Though the 2014 Action Plan for Climate Change had warned about increasing intensity of future cyclones very little innovative action to strengthen the climate resilience of the city was taken. Being a flat city next to the coast, Chennai is vulnerable to flooding and water-logging. The city also comes under earthquake zone 3, and is vulnerable to moderate risk of earthquakes. Some parts of the city even go into zone 4. In spite of many warnings, the speed with which the real estate development was taking place was not reduced and the gravity of the climate change was not recognized by the state administration.
This is what is happening all over India and internationally. Not only the newly elected president of US, Trump, but also almost all those leading the administration in all countries are still not recognizing the gravity of the ecological catastrophe humankind is going to face. They madly go ahead with the devastating imperialist development perspective to boost the capital gains. All agreements on climate change and control of carbon gas emissions arrived at Paris and elsewhere are just eye-washing measures.
To escape from the impending catastrophe a two pronged approach is needed: a moratorium on the imperialist led development paradigm; and developing a new social system based on sustainability and equality. As the imperialists and their compradores, lackeys and apologists vehemently deny these, they can be achieved only through basic system change, the struggle for which has to be intensified in all fields if the humankind has to survive this catastrophe.
In this connection the following facts may be noted:
1. The mindset of people and customs prevalent in society often do not change immediately following change in the sub structure, but persist even long after change in the latter. For instance, despite change in the economic sub structure by the advent of the Industrial Revolution, which began in England in the early 18th century, for a long time even thereafter feudal customs, e.g. the aristocracy and aristocratic customs and laws, persisted. It required a long historical struggle before the minds and customs in England changed and became modern. In France though industries had been set up from the early 18th century, great, arduous, ideological struggles had to be waged against feudalism by thinkers like Voltaire, Rousseau and the French Encyclopedists which led to the French Revolution of 1789 which smashed aristocracy, and even thereafter there was a temporary feudal restoration in 1815 under King Louis 18th.
2. In England and France modern institutions (Parliament, etc) and modern principles (freedom of speech, equality, liberty, freedom of religion, etc) were created in the course of long historical struggles in those countries. In India, on the other hand, these institutions and principles were not the product of historical struggles of our own masses, but were borrowed by a handful of our modern minded leaders (Pt. Nehru, etc) from the West, and transplanted from above on our backward feudal society. But our society still had a feudal mindset, and this does not change immediately. The result was that these institutions were gradually feudalized. For instance, voting in elections in most states in India today is on the basis of caste and religion, instead of the merit of the candidate. Was democracy meant to be run in this manner?
Equality is enshrined in our Constitution. But the caste system discriminates against sections of our people e.g. the dalits. Secularism is enshrined in the Constitution, but communalism is still widespread. So writing things in the Constitution will not by itself change society It will require a long arduous people’s struggle to get rid of casteism, communalism and superstitions.
3. In England and France the state often played an educative role in modernising society. For instance the leaders who came to power in the French Revolution of 1789 were all anti feudal, and propagated anti feudal ideas of liberty, equality and fraternity, and of religious freedom.
In India no doubt our leaders immediately after independence, like Pt. Nehru, were modern minded. But a few decades thereafter vote bank compulsions feudalized our politics, which today largely runs on caste and religious lines.. Also, many MPs and MLAs were former feudal princes, and they naturally brought their feudal mentality into the legislatures, thus degrading and feudalizing them.
In recent times, the party which has come to power has Hindutva as its professed ideology. Far from playing a modernising role, it is doing the reverse by spreading communalism,which is a feudal force. I
It is common knowledge that the BJP is dominated by the RSS which is rabidly anti minority. So how can it play a modernising role ? In fact it is playing a highly reactionary role, e.g by installing RSS minded people in all institutions such as the appointment of Gajendra Chauhan, a BJP member, as Chairman of the Film and Television Institute of India ( FTII ) against which protests have been going on for long, and by spreading reactionary ideas and hate speeches e.g. by Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti and Mahesh Sharma, Union Ministers, Adityanath, an MP, Sangeet Som, an MLA, and Sadhvi Prachi , beef politics, etc thus pushing India backward. No doubt the BJP leaders often try to distance themselves from hate speeches and communal incidents like that in Dadri by saying that the views of such people are their individual ones and communal incidents are not of their creation, and no doubt the Prime Minister sometimes delivers homilies advocating communal harmony ( though usually after a long time of incidents like the lynching of Ikhlaque ), but these are only for public consumption and to assuage the fears of foreign investors. The BJP, like a leopard, cannot change its spots.
Justice Markandey Katju, November 21, 2016
C Bhaskar Rao
From its production of 100 billion cubic metres of LNG, Qatar currently picks up $26.6 billion in royalties. For a similar amount of gas, the Treasury estimates the Australian government will get a miserable $800 million! This massive betrayal of Australia’s national interests demonstrates the abject collaboration of the local ruling class with the corporate beneficiaries of imperialism.
Two recent reports, an investigation by Fairfax Media, and a report by the Auditor-General, have thoroughly exposed the extent of this rip-off.
The Fairfax Media report on the Petroleum Resource Rent Tax (PRRT)
The Fairfax report investigated the application of the PRRT by the federal government on the oil and gas industry. This sector is dominated by multinational ventures off the Western Australia coast and coal seam gas (fracking) in Queensland and NSW. It uncovered the shameful information that just 8 out of 149 resource projects paid any PRRT in the year 2014-15, in spite of collective revenues in excess of $25 billion!
The PRRT is structured to tax only “super-profits” and is not a royalty based on the amount of oil or gas extracted. Companies can then write off their exploration and construction costs to reduce the amount of tax due and carry forward this credit for years to come. According to the Tax Office figure obtained by Fairfax Media, these tax credits are now worth $187 billion.
Gorgon, off the Western Australia coast, is the largest LNG plant in the world and is owned by US multinational Chevron. Last year the Federal Court of Australia had to chase this profit-bloated company for a piddling $300 million in tax avoidance.
The Auditor-General’s report on royalty payments
The report revealed that the whole structure of the royalty system is a rort which allows the oil and gas monopolies to use slick accounting to claim massive deductions, while the government regulators turn a blind eye.
Auditor-General Grant Hehir investigated the royalty payments from the North West Shelf, jointly owned by Woodside, Shell, Chevron and BHP Billiton. This crew had racked up $5 billion worth of tax deductions in just 18 months! And a few more interesting facts finally came out:
The ‘self-assessed’ royalty payments had not been audited for 17 years!
A gas meter to measure gas output and the royalties owing was broken five years ago!
The Royalty Schedule was 10 years out of date!
The Western Australian government hired Ernst & Young to check the royalty deductions in 2014, never mind the inconvenient fact that the same firm is official auditor for North West Shelf!
Wishy washy governments
Greens senator Peter Whish-Wilson, one of the few in parliament with the guts to call out the truth, made a positive statement that reflects the disgust and anger of the working people when these rorts are uncovered. “They have been trying to penny-pinch from backpackers and some of the lowest-paid workers in the country, and yet they have been blind to potentially multi-billion-dollar rorts from massive multinational corporations.
“It looks like Australians might be being fleeced for hundreds of millions in dollars in oil and gas royalties because Liberal and Labor Governments have either been asleep at the wheel for the last two decades, or they don’t see tackling their big corporate backers as a priority.
“These aren’t your traditional tax avoidance issues that Parliament has been looking at over recent years. This is about successive Australian governments not even checking if billions of dollars in tax deductions were allowable under law. This is about a government department not even testing the meters on the oil and gas wells to see if they were working.”
On the home front
While the gigantic gas tankers cart Australian LNG across the world, the domestic market is starved of cheap gas. Working people are told that “we have to” pay ever-increasing international prices for the domestic gas we use for heating and cooking. Why, if the country has such abundant supplies? Answer – to boost the profits of the greedy multinationals who couldn’t give a stuff for people in Australia.
And it is not only the workers who will cop it. Small manufacturing business and commercial bakeries are already feeling the pinch.
For example, Victoria Wool Processors in Melbourne’s western suburbs are unable to finalise a new source of natural gas to heat and process their annual 12,000 tonnes of wool. General Manager David Richie stated, “Australia has just become the biggest exporter of gas in the world. If you believe in manufacturing, this needs to be sorted out quickly... Gas is obviously widely used in industry and it’s critical for the plastics and chemicals industry, the paper industry, fertilisers, the production of a host of products.” He pointed out that 40 jobs at his plant were immediately at stake unless a more rational system was introduced.
The “Last One” ceremony
Another icon of Australian manufacturing bit the dust on the 29th November when the last Holden car rolled off the production line at Fisherman’s Bend. And the last 175 workers got their reward for loyalty and years of hard work – a free lunch, a polo shirt, a yearbook and a group photograph – and the sack!
Imperialism – expose it, resist it, defeat it!
This is the future imperialist domination has for Australia – grab the resources, grind down the working class, dismantle the skills and industries and drag us into endless dirty wars! The corporate bandits are supported and encouraged by a miserable gang of local politicians, bank and finance bosses, media lackeys and shadowy ‘think-tanks’, all backed up by the armed state apparatus.
This not a future the Australian people want. They want to control the destiny of their own country, to apply its natural resources in sensible and planned way to benefit the people, to roll back climate change and repair environmental damage, not make it worse. They want viable, stable jobs that produce useful products and services, not just holes in the ground and short-term contracts. This can only happen in an independent Australia republic when the key industries are owned and controlled by the working people. Nationalise the power industry!
(Reproduced from Vanguard, organ of CPAML)
The gist of the speech seemed to assert that the US is and should stay true to its values when fighting terrorism. An assertion when at the same time Congressman Ted Lieu, a California Democrat, has written a letter to Secretary John Kerry warning him the US could be charged with war crimes in aiding Saudi Arabia’s bombing campaign in Yemen. The US helps through in-air refueling of planes. The Congressman claims there are 70 documented incidents targeting civilians including women and children. Yemen itself never had a refugee crisis through years of civil conflict, that is until the merciless Saudi air onslaught.
What did Libya do to incur US wrath? It was fighting a civil war where the casualties were in the hundreds and the rebels themselves not without foreign instigators. Look at Libya now. From leading Africa on the Human Development Index scale to being bombed into a shambles without an effective government. By the way, what was the strategic (or for that matter even tactical) value of bombing a precious and expensive water system bringing water from the south to Tripoli? And how did it help the civilian population of Tripoli? Now, of course, those who can, in Libya, are fleeing to Europe. In fact, sub-Saharan Africans who would come to Libya seeking work now try also to get to Europe.
Ask the Libyans who they blame for their problems and the answer comes back without equivocation, the US. It was the leading cause of the country’s destruction. Ask the Yemenis ... ditto. It is the country supplying the planes, the bombs, the air-refueling. Without it there would be no air campaign. Ask the Syrians as a National Public Radio reporter did this week. They certainly do not blame President Bashar Assad, who they feel is doing well at keeping the country together. No, they blame the Saudis, the Gulf States and their arms supplier-in-chief, the US.
Ask the Somalis. It was a U.S. sponsored invasion of Somalia by Ethiopia that destroyed the last chance of Somali stability, continuing the killing. The Islamic Courts regime could not have chosen a worse name, which sent danger signals rippling through the US administration, bringing fears of a Taliban and al-Qaeda replay. And it was a quiet, studious Somali student who went on a rampage at Ohio State University just over a week ago. Trump has been there this week to express his condolences and to repeat his anti-Muslim immigration and “extreme vetting” creed.
Ask the Iraqis and the Afghans. A vast swathe from North Africa through Yemen into Afghanistan and Pakistan are embroiled in conflict. Estimates of deaths in Iraq vary from 200,000 ascribed to violence to a million from the ravages of war. The war casualties in Afghanistan according to the Watson Institute at Brown University stand at around 111,000 with at least as many wounded, and continue to increase after a US presence for 15 years. Deaths from the effects of war among the population are not easily determined but as in Iraq are likely to be even higher.
The question to ask is whether 19 persons, primarily from Saudi Arabia, responsible for the 9/11 attacks warrant this wholesale killing. And for what? If anything, the situation and the fear factor in the US are worse and one of the reasons for Donald Trump’s win. Is this heavy-handed policy actually fighting terrorism successfully, or is it alienating populations enough to be a proximate cause?
(Dr Arshad M Khan www.ofthisandthat.org)
2. Do you actually check whether the shaving cream that you use, the soap, the hair cream, the shampoos, conditioners, moisturizers etc. that you use are not derived from holy cow?
3. Brushed your teeth?? How about a cup of tea? But wait, please ensure that the sugar you are using has not been whitened using the bones of cow.
4. Let’s go for breakfast. What would you like to have? Poori, chapatti with Chhole? Please ensure that the refined edible oil of Adani that you are using is not adulterated with tallow (beef fat). For your information, the patriotic government that you elected surreptitiously removed the 32 year ban on tallow imposed by Indira Gandhi govt. in 1983 after disclosure of beef fat being using by companies in vanaspati (vegetable cooking oil).
5. Ok, let’s move out. What would you prefer- car or bike? Please check the tyres. No, not for the air pressure, but whether the tyre manufacturer has used animal based stearic acid which helps the rubber in tyres hold shape under steady surface friction.
6. Want to stick something? Use glue, but please ensure that the glue is not animal glue, made from the boiling animal’s connective tissue and bones or from hides of bovine animals. Fevicol ka jod hai, tutega nahi.
7. Let’s go shopping. But please avoid using plastic bags. Why?? Many plastics, including shopping bags, contain ‘slip agents’, which reduce the friction in the material. What are those made of? Animal fat of course.
8. Let’s get to your basic work- thrashing and beating the Dalits and the Muslim cow traders. Please make sure that you don’t get hurt in the scuffle. And if you do, please ask the Doc to give you tablets and not capsules, because the capsule covering is again made from animal protein. If you need a stitch, please ask the Doctor what are those surgical threads made of. They are normally made from the intestines of holy cow.
9. Frustrated?? OK, let’s watch IPL. But wait. Do you know that the game which sets your adrenaline running involves cow? Holy cow. The leather covering of the ball used in cricket is made from the hide of calf, cow calf.
10. Ok. Chill. Have a puff. But cigarette too is non-vegetarian. The cigarette bud contains pig blood. But pig is a taboo for Muslims, isn’t it? You should not have any issue with it. What about gutkha?? Do you know that the supari contained in gutka is the left over supari, obtained after cleaning the hides of bovine animals?? What more do you expect from a packet of Rs. 2? Fresh supari?? Check yourself, the manufacturer’s address. Kanpur?? Isn’t Kanpur the hub of tanning industry?? Got it? Google it yourself.
11. Ok. Avoid those, since they are injurious to health. But then those jelly beans and candies, the ones you take home for your kids, too are non-vegetarian. They are made from animal bones. The lipstick that your women use at home is also made from beef tallow, apart from the red dye produced by crushing cochineal beetles. It is also used in yoghurt, ice cream and eye shadow.
(Facebook post by Sanjay Sanghvi)
In a speech to Labour’s European sister parties, at the Party of European Socialists conference in Prague, the Labour leader warned that the populist right had correctly identified problems with the prevailing economic model. But he argued the solutions of those anti-immigrant, anti-European Union, and anti-Islam parties were only “toxic dead ends” that would not solve people’s problems.
Mr Corbyn’s comments come when across Europe extreme right-wingers are poised to take power, with the Front National set to make the final round of the French presidential election, and when the popularity of so-called left like the socialist president Hollande in France falling to just 4 points.