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SURESH NAUTIYAL, Board Member of the Democracy International from Asia, believes that the direct democracy alone will sustain the Democracies all over the world. Here are the excerpts of his conversation with SUNIL NEGI:
Q: In your life, what triggered your activism for more democracy and citizen-participation? Was there a key moment in your life?
I do not remember whether there was a key moment is my life that brought me into activism. However, the disparity, inequality, social injustice and caste system, racial discrimination, gender bias, violation of human rights and marginalisation of certain sections of society like Dalits (the so-called lowest people on the social ladder), Adivasis (indigenous people) and mountain people, women, etc., were reasons enough to push me into the struggles against all these injustices.
In a nutshell, I would say that there obviously was a boiling point in my life that pushed me into activism for more democracy and citizen-participation. To be specific, mid-seventies was the period that brought me into the mainstream of activism. That was the time when I was completing my secondary education. As I entered the college-life, my consciousness had a higher and expanded level of understanding and within next ten years I was into the thick of the peoples’ struggles. One thing I knew from the very beginning was that the injustices would be done away with only if our struggles stuck to the tenets of democracy and philosophy of non-violence. Also, I believed that citizens’ active participation was very essential to fight against the uneven situations. Later, I made my profession, journalism, the weapon of my activism.
Right now, talking about more democracy in a country like India is a misnomer right now because even after several decades of Independence, most parts and most societies in the country remain on the socio-economic and political margins and they still feel not only neglected and deprived but also humiliated. Neglect and humiliation, deprivation and ignorance, nepotism and injustice, poverty and illiteracy, and inadequacy of potable water, healthcare, housing and good education are the lethal ingredients that obstruct the growth of democracy in India or any other similar part of the world.
This is evident in the fact that most people in the southern world still have to struggle to have two-square-meals-a-day. This kind of struggle for the very survival does not allow them to even think about the basic democratic threads, not to talk about the kind of developed democracy we have in the western world. The feudal system still haunts us in the southern part and remains heavily overshadowed by stale bureaucracy and stinking nepotism. These profane elements hardly leave space for the marginalised to overcome and sustain like independent and free citizens. But, there is always hope and good people, who willingly want to carry the hope to the culminating point!
Q: In your opinion, why do we need to democratise the world?
It is not that democracy is the best form of governance; but for obvious reasons, it is the best available form of governance in any part of the world. Another thing is that it is not about deprivation of several and plenty for a few!
In other words, democracy is about real freedom from all forms of slavery and bondages at social, cultural, geographical, economic, political, ecological and other levels. It is not about mere intellectual orgasm. It is a very serious business and it has the capability to maintain human dignity with a sense of sustainability and capacity to neutralise all authoritarian forms of governance.
I do believe that the humans have the perennially incessant desire to live in a free and independent world and such a system can easily be identified as democratic world. The silver-line is that all humans want to live in democracy. However, over the space of time, several political systems in different parts of the world have existed and sustained — yielding distinct results as different geographical regions and their people reacted to them differently. This also led to different economic and political systems.
However, today, most modern societies prefer democracy with variable degrees because this political system has proved to be the best available system of governance over the centuries be it Gondwana in ancient India or in any other democratic part of the world!
We have no choice but to accept the diversity of the world but why is it that the world still remains largely uneven and unequal at almost all levels? Therefore, there is an urgent need to democratise the whole world. We claim to be very developed, civilised and cultured human beings, but the most societies in the world still are trying to wriggle out of poverty, inequality and injustice. They have little access to the life-saving support systems like water, food and housing – not to talk of the basic facilities like healthcare, good education, bare-minimum form of democracy, and adequate economic and political opportunities!
The point here is that if the world is democratised, a sense of equality, brother/sisterhood, peace, justice and ecological wisdom will prevail without any discrimination on the basis of geography, race/caste, ethnicity, belief and colour of skin, etc. As a result, the societies the world over will move forward with symbiotic efforts, collective wisdom and homogenous goals in mind.
And, one thing is very clear that only green direct democracy will sustain the humanity and the world in future! There will be no place for capitalist or liberalised democracies! I’m saying this because only the green values and principles can ensure balanced, equal, judicious and righteous distribution of resources available at any point of time in future!
Q: The gap between the rich and the poor is increasing. Do you see a connection between the socio-economic crisis and citizens’ participation? What should be done to fight this development?
I do agree that the gap between the rich and the poor is increasing – the fact that the gap has ever since widened and it looks impossible to fill the gap. MK Gandhi rightly said that there was enough for the human needs, but not enough for the greed. The Earth is still capable to produce enough for the human needs, but the greed has overtaken tragically and thus aggravated the situation. Secondly, the unequal and discriminatory distribution of resources has widened the divide between the rich and the poor. An example of the greed is that those who have already exhausted the resources in their neighbourhood are eying on the resources of those neighbourhoods who have not exploited them so far for various reasons. The onus is on those who have exhausted their most resources with the purpose to develop them only and continue to consume and exhaust mindlessly the lion’s share of the depleting resources.
And yes, there is a connection between the socio-economic crisis and citizens’ participation in the political processes. If the citizens’ participation in their political processes is not enthusiastic, the socio-economic gap tends to widen further and this we have seen already in the weak democracies or in the countries where there is no democracy.
And now the last part of this question. Yes, we have to fight against all this in a democratic manner and globally. Today, the world has shrunk dramatically and only the direct democratic actions will bring more and more people into the struggles against economic or political crisis. There is more crisis where citizens’ participation is inadequate. Therefore, we have no option but to increase citizens’ participation against injustices. That is the key to success of true democracy.
Q: What is the next political goal you want to achieve?
It is not about my next political goal, but about the long cherished political dream! That cherished political goal is to found a green party at the national level in my country, India and make this party the vehicle of more democracy and change in the long run and in an organic and ecological manner.
Let me also reiterate here that it is not important to get elected to the state assembly or the national parliament but it is important and relevant to bring in a change in the political system which will create space for democratic struggles and movements. And, this can happen only if we wish to dedicate or rededicate ourselves!
Q: What should Democracy International do to realise more democracy and citizen-participation in the world?
Right now, the Democracy International is concentrating its energies on Europe only. This has to change if we really want to change the whole world and democratise it in the manner we want to. The whole world is like a human body. If any part of it is afflicted, the whole body will ache or suffer. The point is that we cannot change the world by changing Europe only! We need to consider the whole world as a single organic unit that needs complete and absolute healthcare!
Also, there has to be local actions with regard to the global issues. Bringing in or reinforcing democracy is a big global issue taking into view the real political scenarios the world over! The Democracy International has no choice but to democratise those parts of the world where the rays of democracy have yet to enlighten and strengthen democracy where it exists already.
The point is that only Europe is not the whole world. We have to nurture democracy in each and every part of the world. Only this way, the goal of democratising the world will be achieved. Also, we cannot rule the world with one stick! We have to devise and customise the concepts on the basis of local needs and requirements and on the basis of local understanding of democracy. We need to take certain steps to enlighten those societies who live without democracy. For example, we have democracy constitutionally in India but for all practical considerations, there is hardly any democracy.
I believe that there cannot be true democracy if poverty, discrimination, social injustice, caste system and feudalism continue to prevail. It also cannot flourish where the society is divided into regions, religions and castes and classes. Actually, we need democracy at several levels — political, social, cultural, linguistic, religious, ecological, et al!
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NATION SALUTES TO VEER CHANDRA SINGH GARHWALI ON THE 88TH ANNIVERSARY OF HISTORIC PESHAWAR EPISODE

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Today is the 88th anniversary of a great revolutionery freedom fighter, a secularist and a valiant fighter cum social reformer to the core who about eighty eight years ago in 1930 gave the Indian freedom movement a historic turn by outrightly refusing the orders of the then British officer, general Rickett to shoot the freedom fighter Pathans led by the frontier Gandhi Khan Abdul Gaffar Khan at Kinari Bazaaar, Peshavar then in Afghanistan.

Brave, fearless and valiant fighter ready to sacrifice his life for the country, Chandra Singh Garhwali was then commanding a unit of Garhwali soldiers in Peshawar. The freedom movement was then building up and the pathans of Peshawar who were fully inspired by Gandhiji under the leadership of the towering Pathan leader Khan Abdul Gaffar Khan were opposing the Britishers for their dictatorial actions and communal policybof Hindu Muslim divide thus demanding Azaadi.

General Rickett orderd the entire battalion led by Chandra Singh Garhwali saying FIRE GARHWALI. But revolutionery Chandra Singh in retaliation, shouted defying the British General’s order CEASEFIRE GARHWALIES. Every soldier put their rifles down and the lives of several Pathans could be saved.

Veer Chandra Singh Garhwali was influenced by the Jalliawalan Bagh massacre and wanted to avert another bloodshed. He preferred his court marshel and life imprisonment in the solitary confinement at Kala Pani, Andamaan Nicobaar cellular Jail thus being behind bars for 14 protracted years for the motherland and saving the lives of hundreds of Pathans.

In the entire history of India one can’t find, visualise and experience such an outstanding example of secularism of the Hindus saving the lives of their muslim Pathan brothers despite confronting Life long solitary confinement. Garhwali had thus after the 1857 revolt of Indian sepoys under Mangal Pandey’s leadership against the then neo colonial British rule opened another inspiring chapter of anti British revolutioneries in India which finally helped in attaining full Indepence from the foreign colonial Yoke.

Garhwali never compromised on principles and ethics in public life and even after Independence rejected Nehru’s proposal to become a union minister. He preferred a hard life of a socio political activist believing in secularist values and fighting corruption through out his life. He was ideologically left oriented and preferrred contesting election from Choundkot constituency in Garhwal single handedly with no election resources but only a self made BHOMPU in his hand.

He visited village to village on foot mobilising people for their constititional rights to badly lose elections but never compromised for Congress ticket which he would have easily got and won. He never approached authorities in power for any personal or family benefit. Such a towering personality of the country sadly met his end in Delhi’s Ram Manohar Hospital in 1979 after a prolonged illness. I remember that the then political stalwart n union minister HN Bahuguna alongwith others marched woth Garhwaliji’s corpse to the Communist Party of India’s office where late Indira Gandhi had also come today her last respectful tributes to this towering revolutionery freedom fighter. Salutes to this historical petsonality of Indian Freedom Movement.
SUNIL NEGI

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WILD LEOPARD AND BEAR ATTACKS HAVE CREATED HAVOC IN UTTARAKHAND. WILL THE GOVT DO SOMETHING CREDIBLE?

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The Himalayan state of Uttarakhand is under the incessant invasion of dangerous wild life and the government of the day and its forest department is conspicous by their absense in not doing anything concrete to counter the wild life’s terrorising menace. The situation has assumed so risky proportions that human life is today completely at mercy of the wild cats and the bears. Number of incidents of gruesome killings at the behest of the maneater leopards, tigers and wild bears have come to notice for the last two years with the number of casualties increasing day by day but of no avail on the part of the state government to set right the situation. A most tragic incident of wild bear attack was reported in a village in Yamkeshwar block where a local inhabitant of Umdaa village, 59 year old CHANDRA PRAKASH was badly injured as he litrally fought with the bear and suffered deadly injuries. The grievously injured is in the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Rishikesh fighting for survival. The injured had gone to the nearby jungle to collect fodder for cows and buffaloes when he was attacked by the wild bear. It is usually said that the bear who remain in the high mountain altitudes come down during the winter season due to the excessive snow covers that creates green food shortages. In addition to this the increasing activities of construction and the so called development has disturbed the wild life particularly the leopards and bears who come near the human settlements i.e. the forests adjoining the villages. When the men and women enter jungles for green grass or animal fodder these wild animals become fearful and attack them in self defence as well as lack of food stuff. While in 2017 about 140 leopards were declared as man eaters there had also been 17 bear attacks in the Chamoli district’s Bhatwari village range grievously injuring several women and children who’d gone in the local jungle for pet animal fodder. In Almora, Rudraprayag and Pauri districts too these incidents of wild life attacks resulting in several casualties have created an alarming situation with the Uttarakhand Forest Department having no clue, whatsoever, to safeguard the precious lives of the states’ inhabitants. Uttarakhand is already suffering from mass scale migration with thousands of villages having become ghost villages. The monkeys, wild pigs had already destroyed the agricultural produce of the villagers and the increasing man eater leopard and bear attacks have also made the life of the villagers tremendously dangerous and unpredictable. In the last week two shocking incidents of leopard attacks were reported from Uttarakhand’s Almora district in which two precious lives of a 6th class student and a twenty five year old were claimed by the maneater tigers. While the dearth of animal preys is cited as one of the prime reason for wild cats coming nearer, towards human settlements to fulfil their hunger , another reason may be due the villages becoming vacant these wild animals find themselves convenient to come closer towards them ( the villages with little population) and kill human beings when confronted with.
SUNIL NEGI

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Man eater leopard attacks going unabated in Uttarakhand

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The dreaded leopard attacks taking lives the inhabitants in Uttarakhand has become an order of the day with terrifying incidents of tiger attacks increasing day by day with no hope of relief from the government’s side. Uttarakhand is primarily a hilly region with more than 70% part having covered with dense forests.

After the enhanced migration from the interior rural areas, the villages and increasing constructive activities, the wild animals, particularly the leopards, hordes of wild monkeys, beers and even wild pigs have created havoc in the villages destroying cultivated fields and even attacking the local inhabitants. Just yesterday in a horrifying incident of a leopard attack, a young boy was brutally killed with half of his body part eaten by the dreaded leopard in the Manila area of Kumaon, Uttarakhand.

The young boy, son of one Mr. Lal Singh hailing from the village Supi Kaafli Tok Laami Dhar in Uttarakhand who was studying in sixth standard was killed by the leopard yesterday night as per the facebook post of Narayan Singh Bisht, district media Incharge.

The information was immediately given to the forest division who later on retrieved the highly mutilated dead body of the deceased. This is not the single isolated incident of horrifying leopard attack but in Garhwal and Kumaon Uttarakhand, the leopard menace has till now taken hundreds of precious lives of people with no reprieve or relief from the forest department and the government of Uttarakhand. There is yet another news of a young boy of 25 year old having been brutally killed in yet another wild cat attack at Bhainciyakhana block’s Dungri Panchayat in Almora district namely Deepak Kumar.

The people of this himalayan state has become vulnerable prey to the wild cats’attacks and have been prohibited to come out of their houses after 7 PM as the man eater leopards are usually on the lookout for their human prey. It is usually said that after the increasing exodus of the village populatiin to cities and towns there is tremendous dearth of animal preys for these leopards and hence they enter houses in villages hungry and even in the locan towns in search of flesh and make humans their easy prey.

More over, the majority of the hill jungle areas having become barren due to the excessive pine trees has also resulted in shortage of green food animals inside the forests finally compelling the tigers, leopards and cheetas migrate to towns or villages in search of food thus making human beings their easy prey.

Hundreds of people have so far been succumbed to the leopard attacks in this Himalayan state of Uttarakhand but it seems that the government is more concerned to preserve the wild life than to safeguard the human beings. The forest department is literally sleeping and so are the other responsible agencies of the government.

It is high time that the forest department of Uttarakhand should devise concrete methedology or formula to get rid of these man eater leopards failing which the already vacant Uttarakhand villages will literally turn into ghost villages in the near future. The government will have to prioritise whether maneater leopards are important for them or the human beings.

In 2016 the government of Uttarakhand had declared 140 leopards as man eater who’d created havoc in the hill state with their killing spree. After two years their terror is still live with the human killings going unabated.

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