Government and RBI No Real Stand-off over Macro Policy (GS paper 3 , Economy )
To ensure that our victory over inflation is institutionalised and hence continues, we have concluded a Monetary Policy Framework Agreement with the RBI, as I had promised in my Budget Speech for 2014–15. This Framework clearly states the objective of keeping inflation below 6%. We will move to amend the RBI Act this year, to provide for a Monetary Policy Committee.
Mrunal GS1 Culture: Analysis of Mains-2013 Questions
So, Let’s start with the…
Culture Questions in GSM-I-2013
|Following questions were asked:||marks||words|
|20 out of 250 marsk= only 8% of the paper.||20||400|
The Answer Sources
To solve above questions, I’ve used following books:
|Book type||Did the book have sufficient content for the given question?||SANGAM||CHOLA||TANDAV|
|NIOS Culture||hardly||few lines||one line|
|Tamilnadu Class 11||yes||yes||didn’t find|
|ICSE Class 9||yes||yes||didn’t find.|
|India’s Ancient Past RS Sharma. aka the fabled old NCERT.||yes||yes||didn’t find.|
|CompetitiveExam||Spectrum’s Culture book||hardly||yes||just 1 line|
|TMH General Studies Manual||yes||yes||didn’t find.|
|Krishna Reddy||yes||yes||didn’t find.|
|Readymade material from Coaching/Correspondence/postal class.||didn’t use||didn’t use||didn’t use|
|Academic||AL Basham, A Wonder that was India||yes||yes||Few lines.|
- Yes= means at least 60% of the answer content was
available. “Yes” doesn’t mean 100% content for the said question is
given verbatim in the said book.
- Didn’t find= either the answer was not given there OR I didn’t read carefully.
- Didn’t use=because same content given in standard reference books for free/ cheap price.
Now time for the answers:
Q. Though not very useful from the point of view of a connected political history of South India, the Sangam literature portrays the social and economic conditions of its time with remarkable vividness. Comment. (10m | 200words)
Approach: Have to comment on three issues:
- Sangam literature doesn’t help much to dig POLITICAL history of South India.
- Sangam literature helps understanding the SOCIAL condition of South India.
- Sangam literature helps understanding ECONOMIC condition of South India.
|BOOKS NOT MUCH USEFUL||USEFUL|
- Three Sangams held between 100-250AD
- First sangam: attended by Gods and Sages. Work didn’t survive.
- Second: only Tolkappiyam (grammar book) survives = doesn’t help much.
- Third (last) Sangam: has eight anthologies (Ettutogai). Here too, not all work has survived. + has following limitations:
- Since poets were patronized by ruling elites- exaggerations about
the victories, territorial influence. Even a cattle raid on village
would be narrated as war.
- More focus Hero-worship rather than how they shaped power balance and foreign relation with other states.
- some of the names, titles, dynasties, territories, wars and like mentioned these poems are imaginary.
- No archeological evidences to corroborate certain settlements mentioned in Sangam Poems. e.g. Kaveripattanam.
- Many of these poems are erotic / romantic in nature.
- Much of the work still untranslated. Thorough study yet to be done.
From Sangam literature, we get following information about South Indian society:
|DEATH||Varied from burial in urns to cremation rituals.|
From Sangam literature, we get following information about South Indian Economy:
|WOMEN in Economy||
—but this is more than 500 words. Have to compress:—
Q. Though not very useful from the point of view of a connected
political history of South India, the Sangam literature portrays the
social and economic conditions of its time with remarkable vividness.
Comment. (10m | 200words)
- Sagam Litt. fails to give political history because:
- While three Sangams were held, only the last gathering provides material relevant to political history.
- With Hero worship as prime focus, Poets often exaggerated victories and territories of the kings.
- Some of the names, places, dynasties, territories are imaginary and not corroborated by archeological evidences.
- Part of the literature is erotic and romantic in nature.
- Sagam Litt. Gives social picture:
- Society cherished love, wars and heroes.
- Bards, priests and poets received royal patronage.
- Poets mention four varnas: Nobility, priests, traders and farmers.
- Society divided into clans (Kuti), however dining and social interactions permitted among them.
- Unlike North India, the South Indian society did not have stringent 4-fold varna stratification and Jati system.
- Women were allowed to choose partners, but life of widows was miserable.
- Sagam Litt. Gives economy picture:
- Five economic zones (tinai) viz. hills, drylands, jungle, plains and coast, each supporting a different economic activity.
- Agriculture, hunting, gathering, fishing and pastoralism were
primary occupations. Crafting, weaving served as secondary source of
- Women formed a significant part of labour force, particularly in paddy cultivation, craft and weaving.
- Kings received income from trade, tributes and plunder. Regular
system of taxation was absent. However, export of pepper, ivory, silk,
cotton and booty from raids made the kings wealthy.
This is ~200 words.
Q. Chola architecture represents a high watermark in the evolution of temple architecture. Discuss. (5 marks | 100 words)
100 words can be easily gathered from any of the following books, but
the real problem= can you recall decent points worth 100 words in the
actual exam hall?
- NIOS Culture, Ch. 13 (~50 words.)
- Class 9 ICSE History textbook, page 74
- Tamilnadu Class 11 History textbook, chapter 13.
- Indian History, Krishna Reddy
- Under TMH General studies manual, section History of India=>art and architecture=>Cholas. Sufficient content
- Spectrum’s culture book (page 145 in 2004’s edition)
- AL Basham, Wonder that was India, Page 359-360
Anyway, let’s check the less boring points.
Cholas followed the architecture style of Pallavas and constructed numerous temples throughout their territory. Nagaesh-wvara, Brihadesh-wvara and Airavatesh-wara temples in Tanjore-Thanjavur region represent the zenith of Chola architectural style.
Notable features are following:
||Started using stones instead of bricks.|
||have neatly detailed frescoes, sculptures and paintings- including birds, dancing figures, pictorial stories from Puranas|
||Some of the Chola temples contain beautiful life-sized portraits of
kings and queens. e.g. Rajaraja I and his queen lok-mahadevi, Rajendra I
and his queen Chol-mahadevi.
||chief deity room|
||the 5-7 storeys above chief deity room. In Brihadeshwahra temple- 13 successive storeys.|
||above the Vimana (Storeys). Rajarajeshwara temple has Shikhara stone
weighing almost 90 tonnes. Since they didn’t have cranes to lift it,
architects built a 4 km long inclined path to drag the stone over the
||Audience hall, for various ceremonies. Elaborate carvings and pillars.|
||Temple gateways, which enclosed the entire temple structure with high walls.|
~256 words. Have to compress
Keypoints- Chola Temples
Q. Chola architecture represents a high watermark in the evolution of temple architecture. Discuss. (5 marks | 100 words)
The Cholas followed and refined Pallava architecture, with following notable features:
- Use of stones instead of bricks.
- Walls decorated with sculptures and paintings of deities, kings and queen instead of lion motifs from Pallava.
- Temples are enclosed by decorative walls and entrance (Gopuram);
- have an audience hall (Mandap); a deity room (Garbhgriha); a pyramid like storey above the deity room (Vimana)
- Ultimately the beautiful Shikara stone at the top – each with
elaborate and meticulous carvings- Weighing in tonnes yet placed without
help of cranes.
During their reign, Cholas studded the entire Tamil landscape with
such temples including Nagaeshwvara, Brihadeshwvara, Airavateshwara and
Chidambaram -their style even followed by other kingdoms in South India
and Sri Lanka.
Q. Discuss the Tandava dance as recorded in the early Indian inscriptions. (5 marks |100 words)
- Spectrum’s culture book barely gives two lines.
- NIOS culture course ch. 12 mentions that “traditional
Indian culture the function of dance was to give symbolic expression to
religious ideas. The figure of Lord Shiva as Nataraja represents the
creation and destruction of the cosmic cycle.”
- From a small paragraph in AL Basham page 310, it becomes obvious that ^above NIOS sentence is talking about Tandava dance.
Anyways let’s combine:
- In South India, religious dancing was part of the earliest known
tradition –and Shiva himself is considered to have invented no less than
108 different dances.
- Some of his dances are calm and gentle, while others fierce,
orgiastic, heroic, bold, vigorous and terrible- such as the Tandava
dance of Nataraja.
- Tandava and Lasya, are two basic aspects of Classical Indian Dance, associated with Shiva and Parvati respectively.
- In Tandava dance form, the angry Shiva is surrounded by his drunken
attendants (ganas), he beats out a wild rhythm which destroys the world
at the end of the cosmic cycle.
- Thus Tandava dance is meant to give symbolic expression to religious idea of Shiva being the Destroyer among the trinity of Bramha, Vishnu and Mahesh.
Although original question is “Discuss Tandava as recorded in the early Indian inscriptions”= so even above answer is incomplete. Because it doesn’t talk about any inscriptions. Finally “Wikipedia” (=the most unreliable source for MCQs), gives the seemingly right points.
Ancient Hindu scriptures narrate various occasions when Shiva or other gods have performed the Tandava viz.
- When Sati jumped in sacrificial fire in Daksha’s Yajna to give up
her life, Shiva performed the Rudra Tandava to express his grief and
- The Bhagavata Purana talks of Krishna dancing his Tandava on the head of the serpent Kaliya.
- According to Jain text: Indra performed Tandava in honour of Rishabha’s birth (Jain tirthankar).
- Shivapradosha stotra mentions: when Shiva performs
the Sandhya Tandava, the other gods like Brahma, Vishnu, Sarasvati,
Lakshmi and Indra play musical instruments and sing Shiva’s praises.
- In some temple sculptures, Ganesha is depicted in Eight armed form, dancing the Tandava.
Anyways, let’s combine and compress
Keypoints: Tandav Dance
Q. Discuss the Tandava dance as recorded in the early Indian inscriptions. (5 marks |100 words)
- Tandava and Lasya, are two basic aspects of Classical Indian Dance.
Shiva himself is considered to have invented atleast 108 different
dances- including the fiercely aggressive Tandava- where he destroys the
world at the end of the cosmic cycle.
- Thus Tandava is meant to give symbolic expression to religious idea of Shiva being the Destroyer among the trinity of Gods.
- Ancient Hindu scriptures narrate many incidents where Tandava was performed including:
- Shiva at the death of Sati, to express his grief and anger.
- Krishna on the head of serpant Kaliya
- Indra at the birth of Jain Tirthkar Rishabhdev
before reading further, make sure you’ve read above culture
question-answers first, and also tried solving them at home from
whatever books/material you’ve at home.
Over the last few years, UPSC was moving towards “more questions for less marks” trend e.g.
|No. Of Questions||x Marks Per question||=Total Marks|
In 2012’s General Studies Mains paper, some of the Questions were even asked for “1 mark” each! E.g PV Sindhu, Mario Miranda.
- So, it was natural for the players to expect that lot of questions will be of 1m, 2m, 5m each.
- Even in IFoS-2013 Mains exam, UPSC had asked all questions in 6-8 marks range. so the expectation even more bolstered.
- Hence the study approach of most candidates= focused on gathering maximum number of “terms” with 20-50 words for each. Especially for culture, sci-tech, even for world-history to some extent.
- UPSC did follow that expected line: questions were indeed small,
only in terms of marks (5 marks and 10 marks each) but not in terms of
length (100 words and 200 words each).
|CULTURE QUESTIONS IN 2013||PREVIOUSLY|
||not seen in previous paper (or maybe I didn’t look carefully)|
- Two out three topics were not new, the only challenge was to bring
200 and 100 words worth content respectively- especially for students
without history optional.
- For both questions- sufficient matter available in standard reference books, as we saw while solving the answers.
- But then a player wouldn’t have prepared such topics in that detail- because the previous trend of UPSC forced him to do Gadhaa majoori of mugging up 50 dozen folk dances, painters, authors etc. for 20-30 words each with hope that lot of 2 markers will be asked.
- The GS1 paper started with culture question- hence most players
would have panicked and it indirectly affected their performance even in
remaining questions from history-post-independence India and geography
where they did have sufficient answer points inside their head.
- Besides, even if the answer is verbatim given in a standard
reference book- hiding in the plain sight, doesn’t mean the aspirant can
recall all the points during the actual exam. The stress, anxiety and
fatigue doesn’t let the mind perform @100% efficiency.
- Even if he can recall entire content, still it is humanly impossible
to finish 25 questions in 5000 words with high quality points within
Thus, once again, the innocent bystanders are massacred while UPSC deploys BackbreakingTM move against coaching classes, rot learners (and senior players*).
Some more Conspiracy theories:
*it is a widely believed conspiracy theory that UPSC chairman prefers
first timers over senior players. All this so called exam
reform/gimmicks/tomfoolery is meant to prevent any senior player from
gaining advantage by his repeated experience.
And as usual, my sympathies and respect goes for these hard working
senior players for they’re the victims of circumstances- everyone wants
to crack exam in first trial, but Cinderella story doesn’t happen with
everyone- so what can they do? Try again and again until age, attempt,
money or willpower runs out.
Back to the culture topic:
- Frequent and serious revision is more important than wide coverage. e.g Chola temples question: Gopuram, vimana, Mandap etc.= you’ve already come across these terms many times in the same routine books like GS Manual and Spectrum’s culture.
- But while reading, if you just superficially glance over the information “thik hai..thik hai” (in the haste to finish reading many topics) then you cannot recall points in the exam=> low quality filler answers.
In December 2013, the state election result came. BJP won in Madhya
Pradesh, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh; and emerged as the largest party in
|Newschannel Anchor||will BJP form government in Delhi? or will you give external support
to AAP? How will delhi result affect Modi’s chances in 2014 general
election? blah blah blah
|BJP spokesperson||But why are you so obsessed with Delhi? Delhi is worth only 7
parliament seats. Why are you not talking about the other large states
that we’ve won- Rajasthan and MP? They’ll give us good number of
Parliament seats in 2014!
Same is the problem with some UPSC candidates. Always worry about the
dramatic parts rather than paying attention to bigger picture.
- In Prelims, just because one or two tough questions
from culture/classical dance come, so they panic, they start doing Ph.D
study on all classical dance forms, all temples, all painting, google n
wiki day and night …while ignoring the high-scoring areas such as
freedom struggle, geography, polity, Economy, Environment-biodiversity
- In mains, at max, culture is just 8%, even out of
that, the toughest question the Tandav Dance is just 5 marks (2% of the
whole paper) and that too requires 100 words to be written.
- Compare to that, there were plenty of questions in Indian History,
world history, post-independence India and geography (totaling >60%
of the GS1 paper), where cost: benefit was quite good. So, that’s where
your focus should be.
- In the game of chess, if you try to defend every pawn, you end up
losing the entire match. In short, a culture topic must be prepared but
should not be prepared beyond its aukaat.
Internet and Terrorism
aspects of our modern society now have either a direct or implicit
dependence upon information technology (IT). As such, a compromise of
the availability or integrity in relation to these systems (which may
encompass such diverse domains
as banking, government, health care, and
law enforcement) could have dramatic consequences from a societal
many modern business environments, even the short-term, temporary
interruption of Internet and e-mail connectivity can have a
significantly disruptive effect, forcing people to revert to other forms
of communication that are now viewed as less convenient. Imagine, then,
the effect if the denial of service was over the long-term and also
affected the IT infrastructure in general. Many governments are now
coming to this realisation.
term terrorist or terrorism is a highly emotive term. But the general
term, terrorist, is used to denote revolutionaries who seek to
useterror systematically to further their views or to govern a
a different form of terrorism since physical systematic terror does not
occur (unless, for example, the attack causes a critical system to
fail), but systematic wide spread destruction of information resources
can occur. The problem relates to the fact that aterrorist group could
easily be perceived as a resistance group carrying out lawful actions.
In the context of this article all groups will be defined
as terrorist/resistance groups in order to give a neutral perception of
their activities and aims.
years have seen the wides preaduse of information technology
by terrorist-type organisations. This has led to the emergence of a new
class of threat, which has been termed cyber terrorism. This can be
viewed as distinct from “traditional” terrorism since
physical terrordoes not occur and efforts are instead focused upon
attacking information systems and resources.
viewed from the perspective of skills and techniques, there is little
to distinguish cyber terrorists from the general classification of
hackers. Both groups require and utilise an arsenal of techniques in
order to breach the security of target systems. From a motivational
perspective, however, cyber terrorists are clearly different, operating
with a specific political or ideological agenda to support their
actions. This in turn may result in more focused and determined efforts
to achieve their objectives and more considered selection of suitable
targets for attack. However, the difference does not necessarily end
there and other factors should be considered. Firstly, the fact
that cyber terrorists are part of an organised group could mean that
they have funding available to support their activities. This in turn
would mean that individual hackers could be hired to carry out attacks
on behalf of a terrorist organisation (effectively subcontracting the
necessary technical expertise). In this situation, the hackers
themselves may not believe in the terrorist’s “cause,” but will
undertake the work for financial gain
have difficulty in relaying their political messages to the general
public without being censored: They can now use theInternet for this
purpose. Different terrorist groups and political parties are now using
the Internet for a variety of different purposes. Some examples are:
Amaru Revolutionary Movement (MRTA): In 1997, a
Peruvian terrorist group know as MRTA took over the Japanese embassy in
Peru taking a number of hostages. During this time, the Web Site of the
MRTA contained messages from MRTA members inside the embassy as well as
updates and pictures of the drama as it happened.
rebels: Chechen rebels have been using the Internet to fight the
Russians in a propaganda war. The rebels claimed to have shot down a
Russian fighter jet, a claim refuted by the Russians until a picture of
the downed jet was shown on the official Web site of the Chechen
rebels. The Russians were forced to admit their jet had in fact been
- Fundraising: Azzam
Publications, based in London and named after Sheikh Abdullah Azzam, a
mentor of Osama bin Laden; is a site dedicated to Jihad around the world
and linked to Al Qaeda. It is alleged that the Azzam Publications site,
which sold Jihad related material from books to videos, was raising
funds for the Taliban in Afghanistan and for guerrillas fighting the
Russians in Chechyna. After September 11, Azzam Publications came under
increased pressure to the point where its products could no longer be
purchased through their site. In a farewell message published on their
site they provide alternatives to ensure that funds can still be raised
and sent around the world to fight the “struggle.” In 2002 the main
Azzam site went back online, offering the same fundraising options. The
new site also mirrored itself around the world and provides its content
in a number of languages including: Arabic, English, German, Spanish,
Indonesian, Bosnian, Turkish, Malay, Albanian, Ukranian, French,
Swedish, Dutch, Italian, Urdu, and Somalian. The reason for doing this
according to the Azzam site “is to protect against Western Censorship
Laws.” It will probably prove to be difficult to close the Azzam site in
the future, when the information is mirrored around the Internet in a
variety of languages.
- Information warfare: Cyber terrorism
or the more appropriate term information warfare as discussed earlier
is becoming a common technique used to attack
organisations. Cyber terrorist groups employ what is known as hacktivism. Hacktivists
are activists involved in defacing the site of an enemy for a political
cause for example, a cyber terrorism group or a group acting on behalf
of a cyber terrorism group
observation is that cyber attacks offer the capability
for terrorist activities with wider-reaching impacts. With
traditional terroristactivities, such as bombings, the impacts are
isolated within specific physical locations and communities. In this
context, the wider populous act only as observers and are not directly
affected by the actions. Furthermore, acts of violence are not
necessarily the most effective way of making a political or ideological
point-the media and public attention is more likely to focus upon the
destruction of property and/or loss of life than whatever “cause” the
activity was intended to promote. The ability
of cyber terrorism activities to affect a wider population may give the
groups involved greater leverage in terms of achieving their objectives,
whilst at the same time ensuring that no immediate long-term damage is
caused which could cloud the issue. For example, in a denial of service
scenario, if the threatened party was to accede to
the terrorist demands, then the situation could (ostensibly at least) be
returned to that which existed prior to the attack (i.e. with service
resumed). This is not the case in a “physical” incident when death or
destruction has occurred.
with a political agenda. This motivation (which could often be more
accurately described as fanaticism) will mean these types of attacks
will be more specifically targeted and aimed at more critical systems.
This collective action would do more harm than the action of a single
hacker. There is also the issue of funding, since terrorist groups could
have substantial funds available, they could easily employ hackers to
act on their behalf.
we like it or not, we have developed a significant (and increasing)
dependence upon information technology. The Internet is available 24
hours a day and cyber terrorist groups that view developed countries as a
target will be able to attack 24 hours a day. This means that all
organisations could feel the impact as their sites are attacked just
because they happen to be in Australian, Japan, USA, and so forth. Only
the future will show the risks that we face from the threat
of cyber terrorism
Technological productivity cannot be blindly accepted without scrutinizing its impact on people and the planet
such as Typhoon Haiyan,
Superstorm Sandy or Hurricane Katrina? The
answer, argue green critics, lies in the shared zeal of the two for an
infinite economic expansion, which they believe is burning up the
planet and stoking global climate change. For Marxism, harnessing an
ever-expanding economy is a means to amelioration of the human
condition. Capitalism, on the other hand, pursues this Holy Grail for
shareholders’ profits. Ironically, the stark divergence in their aims is
seen melt into convergence of their pathways that their critics
contend yield equally disastrous consequences for the planet.
Marxism and Green Narratives
Critics, thus, view both Marxism and capitalism organically bound in their anthropocentrism and instrumentality of nature to further human ends. Anthropocentrism, as Arne Naess
claims, elevates humans to the status of a superorganism, and subjects
nature to their servitude until its extinction. Green critics,
nevertheless, are not monolithic in their vision of the natural world.
They occupy a wide spectrum of philosophical orientations, the
prominent of which include deep ecology, shallow ecology (liberal
environmentalism), social ecology, socialist ecology, eco-Marxism and
eco-socialism. All these variants of environmentalism are, in turn,
challenged by eco-feminism for neglecting gender, particularly in what
ecofeminists describe the “grand narratives” of Marxist and capitalist “ideologies.”
There is, however, a broad range of sub-sets within eco-feminism,
some of which are closer to Marxism (such as socialist eco-feminism)
while others hue to capitalism (such as liberal ecofeminism). All but
shallow ecologists and liberal ecofeminists are skeptical of modern
technologies, and their fervent advocates in Marxism and capitalism.
Driven by this skepticism, some of these groups, such as deep
ecologists and cultural ecofeminists, reject the intellectual inheritance of the Enlightenment era,
western science, modernity and technology as dark forces that they
believe ruined the environment. In contrast, these very forces are
embraced by both Marxism and capitalism as the first seed of human
progress. Green critics do not go unchallenged though. The celebrated
founder of social ecology Murray Bookchin
has fiercely taken deep ecologists and cultural ecofeminists to task
for their anti-technology fanaticism. In his erudite rebuttal, Bookchin
has challenged both with the sharpest of wit, strongest of words and
utmost deftness of a polemicist.
Marxism and the Green Left
Oddly enough, green critics are just as vociferously echoed by a growing section of the green left that tends to see Marxism as insufficiently green, ungreen or even brown. They take issue with Marx’s fabled concern for “the development of the productive forces,”
which was purported to rid humanity of the “brutal necessities” of
material existence. They see Marxism achieve this emancipation by
transforming nature through technological innovations (i.e., productive
forces), a premise that some on the green left finds hard to reconcile
with the contemporary environmental condition. In the like vein, what
Marxism envisions in the productive forces, capitalism enacts in their
realization (i.e., scientific progress and technological innovations).
This apparent approximation of the two has a section of Marxist
theorists and practitioners foreseeing in capitalism a transition to a social revolution.
Ironically, their conjured up intermediation of capitalism makes them
even tolerant of capital’s excesses as “collateral damage” on the way
to a revolutionary heaven on earth. In lay terms it is technophilia that drives Marxism and capitalism into each other’s arms,
and binds their critics in their putative technophobia. In general,
however, the green left has helped move the orthodox version of Marxism
in the ecologically informed direction that has made it even more
relevant to the contemporary human condition. Even so, the larger
question as to how to reconcile Marxism’s putative technophilia and the
greens’ and the green left’s assumed technophobia still remains
Technologies and Social Relations of Production
Although it is a hotly contested assumption, technologies themselves
are value-neutral. It is their “social relations of production” (i.e.,
social systems that underscore the development of productive forces)
that have them save or savage people and the planet. Social relations tend to foster or fetter production of a given technology,
such as fossil fuels or green energy; uranium enrichment for weapons
making, electrical power, or cancer treatment; human cloning or
therapeutic cloning; genetically modified organism (GMO) foods or
organic produce. Similarly, modern technologies could not have been
developed under the fetters of regressive feudalism. They awaited their
birth until after the overthrow of feudalism, and the reconstruction of
alternative social relations under “progressive capitalism”.
Absurdly, some greens, in their backward mental leap, have even come
to prize feudalism over capitalism for its putative small ecological
footprint. Here they indeed risk being perceived as misanthrope in the
extreme for abandoning any pretense of human concern in their zest for
naturism. Yet they decry capitalism and reject its progressive
potential in technological breakthroughs that they see at the heart of
ecological ruin. Their feud with Marx and Marxism also rests on this
Marx and Capitalism
Marx did recognize the progressive potential of capitalism
at a time when the masses of humanity were wallowing in misery. To
help liberate fellow humans from the brutal necessities of life, and
enable them to live up to their fullest potential as a self-determined
citizen, the development of the productive forces was deemed a
necessary, if not sufficient, condition for social revolution. In
Marx’s times (1818-1883), these forces were developing, not developed,
which can be gauged from what was then considered to be the icons of
technology: telephone, train and steam ship. These technologies were,
nevertheless, benign, as their intended or unintended ecological
consequences were still in gestation. At the same time, their economic
and social benefits were all too obvious for humanity. They each helped
compress time and space, unlocked human economic potential, and paved
the way for lifting masses out of misery.
As a result, the more of such technologies were sought after to relieve human suffering. Marx and Engels were convinced
that dignified human living was bound up with the uninterrupted
development of productive forces, massive industrialization, and
ever-growing consumption to keep the former going, a rationale that
stokes their critics’ skepticism of Marxism to this day. Although Marx’s vision of the world was humanistic, it too was decried by greens as anthropocentrism
and speciesism. Yet the productive forces that capitalism has since
unleashed have become a doubled-edged sword that can simultaneously
save life and spell disasters. As a result, technological productivity
cannot be blindly accepted without scrutinizing its impact on people
and the planet. Marxist theorists, therefore, need to contextualize
Marx’s call for the development of the productive forces and, more
importantly, reassess capitalist technologies as to whether they
qualify to be “productive forces” in the first place, given their
“counterproductive” impact on both human and non-human nature.
In the 150 years since Marx wrote, capitalism has been helping
itself to the low-hanging fruit of extractive technologies, such as
transformation of fossil fuels, minerals and metals into energy and
industrial products. Yet the intended benefits of such technologies
have begun to be obscured by their unintended disbenefits, especially
when one scans the depletion and degradation of natural resources, and
their impact on what Allan Schnaiberg
calls the environment’s source and sink limits. Global climate change,
together with typhoons, hurricanes, cyclones and superstorms, is the
result of exceeding these limits. Marx was profoundly aware of humans’
dependence on nature for their very survival, as Ted Benton, James
O’Conner, John Bellamy Foster, and Jason Moore, among others, have
diligently evidenced in their ecological accounting of Marx. In his
time, Marx did not confront ecological limits on the development of
productive forces; he rather observed ecological transformation being
constrained by the underdeveloped productive forces. Today, Marx, having
been an ecologically informed thinker, would not push against what the
Club of Rome report
comprehensively described as “ecological limits” to develop the
“undifferentiated” productive forces, as did capitalism imperiling the
very survival of humans on this planet.
A section of Marxist theorists prioritize concern for the economic
well-being of humanity over all other concerns, a position that is not
entirely without merits. But their inattention to ecology
as the very basis of human material provisioning is puzzling all the
same. It amounts to belaboring the obvious that prospects for
humanity’s economic well-being are not just dependent upon the
development of productive forces, but the productive and absorptive capacity of the environment
as well. Capitalist technologies have long been overtaxing the
environment’s capacity to produce and absorb, with the consequences
that have now grown unbearable for the planet and its inhabitants. The
world cannot wait indefinitely for capitalism to go on pursuing its
progressive potential in the interest of a hoped-for social revolution,
while leaving behind a trail of ecological and human wasteland. Also,
frequent calls are made on the greens to pay mind to the needs of the
working classes. While it is important to draw greens’ attention to
their neglect of the human condition, it is equally important to engage
those Marxists whose literalist allegiance to Marx’s writings has them
pursue the “development of the productive forces” with the same zeal
and to the same neglect of nature as that of capitalism.
Technologies Are No Nirvana
Technologies alone are no nirvana for human prosperity, unless their
fruits are widely shared. To the contrary, technologies have lent
themselves to concentrating their dividends in the fewest possible
hands. A case in point is the global economy of $71.8 trillion
(in 2012) that allows every person on earth to have $11,000 a year, and
a household of four to have $44,000 a year. If broadly distributed,
mass circulation of wealth would not only banish poverty but would have
created more, better and cleaner prosperity. Instead, capitalist
relations of production have engendered an island of prosperity in the
sea of poverty. This can be gauged from the holdings of the financial
class in the global derivatives market, which has risen in “value” to a
whopping $600 trillion!!!!
As such, financial capitalism is worth more than 8 times the size of
the global economy. Yet its distributive impact is just the opposite as
is evident from the fact that less than 1% (0.7%) of the world’s population owns $98.7 trillion
(i.e., 41%) of the global wealth, while about 70% of the world’s
population is left with 3% of the world’s wealth to subsist on. In the
United States alone, 400 richest Americans are worth more than half of all Americans
combined. These are the issues that persist not because of
“underdeveloped productive forces” but because of the global
distributive disorder that is so markedly skewed towards the wealthiest
few. While greens must consider the human condition, there is just as
much need for the advocates of productive forces to reconsider their
blind adherence to what is pejoratively called “productivism” as a panacea for human deliverance.
Unplugging Fossil Fuel Technologies
Above all, many of the capitalist technologies are hard to grade as
“productive forces,” given their “counterproductive” impact. Nor will
capitalist relations of production allow the development of
technologies that are friendly to people and the planet. Just as
feudalism served as “fetters” on the development of “productive
forces,” so did capitalism on developing ecologically benign
technologies. Today, the fossil fuel industry, which forms the heart and
soul of modern capitalism, is hooked on ecologically destructive
technologies of energy production, which are also at the root of global
climate breakdown. Just in 2012 alone, the fossil fuel industry
invested $674 billion
in developing hydrocarbon-based energy, while its supporters in the
halls of power throw a chump change on the development of green
The world’s future seems even more fraught in light of the International Energy Agency’s prediction that the global investment in fossil fuel production will rise to $22.7 trillion
in 2012-2035. This alone explains why the fossil fuel industry stands
in the way of developing real “productive forces” that Marx would have
espoused: zero-emission energy from farming the sun, wind and water. It
is worth noting that the endless supply of energy from the sun and
wind cannot be measured even in trillions of barrels of oil and
quadrillions of cubic meters of natural gas. More importantly, solar
and wind power has virtually no expiration date, and costs least to the
environment. Despite these merits, capitalism and capitalist relations
of production are fettering the development of green energy because
fossil-fuel capitalists have trillions of dollars to lose if the switch
to renewable alternatives becomes a reality.
Marx for All Times, Or for Our Times?
So at this crossroads, what is the way forward? Defending the
development of the productive forces in the name of ending mass
privation? Waiting for capitalism’s progressive potential to exhaust
before the dawn of social revolution breaks out? Accepting human waste
along the road to revolution as “collateral damage”? Or scrutinizing
the very nature of the “productive forces” and their impact on both
people and the planet? The fact of the matter is that these putative
productive forces have already become “counterproductive” in their
impact. While the world still needs the development of the productive
forces, the concept of “productive forces” ought to be redefined in its
selective application to ecologically benign technologies such as solar
power — to the exclusion of fossil fuels. Similarly, searching for a
panacea in capitalist technologies for improving the human condition is
a fool’s errand as has been shown in the preceding two sections.
Instead, focus ought to be on the redistributive impact of technologies
and their dividends to better the human lot.
in his acerbic (rather acidified) criticism of Marxists, wrote that
they tend to eternalize Marx and his writings in their effort to
validate them for all times to come. Marx was, indeed, the most
prescient thinker who could foresee eons ahead. For this gift, he will
continue to be relevant for the ages to come. Yet there is no
gainsaying the fact that Marx lived in a specific time and space that
formed the context of his writings. In the mid-nineteenth century, the
mass of underdeveloped world and developing Europe needed to harness the
productive forces to emancipate the laboring masses from the
enslavement of brutal necessities of life. The transformative potential
of capitalist technologies was thus seen as a way out of human misery,
although the Dickensian world of industrial capitalism even then was
making its price unbearable. In the past 150 years, however, the cost
of “productive forces” to people and the planet has far outweighed
their benefits, pushing the humanity ever nearer to foreclosing on its
only abode – the planet earth. This impending “real estate bust” only
amplifies the need for altering the production and social relations of
production of future technologies to make them benign to ecology and
India and the two waves of globalization
Europe began to crumble as a result of World War I. The spark for the
continental conflagration was lit in June 1914 when Archduke Franz
Ferdinand of Austria was assassinated by a young Serbian nationalist.
The crisis escalated through July as the two broad alliances, the
Entente Powers led by Britain, Russia and France, and the Central Powers
led by Germany, the Austro-Hungarians and the Ottoman Empire, began to
raise nationalist fervour. Britain finally declared war on Germany in
The next four years saw massive slaughter across Europe. Many of the
old powers collapsed. Russia succumbed to a communist revolution.
Scores of new countries came into being as the Central Powers were
dismantled by the victorious Allies. Germany later fell to the Nazis.
But that was not the end of turmoil. Europe had to face political
violence, hyperinflation and mass unemployment over the next three
decades. The legacy of World War I continued well after the fighting
ended. It was only at the end of World War II that Europe could settle
to a stable social contract. Meanwhile, the US was the rising power that
would eventually replace the old European empires as the global
hegemon, printer of the global currency and defender of global shipping
intensely discussed across the world in the coming months. What will
perhaps get less attention is the fact that the war marked the end of
the first great era of globalization that began around 1870. The extent
of globalization then is comparable to its reach now in terms of
standard parameters such as trade, capital flows and migration. The
imperial powers created a new international division of labour that
condemned their colonies to being suppliers of raw material. Yet it is
also true that countries such as India experienced an industrial boom in
the last three decades of the nineteenth century. The gold standard was
the pivot of a global monetary system that was perhaps inflexible but
had kept prices stable. Trade became easier thanks to falling
the times very well in an essay published in 1919. “The inhabitant of
London could order by telephone, sipping his morning tea in bed, the
various products of the whole earth…he could at the same moment and by
the same means adventure his wealth in the natural resources and new
enterprises of any quarter of the world.”
this state of affairs as normal, certain, and permanent, except in the
direction of further improvement…The projects and politics of
militarism and imperialism, of racial and cultural rivalries, of
monopolies, restrictions, and exclusion…appeared to exercise almost no
influence at all on the ordinary course of social and economic life,
the internationalization of which was nearly complete in practice”.
reading him today should also serve as a warning, since it is well known
how such optimism was blown to smithereens in the war years. It is
almost akin to the overdone confidence that the end of communism marked
the final victory of liberal democracy; that confidence was shattered
when two planes were flown into the World Trade Centre buildings in
study in contrast: optimism in the earlier period and desperation in the
latter period. The colonial economic system was riddled with injustice
but even economies such as India were more vibrant in the first era of
globalization compared with the stagnation in the decades of
protectionism that came after 1918.
expected it to. It is tempting to ask whether the current global system
that is based on a web of global institutions dominated by the US is
also more fragile than it seems. The next turn in history is
fundamentally unpredictable, so there is no easy answer to the question.
But it is worth pointing out that globalization did pass a stringent
test in the aftermath of the 2008 global financial crisis. No country
retreated into protectionism. There was exemplary coordination of fiscal
and monetary policies during the most trying months of 2009.
despite some obvious flaws, just as it did in the last decades of the
nineteenth century. Economic xenophobia has deep roots in India partly
because the country lost its freedom first to a commercial organization
and then to a trading power. But, in this silly season of bizarre
economic policy proposals, it is useful to point out that India has a
strong reason to hope that what happened a hundred years ago to the
global economic system is never again repeated.
Natural Resources and Energy Security Challenging the ‘Resource-Curse’ Model in Bangladesh
natural resources and energy security in peripheral economies, with
special focus on Bangladesh. It highlights the fact that resource
abundance does not
automatically translate into development; countries
like Bangladesh suffer because of their local hegemonic rulers and
global alliances which, in the name of development, extract
disproportionate private profits from common property through the use of
corrupt practices and skewed policies. The article also insists that
natural energy resources should be considered common property, and in
order to make development meaningful and sustainable should remain so.
Planned development of the national capability is an essential
precondition to maximise the potential use of natural resources. In the
context of Bangladesh, a ban on exporting mineral resources and open-pit
mining is also necessary to ensure energy security and sustainable
development. It concludes that energy-sovereignty is the key to energy
security, and therefore to sustainable development.
Sexual Violence and the Death Penalty
imposed the death penalty based upon the depravity of the offence and
the demands of the “collective conscience of society”. On the other
hand, in the Naroda Patiya judgment in the case of the rapes and murders
of Muslims in this part of Gujarat, the court held that it cannot go
down the route of giving the death penalty but preferred a graded system
of life imprisonment based upon the degree of culpability of the
different offenders. The latter is a new way of thinking about the logic
of punishment. Justice Jyotsna Yagnik rejects the retributive logic and
forces us to explore deeper questions about unthinkable violence,
responsibility and punishment.
Impunity has been the order of the day when it comes to violent
crimes against women in India. While cruelty enacted on the bodies of
women is quotidian in its nature, what is exceptional is when this
violence is brought before the court and the court recognises this
violence and accounts for it. The judiciary has failed in numerous cases
to ensure that those responsible for horrific crimes against women are
brought to account. Emblematic of this deep and tragic failure is the
Mathura rape case where the Supreme Court (SC) refused to even
acknowledge the sexual violence inflicted on women’s bodies.
In the light of this history, the judgment in the Delhi rape (which
occurred on 16 December 2012) case was exceptional in counteracting this
impunity for crimes against women by finding the accused guilty.1
How rare this conviction is emerges from the fact that the judge in the
case, justice Yogesh Khanna, had only two conviction orders in the 203
cases of rape he had heard from 1 January 2009 to the day of the Delhi
However, even as we acknowledge the importance of breaking the cycle
of impunity for violent crimes against women, there remain troubling
questions about how we punish the accused. Should the turn away from
impunity mean that we embrace the death penalty for the accused? Are
there ways in which we can acknowledge the gravity of the violation and
think of a graded and nuanced punishment which takes seriously the
violation without embracing the death penalty?
To think about the issue of punishment in the context of unimaginable
violence this article will trace out the very important but relatively
little studied judgment (compared to the Delhi rape judgment) delivered
by justice Jyotsna Yagnik in a case involving the murder of 96 Muslims
and the rape of Muslim women during the Gujarat pogrom. The judge in
this case finally comes to the conclusion that for this crime of mass
murder and rape, the 32 accused should be given different gradations of
punishment ranging from imprisonment for 14 years to imprisonment for
life. Is there something one can learn from the judgment in the Naroda
Patiya case (as it is familiarly known) when it comes to thinking about
the issue of both crime and its punishment?
Naroda Patiya Case
On 28 February 2002, following the Godhra train incident, in the
locality of Naroda Patiya, a violent mob systematically went about the
task of murdering and maiming Muslims, raping Muslim women and
destroying Muslim places of worship and Muslim houses. The orgy of
violence which went on throughout the day was accomplished using deadly
weapons and to the accompaniment of slogans which can be roughly
translated into meaning “slaughter, cut, not a single miya should be
able to survive, Jay Shri Ram”. The destruction concluded with the
burning of members of the Muslim community (the living as well as the
dead bodies were set aflame).
In the case finally before justice Yagnik (State of Gujarat vs Naresh Agarsinh Chara and Others),3
what was on trial were the series of incidents over the course of the
day which resulted in the death of 96 Muslims, serious injuries to over
124 Muslims and the rape of Muslim women. What was also on trial was the
criminal responsibility of Mayaben Kodnani and others for the
conspiracy to commit the said offences. During the course of the trial
327 witnesses were examined and 2,392 documents were produced. The
charge sheet listed offences ranging from conspiracy, murder, gang rape
and causing grievous hurt to forming of unlawful assembly. The entire
process of accessing justice right from filing the first information
report (FIR) to ensuring a fair trial was an uphill struggle. In fact it
was only the intervention of the SC which resulted in a relatively fair
investigation. Because of all these difficulties the struggle of the
victims of Naroda Patiya continued for 10 long years. It was only in
August 2012 that a 1,969 page judgment was delivered by justice Yagnik
convicting 32 people for the above mentioned offences.
The Judge’s Reasoning
Overcoming Procedural Hurdles: The substratum of the order’s
reasoning is a keen awareness that this is an extraordinary case. The
case had been sent back for fresh investigation by none other than the
SC and the facts of the case had to do with an extraordinary breakdown
of law and order. Considering this scenario the judge was inclined to
look differently at procedural issues which can often stymie the
struggle for justice.
First, with respect to the fact that investigation itself was faulty,
the judge asserted the principle that “defective investigation, that
too a deliberate defective investigation or deliberately kept loopholes
are no ground for acquittal”. The judge constructed a mental picture of
the days of the massacre and was able to empathise emotionally with the
situation on 28 February 2002. The judge observed
the picture was so gloomy and sad that the complaints of the Muslims
were not taken…It seems that the entire negligence, lighter attitude,
carelessness in the investigation, insensitive attitude towards victims
and their agonies etc. all was surely aimed at to see to it that at the
end of the entire investigation if not all statements, then at least of
majority witnesses should be saying that, ‘they do not know any member
of the mob’.
Second, the crime was difficult to prove as there was no corpus
delicti, i e, no body was recovered. This flows from the fact that
integral to the crimes committed at Naroda Patiya was the throwing of
persons (both dead and alive into the flames). As one eyewitness
observed, “four women of the society came there who were giving kerosene
to the men of the mob and those women were telling that ‘kill these
people and then burn them’”. Taking this problem, which is often
integral to the nature of mass crimes into account justice Yagnik by
drawing on case law found that, “recovery of dead body is not necessary
and it is held that conviction for murder does not necessarily depend
upon Corpus Delicti being found”.
Third, justice Yagnik is also not inclined to give the benefit of the
doubt to the accused though none of the deadly weapons used during the
carnage were recovered by the police. As she succinctly put it, “The
evidence shows that most of the accused were armed with a deadly weapon
and are guilty of rioting being armed with a deadly weapon. The weapon
is not actually recovered from them, but it is immaterial in the
Eyewitness Accounts as Basis of Conviction: The evidence which
forms the heart of the judgment and is the basis of the convictions is
really the eyewitness accounts. The eyewitnesses in this case have all
suffered grievous loss with some of them actually seeing their family
members being killed. The demeanour of eyewitnesses who have suffered so
much trauma is observed by the court. It notes that
during the deposition many of the witnesses were finding it very
difficult to control (rolling down) their tears (on their cheeks). They
were eager to show their burnt limbs, their injured limbs and explain
their losses to the Court. Many of the parent witnesses were unable to
describe about the death of their children in the riot, they became so
emotional that very often needed to be consoled and offered a glass of
water to complete their deposition.
In the absence of almost all other forms of forensic evidence,
recovery of weapons, etc, it is the eyewitness testimony and the
reliance placed upon it by the judge, which forms the basis of the
Naroda Patiya convictions.4 This judgment at its heart is
really about the courageous testimonies of witnesses who persisted in
their quest for justice despite overwhelming odds. The witnesses went
ahead and testified to the almost unbearable loss they had suffered
despite continuing intimidation. A particular example of this form of
courageous truth telling is the testimony of prosecution witness (PW)
158 an extract of which is given below:
Here several people were cut and killed like entire family of
Kudratbibi, Jadi khala, her two daughters-in-law, family of the PW,
family of Kausharbanu, the family of maternal aunt of Kausharbanu,
brother-in-law Salam of Gauri Appa, etc. At this time, his wife Zarina,
daughter Fauzia, cousin Abdul Aziz, Haroon, Yunus, wife of Yunus jumped
the wall, they were cordoned by the people, his wife was dragged by four
men, she was attacked, her left hand was cut off by sword, her right
hand was attacked by sword, her head was injured by sword, she was given
hockey blow in her leg, her clothes were being pulled and torn off, not
a single cloth remained on her body, she was made naked…
Even at the water tank, there was screaming of ‘kill-cut’, all the men
of the mob have attacked different persons with the weapons in their
hands, four women of the society came there who were giving kerosene to
the men of the mob and those women were telling that ‘kill these people
and then burn them’, he knew the four women since they were purchasing
bakery products which he used to sell. Even he was also battered by acid
bottles on his right hand, flesh came out from his right hand, he was
also injured, he had also sustained injury on his hand, hip and head,
the clamours of only ‘save, save and save’ were heard, the mob has
killed his mother Abedabibi, sister Saidabanu, daughter of sister Saida –
Gulnaaz, Jadi Khala, Kudratbibi, their family members by pouring
kerosene and burning them…
They learnt about survivals of their relatives and met each other…
The witness felt that their house, their world were all ruined, he
added that ‘even today I get knee jerks and I am shaken, upon
remembering, I feel I am very upset and will undergo brain haemorrhage
on remembering the occurrence of that day.’
His wife told him about the occurrence with her, they were so helpless
that they had to shut their mouths, they were giving statement but, were
not knowing as to what they were saying and what they were missing, the
PW could not identify the four who dragged his wife…
The testimony speaks to a collective dimension of violence involving
an orgy of murder and rape. The chilling aspect of the testimony emerges
from the number of defenceless people who the witness testifies to
having been killed. The violence is sexualised with the clothes of the
women being pulled off thus leaving them naked. The deeply personal and
humiliating sexual nature of the violence is hinted at with the witness
saying that his “wife told him about the occurrence with her, they were
so helpless that they had to shut their mouths”. The consequences of
this almost overwhelming violence are literally world shattering as the
witness notes that on remembering, “I feel I am very upset and will
undergo brain haemorrhage on remembering the occurrence of that day”. It
is on understanding the various dimensions of the violence as well as
the impact on the victims that their incredible courage shines through
again and again.
The Honesty of Extrajudicial Confession: The sting operation conducted by Ashish Ketan of Tehelka resulted in videographed interviews with three of the accused in the Naroda Patiya case.5
All three interviews were treated as extrajudicial confessions under
Section 24 of the Indian Evidence Act. The extrajudicial confessions
were the other piece of evidence implicating both those making the
confession as well as the other accused in the crimes committed at
Naroda Patiya. They were cited in the judgment and need to be quoted in
part as they throw light on numerous aspects of the crime.
The gist of the confession of Babu Bajrangi:
I shall not stop working for Hinduism until I die. I have personal
notions about Hinduism. I have no fear even if I am hanged. Now, there
won’t live any Muslims in India. The moment I saw corpses lying in
Godhra, that very night I had decided and challenged that, ‘There would
be four times more slaughter in PATIYA than that of GODHRA.’..I have two
enemies, the Muslims and the Christians…
We slaughtered Muslims, Patiya is half kilometer away from my house. I
and the local public were there to do the massacre at Patiya. If one
would go to Godhra, one would be provoked and would determine to kill
all the Muslims then and there. We retaliated at Patiya. In Patiya, we
had secured the highest death toll.
The gist of the confession by one Suresh was:
If fruits (saying for girls) were lying, the hungry would eat it. In
any case, she (the Muslim girl) was to be burnt hence somebody might
have ate (eaten) the fruit.
Two to 4 rapes or may be more, might have been committed. Who would not
eat fruit? In whatever number Muslims are killed, it is still less. I
would not leave them. I have too much of rancor (malice) against them
(Muslims). Even I had also raped one girl, who was daughter of a scrap
man (one who is in business of scrap) – named Nasimo, she was fat. I
raped her on roof and then thrown (threw) her from there. I smashed her,
cut her to pieces like ‘achar’ (pickle).
These extrajudicial confessions describe in great detail what exactly
the accused did that day. More importantly, they give us a direct
insight into the minds of the accused. If there were doubts as to
whether the rapes took place that day, it is set at rest by Suresh’s
casual description of the act of rape and murder of a Muslim woman. Both
confessions give chilling evidence of the deep motive underlying the
killings. It is the hatred of the Muslim community which is at the root
of the orgy of violence against them. The confessions give us a hint
that the crime is not one which can be contained within ordinary
criminal law as the intent is not only to murder or rape as the Indian
Penal Code (IPC) describes it but rather the intention to eliminate the
hated race, the Muslims. The crime executed by the mob is nothing less
than what is referred to as the “crime of crimes”, i e, genocide.
Conspiracy to Commit Murder, Rioting, Unlawful Assembly, Inflict Grievous Hurt: In
a large mob it would be close to impossible to prove the individual
culpability of each of its members for every one of the offences
committed. What serves to connect the various actions of the mob to one
another legally is the law on conspiracy which requires proof that the
various members of the mob had a prior agreement to do a series of
illegal acts. If there is such a prior agreement then the various
members of the mob are responsible for all the actions undertaken by
anyone who is a part of the mob. The judge finds that there was indeed
an agreement among the members of the mob. The finding is that
the accused were tremendously over charged with the idea to take
revenge with the Muslim Community as a whole and they were totally out
and had clear objects in their minds of doing away with maximum Muslims
and to destroy, damage and demolish their religious place and property.
Rape in the Context of Mass Violence: The problem justice
Yagnik faced regarding the offence of rape was that there was very
little evidence left. The chilling extrajudicial confession of Suresh
wherein he brags about having raped a woman called Nasimo and then
cutting her into pieces provided an insight into the methods of the
killers. The methodology was clearly rape followed by murder and
burning. Hence, there was very little surviving evidence of the original
crime. The only place where the evidence of the crime survived was in
the memory of the perpetrators as well as that of the victim survivors.
The undoing of impunity for rape was really the fact that Suresh felt
impelled to boast about “raping Nasimo”.6 It is this extrajudicial confession which the judge uses to convict him of the crime.
Further, the history of mass crimes of the nature of that were
perpetrated at Naroda Patiya is closely tied to sexual crimes. In fact
mass crimes and sexual violence go hand in hand and we owe a debt of
gratitude to justice Yagnik for making that connection clear through the
appreciation of evidence. However nobody else was convicted of rape as
she did not see the conspiracy hatched on 28 February 2002 as including
the commission of the crime of rape. This is mystifying, particularly
since she has very clearly delineated the acts of rape committed in the
course of the murderous assault and quite clearly rape emerges as an
integral part of the conspiracy both from the eyewitness testimonies as
well as from the extrajudicial confessions.
However justice Yagnik was very clear that the crime of rape was
committed. The eyewitness testimonies combined with the extrajudicial
confession are sufficient to arrive at the conclusion. She understood
the reason the victims wanted to testify about a crime in which the
perpetrator was unknown. Zarina testifies to being “attacked by four men
and that she was gang raped there. She testifies that four men had
attacked on her with the help of sword, string of her petticoat was cut
off and that a severe sword blow was given on her hand by the attackers.
Having nakeded her, she was gang raped.” However Zarina was unable to
identify the attackers. The judge concluded:
When PW-205 is not implicating any of the accused, it is clear that she
does not have any other intention in her mind for narration of this
incident, except ventilation of tremendous violation of her human right
and constitutional right before the Court. The loud cries of such victim
of crime if not heard by the system, it is mockery of justice. Here, it
sounds quite fitting to record the deep concern of the Court about
violation of human rights and constitutional rights of the victim who
was subjected to gang rape.
In giving a dignified hearing to Zarina’s tale of horror and woe she
understood a very deep aspect about justice. It is very important that
the victims be heard and be believed. The pain of those who have
suffered unbearable loss needs to be acknowledged. This acknowledgement
of pain and loss can itself begin the process of healing.
The judge went on to order compensation for Zarina in full
recognition that “no compensation in fact, is weighty enough to wipe out
the permanent scar, effect and impact on the mind of the victim of the
crime of gang rape”. Rather the compensation is a recognition that, “the
Court is concerned with the commission of crime primarily since that is
to take care of subsistence of Rule of Law. The international concern
for the impact of sexual offences against women guide this Court that
this victim needs to be compensated.”
The Judgment: Bringing a Sense of Closure? The brutality of
the crimes can be deduced from the intentional killing, maiming, raping
and then burning the victims. If the “iron rod” emerged as a symbol of
brutality in the Delhi rape judgment, the phrase repeated by justice
Yagnik, “grilled meat” to refer to the ruthless burning of Muslims both
dead and alive symbolises the horror of Naroda Patiya. The other image
which dominates and in fact emerged as the emblematic horror story of
the Gujarat pogrom was the ripping apart of the stomach of the pregnant
Kausar Bano by Babu Bajrangi.
Justice Yagnik was able to acknowledge the horror suffered by the
residents of Naroda Patiya. She understood that the reason that even
after 10 years the victims in spite of all odds were still pursuing the
claim to justice was related to a deep-rooted need to right the balance.
The wrong which was done had to be righted, before one could even
attempt the process of closure. Justice Yagnik demonstrates a
sensitivity in understanding the context of communal violence when she
says, “The Court is not sitting in (an) Ivory Tower.” It is this
appreciation of the context of a communal mass crime which ensures that
defective and complicit investigation is not allowed to checkmate the
quest for justice.
Even when there is no possibility for conviction she understood that
victims needed to be heard. The process of empathetic hearing itself7 combined with the judgment brought about some measure of closure to a horrific chapter in Indian history.
What is apparent is also that the evidence before her far outstrips
the narrow limits of the crimes defined in the IPC. The offences
committed on that day were not only acts of murder and rape committed
against individuals persons. In its deepest sense they were crimes
committed with the avowed intent to eliminate in whole or in part the
Muslim community in Naroda Patiya. As such the crime was really what is
referred to as the “crime of crimes”, i e, genocide, a crime against a
collectivity which is not recognised by Indian law.
Delhi Judgment and the Naroda Patiya One
The horrors of the Delhi 2012 and Gujarat 2002 are of two different
orders. Yet there is no gainsaying that they both portray chilling and
brutal violence inflicted with impunity upon the bodies of women. The
question is, how did the court deal with the reality of extreme and
outrageous acts when it comes to the question of awarding punishment?
The sentencing part of the judgment in the Delhi rape case gives the
extreme penalty of death to all the five accused. The logic the judge
adopts is that the extreme depravity of the offence brings it within the
Bachan Singh formula of the rarest of the rare, and hence makes it a
fit case for the award of the death penalty.8 The aggravating
circumstances of this “brutal, grotesque, diabolical, [and] revolting”
crime far outweigh the mitigating circumstances of “youth,
socio-economic circumstances clean antecedents and reformative
Justice Khanna also articulates the need for awarding the highest penalty in terms of both deterrence and retribution:
These are the times when gruesome crimes against women have become
rampant and courts cannot turn a blind eye to the need to send a strong
deterrent message to the perpetrators of such crimes…
The subjecting of the prosecutrix to inhuman acts of torture before her
death has not only shocked the collective conscience but calls for the
withdrawal of the protective arm of the community around the
convicts….Accordingly, the convicts be hanged by neck till they are
In the sentencing part of the Naroda Patiya judgment the judge sees
with immense clarity the harm that the accused have inflicted.
The 96 persons were killed mercilessly in a day and were reduced to
grilled meat without any stimuli or provocation on their part. Among the
deceased victims, there were women, old persons, helpless kids and even
crippled person. About 125 victims have been found to have been victims
of crime of hurt, grievous hurt, attempt to murder, etc. Among these
helpless 125 persons there was even an infant aged 20 days.
The proved facts of murder and rape committed on the grounds of
religion go beyond any ordinary crime of murder and rape. As justice
Yagnik puts it:
In a country like ours, discrimination on the ground of religion or
enmity or hatred for any religion is a taboo. Taking lives of persons
just because those persons are having faith in another religion is bound
to be dangerous and it strikes at the very root of the orderly secular
society which the founding fathers of our Constitution dreamt of.
Then she goes on to dismiss the question of extenuating circumstances
raised by the accused including family responsibilities, young age and
lack of criminal antecedents. The judge observes,
Their submission for their family responsibilities, small kids, health
of their spouse, they being the only breadwinner, etc, cannot be
considered in absence of accessing their role based on the proved facts
of the case. How it can out of the mind that the loud cries of the
victims for the help and mercy if have not appealed to the heart, mind
and soul of the accused, then, it itself is an important consideration.
The proved fact reveals of throwing children in the flames of fire was
the most shocking part….
The judge discusses the punishment of death penalty making two
contradictory points, that the death penalty “serves the purpose of
deterrence” and that death penalty “undermines human dignity”. The judge
then concludes that,
In the facts of the case, when alternative to death penalty is
available, it is better to embrace the same. There are ways to address
this violent crime in a more constructive way in which precious lives
were lost in a barbarous attack launched by the assailants.
Based upon this understanding she awards a graded punishment wherein
Babu Bajrangi is given imprisonment for the rest of his natural life,
Maya Kodnani is given imprisonment for 18 years, seven other accused are
given a minimum sentence of 21 years and 22 other accused are given
The sentencing part of the Delhi rape judgment imposed the death
penalty based upon the depravity of the offence and the demands of the
so-called “collective conscience of society”. The sentencing part of the
Naroda Patiya judgment did not minimise the offences committed and in
fact found that in offences so serious there were no extenuating
circumstances. Yet the court held that it cannot go down the route of
giving death penalty but preferred a graded system of life imprisonment
based upon the degree of culpability of the different offenders. The
logic of the court was “there are ways to address this violent crime in a
more constructive way in which precious lives were lost in a barbarous
attack launched by the assailants”.
This call by justice Yagnik gestures towards a new way of thinking
about the logic of punishment. She rejects the retributive logic
implicit in the argument about the “collective conscience of society”
and forces us to explore deeper questions about unthinkable violence,
responsibility and punishment.
The call to address, “violent crime in a more constructive way” is
most compelling in the context of the public outrage and response to the
Delhi rape incident. While there was anger on the streets, there seemed
to be very little space for mourning. Would a politics centred on a
collective mourning have changed the way we responded to the Delhi rape
incident? Could there have been a shift from the angry insistence on the
death penalty, if we had collectively spent more time on grieving for
the life that had been lost?
When the judgment was delivered what was on display was the idea of
punishment as a festival. The call of death for the rapists was a cry
for revenge and when it was answered by the judgment there almost seemed
to be a sense that the sentiment of the people was sated.
The question of how the public sentiment in favour of revenge can
pervert the idea of justice is raised most compellingly by Hannah
Arendt. In her analysis of the trial of Eichmann, Arendt is alone in her
discomfort with the staged production of Eichmann as a symbol of
radical evil. In her understanding he was at most a cog in the wheel of
the bureaucracy of death that was the Nazi apparatus. She also expresses
strong discomfort with a show trial, in which the collective conscience
of the Jewish people has to be appeased, regardless of what a true
notion of justice may demand. “Justice [according to Arendt] demands
seclusion and it permits sorrow rather than anger”.9
It is sorrow which is conspicuously absent in the Delhi rape judgment
and which permeates the Naroda Patiya judgment. Arguably it is the
judge who is moved by the pain of the victim who is able to craft the
idea that we need to respond in a “more constructive way” to
“violent crime”. The judge, who expresses shock and horror only, goes
along with a sentiment based upon revenge for the horrors inflicted as
is the case of the Delhi rape judgment. The judge who is moved by sorrow
is unable to view the perpetrators as “subhuman” in spite of the
horrors they have perpetrated whereas the judge who is moved by the
public sentiment of anger very quickly ends up viewing the perpetrators
solely within the lens of the “less than human”.
The relationship of emotion and feeling to the process of judging and
what accounts for justice is an important question. Surely justice must
not only be a balm for past wounds but equally a gesture towards the
future? The aim of justice cannot be to put to death a group of
perpetrators while allowing the sentiment of evil which led to the wrong
to continue unchallenged?
By questioning the logic of death penalty, the objective is not to
minimise the hurt and harm suffered by the victim of the 16 December
rape. In fact the violent attacks on her should deepen our sensitivity
to human suffering and broaden our ethical horizons. It should sensitise
us to the equally brutal suffering of Soni Sori and the innumerable
dalit and adivasi women who suffer such brutalities.
The idea of justice should take individual suffering seriously but
equally justice should be future oriented and must make a moral
commitment that what happened to one individual should not happen to
anyone else similarly placed.