The Guardian & The Telegraph & The Hindu – 2006-03-03 00:40:05
Baby Bush Go Home
Arundhati Roy / The Guardian
INDIA (March 1, 2006) — On his triumphalist tour of this part of the world, where he hopes to wave imperiously at people he considers potential subjects, President Bush’s itinerary is getting curiouser and curiouser. For his March 2 pit stop in New Delhi, the Indian government tried very hard to have him address our Parliament.
A not inconsequential number of MPs threatened to heckle him, so Plan One was hastily shelved. Plan Two was that he address the masses from the ramparts of the magnificent Red Fort where the Indian prime minister traditionally delivers his Independence Day address.
But the Red Fort, surrounded as it is by the predominantly Muslim population of Old Delhi, was considered a security nightmare. So now we’re into Plan Three: President George Bush speaks from Purana Qila, the Old Fort.
Ironic, isn’t it, that the only safe public space for a man who has recently been so enthusiastic about India’s modernity should be a crumbling medieval fort?
Since the Purana Qila also houses the Delhi zoo — George Bush’s audience will be a few hundred caged animals and an approved list of caged human beings who in India go under the category of “eminent persons”.
They’re mostly rich folk who live in our poor country like captive animals, incarcerated by their own wealth, locked and barred in their gilded cages, protecting themselves from the threat of the vulgar and unruly multitudes whom they have systematically dispossessed over the centuries.
So what’s going to happen to George W Bush?
Will the gorillas cheer him on?
Will the gibbons curl their lips?
Will the brow-antlered deer sneer?
Will the chimps make rude noises? Will the owls hoot?
Will the lions yawn and the giraffes bat their beautiful eyelashes?
Will the crocs recognise a kindred soul?
Will the quails give thanks that Bush isn’t travelling with Dick Cheney, his hunting partner with the notoriously bad aim?
Will the CEOs agree?
Oh, and on March 2, Bush will be taken to visit Gandhi’s memorial in Rajghat. He’s by no means the only war criminal who has been invited by the Indian government to lay flowers at Rajghat. (Only recently we had the Burmese dictator General Than Shwe, no shrinking violet himself.) But when George Bush places flowers on that famous slab of highly polished stone, millions of Indians will wince. It will be as though he has poured a pint of blood on the memory of Gandhi.
We really would prefer that he didn’t.
It is not in our power stop Bush’s visit. It is in our power to protest it, and we will. The government, the police and the corporate press will do everything they can to minimise the extent of our outrage.
Nothing the Happy-news Papers say can change the fact that all over India, from the biggest cities to the smallest villages, in public places and private homes, George W Bush, incumbent president of the United States of America, world nightmare incarnate, is just not welcome.
Indian Anger at Bush’s Petal Tribute to Gandhi
Peter Foster / The Telegraph
New Delhi (March 3, 2006) — President George W Bush faced a chorus of protest as he honoured the memory of Mahatma Gandhi during his visit to India.
Before signing a historic nuclear deal yesterday, Mr Bush, a believer in the doctrine of military pre-emption, sprinkled rose petals over the memorial to the philosopher of non-violence.
The short trip to the Rajghat in New Delhi, with Mr Bush and his wife Laura barefoot, preceded a triumphant statement heralding a new era of co-operation between the two countries.
Arundhati Roy, the Booker Prize-winning novelist and social activist, wrote that millions of Indians would “wince” as Mr Bush paid his tribute. “It will be as though he has poured a pint of blood on the memory of Gandhi,” she said.
More than 100,000 people, many from India’s 160 million-strong Muslim population, took to the streets of New Delhi this week in vociferous but peaceful protests at his visit.
But the protesters were kept far away from the president, who later joined Dr Manmohan Singh, the Indian prime minister, in hailing a natural strategic alliance between the world’s most powerful and most populous democracies.
Mr Bush said that agreements on trade, agriculture and fighting terrorism would advance the peace and prosperity of the democratic world.
The increasingly wealthy urban India, with its shopping malls and gated apartment blocks, has a natural affinity with all things American, with long queues for visas to the US where 1.6 million Indians live and work.
However, Mr Bush’s 10-minute visit to Gandhi’s memorial, a routine stop for all visiting heads of state, was a focal point for Left-wing parties instinctively suspicious of the US.
“I am grateful to have the opportunity to honour Mahatma Gandhi at this sacred site,” Mr Bush wrote in the visitor’s book.
“His life was an inspiration to people and the world and his contribution to all mankind place him among the great leaders of history.”
But quoting from Gandhi’s autobiography, The Story of My Experiments with Truth, critics questioned how Mr Bush, who fought the war in Iraq in the name of freedom and democracy, could be granted such an honour.
“What difference does it make to the dead, the orphans and the homeless whether the mad destruction is wrought under the name of totalitarianism or the holy name of liberty and democracy?” asked Gandhi.
But whatever the philosophical differences, Mr Bush and Dr Singh agreed that a new world order was rapidly emerging in which India and America were natural allies.
As well as increased military co-operation, the US is pressing hard for greater access to Indian markets and their new consumer class, hungry for US products.
The nuclear deal, which guarantees fuel for India’s nuclear reactors, is one of several measures to support the country’s expanding economy, which faces serious shortages of affordable, clean energy.
Before it becomes reality, however, the deal requires the US Congress and the 45-member Nuclear Suppliers Group to amend strict rules which govern the export of nuclear technologies to countries such as India.
Bush Should Be Treated like a War Criminal, Says Prakash Karat
• In its bid to forge new allies, India should not abandon traditional partners: Bardhan
• We will demand from Government details of nuclear deal, says Yechury
• Mulayam criticises US imperialist policies
NEW DELHI (March 3, 2006) — Shouting slogans and carrying placards denouncing American policies, thousands of people, led by senior Left and Samajwadi Party leaders, took out a protest march here on Thursday from Ramlila Grounds to Jantar Mantar.
The leaders warned the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) Government against ignoring popular sentiment and aligning with the United States.
Addressing the gathering at Parliament Street, Communist Party of India (Marxist) general secretary Prakash Karat demanded prosecution of President Bush blaming him for the deaths of 1.5 lakh [150,000] people in Iraq. “He should be treated like a war criminal,” he said, adding that protests across the country had proved that President Bush was not welcome here. He asked the Government to pursue an independent foreign policy and not follow the dictates of the US.
Communist Party of India general secretary A.B. Bardhan said that by aligning itself with the US, India had severed its relationship with a large number of developing countries across the globe. “In a bid to forge new allies, India should not abandon her old and traditional partners,” he said.
Calling President Bush an “imperialist aggressor”, the CPI leader said the U.S. had taken control of Iraq three years ago and people there continued to lay down their lives in their fight against occupation. “And now they are planning to target Iran,” he said, asking whether the Indian Government would hail such a move.
As for the nuclear deal, Mr. Bardhan said the Government had to answer important questions pertaining to national security raised by retired senior atomic energy officials. “It is a shameful act,” he said, adding that the decision in this regard was taken in haste and the Government had not taken everyone into confidence. “Through this deal the US can pressure India on a number of issues,” he said, adding that the nuclear deal would certainly be raised in Parliament.
CPI (M) Polit Bureau member Sitaram Yechury said it was because of widespread protests that President Bush was not called upon to address a joint session of Parliament. As for the nuclear deal, he said the Government would be asked to reveal details of the pact.
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav criticised the imperialist policies of the US and said the Indian people would not succumb to any kind of pressure.
Others who participated in the rally included CPI (M) Polit Bureau member Brinda Karat, CPI leader D. Raja, son of U.P. Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav Akhilesh Yadav, Forward Bloc leader Debabrata Biswas, Samajwadi Party general secretary Amar Singh and MP Jaya Prada. Booker Prize winner Arundhati Roy was also present.
Earlier on Thursday morning, party workers from neighbouring States, students and activists of various organisations gathered at the Ramlila Grounds for the anti-Bush march.
Wearing T-shirts that read “Bush Go Home”, the students criticised his “oil-driven” policy of “subjugating” countries by force. They criticised the US Government for its role in Iraq and Afghanistan.
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