Indian Supreme Court imposes sweeping ban on public debate on toxic warship

By Sarath Kumara, 18 February 2006

Last Monday, India’s Supreme Court issued a sweeping ban on public debate and protests over plans to decommission the Clemenceau, a French aircraft carrier, at a demolition yard in Alang, in the west Indian state of Gujarat. Although French President Jacques Chirac, in response to a critical French court ruling, has now ordered the Clemenceau to return to France, the Indian court ban sets an ominous precedent.

Indian government launches rural employment guarantee

Band-aid for a social calamity

By Parwini Zora and Kranti Kumara, 14 February 2006

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress Party President Sonia Gandhi inaugurated the much-touted National Rural Employment Guarantee Program (NREGP) at a ceremony in an impoverished Andhra Pradesh village February 2.

South Indian villagers speak about rural crisis, job guarantee

By our reporting team, 14 February 2006

WSWS reporters travelled to Arasampattu in the Thiruvannamalai district, Tamil Nadu, on February 6 and spoke with small peasants and landless agricultural workers. The village falls within the 200 most impoverished districts of India where the new National Rural Employment Guarantee (NREG) program is to come into effect over the next 6 months. Under the NREG scheme, the government has promised to provide one member of every rural household 100 days of manual work per year and has indicated scheme recipients will be paid at least Rs.60 ($1.33) per day. (See: Indian government launches rural employment guarantee: A band-aid for a social calamity)

India’s role in US-led gang-up against Iran inflames debate over Indo-US ties

By Vilani Peiris and Keith Jones, 10 February 2006

The Indian government’s decision, made under heavy pressure from the United States, to vote at last weekend’s International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) meeting to report Iran to the UN Security Council has further inflamed the debate within India’s political, military, and corporate elite over the extent to which India should bind its future to the US.

Child malnutrition in the Indian state of Maharashtra

By Karen Holland, 9 February 2006

Two studies on child deaths in one of India’s most economically-developed states, Maharashtra, vividly expose the social reality faced by millions across the country as a result of decades of neglect and deceit by both Bharathiya Janatha Party (BJP) and Congress-led governments at state and national levels.

Indian union leaders cave in over airport privatisation

By Nanda Wickremasinghe and Peter Symonds, 8 February 2006

Indian trade union leaders last Saturday shut down a four-day strike by thousands of airport workers against the privatisation of the country’s two major airports in New Delhi and Mumbai (Bombay). The walkout had erupted on January 31 after the Indian government agreed to grant long-term leases to two private consortia—GMR-Fraport and GV-ASCA—that will come into effect on March 31.

With cabinet changes, India’s UPA government tilts still closer to Washington

By Kranti Kumara and Keith Jones, 3 February 2006

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh announced a major shuffle of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) cabinet January 29.

Indian airport workers strike against privatisation

By Nanda Wickremasinghe and Peter Symonds, 3 February 2006

A national strike by Indian airport workers against the privatisation of the New Delhi and Mumbai (Bombay) airports is entering its third day, despite government efforts to intimidate and suppress their protests.

Indian PM threatened to resign to ensure success of Indo-US military exercise

By Kranti Kumara and Keith Jones, 1 February 2006

According to recent press reports, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh made a series of extraordinary threats to secure a guarantee from the Left Front government of West Bengal that a joint Indo-US military exercise would proceed unimpeded. The threats included Singh resigning as head of the United Progressive Alliance coalition government and the placing of West Bengal under “presidential” or central government rule.

Homeless suffer in Indian cold wave

By Deepal Jayasekera, 25 January 2006

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India: victims of Gujarat pogrom found in mass grave

By Jake Skeers, 24 January 2006

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India: twelve protestors killed in police shooting

By Parwini Zora, 17 January 2006

Twelve tribal villagers in India were shot dead by police on January 2 during a demonstration against the development of the Kalinga Nagar steel complex in the eastern state of Orissa. The impoverished protestors were demanding a halt to construction by steel developers on their traditional land. A 13-year-old boy and three women were among those killed.

India’s tsunami victims abandoned

By T. Kala and Ram Kumar, 30 December 2005

One year after the tsunami devastated southern Asia, millions of people in the southern and eastern coastal areas of India are yet to return to their normal lives. Contrary to the big promises made by the national and Tamil Nadu state governments, relief and rehabilitation measures largely remain in the distant future.

India’s foreign policy struggle intensifies

Natwar Singh forced from cabinet

By Arun Kumar, 24 December 2005

The removal of Natwar Singh from the Congress [party] Steering Committee and the Union cabinet is further evidence of the fierce struggle within India’s political and economic elite over the country’s foreign policy. At the center of this struggle is the extent of India’s military and geopolitical ties with the United States, a country which during the Cold War was firmly aligned with India’s traditional arch-rival, Pakistan, and repeatedly tried to bully New Delhi into serving its interests.

India: Dozens killed in second stampede at Chennai flood relief centre

By Arun Kumar, 22 December 2005

In the early hours of Sunday morning, 42 people were killed, including 23 women, and 37 injured in a stampede at an emergency flood-relief distribution centre in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu. The tragedy took place as flood victims queued to receive food aid at the Arignar Anna Model Higher Secondary Corporation School in MGR Nagar, in Central Chennai. The stampede was the second at an aid centre in Tamil Nadu since floods devastated areas of the state in October. On November 6, six women were trampled to death and 20 others injured in Vyasarpadi, north Madras.

India: floods kill hundreds in Tamil Nadu

By T. Kala and Ram Kumar, 6 December 2005

At least 279 people have been killed, and an estimated 200,000 made homeless, in severe floods in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu. The flooding was caused by torrential rain over four weeks in October and early November, and was compounded by more monsoonal storms which hit the region between November 21 and 24. The authorities’ lack of precautionary flood prevention measures and grossly inadequate emergency relief measures exacerbated the plight of ordinary people affected by the natural disaster.

India in quandary over US-Iran conflict

By Vilani Peiris and Keith Jones, 30 November 2005

India’s United Progressive Alliance government made it known early last week that, when the board of governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) met in Vienna November 24, it would oppose referring charges that Iran has failed to fulfill its Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty obligations to the United Nations Security Council.

Study documents exploitation in Indian call centres

By Jake Skeers, 23 November 2005

The Indian media and business elite never tire of enthusing over India’s growing role as an IT and business-processing outsourcer to the world. Yet a recent study of working conditions in Indian outsourced call centres has pointed to the high levels of labour exploitation in the industry—including constant surveillance, long hours, health problems and burnouts.

India: removal of foreign minister points to struggle over extent of US ties

By Arun Kumar and Keith Jones, 22 November 2005

The “temporary” removal of Natwar Singh as India’s external affairs minister underscores that a furious struggle is now under way within the Indian elite over the extent and nature of India’s ties to the US. And that the faction in the ascendance wants to clutch with both hands the Bush administration’s offer to assist India in becoming a world power.

Indian Stalinists pledge to stamp out further IT work disruptions

By Keith Jones, 9 November 2005

The Communist Party of India (Marxist), or CPM, has concluded a weeks-long internal debate over strikes that disrupt information technology (IT) and IT-enabled service (ITES) industries and over the rights of workers in these rapidly expanding sectors of India’s economy. Speaking to the press October 26, CPM leaders said that their just concluded two-day Polit Bureau meeting had affirmed that IT and ITES workers should have the right to form unions and to bargain collectively, including in some instances the right to strike.

Monsoon rains reveal social crisis in Bangalore, the city hyped as India’s Silicon Valley

By Kranti Kumara, 4 November 2005

Last month’s late monsoon rains have demonstrated that the unplanned growth and decrepit infrastructure of Bangalore—the southern India city that is the center of the country’s burgeoning information technology (IT) and business processing industries—constitute a major health hazard. They have also demonstrated that the city mythologized by India’s corporate media and western outsourcing companies as India’s “Silicon Valley” and touted as proof of India’s status as an emerging world-power is home to millions of people who are forced to live in abject poverty.

New Delhi bomb blasts a heinous crime

By Deepal Jayasekera and Keith Jones, 3 November 2005

Last Saturday’s serial bombings in the Indian capital of New Delhi were a heinous crime that can only strengthen reaction.

India: Advani resigns as BJP president amid party crisis

By Jake Skeers, 28 October 2005

Amid intense inner party turmoil, Lal Krishna Advani announced late last month that he would resign his post as president of India’s Hindu chauvinist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in December. Advani will remain the BJP’s parliamentary leader, but media speculation is rife that he will be compelled to exit “gracefully” from this position sometime in 2006.

Leading Indian daily calls for suppression of strikes and unions

By Keith Jones, 7 October 2005

The New Indian Express, one of India’s leading English-language dailies, published an extraordinary editorial in its issue of Friday, September 30, calling for the outlawing of strikes and trade unions.

Indian prime minister cements relations with Afghanistan’s puppet regime

By Deepal Jayasekera and Kranti Kumara, 28 September 2005

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh made a two-day official visit to Afghanistan in late August as part of an aggressive attempt by the Indian ruling elite to realise their strategic ambitions in south and central Asia. These ambitions include containing traditional rival Pakistan and using Afghanistan as a “land-bridge” to the oil reserves and markets of the former central Asian republics of the Soviet Union.

World Bank President Wolfowitz pledges $9 billion in loans to India

By Kranti Kumara, 10 September 2005

During an official visit to India last month, Paul Wolfowitz, the World Bank (WB) president and former US deputy-secretary of defense, strongly endorsed the neo-liberal “reforms” pursued by Indian governments of all political stripes since 1991. To further entrench this strategic shift, he committed the bank to providing India with $9 billion in loans—$3 billion annually for the next three years.

Fifty-four years in jail without trial: the plight of prison inmates in India

By Parwini Zora, 26 August 2005

Machang Lalung, aged 77, was released from incarceration last month in the northeast Indian state of Assam after spending more than half a century behind bars awaiting trial.

Torrential rains and flooding hit India’s financial centre

By Ram Kumar, 8 August 2005

Torrential rains and flooding have had a devastating impact on Mumbai (Bombay), India’s financial capital, and surrounding areas over the last week. The death toll has climbed to more than 1,000 and tens of thousands more than been left homeless. Overwhelmingly, the worst affected have been the poor from the city’s slums and from outlying rural villages.

5 July 2005

Sudheendra Kulkarni resigned Sunday from all three leadership posts he held in the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP): party national secretary; secretary to BJP president L.K. Advani; and member of the national executive.

India adopts WTO patent law with Left Front support

By Kranti Kumara, 16 April 2005

In a move designed to make India’s patent legislation conform with the World Trade Organization’s Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) patent regime, the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government has pushed a patent amendment bill through India’s Parliament with the support of the Stalinist-led Left Front. The patent amendment covers the food, pharmaceutical and agribusiness sectors and can be expanded over time to other sectors.

Indian government to merge state-run oil firms

By Parwini Zora and Daniel Woreck, 12 April 2005

While continuing the previous Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led government’s neo-liberal agenda of deregulation and privatisation of state-owned firms, the present Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government has decided to sustain and expand the Indian state’s virtual monopoly in the oil and natural gas sector.

India joins the scramble for oil

By Parwini Zora and Daniel Woreck, 12 April 2005

“None of us in Asia should fall victim to the strategies of outsiders. The only way to counter the geopolitics of others is to have our own geopolitics”

German business to strengthen its involvement in India

By Parwini Zora and Daniel Woreck, 9 April 2005

The economic and labour minister in Germany’s Social Democrat (SPD)-Green coalition government, Wolfgang Clement, flew to New Delhi on April 4 for the fifteenth meeting of the Indo-German Joint Commission on Industrial and Economic Co-operation. Clement’s three-day visit focused on bilateral trade issues with the Indian government. A swarm of 90 German CEOs and parliamentarians accompanied Clement and attended the two-day meeting. Indian Finance Minister P. Chidambaram and 68 Indian CEOs greeted them.

Indian Stalinists reaffirm support for Congress-led regime committed to neo-liberal policies

By Keith Jones, 7 April 2005

At Wednesday’s inaugural session of the 18th national congress of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), the CPM’s two senior-most figures delivered addresses aimed at defending and legitimizing the party’s continued support for the 11-month United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government.

Burma visit highlights India’s “Look East” strategy

By Sarath Kumara, 6 April 2005

Indian Foreign Minister Natwar Singh made a four-day visit to Burma in late March for discussions with the country’s military junta on closer relations. The trip was not the first by a top Indian politician, nor was there much media coverage. But it does highlight a significant, though little publicised, feature of New Delhi’s strategy. It is the so-called “Look East” policy—an economic and strategic orientation to South East Asia.

Indian budget: a balancing act that cannot long be sustained

By Deepal Jayasekera, 23 March 2005

The budget that India’s Congress-led coalition government presented February 28 shrouded neo-liberal measures in populist rhetoric and gestures.

India: further evidence Hindu-supremacist BJP culpable in Gujarat pogrom

By Kranti Kumara, 9 March 2005

Fresh evidence has emerged that demonstrates that the February-March 2002 pogrom against Gujarat’s Muslim minority was orchestrated by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the dominant partner in India’s then coalition government, and its Hindu-supremacist allies.

India’s tsunami victims left without government assistance

By Sasi Kumar and M. Kailasam, 23 February 2005

Nearly two months after the tsunami struck the southern Indian coast, thousands of the survivors are living in difficult conditions. Having lost family members, houses, possessions and in many cases their livelihoods, they are struggling to cope day to day. Those who spoke to the World Socialist Web Site expressed their resentment and anger at the failure of authorities—local, state and national—to alleviate their suffering.

Why has India blocked foreign tsunami aid to the Nicobar and Andaman islands?

By Parwini Zora and Daniel Woreck, 25 January 2005

The remote Andaman and Nicobar group suffered a devastating blow from the December 26 tsunami. The low-lying and mostly uninhabited chain of 572 islands in the Bay of Bengal was the closest Indian territory to the epicentre of the massive earthquake. As well as being swamped by the sea, it was hit by a series of substantial aftershocks.

Tsunami survivors in southern India speak to the WSWS

By Ram Kumar and Sasi Kumar, 21 January 2005

Ten days after tidal waves hit south India on December 26, corpses were still being recovered from the sand and wreckage in Nagapattinam district when World Socialist Web Site reporters visited the area on January 6.

South Indian fishing villages devastated by tsunami

By Ram Kumar and Sasi Kumar, 19 January 2005

Cuddalore, a coastal district 175 kilometres south of Madras, the Tamil Nadu state capital, was one of the areas worst affected when the tsunami hit India’s east coast on December 26. According to official reports, 51 villages were seriously damaged, 15,000 dwellings wiped out and 615 killed in the already poverty-stricken district. Another 214 were injured and an estimated 99,700 people have been displaced by the disaster.

India: tsunami warnings could have been made

By Ganesh Dev, 10 January 2005

Thousands died or were left homeless when the December 26 tsunami struck India’s eastern coast and engulfed the Andaman and Nicobar Islands in the Bay of Bengal. The response of the Indian political establishment has revealed its indifference and contempt toward the poverty-stricken villagers and fishermen who were the main victims.

India: over 14,000 dead and hundreds of thousands displaced

By Arun Kumar, 4 January 2005

The tsunami that killed over 140,000 people in southern Asia has taken at least 14,000 lives in India. Nine days after the catastrophe, Indian governments at the state and federal levels have yet to establish relief operations in a number of areas. This slow and inadequate response is now threatening thousands more lives as epidemics begin to emerge.

Black fever in India: an epidemic rooted in poverty

By Parwini Zora and Daniel Woreck, 30 December 2004

Kala-Azar—known medically as visceral leishmaniasis and in popular English as black fever—is a curable illness, but it has become the second most fatal parasitic disease in India, claiming 60,000 victims annually. Only malaria causes a higher number of deaths. Most of the victims of black fever are from India’s rural poor.

Congress-led government offers band-aid to haemorrhaging rural India

By Parwini Zora and Daniel Woreck, 16 December 2004

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh travelled to a remote village in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh last month to announce the launching of a National Food For Work Program (NFFWP).

India: political posturing over oil price hikes

By Ganesh Dev and Singam Thayan, 9 December 2004

The petroleum price increases India’s United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government announced last month have occasioned theatrics from all sides of the Union parliament.

Repeal of India’s draconian anti-terrorism law

Largely a cosmetic change

By Kranti Kumara, 27 November 2004

India’s domestic media, the Communist Party of India (Marxist), and Western human rights organisations have all lauded the United Progressive Alliance government’s repeal of the Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA)—which because of the timing of its adoption and repressive sweep can be termed the Indian version of the US Patriot Act

Indian government seeks to curry Washington’s favor

By Keith Jones, 19 November 2004

The congratulatory message that Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh sent George W. Bush following his victory in the US presidential election was remarkable for its obsequiousness.

New Indian government demonstrates loyalty to Washington

By Vilani Peiris, 22 October 2004

The visit by Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to the US last month has made clear that the new Congress-led government will not only maintain, but strengthen the ties established with Washington by the previous Bharatiya Janatha Party (BJP)-led administration.

Indian Stalinists’ alliance with the Congress-led UPA: a trap for the working class

By Nanda Wickramasinghe and and Keith Jones, 7 October 2004

In recent weeks, the Left Front, a four-party electoral bloc led by the Communist Party of India (Marxist), or CPM, has repeatedly expressed dismay at the actions of India’s United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government—a minority government that came to power and survives in office only because of the Left Front’s parliamentary support.

West Bengal carries out first hanging in India in a decade

By Sarath Kumara, 30 September 2004

Last month the Indian state of West Bengal carried out the country’s first hanging since 1995. The state execution was particularly significant because it was carried out, not by an openly right-wing party, but by a “left” coalition led by the Stalinist Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M).

India: popular agitation against army atrocities engulfs the northeast state of Manipur

By Kranti Kumara, 15 September 2004

Since the middle of July, the small northeastern Indian state of Manipur has been convulsed by popular protests demanding the repeal of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), an Indian law that grants extraordinary coercive powers to the armed forces. These powers include unrestricted and essentially unchallengeable authority to arrest and kill people in “carrying out their duties.”

India: Hindu supremacist BJP in disarray

By Deepal Jayasekara and Keith Jones, 18 August 2004

Three months after falling from power, the Hindu supremacist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is in disarray, with its leadership sharply divided over the reasons for its defeat in the April-May general election and unsure how to proceed.

Official indifference as South Asia floods affect 40 million people

By Wimal Perera, 30 July 2004

Millions of people across the Indian subcontinent have been affected by what are considered to be the worst floods in 15 years. According to the latest figures, around 40 million people are homeless and at least 1,300 people have been killed. Officials have admitted that the final death toll could be much higher, with rescue and relief measures still not reaching some areas. Water-borne diseases are also expected to cause many more fatalities.

Indian budget: pro-business agenda dressed up in a pro-poor disguise

By Deepal Jayasekera, 24 July 2004

The first budget of India’s new Congress-led government, brought down on July 8, amounts to a confidence trick aimed at duping the rural and urban poor, many of whom voted for the coalition in May as a means of expressing their hostility to the economic policies of the previous administration.

School fire in southern India kills 90 children

By Arun Kumar and Ram Kumar, 22 July 2004

The deaths of 90 young children in a school fire in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu has highlighted the appalling state of schools—private and public—throughout the country. The tragedy is one of the consequences of a decade-and-a-half of market reforms, which have led to a steady deterioration of an already inadequate public education system and a proliferation of private schools that are often overcrowded, in shoddy buildings, and largely unregulated.

Victims of Indian school fire: “The government is responsible for this tragedy”

By our correspondents, 22 July 2004

The Sri Krishna private school, which burnt down in the town of Kumbakonam in southern India last Friday killing 90 children, was typical of thousands of similar institutions in rural areas of the country. It was grossly overcrowded and lacking in elementary safety measures and basic facilities. But for those who sent their sons and daughters there, it was still better than most government schools.

India: victims seek prosecution of Union Carbide officials over Bhopal disaster

By Neil Hodge, 21 June 2004

By the end of the month, the Chief Judicial Magistrate’s court in Bhopal, India, will decide whether it will force Dow Chemical to send former Union Carbide officials to India to stand trial for the 1984 gas leak that has killed and injured over 60,000 people.

India: government program gives assurances to big business

By Deepal Jayasekera, 14 June 2004

The new Indian government of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh released its Common Minimum Program (CMP) late last month, aimed at further reassuring local and international capital of that its interests will be guaranteed over the next five years. The ruling United Progressive Alliance (UPA) offers an “abiding commitment to economic reforms,” adding that they should be applied “with a human face”.

India: Behind the rout of the Telugu Desam Party—a portrait of World Bank social engineering

By Kranti Kumara, 12 June 2004

Last month’s electoral rout of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government brought into sharp relief the enormous gulf that separates India’s ruling elite from the toiling masses. The BJP’s claim that India is “shining” appealed to an elite gone giddy over a foreign investment and stock market boom. But for hundreds of millions of workers and small farmers, the “India shining” propaganda only served to underscore the government’s callous indifference to their plight. That the electoral repudiation of the BJP and NDA was a rejection of the program of economic “liberalization”—privatization, deregulation and the dismantling of public and social services—that all Indian governments have pursued since 1991 was underscored by the devastating defeat suffered by the BJP’s ally in the south Indian state of Andhra Pradesh (AP), the Telugu Desam Party (TDP).

New Indian ministry to continue right-wing policies

By Deepal Jayasekera, 29 May 2004

The composition of the Indian council of ministers, sworn into office last Saturday, provides further confirmation that the Congress Party-led coalition government will maintain essentially the same right-wing policies at home and abroad as its predecessor.

India’s new prime minister: a representative of corporate interests par excellence

By Deepal Jayasekera, 25 May 2004

When Manmohan Singh was sworn in as Indian prime minister last Saturday, there was no doubt that local big business and foreign investors had their man in the top job. Variously known as “the father of Indian economic reform”, “Mr Clean’s Mr Clean” and “India’s economic liberator”, Singh’s appointment was a guarantee to the markets that the new Congress Party-led coalition government would not hesitate in forging ahead with privatisation and economic restructuring.

Sonia Gandhi declines India’s prime ministership

A craven capitulation to big business and the Hindu right

By Keith Jones, 20 May 2004

The Indian and international press have almost universally hailed Sonia Gandhi’s decision to forego India’s prime ministership as a courageous act of self-sacrifice. In reality it was a craven capitulation. A capitulation to the Hindu supremacist right—the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had begun an agitation against the “humiliation” of a “foreign” prime minister. But even more fundamentally a capitulation to Indian and international capital.

As stock markets tumble

Sonia Gandhi prepares to become India’s prime minister

By Keith Jones, 18 May 2004

India’s election shock wave continues to reverberate, roiling the country’s stock markets and political elite.

Political earthquake in India

Hindu supremacist BJP falls from power

By Keith Jones, 15 May 2004

To the shock of India’s entire political and economic establishment, the Hindu supremacist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its National Democratic Alliance (NDA) coalition have been swept from office. Just hours after vote counting began Thursday morning, the BJP-led NDA conceded defeat in India’s 14th general election and by evening Atal Behari Vajpayee, the Prime Minister since 1998, had tendered his resignation.

India: Stalinists to promote Congress power bid

By Nanda Wickremasinghe and Keith Jones, 13 May 2004

The Communist Party of India (Marxist) will back a bid by the Congress party to form a coalition government if India’s general election produces a hung parliament. The traditional governing party of India’s economic and political elite, the Congress, is an enthusiastic supporter of the Indian bourgeoisie’s “liberalization” agenda, which aims to make India a magnet for foreign capital through privatization, deregulation, cuts to social welfare programs, the dismantling of tariff protection for small farmers, and the gutting of worker rights.

Indian election

The BJP’s “India Shining” campaign: myth and reality

By Parwini Zora and Daniel Woreck, 7 May 2004

An important component of the current election campaign waged by the ruling Hindu supremacist Bharathya Janatha Party (BJP) has been its “India Shining” advertising promotion, hailing the successes of the Indian economy and featuring the happy faces of contented and well-fed middle-class Indians.

India: BJP responds to unfavorable polls by highlighting its Hindu supremacism

By Keith Jones, 6 May 2004

The Bharatiya Janata Party, the dominant partner in India’s ruling National Democratic Alliance, has responded to a spate of unfavorable exit polls in India’s multi-phase general election by highlighting its Hindu supremacist agenda. Gujurat Chief Minister Narendra Modi and Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Uma Bharti—infamous for their role in inciting anti-Muslim violence—have been given greater prominence in the BJP campaign, particularly in the pivotal state of Uttar Pradesh. Meanwhile, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the shadowy Hindu nationalist service organization and militia which provides the bulk of the BJP’s cadres, is said to have assumed direct control of the party’s campaign.

India’s elections: the decline and decay of the Congress Party

By Deepal Jayasekera, 23 April 2004

In the elections currently underway in India, the main opposition to the ruling Bharatiya Janatha Party (BJP) is the Indian National Congress: the traditional party of the national bourgeoisie with roots going back to the anti-colonial struggles of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

Indian general election begins

Polls indicate race tightening

By Keith Jones, 22 April 2004

India’s general election, which is to be held in five phases ending May 10, began Tuesday with voters in 140 parliamentary constituencies spread over 13 states and 3 Union territories going to the polls.

India’s election commission demands BJP explain its role in Lucknow tragedy

By Kranti Kumara, 19 April 2004

India’s Election Commission has issued a show-cause notice to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the dominant partner in India’s ruling coalition, demanding it explain its role in an April 12 function at which 22 impoverished women and children were trampled to death. The deaths occurred during the free distribution of saris, the traditional garment of Indian women, at an event in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh—the electoral constituency of Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee. The event’s ostensible purpose was to celebrate the 70th birthday of Lalji Tandon, a senior BJP leader and Vajpayee’s prospective campaign manager.

India reacts with dismay to recent US legislation on outsourcing

By Kranti Kumara, 16 March 2004

The ruling elite and media in India have reacted with a mixture of dismay and anger to the spate of legislative activity in the United States aimed at banning overseas outsourcing or offshoring of government contracts. Several states, such as Colorado, Wisconsin, Indiana and Minnesota, have introduced legislation to ban the offshoring of such contracts. The latest was the recently passed US Senate bill banning private firms from outsourcing federal government contracts overseas. This measure, attached to a $328 billion omnibus appropriations bill, was sponsored by Ohio Republican Senator George Voinovich in a transparent attempt to bolster the Bush administration during an election year. Not to be outdone, Democrats have introduced a “Jobs for America Act” in the Senate that requires corporations to warn employees and communities before moving jobs overseas.

Indian Supreme Court grants trial in Gujarat riot case

By Sarath Kumara, 10 March 2004

Nearly two years after anti-Muslim pogroms in the Indian state of Gujarat in 2002 claimed the lives of more than 2,000 men, women and children, the Indian Supreme Court has taken tentative steps to bring to some of the culprits to account.

India’s Hindu chauvinist-led coalition government calls early election

By Sarath Kumara and Keith Jones, 4 March 2004

On the advice of India’s current government—the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA)—Indian President Abdul Kalam dissolved the country’s parliament February 6, eight months ahead of schedule. The independent election commission, which is responsible for determining the election schedule, has now announced that India’s 670 million voters will go to the polls in four voting-phases between April 20 and May 10. Full results are to be tabulated by May 13.

Millions of Indian government employees to go on strike today

By Arun Kumar, 24 February 2004

More than 10 million employees of the central and state governments, various publicly-owned companies, and India’s financial institutions are expected to join a one-day national strike today, February 24, to protest against a Supreme Court ruling that public sector workers have no right to strike.

India: Tamil Nadu government continues witchhunt of strikers

By Ram Kumar, 9 January 2004

A panel of judges has imposed severe penalties on hundreds of government employees in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu accused by the state government of misconduct during a statewide strike in July.

Heavy losses for Congress in Indian state elections

By Sarath Kumara, 11 December 2003

The Congress Party—the major opposition party in India at the national level—suffered serious reverses in four state elections held last week. It lost power in the states of Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan, and only managed to retain office in the union territory of Delhi. The result provides a much-needed boost to the Hindu supremacist Bharathiya Janatha Party (BJP), which had lost a string of state polls and faces national elections next year.

Indian elections reveal chasm between political elite and voters

By Sarath Kumara, 1 December 2003

Elections being held today in four northern Indian states—Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Delhi—will be an indication of the standing of the major political parties as they prepare to confront each other in national elections due to be held before next September. An election has already taken place in the northeastern state of Mizoram on November 20.

India: Tamil Nadu government launches far-reaching attack on the press

By Arun Kumar, 20 November 2003

In an unprecedented attack on the freedom of the press, the Legislative Assembly speaker in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu this month imposed 15-day jail terms on the main editorial staff of a leading Indian newspaper, the Hindu, for “breach of privilege” of the parliament. The decision is part of an escalating assault on democratic rights and workers’ conditions by the state government led by Chief Minister Jayaram Jayalalithaa.

A highly political decision

Indian deputy prime minister exonerated over destruction of Ayodhya mosque

By S. Ram and K. Ratnayake, 20 October 2003

Eleven years after the destruction of the Babri mosque in Ayodhya by a Hindu chauvinist mob triggered communal riots across the Indian subcontinent, an Indian court has dismissed the remaining charges against one of the chief perpetrators—Lal Krishna Advani, deputy prime minister and a key figure in the ruling Hindu supremacist Bharathiya Janatha Party (BJP).

Indian government courts alliance with Israel and US

Sharon given red carpet welcome in New Delhi

By Kranti Kumara and Keith Jones, 25 September 2003

India’s coalition government, which is dominated by the Hindu supremacist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), rolled out the red carpet for Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon during a three-day official visit to India earlier this month, thus further solidarizing itself with Sharon’s ever-widening repression of the Palestinian people.

Tamil Nadu sackings signal new offensive against Indian workers

By Ganesh Dev and K. Ratnayake, 3 September 2003

The sacking of nearly 200,000 striking government workers in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu in early July has rapidly become the basis for a wholesale offensive against the democratic rights and social position of the working class throughout the country. This unprecedented attack has been upheld by the Tamil Nadu High Court and the Indian Supreme Court, widely hailed as a model by big business and in the media, and backed by the Bharatiya Janatha Party (BJP)-led government in New Delhi.

Indian bomb blasts: the end product of communal politics

By Sarath Kumara, 1 September 2003

Two devastating bomb blasts in Bombay, India’s financial centre, last week claimed the lives of at least 52 people and injured more than 150. One exploded at the Zaveri Bazaar, the city’s jewelry district, near the Hindu Mumbadevi temple. The other blast took place near one of the city’s main tourist attractions—the Gateway of India—a British monument built during the colonial rule of India.

A travesty of justice:

Acquittals in cases of communal violence in India

By Sarath Kumara, 25 August 2003

The protracted legal proceedings over the anti-Muslim pogroms in the Indian state of Gujarat in March last year have exposed just how deeply the entire official establishment is mired in Hindu chauvinism.

Indian unions call off stoppage after state government sacks 200,000 strikers

By M. Kailasam, 17 July 2003

Unions covering teachers and government employees in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu last weekend called off an 11-day public sector strike and appealed to the state government for unconditional talks after the government sacked more than 200,000 of the 1.3 million striking workers.

Silicosis deaths in Pondicherry, India

Women victims of lack of safety standards

By Kranti Kumara, 8 July 2003

Within the past year, seven young women near the of city of Pondicherry in southern India have lost their lives due to silicosis—an occupational lung-disease caused by inhalation of silica, a raw material used in glass manufacturing.

Washington presses India to send troops to Iraq

By K. Ratnayake, 30 June 2003

India is under pressure from the Bush administration to make a substantial commitment of troops to assist in shoring up the US occupation of Iraq. As US troops come under hostile fire, Washington is eager for other countries to join the so-called stabilisation force in Iraq, both to bear the burden of suppressing the growing resistance and to provide a veneer of international support.

Heat wave kills more than 1,200 in south India

By R. Shree Haran, 9 June 2003

A severe heat wave has killed more than 1,200 people over the past three weeks in India with more than 1,065 deaths recorded in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh. Women, children and the elderly are among the dead. According to media reports, police have found several bodies on the roadside, including along the route to Hyderabad, the state capital.

India temporarily tones down its sabre rattling against Pakistan

By K. Ratnayake, 2 May 2003

After a series of menacing threats against Pakistan beginning in late March, the Indian government carried out what appeared to be an abrupt about-face in mid-April, extending an offer for talks to its counterparts in Islamabad.

India offers half-hearted criticism of US war on Iraq

By Wije Dias, 25 March 2003

The Indian government has made the most muted of criticisms of Washington’s unilateral decision to launch war against Iraq. After a meeting between Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee and senior ministers last Thursday, an official statement cautiously declared that “the military action lacks justification” and was “avoidable”.

Antiwar protests grow in India

By our correspondents, 20 March 2003

A growing number of antiwar protests are taking place in India—large and small. More than 10,000 marched in the city of Hyderabad, capital of the southern state of Andra Pradesh, on March 9. The following day 3,000 young people, workers, intellectuals and small traders participated in a demonstration and rally in central Madras. On March 17, thousands protested in Calcutta.

Antiwar protests in southern India

By Ganesh Dev and Arun Kumar, 5 March 2003

As part of the worldwide opposition to a US war on Iraq, protests are growing in India. Two rallies took place last week in the south of India—in Madras, the state capital of Tamil Nadu, and Bangalore, a major industrial city in Karnataka.

New Kashmiri administration fails to deliver “healing touch”

By Deepal Jayasekera, 4 February 2003

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) came to power, in coalition with the Congress Party, in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir in November last year. It substantially increased its vote in the poll at the expense the long dominant National Conference Party by promising “a healing touch” to resolve the protracted armed conflict in Kashmir.

India and Pakistan again escalate tensions

By Vilani Peiris, 1 February 2003

Just months after India and Pakistan withdrew troops massed along their mutual border, tensions between the two countries are again rising. What began as a war of words over nuclear threats has escalated into missile sabre-rattling, tit-for-tat diplomatic expulsions and the renewal of shelling exchanges in Kashmir.

Gujarat election opens door for more communal violence in India

By K. Nesan, 28 December 2002

In a sharp electoral turnaround, the Hindu chauvinist Bharathiya Janatha Party (BJP) won the December 12 election in the western Indian state of Gujarat, setting the stage for further communal violence throughout the country. BJP state leader Narendra Modi pushed for an early poll following anti-Muslim riots in Gujarat earlier in the year and deliberately inflamed communal tensions in the course of the campaign to divert attention from the failure of his administration’s social and economic policies.

New Kashmiri government to push for talks to end armed conflict

By Deepal Jayasekera, 5 November 2002

After two weeks of deadlock, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the Congress Party last week finally sealed a coalition deal to form a new government in Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. The National Conference (NC), which held power in the state for most of the past 50 years, lost its parliamentary majority in elections concluded last month.

Kashmir election results in defeat for ruling party

By Deepal Jayasekera, 22 October 2002

Recent elections in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir have resulted in a decisive defeat for the National Conference (NC), which has held power for most of the past five decades. Party leader Omar Abdullah, whose grandfather Sheikh Abdullah founded the NC and was considered likely to take over from his father Farooq Abdullah as the state’s chief minister, lost his seat in the state’s summer capital of Srinagar.

Gujarat temple massacre inflames tensions between India and Pakistan

By Sarath Kumara, 8 October 2002

A September 24 attack on a Hindu temple in the western Indian state of Gujarat, in which at least 42 people were killed, has inflamed communalist tensions and re-kindled the conflict between India and Pakistan. The two countries are continuing a military standoff over the disputed territory of Kashmir.

More than 600 dead in Indian Kashmir as election draws to a close

By Deepal Jayasekera and James Conachy, 7 October 2002

Elections in India’s border state of Jammu and Kashmir have seen ordinary people caught between a large and intimidating Indian military presence on the one hand, and bloody violence by Kashmiri separatists and pro-Pakistani groups seeking to disrupt the voting on the other. More than 600 people have been killed since campaigning began in late August.

Likely cause of Indian rail disaster: neglect not “sabotage”

By Arun Kumar, 24 September 2002

The Indian rail system has experienced another major rail disaster. On September 9, the Howrah-New Delhi Rajdhani Express—a luxury, high-speed train—derailed while crossing a bridge in the Aurangabad district of the northern state of Bihar and plunged into the Dhawa River. At the latest count, 129 of the 600 passengers and rail staff on board were killed and another 200 were injured.