India

Deepa Mehta speaks out against Hindu extremist campaign to stop her film

By Richard Phillips, 15 February 2000

Deepa Mehta, the Indian born, internationally acclaimed film director has been subjected to a series of vicious attacks by Hindu fundamentalists who, working hand in hand with the Bharatiya Janatha Party (BJP), have shut down production in Uttar Pradesh of Water, her latest film. The BJP is the main party in India's National Democratic Alliance government and holds power in the state of Uttar Pradesh.

India:

Hindu chauvinists block filming of Deepa Mehta's Water

By Richard Phillips and Waruna Alahakoon, 12 February 2000

Deepa Mehta, director of the films Fire and Earth, has been forced by Hindu communalists in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh to halt production of Water, the third in her trilogy, and look for a new shooting location. The movie was due to commence production in Varanasi on the Ganges River on January 30.

Arrests made in India over screening of film on the Manjolai massacre

By Ram Kumar, 30 December 1999

Tamil Nadu's Dravida Munetra Kazhagam (DMK) state government, a coalition partner in the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government in New Delhi, arrested two men in October for holding a preview of the documentary Death of a River. The film deals with the police massacre of striking Manjolai tea estate workers at the Thamiraparani River and includes footage of the police attack on the demonstrators and their supporters.

Indian tea estate workers still on strike after six months

By K. Sundaram and Ganesh Dev, 16 December 1999

More than 2,000 workers from the Manjolai Tea Estates in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu have been on strike for more than six months, defying police violence and management threats of sackings to continue their campaign for improved working conditions and backpay. The strikers make up 85 percent of the total workforce on the Manjolai, Nalumuku and Oothu tea estates on the southern tip of the Western Ghats mountain range in the Tirunelvelly district.

Pope's visit to India exacerbates tensions in BJP-led government

By Nanda Wickremasinghe, 8 December 1999

The Pope's four-day visit to India in early November quickly revealed the tensions within the newly elected government led by the Bharatiya Janatha Party (BJP) and Prime Minister Athal Behari Vajpayee, who is keen to present a more moderate face both to preserve the ruling coalition and to consolidate international ties and investment.

Indian government to accelerate pro-investor "reform"with Congress backing

By Deepal Jayasekera, 7 December 1999

Two hundred thousand workers in India's insurance industry staged a one-day strike last Thursday to protest the imminent adoption of legislation that opens the industry to privatisation and foreign investment. “The intention of the government is clear,” explained the General Secretary of the All India Life Insurance Corporation Employees Federation. “They first want to open up the sector, privatise the state-run Life Insurance Corp. and General Insurance Corp., and then go in for massive job cuts.”

Nine prisoners die in Madras Central Jail riot

By Arun Kumar, 6 December 1999

At least nine prisoners in Madras Central Jail in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu have died as a result of a pitched battle with warders on November 17. More than 100 were injured and two jailers have also died. Jail authorities and police have not disclosed the exact number of casualties.

Thousands of Indian cyclone survivors at risk due to official indifference

By Deepal Jayasekera, 18 November 1999

Weeks after the October 29 super cyclone struck coastal areas of the east Indian state of Orissa, the Bharathiya Janatha Party (BJP)-led central government and Congress (I) State government have failed to mobilise necessary relief resources. This indifference toward the plight of survivors has left tens of thousands at risk.

Death toll in eastern India cyclone may top 10,000

By Deepal Jayasekera, 10 November 1999

Unofficial reports estimate that more than 10,000 people have perished as a result of the super cyclone that hit the coastal areas of the eastern Indian State of Orissa on October 29.

Indian government prevails over truckers' protest to halt fuel price increases

By Ganesh Dev, 2 November 1999

On the evening of October 27, India's truck owners called off a week-long protest that at its height had kept 2.5 million lorries, trailers and tankers off the road and crippled the distribution of food, fuel and other goods. The All-India Motor Transport Congress (AIMTC) terminated the protest after the newly elected National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government agreed to consider its demands for changes to freight charges, permit fees and other aspects of transport policy. But the truck owners' main demand—the roll-back of a 40 percent hike in diesel prices—was excluded from the agreement, meaning the government has prevailed in its insistence that the price hike is non-negotiable and irreversible.

What big business expects of India's new government

By Deepal Jayasekera, 15 October 1999

During the recent election campaign, both the contenders for power—the victorious National Democratic Alliance (NDA) and the Congress (I)—pledged to initiate a "second wave of economic reforms". These pledges came in response to complaints from both domestic and foreign big business that the adoption of "investor" friendly policies has slowed since the mid-1990s. A second wave of reforms is necessary, they argue, if India is to complete the process, initiated under the 1991 "new economic policy", of dismantling India's nationally protected economy and making export-led growth the pivot of economic development.

Who's Who in India's ruling NDA coalition

By a correspondent, 13 October 1999

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) head Atal Vajpayee is to be sworn in as prime minister of India's National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government today. Unlike the coalition the BJP led in the last parliament, which ruled India for 13 months, the NDA and allied parties have a comfortable majority of the 543 seats in India's lower house of parliament.

New Indian government to heed demands of big business

By Keith Jones, 13 October 1999

Indian Prime Minister Atal Vajpayee and other leaders of the Hindu chauvinist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have vowed that the new coalition government they head will make "economic reform" its top priority and not shrink from taking "hard decisions."

Hindu chauvinist-led coalition to form India's next government

By Keith Jones, 9 October 1999

The National Democratic Alliance, a coalition of more than 20 parties headed by the Hindu chauvinist Bharatiya Janata Party or BJP, has secured a majority of about 50 seats in India's 13th Parliament and will form the next government.

Indian elections: Big business embraces the BJP

By Deepal Jayasekera, 22 September 1999

Fears that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) may not secure a strong parliamentary majority in the current general election have caused India's major stock exchanges to suffer significant declines in recent days.

Indian elections: widening chasm between official politics and the working masses

By Nanda Wickramasinghe, 15 September 1999

The first two rounds of India's general election have been completed and already there are indications of widespread voter indifference to both major political formations—the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led National Democratic Alliance of Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee and the opposition Congress (I).

US and India discuss joint strategy against Afghanistan's Taliban regime

By Keith Jones, 14 September 1999

Indian and US government officials held high-level talks in Washington earlier this month focusing on their countries' common interest in opposing Afghanistan's Taliban regime. Over two days, India's Joint Secretary for the Americas, Alok Prasad, and Joint Secretary for Iran, Pakistan, and Afghanistan, Vivek Katju, met with senior State Department, National Security Council and Pentagon officials, including President Clinton's Deputy National Security Advisor, John Steinberg.

Indian elections: a further shift to the right by the main parties

By Arun Kumar, 7 September 1999

The first phase of India's general election was held Sunday with voters from 10 states and five Union Territories casting ballots in 146 of the 543 Lok Sabha (House of the People) constituencies. Counting will begin on October 6, three days after the completion of the fifth and final voting phase. For security reasons, India's Election Commission organizes a staggered election, with various states, parts of states and in some cases individual constituencies allotted different polling dates.

Inadequate safety measures behind rail disasters in India

By K. Ratnayake, 16 August 1999

The BJP government in India is trying to use the August 2 train crash to launch a crackdown on 1.6 million railway workers in the country. Four days after the train crash, which killed 303 passengers, India Railway Board Chairman V.K. Agarwal told reporters an "army-type discipline" would be imposed on railway employees to achieve a "zero accident rate." He added, "The railways are over-stretched and operation will be absolutely strict, with war-situation discipline.”

Brutal police attack claims 17 lives in southern India

By Deepal Jayasekera, 11 August 1999

On July 23 a brutal police attack on a procession of workers, family members and supporters in Tirunelveli in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu claimed 17 lives.

Over 300 feared killed in Indian train disaster

By K. Ratnayake, 4 August 1999

Over 300 passengers are feared dead and hundreds more injured after two crowded trains collided head on at Gaisal station, 500 kilometres (315 miles) north of the West Bengal capital, Calcutta, in the northeast of India. It is one of the most horrible railway accidents to happen in the country. Rescuers and hospital officials said that 257 bodies had been recovered by Tuesday evening. But the death toll is likely to go up as 50 more people are believed to be trapped in the remaining wreckage.