Volume 2: Number 1                 November 1, 1998

In this Issue...
Omvedt and Liberalization Natarajan, Faolain and Philip
The Biggest Corporate Takeover Basav Sen
Vanaik Book Review Vijay Prashad
Taxi Strike Biju Mathew
Foil Notes


The fifty-first year of independence has witnessed many setbacks for the Indian left and the Indian nation. The ideologically fragmented United Front could not prevent the Hindutva-vadis from assuming power in New Delhi. Any transient hopes that the electoral compromises made by the BJP while cobbling together a parliamentary majority would constrain its pursuit of a fascist agenda were blown sky-high at Pokhran. Building upon the populist nationalist hysteria generated by the nuclear project, the BJP is gearing up to pay its debt to the rest of the Sangh Parivar by mobilizing a drive to build the Ram Mandir at Ayodhya. One indicator of the scope of this effort is the takeover of the Indian Council for Historical Research (ICHR) by BJP-appointed pro-Sangh historians, who have set forth an agenda to revise history to reflect the ideology of cultural nationalism espoused by the BJP.

On the economic front, the Economic Survey 1997-98 confirmed the left economists' prognosis: India's post-reform "gains" have begun to unravel. Growth has slowed in both the industrial and agricultural sector, leading the economy toward a low-growth trap. It is only a matter of time before the IMF offers its next set of "capital infusion" programs to the economy, replete of course with all the old conditions of structural adjustment and reduced corporate taxation, which "nuclear" India will eagerly accept, its sovereignty (and masculinity) having been demonstrated in other theaters.

Ironically, while events back home offer little cause for cheer, this has been a far more active year for FOIL organizing in US than in the past. FOIL members played significant roles in the struggle of New York City taxi workers to mobilize against the racist and anti-immigrant city administration. Their finest hour came when over 95% of the city's taxi drivers struck work on the 13th of May 1998. Yet this struggle is just beginning, and FOILers will need to continue to find ways to enact their solidarity.

Efforts to organize around the nuclear issue were less successful, in large measure because of the ideological fragmentation of anti-nuclear forces and the difficulty of finding common ground for a wide range of often incommensurable perspectives. However, FOILers did align themselves with protest actions across the country. On the intellectual production front, the stream of FOIL pamphlets seems to have dried up (ideas anyone?), but it is great to see more and more FOILers' names in letters and articles in the Indian press in the US.

In terms of outreach to youth, the second Youth Solidarity Summer (YSS) was held in New York in August, and Boston FOILers have already participated with other local progressive groups to offer the South Asian Solidarity Summer for Youth (SASSY 98). FOILers from other regions who wish to plan further events should note that there is a fund of expertise which can be transferred to your regions in a hurry.

As FOIL's base has broadened numerically, geographically and ideologically, there have been a number of spontaneous debates that have broken out in the e-mail list around the issue of its organizational characteristics and priorities. These debates have raised important issues, and it is imperative that we continue to carry on the discussion around FOIL's status as an organization, and issues of structure and process. It is equally important to anticipate the organizational issues that will arise as our ranks continue to swell. We ignore issues of structure at our own peril.

We would like to use this forum to appeal for the collectives assistance on two fronts. The first of them is [proXsa], our website ( The website solicits your contributions on any issues relating to FOIL's agenda and priorities. This is our source of exposure to a very broad readership, and we should make it as comprehensive a resource as possible.

The second is Ghadar itself. Ghadar is FOIL's magazine, and we encourage you to actively lobby to make it reflect your stake in FOIL. We encourage letters to the editor, informal feedback on previous issues, critique, offers of assistance, and applications to join the editorial board. Feel free to be critical, and feel free to join us in our work.

[Offers of assistance with editing Ghadar and any submissions may be sent to Mir Ali Raza, at]

This issue was put together by Priya Gopal, Biju Mathew, Mir Ali Raza, Amitava Kumar, Rahul De', Niraj Pant, Gautam Premnath, Bikku Kuruvilla and Sharmila Rudrappa. Address all correspondence to: Ghadar, c/o Mir Ali Raza, PO Box 563, Amherst, MA 01004. Or by email to

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