Seven killed in Assam bomb blast By Subir Bhaumik BBC News, Calcutta

6 04 2009

Seven people have been killed in a bomb explosion in India’s north-eastern state

Bomb scene in Guwahati

The blast comes as India prepares for its general election

of Assam.

The bomb, concealed in a car, exploded outside a busy restaurant close to the local headquarters of Indian railways in Guwahati.

Two other attacks in Assam – in the towns of Dhekiajuli and Mankachar – have left 10 people hurt.

Police told the BBC the separatist United Liberation Front of Assam (Ulfa) was responsible for the explosions.

‘Raising Day’

Assam police chief GM Srivastava told the BBC two people were killed at the scene in Guwahati’s Maligaon district and five more died of their wounds in hospital.

Many vehicles were destroyed by the explosion.

Many bystanders helped the injured although angry mobs also pelted police and public transport with stones after the explosion.

Map

Correspondents said blood and body parts were strewn over the entrance to the restaurant.

In a second attack, a bomb exploded in a market in the town of Dhekiajuli. Eight people were hurt, two seriously.

In the third, two people were wounded by a grenade in Mankachar in the western district of Dhubri.

Last week more than 10 people were injured when a bomb exploded not far from where India’s External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee was to address a rally.

Mr Srivastava said: “[The Ulfa] set off bombs before their “Raising Day” every year and this year is no different. We have information of some Ulfa strike squads entering Assam in the past 15 days and we are trying to pin them down.”

The Ulfa was raised, or founded, on 7 April 1979 to fight for Assam’s independence.

Intelligence officials say Ulfa is also flexing its muscles before the forthcoming Indian parliamentary elections.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is scheduled to visit Assam on Tuesday to campaign for his Congress party.

Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi said: “The Ulfa is killing the innocent people of Assam. They will be punished by our people.”

He said Ulfa was trying to disrupt the elections.

The organisation has been relatively quiet in recent months after being suspected of carrying out massive serial explosions in October last year, in which 87 people died.

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PM’s daughter takes on Marxist view of history

27 06 2008


19 Jun 2008, 0128 hrs IST, Mohua Chatterjee,TNN

NEW DELHI: Just when PM Manmohan Singh has taken on his communist partners over the nuclear deal, his daughter, professor Upinder Singh, has come up with a book which challenges the Marxist version of ancient Indian history.

While praising Marxist historians for uncovering the history of non-elite groups and other contributions, Singh disagrees with them for their reliance on unilinear historical models derived from western historical and anthropological works.

She also delves extensively into ancient India’s cultural past — art, literature, religion and philosophy — in sharp contrast to Marxist historians who focused on “social and economic interpretations”.

Singh, however, is not one to discard the Marxist approach altogether. “Being a student of history in the 1970s, I am a product of the shift from the nationalist to the Marxist view and so I have drawn from both,” the DU historian told TOI, identifying herself as “belonging to the liberal space which is so important”.

Singh’s 704-page A History of Ancient and Early Medieval India: From the Stone Age to the 12th Century is targeted at graduate and post-graduate students and will be released on July 18.

With her keen interest in archaeology, Singh seeks to challenge Marxist historians like Romila Thapar, and provides, for those “writing the new NCERT school books,” more than one interpretation of ancient Indian history, and encouraging them to look for more.

Elaborating on her divergences with the Marxist school which have dominated the campuses since the 70s, Singh stressed the need for students of ancient Indian history to pay attention also to cultural aspects — art, literature religion and philosophy. “Religious doctrines, I feel, are important for students to understand things in context,” she said.

In the introductory chapter, Singh discusses the contributions and flaws of the various schools. “Marxist historiography also contributed towards uncovering the history of non-elite groups, many of whom had suffered centuries of subordination and marginalization. While making these valuable contributions, Marxist writing often tended to work with unilinear historical models derived from western historical and anthropological writings,” she writes.

Sketching out her differences with the Marxist school, Singh notes that shift of population from rural to urban areas did not take place as suggested in the model as “most people of the subcontinent continued to live in villages”.

Asked about likely controversies after the book’s release, she said, “Given that a controversy came up about a book that did not exist, I must say it can really vitiate the atmosphere. History always has a political element, it is always connected with power and power structures, with strong views on it even among ordinary people. But ultimately the book will be judged in the long run by students of history.”

Explaining the purpose in the preface, she said, “It is necessary to expose them to the complex details and textures of history… unresolved issues… have been presented as such, rather than conveying a false sense of certainty. Where there are debates, the different perspectives have been presented, along with my own assessment of which arguments are convincing and which ones are not.”





PM’s daughter takes on Marxist view of history

27 06 2008

19 Jun 2008, 0128 hrs IST, Mohua Chatterjee,TNN

NEW DELHI: Just when PM Manmohan Singh has taken on his communist partners over the nuclear deal, his daughter, professor Upinder Singh, has come up with a book which challenges the Marxist version of ancient Indian history.

While praising Marxist historians for uncovering the history of non-elite groups and other contributions, Singh disagrees with them for their reliance on unilinear historical models derived from western historical and anthropological works.

She also delves extensively into ancient India’s cultural past — art, literature, religion and philosophy — in sharp contrast to Marxist historians who focused on “social and economic interpretations”.

Singh, however, is not one to discard the Marxist approach altogether. “Being a student of history in the 1970s, I am a product of the shift from the nationalist to the Marxist view and so I have drawn from both,” the DU historian told TOI, identifying herself as “belonging to the liberal space which is so important”.

Singh’s 704-page A History of Ancient and Early Medieval India: From the Stone Age to the 12th Century is targeted at graduate and post-graduate students and will be released on July 18.

With her keen interest in archaeology, Singh seeks to challenge Marxist historians like Romila Thapar, and provides, for those “writing the new NCERT school books,” more than one interpretation of ancient Indian history, and encouraging them to look for more.

Elaborating on her divergences with the Marxist school which have dominated the campuses since the 70s, Singh stressed the need for students of ancient Indian history to pay attention also to cultural aspects — art, literature religion and philosophy. “Religious doctrines, I feel, are important for students to understand things in context,” she said.

In the introductory chapter, Singh discusses the contributions and flaws of the various schools. “Marxist historiography also contributed towards uncovering the history of non-elite groups, many of whom had suffered centuries of subordination and marginalization. While making these valuable contributions, Marxist writing often tended to work with unilinear historical models derived from western historical and anthropological writings,” she writes.

Sketching out her differences with the Marxist school, Singh notes that shift of population from rural to urban areas did not take place as suggested in the model as “most people of the subcontinent continued to live in villages”.

Asked about likely controversies after the book’s release, she said, “Given that a controversy came up about a book that did not exist, I must say it can really vitiate the atmosphere. History always has a political element, it is always connected with power and power structures, with strong views on it even among ordinary people. But ultimately the book will be judged in the long run by students of history.”

Explaining the purpose in the preface, she said, “It is necessary to expose them to the complex details and textures of history… unresolved issues… have been presented as such, rather than conveying a false sense of certainty. Where there are debates, the different perspectives have been presented, along with my own assessment of which arguments are convincing and which ones are not.”





BENAZIR AND INDIA: Francois Gautier

29 12 2007

She resorted to anti-Indianism to please voters (rediff.com) http://www.rediff.com/news/2007/dec/31gautier.htm

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Friday described her as “one of the outstanding leaders of our sub-continent, who always looked for reconciliation between India and Pakistan.”

It is a sad that a mother of three children was so brutally killed and we all mourn her terrible death. Nevertheless, truth must be told. For, as usual, what the press says is not exactly what happened. Firstly, under Bhutto, anti-Indian terrorism in the Kashmir region was fostered and increased. Benazir was also directly responsible for the ethnic cleansing of Hindus in Kashmir. “She was instrumental in sponsoring jihad, openly inciting militants to intensify terrorism in India,” says Ajai Sahni, the executive director of the New Delhi-based Institute for Conflict Management. “I find it very difficult to discover a single element with her relationship to India that is positive and for the betterment of her country or the region”, he adds. Remember how she was shouting her slogans of azaadi, and exhorting the people of Kashmir to cut Jagmohan, then governor of the state, into pieces, as in “jag-jag, mo-mo, han-han”. She would say this while making chopping motions with her right hand as it moved from her left wrist to the elbow, leaving nobody in any doubt as to what she meant.

Secondly, under Benazir Bhutto, the Taliban formed and, helped by Pakistan’s intelligence service, swept across Afghanistan and later hosted Osama bin Laden. It is a bit of an irony that she may have been killed by the very people she helped foster if at all she was murdered.
Thirdly, she deliberately increased tension levels and then threatened India with a pre-emptive nuclear strike. The tension peaked when Benazir repeated her late father’s immortal boast of waging a thousand-year war against India and even Rajiv Gandhi was forced to mock her in Parliament, asking if those who talked of a thousand-year war could last even a thousand hours.
And fourthly, in her last speech before she died, she alluded to India as one of the threats Pakistan had to face, implying that if she was elected she would deal firmly with it. Then why is it that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh calls her a friend of India and that Indians mount candle light vigils in India Gate for her ?

I interviewed Benazir Bhutto twice, the last one as she was campaigning to be re-elected for a second term.

The first question I asked, was about Kashmir, as she was the one who had called for ‘Azad Kashmir’, a Kashmir free from India, which had triggered the ethnic cleansing of most Hindus of the Valley of Kashmir, 400.000 of them having to flee their ancestral land.

– You know, she answered, you have to understand the Pakistani point of view on Kashmir. If one goes by the logic of Partition, then at least the Kashmir valley, which is in great majority Muslim – and it should be emphasised that for long the Hindus Pandits in Kashmir exploited and dominated the Muslims, who are getting back at them today – should have reverted to Pakistan. But let us say that officially we want to help grant Kashmiris their right to self-determination

– That’s the only reason, I continued ?

– No, answered Benazir, it should be clear also that Pakistan never forgot the humiliating loss of Bangladesh at the hands of India, although India claims it only helped Bangladesh to gain its freedom in the face of what the Bangladeshis say was Pakistani genocide. Zia’s emergence was a result of that humiliation.

– But Zia hanged your father, I interrupted…

– Yes and I hate him, and God the Almighty already punished him for that, said Benazir (alluding to Zia’s death in a plane crash). But Zia did one thing right, he started the whole policy of proxy war by supporting the separatist movements in Punjab and Kashmir, as a way of getting back at India.

– What about Pakistan’ nuclear bomb, I asked?
-That’s my father’s work she said proudly. He realized, after having lost the 1965 and 1971wars with India, that both numerically and strategically, we can never beat India in a conventional conflict. Thus he initiated the programme by saying that “we will get the nuclear bomb, even if we have to eat grass”.

– But is it not a dangerous weapon if it falls in the hands of the fundamentalists of your country, I asked?
No such danger, Benazir answered. Anyway, it is not only a deterrent against India’s military conventional superiority and an answer to India’s own nuclear capability, but also the ultimate weapon to reassert Islam’s moral superiority.

– We in Europe are going to unite in a Common Market, why don’t Pakistan and India forget their differences and form some kind of confederation with other South Asia countries, instead of killing each other?
– Pakistan and India were never one country, answered the imperious lady. They were only kept together by force, whether by Mauryan, Moghul or British rule. Hindus have recognised the reality of Islam, and we needed our own country to feel free.

I was flabbergasted:
here was a lady educated in Oxford and Harvard, who mouthed such irrational statements. She spoke good English, was pretty, articulate and pleased the Press. But when in power, she had to resort to anti -Indianism to please her voters, her husband was known as Mr 10% and she was hounded out of power twice for incompetence and corruption. What then, Mr Manmohan Singh ? History will tell.

FranÁois Gautier