John H. Stevens, Jr. (jhs14@CORNELL.EDU)
Mon, 19 Feb 1996 18:50:38 -0500

Hi everyone. This just came across my screen and sounds rather important;
pardon the length!! For more info, please e-mail Sanjay Anand at
>---------- Forwarded message ----------
> For too long tribal people in India and the rest of the world
>have been subject to the whims of the powerful and elite of their
>nations. They have been exploited most grievously for the gains of
>governments and their elites. When they have protested, they have been
>murderously repressed. For all of us who have campaigned for the
>rights indigenous peoples in Guatemala, Mexico, Canada, the U.S. and
>many many other countries, this is our moment to extend our solidarity
>towards tribal peoples of India.
> On one hand, in Chiapas, the indigenous peoples are at the stage
>of negotiating autonomy from State and elite control, whereas in India
>the struggle is at the stage of getting the State governments to agree
>to the recommendations of a Committee that was set up by the
>Parliament itself. The report of this Committee accords the rights of
>autonomy and self-governance to tribal regions, but the various State
>governments are, through various legal means, resisting its
>implementation. The Central government is of course playing the
>sleeping dog in all this.
> At the present time, tribal leaders from these regions are
>demonstrating in New Delhi, and many are on an indefinite hunger
>strike. We urgently need you to send out letters in support of their
>protest to the following offices in India and the U.S. A form letter
>of support is attached below. Also attached are details of the
>situation provided by the Co-convener of the Bharat Jan Andolan
>(Indian Peoples' Movement) which is the umbrella organization under
>which tribal and other radical groups have united.
> To extend your support to the hunger strikers in Delhi and
>elsewhere in India SEND YOUR FAXES/LETTERS ASAP!!! to the Prime
>Minister of India. If you can afford to fax directly to Delhi please
>do so. Else send a fax addressed to the Prime Minister at the Indian
>Embassy in D.C. Also, please send an email to this account confirming
>your fax so that we can pass the information onto the Bharat Jan
>Andolan office in Delhi.
>1. P.V. NARASIMHA RAO, Prime Minister of India --- Fax: (011) 91 11
>3013817 or 3019817
>2. P.V. NARASIMHA RAO, PM of India , c/o The Indian Embassy, D.C. ---
>Fax: 202-939-7027; 202-265-4351; Fax directly to the Ambassador:
>Attached below is the call for support from the Bharat Jan Andolan and
>a letter we drafted to the Prime Minister that you could use. Please
>modify it any way you want or write your own letter. The important
>thing is send a FAX.
> 15th. January 1996
> Sub: Appeal for Support and Solidarity to Fasting Adivasis and
> their Supporters
>Dear Friend,
> Tribals (adivasi) representatives from all over the country have
>assembled in Delhi to begin an indefinite dharna from 15th February
>1996 to demand extension of the 73rd and 74th Amendments concerning
>Panchayati Raj to the Scheduled Areas in line with the recommendations
>of the Bhuriya Committee. And not without reason.
> In 1947, the tribal people of Independent India felt intensely
>betrayed. What they had fought and laid down their lives for nearly 18
>decades was systematically subverted. The transfer of power from the
>Colonial Regime did not result in the resolution of the structural
>conflict between the community and the state apparatus resulting from
>the imposition of a formal administrative structure on a self
>governing people by the British administration. The Rulers had
>changed, their minions were the same. Azadi was won, Swaraj was
> The Constitution tried to resolve this structural conflict
>through the arrangements provided in the Vth and VIth Schedules. These
>principles were accepted by the political executive and articulated by
>the first Prime Minister in his Policy of Panchsheel. But while the
>Governors refused to throw off the shackles of a colonial
>administrative structure, the President remained a silent spectator.
>History repeated itself, the tribals were twice betrayed in less than
>a decade. The situation remained unresolved, the contradictions
>sharpened, while legitimate aspirations were suppressed.
> In the wake of the avowed policy of the state to devolve
>authority to the people under the 73rd. and 74th. Amendments, Article
>243(M) of the Constitution was introduced as a saving clause. In
>restraining the automatic extension of the 73rd and 74th Amendments to
>the Scheduled Areas without suitable modifications, a fresh attempt
>was being made to resolve the age old conflict. The Article enjoined
>on Parliament the duty to promulgate the legislation. The logic
>behind this article, we were given to understand, was that tribal
>societies, were, by and large, the last vestiges of community self
>governance and would be the first to re-activate the process of
>popular self-rule.
> The High Level Committee of tribal MPs under the Chairmanship of
>Dileepsingh Bhuriya MP, constituted to recommend suitable
>modifications for the new legislation, took up the responsibility to
>resolve the conflict between the community and the state apparatus and
>give it a concrete form in the context of the tribal area. The
>Committee submitted its report on 17 January 1995, an important
>benchmark in the history of democratic India as it brought within the
>scope of village governance, the stress on participatory democracy,
>community command over resources, management of conflict,
>administration of law and order, planning and implementation of
>development, accountability of the bureaucracy et alia. In short it
>provided the people the chance to govern their own lives and the space
>for the common man to intervene in the processes that shape his
>destiny. In the short history of the nation, this was the first time
>that an opportunity had arisen and we were excited to be at a historic
>moment when our intervention could make or unmake history. Hopes were
>raised only to be betrayed again.
> The High Courts of Hyderabad and Patna have declared the
>extension of the state Panchayati Acts to the Scheduled Areas
>unconstitutional, while the Bombay High Court has stayed its
>application. But both Parliament and the Government have remained
>strangely silent and somnolent on this vital issue. So much for the
>claim of the 'revolutionary character' of the 73rd. Amendment. The
>ensuing legal vacuum has denied the tribals the right to village self
>governance as envisaged in the Constitutional Amendment. It appeared
>that the tribals would be betrayed for the third time. It was time the
>tribal people undertook the challenge themselves.
> All over the country, tribals are agitating for the right to self
>rule and implementation of the Bhuriya Committee Report. The Civil
>Disobedience Movement is continuing since October 2nd 1995. But
>Parliament seems to be oblivious to their anxiety over the legal
>vacuum existing in the scheduled areas. On the other hand, while
>political parties are beginning preparations for the Lok Sabha
>elections, the issue of tribal self rule does not appear on their
> Tired of the Government's and Parliament's refusal to legislate
>in accordance with the recommendations of the Bhuriya Committee Report
>and to resolve the conflict and restore the patent rights to
>democratic self governance to the tribal people, the tribal leaders of
>the National Front for Tribal Self Rule have decided today on incisive
>action to bring the issue on the national agenda and force the
>politicians to sit up and take notice. Consensus was reached on 1.
>indefinite dharna to commence from 15th. February 1996 at Samta Sthal
>(near Raj Ghat, Delhi) 2. indefinite fast to follow immediately after
>two days. 3. indefinite solidarity fast by Dr.B.D. Sharma, Chairman
>of Bharat Jan Andolan, Adv. Pradip Prabhu, National Convener of Front
>and Dr. Vinayan, Gen. Secretary Bharat Jan Andolan and others 4. relay
>fasts and demonstrations in support of the fasting tribals in state
> We extend this appeal to you for support and solidarity to the
>fast of the tribal leaders. We would appreciate if you would: 1.
>Request your friends and contacts to send letters/telegrams/faxes to
>the PM and President "Demanding Promulgation of Legislation based on
>Bhuriya Committee Report" 2. Request your friends and contacts to join
>the fasting tribals in a solidarity chain fast.
> Please let us know your response at the office of the Front in Delhi:
> A-37, Nangli Rajapur, Nizamuddin East, New Delhi 110013, Tel: 4643997.
>Thanking you. Yours in the struggle,
>Pradip Prabhu
>National Convener
>17th February 1996
>Dear Mr. Prime Minister,
> We write in condemnation of your government's passive and active
>blockage of the right to autonomy of the tribal peoples of India. Your
>and other State governments have not only tried to ignore the
>recommendations of the Bhuriya Commission which has developed concrete
>legislation for extending the provisions of the 73rd Amendment Act
>1992 to the Scheduled Tribe Areas, but they have also, through the
>judiciary, deemed the 73rd Amendment unconstitutional.
> The tribal peoples of India, as elsewhere in the world, have
>always been sacrificed for the cause of the nation, and it is time
>that the nation accord them their constitutional guarantees in the
>interests of justice and democracy. The demands of the Bharat Jan
>Andolan are by no means unique in the present era, where similar
>struggles for autonomy and self-governance are being carried out in
>different parts of the world. Nor are these demands extraordinary
>given the long history of exploitation and oppression of tribal
>peoples by the government, bureaucracy and elites of the country.
>Everywhere, tribal and indigenous peoples are saying "Enough", that
>they will not tolerate anymore the social and economic injustices done
>to them.
> We are in solidarity with their struggle, and urge you to
>implement the Bhuriya Commission Report in its fullness immediately.
>Once again the fax numbers for Prime Minister Rao are:
>1. P.V. NARASIMHA RAO, Prime Minister of India --- Fax: (011) 91 11
>3013817 or 3019817
>2. P.V. NARASIMHA RAO, PM of India , c/o The Indian Embassy, D.C. ---
>Fax: 202-939-7027; 202-265-4351; Fax directly to the Ambassador:
>For more information and updates contact Sanjay Anand at
> (607 - 253-5420) or Sangeeta Kamat at

Best regards,

John H. Stevens, Jr.
Department of Anthropology
Cornell University

Student Area Coordinator, Amnesty International (Central NY)
Co-Chair, Urgent Action Coordinator, and Death Penalty Abolition Coordinator,
Cornell Student Chapter

snail: c/o Dept. Of Anthropology, 265 McGraw Hall, Ithaca, NY 14853
phone and fax: 607.256.1829 (call first!)
alternate fax: 607.255.3747

"The Earth you cannot remake
Put your stormy soul to rest
Only one thing you can do:
good to another man

But even this is so great
The stars themselves smile
One hungry man less
means one brother more"

Stig Dagerman (with apologies for the universalized "man").