Monday, 17 August 2015


Respected Shanti Bhushan ji,
                                                We've known you as an honest and upright citizen who has faught against corruption all his life. Moreover, you've always helped the people's movements by taking up their cases without charging any fees. You've also been an important public figure of the nation in the capacity of Law Minister during Janata Party government or as member of the drafing committee for Jan Lokpal Bill.
                       We wish to bring to your notice a peculiar situation which has arisen in Lucknow. We know that you've been a lawyer for the Founder Manager Jagdish Gandhi of City Montessori School in Lucknow for over three decades and realise that as a lawyer your ethical commitment is to defend your client.
                       The Basic Shiksha Adhikari of Lucknow has ordered admission of 31 children, including 23 SC and 8 Muslims, 6 of whom belong to OBC category, to CMS under Section 12 of the Right to Education Act, 2009. However, Shri Jagdish Gandhi and his daughter Geeta Gandhi Kingdon, President of CMS, have refused to admit these children from disadvantaged groups and weaker sections to the Indira Nagar branch of their school. Jagdish Gandhi went to the High Court claiming that they don't have physical space in their school and questioned why the BSA ordered admission to their school when there were other government and private schools closer to the homes of the children. On High Court's order BSA visited the school and found that there is enough space in the school and the court has taken a view that even if other schools are there the parents have a right to seek admission to a school of their choice according to the law. The court ordered the BSA to find out how many children lived in the neighbourhood of the school, as required by the law. Upon measuring the distances from their homes it turned out that 14 out of 31 children lived within a km of the school, which is the definition of neighbourhood as prescribed by U.P. government rules. The HC ordered admission of these 14 children to CMS on 6th August, 2015. Socialist Party (India) is involved with this struggle to get children admitted to school under RTE.
                       Your appearance for a truant school in the HC (first on hearing on 30 July and then on first hearing of appeal against the court order directing CMS to admit 14 children within a week on 12 August, 2015) not only emboldens a person bent upon violating a national law and who holds court order in contempt but also weakens our fight for social justice. The RTE Act, for the first time in this country since economic policies of privatization, liberalization and globalization have been implemented is an attempt to bridge the ever widening gap between the children of rich and poor and gives a chance to government to regulate the private schools to ensure compliance of various laws and norms. The outlaw school's founder manager and president and a weak government have colluded to deny children from socio-economic weaker background their legal right and an opportunity to transform their lives by receiving education available to only the elite in the country. Your appearance in HC is unfortunately strengthening the forces which have made quality education for underprivileged children a distant dream in this country and are preventing the implementation of long standing demand of common school system.
                       We cannot request a person of your stature not to help your client but can only make an appeal to you to think of the larger cause of universalization of primary education which is at stake and then take a decision based on your conscience.
Sandeep Pandey, Socialist Party (India),

Another Naga accord: Now let’s make it work

Another Naga accord: Now let’s make it work
Rajindar Sachar

 The recent accord that was signed between the Centre and the largest faction of the National Socialist Council of Nagaland NSCN (IM) is welcome. The group has given up its demand for a sovereign state outside India.

  Prime Minister Narendra Modi with the NSCN leaders at the signing ceremony of historic peace accord, in New Delhi. PTI
A pact has been signed between Government of India and Naga faction of NSCN (I.M.). The details will be officially released in due course of time. It is a good sign, if as reported by the government that (I.M.), which is admittedly the largest Naga group, has given up its demand for a sovereign State outside India, as was originally the demand of A.Z. Phizo. 

It is also a good sign that T. Muivah has agreed not to insist on including the areas inhabited by Nagas in the other states of Manipur, Assam, Arunchal Pradesh in the state of Nagaland. This demand which required cutting off areas from those states was a non-starter. No government could afford to settle on terms which would provoke counter movements in other North-East states. Of course, it will require the Central Government to honestly abide by the spirit of Article 371A of the Constitution.

Right since 1947, the Naga question has been the unsolved knot leading to almost a war-like situation between the Nagas and the Indian government. Some respite came when the then Prime Minister I. K. Gujral, made the following announcement on July 25, 1997: “In recent talks with the Isac Muivah group of the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN), it has been mutually agreed to ceasefire with effect from 1 August, 1997 and initiate discussions at the political levels.” Of course, a serious drawback was that ceasefire did not extend to other North-Eastern states that had a considerable Naga population, even when subsequent governments were so advised by some of us. So the situation continued to remain unsettled and fluid. 

I have had a fair deal of inkling of the open hostility and anger of Nagas towards India. As President of the People’s Union for Civil Liberties, I had occasion to meetn some of the top leaders of the Naga movement, including T Muivah and Isak Chisi Swu. 

It was in 2000 that I was invited by Asia forum for a conference and also watched the proceedings in a Court at Bangkok (Thailand) where T. Muivah was being prosecuted for travelling on a fake passport. The delicate situation was because NSCN believed that the information about the movements of Muivah had been given by the Indian government — that later denied it.

I also attended the court proceeding and was able to chat with Muivah, courtesy the security guards. Later in the evening, some of us were invited  by Isac Swu and his team, who were all underground, for dinner. We were taken from our hotel in a car with dark curtains on both sides, obviously so that we could not see the route from the hotel. We understood their delicate concern, because the place was in Bangkok itself. At the meeting we suggested to Isac Swu and his colleagues that in the meanwhile talks need not be stalled and Muivah (who was in prison) could nominate a team to continue the dialogue in his absence. We even then felt that Muivah and others were genuinely in favour of a peaceful settlement, especially when Rh Raising, member, NSCN Steering Committee, openly told us that “Nagas are totally committed to solving the problem through peaceful means. They want to solve any problem through mutual discussion, understanding, respect and consent”. We told them plainly that no government in India can be a party to allow Nagaland to secede from India. Of course, a degree of autonomy can be worked out mutually within the broad parameters of the Constitution. It is thereafter that talks between Nagas and the Government of India, represented by its Home Secretary. K. Padmanabhaiah, started.   

Even when both Muivah and Swu came to Delhi and a meeting was held by some of us, along with V. P.  Singh, at the latter's residence. V.P Singh had ceased to be the  prime minister. They reiterated their desire for settlement with more autonomy, in a dignified manner. It is a pity that it has taken such a long time for the accord. One may now be hesitatingly optimistic, especially when Muivah has openly welcomed it by describing it as: “Better understanding has been arrived ……based on the unique history and position of Nagas”.  It is also a sign of practical wisdom that the Indian government has agreed to facilitate the visit of the Muivah group to travel to Myanmar to consult and bring on board the Khaplang group. One has still to be cautious because the Prime Minister has isolated the Congress chief ministers of Assam, Manipur and Arunchal Pradesh details with them because they too have a similar issue about Nagas. It’s a relief that the Centre has now told those states that the deal will not affect their territories and also assured them that the details will be discussed with them before a final accord is signed. 

If it is any satisfaction, even Raj Nath the Home Minister, was excluded from the initial talks (when all the previous negotiations were held by the Home Ministry). It would seem that the Prime Minister realising the gravity of the Naga problem, was keen to find an equitable settlement when he said in his speech : “We will not only try to heal wounds and resolve problems, but also be your partner as you restore your pride and prestige and that the only path to peace and understanding can come about when we deal with each other in a spirit of equality and respect, trust and confidence; when we seek to understand concerns and try to address aspirations.” 

Would not the Prime Minister like to express the same sentiments and approach with respect to minorities in our country, especially to Muslims, the largest minority of 14 crore? This course is not only Raj Dharam but a practical and realistic approach that any top leader would adopt. 

The writer is a former Chief Justice of the Delhi High Court.

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

A danger to democracy Corporate funding of elections should be banned

A danger to democracy

Corporate funding of elections should be banned

Rajindar Sachar

In a democracy holding regular and free elections to the state legislatures and Parliament is the minimum condition. But more important is to devise laws and policies so that representatives are elected in a transparent manner uninfluenced by undesirable elements, especially money power of the corporate sector. 
These observations are not unnecessarily panicky or woolly. They arise from the reality of the present situation as reflected in the last parliamentary election. No doubt, the BJP represents the majority on its own in the Lok Sabha. But with only 31% of the votes it cannot claim that it thereby represents the majority in the country. Thus the present system of "first past the post" may technically result in a majority in Parliament; in reality it may be a minority view in the country. This danger was flagged as far back as 1789 by French philosopher Mirabeau. That is why we have the "list system of voting" in many parts of world, including Germany, and it fairly represents the voter's preferences proportionately in legislatures. It is heartening to note that the Socialist Party (India) in a memorandum to the Lok Sabha Speaker has recommended a change to the list system under which, depending on the proportion of votes obtained, each party gets proportionate seats, thus reflecting correctly the sentiments in the country.  

Another gravely urgent reform needed is with respect to the part played by big money in elections - an undesirable consequence. As it is, available information indicates that 90% of political funding in 2013-2014 came from big corporates in the country. Under the present law a big loophole is there: only contributions above Rs 20,000 are required to be shown by the parties in their returns. This is a sure invitation to black money and is a big help to the Congress and the BJP. Though Rs 991 crore was donated to political parties, they disclosed the names of 10% donors only, taking cover under the law that requires naming only those who pay above Rs. 20,000. Obviously black money plays an important part in election funding of the major political parties.

That election funding by the corporate sector muddles the election process cannot be denied. As far back as 1960 MC Chagla, Chief Justice of the Bombay High Court, warned that "It is a danger which may grow apace and which may ultimately overwhelm and even throttle democracy in this country." Similarly, the Calcutta High Court has warned: "It will mark the advent and entry of the voice of the big business in politics and in the political life of the country". Regrettably, Parliament ignored the warning and rather added in 1960 Section 293A to the Companies Act, 1956, permitting the corporate sector to contribute to political parties 5% of their average profits. The danger signs were visible immediately and the Santhanan Committee Report, 1962, recommended a total ban on all corporate donations to political parties. But it went unheeded.
However, in 1969, pressed by Socialist leader Madhu Limaye, MP, the Congress government was forced to admit that corporate contributions had a tendency to corrupt political life, and therefore passed a law banning corporate contributions. To review the Companies Act  and the Monopolies Act, the Government of India in 1978 constituted a high-powered expert committee headed by a high court judge. Amongst its members were some of the top lawyers, industrialists, trade union leaders and accountants. It unanimously recommended that the ban on donations by companies to political parties should continue: "The Report was apprehensive that if corporate donations were permitted, the danger to democracy can be well visualised". Notwithstanding the warning, Section 293A was amended in 1985 and the Boards of Directors were authorised to make contributions to political parties. Rather the law has been made easier now. Section 182 of the Companies Act 2013 authorises only the Board of Directors (without the approval of the general body) to make political contributions of up to 7.5% of its average net profits during the three immediately preceding financial years. 

In the USA up to 2010 the Supreme Court had banned corporate expenditure on candidates' elections (Austin case). But then in "Citizen United" the U.S. Supreme Court (2014) differed with the earlier view by a narrow margin (5-4) verdict. It held that corporations have the same political speech rights as individuals under the First Amendment (similar to Article 19(1) (a) of our Constitution) and thus struck down a Federal law and also a law in 24 States banning the corporate sector from funding elections.

This decision has been widely criticised in the USA. The critics have favoured the earlier judgment in the Austin case which had had justified the ban on corporate funding by saying "that large aggregations of wealth, accumulated with the help of the corporate firm, may have corrosive or distorting effects, thus justifying a ban on corporate independent expenditures". Predictably the decision in the Citizen United case has led to strong criticism in US. Critics have commented that "the court's decision was a foolish misstep which threatens the fabric of our nation. The ruling will bring a future in which the government is no longer of the people, for the people, and by the people, but rather "of the people, by the corporations, [and] for the corporations"(emphasis added). Thus the danger of a government working as the executive committee of big corporates in our country is already intrudingly manifest.     

There is, however, no possibility in India of a ban on corporate funding being held illegal on the ground adopted by the US courts that the corporations' right to speech is curtailed. This is because our Supreme Court in a series of decisions from 1963 has categorically held that Article 19 applies only to citizens and not to corporations (as they are not citizens) and therefore the corporate sector cannot invoke Article 19 of the Constitution. Will the Opposition show its concern by moving for such a ban? Or will they also, like the BJP, want to keep intact their links with corporates?  

Thursday, 23 July 2015

SYS उच्च शिक्षा के क्षेत्र में WTO-GATS के प्रस्ताव को वापस लेने की मांग करती है ।

सोशलिस्ट युवजन सभा WTO के जरिए उच्च शिक्षा पर अब तक के सबसे बड़े हमले का विरोध करती है । भारत सरकार ने उच्च शिक्षा क्षेत्र को वैश्विक बाज़ार के लिए खोलने का मन बना लिया है। यही वजह है कि WTO के पटल पर प्रस्ताव भी रख दिया गया है। WTO में रखे गए प्रस्ताव के मंज़ूर होते ही शिक्षा का अधिकार क़ानून पूरी तरह से ख़त्म हो जाएगा। इसी के साथ शिक्षा ज्ञान प्राप्ती का जरिया ना होके मुनाफ़ा कमाने का धंधा हो जाएगी। उच्च शिक्षा ग़रीब छात्रों से दूर होकर सामर्थ्यवानों छात्रों को भी नाम मात्र की ही मिलेगी। बाज़ारीकरण के कारण उच्च शिक्षा के स्तर में गिरावट होगी और ये अपने मूल मक़सद से भटक जाएगी । इसके साथ ही अकादेमिक स्वतंत्रता, शोध की आज़ादी और लोकतांत्रिक परंपराएं बीते दिनों की बात हो जाएगी । अगर हम WTO में दिए गए भारत सरकार के प्रस्ताव को वापस कराने में सफल नहीं होते तो हमारा शिक्षा तंत्र हमेशा के लिए वैश्विक बाज़ार के चंगुल में फंस कर रह जाएगा।

इसी साल दिसंबर में केन्या के नैरोबी में 10वां मंत्रीस्तरीय सम्मेलन आयोजित किया जाएगा। WTO की योजना है कि इसी सम्मेलन से विकासशील और अल्प विकसित देशों में शिक्षा को बाज़ार में तब्दील कर मुनाफ़ा कमाया जाए। ज़ाहिर है ऐसे देशों में इस योजना के दूरगाम दुष्परिणाम होंगे। शिक्षा का बाज़ारीकरण दुनियाभर के मेहनतकश आवाम के लिए अत्यंत घातक साबित होगा।

सोशलिस्ट युवजन सभा मानती है, कि WTO का गठन विकसित देशों के हितों को संरक्षित करने और साधने कि लिए किया गया है। और भारत जैसे देश WTO में केवल कॉर्पोरेट घरानों के हितों को साधने के मकसद के साथ शामिल हुई है। भारत का उच्च शिक्षा क्षेत्र जैसे ही दुनिया भर के बाज़ारों के लिए खुलेगा भारत के सारे छात्र धीरे-धीरे ग्राहक में तब्दील हो जाएंगे। और दुनिया भर के संस्थान भारत में आकर केवल मुनाफा बटोरेंगे। WTO के इस प्रस्ताव के बाद जितने भी शिक्षण संस्थान भारत का रूख करेंगे, उनका एकमात्र मक़सद लाभ कमाना होगा । विश्व बैंक की तरफ से 2000 में कराए गए एक सर्वे रिपोर्ट में ये साबित भी हो चुका है, कि विकसित देशों के जाने-माने विश्वविद्यालयों ने पिछड़े देशों में घटिया दर्जे की शाखाएं खोली।
WTO के इस प्रस्ताव के जरिए ना केवल विकसित देश मुनाफ़ा कमाएंगे, बल्कि वे पिछड़े देशों के नज़रिए को भी अपने अनुरूप ढालने की कोशिश करेंगे । इसका गंभीर असर हमारी शिक्षा प्रणाली और शिक्षा के स्तर पर पड़ेगा। WTO का मक़सद शिक्षा को उपभोग का माल और विद्यार्थियों को उपभोक्ता में बदलने की है। इस प्रस्ताव के मंज़ूर होते ही शिक्षा से बदलाव और सशक्तिकररण की ताक़त भी हमेशा के लिए खत्म हो जाएगी।
सोशलिस्ट युवजन सभा देश की शिक्षा व्यवस्था पर हो रहे इस नव उदारवादी हमले को रोकने की मांग करती है। साथ ही देश के सभी प्रबुद्ध, प्रगतिशील और जागरूक लोगों से अपील करती है, कि वे आगे आएं और WTO-GATS को दिए गए प्रस्ताव को वापस कराएं।

नीरज सिंह 
राष्ट्रिय सचिव 
सोशलिस्ट युवजन सभा

Friday, 17 July 2015

ईद मुबारक

ईद का त्यौहार पूरी दुनिया में भाईचारा लेकर आए। असमानतासाम्राज्यशाही और हिंसा मिटाए।
हम सब पर खुशीअमन और नेकनीयत की बारिश हो।

सोशलिस्ट पार्टी की तरफ से सभी बहनों और भाइयों को ईद मुबारक

सोशलिस्‍ट पार्टी का नारा
समता और भाईचारा

डॉ प्रेम सिंह