It’s exactly one month since Varavara Rao’s family felt disturbed with his incoherent talk and began emergency efforts to bring the dreadful condition of his health to people’s notice, to appeal to all the systems of governance and to move judiciary seeking an immediate remedy to the risk to his life. However, 720 hours have passed without any ray of hope from anywhere.
Notwithstanding the widespread concern, protest and demand for his immediate release by civil society across the globe as well as in the country, the much-needed response to this life and death situation of a world-renowned, ailing poet was conspicuously absent on the part of the political establishment and the judiciary. The family had only two small mercies in 30 excruciatingly stressful days: a glimpse of Rao and exchange of a few words with him for about half an hour at Sir JJ Hospital in Mumbai on July 15 with permission letter from the jail authorities; later, they had an interaction with him for about 20 minutes on video conference on July 31, on the directions of High Court.
Earlier, on July 11 evening, Varavara Rao’s wife Hemalata received a routine weekly phone call from him while he was in Taloja Jail, Navi Mumbai. By then he was already in the Jail Hospital Ward, after being discharged as “normal and stable” from Sir JJ Hospital on June 1 following four days as in-patient. As the family could not see him in the hospital between May 28 and June 1, as well as in jail between June 1 and July 11, Hemalata was worried about his health. Rao’s response to her query on his health utterly shocked her. Instead of answering her, he asked, “have you attended my father’s funeral, I believe 6,000 people came…” The funeral he was talking about took place in 1948, when he was eight years old and she was not even born.
The delirium was going on and his co-accused Vernon Gonsalves, who was also in the same hospital ward, took the phone from him and informed the family that Rao was not able to walk and even brush his teeth by himself. Apart from this precarious physical condition, he was always hallucinating and blabbering in disorientation. The news perturbed the family. From a person who has been a poet, writer and public speaker with meticulous memory for nearly six decades, and who worked as a college teacher for over three decades, this search for words, loss of memory, disorientation, delirium and incoherence were incredibly unimaginable. They suspected that the electrolyte imbalance, diagnosed in Sir JJ Hospital some six weeks ago, might be the culprit again. They thought shifting him to a hospital immediately for better medical care or releasing him on bail and allowing the family to take care of him would be a probable solution.
Shifting to a hospital is a political decision and granting bail is under the purview of the judiciary. Thus, the family began appealing to the state government, in whose jail he was lodged as well as to the Union government, whose investigative agency is spearheading the trial. An interim bail petition based on age, health, and Covid vulnerability, and moved in the last week of June, was already before the Bombay High Court and except asking for expediting it, nothing could be done. The family then wanted to place the whole affair before the people to let them know what was happening to their beloved poet through media hoping it would help in raising the issue and mobilise public opinion to save the life of Rao, who was almost on deathbed.
The family held a video press conference on the morning of July 12 and made a fervent appeal: “Don’t Kill Varavara Rao in Jail”. The event really evoked more response from people at large than expected. About 20,000 viewers watched the press conference with hundreds sharing it on social media. Hundreds of newspapers, TV channels and magazines not only covered the event, but also have written editorials and published opinion columns expressing solidarity and demanding his release. There was a Twitter storm that evening. Many political parties, both in Maharashtra and all-India level, demanded the government to shift him to hospital. Several national and international organisations including UNHCR, NHRC, Amnesty International, PEN International, PEN Delhi, and Indian People’s Theatre Association appealed for the release of the poet. Hundreds of poets, writers, academics and intellectuals, including Noam Chomsky, Jan Bremen, Barbara Harriss-White, Romila Thapar, Naseeruddin Shah, Shabana Azmi made individual and joint appeals to the government. There were a lot of protest demonstrations all over the country. A social media site began a campaign of translating and reciting Varavara Rao’s poems into various languages, in order to demand his release. Within hours, his poems were translated into more than 26 languages and recitations were posted on the site. At least a hundred poets from various languages wrote poems about Varavara Rao in an expression of solidarity. A senior poet from Ireland, Gabriel Rosenstock wrote a beautiful protest poem, which was translated immediately into a dozen international languages.
While the response from civil society was so abundantly overwhelming and still coming, the response from the government agencies and judiciary was lukewarm or indifferent. After a lot of pressure from opposition political parties, particularly some concerned individuals and National Human Rights Commission, Maharashtra government conceded to shift him to hospital and he was moved to Sir JJ Hospital on July 13.
Despite the Covid restrictions on travel and meeting people, the family wanted to see him in hospital and with permission from the jail authorities visited the Transit Ward in the hospital. The situation in that stinking, unattended ward was much more pathetic. As a couple of armed guards were waiting at the entrance, Rao was lying in a bed drenched in urine, without any medical help or equipment like drip or catheter or oximeter. Initially, he could not recognise his family members and the hospital authorities sent out the family forcibly within a short time. Hemalata filed an affidavit on the pathetic conditions she saw in the hospital to the High Court, as the bail petition was going to be heard. When the family wanted to see him the next day, they were told that he had tested positive for Covid-19 and hence they could not see him. The apprehension expressed in the bail petition filed two weeks ago came true. Then he was moved to Covid-specialty St Georges Hospital, and later on the intervention of NHRC, to the Nanavati Hospital.
While all this was going on, and even later, neither the jail authorities nor the hospitals ever thought it was necessary to share information on health status, line of treatment and probable risks with the patient’s family. In the absence of official and transparent information on health, rumours and speculations spread. A newspaper reported that doctors suspected dementia and another reported he was suffering from neurological issues and yet another said he suffered a head injury.
On the other hand, the courts of law have not thought it’s necessary to take up the bail case of the ailing, 80-year old Covid patient on an urgency basis. The court did not take up the bail petition or Hemalata’s new affidavit on July 17 and went on postponing it to July 20 to July 23 to July 27. In the meanwhile, National Investigation Agency filed a counter alleging that Varavara Rao was trying to take undue benefit of age and Covid!
On July 27, the High Court heard the pleas and directed the hospital to submit Rao’s medical report within three days, and then the court would decide whether it could be shared with his family or not. The case was postponed to August 7. It also directed the hospital to allow family to visit “subject to hospital protocols with regard to Covid patients.” The hospital in turn, said the protocols would not permit meeting and allowed a video conference on July 31.
The video conference showed that Rao was still physically weak and psychologically suffering from delirium, incoherence and loss of sense of time. Even as the family was traumatised to see him in such a condition, neither the political establishment nor the judiciary thought it necessary to consider the case either on legal or humanitarian basis or on the basis of principles of natural justice.
At the time of writing this, it is eleven days since the video conference and there is no news from anywhere. No official health bulletin from hospital or jail, not even the medical report submitted to the High Court made available to the family.
If such is the treatment meted out to a highly-respected, world-renowned elderly poet, that too in the face of such a huge expression of solidarity, what would be the attitude of this establishment towards helpless, voiceless adivasis, dalits, minorities, women and all downtrodden?
That the 1991 reforms marked a major watershed in India’s economic history is surely beyond argument. No waiting list for cars and scooters, no special license for securing foreign exchange for studying abroad, no gold smuggling and no more the dread of customs officers at the airports”
“The world has changed substantially since the 1990s and so has India. The country is now carving a niche in the global markets which has so far been dominated by developed countries”.
These quotes were taken from issues of the Economic and Political Weekly (EPW).1) The consumerist glee seen in the first of them is of someone wholly supportive of the neoliberal turn taken by the Indian State in 1991. Rajeev Kumar (presently the vice-chair of the NITI Ayog) has some concern about the inequality that has accompanied it. Still, he believes that this can be handled and resolved, continuing with a neoliberal agenda adjusted to India. Greater integration with the world economy is declared as a ‘major achievement’. Above all he is quite certain that the reforms had a very large dose of indigenous inputs. He claims that they were based on domestic research and advocacy.
The second quote is from someone addressing a very different concern. Ramdas Rupvath was writing about the discrimination and humiliation suffered by Dalit and Adivasi students in institutes of higher education. Well aware of the social, economic roots of the prejudices they are victims of, he squarely targets the varna/caste system as anti-social and anti-national. He also points out that opportunities have become even more unequal and uncertain post-liberalisation. The fruits of its growth go to a tiny rich class.
Coming from distinctly different spaces, Kumar and Rupavath articulate sharply different concerns. Yet, as seen in these quotes, both are convinced about one thing — India has ‘arrived’ on the world stage. Indeed, this is a dominant theme among a great majority of the middle class. And that includes many otherwise critical of the state of affairs in the country. It is almost an article of faith, an unquestionable frame of reference. It was also the overriding theme of most of the articles that came in newspapers and magazines, marking the 25th anniversary of the 1991 reforms. Many of them made it a point to deny any foreign compulsion and insisted on their indigenous origin.
Montek Singh Ahluwalia’s article is symptomatic of this viewpoint. Refuting allegations that these reforms were imposed by the IMF, he writes, “This completely ignores the fact that there was a home-grown process of rethinking on economic policy that had been underway and pointed towards many changes. These changes certainly formed part of the conditionality of the IMF’s assistance, because the IMF’s supposed to lend only in situations where the government has a credible adjustment programme. The IMF obviously approved the reforms in that sense, but that is not the same thing as saying it dictated the contents”.2) He then goes on to enumerate various proposals and initiatives, beginning from the late 1970s onwards, aimed at changing economic policy. They culminated in a paper authored by himself in 1990. Its contents mostly anticipated the reforms of 1991. Ahluwalia cites the discussion of this paper in a Government of India (GOI) Committee of Secretaries as proof of these proposals “…being considered internally, well before any IMF arrangements was contemplated”.
We need not dispute this account given by a leading architect of the 1990 reforms. But does it really settle the matter? Can the mere fact of a policy paper being discussed by some GOI Secretaries, or the policy shift carried out since the 1990s, determine that the reforms were of internal origin? Ahluwalia supplies the answer in his unwitting admission — the policy changes proposed by the Narasimha Rao Government were precisely those which formed the conditionalities of the IMF loan. The conditionalities of the IMF were directed at ensuring structural adjustments suited to the neo-liberal agenda. They were not advisory in nature. A country seeking IMF assistance could not amend or reject them. They were inviolable, an imposition. That is the crux of the matter. It stands confirmed by the fact that almost all third world countries had to adopt similar policy shifts during that period.3))
An imposition need not take the form of an explicit diktat. It could well be achieved through the loan seeking government pre-indicating willingness to fulfil IMF conditions. Considering that the prior acceptance of a structural adjustment programme was a must, it would make eminent sense for a desperate government to declare its compliance well in advance. Keep in mind that while the ‘balance of payment’ crisis was brought to quick maturation by the first Gulf War, the motion towards it was already evident by the late 1980s. Therefore, the fact that the policy shift was proposed and debated upon even before approaching the IMF really doesn’t prove Ahluwalia’s claim.
The collapse of the Soviet Union had a direct impact on the Indian economy. It severely weakened the Indian ruling class. They had to fall in line with the ‘Washington Consensus’ and accept the neoliberal ‘globalisation, privatisation and liberalisation’ (GPL) agenda promoted by the US, now the sole super power. Whether as an IMF conditionality or not, structural adjustments to give free play to neoliberal policies were inevitable. Later, structural adjustments incorporating the GPL agenda, became a permanent, inviolable condition, an inseparable part of the Indian economy (and of other third world economies) through the 1993 GATT Agreement and the World Trade Organisation’s (WTO) directives.
All of this is public knowledge since long. Why do Ahluwalia and Kumar then persist in insisting on the ‘domestic pedigree’ of the 1991 reforms? Theirs is not an attempt at covering up. No, they wholeheartedly believe that, in full view of the facts. And that makes it worth probing further.
What immediately strikes one is the blurring of the distinction between the internal and external. There has been a continuous exchange of technocrats and academicians between the GOI (and various Indian institutions) and imperialist agencies like the World Bank, IMF and Asian Development Bank (ADB). This became particularly noticeable from the 1980s onwards. Manmohan Singh, Ahluwalia himself, Raghuram Rajan, Arvind Subramanian and Arvind Panagriya and Urjit Patel — these are some of the recent examples.
Those who serve at the IMF and similar agencies are inevitably conditioned by the current set of ideas or policy framework being prescribed by them. When these technocrats came back to occupy key positions in GOI and articulate policy, they are invariably guided, inspired, by the thinking imbibed and argued for while working in those imperialist agencies. Kumar’s claim about the ‘Indian origin’ of the reforms very well brings this out. His justification is that researchers ‘well versed in the Indian ground realities’4) had presented reform measures in a ‘readily comprehensive form’ to the political leadership and other policy makers well before the formal acceptance of IMF conditionalities. Kumar has added a note to his article to prove this. It informs us about a study prepared by a team, including himself, for the ADB in 1989. In his words, “It is noteworthy that many of these measures (ie. those proposed in the study) were replicated in the structural reforms matrix presented by the IMF.”, as conditionality for its loan.
There is nothing surprising about this ‘replication’. After all the ADB is a key player among imperialist agencies. Going by the information provided by Kumar, there is also nothing surprising about his considering an external, foreign, set of ideas as ‘internally’ generated. For people like him and Ahluwalia this will only appear as a seamless flow of ideas, which they share and willingly act upon. For them there is nothing separating the indigenous from the foreign in this matter.
This approach is by no means restricted to IMF-WB returnees. A great many academicians and all top level administrators are tutored or directly trained, in imperialist thinking. Quite naturally enough, the contribution made by them to governance and economic policies remain within the framework of imperialist thought. Nothing is imposed. The external is internalised. The articulation becomes country specific without even a trace of its foreign origins.
Whether they be foreign returnees or home-based ones, consideration of the Indian economy as one enmeshed (not integrated) in the global imperialist system is simply missing. This stands in sharp contrast to the thinking of the local elites during the colonial period. They could not but be acutely aware of British India’s dependent status and its debilitating consequences. The British origins and biases of policies executed by the colonial administration were all too plain. Hence, even while remaining loyal subjects of the British empire, some among them produced weighty studies exposing the plunder of the imperial metropolis and expressing local interests in opposition to metropolitan capital.
The transfer of power in 1947 promoted a transition from this mind-set to a new one. To get an idea of this transformation and the characteristics of the new consciousness, we must first get acquainted with the colonial mind, the mind of the elite colonial subject. Awestruck by the political and economic might of the colonial power and grieving one’s own backwardness — such was its main character. The local elites were eager to imitate the colonial masters in all public spheres of their lives. The metropolis was acclaimed as the model to aspire to. Along with this, the colonial mind was also quite disgruntled. Even the richest, even those with royal lineage, or those who had demonstrated academic acumen, were still treated as inferior ‘locals’ by colonial masters. They remained lesser subjects compared to those in colonies populated by ‘whites’. They were denied dominion status. Dissatisfaction engendered by such discrimination, coupled with the drain of wealth, crystalised over time into political opposition expressed as anti-colonialism.
By 1947 an elite intellectual stratum had taken form. It was composed of elements from the comprador, feudal and upper middle classes. They became the formulators and executors of economic measures adopted by the new state. A good many were driven by a zeal to build an India capable of taking a prominent role in the world arena. Brahmanist claims about a glorious past and a desire to ‘retake’ it were intertwined with their ambitions. This was not simply a false image meant for deceiving the people. For the new rulers and their ideologues, independence was nothing more than the ending of colonial rule. Hence they sincerely believed that they were engaged in building an independent country. They were convinced about its feasibility. Getting rid of economic backwardness was their priority. But their very class nature ruled out radical reforms in agriculture and other spheres. Considering the building of an industrial base as a necessary condition and constrained by paucity of capital and technology they eagerly sought ‘foreign aid’.
Initially, some imperialist powers like the US were opposed to their plans. The new rulers succeeded in crossing this obstacle by relying on other powers. The whole experience and similar instances in other fields went to further strengthen the illusion of independence. Sharp contradictions between the capitalist bloc and the erstwhile socialist camp and later between the two super power blocs (led by US and the erstwhile Soviet Social Imperialism) allowed room for their manoeuvring and bargaining.
The uppermost strata were well aware of India’s actual position in the world order. This was realised as limits on their independence. Their immediate dealings with the world powers repeatedly underlined this real status, especially during recurring crisis. The middle class, distant from such experiences, was however firmly convinced of India’s ‘importance’ in world affairs as an independent country. It was quite taken in by ruling class hype. Such are the main characteristics of the neo-colonial mind. It mainly manifests as a sense of independence, even while the country remains dependent.
Formal independence of the erstwhile colonies is an essential feature, a vital requirement of neo-colonialism. That distinguishes it from colonialism. Instead of direct control exercised in the political sphere under colonialism, indirect control becomes the norm. This emerges from the very trajectory, the origins and evolution of neo-colonialism. Principally, it did not come from the internal economic dynamism of imperialism. Rather, it was a political response, something forced on it by the tide of anti-colonial and national liberation struggles. In countries like China this high tide was expressed as a revolution challenging the imperialist order. For imperialism, the success of the new global architecture hinged on the degree to which the tide of revolt could be turned back. The semblance of independence in the erstwhile colonies thus became crucial for the emerging neo-colonial world order. The imperialist powers had to concede this, even if grudgingly.
Even then they tried to retain their direct control in the economic sphere. This was true of the US too, which was promoting ‘decolonisation’ as a stratagem to weaken major colonial powers like Britain and France. Wherever possible, imperialism tried to prevent any development that would weaken its direct economic grip. It sought to retain existing forms of exploitation and plunder of oppressed nations. This impacted the interests of the new rulers in the neo-colonies. They were keen on building and strengthening their own base, in order to be in a better position to bargain. This tug of interests inevitably became a prominent aspect of the relations between imperialist powers and third world ruling classes. The shift to indirect control of the economies of semi-feudal, semi-colonial countries under neo-colonialism took place over time. Primarily, it was enabled by the perfection of new means for imperialist penetration, such as tied aid, transfer of obsolete technology and conditional loans from imperialist agencies during crisis period.
The new ruling classes remained subservient to imperialism as a whole. Yet, the legitimacy of their rule, their ideological hegemony, ultimately rested on the claim of heading an independent country Wherever the communists or other revolutionary forces succeeded in gaining leadership of the struggle against the colonial power they took it forward as a broad anti-imperialist, anti-feudal struggle. This forced the compradors and feudal classes in those countries to increasingly reveal their true nature as servitors of imperialism. In situations where revolutionary forces failed to gain leadership and power was transferred to the exploiting classes, they presented themselves as champions of independence. Having cornered the leadership of the struggle during the colonial period, they could conceal their nature and appear as genuine leaders of a quest to consolidate independence and achieve development. This appeared as a continuation of their leading role in the anti-colonial struggle.
The bolstering and perfecting of the semblance of independence in both the political and economic realms was vital for the new ruling classes. The backing away of imperialism from retaining direct control over neo-colonial economics and the fleshing out of neo-colonialism, was however mainly realised through the working out of the contradiction between imperialism and oppressed nations and people. Though the contradictions between third world ruling class and imperialist powers also had a role in this it was secondary. These remained essentially non-antagonistic, within the imperialist system. Opposition expressed by any third world state was always with one or the other imperialist power or bloc. It was never against the imperialist system as such. The limits of anti-colonial struggle that had posed the ending of colonial rule as independence was thus revealed. For the comprador and feudal classes that limit was inherent in their class character. But for the classes that rallied under their leadership and thus failed to go beyond anti-colonialism, it was an unconscious internalisation of comprador thought. It was also a process through which they were co-opted into the hegemonic consensus being forged by the rulers-to-be. They remained trapped in a false consciousness that presented dependence as independence.
Those lacking in a consistent anti-imperialist stand inevitably failed in breaking away from imperialist thinking. That frame of thought and the policies it generated appeared to them as value free universal principles. Imperialism’s active role in shaping and influencing the academic world of neo-colonies complemented and strengthened the disguised subservience it spawned. Hence, for the neo-colonial mind, measures of imperialist control and exploitation are never seen as external impositions. They are considered as arising from the internal dynamics of the country, necessitated by its development quest. The neo-colonial mind is blind to the imperialist system in which the country is enmeshed. Blocked from the real world by the false consciousness of independence and its articulation as narrow nationalism, the neo-colonial intellectual/technocrat proposes and pursues policies that heighten imperialism’s grip ever more, while believing they will strengthen the country. Participation in neo-colonial bodies like the IMF, WB, G-20 and so on is seen as a matter of self-willed choice and recognition of one’s country’s powers.
It is not the case that the neo-colonial subjects have no contradiction with imperialism. We earlier saw the differentiation within this. There is the antagonistic contradiction the oppressed people have with the imperialist system. And there is also the non-antagonistic contradictions third world ruling classes have with this or the other imperialist power. Consequently, the manner in which these contradictions are grasped varies. For the ruling classes, bred and shaped by imperialism, this is a matter of bargaining. That is not how it is experienced by other classes such as the national bourgeoisie, middle class, peasantry and workers. Yet, to the extent they are under the sway of ruling class hegemonic consensus, the neo-colonial mind dominates. Apparent similarity is seen between their understanding of the country’s position in the world, world events and that of the ruling classes. The difference lies in their patriotism as opposed to the compradorism of the rulers. However, that patriotism fails in its subjective desire to be independent when it remains trapped in the neo-colonial frame of thought. In the final analysis it ends strengthening the ruling class’s hegemonic consensus and dependence on the imperialist system. This is true even when it is expressed in the form of militant nationalism.
An instance of this dynamism that readily comes to mind is the Indira Gandhi government’s stand-off with the US in 1971 on the Bangladesh issue. Despite facing threatening moves by the US, the Indian government stuck to its plan to intervene in the Bangladesh liberation war and ensure the break-up of Pakistan. The ruling class celebrated it as proof of India’s independent foreign policy and standing in the world. This stance and India’s victory in the 1971 war were hailed by the broad masses with great fervour. In the midst of this what went unnoticed was the backing given by the erstwhile Soviet social imperialism and its tightening grip through the Indo-Soviet Treaty. Thus the patriotism of the masses became a means of legitimising greater subservience to social imperialism and, through it, to the imperialist system as a whole.
Having noted some of the salient features of the neo-colonial mind, we shall now return to the matter of 1991 policy shift. The occasion of the 25th anniversary has been used by some intellectuals to grieve the years ‘lost’ preceding that shift. A rather simplistic lesson is drawn by comparing the rapid growth of South East Asian countries in that period with the slow pace seen in India. It is argued that these countries ‘succeeded’ because they had opened up to foreign capital quite early and boosted exports. India, on the contrary, remained a closed economy insisting on ‘import substitution’. Note that the position of these countries in the post-World War 2 political and economic architecture of the imperialist system simply does not figure in this argument. When that is taken into consideration, the key role played by the strategic moves of the US in their growth would stand out.
The importance given by the US to these countries was closely related to its strategy of containing the impact of Socialist China and the growing national liberation struggles. The Vietnam War, pitting a communist led people’s war against the US and allies, soon turned into a focal point. Countries like Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, Taiwan and South Korea became even more important for the US. This was the global context enabling and shaping the economies of these countries through ‘export-led growth’. Yet, for all that, they remained as links in the imperialist value-commodity chain, as component suppliers to transnational corporates. In recent decades, a few monopolies from these countries have emerged as significant players in consumer goods production. But then, so too have Indian corporates. Besides, import substitution was by no means unique to India. In its heyday, it was standard policy in a number of third world countries, particularly the bigger ones. Their common inspiration was a neo-colonial development model then favoured by some imperialist circles. It was seen as a means to deepen imperialist penetration through project tied loans and limited export of technology. Whether ‘export-led’ or ‘import-substituted’ they ultimately contributed to a strengthening of dependence. The Indian neo-colonial mind is bitter about having been denied the opportunity to indulge in consumerist orgies along with its fellows in South East Asian countries. In doing so it blinds itself to the hollowness of those economies, sharply exposed in the crisis that hit them in the late 1990s. Big corporates like Daewoo simply collapsed. A huge chunk of locally owned industrial assets was snatched up for a trifle by imperialist corporates. Their dependence on imperialism stood out in all its ugliness.
Incidentally, the Indian economy escaped the worst of the 2007 global financial crisis precisely because it had not yet opened up to full capital convertibility. This was something insistently demanded by the IMF and local technocrats. But, just around the time the clamour to fully open up capital markets reached a high pitch, the South East Asian ‘Tigers’ started collapsing. Given their ‘openness’ they were unable to control capital flight. It was this turn, rather than the prudence of this or that RBI Governor, that delayed full capital convertibility. And that turned out to be quite beneficial when the 2007 crisis hit the world.
The neo-colonial mind is still stuck up in a time warp lamenting the slow pace of ‘opening up’. Meanwhile, an influential and growing section in imperialist ruling circles and its agencies have moved on. Full capital convertibility is seen by them as a major risk. It is no longer advised. The sharp rise in inequality following implementation of GPL policies is recognised as a serious destabilising factor. The neo-liberal policy set is being amended. A trend arguing for this had emerged by the late 1990s and early 2000 itself with calls for ‘gobalisation with human face’ and ‘inclusive government’. What is significant is the broader respectability this has gained in the IMF-WB officialdom and its promotion through their official journals.5)) Even then, the main thrust of the neo-liberal agenda still retains its venomous bite. Conditions imposed on Greece for a bailout loan are a sharp reminder of this.
The slowdown of reforms during the UPA rule and attempts to ‘revive’ it under the NDA-2 has been a prominent theme in neo-colonial academic, political circles. There certainly was a ‘slowdown’. Objective factors underlay it. By the late 1990s and early years of 2000s, broad mass struggle broke out in many parts of the country. They were mainly focused on the forced displacement of peasants and Adivasis from their lands for the sake of multinational-Indian corporate projects and Special Economic Zones. The ruling classes had to take this into account, particularly because they aided the growth and spread of the Maoist movement in some regions. Taking a cue from imperialist circles, and lessons from the miserable defeat of NDA-I in 2004, the UPA started parroting ‘globalisation with human face’. It initiated reformist programmes like MNREGA and adopted new acts meant to blunt struggles from below. The aggressive promotion of GPL was rolled back to a great extent.
As usual, the neo-colonial mind grasps this as its own product. The conclusion “India is not suited to the application of Washington Consensus” is presented as original thought “emerging from Indian reality”.6) Imperialist finance capital is renamed by some as ‘global capital’. Defying all indicators of deepening dependency it is even claimed that global capitalism “has been created’ within India!7)
It is not that those who state such views are unaware of policy rethinking taking place in imperialist circles. They consider this merely as an enabling factor. The real impetus, in their view, comes from internal developments. Imperialist agencies certainly do not produce policies purely from their own thought or conditions. Political, social and economic developments in third world countries are under their constant observation. Sensing the mood of the broad masses is an important part of this. The comprador rulers and intellectuals are vital sources in this process. There is continuous interaction with them. But, ultimately, policy is set at the global level by imperialist think tanks and agencies serving finance capital. The comprador, the neo-colonial mind, won’t experience this as an external input. After all, they too have been part of its evolution. Yet they still are not the deciding factor, for the formulation of policy. This is the crux, however incomprehensible it is to the neo-colonial mind.
Let us go back to the ‘slowdown-revival’ theme posed and debated in neo-colonial circles. One notes a near total absence of any reference to the 2007 global crisis and the long drawn out global recession it caused. If we are to really understand what happened and is happening in our economy, this must be factored in. In the initial years of the crisis China and India (and a few other third world countries) were able to maintain their growth and remained stable. Restrictions on capital convertibility played a major role in this. The relative stability of these economies was an important factor aiding the imperialist powers to ride out the worst years of the crisis. However, given the enmeshing of these economies in the imperialist system this could not be sustained for long. By 2010/11 the continuing recession in imperialist countries started impacting them. Furthermore, the UPA-2 got caught up in the uncertainties of its coalition politics.
A stable government that could vigorously push the GPL agenda became a pressing necessity. This underlay the all-out backing given to Modi and the BJP led NDA by the ruling classes and imperialists. The payback is now appearing as a stepped up effort to carry out GPL. It is not just a matter of economic policies. Concerted efforts to stifle democratic protest through deploying fascist hordes of the Sangh Parivar, the attempt to disarm the masses by fanning up narrow nationalism and massive increase in para-forces deployment in areas of struggle are all part of this step up.
Despite all this and the haste to attract foreign capital, growth rates have kept on falling. Banking is in a mess. Fresh, local investment is stagnant. Demonetisation and GST have further worsened things. The biggest chunk of India’s industry is in the unorganised medium, small and tiny sectors. They are suffering the most, along with the rural economy. The answer is sought by the Modi government in a more desperate effort to attract foreign capital. Every instance of foreign capital coming in, even if it is mainly portfolio investment in the share, debt markets, is hailed as proof of the Indian economy’s strength and confidence in the present ruling dispensation.
Apart from seeking profits from differences in interest rates, the recession in imperialist countries also leads finance capital to seize profitable investment opportunities in countries like India that still retain some buoyancy. Thus, a few sectors like urban transportation have seen fresh foreign investment. We can see this in the race for metro networks, even in cities that still don’t even have proper roads. Huge amounts of finance capital, in the form of loans, are flowing in to fund these projects. They give recession stricken rail industries in imperialist countries some reprieve. The ‘smart cities’ project is another example of opening up new avenues for profit seeking finance capital. It is predicated on a wholesale privatisation of municipal services.
Control over finance capital is the key lever in the global imperialist system. According to a study by a research group in Switzerland, just 20 imperialist transnational financial corporates control almost all the big corporates in the world. No matter how many companies the Tatas or Ambanis buy up in imperialist countries, even if more than half of their income originate in global operations, they remain comprador midgets before these giants. The composition of India’s relatively higher growth rate is itself reflective of the country’s true status. It is mainly consumption driven. Industrial production does not contribute even one third.
Ramadas Rupavath has plainly got his facts wrong. Let alone ‘carving niches’ India’s performance in the ‘global market place’ is still quite negligible. But, more than the factual error, what is most worrying is the shocking knowledge that even someone like Rupvath, who stands with the oppressed, is trapped in the discourse of the neo-colonial mind. We are forcefully reminded that an unapologetic, aggressive anti-imperialism is by no means outdated. We need more of it in higher doses.
(Written in October 2016 and updated in January 2018)
|1.||↑||‘Making Reform Work for the People’, Rajiv Kumar; EPW, Vol 51, No: 19 and ‘Confronting Everyday Humiliation: Response from an Adivasi’, Ramdas Rupvath, EPW, Vol 51, No: 31.|
|2.||↑||‘The 1990s Reforms: How Home Grown Were They?’, EPW, Vol 51, No 29, p 39.|
|3.||↑||Between 1982 and 1990 the number of ‘upper tranche’ loans with at least 11 conditionalities grew from 5 to 60%. WB structural adjustment loans went up from 3 to 25% in 1981–1996. (EPW Volume 52, no 33, note 6 on p 92.|
|4.||↑||Rajeev Kumar, op. cit, p 35|
|5.||↑||‘IMF’s Auto critique of neo-liberalism?’, Pritam Singh, EPW, Vol: 51, No 32. An article in the IMF’s official magazine has admitted that “the claim that neo-liberalism always contributed to economic growth is difficult to sustain”. (p 39|
|6.||↑||Kumar, op cit, p 55.|
|7.||↑||‘Indian Economy in Transition’, Anjan Chakrabarti, EPW, Vol 51, No: 29, p 64.|
Former Delhi University professor G N Saibaba on Thursday moved the Nagpur bench of the Bombay High Court to seek ’emergency parole’ on the ground of his mother’s death.
The HC has issued a notice to the state government on his application, returnable by August 18.
Saibaba, convicted by a Gadchiroli court in 2017 for “Naxal links and indulging in activities amounting to waging a war against the country”, is serving life term in Nagpur’s Central Prison.
His 74-year old mother had died of cancer in Hyderabad on August 1. He had applied for death parole from the jail authorities last week to attend the post-funeral rites, but it was denied, with authorities saying, “it can’t be granted as he is a different kind of prisoner”.
Saibaba had earlier also sought parole to meet his ailing mother who had expressed a wish to see her son before death. That application was also rejected by the authorities.
The HC had rejected his bail plea twice, in March and July, sought first on health ground and subsequently on health ground arising due to the spread of coronavirus disease in prison, and also to visit his ailing mother. The HC had, however, agreed with the jail authorities, saying he was being taken care of properly in the prison.
On Thursday, Saibaba, through his counsel Mihir Desai, approached the HC for ’emergency parole’ on the ground of his mother’s death. Special Public Prosecutor Prashant Sathianathan sought time to reply.
A division bench of Justice A S Chandurkar and Justice Amit Borkar issued notice to the state government, returnable by August 18.
The Proletarian Internationalism Association has just published a new book entitled “Azadi” by our comrade and social anthropologist Adolfo Naya, this time the book is a short fictional story based on real events and a statement from the PCI (Maoist) which shows how they fight the masses in India, especially women. A tribute to Comrade Shruti and all the women and men of India who are willing to give their lives for a society without classes, castes, racism and patriarchy. The cover is made by our comrade and recently deceased Xosé Portela.
According to the author: “Azadi is a short story of an immediate struggle to end the exploitation, oppression and savage violence of big business and the Indian state. But it is also a long-term struggle where a different way of living is projected and built. Azadi is a little story of a girl fighting for a better world “
From the Galician Committee in Support of the People’s War in India, we welcome this initiative and recommend reading the book.
Delhi Police have detained many of our comrades at the protest today called by Students for Democratic Voice demanding immediate release of our professor Dr. Hany Babu, who is falsely arrested in relation to fabricated Bhima Koregaon case. Delhi Police aggressively disrupted the protest, chased students away and detained our comrades Sushil, Rajvir, Sangeeta, Abhigyan and others from DSU and other organizations including BSCEM and AISA. The police is threatening to charge cases against the detained! The fascist BJP government and Delhi Police is scuttling all spaces for democratic voices and protest. This attack on students and activists by Delhi Police must be resisted! We demand immediate release of our comrades! We shall continue to speak for democracy and all voices including Hany Babu and all others who are jailed for standing up!
DEMOCRATIC STUDENTS’ UNION
RESIST THE FASCIST ONSLAUGHT ON EDUCATION! We are all familiar with the condition of students during the Covid-19 pandemic situation. Education shapes the world-view of the society at large and thus represents the way we wish to conduct our everyday lives. Thus, Government policy decisions on education will have a deep impact on our social, economic and political realities. The New Economic Policy paves the way for the privatisation and commercialisation of education. Much before this immediate moment of crisis, the Hindutva fascist government had been privatising and saffronising the education system for its own benefits with the aid of the corporate ruling class. The government has previously distorted the content from the CBSE curriculum in certain cases, and in others cases completely removed chapters to fit their own agenda. These anti-student, anti-poor policies have often driven students to farther ends of life, pushing them into suicide. It is therefore critical to engage and evaluate the kind of changes brought about through this policy to mitigate the problems and challenges it creates.
At the time of drafting of the Indian Constitution, Article 45 of the Indian Constitution vested in itself a promise to the citizens: every child till the age of 14 will receive mandatory education, free of charge, and the state must deliver on that within 10 years. The Constitution (Eighty-sixth Amendment) Act, 2002 inserted Article 21-A in the Constitution of India to provide free and compulsory education of all children in the age group of six to fourteen years as a Fundamental Right in such a manner as the State may, by law. The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act, 2009, is a legislation envisaged under Article 21-A, states that every child has a right to full time elementary education of satisfactory and equitable quality in a formal school which satisfies certain essential norms and standards. In particular, this right never saw complete execution leading to almost half of all enrolled students to be called ‘drop outs’ [Press Information Bureau Data].
On 29th July, Union Ministers Prakash Javadekar and Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank held a cabinet briefing in which they released the Cabinet-approved National Educational Policy (NEP), 2020. This new policy is a blow that will have an enormous impact on both primary and higher education of this country. The main problems have been highlighted below.
Of the 39931 colleges in India, only 22% are government colleges [All India Survey on Higher Education 2018-2019]. The WTO-GATT dictated Structural Adjustment Programmes are aimed towards the privatisation of the entire education sector – including these remaining colleges. The NMC Bill passed in 2019 also restructured the medical educational sector by granting power to the private institutes to determine fees of 50% of the seats, removing government authority over them. By the logic of “stopping commercialization of education”, they have pushed for an education policy which completely restructures the pedagogy towards more profit-centric goals by increasing the scope of private and foreign investment. In the name of “Indian Knowledge Systems, Languages, Culture and Values”, it is clear that the fascist Hindutva government will attempt indoctrination of conservative and traditional ideas which fit with the “Hindi-Hindu-Hindustan” narrative. The three language system will be implemented in the country out of which two will be local languages. Hindi will be promoted heavily in the non-Hindi speaking states, keeping in mind the need of “national unity”. Sanskrit will be mainstreamed, in spite of it being a language not used for communication anymore and offering a scope in only research. The stress laid on the promotion of Sanskrit is not at all seen in the cases of languages like Pali, Prakrit and Persian which are grouped together.
It has promoted online educational programmes and it officially claimed “[Point 10.10] All ODL (Online Distance Learning) programmes (and their components) leading to any diploma or degree will be of standards and quality equivalent to the highest quality programmes run by the HEIs on their campuses.” NSSO data on internet connectivity and access in Indian households shows us that only well-to-do urban households would have unlimited access to high speed internet. Even post-lockdown, students have committed suicide simply because they did not have access to online classes in many places in India. Most of the students would never be able to attend online classes (requiring high speed unlimited data for video conferencing software) and neither able to download videos. In Kashmir, the authorities have imposed a draconian internet shutdown with only 2G services allowed. This highlights the anti-people character of the New National Education Policy.
Children will be exposed to vocational training [Point 16] post-Standard VI. Since the government has not developed the infrastructure enough to provide jobs, this would lead to a huge pool of cheap labour for the corporates. Even the Multiple Entry-Exit system [Point 11.8] where the students will be handed certificates for dropping out without completing their degree instead of the government attempting to solve their problems, will lead to the same effect – as without degrees, they will not be deemed legitimate for government services. For the sake of profit for the wealthy businessmen, the ever so busy in boot-licking Govt. which is nothing more than a broker for these businessmen does not keep its hands off of institutions of education and healthcare. To pursue the medical sciences for study is unimaginable for the poor and lower-middle class families. The lauded job with a permanent tenure of an engineer is reserved for the select few; while polytechnic and vocational courses suffer from lack of infrastructure along with the jobs in that field being unsteady and wearying.
The casteist Hindutva government has not provided any concrete measures to bridge the discriminatory gap in education between the upper castes and the lower castes of India. The future of the ST, SC and OBC students have been left in the dark, since the NEP only projects lofty goals and ideals to make the bill seem pro-people. While the Supreme Court upheld the 25% reservation in private institutes, no legislature was passed from the Parliament. That is why the privatisation of the education sector will effectively lead to an anti-reservation drive, a goal the Sangh Parivar had set out to accomplish long ago.
The M. Phil degree has been discontinued [Point 11.9]. The M. Phil degree served as the link to the long term commitments to research courses like Ph. D. course. With the discontinuation of the M. Phil degree, the under-privileged students will be less exposed to training for research – actively discouraging them from venturing into the research field. This deepens the existing divide between students from different class backgrounds.
The Policy also aims to centralise education for the profiteers, violating whatever was left of the country’s quasi-federal structure, and attempts to intervene upon the freedom and autonomy of the Universities – “[Point 20.4] A single regulator, the National Higher Education Regulatory Authority (NHERA), will be set up to regulate in a ‘light but tight’ and facilitative manner, meaning that a few important matters – particularly financial probity, good governance, and full online and offline public disclosure of all finances, procedures, faculty/staff, courses, and educational outcomes”. The dissolution of UGC, formation of NHERA, bureaucratization of education through the formation of a specialist Indian Education Service and the role of Registrars reporting directly to the government regarding any major university decisions aims at completely snatching away autonomy from the Universities. It also removes the necessity for the universities to develop their infrastructure. Taking into consideration that it’s virtually impossible to regulate such a large and diverse education sector with one national regulator, it will lead to active encouragement on part of “private philanthropic” groups to engage in activities comprising “quality education”. Formation of regulatory bodies will be encouraged in private Universities and colleges giving them unprecedented freedom to pursue their objective of making profits out of the students.
The dreams that the government is showing to the people, are castles built on thin air. While the carefully worded document has led many to misinterpret its anti-student and anti-people nature, it has laid the foundations of dismantling the education system in the very same document. The fascist Hindutva government is utilising the lockdown to restructure the education system for their needs and profits. What can be done in the Parliament, can be undone in the streets.
We understand that the NEP is a multi-layered document produced by the Hindutva government to alter the course of the education sector of India. We appeal to all progressive and democratic individuals and organisations to unmask the NEP.
Reject NEP 2020.
RSF opposes the privatisation and saffronisation of the education sector.
RSF opposes the offensive the fascist Hindutva forces have launched upon the education system.
As many as 10 central trade unions have given a call for observing nationwide protest on August 9 against the policies of the government, a statement said on Wednesday.
On 9th August, the ‘Quit India Day’ should be observed as ‘Save India Day’ through countrywide stayagraha, jail bharo or any other form of militant agitations in all workplaces, industrial centres, district headquarters and rural areas, the joint statement by 10 central trade unions said.
The 10 unions are INTUC, AITUC, HMS, CITU AIUTUC, TUCC, SEWA, AICCTU, LPF and UTUC. There are 12 central trade unions in the country.
“The united platform of Central Trade Unions and Federations /Associations called upon to step up the struggles against the anti-people, anti-worker policies of the government both on sectoral and national level with continuity,” the statement said.
It stated that on the day of coal workers strike on 18th August 2020, militant solidarity actions in all workplaces and the PSUs in particular; possibility of strike action should be explored wherever is possible.
The defence sector unions and federations have been jointly planning to give notice for strike on the basis of the strike ballot approved by more than 99 per cent workers.
They may go for strike action sometimes in mid-September 2020.
The statement noted that the Scheme workers’ unions and federations (Anganwadi, ASHA, Mid Day Meal etc) have jointly decided to go for two days strike on 7th and 8th August which will converge with countrywide agitation on August 9.
It has also been decided to continue countrywide campaign against the government move on railway privatization in coordination with the unions/federations with the Railway Sector and also independently, it added.
Railway federations have reported that they are also planning and preparing for their response/actions at appropriate time.
Un séminaire international réunissant des organisations de jeunes et d’étudiants révolutionnaires du monde entier a eu lieu pour parler de Varavara Rao, prisonnier politique révolutionnaire en Inde. Voilà la situation que l’Etat réactionnaire indien fait subir à cet artiste :
Le prisonnier politique, poète et activiste Varavara Rao a été testé positif au coronavirus quelques jours après que sa famille ait publiquement exprimé son inquiétude pour sa santé, exhortant les autorités à ne pas le “tuer en prison”.
L’activiste et poète Telugu, âgé de 80 ans, est en prison depuis deux ans en raison de l’affaire Elgar Parishad. Rao se trouvait dans la prison Taloja de Navi Mumbai (Nouvelle Bombay) où sa santé se détériorait depuis la fin du mois de mai. Il a été transféré à l’hôpital JJ de Mumbai lundi soir après s’être plaint d’étourdissements.
“Il n’a montré aucun symptôme de COVID-19 jusqu’à présent. Il n’a aucune difficulté à respirer et est stable. Nous le transférerons bientôt dans un hôpital COVID-19”, selon la déclaration du Dr Ranjit Mankeshwar, le doyen de l’hôpital JJ, rapporté par The News Minute
Le Dr Mankeshwar a déclaré que les allégations des membres de sa famille selon lesquelles il ne recevrait pas de soins médicaux appropriés n’étaient pas vraies.
“Nous lui fournissons les meilleurs équipements de santé et d’ici jeudi soir, il pourrait être transféré à l’hôpital St George (un autre hôpital public) pour un traitement plus approfondi”, a déclaré Mankeshwar.
Pendant ce temps, des détails choquants concernant son état de santé sont apparus après que sa famille ait essayé de lui rendre visite à l’hôpital JJ. Une lettre d’Human Rights Defenders Alert affirme que lors de sa visite à Rao, les membres de sa famille l’ont trouvé allongé dans un “état inhumain” dans un bassin d’urine dans une salle de transit sans traitement ni accompagnateur. “Lorsque son neveu a essayé de changer ses draps trempés d’urine, la famille a été jetée dehors par le personnel de l’hôpital”, selon la lettre, citée dans un article sur Newsclick.
La famille de Rao a également affirmé qu’il avait des hallucinations et a parlé des funérailles de son père, un événement qui a eu lieu il y a 75 ans, selon un article de Scroll.
Venugopal a déclaré que son co-accusé et ancien universitaire Vernon Gonsalves lui avait avait dit que Rao était “incapable de marcher tout seul, incapable d’aller aux toilettes, de se laver ou de se brosser les dents”.
Rao avait également dû être hospitalisé en mai lorsqu’il est tombé inconscient en prison. Il est cependant sorti de l’hôpital dans les trois jours, après quoi sa famille a déclaré qu’il n’avait pas reçu de traitement médical approprié, a rapporté The Indian Express.
Les avocats de Rao ont essayé de le faire libérer sous caution à plusieurs reprises au cours des 22 derniers mois, en raison de sa mauvaise santé.
La dernière requête a été déposée lundi dernier, lorsque les avocats de Rao se sont adressés à la Haute Cour de Bombay avec deux requêtes, demandant une libération sous caution temporaire en raison de la détérioration de son état de santé et une instruction aux autorités carcérales de produire son dossier médical et de l’admettre dans un hôpital public ou privé. La demande est en instance devant la Haute Cour et devrait être entendue vendredi.
Le 26 juin, le tribunal de la NIA (National Investigation Agency) a rejeté son recours au motif qu’il a été mis en examen en vertu des dispositions strictes de la loi sur la prévention des activités illégales (UAPA), à la suite de quoi il a saisi la haute cour.
Rao et neuf autres militants ont été arrêtés dans l’affaire des liens entre Elgar Parishad et les maoïstes, qui a d’abord été examinée par la police de Pune, puis transférée à la National Investigation Agency (NIA) en janvier de cette année.
L’affaire portait sur des allégations de discours provocateurs prononcés lors du conclave d’Elgar Parishad tenu à Pune le 31 décembre 2017, qui, selon la police, ont déclenché des violences le lendemain près du mémorial de guerre de Koregaon-Bhima.
La police a également affirmé que le conclave avait été organisé par des personnes ayant des liens présumés avec les maoïstes.
Prof GN Saibaba bail application rejected again on 28 July 2020 by the Mumbai high court bench at Nagpur
Prof GN Saibaba bail application, on medical grounds in the wake of Covid-19 in the Nagpur Central Prison, has been again rejected on 28 July 2020 by the Mumbai high court bench at Nagpur. The first bail application on medical grounds was rejected by the Mumbai HC bench at Nagpur in March 2018, and after that, his parole application has also been rejected. On 2 April 2020 we submitted an application to Divisional commissioner of Prisons, Nagpur, Maharashtra Home Department seeking release Dr. G.N. Saibaba on parole for 45 days on his health grounds under the severity of pandemic COVID-19 and also to visit his mother who is seriously ill from February 2020 suffering from Lymphoma cancer. The Parole was rejected by showing his brotherʹs place is in a containment zone, a fact which is not true. Currently, his motherʹs condition is critical, where cancer has been spread to her brain and she is not expected to survive for more than a couple of days based on the predictions made by the doctors. In the recent order rejecting his bail on 28.07.20, the prosecution suggests that since there is already one younger brother taking care and visiting the ailing mother, this reason cannot qualify Dr. Saibaba to go visit his mother on her deathbed. Even in this dire condition, it does not look like the Honourable Court will allow Dr. Saibaba to see his mother for the final time and mourn her circumstances.
Yesterday on 28.07.20, the Honourable bench cited that the circumstances about the case since the first bail rejection in 2018 have no changed, so they will follow the initial rejection order. The reasons for given by our counsel, Saibabaʹs increasingly detrimental health and COVID-19 breakout in Nagpur Prison that threatens his life, have been casually dismissed by the court. They say he has not cited positive and is being kept in the highly confined Anda Cell where he cannot contract the disease. They also say that he has been provided 2 helpers. Now, in the volatile environment of COVID-19 breakout in prison, he gets his meals and help from the outside sources, beyond the so-called ʹ COVID-19 safeʹ anda cell. So clearly, itʹs not a contained zone. Also as described by Saibaba in his phone calls, the helpers are being coerced and have submitted multiple applications to the Jail authorities, saying that they are not in the mental condition to volunteer for helping him. Saibaba described that he has been living absolutely unhygienic conditions without anyone to support his basic needs and requirements. It seems as if the court underestimates the gravity of the situation, especially with regard to the spread of the virus in the overcrowded prisons. Saibaba will be shifted to Hyderabad
Beyond that, they claim the only source of the deteriorating ill health is the applicant himself and the medical officer in Jail assures that he is being given all the treatment. Now the court hasnʹt provided the family any of his multiple medical documents and reports from his frequent trips, often emergency, to the hospital. We have no way to get the reports and verify it with our family doctors and consultants. Moreover, we do not even know the conclusion of these reports. They were not even provided to the patient in question when he wanted to enquire about his health. Meanwhile, the doctors from the Government Hospital did specify previously a treatment routine for the different ailments, but this routine, including physiotherapy, couldnʹt be conducted within the jail premises. Thus, even according to the government doctors he has been under consultation, the conditions of incarceration make it impossible for him to receive treatment. The prosecution still claims that he is being provided treatment, but in that case, the treatment is not stabilizing his health condition. His health sees no improvement, evidenced from his frequent trips to the medical bay in jail as well as to the hospital. The court has turned a blind eye to these factors, seemingly only taking the words of the prosecution at value. On his phone call on 11.07.20 Saibaba informed us of the terrible situation in the prison personally. He is unable to move his left hand and even his right hand constantly shivers right now. He has been getting frequent block outs and fainting spells, alongside with his severe back and body aches. Since we do not have any reassurance from the words of the prosecution claiming his alleged well being and condition, we requested for the scans and reports from the Government hospitals in order to consult with our personal medical consultants, a request which was not granted. Thus, in this situation, we are still not aware of the real condition of Saibabaʹs health. The last time we had access to the Medical reports was in early 2018, where a dangerous cyst in Dr. Saibabaʹs brain was identified, perhaps responsible for his continued ill-health. But no further investigation on this matter was pursued.
The courtʹs decision to reject Dr. Saibabaʹs bail in this condition is an extremely apathetic decision. On his phone call, he told us that if he does get COVID-19 they will not help him at all. No one in the barrack will come close to him and he cannot survive on his own, without the helping hand of inmates. He said that they will leave him to die in that scenario.
The politicians and ardent supporters of the ruling dispensation like Swami Aseemanand, Sadhvi Pragya Thakur etc. were not only granted bail but Sadhvi Pragya was granted bail specifically on health grounds, though she was found perfectly fit for election campaigns and later function as a full time parliamentarian. Comparatively herein is a case of an already 90 percent disabled – wheelchair bound person, whose condition has so worsened in the solitary confinement that a dozen ailments has circumscribed his being, and still in the threat of COVID 19 Pandemic.
Under these severe health conditions and based on the merits of the case of Prof. G.N. Saibaba, I request to everyone national and internationally to raise your voice for the release of GN Saibaba to appeal to the Central and Maharashtra Governments.
I request to all kindly help him to secure his life as per the Nelson Mandela Prison Rights and Disability Rights.
Release all political prisoners.
W/o Dr. GN Saibaba
29 July 2020.