Monday, May 28, 2007

Equity of Faith in Secular India ?

Review Article

Christians: A Faith under assault in Secular India

By Vidya Bhushan Rawat

Christians from all over India are gathering to protest against the Hindutva assault on their faiths in different parts of the country. On May 29th, 2007, when they all assemble at Jantar Mantar seeking government’s intervention to protect their institutions and people, it would remind all of us that in plural society, every one need to appreciate the contribution of linguistic and religious minorities in its development. The gathering of the Christians therefore should not be seen in isolation and must have support from all of us who believe that best bet for India’s survival is cohesiveness of different ethnic, religious, secular groups. In the past few months, the goons of the Hindutva have targeted the community and their faith leaders in various north Indian states particularly Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh, Orissa, Chhatisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab and Gujarat. States like Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh where Christian population is abysmally low are bringing out special laws to prohibit conversion. Orissa, Madhya Pradesh, Chhatishgarh, Jharkhand have already enacted laws prohibiting conversion. It is these states where extra constitutional groups of the Hindutva have taken it on themselves to do not only moral policing over people’s behavior but also convert the tribal and dalits back to brahmanical fold. With Hindutva devotees at the seats of power, the goons are having free day to kill any one at their will. The assaults on Christian institutions have wider implications. The freedom of the gangs of Hindutva has become agony for all peace loving people including the minorities. We must also understand that minorities suffer from certain dilemmas and such assault isolate them further and strengthen the theocratic leadership in the community. Moreover, the assault on Muslims and Christians is deliberate to suppress the internal contradictions with in the Varna system. With UP gone out of their hand, the Sangh Parivar would re-launch its assault on the Muslims and Christians so that the assertion of Dalits, adivasis and backward classes is diverted against the ‘enemies’ and Brahmins and brahmindom have an unchallenged supremacy in the broader Hindu Samaj.

In many of these states the Bharatiya Janata Party, the political wing of the Hindutva’s discriminating and destructive ideology, is in power. Much before they slaughtered Muslims in Gujarat in 2002, it was the Christians, their churches and their educational institutions, which were targeted by the Hindutva’s lumpen organizations. This unaccountability of the Hindutva and its various offshoots emerge from the open encouragement and support from the ruling parties in these states. It is not only outrageous but also unconstitutional that the state governments run by the Bharatiya Janata Party behave conspicuously and in double speak justifying these assaults in the name of intrusion of foreign culture and threat to India’s unity.

Look, what happened in Gujarat today where the Kolis are up in the street seeking justice. Narendra Modi never loses sight of targeting the Muslims and Christians, whom he fears, are proselytizing the tribal by throwing money at them. Absolutely farcical Mr. Modi, Gujarati Banias and Brahmins have enough money to buy equally great product as the evangelical groups, so please suggest them to go in the villages, sit with the Dalits and tribals, share their agonies and pains. But we know it well, that is impossible in brahmanical Gujarat who used the multiculturalism of the west for their benefits but became Hindu chauvinists when the issue of multiculturalism cropped up in their own state. In other way, Gujarat’s psyche has become totally brahmanised and a mere change of Narendra Modi would not work. An assertion of Dalits, Adivasis and backward communities (Gujarat’s backward are Hinduised), for their political rights in coalition with Muslims and Christians, would pave the way for throwing a challenge against the current Hindutva culture prevailing in the state.

One of the issues that John Dayal has raised in his book is the issue of right to profess the faith of your choice. The Hindutva groups obviously are not comfortable with it as they feel it as a threat. But conversion is a political tool and apolitical conversion has cost Dalits a lot. The first conversion that jolted the brahmanical structure was not in 1951 when Baba Saheb Ambedkar embraced Buddhism in 1951 but the 1982 conversion of hundreds of Dalits to Islam in Meenakhsipuram, in Tamilnadu. For Hindutva every body who is dissatisfied with their faith has been paid handsome amount of money to convert. Unfortunately, that is where the problem lies, as most of the converts are still much below the poverty line. If conversion had fetched good money and good life in monitory terms, I am sure the Brahmins, Banias and other upper caste Hindus would have been the first to grab the opportunity.

We also tend to ignore the fact that the government has itself divided various Dalit communities. It has knowingly done the biggest conversion in the history of India for including Dalits, tribal, Buddhists, Sikhs, Jains and all those who are not a Muslim or Christian, into a Hindu category. That has been the biggest blunder and conversion in the history of India and must be opposed with as all these communities have their distinct cultural identities. Opposition to Dalit converts come from that fact Dalits are considered as Hindus. So the government, the Hindu reformist want them to first face the untouchability and social oppression again to get the benefit of the reservation?

Despite my deep antipathy for Justice Rang Nath Mishra for the horrible and politically motivated report that he presented for the 1984 victims, the latest efforts by the Mishra Commission need our support, because it strengthen defend the right of an individual to profess any faith at the personal level without loosing his fundamental right. Asha Das’s objections must be rejected before it takes dangerous turn. Nevertheless, it is also essential for the Church and Christian leaders to introspect about their Dalit agenda. It is easier for them to ask from the government for the rights of the Dalit Christians but at the same point of time, let them come out categorically as what efforts have they made to empower Dalits with in their community. A Community which has in its possession India’s best known colleges, medical colleges, Engineering colleges, media institutions, academic institutions etc. What percentage of reservation has been given to Dalits and tribals in these institutions? If Christians were really willing to mobilize the Dalits on their side, empty slogans would not work. They have to be seen to be working for the Dalits. They cannot expect Dalits to follow their upper caste leadership.

Christians are not hated in power structure even when the Hindutva thugs target their priests. One of the reason for that is that the growing feeling that Christian own large educational institutions which actually strengthen the Hindutva. The bitterest critique of Christendom comes from those who were educated at these prestigious institutions. They will not targets prestigious institutions in Delhi, Mumbai or elsewhere because most of their family members come out from these colleges. We must understand the philosophy behind this as my friend Ram Puniyani often suggest. That the RSS and its Parivar have most of their ideologues coming from these institutions but when the church and its educational institutions goes in the villages and teach English and modern education to Adivasis and Dalits, that raises eyebrows. Education would open the mind of these people and will instigate them to challenge the racist philosophy of Hindutva. Tomorrow they will challenge the concept of merit of the upper castes? Unfortunately, this is not the case. Barring a few exceptions, things have not worked. Education is for profiteering and not much has been done at the village level. There have been compromises from the Christian leadership on this issue and their stand on the emancipation of Dalits and reservation.

Amid all this, one person who has unequivocally and uncompromisingly spoke against Hindutva and its fundamentalist ideology is, Dr John Dayal. For the past few years, he has been very active putting the political agenda of the community and taking a strong action line against the communal outfits though it is also a known fact that for his strong secular approach and convictions he is not the best person of the religious leadership.

‘A Matter of Equity: Freedom of Faith in Secular India’, is an outstanding work of John Dayal. Though a large number of articles have been compiled and updated for what were published in the Indian Currents yet bringing them all together with other important documents, this book serve a great purpose for all those who are interested to know about the Christian community and its work in India as well as the vitriolic campaign of the Sangh Parivar against the Christian Educational Institutions

John Dayal has not only been a critique of the Sangh Parivar and its goons but he has asked the Church also to look for its role. He had documented major violence against Christians in the last 10 years. May he get the strength to document and assist other secular groups also, those who may not like the evangelical groups very much like their disliking for the Muslim and Hindu radical groups. Yes, John Dayal is Christian community’s secular face who has stood against all kind of oppression, for the freedom of expression, which he has so wonderfully documented in his book with Ajoy Bose as well as his campaign against the fascist government of Narendra Modi in Gujarat. Therefore, it is not surprising that while many of the Church friends were not happy with this uncompromising man who has no interest of ‘protecting’ his prime location institutions. Hence those uncompromising men actually help the community more than those who pretend to help them in the name of ‘protecting’ their community identity. And these points reflect sharply in his analysis when he says that National Minorities Commission does not really care about the rights of the Christians.

Some of the chapters in the book are great essays and shows John Dayal’s grasp over the problem and his efforts to link the Christian community with the varied secular groups.
‘A Christian perspective to National Integration’ is one such excellent essay in the book where Dayal ask to create for awareness for Human Rights and developing civil society, which according to him ‘call for sacrifice’.

The article ‘ Ignorance, Bigotry and bloodshed: Perspective of confrontation, coexistence and Peace in India and South Asia,’ is simply superb and need to be read by all those who wish to know the birth of various ethnic-religious identities in India and South Asia. It also helps understand the culture of appreciation towards those who are not ‘like’ us and differ with one another on not only in outlook and perception but also language and religion.

Another important message was the ‘liberation theology’ of the Church which liberated the Shanar women in Travancore and Tirunalveli district of erstwhile Travancore state, where the Dalit women were prohibited from covering their breasts. The missionaries helped them a life of dignity and self-respect. An unknown story of Sophie James Joseph, who was a nurse in St. Stephen’s hospital and saved life of a Sikh family when they were butchered by the upper caste thugs of the Congress party in the aftermath of the assassination of Indira Gandhi.

The Christian community needs to heed his advice to introspect its own work among the Dalits. He writes: ‘ How have we responded to the demands of Dalits. Not low cost schools for low caste people but high quality English schools which will allow the Dalit Children to find their place under the sun in modern age. The answer has to be given soon.’ This call was made by Dayal in September 2001 but seven years onwards he need to ask the church again and the catholic groups again whether their call for right to convert and rights of the Christian Dalit is confined to number games only? What substantial work has the church institutions done during the past 7 years to uplift the Dalits. The Christian Institutions have enormous powers and strength to help the Dalits. Two months back. Ambrose Pinto, principal of St Joseph’s College Banglore revealed to me how his college has reserved seats for Dalits, OBCs and minorities and that it still remain one of the best colleges of Banglore. And there is no dent to its meritocracy, perhaps a right answer for the principal of St Stephan’s College, which constructed the brahmanical think tank of India and officially went against the policy of reservation of the Dalits and OBCs in the Supreme Court, under the pretext of being a minority institution. The Church institutions must respond as how many seats are being reserved for the Dalits and tribal in its elite institutions and how much help is being offered for that.

Another superb piece from John Dayal comes in the form of ‘Hindutva’s Dollar Trail’, which exposes the funding mechanism of the hate campaigners of the Sangh Parivar. That India Development and Relief Fund ( IDRF) has been supplying the funds to Vikas Bharati and 9 other offshoots of the Sangh parivar is a shocking revelation. Between 1994-2000 it contributed 3.2 million USD to these hate mongers in India. The government of India must look into it and must find more details of such organizations which spread communal hatred in communities in India. Such funds must be treated as per the terrorist funding against which the US administration and UK are waging a decisive battle. Unfortunate part is that the Christian world is deeply divided today and still consider Islam as their enemy number one and hence other hate mongers get benefit of these things. Even in Britain, the right wing Hindu groups have got great protection from those in power. Interestingly, for the Sangh Zealots, there is another interesting revelation in the book. The 106 % growth of Indian population predominantly upper caste Hindus between 1990-2000. Sangh Parivar is too much disturbed with Christian growth rate while unable to understand that if conversion was taking place that strongly the population of the community would not have reduced during the past five years.

While the government is going strongly in providing data related to the condition of Muslims in India. Muslims have been discriminated in administration and political system with the ‘sin’ of creating Pakistan. It would be grossly wrong not to find out the problems of the Christian population in India, a majority of whom happens to be Dalits and tribal. The recent NSSO data have revealed that the poverty in Christian community is far below than that of the Muslims. While Muslim being the second majority of the country must get their due share in power structure, we must also ask the government to appoint a similar condition to study the condition of Christians as they are the main victims of the Sangh Parivar’s violence against them

The Christian community must introspect why it is unable to counter Sangh Parivar’s propaganda and assault on its churches and machinery. It must learn a lesson or two from its Muslim brethrens. Muslims are a politically mobile community in India particularly in Uttar-Pradesh and Bihar. Their political understanding is far superior to other communities. Muslims have depended on their own work and never on any government dole out and therefore can still live their life in greater dignity. Christians on the other hand remained highly apolitical community. People like John Dayal are in a minority in the community for they speak the truth without feeling guilty or apprehensive of the Sangh Parivar and its goons. Ofcourse, the price has been bigger in the form of target and attacks but they have remained uncompromising. The Christians by and large remain part of power structure particularly the upper caste elite of them and therefore do not hesitate even in compromising the interest of the community. John Dayal remain exception among its elite who we can find at every platform from those speaking against communalism to fight against unsustainable globalisation or assault on Dalits and tribal or special economic Zone.

It is therefore important for the religious groups to leave the space for the political people to lead the movement for the human rights of its people in India. A community under theocratic leadership cannot fight its battle of survival, which is essentially political. And hence John Dayal’s words need to be heard with great care.

Name of the Book: A matter of Equity: Freedom of Faith in Secular India
Author : John Dayal
Anamika Publishers & Distributors
Year of Publication : 2007
Page: 487
Price : Rs 800 ( Hard Cover)

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

A Padyatra against Hunger and for dignity

March for Land, Dignity and Freedom

Hunger and starvation deaths in the eastern Uttar-Pradesh continue to haunt communities during the last one decade. Every year people are dying of different diseases particularly Malaria, and Japanese Encephalitis (brain fever). While the names have changed the target of these viral diseases remain the same communities.

Government and aid agencies launched campaign to tackle the starvation and hunger prevalent in the region. Many of these districts are under the National Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGA) yet reports suggests that the scheme is another way of ‘helping’ those who are power groups in the rural set up. They have rarely reached the masses. Many of the NGOs formed community groups to help them yet the food never reached. While it was good that government provide food aid to the dying people yet very few raised the issue that the hunger has raised its ugly head in the country because of the continuous antipathy of the government to the land redistribution programme. Contrary to this, more land was acquired in the name of development without providing enough and satisfactory rehabilitation. The victim of this unsustainable development have been the communities like Dalits, tribals and MBCs.

The numbers of landless communities in poorvanchal is substantial and are severely facing challenge to their livelihood. With more mechanized agri-farming, these agrarian workers are now jobless. Forests are already out of bound for them as forest department consider the poor forest dwellers as encroachers and exploit them. The Kumhars (clay potters) have lost their work to plastics and the fishermen are clueless at the moment as how to increase their income when most of their lakes are under the threat of sale. The migration to cities has increased in the past few years but now even those seems to be blocking the way of the rural poor with not only theocratic fundamentalist parties raising their ugly head against them but also the self styled protectionists of the secular ideas too feel that immigration to the cities is a threat.

Even when people were dying of hunger and starvation, the ‘nationalistic’ forces were doing their work in the villages, but not to help the rural poor get out of the poverty trap but to push them back into the Dark Age. To increase their woes, these forces have pushed people to superstition so that they do not question the injustice done to them.

That manual scavenging is still prevalent in the region reflect the condition of the Swachchakar community in Eastern Uttar-Pradesh. Communities like Mushahars, Bansfors, Swachchkars, Rajbhars, Chamars, Pasis; Chauhans, Nishads, Kumhars are facing severe threat to their livelihood and dignity.

Keeping in view of this, Uttar-Pradesh Land Alliance and Social Development Foundation, Delhi are organizing a Padyatra ( Footmarch) beginning from June 1st, 2007 till June 22nd , 2007. The Padyatra will cover four districts of Poorvanchal. They are Maharajganj, Gorakhpur, Deoria and Kushinagar. The Padyatra will start from the Tehsil headquarter of Ghughali, Maharajganj on June 1st. The Padyatra culminate at the Shaheed Smarak in Chauri Chaura on June 22nd, 2007. The Padyatra would cover more than 75 small and big villages and towns including Kushinagar, Ramkola, Padrauna, Kasaya, Fazilnagar, Pathardeva, Nautan, Deoria, Bhatani, Salempur, Laar, Bhagalpur, Barhaj, Rudrapur, Brahmnpur, Tarkulhadevi and Chaurichaura.

Padyatra will have public meetings, social audits and even training programmes related to land and livelihood. Not only this, the Padyatra aims to speak unambiguously against the caste oppression, rituals as well as exploitation in the name of religion, rituals and superstitions.

The Padyatra is named as Land, Dignity and Freedom which clearly indicate that we feel access and control to land and other natural resources is key to dignity and freedom of an individual and community. Today, this freedom is under the threat. The governments have failed in fulfilling their promises to implement the land and agrarian reform resulting in greater social chaos. In India, this situation is more complicated as the exploitation has not just economic dimensions but socio-cultural dimensions. And despite power equations at the political levels, the situation in the ground level has not changed much. That most of these communities who suffer indignities are the Dalits and most backward communities. Tragically, in the broader schemes of things also these communities are on the margins because of their minority status with in their villages and hence even in the broader Dalit-Bahujan framework they remain isolated and excluded.

The Padyatra aim to strengthen the community organizations in the region so that the development agenda is focused on community based. We sincerely feel that the developmental paradigms need to take a new turn and communities need to be targeted in the rural planning otherwise term like ‘rural poor’ in India would always help maintaining the status quo.

While many of our friends suggested against organizing the Padyatra in this scorching heat yet it was felt that it is the best time to understand how the communities we work with face such oppressive heat. Also due to summer vacations, many of you might find some time to join it. We are therefore extending you our invitation to join this Padyatra to understand the reason of hunger, starvation and social oppression in Poorvanchal. We will keep you updated with the movement of Padyatra through our regular mails.

Yours Sincerely,

Vidya Bhushan Rawat, Social Development Foundation, Delhi : Phone 011-65902846,

Ram Chandra Prasad, Dr B.R.Ambedkar Gramodyog Sansthan, Deoria
Ram Bhuvan, Jan Kalyan SanshtanChauri Chaura
Rajkapoor Rawat, Convener, UP Land Alliance, Mohammdabad, Ghazipur
D.P.Baudh, Lord Buddha Trust, Kushinagar
Indra Dev Mehra, Deoria
Ramasrey Nishad, Rudrapur, Deoria
Rajendra Sahni, Tal Ratoy Machchua Jan Kalyan Sansthan, Maryadpur, Mau
Sumitra Rajbhar, Dalit Mahila Mukti Manch Maryadpur, Mau
Rajan, from Swachchakar community in Laar
And many others

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Defining Moments of Dalit Empowerment in Uttar-Pradesh

Dalits defeats Hindutva with the help of Brahmins: Will it work?

Vidya Bhushan Rawat

It was May 2002 when I was on a Padyatra in Bundelkhand. After nearly 10 days of the yatra, we were in a tribal village of Kols who were threatened by the forest department and police officials every time they tilled their land. The day we reached this tiny village on the track of the mighty Indian Railways, the political wind in Lucknow was changing and news of Mayawati’s assuming charge of Uttar-Pradesh became clear. There was jubilation in the village. The whole night, the Kols, their men and women both, danced and sang in the loudest possible voice. When I asked them whether they do not fear the police now. ‘No’, said an elderly man, ‘now with Mayawati at the helm of affair in Uttar-Pradesh, no body can touch us’.

That was the power of Mayawati that the Dalits and MBCs felt safe and secure in the otherwise adverse administrative environment of Uttar-Pradesh. And soon after Mayawati’s resigned and Mulayam Singh Yadav cobbled a majority with the help of BJP, I got a phone call from a Chamar family in Faizabad district. The landless family had been granted a house under the Indira Awas Yojana. The Kurmis, the powerful landowning backward community and traditionally with high anti dalit feeling, used the change in political power in Lucknow to terrorize the Chamar family and hence the entire community was living in constant fear. Even the women Sarpanch who happened to be a Dalit was assaulted. We went to meet a Minister in Lucknow who was once upon a time very close comrade of Late Kanshi Ram. The minister’s first question to the community was ‘ whether they voted him?’ Though he wrote a letter to the local officer yet the Minister knew it well where the community loyalty were and hence we was not very keen on helping them.

Today, Mayawati and her Bahujan Samaj Party have got a decisive mandate in Uttar-Pradesh. It was one of the fairest polls in Uttar-Pradesh where the voter voted with out any fear. Bahujan Samaj Party got 206 seats out of 402, clear mandate from the voters of Uttar-Pradesh. The pollsters have been predicting that BSP would emerge single largest party and Malayam Singh Yadav and his cronies were thinking that they would still be able to manipulate the things. Uttar-Pradesh’s poll results have proved every body wrong. The thing is that these pollsters wanted BJP to get stronger not because of their love for Hindutva but for their corporate connections. BJP got legitimacy by the media because of its media linkages and strong corporate connections. It was difficult for them to ignore but the voters have proved every one of them widely wrong and one only hope that they would not try to influence the result. It is also proved that these opinion polls may change the heart of upper caste English speaking people, they seldom change the mind and determination of Dalits. Dalits and Muslims have developed their own communal network of understanding and rarely do they depend on media analysis for who to vote particularly in Uttar-Pradesh, which is definitely a better sign of maturity.

It is a Vote against India Shining

In 2004, the National Democratic Alliance lost power because of the ‘India Shining’ campaign. Chandra Babu Naidu lost in Andhra Pradesh, S.M.Krishna lost in Karnatka, Amrinder Singh in Punjab and N D Tiwari in Uttarakhand. Even in Delhi Shiela Dixit led Congress had to face defeat. Mulayam Singh Yadav went to poll with slogan ‘ UP main hai dum, kyonki aparadh yahan hai kam’, a slogan coined by one of the ‘friends’ of Mulayam Singh, Mr Amitabh Bachchan. Bachchan and his advisers felt that they can sale anything. It was shameful that Amitabh Bachchan felt that Uttar-Pradesh was a place worth living because there was no crime here, when hundreds of children went missing in Nithari and kidnapping and ransom became the order of the day. Mr Amar Singh would come and give the journalist the other document about Delhi and other parts of the country. Since Amar Singh and his friends have glamour connections they thought that in this market everything is saleable. Amitabh Bachchan must realize that he is as mortal as any one else and hence should stop playing dirty politics in Uttar-Pradesh as people are simply not impressed with his shrewd manipulations.

It is shameful to call Yadav as son of the farmer when the farmers were facing difficulties. The most fertile land of Dadri was sold at the throw away price to friend Anil Ambani. New malls were being promoted and Amar Singh was providing glamour from Bollywood to Mulayam Singh Yadav. There was no electricity in the villages. Mulyam thought that he would dole out money to the rural folks and they would in turn vote him. He declared unemployment allowance. There was Kanya Vidya Dhan where he gave Rs 20,000/- to every girl who passed intermediate, though the amount never reached the needy people. Mulayam felt that Muslims have no choice except him. Despite the fact that goons have got their freedom and criminals were made ministers, Mulayam and his friends felt that people don’t understand politics. His anti Dalit postures and placating the upper castes at the cost of Dalits were so powerful that those who do not subscribe to Mayawati’s politics of appeasing Brahmins were willing to bet for Mayawati as a better administrator.

Rejection of narrow caste based Parties

Most of the small time political parties in Uttar-Pradesh have been decimated. People like Sone Lal Patel who thought the Kurmis would be behind him lost them. Beni Prasad Varma lost from Ayodhya and in the domain of Dadua, two Brahmin candidate of the BSP won the seat. The Rajbhar party of Om Prakash Yadav too lost. This party used to ask its cadre to remove Dr Ambedkar’s portrait and put Raja Sohail Dev in their houses as if Sohail Dev fought for social justice.

Haji Yaqoob won from Sardhana and he comes from the BSP background. The problem is that all the political fronts that were created in the later stage had one problem. Their sheer anti Chamar posturing. It was felt that since the BSP is a party led by Mayawati, it is automatically dominated by the Chamars hence there is a need for other groups to have similar experiment. Those who do think in these lines forget some important aspect of the Chamar-Jatav experience of BSP. Chamars have been a politically mobile community. It understood the importance of political empowerment, the message of Baba Saheb Ambedkar. Chamar is the only community, which took BSP’s political empowerment as a mission. Not only did they stood rock solid behind Mayawati but also ensured that the networking of communities go beyond their own community. Kanshi Ram had promoted some of the most unrepresented communities in BSP giving him total loyalty from these communities. One need to understand and appreciate that BSP did not just win with just Muslim-Chamar-Brahmin vote. The fact is a large number of other communities particularly the MBCs also voted for the party. While the smaller parties could rarely make their agenda broader. Can any agenda be there on anti Ambedkar platform? Ambedkar is the essential component of any party of India, which claim to work for the Dalits and the marginalized. To equate Sardar Patel (as Sone Pal Patel did), or Suhail Dev in the case of Om Prakash Rajbhar’s Rastriya Vikas Party, with Ambedkar ignoring the great legacy of Baba Saheb and his tireless work for the marginalized. Can we really say that Sardar and Sohail Dev had that much of commitment for the poor. Sone Lal Patel was ready to give ticket to Bablu Srivastava and Abu Salem. Glorifying every one who is not an upper caste would not work and failed. These parties did not have any perception and want to ally with any one who can give them space and legitimacy. Result was that Rajbhar went and broke with Congress while Patel fought with BJP-JDU. The small caste based political parties actually failed to mobiles people. Their focus was too narrow and on their own caste. They did not make proper alliance. The political leaders heading these parties are not less autocratic than Mayawati. There was no effort from their side to reach different caste segments. Many of them felt that just waving hands and organizing public meeting at the eleventh hour would work but BSP’s strength was the work of its ‘missionary’ workers.

Survival of the fittest

Secondly, the upper castes also knew well that their future lies with BSP. That is also the danger whether Mayawati would be able to deal with the problems that the Dalits face in the village. Whether the conflict would be lesser. It is no doubt that in the past the agrarian communities were at the logger heads with the Dalits as their common interest on land and agriculture clash yet it would be absolutely cynical to conclude that Dalits and Brahmins make natural alliance and that their interest clash with shudra communities. One must understand that in UP it is the power conflict and that some of the backward communities might have gained after the Zamindari Abolition and post Mandal some of the politically mobile backward communities came in close cooperation with the Kshatriya communities and might have involved in hitting the Dalits but the condition and isolation of communities like Rajbhars, Nishads, Kashyaps, Nais, Gonds is similar to that of the Dalits. It is also a misgiving that Brahmins are marginalized like Chamars. How can a community which was oppressor and other which was at the receiving end could be put with in a bracket? Second, even during the post mandal era, Brahmins were never marginalized. Those who thought that Narsimha Rao was the last Brahmin prime minister have to eat up their word with Atal Bihari Vajpayee taking over BJP’s command. In fact, one thing that went against Lal Krishna Advani was his being a non-Brahmin otherwise, what is the difference between Advani and Vajpayee? Both great friends and presided over a regime where minorities felt deeply neglected and frightened. Both were equally communal but Vajpayee was always made as if he is different than Advani.

Brahmins will never be marginalized in India as long as India remains confine to brahmanical wisdom and its communities continue to prostrate to inefficient and cruel gods. The Brahmin bureaucracy is high and mighty. Most of the newspapers and magazines have not only Brahmin editors but also reporters and copy editors. The gap between the Brahmins and non-Brahmins is too high to be narrated hence to say that Brahmins have suddenly changed would be reading too much in the verdict.

No doubt the Brahmins have come along with Mayawati after she offered them handsome number of tickets. It is also important to understand that coming along with Mayawati was the only option for them as Hindutva agenda was becoming too futile for every one. More than that, with in the Hindutva, Rajnath Singh and then Yogi Aditya Nath, both Thakurs, allegedly supported the parochial caste interests. Most of the ticket that Aditya Nath got in the BJP went to the Thakurs hence the Brahmins were disgusted. Mulayam Singh Yadav, though, played Brahmin card, yet the community felt he was too close to the Thakurs, a rival community. The upsurge of the Brahmins have come from the fact that during the post Mandal political alliance MAJGR ( Muslim, Ahir, Jat, Gujar and Rajput) actually marginalized the Brahmins. Therefore, Brahmins were in a look for a solid alliance, which could revive their fortune.

To say that this alliance would be easily replicated elsewhere would be too simplistic. Such alliance may not work in UP in future also leave alone in states like Madhya Pradesh, Maharastra, Gujarat, Rajasthan or Haryana. UP verdict was a clear vote against Mulayam Singh Yadav and his jungle Raj. Secondly, the vote was too low and only the ‘missionaries’ votes ensured BSP won. The party had meticulously planned its strategies, which resulted in its success.

Secondly, Brahmins never hurt directly. It is the institutionalization of the caste system that we are opposed to and not an individual. Yet, things may not change in UP as long as you are asked to represent your caste. The Brahmins and other upper castes have joined BSP to save their interest and not left their caste philosophy of Hindutva. One only hopes that Mayawati would not compromise with the interest of the Dalits and take strong
action against the cases of violence against the Dalits in the state.

Politicisation is the key to empowerment

I have always held the view that politicization is the key to Dalit empowerment. The NGOs might work to claim the legacy of Ambedkarite movement; it is ironical that it is Uttar-Pradesh and Bihar, which are the guiding destiny of the Dalit movement in India. While funds to support the ‘Dalit movement’ coming in the southern part of India, people claiming to ‘end caste system’ in certain pockets of north India, copies of ‘great work’ being shown to international donor agencies, the fact remain, it is the Dalit of Uttar-Pradesh who has taken it as task of mission. The political empowerment of the Dalits in Uttar-Pradesh is a result out of Ambedkarite understanding. It is the Jatavs and Chamars of Agra who were quick to leave their work and become part of Dr Ambedkar’s movement. It is this Ambedkarite legacy coupled with Buddhist understanding that this community was able to change the fortune of the Dalit movement in India.

BSP is not Dalit movement yet it is the only political party of Ambedkarite legacy. All other political outfits today are unable to understand the vacuum among the political parties. Mayawati remain the only serious contender for that and that is why the Dalits are solidly behind her ignoring her own record of corruption.

Dalits have to forge alliances elsewhere but more than it need committed missionaries to take the movement further. BSP is a political outfit and may have to make many compromises but the movement has to continue to make its presence felt, to pressurize the political class to be careful, to guide even the political forces to take the right path.

Hindutva punctured : UP’s mandate makes us proud

Finally, the electoral mandate in Uttar-Pradesh makes us proud for two things. One that the people have rejected the shining brigade and want the political leaders to concentrate on the basic issues. Second, it will definitely give a boost to those working for the empowerment of Dalits whether they agree or differ with Mayawati’s style of functioning, as this is a real opportunity for her to prove. Thirdly, the total decimation of the Hindutva and its top class leadership. The results in Uttarakhand and Punjab and later in Delhi gave us nightmare of Hindtuva’s uninterrupted march to Delhi. Now, the results in Uttar-Pradesh have sent the Hindutva hardliners to graveyards. Hindutva and its communal agenda can only be defeated by an enlightened Dalit Bahujan confederation along with truly secular rationalists. Those who want to call themselves secular and still promote irrational practices cannot be called secular. A popular icon’s flirtation with rituals and religiosity cannot make him secular, as Mulayam wanted us to believe. Mayawati need to understand that flirtation with Hindutva proved expensive for her in the past. She should remain careful in further approach and deal with such forces ruthlessly. She should not allow Uttar-Pradesh to become an experimenting ground for the thugs of Hindutva whose hate campaign against the Muslims did not work. We all know that how the Hindutva’s gang operated and tried to vitiate the atmosphere in the entire state. The best practice of the upper caste is that if you cannot conquer some one just co-opt him. Mayawati should send out clear message of her priority of good governance and her commitment to social justice. One welcome the victory of over 14% Muslims in UP Assembly from all the parties. This shows that a rainbow coalition in UP of the Dalits, marginalized and minorities is a functioning reality in the villages and those who want to break it for narrow political purposes would bite dust in Uttar-Pradesh.

Though BSP had rarely come out in open against the economic policies or on the issue of reservation, it is important that the party does not compromise on these issues. Already, the courts in India are playing the dirty games of spoiling everything that is meant for social justice. The land reform has been made redundant by continuous litigations in the court. The political participation of the Dalits and marginalized is under the threat and various cases are there against top political leadership.

Significance of power in Lucknow

The assumption of power of the largest state has significance for the Dalits and Marginalised all over the country. Yet, unless great work is done by those in power, they remain mere symbolic. Mayawati has used these symbols to spread her base. Those have been important milestones, now at the fourth term; she need to define her economic and social agenda and must move beyond symbols. Land Reform is long over due and that need to be vigorously implemented apart from that there must be quota for the MBCs. She must implement the Ambedkargaon scheme and bring drastic change in the already crippled educational mess in Uttar-Pradesh. In her earlier stints she did not have majority, now with enough MLAs on her side, she need to build Uttar-Pradesh and turn it to an enlightened Pradesh. The country is waiting this transformation of power in this state, which could turn out a role model state for others, but it depends on how she handles it. Whether she would be able to annoy her newfound allies in the form of Brahmins? How this contradiction is managed will be seen in the coming days. Meanwhile, the struggling masses of Dalits and other marginalized must not remain satisfied with this as their becoming mute would give ample space to political leadership to manipulate. The time of Ambedkarite pressure group has now come. It must work as a link between the aspiration of Dalit masses and the duties of a Dalit political leadership. Today, with the Chief Justice of India at the top judiciary, with a chief of University Grants Commission and with a member in Planning Commission and other number of dignitaries, Dalits Empowerment is here to stay yet a large number of those who are still far away from basic amenities of life, Mayawati’s ascendance brings hope. A hope that she would change the power equations that hurt Dalits and provide social and economic security to all. That Behenjee would reason first before giving any approval to private corporations, builders, mafias who want UP to ‘shine’ at the cost of its poor Dalit Bahujan masses. One is sure that this government will not betray its mandate that people of Uttar-Pradesh has given to it. Let us hope that she will keep these in mind before proceeding to Dadari and other such projects, which were granted out of personal loyalty by the previous government. Let us hope that Mayawati will remain committed to the ideas of her idols like Baba Saheb, Sri Narayanguru, Periyar and Chhatripati Shahuji Maharaj. Hope she would not erect a Ganesha in between to placate the Brahmins. The struggle of the Dalits for dignity and self-respect was based on their right against the brahmanical forces and irrationality of the caste system. One only hopes that this rich legacy would not be lost in the din of ‘empowerment’ in Lucknow.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Indian disconnect in Uganda

Mabira’s resistance to Monopoly of Mehtas in Museveni’s Uganda

By Vidya Bhushan Rawat

When I got an opportunity to visit Uganda to attend an international conference, the first thing that came in minds the issue of Indians in Uganda. Coincidently, exactly a week before my departure to Entebbe, Uganda saw worst kind of riots in Kampala in the post Idi Amin era. The news of an Indian killed send shock waves through out the country. The Indian media reported as if the native Ugandans have turned to racism against the ‘poor’ Indians. It failed to report that two Ugandans were killed in rioting. How can a community which has been victim of racism in the past and still facing discrimination in its own country could be termed as racist just because it lost its patience and indulged in rioting? There is a need to understand the issue of blacks, apartheid and Indian domination in the African countries and any analysis based on our ‘nationalistic’ pattern would be bias and unfair.

Uganda is a growing democracy despite army’s control over power. In the streets you can still find big appeals on behalf of the election commission to participate in the political process. Among many FM channels, you will get political discussion going and the president and prime minister being lampooned by the people. It is the growing sign of democracy. However, it is important as what happened to Uganda that the entire country united and condemned and that there is more than what was presented to us.

Issue of Self Respect of Native Ugandans

Idi Amin is not much respected in Uganda. There might be some pockets where he may be adored, probably among the Islamic tribal community but Ugandans have moved far ahead from that narrow idea of Idi Amin, which destroyed their freedom and lampoonised the entire governance process. Commentators called him a government owned by a minority group without any mandate from the people, yet on one count, I found many native Ugandans were appreciative of him. It is clear that Amin’s predecessor Milton Obote-1, had actually created another imperial class in his country. The Indians, particularly Gujaratis who went to Uganda and East Africa as laborers to construct the train track between Kampala and Nairobi and other East African countries by the British, later monopolized the Ugandan business and mercantile sector has now become a bone of contention. Not that Indians do not work hard but more than this, there habit of exclusivity and differentiate on colour. Yes, Indians are highly colour conscious. One they recognize your colour matches their own, then they shift to the caste loyalties. And when I was speaking to Ugandan friends about the Mabira Forest Controversy, many facts came into light.

Deo Sfekitooleko, is a teacher by profession at the University of Makarere, which is one of the largest Universities in East Africa with more than 40,000 students doing various courses. Deo is Chairman of Uganda Humanist Association and very radical humanists who feel that the Christian Evangelical forces are equally a threat to Africa and its secular cultural values. The violence against Indians and Asians worried Deo but he confirms that it was not exactly the case what was being reported. “ The idea behind the demonstration was good as Ugandans were demonstrating against their National Property being given to foreigner and also destruction of a great forest which has enormous value for Uganda.’

Responding to my question whether he felt that there was a similarity of pattern on attack against the Indian and Asians, Deo said that he found some similarity with the Idi Amin’s days but Amin cannot be blamed for everything. The fact of the matter is that Milton Obette-1 has been supporting the Asians particularly the Indians and sidelining the Africans. That was the reason that when Amin’s forces took over Uganda, he became an instant hero as he threw the Asians out of Uganda. But then he went to extreme endangering the progress of Uganda.

There is nothing particular against Asians or Indians, suggest Deo. ‘The problem lie with the Asian culture and values. The do not associate with Africans outside business. They may have a good relationship, employee-employer relationship in business. They may have good business relations with Africans but outside that there has never been an effort to build of social bonding. No interaction with the Africans. No marriages. So, one can say there is a complete cultural barrier with Asians and particularly with Indians who have a caste system and they bring it here also. This life of exclusion which Indians live make it difficult for them to associate with the African community who they consider as inferior. The Europeans and Americans also come here and appreciate our values and culture, mixed up with us. Their men can marry with our women and vice versa. Therefore there is not much against them in the socio-cultural front but Asians have come here as a businessmen and nothing more than the same. They remain confined to monitory gains and are here to earn without any sense of belonging to the country.’

Deo’s outspokenness is not without facts. As I go around the streets of Kamapla, I find lesser Indian. But once in the Old Kampala area, you will find the Muslims habitats, the Bombay Road, The Delhi garden as well as Bombay Garden, basically localities of the Indians. On the left hand side, there is a Gurudwara named as Ramgarhia Gurudwara. My mind swings into action that this must be a Dalit Gurudwara and I decided that I must visit them and find what is cooking inside. At the gate, a native guard stops my Ugandan friends and me. My Ugandan friends skip and allow me to go in.

Condition of the victims of (Kabootarbaji) illegal human trafficking

It is evening time and I can hear the beautiful Sabad-Kirtan inside the Gurudwara. After a short while, I meet a middle-aged woman Raj Pal Kaur who is an Indian immigrant here. I tell her about my motive to understand how Indian feel here and what were their relationships. Raj is very happy that a fellow Indian has come from Delhi and therefore invites me to her house.

Her husbands accompany me to their house in Bombay Garden. The guy is a mechanic in a local company and his inability to converse in Hindi is equally baffling. Her speaks with me in native Punjabi and narrates how the Indians are living here with ‘bhaichara’. Once inside the house, one find two blacks, a very young teenage boy and a girl are doing the household chores. I am told most of the Indians still keep the blacks in their houses as domestic servant.

Inside the house, the story is similar to that of any Punjabi family who aspire to grow up in Canada. Raj kaur and her husband along with a daughter were trapped into ‘dream Canada’ by a travel agent. They were dumped in Uganda. With great difficulty they established themselves and started recovering. Old habits die-hard. Once again another expatriate Punjabi robbed them of whatever they had by alluring them to take to Canada. They end up in paying up over USD 9000/- by selling their household items and Raj’s gold ornaments. For many days, she could not work. Situation turned volatile for them in an entirely alien country. But a remarkable thing about the Punabi woman is her strength of working hard. Raj decided that her husband’s salary was not enough for running their home and paying back the debt.

Raj Kaur today fetch 15 paying guests from India. She takes care of them, provide home cooked food there for an amount of Rs 5,000/- per person. This provides her help her children’s fees in school.

Once inside the house, I am shocked to hear the tales of Indians who are brought by the Kabootarbaji business rampant in Punjab and Haryana. Surjeet Ram, 27, is a graduate from Jullandhar, Punjab. He paid Rs 4,50 lakhs to the travel agent. Who promised him to Italy? Surender's father is an agricultural labour. He is a Dalit Sikh though he does not have long hair. Surendra today is living in a very difficult situation. being helped by a local Sikh woman who herself was victim of Kabootarbaji but now have obtained Ugandan citizenship, this woman Raj Kaur run a paying guest house. Her story is of a great struggle and how Indian cheat. Raj Kaur have two children. her husband is a mechanic who cannot even speak Hindi. I met them at a local Gurudwara in old Kampala when she said that I must narrate her story of how an Indian took away USD 9000 after staying for nearly a month at their place and promising them to take to Paris.

Surjeet Ram's story thought that he was going to Italy but at the end he was asked to take a flight to Entebbe. Since Uganda provide visa on arrival, this has become a heaven for the travel agents to dupe their client, extort huge some of money from the illiterate relatives.

Sudesh Kumar is just a matriculate and is about 22 years of age. He comes from Kurushetra district of Haryana. The travel agent promised him to get a job in Europe.
He also paid nearly four lakh of rupees. He is in equally difficult situation.

Satpal Singh is 45 years of age. He has younger children who are going to schools in Kurushetra. He sold his land and paid Rs 7,50,000 to travel agent. The travel agent promised that they will get a job in Europe but were dumped in Uganda.

It is equally shocking to hear the narratives from these people how their travel agent came to Uganda and stayed for a few days. He got the two guys arrested and extorted another USD 2,500 each for their release. Because of rampant corruption, police extract money from the foreigners.

Now, the travel agent have taken their passports and disappeared. Every one of them is today living in horror. They do not have any travel document today and fear that they might get arrested and no body is there to take care of them except Raj Kaur who herself is facing lot of troubles and had to sold her ornaments and other household itmes just to get Canadian visa.

Gandhi belongs to us in Uganda but abandon Gandhi in Gujarat?

Fifty kilometer from the Kampala city is another beautiful and planned town of Jinja. Jinja is famous for its tourist resorts, planned streets and the ‘source’ of river Nile, Ninja showcased Indian diaspora led by the Gujaratis. A large number of Gujaratis were settled here and build their mansions before Idi Amin asked them to leave Uganda. While the biggest commercial building in Kampala city belongs to ‘Bank of Baroda’, in Jinja you can find big mansions named after the Gujaratis.

At the source of river Nile, I meet Rubina, a native Ugandan, who owns a shop of the handcraft items, and ask her what is her reaction to recent anti Asian riots, which left Indians concerned. She said,’ The people of Uganda are not against Asians or Indian in particular. We are friends but Asians must understand that we cannot allow our forest and environment to be finished by private corporations. It is not a war against Asians but efforts of the private companies to loot the resources of the poor nations. You too have waged a war against imperialism and we have been together in our struggle against imperialism.’

While the success of Indians or in other way round, Indian imperialism in the East African countries, has hurt their relationship with local populace yet it reached the optimizing point, when Mr Madhavan N Mehta, the director of Sugar Corporation of Uganda Limited was granted more than 9000 Hectare of Mabira forest for developing another sugar factory. It is no secret that Indians control business in Uganda. While the Indians feel that since they are competent and know to do their work better (a racist propagation of their superiority), the native Ugandans feel that the Indian exploit their wide ranging connections particularly in the big corporations and the World Bank and other institutions. Mehta’s SCOUL was a joint venture with the government and earlier the government partnership was 49% but not it has reduced to a mere 23%. Secondly, newspaper reports continue in Kampala that Mehtas are not even the Ugandan Citizen but British Citizen. According to The Monitor, Kampala, The sugar baron has already pocketed Shs29.7 billion as compensation from government. Sunday Monitor has learnt that in 2002, Mehta demanded to be compensated for losses he had incurred during the regimes of Idi Amin (1971-79) and Milton Obote (1980-85).’

The paper’s report furthers that Mehta and his company has never paid any taxes in Uganda during the past 26 years. The compensation has become a controversial issue with President Yoweri Museveni firmly supporting the industrialization process. This ‘sale off’ triggered strong reaction in entire Uganda. Already president Museveni’s high handedness has created stir among the local population. In the name of development you cannot just shunt people from their inhabitat.

It is strange that Uganda does not have rehabilitation laws. When the people were uprooted from mabira forest under the guise of saving the forest, none of them objected but the same government shamelessly went ahead with providing land to a big corporations, which the Ugandan now feel are betraying their national interests.

Hence the violence against Indian is not because of Mehtas or Madhvanis who have controlled the sugar companies of Uganda but broader nature of Indians. At Jinja, I go to a Gujarati temple. Since it is Sunday therefore not many had turned up in the temple but I meet a young Gujarati who had been working in Uganda for the past three years. Accordingly, he feels that Jinja was a much better and safer place unlike Kampala, which was crowded and tense. There are three Gujarati temples in Jinja, he says. The temple that I visited was of ‘Satya Narayan’. At the temple, we join a discussion about how Gujarati’s are working. The man is proud of Mehtas and says that Gujarati’s build Uganda and now this country is not respecting us. When I ask him as what is the situation and how does he feel here? ‘ These issues are politicized. Look, President Museveni is a nice person and very supportive of investment but politicians do not like this.’ At this, I refer to situation in Gujarat. He says, Gujaratis always lived in brotherhood with Muslims and it is just the politics. Still today, many Gujaratis live together, no question of Hindus or Muslims. The fellow asks me to take photograph of Mahatma Gandhi. I am amused at this. Gandhi has been thoroughly rejected by the Hindus in Gujarat. They feel he is an obstacle in their progress but in Uganda, the same Gujaratis are asking me to remember Gandhi? Why?
We have to understand this psychology of using the popular names. There is a statue of Gandhi at the bank of river Nile. Gandhi is popularized as a person who fought for the rights of the blacks in Africa. Therefore the blacks too feel that Gandhi fought for their battle and is best symbol of fight against imperialism. Gujaratis knows it well and are using the same. Unfortunately, Gandhi’s statue in Black Africa is a conspiracy to disconnect the Africans to the popular anti caste movement in India. Gandhi has become a tool for every one to exploit particularly his native Gujaratis who have abandoned him. It is in the fitness of thing for the Gujaratis to think of how they treat others in their home state. What are the Gujarati industrialists doing? Supporting the Hindutva and its hate monger in Gujarat but at the same point of time want the world to respect their ‘culture’.

Back in Kampala, I am at the house of an Indian and for the first time in 10 days watched Aaj Tak. The woman talks of ‘Sansani’, a programme of crime reporting at the Star News. The 10 PM news at Aaj tak shows horrible footage of a paster being beaten by the goons of the Hindutva in Jaipur, Rajasthan. Acharya Giriraj Kishore is defending the Hindutva action on these things. I ask an Indian. What do you feel when such things happen in our country. “ Oh, its not an issue here, he says. Sikhs and Hindus are always friend.’ But such incident does not make you feel insecure here in Uganda. The Indians do not feel offended with that. It is more shocking. When riots occurred in Uganda, the government became over conscious to defend the Indians but what happen when we see such situation occurs with in our own country.

Land for Investment: While President Museveni confirmed that the struggle against Mabira forest take-over would subsidise. As a human rights activist, I felt proud to have spoken against the take over and expressed my solidarity with the native Ugandan people. Having heard the voices of sanity against this gross exploitation of natural wealth, Indian people would be doing great disservice if they support their crony capitalists. In fact, the governments everywhere should ensure that the corporate houses indulged in hate mongering formula and supporting fundamentalists groups must be kept out. At the time, when Americans are going crazy over war against terror, it is also worth demanding that such corporations which displace people, spread hatred elsewhere or support such campaigns should be barred from every where.
It is better that Mehtas have right now not staked the claim for the Mabira forest after the bloody riots. In case he continue to pursue his family interest, it would be difficult to contain the local resentment. Mehtas have given Ugandan an opportunity to think and unite and if he persist with the more take over; the day would not be far, when other ‘nationalists’ forces might take over Uganda. While the civil society organizations that assembled in Uganda to participate in the Assembly of International Land Coalition wholeheartedly spoke against the degazetting of the Mabira forest for commercial purpose threatening the biodiversity of the green Uganda, it is ironical that intergovernmental bodies desisted from issuing a statement against the government. People have forgotten Idi Amin but nobody can deny that his action to acquire property of the Indians was targeted at the popular sentiments with in the country who were frustrated with Indian domination over all walks of life. Clear enough while the Gujaratis want every one to follow their culture in Gujarat, they refuse to do the same elsewhere. The events of Uganda are a reminder that you cannot take a community for granted. If the Indians have got so much in Uganda, they must also respect local sentiments and be part of it.

And finally my disappointment with the current regime of President Museveni who continued to assure Indians that action would be taken against anti social elements but at the same point of time refused to understand the sentiments behind the protests. The cabinet does seems to lack unanimity on this issue as Agricultural minister told us that the president has no power to sale of a national asset and unless parliament approves it, nothing can be done. Very unfortunately, the government defines land in terms of investment, which is dangerous. Even when Indians do not have a fair record of land reform, yet our constitutional forefathers provided enough tools for poor to get a fair deal. Zamindari Abolition Act, land Ceiling Acts were out come of such concern but it is shocking that the land minister accepted in the conferences that his deputy was a landless person in the area where people have land in the area of over 10 kilometer. There was no system of land reform in Uganda. Idi Amin captured the land and property of the Asians to be distributed among his own cronies. People who thought his nationalism would help them remain clueless. Uganda government can learn a lesson or two from Indian constitution to help its landless population and allow people to access and control its vast natural resources. Uganda remains the ‘pearl of Africa’ and its greenery is enchanting. It must tread carefully with a greater balance with national aspirations, sustainability and development. The government needs investment but it cannot do so at the cost of displacing its people and killing the environment. India is already facing this war of people against the multinational onslaught on their soverignity and Ugandans will do the same. Government should ultimately remain loyal to their people and not to private corporations and international institutions failing which there are dangers of political instability, greater chaos and anarchy, which has already killed thousands in African continent. To attain short term objectives, the government should not lose sight on greater national interests and Mabira forest have become Uganda’s symbol of resistance against the onslaught of the private corporations and their masters in the government, any effort to discount popular sentiment would result in further polarization of communities and create further instability in the region.