BBC News – Bihar and Uttar Pradesh: More than 100 dead in fresh India flood chaos

Uttar Pradesh – Bihar – India, 30 September 2019. More than 100 people have died due to flooding caused by heavy rains in the Indian states of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, officials have said.

Dramatic images of the impact of flood water on urban life have been coming out of the affected areas.

Railway traffic, vehicular movement, healthcare services, schools and power supply have been disrupted in both states, officials said.

An Uttar Pradesh government report said 93 people have died since Thursday.

In eastern Uttar Pradesh, flooding caused officials to relocate more than 500 prisoners from the Ballia district jail to other prisons after water entered three buildings.

The Additional District Magistrate told reporters that officials were awaiting permission to move all of the prison’s 850 inmates to Azamgarh jail, which is about 120 km (74 miles) away.

The death toll in Bihar is 29, according to the state disaster management authority. The impact on its main city, Patna, has been grabbing headlines.

Satellite images from 20 September and 29 September show the extent of the flooding as the Ganges river overflowed due to the torrential rains in the region.

A video of a man struggling to pull his cycle-rickshaw out of flood water has been circulated widely on social media.

In it, the man filming the video can be heard consoling the visibly upset rickshaw puller, he suggests that the man leave the vehicle where it is and return for it after the flood waters recede. He and a woman, who can be heard in the background, offer to keep an eye on it for the rickshaw puller from their spot on the balcony.

The state’s Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Modi was on Monday rescued from his residence, the ANI news agency reported.

Mr Modi and his family were evacuated from their flooded home by disaster relief personnel.

The city has been deluged with rain since Friday, submerging many residential areas. People are navigating the main roads, which are dotted with abandoned and partially submerged vehicles, by boat.

The PTI news agency quoted an official as saying that the amount of rain the city received was “completely unexpected”.

In many parts, the rain water has mixed with overflowing sewage, and the dirty water has entered several homes, according to reports.

Similar scenes have been reported from neighbouring Uttar Pradesh as well.

“The condition of the water is very bad – the condition of Varanasi is very bad. Drainage arrangements have gone very bad,” one local in the northern city of Varanasi told Reuters news.

The state government has asked the Indian Air Force for helicopters and machines to pump out water.

The Tribune – 83 per cent sitting Haryana MLAs are crorepatis: ADR report

New Delhi – India, 30 September 2019. Over 80 per cent of sitting MLAs (Members of Legislative Assembly) in Haryana are crorepatis, according to an analysis by the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR).

The ADR report also said that 75 out of the 90 sitting MLAs in Haryana possess assets worth more than one crore rupees.

According to the ADR report, the average of assets per sitting MLA in Haryana was Rs 12.97 crore.

Party-wise, the average assets per MLA for 48 Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) MLAs analysed was Rs 10.34 crore, while for 18 MLAs of the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD), the average assets stood at Rs 13.63 crore.

The average assets of 15 Congress MLAs were Rs 12.43 crore. For the two Haryana Janhit Congress (BL) MLAs the average assets were valued at Rs 80.12 crore, while the five Independent MLAs have average assets of Rs 13.93 crore.

Ten MLAs in Haryana have criminal cases pending against them. The ADR analysis is based on the affidavits filed by these MLAs in the 2014 elections.

ADR also pointed out that out of the 90 MLAs, six have declared serious criminal cases against them.

Five (10 per cent) out of the 48 MLAs from BJP, Two (11 per cent) out of 18 MLAs from INLD and 1 MLA each from INC, Haryana Janhit Congress (BL) and the Independent member have declared criminal cases against themselves in their affidavits.

While, two (4 per cent) out of 48 MLAs from the BJP and 1 MLA each from INC, INLD, Haryana Janhit Congress (BL) and the Independent member have declared serious criminal cases against themselves.

Lokeren – Gent Vijfwindgatenstraat – Gent-Sint-Pieters

Adventure travel organised by the NMBS
Berchem – Lokeren – Dendermonde – Gent-Sint-Pieters
07 September 2019

We went from Antwerpen-Berchem to Lokeren via Mechelen
In Lokeren we were told that there were no trains to Gent.
We took a train to Dendermonde and
changed there to a train to Gent- Sint-Pieters !

Gent Vijfwindgatenstraat
09 September 2019

Tram 2 to Melle Leeuw at Vijfwindgatenstraat

10 September 2019

On my way to the Brussel offices of VOEM

Track 10A – Brussel Centraal – Brussel Luchthaven

IC Train to Welkenraedt

16:54 IC to Brussel – Leuven – Luik and Welkenraedt

More Belgian pictures to be published
Harjinder Singh
Man in Blue – When Hindu nationalism and white nationalism meet

Narendra Modi and Donald Trump’s love fest over the weekend was sickening. It was also a reminder that our fight against the far right must be international.

Thomas Crowley

United States – India, Houston – Texas, 25 September 2019. In 1947, the puppet show Howdy Doody popularized the phrase “peanut gallery” for the TV age. Originally a vaudeville term, the “peanut gallery” referred to the cheap seats, from which dissatisfied audience members could throw peanuts at bad performers.

Howdy Doody softened the term, using it to describe the live studio audience of children who generally cheered and followed the instructions of the show’s host. The peanut gallery would sing the Howdy Doody theme song, as well as commercial jingles for the show’s sponsors, including Colgate and Wonder Bread.

In 2019, just a few days ago in fact, Indian prime minister Narendra Modi played a starring role in “Howdy, Modi,” a rally that attracted tens of thousands to the Houston Texans’ football stadium.

Perhaps the organizers, a group called the Texas India Forum, were not consciously referring to the puppet when they came up with their name, but the crowd they assembled was a peanut gallery in the mildest, most welcoming Howdy Doody sense, cheering for Modi, bursting into applause, and repeating his name over and over.

Modi, with his muscular projection of Indian nationalism, is popular with large segments of the Indian diaspora. That diaspora has been one of the major funders of Modi’s right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the interconnected set of Hindu nationalist organizations that have supported the BJP’s rise, particularly the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).

In the Indian elections earlier this year, which put the BJP back in power with an increased majority, the Indian diaspora played a major role in fundraising and promoting Modi. The Houston rally was a continuation of the mutual love fest between the prime minister and his diasporic fans.

The crowd also cheered for the other guest of honor, Donald Trump, who for once accepted a supporting role on the stage. Despite significant trade tensions between India and the United States, the two leaders are united in their authoritarian postures, their exclusionary nationalisms, and their villainization of Islam.

Modi generally presents his nationalism in a more suave way, some Modi supporters bristle at comparisons with the boorish Trump and his bald racism, but last weekend’s event made clear the symbiosis of their visions. Trump’s biggest applause line came when he called India an ally in the fight against “radical Islamic terror.” The two left the stage hand in hand, literally and metaphorically.

If you find something ominous about huge crowds feverishly cheering their nationalist leader, you’re not the only one. The real peanut gallery, in the vaudevillian sense of the term, was outside the stadium protesting Modi’s appearance, holding signs and chanting slogans like: “Houston, we have a problem. It’s Modi” and “RSS is KKK. RSS, Go away!”

Organized by the Alliance for Justice and Accountability, a coalition of Indian-American activists, the protests also received support from groups like Jewish Voice for Peace and Black Lives Matter. Protesters were especially critical of the way Trump and Modi trumpeted their commitment to democracy even as Modi’s government brutally cracks down on Kashmir, curtailing the region’s already-limited autonomy.

The Houston event, just like the old Howdy Doody show, was made possible by its corporate sponsors: in this case, not Wonder Bread and Colgate, but Walmart, which continues its long, tortuous attempt to enter the India market; OYO Homes & Hotels, an international hospitality company founded in India with significant financial support from venture capitalist/Trump supporter Peter Thiel; and Tellurian, a natural gas company that recently struck a deal with an Indian public sector energy company, under Modi’s watchful eye.

The first thing Modi did in Houston, the day before attending the rally, was meet with energy executives from Tellurian, ExxonMobile, and fifteen other global energy companies.

The intertwining of business meetings and nationalist rallies should come as no surprise. Like many right-wing parties, the BJP has fused a religiously oriented mass base with a capitalist class of funders. Modi’s home state, Gujarat, where he served as chief minister from 2001 to 2014, was a model of this fusion.

This required adjustment on both sides: Hindutva groups like the RSS backed down on their preference for tariffs over free trade, while some economic elites swallowed their distaste for the more vulgar and violent aspects of Hindutva. Lately, though, the marriage has been a bit rocky.

Industry leaders have started to complain as India faces major economic troubles. (Astute observers on the Left saw this coming, the BJP was making economic promises it couldn’t keep, confusing blind faith in economic “reform” with the structural conditions of the Indian economy.)

So if there are strains in the capitalist-Hindutva alliance, who will emerge with the upper hand? Or, to push the “Howdy Doody” analogy: if the Houston rally was named after a puppet show, who is pulling the strings of power in India today? The answer depends in part on how one interprets the crackdown in Kashmir.

Business leaders, including prominent ones from Modi’s home state, have applauded the move, noting that Kashmir would now be “open for development.” Some on the Indian left saw this as a sure sign of conspiracy, Modi again acting at the behest of his corporate masters.

But this may misjudge the dynamics of the current ruling bloc. Modi’s RSS roots are much deeper than his neoliberal ones, and Kashmir has long been on the RSS agenda. Its semi-autonomy, beleaguered as it was, still poked a hole in the RSS ideal of India as a unified Hindu nation.

And economic compulsion cannot explain the cruelty of the crackdown: the communication blackout, which has led to a public health emergency; the arbitrary arrests of civic leaders; the blinding of protesters with pellet guns.

The everyday workings of capitalism are grotesque enough, just witness Modi blithely meeting oil executives during a week of global climate strikes, a few weeks after appearing on Man vs Wild with Bear Grylls to promote India’s commitment to the environment.

But the government’s actions in Kashmir and their wild popularity with some sections of the global Indian diaspora, suggest something even darker. It is not just capitalism that spills beyond traditional borders and seeks to create the world in its own image; authoritarianism does so too.

Despite its nationalism, the Indian right has been eager to accept money, support, and adulation from those outside its borders, whether from Hindu Americans or from Trump. As the forces of reaction internationalize, so too must our resistance.

About the Author: Thomas Crowley is a graduate student in geography at Rutgers University and author of the forthcoming book The Ridge: Delhi from the Ground Up.

Dawn – Pakistan to invite Manmohan Singh to Kartarpur corridor inauguration

Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Monday announced that Pakistan has decided to extend an invitation to former Indian prime minister Manmohan Singh for the inauguration of the Kartarpur corridor, which is scheduled to be opened in November.

Naveed Siddiqui

Islamabad Capital Territory – Pakistan, 30 September 2019. “Kartarpur corridor is an important project, the prime minister has a personal interest in it,” said Qureshi in a video message.

“After consultations, Pakistan has decided to invite Manmohan Singh to the inauguration, who we hold in high regard. He will represent the Sikh community.”

“On behalf of the government, as the foreign minister of Pakistan, I invite him to attend the inauguration of the Kartarpur corridor,” said Qureshi, adding that the government also intends to send Singh a formal written invitation.

The foreign minister also invited Sikh yatris in his message, saying: “We also await the Sikh yatris to come and take part in the 550th birth anniversary of Baba Guru Nanak.”

Earlier this month, Pakistani project director Atif Majeed had said the visa-free border crossing from India to Kartarpur, Pakistan, would be inaugurated on 09 November, just ahead of the 550th birth anniversary of Sikhism founder Baba Guru Nanak on 12 November.

It was also announced that Pakistan has agreed to allow 5,000 Sikh pilgrims from India to visit on a daily basis the Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Narowal through the Kartarpur corridor.

Pakistan has kept the corridor project insulated from the recent tensions with India over annulment of Article 370, subsequent repressive actions in occupied Kashmir and intensified ceasefire violations on the Line of Control. The project had also remained unaffected by the previous episode of escalation between the two sides following the Pulwama attack in February.