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We can’t leave India to our politicians or professors

The smugness on Navjot Singh Sidhu’s face as if Messiah of peace between India and Pakistan, as he made way for Kartarpur across Wagah border, really got my goat up. Surely he knows Imran Khan is just a dummy; that terrorism both for Khalistan and Kashmir (or for Kabul) is our neighbour’s export, that for Vajpayee’s bus initiative we got Kargil. All this is not for India. This is to nurture his own constituency with an eye to be Punjab’s next chief minister. It would all suit Pakistan and Khalistan donors but not India.

But then why blame Sidhu? I read today Prime Minister Narendra Modi saying that Mamata, Akhilesh, Mayawati and Left are ok but not Congress. Mamata, for whom Durga Puja is not a priority and who equates BJP with Taliban; Akhilesh who sees BJP as the biggest danger to democracy; Mayawati who terms Modi as anti-poor; Left’s Sitaram Yechury who calls Modi as the looter of India, are all okay now. All this might win Modi elections. But what about India? What about millions of Hindus who see a threat in these forces and view Modi as their saviour?

Sonia and Rahul Gandhi are making overt gestures to be seen as essentially Hindus. They support the agitation against Supreme Court verdict on Sabrimala; have desisted in backing Sidhu on Kartarpur; Sonia sports a tilak (how ludicrous can it really get) in election rallies; and Rahul Gandhi shows his janau to everyone when none of his previous four generations ever wore it.  All this is for political dividends and certainly not India.

Shiv Sena are now agitated on Ram Mandir. Uddhav Thackeray and his army reached all the way to Ayodhya. Till recently, millions of workers from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, most of whom are Hindus, were anathema to them. Now they can go thousands of miles to support a long-cherished dream of Hindus. The idea is to cut the plank which could help BJP in 2019 elections. Did you really think it was for Hindus or India?

Once in a while we are suffused with hope. Arvind Kejriwal was once such in 2014. He evoked Gandhi; wore muffler and slippers and took on the high and mighty of this land. Now he cartwheels around Mamata and Mayawati. He has made sure if another Kejriwal emerges he would have no chance of gaining people’s affection.  

But then who thinks for India? The ones who bring their garbage in the name of newspapers to our verandahs; the police or judiciary who give a damn to our urgency; the bureaucracy who are nothing better than glorified clerks afraid to put signature to anything meaningful; the NGOs most of whom are forward soldiers of foreign funders or the academia who trade pen for cheques?

Do you think you and I care about India? We would crib about thousands of issues in our air-conditioned rooms but never take that one step towards an agency. What did you last do about the filth in your neighourhood? Or the menace of wild dogs who could mount a concerted attack if you step out in pitched darkness? What do we personally do to reduce pollution or energy-usage? The horror that our schools are for our children? Taught by teachers who equate education with their salary slips? When did we last visit a village where 80 per cent of India still lives?

Politicians, media, judiciary, policy, bureaucracy, civil society and we as individuals are all too many words and too little action. It can’t work; it won’t work. India is stretching itself thin. Almost 18 per cent of world’s humanity is sitting on a volcano of lies and manipulation. The righteous impotence of me right vs.you wrong; your religion vs. my religion; those charlatans who take past quotes out of context and plaster the edit pages; the newspapers who pass on socialites and film actresses as our new Plato and Socrates. Writers have a role if they are impartial and neutral and appeal to reason or logic. Not when it is sold to someone else’s good. As readers we must take the pen out of their hands and give them shovels to dig their own graves.

Indians now need to be real stakeholders if India is to survive. We need to look at issues both personal and impersonal though the line is often blurred.  Personal would involve making our politicians, judiciary, police, media, bureaucracy accountable. Impersonal would mean larger issues such as those of farmers, joblessness etc.. We need citizens’ charters who audit our institutions like accounting firms do to their clients. We need to force our way into decisions our politicians take or the decisions our judiciary delays—for all other reasons except to the benefit of a common man.  We need to show them our anger is no longer limited to our drawing rooms. Trust me, we the faceless would have the attention of thousands of eyes and cameras if we stop them at their gates and demand an answer. Our inertia is our weakness and the only strength they have.

India can go wrong any moment. It could be an ecological disaster or a hostile nuclear-armed neighbourhood. It could be the lava of a largely young nation which frustrated at lack of jobs or coma of our judiciary could bury us all under a thick carpet of violence and breakdown. We surely can’t leave it to our politicians and professors.

Krishna’s aborted concert is no help to Modi or BJP

Carnatic vocalist Thodur Madabusi Krishna has been thrust into national consciousness because Airports Authority of India (AAI) has ducked its responsibility of hosting his music in the Capital. Look at it anyway, this shows the Modi government in poor light.

Krishna’s credentials in the music world are unquestioned. Also beyond a shadow of doubt is his spite against upper caste Hindus and the alternatives he looks for in Christianity and Islam. You could differ from him; but muzzling him is no alternative. If anything, it would only give him more traction and a gathering mass.

Salman Rushdie is a living proof that suppressing a voice only makes it more attractive. His “Midnight’s Children” might have been a tour de force but his global appeal lies because of the fatwa on him by the fundamentalist Islamic forces on his “Satanic Verses.” Most haven’t read him but everyone knows him. He kind of became a rallying force for free speech and freedom around the world.

The fundamentalist Islamic forces had laid down a line in the sand: you cross it at your own peril. No questioning of our religion, our tenets or holy book. They didn’t realize it showed Islam as regressive to the free world. That its’ reactionary forces were relying on “fear factor” more than a voice to reason.

Not that it didn’t work. Hardly anyone stood up for Rushdie. All the free world, top politicians, intellectuals, writers and thinkers were guarded in their support to Rushdie. Most admonished Rushdie that he should’ve been more sensitive to religious sentiments of millions. But the masses turned resentful to Islam and its’ hardline practitioners. It didn’t help Islam—only Rushdie and his bank balance. Possibly endowing him with an enduring fame.

More recently, journalist Jamal Khashoggi was murdered allegedly by the Saudi Arabia government in its consulate in Turkey. If the idea was to silence a dissenting voice, the matter has backfired spectacularly for Saudi government. The world has risen as one, making Saudis change their stances on a daily basis and coming out the worst for it. For one Khashoggi dead, there are a thousand Khashoggis rising in its wake.

History has shown that governments have always feared a powerful liberal voice at crossroads with them. That’s why you have the adage: “Pen is mightier than the sword.” It usually pits them in conflict. It’s also true that authority is the only loser in this war.

Few have any doubts that Krishna was shut out because of his ideology. Few also doubt that trolls went for him. There is also little escaping that AAI developed cold feet. The government may or may not have had any role to play in this both tactical and ethical disaster. But the conclusion was inescapable: a government institution has backtracked and its bosses can’t escape the inference.

Renowned classical dancer Sonal Mansingh, who was due to perform in the concert, hasn’t helped the matter. She has written an edit piece in Indian Express today, suggesting the political agenda which masks Krishna’s music. She has recalled Krishna’s deplorable attacks on Narendra Modi in the past. That Krishna himself is on record of being not in favour of mixing music with politics. She has termed Krishna immoral and hypocritical for acting “as a vicious political activist and claiming the privileges of an artist.”

All this might be true but it still doesn’t address the central question in everyone’s mind. It’s fodder to critics of Modi and BJP and it embarrasses millions who term them progressive. All it has done is to make Krishna more attractive and a potential tool in the hands of liberal mafia. A self-goal if ever there was one.

 

Russia brings Taliban on table as India observes

Russia secured a huge diplomatic victory when it got Taliban to turn up at a meeting on Afghanistan, attended by no less than a dozen countries, in Moscow last Friday.

This was the first time Taliban were face to face with the other side, the government-appointed Afghanistan High Peace Council, in the “Moscow Format” multilateral meeting which lasted less than three hours and was only aimed at kick-starting peace talks.

This was an acknowledgment that Taliban are stronger now than at anytime since 2001 when they faced the wrath of United States who took out the revenge on them for hosting Al Qaeda, the group blamed for 9/11 attacks.

Taliban, who were in power in Afghanistan between 1996-2001, have clawed back to the extent that they now control almost half of Afghanistan and deadly attacks on the Kabul government in recent times—whom they consider to be a US puppet—are at an unprecedented level now.

The Kabul government is in control in only 55% of 407 districts while the rest is largely under Taliban control or influence. Taliban is in no mood to hold direct talks with the Kabul government and stressed they would only hold talks with the US till an agreement on withdrawal of foreign military presence is decided.

The Taliban and US have met twice in July and October this year in order to break through the impasse. In the “Moscow Format” meeting, US turned up as an observer after skipping its first edition last year.

No less than 28,529 Afghan soldiers have been killed since 2015 alone and Taliban’s growing might have forced United States to hold meetings with them in Qatar this year.

Despite over a decade of presence in Afghanistan, United States has achieved little and citizens, caught in the crossfire between Afghan government and Taliban, with US raining bombs and missiles from the sky, have nowhere to go, resigning themselves and their next generation to death any moment.

It’s a horrific situation and a threat to world stability, as Russia perceives Afghanistan could turn out to be a breeding ground for Islamic State (IS) terrorists, planted at the behest of United States, which could wreak havoc in Central Asia and threaten its own backyard.

Russia, historically a foe of Taliban, has tactically succeeded brilliantly in having countries as diverse as Pakistan to India to China to attend the “Moscow Format” meeting.

The Chinese delegate found the Taliban’s demand for withdrawal of troops as reasonable. The Pakistani delegation, seated next to Taliban officials whom they promote openly, stressed the road to peace was a long one. India had sent two non-officials who only observed and didn’t make any statements.

India has close ties with the Afghan government while Pakistan, as said, doesn’t hold itself back in promoting Taliban.

Iran and Russia declared the need for American troops to leave Afghanistan.

Afghan and Taliban delegations were amiable during lunch and tea breaks and acknowledged each other at the table.

Taliban’s resurgence of recent years is a new phase of Afghanistan conundrum. On one hand, it highlights the failure of United States on all fronts—diplomatic, political and militarily, not to speak of turning the country into a heroin/opium/drug supplying outpost to the world which, according to estimates, is now the third biggest of all trades, barring oil and gas, albeit an illegal one.

The newly-appointed American general in charge of US and NATO operations, Gen. Austin Scott Miller recently conceded to NBC News that Afghan war can not be won militarily. “This is not going to be won militarily,” Gen. Miller said, “This is going to be a political situation.”

 

 

 

Deepawali defiance has a grave message

We all know Supreme Court was mocked disdainfully by the citizens on Deepawali as firecrackers dinned in our ears till wee hours next day. There was no adherence to time slots; no indulgence by stealth; a few selfies in social media of individuals standing over the bomb-scraps as a hunter would over a sprawled killed tiger.

This was a serious matter. The vaporous, poisonous air of the Capital was unlikely to get better. The long arm of law loomed big. Spending the Festival of Lights behind a cold, bleak and dark lock-up isn’t quite one’s idea of an adventure. Yet here were citizens thumbing their nose in disdain; preferring faith over law.

Police, it would appear, had given up on enforcement long before it was breached by millions. How do you patrol lanes and streets; verandahs or terraces? Only when fellow residents complained about violating neighbours, did the cops reluctantly hauled themselves up for action. Ignoring a breach was tantamount to risking their own jobs.

The citizens apparently have drawn a line in the sand. They risked legal censure, incarceration, a possible blot on their careers. But let nobody, not even the supreme judicial whip of the land, come between them and their faith.

Even Lutyens’ media couldn’t ignore the masses’ contumacy. Hindustan Times made it a lead story of their edition aptly headlining “Ban Goes Up In Smoke…”. The Times of India too made it the day’s biggest headline, “Most Flout…” The Hindu noted in headline: “Supreme Court restrictions on crackers violated.”

Indian Express was another matter. It chose the story of stray arrests over people’s defiance.  Not a line in their front-page story mentioned of grave violation of Supreme Court order by the masses. All they did was to report how many were booked for violation of the ban across the country.  As if to warn its readers that they would be literally playing with fire next year; as if to engulf them by a sense of fear.   What ought to have been a moment of reflection for them, or judiciary for violating people’s faith, was lost in the enthusiasm to show the punitive arm of the state.

Indian Express ought to have paid heed to their former editor Shekhar Gupta who slammed the judiciary for coming between the people and their faith. In trying to enforce what is un-enforceable. “Do you really see police in our various states entering households, arresting and prosecuting people,” wrote Gupta, admittedly in the wake of Sabrimala, no different from Deepawali in legal crosshair.

So complex, traditional and long-held are the beliefs of millions that Supreme Court is best adviced to leave citizens alone on the matter of religion. Upholding the Constitution on gender equality and grave societal matters is one thing; wading into centuries-long faith is quite another. One shouldn’t come at the cost of the other. And as we know from last year, banning firecrackers didn’t help the Capital’s poisonous air. The known reasons—stubble burning, construction, sand-debris bearing trucks, car emissions—remain unattended. That sends the wrong message of being selective in fight against pollution. More so when the ban, barring a small window of two hours, was not for Delhi NCR alone but covered the entire country.

All this does is to undermine the authority of the judiciary. Judiciary against citizens has only one winner. More so when whispers start gaining volume that Hindus are under a sustained attack on their faith and practices in their own land.

Deepawali, a joyous festival, is second to none in a Hindu calendar, carrying an ethical lesson on good lording over the evil in the form of their supreme deity, Ram. Tragically, the news in newspapers is about seizing of firecrackers, violations and arrests, with the same sense of foreboding as bomb-attacks in our cities, seizures of cache of rifles, machine guns or handcuffed terrorists. It’s a classic case of solutions being worse than the malady.

 

Swami Sanand’s death would sit heavy on Modi’s conscience

(This is a reprint from NewsBred).

We all need to go beyond the death of fasting Swami Sanand (October 11,2018) and the disappointment he carried to his pyre at Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s indifference to his demands for  “Aviral Ganga.”

His no longer can be treated as an unfortunate incident for it throws up a whole lot of disturbing questions about the present ruling dispensation, unethical Congress, the clique of Sadhus and even Shankracharya, and above all an ecological disaster which awaits at least 40 million Indians if Maa Ganga goes.

If you cared to look on Youtube, you would be startled by the lucidity and conviction of the great man, how logical and disappointed he sounded on Prime Ministers, ministers, high bureaucrats, media and his own fraternity of sanyasis and sadhus, how instructional he is to individuals like you and me about trusting no one but yourself in achieving a higher cultural and ecological goal.

Those who hold the Hindu heritage and its revival as their life’s mission; that PM Narendra Modi is the harbinger of that change, would be sorely wounded hearing the great Sage say the project of “there can be no bigger conspiracy than Namami Gange”1 and that over Rs 20,000 crores spent on the holy river since 1986–and hundreds and thousands of crores more in near future–have been such a terrible, colossal waste.

He makes you shudder to the bones when he asks how the holy water, considered essential for a dying Hindu in every household, whose ashes if submerged in the holy river could pave the way for “nirvana”, which makes 10-12 crore devotees gather in faith in a Kumbh Mela; whose bacterial properties are lauded in 11 of 18 Puranas; which Krishna mentions in Bhagwad Gita as a dual image of his own, whose water once remained pure in jars even after decades, is hugely disease-prone today.

His stark questions to Uttarakhand government that it promotes and earns millions in the name of holy tourism in Haridwar and Rishikesh; makes visits of “kanwarias” as a moment to whip up the holy sentiments; and yet makes no attempt to stop hundreds of “barsati naaluhs” (rain-fed drains) from throwing its waste into the holy river; the debris of construction which further pollutes the river; the unbridled sand-mining, is a case of willful corrupt hypocrisy.

To the Central government, he outlines the wrong methodology of measuring the contaminated Ganga water; the hundreds of dams under construction/planned, usurping Ganga’s lands, the obfuscation between a judicial order and the real situation on ground which made him undertake multiple fasts since 2008 when he forsake his identity of G.D. Agarwal, a graduate from Berkley University, an IIT-professor; an original member-secretary of the Central Pollution Control Board, and took to “sanyas” all with the sole purpose of devoting the rest of his life to the service of the mighty river he always addressed as Gangaji or Maa Ganga (“Like all women are not your mother; all rivers are not Gangaji”, is one of his famous euphemism).

He believed implicitly in the vow of PM Narendra Modi on the banks of river Ganga in Varanasi as his “mother” but then over a period of four-and-a-half years saw the uselessness of “Namami Gange”, the same bureaucratic apathy and the same litany of false promises. His first two letters to Modi during his final and fatal fast were initially addressed as “my younger brother” before his final letter took a formal tone. None of them elicited a response.

Politicians cutting across party lines are shown in poor light in various audios and videos which are listed at the end of this article and which are source of all the facts in this article. MatraSadan,here he lived and fasted, issued a transcript of Swami Sanand’s conversation with Union Minister Nitin Gadkari, holding the Ganga Rejuvenation project, which shows a rather disdainful minister.

Swami Sanand’s interview with Madhu Purnima Kishwar mentions how then Union Minister Jairam Ramesh once refused to scuttle a project since Rs. 500 crores had been spent on it. “If money is the issue, we would raise Rs 500 crores for you,” retorted Swami Sanand. “And our commission?” said Ramesh, rather jestily. “We would arrange it too,” sniped back Swami Sanand.

Swami Sanand’s views are readily available on YouTube on how he was forcibly admitted in AIIMS; how visitors couldn’t reach him in hospital even in visitors’ hours unless they were screened; how his faith in fellow sadhus and sanyasis—“all sadhus are dhongis, maukhata lagaye huan hain “(all Sadhus are hypocrites and two-faced)”—and even in his own Guru and Shankracharya—“how my private emails to government were instantly made available to them and how I was subsequently rebuked by them”—was completely eroded by the end of his legendary life. Not to mention environmentalist Sunita Narain who he found making excuses for her absence to Ganga’s cause.

And why this fuss was all about?

Because Swami Sanand scientifically knew more about Gangaji more than ordinary folks in this country do. The holy river which begins in Gangotri glacier in Himalayas’s southern slope and runs through India and Bangladesh, a total distance of 2520 kms, home to 140 different species of fish and 90 species of amphibians, many of them now extinct, is the mother which nurtured India’s civilization for tens of thousands of years. It created the arable lands, lush forests, supported life which allowed the cultural, intellectual and religious magnificence of this country to flourish and endure.

The sediment-rich flow of Ganga and Brahmaputra is the largest known river delta in the world, spanning 59,000 square kilometers, supporting the livelihood of 400 million people. Vedas heavily mention Ganga as a sacred river.

It’s just not water alone—though it’s important enough for who survives without water?—but its’ unique properties. DS Bhargava of University of Roorkee found Ganga to decompose organic waste at a 15-25 rates faster than any other river of the world.

New Delhi’s Malaria Research Center claimed that water taken from Gange’s upper ambit prevented mosquito breeding. British bacteriologist Ernest Hanbury Hankin found out in 1896 that Vibrio Cholerae, a deadly bacterium known to spread Cholera, was killed within three hours after it was added in water from Ganga. He eventually concluded that Ganga—and Yamuna—have been largely responsible for preventing the spread of cholera.

Swami Sanand’s death to Gangaji’s cause was not the first one. Swami Nigmananda had died for a similar cause, seven years ago in 2011.  Swami Sanand’s had famously predicted that Swami Nigmananda’s death would make 10 Nigmananda’s sacrifice their lives. He himself was to be the next in line. The people we choose to effect the change, however, remain indifferent. Ganga remains a dump of our waste. Nothing but a mass resistance would do if Ganga, or India, is to survive.

Reference:

1-  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F7rW0nNkxwU (23.51-24.05)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pzdoc-8kupk

http://thinkworks.in/speakers/gd-agarwal/

Rahul Gandhi now leaves Indian Muslims in lurch

If I was an Indian Muslim, I would have a whole lot of questions today and certainly no answers.

So far, I believed in the pictures of Rahul Gandhi, skull cap and all, in Iftar party breaking his fast, so to speak, at sunset during a day in the Ramadan month. His remarks that Congress is a party of Muslims. Now, I read he said Tuesday in Indore that his party is one of Hinduism.

It raised a whole lot of issues to my mind. Does Congress stand for Muslims, Dalits, Hindus or everyone. So far I have been told the only protectors Muslims have are Congress. They engineered a special protection for my Jammu and Kashmir brethrens and sisters in Indian Constitution. They stood up for Sharia during the Shah Bano case; are most determined for Rohingya refugees; paralyzed the country on Kathua tragedy; stalled the Triple Talaq bill, spotlight every single–half or full–lynching incident in the remotest hamlets of the country. Now they say they are one of Hinduism.

All this while, they dubbed Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) as sectarian and communal even though Narendra Modi never once said he stood only for Hindus. Isn’t Rahul Gandhi now being communal by opening claiming his party is one of Hinduism? Isn’t it polarizing the communities? Widening the gulf of fear and insecurity between practitioners of two religions? Is this the vision of One India or daring of a burglar who wishes to rob the home of 1.3 billions of all its valuables?

Then I look at my newspapers. My day begins with Indian Express, the “journalism of courage.” For the last four years and half, they have reported every single incident against my Muslim community, and Dalits, with sincerity and not a little bit of imagination and creativity. They have marked anniversaries of Dadri, Pehlu or a Junaid by sacrificing the space for news of their front pages. They made sure my Muslim community didn’t forget for a single day the crimes which have been committed against them during the Modi regime (Nor did they Una or Bhima-Koregaon on behalf of Dalits). Indian Express seemed seriously concerned about the future of Indian Muslims.

And look at them, now that Rahul Gandhi has jumped the ship, to my eyes at least, Indian Express choose to completely blank out his Indore comment in today’s edition (31.10.2018). Why didn’t they report Rahul Gandhi for his communal and polarizing comment? Why did they desert me and million of Indian Muslims like me who dread a majoritarian narrative in this country? Could Indian Express be said to be standing up to the idea of secular, free and equal India? Just imagine if Modi had said BJP stands only for Hinduism? (They haven’t allowed him to live down the Kabristan-Shamsaan speech to this day).

If I could ask Indian Express why for a similar offence, BJP is communal and Congress is not. Why give ammunition to right-wingers who claim there is never a pro-Hindu story on your front pages? Why make even your die-hard fans like me and other Indian Muslims doubt your sincerity when you sweep Rahul Gandhi’s all-for-Hinduism comment under the carpet?

I’ve tried to give my faith in Indian Express a second chance. What if your reporter truly miss the Indore event? Extremely unlikely for Rahul didn’t offer his comment in private. It was a press conference. Even if your reporter missed the event, news agencies such as PTI must have brought the news on your teleprinters. On close inspection, I even find this Indore press conference of offensive-comment buried inside your newspaper (Page 8).

Then why did you throw a cloak on this Rahul remark from our views? Why have double standards on BJP and Congress? If you care about us Indian Muslims or the idea of India that you numb our minds daily with, why avoid the searchlight on Mr Rahul Gandhi? Is that an editorial policy or a direction you receive from “Above”? And who’s this “Above”? Does this “Above” have the welfare of us Indian Muslims or India as a whole in mind?

These are all very disturbing questions to my mind. I hope Indian Express takes my fears in the form of questions to Rahul Gandhi. Ask its editorial writers from JNU and Ashoka University; Kancha Ilaiahs or Apoorvanands, to prove they truly speak for us minorities. That their propagation of free and secular India is not fake. Scratch the surface of Kapil Sibal and Shashi Tharoor who are never out of your reach, or representation, in your newspaper on a daily basis.  You could even evoke write-ups from retired professionals such as Justice Fali S. Nariman or Chelameswar, ex-cop Julio Ribeiro, ex-election commissioner S.Y. Quraishi etc who don’t even need an invitation to fill your editorial pages.

After all, you are “journalism of courage.” You profess to stand up for us minorities. You claim to care for a free and secular India. The proof of burden that  you don’t write on behalf of Muslims and Dalits only when it suits you.

Does Manmohan care about India or Congress?

Does Manmohan Singh care about India or Congress?

If he cared about India, he would’ve earned the gratitude of a billion-plus Indians by stepping down as Prime Minister as his party spawned a million scams.

He would’ve done more than offer a mere apology for the 1984 Sikh genocide and certainly made sure he didn’t share the same stage with Sajjan Kumar, a prime accused as 3000 Sikhs were lynched in the Capital.

He would’ve addressed his countrymen at important junctures of his 10-year rule and not been a mere statue who didn’t react even as Rahul Gandhi tore up his government’s ordinance and humiliated him in public.

Such a background of his is not in consonance with his daily tirade against communal violence and mob lynching that he accuses have become widespread under the regime of Narendra Modi.

If he cared about India, he would’ve confessed to the citizens that the worst 18 communal riots in independent India’s history came while his party was in power. Six of the worst communal riots occurred while Dr. Singh was the Prime Minister. In 2012, there were 640 incidents of communal violence. A year later, the number was 473 in 2013.

As for lynchings which has Dr. Singh most upset about, he showed no such remorse when 25 lives were lost to mob-lynchings in 2012 itself.

This doesn’t seem a man in love with India. This is the picture of a dishonest man who yearns for a secular, plural and equal India but wouldn’t utter a word about Kashmiri Pundits who have been driven out of their own land. His plurality beats a hasty retreat when Hindus face communally marginalization in states such as Bengal and Kerala. He bemoans Kathua and Unnao but has no time for unfortunate rapes in Uri or in a madarsa. He would rather have a secret dinner with a top Pakistani politician than make a point to them about martyred soldiers and their unfortunate widows, victims of terrorists from our neighbours.

Those who profess by Dr. Singh for his honesty and integrity must be told the difference between the two traits. You are honest if you told your wife you cheated. But you lack integrity when you cheat on your wife, nevertheless. Honesty is convenient; integrity is the stuff a man is made of.

Now 86, Dr. Singh needs a mirror that reflects his true self to him. He has lived in shadows and deceptions for too long. He owes his allegiance to Congress, and not to India. His countrymen know better of him than a compromised mainstream media and academia of the land.

 

Aadhaar Act: SC may have to take another call

The Aadhaar issue is far from settled despite Supreme Court ruling on its validity and necessity under the Constitutional norms on Wednesday.

The ruling Modi government would go at breakneck speed in firewalling the data protection so it could approach Supreme Court again on removing the ban on private companies from accessing the users’ data. The opposition Congress, through its protagonist P. Chidambaram, in all probability would challenge the Aadhaar Bill being introduced in SC as a Money Bill in order to bypass the Rajya Sabha.

On Wednesday, Supreme Court has cleared the Aadhaar Act but barred private companies, such as banks and telecoms, from accessing the users’ data as was enabled by Section 57 of the bill. Supreme Court had also ruled that decision of (Lok Sabha) Speaker to certify Aadhaar Bill as Money Bill is open to judicial review.

Supreme Court clamping down on Section 57 wouldn’t please the ruling NDA government. The Supreme Court ought to have asked for a stronger privacy and data protection measures rather than bar private companies from mining Aadhaar. All the world’s technology giants, be it Facebook or Google, Alibaba or Tencent, have been empowered by their governments to control global businesses. India’s only chance is with Aadhaar: after all it enabled a newcomer like Reliance Jio to build a 200-million users’ base for its telecom operations. India’s UPI, RuPay and Bhim platforms are today earning world’s respect only because of users’ Aadhaar being available to them. Supreme Court ruling makes Aadhaar cost-effective but not profit-enabled.

As for the Money Bill part of the Aadhaar ruling, Congress would be encouraged by the dissenting note of Justice Y. Chandrachud who declared it a Constitutional fraud and illegality. (If one could ask, what’s so Constitutionally upright about Collegium System where judges choose judges?). Chidambaram and his ilks are unlikely to let go the opportunity of Aadhaar as Money Bill being open to “judicial review.”

Readers must also remember the dichotomy of Congress/Opposition position vis-à-vis Aadhaar. It was alright for them—and the Lutyens’ Media—to allow Right To Information (RTI) where the privacy of a petitioner is compromised. The privacy and dignity of an individual doesn’t matter to them on RTI. But they have used it as a handle to obstruct the march of Aadhaar.

And if one could ask, what about the private data of millions which UPA collected without committing themselves to Aadhaar in pre-Modi era? Wasn’t it foul, fraud and illegal given that it hadn’t obtained a judicial consent?

The fact is that because of Aadhaar, no longer the beneficiary receives only 15 paisa of the Rs 1 allocated to him. The Modi government has already saved upwards of Rs 90,000 crores from leakages and frauds in the benefit schemes. As per a World Bank report, Aadhaar could save upwards of Rs 11 billion in exchequer’s outflow of funds to the really poor—and not fill the coffers of ghost and duplicate entities. Today, the dole-outs are auditable. Fake ration cards and MGNREGS job cards are no longer working, saving the tax-payers’ hard-earned money. If Chidambaram could explain, how could benefits be paid without identifying the beneficiary?

As for Justice Y. Chandrachud’s critique, just a mere suspicion of constitutional and legal impropriety is not enough to overturn or jeopardize countless schemes and billions invested in enabling technology. If other Judges had gone along with Justice Y. Chandrachud, it would have caused chaos and havoc, not to mention billions of taxpayers’ money going down the drain. Judiciary needs to uphold laws and Constitution but not when its’ at odds with the larger interest of poor and society. Laws are for the citizens; not the other way around.

 

Yogendra Yadav hits a new low with his lies

Yogendra Yadav has the cultivated voice of an actor who is dressed up in a kurta-pyjama, made distinctive by his non-use of politicians’ whites. He was part of the troika with Prashant Bhushan and Arvind Kejriwal before the once-mufflerman got rid of them. He has since formed Swaraj India, so anonymous it could challenge an IAS-aspirant in its quiz test.  News networks such as NDTV and India Today are the ones who keep him going. But for some elections, somewhere in India, at any time of the year, Yadav would go unnoticed on a busy street.

I do find him sometimes on The Wire and the Firstpost, slightly amused when he sings paeans in praise of Jignesh Mewani; and definitely irked when he distorts history to run down Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) as he did in his edit-piece in the Hindu on Wednesday.

Yadav must be reading from the dubious books of Romila Thapar and Irfan Habib to suggest that since its inception in 1925, RSS has never been part of a national movement. Which national movement sir, the one where we didn’t seek complete independence from British but only sought dominion status? (truth to tell, India was still a dominion to British empire on August 15, 1947).

If Yadav remembers the year of RSS formation, he also ought to have told his readers that it came in the backdrop of Khilafat movement (1921-24) where Muslim leadership was appeased to the extent that Moplah rebellion occurred which butchered thousands of Hindus.

The slaughters were so macabre that this is what Madras High Court noted after the event: “…(these) murderous attack indicate something more than mere fanaticism…the only survivors were those who either got away or were left as dead.”

Yadav then does the cheap act of lampooning Veer Savarkar for seeking mercy from the British in the Cellular Jail of Andaman and Nicobar Islands and thereafter meekly follow the conditions imposed on him. Doesn’t Yadav know that only the most dangerous prisoners were kept in that “kaala paani” jail? That Savarkar, unlike Nehru who was given a bungalow with his choicest curtains and a garden in his jail-term, was a prisoner marked D (dangerous) and went through most unspeakable cruelties: flogged, manacled, made to eat gruel which was riddled with worms?

As for his mercy petitions, it is known to everyone but the fake history peddlers that Savarkar’s clemency pleas were a tactical ploy like Shivaji’s letter to Aurangzeb during his arrest in Agra as he didn’t want his life’s mission to end behind bars.

Yadav would like us to believe that Savarkar went quiet and obeyed British after he was released. In fact Savarkar spent 27 years in jail and under prison-restricts terms between 1910-1937. He helped found the Ratnagiri Hindu Sabha and worked ceaselessly against caste discrimination and untouchability in the years which Yadav terms as “quiet.”

Yadav has a problem with Savarkar and his Hidutva philosophy but wouldn’t tell readers that one of India’s tallest freedom fighter was a self-avowed atheist! He would not mention how Savarkar was wrongly implicated in Mahatma Gandhi’s murder.

Yadav then tars Shyama Prasad Mookerjee for “collaborating” with Britsh during 1942 Quit India stir which he terms as the “biggest anti-colonial uprising.” A view has lately gained ground that “Quit India” was as phoney as “non-cooperation” and “civil disobedience” movement, meant only to vent out the frustration of Indians. Quit India stir was a desperate attempt of Congress which had committed the grave error of resigning from its’ provincial governments in 1939.  Without a say in national politics, and with Muhammad Ali Jinnah and British in alliance, Congress whipped up Quit India just to stay relevant. As soon as it was launched, all of its leaders were put behind bars. Jinnah got a free field to pursue—and finally accomplish—his dream of a Pakistan.

As for RSS playing no role in 1942 Quit India movement, let Aruna Asaf Ali’s words debunk Yadav’s claim. Aruna Asaf Ali had revealed that RSS Delhi sangachalak Lala Hansraj Gupta had given her shelter in his own house during the 1942 Quit India. Prominent Congressmen like Achutrao Patwardhan, despite being a strong critic of RSS, and others were kept safe in swayamsewaks’ homes.  Be it food, safety or in illness, RSS stood like a wall in safeguarding Congress leaders.

Yadav has no qualms in besmirching the reputation of Mookerjee who saved Hindus by championing the cause of Bengal partition after the Muslim League government of Bengal butchered and raped thousands of Hindus in the Great Calcutta Killings of 1946. Mookerjee was the man who set up 5000 relief kitchens during the 1943 Great Bengal Famine of 1943.

Yadav then trains his guns on Nathuram Godse-RSS connection. He would never tell the readers that Godse left RSS because it considered the latter to be a “coward.” As per the Justice Jeevanlal Kapur-headed 1969 Government-appointed Commission report, not only RSS was not involved in Gandhi’s murder but “in Delhi also there is no evidence that RSS as such was indulging in violent activities as against Mahatma Gandhi or top Congress leaders.”

And this man has the gall to call RSS an anti-national. What do you think we should call you Mr Yadav?

Hope Express has not let Vishal Bhardwaj down

Indian Express is letting itself down so badly on the ethics of journalism that it’s a cause for concern for its loyal readers, more so since the Press Council of India (PCI) and Editors’ Guild appears an acquiescing party due to its silence.

Indian Express has a bottom-spread on its Monday’s Delhi edition where excerpts of film-maker Vishal Bhardwaj’s comments at Express Adda are quoted. The headline states: “TV News comedy circus…maybe Cinema must tell truth” (attributed to Bhardwaj).

However, Bharadwaj’s quote in the text-copy of the story states: “…present-day journalism…feels like a comedy show, it’s like a comedy circus.” Nowhere, Bhardwaj mentions TV news. He mentions present-day journalism. The readers have no way of knowing if Bhardwaj didn’t have Indian Express itself in mind, for all you know.

I suggest readers to read the full story.  Real quotes are added and subtracted to expand or reduce the newspaper’s own agenda/interpretation. For example, see this para below:

That was one of Bollywood’s most political filmmakers, Vishal Bhardwaj, opening up at the Express Adda Friday on why the industry hesitates to speak up when political controversies impact mainstream films such as Ae Dil E Mushkil, which faced calls for bans due to the casting of a Pakistani actor, and Padmavat, which withstood protests for its portrayal of Rajput queen Padmavati.

I have no way of knowing if Bhardwaj did take the name of films such as Ae Dil E Mushkil or Padmavat to make his point (for the full interview would only appear later this week) or whether the newspaper is adding this name to buttress its point/agenda. The above para of the newspaper insinuates he did though I seriously doubt so.

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Same is the case in another front page story Indian Express has on Monday, headlined: Godhra line in book: FIR against four for “misleading students on beloved PM.” This is on an academic book in circulation in Assam.

Just looking at this headline, it would appear the state is trying to muzzle the freedom of speech, neutrality of academic-text books, all because PM Narendra Modi has been portrayed in poor light.

Indian Express, in its report, doesn’t touch the concerned “line in book” till they are in the second-half of the story. The first half is all about a “well-known…90-year-old renowned publisher” and a description of three authors who have been “heads of political science department” of established colleges in Assam. (Shades of a certain retired son of a headmaster in the Valley by the name of Burhan Wani).

So here comes the relevant para on Godhra in the book which offended a couple of citizens enough to file an FIR against the authors and publishers:

“In this incident (burning of coach) 57 persons died including women and children. On the suspicion that Muslims were behind the incident, next day Muslims were mercilessly attacked in different parts of Gujarat. This violence continued for over a month and over a thousand people were killed. Most of those killed were Muslims. Significantly at the time of the violence, the Narendra Modi-led BJP government was a silent spectator. Morever, there were allegations that the state administration helped the Hindus.”

Now let’s look at the FIR which states: “It’s well-known to you that Special Investigation Team (Sit) under the supervision of Supreme Court gave clean-sheet on PM Narendra Modi (sic) dated September 12, 2011, on the issue.”

Aren’t the complainants appear rightful on all counts to go ahead and file the FIR? By terming Modi government as silent spectator, aren’t authors suggesting complicity even as the Supreme Court gave a verdict to the contrary, giving clean chit to Modi, no less than seven years back? Doesn’t such mis-representation would only potentially lead to Hindu-Muslims tensions, may be communal clash and certainly a polarization between the two largest religious groups in the country? And what about the innocent children who are thus poisoned by half-truths? In a state, as sensitive to Hindu-Muslim polarization as Assam is?

Not a day passes by when I don’t read such reports in Indian Express which makes me squirm in my chair. As a practicing journalist, I see one guiding hand behind the reporters, sub-editors, headline-givers and positioning of stories on front-pages making them work in sync in antipathy to BJP/RSS. Whosoever this hand is: An activist editor, his employer and his leanings, or the forces keeping the newspaper in an ideological bind or otherwise, the fact is, it is anything but journalism. And that’s a betrayal most heinous to its readers by any newspaper in circulation.