Friday, June 01, 2007

"a patchwork country" II

Kicking off in Assam.

Now in Rajasthan. Group rights at any level below the nation are a bad idea, though I might make an exception for Welsh speakers and Native Americans.

JAIPUR, India, June 1 (Reuters) - A powerful Indian farming community seeking special government treatment clashed with a competing caste on Friday, killing four people and taking the death toll to 22 in four days of riots.

Tens of thousands of people have been stranded on highways or at railway stations in the western state of Rajasthan, a popular destination for foreign tourists, due to the wave of violent protests by ethnic Gujjars.

Millions of Gujjars, spread across north and western India, want to be declared a Scheduled Tribe (ST) which entitles them to job and college quotas.

But Meenas, who oppose the granting of tribal status to the Gujjars fearing they will lose their own quota slice, clashed on Friday in eastern Rajasthan, officials said.

At least four people were killed when Meenas tried to break a blockade by Gujjars, the first sign of a broader caste conflict erupting.

Hundreds of soldiers armed with automatic weapons have been patrolling highways and violence-hit towns. The main highway linking New Delhi to Agra, home to the Taj Mahal, has been hit by the Gujjar protests.

The vessel of Indian peace seems to be springing a leak at every seam - or has it always been like this since 1947, but poorly reported ? The well-meant efforts of Indian administrators to raise the poorest and lowest seem instead to have triggered a 'race to the bottom'.

In the past two decades, more castes and communities under Hinduism's ancient hierarchy have been demanding special quotas to garner government jobs and college places through affirmative action programmes.

The Meenas, a powerful community in Rajasthan, have cornered a large slice of the existing tribal quota for government jobs and college places in the state, and their leaders say they do not want the Gujjars to get reserved places at their cost.

"The strident demand among Gujjars in Rajasthan for ST status is a reflection of the seeming paradox of the notion of caste in today's India," the Times of India said in an editorial.

"The advent of reservations as an instrument to address economic and social inequities ... has promoted communities to go down the caste ladder to take advantages of assured quotas."

There are several groups that benefit from government affirmative action -- Scheduled Castes (SC), made up of "untouchables" and which is the lowest tier, and Scheduled Tribes (ST) made up of tribal groups are the next tier.

The third tier are Other Backward Classes (OBC), made up of a host of lower castes including Gujjars.

"Other backward classes" - I do love the way South Asian people call a spade a spade. We used to once. You'll often find that matters of race or culture are discussed far more openly by Asian writers or on, say, BBC Asian Network than on Radio 4 or 5. They haven't got that terrible white liberal guilt.

Gujjars wanted to be relegated to the ST group, where they believe competition is less fierce for jobs and college places.

Talks between Gujjars and state officials have failed and more negotiations are planned.

"We will not lift our blockade unless we get reservation," a Gujjar protester, holding a big stick, told NDTV television.

In 1990, dozens of upper-caste Hindu students burnt themselves to death to protest against a government plan to widen the quota for lower castes in government jobs.

What with the Sikh strikes and the traditional low-level stuff in places like West Bengal and Nagaland, India seems an interesting (in the Chinese curse sense) place at present. Don't get me started on Pakistan.

Don't Lock Them Up Part 459 - Richard Garside

The Howard League and NACRO obviously aren't getting enough taxpayer cash for their anti-prison campaigns - it's become necessary to have more state funding. Step forward the "Centre for Crime and Justice Studies, an independent charity based at King’s College London", run by one Richard Garside. Pommygranate has done the digging.

1995/6; Campaigns officer, Campaign Against Arms Trade

1996/8; Press officer, Survival International

1998/03; Senior press officer, National Association for the Care and Resettlement of Offenders

2003/06; Director, Crime and Society Foundation, 2003-06;

2006; Director, Centre for Crime and Justice Studies 2006

No evidence of a real job there then.

He's got another steaming crock in the Guardian.

Ross has done the fisking in traditional paragraph by paragraph style.

I'm listening on Radio Four to the sad tale of Adam Rickwood, the 14 year old who killed himself after being banged up for a long list of offences including wounding.

His mother, God bless her, tried to smuggle cigarettes and matches to him the day before his death.

"When these were found, Adam was punished with the temporary removal of his television and hi-fi."

She's obviously spent a great deal of time in the company of social workers. She told us on Radio Four that as well as emotional and behavioural difficulties, Adam had "a conduct disorder".

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

"get out of Assam"

We were hearing only the other week from BBC correspondent Jim Muir about the dangers of "a patchwork country, an ethnic and confessional cocktail".

How right he is

"Ever since the rebel attacks started on Friday, thousands of migrants have flocked to railway stations, desperate to catch the first train out of Assam. "It is true that the trains going out of Assam towards northern India are loaded with these people. Many are not even waiting to buy tickets," an official of the north-eastern frontier railway said.

Tinsukia, with its hosiery and brick factories, has the thickest concentration of Hindi-speaking settlers anywhere in Assam. The villages around this town have borne the brunt of the rebel attacks since Friday, in which more than 70 people, almost all Hindi-speaking settlers, have died so far. Authorities blame the attacks on Ulfa rebels, who began their fight for Assam's independence in 1979. "

You can't help wondering why this hideous racist violence isn't all over the Guardian and the BBC. I guess that as in the Congo, there's just not a good enough case for blaming the evil imperialists.

Not all Assamese are against the Hindis.

"If the Hindi-speaking migrants leave, the shortage of labour will be filled by the illegal migrants from Bangladesh. We cannot allow that to happen," says Sammujal Bhattacharya, chief adviser to the powerful All-Assam Students Union (AASU) that ran a campaign against illegal migrants in the 1980s.

Today's Times

Following in the footsteps of Tim Worstall and the Blessed Oliver, Mr Dillow makes his debut.

(It's not on the Web, but on the opposite page was a letter from Sarah of St Bloggie)

Getting Away With Murder

Let's just go back to the theory again.

Home Office minister Hazel Blears, quoted on the Labour Party website in 2003 (since removed), on anti-social behaviour :

"we are seeing much more cooperation from the courts in making sure decent people who are prepared to stand up and challenge this behaviour are properly protected."

The late Alan Toogood challenged anti-social behaviour.

"A 15-year-old boy, a boy and a girl aged 16, and 18-year-old man were originally arrested on suspicion of murder, but the Crown Prosecution Service decided not to press charges. The man and two boys refused to answer questions at the inquest on Tuesday. "

Now That's What I Call Racist

BBC news

"Malaysia's constitution guarantees freedom of worship but says all ethnic Malays are Muslim. Under Sharia law, Muslims are not allowed to convert."

Perhaps we could give her and her family asylum - or help her to resettle in a more Christian country like the US. She certainly seems to fit the criteria.

Ms Joy has been disowned by her family and forced to quit her job. She went into hiding last year. A Muslim lawyer who supported her case received death threats.

Sharia courts decide on civil cases involving Malaysian Muslims - nearly 60% of the country's 26 million people - while ethnic minorities such as Chinese and Indians are governed by civil courts in the multi-racial country.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Can This Be True ?

Via Civitas, this from the Herald Tribune :

LONDON: Britain is funding a curriculum aimed at teaching Muslim children in madrassas how to steer clear of extremism, but some of the lessons are raising eyebrows among Muslim educators.

One lesson plan goes something like this: A group of Islamic extremists want to buy fertilizer that could be used to make a bomb. Should the shop keeper sell it to them, even if she suspects it will be used for "holy war?" Or take Ahmad, whose jihadi friends want to attack a local supermarket in retaliation for the war in Iraq. Is it right for Ahmad to harm innocent Britons just because their government invaded a Muslim country?

The curriculum's answer in both cases is no, but the fact that these scenarios are being considered at all has prompted concern among Muslim educators, who question whether they are appropriate for young students.

Some also feel insulted that the program appears to make the assumption that madrassas — or Muslim religious schools — are teeming with budding terrorists. "In an educational setting, those propositions are a bit stark," said Tahir Alam, chair of the Muslim Council of Britain's education committee.

The British government acknowledged that the curriculum raised sensitive issues, but said they were needed to give Muslims the practical skills they needed to reject extremism. "The project ensures that young Muslim students learn the true teachings of Islam," said a spokeswoman for the Department of Communities and Local Government, while speaking on condition of anonymity in line with government policy. "There will be difficult issues and scenarios to discuss — but it would be wrong to shy away from them," she said.

Ten Muslim clerics have been teaching the lessons in six madrassas and a school in Bradford — a religiously diverse city about 200 miles (320 kilometers) north of London. About 500 students have already completed the course, versions of which the communities department hopes to roll out nationally.

Hmm. Since when were the Department of Communities and Local Government competent to pronounce on the true teachings of Islam ?

The project, called "Nasiha," or "guidance," draws on the Quran, Shariah law, and traditional Muslim scholarship to show that British laws are in harmony with Islamic values. Its lessons will be taught in madrassas, which in Britain are usually unregulated after-school programs based in mosques or private homes. The stated objective is to teach children, most between the ages of eight and 14, "to realize that to harm or terrorize citizens in the UK is not something permitted in Islam," and "to be able to identify individuals or groups who preach hatred and learn ways of avoiding them."

I hate to suggest this. But what if it should ever happen - and God forbid - that some British laws aren't in harmony with Islamic values ? Presumably all bets are off at that point.

It looks to me as if the British Government are engaging with the theorists of jihad on the jihadists own terms - arguing that the laws must be obeyed not because in a democracy you obey the laws, but because they can be shown to be in line with Islamic teaching. In itself this is a defeat for democracy - a sign that the government seem to be giving up the idea that Britain's Muslims are bound by the obligations which apply to other people. It's a kind of weird parallel with the BNP. They (BNP) think Muslims won't obey the law if it clashes with Islam. The government think they can't even reasonably be expected to.

BBC "PM" reporter charged with rape

I've thought Nigel Wrench was a good reporter since the days when he worked for Travel Trade Gazette and used to pop up on Radio Four's holiday programme.

If he's quoted correctly here he does seem to have a self - and others - destructive streak. Pity.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Back !

Martin Kelly.

Cruddas Capers

Mail On Sunday

"Because his constituency is considered 'outer London' Mr Cruddas is legally entitled to Parliamentary expenses for a second home. Inner London MPs have to make do with a £2,613-a-year London weighting allowance. Last year Mr Cruddas received £21,535 in taxpayer-funded accommodation allowances - close to the maximum permitted. This is on top of his £59,000 salary and generous pension scheme. MPs like Mr Cruddas have traditionally been allowed to claim the so-called Additional Costs Allowance to fund bolt-holes near the Commons so they can avoid late-night journeys home after Commons votes. However, his Notting Hill flat is more than four miles west of Parliament, while his Dagenham home is only 13 miles away in the other direction.

Mr Cruddas has told the Commons fees office that his 'main home' is the one in the constituency. He claims expenses on his 'second home' in Notting Hill.

MPs can use Commons accommodation allowances to pay for mortgage interest, essential repairs, white goods and furniture.

The flat in a handsome pre-war mansion block was bought for £375,000 in July 2004 and is now worth more than £500,000. Previously he lived in a flat close to Lord's cricket ground in North-West London. "

So he's taking the advantage of the 'you need a London pad' allowance although he's only 13 miles out of town. So far so bog-standard. But if his 'main residence' is in Dagenham, how come he sends his sprog here ?

The Cardinal Vaughan, where pupils are required to learn Latin and attend weekly Mass, is four times oversubscribed and selects its children according to the religious commitment of the pupil and his parents - and their proximity to the school. Extra points are awarded to applicants whose parents volunteer for church cleaning duties.

The school is surrounded by some of Britain's most elegant and expensive property and parents tend to be wealthy or middle-class. Only 25 per cent of children are from ethnic minorities - low for a school in Central London. The voluntary-aided school is free of local authority control and has some of the best exam results of any state school in London. It sends around nine students a year to Oxford and Cambridge, more than many fee-paying schools. Its results easily outclass its more famous Roman Catholic rival, the London Oratory in Fulham, where Tony Blair sent his three eldest children.

By contrast, the secondary school nearest to Mr Cruddas's constituency home is Dagenham Park Community School, which is one of London's bottom 20 in terms of exam achievement, according to the latest league tables. The pupils are drawn mainly from local working-class council estates and the school's results at every stage are well below the national average.

I gather Mr Cruddas is a Catholic, although that's the first I've heard of it. You'd never guess from his Guardian columns that he was a Christian. But even as a Catholic, it would be a surprise for someone from Dagenham to get into such an oversubscribed school, though it is possible. Generally a left-footer from Mars wiull have priority over a non-Catholic from next door. I wonder what address he put on the application form ?

PS - take the MOS with a healthy pinch of salt btw. A bit of sexing up here and there.

"The Cardinal Vaughan, where pupils are required to learn Latin and attend weekly Mass"

According to the prospectus only 'the most able boys' will be required to learn Latin. And Mass is compulsory at ALL Catholic schools. It's what makes them Catholic, dontcha know.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

"Civil War"

At Unenlightened Commentary Ross noted the lunacy of literary leftie Jeanette Winterson on Friday's edition of Any Questions, and the audience response.

The audience being from that dark heart of literary luvviedom the Hay Literary Festival, for which see this old post.

The glorious hypocrisy of the book festival is that this sort of stuff is always spouted in the most socially conservative, genteel places - places which our grandparents WOULD recognise. The chattering classes love to read the new Zadie Smith or hear Benjamin Zephaniah discussing his new book, "Gangsta Rap". They're just not so keen on meeting 'three friends excluded from school who find their strengths and identity through hip-hop' on their way to that nice little teashop.

(An aside - turns out Benjamin Zephaniah's not too keen on it either. In a recent Big Issue interview it was revealed that he's now a resident of rural Lincolnshire.)

I digress. In a later discussion Ms Winterson compared the segregation of native and Muslim in her home country of Lancashire to apartheid, and feared the possibility of civil war. In God's good time you'll be able to read a transcript here, but they've not written it up yet. Meantime the audio is here.

Words fail me. I'm pretty pessimistic about the impact of mass immigration on "social cohesion", but I'm not at the stage of fortifying the house yet. Stuff like this puts her way to the right of yours truly, firmly in the Majority Rights camp, the only difference being that she thinks it'll be 'our fault' for arresting one innocent Muslim too many - a variant on the "if you say they're not peaceful they'll turn to violence" theme - and MR think its an inevitable consequence of competing genes (or something like that).

UPDATE - the transcript's now up.

My background is in the north and the place where I grew Accrington near Blackburn and Burnley is now probably 60% Muslim, it's changed completely in my lifetime. And what I see there now is a huge stand off and I see the BNP making enormous inroads in the place that I grew up, an absolute apartheid and segregation in those towns. And you know white people like me up there now will be the first people to say chuck out the Human Rights Act, let's just get rid of them, let's deport them, everything is wrong. We cannot risk that happening, we'll have civil war in our country if we're not careful, we cannot risk it.

Do you want to come back on that James Delingpole.

Yeah clearly I made an unpopular point but I don't believe that the answer is simply bombarding these people with love. The fact is that they are jihadists are committed to destroying our society and I don't think...

So is George Bush.

There was an underlying theme to most of Ms Winterson's comments. Coercion of 'them' by, say, the police was a Bad Thing and would lead to people fighting back. Coercion of 'us' - over, say, recycling, was a Good Thing and would change behaviour. At one stage she pointed out that the Germans recycled a far greater percentage of their waste - therefore we could do it.

This highly rated novelist seems to have missed one small point. We're not bloody Germans ! If we were we might also have a manufacturing industry, for example.

These new recycling regs have all the potential to be one of those things that light up the moral and cultural scenery like a lightning flash. I think it's quite possible we'll see an orgy of dumping, neigbours depositing waste in others bins - and public waste bins will be filled with domestic refuse each night. Shredder sales will soar as people anonymise their waste. And people will burn more rubbish. That'll help carbon emissions.