Thursday, February 28, 2013

The Post-Budget Press Conference

Shri P. Chidambaram addressing
The Union Finance Minister, Shri P. Chidambaram addressing the Post-Budget Press Conference, in New Delhi on February 28, 2013. (PIB)


A gift on women day

27-February-2013 18:49 IST
Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace 
(Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Bill, 2013 Sexual Harassment of Women
Courtesy Photo
The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Bill, 2012 was passed by the Rajya Sabha on 26th February 2013. Lok Sabha has passed it in September 2012.Sexual Harassment at workplace is a violation of women’s right to gender equality, life and liberty. It creates an insecure and hostile work environment, which discourages women’s participation in work, thereby adversely affecting their economic empowerment and the goal of inclusive growth. However, there is no domestic law to address this issue except a few provisions of the Indian Penal Code and the Supreme Court Guidelines in the case of Vishaka vs. State of Rajasthan. The increasing work participation rate of women has made it imperative that a comprehensive legislation focusing on prevention of sexual harassment as well as providing a redressal mechanism be enacted.
The salient features of the Act are as follows:
(i)        It defines “sexual harassment at the workplace” in a comprehensive manner, in keeping with the definition laid down in the Vishaka judgment, and broadening it further to cover circumstances of implied or explicit promise or threat to a woman’s employment prospects or creation of hostile work environment or humiliating treatment, which can affect her health or safety.
(ii)       The definition of “aggrieved woman”, who will get protection under the Act is extremely wide to cover all women, irrespective of her age or employment status, whether in the organised or unorganised sectors, public or private and covers clients, customers and domestic workers as well.
(iii) While the “workplace” in the Vishaka guidelines is confined to the traditional office set-up where there is a clear employer-employee relationship, the Act goes much further to include organisations, department, office, branch unit etc in the public and private sector, organized and unorganized, hospitals, nursing homes, educational institutions, sports institutes, stadiums, sports complex and any place visited by the employee during the course of employment including the transportation.
(iv)      Definition of employee covers regular/temporary/ad hoc/daily wage employees, whether for remuneration or not and can also include volunteers. The definition of employer includes the head of the Government department/organisation/institution/office/branch/unit, the person responsible for management/supervisions/control of the workplace, the person discharging contractual obligations with respect to his/her employees and in relation to a domestic worker the person who benefits from that employment.
(v) The redressal mechanism provided in the Act is in the form of Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) and Local Complaints Committee (LCC). All workplaces employing 10 or more than 10 workers are mandated under the Act to constitute an ICC. The ICC will be a 4 member committee under the Chairpersonship of a senior woman employee and will include 2 members from amongst the employees preferably committed to the cause of women or has experience in social work/legal knowledge and includes a third party member (NGO etc) as well.
(vi)  Complaints from workplaces employing less than 10 workers or when the complaint is against the employer will be looked into by the LCC. A  District Officer notified under the Act will constitute the LCC at the district level. LCC will also look into complaints from domestic workers.
(vii) LCC will be a five member committee comprising of a chairperson to be nominated from amongst eminent women in the field of social work or committed to the cause of women, one member from amongst women working in block/taluka/tehsil/manicipality in the district, two members of whom at least one shall be a woman to be nominated from NGOs committed to the cause of women or a person familiar with the issues related to sexual harassment provided that at least one of the nominees should preferably have a background in law or legal knowledge. The concerned officer dealing with the social welfare or women and child development shall be an ex officio member.
(viii)  A complaint of sexual harassment can be filed within a time limit of 3 months. This may be extended to another 3 months if the woman can prove that grave circumstances prevented her from doing the same.
(ix) The Act has a provision for conciliation. The ICC/LCC can take steps to settle the matter between the aggrieved woman and the respondent, however this option will be used only at the request of the woman. The Act also provides that monetary settlement shall not be made a basis of conciliation. Further, if any of the conditions of the settlement is not complied with by the respondent, the complainant can go back to the Committee who will proceed to make an inquiry. 
(x)  The Committee is required to complete the inquiry within a time period of 90 days. On completion of the inquiry, the report will be sent to the employer or the District Officer, as the case may be, they are mandated to take action on the report within 60 days.
(xi) In case the complaint has been found proved, then the Committee can recommend action in accordance with the provision of service rules applicable to the respondent or as per the rules which will be prescribed, where such service rules do not exist. The committee can also recommend deduction of an appropriate sum from the salary of the respondent or ask respondent to pay the sum. In case the respondent fails to pay such sum, district officer may be asked to recover such sum as an arrear of land revenue.
(xii) In case the allegation against the respondent has not been proved then the Committee can write to the employer/district officer that no action needs to be taken in the matter.
(xiii) In case of malicious or false complaint then the Act provides for a penalty according to the Service Rules. However, this clause has a safeguard in the form of an enquiry prior to establishing the malicious intent. Also, mere inability to prove the case will not attract penalty under this provision.
(xiv) The Act has provisions for providing reliefs to the aggrieved woman in the interim period including leave and transfer during the pendency of the inquiry.
(xv) The Act prohibits disclosure of the identity and addresses of the aggrieved woman, respondent and witnesses. However, information regarding the justice secured to any victim of sexual harassment under this Act without disclosing the identity can be disseminated.
(xvi) The Act casts a responsibility on every employer to create an environment which is free from sexual harassment. Employers are required to organize workshops and awareness programmes at regular intervals for sensitizing the employees about the provision of this legislation and display notices regarding the constitution of Internal Committee, penal consequences of sexual harassment etc.
(xvii) An employer will be liable to a fine of Rs 50,000 in case of violation of his duties under the Act and in case of subsequent violations the amount of fine will be double together with penalty in the form of cancelation of his licence, withdrawal or non-withdrawal of the registration required for carrying out his activity.
(xviii) In case of domestic worker the procedure is different considering the nature of employment. A domestic worker can approach the LCC in case of any complaint. If the complainant wishes then conciliation may be carried out. However, in other cases if the complaint is proved prima facie then the LCC can forward the complaint to the police for registering the case and taking appropriate action under the relevant provision of IPC. 
(xix) Regarding monitoring, the Act provides that the State Governments will monitor implementation and maintain data for all State Government establishments as well as private establishments in their territory. For establishments of the Central Government this duty is cast on the Government of India.  All ICCs have to submit Annual reports to the employer who inturn will submit it to the district officer. All LCCs shall submit their annual report to the district officer. The district officers will submit the report annually to the State Governments.
(xx) The Central and State Governments are mandated to develop relevant IEC and training materials and organise awareness programmes to advance the understanding of the public on the provisions of this Bill.
(xxi) The Central Government will provide financial assistance to the States to meet the expenditure of fee and allowances payable to the members of the Local Complaints Committee. (PIB)  Sexual Harassment prevention Bill passed

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Chairman's Enlisted Advisor

Inspires Army Junior ROTC Cadets
By Army Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone C. Marshall Jr.
American Forces Press Service

ALEXANDRIA, Va., Feb. 22, 2013 - Marine Corps Sgt. Maj. Bryan B. Battaglia, senior enlisted advisor to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, spent this morning talking to Junior ROTC cadets here.
Click photo for screen-resolution image
Marine Corps Sgt. Maj. Bryan B. Battaglia, center, senior enlisted advisor to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, speaks to Army Junior ROTC cadets at T.C. Williams High School in Alexandria, Va., Feb. 22, 2013. DOD photo by Army Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone C. Marshall Jr.
The sergeant major spoke to students in the Army Junior ROTC program at T.C. Williams High School, known for marching in President Barack Obama's 2009 inauguration parade and for the film "Remember the Titans," based on the 1971 merger of the city's three public high schools.Battaglia told the cadets that he and Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs, got the idea for today's visit when they used the school's football stadium recently to film a Super Bowl message to be broadcast to service members overseas. He commented on the Junior ROTC Cadet Creed that is on display at the school.
"If you follow that as gospel, it tells me that you are living by standards and rules for yourself and have some goals or objectives for yourself," the sergeant major told the cadets. "And it also shows me teamwork."
Using a PowerPoint presentation, Battaglia showed the cadets the U.S. military's oath of enlistment.
"We, in the military, have oaths and creeds as well," he said. "This is our oath. We all take it. I took that oath 33 years ago."
Battaglia noted that the cadet creed and the enlistment oath have common denominators. "We all live by an oath, by a creed, and things that guide us along the way," he said. "That's pretty amazing." All 2.3 million troops and their families live by the same oath, he added.
"I hope that as you may have memorized it and know it by heart, it means more than just being able to say it by memory," Battaglia said.
"There's a whole lot of substance in there, and it's really important for you to understand, as it is for us -- because what that means to us ... is that I'm willing to give my life for the protection of you. That's pretty serious, isn't it?"
The sergeant major said when he reflects on what the oath of enlistment means, it's "a whole lot more than just a paragraph of words."
"So I really hope that you can comprehend your creed ... as establishing a standard and value for you to get better and grow into being contributors," Battaglia said. "Whether it's just contributing to your neighborhood or the whole city, youth are the next leaders of our nation."
No other job requires the oath service members take, the sergeant major said. "It's a serious profession that you join, and you're starting to [build] that footprint right now," he told the cadets. "I'm happy to see and hear that, because you are the future of our nation."
Battaglia said he believes JROTC is a "great stepping stone" to continued success in life.
"Regardless of whether the armed forces is your choice, you're going to have to survive in life," he said. "There are so many options and opportunities out there for you."
The sergeant major said he has tried to follow two "golden" rules throughout his life: to do his job to the best of his ability, and to follow orders.
"I found that those two golden rules allowed me to stay out of trouble ... and avoid temptation when that came about," he said.
Following his remarks and a recital of the Junior ROTC Cadet Creed by one cadet, the group asked the sergeant major questions about his military career, including his 25 ribbons. Battaglia said seeking recognition and awards is not important, because they will come with hard work and commitment.
"The thing that I probably learned [most] in the infantry is teamwork," he said. "You just can't do it alone -- there's no way. And that's not just fighting for your nation. That's doing anything. You just don't want to do it by yourself. It's all about teamwork."
Marine Corps Sgt. Maj. Bryan B. Battaglia
Related Sites:
Army Junior ROTC Cadet Creed

Monday, February 25, 2013

Launch of Polar Satellite

     Launch Vehicle PSLV-C 20 SARAL Mission      
Launch of Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle PSLV-C 20 SARAL Mission, at Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh on February 25, 2013. (PIB photo)25-February-2013

The PM at Hyderabad

Meeting the bomb blast victims at Yashoda Hospital
The Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh meets the bomb blast victims at Yashoda Hospital, in Hyderabad on February 24, 2013. The Chief Minister of Hyderabad, Shri Kiran Kumar Reddy and the Minister of State for Social Justice & Empowerment, Shri Porika Balram Naik are also seen. (PIB photo)  24-February-2013   The PM at Hyderabad

Sunday, February 24, 2013

8th National Stroke Conference at Ldh.

Sun, Feb 24, 2013 at 1:15 PM
Health Minister Pb MM Mittal will be the Chief Guest
Ludhiana, 25 Feb.2013:(Shalu Arora and Rector Kathuria): The department of Neurology at Christian Medical College, Ludhiana is organizing the 8th National Stroke Conference of Indian Stroke Association from March 1st to 3rd in Hotel Park Plaza. Dr Jeyaraj D Pandian the Organizing Secretary mentioned that about 250 delegates from all over India will be participating in the conference. He also added that 16 International and 25 National faculty will be delivering talks on various aspects of stroke in the conference. The honourable Health and Family Welfare Minister of Government of Punjab Shri Madan Mohan Mittal will be the Chief Guest during the Inauguration of the conference on March 1st at 5 pm. Dr Abraham G Thomas Director of CMC and the Patron of the conference lauded the efforts of the department of Neurology in bringing this conference to Ludhiana.

A special session on ABC of stroke is being planned on March 1st focusing on neurology trainees, physicians and general practitioners.  Dr Yashpal Singh the joint Organising Secretary mentioned that the latest advances in stroke treatment like clot bursting therapy (thrombolysis) will be discussed in the meeting.  Sessions on newer technologies and treatments will be the highlight of March 2nd program.  On March 3rd there will be a symposium on research and ongoing clinical trials in the area of stroke. The approach to long term problems after a stroke will be dealt in the last session of the conference.

There will be two parallel programs during the conference. On March 1st there will be a three hours teaching course on “Stroke”in the CMC Hospital auditorium for the MBBS students, junior doctors and Nurses. On March 2nd and 3rd a National skills workshop is being arranged in CMC Hospital auditorium on Stroke rehabilitation. This is for students, physiotherapists, speech therapists and occupational therapists. This workshop is being organised by Dr SantoshMathangi, Associate Professor of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation and College of Physiotherapy (Mr Dheeraj KV and Mrs Benjamin, Vice-Principals).

The registration for the conference is still open and the organising committee has subsidised the registration fee for Physicians and Indian Medical Association members. Ten credit hours will be available from the Punjab Medical Council. The details are available in the conference website:

National Stroke Conference in Ludhiana

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Afghanistan's Kunduz province

02/22/2013 08:00 AM CST     Fri, Feb 22, 2013 at 7:45 PM
Precision Strike Kills Taliban IED Expert
From an International Security Assistance Force Joint Command News Release
KABUL, Afghanistan, Feb. 22, 2013 - A precision strike killed Zekaria, a Taliban improvised explosive device expert, in the Chahar Darah district of Afghanistan's Kunduz province yesterday, military officials reported.

The strike will significantly degrade the ability of insurgents to conduct attacks in the Charhar Darah district, International Security Assistance Force Joint Command officials said.

In other news, ISAF Joint Command officials confirmed today that Habib, a Taliban leader, was killed by a precision strike yesterday in Logar province's Charkh district. He obtained weapons for insurgents and helped to plan attacks against Afghan and coalition forces, officials said.

Related Sites:

NATO International Security Assistance Force

Friday, February 22, 2013

Smt. Jayashree Muralidharan

lighting the lamp to inaugurate the Campaign
The District Collector, Smt. Jayashree Muralidharan lighting the lamp to inaugurate the Bharat Nirman Public Information Campaign, at Tiruchirappilly, in Tamil Nadu on February 22, 2013.   (PIB)

At Jantar Mantar, New Delhi

Fri, Feb 22, 2013 at 9:09 AM
A protest Demonstration on 4th March 
Dear Friends !
Greetings !

We are sending you our appeal for your solidarity and support on behalf of National Movement For Land, Labor & Justice- NMLLJ and Forum against EWS Land Grab, Bangalore Karnataka.

Hope you are already aware of the illegal-demolition and  eviction of 1200 families from a slum  in Bangalore,  where they were living for more than 20 years .

This brutal action was enacted by the combined violence of police, pvt goons, and government officials.The whole purpose is to grab the 15.64 acres of prime land on which they were living.  it is between Jan 18--20. but even today the evicted people are living on footpath. this is the first where a `corporate land sharing project ` under PPP is being introduced in entire south India, in Urban poor Housing. If this move is not resisted , it only pave way to more and more land grab from slum people all over. What we are experiencing in the country is  the diminishing Democracy and flourishing Corporatocracy.

At this Juncture we request all democratic organization at Delhi to extend support and solidarity in resisting, exposing and get back the land grabbed from the social groups -historically marginalized.

.We seek your support and solidarity in organizing a protest Demonstration on 4th March at Jantar Mantar, New Delhi and a CSO consultation on 6th at Delhi. A strong struggle  group  from Forum against EWS Land Grab, Bangalore Karnataka.

We request you to play a prominent / leading role in actualizing  organized mass protest at Delhi on 4th march. Around 20 people from Bangalore forum that led the struggle so far, will be joining the protest.
Please see these attachments & Photos for more details.

Convener,  Forum against EWS Land Grab, Bangalore

राष्ट्रीय भूमि, श्रम  एवं न्याय आन्दोलन
National Movement For Land, Labor & Justice-NMLLJ
222,Vidhayak Niwas, Aishbagh Road, Rajendra Nagar
Lucknow -226004 Uatter Pradesh (INDIA)
Mob: 91#9451872099

At Jantar Mantar, New Delhi

A letter by Dr. Asok Samanta

Sun, Feb 17, 2013 at 10:36 PM
US imperialism involved in illegal regime changes
The President,

(People round the world must rise up to build powerful organized well-coordinated anti-imperialist movement to stop the murderous run of world imperialism led by US imperialism)

Dear Sir,
As you know, we are passing through a time when in the absence of mighty socialist camp led by the USSR, the imperialists-capitalists headed by US imperialists, unable to come out of the insoluble crisis they are ridden with, are on a rampage, pursuing their hegemonistic aspirations, overlordism and brigandage with impunity. Alongside military invasion and illegal occupation of others’ territories, they are now conducting their loot and plunder through neo-colonial route of exporting finance capital and ruling either by installing a puppet government or by forcing the governments of the weaker nations to be pliant with and subjugated to their dictates . They are also causing economic blockade or resorting to escalated violence to circumscribe the weaker nations. For more than six decades now, US imperialism in particular has been directly and indirectly involved in all types of illegal regime changes employing assassinations, bombings, sabotage, terrorism, electoral fraud and such other black means. Whenever the US imperialists can no longer use and abuse a peripheral country, they first attempt to employ open (or white) measures (diplomatic, political, economic, military, etc.) to force a necessary change in the national political leadership of the target state. However, when they fail to attain this objective using “white” or overt actions then, they do not hesitate to initiate, conduct and pursue “black reconnaissance” actions against its perceived and identified enemy targets, or threats to its global strategic interests. Black reconnaissance actions are primarily hidden in the dark and kept from the public, secret and clandestine in nature. They are almost always illegal and violate accepted international principles and norms. Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador, Honduras, Haiti, have all borne the brunt with variance in degree. Somalia has been victim of the US imperialism-designed “nation building process” and ‘‘kind of humanitarian mission”. The NATO air raid in Kosovo, undertaken without the authorization of the Security Council and largely by using US forces to save the victims of so called ‘ethnic cleansing’ by President Slobodan Milosevic was soon  proved  to  be  a  step  towards fragmenting the Balkan states and deepening  imperialist  strangulation. 
For last three decades, the US imperialists along with their allies like Zionist Israel and British imperialismhave targeted West Asia obviously with a view to having total control of the rich oil fields. USA and its imperialist allies invaded and occupied Iraq on a completely trumped-up charge of possession of weapons of mass destruction. After the occupation of Iraq, USA has tried to keep its stranglehold on the country by installing a puppet regime on the one hand and by instigating ethnic strifes and violent conflicts between religious communities on the other. On the dark pages of human history which record the worst instances of naked aggression of big powers over smaller nations, Afghanistan has been a recent hapless inclusion. The war-monger US imperialists, the chieftain of the world capitalist- imperialist forces, have pounced upon this poor country with such venom and cruelty and have brought about such murderous devastation of human life and property, that have shocked and worried the peace –loving people of the entire world, not to speak of their inflicting unfathomable sufferings upon the Afghan people themselves.Having established control over Iraq and Afghanistan, USA is now turning its attention to other countries in the Middle East and North Africa. Central to US strategy in Middle East is unqualified support to Zionist Israel and to set it up as a bulwark against the surging tide of nationalism and anti-imperialism in the Arab countries; side by side, the US is lending support to the autocratic, tyrannical and despotic rulers in the Arab countries who perpetrate the most ruthless repression on the people, but protect the US interests.For a long time, US imperialists have been using Israel in subduing the most legitimate and just demand of homeland of the Palestine people. In Libya and Syria they are fomenting troubles through agent provocateurs. They are setting up their agents to destabilize the governments through violent armed actions under the cloak of ‘fighting for democracy’.  In the name of providing humanitarian aid to the people under attack from Muammar Gaddafi’s government in Libya, and giving logistic assistance to the forces fighting Gaddafi they, under NATO banner, US imperialists launched a full-scale air-war on Libya and savagely assassinated Gaddafi with the help of so called National Transitional Council (NTC), an organization propped up and backed by the agents of reaction with the blessings of US imperialism and its associates. Alongside a direct armed assault and creating ‘fifth columnists’ inside Libya, the US imperialists also pressed into action the International Criminal Court (ICC) which is increasingly being used as a tool by the Pentagon and Western imperialist powers in their bid to establish direct control over the  huge natural resources of Africa and West Asia.After having demolished Libya, the US imperialists and their allies have now chosen Syria. The present turmoil of Syria was perpetrated and monitored by none other than the US imperialists, towing their allies behind them. It is revealed in the media that just like Iraq and Libya, $6 million was handed out to Syrian groups aligned with US imperialism by the Bush administration after 2006 with a view to ensuring fall of the incumbent Syrian government. Lebanon is also on the radar of the US imperialists. Just the other day, Zionist Israel bombed the territories of Syria. So is Iran who along with socialist North Korea and Cuba has been included by the US rulers in their “axis of evils”. It is reported in The New York Times that US is carrying out secret military and air strikes in Yemen. Sudan, the oil-rich mineral-rich East African country is now a prime target of the US imperialists. 
This is how the imperialist web now extends over the entire globe. How could the imperialist powers particularly the US imperialists be so unbridled in their pursuit of international gangsterism and hegemonism? The answer lies in the qualitative change in the international correlation of forces following sad dismantling of mighty socialist camp due to revisionist conspiracy aided and abetted by capitalist-imperialist powers. So long the socialist camp existed, it, notwithstanding certain limitations and shortcomings, worked as a bulwark of anti-imperialism and peace. Had the bipolar world existed, the US imperialists and their allies would not have the nerve to undertake such dastardly activities with alacrity, unleash a reign of terror round the globe and openly threat the countries or political personalities not seeing eye to eye with them of dire consequences. Cowardly acts like summarily executing political opponents openly and boastfully would not have been that easy and go unchallenged. One would have observed that since collapse of the USSR and Eastern European socialist states in 1989-1991, US imperialists have launched five wars of invasion — in Iraq twice, in Yugoslavia in 1999, in Afghanistan in 2001, and now in Libya.It is pertinent to mention that Indian capitalism has also assumed imperialist character, given rise to a financial oligarchy by merger of industrial capital with banking capital and is exporting finance capital abroad to exploit cheap labour and raw material. Thus, the Indian monopolists have become junior partners of world imperialism and in order to fulfil their aspiration to become a formidable power in central and south Asia, they are increasing tilting towards the US camp, entering into nuclear treaty with them, undertaking joint military exercises and backing US design to target Iran, North Korea and other regimes opposed to US imperialism.
But the freedom-loving people of the world cannot remain a mute spectator to this overlordism, brigandage and gangsterism of the world imperialist powers headed by US imperialism nor should they be duped by the incessant imperialist propaganda. The imperialist sharks will be unbridled in their tyranny if there is no organized people’s resistance against all their felonious acts. Just as they did in Libya, the US imperialists and their allies will sneak into every country under this or that pretext, implement their nefarious designs, pit one section of the people against another fomenting divisiveness centring on religion, ethnicity or such other count to buttress their heinous agenda, overpower countries not falling in line with them by unleashing military attack and plotting killing of political opponents. One after another country would fall to such imperialist machination spelling doom to mankind.When the US imperialists and their associates are merrily indulging in all kinds of criminal acts and trying to cover them with panoply of cooked up alibis and charade of ‘restoring democracy’, the obvious question people should ask is who are they to determine what kind of rule would prevail in any other country? It is the exclusive preserve of the people of a country to decide what nature of governance they would like to have. Even if rulers of a country perpetrate genocide, it is upto the people there to develop powerful democratic movement or if the situation so warrants, a strong resistance movement to dissuade or dislodge the incumbent repressive regime. Democratic minded people of the world can also develop strong international public opinion against such crimes and extend moral support to such movement so as to create pressure on the culprit regime for stopping the ghastly activities. There are international diplomatic codes, existence of international bodies like International Court of Justice or even UNO, notwithstanding considerable dilution in their roles and their sickening obedience to the wishes of the US imperialists and their allies, to look after such matters. What is the propriety of the US imperialists and their cohorts to arrogate to themselves the power of functioning as international gendarme and nakedly meddle into the internal affairs of any country and that too by moving armed troops? If such be the case, what would be the fate of the lofty concepts of freedom, sovereignty, territorial integrity and independent state then? Is it to be assumed then that all these concepts are slated to vanish into thin air because the US imperialists have now emerged as a superlord by dint of their brute military might and hence ordained to write a new doctrine of democracy which is tantamount to meek unquestioned surrender to their sermons and fiats? If any ruler of any country does anything wrong, runs an autocratic regime, it is up to the people of that country to decide how he should be dealt with, what punishment should be meted out to him. History will judge his actions. Same is the case with Libya. Wherefrom do the US imperialists and their cohorts who in their own countries are brutally suppressing democratic movements, muffling voice of dissent and practising fascist dictatorship under the garb of parliamentary democracy, flouting and disobeying all democratic norms, codes and practices, derive the authority to militarily intervene in Libya or Iraq and engineer a regime change by murdering Gaddafi and Saddam? 
We are to keep in mind that what these imperialist despots fear most is the united conscious people’s movement. People must act and act decisively. True, in the situation obtaining, people apparently seem to be having no weapon to halt the murderous run of the imperialist sharks, to thwart the sinister imperialist machination of “humanitarian intervention with daggers drawn” or “trigger-happy export of democracy”. But that weapon has to be developed in right earnest, the invincible weapon of asserting of people’s power in right form. Of late, there have been spontaneous upheavals of people against pro-imperialist regimes in Egypt and Tunisia. Undeterred by the bullets and brutality of the autocratic regime and defying the long-continuing repressions that they have dreaded so far, lakhs of oppressed Egyptians from all sections of the society including women congregated at the Tahrir Square of Cairo and other parts of the country in the last week of January, 2011 to demand an end to thirty long years of President Hosni Mubarak’s most oppressive rule, fully backed, geared and protected by the army, and restoration of democracy. This spontaneous militant people’s protest which spread like wildfire across the country and virtually assumed the character of a mass uprising was greeted throughout the world as “Arab spring’. Such people’s protest agitations ought to surge forth in other countries of West Asia and Africa where dictatorial rules are in operation, the surging people’s protests have not crystallized in that manner. Most importantly, in order to lead all these protest agitations to their logical culmination, it is essential that the toiling people overcome all hurdles and hassles to close their ranks and develop well-organized powerful movements along the right track, build their own instruments of struggle right from the grassroots level rising above all differences and divisions and give birth through struggle to appropriate revolutionary leadership to spur them on to accomplish the goal. Simultaneously, a mighty militant global people’s movement needs to be developed against imperialism, particularly US imperialism by coordinating the anti-imperialist movements in the different countries and involving all anti-imperialist forces. Any attack on any country must be considered by the people of fellow countries as an attack on all of them by the US imperialists.  Hence, it should be incumbent on the anti-war peace-loving democratic minded patriotic people of all countries to rise up against any such attack, resist and repel with all might.  In other words, it would just not be an expression of solidarity but beyond that--unleashing action spurned by a sense of oneness.  The enemy would know that if it targets one particular country, the people of the entire region would retaliate and strike back.  If such co-ordination and fraternity among the fighting people of Latin America could be developed, it would not only give fillip to the democratic movements in each country but would also enfeeble the enemy to a great extent. And it is also of immense importance to understand that unless the various anti-imperialist people’s struggles grow and develop under correct revolutionary leadership, they will not be led to their logical culmination and might either be aborted midway or end in a half-baked and truncated way and the imperialist conspirators, sly and wicked to the bone, would cunningly exploit the accumulated grievances of the people in those lands for implementing their ‘humanitarian mission” of “planting democracy” through imbedded “agents” shored up as “pro-democracy” fighters. This alone can resist the marauding acts of imperialism, and save the world from this scourge of imperialist terror and oppression. We call upon all anti-imperialist peace-loving people to come forward and shoulder the task of releasing the desired people’s movement to thwart imperialist prowl with due expediency. 

With struggling greetings
Dr. Asok Samanta
Vice-President, Medical Service Centre
Member of All India Anti-Imperialist Forum
14th Feb. 2013

2 days nationwide continuous general strike

A protest Demonstration on 4th March 

2nd day of nationwide strike at Ludhiana

A letter by Dr. Asok Samanta

Thursday, February 21, 2013

North Korea Releases Video

Film Of U.S President Obama and Soldiers In F...

2nd day of nationwide strike at Ludhiana

Workers jammed the railway track and held a rally
The nationwide strike call given by the 11 Central Trade Unions and various independent federations, unions and associations had an effective participation on the second day today. The workers affiliated to the All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC), INTUC, BMS, CTU, TUCC and CITU observed strike today in their respective industries and other institutions and thereafter they gathered at Bus stand from where they marched to the Provident Fund Office in Sham Nagar. After that workers in Thousands went to the Loco Diesel Shed and jammed the railway track and held a rally. Today’s protest rally  was presided over by Com Om Parkash Mehta - AITUC, Com Jatinder Pal Singh of CITU and  Shri Swaran Singh of INTUC, Com Paramjeet Singh of CTU, Sh Nageshwar Singh of BMS, Shri Sham Narain Yadav of TUCC. Speaking on the occasion state leaders Com Raghunath Singh, General Secretary of CITU Punjab,  Com. Inderjeet Singh- President CTU Punjab, Com Paramjeet Singh of CTU, Sh. Swaran Singh- President INTUC Punjab, Hari Singh Sahni-TUCC and Com D P Maur member state working committee AITUC.
The speakers said that yesterday’s strike was a complete success and it reflected the growing resentment among the working class against the anti people policies of the government.  They demanded minimum wages to be fixed by the Punjab Govt. @ for unskilled workers Rs 10,000, Semi Skilled 15,000, Skilled workers 20,000 per month, end to contractual and outsourcing and filling up of all govt. and semi govt. posts on regular basis, to disband the new pension policy effective from 1.1.2004 and implement the same old pension scheme on all employees. They also demanded creation of social security fund for the workers of the unorganized sector.   They cited low wages in the state as major reason for the shortage of labour in the state. They demanded all anti worker acts recently promulgated by the Punjab government to be withdrawn with immediate effect. The speakers said that the labour laws in the state are being flouted by both public and private sector with impunity. The contractual workers in both the sectors be regularized hence forth.  These must be implemented in letter and spirit. They deplored that under the process of so called globalization and privatization at the diktat of the world bank and International Monetary Fund ,  the economic policies of both central and state governments there has been accumulation of wealth in the hands of a few, while vast majority is suffering under acute poverty and unemployment. Latest reports have indicated that 100 top rich families in India own assets to the tune of 16 lakh crores of rupees where as 70% are forced to live on meager spending of Rs. 16.60  per day.  Speaking on the occasion Com. Tarsem Jodhan, Com D P Maur, Com Ram Lal, Jagdish Chand and Gurjeet Singh Jagpal, Gulzar Singh Gorea opposed FDI in banks, LIC and retail as this will hit the job situation hard for the employees and also the production in the small scale sector. They also demanded  regular jobs and equal wages for ASHA, Aanganwadi and mid day meal workers. They warned that if the govt. does not change its economic policies benefitting the rich and the corporate sector, then more militant agitations   are on the anvil. Others who addressed include Com Bhagirath Paliwal, Suresh Sood, Gurnam Gill, Laddoo shah, Haniuman Prasad Dubey, Samar Bahadur, Gurnam Sidhu, Kameshwar Yadav, Sarbjit Singh Sarhali, Manjeet Singh Buta, Charan Dass, Amarnath Kumkalan, S K Tiwari and Rajesh Kumar Sharma, Com Naresh Gaur, Dr Arun Mitra and Shri Gurbaksh Rai.
The protestors included large number of women, construction workers, industrial workers, Public health workers,  contractual workers, Corporation workers, roadways  and others sections of workers and employees.  

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

2 days nationwide continuous general strike

 In support of the 10 point Charter of Demands
On the call given by United Forum of Bank Unions, officers and employees in all the public sector banks are observing 2 days nationwide continuous general strike on 20th & 21st Feb. 2013 alongwith Central trade unions in our country to protest against the Central Government’s anti-people, anti-labour and the pro-corporate neo-liberal economic policies on the following demands:-

• In support of the 10 point Charter of Demands of Central Trade Unions.
• Control alarming price rise
• Stop anti-labour policies and Hands off trade union rights
• Stop Banking Reforms
• Stop Outsourcing
• Early wage revision
• Settle pending issues like compassionate appointment scheme                                   

United Forum of Bank Unions hold a massive rally in front of Canara Bank, Bharat Nagar Chowk, Ludhiana.  Com. Sudesh Kumar, Chairman, Punjab Bank Employees Federation,  Com. Naresh Gaur, Convener, United Forum of Bank Unions, Com. Ashok Awasthy (PBEF), Com. Gulshan Chauhan, Com. Rakesh Khanna, Com. Baljinder Singh, Com. J.P.Kalra (All India Bank Officers’ Confederation), Com. D.C.Landra (NCBE),   Com. K.S.Sandhu, Com. Gurbachan Singh (AIBOA) and Com. D.P.Maur General Secretary, Joint Council of Trade Unions addressed the bank employees.

While addressing the bank employees, leaders of the United Forum said that the historic unity of the trade unions on the same platform has opened up new possibility of developing resistance against the attack unleashed by Government and the corporate. The sky high inflation of food prices and stagnation of the economy are the characteristics of the crisis that has engulfed the nation. The Government has no policy to curb the price and contain the recession of the economy, mitigate poverty and job loss. In the race to implement banking reforms, there is grim all around politically and economically. The Government has no policy to face the challenge. It seeks to throw all the burden of the crisis on the common people. Turning its back to the national interest, the government is initiating steps one after another which is inflaming inflation and accentuating economic stagnation. The Government is recklessly increasing the price of all the commodities that is so urgently necessary for daily life. It is not the organized workers in the industrial sector who are grossly affected; it is the contract workers, informal and casual labour which is the worst victim. While the industrial workers who are organized are sure to be denied of the legitimate rights, increase in bonus and wages, the unorganized sector will be more rudely affected through job loss, wage cut and on payment of  minimum wage and denial of statutory dues.   

Banking sector is no exception. Attempts are on to reduce and dilute the Government’s equity capital in Public Sector Banks. Attempts are equally on to boost private capital in the equity of our PSBs. For public sector banks, the Government talks of mergers and consolidation to shrink the scope of social banking. But in the same breath, the Government wants to encourage and expand private sector banking. New Licenses are sought to be given to industrial houses to start their own private Banks. This is the double standard of the Government. Banking Laws are amended to convert bad loans of corporate houses as investments in the equity capital of the very same defaulters. Huge loans are being written off to favour the rich borrowers. Rural branches are sought to be closed down and rural banking is being given to private outsourced Business Correspondents. Priority Sector loan targets are not being reached by many Banks. Corporate loans are increasing. Banks are appearing to draft from the goals and objectives of bank nationalization. In one word, the clock is sought to be reversed. 

Banking industry is one of the potential employment generating agencies in our country. But in the last 20 years, recruitments were virtually banned and after our struggle, some recruitments are taking place recently. But this is totally inadequate. Bank’s business has increased manifold. More and more services have been undertaken but matching recruitments are not taking place. In the next few years, large scale retirements will take place and hence further recruitment is needed. But  Banks  are trying to outsource the regular and permanent jobs to contract employees. This will reduce the scope for permanent jobs and affect the job security. This will also result in exploitation of unemployed youth. We oppose outsourcing of permanent jobs and demanding adequate recruitments and revival of BSRBs for recruitment of bank staff.  

Various important issues raised by UFBU still remain unresolved such as issues like compassionate appointment, revised housing loan scheme to bank employees, improvements in pension scheme, proper implementation of settlement, denial of pension option to persons opted under VRS and those resigned their jobs for want of VRS, defined and regulated working hours, 5 day banking etc; which are pending for resolution for a long time.  
Leaders of the United Forum further said that “Hit out those who have hit the people”. Mount counter-offensive to stall the atrocity of the Government. It is the right moment to make a mass intervention. Indignation against the government is brewing. The spontaneous outburst of anger is taking place everywhere. The people boiling in the fire of inflation came on the roads to paralyze the government and all its apparatus to demonstrate the strength of the masses opposed to the government policies. The country came to a halt. Working class people  withdrew from all the work places. Banking industry came to a grinding halt. The government must be paralyzed. This is the only way to resist the aggression of the Government and win the demands for the benefit of the people. The strength of unity that provides an opportunity must be utilized to covert the crisis into a new wave of resistance.

--Naresh Gaur   2 days nationwide continuous general strike 

A total Chakka Jam

Wed, Feb 20, 2013 at 4:30 PMThe protestors included large number of women
Peoples power at Ludhiana.....................................Photo by Rector Kathuria

Ludhiana(Rector Kathuria); On a call given by the 11 Central Trade Unions and various independent federations, unions and associations, the workers affiliated to the All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC), INTUC, BMS, CTU, TUCC and CITU observed strike today in their respective industries and other institutions. Thereafter they gathered at Bus stand and organized a massive protest rally in support of their demands. The unions of workers of Punjab Roadways and PRTC  had already struck work and so there was a total Chakka Jam at the bus stand since 12.00 midnight.
The protestors included large number of women, construction workers, industrial workers, Public health workers,  contractual workers, Corporation workers, University employees, private hospital employees, roadways  and others sections of workers and employees. Todays’s protesat rally  was presided over by Com Om Parkash Mehta - AITUC, Com Jatinder Pal Singh of CITU and  Shri Swaran Singh of INTUC, Com Paramjeet Singh of CTU, Sh Nageshwar Singh of BMS, Shri Sham Narain Yadav of TUCC . Speaking on the occasion state leaders Com Bant Brar – General Secretary AITUC Punjab, Com Raghunath Singh, General Secretary of CITU Punjab,  Com Paramjeet Singh of CTU, Sh. Swaran Singh- President INTUC Punjab, Hari singh Sahni-TUCC  demanded minimum wages to be fixed by the Punjab Govt. @ for unskilled workers Rs 10,000, Semi Skilled 15,000, Skilled workers 20,000 per month, end to contractual and out sourcing and filling up of all govt. and semi govt. posts on regular basis, to disband the new pension policy effective from 1.1.2004 and implement the same old pension scheme on all employees.  They cited low wages in the state as major reason for the shortage of labour in the state. They demanded all anti worker acts recently promulgated by the Punjab government to be withdrawn with immediate effect. The speakers said that the labour laws in the state are being flouted by both public and private sector with impunity. The contractual workers in both the sectors be regularized hence forth.  These must be implemented in letter and spirit. They deplored that under the process of so called globalization and privatization at the diktat of the world bank and International Monetary Fund ,  the economic policies of both central and state governments there has been accumulation of wealth in the hands of a few, while vast majority is suffering under acute poverty and unemployment. Latest reports have indicated that 100 top rich families in India own assets to the tune of 16 lakh crores of rupees where as 70% are forced to live on meager spending of Rs. 16.60  per day.  Speaking on the occasion Com. Tarsem Jodhan, Com D P Maur, Com Ram Lal, Jagdish Chand and Gurjeet Singh Jagpal, Gulzar Singh Gorea opposed FDI in banks, LIC and retail as this will hit the job situation hard for the employees and also the production in the small scale sector. They also demanded  regular jobs and equal wages for ASHA, Aanganwadi and mid day meal workers. They warned that if the govt. does not change its economic policies benefitting the rich and the corporate sector, then more militant agitations   are on the anvil. Others who addressed include Com Bhagirath Paliwal, Suresh Sood, Gurnam Gill, Laddoo shah, Haniuman Prasad Dubey, Samar Bahadur, Gurnam Sidhu, Kameshwar Yadav, Sarbjit Singh Sarhali, Manjeet Singh Buta, Charan Dass, Amarnath Kumkalan, S K Tiwari and Rajesh Kumar Sharma

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Another Pre budget price hike by paper mills

Tue, Feb 19, 2013 at 4:26 PM
Stationery prices to increase by 10% 
Ludhiana: Feb 19, 2013(Rector Kathuria and S K Gogna): As per the recent communication, Ballarpur industries increasing its paper prices again w.e.f. 1st March, 2013. As per sources there will be a increase in woodfree grade papers including copiers of Rs. 1000 pmt. It is worth mentioning here that only few months back the paper prices were increased by the paper mills due to increase in wood pulp rates in the international market. Further there can be some impact on the paper prices
due to any change in duty/levy rates may be announced in the Union Budget on 28 February, 2013.

Earlier in February, OPA announced increase of Prices in Printing & Packaging Industry by 15% due to sudden increase in the rates of paper by almost all the major Paper, Paperboard & Carft Paper mills. Now this
increase will again put pressure on the Rates of finished printing goods. Printing and Packaging industry is already suffering due to non availability of skilled/semi skilled workforce and this increase in the raw
material cost may hit very hard and once again the printers will be compelled to increase their prices. With this increase in price of wood free paper which is used generally for text book and note book printing the
cost of Books and Note books for school children nay cost more in the next session, Mr. Parveen Aggarwal, President Offset Printers Association said.
He further added that the prices of paper are being increased by the paper mills every now and then without any solid reason, as per details available it is seen that the Prices of Paper and other raw material used in the
printing and packaging industry is doubled in the past about 7 years. The input labour cost has also been increased by 38% during same Period but the rates of printing has only been increased by 20% in the same period.  Now it is becoming extremely difficult to withstand any increase and we will be compelled to further increase our rates at least by 10% w.e.f. 1st March,2013 if no relief is received through Union Budget this year, Mr. Aggarwal Said.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Imposition of Property Tax

Aam Aadmi Party staged a Dharna Rector Kathuria and SK Gogna
The Aam Aadmi party members today  outside the Corporation office and met  Municipal Commissioner Mr. Rakesh Verma to protest against the levying of the new property tax and have submitted an ultimatum of 5 days for removal of the tax in the district. The citizens of Ludhiana gathered in large numbers to support the Aam Aadmi party protest against 
Property tax.    
According to the District Secretary of Aam Aadmi Party Mr. Balbir Aggarwal, “The administration instead of focusing on providing better basic amenities to the people, is focusing on thinking up new means of imposing taxes and newer ways of corruption. Projects like removing encroachments from city roads and providing proper sanitation and good roads should be the priority of the local administration and not the desire to find new ways to burden
the common man”.

Aam Aadmi members had a long meeting with the officials of the Corporation including the Municipal Commissioner in which they provided proofs of how public money was being pilfered and if the government stopped all that corruption it would have no need to impose new taxes on the Citizens of Ludhiana.

Aam Aadmi party members including District Convenor Mr. Harjot Singh, Mr. Balbir Aggarwal, Mr. Gulshan Kumar, Mr. Suresh Aggarwal, Mr. Bhupinder Singh, Mr. Mohit Mittal, Mr. Raman, Mr. Manjeet Singh, Mr. Ravinder Singh, Mr. Kanav Vats, Mr. Ajay Mittal and Mr. Raghuveer Singh thanked the people of Ludhiana for wholeheartedly supporting the protest against Property tax.

The Party Spokesman Dr. S. S. Butter informed that the party volunteers will be setting up awareness camps in most areas of the city to make people aware about this new tax and also launch an extensive signature campaign against it starting from tomorrow to try and force the District Administration to revoke its decision.
Imposition of Property Tax

Friday, February 15, 2013

Cybercom Commander Calls

02/13/2013 02:00 PM CST             Thu, Feb 14, 2013 at 1:40 AMCybersecurity Order First Step
By Army Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone C. Marshall Jr.
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Feb. 13, 2013 - The cyber security policy President Barack Obama announced during his annual State of the Union address is a step toward protecting the nation's critical infrastructure, the commander of U.S. Cyber Command said here today.

Army Gen. Keith B. Alexander, also director of the National Security Agency, joined senior U.S. officials from the White House and the Commerce and Homeland Security departments to discuss strengthening the cybersecurity of the country's critical infrastructure.

"We need a way of sharing information between government and industry -- both for information sharing and hardening our networks," he said. "I think what we're doing in the executive order tackles, perhaps, the most difficult issue facing our country: How do we harden these networks when, across all of industry and government, those networks are in various states of array? We've got to have a way of reaching out with industry and with government to solve that kind of problem."

The general said the new cybersecurity policy is important to strengthening the country's defenses against cyberattacks. "The systems and assets that our nation depends on for our economy, for our government, even for our national defense, are overwhelmingly owned and operated by industry," he explained. "We have pushed hard for information sharing."

Private-sector companies have the information they need to defend their own networks in a timely manner, he said. "However, information sharing alone will not solve this problem," he added. "Our infrastructure is fragile." The executive order Obama signed to put the new cybersecurity policy into effect sets up a process for government and industry to start to address the problem, the general said.

But although the president's new executive order helps to bring about some solutions, Alexander said, it isn't comprehensive.

"This executive order is only a down payment on what we need to address the threat," he said. "This executive order can only move us so far, and it's not a substitute for legislation. We need legislation, and we need it quickly, to defend our nation. Agreeing on the right legislation actions for much-needed cybersecurity standards is challenging."

The executive order is a step forward, though, because it creates a voluntary process for industry and government to establish that framework, Alexander said.

"In particular, with so much of the critical infrastructure owned and operated by the private sector, the government is often unaware of the malicious activity targeting our critical infrastructure," he said. "These blind spots prevent us from being positioned to help the critical infrastructure defend itself, and it prevents us from knowing when we need to defend the nation."

The general noted government can share threat information with the private sector under this executive order and existing laws, but a "real-time" defensive posture for the military's critical networks will require legislation removing barriers to private-to-public sharing of attacks and intrusions into private-sector networks.

"Legislation is also necessary to create incentives for better voluntary cooperation in cyber standards, developments and implementation," he said, "and to update and modernize government authorities to address these new cyber threats."

Alexander warned that potential cyber threats to the United States are very real, pointing to recent examples.

"You only have to look at the distributed denial-of-service attacks that we've seen on Wall Street, the destructive attacks we've seen against Saudi Aramco and RasGas, to see what's coming at our nation," Alexander said. Now is the time for action, he said, and the new executive order takes a step in implementing that action.

In his role as director of the NSA, Alexander said, he is fully committed to the development of the cybersecurity framework.

"We do play a vital role in all of this, and in protecting DOD networks and supporting our combatant commands and defending the nation from cyber-attacks," he said. "But we can't do it all. No one agency here can do it all. It takes a team in the government."

And the government cannot do it by itself, either, he added. "We have to have government and industry working together as a team," he said.

Army Gen. Keith B. Alexander 

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Operation Homecoming

02/12/2013 01:12 PM CST

Vietnam POWs Marks 40 Years

By Donna MilesAmerican Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Feb. 12, 2013 - Forty years ago today, a C-141A Starlifter transport jet with a distinctive red cross on its tail lifted off from Hanoi, North Vietnam, and the first flight of 40 U.S. prisoners of war began their journey home through Operation Homecoming.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
Newly freed prisoners of war celebrate as their C-141A aircraft lifts off from Hanoi, North Vietnam, on Feb. 12, 1973, during Operation Homecoming. The mission included 54 C-141 flights between Feb. 12 and April 4, 1973, returning 591 POWs to American soil. U.S. Air Force photo
By the day's end, three C-141A aircraft would lift off from Hanoi, as well as a C-9A aircraft from Saigon, South Vietnam. In a steady flow of flights through late March 1973 under terms set through the Paris Peace Accords, 591 POWs returned to American soil.Americans were spellbound as they watched news clips of the POWs being carried in stretchers or walking tentatively toward U.S. officers at the awaiting aircraft for the first flight from Hanoi's Gia Lam Airport.
The POWs ranged from privates first class to colonels, all wearing new gray uniforms issued by the North Vietnamese just before their release.
Air Force Tech. Sgt. James R. Cook, who suffered severe wounds when he bailed out of his stricken aircraft over North Vietnam in December 1972, saluted the U.S. colors from his stretcher as he was carried aboard the aircraft. Also on the first flight was Navy Cmdr. Everett Alvarez Jr., the first American pilot to be shot down in North Vietnam and, by the war's end, the longest-held POW there. He spent eight-and-a-half years in captivity.
Celebration broke out aboard the first aircraft -- nicknamed the "Hanoi Taxi" -- as it lifted skyward and the POWs experienced their first taste of freedom.
Historian Andrew H. Lipps captured the magnitude of the moment in his account, "Operation Homecoming: The Return of American POWs from Vietnam."
"Imagine you're imprisoned in a cage; imagine the cage surrounded by the smell of feces; imagine the rotted food you eat is so infested with insects that to eat only a few is a blessing; imagine knowing your life could be taken by one of your captors on a whim at any moment; imagine you are subjected to mental and physical torture designed to break not bones but instead spirit on a daily basis. That was being a prisoner of North Vietnam," Lipps wrote.
"Then imagine one day, after seemingly endless disappointment, you are given a change of clothes and lined up to watch an American plane land to return you home. That was Operation Homecoming."
Aeromedical teams assigned to each aircraft tended to the former POWs during the two-and-a-half hour flight to Clark Air Base in the Philippines, the first stop on their trip home. Meanwhile, many of the POWs joked and smoked American cigarettes as they caught up on all they'd missed while in captivity: fashion trends and the women's liberation movement, among them.
"Everything seemed like heaven," recalled Air Force Capt. Larry Chesley, who, after being shot down over North Vietnam, spent seven years in the notorious "Hanoi Hilton" and other POW prisons. "When the doors of that C-141 closed, there were tears in the eyes of every man aboard," he said.
Air Force Maj. Gen. Ed Mechenbier, the last Vietnam POW to serve in the Air Force, recalled the emotion of his own journey out of North Vietnam on Feb. 18, 1973. "When we got airborne and the frailty of being a POW turned into the reality of freedom, we yelled, cried and cheered," he said.
The POWs arrived to a hero's welcome at Clark Air Base, where Navy Adm. Noel Gayler, commander of U.S. Forces Pacific, led their greeting party. Joining him were Air Force Lt. Gen. William G. Moore Jr., who commanded 13th Air Force and the homecoming operation at Clark, and Roger Shields, deputy assistant secretary of defense for POW/MIA affairs.
Speaking to the crowd that lined the tarmac to welcome the aircraft, returning POW Navy Capt. Jeremiah Denton -- who would go on to earn the rank of rear admiral and later was elected to the U.S. Senate, representing Alabama -- elicited cheers as he thanked all who had worked for their release and proclaimed, "God bless America."
Air Force Lt. Col. Carlyle "Smitty" Harris, who spent almost eight years as a POW after being shot down over North Vietnam, joined the many other POWs who echoed that sentiment. "My only message is, 'God bless America,'" he said, dismissing assertions in the media that the POWs had been directed to say it.
"With six, seven or eight years to think about the really important things in life, a belief in God and country was strengthened in every POW with whom I had contact," he said. "Firsthand exposure to a system which made a mockery of religion and where men are unable to know truth made us all appreciate some of the most basic values in 'God bless America.'"
Air Force Col. Robinson Risner, the senior Air Force officer at the infamous "Hanoi Hilton" honored today by a statue in his likeness at the U.S. Air Force Academy, choked back emotion as he arrived on the second C-141 flight from Hanoi.
"Thank you all for bringing us home to freedom again," he told the crowd.
After receiving medical exams and feasting on steak, ice cream and other American food, the former POWs received new uniforms for their follow-on flights home. Their aircraft made stops in Hawaii and California. The first group of 20 former POWs arrived at Travis Air Force Base, Calif., on Feb. 14, 1973.
News clips of the arrival reveal the deep emotion of the freed POWs as they arrived on the U.S. mainland. Navy Capt. James Stockdale, who went on to become a vice admiral and vice presidential candidate, was the first man to limp off the aircraft.
Stockdale paused to thank his countrymen for the loyalty they had showed him and his fellow POWs. "The men who follow me down that ramp know what loyalty means because they have been living with loyalty, living on loyalty, the past several years -- loyalty to each other, loyalty to the military, loyalty to our commander-in-chief," he said.
Of the 591 POWs liberated during Operation Homecoming, 325 served in the Air Force, 138 in the Navy; 77 in the Army and 26 in the Marine Corps. Twenty-five of the POWs were civilian employees of U.S. government agencies.
In addition, 69 POWs the Viet Cong had held in South Vietnam left aboard flights from Loc Ninh. Nine other POWs were released from Laos, and three from China.
Forty years after their release, two of the former POWs serve in Congress: Sen. John McCain of Arizona and Rep. Sam Johnson of Texas.
A dinner and ceremony being planned for late May at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library in California will honor the POWs, recreating the dinner the president hosted for them at the White House in 1973.
Related Sites:
Operation Homecoming Fact Sheet
U.S. Vietnam War Commemoration