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 Image of the nation in a limbo

Shahid Islam
 
An erudite crisis of credibility had plagued Bangladesh to further alert its people and the observers abroad about the volatility of a lingering political crisis; infested with Islamic militants busy in making and stocking bombs and other lethal means to wage their struggle, according to police and RAB who create such news almost daily by raiding what they call the ‘dens of militants’ and providing the global media outlets the fodder to portray Bangladesh as the next Afghanistan in the making.
Full Story
Shahid Islam
 
An erudite crisis of credibility had plagued Bangladesh to further alert its people and the observers abroad about the volatility of a lingering political crisis; infested with Islamic militants busy in making and stocking bombs and other lethal means to wage their struggle, according to police and RAB who create such news almost daily by raiding what they call the ‘dens of militants’ and providing the global media outlets the fodder to portray Bangladesh as the next Afghanistan in the making.
Besides, not only people within are gripped by the nauseating feeling of suffocation under the blanketed confusion sparked lately by the diverse and delirious missions and visions of the nation’s politicians, many foreign observers too seem convinced that the incumbent AL-led regime wants to stay in power for four consecutive terms to fulfil its ‘development mission,’ as was reiterated by the ruling party secretary general, Obaidul Qader, on May 16.
 
Reckless regime
Qader’s latest ‘vision statement’ entailed the clearest signal yet to show why the next general election  is as yet an uncertainty and, the ruling oligarchs are least bothered about how they cling onto power for four consecutive terms. They have already proved during the botched 2014 election that their aim justifies all means and abstention from the poll of other parties hardly tickle them, let alone inflict pain.
To the ordinary folks, the BNP’s avowed decision not to participate in an election under the incumbent PM and her regime brings home a similar message of another inevitable turbulence hitting the national politics and the economy. Amidst this frustration and confusion, the image of the nation is vaulted to what seems like an irretrievable limbo.
The messages of uncertainty so transmitted are deterring investors from investing, traders to resorting to holding, and the ordinary people to losing the residual of the hopes they still nurture within. Combined, the effect is contributing to further dampening of national spirit and sprouting of more vulnerabilities to enable the nation’s competitors and saboteurs within to stall the rising trajectory of growth and prosperity.
A day is a long time in politics, so goes the rationale behind emitting inspirational signals each day to entice the forces of economy to charge ahead, and the society at large to feel the pulse of stability of a kind that can infuse courage, complacency and trust upon the status quo. That fundamental ethos of patriotic politics is very much amiss in today’s Bangladesh.
And, the erosion of such values occur at a time when more people are without job; export, remittance, industrial and agricultural outputs in decline; inflation turning runaway despite government data showing otherwise. Every consumer item had hiked in prices by over 20 per cent in last 40 days alone, according to reports.
 
Status quo perception
And that’s the perception which is neither supportive of the status quo, nor conducive to investment, growth and prosperity. Politics today is hostage to the idiosyncrasy of an oligarchy that claim exclusivity to winning the independence of the nation and an inalienable right to rule perpetually. The constitution of the nation may say and exhort as much as it likes about the necessity of governing through ‘elected representative of the people,’ elected every five years, the status quo under the ruling AL is, however, defined by its desire not to be distracted by such constitutional refrains and cling on to power indefinitely by any means. This is autocracy at its height and it creates more trouble than the regime can solve or handle.
The status quo also breeds an economy in which capital can be monopolized by the few, who also can send the capital abroad at will, as the latest report of the Washington-based Global Financial Integrity (GFI) showed. “Bangladesh lost as much as $75.15 billion or Tk 700 billion to trade mis-invoicing and other unrecorded outflows between 2005 and 2014,” the report claimed.
 
‘Slap & kiss’ strategy
Politically, from local government to the national parliament through to the cabinet, government and the opposition are fishes of same breed and, the main opposition party, BNP, is not even allowed to converge for a public meeting. One is prone to wonder what strategy keeps the regime insulated from the threats that usually lurk against any government of this nature. The strategy is ‘slap & kiss.’ The BNP and Jamaat have been slapped hard; radical left and the Hefajati Islamists bought off; and the civil-military bureaucracy reduced to perpetual reconciliation and numbness through graft, garnish and mild doses of gratitude.
Status quo also implies high-budgeted, hefty development works that can feed milk and honey to the decision makers, contractors foreign and local, as well as to local party loyalists. Real cost of most of the development and infrastructural projects in Bangladesh is 50-200 per cent higher than all other regional countries. The brazen lack of accountability is another boon of the status quo for those aligned with the incumbent.
But this is a nation getting lawless by the day where today’s benefactors are bound to be tomorrow’s losers. According to the country’s chief justice, judicial independence is encumbered by and hostage to the executive while police can make believe anything; including turning a peaceable ordinary person into a ferocious jihadi terrorist. In the absence of no other independent witness when militant dens are raided, whatever police say must be believed. The pattern shows police have a list to kill, and kill with impunity. This has turned the country into a death camp; the victims dying without being accorded the due diligence of law.
 
Vision 2030
Amidst this grisly reality, the BNP’s vision 2030 makes a lot of sense if the architects of the vision can snatch political power to implement the blueprint. If they fail, which is the main mission of the AL, the so called ‘Awami missionaries’ will cling onto power with the help of the civil-military bureaucracy and a regional power that practices and professes democracy within but sheds no tears if a neighbourly regime serves its purpose irrespective of being or not being elected representative of the people. This unabashed double standard of this comparatively powerful neighbour has been emulated in ditto by the ruling AL that had climbed to power using the caretaker ladder only to through the ladder off to deprive its opponent.
Whether BNP goes to power or not in the near future, the proposed balancing of power between the president and the prime minister, delving into the prospect of a bi-cameral legislature, being supportive of the millions hopping for jobs across the country, repelling the Special Power Act of 1974, making the judiciary truly independent and based on merit-based judges are among many visions that the BNP had laid out for posterity.
The ruling oligarchs are fazed by the substantive and the thematic punches of the BNP’s visions, but their main strategy being not to budge on the question of a poll-time, all-party government under a devised dispensation that can be construed as extra-constitutional, they are not bothered much.
 
Perilous deadlock
And, the ball being in the government’s court, the denial of yet another fair and inclusive election will bring the existential deadlock to its dreadful precipice. That will be the moment to put on test the courage and the commitment of the nation’s civil society and the intelligentsia who shall stand for real democracy, not against it.
For another election without the BNP’s participation will be as disastrous for the country as a hapless farmer’s crops damage in two consecutive harvests. That political famine will also lead to inevitable chaos and calamity of a kind to push more people underground. Make no mistake police now chase those who went underground in the aftermath of the brutality endured before and after 2014 election. And we warned.
Today, not only the people of Bangladesh are watching closely how patriotic are their leaders who so far had shown much disdain to resolving differences through dialogue, the global observers are also relentless in demanding an inclusive election sooner. Prior to the January 2014 election, the UN Secretary General had dispatched his good offices to bring together the BNP and the AL, without any success. So did other development partners. The world then overlooked the AL’s re-capture of power in an election won without contest as a one off aberration. No more it shall, and will.
The UN said in a dispatch on January 6, 2014 that “Bangladeshi citizens were denied a genuine opportunity to exercise their democratic franchise on Sunday January 5, as national elections marred by violence, boycott and political tensions overshadowed the vote.” Last week, a UN spokesperson once again reiterated its demand for an inclusive and fair election in Bangladesh.
It’s time the government realises the risk it runs by insisting on holding another election without BNP’s participation, and the BNP asking something that cannot be rationally and constitutionally reconciled. Meanwhile, alarming messages from both the quarters and the security forces’ extra judicial killings are conflating the portrait of a nation on the verge of implosion. 

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GDP GROWTH
Debate over growth rate may shift focus from real issue
Sayed Kamaluddin
 
The rate of the country’s GDP (gross domestic product) growth has remained a debating point for long and this year is no exception. The government and the World Bank’s Dhaka office have projected two different growth rates (7.24 and 6.8 percent respectively) but the good news is that the difference is very   marginal (0.44 percentage point) and both figures are good by global standards.
Full Story
Sayed Kamaluddin
 
The rate of the country’s GDP (gross domestic product) growth has remained a debating point for long and this year is no exception. The government and the World Bank’s Dhaka office have projected two different growth rates (7.24 and 6.8 percent respectively) but the good news is that the difference is very   marginal (0.44 percentage point) and both figures are good by global standards.
Planning Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal earlier last week announced at the end of the National Economic Council (NEC) meeting that the country’s GDP growth during the FY2016-17 has been estimated to have grown at 7.24 percent and the next year (FY2017-18) is projected to grow by 7.4 percent. “Our ultimate goal is to cross the 8 percent mark,” the minister added.
 
The growth trajectory
Projecting an optimistic economic growth trajectory, the planning minister pointed out that Bangladesh is now one of the fastest growing economies in the world; and in fact, “we are just behind India in terms of economic growth.”
According to details of the provisional estimates released by the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS), the agriculture sector grew during FY2016-17 by 3.4 percent compared to 2.79 percent last year.  The planning minister added that this estimate has taken into consideration the loss of 600,000 tons rice in the flood in haor areas.
Likewise, the services sector grew 6.5 percent, (6.25 percent during FY2015-16) while industrial output growth slowed to 10.5 percent against 11.09 percent the year before. BBS estimates further added that small industries grew faster than the large and medium one in the current fiscal and indicated a slowdown in export growth.
In the services sector, wholesale retail trade, real estate, restaurant and transport sectors performed well but financial sector slowed down. However, the higher GDP growth pushed the per capita income to $1,602 during FY2016-17, an increase of 9.35 percent year-on-year.
 
The World Bank estimate
As it so happened, the Washington-based World Bank’s (WB) presentation of its annual Bangladesh Development Update also coincided with that of NEC announcement by the planning minister. However, the WB estimated that the Bangladesh economy is expected to grow by 6.8 percent this fiscal year and pointed to three factors for this slower growth projection. Two of these three factors are major drivers of the economy; they are export which was sluggish and the other one is income from remittances that fell by 16 percent during the year.  Besides, slowing down in settlement of letters of credit for industrial raw materials also mattered.
The Update was presented by the WB country director for Bangladesh, Bhutan and Nepal Qimiao Fan and lead economist Zahid Hussain. In this context, an interesting conversation that took place between a newsperson and the WB’s Zahid Hussain needs special mention. He replied, when asked why the World Bank’s growth projections always remain lower than the BBS projections, “What’s the (WB’s) benefit of making conservative projections?”.
He however, pointed out that both the growth figures are good and debating over the minor discrepancy would only distract the attention from the real issue. He said, investment, exports and remittances have slowed down compared to last year and these should be discussed in details. The WB Update suggested that most of other indicators have performed better than last year.
Hussain said: “We see from statistics that investment is rising. But it is not clear where these investments take place and at what amount.” Export growth during the first 10 months of FY2016-17 stood at 3.9 percent as against 9.2 percent registered a year earlier.
He has also said that the WB estimate did not include crop and other damages caused by the flash flood in haor areas in its calculation.

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Modi’s Beijing policy is like cutting off India’s nose to spite China’s face

Prem Shankar Jha
in New Delhi
 
India’s strategic thinkers have been quick to conclude that China’s goal is to cut India off from the rest of Asia. But this is a frog-in-the-well kind of perspective.
For three years, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been indulging in acts of bravado in foreign policy that he believes, or wants the people of India to believe, are acts of bravery. The most recent is his boycott of the One Belt One Road (OBOR) forum meeting held in Beijing last week.
Full Story
Prem Shankar Jha
in New Delhi
 
India’s strategic thinkers have been quick to conclude that China’s goal is to cut India off from the rest of Asia. But this is a frog-in-the-well kind of perspective.
For three years, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been indulging in acts of bravado in foreign policy that he believes, or wants the people of India to believe, are acts of bravery. The most recent is his boycott of the One Belt One Road (OBOR) forum meeting held in Beijing last week.
Delhi’s poppycock reason
New Delhi’s official reason for not attending the meeting is that the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) passes through Gilgit, which has been illegally occupied by Pakistan since 1947. Attending the meeting would, therefore, risk conceding sovereignty over Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (POK) to Pakistan. But this is poppycock.
The CPEC passes through the same territory as the Karakoram highway that China built in the 1960s. India has been lodging formal protests over this for the past fifty years. But this has not prevented it from increasing its trade with China by more than 20 times, and cooperating with it on all kinds of strategic and environmental issues in various international fora. Modi could have safeguarded India’s legal position on Gilgit by issuing a similar formal caveat. But by making the recognition of Gilgit’s disputed status by China a pre-condition, Modi has cut India’s nose off to spite China’s face.
For India, the gains from OBOR would not have accrued so much from the investments in roads, railways and ports that it envisages, but from the immense investments that China would have liked to make in India’s infrastructure. Indian strategic thinkers have been quick to conclude that China’s goal is to cut India off from the rest of Asia, and destroy its hegemony in South Asia. But this is a frog-in-the-well kind of perspective, for China has far more compelling reasons.
First, it is an industrial juggernaut that produces close to half of all the consumer goods traded in the world and therefore needs safe trade routes more than any other country. India does not lie on any global trade route so OBOR cannot go through India. But all India has to do to benefit from it is invest in links to it via Bangladesh and Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Nepal and, one day, Pakistan.
 
Why China so keen
Second, China is willing to spend colossal sums on OBOR because it desperately wants alternatives to the sea lanes it relies on for its oil, and its trade with Europe and Africa. Half of its exports, and 90% of its oil passes through the Malacca straits and the South China Sea. With 400 US military installations spread in an arc around it and carrier fleets equipped with thousands of Tomahawk missiles cruising the South China Sea, its wish to insure against a blockade of the kind that the US imposed on oil supplies to Japan in 1940 is understandable.
But its most pressing concern is to find orders for its huge capital goods industry. While India’s industrial production is wasting away because of its acute shortage of up-to-date infrastructure, China is literally suffocating in excess capacity. China produces more than 800 million tonnes of steel a year, almost exactly half of the world’s output, and has run out of places in which to use it. The provincial governments have built all the airports, container ports and all-weather highway they could think of. Starting with a single line with 20 pairs of bullet trains in 2005, the Chinese have built 19,000 km of high speed train track and are running 2,300 pairs of bullet trains on them today. And residential and commercial space is so overbuilt that as far back as 2013 China had 55 million square metres of unoccupied apartments.
The world market too is saturated and in a recession. Beijing’s attempt to dump some of its steel on it last year caused a crash in prices that forced US Steel to lay off 39,000 employees, and precipitated a crisis in Arcelor-Mittal. The global outcry that followed forced it to promise to close down 150 million tonnes of steel making capacity by 2020. That is almost twice the entire steel-making capacity of India today.
 
Reaction was too hasty
Overcapacity is even greater in its heavy engineering industries – the industries that build the industries that manufacture its products. In the four years that ended in December 2015, China added more than 300,000 MW – more than India’s entire power generating capacity – to its coal power generating capacity. But it was able to bring only a fraction of it into use, and that too only by reducing the capacity utilisation in existing plants.
Today, the only orders these plants are getting are from enterprises that are modernising their existing production capacity.
OBOR is an extension of China’s original shift of investment to the western provinces, and is the only way left to keep the millions of workers in the heavy industries employed. But just the ‘belt’ and ‘road’ as conceived today will not suffice. For that China needs India to become a partner, for while the combined GDP (in hard currency) of the seven countries in which the bulk of OBOR investments are currently envisaged: Russia, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Pakistan and Malaysia was $2.1 trillion in 2015, that of India alone was $2.256 trillion.
India’s joining OBOR could, therefore, make the difference between a quick, relatively painless recovery from its recession and a prolonged, painful one. Its keenness to have India join is reflected in two articles published in the Global Times on March 20 and May 7 this year.
 
India matters too
In the first, the writer explicitly conceded the validity of India’s concerns over the sovereignty issue but asked New Delhi to distinguish between “normal commercial investment and ones that could violate India’s sovereignty”. In the second, written only last week, the writer said, “Beijing respects New Delhi’s sovereignty concerns” and pointed out that “China’s infrastructural initiative will not only bring economic benefits, but also fulfil India’s ambition to be an influential economic power in the region”.
The significance of these articles is that they were written after Modi replaced cooperation with confrontation in India’s relations with China. They indicate, therefore, that China still attaches greater importance to economic cooperation with India in OBOR than to its growing political differences with the Modi government. The benefits, especially in terms of ease of doing business and increase in employment that would flow to an investment starved India do not need to be spelt out. But these do not seem to matter to Modi.

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First death anniv. of journo Sadeq Khan observed
Holiday Desk
 
The first death anniversary of eminent journalist Sadeq Khan (1936–2016), Contributing Editor of the Holiday since its inception in September 1965, was observed last week.
An Ekushey Padak winner, and a leading light in the intellectual arena, he breathed his last on 16 May, 2016.
Through his analytical columns and articles in both English and Bengali, Sadeq Khan championed the cause of the people’s civil liberties till the last day of his life. During the Liberation War, Sadeq Khan worked with the Bangladesh government in exile and was informally assigned for logistic support and external publicity, keeping connection with the Sector Commanders and cultural activists.
Full Story
Holiday Desk
 
The first death anniversary of eminent journalist Sadeq Khan (1936–2016), Contributing Editor of the Holiday since its inception in September 1965, was observed last week.
An Ekushey Padak winner, and a leading light in the intellectual arena, he breathed his last on 16 May, 2016.
Through his analytical columns and articles in both English and Bengali, Sadeq Khan championed the cause of the people’s civil liberties till the last day of his life. During the Liberation War, Sadeq Khan worked with the Bangladesh government in exile and was informally assigned for logistic support and external publicity, keeping connection with the Sector Commanders and cultural activists.
He also worked for mobilising global support in favour of the war of independence getting in touch with Justice Abu Sayeed Chowdhury in London and Andre Malreaux in France, in October-November, 1971.

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The US embassy will stay in Tel Aviv

Dr. Ludwig Watzal in Bonn
 
The US embassy will not be moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem before a peace deal between Israel and Palestine is reached. Having talked to the Arab leaders, US President Donald Trump and his Secretary of State Rex Tillerson have finally understood the importance of such a move.
Full Story
Dr. Ludwig Watzal in Bonn
 
The US embassy will not be moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem before a peace deal between Israel and Palestine is reached. Having talked to the Arab leaders, US President Donald Trump and his Secretary of State Rex Tillerson have finally understood the importance of such a move.
It would be an offense not only for the Arab world but also for international relations, international law, and the US in particular.  Saying something on the campaign trail is one thing, acting as US President means something else.
 
‘Netanyahu is a liar’: Sarkozy
The Trump administration will weigh the decision in the light whether it will support the peace process or not. Trump should not be led astray by Benjamin Netanyahu who argues that such a move would help the peace process and would shatter Palestinians fantasies. So far, Israel never made concessions after they Right-wing Education Minister Naftali Bennet called on Netanyahu that he should tell President Trump to move the embassy because “united Jerusalem under Israeli sovereignty.” This kind of “independence” is an Israeli wishful thinking because the international community doesn’t recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital because the city is still under Israeli occupation. The moving of the embassy would only strengthen the Israeli position and would make the Netanyahu government more rejectionist.
Despite Trump’s pro-Israel bias, the national interest of the US still prevails over the dictate of a tiny country, at least for the time being. Especially one guy is extremely furious: Casino mogul and Zionist billionaire Sheldon Adelson who donated millions of US dollars to the Trump campaign and who wants his wishes fulfilled.
Adelson, it is said, reacted furiously after Tillerson’s comments on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” The casino tycoon was also upset because the Trump administration hasn’t hired some of the one-sided Middle East advisers from the Clinton or George W. Bush administration. If Trump is smart, he should not rely on these people because they all put Israeli interests over US ones.
 
Trump could learn from mistakes
If the Trump administration moved the US embassy to Jerusalem, the US would isolate itself on the international scene. The self-image of a so-called “honest broker” wouldn’t mean a thing. At least, right now, it means little. On October 23, 1995, the US Congress passed “The Jerusalem Embassy Act” to foster the move to the US embassy. But up till now, every US President had paid lip service to this call but didn’t act. So, why should Trump keep his campaign promise?
The Trump administration should put pressure on Netanyahu to stop the expansion of settlements to restore its credibility in the Middle East. Netanyahu will do everything in the world, to drag the US into a war with Iran. Obama could resist this pressure. Hopefully, Trump will also for the benefit of the US. Israel wants to destroy Iran, to expand its hegemony from the Persian Gulf to Marrocco. To control this region, Iran is the last obstacle.
Perhaps the Trump administration has learned something from the mistakes made by George W. Bush. He has led the US into never ending wars against fictitious wars on terror. As a candidate, Trump seemed to have understood it. Will he be as wise as US president?
 
Dr. Ludwig Watzal works as a journalist and editor in Bonn, Germany. He runs the bilingual blog between the lines. http://between-the-lines-ludwig-watzal.blogspot.de/

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RSS to produce Nazi-style ‘Aryan’ babies in India

Shamsul Islam
in New Delhi
 
According to press reports, one of the RSS offshoots, Garbh Vigyan Sanskar (Uterus Science Culture), following the Vedic preaching and post-World War II experiments in Germany, is conducting live trials in many parts of India for producing ‘fair’ and ‘tall’ ‘customised’ babies. According to Dr. Hitesh Jani, convenor of Arogya Bharati, another outfit of RSS which is part of the project, “If the proper procedure is followed, babies of dark-skinned parents with lesser height can have fair complexion and grow taller”.
Full Story
Shamsul Islam
in New Delhi
 
According to press reports, one of the RSS offshoots, Garbh Vigyan Sanskar (Uterus Science Culture), following the Vedic preaching and post-World War II experiments in Germany, is conducting live trials in many parts of India for producing ‘fair’ and ‘tall’ ‘customised’ babies. According to Dr. Hitesh Jani, convenor of Arogya Bharati, another outfit of RSS which is part of the project, “If the proper procedure is followed, babies of dark-skinned parents with lesser height can have fair complexion and grow taller”.
Speaking to a prominent English daily of India, top office-bearers associated with this “top-priority” project of RSS, shared the facts that “it was launched in Gujarat over a decade ago, and taken up at the national level in 2015. Today, the project, assisted by the Sangh’s education wing Vidya Bharati, has around 10 branches in Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh, with more units to come up soon in Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal”.
 
Nazy-style customized baby
According to Dr Karishma Mohandas Narwani, national convener of the project, “Our main objective is to make a samarth Bharat (capable India) through uttam santati (best off- springs). Our target is to have thousands of such babies by 2020”. According to the managers of this venture, this project was inspired on the advice of a senior RSS ideologue, received over 40 years ago, who found Germany had “resurrected itself by having such signature children through Ayurvedic practices within two decades after World War II”. Dr Ashok Kumar Varshney, an RSS pracharak for over 30 years and national organising secretary of Arogya Bharati, said that apart from a university in Jamnagar, two other institutions have incorporated Garbh Vigyan Sanskar in their curriculum: Children University in Gandhinagar and Atal Bihari Vajpayee Hindi University in Bhopal.
The project claims to have ensured the delivery of 450 “customised babies” so far, and its target is to have a Garbh Vigyan Anusandhan Kendra, a facilitation centre, in every state by 2020.The aim of this project is that women should deliver an “uttam santati”; a perfect, “customised child”. The process requires three months of “shuddhikaran (purification)” for parents, intercourse at a time decided by planetary configurations, complete abstinence after the baby is conceived, and procedural and dietary regulations. In order to spread the goal of producing ‘tall’ and ‘fair’ babies several seminars and counselling sessions have been held in Delhi, Mumbai, and smaller cities such as Udupi in Karnataka, Kasaragod in Kerala, and Visakhapatnam and Vijayawada in Andhra Pradesh.
The next counselling sessions are scheduled to be held in Kolkata, Rohtak and Gurgaon. The RSS is hopeful that by 2020 to have thousands of ideal infants on the production line.
 
Racist breeding policy of RSS
This RSS love for ‘fair’ and ‘tall’ babies and subsequent hatred for ‘dark-skinned’ people is being proclaimed soon after another RSS ideologue, Tarun Vijay. Tarun Vijay, the former editor of RSS Hindi organ, Panchajanya, in-charge of the RSS project of spreading Hindutva politics in Tamil Nadu, ex-member of the Rajya Sabha who also heads India-Africa Parliamentary Friendship Group while talking to a global news network had stated that White Indians from North of the country were living with “black people around us” who inhabited in Tamilnadu, Kerala, Karnataka and Andhra. Tarun’s statement reemphasized the racist understanding of RSS about India; North Indians are White (Aryans) whereas South Indians are Black (Dravidians) thus belonging to two different races. The Aryans of the North are doing a favour to Black South Indians by allowing the latter to stay with the former.
This RSS love for a Race which is of “fair” complexion is part of its ideological heritage that Indians are Aryans; fair, tall, honourable, respectable and noble who speak Sanskrit. RSS stands for Aryan supremacy and believes that only Hindu Brahmins of North India are from that stock. The most prominent ideologue of RSS and second Supremo, Guru Golwalkar while addressing a gathering of faculty and students of the School of Social Science of Gujarat University on December 17, 1960 shared the wisdom that Namboodri Brahmins from North India were sent to Kerala to improve breed of Hindus there.
 
Racial superiority
He said: “Today experiments in cross-breeding are made only on animals. But the courage to make such experiments on human beings is not shown even by the so-called modern scientist of today. If some human crossbreeding is seen today it is the result not of scientific experiments but of carnal lust. Now let us see the experiments our ancestors made in this sphere. In an effort to better the human species through cross-breeding the Namboodri Brahamanas [sic] of the North were settled in Kerala and a rule was laid down that the eldest son of a Namboodri family could marry only the daughter of Vaishya, Kashtriya or Shudra communities of Kerala. Another still more courageous rule was that the first off-spring of a married woman of any class must be fathered by a Namboodri Brahman and then she could beget children by her husband.”
The above statement of Golwalkar once again as a hardened Racist stressed the belief India had a superior Race or breed and also an inferior Race which needed to be improved through crossbreeding.  Namboodri Brahamans, belonging to a superior Race were sent from the North to Kerala to improve the breed of inferior Hindus there.
The RSS belief of Aryan superiority has been borrowed from Hitler and his Nazi Party of Germany. Adolf Hitler even before becoming chancellor of Germany was obsessed with ideas about race. He believed in racial “purity” and in the superiority of the “Germanic race” which he described as Aryan “master race.” He declared this Aryan race must remain pure in order to rule the world one day which was not far away.  According to Hitler, the ideal “Aryan” was blond, blue-eyed, and tall.
 
Hitler’s reproductive policy
When Hitler and the Nazis came to power, these beliefs became the government ideology and were spread in publicly displayed posters, on the radio, in movies, in classrooms, and in newspapers. The Nazis began to put their ideology into practice with the support of German scientists who believed that the human race could be improved by limiting the reproduction of people considered “inferior.” Beginning in 1933, German physicians were allowed to perform forced sterilizations, operations making it impossible for the victims to have children. Among the targets of this public program were Roma (Gypsies), an ethnic minority numbering about 30,000 in Germany, and handicapped individuals, including the mentally ill and people born deaf and blind. Also victimized were about 500 African-German children, the offspring of German mothers and African colonial soldiers in the Allied armies that occupied the German Rhineland region after World War I.
When Hitler and the Nazis came to power, these beliefs became the government ideology and were spread in publicly displayed posters, on the radio, in movies, in classrooms, and in newspapers. The Nazis began to put their ideology into practice with the support of German scientists who believed that the human race could be improved by limiting the reproduction of people considered “inferior.” Beginning in 1933, German physicians were allowed to perform forced sterilizations, operations making it impossible for the victims to have children. Among the targets of this public program were Roma (Gypsies), an ethnic minority numbering about 30,000 in Germany, and handicapped individuals, including the mentally ill and people born deaf and blind. Also victimized were about 500 African-German children, the offspring of German mothers and African colonial soldiers in the Allied armies that occupied the German Rhineland region after World War I.
 
Extermination of non-Aryans
In fact, the present project of RSS aimed at producing ‘fair’ and ‘tall’ ‘customised’ babies is direct borrowing from the Nazis’ “Lebensborn” (“Spring of Life”) program to create an Aryan master race. Under this project of breeding of children of pure Aryan race, some 8,000 children were born in Germany and around 12,000 in Norway as part of “Lebensborn” under the direct supervision Nazi theoretician and leader, Heinrich Himmler to encourage women of “pure blood” to bear fair-tall Aryan children. Interestingly, most of such bred children did not grow into fair-tall and blond babies. However, it was an integral part of a murderous racial policy that on the one hand aimed at producing pure Aryan children and on the other hand exterminating non-Aryans like Jews, 6 million of them killed and the forced sterilization of people with hereditary diseases.
The RSS project of “uttam santati”; a white and tall “customised child” in its first gear attempts to follow the Nazi Racist project, ”Lebensborn”. As a natural corollary, soon it will go for the second part of the project like Nazis; eliminating all those Indians who are not found to be “Aryan” of pure blood. It is to be noted that Hindutva gang historically has been worshipper of Nazi ideals. The most prominent ideologue of RSS even penned a highly despicable book We Or Our Nationhood Defined in 1939. In this book, Golwalkar not only glorified cleansing of millions of Jews by Hitler but also advised the Hindutva organizations in India to emulate the Nazis in exterminating Muslims and Christians who were not “Aryans”.
However, these will not be only Muslims and Christians who will face the lynching mobs but also most of the South Indian who have been already been declared as “Black”.
 
 
Shamsul Islam is a retired Professor of University of Delhi. Email: notoinjustice@gmail.com http://du-in.academia.edu/ShamsulIslam
Countercurrents.org

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Faruq Chowdhury passes away

Holiday Desk
 
Former foreign secretary and ambassador Faruq Ahmed Chowdhury passed away at a city hospital early Wednesday. He was 84,
Apart from his old-age complications, he had been suffering from heart and kidney problems for a long time. He is survived by wife, one daughter, one son and a host of relatives and admirers.
His first namaz-e-janaja was held at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs after johr prayer, and then after asr at Baitul Aman Mosque in Dhanmondhi Road 7. He was laid to rest at Azimpur graveyard. Born in 1934, Faruq A Chowdhury entered the Pakistan Foreign Service in 1956 and subsequently held various appointments in the Pakistan Foreign Office and Missions abroad.
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Holiday Desk
 
Former foreign secretary and ambassador Faruq Ahmed Chowdhury passed away at a city hospital early Wednesday. He was 84,
Apart from his old-age complications, he had been suffering from heart and kidney problems for a long time. He is survived by wife, one daughter, one son and a host of relatives and admirers.
His first namaz-e-janaja was held at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs after johr prayer, and then after asr at Baitul Aman Mosque in Dhanmondhi Road 7. He was laid to rest at Azimpur graveyard. Born in 1934, Faruq A Chowdhury entered the Pakistan Foreign Service in 1956 and subsequently held various appointments in the Pakistan Foreign Office and Missions abroad.
Upon the emergence of Bangladesh, he was appointed the first Chief of Protocol of Bangladesh in 1972. He served as Deputy High Commissioner of Bangladesh in the United Kingdom from 1972-76.
During this period, he was involved with final phase of the negotiations leading to Bangladesh’s entry to the Commonwealth. Later he was Ambassador to UAE, Bahrain and subsequently was Ambassador to EEC and Benelux countries from 1978-82.
After returning to the headquarters in 1982, he became the Chief Coordinator of the 13th OIC Foreign Ministers’ Meeting held in Dhaka in 1983. He was Additional Foreign Secretary in the Ministry from 1983-84. He became Foreign Secretary in 1984 and posted to India as Bangladesh High Commissioner from 1986-92. After retirement from the government service in 1992, Choudhury associated himself with social services and authored a number of books.
He also served Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee (BRAC), the world’s largest NGOs in different capacities.
Meanwhile, President M Abdul Hamid expressed his condolences and deep shock at the former Foreign Secretary’s death. In a condolence message the President conveyed sympathy to the bereaved family members.
The President also prayed for eternal peace of the departed soul.

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VAT rate fixed at 12%

Faruque Ahmed
 
The Finance Minister’s conciliatory stance to increase VAT rate to 12 percent under the next fiscal 2017-18 instead of 15 percent appears a good step. The existing VAT rate is 7 percent. It will immensely increase the government revenue with lower impact on businesses.
But what remains to be seen if huge revenue collection without improving the quality of public expenditure can bring about the desired growth. Achieving higher growth needs plugging huge corruption and misuse of public funds too. It also needs stopping capital flight which has been estimated to be at its peak.
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Faruque Ahmed
 
The Finance Minister’s conciliatory stance to increase VAT rate to 12 percent under the next fiscal 2017-18 instead of 15 percent appears a good step. The existing VAT rate is 7 percent. It will immensely increase the government revenue with lower impact on businesses.
But what remains to be seen if huge revenue collection without improving the quality of public expenditure can bring about the desired growth. Achieving higher growth needs plugging huge corruption and misuse of public funds too. It also needs stopping capital flight which has been estimated to be at its peak.
The new VAT law was passed in 2012 in line with the IMF guidelines but its implementation was on hold on pressures from the business community which wanted more time. But now Muhith is determined to implement the new VAT law from FY 2017-18.
The Finance Minister remained focused mainly on his higher revenue target which he thought would rise by up to 30 percent next year. Pointing to the extent of tax evasion, Mr. Muhith had earlier said that “there are ‘more than 800,000 small- and medium businessmen who submitted income tax returns last year. But only 32,000 are paying income taxes.”
Meanwhile the Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD) recommended cutting prices of kerosene and diesel in the next budget for the benefit of lower income people. “Prices must be reduced. Making profit from these fuels is not justified from social point of view as poor people use them,” CPD researcher Towfiqul Islam Khan said pointing to its impact on higher utility prices that affect the poor.
CPD also called for 12 percent VAT instead of 15.  It said, the recommendations made by IMF are not sustainable here.

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