India

Kashmir: the poisoned legacy of partition

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The plight of the Kashmiris has long roots, stretching back to the end of Empire and the division of India after the Second World War.

Kashmir is the most militarised region on the planet. An estimated half a million Indian security personnel police a population of about 7 million.

About 80,000 have been killed in an insurgency against Indian rule. From 2016, shotguns filled with lead pellets have been used for “crowd control”, deliberately fired to blind civilian protesters. Stories of torture, rape and abduction abound among the mainly Muslim population.

‘Every single Viceroy of India, whether they liked it or not, had to deal with Gandhi’

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Harjeevan Gill speaks to author and historian Talat Ahmed about her new biography of Mohandas Gandhi, the battle over his legacy in India today and what Extinction Rebellion can learn from him.

There’s been so much written about Gandhi. What was the motivation behind writing your book?

Yes there are lots of books about Gandhi — you could fill an entire library with the number of biographies and political theses. Some of the literature is very good indeed and there are lots of historical works dating back 30 or 40 years where historians have mined all kinds of archival material in order to try and make sense of Gandhi. Much of that work has been very useful and it certainly influenced me in my own thinking.

Mohandas Gandhi: Experiments in Civil Disobedience

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Talat Ahmed’s new book chronicles the life of Mohandas Gandhi, who was one of the leaders in the Indian Independence movement. She critically examines Gandhi’s political career and provides an understanding on how socialists should view him and his legacy. This is important because, in the UK especially, Indian history is taught with a rose-tinted lens regarding either the British state or Gandhi himself.

India: Poverty behind the tiger

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India's growing economy has benefited a corrupt elite. But the masses only get poorer.

November's deadly attacks in Mumbai had one peculiar side-effect on the British media. Journalists were forced out into the streets and discovered that the vast majority of the city's population are still poor.

Since then the deep contrast between the lives of India's upper middle class and that of the mass of people has been emphasised in Aravind Adiga's Man Booker Prize winning novel, The White Tiger, and Danny Boyle's rags to riches film, Slumdog Millionaire.

Letter from India

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India's ruling class is growing ever closer to US imperialism, reports Kavita Krishnan.

The Indian media lost no time in naming last year's Mumbai terror attack "26/11" or "India's 9/11" - displaying unseemly pride in India's enhanced "status" as a US ally and a target of global terror.

In contrast to such a sentiment, thousands of workers, agricultural labourers, young people and students marched to parliament in the Indian capital of Delhi on 12 December 2008, a fortnight after the Mumbai attack, with slogans and placards that told the Indian government to "stop importing terror and economic crisis from the US!"

Letter from India

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Peasants and small farmers across India are fighting government land grabs for "Special Economic Zones", where multinational companies can make their own laws. Kavita Krishnan reports.

Kalinganagar and Paradeep in the state of Orissa and Nandigram in West Bengal are some of the emerging centres in the Indian countryside where the rural poor are waging pitched battles against corporate land grabs.

Rural India has been reeling under the onslaught of the policies of imperialist globalisation for over a decade. A recent study reveals that there have been nearly 150,000 farmer suicides in India between 1997 and 2005, and there have been incidences of starvation deaths in many Indian states.

A great British tradition

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Government spin on the role of British forces around the world portrays them as gallant beret-wearing chaps just trying to help. Writer and anti-war activist John Newsinger recalls the events of the Great Indian Rebellion 150 years ago this month, which show how far this is from the truth

The British Empire has always responded to any resistance to its rule with ferocious repression. In 1857 the Great Indian Rebellion posed a massive challenge to the British Empire. It was suppressed with unprecedented brutality. The British adopted a policy of "no prisoners", a policy which was enforced by means of massacre and mass executions. One officer, Thomas Lowe, later remembered how on one occasion his unit had taken 76 prisoners (they were just too tired to carry on killing and needed a rest, he recalled).

An Enemy of Empire

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Chris Harman is impressed by a new collection of Marx's journalistic writings on India which helps demolish the myths that Marx was a supporter of 'progressive' imperialism.

"The Roman divide et impera (divide and rule) was the great rule by which Great Britain contrived to retain possession of her Indian Empire. The antagonism of various races, tribes, castes, creeds and sovereignties continued to be the vital principle of British supremacy... 200,000,000 natives being curbed by a native army of 200,000 men officered by Englishmen, and that native army in turn being kept in check by an English army numbering 40,000 only... How far that native army can be relied upon is clearly shown by its recent mutinies...

India: Songs That Sow the Seeds of Division

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Readers of this magazine will doubtless be familiar with the rampaging anti-Muslim bias which afflicts the media in the West. Unfortunately, the same attitudes are also rooted in large sections of the media in India - even those which pride themselves in being "secular" and "progressive".

Some weeks ago, they were awash with reports about Muslims who were protesting against the suggestion that all children studying in schools be forced to sing the Vande Mataram song - with numerous newspapers, television channels and politicians declaring that it was India's "national song". Refusal to sing, they claimed, was thoroughly "unpatriotic" and even "anti-national". Once again, Muslims in India were forced to prove their loyalty.

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