Asian fault lines of Biden’s war on Russia

M. K. Bhadrakumar

Indian Punchline | April 11, 2022

As relations with Tokyo sour, Moscow beefs up the coastal defence systems on the Kuril Islands that Japan claims as its own

The tremors of the United States’ tensions with Russia playing out in Europe are being felt in different ways already in Asia. The hypothesis of Ukraine being in Europe and the conflict being all about European security is delusional.

From Kazakhstan to Myanmar, from Solomon Islands to the Kuril Islands, from North Korea to Cambodia, from China to India, Pakistan and Afghanistan, the fault lines are appearing.

To be sure, extra-regional powers had a hand in the failed colour revolution recently to overthrow the established government in Kazakhstan, a hotly contested geopolitical landmass two-thirds the size of India, bordering both China and Russia, Washington’s sworn adversaries. Thanks to swift Russian intervention, supported by China, a regime change was averted. 

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The countries maintaining research ties with Russia despite Ukraine

Many Western nations are severing scientific links — but it’s a different story in China, India and South Africa.

Smriti Mallapaty , T. V. Padma , Emiliano Rodríguez Mega , Richard Van Noorden & Ehsan Masood

A research reactor at Russia’s Konstantinov Institute of Nuclear Physics near St Petersburg.Credit: Peter Kovalev/ITAR-TASS/Alamy

Is Russia’s invasion of Ukraine redrawing the map of international scientific cooperation? Whereas Europe and the United States are swiftly moving to cut long-standing ties, the governments of China, India, South Africa are maintaining links.

They are members of the BRICS, a group of five countries — including Brazil and Russia — that work together to promote trade and economic development, and have an active programme of scientific cooperation. Last year, researchers from the 5 nations organized some 100 meetings under the BRICS umbrella in a spectrum of fields including astronomy, climate and energy, health and medicine.

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China-India Relation: New Developments

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India’s Revolutionary Spiritual Urge: Bhagat Singh and the Naxalites

Bernard D’Mello

Monthly Review | 2021Volume 73, Number 7 (December 2021)

Kartar Singh Sarabha and Bhagat Singh
Kartar Singh Sarabha and Bhagat Singh. Image credit: Saurav Kumar, “Remembering The Heroic Sacrifice Of Bhagat Singh’s Mentor–Kartar Singh Sarabha,” YKA, November 26, 2017.

Bhagat Singh (1907–1931), the subject of Chris Moffat’s India’s Revolutionary Inheritance and Chaman Lal’s (edited and introduced) The Bhagat Singh Reader, is an iconic figure of the radical left tradition in India. In a trial by a special tribunal that chose to violate basic principles of law and criminal procedure for colonial-political ends, he was convicted of murdering an assistant superintendent of police in 1928. Singh, along with his comrades Sukhdev Thapar and Shivaram Rajguru, was executed in Lahore (now in Pakistan) on March 23, 1931, when he was just 23 years old, in the prime of his life.

Having come from the revolutionary strand of India’s struggle for independence, the elite nationalist leadership, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru, remained ambivalent about Singh, and nationalist historiography has marginalized his political contributions. His substitution of the slogan “Vande Mataram!” (Salutations to Mother India!) with the rallying cries “Inquilab Zindabad!” (Long Live the Revolution!) and “Samrajyawad Ka Nash Ho!” (Death to Imperialism!) was alien to the political sense of India’s elite nationalist leaders. They were apprehensive of Singh’s brand of revolutionary politics appealing to the masses and displacing their own variety of a reformist nationalist mass movement. Indeed, “a confidential Intelligence Bureau account, Terrorism in India (1917–1936) went so far as to declare that ‘for a time, he [Bhagat Singh] bade fair to oust Mr. Gandhi as the foremost political figure of the day.’”1

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India: COVID-19 third wave: How do Delhi’s hospitals fare?

DTE visited a few hospitals in the national capital to take a pulse of the situation

Taran Deol

Down To Earth | January 06, 2022

COVID-19 third wave: Situation in Delhi hospitals is calm for now. Representative photo: iStock

The third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in India sparked by the new variant of concern omicron has stoked fears about an unprecedented rise in cases, followed by a rise in hospitalisations and an overburdened healthcare system — as was seen in the ghastly second wave of April 2021.

India’s metropolitan cities are the epicentre of the third wave of COVID-19 cases. With 2,135 infections of the new variant across the country as of January 5, 2022 — 653 in Maharashtra and 464 in Delhi alone — omicron is fast establishing its dominance.

With 11,665 new cases in the last 24 hours, dedicated COVID-19 hospitals in the national capital are preparing for an unprecedented rise in cases, even though evidence, for now, suggests that omicron infections remain mostly mild.

Down to Earth visited a few hospitals in the national capital to take a pulse of the situation.

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India: Privatisation and the Constitution

Prabhat Patnaik

IN a recent report the People’s Commission on the Public Sector and Public Services has rightly drawn attention to the sheer un-constitutionality of the Modi government’s plan to privatise en masse the assets of the public sector. The constitution of the country is not just a set of procedures and rules for the governance of the polity. It expresses above all a certain social philosophy which is supposed to inform the behaviour of the various organs of the State and which constitutes the foundational beliefs around which the nation has come into being. This is particularly true of ex-colonial countries where the formation of the nation has been the outcome of an anti-colonial struggle that brought people together in an historically unprecedented show of unity; the social philosophy underlying the constitution of the newly formed nation-State provides the conceptual basis for this coming together.

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India’s Post-Pandemic Economic Recovery

Prabhat Patnaik

People’s Democracy | December 12, 2021

THE pandemic alas is not yet over, but there are no economic disruptions in the current fiscal year in the form of lockdowns or workers’ absence. The economy’s performance therefore can no longer be attributed to the prevalence of the pandemic; whatever it is, it is caused by economic factors.

Government spokesmen are busy claiming that the economy is displaying a robust recovery, and that the current fiscal year will post a double-digit growth rate. But a double-digit growth rate in the current year means nothing; since the previous fiscal year had witnessed a sharp absolute drop in GDP, in fact one of the sharpest among all countries of the world because of the government’s imposing a lock-down more stringent than anywhere else, a drop amounting to a staggering 24 per cent in the April-June quarter of 2020, a bounce back from such a trough is naturally to be expected; there is nothing to crow about it. The real question is how the current fiscal year’s performance compares with that of the pre-pandemic fiscal year, i.e., with 2019-20. And on doing so, we find that the first quarter’s GDP this year was well below that of the first quarter of 2019-20. The second quarter’s GDP is about the same as the GDP of the second quarter of 2019-20 (in fact it is just marginally higher by 0.3 per cent). In other words, given the 7.3 per cent drop in GDP last year compared to the previous year, even a double-digit growth rate of 10 per cent, which is higher than what government agencies like the State Bank of India are projecting for the current year (which is 9.5 per cent), will just about put the current year’s GDP 1.97 per cent above what it was in 2019-20; this is hardly indicative of a positive trend in the economy.

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India: One square meal: How this non-tribal forest-dweller family survives without FRA recognition in Odisha

Sanghamitra Dubey, Ravisha Poddar

Down to Earth | November 28, 2021

Srikumar Khadi’s great-grandparents moved to Bhuin-Jor from Dhamakpur in Odisha’s Sundergarh district around 100 years ago. They were offered a small piece of land in the forest by Bhuin-Jor’s inhabitants.

They settled in the forest with the passage of time and started using the land as a homestead. They also used to cultivate basic food products for their livelihood.

Today, a few generations later, Srikumar Khadi, a 55-year-old descendent of the Khadi family, lives on the same land. The land, which is about 12 to 20 decimals in area, serves as a home for his family of seven.

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India: The Peasantry’s Victory over Imperialism

Prabhat Patnaik

People’s Democracy | November 28, 2021

PARTICULAR battles often have a significance that goes beyond the immediate context, of which even the combatants may not be fully aware at the time. One such was the Battle of Plassey, which was not even a battle since one side’s general had already been bribed by the other not to lead his troops against it; and yet what happened in the woods of Plassey that day ushered in a whole new epoch in world history.

The battle between the kisan movement and the Modi government falls into the same genre. At the most obvious level it has been seen as a climbdown by the Modi government in the face of the incredible resoluteness shown by the agitating peasants. At another level it has also been seen as a setback for neo-liberalism, since corporate ascendancy over the agricultural sector, by making peasant agriculture subservient to the corporates, is a crucial part of the neo-liberal agenda, which the farm laws were seeking to promote.

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Indian Farmers’ Victory: Politics of Mass Struggle

Brinda Karat

People’s Democracy | November 28, 2021

THE historic victory of the kisan struggle in forcing the government to roll back the anti-farmer, pro-corporate three farm laws underlines the importance of the politics of mass struggle. The strength of the farmers’ united movements under the leadership of the Samyukta Kisan Morcha put the government on the defensive with the struggle organically transforming into a mass struggle against the BJP and its governments at the centre and states. This transformation with direct and spontaneous kisan mobilisations against BJP leaders’ visits to villages in Haryana and Western UP was linked to the real life experiences of the kisans themselves of the arrogant and aggressive promotion of corporate interests when kisans were suffering due to a variety of reasons created by government policies. The Lakhimpur Kheri atrocity symbolised both realities – that of kisan mobilisation and the other of the brutal nature of the BJP response.

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