non-Christian camps amongst whom the seeds of tension are sown. 

Cultural:  Agenda 

The physical violence has been accompanied by cultural manipulation in these areas. The silent work to Hinduise Adivasis through religio-cultural mechanisms has been stepped up from last three decades. People like Swami Aseemanand (Dangs), Swami Laxmanand (Kandhmal, Orissa), followers of Asaram Bapu (Jhabua, MP) began their work in popularizing Hindu gods and Goddesses in the region. The choice of Gods/Goddesses from the vast pantheon of Hindu religion was a clever one. Here Shabri (Symbol of poverty and deprivation) was the main goddess, the idol for Adivasis. Temples in her names were started and regular Kumbhs (mass religious congregation of Hindus) were organized in her name. Kumbhs have been a tradition in Hinduism on fixed interval of time on the banks of Holy rivers; Ganges in particular. Modifying that tradition, these Kumbhs were organized in Adivasis areas. Here the work of conversion to Hinduism, the spread of ‘Hate against’ foreigners’, particularly Christians, was spread. In addition an atmosphere of terror was created against those who do not toe the line of Vanavasi Kalyan Ashram.[iv] 

A Christian girl who was burned during religious violence in Odisha in 2008 [Courtesy: Wikipedia]

Similarly the God Hanuman, the foremost devotee of Lord Ram was also made popular, by spreading his lockets and through different stories around him, in the Ekal Schools and Sarswati Shishu Mandirs. It created an atmosphere of divide in the Adivasi areas; Adivasis turned Hindus, the Hindu dalits and upper caste versus the Christians. It is this atmosphere of divisiveness, which has been at the root of the violence in these areas. 

Political Agenda

This has been a part of the different activities undertaken by RSS combine to promote the agenda of Hindu nation. While RSS has floated many a organizations to communalize different sections of society, BJP, VHP, Bajrang Dal, etc. it has also unleashed a set of cultural activities, set of educational institutions along with infiltration in media, bureaucracy, police and military. They are gradually imposing the idea of Hindu nation and accompanying culture and ideas. The culmination of this has been the violence against minorities, polarization of communities along religious lines and ghettoization of minorities. While all this is going on the violence against minorities’ is the most visible part of this phenomenon. 

The role of state agencies has been no different in these incidents than what it has been in the anti Muslim violence. In most cases, the administration has looked the other way when communal goons were on the rampage. The administration most often provided enough leeway for them to wreck havoc, indulge in intimidation, violence and to get away with that. The Adivasi areas, which were so far peaceful, started witnessing communal tensions. The area of violence in Adivasi regions is synonymous with the map of spread of Vanvasi Kalyan Ashrams and Vishwa Hindu Parishads in an indirect way. 

RSS had been floating different organizations for different sections of society; Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram, to Hinduise Adivasis was founded in 1952 and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad founded in 1964 was to play an important role in the anti Christian tirade in times to come. Another RSS progeny which, directly supported violence against Christians, Bajrang Dal, was founded by RSS in 1984. After the intimidation and browbeating of Muslim minorities, especially after the post Babri demolition Mumbai riots, they stepped up their social dominance and needed another community to target their trishuls for further expansion of their social and electoral base, and that was done by the bogey of forced conversions and accompanying anti Christian violence, which started coming to the fore from 1996 onwards. The targeting of minorities has played an important role in polarizing the communities, in consolidation of the majoritarian politics in various ways.[v]

The burning of Pastor Stains, in that sense was a turning point for Human rights groups, who so far were trying to grapple and respond to the anti Muslim violence. With this many concerned groups took up the investigations of the violence against Christians in the right earnest. As such, the first major cover up had to be undertaken by the BJP led NDA Government itself, in the aftermath of Stains murder. Initially, as a fire fighting measure, the functionaries of the NDA government tried to give a clean chit to the RSS combine. After the murder, the then home minister Lal Krishna Advani stated that he knows Bajrang Dal very well and this act could not have been done by that organization. To put a veil on the episode, the three cabinet ministers, George Fernandez, Murli Manohar Joshi and Navin Patnaik rushed to the site and proclaimed that the murder of Pastor is an international conspiracy to destabilize the BJP Government. This way they tried to bypass the real issue, i.e. involvement of Dara Singh, an activist of Bajrang Dal.[vi] 

Struggle for Justice: People’s Tribunals  

The case of Orissa was specifically investigated by India Peoples Tribunal, led by Justice K.K.Usha (retired) of Kerala High court in 2006.[vii]  This tribunal forewarns about the shape of things to come.  This tribunal assessed the spread of communal organizations in Orissa, which has been accompanied by a series of small and large events and some riots…such violations are utilized to generate the threat and reality of greater violence, and build and infrastructure of fear and intimidation. It further noted that minorities are being grossly ill treated; there is gross inaction of the state Government to take action. The report also describes in considerable detail how the cadre of majoritarian communal organizations are indoctrinated in hatred and violence against other communities it holds to be inherently inferior. If such communalization is undertaken in Orissa, it is indicative of the future of the nation… the signs are truly ominous for India's democratic future. 

It is in this backdrop that when the Kandhamal carnage took place, the offense of RSS affiliates, the lapses and partisan behaviour of state machinery, the lack of rehabilitation and deliverance of justice came as a big jolt to the victims and became the matter of concern for human rights groups. The lack of proper investigation and other actions on the part of state were the key for getting justice for the victims. While many a sincere, scattered efforts to help the afflicted were undertaken by different groups. These efforts were effective but inadequate in their reach. The tribunal organized for Orissa violence under Justice A. P.Shah (Retd) brought out the truth of the carnage. The hope was that the victims will be suitably rehabiliatated and get justice.[viii]  

This tribunal observed, (excerpts)

“The appalling feature of the Kandhamal violence, where rescue and relief work by non-profit, charitable and humanitarian organizations was prohibited through a government notification, indicates the impunity with which the state government acted, and its scant respect for rule of law and human rights of the victim-survivors of the violence.”...
“The dismal conditions in the government-run relief camps  are clearly indicative of the indifference of the state government to the plight of victim-survivors.”...”The testimonies of victim-survivors as well as the reports presented to the Tribunal indicate that victim-survivors were forcibly sent back to their villages, or abandoned near their villages, with total disregard to their safety.”...“Peace-building Initiatives: The fact that many victim-survivors are unable to return to their villages due to threats and intimidation by perpetrators, and many of those who have returned continue to live in constant fear and security, lead us to conclude that the state government’s peace initiatives have been a dismal failure and nothing more than an eyewash.”

It also made lot of recommendations about relief, rehaibilation, compensation and justice. This excerpt is very telling “Implementation of State’s Duty Towards Peace-building, Voluntary Return and Reintegration:  The State should recognize the Internally Displaced Persons’ right to return to their homes and create all possible enabling conditions to facilitate such safe return in accordance with the above standards. The state ought to discharge its duty of creating a conducive, safe and peaceful environment that can sustain return or re-integration of victim-survivors through access to public services, legal and personal documentation, and to livelihoods and income-generating opportunities without any form of discrimination.”

As usual the recommendations of the tribunal remain in the limbo. The heartening feature of struggle for justice in Kandhamal is the dogged determination of the victims and human rights activists to get the justice. This is also the time to understand that justice is a long term goal also which requires a programmatic alliance between the struggling sections of society, be it dalits, Adivasis, women, workers or struggling sections of society. In the light of growing intolerance in society, in the light of the growing stifling of the democracy society the need to build social alliances to preserve democracy and human rights is all the more crucial at this juncture.

Friday, 2 September 2016

Science versus Miracles: Water Divining with a Y-shaped Twig

B. Premanand

When the water-diviner feels the currents psychically, the Y-shaped twig starts moving. The persons who create motivating force through idiomotor response do not have any idea that they are the cause. It is these involuntary muscle movements, which cause the water divining stick to revolve and the planchet to work.

Effect: Water divining by a Y-shaped branch of a tree.

Props: Y-shaped branch of a tree.

Method: With little unconscious pressure on the two branches of the Y shaped twig, which is held in two hands, it revolves by itself. The diviner first knows about the underground water spring by looking at the big trees and ant hills and in the guise of psychic power gives a little pressure on the two branches of the Y stick which makes it turn in his hand.


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